Cauliflower is one of the most preferred vegetable sources for the ketogenic and low carb lifestyles. The cruciferous vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrition, loaded with the vitamin and mineral goodness. A bit of Google research also tells me that it has a host of other things that make it one of the most nutritious vegetables whether you follow a ketogenic lifestyle or not.
Aside from being a hero vegetable, I find cauliflower versatile for so many dishes – pizza base, cauliflower fried ‘rice’, curry, Cauli ‘mac’ n cheese, roasted, in a soup…I can do this all day! Is there anything that cauliflower can’t do? Lol.
While the thought of cauliflower rice and pizza sounds incredible, all that I crave for sometimes is a simple dish made with the vegetable.
Here is the second instalment of the sweet dish I promised this week. ☺
Kheer is a much-loved dessert in my home. It gets made often and in different flavours. This time I wanted to try my hand at something new and was lost for ideas.
I quickly raided the fridge, and I found my summer stock of frozen berries that I normally use for smoothies and oatmeal. Then the little bulb above my head lit up and I came up with this.
It tastes so much like smoothie but with the touch of saffron in the kheer and the added sweetness from the condensed milk, I can safely say I went to smoothie heaven and came back. A very berry kheer indeed. (Cliché I know. But I had to say it: ☺
Tava Idlies (Pav bhaji flavoured idlies)
When the South Indian favourite Idlies and Mumbai’s famous pav bhaji meet, you get tava idlies.
The star of the dish - the humble idlies are quite the powerhouse hiding inside a very soft and spongy exterior.
It is low in fat, easy to digest and comes loaded with iron B vitamins and other micronutrients, thanks to the lentils that go into preparing it.
Since these spongy delights are steamed, makes it that much more healthy to consume.
Besides being nutritious, it renders a bland taste, which makes it perfect to pair with a lot of curries, chutneys, sambhars and so. It is the versatility of the idlies that make it a perfect for this dish.
Now coming to pav bhaaji…where do I begin?
Rice is a regular feature in my family meals. It is typically savoured with sambhar, rasam and yoghurt. While that is a regular fare we mix things up a bit with leftover rice or freshly cooked rice that goes into making many different ‘variety rice’ as we call it.
There is lemon rice, coconut rice, tamarind rice, carrot rice…the options are endless. I usually make jeera rice and make it interesting with the addition of aromatics and vegetables. My absolute favourite variant is the methi jeera rice.
I love that it is wholesome, healthy and tasty. This is a whole medley of flavours; the slightly bitter fenugreek leaves combined with sweet & sharp onions and garlic and the earthy taste of cumin seeds makes this combination a delight for those savouring it.
It tastes great on its own or with curries, dal and pappadam. It also helps that it easy to prepare, making it a very convenient weeknight dinner.
In the past year, I noticed a lot of people were making a switch to millets in place of rice. Hard-core rice eaters like my father alternated his rice consumption with millets.
I saw millets in mixed rice, porridge, dessert and even steamed cake versions. It was a force to be reckoned with. I did a bit of reading to find out what the fuss was all about. I was stumped! Millets besides being one of the oldest and inexpensive cereals available, comes with a host of health benefits.
To list a few, it is high in fibre, iron, calcium and B vitamins and protein. It is also favoured by many for its slow release of sugar making it perfect for those watching their sugar intake and on a low GI diet. As a huge plus, this is gluten free and easy on the tummy.
A lot of my cooking inspiration comes from the fresh food aisle in the local supermarket. There is never dearth of ideas there. Recently, neatly packed boxes of Jamie Oliver’s products caught my attention; it had raw cauliflower florets, a pack of ready-to-use-spice and mint yoghurt dip. All you have to do is take it home and cook it according to the packet instructions.
Although the idea was cool and convenient, I thought how difficult could it be to actually prep it from the scratch? Well, that was where the idea for this dish came from.
This light, quick, fresh and nutritious appetiser is a burst of flavours. It has interesting flavours that complement cauliflower’s rather unique taste.
While devouring this, I figured that it was a great way to consume this vegetable; it is a great low-carb option for those craving something salty and tasty. What’s more? It is low in fat, high in nutrition and gluten-free (for those of you maintaining a gluten-free) diet.
Growing up in a home where people loved a spicy hit in their food, it was not very hard to train my tastebuds to like milagai podi. This lentil and spice blend was a common feature in my home. It was so loved that the podi was preferred over chutneys and sambhar for idly/dosai.
My mum used to dedicate a Saturday to prep and make variety of podis to keep us going for a whole month or a little longer. The aroma of the roasting spices was delight and I can still smell it as I write it!
Bhel puri holds a prized spot in the Indian street food list. This savoury snack is a combination of puffed rice tossed with vegetables, an assortment of spice powders and condiments.
To me though, bhel puri is a salad of sorts with the veggies, carbs, dressing and interesting elements. This can be made as indulgent or healthy, depending on your preference. With bhel, I tend to get naughty and add all the indulgent and deep-fried stuff. That is the best way to have bhel, no? ☺
This chaat or snack is made in many parts of India. My first taste of this chaat was when I was a little girl; my mum would make it on weekends for my sister and me. It was extra special to see her make some of the ingredients like the chutneys and sev from the scratch.
Bhel puri is famous in many parts of India, and is called different names in various regions. Some of the other names it goes by are jhal muri and churmuri. I have the variants in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru. I can’t really pick a favourite because each one has its own special touch, which makes bhel unique to that region.
So, I present to you my bhel puri. I unfortunately did not manage to get my mum to pass on her sev and papdi recipe while she was alive; however, on the bright side, the tamarind-date chutney in this recipe is almost similar to hers. ☺
This light and flavourful soup is comfort in a bowl. Rustic flavours and mild spices render the shorba its goodness.
Everytime I cook dal fry, I make a little extra so I can serve shorba for dinner the next day. Aside from being a great way to use up leftover dal, it is a quick-fix for soup cravings.
It is a beautiful marriage of protein-packed lentils and simple flavours, making it an ideal accompaniment for your meals.
Dal fry - 1 or 2 cups - Recipe here
Water – 5 cups
Chopped coriander leaves – 2 tblspns
Lemon juice – 1 tblspn.
Salt – To taste
Add dal and water in a large pot. Once the liquid comes to a boil, remove the pot from the stove.
Strain the soupy liquid (shorba) from the dal into another pot. Reserve the strained dal.
Add the lemon juice to the shorba. Give it mix.
Pour the strained shorba into serving bowls.
Scoop out some dal and add it to the serving bowl.
Season with coriander leaves. If required, add the salt.
Optionally, you could skip the straining and serve the shorba thick.
- You could use other seasoning ingredients of your choice.
- The dal has already been tempered. You could temper it again depending on your preference.
- To make the shorba more flavourful, you could add adash of butter or ghee.
Tomato Shorba (Pressure cooked)
Shorba simply means soup/gravy. Shorba is a common dish found in many parts of the world, and goes by the names chorba, sorpa, shurpa, and much more. In India, this soup is commonly called ‘shorba’, and I am sticking to that. ☺
There are many variants of this soup – vegetable, lentils, meat and seafood. The possibilities are endless with the shorba. This versatile soup can be make thick, thin or chunky.
Shorba (as fancy as the name sounds) is simple to make and is sure to tickle your tastebuds. I have chosen to make tomato shorba as I had quite a lot of ripe tomatoes in the fridge that I had to use up.
This soup uses simple and everyday ingredients, and is packed with flavour. I have made this with pressure cooker but it could be made in a regular pot as well.
Ripe tomatoes – 6, roughly chopped
Garlic – 7 cloves, finely chopped
Onion – 1, finely chopped
Chilli – 1, roughly chopped
Cumin powder – ¼ tspn.
Coriander powder – 1 tspn.
Chilli powder – 1 tspn.
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Garam masala – 1 tspn.
Cumin seeds – 1 tspn.
Dried red chillies – 3, remove the stem
Cinnamon stick – 1
Bay leaf - 1
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander leaves – 1 small handful, finely chopped
Ghee – 1 tspn.
Oil – 2 tspns.
Water – 6 cups
Salt and pepper – To taste
Heat oil in a pressure cooker.
Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
Add the finely chopped garlic. Fry the garlic until it turns crisp and brown.
Add the onion and chillies. Stir for about 25-30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes followed by all the dry spices except cumin seeds.
Pour the water. Give it a good mix.
Cover the cooker. Allow the shorba to cook for 4 whistles.
Once the pressure settles, open the cooker.
Scoop out the cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
Use a stick blender to make a smooth soup.
If you are using a regular blender, allow the mixture to cool before blending.
Strain the pureed shorba into another vessel.
Optionally, you could skip the straining and serve a thick soup.
Heat ghee in a small pan.
To the heated ghee, add the cumin seeds. Fry them till the seeds are fragrant and brown.
Remove the pan from the heat, and add the curry leaves and dried red chillies.
Pour the tempering into the strained shorba. Sprinkle the coriander leaves.
- Add vegetables like carrot and celery to make the shorba more nutritious and tasty.
- Add/omit the spices according to your preference.