Category Archives: Salad

An Early Mother’s Day Lunch


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


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


  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


  • 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


  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 🙂


Mango in a Raita


It’s that Time of the Year! The Mango Season…or like my friend Chittoo’s nephew Nemo calls it “Mango Holidays”! 🙂

Come April & the King of Fruits makes his presence felt all over the city. Neat piles of the orange-yellow fruit dot street corners, fruit & vegetable markets, traffic signals… everywhere you look crates, baskets, hay & the bright mango colour.

Mangoes are my favourite fruit. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was born right in the middle of the season. Growing up, our home, from April to June, smelled like a Mango Orchard!

A household of 11 people ensured that there were crates of the fruit at home any given point in time. The space outside the kitchen had the dozens of ripe, fragrant fruit stored in piles of hay ready to eat. The extra, not-so-ripe ones used to be stored just as you entered through the front door. So whether you stepped out of your room first thing in the morning or came home after a long day at school, the beautiful, sweet & heady scent would hit you smack in the face! And with that the promise of a treat in store… slices or cubes of mangoes for breakfast, bowls of freshly squeezed & strained mango juice or Aam Ras with Poli (thin, layered whole wheat Roti or flat-bread) or Safed Rotli (cottony soft white flat bread made with rice flour) for lunch, tall chilled glasses of mango milkshake or mango Lassi (yogurt based smoothie) for tea & mango Shrikhand, sweet, thick yogurt flavoured with chunks of the fruit with Pooris (small, round, deep fried whole wheat flatbread). If Mango is the King of fruits, my Ma is the Queen of Mango Shrikhand makers! The Shrikhand she makes is light, not too sweet with just the perfect balance of fruit & yogurt. I absolutely LOVE it! She was sure to make this dessert every year on my birthday. Even now she makes it around my birthday & freezes it for me if I’m not around 🙂

There are loads of different types of mangoes. There’s the Alphonso or Hapoos, saffron-red skin , plump, firm, & sweet. That’s the one we eat sliced or cubed, in Shrikhand, Lassi, Milkshake. Ma & my Grandma would fill large earthen jars with firm, ripe Hapoos mangoes freshly crushed mustard seeds to make Bafana, pickled ripe mangoes to be eaten with split brown rice khichri a few months later during Shraavan, the Hindu month of fasting. Then there is the Pairee, slightly green, just a wee bit tart, perfect for Aam Ras or juice. Then there are the large Rajapuris & yellow Dussheris that crop up later in the season when the best Hapoos & Pairees are on their way out. After that you have the Langras,& others… honestly we are a bunch of Mango snobs who don’t look beyond Hapoos & Pairees! And no matter what anyone says…. you get the BEST mangoes in Maharashtra! Most of the mangoes in Bombay come from Ratnagiri on the west coast of the state. The rest of the country, just doesn’t measure up!

I could live on mangoes! I think back in the day, we hardly ate any vegetables during summer! Of course the grown-ups tried to ration out the amount of mangoes we ate… but it rarely worked! My favourite way to eat a mango was to suck on it… with skin & all & become a complete mess, with mango juice down to the elbows & all over my face!

Or as a mango sandwich… thick slices of the fruit on a thick slice of white bread,  buttered…well…thickly!

The recipe I am going to post today is a Mango Raita. raita is a yogurt based condiment usually with onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, pineapples, or potatoes & is used as a sauce, dip or a refreshing complement to a spicy dish. As far as possible, I hate tampering with the natural flavour of the fruit. But this savoury-sweet-mustardy version is a delicious accompaniment to any meal. At home, if there was a vegetable dish cooked, that we didn’t much care for, this mango raita was made to lure us into eating… “If you have 2 spoons of peas, I will give you some more kairi (mango) raita!” or if we had unexpected guests, this added a special touch to an ordinary meal.

The raita made at home was a traditional one, more yogurt & less fruit, with the former being more liquid. I chose to deconstruct it a bit so that that the yogurt adds to the flavour without over-powering the taste of mango. While I have used the same seasoning my mother did, I added the sesame & almonds for an extra crunch (I always need that!) & a lovely warm toasty flavour  & mint for colour & freshness.

So here it is… My version of the Vakil Family Mango Raita!


  • 2-3 ripe Alphonso Mangoes (cubed)
  • 1 cup thick Yogurt (hung & beaten)… gosh that sounds violent!
  • 1-2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds (crushed)
  • 1-2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds (roasted & ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
  • Salt
  • Mint Leaves (finely chopped)
  • Roasted Almonds (roughly chopped)
  • Toasted Seasame Seeds


  1. Toss the mango with some mint leaves & sesame seeds & arrange on a serving plate.
  2. Whisk the yogurt with the mustard seeds, cumin powder, salt & sugar.
  3. Pour the yogurt over the mango.
  4. Garnish with the rest of the mint, sesame & almonds


PS: All the pictures in today’s post are courtesy

My Dearest Husband 🙂

Thai Style White Radish, Cucumber & Carrot Salad


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!


  • 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.


  • 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)


My Spring Saturday Salad


A light, luscious salad with Strawberries, Cucumbers, Iceberg Lettuce, Almonds, Cherry Tomatoes & a refreshing Apple Cider – Olive Oil Vinaigrette with Mustard, Cinnamon, fresh Rosemary, Basil & a drop of Honey

Roasted Aubergine & Tomato Salad


This weekend was a true test for my will power & determination! I mean I was a good girl up until Saturday night… followed the breakfast & lunch requirements. And then dinner was at the Khan residence. You see it is almost a crime to be on a diet or a fast when you are eating at the Khans’! My dear husband who usually fasts Mondays, conveniently forgets what day of the week it is if we’re over on a Monday! But still I was very proud of myself. I ate my salad & chick peas, & then just one teeny, tiny helping  (okay… not that tiny!) of their famous Khichda / Haleem (a wheat, barley, lentil & meat dish)… delish!! It’s a weakness… I can’t resist it, ever! And it’s something that I am going to attempt to make one of these days.

Anyway to make up for the little cheat over the weekend, I decided to start the week on a healthy note with this Roasted Aubergine & Tomato Salad. It is my spin on a dish Ma makes which is winner every time she serves it up!


  • 3-4 Baby Aubergines / 1 long Aubergine (sliced into very thin rounds & dunked in cold salt water)
  • 2-3 Tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1/2 Onion (sliced finely)
  • 4-6 cloves Garlic (each clove sliced length-wise into 2)
  • a handful Coriander Leaves (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper



  • 1/2 cup Low Fat Yogurt (beaten well)
  • 1 tablespoon Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Low Fat Cheese Spread
  • a handful Mint Leaves (finely chopped)
  • a small piece Celery (finely chopped)
  • A drop or 2 Honey


  1. Place thinly sliced aubergines in a bowl & toss in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil & the ginger garlic paste. Mix well & keep aside.
  2. Grease a baking tray with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil & arrange the quartered tomatoes on half the tray.
  3. Place 1/2 clove garlic on each tomato.
  4. Arrange the aubergine & onion slices in the remaining space on the tray.
  5. Make sure the vegetables are all laid out in one layer.
  6. Sprinkle the chilli flakes, salt, pepper, cumin powder & sugar over the vegetables.
  7. Top it with the coriander leaves & drizzle the remaining olive oil over it.
  8. Bake in the oven at 200C for an hour.
  9. Meanwhile, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing & keep aside in the ‘fridge.

Putting It Together

  1. Arrange the roasted tomatoes in a single layer on a serving plate.
  2. Make a layer of aubergines over it.
  3. Top with the onions, bits of garlic & coriander scraped out from the baking tray.
  4. Pour the dressing over the roasted veggies.

You could serve the salad at room temperature or cold

This recipe serves 1 person on a diet who is making up for the indulgence over the weekend!

When Ma makes her Aubergine Platter, she makes a gravy with finely chopped tomatoes & onions, seasoned with cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt & chilli powder. She then deep fries the aubergine slices & layers them over the gravy & covers the dish with beaten yogurt, garnished with green coriander, cumin & chilli powder. It makes for a fresh & delicious side dish.

I tried to make it healthier by roasting the aubergines & tomatoes. The coriander leaves, onions, garlic & aubergines crisped beautifully in the oven, in contrast with the soft, sweet, juicy chunks of tomatoes. The mint & honey yogurt balanced out the spicy veggies.

*Jazz up the Leftovers

This recipe will make more dressing than you will need, but that’s fine. Refrigerate it for later & you can use it as a:

  • Marinade for poultry or meat
  • Healthy Spread for a sandwich
  • Topping for Grilled Mushrooms or Roast Potatoes
  • Dip with Cucumbers & Carrots (if you feel healthy) or Chips, Crackers (if you’re not!)
  • Mix-in with Rice for a quick, light summer meal

Salad, Jaipur Ishtyle!


When I’m not cooking, eating, gossiping, reading or weeping through back to back reruns of Grey’s Anatomy… I teach drama.

And one of my favourite assignments is with a school in Jaipur (The Pink City), Rajasthan

I’ve been going there for about 6 years now. What started off as an annual 10 day trip, has now (over the last 2 years) become a week a month thing. And I’m not complaining… unless it’s winter (like now) & I’m freezing my butt off (I really am!)

The kids are great… enthusiastic & bright. And we’ve done lots of fun & interesting theatre work together. Right from Improv & Mime to Storytelling Sessions with Puppets & last year, I worked with about 300 3rd & 4th graders on a big school production of Indian short stories…. Good times!

The people here are warm & vibrant….. color everywhere…

     Pic 2

I don’t shop much when I’m home in Bombay (well ok, not that much), but I have a weakness for silver, & I get my fix here, along with block-print & tie-dyed cotton fabric, & of course… footwear 🙂



Being in Jaipur is like being on a working holiday. I’m free after 2:30pm, so after lunch & a nap (yes it is absolutely essential to my existence in Jaipur, as I work with nearly 120-150 children a day. I deserve it!!), I take off & absorb the Pink City, take in the sights, the smells & yes, the food!

This time round, however, the cold weather & a bad cough kept me hostel bound my first few days. But Thursday evening it got warmer, so I went for a walk around the old part of the City to buy a stole for my parents’ French friend & catch up with my young cousin Parth. Of course my camera went with me 🙂


Winter is on it’s way out, so you there aren’t as many of these thelas  or stalls as you would find November to January. Gajak, Chikki & Rewdi are like brittle, made with Sesame or Peanuts & Jaggery. When I was here in December, almost every corner had Gajak stalls & the rich aroma of gooey Jaggery made you feel all warm & comfy inside.

Peanut Chikki & freshly roasted Groundnuts are found pretty much the year round in Bombay. But here, apparently it is a winter thing.

Dal (Lentil) Kachoris & Pyaaz (Onion) Kachoris are a Jaipur street speciality. These are slightly flattened balls of flour, stuffed with a lentil or an onion & potato filling & deep fried in pure ghee (clarified butter), served with sweet date & tamarind chutney & a spicy coriander & green chillies chutney…. Yum-my!




Our walk through the streets of the Bapu Bazaar, Nehru Bazaar & Johri Bazaar, ended with Raj Kachori at Laksmi Mishtan Bhandaar (LMB) one of Jaipur’s oldest establishments where you get all sorts of chaat / street food in a restaurant as well as Rajasthani thalis (meals), mithai (sweets) & namkeen (savoury snacks).


Rajasthani food is packed with spices, but very rich . I’m trying to eat right (yeah right!) I want to  make something that’s healthy using elements of Jaipur street flavour. I don’t have a kitchen to make this here, so if you do try this out, let me know how it turns out 🙂

So here’s a Salad… Jaipur Ishtyle!


  • ½ cup Bean Sprouts (raw)
  • ½ cup Chickpeas (boiled)
  • 1 small boiled Potato (chopped)
  • 1 Spring Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 small Cucumber (finely chopped)
  • 1 Tomato (finely chopped)


  • ½ cup (or more if you feel) Thick Yogurt (beaten well)
  • Ground Rock Salt (to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon Amchoor (Dried Mango Powder)
  • 1 tea spoon each of Jeera & Saunf (Cumin& Fennel Seeds, dry roasted & coarsely ground)

To Finish

  • Tamarind Chutney
  • Green Chillies Chutney
  • Coriander
  • Aloo Bhujia (deep fried potato vermicelli)
  • Roasted Peanuts
  • Pomegranate Seeds


  1. Whisk the ingredients of the dressing together. Adjust the seasoning.
  2. Pour a generous amount of dressing over the salad, almost covering the vegetables.
  3. Drizzle the chutneys over the dressing & garnish with coriander, aloo bhujia, peanuts & pomegranate seeds.

Enjoy! And tell me how it was 🙂