Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Here's to a healthier and happier new year - Mango, Cucumber, Zucchini salad with zesty Desi dressing

A very happy new year and hers is wishing all my readers a year of healthy eating.  It’s the time of year to evaluate our old habits and to nudge those bad habits aside and cultivate new and better ones. In theory this might last for a week, a month and if it truly becomes a life style change then for years. My goal this year is to eat healthy and organic, this has been my mantra since years and will be same this year. I am true believer in “ you are what you eat” and this year my goal is to incorporate more fresh ingredients, raw food and precisely more protein in my diet. Eating healthy is easier said than done. Anyone who has followed a healthy lifestyle know how important it is to be organized  in order to eat healthy. Stocking fridge with fresh ingredients, pantry with healthy snack alternatives, fresh fruits and most importantly cooking at home. And this by any means is no easy task when all it takes is a dial of phone to eat some delicious restaurant cooked food. As they say no pain no gain and so this year begins with renewed vows ..to a healthier and happier me.

It gets quite boring quite fast with eating vegetables and this needs to be changed up constantly in order to maintain the same level of enthusiasm. Recently added a Spiralizer to my collection of never ending kitchen gadgets. It costs about $30 and I truly feel this is worth the price. This thing can spiralize most vegetables and this makes it easy to get creative about eating raw vegetables.

Spiralizer from Amazon
Today's recipe was inspired the amazing spirals of fresh vegetables

Makes for about 6 servings

1 medium sized Zucchini
1 medium sized Cucumber
half an raw Mango
about 1/3 cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup sliced/sprialized red onions (optional)

For dressing

1 bunch corriander leaves washed
1/3 bunch mint leaves
2~3 green chilies
half a clove of garlic (optional)
1 tbsp of lemon zest
1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
tbsp of Chaat masala
1/4 tbsp of roasted dhania( roasted corriander powder)
pinch of paprika/red chili powder
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions for dressing
1. In a food processor add corriander, mint, green chilies, garlic. Pulse till it forms into a fine paste
2. Add lemon juice, orange juice, salt, paprika, chaat masala and roasted dhania powder and pulse
3. Add olive oil and pulse till if forms into a nice emulsified liquid

For Salad
1. In a huge bowl add cucumber, zucchini, onion, carrot, mango and toss
2. Add the above dressing according to your liking and give it a good mix, check for salt and adjust accordingly
3. Top with chopped pistachio and green onions

Serve fresh, trust me this is a salad you will come back asking for more. I would suggest to make the salad fresh and not store since it gets soggy. Dressing stays fresh for two days when refrigerated 

This year I hope will be a year of good health and happiness and I wish all my readers the very same. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Spicy Picante Pepper Dosa Waffle

Spicy Picante Pepper Dosa Waffle

I am a foodie, I love food and everything related to it. I love to cook and entertain and I am sucker for farmers markets and unique spices & ingredients.  To me cooking is a perfect combination of arts and science and a perfect playground for creativity. I find it exciting to try new recipes and hardly can contain my excitement when I find a successfully tested recipe to share on my blog.

I am always on the lookout for healthy, easy and nutritious recipes and find my self drawing inspiration from friends,magazines and  restaurants I visit and so here is today's recipe.

I LOVE Picante peppers and these are the one of reason I go to the farmers market, Picante peppers are sweet yet have the pepper flavor making it perfect for chili cheese sandwiches, quesadilla's and my newest creation Dosa Waffle.

I know Dosa Waffles seems strange but trust me these taste delicious and are absolutely easy and quick to make and guess what needs no oil making it healthy.

Ingredients for making one waffle
1 cup dosa batter
1/2 cup of finely chopped picante peppers
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup finely chopped corriander
pinch of Jeera/cumin
non stick spray to grease the waffle iron

1. Heat the waffle iron till its hot and ready
2. Coat the bottom and top of the waffle iron with non-stick spray

 3. Add generous portion of peppers and onions, allow them the cook on the waffle iron for about a minute

 4. Now add a cup of dosa batter and top it again with a generous portion on chillies and coriander
 5. Close the lid and allow to cook for about 4-5 minutes till ready

 6. Remove from the waffle iron and serve hot with fresh pepper and onion relish and/or your choice of sambar & chutneys

The waffle iron cooks the dosa well and give it a nice texture crispy on the outside and soft inside. 
Cut into along ridges and serve the kids.

Served it to kids and was skeptical since they are so used to eating waffles doused with syrup and was not sure of savory waffles, to my surprise it was approved by the kids and they did give it a nod.

Hope you guys will give this a shot...would love to hear your feedback...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lettuce Wraps with Peppers spicy and everyones favorite at home

Lettuce Wraps with Peppers 

One you make a choice to eat healthy and make it a life style change it's hard to eat food that's mono colored. Healthy eating to me means having fresh, organic as much as possible, and multitude of colors on your plate and preferably in their original recognizable shape . I cringe when I have to make meals with just one ingredient. Prefer to include greens, some healthy portion of nuts, spices and tons of vegetables.

Lettuce wraps are a favorite at home. Had it first time at P.F. Chang's and since then keep going back just for wraps. Inspired by P.F. Chang's  here is my version. P.S I am really particular about cutting vegetables to a specific and uniform size ALWAYS, I am obsessed that way :). Feel free to cut the veggies to suit your taste.

2 medium sized Yellow, Red, Orange peppers each chopped extremely fine
1/2 cup of Chestnuts, skip if you cannot find it
1/2 cup walnuts
2 shallots substitute with medium sized red onion
1 Jalapeño
1/4 cup mixed greens corriander & mint 
fresh butter lettuce 

For Dressing
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup chili sauce
3 tbsp of garlic olive oil/ use olive oil if you can't find flavored oil
2 tbsp of spicy mustard
1 tsp of brown sugar/sugar
salt according to taste
fresh pepper
chili pepper flakes according to taste

1. Seperate lettuce leaves and wash and allow to dry
2. Cut all the vegetables finely including chestnuts
3. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a pan and add the diced vegetables, including chestnuts, salt and pepper and sauté  for a minute or two till they get caramelized. Keep aside to cool

4. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing

5. Layer lettuce leaves and scoop a big portion of vegetables and pour over the dressing
6. Sprinkle with lemon juice and chopped walnuts and serve
It's like a party in your mouth, such layers of flavors from spicy, sweet and sour. Nuts give an additional texture to wraps. Make it a weeknight dinner and allow for kids to serve the way the like. Makes for a fun dinner/ snack.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sweet Cherry Tomato, Watercress & Shallots Salad - Ode To Summer

Sweet Cherry Tomato, Watercress & Shallots Salad - Ode To Summer

Summer is gone, I can feel the change of season. The chill in the air, falling of leaves, shorter days are all tell tell sign of the change. This Summer was relaxing, fun, and most importantly spent time with my parents. There is no better feeling in the world then being a child again.  Spent my Summer with kids in India, kids visited both maternal and paternal grandparents, spent time with their cousins, we did some travel, I did a whole lot shopping and we ate to heart contents. Loved every minute of vacation and now its back to the grind, As much as I crib about the "grind" there is something very good about the predictability of the day, the daily discipline and the oh so hectic weekends. Life in the grind is not so bad after all.
Summer and Tomatoes are synonymous in my mind, as the season progresses the quality of the fruit gets better. Was given a bowl of these cherry tomatoes and sweet were they. It would be a crime to make anything of them except a simple salad, so simple salad it is ..

1 cup of ripe cherry tomatoes
1 shallot diced finely
1/4 cup of Watercress

2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp of fine olive oil
2 tbsp of vinegar - I used honey vinegar which is epic
pinch of sea salt
fresh pepper according to taste
1.Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and keep aside
2. Clean and cut tomatoes in half
3. Toss shallots and vinegar and pour over tomatoes and mix well
4. Now mix in the watercress and give it one gentle toss.
Serve cold or at room temperature
A rustic bread with tomato salad seems like a company made in heaven.
so here's to a summer gone by, thankful for all the memories and happy times. Time to soak in  my favorite season Fall.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Panna Cotta - Three Simple Ingredients & Unlimited Possibilities

Panna Cotta - Three Simple Ingredients & Unlimited Possibilities

We are half way through the year and it's hard to believe. Each passing month seem like a blur the rush, the activities, the rat race its hard to take a pause and breathe and live the moment. As my parents would always say there is a time and place for everything and assure me that this phase in my life is when I should run and sprint and there will time later to soak in the efforts and relish the fruits of all the hard work. Glad that it's summer, a break from the routine and a chance to catch up on my blog.

During the last few months experimented with various cuisines , ingredients and cooking techniques have lots of posts in drafts. I find it hard to find words to blog, experiencing writers block I guess.

Coming to today's recipe it's one of the easiest and delicious dessert to make. Have eaten Panna Cotta numerous time but never realized how easy it was to make until last week. Was flipping through Cooking channels and saw the recipe. I knew I had to make it instantly and the fact that we were expecting friends for dinner was a perfect excuse.

Three ingredients suffice for the basic Panna Cotta recipe and you can customize your flavor with additional flavored sauces, toppings or flavoring. Below are my experiments with various flavors. Traditional Panna Cotta recipe uses heavy cream, I used whole milk instead and consistency was as good as heavy cream.

Basic Panna Cotta Recipe
Makes for about 6~8 serving
2 cups whole milk/Heavy cream
1 envelope of Gelatin ( You can use Agar Agar or other vegetarian options available)
1 cup sugar

Optionally for additional flavor you can use Vanilla, Lemon or other flavors. I used Vanilla in my recipe.

1. In heavy sauce pan add two cups of milk and boil in the lowest possible flame, taking care not to over heat
2. In a separate cup add one envelope of gelatin and cold water and allow for the gelatin to mix well
3. Now add gelatin and sugar into the milk and allow to boil on low flame for about 4~5 minutes till you see small bubbles form along the rim.
4. Remove from heat and pour into ramekins. You can also butter the ramekins in case if you would like to serve on plate.
5. Refrigerate for at least  six hours and serve cold.

This can be prepared a day or two in advance.

Strawberry Compote Panna Cotta
Cut Strawberries into about half an inch cubes add some honey/sugar and lemon juice. Add a pinch of fresh mint and mix well. This can be made ahead and allow to marinate and allow Strawberries to soak in the flavor or made fresh. Top Panna Cotta with a scoop or two spoonfuls of Strawberries and serve cold.

Nectarine and Orange flavored Panna Cotta

Cut ripe Nectarine into tiny pieces, add about two cups of freshly squeezed Orange juice to Nectarines, add sugar/honey if required. Add Freshly chopped mint or basil to the Nectarines, mix well  and serve on top of cold Panna Cotta. This is by far my favorite. With such beautiful fruit, ripe and juicy it's hard to go wrong with the topping. You can add Orange flower essence to milk while boiling to enhance and elevate the flavor even more.

Caramel Panna Cotta

Scoop couple of tablespoons of store brought Caramel on top of the Panna Cotta and allow to cool. Each spoon gives such contrasting and lovely texture of Panna Cotta.

Mango Panna Cotta
Fresh juicy and sweet Mangoes, technically you need nothing more but just to add an element of flavor add a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger juice and toss in fresh mint. Now add this delicious topping to you Panna Cotta and wait to see your guests reactions, guaranteed to get ooohs and aaah's

As I said possibilities are endless and making with whole milk instead of whipping cream and addition of all these flavors enhances the taste without having to add a whole lot of sugar. And fact that this can be made ahead helps too. Make various topping and allow for your guests to choose their topping making it very engaging.

So which one would be your favorite?

Summer means color burst in my backyard, though California is experiencing severe drought glad to see these beauties bloom.

Have a happy and a safe summer !!!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Instant Yogurt Oats

Yogurt Oats - Healthy alternative to Yogurt rice

Life is running at full throttle. Days, weeks & months seems to pass by in a blur. Looking forward to summer and some downtime. Have quite a few posts in drafts and its been crazy trying to find time to post. Made this today for lunch, simple, easy to make and delicious and not to mention healthy, I knew I had to post it. Traditional yogurt rice recipe is made with rice and every family has their own version. My version today has the same traditional seasoning but added some toppings and replaced rice with oats for a healthier version.

2 cups Yogurt
1/2 cup milk

1 tbsp oil
1 tspn mustard seeds
1 tspn jeera/cumin
1 tspn urad dal
1 tspn Vamu/Ajwain 
pinch of hing
10~15 curry leaves
Salt according to taste

for toppings
finely chopped onions, tomatoes, green chiles, coriander, cucumber & grated carrot

1. Add tbsp of oil in a pan and allow to heat and when hot add all the seasoning ingredients and fry till you see the mustard seeds pop
2. Now add oats and toast for about 4~5 minutes constantly till you have a nice aroma

3. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl
4.  Add yogurt to the oats and mix well, add milk and salt and toss till all the oats are covered, if the mixture seems too thick add a little water/yogurt.
6. Mix well and wrap the container with foil and allow for oats to soak the  yogurt for about 15 minutes
7. Serve Oats with all chopped vegetables as toppings.
Delicious and satisfying Yogurt Oats healthy without being carb rich.

Have a good week ahead ..............

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Coriander, Coconut Masala Quinoa - Oh No, Not Your Traditional Coconut Rice

Coriander, Coconut Masala Quinoa - Oh No, Not Your Traditional Coconut Rice

Food fads come and fads go, one day there is research showing the benefits and the very next day there is research showing just the opposite. Off late with so much information available online it gets even confusing and harder to make the right choice, point in case is today's ingredient. Once upon a time eating coconut was deems extremely dangerous, cholesterol causing, fattening etc etc.. today suddenly there are so many studies suggesting its benefits. Go to any organic/ Whole food you would find tons of offerings of Coconut products from oils to butters to soap to paste. Well what ever the benefits might be for South Indian belle like me its just a staple, something that has bee used on a daily basis for generations.
The uses of coconut in a typical south indian home are many, growing up my hair was drenched in coconut oil, babies were massaged with coconut oil, infact every part of the coconut tree was used up starting from the fruit to the bark. Today's recipe is a modern adaptation of traditional Coconut Rice recipe.

Fresh ingredients

1 fresh coconut grated
2 cups of coriander washed and chopped
1~2 green chilies
1/2 cup green bell pepper/capsicum dices finely
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup grated carrot optional
1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa

Dry ingredients

2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1~2 elachi
1 tbsp of garam masala
2 big tbsp of channa dal
1/4  cup cashew nuts/almond/walnuts (nut of your choice to your hearts content)
1/2 tbsp of oil
salt according to taste


1. In a shallow pan add oil and when oil gets hot add all the dry ingredients and sauté for a minute or two till you get a strong aroma
2. Grind coriander, mint, green chiles in a food processor and keep a side
3. Add the grated coriander, bell pepper and carrot and sauté till coriander is well fried and the raw smell is gone takes about 3 minutes
4. Now add the freshly grated coconut and sauté for another couple of minutes
5. Add boiled Quinoa, salt and fresh pepper and sauté till all the ingredients are mixed well

Remove from heat and adjust for salt and serve piping hot or at room temperature with some fresh coriander as garnish.
Guilt free, delicious and protein filled cannot ask for a better alternative. Eat it for dinner or lunch.You can also squeeze some fresh lemon juice if you would prefer.

On a different note, we at home have been feeling the gardening itch and started seedling indoors and one experiment with Hydroponics. Looking forward to a steady temperature to transplant them into the ground. Nothing excites me like seeing a sapling breaking the seed and out of the ground. Hoping all these plants would survive for the next couple of weeks.

Have a beautiful rest of the week my dear readers, chow .....

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