Monday, September 29, 2014

Kulitha Idli ( Steamed Horse Gram Lentil Rice cakes)

This is one recipe that screams "healthy". I have been meaning to try this for the longest now. Kulith means horse gram. We make a myriad of dishes with it. We make kulitha koddel, kulitha saaru upkari and kulitha upkari. The nomenclature is because this grain was fed to horses and cattle.Horse gram is extremely nutritious. My mother used to state that eating horse-gram would give one the strength of a horse! It is also one of the few lentils/ beans that are apparently not gassy and does not create bloating. Combine this great healthy grain with urad dal( matpe bean lentil) and rice and make idlis ( steamed rice lentil cakes) with this and you have bonus nutrition. The regular idlis just have the matpe bean lentil and rice, this has the additional nutrients. The down side is that the idlis don't look very pretty. They look like they have flax-meal in them! Taste wise, awesome! I love it!

So without further ado let me share the recipe with you.

 Servings: 20 idlis


Kulith ( Horse Gram): 1/2 cup
Urad dal: 1/2 cup
Idli rava ( rice rava): 1 cup
Cooked rice/ poha: 1/4 cup
Water: 1 to 1 1/2 cups to grind urad dal and horse gram
Salt to taste ( approximately 3/4 tsp)


Soak kulith ( horse gram) and urad dal for 5-6 hours.

Wash idli rava/ rice rava thoroughly and keep aside.

Blend kulith and urad dal in a blender adding water little at a time until it rises to 2 times the volume you started with. Make sure you give the motor of the blender some rest in between. The consistency of the ground batter should be fluffy  and light ,not runny.

Pour the batter  in a big bowl/ container.

Now mix the washed idli rava with the  horsegram-urad dal , add salt,cover and let it ferment overnight ( 5-6 hours if in hot weather).If living in a cold region, you can keep it in the cold oven/ microwave overnight with the equipment turned off.

Next  morning you  can steam the idlis.

Grease the idli mold with ghee/ butter/ Pam, fill it with batter until 2/3 full and 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 sambar/ chutney or both.

Cooking made easy:

Well fermented batter results in soft, light and fluffy idlis. You can know this when the batter has risen a little in the container. Inadequte fermentation leads to poor quality idlis that are hard,dense and has a doughy texture.

If the batter is too thick, add a little water. The consistency of the batter should be slightly thick ( thicker than dosa batter).

The addition of little bit of poha/cooked rice helps ferment the idlis better making it soft an fluffy.

This idli can also be made with sprouted horse gram as I have made in the pictures below. Sprouting also helps with fermentation especially during winter.

Tip for healthy living:

Horse gram is extremely nutritious.

Food for thought:

The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future.
Eric Hoffer

Meatless Monday Sambar( spicy vegetable- lentil stew ) : perfect for vrat/ fasting

Do you find it hard to believe that sambar can be eaten while fasting?? Of course it can be! In fact it is a perfect fasting food as it is so nutritious and wholesome with both the goodness of protein from the dal ( lentil) and the all-roundedness provided by the medley of vegetables. Yes, sambar can be made without onions and it tastes absolutely delicious! I could eat just a big bowl of sambar and call it a day!

Servings: 4-6


Toor dal ( split Pegion-peas): 1/2 cup
Potato: 1 medium, peeled and diced medium.
Raw cooking banana: 1 medium, peeled and diced small.
Carrots: 1 small, peeled and chopped.
Cauliflower florets : 1 cup
Sambar powder: 1 tbsp
Tamarind paste: 1/4 tsp
Jaggery or brown sugar: 1 tsp
Asofoetida( hing): pinch
Water:  1 1/2 cups + 3 1/2cups + 1/2 cup
Cilantro: 1 tbsp, chopped

For tempering:

Coconut oil: 1 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig


Cook tur dal  thoroughly with 1 1/2 cups water in the pressure cooker and keep aside. When cooled, whip it lightly so that it becomes homogenous.

Boil 4 cups water in a pot and cook the vegetables until tender adding the ones requiring the longest cooking time first and the least last.

In the mean time take 1/2 cup warm water and make a tamarind solution. Add sambar powder,  jaggery and mix well.

To the cooked vegetables, add the tur dal. Mix well.

Now add the tamarind & sambar powder mixture and let it come to a boil. Turn off the flame.


In a small frying pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds . Once the mustard seeds splutter, turn off the flame.Add curry leaves. Add it to the sambar.

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro/ coriander leaves.

Serve hot with rice/ idlis/ dosa.


Cooking made easy:

Any combination of vegetables can be used for sambar. There is no set rule. Making sambar is a great way to clean up the refrigerator!

Tip for healthy living:

If you have a cold/ sore throat/ cough, add extra black pepper powder and 1 tsp turmeric powder to the above sambar. Eat a bowl of hot steaming sambar and your sinuses will be cleared due to the black pepper while the anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric powder will aid healing.

Food for thought:

The mind is everything. What you think, you become. Buddha

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tamde bhajji Upkari ( Red Amarnath leaves /Red Swiss chard Stir fry): fasting food too.

It is interesting how human beings evolve as they grow up. It is also I interesting how our brain dictates everything that we do. Growing up, I used to hate stir-fried greens ( bhajji upkari). Now, everyday I need to eat atleast one serving of some kind of greens! Amazing isn't it?? I have therefore invented several ways to make stir-fries using not only the Indian greens like Amarnath and spinach, I also cook Swiss chard, kale and collards. I have Indianized these western greens! Funnily enough, I love them all! Today I am going to share with you all the simplest of all stir-fries without onion/ garlic. Simple, easy, quick and absolutely delicious! This is a good option for Navrathri fasting too.

Servings: 3-4


Red Amarnath leaves or red Swiss chard: washed, and finely chopped.
Coconut oil: 1 tsp ( any cooking oil can be used).
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Dry Red chillies: 2-3
Salt: to taste
Brown Sugar: 1/2 tsp


Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in a frying pan/ wok. Add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add red chilli bits. 

Then add the washed Swiss chard/ red Amarnath leaves, salt and brown sugar. Let it cook on medium flame for 10-15 mins until the Swiss chard/ Amarnath leaves have cooked. 

You can leave the remaining fluid alone or increase the flame and dry it up. 

Garnish with freshly grated coconut.

Serve with rice or roti or can eat it alone!

Cooking made easy:

The best way to clean greens is to soak it in cold water with a spoonful of vinegar for 10-15 mins and then wash it and cook it. Soaking makes all the dirt settle at the bottom of the water.

Tip for healthy living:

Instead of using a myriad of kitchen cleaners to clean your kitchen counter, just use a little bit of  undiluted vinegar.Vinegar is non-toxic, eco-friendly and you can prevent the ill-effects of the chemicals in the cleaners on your family.

Food for thought:

Nature does nothing in vain. Aristotle

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chatpate Aloo ( Potatoes sautéed in a tangy spice mix): great for fasting.

Here is a quick dish that can be made in less than 30 minutes! Perfect for a weeknight dinner. Makes for a great side or you could eat it just like that! My husband likes spicy food whereas I have a medium spice level, while the kids have very little tolerance for spicy food. I have to therefore often try to strike a balance between the three. Hence often I make one side dish that is low in spice and another that is spicy! That ways everybody is happy! My husband loves potatoes and this is my go-to on a weeknight. I make a batch of this and he is a happy camper for two days! This recipe is super simple and easy! I am bringing this to all the girls at Angie's Fiesta Friday! Prudy and Naina are the co-hosts this week. Being that it is the second day of Navrathri fasting, this dish is perfect for fasting too.. goes great with some gluten free flat-breads.

Servings: 4-6


Potatoes: 4 large, boiled until just done, peeled and cut into medium cubes.
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp ( any cooking oil can be used)
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Coriander powder: 1 tbsp
Haldi ( turmeric powder): 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder: 1 tsp( you can adjust according to your spice level)
Amchur ( dry mango) powder: 1 tsp
Black pepper powder: 1/8 tsp
Garam masala: a pinch
Cilantro( for garnishing): 2 tbsp chopped.


Heat coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add mustard seeds. 

Once the mustard seeds splutter, add curry leaves,turmeric powder, coriander powder, black pepper powder, amchur powder, chilli powder. Saute for a minute.

Add in the cooked potato cubes. Add salt.Sauté for few minutes until all the potato pieces are nicely coated with the spices. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes . 

Add in the garam masala powder. Mix once more.

Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with steamed rice and dal or flat bread.


Cooking made easy:

This dish is very versatile. You can play around with what spices you want to add depending on what you have in your pantry. You could skip the garam masala powder. You could add cumin powder as well. You could use just salt, turmeric and black pepper powder or salt, turmeric and just chilli powder. If you want to try a more exotic taste, you could add fennel seed powder. See... the permutations and combinations are endless!

Tip for healthy living:

Today is Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Mesothelioma is a rare and preventable cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos. 

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Mesothelioma Awareness Day, and has been the driving force behind the movement to bring more attention and funding to this cancer. There is no more innocent victim than a person with mesothelioma, they are sick as a direct result of a product that is NOT banned in the U.S. This disease has a life expectancy of just 18 months after diagnosis, and symptoms may not be evident until 20-35 years after initial exposure to asbestos.

Food for thought:

The heart forgets its sorrow and ache. James Russell Lowell

Panchkadai ( sweet offering to God)

Yesterday marked the beginning of the nine-day festival Navrathri ,( Nav means 9 and rathri means nights)celebrated in India and by Indians worldwide. People from different parts of the country celebrate it differently,  some observing a 9-day fasting of different levels combined with praying while others celebrate it by merry-making. There is lot of dancing during the nine nights.

Panchkadai is something that is offered to God during Pooja/ prayers. While there are several types of panchkadai , the most common offering being Godu Phovu, this particular one is made with roasted lentils and sesame seeds. This is therefore a very good source of proteins. As everything else I make, this too is easy to make.


Freshly grated coconut: 1 1/2 cups
Jaggery: 3/4cup
Water: 1/8 cup
Chana dal( split pea lentil):1/2 cup
Moong dal ( split moong bean lentil): 1/2 cup
White sesame seeds: 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder: 1/8 tsp


In a pot add the jaggery and water and cook it on medium heat until the jaggery has completely dissolved ( takes around 5 minutes). Switch of the flame and let it settle down for 8-10 minutes. Now gently take the top portion of the syrup into another pot. Look for sand/ dirt residue, discard it.

Now heat the syrup again on medium heat until it bubbles and has a nice golden hue. Mix in the freshly grated coconut and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the cardamom powder and ghee and keep aside to cool down.

Separately dry roast the sesame seeds, moon bean lentil ( moong dal) and split-pea lentil ( Chana dal) and keep aside. Once slightly cooled, coarsely powder the Chana dal in the blender or food processor. I do the same thing to moong dal too, but you don't have to!

Once the able mixture is cooled, mix in the coarsely crushed dal and the sesame seeds .Mix well.

Panchkadai is ready to be offered to the Goddess.

Cooking made easy:

This panchkadai can be made with just Chana dal or just moong dal or with sesame seeds alone, it you could combine them in different permutations and combinations. There is no set hard and fast rule.

Tip for healthy living:

To get rid of dry dark patches on the back of your elbows, try rubbing it with lemon halves, leave it on for few minutes, then wash with warm water. Apply coconut oil or Vaseline after drying.

Food for thought:

Familiar acts are beautiful through love. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Monday, September 22, 2014

Meatless Monday Jhatphat Egg Chilli ( Quick Egg Chilli)

For the past one week I have been sick with cold. Hence I haven't had the mood to do any elaborate cooking. I have been just rustling stuff together. This dish is one of them. It is super-quick and super-easy to make! The end result is tangy, yummy, delicious made in under 30 minutes!

Servings: 3 ( 2 eggs per person)


Boiled Eggs: 6
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Onion: 2 onions, chopped lengthwise.
Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp
Sriracha sauce: 1 tsp ( adjust based on your spice level)( regular red or green chilli sauce can be used)
Soy sauce: 1 tbsp
Oyster sauce: 1 tsp
Tomato ketchup: 1 tbsp
Spring onions: 3-4 chopped fine


Peel the eggs and make 3-4 slits along the length of the eggs without cutting them apart. Now marinate them in soy sauce and oyster sauce mixture for 5 mins.

Heat oil in a wok/skillet on high heat. Add the chopped onions and the white parts of the spring onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. 

Add ginger-garlic paste and saute  for a minute. Add the marinated eggs along with the leftover sauce. 

Add the chilli sauce and the tomato ketchup, sauté.

I have not added any salt as the sauces have plenty of salt!

Turn off the flame, garnish with chopped spring onions.

Serve hot with steamed rice.


Cooking made easy:

Boiling an egg to perfection is an art.  It should not the overcooked or under cooked. To achieve this add eggs to boiling water, cook for 10 minutes, turn off the flame, cover and keep for 5 more minutes.

Tip for healthy living:

Whenever possible buy organic cage-free or free-range eggs. What does this mean?? This means that the eggs are from hens that were raised in humane condition with pesticide free feed, allowed to roam outside their coop for few hours everyday.

Food for thought:

What goes around, comes around. Unknown

Friday, September 19, 2014

Batate Gojju ( Potato Dip)

Have you ever heard of a potato dip??? Yes, this is nothing new. Where I come from, gojjus as we call these dips have been a traditional accompaniment to our meals for time immemorial. This particular one is another one of my mother-in-law's recipes that is one my husband's favorites! It is yogurt-based, like a raita. If you don't like/want to use yogurt, you could skip it and make it without yogurt. It is tangy, yummy  and hearty.It is quick and easy to make and makes for a great meal accompaniment! I am bringing this dish to all my wonderful friends at Angie's Fiesta Friday! Selma@ Selma's table and Elaine@Foodbod are co-hosts this week!

Servings: 4-6


Potatoes: 2, boiled and peeled.
Green chillies: 2-3
Salt: 1/2 tsp ( adjust as per taste)
Tamarind pulp: 1/8 tsp
Jaggery: 1/4 tsp
Freshly grated coconut: 2 tbsp
Hing( asofoetida ): a pinch if powder, 1/8 tsp if solution.
Water : 1/4cup
Yogurt: 1 cup ( optional)
Cilantro: 1 tbsp ( for garnishing)

For tempering:

Coconut oil: 1 tsp
Mustard :1/2 tsp
Dried Red chillies: 2
Curry leaves: 1 sprig


In a mortar and pestle, grind together green chillies and salt. Add the grated coconut,tamarind, jaggery and grind.Now add the peeled potatoes. Add water little at time as needed and grind until the potatoes are all mashed.

Take this in a bowl. Add asofoetida.

 You could stop at this step and proceed to tempering if you wish to skip the addition of yogurt.

Now add the yogurt, mix well.

In a small frying pan, heat coconut oil, add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add in the red chillies and curry leaves. Turn of the flame. Add this to the above bowl.

Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve cold or at room temperature. Usually served with steamed rice.

Cooking made easy:

When you need cooked potatoes instantaneously, you could use the microwave to cook them. Just clean the potatoes, prick them using a fork. Place it in the microwave and cook it for 3 mins. Turn them over and cook for another 3 mins. Well cooked potatoes are ready. Let them rest for a couple of minutes before taking it out of the oven.

Tip for healthy living:

Using gloves while washing dishes can help prevent dry and cracked skin of the hands. Also use some kind of moisturizer/ hand cream after doing household chores like washing dishes, mopping etc .

Food for thought:

God is the tangential point between zero and infinity. Alfred Jarry

Eggless, butter- less Oatmeal-Flaxmeal Banana-Raisin Bread

While I have made some eggless cakes, they have been made using tried and tested recipes from my other blogger friends. But I can never confidently tell someone what is the perfect, fool-proof substitute for egg. I have read up tons of stuff regarding what could be substituted for eggs. Reading and doing is two different things! I had overripe bananas lying around. I had also recently got a bag of Flaxmeal which I use with my oatmeal. I decided to try substituting Flaxmeal for eggs. Banana bread would be a safe bet as there would be little that could go wrong. So I set about experimenting, switching oatmeal for flour and Flaxmeal for eggs and butter. I didn't want to take too big a chance, so I added 1/4 cup olive oil. The result was a resounding success! The bread was moist and delicious! The only difference when compared to the regular banana bread is that the loaf is not as big. It is 3/4 it's size.You can find my original banana bread recipe here.

Servings: 6-8


Oat flour: 2 cups
Flaxmeal: 3 tbsp+ 3/4 cup
Water: 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp
 Baking soda: 1 tsp
 Salt:1/4 tsp
 Ground cinnamon: ½ tsp
 Ground nutmeg: ¼ tsp
 Vanilla extract:1 tsp
 Brown sugar:3/4 cup
Olive oil: 1/4 cup
Overripe bananas: 2 cups( 4 bananas),mashed
 Walnuts:½ cup,chopped(optional)
Raisins: 1/4 cup ( optional)


In a mixing bowl mix together 3 tbsp Flaxmeal with 1/2 cup and 1 tbsp water and keep aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and keep aside.

Beat together the flaxmeal+water mixture, oil, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg  in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the banana,  beating until smooth. Add oat flour and 3/4 cup flaxmeal, raisins and nuts, stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and let it rest at room temperature, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Bake the bread for 45 minutes. Lay a piece of foil gently across the top and bake until a cake tester (like a toothpick) inserted into the center comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes more..

Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

 Slice and serve with a cup of tea or coffee.

Enjoy! I am bringing this to all the wonderful gals at Angie's Fiesta Friday. This week's co-hosts are the very talented and capable Selma @Selma's table and Elaine@Foodbod.

Cooking made easy:

Oat flour can be easily made at home by grinding oatmeal to a fine powder using a regular blender/ mixie.

Flaxmeal can also be made at home by grinding flax seeds in a blender/ mixie.

Tip for healthy living:

Flaxseeds are extremely healthy. They are not only rich in omega-3 fatty acids,but are also great source of dietary fiber. Flaxmeal is a great way of incorporating flax seeds into our daily diet. You could just mix it into your regular shakes/ smithies, oatmeal etc.

Food for thought:

A thing well done is worth doing. Hugh Leonard

Monday, September 15, 2014

Meatless Monday Tomato Saaru ( Tomato Soup)

Tomato saaru is ubiquitous in Southern India. Any meal is incomplete if there is no saaru or rasam. There are several methods to making this; with cooked dal(Pegion-peas lentil), with rasam powder( a spice mix with powdered lentil in it used for this soup). My favorite though is this simple humble saaru that my mother and my mother-in-law makes. There is no grinding involved, no cooked lentils to be added, no rasam powder added. can be made anytime, anywhere.For this particular recipe, I like the way my mother-in-law makes it. Tangy, flavorful saaru; comfort food for me. Every time she visits us, I specifically request her to make this for us. This is her recipe.

Servings: 4-6 ( 1 cup per person)


Tomatoes: 2 red ripe tomatoes
Water: 1 liter
Green chillies: 3-4, slit ( adjust based on your spice level and that of the chillies being used)
Jagger or brown sugar: 1 tsp
Salt: as needed.
Tamarind: marble sized if using dried, 1/4 tsp if using pulp.

For tempering:
Coconut oil/ghee: 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Jeera( cumin seeds): 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig

For garnishing:( optional)

Cilantro: 1 tbsp , chopped.


Boil whole tomatoes in 1 liter water in a pot until the tomatoes are half-cooked.

Remove the tomatoes out, peel it. ( Be careful as it will be very hot! ) You could use a fork and knife to peel it or immerse in cold water to cook it down a little.Now using your hands or a potato masher, mash it in a bowl.

Add the mashed tomatoes back to the pot with slit green chillies, salt, tamarind and jaggery. Boil it until the water reduces to 3/4th the amount you started with.

Turn off the flame.


Heat oil/ ghee in a small pan. Add the cumin seeds and then the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, turn off the flame and add the curry leaves.

Add this to the pot above.

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.

Serve it with hot steamed rice or just drink it in a cup!


Cooking make easy:

If you don't have the time for the boiling, peeling and mashing of the tomatoes, you could skip this step entirely and just add chopped tomatoes to begin with. Add all the other ingredients with the tomatoes except those listed under tempering and garnishing. The rest of the process remains the same. I must caution you that this is precisely the difference between my mother's and my mother-in-law's method of making saaru and like I have stated earlier, I find my mother-in-laws saaru more tasty.

This could also be made using tomato purée or tomato paste. But nothing beats the flavor of fresh tomatoes!

Tip for healthy living:

Tomatoes are not only bursting with flavor, they are a great source of  Lycopene which is known to have immense antioxidant properties.They are supposed to be great anti-inflammatory agents.

Tomatoes belong to the night-shade family and therefore people with arthritis should avoid eating tomatoes as they are known to aggravate joint pain.

Food for thought:

Research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing. Wernher von Braun