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Cook up some great monsoon munchies

india Updated: Aug 02, 2011 20:09 IST
Priyanka Jain
Priyanka Jain
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Just because the weather’s gloomy, doesn’t mean your food has to be so. According to city chefs and dieticians, monsoon is the best time to indulge in steamed and warm food. Fresh home cooked meals are considered the safest since excessive moisture in the air reduces the shelf life of all packages food items.

“Low sunlight during monsoon also causes the growth of bacteria in food, which isn’t good for one’s health,” says Parimal Swant, Senior Chef, Renaissance Hotel, before adding, “Eat hot food and steamed vegetables with fresh herbs. Garlic is also good for this season.”

City nutritionist and dietician Pooja Makhija agrees. But more importantly, she urges everyone to completely avoid roadside food, as the source of water and other ingredients used in preparing the same have a high probability of contamination.

Following simple guidelines to not fall prey to waterborne infections during the season is also equally important. “Due to an increase in water borne microbial growth during monsoons certain food items need to be carefully checked and picked. These include dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, and lettuce,” adds Makhija.

According to her, due to increased humidity levels most fruits and vegetables too spoil easily thus selective buying is essential. Fresh produce with skin have stronger barriers, thus are more commonly preferred.

Meanwhile, city dietician and health expert Payal Gidwani Tiwari says, “Monsoon is a good time to consume vegetables like bitter gourd (karela) and bitter herbs like neem, methi seeds, turmeric, ginger, coriander, pepper and cumin seeds by adding them in your daily foods as they prevent infection.”

Instead of eating raw salad, Tiwari suggests steaming them during the raining season. She also recommends eating pumpkin, French beans, potatoes, bottle gourd, lady finger, tomatoes, bitter gourd and eggplant as these are easier to digest.

Dos and don’ts during monsoon
Avoid eating any junk food.
All vegetables must be washed thoroughly. Not just rinsed under running water, but should be soaked in salt water for at least 15 minutes and then washed thoroughly, as this kills the bacteria.
Avoid salads and cut fruits. Also avoid use of vegetables like cucumbers and cauliflower during the monsoon as they may contain harmful bacteria and worms.
Foods that need to be avoided are chaats, sandwiches, fried items, salads, fruit juices, fruit chaat or fruit salads, as all these have a lot of harmful bacteria and could lead to serious stomach upsets etc.

By Payal Gidwani Tiwari

Szechwan ma poh tofu with mincemeat in black bean

Yield: Four portions

Ingredients:
4 packets of silken tofu
200 ml cooking oil

Ingredient A
20 gm ginger
20 gm garlic
20 gm onion
100 ml chili bean paste

Ingredient B
200 gm mince chicken meat
40 gm green peas
40 gm black mushroom
80 gm preserve vegetable
100 ml Chinese wine
400 ml Chicken stock
20 ml soy sauce
20 gm dark soy
20 gm pepper
60 gm potato starch
80 ml chili oil
40 gm spring onion

Method
Cut the tofu into small cubes, heat the wok, add oil. Sauté ingredient A till fragrant.

Add in ingredient B till the mince chicken gets cooked, add wine, chicken stock. Then add soy sauce, and let it simmer for a while. Colour it with dark soy and thicken with potato starch, place on a platter garnish with chili oil and spring onion. Ready!

Steamed crystal vegetable dumplings

Yield: 4 portions

Ingredients:
100 gm carrot
200 gm water chestnut
200 gm shitake mushroom
100 gm celery
200 gm asparagus
20 gm brown garlic
8 gm salt
8 gm chicken powder
20 gm sugar
20 gm potato starch dough
200 gm potato starch
600 gm dim sum flour
300 gm potato starch
50 gm sesame oil
50 gm cooking

Method
Cut all the vegetables into small cubes. Put them in boiling water and drain. Heat the wok. Add oil and sauté all the vegetables and add in all the seasoning, set aside.

Place the dim sum flour and potato starch in mixed bowl. Slowly add hot water, make it into a soft dough, wrap with vegetable mixed into half moon shape and place into dim sum basket steam for five
minutes.

Steamed pork spa ribs with black bean

Yield: Four portions

Ingredients:

600 gm spa ribs
4 gm soda
40 gm sugar
4 gm lye water
4 gm vinegar
40 gm potato starch
2 marinate
160 gm ice cube
8 gm salt
8 gm chicken powder
20 gm sugar
20 gm potato starch
10 gm sesame oil
20 gm black bean
20 gm red chili
20 gm brown garlic

Method
Wash and clean the spa ribs and marinate for 1 hour. Season with salt, mix well and add in chicken powder, sugar, potato starch and ice cube, already mixed well. Add sesame oil.

Garnish with back bean, red chilli and brown garlic and steam for 10 minutes.

Methi cheese pakoda

Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped methi
2 cups gram flour
1/2 cup rice flour
Salt to taste
Bit of asafoetida
Bit of pepper powder
1/2 cup grated cheese
Oil to fry

Method
Mix all the ingredients, except oil. Heat oil and put in small pieces of the mixture and fry till golden brown and crisp. Serve hot with tomato ketchup.

Chefs note
When you use methi, remember to chop it only just before you mix it with the flour. Else it will become bitter. Use Methi during the monsoon as it is bitter and prevents stomach infections.

Recipe by Parimal Swant, Senior Sous Chef, Renaissance Hotel