Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Veggie Pesto Pasta

The first time I tasted Pesto, I fell in love with it. I have been adding Pesto to lot of my recipes since then.I was inspired by my friend Smita to try this recipe and it has been a huge hit especially with kids.This pasta is extremely easy to cook when you are not making pesto from scratch. I cook this dish when I am pressed for time.I use Pesto sauce from Costco or Trader Joes.You can get as creative as you want  with the veggies and garnishing.I use a traditional mortar and pestle for crushing black pepper and red chilli.


5 tbl spoons of Pesto
1 packet Penne whole wheat pasta
crushed black pepper – according to taste
crushed red chilli flakes  – according to taste – optional
2 zucchini sliced in rounds
Red /green/yellow bell  pepper - I buy a frozen bag from trader joes
2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes - optional
Grated cheese of your choice
1 tsp olive oil or use the oil from pesto
Salt to taste

You can add your choice of veggies. Sometimes I add olives, pine nuts ,cherry tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes.


  • Boil whole wheat pasta in water with little salt till its cooked. Drain the  water from the pasta after its boiled and let it cool.
  • On a wide pan, add 1 tsp olive oil(I take the oil from pesto bottle) and saute  zucchini  and bell peppers . 
  • Add the  cooked pasta, 3 tbl spoon of pesto  and mix them.Let it cook for about 3 min.
  • Add crushed black pepper, red chilli flakes and the remaining pesto. Cook for 3 more min.
  • Remove from stove. Garnish with grated cheese before serving.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Red Chori masala

Every time I saw these small red beans in the Indian store, I was tempted to try them.I looked for some recipes online and I realized that they are called "red chori" in Hindi and are packed with nutrients.This recipe is my variation of couple of other recipes I found online.It is simple to cook and the end result is very delicious.


1 cup red chori (Azuki beans in English) - its variations like black eyed peas - Thatta payir / Karamani can also be used
1 big onion finely chopped
2 eggplant/brinjal cut into big pieces
2 tomatoes chopped or 1 can of diced tomatoes
2 tsp sambhar powder
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
4-5 curry leaves
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 methi seeds
2tblsp vegetable oil / olive oil
  • Soak 1 cup red chori for 6 hours and pressure cook for 1 whistle.If you have forgotten to soak red chori, no worries, pressure cook it for 3 whistles.
  • Drain out the red chori and save the water.This water can be used as a stock for our curry.
  • Heat oil in  a vessel and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to splutter, add curry leaves, asaefotida and methi seeds.After about 30 sec, add onions and garlic and fry till onions turn translucent.
  • Add egg plant and fry them for couple of min.
  • Add diced tomatoes,salt and sambhar powder. Cook this for about 5 min till tomatoe starts to become a paste.
  • Add red chori  to the mixture above .You can add the stock to the mixture depending on  what  consistency you want the gravy to be.Cook this for about 5 min . Ensure that red chori and egg plant is completely cooked .
Serve this hot with roti or rice.

Masala Vada

Masala vada is a South Indian festival specialty. My mom is used to make it on festival evenings with khus khus  kheer.It is  a classic combination of sweet and spice. Usually, the initial batch of vada is made without adding onions and chillies so that it can be used for naivaidhyam. There are lot of variations to this type of vada and here is a recipe that has churned out some really good vada.


1 cup channa dal
1/4 cup rice flour
1 big onion finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves - optional
1 tsp red chilli powder
4-5 Thai chilly - add  according to your taste
vegetable oil for deep frying
salt to taste

  • Soak the channa dal in warm water for about 1 hour.
  • Drain out the water and grind it in a mixer with little salt and  without adding any water.Grind till it becomes a partially coarse paste.  Do not grind it into a smooth paste.
  • Mix the above channa dal paste, onions, rice flour,  coriander, mint, chopped green chilli, red chilli powder and salt in a big bowl.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a kadai at medium heat.
  • Take small quantity of the mixture and make small round balls out of it. Flatten the balls on your palm and drop it into the kadai for deep frying.
  • If the oil is very hot, the outer part of the vada cooks  faster, so cook in medium heat.Ensure that vada is cooked well inside and has turned brownish red on the outside.
Serve hot with chutney or ketchup.

Vegetarian Kheema

Its been a long time since I have eaten kheema in any form. My friend's lunch box inspired me to cook vegetarian form of this dish and relive my kheema loving days.This dish is made out of soy granules.Most of the Indian stores have them stacked along with soya chunks and other soy products. Soy is healthy and good source of protein for vegans.


2 cups soy granules
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
1 large tomato chopped
1 cup peas
 2 garlic cloves finely minced
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp jeera-dhania powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp kheema masala(available in indian stores) - optional. You can substitue this with garam masala.
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
Chopped cilantro leaves for garnishing
Lemon juice - optional
salt to taste


  • Add soy granules to a pot of boiling water and let it boil for 5 min. After soy granules are soft and well cooked drain/squeeze the water out and keep it aside.
  • Heat oil in a girdle and add onions and fry them till they turn translucent.
  • Add minced ginger , garlic paste and fry them till the raw smell goes away.
  • Add peas , jeera - dhania powder and cook  for 2 min.
  • Add tomatoes, garam masala, kheema masala and salt to taste. Cook till the tomatoes soften.
  • Add soy granules and half cup of water.Close the lid and let it cook for 5 min. Soy granules absorb all the salt and masala, so watch out for that and ensure that you go easy on salt initially.
  • Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.You can add lemon juice for a tangy taste but it is optional.
  Serve hot with rotis or rice.