A bold and beautiful Pomegranate Beet Pasta Sauce 

A sauce should be well… saucy. A sauce without character is like a burlesque dancer without sex appeal.

Keeping that in my mind you could do variations on staples. But remember, while tomato , herb and cheese based sauces are classics for a reason, venturing into the new is what adventure is about. So get bold with us by trying this pomegranate beet sauce. It’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s tart and an all-round sweetheart. It’s toddler approved making it the perfect vehicle to get some nutrition in while building a plate pretty enough to land a prince.

Beet pasta sauce, pomegranate pasta sauce, beet pomegranate pasta sauce, healthy pasta sauce
To make this pasta for four, 

You will need:

Half a large pomegranate 

Quarter a big beet or half a small

One cup pasta

A handful of chopped onions

A pod of garlic

Two tablespoons of tomato purée

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

Pepper

A tablespoon of white vinegar 

Method of preparation:

I cooked a cup of pasta. I mixed rotini and penne in an effort to finish up my reserves.

Then I puréed a pod of garlic and half a large pomegranate. I did not strain this mixture if you dislike the texture of minute bits of seeds, you could. I personally think it adds crunch. Then I puréed quarter a large beet and mixed the two sauces. 

I coated a saucepan with a thin layer of olive oil. Turned on medium heat and added in a handful of chopped onions. Once they turned a bit translucent, I added in the pomegranate-garlic-beet mix. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, a tablespoon of white vinegar, and a handful of cheddar cheese. I also added two tablespoons of tomato purée. Once the desired consistency was reached, I added in the pasta, gave it a quick stir and turned off the flame.

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!

mango sesame chutney

By Shalini Kolluri 

This is a classic South Indian traditional recipe that goes perfectly well when eaten with rice crepes (dosas) or steamed rice. Although, I would’nt say no if you tried it with crackers or nachos! The tarty sweetness of a raw mango combined with the spiciness of red chilies makes this chutney my absolute favorite.

The taste of this dish heavily depends on seasoning. While sesame seeds add that nutty taste and enhance the aroma, the crushed mustard powder adds an unmistakable south Indian taste to this chutney.

Raw mangoes are versatile and are widely used in Indian cuisines. From pickles to lentil soups, they make an appearance in many forms. I will post many more raw mango recipes in the days to come. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

 

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Ingredients :-

 

1 raw mango peeled and grated (approx 1 heaped cup) -Slightly sweet and sour mangoes work best.

a pinch of turmeric powder (optional)

1/2 cups sesame seeds( dry roast on low flame for 6-7 min and crush into a coarse powder

1/2 teaspoon of crushed mustard seeds

Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp, dry roast till red and crushed to a fine powder ( available at Indian stores)

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)

Canola oil -3 tablespoon or mustard oil -3 tablespoons

1/4 teaspoonMustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds

3 to 4 Dry red chilies tear and de-seed

Curry leaves -a few leaves (optional)

Method:-

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Add the cumin seeds, red chilies, and curry leaves.

Immediately, add the grated mango and turmeric powder and mix. Cook on medium flame for 7-8 mins without a lid or till oil separates.

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Add the sesame seeds powder and mix and continue to cook on low flame for a min. Add the mustard seeds powder, fenugreek powder, chili powder and salt, mix well and turn off the heat.

 

Remove to a serving bowl and serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Bulgar Upma 

bulgar upma

Today, I give the recipe of a slightly modified version of a dish I grew up with — Rava Upma. Traditionally made with semolina (rava) and vegetables, this comforting dish is a staple in South Indian households. While the recipe I give departs slightly from the authentic from time to time, I can confidently say that it unmistakably tastes like a really good upma. In fact if I may dare say, it is better than the semolina version because bulgar wheat has a nutty flavor, a delightful texture and nutritional value that is off the charts.
Bulgur wheat, a cereal made by cracking steamed and toasted whole wheat kernels, makes an excellent base for upma because it comes really close and even manages to upstage the cracked wheat upma that the health conscious eat in India. Cracked wheat, a cracked whole wheat cereal made from raw whole wheat, is also often used as a rice substitute by diabetic patients in India.

Here’s the recipe for the moist and well-spiced bulgar upma that I just made. I will also give you tips on how to jazz up the upma South Indian style. Hope you guys enjoy it!

Essential ingredients:

About five tablespoons of canola oil, three and a half cups of cooked bulgur wheat, two small onions, one and a half-inch cube of grated / crushed ginger, three medium-sized tomatoes, three slender carrots, a handful of peas, two handfuls of baby spinach leaves, a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), salt and red chili powder.

Optional ingredients (Add a more distinct South Indian flair):

A pinch of cumin seeds, a pinch of mustard seeds, a dash of turmeric, a handful of curry leaves and raw peanuts or cashew nuts. You can also add vegetables such as chopped cauliflower, green beans or bell peppers. To gourmet it up, you could add cooked chickpeas in place of nuts. If decadence is what you are in the mood for, add a spoonful butter or ghee (Indian clarified butter).

Method of preparation:

Chop the onions fine and coat a skillet with oil and heat on a medium flame. Add in a dash mustard, cumin seeds and a handful of chopped cashews or whole peanuts if you like. Once they splutter a little and the nuts roast, add in the curry leaves. Once an aroma develops, add the chopped onions and ginger, and let them cook till they brown slightly. While the onions cook, peel and chop the carrots and cut the tomatoes.

When the onions slightly brown, add in the carrots and stir. After a minute or so, add in the tomato pieces and peas. Let the vegetables cook till the tomatoes become soft and ooze some juice. Once this happens, add one and a quarter tablespoon of red chili powder, a pinch of turmeric and a tablespoon and a half of salt. Mix and add in the cooked bulgur. Stir and let it cook over a low flame. Add in the baby spinach leaves and coriander leaves (cilantro), mix and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the baby spinach leaves become tender, turn off the heat. Taste and adjust for salt and spice.

Serve hot with low-fat yogurt.

cilantro plantain fry

banana

Though plantains originated in India, it quickly spread to other tropical countries and is now sold in most fresh produce sections of the supermarkets. They look like green bananas but they may have darker or blackish skin. On the inside (once peeled), they are starchy and cream colored.

Plantain relatively has more calories weight for weight than that in the table bananas. 100 g plantain holds about 122 calories, while dessert banana has only 89 calories. Which is why it is important to watch out for the quantity you are consuming.

Health benefits of plantain:-

  1. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin A plays a vital role in the visual cycle, maintaining healthy mucus membranes, and enhancing skin complexion.
  2. They also provide adequate levels of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. Magnesium is essential for bone strengthening and has a cardiac-protective role as well.
  3. They contain 2.3 g of dietary fiber per 100 g.
  4. Fresh plantains have more potassium than bananas

 

Being a close relative of bananas, plantains too often can be a cause for skin and systemic allergic reactions in some sensitive individuals. Please watch out for these symptoms if you are eating plantain for the first time -“Oral allergy syndrome,” is a condition in which eating banana family foods may cause itching and swelling in the mouth or throat within hours.

This is a modification of a well know south Indian recipe.

Ingredients:-

3 plantains (washed, peeled and sliced)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon grated ginger

2 tablespoons lime juice

salt

cayenne powder (a pinch)

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoons cumin

1/2 cup chopped scallions or red onion

2 table spoons canola/sesame oil

4-5 curry leaves (optional)

2 green chilies

14 teaspoon turmeric (optional)

Method:-

In a skillet, heat oil on medium heat.

Add in the mustard, ginger and cumin. In a minute add the chopped green chilies and curry leaves and fry for 1 minute. Add in the plantain (raw banana). Sprinkle a few drops of water in the skillet and place a lid on it. Cook for 5 minutes.

Now, remove the lid, stir the raw banana and cook on low flame for 6-7 minutes.

Add salt, turmeric,  cayenne and cilantro. Cook on low heat for another 5 minutes while stirring.

Turn off the heat and add lime juice and stir.

Eat this wonderful plantain fry with brown rice or roti.

 

 

 

 

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

They are bright, they are bold and they are… beautiful!

We all the know that sweet potato is lighter on the palate and sweeter but it’s also healthier as illustrated by this Cleaveland Clinic info graphic:


So yeah, when you pick fries, go for sweet potatoes and remember, while frying gives a crispier and quicker result, baking is awesome too – it takes way less oil and allows for a depth of flavour that can only come from relative slow cooking.

Here’s how you can bake sweet potato fries:

sweet potato fries, baked sweet potato fries
Preheat the oven to either 450 F or 350 F. Dice a large sweet potato into fry-shaped strips of desired thickness. Toss in a tablespoon of olive or canola oil. Season with salt and spice ( pepper or cayenne powder and garlic if desired). Bake for 22 mins on 450 and for 40 mins if on 350. Flip the fries midway through the bake. Season with herbs and Parmesan if desired.

sweet potato fries, baked sweet potato fries

Black bean brown rice burgers

By Shalini Kolluri

Sink your teeth into a delicious vegan burger recipe made from beans and rice. To make cheeseburgers, about 1 minute before burgers are done, top with sliced cheese; continue cooking until cheese begins to melt.

If you are on a no carb spree just like me, you could swap out the usual buns for lettuce-leaf wrappers, and these meatless burgers are instantly lighter and much more healthier. The spices and herbs that go into the patty depend on your personal preferences. Mint and lime are my personal favs. You could replace mint with parsley, basil or cilantro. Being an Indian at heart I love to add a dash of cayenne to my patty.

hope you love making this as much as I did. Once you master the recipe, it’s perfect food for parties and picnics..

Ingredients:-

2 cups cooked black beans

1 boiled potato (peeled and mashed)

1/2 cup overcooked brown rice

1 red onion (minced)

1/2 cup chopped mint leaves

breadcrumbs

2 table spoons lemon juice

1 table spoon garlic powder / minced garlic

salt

pepper

2 tablespoons oil

Hamburger bread sliced in halves

sliced red onions

sliced tomato

tender lettuce leaves

mustard sauce

cheese slices (optional)

Method:-

Mash beans and brown rice with a fork till a thick paste forms. Stir in the onion, mint, salt, pepper, garlic and lime. Mix and form patties. Roll the patties in breadcrumbs for that extra crunch.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add patties gently and cook for 6-7 minutes on each side.

To serve, spread each burger with mustard sauce, top with lettuce, patty, red onion and tomato.

 

 

 

 

 

Pink perfection

By Shalini Kolluri

grape

This is a healthy, easy, and satisfying drink for those who enjoy a cirtrusy flavor or are looking for a drink that is fiber rich. It contains nectarine, grapefruit, apple and strawberry. What better way to greet the day than with a tart sweet blend of fruits!

Grapefruit is a well known diet food for good reason: It is packed with nutrients like lycopene, vitamins A and C, and fiber. What’s more, studies show that this citrus fruit can help lower your cholesterol and  protect you from certain cancers.Needless to say, strawberries are a power house of anti-oxidants too. Nectarine and apple add fiber in addition to enhancing the consistency of this wonderful drink.

How do you make it?

All you need is 1 nectarine (peeled and sliced), 4 strawberries (washed and sliced),  1/2 cup grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed) and 1/2 an apple (gala).

Now, blend all four ingredients with 1 table spoon honey and drink it under 5 minutes!

 

 

brussel sprouts and cashew cheese

sprouts

 

I’m always in search for that perfect appetizer that satisfies my cravings without making me feel guilty.However, as a cheese lover I find myself always gravitating towards cheese platters and good old Indian paneer! But, if I’m going to keep my lean streak on, I’ll have to cut back on the dairy!

I recently visited a vegan bar in Williamsburge where I was served  Brussels sprouts. What surprised me was that though I had grown tired of the usual sauteed sprouts which come as a side with practically any vegetarian main course, here was a perfectly crunchy dish with the right amount of flavor and a tangy dip! This got me really pumped. I wanted to use my imagination and create a  version of Brussels sprouts with a vegan cheese  topping! And I’m pleased to say that the baked apple and cashew cheese go perfectly well with my savory sprouts.

Ingredients:-

A pack of fresh Brussels sprouts( You could saute them for 6-7 min before placing them in the oven)

1 apple cut in thin slices

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Canola oil

Roasted almonds 6-7

For the cheese:-

1/2 cup cashews (soaked overnight)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

cayenne powder (a drizzle)

salt

1 garlic pod crushed

olive oil

Method:-

How to make the cashew cheese?

First,soak your cashews for at least 6 hours.  Drain them.  Add lemon juice, salt, olive oil, garlic and mix all that in a food processor until super smooth. You could add a pinch of cayenne to the cheese. But, that is totally optional.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Arrange frozen Brussels sprouts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle apple and almonds evenly around the baking sheet. Drizzle the sprouts, apples and almonds with canola oil; sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Toss the mixture gently to coat.

Roast in the preheated oven until sprouts are hot and fragrant, about 18 minutes. 

Pour the cashew cheese on the sprouts and put it back in the oven for a good 6 minutes.

Take it out and enjoy!

sprouts1

sunrise smoothie

By Shalini Kolluri

hugo

 

This thick and creamy, fresh fruit smoothie will satisfy your sweet tooth without stretching your waistband. If you need to cool down after a tough workout or a hot day at the beach, this colorful and absolutely delicious smoothie is the way to go!

Pour a strawberry-watermelon  juice mixture over a layer of mango peach smoothie for a two-tone drink that’s as pretty as it is tasty.

To create a two tone or a double layered smoothie, you must follow these tips:

  • Pour in the heaviest blend on the bottom of the glass.
  • “Stack” layers on top of it according to weight/mass.
  • Finish the drink with the lightest color blend last.

During summer and before a robust work out- I love pouring in a mango or a banana smoothie at the bottom, topping it off with a citrus-y fruit juice.

To make this smoothie you will need:-

3/4 cup ripe mango slices

1/4 cup peach slices

1/4 teaspoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon mint leaves

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

a few slices of watermelon

2 tablespoons of water

Method:-

Blend mango, peach, lemon juice and ginger. Add the water if too thick. Pour into a glass.

Now, bled the watermelon, strawberry, mint and ice cubes. Gently pour over the mango peach layer.

Stick a straw in your drink and enjoy!!

jugo