Thursday, December 5, 2019

Fresh & Tangy Cucumber Salad With Chili-Lime Dressing

Fresh and Tangy Cucumber Salad With Chili-Lime Dressing is so delicious that even those who are not salad afficionados will enjoy it. The dressing adds sweetness, tartness, and heat; combined with crunchy fresh cucumbers, it is a match made in foodie heaven! 

Fresh and Tangy Cucumber Salad maybe served with any meal or enjoyed as a refreshing starter or snack. I love to offer it especially with Asian/Indian themed meals.


Use the greenhouse grown English type, Japanese , Armenian or the smaller Persian cucumbers. Regular cucumbers release a lot of moisture; but if only the regular types are available, remove the core and seeds and use. 

Fresh red chilies add a lovely flavor to the salad; if not available, soften dried chiles in warm water or use a little ground cayenne.

The salad maybe served with or without the nut/seeds.


1 clove fresh Garlic
1-2 pinches Salt
1 Tbsp Jaggery or Brown Sugar
3-4 ripe fresh Red Chilies
2-3 Tbsp fresh Coriander/Cilantro
1 Lime or Lemon, juiced

1 Large or 4-5 small Cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 Shallot, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp toasted Sesame Seeds, crushed
1/4 cup roasted Peanuts, crushed
2 Green Onions, finely sliced


Pound and mash the garlic with the salt using a mortar and pestle; add jaggery and mash together. Stir in chilies  and Cilantro, mash a little. Add lime or lemon juice to taste.  

Combine cucumbers and shallots in a large bowl and slightly crush with the pestle with a couple smashes. Pour the dressing over the veggies. Taste and adjust salt, jaggery and lime/lemon.

Sprinkle the toppings over the salad and serve immediately.


Pumpkins (Winter Squash) 2 ways: Thoran (Stir-Fry) & Kootu (Stew)

Pumpkins and winter squashes are versatile veggies-in-waiting which bide their time patiently to sit in the veggie basket, pantry, or cellar until needed. They last well for weeks which makes them a great veggie to keep for emergencies. Although I love them all, and give an equal opportunity to all types of winter squashes, my all-time favorites are full and sweet flavored kabocha and butternut; banana squash comes in a close second.... or is it third?!

Pumpkin or winter squash with coconut may be prepared in many ways. Here I have given two recipes: stir fry with coconut or a thick stew. Two very different tasting dishes with practically the same ingredients!

Kabocha does not need peeling as the skin is thin and cooks well. Some winter squashes need peeling as they have tough skins.


1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1-2 dried Red Chiles
1 Onion, finely chopped (optional)
1 Stem fresh Curry Leaves
1/2 Medium Kabocha, Winter Squash or Pumpkin, cut into small dice
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 cup fresh or frozen grated Coconut
1 hot dry red Chile (optional)
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds

Wash and cut into small dice the Kabocha,  peel the Winter Squash or Pumpkin before dicing.

Heat the oil in a kadai/wok or skillet and add the mustard seeds, dal and chiles. 

When the mustard pops and the dal turns pinkish, add the onion if using and curry leaves.

Stir in the kabocha or squash. Sprinkle the turmeric and salt, stir well, cover and cook until tender.

While the veggies are cooking, pound together the cumin (and the optional hot red chile if you wish), and combine with coconut.

When the pumpkin is tender, stir in the coconut mixture and cook until heated through.

Serve hot with rice/roti, Sambar, any Kuzhambu and a salad or raita.


Pumpkin Kootu - Thick Stew  - Kootu maybe prepared with or without tamarind. 

1/2 - 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1-2 dried Red Chiles
1/2 cup fresh or frozen grated Coconut

1 Winter Squash or Pumpkin, cut into small dice or thin slices
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1-2 Tbsp of Indian Jaggery or brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp Tamarind Concentrate (optional)
1/2 cup Toor/Mung Dal or Red Chori beans, Cooked (optional)

1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves

Masala: Coarsely grind the coconut with the cumin with a small amount of water - about 1/2 cup (and the optional hot red chile if you wish). Set aside.

Wash and cut into small dice the Kabocha; Winter Squash or Pumpkin will need to be peeled first.

Combine the vegetables in a medium sized saucepan with half a cup of water. Sprinkle the turmeric and salt, stir well, cover and cook until tender. Add the Indian Jaggery or brown sugar and tamarind if you like the kootu sweet and tangy.

When the pumpkin is tender, stir in the ground coconut mixture along with one of the beans/dal if using and bring to a good boil; remove from heat, add the crushed curry leaves on top and cover.

Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds, dal and chiles. 

Thalippu/Tadka: When the mustard pops and the dal turns pinkish, add the curry leaves and cook for a few seconds.

Add the mustard mixture to the pumpkin; allow the kootu to rest covered for a few minutes for the flavors to meld. 

Serve hot with rice/roti, any beans/dal, and a salad or raita.


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Traditional Mor Kali (Coconut-Scented Savory Rice Cake)

Mor Kali is an old-fashioned, home-style South Indian snack. Although called mor kali, this recipe has no mor (buttermilk) in it and is a naturally vegan recipe; not does it need any since the batter is fermented and is naturally a little tart. It is another instance of our foremothers being thrifty as well as innovative with leftovers. Mor Kali was often made with leftover batter from making Verum Arisi Dosai or Adai, a rice and coconut pancake; but since most everyone loves it, it was made at other times too without waiting for leftover batter. 

When batter becomes fermented, it devolps a lovely tart taste which is highly prized in Idli/Dosa/Aappam batters.

NOTES: Although Indian Sesame oil is the best for preparing Mor Kali, any vegetable oil may be used. If Indian sesame oil is not available, a couple of drops of Chinese sesame oil may be added at the end of cooking to add aroma.

I have used green chiles instead of the dried yogurt chillies (thair or mor milagai) typically used. Leave the cores in if you like the kali to be spicy.

I love the chewy dals in the kali. Others may prefer a more homogenous kali that glides effortlessly through the throat into the stomach; so if a smoother kali is prefered, the dals may be omitted without unduly diminishing the taste.

4 Servings


1 cup Parboiled Rice
¼ cup Coconut fresh/frozen OR 2 Tbsp dessicated
1 tsp Salt
2 tablespoon Sesame/vegetable oil
½ teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 teaspoon split white Urad dal
1 teaspoon split yellow Chana dal
2-3 hot Green Chiles, cored and minced
2 sprigs Curry leaves, chopped
1-2 pinches Asafoetida


Grind the dry rice into a coarse powder first; this helps to ease the grinding process after soaking.

Soak the rice in water for 24 hours; grind the rice along with coconut with a little extra water if needed. Mix in the salt and set aside to ferment in a draft free place for 24 hours.

The batter will smell sour and maybe a little foamy. Add water to dilute; it should be a thin batter, total amount should be approximately 1 liter or a little more than a quart after mixing.

Lightly oil a thali or a cake pan and keep it ready.

Heat oil in a pan and add in the mustard seeds and let it pop. Add in the urad and chana dals. Let the dals turn pinkish gold. 

Carefully add the curry leaves (they tend to spatter, so cover quickly), chiles and asafoetida. Cook briefly for a few seconds. 

Tip in the batter, cook stirring on medium heat. The batter will keep thickening. Keep stirring until it has thickened and does not stick to the pan anymore. Cover and let it steam on low heat for about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and spread on an oiled plate. Let it cool. Cut into squares and serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Okra Curry With Roasted Coconut & Tamarind (Vendakkai Thenga Kuzhambu)

Okra Curry With Roasted Coconut & Tamarind (Vendakkai Thenga Kuzhambu) is a delicious stew typically served with rice for lunch or dinner.  Delicious over plain rice, roti or yogurt rice.

Frozen okra work very well in this recipe if fresh ones are not available. Dried unsweetened coconut maybe used instead of the fresh or frozen.

Sometimes I like to add cooked toor dal to make it hearty; half a cup of dal should work very well. When adding the dal, increase the amount of spices, salt, and tamarind.

4 Servings


½ tsp whole Black pepper
2-3 Dried Red Chiles
2 tsp Chana Dal
2 tsp Coriander seeds
¼ tsp Fenugreek seeds
⅓ cup shredded Coconut, fresh/frozen

1 lb Okra
1 Onion, slivered thickly or diced large (optional)
1 Ripe Tomato, chopped (optional)
1 tsp Oil (preferably Indian Sesame oil)
½ tsp Mustard seeds
1-2 dried Red Chiles
1 pinch Asafetida
2 stems Curry leaves, finely sliced
½ tsp Turmeric 
1 tsp Salt or to taste
1-2 tsp Tamarind concentrate


Dry roast all the spices and dal listed under "masala" together except coconut on low heat until fragrant. Add the fresh shredded coconut, fry for a couple of minutes until slightly golden. Let cool and grind the roasted masala with ½ a cup of water to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Wash, dry and remove excess stems; it is not necessary to discard the caps. Cut okra into two if they are long; short ones may be left whole. Prepare onion and tomato if using.

Heat oil in a saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, and the dried red chillies. When the mustard seeds pop, carefully add curry leaves and cook until they change color. Stir in the asafetida.

Tip in the onion, cook for a couple of minutes or until they are slightly softened; add the okra, tomatoes if using, turmeric, and salt. 

Add the tamarind paste, one cup of hot water, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Pour in the ground masala and sluice the blender with a half cup of water to gather all spice mixture and add to the stew/kuzhambu. Bring to a boil again and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve hot with rice.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Lentil Burgers

Lentil Burgers
Lentil Burgers are easy, delicious, economical. When you make it yourself, you know exactly what's in the food - no preservatives, conditioners, or other strange stuff! The basic mixture can be prepared in many versatile ways: as burger patties, muffins, or a loaf - take your pick. I prefer making burger patties or muffins as they are perfect for individual servings and freezing - and the bonus is that they cook faster too!

Lentil burgers maybe served with buns and the usual accompaniments or by themselves with or without a Green Chutney, Tomato Chutney or  sauce, or Homemade Gravy.

Since the burgers freeze and reheat well, it is great to make a big batch of these; freeze for upto 3 months or so.


Do use the old fashioned rolled oats and not the steel-cut oats.

If you like the Lentil burgers well spiced, add more of the spices to the lentil mixture.

Ingredients: About 15 Burgers

1 cup dry Lentils cooked
1 1/2 cups dry Rolled Oats (old fashioned)
1/2 cup Finely Chopped Walnuts/Pecans/Almonds (Optional)
1 Carrot, coarsely grated
1 Zucchini, coarsely  grated
1 small bunch Green Onion, finely chopped
2 ribs Celery, finely chopped
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Cumin, ground
1 small bunch Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh Thyme leaves
1 sprig Sage, minced
3 Tbsp ground Flax Seeds
3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Each: Black and Red Pepper
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Sea Salt

about 1/2 cup Cornmeal for coating

To Serve:
Burger Buns or Pita Bread
Sliced Tomatoes, Onions, Avocadoes
Dill Pickles
Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo


Cook the lentils with about 2 cups of water until soft; let cool. Instant Pot is great for cooking the lentils.

Prepare the veggies and herbs. The celery, garlic, and herbs maybe processed in a food processor to mince finely with a few pulses.

Combine lentils, oats, nuts, veggies and herbs in a large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the lentils and mix well. Let rest for about 30 minutes in the fridge. This mixture can be prepared up to this point a day ahead of time and chilled until ready to bake.

When ready to bake:
Begin heating the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Form the mixture (about 1/2 cup) into burgers, coat with the cornmeal, and place on the parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the mixture is set and lightly browned on the bottom; flip the burgers and bake for 20 more minutes.

Instead of baking, the burgers maybe cooked in a lightly oiled skillet also; cook slowly over low-medium heat until both sides are browned, about 7-8 minutes total time.

Cool slightly before serving.

Serve hot with  toasted buns or pita bread.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Maple Roasted Carrots With Citrusy Carrot-Tops Chimichurri

Maple Roasted Carrots With Citrusy Carrot Top Chimichurri uses the carrots as well as their tops, a delicious, no waste, naturally gluten-free and vegan recipe. Multicolor carrots work really beautifully in this recipe. Maple Roasted Carrots are a perfect side for any holiday meal.

Chimichurri is a wonderful condiment for adding to anything you like, pasta, soups, stews, sandwiches, or salads. The chimichurri may be frozen; an ice cube tray is handy for this. When frozen, store the frozen cubes in a resealable freezer plastic bag or container. To thaw, remove the required amount from freezer and allow to come to room temperature. You can also use it to flavor soups and stews by dropping a cube or two in them.

Chimichurri may also be prepared using equal parts parlsley and cilantro. Also check out this recipe for carrot tops Chimichurri.

2-4 Servings


Carrot-Tops Chimichurri
3 cups Carrot-tops, washed, drained and finely chopped 
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
1/3 cup Red onions, finely chopped
1-3 cloves Garlic, minced
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
2 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
Key Limes - 1-2 Tbsp freshly squeezed juice
1 tsp Key Lime zest

Maple Roasted Carrots
2 lbs Carrots, washed, dried and cut in half lengthwise if very thick
1-2 clove Garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
7-9 sprigs fresh Thyme
Sea Salt, a generous sprinkle
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste


Carrot-Tops Chimichurri

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine well, scoop into a container with a well-fitting lid and set aside to allow the flavours to marry. You may use mortar and pestle to pound and mix the chimichurri into a sauce.

The chimichurri can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge. The olive oil may harden once it becomes cold. Remove from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for a few minutes until it softens again and then mix well.

Maple Garlic Roasted Carrots

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, a silicone mat or greased foil. Set aside.

Place the carrots on the baking sheet, sprinkle and drizzle the seasonings and maple syrup over the carrots. Shake the pan to mix well or use your hands to coat the carrots with all the ingredients evenly.

Roast for 15-20 minutes in the oven, watching to ensure they don't burn.

Remove and allow to cool slightly. Season with a little more salt if necessary.

If made ahead, store the carrots in an air-tight container in the fridge after they have cooled completely. They can be re-heated in the oven or the microwave.

Serve warm topped with the chimichurri.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Kathirikai Rasavangi (Eggplant Stew With Dal & Coconut)

Eggplant Rasavangi is a traditional South Indian Stew aromatic with freshly toasted spices and coconut. This delicious tangy stew is a nice alternative to Sambar or another Kuzhambu and can be served over freshly cooked rice or grains, Idli, Dosa, etc.

Although any eggplant maybe used, the long types hold their shapes better without disintegrating. Dried unsweetened coconut maybe used - use about 2-3 tablespoons.

2-4 Servings


Masala - roast and grind:

11/2 tsp Channa dal
2 tsp Coriander seeds
1-3 dry Red Chiles
1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/2 cup grated Coconut, fresh or frozen


2 long Eggplants, Japanese type preferably
1/2 cup Toor dal
1 tsp Tamarind concentrate
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 stem Curry Leaves
Salt to taste


1 tsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
11/2 tsp Urad dal
1/8 tsp Asafetida
1 Stem Curry Leaves, leaves finely chopped


Make the masala:
Toast channa dal, coriander seeds, and red chilies Cook stirring until fragrant and lightly browned in a small dry skillet. Stir in grated coconut and toast for about a minute. Pour into a bowl or plate to cool. Grind to a fine paste by adding a little water.

Make the rasavangi: 
Sort, soak the toor dal for 30 minutes in fresh water, drain and rinse. Add 1 cup of water and cook until soft, set aside. Dal maybe cooked in a pressure cooker.

Trim the ends of eggplants and cut into 3-4 pieces lengthwise; cut each section into halves or quarters  depending on size longitudinally.

Mix tamarind paste in 1/2 cup of water, and add eggplant, curry leaves, salt and turmeric. Cover the pan and let the eggplant cook in tamarind water for 10minutes on medium flame.

Add cooked toor dal, ground masala, and about 1/4 -1/2 cup water if the stew is too thick and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil.Turn off the heat.

Prepare Thalippu/Tadka: 
Heat the oil in a small pan or skillet; when its hot, add mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds. Add urad dal and dry red chili and cook for 30 seconds or until dal turns pinkish. Add curry leaves and asafetida and let it cook for few more seconds. Add the/tadka to the eggplant/rasavangi and mix well.

Taste the rasavangi and adjust salt.

Serve hot with rice or grains, roti, etc.