Tag Archives: entre

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



Cucumber Melon (Dosakaya)

Is an oval, sometimes stripped, tart melon that is popular in South India. This is not to be confused with the slightly sweet, yellow melon found in Asian groceries. It belongs to the cucumber family, and hence is a low calorie food that is packed with nutrients in the form of water or electrolytes.


Three main recipes, that my mother loved to make are: dal, pickle or chutney. Although there are many others out there. In fact you can even dry the seeds and ground to a powder along with other spices and an enjoy with rice or as seasoning!

To make pickle is easy…

1 cucumber melon
2-3 tbsp red ground chilli powder
2-3 tbsp oil
1-2 tbsp mustard powder
Salt to taste

dosakayaRinse and chop the cucumber into half. Remove the pulp and seeds and discard. Slice the cucumber into thin 1/2 inch slices. Add oil, red chilli powder, mustard powder and salt and mix well.

Store in air tight container.  Note can form fungi, if salt is less. Refrigerate to preserve for a longer time period. Serve with some warm rice!


dosakaya2To make dal…

1 cucumber melon
1 cup Toor Dal
1 garlic, peeled and sliced

1 tsp oil
1 tsp channa dal
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/s tsp fenugreek seeds
2-3 dry red chilli
1-2 sliced jalapeno
a dash of turmeric
a dash of asafoetida
a few curry leaves

Cook the dal in 2 cups water stove-top or in a pressure cooker.

Heat the oil, add turmeric, and asafoetida.Add sliced garlic and fry till golden.  Add all seasoning ingredients except jalapeno and curry leaves. Lightly fry till golden. Add jalapeno and curry leaves and fry for a minute. Add cucumber melon and fry for a few seconds.

Add some water and cook in medium low, until it softens. Add some tamarind juice and bring to a boil. Add some red chilli powder and mix well.

Garnish with some cilantro and serve warm with rice 🙂





Curried Ratatouille

Lately, I have been obsessing about ratatouille. There are so many different versions out there. They combine all my favorite vegetables.


So colorful. So flavorful. So tasty.

I found a few, that I wanted to try. Here’s another variation of the Ratatouille that I tried recently, adapted from Marc Matsumoto’s  recipe. He has at least three different variations.

And there is at least one other recipe from him that I want to try 🙂


1 small eggplant, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
1 red bell pepper, cubed
4 medium tomatoes, cubed
2 onions cubed ( or I used 1 bunch green onions chopped)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1-2 serrano or jalapeno peppers
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch ginger, grated
5 cloves

cr1Heat the oil in  a large pan. Add cumin, cloves and mustard and fry till they start to pop. Add ginger and garlic and fry till golden on medium flame. Add onions, jalapeno peppers and salt fry till the onions start to brown .

Add eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes. Add turmeric and garam masala and mix well. Reduce flame to medium low, cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove lid and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes till the moisture evaporates.

Can be made quickly. And perfect for a work day meal!

Beware, it is spicy. You might want to adjust the spices for a milder version!

cr3See Also:

Chickpea Ratatouille

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 🙂

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!

Eggplant Chutney South Indian Style

This was a constant in my home. You can stick a well greased eggplant on a gas burning stove. I have done this before. Of course my mother loved to roast the eggplant stove top. She even gave me a mesh frame to roast the eggplant. But with six highly sensitive smoke alarms, all hard-wired and interconnected, waiting to set-off any moment, I am less inclined to roast the eggplant stove top. Even a little smoke can set off my smoke alarms. Instead, I prefer to use my oven very, very carefully, with doors and windows open, and with exhaust running high.


1 large eggplant or 2 small japanese eggplant
some tamarind juice

1 tsp channa dal
1 tsp ural dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chilli
1 jalapeno
some tamarind juice
a few curry leaves
some chopped cilantro
salt to taste
sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.


Wash eggplant, dry and lightly grease with some olive oil. Bake in the over for about 45 minutes. Periodically rotate the eggplant to enable even roasting.

Cool the roasted eggplant. Peel and extract the pulp. Mash with a spatula.

Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp oil in  a pan. Add turmeric, asafoetida, channa dal, urad dal, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and dry red chillies. Fry for a minute or two till golden. Add curry leaves and sliced jalapeno and fry for another minute. Add to the roasted eggplant pulp.


Add 1-2 tbsp thick tamarind juice. Add salt to taste and chopped cilantro and mix well. Can add some sugar (optional). Serve with some warm rice. Enjoy!

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.

Aloo (Potato) Stuffed Roti

Roti (Indian bread) is a staple food of North India. But it is eaten throughout other parts as well. There are many different types of roti from plain to stuffed to oven baked to deep fried. When making stuffed version there are different options for the stuffing. The most commonly used are: potato, cauliflower, fenugreek leaves, and paneer (home made cheese).

1 cups atta (flour)
1 medium potato
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp amchur (mango powder)
chopped cilantro
touch of cayenne pepper
salt to taste

Mix the flour with salt and approximately 1 cup water to make dough. Add 1-2 tsp oil and knead for 1-2 minutes. Cover and set aside.

Cook the potatoes with the skin. Peel and mash the potatoes. Add amchur, cumin seeds, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, salt and chopped cilantro and mix well.

To make the roti, divide the dough into 4 parts. Using both hands smooth each part into a ball. Press the ball of dough into flour to prevent sticking and roll out into a circle using a rolling pin on a flat surface or rolling board. Place 1-2 tsp of stuffing. Fold over the rolled out roti to form a ball again. Press the ball with the joined side down into more flour. Roll it again into a circle with a rolling pin.

Meanwhile place a flat frying pan on medium heat. Once the pan is hot enough, place the roti on the pan. Add 1-2 tsp oil and cook until lightly brown. Flip and cook other side adding oil as necessary.

Serve hot with a cup of fresh home made yogurt. I also like to add some lemon pickle. Delicious!