I have always enjoyed a sandwich or two from the street-side vendors at Egmore, Chennai. Their sandwiches are so tasty that is hard to stop at one. So what it is that makes their sandwiches tasty? Well, it is that spicy, tangy, nutty, minty chutney they spread on the bread slices. Except for the very obvious mint and coriander taste, it is hard to guess what goes into it. So, I decided to put my curiosity to rest and ask one of the vendors for the ingredients.
He very generously shared the details; and in turn, I am happy to share that recipe with you.
Note: The following recipe makes about 1 small cup full of chutney, which can be spread on about 8-10 slices of bread.
Mint – ½ a bunch
Coriander – ¼ of a bunch
Peanuts – 2 tblspns.
Green chilli – 1 or 2
Lemon juice – 1 tspn
Salt – To taste
Water – To grind
In a blender or mixer grinder, grind the above-mentioned ingredients except lemon juice. Make a smooth paste.
Transfer the contents into a cup and add the lemon juice and mix well.
Spread on bread slices. Serve fresh.
- Lemon is crucial in this chutney as it not only adds a tang to the chutney but also prevents the chutney from oxidising.
- Add a few cloves of garlic to the chutney for flavour.
- This chutney also doubles up as a dip for samosas, chips and other snacks.
I call this the ‘sunshine’ soup very obviously because of the colour. Besides that, the soup is such a mood elevator on really dull days. It is that perfect comfort food to perk me up.
This preparation is my version of the Thai style butternut squash soup. It is a velvety smooth soup with the sweetness of the squash and coconut milk contrasted by the heat from curry powder and other spices. To give it some nuttiness, the soup is sprinkled with some toasted pumpkin seeds. Here’s to a little bit of sunshine in your meals.
Note: If you can’t get butternut squash, use yellow pumpkin instead.
Butternut squash – ¼ kg, peeled and cubed
Onion -1, roughly chopped
Garlic -2 cloves
Ginger -1/2 inch piece, peeled and roughly chopped
Cumin powder – ¼ tspn.
Coriander powder – ½ tspn.
Chilli powder – ½ tspn.
Curry powder (hot) – ½ tspn.
Butter – 1 tblspn.
Light coconut milk – 1 cup
Salt and pepper – to season
Vegetable stock or water -3 cups
To toast pumpkin seeds:
Pumpkin seeds – 1 tblspn.
Oil – 1 tspn.
Toasting the pumpkin seeds:
Heat oil in a pan and toast the pumpkin seeds till it turns a slight brown.
Turn off the stove and sprinkle some chilli powder if you like. Keep it aside.
For the soup:
Heat butter in a saucepan.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook till the raw smell leaves. Toss in chopped onion let it cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the pumpkin cubes and stir well.
Toss in the dry spices and coat the vegetables well.
Cook for3 minutes.
Pour the stock/water in the saucepan and cook in high flame till the soup mixture simmers.
Turn the flame to medium-low, cover the pan and cook till the pumpkin is soft. To check, run a fork or knife through a pumpkin chunk.
Once it softens, add ¾ of a cup of light coconut milk.
Stir and cook for 2 -4 minutes till the flavour of coconut milk is blended with the soup mixture.
Turn the stove off.
Now, use a stick blender or blender to blend the soup until smooth.
Add the remaining coconut milk and blend once again.
Transfer to serving bowls.
Sprinkle a few toasted pumpkin seeds, season with salt & pepper and serve hot.
- Use thick coconut milk instead of the light one if you like your soup thick.
- Adjust the quantity of the spices to suit your taste.
- Use oil instead of butter, if you like.
- To further thicken the soup, you could add a carrot or potato.
I believe in starting the day with a hearty breakfast. I like it with a mix of carbohydrate, protein, vegetables and dairy. If I had to pick one breakfast that has a mix of all this and tastes great at the same time, it would be the cheese toast with stir fried veggies.
A slice or two of this toast is sure to get your morning started the right way.
Wholemeal bread (or anything of your choice) – 2
Cheese slices – 2
Capsicum – ¼, chopped finely
Mushrooms – 3, thinly sliced
Onion (small) – ½, sliced thinly
Garlic – 1 clove, minced
Spinach – 1 small handful
Cherry tomatoes – 4, halved
Dried herbs of your choice (I used thyme and oregano) – ½ tspn
Oil – 1 tspn.
Salt & pepper – To season
Heat oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion.
Stir them on low flame till the raw smell leaves.
Toss in the capsicum and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the mushroom slices and tomatoes, stir well.
Now sprinkle some salt and add the dried herbs.
Mix well. Finally, add the spinach and cook for a few seconds. Don’t overcook any of the vegetables, especially the spinach.
The key here is to stir fry the veggies to retain maximum nutrition and crunch. Once done, keep aside.
Now, toast the bread on a griddle or pan.
Don’t brown the bread too much. Place the cheese slices on each of the bread slices.
Scoop out some of the stir-fried veggies and place it on top of the cheese slices. Sprinkle some salt an pepper.
Turn the flame on the stove to low, cover the pan/ griddle and allow the cheese to melt for a few seconds.
Now the cheesy veggie-topped toast is ready to serve.
- I have used edam cheese slice, use any of your choice.
- To spice the stir fry up, sprinkle a little chilli flakes.
- If you prefer the toast without cheese, skip and just top the bread slices with the stir fried veggies.
- If you can’t get cherry tomatoes, finely chop any other variety of tomato and stir fry it.
I enjoy cooking simple and no-fuss recipes. That said I also enjoy an occasional challenge involved in cracking a not-so-easy recipe. Desserts are my nemesis – Indian or international. I think a lot of my inhibition comes from the fact that I am not very fond of sweet dishes and as a result, I do not make them very often.
So, I decided to take the bull by its horn and make a popular Indian dessert –Basundi. This is one dish that my husband absolutely loves and I thought would be worth the effort. I researched several recipes for the sweet and it was evident that this required a lot of effort. I figured that khoa was a key ingredient for basundi and making that called for a lot of stirring time. Having tasted unsweetened khoa before, it was apparent that it was very similar to ricotta cheese. Add to that the fact that khoa was not easily accessible in Sydney. So, I decided to do away with khoa and make it with ricotta cheese instead. I was pleased with the results. As a bonus, I ended up making a low fat, no added sugar version of the basundi.
Note: If you can make or buy khoa, use that in place of the ‘khoa’ made from ricotta cheese.
Low fat milk – 2 Cups
Low fat condensed milk – 1 can
Light ricotta cheese – 1 cup
Almonds – ½ cup (chopped or pounded)
Saffron -1 pinch
Cardamom – 3 (powdered)
Ghee – ½ tbslpn.
For the ‘khoa’:
Heat ghee in a pan and add the ricotta cheese. Keep stirring till it is dehydrated and grainy. Keep the’khoa’ aside.
For the basundi:
In a small cup, reserve 2 tablespoons of milk and soak the saffron strands. Keep aside.
Use a thick bottomed saucepan, pour the milk into it. And halfway through the boiling process, add the ‘khoa’ and condensed milk. Stir the mixture well for all ingredients to combine.
Now add the pounded almonds and cardamom, continue stirring.
You will have to continue stirring till the desired thickness is achieved.
This is an important step to get rid of the raw smell of milk, khoya and almonds. And most importantly, it prevents the ingredients from sticking to the pan.
When you think the basundi has thickened to your liking, add the soaked saffron strands along with the milk it has been soaking in.
Stir for a few more minutes for the saffron to infuse with the hot basundi. Turn off the stove and serve.
It tastes good when served hot or cold.
When a salad has a good mix of fruits, veggies & beans, topped with a light dressing, can it be anything short of nutritious? This four-bean salad is power-packed with loads of proteins and fibres. The legumes in the salad help keep your blood pressure, insulin levels and bowel health in check. To fortify this salad there are tasty and healthy vegetables like onions, avocado and tomato. This salad doubles up as a filling for a wrap. Whether you fancy a salad or a wrap, this makes for a healthy choice. Truly beantastic, isn’t it?
Note: I have used canned beans. You could soak the beans (chickpeas, butter beans, red kidney beans and white beans) overnight, cook and use it in the salad.
Four-bean mix– 1 can, drained and rinsed
Onion – 1, chopped finely
Cherry tomatoes – 8 to 10, halved
Avocado (ripe) – 1, cubed
Coriander leaves – 2 sprigs, finely chopped
Salt- To season
For the dressing:
Extra virgin olive oil – 1tblspn.
Lime juice – ½ tblspn.
Chilli flakes – ¼ tspn
Cumin powder -1/4 tspn.
Garlic – 1 clove, minced
Pepper –To season
In a large mixing bowl, toss in the beans and vegetables. Keep aside.
In a small cup, combine the ingredients under ‘For the dressing’ and mix well.
Pour over the mixing bowl with the beans and veggies. Sprinkle some salt and mix all the ingredients well. Serve as a salad.
If you are using this as a wrap filler, tear up a few lettuce leaves and top it with the salad. Wrap it up and eat.