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13 August 2010

Homemade granola, at last - with homemade applesauce

 

 
I am not a big fan of store bought cereals. However I do stock whole wheat flakes and unsweetened cornflakes for breakfast in a hurry. Buying boxed cereals with sugar and salt overload are totally avoidable as the first meal of the day. Oats is another regular during breakfast hours. That is one thing the husband has mastered in microwave cooking - Oats, frozen peas, masalas of choice, water and microwave for 4 minutes or so - for a bowl full of fibre, protein and good carbs. I prefer my oats slightly sweetened with jaggery, cooked with milk and cinnamon. When I saw this recipe for granola on Nigella Lawson's show - combining cereals with nuts, seeds, spices - I knew I had to try this. But it turned out to be one of those ideas that keep sitting on the back burner - waiting for the right moment, to be explored. Early this week, sufficiently inspired, I went to the store and bought the necessary ingredients - Oats, cornflakes, apples, sesame seeds for the rest of the stuff I already had at home.

 
Ever since the waxed, coated and 'sitting in cold storage for god knows how long' apples from US and NZ have flooded the markets, I have totally given up apples. I hate the shiny waxy skin, I hate the pasty texture and total lack of taste. But Shimla apples are another breed altogether - they are the perfect combination of juicy, crisp and sweet and I bought 2 kilos. The timing was perfect as I could use a couple of them to make applesauce to hold the garnola together. [Recipe for applesauce at the end of the post]

The resultant breakfast in a bowl is very high in fibre from the whole grains and wheat germ, the sesame seeds are rich in calcium, iron, vitamin B1 and zinc. The taste is absolutely superlative with subtle sweetness from natural sugars in jaggery, honey, apple and the spicy sweetness of cinnamon. Try this once and I guarantee you will never buy the cardboard shards sold in the name of Muesli in supermarkets here.


 

 
Here's my recipe - adapted from Nigella Lawson's - Andy's Fairfield Granola

 
Special equipment
Pressure cooker if making applesauce at home (preferable for quickly stewing apples)
Two large baking trays atleast 9X9

 
Ingredients
500 g Rolled oats ( I used Saffola brand)
2 cups unsweetened corn flakes or wheat flakes
1 cup wheat bran ( I used Baggrey's )
100 g sesame seeds (or roughly 1/3rd cup)-lightly toasted in a wok for 1 minute
1/2 cup - mixture of almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews - chopped in bits

 
1/2 cup jaggery dissolved in 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sunflower or any neutral oil
1 cup applesauce or make your own from 2-3 apples (Recipe below)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp dried ginger powder
1 tsp salt

 
1 cup mix of dried apricot bits / raisins / sultananas or any other dried berries

 
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven at 200 C.
  2. In the largest bowl you have, mix the oats, wheatflakes, nuts, toasted sesame seeds.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the jaggery water, honey, oil, applesauce, ground ginger and cinnamon and salt.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients in the large bowl and mix with two serving spoons or with your hands, until the spices and liquids have thoroughly coated all of the cereals and nuts.
  5. Line the baking trays with aluminium foil.
  6. Distribute the granola mix between the two trays, pressing down well.
  7. Bake each tray for around 30 minutes at 200 C - keeping a watch that the granola is not burning. If it is browning too fast, turn the tray and reduce the temperature to 175 and bake till quite crisp.
  8. Once cool, break into bits or crumble, mix up the dried fruit and store in airtight container.

 
To serve
2 handfuls of granola or 1/2 cup with a cup of milk and some fresh fruit if you like

How to make applesauce
  • Wash, peel and core 2-3 good apples.
  • Chop into medium pieces and pressure cook with 1/2 cup water, either directly in the cooker or in a bowl for 5-7 minutes. ie. After three whistles, keep on sim for 5-7 minutes.
  • After a few minutes, open cooker, remove the stewed apples and mash with a back of a ladle or in food processor.
  • This will yield over a cup of applesauce.
  • If you dont have a pressure cooker, follow the process in a saucepan with a fitting lid. Simmer for 20-30 minutes till apples are totally soft and then mash.

10 August 2010

Sunday night dinner - Chickpea Basil burgers

Whoever said TV dinners cannot be healthy? These burgers are perfect TV food to pile on a plate and curl up on the couch watching your favourite soap or movie. This recipe is another discovery in my quest for high protein vegetarian recipes. The food and dining section of NYTimes, Guardian, WashingtonPost is my regular haunt not only to see the food trends around the world, but invariably I stumble upon some interesting stuff. The recipe of Spinach and Chickpea burgers from The Washington Post is what inspired me to come up with this version.

We all love burgers, at least most of us. This one is way easier than the mixed vegetable burgers, where you have to clean, cut and prepare an assortment of veggies. This one has just two main ingredients - chickpeas and potatoes. Add to this your favourite greens and spices and you have some really filling burgers ready. Eat them as it is, or as an open sandwich or inside a burger bun. Choice is yours. Pair it with slices of fresh cucumber and tomatoes, lettuce if fresh ones are available - to make up for the lack of vegetables in the burger. I like it with a kick of sharp mustard like Coleman's but ketchup, barbeque sauce, pepper sauce, anything is fine.

Chickpeas are vegetarians' best friends to catch up with protein requirements. Not to mention how loaded in fibre and folic acid they are. Two of these patties provide 25% of your daily fibre requirement and 35% of your folic acid requirement. Combine chickpeas with rice or bread and you get a high quality protein from the meal from a combination of various amino acids. The fibre content not only keeps your full for longer but also helps lower bad cholesterol. Fibre also makes sure your sugar levels go up gradually and this is of special benefit for diabetics.


Ingredients
1/2-3/4 Cup dried chickpeas - soaked in lots of water overnight
1/2 cup mashed potato
1/3 cup chopped basil leaves or any other herbs / greens
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Besan / gram flour if required

2 tsp olive oil or vegetable oil

To assemble
Bread of your choice (6 burger buns or 12 slices of bread)
Sliced tomatoes, cucumber, washed and dried lettuce leaves
6 cheese slices (optional)
Ketchup, mustard

Directions

  • Pressure cook the chickpeas with 2 cups water for 8 minutes or so. (After 3 whistles, lower the flame and keep on sim for 7-8 minutes)
  • Drain and mash with a heavy mortar or till coarsely mashed in a food processor.
  • In a large bowl, mix mashed chickpeas, potatoes, chopped basil, pepper, salt, red chilli powder.
  • Sprinkle gram flour or bread crumbs if the mixture is too wet.
  • Divide this into six balls, flatten into thick patties and place on a lightly greased non-stick tava / skillet on a medium flame. Grill each side for 5-7 minutes, till golden brown using little olive oil.
  • Remove and keep aside.

Lightly toast the bread for the burger on the same hot skillet. Apply mustard on both slices. Place the cucumber and tomato slices, cheese slice and place the hot burger on the top. Cover with more salad if you like and a slice of bread or the other half of burger bun.

Eat / serve immediately.

Note
If you mash the chickpeas in the food processor, make sure you use the 'pulse' function so it does not turn into a paste, after which it will be tough to shape them into burgers.
You can prepare these upto the 'shaping into patties' stage and freeze them keeping a layer of cling film / butter paper in between and directly grill them on the pan for a weekday dinner.

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