Spice Up Your Diet for a bit of Extra Fat Burning!

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_Header

Things are getting very exciting on the spice front! Ongoing research suggests that eating foods containing what are best known as ‘curry spices’ (cayenne, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek) may increase the body’s temperature by as much as 20 percent, meaning more calories are burned after a meal. A few small studies have also revealed that we feel full more quickly when we eat spicy dishes so we eat less. Good news all round for those who ‘like it hot’ whilst watching their waistlines!

And it’s not just the ‘curry spices’. Cinnamon, ginger, black pepper and cloves are also being investigated and are earning their stripes when it comes to boosting metabolism, improving digestion, easing congestion and reducing the threat of insulin ‘spikes’ which see us reaching for sugary, fatty foods all too often.

ginger-cinnamon-justcarehealth

When we overeat, fat cells expand and if they are regularly over-stuffed (particularly those around the midriff) inflammatory chemicals leap into action and interfere with the balance of our appetite hormones; ghrelin which tells us when we are hungry and leptin which tells us when we are full. This can result in us becoming less sensitive to signals telling us we have had enough to eat so we eat more.

Any kind of inflammation within the body promotes the formation of dangerous molecules called free radicals, which if allowed to proliferate, wreak havoc and damage cells. Antioxidants work in tandem with the body’s natural defences by forming a protective shield around our body cells and absorbing these free radicals which are neutralised, lose their destructive power and are safely excreted from the body so a diet rich in foods that feed the antioxidant shield are vital. You can also get a great boost to your antioxidant intake if you consume alpha lipoic acid before bed. Its a powerful antioxidant with many other benefits that is worth looking into.

Measure for measure, spices have more antioxidant power than many fruits and vegetables.

A few things to do with spices to reap their fat busting and protective benefits:

  • Have a big mug of hot water, lemon juice and grated fresh ginger first thing in the morning.
  • Top your porridge with sliced apples or apple puree and a good sprinkling of cinnamon.
  • Opt for spicy soups at lunchtime (try our Spicy Meatball Soup from Soup Can Make You Thin www.souperydupery.com)
  • Rub spices mixed with a little olive oil over meat, poultry and meaty fish before grilling or roasting.
  • Make or buy spiced teas for a warming drink mid morning or mid afternoon.
  • Spice up your nuts and seeds by coating them with a mix of cayenne, turmeric and coriander and roasting them in the oven (keep an eye on them as they quickly burn).
  • Add them to your salad dressings (particularly good with finely sliced, crunchy vegetables like cabbage, bok choy, chicory and endive) or use chilli oil in place of olive oil.
  • Make spiced butters and top your steamed vegetables with a disc or two (not much butter involved).
  • Very finely dice green and red chillies and add a bit of subtle heat to soups and stews.
  • Sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, turnip and parsnips marry extremely well with spices; the tang cuts through the sweetness. So, be generous when you are roasting these vegetables or add them later if you are going for a mash.

kumars curries

Interestingly, another fairly comprehensive study found that those who consumed the most curry had the sharpest minds and lowest risk of Alzheimer’s disease (inflammation in the brain). Waistline-friendly and brain-friendly? Make mine a Tandoori Chicken with Chana Masala and Spiced Cauliflower on the side (hold the rice and naan bread!)

There are so many ways to spice up your diet and I would love to know any tips you may have so leave a comment below if you have time or email me through my websites, www.fatbustforever.com and www.souperydupery.com

Images reproduced from justcarehealth.com and verstegen.co.uk

Green Cabbage Curry

I usually use white cabbage for making sambharo, muthias and rasiya muthiyas but never make cabbage curry (kobi nu shak).  Whenever I think of Cabbage curry- I remember how my sister in law  who used to live in Mombasa (Kenya)  made the best  cabbage and potato curry.  No one can replicate that taste and for that reason – I  never made this curry.

Last week, I read about the goodness of green cabbage and I bought a cabbage to make stuffed cabbage leaves. However, I found that the cabbage leaves were so tough that I couldn’t use them for that recipe. The cabbage was lovely to use in salads and sandwiches and I made this plain and simple curry and I was amazed at how tasty it turned out.



Ingredients for 2 servings:

4 cups of shredded cabbage (I used Green cabbage but you can use any variety)
2-4 fresh green chillies
bunch of coriander
2 medium fresh tomatoes
1 -2 tsp of garlic paste
½ tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric
1 tbp lemon juice
1 tsp splenda or sugar
1 tespoon mustard seeds>
1 tbs oil (I used sunflower oil)

Method:

1.  Shred the cabbage and cut the chillies into small circles.

2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Once they stop popping, add in the cabbage leaves.  Also add the salt, green chillies, turmeric and toss the cabbage leaves.  Cover and allow to cook for 7-8 minutes. The green cabbage does not contain as much moisture and the curry remains fairly dry and cooks almost like a stir fry.

3.  Chop the tomatoes into small chunks and add to the cabbage curry.  Using a garlic press add the garlic to the curry.  Add the lemon juice and splenda.  Mix well and cook for a further 5 minutes.

 

5. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with fresh chappatis

 

Kenyan Green Beans and Potato Curry

Years ago when on a business trip to Kenya – I was taken by the British High Commission in Nairobi, to see a vegetable packing plant where the Kenyan ladies were packing these freshly picked green beans, baby corn and mange tout for UK stores like Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco.  The best beans are picked very early in the morning, washed and prepared in three ways -either  left whole, left with just the top and bottom chopped or cut into tiny pieces.  This was being done under strict hygienic conditions.  They even had a British Airways Cargo container at the factory where the vegetable boxes would be labelled – showing which farm the crop came from and the date picked etc. before loading them in the container.  These beans were flown out the same evening from Kenya and they got to UK early morning for the market wholesalers to pick up.  It was an amazing visit and since that day I have always looked with wonder at the beans and other vegetables from abroad and appreciate the fact that the some of the best crops are exported to UK where people like me can enjoy cooking them.

These beans cook really fast and are so tasty that they don’t need much effort to prepare.

Ingredients 

2 medium potatoes -washed and diced.
2 cups of chopped Kenyan beans
1 tablespoon
oil (Most cooking oils are fine but try and use one which is low in saturated
fats and trans fats)
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chilly powder (or as required to your taste)
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of ground cummin (jeera) powder.
Half cup of tinned tomatoes.
2 teaspoons lemon
1 teaspoons of brown sugar or jaggery.
small bunch of fresh coriander.

Method

1. Dice the potatoes into cubes and the beans into very small pieces and soak them in cold water.

2.  Heat the oil in a saucepan.

3. Add the mustard seeds. They should start popping – if not, stir them with a wooden spoon and wait for them to pop.

4. Drain and add the diced potatoes and beans and add them to the saucepan.

 

5.  Add the salt, turmeric, chilly powder, cumin powder, garlic (small pieces or crushed) sugar or jaggery and stir well.

 

6. Transfer this mixture to a microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes

7.   Add only half a cup of water and cook for a further  5 minutes in the microwave. Check to see if the potatoes have softened.  If not give it another 2 minutes.  Everyone’s microwave is different so the timing could vary.

 

8 .  One the potatoes are soft soft, add the tomatoes and lemon juice and let it cook for 5 minutes.  Don’t add too many tomatoes to this curry and  make it dry.   The whole cooking process for me was 10 minutes in the microwave as the beans were so fresh and tender.

9. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with hot chappatis.

 

Broad Bean Curry

Healthy and nutritious broad beans cooked with a blend of spices in a garlicky curry sauce.

Preparation time – 15 minutes
Cooking Time - 20 Minutes
Serves 2

Ingredients

8oz fresh or frozen broad beans
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tomatoes deseeded and pureed
1 teaspoon tomato puree
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ tablespoon fresh chopped coriander
1/2 cup water

Method

1. Steam the broad beans in a steamer or alternatively place in a microwaveable bowl with a little water and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender.
2. Heat the oil in a pan, when hot add the mustard seeds and cook until they start popping. Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds. (Do not burn the garlic)
3. Add the pureed tomatoes and tomato paste.
4. Add the salt, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin and coriander powders and sauté the tomato spice mixture for about 5 minutes until oil starts to separate from the sauce.
5. Remove the beans from the microwave and add to the sauce.
6. Add half cup water and simmer for about 5 minutes until sauce thickens.
7. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with chopped coriander.

Serve with hot chapattis.

Masala Aloo (Spicy Potatoes)

Tender baby pototoes steamed and cooked in a fusion of spices and aromatic green peas gravy.

Preparation time – 15 minutes
Cooking time- 30 minutes
Serves- 4

Ingredients:

10 Baby new Potatoes
1 cup frozen or fresh Green Peas
1 red Onion finely diced
2 medium Tomatoes
1 teaspon Garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon Cumin powder
1 /2 teaspoon Chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon MDH kitchen king masala( or garam masala)
2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 tablespoons single Cream
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Coriander

Method:

1. Wash and steam the potatoes until tender.
2. Prick the potatoes with a fork and keep aside.
3. Grind the peas coarsely and keep aside.
4. Dice and puree the tomatoes in a blender to a smooth puree.
4. In a pan add the oil ,when it is hot add the mustard seeds, wait for them to splutter and then add the garlic and onions and sauté till translucent.
5. Add the pureed tomatoes, followed by the salt, chilli powder, cumin, coriander and turmeric powders. Sauté for 3 more minutes until tomatoes and spices blend together.
6. Add the coarsely ground peas and cook with 1/2 cup water for 5 minutes  until the gravy becomes nicely blended with all the spices.
7. Add the steamed potatoes to the green gravy. Add another 1/2 cup of water.Stir in the MDH kitchen king masala.
8. Cover and cook allowing the gravy and spices to infuse and flavour the potatoes.
9. Finally stir in the cream and transfer to serving dish.Garnish with freshly chopped coriander

Serve with hot Chappatis or Rice

Potato & Mixed Vegetable Curry

Mina Joshi brings you Taste of India – the new indian cookery series for City Connect. Try Mina’s recipe for this yummy vegetarian curry and fall in love with the Taste of India.

I am always telling friends how quick and easy it is to make tasty curries at home. Most of my recipes are easy to follow and cook, using ingredients available in most supermarkets. This potato and mixed vegetable curry is a perfect dish to serve with rice and naan bread. The mixed vegetables make it a healthy curry choice for lunch or dinner.

POTATO AND MIXED VEGETABLE CURRY

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes

Ingredients for 4 servings

1 teaspoon cumin seeds or mustard seeds
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of chilli powder
½ teaspoon of turmeric
½ teaspoon of a mixture of cumin and coriander powder
2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
2 tablespoons of sunflower cooking oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (optional)
1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)
2 medium sized boiled potatoes
3 cups of any frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup of passata ( or crushed tinned tomatoes)
Small bunch of coriander (for garnishing)
2-3 green chillies (optional)

Method:

1. Soak your frozen vegetables in hot water and once they soften, chop them into smaller pieces.

2. Heat the oil in saucepan and add the cumin and mustard seeds to the oil.

3. The mustard will pop when the oil gets hot and the cumin will start to get darker. This means that the oil is ready.

4. Rinse the frozen vegetables and add them to the heated oil.

5. Add the salt, turmeric, chilly powder, crushed garlic and cumin coriander to the mixture and stir well so that all the vegetables get coated with the spices.

6. Cook this for a minute and add the passata to this mixture with one cup of hot water.

7. Allow this to simmer gently for 6-7 minutes.

8. Chop the boiled potato into small cubes and add it to the mixed vegetables.

9. Stir well and allow to cook for 5 minutes.

10. Add the lemon juice and brown sugar if you like a sweet and sour taste.

11. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with green chillies or coriander.

12. Serve hot with Basmati rice.

Tip: You can add chicken (or Quorn chicken style pieces for vegetarians) to make a more substantial curry when entertaining friends.

You can also use fresh vegetables if you like but the cooking time will be a bit longer if using fresh vegetables.

If the curry gravy looks runny, you can add a teaspoon of cornflour to thicken it.

Images courtesy of Mina Joshi

Adzuki Bean Curry

Red Chori-Adzuki beans-Low in cholesterol , high in protein this bean has a rich nutty flavour.When cooked  with aromatic spices Adzuki beans  makes a delicious  rich and creamy curry .

Preparation time - 20 minutes
Cooking time  -20 minutes
Serves-4

Ingredients:

2 cans precooked Adzuki beans
100ml water
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
2 medium tomatoes blended to a puree
1 teaspoon tomato puree
2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

1. Open the cans of beans and transfer them to a large bowl.
2. In a pan heat the oil, when it is  hot add the mustard seeds, once they begin to splutter add the garlic paste and saute  for few minutes.
4. Add the blended tomatoes, tomato puree, salt,coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric and chilli powder.
5. Cook the gravy till tomatoes and spices in fuse and tomatoes start to separate the oil.
6. Add the pre cooked  beans in to the tomato gravy. Add the water and stir well.
7. Simmer for 5 minutes. The curry should have a thick gravy. Add a little more water if needed.
8. Garnish with green chillies and lemon slices.
Serve  the curry topped with a squeeze of lemon juice with hot chappatis or nan bread and rice.

Sweetcorn Curry with Nuts & Dessicated Coconut

I have always loved sweetcorn especially the canned version. I love eating it cold in salads and I’ll often open a small can for my lunch and just eat it cold. This reminds me of my student days!!

If you like your curry to be rich and creamy and slightly sweet, you will like this sweetcorn curry. You can use frozen or canned sweetcorn for this recipe.

Cooking Time – 20 minutes

Ingredients for 4 servings:

4 cups of frozen sweetcorn ( For canned sweetcorn, drain the juices and rinse the sweetcorn with cold water)
1 cup chopped fresh or tinned tomatoes
½ cup mixed peanuts and cashews
¼ cup desiccated coconut
2-3 tablespoons cooking oil (I used sunflower oil)
1 teaspoon dry cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder (use more if you like hot food)
2-3 cloves of blended garlic
Small bunch of coriander or some curry leaves for garnishing

Method:

1. Roast the peanuts and cashew nuts either on a non-stick saucepan or for 2-3 minutes in a microwave.

2. Grind the nuts and mix them with the dessicated coconut and set aside.

3. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and add in the cumin seeds.

4. Once the seeds go dark brown, add the sweet corn and stir.

5. Add the spices – salt, turmeric, chilli powder and stir.

6. Add the garlic and once the sweet corn is soft and cooked, add the tomatoes together with half a cup of water.

7. Now add the ground nuts and desiccated coconut to the mixture.

8. Allow this to cook for 5-7 minutes and transfer to a serving bowl. garnish it with coriander or curry leaves.

9.  Serve the curry hot with chapatis or Naan bread.

Buyers Guide: Kumar’s Curry & Bumbu Sauces

New to the UK is the most amazing range of curry sauces that are like nothing you will have ever tasted before. Kumar’s curry sauces and bumbu’s will give you the true taste of South Asian cuisine in convenient ready-to-use pots that are now available in the UK for home delivery. “Bumbu” is the Indonesian word for spice or seasoning. Bumbu commonly appears in the names of spice mixtures, sauces and seasoning pastes from countries within Southern Asia.

Kumar’s range of 13 fresh curry sauces and bumbu’s take you right back to the literal “roots” of many familiar sounding, and some less well-known curry dishes, originating from southern India, Thailand and Indonesia. The curries and bumbu’s eaten by the people of Southern Asia are typically a much dryer dish than the anglicised versions of curry we are familiar with in the UK and these authentic dishes also contain many fresh ingredients that simply cannot be bought locally over here.

For those who want a more authentic taste experience, help is at hand from Suresh Kumar who is a talented Malaysian chef working for the Verstegen food group. Suresh knows nothing about the fake anglicised curries the British have suffered over the years. He bases his recipes purely on his own knowledge of ingredients from Southern Asia which he combines with the expertise necessary to carefully blend and balance the many complex flavours contained within every Kumar’s sauce and bumbu paste.

These ready-to-use sauces are very thick and paste-like when you first open the pots. Kumar’s sauces are not runny or full of oil like those that we have become accustomed to using. Preparing a curry at home couldn’t be simpler with the help of Suresh’s delicious and easy-to-use sauces. Just add the entire pot of sauce to 500g of seared meat, fish or vegetables, stir well, and simmer. You can always add a little water to the sauce to thin out the consistency or add plain yoghurt if you want a milder flavour.

Kumar’s sauces are nothing like the sickly sweet, creamy, violently coloured, flavour enhanced imposters being sold under the name of curry sauces in Britain today. Be warned that your palate could be pleasantly surprised by the unfamiliar spicy sensations you experience the first time you taste the curries, especially with the ones you think you are already familiar with.  The Kumar range includes Korma, Madras, Tikka Masala and Vindaloo sauces as well as some special Indonesian varieties and they are all available for home delivery.

Making the effort to cook with the more unfamiliar sauces from Indonesia is highly recommended for a new taste sensation. Use Kumar’s Rendang Sauce to make a classic Indonesian Beef Rendang curry . Chicken goes very well with Kumar’s Bumbu Bali Sauce. Slow-cooked pork is delicious cooked in Kumar’s Babi Ketjap Sauce. For a tasty duck curry, use Kumar’s Besengek Sauce to make an authentic Indonesian dish known as Bebek Besengek.

Suresh Kumar shares his great passion for south Asian cuisine with a growing customer following here in the UK. His aim is to blend inspiration, generations of knowledge and fresh ingredients together in perfect balance, leading you to new experiences, lasting memories and most importantly, flavoursome authentic South East Asian cooking that you will truly love to prepare and enjoy with friends and family for many years to come.

Kumar’s sauces are available by mail order from Verstegen Direct. Each 350g tub costs £3.99 plus P&P. Check out their website today for the special introductory offer of any 6 varieties from the Kumar’s range for only £19.98 with free UK delivery.

Images reproduced from verstegen-direct.co.uk