Tag Archives: dal

Fresh and Flavoursome

A huge fan of freshly cooked food, I like no short cuts and especially no packet, packaged and processed for me, as far as I can help it. Of course once in a while we all get lazy and give in but this is the exception in my home rather than the rule.

Thus, I was reluctant to try the range of products from Freshway Foods, a Vadodara based company, when a friend urged me too.

The packets arrived and looked attractive and the instructions easy to follow. In fact utterly simple.

Their unique freeze-dry technology, which is accepted worldwide as the best food preservation process, fascinated me. The colour, flavours and freshness of the food is preserved without affecting its nutritional value.

What’s more, their food is preservative free, which ensures it is as healthy as home-cooked food.

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The Palak Paneer, which I tried first, blew me off completely. The palak was delicious and the paneer soft. It was well-spiced, was bursting with fresh flavours and I could not believe it had been created in minutes out of a packet merely by adding boiling water.

The daal makhani was equally a surprise. A laborious dal, otherwise to prepare, this one was tasty all the way and ready in minutes.  The consistency was right and the flavours reminiscent of home food.

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From pulao kadhi to paneer bhurji and Veg Biryani to Moong Dal sheera, Freshway Foods offers them all. A complete vegetarian range, they have a lot of Gujarati delicacies apart from the universal favourites from all over India.

Freshway products pass through stringent quality standards and microbial tests at every stage of freeze-drying. Their strict hygiene and housekeeping regime ensures that every product is packaged with utmost hygiene and minimal wastage, keeping intact its nutritional values. That is perhaps what sets them apart.

Reasonably priced, the portions are decent too. This is the perfect solution for days when one is feeling lazy and does not want to cook and yet not order an expensive and oily takeaway. Bachelors, single working professionals and harried women can make use of their wide range.

One can order online and the packets get delivered to your doorstep.

I have actually heaved a sigh of relief now that there is a healthy food solution at hand, in terms of Freshway ready-to-eat meals. At last a brand that lives up to its promise of delivering fresh food.

 

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Akshaya Patra : Inexhaustible Efforts To Feed With Love

For the longest time I have been intrigued by the work done by The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF).  Striving to address the issue of “classroom hunger” and promote “education” by providing nutritious meals to children in Government and Government-aided schools, their journey began in 2000, with the feeding of 1,500 children in 5 schools in Bengaluru. Today, they reach 13,210 schools, feeding over 1.65 million children every day in 11 states through their 27 kitchens.

An opportunity to visit and experience their Surat kitchen first hand, seemed like an interesting proposition. At the crack of dawn, one morning, I set out, as the operations in the kitchen begin really early and in order to see the work force in action, one had to get there early.

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The sheer scale of operations was mesmerizing. I had expected to see a big kitchen yes, but certainly not of this magnitude. I was awestruck with the hygiene, cleanliness and state-of-the-art equipment. The work force seemed well-trained and were seamlessly carrying out their work. I was impressed by the fact that practices like daily shower, use of clean uniforms, caps to cover the hair, face masks to cover the mouth and nose area, gloves, gumboots, other protective gears and hand sanitisation are mandatory.

 

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A strict kitchen process is observed which includes certain mandatory routines to be followed by each member of the kitchen staff. Food Safety Management Systems are implemented in all the kitchens be it centralised or decentralised, in order to handle, prepare and deliver food.  All kitchens run by the organisation follow a scheduled menu. All cauldrons, trolleys, rice chutes, dal/sambar tanks, cutting boards, knives and other instruments in these units are sanitised before usage every single day. All vessels used in the kitchens are made of food safe stainless steel of 304 Grade which is capable of enduring high levels of temperature for long intervals.

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Akshaya Patra is one of the best examples of PPP (Public Private Partnership) model, where Central Government, State Governments, Corporates and individual donors contribute to the cause, and the Mid-Day Meal Programme of the Government is successfully implemented through the efficient workmanship of Akshaya Patra.

The pre-production begins as early as 2-3 am in the morning, when vegetables, grains and other ingredients for that day’s meal are readied. The cooking process begins a bit later and the mid-day meals are ready to go out to schools carried by the special vans by 8.30-9 am.

The roti-making machine in particular seemed fascinating. The manner in which the dough is made, rolled out in sheets, cut into circular rotis, cooked and even smeared with ghee before getting into the containers is a treat to watch and inspiring.

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Similarly I was enthralled by the manner in which large vessels were used to cook rice and pulao with steam. The attention to detail by the work force is praiseworthy as is their dedication.

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Standardisation of recipes is an important factor while maintaining high levels of nutrition along with taste and TAPF strictly follows this. In order to achieve these levels, a well-structured Quality Assurance programme is implemented at all stages of Operations— Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production.

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Watching the meal being prepared was captivating enough, but equally gratifying was a visit to the School no. 301, Shree Purushottam Ji Prathmik Shala, Punagam, Surat. The meals arrived piping hot to the school in the special vans and were lovingly served by volunteers under the supervision of the Principal Chaya Ma’am and her team of teachers.

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Girls and boys queued in a disciplined manner to avail of the meals in steel thalis. The kabuli chana pulao and dal was the meal for that day, as the menu changes daily. I spoke to several children independently and discovered that they enjoyed this meal even more than what they ate at home and looked forward to it each day. What’s more, I sampled the meal myself and could vouch for the quality and taste.

The teachers informed me that they have never faced any quality issues with the meals. The meals are first tasted by the teachers before being served to the children. The meal quantity too is sufficient to feed all the children to their heart’s content.

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The Akshaya Patra Foundation is continuously leveraging technology to cater to millions of children. In partnership with the Government of India and various State Governments and the inestimable support from many philanthropic donors and well-wishers, Akshaya Patra has grown. Today, Akshaya Patra Foundation is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) mid-day meal programme serving wholesome food to over 1.6 million children in 26 locations across 11 states in India

By leveraging the unique resources of the organisation, Akshaya Patra is all geared to fulfil its mission of ‘feeding 5 million children by 2020.’

As I stepped out of their Surat kitchen, having witnessed the painstaking operations by the dedicated work force, I had a silent prayer on my lips. I earnestly wish that they are able to reach their goals soon and in future, every hungry child in India is well-fed so that education is not an option, but a priority.

 

 

 

Utterly Butterly Delicious!

A young, energetic chef like Saransh Goila, is someone who I admire, for his talent, individuality and simple, real food. His Goila Butter Chicken has been doing the foodie rounds for a while now and I have, for the longest time, yearned to taste it. Yupp! that’s the Punjabi in me speaking.

So when I was selected to be one of the lucky few to get a sneak preview of the Goila Butter chicken or paneer, I was ecstatic.

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Being a day when I was vegetarian, I opted for Paneer and no regrets at all. No, I did not miss the chicken as the Goila Butter Paneer was as good, if not better. All ye vegetarians, are you listening please?

Along with the Goila Butter Paneer came a delectable kali dal, anardana chutney and a roomali roti. My day, oops! dinner as made.

Saransh specifies that he does not use any cream in his Goila Butter Chicken/Paneer and that is a huge relief. Not a fan of it in my savoury dishes at all.

A spoonful of the gravy of the Goila Butter Paneer and I could vouch for its lightness. The texture of the gravy was creamy alright, but with the use of kasoori methi and cashewnuts, as Chef Saransh promises. The smoky flavour as equally distinct, and that’s what sets it apart. I loved the fact that there was not a very pronounced tart and tangy taste, but instead, well-balanced flavours. Not the usual rich and creamy, butter paneer, this!

A buttery feel, the gravy had, as it just disappeared from my palate, but not before leaving a delicious after taste. But no, I could not taste any heavy butter and did not experience the accompanying uneasiness, which is characteristic of such dishes. The quality of paneer used was unmistakably superior and fresh.

The dal reminded me of the one, I used to have back home, made by my mother. No overtly tangy flavours here too, as is the case with many, from restaurants. The texture was right and the dal grains, had a definite bite to them, yet, as soft and mushy, as they should be.

The Anardana chutney struck me as unique. It had an appealing appearance as well as interesting mild flavours of yogurt and mint.

Overall, my meal was a delight for the taste buds and even several hours later, I experienced no discomfort, as is often the case with a butter chicken/paneer, dal makhni kind of meal. This one was reminiscent of home style food, albeit with a bit of indulgence.

I was satiated for now, but not satisfied. This is the kind of meal, which teases your palate mercilessly and urges you to have more.

Like all food lovers and Chef Saransh fans, I too am eagerly awaiting the opening of Goila Butter Chicken, a delivery and take-away joint, started by Chef Saransh Goila and his partner, Vivek Sahni, on June 24 near the D.N. Nagar Metro station Andheri West.

I don’t know about all the dishes, but the ones I sampled are surely going to give several established players, a run for their money.

Good luck Goila Butter Chicken, keep going!

Rating: 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savoury Pongal

Much as I love and relish the sweet Pongal preparation, here’s a savoury one too, which is equally delicious.

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Ingredients:

3/4 cup rice

1/4 cup moong dal

a few cashew nuts chopped

1/4 tsp jeera

1/4 tsp peppercorns

2″ ginger chopped finely

7-8 curry leaves

2 Tbsp ghee

salt to taste

 

Method:

Dry fry the yellow moong dal. wash rice, add fried dal and cook in water till soft. Heat ghee in a pan, add jeera, peppercorns, cashewnuts and fry till brown. add ginger and cooked rice and dal mixture. Remove from fire, when it turns sticky. Garnish with curry leaves. serve hot with pickle.