Kothambir vadi with pink mustard

DSC_0882   Kothambir vadi (coriander fritters) is my favorite snack from Maharastra  which is made from fresh coriander leaves and chickpea flour. This is further steamed and pan-fried or deep fried. I prefer the pan-fried as it uses less oil and  tastes great too! I’ve given the traditional kothambir vadi an i2cook twist by adding some of our pink mustard. Pink mustard is a versatile product which is made from organic ingredients like yellow, balk mustard, turmeric powder and cold pressed soy oil. Pink mustard is a deli style mustard which contains no sugar. Kothambir vadi with pink mustard can be served as an appetizer or a tea-time treat with chai.

Ingredients:

3 cups chickpea flour (besan)

2 cups cleaned, chopped coriander leaves

4-5 green chillies (add more if you like yours more pungent)

2-3 garlic cloves 1 tbs pink mustard

1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

rock salt to taste

1 tsp ground oil and some extra for pan frying

(All ingredients used to make this dish are organic)

Procedure:

  1. Pound the green chillies and garlic into a paste in a mortar pestle.
  2. Mix corriander leaves, besan, garlic & chilly paste, mustard, sesame seeds, oil, salt, cumin powder and water in a bowl until it forms a hard dough. Shape into a log or any desired shape.
  3. Steam the log for about 20-25 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a skewer and coming out clean.
  4. Allow it to cool. Cut the cooled log into 1 cm slices. Heat about 1 tbs of oil in a pan and pan-fry the vadis in batches on both sides until golden brown and crisp. Serve hot with some i2cook’s pink mustard.

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Coconut Sugar – the most sustainable sugar in the world!

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Coconut sugar production is a very simple one as compared to most other sugars. There is absolutely no additives and it is prepared in the most sustainable way. I’ve been talking about this wonder sugar for some time  and its benefits. I recently visited one of the farm which produces the best coconut sugar ever!

Coconut sugar is made from the  sap of the coconut tree. This sap is collected once or twice a day and comes from the stem that would normally feed a group of coconuts. Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem and bending it into a collection vessel, an earthen pot lined with limestone powder or chunna to avoid fermentation. The collected liquid in the collection vessel is poured into the boiling vessel which is done first thing in the morning. This is usually done early mornings when the weather is relatively cooler  within a span of four hours. This neera or palm toddy is boiled to a desired runny and sticky consistency. This is poured into molds and dried before packing.

i2cook’s coconut sugar goes into further breaking down into powder form and is sun-dried. Coconut palm sugar and palm sugar are two different types of sugar. Please refer my blog post for further clarification on different types of sugar (with GI comparison). I use coconut sugar in my tea/coffee or in my banana bread amost every other day. I use this sugar to make some coconut sugar cookies too!

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Farmer ready with his gear

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Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem and bending it into a collection vessel

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An earthen pot lined with limestone powder or chunna to avoid fermentation

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Boiling to obtain coconut sugar

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The final prep of pouring the coconut sugar into molds

A lot of  you may be concerned about the sap being  used only in sugar production and wondering about growing coconuts… To clear your doubt – only 10-15 trees depending on the production capacity of that particular farm is kept separate for coconut sugar production only. One of the farm would only produce 10kg per day during the first half of the day and would keep the rest of the day for other work like agriculture, cattle feed etc. The trees marked for coconut sugar production are kept closer to home for a simple reason being, closer to home means closer to production/boiling facility and also  no tension of coconut falling on anyone’ head 😉

Using coconut sugar in your diet is relatively a new concept in India and I can proudly say that “i2cook” is one of the first company to launch coconut sugar as a retail product. Coconut sugar production helps farmers to gain an extra income apart from their other agricultural practices. Coconut sugar is not only good for you but also good for the environment!


My rendezvous with Martha & a recipe for eggless mousse

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This post has been  long over due and I cannot express how much I’ve been pushing myself to write this post. Settling down in a new home and office at the same time can be very exhausting. I’m slowly getting my life back to normal and enjoying meeting new people and learning something new every day.

I happen to know about Martha’s preserves through a friend of mine and was curious to meet the face behind such lovely products. Every product which comes out is dear to every entrepreneur and setting up a business coming from foreign land is not an easy task. Meet Martha Kohlhagen. She makes awesome marmalade and sauces which gives you a taste of a true artisan product sans preservatives.

Martha’s Preserves operates from a 20 acre farm at Bannerghatta. Martha  stays and works from her farm. They are a team of 10 dedicated individuals dishing out 10 plus yummy products like  pomegranate and orange marmalade, lemon curd, caramel sauce, chocolate fudge, onion relish etc. Martha has a  background in food technology and uses her grandmother’s recipe to make these delicious products. She does keep the Indian taste in mind and has created products like chilli pineapple jam. Martha aims to produce quality products without comprising on taste. She says that it takes a lot of care and planning to sort fruits and make seasonal products. Martha plans to increase her reach to other cities too.

What really impressed me about Martha’s preserves is that they not only make unique combinations but also have sauces like caramel sauce, chocolate fudge sauce on offer that make life simple. Some ice-cream and a combo of these two sauces makes for a stellar dessert. However, for those who like a little more salt in their caramel sauce can add some sprinkles of sea salt to round up on the flavours. Martha’s Preserves are a Gourmet range, hence be prepared to shell an extra buck for these artisan products but trust me when I say they are worth it!

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Since the time I’ve moved back to Bangalore, I’ve been enjoying avocados. My mom’s neighbouring garden produces some of the best and creamiest avocados that I’ve ever had. Long live thy neighbour! Avocado mousse is so easy to make and can be made guilt-free. The natural creamy texture of the avocado makes all the difference and you won’t miss any cream in your dessert. If you don’t have Martha’s chocolate fudge at home, you could use cocoa powder or dark couverture chocolate (melted). You can also spike your dessert with a teaspoon of brandy! This dessert allows you to play with ingredients and feel free to experiment by adding rolled oats, cashew butter or hazelnut with different flavours or textures.

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Ingredients for avocado & chocolate fudge mousse

1 big size avocado, scooped into a bowl

2 tbs of Martha’s chocolate fudge sauce

1/2 tbs maple syrup or honey

1/2 tbs coffee decoction

nuts or cocao nibs for garnish

 Procedure:

  • Add all the ingredients in a mixer except garnish and make a fine paste.
  • Pour the mousse into the desired serving glasses or bowls. Garnish with some nuts and cocao nibs. Refrigerate for minimum of two hours  before serving.
  • Serve chilled. Serves 2-4.

Note: I layered my serving glasses with some caramel sauce at the bottom to give my dessert a surprise element.

Martha’s Preserves is available at Foodhall.



Artisan Dark Chocolate – Earth Loaf

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Artisan dark chocolate produced locally

 

An invite to an organic  chocolate tasting and a 1 hour drive led me to a quaint cafe at Indiranagar where the tasting was held. A nice breezy evening and conversation over some tea and chocolate made me forget all about the horrid Bangalore traffic. We were all seated in a room and watched David and Angelika educate us about their passion – Earth Loaf.

Earth loaf makes  artisan raw chocolate and  tea infusions. I was surprised to sip on a glass of pure raw cacao beans infused in hot water that tasted good to my liking. David explained that it is a good energizer and a perfect post lunch drink. Earth loaf also has a blend with Assam tea leaf and cacao beans. David and Angelika come from the background of cocktail mixing. Their true calling for raw organic food lead them to experiment with chocolates. Earth loaf is based out of Mysore and currently David is busy training two women who come to work with him from a nearby Village. It took about two years to source and make their own machinery to produce the finest quality of handmade chocolate, right from scratch. David believes that chocolate is addictive due to its sugar content and he wants his customers to experience the opposite in his product. He believes that by adding minimum amount of coconut sugar, he is giving a pure taste of cacao rather than a sugar overload. David believes that it is more sustainable to go local (Indian) rather than sourcing it from abroad even though he may be tempted to. The raw materials are all procured from South and the ingredients used are minimum.

After all this talk about raw chocolate and cacao beans, many of you must be wondering that what is cacao beans….

Cacao beans are a source of all things chocolate. Cacao beans contain phenylethylamine (PEA), an antidepressant that stimulates the body’s adrenaline and dopamine levels for a dose of happy feelings. So now you know the reason why chocolate makes us happy 😉

Cacao beans may look like an almond and comes with a thin skin covering. This skin can be removed by hand or soaked in warm water to discard the skin.  Large processing house use  machine to remove the skin covering, David built his own machinery to remove the skin.  These beans are then crushed and are called cacao nibs, which is used as a garnish  or are processed into making chocolates. Cacao beans is particularly found to be very healthy for its flavonoid content. The darker the chocolate the better flavonoid content is has, which helps to prevent diseases Cancer and Alzheimer.

How is earth loaf chocolate different from the conventional dark chocolate?

Earth loaf chocolate is made with minimum ingredients and doesn’t contain any milk solids. This chocolate is  made from pure raw cacao  and is also vegan. Most of the conventional chocolates are so highly processed that they tend to lose their nutrients and antioxidants. More on raw chocolate and coconut sugar.

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Raw chocolate with cacao nibs and coconut sugar sprinkle.

 

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Pure and handmade chocolate

 

David says that he is trying to set a trend as it is one of its kind in India. I liked the idea of tasting raw cacao and coconut sugar in my chocolate. Right now, I’m enjoying my  chocolate with a glass of wine 🙂

 

Earth Loaf products will be soon available on i2cook.com. You can also shop at their online store.