Vegetable shopping at my local green grocer is one thing that I enjoy very much. It is pleasing to see fresh and colourful fruits & vegetables arranged beautifully. The seasonal goodies take the prized spot in the front of the stores and demand to be picked up.
My haul, today, included crisp apples, mushrooms, pumpkin and carrots. The mushrooms especially were fresh and I just couldn’t resist picking up some. I am glad I did because I was able to dish out these awesome stuffed mushroom cups.
These make great party canapés, lunchbox fillers or a snack. In this recipe, mushrooms serve as an edible cup filled with sautéed vegetables topped with cheese.
Mushrooms are low in calories and are an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals. For those of you on a low GI or low calorie diet, mushrooms are ideal as they have negligible amounts of fat and carbohydrate. For vegetarians and vegans, mushrooms are a good protein source. A little Google research also suggests that a mushrooms contain a specific type of protein called hydrophobins, which are exclusively found in mushrooms; it hydrophobins that render that beautiful texture to mushrooms. Cool, eh?
Here’s how you make these delish stuffed cups of goodness.
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. ☺
It is a pleasant day today and wanted something light and refreshing to eat. I was not up to some major cooking or even chopping for that matter. All I wanted to have was something quick and light.
After raiding the fridge and pantry, I saw some ingredients sitting pretty. There were all that I needed for this no-cook, no-bake bruschetta.
This idea is adapted from the classic Italian caprese salad. The main ingredients of the salad are tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella. The salad is as fresh as it comes, and gets done in no time.
I had all the ingredients for the salad and a beautiful loaf of pane di casa to make this bruschetta. The sweet basil, tangy tomatoes, cheesy bocconcini come together atop bread slices for a delish snack.
With minimal chopping, and prep, this was all that I needed. I am happy so is my tummy. :)
If you are planning to feed a crowd, this makes for a great appetiser.
Tomato – 1, sliced thinly
Bocconcini/ fresh mozzarella – 4 to 6 pieces (or more depending on your preference)
Fresh basil - 6 leaves, washed and dried.
Balsamic vinegar / balsamic glaze - 1 tblspn.
Baguette/ pane di casa/ sourdough/ regular bread slices – 2
Olive oil – ½ tblspn.
Salt and pepper – To taste
Take the bead slice. I used pane di casa.
Brush the olive oil on the bread slices.
Alternating among the three, arrange the tomatoes followed by basil leaves and bocconcini pieces.
Drizzle some of the balsamic vinegar or glaze.
Season with salt and pepper.
- As mentioned in the ingredients, use any type of bread you like.
- If you can’t find fresh mozzarella or bocconcini, use grated or shredded mozzarella commercially available.
- You could toast the bread if you like.
- Before serving, you could also pop the bruschetta in the oven at 180*c for 10 minutes for an almost pizza feel. :)
It is pure joy to consume snacks that are low in calories and carbs yet delish. The baked cauliflower tots are a delightfully guilt-free, tasty and nutritious snack. The vitamin-rich cauliflower is combined with cheese and complementing ingredients, and then baked till it turns a crispy golden colour. This snack is perfect people who are on a low carb diet, or have gluten intolerance; this is just the kind of snack that kids who fuss about eating vegetables would enjoy.
Cauliflower florets – 2 cups
Shredded cheese – ¼ cup
Onions – 1, finely chopped
Garlic minced/ garlic powder – 1 tspn
Breadcrumbs – ¼ cup
Chilli flakes (optional) – 1 tspn.
Dried mixed herbs (or any of your choice) – ½ tspn.
Oil – To spray or brush
Water – To cook the cauliflower
Salt and pepper – To taste
Grate the cauliflower florets or put them through a chopper to shred them.
In a small pot, boil water and put the cauliflower in.
Allow it to steam for 4 to 5 minutes with the pot covered.
Once done, drain the water and allow the cauliflower florets to dry till the excess moisture is gone.
Pre-heat the oven at 200*c.
In a large bowl, combine the steamed and drained shredded cauliflower and the remaining ingredients except oil.
Mix well till you can mould them into a little ball or oval shaped pieces.
Place those tots in a lined baking tray.
Spray some oil and pop them into the oven for 15 to 20 mins or till it turns golden brown.
Serve warm as an appetizer or as a side.
- Ensure there the mixture is not too watery, this will not aid in keeping the shape intact.
- In case you have an issue with excess moisture, add breadcrumbs, besan or cornflour.
- Add an egg or egg whites from 2 eggs to bind the mixture better.
This flavourful salad is a combination of fresh and juicy vegetables topped with spicy herbed breadcrumbs.
It is an improvised version of the panzanella salad; stale bread or any bread along with tomatoes and other vegetables go into the making of the panzanella salad. Instead of using rustic bread varieties, I have used homemade spicy herbed breadcrumbs to add some crunch to a simple salad.
Tomato – 2
Onion – 1
Cucumber – 1
Capsicum – 1, deseeded
Salad greens – 1 handful
Baby spinach ( optional) – 1 small handful
Spicy herbed breadcrumbs – 3 tblspns. Recipe here
Salt and pepper – To taste
Balsamic vinegar – 1 tblspn.
Extra virgin olive oil – ¼ tblspn.
Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Keep aside.
In a small cup, add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mix them well. Keep aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add the salad greens and spinach. Top it off with the chopped vegetables.
Drizzle the salad with the olive oil and vinegar mix.
Season with salt and pepper.
Give it all a good mix.
Finally, sprinkle the spicy herbed breadcrumbs and serve fresh.
- Add/omit any vegetables depending on your preference.
- Use a vinegar of your choice.
- If you are making this salad ahead. Prepare the veggies and dressing separately. Mix them all when you are ready to serve. Add the herbed breadcrumbs just before you’re about to serve as it can get soggy.
Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip made with chickpeas and a few tasty ingredients. Typically, hummus has tahini (sesame paste). I do not enjoy tahini so I decide to skip it from the dip.
This easy and versatile dip tastes great with crudités, pita bread, chips, salads and wraps.
Hummus is forgiving when it comes to flavours; it adapts to most ingredients you add to it. I wanted something spicy, and I used a fresh jalapeño for the spicy kick.
My favourite way to consume hummus? With crunchy crudités.
Chickpeas - 1 can or 1 cup boiled chickpeas
Lemon juice - 1/2 tblspn.
Garlic - 2 cloves, peeled
Salt - To taste
Olive oil - 1 tblspn + 2 tspns for serving
Jalapeño - 1, stem removed, deseeded and deveined
Paprika - 1 pinch
If you're using canned chickpeas, drain the brine, clean it and keep aside.
In a clean and dry blending jar, add all the ingredients except paprika. Blend it to a smooth paste.
If required, add a little more oil to aid the blending process. Avoid using water to grind it.
Scoop out the hummus and place it in a serving cup, drizzle some olive oil. Sprinkle the paprika, and serve fresh.
- If you can't find fresh jalapeños, used the pickled ones or green chillies.
- If you are not a fan of spicy dips, omit the jalapeños. Add flavourings like parsley, coriander or mint.
- I added paprika for the smoky flavour, you could add cayenne pepper, black pepper powder or red chilli powder.
Sometimes, all you need is a comforting plate of sweet, tangy and spicy chaat. Unfortunately, chaats get a lot of bad press for being too oily and unhealthy. Thanks to the deep-fried sev, papdi and pooris that go into it.
While I agree that the deep-fried goodies add great taste to chaats, skipping them to make healthier version of the snacks does not mean compromising on the flavour.
This channa chaat is one such plate of goodness that actually has fresh and nutritious ingredients. Yes, all this without the papdi, sev or pooris, making it a perfect teatime snack.
The versatile yoghurt comes to the rescue when you want something delish, nutritious creamy and not very fattening. This time the humble yoghurt comes in the form of a spicy, curried, low-fat dip.
This dip is simple to put together, requires very few ingredients, tastes fabulous and keeps well in the fridge for up to a week. Sounds like a winner, doesn't it?
Low-fat, thick yoghurt or Greek yoghurt - 2 cups
Curry powder - 3/4 to 1 tblspn.
Garlic powder (optional) - 1/2 tspn.
Spring onions (optional) - 2, white and light green parts chopped finely
Chilli flakes - 1/4 tspn.
Cracked black pepper - To taste
Salt - To taste
Salads, chips and crackers with creamy dressing/ dip is always a winner but the fat and calorie content are not. Here’s a dip/ dressing that is easy on the calories without compromising on the creaminess and taste of the full-fat versions.
Low fat yoghurt – 1 cup
Chives (chopped) – 1 Tblspn.
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Cracked black pepper – ½ tspn.
Roasted cumin powder – ¼ tspn.
Chilli flakes – ½ tspn
Salt – To taste
I always keep frozen puff pastry sheets handy to make a quick snack and it is a lifesaver when entertaining too. One such quick and amazing snack/ appetiser is the caprese tart. Flaky and crunchy puff pastry sheets are topped with juicy tomatoes complemented by basil leaves and mozzarella cheese. This recipe calls for few ingredients thereby making it a quick-fix for those cheesy hunger pangs.
Note: Recipe makes 6 single-serve tarts.
- Puff pastry sheet – 1
- Cherry/ grape tomatoes – 10, halved
- Basil leaves – 1 handful. Roughly chopped
- Mozzarella cheese (shredded) – 1 cup
- Salt, pepper and chilli flakes – To season
- Olive oil – To brush or spray