I is for Indian

spices-541974For 2017, the A to Z of Superfoods blog goes on tour! Each month, we’ll look at a different cuisine and pick out those elements that make it healthy – then create some recipes around them, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

Now for the disclaimer – I don’t claim to be an expert on any country’s cuisine but, like you, I know the dishes I enjoy and am interested in how we might make them a healthier choice.

So, for January, let’s go for an Indian! I’ve not been to India, but I do believe that UK-style Indian meals, whether in a restaurant or from a supermarket, are vastly different from the real thing. My main problem with the UK version is that it’s so carb-heavy – with bread and rice being the most usual accompaniments. So I’m going to suggest that you might serve the bhaji recipe below as a main, rather than a starter, and with the salad, instead of rice or bread.

But let’s kick off with our usual juice/smoothie recipe…

Golden Turmeric Smoothie

The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric are well known and the subject of over 6,000 scientific papers demonstrating its potential against cancer, diabetes, arthritis and a range of other conditions. So here is my standard Nutribullet berry smoothie with added turmeric, which turns the drink into a lovely peach-gold colour. I used fresh cranberries, which I like to juice when they are in season but, for a sweeter drink, substitute blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or a mixture.

Serves one
Half tsp turmeric powder
250ml hemp or almond milk
One banana
One inch peeled and chopped ginger
100g fresh cranberries
One tsp cacao powder
Blast all ingredients in the Nutribullet and drink immediately.

Indian Salad

This is my version of the kachcumber salad which is my favourite side in an Indian restaurant.

Serves two to three
Quarter cucumber chopped
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
One red onion, diced
Two carrots, chopped small
75g peanuts
40g pomegranate seeds
Chopped coriander
Toasted black mustard seeds

Assemble all the ingredients. Toast the mustard seeds in a tablespoon of rapeseed oil till they start to pop. Add seeds and oil to the salad and toss everything together.

Onion and spinach bhajis

Makes six to eight bhajis

100g gram flour
One tbsp melted butter
Juice of half a lemon
One tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds
One tbsp. grated ginger
One tsp ground cinnamon
One tsp turmeric
One chopped red chili
Bunch of coriander, chopped
Two red onions, diced
One bag spinach, chopped finely

Sift the flour into a big mixing bowl and then add the butter, lemon juice, spices, chili and coriander. Add enough water to give a batter with the consistency of double cream. Then add in the onions and spinach. Heat enough coconut oil in a large frying pan to give a frying depth of around half an inch. Turn the heat down slightly and make the mixture into mounds, with a big spoon, and add to the hot oil. Watch the bhajis brown as the batter solidifies, turning them over as it does so. This will take five to 10 minutes, depending on your cooker and how hot the oil is. Serve immediately (although they can be re-heated and are they are nice served cold as well).

With thanks to Kenny and Tan for teaching me how to make this recipe!

Next month – M is for Mexican.

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