November 25, 2015

Spicy Kale Rice

Kale is health conscious America's favorite poster child, and is one of the 'super-veggies' always in the top of the 'you should be eating this' lists. Top celebrities, including presidents and many hollywood stars have made it very fashionable by claiming to eat it daily. Of course, there are a lot of Kale jokes around as well, and my son sometimes tells his friends that we are 'Kaleing' him :-), but then he loves anything made with Kale too.

Kale was also in the news recently when it got some attention for the news about the side effects of eating too much of it. I was reading thru some of them and most of the so called 'side effects' are caused by eating too much of it via raw salads, juices and salads. Also, from what I understand, in most of the cases the people are newbies to eating kale or any veggies for that matter, and all of a sudden if you start eating a ton of kale, that too in raw form, it may not suit your body right away. So the key is to cook the kale, and include a variety of veggies in your diet to have balance and eat everything (including kale) in moderation :-)

Coming to cooking with Kale, it is 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. This is more of a fall dish when you get an abundance of fresh locally produced kale, but you can make it anytime of the year especially in winter when you really crave for something spicy. 

  • Rice - 1 cup *
  • Kale - 6-8 leaves
  • Homemade tomato paste - 2 Tbs **
  • Green chilly - 3-4 
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves
  • Fresh ginger - 1/2 inch 
  • Cardamom - 3-4 pods
  • Clove - 3-4
  • Coconut oil - 2 Tbs
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Sea salt - as pet taste
  • Cook rice with 1 and 3/4th cups of water.
  • Meanwhile, separate kale from the stem, tear into small pieces. 
  • Add kale pieces to a food processor along with ginger, garlic, green chilly, cardamom and cloves. Process till everything is very finely chopped, almost minced.
  • Heat a pan on medium heat, add coconut oil. Add kale mixture, tomato paste, turmeric powder and salt. 
  • Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously for about 5-8 minutes till the kale is cooked and soft.
  • Switch off, add cooked rice and mix well. 
  • Keep covered for 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm. Enjoy!!

* You can use any kind of rice, just judgement for cooking time and amount of water accordingly. If it is a whole grain rice, be sure to soak it for a few hours or overnight. 
** To make tomato paste: Quarter well ripe (I use Campari) tomatoes and start cooking on medium heat. Let tomatoes cook with its own water. Gradually water content will reduce in about 25-30 minutes. When your desired consistency is reached, switch off and let it cool. Puree and store in an airtight jar. This can be refrigerated up to 2-3 weeks.

November 11, 2015

Baked Pumpkin Kesari

Happy Deepavali to all of you. :-)

Deepavali, the festival of lights, is also a festival of sweets:). This time we are going seasonal  by making the Diwali sweet with locally grown pumpkin. Baked pumpkin kesari is inspired from baked mango kesari that I tasted at a friend's place. Kesari is a common sweet/snack from south India. Kesari can me made in multiple ways - steamed, baked or stovetop versions. It is usually made with cream of wheat or rava. I am making it with idli rice (coarsely ground par boiled rice). It is sweetened with sugar, unlike many other quicknhealthy desserts and sweets. So the key as always is moderation. Serve small portions :). 

Once again wishing all of you a Happy, Peaceful and Safe and Sweet Deepavali, and a great time ahead. Enjoy!!

  • Pumpkin puree - 1 cup *
  • Idli rava - 1 cup **
  • Unrefined organic sugar - 3/4 cup  (Add more or less based on your preference)
  • Organic grass-fed butter - 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom - 5-6 pods (skin removed and powdered. 
  • Ghee or coconut oil or greasing the baking dish.
  • Preheat oven at 350 degree F. Grease a 8 X 8 baking dish with ghee or coconut oil.
  • Heat a pan on medium heat and dry roast the idli rava. Keep stirring taking care not to burn. Switch off just when it starts to turn golden. You can optionally add a a teaspoon of ghee at this point.
  • Blend the pumpkin puree along with cardamom powder and butter. 
  • Add the pumpkin mix to the roasted rava and mix well.
  • Pour the mixture to the greases baking dish.Bake at 350 deg F for 30 minutes. 
  • Let it cool and cut into desired shapes and sizes.
  • Enjoy!!

*  To make pumpkin puree:
  • Cut pumpkin into quarters and bake in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Let it cool, peel the skin, remove the core and seeds. Puree the flesh using a blender or food 
  • If you want to make a small batch of pumpkin puree, cut out wedges from pumpkin, remove skin, core and seeds and make thin slices. Heat a pan on medium heat, drizzle coconut oil and arrange the slices without crowding. Roast till slightly brown for about 5 minutes.Flip the slices and repeat on the other side. Let it cool and puree. 

** Idli rava is coarsely ground parboiled rice. You can use regular rava/suji/semolina.

November 8, 2015

Pumpkin Parathas (Pumpkin Flatbread)

My son loves Parathas with pretty much anything. So going with the seasonal theme, it is pumpkin parathas this time of the year. Pumpkin comes loaded with vitamins and minerals - vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium to name a few. You can use any variety of pumpkin for this, or you can also use any winter squash too. Pumpkins also give a nice color to your Parathas, you can serve it for festive occasions like Diwali to add color to your food and life :-)

Since pumpkin has a lot of moisture content, I am using it to directly knead the dough instead of making the paratha stuffing from it. You can serve it as a breakfast with yogurt, or serve it as dinner with your choice of side dishes, or you can also use it as a wrap for a to-go meal.

  • Whole wheat flour - 2 cups (or more if needed for kneading)
  • Pumpkin - 2 cups (Skinned and cubed)
  • Fresh ginger root - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves 
  • Green chilly - 2 
  • Dried fenugreek leaves - 2 Tbs (Kasuri methi) 
  • Dried mango powder - 2 tsp (Amchur powder) 
  • Sea salt - as per taste. 
  • Coconut oil - 2 Tbs
  • Add the pumpkin, ginger, garlic and green chilly to food processor and process till finely chopped (almost ground).
  • Add wheat flour and all remaining ingredients to the food processor and continue to process till everything mixes together and forms a smooth dough. 
  • If the mixture is too dry drizzle water and continue. If the mixture is too sticky add a few tablespoons of wheat flour. It all depends on the moisture content of the pumpkin, use your judgement here.
  • Take out the dough, make a smooth ball out of the dough and keep aside covered for about 30 minutes or so.
  • When ready to make the parathas, heat a cast iron griddle. 
  • Take out small lime sized balls and roll out into approximately 6 inch circles. 
  • Cook on the hot pan till you start small bubbles rising up. Flip and repeat the same on the other side. Repeat this for a couple of times more till parathas are cooked evenly on both sides, it would take about 3-4 minutes in total.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough. 
  • Serve with yogurt or with your choice of side dishes.
  • Enjoy!!

November 4, 2015

Almond-butter Ginger Laddus

It is Diwali time and that means it is time for home made sweets. I like to bring in some spice to the sweets, it adds a nice balance and takes the monotony out. Balance is the essence of life, and this is true with the environment and with our food. So ginger is the balance for this laddu inspired by two traditional sweets/snacks, one from the north of India and one from the south, Besan laddu and Avalose unda. The almond butter gives it a nutty taste, and the ginger and cardamom elevates it to a different level. So try it out for Diwali, it is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and as always quick'n'healthy :-)

  • Homemade almond butter - 1 cup (recipe here)
  • Unrefined coconut palm sugar - 1 cup
  • Channa dal - 1 cup
  • Fresh ginger root - 2-3 inch long *
  • Cardamom - 5-6 skin removed
  • Powder the channa dal using a dry blender. Heat a pan on medium heat and dry roast the channa dal powder till it turns slightly golden. Keep stirring taking care not to burn the powder.
  • Powder coconut sugar with cardamom and ginger.
  • Mix everything together either using your hands or using food processor. 
  • Starting making truffle sized balls or laddus. If you feel the mix is not holding together, you can warm the mix in a pan. Make balls while the mx is still warm. This will also help you make the smooth balls.
  • This makes around 24 laddus. 
  • Enjoy!!

* Note: If you are planning to store these laddus for a while, you might want to use dried ginger. Since I make these in small batches and share it with friends and family to be consumed immediately, fresh ginger works just fine.