Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cous Cous Salad

This is a very easy,healthy and filling salad which can be done in less than 15-20 mins and is a great crowd pleaser.I generally make it for my lunch or dinner so that I can enjoy the good healthy salad with some bread and lemonade which forms a very filling meal.The Preparation of this salad is no different from any other salad which we make regularly just that cous cous is added in a major portion to the regular salad.The choice of vegetables,nuts,beans,spices,herbs are left to our imagination and creativity.This is one combination of salad which I make regularly.


1 cup Cous Cous
1 1/2 cup hot water approx

1 medium onion,cut into small cubes(you can even add spring onions)

1 medium capsicum,seeded and cut into small cubes(you can add any kind of peppers)
1 big tomato,seeded and cut into small cubes

1/4 cup small cubed cucumber

1/4 cup chopped coriander and some mint

8-10 seedless black/green olives
3-4 pickled gherkins/jalapenos,chopped
2 green chilies,very finely chopped
a handful of roughly chopped walnuts/pine nuts
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil(EVOO)
salt to taste

For Dressing:
2 tbsp extra virgin Olive oil(EVOO)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 garlic pods,grated

salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

  • In a large bowl mix cous cous and pour hot boiling water and salt over it and mix well and cover it with a lid and keep it aside for 12-15 mins.Or Cook cous cous according to the package directions.
  • Now pour a tbsp of EVOO(olive oil) and fluff it up with a fork gently.
  • Now mix in all the diced vegetables(tomatoes,onions,cucumber,olives,capsicum), chopped green chillies,coriander and mint,walnuts and mix well with a wooden spatula.
  • Take a small bowl and mix olive oil,lemon juice,grated garlic,salt and pepper using a balloon whisk until everything is well mixed.
  • Pour the dressing over the cous cous mixture and mix well.
  • Refrigerate it for half an hour to one hour to allow the flavors to blend in the cous cous.
Garnish with some walnuts and coriander and serve it cold.

Notes and variations to the salad:
  • Various vegetables like Sauteed spinach or fresh baby spinach,blanched broccoli,colored bell peppers,grilled zucchini,boiled corn,spring onions and chopped basil can also be added according to your taste.
  • You can even add diced feta cheese or paneer to the salad.
  • You can even add boiled and salted garbanzo beans / Rajma / Lobia beans to the salad if you like.
  • Dry fruits like raisins,cranberries,chopped almonds can also be added.Roasted and coarsely ground peanuts can be added for different taste.
  • For dressing you can add a tsp of balsamic vinegar or regular white vinegar for different flavor.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spinach Pesto Penne Pasta

I always prefer making Pasta's for dinner and taking photograph's during night times is like a nightmare for me and that is why you will never get to see some recipes in my blog like pasta's,pizza's,noodles etc etc even though they are very much regular in my dinner menu.I even do very limited quantities which is sufficient for two of us and there is no way that I have any left over too.Recently I made this Spinach Pesto pasta for a get together and I was thankful that I had a small portion of left over which I could capture to showcase in my blog.

And coming to the recipe my hubby is a very big fan of pesto especially the basil pesto and he is not at all really fond of tomato based sauces.So I always end up making different kinds of pesto sauces and among which spinach pesto also has become our favorite.I generally add bechamel sauce to this pasta as I like my pasta bit rich and creamier without extra calories.I have mentioned some healthier options in the recipe for especially weight watchers which is equally delicious as the one with calories and if you are not really bothered about extra calories just follow the procedure and you will definitely enjoy this cheesy delicacy.This is a great dish for parties,get-together's and special dinner's and check the notes for a serving method for those occasions.

4 cups penne pasta
12-15 button mushrooms,thinly sliced
1 carrot,finely chopped
1 big onion,sliced thin horizontally
4-5 big garlic pods,finely sliced
1 tsp mixed dried Italian herbs
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 tbsp grated parmesan to garnish(optional)
1 tsp chopped parsley for garnish
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil(EVOO)
salt and ground pepper to taste

For Bechamel Sauce:
1/4 cup all purpose flour(or 1/4 cup whole wheat flour as a healthier option)
3 tbsp butter (or 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil as a healthier option)
approx 300 ml hot milk
a pinch of grated nutmeg
a generous pinch of freshly ground pepper
salt to taste

For Spinach Pesto:
1 medium bunch spinach
a small bunch of fresh parsley(approx 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup pine nuts or 1/4 cup walnuts
2-3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese(optional,I did not use it but makes it more rich)
2 garlic pods
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste

To Cook Pasta:
  • Cook according to the instruction of your package or follow this procedure:
  • Bring water to a boil in a big pot (filled to its half) and add salt,1 tsp olive oil and pasta and cook over medium flame for 10-12 mins until al dente(cooked and tender to teeth).
  • Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of water for later can even give a cold bath to the pasta by running it under fresh tap water which helps in keeping the pasts separate.
To make Spinach Pesto:
  • Boil water and add salt and chopped spinach and blanch for a minute or two and immediately let it go under a cold bath which helps in retaining the color of spinach.
  • Blend spinach with all the other ingredients under the pesto section to a slightly coarse sauce.If needed add some strained spinach water to ease in grinding.
To make Bechamel Sauce:
  • Heat butter/olive oil in a pan on medium flame and add flour/wheat flour and whisk immediately with a balloon whisk until it forms a smooth paste of it.
  • Now add slowly hot milk into this paste and whisk continuously until you get a smooth uniform mixture.Cook it for 2-3 mins until the raw smell of the mixture goes away by stirring it continuosly.
  • Season it with enough salt,pepper powder,ground nutmeg to it and mix well.
The Final Cooking of pasta:
  • Heat olive oil in a wide bottomed pan and fry sliced garlic until slight brown and crisp and add thinly sliced onions and fry until they are pink and soft.
  • Now add sliced mushroom and chopped caroot and cook until tender.
  • Add the spinach pesto sauce,bechamel sauce and mix well.Add 1/4 cup reserved pasta liquid if required add more to get a medium sauce consistency.
  • Add cooked pasta and mix well until all the pasta is covered with the sauce and is warm.Now add red chili flakes,Italian herbs,salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Dish it out to the serving platter and sprinkle some cheese over it.Garnish with chopped parsley.
Serve it with Lime Soda or drink of your choice.

  • You can make Basil Pesto in a similar way by just replacing blanched spinach with Italian basil while making pesto sauce.No need to blanch basil,just add it raw.
  • You can even avoid bechamel sauce in the above recipe but I personally add to give a nice creamy texture to the pasta.
  • You can even fill the pasta in a baking dish and cover with grated parmesan cheese(1/4-1/2 cup) and cover it with a foil and bake it in oven @ 160 degrees for 20 mins until the cheese melts.Serve it hot right from the oven.This would be a exclusive dish for parties especially or for special romantic dinners.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Eggless Whole Wheat Banana Muffins...goodness at its best!!!

Those were the days when I used to feel baking cakes or muffins is something suitable only for special occasions but now,not any more.But our blogger friends have made my assumption completely wrong by coming up with their innovative ways of making low fat versions and using healthier ingredients which suits our regular diet.I have come across many low fat recipes and this is one of them,When I saw Madhuri's Fatless strawberry banana muffins I liked the recipe instantly and ended up making it the very next day.The only thing I changed in the recipe was I added some extra sugar to suit my taste buds and I liked them a lot as they were absolutely guilt free.Recently during my blog hopping I hooked upon Usha's Cardamom flavored whole wheat banana bread which I liked again and then I made my own version of Banana bread taking some pointers from both the recipes.The result was just outstanding and I must say that this has become my own favorite recipe for eggless banana muffins.This is really a healthy treat for all the muffin lovers as it has all the healthy ingredients like oats,wheat flour, flax seeds,walnuts,dates and especially no eggs,no butter and no white flour.Walnuts,raisins and chocolate chips adds up the extra taste during each and every bite of muffin.However usage of oil is upto you and optional but it makes the muffins bit moist.This has taken a place in my regular breakfast menu now and I hope it will find its place in ur menu too..

1 cup whole wheat flour,and 1 tsp wheat flour for dusting
1 cup quick cooking porridge oats

3 ripen banana's

1/2 cup milk
12-15 soft dates

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup oil,optional but I recommend to use it

1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tsp flax seeds
1/4 cup water
a generous pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven at 180 degrees for 10 mins.
  • Grind Oats to a fine powder in the mixer.
  • Dry roast flax seeds on a tawa/pan for few seconds and grind into a fine powder.Add this powder to 1/4 cup warm water and let it sit for 8-10 mins.
  • In a big bowl,mash banana's properly until they form smooth pulp.
  • Grind dates with 1/2 cup of milk and 1/3 cup of sugar to a fine puree.Mix in this puree into the smashed banana pulp.
  • Add oil,vanilla essence to the above mixture and mix well with a balloon whisk.Add the settled glutinous flax seed mixture to it and mix well.
  • Take another bowl and add wheat flour to it and add oats flour,baking soda,salt to it and mix them roughly.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix well.
  • Take a small bowl and add chopped walnuts,raisins and chocolate chips to it and dust it with 1 tsp of wheat flour.
  • Add the nuts mix to the batter and mix gently with a spatula.
  • Scoop out the mixture into the well greased paper lined muffin moulds and place it in preheated oven for 20 mins at 160 degrees.
  • This mixture will yield approximately 12 muffins.I made 6 muffins and the rest of the batter I pour into a loaf pan and made banana bread.Bread needs bit longer time to bake,approximately 30 mins.
  • Check the muffins/bread are done or not by piercing a tooth pick in the center and check whether it comes out clean.
  • Cool them on the wire rack and store it in air-tight containers.they stay good outside for 2 days.If you want to store them for longer time keep them in refrigerator.
While serving just pop them into the microwave and microwave for 20-30 seconds and serve it warm.You can even enjoy this as dessert by serving it with ice cream of your choice.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Butterfruit Milkshake / Avocado Milkshake

Butterfruit milkshake is commonly available in any juice center in Bangalore unlike in any other city where you rarely find it on the menu.This milkshake is my brother's most favorite one and that is how even I developed the taste for it.I rarely get good avocado's in Mumbai and is available only in few selective shops.During my last visit to Bangalore I got few of them which I ended up using in almost all possible ways.Milkshake is the most easiest and tastiest thing that one can make out of it.If you have never tried it before please give a try and I am sure that even you will like it.
1 medium ripen avocado/butterfruit
2 cups cold milk
3 tbsp sugar approx
1 pistachio or almond to garnish

  • Cut the avocado lengthwise and discard the big seed in between and scoop out the flesh using a spoon.I find this as the most funniest part of scooping out the flesh from avocado.
  • Blend scooped flesh with 1/2 cup of cold milk and sugar until it turns to a smooth paste.Now add the remaining milk and blend again to get a pouring consistency of milkshake.
  • Keep refrigerated again or serve it as it is as we used cold milk to make it.Garnish with some nuts like pistachios/almonds.However it is optional to garnish it.
Serve it cold.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kadai Chholay(Chole)

Chole being the favorite at my place finds its place atleast once in my weekly menu.Kadai chholay is very much similar to the regular chole except that few more flavors are added to make it even more tastier and is a bit dry version unlike the regular gravy chole.

(Recipe Courtesy:Sanjeev Kapoor)

2 cups chickpeas
1 tbsp tea leaves
1-2 dried amla pieces
1 tsp Garam masala
2 medium tomatoes,quartered
1 large onion,chopped
2 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp coriander powder
2-3 green chillies,slit
1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp jeera
salt to taste
5 tbsp oil

for masala powder:
1 tbsp anardhana seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds

4-5 black pepper corns
2 dried red chillies
1/2 tsp kachri powder(optional,I did not add)

To garnish:
1 finely chopped onion
juice of 1 lemon

  • Wash and soak chana in 3 cups of water overnight.Drain and pressure cook with 3 cups of water and salt and a drop of potli of (tea leaves and dried amla) for 1 whistle and simmer it for 20-25 mins.Discard the potli after the pressure drops down from the cooker.
  • Dry roast the ingredients given under the masala section and grind it into a fine powder.
  • Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a kadai and add jeera and add onion and fry until pink.
  • Add ginger and garlic paste,coriander powder,half the cumin powder,red chili powder and powdered masala.
  • Add boiled chana with some cooking liquid,salt and garam masala and simmer for 5-6 mins.
  • In another pan heat 2 tbsp oil,add slit green chillies and remaining cumin powder and tomatoes and cook for 1 min and add this to chana.
  • Cook on low heat till almost dry,stirring continuously.
  • Garnish with some finely chopped onions and some lemon juice.
Serve it how with roti/kulcha/naan/paratha's/pulao's.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ridge Gourd Dal / Beerakaya Pappu

My frequent trips to Bangalore kept me On and Off from blogging from the last one month.My trips were quite joyful with few family functions,get together's and I also had a great time eating at my favorite joints which I miss so much here in Mumbai.I hope I will be regular in blogging from now onwards without any break's in between.
And coming to today's recipe this ridge gourd dal is very simple and tastier one which is truely done in Andhra style.Dal/pappu has a very prominent place in regular Andhra meal either it is paired with greens or vegetables or just a simple plain dal.Ridge gourd is one vegetable which can be utilized completely without any wastage.Peeled ridge gourd is used either in stew, dal, kootu where as the peels of ridge gourd are used to make pacchadi(chutney) which goes very well with rice.You can check the recipe for Ridge gourd pacchadi here.

1 small tender ridge gourd/beerakaya
1 medium sized onion,roughly chopped
1/2 cup heaped toor dal/yellow lentils
4-5 green chillies,slit
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds powder
a generous pinch of turmeric powder
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste

for tadka:
4-5 garlic pods
2 broken red chillies
a sprig of curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of hing
1 tsp ghee/oil

  • Peel the ridge gourd and cut into small cubes.Check whether the ridge gourd is bitter or not before proceeding further making it.If it is bitter discard it and use another one.
  • Wash toor dal and soak it in water for some time.
  • Heat oil in a kadai or pressure cooker and add chopped onions and green chillies and fry until they are translucent.
  • Add ridge gourd pieces and fry for few minutes and add soaked toor dal and add coriander powder,jeera powder and turmeric and mix well.
  • Transfer this mixture into a vessel that fits in the pressure cooker(or if you are doing it in the pressure cooker directly,you can skip this step).Add enough salt and water and pressure cook for 3 whistles and switch off the flame.
  • Mean while heat a small tadka pan and add ghee/oil to it and crackle mustard seeds and cumin seeds.Add slightly crushed garlic,red chillies and hing and fry for few seconds and add curry leaves and switch off the flame.
  • After the pressure drops down turn on the heat again and pour the prepared tadka over it and mix well and let it come to a boil once and switch off the flame.
Serve it hot with rice,ghee and papad with some fry.

  • For a Vegan version use only oil instead of ghee in the recipe.
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