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Bored with the same palak saag? Try This Delicious Palak Raita| Spinach Raita

Spinach is an excellent source iron, vitamin C and E, potassium, and magnesium. You can enjoy spinach in so many different ways cooked, raw or frozen. Either eat in chilled salad or sauté with your favorite veggies or make a smoothie but if you are bored using all these way spinach dry this Spinach/Palak raita. This is the best way to use those extra palak and when you are bored with the regular palak saag or palak roti or smoothie. This Spinach Raita is a refreshing and healthy side dish that pairs perfectly with dal rice, parathas, or can be enjoyed on its own. It’s simple to make and adds a delightful twist to your meal.

Ingredients:

  • Oil
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 cups Palak (spinach), chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup Curd (yogurt)
  • 1 tsp Roasted Cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black salt
  • 1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
  • Additional Salt, to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add the chopped palak (spinach) and sauté until the water evaporates and the spinach is cooked through. Add salt to taste while sautéing.

In a bowl, beat the curd until smooth. Add roasted cumin powder, black salt, red chilli powder, and a little more salt to the curd. Mix well to combine.

Once the spinach has cooled slightly, add it to the curd mixture. Mix well to ensure the spinach is evenly distributed.

Serve chilled as a side dish with dal rice, parathas, or enjoy it just like that. I hope you enjoyed reading this recipe. Do give this recipe a shot. If you try this recipe, do give us a shout out. Just click a picture and tag us on @masala.monk or use the hashtag #MasalaMonkRecipe and share on Instagram and Facebook. We would love to hear from you.

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Skillet Mushroom and Zucchini Stir Fry- Fresh and Healthy

Sometimes, the best way to enjoy fresh veggies is a simple sauté. I love doing this with zucchini, especially because it cooks up quickly. Skillet sautéed mushroom and zucchini is fresh, healthy and absolutely delicious side dish. This is sautéed to crispy tenderness with garlic, scallions, butter, olive oil and mild spices. It is quick, easy and wholesome. Even kids will love it as a side.

Pair these veggies with scrambled eggs, omelette or roasted chicken. For vegetarians and vegans you can add Indian cottage cheese or tofu to it for protein. It could be your perfect light meal in summers. I paired it with omelette and a toast for breakfast. 

Tips for sautéing Zucchini to prevent it from getting Soggy

  1. Since zucchini contain a large amount of water content, it is best to sauté it at on a high flame. It allows the moisture to evaporate at a quicker rate, allowing the zucchini to brown. It also shortens the cooking time. 
  2. Be mindful when cutting the zucchini. Smaller and uneven pieces can burn more easily at high temperature. 
  3. Don’t overcrowd the zucchini in the pan. This will cause the zucchini to steam and not get browning effect.

Recipe: serves 3

Ingredients 

  • Zucchini: 2 cups, cut into roundels of roughly 1/2 cm thickness
  • Mushroom: 250 grams, chopped length wise
  • Garlic: 3-4 large cloves, cut thinly
  • Scallions: 2, chopped with greens
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian Seasoning: 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chilli flakes: 1/2 tsp or less
  • Butter: 20 grams
  • Olive Oil: 1 tbsp
  • Lemon juice: 1 tsp

Instructions 

  • Bring cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add half of butter and olive oil.
  • Increase the flame and add zucchini. Sauté at high flame for 3-4 minutes. Remove it from the skillet and set aside. 
  • Now add remaining half of the butter and oil and sauté garlic till it becomes lightish brown. 
  • Then add mushrooms and cook for a minute. 
  • Season mushrooms with some salt and pepper and then add scallions and scallions greens. Cook everything for 4-5 minutes or till mushrooms soften and become brown.
  • Return zucchini to the skillet. Add Italian seasoning and red chilli flakes if using. Mix well and cook for another minute on high flame. 
  • Taste for salt and other seasoning. Add more if required. 
  • Remove skillet from flame and finish it with lemon juice. 

Enjoy the goodness! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed reading this recipe. Do give this recipe a shot. I am sure this recipe will bring you a lot of joy. If you try this recipe, do give us a shout out. Just click a picture and tag us on @masala.monk or use the hashtag #MasalaMonkRecipe and share on Instagram and Facebook. We would love to hear from you. Happy Cooking!

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Top 10 Collagen Boosting Foods for Glowing Skin

Collagen, the superstar protein in our bodies, is the secret ingredient behind our skin’s elasticity, our hair’s strength, and our joints’ mobility. As we age, our bodies’ collagen production slows down, leading to signs of aging like wrinkles and joint discomfort. But fear not! By incorporating certain foods into your diet, you can give your body’s collagen production a natural boost. Let’s dive into the world of collagen-boosting foods and discover how they can help you maintain youthful skin, luscious hair, and overall health.

🥩🍗 1. Animal-Based Collagen Boosters

Beef Bone Broth

Beef bone broth is a collagen powerhouse. It’s packed with collagen type I, which is vital for skin, hair, and nail health. Sip on some warm beef bone broth or incorporate it into your soups and stews for a collagen kick.

Skin-On Chicken

Chicken, particularly the skin, is a fantastic source of collagen. So, next time you’re roasting or grilling chicken, leave the skin on for that extra collagen boost.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna are not only delicious but also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help maintain skin health and stimulate collagen production.

🌱🥦 2. Plant-Based Collagen Boosters

Spirulina

Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, is a superfood that can stimulate your body’s collagen production. It’s nutrient-dense and can be easily added to smoothies or salads.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are bursting with vitamin C, a key player in collagen synthesis. Some of the top citrus fruits include:

  • Oranges 🍊
  • Lemons 🍋
  • Grapefruits 🍈
  • Limes
  • Tangerines
  • Pomelos

Berries

Berries are not only scrumptious but also packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, both of which promote collagen production. Here are some berries to consider:

  • Strawberries 🍓
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Acai berries
  • Goji berries

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a treasure trove of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects your skin from damage, and vitamin C, which boosts collagen production.

Green Vegetables

Green vegetables are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, both of which are essential for collagen production. Some green veggies to consider are:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli 🥦
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green bell peppers

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients that can help boost collagen production, including protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Some to consider are:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that can protect your skin from damage and boost collagen production. Plus, it’s a delicious treat!

Carrots

Carrots are high in vitamin A, which can stimulate collagen production and slow down its breakdown.

Green Tea

Green tea is packed with antioxidants, which can protect your skin from damage, promote skin health, and boost collagen production.

🍽️🥗 3. Collagen-Boosting Recipes

Citrus Berry Smoothie

Blend together your favorite citrus fruits and berries for a delicious, collagen-boosting smoothie. Add a spoonful of spirulina for an extra boost.

Chicken Salad with Spinach and Almonds

Combine skin-on chicken, spinach, and almonds for a salad that’s packed with collagen-boosting nutrients.

Beef Bone Broth Soup

Simmer beef bones with your favorite vegetables and herbs to make a collagen-rich soup that’s good for your skin and your soul.

🤔 FAQs

Q: What are collagen-boosting foods? A: Collagen-boosting foods are foods that either contain collagen or promote its production in the body. These include bone broth, skin-on chicken, citrus fruits, berries, green vegetables, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate.

Q: Can eating certain foods boost collagen production? A: Yes, certain foods can boost collagen production. These include foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits and green vegetables, and foods that contain collagen, like bone broth and skin-on chicken.

Q: Are there vegetarian or vegan sources of collagen? A: While there are no plant sources of collagen, certain plant-based foods can help boost collagen production. These include citrus fruits, berries, green vegetables, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate.

Q: Can collagen-boosting foods improve skin health? A: Yes, collagen-boosting foods can improve skin health by increasing collagen production, which can help maintain skin elasticity and strength, reduce wrinkles, and promote overall skin health.

Q: What are the benefits of collagen for skin and hair? A: Collagen helps maintain skin elasticity and strength, reduce wrinkles, and promote overall skin health. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy hair and nails.


Remember, while these foods can help boost collagen production, it’s also essential to maintain a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle for overall well-being. Enjoy these collagen-boosting foods as part of a varied and balanced diet.

Stay healthy, stay glowing! 🌟

Blog Tags: Collagen, Skin Health, Hair Health, Bone Broth, Citrus Fruits, Berries, Green Vegetables, Fatty Fish, Nuts and Seeds, Dark Chocolate, Healthy Diet, Nutrition, Wellness, Beauty, Anti-Aging, Natural Remedies.

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Idli Podi | Milagai Podi Recipe

If you have never heard of podi before, podi is a flavourful South Indian coarse spice powder condiment made with lentils, seeds and spices and served with Idlis. But for most fans, you can say podi is an emotion. It is like a flavour imbibed in every bite. Podi is a general South Indian word that means “powder”. In the Tamil language, the word milagai means red chilies and podi means powder. Idli podi is always served with ghee or sesame oil. There is a popular dish in South India where idlis are smeared with podi and ghee or sesame oil. But Idli Podi is not just limited to idlis. You can serve podi with paniyarams, sprinkle it on dosas, uttapams or make podi rice. Its main purpose is to add flavour to a meal, sometimes when certain spices are involved, podis can aid digestion too.

The flavour of podi is quite unique and tasty. There is a slight crunch in it that comes from roasted lentils. The nutty taste comes from sesame seeds with some smokiness and pungency from red chilies and other ingredients.

You can try serving podi with Ragi Idli. They pair beautifully with podi and other sautéed vegetables and makes a healthy, gluten free breakfast.

The recipe is pretty simple. You just have to roast the ingredients and grind everything together. There is some spiciness and heat in a typical milagai podi but you can control the heat as per your preference. There are variations to idli podi where some like to add dry coconut, curry leaves or peanuts.

There is another variation of idli podi called as gunpowder which is spicy and includes more red chilies as well as garlic.

The podi recipe that I am sharing with you is a recipe that I have been making for years now. There is always a jar of podi at my house. I like to add this powder in Masala Idli, sprinkle it on dosa, serve it with paniyarams or make podi rice with ghee. 

Tips for making Idli Podi

  1. Always use fresh spices and lentils to make podi. 
  2. It is always better to soak lentils for an hour in warm water and dry them with cotton kitchen towel before roasting. 
  3. I always add sesame seeds to make podi. It gives a great flavour and also is super nutritious. You can skip it if you like. You can use either black or white sesame seeds. 
  4. Rinse curry leaves with fresh water and then pat dry them with a kitchen towel. 
  5. Do not roast sesame seeds for long or it will taste bitter. 

Let’s see how you can make this flavour bomb.

Recipe: makes approx 200 grams

Ingredients: 

  • Urad dal: 1/2 cup
  • Channa dal: 1/4th cup
  • Curry leaves: 1/2 cup
  • Sesame seeds: 1/4th cup
  • Dried Red Chillies: 12-15 (add more if you like)
  • Mustard seeds: 2 tsps
  • Hing/Asafetida: 1/4th tsp
  • Oil: 2 tbsps
  • Salt as per taste

Method: 

  • Wash and soak both the lentils separately for an hour in warm water. This step is optional. You can just wash the lentils, pat dry and roast them but soaking helps to soften the lentils and makes them easy to digest.
  • Bring a wide heavy bottom pan to medium heat. Add sesame seeds and roast them till they become slightly brown and start crackling and popping. Set aside in a large plate.
  • Roast curry leaves till the leaves become crisp and shrink in size. Set aside.
  • Now add washed, soaked and towel dried urad dal. Roast till golden brown and fragrant. Set aside. 
  • Add channa dal and roast. Chana dal takes longer to roast. It should get browned or golden. For uniform cooking and color, keep on stirring them often.
  • Now add a tbsp of oil and roast dry red chilies on a low flame. Roast till you get a pungent smoky aroma from chilies. Set aside
  • Next add mustard seeds and roast them till they start crackling and popping in the pan. Set aside.
  • Lastly, add a tbsp of oil and cook asafoetida or hing in it for 10-15 seconds. Mix it with the other roasted ingredients.
  • Once everything is well roasted, put it all in a blender. Add salt to taste and grind well. Grind in intervals of some seconds to a coarse powder. Do not grind in one go for long as the sesame seeds will release oil.
  • Store Podi in an airtight glass jar. The powder will last you almost a year.

Happy Cooking!! 🙂

Do give this recipe a shot. If you try this recipe, do give us a shout out. Just click a picture and tag us on @masala.monk or use the hashtag #MasalaMonkRecipe and share on Instagram and Facebook. We would love to hear from you. 🙂

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Know the right way of Consuming Turmeric Milk

We Indians are so well familiar with turmeric spice. Turmeric is so commonly used in India that you will find it in every spice box in a typical Indian household. Rarely you will find an Indian recipe prepared without a dash of turmeric, be it your vegetables or dal preparation. 

Growing up this spice used to be an answer to all our health and skin related issues in our grandmother’s book of wellness. Whenever you fell sick or got injured, your mother or grandmother was quick to force this liquid gold aka Haldi Dhood down your throat. Whether you had chronic cold, cough or stomach related problems, turmeric was antidote to everything. Now, as adults we do realize why our elders did what they did- the science behind their humble wisdom. What was once something our mothers and grandmothers coaxed us into gulping down, has become an international health phenomenon—and all the “golden milk” “turmeric latte” available in every cafe nowadays only reinforce the fact. 

This spice provides innumerable benefits by itself but mix it with milk, and its benefits are doubled. Turmeric mixed with milk is a perfect bedtime drink that helps to reduce inflammation, poor immunity  and disturbed sleep patterns.

Below are all the reasons as to why turmeric milk should be part of your health depository. 

  1. May help fight cancer: Studies indicate that turmeric may offer some protection against cancer.
  2. Strong Bones: Nutrients in turmeric milk contribute to a strong skeleton, reducing your risk of bone diseases, such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.
  3. Reduces inflammation and joint pains: There hero component in turmeric in curcumin. It has strong antioxidants properties which helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a root cause of all the diseases. Having anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric regularly can greatly reduce that risk. Also, it can help ease joint pains. Hence, it is extremely useful for people suffering from arthritis. 
  4. Helps in Cough and Cold: Consuming a glass of turmeric milk at night is the norm for most growing Indian kids, as this concoction not only provides relief from sniffles and coughs, but also protects against further infections. In fact, turmeric milk has an immediate effect on colds and coughs, as it removes excess phlegm from the body. If you are experiencing a sinus headache, a cup of turmeric milk might provide relief, as it eases mucus flow and promotes sinus drainage.
  5. Skin Benefits: Curcumin in turmeric has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which will help in acne and clarifying the complexion. Traditionally, a glass of turmeric milk was given to brides-to-be to add glow to their complexion. For long, turmeric has been a key ingredient in skin care DIY routine for radiant and glowing skin. Turmeric mixed with fresh cream when applied as a mask on face gives an instant glow. 
  6. Induces better sleep: Turmeric milk when combined with saffron was granny’s one of the many remedies to treat insomnia. Dairy foods contain tryptophan, magnesium and zinc, which are essential for serotonin and melatonin production but its bioavailability is limited. When combined with curcumin, it is a game changer. 

Let’s see the correct way of making Turmeric Milk

The main compound in turmeric is curcumin. It makes up about 5% of turmeric. Our liver gets rid of foreign substances by making them water-soluble so that they can be excreted. That is where the role of black pepper comes. Black pepper contains piperine, which naturally helps inhibit drug metabolism. So, when the liver excretes curcumin, piperine can inhibit this process so that curcumin is not excreted. This explains how piperine can help to make curcumin more bioavailable. Research has found that consuming just 20mg of piperine per 2g of turmeric can increase curcumin absorption by up to 2000%. Hence, if you want all the benefits of turmeric milk, do not forget to add black pepper to it.

Recipe: For 1 cup

Ingredients

  1. A2 Cow’s Milk- 1 cup
  2. Turmeric Root: 1/2 inch
  3. Black pepper corns: 2
  4. Cardamom: 1
  5. Saffron: few strands
  6. Jaggery: 1 tsp or as per taste

Instructions

  • In a mortar pestle, add turmeric root, black peppercorns and cardamom. Bruise it a little. 
  • Now in a pan add milk, saffron strands and turmeric mix. Allow the milk to boil. 
  • Then add jaggery powder and allow the milk to simmer for 2 minutes. Switch off the flame. 
  • Cover and let the milk rest for 5 minutes. Sieve and serve warm. 

Notes: 

  1. Cardamom is added because it helps in digestion. It also helps to induce sleep and relieve stress or anxiety. 
  2. Saffron is added to help boost immunity and memory. It also helps to improve sleep quality and protects against flu. 
  3. You can use natural sweetener of your choice. Mishri (rock sugar) or coconut sugar works well too.
  4. Go for A 2 raw cow’s milk instead of pasteurized milk that comes in a packet or a carton. You can boil the raw milk before using it in turmeric milk.
  5. You can add other spices too like ceylon cinnamon or dry ginger powder.

I hope this recipe and information helped you. Do let us know how haldi dhood is prepared at your home. If you have any questions do let us know in the comments. We would love to hear from you. Stay happy and healthy! 🙂