Tag Archives: recipes

Quick Lunch Series: Quinoa Bisibele Bath

I’ve been meaning to try this for a while, and finally cooked it this weekend. It is perfect for an office day meal. I do love one pot meals!


I swapped in  Quinoa, instead of rice, as has been the norm lately in my routine.


2/3 cup white Quinoa
1/3 cup Toor dal (Pigeon Pea)
1 small white or yellow onion cut into 1in pieces
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 Chayote squash, peeled and cut into 1in pieces (typically bottle guard is used, but I often substitute with Chayote Squash)
1-2 medium tomatoes, chopped into large pieces
2/3 rd cup tamarind juice
1.5 cups water
1 tsp oil
a dash of turmeric
a dash of asaphoetida
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 dry red chillies
2-3 tsp Bisibele powder, I typically use the MTR variety
2-3 tbsp fresh (or dry) grated coconut
a few curry leaves
cilantro to garnish
coconut slices to garnish
salt to taste
2-3 tbsp ghee (optional)

I like to use a pressure pan to cook this. Heat oil in the pressure pan, add turmeric, asaphoetida, cumin, mustard and dry red chillies and fry for a minute till lightly brown. Add onions, jalapeno,  curry leaves and squash and fry lightly. Add tomatoes and mix well.

Rinse and add Quinoa and toor dal and mix well. Add bisibele bath powder, salt and coconut powder and mix well. Add water and tamarind juice and mix well. Close pressure cooker lid and let simmer on medium low for 2-3 whistles. What makes this dish especially yummy is to add 2-3 tbsp of ghee!


Let cool, before opening the pressure pan. Garnish with cilantro and coconut slices and serve warm.

Makes 3 servings.

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.



From garden to plate

I have two white eggplant, 1 ripe tomato, several jalapeno from my patio garden.

I have two red bell pepper that are still growing and yet to change color.

I have basil, rosemary and parsley.

I have some Mustard greens and Red Sorrel leaves…

Some Italian beans….and tomatoes .. still growing.

Typically I love to cook fresh vegetables from my patio garden without mixing other store bought grocery.


Any recipe recommendations?


Healthy Rava Dosa with Brown Rice Flour

Continuing in my dosa series next up is Rava Dosa. The crisp and crunchy dosa variety is another very popular south Indian breakfast item. Traditionally it is made with Sooji (Cream of wheat), rice flour and maida (all purpose flour). In this healthier version, I have recreated the rava dosa, using brown rice flour and whole wheat flour.

If you are waking up on a Sunday morning and wondering what easy, fast and delicious breakfast you can make then look no further. Provided of course you have the ingredients at hand. With 30 minutes preparation time and as little as  three ingredients this is one healthy breakfast to jumpstart a slow Sunday.

1 cup Sooji (cream of wheat)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 medium onion chopped
1-2 jalapenos chopped fine (optional)
some coriander chopped

Mix all three flour ingredients in a large bowl in approximately 2 cups of water. Use water as needed to make batter that is smooth flowing. Add salt and mix well. Set aside for 30 minutes.

When ready to make the rava dosas, heat a flat pan on medium flame. Grease well with a little oil. Mix in cilantro, onions and jalapeno into the batter. When the pan is sufficiently hot, pour batter onto the pan from a few inches above. Don’t use a spatula or spoon to even out the batter. Don’t worry about the shape of this one. This dosa is usually full of holes and comes out crispy and crunchy.The more holes the more crispy and crunchier the dosa.  Add 1-2 tsp oil around the edges and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook other side adding oil as needed until cooked.

This is so good, you will want to eat the hot rava dosa straight out of the pan!

It can be eaten as is or you can serve it hot with chutney (see Tomato, coconut or peanut) and sambhar on the side.

Smart Lunch Series: Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad

This is one of those super easy to make recipes that is perfect for a weekday office lunch.

You can make it the evening before and stick it in the refrigerator. Eat it chilled or warm up a little on a blustering autumn day!

1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup peas and chopped carrots (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup pinenuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup feta cheese (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil (optional)
some fine chopped fresh basil and parsley to garnish

Bring 1 1/2 cups of  water to boil. Add quinoa, peas, carrots, bay leaf and Italian seasoning and cook on medium low until cooked. Add water as necessary.

Transfer to a large bowl. Add rest of the ingredients before serving. Drizzle some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Optionally add a dash of lemon juice. Sprinkle chopped basil and parsley.

Can add some crushed pepper to pick it up a notch. Add sliced cherry tomatoes. This recipe is very open. So feel free to toss in your favorite vegetables and spices.

Adapted from a recipe from The Clean Eating Mama blog.

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

Variation on Roasted Okra

Okra is one of my favorite vegetables. Being a sticky vegetable the only way I really enjoyed it was when my mother fried it with some onion, salt and red chili powder. But frying requires a lot of oil. Being conscientious of healthy cooking I rarely fry my vegetables these days. I roast them in the oven instead. Although there is something to be said about nicely fried vegetables be it okra or potato!

Similar to the recipe I posted earlier (see here) here is a simple variation from my friend Pavani.

Okra with trimmed edges
1 medium tomato chopped
2-3 garlic cloves minced
salt and red chili powder to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Trim the edges of fresh okra and place in a baking pan. Drizzle some olive oil. Add minced garlic and tomato. Sprinkle salt and red chili powder. Mix lightly. Bake for 45-60 min until cooked and lightly brown. Enjoy with roti or rice or as a side.

Book Review: White Jacket Required

Review a cookbook? Not really. But White Jacket Required is not really a cookbook. At least not a full blown recipe book. Although it does contain recipes. There are anywhere from one to 4 recipes per chapter. From the book description, as listed on Amazon:

White Jacket Required is a coming of age story of it’s author, Jenna Weber. The story follows the ups and downs of the author as she confronts the rigors of training, gets her first job, deals with a family crisis and enters into a love affair.

I stumbled on the PBS Fresh Tastes food blog a few months ago, since I rediscovered my passion for cooking and baking. Since then I have been an avid follower of both Jenna Weber of Eat, Live, Run and Marc Matsumoto of The Wandering Cook.

Visiting Eat, Live, Run is a daily routine for me as I scour the web for fresh new ideas and recipes. I am happy to state that I have successfully cooked many of her recipes (baring the Oatmeal Sandwich Bread which I definitely intend to retry again soon and succeed!). As with my passion for cooking,  I recently have resumed my passion for reading and writing. So it should come as no surprise that I decided to read White Jacket Required. And no surprise at all that I should wish to write a review. After all, what better way to improve my writing style, but by reviewing and critiquing a book?

Let me be be frank and state that it was a slow start. I read a few chapters and set it aside for a while and resumed reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which interestingly re-engaged my enthusiasm for the the classics. After a hiatus of almost a week, with time on my hand, I resumed reading White Jacket Required again.

The book is an autobiography by Jenna Weber as she embarks on her pursuit of a culinary degree at Le Cordon Bleu  College in Florida. The first half of this autobiographical account is dry and insipid.  The narrative runs through the routine of daily life as she progresses in her pursuit of a culinary degree with the ultimate goal to become a food  writer. It talks about her travails as she adjusts to the program, and the usual melange of emotions of uncertainty, elation and indecision that dominate the pursuit of her dreams.

It is unfortunate that it is a tragedy that awakens the author and narrative shows greater emotion and conflict.  The second half picks up on a firmer ground as the author comes to terms with an irreparable loss and plucks some courage to take bold new actions. The narrative ends abruptly and we are left to wonder what the future holds for the author.

I thoroughly enjoy reading Jenna’s blog. She portrays a sense of humor and I have enjoyed cooking many of her recipes. So White Jacket Required was less than satisfying read.

I did make the Greek Salad recipe from the book which you can find here

Refreshing Greek Salad

This recipe is adapted from the White Jacket Required book by Jenna Weber of Eat Live Run.

1/2 cucumber peeled and chopped
1/4 red onion sliced
6-8 kalamata olives
4-6 artichoke hearts
cherry tomatoes sliced
2-3 basil leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste
1-2 cups spinach (optional)

Mix all ingredients except the spinach. Set aside in the refrigerator for an hour to chill and marinate.

Serve on a bed of spinach. Refreshing!