Pasta and Veggie Dhokla

Dhokla is a traditional Gujarati dish, a savory steamed bread with a light and spongy texture. It is typically made with channa dal (split peas) but I’ve had various types, made with rava (semolina or cream of wheat) and besan (chickpea flour).

A friend recently introduced me to her version, incorporating vegetables.  You can use any veggies in the recipe – I always seem to have carrots, bell peppers and frozen peas on hand so I used those.

You might be wondering about the pasta… the angel hair pasta and potatoes simply help bind the ingredients together!

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Ingredients

3/4 cup uncooked, broken angel hair pasta

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1/4 cup frozen green peas

1/4 cup finely cut carrots

1 small raw potato, finely diced

1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced

1 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon each, ginger and garlic paste

1/2- 1 teaspoon, finely cut green chillies

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cream of wheat (coarse variety, if buying from an Indian store)

2 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon Eno or baking soda

1/2 tablespoon oil

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

Chopped cilantro for garnish

  Preparation

To steam the Dhokla, boil 2 cups of water in a large 4 or 6 quart cooking pot and keep it simmering. Place a small cooking rack or an overturned small metal container or bowl at the bottom. Grease an 8″ cake pan.

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Add pasta to a mixing bowl and mix in the vegetables.

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Next add the yogurt and spices, cream of wheat, and oil and mix well.

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 Lastly add the Eno or baking soda.

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Pour into prepared cake pan, cover with a lid and steam for 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil, add the sesame seeds and mustard seeds and when the seeds start to pop, remove and pour and spread over the steamed dhokla. Remove pan and cool for 5 minutes and cut into diamond shapes.

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Remove to a serving plate and garnish with chopped cilantro.

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Dosa-Waffles

I have been reading lately about the many non-waffle recipes you can make in your waffle iron. There’s even a blog (waffled tofu & frozen fries!) & cookbook called “Will it Waffle” – 53 “unexpected” recipes!

I decided to experiment with a dosa recipe (Indian lentil pancakes) using green moong dal. It is quicker & easier than making dosas on the stove, one by one! I did have to add a few extra ingredients (oats & baking powder) but they turned out great.

The dosa-waffles can be served with cilantro chutney or even with a spicy ketchup (make your own by mixing regular ketchup with a little of Siracha or hot sauce). These also reheat well and can be frozen.

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Ingredients

1 cup whole green moong dal, (soaked for about 4 hours)

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1/2 small onion

2 whole green chillies

1/4 cup oat flour (you can also grind oats in a blender)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup water

Preparation

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and process till smooth.

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Add a little more water, slowly, to get a thick pouring batter (like waffle batter!).

Preheat the waffle iron, brush the grids with a little oil, add about 3/4 cup batter (depending on the shape and size of your waffle maker) and cook them.

Remove and place on a wire rack.

Serve hot with chutney or spicy ketchup.

Spicy Grilled Salmon

I learned recently Salmon is one of the healthiest fish to eat as it is packed with omega-3s and protein. (If you’re surprised to hear me talking about salmon… no, I do not eat seafood but my family loves it so I do cook fish occasionally!)

A friend recommended a favorite recipe so I decided to try it out for a party I was having with a few friends. Some of them only eat Halal or kosher meats but enjoy seafood so I thought it would be an easy entree.

Visiting the Baltimore Aquarium this summer, I also discovered that sustainability is a major issue with most fish consumption. When shopping, ask where the salmon is from. There are several good choices – find out more here on SeafoodWatch.org.

I used to ask the butcher at my supermarket to remove the skin of the salmon for me but I later learned that there are benefits of leaving the skin on. When salmon is grilled skin side is up,  the omega-3 “good” fats melt, and moisten the fish. After the salmon is turned with the skin side is down, the skin gets crispy and it is then easy to remove.

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Ingredients

3 pounds salmon , cut into 2″ pieces

1 cup plain yogurt

8-10 cloves, garlic

3″ piece of ginger, (skinned and chopped)

1 tablespoon tandoori paste or powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 heaping teaspoon coriander powder

1 tablespoon mustard oil (safflower or vegetable oil)

2 tablespoon methi leaves crushed (optional)

Lemon wedges and finely cut onion rings for garnish

Preparation

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Grind the garlic and ginger with about 2 tablespoon water to make a smooth paste

Mix all the ingredients together and add to the salmon pieces. Marinate for a 2-4 hours.

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Heat grill to very hot, oil the grates and cook the salmon for about 5 minutes, turn and cook again for another 3-4 minutes (depending on the thickness) .

Garnish with lemon wedges and raw onion rings.

Swiss Chard or Spinach Focaccia

One of my weaknesses is bread! I enjoy looking for different types of bread recipes. Somewhere along the way I came across the idea of adding swiss chard to focaccia. I just don’t feel as guilty consuming so much bread when I am having something healthy along with it!

This focaccia recipe is great as an appetizer and also perfect for lunch with a bowl of soup. It freezes well – it’s a handy side to have on hand since it is so versatile with meals.

Best of all, the “No Knead Focaccia” recipe from the King Arthur Flour website is the simplest recipe I’ve come across since it doesn’t require kneading! I’ve adapted the recipe slightly below.

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Ingredients

Dough:

1 1/2 cup warm water

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 tablespoon instant yeast.

Topping:

2 bunches swiss chard , ( remove the thick stem) and  coarsely chopped ( 6-8 cups)  OR

6-8 cups coarsely chopped spinach

1-2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt ( preferably)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1-2 green chillies ( hot ) finely minced or ground (optional)

1/3 cup olive oil

Preparation

Lightly grease a large cookie sheet with about 2 tablespoon oil.

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a large mixing bowl and beat at high speed with an electric mixer or 1 minute.

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The dough will be sticky. Scoop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread with a spatula or greased hands.

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Let rise for about 45 – 60 minutes till the dough doubles.

In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for the topping .

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When the dough is risen, add the swiss chard to the dough and spread to cover the dough.

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Bake at 375  for about 20 – 25 minutes. Cool. Cut in squares.

Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

Tandoori dishes originated in the northwest part of India (near the region of Afghanistan and Pakistan).  A Tandoor (clay oven) was used to make flatbread for the community – dough in the form of “tandoori roti” or “naan” was patted into flat round or tear shaped disks, moistened and stuck to the clay oven which was set over hot coals.  It was also used to cook skewered meat or chicken, with the tip of the skewers placed in the coal so the meat could be could cooked by both radiant and convection heat.

My first introduction to tandoori chicken was in Old Delhi at a very well known restaurant called Moti Mahal.  There was not much to the atmosphere but the restaurant was always packed – the food was outstanding!

Tandoori food is pretty simple to make at home if you have a grill, and even using a standard oven. I used to make Murgh Makhani using tomato puree, but came up with an even easier and tastier short cut-  using tomato soup. I have been using Trader Joe’s Tomato, or Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper soup which comes in a carton. This can also be made as a vegetarian dish substituting paneer (indian cubed cottage cheese) or tofu.

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Ingredients

1 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1/2″ cubes

Marinade:

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon each, garlic and ginger paste

2 tablespoons Tandoori spice mix OR the next 4 ingredients

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 cup yogurt (non fat or regular)*

1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon orange food color (don’t use red as it will turn the marinade pink!)

Sauce:

3 cups tomato soup (if using condensed soup dilute with 1/2 can of water)

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preparation

Mix all of the “marinade” ingredients together, and then stir in the chicken. Keep in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

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Skewer the chicken. Grill or broil on each side, about 4 minutes, until the chicken is cooked (about 8 minutes total). If using the broiler, place the rack one level from the top.

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Remove from skewers and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter on low heat, till it is melted. Add the cayenne pepper, salt and coriander powder.

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Stir and add the tomato soup.

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Simmer for 5 minutes; then add the tandoori chicken pieces.

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When heated through add the whipping cream, simmer for 3-5 minutes.

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Serve with rice or Naan.

* I prefer Greek yogurt, as regular yogurt makes the marinade more watery, but I use whichever I have on hand.

Podi Gudu (Spicy Scrambled Eggs)

Podi gudu and puris were a typical breakfast of mine, growing up in Hyderabad.  For obvious health reasons, puris (fried puffy bread) aren’t the most popular breakfast item any more, and even I don’t feel like making them often because they are fairly time-consuming! I’ve found though, that this flavorful scrambled egg dish is a great lunch item  – as a wrap filling, using a chapati or tortilla- for us adults or kids. For those who do not eat eggs, using tofu is a great substitute.

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Ingredients

2 large eggs, beaten (OR 4 ounce tofu, drained and crumbled)

1 tablespoon oil

1-2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped

1-2 tablespoon bell pepper, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato, finely chopped

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon, each salt and pepper

1 tablespoon coriander leaves (cilantro), finely chopped

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Preparation

Heat oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes until light brown. Add the bell pepper and continue to sauté for another few minutes or till soft. Add the tomatoes, green chillies and seasonings.

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Stir for 30 seconds and pour in the beaten egg or crumbled tofu.

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Cook on low heat for one minute. Stir until the eggs are set; add the cilantro and serve.

Millet Patties

On my recent trip to India, my sister in law told me that she had recently started cooking with Millet. She explained that it has nutritional benefits similar to Quinoa and some other grains but cheaper and easier to find. Millet is a drought tolerant plant which has been grown in many countries pretty easily whereas Quinoa is pricier because it is mainly grown only in the Andes region of South America. Although not a complete protein like Quinoa, it still has quite a high protein content.

Millet is a leading staple grain of India – it is ground and used as a flour to make “rotis” (indian unleavened bread) and also eaten as “ragi” porridge. Though I remember as a child I was given this porridge and I did not like it at all!

Substituting millet for rice was an easy way to start experimenting with recipes, so I used the hulled millet which was available at Whole Foods. I toasted the millet and cooked it like rice. Everyone seemed to eat it though the consensus was that they preferred rice.

The next day I decided to do something different with the remaining cooked millet. After looking online at a few recipes for cutlets and croquettes, I decided to try making my own version combined with leftover vegetables which was a big hit!  It seemed like the perfect grain for making these cutlets, perhaps because of the starch in the millet, egg or breadcrumbs aren’t needed to bind or coat the patties.

I used my favorite frying pan which is my cast iron pan – very little oil is needed and it is practically non stick. (I use my cast iron pan daily… to make pancakes, grilled cheese, chapatis or dosas to name a few!)  The pan does take a little while to heat up – I usually turn it on to medium heat and then after 5-10 minutes or when it is hot, I turn the heat down to low. The patties turned out crisp using the cast iron skillet and I didn’t need to add much oil.

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Ingredients

1 cup hulled millet

2 1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup coarsely grated carrots

2 cloves garlic, grated

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

1-2 small green chilies, finely cut up

1/2 cup cooked corn kernels

1/4 cup finely diced green or red bell pepper

2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

oil for sauteing

Preparation

Toast the millet in a skillet for 3-4 minutes till the millet starts to pop. Add the millet to a saucepan and add 2 1/2 cup water and the salt and bring to boil, simmer till the water is absorbed and the millet is cooked.

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Using a potato masher , mash the cooked millet. add the remains ingredients.

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Take about a 1/3 cup of the mixture, flatten into patties.

Heat a cast iron ( or non stick skillet ) and add 1 tablespoon oil to it and add the patties. Cook on low to medium heat, and cook on low heat for 5-8 minutes till the patties and brown and crisp.Serve immediately or keep warm in a warm oven .

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Spicy Swiss Chard , Spinach and Corn

My very good friend from Spain introduced me to Swiss Chard. She told me she would buy it regularly, but the stores in Columbia didn’t carry it at the time. So, she asked one of them to stock it for her. Now I know why; it is a delicious leafy green vegetable which is full of antioxidants, Vitamin K, and Calcium. It’s easy to digest and all of the nutrition is great for bone health!

The first time I made it I combined it with baby spinach because I had some left over from a previous meal. It cooks quickly and is easy to make – Swiss Chard has become a frequent guest at our table. Instead of corn, you could add Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), tofu cubes, or mushrooms!

Ingredients

4-5 cups Swiss Chard leaves, chopped coarsely (discard the the thick stems)

4 cups baby Spinach (or regular Spinach)

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 green chillies, cut fine

1 cup onions, cut fine

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup corn, cooked

Preparation

Put a large pot of water on high heat. When it starts boiling, add the swiss chard and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Drain, saving about 1/2 cup of the water. Blend the greens with this water until smooth.

Heat oil in the same pan; add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir for 1 minute till the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onion and green chilies and cook until the onions become light brown in color.

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Add the blended greens , salt and turmeric; stir for 2 minutes.  Add the corn; simmer for a few minutes until done.

Indian “Tortilla”

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Many years ago we were invited to our Venezuelan friend’s house for dinner. Much to our surprise, the main course was Calamari. Since we’re not the most adventurous eaters and I don’t eat seafood, it was a very awkward moment!

They were, however, most gracious – the quickest item our hostess could come up with was Tortilla Espanola, probably the most common dish served in Spain. Needless to say, the “Indianized” tortilla became one of our favorite one-dish meals. Sometimes I make a quick potato omelet with a salad for lunch or dinner.  Its also a great meal to use up left over vegetables, versatile so you can serve it as a hot meal, or as a room temperature “tapa” as they do in Spain.

Notes: I prefer to use cooked potatoes as it uses less oil than if you have to saute the raw potatoes prior to making the omelet.  Sometimes I boil a few potatoes with the skin on and store them this way in the refrigerator for a few days and use them in various dishes as needed.

Ingredients

2 – 2 1/2 cups potatoes. cooked and sliced

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 cup diced bell pepper, red or green 

2 – 3 long green chillies, chopped fine

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine

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Preparation

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium size cast iron skillet (or any other skillet). Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes until soft.  Add the potatoes, bell peppers and spices and continue to stir for another 3-4 minutes.

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Add this mixture to the bowl of beaten eggs along with the cilantro.

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Wipe the skillet and add a tablespoon of oil, and pour the egg mixture back into the skillet. Cook on low till the eggs are nearly set.

Take a large plate, cover the skillet and turn the eggs on to the plate.

Add a tablespoon oil in the skillet and slide the egg back into the skillet. Continue to cook the omelet for about 3-4 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Serves 4- 6.

“Cheerios” Chuduva

A few years ago when my (adult) daughter started eating Cheerios regularly, I came up with the idea of making Chuduva (a spicy savory snack mix) with them.  At that time, Multi Grain Cheerios contained 100% of the RDA of iron per serving*… and since my daughter had an iron deficiency during her pregnancy it was the perfect snack for her. She was also told that having Cheerios with milk slows down the absorption of iron so she had been looking for creative ways to eat them.

I still make Cheerios Chuduva regularly (except with regular Cheerios which has less sugar than Multi Grain) as my retired husband likes to munch on something during the day – its still one of his favorites!

*Now the recipe has changed and it only has 45% of the RDA of iron per serving, similar to regular Cheerios.                                                          IMG_2224

Ingredients

8 cups Cheerios

2 tablespoon oil

2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 sprig curry leaves (optional)

3 whole red chillies

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ( red chili powder)

2 cups potato sticks

1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts (any type of nut will work)

1/2- 1 cup raisins (optional)

 Preparation

Heat oil in a large wok, add the cumin seeds, red chilis and curry leaves. Stir till the cumin seeds start to brown. Add the turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir and add the raisins. Stir for 30 seconds and add the cheerios, potato sticks and peanuts.

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Continue to stir on low heat until the mixture is well mixed for about 3 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

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