Monday, December 30, 2019

Spicy Mango-Cucumber Salad W/Lime Dressing

Spicy Mango-Cucumber Salad W/Lime Dressing is a refreshing side salad or can be paired with your favorite chips or tortillas instead of or in addition to the regular tomato salsa for a lovely starter.  Serve this delicious salad any way you like with any meal. Simple and simply delicious!

Serves 4-6


1 large ripe but firm Mango, peeled and diced
1-2 green Onions, thinly sliced 
1 English Cucumber or about 3 small Persian type, diced
A little Salt
1 Shallot OR 1/2 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
4-5 Tbsp Cilantro leaves

1-2 cloves Garlic
1 fresh red Thai Chile OR 1/2-1 Serrano/Jalapeño Chile, minced
a generous pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp Jaggery (Indian brown sugar)
1 large fresh Lime,  juiced - divided


Make the dressing: 
Carefully mash garlic and chiles with the salt into a coarse paste using the mortar and pestle. Avoid getting splattered with the juices. Add jaggery and mash until it is incorporated and dissolves. Add  about 3-4 Tablespoons of the lime juice and mix well. 

Make the Salad:
Combine the mango, cucumber, green onions and cilantro in a bowl. Add dressing and mix well. Taste and add more salt, lime, jaggery, etc to taste.

Serve immediately or reserve for up to 30 minutes in the fridge. 


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Qinoa Bowl With Marinated Tofu & Spicy Chickpeas

This protein-packed Quinoa Bowl is so full of tasty ingredients that each bite is a treat! Marinated Tofu and the Seasoned Chickpeas could stand alone as starters, snacks or side dishes; so I often double the quantities so there is plenty for extras and for another recipe.

This recipe is great for batch cooking; make the components in double or triple quantities as desired so you can mix and match for a few meals. The tofu, chickpeas, and roasted veggies maybe added to pasta or salads to change them up.


Instead of the quinoa, other favorite grains like farro, brown and wild rice, millet, or a combination of grains maybe used.

Marinate Tofu and Chickpeas at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours ahead. If marinating more than 30 minutes to 1 hour, reserve them in the fridge until needed.

4 Servings


Marinated Tofu:
½ teaspoon Chinese type sesame oil
1 tsp Sriracha type hot sauce
2  tsp thyme
1  tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
½ tsp Garlic, minced (optional)
8 oz tofu

Seasoned Chickpeas:
1 1/2 cups cooked Chickpeas (1 standard can)
1 Tsp Oil
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper, freshly ground
½ -1 tsp Red Chile powder
½ tsp Garlic minced (optional)

Roasted Vegetables:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
2 Carrots, cut into bite-size cubes
1 Large Onion, diced
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced (optional)
1 Tsp oil (optional)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Fresh or dried herbs

For the Bowl:
1 cup dry quinoa or other grains
2 cups Spinach, Arugula, or other favorite greens
1 Small Avocado, peeled and diced
1 Lemon, juiced

4 Green Onions, thinly sliced including green part
1 Handful Fresh Coriander/Cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 Lemon cut in wedges


TOFU: Drain tofu well and wrap in paper towels and place a heavy weight on top for about 30 minutes. Combine the marinade ingredients for tofu in a small bowl and whisk to mix well. Cut the tofu into cubes, batons, or slabs, mix well with the marinade to coat. Place tofu a resealable plastic bag or other container along with all the marinade; let marinate.

When ready to bake, place on one side of the prepared baking sheet. 

CHICKPEAS: Combine all the ingredients under "Seasoned Chickpeas" and mix gently but well; let marinate. Transfer the chickpeas to another rimmed baking sheet; spread into an even single layer.

Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easy clean-up  or with a little oil.

Combine sweet potato, carrots, onion, and garlic if using with oil, salt, and pepper; place on half of a baking sheet with the tofu. Sprinkle the herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, etc) on top.

Bake the sweet potatoes, tofu and chickpeas for 20-25 minutes shaking and turning the veggies and tofu once half way through baking using a thin metal spatula. Keep the veggies and tofu separate; do not mix while turning. By keeping them separate, you can decide on their usage and arrangement for serving later.

Alternately, tofu, sweet potatoes and chickpeas may be cooked in a skillet; cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until done.

QUINOA OR GRAINS: Cook the quinoa or the grains of your choice according to package directions and keep warm.

ASSEMBLY: When ready to serve, Divide the greens, quinoa, carrots, chickpeas, and tofu among four large bowls. Add avocado on top and drizzle with lemon juice. 

Sprinkle each bowl with sliced green onions and coriander/cilantro; pass the lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

Alternately, set out all the components for a buffet style meal.


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Stuffed Karela (Bittermelon With Onion-Tomato Filling)

My friend EJ loves Indian food including karela or bittermelon! She asked for a good recipe for stuffed karela. Since we enjoyed the Karela Atho so much, I thought it might be fun to make it into Stuffed Karela for EJ with a few minor changes!

NOTES: I find that leaving the stem ends of the veggies intact keeps them from falling apart while cooking. Trim off only any excess or discolored stems leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch of the stem intact. Indian or Asian karela may be used to make this dish.

Zucchinis may be used instead of karela. Prepare the zucchini by trimming the blossom ends, and make a slit along the length without cutting through. Remove some of the center carefully with a little spoon or a melon baller; just enough to hold the stuffing. Save the the removed portion, chop and add to the onion mixture.

4 Servings


4 medium Karela
1/2 tsp Salt + 1/2 tsp Sambar/Rasam powder
1 Tbsp oil for cooking the stuffed veggies
2-3 Green Onions, with long leaves for tying the karela

1/4 cup White/Tan Sesame seeds
1/3 cup Peanuts
1 pinch Cumin Seeds
1 large Onion
1-2 tsp grated Ginger
2 large Tomatoes
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 Tbsp ground Coriander seeds
1-2 tsp Sambar or Rasam Powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Coconut Sugar, jaggery, or Brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh Coriander/Cilantro, chopped 

2 Tbsp fresh Coriander/Cilantro, chopped for Garnish


Prepare Karela and green onions:
Karela: Prepare the karela by trimming blossom ends and making a slit along the length, taking care not to cut through. With your fingers or a spoon, remove the seeds and the soft innards; discard the seeds and innards. Rub the 1/2 teaspoon salt and sambar/rasam powder mixture inside each of the veggies; I find that this step seasons the veggies nicely. Steam or microwave the karela or just until softened; about  5-7 minutes for steaming or about one to two minutes for the microwave. Set aside to cool until ready to stuff.

Green Onions: Start a small pot of water to boil; turn off when boiled. Have an ice bath ready: a small bowl filled with water and some ice cubes. Separate the leaves from the green onions and dunk them in boiling water for just a minute. Remove and plunge into iced water. Take them out and keep on a paper/kitchen towel. 

Dry roast the peanuts if raw and the sesame seeds separately; set aside to cool. Pound the sesame seeds first using a mortar and pestle; when the sesame is coarsely ground, add the peanuts and pound a bit more to crush them well. If made ahead, keep in an airtight jar or container until needed.

Heat a skillet. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook until soft and beginning to brown a little. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, coriander, and Sambar or Rasam powders. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the tomatoes begin to soften. Stir in the jaggery and cook for a minute to combine well. Add salt to taste,  peanuts, sesame, and coriander leaves, then turn off the heat and set aside until cool.

Assembly and finishing:
Stuff the prepared karela with the onion-tomato mixture; use one of the green onion leaves to wrap and tie them to keep the stuffing in while cooking. I seldom do the tying as I do not mind some of the stuffing escaping into the pan.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet. Place the stuffed veggies in the skillet in a single layer and cook over low to medium heat, turning to cook all sides until lightly browned and veggies are tender, about 10 - 15 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary to avoid burning the veggies.

Let rest for 5 minutes, and sprinkle the rest of the coriander/cilantro.

Serve hot with some plain dal and rice, grains, or roti.


Friday, December 6, 2019

Coleslaw 2 Ways - Cabbage Salad With Creamy OR Lemony Dressing

Coleslaw With Creamy OR Lemony Dressing is a delicious way to include nutritious cabbage in your diet. I love anti-oxidant and anthocyanin rich red cabbage for this recipe; green cabbage or a combination of red and green cabbages would be fine too. Both the lemony and creamy dressings to choose from - are utterly delicious.


6 cups of cabbage might seem like a lot; when salt is added it wilts and reduces to a much smaller amount!

Salting the cabbage is an important step as it removes excess moisture from the cabbage and eliminates a soggy and watery slaw.

The optional nuts/seeds boost nutrition and add a nice crunch. You may use one kind only or a combination.

4-6 Servings


6 cups Red Cabbage, thinly sliced
1 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
2 cups Carrots, shredded
3-4 Tbsp Parsley, finely chopped
2 Green Onions, finely chopped

Creamy Mayo Dressing:
1 clove Garlic, mashed
1/2- 3/4 cup Vegan Mayo
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1-2 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup/Sugar
Salt & Freshly ground Pepper to taste

Lemon dressing
1 clove garlic, mashed
1 Tbsp  olive oil
1 Tbsp prepared Mustard
2 -3 Tbsp fresh Lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt

Optional Topping:
Assorted Seeds: Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame, etc
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, or pecans, chopped


Optional Nuts and Seeds:
Measure out your seeds and/or nuts into a small skillet. Toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and lightly toasted. Pour the toasted seeds/nuts into a bowl/plate and let cool.

In a medium serving bowl, combine the prepared cabbage and onion with the salt and sugar and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Gently squeeze out the accumulated juices and save to add to vegetable broth or in another recipe. It is not necessary to squeeze the cabbage dry though. This step removes excess moisture from the cabbage and eliminates a soggy and watery slaw. Add carrots, green onions, and parsley. Set aside.

Dressing: Choose Mayo or Lemon dressing:
In a small bowl, combine the  ingredients for the dressing you are using and whisk until thoroughly blended.Taste and adjust lemon, salt and pepper, etc.

Add enough of the dressing to the slaw and toss until all of the ingredients are coated in dressing. Taste and add an additional dressing or seasonings. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate to marinate for several hours or overnight.

Stir well before serving. Taste the salad for seasonings. Serve cold with the nuts/seeds sprinkled on top.


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Fresh & Tangy Cucumber Salad With Chili-Lime Dressing

Fresh and Tangy Cucumber Salad With Chili-Lime Dressing is so delicious that even those who are not salad afficionados will enjoy it. The dressing adds sweetness, tartness, and heat; combined with crunchy fresh cucumbers, it is a match made in foodie heaven!

Cucumber Salad With Chili-Lime Dressing
Fresh and Tangy Cucumber Salad maybe served with any meal or enjoyed as a refreshing starter or snack. I love to offer it especially with Asian/Indian themed meals.


Use the greenhouse grown English type, Japanese , Armenian or the smaller Persian cucumbers. Regular cucumbers release a lot of moisture; but if only the regular types are available, remove the core and seeds and use. 

Fresh red chilies add a lovely flavor to the salad; if not available, soften dried chiles in warm water or use a little ground cayenne.

The salad maybe served with or without the nut/seeds.

2-4 Servings


1 clove fresh Garlic
1-2 pinches Salt
1 Tbsp Jaggery or Brown Sugar
3-4 ripe fresh Red Chilies
2-3 Tbsp fresh Coriander/Cilantro
1 Lime or Lemon, juiced

1 Large or 4-5 small Cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 Shallot, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp toasted Sesame Seeds, crushed
1/4 cup roasted Peanuts, crushed
2 Green Onions, finely sliced


Pound and mash the garlic with the salt using a mortar and pestle; add jaggery and mash together. Stir in chilies  and Cilantro, mash a little. Add lime or lemon juice to taste.  

Combine cucumbers and shallots in a large bowl and slightly crush with the pestle with a couple smashes. Pour the dressing over the veggies. Taste and adjust salt, jaggery and lime/lemon.

Sprinkle the toppings over the salad and serve immediately.

Cucumber Salad With Chili-Lime Dressing

Pumpkins (Winter Squash) 2 ways: Thoran (Stir-Fry) & Kootu (Stew)

Pumpkins and winter squashes are versatile veggies-in-waiting which bide their time patiently to sit in the veggie basket, pantry, or cellar until needed. They last well for weeks which makes them a great veggie to keep for emergencies. Although I love them all, and give an equal opportunity to all types of winter squashes, my all-time favorites are full and sweet flavored kabocha and butternut; banana squash comes in a close second.... or is it third?!

Pumpkin or winter squash with coconut may be prepared in many ways. Here I have given two recipes: stir fry with coconut or a thick stew. Two very different tasting dishes with practically the same ingredients!

Kabocha does not need peeling as the skin is thin and cooks well. Some winter squashes need peeling as they have tough skins.


1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1-2 dried Red Chiles
1 Onion, finely chopped (optional)
1 Stem fresh Curry Leaves
1/2 Medium Kabocha, Winter Squash or Pumpkin, cut into small dice
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 cup fresh or frozen grated Coconut
1 hot dry red Chile (optional)
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds

Wash and cut into small dice the Kabocha,  peel the Winter Squash or Pumpkin before dicing.

Heat the oil in a kadai/wok or skillet and add the mustard seeds, dal and chiles. 

When the mustard pops and the dal turns pinkish, add the onion if using and curry leaves.

Stir in the kabocha or squash. Sprinkle the turmeric and salt, stir well, cover and cook until tender.

While the veggies are cooking, pound together the cumin (and the optional hot red chile if you wish), and combine with coconut.

When the pumpkin is tender, stir in the coconut mixture and cook until heated through.

Serve hot with rice/roti, Sambar, any Kuzhambu and a salad or raita.


Pumpkin Kootu - Thick Stew  - Kootu maybe prepared with or without tamarind. 

1/2 - 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1-2 dried Red Chiles
1/2 cup fresh or frozen grated Coconut

1 Winter Squash or Pumpkin, cut into small dice or thin slices
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1-2 Tbsp of Indian Jaggery or brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp Tamarind Concentrate (optional)
1/2 cup Toor/Mung Dal or Red Chori beans, Cooked (optional)

1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves

Masala: Coarsely grind the coconut with the cumin with a small amount of water - about 1/2 cup (and the optional hot red chile if you wish). Set aside.

Wash and cut into small dice the Kabocha; Winter Squash or Pumpkin will need to be peeled first.

Combine the vegetables in a medium sized saucepan with half a cup of water. Sprinkle the turmeric and salt, stir well, cover and cook until tender. Add the Indian Jaggery or brown sugar and tamarind if you like the kootu sweet and tangy.

When the pumpkin is tender, stir in the ground coconut mixture along with one of the beans/dal if using and bring to a good boil; remove from heat, add the crushed curry leaves on top and cover.

Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds, dal and chiles. 

Thalippu/Tadka: When the mustard pops and the dal turns pinkish, add the curry leaves and cook for a few seconds.

Add the mustard mixture to the pumpkin; allow the kootu to rest covered for a few minutes for the flavors to meld. 

Serve hot with rice/roti, any beans/dal, and a salad or raita.


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Traditional Mor Kali (Coconut-Scented Savory Rice Cake)

Mor Kali is an old-fashioned, home-style South Indian snack. Although called mor kali, this recipe has no mor (buttermilk) in it and is a naturally vegan recipe; not does it need any since the batter is fermented and is naturally a little tart. It is another instance of our foremothers being thrifty as well as innovative with leftovers. Mor Kali was often made with leftover batter from making Verum Arisi Dosai or Adai, a rice and coconut pancake; but since most everyone loves it, it was made at other times too without waiting for leftover batter. 

When batter becomes fermented, it devolps a lovely tart taste which is highly prized in Idli/Dosa/Aappam batters.

NOTES: Although Indian Sesame oil is the best for preparing Mor Kali, any vegetable oil may be used. If Indian sesame oil is not available, a couple of drops of Chinese sesame oil may be added at the end of cooking to add aroma.

I have used green chiles instead of the dried yogurt chillies (thair or mor milagai) typically used. Leave the cores in if you like the kali to be spicy.

I love the chewy dals in the kali. Others may prefer a more homogenous kali that glides effortlessly through the throat into the stomach; so if a smoother kali is prefered, the dals may be omitted without unduly diminishing the taste.

4 Servings


1 cup Parboiled Rice
¼ cup Coconut fresh/frozen OR 2 Tbsp dessicated
1 tsp Salt
2 tablespoon Sesame/vegetable oil
½ teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 teaspoon split white Urad dal
1 teaspoon split yellow Chana dal
2-3 hot Green Chiles, cored and minced
2 sprigs Curry leaves, chopped
1-2 pinches Asafoetida


Grind the dry rice into a coarse powder first; this helps to ease the grinding process after soaking.

Soak the rice in water for 24 hours; grind the rice along with coconut with a little extra water if needed. Mix in the salt and set aside to ferment in a draft free place for 24 hours.

The batter will smell sour and maybe a little foamy. Add water to dilute; it should be a thin batter, total amount should be approximately 1 liter or a little more than a quart after mixing.

Lightly oil a thali or a cake pan and keep it ready.

Heat oil in a pan and add in the mustard seeds and let it pop. Add in the urad and chana dals. Let the dals turn pinkish gold. 

Carefully add the curry leaves (they tend to spatter, so cover quickly), chiles and asafoetida. Cook briefly for a few seconds. 

Tip in the batter, cook stirring on medium heat. The batter will keep thickening. Keep stirring until it has thickened and does not stick to the pan anymore. Cover and let it steam on low heat for about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and spread on an oiled plate. Let it cool. Cut into squares and serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Okra Curry With Roasted Coconut & Tamarind (Vendakkai Thenga Kuzhambu)

Okra Curry With Roasted Coconut & Tamarind (Vendakkai Thenga Kuzhambu) is a delicious stew typically served with rice for lunch or dinner.  Delicious over plain rice, roti or yogurt rice.

Frozen okra work very well in this recipe if fresh ones are not available. Dried unsweetened coconut maybe used instead of the fresh or frozen.

Sometimes I like to add cooked toor dal to make it hearty; half a cup of dal should work very well. When adding the dal, increase the amount of spices, salt, and tamarind.

4 Servings


½ tsp whole Black pepper
2-3 Dried Red Chiles
2 tsp Chana Dal
2 tsp Coriander seeds
¼ tsp Fenugreek seeds
⅓ cup shredded Coconut, fresh/frozen

1 lb Okra
1 Onion, slivered thickly or diced large (optional)
1 Ripe Tomato, chopped (optional)
1 tsp Oil (preferably Indian Sesame oil)
½ tsp Mustard seeds
1-2 dried Red Chiles
1 pinch Asafetida
2 stems Curry leaves, finely sliced
½ tsp Turmeric 
1 tsp Salt or to taste
1-2 tsp Tamarind concentrate


Dry roast all the spices and dal listed under "masala" together except coconut on low heat until fragrant. Add the fresh shredded coconut, fry for a couple of minutes until slightly golden. Let cool and grind the roasted masala with ½ a cup of water to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Wash, dry and remove excess stems; it is not necessary to discard the caps. Cut okra into two if they are long; short ones may be left whole. Prepare onion and tomato if using.

Heat oil in a saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, and the dried red chillies. When the mustard seeds pop, carefully add curry leaves and cook until they change color. Stir in the asafetida.

Tip in the onion, cook for a couple of minutes or until they are slightly softened; add the okra, tomatoes if using, turmeric, and salt. 

Add the tamarind paste, one cup of hot water, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Pour in the ground masala and sluice the blender with a half cup of water to gather all spice mixture and add to the stew/kuzhambu. Bring to a boil again and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve hot with rice.