Saturday, April 30, 2011

Orange Raisin Scones

Scones are perfect for tea time; they are also wonderful for breakfast or anytime at all! As they are easy to prepare and bake quickly, they make a wonderful after-school snack too. I adapted this recipe from Sunset's International Vegetarian Cook Book. Using half whole grain flour as well as including almond meal and one of my favorite baking ingredients - oats :-} - increases their nutritive value. Since they already have enough fat, I serve these lovely pastries without additional butter but with an assortment of jams or preserves. They are also wonderful just by themselves with a cup of coffee or tea, especially Masala Chai.

Orange Raisin Scones

For vegan option, use solid margarine and any non-dairy milk. Other dried fruits such as blueberries, currants, cranberries, or other berries or a mixture may be used instead of the raisins. Lemon rind and juice may be used for lemony scones; if using lemon juice you may wish to increase the sugar to 1/2 cup.

16 scones


3/4 cup Whole wheat flour
3/4 cup Unbleached flour
1/3 cup Almond meal (ground almonds)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Corn Starch
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg or 1 Tbsp Orange Zest
1/3 cup Brown Sugar, packed firmly
1/3 cup cold Unsalted Butter
1/3 cup Oat Bran
1/3 cup dry Wholegrain Oatmeal
1/3 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Any Milk

About 1 Tbsp Milk for brushing
1 Tbsp Sugar for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Combine the flours, spices, salt and baking powder in a sieve over a large mixing bowl; sift together to mix well. Stir in the sugar and almond meal.

Cut the butter into a few small pieces and add to the flour mixture.

Using a pastry blender or two knives cut the butter pieces into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle the zest on top, stir in the oats and bran, and add the juice and milk.

Stir well to bring everything together.

Turn out onto a floured surface and quickly and gently bring the dough together in a few pats and turns of the dough; handle the dough as little as possible.

Divide the dough into half and pat each into a circle about 1 inch thick.

Using a floured knife, cut each circle into 8 wedges.

Transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet; they can be placed close together but not touching. Alternatively use a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Lightly brush the top of each wedge of dough with a little milk and sprinkle a little of the sugar on top.

Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Serve warm with your favorite preserves or jams.

Any leftovers may be stored in an airtight container when completely cool and toasted to reheat. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gobhi Kheema (Cauliflower Mince)

A great and tasty side dish or filling for parathas and roll-ups! The dry fenugreek leaves and the combination of spices make this an uncommonly delicious curry. You can cook this dish two ways: if you stir-fry only partially covered, you will have a dry curry; if you cook it covered most of the time, you will have a bit juicier curry. So your choice - would you prefer a dry curry or a juicy one?

4 to 6 Servings


1 medium Cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1 large ripe Tomato, finely chopped
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen (optional)
2 Tbsp Dry Fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi)

Spice Mix:
1 Tbsp EACH Chana and Toor Dals
2 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
8 whole Black Pepper
2 dry red chiles (or use 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Kalonji seeds (Nigella)
1/4 tsp Fennel seeds


Spice Mix: Combine the dals, coriander and cumin seeds, black pepper, and red chiles (break the chiles in two and shake out the seeds for a milder curry) in a spice grinder and process into a powder; mix in the turmeric and salt and set aside.

Heat a large pan and add the oil and seeds for the tadka.

When the seeds pop, add the onions with a pinch of salt.

Cover and cook until the onions are soft and begin to color.

Sprinkle the spice mix and cook for a couple of minutes until everything is mixed well.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they are soft.

Add the cauliflower and the salt and cook stirring occasionally until veggies are almost tender; stir in the peas and cook until done.

Crush the fenugreek leaves and sprinkle on top, cover and set aside for about 10 minutes.

Mix well before serving.

Serve warm with rice or rotis. Enjoy!!

Smoky Chile Salsa

In my quest for good salsas, I have been experimenting with various dry red chiles when fresh ones are not available. Smoky chile salsa only looks fiery but is quite tame and delicious with the deep chile flavor of toasted chiles. If you want less a spicy salsa, remove the seeds from all the chiles before pureeing them; on the other hand if you want to kick up the heat a notch or two, leave the seeds in and/or add more chiles. This is an adaptation of a recipe from The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas. Another chile recipe to add to my collection :D!

Chipotle chiles (dried Jalapeño chiles) are available in most markets as dry pods or canned in adobo sauce; you will definitely find them in Mexican markets. If using the canned, there is no need to cook them; just use a little or a lot according to taste. Store the unused canned chiles and sauce in a sterile jar in the refrigerator; they last a long time.

I used both chipotle and fresh chiles for their different flavors to add depth and spice to the salsa.


6 dry Guajillo Chiles
1 or 2 Chilpotle and/or fresh Serrano/Jalapeño chiles
6 medium Tomatillos
2 or 3 cloves Garlic
1 tsp whole Cumin seeds, toasted and ground
3-4 green onions
1 small bunch fresh Cilantro
1 Tsp Sea Salt


Toast the dry chiles in a pan or in a hot oven: heat a cast iron skillet or griddle until hot and toast the chiles on both sides until dark spots appear and they puff up; if you roast them in the oven (400 degrees F), cook them only for about 3 or 4 minutes and remove them promptly so they do not burn.

Transfer the chiles to a small bowl of water and let them soak for a few minutes. When the chiles are softened, pull off the stems and discard.

Roast the tomatillos, garlic, and green chile if using in the hot skillet or in a hot oven until the skins are charred; let cool and then peel off and discard the charred skins.

Combine the ground cumin, tomatillos, garlic, green chile and the softened Guajillos in the carafe of a blender and process into a coarse puree. Pour the puree into a sieve placed over a bowl and rub the puree with the back of a spoon. Press and rub the puree well against the sieve to extract all of the salsa; discard the skins and seeds in the sieve.

Trim and wash the green onions: include both the white and green parts; chop finely.

Trim some of the stems from the cilantro, sort and wash well. Chop finely.

Mix the chile-tomatillo puree with the chopped ingredients and add salt to taste.

Delicious served with quesadillas, tostadas, and other Mexican-style foods. Enjoy!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Garlic Bud Chutney

Every year I like to plant elephant garlic in the fall. Come spring, the garlic plants begin to bloom; in order to spare the plant from sending all its energy into the flowers instead of the bulbs, I usually nip them in the bud. It seemed such a waste to throw those beauties in the compost so I sliced them and cooked them in a stir fry; they are remarkably similar to asparagus and absolutely delicious! I also use the buds and stems pretty much similar to green onions. One day it occurred to me to make a chutney with it. Elephant garlic is milder than the regular one and the bud is even more so. In order not to overpower the delicate garlic flavor, I simply made the chutney with only green chilies and coconut.

Garlic buds make a delicious and beautiful pastel green chutney. Green garlic and garlic chives may also be used in a similar way. Dessicated (dried) or frozen coconut instead of the fresh may be used to make this chutney.


5 or 6 Garlic Buds with stalk
1/2 cup grated fresh Coconut
2 or 3 hot Green Chiles (Serrano or Jalapeno)
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 Lime

1/2 tsp oil
1 pinch Brown Mustard Seeds


Cut off the stem ends of the chiles and remove the seeds if you like a mild chutney; juice the lime and discard the rinds. Chop the garlic bud and stalks into one inch pieces.

Place all the ingredients in the carafe of a blender and process until smooth; add a little water as necessary.

Pour the chutney in a bowl and top with the tadka: heat the oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds; cook until they pop and add to the chutney.

Taste and adjust the salt and lime.

Serve with Adai, Dosa Idli, Bonda or other snacks. Enjoy!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Torta (Hot, Crusty Sandwich)

Torta with ketchup and Chimichurri Sauce

This delectable torta owes its invention not to a mother, but a hungry child! It came into being when I tried to make something healthy and quick for Chellu's lunch. It was quite easy and quick to make as I had roasted veggies, whole wheat chapatis/tortillas, and some rennet-free Parmesan and goat cheese. Both kind of cheeses were delicious and the goat cheese was great for my friends who cannot tolerate cow's milk products. It is a huge hit with everyone who has tried them; utterly delicious - to live for!!

These tortas make great appetizers served in small wedges. Dry vegetable curries such as cauliflower or potato curry make great fillings too. These tortas taste like samosas when made with potato curry - without all the frying!

Makes 12 triangles


1 recipe Roasted Eggplant Spread
6 whole wheat chapatis/tortillas
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese OR 6 oz. fresh Goat Cheese
A little oil/ghee to cook the tortas


Heat a lightly oiled, seasoned cast iron griddle.

Cut the tortillas into halves and warm them slightly so they fold without breaking.

Spread 1/4 cup of the roasted veggies on one half of each chapati/tortilla piece.

Sprinkle a little Parmesan or the goat cheese over the veggies.

Fold over the chapati over the filling to form a triangle; and brush with a little oil or melted ghee.

Cook on the griddle until golden brown and crispy on both sides.

Continue filling and cooking the other tortas the same way.

Serve hot with ketchup, any chutney, or raita for a satisfying meal. Enjoy!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chile Pickles With Fennel and Fenugreek

Amma always shared all good things she made with her neighbors and friends and they reciprocated. I cannot forget the delectable taste of stuffed red chile pickles that a neighbor brought over when I was visiting Amma. Succulent, ripe, red chiles redolent with fennel seeds and other spices, they were so good that we ate them up without giving them a chance to mature!

I have tried to recreate the taste here as best as I remember. Red or green chiles may be used to make the pickles; I use green chiles when red chiles are not in season yet. Green Serrano or Jalapeno or red Fresno or Jalapeno chiles work well. With a touch of tart from the lime juice and fragrant with fennel, the green chiles retain their crisp texture and are decidedly delicious. Paji heartily agrees with me when I say that this recipe is a keeper and one to add to our chile repertoire :D.


12 red or green chiles (Jalapeno or Serrano)
1 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
2 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds
2 Tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
1/4 tsp ground Turmeric
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Lime, juiced


Combine the seeds and crush them in a spice grinder (or use mortar and pestle) so that most of the seeds are coarsely ground.

Cut off the stem ends of the chiles; remove seeds if you like a milder pickle. You can leave the chiles whole or cut each into 4 to 6 strips lengthwise.

Mix the crushed spices with the salt, asafetida, and turmeric.

Stuff the chiles with some of the spice and salt mixture or toss with the strips.

Place the chiles in a sterile jar.

Pour the oil and lime juice on top and shake to mix well.

Cover with an airtight lid and let cure for a few days. Shake daily to mix well.

Chile pickles should be mature and ready to eat in a week. Store in the refrigerator and use as desired.

Chile pickles are great served with rice, roti, and simple dals and veggies. Enjoy!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted asparagus spears are easy to make and simply delicious! Serve them as a side dish or starter. They are marvelous in sandwiches and wraps too.

4 Servings


2 lbs fresh Asparagus
5 or 6 cloves fresh Garlic
1 pinch Turmeric
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lemon wedges to serve


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Snap off the woody cut ends from asparagus; wash and drain well. Keep them whole or cut into 2 or 3 inch pieces on the diagonal. Smash the unpeeled garlic cloves enough to crush lightly but still keep them whole.

Pour the oil in a 9" x 13" rimmed baking pan and add all the ingredients.

Stir to mix well and bake shaking the pan 2 or 3 times during baking.

Bake for 30 minutes or until they are done to your preference. Remove and save the garlic for other uses.

Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature with the lemon wedges.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

White Bean Dip (White Bean Hummus)

White bean dip is a delicious Italian alternative to the regular hummus made with garbanzo beans and is just as easy to make. It is fabulous as a dip or sandwich filling.

Canned Canellini or great Northern beans may be used instead of the freshly cooked. I find that making this dip with the freshly cooked warm beans produces a superior result compared to that made with canned beans even without any oil added. Check this post on cooking beans if you like; cooking beans at home procduces delicious as well as economical results.


1 cup dry Canellini or Great Northern beans
1 sprig fresh Sage or Rosemary
1 Lemon/Lime, juiced
1/4 tsp Red pepper (Cayenne) + a little for serving
1 or 2 cloves fresh Garlic
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp fresh Flat Leaf Parsley for serving
1 or 2 Tbsp Good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil + a little more to serve
some Olives to serve


Sort the beans, wash and soak in plenty of fresh water. Drain the soaking water, cover with fresh water and cook with the herb sprigs until soft; discard the herbs.

Place the peeled garlic with a pinch of salt in the food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade; finely mince the garlic.

Add the warm beans, lemon juice, red pepper and salt. If using canned beans, add a pinch of the herbs as the beans will not have the advantage of being scented with them.

Pour in the olive oil if using.

Process into a smooth puree using some of the cooking liquid from the beans.

Scrape into a bowl and store tightly covered in the fridge until ready to serve; do allow it to come to room temperature before serving as it tastes best at room temperature.

Place the white bean dip in a shallow dish; drizzle with a little olive oil if you like and dust lightly with the red pepper.

Garnish with the parsley and olives.

Serve with toasted ciabatta or other good crusty bread, pita bread, etc, and/or crisp veggies. Enjoy!!

Cran-Apple Preserves (Cranberry Jam With Apples)

Cranberries and apples combine to make delicious and beautiful preserves! It is lovely as a topping for toast, pancakes etc. and also as a filling for cakes and jam bars. Cran-apple preserves over cream cheese on crackers make wonderful starters. The spices can be omitted if you prefer plain preserves. For longer storage, process using canning jars according to manufacturer's directions.


1 large Apple, peeled, cored and chopped coarsely
2 cups Cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup Evaporated Cane Juice or sugar
1 pinch Sea Salt
1 Tbsp fresh Lime Juice
1/2 tsp ground hot red chilies
1 Tbsp finely grated fresh Ginger
3 pods Cardamom, seeds ground


Combine all the ingredients (except the lime juice) in a large non-reactive pan; cover and cook over low heat until soft and jam-like. Be careful to stir well occasionally while cooking.

Remove from heat, stir in the lime juice and spoon into jars.

Store in the refrigerator.

Serve as a topping for toast, pancakes, waffles, etc. or as a chutney with meals.


Pumpkin Thogayal (Winter Squash Chutney - Spicy Pumpkin Hummus!)

Rice with Masoor Dal and Pumpkin Thogayal

Pumpkin thogayal is a delicious fresh chutney that adds piquancy to an otherwise bland meal. The original is called Pumpkin Kodal Thogayal (kodal = intestines/innards) which is made with the innards of an immature pumpkin with the idea of "waste not" in mind. But since Paji loves this chutney and we seldom have the good fortune to come by immature pumpkins (or their innards for that matter ;}), I make it with the mature veggies themselves. Butternut, Kabocha, or any other pumpkin-like mature winter squash may be used to make this thogayal.

It might seem that the amounts of tamarind and chilies given in the recipe might be too much; but they are needed to balance the sweetness of the pumpkins. Of course, you are welcome to adjust the tamarind as well as the other ingredients to your preference.

Pumpkin Thogayal may be served with chips, crackers, papdams, fresh breads, flat breads, etc for a delicious and healthy starter. Or use as a spread for sandwiches and wraps instead of hummus or mayo.


1/2 small Pumpkin, Butternut or Kabocha squash, 1 1/2cups
1 Tbsp oil
1/8 cup Urad dal
4 or 5 dry Red Chilies, broken into 2 or 3 pieces
1 pinch Fenugreek seeds (optional)
1 pinch or a tiny piece of Asafetida
1 lime-sized ball dry Tamarind pulp (2 Tbsp)
4 Tbsp fresh or frozen grated Coconut
1 tsp Sea Salt


Soak the tamarind in a small bowl with about 1/3 cup of warm water. When softened, check for stringy fibers, seeds, or shells and remove them.

Peel the pumpkin or squash and cut into chunks; cook/roast until tender. Let cool.

In a small pan heat the oil and add the asafetida chunk and fenugreek if using, dal and chilies (shake out and discard the seeds of the chilies before adding to the oil if you like a milder thogayal). Cook stirring until nicely toasted and the dal turns slightly reddish.

Lower the heat and stir in the coconut and stir well until coconut begins to be fragrant - about a minute.

Remove from heat. Cool well before proceeding further.

Combine all the roasted ingredients with tamarind and salt in the container of a blender and process until well ground but not smooth and pasty.

Add the cooked pumpkin and pulse or process on lower speed just until thoroughly combined and you have a uniform mixture.

Spoon into a container and serve or store covered in the fridge; use within a few days.

Delicious served with any pancakes like dosa and adai, idli, roti, rice dishes and curries/stews like molakootal, molagushyam, poricha kuzhambu, simple dal, etc. We love spreading the thogayal on toasts, wraps, and sandwiches too. Enjoy!!