July 26, 2013

Wild Rice & Moong Dhokla w/ Roasted Garlic Tomato Basil Soup

Today morning, when I soaked wild rice and moong, I had not decided what to make with it.  I was planning to make something to go with my Roasted Garlic Tomato Basil Soup. Then I remembered a long pending trial (of making Dhokla) and decided today is Dhokla day:).

Dhokla is a Gujarati steamed dish made with fermented batter and one or more types of lentils. The varieties I have tasted at restaurants or at pot-lucks are made with either store bought Dhokla mixes or with chickpea flour. I don't buy any store bought mixes for sure, and I also restrict the kinds of prepared flours that I buy. I try to make flours myself as much as possible. I also believe in the nutritional benefits of soaking and sprouting whole grains and lentils, as they will be more alive as they sprout, which will bring out more live enzymes and nutrients. Hence try to make use of soaking as much as possible and then grinding to make my batter.

I have seen a bunch of recipes which make Dhokla from scratch using one or more lentils, or a combination of lentils and rice. I tried something in that line using wild rice and whole moong and the result was pretty impressive. And of course, I served it with the Roasted Garlic Tomato Basil Soup as planned :)

Wild Rice & Moong Dhokla

For the batter:
  • Wild rice - 1/2 cup (soaked for about 4+ hours) (I use Lundberg brand Wild Rice Blend)
  • Whole moong - 1/2 cup (soaked for about 4+ hours)
  • Homemade yogurt - 1/2 cup 
  • Sea salt as per taste
  • Fresh ginger - 1 inch long piece
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
For garnish:
  • Lime -1 (cut into wedges)
  • Cilantro - 1/2 cup chopped

Optional for tempering:
  • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp

  • Drain rice and moong and grind into a batter adding the yogurt and salt. Keep aside for 6-8 hours for fermenting.
  • Just before making Dhokla crush the ginger and green chilly and mix into the batter. Also mix in the baking soda.
  • Grease a round 6 inch plate (or cake pan) with a bit coconut oil and pour the batter and steam it for about 15 minutes or until a knife test comes out clean.
  • Once you take out the Dhokla from the steamer, squeeze fresh lime on top and add chopped cilantro.
  • Let it cool for 10-15 minutes and slice into wedges and serve.

Roasted Garlic Tomato Basil Soup

  • Tomato - 6-8 (I used Campari )
  • Garlic - 3-4 cloves
  • Homemade vegetable broth - 3 cups 
  • Basil leaves - handful
  • Bay leaves -2 small
  • Red chilly - 1
  • Black pepper cons - 10
  • Coconut oil - 1 tsp.
  • Sea salt as per taste

  • Heat coconut oil in a sauce pan or soup pot and roast garlic till slightly browned.
  • Add red chilly, pepper, halved tomatoes and sauté for a minute or so.
  • Add this along with the broth to a high speed blender jar and purée till smooth.
  • Transfer back to the soup pot, add bay leaves and basil leaves. Simmer or medium heat for 5 -10 minutes till all flavors mix really well.
  • Remove bay leaves before serving. Optionally add freshly squeezed lime juice and enjoy !!

July 23, 2013

Bulgur Wheat - Green Tomato Salad w/ Quick Avocado-Lime Dressing.

Green tomatoes are very 'summer-like'. As soon as I saw some at our local farmer's market, I bought them, as I wanted to make a summer salad. I also have two tomato plants in my modest patio garden, of which one is taking forever to ripen. So I might lose my patience and pick them too soon :-)

I love eating bulgur wheat. Just remember to soak it the previous night and you'll have it ready to make salad with the next day. This is a very simple and flexible salad with bulgur. You can also replace bulgur with quinoa or millet if you want a gluten free version. To complement this salad, I made a quick and simple dressing with avocado, jalapeño and lime.

  • Bulgur wheat - 1/2 cup -soaked over night
  • Green tomatoes - 2 - large
  • Jalapeño - 1-2
  • Cucumber - 1 small
  • Avocado - 1
  • Spinach -  2 cups
  • Fresh basil - 1/2 cup
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Fresh lime juice - from half of a lime
  • Virgin coconut oil - to drizzle

  • Slice each green tomato into about 8 slices. Slit open jalapeños. Spread both on a baking sheet with drizzled coconut oil and broil at 450 deg on your toaster oven for about 10-12 minutes.

  • Drain any excess water from bulgur.
  • Chop spinach, basil, cucumber and broiled tomatoes. Toss with drained bulgur and set aside.
  • Finely chop the broiled jalapeños. Mash the avocado meat with back of a fork and mix with chopped jalapeños, salt and lime juice. This is your quick avocado-lime dressing :-) 
  • Serve the salad with the dressing on the side.

July 20, 2013

Carrot-Apple-Cocoa 'Cake' with Cashew Orange Cream

Carrot cake must be one of the most tried out and tweaked recipes in my kitchen. That was when we were not so 'careful' about the ingredients used in our cooking. Even when we were not into our new normal (the healthy, wholesome lifestyle), I have always tried my best to make my carrot cakes healthier, by making it egg-less, dairy free, refined-sugar free and refined-flour free. I believe that carrot has its own crunchiness, flavor, juices, and natural sweetness. We just need to add a few ingredients to complement these without loosing any flavor or sweetness. That is what I have tried. The idea is nothing new to the raw food world, but I would personally rank this as one of the best raw desserts I have made. You can think of it as a fusion between carrot cake and carrot halwa. In a way, you can say that the 'East meets west in the raw food world' :-)

Carrot-Apple-Cocoa 'Cake'

  • Organic carrots - 2-3 
  • Organic raw almonds -  1/2 cup 
  • Organic Apple - 1
  • Organic raw cocoa powder - 2 Tbs.
  • Medjool dates - 4-5 -soaked for 10-15 minutes
  • Cinnamon powder - 1 tspn
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch

  • Chop carrots to very fine (almost powder) using a food prep or VitaMix on low speed. You should have about a cup of carrot chopped.
  • Powder almonds in a dry blender, food prep or coffee grinder. You just need like almond meal consistency.
  • Add apple, soaked dates, cocoa, cinnamon and salt into a blender and blend well to get a puree of 'apple sauce' consistency.
  • Mix the carrots, 'apple sauce' and 'almond meal' well.
  • Grease a 4 inch spring form pan with a pat of coconut oil and fill the carrot mixture. Keep in the freezer for couple of hours.

Cashew Orange Cream:

  • Raw cashew nuts - 1/4 cup (Soaked for couple of hours)
  • Orange juice - from half an orange
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Raw honey - 1 Tbs. 
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch

  • Blend everything till smooth and creamy. Keep refrigerated while your 'cake' is being set in the freezer.
  • Once the cake is set in the refrigerator for couple of hours, you can spread the cashew orange cream and keep it back in the freezer for 30 minutes more.
  • You don't want everything to freeze like a frozen treat. This is just to 'set it' so that you can cut and slice like a cake, but it is still soft and spoonable :-)
  • Enjoy!!

You have to excuse me for the 'not so good' pictures :-{ We were all so eagerly wanting to try it, so did not have the patience to take nicer pictures. Maybe the next time.. that might be soon :-)

July 17, 2013

Nutty Cocoa Munchkins (Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free)

My son called these munchkins. These are small energy balls packed with wholesome, organic, plant based, raw ingredients and can be put together in less than 10 minutes, while staying well on the shelf or refrigerated for a week or so. These are good alternatives to any store bought munchkins or snack bites.  Now if you are thinking that you can buy those organic, raw energy bars, I would say these would work much better economically as well :-)

I make batches of these munchkins/energy balls most weekends, varying the nut proportions and flavors, so that my son has a nutritious and tasty snack after coming back in the evening from school or the summer camp. He loves to have this with his serving of organic homemade almond milk.

  1. Raw almonds - 1/4 cup
  2. Raw shredded coconut - 1/4 cup 
  3. Raw sunflower seeds - 1/4 cup
  4. Raw peanuts - 1/4 cup
  5. Raw goji berries - 2 Tbs.
  6. Chia seeds - 1 Tbs.
  7. Himalayan salt - a pinch
  8. Raw cocoa powder - 2 Tbs
  9. Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp
  10. Medjool dates - 5 
  • Add ingredients 1 thru 7 into a dry blender or food processor and start pulsing on medium speed till you get a everything ground coarsely.
  • Remove half of the nut mixture to a bowl and reserve.
  • Add dates, cinnamon, cocoa to the remaining half and continue pulsing on medium speed till dates are mashed well and everything starts to bind together.
  • Transfer everything to the bowl with the reserved nut mixture and mix well with your hand or a wooden spoon.
  • Make walnut sized balls/munchkins. This makes about 15 munchkins. Store in airtight containers. Can be stored on the shelf or refrigerated if you prefer them chilled. 

Disclaimer: The name munchkins just means they are tiny and does not have any resemblance in taste or ingredients to the Dunkin Donuts' munchkins. I am embarrassed to admit that I used to buy them as treats for my son long back, before we became more aware of the food around us and turned to our now healthy lifestyle :-(.

Submitting this to Raw Foods Thursdays

July 14, 2013

Patra Reinvented In a New England Malayali Kitchen

The most recent food find in our kitchen is the use of collard greens as steamer to replace banana leaves. While I was growing up in Kerala, there were many dishes that were made using banana leaves. Banana leaves were used for multiple purposes. Sometimes banana leaf would act as a liner for the steaming vessel, and times rice dough is spread on banana leaf to make steamed dumplings (Ilayada). Some other times we make a basket out of banana leaves and pour fermented rice-lentil batter, and steam to make the steamed rice cakes. We recently thought of using collard leaves for some of these recipes. Every week we get fresh bunches of organic collard leaves from our local farmer's market. So I am exploring possibilities to use collard leaves this way. The advantage of using collard leaves is that the leaf itself is edible :).

The recipe for today though interestingly is not something from Kerala, but is something inspired from a Gujarati recipe. This is Patra reinvented in my kitchen. Patra is something I had tasted at the international family festival in my son's school. The original recipe is made by spreading spiced chickpea batter on Colocasia leaves and steaming them.

Here's the recipe for the reinvented version using spiced brown rice batter on collard leaves.

  • Organic collard greens - 1 bunch ( about 12 leaves)
  • Organic brown rice - 1 cup soaked for 6-8 hours
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tspn
  • Asafoetida - a pinch
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tspn
  • Sea salt - as per taste

  • Drain and grind the rice with salt, and green chilly adding very little water ( just enough for the blender to run).
  • Add salt and the spices and mix well.
  • Wash the collard greens and wipe them with a kitchen towel.
  • Spread one collard leaf with ribbed face up. Take about 2-3 tablespoons of the rice batter and spread evenly on the leaf. Spread one more leaf on top of the first one and repeat the same.
  • Fold from 2 sides and roll as tightly as you can.
  • Repeat with the rest of the leaves and batter.
  • Meanwhile keep a steamer or pasta boiler ready with water boiling.

  • Steam the rolled collard leaves for about 10 minutes.
  • Let it cool down a little bit before slicing.
  • Slice them into 1/2 inch slices. Serve with coconut chutney.

  • July 12, 2013

    Millet Dosa (Crepe) Wraps

    Being summer time, my son needs packed lunches for his summer camp, so for me it is also the time when I have to come up with new lunchbox ideas. I want to send him food that is satisfying, nutritious, interesting for him, and at the same time should have the convenience of an easy packed lunch. So here is something new that I have added to that menu.

    I used to send him Chapati wraps (whole wheat rotis) in previous years. These days we are trying to avoid gluten from our diet as much as possible, so I wanted to substitute the whole wheat chapatis with a gluten free option. This is basically dosa wraps, just that the dosa is made with millet as it provides firmness to the dosa, which is essential for a wrap, along with all the nutritional benefits of millet.

    I generally make a spread or chutney, and add some greens, or roasted veggies to make my wrap. I am adding the basic spread and greens recipe below, but this can really be customized. Spinach generally goes very well with this wrap, it can be added to the spread as well as to the wrap. Wilted kale or fenugreek (methi) leaves would be great too.

    Millet Dosa (Crepe):

    • Pearl Millet - 1/2 cup
    • Idli rice - 2 Tbs.
    • Brown rice - 2 Tbs.
    • Whole urud - 3 Tbs.
    • Methi seeds - 1 Tbs.
    • Soak urud and methi seeds together and millet and rice together for 3-4 hours.
    • Drain urud/methi and grind in a wet grinder or blender by sprinkling very little water. Grind till very fine and transfer to a bowl.
    • Drain millet/rice and grind by sprinkling water. Grind till you get a fine batter. Add to the ground urud and mix well.
    • Add extra water if needed and salt and keep aside for 6-8 hours for fermentation.
    • You will know if fermented just enough, when the batter has risen to about an inch from the original level.
    • When ready to make, you could add extra water if needed, you need pancake batter consistency.
    • Heat the griddle, wipe with a little coconut oil and spread about 1/4 cup of batter and spread it like a dosa/crepe.
    • When you feel that the dosa/crepe is nice and firm (in about 30 seconds) slowly lift from all sides and flip. Cook for about 30 seconds more on the other side.
    • Repeat with the remaining batter. Wipe griddle with coconut oil in between each dosa/crepe.
    • This will make about 8 dosas/crepes.  

    Spinach Pumpkin Seed Spread:

    • Spinach - 1 cup 
    • Pumpkin seeds - 3 Tbs.
    • Ginger - 1-2 cloves 
    • Cilantro - 1/2 cup -chopped
    • Shredded coconut -2 Tbs (optional)
    • Green chilly - 1 (optional)
    • Sea salt - as per taste 
    • Lemon Juice- 2 Tbs.
    • Blend everything to a fine spread/chutney consistency. You need a thick spread, so add water only if absolutely necessary to run the blender.


    • Any greens (Methi leaves, Spinach, Kale) - 2 cups (chopped) 
    • Green peas - 1/2 cup (Optional)
    • Red onion - 1 ()
    • Sea  salt a pinch
    • Virgin coconut oil - 1 tsp
    • Heat coconut oil and saute onion till the raw smell goes away.
    • Add green peas (if using) and cook for a minute or so (they cook really fast).
    • Add chopped greens and stir quickly so that the greens just wilt and remove from flame.

    July 9, 2013

    Spicy-Pistachio-Goji Berry Energy Balls (Raw-Vegan)

    This is another variation of the energy balls that I had posted before. The highlight in this one is the combination of goji berries and red chilly pepper. The hot, red chilly goes very well with the sweet'n'sour goji berries, but you could also be creative and try other spices. I am sure ginger or nutmeg would work very well too. I myself, might just take a handful of goji berries and munch on them while I am reading or cooking, but this way the whole family is eating them too, and they should because goji berries are so good for everyone.

    • Organic raw pistachio   - 1/2 cup (shelled) 
    • Organic raw sunflower seeds - 1/2 cup
    • Organic raw goji berries - 1/4 cup 
    • Red chilly pepper -1-2 (I use the Thai hot variety, adjust based on spice level)
    • Mejdool dates - 5 
    • Himalayan salt - a pinch

    • Add the nuts/seeds and goji berries to a dry blender (or food processor) and pulse on low speed till everything very coarsely pulsed.
    • Remove half of the coarse ground mixture and transfer to a bowl.
    • Continue pulsing the other half on high speed till it resembles a coarse meal.
    • Add pitted dates and continue pulsing till dates are mashed and everything starts to bind together. 
    • Transfer to the bowl and mix with the reserved coarse ground mixture. You will be able to work with your hand or a wooden spoon to mix and bind everything well to form a 'dough'.
    • Make small walnut sized balls from this 'dough. This makes about 12 balls. 
    • These stay on the shelf for up to a week without a problem.

    Note: If you do not have a dry blender or a food processor, you can make this even with a coffee/spice grinder. Pulse the nuts/seeds in the coffee grinder, mash the dates using the back of a fork, and mix everything together in a bowl.. simple huh!!

    July 7, 2013

    Ambrosia Fruit Salad (Raw-Vegan)

    The name 'Ambrosia' sounds very divine and soulful, and translates to the 'food of gods'. Still, I never thought of making an Ambrosia Fruit Salad because of the ingredients that a goes into one. If you look up for Ambrosia salad on the web, you will find everything from whipped cream, marshmallows to loads of refined sugar as part of the ingredients, the gods would run away seeing that :).

    When I found one of the fellow bloggers Quincy@Shugurcan posted a raw-vegan ambrosia sometime back, that sounded really interesting and it called for only wholesome and light ingredients. That is how I decided to make it and now it is on our breakfast menu. Yes, breakfast !! I believe that if we use the right kind of organic, wholesome, plant based ingredients which include good fats, good sweeteners and contains mostly fruits, then yes, why not have the dessert for breakfast :-)

    • Organic pineapple - 1/2
    • Organic apple -1
    • Oranges - 2
    • Organic raw cashew nuts - 1/4 cup (Soaked for few hours or overnight)
    • Organic  raw sunflower seeds - 1/4 cup (Soaked for few hours or overnight)
    • Raw honey - 2 Tbs. (or other vegan sweetener)
    • Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
    • Organic banana - 1 (preferably sliced and frozen)
    • Organic blueberries - 1/2 cup (optional for decorating)
    • Organic raspberries - 1 cup   (optional for decorating)

    • Take juice from one orange.
    • Peel the other orange using a knife and make orange slices without the white part.
    • Remove the skin and core from pineapple and chop to tiny bites.
    • Chop apples to tiny bites.
    • Toss the fruits with orange juice and set aside or keep refrigerated while you prepare the 'cream'.
    • To make the 'cream', add the soaked drained nuts/seeds, frozen banana slices and honey into a blender and blend till you get a nice and smooth 'cream'. 
    • Layer the fruits (mixed earlier) in any right sized serving dish. Spread the 'cream' on top. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top. Decorate with berries/orange slices. I made this last for July 4th and decorated as US flag :-)

    July 1, 2013

    Lavender Coconut Milk Ice-cream

    Guess what we got from Guy's Eco-Garden this weekend? My first bunch of organic Lavender. I was so excited on getting it, what a pleasant fragrance it had. When we visited the farm a few weeks ago, the lavender was still on the fields and they looked so good on the field. Guy had told us those were edible and that we would be getting them for sale in a few weeks time.

    The lady from the farm suggested that I could make lavender cookies and I looked around on the web for other ideas too. There are a lot of cheesecakes, cakes and cookies in both vegan and diary versions. I wanted to pair it with something I was comfortable with and that is how this idea of bringing together the Asian and European flavors came to my mind. The result was a very flavorful, tasty and aromatic ice-cream that is pleasing to the eye, nose and tongue. This is a light ice-cream which could be enjoyed on a summer day :-).

    • Homemade coconut milk- 2 cups
    • Fresh/Dry organic lavender flowers - 2 Tbs.
    • Organic banana - 1 
    • Raw honey - 2 Tbs.

    • Add everything to high speed blender and puree till nice and smooth. 
    • Transfer to a freezer safe container and keep in the freezer for 3-4 hours. It should be frozen half way thru.
    • Take out from freezer and add everything back to the blender and process in low speed for 30-40 seconds or till creamy. 
    • Keep it back in the freezer for another 3-4 hours. It will be about 3/4th frozen.
    • Take out from freezer and add everything back to the blender and process again in low speed for 30-40 seconds or till creamy. 
    • Keep it back in the freezer for another 3-4 hours or till frozen completely.
    • Scoop out into ice cream cups and serve. Enjoy !

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