Tag Archives: food

Fall Colors on My Plate

Quinoa with curried carrot and chard

Quinoa with curried carrot and chard

My focus this Fall has been to create simple, hearty and nourishing meals that I can make in large batches and eat leftovers for at least a couple of meals. I’m noticing a certain pattern emerge when I need to cook this way. There’s a gluten free grain like quinoa, millet or rice that I cook separately. And I sauté whatever vegetables I have in the fridge. A bowl of the grain and sauteed vegetables, usually curried in some way, and a hard boiled egg makes for a very satisfying meal.

The awesome thing about cooking this way is that it gets much easier to accommodate food allergies! This dish is gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and FODMAP friendly for those with fructose malabsorption or fructose intolerance.

And this is absolutely my favorite way of making carrots!

So if you’re getting pampered with spectacular food or just over indulging at holiday parties, here’s a dish that looks stunning, tastes great but is also good for you. I must admit that my problem this holiday season has not been the food so much as the wine! Got any tips for me?

Curried Carrot And Chard Over Quinoa

Serves 4

  • 1.5 cups quinoa
  • 10 oz grated carrot (or 3/4 lb carrots, grated)
  • 1/2 bunch chard, sliced into 1/2 inch shreds
  • 1/2 piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 dried red chilis, ends removed and cut into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (optional, I didn’t have any but it adds a lovely earthy aroma and taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice (or lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Recipe

Put the quinoa, 2 cups of water  and a big pinch of salt in a pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low, covered for 15 minutes or till the quinoa is cooked.

Heat the oil in a skillet or pan over medium high heat till you see ripples on the surface. If the oil is hot enough, a mustard seed thrown in will sizzle. Sizzle the whole spices for just 15 seconds or till the mustard seeds start to pop.

Add the ginger and garam masala and stir for 10 seconds. Immediately mix in the carrot and chard and cook for 2 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add 1/3 glass of water, and cover the skillet. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes or till the carrot is cooked.

Stir in lime juice and salt to taste.

Form quinoa cakes by pressing some cooked quinoa into a small and flat bowl; ramekins are perfect. Upturn the bowl onto a plate and voila, you have a quinoa cake. Place some of the curried carrot and chard on the quinoa and serve. Or if you are eating by yourself and don’t care about presentation, just mix it all up in a bowl like a quinoa salad.

Quinoa salad fodmap safe and gluten free

Quinoa salad

Sauteed carrot and chard on a bed of quinoa

Sauteed carrot and chard on a bed of quinoa

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Upma with Pearl Millet

Millet Upma

Millet Upma

This was one of those dishes I threw together in 10 minutes because I was hungry and had leftover cooked pearl millet. It was an unexpected treat. Famished as I was, I realized I should probably take a couple of pictures before I ate it all up. So here they are along with a recipe.

If you’ve never cooked with whole pearl millets before, run to the grocery store, now and get your self some! It is that awesome. We eat millet instead of rice often. I first ate cooked whole pearl millets while visiting my in-laws. My MIL makes a very delicious crust-less pie with whole millets and slices of pears all baked together and served with apple compote.

What are millets? Millet is a collective term for tiny seeds from various grasses that are not even related to each other. They are used as grains and are typically highly nutritious, more so than wheat or rice. I use pearl millets as they are easily available in Seattle. There are however many kinds of millets. In South India, finger millets are widely used and I’ve shared a delicious rustic flat bread recipe before.

I’m calling this dish Upma though it’s a lot simpler than the real deal South Indian uppitu or upma. I’ve eliminated a lot of the typical upma ingredients such as onion and grated coconut and used millets instead of semolina because of my food issues. You are welcome to add those ingredients back in or follow my recipe as is. It will be delicious either way. Pearl millets are also a great gluten free substitute for couscous.

I would recommend serving this millet upma with a side of plain yogurt and spicy pickle. It’s perfect as a snack, savory breakfast or light lunch.

This recipe is vegan and gluten, onion and garlic free. It’s a FODMAP friendly recipe.

Millet Upma

  • 2 cups cooked millets, room temperature or refrigerated
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 2 dry red chilis, broken in half
  • 1 teaspoon urud dal (split black lentils, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds (optional, I added some for nutrition)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 cup cashews, roasted (or almonds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lime or to taste

Recipe

Heat the oil over medium heat. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, add a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.Sizzle the mustard seeds and curry leaves for ten seconds or till the seeds start popping. Saute the dry red chilis, urud dal and flax seeds for another 10 seconds.

Add the turmeric powder and stir in the millets and cashews. Add salt and squeeze fresh lime juice to taste. Serve with a side of yogurt if you can eat dairy.

Liked this recipe? Here’s another gluten free version of the Upma recipe.

delicious savory pearl millets

Savory “curried” pearl millets

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Easy Eggplant

easy eggplant recipe without onions or coconut

Easy Eggplant curry with idlis and spicy chili pickle

Alright, I’m just gonna say it. How can anyone not like eggplant?!?!

My favorite thing to make with eggplant is my mom’s South Indian style curry with coconut. And one of the dishes I’d love to get right one of these days is Ennegai (with a link to the good folks over at the Monsoon Spice blog). But, sadly, the doc has cut me off onions and coconut for  at least the next few months. In this period of mourning, I still need to eat eggplants.

So I came up with this simple variation of a curried vegetable dish. What I realized was that no onions actually meant less prep time! And you know what? My South Indian heart rejoiced when I had this eggplant dish for lunch with freshly steamed idlis and a side of green chili pickle. It hit the spot.

Among other foods, I avoid most ingredients on the FODMAP (a diet the fructose intolerance have to follow) list. If you want to make this dish 100% FODMAP compatible, just eliminate the lentils.

Easy Eggplant

serves 3-4

  • 1.5 lb eggplant (I used the small Indian eggplants but you can use the big kind)
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons urud dal (split black lentils, optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons sambhar powder (or curry blend)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

Cut the eggplants into roughly 2 inch long and 1/2 inch wide pieces. If you’re doing this ahead of time, place in a pot of water so they don’t brown.

Heat the oil in a large wok or pan over medium heat. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, throw in a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot.

Sizzle the mustard seeds for 5 seconds or till they start popping. Stir in the curry leaves, chilis and urud dal and let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Be careful, the oil may splatter. Add the garlic, eggplant, turmeric and sambhar powder and cook for 2 minutes while stirring frequently. If anything starts sticking to the pan, add more oil.

Add a cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes or till the eggplant is soft and cooked.

Add salt and lime juice to taste.

Serve with idlis or rice.

yummy eggplant

Yummy eggplant

easy eggplant

Easy Eggplant

 

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Sambhar – South Indian Lentil Curry

sambhar south indian lentil curry with vegetables

Sambhar, a hearty lentil curry

Do you have food allergies or intolerances? When you first hear about them, you feel really sad to have to cut out something you love to eat. And you wonder how you can do without. Well, I think when you don’t have a choice, you find a way to continue to eat food that tastes great and is nourishing.

I’ve mentioned my food allergies before. I now have fructose intolerance to add to that list and can’t eat onions, tomatoes or coconut anymore. If you know anything about Indian food, you know how often these are used. I’m following a FODMAP diet and have also eliminated soy, dairy, gluten, lima beans, and kidney beans. So I’ve been wondering what to eat lately and very importantly, what to blog about!

Do you have food allergies? How have you adapted your cooking to your lifestyle? I know completely changing your diet can be a huge challenge. And to make sure that what you eat is tasty and varied. To help those of you with food allergies, I’ve been trying to remember to tag recipes with allergy information where applicable. You can do a search on the left.

That brings me to today’s post. Ever had dosa or idlis in a South Indian restaurant? The lentil curry that always comes on the side is called Sambhar. Now I think it’s a delicious dish in it’s own right and can be eaten as a main meal. The best part is that you can easily make 2 or 3 times the recipe and have a big pot to last you all week. It’s one of those rare curries that I don’t get tired of easily. I made this sambhar without onion but still included tomatoes and green beans (also on the FODMAP list). But they were easy enough to pick out.

The other thing I love about sambhar is that it is so flexible. You can eat it with rice or other grains like millet. We often cook pearl millet instead of rice at home. You can also eat it by itself as soup. It’s delicious with a spicy Indian pickle on the side or with papadum.

sambhar

typical vegetables for sambhar

Typical vegetables used for sambhar

cooking the sambhar vegetables

Cooking the sambhar vegetables 

Serves 4

  • 1 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida
  • 10 curry leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sambhar powder (buy in Indian store or see below)
  • 1 scant teaspoon tamarind extract, dissolved in 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup vegetables (3 of any of green beans, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, tomato, etc), cut to 1 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish

Rinse the toor dal thrice. Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or till the lentils are soft and fully cooked.  Mash the lentils with a masher or large spoon.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a thick bottomed pot. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, throw in a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Sizzle the whole spices just for 5-10 seconds before adding the turmeric, sambhar powder, and tamarind extract in water. Stir well.

Add the vegetables, salt and enough water to just cover them. Bring to a boil, and simmer covered on low for 10 minutes or till the vegetables are cooked. Add water to just cover the vegetables if needed.

Transfer the vegetables to the pot in which you cooked the toor dal. Mix well. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.

Sambhar Powder 

  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons urud dal (dehusked, split black lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • ½ tablespoon black peppercorn
  • ½ tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 10 red chilis

Dry roast the whole spices and urud dal for 3 minutes on medium low heat. Grind to a fine powder in a spice blender along with the turmeric and asafetida.

a pot of sambhar

A pot of sambhar

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Baingan Ka Bharta

baingan ka bharta

Baingan ka bharta, smoky eggplant cooked with onions, tomatoes and garam masala

As summer draws to a close and the days shorten, I’m sometimes at a loss as to what I want to eat. Something cooling or something warming? Something light or comfort food? In a few more weeks, this won’t be a problem. In a few more weeks, I’ll be wanting Daal or a hearty stew almost every day. Till then, I want to enjoy what’s left of the sun before it disappears from Seattle skies for another eight months. Till then, I want something light and comforting.

That’s where this brilliant dish comes in. Once you make it, it’s up to you to eat it piping hot, scooped up in warm naan or eat it cold mixed with a swirl of yogurt and a bit of rice. It can be made into a light meal or a substantial one. It’s also great for weekend brunches as you can spread some of that smoky eggplant goodness on crusty slices of baguette and top off with gruyere.

In this Punjabi dish, the eggplant is traditionally smoked by placing it whole in a fire or on hot coal. At home, I roast the eggplant in the oven. You could also use the broiler.

Baingan ka bharta is easily one of my favorite eggplant dishes. I love eggplant. I have an unabashed and unapologetic desire for it’s taste and texture. If you’re not sure about this glorious vegetable, be warned, this recipe might not be for you!

And finally, here’s the recipe after the pictures.

Oven roasted eggplant

Oven roasted eggplant, shriveled up but oh so tasty

peeling the oven roasted eggplant

Peeling the oven roasted eggplant

 

Roasted eggplant curry served with pita bread

Roasted eggplant curry served with pita bread

pita bread with baingan ka bharta

Baingan ka bharta in pita! Served with a side of roasted cauliflower for a delicious vegan meal.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

(Printer friendly recipe for baingan ka bharta)

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 teaspoons + 4 tablespoons high heat oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • Roughly 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 a lime or to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Tomato slices for garnish

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse and dry the whole eggplants. Smear them all over with high heat oil. Place the eggplants on a tray lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes or till the eggplants are wrinkly and shrivelled up. Don’t worry, they’ll taste all smoky and rich! Broiling them should speed it up but unfortunately we have an old gas oven and the broiler is inconsistent. You can roast the eggplants ahead of time and refrigerate them if you like.
  2. Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and cut the ends. You can remove the seeds if you dislike the bitterness of eggplants. Chop roughly.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. The oil is hot enough if a cumin seed thrown in sizzles.
  4. Sizzle the cumin seeds for just 10 seconds before adding the onions, garlic and ginger.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently or till the onion is slightly brown.
  6. Add all the spices, tomatoes and 1/2 glass of water. Cook for another 10 minutes or till the tomatoes are mushy and the oil has separated.
  7. Add the eggplant, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  8. Salt to taste and squeeze half of a fresh lime. Garnish with chopped cilantro and slices of tomato.
  9. Serve with naan, pita bread, spread on baguette or with rice.

Have a glorious weekend!

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Curried Turnips and Cauliflower

curried turnips and cauliflower

Curried turnips and cauliflower

October 24th is National Food Day, a celebration of sustainable, healthy and more affordable food for all. Food Day was started as a movement to get America to eat better, to eat real food. Since eating is such a social act, Food Day is organizing events and parties around the country. So mark your calendars and check the Food Day website to find fun events in your area.

Here at Veena’s Market, we love great food! And great food starts with using the best ingredients. And where do you get the best produce? At Farmer’s Markets, of course. Other than growing vegetables yourself, it’s hard to find fresher and tastier produce than directly from the farmer herself.

Today, Food Day showcased my recipe for Aloo Gobi. What I made though was a version inspired by what I found at my neighborhood market. The recipe is on the Food Day blog.

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My Trip to India

So many travel to India to discover themselves through meditation. I was born in India and didn’t leave till I was 17. As some of you may remember, I went to India last December and discovery or rather re-discovery, especially of my culinary roots was top of my mind. I thought a six week trip would be long enough. When it was time to leave though, I was very tempted to extend my stay for another month. There were so many things I still wanted to do and learn. For example, there was a week long coffee tasting and marketing course that was starting the day after my flight. I had to skip a trip to Chennai for cooking lessons in order to accommodate a few days relaxing in Goa. And with all the hustle and bustle of getting around in a big city like Bangalore, I didn’t have as much time to go shopping for kitchen tools as I would have liked (nor luggage space really, but that’s a different point). I’d also really wanted to spend some time on rural farms. Instead, I stuck to my plans and headed back to Seattle.

Perhaps it was the snow storm that hit the day after we got back, but the hectic pace of India that I’d been complaining to everyone about when I was there, suddenly seemed vibrant and exciting rather than annoying and hassle filled.  Rather than family offering me food all the time, I had to go shopping and cook. There was a void. It took about a week to get over the jetlag but about a month to get over the mindlag.

I regret not having had a longer time to spend in India, but I know what things I’ll be focusing on for my next trip. In the meantime, I realized that I hadn’t pulled together as many blog posts of my trip as I had wanted to! Here’s a start. These are all the posts related to my trip. I do have more video material that I haven’t processed due to technical issues. Here’s hoping I can afford to buy a new laptop soon and get more cooking videos completed soon!

Bangalore City Market

Heaps of kumkum and turmeric at the Bangalore City Market

Romantic Red Hills in the Nilgiris

Red Hills Guest House, Ooty

How Seven Beans Changed the World: Indian Coffee Part 1

The Story of Indian Coffee

The Story of Indian Coffee

From Bush to Bean: Indian Coffee Part 2

Coffee Harvesting

Coffee Harvesting

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Curry

Mangalore pineapple curry

A Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Curry from the West Coast of India

An Afternoon with Sabudana

Sabudana Khichdi

Learning How to Make Sabudana Khichdi

The Third Most Expensive Spice in the World

Cardamom: The third most expensive spice in the world

Cardamom: The third most expensive spice in the world

Swiss Chard and Yogurt Curry Sauce

swiss chard and yogurt curry sauce

Swiss chard in a Mangalore style “Thambli” or Yogurt Curry Sauce

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Naanstop Yum

gluten free dairy free yeast free stove top naan recipe

Naanresistable

I made this naan three days in a row. I couldn’t stop. It was so good. Perhaps it was because I haven’t had any regular naan in three months due to food allergies. Or perhaps it was the thin slices of spring shallots from the farmers market that made them so flavorful. Whatever it was, they were naanresistable. What was that? Too many naansensical puns? OK OK I’ll stop. But only if you promise to give this recipe a try!

If you hadn’t made it yourself, you might not even have realized that they are not made with wheat. Oh by the way, there is also no dairy or yeast. Best of all, this is an instant dough. You don’t need to wait for it to raise.

This is starting to sound like an infomercial, isn’t it? But wait, make this naan in the next 24 hours, and you will lose weight.

He he. What can I say, I’m just happy to be eating naan again!

Printer friendly recipe

Naan ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free flour
  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill finely ground Tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (you can substitute lime juice)

Topping (optional but recommended)

  • Thinly sliced shallots or garlic
  • Cumin seeds

Recipe

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir all the wet ingredients. Now make a well in your flour and pour in the wet ingredients. Knead till you achieve a smooth and soft dough that doesn’t stick to the bowl. A lot depends on the size of the eggs. If you cannot bring the dough together at all, add a couple of tablespoons of warm water and try again. If the dough is too wet, add another tablespoon or two of the gluten free flour. Smear some oil all around the ball of dough also helps to work with it. I also recommend slightly oiling the cutting board, rolling pin and your hands as the dough is quite sticky. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. These naans are about half the size of the regular ones.

Smooth out each ball of dough and flatten in your palms before placing on the board. Roll out gently and stop when you have a 3 inch circle that is about a centimeter thick. This is a good time to sprinkle your toppings on. Continue rolling out gently until you have a 5 inch circle. Instead of rolling it out all the way, I personally found it easier to simply pick up the naan half way and stretch it out like pizza dough by rotating it in the air like a disc. Try it both ways a couple of times and I think you’ll get the hang of it. If your dough is not too stretchy, your flour to egg ratio was slightly too high.

Roll out all the naans at least mid way and cover with a slightly damp towel. Spread high heat oil on a cast iron skillet. Heat over medium heat till it just starts smoking. Have some oil on hand as you will need to smear a teaspoon of oil in between batches.

Once the skillet is ready, gently lift the naans and place 2-3 or how many ever will fit on the skillet. I like to put the side of the naan down that does not have the toppings. In a few seconds, you should see the bubbles forming. This is a good sign. Turn over the naan and let the other side cook when you see a few dark spots. After a few minutes, you might need to lower the heat slightly if your skillet starts smoking too much. Make all the naan and place in a single layer on a plate and cover. Once all of them are done, smear them with some olive oil, butter or ghee. I like to use ghee (clarified butter), since it has great flavor and with the dairy solids removed, I can eat it.

For best consistency, use a cast iron skillet and make sure that it is slightly smoky at all times.

I served the naan with just mint chutney once and they were delicious and all gone in 10 minutes.

Let me know how this recipe works out for you. And if you took a picture, post it on the facebook page please!

soft naan gluten free dairy free yeast free

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Cucumber sandwiches with spicy mint chutney and homemade tomato sauce

mint chutney and homemade ketchup tea sandwiches, backyard mint

graceful wisteria blossoms

It was a sunny evening a few days ago when I was wandering about the backyard that had come alive with colorful flowers. The rhubarb plants seemed to have sprung out of nowhere and the asparagus sprouts had become a bush! The wisteria blossoms hung gracefully from the roof of the garage. Our dining room looks out to the backyard and seeing this lush garden come alive always brings a smile to my face.

In my last post, I shared a recipe for almond breadcrumb fritters dipped in cardamom and vanilla honey syrup. It was divine. It was my sweet tribute to my mom and all moms. And thinking about my mom and food always reminds me of what she would make for my brother and I when we were kids. Sometimes I wonder if those memories glorify the food we ate as kids more so than they deserve. I don’t think so but they do say that memories are always rosier than reality.Every once in a while though, it feels great to relive the memories and cook something from your childhood. A couple of days ago, I did just this.

One of the traditions that Indians picked up from the British is that of afternoon tea. When we came back home from school, my mom would make us chai or bournvita with cookies (or biscuits as cookies are known in India). Every once in a while, she would have cucumber sandwiches as well. We always loved it when these simple treats showed up in our lunch boxes. They were also perfect for picnics, easy to make and carry and minimum mess to clean up. And I think I’m going to make these sandwiches again for brunch this weekend.

With my new found allergies, could I recreate this sandwich treat? And if I could, would they stand up to my childhood memories? I was excited to find that Udi’s makes gluten free, dairy free, and soy free breads. And I was pretty sure that I could make the green mint sauce and tomato ketchup that are essential in the cucumber sandwich.

The sauces were really easy to make. The bread was not too bad. You can’t compare it to wheat bread and you shouldn’t. I did find though that toasting the gluten free bread made it taste and hold up better. Obviously, if you are lucky enough to be able to eat gluten, go with your favorite bread. I will say, however, that these tea sandwiches are usually made with white bread, with the crust cut out.

Here’s the recipe and let’s hope this spell of wonderful weather in Seattle continues for a few months 🙂

cucumber sandwiches with mint chutney and homemade tomato sauce

Mint chutney, homemade tomato chutney, crisp slices of cucumber

Printer friendly recipe for cucumber sandwiches

Ingredients

White bread (how many ever slices you need – 2 slices will make 2 sandwiches)

1/2 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

For the spicy mint chutney

  • 3/4 cup of mint leaves (I harvested these from the mint plants that were all over the backyard!)
  • 1-2 thai green chili, optional
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
  • juice of 1/2 a lime (feel free to substitute a lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coarsely ground cumin (I used a mortar and pestle)
  • 3-5 pitted dates (more if you added 1 or more chilis)

For the fresh homemade tomato sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilli or powder
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey

Recipe

Blend the mint chutney ingredients with the minimum amount of water needed, about 1/2 a cup. Taste and add more salt or lime juice as desired. If the chutney is too runny, add more mint leaves and blend.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan. Sizzle the cumin seeds and crushed red chili. Add the tomatoes, salt and honey and stir. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool and blend. Taste and adjust the salt and honey as desired.

Toast the bread if you like. Spread the mint chutney on one side and the tomato chutney on another. Add a single layer of sliced cucumber pieces. I add 4. Cut out the crust if you like. Slice diagonally or in other fun shapes. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a glass of sparkling wine. This is also a great family friendly recipe since you can simply switch out with regular bread for those who can eat it. Also, you can get kids to help assemble the sandwiches!

And were the sandwiches as good as my mom’s? I realized that it almost didn’t matter. What did was the reliving of them. The sauces were yummy and I used them as a dip the next day for corn chips. The bread was really not too bad, especially toasted, but for me didn’t quite replace the taste of wheat bread. I’m pretty sure though that I will make these again.

homemade spicy mint and tomato sauces with gluten dairy and soy free bread

Toasted gluten free bread with cucumber, spicy mint and homemade tomato sauces

beautiful iris

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My 3 tips for mindful eating

It seems like writing about mindful eating is in these days.  It has been the subject of a few discussions between my husband and I in the last few months. He almost inhales his food, it’s gone before I’m done chewing the second mouthful. He finds it comical that I chew every bite about 30 times. Yes I actually do. He grabs a sandwich or whatever he can lay his hands on when he’s hungry. The thought of eating something that doesn’t taste good and is likely not healthy makes me squeamish.

And then he sent me this NY Times article to read. And this was in my Facebook stream. It was a sign. I’m always right of course, but this time, there was proof! And I just had to jump on the bandwagon.

For me, I think mindful eating started with wine tasting. It was because of all the attention paid to what wine I was drinking, where the grapes came from, how the wine looked and tasted, how old was the wine, what style was it made in? All this even before the first, careful, gurgling sip. The wine foreplay? And then of course, it continued with how did the wine taste after certain foods? How did the food taste after the wine?

Though I had always cared about how food tasted like, it’s been a couple of years since it mattered to me where the ingredients came from and how they were grown.

I started enjoying the layers of flavor of everything I ate and with it had a new appreciation for crispy food. There was a turning point where desserts went from just sweet to: a hint of honey, the deep sweet of molasses, the secret, je ne sais quoi flavor of jaggery, the bittersweet of really dark chocolate to disgustingly sweet cakes.

Ever since I started avoiding white rice, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the nuttiness of brown basmati, the texture of Bhutanese red rice that almost confronts you with texture, the good feeling in your tummy when you eat Thai purple rice and the heavenly plumpness of boiled Doddabaira Nellu (red rice from my home state of Karnataka). On an aside, I was shocked to find out that there are more than 40,000 varieties worldwide. And I can only get 5 in my local grocery store. It’s a shame isn’t it? Anyway, I digress.

Both articles mentioned earlier have already shared some great tips on how to eat more mindfully. What can I add to the NY Times? These three tips are what helped me the most.

  1. Cook your meal with texture in mind. Steaming or sautéing vegetables, remove them while they are still crisp. Use whole wheat in your breads. Switch up rice with quinoa and give your mouth a surprise.
  2. Wine tasting helped me be more mindful. Consider this your excuse to do more ‘tasting’. Responsibly please.
  3. Eat a meal alone once in a while. It forces you to focus on the meal. And no, you’re not a loser if you do eat alone. I, in fact, have a lot of respect for those who take themselves out to dinner.

And an easy weeknight recipe that will delight the senses and help you practice!

Thai Red Curry

  • 1 cup mixed vegetables cut to bite size pieces (I love broccoli, beans, bell pepper or anything with some crunch)
  • 1/2 lb or stir fry meat or tofu (I used chestnuts as an experiment and they were fantastic and talk about texture!)
  • 2 thin slices of ginger cut into ‘matchsticks’
  • 1 small onion or shallot, sliced
  • A handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
  • 1 15 Oz can of coconut milk (first pressing preffered)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan on medium heat. Saute the ginger and shallots for 2 minutes or till the shallots are lightly browned. Add the thai red curry paste (have a lid handy when you do) and stir for 30 seconds. Add the meat/tofu and brown slightly before including the vegetables. Stirfry everything for 3 minutes before adding the coconut milk and cilantro. Cover and cook for another 3 minutes or till meat and vegetables are done. Add salt to taste.

Serve with Thai purple rice or Bhutanese red rice. I used my favorite Indian red rice.

thai red curry with chestnuts and vegetables

A quick Thai Red Curry made with chestnuts and vegetables

red rice

My favorite rice - Doddabaira Nellu from South India

Cheers! And now if I could only get excited about doing the dishes.

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