Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Cookbook Review

By Shephali J. Rele

The Ingredients Matter: IndiaThe Ingredients Matter: India” by Urmi M. Patel, M.S., Hina Balar, B.E., Shilpa P. Saxena, M.D.; 119 pages; $24.95; www.TheIngredientsMatter.com

If you believe that food is medicine and the foods you eat contribute directly to your health or if you are just looking for new, easy-to-follow, tasty Indian vegetarian recipes, this cookbook is a wonderful resource of allergy-free recipes. The book’s tagline is “Healing with restorative recipes” and the introduction by Shilpa P. Saxena, M.D., explains the medical science behind the carefully selected ingredients and their impact on the gastrointestinal and immune systems and how modern food production has led to physical consequences that should be understood. The recipes are divided in sections of light fare, main dishes, gluten-free breads, accompaniments, desserts, energy nut bars and beverages. The nutritional value and healing properties of one ingredient for each dish is highlighted to understand its impact on the body.

Khaas Baat met with self-described foodie, author Urmi M. Patel of Lutz, Florida. She explained that personal health issues and the discovery that she and her family members were facing multiple food sensitivities and allergies inspired her to create new meals using different ingredients that were both delicious and healing. Patel hopes to make people aware that gluten and cane sugar allergies/sensitivities have been linked to auto-immune disorders such as allergies, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and Type 1 diabetes, which is prevalent in our Indian community and there are other ingredients that can be used.

I also had the opportunity to try several dishes from the book made by the author herself and each one tasted fabulous. More important, my attempts to prepare them later at home, using the clear instructions from the cookbook, led to (much to my family’s surprise) equally tasty results. Some of my favorites are the millet salad (shown on the book cover), roasted eggplant subzi, and raajma with kale. Moms and kids will love the various energy nut bars, a nutritious alternative to cookies for the lunchbox.

With the festive Diwali season right around the corner, here is a recipe reproduced from the book with the authors’ permission.

Oats HalwaOats Halwa

If you thought you were doing your body good by eating instant or rolled oats, think again. Steel cut oats are the healthiest, low glycemic form of oats you should be including in your food plan. With the bran and germ layers untouched, steel cut oats provide a hefty dose of soluble fiber which helps remove cholesterol from the digestive system, keeping it from entering the bloodstream. The wisdom behind the right oats- pass it on!

Bring the milk to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. (If using a milk substitute, simmer at low heat to avoid curdling.)

Divide steel cut oats into two ½ cup portions. Coarsely grind the steel cut oats in a spice mill, ½ cup at a time.

Heat the olive oil in a separate saucepan to medium heat. Add the coarsely ground oats to the oil and roast on medium heat for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Stir in the cardamom powder, maple sugar, and saffron to the oats and mix well.

Pour the heated milk slowly to the flavored oats mixture as you whisk briskly to avoid the formation of clumps. Once well combined, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and let the oats cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the oats absorb all of the liquid and are soft and fully cooked.

Serve warm or chilled with a garnish of slivered almonds.

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