Craving fast food but worried about the guilt? What if we told you there were ways of ‘unjunking’ your favourite junk foods? Burgers, pizzas, dips and chips can all be healthy and taste good at the same time. Switch to coarse grain, grill instead of deep fry, bake and add oil on the top to make your favourite unhealthy, over-fried, refined food better for your body. Remember, though, that these meals are best enjoyed fresh as they are preservative-free. Here are a few recipes to up the nutrition factor in a few popular fast food dishes.
Mini multigrain or coarse grain burger buns
250gms homemade chicken breast mince
2-3 tbsps onion, finely chopped
Herbs of your choice (you could use a combination of finely chopped coriander, mint and green chillies and chaat masala for an Indian flavour; or finely chopped jalapenos, basil and oregano, or chopped olives and piripiri spices for an eclectic flavour)
2-3 egg whites for binding the mince
Olive oil spray
Salt and freshly-crushed pepper
Low-fat cheese slices
– To make the burger patty, blend chicken mince, onion and herb mix of choice with the egg whites and keep for 30 to 40 minutes. Next, pat this mix into a three inch patty, and steam in a steamer till almost done for about 10 to 15 mins. Next spray some oil in a non-stick pan and lightly fry on both sides till evenly brown. Cool at room temperature.
– To plate the burger, halve the multigrain bun, apply low-fat mayo, place some lettuce leaves, half a slice of low fat cheese, then the cooked patty, the other half slice of cheese and the other half of the bun to complete. Heat in the microwave for a couple of minutes and enjoy.
– Vegetarians can replace the chicken in the patty with skimmed paneer and vegans with light tofu.
– Serve with baked potato chips or baked sweet potato chips available at health food stores. Instead of ketchup use homemade tomato sauce (recipe below).
Homemade tomato sauce
In a saucepan, add a dash of olive oil and simmer four-five chopped tomatoes with two-three cloves of chopped garlic, some chilli flakes, freshly crushed pepper, rock salt, and a teaspoon or two of maple syrup and one teaspoon vinegar. Slow cook. Cool and blend to the consistency of a sauce.
Whole wheat or multi grain pav, halved
50gms sweet potato and 50gms red pumpkin (to replace potato), parboiled and chopped
1/2 cup carrots, beans, cabbage, diced; mustard greens (optional)
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1-2 green chillies, chopped
1 tomato, blanched and pureed (add some chilli flakes for heat)
1 tbsp almond meal
1-2 tsps pav bhaji masala
1/2 tsp tamarind juice (use more if desired)
1 tsp cold-pressed sesame oil, for cooking
1/2 to 1 tsp melted butter for the pav
1/4 cup skim-milk paneer flavoured with chopped dill leaves, coriander and chilly flakes
– In a saucepan, heat the oil and half the almond meal, add green chilli and sauté for a few minutes. Cook the onion till transparent, then add the sweet potato and other vegetables and pav bhaji masala. Stir in tomato puree and cook over low heat, mashing continuously till it’s the desired consistency. Stir in the remaining almond meal and tamarind juice, and simmer for a few minutes.
– Toast the pav halves on a tava. When browned, add a dash of the melted butter and gently fry for a minute or so.
– To serve, place the bhaji on a plate, garnish with 1/4 cup of the dill-flavoured paneer, and enjoy with pav.
100gms mixed root vegetables like sweet potato, beet root, turnip (when in season) or yam
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground anardana
Pinch of black salt, rock salt, freshly crushed pepper
1-2 eggs (whites only)
– Steam the root vegetables in salted water, peal and mash. In a separate saucepan, lightly fry the onion, green chillies and kala jeera. Cool this mixture. Add a dash of chaat masala, anardana and a pinch of black salt, rock salt and freshly crushed pepper.
– Blend the egg whites in this mixture. Spoon underground vegetable mix into a flat 2-inch-sized patty. Coat with coarse almond flour for a crispy texture. (To make almond flour, roast a handful of almonds, cool and grind in a dry grinder.)
– Bake patties in a medium-heated oven till browned. Enjoy with homemade tomato sauce, tamarind chutney, coriander or garlic chutney.
This article first appeared online as a special post for Vogue India.