No Fuss Spicy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

She lies squinting in the afternoon sun. Looking up at the blazing ball of fire, she defies the curly strand resolutely falling her way. She wonders if hell was right in the middle of the sun. Would she go? Go to hell, that is. Umm.. she has her chances. Spilling milk, tearing pages off a school book or rather any book and stuffing ones mouth with heapfull of sugar does make one go straight to hell. For sure, thought she.
But then like how it is with most six-year olds, her thoughts jump from dreary to the quixotic in no time, wondering if the sun is made of honey or lime or both. The dreamy spell is broken by shrill cries of mother. Lengths of the roof covered in leaps and bounds, spirals of stairs run in twos and threes, the little girl runs blind, her curls flying behind her like a short cape. Huffs and pants, she stands erect and stares straight. A little sentinel to attention.

Flavored with garlic

Flavored with garlic

Mother hid a smile. She knew she was being appeased. Propitiated for those tight hugs and extra kisses, and for those moments when the curls would be delicately touched and taken behind a ear only to fall right back into an eye. For those special moments mother was being assuaged. Mother knew it. And she knew she knew it.

Well today no matter what, lunch will be eaten in peace sans objections, sans tantrums and grimaces, clever mother put out a plate which would have been shunned on any other day. But not today. Not after a morning of mess and shenanigans. And the little sentinel ate silently. The one with the largest sweet tooth, the stuffer of anything saccharine, sugar stealer, ingenious chocolate hider. That one, battled her candied tongue and slurped spicy tangy tomato rasam that day. Quietly. Obediently. Fully unaware that her runny nose needed all that pepper and spice. I know now for sure, coz she is me.

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Cut to present day. And I war with my seven-year old to stop slurping the tangy South Indian soup. It has pepper and garlic and red chiles and its hot and medicinal. I mean, she is supposed to dislike it. All kids do. But here is mine. Sprawled on the floor, demanding more ghee and more rasam in her bowl of soft white rice. It’s close to eight years now, and I still stare at my girl in disbelief. She is so unlike me. Gone on the father, I mutter. Both have an unbelievable palette for spicy tangy tart stuff.

white rice is the best

white rice is the best

Saccharine love has diminished over the years, and rasam which was once gulped like venin, is now savoured with abundant paraphernalia.

Rasam is a South Indian tangy drink usually served with rice and other interesting sides. And if you are ever caught nursing a bad cold or a sore throat then this peppery drink will surely be guzzled down your food pipe… hot 😉

Lentils, lemon, beets are used to make a variety of rasam. But the most common and easiest and popular one is the tomato rasam. The method I use is handed over to me by my brother in laws wife, and it has never been easier to make it since. One of my most favourite ways lately.

that very essential dollop of ghee!

that very essential dollop of ghee!

Make sure you have a potful of hot boiled rice, white or brown. Some ghee to serve. And I usually accompany the meal with some vegetable side like the one shown below. A cabbage carrot beans melange. Dry sauté with a tempering of curry leaves, green chilies and garnished with grated coconut and cilantro.

keep it light and simple

keep it light and simple

I have no idea about the science behind this, but I am making this statement – Food, especially, Indian Food tastes better when you eat with your hands. Its more intimate, more comforting. I can’t explain. It just is. So try it. Learning to use chopsticks was hard?! try scooping off watery rasam from a flat plate with your fingers. That’s art too.

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 5-6 red ripe tomatoes, washed and chopped.
  • 1/2 tbsp of ghee
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaf
  • 1 whole dried red chili
  • 1 small onion or few baby onions/shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chili powder or as per your taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, grated – optional.
  • coriander leaves to garnish.

Method

In a thick bottomed pan, heat ghee. Splutter mustard seeds. sauté red chili, curry leaves and sliced onions till pink. Throw in chopped tomatoes along with salt, turmeric and red chili powder. cover and cook till the tomatoes become mushy and fat leaves the sides. Approx 10 minutes. Once that is done, add 1 glassful of water. Give it a boil. Grate garlic and sprinkle pepper powder – give it another boil. Switch the flame off, mix in juice of 1/2 a lime and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot!

Life's good

Life’s good

Note: Quantity of water can be increased or decreased according to the consistency you prefer. I like mine thin and runny, so I usually add more than a glassful.

Note: Tamarind, boiled lentils, rasam powder are all variations. You can try different types by adding these accordingly.

Note: For those who do not like to use onion and garlic, you can skip both, and flavour the soup with a bit of asofoetida or hing.

Eat it hot!

Eat it hot!

Its been one amazing year for Angie and her wonderful co hosts who throw this weekly visual potluck parties. So we are all celebrating! Thanks to the growing popularity and contribution to the event, the celebrations are extended for a two week program. Though I was unable to contribute to the last week’s appetiser and drink event, I make it up with another main course! So please run over to Angie’s First-Fiesta-Friday Anniversary and check out the various mouth watering link ups.

Buddha’s Feast

What Buddha would eat

What Buddha would eat?? Its all in a name

Someone and someone were debating. Vociferously. The avid listener in me yawned after 10 minutes of the bickering. The argument deviated from the original intent to a lesser one in no time. I was interested till the dispute inflamed my mind and made me think. But when it turned into a vegetarian-vs-non-vegetarian tone, I zoned out.

Brown rice feast

Brown rice feast

It started in innocence. What did God eat? Satvik someone piped. To become God, one has to feed the mind pure essential natural energy giving food, he reasoned. But Shiva ate meat, smoked the chillum and drank fermented nectar and he is God – another interjected. Sigh.

See, when you put religion, food and God, you’re bound to set some fireworks off. The main issue was never addressed and it all spiralled down to what-I-eat-is-better-than-what-you-eat.

Use fresh veggies for better flavour

Use fresh veggies for better flavour

So naturally, when I chance upon Buddha’s Feast on a menu card, I am left intrigued 🙂 The dish was as delightful and delicious as anyone would want their meal to be. So in lure of replicating it at home, I do what I always do. Google 😀

Well this is what I get – clean fresh pure vegetables in a simple slightly thick sauce, flavoured mildly with soy and chillies, ideally served with brown rice or whole grain noodles.

Add a protein

Add a protein

The Recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups of diced vegetables, like broccoli, bok choy, carrots, beans, mushrooms, baby corn water chestnuts etc
1/4 cup firm tofu or paneer, diced.
1/4 cup diced peppers
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 big onion, diced
1 cup Vegetable Stock
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chile paste
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste and pepper powder
Cooked brown rice, for serving

Method

Parboil broccoli, baby corn, beans and water chestnuts. Keep aside.
In a skillet, heat oil, sauté minced garlic and diced onions till they turn pink. Now add peppers, boo chou, carrot and mushrooms. Sprinkle a bit of salt. Saute till 3/4th done. Now add the parboiled vegetables and tofu. Toss.
In a small bowl, whisk together stock, soy sauce, cornstarch, mirin, and chile paste. Place 1/2 cup mixture in a small bowl.
Add this sauce to the sautéed veggies, cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper powder. Serve immediately.

Make a potful

Make a potful

Note: You can add marinated paneer or tofu is desired. Immerse the tofu in soy sauce and chili paste mixture for 30 minutes and then use as required.

Note: Add/Remove any vegetable of your choice.

Note: Adapted from here : http://www.marthastewart.com/316528/buddhas-feast-vegetable-stir-fry

For cold wintery nights

For cold wintery nights

A bowl full of this fresh stir fry vegetables and greens leaves you feeling calm, clean, light and satiated. So yea, I guess Buddha would eat this too 🙂 But what’s in a name anyway, make this to health and for that feel good factor.

Its been one amazing year for Angie and her wonderful co hosts who throw this weekly visual potluck parties. So we are all celebrating! Thanks to the growing popularity and contribution to the event, the celebrations are extended for a two week program. Though I was unable to contribute to the last week’s appetiser and drink event, I make it up with this main course! So please run over to Angie’s First-Fiesta-Friday Anniversary and check out the various mouth watering link ups.

Vegetarian Curry Laksa

Curry Laksa - veganised!

Curry Laksa – veganised!

The craving was irrepressible.
But with the man travelling and child snubbing this divine curry noodles, I stalled the idea of dishing it up just for me. But then, it arose again… that insatiable appetite for one heavenly bowl of noodles, veggies, broth, herbs and tofu. I had to make it. Just had to.

Soul Food!

Soul Food!

Curry Laksa is a Chinese inspired Malay spicy noodle soup. Originally made the non vegetarian way with a lot of chicken or fish or shrimp. It is basically coconut based curry spiced with oriental flavours like turmeric, soy and chilies, thick or thin noodles and garnished with laksa leaves or curry leaves. Indians will totally relate to the flavours and taste, because many of the ingredients used in this are regularly used in Indian cooking too.

 Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Ideally thick Hokkien egg noodles are preferred to dunk in a spicy vegetable laden stew, but if you cannot get your hands on some, use the regular variety. I used traditional thin hakka noodles. Some recipes call for thin rice vermicelli too.
Bottomline – It’s the curry that calls, the carb can be of any kind 😉

Spicy Earthy noodles

Spicy Earthy noodles

There are many different types of laksa, but what is common to all is the broth, spice paste and noodles. The most well known varieties of laksa are the slightly sour fish soup based Assam Laksa and the Curry Laksa which has coconut milk.

Curry Laksa is a meal in itself. You don’t need any accompaniments with it. Lot of vegetables, noodles and a protein like tofu or paneer and you are so good to go! The vegetables can be anything you like, anything your refrigerator caters. So don’t go hunting for the specifics. I just pretty much threw in whatever I had.

An interesting twist to this dish was to top with sautéed mushrooms and red onions. Dust it off with sesame seeds and it was the most heavenly first bite I have had in a very long time 🙂

Soupy Slurrpyy

Soupy Slurrpyy

The Recipe –

Ingredients

  • 1 pack hokkein egg noodles, boiled as per instructions on the pack.
  • 1 cup thin sliced vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, beans etc
  • 3-4 tbsp red curry paste or as per your liking
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • a handful of curry leaves or if you can find laksa leaves
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder

Garnish: 5/6 basil leaves, few stalks of coriander leaves, 1/2 cup fried tofu or sautéed paneer pieces, 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms and red onions. 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds, Lime wedges.

Method

In a wok, heat oil. Fry the red curry paste till the raw smells disappears. Now throw in the veggies, add a bit of salt. Cover and cook till almost done.
Add soy, turmeric, salt pepper, sugar. give a mix. Stir in the coconut milk. Once it has boiled. Stir in the vegetable stock. Simmer for 2/3 minutes or so. Throw in the curry leaves and lemon grass stalks Cover and boil for 5 minutes.

Delicious comfort food

Delicious comfort food

How to Serve:

Remove the lemon grass stalks from the broth before serving.

Take a deep bowl. Place a forkful or two of noodles. Pour the vegetable-coconut broth. Top with some sautéed mushrooms and onions, some fried tofu or paneer. A sprinkle of sesame seeds. A drizzle of lime juice. Torn basil and coriander leaves to garnish.
Serve.

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

Note: For sautéing the mushrooms, onions and tofu. I sliced them thinly, gently sautéed in a bit of oil. Sprinkled salt and pepper powder. Hardly takes 5 minutes.

Note: Laksa is usually soupy and the noodles float in a water like broth. Now to make the soup, vegetable stock is preferred rather than plain water. Since I did not have any, I made a thick vegetable stew in coconut milk. It tasted more intense and enveloped my noodles well in a spicy tangy gravy.

all season food, this is.

all season food, this is.

The above is a not a perfect authentic recipe. I changed and customised it according to our likes and the ingredients available. So this recipe might just serve as a rough inspiration to cook the dish. So feel free to play around!

Happy Cooking dear readers 🙂

Roasted Tomato Soup

Gorged on those cookies? Took more than a bite of that super moist Christmas cake? Could not say no to those scrumptious cheesy deep fried appetizers? Pigged out at parties? Drank more than what your self could handle? hmm…

Well, its time to cleanse guys. Detox they call it. To stop the binging. To start the healing. To start another year, fresh and healthy. To make resolutions – which usually don’t last more than a week 😉 Oh! We’ll save that for another post.

For now, it’s time to soupify your palette.

Luscious Roasted Tomato Soup

Luscious Roasted Tomato Soup

What I have here is a simple delicious luscious tomato soup recipe. Light, flavorful and so simple, you will find yourself making it more often than required. Best enjoyed with some home-made croutons or bread sticks, this one is sure a keeper.

I have a little soup lover at home. Along with the love comes the pricky palette which is SO not easy to please. Many of my tomato soup attempts tasted like ‘ketch-up’ to her and she hates ketch up. So, when I tried this particular method, you can imagine me heave such a sigh of relief when the bowl was polished off in no time. And she comes back for more.. yay! That’s my girl!

Flavored croutons goes great with some hot soup

Flavored croutons goes great with some hot soup

The recipe:

To make 2 bowls of soup:

Ingredients

  • 4 red ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 1 tiny potato
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, I used the fresh green variety with stalks.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven at 200 C. Cut all the veggies in circles and arrange on a greased baking tray. Throw in the garlic pods too. Brush all with olive oil. Sprinkle sugar evenly all over the vegetables.

Ready to go into the oven

Ready to go into the oven

Roast all the veggies for 15-20 minutes until roasted and browned. Turn the tray in between for even baking.
Once done, remove. cool. Blend into a smooth fine paste using little bit of water. Be careful not to add too much water, else the soup will be runny.
Run through a sieve. Boil again, check consistency. If too thick, add water or milk accordingly. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot topped with little cream or cheese.

Best with: Croutons, bread sticks, crostinis or toasted bread.

low cal and super healthy

low cal and super healthy

Note: For those who do not have an oven. Take a wok, heat olive oil in it, saute garlic, onions, potato and lastly tomato, sprinkled with a little bit of salt. Sprinkle some water. Cover and let it cook. Once done, proceed as mentioned in the recipe above.

Note: The potato is added to give volume or thickness to the soup. The addition of potato eliminates the use of thickening agents like cornstarch or flour in milk.

Note: The bits of sugar on the vegetables help in caramelizing the veggies.

Note: To give extra kick to your soup, try adding one tiny green chili to the veggies on the baking tray. Spicy, salty, tangy and a little bit of sweet – all at the same time. Yummy!

For those chilly cold evenings..

For those chilly cold evenings..

Chilly winters call for some of this luscious soup.
So bake it. Make it. Lick it. Love it.

-Namrata

Mung Bean Paneer Soup, Grilled Veggies and Skinny Garlic Bread – Diabetic Friendly

A complete healthy meal

A complete healthy meal

Nearing an unfinished book, catching missed episodes at 10 am in the morning, helping friends strike good deals in clothes and gifts, paying important pending social visits to cheer sullen relatives, crafting amidst incessant chatter with my 6 year old, revising tables with her, discovering the romance in watsapp with my traveling husband(the guy was totally enamored by it – 🙂 ) and among all these, failing attempts at writing a post-worthy post.

So there dear friends and foodies. I have not been doing much apart from a LOT of lazing and vacationing. And in all honesty, I did try to write. But words fell and failed me. It’s no fun to publish something without a good mean bone to feed on.

“Not many people read you know” is one constant refrain I get from the husband. Yes, true. But I still like to write, I retort. And so I do. Without a care of who is reading and who is not, I give words to my feelings and thoughts. Now, this is a personal creative high for me. Sigh! but this so called high evades me most of the times lately, leaving me groping for words and quotes.

I just needed a nudge, a push to wake me up from my trance like state. And Priya did the needful. A simple message, if I would be interested to contribute to her diabetic friendly week. Oh Yes! Interested I am!! “But I have a block”, I told myself. I can’t seem write. And Diabetes? I have no clue about that..

Kicking all the buts/ifs/hows/whys, I set to work. first I had to read up about Diabetes. So what better than Priya’s simplified illustrated theory. A must read. Her site is a diabetic’s delight.

To contribute to her fabulous Diabetic Friendly Food Week, I zeroed in on a soup, some grilled veggies and of course the favorite carb – made in a fat-free way!

Diabetic Friendly Food Week

Diabetic Friendly Food Week

Mung Bean Paneer Soup

Protein Packed

Protein Packed

Green whole mung beans have low glycemic index. Low glycemic foods promote healthy blood sugar levels. tend to have lower total body fat levels as opposed to those who consume high-glycemic foods, such as white bread and soft drinks. In recent studies, mung beans reduce blood glucose, plasma C-peptide, glucagon and blood urea nitrogen levels in non-human type-2 diabetic subjects. See #Reference.

Paneer or cottage cheese made from Cow’s milk is low in fat and contains a good amount of protein and calcium. Refrain from using “malai paneer” or the super soft melt in mouth types, as they are alarmingly high in FAT and low in nutrition. Shrewd use of this cheese for diabetics can work brilliantly for their overall health and fitness.

Simple, abundant flavors and so easy to make, you will find yourself making this soup more often than required.

Mung beans and paneer - super healthy combo

Mung beans and paneer – super healthy combo

For 2 people:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mung beans, preferably soaked for 3-4 hours or overnight.
  • salt, tiny piece of ginger, 2 clove of crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2-3 tbsp paneer, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime – optional
  • black and white pepper powder – as per your taste
  • Garnish: chopped coriander leaves and herbed garlic infused olive oil – optional

Method

Pressure cook the mung beans in 2 whole cups of water(yes! lots of water for very little mung beans), along with salt, garlic and ginger. If you do not have a pressure cooker and you are cooking them in a pot, then make sure your beans are preferably soaked overnight. The beans should be cooked well, almost mash like consistency.

In another pot, heat oil, crackle cumin, fry onions till they turn pink. Then add paneer. Saute for another 2-3 minutes. Slowly, pour the boiled mung beans along with all the water. Stir in pepper powders and check salt. Give it a final boil.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and little grated paneer, if using lime juice, stir it in now. A drop of chili-garlic-herb olive oil enhances the flavor, but if you do not have it ready, don’t sweat.

Sluurp this soup away with some grilled veggies and toasted bread.

Abundant Flavors

Abundant Flavors

Herbed Garlic Chili Olive Oil

This is so simple, even your little one could make it, although eating the vegetables would be a task for them 😉 A simple flavored oil does the trick. This is a usual in my house, but it never occurred to put it up on the blog. Missing the forest for a tree they say. Well, here it is:

Garlic herbed Olive Oil

Garlic herbed Olive Oil

Add 3-4 crushed minced garlic, 1 tsp chili flakes, 1 tsp mixed italian dried herbs, a wee bit of salt to 1 tbsp of olive oil. Mix well. Keep aside for at least 30 minutes before using. Use as required.

Fresh Veggies marinated in Herbed garlic infused Olive oil

Fresh Veggies marinated in Herbed garlic infused Olive oil

Use the oil to marinate your vegetables.

Basket of Goodness

Basket of Goodness

Or smear it on whole grain bread.

Grilled/Roasted Vegetables and Paneer

Colorful Melange

Colorful Melange

This is a no brainer actually. Dice up any vegetable of your choice, I used carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms. Paneer is added for some extra bite. Marinate your veggies in herbed garlic olive oil. Keep aside for atleast 30 minutes. Lay them on baking sheet, bake at 200 C till brown specks appear on the veggies. Alternatively you could stir fry in a thin wok on high till the vegetables are semi cooked and crunchy.

Garnish with pepper powder and rock salt if required.

Goes great with Soup

Goes great with Soup

Garlic Bread – made Fat free

We usually make garlic bread at home, by melting butter, adding all the herbs and minced garlic to it, smearing it on bread, topping with jalapenos and lot of grated cheddar cheese.

lightly smeared with Garlic infused olive oil

lightly smeared with Garlic infused olive oil

But we want a fat free version don’t we? Well, for that, use the flavored olive oil and skip the cheese. Toast your bread or roast them on a flat griddle and you have a guilt free and fat free version of the famous Garlic bread.

Note: My 6 year old girl didn’t like her garlic bread without cheese, so still using the same herbed olive oil, I grated cheese for her to enjoy. But when you’re watching your weight or struggling with diabetes, I would suggest skip the cheese.

Toast the bread, enjoy with your favorite veggies and a big bowl of Soup!

Toast the bread, enjoy with your favorite veggies and a big bowl of Soup!

Wonder Veggie Kale – in a Stew and a Salad

I had seen it numerous times. On the net, in newspapers, on other blogs, on tastespotting and other food display sites. But never at my local vegetable market or for that matter in a supermarket too. So, when the most-health-conscious-paleo-obsessed-organic-freak friend of my husband dropped a bunch at our place, I was surprised. And Happy.

Kale Leaves

Kale Leaves

Kale Leaves. The wonder plant. Recently crowned as ‘Queen of Greens’, this gorgeous green is a nutritional powerhouse.

Glorifying the innumerable benefits, we love Kale as it is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. It is high in Vitamin K, A and C and filled with powerful antioxidants. Being a fabulous anti-inflammatory food, it is also great for cardiovascular support.

The clincher:
Can you believe, per calorie kale has more iron than beef and more calcium than milk! Yea. It rendered me speechless too.

Dal.. Wholesome and Tasty

Dal.. Wholesome and Tasty

So, when our dear friend, who, by the way the husband adores and is truly our one stop search for any information on food-health and diet, got us a bunch of Kale greens, I skipped into the kitchen. 🙂

Dishing out a very Indian Daal/Lentil Stew and a more sophisticated salad was a breeze.

You treat it as how you would treat any other green like spinach, fenugreek or amaranth. It is happy to be sautéed, baked or slow-cooked in a soup or stew, all of which break down its slightly bitter, tough exterior.

But kale can also be cajoled into a surprisingly delightful exquisite salad, it just needs a little hands-on tender love to turn it from sturdy to silky. So, when eating raw, you massage the leaves gently to ensure maximum flavour and right texture.

Kale Pomegranate Toasted Almonds

Kale Pomegranate Toasted Almonds

RECIPES

KALE LENTIL STEW

Kale Lentil Stew

Kale Lentil Stew

I made this in a south Indian style daal/stew, to be eaten with hot steaming rice and some poriyal/kootu.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup toor/arhar daal, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1 bunch of Kale leaves, washed, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger julienne
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil, I used ghee
  • 6-7 shallots or pearl onions, sliced thin
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds and cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chili powder or as per taste
  • 1 dry red chili
  • salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander leaves to garnish.

Method

I used a pressure cooker to boil the lentil. You could do that in a pot too. In the cooker, add soaked toor dal, salt, turmeric, 2 cloves of garlic and little ginger, one green chili and chopped tomato. Whistle for 3-4 counts.

Now, in a wok, heat 1 tbsp ghee. Crackle cumin and mustard seeds. Throw in the shallots, rest of the garlic, ginger and green chili. Saute till the onions turn pinkish brown. Now, throw in the chopped kale leaves. Sprinkle little salt. Mix well and cook till the leaves are almost done. Takes about 3-4 minutes. Now add the boiled dal. Mix well. give it a boil or two.

Just before serving, heat another tbsp of ghee, throw in the dried red chili and red chili powder, immediately switch the flame off. This tempering is now poured over the ready daal. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Serve hot with rice or chappathis.

If you would like to enjoy the dal as a soup, cut down the green chilies and ignore the red chili powder. What you then get is a bowl full of lentil-kale highly nutritious soup!

Tempering of Red chilies and Ghee

Tempering of Red chilies and Ghee

KALE POMEGRANATE TOASTED ALMOND SALAD

Salad

Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh kale, washed and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • sea salt or rock salt according to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped or shredded
  • 1 tablespoons seeds of pumpkin and sunflower – optional
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries – optional
  • 3 tbsp toasted almonds, slivered

Method

Place your washed chopped kale leaves in a big bowl.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, pepper, salt, lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Mix well to combine and then pour over the kale.

Massage the leaves gently for 3-4 minutes, until the leaves start to soften and wilt, and no longer tastes bitter when you try it.

Sprinkle mint, seeds, pomegranate, cranberries and almonds over the top of the kale and serve.

Note: don’t omit the almonds! They add such crunch to the salad, you will be surprised.

Note: I omitted the cranberries and seeds, because I didn’t have any in hand, still the salad tasted great.

Note: Play around with the ingredients, throw in what you have, omit what you don’t. And if you have more ideas, do drop a line.

Wonder Veggie

Wonder Veggie

For those who live in India, you can buy Kale Leaves from the innumerable stores of Godrej’s Nature Basket.

Bread Croutons – Garlic Flavored and Baked!

Garlic Herbed Bread Croutons

Garlic Herbed Bread Croutons

It’s inanely easy. Really, making baked croutons is no rocket science. Pleasantly surprised by the simplicity and the crunch of the little bites, has coerced me to make several batches ever since my first.

Crunchy crisp bites

Crunchy crisp bites

A french bread gives the best results, but leftover sandwich bread also would do. I had some whole wheat bread on my counter top waiting to be used. Just 5-6 slices is enough for a bottle full of croutons! They are great as add ons on soups/stews/salads or as it is.

Bottle Full of little bites

Bottle Full of little bites

First time I tried these, no special flavors were added. Plain crunchy beautifully toasted they were. But I’ve been experimental. Pounded garlic and mixed herbs add such drama to the flavors…. you will be in for a surprise!

Toasted to perfection

Toasted to perfection

Use whole wheat bread, top with a little olive oil, add any flavoring you like and BAKE! See. So simple. And not to forget, HEALTHY too. Try munching on them with your evening cup of tea. Delightful.

Cold Lettuce  + Fresh Veggies + Mayo + Mustard + Bread Croutons = Yummy Salad

Cold Lettuce + Fresh Veggies + Mayo + Mustard + Bread Croutons = Yummy Salad

When you want some body to your salad, cottage cheese or boiled peanuts or croutons are the keys to a filling satisfying meal. Top these crunchies on your soup or stew, and relish the carb with the slurrp.

Perfect Accompaniments

Perfect Accompaniments

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 6 slices of whole wheat bread or 1/2 a loaf of french bread, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed/pounded
  • 7-8 pepper corns, pounded
  • salt to taste

Method

Preheat your oven at 150C.
Mix the olive oil, crushed garlic, pepper powder and salt. Gently envelop the bread pieces with this oil. Spread the croutons on a baking sheet/parchment paper on a tray. Bake at 150-170C for 8-10 minutes, until they turn slightly brown and hard.

They can go from brown to black like in no time, so keep an open eye. Once done, cool and store in an air tight container. Use within 3-4 days.

Flavored with garlic and pepper

Flavored with garlic and pepper

Try different flavorings:

  • pepper and salt – plain simple
  • garlic and basil
  • garlic and pepper
  • garlic and parsley
  • mixed herbs
Bits of Baked Bread

Bits of Baked Bread

Milee’s Very Handy Tip:

Use these croutons as sides to a dip! She mixed cheese spread and green chutney, made a light green dip. Dunked these bites generously into the beautiful hued spread and relished every bit. Kids! They come up with the best ideas.

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

I remember posting a recipe for pumpkin soup earlier. But this one is different. So cliched you would say. No, really. It’s different. A Thai version spiced with red curry paste and laced with coconut milk, gives the soup a spicy yet cooling effect. Cryptic? No, its simple. Red paste to heaten and coconut to cool.. getting both flavors without much harm done. So simple. And well so is the recipe.

Garnished with a little cream

Garnished with a little cream

Soups and stews are antagonistic to desserts where photography is concerned. To bribe anyone with pictures of soup is a mammoth task. I attempted various ways and I stumbled all the times. Soups make dreadful shots. I have no conniving methods(Read: Awesome clicks:) ) to garner attention to this post of mine.

I haven’t posted many yummy eats of mine just because I was not happy with the pictures. But perfecting shots is no piece of cake. And many a recipes were deleted in lure of those beautiful clicks. I was going to take a long time to improve, but that doesn’t mean, I should deprive you lovely people of fantastic simple procedures that I chanced upon. So, here I am.

Now, don’t mind the pictures, enjoy the rains with this spicy tangy yummy soup.

For rainy evenings....

For rainy evenings….

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped pumpkin
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic pods, minced or you could use 2 straws of fresh green garlic
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste – or as you like it
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp flour or powdered oats
  • salt to taste
  • Oil or butter – just a blob
  • Basil leaves to garnish – optional
Pumpkin, Red Curry and Spicy soup

Pumpkin, Red Curry and Spicy soup

Method

In a deep pan or pressure cooker, heat oil/butter. Saute the garlic and onions till pink. Mix in the red curry paste now. Throw in the pumpkin, tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Cook till done. Once it’s cooked, run a blender through the mix. If you like, you could strain the concoction or use it as it is. Now, mix a tsp of flour or oats to the coconut milk. Stir it in the pureed mix. Give it a good boil or two. If its runny, add more coconut-flour mix and if its thick, stir in some water or plain milk. Season with salt and garnish with chopped basil.

We have the spice from the red paste, a mild sweetness from the coconut milk and tang from the tomatoes. So many flavors!!

Slurrrp it away with toasted bread.

Hint of coconut to beat the heat of red curry paste

Hint of coconut to beat the heat of red curry paste

Creamy Mushroom Broccoli Soup

Mushroom Broccoli Soup

Mushroom Broccoli Soup

My kid loves mushrooms. Combine it with super nutritious broccoli and flavorful onions, you get this amazing amalgam of a supremely creamy, tasty bowl of health.

I know its peak summer in most parts of the world. Not really a good time for some hot soup. But unpredictable Bangalore weather coerces us to eat according to the sky’s whims and fancies!

Hence, when the birds sing and the skies open up,
Chilly breeze and roaring thunder fill your cup
Don’t mind the falling drops
Embrace it with arms wide open
and feel the joy in every plop
Its the fall that makes life grow
so make some soup and enjoy the show!!

My poetry sucks, but this rich creamy scrumptious soup doesn’t. So, when in mood for a nutritious hot drink, mushroom broccoli soup is the perfect healthy link!

Grated cheese to top! Cheese always helps.

Grated cheese to top! Cheese always helps.

Yumm Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 big onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • a tiny piece of ginger, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 potato, diced
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • chili flakes to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp minced broccoli and mushroom – for that extra bite in your soup
  • 2-3 cups vegetable stock – optional
  • 1 tbsp cream – optional
  • 1 tbsp chopped spring onion leaves to garnish
  • 1 tbsp grated cheese to garnish

Method

In a pan/pressure cooker, heat oil. Saute garlic, ginger and onions. Throw in the mushrooms, broccoli and potato. Saute for a few minutes. Add the vegetable stock or water. If using a pressure cooker, cook the entire contents for 3-4 whistles. Else, cover and cook till vegetables are cooked.

Now, once done. Puree the soup. Greet glistening, creamy, frothy, scrumptious. Yes, all that and more!

In another pan, heat oil. saute the minced mushrooms and broccoli. Pour in the soup. Flavor with salt, pepper and chili flakes. If you are using cream, stir it in now. Stir well. Garnish with chopped scallions and grated cheese.

The little bites of vegetables are like tiny treats with every sip!

Serve with bread croutons and sticks.

Tiny Bites with big slurps!

Tiny Bites with big slurps!

Note: Potatoes are added to give some body to the soup. You can skip them if you like.

Nutrition and Taste

Nutrition and Taste

Palak ki Daal/Spinach Lentil Stew

Most Indians would be amused by this post. Publishing a dal recipe is like….explaining a fish how to swim. An Indian from any corner of this multicultural diverse land has eaten and usually knows how to make daal – basic Indian lentil soup.

Palakura pappu, kirai paruppu, Dal palak, Palak aamti, palkaachi daal, Cheerayam parippum… varied names of one dish – Palak ki daal. Every state/community/caste in India has its own version. Some use channa dal, some toor, some arhar and some use mung dal.
Tempering also differs accordingly, some do it with garlic-onions, others with coconut and sambhar powder and some with just plain ghee, cumin seeds and asafoetida. The result is universal, a healthy concoction of protein rich lentils and nutrient dense spinach.

Palak ki daal

Palak ki daal

Here, I am posting, a mixed version of this humble daal. My mother made it without onions and garlic, but I have added the supremely aromatic strong roots to enhance more flavors to this simple dish.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup split yellow mung dal/pulse, washed and soaked for 15-30 minutes
  • 1/2 cup split green mung dal with skin, washed and soaked for 15-30 minutes
  • 1 big bunch spinach leaves, washed and chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, thinly julienned
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 big fat tomato, chopped
  • 2 spoons of ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 2-3 pinches of asafetida
  • salt to taste
  • chopped coriander leaves to garnish
Chopped spinach and soaked pulses.

Chopped spinach and soaked pulses.

Method

I use a pressure cooker to cook the lentils, its faster,saves resources and healthier. So, in a pressure cooker, throw in your soaked pulses, along with chopped spinach, julienned ginger, turmeric powder, salt and 1 glass water. After 2 whistles, switch the flame off.

Now, In a pot, heat ghee, add 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, saute the minced garlic and onions till they turn translucent. Now add tomatoes, along with red chili powder. Saute till water evaporates and the fat starts leaving the sides of the pot. This means, you have saute the contents really well, if you don’t want the smell of raw tomatoes invading your yummy dish.

Now to this masala, add the pressure cooked ingredients. Add chopped coriander leaves at this stage. Give it a nice mix, the consistency is semi thick, not very watery and not very thick. Give it a boil. Remove in a serving bowl. now make another tempering, of hot ghee, crackled cumin seeds and asafoetida. I also add a little bit of chili powder at this stage… hot ghee/oil brings out the redness in the chili powder.

Now pour this tempering over the stew, and enjoy with rice/rotis or as it is.

Dal Palak with puffed rotis

Dal Palak with puffed rotis

I made chappathis/rotis/phulkas(whatever you want to call) with this divine daal. Our lunch was complete, wholesome and nutritious.

Whole some lunch.

Whole some lunch.

Simple and earthy

Simple and earthy