Indulge your madness with this everything-goes chickpea salad

As the temperature drops, quick one-pot / one-dish dishes come to the rescue. And of course since grocery shopping becomes such a production in winter, it’s best to resort to pantry-led cooking and to go easy on letting recipes take the lead.

A warm chickpea salad lends itself to that kind of flexibility and acts as the perfect canvas for the lone carrot or the few leaves of Swiss chard left over in your fridge.


For this amazing salad, you need cooked chickpeas. Of course soaking dried chickpeas overnight and cooking them is the best way but canned chickpeas are just fine. I usually soak and cook a large batch of chickpeas and divide them into ziplocks and freeze them so I can use them at short notice.

You also need cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes. Then, just open up your fridge and pull out whatever veggies you like — carrots, beans, greens, asparagus, mushrooms… whatever you like – indulge your madness.

Place a skillet or wok on the on the stovetop. Turn it on medium heat. Pour in a bit on oil, preferably olive oil. Add in your veggies and stir till you reach the desired done-ness. Then add in the potatoes, salt, pepper and lime. Add in the chickpeas. Once it’s warm enough, add in chopped greens and herbs. Green onions are welcome too, always! Give it a minute and transfer to a bowl, add in chopped tomatoes or not depending on your preference. Sliced pink radishes or cucumbers should work brilliantly too. Add a bit of light sour cream, Greek yogurt or lite mayo for the extra comfort factor. You need to add enough dairy to just quote the chickpeas. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Bon appetite!

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Simply Delish: Mango Orange Smoothie

smoothie, mango orange smoothie
This delicious smoothie is a fruit-lover’s delight. All you have to do is cut up two mangoes, juice two large oranges, transfer the fruits to a blender and blend with four cubes of ice.

In a minute or so, you got yourself a killer smoothie that is enough for three to four servings.

Why oranges are awesome:

The fruit is low in calories but is rich in dietary fiber.

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful natural antioxidant.

Oranges also contain vitamin A, and other flavonoid antioxidants.

It is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamine, pyridoxine, and folates.

Orange fruit contains a significant amount of minerals like potassium and calcium.

Why mangoes are awesome:

Mango is rich in pre-biotic dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidant compounds.

Mango fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin A and flavonoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.

Fresh mango is a good source of potassium. 100 g of the fruit provides 156 mg of potassium and just 2 mg of sodium.

The fruit is a good source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin C and vitamin E.

It also has moderate amounts of copper.

Primary source for the nutritional details: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com

Pack a punch with this delicious home-made granola

Bittman's  granola, granola
I use this recipe for granola from time to time and have never been disappointed. It’s deliciously crunchy, it’s healthy, has the perfect amount and kind of fat and is a life saver on days when the the crave hits and we really want to behave. It’s also the perfect pre-workout food and is super amenable to adaptations.

Of course its origins can be traced back to superstar food writer Mark Bittman. I take the basic recipe and add my flair to it. Some zest and some herbs and it comes alive in a whole new way!

Here’s the recipe for the oh-so-delicious goodness:

For eight cups, you will need:

6 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)

2 cups mixed nuts and seeds: a combination of sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, etc.

1 cup shredded coconut (optional) 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste

Dash salt

1 /2 to 1 cup honey or maple syrup, or to taste

1 cup raisins or chopped dried fruit

A handful of  banana chips (optional)

I teaspoon of orange zest (optional – instead of coconut)

Chopped cilantro / parsley (optional – instead of coconut)

Method of preparation:

Heat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds, the coconut if you’re using it or zest and herbs, cinnamon, salt, and sweetener. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally. The mixture should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier the granola will be.

Remove the pan from the oven and add the raisins or chopped dried fruit. Cool on a rack, stirring once in a while until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator; it will keep indefinitely.

Two creamy vegan soups: Corn Cashew Chowder & Green Bean Almond

 It’s still cold in these parts of the world and sometimes  a creamy soup is exactly what you need to lift your spirits. And of course if it’s healthy and vegan, that’s a huge bonus to us conscientious eaters. Here’s presenting two simple nut and veggie based soups that had have a very very good chance of knocking your socks off:

1. Green Bean and Almond Soup

  

It’s hearty, it’s delicious and it’s resplendent in verdant notes. This recipe is adapted from one published by Paris’ Rose Bakery in the book Breakfast Lunch Tea.

To serve six, you will need:

4 tablespoons extra virgin oil

2 onions, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

1 pound 2 ounces or 500 g of green beans, trimmed

( this comes up to about three large handfuls)

1 litre vegetable stock or water

100 grams ground almonds

Method of Preparation:

Heat oil in a saucepan and cook the onions, celery, carrots and garlic over a very low heat till the veggies soften and begin to turn golden. Add in the salt, pepper and sugar. Then the green beans and stir for five minutes. Pour in the water and cook with a lid 30 mins till the veggies soften. Add in the ground almonds and stir. 

Stir well, turn off the heat and let it cool down. Then, blend into a fine soup. Adjust consistency using water, if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

2.  Corn and Cashew Chowder

 corn chowder, corn cashew soup 

This is another one of those quick-cook beauties that reminds you that simple can be gorgeous. It’s hearty, has layered notes when it comes to taste and is a smash hit with kids and adults alike.

To serve four, you will need:

 4 large ears of corn, lightly cooked and reduced to kernels

2 cups water

1/2 cup raw cashews

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small garlic clove

Up to 2 teaspoons of salt

Crushed pepper to taste

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Method of Preparation:

In a blender, combine 2 1/4 cups of lightly cooked corn with water, cashews, olive oil, garlic and salt and puree until smooth. Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the remaining corn kernels, the cilantro and a sprinkle of pepper. Serve.


Easy Lunch Box: Quinoa Salad with a Mexican Flair

 quinoa salad, veggie  quinoa salad, mexican quinoa salad 
Quinoa, packed with protein and loaded with fibre, is one the more popular superfoods of the day. Anyone who has eaten quinoa is almost always thankful that this delicious grain, which comes in red and white, is good for you :)!

Today, I made this oil-free light yet filling quinoa salad that looked as good as it tasted. And when I ate it for lunch this afternoon, it kept me full till the evening. It’s super easy to make so here goes the recipe (for two meal-sized servings) —

Cook quinoa in water as per the instructions on the packet. I cooked one cup of raw quinoa. Then, chop half a large onion, two medium-sized tomatoes and a generous handful of coriander leaves aka cilantro. Cook two corn cobs in the microwave or grill. Shave the corn kernels and mix them with chopped vegetables and 200 g of cooked black beans. Season with salt, lemon juice and five finely chopped small green chilies. Add quinoa to the vegetable mix, a little at a time. Stop when you have the desired ratio of quinoa to veggies. Mix and adjust the seasoning. Serve the quinoa salad cold.

Needless to say, you could add peppers, cucumbers, avocado, sliced radishes or anything else you wish to the quinoa salad.

Aloo Gobhi: Peasant Food for Your Soul

On a day-to-day basis, its not gourmet gimmickry that we seek. No amount of molecular gastronomy can match a mother’s loving hands that source from tradition, experience and love to concoct dishes that build sweet sweet memories.

Aloo gobhi is one such traditional classic, a hearty curry that delights both tastebuds and the heart. If you are Indian, use this recipe as a ticket home. And if you are not, experience the warmth that is North India through this one-pot vegetarian dish that has become so popular around the world.

 

To 4-5 servings,

You will need:

Two medium-sized potatoes, boiled and cubed

Three medium-sized tomatoes, diced fine

One onion, chopped fine

Half a large cauliflower or three-fourth a small one, in florets

Oil

Spices – a teaspoon of cumin seeds, one bay leaf, one pod of cardamom, two cloves, a small stick of cinnamon, a pinch of mace powder

One tablespoon ginger-garlic paste ( I use chopped fresh ginger and garlic of an equivalent amount)

Handful of raisins 

Salt

Red chilli powder – half a teaspoon or a tad more

Corriander powder -half a teaspoon

Garam masala – quarter teaspoon

Turmeric powder – a pinch

A splash of lemon

A handful of cilantro / Corriander leaves for garnish

Method of preparation:

Boil the potatoes in a pot so that they are cooked but not mushy. Peel the potatoes after running cold water over them. 

Place a skillet on a stove and coat the bottom of the pan with oil. Add in the the cumin seeds, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Once the aroma develops, add in the chopped onions and, ginger and garlic. Once the onions soften and turn translucent, add in the tomatoes, half a teaspoon of salt, Corriander powder, chilli powder and turmeric stir. Put a lid on and let a sauce develelop on a medium to low flame. Stir in upto half a cup of water into the sauce while cooking. Pick the amount according to the consistency you want. Meanwhile, microwave the cauliflower florets, with a lid on, for five minutes in a microwave.

Once the tomatoes cook down, add in the boiled cubed potatoes and raisins. Stir. Then add in the cauliflower and cook over low heat for 10 mins with a lid on. Taste, adjust for salt and spice. Add in a splash of lemon juice. Stir and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with rice, Indian flat breads or regular bread.

Bitter melon love

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By Tenzin Kheshong

Bitter melon is a hard vegetable to sell to someone who hasn’t eaten it before. It’s not one of those vegetables that people easily fall in love with. It’s an acquired taste, I tell my husband. Unfortunately he doesn’t buy (or bite, rather) that theory. It doesn’t help that the melon looks as it does. Nonetheless, I have tried to cook it more often at home so that he slowly gets used to its taste and we lead a somewhat healthier life.

20151023_154347The first time a non bitter melon-eater tastes it, they will probably swear it is their last time too. I don’t blame them. I felt that way too when I first started eating it. Even now, I can’t eat it any other way but fried. The crispiness takes away a bit of the bitter taste in the mouth. But I didn’t like that fact that it was soaked in oil. Frying it sort of defeats the purpose of this very healthy vegetable.

I knew bitter melon was good for diabetes. But a simple search on the web shows that this vegetable is great for treating many other ailments – from cancer to digestion. This website has more details of the health benefits of bitter melon.

Last spring my aunt visited my sister and me and she brought with her, a new, healthier bitter melon recipe! Ever since then, I’ve changed the way I cook this vegetable. Just a little salt and butter is all it takes. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

-Bitter melon

-Salt

-Butter

Method:

  1. Cut the bitter melon into thin slices
  2. 20151023_154247I add the salt at this stage and let it rest for at least an hour (so that I can squeeze out a bit of the juice and the bitterness later)
  3. 20151023_155124On a non-stick pan, add a small amount of butter. I add enough to coat the pan when the butter melts.
  4. If you are okay with all the bitterness of the vegetable, you can add it to the pan at this stage. But I squeeze out the juice a little (it’s more palatable for my husband) and then add it to the pan.
  5. 20150329_140952On medium flame, let the bitter melon cook. Spread it across the pan so that it cooks evenly. Stir it as a few times to cook both the sides of the bitter melon.
  6. 20150528_111018It should take about 15 to 20 minutes to become crisp.
  7. IMG_2529Notes:

-To me, this recipe tastes best eaten immediately because it is still crisp.

-I always make this a side dish. The taste can be overpowering even for me, so I blend the strong flavor of this vegetable with a main course.

-If you are trying bitter melon for the first time, I suggest you don’t buy too many. Maybe two is enough just to get a taste of the vegetable. But I assure you, as you eat it more often, you will soon start enjoying the bitterness.

Whole Wheat pasta with roasted sugar pumpkin chunks

By Shalini Kolluri

Pumpkins are synonymous with the upcoming holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Be it Jack-o’- lanterns, pumpkin pies or pumpkin spice lattes, this orange gourd is a quintessential representation of fall. This holiday season, I take it upon myself to make thorough use of my favorite kind of pumpkin, the sugar pumpkin.image

Four awesome reasons to eat your pumpkin-

  • They are rich in anti-oxidants that boost your immunity and offer anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • The seeds and the pulp are high in magnesium that is great for your bone health.
  • They contain fiber that helps you drop pounds and maintain digestive health.
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan that helps elevate your mood. So long gloomy days!

Ingredients:-

½ small sugar pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into small chunks.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon Manuka honey

8 ounces whole wheat pasta (medium shells pasta)

3 garlic cloves minced

¼ cup chopped parsley leaves

¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

½ cup grated Parmigiano – Reggiano

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

Method:-

In a skillet heat 1 tablespoons of olive oil.

Roast the pumpkin chunks until tender or slightly charred.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until it is cooked.

While the pasta is cooking, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the garlic in a small skillet over low-medium until fragrant.

Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with ½ a cup of pasta water and stir in the pepper, garlic and cheese. Season with parsley and oregano.

Add the roasted pumpkin and Manuka honey. Mix and serve.

image

Spicy cilantro eggplant

By Shalini Kolluri

The rich aromas of fresh cilantro and fried eggplant bring back fond memories of my childhood. My mother almost always made this recipe during family gatherings and feasts.

She often advised me to balance the sour flavor in my recipe with a pinch sugar. This little tip not only enhanced the taste but, also delicately counterbalanced the pungent acidity that many ingredients bring to the food.

Take marinara for instance, adding carrots or some sugar to the sauce neutralizes the acidity in the tomatoes beautifully. Sometimes, a hint of agave cleverly masks the sourness of vinegar in a salad dressing.

Traditionally this south Indian recipe uses tamarind (sour) and jaggery (sweet). The two strong ingredients that compliment one another. However, I have decided to use raw honey and lemon juice instead.

The goodness of honey:

Honey is also called ‘Madhu’ in the Ayurvedic texts, which means ‘the perfection of sweet’.

Honey is a natural super food as it contains valuable vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, natural sugars and enzymes that aid digestion. To extract the maximum benefits from honey, it is best not to use it very hot (above 40 degrees C) or with very spicy food.

Hope you enjoy making one of my favorite versions of eggplant!

Ingredients:-

2 tablespoons canola oil
4 Japanese eggplants
Salt as needed
2 cups cilantro (washed and chopped)
1/2 table spoon raw honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 or 2 cayenne chili peppers

Method:-

Dice the eggplant in thin circles. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high. Add the eggplant in. It may splatter a bit, especially during the first minute or so of cooking.

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Fry the slices on each side.

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In the meantime, while the eggplant slices are cooking, add 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro and 1 or 2 cayenne chili peppers into a blender. With a teaspoon of water blend the ingredients into a coarse paste.

Add the cilantro chili paste to the eggplant once the slices are golden-brown and tender.

Stir in the salt and reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from stove and wait for it to cool down. Add honey and lemon juice and mix.

Serve with brown rice.

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Stir Fried Spinach and Tofu

By Shalini Kolluri

When Popeye ate his spinach I knew he became strong enough to beat up Bluto, but little did I know that he was also reducing his chances of having asthma, constipation and heart disease.

Spinach is extremely versatile. It has made its mark in almost all the cuisines of the world today. It not only adds a lovely color to your dish, it makes it super healthy too.

Being a self-taught student of Ayurveda, I understand that spinach is more than just a source of fiber, minerals and Vitamin K. In ancient India it was known to be a cooling medicine that helps your skin glow and keeps those nasty headaches at bay.

Eating raw spinach in salads is really popular now, but that may not be the best way to consume it since it has a high content of oxalic acid that promotes gout and arthritis. Boiling spinach is the best way to decrease the content of oxalic acid.

Here’s one simple recipe that uses my favorite leafy vegetable.

Ingredients:-

2 tablespoons olive oil

¾ package extra firm tofu

Coarse salt as needed

1 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon Cumin seeds

½ teaspoon ground pepper

½ teaspoon Coriander seeds crushed

¼ teaspoon mustard seeds

1 pound baby spinach

2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt

2 cups brown rice

Method:-

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium flame. Add tofu and cook, until golden brown for about ten minutes. Add pepper and salt. Stir it and transfer it to a plate.

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Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add garlic, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and crushed coriander seeds and cook, stirring, until the spices are toasted.

Add the spinach and cook, until just wilted for 5 to 7 minutes.

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Remove from stove and wait for it to cool down.

Stir in the yogurt and add salt as needed. Serve with brown rice.

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