Catering for the International Fair at South Mountain, Millburn Elementary School 4/4/13

Catering for the International Fair at South Mountain, Millburn Elementary School 4/4/13

One of my very dear friends called me to check if I could cater for Millburn Elementary school’s International Fair day. On this day, all the parents and kids get to taste¬†different cuisines from all over the world and so I decided to take up this challenge to represent Indian Food. According to the instructions that was given to me by my friend, they needed something that was easy for kids as well as parents to pick and eat, dishes I prepare should obviously have flavors of my country India, it has to be ALLERGY FREE ¬†ūüôā and not very spicy. They also mentioned that they needed a dessert as well that had no nuts, no milk and so forth so even kids or parents with nut or milk allergies would be able to enjoy it. I decided to make VEGETABLE ROLLS and for dessert, my favorite¬†CARAMELIZED¬†BANANAS WITH TOASTED SWEETENED COCONUT FLAKES AND CARDAMOM.

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I woke up early this morning all ready to take up the challenge. My vegetable rolls needed stuffing for which I decided to saute onions, bell peppers and boiled cooked potatoes with a bunch of home ground Indian spices. Once the stuffing was cooked and ready, I started spooning in some of the stuffing in each roll and folding it and cutting it into 3 for mess free eating:)

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I was asked to make 75 such Vegetable rolls and cut into 3 so a total of 225 pieces and a small tray of dessert.

It took me a while to make and cut those 225 pieces:)  I then had to start on my dessert. Dessert was simple but healthy and delicious. I had some cardamom seeds in my pantry so took them and freshly ground them using mortar and pestle. I chopped the most number of bananas I ever have in my life so far:) and used a tad of clarified butter along with brown sugar to get those puppies cooking and caramelized! Then I sprinkled some toasted sweetened coconut flakes on top and added some freshly ground cardamom as garnish- Pure heavenly bliss!

I packed everything up and had it dropped at the Millburn Elementary school, my dishes proudly representing my country India and its flavors!!!! My friend also sent me a picture clicked at the fair with most of the food gone in the trays:)

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“ACTIFRY”- the latest favorite gadget in my kitchen

“ACTIFRY”- the latest favorite gadget in my kitchen

ACTIFRY by TFAL was introduced to me by one of my friends Michele. When she said to me that ACTIFRY uses 1 teaspoon of oil to fry anything starting from potatoes to any veggies like beans, carrots, zucchini you name it and these veggies get crispy in 20 minutes or less with ONE teaspoon of oil!

My blog screams out healthy and I was skeptical but knowing me, I knew I was going to try and test it out. My first trial with ACTIFRY was with BITTERGOURD also known as BITTERMELON! I am not sure how many of you have heard about this vegetable or eaten it but from the name it is a bitter vegetable that has to be seasoned well to cut out its bitterness.

Why Bittergourd? 

Bittergourd is a popularly used and scientifically proven vegetable that has the ability to lower blood glucose in diabetics. 

Very low in calories.  The pods are rich in phytonutrients like dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.

 Bitter melon notably contains phyto-nutrient, polypeptide-P; a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar level

Fresh pods are an excellent source of folates, vitamin-C and flavonoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthins. It also contains good amount of vitamin A.  

Also a good source of Niacin (vitamin B-3), Pantothenic acid (vit.B-5), Pyridoxine (vit.B-6) and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and magnesium.

Generally, people try to avoid this vegetable for its bitterness but if you weigh the health benefits and if you can find a way to cook it well by cutting off the bitterness then

its a gifted vegetable that should be included in all our diets!

My recipe also includes the use of 1 red potato just because I have tried the combination of bitter gourd with potatoes and it is truly delicious!

I used 2 Bittergourds and to cut the bitterness initially, I chop off the spikes that it has on the surface a little bit because that has the most bitterness.

Then I chop the ends of the vegetable and start cutting it out in round circles or rings. I did not use the pods and took them out but you may throw that in as well if you like! I also chop 1 red potato into wedges and 1/2 an onion lengthwise:)

The ACTIFRY comes with a green teaspoon that can be used to measure oil. I open the ACTIFRY lid,  throw in the cut bittergourd as well as the wedged potatoes and the onions.

I sprinkle some salt, lemon pepper(i love tangy!!!) cayenne and a pinch of curry powder. I then add the oil that I have taken in the green teaspoon and pour it so that it covers most of the veggies!

I close the lid, set the timer(there’s a timer button where you can set for 20 minutes and if you want more crispy increase the timer to another 10 minutes or so).

and then PRESS THE BUTTON “ON”! I sit on my couch, watching MASTERCHEF on Fox and wait for the timer to beep! People, I am thinking how crisp can it get(saracasm)

and I am completely mistaken and the “ACTIFRY” truly proves me wrong:(

In 20 minutes I get crispy bitter gourd and potatoes and I ATE A WHOLE BOWL!!!!!TRUST ME guys- its worth the money- IF U LIKED FRIED AND ARE A HEALTH FREAK like me -get the “ACTIFRY”!

Its fantastic to have in everyone’s kitchen.

Hope you enjoyed and promise to try BITTERGOURD- ITS A MIRACLE VEGETABLE!

With much love as always…….