Buttered Radishes with Thyme

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s no longer Christmas here in India. But I’m not ready to lose the holiday spirit. Today’s recipe will be super quick and simple. Radishes and turnips, with the turnip greens in a light thyme butter sauce. Both turnips and radishes have lots of nutrients. I added turnips to mellow out the strong flavor of radish. I also added the turnip greens, which are slightly bitter. Turnip greens are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, folate, copper, manganese, dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin Eand vitamin B6. They are a very good source of potassium, magnesium, pantothenic acid, vitamin B2, iron and phosphorus.

All in all this recipe takes just 10 minutes to make. Makes an excellent healthy side dish or vegetarian holiday side.

DSC_0070.JPGYou will need:

  • 1 bunch turnips with greens
  • 1 bunch radish
  • 1 tbsp butter (or substitute such as olive oil)
  • Fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

To prepare:

  1. Slice the turnips and radishes in half, rinse well.
  2. Roughly chop the turnip greens.
  3. In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of butter (you can add a bit of oil so it doesn’t brown too fast) .
  4. Once warm, add the turnips and radishes and about 3 sprigs of thyme.
  5. Toss well.
  6. Add a few tbsps of water and cover for about 1 minute.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and serve!

 

 

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Quinoa Pulao and Cilantro Mint Raita

My mom’s neighbor, Jaya aunty invited us over for dinner. I love when people from different parts and cooking styles invite us for dinner because there are new sources of inspiration. She made us a feast! Among the delicious south Indian fare was a quinoa pulao, made andhra style, almost like a biryani. The fact that it was made with quinoa made me feel so good about eating it! Quinoa is high in protein and is a healthy carb. It was saut√©ed with veggies, spices and had soya chunks in it to give additional texture ¬†and protein. The dish was topped with fried onions and cashews. ¬†A cool cucumber, tomato and onion raita on the side is a perfect complement for this warm, spicy pulao. ¬†This recipe is not vegan, but the pulao can be made vegan. A vegan alternative to raita can be a cucumber salad, omitting the yogurt. A big thank you to Jaya aunty for sharing this delicious recipe!

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You will need:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Nutrella (found in most indian stores)
  • 1/4 cup peas, a handfull of carrot sticks, any other veggies as desired (I added cauliflower)
  • 3-4 tsp of ghee (this adds a lot of flavor, but as a vegan option, canola oil is perfectly acceptable!
  • Spices: whole cinnamon stick, bay leaves, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, turmeric, red chilli powder
  • Garnish: Fried onions, coriander, cashwews
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-11-29-27-amSoak Nutrela for 2-3 hours. Squeeze out water well. Cut in half if desired.
  2. Cook quinoa in rice cooker with 2 cups of water.
  3. Heat 2 tsp of ghee in a skillet, 1 tsp oil. Add a cinnamon stick and a bay leaf.
  4. Once the oil is hot add chopped onions, Saute for a few minutes and add the nutrela chunks.
  5. Add 2 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp chilli powder and 1 tsp turmeric powder.
  6. Stir and add all the vegetables. Add 1-2 tsp salt and stir fry until cooked.
  7. Mix in the quinoa and a 2 tsp ghee or oil.
  8. Garnish with cilantro, fried onions and cashews. Yum!

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Cilantro- Mint Raita

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You will need:

  • Whole milk yogurt
  • 1 large vine ripened tomato or 2 small tomatoes
  • 1/2 English cucumber, seeded and peeled
  • 1/2 red onion. (some people don’t like how strong the onion ¬†is so use to taste)
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Cumin powder, red chilli powder, garam masala ¬†if desired
  • Salt to taste

To Prepare

  1. Chop  veggies  finely
  2. Add 1 cup of yogurt to a bowl and add in some water
  3. Season the yogurt with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp of cumin powder, and a pinch of red chilli powder. (You can sprinkle with garam masala if desired)
  4. Add in veggies and stir
  5. If it is too thick, add more  water, if too watery, add yogurt
  6. Garnish with chopped herbs, about a handful of cilantro and a few sprigs of mint
  7. Serve with the spicy quinoa pulao for a cooling effect

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Makes 4-5 servings

Spicy Apple Chutney (Thokku)

dsc_0046It’s thanksgiving week! ¬†I went apple picking a few weeks ago and I felt this apple chutney dish would be a perfect vegetarian side dish for thanksgiving. Plus, it helped me use up the pounds and pounds of apples I picked! I bought both fuji and pink lady apples that were slightly tart. I made this chutney South Indian style, it’s actually called thokku in Tamil. It turned out great! I brought it to my office pot-luck and it was a success! Serve it with bread, on sandwiches or a relish to spice up¬†any meal!

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Cold Asian Salads 2 Ways! Soba Noodles with Edamame and Ginger-Honey-Soy Dressing and Cucumber Sesame Salad.

That title was a mouthful! Summer was taking its time to leave us this year…not I’m complaining! I love the warm weather! So I treated myself to a refreshing lunch of cold soba noodles with edamame in a spicy honey-ginger-soy dressing with a side of cucumber sesame salad. The cucumber salad was so pretty! I used a peeler to make delicate little strips. It’s great to make ahead and stays well! The noodles were also super easy to make and would make an excellent side dish or light lunch when entertaining. Trust me, your guests will love it!

The kind of soba noodles I used was King Soba noodles with organic sweet potato and buckwheat. Soba noodles are japanese noodles made from buckwheat, which is a high-nutrient carb that scores low on the glycemic index.  I chose this particular buckwheat noodle mainly for the color, I felt it would contrast nicely with the edamame, cilantro and scallions, but any type of soba noodle will work.

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Honey-Ginger-Soy Soba Noodle Salad

You will need:

  • Soba noodles: They come tied up, you can use 2 bunches
  • Edamame
  • Carrot sticks (Or coarsely grated carrot)
  • Scallions
  • Cilantro
  • Dressing: Honey, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sriracha
  • Sesame seeds for garnish

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Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil
  2. Once it comes to a boil, dump the noodles in and let it boil for about 5 minutes.
  3. Check to see, to make sure it doesn’t get too starchy. It should not be al dente.
  4. Drain the noodles and submerge them in a bowl of cold water. With your hands, gently rub the noodles to remove the starch. This will help prevent it from clumping.
    • This is a really good blog post that shows how to prepare soba noodles step-by-step.
  5. In a blender, add about a 3/4 inch nub of ginger, skin removed, 1 tsp honey, 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp of toasted sesame oil, a squirt of sriracha . Blend until smooth.
  6. Taste, and add water depending on  how strong the flavor is. Add ginger for more spiciness, add honey for more sweetness.
  7. In a mixing bowl, combine soba noodles with 1/2 cup edamame, a handful of carrot sticks,  and the sauce. Mix well.
  8. Serve and garnish with  4 scallions, chopped, cilantro and sesame seeds.

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Cold Cucumber Salad

dsc_0005This recipe is super simple!

  1. Cut 1 English cucumber in half length-wise.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler peel the skin, and remove the seeds with a spoon.
  3. Continue peeling the cucumber so it falls in delicate, strips.
  4. Do the same with 1 carrot
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine 2 tbsp rice vinegar  and 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil and 1-2 tsp sugar. Add a few chilli flakes for flavor and salt to taste. Whisk until the sugar dissolves.
  6. Pour the mixture over the salad.¬†This can be served immediately, or later. The flavor seeps in ¬†more the longer you wait. It’s so delicious I can’t wait for you to try!

This recipe yields 2 servings. double for a larger quantity.

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Quick and Easy Japanese Eggplant in a Green Curry Sauce

I’m not much of an eggplant person. I’ve learned to like it more over the years, but it will never be my go-to choice. But I was at the farmers market the other day and I saw these beautifully vibrant purple japanese eggplants. Japanese eggplants have a tougher, less mushy consistency. They hold their shape well and go great with asian dishes. I decided to make a quick and easy green curry. Quite honestly, this recipe is quick! I find that most of my cooking time is used with prep. In this dish I only used eggplant, and some shallots and red pepper. I served it with Trader Joe’s quick-cooking brown rice. ¬†I was super excited to use my fresh thai basil that I have growing out on the balcony as a garnish. It was delicious! If you don’t have thai basil, you can use cilantro or regular basil. This dish was a true testament to the fact that a healthy meal can be done from start to finish in under 20 minutes.

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You will Need:

  • 2 Japanese Eggplants
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a small nub of ginger (optional)
  • Green Curry Paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • Soy sauce
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Thai basil (optional)

To prepare:

  1. Cut the eggplants in half length-wise. Then cut them on the bias, meaning at a diagonal so you get nice little pretty angled pieces. DSC_0032
  2. Next, chop the garlic, shallots, and slice the red pepper.
  3. In a wok, heat some oil, add the garlic and shallots and stir.
  4. Add in the eggplants and saute for 5 minutes on high heat.
  5. Add in the red peppers and stir.
  6. After 2-3 minutes, add 1 can of coconut milk, a dash of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Take a tablespoon of green curry paste and dissolve this in the milk. You can optionally grate some ginger over the top for added flavor at this stage.
  7. Reduce the flame to medium and allow the curry to simmer for another 5 minutes, adding water as necessary, depending on how you like it. The eggplants are cooked when they are no longer white, but have a more eggplanty color.
  8. Taste the  curry and make sure it has enough salt.
  9. Sprinkle some chopped or julienned thai basil over the top and serve with steaming brown rice!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15-20 minutes.

Makes 3-4 servings.

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Vegan “Egg” Scramble

It looks like egg…it tastes BETTER than egg! And it’s vegan! I have a beautiful vegan friend who inspired me to read more about veganism and animal rights and really opened my eyes to all of the issues involved. While I haven’t yet made the leap to veganism, I am trying my best to make more vegan choices and experiment with vegan alternatives to my favorite foods! And one of those foods is eggs! I live in DC, and love going out to brunch or making brunch on the weekends. This recipe is SO delicious, and packed with veggies. Super simple to make too! The eggs are made from crumbled tofu and the yellow color comes from turmeric and paprika.

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Health Stuff: Turmeric is an extremely healthy indian spice that has tons of medicinal properties. Curcumin, the main active ingredient and it is an anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant properties too.

You will need: dsc_68671.jpg

  • Veggies: I chopped a quarter of each veggie -onion, red pepper, green pepper. A small piece of zucchini and squash and 2-3 mushrooms sliced.
  • 1/2 a block of tofu. Avoid extra firm or super firm. The softer tofu’s give it a more egg-like consistency
  • garlic (or garlic powder), paprika, turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • cilantro ¬†and soy cheese (optional) to garnish
  • Optional: you can grate in some ginger to make it a bit spicy

 

To Prepare:

  1. Crumble the tofu. Using a fork break the tofu up into little crumbles DSC_9408
  2. Chop the veggies finely. I used the ones I had on hand, cut a small amount of them  and saved the rest for later.
  3. Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add in the onions and let them saute for a minute
  4. Add in the peppers and saute for another 2 minutes
  5. Add in the tofu, and stir it in well.
  6. Season with salt, add 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp ¬†paprika. Add garlic powder if you didn’t add fresh garlic. This is the point where you can choose to grate a little ginger in. But this step is optional. I usually avoid it for a more classic taste.
  7. Add in the squash and mushrooms and let it cook for a couple minutes until tender, stirring constantly.
  8. If you feel the tofu has dried out too much, unlike actual eggs, you can add in a few tbsps of water and let it simmer out a bit to get the right consistency.
  9. Sprinkle in a little soy cheese. I buy mine at Trader Joes and it’s great! Stir it in and garnish with cilantro and serve!

Prep time: 15  Cook time: 10

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Middle Eastern Spiced Rice and Lebanese Mousaka (Maghmour)

I love middle eastern food. Plain and simple. The flavors go so far beyond just hummus and pita. When I was younger and we lived in South America , we would frequent the Syrian, Lebanese and Armenian restaurants a lot because of their vast selection of vegetarian dishes. Hummus, babaganoush, tabouleh, fattoush salad and one of my favorites, lebanese mousakka. Mmmmm my mouth is watering! This dish is called Maghmour I believe in Arabic, and bares very little resemblance to its Greek counterpart (A layered caserole dish with meat and potatoes.) It is a¬†savory, tangy, and sometimes spicy blend of tomatoes, spices, eggplant and chickpeas. I’ve seen it served both room-temperature and warm. I ate this dish warm. Especially, now that¬†tomatoes are in season I used a bunch of fresh tomatoes. ¬† You are going to love it!

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I paired this with some delicious middle eastern spiced rice. You see this on the streetcarts of NYC and in any shawarma place. Warm Basmati rice cooked to perfection with a blend of freshly ground cinnamon, cloves, peppercorn, allspice and paprika. I topped it off with a few slivered almonds.

*On the side was a yummy and simple salad of Persian cucumbers, tomatoes, mint and feta. Drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. (This was the only non-vegan portion of this recipe.

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For the Rice:

You Will Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed a few times under running water
  • 1 tbsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp whole cloves (4-5 cloves)
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Mint, cilantro or slivered almonds for garnish

1) Grind whole spices finely in the above proportions

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2) Heat  olive oil in a skillet and add  spices, saute for less than a minute

3) Add 1/1/2 cups basmati rice (rinsed first) and fold in the spices

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4) Allow the spices and rice to fully blend together (2-3 minutes)

5) transfer to a rice cooker or pot, and add less than 3 cups of water and 1 tsp salt, cook covered on medium for about 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked.

The result is spiced, savory perfection! Garnish with some mint and slivered almonds if you like!

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For the  Mousaka

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You will need:

  • 2 eggplants
  • About 5-6 Roma tomatoes , chopped(or 3 larger tomatoes)
  • 1/2 Red onion
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Cayenne pepper or any chili powder on hand
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Paprika
  • Cumin powder
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Can of chickpeas, drained ( I used only half in this recipe)

Before you begin:

  • Preheat the oven to 400¬į ¬†and trim the ends of the eggplants, and peel in strips (like below image)
  • Then, cut the eggplant into about 1 inch rounds, and lay them on a baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and salt them. Make sure both sides get some olive oil.

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To Prepare:

1. Bake  eggplant rounds for 20 minutes, turning half-way. Remove when eggplants are soft, but not squishy. Cut into cubes and set aside.

4. In a skillet, heat olive oil and saute half a large red onion and 3 cloves of garlic, minced

5. Add in the chopped tomatoes and 1 tbsp of tomato paste

6. Saute for a few minutes, and add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tsp cayenne powder (more if you like it spicy). Add 1 tsp salt and let the tomatoes reduce into a nice sauce, adding water as necessary.  This should take about 10 minutes.

7. Reduce flame to medium and add chick peas. I am not a huge fan of chickpeas so I just added half the can.  Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Add a pinch of sugar if you feel it is too acidic. This cuts the acid.

8. Add in the eggplant and mix well.

9. Finish it off with some fresh chopped mint and cilantro. Remove from flame and serve with the spiced rice and salad!

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