Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Radish Greens Kootu

We are in our second month of shelter in place. Trying to manage a healthy and balanced diet during such a crisis time is tough and tricky. It is better to stay safe inside than going on multiple trips to specific grocery shops to buy the necessary things. It is always another chore to clean everything after you come home to make sure that it is safe. And all these can take out an extra chunk of energy from you. With everyone at home, cooking a nourishing and satisfying meal is a more important and taxing task, as you will be running out of fresh greens easily. My neighbor and great friend Mrs. A gave me fresh radish and spinach harvested from her garden. Fresh organic veggies grown in your home is a great solution for a regular supply. Million thanks to her for giving us cute ruby red radishes with its greens and spinach.  Look at the fresh radish, just love them. What else could you ask for? We enjoyed the greens curry and made patties too. The rubies were used to make sambhar which we love in our home. They are best served with rice, idli, dosa, or roti. Also, I will update the recipe for the spinach from her garden. Thanks, Mrs. A!


Radish Greens - 4 cups, chopped
Split moong dhal - 1/3 cup
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Coconut - 1/4 cup
Green chilli- 1 or 2
Cumin - 1/2 tsp


Ghee - 1 tsp
Mustard Seeds - 1/4 tsp
Split Urad dhal - 1/4 tsp
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Hing - 1/8 tsp
Red Chilli - 1 or 2


Wash and chop the radish greens.

Transfer the greens to a saucepan with a cup of water and cook for about 7-8 minutes. The volume will reduce, mash thoroughly. Pressure cook the moong dhal with a cup of water. Add the cooked moong dhal and mix well and continue to simmer. 

Blend coconut, cumin, and green chilli. Add it to the boiling spinach dhal mixture, salt, and continue to simmer for a few more minutes. Add half cup water if needed to adjust the consistency. It should neither be thick nor watery. 

 Heat ghee in a pan, add the seasoning spices and add it to the greens.

Serve with ghee rice or chapathi.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Kale and Sprouted Horsegram (Kollu) Paniyaram

Paniyarams are also called pancake puffs, which are made all around the world with locally grown grains. Generally, paniyarams are made for breakfast, but it can be a snack or dinner too. The fluffy paniyarams are so versatile that you can make it plain simple or with added veggies or fruits or even filled ones. These light fluffy puffs can be packed with nutrition. I made this with kale and sprouted horse gram this time as I was running tight with other veggies and didn't want to step out for buying anything at this point in time. Better to be safe inside and safe from coronavirus. I had kale in my fridge and used some of the sprouts that I had made for making burgers (always a better idea to make extra and use it up for the next day). Both kale and sprouts are very healthy and there is no need to elaborate the benefits as that's well known. These paniyarams turned out to be very soft and spongy and tasted the best. Any chutney like coconut, tomato, chilli, cilantro, or mint chutney pairs well with paniyarams for dipping or scooping.


Idli rice - 1.5 cup
Methi seeds - 1 tsp
Sprouted horse gram - 1 cup
Salt - 1 1/4 tsp
Onion - 1/4 cup, chopped
Kale - 1 cup, chopped
Ginger - 1/4 tsp, minced
Garlic - 1/4 tsp, minced


Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Split urad dhal - 1/4 tsp
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Hing - 1/8 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp


Soak rice and methi seeds for 5 hrs. Drain the water, add the sprouted horse gram, and grind with fresh water to pancake batter consistency. Add salt and ferment overnight.

In a pan, heat oil and season with mustard seeds, split urad dhal, cumin, asafoetida. Add the chopped ginger and garlic and saute for a minute. Then add the chopped kale and saute for about 3 min.

Cool the kale mixture and add it to the batter. Add the onions too and mix well.

Heat the paniyaram pan. Add a drop of oil in each half-sphere and add about 1-2 tablespoon batter depending on how much the shape in the pan can hold.  Drizzle oil and cook for a couple of minutes. Flip it over and cook the other side.

Paniyarams are ready to be served hot with chutney of your choice.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Italian Style Grilled Cheese with Spinach

Grilled Cheese - the name lights up many faces right from kids to adults. Its a simple and satisfying one for any time of the day. Along with a bowl of soup, it makes a perfect and healthy lunch or dinner. A nice crusty bread, some butter, and a couple of slices soft melting cheeses brings heaven to your plate. Also, this can be made in 30 minutes, which helps in a quick and easy fix for weeknight dinner. Plus, everyone will love it too!

Bread makes a difference in the grilled cheese turns out. I have observed that even regular slices of buttermilk or whole wheat bread are enough to bring big smiles on the kids' faces. It is a sumptuous breakfast and without any confrontations, your day begins with all awesomeness. Or it is a great snack after a tiring day in school.

Grilled cheese is so versatile that you can try n different varieties of the same. A couple of fillings with melting cheese would enhance the taste. I have tried many versions with different cheese types and with added filling sometimes (though many times it is plain simple grilled cheese).

Some foods bring nostalgic memories to the table. Grilled cheese is one among them. When I was making this one, the kids were discussing their favorite cheese that was used to make when they were young to their favorite mac and cheese grilled cheese. Wow! a wonderful conversation begins and flows filling happiness in their heart. This feeling alone is enough to make more grilled cheeses :-).

In this particular recipe, I have used a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. This is similar to any cheese mix used for lasagna. Its another favorite in our home and so is this grilled cheese. Added little sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed spinach to make it even healthier. The kids love measuring and mixing the different cheeses which are always fun. Remember, cheese brings a smile on kids' faces.  I have to admit the fact that I get very little time to click a picture as it gets taken by another member. I just have to be very quick in clicking :-). I guess I will stop my ramblings here and go to the recipe.

(Makes about 7 sandwiches)

Ricotta cheese - 3/4 cup
Mozzarella - 2 cups, shredded
Parmesan - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Sun-dried tomato - 1 tbsp, chopped
Garlic - 1 tsp, minced
Chopped spinach - 2 cups
Black pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Chilli flakes - 1 tsp
A loaf of sourdough bread
Olive oil - 1tsp
Butter 6-7 tbsp


Heat a tsp of olive oil in a pan, add garlic and saute for a minute. Take care not to burn the garlic. Add the chopped spinach immediately and continue to saute for about 2-3 min. Cool the spinach mixture a little. In a bowl, add ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and salt. Add the sauteed spinach - garlic to this and mix.

Spread butter on one side of each bread slice. Spoon about 2 tbsp of the spinach-cheese mixture on to the non-buttered side of a slice of bread and spread. Cover with another slice of bread with the buttered side facing up. Toast them on a cast iron pan over medium heat. 

After one side is done, flip and cook the other side till it is crisp and golden brown, and the cheese inside melts.

Serve immediately with some marinara sauce. A nice bowl of tomato soup is a perfect choice too.

Optionally, sprinkle the grilled cheese with a little parmesan and serve.


Instead of spreading butter on the outside of the bread, melt the butter on the pan and toast your grilled cheese.

I prefer using a cast iron pan for these for a perfect crispy grilled cheese.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Avocado Smoothie

A thick and creamy beverage made from fruit with either dairy or non-dairy products blended together is a healthier way to begin a day. There is no hard and fast rule when coming to making smoothies. Just play around with the dairy or non-dairy milk or yogurt choices, and a couple of fruits (fresh or frozen) for a filling breakfast or a snack. This is also a great way of making the pickier ones have the fruit(s) which they dislike. Smoothies are delicious and nutritious and should be a choice to substitute a meal during this shelter in place/lockdown situations. The benefits are you get your share of nutrition and you can manage on using the fresh or frozen fruits that are at your hand without stepping outside. It is so simple and filling meal to substitute any elaborate meals that help to maintain our health and managing weight.  

 Many things in your day to day life may go wrong but this avocado smoothie isn't. Avocado smoothie, a delicious and creamy one isn't complicated at all to make. Its only three ingredients and just blend them for a nutritious meal or snack. This is often enjoyed in our home. Since avocado is bland, I add some sugar. You can alternate it with a banana.

Whenever I make this, I remember those days of my travel to Wayanad. I used to have this in a bakery and juice shop. They call it a butter fruit shake. No ice cream is added but the buttery avocado is enough to make it smoother and creamier and hence apt to be called butter fruit. After my work, I used to go to that particular bakery and order this satisfying drink as I would have skipped my lunch. It would energize me back to my full form from exhaustion.

(makes 4 servings)

Avocado - 1 large, ripe
Milk - 4 cups, cold
Sugar 6- 8 tsp, or according to your taste


Scoop the avocado. Add the avocado, milk, and sugar to a blender and blend till smooth.

Fill glasses with the smoothie and enjoy it.


This measurement makes four full tall servings. If needed in portion size manage the measurement or can serve more persons in portioned quantities.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Instant Pot Oats Pongal

I haven't posted anything here for quite long.  Its absolutely normal to get occupied with a lot of stuff going on, which sometimes is demanding in time. The fact is to try to continue to do the little things that you love to do. I have tried many recipes that I never got to post here. This "shelter in place" has given enough time for me to get back to blogging. Taking life easier and slower than your regular day also calls for healthier and easy meal prep ideas. Cooking in an instant pot also saves time and your meal is ready quicker than traditional ways. This oats pongal is often made in our home as it has healthy whole grain, protein-rich moong dhal with spices seasoned in ghee. The scrumptious meal is enough to motivate a great start for the day. This is a great option if you want to include heart-healthy oats or if you are trying to cut down white rice (traditionally, pongal is made with white rice). It is best served steaming hot with chutney and/or sambhar.


Steel-cut oats - 3/4 cup
Split moong dhal - 3/4 cup
Water - 3 cups
Salt - 11/4 tsp


Ghee -  4 to 6 tbsp
Cashews - 6 -8
Whole black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
Curry leaf - 1 sprig
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Ginger grated - 1/8 tsp


Add oats, dhal to the instant pot, and then add 3 cups of water.

Close the lid, seal the vent, and set it on for 2 min on manual high pressure.

After 2 min, release the pressure. Heat ghee in an iron pan. Add all the seasoning and fry till cashews are golden. Add it to the cooked oats and dhal mixture in the instant pot.

Add salt. Mix well and oats pongal is ready to be enjoyed with chutney or sambhar.


This gets a little thicker as it cools but the taste remains the same, enjoyable.