Whole-wheat Pizza with Wholesome Health

I simply love pizza and can have it all days of the week and that too without getting bored. Let me tell you, just after my marriage, there was a time when we used to order pizza every weekend.

However, very soon I realized extra fat I was piling on was the result of my love for unhealthy ready-made refined flour pizza. But, I couldn’t deprive myself from relishing my favorite pizza, so thought why not give it a healthy twist.

This is when I started making pizza at home. It’s completely home-made – from pizza base to pizza sauce. It’s actually pretty simple. Frankly speaking, I find it easier than making regular roti-sabzi. 🙂

Home-made PizzaOrdering a large pizza with topping of your choice easily costs around Rs 1000 including taxes. While, making a same sized pizza at home will cost no more than Rs 100. So, isn’t it economical too!

Making pizza at home gives me additional satisfaction that my father-in-law who don’t prefer eating ready-made pizza, now enjoys home-made fresh pizza.

I use whole-wheat flour for pizza base and home-made cottage cheese (paneer) for topping, so my mother-in-law says, it’s like healthy roti and paneer ki sabzi but with an Italian twist.

Ok, so let’s get into the actual recipe for making pizza at home.

Ingredients

For whole-wheat pizza base:

  • Whole wheat flour (gehun ka attaa): 1 cup
  • Sugar: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp
  • Olive oil: 2 tsp
  • Dry yeast: 1 tsp
  • Water to knead dough

For Topping:

  • You can take diced vegetable of your choice, like – tomato, onion, capsicum, olives. Boiled corn or baby corn tastes good.
  • Olive oil: 1 tsp
  • Grated mozzarella cheese: just a little bit

Procedure

  • Take ¼ cup warm water in a bowl, and add sugar and yeast to it. Keep stirring and this will activate yeast. After sugar has dissolved, cover the bowl and keep it in a warm place for 15 minutes. Make sure water is just warm. If it’s hot or cold, yeast will not activate.
  • After 15 min you will notice froth has developed. It’s a good sign which means yeast has activated.
Activated Yeast
Activated Yeast
  • Add olive oil and salt to flour and mix thoroughly. Add frothy yeast to flour and mix gently applying little pressure with hands.
  • Slowly add water if required and knead soft dough. I use whey protein (a by-product of home-made cottage cheese) to knead dough for pizza. It makes pizza nutritive and softens the pizza base.
  • Cover dough with a wet muslin cloth and leave it to prove for 15-20 minutes. This increases the volume of dough.

Pizza dough-making

  • Gently press the dough and remove the air. Roll a big circular roti – keep it ¼” thick and size could be 8-10” approx.

Topping:

  • Place the pizza base on greased baking tray. Spread the tomato sauce on the top. Then add the vegetable topping of your choice. Sprinkle some generous amount of home-made cottage cheese.

Pizza topping

  • Add little bit of grated mozzarella cheese.

Pizza topping with cheese

  • Sprinkle olive oil. This gives a crisp golden color to top crust of cheese and vegetables on baking.

Baking:

  • Bake in a preheat oven at 180 degree centigrade for 20 minutes. Baking time differs depending on the oven. So, you just have to make sure that base is evenly brown, therefore keep an eye on your oven.

Pizza ready-to-eatDo I need to tell that it has to be served immediately after taking it out of oven. 🙂 Once you make it at home, I am sure just like me you will forget eating pizza ordered from outside.

The goodness of whole wheat and home-made cottage cheese makes a pizza a healthy lunch or dinner option. No guilty pangs after eating them, but pure satisfaction of eating healthy home-made food.

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How to Make Easy Pizza Sauce

We homemakers are usually struggling in time-management, and always look for simple yet tasty recipes that get ready in no time.

For example, I have tried following different recipes of pizza sauce but most of them were time-taking. However, these days I follow a recipe which is easy to make, time-saving and tastes delicious.

I love pizza but instead of eating out, I enjoy easy-to-make healthy whole wheat home-made pizza. Additionally, to make my favorite pizza healthier I use low calorie home-made cottage cheese instead of regular high calorie cheese.

If you are a pizza-buff you will agree with me that taste of pizza lies in its sauce. To be honest, earlier I used to follow the classic pizza sauce recipe but one day I was in hurry and made some time-saving variations and surprisingly the sauce tasted the same.

Pizza SauceSo, from then onward I follow the same easy process and not the traditional approach.

Therefore,if you are looking for a perfect Italian pizza sauce, but have just few minutes to spend in making it, my friend you are at the right place. I’ll tell you how. 🙂

So, gather the simple ingredients and you will be surprised by its simplicity.

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes: 5 large
  • Onion: 1 medium size
  • Garlic: 2 tbsp
  • Capsicum: ½ medium size
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Pepper-cons: 1 tsp
  • Oregano: 1 tsp
  • Tomato ketchup/sauce: 1/4 cup
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Olive oil: 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Procedure

  • Roughly chop tomatoes, onion, garlic and de-seeded capsicum in pieces and make puree in blender.
  • Heat olive oil on medium flame and add bay leaf, pepper-cons and wait for few seconds.
  • Add the tomato puree and saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add salt, sugar, tomato ketchup and mix well. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Water will mostly evaporate by now and sauce will become thick. Remove the sauce from flame and add oregano, and mix properly.

Pizza Sauce Making

  • Remove and discard bay leaves and pepper-cons.
  • Pizza sauce is ready to use.

Pizza sauce ready to useYou can make this sauce in large quantity and store in refrigerator and use as and when required. I use this same sauce in pasta, stuffed sandwiches and it gives a nice taste and flavor.

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Healthy and Tasty Palak-paneer with Makki-ki-roti

I was intending to write this post since a long time, but it kept delaying for some or the other reasons. Finally, I decided that I should write it before winter says Good Bye.

Palak-paneer with makki ki roti is quite a popular recipe in Northern India. It’s a healthy fusion of iron and vitamins-rich spinach with maize flour rotis.

Traditionally, it’s sarson-ka-saag with makki-ki-roti, but my family members prefer palak-paneer instead. So, I’m sharing that I regularly make at my home.

Palak-paneer with makki ki rotiHere I have served it with instant vegetable pickle and some chunks of jaggery – this combination is a must in my family. In-fact this combination can also be relished with multi-grain paratha.

Just to add, if you like taste of jaggery, then you must try healthy jaggery and peanut chikki or peanut brittle.

Ok, now let’s get started with recipe of palak-paneer followed by makki-ki-roti.

Ingredients for Palak-paneer (serves 2 people)

  • Spinach (palak): 1 bowl roughly chopped
  • Tomato: 2 big sizes finely chopped
  • Onion: 1 big size finely chopped
  • Garlic: 4-5 crushed cloves
  • Green chilly: 2
  • Garam-masala (mixture of ground spices, like – cumin, cloves, cardamom, coriander seeds, cinnamon etc): 1 tsp
  • Turmeric: 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds (jeera): 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida (hing): 1 pinch
  • Gram flour (besan): 1 tbsp
  • Ghee (clarified butter): 1 tbsp
  • Cottage cheese (paneer): 100gm
  • Salt: as per taste

Procedure for palak-paneer

  • Blench the spinach and leave it to cool. After cooling, add green chilly in spinach and make a fine puree of it. While blenching, don’t cover the spinach or it will lose its bright green color.
Palak puree
Palak Puree
  • Heat ghee in skillet on medium flame and add cumin seeds and asafoetida. Wait for few seconds and add crushed garlic and onion. Keep stirring till the onion starts blushing – I mean when turns pink. 😉 image 1 in collage below.

Palak-paneer making process

  • Bring in the tomatoes to compliment the blushing onions (image 2 in collage above). Once our family doctor advised us that always add some vitamin C in iron-rich spinach because it enables better absorption of iron in body. So from then onward I make sure to add tomatoes while making palak-paneer. Additionally, tomato enhances the overall taste.
  • Keep stirring and mixing. Now it’s time to add turmeric, garam masala and salt. Mingle everything together and sauté on low flame for 5 minutes (image 3 in collage above).
  • Add the spinach puree and mix well. Slowing sprinkle the gram flour by finger tips (image 4 in collage above). I intentionally sprinkle by hand as it gives better control. With spoons flour may drop in large quantity at one place. In such case lumps will form and it takes time to crush them.
  • Let it simmer on low flame for another 5 minutes and your kitchen will be filled with nice aroma of spices and ghee.

Palak gravy

  • Add some generous amount of butter and switch-off the flame. Transfer the content to serving bowl and add home-made cottage cheese to it. I use home-made cottage-cheese in all most all of my preparations. It’s healthy and fresh, and best part is, it’s super easy to make.

Paneer cubes in palak-gravy

  • Mix and then cover the bowl. Give it standing time of 10-15 minutes before serving, as this will enable paneer to absorb the flavor.
Palak-paneer ready to eat
Palak-paneer ready to eat

Makki ki Roti

Makki roti can be enjoyed with any gravy preparations, but it blends beautifully with spinach. Making plain makki ki roti (i.e. only with maize flour) is a time-taking task. So, I also add whole-wheat flour (gehun ka atta) to it. Then it becomes easy to roll rotis/chapatis compared to when using only maize-flour.

Ingredients for Makki ki Roti

  • Maize flour (makki ka aata): 1 and 1/2 cup
  • Whole-wheat flour (gehun ka aata): ½ cup
  • Water to knead dough

Procedure for Makki ki Roti

  • Mix both flour and knead to make a soft dough (by adding sufficient water). Try to knead the dough just before you are about to make rotis.

Makki dough-making

  • Sprinkle little flour on rolling board before rolling roti. This will prevent roti from sticking to surface. With the light hand pressure and with the help of rolling pin roll the roti.

Makki roti-making

  • With the help of flat tuner lift the roti, and turn it on hot iron griddle. After a minute flip it and cook it from both the sides. Now put it on direct flame and with the help of tong cook on both the sides.

Makki roti-cooking

  • Drop bulb of butter and serve immediately.

So, this is how I make healthy and delicious combo of palak-paneer and makki ki roti. Try this out and if you have any doubt, always feel free to ask me. I will be most happy to help you out.

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Street Style Spicy Samosa

Samosa brings along my fond childhood memories of going for holy dip in Ganga with my grandmother. It was her every Sunday early morning ritual of walking long distance to take bath in Ganga.

However, she would not go alone. We (me and my brother) also had to accompany her. It used to be tough to get-up so early in the morning that too on Sundays. But, her bribe of buying us hot samosa and jalebi were tempting enough to sacrifice our Sunday morning sleep.

My love for samosas has increased over the period of time. While, most of the people enjoy it as tea-time snack, I can munch samosas any time – be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can try combining these samosa with fragrant immunity booster masala chai.

Samosa and pakoras are popular Indian street foods along with tikkis. If are fan of street food do try chana dal pakoras and flavorsome moong dal tikki. If have healthy steam food in mind, do try farra a delicious preparation of rice flour with chana dal filling. A great combination of health and taste.

Having said that, I really miss the taste of my hometown samosa. My hometown is Bhagalpur (Bihar). Yes you guessed it right, place where Madhubani paintings originated.

In Maharashtra, stuffing of samosa has flavor of garlic. Though I’m equally fond of spicy garlic chutney. But in samosa long for the authentic taste of asafoetidia (heeng) and coriander leaves without garlic and curry leaves.

Ready to eat samosaTherefore, I thought why not write a post on my hometown version of samosa with flavors of dry spices.

Ingredients

Makes: 10 pieces

For outer base dough:

  • All purpose flour (maida): 2 cups
  • Carom seeds (ajwaeen): 1 tsp
  • Nigella seeds (kalonji): 1 tsp
  • Salt: 2 tsp
  • Oil in flour: 2 tbsp

For stuffing:

  • Mashed boiled potato: 250 gm
  • Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Asafoetidia: ½ tsp
  • Finely chopped green chilly: 3-4
  • Fine chopped coriander leaves: 1 tbsp
  • Grated ginger: ½ inch
  • Peanuts: 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds (jeera): 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric: 1 tsp
  • Red chilly powder: 2 tsp
  • Garam masala (mixture of ground spices, like – cumin, cloves, cardamom, coriander seeds, cinnamon etc): 1 tsp
  • Dry mango powder: 2 tsp
  • Black salt: 1 tsp
  • Salt: as per taste
  • Oil for deep-frying

Procedure

For stuffing

  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in heavy bottom skillet on medium flame and add cumin seeds, asafoetida and coriander seeds. Stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add peanuts and fry for a minute. Then add green chilly and ginger, and stir. Add both types of salt and other dry spices (except garam masala and dry mango powder).
  • After 30 seconds, add mashed boil potato. Then add garam masala and dry mango powder and mix properly so that spices blend properly. Keep stirring for 5 minutes. The stuffing should have uniform color and potato should be no more sticking to the sides of skillet.

stuffing for samosa

  • Switch-off the flame, sprinkle some coriander leaves and mix properly. Stuffing is now ready. Let it cool completely and then proceed with filling process.

Samosa Stuffing

  • Just to add, you can always adjust the spices according to your taste. You can also add green peas, raisins and cashew nuts in the stuffing.

Dough-making

  • Add salt, carom seeds and nigella seeds and mix well. Pour oil in flour and mix properly. Crush the lumps if any.

flour for samosa

  • To check if quantity of oil in flour is adequate, you can do this test – take flour in your palm and make a fist, flour should take the shape of fist on opening of fingers (shown in below image).

checking oil in flour

  • Add water in small proportions and make the dough. The texture of dough should be slight hard or tight as compared to dough of roti.
  • Cover the dough with damp muslin cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Samosa-folding

  • Roll the elongated rotis (oval not circle). Here you don’t have to be conscious of making perfect round rotis. 🙂

roti for samosa

  • Cut them half. Take one half between your fingers and make a cone. Apply little water with finger between the edges and bring the edges together to join. Press with the fingers to ensure edges are joined properly.

making cone for samosa

  • Fill in the stuffing and make a small fold at back of the samosa. Seal the open edges by again applying little water with finger tip. Water binds the flour together and keeps the sealing intact.

stuffing samosa

  • Here is how the filled samosa will look like and it’s ready for deep frying.

samosa ready for deep fryingFrying

  • Heat the oil in heavy bottom skillet on medium flame.
  • Drop a pinch of dough to check if oil is ready for frying. If the dough settles on base of skillet wait for 2 minutes because oil in not yet ready.
  • If dough instantly comes on surface and gets brown, it means oil is too hot. In this case, switch-off the flame and wait for 2 minutes to let oil cool. If dough comes on surface instantly while remaining white then it means the oil is ready.
  • Drop in samosas one by one.
  • Deep-fry them on medium flame and keep twisting and turning till you get an even golden color.

hot spicy samosaIt’s time to serve

Serve immediately with chutneys of your choices. Sweet and tangy tamarind chutney or spicy green mint chutney.

Finally, in case you have any doubts while making, feel free to drop your comment below. Your questions will help other readers as well. I would love to know your thoughts and suggestions.

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3 Easy Steps to Make Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese (commonly called Paneer in Hindi) is protein-rich and highly nutritious, and must be included in our daily diet. It becomes even more essential if you are a vegetarian.

Here I would like add, in terms of quality of protein, cottage cheese stands ahead of pulses (that are usually thought of as the only source of protein for vegetarians).

In Indian cooking, paneer has a very important place be it in spicy curries or delicious desserts like rassgulla and gulab-jamun.

I wonder though, it’s used so often in our kitchen, but we use store-bought, stale and preservative-laden paneer instead of fresh home-made paneer.

Frankly speaking, people don’t realize that making cottage cheese at home is so simple and easy that it can actually be made in lesser time and effort than making a cup of tea. Yes, I am not exaggerating. 🙂

Home-made paneer is good option for kids too who play tantrums in having milk – just like my daughter. I often make veggie-paneer, as she loves it and finish her portion within no time.

Ok, so below I have explained how you can make cottage cheese at home that too without any hassles.

Ingredients

  • Milk: ½ liter
  • Lemon juice: 2 tsp

Procedure

Step 1 – Boil the milk in heavy bottom vessel.

Step 2 – Add lemon juice and stir. (You can use vinegar or citric acid but I like to use natural ingredients as much as possible). Even 1 tsp sour curd can be added I’m more in habit of using lemon juice. Once the milk curdles up, you will notice transparent slight green color water separated from milk.

Cottage Cheese FormationStep 3 – Take it off the flame after few boils. Let it cool and after half an hour strain the water.

Cottage Cheese Strained
Liquid Whey Protein (left) and Cottage Cheese (right)

Note – On cooling you will notice cottage cheese rests at the bottom of the vessel. Whereas, when it separated from milk it was floating on surface. So, don’t hurry in straining the water. Leaving paneer in water enables absorption of water, thus making it softer.

How to make Paneer Cubes?

  • Hang the paneer (residue left after straining water) in muslin cloth for an hour. This will further drain the remaining water.
  • Keep a flat heavy object on it for an hour in order to press it. This will give you flat paneer slab just like ready-made paneer.
Flattened cottage cheese slab
Flattened paneer slab
  • Cut it into small pieces and use it in way you want.

Cottage cheese blocksThis home-made cottage cheese stays good in refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can either store it in zip lock bag or just drop it in some water. Dipped in water keeps it soft and moist.

If you are storing in zip-lock pouch, just soak it in warm water for 10 minutes before cooking it. Soaking in warm water softens the cottage cheese.

½ liter of milk will give you approximately 125 gram of cottage cheese depends on the fat content in milk. More the fat content, higher will be content of cottage cheese from milk.

Whey Protein

The liquid you’ll get after removing paneer is actually whey protein. It’s the highest quality protein with all essential amino acids present in it. The whey is also rich in water soluble vitamins, minerals, trace elements and electrolytes.

So, never ever discard away the left-over liquid assuming it to be a waste. Instead, this highly nutritive liquid should be used in cooking. You can keep this liquid for 1 – 2 days in refrigerator and use it in routine recipes.

You can add this in dal, soup or use it to knead dough for chapattis. Using it in dough gives very soft rotis/chappatis. But, remember that paneer-water kneaded dough should not be left to be used later. Otherwise, dough turns acidic will not taste good.

I sometimes add few drops of lemon juice, honey and make lemonade from it. It tastes refreshingly wonderful, especially in summers.

When kept at room temperature (instead of in refrigerator) this whey protein can be used next day to make paneer. It turns acidic, so you won’t need lemon juice or any other acid. Just pour this in boiling milk and milk will curdle up.

Apart from being simple, it’s also very cost-effective. ½ liter milk costs Rs 20 – 25, and from it you can extract approx 125 gm fresh paneer along with highly nutritive whey protein. Now, the same amount of paneer (without whey liquid) is available in market ranging from  Rs 35 – 50. Isn’t it a very healthy cost-saving!

So, bhaili’s why not get into habit of using home-made fresh paneer instead of using stale and preservative-laden paneer/cottage cheese. Eat fresh and home-made to stay fit and healthy!

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DIY Valentine’s Day Gift

Some of my friends often say that they also want to try their hands with painting, but using brush sounds difficult. So, I thought why not paint something that others (for those who find painting with brush quite difficult) can also easily follow.

DIY Bottle ArtI revamped these bottles (above image) for gifting purpose, and do you know I did this whole work without using single stroke of brush! To be honest, no expertise is needed this simple technique and even children can happily do this.

You can also have a look how I created dotted bottles or if in mood for some intricate work see Ganapati on bottle.

We all need affirmations (positive words and messages), so I thought based on this theme why not create a DIY Valentine’s Day gift for my husband.

I have clicked pictures of each step. This should help you create your similar personalized gift too.

Things Required

  • Glass bottles
  • Acrylic colors (lemon yellow, brown, and white) – You can use color of your choice.
  • Color palette
  • Sponge (substitute of brush)
  • Brush (just for mixing colors and varnishing)
  • Permanent marker pens
  • Clear varnish

Procedure

  • We all have these empty sauce bottles in our kitchen. I have used these to turn them into home decorative. Soak the bottles in warm soapy water and leave overnight. Then clean and dry them before use.

Old bottles

  • Take the acrylic color of your choice. I have taken lemon yellow color and mixed it with white and just a hint of brown to get this shade. Properly mix them with brush.
  • Now take color on sponge and start dabbing on bottle. Start from the top (nozzle part) and gradually proceed down and cover the whole bottle with paint. Follow the same process with both the bottles. Bottom image (collage below) is shown after completion of single coating.

Paint dabbing on bottle

  • Let it dry for minimum two hours. Apply the second coat of color following the same process. After second coat you will get uniform paint all over the bottle. I was in hurry to proceed further and simply forgot to click picture after completion of second coat of paint.
  • After drying, with the help of marker pen write words/messages of your choice. I chose “Be Positive” for the center, and then scattered words like – smile, sparkle, shine, hugs, passion, love etc.
  • As occasion was Valentines Day, so filled empty places with hearts, smiles and stars.
Finished Bottles
Finished Bottles

This is just to give you an idea and a spark to your creative mind. Choose the words or feelings you want to express. It after all has to be a personalized gift. We often can express better in writing than speaking. 🙂

You may not want your hard work to fade away or wear out. So, apply a layer of clear varnish with the help of brush. Varnish seals the paint and keep it intact for years. Let it dry overnight.

So, your gift is ready. Isn’t it simple and easy? Trust me you will have wonderful time creating it.

Don’t forget to gift wrap it before surprising your loved one with this cute DIY gift.

If you have any doubt while doing this art work do ask me. I will be most happy to help you. If you happen to try this, do share it with me. I’d love to see how it turned out.

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