An easy. delicious & filling leek soup

Diet meal – Leek Soup & Honey mustard Grilled chicken

You know the feeling when you say your prayers, remove your shoes and socks, look around and decide to leave your clothes on and slowly climb up on the weighing machine all the while imagining the time you ate just pineapple and leaves while the person in the adjacent table ate biryani, the time you braved the dust and traffic and walked to work and reason that these great sacrifices deserve at-least a 1 kilo drop and then look down to find a 200 gram increase. You jump down as if given an electric shock. You gingery put one foot on the machine and as delicately as possible the other foot so as to exert minimum weight, look down now thinking if you had drunk too much water in the morning, if you had finished the toilet business and see the exact same weight you saw earlier. You get down, put on your socks and shoes and walk away thinking “What the fuck!” , “Fine!”, “I don’t care”, “I’ll keep going”, “Life is not fair”, “I’ll never lose weight”, “I hate diet meals”, “What I need is acceptance”, “Round is a shape too”.. You’ll oscillate between disillusionment, self-pity, anger, frustration and biryani. It’s a deeply emotional thing, all of this weight-loss business. Not easy at all. The day you take your weight, you’ll let loose, seek comfort, eat noodles or paruppu sadam or macaroni instead of your diet meal. After the initial bout of frustration and cheating you’ll think back to your routine and realize times when you had eaten out, when you had not pushed yourself as much. You’ll then come up with things you want to change, new diet meals, a more strenuous routine, an extra bit of exercise or a little green tea ritual you want to add. This cycle is normal. Let yourself go through it all. If you have decided to eat only soup for dinner, then here is a soup you’ll love. This leek soup is simple, easy and super quick. I added a small potato to give the soup some body. You can do away with it if you prefer. I paired it with an equally simple honey-mustard sauce grilled chicken. You could serve the soup alongside toasted wheat bread too for a delicious, filling diet-meal. Project 50k Update I’ve not checked my weight since my last weight-checking debacle. It’s been about 10...
Project 50k - Weekly DIET-MEAL PLAN

Project 50k Weekly Meal Plan 1 – Diet Meal Plan

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed. Really? You’re stuffing ricotta into ravioli and then deep-frying it. And you are sandwiching ice-cream between cake and dunking in melted chocolate and then frosting it. And with the slightest hint of rain, before the radio channels can switch to rain songs, food bloggers are out in action with a flurry of deep fried pakodas and bajjis in their feeds. Really? How do you guys know I am on a diet? Where are the salads and health drinks and smoothies? Deep fried crisp fritters, bubbling oil, melting cheese and dripping chocolate are sexy. They truly are food porn. And you can’t compete with porn. There wasn’t a harder time to be on a diet. The first couple of weeks of a diet can be agonizing and frustrating at times. Hang on though. There’s nothing like seeing the weigh scale show you a smaller number. I don’t think diet meals need not be boring or bland. It is totally possible to have healthy, delicious diet meals. I rounded up six of the diet meals that I’ve been making lately to help provide you some inspiration to make your own tasty diet meals. I love that most of these meals can be served to the entire family or you can pick one or two of the components of the meal for yourself. I am keeping it simple. Most of us don’t have the time, energy or resources to cook separate meals for ourselves. #Project50k is about real people with busy, messy lives pushing themselves to reach their goal weight. Tap the images below to get the recipes to those dishes.   The past week wasn’t too great for me. I ate out twice and missed gym most of the week. I am therefore making an extra effort to eat right the rest of the days. How has the past week been for you? Share your progress, story with me.   I’ve also been busy testing a few theories the past couple of weeks – Kelloggs special K, 30 day AB workout plus a few home remedies. I’ll share the results of those tests in the coming weeks. Stay focused. We can do this. Keep moving and eat well!
Pesarattu & Ginger chutney

Indian Statewise food – A Roundup of the past month

Here’s a short recap of the last one month’s statewise blogging marathon conveniently compiled in a single page. I’ve put together all the regional foods from all over India that I posted over the last one month. Feel free to click on the images of specific dishes to get to the recipes.  After this non-stop marathon month of blogging, I am exhausted, but inspired and restless. I hope it has inspired you guys to try new dishes in your everyday cooking too. Tiffen and Snacks Andhra’s Pesarattu has always been a family favourite tiffen but this time I made Pesarattu along with it’s best friend Allam Pachadi (ginger chutney) and the duo is unbeatable. I had a great time deep frying my way through Dal pooris of Jharkand, the sel roti (sweet batter rings from Sikkim) in the strangest of shapes, the tasty egg shoap from Nagaland and the lovely bhaturas (the stuff of dreams). Chhattisgarh’s rice Pakoras are the easiest pakoras you’ll ever find. Badeel was Uttarakhand’s version of poricha paruppu urundais – a yummy anytime snack. The vegetable momos and red chilli dip transported me to north-eastern India. Curries The curries were all a grand success – the Punjabi chicken Tikka being the best curry forever (BCF), the creamy luscious Pondicherry Fish Assad, the everyday Oriya Dalma (will be a regular on our menu), delicious Bihari Gugni, Delhi’s famous street food Matar Kulcha, Goa’s famous Vindaloo, the absolutely magnificent Mutton Rogan Josh of Kashmir (that can give any restaurant rogan josh a run for its money) and the simple and elegant Sana Thongba from Manipur (a light Paneer and Peas curry). Kerala’s Pal Appams bombed (I waited and waited for the batter to ferment, checking every now and then more eagerly than I waited for my engineering results) but the vegetable stew saved the day – it was just about perfect. Soups, Chutnies and Dips The red chilli dip is a real keeper – perfect for so many things. The Tomato oambal of Tripura was a revelation – a wonderful fusion of sweet, tangy and hot notes in a simple salsa like chutney. The Thukpa, a himalayan noodle soup is full of fresh, simple flavours. Rice dishes Maharashtra’s Varahadi Masale Bhaat was a wonderful spiced one-pot rice and vegetable meal – easy and tasty. Karnataka’s Bisi Bele Baath was a thing of beauty. This would be my go...

Thukpa – Himalayan Noodle soup

I hope you’re ready for the onslaught of recipes this month. After hibernating the past couple of months, I am armed with an arsenal of recipes, one recipe from each of the Indian states. I along with 28 wonderfully talented bloggers of the blogging marathon group have been preparing for months now for this mega marathon. I really hope you guys have fun discovering new dishes from different corners of India. Today the state in the spotlight is Arunachal Pradesh and I’ve made the very famous Himalayan noodle soup – Thukpa. Arunachal Pradesh is the scenic state at the north eastern tip of India. The people and cuisine of the state share plenty with the Tibetan-Burman neighbours by way of their roots and recipes. The Thukpa – a hot, spicy noodle soup is filled with the goodness of vegetables and it’s perfect for winter, for cold climes. But living in Chennai, I cannot wait for that to make Thukpa. I’ll never get to make Thukpa. It’s a different thing that Jagan makes up for it by turning the AC full blast and unable to cope with the extreme cold I sport extra T-shirts (looking like a nut as usual). You’ll likely see a quite a lot of Thukpas today among my blogging marathon friends too. I picked up this Thukpa recipe from here. I liked this version because it had an interesting spice paste that is cooked before adding in the vegetable stock. I made it a chicken Thukpa because that’s the only way I can sell it at home. But you can quite easily switch the chicken for tofu or paneer and make it a vegetable Thukpa. It’s light, flavourful and tasty. Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 30 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Cooked Noodles – 1-1/2 cupsCooked chicken – ½ cup shredded into small pieces (vegetarians substitute with paneer or tofu)Carrots – ½ cup cut into matchsticksGreen Beans – ½ cup into 1 inch sticksVegetable stock or water – 5 cupsBlack pepper powder – ¼ tspSalt to tasteButter – 1 tspGreen part of spring onions – chopped, a handfulIngredients – Spice paste Onion – 1 smallTomato – 1 small or half of a mediumGinger – 1 inch stickGarlic – 4 podsWhole black peppercorns – ½ tspGreen chilli – 1 (I didn’t use it)Lemon juice – 1 tsp Method 1.       Cook noodles as per packet instructions, rinse in cold water,...

African Peanut Soup | Creamy Bell pepper and Peanut butter soup

I do not for a minute find peanut butter in a soup strange. I adore peanut butter like many of them adore Nutella. Peanut butter was one of the few things I enjoyed during my pregnant days without having to run over to the toilet. This peanut soup has a generous dose of peanut butter along with beautiful red bell peppers (I have a soft corner for bell peppers too), potato and tomatoes. The soup needless to say is creamy, luscious and out of the world – somewhere in between a hearty chowder and a creamy soup – a heavenly middle area.  Have this soup hot along with a crusty bread or rusk and you’ll know what I mean. It’s so cold in Chennai and this soup would be perfect for the weather. It’s not snowing and it’s not below zero here but hey, for a lifelong Chennai girl, who has to sit in a freezer cubicle all day, this is cold. The basic idea of this soup stemmed from the numerous west-African peanut soups on the net but I’ve adapted it to my pantry limitations and my preferences. This African peanut soup goes to Srivalli’s blogging Marathon for the theme – African Cuisine. Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 25 mins Serves: 4    Ingredients Red Bell Pepper – 1 small sized, chopped roughly Potato – 1 medium sized, peeled and cubed Tomatoes – 4 medium, chopped roughly Onion – ½ a medium onion, chopped fine Garlic cloves – 4 large ones chopped Water or Vegetable stock – 5 cups Peanut butter – ¼ cup Butter – 1 tbsp Salt to taste Tarragon – 3/4 tsp Oregano – 1 tsp Black pepper powder – 1 tsp Method 1.      Heat butter in a pot till it melts. Add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté till the garlic colours slightly. Now throw in the tomatoes, potatoes and chopped red bell peppers. Pour in the vegetable stock or water. Season with salt, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. 2.      The bell peppers would be nice and soft by now. Remove the pot from heat and let cool. Transfer the cooled soup to a blender and blend till smooth. Transfer the soup back to the pot and heat again. Ladle out about a quarter cup of soup into a bowl. Add in the peanut butter and whisk till smooth and not...

Cream of sweet corn soup

This cream of sweet corn soup is quick, easy and a definite kid-pleaser. It uses corn, cream (not cream style corn) and a few basic aromatics. Very basic and simple to put together and is best had fresh as soon as it is made. I served this soup alongside vegetable momos, vegetable & corn fried rice for a kid-friendly lunch. My husband’s favourite soups, all contain corn in them. It’s a different thing that he doesn’t order anything beyond sweet corn chicken soup. He’s a rule book, a 180 pages ruled book, but he’s better than the 300 pages hard-bound ruled book that is his family; sorry “our” family. My 180 page ruled book really liked the soup and so did little Lakshmi, my cousin’s little one. My kids don’t eat soup, so they didn’t eat this beyond the first few spoons but I was glad I made it. I hope my kids will eventually move to eating stuff other than idli/dosai. I enjoyed the soup too. I used the pureed corn and cream as is without straining, but if you prefer a smooth texture, run the puree through a strainer before adding it to the soup. This is an easy soup, one that you can very easily make for a weekday dinner. Serve garnished with a small sprig of parsley or thinly sliced green chillies. If you’d like a thicker chowder type consistency and some added flavour, add a small boiled potato to the corn cream mixture and blend together. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 5 Ingredients Sweet corn kernels – 300 gm steamed (or scraped from 2 whole boiled corn cobs) dividedFresh Cream – 150 ml Onion – 1 medium chopped fineGarlic – 2-3 pods chopped fineBlack pepper powder – 2 tsp (adjust)Salt to tasteWater – 3-1/2 cupsCorn Flour – 2 tbspWater – 2 tbspButter – 1 tbspOil – 1 tbsp Method 1.      Steam the corn kernels for 5-10 minutes till tender. Set aside. If using whole corn cobs, pressure cook for 15-20 minutes with water and salt. Once cooked, let cool, scrape the corn kernels and set aside. 2.      Take half of the corn kernels in a mixie/blender along with 150 gm of the fresh cream and blend well to a fine puree. Set aside. 3.      In a pot, heat oil and butter together. Throw in the chopped onion and garlic and sauté till the onions...
South Indian style chicken soup

South-Indian style Chicken soup – Kid friendly version

The Chicken soup I am posting today is an ideal introductory chicken dish for toddlers. It is mild, delicately flavoured and easy on little tummies. This dish is super quick and super easy and it can easily be transformed into an adult version with a few extra spices. I usually serve this soup with rice or as a side with idli. My 3 year old likes chomping on the chicken pieces. For my 1 year old, I dump the rice, soup and a few chicken pieces in the mixer and give a quick blitz, a very quick one so that it is a coarse mixture and not pureed all the way. It’s a good alternative to the usual paruppu saadam (rice and dal). I don’t  usually cook separately for my kids, but sometimes I do. I think once in a while, they deserve their own custom-made meal. I think the entire cooking in the house has in general become more kid friendly – we’ve cut down on the chillies, totally eliminated channa dal from all our  tempering (my kids don’t like biting into the dal), we make more Kormas/dal based curries (which are milder) and there is always idli maavu (Idli batter) in the fridge which is so reassuring. Long day, frenetic action for a function the next day, or the day after the frenetic function, kids sick, maid on leave, power shut-down, or even better – power shut-down and no water in the tank – whatever the odds, as long as you have idli maavu, you can manage.   On holiday trips, I remember how grateful we’d be for the puliche idlis (however sour and rubbery) that Taj served at around 100 rupees per idli (Yes 100!). Most hotels don’t serve idli at dinner buffets or even on order. My kids are by now so attuned to “an idli a day, everyday” routine that nothing else would do. They want their idli. No “kid friendly” macaroni and cheese for them. By the way, nothing is kid friendly when served on porcelain plates or in fancy wineglasses. Not a lot of moms on these hotel decision making panels, I think. Preparation time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 2-3 Ingredients Boneless Chicken pieces – 10 small cubesOnion – 1 choppedTomato – 1 choppedGinger – 1/2 an inch pieceGarlic – 5-6 pods peeledCoriander powder – 1-1/2 tspChilli powder – 1/2 tspTurmeric – 1/4 tspBlack pepper...
Idiyappam & Pepper soup

Idiyappam (String Hoppers) with South-indian style Pepper & Ginger soup

Idiyappam (String Hoppers) with South-indian style Pepper & Ginger soup Idiyappam and soup This is one recipe that I need to give total credit to my mother-in-law (single biggest plus of joint-family). I learnt from her both of these dishes. Idiyappam and soup is a staple at our house, we have it at-least once a week. It is super-easy and super quick to prepare. I was for quite a long time intimidated by Idiyappam, by this silly stringy thingy until I learned to make it. In restaurants, Idiyappam is usually served with Vegetable Korma or sweetened coconut milk. I initially scoffed at the combination of Idiyappam and soup during my early married days, like Men in Black dubbed in tamil – funny but strange. I have to say I’ve grown to really like it. Dip the soft idiyappam in the fiery hot soup for just a moment before popping it into your mouth and then wait for the black peppers to hit the back of your throat – boom. Gives quite a pungent kick. You’ll need getting used to this flavour combination though, a bit like A.R.Rahman songs, the first few times they’ll seem unexciting until you hear them over and over and you grow to love them. Preparation time: 10 minsCooking time: 5 minsServes: 3-4 Idiyappam Recipe IngredientsRice flour – 3 cupsSalt to tasteBoiling hot water Method 1.      Add salt to rice flour and mix well. 2.      Add boiling water a little at a time to the flour and mix with the back of a wooden spatula. Keep adding and mixing till all the flour is incorporated and you have a soft dough. It should be soft to touch, moist but non-sticky. It should be moist, a dry dough would make the idiyappam taste powdery. Keep it covered with a lid. The consistency of the dough is critical to the texture of the idiyappam. This is it. 3.      Fill the Idiyappam press with some dough and start piping from the centre making slightly overlapping circles and working your way out to the outer edge of the idiyappam plate. Don’t worry if your circles aren’t proper circles, are squiggly. I don’t. Make sure the idiyappam plate is fully covered and evenly covered. Repeat the same piping process to cover all your idiyappam plates. 4.      Stack the idiyappam plates in its holder. Place a steel vessel big enough to hold the...
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