7 recipes to boost your immunity and control blood sugar


We’re well into the second lockdown and while some have taken the opportunity to get fit, others have fallen off the wellness wagon. If you need some help getting back on track, chef Micheal Swamy’s new cookbook has some pointers. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London, the award-winning chef has released The Diabetic Cookbook, a new compilation of recipes centred around health, nutrition and diabetic-friendly food. Given that diabetes has impacted the health and lifestyle of many, this book is a handy guide of recipes that includes vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan dishes that one can enjoy as they work to control the disease.

Healthy recipes to try at home

Sarki 

Sarki

Cold soups are a class in themselves and, contrary to the popular belief, India is no stranger to them. This cold lentil soup is one of my favourites, and I love eating it in the summer when I visit 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 learnt, this one remains special because of its refreshing quality. Traditionally, the cucumber is grated and added as garnish. However, in this recipe, I’ve blended in the cucumber to give the soup more body and flavour.

Ingredients

Serves 4

1⁄4 cup split pigeon peas (arhar dal)

2 cups vegetable stock or water 1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly roasted

1 cup whisked yoghurt

1 large cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped 2 green chillies

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

Salt to taste

1 cup crushed ice

Juice of 1 lime

Combine lentils with stock or water and cumin and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the lentils are tender and mashable, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Cool the mixture to room temperature and strain, reserving the broth and lentils separately.

Grind the strained lentils in a blender with yoghurt to a smooth puree.

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

Strain into a bowl and whisk in the remaining broth. Refrigerate to chill. Add the lime juice just before serving.

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

Carrot and ginger soup

Carrot and Ginger Soup

Stacks of carrots with their stalks is a sight that takes me right back to picture books of my childhood. Pulling them fresh out of the ground is an experience I will never forget—simple yet enjoyable! Rich in vitamins, here, the carrot is paired with the soothing qualities of ginger, the wonder herb known to heal many ailments.

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 tbsps rice bran oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

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

roughly chopped

 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

2 tsps cumin powder

4–6 cups vegetable stock

Salt to taste

1⁄2 to 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsps chopped fresh dill, for garnish

2 fresh parsley sprigs, chopped, for garnish

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

Add ginger and cumin powder and stir in the stock.

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

Cool the mixture and blend into a smooth puree.

Strain the pureed soup into a pan and place over low heat. Add salt and pepper.

Bring the soup to a gentle simmer over low heat. Garnish with dill and parsley and serve hot.

Curried Okra Soup

Curried Okra Soup

Okra may not be a global favourite because of its slimy texture, but it is a wonder ingredient for those who need to control their blood sugar. My mother, a serious diabetic, had been prescribed half a glass of okra water every morning, which she drank with the biggest frown on her face. We tried this simplified version of gumbo one day and she never frowned again.

Ingredients

Serves 2-3

1 cup baby okra

2 tsps vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1-inch piece of ginger, finely grated

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp curry powder

6 cups vegetable stock or water 1⁄2 tsp salt

1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 

Juice of 2 limes

A few fresh parsley sprigs, chopped

Wash and dry the baby okra and slice off the tops and tips.

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium–low heat and add cumin and ginger. Sauté for a few seconds till fragrant.

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

Stir in stock with salt and pepper and bring the soup to a simmer for 5–7 minutes.

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

Ajwain Tambuli 

Ajwain Tambuli

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

Ingredients

Serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1⁄2 tsp cumin seeds

1⁄2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

8 large fresh carom leaves, washed, pat dried and finely chopped

3 tbsps grated fresh coconut 3 cups buttermilk, slightly sour

Salt to taste

1⁄2 tsp black mustard seeds

1⁄4 tsp asafoetida

2 dry red chillies, broken into pieces

1 small sprig of fresh curry leaves

Heat 1 tsp oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add cumin seeds and pepper.

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

Blend the carom leaves with the grated coconut and 1⁄4 cup buttermilk into a smooth paste. Then add another cup of buttermilk and blend until smooth again.

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

For the tempering, heat the remaining oil in a small pan over medium heat and add mustard seeds, asafoetida, red chillies and curry leaves. When the spices are crackling, pour the mixture over the prepared tambuli.

Serve immediately.

Pepper-crusted yam

Pepper Crusted Yam

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

Ingredients

Serves 4

400g purple yam, cut into thick batons

1⁄2 tsp garam masala powder 

1 large onion, minced

3–4 garlic cloves, minced 

Salt to taste

4–5 cups vegetable stock or water

1 tbsp tamarind paste

 2 tsps peppercorns

1 tsp fennel seeds

1⁄2 tsp cumin seeds

1⁄2 cup semolina

Oil for shallow-frying

In a pan, add yam, garam masala, onion, garlic, salt and stock or water and boil on high heat. Cook until the yam is cooked yet firm enough to hold shape. Alternately, steam the yam.

When done, drain the yam properly. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add tamarind paste and toss carefully. Set aside.

Grind peppercorns, fennel and cumin seeds together in a spice grinder into a coarse powder.

In a bowl, mix the spice powder with semolina and salt and spread it out on a small plate.

Roll the batons in the spiced semolina mixture and shallow-fry on a griddle on medium heat until they turn golden and slightly crispy on the surface.

Serve hot with any salad of your choice.

Valaipoo murungai keerai varuval 

Valaipoo murungai keerai varuval

My favourite morning sight is drumsticks hanging from a tree with gentle rays of the sun passing through the leaves. There was a tree in my neighbourhood and, as kids, we would take a long stick with a tiny hook attached to it and pull off the drumsticks. Such fun! Today, drumsticks and its leaves are popular as a superfood. Here, the leaves have been paired with yet another delicious, healthy ingredient— banana blossoms.

Serves 4

2 tsps sesame oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp split Bengal gram (chana dal)

2 large fresh red chillies or dried red chillies, broken into bits 5–6 shallots, minced

1⁄4 tsp ground turmeric (optional) 

1 large banana blossom, cleaned 

1 cup drumstick leaves

Salt to taste

1⁄4 cup grated fresh coconut, for garnish 

Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat and add mustard seeds, split gram and chillies. When the mustard is crackling, add shallots and sauté until they are translucent and the gram colours lightly.

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

Increase heat to high and add drumstick leaves with salt. Toss well and cook, stirring constantly until moisture dries up and the leaves wilt.

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

Fenugreek prawn stir fry

Fenugreek prawn stir fry

The earthy herby smell of fenugreek wafts through the walls whenever this dish is made at home. It’s not a smell I’ve come to like; however, I love the dish and make it regularly. This is a traditional community recipe and I have always been amazed at how well the bitterish fenugreek complements the juicy prawns.

Serves 4

11⁄2 tsps sesame oil

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 onion, finely chopped

2 green chillies, finely chopped 1 tomato, finely chopped

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

washed and pat-dried 

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste 

Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat, add garlic and sauté until fragrant.

Add the onion, chillies and tomato and sauté until the onion turns golden. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the prawns are cooked and the fenugreek wilts.

Remove from heat and serve hot with rotis.

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



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