Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baked Pita Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Baked Pita Chips is one of the healthiest snacks you can think of. I like pita chips but the ones you get in the stores are so salty. Moreover, you don't get whole wheat pita chips.... just the regular ones. You can try out different spices and herbs and make your own kind of pita chips. You can use regular pita, if you don't like the whole wheat pita. 

The best pairing for pita chips is hummus, without a doubt. Hummus is a dip which has garbanzo beans, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, garlic and salt as a base. It is a popular dish in the middle-east which is sometimes served with falafels (fried ball/patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans).


For baked pita chips:

4 large whole wheat pita chips, cut into small triangles/pieces
Olive oil, to coat the pita chips
Salt, to taste
1/2 tbsp red chili flakes (you can adjust spice according to your taste)
 3/4 tbsp garlic powder

For roasted red pepper hummus:

1 (15.5oz) can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 large roasted red pepper (1/2 cup equivalent), chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil


For baked pita chips:

Cut the whole wheat pita into small triangles or pieces (I usually cut one whole pita into 8 triangles and then cut each one into half and separate the front and back, but if you want it thick, you can leave them without separating it).

Now, either prepare a mix of olive oil, salt, red chili flakes and garlic powder and brush them on each piece of pita or you can just add each ingredient on the pita pieces and toss well to coat each one of them.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the pita pieces on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake them for 10-12 minutes depending on how crispy you want them.

For roasted red pepper hummus:

Before we even get started, you're probably wondering where is the tahini in the ingredients list. Honestly, I can never tell the difference with or without tahini. So, I make my hummus without  tahini but if you wish, you can add it.

In a blender or food processor, add the chopped garlic, garbanzo beans, cumin powder, paprika, red chili flakes, and salt. Blend to a smooth paste.

Now, add the roasted red pepper (I used store-bought but you can make your own too) and lemon juice. Blend well and slowly start adding olive oil till it starts to look creamy and smooth. Garnish with finely chopped roasted red pepper. Serve with pita chips and snack away!!

Makes 5-6 servings.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Black-Eyed Peas Curry

Black-eyed pea, also called black-eyed bean is rich in fiber like most beans. They taste good when combined with vegetables as a gravy or even tossed up as a salad. In some cultures, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring good luck and prosperity.

The gravy can be used as a base and replaced with red kidney beans or garbanzo beans (chickpea). Here's a quick and simple recipe....


2 onions, diced
5 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt, to taste
Tamarind, to taste (I used 1 tsp of tamarind paste)
Black-eyed peas, boiled (you can used canned too)
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

For seasoning:

1 tbsp oil
4-5 cloves
4-5 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)


Boil the black-eyed peas in a cooker with water and salt for 2-3 whistles (if your's has one) or cook it until 3/4th done...just make sure you don't overcook it, so adjust accordingly. Drain the water from the peas.

In a pan, heat oil and and add onions, garlic and ginger. Fry for few minutes until they turn slightly brown. Now, grind the above ingredients along with tomatoes, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and tamarind. Make a fine paste and set aside.

In a pan, heat oil, add cloves, cinnamon and the ground paste. Keep it on low flame and allow it to cook for 15-20 minutes until the raw smell fades away.

To the gravy, add the cooked black-eyed peas and boil for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers is a recipe which is interpreted differently around the world. In India, stuffed peppers is in the form of a gravy filled with spices. But in the U.S., it is almost a meal by itself filled with various types of stuffing. You can use any kind of beans or vegetables of your choice.

This recipe does not contain any rice but you can add some cooked rice or quinoa or couscous, if you wish. Some recipes steam or boil the bell peppers for few minutes before stuffing and baking the peppers. You can use orange, yellow, red or green bell peppers or mix them up to make it more colorful.


4 medium green bell peppers, tops cut off , seeds removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2  of 15 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
1 cup black beans, cooked
1/2 cup corn
3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped (any kind, I used button mushrooms)
1 tbsp curry powder (optional)
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded jalapeno cheese, for garnish
1 tbsp olive oil
Cooking spray, to grease baking dish


Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in the black beans and corn. Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté well. Now, add some salt, cayenne pepper and curry powder . Mix well until all the vegetables and spices blend together. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease the baking dish using cooking spray.

Scoop the stuffing into the peppers and place them on the baking dish. Garnish each bell pepper with basil and jalapeno cheese on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the peppers get cooked and the top of the stuffed peppers are brown.  Serve each stuffed pepper with some marinara sauce or spicy salsa. Enjoy!!

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili (also known as chili sin carne or chili without meat) is a spicy flavorful stew-like dish. Mostly made with some kind of meat was slowly replaced by veggies with the rise of vegetarians in the U.S. It is debatable whether Chili originated in Mexico since its rarely found there anymore. Did you know that Chili con carne or Chili with meat is the official dish of Texas??

I started making this dish when I went on a diet as it is such an hearty meal with so many vegetables, beans and spices. Since then, it has become one of my favorites. You can add any kind of vegetables or beans to suit your needs.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celerey, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 (15oz) can petite diced tomatoes with liquid
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 (15oz) can black beans with liquid
1 (15oz) can red kidney beans, drained
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/4 cup vegetable broth (optional)
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Cheddar cheese, for garnish (optional)
Light sour cream, for garnish (optional)


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, green bell pepper, zucchini, jalapeno peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned.

Add chili powder, cumin powder, oregano, and salt. Mix well with the vegetables. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and beans.

If you find the chili to be very thick, you can dilute it a bit with some vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to low heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in lime juice and cilantro just before serving. Garnish individual bowls with cheddar cheese and sour cream, if desired.

Makes 5 servings.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cauliflower Manchurian

Cauliflower Manchurian, also known as Gobi Manchurian is a fusion of indian and chinese cuisine. Surprisingly, this is quite a popular dish among indians. Majority of the indian restaurants serve this dish and I am sure that most of us have either made it or tasted it at some point or the other. I guess the combination of the deep fried cauliflower with the tangy spicy sauce bursting with chinese flavors makes it a sought after dish.

Well, its one of those days when I suddenly start craving something and somehow I've gotta have it. I was hoping someone would make it for me...if only I was that lucky!! Anyways, as usual, I wound up making it myself. 

Cauliflower Manchurian can be made either dry (served as an appetizer) or as a gravy. This recipe is semi-gravy.


For cauliflower fry:

1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
5 tbsp cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
Oil, for frying
Salt, to taste

For gravy:

2 green bell peppers, diced into medium chunks
1 onion, diced into medium chunks
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp green chilli sauce
2 tbsp red chilli paste
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp Ajinomoto
1/4 tsp cornflour (make a paste by adding some water to it)
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 cup spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup water
2-3 drops of red food color
Salt, to taste


Soak the cauliflower florets in hot water with salt for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a bowl, add the cauliflower florets, all-purpose flour, cornflour, salt, white pepper powder and ginger-garlic paste and mix well. Normally, the florets are deep fried until golden brown. But I shallow fried the florets until light brown. Choice is yours :)

In a pan, heat oil and add the garlic and onion. Fry till the onions turn slightly brown. Add the diced bell peppers and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Now, add the green chilli sauce and red chilli paste. Fry till the raw smell fades away. Add the tomato sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, ajinomoto and salt. Mix all the ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cauliflower florets and stir well with the other ingredients. Allow it to cook for few minutes until all the flavors blend with the cauliflower. Add the cornflour paste, red color and some water to get a semi-gravy consistency.

Garnish with spring onions and serve with fried rice or rotis.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Nut Rice

Nut Rice as the name implies consists of nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews and some raisins too. Before you read ahead, this recipe is not meant for the calorie conscious. If you don't mind occasional splurges on your calories, then go for it. The more the nuts, the tastier the rice. Feel free to add any other kind of nuts you wish.


1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1/4 cup cashewnuts, each cut in half
1/2 cup walnuts, each cut into 2 or 3 pieces
1/2 cup almonds, each cut lengthwise into 3 pieces
1/4 cup raisins, any kind (I used california raisins)
1 big onion, sliced lengthwise
7-8 green chillies, slit lengthwise
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 1/2 cups coconut milk + 3/4 -1 cup water
2-3 bay leaves
5-6 cloves
2-3 cinnamon  sticks
3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste


Rinse and soak the basmati rice for about 20 minutes.

In a deep pan or stockpot, heat 1 1/2 tbsp ghee and fry the nuts individually until golden brown and fry the raisins till they start becoming plumpy. Set aside.

In the same pan or stockpot, heat the remaining ghee and oil. Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. As it heats up, add the onions and green chillies and fry until the onions are slightly brown. 

Now, add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the raw smell fades away. Add the soaked basmati rice and fry for 2 minutes until the rice starts to separate. 

Add the coconut milk, water and salt to the rice and mix well. Allow it to cook on medium flame for 10-12 minutes until the rice gets cooked.

Turn off the stove and add the nuts and raisins to the rice. Gently mix them with the rice. Serve with raitha.

The next time you make raitha, try adding some sour cream with plain yogurt to give a creamy texture. I like the taste and for all you know, you might like it too!!

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cauliflower Paratha

Paratha is an indian flat-bread made using whole wheat flour. Parathas are usually stuffed with vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, fenugreek leaves, or paneer. Parathas can be round or triangular, so don't bother about what shape it turns out to be. You can substitute it with potatoes and follow this recipe for Aloo Parathas.

Caulliflower Parathas, known as Gobi Parathas are easy to make and taste best when served warm.


For the dough:

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup water (adjust by adding more, if required)
Salt, to taste

For the stuffing:

1/2 cauliflower, finely grated
1/2 big onion, finely chopped
6 green chillies, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)


For the dough:

In a bowl, add the whole wheat flour and salt. Add water and knead well to make a non-sticky dough. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

For the filling:

Cut cauliflower into big florets and soak them in hot water with salt for 20 minutes. Use the florets to grate them finely and set aside.

In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds. After it splutters, add the onions, green chillies and saute well for 2-3 minutes. Now, add the grated cauliflower, turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and mix well. Let it cook for 3 minutes. Add the cilantro and mix well with the stuffing. You can add lemon juice, if you wish. Allow the stuffing to cool.

For the paratha:

Two ways to make the paratha - you can mix the filling with the dough, knead them well and make parathas or you can take a small piece of the dough, say lemon size and roll it into a flat disc, add the filling, cover them completely and roll again as a flat disc.

Most of the times, when I make parathas, it is so much easier for me to make two halves of the paratha, fill one with the stuffing and even it out and cover it with the other half and roll it out so that it doesn't look too thick. Every time I follow this procedure, the stuffing almost never comes out and its close to perfect. Follow the method that works best for you.

Heat a pan with medium heat and cook the paratha on one side till it turns lightly brown. Drizzle some oil or butter on the paratha and flip it over to cook on the other side. Serve hot with pickle and yogurt or raitha.

I like making raitha using Kix. Ya, you heard it right, Kix (crispy corn puff cereal).

Easy Kix Raitha:

1 1/4 cup Kix
3/4 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sugar

Mix them well and sprinkle some cayenne pepper as garnish and serve with parathas.

Makes 8-10 parathas.

Pumpkin Halwa

Pumpkin is a variety of Squash and is a widely used vegetable by many of us. Pumpkin is typically used to make gravies, soups and even pumpkin pies. I have heard about pumpkin halwa but never had the chance to taste it...not a fan of sweet treats. I know it is usually made with freshly grated pumpkin but I had a pumpkin puree can sitting in my pantry and was crying out loud to be used up, so I finally decided to use it. I was skeptical about how pumpkin would taste as a sweet dish but I guess this dish proved me wrong and it turned out to be tasty :)

       There are so many ways to make pumpkin halwa. Many people prepare a simple sugar syrup and some add milk too. Keep it simple and enjoy the sweetness!!!


15 oz pumpkin puree (I used Libby's)
1/2 cup almonds, soaked & de-skinned
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp ghee
Saffron, few strands
10-12 cashews, cut into halves


In a deep pan, heat the ghee and fry the cashews until golden brown and set aside.  Add the pumpkin puree to the pan and mix well with the ghee. Allow the puree to cook for about 20 mins or so until the raw smell of the pumpkin fades away.

Make a powder of the almonds and add it to the pumpkin puree. Add the sugar  (you can add 3/4 cup if you want it less sweet), cardamom powder and saffron strands (you can soak them in milk and add them too). Stir constantly and cook for 5-8 minutes. Garnish with cashews and serve hot.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tomato Rice

Tomato Rice is one of the very first recipes I learnt from my mom. It is a simple recipe that you can make quickly and tastes so much better than the plain old tomato rice. One of my friends has been asking me for this recipe and I keep telling her that I will make it for her someday but it hasn't happened yet....maybe when I meet her next time. Normally, I make beetroot raitha but since I am out of beetroot, going back to the usual onion raitha.


1 big onion, thinly cut lengthwise
4-5 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1-2 tsp chilli powder (I like it spicier, so I add 2 tsp)
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, washed & soaked for 1/2 hour
2 1/2 cups water
4 tbsp oil
1/2 fresh lemon juice, squeezed
1 tbsp ghee (melted butter)

For seasoning:

2-3 cinnamon sticks
2-3 cardomom
3-4 cloves
2-3 bay leaves


In a pan, heat the oil and ghee and season it with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves. Add the onions and fry for sometime.

Now, add the tomatoes and fry again till it becomes pulpy. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute the mix for sometime. Add chilli powder and cook for few minutes until the raw smell fades away. Add chopped mint leaves and fry for a minute. Add the basmati rice to the mix and fry for 3 minutes until the rice starts to separate.

Add water to the rice and some salt to taste. When the water starts boiling, add the chopped cilantro leaves and lemon juice. Close the lid and set it on medium flame for 10-12 minutes until the rice is cooked completely. Don't stir in between.

After 10-12 minutes, turn off the stove and mix it well. Serve with raitha.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vegetable Pad Thai

Pad Thai is one of my favorites in thai food. Who knew that Pad Thai or Phat Thai was one of Thailand's national dishes and is considered as a street food??? This dish is prepared using rice noodles, eggs/meat/tofu, tamarind paste, fish sauce (traditional recipe), red chilli pepper, and lime juice to name a few ingredients. Being a vegetarian, whenever I go to a thai restaurant, my standard dialogue to the waiter - "only vegetables, no egg, no fish sauce" and as usual I get a nod but behind my mind, I keep thinking, who am I kidding!! Most restaurants use fish sauce, very rare that they substitute. So, I started making Pad Thai at home. This is purely vegetarian which makes it all the more comforting. atleast for me :)

The Pad Thai sauce is a fairly easy recipe and it can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, if you have any left.


For Pad Thai Sauce:

1 tbsp tamarind paste
1/4 cup hot water
3 1/2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tsp red chill paste (adjust spice to your taste, you can use sriracha as well)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
3/4 tbsp oil

For the noodles:

8 oz dry flat rice noodles
8 oz firm tofu, washed & cut into cubes
1/2 onion, cut lengthwise
1 small broccoli, cut into florets
2 carrots, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup baby corn
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp of pad thai sauce
1 tsp garlic, minced
4-5 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt


For Pad Thai Sauce: 

In a pan, heat oil and red chilli paste and fry for a minute. Add tamarind paste, hot water, soy sauce, brown sugar and allow it to boil for 3-4 minutes. Add vinegar and mix well with the paste. Slowly the sauce starts to thicken. Turn stove off and set aside.

For the noodles:

Most rice noodles have their instructions on how to cook them. I buy the Trader Joe's rice noodles which requires it to be cooked for 6-8 mins. Use a little oil when boiling, so they don't stick to each other. Drain it.

In a wok, heat 1 tbsp oil and add the cubed tofu (make sure you pat it dry) and fry till it turns golden brown. Place it on a tissue to drain the excess oil.

To the same wok, add 1-2 tbsp oil, minced garlic and onions. Saute well.

Now, add the broccoli, carrots, baby corn, 2tbsp of the pad thai sauce to coat the vegetables and mix well. Cook the vegetables until they are 3/4th done.

Add the rice noodles, 3 tbsp pad thai sauce, soy sauce, salt and toss well. Add some oil, if you feel the rice noodles drying out. This will blend it well with the sauce. I like to add little bean sprouts with the noodles, so you can add some, if you wish.

Before serving, garnish the pad thai with spring onions and place some bean sprouts and crushed peanuts along with the noodles. Enjoy!!

Makes 4 servings