Stew it up for health

Stew it up for health

Stew it up for health

A stew is not just comfort food, especially during the rains or winter, but also a powerhouse of immunity and health, avows Sangeeta Sen.

When it comes to stew, our thoughts always turn to a piping-hot food that is chock-full of some wholesome root vegetables, herbs and/ braised vegetables simmered slowly over a gentle flame. As a matter of fact, such type of stew has been the perfect choice, across cultures since time immemorial, for promoting good health.

For the ancient Romans, a stew of lentils, like the Laganophake Stew, made a perfect healthy meal. A medley of various recent experiments and studies conducted, indeed, back the Roman’s belief:

The Laganophake Stew has ingredients like green lentils that are rich in proteins and iron. Besides, the green lentils help ensure a healthy immune system. Its dietary fibre content helps sustain the energy levels. In addition, this stew has other ingredients like the quercetin-rich onion that performs anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory functions.

The stew contains the digestive cumin, dill leaves with anti-bacterial properties, as well as aniseeds and black pepper that help reduce bronchial irritation. The icing on the cake is that Laganophake also contains parsley leaves, which are rich in vitamins A and C, and thyme leaf extracts that help prevent colon cancer.

It’s not just the Laganophake Stew. Other varieties of healthy stews dating back to the ancient times are gradually finding their way into the kitchens today. Take, for example, the Persian Ghormeh Sabzi, that dates back to about 500 to 1000 years.

This stew was cooked with herbs, kidney beans and cottage cheese. It was considered a very healthy choice as it was known to consist of minerals and vitamins that were deemed necessary for good health. In fact, recent researchers have confirmed that the spinach, parsley and fresh coriander leaves present in this stew are full of iron and folic acid.

In addition, these ingredients contain vitamins C, A and K, all of which are essential for maintaining strong immune and nervous systems, and good bone health as well. Besides, it also contains  immunity-boosters like dried limes and lemon juice. The manganese-rich red kidney beans, present in this stew, help cut down risks of developing cancerous growths. Also, the garlic used acts as a powerful antibiotic.

Back home, our ayurvedic texts too prescribe several types of vegetable stews that help boost the immune system, get rid of common cold and cough or flu, relieve acidity, gastric problems, constipation and many other common ailments.

The Ayurvedic Carotene Stew - rich in, as its name suggests, carotene, from lettuce, green beans and carrots - is the best example. Spiced with cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, the stew is known to help balance the pitta, vata and kapha doshas, thereby, protecting the body against a variety of illnesses.

Furthermore, it’s also known to relieve symptoms of stress. Well, what are you waiting for? Throw on your apron and try one of these health-boosting vegetarian stews right away!

Roman Laganophake Stew

Ingredients: 100g of green lentils (or sabut moong dal), a finely sliced onion, a sprig each of fresh parsley, finely chopped dill and thyme leaves, 1 ½ tablespoons of red vinegar, 1 teaspoon cumin powder or cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon aniseeds or saunf, a pinch of black pepper, salt to taste, some oregano flakes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and water as desired.

Method: Fry the sliced onions till golden brown in a shallow pan. Add the green lentils, red vinegar and about 3 cups of water. Grind the cumin and the aniseeds and then, add to the stew mixture. Also add the chopped dill leaves. Stir in the chopped thyme and mix well. Simmer the whole mixture over a gentle flame till the green lentils are cooked. Finally, transfer the healthy Laganophake Stew into a bowl. Garnish with the chopped parsley, and serve hot.

Persian Gormeh Sabzi

Ingredients: A bunch of roughly chopped spinach leaves, ½ cup each of chopped parsley and coriander leaves, 350g of cottage cheese (cut into 1-inch cubes), 1 ½ cups of cooked kidney beans, 2 finely sliced spring onions, 1 thinly sliced medium-sized spring onion, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 dried limes (made by blanching lemons in salted water and then drying them) that are soaked in water for a couple of minutes, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, salt, black pepper, vegetable stock and olive oil as desired.

Method: Coat the paneer cubes with some olive oil, salt, turmeric and black pepper. Grill them till the cubes turn golden. Next, in a big pan, heat olive oil and fry the chopped onions until brown. Add the chopped garlic, kidney beans, grilled paneer cubes and the vegetable stock. Mix well and allow to simmer. Also add the chopped spinach, parsley and coriander leaves, as well as the spring onions. Pierce the dried limes and add them to the stew, along with their water. Add the lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Cook till the dried limes and the spring onions turn tender. Finally, pour a bit of olive oil over the stew and serve hot.

Ayurvedic Carotene Stew

Ingredients: 3 cups of beta carotene-rich vegetables like chopped lettuce leaves, green beans and carrots, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 4 black pepper corns, 1 cinnamon stick, 5 cloves, 4 crushed
green cardamoms, salt, water and oil.

Method: Cook the mixed vegetables until they soften, and set aside. Grind the cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, crushed cardamoms and cloves to form a powder. Meanwhile, in a stew pot, heat some oil and sauté this spice powder for a minute. Add the cooked vegetables, salt and water as desired for making the stew. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve this healing stew piping hot.