Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dhaba style dal (Smoky whole green lentils)

Who doesn't like dhaba food? And for those who do not know what are dhabas....Dhabas are roadside restaurants found all over India.They serve mostly local and fresh food which is delicious. I especially love the dal that is cooked to perfection, flavored with onions, garlic and tomatoes, sometimes fresh cream is added to it and it  has a nice smokey flavor. Usually the dal that is used is urad and rajma (kidney beans). Here I have used whole green moong and tur dal.

I adapted the recipe from Taj Magazine *Taj vegetarian Fare.


1 cup green moong dal
1/4 cup toor dal
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
2 green chillies chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
2 teaspoon grated ginger and garlic
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
a few sprigs of cilantro for garnish
1 charcoal
1 tablespoon ghee

Soak the moong dal overnight in water. Wash the toor dal and boil it along with the soaked moong and turmeric powder. It should not become too mushy. Heat oil in a separate pan and crackle the cumin seeds and curry leaves. Add the bay leaf and black cardamom and cook for a few seconds. Now add the chopped onion and green chillies. Cook till the onions get golden brown then add the ginger garlic paste. Stir for about a minute then add the garam masala,clove powder, salt and chopped tomatoes. Once the tomatoes start wilting pour the cooked dal, along with 3/4 cup of milk. Cover and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Now to give the smoke flavor, take melted ghee in a small bowl and place it on the surface of the cooked lentils. Take a piece of charcoal and light it on fire. Now carefully transfer in the the bowl of ghee. Immediately cover the pan. The smoke from ghee and hot coal will flavor the dal.
Once the smoke disappears. Take the bowl out of the pan and discard the coal and ghee. Garnish the dal with chopped cilantro and squeeze some lemon juice if desired. Serve with rice.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Vegetables and noodle salad with spicy peanut butter dressing

 Here is another salad! This is such a versatile salad that can be made with any type of pasta, mixed up with a good serving of crunchy vegetables. I love using broccoli slaw, grated red and green cabbage, carrots, snap peas. I usually get a bag of mixed slaw and throw in some broccoli florets in it. But other vegetables like mushrooms, bean sprouts, chestnuts would be great too. What makes it really good is the  creamy, delicious and bursting with flavor peanut butter dressing. Home made peanut butter would taste great, but store bought is just fine. This salad is always a winner and I like the fact that it does not really take much time to prepare. Sometimes I prepare the peanut butter dressing in advance and when I want to make this salad I just boil the pasta, add in the veggies and just before serving mix the dressing.
Recently I made it for a potluck dinner, so I went easy on the heat and used penne pasta as it is much easier to eat than spaghetti. Here is the recipe.


4 cups boiled penne pasta
1 bag of mixed slaw (red and white cabbage, broccoli, carrots)
 bunch of chopped cilantro
4-6 green onions chopped (white and green parts)
1/4 cup roughly chopped roasted peanuts or cashews
boiled chickpeas or sauteed tofu (optional)

For the peanut butter dressing/sauce

1/4 cup tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoon maple syrup/honey or agave nectar
2 teaspoon or more sriracha sauce
3 tablespoons chili oil or peanut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 fat cloves of grated garlic
1/4 cup water (add less or more water depending on the consistency you like)
(1 tablespoon major grey mango chutney Indian mango chunda works well too)


Take the boiled pasta and add a splash of oil so that it does not stick to each other. Toss in the vegetables. To prepare the dressing just mix all the ingredients listed above. If it is too thick then add a tablespoon of hot water and stir. I do not measure everything when I cook, so feel free to add less or more of whatever suits your taste. Pour the dressing over the pasta and mix. Garnish with cilantro, green onions and roasted peanuts or cashews.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Green chickpeas and heirloom tomato salad

Made this salad last month when I found these beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes at the local store. This is not the season for tomatoes and probably this was one of the last batches of the season that looked so tempting. I made a colorful salad mixing it up with sprouted green gram, corn and cucumber to make a filling lunch with a side of warm olive bread.

1 cup green chickpeas
1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes
1 small red onioin
2 small seedless cucumbers
3-4 mini sweet peppers
1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen)
a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds or peanuts 
a few cilantro leaves for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste
one tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
drizzle of honey
one clove grated garlic
red pepper flakes.


Soak green chickpeas in water for 8-10 hours. Drain the water and let them sprout.
Chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, peppers and add the corn. Transfer to a bowl. Mix the ingredients for the dressing and drizzle over the salad.
Instead of sesame seed toasted crushed peanuts would taste great too. The salad can also be served on a bed of chopped lettuce, spinach or arugula leaves.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Green beans with besan (chickpea flour) dumplings

 I am all for cooking with garlic and onions but I also enjoy simple flavors of fresh vegetables with minimum seasonings. This recipe for green beans is one of them. I have added besan (chickpea flour) dumplings which makes the dish more interesting. It is seasoned with carom seeds or bishops weeds (ajwain). It compliments the flavor of green beans and is known for its digestive benefits. Carom seeds have medicinal value and are often used as a home remedy to relieve stomach ache or indigestion. I like to keep some roasted seeds mixed with black salt to chew after a heavy meal.

Here is the recipe.



2 cups chopped green beans
1 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain) 
1teaspoon mustard seeds
1teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or red chili powder
salt to taste

For the dumplings

1/2 cup besan
1/4 teaspoon carom seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 black pepper powder
1 tablespoon crushed dry fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
water to make a dough 


Heat oil in a pan and drop the mustard seeds. As soon as they pop add the carom seeds, asafoetida, turmeric powder and chili powder. Now add the chopped green beans. Add salt and mix everything well. Pour one cup water and cover.
To make the dumplings mix everything listed above and use water as required to make a stiff dough. It will be sticky so keep some oil in a bowl and dip your fingers in it while making the dough. Drop lumps of this dough in the pot along with the beans. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Check the see if the dumplings are cooked through. Just before serving add some lemon juice.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mung dal and badam laddu (Split yellow lentils and almond balls)

This is my version of mung dal halwa, a popular Indian dessert.Yellow split mung dal (lentils) are known for their nutritional value. They are easy to digest and cook much faster than other lentils, often used to make khichdi or soups when someone is sick and needs to eat light, but a healthy meal. But this description does not hold true when you make these sweet laddus with it! The traditional halwa recipe is laden with sugar and fat but is delicious. This is the first time I tried to make it but reduced the amount of fat by cooking in a non stick pan. I think it was still delicious. I really liked the end result and would be making it more often now. This can be a good alternative to other sweets for kids. It is also rich in protein. I added ground almond powder to it and made it with jaggery instead of sugar.


1 cup yellow mung dal
1/2 cup powdered almonds 
(I used store bought almond meal)
1/4 cup ghee
One and a half cup jaggery 
1/4 cup very thinly sliced pistachios and almonds
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
a few strands of saffron
3 cups water


Wash and soak the mung dal for about 3-4 hours. Drain all the water and grind the dal, adding just a little water if needed. Take a heavy non stick pan and add the ghee and ground dal in it. Keep the heat to low or medium and let the dal and ghee roast. This is the hard part as it requires time and patience. Keep stirring the mixture till the dal gets deep golden in color and roasted. It should not smell raw. This might take about 15-20 minutes. If you need add more ghee to the dal.Meanwhile boil 3 cups water with jaggery and saffron strands. Keep it covered. Once the dal is well roasted slowly add the water. It will start bubbling and spluttering so be careful. Stir everything and then add the ground almond meal. Taste for sweetness and add more jaggery if required. Stir and cook till the water evaporates and the texture is grainy. Add the cardamom powder and mixed nuts. 
Once it cools a little shape into balls or serve it in bowls just as it is. This dessert usually tastes good slightly warm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mushroom pilaf with toasted nuts and cranberries

 I love rice based dishes and therefore the mushrooms that I had bought to make a soup ended up in this pilaf. Mushrooms and rice go together very well but I did not want to cook the mushrooms along with the rice as it makes the mushrooms soggy and the rice mushy. So I cooked the rice seperately and then mixed it with the rest of the ingredients.
Caramelized onions, toasted pistachios, cashews, dried cranberries and mushrooms make this rice extremely flavorful and delicious. I decided to serve the rice by filling them in poblano peppers and then grilled it in the oven for about 15 minutes.



1 cup long grained rice like basmati
1 red onion thinly sliced
about 4 cups sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1/4 cup mixed nuts (raw cashews and pistachios)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 bay leaf
2-3 black cardamom
1 teaspoon black garam masala (I like to use shan's zafrani masala)
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil to cook
1 teaspoon ghee or butter for flavor (optional)
Cilantro for garnishing
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 poblano peppers


Wash and soak the rice for about half and hour. Then boil it with about two and a half cups of salted water until done. Each type of rice cooks differently so cook in a way so that the rice gets cooked but the grains do not stick to one another.
Heat some olive oil and cook the onion on low or medium heat till they are caramelized. Keep aside. Now in the same pan add the sliced mushrooms bay leaf and cardamom. Let them cook for about 10 minutes till the mushrooms get slightly brown. Add the nuts and more oil if needed or a teaspoon of ghee/butter. That gives it a very nice fragrance and flavor. Once the mushrooms have browned add the salt, pepper,  garam masala and dried cranberries.
Now fluff the rice and mix it with the cooked mushrooms and nuts. Add the caramelized onion and chopped cilantro. It can be served just like this or would be great with a cup of tomato soup. I filled the rice in poblano peppers and baked it in the oven at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, then topped it with feta and baked again for 5 minutes.


I later thought that a drizzle of balsamic vinegar would be wonderful over the rice and peppers. I did not have that at home but next time I would definitely try it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diwali recipes: Poori sabzi and kalakand (milk fudge) made with condensed milk


Happy Diwali to all!
Diwali is a fun time except, the noise and pollution in India seems to be getting worse every year. The fun part for me is the food, lighting diyas (lamps) and making rangoli. I usually make snacks at home. This time I made two types of mithai (sweets) and a simple diwali meal, consisting of masoor dal, urad and peas poori and to go along with that potato and peas vegetable.  Today I am sharing the recipes of kalakand and poori sabzi. Kalakand is a milk cake or fudge and this is an easy way to make it using ricotta cheese and condensed milk. It takes about 15 minutes to make it in the microwave which also makes for a quick cleanup. The poori and sabzi are my nani's (grandmother) recipe. She would make these on special occassions and I learned to make it form her. I  love the slightly crunchy poori with urad dal and the simple and spicy potato sabzi.

Coconut laddu and kalakand barfi

 Kalakand recipe
1 can condensed milk
1cup ricotta cheese (I think it can be substituted with fresh homemade paneer, but I have not yet tried it)
3/4 cup dry milk powder
1 cup mixed dry fruits (cashews, roasted almonds, pistachios) roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cardamon powder

Take a deep microwave proof dish and pour the condensed milk, ricotta cheese, and dry milk powder. Mix everything well.  Heat for 3- 4 minutes. Stir and heat again. Keep repeating this till the mixture starts getting thick and grainy. Let it sit for a few minute in between. It will start solidifying soon . Once the mixture gets thick add the dry fruits and cardamom. Heat again till you get the desired consistency. Once it cools cut it into sqaures.



Urad dal and peas poori

3 cups whole wheat flour (aata)
1 cup frozen peas (thawed and coarsely ground)
1 cup urad dal soaked in water for at least 2-3 hours (coarsely ground)
1 heaped tablespoon fennel seeds
1 heaped tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon dry ginger powder (saunth)
1 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste.
oil and water to bind the dough.


 Grind the fennel and coriander seeds coarsely. Mix all the above ingredients, including the fennel and coriander seeds powder. Add water and make a stiff dough. Add some oil and knead it well again. Cover with a wet paper towel or cloth. Let it sit for about half and hour. Now heat oil in a kadhai.  Roll the dough to make pooris and deep fry the. Serve with potato sabzi.

Potato sabzi recipe
3-4  boiled and crushed potatoes
1 cup frozen peas
2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon methi seeds
1 tablespoon dry mango powder (amchoor)
1-2 teaspoons dry ginger powder (saunth
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 crushed green chilies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black salt
salt to tast
2 cups water (or as needed)
chopped cilantro
1 -2 tablespoons oil


Heat oil, add cumin seeds and asafoetida. After a few seconds add the ground coriander, fenugreek and fennel seeds. Quickly add the green chilies and turmeric. Add the crushed potatoes and peas. Now add the dry ginger powder, mango powder, black pepper and salt. Mix everything well. Pour about 2 cups of water. Cover and let it simmer for a few minutes. Finally add the chopped cilantro and serve with the dal pooris.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

V8 Rasam

I love this time of the year. Growing up in India I could only dream of seeing autumn with leaves changing to beautiful colors and the air cool and crisp with the right kind of nip. Some days do get unusually cold like the last weekend when the temperatures dipped to the low 30s. I remembered some of my close friends and family who have stood by me through the years and wished I could meet them more often. Weather always affects my mood and this one was in a pleasant way!

 To go with the cool temperature I decided to make some hot rasam and I often make it using the vegetable juice (V8). I like the spicy one. It takes less than a minute and tastes great. A side of lemon rice and pappadums would be wonderful with this bowl of soup.


(For one person)
2 small cans of V8 juice 
1 teaspooon mustard seeds
3-4 leaves of curry patta
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
1 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoons rasam powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
a pinch or turmeric
1 cup water
half a lime
salt as required
1 teaspoon oil

  1. Heat oil in a pot.
  2. Drop the mustard seeds, methi and asafoetida.
  3. Add the curry leaves and cover the pot.
  4. Quickly add the rasam powder and chili powder
  5.  Pour the V8 juice,water and sugar
  6. Cover and let it come to a boil.
  7. Adjust salt according to taste. 
  8. Squirt juice of half a lime just before serving.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Egg and cheese sandwich

Here is a delicious and quick sandwich for busy mornings. I made it with egg whites and sweet peppers. It is my version of dunkin donuts flatbread sandwich.

3/4 cup egg white
2 tbsp chopped sweet peppers or capsicum
salt and pepper to taste
chopped cilantro as much as desired
oil for cooking
whole wheat flat bread for serving


Mix all the ingredients together. Do not beat the eggs, just mix everything in together.
Pour into a mini fried egg pan and cover. Cook till the top looks firm. Flip and cook the other side.
Take the flat bread and apply pesto or mayonnaise on one side. Keep a slice of cheese on the other and keep it under the broiler for a minute till it melts a little. Slide the prepared egg on the bread.