Friday, November 22, 2013

Gajar Halwa Pie

Move over pumpkin, carrots are here. When a brain wave hits, it hits hard. Yesterday when I saw an image of a pie on TV, a light bulb went on. How about I use the classic Indian dessert Gajar Halwa (Gajar = carrots and I’m not sure what the halwa equivalent is, pudding would be wrong. Halwa is a dessert in which the subject (carrots, semolina, wheat flour) is cooked in clarified butter (ghee), milk and sugar. Semantics aside, I knew I had to try this.

only pumpkin used in this, is the one you see in the picture!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kale Kadhi | Kale Yogurt Soup

Last Saturday I gathered a bunch of my good friends to celebrate Diwali at a dinner party I throw every year. This celebration makes up for all the lost times back home. But I think we are past Diwali now, and onto Thanksgiving , a birthday and the excitement of Christmas coming up after.

For me, Christmas  = warm sunny Sydney this year. I really cannot wait to get away from the New York area! For those who have started suffering this weather with me, I'm sorry that I won't be "enjoying" it for four weeks. But I remind myself, I will be back in the peak of winter.

To cope with this early onset of cold and even a sprinkling of snow, I've been making warm and spicy foods.And huddling indoors and swearing to never ever ever leave the house until the trees start budding again.
For someone who has been dissing kale all season, I find myself eating my words alongside this yummy sweet and warm Kadhi - which is a traditional Indian yogurt soup. I have a bag full of kale that I need to work my way through and I figured the wilted kale in this kadhi might be a good way to avoid the bitter crispiness of kale which I don't enjoy much. In this form, you really can't distinguish it from any other greens like spinach or fenugreek. You could easily sub either of them for kale. The ginger in this soup gives it the warmth that's much needed in this cold season. Besides adding flavor, I'm sure its also delivering all the goodness its so well known for.

Serve the kadhi by itself, or the Indian way with freshly made fragrant basmati rice. Comfort food at its best.

Prep Time : 10 mins Serves: 2-3 people
Cooking Time: 45 mins-1 hour
> 2 cups plain yogurt
> 2 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
> 1.5" ginger (peeled and minced)
> 2 green chillies (minced)
> 1 tbsp sugar
> 1/2 cup Kale (chopped thinly)
> For Tempering
> 2 tbsp Ghee/Clarified Butter or Canola Oil
> Cumin Seeds
> Mustard Seeds
> ping of hing (asfoetida)
> 2 cloves
> 2 dry red chillies
* In a pan, add ginger, green chillies, besan, sugar and yogurt and whisk together nicely
* Once well mixed,add 2.5 cups of water and place it on low-medium flame
* let the kadhi come to a boil and reduce for about 20-25 mins, until the raw taste of besan is lost
At the 10 min or so point, add the chopped kale and let it cook with the kadhi
* If the kadhi thickens while reducing, feel free to add more water. You want to end up with a fairly runny consistency and there is no limit on how much water you add to make it happen.
* At the end, in a separate pan, add oil. Once hot,add mustard seeds, cumin, hing and red chillies (in that order after the previous one sizzles in the hot oil)
* While still hot, add the tempering to the kadhi and simmer for 2-3 mins
* Serve hot by itself or on basmati rice.
* Kadhi reheats easily in the microwave. Note, always to heat the kadhi before eating. Cold kadhi is just wrong!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Karanji | Sweet Coconut Empanadas

 I am so excited its Diwali, it is by far my most favorite of Indian festivals. I think it has to do with the extended celebrations of five days and the focus it has on various family relationships. There is a day assigned to celebrating your spouse, a day for your brother, a new years day and a day to celebrate, worship and welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. That pretty much covers all the important relationships, don't you think?

Diwali does represent the triump of good over evil , and that central theme of this holiday fills us all with hope that if we continue to be good human beings, at the end of the day, we will come out winners in life!

So, I wish you all a very Happy Diwali and a Happy New Year with your families, if you celebrate it.

I was eager to post this today, but I need more time to pull the recipe together. I will come back and update this post with the recipe in a day or so!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creamy Tomato Soup

What a busy week it has been. I'm being sucked into the vortex of kiddie birthday parties. Once you are in, you can never get out. As much fun as it is for the kids, its the same old, same old routine for the parents. The last four birthday parties I've been to have been at the same kids gym location. The same place, the same routine, the same pizza. I think I'm ready for a change of scene. A change of food scene atleast.

So today I decided to make myself a nice light creamy (light & creamy? stay with me!) tomato soup. Its been windy and cold in the NYC area and the sun has been its usual deceptive self around this time of year. After being in and out of the house for the umpteenth time today, I cozily settled in to have my soup and boy, did it deliver. The right amount of heat - from its spice and its temperature. 

Not strained, hence a richer red color

The soup is vegan and the "creaminess" comes from coconut milk.Since I used coconut milk, the soup was pretty light. The soup also has some standard indian spices, to give it a twist from the traditional recipe. It really worked for me, I hope you like the combination too.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Vegan Rice Bowl

Some meals make me wonder if they are blogworthy. Do folks visiting my blog expect something new and interesting or just want to see what meals I spin up in my kitchen? Does a bowl of veggies and brown rice qualify? I'm putting all that pressure aside, and talking about my most favorite meal these days - this rice bowl! I not only love it, I crave it!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


One of the things I miss most about being away from home is the feeling of belonging. Come September, everything back home bursts into a festive celebration. I don't care much for the public madness that goes on in the name of festivals and the gaudiness of the music blaring everywhere. What I miss is the feeling of being home, with my parents and how everything at home starts feeling special.
Since I moved away from home, I've come to appreciate that time with my family a lot and I miss it dearly.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Indian-Chinese food is one of my favorite fusion cuisines. Its a great combination of flavors for an indian palate but is different enough from your usual Indian fare. I'm a huge fan. Eating out at indo-chinese restaurants (there are several of those, especially in the NYC area) is great but a high calorie affair. Almost everything is fried before its tossed in a corn starch/soy sauce concoction. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Its been quiet around this blog for a bit. I spent a whole week and a half cooking various things that seemed like a good idea in my head. Most of them ended up being kitchen duds! A couple of recipes that worked were still lackluster. But then, this afternoon, I started thinking about making an omelette for dinner. Usually, when I get omelettes for breakfast, the hashbrowns are my favorite part! So when I figured I could work potatoes into my omelette, there was no turning back!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

A friend of mine recently gave me a statistical analysis of my blog posting habit. I posted about 17 times in July, 12 in August and 3 in September (or some such numbers!). I love data, it makes everything black and white. The message was loud and clear - I was losing momentum. And I don't want to lose momentum. I'm very excited about food and I love food and I that's not something I want to neglect. Along with the food, I love the interaction with my fellow bloggers and I look forward to it just as much. So here I am with a new recipe

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tofu Tikka

Tofu Tikka - say that 5 times, without giggling! I've parked my toddler in front of the Ipad so I could come back to this space and post something new. I'm a horrible mother - but I can tell he is really enjoying "the wheels on the bus" for the 50th time.

I'm going a bit Tofu crazy because I'm trying to add more protein in my diet. I've been making stir frys and such and even tried tofu lettuce wraps (they were a disaster!). With some left over tofu, I wanted to do something different and recently on some blogs I read regularly, I saw Tofu Tikka and Paneer Tikka and figured I'd give it a shot. Although I got inspiration from those blogs, I just went with my usual tikka recipe to make the marinade for this.
Notice the lettuce rolled next to the tofu - I did infact end up eating this as a "lettuce wrap" - and thanks to the strong flavors in the tofu, it worked well. (as compared to my previous disaster - which I want to stop thinking about)

Ok,I can only handle so much guilt. Off I go to race cars!

Prep Time :1 hrServes:1-2 people
Cooking Time :15 mins
>1/2 cup Low Fat Yogurt
>1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
>1 tsp Cumin Powder
>1 tsp Coriander Powder
>1/2 tsp Turmeric
>3 oz Extra Firm Tofu
>1/2 Red Bell Pepper
>1/2 Red Onion
> pinch Chaat Masala (for garnish)
>Cilantro (for garnish)
*Mix all spices into the yogurt and add salt to taste. Thin the yogurt with a little water
*Slice tofu into 1/2 inch thick slices and marinate in the yogurt. Let stand for 1 hr (or more)
*Heat a grill pan and brush with a little oil or use an oil spray
*Place tofu on the grill pan and grill for 2-3 mins till nice grill marks appear. Turn and grill other side.
*While Tofu is grilling, cut pepper and onions into bite size pieces similar in size as tofu
*Toss the peppers and onions in the left over yogurt marinade and thrown on the grill
*Grill veggies until grill marks appear 2-4 mins
*Serve with a pinch of chaat masala, squeeze of lemon and garnish with cilantro

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Baingan Bharta | Indian Roasted Eggplant

Having been one of those picky eaters as a kid, things as exotic as Eggplant would never ever find its way to my dinner plate - unless it was battered and deep fried - at which point, it could've been anything!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pearl Couscous Salad with Pistachio crusted Goat Cheese

I really look forward to Labor Day weekend. Every year the two of us take the whole week off and have several things lined up that we look forward to. Its the end of summer, so we try to pack in as many summer activities as we can. Its US Open week - and we visit the Open every year. I'm a huge tennis fan and I really look forward to it. Its also our anniversary during labor day week, so it just makes sense that we make it a fun week for us! And fun it has been. I can't believe its friday already and the weekend jitters are setting in.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kung Pao Tofu

Tofu changed my life!
Yeah, that's a big statement, but you see, there is a whole Indo-Chinese cuisine back in India that does Chinese food using Paneer (an indian cheese). So until I moved to the US eons ago, I had never had Tofu!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chickpea Salad on Baked Wonton w/ Tamarind Sauce | Indian Chaat

I love to snack and graze all day - which most healthy eating experts will tell you is just bad for weight management. So when I'm faced with a snack attack - I want to make something that's quick, healthy and most definitely tasty! 

With an indian palate, I gravitate towards complex sweet/sour/spicy flavors and Indian Chaat always comes to mind. Chaat is yet another street food found in India - which comprises of various dishes that are a combination of some kind of beans (mung, chana, white chana) with onions, boiled potatoes topped with spicy (green and red chilli) chutneys and sweet (tamarind/dates) chutneys to create the complex flavors.

The healthy factor of these dishes are debateable - my friend always argues with her nutritionist that Chaat contains legumes and salads and is therefore healthy, all the while ignoring elements such as a fried base and sweet (read sugary) sauces. Yeah, my friend argues with her nutrionist!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Peas Pesto Crostini

Its no news that I love food, but when good food is easy to put together, I get excited and giddy!
That's because the distance between my mouth and good food is short! My most favorite part about food is eating it (D'oh!)! Hear me out. Unlike others who love to feed others, I'm only thinking about the gratification that comes with taking that first bite of something I've been thinking about all day!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Balsamic Mushroom & Pesto Feta Sandwich

Its only Tuesday. The week already feels like too much work.I've grown to appreciate routines but I don't enjoy them much. They do make life seem so mundane. I'd rather be true to the free spirit I am. Life however, doesn't lend itself to that. Especially when you make choices such as a career in Corporate America, a mortgage and a bad shopping habit that requires that job in Coporate America. So, for now I am slave to this 5 day work week/2 day weekend structure.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mung Bean Sprout & Chickpea Tostada with Cilantro Chimichurri

If you are anything like me, all those news articles with health claims grab your attention, and no matter what, you have to click that link. If I lost an ounce of weight for every article I read , I'd be waif thin.So I have to remind myself, reading these articles dont make you healthy, incorporating the habits do! I am a bit hard on myself about these things, I think I need to embrace my 80/20 rule of eating well/healthy 80% of the time and then allowing the slip ups about 20% of the time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

It was one of those weeknights, when everything went better than expected. Everyone was fed and happy, ktichen was back in order, toddler was cooperating and I was secretly praying not to jinx it. After the little being was asleep at a decent hour, I tiptoed downstairs, wondering what I was going to do with all this free time. I knew I was in the mood for..

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pesto and Cheese Mini Lasagna

This week I kept looking for food inspiration high and low. I just didn't find it. Not that I wasn't cooking this week, I just wasn't inspired. My fridge was loaded with produce, cheese and bread but I didn't know what direction to go in. I wondered why. It has been a busy week - work has been demanding, home always needs some attention, a two year old is a full time job in itself. Trying to keep everyone's routine and working on fixing a toddler's sleep cycle, has taken a toll on my already taxed mind.

I did however find the time (it was me time) to read all my favorite blogs and see what everyone has been upto. The more blogs I read, the more impressed I am by the vast talent pool. I have been reading blogs for years now, but I've discovered a whole new set of wonderful blogs more recently. Besides reading these blogs, having my own blog allows me to interact with all these virtual personalities!
A lot of folks have been trying new things in their kitchens and others have been trying their hand at current trends (popsicles anyone?) But each blogger brings delight through whatever creativity they are applying in their kitchens.

As I went from blog to blog, I felt my motivation coming back, slowly. As I read the blogs, some recipes started taking shape in my mind. I found myself tinkering in the kitchen again and getting my mojo back.
It really is rewarding being around talented people. I draw so much inspiration from the wonderful blogs here and I'm so glad I'm able to participate in my small way.

This mini lasagna here, is also a great source of inspiration for me. The layers are made from wonton wrappers rather than traditional lasagna sheets. Remember, wonton wrappers are only 20 calories each! The possibilities with these wonton wrappers to make lasagna are endless. What's wonderful also is that you can make single portions of this lasagna - which works great for me.

I love basil pesto so I wanted to make a cheese and pesto layered lasagna. But I didnt want to stop there, since these are so easy to make, I also wanted to try a more traditional version with a marinara sauce. And for some reason (too many zucchinis in the fridge?) I wanted to incorporate a vegetable (zucchini). So, I ended up making two instead of one.
You will see these are so easy to make that you really could customize them to any number of people for a family dinner or for a dinner party with friends. You could let each person assemble their own and they bake it 20-25 mins, so it's ready in  good time to feed hungry folks!


I used both basil pesto and sundried tomato pesto to make layers, in addition to two types of cheeses - feta and mozzarella.

I used my bottled basil pesto but made the sundried tomato pesto -  like so. Remember , these lasagnas need very small amounts of everything, so don't make a big batch, unless you are planning on using it elsewhere.

Grind together sun dried tomatoes in oil (drain the oil), clove of garlic , 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 basil leaves and a little grated parmesan cheese.

- 1 tbsp basil pesto, thinned with olive oil.
- 1 tbsp sundried tomato pesto
- 2 oz feta cheese
- 2 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 10-12 wonton wrappers
- grated parmesan cheese

- Assembly of these lasagnas is pretty easy. In an oven safe bowl, start with a wonton wrapper and layer a small amount of basil pesto and top with another wonton wrapper.
- Layer sundried tomato pesto on top and cover it with another wonton wrapper.
- Layer on some feta cheese, then another wrapper and then mozzarella. Repeat the process with another round of all 4 layers.
- Top with more mozzarella cheese.
- Prehead oven to 350 degrees and cover the bowl with aluminium foil and bake for 20 mins.
- Remove from oven, take the foil off and bake for another 5 mins to let the cheese get bubbly on top.
- Before serving, grate some parmesan cheese on top.


This version is very similar to the one above, except I've layered with basil pesto, marinara sauce , mozzarella and zucchini.

- 2 tbsp marinara sauce (home made or bottled)
- 1 tbsp pesto thinned with olive oil
- 1/4 medium zucchini -sliced on a mandolin
- 2-3 oz Mozarella cheese
- Grated parmesan cheese

- Season the sliced zucchini with salt and pepper. I also added a little red chilli flakes. Optional.
- Layer the sauces, zucchini and cheese between each wonton wrapper, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 mins.
- Remove foil and bake for another 5 mins to get cheese bubbly and top with parmesan cheese before serving.

Note - I found the one with marinara was more moist than the one with pestos and was a lot closer to a real lasagna. If I did these over, I would've added marinara to the ones with basil and sundried tomato pestos as well. The flavors however, were lovely in both!