Foodmantra for Beauty – 3 Ways to Use Apple & Walnuts for Glowing Skin


I remember watching an episode of Oprah once, very long ago. I was a teenager back then, fighting acne and insecurities related to it. I remember how inspired I was, I wanted to be as confident and as beautiful as the women on that show. I never thought that it would be easy, especially for a girl like me! Even in my growing years I was plump with wavy dark hair and a face dotted with old and new acne marks.

Even so, one little line from that show always stuck with me. It was, ‘Happiness makes you look good’. Even to this day, I believe that happiness truly makes a woman look the best she can look. Well, happiness and a little care will make you feel good about yourself.

To make myself look and feel beautiful, I follow a three-step mantra every single day. ‘Eat well, sleep well and cleanup well’. Trust me, you can follow these simple rules too. Here’s how I do it.


FoodMantra for Better Sleep

I really believe in getting my beauty sleep. Eight hours of stress free sleep. Not only does this avoid puffy eyes, your face looks hydrated and cared for. I’m serious! Stress and lack of sleep speeds up the onset of wrinkles. That means sleeping well prevents your skin from ageing quickly. I know getting that simple beauty sleep can be hard. It is easy to get preoccupied with work, errands and random thoughts. One thing that has worked for me is eating natural foods that have nutrients that help you sleep better.

Walnuts for instance, have melatonin, which is associated with better sleep patterns, and its Omega-3 fatty acids help in relieving stress. Not just that walnuts are loaded with Vitamin B that is also known to be an excellent stress and mood manager. Better sleep and low stress levels are going to make your skin look healthy, hydrated and beautiful everyday.

Walnuts are full of Vitamin E and the antioxidants remove toxins and fight free radicals that also delay the aging process. Walnut oil helps in hydrating and moisturizing the skin. It also reduces puffiness, soothes and relaxes the eyes and lightens dark circles.

Not only are walnuts great for your sleep and skin but also they make your hair better. They are full of useful nutrients like Omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids and potassium that strengthen hair follicles and prevent hair loss. The natural oil in walnut moisturizes hair and gives them a natural glow. It is also a natural anti-dandruff and anti-fungal agent to prevent scalp infections. The walnut husk is a natural coloring agent that naturally highlights the hair. So in every way possible, walnuts make you look good!


Foodmantra for Eating Well

When was the last time you treated your own self to a delicious breakfast and felt really good about it? I’m tired of people associating anything tasty or sweet with negative emotions like, ‘I shouldn’t’ or ‘this is bad for me’. Eating well makes me really happy. Good food makes you feel energetic, light and happy all day. It carries us through our day. I don’t mean we load up on sugar every morning, but incorporating nuts and fruits in our breakfast can do wonders to the way we look and feel.

Including apples for instance, brightens, tightens and lightens the skin – also know as BLT. The antioxidants in apple prevent tissue damage, potassium is required for the skin, Vitamin A for new skin development and Vitamin C protects the skin. The collagen in apple helps the skin remain youthful and flawless. During the summer it can do wonders for your health and even for your skin! Here’s my recipe that combines the goodness of apple with the richness of walnuts to make a great breakfast.

No-Mayo Healthy Waldorf Salad

Serves 1


Apples, cut into bite size pieces; 1 cup

Walnuts, chopped; 2 tablespoons

Celery, Chopped; 2 tablespoons

Raw Honey; 1 tablespoon

Cinnamon powder; 1 teaspoon

Yogurt; 2 tablespoons

Iceberg Lettuce, ice- cold cups; 2 leaves


In a large cold bowl, add yogurt, cinnamon and honey and whisk into a smooth dressing.

Add in the chopped celery and walnuts and fold it with the yogurt.

Fold in apples and the chill the salad for 20 minutes.

Place ice-cold cups of Iceberg lettuce on a plate and add spoonful of salad into the lettuce cups.

Serve right away!

This recipe makes a great healthy, wholesome and nutritious mini-meal. Perfect to start the day and stay energized. Apple walnuts crepes protect you and make you more beautiful with every passing day. These ingredients are great to ingest and also to apply for a great looking face.


Mantra for Better CleanUp

As I have mentioned above, using walnut and apple together is not only nourishing when eaten, it can also be applied on the skin. It helps in cleaning dead skin, energizing and brightening the face with useful nutrients. A mix of these two ingredients to scrub the face helps get rid of blackheads and makes the skin glow. I find it increasingly difficult and expensive though, to prepare this mixture at home everyday. For regular and frequent exfoliation, moisturizing and nourishment, I have to rely on something that is easier to do.

I found that Himalaya’s  #GentleExfoliatingWalnutScrub turned out to be much cheaper than using actual walnuts and apple. It is great in the summer because the skin tends to darken and my skin is oily, so it attracts dirt and then I get pimples. The Walnut scrub helps me clean, remove blackheads and scrub out dirt from the pores. It also gives that suppleness from the moisture in walnut and that thin glow from the nut oils. When it comes to brightening, lightening and tightening – Himalaya #GentleExfoliatingWalnutScrub uses the same nourishing ingredients but it is applied on the skin and not eaten for breakfast!

I feel really good about the fact that I’m using such rich ingredients that nourish my skin with their nutrients for 130 bucks. It is literally like using the healthiest breakfast of fruits and nuts to clean and nurture my skin. Most importantly, I can use it frequently and regularly to clean my face. I know the scrub boasts its natural ingredients, so I find it way safer than using complex sounding chemical compounds that I don’t understand.
You’ll be surprised to see how hard it is to clean your face properly. Ever so often, we assume that we have washed off the dirt and pollution we attract to our exposed faces everyday. When you look closely, that same dirt clings on to the oil on the face and forms acne, blackheads and makes the face look dotted and patchy. We even wonder why our face isn’t glowing even though we think that we are eating right.

Sometimes we miss including the yummiest and the most important nutrients in our daily diet. We also unknowingly ignore the importance of our sleep and daily hydration; not realizing that what makes us beautiful is the mantra to happiness itself! If you want to look beautiful, don’t forget to sleep well, eat well and cleanup well everyday. Happy Smiling!

Know about more ingredients that benefit your skin, hair and beauty, here.

walnut scrubF


Facebook #GentleExfoliatingWalnutScrub

Twitter #GentleExfoliatingWalnutScrub


How This Pasta Sauce Will Become Your Genie-in-a-Bottle?


Have you ever seen the spaghetti scene in Eat Pray Love? A woman, jilted in love gives up her job and goes to Italy to simply eat! In a way, I can completely understand the simple classic love affair. In the scene, when she dips her fork into the mountain of spaghetti coated in a rich flavorful sauce that clings on to the strands and paints them into their lovely red, it makes you fall in love, a little bit at a time. I can still picture every bite of spaghetti as Julia Roberts eats it and I can almost taste the spaghetti myself. When you watch that scene, what you need is a genie in a bottle to make tomato-coated spaghetti appear in front of you that very second.


A tomato sauce in Italy is slow cooked for 4 to 6 hours, traditionally over fire, to get the correct consistency and flavor. Although we love food nearly the same, none of us have the time, patience or inclination to stand in front of a pot, stirring it and watching it for hours. We believe in instant satisfaction for such cravings, we are used to being provided for and having things done. So it isn’t a surprise that we like our tomato sauce in a bottle too.


Here’s the problem, most of the tomato sauces that are on shelves in the Indian market, aren’t really up to the mark. Oftentimes they taste bad, too acidic, too spicy, and too oily, at times it just tastes like off-season bad tasting tomatoes have been masked in excess dried herbs. They are not all bad, you might say. There are some good “imported” tomato sauces for pastas available. Of course, there but I could only afford them if I had diamond shoes and a gold collar for my pony! Pardon my exaggeration but some of these sauces are painfully expensive.

I don’t mind investing in authentic Parmesan cheese, but we get good enough tomatoes in India, why should a burn a hole in my pocket for tomato sauce?


Luckily, I did find a Pasta Sauce that succeeded in coming somewhat close to my genie-in-a-bottle tomato sauce expectation. Soul Food ( OR ) , yes that same Olive Oil pickle brand, they have also recently introduced a range of other products including a tomato based Pasta sauce. I have enjoyed the flavor of their pickles before, and to be honest they sell a product that preserves Indian flavours and adds the health benefits of Olive Oil to it, something about that thought resonates with my theory of cooking. Aside from the theory, that is, we need to keep things quick and simple in the kitchen. Hoping for a better result, and noticing that my experiment wasn’t going to cost me a bomb, I picked up a bottle of Soul Food Pasta Sauce one day.


I tried it out on the same day; at first I only boiled 10 or 12 strands of spaghetti and heated it up the sauce, mixed it up and tried a bite. You see I didn’t want to risk too much spaghetti over it, if this was going to be another disaster [and believe me, I have seen a lot of disastrous spaghettis]. There was no oil floating on top of the bottle, the sauce was not bright red, it looked naturally red. As I nervously took a bite, I was pleasantly surprised with the flavours. Pulpy pieces of cooked tomatoes, some down to mush and some added a fresh texture of slow cooked sauce, there was a mild flavor of dried herbs and seasoning in the sauce. There was no red chilly powder and not too much garlic that would mask the taste of the tomatoes. It was just a rich, thick and well-cooked tomato sauce, very easy to enjoy with some more spaghetti. And this time I emptied the whole packet into the salted boiling water, just one bite of that spaghetti wasn’t going to be enough.


When you really love a dish, like I love spaghetti, you tend to try new things and experiment with it. While Spaghetti in tomato sauce with some fresh basil and Parmesan cheese is a classic that no one can beat. I decided this time to give it a break and try something new with simple spaghetti in tomato sauce.


I had recently found out that Broccoli makes you beautiful! It is packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. Tomatoes too are packed with ant-oxidants too. So I decided to make a dish that is as soulful as its ingredients are. Roasted Broccoli and toasted almonds go wonderfully well with tomato sauce, what’s more, they add a deeper flavor and crunch to the dish. Almonds are good for you eyes and rich in essential oils, so all in all you are literally becoming more youthful and beautiful as you eat this dish.


Roasted Broccoli & Toasted Almond Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce


Serves 2


You Will Need


Broccoli, florets; 1 cup

Broccoli stems; ¼ cup

Almonds; 5 to 6

Olive Oil; ½ cup

Salt; to taste

Pepper; a pinch

Spaghetti; 100g

Soul Food Pasta Sauce; 1, 400g bottle

( OR )

Garlic, peeled; 4 to 6 cloves

Sweet Basil; 10 leaves

Parmesan Cheese; ¼ cup

Chilled Butter; 1 cube (optional)





  • In a bowl, toss the broccoli pieces and almonds with a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degree Celsius. Place the Broccoli and almonds over aluminum foil on an oven tray. Allow them to roasted for 15 minutes.


  • Meanwhile, heat up salted water in a stockpot or pan. Add the spaghetti to boiling water and allow it to cook for 7 to 10 minutes until it is firm to bite. Drain the spaghetti but save the water.


  • Take the broccoli and almonds out of the oven and allow them to cool on the side.


  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan, crush and roasted and piece of garlic in it, till you get the smoky flavor. Add in half a bottle of Soul Food Pasta sauce ( OR ) to the pan, add 2 spoonful of salted pasta water and allow the sauce to cook for a minute.


  • Add in the cooked spaghetti, broccoli florets and one sliced almond to the spaghetti. Keep it aside.
  • For the Broccoli & Almond Pesto, add broccoli stems, almonds, garlic, basil, parmesan cheese and remaining olive oil to a grinder. Blitz it till the paste is smooth but thick.


  • Blitz some chilled butter with the remaining tomato sauce and keep it aside.
  • To plate, make a thick disc with the broccoli almond pesto on the plate, twirl the spaghetti in tomato sauce over it. Pour the remaining chilled butter with tomato sauce mixture around the spaghetti in an outer red ring. Place a few broccoli florets and sliced almond on top as garnish. Serve!


Honestly speaking, I have always read so many articles about the health benefits of Broccoli and heard my nutritionist ask me to add it in my diet over and over again, yet I always found it hard to pair. I usually ended up pairing it with oodles of cheese, which not only masked its crunch and flavor but also compromised the health quotient of the recipe. I’m so glad that I finally cracked the perfect recipe with this ADF Soul Foods Pasta Sauce ( OR )

This pasta sauce is low sodium and filled with freshness and goodness of tomatoes, and its herb flavor goes perfectly well with roasted Broccoli. The best part is that the recipe with all the antioxidants and essential oils will give you a glowing skin, a healthy body and keep you young! I hope that you enjoy cooking this recipe as much as I enjoyed eating it. Do try it out and let me know what you thought of this recipe.


Buy ADF Soul Products here and here.

Are Gourmet Stores Your Disneyland? 10 Tips for Smart Foodie Shopping & Recipe for Cauliflower Mac n Cheese

Gourmet stores are my Disneyland. Studded with valuable blueberry and cranberry, Mascaporne cheese or fancy appliances, Gourmet food shops are no less than jewellery stores when it comes to making a woman feel dreamy. With skyrocketing prices it is no surprise that imported kitchenware is effectively competing with diamonds. A pink, red or blue kitchen-aid is an asset every woman wants to flaunt, irrespective of the number of times that she is likely to use it.


Some might call this trend of buying and cooking with imported ingredients peer pressure but I like to look at it as a by-product of globalization. It is a smaller world, we know more, we see more so we want more, and it is only fair.


The word “Gourmet” itself implies a status symbol. Do we choose Gourmet ingredients to convey our social standing? Is it cool to cook with parsley and thyme instead of dhaniya and ajwain? These are questions best answered by Society Gurus! As a consumer I think it is variety that attracts me the most. I can experiment with flavours I had never known before.


I visit Foodhall or a Godrej Nature’s Basket in search of rare, often imported and more expensive ingredients that are not available at the local kirana shop. These brightly lit temples of food worship have the appeal of that tempting Masterchef Australia pantry. They stock everything from Gourmet Teas, Herbs, variety of cheeses to exotic spices, health food and the king of them all Kitchen Aid! It is the extravagance of the place that seduces me and I usually end up buying more stuff than I need. (Insiders’ Tip: Carrying limited amount of cash and no card will help in avoiding that big jolt to the bank balance in an impulse buy.)


All through my training in the Hotel kitchens and all of my academic research drilled one thing in my head – Buy Local, Buy Seasonal. This is the Rule of Thumb in any restaurant kitchen. Smart buying – it simply cut costs, ensures freshness and guarantees health.


Before we evolved to all-year-round supplies and transporting food across continents we ate local and we ate seasonal. Nourishment and recipes were adapted to what grows locally in the area you live in. Our ancestors believed, what grows naturally in a particular area is the best form of nourishment suited for the people living there. For instance, chillies eaten in Rajasthan are believed to be purifying the bacteria laden water that the population had to drink. Drumsticks that grow in South and West India are loaded with proteins, carbs, vitamins and minerals, hold the promise to improve nutrition of impoverished communities.


Even today Masterchefs around the world recommend the use of local grown, seasonal ingredients. In fact there are world-class restaurants that alter their menu by the season and take pride in serving the best of locally grown produce.


There is lot of substance in this theory, although what we buy at local vegetable markets isn’t exactly world-class produce it is certainly a choice worth considering instead of over spending for a special weekend meal. We all go for exotic veggies and imported sauces but here are few tips that will keep a good balance so that your Gourmet Meals don’t pinch your pocket or your health.


  • Grow Your Own Herbs – I know that fresh basil, oregano and parsley can be tempting as heaven, plus it makes the kitchen smell so good. Pick two or three herbs that you often use and grow them on your window. It cuts the hassle of storage and wastage. You have fresh herbs all the time!


  • Try the Local Indian brands for Cheeses and Sauces – It is not always easy to rely on local brands when it comes to that perfect flavour of cheese or rice vinegar. It is easier to pick well-known International brands but do yourself a favour and try out the sauces and cheese from Indian brands. Some of that Parmesan from Pondicherry or cacao nibs from Karnataka are surprisingly delicious. Many restaurant Chefs use these cost cutting secrets, use it right and your dish will still taste fabulous. Similarly you can now buy Indian manufactured Olive oil as well, which is much cheaper than its imported counterpart.


  • Buy Seasonal – Indian produce or International, buy it when it is in season in the country it grows. For instance, blueberry in harvested in August, red currants around June-July and plums from August to October. All these fruits are fresh and the cheapest in August.



  • Your Sabziwala Offers Locally grown exotic fruits and vegetables – Many vegetable market vendors and local sabziwalas in metros order exotic vegetables and herbs on a regular basis. These exotic vegetables fruits are locally grown and cheaper choices than gourmet stores for such produce. They may not keep exotic ingredients in store but if you plan ahead and place an order you will get your ingredients for a lower price. Knowing local names also helps. Don’t buy lemongrass from stores when the local vendor will sell it dirt cheap if you call it “gautie chai”.


  • Make Your Own – Do you really need to buy that garlic salt or Thai Curry Paste. Making your own pastes and spice blends on weekends ensures that it suits your taste and is a cheaper option. These pastes can be frozen in ice cube trays or batches. Besides how long does it take to microwave garlic and make garlic salt? (Just peel, dehydrate in the microwave and crush, mix with salt)



  • Opt for Imported products with Longer Shelf Life – There are those sauces that you love, flavours that you use frequently. Then look for bigger bottles with recent packaging. Always check the expiry date on canned and bottled products. This will give you enough time to experiment with and use up the ingredient, and avoids wastage. Also go for more ingredients that keep for longer instead of too many perishable items at once.


  • Pick ONLY frequently used Sauces & flavourings – It is easy to get carried away and assume that you will be using all those sauces lined up in the racks. You don’t necessarily need Dark Soy and Light Soy in your kitchen, along with chilli garlic, siracha and hot garlic sauce. However tempting it might be choose wisely and pick only what you will use frequently. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is used in salads, in dressing, pasta sauces, pickles and simply spread on bread, but will you really use it in your kitchen? That’s the real question.


  • Buy Small Quantities – We have all learnt this from our mistakes. When you are buying a new ingredient or new brand for the first time buy the smallest quantity possible. That ridiculously expensive bottle of Habanero Sauce that tasted like acid is still lying in my kitchen shelf and it mocks me each time I see it.


  • Try First – Most Gourmet stores have tasting counters for cheeses, dips and cold cuts. They are not just there for impulse buys and hunger pangs but avoid buying before trying. It may look awesome on television and I’m sure Nigella loves it but she doesn’t have your taste buds so think again.


  • Go For Quality, Don’t Compromise on Taste – When you must go for that spectacularly fresh box of assorted mushrooms there is no way out. You may not have the recipe yet but with that freshness you know just some butter will do the trick. Then just go for it! But never fall into the trap of stale or poor quality ingredients with slashed prices, or those bottles that are just going to cross the expiry threshold.



According to consultancy technopak, the Indian Gourmet food industry is worth 1.3bn USD and is growing 20 percent annually and it could double by 2015. E-Gourmet Stores like Gourmet It Up, Gourmet Box, Gourmet Co. and as such, offer fine teas, sauces, cheeses and cold cuts along with egg separators and zesters. So we will be able to venture into more fine food even in Tier II cities. While the sale of more imported ingredients in such stores jolts the Indian economy, these products sold by Indian companies like Tea Trunk, Kodai Cheese and ABC Farms with competitive prices are a breath of fresh air.



Be smart about your cooking. Pick only what you must from Gourmet stores, buy the rest locally and see what you can substitute with local ingredients without altering the character of the dish. Who knows, you might like your experimental version of Global recipes better. Here’s a little local Gourmet recipe to get you started.


Baked Macaroni n Cheese with Cauliflower & Peas


Serves 2




Elbow Macaroni (Pick up pasta made with Durum Wheat not Flour)

  • Go for Barilla or Del Monte instead of Blue Bird Pasta; 1 ½ cup


Salt; a pinch


Butter; 2 tablespoons


Garlic, peeled and grated; 1 teaspoon


Cauliflower, florets (You can use Brocolli if you like); 1 cup


Green Peas, shelled; ½ cup


Cream Cheese (Go for Philadelphia)

  • In this recipe you can substitute cream cheese for Cream

Or mix half cream and half cream cheese; 1 cup


Breadcrumbs (Planko); ½ cup


Paprika (use crushed red chilli) ; 1 teaspoon


Parmesan Cheese, grated

  • Use Kodai Cheese or ABC Farms; ½ cup




  • In a deep pan, bring water with a pinch of salt to a boil add in the macaroni. Cook for 10 minutes until the pasta is firm to bite. Strain the pasta and toss with some butter. Save the water.
  • Boil the pasta water and blanch the cauliflower and peas in it for 2 minutes. Then wash them under cold water.
  • In a bowl, mix breadcrumbs, paprika and grated parmesan cheese.
  • Grease a baking dish with butter. Freeze the dish.
  • In a bowl, whip the cream cheese, garlic and add cauliflower, peas to it.
  • Add in the macaroni and fold the mixture lightly into the cream.
  • Put this mixture into a baking dish and dust the breadcrumbs mixture on top.
  • Bake at 180 degree celcius for 20 minutes. Serve Hot.

With 9 Guidelines for an Indian Budget Kitchen, Get Unlimited Laughter Free

Don’t you wish salaries were increasing at the same speed at which the ‪Rupee is falling? I bet you are facing the same problem that I am facing, cutting down on the amount we spend in the kitchen every month. If you have been reading my tweets on #MantraAt3 everyday at 3pm then you must have read the tips I’ve been sharing. You’ll be surprised how smart buying, storage & smart cooking can effectively cut cost without pinching your great taste. Don’t get intimidated reading about the price hike in the newspaper everyday. Put on your thinking cap and pull out these Budget Kitchen tricks. It will become a fun game, I promise.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now the real big question is, will ‪Rupee jokes take over from ‪Rajnikant and ‪CID jokes? Some of the jokes on twitter are really giving Rajnikant competition take a look.

@papacj: Disneyland is opening a new ride in which you free fall from a great height in just a few seconds. They’re calling the ride ‘The Indian Rupee’!

‪@fakingnews :BREAKING: Prime Minister’s US trip cancelled as there are not enough dollars

‪@coolfunnytshirt: Next episode of Crime Patrol may show How UPA forced ‪#Rupee to commit suicide.

@coolfunnytshirt: Agle janam mohe dollar he kijjo – Rupee

Ramesh Srivats on Twitter: Everyday a new record. Truly the Sergei Bubka of currencies.


Budget Buying

Guideline no. 1 – Choose local

1) Choose local, grown fresh seasonal fruits and veggies in place of bottled preserves for  a ‪BudgetKitchen.

2) Go for Local Brands such as TATA or ITC for food products in the kitchen shelf over foreign brands.

3) Use Sponge Gourd / Taroi in place of expensive veggies like ‪zucchini, with similar flavour & texture it is available at a lower price.

4) Drop that imported ‘Branded’, expensive apple & instead buy organic, local fruits from our orchards. ‪@ShopforChange

5) Go local this season, buy local Apples, Pomegranate, Jamun and Bananas instead of Rambutan n Kiwis from the shelf.

6) Drop that high priced arborio rice packect & cook up barley ‪#risotto instead. Barley is grown in India, easily available & cheaper. ‪#BudgetKitchen ‪#MantraAt3

7) You’ll be surprised how easy it is to replace fancy & expensive ingredients with cheaper substitutes in International Cooking.

8) Pricey polenta in this plate can be replaced with sooji /rawa / Semolina flavoured with herbs.  ‪#BudgetKitchen

Polenta Dish

Polenta Dish

9) No need to sell my kidney to buy Couscous here. Replace it with coarse makke-ka-atta/ cornmeal or even wheat daliya.

10) Basa, competitior of Indian fish & is more expensive than Bekti. It belongs to the same family as Pangashis from ‪#Bengal sold whole, which you can opt for instead of Basa.

11) Indian farmed Basa is also pricey, so why not experiment with the wide variety of Indian fresh water fish like Rohu & other seafood varieties?

Guideline No. 2 – Grow Your Own

12) Plant the stalk with the seeds next time you cut a fresh red bell pepper. Grow it in pots at home or at your windowsill instead of buying it.

13) Freeze in ‪Olive Oil or grow your own but there’s no point wasting that pack of parsley or sage or oregano which you’ve bought & used only once.

Guideline No. 3 – Make Your Own

‪14)  Thai ‪Curry paste or other imported ready pastes are more in price & less in freshness. Make these pastes it over a weekend ‪in the BudgetKitchen.

Green Thai Curry

Green Thai Curry

Here’s ‪#HowtoMake your own ‪Thai Curry paste at home on a weekend ‪ …

15) Find your nearest chakki & get that wheat, jowar or bajra freshly ground at a lower cost. This flour is also more fibrous.

16) Drink the ‪whey ‪protein in the liquid after making paneer & save yourself the trouble of buying protein shakes.

17) Make Ricotta cheese at home, instead of buying the expensive pack. I think ‪@caramelwings has a recipe for that.

Guideline No. 4 – Smart Buys

18) Go to the bakery after 9pm. Before closing time most bakeries go on a half off policy. Goods are still fresh, but cheaper.

19) Us women have a third eye for SALE. Pick up only what you need & store in airtight boxes. Plan a menu around those sale items.

20) Go for loose ‪eggs or desi anda over branded. Desi anda is equally good or even better at times & cheaper always.

21) Buy in bulk and stock up longer shelf life items like flour, salt for two months.  Draw a weekly budget, plan a menu & shop only what you need, accordingly.

22) Shop small quantity of perishable items often. When it comes to dairy, green leafy etc, you can avoid wastage if you don’t happen to use them.

23) It is ‪oil not ‪diamond honey! Expensive is not always better. Buy the cheaper variety of items like olive oil or canola oil. ‪ Bikaner is now coming up with Indian manufactures Olive Oil which will turn out to be cheaper than imported olive oils.


Budget Cooking

Guideline No. 5 – Avoid Wastage

24) Complete all Mis en place that is pre-prep before you start cooking to save fuel & that extra ‪gas cylinder cost.

25) Use veggies with high yield & low wastage, such as variety of green beans, cabbage, and potatoes.

26) My nutritionist tells me that the green part of cauliflower, which we usually discard, is rich in Vitamin C & dietary fibres. Use it in cooking, either add it to the cauliflower preparation or add mix with mashed potato for a patty.

27) Don’t throw away stale bread instead use it for crumbing & frying. Grind the bread & store in an air-tight container in the freezer.

Guideline No. 6 – Using Leftovers

28) Reduce leftover vegetable curry with spices like bhuna jeera, chili & meat masalas mix it with mashed potato for delicious vegetable Seekh Kebabs.

29) My ex-boss, a ‪#Sindhi couldn’t stop praising the Sel Masala Roti made with leftover chapattis. Have you tried it? Here is a recipe to use leftover roti in a snack.

To make Sel Roti ; Garlic + onion + tomato + rotis + green chili + coriander powder + chili powder + garam masala + salt + coriander leaves + Amchur

To give ‪#Sindhi SelRoti a little twist squeeze lemon juice instead of Amchur & add in crushed papad for crunch.

30) Make lunchbox sandwiches with last night’s leftover salad. Mix the salad with flavoured hung curd to hold it as a filling.

Guideline No. 7 – Cooking Local

31) Ragi cooked in milk, sattu or wheat daliya are few desi breakfast preparations that can replace your packaged cornflakes in a ‪BudgetKitchen.

32) Get creative, use Indian local veggies like brinjals, taroi, corn, along with locally made mozzarella for your pizza in ‪#BudgetKitchen.

33) Go for Mexican/Italian/Spanish cuisines you can make with Indian grocery ingredients over Japanese / Scandanavian.

34) Dedicate ‪Rupee low time to Indian Food. Indian recipes like dal, curry & veggie preparations save cost. Add a creative twist with herbs.

Indian Food

Indian Food

Guideline No. 8 – Cook Smart

35) Guests at home? Go for Dum Aloo instead of Matar Paneer. maida naan over Puris for a good tasting & a low budget meal.

36) Cook for large portions this festive season. Choose cheaper ingredients for bulk like potato, cauliflower then play with masalas. Add flavor with spices, they are used meagerly but lend great taste to the food.

37) Kaam-choriness, thanks to Ready Cut Veggies, Browned Onions available in the market. Let’s not catch rust in front of the TV. Brush-up your skills and do the cutting, chopping at home. This also retains the nutrition in veggies.



Proper Storage

Guideline No. 9 – Store Right, Reduce Spoilage

38) Invest in Air-Tight Containers and zip-lock bags to increase the shelf life of food items.

39) Cling Wrap is God-sent when it comes to preventing food spoilage and wastage. Use cling wrap keep dough soft and the odour of strong smelling foods catching on to other stuff in the fridge.

40) Another Ande ka Funda is to use old ‪eggs for cakes & store new eggs in the fridge to keep them fresh longer.


Useful News: Tehelka ‏‪@Tehelka

10 ways the ‪#Rupee fall affects you | ‪ 


5 Reasons To Love Green Thai Curry (Kaeng Kheiyw hwan thiy); Making the Paste at Home

It is really just a 10 minute job to cut open a pack of Thai Curry Paste and throw in some veggies, chicken or seafood with a can of coconut milk. Honestly, I’d do it too if it wasn’t a Sunday. There are some good brands easily available in the market in metros. Here’s a recipe for those wish to make green Thai curry paste at home.

I prefer making my own Thai curry paste for a number of reasons.

1)   Ready Thai curry paste is not always easily available.

2)   The balance of spiciness, tanginess and the flavours can be adjusted to suit my taste.

3)   The freshness of coriander roots and freshly cut lemongrass cannot be replaced by a ready pack.

4)   I make the paste once in a month and can store it in an airtight container for weeks. So, I can still make my thai curry in 10 minutes.

5)   This Thai Curry paste recipe is vegetarian and contains no fish sauce. So, my vegetarian or vegan friends can enjoy it too!


Green Thai Curry Paste

Dark Green Chilies, heads removed            (remove seeds to reduce spice)      6 – 8

Lemongrass, stalks only, chopped               5, 5 inch each

Coriander Stalks and roots, cleaned           ½ cup

Garlic cloves, peeled              10 cloves

Ginger, peeled           2 ½ inch, cut into small pieces

Lemon zest                 of 2 ½ lemons (use lime if available)

Coriander Seeds, roasted     3 tablespoons (about 45g)

Cumin Seeds              1 tablespoon (about 15g)

Lemon Juice               of 1 Lemon

Light Soy Sauce         2 tablespoons (about 30ml)

Shallots/ Madras Onion, peeled      2

Salt to taste

Extra Virgin Olive Oil                        2 tablespoons (about 30ml)

Galangal (if available)        1 ½ inch pieces, peeled and cut

Kaffir Lime Leaves (if available)             4-5 leaves

Thai Basil (if available)     4 -5 leaves


Add all the Ingredients in a grinder jar and blitz them together to a fine paste.



Green Thai Curry


Babycorn        5 pieces, cut diagonally

Frenchbeans              15 pieces, cut diagonally

Mushrooms                10 pieces, sliced

Brocolli           1 whole, cut in florets

Red Bell Pepper        1, large, cut into odd triangles

Capsicum       2, medium, cut into odd triangles

Eggplant (Brinjal)     cut into dices


Tofu                100g, cut into odd triangles


Chicken, boneless thigh        150g, cut into cubes


Fish Fillet        2 fillets, cut into large triangles


Tiger Prawns, cleaned and deveined         4-5 pieces

For the Curry

Olive Oil (or any Vegetable Oil)       2 tablespoon (about 30ml)

Green Thai Curry Paste        4-5 tablespoons (as per your preference)

Light Soy Sauce         few drops

Coconut Milk              2 cups (about 400ml)

Salt      if required



1)   Heat oil in a pan and add in the thai curry paste, soy sauce and sauté.

2)   Boil water in a pan, pop in the broccoli and beans for 1 minute, then plunge it in cold water. Drain the water and keep aside the cooking liquid and vegetables aside.

3)   Add in the babycorn and frenchbeans to the thai curry paste and stir fry for 2–3minutes.

4)   Add in the tofu/chicken/fish/prawns, add the mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers and the remaining vegetables and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.

5)   Add in one cup of cooking liquid and bring the curry to a boil.

6)   Add in the coconut milk, cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.

NOTE: You can enhance the flavours that you prefer in Thai curry by adding specific ingredients in the curry. While sautéing the paste, add in lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves for tanginess, green chili julienne for heat or fish sauce instead of salt more authentic thai flavour.

How to Make Smoky Potato and Herb Donut? Cook for a Cause

Shop For Change Fair trade is an NGO that was founded in 2009 with a mission to harness the power of Indian markets to improve the livelihoods of poor farmers across India via trade, not aid.This year they are working with 6 farmer groups across India. They have a range of exclusive products such as chocolate cashew, organic vanilla powder, Chamomile tea, various Herb blends,  wild forest honey ( check attachment for details) – all sourced directly from small farmer groups . 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Smoky Potato and Herb Donut 

This is a savoury donuts which can be served as a snack. It is flavoured with smoky potato skins and Herb Mixture by ShopForChange.




For Smoky Potato and Herb Donuts


Potatoes          400grams (approximately 4 medium size potatoes)

Rock Salt

Vegetable Oil               20ml + for frying

Egg                  1

Sugar               5 grams

Butter              20 grams

Milk, infused              70ml

Garlic, crushed            1 clove

Refined Flour              50 grams

Baking Powder            8 grams

ShopForChange Herb Mixture      10grams

(Basil, Oregano, Garlic, Onion)

Parmesan Cheese, grated         30 grams





For the Herb and Potato Donut


1)    Preheat the oven at 200 degree Celsius. Prick the potatoes with a fork then brush them with oil. Line the baking tray with rock salt and place the potatoes on it. Place the baking tray in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.

2)    Peel the potatoes and roast the potato skin over a red-hot piece of coal to give a smoky flavour. Warm milk and add in a clove of garlic and the smoky potato skin to infuse flavour into the milk. Cover with a lid for few minutes. Strain the milk.

3)    In a bowl, whisk an egg and sugar. Slowly add in the infused milk and continue whisking. Add in the butter and whisk again.

4)    In bowl mix flour, baking powder and the ShopForChange Herb mixture. Add in this mixture to the egg-milk mixture. Whisk together the mixture well.

5)    Take one cooked potato and cut into julienne then chop it to tiny cubes. Put this potato in a zip pouch and pop it into the freezer until you complete preparing the donut mixture.

6)    Remove the flesh from the remaining potatoes and pass it through a sieve to get a smooth, lump-free mash. Add the potato and the Parmesan cheese to the donut mixture. Check for salt and add a little salt if necessary. Mix well.

7)    Remove the chopped potato from the freezer and add it into the potato donut mixture for a fun texture. Gently fold the chopped potato, do not mash.

8)    Put this mixture into a piping bag. Line a tray with butter paper and pipe out donuts onto the sheet. Put this tray with the donuts in the freezer for an hour.

9)    Remove the donuts and deep fry until golden brown.


TIP: For same size donuts, take a small round pastry cutter and pipe all the donuts around it.


How To make Vegetarian Thai Curry with Homemade Fresh Thai Curry Paste? (No fish sauce)

Many of the packaged Thai curry pastes available in the market contain shrimp paste and fish sauce. There are a few Indian brands that manufacture Thai Curry paste without a non-vegetarian base; however, these are often not easily available. Why rush to the supermarket each time you crave for Thai curry? With fresh ingredients homemade thai curry paste is a far better choice.


Vegetarian Thai Red Curry


This vegetarian thai red curry is made with fresh, homemade thai curry paste with a vegetarian base. You can also use eggplant or other vegetables as per your preference.


Note: Non-vegetarians can add in shrimp paste and fish sauce to the Thai Curry paste. Diced chicken, fish or shrimps can be added to make a Chicken or Seafood Thai curry.




Step 1: How To make Vegetarian Thai Curry Paste


Galangal (use ginger if unavailable)                 30grams, peeled

Garlic              25grams

Lemongrass stems       30grams

Fresh Coriander Roots, cleaned          50grams

Corianders Seeds, dry roasted                        15grams

Cumin, dry roasted     7grams

Red Bell Pepper          60grams

Red Chili (use fresh if available)         20grams

Fresh Turmeric Root (optional)         5grams

Soy Sauce        10ml

Vegetable Oil               25ml

Salt      to taste


Step2 : Vegetables


Broccoli, cut into florets         100grams

Green bell Pepper, diced         60grams

French Beans, 1 inch pieces    60grams

Mushrooms, cut into half       100grams

Baby Corn, halved and cut into 1 inch pieces                        60grams

Red Bell Pepper, diced           60grams


Step 3: Thai Curry


Vegetable Oil               40ml

Onion, diced                50grams

Galangal, chopped      20grams

Garlic              25 grams

Thai Curry Paste prepared in Step 1

Thai Basil        15grams

Lemongrass     15grams

Vegetable Stock           60ml

Coconut Milk             200ml

Soy Sauce        10ml

Cane Sugar                  10grams

Vegetables prepared in Step 2

Fresh Red Chili, sliced            10grams

Salt      to taste




Step 1:


Grind all the ingredients listed in Step 1 into a paste.

Homemade Thai Curry Paste (Vegetarian)


Step 2:


Boil water in a deep pan. Cut and prepare the vegetables.

Blanch the broccoli and refresh with cold water.

Blanch the green and red bell pepper and refresh with cold water.

Boil the french beans and baby corn.

Blanch the mushrooms.

Save the cooking liquid and use it as vegetable stock later on.


Step 3:


Heat oil in a pot; add garlic, galangal, onion and sauté.

Add in thai curry paste and cook well.

Add in vegetable stock, basil and cook on medium heat.

Tie the lemongrass leaves into a bundle and add it into the curry.

Add in the coconut milk, soy sauce, cane sugar and mix.

Add in the vegetables and cook on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the lemongrass bundle from the curry.

Add in the sliced red chili.

Garnish with a swirl of coconut cream and basil leaves.