January 30, 2015

Dhokla From Scratch

Gujarati cuisine is very famous for their snacks and they have powerful names like Dhokla, FafdaKhandvi, Khakhra, etc...:-). Amongst them, Dhokla is one of our favorite as it is steamed and simple. Though I have seen it served as snack in restaurants and potlucks, I also serve it as a breakfast or as a light dinner along with some salad or soup. Most people make it from store bought mixes, while a few do it from besan (channa dal flour). Since I prefer to have my grains and pulses soaked and activated before I use them, I wanted to try and make it completely from scratch. I have been trying this for a while and I am very happy with this recipe. Most dhokla recipes call for Eno fruit salt which is an over the counter antacid used in India and other countries. I did not want to worry about finding the hidden ingredients in Eno (especially because I do not really trust a pharma giant like GlaxoSmithKline).  So, I am just using baking soda and citric acid which are the basic ingredients in eno anyway. Btw, this is one dish that is as easy from scratch as making it from a mix, as always you just need a little bit of planning.

  • Channa dal - 3/4 cup (soaked for 4-8 hours)
  • Raw rice - 1/2 cup (soaked for 4-8 hours)
  • Homemade organic yogurt - 1/2 cup
  • Filtered water - 1/4 cup
  • Green chilly - 2-3
  • Fresh ginger root - 1'' piece
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Preferred unrefined cooking oil - 1 tsp (I use organic EV olive oil) 
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  • Citric acid - 1/4 tsp (or Lemon juice - 1 Tsp)
For garnish: 
  • Preferred unrefined cooking oil - 1 Tbs (I use organic virgin coconut oil) 
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Green chillies - 2-3 (slices)
  • Chopped coriander leaves - 1/4 cup
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice - 1-2 Tbs

  • Drain the dal and the rice, grind with water and yogurt. Add salt and turmeric powder and keep aside for 8 hours or overnight for fermenting. (I added a tablespoon of idli batter as a starter which is my foolproof method to ferment batters in winter) 
  • When you are ready to make dhokla, add minced green chilly and ginger to the batter and mix well.
  • Bring water to a boil in your steamer and grease a dhokla plate* with a pat of coconut oil.
  • Just before you pour the batter for steaming mix baking soda, citric acid and oil and add to the batter. If you are making dhokla in more than one batches, divide the baking soda mix accordingly and add just before you steam. 
  • Pour the batter into prepared plate (fill about 1/2 inch thickness) steam for 12-15 minutes or till a knife test at the center comes out clean. 
  • Let it cool down in the plate itself before you garnish. 
  • For garnish: Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add green chillies and saute till slightly roasted. Garnish over the dhokla. Also add chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice.
  • Cut the garnished dhokla into desired size and shape.
  • Serve just as is or with a coconut mint chutney. 
  • Serves 3 to 4. Enjoy!! 
*Note: Dhokla plate can be any plate (preferably stainless steel) which can be used for steaming. You can also use a cake tin or you can get the whole dhokla steamer set from any Indian grocery store. 

January 29, 2015

Cherry Berry Acai Bowl - Return of the Acai Bowl

The latest news around our block is that there are more and more organic products showing up in our local Costco shelves.  Our newest find is a pack of frozen organic wild blueberries. Organic blueberries are probably the hardest to find in these parts even in summer, forget about the winter time. I am so glad because blueberries are so good for you and they make for some great smoothies. Here is our newest version of the Acai bowl made with blueberries and cherries...a lighter, yummier version of acai bowl breakfast for a busy weekday morning!!

  • Organic blueberries - 1 cup (fresh or frozen)
  • Organic cherries - 1 cup (fresh or frozen)
  • Organic dates - 5-6 
  • Coconut water - 1 cup
  • Home made granola - 1 cup (get recipe here) 
  • Banana - 1 


  • Add everything except banana and granola to a blender and process to get a smoothie.
  • Divide into bowls, serve topped with granola and sliced bananas. 
  • Makes about 3 servings. Enjoy!

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!!

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