Saturday, August 31, 2019

Easy Gluten Free Apple Crumble w/Berries

Here's a wonderful Apple Crumble that can do double duty as a luscious dessert or as part of a warm weekend brunch! Or anyway and anytime you like. Gluten and Dairy -free, it is a welcome addition to any table.

Other berries or pitted cherries maybe used instead of the blueberries. Finely chopped or coarsely ground almonds, walnuts etc maybe added to the topping. 

Serves: 6


6 medium Apples
1 pinch Salt
Juice & grated zest of 1 lime or lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup Dates, chopped
1-2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
½ cup Blueberries

Crumble Topping:
1 cup Oatmeal
1/2 cup nuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp ground Flax seeds

To Serve:
1/2 cup Cashew or Coconut Cream
Blueberries for garnish


Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Peel and core the apples. Cut them in thin slices, put them in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt,  vanilla, dates, lime or lemon juice and zest and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Tip the apple slices into a greased 9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle the blueberries over the apples.

In another bowl add brown sugar, oats, and flax. Combine thoroughly and pour evenly over the apples.

Bake for 55 minutes or until golden. Let cool for about 10 - 15 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature with the cream and blueberries.


Mulagai Podi II (Spiced Dry Lentil Chutney/Dip W/Two Dals)

Mulagai Podi II, similar to Mulagai Podi I, is a dry chutney that is mixed with oil and is used as a dip for dosa, idli, adai, upma, etc. Mulagai Podi means literally chili powder; but is made with more than just chilies. Traditionally dosa, idli, etc are served in homes simply with this podi and oil for casual meals. Amma often packed a lunch of dosa or idlis rolled in mulagai podi mixed with a little oil - they tasted so wonderful that my friends often wanted a share of my lunch :).

Often called Dosai/Idli Mulagai Podi to differentiate it from plain ground chilies, it is easy to make and makes a nice table condiment to spice up any food you like. There are many variations of it and some include other ingredients such as roasted sesame, curry leaves, cilantro, tamarind, etc. This is another one of my favorite versions. Every sprinkle of this delicious podi boosts the protein/mineral content of your food since it contains two dals/legumes.

Mulagai Podi is delicious sprinkled on 'butter'ed toast, vegetables, pasta, or steamed hot rice; some people even sprinkle it liberally on their pizza!


1/2 cup Chana Dal
1 cup white Urad Dal (skinless)
5 to 9 Dry Red Chilies
1 small pea-sized lump Asafetida/2 pinches
2 segments Tamarind (dried) (optional)
1 small piece (about the size of 2 peas) Jaggery/Vellam (Gud)
1 tsp Sea Salt or to taste


Roast the dal, chilies, and the asafetida in a dry skillet stirring often until the dal is golden brown. Let cool.

Grind all the roasted ingredients using a spice/coffee grinder with the salt in batches - the texture of the finished podi should be like brown sugar - slightly gritty but without any chunks or whole dal.

Mix well and keep in an airtight jar in a cool cupboard.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Lemony Quinoa

I had a lovely bag of quinoa that needed cooking; I thought to make Lemony Quioa just like the classic Lemony Rice! It was an immediate hit! So here it is. 

Lemony Quinoa makes for great picnic food along with the fabulous Non-Dairy "Yogurt" Rice.


Leftover plain cooked quinoa maybe used to make lemony quinoa.

Instead of cooking the cashew pieces, purchased roasted cashews maybe sprinkled on top of the prepared lemony quinoa just before serving.


1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Water
1/2 tsp Salt

1-2 tsp Oil
2-3 Tbsp raw Cashew pieces
2 dried Red Chilies
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 Tbsp Chana Dal
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves, sliced into a chiffonade
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1-2 Lime/Lemon, juiced
Salt, as needed


Soak the quinoa in plenty of water to cover; wash and drain the quinoa in a fine sieve.

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

Stir well, simmer gently for 10 minutes, turn off heat, cover and let sit  undisturbed for an hour preferably.

Heat the oil in a wide skillet or kadai (Indian Wok) until hot.

Add cashew pieces and stir; add red chilies, the mustard seeds, and the dals and cook until the dals turn pinkish and the mustard seeds start popping.

Tip the curry leaves in and cover quickly until the crackling subsides.

Stir in the turmeric into the spices in the skillet and turn off the heat.

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

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

Serve warm or at room temperature with fried/roasted papadams (crisp lentil wafers) or other accompaniments as desired.


Crisp, Spicy, Celery & Daikon Salad

Crisp, Spicy, Celery & Daikon Salad is very tasty and fabulous. It can be made quite easily with only one veggie or a combination as given in the recipe. This lovely salad maybe served as a snack or starter.

Chile Crisp is a Chinese relish that is absolutely delicious on everything! 


4 ribs Celery, thinly sliced
1 small Daikon or 1 large handful red Radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 Green Onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 Tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
1-3 tsp Chile Crisp, home-made or purchased
1-2 tsp Tamari/Shoyu/Soy Sauce (gluten free)
a few drops Toasted Sesame Oil, Chinese type
1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds, Toasted


Combine the sesame oil and add Chile Crisp and Tamari/Soy sauce in a large bowl. Mix in the veggies with the cilantro, taste and adjust seasonings.

If not serving right away, place in a container with a tight fitting lid and chill until ready to serve. When ready to serve, mix well to coat with the dressing.

Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve cold.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Chinese Eggplant Salad

Here's another eggplant salad to add to the delicious collection of salads. A simple yet delicious cold salad that can be served with the meal or as a starter. Use gluten free soy sauce to make it GF.

Use the thin long green and red chiles if possible; if not, use Serrano or Jalapeño chiles. If you prefer a mild dish, remove and discard the core and seeds of the chiles. When I use Thai chiles, I need only half or at the most 1 chile of each color for a very spicy salad; so adjust the amount according to your needs and the spicyness of the chiles.

The slender type of eggplants work best for this recipe; when steamed until soft, the eggplant turns a bit brownish and the purple color is not retained. 


2 long Chinese/Japanese type eggplants
A few Coriander(Cilantro) leaves, for garnish

1 Tsp vegetable oil (optional)
1-2 fresh long Green Chiles, cut into small circles
1-2 fresh Red Chile OR Thai chiles, cut into small circles
1-2 Garlic cloves , mashed well
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Tsp Sesame oil
2 Tsp Black Vinegar
1 pinch Salt or to taste
3 Tbsp hot Water
1 handful fresh Coriander(Cilantro), finely chopped 


Trim the ends of the eggplants and cut into sections around 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) long.

Steam the eggplant until soft (easily pierced with a fork), for about 10 minutes or so. Let cool.

Transfer to a cutting board and cut the eggplant into slender strips and place neatly in a serving bowl.

Make the sauce: Heat the vegetable oil if using or a tsp of water in a small pan with the chiles and cook for about 1 minute over medium heat or until they are slightly softened. 

Add garlic and cook  for about 1 minute, sprinkling a little water as needed to keep from sticking/burning. 

Remove chile mixture from heat and add the rest of the sauce ingredients and mix well. Pour the sauce over the eggplant and let marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Baste the eggplant with the sauce and garnish with coriander leaves before serving. Pour a little of the sauce over each serving.


Baba Ganoush/Ghanoush/Ghanouj (Smoky Eggplant Spread/Dip)

Baba Ganoush (aka Ghanoush or Ghanouj), a Middle Eastern dip, is so simple yet simply delicious - roasted and mashed eggplant, garlic, tahini, and lots of tangy lemon add upto a an unforgettable treat! Even those who do not eat other eggplant dishes devour this one! Although traditionally served with pita bread, I serve it with a basket of warm corn tortillas/chips, GF breads, and veggie scoopers for a gluten-free snacking joy.

Eggplant dips and salads inclucing Baba Ganoush are popular not only in the area known as Levant, Western Asia which is the Eastern coast of Mediterranean, but far and wide. There are delicious eggplant salads prepared in India, China, Philipines, etc.

Note: The Garlic maybe roasted unpeeled along with the eggplant for a mellow, milder garlic flavor. For a spicy version, I roast a Jalapeño Chile along with the eggplant, peel, and add to the eggplant pulp. 


1 large Eggplant, roasted whole
2-3 cloves Garlic, roasted or raw
1-2 Lemons, juiced
2-3 Tbsp Tahini (sesame paste)
Sea Salt, to taste

To Serve:

Toasted sesame seeds, Paprika, Chile oil, Parsley. etc for topping
Corn Tortillas or Chips
GF Breads
Romaine Lettuce, Raw Vegetables


Wash and dry the eggplant; place on a foil or parchment lined cookie sheet or pan. With the tip of the knife, make a couple of tiny cuts on the eggplant. Add unpeeled garlic cloves for roasted garlic and Jalapeño, if using.

Roast the eggplant in a hot (400-450 F) oven, over coals, or over the burner until the outer skin is charred and the inside is soft. Let cool a little.

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin over a baking pan or platter to catch the flavorful juices. Discard the skin and stem.

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine well but not completely pureed. Taste and adjust the seasonings and pulse quickly once or twice just to mix.

Remove the Baba Ganoush into a serving bowl or storage container.

Serve right away or store in the fridge.

When ready to serve, place the Baba Ganoush in the serving dish, garnish with a light dusting of paprika, drizzle of a little chile/olive oil, and/or sprinkle of sesame seeds and parsley, etc as you like.

Serve with your favorite accomapniments of breads, lettuce, veggies, etc.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Garam Masala (Homemade Spice Mix W/Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom, etc)

Garam Masala is a very useful spice mix to keep in your pantry if you like to prepare a variety of complex curries which have Garam Masala as one of the essential ingredients. Garam Masala is used to flavor vegetable curries, various beans/lentil dishes, rice/grains and breads.

Although roasting is not necessary, most garam masalas are made with roasted spices. It is perfectly fine to use raw spices as they have their own unique flavor profiles. Raw and roasted spices contibute to different flavors and taste. So, the big question is .....

Roast or not? If you go the roasted route, there are two possibilities: lightly or until the spices become fragrant. 

If Roasting: Dry roast (without any oil) the spices in a small skillet/pan over low-medium heat very lightly for a couple of minutes OR until just beginning to be fragrant, about 5 minutes swirling the pan and stirring constantly. Pour onto a plate so the spices do not keep cooking in the residual heat of the pan. Cool completely. Grind and store in an airtight container.

If you don't want to expend the effort to make the recipe and only want a small amount for the time, use the following ground spices. Although quite good when made from good quality fresh ingredients, it will not be equal to the freshly ground masala from whole spices.

Instant Garam Masala: 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp freshly ground/milled black pepper, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 pinch (1/8 Tsp) Each of  ground cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg.

Mix the spices together and store any leftovers in a small airtight container. The above quantities are merely a guideline; they maybe adjusted according to presonal prefernce.

Garam Masala - Freshly ground from whole spices


4 to 5 Big Cardamoms (Black/Brown)
1 tablespoon Small Cardamom pods (green)
1/4 cup whole Coriander seeds
1/8 cup whole Cumin seeds
3 to 4 pieces 2-inch Cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoons whole Cloves
2 Tsp Black Peppercorns
1/4 - 1/2 Nutmeg (optional)


Slightly crush both the big and small cardamom pods and gather the seeds, place the seeds in a bowl, and discard shells. 

Measure out the other spices and add to the bowl. 

Roast or not? You decide how you would like to proceed. 

Tip all the spices into the jar of a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container for up to 3-4 months or freeze for longer storage.


Grilled Corn Salad With Maple-Lime Dressing

Love, love, love Grilled Corn Salad With Maple-Lime Dressing; great use of leftover grilled corn after a barbecue! If you don't have leftover grilled corn, use fresh ones and grill them or use frozen corn kernels and pan toast them just until a few get brown spots.

Grilled Corn Salad with Maple-Lime Dressing
Use your favorite color bell pepper and cherry or regular tomatoes for this colorful, flavorful, and delicious salad; I love to use yellow, orange or red sweet mini peppers and yellow or red cherry tomatoes. If frozen corn is used, you will need one pound of kernels.

4 Servings


3-4 ears grilled Corn, cooled
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 medium Red Onion, finely diced
1 Bell Pepper, diced
1/2-1 fresh Serrano/Jalapeño, finely minced (optional)
1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro/Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and Freshly ground Black Pepper

1 large Lime, juiced
1-2 tsp Maple Syrup or to taste
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt and Freshly ground Pepper


If using fresh corn, grill until slightly brown spots appear. Cool and cut kernels from the corn cobs carefully. If frozen corn is used, pan toast until a few are browned. Let cool. Add to a large bowl.

Add all the salad ingredients to the corn in the large bowl. Add only a pinch of salt and pepper as more will be added in the dressing.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Tip the dressing into the salad, mix and taste. Adjust salt, pepper, lime, maple syrup etc. 

Serve right away or chill until needed.

Grilled Corn Salad & Casamiento

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hema's Everyday Fresh Coriander-Mint Chutney

Hemas Everyday Fresh Coriander-Mint Chutney is fabulous with snacks, sandwiches, with meals to add a zing to an otherwise tame meal. This chutney is a wonderful and necessary addition in the famous toasted veggie Mumbai sandwiches! I use it to make the delicious Bhel Kale Salad and the Chat dishes like the Roasted Potato Chat, Aloo TikkiAloo, Chana Chat. This Fresh Chutney not only adds piquancy to meals but also vitamins and minerals to everyday nutrition.

For a mild chutney, remove the core from the chile; for a spicy chutney leave the core in and/or add more chiles.


1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic
1 one-inch piece Ginger, skinned, and sliced
1 large bunch fresh Coriander/Cilantro
1 small bunch Mint
1 Serrano Chile, cut into 2-3 pieces
Salt to taste
1 tomato, cut into quarters
1/4 of a small Red Onion or 1 Shallot, coarsely chopped
1 - 2 pinches Jaggery
1-2 Limes/Lemons
Water as needed


Sort the coriander/cilantro and mint for yellowed leaves, weeds or other debris. I only cut off the browned ends of stems on the cilantro; pull off the tender tips and leaves from the mint and discard tough stems. Wash and drain well.

Peel and trim garlic. Have tomato, onion, ginger and chile prepared.

Squeeze the lime/lemon and use the juice.

Place the herbs and other ingredients in the carafe of a blender. Pour lime/lemon juice from One fruit first; more maybe added to taste later. Add about a couple of tablespoons of water to begin. 

Process the chutney adding water in very small quantities just enough to process; you may have to stop a few times and push down the herbs so make blending possible into a smooth puree.

Taste and adjust lime/lemon and salt as needed.

Pour/spoon out into a clean jar with a lid; if the chutney is very thick, a little water maybe used to collect the chutney sticking in the carafe and added to the jar. Store chutney in the fridge for a week to 10 days. Use clean spoons to remove what is needed.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Garlicky Gluten-Free Spaghetti With Mushrooms & Spinach

Garlicky Spaghetti With Mushrooms & Spinach was one of my go to dishes to order at one of our favorite restuarants until I went gluten-free. When I discovered gluten-free spaghetti and pasta, I could enjoy it again! Only, I had to make it myself as GF fare wasn't popular yet in restuarants. Here it is recreated not only GF but also oil-free to the delight of my tastebuds; no one has to feel deprived any longer.

There are many kinds of gluten free pastas available these days; our favorites are made with brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, or a combination. I usually make this dish using brown rice spaghetti. As any other pasta shape will work fine, enjoy using your favorite type. Of course those for whom gluten is not an issue, use any pasta you like! 

4 Servings


8 oz Spaghetti/Pasta (Gluten-Free)
2 tsp Olive Oil (optional)
5 Garlic cloves
8 oz Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
8 oz Fresh Spinach
Salt & Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 pinch Crushed Red Pepper flakes
1 large handful Flatleaf Parsley, minced
6-8 fresh Basil leaves, torn 
1/2 cup GF Breadcrumbs, toasted or Vegan Parmesan


Prep all the ingredients: Clean and slice mushrooms, tear spincan into big pieces (Stems are good too, prepare herbs, peel and mash garlic and set aside all the ingredients separately.

Cook the spaghetti (or pasta) with a generous pinch of salt until tender but still firm according to package directions, drain and keep hot. Save about 1/2 - 1 cup of the cooking water to add to the dish to keep it moist.

While the spaghetti is cooking, heat a large skillet; sprinkle the red pepper and a little black pepper to toast lightly. Add oil if using and the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Cook on low-medium heat  stirring often adjusting heat as necessary until mushroom juices reduce.

Add the garlic and stir for about a minute or so.

Tip in the spinach and turn to coat until wilted.

Mix in the hot cooked spaghetti and the parsley until combined well, adding some or all of the reserved cooking liquid as needed. Tongs are very helpful to combine the spaghetti with the veggies and herbs.Taste and add seasonings of salt or pepper as needed.

Sprinkle the basil and toasted bread crumbs or the vegan parmesan.

Serve hot immediately. Pass the pepper mill if you wish to add more black pepper for individual servings.