Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A Twist on Lemonade!

There is nothing like a tall glass of homemade Lemonade to beat the heat! Freshly squeezed lemon juice stirred with sugar,a pinch of rock salt and topped with ice and chilled water or soda. A classic flavour that is great as it is or subtle enough to play with other flavours without getting lost. The ubiquitous lemonade can be modified, personalized and customized according to tastes, seasons, food pairings and more.

The many health benefits of lemons and lemonade are set in stone as attested by its consumption across nations and people groups. But the delicious taste and universal appeal only adds to its merits. Proven to be an essential source of Vitamin C while also having strong anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, lemon juice has firmly established itself in the culinary and medical tradition. Not only will a glass of lemonade sure to refresh, re-hydrate and re-energize the body by restoring lost nutrients after a hot day in the sun.

Add a touch of green and herby freshness by adding herbs, fruit and spices to your Lemonade. Release as much flavour as possible by muddling the ingredients together with sugar or syrup and adding the water or soda over the mix. For instance when using mint or basil, it is best to muddle leaves with a few drops of lemon juice before adding the water or soda. Try muddling citrus fruits, green apples, cinnamon, ginger and other things for added colour and flavour.  One of our favourite tweaks with lemonade is to muddle rosemary, a squeeze of lemon and honey and top off with chilled water for a refreshing citrus drink with a herby note. For a summer-y lemonade, go from boring to blushing by adding pink, tart raspberries to a large pitcher topped off with sugar.

Another way to incorporate and layer flavours well is to infuse the desired ingredients into simple syrup that can sweeten your Lemonade. Infuse syrups with spices, fruit, flowers such as lavender or rose petals for fragrant simple variations. Infuse dried lavender buds into a simple syrup, a twist of lemon and iced water completes this bright floral concoction.

Cute and subtle not your thing? Go adventurous with a Latin pairing of lemon and jalapenos! Again start with a jalapeno simple syrup, season with a pinch of sea salt and stir into a pitcher of ice cold water. (Complete the Latin influence with a shot of tequila for an adult lemonade!) It can be as hot or mild as desired while providing something truly interesting to talk about. Browse through the many fabulous flavours from Monin to keep handy for hot days. Their ready mixes – citron, coconut and more are quick-fix ways to play around with the flavours in beverages without too much hassle. 

As long as there is lemon in the ‘ade’, you can add or swap other ingredients to make some amazing variations. Experiment away this summer!  

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Yogurt Effect

Another Indian summer is here and it is wise to be prepared to fend off the accompanying dehydration, loss of energy and appetite. At such times, the body needs something to cool it down without being a burden on the digestive system. This is where the humble yogurt plays a stellar role. Incorporated in virtually every regional cuisine of the country, this dairy product is thick and creamy, yet simultaneously light and tangy. Delicious by itself, yogurt is extremely versatile while also being a true health food. Not only does it have cooling properties, it is high on calcium, protein and other essential vitamins. Further, being a dairy product it is mostly natural and unprocessed. 

Its white, subtle taste makes it a great canvas to play around with. A dusting of toasted cumin powder, a sprinkle of za’tar or a dollop of fresh harissa instantly transforms an unassuming dairy product into a gourmet ingredient ready for use in sandwiches or as a garnish. Try smearing some full fat yogurt between slices of crusty multi-grain bread with fried garlic, grilled zucchini and sun dried tomatoes for a flavourful snack. 


Fresh herbs and yogurt is a classic way to up the flavour and nutritional quotient of both. The yogurt adds the creamy touch while mint, coriander and dill provide a zesty bite that makes for a great dip with toasted pita, chips or even vegetable crudités. The Greek Tzatziki is another yogurt-herb dip boosted with cool cucumbers, pungent garlic and fresh lemon. Another great dip recipe is to add caramelized onions and garlic to thick curd. Such yogurt based accompaniments are perfect at lightening traditional dips of the usual sour cream and veg mayonnaise. For a thicker texture in the yogurt, scoop into a thin, clean muslin cloth and hang for a few hours, letting the whey collect in a bowl below. (This whey is highly nutritious and can be added to other dishes in lieu of water during cooking.) This hung curd, when whipped and seasoned can also replace mayo in dressings for Russian salad, potato salad, coleslaw and many others.

One crucial component to the balance of an Indian diet is that of raita; a side dish of grated or sliced veggies like carrots, cucumber, mint or fruits like pineapple, pomegranate enveloped in whipped curd. It acts as an excellent foil to the heat of spicy curries and aids digestion. In the summer just a bowlful of raita with bread or chapatti makes for a light, easy to prepare meal.

One of the advantages of having yogurt as an ingredient is that with a few twists here or there, it can move quickly between being a side dish, filling or dip to being a filling yet light breakfast or a quick dessert or snack. Like, a drizzle of organic honey with some freshly chopped Alphonso mango in a bowl of chilled, low-fat Danone yogurt would be a great breakfast. Or a cereal like Miss-i-sippy, sliced bananas, a pinch of brown sugar mixed into yogurt, all layered in a glass instantly makes for a healthy, textured and satisfying dessert. To raise the indulgence factor, coarsely crush some Oreo cookies and layer with raisins and chilled yogurt, all topped off with a generous pour of rich Hersey’s chocolate sauce.

Fruity yogurt has become a very popular way to consume this milk product. Easily available in a wide range of fruit flavours like Elle N Vire’s Apricot, Prune, Vanilla and Blackcurrant. These fruity, snack-style yogurts are great for eating light and healthy while on the go. Again adding cereal to a cup of fruit yogurt makes it breakfast in a pinch. Frozen yogurts too have captured public imagination, offering a healthier yet delightful alternative to traditionally high fat ice creams with a little tang characteristic of yogurt. 

Even without the additional seasoning and flavours, it’s easy to see the appeal of this simple, essential ingredient. So go on and stock up on yogurt in all its forms to keep yourself and family healthy and happy this summer.

Also you can buy flavoured yogurt online from Natures Basket store at best prices!!