March 30, 2014

Quinoa Spelt Pancakes

If you like quinoa, and like to include it in a variety of ways in your meals, you can try this one. Here is a pancake recipe using cooked quinoa which is quick, easy, wholesome and flexible to be made sweet or savory. I have also included gluten-free and vegetarian substitutions which are tested successfully :).



Ingredients:
  • Quinoa - 1/2 cup (Soaked overnight) 
  • Spelt flour - 1/2 cup *
  • Organic free range eggs - 2 ** 
  • Homemade organic yogurt - 1/2 cup 
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
Directions:
  • Drain and rinse quinoa well. Cook with 1/2 cup of water till almost done. Take care not to make it mushy. Let it cool a bit.
  • Mix the flour with salt and baking soda. 
  • Beat eggs in a bowl, add yogurt and mix well. 
  • Add the flour to the wet ingredients and mix well. 
  • Finally add the cooked quinoa and mix well.
  • Heat a griddle and make pancakes. 
  • This makes about 8 small-medium pancakes. 
  • To make this a flexible breakfast, I make this without adding any sweetness or spices. For sweet breakfast, I serve them with raw honey and fresh fruits. For a savory version, I serve with fresh made guacamole or salsa. 



* To Make gluten-free version:
  • Replace the spelt flour with equal amount of sorghum(jowar) or rice flour. 

** To make vegetarian version: 
  • Flax seeds - 2 Tbs (or chia seeds) 
  • Filtered water ~ 1/2 cup
  • Powder flax seeds using a coffee grinder.
  • Mix with water and set aside for 5 minutes to gel up.
  • This will replace 2 eggs. 

Chettinad Style Salmon Curry

Though I grew up as a vegetarian in a pure vegetarian family, I married someone from the coastal part of Kerala. In some of the coastal homes in Kerala, fish is considered as 'vegetarian' and his home was no exception ;-). Though I was not keen initially, I started eating and took a liking to fish while I was pregnant. I started cooking fish after I moved to the US. So my recipes are either recipes that I developed from the taste I remember eating at my in-law's home or recipes passed over phone conversations from my mom-in-law, and the rest are from the internet :-). For somebody who has not grown up eating or cooking fish, I think I make pretty good fish curries, looking at how the two foodies at my home enjoy them. 

Here's a quick'n'easy fish curry which is originally made with any south Indian fish variety, but I generally make it with Salmon. I hear some of my friends say they cannot imagine Salmon with Indian spices, maybe that is because they have not tried it out and hence they don't know what they are missing ;-)

As always, please note that quick'n'healthy only recommends buying and consuming sustainably caught seafood in moderation. 



Ingredients:
  • Set 1:
    • Coconut Oil - 1 tsp
    • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
    • Red chilly - 3-4
    • Garlic-2 cloves
    • Red Onion - 1/2 chopped roughly
    • Tomato - 1 small chopped roughly
  • Set 2:
    • Shredded coconut - 1/4 cup
    • Coriander seeds - 1 Tbs.
    • Tamarind - 1 Tbs (skin and seeds removed) 
  • Set 3 :
    • Coconut Oil - 1 Tbs.
    • Fenugreek  seeds - 1/2 tsp
    • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
    • Red Onion - 1/2 medium - chopped fine
    • Garlic - 3 cloves chopped
    • Tomato - 1 small chopped
  • Set 4:
    • Wild caught Alaskan Salmon - 2 steaks
    • Turmeric powder - a generous pinch
    • Sea Salt- to taste
    • Coriander leaves chopped for garnish
Directions:
  • Clean and cut Salmon into bite sized pieces.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add everything under 'Set 1' one by one and sauté for a couple of minutes and add this  to a blender jar. Add everything under 'Set 2' also to the blender jar. Add a cup of water and grind everything to a fine purée.
  • Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they op , add fenugreek seeds and sauté till slightly red. Add everything else from 'Set 3' and sauté until raw smell leaves. 
  • Add the ground coconut-masala purée and turmeric. Add more water if you need thinner gravy. Add salt and allow it to boil for 15-20 minutes.
  • When gravy reaches desired thickness, check taste and add salmon pieces. Allow it to boil and let the fish to cook well for about 10 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Set aside for a couple of hours for before serving for best taste. Enjoy !!


March 29, 2014

Asian Style Yam Noodle Soup w/ Homemade Sriracha Sauce

Our latest dine-out was at the Mecha Noodle Bar, voted connecticut's best Asian restaurant. It is also one of the better options for a relatively healthy restaurant. They are very considerate if you have a food allergy, or have a food preference. If you are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. they find some way to satisfy you. The best part about them is that they are honest and they tell you where they get their produce, their fish and their meat from. They tell you what is organic and what is not. All meat is definitely organic, and they try to get a lot of vegetables from local farms. The menu is very simple, just 2 kinds of soups, either a Ramen or a Pho. Ramen is a japanese style wheat noodles soup, while Pho is a Vietnamese style rice noodle soup. We had a Vietnamese co-worker in the group and he was so excited to see the menu and the soups, and he certified that the stuff is authentic. Not a bad place to try out after all.  

After trying out their customized vegetarian pho, we are kind of hooked on to the idea of drinking a bowl of warm noodle soup for a weekday dinner. I mostly make it with freshly sliced yam noodles, but sometimes make it with organic soba noodles or udon noodles as well. I certainly do not try to recreate the Mecha recipe, but make my own version with simple ingredients. To top it, I make homemade Sriracha sauce to pep it up :-)




Ingredients:
  • Noodles - 2 yams sliced using spirooli slicer *
  • Homemade made vegetable broth - 3 cups
  • Sliced vegetables - 1 cup
  • Red pearl onion  - 10 (chopped fine)
  • Garlic - 4-5 cloves (crushed)
  • Fresh ginger root - 1 inch piece (grated) 
  • Fresh basil leaves - a bunch
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1 cup  
Directions:
  • Start boiling the yam noodles in broth. Please note that yam noodles will cook in no time, have all other ingredients ready before you start boiling the noodles . 
  • When the noodles is cooked half way thru start adding other ingredients. Sliced veggies, sliced pearl onion, crushed garlic, fresh grated ginger and basil leaves in that order.
  • Once they are almost done well add salt and coconut milk and simmer till everything is done well.
  • Serve warm with homemade Sriracha sauce. 
  • Optionally top with sliced avocados. Enjoy!! 

Quick Homemade Sriracha sauce:



Ingredients:
  • Red chilly powder -1 1/2 tsp
  • Paprika -1 1/2 tsp 
  • Garlic clove - 1 (finely grated) 
  • Unpasteurized Apple cider vinegar - 1 Tbs
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice - 2 Tbs
  • Cold pressed sesame oil - 1 Tbs
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
Directions:
  • Whisk everything together in a small bowl (or if you are making a bigger batch you can use a blender) 
  • Serve with the soup. Enjoy!!

March 27, 2014

Oats & Flax Crackers

Here is another quick'n'healthy homemade crackers recipe.  Made with simple and wholesome ingredients and no sugar or sweeteners added unlike store bought crackers. Serve it as a tea time snack or as soup cracker.



Ingredients:
  • Rolled oats - 2/3rd cup 
  • Spelt flour - about 1/3rd cup 
  • Flax seeds - 2 Tbs
  • Black pepper - 1 Tbs
  • Oregano - 2 tsp
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1/4 cup
  • EV Olive oil - 2 Tbs. 
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Baking soda -  1/2 tsp
Directions:
  • Powder oats and black pepper using a dry blender or coffee grinder. It should be around 2/3rd cup of flour. Add spelt flour enough to make a total of 1 cup.  
  • In a bowl, add the flours, oregano, baking soda, salt and flax seeds. Whisk them well. 
  • Make a well in the middle and add olive oil and coconut milk, mix well. No need to knead,  just try to form a stiff dough. Add a bit more coconut milk if needed.
  • You can keep the dough refrigerated and make crackers later or you make crackers immediately as well.
  • Divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll each into a thin sheet (about 1/8' thick). 
  • Cut each sheet into 1-1/2' squares. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Prick them with a fork.
  • Bake at 350 deg toaster oven for about 15 minutes or till slightly golden. Set aside to let cool completely before serving. Store cooled crackers in an airtight container for up to a week.





March 26, 2014

Black Rice Kanji w/ Roasted Chembu & Thenga Chammanthy

How about some warm and nourishing kanji for a cozy dinner? Kanji is a staple served for breakfast or for dinner in Kerala. It is also known by many other names (Ganji, Congee, Conjee) in many parts of the world, especially in South East Asian countries. It is a basic plain rice soup served with all sorts of condiments. 




Black Rice Kanji:

  • Black rice - 1/2 cup (Soaked for 24 hours)
  • Sea salt  - as per taste

  • Cook drained rice with 3 cups of water till the rice is cooked. There will be plenty of water remaining and that is how we want kanji to be. ( I use pressure cooker and so after just one whistle, I switch it off) 
  • Add salt and that's it kanji is ready.

Rosted Chembu (Taro) 
  • Taro - 2-3 (medium) 
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Freshly crushed black pepper - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Peel taro and slice into thin slices.
  • Heat coconut oil and add taro slices along with turmeric powder. 
  • Roast on medium heat till all slices are slightly browned and done well. 
  • You should add salt and crushed pepper when the taro slices are almost done. 
  • Stir frequently so that they don't burn. (I use my Greenpan for this) 
  • Serve with warm kanji, enjoy!!

    Thenga Chammanthy (Spicy coconut chutney)

    • Fresh coconut slices - 1 cup (dries works fine too) 
    • Tamarind - 1 Tbs (seeds removed)
    • Red pearl onion - 2-3 
    • Red chilly - 3-4 
    • Coriander seeds - 1 Tbs
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Dry roast the coconut slices till they starts to turn slightly pink.
    • Grind everything into a coarse paste (not really paste, it is really somewhere between a coarse meal and coarse paste) 
    • Serve with warm kanji, enjoy!!

    March 22, 2014

    Milk in Cookie Cups

    Milk and cookie must be a western tradition as old as Christmas and Santa. Now how about eliminating the milk glass and directly pouring the milk into a cookie cup? The idea is nothing new. You all must have read or heard about Dominique Ansel and his newest invention the 'milk and cookie shots'. No, I am not going to try and recreate those cookie shot glasses, I am just inspired by the idea. What I made today fits the quick'n'healthy's dessert philosophy which is to make it small and simple. Make them simple with as much wholesome ingredients as possible, and as few ingredients in total. Enjoy this wonderful dessert that has an innovative twist on a traditional dessert :)


    • Organic spelt flour - 1/4 cup
    • Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs
    • Organic coconut palm sugar - 2 Tbs
    • Organic raw cacao powder - 1 Tbs (optional) 
    • Pure vanilla essence - 1/4 tsp
    • Sea salt - a small pinch
    • Organic milk - 1 Tbs

    • Mix everything well to form a stiff dough.
    • Switch on your toaster oven at 350 degrees (you can use regular oven too, I just wanted save some electricity since this is such a small baking job)
    • Divide into 12 small balls. Put them each into mini cupcake tins. (you might want to grease the cupcake tins with a pat of coconut oil.
    • Gently press in the middle with a wine cork.
    • Bake for 4 minutes, take out, repeat the pressing with cork and put it back in the oven.
    • Bake for 4 more minutes, take out, repeat the pressing with cork and put it back in the oven.
    • Bake for 4 more minutes, take out, repeat the pressing with cork. 
    • Leave them in the pan for 5 minutes.
    • Take each cup out carefully and keep them on wire rack to cool them.
    • Serve with cold milk.
    • There will be some amount of seepage, so just pour milk and gobble the milk in cookie cups in one gulp. 
    • This makes about 12 mini cookie cups. Enjoy :-)





    Buckwheat Coconut Crepes w/ Avocado Dill Cream

    People often mistake Buckwheat to be a grain like wheat because of its name, but it has nothing to do with wheat. In fact, it is not even a grain, but a fruit seed making it suitable for people with gluten intolerance and for people who are trying to avoid grains. Buckwheat is a good source of many minerals like magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, and is very high in insoluble fiber. It helps control and blood sugar while also helping to maintain a lower risk of diabetes. Moreover, the protein in buckwheat is a high quality protein containing all eight essential amino acids, including lysine. 



    We try to include buckwheat in our menu, mainly in breakfast. It can be used for porridges, breakfast loaves, pancakes and crepes, and in the summer I also sprout and add them to our salads. Here is a quick'n'healthy crepe which is made from semi-fermented buckwheat batter made from hulled buckwheat and coconut. It is served with a fresh avocado-dill cream making it a wholesome hearty breakfast with good nutrition, plant-based protein and good fat, all of which are very essential for a good breakfast. 


    Ingredients:
    • Organic hulled buckwheat - 1 cup (soaked for 24 hours) 
    • Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar - 1 Tbs (optional) 
    • Shredded coconut - 1 cup 
    • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
    Directions:
    • Wash and rinse buckwheat and soak in 1 cup of filtered water for 24 hours. Optionally add apple cider vinegar to the water to give an acidic soaking medium.
    • Grind buckwheat along with soaking liquid, coconut and salt to a thin batter. Add more filtered water if needed. (I add about 3/4 cup more). Batter should be a thin batter for making crepes. 
    • Heat a cast iron or non-stick pan and make crepes. Pour about 1/4 - 1/3 rd cup of batter and tilt the pan around to shape the crepe. 
    • Serve it with freshly made avocado dill cream (recipe below) 





    Avocado Dill Cream:
    Ingredients:
    • Avocado - 2 (well ripened)
    • Dill - 4-5 stems
    • EV olive oil - 1 Tbs
    • Himalayan pink salt - as per taste
    • Freshly crushed black pepper - 1/2 tsp
    • Lemon juice - 1 Tbs
    Directions:
    • Separate the dill leaves from stem. Chop the tender stems very fine. Roughly chop the leaves.
    • Take out meat from avocado and mash well with a fork.
    • Add all other ingredients and whip well.
    • Serve immediately, enjoy!!



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    March 20, 2014

    Choco-Banana Rolls

    I guess chocolate-banana is one of those classic combinations which cannot go wrong. How about if you bring in coconut to the mix.. and add a doze of raw hemp hearts, and a serving of coconut oil.. yummm...... and that is what I would call a quick'n'healthy treat. This can satisfy your chocolate cravings, it has a good doze of plant based fat and protein, and it is naturally sweet because of bananas and a teeny bit of raw honey. My son has already certified it as one of the best 'quick thingies' that I make :-) Serve it as a dessert, or as quick after school snack, so quick that you can do this in less than 5 minutes.


    Ingredient

    • Dried shredded coconut - 4 Tbs.
    • Raw cacao powder - 2 Tbs
    • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs
    • Raw honey - 1 tsp
    • Ripe banana - 1
    • Raw hemp hearts - 1 Tbs




    Directions:
    • Grind the coconut using a coffee grinder. 
    • In a bowl mix ground coconut, cacao, coconut oil and honey into a thick paste.
    • Apply evenly on banana. 
    • Sprinkle hemp evenly or just spread hemp in a plate and roll the choco-coated banana to get the hemp hearts stick on it.
    • That's all, just slice and serve.. Enjoy!!

    March 18, 2014

    Sachin Style Dinner Menu

    I am not the right person to write about Sachin as I am not a big Cricket fan, but I can definitely write about food, even if it happens to be Sachin's favorite menu. I recently read an article on Chef Girish and his 'Sachin Style Menu', I could not just ignore it as I have two Sachin fans at home who also happen to be big foodies :-). I made the full menu for a recent get-together and here are the recipes with my tweaks. I have to say that if these are really Sachin's favorites, he is in fact a simple man on and off the field. He must be pretty healthy too, looking at these simple, no-nonsense dishes which are mostly vegetarian and are made with an array of vegetables. There are a couple of non-vegetarian dishes too. Please note that Quick'n'Healthy only recommends buying and consuming organic free range chicken, organic dairy products and sustainable seafood, all in moderation.

    Btw, here is what the Sachin fans at home wrote as tribute to him on his retirement:

    Now back to the food, here is the menu...


    Spinach Rice:



    Ingredients: 
    • Rice - 2 Cups (I used organic Jasmine white rice)
    • Small red onion - 1 (chopped fine)
    • Spinach - 1/2 lb (I use 1/2 a box of organic spinach from Costco)
    • Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs
    • Cloves - 4-5
    • Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
    • Whole black pepper corns - 15-20
    • Cardamom - 4-5 
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    Directions:
    • Cook rice with 3 1/2 cups of water and enough salt (I use pressure cooker to cook rice) 
    • Grind the spices to a coarse powder using a coffee/spice grinder.
    • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and sauté onion till slightly pink.
    • Add the spices and mix well.
    • Add chopped spinach, and stir till the leaves are just wilted. (you can sprinkle some extra salt here if the rice is not salty enough) 
    • Add the rice and mix well and remove from flame. 
    • Serve warm. Enjoy! 


    Bhindi Sabzi (Okra in spicy tomato gravy) 


    Ingredients:
    • Okra - 1 lb
    • Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs.
    • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp 
    • Asaphoetida - a pinch
    • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
    • Red onion - 1 medium 
    • Tomato - 2 medium
    • Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
    • Coriander powder -  1 tsp
    • Amchur (dried mando powder) - 1/4 tsp (see notes) 
    • Coriander leaves - 2 stems 
    • Sea salt  as per taste 
    Directions:
    • Wash and trim tips from okra and cut each into 3-4 pieces.  Chop onion and tomato. 
    • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and add cumin seeds. 
    • When cumin seeds are slightly brown, add asaphoetida and turmeric and mix well.
    • Add chopped onion and sauté till slightly golden. 
    • Add cut okra and chopped tomato, add all the spices and stir well.
    • Cook covered for 5 minutes till okra is cooked half way thru.
    • Remove the cover, add salt and continue cooking stirring frequently till okra is done well and there is not a lot of moisture remaining. Take care not to overcook or break the okra pieces. 
    • Serve warm, enjoy!!


    Churakka Sabzi (Bottle-gourd/Lauki in mild tomato sauce)



    Ingredients:
    • Churakka/Lauki/Bottle-gourd - 1 (medium)
    • Tomato - 2 
    • Green chilly - 2-3
    • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    • Asaphoetida (hing/kayam) - a pinch
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs
    • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
    • Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup (chopped)

    Directions:
    • Wash and peel and the bottle gourd and dice into small cubes.
    • Chop tomatoes really fine. Chop green chillies. 
    • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and add cumin seeds. 
    • When cumin seeds are roasted, add turmeric, asaphoetida and green chilly an stir well.
    • Add chopped tomatoes and diced bottle gourd and stir well.
    • Cook covered for 10-15 minutes till bottle gourd is cooked well. Stir frequently to make sure it does not burn. 
    • Once the bottle gourd is almost done well, add salt. Continue till it is cooked well.
    • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.
    • Enjoy!

    Green Chicken:



    Ingredients:
    • Organic chicken - 1 lb
    • Coriander leaves - 1/2 of a medium bunch
    • Garlic - 3-4 cloves 
    • Red pearl onions - 3-4 
    • Green chilly - 2-3
    • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs
    • Homemade organic yogurt - 1 Tbs.
    • Black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp (see notes*)
    • Garam masala - 1/2 tsp (see notes*) 
    • Fennel powder - 1/4 tsp (see notes*)
    • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp 
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    Directions:
    • Wash and cut chicken into bite sized pieces. 
    • Grind coriander leaves, pearl onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies into a fine paste.
    • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and add the ground paste. Sauté till the raw smell of onion and spices go away, for about 5-10 minutes. 
    • Add chicken and yogurt and stir to coat the chicken with the paste well. 
    • Add the spices (see notes*), turmeric & salt and cook covered for 10-15 minutes till the chicken is cooked well.
    • Continue to cook without cover till required consistency is reached. 
    • Serve warm, enjoy!! 


    * Garam masala: 
    I don't buy or store pre-made garam masala or spice powders. Depending on the dish that I am making, I use a variation of spices and make my own spice mixes freshly, using my coffee/spice grinder. For this one above, I made a masala powder using 1/2 tsp of fennel, a small stick of cinnamon, 3 cardamom, 3 cloves and 1/2 tsp of black pepper.


    Baingan Bharta (Grilled eggplant in a spicy, tangy gravy) 



    Ingredients:
    • Italian eggplant - 2 small 
    • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs + 1/2 tsp for the grill. 
    • Red onion - 1 big or 2 small 
    • Fresh ginger - 1 inch 
    • Green chilly - 1-2 
    • Tomato - 1 
    • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp 
    • Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
    • Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
    • Amchur (dried mango powder) - 1/4 tsp
    • Sea salt  as per taste
    • Coriander leaves - 2 Tbs (chopped) 
    • Cumin powder - a pinch (optional)
    Directions:
    • Smear eggplant with 1/2 a tsp of coconut oil and prick on all sides with a fork. Switch on toaster oven at broil temperature and broil eggplant for 25-30 minutes. 
    • Once it is cooled down, remove the charred skin and dice into small chunks. 
    • Chop onion, tomato, green chilly and ginger very fine. 
    • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and add chopped onion and sauté till slightly golden. 
    • Add ginger, green chilly and tomato stirring continuously. Sauté till tomato is mashed well and most of moisture is absorbed. 
    • Add eggplant and stir well to coat everything well. 
    • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and optionally with a pinch of freshly ground cumin seeds. 

    Palak Paneer (Cottage cheese in spinach gravy): 



    Ingredients:
    • Spinach - 1/2 lb (I use the 1/2 a box of organic spinach from Costco)
    • Homemade organic paneer ~ 1 cup (cut into 1 inch squares)
    • Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs.
    • Ginger - 1 inch piece - minced
    • Garlic - 2 cloves - minced
    • Small red onion - 1 (chopped fine)
    • Green chilly - 1 (chopped) 
    • Tomato - 1 chopped
    • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    • Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
    • Coriander powder - 1 tsp
    • Garam masala - 1/4 tsp (optional - see notes) 
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    Directions:
    • Heat 1/2 of the coconut oil in a pan on low medium heat. Add the paneer squares along with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Roast for a minute or so, flip them without breaking the paneer and roast on the other side for a minute or so too. Remove and set aside.
    • Wilt spinach in a pan with 2 Tbs of water, once it cools down purée and set aside.
    • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and roast minced ginger and garlic. Add onion to the mix and sauté till slightly brown. 
    • Add tomato and green chilly and sauté till all tomato is mashed well and liquid is absorbed.
    • Add all the spice powders and salt. 
    • Add pureed spinach and turmeric powder and salt. 
    • Simmer for a few minutes on low heat, adjust salt level if needed. Optionally add a tablespoon of lemon juice at this point. 
    • Dip the paneer squares without breaking them. Remove from flame and keep covered for about 30 minutes before serving.
    • Serve warm, enjoy!

    * Garam masala: 
    I don't buy or store pre-made garam masala or spice powders. Depending on the dish that I am making, I use a variation of spices and make my own spice mixes freshly, using my coffee/spice grinder. For this one above, I made a masala powder using a small stick of cinnamon, 2 cardamoms & 2 cloves



    Marathi Prawns Curry:

    (Though the original recipe calls for prawns, I make this with shrimp, lobster tails or scallops)



    Ingredients:
    • Shrimp/Lobster tails -  1 lb
    • Masala paste - 1 batch (see below) 
    • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
    • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
    • Red onion - 1/4 cup - chopped fine
    • Garlic - 2 cloves - chopped fine
    • Ginger - 1 inch piece - chopped fine
    • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Tamarind - walnut sized ball (soaked in 1/4 cup of water)
    Directions:
    • Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add onion, ginger and garlic and sauté for a few minutes till the onion if slightly brown. 
    • Add the ground masala paste along with turmeric powder, salt and 2 cups of water. (add more or less water depending on the desired thickness of gravy) 
    • Let it simmer for a few minutes, then add the shrimp.
    • Once shrimp is cooked, add the tamarind juice and simmer for a couple of more minutes. 
    • Remove from flame and keep it covered for about 30 minutes before serving.
    • Serve warm, enjoy! 
    Masala paste: 
    • Shredded coconut - 1 cup 
    • Red chilly - 4-5
    • Coriander seeds - 2 Tbs
    • Garlic - 3 cloves
    • Green chilly - 1
    • Coriander leaves - 2 stems
    • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
    • Grind everything to a fine paste. 

    Mixed Dal Payasam (Channa dal-moong dal payasam)



    Ingredients:
    • Channa dal - 1/4 cup (preferably soaked overnight)
    • Moong dal - 1/4 cup  (preferably soaked overnight)
    • Coconut palm sugar - 3/4 cup 
    • Fresh ginger grated - 2 tsp (adjust according to preference) 
    • Himalayan salt - a pinch
    • Homemade coconut cream- 1/2 cup (see notes) 
    • Homemade coconut milk - 2 1/2 cups (see notes) 
    • Homemade light coconut milk  - 2 cups (see notes) 
    • Cardamom - 8-10 pods (skinned and powdered)
    • Pure organic ghee - 1 Tbs
    • Fresh coconut slices  - 2 Tbs (chopped very thin)

    Directions:
    • Drain and cook dals with 1 cup of water (use pressure cooker or a saucepan).
    • In a heavy bottom deep pan, add cooked dals and coconut sugar along with finely grated ginger and Himalayan salt.
    • Cook on medium heat stirring frequently till sugar is melted well, for about 3-5 minutes.
    • Add light coconut milk and simmer on medium heat till the liquid is reduced to half, for about 20-25 minutes. 
    • Add coconut milk and simmer on medium heat till the liquid is reduced to half, for about 20-25 minutes. 
    • Switch off and add cardamom powder and coconut cream. 
    • Heat ghee in a pan and fry the coconut slices till they are golden brown. Garnish this over the payasam. 
    • Let if stand on warm stove top for 30 minutes or so. 
    • Serve warm or refrigerate and serve chilled as per preference. Our family prefers warm payasam :-) 


    Notes for coconut milk and cream: 
    • I make my coconut milk with organic dried shredded coconut.
    • Get coconut milk recipe here.
    • For this recipe I make coconut milk in 2 batches, one batch I use as is.  
    • Second batch is made earlier and kept refrigerated so that cream separated on top.
    • You can remove cream from top using a spoon and remaining will be your light coconut milk.




    Recipes are adapted from the article 'Sachin Style Virunnorukkam' featured in Malayalm Magazine Vanitha

    PS: I came across this article where Foodie Sachin Tendulkar talks about his love for food

    March 14, 2014

    Peruvian Chocolate Cupcakes

    Our sweet little bundle of joy is turning a 'teen' today. Yes, he is 13 today. It has been a rewarding 13 years filled with joy, sorrow, pride, smiles, tears and above all…lots of love !! We were sort of immature parents to begin with and we have been learning about parenting as he was growing up. That was a lot of fun even with all our impatient disciplining and reasonably high expectations (just like any other Asian immigrant parents). He has grown up to be a very mellow, patient and kind young man, and we are so proud of him.





    He has been so patient with all our changing food habits - from our 'american influenced convenience based ignorant diet' to our ‘whole foods clean eating’. He would stand by me with any of my successful and failed kitchen health experiments, and gobble up most of the times without much complaint. He also brings in his interest in geography and travelling into our kitchen. He inspires me to cook different dishes from all over the world.

    This month his class has been learning about Peruvian cuisine in their Spanish class and he suggested that I cook some Peruvian dishes that he can share with the class. He also helped me find some recipes and we finalized on Arroz con mariscos (seafood rice) and Torta de Chocolate (chocolate cake) from the peruana cucina. Peru is known for seafood and cacao, and incidentally both are favorites of my son (and us as well). I decided to do it on his birthday so that his friends can enjoy it as his birthday treat.






    I usually don't like making desserts with loads of sugar (even though I only use organic unrefined coconut palm sugar). I try making desserts with half (or even less) the sugar quantity specified on recipes. Today I am going easy on that and have added an equal amount of coconut sugar (in place of the regular sugar) that the recipe called for. I am reducing the serving size instead, as I am making smaller portions of the cupcakes. I use organic unrefined cacao for the pure cacao flavor and topping with the purest form of cacao, the organic unrefined cacao paste, mixed with dates and sprinkled with coconut.

    For The Cake: 
    • Organic unbleached all purpose flour - 1 cup
    • Sea salt -1/2 tsp
    • Baking soda - 3/4 tsp. 
    • Organic raw cacao powder -1/3 cup 
    • Virgin coconut oil - 7 Tbs (melted to room temperature) 
    • Pure vanilla essense- 1/2 tsp
    • Organic whole milk - 2/3 cup
    • Unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar - 2 tsp 
    • Free range organic egg -1
    • Organic coconut palm sugar - 3/4 cup 

    • Preheat oven @ 350 F
    • Add flour, salt, baking soda and cacao into a bowl and mix well.
    • Add coconut oil and mix well.
    • In a separate bowl mix milk, vanilla & apple cider vinegar. Let stand for 5 min.
    • Mix the milk mixture with the flour-oil mixture.
    • Beat egg in a bowl add sugar and mix well.
    • Add egg mixture to the batter and combine everything well.
    • Line 15 cupcake molds with paper liners.
    • Pour about 2 Tbs of batter into each - fill about bottom third of the molds.
    • Bake for 20 minutes.
    • Let it cool completely on wire racks.



    For the creamy chocolate frosting:
    • Raw organic cacao paste - 1/3 cup (shavings)
    • Organic dates - 6-8 
    • Organic whole milk - 1/3rd cup
    • Raw honey - 2-3 Tbs
    • Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs
    • Pink himalayan salt - a pinch

    • Warm the milk and soak the dates for 30 minutes to soften.
    • Blend the dates along with the soaking milk, honey and coconut oil till nice and creamy. Add cacao shavings and blend till cacao is melted and the mixture is creamy. Don't over mix. 
    • Frost cooled cupcakes with a heaping tablespoon of the creamy chocolate. Optionally sprinkle shredded coconut on top. Set aside to set. 
    • Enjoy!


    This is shared at:

    Hearth and Soul Blog Hop




    The cake recipe is adapted from:

    March 8, 2014

    Quinoa Idli w/ Horse Gram Sambar

    This is my latest version of Quinoa idli. This is made very similar to the instant quinoa idli, the difference is that instead of using half portion of cracked wheat, here I am using quinoa alone, thus making it completely gluten-free. Another difference is the soaking time, this is soaked in yogurt base for a longer period. Many friends and readers ask me why do I specify soaking in most of my recipes. I wrote about this in another recipe recently. Read that here.

    In today's recipe, soaking in yogurt overnight provides me with a slightly fermented batter, which makes fluffy and soft idlis, very different from the instant version. You can add some chopped veggies or other optional seasonings too. I do not add anything since I want to retain the soft and fluffy texture, and also since I serve this with a veggie rich horse gram sambar.

    Ingredients:
    • Quinoa - 1 cup (I mix half and half of red and white quinoa)
    • Homemade organic yogurt - 1/2 cup
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
    Directions :
    • Heat a shallow pan on medium heat and dry roast the quinoa for about 10-15 minutes till slightly red and you hear frequent popping sound.
    • Keep aside to cool down. Once it is cooled down, grind it using a dry blender or food processor. Grind as fine as you can get.
    • Add the yogurt and about 1/2 -3/4 cup of filtered water and mix it well. It should be of idli batter (or pancake batter) consistency.
    • Keep it aside for 6-8 hours or overnight. (Depending on the weather you might want to keep it refrigerator so that it does not become too sour).
    • When you are ready to make idlis, add salt and mix well.
    • You can add some chopped veggies or other optional seasonings at this point. I do not add anything since I want to retain the soft and fluffy texture and also I serve with a veggie rich sambar.
    • Mix baking soda with a teaspoon of lemon juice and mix it well with the batter.
    • Pour the batter on idli molds and steam cook for 10-12 minutes.
    • I serve it with horse gram cauliflower sambar, recipe below.
    • Enjoy!




    Horse Gram Sambar: 

    • Horse gram - 1/4 cup (preferably soaked overnight)
    • Tamarind - walnut sized ball, seeds removed 
    • Cauliflower - 1/2 medium head
    • Red onion - 1
    • Tomato -1
    • Coriander leaves - small bunch
    • Asafoetida (hing/kayam) - a pinch
    • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Coriander seeds - 2 Tbs
    • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
    • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
    • Red chilly - 2-3
    • Shredded coconut - 1/4 cup
    • Tamarind - walnut sized ball, seeds removed 


    • Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup of warm water.
    • Cook horse gram with 2 cups of water.
    • Dice all vegetables into small bite sized pieces.
    • Mash the tamarind well in the warm water and pass thru a sieve or just pass thru your fingers to collect the tamarind juice.
    • Dry roast spices coriander/cumin/fenugreek and red chilly till the seeds are slightly golden.
    • Grind the roasted spices and coconut along with the tamarind juice to a fine paste. Add extra water if needed to aid the grinding. 
    • Once horse gram is almost cooked, add cauliflower and onion along with asafoetida and turmeric. Continue cooking on medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
    • Once the veggies are almost done, add ground coconut-spice paste, tomato and salt. Add extra water if you need a thinner consistency. 
    • Simmer for 10-15 more minutes, check salt level and remove from flame.
    • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
    • Enjoy!!

    March 5, 2014

    Crispy Masala Chickpeas

    This is a quick'n'healthy snack to munch on while you watch a favorite TV show or a movie, and is a good ToGo snack as well. This is a gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free and is a 100% plant based snack. Make this in big batches and store in air tight containers for a healthy after school snack for your kids or for you to take to work. 




    Ingredients:
    • Chickpeas - 1 cup (soaked for 24 hours)
    • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs 
    • Sea salt - 1 tsp
    • Masala powder - 1 batch (recipe below)

    Directions:
    • Drain the soaked chickpeas and spread them in a clean kitchen towel for 15-20 minutes to dry them.
    • Switch on the toaster oven at 350 degrees.
    • Spread the chickpeas on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
    • Take out add coconut oil, stir to coat well.
    • Put back in the oven and continue baking for 30 minutes.
    • Take out again and mix in the masala powder and salt and continue baking for 5-10 minutes more. 
    • Take out and transfer to a platter and let it cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
    • This can be stored in air tight containers after cooling completely.

    Masala powder:
    • Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
    • Red chilly - 2-3
    • Carom seeds (ajwain) - 1/4 tsp 
    • Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
    • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
    • Dried mango powder (amchur) - 1 tsp

    • Powder coriander, carom seeds, cumin seeds and red chilly together using coffee grinder to a fine powder.
    • Add turmeric powder and mango powder and mix well. 

    March 2, 2014

    Mini Cucumber Bowls w/ Almond Pâté

    Here's a quick'n'healthy raw appetizer for the Oscar night. Almond pâté is made with almonds and sunflower seeds. It contains only plant based protein and fat, unlike in a regular french pâté which has meat. An awesome way to get your veggies, protein and fat and still sit back and enjoy your favorite stars :)



    Ingredients:

    • English cucumber - 2
    • Almonds - 1/2 cup
    • Sunflower seeds - 1/2 cup 
    • Celery - 1 stalk
    • Red bell pepper - 1/2
    • Red chilly - 1
    • Basil leaves - a small bunch 
    • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp

    Directions:

    • Grind everything to a fine paste in a food processor or blender.
    • Cut the cucumber into 1/2 inch slices. Scoop out the middle using a small scooper.
    • Put the pâté in a ziplock bag and cut the corner. 
    • Squeeze out about a tablespoon each of the pâté into each cucumber bowl.
    • Enjoy in good company and root for your favorite stars :)



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    Raw Food Thursday



    Pineapple Pulissery - Pineapple In Yogurt Coconut Gravy

    If you ask me why I cannot become a complete vegan, one key reason would be that I cannot live without pulissery ;). When we feel like we are missing Kerala, we end up making Pulissery, it is so much a Kerala specialty  and one that can make every Malayali nostalgic. Pulissery is the most favorite side dish at my home and all of us love it so much that we end up fighting as to who should clean-up the vessel. It is made with juicy vegetables (like cucumbers, white pumpkin, etc) and simmering them in a yogurt-coconut gravy. Just like Malayalis, and their traditions and their attire, this dish is also synonymous with simplicity :). When we want to make it a little fancy for a special occasion, we make it with pineapple, mango or ripe plantains :).




    Ingredients:
    • Pineapple - 1/2
    • Water - 2 cups
    • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    • Sea Salt -as per taste
    • Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup 
    • Organic homemade yogurt - 2 cups
    • Green chilly - 2-3
    • Cumin seeds -1 tsp
    • For optional tempering:
    • Virgin coconut oil - 1 tsp
    • Black mustard seeds -  1/2 tsp
    • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
    • Red chilly - 1
    Directions:
    • Skin the pineapple, remove the core and cut into small bite size pieces.
    • Start cooking with 2 cups of water, turmeric and salt.
    • While pineapple is being cooked, grind, coconut, cumin seeds, green chilly into a very fine paste, add the yogurt to the mix and whip all together.
    • Once the pineapple is cooked and about half of the liquid is reduced (in about 8-10 minutes) add the coconut yogurt mix and reduce flame to low.
    • Continue cooking on low flame for 5-6 more minutes, stirring frequently so that it does not boil or curdle up.
    • Remove from flame and wait for at least 30 minutes before serving.

    • Optional tempering - heat coconut oil, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chilly, when mustard seeds pop and fenugreek seeds are slightly red, garnish over the pulissery. If you are not used to Indian cooking, do take care, keep everything ready by your side and keep a lid handy so that you don't have popped mustard seeds all over your stove top :-)


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    March 1, 2014

    Wholewheat-Spelt Soup Crackers

    Here is a recipe for a basic soup cracker that I have adapted from a wholefoods market recipe. Crackers are probably the easiest thing to make at home with few basic ingredients. Once you start making them at home, you would never want to buy them from store with those endless list of ingredients. This is a basic recipe, you will be able to add other spices/flavors to it. You can also replace the whole wheat flour with more spelt flour, or rye flour. I have successfully tried both. 


    Ingredients:
    • Organic wholewheat flour - 1/2 cup
    • Organic sprouted spelt flour - 1/2 cup
    • Homemade coconut milk - 1/4 cup
    • EV Olive oil - 2 Tbs.
    • Dried herbs - 1 tsp  (parsley, rosemary, oregano) 
    • Freshly ground pepper - 1/2 tsp (optional) 
    • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
    • Baking soda -  1/2 tsp
    Directions:
    • Mix all the ingredients together just till combined to form a dough. Do NOT knead like bread dough. 
    • Roll out the dough into a large sheet of about 1/8' thickness. Cut into 1 1/2' squares and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
    • Bake at 350 deg toaster oven for 12 to 15 minutes or till slightly golden. Set aside to let cool completely before serving. Store cooled crackers in an airtight container for up to a week.