Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Fresh herb cheesy yogurt dip with crostini

 A trip to the Middle Eastern grocery store tempts me into stocking up on some lesser-used ingredients. Labne (a thick creamy yogurt similar to Greek yogurt) is one of them, I love to make my Easy Peasy Spinach Artichoke dip using it. With a lone jar of labne and the smell of fresh herbs every time I opened the fridge,  combined with the pictorial memory of the "Crostini Dip" on IG (@thechutneylife), this dip was waiting to be created. And, the ease of it is so convenient that the family got to enjoy it for a workday lunch when I managed to fix it between patients!

The versatility of this comes in handy too, leftovers will make a great spread for your breakfast bagel, or toss it with some freshly boiled pasta for a nice flavorful pasta dinner. 


  • Labne (Or plain Greek yogurt)- 1 cup
  • Cream cheese- 1/2 packet
  • Serrano chillies- 2
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil- 1 tbsp
  • Cherry tomatoes- 2 cups
  • Fresh basil- 10-12 leaves chopped
  • Fresh parsley- 3-4 tbsp
  • Fresh garlic- 7-8 cloves finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Rye or any other small bread toasted for dipping

Blend Labne, cream cheese, fresh herbs, 2 cloves of garlic, serrano chilies, and salt together in a blender. Refrigerate the dip for a couple of hours. In a pan, heat the EVOO and add the halved cherry tomatoes and garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes until salt. Add salt and fresh basil and turn off the stove. Spread the tomato mixture on the dip and add cracked black pepper to it. Enjoy as a snack or an appetizer with warm toasted crostini!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Guiltless coffee cake

 Somewhere between a pudding and a cake, this dessert is one of the best tasting healthier concoction that has been whipped up in my kitchen. And this comes from my foodie 11 year old son who does not once shy away from being critical of his mom’s healthy dessert experiments! 

The choco dates drizzle topping adds the perfect flavor and texture combo taking this dessert up a notch. Inspired by Forks over Knives, this recipe has been modified to appeal to our chocolicious taste buds! I promise this won’t disappoint, the ease factor is high here. Kahan and I made it on an impulse after dinner in a jiffy on a weeknight!


  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
  • 2 tablespoons date paste
  • 1 teaspoon almond butter
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp natural cacao powder 
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened, almond milk
  • 1½ teaspoons flaxseed meal
  • 1½ teaspoons almond butter
  • 1½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup almond flour 
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or almond extract)


  1. To make optional Drizzle Topping: In a blender combine all the ingredients and make a smooth paste and set it aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and mix well with a spatula until the batter comes together. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with non stick cooking spray and pour the cake batter in it. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a tooth pick inserted in it comes out clean. Once cool, drizzle or spread the topping and enjoy! 

Warning- tastes even yummier the following day after refrigerating! 

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 "" 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.