The past few days in quarantine have made us all try our hands at cooking and baking. From re-creating your mom’s favourite dishes to trying out easy and delicious recipes, once you find your love for cooking, it just won’t end. Keeping that in mind, we’ve spoken to one of the finalists from MasterChef India Season 6 – Chef Natasha Gandhi. She says, “During this lockdown, I have been cooking and sharing many unique recipes which can be made using basic pantry staples at home and that are mainly healthy.” As the founder of House of Millets in Mumbai, her focus is on including all kinds of healthy, gluten-free, unprocessed and nutrient-rich ingredients into her recipes.
 
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“Watching my grandmother & mother create magic in the kitchen with their food inspired me to learn more about it. When a doctor suggested that my father needed to control his sugar intake, that's when I decided to venture into healthy, gluten-free, vegan desserts and food”, says Natasha. While most of us have been craving delicious desserts, Chef Natasha Gandhi gives your favourite ones a healthy and unique twist that also include minimal food wastage that you too can try making at home. Here’s what she had to say:

What are the types of unique dishes you've made during this lockdown?

I have been cooking a lot of healthy dishes with basic kitchen ingredients during the lockdown. I’ve made a healthy mug cake, gluten-free jowar samosa, millet seekh kebab, bajra carrot paratha and many more.

What is your advice to new home chefs?

Due to the limited supply of Ingredients during the lockdown, my advice to them would be to indulge in sustainable methods of cooking and avoid food wastage. For example, try making baked chips from potato skins as an evening snack. Did you know, you can use the watermelon rind to make a dosa or pickle instead of throwing it away? It’s so versatile and tasty. You can also use leftover dal and turn it into a dal roti.

What are the ingredients one should always stock up in the pantry?

Apart from basic essentials like rice and wheat, it is important to stock up on different healthy grains & flours like jowar, quinoa, buckwheat, rawa, besan, pulses, lentils and beans to help break the monotony in cooking. If you like baking, invest in ingredients like yeast, baking powder, eggs, cooking chocolate and cream. Lastly, a few flavour boosters like curry leaves, soy sauce, vinegar and essential Indian spices are a must-have.

MasterChef Natasha Gandhi’s Favourite Lockdown Recipes

Healthy Carrot Cake

Makes - 300 grams, Serves- 4, Prep time- 10 mins, Baking time- 30 mins.

Ingredients

1/2 Cup Oats Flour
1/2 Cup Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Jaggery
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup curd
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup carrot
2 tbsp milk

Method

  • Mix all dry ingredients - oats flour, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, jaggery powder & carrot in a bowl.
  • Add in the wet ingredients - curd, milk & oil and give it a nice mix.
  • Transfer to a cake ring and bake for 30 mins at 160°C in a preheated oven.
  • Let the cake cool down completely & enjoy.

Gluten-free Pancakes

Serving- 4-5 pancakes, Prep time- 10 mins, Cooking time- 10 mins.

Ingredients

1 cup Ragi/Nachni/finger millet flour
2tbsp raw cacao powder (optional)
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Curd
1/4 Cup Water
4 tbsp Jaggery powder
1/4 th tsp baking powder
1/4 th tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

Method

  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • Whisk until well combined and ensure there are no lumps.
  • Heat a pan & grease with oil or butter.
  • In a ladle take out approx 1/4 cup batter and pour onto the pan.
  • Cook for about 1 min and you will see bubbles form over the surface.
  • At this stage flip it over and cook on the other side.
  • Stack 3-4 pancakes on top of each other and serve hot with honey or maple syrup & fresh fruits or berries.

No-Bake Breakfast Cookies

Healthy | Glutenfree | Vegan Serving- 5-6 cookies, Prep time- 5 mins, Cooking time- 10 mins.

Ingredients

1/2 ripe banana
1 cup toasted rolled oats or granola or chopped nuts of choice
1/4 cup almond butter or any nut or seed butter
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp date syrup or maple syrup or honey

Method

  • On a pan, roast the oats or nuts if not using granola.
  • In a medium bowl, mash the banana, add almond butter and incorporate well.
  • Add remaining ingredients and to form a dough-like mixture.
  • Now form into cookies and sprinkle with toppings of choice.
  • Leave in the fridge to firm up for about 10-15 mins.
  • Enjoy with some additional melted chocolate on top.
  Images Courtesy: Natasha Gandhi

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