Monday, November 29, 2010

Mushroom Pepper Fry

Mushrooms are widely used in asian cuisines and is packed with fiber, proteins and essential vitamins. It tastes good in dry recipes and gravies. Personally, I like the combination of mushroom and bell peppers and this is a very simple recipe. Give it a try...


10 oz button mushrooms, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
Few curry leaves
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Lime juice, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped


In a pan, heat oil and add curry leaves, onions, garlic, green chillies and fry till onions are translucent.  Now, add the mushrooms and sauté well for few minutes. Add the green bell peppers and cook until they are almost done. 

Add the curry powder and salt and mix well with the vegetables. Allow the flavors to blend well and add black pepper powder, if you like it spicier. Add lemon juice to the vegetables and fry for 1-2 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis.

Makes 3 servings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wheat Oat Dosa

Dosa, a popular dish in south indian cuisine is usually made from a fermented batter of rice and black lentils. Mostly considered as a breakfast dish, dosas can be consumed at any time. They are usually served with a side dish of sambar (lentil curry) or chutney.

Every now and then, I try to cook healthy alternatives for rice-based dishes. Normally, I make wheat oat idlis and decided to use the base ingredients to make dosas instead. After making these dosas, I don't think I'll miss the rice-based dosas anymore. 


3/4 cup instant oats
1/2 cup cracked wheat (fine)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup water
Oil, for greasing the dosa


In a pan on medium heat, dry roast the instant oats until it turns light brown. In a bowl, add enough water to soak the oats for 20-30 minutes.

In the same pan, dry roast the fine cracked wheat for a minute until it gets heated. Soak the cracked wheat in a bowl with water (make sure you don't add too much water....just enough to immerse it) for 20-30 minutes.

In a blender, add the soaked cracked wheat and blend it to a paste but not too fine. Pour this into a bowl and keep aside. Now, blend the soaked oats to a fine paste and mix with the cracked wheat.

To the wheat-oat batter, add cumin seeds, green chillies, ginger, cilantro and salt. Mix all the ingredients and add little water, if the batter seems too thick. You can also add finely chopped onions to the batter, if you wish.

In a hot griddle or flat pan, pour the batter in small amounts and spread it out into a medium thin circle and fry on each side for few minutes with little oil ( can use nonstick pan to avoid using oil) until it turns slightly brown. The dosa can be folded in half and served. Serve with sambar or chutney.

Makes 6-7 dosas.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chocolate Mousse

Mousse (derived from French word) can be prepared either as a light and fluffy texture or creamy and thick. A dessert mousse typically contains eggs and cream and can use any flavoring...the classic being chocolate. Dessert mousse was originally available only in fancy french restaurants but nowadays they are easily available everywhere.

Generally, I don't prefer recipes which focus on eggs as one of the main ingredients. As I like the texture of the chocolate mousse, I decided to rely on one of my mostly used ingredients...Tofu. Tofu is one ingredient which can change its texture so easily depending on the kind you use. Its good to use silken tofu for desserts as it can make it so creamy. The best part is no one can tell that there is tofu in the recipe and it tastes good.

Here's a healthy mousse recipe ...


8 oz silken tofu
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup dark cocoa candy melts or bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup milk chocolate toffee bits + 1 tbsp for garnish
2 tbsp whipped cream


Combine the bittersweet chocolate and milk chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave in short intervals until completely melted and keep aside to cool.

In a blender, add the silken tofu and purée until it becomes smooth and creamy. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract to the tofu and blend well. (If you find the purée to be sweet, you can add 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of instant coffee powder and blend with the rest of the ingredients which will cut some of the sweetness and enhance the flavor of the chocolate)

Put the chocolate mousse in small dessert cups or ramekins and cover then with clear wrap. Refrigerate them for 3-4 hours until it sets.

Serve chilled with whipped cream and sprinkle some milk chocolate toffee bits on top. Enjoy!!

Makes 5 servings.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin, a gourd-like squash is typically orange or yellow or white in color. Pumpkin, also known as winter squash is the star of Halloween and Thanskgiving in the U.S. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible including the pumpkin seeds which is a good source of protein that can help lower cholestrol. The high fiber content helps aid digestion too. Aren't all these health benefits a good reason for you to start using pumpkin in your cooking more often?

I prefer more soups during Winter which makes you feel warm and comforted. Just the perfect food to suit the season. Here's a pumpkin soup recipe for you to get started....


1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups orange pumpkin, diced
1 bay leaf
2-3 cloves
1-2 cinnamon sticks, small pieces
2 cups water
1 tsp chilli powder (can add more, if you like it spicier)
1 oz light cream (optional)
Salt, to taste


In a pressure cooker, heat the butter and oil. Add the bay leaf, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. After it starts to splutter, add the chopped onions and minced garlic and sauté for few minutes until the onions are translucent.

Now, add the tomatoes and fry until they turn pulpy. Add the diced pumpkin, chilli powder and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the water and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles.

Allow the cooked pumpkin to cool for few minutes. Remove the bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon sticks (the spices are used only for infusing the flavor in the soup) and  purée the pumpkin using a hand blender (makes it so much easier) or a regular blender.

Heat the pumpkin purée and add the desired amount of salt and mix well. The texture of the soup is smooth and creamy but you can add light cream, if you want to make it more creamy.

If you feel the soup is too thick, you can thin it out by adding more water. If you want more heat, you can add a dash of tabasco or sprinkle some fresh ground black pepper when serving. Serve hot along with a side salad.

Makes 5 servings.

Quick Salad:

2 cups romaine lettuce, cut into small pieces, washed
1 small red onion, cut lengthwise
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, each tomato cut into half
5-6 black olives, sliced
2 tbsp jalapeno peppers, sliced
2-3 tbsp banana peppers
2-3 tbsp light balsamic vinaigrette

Toss all the ingredients along with the vinaigrette and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vada Curry

Vada Curry (Spicy lentil gravy) is a popular south indian side dish served with Idlis or Dosas. As I mentioned earlier, the only time I make an exception to eat Idlis is when I have the perfect side of which is vada curry.  The perfect blend of spices along with the right amount of heat makes this curry irresistable. For this recipe, you need to make the vadas - it can either be steamed or fried. Since, there is not much of difference taste wise, I normally steam the vadas which makes them healthier too.


For the vadas:

1 1/2 cups channa dal (split chickpea lentil)
3-4 red chillies
3-4 green chillies
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2-3 cloves
1-2 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)
1/2 inch piece ginger , skin removed
2-3 cloves garlic, with skin
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5-6 curry leaves
Salt, to taste

For the curry:

2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
8-10 almonds
3-4 cloves
2-3 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)
2-3 bay leaves
3-4 green chillies, slit lengthwise
Chilli powder, to taste
Salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp oil


For the vadas:

Rinse and soak the channa dal for 2 hours.

Dry grind the green chillies, red chillies, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and garlic to a fine paste.

Make a paste of the dal and the ground masala (split into 2 parts) and add salt. Grind coarsely and repeat for the second part of the dal and the masala.

Add the vada batter to finely chopped onions and few curry leaves. Make the batter into small round balls and steam them for 10-12 minutes.  Allow it to cool and set aside. (You can make them well ahead and freeze them. Defrost and use them, when required).

For the curry:

In a deep pan, heat 2-3 tbsp of oil. Add cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, chopped onions and fry well.

Now, add the slit green chillies, ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell fades away. Add the tomatoes and sauté till it becomes pulpy.

Make a paste with coconut, saunf and almonds. Add little water, if required.

To the tomatoes and onions, add chilli powder and fry for few minutes until the raw smell is gone. Now, add the coconut paste and 2 cups of water and allow it to boil.

After the curry starts boiling, add the steamed vadas (mash them slightly) and turn the stove to medium-low heat.

Add salt to the curry and lemon juice, if desired. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Mix well and serve with Idlis.

Makes 4-5 servings.