Saturday, September 5, 2020

Quick Creamy Pumpkin Soup w/Thyme-scented Pumpkin seed Topping

Creamy Pumpkin Soup
Quick Creamy Pumpkin Soup is ready within 15-20 minutes! This is one of my go to soups anytime I need a quick, easy, homemade soup. A can of pumpkin puree, a little coconut milk, some simple seasonings, and Et Voila! - comforting and flavorful pumpkin soup is ready!

Canned pumpkin makes this soup go fast but needs the help of spices and fresh herbs to breathe freshness. Pumpkin perks right up when smoky cumin, along with warming combination of ginger, red pepper (cayenne), and freshly ground black pepper. Thyme adds that fragrant freshness and a few sprigs can be added without a lot of fuss and the woody stems removed at the end. The dates add delicious caramel flavoer as well as a touch of sweetness. Don't forgo the topping; the delicious spice and crunch of the toasty thyme-scented pumpkin seeds amp up the flavors and adds the crowning touch!

Thyme-scented Pumpkin seeds make a wonderful snack or starter in addition to making a lovely topping for soups or salads. They also make a delicious and different garnish for all types of dishes where you want a lively flavorful crunch.


Freshly cooked or frozen pumpkin, winter squash or sweet potatoes maybe subbed for the pumpkin. Instead of the dates, 1-3 tsp Coconut Sugar/Maple Syrup maybe added.
Thyme-scented Pumpkin seeds are very easy to make and can be made up to one week ahead.

2-3 Servings


1 small Onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 (15-16 oz) can Pumpkin Puree
1/2 can Water OR Veggie Broth
1-2 Dates
2 Tbsp fresh Thyme
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp ground Cumin
2-3 pinches freshly ground Black Pepper
1 pinch ground Red Pepper (cayenne)
1-2 tsp fresh Ginger OR 1/4 tsp dry
1 pinch Nutmeg
1/4 cup Coconut Milk/Cream

1/4 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup toasted Pumpkin seeds 
2 or 3 sprigs fresh Thyme 
1 pinch Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pinch Sea Salt 


Make the topping while the soup is simmering. Heat olive oil in a small wok or skillet. Add the topping ingredients and stir for 2-3 minutes. If using raw pumpkin seeds, toast them until lightly browned and then add the rest of the ingredients. Cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Freeze any extra topping for longer storage.

Make the Soup: 

Cook onions and garlic in a 2-3 quart/litre pan until soft. 

Add the pumpkin, water or broth, dates, and spices, thyme. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 4-5 minutes. 

Remove from heat and stir in the coconut milk/cream.

If you prefer a very smooth and creamy soup, cool slightly and puree the soup using a regular or an immersion blender.

Gently warm the soup again just until hot. Taste for seasonings and add salt/pepper to taste as needed. If you prefer a thinner soup, add a little boiling water.

Serve topped with the thyme-scented pumpkin seeds. 


Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Monday, August 31, 2020

Masala Kadapa (Dal & Veggie Stew With Coconut & Spices)

A rich and delicious Korma-like stew, Masala Kadapa is a fabulous taste treat served with Idlis and Dosai in Kumbakonam -Thanjavur area, the Eastern part of South India. Masala Kadapa is just like Simple Kadapa but is enriched with the fragrant addition of a few more spices. It is phenomenal as a side served with Pongal, plain rice, etc. also.

Although split and skinless yellow moong/mung dal is the traditional dal used in this stew, I have used others with good results. For example, if I make Sambar or a Red Lentil dish, I usually cook a little extra Toor Dal/red lentils and put aside to use in making Rasam, mulagutal, etc. I also often add cooked whole Peas, Chickpeas, etc in addition to whichever dal I use if they happened to be available. 

The traditional Kadapa uses only potatoes; I love to add lots of vegetables in my recipes as they make them filling and rich in nutrients. I have included carrots, green beans, cauliflower and green peas in addition to the potatoe; choose your own favorite combinations. Most mild and sweet vegetables like sweet potatoes, zucchini, chayote (aka Bangalore Kathirikai), summer and winter squashes, etc may be added according to your preference and availability.

NOTE: 1 cup of coconut milk may be used instead of grinding the fresh/frozen/dry coconut; the rest of the masala ingredients may be finely ground in a spice grinder and added to the Kadapa. Almonds maybe substituted for the cashews. Remove and discard the cores of the chiles for a milder Kadapa; conversely increase the chiles and/or include the cores for a spicier result.

6 Servings


1/2 cup fresh/frozen Coconut (1/3 cup dried)
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 Tbsp White Poppy seeds (Khus Khus) (optional)
1 plump green Cardamom
1/2" piece Cinnamon stick
2 Whole Cloves
1 hot Green Chile, remove seeds if you like
4 - 5 Raw Cashew nuts or a small handful of cashew pieces
1 tsp Uncooked Rice

1/4 to 1/3 cup dry yellow Moong Dal
1 cup Cooked dried Whole Peas, Black-eyed Peas, OR Chickpeas (optional)
1-2 Tomatoes, diced
1 small Sweet Potato
1 small regular Potato, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 large handful Green Beans, thinly sliced
1 cup Cauliflower, separated into small florets
1 cup Peas, Fresh/Frozen
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1-2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 piece 1/2" Cinnamon stick
3-5 whole Cloves
1 Big brown Cardamom (aka Badi Ilaichi)
1 pinch Asafetida
4 small Shallots OR 1 small Onion, finely chopped
1-2 Green Chiles, minced 
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1-2 cloves, Garlic, peeled and minced (optional)
1-2 stems Fresh Curry leaves, sliced fine

1 Stem fresh Curry Leaves, thinly sliced
1 Lime/Lemon, juiced


Prepare Masala: Grind together the coconut and rest of the masala ingredients into a smooth paste using a small amount of water. Set aside until needed.

Rinse and cook the dal in enough water to cover until soft; pressure cooking speeds this process.

Add the prepared potatoes and carrots along with turmeric and salt to the dal and cook over low to medium heat until just tender, about 7-8 minutes.

While the dal is cooking, heat a small pan. Stir in mustard seeds and cover until they finish popping.

Stir in asafetida, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and onion; stir and cook until shallots/onions soften and turn slightly golden. Sprinkle a little water as necessary to keep the veggies from sticking or burning.

Tip the tomatoes into the shallot/onion mixture and cook until soft.

Pour the ground coconut mixture into the dal and veggies; use a small amount of water - a few tablespoons - to collect all of the ground spices clinging to the blender carafe and add to the pot. Or if you are using coconut milk, add it here.

Add the cooked whole beans/peas if using, the cauliflower and green beans, and the tomato mixture to the dal and veggies. Bring to a boil and cook until green beans are bright green and just tender - about 4-5 minutes or so.

Stir in the peas, remove from heat, stir in the curry leaves, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.

Finishing: When ready to serve, stir in lime/lemon juice to taste. Correct for salt as needed.

Serve hot. Enjoy!!
Masala Kadapa with Ragi Dosai

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Apple & Zucchini Raita (Apple & Zucchini Salad/Dip With Non-Dairy Dressing)

Apple & Zucchini Raita
 Apple & Zucchini Raita is a delicious new variation of the classic Non-dairy Zucchini Raita and  the original Pachadi/Raita. In Apple & Zucchini Raita, the mild, tender zucchinis shine and the apple adds sweet crunch - a fabulous combination, a match made in foodie heaven!

Apple & Zucchini Raita is a wonderful starter/appetizer by itself or paired with warm Roti, naan, parathas, etc (Indian flat breads), fried or roasted papadams, and/or your favorite crackers/chips. The raita makes a nice side for UpmaCheela, Uthappam, Dosa, Adai, Idlis - both the traditional and the quick types. The raita is fabulous with any meal anytime!


Any non-dairy yogurt will work; use a plain unsweetened and unflavored non-dairy yogurt such as cashew, almond, soy, or coconut milk yogurt. We love the homemade cashew/tofu/soy yogurt too; the recipe is given below.

The tadka/thalippu is optional; while it adds a nutty and mild spicy touch, it is not absolutely necessary. Instead, a little minced ginger and chile maybe stirred into the raita along with the veggies.

4-6 Servings


2 medium tender Zucchini
1 large crisp Apple, any color
1/2 small bunch Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
1.5 cups Plain Unsweetened Non-Dairy Yogurt 
Salt to taste


1/4 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 sprig Fresh Curry Leaves, minced
1 Tsp Fresh Ginger, finely grated (optional)
1 Serrano/Jalapeno or other green Chile, cored and minced

Apple & Zucchini Raita

Wash and grate the zucchinis; squeeze them and discard the juices or save it for additing to another dish or broth. The zucchinis need not be squeezed dry; just remove some of the excess moisture. Add zucchini to the bowl with the yogurt.

Wash, core, and grate/chop the apple. Add to the bowl along with the cilantro. Add a little salt to taste but not too much; raita should be sweet and not too salty.

Make the tadka/thalippu: heat a small pan and add the mustard and dal. When mustard seeds subside popping and dancing, add curry leaves, ginger and green chile with a spoonful of water; cover and cook for a minute to soften the ginger and chile, let cool a little and pour over the raita and mix well. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve as a salad, starter, or with any rice dish, Roti or Naan, curries/dal, Dosa, Adai and/or Upma, etc.


Non-Dairy Cashew/Tofu Yogurt:

1 cup raw Cashews soaked OR 1 block of soft/firm Tofu (14 oz)
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime/lemon, or to taste
1 pinch Salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup Unflavored Almond/Soy/Coconut Milk/Water

Place the drained cashews/tofu in a blender along with as much of the milk/water as needed to blend easily(use a little at a time), lime/lemon juice, and salt to taste. Blend until smooth like yogurt. Remove the cashew/tofu yogurt to a clean container and reserve in the fridge until ready to use. Non-Dairy Cashew/Tofu Yogurt will stay fresh for about a week. Happy cooking!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Mushroom Larb In Cabbage/Lettuce Cups (Vegan Minced Mushrooms With Ginger & Mint)

Shiitake & Cremini Mushroom Larb
Flavorful Mushroom Larb In Cabbage/Lettuce Cups is a fabulous treat composed of tasty, toasty mushrooms flavored with scallions, garlic, ginger, and mint. The brilliant mix of fragrant fresh herbs, crunchy toasted peanuts, the umami of the browned caramelized mushrooms, and the pungent, salt, sweet, and hot flavors make every bite of larb very interesting and extremely satisfying. This is one of my favorite way to enjoy mushrooms. Mushroom Larb makes a protein-rich, easy, and sumptuous lunch, light dinner or an appetizing and refreshingly pleasing starter.

Mushroom Larb is gluten and dairy free. 

Delicious Mushroom Larb is a one-pot dish as all cooking is done in one pan; after the mushrooms are done, all the other ingredients are added right into the same pan. I like to call them Laos/Thai tacos; the larb is served in lettuce/cabbage cups/boats and picked up with hands to enjoy without any need for utensils. Although one can serve them on fancy plates with knife and fork, it works great to pick up and eat - the bonus is less dishes to wash.

I love using assorted mushrooms for the larb as they all contribute their special flavors to the dish. Shiitake or other mushrooms like cremini are great by themselves or combined with other mushrooms. Although only shiitake and cremini mushrooms are given in the recipe, feel free to change up and add your favorite fresh mushrooms.

We enjoy serving and eating the warm larb in small assorted lettuce leaves (Romaine, Butter, Red or Green leaf, Belgian Endive, etc) and red or green cabbage cups. Besides making the dish gorgeous, the lettuce and cabbage provide a fresh sweet crunch and added nutrition.

When serving as a main meal, you may like to accompany larb with some hot cooked rice, tofu, and or other accompaniments.

Mushroom Larb

Instead of coconut aminos, soy sauce maybe used - be sure to check for gluten ingredients. If using soy sauce, you might like to add a couple of pinches of brown sugar.

I used a fresh red jalapeño this time and used only a little more than half. Chiles vary in heat so be careful to add less at first. You can add more chile after the taste test. If fresh red chiles are not handy, use 1-2 tsp Red chile flakes or to taste.

Larb is delicious with plain rice. Larb enclosed in a rice ball makes a lovely sushi-like snack.

Makes about 12 appetizer OR 4 Meal size Servings


2 Tbsp Uncooked Rice, toasted and ground (optional)
1/2 cup Roasted Peanuts, coarsely chopped
12 oz Shiitake Mushrooms
12 oz Cremini Mushrooms
1-2 tsp Oil
1-3 fresh Red Thai or other chiles, thinly sliced or minced 
4-5 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp Freshly grated Ginger
6-7 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2-3 Shallots, thinly sliced
1-2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos 
1 large handful Coriander/Cilantro, roughly chopped
1 large handful Fresh Mint, large leaves torn

Lettuce/Cabbage leaf cups for serving
1 head Red/Green Cabbage
1-2 heads small Lettuce
Lime Wedges


Prepare Toasted Rice: Toast the dry rice in a small pan stirring constantly until golden and puffed. Cool completely and grind coarsely using a spice grinder or mortar and peste. Toasted rice maybe prepared a few days ahead and reserved in an airtight container. If you have leftover toasted rice, it maybe added to any dish to thicken or add texture and nutty taste.

Roasted Peanuts: Toast the peanuts if raw and cool. If using roasted peanuts, crush or chop coarsely. Peanuts maybe prepared a few days ahead and reserved in an airtight container.

Lettuce/Cabbage leaf cups: Wash and drain the greens thoroughly. Separate the leaves of lettuce and use the smaller inner leaves. Cut them to desired size. Cut the cabbage into quarters if large and gently separate the desired number of leaves without tearing. Save the rest of the lettuce and cabbage for other recipes. The leaf cups maybe prepared one or two days ahead and reserved in a resealable bag in the fridge.

Prepare Larb:
Wash briefly/clean and wipe the mushrooms dry. Remove stems from the Shiitake mushrooms. Cut  both type of the mushrooms into small pieces (no need to mince); fine to leave them a bit chunky.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat and add oil, mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Let the mushrooms cook undisturbed until the bottoms turn golden. Stir and continue cooking until all the pieces are browned.

Sprinkle the ground roasted rice over the mushrooms and mix well.

Stir in the chile, garlic, ginger and shallots; cook for about a minute. Turn off heat.

Stir in the green onions and the coconut aminos.

Fold in the cilantro and mint; mix well.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of the peanuts for garnishing and mix in the rest into the larb.

Taste the larb and adjust seasonings - more chile, coconut aminos, a pinch of salt, etc.

Serve warm in the cabbage or lettuce leaf cups garnished with the reserved peanuts. Pass the lime wedges. Fill only the a few leaves at a time and eat right away before the the larb wilts the cabbage/lettuce.

Promptly refrigerate any leftovers; gently reheat and serve.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Mexican Style Street Corn Salad

Mexican Style Street Corn Salad, vibrant with the flavors of the roasted corn, lime juice, fresh and crisp greens, and zippy south of the border seasonings, is a truly delicious salad.This is a naturally gluten, dairy and oil free recipe.

Mexican Style Street Corn Salad is filled with tasty morsels of corn, peppers, assorted greens and nutty seeds. The mango is the perfect cool sweet touch to the refreshing and spicy fresh flavors of the other ingredients.
Mexican Style Street Corn Salad with Mangoes

Canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce is available in most markets; puree the contents of the can and store in jars in the fridge.

Frozen corn maybe used instead of fresh; pan toast in a skillet until slightly browned. Some markets sell frozen roasted corn which just needs thawing out.

Chipotle Crema Dressing dressing is lovely slathered on barbecued corn on the cobs or toasted frozen corn kernels; so save any extra in a covered container.

Instead of vegan mayo, vegan sour cream or cashew cream maybe used.

Instead of the mango, watermelon or other fruit maybe used.

4 servings


Chipotle Crema Dressing
2-3 Tbsp Vegan Mayo
1-2 tsp Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1-3 tsp Mexican Seasoning Mix
1/2 tsp ground Cumin
1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
Fresh Lime juice to taste (1-2 limes)

4-6 handfuls fresh baby arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
4-6 Leaves Romaine Lettuce, thinly sliced
4 ears Corn on the cob (see Notes)
1 sweet Red Pepper, chopped
1 handful of fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup Vegan Jack type Cheese, crumbled (optional)
1/4 cup roasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
6-8 Red Radishes, thinly sliced
Chile powder or Smoked Paprika for sprinkling (optional)
Lime wedges to serve
Nutritional Yeast for sprinkling
1 large ripe Mango, cut into bite-sized pieces


Prepare the dressing: Mix the mayo with the spices and juice from 1 lime. Stir well and taste. Add more lime juice and seasonings until just right. If the dressing is too thick to drizzle, add a little water a teaspoon at a time. Reserve in the fridge until needed.

Roast the ears of corn over a hot grill, or on the stove top. You can remove the husks, or keep them on. Roast them over high heat turning every couple of minutes, until they start to steam and get dark spots. Put them aside to cool.

When the corn is cool enough to handle, slice the kernels off with a sharp knife. If made ahead, reserve in the fridge and warm the corn before adding it to the salad. Add a spoonful of  the dressing and mix well.

Assemble the salad: Arrange the arugula, romaine, and radish slices in a large shallow salad bowl or individual bowls. Scatter the warm corn over the greens. Sprinkle the cilantro top, and drizzle with the dressing. Distribute the cheese crumbles (if using) and red pepper on top. Garnish with the pepitas and a sprinkle of chile powder and nutritional yeast. Pass the lime wedges.

Serve and eat immediately while the corn is still warm.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Peach Salad w/Oil-free Creamy Vinaigrette

Peach Salad w/Oil-free Creamy Vinaigrette is a refreshing and luscious salad when the fragrant and juicy peaches ripen in the summer. The creamy vinaigrette pairs perfectly with the sweet peaches, buttery avocados and the fresh greens. 

Oil-free Creamy Vinaigrette is a snap to prepare and is delicious on any salad. The wholesome and mild tasting oatmeal and hemp hearts help make it creamy. This dressing is so good that we love to make daily salads just to enjoy it! The vianigrette is oil, gluten, and dairy free.

Oil-free Creamy Vinaigrette maybe prepared ahead and will stay fresh for 1 week. Use this dressing to season your favorite salads.

Spinach, Arugula, Butter/Green/Red Leaf Lettuces, Curly or Belgian Endive, etc all work well as salad greens. Readily available Spring mix consisting of baby greens is another easy option.

4 Servings


1/4 cup Oatmeal
1/4 cup Hemp Hearts
1 medium Shallot
2 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1 Date OR 1 tsp Maple Syrup
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Water
1-2 pinches Dried Italian herbs

4 large handfuls of Salad greens
1 Carrot, shredded
1-2 large ripe Peaches, sliced
1 ripe Avocado, sliced
1 small handful fresh Basil/Mint leaves, cut into chiffonade


Combine all the ingredients (except the dried herbs) for the vinaigrette in the blender jar and blitz until creamy and smooth. Pour into a clean jar. Add a tablespoon or two of  water to the blender jar to gather up all the dressing clinging to it. Add to the jar along with the dried herbs. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasonings. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

Combine salad greens and carrots in a bowl when ready to eat. Divide among 4 bowls.

Arrange the peach and avocado slices on top. Drizzle the dressing over the salad.Sprinkethe basil/mint on top and serve immediately.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Easy & Tasty Zucchini Kimchi

Zucchini Kimchi
Easy Zucchini Kimchi is exactly that and tasty as can be. This is a fantastic recipe for a beginner's first foray into kimchi making; it goes together in minutes and the results are very impressive. Another great way to enjoy the abundant harvest especially if you grow these generous veggies or know someone who does! The tasty kimchi maybe served with any meal that needs a flavorful side.

We love fresh small batches of kimchi. I slice and salt the zucchini while preparing a meal or cooking. When the rest of the work is done, it takes a couple of minutes to finish the kimchi.

This recipe is gluten and dairy free; and oil free too if the sesame oil is not used.

Once you start making and enjoying this kimchi, you will find many ways to enjoy every morsel. I love to pile them on my avocado or peanut butter toast for a lovely savory breakfast, brunch or snack! You may like to double the recipe because it disappears very fast!


If Korean red pepper is not available, use about 1/4 tsp Cayenne or more to taste.

If you don't like ginger or green onions, they maybe left out. 

2-3 Servings


2 large Zucchini
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 small Onion, thinly sliced 
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 thin slices fresh Ginger, minced (optional)
1-2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp - 1 Tbsp ground Korean Red Pepper
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1/2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil (optional)
1 tsp toasted Sesame Seeds


Cut each zucchini lengthwise and then slice crosswise into half moons. Place zucchini in a large bowl and add in salt. Shake and stir until all zucchini pieces are  coated with salt. Let sit for approximately 25 - 30 minutes until zucchini gets wilted slightly. 

Press the zucchini firmly but gently without squeezing or breaking them to remove all the moisture; but doesn't have to be completely dry. Taste one piece to check for saltiness; if it is too salty, swirl with a little fresh water and drain thoroughly again. Blot dry with paper towels and place into large clean and dry bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients except the oil if using and the sesame seeds and stir until well to coat thoroughly.

Yay! You just made KIMCHI!

Place the kimchi in a clean, dry, sterile jar and cover with an airtight lid.

Although the kimchi is delicious to enjoy immediately, it is even better if it is allowed to ferment one or two days. To ferment, leave the jar on the counter. Shake or stir daily with a clean spoon to mix well and push all the veggies down so the liquid coats everything.  After one or two days, put kimchi in the fridge. 

Serve the fresh kimchi right away or wait one or two days. Drizzle with the sesame oil if using and sprinkle the sesame seeds just before serving. Delicious served with rice, other grains, or any way you like.

Zucchini Kimchi