Tag Archives: vegetarian

Squash Soup, South Indian Style

south indian curried squash

South Indian squash curry

I posted a squash soup with spicy tahini recipe just last week. And I’m following up with a variation of it. You see,  that soup was inspired by a friend’s post. And while I was making that, my South Indian instincts took over and I had to make another version! You know what they say, you can take the girl out of South India but…

So here’s this ultra simple and awesome dish: Squash Curry. Simple, hearty and healthy! Living with food allergies does not have to be boring!

By the time this posts, I will be in Hawaii on vacation. Thank god for being able to schedule posts as this means I don’t have to take my laptop with me. This will be my first time traveling for more than a couple of days after being diagnosed with all the food issues. Fortunately, we were able to find places to stay with kitchens. So I’ll be cooking in Hawaii and hopefully learning more about its cuisine!

I made this with a mix of one squash and one small pumpkin each. For a sweeter version, use just the delicata squash.

South Indian Style squash and pumpkin curry

serves 3-4

  • 2 cups squash / pumpkin puree (cut into slices, brush with olive oil, bake at 425 for 40 minutes and then puree)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (coconut oil or vegetable oil works fine too)
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 green chilis, chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger cut into thin matchsticks (grated works too)
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime or to taste


Heat the ghee or oil in a small saucepan. Sizzle the cumin seeds, curry leaves and red chilis. After 10 seconds, add the ginger and green chilis and saute for another 20 seconds. Remove from heat. This is your tadka or spice seasoning.

Thin out the puree to your desired consistency and warm up in the microwave. I like the consistency of this curry to be thinner than pumpkin soup but not too runny. Mix in the tadka. Add salt and lime juice to taste.

Serve with rice and cucumber.

tadka for the curry

Tadka for the Squash curry

dairy free, gluten free, fodmap, Squash and pumpkin soup, South Indian style

Squash and pumpkin soup, South Indian style

Simple, hearty and healthy! Living with food allergies does not have to be boring!




Filed under America, India, Recipe

Squash and Pumpkin Soup with Garam Masala Spiced Tahini

spicy tahini squash and pumpkin soup

spicy tahini squash and pumpkin soup

I’ve been complaining about my food allergies on this blog these last few months! It’s definitely been a challenge to keep cooking traditional Indian dishes at home that I can blog about. With every new addition to my list of food issues, I went through each of these phases: disbelief that you can’t eat that food, despair as to how you’re ever going to do without it, kitchen clean up where I get rid of all the offending ingredients and subsequent trip to the grocery store to stack up on things that I can eat, experimentation with new recipes and finally, finally feeling like it’s not that big a deal any more.

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with food allergies, how are you doing? Wondering what you can cook or eat when you go out? Please reach out and send me a note. I’d love to help if I can. Here’s the list of foods I’m avoiding and I’d be more than happy to fill you in on recipes and substitutions (Fruits and vegetables are listed because I need to follow what’s called a FODMAP diet):

Dairy (with the exception of ghee), all soy products, gluten, lima beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, peanuts, honey, corn syrup, agave, most artificial sugars, most vinegars, coconut, apples, pear, cherries, watermelon, figs, mango, avocado, nectarines, plums, prunes, bananas, cabbage, green beans, onions, shallots, garlic, beetroot, asparagus, artichoke, leek, spring onion, radicchio, chicory, and tomatoes. 

pumpkin soup with spicy tahini garnished with garam masala roasted squash seeds

Garam masala roasted squash and pumpkin seeds are the perfect garnish for this fall soup

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw this butternut squash dip recipe my friend Alli had posted! It was seasonal, spicy and different from other pumpkin or squash soups. I had to make a few adjustments of course including leaving out the yogurt. If I could do coconut milk, I would have loved to use that as a replacement.

I had a delicata squash and a small pumpkin at home that needed to get used up. I also had a jar of tahini that I hadn’t done very much with. Alli’s recipe not only inspired me to make a spicy squash/pumpkin soup but I loved the way she combines the butter with tahini and spices. I microwaved tahini, ghee (instead of butter), cinnamon, cayenne and salt together. This on its own is a great dip by the way! But it adds a wonderful depth to the dish that you don’t get with just the typical squash and cream soup.

I remade Alli’s recipe into this dish below (scroll down for the recipe) but came up with another really simple idea for curried squash puree that I will share next week! A hint, it’s made South Indian style.

Happy Autumn!

roasted pumpkin and delicata squash

Roasted pumpkin and delicata squash ready to be pureed

delicata squash soup with spiced tahini

Delicata squash soup with spiced tahini


Adapted from Alli Shircliff’s recipe on her blog An Open Cookbook

Serves 3-4

  • 1 delicata squash, sliced, brushed with olive oil and oven roasted for 40 mins at 425*
  • 1 small pumpkin, sliced, brushed with olive oil and oven roasted for 40 minutes at 425*
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Puree the roasted squash and pumpkin in a food processor with some water.Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes on medium high power. Fold into the puree. Adjust for salt if necessary. I had to add another 1/2 glass of water to thin out the soup to my desired consistency. I think I could have easily doubled the amount of garam masala.

*Bonus: Rinse and pat dry the seeds from the squash and pumpkin. Toss with olive oil, 2 pinches of salt and garam masala. Roast in the oven (lowered heat to 300) for 10 minutes. Allow to cool down before eating. These roasted seeds are great as a garnish or on their own as a snack. If you like pumpkin beer, I’m sure these will pair really well.


Filed under America, India, Recipe

How to Make Saag Paneer

saag paneer

Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer has got to be one of the most popular dishes in Indian restaurants! I helped my friends produce this video for Allercipes on how to make authentic saag paneer. Don’t want to round up all the spices yourself? Check out our Saag recipe kit!

How to Make Saag Paneer



Filed under General, India

Do You Love Black Eyed Peas Too?

I told someone the other day that I had black-eyed peas for dinner. She gave me a funny look. It took me a few seconds to get why.

But seriously, I love black-eyed peas. The legume.

It was one of those evenings when I didn’t have very much on hand in the crisper. Just an avocado, some butter lettuce, a bit of cilantro and some green chilies. I also wanted something light that wouldn’t take too long to cook. Thankfully, I spied a can of black-eyed peas, just waiting to be opened. And of course, I knew exactly what I was going to make: Indomexican “tacos’ with a South Indian style curried black-eyed peas in corn tortillas or lettuce.

This dish is for those who want something fresh and tasty. And quick.

Oh and this dish happens to be gluten free, dairy free, soy free and is perfect for Meatless Mondays.

south indian tortillas with black eyed peas, coconut chutney, butter lettuce

A South Indian taco

Printer Friendly Recipe


  • 1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 2 small green chiles, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5-10 curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Juice of ½ lime or lemon
  • 3 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Corn tortillas or lettuce (I used butter lettuce, but others will work too)
  • 1 avocado, sliced


Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, drop in a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot. Sizzle the mustard seeds and curry leaves for just 10 seconds. Be careful as the oil will splash.

Saute the onion and chiles until the onion is slightly brown, 5-10 minutes.

Add the black-eyed peas and mix well. Turn off heat.

Stir in the coconut, cilantro and lime juice.

Serve with coconut chutney, avocado slices and tortillas or lettuce. Wrap and enjoy.

Note to self: Need more black-eyed peas in my life. 

stone ground corn tortillas with a south indian black eyed peas filling

stone ground corn tortillas with a south indian black-eyed peas filling

lettuce tortillas with south indian black eyed peas filling

Lettuce tortillas with south indian black-eyed peas filling


Filed under India, Mexico, Recipe

Curry Leaves and Curries

Curry leaves

Fresh curry leaves

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe and I hope to make amends with this guest post. This is a post for Chitra Agrawal of The ABCD’s of Cooking, a kindred spirit in NYC. I met Chitra on Twitter a couple of months ago and love what she’s doing with her blog, videos and events to educate people about authentic Indian cooking techniques and share homestyle food . If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll check out her cooking events and supper club. About that same time I met Chitra, I had also ordered a curry leaf plant start online. So when Chitra asked if I would contribute a post on her Spice Route segment, I knew what I’d have to write about. Alas, the curry leaf plant never made it to me. The farm had more orders than plant starts and they canceled my order. But, the blog post did happen.

So, I’m excited to introduce Chitra here and send you over to her cool site for more on curry leaves and a Cauliflower Curry that marries the earthy flavors of curry leaves beautifully with the sweetness and richness of coconut milk.


mise en place with spices and herbs, finished cauliflower curry

The ingredients are simple and few to make this yummy cauliflower curry

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Filed under India, Recipe, Spices

A Crunchy Salad for Summer

kosambri or mung bean cucumber salad

Kosambri or mung bean cucumber salad

A couple of months ago, we took a friend who was visiting Seattle, to see some of the iconic sights. After a stroll along the Olympic Sculpture Gardens and navigating the crowds outside Pike Place market, we went inside to see the fishmongers.  It was there, opposite the famous fish stall and next to the flowers, that my hay fever allergy started. I’d never had allergies before so I thought I was coming down with something until the food allergies also kicked in. For the first time in my life, eating an apple made my lips swell up and my throat burn. And oatmeal (at least I think it is oatmeal) made me feel ill.

So my list of Things That I Cannot Eat grew from just dairy to include gluten, sugar, oatmeal, apple, pear, alcohol and some nuts among other things.  I’d already been on a cleanse so while it wasn’t as hard as you might think, I’d sometimes scratch my head in despair trying to figure out what to cook. This has all been a bit of a bizarre experience especially since I ate pretty healthy to begin with. The allergy test results will be back in a few weeks and I’m crossing my fingers that some of those foods will come off the list.

I’m taking this as a challenge and an exercise in creativity. While I miss some familiar things like rotis, naans and chapatis, I can still make ragi rottis. Instead of white rice, I’ve switched completely over to brown and red rices and don’t miss white rice at all. Desserts? I’d given up sweets a long time ago anyway. What do I miss? Granola. Oatmeal with banana. A glass of wine with dinner. Samosas. Pasta. Parmigiano. The simple things in life really.

BUT there are still so many things that I can eat. For instance, I had slices of avocado with freshly ground pepper, Thai style egg curry with Sri Lankan rice, and this lovely mung bean salad from South India for lunch today. While my food needs to nourish my body, it still needs to taste good to nourish my soul. And this lunch hit the spot. It is crunchy, full of flavor, filling, and allergen free!

It’s not quite summer yet but I’m sure most of you are eagerly awaiting it. I know I am. I can’t wait to trade in boots for sandals and to stop carrying around an umbrella. In the meantime, I’m declaring it summer at home.

So here’s my recipe for Kosambri or mung bean and cucumber salad from Karnataka. I’m sorry to say that there is no more salad left. The husband couldn’t get enough of it last night which made me very happy.

Print mung bean and cucumber salad recipe


The ratio of ingredients is approximate. Feel free to vary to your taste.

  • 1 cup mung beans, rinsed and soaked for 2 days or till it sprouts.
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 green chilis, sliced lengthwise (optional)
  • Salt to taste


Mix together all the ingredients except for the salt and toss well. Add salt to taste just before serving so that the cucumber stays crunchy.


I used whole mung beans although the original version of this salad uses split mung beans. Sprouted beans have more nutrition and are easier to digest. Plus I love how mung beans look.

I defrosted frozen grated coconut. If you don’t have access to an Indian store, you can sometimes find dessicated unsweetened coconut flakes in regular grocery stores. Rehydrate the flakes in warm water for 10 minutes.

mung bean cucumber salad


Kosambri salad



Filed under India, Recipe

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Curry

spicy pineapple curry

Ah the memories! Pineapple Curry from Udupi.

By the time the train pulled into the station in Mangalore, it was past 9 in the evening. I’d already lugged my black suitcase from below the seat in front of me to the carriage door, ready to disembark in seconds. This was my first time traveling alone by train in India. After a 7 hour ride in a full carriage, and some uncomfortable stares from people silently questioning what a decent looking young woman was doing traveling by herself, I was more than ready to get off.

But no matter, I was in Mangalore! And I was looking forward to meeting my old neighbors and to a couple of days of world famous Udupi food. If you’ve ever been to a South Indian restaurant outside of India, there’s a 50% chance it is called Udupi after the seaside town that is some forty miles north of Mangalore on the west coast of India. The Tulu community, of this region spread to other parts of India especially around the time of WW1 and WW2 escaping food rations and disease. Wherever they went, the Tulus opened restaurants serving Udupi cuisine. Over time, the restaurants served the most popular dishes like Dosas (crispy lentil and rice crepes), Idlis (steamed rice cakes), and Vadas (savory doughnuts).

And so I came to this epicenter of good food with high expectations and lots of childhood memories. My cousin who studied in the area had introduced my brother and I to Udupi fish fry back in 1996 on one of our first trips back to India. So while I could always eat a good dosa or idli, it was this fish fry, red from the spices it’s fried with, that I had a hankering for.

I was also craving Dodda’s mango curry. The grandmother of my old neighbors in Bangalore, affectionately known as Dodda, had passed away many years ago. She was from the Udupi area and the mango curry she made was not something people in Bangalore, where I grew up, knew how to make. I hadn’t had this mango curry in maybe twelve years

Gadbad ice cream, a dessert where layers of various ice cream flavors are alternated with dry fruits, fresh fruits and nuts, is a recent but iconic Mangalore ‘food’. One summer when my cousins and I were kids, we spent our summer vacation in Mangalore while my grandfather recovered from surgery. This was our treat of choice and we indulged regularly! The Gadbad ice cream was the only thing still available everywhere in Mangalore and Udupi.

None of those other dishes I’d reminisced about over the years were served anywhere I went. All the restaurants had the same standard menu that was to be found in Udupi restaurants elsewhere in the world. The difference was they also served North Indian and Chinese food. If you’ve had a different experience and know of great restaurants in Udupi, please share in the comments!

Who the hell goes to Udupi for Chinese food, I complained bitterly to myself. My only consolation of having traveled far to get to Mangalore was to visit those old neighbors who I hadn’t seen in more than a decade. So, imagine my joy, when, after having returned to Bangalore, I was offered a cooking lesson with a family friend who is from Mangalore! Susheela Aunty, the family friend who gave me the lesson is an expert in making pineapple curry, a very close relative of the mango curry of my youth.

It is now my pleasure to share this recipe with you. Cooking this in rainy Seattle brings back not only the memories of my recent trip to India a couple of months ago, but also all those childhood memories that seem tied to food in one way or another.

This dish is slightly more complicated than most other recipes that I share on this blog. There are a few more ingredients and cooking steps. But I hope that you will find the time and patience to try this dish. It is truly worth it.

Click here for a video version of the pineapple curry recipe.


  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and diced (or 2 cans unsweetened pineapple chunks)
  • 1 cup mild (byadige) dry red chilis (you could substitute 2-4 of a hotter variety)
  • 2 teaspoons urud dal or dehusked split black lentils
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek
  • 3 whole curry leaves stems
  • 10-15 curry leaves
  • Pinch asafetida
  • 3/4 cup grated fresh coconut (you can substitute frozen or dessicated, unsweetened coconut*)
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup jaggery or brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • Salt to taste ~1 teaspoon

* If using frozen coconut, thaw before using. If using dessicated coconut, rehydrate in warm water for 10 minutes.

Roast dry red chilis in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove the chilis and in the same pan, saute urud dal,  coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek, curry leaf stems or 2-3 curry leaves, and asafetida for 2-3 minutes on medium heat.

Add the grated coconut and roasted chilies. Saute for another 2 minutes on medium heat. Remove and put aside to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium heat in the same pan or another big enough to hold all the pineapple pieces and water When you see oil ripples on the surface, throw in a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.  Add the black mustard seeds and the curry leaves and fry for 15 seconds.

Add and bring to a gentle boil 2 cups of water, jaggery and turmeric.

Add the diced pineapple. Bring again to a boil, lower heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes till the pineapple can be easily pinched. Canned pineapple may cook faster.

While waiting on the pineapple, grind the roasted spices and coconut with 1cup of water or as little as needed to make the flavor base or “masala”. I use my blender for this.

Add the ground ‘masala’ to the cooked pineapple. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes adding a bit more water if the curry starts sticking to the pan. Add salt to taste.

Serve over rice or with rotis chapatis, idlis or dosas.

fresh whole pineapple

Cutting up a whole fresh pineapple

Cooking the diced pineapple

Cooking the diced pineapple with mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric and jaggery

pineapple curry from udupi or mangalore

Udupi Pineapple Curry


Filed under India, Recipe

Swiss Chard and Yogurt Curry Sauce


Swiss Chard

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe. Not that I haven’t been cooking. Just that when I do, it’s in the evening and the light is terrible here in cloudy/rainy Seattle. Anyone else ready for some sun? I know I am and not just so I can take pictures in the evening.

I know many of you are too busy to be able to cook much during the week. Or you are so tired that ordering in feels like an infinitely better plan than cooking and worse, cleaning up. I know the feeling.

Since I don’t like eating out too much, I end up cooking simple dinners most of the time. This recipe is a great example. It is also a tasty way of using up greens that may not last till the weekend. It’s kind of like the pesto of South Indian food.

The dish is called Thambli and is typically made with garlic, South Indian red chilies (byadige), cumin, fenugreek and yogurt. Thambli is normally one of the first sides served in a thali meal in Mangalorean cuisine. But the recipe is versatile and can be used with greens like spinach and swiss chard. You could probably also use mustard greens or kale though you would have to sauté it longer or braise before blending.

Thambli is always made with yogurt. I haven’t tried it without yogurt but I imagine you could blend with avocado or coconut milk to make it dairy free. Have you made it this way? I’d love to hear from you!

Swiss Chard Thambli – Serves 2

  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 long dry red chilis (optional), stalks removed
  • 1/2 – 1 bunch swiss chard, cut into 1 inch wide threads
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup yogurt
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a pot or skillet large enough to accommodate the swiss chard. When the surface of the oil start shimmering, add the cumin, fenugreek, garlic and chilis. Let sizzle for 15 seconds while stirring occasionally to prevent the garlic from burning.

Saute the swiss chard till it softens. You don’t need to completely wilt it.

Allow to cool.

In a food processor or blender, blend the sautéed swiss chard with 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste and add more yogurt or salt as necessary.

Serve over hot rice with a side of pickle or pappadum. And hopefully you can get your spouse to clean the kitchen 🙂

thambli blender

Blending the swiss chard, spices and yogurt

swiss chard thambli

Swiss Chard Thambli, simple and unassuming but yummy and fulfilling


Filed under India, Recipe

Bell Peppers with Aloo Gobi Stuffing

[This was originally written on 11/21/11 for a guest post on the Gnaana blog.]

One of my favorite things about Fall is Thanksgiving and one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is stuffing! And I was eager to create a new stuffing recipe based on the popular Indian vegetable dish – Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower cooked and sautéed with onions and warm spices). But apparently there is a shortage of organic cauliflower around these parts and my neighborhood grocery store was out of this vegetable.

My eyes spied the Romanesco Broccoli also called the Romanesco Cauliflower. Being fractal lovers, I knew my husband and I would appreciate it in our stuffing. But it does have a slightly sharper taste than cauliflower. Should I continue my search for cauliflower or would the Romanesco Broccoli work well with my recipe and would others like it? There was only one way to find out. I bought it!

Just one shelf down from the Romanesco Broccoli was brightly colored bell peppers, just calling out to me. My recipe took another turn in that moment and I decided to stuff them with my aloo ‘gobi’ stuffing.

Sometimes when I experiment like this or make too many changes to a recipe, the dish doesn’t turn out too well. Fortunately, this story had a happy ending. The bell peppers with aloo gobi stuffing were a visual and tasty treat.

So if you’re looking for an Indian twist this Thanksgiving, here’s a fabulous recipe for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gorgeous fall colors and the beautiful romanesco broccoli

Bell pepper 'cups' with aloo gobi stuffing

A vegetarian feast


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Filed under America, Holiday, India

For a Twist on Thanksgiving

All geared up for the big day tomorrow? If you’re like me, then you’re doing the last minute scramble and the to do list is still a mile long. Yikes! For those looking for a vegetarian alternative to the traditional thanksgiving meal or just an interesting take on the classics, there are lots of recipes. Gnaana, an Indian parenting resource, will be publishing my recipe, a fusion of the classic Indian Aloo Gobi with Thanksgiving stuffing, tomorrow.  In the meantime, here are a couple of recipes I published on the blog last thanksgiving (after the photo).

Fall bounty for a vegetarian pumpkin curry

Green Beans South Indian Style

Pumpkin Curry

Happy Gobble Gobble!

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Filed under America, Holiday, India