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.

Malini’s Mavinkai Chitranna (Raw Mango Rice)

My friend, Malini designs clothes. For the past ten years I have been wearing clothes designed by her. Her creativity does not stop there; she is an amazing cook too. This is her recipe. Do try it out.

In this recipe, we use raw mango and usually the mango used for pickles. Those mangoes are much more sour than the totapuri mango, which is nice to eat with some salt and chilli powder. Because the mangoes are very sour, the number of chillies added are more. Even then the dish does not turn out very spicy because the sourness balances the spiciness. Some jaggery is added to balance the flavours. I make a big batch of this every year and freeze them in batches. This way, i can still make mango rice when the mango season is over.

Mavinkai Gojju (Mango Paste)

Ingredients
  • grated raw mango 2 cups
  • 1 tbsp methi seeds
  • 10-12 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp jaggery (brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
Directions
  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add methi seeds and red chillies and fry for a few minutes on a low flame
  • Grind methi-chilli mixture with the other ingredients to a fine paste
  • This paste can be stored in the freezer. Freeze in small containers for a one time use

Mango Rice

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mango paste
  • 3 cups cooked basmati rice (or any left over rice)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a pinch asafoetida
  • 2 tbsp curry leaves
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp powdered dry coconut or grated coconut (optional)
  • a handful of roasted peanuts (optional)
Directions
  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and red chillies
  • When mustard splutters add the rice and mango paste and mix gently and thoroughly
  • Sprinkle coconut powder and peanuts and mix
  • Serve hot with raita or yogurt or papad or potato chips
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Mango Salsa

Mango is called the ‘King of Fruits” and in India, we believe it is. When mangoes are in season, we hardly even look at another fruit. We are lucky to live near an agricultural campus where they grow organic mangoes and a huge variety of them. During the season, we eat mangoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The season starts beginning of April and goes on till the monsoons hit in July and every few weeks we get new varieties of mangoes, which taste different. Other than just eating them, we make curries (with small ripe mangoes) and other savoury dishes like mambalam pulliserry, morkootan, etc.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe mangoes – chopped
  • 1-2 green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1 onion, chopped fine 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves/ cilantro – chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Mix all the above ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips

Watermelon Slush

This summer has been oppressively hot and unbearable. The tendency to drink something cold has made me make fresh watermelon juice and have it in the fridge instead of store bought sugary ones. There are days when I long for ice cream, being lactose intolerant keeps me away from them. So here is a substitute, a healthy and tasty one, which will surely keep you cool and happy.

I also tried making granita/ watermelon ice. Once it was frozen, I scraped it with a spoon to form an ice. It does take a long time to do that and I prefer the slush, which takes much less time to do. It is super-easy to make with just 2 ingredients. I did not add the sugar but if you want it sweet, go ahead and add it.

Watermelon Mint Salad

This year, Bangalore has had some unusually hot pre- summer days. It is not mango season yet, mangoes make summer bearable. But there is a surplus of watermelon in the stores. Right in front of my apartment sits a watermelon vendor. I can look out of my kitchen window and see the tempting red fruit, calling out my name. I take a bowl down and buy a full fruit. He cuts it for me which makes my life easy. I make fresh juice with it, so refreshing to come home to some cold watermelon juice.

Here is a simple refreshing watermelon salad recipe. Easy to make and wonderful to have on a hot summer day. The saltiness from the feta goes well with the sweet watermelon. This serves one person as a complete meal or two as a starter.

Ingredients

2 cups chopped watermelon

¼ cup chopped mint

1/2 sliced onions

¼ cup feta cheese or goat cheese

1 cup chopped cucumber (optional)

Dressing:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place watermelon and mint in a bowl. Add onions. Add cucumber if using.

Add the goat cheese to it.

Mix the ingredients for dressing together

Pour on watermelon mixture and toss.

Taste for seasoning and serve

Enjoy!

South Indian Egg Curry (and Egg Roast) – Egg curry two ways

This is a perfect recipe for Easter, especially if you have boiled eggs and are not sure what to do with it other than the usual.

This was a recipe my mom made often when I was growing up, maybe because it was quick and easy to make after a long day at work. She would also sometimes add potatoes to it. She fried the boiled eggs before adding to the curry. The eggs then are slightly crispy on the outside. I usually avoid this step to make it more healthy. You could serve this with dosa, roti or rice. I remember as a kid, eating it with bread. The bread soaks up all the curry and it tastes really good. Even today, after I pour the curry into a serving bowl, I sometimes wipe the remaining curry with a piece of bread and eat it.

I had posted an egg curry sometime ago, this is another easier version. I made this when I had teachers from Bavaria staying at my house. They enjoyed the egg curry and tried their hand at making appam. Monika and Anne, this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

6 eggs hard boiled, (shelled and halved)

¼ tsp turmeric

1 inch ginger, finely chopped or grated (or 1 tsp ginger paste)

4-5 garlic pods, finely chopped or grated (or 1 tsp garlic paste)

2 green chilies halved lengthwise

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 sprig curry leaves (optional)

½ tsp mustard seeds

A pinch asafoetida

2 large onion, sliced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt to taste

200 ml coconut milk

Chopped coriander/ cilantro 2-3 tsp

Method

Heat oil. Add asafoetida and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds splutter add the curry leaves and sliced onions, and green chilies. Sauté till the onions are golden brown. Add finely chopped garlic and ginger. Then add the coriander powder, cumin powder, chilli powder and turmeric powder. After a minute add tomatoes and saute till tomatoes are cooked. Add salt and mix.

There are two ways to serve this.

Egg Roast: Place eggs on a platter. Spoon the mixture on the eggs and sprinkle cilantro on it. This can also be served as an appetizer or a side for any meal.

Egg Curry: Take half this mixture and grind to make a smooth paste. Return the paste to the pan and add coconut milk and cook for about 5 minutes on a low flame or till you get the consistency you want. If it is not spicy enough add some chilli powder and mix. Add eggs gently and heat through. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or bread.

Chakka Pradaman/ Jackfruit Payasam

Happy Vishu! Vishu is the beginning of the New Year in the state of Kerala. You can read more about Vishu here.

This is a creamy sweet dessert which can be eaten hot or cold. With pieces of fried crunchy coconut, this is heaven! Try it! You can make this vegan by leaving out ghee and adding non dairy butter instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chakka varatti (jackfruit jam)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped dried coconut or 1 tbsp cashew nuts

Directions

  • Take one cup of jam in a heavy bottomed pan
  • Add 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup of water and cook on a low flame
  • Make sure the jam is mixed well into the coconut milk. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and cardamom powders
  • Add another cup of coconut milk and cook for another few minutes
  • In a small pan, heat ghee. Add chopped coconut or cashews and fry till golden brown
  • Add to payasam
  • Serve hot or cold