Sunday, December 9, 2007

Herbal Tea for Cough and Cold

The cold and cough season has affected our house severely. Mostly on account of the cretins on my commute that use the subway as their own personal Petri dish. The cough has been especially rough on Scanlynn. I on the other hand have been bred on the fine air in Pune city with an S.P.M. count of over 150. As we entered the 4th day of our seasonal suffering, I remembered a concoction my ayurvedic doctor would prescribe. I would take most of what my vaidya prescribed with a pinch of salt. Not to mention the fact that some of his prescriptions actually required a pinch of salt. But I remembered that he had given me a recipe for a cough tea that could be taken if you were looking for a non-chemical alternative to calming the tickles in your throat. It was a good change from regular tea, and it did the job. And as a bonus it is herbal and all natural.

4 cups water
3 tsp grated ginger
1 stick cinnamon
10 cloves of cardamom
3 cloves
1/2 tsp black peppercorns (crushed)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Honey as per taste.

Place the water in a pot and heat it
Add all ingredients except honey
Bring to boil and allow it to boil for 4-5 min
Strain brew into a cup
Add honey
Drink while hot

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Palak Soup (Spinach Soup)

Growing up I had always been attracted to red foods. I could never really understand this fascination, but a red curry always seemed more appetizing than a green curry. Beets seemed more attractive than cucumbers. I never gave it much thought till I came across a research paper done by our friends at the TWBA / Chiat Day agency for their client, Heinz ketchup. Apparently, this is a very common phenomenon and not as I thought, one more of my many irritating habits. A plate of food where the central item is red always looks appetizing. This is because the eye associates the colour red with many appealing things. Freshly killed meat and blood. An abundance of blood in one’s body also signifies good health. And thus the eye looks for this colour on a plate. I just wish that I could’ve known these facts when I was young. It would’ve made refusing some rather unappealing dishes that mom tried to shove down our throats easier. It also explains my disdain for all things green. Like this Palak soup. My aunty used to make it whenever someone in the family was sick. But I could never fathom it. I have mastered making this soup. My girlfriend really likes it and asks me to make it often. I prepared it yesterday for her since she's the latest victim of flu season. Like an Alzheimer’s patient, I sat down to eat it and as I took the first spoonful in, I remembered just how much I hated spinach soup.

2 large Onions grated
2 bunches of Palak (Spinach) chopped
3 tsp Tomato Paste
1/2 cup milk
1” piece of grated Ginger
6 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Chilies finely chopped
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock (or water)
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pot and add ginger, garlic and chilies while the oil is still cold
Once it starts to sizzle, add grated onions and stir
Allow it to cook till onion turns light brown
Stir in tomato paste and allow it to cook some more
Add milk and mix till mixture becomes a loose paste
Add palak in batches and putting the next batch after the previous one has reduced
Add stock and allow it to simmer for 15 min
Remove from heat and allow the soup to cool
Blend the soup in a mixture. (If blending while hot, remove the small cap of the blender or steam will explode)
Reheat the blended soup
Garnish with croutons and butter or cream