Quinoa with Lentils- Protein Powerhouse.

Hello Dearies!!!! Hope you are all sticking to your new years resolutions as February is nearing and this is the time when most if not all of our resolutions go flying out of the window. I for this year, did not make any resolutions. I planned on changing my eating habits for my family's health and benefit and include some if not all of the healthy options. While chatting with some friends, we had an healthy discussion of how vegetarians who eat eggs still lack amounts of good protein that is so essential in the growth of young boys. This got me worried, as my boys are self declared vegetarians. We did not force our eating habits on our kids. They are and will always be free to eat whatever their heart desires. I myself was a hardcore meat and fish eater, but age and influences made a big difference and I turned a vegetarian. But the questions came back to me; really am I not giving the right food, am I hindering their growth?? such questions kind of haunted me pushing me into a guilt mode. I kept reading about Super-food Quinoa since some time. My SIL  praised on how easy it was to really cook it and how versatile it is to eat with salad, curry or even on its own. I was hooked. I went to whole foods to buy some, but being new to this food and the choices available there kind of overwhelmed me. Also the price was not for me for trial and error. I am frugal when it comes to spending. If we use it I do not think twice on the cost. But new food and  price around 12-15$ was  not for me. My search continued until one day I saw it in our wholesale club. The price was less than $7, which works for me for trial and error. I got the packet home and stared at it for a good 3 weeks before it hit me to do some search on the recipes on how to cook with it. I had initially planned on cooking it and mixing in some corn chat as nothing I believe nothing tastes bad with a little chat masala and salt. But my views changed then first time I cooked it with some garlic and rosemary, I had it as is with some flax seed chutney. Even Mr. Ash  gave it a try and he sort of liked it. He still prefers his rice  at dinner. Then we tried in an instant handvo, a famous gujrati snack, which he liked very well. My confidence in this super food is growing now. I am planning on using it in many more varieties which essentially ask for rava or rice. Join me in my search of some quick and easy quinoa recipes. Lets create some Quinoa magic all around us in year 2013.

To Make the Lentils in a slow cooker;

Makes around 3 cups of  Lentils;

You will need;
1.5 cup Lentils/I used Red Lentils/Masoor whole.
Salt to taste
1 tsp Red chilli powder
2 inch piece Ginger,chopped
1 tbspn Oil
1 tsp ghee
1 tspn Cumin seeds
3 cloves Garlic,chopped
1 Large Onion chopped
Green chillies,slit 2
2 medium Tomatoes,chopped
1 Tspn Garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Wash and soak the lentils in the same vessel of the slow cooker for approx 8 hours. After the dal is well soaked, drain and prepare the tomato-onion masala.

In a wok, take the oil and the ghee, add the cumin, let it sizzle, then add the ginger and the garlic, add the onions and dash of salt. Let the mixture cook for 2 minutes, then ad the tomatoes and cook till the onion and tomato gets mashed well and oil starts separating from the sides. Add this to the soaked dal. Adjust the amount of water. I added water till an inch above the mixture, adjust the salt. add in the red chili powder, Green chillies and the garam masala. Cover with the lid and start the Slow cooker on High for 2 hours. After it boils, set it on Low and forget about it for a good 6-8 hours.
To Make Quinoa;

You will need;
1/2 Cup Quinoa- I have Organic Qunioa which I got from BJ's.
1 cup water
1/2 tsp Ghee/Clarified butter
1 clove garlic
3-5 curry leaves
1 tsp Cumin seeds/Jeera
Salt to taste

Wash and drain the quinoa in multiple changes of water. This is important as the Quinoa has skin which is bitter and multiple washes help in removing the  bitterness. I changed water 3 times. Keep aside the washed Quinoa to drain.

In a pan, heat the ghee, add the Cumin/jeera seeds, let them sizzle, then add the garlic, and then the curry leaves. When they get fried, add the washed Quinoa and roast for few minutes, Then last add water and salt to taste. Cover with a lid and let cook on low heat for about 15-20 minutes. Take off the stove but keep covered. Fluff after 5 minutes. Its ready to eat. The quinoa tripled in size and after cooking. I ended up with close to 1.5 cups of cooked Quinoa.

 If you like Dalia or cracked wheat, this is similar to that after cooking but nuttier and fuller. The Half cup Quinoa with one cup of lentil soup filled me up and I did not have any other cravings. I had it for lunch and did not mind skipping the mid afternoon snack as I was really not very hungry. So if you trying to eat healthy and also watching your weight, This is a perfect meal in acceptable portion and also healthier than most fad foods which we run to get in health stores.

Donut liked it and is willing to try it in his lunch box,. Munchkin did not care less, he still prefers his rice like Mr. Ash. Phew!!!!! Am I tired or what, pleasing all 3 boys with their choice of dinner.



Fusion Instant Handvo with Quinoa and Flax seeds

Hello Dearies!!!! The new year has started with some healthy and unique ways. Quinoa had been on my wish list since long, I got the packet from BJ's, but never got around to making anything. The healthy talk around me about super food quinoa intrigued me, till I saw Manasi of Cook@ Heart make Quinoa Falafel. This got me thinking, if she can make burgers, maybe I can replace it in any rice or rava recipes. Ha Ha... I tried my hand at Instant handvo. Since Munchkin does not like any strings in his food, and he gets suspicious of my tricks, I had to puree the bottle gourd, an imp ingredient in making handvo. But what I got instead was pure bliss. The sourness of the yogurt was balanced with fullness of rava and quinoa. The traces of any bottle gourd were masked with taste and texture. I did not use any water as I had used some to puree the bottle gourd. The addition of the flax seeds with the sesame seeds give it a nice crunch. I am waiting to twist so many of traditional rava recipes, that I might stop buying sooji or rava. I love you Quinoa!!!!

Another major change I did to my diet, was to add half a cup of cooked quinoa to my dinner. I enjoyed it with lentil soup one day and sort of made an instant chili, had it with some chopped peppers and made quick salad. Either ways I liked the nuttyness and the fact that it made me FULL to the brim. IT fills you up guys, so if eating and craving food is the only hurdle in your portion eating, you might like to try adding this to your meal.

You will need;

 1 cup cooked Quinoa
**To cook Quinoa, wash the grains in 4-5 changes of water, this will help remove the bitterness, alternatively soak in water, but I find the washing better in removing the bitterness.
1/2 cup Coarse sooji/rava
1/2 cup Yogurt
2 cups Bottle Gourd/doodhi Puree
1/2 cup Besan/Chick pea flour
1/2 tsp Citric Acid
Salt to taste
1 tsp Green chili paste
1 tsp Ginger grated
1 tsp Red chili/cayenne Powder
1 tspn Cumin powder
1 tspn Corriande powder
1 tbspn Flax seeds
 1 tbspn ENO fruit salt


5 Tbspn Oil
1 tbspn Mustard seeds
1 tbspn Cumin/Jeera seeds
3 Tbspn sesame seeds
5-7 curry leaves
1 tspn aesofodita/hing
1tspn Haldi/Turmeric

In a wok, mix the rava/sooji and the cooked quinoa, add in the besan and all the dry ingredients and spices, salt, citric acid red chili and flax seeds, mix well and then add the yogurt and the Bottle gourd puree and mix well. We need a flowing consistency, so adjust water. I did not need any, as I used little to puree the bottle gourd. Stir well and last lastly prepare the tempering. In a wok, take the oil, when it smokes, reduce the heat and add the tempering ingredients in the similar order. Pour half of the tempering into the batter, stir wekll and add the ENO fruit salt and stir once. Lastly  prepare the pans for baking. Oil spray two laof pans and pour the mixture and add the rest of the tempering over the batter and bake in a pre heated oven at 350 degree for 30-40 minutes. Enjoy this healthy snack with a cup of chai or just as is.

 I did not bake it till the edges browned. I was marketing this handvo to my kids as some sort of savoury cake. reason was that Donut heard my talk with Mr.Ash wherein I told him I am baking an healthy handvo, which was promptly communicated to munchkin as "she is making that string cake again!!!!!!!!!!"..YIKESSSSSSSSSSSSSS

So I kind of changed my story as this is no handvo, handvo is round, see I baked a loaf of some other healthy stuff, which not only tastes good but is actually good for all!!!



Flax Seed Chutney-Javsachi chutney.

Hello Dearies!!! As the year 2013 started I have been striving to strike a balance between regular posting, posting healthy recipes and also about going back to my roots, cooking my moms recipes. Back home, we never had multi Vitamins, food was designed to do its job, We never heard of Omega 3 vitamins, Fish Oil supplements and so on.We had different kinds of chutneys some dry some wet to take care of that. One that featured quite regularly in winters was Flax Seeds or Javasachi chutney. I must admit that I for one never liked this chutney and it was a good fight with my mom, that made her promise few not so regular demands for me to eat this. Now things have changed. I have been reading about certain foods, and adopting them in our diet. One major change you will find this year is use of good grains like Quinoa. I am developing our naive taste buds to adopt the tastes of these foods. Food should be healthy and equally tasty to derive maximum benefit from them. The more I read about some foods, the more I am fascinated with the benefits. Why spend  hundreds of $$ and  mending the monthly budget on expensive multi vitamins, when these wonders exist in our pantries. Most rice recipes can be tweaked to suit with Quinoa. Some experiments I am trying is making Rajma Quinoa and so on. Keep an eye out as with my erratic posting, you might miss that out. I am trying real hard to be back on track, but the limes and oranges that Life is throwing at me, I cannot do much but expect delays.

Flax Seeds Info

Some of the potential health benefits of flax seeds that have been reported:

· Increased energy, vitality, and stamina
· Increased sense of calmness under stress
· Reduced threat of blood clots
· Protection against cancers, particularly hormone sensitive cancers such as
  breast and prostate
· Lowered blood cholesterol levels
· Lowered high blood pressure
· Better regulation of blood sugar levels
· Eases inflammatory tissue conditions, including arthritis
· Alleviation of dry skin, eczema and psoriasis
· Enhanced immune system
· Increased metabolic rate with a positive impact on weight management
· Helps with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
· Natural laxative

Do you need any more reasons to make and try this chutney today? It is ready in less than 10 minutes and stays good at room temperature for more than one month. The ways to eat it is on buttered bread, or with rice or in any curry or over dosa or pancake. Or simple mix in yogurt for a ready dip.

You will neeed;

1 cup roasted Flax Seeds
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp Cumin seeds/ jeera
2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tspn dry mango powder
pinch of sugar
Salt to taste

In wok, dry roast the flax seeds, they will change their red color and turn slightly black. The color and the aroma will tell you when they are roasted.  In a blender jar, I use magic bullet, Combine all the above and pulse till the seeds crumbs, you are not looking for a butter here, so crumbs is fine. This is all there is to make this beauty.  There are also few complex recipes that do require some amount of efforts, but since this is a fast age, we are going to learn some fast fast recipes.



Dry Peanut Chutney- Shengdanyachi Chutney

Hello Dearies!!! I am sorry for the irregular posting, but there are times that make it impractical for life to go on smooth. The new year started with some minor hiccups. First the dryer in my home went off without any warning. I mean it was in good mood when I last spoke with it, don't really know what triggered the non cooperation. It was disturbing for me to know that I hurt someone and  finally I decided to  take the bull by its horns, confront it with my side of the story.  We reasoned and made peace and were chatting like old friends putting the sadness behind our backs. It was business as usual.
 I thought all was well in Ashland, but there was more to face. Sorry to say, I let go my yahoo email account that I cherished for last 15 years. That was my first email id, my license to communicate with my friends, dear and again not so dear ones around the globe. IT had been kidnapped. Some weird hacker swiped it clean and more then being sorry for its deeds, it was rather not bulging to give me back my inbox. I had to stop it so with heavy heart, by deleting it, taking care of making an incident report before deleting it and wiping it clean from my memory bank.

With back to back incidents of this stature, I needed some comfort food, some TLC for my soul. In such trying times, I seek help from my moms recipes. The smell and the aroma and the whole process calms my nerves, soothes my restless brain, puts me in a better mood which makes the mood meter in Ashland swell. The memories associated with the food and growing up in a modest suburb of Mumbai are my oxygen when things don't go the right way. One distinct memory is of having these sandwiches at my friend P's house every morning on the way to school. These sandiwches were very simple sandwiches, buttered slices of bread and some of red peanut/lasun chutney in between. Her parents were both doctors and her mom's clinic was closer to home, so she had some spare time before she resumed her duties.  She made many such sandwiches for all kids every morning. We were never allowed to skip them and she made sure we all were well fed before we started walking towards school. The number of kids visiting their home never sort of bothered her nor did any kid asking for more affected her. The smile was always there when she placed more of these sandwiches and waved bye to everyone.

I was taught of my first valuable lesson by her mom to to never skip breakfast. A full tummy makes you focus better and helps concentrate on all the mundane activities that happened in school. I for one never cared about school and the happenings therein. I know weird, but school made me sad, the pressures robbed me of my childhood. My learning calls were elsewhere. Given a choice I would have surely dropped out of High School, But that was India and not USA. Kids were not allowed to make such vital decisions. You know the truth, but my kids need not know that. For them School HAS TO BE FUN. School sis where the future belongs and makes us ready for Tomorrow.

You will neeed;

1 cup roasted peanuts
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp Cumin seeds/ jeera
3 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tspn dry mango powder
pinch of sugar
Salt to taste

 In a blender jar, I use magic bullet, Combine all the above and pulse till the peanut crumbs, you are not looking for a peanut butter here, so crumbs is fine. This is all there is to make this beauty.  There are also few complex recipes that do require some amount of efforts, but since this is a fast age, we are going to learn some fast fast recipes. There are multiple ways to enjoy this, like podi on dal and rice, on masala papad, or one buttered slices of bread or mixed in yogurt as a dip. Whichever way you enjoy it, do let me know your 2-3 cents on it.


Alu Wadi/Patra with Collard Greens

Hello Dearies!! Today is the 10th day of the new year, Wow.. How time swifts by,  The anticipation of the holidays, new year resolutions just seems like yesterday. Time they say waits for no one, not even God Almighty. What you have is Now, so life live fully, have no grudges or regrets at the end; is one formula I am trying to live by. Life is also about learning. From old mistakes, repeated lessons and from people. As I grow older, I am realizing the things that were taught to us when we were very young, that each person comes in your life for a purpose, some to hurt you, so you know what is pain is, some to help you, so you know what learning is and some to keep you happy. I also have been blessed with few close friends, they are my everyday friends with whom I talk on the net via chat or on phone. I realized that friendships need not be about meeting in person and sharing a cup of coffee, it can be beautiful even if we are connected mentally. The feeling that someone somewhere has you in her thoughts keeps me going in a very positive way.

The story of aluwadi and collard greens is also such a lesson. I was speaking to Neelam of Kane's Coop, and mentioned to her how Munchkin has  a developed a sudden fondling to Aluwadi/patra, a typical maharahstrian dish and how my struggle with Colocasia  (Alu leaves) fails me each and every time. Colocassia leave s if not handled properly leave a  very scratchy feeling in the throat. IT has to be balanced with correct amount of sourness. Last few attempts left me with either very sour alu wadis or very scratchy ones. She told me that she has not yet made alu wadi with those leaves, but uses Collard greens instead as Indian store is not easily accessible to her. What brains to even think that. I owe this recipe to her culinary skills.

 You will need;

10-12 Collard Green leaves.
2 cups Besan                             
1/2 cup Rice flour                      
1 tsp Coriander/Dhania powder            
1 tsp Cumin/Jeera powder               
2 tsp Red Chilli/Cayenne powder        
1 tbsp White sesame seeds             
1 tbsp Tamarind pulp-- I used Tamicon             
1/2 cup Jaggery                           
Salt according to taste

Oil for frying

Wash the leaves and clean the leaves with clean cloth. Set Aside. Sort the leaves with similar size and shape. In a bowl mix the jaggery and the tamarind pulp, add little water if using concentrate. Mix all the ingredients in jaggery and tamarind pulp. Add enough water to make a thick paste which can be spread easily. Cut the stems off the greens and if the vein is hard, roll and crush it down with a pastry roller/Belan/latna. Place one leaf face down in a clean plate. Spread besan mixture over a leaf in a thin layer. Place another leaf in the opposite direction over this leaf. Repeat the same process for 5-6 leaves. Fold in the edges along the length and roll like a log. Repeat same process with the rest 5-6 leaves. Use enough paste to seal the loose ends. Steam both rolls for 15 minutes in a cooker without pressure. Allow to cool completely. Cut into slices and deep fry in oil.. Enjoy the alu wadi with some simple varan bhat (Dal Rice) and tup/Ghee.



Angry Bird Cake-- With Fondant pigs nest and eggs.

 Hello Sweetpeas!!! Happy New Year. I wish the new year to become of the best years that will make a mark in your life's timeline. My new years resolution is to be Satisfied with what I have and get. To reduce my wishes and wants and control my desires.  My very sweet Sister in law send me a list of resolution for a happy life, I am sharing with you the list as it is really amazing;

A very nice set of resolutions for the new year !!!

💞Handbook 2013💞


🔹Drink plenty of water.☑

🔹Eat Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a prince & Dinner like a beggar.☑

🔹Live with the 3 E's--
        Enthusiasm &

🔹Make time to pray.☑

🔹Play more games.☑

🔹Read more books than you did in 2012.☑

🔹Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.☑

🔹Sleep for 7 hours.☑

🔹Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily And while you walk, Smile.☑


🔹Don't over do. Keep your limits.☑

🔹Don't take urself so seriously. No one else does.☑

🔹Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.☑

🔹Dream more while you are awake.☑

🔹Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.☑

🔹Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past.
     That will ruin your present Happiness.☑

🔹Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.☑

🔹Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.☑

🔹No one is in charge of your happiness except you.☑

🔹Smile and laugh more.☑

🔹You don't have to win every argument,Agree to disagree.☑



🔹Call your family often.☑

🔹Each day give something good to others.☑

🔹Forgive everyone for everything.☑

🔹Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.☑

🔹Try to make at least three people smile each day.☑

🔹What other people think of you is none of your business.☑



🔹Do the right thing!☑

🔹GOD heals everything.☑

🔹However good or bad a situation is, it will  change.☑

🔹No matter how you feel, Get up, Dress up and Show up. The best is yet to come.☑

🔹When awake in the morning thank GOD for it.☑

🔹Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy. ☑

Try a few things daily and hopefully year 2013 will be a happy new year for you!!!!!

Coming back to Angry Bird cake. Munchkin had his birthday in December, and since siblings follow each others trends, he too wanted an Angry bird cake. I am like what's the deal with the angry birds anyways. His underpants is Angry birds, his socks are Angry bird socks and his Birthday Shirt was Angry bird shirt. The cake at school was 30 Angry bird cupcakes. I found the cake topper rings in a craft store which saved the day or else I would have to make around 30 angry bird faces free hand on all those cupcakes. I could have done any angry bird image on the cake, but if you know me, I get bored easily, I had already done the image cake, this time I challenged myself to do something more. Few surfing's later I found  a cool way of celebrating angry bird cake. I decided to let the kids play with the cake after the cake was cut. If only I knew a way to upload the fun the kids had blowing the pigs. I won the Best MOM Award for letting the kids blow up the cake, so cool, one of the young guests exclaimed to munchkin, that he had the best and coolest mom. Was I on cloud Nine that day!!!

I used the birds and the catapult that came with the kit, rest all is hand made from fondant. The pigs, nest and eggs were made with lots of love and loads of anxiety. I have better pictures in my bigger camera, for now these will have to do the job. Hope you enjoy the efforts.

The cake is a choc and vanilla cake form boxed mix and the icing is as always whipped cream icing.
** Whipped Cream icing can be made by using simply Heavy Whipping Cream and Conf Sugar,, The Rec is as Follows..
One Cup heavy Whipping Cream
Half Cup Conf Sugar
**One packet Instant pudding mix. OR IF desired One Packet Unflavored Gelatin dissolved in water.-- OPTIONAL

Take a bigger bowl and keep some ice cubes in that.. Over the cubes place anr bowl. Take one cup cream and add sugar and Pudding mix( if needed )... and beat with electric mixer for about 5-7 mins on medium till soft peaks are on the blade. The icing is ready.

I had fun making these pigs and the cake. Wish me luck and happiness that I keep making such cakes, and challenging myself in thinking I can do it. I want to exceed my expectations from myself and bring to you something new, unusual and yet traditional in many ways for year 2013.