I love good stories, relevant information, and flavorful recipes. When the three coincide, I am thrilled. Such is the case with today’s cookbook and review of Deepa’s Secrets: Slow Carb New Indian Cuisine by Deepa Thomas.
In response to her husband’s Type 2 diabetes and her own struggle with weight, Deepa responded with “What if I reinvented Indian food without the carbs”?
So she did, and after six months of cooking and eating “Slow Carb New Indian,” Deepa lost twenty pounds and freed her husband from a ten-year routine of insulin shots. How, you might ask? The secret is in the book, along with the story of her life’s journey and discoveries she made along the way.
While reading the book I was happy it answered many of my own “What ifs?” about healthy eating. Then I read it a second time to highlight and really digest the information. I found Deepa’s research into the latest discoveries on gut health and weight loss fascinating, and how she combined this with Ayurvedic pearls of wisdom and time saving Western cooking techniques very useful.
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” – Ayurvedic Proverb
Deepa reinvented her traditional Indian recipes with ingredients that are health-friendly, nourishing and not dependent on carbohydrates, while still preserving the integrity and flavor of each dish.
One of her secrets is to replace fast (simple) carbohydrates like white rice with slow (complex) ones like barley. To help us understand why this works, Deepa provides clear and simple nutritional information that brings clarity to this subject. The result is that instead of giving you a diet, she is giving you appetizingly healthy choices.
I recently met Deepa at a meet and greet luncheon at Melissa’s Produce. Below are a few of the delicious recipes we sampled from her cookbook.
Zucchini LaSuzy – page 158
Roasted Beets and Shaved Fennel Salad – page 110
Dryfoossels Sprouts – page 144
General Joseph’s Five-Star Chicken Batons – page 176
Meat Lovers’ Indian Chili – page 102
Here are a few recipes I made at home that I also reccomend.
From left to right:
The “Ginger Cabbage Slaw” was delightfully spicy. “Crackling Okra” will convert any proclaimed okra hater in my personal opinion. “Magic Finishing Spice” is guaranteed to brighten every dish. I turned “Mary’s Famous Cutlets” (a.k.a. meatballs) into bite-sized appetizers. I used “Chukku’s Yogurt Salad” as the base and topped the meatballs with sauteed eggplant from the same recipe.
Today’s Recipe: Slow Carb Heritage Barley
This recipe is a perfect example of replacing a fast carb with a slow one. Barley is a whole grain with high fiber and has fewer calories than brown rice or quinoa. It can lower the risk of diabetes, and Deepa says it is the magic dish that allowed her husband to wean himself from rice (fast carb) and improve his health.
Always start with the freshest and best ingredients to ensure the success of any recipe.
I love this colorful dish because it’s delicious, and it leaves you feeling fulfilled rather than full.
Heritage Barley (Better than Rice) Pilaf
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups whole grain barley well-rinsed and drained
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 3 cloves
- 2 cardamom pods
- 2- inch cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil divided
- 1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper rough chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper rough chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper divided
- 1 tablespoon truffle oil optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon toasted pistachio
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add barley, garlic, seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Stir occasionally. Cook to desired consistency (al dente). Barley is very forgiving-just add water as needed. (Approx. 1 hour)
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Add fennel slices in a single layer and cook undisturbed for one minute. Turn over when lightly browned and brown the other side. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat and set aside on a platter.
In the same saute pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and add red and yellow bell peppers. Cook undisturbed over high heat for one to two minutes until lightly charred. Season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Remove from heat and set aside on a platter.
Toss cooked barley with sauteed fennel and bell peppers.
Check seasoning and drizzle with truffle oil, if you're feeling decadent!
Crowning flavor: Top with fresh lemon juice and toasted pistachios.
This beautifully photographed and artistically designed cookbook of 70+ recipes, tips and stories is a must for those are seeking a healthier way of living, cooking, and eating.
Bonus points: Deepa is donating all her royalties from this book to FoodCorps, a nonprofit that connects children to healthy food in American schools. Go, right now, to get yourself a copy!
“I hope my food, your food, gives you great pleasure and good health, and that your healthy choices free you to find, do, be, and feel your best.” – Deepa Thomas
So to Deepa, I say upakaaram. (Thank you, it has been a great favor)
Your book has inspired a new way of thinking and cooking.
…and then, she paused for thought.