Daily Archives: October 6, 2008

Spanish Omelette(Tortilla)

All this last week, I have had a solitary red bell pepper sitting among the other vegetables in the fridge and  looking at me -I felt -reproachfully for being left unused.

I usually love red bell pepper in salads, but I haven’t felt like making salad since the weather has turned cold. So I decided this evening to make a Spanish omelette instead, since red pepper makes a healthy, tasty,colorful addition to it. I will use some of it for lunch tomorrow for Noor and me – it is a food she loves. This omelette, called a tortilla in Spain, luckily keeps well for a few days in the fridge, so the rest of it will be handy for dinner for the 4 of us one evening later this week.

You could add meats (such as diced ham) and vegetables to the basic egg and potato combination, to make different kinds of tortilla. Here’s the recipe for my version of it.

Spanish Omelette

6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut across in to very fine round slices( I use a food processor to do this; I’d find it a challenge to slice the potatoes as fine by hand)

6 eggs

1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced

2 medium sized onions, peeled and sliced fine

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil very slightly in a large, fairly thick-bottomed frying pan. Add the onions and the potatoes, cover, and leave to cook till the potatoes are soft, over moderate heat. Turn the mixture gently from time to time with a flat/wide cooking spoon, taking care that the onions and the potatoes don’t brown or burn. Try to separate the fine slices of the potatoes – which tend to stick to each other because they are so thin – each time, so that all of it gets cooked. Half way through, add the pepper.

When the mixture is cooked (the potatoes should be soft but not lose all form and become mushy, though they will be smashed up a bit), take it out in to a large dish, and allow it to cool.

Break the eggs in a separate bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Add to the first mixture when it has cooled and stir gently to mix evenly.

Return the frying pan to the heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, turn the egg and potato mixture back in, cover, and leave it to set, on moderate heat. When the mixture is almost set (this will take about 10 minutes;the middle won’t yet be set but don’t wait for this to happen else the other side will get burnt), turn the omelette over by sliding it on to a large plate, and then leave the other side to set. This will take just a few minutes.

Take it out when it is cooked on to a large serving plate and when it has cooled down, wrap it in cling film to store in the fridge.

This omelette makes a complete meal, with a green salad or soup, and some bread. And since it is easy to carry, sliced up, it is a great picnic food as well. I also make it sometimes for an indulgent, leisurely sort of weekend breakfast.

I am looking forward to my delicious lunch tomorrow, already 🙂

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Easy One Pot Cooking, Picnic Food, Starters and Snacks

Haldi(Turmeric)


When I decided to find out more about turmeric, I was sure there would be lots I’d learn.

And wow ! It has certainly made for some pretty impressive reading.

It wouldn’t be wrong, I think,  to call this a wonder spice. The list of real and potential benefits that tradition and even modern research claim for it is very long indeed (though some of these claims, as a few sources are careful to say, are based on clinical trials with animals, with similar effectiveness in humans yet to be conclusively proved) .

Here is a summary of the highlights:

Haldi, a commonly used spice, has been an important element of traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for centuries. It has been used as an antiseptic , to treat respiratory problems, to treat skin diseases, to treat rashes, boils, ulcers and infections. In fact in 1997, India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial research managed to stop a patent being granted to researchers (led by two Indian born scientists) in the U.S., who were working on creating products based on the healing properties of turmeric, by proving that knowledge of the benefits of turmeric has been in the public domain in India for a very long time.

The active/main compound of turmeric is curcumin, a polyphenol that has been found to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial qualities. It has been found to be effective in the relief of arthiritic pain, because it alleviates joint inflammation.

Turmeric, which has been the focus of a great deal of research around the world in recent years -to quote one source, two hundred and fifty-six curcumin papers were published in 2004 – is being hailed as a potential cure for a range of health conditions – neurodegenrative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and MS, auto-immune diseases, many kind of cancers, and Type-2 diabetes.

Scientists have noticed for quite long now that prostrate cancer – the second most common cause of death due to cancer – is rare in India. This is attributed to a diet rich in vegetables such as cauliflower, and the use of turmeric in Indian cooking. In laboratory tests, curcumin has been found to inhibit the growth of human prostrate cells implanted in immune-deficient mice.

(The flip side to the potential befit of turmeric for inhibiting cancer cell growth is that recent animal studies indicate that dietary turmeric may inhibit the anti-tumor action of chemotherapeutic agents so it has been suggested, for example, that breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy should  limit intake of turmeric and turmeric-containing foods)

The use of turmeric in Indian food – is also the reason, studies indicate,for the much lower occurrence (one of the lowest rates in the world) of Alzheimer’s among older Indians who are in the age group usually at most risk for this disease.

Research has also shown that curcumin helps lower bad cholesterol, and increases the levels of good cholesterol, in the body. It also helps alleviate the inflammation response in the body caused  by obesity, and could thus help prevent Type-2 diabetes.

If you want more detail on any of this, here are the sources I looked at:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78http://www.deccanherald.com/Content/Feb192008/snt2008021852974.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turmeric

http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,4046|Turmeric,00.html

http://www.bri.ucla.edu/bri_weekly/news_060206.asp

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/turmeric-000277.htm

http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/11790.cfm?Disclaimer_Redirect=%2Fmskcc%2Fhtml%2F69401.cfm

http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2008/06/23/Turmeric_may_reduce_type_2_diabetes_risk/UPI-96261214219482/

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Filed under Exploring the Spice Shelf