Every day, it seems, somebody somewhere finds some new-fangled food or food combination that can cure a million ills, boost your immunity, bring a glow to your face and help you live longer.
Not so long ago, people were guzzling lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup mixed with water. The concoction is said to detoxify the body and boost metabolism. People have also been adding butter (from grass-fed cows only) to their morning coffee. Bulletproof coffee, as it is called, is supposed to aid weight loss and help people concentrate better.
Acai berries from the Amazon are touted as a superfood. They are rich in antioxidants and are said to stimulate the immune system and boost energy. The berry is an uninspiring, vaguely purple colour when mashed up, so health food places jazz it up with colourful fruit and toasted coconut to make it appealing.
More bizarrely, alpiste or canary seeds, essentially bird food, is now thought of as good for humans. It can be ground into flour and used to make bread, cookies and snacks that are gluten free and protein rich.
I have always been sceptical about these claims. Just as soon as one article appears on the Internet, touting the health benefits of this or that, another will appear, debunking everything in the first article.
MAKE IT YOURSELF: MORINGA STEW
• 150g to 200g moringa leaves (above), weighed with stems 1 large onion, about 250g
• One 439g can of chickpeas
• 200g paneer (below)
• Two 411g cans of whole peeled tomatoes
• 2 to 3 bird's eye chillies
• 3 Tbs cooking oil
• 2 tsp black mustard seeds
• 2 tsp fennel seeds
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 700g passata (bottom)
• 2 tsp sugar
• salt to taste
1. Remove moringa leaves from stems, discard the stems and place leaves in a large colander. Rinse thoroughly under running water and leave to drip dry.
2. Peel and chop the onion, drain chickpeas and discard the liquid, cut paneer into 1cm or 2cm cubes. Strain the liquid from canned tomatoes into a bowl and roughly chop up the tomatoes. Add them to the bowl and set aside. Slice the chillies.
3. Pour oil into a wide and deep pot set over medium high heat. When the surface of the oil starts to shimmer, add mustard, fennel and cumin seeds. Stir the spices until the mustard seeds start to pop and the fennel and cumin are fragrant. Add the onion and stirfry until translucent. Add chillies and canned tomatoes, stir to mix well. Add passata and sugar. Have a taste and add more sugar if necessary, to temper the tartness of the tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a boil and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.
4. Add chickpeas and paneer, mix them in well and cook for 5 minutes. Add the moringa leaves and cook another 5 minutes , stirring, until the greens are wilted. Have a taste of the stew and add salt, if needed.
5. Dish into a serving bowl and serve immediately, with bread or rice.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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