January 31, 2009

Brown Basmati Egg Biriyani with Chickpeas


This recipe is for a friend who asked me once... "How do you eat brown rice, I just can't seem to get used to it!"
I am sure she would be reading this today :) And I hope I can convert her from White to Brown with this recipe.

Brown rice has a lot of benefits. For one, it is very filling and you would tend to eat less. Well, there's a start!
It falls under the whole grain variety which seems to be recommended a lot these days. You must have seen those "Get more whole grains into your diet for a healthier you" appearing everywhere. If you haven't seen it, then you are looking at the wrong places, er... defnitely not in a fast food place.

So, what exactly is the difference between a brown and white rice, you may ask...
When only the outer husk is removed you get brown rice, and when the inner bran layer is removed you get white rice. Seems simple, but the bran layer is what packs all the nutrients. All that remains is white rice and carbs after stripping the grain of all its actual goodness.

Nutritional benefits of brown rice: They are rich in fiber, fatty acids (that lowers cholesterol), certain vitamins and Iron.

How to prepare brown rice:
If you have a rice cooker, then put it on "Brown rice" setting and forget it. Most modern rice cookers have this setting.

If you are using the conventional method, then wash the rice. Soak in warm water for at least an hour or two. Add water in the ratio of 1:2 (or in some cases 1 1/2). Depending on rice and texture preferences, these ratios might change. Always check your package instructions for how much water is recommended for one cup of rice.
Cook using a microwave cooker or cook on stove top like you would normally do for white rice.

Soaking brown rice is important. It allows germination and making it much more nutritious.

Changing from white to brown, does take time and you may not enjoy the fuller taste and feel of brown rice initially. But if you care more about your health, then more power to you!

This is a easy recipe to make especially if you are trying out brown rice for the first time. Egg Biriyani is an Indian dish normally prepared with rice, some vegetables and eggs of course.
I added chick peas to give it that added bite and flavor.
This is only kind of biriyani I make at home and I just love it.


Brown Basmati Egg Biriyani with Chickpeas


Eggs - 4
Brown Basmati Rice - 3 cups
Garbanzo/Chickpeas - 2 cups (canned or soaked and cooked)
Red onion - 2 cups (chopped)
Tomatoes - 2 cups (chopped)
Egg Biriyani masala - 2 tsp
Ginger - 2 tbsp chopped
Garlic - 4-5 cloves sliced
Bay Leaf - 1
Cloves - 2
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - 4 to 5 torn by hand
Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Fried Onions - 2 tbsp (To garnish, optional)
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - To taste


Hard boil eggs and keep separately.

Cook brown rice according to package instructions, which includes soaking in warm water and then cooking it with rice cooker or on the stove top.
The cooked rice should be al dente, not mushy. Cool completely.

In a wide pan on medium-high heat, heat oil, add cloves, bay leaf, curry leaves, ginger, garlic and saute well.

Add onions and saute till slightly brown. Add turmeric and salt.

Next add the tomatoes, pepper and saute for at least 5 minutes on medium high heat.

Add the egg biriyani masala and saute again. Add the garbanzo/chickpeas and mix well. Let the chickpeas cook for a while in the masala.

Score the eggs with a knife, or split them in half and add it to the masala.

At any point if you think the masala is too thick, add a little water. I normally don't do this, since the rice tends to become soggy when mixed together.

Turn off heat and then add the cooled cooked rice and mix well with a little oil to keep the rice grains separate.
Make assessment as to how much rice will be needed for the masala you make. Add more or less rice according to taste and heat level.

Mix thoroughly. Just before serving, add the fried onions and serve it along with yogurt raita.


This dish goes to:

Alexandra's Chefspiration's Healthy Choices
Ms's JFI Chickpea
Sudeshna's Harvest: The Festival of Rice

January 24, 2009

Mini Churros - Baked vs Fried


Commonly referred to as "Spanish doughnuts", Churros are originally a Spanish breakfast dish which are deep fried and then coated with sugar. I was first introduced to Churros at Costco (the little eatery they have) by a friend of mine while we were shopping.
Bunch of girls, walking around a store for hours together, shopping, what else would anyone expect!
They were a $1 each and we were in love with it. I have so badly wanted to make them at home ever since but without deep frying them.

That is when I turned to my trusty puff pastry sheets that always reside in my freezer. I love making vegetable puffs or egg puffs with them, and this time we have something sweet. Please note that puff pastry sheets by themselves have butter in them, that is how the layers are formed, so remember the term "relatively" guilt-free.

I cut the pasty sheet into strips, drenched them in cinnamon sugar, twisted them and baked them till golden. Taste wise, if you have had churros before, then you will know the difference since these are baked. But if you have no clue as to what the original tastes like, then you will be pleasantly surprised. They taste awesome and with a little dulche de leche to dip... can't ask for a better relatively guilt-free dessert.
If you don't have dulche de leche, then try dipping them in caramel or nutella.
Oh! Please don't drool all over my blog! :)


Mini Churros - Baked Vs Fried


Puff pastry sheets - 1
Cinnamon - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 cup (They don't take up so much sugar, it is only for coating, you will have some left over)
Egg - 1/2 beaten (optional)
A.P flour - To dust


Thaw out pastry sheets according to package instructions. It should be at room temperature or slightly still cold.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mix cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and keep them ready.

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.

Unfold the sheet, dust a little All purpose flour if need be and roll out slightly.

Cut into thin strips of desired lengths. I did mine about 3 inches long and 1 inch thick.

Brush beaten egg on both sides roughly. Coat with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Lay them on the cookie sheet with little space in between them so that they can puff up.

Bake at 400F till slightly golden brown on top.

Serve with caramel, nutella or dulche de leche.


January 22, 2009

Spinach and Anaheim Chutney

first 1

So, I really did take a tiny break for a few days since my last post!
Although not intended as a break, it morphed into one. I still have managed to catch up on some posts from other blogs, even though I have not been able to let my presence known.
So here I am, back to posting and visiting other blogs.

Seems like my Recipe for Disaster Series that I started last week was a serious hit. I gave a huge sigh of relief since I did not know how that was going to go down as a post. Some even suggested having events for disaster recipes, which I think is an awesome idea and seems like there are a lot of people like me around who would be willing to participate :)

After all that complaining and whining about how those food turned on me, let us take it easy with some Spinach and Anaheim chutney.
It really did not kick off as one, I was actually making onion and tomato chutney and then decided to throw in a good quantity of fresh spinach that was leftover after making salad the previous day.
Anaheim peppers were just an added bonus for that little kick.
Spinach is one of the greens that is easily available either fresh or frozen all year around and one of the most healthiest things too. It made for a great chutney and we enjoyed it with some dosais/crepes for dinner.
Here is my recipe for this chutney which was just made on the fly.


Spinach and Anaheim Chutney


Red Onion - 1 medium chopped
Tomato - 1 medium chopped
Anaheim chillies - 1 medium sliced
Fresh spinach - 4 handfuls
Cumin - 1 tsp
Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 2 cloves
Salt - To taste
Olive oil - 2 tsp

To season:

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad Dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - About 3 leaves


In a pan on medium high heat, add olive oil and drop the cumin seeds, ginger and garlic and saute till lightly brown.

Next add the onions and saute till it becomes translucent.

Add Anaheim chillies, tomatoes, salt, pepper and cook under medium flame till everything is just done.


Turn off heat, add the spinach and mix well. The heat from the mixture will wilt the spinach. Do not over cook.

Allow to cool slightly. Add a little water and grind it in a blender till really smooth.

Transfer to a serving bowl.

In another pan, add a little oil, then add the mustard seeds and urad dal. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, turn off heat and add the curry leaves.
This would be the seasoning for the chutney. Mix well and serve.


I am sending this to:
Ramya's Chutney and Dip Mania
Alexandra's Healthy Choices

January 16, 2009

Recipes for Disaster Series 1 - Dare to try any of this?

This time, I write about all of my recipe disasters till date, yes you heard it right... disasters! Come on! We all have them, right? And I don't make the perfect food every single time, and I don't think anyone does, right?
Most of them are because of my passion for new food and hence experimenting with them, and some just did not turn out right.

I am still going to be cooking and having failures every now and then, so I called this Series 1. More to come, er.. hopefully not!

So ready for my line up of not-so-good food? If you can't resist any of them and if any of you want the recipe right this moment... do let me know! LOL. I will be glad to give them to you! ;) I would totally understand your enthusiasm.

This is one post where I really would be disappointed if I get the "Yummy / Looks good / Nice recipe / Wow" comment! Please spare me my sorrow... Or I am coming after you!

Recipes for Disaster Series 1

Oats bun

Who on earth would such a thing as buns made entirely with oat flour! Me!
In my defense though, I was just starting out on my love affair with bread making and decided to make it super healthy by just using Oats flour. And what a bad idea that was! Oats flour by nature is a weak flour, and can only be used in combination with other protein rich flour to make bread.
They turned out like this...

Oats bun

But! Hang on there a minute... we did manage to eat them. I personally do not like wasting food and decided to have them this way... Not bad.

Oats bun - How we ate it

The next day it turned even tougher, so I had to cut them up and make upma with it, like this...

Oats bun upma

Rock Baguette

Second on our disaster list is a baguette, made a long time back. I can make decent bread now. I kinda know what works and what doesn't at this point. I again experimented with some weak flours, barley, buckwheat and a whole lot of combination and it ended up like rocks. They were so hard, that I really could not make it edible. So we ended up playing bat and ball with it, er, the bat being the baguette. Not difficult to imagine, is it? It looked like this...

Rock Bread

Chocolate chip zucchini cookie

Third on my list... It was not entirely my original recipe, but I did make some changes and it ended up okay. It was edible the first day, and turned so so bitter the next day. So that lands up on this list as well. It looks okay though, right?...

Zucchini chocolate cookies

Stove-top dough for a Cookie

Oh, we have another cookie lined up for this list. Oh well! It did not turn out to be a cookie exactly. I tried to make the dough on the stove top by heating demerara sugar, oats, flax, whole wheat and whole lot of other good stuff. But I got a gooey mass the first time...

Stovetop Cookie batter 1

How could I give up so easily!
Then I decided to try it again immediately and got this...

Stovetop Cookie batter 2

I am still wondering what happened, it was bitter and I really couldn't do anything with it. So it remained in the dough form forever!

Beetroot and Chocolate kheer/pudding

Next is my Beetroot and Chocolate kheer/pudding. What a waste of perfectly red fresh beets! I am still beating myself over this one.
I normally do not think of the recipe ahead. I just go with the flow and keep adding and zeroing on the recipe and ingredients. So, this started out as a beetroot payasam, and then I just could not leave it alone, so kept adding one thing after another including my lovely dark slabs of chocolate. I should have stopped then and there since it did not taste great. But would I? No!
I added perfectly roasted cashewnuts and raisins in hopes of making them better.
Verdict: Ruined! Just did not taste anywhere close to normal food!
Then I see this "Beet and chocolate cake" from Bee @ Jugalbandi. I am so envious!Those look so good! I hope I can get there one day.
I am still wondering where I went wrong. And this is what mine looked like...

Beetroot Chocolate kheer

Pretty isn't it? That is where it stops!

While you are at it... Please check out two of my perfectly good recipes (Spinach Potato Naan/Flatbread and Lowfat Eggless Almond & Oats Cookies) that are up for voting. Details on the top right corner of my blog. Thanks!

January 13, 2009

Banana Popsicles dipped in Chocolate and Nuts


Ice-cream is such a dangerous thing to have "on hand"! The oh-so-easy snack, comforting and indulgent. Now, with so many kinds of them... Lowfat, FatFree, LowSugar, SugarFree, LowCarb, Heart Healthy and many more, an average person no wonder gets overwhelmed.
I take time to read each and every ice cream's nutritional facts before settling on one, seems like an awful lot of time to be reading some label, but here is why it is important.
Most of the fatfree stuff has tons of sugar in them, I don't know why, but they seem to be compensating the lack of grease with sugar! And then there is the story about artificial sweeteners, the jury is still out on that. But either way doesn't help. The fat content is something that needs to be taken into account too.

Every child reserves the right to a nutritious and healthy food, why feed him/her junk, greasy, sugary stuff in the name of fast-food then? Why would one opt for such a lifestyle for your own kid? Beats me...

So, when your child asks for an ice cream the next time(I am not for denying a child the little pleasures, but moderation is what I suggest), if possible make a home-made low sugar and fat version at home. But if you are one who says "Wish I had more time and resources to be making ice creams at home" then this is something you'd want to consider.

Firstly, the bananas when frozen do not get hard. They are still soft and chewable.
I used a combination of dark and semi-sweet chocolate this time, and I am going completely dark the next time. I was not sure how this was going to turn out, so opted the easy way out by mixing both.
If you are making this for children, I don't think they would be enamored by the dark chocolate taste, so go for semi-sweet all the way.
It is very important to freeze bananas completely before dipping them in chocolate and after. Skimping on time will end in a mess. They stay frozen for a long time, so make sure to make lots of them and store them in the freezer in bags for a quick treat any time of the day.


Banana Popsicles dipped in Chocolate and Nuts


Bananas - 5 large
Dark/Semi-sweet chocolate - 1 cup
Fatfree Half and Half milk- 2 tbsp
Chopped Nuts (Almonds/Peanuts/Walnuts/Pistachios) - As needed

Skewers or Ice-cream sticks - 10 (break off sharp tip if using skewers)
Wax paper


Cut bananas in half, insert an ice-cream stick into each one. Lay it on a tray lined with wax paper and freeze for about 4-5 hours. I freeze them overnight. They need to be really cold and frozen before the next step.

Melt chocolate and milk over a double boiler, the top bowl should not touch the water below.


Keep stirring the chocolate till it becomes silky smooth.

Take the bananas right when you are going to make the dipping, not before that.

Dip or spread the chocolate onto the bananas and immediately sprinkle or roll in chopped nuts.

Lay it flat on a wax paper on a tray and freeze again for 3 hours or till the chocolate has hardened.

To store, you may store it in freezer bags once they are completely frozen.

Makes a great snack for kids and for the kid in you!


January 9, 2009

No-Knead Garbanzo and Fava Bean Bread - Breadline Africa


I don't think there exists such a bread, neither did I think there existed a flour which was made with Garbanzo and Flava beans. Very intriguing in fact.
What does one make with such a kind of flour... I have no idea!
I still have a huge crush on making breads and I make them out of anything I can. That is how this bread was conceptualized.

"Weird" one may call... Or call it "bold", but someone has to do it. I knew it was somehow going to be a dense bread. I added more moisture than I would for a normal bread to make it lighter and get those darn little air pockets which I love in my bread (more on that technique later... later as in... the next bread post)

This turned out to be a no-knead bread, just because the dough was not ideal for kneading. And this way it was quicker and effortless too. I added vital gluten, to add to the protein value.

I would request whoever is reading this to take up the tag and bake something that you are comfortable with for a good cause. I am not tagging anyone in particular.
But if you can, do bake and make it count. More information below.

Thanks to Ann, Usha, Uma, Navita, Yasmeen, Soma and Sanghi for tagging me.

Breadline Africa is a registered charity in South Africa that is seeking to put an end to poverty in South Africa and further afield in Africa. Their aim is to break the cycle of poverty and help communities to achieve long term self-sustainability. Breadline Africa was founded in 1993 by social workers and communities in South Africa with minded colleagues in Europe, (who were well placed to source out donations). They are geared to help fund small ground level projects in Africa which are most likely to succeed with financial help.

It launched the Worldwide Blogger Baker Bake-Off Challenge aiming at raising $ 1 M in funds. This bake-off gives us baking bloggers the power to make a difference in this world. What do we do? Bake bread. Give Dough. Feed Africa. Vals says, "You can sign up for the campaign, make a donation, upload your bread recipes and document your culinary adventures in the media center to spread the word. You don't have to donate money but simply just mention the campaign and create awareness."

From the Breadline Africa Bake-Off site:

On 15 October, we launched The Breadline Africa Worldwide Blogger Bake Off.The Blogger Bake Off is an online campaign that challenges bloggers to get involved by baking bread, and then acting by donating to end poverty. And then, challenge their readers and five other bloggers to do the same.

With the money raised, we will be supporting grass roots community projects aimed at ending poverty and hunger in Africa. We’ll be placing container kitchens, vegetable gardens and more in poor communities, sending emergency food relief where needed and helping these poor communities to help themselves.

The rules for bloggers are outlined below:

1.If you are tagged, copy and paste the rules into your post.
2.Bake bread, do something you wouldn’t normally do, and blog about it. Upload your picture and recipe.
3.Give dough, donate to Breadline Africa and help us end poverty.
4.Tag five bloggers, and ping us so we know you’ve done so.
5.The person who raises the most funds will get to name a Breadline Africa community kitchen and win $500 Amazon Vouchers. There are also three minor prizes of $250 Amazon vouchers for people who receive the most votes in the following categories:
Most Unusual Recipe; Most Nutritious Recipe and Most Traditional Recipe.


No-Knead Garbanzo and Fava Bean Bread


Garbanzo and Fava bean flour - 2 cups
Whole wheat pastry flour - 1 cup
All purpose flour - 1/2 cup (just to lighten the bread)
Vital Gluten - 3 tbsp (mandatory)
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Salt - To taste
Baker's Yeast - 2 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 tsp
Warm water - 1/3 cup


Mix sugar, yeast and warm water and rest for 10 min.

Sift the flours, salt, vital gluten.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the flour. Mix it with the yeast mixture.

With a heavy wooden spatula mix everything together. There should be no lumps or unmixed spots.

Grease a large bowl and transfer the dough and let it sit for 2 hours.


After two hours it should have risen a little. It won't double in size like a regular dough but close enough.


Punch down the dough. You wont be able to knead it, so just pushing it down will do.

Sprinkle a little corn flour or grease a loaf pan, and transfer the dough into it.

Let it rest again for an hour.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Bake for about 30-40 min. And then rest for about an hour.

Slice and serve with butter/spread.

The flavor and texture of this bread is different from the regular ones, but it tasted good.


This goes to Srivalli's and Susan's My Legume Love Affair - Seventh Helping
JFI - Chickpea by ms

January 5, 2009

Eggless Savory French Toast crusted with Chickpea flour


A quick and tasty recipe for those who can't have eggs either by choice, by dietary restriction or for the sake of change, like me.

I adapted this recipe from Mahimaa's blog. I did make some little changes to the recipe, which I have listed below. The thing that caught my attention was the ease of making it, and of course the nice change it brought during breakfast time. I am a big hearty breakfast person, just can't kick off my day without it.

The one thing that was a challenge was making those onion bits stick to the bread/batter. Next time I am going to chop them really fine. Other than that it was perfect. I used my potato bread (I will post the recipe soon, turned out my best so far, yay!) as the base for this dish. But really, any kind of bread would work nicely.

The chickpea & rice flour formed a nice crust and struck a lovely balance of soft on the inside and slightly crusty on the outside.
You can find chickpea flour in almost any grocery store (not just the Indian ones).
Rice flour (if you can't find any) may be substituted by cornflour for the added crusty finish.


Eggless Savory French Toast crusted with Chickpea flour


Whole wheat bread slices - 3 (or as many as you want)
(Adjust the following ingredients according to the number of bread slices you are making)
Chickpea flour/Besan - 1 cup
Rice flour - 2 tbsp
Water - Enough to make a paste with the flour
Red onions - 1/2 cup (very finely chopped)
Cilantro - 1/4 cup (finely chopped)
Red Chilly flakes/Pepper - To taste
Salt - To taste
Olive oil - Just enough to cook on both sides


Mix the chickpea flour, rice flour, chilly flakes/pepper, salt and water to make a thin paste.

Add the red onions and cilantro and mix well.

Heat a non-stick pan, drizzle a little oil on medium heat.

Dip the bread slices in the batter, the onion bits may try to fall off, try to add them on top after laying it on the pan.

Cook on both sides till lightly golden brown.

Serve hot with chutney or tomato ketchup.


January 2, 2009

5-minute Microwave Brownies - Low fat & Whole wheat


Wishing everyone who is reading this a very Happy & Healthy New Year 2009.

I started blogging towards the latter part of this year, and this feels wonderful! I have made a lot of new friends, and a lot of new, healthy recipes that I am proud of.
Along the way, I have learnt a lot of things about cooking and eating healthy which I would have been clueless about a few years back. Thanks to all the encouragement from my family and friends.

There is this tradition that I believe in (so do a lot of people) that making and eating something sweet today, will make the whole year sweet and enjoyable.
Chocolate says festive, joy and sweetness to me. And a brownie is an excellent way to put all there is in a chocolate to play. This is my healthy take on this recipe from George Duran of Food Network.
This recipe was requested by one of my friends from school... she wanted them,
low-fat, relatively healthy, sugar free and one that can be made in a microwave quickly.

I have covered almost all of them except for the sugar part. I used regular granulated sugar but it may be substituted with Splenda if you are making it for a diabetic person. You could also use Agave as a slightly better alternative for regular sugar.

Whole wheat pastry flour is one of the healthiest forms of flour out there, and is suitable for baking and making pastries. If you don't get this where you live, then you may use All purpose flour.

Points to note:

Use a 8" or 9" pan for baking this, and it should be at least 2"-3" tall. The batter tends to expand a lot while cooking.

I baked the brownies for 5 minutes in my microwave. And learnt that 4 minutes (or lesser) in mine would have been ideal since it is quite a powerful microwave.
It tasted great when served immediately, but mine dried out a little as time went by.

So while making this, adjust the cooking time according to your microwave.
For a normal microwave: 4 1/2 - 5 minutes (exactly) to make this.
For a powerful microwave: Not more than 4 minutes.

Do not bake in the microwave for more than 5 minutes even if it looks undone. It tends to cook a little during the 3 minute resting period.

Go ahead, impress your friends and family with this quick dessert this New Year.


5-minute Microwave Brownies - Low fat & Whole wheat


Whole wheat pastry flour - 1/2 c (minus 1 tbsp)
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Eggs - 2
Sugar - 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (add more if you like them sweeter)
Unsalted butter - 4 tbsp
Unsweetened chocolate - 3 oz.
Vanilla - 1 tbsp
Chopped Walnuts - 1/4 cup
Chocolate chips - 1/4 cup (To sprinkle on top)


Spray a 9" microwave safe dish and keep aside.

Sift whole wheat pastry flour and baking powder and set aside.

Beat eggs and sugar and keep aside. Do not use a hand mixer for this. A simple large whisk/large fork would do the trick.

In a microwave safe bowl, add the butter and the unsweetened chocolate and microwave it for 1-2 minutes till completely melted. Take it out and whisk till shiny and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Mix in the vanilla, eggs and sugar mixture to this and whisk quickly. Make sure the chocolate is not too hot, or it will scramble the eggs.

Add the flour until completely incorporated. Fold in the nuts.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. No need to cover entirely. It should look like this.


Microwave for 4-5 minutes.

Let it rest for 3 minutes.

Spread the chocolate chips (that has now melted) on top into a smooth layer.

Cut and serve with cold ice cream, or enjoy them as it is! How quick was that?
For a few minutes of work, this is way better than the oven baked ones.