If you're mentally preparing yourself to pile on the pounds this festive season, don't. There's a way diet junkies and diabetics can enjoy their favourite traditional sweets and yet, avoid the sugar rush.
Cooking Queen Tarla Dalal's new book, Good Food For Diabetics, published in association with Sanofi-Aventis, is trying to introduce a healthier approach to your Diwali diet.
"People say that almost 60 per cent of our population is suffering from diabetes. This could be due to stress, over-eating or could be hereditary," explains Dalal.
"I wanted to create recipes for good food and drinks so that even diabetics could be included in the festivities."
Admitting that she works on market demand, Dalal adds, "These recipes work for people who are diabetic, have high blood pressure problems and want to lose weight."
The kitchen veteran points out that Indian cuisine has the classic problem of being too spicy, and almost always very oily. She says, "We do have access to herbs like ginger, black pepper and coriander, which we use in daily cooking. If we just minimise the use of oil and garam masala in our cooking, it will be better for digestion and our overall health."
Talking about her favourite sweet recipe, Dalal reveals that she has a weakness for rasgullas. She recommends, "Diabetics can enjoy it by squeezing the syrup out and then dipping it in water three times. After that, dip it in chilled milk that's been flavoured with badam, pista and artificial sweetener."
But quiz her whether articifial sweetener is a healthy substitute for sugar and Dalal responds, "I'm not a doctor. There is no other option and also, many doctors have approved of it. If you have things in moderation, you are allowed to take a few liberties."
Sugar Free Date Rolls
Dates are naturally sweet and full of nutrients. Although not allowed in large quantities for diabetics, these are any day a better option compared to other sugar-laden sweets. Since this recipe contains nuts, it falls easily on the richer side of the sweets spectrum, so indulge in it in small portions and only once in 20 days to satisfy your sweet tooth. Poppy seeds and nuts are rich in protein, calcium etc. And therefore, there is a good dose of nutrients too in store!
Preparation Time: 5 mins
Makes: 6 rolls
1/2 tsp ghee
3/4 cup deseeded and finely chopped black dates (kala khajur)
1 tbsp chopped almonds (badam)
1 tbsp chopped pistachio nuts
1 tbsp chopped walnuts (akhrot)
2 tbsp poppy seeds (khus-khus) for coating
Heat the ghee in a non-stick pan, add the dates and cook on a slow flame, while stirring continuously for 5 to 7 minutes or till they turn into a soft lump.
Remove and add the almonds, pistachio nuts and walnuts and mix well.
Divide into 6 equal portions and shape each portion into a roll.
Coat each roll with poppy seeds and refrigerate to set.
Making rabdi, the traditional way, is a time-consuming affair as the milk is simmered on a low flame for a long time to thicken and get its desired texture. I used the quickest way by using corn flour for thickening and lemon juice to get the required grainy texture. Use readily available rasgullas, squeeze them thoroughly to remove all the sugar syrup.
Preparation Time: 10 mins.
Cooking Time: 10 mins.
3 cups low fat milk
8 Rasgullas , cut into halves
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cornflour dissolved in 1 tbsp low fat milk
4 tsp sugar substitute
A pinch cinnamon (dalchini) powder