Food is an integral part of any South Asian celebration, no more so than during Diwali, the Festival of Lights and arguably the most important in the Hindu calendar.
The Rangoli patterns, the Diyas, the fireworks and of course, the food is an integral part of Diwali; particularly the vast quantities of sweets that are exchanged.
The South Asian diet however, has been in focus recently after research suggested that South Asian immigrants were at far greater risk of developing diabetes, owing to an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.
Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease, responsible for the highest number of deaths in the United Kingdom.
With Diwali symbolizing a new beginning, it is the ideal time to make a sea-change in your lifestyle, beginning with your diet.
The British Heart Foundation, together with chef and writer Manju Malhi, has come up with a few simple ‘heart-friendly’ recipes to get you on your healthier way.
Hara Bhara Kebabs
100g white or red potatoes, boiled and peeled
100g green peas, cooked
100g spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped
2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 tablespoons coriander leaves, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons corn flour
3 teaspoons olive oil.
In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the olive oil. Mash until fairly smooth.
Take a spoonful of the mixture, the size of a golf ball, and flatten it to make a burger shape. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan and lightly fry the patties for 2 minutes on each side, cooking them well. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot.
Contains 151 kcals with 1 gram of fat and no saturated fat.
Mutter Paneer (Made with Tofu)
300g firm tofu
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small onion chopped
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
450g frozen peas
Cut the tofu into small cubes and set aside
In a warm pan, add the oil, and the mustard and cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the onions and cook until soft.
Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and all the spices and cook for 5 minutes
Add the tofu pieces and the water. Bring to a boil and then add the peas. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
Contans 151 kcals per serving with 1g of fat and 0g of saturated fat.
Tofu is an excellent alternative to paneer which is high in saturated fat. 100g of paneer has 22.5g of saturated fat.
450g carrots, peeled and grated
600 ml skimmed milk
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon cardamom, coarsely ground
8 almonds, sliced
1 teaspoon pistachio nuts, sliced
Place the carrots in a large saucepan. Add the milk and cook, partly covered, over a low to medium heat, for about 1 hour or until the milk has evaporated.
Stir in the sugar with a wooden spoon and cook for another 10 minutes, adding the oil to keep it sticking.
Add the saffron and cardamom and mix well.
Place in a shallow serving dish and sprinkle with almonds and pistachio nuts. Serve hot or cold.
(Contains 151 kcals per serving with 3g fat and 0.5 g saturated fat)
The BHF has a free booklet on diabetes for South Asians. You can order or download this and a range of other resources to help keep your heart healthy for free at the BHF’s website. bhf.org.uk/southasian.
More recipes can be found www.manjumalhi.com.