Category Archives: entre

Chickpea Ratatouille

I had picked up some Eggplant this week to make some Ratatouille. The recipe in the 21 day Tummy Diet was the Ratatouille Frittata which I was reluctant to make. I scoured several of my favorite food blogs (Eat, Live, Run being one of them) for something different. I had this vague idea of roasted eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes… and then I found one that was just perfect here. Here is my version with very slight changes.

1 medium eggplant cut into chunks
1 zucchini cut into chunks
1 yellow onion cut into chunks
2 bell pepper cut into chunks (I used 1 green and 1 yellow)
2 medium tomatoes cut into chunks (or used 1 can)
5 garlic cloves chopped
0.5 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 can chickpeas (drained and washed)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper
a little lemon juice (optional)
dash of paprika (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the first 6 ingredients in olive oil, salt and pepper in a large oven safe dish. Roast for 40-45 minutes, mixing halfway through. Add chickpeas, and fresh parsley, toss lightly and continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes.

IMG_4051Remove from oven and serve warm. Drizzle a little lemon juice, add salt and pepper as needed. Serve stand alone or with some brown rice couscous. Makes about 4-5 servings.


Stuffed Eggplant

This is loosely adapted from the 21 day Tummy diet. While the original recipe uses ground beef, this is a vegetarian version.


1 Japanese eggplant
1/2 cup quinoa (I used rainbow quinoa)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 medium tomato chopped
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp olive oil
Touch of turmeric
Salt to taste
cilantro to garnish

StuffedEggplant1Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the eggplant in half. Using a paring knife, scoop out the eggplant pulp, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Place the eggplant with the cut side down in a baking pan. Add 1/2 cup water and bake for 15 minutes or until the eggplant softens.

StuffedEggplant2Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Add a dash of turmeric. Chop and add the eggplant pulp and fry for a minute. Add chopped tomato and peas and continue frying for another minute. Add 1.5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce flame, add 1/2 cup quinoa, cumin and garam masala and let simmer for 25-30 minutes or until cooked.

StuffedEggplant3Scoop the quinoa mix onto the eggplant and bake for 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm.The stuffing is sufficient for 2-3 eggplants or use as a side.

StuffedEggplant4Turned out quite tasty, although if I were to make this again, I would definitely season the eggplant with some salt and maybe paprika. But definitely a delicious, diet based, main dish ūüôā

Pumpkin Cooked Two Ways South Indian Style

There was an unwritten rule my mother followed and I seem to have picked it up along the way…

Whenever she cooked a pulusu without dal (or lentils), she always cooked a curry or kura with lentils. A pulusu is a South Indian (from Andhra Pradesh) dish which is cooked with tamarind juice or yogurt to name a few. Being vegetarian, we relied heavily on lentils for our protein, so it makes sense that the kura was cooked with lentils.


Pumpkin Kura:
1/2 a small pumpkin
1 cup channa dal
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp channa dal for seasoning
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chilli peppers
1 jalapeno sliced
curry leaves (optional)
chopped cilantro to garnish
pinch of turmeric
pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste
1-2 tsp oil

I usually like to cook my channa dal and chopped pumpkin  in a pressure cooker. But it should be easy enough to cook on stove top. Rinse, and chop half the pumpkin into 1 in cubes. Rinse and wash 1 cup channa dal. Cook the pumpkin and channa dal in 2 cups of water, adding more as needed or cook in a pressure cooker.


In a large pan, heat 1-2 tsp of oil. Add turmeric, asafoetida, channa dal, urad dal, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and dry red chillies. Fry till lightly golden. Add curry leaves and sliced jalapeno and fry for a few seconds. Add the cooked pumpkin and channa dal, salt to taste and continue cooking till all the moisture evaporates. Garnish with some chopped cilantro.

Pumkin pulusu
1/2 small pumpkin
1/2 medium onion
1/4 small bottlegourd
1 small sweet potato
1 roma tomato
1tsp urad dal
1 tsp channa dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chillies
1 jalapeno sliced
a few curry leaves
1-2 tbsp jaggery powder ( 2 1 inch cubes or as desired)
1 cup tamarind juice or as desired
1 tbsp white rice powder
salt to taste
chopped cilantro to garnish
I usually like to chop my vegetables into 1in cubes and pressure cook, but you can also cook stove top with some water. I add onion, bottlegourd, sweet potato, and pumpkin and pressure cook.


Meanwhile, heat a large pan with a little oil. Add turmeric, asafoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, channa dal, urad dal, red chillies and fry till lightly brown. Add curry leaves, sliced jalapeno, and fry lightly. Add cooked vegetables, tamarind juice, jaggary and continue boiling. Mix white rice flour in a bowl with some water and add to the mix. Add some chopped tomato and continue cooking for 10-20 minutes in low flame. Add salt to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro.


Serve both with some warm rice. Enjoy!

Roasted Tindora (Ivy Gourd)

Ivy Gourd (or Tindora or Dondakayyi) is a tropical vine that is indigenous to Africa and Asia. It is rich in beta-carotine. It is very easy to cook. The two most common recipes that my mother liked to make were either the tindora fry or steamed tindora curry. A third alternative occasionally was to make chutney when the tindora was too ripe to make curry.


I rarely make tindora fry, so often I end up steaming the tindora and lightly sauteing with some onion and spices. Frying not only takes too much oil, but also to fry the vegetable to the right crispiness without burning requires patience. Many a time, I have seen my mother  patiently standing by the stove, frequently mixing with a spatula, to preventing burning.


Here’s an alternate way to cook the tindora that does not need the constant attention and also uses less oil.

2 lbs tindora
1 medium onion
1/2 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp red chilli powder
salt to taste
olive oil


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse and trim the edges of the timdora. Halve or quarter the tindora based on thickness of the tindora and place in a baking dish. Peel and slice the onion, and add to the tindora. Generously drizzle with olive oil. Add turmeric, chilli powder and salt to taste. Gently toss the ingredients.


Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half. Halfway through remove from the oven and toss and return back to the oven.


Serve warm with rice or roti.

Farro with Fennel, Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash

My friend recently emailed a picture of lunch she was having at a cafe in NY of farro with fennel, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, frisee, and potatoes. It looked delectable and my friend said it was delicious. I was intrigued by the ingredients. I have never used either fennel or frisee in my cooking. Since discovering farro a little while ago I have only cooked it once before (see Mediterranean Spinach Farro salad).


I forget to buy some frisee but instead I substituted with radicchio which is another vegetable I have never used¬†directly¬†in my cooking. I made this with strict portion control in mind and low caloric value, so feel free to adapt to personal preference. It turned out pretty good for a one pot meal. ¬†Here’s how I made it:

1/2 cup farro
2-3 Brussels sprouts sliced thin
1/8 radicchio sliced thin
1/8 fennel sliced thin
1/8 butternut squash cut into cubes
1 garlic clove minced
1 shallot sliced
1 small potato cut into cubes
1 tsp butter
salt and fresh ground pepper


Bring 1 cup water to boil. Rinse and add the farro and cook on medium low until the farro is cooked and all the water evaporates. About 20 minutes.

In a separate pan heat the butter. Add the vegetables and light fry for a few minutes. Add salt and fresh ground pepper. Add the farro and some water and continue cooking for another 10 minutes until the vegetables soften and the water evaporates. Serve warm. Makes 2 servings.


Chimichurri Brown Rice

I. Just. Absolutely. Love. Trader Joes Chimichurri Rice.¬†I always have a bag of the frozen Chimichurri rice handy in my freezer ¬†for days when I crave rice and don’t want to cook.

If you have never tried it. Stop now and rush to your nearest Trader Joes.

But wait maybe you want to try this recipe. I have made it many times in the past but this is the closest I have come to the taste of the Trader Joes one. This time rather than make the chimichurri sauce from scratch I used dry chimichurri mix I found in World Market.

1 cup brown basmati rice (or white)
1/2 cup peas
1 chopped carrot
1 small onion chopped
3-4 garlic cloves minced
2 tomatoes chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1-2 tbsp cream (can use sour cream)
some chopped cilantro (optional)
Some chopped parsley (optional)
some red pepper flakes (optional)

2 tsp chimichurri mix
2 tsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Rinse and soak the rice for 30 minutes to an hour. Precook 1 cup of rice with 2 cups water. If using white rice you should be okay cooking it later with the vegetables. Brown rice is harder to cook and takes longer so I decided to pre-cook it.

Add 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter  to a pan on medium low heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add chopped carrots and peas and continue flying for 5 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and continue frying for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile whisk 1-2 tsp of chimichurri mix with oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Add to the vegetables, salt to taste and some red pepper flakes and continue cooking. Add cream and chopped cilantro and parsley and continue cooking until most of the moisture evaporates. Add rice and mix well. Let simmer for a few more minutes on low heat so the flavors infuse well.

Garnish with a little chopped cilantro and parsley and serve hot.

Mango Rice

This is one of my all time favorites! When raw green mangoes are in season this is a perfect item to add to your lunch menu or even breakfast. In fact this is so good that you can eat it any time of the day. There are two key ingredients: Rice and Mango. There are many different alternatives to how you can make this dish:

  • Rice can be substituted with vermicelli, poha, or ground rice
  • Mango can be substituted with lemon juice, tamarind juice, or grapefruit juice

But mango is ultimately the best choice!

1 cup of rice (sona masuri or basmati)
1 raw green mango

1/4 cup cashews and/ or peanuts
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chana dal (split yellow gram)
1 tsp urad dal (de-husked split black gram)
3-4 whole dry red chilli
1 tsp turmeric powder
pinch of asaforetida
salt to taste
1 jalapeno sliced (optional)
few curry leaves
1 tbsp oil

Cook the rice in two cups of water until cooked. The rice should be cooked but firm not sticky. Set aside.

Chop the mango into pieces. Process in a food processor into a puree.

Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add all the seasoning ingredients except the jalapeno and curry leaves and fry till lightly brown. Add the sliced jalapeno and curry leaves and continue frying for 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the rice to a large bowl. Add the mango puree and fried seasoning. Add salt and mix thoroughly.

Refreshing and so yummy you will want to try this immediately!

See Also:
Mango Vermicelli

Toasted Quinoa with Red Kidney Bean & Vegetables

1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup red kidney beans (cooked or canned)
1/2 cup orange or grapefruit juice
1/2 zucchini quartered and sliced
1 scallion slices
1 tsp fresh thyme
t tsp minced ginger
1/2 cup sliced bell peppers
6-8 cherry tomatoes sliced
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
some grapefruit or orange wedges (optional)

Lightly toast the quinoa in a pan. Add 1 cup of water, orange or grapefruit juice, salt and cook the quinoa.

Meanwhile coat a large nonstick skillet with some cooking spray. Cook zucchini, scallions, ginger, tomatoes, thyme and  bell peppers. Stir in the quinoa and the cooked (or canned) red kidney beans. Stir in vinegar. Can season with some fresh ground black pepper. Top with orange or grapefruit wedges (optional)

Adapted from a recipe from Prevention Magazine. Replaced Shrimp with Red Kidney Beans.

Bird’s Nest

Autumn season always brings forth a slew of squashes and pumpkins on display in the grocery isles. Acorn, Autumn, Butternut, Gold nugget, Buttercup, Carnival, Kabocha, Spaghetti, Turban. So many varieties. Bright orange, yellow, green, amber, gold or white. Vibrant colors that beckon you to pick them up.

I discovered spaghetti squash a year or two ago and have enjoyed trying out new ways to cook with it. It’s been a while since I cooked it so I grabbed some this week at the grocery. My best experiment with it so far has been spicy spaghetti squash with black beans.

Seeing scooped out spaghetti squash always reminds me of a bird’s nest. So I decided to try this one. I made this up as I went and it turned out spicy and delicious. Adjust spices per personal preference. Here’s what I used.

1/2 zucchini chopped
1 cup tri-color bell peppers chopped
1 scallion or 1/2 red onion sliced
8-10 cherry tomatoes sliced
1 jalapeno chopped
2-3 garlic cloves chopped fine
1-2 tbsp capers
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
dash of lemon juice
crushed red pepper
1 small spaghetti squash

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a pan. Add chopped onion and garlic and fry till lightly brown. Add rest of vegetables, salt and peppers and continue frying until cooked. Add dash of lemon juice and capers and continue frying for another 5 minutes.

Using a fork scoop out the spaghetti squash and arrange on a plate like a birds nest with a hollow in the center. Add the sauteed vegetables and enjoy with a roll of bread. Makes 2 servings. Yummy!

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name right?

Brinjal, Eggplant, Aubergine or guinea squash! Although I must say the use of Aubergine is not as common as Brinjal or Eggplant.

Eggplant was a favorite vegetable in our house and my mother made the best eggplant curry there was. ¬†It usually was extremely spicy. Not that it stopped us from eating it!¬†Growing up, I always thought eggplant was not good for brain power. So though I loved it, I ate it less¬†enthusiastically¬†for I assumed it was somehow going to reduce my “intelligence” ūüôā Turns out actually that my original source of information was misguided.

I tend to cook eggplant very frequently. In addition to all my mother’s favorite recipes, I am always on the lookout for easy, healthy ways to cook eggplant. ¬†So it was nice to find a different recipe that proved delicious as well.This recipe for Sri Lankan Aubergine Curry came to me via my friend Pavani. In contrast with the original recipe, my adapted version is a healthier version: I roasted my eggplant in the oven as opposed to deep frying in oil as called for in the original recipe. I did skip the vinegar and sugar as well.

1 medium to large Japanese eggplant
1 medium onion chopped
3-4 garlic cloves chopped
a piece ginger chopped
1-2 jalapeno chopped
some curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/3 cup coconut milk
2-3 tbsp olive oil
pinch of turmeric
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop eggplant into 1 in pieces and layout on a parchment or pan. Drizzle some olive oil and bake for 30-40 minutes. After 20-25 minutes use a spatula to rotate the eggplant to allow even roasting.

Meanwhile heat a little oil in a pan. Add turmeric and cumin seeds and fry till lightly brown. Add curry leaves, onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeno and fry till lightly brown. Add salt and spices. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the roasted eggplant and cook till most of the liquid is evaporated.

Serve hot with some basmati rice or naan or roti. Can garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

See also:
Eggplant Caviar
Eggplant Curry