December 31, 2014

Christmas Holiday Fruit Cake

Here is my last post for the year. Christmas and the holiday season brings a lot of memories for Malayalees.  One such memory would definitely be a piece of dark flavorful fruit cake. It is probably a representative flavor of the season and will be something that every Malayalee would have had over the years during this season. Initially when we moved to the US, we were not able to find Kerala style fruit cake here and I started to attempt to bake my versions of it. This is one cake I have been making for the past 14 years, though I have been refining the recipe every year based on our increased awareness about food and the cooking ingredients used. Nowadays, even though we can buy the Kerala fruit cake from any Malayali bakery, we still stick with our homemade version. This is the latest version of my christmas holiday fruit cake. It is made with all organic and pure ingredients, yet not compromising much on the flavor. Though, this recipe has egg, I have made eggless versions of this in the past without compromising much on the texture or the flavor. We end up making between 3-5 cakes during the 10 days as all of us love it and I hope you do too. I am making one for this New Year's eve as well.



Wishing all of you a very Happy, Healthy, Safe, Peaceful & Prosperous 2015 !!! 

Ingredients:
  • Unrefined coconut palm sugar - 3/4 cup + 2 Tbs. 
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1/2 cup
  • Organic free range eggs - 2
  • Unbleached all purpose flour - 3/4 cup
  • Sprouted spelt flour - 3/4 cup
  • Mashed banana - 1/2 cup
  • Baking soda - 3/4 tsp
  • Ground cinnamon - 1 tsp
  • Ground nutmeg - 1/4 tsp
  • Ground dried ginger - 1/2 tsp
  • Ground cloves - 1 tsp 
  • Sea salt - 1/4 tsp
  • Raisins - 1 cup
  • Mixed dried fruit - 1 cup (goji berries, chopped apricot, chopped dried plums etc)
  • Cashew nuts - for garnish
To soak the dried fruits:
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice - 1 cup 
  • Myer's Jamaican dark rum - 1 cup (see notes) 
  • Ground cinnamon - 1 tsp
  • Ground nutmeg - 1/2 tsp
  • Ground dried ginger - 1 tsp
  • Ground cloves - 1 tsp 
Directions:
  • Soak the dried fruit along the spices in orange juice and rum for a day up to a week. 
  • When ready to make the cake drain the dried fruits, squeeze out excess liquid, mix 1/4 cup of flour with the dried fruits, stir until coated and keep aside. Reserve the rum-juice mixture. 
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch cake pan with coconut oil or line with parchment paper. You can also use 3, 4-inch pans or 2, 6-inch pans.
  • In a small bowl, add the remaining 1 1/4 cups of flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together coconut sugar and coconut oil until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one and beating well. Add mashed banana and 2 Tbs of the reserved rum-juice mixture, mix well. 
  • Add the flour mixture and mix till moistened. Beat with the hand mixture on medium speed for about 2 minutes, do not over mix.
  • Add the flour coated dried fruits, mix to incorporate well. 
  • Pour the mixture into prepared cake pan(s). Level off the surface with a spatula and arrange cashew nuts on top. Bake at 325 deg oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If using 3, 4-inch pans, baking time will be around 50-55 minutes. If using 2, 6-inch pans, baking time will be around 1 hour.
  • Cool upright in pan 5 minutes.(Optionally, while the cake is still hot, you can prick a few wholes in the cake with a toothpick and drizzle rum on top). Remove the cake from pan and cool completely on wire rack.  
  • Enjoy with family and friends for the season!!!

Note: For an eggless version - mix a tablespoon of ground flax with 4 tablespoons of filtered water. Keep aside for 5 minutes till they gel together. This replaces one egg. 


December 29, 2014

Tropical Chickpea Stew

During our recent trip to a middle eastern restaurant, we were having a conversation about chickpeas. During the discussion we found that it is one ingredient that is used in so many cultures, and each one used in a different way, that you cannot make out that they are all from the same ingredient as all of them taste so different. It is probably one of the most common ingredient every ethnic group finds some use in their kitchen. We use chick peas in many ways in India itself, starting with the varieties of channa masala and besan (chickpea flour) used for many snacks. Then we have the hummus from the middle east, the different chickpea stews from the African continent, all the different types of chickpea salads from the Americas and Europe, chickpea soups from Europe and Asia... the list goes on and on. Also chickpeas fits well into many diet regimes, if you are into any.. vegan, gluten-free, paleo, low carb. you name it. Moreover, chickpeas come loaded with nutrients, are high fiber content, low glycemic index, heart healthy and a good source of plant based protein. The phytochemical known as saponins found in chickpeas are good for women's health...all reasons to stock up chickpeas.  Today's recipe is a simple, hearty tropical stew made with chickpeas, baby greens, mango all simmered in spiced coconut milk.  

Ingredients:
  • Chickpeas - 1 cup (soaked for 12 -18 hours)
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs
  • Garlic - 3-4 cloves (chopped)
  • Ginger - 2 Tbs (chopped) 
  • Red chilly - 3-4
  • Tomato - 3 medium (quartered) 
  • Red onion - 1 large (chopped)
  • Baby greens - 2 cups (Spinach, kale, swiss chard  or a mix) 
  • Ripe mango - 1/2 cup (cubes) 
  • Homemade coconut milk - 2 cup (recipe here)
  • Chopped cilantro - 1/2 cup 

Directions:
  • Drain and rinse chickpeas, cook with 1 1/2 cups of water, salt and turmeric powder. Keep aside.
  • Heat 1 Tbs of coconut oil on medium heat and sauté ginger, garlic and when they are slightly roasted, add tomato and red chilly, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from flame, puree the whole thing to sort of a spiced tomato purée. Keep aside.
  • Blend coconut milk and a handful of chickpeas to a smooth consistency. 
  • Heat remaining 1 Tbs of coconut oil and sauté red onion until slightly golden. 
  • Add tomato puree and mango cubes. Cook on low medium heat till mango is soft (for about 3-4 minutes). 
  • Add baby greens, chickpeas and coconut milk-chickpea purée. Simmer on low medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Adjust seasonings and switch off. 
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm. 
  • Enjoy!!




December 25, 2014

Eggless 'eggnog'

Wishing all my friends and readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays !!!
Since we are vegetarians for a month, we are having a simple and quicknhealthy Christmas breakfast. Moroccan anise bread served with African style almond mango stew along with a slice of our homemade eggless christmas fruit cake and 'eggless' eggnog. If you are a vegetarian, or vegan,  or just cannot stand raw egg (like me) and you just like a simple taste, then this recipe is for you.



Ingredients:

  • Homemade coconut milk- 3 cups
  • Cashew nuts - 6
  • Dates - 8-10
  • Cardamom - 5-6 (skin removed)
  • Fresh grated nutmeg - for garnish

Directions:

  • Blend all ingredients to a smooth consistency. 
  • Optionally you can warm it on stove top for a warm eggnog. 
  • Pour into 3 serving glasses and grate nutmeg on each.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Enjoy!!

December 22, 2014

Patra w/ Collard Leaves

Patra is a Gujarati dish which is made with steamed colocasia leaves and coated with a batter made with besan (chickpea flour) or rice flour. My version here is made with collard leaves and the batter is made with soaked channa dal. This can be served as a healthy snack, appetizer or as a side dish which is gluten-free, vegan and quicknhealthy :).




Ingredients:
  • Collard greens - 1 bunch ( about 12 leaves)
  • Channa dal - 1 cup soaked for 6-8 hours
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Lemon juice - from a lemon
  • Asafoetida - a pinch
  • Ajwain/Omam - 1/2 tsp (crushed)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tspn
  • Sea salt - as per taste

Directions:
  • Drain and grind the channa dal with salt, lemon juice and green chilly adding very extra little water (just enough for the blender to run).
  • Add the spices and mix well.
  • Wash the collard greens and wipe them with a kitchen towel. Cut them thru the center and remove the stem. 
  • Lay one collard leaf half with ribbed face up. Take about 2 tablespoons of the batter and spread evenly on the leaf. Lay one more leaf half on top of the first one and repeat the same. Roll them together as tightly as you can.
  • Repeat with the rest of the leaves and batter.
  • Meanwhile keep a steamer or pasta boiler ready with water boiling.
  • Steam the rolled collard leaves for about 10 minutes.
  • Let it cool down a little bit before slicing.
  • Slice them into 1/2 inch thick slices.

For optional tempering:
  • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - few
  • Green chilly - 1-2 slit into halves
  • Chopped coriander leaves - 1/4 cup
Directions:
  • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and add mustard seeds. When they start popping, add cumin and fennel, curry leaves and green chilly one by one. Saute for a couple of minutes, switch off and sliced patra. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 
  • Serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Enjoy!

December 18, 2014

Apricot Energy Bars

How often do you get goodie-bags filled with junk? Yes I know, it is an over debated topic as to whether distributing goodie-bags is a good idea or not. My son does not get much of them nowadays because he is older, but have got a fair share of it in the past, though I have to admit that many parents have been conscious to give my son books rather than candies and other junk.

A few weeks back we were pleasantly surprised to get a goodie-bag at a birthday party hosted by a close friend which was not filled with junk, instead it was filled with real 'goodies'. It had an assortment of healthy organic snacks. My son was pleasantly surprised and loved it, and so did we. This post is inspired from one of those goodies, an Apricot-nut energy bar. I made it right in time when my husband was getting ready for his next travel and  was looking for good snacks for the long haul flight (as we have stopped eating food from flights).

My usual energy bars are nutty and my son always wanted me to make more fruity versions of those. So this is an attempt to satisfy that request as well. These are made with apricots, dates and activated nuts/seeds. Activated nuts/seeds are basically nuts soaked, drained and dried. Soaking time varies for different nuts (read more on the benefits of soaking here).


Ingredients:
  • Apricots - 1 1/2 cups
  • Dates/raisins - 1/2 cup
  • Activated nuts/seeds - 1 1/2 cups
  • Cashews (slightly roasted) or dried shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch
Directions:
  • Powder nuts using a dry blender or food processor. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Chop roasted cashews (if using) roughly into fine bites. If using coconut, you don't need to roast.
  • Chop apricots and dates(or raisins) and add to a high speed blender or food processor, and process to get them mashed almost close to a paste.
  • Transfer to the bowl and mix everything well and form a 'dough'.
  • Preheat oven to the lowest temperature (mine is at 170 deg F).
  • Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick sheet. Cut out 1x4 inch rectangle bars. Repeat till the whole dough is used up. 
  • Arrange the bars on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. 
  • Let them cool down. Wrap them or just store in an air tight container.
  • Makes 16 bars. Pack'em and Enjoy'em !



December 15, 2014

Green Mango Quinoa

Raw mango could take on different meanings. We have always called the green sour mango as raw mango, while in these parts raw mango is the ripe mango fruit eaten raw. Anyway, what I mean by raw mango is the green and sour un-ripened mango. So the raw mango is very widely used ingredient in Indian cuisine and they are great addition to make any bland dish to a lip puckering one. One of our favorite dish with it is the raw mango rice, but what we have for today is a take on it using quinoa. Here is a great blend of Indian and South western tastes which can be put together in under 30 minutes. It is a perfect warm meal for a winter day.


Ingredients:
  • Quinoa - 1 cup (soaked overnight or up to 24 hours)
  • Green Mango - 1 large
  • Garlic - 4-5 cloves
  • Green chilly - 2-3
  • Chopped cilantro - 1/2 cup
  • EV olive oil - 1 Tbs
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Chopped almonds - 2 Tbs 
Directions:
  • Drain and rinse quinoa well. Cook with 1 cup of water. Keep aside.
  • Remove skin from mango and chop very fine. I use my vitamix at a low speed to chop really fine.
  • Slice garlic, green chilly and chop cilantro
  • Heat olive oil on medium heat and add garlic and green chilly. Saute till garlic is roasted well.
  • Add chopped mango, cilantro, cooked quinoa and salt. Adjust seasoning and switch off. 
  • Garnish with chopped almonds and extra drizzle of EV olive oil. 
  • Serve warm as a light lunch or as a side dish. 
  • Enjoy!!


December 13, 2014

Cranberry Puliyogare

Cranberry is one of those seasonal things that we love. In fact, a lot of people do not really know that cranberry is a sour sweetless fruit as they always associate it with cranberry juice, syrup and crainsins, all loaded with additional sugar. I never liked that cranberry, but the real fresh cranberry is a whole different story, it is awesome and can be used in so many different ways. This recipe is a South Indian classic called Puliyogare.

Puliyogare is a traditional dish and can be eaten at any time of the day :-). As the name suggests, it has a sour/tangy taste. This rice dish gets the sour taste from tamarind (and from lime in some parts). It is also a staple at most temples as a prasadam. This is the case in tbe US as well where most temples serve this dish and we have always look forward to it as part of the temple visits :-). 

Many of our traditional dishes call for sour ingredients like raw mango, tamarind, lime, cocum, etc. and cranberry is a great substitute for each of them. Being seasonal and packed with nutrients is an obvious bonus, along with the color it can bring to all dishes.


For puliyogare powder:

Ingredients:

  • Horse gram - 3 Tbs
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Red chilly - 3-4 
  • Asaphoetida - a pinch
Directions:
  • Dry roast the ingredients one by one, cool down and grind them using a dry blender or coffee grinder.
For puliyogare:

Ingredients:
  • Raw rice - 1 cup (I used Jasmine rice, but Basmati or other varieties work fine too)
  • Fresh cranberries - 1 cup
  • Sesame oil - 2 Tbs
  • Urud dal - 1 Tbs
  • Peanuts - 2 Tbs
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Red chilly - 1-2
  • Sea salt - as per taste 
Directions:
  • Cook rice with 1 3/4 cups of water. Keep aside. 
  • Heat oil on medium heat and add mustard seeds, urud dal, peanuts and red chillies. 
  • Once the mustard seeds pop, and urud dal and peanuts golden, add curry leaves and saute for a few seconds.
  • Add cranberries and saute till cranberries pop and become soft. Add the puliyogare powder and salt, mix and mash well. Adjust seasonings and switch off.
  • Add the cooked rice and mix well. 
  • Serve warm. Enjoy!!



November 27, 2014

Quick'n'Healthy Thanksgiving 2014

Herzliche Danksagung’, Feliz Día de Gracias, felice ringraziament, Joyeux Action de grace, 感謝幸せ, سعيد عيد الشكر, God Helgdag, Happy Thanksgiving !!!

Thanksgiving is one of my family's favorite annual festivals for many reasons, the primary being that it is to being thankful to family, friends and the higher element for what we have, such a honest and noble feeling. Another reason is it gives an opportunity to meet with close ones. And then being the foodies we are, it is an opportunity to try out new recipes that is in the true spirit of the season. This year we are going global with our menu by having one dish from every continent. Doing this to symbolize the need to live in harmony together with all people in the world, no matter what race, religion, culture, region, cast, gender and preferences they have. 

We see so many wars and sufferings around the world just because some of us cannot accept the faith and practices of others. Would it not be so good if we can all accept that we are all different, but yet live together happily by looking at what we have in common. What better way to express this than having a menu mixed from all continents and showing that they do make up for a great meal. If only all of us live in the same way too. In a way, this is the spirit of Thanksgiving too. 

Another wonderful thing about food is that it can bring people of different backgrounds together. In fact one of the first thing that people embrace from a new land is the food. As I was researching for my global menu we realize that the world is truly a global village as food from one part of the world has influences from a completely different part of the world. I found that the Portuguese salad I choose from Europe is also very popular in some parts of South America. Likewise, the African stew has influences from India/Asia. This is true for every recipe and so it made my global menu truly global. Over the past few years we have been having a vegetarian menu on TG, with a lot of seasonal produce from our local farmer. It is also a time to thank the small farmers for the toil they do all year to give us honest produce. 

Here is our Thanksgiving menu:
I don't have any recipes written up for today, I promise that they will be coming soon :-)

Africa - African Peanut Pineapple Stew:

Ingredients:
  • Pineapple  - 1/2 medium 
  • Honey nut squash - 1 small (or any other squash)
  • Collard greens - 4-5 leaves 
  • Concentrated tomato  puree - 1 cup (see notes below) 
  • Organic peanuts - 1 cup (roasted)
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1 - 2 cups (depending on consistency desired) 
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Ginger - 2 Tbs (minced)
  • Garlic - 2 Tbs (minced)
  • Red onion - 1 (diced) 
  • Red chilly - 4-5 (as per spice level) 
  • Sea salt - as per taste 
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp 
  • Chopped cilantro - 1/2 cup 

Directions:
  • Pineapple - remove skin and core and cut into small pieces
  • Squash - remove skin and seeds, cut into small pieces 
  • Collard greens - remove the stem and cut into 1 inch square pieces.
  • Roast the peanuts on medium heat for 8-10 minutes or till you hear the skin popping. Keep aside.
  • Heat coconut oil in a soup pot or a heavy bottom pan. Add ginger, garlic, red chilly and onion. Saute till onion is slightly golden. 
  • Add tomato puree, sautéed ginger-garlic-onion-chilly, 3/4 cup of roasted peanuts along with coconut milk into a blender jar and puree well. 
  • In the same soup pot (or pan) add pineapple and squash and start cooking covered on medium heat. Let them cook on their juices. When almost done, in about 10 minutes, add collard greens and cook till just wilted. 
  • Add the pureed gravy, turmeric powder and salt and simmer on low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Adjust taste and remove from flame. 
  • Garnish with remaining roasted peanuts and chopped cilantro.
  • Serve over cooked rice, couscous or just like that as a soup.
  • Enjoy!

Concentrated tomato puree: Start cooking quartered tomatoes on medium heat. Cook for about 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally till most of the water is evaporated. Let it cool and puree to get a concentrated tomato puree. Can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated for a few days. It is a big time savor for soups and stews.




Asia - Vietnamese Lemongrass Fried Rice:

Ingredients:
  • Organic Jasmine rice - 2 cups
  • Lemongrass - 4 stalks 
  • Scallion - 5-6  (sliced thin)
  • Red onion - 1 (chopped)
  • Garlic - 4-5 cloves (sliced thin)
  • Organic peanut oil - 3-4 Tbs
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Roasted peanuts - a handful for garnish 
Directions:
  • Cook Jasmine rice with 3 1/2 cups of water. Let it cool completely.
  • Take off very mature outer skin from lemon grass (you can reserve it to make lemongrass tea). Cut the remaining tender parts into small pieces. Add to a blender or food processor and mince well. Take care not to leave out any bing chunks. 
  • Heat peanut oil and add minced lemongrass and saute for 5-10 minutes on low medium heat till the lemongrass is infused into the oil well, and you get nice aroma. 
  • Add chopped garlic and red onion and saute till slightly brown.
  • Add green onion and cooked rice and salt. Mix well without any big lumps.
  • Switch off and garnish with roasted peanuts.
  • Enjoy!




Australia - Australian Lentil Shepherd's Pie:

Ingredients:
  • Purple Sweet Potato - 1 medium (or 2 small) 
  • Garnet yam - 2 medium (or 3 small) 
  • Lentils - 1 cup (I used soaked and sprouted mixed lentils) 
  • Cauliflower - 2 cups (broken into small florets) 
  • Concentrated tomato puree - 1/2 cup
  • Garlic - 3-4 cloves (minced)
  • Red onion - 1 (chopped)
  • Green chilly - 3-4 (minced)
  • EV olive oil - 2 Tbs
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Sharp cheddar cheese (vegetarian) - as needed to grate on top 

Directions:
  • Boil sweet potato and yam till they can be easily mashed. Keep aside.
  • Heat olive oil, add minced garlic, chopped onion and minced green chilly. Saute till onion is slightly golden.
  • Add tomato puree and lentil and cook covered for 15-20 minutes till lentils are almost done and liquid is mostly absorbed.
  • Add cauliflower and salt and continue cooking till cauliflower and lentils are done just right, for about 5-10 more minutes.
  • Add mashed purple sweet potato and mix well. Remove from flame.
  • Grease a baking tray with a pat of olive oil. Spread the lentil veggie mixture evenly in a layer. Spread the mashed garnet yam on top. Grate cheddar cheese on top and bake for about 15 minutes or till top is slightly golden.
  • Serve warm. Enjoy!



Europe - Chickpea Antipasto Salad w/ Basil Walnut Pesto:

Ingredients:

  • Chickpeas - 1 cup (soaked for several hours) 
  • Yellow/Orange bell pepper - 2
  • Garlic - 1 bulb
  • Pickled olives - 1/2 cup (assorted - rinsed and drained)
  • Basil leaves - 2 cups (loosely packed)
  • Garlic cloves - 2 
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Walnut - handful 
  • EV olive oil - 2-3 Tbs
  • Sea salt - as per taste
Directions:
  • Preheat oven 400 degree F
  • Rinse and drain the chickpeas and cook well. Let it cool.
  • Keep the bell peppers on a baking sheet and bake at 400 deg for about 15-20 minutes till roasted and skin is bubbled. Take out and let it cool. Once they are are cold enough to handle, remove the skin and dice into small chunks. 
  • Cover the garlic bulb with foil and bake at 400 deg as well for about 20 minutes till roasted but not mushy. Take out and let it cool. Once they are cold enough to handle, remove skin and separate the cloves.
  • Toss the chickpeas, bell pepper chunks, olives and roasted garlic together. 
  • Add basil, walnut, garlic and green chilly into a mortar and pestle and make a chunky pesto. Add salt and olive oil and whisk well.
  • Add the pesto to the salad and keep aside till ready to serve.
  • Serve at room temperature.
  • Enjoy!



North America - Apple Pie and Warm Apple Cider:

Ingredients:

Crust:  

  • Almonds (activated) - 1 1/2 cups
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Walnuts (activated) - 1 1/2 cups
  • Pitted dates - 1 1/2 cups 


Pie:


  • Apples - peeled and cored and chopped. (I used 3 different kinds Empire, Gala and Mutsu)
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Ground cinnamon - 1 tsp
  • Dates - 1/2 cup
  • Chia seeds, ground  - 2 Tbs (can substitute with flax seeds, but chia works best)


Directions:
Crust:

  • Place almonds in a blender or food processor and process until mixture resembles flour. Add salt to the almonds and process well. 
  • Add walnuts, and dates to the and process just until combined and forms a 'dough'
  • Preheat oven to the lowest temperature (mine is at 170 deg F) 
  • Press the nut mixture(dough) into a 9-inch glass pie pan. 
  • Bake for about 30 minutes. Keep aside till you are ready with the filling. This can be made ahead of time.
Pie:
  • Place 1 apple (roughly chopped), sea salt, cinnamon and dates in a food processor or blender. Process the mixture until it is almost the consistency of 'applesauce'. 
  • Chop the remaining apples into fine pieces or thin slices. 
  • Add the chopped apples and 'applesauce' into a mixing bowl. Stir in ground chia seeds, mix well, and set aside for 15-30 minutes. The chia will soak up the juice from the apples. This can also be prepared ahead and refrigerated.
  • 30 minuted before serving the pie, preheat oven to the lowest temp (mine is at 170 deg F). Pour the apple mixture into the prepared pie crust. Bake for about 30 minutes (not really baking, just to serve a 'warm' apple pie which is well suited for the cold weather). 
  • Slice and serve immediately.
  • Enjoy!!


Warm Apple Cider:


Ingredients:
  • Apples - 3 (I used 3 different kinds Empire, Gala and Mutsu) 
  • Raisins - a small handful 
  • Cinnamon stick - 1(crushed) 
  • Cloves - 4-5 
  • Ginger - 2 Tbs 
  • Filtered water - 3 cups
Directions:
  • Add cubed apples, along with the spices, raisins and water into a soup pot or pressure cooker.
  • Cook till apple is cooked just enough.
  • Once cooled down, run everything coarsely using a blender. 
  • Pass thru a nut milk bag or a cheese cloth and squeeze out the juice. 
  • Serve warm. This makes 4 to 5 servings. Enjoy !! 


South America - Quinoa and Feijao Verde com Coentro e Alho (Green Beans w/ Cilantro'n'Garlic):

Ingredients:
  • Quinoa - 1 cup (Soaked for 24 hours - change water every 8 hours if possible) 
  • Garlic - 4-5 cloves 
  • Green beans - 1 lb
  • Cilantro - 1 cup - chopped 
  • EV olive oil - 1/4 cup
  • Green chilly - 2-3 
  • Sea salt - as per taste
Directions:
  • Drain the quinoa and rinse well. Cook with 1 cup of water and set aside to cool. 
  • Cook the beans (saute, steam cook, boil, any preferred way)
  • Meanwhile, add the garlic, green chilly and cilantro to the mortar and pestle and crush roughly. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Add the hot cooked beans over the crushed garlic-cilantro mixture. Pour olive oil, salt and mix roughly and keep aside for 30 minutes to a few hours. 
  • Before serving, add cooked quinoa and adjust salt and add more olive oil if needed. 
  • Serve at room temperature. Enjoy! 


November 24, 2014

Homemade Yogurt-Coconut Granola

Do you still take store brought breakfast cereals? If yes, then is is time for a rethink. Now what if we can make our own healthy breakfast cereals ahead on weekends?, and that too if they are easy to do and tastes better than those store brought stuff that is highly processed, may contain GMOs and laden with sugar and what not. 

I have made different varieties of homemade granolas before, but since we have started learning about soaking and activating nuts and grains, I have been making less of them. Recently I have been experimenting a lot with soaking and dehydrating my nuts and grains. Maybe it is time for me to invest in a dehydrator. For now, I am using my oven at the lowest temperature setting as my makeshift defydrator. Idea is to keep as much of the nutrients and active enzymes from the ingredints intact by not heating at a higher temperature. In this granola for example, I use soaked oats, soaked nuts, honey and homemade yogurt, and all of them have active nutrients which are high heat sensitive. 




Ingredients:
  • Organic rolled oats - 4 cups
  • Filtered water - 1 cup
  • Homemade organic yogurt - 1 cup
  • Homemade organic ghee - 2 Tbs (optional)
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1/4 cup
  • Raw unpasteurized honey - 1/4- 1/2 cup
  • Himalayan pink salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp
  • Shredded coconut - 1 cup
  • Chopped nuts - 1 cup
Directions:
  • In a bowl, mix yogurt, water, ghee and melted coconut oil. Add oats and let it soak for 24 hours on your countertop.
  • Soak nuts in a seperate bowl in enough filtered water to cover completely.
  • The next day, start by preheating the oven to 175 deg F.
  • Drain the nuts, rinse well with cold water and spread on a clean kitchen towel.
  • Melt honey over warm water, mix cinnamon and salt. Add this along with coconut to the oats mixture.
  • Add drained nuts to the oats mixture too.  
  • Spread on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or silicon liner. Bake at 170 deg F for about 7-8 hours or till completely dry and crispy. 
  • Let it cool completely before storing in air tight containers. 
  • Serve with milk or yogurt along with fresh fruits. Enjoy!!

Recipe source:

November 22, 2014

Purple Puttu

Purple is the color of the season at the QuicknHealthy kitchen :-). I have been using a lot of purple vegetables this season including sweet potatoes, cabbages, potatoes and cauliflowers. Have used the sweet potato more than others this season in a variety of ways. The recipe today is a variation of a staple breakfast from Kerala. 'Puttu' is very nostalgic to every malayali. They are steaming hot rice cakes traditionally made with roasted rice flour, slightly moist, put in a cylinder shaped mold with layers of coconut and steamed. Most non-malayalees find it hard to understand how the rice powder holds together to stay in shape, and that is a secret known only to us mallus :-). In olden days, when people used to work in the fields, it was probably a good idea to eat a high carb breakfast like this one. I think it is not really a good idea for people like us, who sit in front of a computer for a living, to do the same. So while we try to indulge in our traditional delicacies we often restrict the quantity. This is a very healthy breakfast if you can control the quantity, as it is made of whole grains, has good fat from the coconut and is steamed. We could also make it with whole grain rice varieties, instead of white rice and also with other grains/seeds (whole grain rice varieties like black rice & red rice, millets, quinoa, etc). In today's recipe I have substituted half the rice with purple sweet potato.  It needs a little prep work ahead of time, but then homemade food always come with some amount of prep and planning. 

Ingredients
  • Rice flour - 1 cup 
  • Purple sweet potato - 1 (medium)
  • Finely shredded dried coconut - 1 cup 
  • Fresh grated coconut - 1/2 - 1 cup 
  • Sea salt - about a tsp (as per taste) 


Directions:
  • To make rice flour, refer to my recipe here. 
  • Roast the rice flour by method 1 - heat a pan on medium heat and roast by keep stirring the rice flour till you get a nice aroma- about 10 -15 minutes. 
  • Or roast the rice flour by method 2 - heat oven at a very low temperature, around 170-180 deg F, spread the rice flour on a baking sheet and leave it in for 20 -30 minutes, till you get a nice aroma. 
  • Let the roasted rice flour cool completely. This can be done ahead of time. This can also be done in big batches and stored in air tight containers. 
  • Boil the sweet potato till cooked just enough (still firm and not mushy). Let it cool completely. Peel and chop it roughly. This can be done ahead of time too.
  • When you are ready to make puttu, measure equal amounts of rice flour, chopped cooked sweet potato, dried coconut. Add along with salt into your blender or food processor and run it slowly so that the sweet potato powders along with the rice flour and coconut to make a slightly moist meal. It should be moist just enough for you to hold together with your palm, but still crumbles on applying a little pressure. 
  • Fill the puttu mold with a small layer of coconut, followed by about 2 handfuls of prepared flour mixture. Repeat till you fill the whole mold. Steam for about 3-5 minutes. 
  • If you don't have a puttu mold, but would still like to try this, you can line your steamer with a clean cheese cloth and use that as your make shift puttu steamer. Just that you will get a flat puttu disk instead of a cylindrical puttu ;-)
  • Serve hot with your favorite puttu accompaniment. It can be enjoyed in many ways. I prefer to have it with a chickpea or lentil curry with a coconut base. My husband prefers it with ghee and honey or coconut sugar, while my son prefers it with a banana (and this combo is a classic). You can also have it with pappadam or the spicy mixture too. 
  • Enjoy!!




November 17, 2014

Purple Olan

Olan is probably is the most simple dish from kerala. This 'semi-cooked seasonal vegetables simmered in coconut milk' is very mild and oh-so-easy to make. There are variations as we go from North to South of Kerala, so why not add a New England fall version too :-). This version of olan is made with purple sweet potato and ash gourd cooked in homemade coconut milk.

Purple sweet potato, which is found mostly during the fall season in our grocery stores, is one of my favorite because of the color it brings to your table. It is also versatile enough to be added to many dishes like mashed potatoes (err..mashed sweet potatoes) for your breakfast, roasted sweet potato salad for your lunch or oven roasted purple sweet potato fries for an evening snack. This season though, I have recreated our favorite olan with purple sweet potato giving it a different color and flavor. Purple sweet potatoes are a high source of antioxidants from anthocyanins which gives them the rich purple color. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, calcium and iron. It also has low glycemic index making it a diabetic friendly carbohydrate.




Ingredients:

  • Purple Yam - 1 medium
  • Ash gourd - 1 lb
  • Homemade coconut milk - 2 cups
  • Green chilly - 2-3
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Sea salt - as per taste

Directions:

  • Wash the yam well, peel skin and slice into thin rounds (about 1/8th of an inch)
  • Peel ash gourd and slice into about 1 inch square disks (about 1/8th of an inch)
  • Start cooking the yam slices along with green chillies slit into half and with 1/2 cup of water on medium heat. Cook covered.
  • While the yam is cooking, you can make the coconut milk.
  • Once yam is half cooked (most of the water will be absorbed by now) add the ash gourd slices and coconut milk and continue cooking. 
  • Once the yam is cooked well, add salt and adjust taste. 
  • Switch off the flame and drizzle coconut oil on top.
  • Serve warm. Enjoy!!


November 12, 2014

Asian Style Coleslaw

What do we do with all those green and purple cabbage that you find in abundance during this season? I have been doing a lot of pickling projects these days. Still mastering the 'kimchi making'..a post will soon follow. Today's recipe though is one of my favorite salads. Though it has been my favorite, it was not selling much with my family until I added an asian touch to it with some peanuts and ginger in the dressing. Fresh purple cabbage and Mutsu apple right from our farm stand mixed with some nice yogurt based dressing strikes a right balance of crunchiness and flavors.

Ingredients for coleslaw:
  • Purple cabbage - 1/4 of a medium head
  • Green apple - 1/2 (Mutsu or Granny Smith)
  • Apple cider vinegar - 1 Tbs
  • EV olive oil - 1 Tbs
For dressing:
  • Organic peanuts - a handful (lightly roasted)
  • Garlic - 1 clove
  • Onion - 1 Tbs (chopped)
  • Fresh ginger - 1 tsp (chopped)
  • Red chilly -1-2
  • Apple cider vinegar - 1 Tbs
  • EV olive oil - 2 Tbs
  • Himalayan salt - as per taste
  • Homemade organic yogurt - 1/2 cup
Directions:
  • Slice the cabbage very thin. Toss with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Keep aside for about 30 minutes or till ready to serve. 
  • Blend dressing ingredients using a blender till nice and creamy.
  • Just before serving, slice apple into thin matchsticks. Mix with cabbage, toss well with the dressing.
  • This serves 2. Enjoy!!



November 9, 2014

Easy 'Cheesy' Kale Chips

These days, you cannot miss seeing packets of kale chips by different brands, big and small, on the shelves of your grocery store. I have tried a few myself. They are an awesome concept for a couple of reasons. You can satisfy your chips cravings with this good alternative. It is also a creative way to eat kale for those who do not care for the vegetable otherwise. I have had couple of issues with the store bought kale chips though. Some of them are too salty for me, and some others tasted rancid maybe because of poor quality of nuts used. Hence I needed to come up with my own version so that I can control the flavors and the ingredients. My version is not raw, but I use the lowest temperature in my oven to mimic dehydration and to preserve as much nutrition as possible. Though, I am calling these 'cheesy' it does not have any cheese in it, but has a cheesy flavor from the nutritional yeast. So try these crunchy delights and you could get hooked on to it. Nothing wrong with that considering this snack is packed with a load of vitamins and minerals from Kale and your vitamin B12 supplement from nutritional yeast. 




Ingredients:

  • Kale - 4-5 medium leaves
  • Cashews - 1/2 cup (soaked for 4-6 hours)
  • Bell pepper - 1 
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Garlic - 1-2 cloves
  • Himalayan pink salt - as per taste
  • Nutritional yeast - 1/4 cup

Directions:

  • Wash the kale leaves, pat dry, remove the stem and tear into chip sized pieces. Keep aside in a bowl.
  • Drain the soaked cashews add them to a blender or food processor jar. Add chopped bell pepper, green chilly, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt and puree till you nice and creamy sauce. 
  • Preheat oven to the lowest temperature (mine was at 170 deg F).
  • Pour the prepared cashew sauce over the kale pieces and mix well to coat evenly.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon lining and spread the coated kale pieces without overlapping much.
  • Bake at 170 deg F for about 4 hours or till completely dry and crispy.
  • Let it cool and store it in air tight container (if there is anything left ;-) 
  • Enjoy!!


November 6, 2014

Honey-Nut-Squash Buckwheat Crepe

If there is one vegetable that you can associate with Fall, it must be pumpkins/winter Squashes. There a quite a few favorite winter squash recipes that I have been making over the years. I am a believer of seasonal local produce because nature is providing you the food it believes is good for the season. So when winter squashes are in season we eat plenty of them. And why not? Winter squash is a low-calorie vegetable, while also a good source of complex vegetable carbohydrates and dietary fiber. It is also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. Here is a recipe for a quick'n'healthy honey nut squash buckwheat crepes. This can be made with any other winter squash (butternut or kabocha). Instead of buckwheat, you can also make these with any millets.


Ingredients:
  • Honey nut squash - 1 cup (cubes)
  • Organic buckwheat groats - 1 cup (where to buy)
  • Organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar - 1 Tbs. (where to buy)
  • Sea salt - as per taste

Directions:
  • Soak the buckwheat in about 1 cup of water and apple cider vinegar for a few hours or overnight.
  • Wash, skin and cut the squash into cubes.
  • Add soaked buckwheat along with soaking liquid into blender jar. Add squash and salt and blend till you get a smooth batter.
  • Add extra water if needed. You can try making one crepe to see if you have the right consistency. You should be able to pour the batter and tilt the griddle around to spread the batter to a circle.
  • This makes about 9 crepes.  Serve with a sweet or savory filling.  
  • I served it with a seasonal cranberry spread. (recipe below)
  • Enjoy :)


Seasonal quick'n'healthy cranberry spread.

Ingredients:

  • Organic cranberries - 1 cup
  • Filtered water - 1/2 cup
  • Organic red grapes - a handful
  • Organic dates - 4-6 (as per sweetness needed) (where to buy)

Directions:

  • Boil water in a sauce pan, add the cranberries and dates and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes till cranberries pop.
  • Remove from flame and let the mixture cool.
  • Blend along with grapes. Consistency will be somewhere in between a spread and a syrup, perfect to go with crepes. 
  • Serve it with crepes along with cut fresh fruits. Enjoy!!



November 4, 2014

Homemade Applesauce

Again another apple recipe that I was hesitant to make all these years, but I gave in to my son this time around. I never attempted it because I did not want to loose the nutrition by cooking apples. I decided to take a balanced approach, which might seem obvious from some of my recent posts. I am trying to find the right balance between the strict mom who looks at everything from the nutritional point of view and a loving mom who wants satisfy her son's cravings with homemade goodies :-).
I have made hot apple cider and apple sauce a few times this apple season. I buy apples from our local farm's apple pie blend, which is a mix of a few different kinds of apples. Mixing up a few different varieties gives the apple sauce a nice mix of sweetness, tartness and other flavors. I did not add any sugar (of course not, as I cannot stray too far from my quicknhealthy principles ;-)). I also did not add any flavor enhancers since we all like food plain and simple, and no preservatives, as we are just making it to consume it this season and not planning to preserve it for later.



Ingredients:
  • Apples - 8 (I used 4 different kinds Empire, Gala, Ginger gold and Mutsu)
  • Any additions or flavor enhancers - lemon juice, cinnamon, orange zest (I just keep it plain) 
Directions:
  • Wash the apples well, remove core and cut each into about 16 pieces. (I leave the skin on for the nice color for my apple sauce and of course for any extra flavor and nutrition that it is going to retain)
  • Add them to a soup pot or any heavy bottom pan. Start cooking covered on very low temperature. 
  • Once the apples start heating up and starts sweating releasing some of its own liquid for cooking, you can bring up temperature to medium. Continue cooking on medium heat. (Add any flavor enhancers at this point).
  • Keep checking and stirring if needed. In about 30-45 minutes, apples should be cooked just enough. 
  • Remove from flame and let it cool completely.
  • Puree using a blender and food processor. 
  • Serve immediately or store refrigerated in glass jars. 
  • This makes about 4 cups of apple sauce. Enjoy!!



October 22, 2014

Sweet Pumpkin Boli (Puran Poli)

Deepavali (Diwali) traditions can be different for different people as India is so very diverse and each state and region has their own legend, tradition and tastes. Our Deepavali tradition have evolved a lot from what we have grown up with to what we do now. For my family, Deepavali (like many other festivals) was celebrated in a low-key way. We did an oil massage and took bath early in the morning, my father would get us a box of assorted sweets and that was about it. My husband's family also did not celebrate Deepavali elaborately, but since they were all big foodies, they had some traditions with the dishes that they made for Deepavali. They make a special breakfast with vadas (deep fried lentil doughnuts) and boli (sweet stuffed flat bread). After we moved to the US, we have kind of made a mix of these along with a few others into our family's Deepavali traditions. Traditions like wearing an Indian attire to work, sharing Diwali goodies and going out for lunch to an Indian restaurant with co-workers.

For today's recipe, I am making the boli with a seasonal touch. Traditionally boli is made with a dough and all purpose flour (maida), and a sweetened lentil filling. I am just giving a seasonal and quick'n'healthy touch to it by making it with whole wheat pastry flour and using sweet pumpkin as the sweet filling. Our farm lady has been asking me to try her newer variety of pink pumpkin. That is what I have used for this recipe. The pumpkin is already sweet to a good extend and hence I did not sweeten it with any added sugar.


Ingredients:
For filling:
  • Sweet pumpkin - 1 cup (cubed, roasted and mashed)
  • Cardamom - 3-4 (skin removed and powdered)
  • Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp (freshly grated)
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch
  • Finely shredded dried coconut - 2 Tbs (optional)


For boli dough:
  • Whole wheat pastry flour - 1 1/2 cups
  • Sea salt - a pinch
  • Pure organic ghee - 1 Tbs + little extra for spreading on the boli
  • Filtered water - 1/2 cup

Directions:
For Filling:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree.
  • Peel and cube the pumpkin into 1 inch cubes.
  • Spread them on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes.  Let them cool down.
  • Once they have cooled down, mash them with a fork.
  • Add freshly grated nutmeg, ground cardamom and keep aside.
  • This can be made ahead and kept refrigerated till you are ready to make the boli.
  • When ready to make, add himalayan salt and optionally add finely shredded coconut (if the filling has extra moisture)

For Boli:
  • Mix all ingredients for dough and make a stiff dough and knead well and keep aside for about 30 minutes. 
  • Divide the dough into 8 equal sized balls. Divide the filling also into 8 balls. 
  • Take one ball from dough, press it with your palms. Keep a filling ball in the middle and cover it with the dough. 
  • Roll it out into 4-5' diameter boli. Repeat for remaining dough and sweet potato stuffing.  
  • Heat a griddle on medium-high heat and the rolled out boli. Once you start seeing small bubbles, flip and cook on the other side. 
  • Repeat this for a couple of times more till bolis are cooked evenly on both sides, it would take about 3-4 minutes in total. 
  • While bolis are still warm, spread a pat of ghee on each side. 
  • Enjoy, Happy Deepavali!! 




October 20, 2014

Choco-Nut Laddus

It is that time of the year when people all over the world start the holiday season. Indians celebrate Diwali irrespective of which part of India they come from, or which part of the world they live in. Different parts of India have different versions of the legends behind the celebrations and the traditions associated with it. One that is common to most must be celebrating Diwali with sweets. There are a variety of sweets made for Diwali depending on geography and the local resources. This time my Diwali sweet has a global touch to it as it has ingredients that come from different parts of the world. Almonds from California, organic peanuts from India,  organic cashews from Vietnam, organic dates from Tunisia, organic coconut palm sugar from SE Asia and a pure form of organic cacao paste from Peru.. yes I made laddus with cacao this time. I was in fact a little afraid if it might turn out to be more of a truffle than a laddu, but I am very happy with the end product. It is a good mix of western and desi flavors :-)

Here's wishing all my friends and readers A Very Happy, Healthy and Peaceful Diwali !!!



Now to my Laddu recipe:

Ingredients:
  • Almonds - 2 cups 
  • Peanuts - 1 cup
  • Cashews - few (optional)
  • Dates - 2 cups (chopped and packed)
  • Raw cacao paste - 1 cup (loose shavings from the block)
  • Coconut palm sugar - 1 cup 
  • Cardamom - 4-5 (skin removed)
Directions:
  • Toast the nuts either in oven (350 degrees for 10-15 minutes) or on medium heat on a pan. Let them cool down. 
  • Once the nuts have cooled down completely, add them to a high speed blender or food processor and process till they are coarsely chopped. 
  • Add dates and continue pulsing till everything starts to flow freely and becomes a coarse meal. You will be a able to hold them to shape at this point. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Powder the coconut sugar and cardamom to a fine powder. Add to the nut mixture.
  • Melt the cacao shavings on warm water till you get to a creamy liquid consistency.
  • Now you can start making the laddus. The trick with good laddu is to roll it to shape while the mix is still warm. So do the next step in batches. 
  • Keep the cacao cream over warm water so that it stays warm and liquidy. Divide the nut mixture into different batches, add cacao (proportionately), mix and immediately start rolling them into walnut sized balls. I apply a little pure homemade ghee on my palms so that my laddus get a nice desi aroma :-)
  • Optionally you can add a few pieces of chopped roasted cashews to each laddu while rolling them.
  • This will make around 30-35 laddus. 
  • Enjoy and Happy Diwali!! 


PS: You see some white laddus in the picture - they are the white versions of the same laddus - just replaced the cacao paste with cacao butter and omitted the dates.



October 16, 2014

Spiced Hot Apple Cider

My son has been asking me to make this hot cider that he had at school. I kept denying because I was not going to cook apple, since cooking will get rid of all vitamin C, and more nutrients might be lost during straining of the pulp. This apple season though, I thought of making it once for his sake. I have to say I am totally sold. The infused spices along with the mildly sweet, sour & crisp apples makes it a perfect formula for a fall evening. I am not claiming this to be a totally quick'n'healthy drink, but if you live in the New England area, and enjoy the fall season, then you definitely should give this a try :). It is so soothing and can be had anytime of the day, best for a cool evening. 




Ingredients:
  • Apples - 3 (I used 3 different kinds Empire, Gala and Mutsu)
  • Raisins - a small handful
  • Cinnamon stick - 1(crushed)
  • Cloves - 4-5
  • Ginger - 2 Tbs
  • Filtered water - 3 cups
Directions:
  • Add cubed apples, along with the spices, raisins and water into a soup pot or pressure cooker. Cook till apple is cooked just enough.
  • Once cooled down, run everything coarsely using a blender.
  • Pass thru a nut milk bag or a cheese cloth and squeeze out the juice.
  • Serve warm.
  • This makes 4 to 5 servings. Enjoy !! 

October 12, 2014

Hot'n'Sweet Beets Pickle

There is a lot of buzz around probiotics these days. Probiotics in simple terms is good bacteria, which is pro-life (no, not the political term, but the real meaning of it). Probiotics are important for your gut health, digestion and improving immunity; to name a few. There are a lot of ways in which you can include probiotics in your food. Probiotics are used across the world by many traditional cultures. Most traditional foods from around the world had their probiotics, just that we might not have thought of them in that manner. Some of the most common foods include yogurt, sauerkraut/kimchi (both are fermented cabbage preparations used across Europe and East Asia), Kefir (used in Eastern Europe and South America), Miso (Fermented Soy used in Japan and east asia), Kombucha (fermented green tea) and a variety of pickles. 

Being from India, I know that the Indian diet has a lot of probiotics as part of our daily diet. First and foremost would be yogurt, which has the good milk culture. From the part where I come from, we use yogurt in a variety of ways. Then there are all kinds of pickled vegetables that we have from different parts of India. I have been pickling all kinds of veggies to supplement our already good supply of pro-biotic from the daily consumption of yogurt. This one is inspired from the beets and dates pickle from the North Malabar area which is enjoyed with Biriyani. It will be a tasty addition to your meals along with providing you some much needed good bacteria :-). We have it 2-3 times a day as it goes well with all kinds of food. 




Ingredients:

  • Beets (root) - 1 medium
  • Carrot - 2 medium
  • Dates - 4-5
  • Green Chilly (or any hot pepper of choice) - according to spice level
  • Ginger - 2 Tbs 
  • EV Olive oil - 3 Tbs
  • Unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar - 2 Tbs
  • Organic pro-biotic powder - 1 tsp (one that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus), Or use 2 tbs of whey from yogurt 
  • Sea salt - as per taste 




Directions:



  • Wash all veggies, peel and wipe dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Grate all veggies, ginger, green chilly and dates into a clean dry bowl.
  • Add olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and probiotic powder (or whey). Mix well, taste, adjust salt. 
  • Pack this into a clear glass jar making sure the veggies are well covered under the brine.
  • Keep this with a tight lid on, on your countertop and let it ferment for a couple of days. 
  • Keep refrigerated for up to a month.
  • Enjoy your daily supply of pro-biotic :-)

October 9, 2014

Hearty Bottle Gourd Soup

Bottle gourd is another neglected vegetable just like ash gourd. Also known as churakka, lauki, sorakkaai in different Indian languages, it is very popular in Indian cuisine. Just like ash gourd, it is simple in taste and comes loaded with nutritious and medicinal properties and is a highly recommended vegetable by Ayurveda. Besides, it reduces fatigue and keeps you fresh, it is rich in thiamin, vitamin C, zinc, iron and magnesium.  Also, bottle gourd fights constipation as it is fiber rich, and bottle gourd juice being alkaline helps with acidity, indigestion and ulcers. Just like ash gourd, it is low in calorie and has high water content  which makes it very diabetic friendly. Today's recipe is yet another simple hearty soup that is great for the fall weather. 



Ingredients 
For Soup:
  • Bottle gourd - 1 small or 1/2 medium. 
  • Fresh ginger root - 1 tbsp
  • Green chilly - 2-3
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Fresh homemade coconut milk (recipe here) - 1 cup
For optional Garnishing:
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves (sliced thin)
  • Red onion - 1/4 cup (chopped) 
  • Lemon juice - 1-2 Tbs 
  • Chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) - 2-3 Tbs 
Directions:
  • Peel and cut the bottle gourd into cubes. You need about 3 cups of cubes. 
  • Add them along with chopped ginger, green chilly and turmeric powder to a soup pot and cook covered (let it cook in its own water - no need to add water) on low medium heat. 
  • Let it cool and puree it completely or just mash and pass thru soup strainer depending on preference. 
  • Add coconut milk and simmer on heat it on low heat. 
  • Optional garnishing : Heat coconut oil on medium heat and saute garlic and onion till slightly brown and add to the soup.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice. 
  • This makes 2 servings. Enjoy!!