Monday, May 31, 2010

Basmati, becoming a revelation in the U.S.

Basmati, a type of delicate, flavorful rice from India has a sensational taste. In Sanskrit, the word 'basmati' means 'the fragrant one'.

You can conjure up a variety of dishes with this wonder. Just the other day I created a simple pulav for my cooking workshop. Below is the recipe.

Cook a cup of basmati like you do regular rice. The ratio of water to raw rice is 2:1. Remove from pot after the rice is cooked. Spread it on a flat tray or plate. Take a wok and warm it. Add a Tbsp. of canola oil and/or butter. Saute some fresh cumin. Add about a cup of thinly sliced red onion. Saute until the onions turn golden brown. Add some salt for taste. Mix the rice well. Serve.

To embellish this pulav a bit more, you may add some toasted raisins and sliced almonds.

Taste this magical concoction and let me know!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A good marination for your barbecue - meat or veggies

Memorial day weekends are perfect for barbecues. Here's a marination secret that will get you to a whole new level. I am using these quantities to cook for 10 people. You may adjust quantity for a smaller crowd.

A generous blend of:
- fresh coriander/cilantro - 2 cups
- fresh garlic - 8 cloves
- fresh ginger - 3 or 4 2" sticks
- red onions - 6 medium sized
- lemon juice - 2 Tbsps
- green chillies - 8
- cumin powder - 1 Tbsp
- coriander powder - 3 Tbsp
- tamarind extract - 1 Tbsp
- turmeric powder - 4 tsps.
- cayenne pepper powder -
- salt - to taste
- May add a touch of garam masala as well

Grind all the fresh ingredients together to a coarse paste. Add the powdered spices as well. Mix them in regular plain yogurt. Soak your vegetables or your meats in this marination in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before throwing them on the grill. The spices bind together with the veggies and/or meat.

Barbecue as you would do normally by braising the marinated stuff with your regular barbecue sauces.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Can too much of a good thing be bad?

Yes. We've all heard that all along. I know of several little quotes that relate to that and in several languages as well. So, there is a universality in that belief.
I never thought it applied to eating vegetables.

Well, there is a story in the NY England Journal of Medicine that said an old lady consumed several pounds of raw bok choy everyday for several months in the hope that it will cure here diabetes. This led to a life-threatening condition of low thyroid that led her to the emergency room.

Doctors diagnosed the root cause and say that some raw vegetables in excess can counter the body's natural healing and sustainablility. Cooked vegetables may not have caused it. However, everything in moderation was the key advice.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mesa Grill Potato Salad for Memorial Day Weekend

This is a borrowed recipe that tastes absolutely divine. The original was Bobby Flay's. Little modifications to the recipe have been made.

2 pounds new potatoes (16 to 20 small)
2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon puréed canned chipotles. (To make chipotle purée, process canned chipotles in a blender or a food processor, along with a little of their liquid.)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 green onions (white bulb and 3 inches of green), finely chopped
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat, boil the potatoes until cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and slice 1/2 inch thick.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, chipotle puree, lime juice, green and red onions, jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

3. Place the warm potatoes in a large bowl and pour the mixture over them. Mix well and season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Colors, Spices, Flavors - Ice cold drinks

Who isn't a sucker for the colors and flavors of ice cold drinks on a hot summer day. But spices in this combination? That is intriguing.

I came across a drink called Jalapeno Margarita. It looks like a beautiful piece of art on the outside. The inside is for the brave I hear. I haven't tasted this drink yet. But this spicy maragarita has a combination of jalapeno and celery, along with the usuals such as tequila, lime and some liquer. Of course some sugar for the sweetness. I am looking for a brave guinea pig and then I will follow that leader. Will let you know after I taste it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Meatless Mondays

I have been hearing and reading about this a lot...Meatless Mondays. In an effort to promote healthy eating, many have started this regimen of non-meat Mondays.It's a great step toward healthy living. A step at a time is usually the best way.

Holy Cow! 6 Healthy Dairy-Milk Alternatives?

I know too many people who are allergic to regular cow's milk. I belong to that group as well. I have even tried organic. It just doesn't work for me. Milk in other forms are fine for most people. You may want to substitute one of the below.

Other dairy-milk alternatives are, Rice milk, Hemp milk, Soy milk, Coconut milk, Nut milk and Almond milk. I have tried them all except Hemp. From my experience I can say they all taste pretty good.

Coconut milk is usually the water within the coconut but in Indian cooking I use fresh coconut, grind them and extract that milk. Just a touch is sufficient to bring out the taste of the dish. Coconut milk feels extremely heavy. I just recently learned that it is one of the healthiest foods since it's in a raw state.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Recipes from yesterday's class

Workshop students - I have posted the recipes from yesterdays' class on this page -

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Relaxing with Food

Today's workshop was perfect in all ways. Great guests, weather & fabulous food. The menu was Cabbage and peas dry vegetable, Zucchini with gravy, southern Indian style and light Pulav. Here are some pictures. Need to learn more about the recipes and register for the next workshop contact me at I will post all workshop recipes tomorrow.

Workshop today, 1-3 P.M.

Any last minute people are welcome to join the workshop. You can just pay at the class. It is between 1:00&3:00 P.M. at Hillwood Farm in Media.

Address: 5561 Pennell Road, Media, PA 19063.
The first building as soon as you enter at Hillwood Farm.

Can't wait to see the registered group. Will post pictures and comments.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Some words on Cooking & Love

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
- Harriet Van Horne

There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.
- Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly

Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving.
- Rosalind Russell

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 22nd workshop day is almost here!

Join me at the workshop on Saturday, May 22nd from 1:00 - 3:00 P.M. I will be focusing on healthy southern Indian vegetarian cuisine.

Location - Hillwood Farm, Media, PA. South on 452, down 2 miles, past King's Mill (left), Hillwood is on the right.

Contact me via

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A perfect day for some hearty lentil soup

Lentil Soup Recipe - Here is a soup recipe that is difficult to stop with just one helping.

Any kind of bread generally goes with soup. I would like to recommend French bread spread with garlic butter toasted in the oven at 350 degrees. Remove bread from oven as soon the top starts to turn brown. You don't want the bread to be too crusty.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


What's good and what's bad about coffee?

Some things I can think of.

Downsides - Raises blood pressure, addictive, bad calories, interrupts sleep, stains teeth.

Upsides - Keeps you alert, gets rid of headaches, has antioxidants, supposedly lowers risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s, colon cancer, gallstones, and Alzheimer’s disease. Who knows if they are true!

The positive list is longer than the negative ones. But still why are we advised to stay away from caffeine if they are that good for you?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring Vegetable Soups

Soups in winter is one thing, but in summer?

It's even better. There are so many more fresh vegetables and varieties that summer soups are as inviting as winter ones.

Some like a pureé of the veges. That's something I don't particularly care for. It's visually more appealing to use colorful, diced vegetables. Sauté veges with onion, light garlic and ginger flavors. Add vegetable stock or even just plain water. Simmer for an hour. Add salt and any other type of flavor accents. Voila! The soup is ready. I love my soups with toasted garlic bread.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 22nd class coming up!

I look forward to seeing you at the May 22nd vegetarian cooking workshop. I have been receiving registrations, spaces are still available. The location is Hillwood Farm in Media, PA. Write to me if you are interested in taking this class.

I will be covering southern Indian vegetarian cuisine. Will demo 3 dishes and have sumptuous samples to taste.

Recipe of the week - Rava Dosa

Check out this week's recipe at - Rava Dosa.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Restaurants in NYC are the very best

Finally, was in 26th and Lexington for this one treat we look forward to whenever we are in New York. Every time I am there, the electricity and the life in this city just awes me, the atmosphere changes completely as soon as I cross the Lincoln tunnel.

Well, I was looking forward to this meal all day long. Saravana Bhavan, that's the place to be at for lunch. One has to be there to experience authentic south Indian food. As always started out with the vada/sambhar combination, which was just out of this world. Followed by a spread of bhatura and chole, finally had a taste of their badaam halwa.

I don't believe I have tasted a bad meal ever in New York. Write to me for a recommendation of restaurants and I will get back to you immediately.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Familiar is easier in all ways

I think the one main reason why people in general are not adventurous in their cooking at home is because of the work involved prior. Say for instance a vegetarian wants to be creative with a sandwich, first of all we have to plan before hand, as to which cheese and from where to get them, what dressing or spread, kinds of vegetables that would go well with the cheese, buns to use, etc. Also, how do we buy for just one unique sandwich. Obviously, we can't have it everyday of the week!
Then, we'll have to think about the time, money and effort involved from start to finish.

I have a friend who says has the same type of chicken sandwich every day. Probably because that is easy or the least expensive. For a person, who is so particular about food like I am, I would go to any lengths to get these items to prepare that particular sandwich. Also, I do not mind spending some time in the kitchen creating something superior, tasty and healthy.

Lately, I have had to travel a lot and had restaurant foods that I hated. So, when I came back to town I vowed to myself that I will not have even one meal outside for the next 10 days. So far, it's worked out.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Roof top gardens in NYC

I read recently that New York city is encouraging roof top gardens even on roofs of corporate buildings. Maybe this is a sign of the economy. Not a bad thing, I would say. Employees probably don't get raises anymore. Now they can at least get the vegetables! I have shopped for fruits and vegetables in NYC and they are expensive. This is a great way to cut costs somewhat, especially if you are a die-hard vegetarian like I am. I go nuts over fresh fruits and vegetables. I need to buy them every week to cook my meals.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gluten free diet

I have recently had questions on how to follow a gluten-free diet when everything out there is not gluten-free. The answer is simple. Just a vegetarian diet following the recipes I provide on my web site will do it.

The upcoming class on May 22nd has many tips for people looking for diets that are gluten-free, and for people who have other forms of allergy or have Crohn's disease.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Two Events

Two events that I play a major role in are coming up soon. Please note down the dates and timings.

1. May 19, Open house at Delco Toastmasters from 7:00 - 9:00 P.M. This is at the Swarthmore Friends' Meeting House on the grounds of Swarthmore College.

2. May 22, Workshop on Healthy Vegetarian Cooking from 1:00 - 3:00 P.M. The class is at Hillwood Farm, Media PA. Directions are Baltimore Pike (1 South) to 452 South. One mile down the road is Hillwood Farm on the right soon after King's Mill on the left. Reply here for registration details.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recipe of the week

The recipe of the week for this week is Aviyal, a unique delicious vegetable dish. Check it out at

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse at New Orleans

I was at a tradeshow last week in New Orleans. While the work was hard during the day, we all let lose at night. Being in New Orleans what would one expect?

One of the evening dinners were at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, recognized as one of the top steakhouses in the country. While others enjoyed a juicy steak, I of course had no choice except go for a plate of vegetables. I mentioned it in an earlier post, New Orleans does not have any concept or imagination when it comes to vegetarian food. After the last couple visits there I knew not to expect much and that was what I got. The desserts were extraordinary though. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy as well.

Dinner at Thai L'Elephant

I had this incredible dinner with some friends last night in Phoenixville, PA. I've had some good Thai meals but I didn't know all along that the best was yet to come.

It came at Thai L'Elephant. Everything from start to finish was amazing. Not only were the dishes tasty but they also were works of art. The service in addition to the food made the biggest difference. I had Tom Yam soup, a dish called La Grande which was a plate full of colorful veggies submerged in this most aromatic, tasty sauce. Ended it with a Thai Tea ice cream. The pictures will speak for themselves more than these words. Simply Awesome!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The best breakfast

I've had breakfasts of various kinds and from various cuisines. I have paid anywhere from $5 to $50 and more. I am fortunate and blessed to have travelled to different parts of the world & during that time tasted some incredible breakfasts as well- American, Mexican, Italian, Turkish, German, British, French, Indian to just name a few. But the best breakfasts ever have been the ones that my son has cooked for me for Mother's Day. He is not only a good cook but also an artistic one.

Write back on your best breakfast experience

I invite dads and moms to write about your best breakfast experience.

Friday, May 7, 2010

This time in New Orleans

I feel so sorry for the people of Louisiana. First Katrina and then the oil spill? How are they going to ever recover? They still haven't from Katrina. The hurricane affected areas seem like ghost towns. More than half have moved away. The poor of course who were the worst affected appear to have become more needy. And, they are angry too.

Now a bit about food and other things...
Service at the Bourbon Orleans was very bad though the hotel itself was french and quaint. The breakfast was fantastic. Dessert at Brennan's Steakhouse was heavenly as well. Will be posting some pictures. While others were cutting into a steak during dinner last night, I had a bowl of vegetables which were tasteless. I have decided restaurants in New Orleans neither have nor do they understand what vegetarian is all about. I think I've had enough of New Orleans for now.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back in New Orleans

Will be good to be in the middle of French Quarters. The jazz festival is just over. Will probably get to walk around after work and check out a restaurant or two. I have to remember to take pictures.

This is incredible!

I have never had this many people in just one day join to follow me on Twitter. An additional 15 more people are following me. Wow!

I have resisted Facebook despite so many invites to join Facebook. Something's holding me back. For one it's privacy. I don't want to open up to the world.

Shakes and Smoothies

Summer is fast approaching. With all the berries and fruits available, this is the best time to create those tasty, nutritious shakes and smoothies.

The base of any smoothie for me are honey, milk, (any kind, even soy) banana, dates and some protein powder. You may substitue yogurt for milk. If using berries, it is best to add milk. Yogurt and tartness do not go well although we find them in grocery stores all the time. The reason being the yogurt that we buy is already tart and with the added fruits such as strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, etc. it makes it way acidic. Homemade yogurt is completely healthy and there is no tartness at all.
Here is my homemade yogurt recipe.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tea: Green or herbal, flavored or plain

This was another one of my health nut moments. The past few years much has been written about green and herbal teas. So, when I came to know about the high anti-oxidant properties of green tea, I bought boxes of it. Not just one or two but several. Even started to give this as gifts to people. In turn, I received many more tea boxes as gifts.

I am normally not a tea drinker. Any caffeinated tea after mid-afternoon keeps me awake for an entire 36 hours. However, I made it a point to have at least 2 cups of green tea before noon. I continued it for a few years. Then, I started losing interest. Oh, I know why. Because I switched jobs and my new employer was not offering herbal tea drinks for the employees like the other employer. It just kind of faded on me until I stopped drinking it completely.

Maybe it doesn't matter anymore. Because new studies are saying that green tea in particular, which claimed to lower blood pressure is really not making much of a difference. A recent test done on two groups of people proved this. Isn't this one of those studies that make your head spin? You don't know what is true and which study is accurate.

Watercress, at its first sprout

This green for some reason is not quite as popular as regular spinach or even mustard greens. At one point, but this was a couple years ago I read about its health benefits and decided to head off to the grocery store to start loading up and regularly use them in my cooking.

Well, I did it a couple times. Not that they lacked taste, but the greens were so leggy and stringy. I couldn't find tender ones anywhere. I just came across an article about how the early spring watercress sprouts are absolutely flavorful and tasty.

I am inspired once again to cook them. But, I need to find those tender ones. Not in a regular market or grocery store. I'll keep searching and will find a source that sells fresh, tender watercress.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Home, sweet home

Absence makes the heart grow fonder they say. It is true of many more things than just love.

I love my home. I am such a home body. When I am away I miss home so much that I am always thinking about it. My plants, my piano music, cooking, reading, exercise, the list goes on.

I am back home now and feel peaceful. To feed the peace here's what I did today. Take a look a this new recipe at

Now's the time to dress 'em up. Get spicy and saucy in the kitchen.

Finally, it appears that warm weather is here. With that comes color everywhere, even in the kitchen. A gazillion varieties of vegetables are available in fresh vegetable markets everywhere. I am not talking about your everyday Genuardis and Acmes. Well, they'll have a few more than the usual ones too. But in Asian, Greek and Italian markets.

There are an endless number of ways to make those colorful vegetables even more appetizing. Get out of your comfort zone of just steaming. You may want to add a touch of glamour at the dinner or lunch table by creating those incredibly tasty yet healthy, low calorie sauces to dip them in or even lightly coat them with.

The sauces can be herb and yogurt based, or nut and fruit based, or spice and sweet based.

Here's one: Take plain yogurt (home made is best) without any tartness. Add salt, a dash of crushed cumin powder. Add finely diced tomatoes and fresh coriander. Mix them up thorougly. There you have it. Use them as a sauce or a dip for your fresh or steamed vegetables.

I'll post another tomorrow.