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Sattva: Issue 30
2 condiments you must make at home | 10 minute microbreaks | Shopping dhamaka & more
Hello! If you are new to my newsletter, a warm welcome.
Sattva (सत्त्व) is a beautiful Sanskrit word that has many meanings—spirit, true essence, good sense, wisdom, quality of purity, energy, consciousness and mind, among other things.
Through this fortnightly newsletter, I want to bring to you all things good, which will make your life better. My focus will be on topics such as mindfulness, productivity, slow living and sustainability, accompanied by genuinely useful recommendations of products, books, music, links to read, and of course food and recipes. Through these, I hope to instil some Sattva in your life.
2 bomb condiments you must make at home
1. Chilli flakes
Chilli flakes sold in bottles is dead stuff. It’s best made at home in small quantities and stored in a small airtight jar.
Take a hot variety of dried red chilli like Guntur (two handfuls). You can throw in a few Byadagi or Kashmiri variety for colour and reduce the heat level of the chilli flakes.
Remove the stems. Cut it into small pieces using kitchen scissors. Be mindful of your hands touching your face/eyes or wear gloves while handling chillies. Discard any seeds that fall off while snipping the chillies.
Place a heavy-bottomed pan on the lowest heat. Dry roast the chillies on very low heat for 4-5 minutes. We don’t want to brown or smoke the chillies. Roast just enough to crisp it up so it can be ground to flakes easily.
During the roasting process, a lot of seeds will settle at the bottom of the pan. Remove the roasted chilli pieces to a dish to cool and discard the seeds.
Transfer the cooled roasted chilli to a mixer jar or a spice grinder. Use the pulse function 3-5 times until the chillies are ground to flakes. Don’t run the mixer continuously or you will end up with chilli powder.
Where to use: Pizza, pasta, salad dressings, sauces and in the bomb condiment recipe that follows. You can also use this in all curries and tempering where you don’t want people to remove the whole red chillies and decorate the sides of their plate. All of the flavour, zero waste.
2. MamaK’s super addictive spice mix
Earlier this year when I was in Delhi, I had the pleasure of spending a day with my friend Kishi and her mum Bala ji (better known as MamaK on Instagram). She cooks the most delicious and memorable food with all her heart. As a part of the large spread, she served dahi bhallas which had cloud-like bhallas immersed in creamy dahi. The key thing about this dish was MamaK’s special spice mix, which was unforgettably lip-smacking.
It is the kind of spice mix that can elevate any dish, not just dahi bhallas, raitas or chhaas. My husband tasted it yesterday and promptly announced that it would make the perfect ‘touchings’ with his drink. For those of you wondering what it means, in the South, it is the word for any small snacks that you eat alongside your drink. It could even be pickles (insane, right?). When I gave him the eye roll, he settled for ‘I’ll add it to my next gin cocktail.” Now, that’s not a bad idea at all.
For this spice mix, the first ingredient you need is chilli flakes, the process I’ve shared with you here. The next flavour bomb ingredient here is bhuna jeera or roasted and ground cumin seeds. There’s no denying that cumin is a flavoursome spice, but when you patiently roast it until its dark brown, the flavour multiplies exponentially. It almost becomes a hulk version of the raw cumin seeds. Smoky, slightly bitter and intensely aromatic, these are enough reasons for you to prepare bhuna jeera at home. Make just enough to last a week as the longer it sits in your kitchen, the aroma will be lost. And for heaven’s sake NEVER EVER get store-bought bhuna jeera.
To prepare this spice mix, in a small bottle mix together:
2 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp roasted cumin powder (bhuna jeera)
½ tsp black salt (kala namak)
½ tsp regular salt
¼ tsp compound asafoetida (hing)
Where to use: On dahi vadas and dahi bhallas as a garnish or finishing spice, in chaats made from potatoes, chana etc., raitas, buttermilk, potato subzis, dry chana subzi, and yes, if you are adventurous, rim your cocktail glass with this spice mix. YUM!
These 120 ml glass jars sold with labels and a funnel are perfect to store homemade spice mixes.
Navratri tip: Try adding this to your black chana or kabuli chana sundal. Add the (unsalted) cooked chana to a tempering of cumin seeds in ghee. Sprinkle this spice mix and let it coat the chana. Garnish with lemon juice and coriander leaves.
I read this recently on the Fortune Well website and the title instantly had my attention. I, for one, can plod through an intense 50-minute work period if I know that I have something interesting to do at the end of it.
Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique? It is a time management system invented in the 1980s in which you work for 25 minutes and take a 5-minute break or work for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. This helps people focus better and get more work done. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get accomplished in 25 minutes of undistracted time.
Here are a few ideas on how to make the best use of these microbreaks.
Walk around the house (If you read my edition on walking, you’ll know the benefits of this.)
Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea.
Play with your pet.
No pet? Check on your plants - water, prune, wipe them down, sing to them.
No plants? Pick up a book, an old favourite or a new one and read a few pages.
Watch a couple of videos from your ‘Watch Later’ list on YouTube. Do remember that you have a hard stop in 10 minutes though.
Think of what dinners you want to cook or order for the next few days and make a list.
Go to a window or a balcony and look into the distance. This is very important for the eye muscles especially if you face a screen all day during your working hours.
Do a few breathing exercises or stretches, especially for your neck and shoulders.
Diwali Shopping Dhamaka💥
All the e-commerce websites are trying their levelest best to turn you into a shopaholic, if you are not one already, that is.
I’m sharing with you some of my finds and buys.
AMAZON - I came across an amazing offer on the Kuving’s Nutri Blender (like a Nutribullet), in which the appliance is at an 80% discount, for a steal price of Rs.3990 (The original price is around Rs.22,000). A brand well known for its cold press juicer, this is a great deal, and possibly one of the only not-to-miss deals in the Amazon sale fest. The deal ends 8 hours from now (Thursday midnight). I’m sorry if it is not available by the time you read my newsletter.
P.S. If you already have a mixer that does all the mixing, grinding, blending jobs well, then this appliance is not a must have. Although I do feel it is a good addition to the kitchen at this price, especially if you do a lot of heavy duty cooking at home.
What you are reading below is a newsletter exclusive – shopping recommendations that I haven’t shared anywhere else yet (see, there are benefits of being a Sattva subscriber!)
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AMAZON - I loved this range of bath and body products called Pharmacopia that I first used in a hotel some years ago. I looked for it online and it wasn’t available then. I’m glad it is finally available on Amazon now. The fragrance of their Argan Oil range is out of the world.
AJIO – I have always loved the ethnic wear on Ajio, much more than Myntra for its better quality and curation. Their Indie Picks range is my favourite.
The Indie Picks Ikat pants in various colours are currently available at around 500Rs. These work as kurta bottoms as well as pants to go with shorter tops. It’s got a nice waistband, pockets on both sides and a little embroidery detailing along the waist and pockets. I’ve got a few of these and I am going to wear them fairly regularly.
MYNTRA - Check out the kurtas under the brand Taavi, for both women and men. High quality and great design make it a sure winner. I bought a white Chikankari (can never have too many of these) which has proper hand embroidery and not some machine embroidery masquerading as Chikankari (blasphemy). I also bought a green-blue block print kurta from Taavi which has me in love with ethnic wear all over again.
EK by Ekta Kapoor -Did you know that the media mogul has launched her own lifestyle brand that sells clothes, home linen and wellness products? I didn’t until my search for table linen on Google showed me this brand in the search results. I haven’t yet bought from this brand but I found the collections quite refreshing and they seem to be of good quality (hopefully appearances aren’t deceptive in this case). For example, how lovely is this Off White Bedsheet Set? It is sold out or else I’d be seriously tempted to get it even though I have no need for yet another bedsheet set.
Let me know if you like this kind of shopping gupshup in the newsletter and I’ll make sure to keep your feedback in mind for the future editions.
The next issue of Sattva will be the Diwali edit. It will include Diwali gifting ideas (DIY and buying reccos), Diwali recipes, Diwali ethnic chic dressing ideas and more! Do not miss it J
If you want to share with me your gifting ideas, recipes or Diwali looks, email me on saffrontrail at gmail dot com. If it goes with the aesthetics of my Diwali edition, I shall include it in my newsletter.
Check out my Diwali decor idea list that I curated on Amazon last year.
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