Monday, February 20, 2017

Mint-Cilantro/Coriander-Coconut Chutney

Mint-Cilantro chutney is one of my favorite chutneys! It is a go-to accompaniment for must appetizers, be it kebabs, pakoras or bhajias! It is also great with almost all kinds of dosas & idlis. It is a perfect amalgamation of the fragrance and flavors of both herbs. This chutney can be made with or without coconut. 

I like to make it with coconut as it adds bulk to the chutney. When I make it with coconut, I usually do not use garlic or onion in it. I only use ginger and green chilies to spice it up. For the version without coconut, click here.

Servings: 10

Prep time: 15 minsCook time: 0Total time: 15 mins


Cilantro: 1/2 bunch, leaves separated from the stems & cleaned, stems discarded.
Mint: 1/2 bunch, leaves separated from the stems & cleaned, stems discarded.
Freshly grated coconut: 1 cup
Green chillies: 2-3 small, can be adjusted based on individual spice level.
Fresh ginger: 1 inch, peeled.
Tamarind: if dry marble sized. If using the pulp, 1/4 tsp.
Salt: as per taste
Water: 1/2 cup

Tempering: ( optional)

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


In a blender, add all the above ingredients except cilantro and mint and grind them.When coconut is almost ground to a fine paste, add the cilantro & mint leaves and blend it to a fine paste.
You could add a little more water while grinding as needed as per your desired consistency of the chutney.

Tempering ( optional):

Heat coconut oil in a small frying pan. Add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add curry leaves and turn off the flame.
Add this tempering to the chutney.

This chutney could be served with samosas,rotis, fritters, rotisserie chicken, kebabs etc. It could also be used in sandwiches.


Cooking made easy:

It is a great idea to make this chutney and keep it in your freezer to use as needed. This chutney is not only a great as a dip but is also a great base for vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and pulao and biryanis.

Tip for healthy living:

Herbs have plenty of medicinal value. It is an established fact that mint is a great digestive aid.

Food for thought:

Genius is the ability to renew one's emotions in daily experience. Paul Cezanne

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Beeting Heart Quinoa Salad; Vegan; Meatless Monday

When I was browsing my local newspaper the other day, I came across this salad recipe that had roasted beets cut into heart-shapes! I just fell in love with the look of it! I cook beets regularly in the form of stir-fry, salad, sauté etc. I have never roasted them! I roasted them this time and I wondered to myself: why didn't I ever think of roasting them before??? I like the roasted beets. The original salad recipe was using salad greens as the base. I didn't have salad greens handy and wanted to make something more filling and nutritious, hence decided to make it a quinoa-beet salad. I also tried this dressing which was so unlike any dressing I have made until now. I was fearful at the beginning, but in the end it was totally worthwhile! The original recipe calls for shallots to be sautéed and then ground with grape seed  oil, champagne vinegar & mustard .  I didn't have some of those ingredients, so I modified the recipe by substituting shallots with white onion and champagne vinegar with red wine vinegar. Instead of grapeseed oil, I used extra virgin olive oil. I also added 1 green chilli while blending to give the dressing a spicy kick! This dressing has a nice creaminess to it without the calories!

You can also serve this salad on a bed of baby greens.
Do try this salad if you guys get a chance. I am sure you will like it!

Servings: 4-6

Prep time: 15-20 minsCook time: 15-20 minsTotal time: 30-40 mins

Ingredients :

For the quinoa salad:

Quinoa: 1 cup, uncooked
Water: 2 cups
Salt: a pinch
Cucumber: 1, medium-sized
Cherry tomatoes: 10, sliced into halves,
Walnuts: 1/4 cup, toasted
Scallions: 1, chopped fine.

For the beets:
Beets: 3 medium-sized one
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Salt: to sprinkle lightly

For the Marinade:

Olive oil: 1 tbsp+ 1/4 cup
White Onion: 1, medium ( around 1 cup, chopped)
Red wine vinegar: 3 tbsp
Dijon mustard: 1 tbsp
Green chilli: 1
Sugar: 1 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp


Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.
Peel and slice the beets and arrange them on a greased baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil and salt on the slices. Keep the tray on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30-40 mins or until the beets are tender.

Let the beets cool down. Once they are cool enough to handle, using a heart- shaped cookie cutter, cut the beets into heart-shaped. Keep it aside. Chop the remaining scraps of beets and keep aside.

While the beets are cooking, make the quinoa.
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 cup washed quinoa. Reduce the flame to low, cover the saucepan and let it cook for 15mins. When done all the water should be gone and you should see small curly strands on the quinoa. Fluff it with a fork/ spoon and keep aside to cool.

When the quinoa is cooking, chop the cucumber, scallion and slice the tomatoes. Add the vegetables to a bowl. When the quinoa is cooked & cooled well, add it to be bowl. Keep aside.

For the marinade:

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Sauté chopped onions until transparent. Turn off the flame and let it cool. Grind it with all the ingredients listed under " for the marinade". Keep aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling the salad:

Add the desired amount of the dressing to the bowl with quinoa and veggies. Mix well. Add the roasted walnut pieces.

Serve  on salad plates. Top with beet hearts!

You can serve this salad on a bed of salad greens.


Cooking made easy:

You can use the leftover roasted beet scraps in the salad by chopping it and mixing it. You can modify this salad by using ingredients that you have on hand.

Tip for healthy living:

All the ingredients in this salad are healthy and nutrient-rich.
Quinoa is a good source of protein. Beets have multiple benefits.

Food for thought:

Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination. Voltaire

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Quick Vegetarian Puffs

How many of you remember your childhood buying freshly made puffs from your local bakery? I am always nostalgic when I think of the puffs: piping hot, crispy flaky puffs stuffed with vegetables/eggs/chicken/ meat. I used to love to bite into the crispy layers. Truthfully, I was never too crazy about the filling. It is the outer covering that would always tempt me. To this day, I enjoy the crispy flaky layers of the puff. I have always wanted to make it at home, but I never have that kind of time to make elaborate stuff. Then I came across these puff pastry squares in the freezer section at my local grocery store. I made vegetable and egg puffs using those squares and they took me back to my childhood.  Since then, I am hooked!! Now I have a constant supply of these puff pastry sheets in my freezer!

They are super easy and quick to make!! My husband loved them! My neighbor loved the puffs and so did all my friends! These puffs are a perfect solution for unexpected guests and also for get-togethers and parties like the Super Bowl this weekend! You can make the filling ahead of time. You can even stuff the pastry sheets and keep ready. All you have to do is stick it in the oven once your guests arrive or when you are almost ready to serve!! You will be hooked too!!

To make the puff pastry sheet from scratch click here for the recipe. Remember, home-made is much healthier than store-bought ones! This recipe is just a hack for people who don't have time!!

So, are you game-day ready??

Servings: makes 10 puffs

Prep time: 15-20 minsCook time: 10-15 minsTotal time: 30-35 mins


Pastry squares 5x5 inches: 10 numbers
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp ( Any cooking oil may be used).
Onion: 1 diced fine.
Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp
Green chilies: 2
Tomato: 1 medium
Red chili powder: 1/2tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
Potato: 1 medium, boiled, peeled and diced.
Mixed vegetables: 2 cups ( I used frozen vegetable mix of peas, carrots & green beans)
Salt: to taste
Coriander leaves, chopped: 1 tbsp
Milk: 1/4 cup, for brushing; may not need all.


Thaw the pastry sheets by keeping it at room temperature and keep ready.

While the pastry sheets are thawing, get the filling ready.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a sauté pan or wok. Add the diced onion and ginger garlic paste. Sauté until the onion is lightly golden in color.

Add the chopped green chilies and chopped tomato. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
Now add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala powder. Sauté for 30 seconds.

Add the frozen vegetables, salt and let it cook for 5 mins or until the vegetables reach the desired tenderness.

Add the diced potatoes. Mix well. Let it cook for a minute or two until it all comes together.
Add chopped cilantro. Turn off the flame and keep aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Take a pastry square. 

Lay it flat on a plate/cutting board. Place 1-2 tbsp of the vegetable mixture on one side of the square.
Fold the square so that the ends are touching.
Press the edges together so that the pocket is sealed as shown in the picture. Keep the prepared sealed pockets/ puffs on a baking sheet.
Do the same with the remaining pastry sheets.

Keep all the prepared puffs on the baking sheet.

Brush the tops of all the prepared puffs with milk.

Place the baking tray on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the puffs look nice and crisp.

Best when served immediately.


Cooking made easy:

If you are not a pure vegetarian, you can beat an egg and brush the top of the puffs with the beaten egg. This gives your a better sheen when baked.

You can tansform these puffs into egg puffs, chicken or meat puffs.

To transform it into egg puff, while making the above filling, stop at the point where you add the vegetables and instead add boiled eggs that have been sliced into two halves.

For chicken puffs,  add shredded chicken or small bite size pieces of chicken and cook the mixture until the chicken is cooked well.

For meat puffs, add ground meat instead of vegetables and cook it thoroughly.

Tip for healthy living:

When you make food like these puffs from ready made puff pastry, limit your intake to just one. The puff pastries in general and especially store-bought one are high in calories due to the amount  of butter in it. Remember, home-made is anyway better than store-bought puff pastry sheets!

Food for thought :

On can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar. Hellen Keller

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Vegetarian Lasagna Roll-ups

Hello Everyone!!

Happy Friday! I am super-excited as I am co-hosting Angie's Fiesta Friday this week! My other co-host is the very talented Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower. Check out her blog for all the delicious recipes! Also, come join the Fiesta Friday and showcase your talent if you have not partied there before! It is one of my absolutely favorite things to do on Fridays!

How many of you are familiar with Lasagna?? Almost all of you?? How many of you hate making it because of the amount of work it entails?? Well, I have to admit that I am one of them too.. Would it make you happy if I showed you something easier to make and serve that is absolutely delicious!

Now how many of you have heard of Lasagna Roll-Ups?? Not too many of you? Well, this is a very easy dish to make that uses the same ingredients as lasagna. It can be prepped ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator or freezer and popped into the oven slightly before your guests arrive!

This is a dish that can be served as a main dish or an appetizer. This is something that would be perfect for the Super Bowl party! These are little bites that are filling! You could make this using the regular pasta sheets or the oven-ready pasta sheets. I have made it healthier by making it vegetarian and using low fat ricotta cheese and low fat mozzarella. This has in no way compromised the taste. It is still hearty and delicious!!

This recipe has been modified from Ree Drummond's Recipe. You can check the original recipe here.

Servings: makes 12 roll-ups (about 6-8 servings)

Prep time: 20-30 minsCook time: 30-45 minsTotal time: 50- 75 mins


Lasagna sheets : 1 packet ( I used oven ready sheets)
Water: to cook the lasagna sheets
Salt: 1 tsp
Olive oil: 1 tsp
Grated Mozzarella cheese: 2 cups

For the red sauce:

Pasta sauce: 1 jar  ( 
 24 oz, Any good quality)
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Diced Bell peppers, different colors: 2 cups .
Onion: 1 large, diced
Garlic: 3-4 cloves, chopped fine & crushed.
Italian herbs, dry: 1 tsp
Sriracha/ hot sauce: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Black pepper: 1/4 tsp

For the cheese stuffing

Ricotta cheese ( low fat): 1 jar ( 32 oz)
Egg: 1 large ( optional)
Italian herbs, dried : 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Black pepper: 1/2 tsp, freshly ground.


Boil water in a large pot. Add salt, olive oil and lasagna sheets. Boil for 10 mins or until aldente. Remove the pasta sheets and arrange them on a baking sheet in such a way that they do not stick to each other. Keep aside.

While the water for the pasta is boiling, prepare the red sauce ( tomato sauce mixture).
In a wok or saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add crushed, chopped garlic. Sauté until fragrant. Add the diced onion. Sauté until the onion starts to sweat and wilt.

Add the diced bell peppers. Sauté for 2 mins. Add the tomato sauce, hot sauce, Italian herbs, salt and sugar. Simmer and let it boil for 5 mins. Turn off the flame and keep aside.

While the tomato sauce is simmering and the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese mixture. In a bowl, take the ricotta cheese, egg, herbs, salt, pepper and mix together. Mix well using a spoon.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F or 180 deg Celsius.

Take a 13x9 dish. Spread a little tomato sauce mixture on the bottom of the dish.

Take a pasta sheet. Spread 2 tbsp of the cheese mixture on side of the pasta sheet as shown in the picture.

Now roll it into a tight roll as shown in the picture. Place the roll seam side down in the prepared pan.

Do the same with all the 12 pasta sheets.

Now pour the remaining tomato sauce mixture on top of the rolls and cover the rolls.

Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese on top evenly.

Place it on the middle rack of the oven. Bake at 350 deg F for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the pan is bubbly.

Serve hot.


Cooking made easy:

To prevent the cheese from getting brown, bake with the tray covered for the first 15 mins and uncovered for the last 15 mins.

Tip for healthy living:

Converting a non-vegetarian dish into a vegetarian dish automatically makes it healthier due to the lower fat and calorie content. Using low fat cheese instead of whole milk cheese further reduces the calorie content of the meal. These kinds of hacks makes it possible to enjoy a meal without feeling depraved!!

Food for thought:

Too clever is dumb. Ogden Nash

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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