Friday 9 January 2015

Healthy Roasted Cauliflower

I am not even going to tell you that this post is inspired by a need for eating healthy and low calorie food as a month from now I have to attend my cousin's wedding and there's a number on the weighing scale at which I am aiming. Nope, I am not going to tell you all this, at all. Stop asking me.

Cauliflower is dear to me, raw and cooked. My mom doesn't like me loitering around the kitchen when she is handling cauliflower because I finish off much of the quantity she means to cook just like that. Those beautiful white florets are so irresistible. My dad and I totally vouch for that, or any vegetable that we find palatable raw. 

So this post here is actually my latest favorite way of eating cauliflower this season. It is easy and so good. I can usually eat a large head of cauliflower all by myself this way. It is so light and tender. 

On a serious note now, if you are following a vegetable based diet, things can get boring pretty soon. I mean how much salad are you going to eat, or how much flavor can you resist? This is a recipe that will let you go easy with your diet without compromising it. If you don't want to use the 2 tbsp of olive oil I used in this recipe, by all means, skip it, and you will still have lovely roasted cauliflower florets in the end. 

Here's the step wise recipe.

To begin, pour about 2 tbsp of olive oil on florets from a large head of cauliflower in a bowl or simply drizzling a little bit of oil will do the job just as fine. Toss florets to coat with oil. Take care that the florets are not too big.

Prepare a spice mix with 1/4 tsp chilli flakes, 2 tsp cinnamon powder, 1 tsp cumin powder and 1 tsp dried oregano.

Grease a baking tray with some cooking spray or a couple of drops of oil. Spread cauliflower florets on it. Sprinkle the spice mix all over the florets. Don't forget to sprinkle salt to taste too.

Now roast in an oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the tops of florets turn brown.
Here is your perfect, healthy roasted cauliflower. Eat while it's still warm.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Lazy Microwave Cheese Sandwich + How to Utilize Your Sister

Ok. Two things you need to know before reading this post: one that this is really a lazy sandwich, tastes amazing nevertheless, and two that I absolutely couldn't bear looking at my sister snuggled up in the bed. So when she asked for a sandwich, I got her to do this. Plus it's always good to have her do my bidding like a minion. Yes, she is my very own, home bred, cannot leave ever, personal minion.

Now stay put as she tells you how to make this cheesy sandwich in just about 3 minutes, well that's if your elder sibling isn't making you pose to take pictures of just about everything you are doing.

Fist of all, you need cheese. Of course, this is a cheesy sandwich after all. I had slices of cheddar cheese. You can use grated cheese. Lot's of it. I used only one slice, but later thought two slices would have been better. So on the cheese front, suit yourself.

Then you will need some caramalised onions to add that subtle sweetness to your sandwich. I absolutely adore caramalised onions in sandwiches and burgers. They do enhance the flavors, don't they? I would love to know your favorite way of using caramalised onions.

And for the fresh crunch we have strips of red and yellow bell peppers. A lazier version of this sandwich is the one I remember from my days in Delhi. Some fresh icebergs, these peppers and a dollop of mayonnaise between two slices of bread, and you are done. But why did my roommate and I do this? Oh yes! We did not have a microwave.

Then we have got 2 slices of bread. Fresh and tender. I hope I don't come across like a criminal for using regular white bread in this age of health promoting wheat and oats and multi grain bread. I am not against them anyway. The sweetness of white bread sits perfectly in a sandwich and more importantly, this is what I had in hand, or rather my sister had in hand.

After you are done feeding the enormous hunger of your crazy sibling, I in this case, to trouble you, assemble all ingredients on your work platform.

To assemble the sandwich, place the cheese slice on a slice of bread and top it with a dense layer of caramalised onions. Then place strips of bell peppers in a regular fashion. This girl in the picture decided to go for haphazard vertical and horizontal arrangement first but was instructed not to so as it would later create a mess while eating. Then place the other slice of bread on top.

If you are using grated cheese, use it as a topping over the layer of peppers.

Pop your sandwich into the microwave for 30 seconds to warm it and melt the cheese. It helps if you invert the sandwich so the cheese slice is the topmost layer as opposed to being at the bottom while assembling the sandwich. That way the melted cheese makes its way into the nooks and crannies of the other layers.

Bring it back into your board and slice it into two pieces.

Enjoy the sandwich warm and let your sister take an awkward picture of you eating it.

And I hope you learned how to utilize your sister for a blog post!

Monday 5 January 2015

Red Split Lentil Stew- Dhuli Masoor ki Dal

A rainy weather and sunshine playing hide and seek. Mom's taking clothes on and off the clothesline every time it drizzles and stops. And I am feeling exceptionally lazy this Monday. They might as well replace Garfield's face with mine. However, by the time of writing this post I have finished off almost all of my other work. So I can spend time here on my favorite activity.

This lentil stew took me only about 40 minutes to cook out of which about 30 minutes are attributed to idle cooking. So I essentially spent only 20 minutes in the kitchen including prep time for this recipe. This is not an every day recipe for me. It is light and easy but it just isn't ingrained in me as an every day flavor. So it is a great change and makes a meal kind of special.

What I find best about this recipe is that it is so grainy. I love the texture and the taste. Obviously it can be made smooth but that just isn't my the way I prefer it. I like to bite into the grains, to feel the mellowed roughness of the pulses. This dal is neither too strongly flavored nor too mild. You can easily adjust the quantity of spices to that which suits you. I kept the spices modest and it tasted perfect with plain rice and chapati.

I have been fawning over one-pot recipes lately, like this pasta recipe, and this dal is just one such recipe. Heat the oil, sauté onion and spices and dump the lentils in water and cook. That's it. I mean you come across such a ridiculously simple Indian recipe only once in a while. Talk about dal makhani and maa ki dal, right?

By the time lunch was over, the clouds had cleared from the sky and it was a warm yet breezy weather again. I just wanted to take a nap but resisted.  The weather is too pleasant today to sleep it off. However, I don't have anything else to do either. Right now it is a cup of cinnamon tea, my laptop and I in the courtyard, confused whether to keep chatting away or just stop at this pleasant note until next time.

The tea turning cold says the latter. So you enjoy the recipe and I will see you soon with a new one.


Red split lentil- 1 cup
Onion, chopped- 1 big
Garlic, finely chopped- 1 tsp
Ginger, grated- 1 tsp
Tomatoes, chopped- 1 medium
Oil- 4 tbsp
Asafoetida- 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder- 1 and a half tsp (adjust)
Coriander powder- 2 tsp
Garam masala powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Fresh chopped coriander to garnish
Lemon juice to taste (optional)


Wash lentils and soak in water. Keep aside.

Meanwhile, chop and grate ingredients as required.

Heat oil in a kadhai.

Temper with mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida.

Add chopped garlic. Fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds.

Add grated ginger. Fry another few seconds.

Add chopped onions. Sauté until soft and translucent.

Add all powdered spices except garam masala.

Fry for a minute.

Add soaked lentils with about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water.

Add salt. Stir and bring to a boil on high heat.

Simmer and cook covered until lentils are cooked. Check by pressing a grain between your index finger and thumb.

If you want a thicker stew, cook uncovered on high heat until you achieve desired thickness, taking care not to burn it.

Add garam masala and garnish with coriander leaves.

A sprinkle of lemon juice while serving enhances flavors.

Friday 2 January 2015

Oregano-Mustard Potato Bites

A very happy New Year to all my dear readers and friends. I think you all had a blast, didn't you? I, for one, didn't think I would spend the first day of this year shopping, celebrating the opening of a friend's new restaurant and going bowling at the end of the day where I still had my mojo on after remaining out of practice for 3 years. A great day in all for Apurva, except for one little thing. Or may not be so little. It's the constant voice in the back of my head that keeps talking to me of all that went wrong in the past year. It doesn't help that it's the loudest when I try to ignore it and drown it down in happiness. Nevertheless, it's the New Year and one can always hope to turn a new leaf. Just realizing, 'turning a new leaf', a good resolution for the year, isn't it?

On that note, let's switch to today's recipe. A really easy and sassy this one is. You'll love it. Hailing all mustard lovers and oregano lovers, and bringing them together. I belong to the latter category, the oregano lovers, but I don't mind being paired with the mustard lovers in this fashion.  The combination of flavors in this recipe is a unbeatable. It makes me wonder if oregano and mustard will be as good together in a pasta. If I try it I will let you know.

This is such a lazy recipe but a party winner in every way. When in hurry for a party snack, whip up this one. When the kids are raving for a snack, whip up this one. When it's breezy outside and you want something hot, whip up this one. The first time I made this was for mom's kitty party and what a hit it was! It is great as an appetiser. I did not want to say much, but what the heck! These are certainly the best fried potato bites ever. With a crunchy crust and lovely flavors, this is a recipe to keep close by.

I almost forgot to tell you, serve these potato bites with some mayonnaise. There will be no going back or away.

Sunday 28 December 2014

Palak ki Chaat

Today I am at a loss for words. It is not the writer's block that I am going through, rather a personal conflict is making me hold back. The cold is intensifying, both outside and inside. And it doesn't help that the fire is dying. Perhaps, a little kindling of the fire is in order to warm things up.

If the kindling is taking time, the best way to cope up with the cold is to embrace it and all that it brings with it. Because every season holds something good, like winters in India are loaded with fresh, crisp greens. I wouldn't be overstating if I said many of us await winters for the green goodness it brings along. However, unless you know how to use these greens, you will be only cursing the harsh winters, much like in life when you fail to acknowledge the good in it only because you are busy fiddling with all that went wrong.

Today's recipe is an assembly of winter fresh spinach leaves that are crisp and golden, which takes a detour from the usual gravies and salads. Topped with smooth sweetened curds, and tangy tamarind and date sauce, this Palak ki Chaat is the perfect recipe for a quick evening snack or a prepare ahead party snack. 

I like the way it's sheer ease and simplicity give it the much deserved elegance and attraction. When served on a platter, the ensemble speaks to the eyes that behold it with as much force as the dripping decadence speaks to the palette. 

The cold is a matter of time and it will pass away, but so will the greens if you choose to let them be swayed away in the winds. Hold on to the good and cherish it while it lasts.

Enjoy the recipe.


Gram flour- 1 cup
Water- 1 and a half cup
Salt to taste
Fresh spinach leaves- 400 gm
Sweetened curd- 1 cup
Tamarind sauce- 1/4 cup
Salt and red chilly powder to taste
Oil for deep frying


Wash spinach leaves thoroughly and remove stems, leaves a about 2 inches of stalk to hold. Avoid using small leaves.

In a bowl, make a slurry of gram floor with water, adding salt to taste. The slurry should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Heat oil for deep frying.

Dip spinach leaves one by one in gram flour slurry and put in hot oil. Don't crowd the oil. Fry only about 4-5 leaves at one time. Deep fry till leaves turn a dark shade of green.

Let cool down.

For assembling:

Take 3-5 leaves in a bowl and top with sweetened curd. Drizzle some tamarind sauce. 

Sprinkle some salt and red chilly powder if desired.

Saturday 27 December 2014

One-Pot Broccoli & Peas Pasta

Here's a wave to all pasta lovers, so I am waving at myself too. I am waving in glee with this super awesome One-pot Broccoli and Peas Pasta that I just treated myself with. It's creamy, it's tasty and it's so easy to make that it's almost disheartening to miss.

One-pot pastas are a rage over the internet and I would be surprised if they weren't because these recipes take cooking of pastas to a level of surreal ease that must only be met with gratitude. And I am merely a humble lover of pasta who chose to display her gratitude with this easy recipe that is a result of ogling at various pasta recipes in various brilliant food blogs.

I am given to understand that most people stay away from broccoli and I don't understand why. It is a perfectly fine vegetable, pretty and green and everything and they say it's healthy too. I didn't have broccoli until after school when I moved to a city for college. I remember a few of us girls had gone to this restaurant called Moksha in Nagpur and I was elated to find something new in my food. I ate all the broccoli while my friends decided to disregard it and one of my friends painted her nails very coolly ignoring the whole yes and no broccoli chatter on the table and waited for her order.

O.K. That's enough reminiscing.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Leaves of Radish- A Rustic Stir Fry

Snowy white, fresh radishes are in season and the vegetable markets are full of them. Set in piles, these radishes resemble little white mountains from the front. Go around the back of these mountains and you will see little green mountains made of lush, crisp radish leaves.

I find myself a bit different from most people I know, in terms of a taste palette. A good kind of different. I grew up in a household where kids weren't allowed the privilege of moody meals. Not that I made a fuss, it wouldn't have made a difference if I did, except when sick. And today I am thankful that I didn't grow up to be a picky eater; I dread the scenario where I would have missed many brilliant flavors.

My region of India is known for its production of rice. We are big time rice eaters, as is apparent from my love for rice. But what many people do not know about Chhattisgarh is that it is also home to numerous varieties of green leafy vegetables. I know most of them and yet come across many new leaves that I haven't heard of before and don't know how to cook. The ones I know about is because I come from an old line of dwellers of the state and have spent my entire life being fed humble, rustic editions of these green delights that are the recipes of my grandma, now 90.

Living in a town or state doesn't mean that one will know all about its cultures and traditions and secret recipes. But I pity those who don't try to learn and remain ignorant. I used to be very surprised when I was young that many of my friends didn't know about most of the recipes I so fondly adored. I learned later it was because their moms had come from different cultures and so they didn't know the magic of those recipes. But then, my mom came from an altogether different lifestyle too, and I am glad that she adapted to her new surroundings. She learned all that my grandmother taught her in the kitchen and also mixed her own style to it. It is so endearing to watch my mom ask my grandmother for instructions for some old recipe even today. My upbringing matters to me. I do not want any part of my culture, however small, to slip into oblivion. I may not be able to help every cause, but I will do what I can and this recipe here is one such effort.

I picked the leaves of radish for this post today for two main reasons. One, radish is in season, and two, it is available everywhere in India and elsewhere so you cannot nag me about availability. It is rather a very humble recipe but since radish leaves are usually thrown away, the fact that it is a recipe dedicated to the leaves makes it interesting and different.

The flavor profile of radish leaves isn't much different from that of the radish itself, sharp and tangy, slightly bitter too. The leaves are coarse and cannot be used in in a salad or in a sandwich as such. I do however hope that this recipe will multi task as a stuffing for parathas and sandwiches. I enjoyed it today with my staple diet, chapati and dal and of course rice. Every time I have something like this, it gets me in a similar mood as today and I feel proud of my rustic-chic palette that I acquired from my home and from living in different cities in the country. But most of all I think it was possible only because I am open to various flavors without bias and prejudice. Everything I can eat, I will eat and I will remember.