Sunday, July 31, 2022

Strawberry Spinach Salad

This is a vibrant and delicious salad made with fresh and juicy strawberries, candied pecans, feta, onions, and luscious spinach that is tossed with balsamic vinaigrette. It is easy to make, simple, and is a crowd pleaser.

I received samples from Millican Pecan Co in the process of recipe development. The views expressed are my own alone.  I have used Milican Pecans and these are the best pecans. I am not just saying this. You should taste Millican Pecans and you'll agree that they are the best! I love the flavor of these more than any other brand. Click here to buy Milican Pecans with a small discount.

This spinach and strawberry salad is a very healthy meal option. This can be had for a meal or as a side or starter. The sweet strawberry, with crunchy pecan, creamy feta, and earthy balsamic vinaigrette - this a bursting flavor combination! The vibrant colors, flavors, and textures in this salad will be inviting everyone. Plus, the fresh spinach and strawberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and iron, boosting our health. Nuts are rich in proteins and omega fatty acids. The feta while adding to the creaminess and sharp flavors, adds to the proteins too! Overall, this salad is a winner!

The vinaigrette or the salad dressing makes the salad lip-smacking delicious. I love the flavor of balsamic vinegar. The depth of flavor and earthiness makes this my favorite. It pairs well with different salads. With Orange balsamic vinaigrette, this Orange and Greens salad is one of my go to options. The orange juice adds to the perfect flavors for the dressing. Also, this caprese salad and caprese cups! This salad with simple and tasty balsamic vinaigrette is the best flavor combo!  Poppyseed Dressing can also be used in this salad. When I make this Strawberry salad, I use the same vinaigrette the next day in this spinach and strawberry salad. Well, I love strawberries and salads. It is perfect!

The following are needed to make this delicious salad

Spinach - I prefer fresh baby spinach than any other greens
Fresh strawberries - fresh and juicy strawberries highlights the flavors
Nuts - Millican Pecans are used here. Walnuts can also be used
Feta - Feta cheese provides the flavor balance
Red onion - A little red onions enhances the flavor.
Balsamic vinaigrette - We love this salad with the flavorful balsamic vinaigrette. This is top notch flavor.

This recipe serves as a complete meal for two. It can be served as a side for 4 or 6. This delicious summer salad is a great choice for family as well as gatherings as assembling this flavorful and delicious salad is easier. To make ahead for a big crowd, I would suggest making the vinaigrette, candied pecans, and slice the onions ahead and store. When making the salad, slice the strawberries and add everything to the bowl. Drizzle the dressing as needed.

This simple, healthy, vibrant, elegant, and delicious salad is one of our favorites. Vibrant salads are always a feast to the eyes as well as your palette just like this Rainbow Salad with Tandoori Dressing and Pasta Salad with Peanut Sauce. Salads are the best healthy option adding to the best nutrients and these salads are a must for salad lovers!

Salads are the best meal option during summer. They are easy to make rather than standing near the stove cooking or turning the oven. It is always a great idea to add more salad recipes to your menu plan and Christie is hosting an event "Summer Salads" in #ourfamilytable group. We share Recipes From Our Dinner Table! Join our group and share your recipes, too! While you're at it, join our Pinterest board, too! This season, you can spot berries everywhere and this strawberry spinach salad is one of our family favorites to enjoy during this season. This salad is apt to share for the theme. Check the salad recipes we shared today at the end of this post.

Salads should form an important part for the meal. Sometimes, it can be a meal by itself. This helps in assimilating the vitamins and micronutrients effectively. Here are some delicious salad recipes for you to check out from this blog.

Serves 2-4

Spinach - 3 cups
Strawberries - 1 lb, quartered
Candied pecans - 1/2 cup
Feta - 1/3 cup 
Red onions - 2 tbsp, sliced
Orange balsamic vinaigrette - 1/2 recipe (here)


Make the vinaigrette following the recipe (recipe here) and set aside.

To a big bowl or platter, add the spinach and layer it with strawberries followed by candied pecans and feta.

Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette and serve immediately

Summer Salads

Thursday, July 28, 2022


These vellayappams are soft, fluffy, deep-fried, cloud-like puffs that are a delicacy of the popular Chettinad cuisine. These are made with rice and urad dal and are gluten-free too! These vellayappams are a great snack perfect for any day or for any festivals too.

This is a classic fried snack that is great for a relaxed weekend snack. This is perfect with a cup of filter coffee. These are ultra soft and cloud-like. To achieve this the consistency of the batter is very important. It should neither be thick nor runny. The perfect consistency should be like dosa batter. Grinding the dal and rice in a grinder aerates the batter and adds to the fluffiness. Well, that's what my mom said and taught me. I strictly follow her recipe and every time it is a winner!  

As the name suggests, these vellayappams (translates to appams that are white in color) should be light in color. It is important to heat the oil on medium flame and carefully fry the appams. To achieve this color, raw rice is used instead of parboiled or idli rice. The raw rice and urad dal combination gives the cloud like white appams that just slips down in your mouth to your tummy.

The fluffy and soft vellayappams are deep fried. This recipe uses a tablespoon to drop the batter into oil. The size of the appams can vary and the count of them too, based on the quantity of batter taken for each appam. The tablespoon of batter just swells up when it fries in oil. Adjust the cooking time if you are using a bigger spoon, make sure that it is not too big, else may not be cooked completely with the lighter color exterior. 

The best accompaniment to this vellayappam is this green chilli chutney. Basically it is green chilies ground with salt and asafetida. Though Chettinad cuisine is well known for spicy food, this vellayappam is not very spicy. So it is always served with a spicy green chili chutney. Red chili kara chutney would also pair well. Coconut chutney is also a great chutney to serve with vellayappam.

These vellayappams are delicious snacks for any day. But they can also be made for any festivals or feasts. These are good for gettogethers. Though Medhu Vadas are great for any occasion, these vellayappams are equally good in flavor and texture and will give a different flair to the platter. For sure guests will be wowed! This measurement also makes enough to feed a crowd. But your family also could gobble it up. The best thing is that you can save some portion of the batter for the next day and then add the seasonings and make wonderful vellayappams. The batter stays great for one to two days in the refrigerator, beyond that I haven't tried. These vellayappams are amazing hot-hot right out of the fryer and as well as at room temperature.

This vellayappam is from the Chettinad Cuisine. Chettinad is a region in the interiors of Tamil Nadu, India. This cuisine is rich in flavors and very popular for its spices and fresh ground masalas. This vellayappam, a deep fried snack, is not very spicy. A tasty snack along with a cup of coffee. Both paternal and maternal grandparents lived their entire life and our parents too grew up there, my early childhood too! Though our grandparents followed our traditional cuisine, a couple of Chettinad favorites surfaced often, mostly the no onion no garlic ones. This is one such recipe. My mom makes this often and is requested by most of our family members. Her recipe is awesome!  Kuzhipaniyaram is another popular one from this region.

This month we are featuring Chettinad recipes in our SHHH Cooking Secretly. Yes! cooking secretly! We are a group of like minded food bloggers. We pair up with a partner, and give secret ingredients to each other. Using the secret ingredients we cook yummy food and share a picture of the food to the group to guess the secret ingredients. The fun starts there and there is no words to describe it.

Priya is my partner for the theme Chettinad Cuisine suggested by Kalyani. Who doesn't love fried foods? I love Priya's Chawal Ke Pakore and Vegetable Bonda. She suggested ginger and black pepper as secret ingredients and I made these vellayappams from the Chettinad cuisine. I gave her fenugreek and coconut bits as the secret ingredients and she made these delicious kuzhipaniyarams and these are loved in our home!

Makes about 60-70

Raw rice - 1 cup
Urad dal - 3/4 cup
Salt - 1.5 tsp
Ginger - 1 tsp, chopped
Green chilies - 2, chopped
Whole black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Sour yogurt - 1/4 cups
Asafetida - 1/8 tsp
Curry leaves - 1
Oil - 4 cups, to fry


Soak the rice and dal for 2 hours separately.

Drain all the water from the dal. Add it to the grinder, sprinkle water and grind to a smooth paste. About one-third cup of water may be used and it may take about 12-15 minutes to grind. Set the dal batter aside.

Drain the water from rice and grind to a smooth batter using about quarter to one third cup of water. Transfer this to the dal batter.

Both the rice and dal batter can be mixed thoroughly and a portion can be set aside in refrigerator if preferring to use it the next day. Add the asafetida, black pepper, ginger, green chilies, sour yogurt, and salt to the batter and mix thoroughly. The batter should resemble dosa batter. If not, adjust with a little water or yogurt. Do this just before frying.

Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Dip a spoon in water (keep a cup of water nearby), scoop the batter and drop carefully into oil. For every couple of times of scooping batter, dip the spoon in batter to help with the easiness of dropping the batter and to get a good shape. Fry on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, flip and cook for a minute and remove from the oil. The color should be very light in color, more towards whitish color (as the name implies). Drain the excess oil. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve with green chili chutney and/or coconut chutney and of course coffee!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Ulavacharu/Horse Gram Rasam

Ulavacharu is a distinctive and classic dish from the Andhra region made using the cooked horse gram water with a little tamarind and spice. This is a popular food too. This recipe is vegan and can be served with rice and a little cream on top if preferred.

Traditional way of making ulavacharu is time consuming. This is because when boiled on stove top, the horse gram takes about 2 two two and a half hours to cook. This recipe uses Instant Pot to cook the horse gram. I have used high pressure settings for 15 minutes. In this way, the cooking time is reduced and this helps enjoy the loved foods even with a busier life. This can be cooked on a regular pressure cooker, cooked for 5 to 6 whistles.

The water from the cooked horse gram alone is used to make the rasam. This gives a unique and distinctive flavor to the rasam. The below measurements with a cup of horse gram, will easily make ulavacharu for four to six servings or more depending on the serving size. The lentils after draining can be used in patties, soups, or curries. I love to make kurma with it. 

Our traditional rasam is more of water, like a kind of a thin broth. We add the cooked toor dal water to the tamarind base rasam and cook. Ulavucharu is made with the cooked horse gram water as the stock for the rasam. This ulavacharu is a little thicker. It is in between thick paste and a thin broth. This is amazing to be served with a steaming plate of rice and some veggies. This rasam is vegan but when serving, serve with ghee or cream, if preferred. I tasted this in one of our friends home when we had a gettogether and from that time I got hooked on it. This is how my friend taught me to make and I am following her steps ditto!

Horse gram is packed with nutrients. It is loaded with proteins. And in calcium and iron. This lentil is fed to horses and hence the name. This also helps in weight management and including this in our diet helps managing weight and staying healthy. I love to make idli/dosas.Horse gram sprouts are also the best ingredient to add to many foods. Try this Kale and Kollu Sprouts Paniyaram and this idli, you will change your mind about horse gram and will start to include these in your menu!

This ulavacharu, a popular Andhra style rasam is quite different in flavors and comforting. When exploring different cuisines, regional foods give a different flair to your regular menu. Coupled with fresh produce of the different regions, it is possible to make rasam in different flavors and here I am sharing A-Z rasam varieties as a part of Blogging Marathon. Check out the link below for amazing and raving rasam recipes!


Horse gram - 1 cup
Water - 5 cups
Tamarind - 1 tsp soaked in 1/4 cup water
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric - 1/8
Chili powder - 1/8 tsp


Dried red chilies - 3, torn
Mustard seeds - 3/4 tsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Asafetida - 1/4 tsp
Garlic - 4 , sliced


Soak the horse gram in 5 cups of water for 8 hours or overnight. Cook it with the same water under high pressure for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Filter.

The cooked gram can be used for any other recipe. This recipe will use the drained horse gram water. Set aside one to two tablespoons of the cooked horse gram for the charu.

Extract the tamarind juice using another quarter cup water. set aside.

Heat oil in a sauce pot. Add the dried red chilies and mustard seeds. When the mustard splutters and cumin, asafetida, curry leaves, and garlic. Sauté for 30-40 seconds.

Add the horse gram water and bring it to a boil. reduce it to half.

In the meantime, grind the reserved cooked horse gram with tamarind water to a smooth paste.

Add this, salt, turmeric, and chili powder. Simmer for a few minutes till it looks a little sauce like. It shouldn't be too thin or too thick.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with steaming rice.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Tomatillo Rasam

This is a delicious rasam (South Indian spiced broth) made with tomatillos and spices. This can be served as a broth to sip, or with cooked grains for a hearty meal with veggies on the side. For a vegan option, use oil for tempering the spices.

Tomatillos are also called Mexican corn husk tomatoes. These look like green, unripe tomatoes wrapped in papery husks. They are more acidic in flavor than a regular tomato. They are usually green but can ripen to yellow, red, or purple. It is important to remove the husk before using them as it is toxic. Dehusking leaves the tomatillo sticky but can be washed off. The popular green salsa is made with these tomatillos. The bright and bold acidic flavor of the tomatillos is great for making rasam too. 

It is easy to roast these tomatillos in the oven. These can be pan roasted too. Roasting helps peeling and bringing out the flavors. Once roasted, peel, mash and mix in water. This replaces the tamarind that we regularly use for rasam. Next time, do not stop with green salsa, try this rasam too. 

Most of the Mexican flavors include cumin and this Pepper Cumin Powder is a perfect choice to make this rasam and this recipe uses it. Regular rasam powder can also be used in place of this powder and this gives a different flavor profile to the rasam. 

This tasty tomatillo rasam can be served for any day. It is great for everyday meal with rasam rice and veggie curry like avarakai or eggplant curry. This rasam  is a perfect one to make for a feast too! Try this for your next festival instead of regular rasam.

This rasam is also easy to make. Once the roasting is gone, it hardly takes about 7-8 minutes for it to be ready. I dry roasted them for 20 minutes at 400. They can be broiled or roasted on a pan. Flame roasting adds to the smokiness and I love that flavor.

Rasam, south Indian spiced broth,  is addictively delicious when served with a steaming bowl of rice. I am sharing this as a part of the A-Z series “Rasam” for Blogging Marathon. Here are the quick links to the rasam recipes I have shared for  the theme. 

R - Rhubarb Rasam


Roasted Tomatillos - 1/3 cup, about 4-5
Water - 1 and 3/4 cups
Cook 1 tbsp dal in quarter cup water
Salt - 1 tsp
Pepper cumin powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/8 tsp
Cilantro - 2 tbsp


Ghee/oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/3 ts
Cumin - 1/3 tsp
Red chili - 1 or2, torn
Asafetida - 1/8 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


Cut the tomatillos in half, place them on a baking tray with cut side facing down. Roast for 

Remove from the oven. Cover and keep it aside. When cool, peel the tomatillos and mash the pulp.

Pressure cook toor dal in quarter cup water and mash. Set aside. 

Add a cup of water, tomatillos, turmeric, pepper cumin powder, bring it to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes.

Add the mashed toor dal, salt, and the remaining water . Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the flame.

Heat ghee/oil in a pan, add the dried red chilies and mustards seeds. When it splutters add the cumin, asafetida, and curry leaves. Fry for 30-40 seconds.

Add the tempering to the rasam. Garnish with cilantro. 

Serve with cooked grains and veggies.