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15 August

Recipe: Fattoush Salad

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‘Fattoush’ is Lebanese in origin and is popular in almost all Middle Eastern cuisines. Its uniqueness is in its vital ingredients; sumac and pomegranate molasses. Sumac is a spice extracted from wild berries and should be available in herbs sections of most stores. Pomegranate molasses, if unavailable can be prepared at home (recipe included). Rest of the ingredients are easily available vegetables found in our usual chopped salads. The name ‘fattoush’ is derived from Arabic word that means bread crumbs, as toasted/fried pita bread (similar to croutons) is the topping. Here is a simple authentic recipe of this healthy and delicious salad that can be enjoyed at iftaar time.


Salad ingredients 

1 capsicum, thinly sliced or chopped
2 cucumbers, chopped

1 head romaine lettuce or watercress, coarsely chopped 
2 large tomatoes, diced 
1 large onion, chopped 
2 radishes, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sumac
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

2 pita breads, split from side to side, toasted/fried and crushed into small pieces


Dressing 

  •  1/4 cup olive oil
  •  juice from 2 lemons
  •  1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (or to taste)
  •  2 teaspoons sumac
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preparation Method

First of all, pomegranate molasses can be prepared with 4 cups of pomegranate juice, ½ cup of sugar and ¼

cup of lemon juice. Just cook all these ingredients into a pan and keep simmering for an hour or until it takes

the consistency of a thick syrup. Then refrigerate.


Mix all the ingredients except the pita bread in a bowl, add the dressing and toss well. Then add the fried

or toasted pita bread on top.Enjoy delicious fattoush that is rich in green vegetables and nutrients, great for

weight watchers.

 


fattoush, fattoush salad, lebanese bread salad, pita, sumac
02 August

Healthy Fasting

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We came across this terrific resource on 'Healthy Fasting' at the NHS, UK webiste, and are sharing it with you here. You can visit the link at 

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthyramadan/Pages/healthyfasting.aspx

 

Don't break your fast with a feast or you may put on weight instead of losing it.

If you are not careful, food eaten during the pre-dawn and dusk meals can cause some weight gain.

Dr Razeen Mahroof, an anaesthetist from Oxford, says feasting during the non-fasting hours can be unhealthy. He says you need to approach the fast with discipline, or the opportunity to lose weight and be healthier will be wasted.

“The underlying message behind Ramadan is self-discipline and self-control," he says. "This shouldn’t fall apart at the end of the day".

Balanced diet

Those observing the fast should have at least two meals a day, the pre-dawn meal (Suhoor) and a meal at dusk (Iftar).

Dr Mahroof says your food intake should be simple and not differ too much from your normal diet. It should contain foods from all the major food groups:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • bread, other cereals and potatoes
  • meat, fish and alternatives
  • milk and dairy foods
  • foods containing fat and sugar

Complex carbohydrates are foods that help release energy slowly during the long hours of fasting. They are found in foods such as barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and basmati rice.

Fibre-rich foods are also digested slowly and include bran, cereals, whole wheat, grains and seeds, potatoes with the skin, vegetables such as green beans, and almost all fruit, including apricots, prunes and figs.

Foods to avoid are the heavily processed, fast-burning foods that contain refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour), as well as fatty food (for example cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets, such as Indian mithai).

It's also worth avoiding caffeine-based drinks such as tea, coffee and cola. Caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates faster water loss through urination.

Wholesome foods

Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, should be a wholesome, moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours.

“Suhoor should be light and include slow digesting food like pitta bread, salad, cereal (especially oats) or toast so that you have a constant release of energy,” Dr Mahroof says.

“It’s important to have some fluids with vitamins, such as fruit juice or fruit. Some people have isotonic drinks (such as Lucozade) to replace any lost salts.”

It's customary for Muslims to break the fast (Iftar) with some dates, in accordance with the Prophetic traditions.

Dates will provide a burst of energy. Fruit juices will also have a similar, revitalising effect. Start by drinking plenty of water, which helps rehydration and reduces the chances of overindulgence. Avoid the rich, special dishes that traditionally celebrate the fast.

Foods to avoid

  • deep-fried foods, for example pakoras, samosas and fried dumplings
  • high-sugar and high-fat foods, including sweets such as gulab jamun, rasgulla and balushahi
  • high-fat cooked foods, for example, parathas, oily curries and greasy pastries

Healthy alternatives

  • baked samosas and boiled dumplings
  • chapattis made without oil, baked or grilled meat and chicken. Make pastry at home and use a single layer
  • milk-based sweets and puddings such as rasmalai and barfee

Cooking methods to avoid

  • deep frying
  • frying
  • excessive use of oil

Healthy cooking methods

  • shallow frying (usually there is little difference in taste)
  • grilling or baking is healthier and helps retain the taste and original flavour of the food, especially with chicken and fish
25 July

At your event, keep decision-makers to a minimum

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At events, especially wedding events, a lot of people around you may feel really excited and may want to chip in with their ideas, tips and offers for help. While any help from friends and relatives should always be welcome, you need to make sure that the quantity of suggestions and decision-makers stays very limited.

 

Being the hosts, I am sure you will have loads on your minds. Issues ranging from choosing who to invite, making lodging arrangements, choosing dresses, caterers, decorators, dishes, colour themes, event itinerary etc. With so much on your mind already, the last thing you need is information over-load in the form of suggestions and opinions from just about anybody. I have very frequently seen events getting ruined due to such confusion and indecision on the part of some of my clients. They either try to please everyone or are not sure of what they should be doing, and in the process get their own anxiety levels high and create massive confusions for the service providers.

 

The best solution to the entire situation is to either take control of your choices yourself without thinking about what others would think, or to put your faith in a select few family members (2-3 at best) and consult only them for ideas. The hard truth is that you will never keep everyone happy, and frankly that doesn't even matter. What matters is that you and your immediate family stay satisfied with your hard-work and efforts that you put into the event, do your best and hope that every-one that you have invited has a great time at your events. So trust your judgement and decide to decide.  

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