Sunday, October 13, 2019

Cilantro Pesto, Vegan and Oil-free

Beautiful emerald green Cilantro Pesto, Vegan and Oil-free, has an amazing number of uses; it is fabulous as a dressing mixed with veggies, bean, and grain salads, as a sauce stirred into hot/cold pasta, roasted veggies, and soups, spread on sandwiches and wraps, as a dip for warm bread, as a marinade for tofu, or diluted with some lemon juice to make a delicious salad dressing.... the list goes on. It makes a great appetizer too: Swirl a spoonful or two into Hummus or place a spoonful in a small saucer to serve with your favorite warm breads/tortillas. This beautiful pesto, which is quite similar to the Indian fresh chutneys, can have a little kick to it if the Jalapeño chile has some or all of the core left in.


Almonds, pistachios, cashews, coconut, or other seeds could be substituted for the pepitas; if using coconut in place of pepitas, it does not need roasting; fresh, frozen, or dried unsweetended coconut maybe used.

A cooked onion maybe added while processing the pesto.


1 large bunch fresh Cilantro, about 2 cups packed
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Pepitas (Pumpkin seeds) OR other nuts/seeds, toasted
1 Jalapeño chile, cored for a mild pesto
1 tsp dry roasted Whole Cumin Seeds, ground fine
1-2 fresh Limes/Lemons, juiced


Roast the nuts/seeds you are using in a dry skillet without any oil to a pale gold. Remove from heat. Place the toasted seeds on a heat-resistant plate or bowl and set aside to cool.

Sort the cilantro to remove weeds and yellow or spoiled leaves. Wash thoroughly in several changes of fresh water. Drain well and trim off brown ends of the stems.

Peel garlic and trim the stem end.

Stem and cut Jalapeño -  for a mild pesto remove the core with the seeds and membranes using a teaspoon and discard; leave core in and/or use more chiles for a spicy pesto.

Place all the ingredients with half of the lime juice and process in a food processor container fitted with the metal blade or a blender until finely puréed. You may have to scrape the sides to push all the ingredients into the blades a few times. Taste and add more lime juice or seasonings to taste.

Spoon into a clean, dry glass jar and keep refrigerated until needed.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Black-eyed Peas With Greens, Kerala Style (For New Year's Day or Any Day)

Black-eyed Peas With Greens was inspired by the Kerala style stews; this stew is an amalgam of ingredients found in both the U.S. and India. Tasty, Simple, good and good for you, what's not to love? Black-eyed Peas With Greens can be enjoyed as a soup or stew depending on the amount of water you add. Black-eyed Peas With Greens is fabulous traditional fare for New Year's Day to bring good luck and good health!

Other greens such as Chard, Kale, Collards, etc maybe added instead of spinach; but these greens are sturdier than spinach and would need more time to cook. Add them at the same time as the black-eyed peas to the pot and simmer until desired doneness is achieved.

Note: Black-eyed peas cook relatively quickly even when unsoaked; so soaking is beneficial but optional.


2-3 Tbsp Coconut, dried unsweetened
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 dried hot Red Chile

1 cup Black-eyed Peas, cooked until soft
1 small Onion, finely diced
1 clove Garlic (optional), minced
3 Celery ribs, diced
1 Tomato, diced
1/2 tsp Turmeric
8 oz Spinach, coarsely chopped
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1-2 Stems Curry Leaves, finely sliced


Sort, soak if desired, and cook the black-eyed peas in water to cover until soft but not mushy.

Masala: While the black-eyed peas are cooking, combine the following and grind finely using a blender with about 1/4-1/2 cup of water. Set aside.

In a large pot, cook the onions and celery with a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of water until softened. Add Turmeric, garlic and tomato and cook for a couple of more minutes.

Tip in the cooked black-eyed peas, and coconut mixture and bring to a good rolling boil. Add a little boiling water to get stew or soup consistency. 

Stir in the spincach and cook just until wilted. Remove from heat. Stir in the pepper and curry leaves.

Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. 

Serve hot in bowls by itself or over cooked grains.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Green Papaya/Chayote Squash Salad With Lime Dressing

Green Papaya/Chayote Squash Salad is a refreshingly delicious, crunchy, and flavorful salad that can do double duty as a salad of course and a lovely starter or snack. I love to use green papaya but cannot always find it; chayote squash or jicama are great substitutes!

For best results, the veggies should be cut into match stick size julienne pieces or large shreds; but not finely grated. This is where you can show off your fancy knife skills or practice it!

This is a great make-ahead salad; prepare all the ingredients upto a day ahead; mix the salad with the dressing 10-15 minutes before serving.

Note: If you use seasoned rice vinegar, omit sugar as the vinegar is already seasoned with it.


1 Green Papaya/Chayote, peeled and coarsely shredded
1 Carrot, peeled and coarsely shredded
1 Jalapeno chile, cored and thinly sliced
2 Green Onions, white and green parts, sliced diagonally
1/3 cup EACH fresh Mint & Cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Unseasoned Rice Vinegar
2-3 tsp Jaggery or Brown Sugar
2-3 Limes
4-5 fresh young Lime leaves OR1 tsp Lime Zest
1 Tbsp Minced Ginger
1 clove fresh Garlic, finely mashed
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Ground Red Pepper (cayenne) (optional)
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
Black Sesame seeds


Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, juice from 1 lime, lime zest (if using finely sliced lime leaves, add to the veggies rather than the dressing) ginger, garlic, red pepper if using, and salt & pepper. Mix well.

Toss the veggies, herbs, and dressing together in a large bowl; taste and add more lime juice or other ingredients as needed.

Cover and chill for about 10-15 minutes before serving.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Smoky Almond/Mame Pâté With Caramelized Garlic (Almond & Soy Bean Pâté)

Delicious Smoky Almond/Mame Pâté makes a lovely appetizer, snack or even a meal especially when piled on a toast or salad! This is similar to the other wonderful recipe Chickpea Salad Spread. I am using the Japanese word for bean here as I like the sound of it!

I thought I had a perfect name for the lovely brignt carrot-colored Pâté until I introduced it to friends as "Sal-None Pâté"; one friend had a hugely violent reaction and chided me for picking a horrible name! Her aversion to the name was so strong that I gave up the idea. Oh, the things One does to appease one's friends' sensibilities! :-)


Soak and cook the soy beans until soft but not mushy. Check How to cook beans for info on cooking the beans. You may also use canned beans.

If soy is not an option, use cooked great northern or cannellini beans instead.

Roast or cook the garlic cloves until they are soft and golden. Uncooked garlic maybe used also but will have a different flavor profile.


2 cups cooked Soy Beans (see Notes)
1/3 cup Toasted Almonds
1-2 cloves Caramelized Garlic (1 tsp)
1/4-1/3 cup Vegan Mayonnaise
1-2 Tbsp Dijon type prepared Mustard
1 Carrot, finely grated
1 rib Celery, minced
1/4 cup Dill Pickles/Cornichons, minced
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/8 tsp ground White Pepper
2-4 Tbsp Lemon Juice, to taste
2 Tbsp fresh Parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Fresh Dill, finely chopped
Salt, Pepper to taste

Optional ingredients
1/2 small Red Pepper, finely minced
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Cayenne
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast, or to taste


If the soy beans are freshly cooked, drain (reserve cooking broth for soups or other uses) and let  cool completely.

Place the almonds in the bowl of the foodprocessor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until the nuts are chopped well into crumbs and without any large chunks. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

In the same bowl of the food processor, add celery and the fresh herbs and pulse a couple of times. Spoon into the nut bowl. 

Tip the drained soybeans into the processor bowl and pulse a few of times until finely chopped but not pureed. If you like a smoother texture, go ahead and process until desired consistency is reached.

Add the rest of the ingredients (start with the smaller quantities of some of the items and add more as needed) and the reserved almonds mixture; pulse a few times just until mixed well. 

Taste and adjust seasonings, add a little more carrots or celery, etc. Mix well.

Scoop out the Pâté into a clean container, cover tightly, and let chill for at least 30 minutes. The Pâté is better if it is made a few hours ahead to meld the flavors. 

Pâté may be made a couple of days ahead and reserved in the fridge until needed; tastes fresh for about 5 days or so.

Serve Smoky Almond/Edamame Pâté cold or cool on toast, as filling for sandwiches or wraps, or as a dip with veggies, crackers, and chips.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Cauliflower Lemon Rice (Grain-Free Lemon "Rice")

Cauliflower Lemon "Rice" (Grain-Free Lemon "Rice") is a delicious alternative to the fun and fabulous traditional Lemon Rice using finely chopped (riced) cauliflower instead of rice. This is a delectable recipe that is easy for family meals or potlucks.

Serve Cauliflower Lemon "Rice" with crunchy papadams and your favorite curries as well as  Lemon Rice, Tamarind, or Yogurt Rice. To live for!!

Note: Heat the cauliflower just until heated through; remove promptly from heat as soon as it reaches desired tenderness. Since the cauliflower is finely chopped, it will become mushy if cooked too long. Mushy = No fun.

2-4 Servings


4 cups Cauliflower, riced (finely chopped)
1/2 - 1 tsp Oil (optional)
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 hot dry Red Chile, whole or broken into two
1 small pinch Asafoetida
1 stalk Fresh Curry Leaves, finely sliced
Sea Salt to taste
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 Limes/Lemons

1/4 cup Roasted Cashews
Fresh Cilantro, chopped


Heat a large skillet and add the oil if using, mustard seeds, chana and urad dal, along with the red chile. Cook stirring over low-medim heat until mustard seeds pop.

Add asafoetida, curry leaves and the cauliflower rice; mix well.

Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt along with the turmeric and cook until the cauliflower is heated through just tender. Turn off the heat and let cool a little.

Squeeze one of the limes/lemons and fold with a thin spatula to mix gently but thoroughly. Taste and add more as needed. 

Set aside covered for about 5 minutes for the flavors to meld.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature garnished with your favorite toppings. Delicious!


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Rice Noodles/Sevai II - Puli (Tamarind) & Thair (Yogurt) Sevai

Puli (Tamarind) & Thayir (Yogurt) Sevai are delicious South Indian gluten-free Rice Noodle treats, prepared for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. These make fabulous picnic fare as they travel well and can be enjoyed at room temperature. Dried rice noodles, readily available in Indian and Asian Markets, make quick work of making these wonderful dishes. 

Once you have cooked the plain sevai (rice noodles), it is transformed by adding the appropriate ingredients. Puli (Tamarind) Sevai is one of our all time favorites as is Thair (Yogurt) Sevai. Both are prepared in similar ways as Tamarind Rice and "Yogurt" Rice.

Plain Sevai

8 oz dry Rice Sevai aka Rice Noodles or Sticks

Prepare the sevai according to the package directions and drain well. If you salt the water to cook the sevai, you may not need much additional salt afterwards. Spread the sevai on a large platter to cool so they don't all stick and clump together into one big mass. Use the sevai in the following ways or check out Rice Noodles I; 8 oz of dry sevai should provide about 5-6 cups cooked, enough for the following recipes.

Divide the cooked noodles by taking out what is needed for Tamarind Sevai; what is left should be enough to prepare the Yogurt Sevai.

Quick Puli Or Tamarind Sevai - Peanuts are great here although cashews or almonds are good too. The brown chickpeas also go well with puli sevai. If Indian Sesame oil is unavailable, toast the seeds and seasoning without any oil and add about 1/2 teaspoon Chinese style toasted sesame oil when mixing with the noodles at the end.

Puliyodharai/puliyogare mix makes it easy to prepare Tamarind Sevai practically instantly; it is readily available in Indian markets; I like Mother's, Shakti, or MTR brands.

Serves 4


½ Tsp Oil, preferably Indian Sesame Oil
½ Tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Chana dal
1 Tbsp Urad dal
1 pinch Asafetida (Hing powder) (optinoal)
1-2 dried Red Chiles, broken into two
1 sprig of fresh Curry leaves, finely sliced

1/4 - 1/2 Tsp Turmeric
2-3 Tbsp Puliyogare Mix
3 cups Cooked Plain Sevai (see above)
Salt or to taste
2 Tbsp toasted Peanuts or Cashew pieces
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds


Have ready cooked sevai according to the package directions, drained well, and cool.

Heat a Kadai (Indian wok), a 2-3 quart pan, or a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the oil, mustard seeds, Chana dal and Urad dal along with the red cchile when the oil is hot; lower the heat and cover with a lid to keep the mustard seeds from escaping when the mustard begins to pop.

When the mustard seeds finish popping, add the asafoetida quickly if using, along with the curry leaves; cook for about a minute until curry leaves change color slightly.

Stir in the Puliyogare mix; stir for a few minutes or until well mixed. Remove from heat.

Mix in the sevai gently but thouroughly. Taste and add a little Salt if needed.

Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with the sesame seeds and cashews/peanuts.

We enjoy the Puli Sevai with Chopped Salad with lots of tomatoes, a whole bean Chundal/SundalAviyal, or Non-Dairy Mor Kuzhambu, and papadams.


Yogurt (Thayir) Sevai

4-6 Servings


2-3 cups cooked Plain Sevai

2 cups Non-dairy Yogurt
1 tsp Sea Salt

1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 hot Green Chile, cored and minced
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
1 Stem Curry Leaves, sliced
1 pinch Asafetida (optional)

To Serve:

Roasted Cashews
Finely chopped Cucumber or grated Carrots
Pomegranate Arils, Ripe Mango cubes, cut sweet grapes, etc 
Mango or Lemon Pickles
Gothsu or other curries


Combine the cooked sevai with the yogurt and salt in a bowl.

Heat a small pan and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the asafetida.

Remove the pan from heat and carefully stir in the ginger, green chile, and the curry leaves with a pinch of salt.

Return to heat, add a teaspoon of water if too dry, and cook until the green chiles are softened.

Pour the spice mix over the noodle-yogurt mixture; stir well and check for seasonings; add a little salt if needed - yogurt sevai should have some salt but not be salty.

Let sit covered for about 30 minutes if you can wait :-). Yogurt Sevai gets better with a little rest allowing all the flavors to combine and marry. Yogurt Sevai is best the same day it is prepared.

Any leftovers may be stored in the fridge and served gently warmed as cold hardens the noodles.

Serve at room temperature. Sprinkle each serving with cucumber, carrots, pomegranate arils, mango cubes, chopped roasted cashews, etc if you like.

Traditional accompaniments are Mango/Lemon Pickles, Eggplant or another type of Gothsu, any curry, fried yogurt chiles, etc.


Friday, October 4, 2019

Paruppu Thogayal (Hummus-like Dal Chutney)

Mild and savory Paruppu Thogayal is a delicious hummus-like thick chutney or spread. It is practically instant because the dal is toasted and you don't have to prepare and cook the beans as in traditional hummus! It is usually served with tamarind flavored stews or kuzhambus like Vathal Kuzhambu I or II and Rasams. Paruppu Thogayal is wonderful with chapatis, toast, crackers, raw veggies, or mixed with freshly cooked rice or other grains. 

Frozen grated coconut is available at Indian and Latino markets. If fresh or frozen coconut is not available, use unsweetened dessicated coconut which is sold in Indian as well as middle eastern markets.

Makes about 1 cup


1/2 cup Yellow Mung dal or Toor dal
1/2 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Whole Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
1 dried hot Red Chile (optional)
1/4 cup fresh/frozen coconut


Toast the dals, cumin, pepper, and chile if using in a dry skillet without any oil until the dal is lightly roasted and fragrant; pour into a plate and let cool.

Place the toasted ingredients along with the coconut and salt in the carafe of a blender.

Add water a little at a time and process into a thick chutney.

Scrape into a serving dish and serve.  If not serving right away, keep covered in the fridge until needed.

Paruppu thogayal will stay fresh if stored in clean jars or containers with lids in the fridge for about a week.  Enjoy!!