Tag Archives: curry

Fun with Amaranth

Amaranth leaves are found  in abundance in the Tropics and growing up, I loved dal, tamarind stews, and yogurt stews made with them. It was only a few years ago, I started to use Amaranth grain or flour.


Amaranth is not really a grain, but a seed. It is highly nutritious, packed with protein, vitamins and minerals.


Here are some delicious recipes with this seed, flour or leaves that I posted previously:

Amaranth Grain Uttappam


Amaranth Leaves cooked two ways


Amaranth Dosa


Amaranth Orange Cardamon Loaf

Amaranth Pumpkin Loaf

Amaranth Upma

The last few years I have been trying to grow Amaranth and Red Sorrel leaves in my patio garden, and it is challenging as well as highly rewarding!


Patio Garden: Slow & Steady
Amaranth Plant
Amaranth Grain Nutrition
Health Benefits of Amaranth

Best of 2015

I had a lot of fun in 2015 trying new recipes from around the world. There are many keepers in the list that i cooked over and over again, and I expect, will continue to do so.

Here are some of my most favorite recipes…



Baked Bajji

Baked Vada



Quinoa Dosa

One-pot Mexican Quinoa

Mango Poha

Quinoa Vangi Bath

Cranberry Poha



Cauliflower, Kale, Chickpea  Curry Pot

Black-Eyed Peas and Greens with Navrattan Spices



Anise Flavored Kumquat Marmalade



Sun-dried Tomato and Jalapeno Hummus



Edamame and Zucchini Wraps



Zucchini and Yellow Tomato Gratin

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowl



Pumpkin Payasam

Cherry Swirl with Dark Chocolate & Cherry Bits




Farro and Sun-dried Tomato Foccacia

Cherry and Cardamon Cake

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

Airplane Cookies



Watermelon Cooler



Tomato in Yogurt Sauce

Eggplant Curry with Onion



Cherry and Avocado Salad



Honey and Sriracha Roasted Brussels Sprouts



Vibrant Beets Soup

Mediterranean Grain Soup



Amaranth Upma

Amaranth Dosa

Spicy Chickpea and Brussels Sprouts Soup

Valor Papdi Bean

Baked Bajji

Edamame and Zucchini Wraps

Quinoa Upma

Mango Carrot Muffins



Sweet and Sour Bittergourd Stew

Bitter gourd, or bitter melon, or bitter squash is indigenous to tropical or sub-tropical climates. It’s bitter taste makes it a perfect cleansing agent. It is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. The bitterness might be a deterrent in it’s consumption. My mother cooked it two ways: Sweet and Sour Stew and Fry.

bg4Owing to the bitterness, I could never eat the fry, but the sweet and sour stew was always my favorite.


2 bitter gourd, chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 cup tamarind juice
2-3 blocks of jaggery
1-2 tbsp rice flour
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp channa dal
1 tsp urad dal
1-2 dry red chilli
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
touch of turmeric
touch of asafoetida
a few curry leaves
chopped cilantro for garnish

bg1In a pan, heat some oil. Add turmeric, asafoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, dry red chillies, urad dal, and channa dal. Fry till lightly golden. Add sliced jalapeno and curry leaves and fry lightly. Add chopped bitter gourd and onion and fry till the onion turn translucent.

bg2Add about 1 cup tamarind juice (or as desired). Add 1-2 cubes of jaggery to sweeten the stew. Bring to a boil. Let simmer on medium low until cooked.

bg3Add rice flour to a little water. Mix well and add to the stew. Let simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt. Garnish with some chopped cilantro and serve warm with some rice and dal.bg4We always ate our stew with some dal!

See also:

Snake Gourd and Moong Dal
Pumpkin and Channa Dal

Amaranth leaves cooked two ways

Like most green leafy vegetables, Amaranth leaves are rich in vitamins (A & C) and minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium and folate. They can be commonly found in tropical and warm temperate regions of the world and go by different names depending on region. In Andhra Pradesh  they are commonly known as Thotakura. Unlike Red Sorrel (Gongura) leaves, Amaranth leaves don’t have a tart flavor.  We most commonly made dal or pulusu (a tangy stew with tamarind juice).


For the dal:
1/2 bunch amaranth leaves
1 cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
2-3 tbsp tamerind juice
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced (if large)
1 jalapeno sliced
a few curry leaves
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chili
pinch of turmeric
pinch of asafoetida
cilantro to garnish

al2Stew Ingredients:
1/2 bunch amaranth leaves
1/2 small bottle gourd peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
a few curry leaves
1 tbsp sesame seeds (or powder)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp rice flour
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chili
1tsp urad dal
a pinch of turmeric
a pinch of asafoetida

To make the dal, cook toor dal with two cups of water in a bowl stove top or typically I cook mine in a pressure cooker.  Add half chopped amaranth leaves to a large pan, add some water and cook on medium for about 10 minutes, until the leaves wilt and cook. Lightly mash the cooked toor dal with a spatula and add to the bowl containing the amaranth leaves. Add 2-3 tbsp tamarind juice, salt and chili powder  and mix well. Reduce flame and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a pan heat oil. Add turmeric, asafoetida, mustard and cumin seeds, red chilies, and sliced garlic and fry till lightly golden. Add curry leaves and sliced jalapeno and continue frying for another 3-4 minutes.

al1JPGTransfer to the dal bowl. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

To make the stew, cook amaranth leaves and chopped bottle gourd with some water in a bowl, until cooked. About 10-15 minutes. Add about 1 cup tamarind juice and mix well. Add salt and red chili powder and mix well. Let simmer on medium low for about 15-20 minutes. In a small bowl  mix 2 tsp rice flour with some water and transfer the mix to the stew. This helps coagulate the stew. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a pan. Add tumeric, asafoetida, sliced garlic, cumin and mustard seeds, urad dal and red chilies and fry till lightly golden. Add sliced jalapeno and curry leaves and fry for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to the stew bowl and mix well.

al4Lightly toast sesame seeds till lightly golden. Grind to powder and add to the stew. Can used mustard powder instead of sesame. Mix well, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm with some rice. We typically ate the stew with some snake gourd cooked with moong dal  or bottle gourd cooked with toor dal or pumpkin and chana dal or something similar.



Quick Lunch Series: Cabbage Thai Curry with Brown Rice

Cabbage is such a bland vegetable, that I am constantly looking for new recipes. As I scoured for new ways to cook cabbage this weekend, I came across this one. It seemed perfect for that office day meal with some brown rice, making it hearty, healthy, spicy and most importantly, fulfilling!


1/2 green cabbage cut into chunks
1 onion chopped into chunks
1 green pepper cut into chunks
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes sliced
2 lemon grass stalks
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 inch ginger chopped
some fresh basil chopped
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp red curry
1-2 tbsp Thai red chilli oil (option) or use fish oil
Salt to taste
1-2 tsp brown sugar

cab1Combine all ingredients except the tomatoes, and the basil and bring to a boil. Cook for 10-20 minutes until the cabbage softens.

cab2Add sliced tomatoes and basil. Add fish oil or thai red chilli oil as per preference. Cook for another 5 minutes.

cab3Serve warm with some Jasmine rice (white or brown).


Aloo Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower)

My memories of this curry are from elementary school. My best friend, used to get this for lunch. Her mom used to send over piping hot food, daily during lunch time. Aloo Gobi wrapped in fresh home made roti was always my favorite. When I think of Aloo Gobi, my mind goes back to that memory and those days. Over the years, I have tried to refine my recipe to the taste I remember from those days. Here is how I make it…


1 cauliflower head separated into florets
2-3 potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 tsp tumeric
1-2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)
1/4 tsp red chili powder (optional)
salt to taste
cilantro to garnish

Place a large pan on medium low. Add oil, turmeric and cumin seeds. Fry for a minute until the cumin seeds turn slightly brown. Rinse and add cauliflower florets and potato.  Add salt and mix well.

Usually the water from the rinsed vegetables is sufficient for the cooking if not sprinkle a few droplets of water. Close the lid and allow to cook, mixing occasionally to preventing sticking.

Once the cauliflower softens, in 10 minutes or so, add the spices. Adjust the spices to personal preference. Mix well. Garnish with cilantro and serve with warm roti. Can also be eaten with rice.


Chickpeas with Spinach (Chole)

Chole is a very popular North Indian dish that is usually a very spicy curry made from chickpeas (channa). It is usually paired with bhature (fried bread). Chole can also be eaten with naan, roti and other types of bread and even with basmathi rice. There are many different ways to cook it. Traditionally it is cooked with onions and tomatoes and steeped in spices such as amchur (mango powder), anardhana (pomegrante powder) and garam masala.

1 cup dry chickpeas (or use canned)
1-2 cups of chopped spinach
1 medium white or yellow onion chopped
1 medium tomato chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp amchur (mango powder)
1/4 tsp red chili powder (optional)
pinch of turmeric
salt to taste
cilantro to garnish

If using raw beans, soak in water for 12 to 24 hrs. Boil the chickpeas in 2 cups of water until cooked. I usually prefer to cook them in a pressure cooker. Set aside.

Using a mini chopper or a mortar and pestle grind the garlic and ginger to a paste.

Heat a little oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and turmeric. Once the cumin seeds turn lightly brown add chopped onion and ginger-garlic paste and fry till lightly brown. Add chopped spinach and tomato and continue cooking for 5 min. Add the spices and salt to taste. Add the cooked chickpeas along with any left over water. Add more water as necessary and continue cooking on medium low flame for another 20 minutes until all the spices are infused and all the vegetables are cooked and soften.

Garnish with some cilantro and serve hot with bhature, roti, naan or basmati rice.

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” 🙂 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

Pav Bhaji

3 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
1-2 carrots chopped fine
a few beans chopped fine
1 cup peas
some cauliflower florets cut small (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
touch of turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chilli powder
tsp cumin powder
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)
salt to taste
chopped cilantro
2-3 tbsp oil (canola or olive)

Cook whole potatoes in water until they soften. Peel and set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan on the stove. Add turmeric, and cumin seeds and fry till lightly brown. Add chopped onion and garlic and fry till lightly brown. Add beans, carrots, cauliflower and peas and continue frying for 5-10 minutes. Smash the potato and add to the pan. Add the spices and mix well. Add some water and cook on medium low flame till the vegetables soften and aroma of the spices is fragrant. Add water as necessary. The final product should be lightly moist. Mash with spatula or blender.

Chop some cilantro and add.Mix thoroughly and continue cooking for 5 more minutes and remove from flame.

Warm a frying pan. Add a table spoon of butter and toast hamburger buns till lightly brown. Remove from flame. Top the pav (bread)  with the bajji (curry). Enjoy it warm.

Don’t throw that skin away

There are some vegetables out there that are refreshing, tasty and exude flavors both inside and outside. You peel and chop them, toss them in your cooking and the final product smells and tastes delicious. The vegetable stands out among the rest of the ingredients. You bite into it and you feel the warmth of it.

While there are many such vegetables, the one I am talking about here is bottle gourd (aka long melon or oko squash). It is a versatile vegetable, one that has many uses in cooking. Boil, season and sprinkle some coconut or sesame powder or mustard powder. Cook in milk with some sugar and season. Toss in dal or cook in curd or green leafy vegetable or make sweet curry like stew with mixed vegetables and many more.

Growing up I watched my mother do this often. It’s interesting how it all comes back to you when you start to cook. Most of my South Indian cooking is based on what I watched my mother do. So patiently peeling this, chopping that and especially the laborious task of chopping and making pickles, plucking leaves from stalks of sorrel leaves and so much more. All that seemed so cumbersome and difficult then. But the end product always delicious. Cooking was a labor of love for my mother. But most of her recipes are etched in her brain. Now I cling to those  memories of when I watched her cook, as I try to cook as close to the tastes and flavors I can remember.

Each time I cook bottle gourd I end up making three different dishes. I peel and chop the bottle gourd into 1-2in squares and toss them into samhbhar, sweet pulusu (curry like stew) or challa pulusu (yogurt based stew). I chop it into smaller pieces and cook with yellow gram (pesara pappu) or with coconut or sesame. And those nice, green skin that I peel? Well don’t throw them out yet.  I wash and dry them out in paper towels and make chutney with it.  Here’s how I make mine based on the recollection I have of how my mother makes it:

Peel of 1 bottle gourd
1 tsp tamarind paste
a little jaggery or sugar
salt to taste
1 jalapeno (optional)

4-6 red chili
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black gram (urad dal)
pinch of turmeric
pinch of asafoetida
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Heat one table spoon oil in a pan and fry the seasoning ingredients till lightly brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add more oil. Add the peeled bottle gourd skin and salt and fry in medium low flame till cooked and turns slightly brownish. Remove from pan and transfer to a blender. Add the fried whole red chilli, tamarind and jaggery. Add jalapeno and cilantro and blend with a little water to a smooth paste.

Transfer from blender to a bowl and mix the rest of the seasoning ingredients. Stays upto a week or 10 days in the refrigerator. Can be used as side with Roti or eaten with rice.