Chilled Cucumber Avacodo soup with mint and cilantro

We have had some really hot days of summer. Your body then craves some cooling foods like cucumber, yoghurt, kefir and lots of raw cooling vegetable salads. In this soup the airy cool cucumber is combined and balanced with the dense, velvety texture of Omega rich Avocado, a perfect marriage of colour, taste and texture !!!!  Off course the addition of cooling herbs like mint and cilantro is the cherry on the cake ( soup !!! ). Hope you will love this soup as much as my family did.

Ingredients

4  dill cucumbers peeled or a peeled large English cucumber

1 ripe avocado peeled and seed removed

1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro 

8-10 leaves of mint

salt to taste

1/2 jalepeno

3/4 cup of water

tabasco to taste

 

 photo 3 (1)

 

Method

1 .Blend  all the above ingredients except few leaves of mint and tabasco.

2. The soup will have some texture to it.

3. Chill for few hours and garnish with mint and serve.

4. Enjoy this beautiful, vibrant, refreshing delicious soup on a hot summer day.

Variation – you may add a dollop of greek yoghurt or natural home made yoghurt before serving.

Lambsquarter leaves Dip (raita) and Foraging

 Foraging used to be considered resourcefulness and a method of sustenance in earlier times but it is now a fashionable new thing to harvest wildly growing foods.The edible treasures that you can stumble upon ( wild garlic, morels, chick weed, lambsquarter etc.) can be quite delicious and off course the satisfaction in discovering these is a whole different story. It goes without saying that you should carefully identify these wild treasures because some do have nasty and toxic look alikes.

Last year I was surprised to find Lambsquarter plant in my backyard. I confirmed it with a gardener and voila it was edible lambsquarter plant, off course I was esctatic. Because these are  the greens that I craved when I was pregnant the first time ( the leaves are a nutrition powerhouse). The young  leaves are very tender and taste like spinach. It has a high content of minerals like Iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium etc. And yes this year I have lots growing in my backyard, it is a weed after all !!!

Well today I bring you my favourite raita or a dip made with these beautiful, amazing, delicious green leaves. Simple to make but looks beautiful and tastes amazing. Hope you will enjoy it as much as we do .

 

Ingredients

2 cups of home made yoghurt or store bought natural or greek yoghurt

2 cups of tender leaves of lamb’s quarters

1/4  tsp roasted cumin powder

a pinch cayenne pepper

salt to taste

photo 1 (2)

 

photo 2 (2)

photo 4 (3)

Method

1. Wash the leaves by soaking them in water few times and then draining the sandy water.

2. Heat 1/3 cup of water and add the leaves and cover.

3.Turn off the stove after 5-7 minutes and remove the lid. The leaves are very tender so cook very fast.

4. The leaves will be bright beautiful green once cooked. Use a hand blender or a small chopper to coarsely puree the cooked leaves.

5. Meanwhile use a whisk to whip the homemade yoghurt smooth. The store bought      yoghurts are generally smooth and even stirring them with a spoon take care of any lumps.

6. Add the pureed green leaves, mix well, yoghurt will now be a vibrant green colour.

7. Add salt, sprinkle with the cayenne pepper and the cumin powder and serve.

8. Serve with a pilaf, chips, vegetables, curries or like I do, have it by itself as it is a protein and iron rich dip perfect for a hot summer day. 

 

Minty Creamy Curried Paneer and Peas (or tofu ) with Almond butter

Sometimes when I am pressed for time and I have to prepare something that the whole family will love, I make peas and paneer dish. Traditionally in the restaurants they add cream and cashewnuts making it very rich in taste, texture and not to forget in Calories !!! 

Off course so when I make it, I try to make it as healthy as possible by including different greens. And to give it creamy texture I have added almond butter, voila now it is creamy without the cholestrol ( from the actual cream ) but it  will also provide good fats from the almonds thereby helping with good cholestrol. 

Generally cilantro is herb most commonly used herb in Indian cuisine but this time with surplus of aromatic mint in my yard I decided to use mint not as a garnish but used it generously so that it makes this generally dense heavy dish refreshing, light and aromatic and offcourse very summary.

Hope you will enjoy this dish as much as my family did.

Ingredients

1 lb. paneer or tofu cubed into 1′ pieces

1 1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas

1 small tomato

1 large red onion peeled

1′ piece of ginger

1 tbsp. almond butter

2 cloves of garlic

2 green chillies

1 tbsp. oil or ghee

3/4 cup of mint leaves

1/2 cup strained tomato puree  

1/2 tsp. nigella seeds

1/2 tsp. turmeric 

1/2 tsp. red chilli powder

salt to taste

 

 

photo 2

METHOD

 

1. In a chopper chop green chillies, onion, ginger and garlic. It should be very finely chopped, have texture and not ground into a paste.

2. Heat the ghee in a heavy bottom pan add Nigella seeds and saute’ the above mixture till fragrant and translucent ( 4-5 min. on medium heat).

3. Now add peas and cook for 7-8 min. you may add a little water if the mixture starts to stick to the pan. Add the turmeric and red chilli powder.

4. In the same chopper finely chop the mint leaves, put aside.

5. In a mixer or the same chopper blend the tomato, almond butter and the tomato puree.

6. Once the peas are softened add tomato, almond mixture and let the curry heat thoroughly. If it is too thick add 1/4 cup of water. You may add salt now.

7.Add cubed paneer at this stage so it can soak up the different flavours.

8. After few minutes add the mint leaves and mix well and turn off the stove and allow the cool refreshing minty flavour to permeate into the peas and paneer.

9.Serve steaming hot with naan bread, chapatis or rice. Enjoy !!!

Hawaii Gold Ripe Minty Papaya Salad

 ALOHA !!!  Its been a long time since I connected with you all. I spent last week in Hawaii with my family enjoying the warm beautiful weather and wonderful and warmer Hawaiian people. And yes who can forget the lip smacking delicious tropical fruits and vegetables. I was not only tempted to try all these delicious, flavourful foods but wanted to experiment with these foods while there. The recipe today is the first one of the few that I tried making there. Off course we will not find the rich golden Hawaiian papaya here but the other locally available papayas will be good substitutes. Hope you will enjoy this as much as we all did.

 

Ingredients

1 Hawaii gold ripe papaya

3-4 tbsp. chopped mint

1 jalepeno finely chopped

freshly ground black pepper

a pinch rock salt to taste

 

IMG_0691

METHOD

1. Peel and cut the papaya into small cubes after removing the seeds.

2. Add the remaining ingredients, toss carefully so tht papaya  does not get  mushy  and serve on a bed of greens.

3. Enjoy this refreshing sweet  delicious dessert any time of the day.

 

 

 

Quinoa spinach tortilla / paratha Easy breezy gluten free and a true GREENS + GRAINS offering

 So guys here it is because of the phenomenal number of views for the quinoa chapati recipe, another variation for the same but this time with spinach making it healthier and Greeener!!!! Truely a  ” green grain ” recipe. A meal in itself you will find the results of this cooking endeavour lip smacking delicious, and yes you can subsitute quinoa flour with wheat !!!

    INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup quinoa flour

  •  water ( add slowly till the dough starts to come together and then forms into a smooth ball)
  • 1 tbsp. amaranth
  • little quinoa flour or even arrowroot flour to roll the chapatis
  • Little ghee or butter to apply on the chapatis and also knead the dough
  • 2 – 3 cups of spinach 
  • 1′ piece of peeled ginger
  • 1 green chilli
  • salt to taste

Tools

  • Rolling pin
  • Marble or wooden board
  • Cast iron or non stick skillet

 

photo 1 (6)

 

photo 3 (5)

Method

  1. Mix the salt into the flour.
  2. In a blender without using any additional ( spinach is anyway very moist and when you wash it, it tends to hold more water ) try to grind or puree the spinach with ginger and the green chilli. put aside
  3. Now slowly add the pureed spinach and knead the dough. You may add a tbsp. oil so that the chapati/ paratha are soft.
  4. Soon the dough starts to take shape and come together, as the quinoa flour is sticky compared to wheat flour, lot of dough will be sticking to your hands.
  5. At this stage use a little oil to grease your palm and knead the dough, this will help some dough to come off your palm. For the remaining dough sticking on to your palm use a butter knife to scrape it.
  6. Now use a little more oil and the knead the dough a little more and form it into a smooth glistening ball .Do not leave the dough for more than 10-15 minutes as the moisture from  makes it wet and sticky. (if that happens use some dry flour to soak up the extra moisture)
  7. Divide this dough into 6 – 8 balls of equal size. Meanwhile heat a seasoned cast iron griddle or nonstick skillet.
  8. Roll the ball between both your palms and make a smooth ball.
  9. Roll the ball in dry flour and with a rolling pin carefully roll it out an inch or two and carefully peel it off the board and roll it in the dry flour again. Use a spatula to peel it off the board as it may break  but wil get better with practice.
  10. Carefully continue to roll and repeat the above step till you have a circle of 4-5 inch in diameter ( with practice you can make a bigger circle without it breaking apart ) of even thickness.
  11. Carefully peel it off the board and place it on the heated skillet on medium heat.
  12. This spinach tortilla / paratha will be thicker than the chapati and WILL take few minutes longer to cook because of its thickness but believe me the result justifies the time spent!!!
  13. Use a paper towel or a clean dish towel to press the thicker edges so that they are well cooked.
  14. Turn it few times at regular intervals, apply little ghee on both sides and press the edges so that there are no uncooked areas left, also ensuring that it does not become crisp and stays soft. You will see nice brown spots now and rest of the paratha with a golden hue.
  15. Do not let these instructions overwhelm you, with practice you wil get finger licking results!!! Patience has never had a sweeter reward or should I say SAVOURY reward!!!!
  16. Brush the tortilla with little ghee on both sides wrap it in clean cheese cloth and keep in a covered glass dish or steel container so that they stay soft.
  17. Serve with plain yoghurt spiced with black pepper and ground roasted cumin powder and ENJOY!!!!

CURRIED DELICIOUS SCRAMBLED TOFU OR PANEER with MORINGA leaves

Hello everybody, we all thought spring was here for good and the fresh green leaves of sorrel and shoots of organic garlic was a sight to behold but the pleasure was short lived as we had temperatures of – 11 degrees Celsius and freezing rain. Well can’t let that dampen our spirits, and it will soon be spring ( hopefully !!!! )

You know I love to use different leafy greens in my cooking, no greens no life !! that is my philosphy. sometimes when I am pressed for time I like to whip up quickly Scrambled Paneer ( Indian cottage cheese) / Tofu dish. It is quick, easy and extremely nutritious and off course not to forget a family favourite. I generally use of lots of cilantro and fenugreek leaves but this time I have used fresh moringa leaves which are not just  healthy but a powerhouse of nutrition. The tree because of its different and varied uses and superfood properties is popularly known as Tree of life. 

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 12.51.54 AM

 This vegetable is also called the tree of life because it has life sustaining properties, grows even in drought prone areas. These leaves are not difficult to separate from the stems, though it would take 15- 20 minutes to remove the twigs from the leaves. Growing up I remember my mother talking about these leaves. We ate the flowers, the pods (drumsticks) but not the leaves (which are also readily available). These leaves are available in Sri Lankan stores in North America.They look like Methi(fenugreek leaves ) but are not bitter and are lot more coarse in texture than spinach and methi.
So please do not feel overwhelmed by this vegetable. Get out of the comfort zone of the familiar and ordinary and try something new!!!

DSC_0280

 

 

DSC_0282

 

 Ingredients

1 lb. of paneer or firm tofu

2 cups of moringa leaves cleaned and finely chopped ( may subsitute with chopped spinach, aragula,watercress)

1 medium sized red onion finely chopped

1 tomato finely chopped

1/2 tsp.turmeric powder or curry powder

1/2 tsp. red chilli powder or cayenne pepper

1 tbsp. of oil or ghee

salt to taste

 

Method

1. Saute’ the onion and chopped moringa leaves  in heated oil for few minutes till onion is  translucent and the greens are glistening ( 4 – 5 minutes ).

2. Add the finely chopped tomato to it and wait few minutes for the tomato to be cooked .

3. Meanwhile crumble the paneer or tofu  with your hand making sure no big pieces remain.

4. Add the turmeric and the red chilli powder and salt to the onion mix well and then add the crumbled panner . Mix well and cook on medium heat for 10 – 12 minutes till the flavours of different ingredients have blended and the paneer is cooked through ( does not need to browned ).

5. Enjoy !!! Serve with chapati or use as a filling for a wrap.

 

 

Image

Fermented Savoury Protein rich Vegetable pancakes

 Spring is finally here, birds are chirping and the tender fresh plant life breaks through the freshly thawed ground. And yes not to forget the spring in our steps!!! Our bodies crave the lighter foods following instinctively the change in seasons.

The pancake that I have made today is made of lentils but tradionally not fermented. It is a great alternative for people wanting to avoid grains and eat high protein foods. Fermenting the batter makes it probiotic rich and also the taste has more depth and character to it. 

The  foods which have been fermented naturally, the natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch creating lactic acid and also in the process creating B- vitamins, beneficial enzymes and different strains of beneficial bacteria.

This process also makes food more digestible and preserves nutrient.    Studies have also shown not just better digestibility of fermented foods but also immune boosting properties of these foods. 

Enjoy this delicious, finger licking savoury pancake.

Ingredients

1 cup red lentils or yellow lentils rinsed and soaked in a 1 1/2 cup of water for 6 – 8 hours

1 onion finely chopped

1 tomato finely chopped

3 – 4 tbsp. cilantro finely chopped

optional 1/2 cup finely chopped spinach or chard

1 green chilli or jalepeno finely chopped

1 ” piece of ginger

salt to taste

2 – 3 tbsp. of oil or ghee

Method

1. Thoroughly rinse the lentils few times till the water loses its milkiness.

2. Soak the lentils in water ( the quantity of water should be little more than the lentils so that lentils have enough water to soak in) for 6 – 8 hours.

3. Now grind the lentils with chill and ginger.

4. You should now have a thick, smooth and velvety textured batter.

5. Pour this batter in a big glass container or a mixing bowl and keep in a pre warmed ( not heated !!! ) oven overnight for 10 – 12 hours.

6. The bowl should be large enough so that there is rooom for the batter to rise which it will in warm tempererature ( with all the bacteria multiplying multiple times!!!)

7. Heat the oven at  375 degrees F for 3- 4 minutes and turn it off. Keep the batter in the heated oven and also turn on the pilot light at this time.

8. After keeping it overnight for 8- 10 hours you will see the batter would have risen to at least double  its volume and be very airy and bubbly.

9. Mix all the vegetables into the batter, the consistency of this batter is thicker than those of crepes.

10. Heat the cast iron skillet or a non stick pan.

11.Take a ladle full of batter and spread onto the heated skillet adding little ghee all around on the sides and cover with a lid.

12. After a minute the pancake will lose its raw look or sheen and then flip onto the other side.

13. Do not put the lid now and let this side of the pancake become golden and crisp.

14.Continue making like this .

15. Once done serve  hot with a relish or a green chutney or a dip.

16. Enjoy this protein rich, satisfying pancake anytime of the day. Serve with a salad and a dip for a complete meal.  

 

photo 2 (6)

 

photo 3 (2)

photo 4 (1)

 

photo 3 (3)