Category Archives: Light Meal

Moong Dal Pudlas (Split Green Gram Pancakes)

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I’m back home!

After a month of TLC at my parents’ following a brief illness & ban from the kitchen, I’m up & about & ready to take on the world! I did start making up for the 3 weeks away from my favourite space by making this, & this & of course this over at my parents’!

And now…I’m back in my Odd Hour Kitchen, planning menus, packing lunches for the husband… fun stuff!

Here’s my first dish back 🙂

Pudlas (Gujarati), Uttapams, Appams & Dosas (South Indian), or Chillas (North India) are various Indian Pancakes or Crepes. The South Indian ones are made with a fermented Rice Flour batter or with Semolina (Rawa). The Gujarati & North Indian ones are made with various Lentils (Dal) or non-fermented Rice Flour batter & even Semolina.

This recipe that I’m going to share with you, is my maternal grandmother’s. She would use Whole Green Gram Beans or Moong, which she soaked overnight. But I didn’t have any  yesterday & I wanted to keep the batter ready in the fridge for this morning’s breakfast, so I want ahead & used the Split Green Gram or Moong Dal.

Moong Dal

These Pancakes are very easy to make & perfect for a heavy breakfast or a light-ish dinner. They use a little oil, but are Carb & Gluten Free… so they aren’t bad for you either! In fact they are high in Vitamins A, B, C & E & Minerals like Calcium, Potassium & Iron. The Dal is rich in Protein & Fibre & a perfect food to help you in your weight-loss regime 🙂

Ingredients

Soaked Moong Dal

  • 3/4 cup Moong Dal / Split Green Gram (soaked for 4-5 hours)
  • 2 small Onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 inch piece Ginger (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 Green Chillies (finely chopped)
  • 4-5 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tomatoes (finely chopped)
  • Coriander (finely chopped)
  • Cumin Seeds / Jeera
  • Salt
  • Oil

Method

The Batter

  1. Grind the Dal in a food procession with the ginger, garlic, green chillies & 1/4 of the onions. Do not add any extra water.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the remaining onions, cumin & salt.
  3. The batter is supposed to be a bit thick, like porridge. But, if you feel it is too thick, add a little water.
  4. Heat a flat non-sitck pan or skillet & grease it with a little oil. Drop a ladle-full of the batter as you would normally for pancakes. Sprinkle some tomatoes & coriander. Once you see the edges come away from the pan, drizzle a little oil around the pancake.Carefully flip the pancake to cook the other side.
  5. Serve hot with a Sweet Chilli Sauce or Mint Chutney or Yogurt.

This Recipe makes about 16 Pancakes.

The batter can be stored in the fridge & used over the next 2 days.

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Lemon Rice

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It’s too hot to cook! It’s too hot to think! It’s too hot to want to do anything… period!

At times like these, you need a quick fix, light meal that isn’t any trouble at all!

Tangy, flavourful & super comforting, Lemon Rice, is it! This is a South Indian dish that is lightly spiced, with the lentils & peanuts adding a lovely crunch to it. You could have it by itself, with a bowl of yogurt on the side or serve it like a salad for brunch.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups steamed Basmati Rice
  • 2 Lemons (juice)
  • 5-6 Curry Leaves
  • 1 tablespoon white Urad Daal / White Lentil
  • 1 teaspoon Jeera / Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Rai / Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Haldi / Turmeric Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dhania-Jeera Powder Ground Coriander & Cumin Seeds
  • Chilli Powder
  • Salt
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves
  • Roasted Peanuts (coarsely ground)
  • 2 tablespoons Ghee / Clarified Butter

Note:

Fresh Green Chillies & Grated Ginger would work wonders too! Didn’t have them at hand, so used Red Chilli Powder. If you use these, add them at Step 2.

Fresh Coconut (grated) would also make a great garnish to this dish, highlighting its “South Indian-ness”

Method

  1. Heat the ghee in a wok & add the curry leaves urad daal, jeera, & rai.
  2. When the spices start to sizzle & the lentils turn a light gold, add the haldi, dhania-jeera & chilli powders & stir fry for 2-3 minutes till you get a beautiful aroma & the flavours all merge together.
  3. Add the cooked rice, lemon juice & salt & mix well so that each grain is coated with the spices.
  4. Garnish with coriander leaves, coconut & peanuts.
  5. Serve hot.

This recipe serves 4

An Early Mother’s Day Lunch

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Ma came over for lunch on Friday…

Oh yes that is a big deal! Don’t get me wrong. I am a good daughter. I do see my Mother about twice a week at least. Since it’s more convenient, I end up doing most of the visiting. We tease her that she visits my sister, who is in a different country all together, more often in a year, than she comes over to ours! And we are in the same city! Yes the Bombay traffic is awful & with an hour & half journey one way, we might as well live in different towns… but she could do better than drop by once in 6 months!

Anyway, Ma decided to come over for lunch Friday (Yay!). Since it had been a while & with Mother’s Day right round the corner, I wanted it to be special. It is unbelievably hot in the City, so she requested something light & simple.

So here it is, a light, simple yet special menu for Ma on her special day 🙂

Pear & Nut Salad

Eggplant Boats

Spinach & Cottage Cheese Quiche

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie

Pear Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 firm Pear (cored & sliced)
  • Mixed Nuts & Raisins
  • Honey
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Cinnamon
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Iceberg Lettuce

Method

  1. Arrange the pear slices on a bed of lettuce.
  2. Sprinkle the nuts & raisins over it.
  3. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together & drizzle over the salad just before serving.
  4. Serve it chilled.

Eggplant Boats

Ingredients

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 2 Tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 Spring Onions (finely chopped)
  • zest & juice of 1/2 Orange
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • Basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ajwain / Marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon Jeera / Cumin
  • Chilli Powder
  • 5-7 Black Olives (chopped)
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Cheese
  • Bottled Tomato Pizza / Pasta Sauce

Method

  1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 2 halves. Carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving the exterior intact. Place the eggplant halves face down in salt water & chop up the scooped out eggplant.
  2.  Heat oil in a wok & add the jeera & ajwain. When the spices start sizzling, add the garlic & onions. Saute till brown.
  3. Toss in the eggplant, tomatoes, olives, orange zest & juice & stir fry till cooked.
  4. Season with salt & chilli powder. Keep aside.
  5. Pat dry the eggplant boats & lightly rub the skin with olive oil. Place on an un-greased baking tray.
  6. Fill each boat with the cooked eggplant & tomato mixture.
  7. Sprinkle the boats with bread crumbs & cheese.
  8. Cover the boats with aluminium foil & bake in the oven at 180 C for 25 minutes. Uncover & bake some more for about 15 minutes.
  9. Warm the pizza/pasta sauce & pour over the eggplant boats before serving.

Spinach & Cottage Cheese Quiche

The Quiche was inspired by 2 chefs Rachel Allen Jamie Oliver. I am an avid watcher of Food Shows on TV. If I don’t have the time, I record them & then watch them back to back! During a couple of these marathon TV watching sessions, I saw that with a few simple additions, the 2 chefs transformed the quiche to something else!

Jamie Oliver added Parmesan Cheese & Rosemary to the pie crust & Rachel Allen added a layer of boiled Potatoes & Goat’s Cheese to the Quiche before adding the Spinach Filling. I wanted to try it out ever since.

Mother’s Day Lunch is the day!

The above dishes were perfect for a loving mother-daughter duo! With a chilled glass of Pomegranate juice to start & warm Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies to end, with loads of bonding girl talk & gossip, it was a lovely lunch indeed!

Happy Mother’s Day Ma & to all the Moms out there 🙂

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup

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It’s too hot for soup… I know that!

But when you are right in the the middle of setting up your Kitchen & yet dinner has to be made… then there’s nothing easier! Especially this one, since most of the cooking takes place in the oven to begin with. So you can just stick the tomatoes & garlic in the oven for an hour & concentrate on the really important things like “Where do I stack up these stainless steel boxes that I’m never going to use!

The inspiration for this soup is the Tomato Basil Sea Food Broth I always order at Pronto, a tiny little 3 table restaurant / take-away right next to the husband’s office. Often if we get done with work pretty late, or are too hungry to last the 2 hour drive home, or if it is raining, or sometimes for no reason other than quiet “us” time… we stop by for a crisp, thin crust, Pepperoni Pizza & Bruschetta with Olives & Tomatoes or our favourite Cheese Garlic Bread with Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar & Chilli Flakes to dip into & Caesar’s Salad to make the meal seem healthy or the beautiful, meaty Shepherd’s Pie with Creamy Mashed Potatoes. Pronto is about as authentic as a small Indian, Italian / Mexican take-away in Bombay can get, but the ingredients are fresh, the flavours mingle beautifully & there is this comforting home-style quality to the food. And they play some great music too sometimes. We love going there!

So coming back to my soup. Another reason for picking this one was I had to go with Whatever’s In The Fridge. And I was lucky… I had everything I needed for a heart Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup… & more!

Ingredients

Roasted Tomatoes

  • 6 Tomatoes (quartered)
  • Fresh Basil (chopped)
  • Black Olives (chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chilli Flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • Olive Oil

Roasted Garlic

  • 2 heads Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 squares Aluminium Foil

Method

  1. Arrange the quartered tomatoes in a well oiled baking tray.
  2. Sprinkle the basil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes & sugar over it.
  3. Drizzle olive oil generously over the tomatoes.
  4. Cut the tops off the garlic heads

Basa… En Papillote

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The past 5-6 days were super hectic but fun, starting with the Maharashtrian New Year, Gudi Padwa, on Thursday & a steady stream of family visiting over the weekend. Food of course played a very important part in the festivities! Puran Poli (sweet, thin flatbread stuffed with jaggery & lentils), little date & nut squares (which were actually sugar-free), Mango Shrikhand… Sweets always take centre stage during Indian festivals! It took a lot of will power to not reach out for the mango & yogurt dessert, though I couldn’t resist a bite of the Poli! The main courses too were rich & masaledar (spicy)… mutton curry, kheema (minced mutton), prawns, chicken, served with wada (small, flat, deep fried rice & white gram flour flat bread, shaped like donuts) & neer dosa (light rice flour pancakes)… sigh…my diet!

Anyway, although the food was tasty beyond words, we had had quite enough of the heavy, fiery flavours. It was time for a palate cleanser, something light, fresh & flavourful without the excesses. It was time for my favourite fish… Basa!

I wanted to use a new recipe book I had recently bought & try a technique I had never used before. And luckily for me the Easy Everyday Simple Cookbook (edited by Anne McDowell) had just the thing… a recipe for a Basque Baked Haddock in Parchment or “En Papillote” (French). I had Basa in my freezer so went ahead & used that instead.

“En Papillote” is a cooking technique where fish, poultry, meat or even vegetables are wrapped in parcels of parchment paper & baked. The moisture from the food itself or from water, stock or wine is held in by the paper to steam it. In some traditional South East Asian, Indian & Parsi dishes the meat or fish is wrapped in banana or cassava leaves & then steamed or grilled, which also adds a subtle flavour to the food.

I had first heard the word “En Papillote” on MasterChef Australia. I was an avid follower of the show, which in many ways influenced the way I looked at cooking, specially the non-Indian, Global Cuisine. Almost every episode was an “A-ha! So that’s how they do it?” or “Wow! I’ve gotta try that at home now!” moments! More often than not, the husband & I would be watching the show (yup… this was one show that I watched which actually interested him!) while eating dinner…terrible idea! Because there we were in our living room with our plates of Okra & Roti (whole-wheat flatbread)… BORING!! While on screen, the contestants would be prettily plating up dishes like Roast Pork Belly with Seared Scallops & Apple Brandy Sauce or Stuffed Middle Eastern Snapper with Onion Rice & Salsa! And the desserts…OMG! I could cry! So then I started revising my dinner menus a bit. Even if it was a simple Indian dish or even an omelette or a sandwich, I made an effort to make sure I served it pretty J Then we didn’t feel as left out!

“En Papillote” seemed exotic & somehow I never got around to cooking with that technique. Well there’s always a first time, I guess! So here it is, my first attempt… Basa “En Papillote”!

Ingredients

  • 800 gm Basa fillets
  • ½ each red, green & yellow bell peppers (finely chopped)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tomatoes (skinned, seeded & finely chopped)
  • Juice & Zest of 1 Orange
  • 4 tablespoons White Wine
  • Black Olives
  • 1 tablespoon Basil
  • a handful of Coriander
  • Chilli flakes
  • Dried Herbs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Sheets of Baking Parchment Paper

Note: The original recipe asked for:

  • Only Red & Green Peppers, I added the Yellow ones ‘coz I had them & I love the colour!
  • Juice of 1 Lemon, which I didn’t have, so I used Orange instead & added the zest for good measure.
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Oregano, none in the fridge, so threw in the Basil & Coriander
  • I added the Chilli Flakes ‘coz hey, we’re Indian & we love the heat!

Method:

  1. Mix together in a bowl all the ingredients, except for the fish & olives, like a salad.
  2. Cut the parchment into squares larger than the size of the fillet. I could not manage squares for some reason (I’m geometrically challenged I think!) so made rectangles.
  3. Place a piece of fish on the parchment & spoon 1-2 teaspoons of the salad over it. Scatter olives too.
  4. If you’ve managed a square, fold the parchment over the fish to make a triangle. If not, just fold it tightly over the fish to make whatever shape you can (like I did!) Either way, remember to fold the edges together tightly to make a sealed parcel. Repeat this with all the fillets.
  5. Arrange the parcels on a baking tray & bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 – 190C for 20 min

Note: If the size of fish fillets is small, then you could arrange 2 – 3 pieces per parcel. Cut the paper accordingly.

Serve immediately! It tastes best piping hot! You could serve it with some garlic bread & buttered mushrooms (like I did) or any other side-dish you might like. The fish is steamed to perfection, absorbing all the flavours beautifully. The dish is truly very simple, healthy & easy to put together & yet looks & tastes gorgeous!

  This recipe serves 4

Thai Style White Radish, Cucumber & Carrot Salad

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Okay, so weekends are absolutely the WORST, for my diet! And this one even more so since we were in Pune, (a city 2 hours away from Bombay) for a birthday reunion with my husband’s family. The healthiest thing I ate this weekend was  my spring Saturday salad! After that… well, the less said the better. But totally worth it!

Mutton cooked in the traditional Maharashtrian way, with loads of spices, Chicken Kheema or Mince, Pandhara Rassa or White Gravy, which is Chicken or Mutton stock seasoned with spices, poppy seeds, cashew & coconut milk… I’m going to stop here as I’m practically drooling over my laptop!

And did I mention I snuck in a couple of Gulab Jamuns, dumplings made with Khoya (solids from freshly curdled milk), deep fried & dunked in a light, sweet, saffron tinged syrup?

Oh I sinned this weekend 😦

Well as usual I had to atone for the excesses on Monday, with another Salad just like last week!

I love Thai food, with its fresh, light ingredients, the sweet, sour, spicy & salty flavours all bursting in your mouth at once… it’s like an Oriental carnival.

One of my fave Thai dishes is Som Tam or the Green Papaya salad.

And that’s what I felt like having today. I didn’t have the key ingredient… the Papaya! So once again I improvised. Here’s my take on Som Tam using Whatever’s in the Fridge!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • 1/2 Carrot
  • 1/2 White Radish
  • Crushed Roasted Peanuts
  • Basil Leaves (finely chopped)

Use a peeler to scrape out the veggies into pretty little ribbons.

Dressing

  • Soy/ Fish Sauce
  • Honey
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Tamarind Water

I tasted my way through the dressing. The thing is to find the perfect balance of the 4 flavours for you.

Putting It Together

  1. Arrange the veggie ribbons in a bowl.
  2. Drizzle the dressing over it.
  3. Garnish with the crushed peanuts & basil.
  4. Serve cold

I have made a version of this adding left over prawn. You could also add tofu.

This recipe feeds 1 errant girl on a diet who indulged this weekend (but doesn’t regret it one bit)

🙂

Zucchini & Cottage Cheese Bake

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I don’t have a kitchen 😦

Well it’s not as dramatic as it sounds, it’s just that I don’t have access to my cook top & counter area… basically I can’t use my Kitchen…today! And weird as it may sound, it almost makes me feel homeless. Do you know the feeling?

The Kitchen is MY space, a place where I feel one with myself. Be it any stress, any trouble, any mess… there isn’t anything that can’t be worked out for me here. Simple acts of kneading the dough & knocking it back, whisking eggs, getting my hands messy with cookie dough, stirring a sauce… so very cathartic! And now, even more so since I’m on a break from work, specifically to explore my passion for food, the kitchen is my refuge, & if I can’t use it… it makes me very 😦 especially if I’m at home!

Like I’ve said before, some write, paint or run to get it out of their system… I cook!

Snap out of it Shivani! (I tell myself) It’s not always about you! What’s everyone going to eat tonight?

Hmmm…. There’s the neighbourhood Chinese Stall that Daks (my sister-in-law) suggested we could order  in from. (The other half of my Gemini self  chirps in) There’s something about roadside Indian Chinese food! It’s a cuisine in itself… totally unauthentic, absolutely Indian, incredibly tasty…

Ahem… and not to mention definitely unhealthy! 

Well alright then, that will be dinner for everyone else… I’ll just watch! 

I have to keep reminding myself of my weight loss regime! I’m on a quest to eat right… healthy food that is not only good for you but tastes great! And now with the added  lack of Kitchen space (added lack??? never mind!), something that can be made in my trusted microwave convection oven.

I looked up a simple recipe using Zucchini, because that’s What I had in the Fridge! I found one I liked on Health.com which required zucchini (of course), corn kernels (which I had in the fridge but can’t have), tomatoes (always in the fridge), Parmesan (yum! but no) & panko (had to look that one up).

So I tweaked the recipe around, with the mise en place in my bedroom… the only dust-free space in the house, & set out to make a Zucchini & Cottage Cheese Bake.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 each Green & Yellow Zucchini (sliced)
  • 4 Tomatoes (sliced)
  • 8-10 cloves Garlic (halved)
  • about 200 gm Low Fat Cottage Cheese (I made it from 1 ltr Skimmed Milk)
  • 2-3 teaspoons Olive Oil
  • Celery Salt
  • Garlic Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Dried Mixed Herbs
  • 2 slices Low Fat Cheese (cut into little pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon Oats
  • 1 tablespoon Celery (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Amise Marinade (I had made a skinny version of Roger Mooking’s Trinidadian Style Chicken last week & frozen the leftover marinade which is basically a chutney or pesto of garlic, shallots, green onion, parsley/coriander)

Method

  1. Grease a baking tray with a teaspoon of olive oil & arrange the tomatoes in a single layer.
  2. Top it with the halved garlic cloves & 1/2 of crumbled cottage cheese & season it with celery salt, pepper, chilli flakes & herbs.
  3. Arrange the zucchini slices & sprinkle the rest of the cottage cheese over it. Season this layer as above, adding garlic salt.

  1. Toss in dollops of the marinade over the dish.
  2. Mix the oats, celery & low fat cheese bits in a bowl & sprinkle the mixture over the vegetables.
  3. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the veggies & cheese & bake uncovered in a pre-heated oven at 200 C for 25 minutes.
  4. Cover the baking tray with foil & bake for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve hot.

This recipe makes 2-3 servings for a certain person on a diet who was feeling deprived & sorry for herself ‘coz she couldn’t eat the roadside Indian Chinese that everyone was eating, but who couldn’t care less now as this Zucchini & Cottage Cheese Bake is so much more wholesome, healthy ahem & not to mention… Delicious 🙂