Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Vegetable Paniyaram

I love food. Darn, that is a cliche. But I am not lying and I need variety and so does my 10 year old son!  I love South Indian food and fantasize dishes beyond the uber tasty idli, dosas and upma! So driving back from work after seeing some 20-25 patients, my mind started conjuring up meal ideas for today's dinner. And a simple yet sumptuous spread was conceived- Vegetable paniyaram (will have to be instant as I didn't have fermented rice/daal batter), Sambhar (needed to use up the leftovers in the fridge, part of the reason for this meal, shhhhh nobody needs to know this though!), Cilantro coconut peanut chutney and Lemon Rice (Instant Pot to the rescue!). 

Presenting my take on the Instant vegetable paniyaram. Appe pan- I love you just as I love some of my other kitchen gadgets!


Coarse sooji (Rava or semolina)- 1 cup
Rice flour- 1/2 cup
Plain yogurt- 2/3rd cup
Grated carrots- 1 cup (and change!)
Finely chopped bell peppers- 1/2 of a large pepper
Finely chopped onions- 1/2 an onion
Finely chopped green chillies- 1-2 chillies
Grated ginger- 1 tbsp
Water- about 1 cup (have to adjust per consistency)
Curry leaves- 8-10
Ghee- 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Asafetida- 1/4 tsp
Chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Oil as needed to grease the Appe pan, can also use non-stick cooking spray instead. 

Makes about 20-24 Paniyarams


In a mixing bowl add the Sooji, rice flour, yogurt, salt, turmeric and make a batter with slowly adding water as needed for a batter that is not too runny but slightly thick. 
Tadka- Heat up the ghee on a slow flame in a thick bottom pan with mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds crackle, add a pinch of asafoetida followed by green chillies and chopped onions. Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the other veggies, grated ginger salt and mix everything well and turn off the stove. Mix the sauteed mixture into the batter. Add the baking soda and let the batter rest for 15-20 minutes. 

Heat the Appe pan on a medium heat and spray them with non-stick cooking spray or put a tsp of oil in each round. Place the batter in each round and cook on medium flame covered for 4-5 minutes on one side and flip to cook another 3 minutes or so on the other side. 
Serve hot with chutney/Sambhar of your choice. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Juwaar beet salad

One of the COVID 19 quarantine internalizations has been the desire to incorporate more miller’s into our day to day diet. Attribute the inspiration it to a few IG pages, food conversations with a friend and just a general inclination to cleaner and healthier cooking/eating. While I have played with Raagi, Juwaar flours in my cooking from time to time, I landed on whole Juwaar at the Indian store recently. And this salad was born like most of my dishes r- from ingredients in the pantry and the fridge. I was surprised at the unique texture and sweetness of this millet.

Juwar- 1.5 cups 
Boiled beet cubed - 1 large
Chopped cucumber- 1/2
Chopped 🍅 tomato-1/2
Chopped kale 🥬 leaves-1 cup
Chopped Green onions -2
Finely chopped fresh mint- 2-3 tsp
Chopped green chilies- 1
Crumbled feta cheese-2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Chaat masala- 2 tsp
Lemon juice - 1/2 a lemon 🍋 


Boil the juwaar in IP for 10 minutes with some salt in it or pressure cook. Mix the salad ingredients and toss well. Enjoy cold or at room temperature. 

Cheesy corn aloo balls

If you are like me, you love appetizers- creating and consuming both! So here’s an easy, non fried and delicious starter. Who doesn’t like potatoes, cheese and corn after all! You and your guests r in for a treat. I snuck in a lone half sweet potato 🍠 in mine as it was crying to be used!

Potatoes-3-4 medium
Frozen sweet corn- 1.5 cups
Mozzarella cheese shredded- 3/4 cup
Chopped green chilies- 1
Garlic powder- 2 tsp
Dry oregano- 2 tsp
Tandoori masala- 2 tsp
Black pepper- 1-2 tsp
Aamchur powder- 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Canola oil enough to coat the Appe pan

Boil and mash the potatoes. Combine all ingredients to form the mixture. While you can deep fry these, I used my go-to Appe pan for these. Place 1/2 tsp oil in each slot of the pan on medium heat and place the mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side and flip and cook for about 2 minutes on the other side. Serve with a sauce of your choice. I combined sriracha, ketchup and ranch to make a yummy dipping sauce for mine.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Roasted Veggie Lasagna

I still remember the time I had lasagna for the first time in the US about 20 years ago. I was in awe of my husband's cousin who had made it. Multiple layers of pasta, flavorful veggies, spinach, ricotta and other cheeses- how can anyone make something as complex as this at home. Little did I know that over the years this seemingly complex dish would be broken down to a series of simple steps by my "chef brain" with several permutations/combinations of ingredients and variations!

While improvisations like using frozen spinach, crushing spinach vs not crushing it for the right texture, substituting cottage cheese for ricotta cheese to cut down on some calories and raise the nutrition bar seem trivial, the most important one came several years ago with the discovery of "no boil lasagna noodles". Gone were the days of struggling to handle the cooked sloppy with lasagna breaking apart during the process. Over the years I would realize, you don't even need to buy the "no boil noodles" in particular because ANY lasagna can be made the "no boil" way! It is the moisture from the filling layers and the sauce with the baking time in the oven that cook the noodles while infusing all the amazing flavors in them. Good bye over cooked messes!

So here's just one of my over a dozen variations of lasagna that I recently made. And like most of my meals, this requires minimal prep time (under 30 minutes total is my goal with my limited attention span, constantly multi-tasking nature and the urge to accomplish as much as I possibly can in a limited time!!)


  • ANY lasagna noodles- about 250 GM
  • Good quality marinara pasta sauce- 1 jar
  • Pesto- 2 tbsp
  • Alfredo sauce- 1 cup (optional)
  • Chopped veggies like- Red onions, summer squash, zucchini, Eggplant, carrots, sweet/bell peppers- 1 of each 
  • Cooked chopped or crushed spinach- 1/2 cup
  • Egg white- 1-2 (optional for binding)
  • EVOO- 1 tbsp
  • Garlic cloves- 3-4
  • Salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste
  • Low fat Cottage cheese- 2 cups
  • Mozarella cheese- 1/2 cup 
  • Parmesan/pecorino cheese- 1/4 cup


Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a glass baking tray. Combine the sauces in a mixing bowl. Spread the chopped veggies on a large baking tray greased with olive oil and toss them with some EVOO + salt, pepper and fresh chopped garlic. Roast the veggies in the oven for a total of 20-22 minutes mixing half way and checking again at around 18 minutes mark. Mix the roasted veggies with cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese), cooked chopped spinach, salt, pepper, chili flakes and egg whites in a mixing bowl. 
Start the layering by spreading sauce at the bottom of the baking tray followed by the uncooked lasagna sheets. Spread the veggie cottage cheese mixture on top and then the sauce again. Repeat with the final layer of lasagna and sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Cover the tray with Aluminum foil and bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes first. Remove the foil from the top and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes, cut and serve. 
Pair with mixed greens 🥬 or a simple 🥗 salad.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Healthy and Tasty couscous sweet potato veggie burgers

My brain usually has an inexhaustible supply of meal ideas with repetitions of meals spread out several weeks if not months apart. This extended quarantine does challenge that track record at times. Saturday dinner was one such instance. So I asked my 10 year old foodie son, Kahan for dinner suggestions. And he looks up some ideas on "Tasty.co" and goes, "Mumma, how about we make burger patties from scratch?" And images of all the possible ingredients in the fridge started snapping in front of me. "Bingo! Those ignored honey wheat buns, that rarely ever used celery and that sweet potato begging to come out of its home would love to be finally put to good use!" I was sold on the idea and while he went through the different options about chick pea vs black bean burger, the sunflower seeds version seemed to strike my fancy! 

So Kahan and I decided to improvise the recipe based on what we had on hand and boy were we all delighted with the final outcome! So here's the simple yet flavorful and healthy veggie burger recipe. 

  • Boiled sweet potato- 1
  • Cooked cous cous- 3/4 cup
  • Chopped carrot- 1 medium
  • Chopped celery- 1 stalk
  • Chopped scallions- 2-3
  • EVOO- 2 tsp
  • Seeds and nuts mix (sunflower and other seeds)- 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Chili lime seasoning- 1 tsp
  • Garlic power- dash
  • Tandoori masala- 1 tsp
  • Paprika powder- 1 tsp
  • Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado, pickles, ketchup, Sriracha ranch, buns and cheese slices to assemble
Combine all the ingredients and mix well or use a food processor pulsing a few times to make the patty batter ready. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Use half cup measure to lay out the patties on a greased baking sheet. Spread them out a little to make even thickness patties. This makes about 5-6 good size patties. Flip them after 15 minutes. 

Assemble the burgers and enjoy with your favorite condiments and salad. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Beet paneer kofta curry

A dish is usually cooked up in the mind before being cooked in the kitchen; that's the story of a home chef! Variety is the spice of life and good food nourishes the soul. On that note, those cooked beets in the fridge needed to go in a dish besides a salad or beet raita. The blanched spinach in the freezer was doing nothing more than taking up space. Time to get them married off in a dish!
The gravy, made in the Instant pot is super easy with no saute needed there is no compromise on flavors.


  • Grated Boiled beets (I cook them in Instant pot)- 2
  • Grated Boiled potato- 1
  • Grated paneer- 1/2 cup
  • Corn startch- 1 tbsp (can substitute with all purpose flour or skip altogether)
  • Chopped green chillies and giner- 1 tbsp
  • Oil to grease the Appe pan
  • Salt to taste

  • Tomatoes chopped- 2 large
  • Green chilly- 1
  • Ginger- 1 small piece
  • Garlic- 2 cloves 
  • Onion chopped- 1
  • Butter or ghee- 1tbsp
  • Cumin- 1 tsp
  • Spinach (optional)- 1 cup
  • Cashew pieces- 2-3 tbsp
  • Spice potli- cardamom, star anise, black pepper corn, cinnamon, cloves wrapped and tied in a small cloth pouch. (Can substitute with a tsp of garam masala)
  • Bay leaf- 1
  • Water- 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar- pinch
  • Sour cream, heavy cream or plain Greek yogurt 

Combine all the Kofta ingredients in a mixing bowl and form a dough. Heat the appe pan with some oil in each section and place the kofta balls, cover and cook on medium flame for about 4-5 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Kofta can be fried alternately. 

Place all the gravy ingredients in the Instant pot except the sour cream/heavy cream. Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Release the pressure after 10 minutes and blend in a blender after removing 
the spice pouch and the bay leaf. Transfer to a pan on the stove top and heat. Adjust salt as needed and a pinch sugar to balance the flavors.

Place the Kofta in the gravy right before serving and garnish with sour cream/heavy cream or greek yogurt. Enjoy with Roti or Naan (or by itself if on a low carb diet!!). 

NOTE- The gravy can be made in pressure cooker or stove top as well. 

Place all 

Combine all the gravy ingr

Roasted cauliflower Thai curry

Home chefs find inspiration in everything around them. Compound that with quarantine, a refrigerator full of produce, daily exposure to Master Chef season 6 and a  newly found "getting to know Instagram" approach and the result is new dishes! So that's the story behind this curry and pretty much most of the meals being whipped in the kitchen these days.

Tired of the usual Aloo Gobi? Try this Thai take on Gobi and you are sure to please your taste buds and your families quest for variety. 

  • 1 small head cauliflower florets
  • Green beans- 5-6 cut length wise
  • Bell pepper- 1 cut into squares
  • Olive oil - 2 tsp
  • Minced garlic- 1 tbsp
  • Ginger- 2 tsp
  • Brown sugar/Jaggery- 2 tsp
  • Coconut milk- 1 can
  • Thai green curry paste (or red curry paste)- 2tbsp
  • Thai dry chili paste- 1 tsp (optional)
  • Lemon juice or lime juice- 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro or basil to garnish

Serves 4-6. Sub 30 minute dish.


Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large sheet pan lined with aluminum foil with non stick spray, spread the vegetables evenly and drizzle with olive oil and some salt. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower appears charred but not burnt. In a sauce pan mix coconut milk, brown sugar/jaggery, minced garlic, grated ginger, Thai chili paste, Thai curry paste and mix well with a hand blender if needed. Simmer on low to medium stove top for 10 minutes. Add the roasted veggies, salt, lemon juice and mix well and turn the heat off. Garnish with basil or cilantro and serve hot with brown rice.