BAKED BROCCOLI WITH CHEESE




BAKED BROCCOLI WITH CHEESE

I made this recipe from Jean Carper’s “Complete Healthy Cookbook.” The original recipe had cauliflower, and only eggs, cheese, and bread crumbs but I tweaked it a little bit by using broccoli instead of cauliflower and adding some chili powder and ginger-garlic paste along with the cheese. The result was so tasty. This can go as a healthy starter for any party. I have used bread crumbs from whole wheat bread in this case. No oil is used here; the only fat present is from the egg. Here goes the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:
Broccoli, 1 big head.
Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons.
Eggs, 2.
Bread crumbs, 1 cup.
Ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon.
Chili powder, 1 teaspoon.
Salt as per taste.

PREPARATION:
Wash the broccoli and cut it into small florets. Take a plate and put the bread crumbs on to the plate. Mix the bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon chili powder and keep aside. Take a bowl and break 2 eggs into the bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste, 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of salt to the eggs and beat everything well. Take a baking dish and spray it some oil. Take a broccoli floret and immerse it in the egg mixture. Then take the floret and coat it with the bread crumb mixture and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat the same procedure with the remaining florets. Bake them at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until they turn golden-brown and crispy. Serve hot with tomato sauce.

SOYA GRAVY




SOYA GRAVY
Recently we decided to have rotis for lunch at least thrice a week, so I am always on the look for side dish varieties to go with rotis. I keep alternating with plain vegetables one day and any masala dish the other day. This is one such recipe. I learnt it from Aval Vikatan magazine when we were staying in Hyderabad. My husband never liked soya granules but he liked this specific dish very much. Now-a-days, we have this regularly with rotis. Here goes the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:
Soya nuggets, 1 cup.
Onions, 2.
Tomato 1.
Ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon.
Fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon.
Cloves, 2.
Cinnamon, 1 small stick.
Red chilies, 3-4.
Coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon.
Curry leaves for garnishing.
Salt as per taste.

PREPARATION:
Take a cup of soy nuggets and put them in boiling water for 2 minutes until the nuggets are puffed up. Let them sit for 5 minutes, then rinse them well, drain them, and cut into very fine pieces or they can be minced well using a blender. Take care not to make them into a paste, just one or two pulses in the blender will be fine. Chop the onions and tomato into small pieces. Heat a pan with 2 teaspoons of oil. When the oil is hot enough, put the fennel seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, red chilies, coriander seeds and let them fry for a minute until good smell comes from the spices. Then add the chopped onions, tomato, ginger-garlic paste and sauté them along with the spices for a few minutes until the onions turn brown, then switch off the stove and let them cool. When the mixture is cool enough, grind it into smooth paste. In the same pan, add another teaspoon of oil, add the ground paste and fry for a minute. Then add the minced soya nuggets, some salt to taste with ½ cup of water and cook closed under medium flame for 10 minutes until it turns thicker into a gravy consistency. Garnish with curry leaves and serve hot with rotis.

KOTHSU




KOTHSU
Kothsu is a typical Tamil Nadu dish, I think it is from Chidambaram district. Kathrikai (eggplant) kothsu is a famous dish in Tamil Nadu. This is a healthy dish since it is made with 3 types of dhals and vegetables. I started making this after hearing about it from a friend in Hyderabad. She usually adds all types of vegetables in it. I too prepare it the same way. Recently I started adding frozen corn and peas in the kothsu to boost up its fiber content. This can go as a side dish for idlis, dosas, appams etc.

INGREDIENTS:
Toor dhal, ¼ cup.
Channa dhal, ¼ cup.
Moong dhal, ¼ cup.
Red onion, medium-sized, 1.
Tomatoes, small, 2.
Green chili, 1.
Cabbage, carrots, green beans, cauliflower all coming around 1 cup when cut.
Frozen peas and corn taken together, ½ cup.
Garlic, 2 cloves.
Chili powder, 1 teaspoon.
Coriander powder, 2 teaspoons.
Sambar powder, 1 teaspoon.
Salt as per taste.
Cilantro and curry leaves for garnishing.
Mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon.
Cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon.

PREPARATION:
Wash the dhals together and cook them for up to 3 whistles in a pressure cooker. Dice the onion and tomatoes and slit the green chili into two and keep aside. Chop all the other vegetables and crush the garlic coarsely. Heat a pan with a teaspoon of oil. When the oil is hot enough, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the cumin seeds and fry for 20 seconds. Now add the diced onion, tomatoes, green chili, crushed garlic and sauté everything for 2-3 minutes. Then add the chopped cabbage, green beans, carrot, cauliflower, frozen peas and corn and sauté everything together for another 2 minutes. Then add the cooked dhals, and add 1 cup of water, chili powder, coriander powder, sambar powder, salt and cook closed under medium flame for 10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and the dhal reaches the desired consistency. Switch off the stove and garnish with cilantro and curry leaves and serve hot with idlis, dosas, or appams.

BAKED SOMAS


BAKED SOMAS
My husband loves somas. This crispy deep-fried snack is such a treat during Diwali. As a kid, I grew up watching my grandmother making this before Diwali sitting in front of a big kadai for deep frying murukkus, athirsams, and somas. We used to scamper around her for treats. After coming to US, Diwali is a very simple occasion, especially if it comes during weekdays. I got the idea for baking somas instead of deep frying after seeing it from Food Network. These baked somas taste so good. There was no difference in the taste as to compared with the deep-fried one. In fact, these were crispier and stayed crisp for days. Here goes the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:
FOR THE FILLING:
Rava or cream of wheat, 1 cup.
Shredded coconut or coconut powder, ½ cup.
Sugar, 1 cup.
Cashews, a handful.
Cardamom powder, 1 teaspoon.
Unsalted butter or ghee, 1 tablespoon.

FOR THE SOMAS:
All purpose flour, 1-/1/2 cup.
Water, ½ cup.
Oil, 1 tablespoon.
Salt for the dough.
Melted butter, 2 tablespoons.

PROCEDURE:
Take the all purpose flour in a basin and add some salt and mix well. Then add water and oil and knead it into a tight dough just like the dough used for making puris. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for half-an-hour.

Take a pan and heat a tablespoon of unsalted butter. When the butter melts, add the cream of wheat and fry for a minute under medium-to-low flame taking care not the burn it. Then add the shredded coconut, cashews, and cardamom powder and fry everything for another 2 minutes. Now add the sugar and keep stirring everything together until the sugar melts with the mixture. Switch off the stove and set it aside.

Take the kneaded dough and make small balls of dough from it. The balls should the size of a small lemon. Roll the ball into the thin circles. Take a spoonful of the filling and put in the centre of the rolled dough. Moisten the fingertips with some water and rub the ends of the circle and close the rolled dough and fold the dough into half pressing the edges with a fork. Repeat the same with the remaining dough.

Take a baking sheet and spray it with some cooking oil. Place the somas on the baking sheet not arranging them too close and baste them with some melted unsalted butter. Bake them for 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Check them after 15 minutes. If they have reached the desired golden-brown color, they can be taken from the oven right away or else leave them for another 5 minutes. Allow them to cool for 15 minutes and then enjoy.

SLOW-COOKED RED BEANS CURRY


SLOW-COOKED RED BEANS CURRY
I try to add beans in my cooking at least twice a week because of its health benefits. This red bean curry is a variation from the usual one. I made this curry for weekend lunch to go with sambar and rice. It can also be made as a side dish for rotis. I prefer to make it during weekends since it is slow cooked. When I tried to pressure cook red beans, the beans were not that soft though they were cooked for a long time. Slow cooking red beans adds a great flavor to the curry with the onions and tomatoes dissolving into the curry giving a great sauce. I sort of made a dry curry for rice today but it can also be made into a gravy. I did not add any masala powders for this, just a few crushed fennel seeds for taste.

INGREDIENTS:
Red beans, 1 cup, soaked overnight for at least 12 hours.
Red onions, medium sized, 2.
Tomato 1.
Chili powder, 2 teaspoons.
Coriander powder, 2 teaspoon.
Ginger-garlic paste.
Fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon.
Curry leaves for seasoning.
Salt as per taste.

PREPARATION:
Chop the onions and tomato into small pieces. Crush the fennel seeds coarsely with a mortar and pestle. Take a deep-bottomed pan and heat some oil in it. When the oil is hot enough, add the chopped onions and tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the ginger-garlic paste, a few curry leaves and sauté for another minute. Now add the chili powder, coriander powder, crushed fennel seeds, salt and fry everything for 2 minutes until the raw smell from the spices go. Then add the soaked red beans with 2-1/2 cups of water and mix everything well. Cook closed under medium flame for 1 hour until the beans are tender. Switch off the stove when the desired consistency is attained, either gravy or dry curry. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice or rotis.

MICROWAVE PONGAL




MICROWAVE PONGAL
I started preparing pongal after coming to US only. While we were in Hyderabad, I was still in the process of learning cooking, usually testing all my preparations on my guinea pig (my hubby) and I was a total failure with pongal. In US, I started preparing pongal by using the microwave and it came out so well during the first time itself and since then there was no going back. All our friends who tasted this loved this dish. I find this method much easier than the traditional method; just cook the rice and dhal together and add the seasonings. Recently I started substituting low-fat butter instead of ghee for health reasons though the taste is still good.

INGREDIENTS:
Raw rice, 1 cup.
Moong dhal, ½ cup.
Peppercorns, 1 tablespoon.
Cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon.
Curry leaves, a handful.
Ginger, 1 small piece.
Green chili, 1 (optional).
Any cooking oil, 1 tablespoon.
Low-fat butter (or) ghee, 1-1/2 tablespoon.
Salt as per taste.

PREPARATION:
Wash the rice and dhal together. Put them in a microwave rice cooker, add 2-1/4 cups of water with salt according to taste and cook for 14-15 minutes depending upon the power level of the microwave. Meanwhile, chop the ginger into fine pieces and slit the chili into 2 and keep aside. Heat a small pan with a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot enough, add the peppercorns, cumin seeds and fry then for a minute until good smell comes from the peppers and cumin. Then add the chopped ginger, curry leaves, and chili and fry everything for another minute and turn off the stove. When the rice and dhal are cooked, pour the seasonings over the pongal, add 1-1/2 tablespoon of low-fat butter and mix everything well. If the rice still appears whole, mash the rice with a spatula until everything is well blended to a pongal consistency. If needed, some more ghee or butter can be added. Serve hot with coconut chutney and sambar.

NOTE: Once the pongal gets cooled it hardens up and becomes a bit tight. It can be reheated for 1-2 minutes in the microwave before serving and it comes back to its original consistency after reheating. Some cashews can also be added for seasoning.

BITTER GOURD CRISPS


BITTER GOURD CRISPS
I had these crispy bitter gourd pakoras in Pondicherry which my FIL bought from a nearby bajji shop. Instead of making pakoras, I tried to keep the bitter gourd slices whole using less flour and this came out crispy and tasty too. The bitterness of the bitter gourd was very less. I used only besan here to keep up its low-carb value (yeah I know it is a deep-fried dish, but at least the vegetable is a healthy one and the carb value is also less here). If needed some rice flour or whole purpose flour can also be added for additional taste.

INGREDIENTS:
Bitter gourd, medium-sized, 1.
Besan, 2 tablespoons.
Chili powder, 1 teaspoon.
Salt as per taste.
Baking soda, 1 pinch, (optional).
Oil, 1 cup.

PREPARATION:
Cut the bitter gourd into small thin slices. Take the sliced bitter gourd pieces in a basin and add besan, salt, chili powder, baking soda and mix everything well. A few drops of water can also be added if the mixture is too powdery. The besan should be wet enough to just coat the bitter gourd slices partially. Heat a cup of oil in a pot. When the oil is hot enough, add the bitter gourd slices one by one to the hot oil. The bitter gourd slices start coming up as they get cooked. When they turn golden-brown, remove the slices from the oil and drain them on a paper towel. They can be had as a side dish for rice or even as a snack by itself.

GOING GREEN - SPINACH CHAPATHI




SPINACH CHAPATHI
The inspiration for this chapathi was the colored tortillas from the supermarkets. They looked so appetizing but I prefer homemade chapathis for lunch, thus came the idea. I found that more spinach can be added to the dough this way than just chopping the spinach and making rotis. The spinach taste was not so overpowering here. The taste was just like ordinary chapathis with just a little bit of spinach.

INGREDIENTS:
Whole wheat flour, 1-1/2 cups.
Spinach, 1 bunch.
Oil, 1 tablespoon.
Milk or curd, 1 tablespoon.
Salt as per taste.

PREPARATION:
Wash the spinach leaves and keep aside. Take a pan with ½ cup of water and put the spinach leaves into the pan. Cook the leaves closed for 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted. When the leaves are cold, grind the spinach into a smooth paste with a food processor. Take the whole wheat flour in a basin and add salt and mix well. Then add the purred spinach, 1 tablespoon of curd or milk, 1 tablespoon of oil, 1/2 cup of water and knead everything into a chapathi dough. Some more water can also be added to get the desired consistency. Close the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for half-an-hour. Then heat a flat-bottomed pan, and start rolling the dough into flat chapathis by taking small balls of the dough. When the pan is hot, put a rolled chapathi dough into the pan. Flip it after 30 seconds and add a teaspoon of oil and flip it again after 30 seconds. Keep flipping the chapathi for 20 seconds on each side until it is done. Then repeat the same procedure with the other rolled chapathi dough. Serve hot with any curry.

SAMBAR WITH CHOY




SAMBAR WITH CHOY
A recent phone conversation with friend sent me searching for choy greens in the supermarket. She mentioned to me that this green does not taste bitter and she uses it frequently. Choy was looking similar to amaranth leaves, so I decided to give it a try. I thought of making a sambar with choy so that the tamarind in the sambar minimizes the bitterness of the greens, if any. To my surprise, the sambar was really good and the choy greens blended well with the sambar. Maybe I can start using choy with moong dhal as well.

INGREDIENTS:
Toor dhal, ½ cup.
Onion, medium-sized, 1.
Tomato, medium-sized, 1.
Tamarind, lemon sized or 1-1/2 tablespoon tamarind juice.
Green chilies, 2.
Choy greens, 1 big bunch.
Chili powder, 1 teaspoon.
Coriander powder, 2 teaspoons.
Sambar powder, 1 teaspoon.
Salt as per taste.
Turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon.
Mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon.
Red chili, 1.

PREPARATION:
Wash the toor dhal and cook for 3 whistles in a pressure cooker with a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Clean the choy and chop them into small pieces discarding the thick stems. Extract thick juice from the tamarind and keep aside. Chop the onion and tomato into small pieces and slit the green chilies into two. Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, add the red chili. Then add the onions, tomato, and green chilies and sauté them for a few minutes until everything is blended together. Add the chopped choy and sauté for another minute. Add 1-1/2 cup of water, tamarind juice, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons coriander powder, 1 teaspoon sambar powder, and cook closed under medium flame for 5-10 minutes. Then add the cooked dhal and cook for another 5 minutes. When the sambar is thick, turn off the stove and serve hot with rice.

MIXED VEGETABLES EGG BHURJI




MIXED VEGETABLES EGG BHURJI
Egg bhurji is a relatively new dish to me. My sister-in-law prepared egg bhurji with plain onions and tomatoes to go with puris and I loved the taste than the regular scrambled eggs. Recently I started trying out to use more vegetables with egg bhurjis. These go great with rotis than the regular vegetable curry. Even frozen corn and peas taste great along with the other vegetables. Here goes the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:
Onions, small, 1.
Tomato, small, ½.
Carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, greens beans all coming around 1 cup when chopped.
Frozen peas and corn, both coming to ¼ cup.
Ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon.
Green chili, 1.
Chili powder, 1 teaspoon.
Coriander powder, 1 teaspoon.
Turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon.
Garam masala, 1 teaspoon.
Eggs, 2.
Salt as per taste.
Curry leaves and cilantro for garnishing.

PREPARATION:
Chop the onion and tomato into small pieces and slit the green chilies into two. Chop the carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, greens beans and keep aside. Heat a pan with some oil and add the chopped onion, tomato, green chili, and ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute. When everything is well blended, add the chopped carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, frozen corn, peas and sauté for another minute. Add the chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric powder, and salt and mix everything well. Cook closed under medium flame for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. No water is necessary as the vegetables are cut small. When the curry is dry, break in 2 eggs into the pan and scramble the eggs with the vegetables. When the eggs are well scrambled, garnish with curry leaves and cilantro and serve hot with rotis.