Friday, May 29, 2015

Vermicelli pilaf/pulao/upma

Did you know that my blog has crossed 200 posts!!! I only just realised!! It is amazing how quickly time goes when you are having fun. I am grateful to all of you for your support! Today, for Fiesta Friday, I am bringing another of my simple dishes: Vermicilli Pilaf!Everyone in my home from my little ones to my parents like vermicelli. I like it too .. Mainly for the ease of cooking. It is amazing how many things one can make with vermicelli! Vermicelli upma, vermicelli Payasam, vermicelli pulao. I like to refer to vermicelli cooked with vegetables as vermicelli pulao or pilaf. It is a perfect meal item be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. One could eat it just as easily for any of those meals!

Servings: 4-6


Vermicelli: 8 oz or 125 gms
Water : 4 cups
Cooking oil: 1 tbsp
Onion: 1 small, chopped.
mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig.
urad dal ( split matpe bean): 1 tsp ( optional)
Chana dal ( split chick peas): 1 tsp ( optional)
Peanut halves: 1 tbsp ( optional)
Mixed vegetables: 1 cup ( I used peas, carrots and green beans).
Green chillies: 2 small, slit
Haldi( turmeric powder): 1/2 tsp
Salt : to taste
Lemon juice: 1 tbsp ( from 1/2 lemon).
Cilantro :1 tbsp, chopped.


Boil water with a little salt in a saucepan.Turn off the gas.Add the vermicelli  to the hot water, cover and keep for 3-4 mins. Drain the water using a colander and keep the vermicelli aside.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a sauté pan.Add mustard seeds. Once they spultter, add curry leaves, chana dal and urad dal , peanut halves and saute for 10 seconds. Add onions and sauté for a few seconds until the onions turn transparent. Now add green chillies and turmeric powder and sauté for 10 seconds.

Add the cooked mixed vegetables and mix well. Add little bit of salt.

Now add the drained vermicelli to this vegetable mixture. Mix and heat it until the vermicelli is warm. Squeeze lemon juice.

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.

Serve hot.


Cooking made easy:

Vermicelli should never be overcooked. Just soaking it in hot water for few minutes gets the job done. If you fear that it is overdone, run cold water on it to stop it from continuing to cook. You can also add a little oil and toss it to prevent it from sticking to each other.

Tip for healthy living:

Portion size can be quite successfully be controlled by using smaller plates while eating. Use a 8 inch plate instead of 10 inch plates and you will find yourself automatically eating less!

Food for thought:

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. Confucius

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ragi ( finger millet) Porridge; Diabetes Friendly Thursday.

Ragi( finger millet) porridge prepared with almond milk

Hypoglycemia ( decreased blood sugar level) is a major problem in diabetics. Anyone who is a diabetic, or anyone who lives in close proximity with a diabetic is familiar with this problem. One might wonder that if diabetes is a condition where the blood sugar levels are high, when does the blood sugar level drop and why is decreased blood sugar level a problem?? A certain level of blood sugar is essential for the human body to function. Just like money is the currency that makes the world function, glucose is the primary source of the energy currency called ATP ( Adenosine triphosphate) in the body. When glucose levels in the blood drop below a certain level, the body slows down and stops functioning. Signs of hypoglycemia include headache, increased sweating, dizziness.When hypoglycemia persists, individuals can become unconscious and on occasion death can also occur.
Why does this happen in diabetics?? This is primarily because of the inequality between the anti-diabetic medication consumed and the food in the body at that time. Treatment of diabetes is a multi-tiered approach. The type of anti-diabetic medication the individual takes,whether oral anti-diabetic medication or insulin is used, plays an important role. Kindly read more here if interested. Bottom-line, the type of food consumed, how much of it is consumed and how frequently it is consumed are all important factors that determine the blood sugar level. So,what does one do when one is getting hypoglycemic?? One has to eat something immediately, preferably something that gives instantaneous energy like a little glucose powder, candy etc.

This week the DFT team is bringing you "oil free food". So go ahead and binge on "oil free food". My conrtibution to this event is Ragi ( finger millet) porridge.

Creating Recipes with a Cause!
I am a proud DFT blogger. 
To learn about DFT, read this link
To view more DFT recipes, Click here!

My mother-in-law is a diabetic. She believes in eating healthy and in exercising. She makes this Ragi ( finger millet) porridge whenever she feels hypoglycemic , may be in between two meals when she has not yet finished cooking lunch and is hungry or when she has just come back from her walk and is hungry and there is nothing readily available for her to eat that is healthy. This Ragi porridge takes literally less than 5 mins to make from start to finish and is amazingly healthy. There are only three ingredients in this porridge: Ragi, salt and water. Apart from being gluten-free and almost fat-free, Ragi is a great source of protein making it perfect for vegetarians. Ragi has a low glycemic index.Amongst cereals, Ragi has the highest amount of calcium and potassium. It is a great source of iron making it a perfect food for individuals who tend to be anemic. 100 gms of ragi contains 7.6g protein,1.5 g fat, 88 g carbohydrate and 370 mg calcium!!Read more about the nutritional benefits of Ragi in the footnotes( tip for healthy living). Therefore, this Ragi porridge makes for a nutritious meal that could be fed to infants,kids, elderly and the very sick and debilitated.

Ragi porridge without milk

Servings: 1 ( makes one small bowl)


Ragi flour: 3 tbsp
Water: 2 cups
Salt: a pinch
Regular milk/ almond milk:1/4 cup ( optional)


In a pot, mix Ragi flour in cold water thoroughly so that there are no lumps. 

Heat this mixture on low heat until it thickens to desired consistency. It will bubble and then start to thicken.

The whole process takes 2-3 minutes. Make sure you stir continuously as otherwise it will stick to the bottom of the pot. Add salt and mix thoroughly.

Ragi porridge without milk

If desired, add regular milk or almond milk at this point and mix thoroughly. I have used almond milk. Heat it  until it warms. 

Turn off the heat. Serve hot and eat intermediately.

Remember, Ragi  tends to thicken upon cooling.

Enjoy. I am bringing this dish to Fiesta Friday so that more people with diabetes may benefit.

Cooking made easy:

When the mixture of Ragi,water & salt begins to thicken, you can cover the pot and let it cook until it begins to leave the sides of the pot. Turn off the flame. Once it cools down , you can shape it into a ball and serve it as ragi mudde with spicy vegetarian or chicken curry.  This is a traditional meal served in northern Karnataka in India.

Footnotes ( Tip for healthy living):

Ragi has been known to be cultivated in Karnataka State,  India, since the iron age. Ragi is a nutrient-powerhouse and is a perfect food for diabetics. Ragi can be grown at high-altitudes and in drought-prone areas and is very insect resistant. Ragi is inexpensive, gluten-free, low glycemic whole grain cereal that provides instantaneous energy. Ragi is rich in methionine, an amino acid that is lacking in the diets of poor-people. It is also rich in dietary fiber and therefore gives a sense of fullness. Ragi is also rich in B-group vitamins and magnesium.Overall, everyone regardless of their age, sex, health condition can benefit by eating ragi on a regular basis.

I am not a nutritionist or dietitian. My knowledge and information is based on my research and reading from different resources. Please consult your doctor or dietitian before making any changes to your diet.

Binge with DFT this time in OIL FREE Madness with all these other recipes from our team!

Sonal's methi tofu paneer.

Prachi's thai corn salad tacos

Chahat's peas pilaf

Anu's kothimbir vadi

Shailja's egg masala curry

Sri's quinoa stew

Swati's lauki koftas

Apsara's cornmeal upma

Food for thought:

If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door. Milton Berle.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Quick Palak Paneer( Indian cottage cheese cubes in spinach gravy).

Who here has not heard of the popular Indian dish palak paneer ??Palak means spinach and paneer is Indian cottage cheese.Which Indian here does not like palak paneer?? Well, there may be a few.. most Indians however like palak paneer. It is also a great way to sneak spinach into kid's meals. Speaking of spinach, how many of you buy spinach with the intention of making something, keep it in the refrigerator for days and one fine day you see that the spinach has gone bad and you toss it into the garbage!! Well, my this recipe will help you prevent that from happening  again.

How many of you find the thought of making palak paneer tedious ?? You have to cook the palak, cool it and then purée it. You have to sauté onions, garlic, tomatoes, cool it and purée it.. Yes, I agree.. It can be rather tedious!! Well, this recipe can help fix that too! This recipe was inspired by the clever idea shared by Shikha Kapoor on CAL, a good group I belong to on Facebook. I tried it and found it to be perfect!! It helped me solve several of my palak paneer problems at the same time! I loved it! Ever since, I have been using this recipe to make palak paneer. It is so easy, you can make palak paneer whenever you want in a jiffy!! Serve it with peas and carrot pulao rice and you will have restaurant style meal ready in minutes!

The idea is so: whenever you buy spinach or have excess of it, clean it and cook it with a little water, chopped onion , ginger,garlic, green chillies and tomato. When it cools down, purée it and freeze it. When you feel like eating palak paneer, you just prepare a tempering ( tadka) and add the purée, heat it and then add the pan fried paneer.You are all set! Now wasn't that easy peasy?? Try it and you will never go back to making palak paneer the regular way again!!

Servings: 4-6


Spinach( palak): 1 medium bunch
Onion: one medium
Tomato: one medium
Green chillies: 2
Ginger : one inch
Garlic: 3-4 cloves, chopped ,
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Onion: one small
Water: 1 cup
Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder/ haldi: 1/2 tsp
Salt: to taste
Kasuri methi( dry fenugreek leaves): 1 tbsp
Oil: 1 tbsp
Pan-fried paneer cubes:200 gms or 6 oz
Fresh Cream: 1 tbsp ( optional,for garnishing).


Wash and clean the spinach thoroughly. Chop it roughly. Take it in a pot. Add 1/2 cup water.Chop the onion, ginger, garlic,green chillies, tomato. Add this to the pot containing spinach and cook it until the spinach is tender, around 8-10 mins.

Let it cool down completely. At this point you can choose to store it in the fridge/ freezer in an airtight container or you could blend/ purée it using an immersion blender or in the regular blender and then freeze it.

Whenever you feel like having palak paneer, just take the purée out of the fridge/ freezer.

Make a tadka by heating oil on medium heat in a sauté pan. Add finely chopped onion and sauté for a few seconds until the onions turn slightly golden in color.

Now add haldi powder, red chilli powder, garam masala and sauté for a few seconds. 

Add the spinach purée and let it cook for 2 mins until it warms up. 

Add pan-fried paneer and kasoori methi to this. Let it cook for 5 mins so that the paneer can absorb some of the sauce. 

Garnish with fresh cream before serving.

Serve with plain rice or peas and carrots pulao like I have! For the recipe for the pulao, go here.

Enjoy! I am bringing this to Angie's Fiesta Friday #69! Juju@cooking with aunt Juju and Amanda@ The Chunky Chef are co-hosts this week!! Yay!!

Cooking made easy:

Similar tricks can be used while making Chana masala or Chole too. Just add chopped onion, ginger, garlic and tomato while cooking the chick peas and then just temper in with the spices. These are short-cuts to the traditional method of making these dishes which can be rather time consuming and tedious.

Tip for healthy living:

We all know that we must include greens in our diet. There are hundreds of health benefits of eating atleast 2-3 servings of greens daily. Spinach is one of the easiest greens to eat/cook.Some of the health benefits of green leafy vegetables is that they are rich in folate and help prevent anemia. They also are a great source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers.

Food for thought:

Patience is the art of hoping. Luc de Clapiers

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Instant appe/paniyaram with vegetables; Diabetes Friendly Thursday.

It is that time of the week again! It is time for Diabetes Friendly Thursday! All the lovely ladies are bringing  their appe ( Aebelskiver) pans out. We will be sharing with you a whole variety of delicious food recipes that can be cooked using the appe pan and are something that people with diabetes can enjoy as well.

Creating Recipes with a Cause!
I am a proud DFT blogger. 
To learn about DFT, read this link
To view more DFT recipes, Click here!

Did you know that appe pan has been a staple in South Indian homes. I have the traditional iron one too. Now a days we get non-stick ones in the market. We Mangaloreans call it appe or Appo  whereas in Kerala and Tamilnadu, they call it paniyaram. The traditional appe can be sweet or savory. The sweet appe are usually made as an offering to Lord Ganesha during certain religious days. This sweet appe is made using wheat, banana and jaggery. You can find the recipe here.Traditionally, the savory appe are made using leftover dosa or idli batter and is served with chutney. Now what does one do if one has no ready or leftover batter to make appe and you feel like eating appe? Well, do not fret. I am going to share with you a super-easy recipe for making instant appes without any kind of overnight fermentation!! How cool is that? It also is perfect for those days when you cannot think of what to make for breakfast. You can rustle this up instantly.The idea for this came from a recipe I happened to come across a few months ago, on Konkani Amchi Food, a food group that I belong to on Facebook.The recipe was shared by Garishma Ravi. I was intrigued. I tried it and liked it. I have modified her recipe to make it more wholesome by adding some vegetables in it. It is even more tastier now. You can sneak in vegetables to your kids without them even realizing! It is also perfect for tiffin or the lunchbox . Do try it and let me know your thoughts.

Servings: 3-4 ( serving size per person: 4 appes) ; makes about 14-16 appes.


Rice flour: 1 cup
Sooji( wheat farina): 1/2 cup
Plain yogurt: 1/2 cup
Baking soda: 1/2 tsp
Water: 1 cup .
Salt : to taste
Spring onion: 1 , chopped fine( optional)
Green chilli: 1 chopped fine ( optional)
Carrot: 1 small, grated ( optional)
Curry leaf: 1 sprig ( optional)
Fresh coconut pieces: 1 tsp ( optional)
Oil: for greasing the appe pan


Take all the able ingredients listed above except the oil and mix to make a nice thick batter. The consistency of the batter should be not too thin or not too thick.

Heat the appe pan. Grease it with oil. Using a tablespoon drop the batter into the appe pan.

Cover and cook until the batter changes color around 2-3 mins on low flame.

Flip the appe and cook from the other side for 2 mins.The appe should come off the pan easily to flip. Don't force them.

Serve hot with chutney. 

I have served them with my favorite ridge-gourd peel and pomegranate peel chutney. Both ridge gourd peel and pomegranate peel are great for digestion.


Cooking made easy:

These appe can be made even more healthier by making it with matta rice (red rice)powder. This is usually easily available in Kerala stores and some Indian stores and is known as puttu or idiappam podi.

Plain appe without vegetables with ridge gourd peel chutney

The appe are very versatile in the fact that you could use any or all of the vegetables that I have used or swap and use some other veggies or even make it without vegetables. I of course, like to make it with vegetables, but if you are in a rush, well skip them or better yet, make the batter and while you are waiting the 15 mins for the batter to ferment a little, chop the veggies that you wish to add and they can be added even at the very last minute just before putting the batter in the appe pan. I would recommend not waiting for too long once the veggies have been added as they tend to leave water and therefore make the batter thin.

Foot Notes (Tip for healthy living):

We all know the health benefits of eating vegetables. That is why it is essential to include them / sneak them everywhere possible! Carrots are a great source of vitamin A and are rich in fiber.
I have mentioned this before, carbohydrate per day is not the enemy for diabetics. It is which kind of carb and how much of it that is consumed that is the problem. Right amount of the right carbs are not harmful. 

I am not a nutritionist or dietitian. My knowledge and information is based on my research and reading from different resources. Please consult your doctor or dietitian before making any changes to your diet.

Do check out all these other wonderful recipes that you would never think of making using the appe pan!

Shailja's Ram Ladoo

2 Swati's Spinach Pakoda Kadhi

3 Anu's Quinoa Lentil veg paniyaram

4 Sri's Multigrain paniyaram

5 Apsara's Minty Falafel.

6 Prachi's Mixed lentil falafel koftas.

7 Chahat's Shaam Savera

8 Sonal's Vegetable Manchurian balls in hot garlic sauce.

Food for thought:

The first wealth is health. Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bhenda Sagle ( Okra/ ladies finger in spicy coconut sauce); Meatless Monday.

The amazing thing about Indian cuisine is the endless amount of meatless options! This is because majority of Indians don't eat red meat and most are vegetarians. Indian cuisine and culture is the perfect proof for the fact that people can survive and lead a full and healthy life by following a plant-based diet.

Okra is a favorite vegetable amongst Indians too. Where I come from which is Southern India, okra is long, around 10-12 cms. It is also lighter green in color and is never tough.I became familiar with the short okra only after leaving my hometown. Okra is known as Ladies finger in India. In Hindi language it is known a "Bhendi ". While there are several ways okra is prepared in India, the traditional way of preparing in the konkani community is by cooking it in a spicy coconut-based sauce. This dish is known as "Bhenda Sagle " and is a popular dish in the konkani community. It is not too spicy, has the flavors of coriander seeds and is gentle on the stomach. It goes great with any kind of rice. Last but not the least, it is quick, simple and easy to make.

Servings: 4-6


Okra/ ladies finger/bhendi: 250 gms or 8 oz
Freshly grated coconut: 2 cups
Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp
Dried red chillies: 3-4
Tamarind: marble-sized piece.
Water: 2 cups
Coconut Oil: 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste.

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



Roast the coriander seeds with 1/2 tsp oil until aromatic. Add the red chilies to it for a minute , roast a little and keep aside to cool.

Wash the okra and pat it dry completely using paper towels or kitchen towels. Then cut it into 1 inch size pieces.

Boil it with one cup water and salt until tender( around 5-8 mins). 

While the okra is cooking, in a blender,grind together the freshly grated coconut, red chillies, tamarind, and coriander seeds to a fine paste . Add water while grinding as needed.

Add the above paste to the cooked okra and bring it to a boil. Turn off the flame.

Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a pan.  Add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the curry leaves and turn off the flame.

Add this to the above pot.

Serve hot with rice.

Clockwise: White rice, dal, bhenda sagle, patrado, moong dal fry, cabbage -carrot stir fry.


Cooking made easy:

Okra is very slimy. Always wash okra before cutting it. Dry it completely to take away any moisture. Cook it with just enough water and don't overcook it. If overcooked, it disintegrates and you end up with a slimy mess.

Tip for healthy living:

Okra has several health benefits. It is a great source of dietary fiber preventing constipation and GI irregularities.

Food for thought:

We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated. Maya Angelou.