7 recipes to spice up your immunity and management blood sugar

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We are well into the second suspension and while some took the opportunity to get fit, others fell off the wellness cart. If you need help getting back on track, Chef Micheal Swamy’s new cookbook has some pointers. The award-winning chef, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London, has been released The diabetic cookbook, a new set of recipes for health, nutrition and diabetic-friendly foods. Given that diabetes has affected the health and lifestyle of many people, this book is a handy guide to recipes that include vegetarian, non-vegetarian, and vegan dishes to enjoy while working on the disease.

Healthy recipes to try at home

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Cold soups are in a class of their own and contrary to popular belief, India is no stranger to them. This cold lentil soup is one of my favorites and I love to eat it in the summer when visiting my Bohri friends. I can spend hours in the kitchen learning their recipes, especially how to make delicious biryanis. But of all the recipes I’ve learned, this one remains special because of its refreshing quality. Traditionally, the cucumber is grated and added as a side dish. In this recipe, however, I mixed in the cucumber to add body and flavor to the soup.

ingredients

Served 4

1/4 cup split pigeon peas (Arhar Dal)

2 cups vegetable stock or water 1 teaspoon cumin, lightly toasted

1 cup of yogurt

1 large cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped 2 green chili peppers

2 spring onion stalks, roughly chopped, plus chopped vegetables for garnish

Salt to taste

1 cup of crushed ice

Juice of 1 lime

Combine lentils with broth or water and cumin and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the lentils are tender and mashable, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and strain, keeping the broth and lentils separately.

In a blender, grind the strained lentils with yogurt to a smooth puree.

Add the remaining ingredients (except lime juice) and blend to a smooth puree.

Strain into a bowl and stir in the rest of the broth. Place in the fridge to cool. Add the lime juice just before serving.

Garnish the chilled soup with the spring onion greens and serve.

carrot-ginger soup

carrot-ginger soup

Stacks of carrots with their stems are a sight that takes me straight back to picture books of my childhood. Pulling them fresh from the ground up is an experience I’ll never forget – simple yet enjoyable! The carrot is rich in vitamins and is combined with the calming properties of ginger, the wonder herb known to cure many diseases.

ingredients

Served 4

2 tbsp rice bran oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 1 celery stalk, finely chopped 1 kg of carrots, peeled and

roughly chopped

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

2 teaspoons of cumin powder

4–6 cups of vegetable broth

Salt to taste

1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh dill for garnish

2 sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots and sauté until the onion is translucent.

Add ginger and cumin powder and stir in the broth.

Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are cooked through.

Let the mixture cool and mix into a smooth puree.

Put the mashed soup in a pan and place over low heat. Add salt and pepper.

Let the soup simmer gently over low heat. Garnish with dill and parsley and serve hot.

Curry okra soup

Curry okra soup

Okra may not be a global favorite due to its slimy texture, but it’s a wonderful ingredient for those who need to control their blood sugar. My mother, who had severe diabetes, was prescribed half a glass of okra water every morning, which she drank with the greatest frown on her face. We tried this simplified version of gumbo one day and it never frowned again.

ingredients

Serves 2-3

1 cup of baby okra

2 teaspoons of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1 inch piece of ginger, finely grated

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp curry powder

6 cups vegetable broth or water 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Juice of 2 limes

A few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped

Wash and dry the baby okra and cut off the tips and tips.

In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the cumin and ginger. Fry for a few seconds until fragrant.

Add onion, curry powder, and okra and sauté until okra is tender.

Stir in the broth with salt and pepper and simmer the soup for 5–7 minutes.

Take out the pan and stir in the lime juice. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.

Ajwain tambuli

Ajwain tambuli

South India can be hot in the summer and this soup is the perfect antidote to the unforgiving heat. Made from simple ingredients like coconut and buttermilk, it, along with the anti-inflammatory caramel leaves, makes for a refreshing and soothing drink before lunch on a hot summer afternoon.

ingredients

Served 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1⁄2 teaspoon cumin

1⁄2 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

8 large fresh caramel leaves, washed, dried and finely chopped

3 tbsp grated fresh coconut 3 cups buttermilk, slightly sour

Salt to taste

1⁄2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds

1⁄4 teaspoon asafoetida

2 dry red chili peppers, broken into pieces

1 small sprig of fresh curry leaves

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan over medium heat and add cumin and pepper.

When the cumin crackles, add the carom leaves and sauté them until they wilt and release some moisture. Remove from fire and let cool down to room temperature.

Mix the carom leaves with the grated coconut and 1/4 cup buttermilk to form a smooth paste. Then add another cup of buttermilk and stir until smooth.

Mix the puree with the rest of the buttermilk in a bowl, add salt and stir well.

To temper, heat the remaining oil in a small pan over medium heat and add mustard seeds, asafoetida, red chili peppers and curry leaves. When the spices crackle, pour the mixture over the prepared tambuli.

Serve immediately.

Yams with a pepper crust

Yam with pepper crust

The variety of yam available across India is amazing and I first encountered purple yam on a trip to Andhra Pradesh. As for superfoods, it’s great for diabetics. Here pink pepper gives this earthy vegetable a special taste.

ingredients

Served 4

400 g purple yam, cut into thick sticks

1⁄2 teaspoon garam masala powder

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped

Salt to taste

4–5 cups of vegetable stock or water

1 tbsp tamarind paste

2 teaspoons of peppercorns

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1⁄2 teaspoon cumin

1⁄2 cup of semolina

Oil for flat frying

In a pan, add the yam, garam masala, onion, garlic, salt and broth or water and cook over high heat. Cook until the yam is cooked but firm enough to hold the shape. Alternatively, steam the yam.

When you’re done, drain the yam properly. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add tamarind paste and stir gently. Put aside.

Grind the peppercorns, fennel and cumin seeds in a spice grinder to a coarse powder.

Mix the seasoning powder with semolina and salt in a bowl and distribute it on a small plate.

Roll the batons in the seasoned semolina mixture and fry flat on a frying pan over medium heat until they turn golden yellow and slightly crispy on the surface.

Serve hot with a salad of your choice.

Valaipoo murungai keerai varuval

Valaipoo murungai keerai varuval

My favorite morning look are drumsticks hanging from a tree and pulling gentle rays of sun through the leaves. There was a tree in my neighborhood, and when we were kids we took a long stick with a tiny hook and peeled off the drumsticks. What fun! Today drumsticks and their leaves are popular as a superfood. Here the leaves have been combined with another delicious, healthy ingredient – banana blossom.

Served 4

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 tbsp divided Bengal gram (Chana Dal)

2 large fresh red chillies or dried red chillies, broken into pieces of 5 to 6 shallots, chopped

1⁄4 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)

1 large banana blossom, cleaned

1 cup of drumstick leaves

Salt to taste

1/4 cup of grated fresh coconut for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the mustard seeds, split grams and chili peppers. When the mustard is crackling, add shallots and sauté them until translucent and lightly coloring the gram.

Add turmeric and banana blossom and cook for 4-5 minutes until the blossom is tender and cooked.

Raise the heat to high and add drumstick leaves with salt. Stir well and cook, stirring constantly, until the moisture dries out and the leaves wither.

Sprinkle with desiccated coconut and serve hot with steamed rice and rasam.

Fry the fenugreek prawns while stirring

Fry the fenugreek prawns while stirring

The earthy, herbal smell of fenugreek wafts through the walls when this dish is cooked at home. It’s not a smell that I like; I love the dish and do it regularly. This is a traditional community recipe and I was always amazed at how well the bitter fenugreek goes with the juicy prawns.

Served 4

11⁄2 tsp sesame oil

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 1 onion, finely chopped

2 green chili peppers, finely chopped 1 tomato, finely chopped

11⁄2 cups fresh shrimp, rinsed and drained thoroughly 1 cup fresh fenugreek leaves,

washed and dried

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, add the garlic and fry until fragrant.

Add the onion, chili peppers, and tomato and sauté until the onion turns golden. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Cook for 3 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked and the fenugreek is wilting.

Remove from heat and serve hot with rotis.

Extracted / reproduced with permission from Bloomsbury India, Rs799. Available on Amazon.