Friday, June 9, 2017

Spicy Karela ( Bitter gourd cooked with spices)

Most people shy away from Karela (bitter gourd or bitter melon in English). I for some reason love it. Every time I go get my groceries, if I see bitter gourd I will surely buy it. May be because I am aware of the immense health benefits and  the nutritional value of bitter gourd, especially for diabetics. People don't like it because of it's bitterness. I am of the opinion that either they have eaten a bitter gourd dish that has not been cooked properly. If a bitter gourd is cooked in the correct manner, there is little to no bitterness in the dish. Check my fried bitter gourd and the Masala Karela recipes.

Today I am bringing to you another of my favorite, easy to make bitter gourd recipes that does not leave the Karela tasting bitter! This recipe was shared by my sister.  I have modified it to make it tastier and more convenient.  Do try it.. You may like it!! 

Servings: 4-6

Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 15-20 minsTotal time: 35-40 mins


Bitter gourd/ Karela: 2 medium sized
Turmeric powder/ haldi: 1 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Water: 4 cups
Tamarind pulp: 1/2 tsp
Jaggery/brown sugar: 1 tsp
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Garlic : 4-6 cloves, chopped 
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Freshly grated coconut: 2 tbsp


Chop the Karela either in circles or in pieces. Take this in a bowl. 
Add turmeric powder, salt and keep aside for atleast 15 mins. I usually leave it overnight like that in the fridge ( for convenience). 

After 15 mins ( or whenever you are ready to cook it), squeeze the Karela a fistful at a time and keep aside. Do this with all the available bitter gourd. Discard the remaining water. 

Take this squeezed bitter gourd in a sauce pan or pot. 
Add 4 cups water, jaggery and tamarind pulp. 
Bring this to a boil, reduce the flame and cook it until the Karela is just tender. Turn off the flame and let it cool down slightly.  
When it has cooled down enough to handle it, drain the water completely. Discard the water. Keep the cooked Karela aside. 

In a sauté pan or frying pan, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil.
Add the mustard seeds. 
Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the curry leaves and chopped garlic. Sauté for few seconds until the garlic is fragrant. 
Add the red chilli powder. Sauté for 10 seconds.
Now add the cooked Karela, freshly grated coconut and if needed a pinch of salt( I usually don't add salt as we already added it earlier during marination). Mix and let it all come together for 2 mins. Turn off the flame.

Serve hot. 

Goes well with rice and dal, yogurt rice or roti.

I am bringing this to my dear friend Angie's Fiesta Friday#175. I bet they have not heard of this dish. Her cohosts this week are Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Suzanne @ A Pug in the Kitchen. Both are very talented bloggers.


Cooking made easy: 

The key to ensuring that Karela is not bitter is either to marinate it with salt and turmeric powder, squeeze it out and discard the water or to boil it in water, squeeze and remove and discard the water. 

Tip for healthy living:

Since time immemorial, bitter gourd had known for its health benefits in diabetics. The most significant being the insulin like properties of it's juice which is used in diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Research however has shown inconclusive results. Karela is also used as a blood purifier. It is supposedly helpful in people with toxemia, and helps boost the immune system. There have been also other claims like its use in people with gout, piles etc, but there has been no scientific evidence to support it.


Food for thought: 

Fortitude is the guard and support of other virtues. John Locke

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

4- ingredient Buckwheat Pancakes with vegan option; Meatless Monday.

Pancakes are fun for kids and adults alike. But there are many who follow a gluten free diet due their intolerance to gluten. Buckwheat flour is a great alternative to regular flour. It is of course darker in color and may not appeal to all but it is definitely healthier and has a different kind of nutty flavor. For all those who are vegetarian and don't eat eggs, you can totally skip the eggs and make the pancake. The use of buttermilk helps leaven the butter and make the pancakes fluffier.

Those who are vegan can use almond or soy milk and still make the pancakes. The only difference is that it won't be very fluffy.

I also make it healthier by using honey instead of sugar. You can use maple syrup too. Sugar alternatives like agave can also be used.

Servings: makes 5-6 medium sized pancakes.

Prep time: 10 minsCook time: 15 minsTotal time: 25 mins


Buckwheat flour: 1 cup
Baking powder: 1 tsp
Honey: 1 tbsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Buttermilk: 3/4 cup ( Vegans can use plant-based milk like almond milk/ soy milk)
Butter/ coconut oil : as needed to grease the pan. ( Vegans may use coconut oil)


Add buckwheat flour, baking powder and salt to a bowl. Mix well.

Add honey. Stir.

Now slowly add the buttermilk little by little, mixing the batter in between. Stir gently until all the batter is nicely mixed. The batter might be thicker than usual. It is ok.
Do not overmix!

Heat the griddle/pan.
Add 1/2 tsp of butter/oil to the pan.

Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan. Using a ladle, gently spread it in circular motions. Don't spread it thin.

Let it cook on low flame for 2 mins. You will see bubbling on top. Try to release the edges of the pancake from the pan. If it releases easily, flip the pancake.

Cook from the other side for 1 more minute.

Remove from the griddle and place it on a serving plate.

Top it with bananas,  berries, chocolate chip or nuts. Pour maple syrup/honey or regular syrup on top.


I am bringing this to my dear friend Angie's Fiesta Friday#175. Her cohosts this week are Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Suzanne @ A Pug in the Kitchen

Cooking made easy:

While making pancakes, it is best to spread the batter thick. Also cook the pancakes keeping the gas flame low or else the bottom of the pancake will get burnt.

Tip for healthy living:

Buckwheat is a great alternative for people with gluten intolerance. It can be easily substituted for flour and it has a high nutritional value.

Food for thought:

Unless we remember, we cannot understand. E.M.Forster

Friday, June 2, 2017

Vaangibaath ( Eggplant Rice/ Brinjal Rice)

The other day my friend and I were out running errands and we felt like going to a South Indian Restaurant. While the North Indian restaurants are ubiquitous, South Indian are harder to come by. I don't know exactly why.. However I think the western world relates Indian cuisine mainly to flatbreads ( rotis, paratha, naan), chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, aloo gobhi and chole than to the South Indian cuisine of dosas and idlis. Dosas are nothing but pancakes and crepes while idlis are steamed rice-lentil cakes both of which form the mainstay of South Indian Cuisine.Anyways, we happened to go to Dosa Hut ( translates as pancake hut) to eat some nice and crispy masala dosa. 

While we were done, my friend ordered some Vaangibaath "to go" for her hubby and her for dinner. She doesn't know how to make it and was craving it. Her ordering Vaangibaath made me crave it too.. I realized I had not made Vaangibaath in a long time. I decided to make it. Vaangibaath or Vangibath is nothing but Eggplant Rice. "Vaangi"
means "eggplant"or "Brinjal" and "Baath" is rice. Basically it is rice and eggplant cooked together with flavorful spices to make it something like a pulao( pilaf). It is quite simple and easy to make. I had some chimes eggplant in my fridge and I made it for lunch the next day. It is usually served with some chutney or raita ( yogurt based salad). My husband and I both relished it.

You get Vangibath powder in the store. I don't like to keep a whole bunch of pre-mixed spice mixes in my pantry if I am only going to make the dish sporadically. I keep a bunch of basic spices and mix it when I want a specific mix. For Vangibath I use sambar powder and add a couple of other spices to it. I use sambar powder to make my bisibelebath too. Here is my quick version of Vaangibaath.

Servings: 4-6

Prep time: 15 minsCook time: 20 minsTotal time: 35 mins


White rice ( Basmati or any long grain rice is preferred): 2 cups
Water: 4 cups
Onion: 2 medium, chopped lengthwise
Cashew halves: 1-2 tbsp ( optional)
Eggplant, long variety ( Chinese eggplant): 3-4 medium-sized.
Oil: 2 tbsp ( I used coconut oil; any cooking oil can be used).
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch piece
Cardamom:4 pods
Bay leaf: 1 small
Sambar powder: 2-3 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Jaggery or sugar: 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp  for garnish ( 1 tbsp)


Wash and soak basmati rice in water for atleast 30 mins. Drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a sauté pan or pressure pan. Add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add curry leaves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom. If adding cashew halves, add them now. Sauté for 15-20 seconds.

Add the sliced eggplants. Sauté for 3-4 mins until the eggplant slightly wilts. Now add the sambar powder. Mix well. Add the washed and drained rice. Add 4 cups water, salt, jaggery and bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame to low.

Cover and cook for 15 mins.

When done, fluff the rice using a serving spoon.
Garnish with freshly grated coconut and/or coriander leaves.

Serve hot with raita/cucumber-tomato slices and/or chutney of any kind.

Enjoy!   I can't wait to bring this to Angie's Fiesta Friday#174! I am sure this will be something new to everybody!

Cooking made easy:

If using a pressure cooker, don't use weight or whistle.
If it is convenient for you, you can use the Vaangibath mix that is readily available in stores.

Tip for healthy living:

Cooking with minimal oil reduces the overall calorie and fat content of the meal. A rule of thumb is that any dish that uses water for cooking, does not require much oil to cook.

Food for thought:

He who angers you conquers you. Elizabeth Kenny

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Tomato Pickle

We Indians love our pickles!!! It is an ubiquitous part of all our meals!! Served and eaten in minuscule quantities, this condiment adds flavor to our meal like none other!!

Our pickles are nothing like the western pickles! Our pickles are fiery and usually bright red in color due to the presence of red chillies in them. Even our green colored pickles or pickles of any other color are still spicy. There are very few that are on the sweeter side and they too have chilli powder in them. While most of our pickles has vegetables that have been soaked in brine, it is not a requirement. We can make pickles without brine. Of course, the shelf life of pickles made without brine is much lower than those made with brine.

It is pickle season now in India. We pickle all kinds of vegetables, some fruits like mango and even fish!! It is truly delicious!!

Those who follow me know that I don't make anything that is tedious or time consuming!! Simply because I don't have that kind of time! Check my quick zucchini pickle!
My husband loves pickles and goes through a whole bottle in 3-4 days!! The reason being that I don't cook with too much spice any more and he finds the food too bland for his palate. He compensates by using pickles!

Today I am bringing you a very easy pickle that requires very few ingredients, is easy to make and does not require too much attention while making it. It has a wonderful shelf life! The recipe courtesy goes to an individual whom I look up to: Radha Natarajan. She blogs at Your Everyday Cook. You can check out her recipe here.  Her blog is full of simple recipes that bachelors and students living in hostel can make!!

I have made a few modifications, but mostly followed her recipe! Being that tomatoes are in season and are bountiful, I decided to bring this today to you.

Servings: makes one 8oz bottle.

Prep time: 10 minsCook time: 30-60  minsTotal time: 40-70 mins


Sesame oil: 3-4 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Roasted fenugreek powder: 1 tbsp
Tomatoes: 6 medium sized, chopped
Kashmiri red chili powder: 3-4 tbsp
Asofoetida powder ( Hing): 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Tamarind pulp: 1/2 tsp
Jaggery or brown sugar: 1/4 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp ( adjust as needed)


Heat sesame oil on medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or wok. 

Add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the chopped tomatoes. 

Add the turmeric powder, Asofoetida powder, red chilli powder, fenugreek powder, salt and jaggery. 

Reduce the flame. 

Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring intermittently  or until they are almost homogenous and starts leaving oil at the top.

DO NOT ADD WATER. The tomatoes give out a lot of water and will start boiling vigorously. Just continue boiling under low flame until all the water content has evaporated and it stops boiling.

Turn off the flame.

Once the pickle has slightly cooled, transfer it to dry glass jar that is completely dry.

It stays fresh at room temperature for upto 7 days and fresh in the refrigerator for upto 30 days.


I am so excited today to be co-hosting Fiesta Friday#172 with my dear friend and a very talented blogger  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook!  Angie is just amazing and a great hostess!! If you have never been to the Fiesta, you definitely should! It is so much fun! You can check the guidelines here. I know I don't visit you guys often, even though I want to.. There is only so much time in one day and only so much energy in one person. Work is very busy.. You see.. I am moving up people you see..I guess that is all good. So, I will party with you guys when I can. I am definitely here for this Fiesta! Do stop by to say hello. It will be nice to catch up.

Cooking made easy:

Using a thick bottomed dish is good because it keeps the pickle from burning. Same is true for cooking on low flame. So, for these kind of recipes, you need patience. I usually do it when I am cooking my regular food and I am present in the kitchen so that I can periodically stir it. Another way to do it is to use a timer and stir every 5 mins until it is done.

Tip for healthy living:

There is nothing like home-made pickle as you can control the amount of salt that goes into it. Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure.

Food for thought:

The opinion which other people have of you is their problem, not yours. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Sago/ Sabudana Idlis ( steamed dumplings made from Tapioca pearls)

Sago/sabudana or tapioca is very commonly used during fasting in India. There is Sabudana khichidi, Sabudana vadas, Sabudana thalipeeth. Sago pudding or kheer is a popular dessert made for special days. I am very fond of Sabudana on a regular basis, be it religious days or not. I could eat these items anytime.

Recently, my mom introduced me to Sabudana idlis. I have made many kinds of idlis: regular idli, varai idli, mallige idli, sannas, kulith idli, cucumber idli, cornmeal idlis, quinoa idlis. But Sabudana idlis , I have not made. I decided to try mom's recipe as she was raving about these idlis. She also told me to make sure that I serve them with saagu, kurma, matar paneer  or any such curry or not the regular sambar. You know what they say!! Mom is always correct!!! Well it was definitely correct in this case! The idlis were soft, fluffy and delicious! I served it with saagu and it made for a truly delicious breakfast!

It is a great solution for next day breakfast if you have forgotten to make an idli or dosa batter. It is very simple and easy to make recipe with no grinding involved! You just mix the ingredients, make the batter the previous night and keep ready. In the morning just steam it and you have hot idli ready!!

Servings: 4-6

Prep time: 10 minutes + fermentation time ( 3-4hours)

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 20 mins + fermentation time.

Ingredients :

Sabudana/sago/tapioca pearls: 1 cup
Rice rawa/ Cream of rice: 1 cup
Yogurt/Curd: 2 cups
Water: 1 cup ( may not need all)
Salt: 1/2 tsp ( adjust according to taste)
Baking soda: 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 1 tsp
Water: for steaming the idlis , as per individual steamer requirement.


Take Sabudana and washed rice rava in a bowl.

 Add 2 cups of yogurt and  mix . 
Add water little bit at a time to get a batter consistency that is not too thick or too runny.
Cover and keep aside for atleast 3-4 hours for fermentation. I leave mine overnight.
When ready to steam, add salt, sugar and baking soda to the batter. Mix well.

When you are ready to cook the idlis, grease the idli mold with ghee/ butter fill it with batter until 2/3 full. 

Boil water in the steamer. 
Once the water is boiling place the idli stand in the steamer. 
Steam in the idli steamer / pressure cooker ( without using the weight) for 10 minutes on medium- high flame.
Turn off the heat and let it cool down in the steamer for another 10 minutes before taking them out of the mold.

Serve hot with chutney/ curry/ sambar of your choice!


I am bringing this to Angie's Fiesta Friday#173. Angie's cohosts this week are Lindy @ Love In The Kitchen and Paula @ Her Life Is Love

Cooking made easy: 

Idlis can be steamed in the traditional steamer, or in a regular pressure cooker ( without putting the whistle on). You can also steam it in an electric steamer or even in a rice cooker! 
If you do not have the idli stand, use small ramekins or metal bowls to steam the idlis.

Tip for healthy living: 

Urad dal or matpe bean dal can create considerable amount of gas and bloating in people with issues digesting beans. For such people, it is best to avoid gassy foods like beans and vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, onion etc. 

Food for thought:

We aim above the mark to hit the mark. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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