Channa Almond Pomegranate Mason Jar Salad

Mason Jar Salads - replete with a protein and some fresh veggies

Mason Jar Salads – replete with a protein and some fresh veggies

Being on a salad spree is no fun really. Chomping on plain old carrots, chewing romaine and mindlessly mincing the veggie can be exciting for first few nights, but it sure gets exhausting when you intend to continue the salad sojourn for days to come. I know of this, coz it happened to me. But I want to diligently stick to the fad, so I fish for new ingredients, newer proteins and yet newer ways to eat my greens.

He was heading out. Not one to carry a tiffin, grabbing a sandwich or some street side junk are his usual options. Well, that was not be that day. I was determined to pack his supper.
Wide mouthed glass jars preserving fruit and vegetables seems like an incredible idea. They are air tight. No spill, no soil, no frills. So easy to carry around. And looks pretty cool too. Somewhat amused, somewhat intrigued, somewhat preempted, he took his tiffin 🙂

Toasted almonds - for that extra bite!

Toasted almonds – for that extra bite!

To add a protein to your vegetable bowl is a must. That extra mile on the treadmill is of no use if you don’t support it with a repairing agent. Lean muscles, shiny hair and strong nails give obeisance to exactly this necklace of amino acid. Yea, so all in all, it’s that important.

So I add channa one day, paneer another, Mung sprouts, soya nuggets, boiled peanuts, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, tofu and assorted nuts to give you an idea.

Kale channe or black bengal grams is what I used for this wonder salad. Its nutty. Its wholesome. It adds enough bite to fill your bowl as well as your tummy.

Lime - can't do without it!

Lime – can’t do without it!

Making the vinaigrette is therapeutic – for me. I love whisking lime juice and extra virgin olive oil. Pounding pepper, sprinkling rock salt, crushing garlic – oh yea! Me loves it. I try to stay away from creamy sugary dressings as it annihilates the entire purpose of me chomping on greens.

Good to go :)

Good to go 🙂

The recipe –

Ingredients

  • 1 cup black bengalgrams or kale channe, soaked for at least 7-8 hours
  • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, slivered
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate
  • For the dressing – juice of 1 lime, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove of crushed garlic, 1/2 tsp pepper powder and salt to taste.

    Method

    Boil the black bengal grams in a big pot of boiling mildly salted water till they are almost done. Drain and keep aside.

    For the dressing – whisk together all of the mentioned stuff.

    Toss all the salad ingredients except the almonds. Mix in the dressing. Toss well. Refrigerate if required for 30 minutes. While serving garnish with toasted almonds. I love the crunch from the nuts so I add loads!

    The good stuff

    The good stuff

    If setting into jars – pour the vinaigrette first. Then layer with boiled bengalgram, cucumber, pomegranate, tomato, onions, lettuce and lastly toasted almonds.
    the pictures show the channa and almonds finishing on the top as I wanted to photograph them that way 😉

    Make this your dinner

    Make this your dinner

    Angie’s Fiesta Fridays is something that I look forward to every Friday. She holds this virtual potluck party for all of us. Its one post where you get sweet savoury, mains, appetizers n gorgeous desserts all under one roof and not to mention a whole lot of wonderful enthusiastic bloggers too! So I’m taking a salad this time. What are you?

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    Red Bean Paneer Ginger Pomegranate Salad

    Rajma, paneer, ginger pomegranate Salad

    Rajma, paneer, ginger pomegranate Salad

    Sometime back, dishing up a salad was just tossing cucumbers and tomatoes generously sprinkled with lime and chaat masala. Not anymore. Not when I strive to eat huge big bowls of raw eats and wrack my brain to include assorted new vegetables and some form of protein. Most of the times I am successful and there have been times when I have been horribly let down. But lets not talk about the dampeners. I am here to give you a wonderful protein rich salad recipe that I concocted on a whim!

    Protein rich!

    Protein rich!

    I used red kidney beans. Soaked them well for over 5/6 hours, and boiled in a pot full of salted water, they added body to the salad bowl. The nutty soft texture from the beans laced with crunchy raw veggies makes for a succulent combination.

    Boiled and ready

    Boiled and ready

    A handful of these red pearly shiny fruit elevates the acidic salty salad to another level. Always add a citrus fruit. Some fruit, any fruit – orange segments, berries, kiwis, apples, cherries etc. The list is huge. But for now, pomegranates it is.

    These pearls add the required sweet and tartness

    These pearls add the required sweet and tartness

    Beans are slow to digest and if not boiled or chewed well, they can cause a lot of heartburn, acidity and stomach ache. So I added julienne ginger pickled in salt and lime juice as a bit of garnishing. Ginger aids in digestion and helps in absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients. Ginger is highly pungent so a little bit is enough for your salad bowl. Feel free to skip it if you can’t tolerate the sharpness.

    pickled ginger

    pickled ginger

    Mint!! Who doesn’t love mint! Its refreshing. Its aromatic. Its healthy. So, I added loads 🙂

    lots of it!!

    lots of it!!

    The Recipe: For two people –

    Ingredients

    1 cup boiled red kidney beans or rajma

    1/2 cup diced cottage cheese or paneer

    1 cucumber, diced

    1 red onion, diced

    1 tomato, diced

    2 tsp ginger julienne – soaked in little lime and salt for 30 minutes.

    1/2 cup pomegranate

    3 tbsp mint leaves, chopped

    For the vinaigrette – mix 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, juice of 1 lime, 1 tsp honey, salt and pepper to taste.

    Optional: 1 tsp more oil to sauté the cheese if you do not like it as is.

    Method

    Saute the paneer/cottage cheese if required. Mix all said ingredients except the vinaigrette. chill for 30 minutes. Pour the limey dressing over it. Toss. Chill for another 10 minutes.

    Serve.

    lemony dressing

    lemony dressing

    I like the paneer as it is, but I know many who don’t. A bit of sautéing or grilling does the trick to include it in your salads.

    She takes a bite

    She takes a bite

    When I sit with my bowl of raw veggies, I fish for my favourites and relish the juices from the marinated fruits and vegetables. Flavors like these make me go back every single night to these huge enticing bowls. So yumm!

    I am taking this to Angie Weekly Potluck party – Friday Fiesta #30!

    Vegetarian Chili

    It was a cloudy cold evening, the sun ready to bid us adieu. Outside the breeze was crisp and biting. The White Plains country side offered such majestic views that I for once sat awestruck and tongue tied throughout the drive. It was my first visit in the US. You know how it is with the firsts. We always remember those moments vividly. What is it about them that makes it so special… is it the visuals? Or maybe the setting sun or those beautiful stone imperial houses which carry a sense of mystery around them. The triggers are many. But for me, one thing that remains etched in my memory is the aroma. The divine cumin flavored fragrance which was so intriguing that it haunts me even now.

    Vegetarian Chili with brown rice

    Vegetarian Chili with brown rice

    We were invited by his boss for dinner. I was to meet them for the first time. And I was anxious, not to forget vegetarian and exotic in my cuisine, 10 years back, included just chinese and pizza-burgers. I ate a bit before we left fearing that what would a firangi feed? Maybe canned food or some frozen pizza.

    Well, we reach his august house, set in the outskirts of White Plains, NY. Dreading an anxious evening ahead, I was at my reserved best. I had decided to speak little, smile more and hardly eat.
    Ah! well, preconceived notions about a culture or a country can be so misleading! It isn’t really what Hollywood or those silly sitcoms show you – realized it pretty soon.

    The Spens family turned to be the most gracious hosts, ever! They greet us like they have known us all their lives, the man’s formidable appearance gets shadowed by his bear hug, the lovely delicate wife’s soft warm hands envelope mine in simple affection. The kids are so well mannered and amiable that I vowed to trash all my prized albeit deceitful DVDs. The house inside is warm, cosy and so inviting, a contrast to the august exteriors. The genial ambience made me chatty and smiley more than what I had planned! 🙂

    Protein Packed

    Protein Packed

    Inside on the stove, sat a simmering pot. A pot which emanated such amazing whiffs of cumin and spices and tomatoes and garlic. The entire house radiated with its essences. Apparently Mr Spens is the cook in the family. And that night, he made us a bubbling pot of Mexican Chili, a vegetarian version of the famous Chili Con Carne. Chili is a spicy stew consisting of meat, spices, tomatoes and cheese. But te vegetarian version replaces the meat with a meat analogue, such as textured vegetable protein or tofu, or a starchy vegetable, such as potatoes. These chilis nearly always include beans.

    Goes great with rice

    Goes great with rice

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups cooked red kidney beans or rajma
    • 1 cup assorted vegetables, zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, chopped
    • 1/2 cup tofu – optional
    • 1/4 cup, mixed bell peppers, chopped
    • 1 big onion, chopped
    • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3-4 green chilies, minced – optional
    • 2 tomatoes, red and ripe, chopped
    • 1 cup tomato puree
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tsp paprika or red chily powder
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • 1 tsp oregano powder
    • red chili flakes, optional
    • salt to taste
    • Cheese to garnish
    • Coriander leaves to garnish

    Method

    In a deep thick bottomed pot, heat oil. Saute onions, garlic and green chilies. Once slightly pink, then add the peppers. After a couple of minutes, add the tomatoes, along with some salt. Cover and cook till almost done. This will take about 10 minutes. At this stage add the chopped vegetables and pre cooked beans. Give it a mix. Add the tomato puree, along with paprika. Mix well and let the entire thing smolder for at least 15-20 minutes. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning.

    Season with cumin and oregano. Just before serving, garnish with cheese and chopped coriander leaves.

    Serve hot with rice or enjoy as it is.

    Rajma with vegetables

    Rajma with vegetables

    “Simmer… simmer as long as you can.. thats what brings out the flavors of the spices..”, he advices. He served the delicacy with basmati rice and some red wine. Needless to say, our dinner was divine.

    Memories

    Memories

    No matter how long I bubble, the spices I add or the beans I cook, I somehow fail to replicate the taste of the that night. Is it because it was my first, I wonder.

    Mexican Red Rice and a Burrito

    Mexican Red Bean and Corn Rice

    Mexican Red Bean and Corn Rice

    Mexican Rice is basically white rice simmered in a tangy tomato gravy – I lectured to my rapt mother. It’s a different feeling when you are educating someone who has actually tutored you all their life. The scene was no different from my 6-year-old playing teacher-teacher with me. Well.

    ‘Ah! Tomato bhaath’, mom said. I took a deep breath, ‘yes, tomato bhaath made a little differently’. Mom likes to relate anything she eats for the first time to something that she is familiar with. She does that a lot! For instance, Mexican chili is nothing but rajma rice with lot of vegetables for her or all our fancy dips are chutneys or Thai green curry is Kerala stew! But my almost 60 year old mum is game to new cuisines with such an infectious zest that she usually leaves you smiling and wondering what else could she come up with. 🙂
    Sweet mother of mine!

    I used corn and beans in my rice, topped with jalapeno and cheese.. umm yum! Wait, there is more. Layering with guacamole, fresh veggie salsa and loads of rice on soft tortillas – the lunch was a massive crowd pleaser and for once mother found nothing to compare it with. Yay!

    Mexican Red Rice Burrito

    Mexican Red Rice Burrito

    Mexican Red Corn Bean Rice

    Simmered in tangy skewed tomatoes

    Simmered in tangy skewed tomatoes

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes. I used white, can use brown rice too.
    • 1/2 cup boiled red kidney beans/rajma beans or any beans of your choice.
    • 1/4 cup corn kernels
    • 3-4 tomatoes, washed
    • 1-2 tsp olive oil, or any oil
    • 4-5 pods of garlic, minced
    • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp red chili powder/paprika
    • 1 tsp oregano powder
    • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • Garnish: chopped jalapenos, corinader leaves and grated cheese

    Method

    In a pot of hot boiling water, make half way incisions on whole tomatoes, drop them in boiling water. After a couple of minutes. Remove the tomatoes, peel the skin, liquidize in a blender to get about a cup of tomato sauce.
    Now, in another pot, heat oil. Fry garlic and onions till they turn translucent. Then add corn and beans, along with the soaked rice(no water). Saute the rice, corn and beans for a couple of minutes. Now add tomato sauce, sprinkle cumin powder, salt, pepper, paprika and oregano. Simmer for another minute or so. To this add another 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook till the rice is almost done. If required, add more water. Once done, cover and keep for some time, say 10 minutes. The covering makes the rice fluffy and soft.
    Garnish with cheese, chopped jalapenos and coriander leaves.

    Melted Cheese, Jalapenos add magic

    Melted Cheese, Jalapenos add magic

    Mexican Rice Burrito

    This burrito is healthy, filling and so tasty! I made it with whole wheat chappathis/Indian flatbread, you could use corn tortillas too.

    Corn for a bite, beans for the texture

    Corn for a bite, beans for the texture

    To make 2 burrito:

    Ingredients

    • 2 tortillas, any kind. Corn, Maida/Flour tortillas can be used. I made mine with chappathis.
    • 4-6 tbsp of mexican rice, or as much as you want.
    • 2 tbsp of guacamole
    • 2 tbsp of tomato salsa OR 2 tbsp of freshly thinly sliced veggies like carrots, onions, cabbage, peppers – all mixed with salt and lemon juice.
    • 2 tbsp of jalapenos, minced
    • 2 tbsp grated cheese
    • sprinkling of mexican spice mix – I used a mixture of dried herbs like oregano and some chaat masala. Feel free to add any flavor you like.

    Method

    On a tortilla, spread 1 tbsp guacamole. Line your salsa or veggies in the center of the tortilla. Place 2 tbsp of mexican rice on the bed of veggie-guacamole. Now, top with jalapenos, cheese and mexican spice mix. Try to make a tight roll. Place a toothpick to hold it in place if required. Serve immediately.

    Note: The original recipe called for tomato salsa, I didn’t have any, so I substituted with mixed thinly sliced vegetables.

    Note: Mexican Spice Mix is readily available in stores, but since I had none, oregano and chat masala came to my rescue.

    Note: Serve the burrito with sour cream by side – divine!

    Note: The husband likes things crisp and extra roasted. So I roasted the filled burrito on a hot flat griddle again, with the help of little olive oil. You can serve the burrito as it is too.

    Makes a beautiful burrito

    Makes a beautiful burrito

    Carrot Beans Stir fry Salad / Poriyal

    Carrot beans poriyal

    Carrot beans poriyal

    Simple vegetable stir fry seasoned with chana dal and mustard seeds flavored with coconut and coriander is PORIYAL in Tamil. Poriyals can be made with any vegetable of your choice. It is inanely simple to prepare and delicious with hot soft white rice(SIN!!).

    Settled in Mumbai for the past 5 years has not diminished my love for South Indian food. Infact, since I am not in Bangalore anymore where ever increasing in number Darshinis(self service South Indian restaurants) serve awesome authentic Karnataka/Tamil food, I try to make as much of it at home.

    Almost a salad!

    Almost a salad!

    These simple poriyals have fresh diced veggies in minimal spices and oil with just a wee bit of tempering. SO, its almost a salad. Most of the time you will find yourself eating it all by itself sans the sinful rice. Along with a big bowl of lentil soup(Daal), it accomplishes to make a complete meal for those weight watchers.

    Great alternative to those chewy boring salads.

    Great alternative to those chewy boring salads.

    A list of different vegetables that can make a yummy poriyal awaits for you at the end. But for now, its the recipe in queue:

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
    • 1/2 cup chopped french beans
    • 1 spoon oil
    • 2 tbsp channa dal, split bengal gram
    • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
    • 2 pinches asafetida
    • 3-4 curry leaves, torn
    • 2 green chilies, slit lenghtwise – use accordingly
    • 1 tiny piece of ginger, grated
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • salt to taste
    • 2-3 tbsp grated fresh coconut – reduce the quantity if you don’t like the taste
    • 1 tsp lime juice
    • 1 tbsp coriander leaves to garnish

    Method

    In a pan, heat oil. Roast channa dal on medium heat till light brown. Splutter mustard seeds at this stage. Sprinkle asafetida. Next goes in the curry leaves, green chilies and ginger and the diced veggies. Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder. Cover and cook till almost done. I like some bite to the veggies, so I leave it at 3/4 th done. But I personally know many who like their vegetables fully cooked. So, your call.

    Once done, sprinkle coconut, lime juice and coriander. Mix well. Turn the flame off.
    Serve with hot rice or chappathis or enjoy them on their own.
    This is one dish that need not be reheated. It tastes yumm even when cold( and I don’t mean, straight out from the fridge).

    Orange and Green... reminds me of our Indian Flag.

    Orange and Green… reminds me of our Indian Flag.

    Note:
    If you want your veggies to reflect the natural bright color, don’t cover and cook. Let the veggies be done without the lid and stir frying in between so as not to burn the contents.
    Chances are your mom would scold you for doing this. The nutrients vanish in thin air .. literally, but when we lidd the contents, the goodness doesnt go away. So they say.

    But, what I do is: When Im having guests over, and if this is on the menu, I let the colors shine, as presentation and colors should appeal to my guests. But when I make it regularly at home, I retain the goodness.
    PS: For the pictures that you see… you know what I did..;)

    I like some crunch!

    I like some crunch!

    Vegetables that you can use:
    1. Single vegetable can be made from using only carrot/beans/beetroot/cabbage/bottle gourd/potato/radishes/pumpkin
    2. Combination of two – carrot-beans / carrot-beets / carrot-cabbage / beans- potato / beans cabbage
    3. Boiled chickpeas can be used, and the dish is called “Sundal”, for this you skip the fried bengal gram.
    4. Boiled peanuts made into a poriyal make a very tasty and healthy snack.

    If you know of any more combinations, do drop me a line.

    Regular fare in any South Indian Home

    Regular fare in any South Indian Home

    Veg Burritos

    My entry to Vardhini’s (Cooks Joy) “Dish It Out – Lentils/ Legumes and Vegetables” Event:

    Dishing it Out!

    Dishing it Out!

    Mexican Burritos are essentially wraps with an assortment of leftovers. To arrange beans, Veggies, salsa, sour cream and cheese on maize flour tortillas, is really no big deal. But the result is soul satisfying. When you are famished, and lucky enough to have the right ingredients in your fridge, it will take no time to make this quick simple and healthy wrap. Devour it with a drink, in front of your television set or with a fabulous book in your hand. You might just end up eating more than you should.

    Mexican Veg burritos.

    Mexican Veg burritos.

    To make 4 Veg Burritos –

    Ingredients

    • 4 corn tortillas
    • 1 cup refried beans
    • 4 spoon full’s of sour cream
    • 4 spoon full’s of tomato salsa
    • ½ cup of thinly shredded veggies – cabbage, tomato, onion, carrot
    • red sauce and green sauce to taste
    • 2 spoon full’s of grated cheddar cheese

    Method

    For the beans: You could saute onions in oil along with bell peppers. Add the refried beans. Mix well and keep aside. If you dont have the time, use the refried beans as it is.

    For the red sauce: mix tomato ketchup and red chili sauce.

    Now, Place a tortilla on a board, take a big spoon full of beans and place it in the middle. Then, spread 1 spoonfuls each of sour cream and tomato salsa. Top with little shredded veggies. A few dots of green sauce and red sauce. 1/2 a spoon of grated cheese, and you are done decorating the tortilla. Now roll it up tightly. Traditionally the burritos is served as it is, but I tweak it into my Indian style by toasting the rolled up package again on a flat griddle, till it is crisp.
    Carefully remove on to a serving plate, serve with sour cream, salsa on the side. We like extra refried beans and veggies beside our burrito. So that’s how I plated it up.

    Note: I used corn tortillas, you can also flour tortillas .

    Essentially a frankie with rajma and hung curd!

    Essentially a frankie with rajma and hung curd!

    Filling and satisfying.

    Filling and satisfying.