For those of you obsessed with food blogs, Dr Nandita Iyer name must be no mystery. Her blog Saffron Trail has for quite some time been one of the most popular portals for conversations about food in India.
The multi-faceted Nandita Iyer is a doctor, nutritionist, blogger and now an author. She has recently released her first cookbook — The Everyday Healthy Vegetarian, which includes nutritional advice and fuss-free vegetarian recipes. Excerpts from InUth’s conversation with her regarding her inspiring journey:
Q. How was your journey from a doctor to a homechef/author
After completing my medical studies, I pursued an advanced course in nutrition. It was then that I realised that physicians and surgeons never have enough time to talk about food or lifestyle changes. I thought it is important to address those issues. I slowly moved towards writing about food, healthy cooking and workshops. I have been writing my blog since 2006. Becoming an author wasn’t easy; it felt like a huge responsibility.
Q. Tell us about your book — The Everyday Healthy Vegetarian: Delicious Meals from the Indian Kitchen
My book is an extension of my blog, which is also about healthy vegetarian eating. It is quite the necessity of time where people learn to cook a quick meal which is healthy, and not boring. Even if you don’t know how to cook, these shorter list of ingredients, easier cooking method and faster cooking can help.
The book is divided into four sections – Good Carbs, Eat the Rainbow, Protein Punch and Healthy Fats. Each section has various recipes. Also, it includes information in the introduction pages on how to set up your kitchen, stocking up on ingredients for healthy cooking, time-saving tips and more.
Q. What is the most constant ingredient you use in your recipes
I think seasonal produce are the best. Any seasonal produce has the best nutrition and you can use them in many ways.Fresh herbs taste better. You can cook with less oil but when you add herbs, it brings out the flavour.
Q. What is the most common mistake that people make while cooking healthy food
After peeling vegetables or fruits, they sometimes boil them and throw away the water. When you peel the skin of vegetables off, you lose fiber and micro-nutrients.
One easy and quick recipe with a picture:
Green Pancakes (Chila)
For The Chila Batter
1 cup gram flour (besan)
2 tbsp yogurt
1⁄2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1⁄4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
2 cups finely chopped mixed greens (spring onions, bathua, spinach), etc. or bathua and spinach
To Cook Chillas
2 tbsp oil
The Chila Batter
1. Combine all the ingredients for the chila batter in a large bowl.
2. Add 1 cup of water and mix well, till you get a smooth, light and pourable batter.
Cover and keep aside for 30 minutes.
1. Place a non-stick tava over moderate heat.
Grease the tava uniformly with 1⁄4 tsp oil using kitchen paper.
3. The tava should be fairly hot but not sizzling hot. Pour 1⁄2 cup of batter in the centre.
4. Using the back of the ladle, quickly spread the batter to cover the entire tava, roughly 8” in diameter.
5. Pour around 1⁄2 tsp oil around the chila and allow it to cook for 2–3 minutes, till golden and lightly crisp at the base.
6. Gently turn over and cook the other side for 1 minute or so.
7. Remove from the pan and place on a dish. Prepare the remaining 3–4 chilas in a similar manner.
Serve warm with any chutney of your choice or, for a heavier meal, serve them with a side dish such as a paneer bhurji or vegetable curry.
You can use any seasonal greens in this recipe, but remember to chop them really fine so that they cook in the same time that the chila cooks. Try substituting some of the gram flour with rice flour for a crisper texture.
Per Chila: CALORIES (KCAL) 86.4; PROTEIN 3.8g; FAT 3.6g; CARBOHYDRATES 9.8g; FIBRE 2g