Wednesday, September 21, 2016

High Protein Moong Idlis with Bell Pepper Chutney

I used to always be nervous about making Idlis. I never thought I could actually work with the proportions of the various grains to make Idlis a perfect dinner time delight. After a great tip from my MIL, I was able to get the ratios for the two dals and rice just perfect and now I make light, fluffy and protein rich Idlis for dinner often. Fermenting the batter is key and a combination of the oven with the light on (8 hours) and room temperature (daytime 4 hours) works really well! A good food processor is equally important to grind the soaked grains into a very fine batter. I use a Vitamix blender.

A nice red bell pepper chutney completes the meal. You can spice up the chutney with whole red chilies if you want or make it mild with the addition of ground black pepper. Serve with a nice salad on the side.

1/2 cup split urad dal (black gram), washed
1/2 cup split moong dal, washed
1/2 cup sona masoori rice, washed
1/4 tsp fenugreek powder
Salt to taste

Soak the pulses and rice in warm water for about 4 hours. The water should be just enough to cover the ingredients. A lot of the water will be absorbed in the soaking process, re-hydrate if necessary. Grind all the ingredients into a smooth batter post soaking and add fenugreek powder and salt to taste to the batter. Cover with a lid that has a hole to allow for air circulation in the pot and ferment over 10-12 hours, the batter should rise as seen in the pictures I show below. Mix well post fermentation and refrigerate until ready to use. The batter keeps well in the refrigerator for about 4 days.

For the chutney, you will need:

2 red bell peers, washed, chopped
 20 curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Asafoetida
1 small onion, chopped
1/t tsp sambar masala (
2 tsp oil (peanut, rice bran, canola)
1 whole red chili, optional

Sputter the mustard seeds in the oil in a sauce pan. Add the onions and curry leaves with the Asafoetida. Saute and add the bell peers and sambar powder. Cook covered until the bell peppers are just cooked. Add salt to taste, cool, blend and serve with the warm Idlis! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Avocado and sprouted green mung bean salad

A high protein salad for weekend brunches. Serve with Pita bread and soup for a full meal!

You will need sprouted mung beans, lightly steamed: To sprout mung beans, soak a cupful overnight in water, and then place them is a strainer lined with a wet cheese cloth. Cover the mung beans with the cheese cloth and let them sprout over the next eight hours or so.

Date and Tamarind spread/chutney: Easily made at home. Soak pitted chopped dates and pitted tamarind in a ratio of 10 dates to a small piece of tamarind in a saucepan with water. Cook, on medium heat, and simmer until a thick slush of dates and tamarind is left behind in the saucepan. Add some jaggery or brown sugar to taste (you won't need much, since the dates are sweet), rock salt, cumin powder and chili powder to taste. Strain the slush and voila! The spread is ready. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Multi-grain crackers made with Pita bread
1 large avocado, chopped
Chopped, seeded tomatoes
1/8 cup chopped red onion (optional)
Mung beans, sprouted, steamed
Date and Tamarind spread

To prepare the salad, place the mung beans, avocado, tomatoes and onions in a bowl. Crush some chips or place them whole on the vegetables. Sprinkle salt to taste. Garnish with the spread and serve!

Mushroom Curry in Cashew Gravy

Mushrooms are a rich source of many nutrients and lend themselves to curries easily. Here is a recipe for a mushroom curry in a rich cashew gravy that works well when served with rice or breads like Naan, Pita, Lavash, and Roti! My cousin loves this curry and I hope you do too!

To serve a table set for two, you will need:

1 packet of mushrooms, washed, and diced lengthwise or in quarters.
2 tsp of ginger-garlic paste (fresh works best, made with a fine grater)
2 tsp of curry powder
1/4 cup ground cashews
1/4 cup yogurt, whisked
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, washed, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
Oil to saute
1 small onion, chopped
1 or 2 tomatoes, washed, seeded, diced
1/4 tsp of turmeric, 1/4 tsp of red chili powder (optional)
Salt to taste, 1/2 tsp sugar

Sputter cumin seeds in the heated oil in a large saucepan. Saute the onions, and let them turn a golden brown. Now add the curry powder, turmeric and ginger-garlic paste . Fry for about 30 seconds and add the diced tomatoes and mushrooms. Cover and cook until mushrooms are just cooked, do not add water, since mushrooms tend to sweat as they cook. Now add the ground cashews and about 1/8-1/4 cup water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Season with salt, sugar and red chili powder and turn the stove off. After the curry cools slightly, add the whisked yogurt, garnish with cilantro and serve!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hearty Cabbage and Potato Soup

Cabbage, aah, not much that you can do with this really healthy, good to eat vegetable right? There's curries, there's coleslaw, there's soup....ahem, did you say soup? Yes, I did!

Try this winning combination of cabbage and potato in a rustic soup. You won't be disappointed.

You will need:

2 carrots, washed and diced.
1/2 cup of cooked rice.
1/4 to 1/2 cup cabbage, washed, shredded.
6 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped.
1/2 onion, finely diced.
2 Yukon gold potatoes, washed, peeled, and diced.
1 tsp of California style sweet paprika.
Black pepper and salt to taste.
Olive oil 1 tabsp and butter 1tbsp to saute the onion.
Crushed Thyme, 1 tsp to garnish.

In a saucepan, heat the oil and butter together. Saute the onions and garlic until a mild golden brown. Now, add the potatoes, carrots and cabbage and stir for a minute or so. Add paprika, black pepper and salt. Pour enough water to cook the vegetable, covered. I normally do about 2 cups of water. After a rolling boil, cook until potatoes are just about done. Now add the rice and bring to a rolling boil. Turn of the stove and let the flavors seep into the broth. Garnish with the crushed thyme and serve warm with rustic bread. Serves two. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Versatile Weekly Menus

Wondering what to cook everyday? You are not alone really, all of us, often wonder if we are balancing our meals well. So I decided to post a weekly menu that helps me immensely. Alter the protein and vegetables based on your preferences! Protein can be included in every meal in various forms, by including nuts, legumes, whole grains like amaranth and buckwheat, and of course dairy and eggs!

Here goes!

Zucchini and Red Lentil Dal

Zucchini and Red Lentil Dal

Most people think of Zucchini as a vegetable to roast or add to pasta or to make fritters with. But Zucchini is also a very versatile vegetable that can be grated and added to cakes, and yes, dal! My aunt gave me this idea, and I tweaked the recipe to work with my taste preferences and spice levels. My friends wanted this recipe, so here it is.

To prepare this nutrition packed dal you will need:
1 cup red lentils (raw), washed, soaked, and cooked (almost)
1 medium sized zucchini, washed, grated
½ large yellow onion, chopped
1 large tomato, seeded, diced
1 bay leaf
1 large stick of cinnamon
3 tbsp of oil (rice bran, olive, canola)
½ tsp of turmeric
1 tsp garam masala (brands include McCormick, Aachi, Penzys)
1 tsp of garlic paste (I make this fresh)
Salt to taste, dash of red chili powder depending on personal spice levels!
¼ tsp sugar (this enhances the flavor of the garam masala)


Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and sauté the onion until golden and translucent. Immediately add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Now add the garlic paste and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Now, add the turmeric stir and add the grated zucchini. Sauté until the zucchini just cooks, and then add the tomato. Cook for a minute and then add the dal. Always stir in the cooked dal, and then add a small amount of water to give the mixture a gentle boil. Finally, add salt to taste, chili powder, and the sugar. Serve hot with rice and a good amount of ghee!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Parfaits in Strawberry Season

A splash of deep red, amidst a white background, dotted with earthy browns. I am a dessert, who am I? Why, a parfait of course. I am delicious, healthy and loaded with nutrients.

Parfaits have to be my favorite breakfast on hot summer days. All you need is homemade yogurt, homemade granola, and loads of fresh summer berries. To assemble a parfait is easy. A bit of planning and it can be your go to breakfast on any day really. I make my weekly batch of yogurt on a Sunday typically. Many people ask me where I get my starter culture from. I normally rely on store bought yogurt that contains only cultured milk. Mind you, not buttermilk, but store bought yogurt whose only ingredient is pasteurized milk that is cultured. Typically, for two cups of milk that has been brought to a gentle boil and cooled, I used about 4 tablespoons of yogurt. Remember to remove any cream that you see on top of the milk that has been boiled and cooled. This thin layer should be removed before adding the yogurt to the milk. I tend to place the milk that has the yogurt mixed in it, in the oven, with the light on for about 6 to 8 hours. There should be no lumps of the yogurt in the milk. The heat from the oven light is enough to help the bacteria in the yogurt to ferment the milk. The yogurt sets really well. That's it! Once you get your first batch of home made yogurt, your culture remains if you make yogurt regularly. It is that simple.

Homemade granola is equally easy. I use about 1.5 cups of rolled oats with 1/8 cup of honey, 1/8 cup of sunflower oil and about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. I mix these ingredients with my hand in a glass baking dish, and toast the oats at about 350 F until they are lightly browned. I tend to mix the oats around several times. I also often add various nuts like almonds and walnuts to the oats as they roast in the oven. Once the oats are done, just remove the baking dish from the oven and add a 1/4 cup of raisins and a 1/4 cup of chopped dried figs to this oat and nut ensemble. Voila! Your home made granola is ready. Cool this granola to room temperature and store in an airtight box. It should last a week or so. This volume will make about six single serving parfaits each with a 1/4 cup of granola or so.

To assemble to parfait, I use dessert cups and layer the granola with yogurt, add chopped strawberries and then drizzle some honey on top.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Hello Breakfast!

Time flies, or may be runs, perhaps does this really dramatic sprint...and boom! A year has gone by. I have been busy, but who isn't right? It has been a wonderfully productive year though. New recipes, new ideas and loads of new posts coming along I promise!

I really have been meaning to do a series of posts on oatmeal, rolled oats, oat bran, you name it. Breakfast specific mind you. I kind of started that trend with the oats dosa recipe, but this post is all about a breakfast full of warm oatmeal loaded with dried fruits, nuts and fresh fruit like green apples. Oh, and loads of cinnamon. This breakfast option is a big hit with my little one, and it gives us a lot of energy for busy mornings on weekends. Delicious to the core, here are my go to staples for a warm breakfast dish.

To prepare oat meal just follow the directions on the package. I stick to Bob's Red Mill rolled oats (organic), or their oat bran (organic). Loaded with fiber, protein and iron, the porridge can be made with water. I add the cinnamon powder when the oats are cooking in the water. I add milk only before serving. Chopped dried dates and figs, slivered almonds and chopped walnuts, and diced fresh apples, complete the meal for me. No added sugar mind you, but honey drizzled on the fruit make for a mouth watering meal. You can't go wrong.