Healthy Quinoa Salad

Most of the time we think of healthy food and we and equate it to a drab, tasteless meal and especially, if it is a salad, we think of rabbit food. This salad is healthy and tasty, full of veggies and with a lime chilli vinaigrette. I was also making hummus and had some cooked chickpeas, so added that too to make a complete meal. It is also colorful and will make a beautiful addition to your holiday dinner table.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 green, red and yellow capsicums/peppers, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 small English cucumbers, cut into cubes
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, cut into half
  • 1/2 cup, chopped coriander/cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans (optional – but will add protein to the salad)
  • salt to taste

Lime Chilli Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 green chilli finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, cooked in a tsp of olive oil and chopped finely

Directions

  • Rinse quinoa well. In a saucepan add the quinoa and double the amount of water and place on high heat, till it boils. Then lower to medium heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes till all the water has been absorbed. Cover for 5-10 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Let it cool.
  • Meanwhile, add all ingredients for the dressing in a glass bottle, cover it and shake it well till well blended. Let it rest. The longer it rests, the better.
  • In a large mixing bowl add all the vegetables and the cooled quinoa.
  • Pour in the dressing and mix. (Pour half of it, mix, taste and then add more if required)
  • Season with salt and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. 
  • Enjoy!

You could substitute quinoa with couscous or broken wheat/bulgar too. This stays for a couple of days in the fridge, so save some for lunch the next day! I was inspired by the recipe in cookie and Kate and then adapted it to my own taste.

Hummus – Healthy and Easy to make

When I have guests, I have some easy appetizers and dips that I make. Hummus is one of them. I think the first time I ate hummus was at Oasis Falafel in Iowa city. It is a very small restaurant with maybe four tables but with the best falafel and hummus. Because I am lactose intolerant, I make this often, since it is dairy-free and of course healthy. I jazz it up with whatever catches my fancy that day and what I have in the pantry. Add olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted pumpkin and you get a different hummus.

Healthy Hummus

Ingredients:

1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 1 can garbanzo beans

4-5 garlic cloves

¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt to taste

1 pinch baking soda

1 tsp cumin powder

4-5 ice cubes 

Garnishes: cumin powder, chilli powder, roasted chickpeas, chopped parsley, roasted pine nuts or sesame seeds

Directions:

Soak dried chickpeas in water, overnight or for 6-8 hours.

Cook chickpeas with 2 cloves of garlic and some salt till soft. I use a pressure cooker and let it whistle for 3-4 times. It should be soft. Let it cool.

Strain (save the cooking liquid) and rinse the chick peas.

In a small saucepan, heat a tsp of oil and cook 2 cloves of garlic till soft. (Usually, raw garlic is added, but I prefer to cook it)

In a blender/ food processor, add the garlic, tahini and ice cubes and blend. The ice cubes make the tahini smooth by breaking down the fat. Blend for a few minutes.

Add chickpeas in small batches and blend. Add some chickpeas cooking liquid and blend. Add cumin powder and salt and blend till creamy. (Be careful with the salt, since salt was added while cooking the chickpeas and the liquid will also have salt). Add olive oil and blend.

Garnish it with any of the garnishes mentioned.

Serve with pita bread.

Olive Hummus

To the basic hummus recipes, add 3-4 tablespoons of oliveand blend for 20 seconds. Serve.

Olive Hummus

Pumpkin Hummus

To the basic hummus recipe add a couple of tablespoonsof roasted pumpkin and blend till smooth. This hummus is slightly sweet. Garnish with small pieces of pumpkin or roasted pumpkin seeds

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

To the basic hummus recipe add a couple of tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes and blend.

Madeleines

Madelines are these soft, pillowy and buttery little french cakes. They are best eaten the same day which is not a problem when the kids are home. The lemon peel adds so much flavour. They get a little dry after 2 days. But dunk it in tea and take a bite and they taste so good.

You need a special pan for this. I had one pan and bought two more. It is worth getting the pan as it is great to make if you are inviting people for tea or coffee.

They are so easy to make and looks really fancy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

  • Melt butter in a pan and cool slightly
  • Mix flour, salt, baking powder and lemon peel
  • Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer for about 3-4 minutes till the mixture is thick and pale in colour
  • Add the butter, vanilla extract and mix
  • Add flour mixture and mix by hand. Do not overmix
  • Cover and refrigerate for atleast 4 hours or upto 2 days.
  • Heat oven to 375ºF (190ºC)
  • Generously butter the pans and dust with flour
  • Place one tablespoon of batter in the middle (do not spread) of the pan
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes
  • Tap the pan and remove the madelines
  • Dust with powdered sugar. I use a tea strainer to dust the madeleines with sugar
  • Serve warm

Pumpkin Espresso Cake

Happy New Year!

It is that time of the year – shorter days, colder days. It is time when you you want to wrap a blanket and sit on your couch. It is the time when you want to eat bhajis and pakodas. It is the time when you want to bake. Actually, I like to bake anytime of the year. It is the time for pumpkins and I found this recipe from https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/pumpkin-espresso-bundt-cake-recipe

The recipe used a bundt cake pan. I did not have one so made it in a regular pan. I ate a couple of pieces without the glaze. I was not going to make the glaze. It was good without the glaze. I finally decided to make it and then added the glaze. It elevated the cake to another level. This cake is a keeper.

It freezes well. Everytime I eat a piece, I forget how good it is. The pictures does not do justice. You should try it.

I have copied the recipe from the king arthur website. The link is given above.

Ingredients

Cake

Filling

Glaze

  • 1/3 cup (74g) strong brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) rum, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. To make the cake: Beat together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until well blended.
  3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt until smooth and uniform in appearance. Set aside.
  4. To make the filling: Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and espresso powder in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Rose Cookies and Swedish Rosettes

When I think of Christmas, I think of Rose Cookies. Rose cookies (also called acchappam or acchu murukku- acchu meaning mould) is usually made by the christians in South India. When I was a kid, I would wait for my friends to bring a plate of rose cookies. Of course now it is available year round in stores.

I always presumed this was made only in India. Until I found the mould in Sweden. I also learnt this year that it is made in Mexico and a colleague of Polish descent said they made it in Poland too. I wonder where this originated?

The difference between the Indian rose cookies and the swedish rosettes is the flour and the liquid. The indian version is predominantly made with rice flour and coconut milk and the swedish version is made with all purpose flour and milk. They taste quite different.

These were a big hit. Merry Christmas!

Indian Rose Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • oil for deep frying
  • rose cookie mould

Directions

  • Mix flour, baking soda, salt
  • Beat eggs
  • Mix eggs, coconut milk, cumin and flour to make a batter
  • The batter should be almost like a crepe (or dosa) batter consistency.
  • Heat oil in a pan( 180C/ 360F)
  • I do not have a thermometer but put a drop of batter in the oil, if the batter bubbles and rises to the top, oil is hot
  • Place the mould in the hot oil (This is an important step)
  • Take it out of the oil, dip it in the batter and then back to the hot oil
  • Give it a light tap or use a fork to get the cookie into the oil
  • Once brown, it is done in a few seconds, remove the cookie and drain on a paper towel
  • Store in an airtight container
  • Enjoy!

Swedish Rosette

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk or half and half (I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • powdered sugar for garnishing
  • rosette iron

Directions

  • Combine all purpose flour, sugar, egg and milk and mix well
  • Heat oil in a pan ( 180C/ 360F)
  • I do not have a thermometer but put a drop of batter in the oil, if the batter bubbles and rises to the top, oil is hot
  • Place the mould in the hot oil (This is an important step)
  • Take it out of the oil, dip it in the batter and then back to the hot oil
  • Give it a light tap or use a fork to loosen the rosette into the oil
  • Once brown, it is done in less than a minute, remove the cookie and drain on a paper towel
  • Dip in powdered sugar or sprinkle powdered sugar on top and store in an airtight container

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Sprinkle of Sea Salt

One day, I was sitting at work and craving for some dark, chewy chocolate cookies.I came home and realised that I had no dark cocoa. It had to wait till I go buy dark cocoa. The idea of those cookies stayed in my mind till I made it. It was worth the wait. I made a batch and froze the dough and made it a week later, it was as good. The recipe I usually use are from the Nestle website. But I found this recipe on https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/. There are some really good recipes there. I replaced the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour. I also used almond milk.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour or atta flour
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Directions

  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda
  • Beat the butter till creamy. Add both brown and granulated sugars and mix well until creamy.
  • Add egg and vanilla and mix well
  • Add the flour mixture, chocolate chips and milk and mix. The cookie dough will be sticky. Cover with aluminium foil and let it sit for 3 hours in the refrigerator
  • Let it sit for 20 minutes at room temperature
  • Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC)
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Roll doughs of balls and place on pan. Sprinkle with sea salt
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Serve as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

One day, while I was grocery shopping, I saw these ‘rainbow’ carrots. They were carrots of different color. It piqued my interest and I bought a bag. The lighter colored one was not as sweet and had a mild taste of radish. You could make this with regular carrots too. It is really easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (1/2 kg) carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425F (220C)
  • Peel carrots
  • Cut into half lengthwise approximately the same size
  • Toss carrots with oil and spices
  • Spread on a pan in a single layer
  • Roast for 20-30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes
  • Serve hot as a side

Rasam – A Tangy, Spicy Soup- Perfect to Fight a Cold!

Rasam is synonymous to South India. Every person or region has their version. But one thing common is the tangy spicy taste, The tang can come from tomato, tamarind or lime. If you are fighting a cold, this is a must have- the pepper clears your sinus and the turmeric works as an antiseptic. It is our version of the ‘chicken soup’, only vegan. People who do not understand rasam, call it the ‘watered down sambar’. Do not say that to any south indian! Here is one of the many versions of rasam. Rasam is eaten with rice. But in every family I know, when rasam is made, you always have a glass of rasam to drink.

It is said that the mulligatawny soup originated from rasam. The name comes from milag tanni which means pepper water. It was a popular soup when the british ruled India.

Here I have used rasam powder from a caterer who caters to a school I worked in, Annapoorna Caterers, in Bangalore. They make some great sambar powder too!

You could also make the powder at home or use store bought, MTR is good. My mom makes her own blend of the powder. For this , you roast red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, channa dal, tur dal, black pepper and asafoetida. Powder and store.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup tur dal
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 4-6 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 tbsp rasam powder
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste concentrate or a 1 tbsp tamarind puree
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a couple of curry leaves (optional)
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Wash tur dal well
  • To an instant pot or pressure cooker, add tur dal, turmeric, chopped tomatoes, 3-4 cloves of garlic, 3 cups of water
  • Pressure cook for 5 minutes in instant pot or 3-4 whistles in a pressure cooker
  • Once the pressure has released, turn to saute in instant pot or transfer to a pan from a pressure cooker
  • Mash tomatoes with a spoon. Add salt and tamarind paste
  • Cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add rasam powder and pepper powder and cook for a few minutes. Once it boils, turn off the stove or instant pot
  • Taste and add more seasoning if required.
  • In a small pan. add oil
  • Add asafoetida and mustard seeds and let it splutter
  • Add curry leaves and 2 cloves of whole garlic
  • Add to rasam, add cilantro and serve hot as a soup or with rice.