Potato Soufflé

There are certain dishes that form sets and are always prepared together. Like the traditional dishes ‘egg lace’ and ‘marbled egg’. Stuffed potato skins is also a dish that is part of a set, but the good thing is, there are several dishes that you can choose from to form the second part of the set. For example, you can use the potato flesh that is scooped out of the skins to make home fries, a potato salad, potato vadas, or a potato soufflé.


Generally, the word soufflé induces a sort of fear in many people, even those who are confident cooks otherwise. After all, collapsing soufflés, are a regular source of mirth in sitcoms and cartoons. Believe me, it is a fear that can be overcome with the first attempt at a not-so-complex soufflé. And this potato soufflé is the perfect one for that attempt. It is simple enough without too many steps to follow, has very few ingredients, and no fancy ingredients either. So if you haven’t made a soufflé yet, now is the time! 🙂


A soufflé mix basically has two parts… the base and the egg white beaten into soft peaks. The word ‘soufflé’, originally from French, means ‘to blow up’ or ‘puff up’. That is exactly what a soufflé does. It sort of puffs itself up, with the help of the airy egg whites incorporated into the mix.


Of course, you have to take care to beat the eggs in an absolutely dry bowl. Also, not get even a trace of the egg yolks into the whites. I have been told (don’t remember when or by whom) that the folding in of the beaten egg whites should be done with a wooden spatula. Don’t know the logic behind that or whether a silicon spatula would not work as well or better… I still follow that advice and use a wooden spatula! 🙂


This was designed to be not at all spicy, to focus on the flavor of the potatoes. Celery, carrots and black olives, and a pinch of nutmeg. That’s all. Of course, you can make it quite spicy by adding some minced jalapenos and onions and a pinch of curry powder.


This can be made in a soufflé dish or ramekins. Remember that the bread crumb coating on the inside of the baking dish has to be rather thick. This is what is going to give the soufflé something to adhere to, as it is rising.


So go ahead and start with this simple soufflé. We will make much more complex ones later!




Potato Soufflé
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: French
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 ribs of celery
  • 10 black olives
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bake the potatoes in their skins. When cooled, scoop out the flesh.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degree farenheit.
  3. Shred the carrot.
  4. Finely chop the celery and olives.
  5. Separate the eggs and keep the whites aside in the medium bowl that is perfectly dry.
  6. Mix together the potato flesh, shredded carrot, chopped celery and black olives.
  7. Add the nutmeg powder, cream and egg yolks and mix well.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Liberally coat the insides of the baking dish with butter.
  10. Thickly cover the butter with breadcrumbs.
  11. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites till they stand up in soft peaks.
  12. Using a flat wooden spatula, gently blend in the beaten egg whites into the potato mix.
  13. Transfer the mix into the baking dish.
  14. Sprinkle any leftover breadcrumbs on top.
  15. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Do not open the oven door till the soufflé is well-risen and the baking time is up.
  16. Take out of the oven and serve hot.


A Fruit Tart… Redolent of Summer

I’m depressed… pretty much badly. Looks like the summer is gone already. It is just about the middle of August, and the mornings are already getting cooler. Everywhere you look, there are the inevitable signs… fall fashions in the shops, fall programs in the pages of the Times… Not that one minds too much either. After all, there is a lot to enjoy in the autumn. But this early? Did summer really have its turn this year? I don’t think so!
A colourful, rich, delicious fresh fruit tart is a sure fire cure for the depression induced by oncoming weather changes; at least, temporarily. So I headed for the farm market to get some tree ripened fragrant and sweet fruit. This is a small market held three afternoons a week, and has produce only from within locavore distance. What do you think I saw when I got there? Tables and tables of squash! Acorn squashes, butternut squashes, kabocha squashes… all winter varieties! Nnnnno! No one loves a baked acorn half stuffed with onions and mushrooms and drenched in béchamel more than I do, but not already!
Keeping my eyes firmly averted, I moved towards the fruits. There they were in all their glory, bursting with a healthy glow of summer. Peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries… I returned home somewhat mollified.

This is one fruit tart that I have made many times and it comes out great every time. Most of the fruit tart recipes call for baking the shell empty (called blind baking) and then adding a creamy filling, topped with sliced fruit. Here the shell is baked with a cashew nut-based filling in it and the fruit added when cooled. Traditionally it is a frangipane – an almond paste filling – but then isn’t it always fun to tinker with traditions! 🙂

You can use any of the seasonal fruit which will look and taste good in combination. For this tart, I used peaches, plums, cherries, kiwis and bananas. Mangoes, strawberries, raspberries, blue berries, etc. will be excellent as well.
This might look complicated with all that talk, but actually it is quite easy. If you have ever baked a cake, you can do this – easy peasy!
Three sets of ingredients: one for the shell…

Another for the filling…

And a third for the topping.

Blend the first group of ingredients with your fingers and shape into the tart pan.

Mix the second group using the food processor.

And pour into the chilled shell in the tart pan.


Finally slice the third group and arrange as pretty as you can on the baked tart base, sticking it in place with some fruit preserve.

Tada! Your lovely fruit tart is ready to dig into!

Truly juicy and yummy!



A Fruit Tart... Redolent of Summer
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ cup cashew nuts (whole or pieces)
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 lb ripe mixed fruit
  • 4 tbsp fruit preserve, of a flavor that goes with the fruits you have chosen
  1. Mix the flour and sugar together.
  2. Cut the butter into slices.
  3. Make a hole in the middle of the flour mix and place the butter slices in it.
  4. Blend the egg yolk with the butter using your fingers.
  5. Now blend this mixture into the flour-sugar mix till you get a uniform crumply mixture.
  6. Sprinkle it thinly on the bottom of the pan and press down to form a uniform layer.
  7. Form small ropes with the mix and flatten them to the sides of the pan to form a continuous wall.
  8. Cover in plastic or foil wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 30 minutes. You can chill it overnight.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 degree farenheit.
  10. Keep the butter in the refrigerator.
  11. Roast the cashews on medium heat, till the edges start to brown.
  12. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  13. When cooled, place them in the food processor (with a metal blade) along with the sugar and pulse them till they are sandy in texture. Do not grind them to a smooth powder.
  14. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the cashew-sugar mix. Blend well.
  15. Add the eggs and blend well.
  16. Add the flour and blend well.
  17. Take the chilled tart shell out of the refrigerator and pour the filling evenly into the shell.
  18. Bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes, till the filling is puffed up and golden.
  19. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
  20. Pit, peel and slice all fruits as required.
  21. When the tart base has cooled, apply 3 tablespoons of the fruit preserve, uniformly on the top. (Leave aside 1 tablespoon of preserve.)
  22. Place the fruit slices in an attractive pattern over the fruit preserve.
  23. Mix the 1 tablespoon of remaining fruit preserve with 1 tablespoon of water and using a pastry brush, apply over the fruit slices to glaze them. Make sure you cover all the pieces. This will prevent them from drying out.
  24. The fruit tart is ready to serve. You can keep it in the refrigerator if not using right away, but bring it to room temperature before serving.


Kicked Up Potato Skins

You go to any news site or open any newspaper… there is at least one article on some scientific research which apparently proves that some food item or other is bad for you, healthwise. Go to the same web site, open the same newspaper a month later and you will find reports of another research project which proves the exact opposite. And if you pay attention over time, this cycle will repeat itself over and over, for sure.
Take the case of butter. More butter, better food… that was the motto of the times of Julia Child. Then came the butter police with their cautionary tales and scary statistics. Research was quoted linking butter directly to high cholesterol, leading to heart health problems. Today? Today the cycle has come full circle… to the conclusion that butter, in fact, is good for you, particularly for your heart! 🙂
Another case in point is that of potatoes. At one time, it was believed, based on “scientific research” that the skin on the potato contained toxins. So users were advised to peel the potatoes diligently. Then, later came research with the findings that the potato skin is loaded with potassium and iron and niacin and all kinds of goodies, in addition to essential fiber! That is where the situation stands now. Will it change again? Who knows, we can only guess!
I personally find all this a bit amusing. And if the dish I’m planning to cook with potatoes will be better with skins, I keep them on; otherwise peel them. I keep it that simple.

So the other day, when the craving for potatoes hit me, as it does every so often, I chose to do a combo – a dish of potato skins stuffed with goodies. And what did I do with the scooped out potato flesh? That is a topic for another day! 🙂
Starting with nice mealy large potatoes is the key to arriving at potato skins worthy of being stuffed. And smear them with some salt before baking to get the skins tasting even better. Out of the oven, just slice them and scoop out the flesh.

I used a simple mix of some veggies along with black beans and corn for the stuffing. Actually, you can try any of the combinations that you have used elsewhere. One of these days, I’m going to do a chopped meat version; should be yum.

Just chop up the vegetables and saute them all together.

And for the sauce, I used a bit of soy sauce, sriracha and some mixed herbs. This mixed herbs is a staple in my house. I grow herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and such, during the summer and fall, on my window sill. When the weather gets too cold for them and they start kind of drooping, I harvest them all and put into a warm oven to get slow dried. Crush them all together when perfectly dry and you got a year’s worth of fragrant herbs. Store them in an airtight container on the door of the freezer.

So you just cook the ingredients all together…

And pile them up in the potato skins.

And top them with some shaved melting cheese.

Place under the broiler for 5 minutes and you have the perfect combo of a gooey cheese melt in a crispy outside.

Serve with thinly sliced peppers and mini greens.





Kicked Up Potato Skins
Recipe type: Snack
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1 + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ green pepper
  • ½ orange pepper
  • 1 cup black beans, from a can
  • 1 cup corn, from a can
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce (or any other chilli sauce)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs of your choice
  • Chedder cheese shavings to tp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree farenheit.
  2. Smear the potatoes with 1 tsp of salt and the vegetable oil.
  3. Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to an hour, till done.
  4. Allow them to cool outside the oven.
  5. Chop the onions and celery into small pieces.
  6. Slice the garlic thinly.
  7. Slice the peppers into thin long strips.
  8. Drain the beans and corn and keep aside.
  9. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil.
  10. When the oil is hot, add the onions, celery and garlic.
  11. Sauté them till transparent.
  12. Add the black beans and corn to the mix, along with enough salt, and stir well.
  13. Add half the sliced peppers and the sauces and herbs to the mix.
  14. Mix well and take off the heat.
  15. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise.
  16. Scoop out the flesh from the inside, leaving a quarter inch border all around, forming a shell.
  17. Set the oven on Broil.
  18. Divide the prepared vegetable mix among the potato shells.
  19. Top with shaved cheese and keep under the broiler for 5 minutes.
  20. Serve on a platter garnished with the rest of the sliced peppers and mini greens.

Kerala Fish Meets Mediterranean Bulgur

We all know what we mean when we refer to the Mediterranean cuisine, though it is up to debate whether there is something called a Mediterranean cuisine at all! After all, the countries where the cuisine is supposed to be practiced – Greece, Turkey, Italy, Spain etc, all countries around the Mediterranean Sea – have such diverse foods and recipes!


Still, Mediterranean food has been identified by study after study, as the healthiest way of eating in the world. And there are diet plans being marketed based on the concepts of Mediterranean food.

So what are the characteristics of the food style known commonly as Mediterranean cuisine? It is based on the traditional food items of the area and consists mostly of plant based ingredients like whole grains, tomatoes, olives, lemons and uses olive oil for cooking.


Also, most of the protein in the diet comes from lentils and fish, with meat, specially red meat, limited to small quantities. In fact, the word Mediterranean itself brings up lovely images of lemon trees and olive orchards, bright sunrises, and silvery fish swimming in blue waters.


One of the cereals that feature prominently among Mediterranean food is bulgur. Made out of wheat groats (hulled kernels that include the cereal germ and bran portion which are lost during regular milling), it is high-fibre, and has a light, nutty flavour. It is different from cracked wheat, which it resembles a lot.


A bulgur with some beautiful red and green components… perfect for a summer dinner!


And to add some protein to the meal, a fish fry from the shores another sea, far away in the south western corner of India!


Fish is one of the mainstays of the food in Kerala, located on the southern most western shores of India. With a long shoreline, fresh fish is abundant except for the few weeks at the height of the monsoon rains.


And as olive oil is typical of the Mediterranean, coconut oil is the main cooking medium in Kerala. At least, it was so till the numerous warnings about the cholesterol in coconut oil turned people towards other oils. I’m so glad to see the tide turning these days and the health benefits of coconut oil being recognised.


So these two items from so far away, but from similar backgrounds, work well together in this great dinner. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!





Kerala Fish Meets Mediterranean Bulgur
Recipe type: Dinner
  • 2 filets of white fish (such as tilapia or hake)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium sized shallot (quarter of a white or red onion will also work)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (available in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper powder (adjust according to tolerance for heat)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 cup chopped sugar snap peas
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. Grind together the shallot, garlic, curry leaves, cayenne pepper and turmeric powders, with salt to taste.
  2. Marinate the fish filets in the paste for at least 1 hour. You can keep it in the refrigerator overnight, but bring to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Bring 1 ¾ cups of water to a boil. Add olive oil, lime juice and bulgur. Mix well, remove from heat and let sit covered for about 20 minutes. Once at room temperature, add the chopped ingredients and mix well.
  4. Heat the coconut oil in a non-stick frying pan. When shimmering hot, add the fish filets (keep a splatter screen handy) and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove and serve with the prepared bulgur.

Quick & Easy Chicken Curry

Chicken curry is a dish that lends itself to innumerable variations. Indeed, when you consider the fact that ‘curry’ as such is a generic term used to refer to a spiced dish with gravy, the variations can be so many. No wonder, there are as many recipes for chicken curry, as there are cooks making them!

Some of these dishes like the Mughlai versions can be quite complicated with a long list of ingredients, while some are quite simple with just a few things thrown together. Regions have their specialities just like families have their favourites. However, when a friend from my zumba class spoke about looking for an easy to make chicken curry recipe, I did not have to think at all… I knew right away the perfect one. The most straight forward, easy to make chicken curry! So Corina, this is for you!
One good thing about this curry is that, as you become an expert in it, you can experiment with it. Instead of adding water, you can try some coconut milk… or you can vary the spice mix to focus on specific flavours. This is the recipe that all kids from our family take with them when they go to unis with the hope that they will get an opportunity try it out on their friends… this is the recipe that is followed when unexpected guests turn up at the door and something good has to be whipped up right away.
The process is very simple to follow… you chop up the basic curry combo – onion, ginger, and garlic. These form the essentials of most curries. Optionally, you can include green chilles in this group. I had some very mild ones in my refrigerator; so I added them.
Then comes the vegetable part. If you like potatoes, definitely add them; they will turn out to be tastier than the chicken! And tomatoes to add to the flavour of the gravy. As you advance in the curry craft, you can add other vegetables like green peas or lima beans as well.
The next part is the spice mix. Coriander, chilli, turmeric and black pepper powders form the base. And I use the eastern eight spice mix, which I make at home, for the curry flavour.
And finally, the chicken. There is no definite preference for the pieces. Chicken thighs or breasts will work well. The whole chicken cut up into pieces can also be used.
Then it is a matter of sauté and cook. And your curry is ready! Perfect to be served with rice/pulav and a quick salad.



Quick & Easy Chicken Curry
Recipe type: Main meal
  • 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 medium onions
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 inch piece ginger
  • 1 green chilli, optional
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tsp eastern eight spice powder
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • Coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.
  2. Slice the onion into thin wedges.
  3. Cut the ginger into juliennes.
  4. Thinly slice the garlic cloves.
  5. Cut the potatoes into cubes.
  6. Cut each tomato into eight pieces.
  7. Mince a few spring of coriander leaves.
  8. Measure out all the spice powders and keep ready.
  9. In a large frying pan, heat the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies, if using.
  10. Sauté till the onions start browning around the edges.
  11. Add the potato pieces and keep stirring.
  12. After 5 minutes, add the powders and stir well.
  13. Right away, add the chicken and tomatoes and stir together for two minutes.
  14. Add enough water to cook the chicken.
  15. Cover and cook till the chicken is done.
  16. Check for consistency, adding more water if required.
  17. Take off the heat and sprinkle the minced coriander on top.
  18. Garnish with a spring of coriander and serve immediately with rice/pulav.



Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Cherry Tomatoes

There is this funny story about how humans first started cooking their meat… how a barn got burned down along with the animals in it and the sad owner burned his finger when he poked a dead (and apparently perfectly cooked) animal… and put the finger in his mouth… and went yummm… but I have not heard a story about how we started eating shrimp. Only thing I can say is, whoever started the trend, he or she must have been a courageous soul! To look at one of those grumpy looking things with all spindly legs and stalk eyed stare and think… “umm… that must taste lovely!” would have taken a truly adventurous mind.
Whoever it was, I’m eternally grateful to that person. For, that indeed tastes lovely! In fact, shrimp is the favourite of a majority of pescetarians.
The name ‘shrimp’ is used to describe a wide variety of species, often synonymously with ‘prawn’, though technically prawns are the larger cousins of shrimp. These days more than half of the shrimp in the commercial market is farmed and rather than caught in the wild.
Shrimp figures prominently in many cuisines like Chinese, Italian and Mexican. And the ways in which it can be prepared are so numerous. Elaborate preparations with complex flavours or simple salads with a basic dressing… shrimp can be the starring presence in any of them!
Here I combined the shrimp with avocado in a salad – a winning combination any day – along with some sugar snap peas.
And cherry tomatoes to add some colour, zucchini for a bit of body, and scallions for a mild heat.
Crushed garlic, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and olive oil make up the simple dressing.
Mix together all ingredients except the olive oil and slowly add the olive oil last and mix thoroughly.
It is an easy salad to make… just gently mix together all the prepared ingredients.
You have to be careful though, not to get the avocado pieces mushed by too much mixing.
Last step, just pour the creamy dressing over the mixed salad.
Ready to serve! A hearty salad willing to step in for a lunch any day!




Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Cherry Tomatoes
Recipe type: Salad
  • 12 -15 medium shrimp
  • 1 medium avocado
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Prepare the shrimp leaving the tails on.
  2. In a pan, cook the shrimp, covered, adding two tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt, for 4 to 5 minutes, till all water is evaporated. Keep aside.
  3. Deseed the avocado and cut into bite size pieces. Squeeze the lemon over the avocado pieces to prevent discolouration.
  4. Bring a pot of water to boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the sugar snap peas to the boiling water and cook for three minutes. Drain and place in iced water right away. When thoroughly chilled, drain and keep aside.
  5. Cut the zucchini into bite size pieces. Place in a microwave safe dish with a pinch of salt, and sprinkle with a little water. Microwave for two minutes.
  6. Slice the scallions into thin rounds.
  7. Mix together the crushed garlic, mustard and balsamic vinegar. Slowly drizzle the olive oil and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. In a large bowl, mix together shrimp, pieces of avocado and zucchini, peas and sliced scallions. Add salt and pepper as required.
  9. Pour the dressing all over the mix and gently stir together.
  10. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
  11. Ready to serve!



Green Egg Sandwich

Not exactly… I mean, the eggs are not green, but the sandwich is! A lovely green chutney is the secret behind this delicious sandwich which can be made in a jiffy.


When it comes to sandwiches, I totally agree with John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who is credited with its creation in the first place. The story goes that reluctant to get up from the card table – apparently, the man took his gambling seriously – he would ask his servants to hand him a piece of meat between two slices of bread so that his fingers would stay clean. Naturally, the other players at the card table started asking for the food item ‘same as sandwich’ which soon got abbreviated further and the dish named sandwich was born!

Here the role of the bread is just to hold the goodies inside (which function I get lettuce leaves to do as well, very often). And whatever interesting and tasty food that keeps its shape can be placed inside a sandwich. If you are not sure whether the filling will stay inside the bread, just toast it to keep it all together. 🙂


I have tried out a lot of combinations of fillings and flavourings for sandwiches, over time. One combination that has been a great hit with many of my friends is a variation of the traditional vegetable sandwich with green chutney. Just replace all the vegetable fillings with slices of boiled eggs, keeping the green chutney part intact. Viola, you have cut down the effort and time to less than half while ending up with a sandwich that is even more tasty!


So the other day, when I wanted some sandwiches to take on a day trip, that is what I decided to make. And it did come out pretty good, if I say so myself! 🙂

Making the chutney is the only task that takes a bit of time. Or rather getting the ingredients for the chutney together.


Once you have assembled the stuff, just grind them all together and you have the chutney ready.


Next comes the bread. Unless a recipe definitely calls for white bread, I go for whole wheat. Especially as that is the bread that I always have on stock. You should toast the bread slices for this sandwich as it adds to the flavour.


Butter both the bread slices, on one side of course, for a sandwich before applying the chutney. The barrier of fat is required to prevent the chutney from totally soaking into the bread and making it soggy.


After the butter, the chutney goes on. Rather thickly. Actually, how much chutney will depend on your preferences.


Then just layer the slices of the boiled egg over the chutney on one slice of bread. I used an egg slicer to do the slicing, but it can easily be done with a knife.


Place the second buttered and chutneyed bread slice over the egg and press down a bit. The chutney will hold it together well. There is no need to toast the sandwich as the bread has been toasted already.

As a quick lunch or snack to go, an ideal sandwich. Enjoy!



Green Egg Sandwich
Recipe type: Sandwich
  • 1 big bunch of cilantro
  • 2 tbsp scraped coconut
  • ¼ white onion
  • ½ inch piece ginger root
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste (can be replaced with 1 tbsp lemon juice)
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 slices of whole wheat bread
  • Unsalted butter
  1. Clean the cilantro and remove all hard stems.
  2. Slice the onion into thin wedges.
  3. Slice the ginger, garlic and green chillies.
  4. Boil the eggs and shell them.
  5. Grind together the cilantro, coconut, onion, ginger, garlic, green chillies, tamarind, sugar and salt together in a blender till smooth. If required, you can add a spoonful of water.
  6. Transfer to a dish and keep aside.
  7. Toast the bread slices.
  8. Apply butter on one side each of all the bread slices.
  9. Apply chutney on the buttered side of the bread slices.
  10. Slice the boiled eggs and place the slices over the chutney.
  11. Cover with the second slice of bread and press down a bit.
  12. Sandwiches are ready!

Muffins to the Rescue of Bananas

Four bananas going south… cannot eat anymore as two already downed… don’t like to waste food either… what is a girl to do?

Make some banana muffins, of course! Especially when she is in need of some interesting breakfast stuff.


And that is how it started. But then, isn’t it too tame to go ahead and make some regular run of the mill muffins? Why not add some different stuff to make it a bit more interesting? That is the path I took. And the end result? Well worth the effort… a healthier, tastier set of muffins!


So I went around assembling the ingredients… the bananas are very sweet; so what is a fruit that is not so sweet? Dried plums! They do have a good texture too.


And now for some colour… what better than glazed cherries for colour? And some walnuts for crunch. Last item… a pinch of orange zest. Nothing invokes that sunny morning feeling like the flavour of oranges!


With the ingredients assembled, the rest was easy. As easy as beat’em, chop’em, blend’em… beat the liquid stuff, chop the fruits and nuts…


And blend everything together!


When the muffins came out of the oven, they were looking so good I felt it is a shame not to give them a topping… at least some of them.


So I made a quick topping with a bit of cream cheese and a dash of mascarpone. They are sufficiently sweet, so just a spoonful of honey to sweeten just the topping.


A sliver of glazed cherry to garnish, and you got a winner!



Muffins to the Rescue of Bananas
Recipe type: Breakfast
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup dried plums
  • ½ cup glazed red cherries
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degree fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare muffin pans with paper liners. The quantity mentioned will get you 20 muffins; so you could either use two muffin pans, or bake them in two batches.
  3. Mix the flour with baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Keep aside.
  4. Toast the walnuts in a hot pan for 3 minutes and let cool. Chop the walnuts into a rough chop, each walnut being cut into not more than two or three pieces.
  5. Mash two of the bananas coarsely so that lumps remain.
  6. Chop the dried plums and glazed cherries coarsely.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, using an electric beater.
  8. Add the sugar and continue beating till the sugar is completely dissolved.
  9. Add the remaining two bananas and beat them into the egg-sugar mixture.
  10. Add the oil and vanilla extract and beat to mix thoroughly.
  11. Using a spatula, mix the lumpily mashed bananas into the mix.
  12. Now add the chopped ingredients – dried plums, glazed cherries, walnuts – and the orange zest, one by one, mixing well after each addition to form the batter.
  13. Add half the flour mixture into the batter and gently blend in.
  14. When all the flour is mixed in, add the remaining flour and continue blending till smooth. Do not beat the batter at this stage or over blend.
  15. Using a large spoon, drop the batter into the prepared muffin pans till each cup is ¾ full.
  16. Place the pan into the heated oven.
  17. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, till the muffins have risen well and the top is golden brown. At this stage, a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin will come out clean.
  18. Remove from the oven and place individual muffins on a rack to cool.
  19. If you would like to add a topping, mix together 3 tablespoons of cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese. Sweeten just enough with honey and spread on top of the muffins.

Oranges and Beets on Wild Rice – a Picturesque Salad

The most versatile among the food grains, rice is the staple food of over half the world’s population. It is the largest cultivated crop and provides more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.

Rice cultivation originated in the Pearl River Valley of Chine, close to 10,000 years ago. From there, it spread to countries in South and Southeast Asia like India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Legend has it that is was the soldiers of Alexander the Great that brought this grain to Europe. And when Europeans started the colonization of the American continent, rice reached there too.

There are many varieties of rice available today, each one suitable for particular ways of cooking. Like basmati for a pulav or arborio for a risotto. And if we start talking about the many many dishes that can be made out of rice, we will be here a long time. 🙂


However, when I consider rice dishes, a salad was the last thing that came to my mind. That is, until recently. Ever since I came upon this fantastic salad made out of wild rice, it has become one of my favourites. Of course, over the course of preparing it many times, I have tweaked it quite a bit to get it to a state of perfection.

Wild rice, by the way, is in no way related to the rice plant. It is the seeds of a semi-aquatic grass that grows in lakes and river bays, in waters two to four feet deep. These grain like seeds used to be gathered and consumed by the native American tribes. Wild rice farming is of rather recent origin.

Interesting to note, wild rice is Minnesota’s state grain. And within the state, the non-farmed wild rice can be harvested only in the traditional way, without the use of any machinery.


Wild rice is most appreciated for its rich nutty flavour, which works well even when combined with other rice varieties. For this particular salad, I used a mixture of wild rice, red and brown rice and some black Japonica rice.


The dressing is rather creamy, the main ingredient being cream cheese. Balancing the creaminess, is the spiciness of the whole grain mustard and red chilli flakes, the crushed garlic and orange zest adding to the flavours.


A bit of light cream is used to make the dressing easier to pour. But it should not be too liquidy either.


The best part of this salad is to build it up. Start with the endive leaves on a serving platter. They should be placed close enough, but not overlapping. The idea is to ensure that you can life each leaf individually with the stuff piled on top of it.


Now place the cooked rice, covering the lower half of the leaves.


Pour some of the dressing over the rice. And do resist the temptation to scoop it up already! (I’m speaking from experience!)


Next is the turn of the beets and oranges. Pile them up on top of the rice.


They do look pretty, don’t they?


More dressing on top; and a few chives snipped on top completes the salad.


This salad can be eaten as a lunch on its own or can be served before a hearty meat main course.


Light and refreshing, yet filling too!



Oranges and Beets on Wild Rice – a Picturesque Salad
Recipe type: Salad
  • 1 cup wild rice or mix of rice including wild rice
  • 2 medium beets
  • 1 can (12 oz) orange segments
  • 2 hearts of endive
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp light cream
  • 1 ½ tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp orange zest
  • 1 garlic clove
  • A pinch red chilli flakes
  • A few sprigs of chive
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the rice according to directions on the packet.
  2. Skin the beets and cut them into ½ inch cubes.
  3. In a pan of salted water, boil the beets until tender. Drain and keep aside.
  4. Drain the can of oranges and keep aside.
  5. Separate the endives into leaves.
  6. Crush the garlic clove.
  7. Mix the cream cheese with mustard, orange zest, crushed garlic, and chilli flakes.
  8. When thoroughly mixed, add the cream a little at a time till the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. In a serving platter, arrange the endive leaves in a single row, forming a border.
  10. Place the rice on the leaves, covering their lower half.
  11. Pour two table spoons of dressing over the rice.
  12. Mix the beets and oranges gently, and add to the platter, on top of the rice.
  13. Pour the remaining dressing over the top.
  14. Garnish with snipped chives and get ready for compliments!

Zucchini and Peppers Salad with Pasta

Remember those silly things that teenagers keep saying? Correction, that we all used to say as teenagers? ‘Life without you is like a night without a moon… like peanut butter without jelly…’ and so on. I got a new one… life without you is like a summer without Freon! Why this sudden focus on a chemical gas? My air conditioner is out of Freon and I’m feeling the impact of the summer heat inside the house! 🙂 It is not terribly terrible – yet – though enough to make me look for ways to minimize time in the kitchen. One solution will be to eat more salads. But the simple green salads only make me more hungry. I need salads with some heft in them… So here I was looking forward to devising some interesting salads!


When you think about salads of substance, the first that come to mind are pasta salads. Okay, actually one thinks of potato salad first, but I have written about it very recently; so let’s go with a pasta salad. Good thing about pasta salad is that you can add a lot of stuff into it to make it interesting. And I wanted them fresh.


So a saunter to the local farm market later, it was clear what was going into the salad. Green and orange peppers and zucchini… perfectly matches the colours of the pasta! And cherry tomatoes and onions are always in the refrigerator.


An easy way to add vegetables to a pasta dish, and keep them crispy. You boil the pasta as usual in salted water… and just two minutes before it will be ready, you turn up the heat to bring the water to a rolling boil.


Throw in the cut vegetables that need cooking and wait for exactly 1 minute. Pour the whole thing into a colander, followed by a handful of ice cubes.


Swirl together to ensure that the ice is moved around cooling things down quickly. The ice treatment helps the vegetables keep their colour and crispiness while being perfectly cooked.


And when all the water from the melting ice is drained off, you are ready to add the rest of the stuff.


A simple dressing of lemon juice, red wine vinegar and whole grain mustard, of course with some olive oil, finished the salad.


I was going to use the salad dressing maker to shake up the dressing. And then realized it would be much quicker to mix it all up with a whisk. Isn’t that often the way it is? You have this wonderful gizmo that will make it all sooo easy, but then you spend more time cleaning up the thing than you saved by using it! Then again, there are some tools in the kitchen that you cannot imagine doing without! It could be fun taking stock of the gadgets and gizmos in our kitchens! Look forward to something on those line here soon!




Zucchini and Peppers Salad with Pasta
Recipe type: Salad
  • 1 cup pasta of your choice, whole wheat preferably
  • 1 green zucchini
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • ½ onion
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp whole grain mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sprigs of basil, pinched into pieces
  • Bowl of ice cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the zucchini and peppers into bite sized pieces.
  2. Halve the cherry tomatoes.
  3. Slice the onion thinly, crosswise.
  4. Bring to boil a pot of water with salt.
  5. Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook reducing heat.
  6. After 8 to 10 minutes, based on how well done you want the pasta to be, increase the heat and bring the water to a rolling boil again.
  7. Add the zucchini and pepper pieces and continue to boil for exactly one minute.
  8. Drain in a colander and immediately add the ice cubes to the colander, swirling the colander to ensure that the ice cools the pasta and vegetables quickly and uniformly.
  9. Set aside to drain completely.
  10. Mix together the red wine vinegar, mustard and lemon juice. Add the olive oil and mix thoroughly.
  11. When the pasta and vegetables are completely drained, add the sliced onion and halved tomatoes. Add salt and pepper and mix together.
  12. Transfer to a serving dish and pour the dressing over.
  13. Garnish with basil leaves, and serve immediately, or cool in the refrigerator for later.