Savoury

15-minute Healthy Veggie Soup


Now who does not love those recipes that can be thrown together in under 15 minutes flat? This soup is one such recipe and is ideal for cold winter evenings when cooking a 6 course dinner is the last thing you want to do after slogging in office for the whole day.

It is actually a very good appetizer and can keep the flu, cough and cold at bay. It also works wonders for the days when you have already caught a cold, have a runny nose and want something warm and comforting to fill your tummy.

The fresh and crunchy winter veggies make the soup taste divine yet is super healthy so you can enjoy it without any guilt whatsoever. It is practically fat free except for one teaspoon of olive oil.


I have used very few spices in this recipe so that the intrinsic flavour of the raw ingredients is retained and the spices not only enhance the taste but are super healthy by themselves as well.


Bay leaf is used in many Indian recipes and I just love its mild flavour. Our weekend special Masala Chai at home is made extra special with the awesome flavour of Bay leaf. It also somehow makes the viscosity of the milk based tea just right and we just swoon over our delicious cup of masala chai. https://www.healthline.com/health/5-possible-uses-for-bay-leaf


Black Pepper is a super-spice and hundreds of years ago, traders considered black pepper the king of spices calling it “black gold,” It is a powerhouse of health benefits and helps to add a distinct earthy and balanced hotness to any dish.
https://www.healthline.com/health/black-pepper-king-of-spices


Chopping up the vegetables is the only time taking part of this recipe. That will take around 5 to 6 minutes and the cooking time is around 10 minutes. So overall this is a super quick recipe resulting in an extremely healthy and tasty soup!

Preparation time: 6minutes.
Cooking Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Ingredients:
1. 1 Orange carrot
2. 8 to 10 French Beans
3. 1 Red Onion
4. 4 to 5 Garlic cloves
5. 7 to 8 Green Onion leaf
6. 2 Green Chilli
7. 1 sprig of Fresh Coriander Leaves.
8. 1 Bay Leaf
9. 5 to 6 Walnuts
10. Freshly Crushed Black Pepper (To taste)
11. Salt (To taste)
12. ½ tsp dry mango powder
13. 1 tsp Olive oil
14. 5 to 6cups water
15. 1 cup chicken Stock(Optional)

Method:
• Start by dicing the carrots and chopping all the vegetables mentioned in the ingredients except the garlic.


• Heat up the water and keep it ready to use.
• In a sauce pan put in the olive oil and add the bay leaf.
• Add the garlic cloves and fry till light golden.


• Next add the sliced onions and fry till translucent.
• Add the carrots and the beans and stir.
• Sautee the vegetables for a minute or so and then add the hot water or the stock.
• Add coarsely chopped walnuts, dry mango powder ,salt and freshly crushed black pepper according to your taste.
• Bring the soup to a boil for 3 to 4 minutes and then add the chopped green onion leaves as if they are added near the end they will maintain their crunch.
• Check the salt and add some more black pepper if necessary.
• Garnish with slit green chillis and fresh coriander leaves.
• Serve hot with bread sticks or croutons or just as it is.

P.S
1.This quantity will make around two standard soup bowls full of soup.
2.You can add any vegetables of your choice as this is a very customisable recipe.
3. If you want an added protein kick throw in some shredded boiled chicken and you will have a wonderful chicken soup.
4. The walnuts give a great texture to this soup and I just loved their taste together with the vegetables.

Baked Goodies · Desserts

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

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One of my best friend from school was in town and I was super excited about meeting her after nearly 2 years. She and her hubby were invited for lunch at our place on a weekend and my brain was working overtime about the goodies that I was going to make for them. I really wanted to try out a new flavour combination for the cake I was going to bake. After a lot of thinking I zeroed down on lemon and poppy seed which seems to be quite a popular combination amongst the bakers. Also, I came across a new term on Instagram called “The Naked Cake”. I was extremely intrigued by this term and decided to do some research. It turns out that I have been consistently making stark naked cakes as by definition it is a cake without or barely there frosting.

(https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-a-naked-cake-and-why-is-it-naked-244010)

(https://www.stylesweetca.com/blog/2016/1/6/how-to-make-a-naked-cake)

I persistently make extremely simple and rustic cakes and avoid fillings and frosting just so that I can eat my cake with minimum guilt. So I was super happy to know that the cakes that I make are part of a trend!

Recently a new niggle some worry has cropped up. My allergy to egg yolks has reared up its ugly little head. For past few months, I had been ignoring it but a recent flair up made me realize that I really need to take it seriously. So I decided my cakes will be made only with egg whites henceforth. (as far as possible).

For some time now I was thinking about making healthy baked goodies as after last year’s job-related relocation to my hometown I gained some unwanted weight. So now there is a constant clash inside my mind between my urge to bake and the urge to lose weight. So I decided I have to find a middle path so that my passion is not curtailed and I can lead a healthy life as well. Also according to psychologists for people whole love to bake for others, the process is a stress reliever and it can help ease the presence of sad thoughts.  This article explained a lot of things which I guess I already knew but had never thought about extensively.

(https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/baking-for-others-psychology_us_58dd0b85e4b0e6ac7092aaf8)

Now back to the lemon poppy seed cake. I have used some alternative ingredients in this recipe and tried to cut down on the butter and used olive oil instead. Instead of using only all-purpose flour I have added some oats flour which gave the cake a different texture. The crunch and taste of the poppy seed is very unique and I was a bit apprehensive about the overall resulting taste. Luckily the combination of fragrant lemons and the nutty flavour of the crunchy poppy seeds gave this a cake a very different but yummy flavour.

The lemons that I have used in this recipe are special as they are organic and homegrown and gifted to us by a senior colleague at a recent office picnic. So the heavenly fragrance of these lemons has added an extra dimension to this cake. You can use any type of lemon and lime as you want in your recipe only adjust the quantity of lemon juice you add in as all lemons are not equally tangy.

 I have added a simple lemon glaze on top of the loaf cake which gives an added tangy kick and a super shine to this scrumptious flavourful cake. Now I am really looking forward to trying out new flavour combinations and adding a healthy twist to my cakes. So now my friends please read on to know my version of Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.

Preparation time: 20 minutes.Baking Time: 30 minutesIngredients:
  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour (100 gms)
  • ½ cup Oats Flour (50 gms)
  • 1 ½ tsp Baking powder
  • 2 tbsp Poppy Seeds
  • ½ tsp Baking soda
  • ¾ cup Brown Sugar + 2 tbsp powdered sugar (for the glaze)
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • Lemon Juice (3 tbsp.)+ 4 tsp(for the glaze)
  • Lemon Zest of 2 lemons for the batter +1 lemon’s zest for the glaze
  • Melted Butter 3 tbsp
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • ½ cup fresh yoghurt
  • Mixing Bowls, mixing spoons, loaf tin, hand whisk/electric whisk.
  • Oil/melted butter for greasing the loaf tin.
  • deliciousfoodwithginia1.jpgMethod:
  • Baking seems to be a less formidable task if you start by keeping all the ingredients on your work counter and all the mixing bowls, spoons, whisk etc ready.
  • Grease the loaf tin with melted butter or oil. (I used a loaf tin but you can use any type of cake mould you want)
  • Sieve the flour, baking powder and baking soda together and mix in the oats flour in a large dry mixing bowl.
  • Mix the lemon zest and the poppy seeds with the flour mixture
  • Beat the egg whites with a hand-held electric whisk till light and fluffy and add in the brown sugar bit by bit. It takes around 4 to 5 minutes with an electric one and around 10 minutes with a manual whisk.
  • In a separate bowl whisk the yoghurt with a fork and mix it in the beaten egg whites and keep on whisking at a low speed.
  • Next mix in the melted butter, lemon juice and whisk to have a foamy and light mixture.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180o (I use a microwave oven in the convection mode)
  • Now add the flour mix prepared earlier into the egg white mixture bit by bit and keep on whisking at a low speed.
  • Add in the olive oil when your cake mixture will get a pourable and smooth texture. Be careful not to overmix the batter. If the batter is too viscous you can add some milk.
  • Now pour the batter into the grease and bake at 180oC for 25 minutes. At this point test the middle of the cake with a toothpick or a cake tester and if it does not come out dry bake for 5 more minutes.
  • When the cake is baked perfectly, take it out of the oven/ let it cool down and demould.
  • Keep the fragrant lemon loaf cake on a cooling rack and prepare the glaze in the meanwhile.
  • Now as with any other cake the waiting part will be very difficult as the smell of freshly baked cake is very tempting and there is a great urge to cut he cake and eat it immediately. But it is better to wait for a while as if you attempt to slice a cake which is too hot you might end up breaking the cake and you will not get neat slices.
  • To prepare the glaze mix 2 tbsp of powdered sugar with 4 tsp of lemon juice and mix until the sugar is dissolved and you have a shiny and tangy lemony glaze ready to be drizzled on the top surface of the loaf cake. You might have to add some extra lemon juice if the sugar does not dissolve and mix vigorously.
  • Drizzle the glaze onto the cake and grate the lemon zest on the top of the cake and enjoy your yummy, tangy, nutty super soft and moist Lemon Poppy Loaf cake.
  • 2(1).jpgP.S
  • You can leave out the poppy seeds if you are allergic or if it is not easily available but if you can do try this flavour combination as the nutty flavour and the crunch really enhances this loaf cakes overall flavour range.
  • If you want to make this cake totally eggless then you have to add more yoghurt but I have not tested that substitution as of yet so cannot say how exactly it will turn out.
  • 1(1)2.jpg
  • Random Thoughts

    Foods for Haircare (for the Lazy Girl)

                 
    My earliest memory related to hair care is my mother trying very hard to massage warm coconut oil into my tresses and scalp, with me wiggling around like an eel! Now there was a tradition in our house that before shampooing your hair you have to apply coconut oil. And I vehemently hated the process! It was a constant fight with my mother and finally, very reluctantly I would ultimately give in and be drenched into a headful of coconut oil.

     Now that I recall those days I realize how lucky I was and feel deeply repentant for my behavior. Throughout my growing years, I hated my hair type and wistfully looked at my friends with straight and silky hair. How I wished that God would bless me with curtain-like hair that swishes around like a horse’s tail! (My hair type is actually thick and wavy with a very strong mind of its own)

                    Then in my late teen years, I discovered the magical instrument called the Straightening Iron or as we call it the Hair Straightener. It was during my sister’s wedding that I first got my hair ironed from a professional beauty parlour and loved the effect. But this magical wand came with its fair share of fear and paranoia of going bald in the long run. So I used it sparingly and my search for beautiful hair elixir and DIYS continued.

                    When I started to live alone in a strange city for my job, I would remember my mother’s efforts behind my now strong and healthy hair and felt really amazed at what a spoilt brat I was! So paying tribute to coconut oil I oiled my hair once a week for the first two years of my living alone. Even then my quest for the hair of my dreams continued.

                    Then one day it was at the salon that I heard about this new miraculous protein treatment for managing unruly hair and getting relaxed, tameable tresses. I was very skeptical and the going bald paranoia returned. So I did some extensive research and went through with the treatment. The protein infused into the hair strand making them smoother and more manageable. I will not lie that I was extremely happy with the results and I can safely say that it worked like magic on my hair and for the first time in my life I loved my hair. Now, it was after this that I got to know the magic trick behind having happy healthy hair always. As a post-treatment care, I was advised to use Sulphate Free Shampoos (SLS-free). This, my friends, is the golden piece of advice that few hairstylists give us, because if all girls become happy with their hair the beauty parlours and salons will be out of business.

                    So ever since I have switched over to using sulphate free shampoos, of which there are few brands which have done wonders for my hair. You can reach out to me through email or through social media to get my suggestions about the brands. Now I go to the parlour only for very occasional blow dries and love my hair the way it is. There is one more magical tool in my arsenal and that is the air-styler. It is actually a combination of a paddle brush and a hair drier. Immediately after washing my hair and towel drying I use this brush to dry my hair and automatically my hair is tamed and manageable. For the bangs sometimes the straightening iron does come out but it is no longer my crutch.

                    There is one more lifestyle change that has greatly helped me with my hair-woes. And that change is including nutritious food in my diet which does wonders for the hair and skin. I consciously eat seasonal fruits on a regular basis together with a healthy dose of nuts, eggs, and fish. Also water plays a huge role in not only your overall health but also helps the skin and hair. I really believe that water is a miraculous drink and try to drink at least 4 litres of water in a day.

             Now I rarely oil my hair or go in for expensive hair treatments but I can safely say that at this stage of my life I am the happiest with my hair and my purse is happy too.

    (**Some images are from https://burst.shopify.com)

    Baked Goodies · Savoury

    Stuffed Chicken Roast


    As far back as I can remember in my cooking and baking days I was always fascinated with the idea of cooking a whole chicken! In my teenage years, it was during the Durga Puja Festivals one year when I had planned on making the famous Mughlai dish the “Murgh Mussallam” which literally means “whole chicken”. As everyone will remember in those days’ information was not as easily available as now. So it took a lot of effort in my part to search for a do-able recipe but due to some unfortunate turn of events, I never got around to making it.

    Fast forward 10 years and it was my first job posting in Jaipur, Rajasthan where a sweet neighbor of mine had gone to a great deal of trouble to prepare Murgh Mussallam for a New Year house party and I observed her labouring over the whole chicken for quite some time! And how we ate at that New Year’s party is a different gastronomical story altogether! Now I’m back to my hometown Kolkata and it was the festive month of December when my past urge to cook a whole chicken returned with a gusto. This time I was very determined to not only bake the whole chicken but stuff it too! So my search for the perfect recipe began.

     I found that the internet is flooded with lots of information and recipes of stuffed roast chicken but I could not find the one which suited me perfectly. I took a different approach and began to make my own recipe. In this journey, I have been inspired by several recipes on different websites including ChristinasCucina(https://www.christinascucina.com/rosemary-citrus-roast-chicken-overnight/) and Allrecipes(https://www.allrecipes.com/). This recipe can be divided into three main parts the marinade, the stuffing and the main process of baking/roasting the chicken. This is a fairly simple and easy recipe but it requires some pre-planning and lots of patience!

    I made this much awaited stuffed chicken roast as a pre-Christmas treat on the weekend before Christmas. Now it might seem to be a fairly intimidating dish to pull off. But believe me when I say this you will simply blow people away with the awesomeness of this golden and crispy skinned chicken with soft juicy meat and stuffing which is great to eat even by itself! The most important thing that is required on this recipe is Courage. If you have that you will just sail through this recipe and your family will be kissing your hands and licking their fingers!

    Preparation time: 30 minutes (excluding overnight marination time)

    Baking/Roasting Time: 1 hr to 1 hr 15 min.

    Ingredients:

    For the Marinade you will need:

    1. Juice of 1 orange,
    2. Juice and zest of 1 Gondhoraj* Lebu/Lime,
    3. Juice of 1 lemon,
    4. Slices of Gondhoraj Lebu/Lime,
    5.  8 to 10 cloves of peeled garlic,
    6. Salt (To taste)
    7. Freshly crushed black pepper (To taste)
    8. Dried rosemary (1 tbsp)
    9. 1 whole Chicken (1 kg) with the skin and its innards cleaned.

    For the stuffing you will need:

    1. Butter=75gm
    2. Bread Cubes=4 cups.
    3. 1 medium-sized red onion chopped.
    4. 2 sticks of leek /spring onions 5 to 6 chopped.
    5. Fresh Button Mushroom’s 8 to 10 diced.
    6. 6 to 7 Walnut’s chopped
    7. Dried Cranberries
    8. Chopped celery and coriander leaves = 1 sprig of each
    9. 1 egg
    10. ½ cup milk
    11. 1 Dried Bay Leaf/ Tez patta
    12. ½ tbsp Brown sugar
    13. Salt (To taste)
    14. Freshly crushed Black Pepper (To taste)

    Other Ingredients

    1. Butter Cubes 1 cup(100gm)
    2. Melted Butter or olive oil 1/ 4 cup for basting
    3. Honey 2 tbsp
    4. Mixing Bowls, mixing spoons, roasting tin/tray
    5. 1 piece of thick bread end.

    Method:

    • Start by first washing and cleaning the chicken thoroughly. Be careful that you wash the inner parts and the skin very well.
    • Then pat dry the chicken with a paper towel.
    • Take a large bowl (glass/ plastic) and mix all the ingredients of the marinade i.e the orange juice, gondhoraj lebu/lime juice and zest, lemon juice, crushed garlic pods, salt, pepper and rosemary.
    • Coat the chicken with the marinade. Pull the skin slightly and push in few pods of crushed garlic below the skin randomly. In the inner cavity of the chicken put the lime/ gandhoraj lebu wedges and crushed garlic pods and make sure the marinade is well coated in the inside as well.
    • Seal the bowl with cling film and put into the refrigerator at least overnight. I marinated the chicken for 24 hours. Do not forget to turn the chicken over at least once during the marination period.
    • When you are ready to roast the chicken remove it from the refrigerator at least 2 hrs prior to cooking it. Remove lemon/ lime wedges from the inner cavity.
    • Rub butter cubes on the entire outer surface of and push in few of the cubes underneath the skin.
    • For the stuffing, melt butter in a pan and add the bay leaf. Add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Then add the mushrooms, leek, celery and cook at high flame until soft. Mix in the bread cubes and fry. Beat the egg and add it into the mixture at a low flame and mix well. Add the milk and increase the flame and keep stirring. When the mixture is dry add the chopped walnuts, cranberries, salt, pepper, and chopped coriander and remove from heat.
    • It is important to remember that you should not cool the stuffing and spoon it directly into the cavity of the prepared chicken.
    • You can sew the cavity of the chicken shut with twine or a thick thread. But I used an easier hack. Just wedge the end tough piece of bread at the opening of the chicken cavity pushing in the stuffing. Don’t worry if it is a bit loose.
    • Sprinkle some salt and freshly crushed black pepper on the chicken.
    • Preheat the oven to 400°F or 230°C.
    • Place the chicken on a low rack over a roasting tray and bake at 230°C for 15 minutes.
    • Then reduce the temperature to 375°F or 180°C and bake for 1 hour.
    • It is important to remember that in every 15 minutes have to baste the chicken i.e brush the entire surface with the remnant marinade and melted butter. This will help to keep the chicken soft and moist.
    • At the 45 minute mark turn the chicken around to get even browning of all the surfaces

    • For the last basting of the chicken, you can mix some honey with the melted butter and brush the chicken with the mixture. This will give the loveliest caramelized golden brown roast chicken ever.
    • After 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes the chicken will be cooked thoroughly.
    • Carve the chicken with a sharp knife and serve with toast(optional) and roast potatoes
    • At the end, my roasted chicken had caramelized golden brown crispy skin with very juicy, tender flesh and yummy scrumptious stuffing inside.