One of the nice things that has come out of the pandemic is that I’ve been enjoying monthly video calls with my cousins. Since they also enjoy cooking (and eating!) we share a lot of recipes, recently they shared this tasty and simple, zucchini soup recipe.
It’s not only delicious, but nutritious – my husband even enjoyed the soup!
2 large zucchinis, cut into cubes
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 – 2 garlic cloves, sliced (optional)
1-2 serrano or jalapeno chillies, chopped
1 32-ounce vegetable or chicken stock
1 -2 teaspoons curry powder (or garam masala)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
Heat oil in a saucepan, add the onions and chillies- fry until the onions are translucent.
Add the zucchini cubes and salt; fry for approximately 3-4 minutes.
Add the stock, cover, and cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes until the zucchini is soft.
Turn off the heat and blend using an immersion blender (or regular blender), until you have a thick and creamy consistency
Turn the heat back on and add the curry powder or garam masala, and bring it back to a boil.
Add lemon juice if desired. Garnish with cream or yogurt.
We have leftover rice in our house, quite often. Occasionally we freeze it to use another day, or turn it into another dish. Many of you may use it to make an Asian-style fried rice. In the south of India there are 2 popular rice dishes made using leftover rice – tamarind and lemon. Lemon rice is the simplest to make and can be eaten by itself or with a vegetable or chutney.
The great thing about using leftover rice – it is on the dry side and the rice can be mixed easily. If you don’t have precooked rice, simply make sure the rice is refrigerated – its best to use when it is cold and not mushy!
Nuts are optional but give the dish a nice added crunch!
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup peanuts or raw cashew nuts
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
1 dry red chili
1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked rice
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Heat a tablespoon of oil and saute the nuts until lightly brown. Set aside.
Heat another tablespoon of oil, and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start popping add the urad dal and the dry chili. As the urad dal turns light brown, add the ginger and curry leaves and stir over medium heat. Add the turmeric and salt.
Stir in the cooked rice and mix well. Add the lemon juice and cilantro leaves, and stir until combined.
Garnish with nuts. Best eaten at room temperature.
On one of my many trips visiting my daughter in NYC, we went to S’Mac – a restaurant dedicated to mac and cheese! The location in her neighborhood closed down unfortunately but there’s still a location on the LES (Lower East Side). 10+ years later, I still remember the Masala Mac infused with spices- delicious!
Since my daughter moved to Baltimore years ago and I don’t visit NYC as often, I thought I would try to recreate the dish!
Change the spices and flavorings to create your own favorite version … using a combination of taco seasoning, Mexican chili powder, hatch green chili, jalapeño and corn, create a Mexican version of Mac and cheese.. Feel free to experiment with other cheeses like Pepper Jack or Colby Jack.
2 cups elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely diced red pepper
1 green chillies, chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped, set aside a little for garnish
3 tablespoons butter, separated
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups warm milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
Boil the macaroni (al dente) according to the directions on the packet. Drain and set aside
Heat oil in a saucepan, add the onion and red pepper, saute for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the green chili, ginger and garlic and stir on low heat for about a minute.
Add the tomato, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt, stir till combined. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes Remove from heat and set aside.
In another saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons butter and when foamy add the flour and keep mixing for about a minute. Gradually add the milk and when the sauce is smooth, stir occasionally until thick and bubbly.
Add the cooked pasta, cheese and the tomato spice mixture; mix until the cheese is melted.
Pour into a greased 8″ x 8″ square glass dish or a 2 quart glass dish.
In a small pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter – mix in the dry breadcrumbs.
Add breadcrumb mixture evenly over the Mac and Cheese.
Bake at 400 for 5 mins until the breadcrumbs are brown. Garnish with cilantro.
Did you know…. chickpeas, or garbanzo beans are one of the top 10 trending food products in 2021? Chickpeas have so many benefits– a low glycemic index (your body absorbs and digests them slowly), high dietary fiber (which can help lower cholesterol), calcium and magnesium.
India produces the most worldwide, though grown in more than 50 countries.
This Ottolenghi recipe my daughter sent me reminded me of the dish Chole- though the traditional recipe takes quite a bit of time to cook. This recipe’s only liquid is oil- cooking the chickpeas and other ingredients in the olive oil makes all of the flavors more concentrated and flavorful. All you need is a casserole dish or large pot with a lid, and in an hour and a half the dish is done.
The recipe calls for canned chickpeas, but if you choose- soak 1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas overnight or for at least 4 hours with a pinch of baking soda. Rinse and add more water, pressure cook them for 5 minutes and they’re done!
2 (14 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed
10 whole garlic cloves, chopped (if you prefer, thinly slice or leave whole)
1 tablespoon ginger, grated or thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons each: cumin seeds and coriander seeds, crushed or blended in a spice grinder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, optional
2 teaspoons paprika
2 fresh or dry red chilies, optional
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Put all the ingredients in a casserole dish (which has a lid). Stir to combine.
Cover with the dish, place in the oven and cook for about 75 minutes, stirring once halfway.
Serve with Pita bread, Naan using the bread to soak up the flavored oil, or rice.
Recently I came across this recipe in Bon Appetit and knew that I had to try it as it had curry leaves in the ingredients. Chicken nuggets + Curry leaves = a winning combination!
Curry leaf plants can grow in tropical places similar to its native region of India. As it gets cold in the Carolinas, I have to bring the plant indoors in the winter.
In most recipes curry leaves are tempered in oil, but in this recipe you simply blend them for the marinade and some chopped leaves are added to the flour coating as well.
The recipe calls for the chicken to be fried, but I made them successfully in my air fryer. They can be reheated in the air fryer or in a toaster oven.
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds or 1/8 tsp. cardamom powder
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole black pepper corns
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2-3 green chillies, chopped
1 -1″ piece ginger, grated
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
25- 30 fresh curry leaves, divided
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, divided, reserving a little for garnish
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cubed into about 1″
2 cups all-purpose four
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Oil for frying (or brushing on)
2-3 green chillies, fried for garnish
5-10 curry leaves, fried for garnish
In a small dry skillet, toast the cardamom, coriander, cumin seeds and black peppercorn, stirring until fragrant.
Cool and transfer half of the mixture to a spice mill and blend to a fine powder. Set aside.
Blend the remaining whole spices, buttermilk, lime juice, chillies, ginger, garlic, 15 curry leaves, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon cayenne to a blender until smooth.
Add the chicken to this, mix well and add to a resealable bag or covered bowl. Chill overnight or at least 4-8 hours.
Combine the reserved spice mixture, flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cayenne in another resealable bag. Chop the remaining 10 curry leaves and add to the flour mixture. Stir to combine well.
Heat about 1 1/2 ” oil in a wok , or pre-heat the air fryer to 400 degrees.
In the mean time, remove the chicken from the marinade and let the excess drip.
Add the chicken in small batches to the flour bag and coat well. Remove and set the coated chicken over a wire rack.
Repeat with the remaining chicken
Fry small batches of the chicken for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack with paper towels below to drain.
If using the air fryer, brush the chicken pieces with oil and add to air fryer (do not crowd) and cook for 5 minutes… Turn the chicken pieces and continue to cook for about 3-4 minutes to a golden brown. Repeat with the remaining chicken nuggets.
Garnish with fried chillies and fried curry leaves
Dal is a staple in all parts of India, served thick over rice or in a bowl as a soup. There are so many different varieties, all made with somewhat different ingredients. There are many types of lentils (also called dal) – whole lentils, split lentils, and lentils which have the husk or skin removed.
Lentils are a low-calorie source of plant-based protein (they have a protein concentration of approximately 25%). One-half cup serving of cooked lentils provides 9 grams of protein. They also are a good source of iron, fiber and a good source of Vitamin B.
This recipe uses split pigeon peas, or toor lentils – a basic, every day dal. Feel free to adjust the taste to suit your menu – eliminate the tomatoes, add more lemon juice – most of the ingredients are optional.
Soaking the lentils will help cut down the cooking time, though using a pressure cooker makes it even quicker.
Prepare the lentils: Rinse dal until the water is clear. If you have the time, soak the dal for about 1 hour.
Drain the soaked dal, add 3 cups water and cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker for about 10 minutes (unsoaked for 14 minutes). Or cook in a saucepan with approximately 3 cups water, until soft for about 30 minutes.
If you prefer a smoother consistency, blend with an immersion blender, whisk or potato masher.
Tempering: In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the mustard and cumin seeds- as soon as they start popping, mix in the red or green chilies and onion. Cook for 3- 4 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent and then add in the garlic and tomatoes. Stir for a few minutes- next add in turmeric and salt.
Stir in the cooked dal and about 1-2 cups of water, depending on the consistency you prefer. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the tomato is soft and dal is well combined.
I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit a few months ago and it caught my attention for several reasons. I had never seen a pakoda (fritter) recipe made with not only Masoor dal (red lentils) but also a nutritious green vegetable.
Lentils are an excellent source of vegetable protein, rich in iron and folate and the addition of Zucchini adds antioxidants and fiber to the dish .
I experimented, adding a few more spices and cilantro to the original recipe and cooked it in my air fryer (healthy alternative to pan frying).
Serve the pakodas with cilantro chutney, ketchup or hot sauce.
1 cup Masoor dal (red lentils)
1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger grated
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Ghee or oil for sautéing
Rinse the lentil and soak with water overnight.
Add the grated zucchini to a colander and add the salt and onion. Mix well and set the colander over a medium bowl and let this mixture sit for a couple of hours.
Squeeze the liquid from the mixture and pat with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
Drain the lentils and place in a food processor.
Add the spices and 1/2 teaspoon salt and pulse the mixture till it forms a puree.
Transfer the lentil mixture to a bowl, add the zucchini mixture, chopped cilantro and stir to combine .
Heat oil or ghee in a large skillet over medium heat and drop about 1/4 cup batter , flattening the top with a spatula. Drop about 6 “pakodas” in the skillet and frying them for 3-4 minutes on each side.
Transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with the remains mixture.
Makes about 12 pakodas, depending on size.
Air Fryer Method
While your air fryer is preheating (for approximately 5 minutes) at 380 degrees, shape your pakodas and brush with oil
Cook for about 6 minutes; turn them over, brush oil on the other side and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, until brown.
Serve with cilantro chutney, ketchup or hot sauce.
Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains – high in protein, a moderate amount of fibre and various minerals and vitamins. These mini muffins made with quinoa are a great addition to lunch or dinner with soup or as an appetizer.
1 1/2 cups cooked Quinoa
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 -1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup edamame or lima beans
1/4 cup salsa
1-2 tbsp hot sauce (Sriracha or buffalo wing hot sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Brush a 24 cup mini muffin pan (or 2- 12 cup mini muffin pans) with oil.
Mix all of the above ingredients together and fill the muffin cups.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and remove to a wire rack.
Happy Diwali! Diwali (or Deepavali) is India’s biggest holiday of the year. Also called the festival of lights – it gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness.
I enjoy making a variety of Mitai (Indian sweets) during this time – and this recipe is a quick and easy one!
2 teaspoon butter or ghee
1 cup almond or cashew flour
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoon sugar (or more to taste)
Pinch of saffron strands (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder (optional)
Chopped nuts, for garnish
Whipping cream (optional)
Heat the butter or ghee in a saucepan.
Add the almond flour, milk, sugar and saffron strands, if using.
Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until mixture is thick