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Seasons Eatings (Part 4) - Holiday Red & Green Salad


- 4 handfuls of cut romaine lettuce

- 1 medium red apple, thinly sliced

- 2 cups red grapes

- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

- 1 1/2 cups feta cheese

- 2 cups shredded carrots

- 1 cup chopped celery

- 1/4 cup dijon mustard

- 2 tbsp honey

- Juice of 1 to 2 large lemons

- Olive oil enough to thin out the dressing


How To Make:

Mix the mustard, honey, lime juice and oil to make dressing. In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients with the dressing and serve.



- Goat cheese is a great substitute for feta. You can substitute dijon with brown mustard.

- For protein, you can add herb grilled or rotisserie chicken strips

Off The Beaten Path - Cauliflower Fritters / Bhaji


Welcome back dear readers and wish you a very happy and prosperous 2010! It’s the start of a new year, actually a whole new decade and my excitement is boundless. If you are like most people, you have probably made New Year resolutions and already broken some of them. Well, all I can say is….join the club.


There is however one resolve I have stuck to so far and intend to hold on to - discard the conventional and travel the less beaten path. I am sure that a lot of surprises await me, some truly wonderful and some not so pleasant. But how will I know unless I embark on that journey?

So let the ride begin with a perfect appetizer recipe that embodies the spirit of adventure and unconventional.



- 1 cup besan/gram flour

- ½ cup rice flour

- 1/8 tsp turmeric

- ¼ tsp chilli powder

- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

- 1/8 tsp salt

- 1 lb frozen or fresh cauliflower

- 1 tsp soy sauce (I prefer low sodium)

- 1 tsp ginger and garlic paste

- 1 cup tomato ketchup

- Vegetable oil (about ¾ to 1 cup)


How To Make:

If using frozen cauliflower, thaw well. Lightly steam the cauliflower in the microwave for a few minute (about 2 minutes for frozen, about 5 minutes for fresh). Set aside and let cool to room temperature. Make the dry mix by combining besan/gram flour, rice flour, tumeric, black pepper, chilli powder and salt. Make the wet mix by combining ketchup, soy sauce, ginger and garlic paste. Pour the wet over the florets and toss to cover evenly. Let them sit for about 10 minutes. Spread the dry mix in a shallow dish and roll the florets to coat evenly.

Heat a shallow non-stick pan on medium heat and cover the bottom with a thin layer of oil. Spread the coated florets across the pan in a single layer and let them cook in the oil on medium heat. Turns the florets when the bottom side gets golden brown and crunchy. When the other side is done similarly, drain them on a paper towel to remove excess oil.



-  You can make these ahead of time and warm them up in a 250 degree oven for about 10 - 15 minutes before serving.

- Serve with more ketchup or a creamier sauce like ranch or blue cheese dressing.

- For a spicier version, mix 2 finely chopped Indian green chillies or 1 jalapeno in the wet mix. Garnish with cilantro and more chopped green chillies.


Fruitopia - Fresh Fruit Cake

Fruitopia Cake

“Life without fruits? Is that even a life?” once said a great man. And fortunately for me, this man happens to be none other than my dear father. His love for fruits is so great that he could eat them all day long - for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the snacks in between. So as you can imagine, our house was always well stocked with all kinds of fruit in every season.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are those of me and my brother visiting the fruit market with our dad. We would scour the market streets for the biggest and sweetest watermelons, juiciest of grapes, most fragrant mangoes, crunchiest apples and delicious fruits of every kind.


Now, several years later and many oceans across, I still see his face light up like a child as he walks through the fruit aisles of the grocery stores. And, that’s enough for me to know that he has found his Fruitopia. 



- 1 box of cake mix white/yellow/strawberry/chocolate (I prefer Pillsbury or Betty Crocker)

- ½ can condensed/evaporated milk

- 4 cups fresh or frozen mixed fruits (fruits of your choice cut into bite sized pieces)

- 1 cup fresh orange juice

- 1 tsp orange zest

- Whipped cream


How To Make:

Bake the cake per instructions on the box. Cool it room temperature. Poke holes all over the cake with a small toothpick and evenly spread the condensed milk such that it is completely absorbed. Chill the moist cake in the refrigerator. If using frozen fruits, thaw them well. Mix orange juice and orange zest and marinate the fruit mix in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.


For serving this dessert, cut a piece of cake, pour some marinated fruit mix and top it off with a dollop of whipped cream. Tastes wonderful either chilled or at room temperature.



- For a moister cake, pour ¾ can of condensed/evaporated milk instead of ½ can

- In summer, you can serve it with a scoop of ice-cream. I prefer basic flavors like vanilla, strawberry or chocolate.

- This is a basic recipe and you can make your own combination of cake, fruit, ice-cream, and sauces like caramel, chocolate, butterscotch 

Circle of Life - Dried Peas / Vatana

Vatana Usal

“If you want to grow big and strong, you have to eat your usal”…….these familiar words kept ringing loud and clear in my head. Was it really my mom saying that to me, or, was I dreaming? Am I not way past the age where I have to be cajoled into eating healthy food?


Nothing made sense….except that the words couldn’t be truer. Finally, as the fog around my brain subsided, it hit me that “I” was the mom saying those exact words to my 3 year old. The circle of life was complete!


Usal, as they call it in my native language, is a savory and at times spicy preparation made from legumes/beans/lentils. It can be cooked like a soup/stew, or it can be made drier, like a stir fry. Any which way, legumes are an excellent source of vegetarian protein. When soaked and sprouted, they are one of the most nutritious foods – sustainers of the circle of life.


Usal can be eaten in a variety of ways – with white or brown rice, naan or roti (Indian flat breads), pita pockets, tortillas etc., The stir fry version can even be sprinkled into salads. Sprouting is very easy, soak the lentils/beans/legumes in warm water for 6 to 7 hours. When plumped up, drain the water, pack them up in a few paper towels and leave on a strainer for 3 to 4 hours when you will see them start to sprout. They will be ready to use when the sprouts are about a centimeter long.


Enjoy this easy and mouth watering usal recipe for good health!



- 3 tbsp vegetable/canola oil

- ½ cup water

- 1 ½ tsp ginger paste/finely grated ginger

- 1 ½ tsp garlic paste/finely chopped garlic

- ½ jalapeno, finely chopped

- 1 ½ medium sized onion, finely chopped

- 1 roma tomato, finely chopped

- 1 ½ tsp salt

- 2 tsp sugar

Following ingredients are available in local Indian stores.

- 1/8 tsp mustard seeds

- ¼ tsp turmeric

- 1/8 tsp red chilli powder

- 1 tsp black masala (if not available in Indian stores, substitute with garam masala)

- ½ tsp garam masala

- 3 cups cooked/boiled yellow vatana/dried peas


How To Make:

Soak and sprout the yellow vatana. Boil on stove top or in a pressure cooker until tender. Use enough water so that the vatana in fully submerged.


Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Add the mustard seeds, ginger, garlic and onion. Fry till golden brown, Add the tomato, jalapeno, turmeric, red chilli powder and the masalas. Cover the pan and let the mix simmer for a few minutes until the tomatoes are are dissolved to form a puree. Add the ½ cup water, cooked vatana (along with any water it has boiled in), salt and sugar. Let the mix boil and then simmer on low heat for about 6 to 7 minutes.



- You can soak, sprout and freeze lentils for future use. They stay well in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.

- This is a basic recipe that can be used with other types of beans/lentils of your choice.

- Garnish with cilantro sprigs before serving.

The Age of Innocence - Apple Banana Carrot Halva


“Read me a book, mommy” my toddler demanded, “I want the Barney ABC”. The book he was referring to was Barney's alphabet soup. As Barney put in Apple, Banana, Carrot, Doughnut, Egg …. in his soup I remembered the mouthwatering ABC halwa my friend had made.

I went and bought Apples, Bananas and Carrots to recreate this healthy halwa my way. Here's to my friend, for an innovative healthy ABC halwa.

Eat good, be healthy! Enjoy.........

- 2 cups finely shredded carrot

- 2 cups finely shredded apple

- 1 cup mashed banana

- 2 small pinches of salt

- 1 cup condensed milk

- ¼ cup sugar

- ½ tsp cardamom powder

- Handful of cashew nut pieces

- Handful of raisins
Following ingredients are available in local Indian stores.

- 1 cup ghee/clarified butter – You can make ghee at home by boiling butter until it appears clear and then turns golden brown in color

- 2 cups crumbled khova/mawa – Condensed milk solids found in the refrigerated section. You can substitute with milk powder available in regular grocery stores.

How To Make:
Heat the ghee in a non-stick pan and sauté the carrot on medium heat. When it starts to soften up, add apple. When apple starts to soften up, add the mashed banana. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes until the carrot, apple and banana are mixed well. Add the sugar, salt, cardamom powder and mix well again. Add the crumbled khava and condensed milk and simmer the mixture on low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle cashews and raisins.


- This is a healthy dessert and relatively low in sugar. Stays well in the refrigerator for about a week. You can make the regular carrot halwa similarly.

- May need to add additional sugar depending on your taste preference.

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