Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hot Lemon/Lime Pickles

Lemon Pickles
Lemon/Lime Pickles are quintessential to an Indian pantry and very quickly becoming so in non-Indian pantries as well. These delicious pickles spice up and brighten any meal with their cheery citrus flavor. They are of course second only after mango pickles to pair with the traditional Yogurt Rice or Non-Dairy Yogurt Rice as well as any dosa, upma, other snacks and sandwiches. Yes, I really do mean sandwiches! We particularly love lemon pickles with grilled cheese, cream/cottage cheese, and nut butter sandwiches. Some friends love their crackers or rice cakes spread with almond butter and topped with the lemon/lime pickles ;-D - Yum!

In India the citrus fruit variously referred to as "cheru naranga", "elumichai", or 'nimbu' in the languages of Malayalam, Tamil or Hindi are really Key limes and are often referred to as 'lemons' in English there. These and the many other types of citrus available there are made into various types of pickles.

Tahitian or Persian limes are similar to Key limes but are quite a bit bigger and seedless. Either type of limes may be used for pickling; if using Key limes, just increase the number as they are considerably smaller. Lime rinds take a bit longer to marinate and soften than lemons. Lemons with their thick, spongy and softer rinds are ready to use sooner; in fact picked lemons can be eaten right after making although they would be softer and more flavorful after curing for a few days.

If you are in a hurry and do not want to wait for the few days to ripen the pickle, follow the shortcut methods given in the recipe for Lemon/Lime pickles with Ginger and Chilies. The lemon/lime pieces can also be sauteed in the spicy oil mixture for a few minutes. All these methods offer quite satisfactory results.

When I make small quantities, I keep the pickles in the fridge. But for storing large quantities as well as gift giving, I can them. Although the process itself is called canning, glass jars specifically made for this purpose are used according to the manufacturers' directions. Canned pickles can be stored at room temperature and do not need refrigeration until after opening.

Sea Salt is the best type of salt for making pickles rather than iodized. Although plain sesame oil (available in Indian Markets and health food stores) is best for pickling in general, you may use other mild flavored vegetable oils with good results. The toasted Chinese sesame oil is not suitable for pickling.

This is a basic recipe for hot lemon pickles; feel free to adjust the spices up or down to suit your needs - especially the red chili powder.

Main Ingredients for Hot Lemon Pickles
Makes about 4 cups


6 Lemons/Limes or 8 - 12 Key Limes (about 4 cups)
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/2 tsp ground Turmeric
1 or 2 pinches Asafetida
2 Tbsp hot Red Chili powder (cayenne) or to taste


Scrub the limes/lemons thoroughly and rinse and dry. Cut them into small chunks; leave the seeds in or remove them as you wish. The seeds have pectin in them and will release the pectin which will thicken the pickles to a jam-like consistency eventually. Add the salt and mix well. The preparation can be done up to this point and saved in a jar a day or two ahead before proceeding with the next steps.

The lemons will exude a lot of their juices upon the addition of salt - this is normal - the process of osmosis in action. The spices and the pectin from the lemons/limes will thicken the pickles after a few days.

Heat the oil in a stainless steel pan and add the mustard seeds when hot; when they start popping, turn off the heat.

Immediately add asafetida and the fenugreek seeds swirling to coat and cook slightly; add the rest of the spices including the red chili powder and mix well.

Add the lime/lemon pieces and mix thoroughly.

Place in dry sterilized jars with lids and place them in bright sun for a few days. If placing in the sun is not possible, just keep on the counter top. Shake/stir daily so all the fruit is mixed with the juices and spices.

When the rinds and the fenugreek seeds have softened, in about a week or so, the pickle is ready to eat.

Keep the pickles in the fridge and use as desired. Enjoy!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tom Yum Soup (Thai Hot & Sour Soup)

Tom Yum soup is a clear hot and sour soup bursting with the citrus flavors of lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, and lime juice. It is and should be on the assertive side so adjust the amount of heat by using more chilies or chili paste. We particularly love this soup on cold and chilly days or when under the weather.

It does not take much time to remove the tails or roots of the beansprouts and I tail them for a more luxurious feel as well as a neater look as the stringy roots make the dish look disheveled.

2 Servings


2 cups lemongrass broth
4 slices Galangal
4 Thai Birds eye or Serrano chilies
2 large shallots
3 Kaffir lime or regular lime leaves
1 - 2 Tbsp Hot chili sauce
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
4 oz Tofu
1 cup Baby bok choi
1 cup Bean Sprouts, tailed
4 - 6 fresh Button Mushrooms
2 green onions, sliced
1 lime, juiced
a few s prigs, Cilantro
Extra Hot chili sauce, to serve


Cut the tofu into large cubes; remove the stems from the mushrooms and cut the caps into thick slices. Slice the bok choi in large bite size pieces. Peel and thinly slice the shallots.

I usually slit the blossom ends of the chilies so that they can be easily fished out before serving the soup. Most people would not find accidentally chewing on the chilies a pleasant experience; they do look just like a green bean. Been there, done that!

Bring the lemongrass broth to a simmer with the salt, sugar, shallots, galangal and chilies. Crush the lime leaves in your hands to bruise them and add to the soup.

Add the tofu and gently simmer for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the bok choi and heat until very hot, almost to a boil - about 2 or 3 minutes.

Fish out the chilies and discard; you might like to fish out the galangal and the lime leaves also.

Add the mushrooms, bean sprouts, green onions, hot chili sauce, and lime juice to taste.

Serve hot immediately in warmed bowls garnished with cilantro.

Serve the extra Chili sauce at the table so that each diner can add them to their soup if they wish. Enjoy!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Atho - Burmese Style Greens With Peanuts & Sesame

Atho is another recipe that Amma passed along to us. Amma was an amazing cook - she took the greatest care in making even the simplest of meals and it showed. She also reveled in the joy of friendship and learning about different places and cultures - she had ample opportunities for both in her travels all over India and abroad. Her genuine love, simplicity, and gracious acceptance of everyone naturally made her very attractive to people. She made friends easily - better yet, cherished them. She also enjoyed tasting make new dishes and learning to make them. This is one such dish that she learned from her Burmese friends who migrated to India as refugees during World War II. Although traditionally made with field greens called "Bathua", spinach or other leafy greens work quite well.

Greens are very important in a vegan/vegetarian diet as they provide calcium and protein in addition to lots of other vital nutrients essential for everyone regardless of the type of diets. We ate greens of one kind or another every day in our household. Leafy green veggies are inexpensive and readily available in most markets worldwide; some examples are regular and Malabar spinach, collards, kale, radish & turnip greens, Swiss chard, etc. If you like exotic ones, try Malabar spinach, amaranth, and moringa leaves which are sold in Asian or Indian markets; you may also like sweet potato leaves. Another good reason for eating greens is that besides being tasty and nutritious, they are also very low in calories.

Atho is packed with protein from the greens and peanuts and redolent with the aromatic sesame. The combination of the sweet caramelized onions, earthy greens, smoky tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients combine to produce an amazingly delectable dish.

Note: Almonds/cashews can be substituted for the peanuts if anyone is allergic to peanuts; tried, tested, and terrific :D.

4 to 6 Servings


1 lb Spinach or other greens, cleaned
2 large ripe Tomatoes
2 - 3 Tbsp Oil
1 clove Garlic
1 large Red Onion
1/2 tsp Organic Sugar
1/2 tsp red chili powder/flakes
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup Sesame Seeds, toasted
1/3 cup roasted Peanuts


Toast the sesame in a dry skillet until golden and let cool. Roast the peanuts also if they are raw.

Wash all the veggies; thinly slice the onion, mince the garlic, and finely chop the spinach.

Broil, roast or grill the tomatoes until their skins char and blister. When cool enough to handle, peel and strain out the seeds. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and reserve along with the juices until needed.

Heat a little of the oil in a skillet or kadai and cook the garlic until golden and crispy; remove to a bowl.

Heat the rest of the oil in the same skillet/kadai and add the onions with a pinch of salt and the sugar and cook until caramelized and golden brown - they should be on the crispy side. Stir in the red pepper, stir and cook for a minute. Add to the bowl with the garlic and set aside.

Cook and steam the spinach in the same skillet until tender with the turmeric and salt; add a tiny sprinkle of water only if necessary. Spinach cooks in a couple of minutes; other tougher greens may need more time to become tender.

While the spinach is cooking, pound the sesame seeds first using a mortar and pestle until they are crushed well; add the peanuts and crush them coarsely.

When ready to serve, mix the onion mixture, tomatoes and half of the nuts and seeds into the spinach. Sprinkle with the cilantro, rest of the nuts and sesame.

Serve hot or warm with rice or roti and dal. Delicious! Enjoy!!

Pita Bread Skillet Samosas (Skillet Toasted Samosas)

Skillet Samosa with a Chapati

These skillet samosas are tasty as well as healthy and are very easy to make. You can use other leftover curries also as stuffing - e.g. Zucchini w/besan, Sweet potatoes w/Lankan spices, Paruppu Usli, etc. or even Vegetable Caviar! These samosas are great anytime; I even serve them as dinner. They can be eaten out of hand or with knife and fork - great for lunch boxes too.

Samosas can also be made with leftover chapatis/whole wheat tortillas; place the filling on one side of a warmed chapati/tortilla and fold the other side over and proceed as for pita bread samosas.

2 - 4 servings


2 Pita Breads
Potato Curry or Cauliflower Mince or another veg curry
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded (optional)
About 1 Tbsp oil or Ghee
GreenSweet Chutneys, or Ketchup to serve
Skillet Samosa using Tortilla and Pita bread

Combine the curry with the Parmesan cheese.

Warm the pita breads a little so they are pliable; cut in half and gently open the layers to form a pocket.

Stuff with a few spoonfuls of the stuffing; gently but firmly press the stuffed bread to enclose the filling.

Place on a medium hot griddle and brush with a little oil or ghee and cook until both sides are golden brown and crispy.

Cut them in half or in smaller wedges for serving; a pizza cutter or a sharp knife is handy for this task.

Serve hot or warm with the chutneys or ketchup. Enjoy!!

Sweet Potatoes With Lankan Spices

I made this curry using Jaffna curry powder, a lovely and generous gift from Mae. Jaffna curry powder is hot, dark, and handsome;D - it is a unique blend of darkly roasted spices typically a bit hotter than other curry powders.

Try sweet potato curry as an alternative to the traditional one using regular potatoes as a side dish or a filling for samosas or dosas. Although you can use any type of sweet potatoes, cream colored ones and the variety called Japanese Yam yield a drier curry more suitable for stuffing samosas. Or use a combination of the various types. For more on sweet potatoes and yams, see this post.

Jaffna curry powder is available in the Sri Lankan section of groceries in Indian markets; but if it is unavailable, use another spice mix such as kuzhambu podi, sambar powder, or regular store-bought curry powder.


2 large Sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Chana Dal
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 large Onion, any kind, finely chopped
1 hot green chile, minced
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, finely minced
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Jaffna Curry Powder
1 tsp Sea Salt
Half a Lime, juiced
4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, minced


Scrub and wash the sweet potatoes well. It is not necessary to peel them but you can if you wish. Cut them into 1/2" dice.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet and add the mustard seeds and dal. When the mustard seeds finish popping and the dals are golden, add green chile, curry leaves, onions and ginger with a pinch of salt and stir cook until onions are soft.

Stir in the sweet potatoes with the salt and turmeric; cover and cook until the veggies are tender stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the curry powder on top and stir cook for a few more minutes until the spices are mixed well into the curry.

Cover and set aside for a few minutes.

Serve warm sprinkled with the cilantro leaves and lime juice. Enjoy!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Palak Shorva (Spinach Soup)

Palak Shorva is a colorful and delicious new way to serve the traditional rice and dal. Typically dal is served over a mount of rice, but here the dal-based soup is topped with a scoop of the fragrant Basmati rice :D! It is practically a one dish meal as it has all the components for a balanced meal with dal, rice, nuts, and plenty of veggies.

Cashews are the perfect complement for this soup; but peanuts or almonds may be used instead.

4 - 6 Servings


2 large bunches fresh Spinach (about 2.5 lbs total)
1 cup split Mung dal
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 Tbsp Oil
1 large Onion
2 cloves Garlic (optional)
1 cup Thick Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp Dry unsweetened Coconut
1 Tbsp Coriander seeds
1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 hot dry red chile
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Lime/Lemon, juiced
1 - 2 cups cooked Basmati rice, for serving
1/2 cup roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
Tomato Coulis or Carrot Salad for serving


Tomato Coulis: 4 ripe Plum Tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped, juice from 1/2 lime, 4 Tbsp Fresh finely chopped Cilantro, 1 Tbsp Chili-Tomato Sauce or to taste; combine all the ingredients just before serving for best taste.

For the Soup:

Sort the dal, rinse well and cook until soft in water to cover, about 20 minutes or so. Add the turmeric and salt; set aside.

While the dal is cooking, toast the coconut in a dry skillet until golden and fragrant; remove to a plate and let cool.

Roast the seeds and chile (break the chile and shake out the seeds for a mild dish) in the same skillet without any oil until lightly browned and fragrant; remove to a plate and cool.

Combine the coconut with the spices and grind finely in a spice grinder.

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt until they are golden.

Stir in the spinach and cook until spinach is wilted and continue to cook until tender.

Add the dal into the onion spinach mixture and mix well.

Stir in the ground spice mixture along with the coconut milk into the soup and heat through but do not boil. Add boiling water if needed to adjust the consistency of the soup if it is too thick.

Remove from heat and set aside covered for a few minutes.

Stir in the lime/lemon juice into the soup just before serving.

Serve the soup in warmed wide bowls with a scoop of rice, a sprinkle of cashews, and a spoonful of either the tomato coulis or the carrot salad. Enjoy!!

Tina's Orbe'Mint Bruschetta

Tina's Orbe'Mint Bruschetta
Photo courtesy of Tina

Here's an unusual but simple and delicious appetizer with a funny name :-)! When you see the ingredients, it becomes clear that the name "Orbe'Mint" stands for Orange, Beet, and Mint. Tina had this memorable morsel at a restaurant; she liked it so much that she recreated it for us. According to Tina, "this bruschetta is delightfully colored and has an unexpected mix of ingredients flavored with mint and garlic. It is sure to work up your appetite".

I roasted two fresh beets until tender when pierced with a fork, to use in the bruschetta. Steamed beets may be used as well. I also used goat cheese instead of the ricotta. Yummy!

5-7 Servings


1 can beets
2 Oranges
1 clove Garlic (or use 1-2 tsp Garlic Pesto)
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp Soft Cheese
1/2 loaf Soft Italian or French bread, sliced
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
10-15 Fresh Mint Leaves


Slice the beets into 1/2" thick pieces.

Peel the oranges and separate into segments. Remove any membranes and seeds; slice each segment into half lengthwise.

If using fresh garlic, mash it with a pinch of salt (or to taste) and mix well with the cheese.

Spread the cheese on the bread slices and top with a slice of beet and orange.

Broil for about 3-5 minutes.

Sprinkle with the black pepper, top with mint leaves and serve. Enjoy!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Zucchini With Besan (Zucchini Side Dish With Garbanzo Flour)

Zucchini With Beasn
Thanks to Paji's generous shopping, I had a never-ending supply of zucchinis a year ago. One might ask why he bought so many in the first place since they are not particularly one of his favorites (the reason I grate them into soups) - huh :)! I made molakootal, aviyal, roasted vegetables, raita, bajjis and soup (wow, all that!) ... and still had a few zucchinis left! It seemed that I had a veritable "akshaya patra" of zucchinis! The frugal part of me with the motto of "waste not..." riveted into my brain could not let them spoil nor toss them into the compost bin. As I was determined not to be beaten into utter submission by a bunch of veggies, I had to come up with a novel way to use up the cornucopia of the zucchinis :D.

I had an idea to cook them this way - how could one go wrong with sweet, tender zucchini, and besan (garbanzo flour)? And not only did the zucchini disliking Paji love it, he avidly ate the leftovers (amazingly there was a little leftover) the next day for breakfast! I am sure I can count on even larger bags of zucchini from now on; I guess I better make sure we have plenty of besan in the pantry ;D.

Just a quick note on the concepts of akshaya patra and cornucopia: both symbolize abundance. In the Indian epic Mahabharata, the akshaya patra was given to Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandava Princes, by the Sun God to ease the difficulties of trying to procure food for himself and his entourage during his long exile. This wonderful vessel was the source of inexhaustible supply of food for the Pandavas while they wandered in the fearsome jungles.

According to Greek Mythology, cornucopia, the source of copious riches, is the horn of the goat Amalthea. Amalthea was entrusted with bringing up the infant Zeus when his mother Rhea wanted to protect him from his father Cronus who swallowed all his children immediately after their birth. When Zeus accidentally broke Amalthea's horn, he transformed it into a horn of plenty or cornucopia.

Note: Panch phoran (translates as the 5 spices), also known as panch phoron or puran is a whole spice mix from the North-East region of India and consists of five different seeds: mustard, anise or fennel, nigella (kalonji), fenugreek, and cumin; sometimes another seed similar to celery seeds called ajwain is also added. It can be easily put together using equal amounts of the individual spices. I usually add a pinch or so of each of the above-mentioned spices to the cooking pan.

The besan can be dry roasted in a skillet just until fragrant before adding to the curry or used raw.

4 Servings


3 medium Zucchini
1 Bell Pepper, any color (optional)
1 cup Besan (garbanzo flour)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Red Chile Powder (cayenne)
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Oil
1 tsp Panch phoran
1 pinch Asafoetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric


1. Wash and dry the veggies and coarsely chop them into bite sized pieces.

2. Heat the oil in a kadai or skillet and cook the panch phoran until fragrant and starting to pop.

3. Add the rest of the spices, chopped veggies, and salt; mix well.

4. Sprinkle the besan on top of the veggies and cover.

5. Cook on low heat stirring occasionally until veggies and besan are cooked and besan looks like coarse, but soft bread crumbs. Remove the cover for the last few minutes of cooking if the curry is very moist. There should not be any lumps of dry, uncooked besan left.

6. Serve hot with rice/chapatis, dals, curries, etc. Enjoy!!

Green Beans With Hoisin Sauce

Stir-fried green beans are a family favorite. Fresh or frozen green beans can be utilized to make this dish. Served over brown rice or other grains, it is a filling and nutritious dish. It is adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.

Since we did not have hoisin sauce in my pantry, we devised a substitute. A quick hoisin sauce can be made from simple everyday ingredients if you don't have a prepared one in stock or cannot run out to the store to get one. It is surprisingly simple and quite good. We made it based on a recipe Chellu found on food dot com. Hoisin sauce does double duty as a condiment with snacks or as a stir-fry sauce. Enjoy!

Kecap manis is a sweet, thick Indonesian soy sauce; kecap manis, chile sauce, toasted sesame oil etc are available in Asian markets and sometimes in supermarkets also. In case kecap manis is not available, use more of the soy sauce instead.

Ingredients for Hoisin sauce: About 1/2 cup sauce

3 Tbsp each regular Soy Sauce and Kecap manis
2 Tbsp creamy Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Molasses, Brown Sugar, or Honey
1 clove fresh Garlic, minced and mashed well
1 tsp Onion Powder
2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
2 tsp Chinese Chile sauce or Sambal Oelek
About 1/4 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper


Combine all the ingredients in a screw-top jar that will not leak.

Shake vigorously until well mixed.

Ingredients for Green Beans w/Hoisin Sauce: 4 Servings

1 Tbsp Sesame oil
1 lb Green Beans, topped, tailed and cut into two pieces
A pinch of Sea Salt
1 or 2 fresh hot red Chile, finely minced
2 - 3 Tbsp Ginger, finely grated
2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce, see the recipe above
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 cups cooked Brown Rice, ready to serve
2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds, to serve
1/2 cup Roasted Peanuts, Cashews, or Almonds, to serve


Heat a kadai/wok until hot. Pour the oil and quickly and carefully swirl to coat the sides.

Stir in the minced chile, ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or so until slightly browned and fragrant.

Toss the beans with a pinch of salt into the oil mixture and cook stirring until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the hoisin sauce and brown sugar and cook on high heat until beans are tender.

Coarsely crush the sesame seeds in a mortar using a pestle; add the nuts and crush them to break them up a bit.

Serve the hot green beans immediately over the rice sprinkled with the nuts and sesame seeds. Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quick Fried Rice With Tofu

If you have tofu and leftover rice, you can make a quick nutritious and delicious meal in no time at all. I happened to have a package of broccoli slaw (shredded broccoli stems with carrots and red cabbage) and frozen brown rice which made it very easy to incorporate veggies into this one-dish meal - great for a busy week-night. Harissa sauce seasons and compliments the dish perfectly - add a little or a lot according to your taste.

Other veggies may be used instead of the ones listed here. Regular Cole Slaw mix with shredded green and red cabbage with carrots is another option instead of broccoli slaw.

Another option is to use leftover Roti/Chapatis/tortillas or bread to make this into a Kothu Roti; tear or cut the bread into small pieces and use it instead of the rice!

4 to 6 Servings


1 block firm Tofu, about 14 oz.
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 - 3 Tbsp Oil
1 medium Onion, sliced
1 pkg Broccoli Slaw
1 medium Onion
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 pinch Turmeric
1 medium Bell Pepper (any color)
1 clove Garlic (optional)
2 cups cooked Brown Rice
1 cup Coconut Milk (optional)
2 or 3 Green Onions (scallions), thinly sliced
Sea Salt and/or Soy sauce to taste
Harissa sauce for seasoning and serving


Heat a wok until very hot.

Add about a tablespoon oil and carefully swirl to coat; stir in onions, ginger and garlic with a couple of pinches of salt and turmeric; cook stirring until onions are softened a little.

Toss the tofu into the wok and cook until slightly browned; add the soy sauce, cook until it is absorbed and remove from wok and set aside. The tofu will crumble if you add more ingredients and continue cooking and stirring.

Add a little more oil to the wok and stir in the bell pepper and slaw mix; cook and stir until veggies soften, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the rice, stir in coconut milk if using and heat through.

Add the tofu, a spoonful of Harissa, and the scallions; mix well.

Serve hot with extra Harissa Sauce for those who might like a little more spice. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Roasted Broccoli With Mojo Sauce

This is a simple but absolutely delicious dish that can be served as a first course or starter. It is also fabulous served as a side dish; I love to serve it with pasta dishes. When Tina made this recipe, we devoured every piece in record time. She lovingly massaged the freshly chopped garlic and oil onto the broccoli spears to make sure every piece was properly coated and broiled them. But broiling is lots of work as one has to to constantly turn the food to cook evenly and keep an eagle eye out to make sure food does not burn. In the interest of time (and work), I make it with a little shortcut - just roast the broccoli and then coat it with a garlic oil sauce. I could not resist adding a pinch of ground red pepper (cayenne) to the garlic sauce almost at the end of cooking. Spectacular!

Although I have been making wok-roasted veggies like this for a long time, did not know that the garlic sauce had a fancy name like mojo. Much to my surprise I found that apparently Spanish cuisine has a mojo sauce which is made the same way I do! They call it "mojo de ajo" translated as garlic sauce :D. When I checked it on line, (no surprise :-}) I saw that other cuisines influenced by the Spanish also have mojo sauce. If there is any extra sauce, it can be saved in the refrigerator and used for flavoring almost anything from casseroles, soups and sauces to other roasted or sauteed veggies.

Amma made a delicious garlic sauce that we used on everything from pasta to pizzas - in fact we never served pizza without it. Many are the jars of garlic sauce that Amma prepared for doggie bags and care packages as no one left the house without a jar or two once they tasted it.


1 bunch Broccoli, about 1.5 lbs
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves fresh Garlic
Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp ground hot red pepper (cayenne)
Fresh Lime/Lemon (optional)


Prepare the broccoli for roasting: Trim the stems ends a bit and separate into slim florets with long stems; peel the fibrous skins off the stems as they will take a much longer time to soften and become tender by which time the rest of the broccoli will be mush.

Place the broccoli with a teaspoon or two of the oil and a sprinkling of salt in a rimmed baking pan; shake to coat well.

Roast in a hot oven (400 - 425 degrees F) turning them over a few times to cook evenly until the broccoli is tender. Alternately, you may broil them or stir-cook them in a wok.

Prepare the mojo sauce:

Finely chop the garlic.

Heat the oil in a small pan and when hot, add the garlic with a pinch of salt.

Cook, stirring until garlic starts to color and becomes fragrant.

Stir in red pepper and remove from heat.

When Broccoli is cooked, stir in the garlic sauce, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper & the lemon/lime juice if using.

Serve immediately. The acid in the lime juice will discolor the broccoli if left standing.

Serve warm. Enjoy!!

Sai Bhaji (Dal & Vegetable Stew Sindhi Style)

Sai Bhaji is a wonderful rich stew brimming with protein-packed dal, greens, and veggies. I still remember when we had Sai Bhaji years ago thanks to a Sindhi friend who cooked it for us. Our friend commented that her family used lots of tomatoes in their cooking as they liked their food robustly red. Isn't it amazing that a relatively new food has found such favor in so many cuisines all over the world? I wonder how people made do before tomatoes came from the Americas! I believe that this recipe would have delighted her and her family because the ruby red Swiss chard which makes it quite red :D.

In India spinach (palak) or greens called "bathua" and Chukka/Khatta Bhaji are used to make this stew. Any leafy greens may be used in addition to spinach - chard, radish/beet greens, Malabar spinach, or kale. Gongura or sorrel leaves are good substitutes for the Indian Chukka/Khatta Bhaji which are simply sour greens. If sour leaves are not available, add more amchoor (dried green mango) to taste or finish with a little lime juice just before serving. In case fresh ripe tomatoes are scarce, good quality canned tomatoes may be used. Frozen spinach or other greens may be used instead of the fresh. Other winter squashes or orange-fleshed sweet potatoes may be substituted for the pumpkin. Sai Bhaji is delicious served with chapatis or over grains.

NOTE: The amounts of each of the different veggies can be adjusted according to your preference; to keep it traditional, there should be about a cup each of eggplant, potato and pumpkin.

6 - 8 servings


1 cup Chana dal (yellow/green Split peas are acceptable)
1 bunch Spinach/Swiss Chard
1 small bunch Sorrel/Gongura Leaves
1 small Eggplant, coarsely chopped
1 small Potato, coarsely chopped
1/4 Pumpkin or Winter Squash, chopped
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Ghee/Oil
1/2 tsp whole Cumin Seeds
1 Onion, chopped
1 or 2 hot green chilies, minced
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced (optional)
2 ripe Tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp ground Coriander seeds
1 small bunch fresh Fenugreek OR 2 Tbsp (dry) Kasuri Methi
1 tsp Garam Masala
1tsp Amchoor (dried mango powder) or more
Fresh Lime Juice (optional)
4 Tbsp Cilantro, chopped


Sort the dal, wash well, cover with fresh water and cook until quite soft but not disintegrating.

If using fresh fenugreek, leaves and tender tips only; discard the tough stems. Wash well and chop fine; set aside.

If using Swiss chard, separate the tender leaves from the ribs; chop the greens and set aside with the fenugreek. Chop the stems finely.

Stir in the chopped veggies and Swiss chard stems with the salt, turmeric and 2 cups of water and cook until tender.

Heat a small pan with the ghee/oil and add the cumin seeds; cook until fragrant and slightly puffed.

Stir in the onions, green chilies and ginger with a pinch of salt and cook stirring until onions begin to color.

Stir in the garlic and cook until softened.

Add the coriander and mix well.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook until soft.

Mix the spice mixture into the the dal.

Add the spinach, sour greens and fresh fenugreek to the dal mixture; if using the dry Kasuri methi, sprinkle on top after cooking is done.

Simmer the dal on low heat stirring often for about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with the garam masala and amchoor and cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the chopped cilantro leaves before serving.

Serve hot with rice, chapatis, or other grains or flat breads. Enjoy!