Pearl Couscous with Vegetables

In this version of pasta, I have used Israeli couscous, which is a small variety of pasta but looks like a grain/ tapioca/ sabudana. This variety of pasta is delicious as a main course when loaded with vegetables and pasta sauce. I have tried the same recipe with pesto sauce and it taste delicious.

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Ingredients: Serves 2
Israeli pearl couscous – 1 cup
Homemade Pasta Sauce / Store bought – 4 tablespoon
Broccoli florets – ½ cup
Shredded Broccoli Stems, Carrots – ½ cup
Green Bell Pepper/ Capsicum cut into strips – ½ cup
Chopped Onions – ½ cup
Garlic – 2 cloves
Crushed Italian herbs – ¼ teaspoon
Pepper – as per taste
Salt – as per taste
Nutritional Yeast / Parmesan cheese – as needed
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

Method:
1. To prepare the couscous pasta, first boil the couscous as per the packet instructions.

Dry Pearl CousCOus

2. The above is the pic of the dry couscous before cooking.

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3. The above is the pic of the couscous after cooking.
4. In a deep pan add 1 tablespoon of oil and add finally grated / chopped garlic and stir for 1 minute. During this process the garlic flavors the oil well.
5. Now, add in the vegetables and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes till the vegetables are almost half cooked but still retains its crunchiness.

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6. Add in 4 tablespoon of pasta sauce, herbs, pepper and salt. Stir for 2 minutes. At this time if the sauce is dry, you can add few tablespoon of water. Do a taste test to see, if the salt and pepper is fine.

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7. Now, add in the cooked couscous and mix well. Sprinkle some nutritional yeast/ parmesan cheese and serve Hot. It’s a meal in itself.

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Note:
1. Feel free to use any type of pasta for the same recipe.
2. Nutritional yeast taste like cheese and can be a healthy substitute to regular cheese which is loaded with calories. Nutritional yeast is a good source of protein.
3. You can add in as many vegetables you like.
4. Sprouts can also be added to increase the protein intake
5. I would be posting soon the recipe of my homemade pasta sauce.

Vegetable Oats Ragi Rava Dhoklas (Savory Cakes)

These Dhoklas are a healthy swap from the traditionally made semolina dhoklas that is made with just semolina. These dhoklas are prepared with Ragi / Finger Millet flour along with grounded Oats powder and combined with Semolina. The reason behind adding Ragi is that it is loaded with calcium, fiber, protein and helps lowering cholesterol levels. Oats are loaded with dietary fiber, help in lowering cholesterol levels and also keeps you full for a while. I have also added vegetables to increase the nutritive value of the recipe further. It’s a simple recipe which can be served for breakfast or anytime you feel like having healthy.

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Ingredients: Serves 3
Roasted Rava / Sooji / Semolina – ½ cup
Finger Millet / Ragi Flour – 1 cup
Oats Powder – ½  cup (powder the oats in a  spice blender)
Salt – 1 teaspoon (as per taste)
Crushed green chilli – 1
Ginger grated – 1 teaspoon
Yogurt – ½ cup
Water – as needed to make the batter
Veggies – 1 cup (grated carrots, shredded spinach, onions, boiled crushed peas)
Eno Fruit Salt – 1 tablespoon
Olive Oil/ Vegetable Oil – 3 teaspoon
For Tempering – 1 teaspoon Olive Oil / Vegetable Oil
Mustard Seeds – ½ teaspoon
Red Chilies – 2
Curry Leaves – 4 to 5 leaves
Sesame Seeds – 1 teaspoon
Chopped Coriander leaves – for garnishing

Method :

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  1. To begin making the recipe, in a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients that is oats powder, semolina, ragi flour, salt, yogurt, 1 teaspoon oil and water to make a thick batter. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Make a paste of the green chilli and ginger by grinding it in a blender or a pestle and motor.

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3.To cook the veggies, in a pan/skillet add 1 teaspoon of oil and after the oil heats up add the onions, shredded spinach, grated carrots, boiled crushed peas and the ginger chilli paste and saute/ stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Keep aside.

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4. The Eno fruit salt should be mixed in well , or else the dhokla texture will be uneven.

5. While mixing the Eno fruit salt the batter will become little frothy and bubbly, so don’t worry. The reason for adding the Eno fruit salt is because it gives the dhokla soft and fluffy texture.

6. Prepare the steamer / pressure cooker (please do not use the pressure whistle of the cooker during the steaming process) by pouring water and preheating it on medium heat.

7. Grease the dhokla pans with a teaspoon of oil well on all the sides and pour the above batter into the pan until half full.

8. Depending on the size of the pan you can pour the batter. My pan is big so I poured the entire batter in the same pan. If your pan is small you can pour in two separate pans and steam one above the other.

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9. Cover and let it steam for about 20 to 25 minutes until a tester / tooth pick/ knife, when inserted comes out clean.

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10. Turn the heat off, remove the stand from the steamer / pressure cooker and allow it to rest for a couple of minutes before cutting.Now, cut the dhoklas in squares /diamonds or any shape you like.

11. For tempering, heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a small pan on medium heat add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, sesame seeds, red chillies and allow them to crackle. Turn off the heat and spread the tempering over the steamed dhoklas.

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12. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve them with Raw Mango Peanut chutney/ dip or any chutney you like.

Note:
The recipe for the Raw Mango Chutney can be viewed in the chutney / dip section
The recipe can also be made traditionally by using Chickpea / Besan flour.
Eno Fruit salt can be found in Indian grocery stores.
Dhokla Steamers can be bought at any Indian Grocery stores or at http://www.amazon.com

Raw Mango Peanut Chutney / Dip

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Ingredients:
Raw Mango – 1 large or 2 small
Chopped Coriander leaves – 1 cup
Chopped Mint leaves – ½ cup
Skinless peanuts – ½ cup
Asafoetida / Hing – less than ¼ teaspoon or just a pinch
Salt – ½ teaspoon or as per taste
Black salt – ½ teaspoon or as per taste
Ginger piece – 1 small piece or when grated 1 teaspoon
Roasted Cumin / Jeera powder – 1 teaspoon
Green Chillies – 2 to 3 depending on how spicy you want.
Water – needed little for grinding

Method:

  1. To prepare the chutney, first peel off the skin of the raw mango and cut them into small pieces discarding the seed.
  2. To remove the skin of the peanuts:
  • Soak the peanuts in sufficient luke warm water for 30 minutes.
  • During the soaking period the peanuts will expand a bit in size as it absorbs the water.
  • After the soaking period, you can now easily slip the skin off with the fingers.
  1. In a Mixer / Blender add the chopped mango, coriander, mint, peanuts, hing, salt, black salt, ginger, cumin powder, green chillies and 2 to 2 teaspoon of water and grind well.
  2. Check the consistency of the chutney and add more water if needed for further grinding.
  3. Do a salt and spice taste and when everything fine, the chutney is ready to serve.
  4. This chutney can be served along with Dhoklas, Samosas, on Sandwiches, pakoras and many more dishes.

Note:
Skinless Peanuts are available in any grocery stores and can be used for this recipe.

No Grain Lasagna (with an Indian twist)

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Traditionally lasagna is made with all purpose flour/ maida noodle sheets, which adds up too many calories and makes you feel guilty after enjoying a bite. After reading lot of recipes online and trying out few of them myself, I came out with this recipe which is an absolute favorite in my family.Why? Because it is amazingly delicious, flavorful and it is definitely not full of carbs and fatty fats like the traditional lasagna recipes.
I have replaced the lasagna sheets with sliced zucchini & being an Indian myself, I thought of giving an Indian twist by using Pav Bhaji masala/ spice powder for the sauce. I have used Nutritional yeast which taste much like cheese in the second layer to cut down the fat and calories from the traditional cheese.
I am sure you will love this vegetarian, gluten-free & low cal lasagna.

Ingredients: Serves 3

Zucchini thinly sliced – 2 medium
Medium size Onion thinly sliced – 1
Colored Bell Peppers / Capsicums thinly sliced – 1 cup
Shredded Spinach – 1 cup
Extra firm Tofu thinly sliced – 1 cup
Crushed Large tomatoes with few tomato chunks to make the sauce – 3 or (28 oz can crushed tomatoes with the juice)
Shredded Cheese – 1 cup (depending on how cheesy you want)
Nutritional Yeast – 1/4th cup (optional)
Garlic cloves grated – 2 large
Ginger grated – 1 small piece
Indian Pav Bhaji Masala – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Red Chili/ Paprika/ Pepper powder to taste
Olive Oil – 3 tbsp (1 tbsp each to make sauce, stir fry veggies & coat the baking pan)

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Method:
To make the Tomato Sauce:
In a deep pan/ skillet add oil and when heated add the grated ginger & garlic and saute/ stir for sometime so that the flavors get infused in the oil. Then add the crushed tomatoes with few tomato chunks, salt, chili powder, pav bhaji masala and stir/ saute well and keep cooking till all the spices / masalas are well mixed. Keep aside.

To stir fry/saute tofu:
After making the sauce do not clean the pan/ skillet. In the same pan saute the tofu so that they absorb all the remaining flavors.

To make the stir fry/ saute veggies:
In a pan/ skillet add a tbsp of olive oil and when hot stir fry the onions, bell peppers/ capsicum, spinach with some salt & pepper till the veggies are half cooked and the raw smell has gone. Keep aside.

To layer the Zucchini and other ingredients:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 Cel approx.)
  2. Coat 1 tbsp of olive oil well in a 9×5 bread loaf pan or a small casserole.
  3. Spread the made tomato sauce on bottom.
  4. Layer 3 to 4 zucchini slices to cover the sauce.
  5. Spread some sauce on the zucchini slices & top it up with stir fry veggies, tofu slices and cheese.

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6.Repeat the layers until all your ingredients are fully used up.
7.On the final layer top with sauce and cheese.

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8. Bake for 50 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered.
9. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

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Note:
Pav Bhaji Spice Powder can be found in Indian/Asian grocery stores.

Instead of pav bhaji masala, you can also make the sauce with some pepper, salt, garlic powder and Italian herbs.

In the second layer I put nutritional yeast since I wanted to cut down on calories from the cheese. But you can avoid nutritional yeast and add cheese only if you like it.

Veggie Lettuce Boats

“Healthy & satisfies your taste buds”

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Ingredients:
Romaine Lettuce/Iceberg Lettuce/Cabbage leaves – 2 heads
Extra firm Tofu cubes – 1 cup
Colored Bell peppers/capsicums thinly sliced – 1 cup
Broccoli slaw – 1 cup
Shredded spinach leaves – 1 cup
Black beans/Kidney beans/canned beans – 1 cup
Chopped onions for the beans – ½ cup
Homemade red chili garlic sauce/chutney – as per taste
Nutritional Yeast / shredded cheese –  as per taste (I prefer nutritional yeast since it taste like cheese and its very less in calories and more in protein)
Roasted cumin (jeera) & coriander (dhania) powder – 1 tbsp for the beans
Salt – as per taste
Pepper – as per taste (for tofu)
Minced garlic for the beans– 1 tsp
Red chili / paprika powder for the beans – as per taste
Olive oil for the beans – 2 tsp ( for beans) 1 tsp (for tofu)
Water – 2 cups (depending on how dry or gravy you like)

Method:
To cook the beans:
Soak the beans overnight in enough water or minimum 4 hours in hot water. If using canned cooked beans no need to soak you can straight away use them after draining the water. After soaking the beans drain off the excess water and in a pressure cooker add the oil and when the oil is hot add the onions, minced garlic and saute / stir in for 2-3 mins till the onions become soft. Now, add in the beans (I used black beans), cumin-coriander powder, salt, chili powder, 2 cups water and pressure cook for 2 whistle and then reduce the heat to the lowest and cook for 25 mins. After the pressure is completely released, you can open the cooker and adjust the water and spices if needed.

To make stir fry tofu:

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Drain of the water from the tofu and pat dry the tofu with a kitchen tissue. Cut the tofu in cubes and coat the pepper and salt well on it. Keep aside for 10 mins till the tofu soaks in all the flavors.
In a pan stir fry the tofu till brown on all the sides.

To make the Red chili Garlic sauce/chutney:
Ingredients:
Seeded Red chili – 10
Garlic cloves – 10
Roasted Cumin (jeera) powder – 1 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
Method:
Soak the red chili, garlic in 1 cup of water for 30 mins. Drain the water. Now, in a mixer/blender/spice grinder add the red chilies, garlic, cumin powder, salt, lemon juice and grind to a fine paste. Add water if needed to adjust the consistency. Use as required.

Method to serve the veggie lettuce boats:

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Separate the leaves from the lettuce, place them in a platter and place the shredded spinach, broccoli slaw, bell peppers/capsicums, cheese, tofu cubes, cooked beans in individual bowls.
Allow the family to make their own lettuce boats. I usually make my boat with spinach then beans, tofu and top it up with broccoli slaw, bell peppers and finally sprinkle some nutritional yeast.
These make healthy appetizers for parties but at times when I want to go light at night, I have them for dinner.

Note:
Broccoli slaw can be store bought or you can make you own slaw by thinly shredding the stems of the broccoli.
You can add any vegetables of your choice. Go creative.

Raw Mango Drink ( Aam Ka Panna – Summer Cooler)

Raw Mango Drink -Aam Panna

This is a summer cooler and helps greatly in beating the heat in summers. At home we avoid the unhealthy Fizz drinks and try to use natural ingredients gifted by mother nature like watermelons, coconuts, melons, cucumber, lemons since all these fruits are natural cooling agents.

Ingredients : Makes 1 ltr (1000 ml bottle ) Serves 3-4
Raw Mango – 1 large or 2 medium sized
Crushed Powdered Cardamoms – 2-3
Roasted Cumin (Jeera) Powder – ¼  tsp
Black Pepper Powder – ¼ tsp (as per your taste)
Black Salt / Rock Salt – ¼ tsp  ( as per your taste)
Organic Powdered Jaggery/Sugar – ½ cup …add more for more sweetness

Method:
Wash the raw mangoes well in water. Steam the raw mangoes in pressure cooker for 3-4 whistles till they become completely soft and it becomes easy to peel off the skin. If you do not have access to pressure cooker, you can also cut the raw mangoes into pieces and boil them in a pan and then remove the skin. Discard the seed.
Now, blend the mango pulp, cardamom, roasted cumin, pepper, salt and jaggery to a smooth paste.
Add 3-4 glasses and water to the paste and mix well. Pour in a bottle and chill till further use.
Serve the Raw Mango/Aam ka Panna drink cold.

Note:
2nd method:
Instead of adding water to the blended paste, you can store the mango blend paste in an air tight bottle like a concentrate/preserve and before serving, add 1 tbsp of the preserve to one glass of water. Stir well and add ice cubes.

Benefits:
Jaggery is a better substitute for sugar since it gives an instant iron boost to the body.
Raw mangoes are rich in Vitamin C and Iron.

Raw Banana Quinoa Tikkis (Burger Patty)

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Ingredients : Serves 4

Raw Banana – 2
Cooked Quinoa – 1 cup
Boiled Mixed Veggies – 1 cup
Chopped Spinach – ½ cup
Chickpea Flour/Besan – 3 tbsp
Red Chili Powder – as per taste
Tumeric Powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – ½ tsp
Coriander/Cumin (Jeera) Powder – 1tsp
Salt – as per taste
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Water – little if needed for further kneading
Oil – 1 tsp for kneading
Oil – for shallow frying

Method:
In a large mixing bowl combine the above ingredients  except water and knead well. If the mixture seems dry you can sprinkle some water and knead well.You should be able to shape it up without any cracks on it.

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Now in a deep shallow pan, heat up some oil and fry them till golden brown on both sides.When ready serve them hot – hot with a sauce/chutney of your choice. You can also serve them as a burger patty.

Note:
I have used Raw banana since they are more healthy than potato.
Instead of Quinoa, if you have some left over  cooked rice or flattened  rice (poha) can also be used.
These pattys/tikkis can also be freezed and used later ,maximum within a week.

Chilli Shots

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Ingredients:
Jalapeno Chili **: 10 count (depending on number of serving at least 2 for each)
Red Hot Chili peppers**: 10 count (depending on number of serving at least 2 for each)
Boiled Smashed Sweet Potato – 1 cup
Crumbled Paneer * – 1 cup
Crumbled Feta Cheese * – 1 cup
Pepper – as per taste
Salt – as per taste
Chaat Masala * – as per taste
Chickpea Flour (Besan) / All-purpose flour (Maida) – ½  cup
Water – little to make flour paste/slurry
Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs – 1 cup
Olive oil/Canola Oil – less than ¼ cup (if pan frying)

Method:
Cut the chilies in the center as shown in the photo and completely spoon out the seeds. For the stuffing, in a bowl mix the smashed sweet potato, paneer, cheese, pepper, salt and chaat masala. Fill all the chilies with the stuffing.

Now Preheat the Air fryer/Oven to 390 F (approx. 200 Cel). Now in an oven safe tray brush some olive oil and keep it ready. If using an Air fryer skip the step of oil brushing.In a bowl add the besan/maida and little water and make a thick paste/slurry. Now dip the stuffed chilies one by one into the besan paste and then place it on the bread crumbs and coat it well. Place them on the oven tray. If using Air Fryer place them in the Air fryer basket and brush each chili with olive oil.

Bake it for 15 mins and keep checking in regular intervals to avoid burning the chilies, since some chili variety cook faster than the others. My Air fryer took about 15 mins.Now, Enjoy “Hot –Hot Chili Shots” during tea time and can also be served as a starter.

Note:
Baking time may vary in different oven models. Read the oven manual for further guidance.
If Pan frying, then heat up some oil in a pan and when heated, reduce the heat and place the chilies and fry until golden brown in color or till you get a crispy texture outside.
** You can use any variety of chilies with a hollow round center big enough for stuffing the filling well.
* Chaat Masala & Paneer can be found in any local Indian grocery shop.
* Feta cheese is optional. You can use any cheese variety or can completely avoid it.

Puli Aval/Poha (Tamarind Flattened Rice)

Puli Aval

Ingredients: Serves 2
Poha / Flattened rice– 1 cup
Tamarind/Imli Pulp – 2 tbsp
Mustard Seeds/ Rai dana – 1 tsp
Channa Dal / Bengal gram– 1 tbsp
Urad Dal / Black gram split– 1 tsp
Groundnuts – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – few
Asafoetida / Hing – less than ¼ tsp
Tumeric / Haldi powder – 1 tsp
Salt – as per your taste
Jaggery – 1 tbsp

For Masala :
Dry Red chillis – 2
Black Peppercorns – 5 to 6
Channa Dal / Bengal gram– 1 tsp
Cumin / Jeera seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek / Methi seeds – ½ tsp

Traditional Method :
Roast all the masala ingredients in 1 tsp oil and grind it to a fine powder consistency and keep aside.Now, wash the poha and strain it well and add the tamarind pulp,salt,the dry masala and mix it well.Then in a deep pan/kadai , take oil for tempering and add mustard seeds,hing,channa dal, groundnuts , urad dal and curry leaves. When the seeds crackle add the poha, jaggery and adjust the salt and mix well.Garnish with some coriander leaves.Now enjoy your dish.

Yummy Protein Bars

Yummy Protein Bars (2)

Ingredients:
Rolled Oats – 1 cup
Flax Meal – 1 cup
Almond/Peanut Butter – ½ cup
Dry roasted chopped mixed nuts  – 1 cup (almonds/walnuts/cashews/pecans)
Pitted dates puree – 1 cup (natural sweetener)
Black raisins & Goji berries mix – ½ cup
Whey / Plant protein any flavor– 2 scoops
Almond/Soy Milk – few tbsp needed only to adjust the consistency of the dough/mix

Method:
To make flax meal at home, just dry roast flax seeds and grind them to a fine powder and store in a air tight jar.Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer/food processor or in large bowl. Place a aluminum foil/parchment paper on a flattened dish and spray some olive oil and wipe it off with a kitchen paper. Now place the dough and flatten the mix by using the back of the spoon. Chill overnight or minimum 2 hrs and cut into 12 to 16 bars and pack them in cling wrap as shown in the picture. Store at room temperature or in the lower bottom in the refrigerator. Consume within 2 weeks.

Note:
For more sweetness, honey can be added too.
Flax meals can also be added to smoothies/cereals/oats to  increase the nutritive value of the dish.
These bars are a good time snack for before or after work-outs.
If using normal milk, store them in refrigerator and not at room temperature as their shelf life will reduce.