January 24, 2015

Curried Kale w/ Yams

The recent buzz based on the new Zagat polls is that kale is becoming out of trend. Really??, but who cares about trend anyway. We did not start loving kale because of any trend or rating. We started liking it because of its taste and its nutritional value. It is also a very versatile green that can fit into a multitude of dishes, like a salad, or a soup, or a chip or an Indian inspired dish like this one. I feel it is better than spinach when substituted in some of the Indian spinach dishes because it has more character and texture. Kale is still very much trendy in the quick'n'healthy kitchen. This is more of a fall dish when you get an abundance of fresh locally produced kale and yams, but you can make it anytime of the year especially in winter when you really crave for something warm and spicy. 

Though I am calling this dish as 'curried', it does not call for 'curry powder' as an ingredient. Btw, 'curry powder' as such is not a single spice like many of my non-indian friends think, but it is a blend of spices that can vary in its ingredients and proportions based your preference. I just remembered a clean eating restaurant where the chef wanted me to guess the secret ingredient in his newest soup. I tasted coriander, cumin, chillies, etc. He kept telling no, and finally he said that it was 'curry' :-), and I had to educate him on what curry powder really is. 


  • Baby kale - 4 cups (roughly chopped - you can big kale leaves as well) 
  • Purple yam - 1 (skinned and cubed)
  • Garnet yam - 1 (skinned and cubed)
  • Coconut oil - 2 Tbs
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon - 1 stick (broken into few pieces)
  • Cardamom - 3-4 (whole)
  • Garlic - 3-4 cloves (minced) 
  • Ginger - 2 Tbs (minced) 
  • Green chillies - 4-5 (chopped fine) 
  • Red onion - 1 (chopped fine) 
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Tomato - 6 (small - pureed using a blender) 
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1 cup (get recipe here
  • Sea salt - as per taste 

  • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and sauté cumin seeds, cinnamon and cardamom till you get nice aroma from the spices. 
  • Add minced ginger and garlic and saute for a minute or so without burning them.
  • Add chopped green chillies, chopped onion and turmeric powder. Sauté till onion turns slightly pink and soft.
  • Add pureed tomato and cubed yams. Cook covered till yams are cooked well, for about 10-15 minutes. 
  • Add chopped kale and coconut milk and salt. Simmer till kale is just wilted. Adjust seasoning and switch off. 
  • Serve warm as is or with rice. Enjoy!!

January 23, 2015

Buckwheat Quinoa Pancakes w/ Blueberry Apple Salsa

Do you like freshly made fluffy and soft whole grain pancakes right off the pan? Would you also like to make it from scratch? No, not from a branded pancake mix that comes in a box. This one is made from wholesome ingredients like buckwheat, quinoa and coconut. You just need a little bit of planning, spend a few seconds the previous night to measure and soak the ingredients. Then in the morning you can treat yourself and your family with these super soft and fluffy pancakes. You can also make the salsa while waiting to flip each pancake. So even on a weekday morning you can enjoy this quick'n'healthy and satisfying breakfast :-)

For Pancakes - Ingredients
  • Buckwheat - 1/2 cup (soaked, see recipe for notes) 
  • Quinoa - 1/2 cup (soaked, see recipe for notes) 
  • Organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar - 1 Tbs
  • Coconut shredded - 1/2 cup (dried or fresh)
  • Organic free range eggs - 2
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  • You need to soak the quinoa and buckwheat separately for about 12 hours, so plan ahead. quick'n'healthy is always about a little bit of planning and prepping for quicker, healthier meals. 
  • Soak buckwheat with 1/2 cup of filtered water 1 Tbs and apple cider vinegar. Soak quinoa separately covering with filtered water. 
  • After soaking, drain and rinse quinoa well, cook with 1/2 cup of water (in a saucepan or pressure cooker). Let it cool down a little. 
  • While quinoa is being cooked, grind the buckwheat along with soaking liquid and salt to a fine batter. Add coconut continue grinding till coconut is just mixed with the batter. Beat eggs and mix into the batter. Add cooked quinoa and mix well. Keep aside till you are ready to make the pancakes. (This is the time to make your salsa :-))
  • When ready to make pancakes, heat a griddle to medium heat. Mix baking soda with 1 tsp of water, add to the batter and mix well. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter on to the hot griddle and make pancakes. 
  • Makes about 8 medium pancakes. Serve with blueberry salsa or any preferred savory spread. 
  • Enjoy!!

For salsa - Ingredients
  • Blueberry - 1 cup (fresh or frozen would work)
  • Apple - 1 (chopped fine) 
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp 
  • Red onion - 1/2 medium (chopped fine)
  • Green chilly or jalapeño - 2 (chopped)
  • Tomato - 2 small (chopped fine)
  • Bell pepper - 1/2 (chopped fine)
  • EV olive oil - 2-3 Tbs
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Chopped cilantro - 1/4 cup
  • Start by crushing cumin seeds in your molcajete (or mortar and pestle). 
  • Once cumin seeds are crushed well add chopped onion and green chilly and crush them well too. 
  • Add half of the chopped tomato and chopped bell pepper and crush them roughly while mixing everything together. 
  • Transfer to a bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix well. 
  • Serve immediately or optionally keep aside for 15-20 minutes for a more flavorful salsa.
  • Enjoy!! 

January 21, 2015

Quinoa Chickpea Winter Salad

It has been brutally cold for the past few weeks, and it is in these times that we crave for something warm and spicy in our lunch box. I prefer something warm and yet does not need a lot of cooking, something satisfying and yet light on your stomach. Here's one that fits the bill and my lunch box... a quick'n'healthy quinoa salad with chickpeas, veggies, fruits and nuts. 

    • Quinoa - 1 cup (Soaked overnight)
    • Chickpeas - 1/2 cup (Soaked overnight) 
    • EV olive oil - 4 Tbs
    • Garlic - 4-5 cloves (minced)
    • Green chilly - 4-5 (chopped)
    • Green beans - 1 cup (chopped fine)
    • Bell pepper (multiple colors) - 2 cup (chopped fine)
    • Green mango - 1 cup (chopped fine, or 2-3 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice)
    • Baby greens - 2 cups (spinach, kale or a mix)
    • Almonds - 1/2 cup (roughly chopped)
    • Salt - as per taste
    • Apples - 2 (chopped)

    • Drain and rinse quinoa well, cook with 1 cup of water.  Drain and rinse chickpea and cook with 1/2 cup of water. (I use pressure cooker for both)
    • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and saute garlic and green chilly for a couple of minutes.  Add chopped green beans and cook covered till green beans are almost done. (for about 5-6 minutes)
    • Add chopped bell pepper, chopped mango (if using) and chopped greens and sauté till warm and greens are just wilted. 
    • Switch off, transfer to a bowl, add chopped apples, almonds, salt, lemon juice (if using) and remaining olive oil. Mix everything well and serve immediately or as a packed lunch.
    • Makes 3 to 4 servings. Enjoy!!

    December 31, 2014

    Christmas Holiday Fruit Cake

    Here is my last post for the year. Christmas and the holiday season brings a lot of memories for Malayalees.  One such memory would definitely be a piece of dark flavorful fruit cake. It is probably a representative flavor of the season and will be something that every Malayalee would have had over the years during this season. Initially when we moved to the US, we were not able to find Kerala style fruit cake here and I started to attempt to bake my versions of it. This is one cake I have been making for the past 14 years, though I have been refining the recipe every year based on our increased awareness about food and the cooking ingredients used. Nowadays, even though we can buy the Kerala fruit cake from any Malayali bakery, we still stick with our homemade version. This is the latest version of my christmas holiday fruit cake. It is made with all organic and pure ingredients, yet not compromising much on the flavor. Though, this recipe has egg, I have made eggless versions of this in the past without compromising much on the texture or the flavor. We end up making between 3-5 cakes during the 10 days as all of us love it and I hope you do too. I am making one for this New Year's eve as well.

    Wishing all of you a very Happy, Healthy, Safe, Peaceful & Prosperous 2015 !!! 

    • Unrefined coconut palm sugar - 3/4 cup
    • Virgin coconut oil - 1/2 cup
    • Organic free range egg - 1
    • Unbleached all purpose flour - 3/4 cup
    • Sprouted spelt flour - 3/4 cup
    • Mashed banana - 1/2 cup
    • Baking soda - 3/4 tsp
    • Ground cinnamon - 1 tsp
    • Ground nutmeg - 1/4 tsp
    • Ground dried ginger - 1/2 tsp
    • Ground cloves - 1 tsp 
    • Sea salt - 1/4 tsp
    • Raisins - 1 cup
    • Mixed dried fruit - 1 cup (goji berries, chopped apricot, chopped dried plums etc)
    • Cashew nuts - for garnish

    To soak the dried fruits:
    • Freshly squeezed orange juice - 1 cup 
    • Myer's Jamaican dark rum - 1 cup
    • Ground cinnamon - 1 tsp
    • Ground nutmeg - 1/2 tsp
    • Ground dried ginger - 1 tsp
    • Ground cloves - 1 tsp 

    • Soak the dried fruit along the spices in orange juice and rum for a day up to a week. 
    • When ready to make the cake drain the dried fruits, squeeze out excess liquid, mix 1/4 cup of flour with the dried fruits, stir until coated and keep aside.
    • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch cake pan with coconut oil or line with parchment paper. 
    • In a small bowl, add the remaining 1 1/4 cups of four, spices, baking soda and salt. Mix well and set aside.
    • In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together coconut sugar and coconut oil until light and fluffy. Add mashed banana and egg and blend well.
    • Add the flour mixture and mix till moistened. Beat with the hand mixture on medium speed for about 2 minutes, do not over mix.
    • Add the flour coated dried fruits, mix to incorporate well. 
    • Pour the mixture into prepared cake pan. Arrange cashew nuts on top. Bake at 325 deg oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
    • Cool upright in pan 5 minutes. Turn upright onto wire rack and cool completely.
    • Enjoy with family and friends for the season!!!

    Note: For an eggless version - mix a tablespoon of ground flax with 4 tablespoons of filtered water. Keep aside for 5 minutes till they gel together. This replaces one egg.