February 23, 2013

Black Rice Orange Cookies

We are not cookie eating people and our dessert usually consists of fresh cut fruits, fruit juice, etc. I have been following many of the positive, eco-friendly, sustainable, and responsible food businesses that are a new trend in India. One such place is Terra Earthfood in Chennai. They make  organic, gluten free snacks that are mostly made of plant based ingredients. The most recent one they had posted on their FB page was orange cookies made with organic brown rice and flavored with orange juice and zest. The combination of the ingredients sounded so delicious and irresistible, and we did not have the patience to wait till our next trip to Chennai. So I decided to give this a try. I tried making the cookies with black rice rice and coconut, and then flavored them with orange juice and zest.

  • Black rice - 1/2 cup
  • Organic dried shredded coconut - Coconut - 1/4 cup
  • Organic Coconut palm sugar - 1/4 cup
  • Organic virgin Coconut oil - 1/4 cup
  • Organic Honey - 2 Tbs.
  • Fresh Orange Juice - 1/2 cup
  • Organic orange zest - 1 tsp.
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp.

  • Grind black rice to a fine powder. I could easily powder it using Vitamix dry grinder. If you do not have a high speed blender, you might want to soak the rice before grinding it. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Grind palm sugar and coconut together to a fine powder too. Add it to ground brown rice. Add orange zest and baking soda to this and mix well.
  • Melt coconut oil and honey over warm water. Take fresh orange juice.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Keep aside for 10-15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 370 degrees. Lay parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Drop a tablespoon each of the mix separated by 1-2 inches on the sheet and bake for about 12 minutes or till nice and firm. Let them cool completely over wire racks. Enjoy them while they last !!

Sharing this on Gluten Free Fridays

February 18, 2013

Vegan Caramelized Onion Thin Crust Pizza

I have been making pizzas at home with homemade crust, sauce and toppings, and with cheese .. until I found a fall vegetable pizza on New York Time's vegetarian TG menu. Like the editor rightly said, the creamy consistency of the white bean purée makes this dish seem like a decadent treat, and you won't even notice that it doesn't have cheese. I have been playing with all different toppings on this pizza, apples, butternut squash, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, olives, tomatoes, greens, changing the combination each time. Two things I that  I have not changed from original recipe are the white bean purée and the caramelized onion since we love both of them.

Herbed Pizza Crust:
  • Whole wheat flour 1  1/4 cups
  • Bread flour - 1/4 cup
  • Luke warm water - 1/2 cup and 2 Tbs.
  • Active dry yeast - 1/2 tsp.
  • Raw sugar - 2 tsp.
  • Oregano - 1 tsp.
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp.
  • Mix everything well to make the dough and knead well for 10-15. Use a kitchen gadget (I use my bread machine with dough setting) or use your hands to knead. Keep aside in a warm place for 30-45 minutes to rise.
  • Divide the dough into 4 parts and roll into crusts of about 7-8 inches. Keep aside till you prepare toppings and the purée.

White Bean Purée:
  • Cannellini beans - 1/2 cup (soaked for 6 hours and pressure cooked)
  • EV olive oil - 2 Tbs.
  • Lemon juice 1 Tbs.
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Dried parsley - 1 tsp.
  • Sea salt as per taste
  • Green chillies - 1-2
  • Grind everything to a fine purée adding few tablespoons of water.

Pizza toppings:
EV olive oil for drizzling
Onion - 1 large (thinly sliced)
Roma tomatoes - 2 (make thin round slices)
Kale - 1 cup (chopped) 
Olives - 1/2 cup (Chopped)

  • In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbs. EV olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté onions until soft and lightly caramelized, about 20 to 30 minutes. Season with sea salt.
  • Preheat oven at 420 degrees.
  • Place the crusts on baking sheets and bake for 5-6 minutes.
  • Take out and spread  a layer of the Garlic White Bean Purée evenly over the baked crust. On top of the purée  arrange caramelized onion and remaining toppings and drizzle olive oil. Bake for 5 more minutes or until the crust is slightly browned or golden. Let cool, slice and serve.
Makes 4 personal pizzas.



February 17, 2013

Warm Vegetarian Borscht For A Cold Evening

My son had a Russian classmate and he used to mention that she brings Borscht for lunch once in a while. He found the ingredients and the bright color very appealing, but his problems were that it had meat and that they serve it cold. So I knew that if at all I make it I had to serve it warm and of course that I would make a vegetarian version.

I am trying out the winter farm share from a farm Close by. It is not working out as well as I wanted. New England is not the best place to grow vegetables in winter, so they have been giving me an abundant supply of potatoes, (which I hardly use in my cooking) and lots of beets,(that too without the greens). I have really been trying to be creative by not wasting them and trying out something new every time I get my delivery. This week was Borscht time. I was not  sure how it would turn out, but was quite surprised with the result and we all loved it.

This weekend, it looks like Siberia when I look outside. So, I guess a Borscht seems like a good fit :)


  • Beets -2 medium
  • Potatoes - 1 large
  • Carrots -2 medium
  • Vegetable broth - 3 cups
  • Fresh or Dried shiitake mushrooms -1 cup
  • Garlic -2-3 cloves
  • Onion -1 medium
  • Black pepper corns - 1tsp.
  • Dried parsley - 1Tbs.
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Lemon juice - from 1 lemon
  • EV olive oil - 1 Tbs.

  • If using dried mushrooms, prepare by soaking them in boiling water for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Drain to use in soup.
  • To make the vegetable broth, I pressure cook all the left over vegetables from my refrigerator (which I won't be able to use up by Friday) with required amount of water and then strain to get broth.
  • Julienne potatoes, carrots and beets very thin. If you have beet greens chop them too, as they will be a welcome addition for nutrition, taste and texture. Chop onion and mince garlic. Chop the mushrooms.
  • Boil the vegetable broth. Add chopped mushrooms, potatoes, carrots and beets and dried parsley and simmer over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile heat olive oil and add garlic and roast till slightly brown, add pepper corns and chopped onion and sauté for a minute or so. Add this to your blender jar along with a couple of scoops from the simmering soup and puree everything well.
  • Add the pureed part back to the soup. Add salt, adjust taste and remove from flame.
  • Add lemon juice and serve warm.

February 15, 2013

Cardamom Flavoured Coconut Bread

Cardamom and Coconut are meant to go together. And so it did in a warm freshly baked bread. My kitchen (in fact my whole house) smells so nice 'n refreshing:)
Here is a quick and easy recipe for cardamom coconut bread.


  • Organic Whole wheat flour - 1 1/4 cup
  • Organic Bread flour - 1/4 cup
  • Organic Arrowroot powder - 2 Tbs.
  • Organic Finely shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom - 5-6 pods (peeled and ground)
  • Organic Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Luke warm water - 3/4 cup
  • Organic Coconut palm sugar - 1 Tbs.
  • Active dry yeast - 1 tsp.
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp.



  • In a small bowl, add 1/4 cup of luke warm water and dissolve sugar and yeast. Keep aside for 5-10 minutes till frothy.
  • In a bowl add the flours, arrowroot powder, coconut, cardamom and salt. Add the remaining warm water, coconut oil and yeast mixture. Mix everything to a dough and knead well for 10-12 minutes. If you or someone in the family has the patience and skill, well that's the best way to go. Else you will have to depend on a kitchen gadget to do it. That's what I do, use my bread machine to knead for me :)
  • Divide the dough into 8 parts. Roll each part into balls and keep on a baking tray leaving couple of inches between them. Keep the tray in a warm place for about 2 hours or till the balls are doubled on size.
  • Bake in 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes till the breads are golden brown.
  • Serve warm along side soup or stew..



February 14, 2013

Strawberry Ice Cream Cake - Quick-Raw-Vegan

Who says you can't make dessert and eat it too? Desserts do not have to be loaded with refined sugar or fat. They can be made with wholesome ingredients and still taste awesome. You can feel good about what you are making, serving and eating. Happy Valentine's Day !!


For Base:
Raw almonds - 1/2 cup
Mejdool dates - 3-4
Raw cocoa powder - 1 Tbs.

Coarsely grind everything together and press into cup cake molds lined with paper liners (about 1/4 inch thickness)


For Ice Cream:

Organic strawberries - 1 cup  (fresh or frozen)
Organic raw cashew nuts - 1/2 cup (recommended soaking for couple of hours)
Organic honey - 3-4 Tbs.
Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs.

Grind everything together until very fine. Fill into prepared cup cake molds with the base.
Freeze for couple of hours. Thaw them for about 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy !!
This makes about 4-6 cakes depending on how much you fill in each.



February 11, 2013

Coconut Millet For Breakfast

When I buy my organic nuts, seeds and lentils from WholeFoods' bulk section I have seen organic millet and wanted to try it some time, but never really bought it until yesterday. I have been following Dhanyam Oragnic Superstore and their recent post on Varaggu Coconut & Carrot rice really inspired me to read about Millet and buy some.

Millet provides a host of nutrients, has a sweet nutty flavor, and is considered to be one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available. It is one of the few grains that is alkalizing to the body.. Read more: 

Since I was inspired by Dhanyam's recipe, that is what I tried first with minor changes.

Ingredients:

Organic Millet - 1 cup
Green split peas - 1/4 cup (soaked overnight)
Carrot - 1 medium (chopped fine) 
Shredded Coconut - 1 cup
Green chilly - 1-2 (chopped fine) 
Fresh ginger root - 1 Tbs (chopped fine)
Onion - 1 medium (chopped fine) 
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp.
Coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
Sea salt - as per taste


  • Pressure cook millet with 1 1/2 cups of water. 1-2 whistles should be more than enough. Spread the cooked millet in a plate to cool it so that it does not become mushy while you add the seasoning.
  • Heat coconut oil and add cumin seeds. When nice aroma comes, add chilly, ginger, onion and soaked split peas and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add cooked millet, coconut, chopped carrots and salt. Mix well and heat thru and serve. 
  • We like carrots and split peas fresh and crunchy like I have added in this one, but if you like them softer, then add them earlier in the process to cook them well.




February 10, 2013

Instant Quinoa Idli


This is something I have posted before, just that this time I decided to spice it up a little bit. This might have been better with a spicy chutney, but I served this with sambar. Quinoa idli can made in different ways. One way is to replace half of the rice in regular idli and ferment the batter and make idlis. Another way is to make instant idli like how we make Rava idli. I chose the latter this time.


  • Organic Quinoa - 1/2 cup
  • Fine cracked wheat -1/2 cup
  • Organic Yogurt - 1 cup
  • Virgin Coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Organic raw Cashew nuts broken - 2 Tbs.
  • Urud dal - 1 Tbs.
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp.
  • Crushed pepper corns - 1 tsp.
  • Asephoetida - a pinch
  • Sea Salt as per taste
  • Baking soda - a pinch



  • Dry roast quinoa till you start hearing popping sound, for about 5 minutes
  • Coarse grind roasted quinoa.
  • Dry roast cracked wheat for 5 minutes.
  • Mix cracked wheat, quinoa, salt & baking powder and add yogurt and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Heat coconut oil and add urud dal and cashew nut and sauté till slightly golden, add the spices and season the batter
  • Pour about 2 Tbs. into idli moulds and steam for 15 minutes.
  • Serve with sambar or chutney.



February 3, 2013

Salmon & Watercress With Almond Curry Sauce

I am trying to reinvent the 'Salmon with Peanut Sauce' that we had at a Thai restaurant a few months back. I made it with Almonds instead of peanuts and paired it with brown rice and stir fried snow peas on the side.

Prepare Salmon:
Salmon - 2 steaks of Alaskan wild caught sockeye salmon
Red chilly powder  - 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp.
Sea Salt - 1/2 tsp.

Wash and cut salmon steaks into 1' X 2' steaks.  Mix the spices and apply on salmon, and keep aside till you prepare remaining ingredients.

For Almond Sauce:
Almonds: 15
Garlic cloves - 4
Fresh ginger root - 1 Tbs.
Coriander seeds - 1 Tbs.
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp.
Red chilly powder - 1 tsp.
Lemon Grass - 1/2 a stalk
Tamarind - 1 tsp.
Raw coconut palm sugar - 1/2 tsp.
Sea Salt - as per taste

Grind everything to a fine paste adding 1/2 cup of water.

For the curry:
Watercress - 1 small bunch
Coconut - 1/4 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Pearl onion - 2
Coconut oil - 1 Tbs.


  • Wash and chop watercress coarsely.
  • Slice pearl onion very thin.
  • Grind the coconut and water to very fine for the coconut milk. (I use Vitamix, so don't really bother to strain the coconut milk)
  • Heat half of coconut oil on a griddle (cast iron griddle works very well) and place salmon steaks on for about 1 minute or so on each side till slightly browned. This will be cooked fully in the curry.
  • Meanwhile heat a pan and add remaining coconut oil and saute the pearl onion slices till slightly browned. Add the almond sauce and whisk well without burning the sauce. Add salmon steaks, coconut milk and simmer covered till salmon is cooked well - for about 5-10 minutes. Midway thru open the lid and lay the chopped watercress on top of the curry and continue cooking. This way watercress will not be overcooked.




For the stir fried snow peas: I used the same griddle were I roasted salmon and added the minced garlic and chopped almonds and chopped snow peas and did a quick stir fry. Just enough so that the snow peas are still crispy and crunchy.







Red Rice Idlis


A short note on Red Rice. We like trying out different varieties of rice, especially the varieties that are nutritional. We use Brown rice, Brown Basmati rice, Red rice, Matta Red rice, Black rice and a variety of white rice. Our favorite amongst all is the single polished Red Rice from SriLanka, it is very nutritional and tastes awesome. It has a lot of bran in it and is high in fibre, iron and other minerals in comparison with many other rice varieties. As for taste, nothing can come close to it, and it is suitable for all kinds of cuisine. We just love it, and stock on it as it flies off the shelf very quickly. If you are from South India and like having rice and yogurt (curd), then you must absolutely try yogurt (plain, not the one with added sugar and fruits) with red rice. If you are not from that part of the world, then you have to try out this simple pleasure, yogurt and rice is the greatest of combinations :-).


Now for the Idlis, it is made just like regular idlis, just that I substitute red rice for white rice.
  • Sri Lankan red rice  - 3/4 cup 
  • Idli rice - 1/4 cup
  • Whole urad dal - 1/3 cup
  • Sea Salt as per taste

  • Soak rice and urud dal separately for about 6 hours. 
  • Drain urad dal completely and start grinding in your wet grinder or high speed blender (I use Vitamix). Add few tablespoons of water through the grinding to aid the grinding. Once finely ground, transfer to a bowl. 
  • Grind rice with adding enough water and salt to make a thick batter. Add rice batter to ground urud dal and mix well.
  • Keep the batter in a warm place for 6-8 hours till fermented well. You can judge this when the batter has risen to approximately double its volume. I keep my batter inside my oven and keep it warm at the lowest temperature setting in winter months. 
  • Grease Idli moulds with coconut oil and pour 3/4 full in each mould and steam for 10-12 minutes
  • Serve with spicy Tomato chutney :-)


February 2, 2013

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Soup and salad is our regular lunch these days. Some days I look at my son's school lunch menu and I try to make the same thing at home. This is a recipe from Vitamix cookbook which calls for heavy cream. I cannot justify having a cup of heavy cream as part of soup that is supposed to be nutritious and healthy, so I am substituting it with potato or yam.


  • Asparagus - 15 spears
  • Garnet Yam or Potato- 1 medium
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • Green chilly - 1
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Vegetable broth* - 2 cups



  • Peel and cube potato/yam and boil them, no need to overcook, we are going to puree it.
  • Dice the onion. Remove the bottom 2 inches. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
  • Cook the asparagus, green chilly and diced onion in vegetable broth, again no need to over cook, just wilt the veggies.
  • Reserve few pieces of asparagus. Add everything else to blender and puree. Add salt and adjust taste.  Add the reserved asparagus pieces and serve warm.





* I usually make my vegetable broth from my left over vegetables from the week. Since I did not have it this time, I simmered the bottom portion of asparagus in 2 cups of water for 10-15 minutes and strained it.