Thursday, January 28, 2010

Roasted Parsnips, Potatoes, & Peppers

Paji picked a peck of parsnips, peppers, and potatoes; I made the most delicious roasted veggies (also known as "fry") with them :-). Try these and you will be glad you did. These roasted veggies taste heavenly with a bowl of steaming rice and Rasam.

Parsnips are tan colored carrot-like vegetables with a lovely sweet flavor. Treat them as you would carrots - they can be eaten raw, boiled, roasted, or fried. Parsnips lend a wonderful flavor to stews and soups and along with turnips were the mainstay of Asian and European kitchens before potatoes were imported from the Americas.


2 medium Parsnips
2 medium Potatoes or 8 oz. Fingerling or other baby Potatoes
2 Bell Peppers (Capsicums)
2 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Chana Dal
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 sprig Curry Leaves
1 pinch Asafoetida
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
1 tsp Sambar Powder


Wash all the veggies well. Peel the parsnip and quarter the thick portions longitudinally; cut into 1" long pieces. Cut the potato (does not need to be peeled) into same size pieces as the parsnip; if using baby potatoes, cut in halves or quarters depending on their size. Remove stems and seeds and cut the peppers similarly sized pieces and set aside.

Heat oil in a kadai (Indian Wok) and add the dals and mustard seeds. When the mustard pops, add the potatoes and parsnips along with the curry leaves, asafoetida, turmeric and salt.

Cover and cook stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the peppers and cook until all the veggies are tender, about another 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the sambar powder over all and cook for a few more minutes stirring often until the spices are incorporated and the veggies are roasted and browned a little.

Remove from heat and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vegetable Enchiladas With Roasted Green Chili Salsa

If you like traditional Enchiladas, you will like these green Vegetable Enchiladas. The spicy, zesty roasted green chili salsa is what makes it green and is a delicious alternative for the usual red sauce. The grated vegetables combine with the cheese baking into a creamy goodness and contribute to a hearty but lighter meal.

The wonderfully flavorful salsa is
piquant with fresh lime zest as well as juice and is used as an ingredient in cooking rather than a condiment. I love using it for making both rolled and layered Enchiladas and Mexican Lasagna. The roasted chili salsa was inspired by and adapted from this recipe from Cook Yourself Thin.

The dark green Poblano/Pasilla chilies are available especially in Latino markets; some call them Poblano while others know them as Pasilla. If these as unavailable, the long green chilies called Anaheim work quite well; they are generally available in most markets. Roasted Anaheim chilies are also available canned. Jalapeno chilies vary in their heat - some are so mild that they can be eaten fresh like a cucumber while others are very hot; so check them carefully and use according to your taste. The jalapenos I used were mostly mild to medium hot.

If you use corn tortillas, this dish may be prepared similar to Mexican Lasagna. Whether prepared traditionally or as a casserole, enchiladas are delicious served with a crisp green or Jicama salad and frijoles Mexicanos.

Ingredients for Roasted Green Salsa: Makes about 4 cups

6 Pasilla/Poblano chilies
6 Jalapeno chilies
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch Cilantro, including most of the stems
Zest from 1 Lime
Juice from 2 Limes
11/2 cups water
2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Prepare a baking sheet by lightly coating with oil/cooking spray.

Wash and dry the chilies and place them and unpeeled garlic cloves in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Roast until tops are charred; turn over the veggies and bake until blistered and slightly charred on all sides.

Remove from oven and cool.

Alternately use the toaster oven to roast the chilies; I put them directly on the rack without any oils and roast until charred well on all sides.

When cool, peel the garlic cloves; peel the fine skins off the chilies and remove stems, seeds and the stringy white membranes. It might be tempting to wash off the seeds; but do not wash as the water will wash the flavor down the drain along with the seeds.

If you like a spicy salsa, leave the seeds in the Jalapeno chilies.

Thinly peel the zest from the lime using a sharp vegetable peeler (a micro plane is great for this job as it is very sharp) and squeeze the juice; make sure that you use only the green part of the zest - any white pith will make the salsa bitter.

Place all the ingredients for the salsa in the blender or food processor container along with about 1/2 cup of water and the lime juice. Blend into a smooth puree.

Pour the salsa into a storage container; swish the blender container with a couple of tablespoons of water at a time to get every bit of the salsa sticking to it. Repeat rinsing the blender container with a little water two or three times to extract all of the salsa stuck to it and combine with the salsa. Waste not ...... eh?

Mix the salsa well and check for seasonings; add more water, lime juice, or salt as necessary.

Reserve in the fridge until needed. This salsa will stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days.

Ingredients for Enchiladas: 8 Servings

1 dozen Corn or Whole Wheat Tortillas
1 Recipe Roasted Green Chile Salsa
8 oz. Grated Cheese (Mexican Blend or vegan)
1 small Red Onion, finely chopped
2 cups Corn Kernels, fresh or frozen
2 Zucchini, grated
1 Carrot, grated
Coriander Leaves/Cilantro, for garnishing
Salsa I, Salsa II or Avocado Salsa for serving

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Lightly oil a 9x13" pan and spread with a layer of the roasted salsa (about 1 cup).
  • Warm the tortillas so they are pliable and roll without breaking.
  • Combine the grated veggies with the corn kernels and onion and half of the cheese.
  • Spread the tortillas with some of the roasted green salsa.
  • Divide the veggie-cheese mixture among the tortillas and roll them up tightly.
  • Place the rolled enchiladas in the prepared pan.
  • Ladle a generous amount of the roasted salsa over the rolls.
  • Bake for 30 minutes; sprinkle with the remaining cheese and more salsa if the enchiladas are dry and bake until cheese has melted and bubbly.
  • Allow the enchiladas to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Serve hot with Salsa I, Salsa II or Avocado Salsa.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jicama Salad (Veggie Salad With Lime)

Jicama Salad

Jicama (pronounced "hic-cah-mah") is an interesting and nutritious root vegetable grown widely in Mexico and Central America. It sort of looks like a brown or tan turnip with mild, sweet, juicy, white flesh similar to that of an Asian Pear. Although it can be cooked, typically it is eaten fresh as snacks and in salads. It makes a lovely addition to crudites platter as it does not discolor upon exposure to air. Jicama makes a great alternative for water chestnuts in stir-fries retaining its crunch as well as mingling nicely with other ingredients.

Jicama is low in calories, very low in sodium, has a goodly amount of Vitamin C , a good source of fiber and is available year-round. A half cup serving of Jicama (60 g) contains only 25 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sodium, 3.2 g fiber, 5 g of carbohydrates and provides 20% Vitamin C needs of an adult based on a 2000 calorie diet. So go ahead and eat up - Jicama can contribute toward your 5 to 9 servings of fruits/veggies a day quite deliciously!

This is a very simple but delicious salad based on the Indian snack-vendor fare. Snack vendors in India often hawk various fresh/cooked veggies, fruits, bean sprouts, etc sprinkled with a spicy salt concoction like chat masala and lime juice. Lime juice and spices combined with a little salt bring out the hidden sparkle in many veggies and fruits. I particularly love the following colorful veggies for this salad; choose your own favorites according to seasonal availability for infinite variations. Chat Masala may be used instead of the salt and spices in the following recipe. Black Salt and Chat Masala are available in Indian Markets.


1 medium Jicama
1 Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced or slivered
1 Carrot/1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced or grated
1 Avocado, diced
1 Jalapeno Chili, seeds removed and thinly sliced or slivered (optional)
1 Lime, juiced
Ground Red Chilies to taste
Sea Salt/Black Salt to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper (Optional)
Fresh Coriander/Cilantro leaves for garnish


Wash, dry, and peel the jicama. Halve or quarter the jicama if too large and slice thinly.

Arrange the jicama slices and other veggies prettily on a platter and sprinkle with the lime juice, salt and spices.

Let marinate for about 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with the cilantro and serve. Enjoy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Crispy Vegetable Cakes (Healthy Hash Browns)

Here is a healthy and tastier version of the traditional hash brown potatoes made with the additions of carrots and zucchini. They look gorgeous too! These veggie cakes multitask from breakfast to dinner; they are fabulous on the breakfast plate and make a wonderful starter before any meal paired with green, tamarind, and/or tomato chutneys.

The besan (chick-pea flour) binds all the ingredients together while the rice flour and cornmeal soak up any extra moisture and provide the crunch factor. If you use the cereal/cracker/bread crumbs the patties will be crunchier. These can be made ahead and frozen; reheat in a 400 F oven for about 15 minutes or until hot and crispy.

Besan, rice flour, red chili powder, and asafetida (Hing) are readily available in Indian markets.

About 12 cakes


1 large Potato
2 medium Carrots
2 medium Zucchini
1/2 a small Onion
A small handful of Cilantro sprigs (about 1/4 cup chopped)
5 or 6 sprigs fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, leaves only
1 Jalapeno Chili, seeds removed
1/4 cup coarse Cornmeal
1/4 cup Rice Flour
1/4 cup Besan (Chick pea or Garbanzo flour)
Sea salt to taste
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Red Chili powder (cayenne)
1 pinch Asafetida
about 1/2 cup crushed cornflakes, panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or plain dry breadcrumbs for coating
2 Tbsp oil for cooking


  • Wash, dry and trim the potatoes and zucchinis. Grate them coarsely and add 1/2 tsp of salt, mix, and set aside.
  • Meanwhile finely chop the onion, Jalapeno, and the herbs. Coarsely grate the carrots.
  • Combine the chopped ingredients, carrots, the flours, red chili powder, salt to taste, and asafetida in a mixing bowl.
  • Squeeze out the excess fluid from the grated veggies and add them to the mixing bowl; the squeezed out juices may be saved for making vegetable stock.
  • Mix well and form into cakes about the size of your palms no more than a 1/2" thick. Coat the patties with the bread, cereal, or cracker crumbs if desired.
  • Heat a seasoned cast iron pan or griddle and cook the patties slowly with a few drops of the oil until golden brown and crispy on both sides.
  • If you need to make several batches of the patties, keep the cooked ones in a warm oven until all are done.
  • Serve hot with chutneys, hot sauce, ketchup, etc as you wish. Enjoy!!

Hoppin' John and Greens Indian Style (Black-eyed Pea Dal & Aloo-Palak)

Whether or not you believe in the idea of gaining good fortune for the New Year by eating of Hoppin' John and Greens the Southern way, you will definitely be eating healthy and tasty. Nor does one have to limit oneself to eating black-eyed peas only on New Years Day. :-) They can be made into various dals or salads, or added to stews and soups.

In honor of the Southern tradition, I made a dal using black-eyed peas, and for the greens, since I had a bag of spinach, I made Aloo Palak - potatoes with spinach. I served the dal and Aloo-Palak with fragrant Basmati rice and I sure feel very lucky that we not only had a wonderful meal, but also for all else to be thankful about. Happy New Year Everyone! May your lives be enriched with abundance of all kinds, love, peace and joy everyday!

This is a recipe that will give you two dishes for the effort of one! The sauteed onion mixture is common for both the dishes but then they diverge into the soupy dal and the potato and spinach curry each of which can be enjoyed on its own. You can make the dal with the black-eyed peas alone or in any combination of beans you like and use other greens such as Malabar spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, etc. in place of the spinach.

6 Servings


The Spice Mix:

2 Tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 large onion
1 or 2 Jalapeno or Serrano Chili
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Ground red pepper
1/2 tsp Sea Salt

For the Dal:

1 cup Black-eyed peas
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1/4 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
1 tsp Vegan Butter OR Coconut oil (optional)

For the Aloo-Palak:

1 lb. Baby Red Potatoes, cubed
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, finely grated or minced
1 large Tomato
12 oz. Fresh Spinach Leaves, chopped (about 4 quarts)
2 Tbsp Coconut Cream OR Vegan Butter


Pick over the peas to remove any debris such as discolored peas, rocks, etc. Cook in water to cover with the salt until soft. A pressure cooker may be used to cook the peas. Set them aside.

The Spice Mix: Heat a kadai (Indian wok) or a large skillet and add the oil and cumin seeds; cook until the cumin is fragrant and browned slightly ( a few seconds). Add the chopped onion, green chili, and salt.

Cook until the onions are soft, translucent and just beginning to color. Stir in the spices - ground cumin, coriander, red pepper, and turmeric. Stir well to mix.

Remove half of the onion mixture to a sauce pan for the dal.

Aloo-Palak: To the onion mixture left in the skillet, add the ginger and cook for a minute stirring well. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they are soft.

Mix in the potato cubes into the skillet, cover and cook over low to medium heat until potatoes are soft but not mushy.

Stir in the spinach and cook stirring until spinach in wilted; cook covered for a few more minutes until hot throughout. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut cream/butter.

Serve hot with your favorite dal, breads, or rice.

While the potatoes are cooking, proceed with the dal.

Dal: To the onion mixture in the sauce pan, add the cooked black-eyed peas with their cooking liquid and simmer gently for 15 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure they don't burn.

Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Stir in the butter/oil, coriander/cilantro leaves, and the garam masala before serving.

Serve hot with any type of breads such as naan, chapati, etc,  rice or grains. Enjoy!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Confetti Lime Rice (Rice With Vegetables & Lime Juice)

Confetti Lime Rice with Tapioca Papadam, Lotus root fries, and chopped Salad
I love to make the classic lime rice but often add lots of veggies not only for their beautiful looks but also for the taste and nutrition that they impart. This Lime rice is perfect for company meals as well as potluck contributions. These specific veggies were chosen as they do not discolor upon the addition of lime juice. Lemon juice may be substituted for the lime juice if limes are not available.

6 - 8 servings


1 cup Basmati or other long grain Rice
1 tsp Sea Salt or to taste


2 Tbsp Ghee or Oil
4 Tbsp raw Peanuts or Cashew pieces
2 Dry Red Chilies
2 Tbsp Chana Dal
2 Tbsp Urad Dal
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 pinch Asafoetida (Hing)
1 sprig Fresh Curry Leaves
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 a small Cabbage, coarsely shredded
1 cup Corn kernels, fresh off the cob or frozen
2 medium carrots, coarsely shredded
1/2 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
1 to 2 Ripe Limes


Wash and drain the rice in a fine sieve.

Bring two cups of water to a boil; stir in rice and salt and bring to a boil again.

Stir well, turn off heat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes undisturbed.

Heat the ghee/oil in a large kadai (Indian Wok) or skillet.

Cook peanuts/cashew pieces in the hot ghee/oil and stir until golden; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the dals, red chilies, and the mustard seeds to the ghee/oil and cook until the dals turn pinkish and the mustard seeds start popping.

Stir in the asafetida, the cabbage, corn, curry leaves, salt and turmeric and cook stirring until the veggies are tender.

Stir in the shredded carrots and cook stirring until heated through, about 4 or 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Add the rice into the skillet along with juice from one lime/lemon and fold in to mix well.

Taste for seasonings; add more lime juice and salt according to your taste. The rice should be a little on the tart side at first; the flavors mellow as the rice absorbs all the flavors.

Garnish with the fried nuts before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature with sprouted bean salad, chopped salad, papadams (crisp lentil wafers) or other accompaniments as desired.