Celebrating Food Day 2015 | Top 10 #GreenMeal Recipes ~ A Virtual South Indian Thali

Today, October 24th 2015 is being celebrated as Food Day all over America. This year's focus is to move towards a greener diet, raising awareness about the critical importance of eating less meat and enjoying more whole plant-based foods as a way to become healthier and to help animals and the environment. Like never before, researchers are emphasizing the same point and I firmly believe that it leads for a better living and more compassionate eating. Don't you all agree? There are many events happening all over the country as a part of Food Day Green Meal program and to do my bit, I am participating in Food Day Blogger Takeover with a post filled with many delicious plant based recipes.

The idea here to present them in the form a South Indian Thali. A Thali (for those who are not familiar with the concept) is a typically 7 to 10 course meal served as platter with little bowls consisting of a wide variety of different dishes like vegetable curries, dals, papad/chips, rice, bread, pickle, a sweet dish and yogurt. Almost any Indian restaurant has a thali on their menu and mostly served during lunch times.

Now, Are you ready to see what dishes I have served in my (virtual) thali? Read along to know more and get the recipes!

Three Things Thursday | Week 2

[1] Life is like a butterfly: Trust postcrossing for some lovely surprises every now and then into my mailbox. Here's one postcard I received from Nataly (Canada). Along with a sweet message where she talks about her recent fun trip to British Columbia, also included are recipe cards and a butterfly made by her daughter. Isn't it super sweet? Gestures like these from complete strangers does make you realize the beauty of a handwritten note when compared to an email.

[Previously On] Three Things Thursday | Week [1]

[Eating Out in New York City] Jack's Wife Freda | NYC Restaurant

This post was supposed to see the light of day many months ago. I blame the sudden move to Bay Area and crazy aftermath for its delay. Now that the humdrum of everyday life is slowly settling in and am getting used to a new routine, I want to talk about this amazing experience with you all. Though it happened sometime ago, the memories of it are still fresh and if I ever get a chance, I want to do all over again with my favorite gal pal K, who also happens to be my sister-in-law and a passionate foodie like me. Her cooking skills are well known in our circle of friends and she also unabashedly admits her intense love for the City of Dreams - NYC. I couldn't have asked for a better buddy to spend my Saturday with and roam around the hustling streets of New York City.

Why Jack's Wife Freda?: For that you need read this TimeOut's article on 12 drool-worthy brunch dishes you need to try in NYC. Instantly, we knew Jack's Wife Freda would be a perfect choice for brunch and is to be definitely added to our itinerary. After some back & forth emails, a jam-packed schedule was planned - starting with Union Square Market, Chinatown, walking Brooklyn Bridge end-to-end and then finally to squeeze in few moments to go to pasta heaven - Eatly.

Jack's Wife Freda NYC Restaurant soho new york

Three Things Thursday | Week 1

I always had this desire to share my thoughts beyond just food, here on this blog. Being a true Libran, I get easily bored with regularities of Life and my mind is always buzzing with new ideas/projects to try. For the first time, when I stumbled upon a post called Three Things Thursday on Dixya's blog, I was curious to know what was this meme all about. Turns out, the concept is as simple as the name suggests - to share three things every thursday. It is hosted by lovely Raj from Pink Chai Living, Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch, & Salma from The Write Balance.

Now, wouldn't that be interesting, to just pause for a moment and appreciate little aspects of our mundane days.

Here are my #3ThingsThursday.

[1] Birthday One: To all who are celebrating - Happy Vinayaka Chavithi. Today is the day when Lord Ganesha was born. So, here's Wishing him a Happy Birthday too! Last weekend when we went to one of our friend's house warming party, I saw this lemon shaped in the form of our beloved Elephant God. Do you see what I see - the flappy ears and the long trunk? Incredible. Right?

Mujadara [Mujaddara] | Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions + Spiced Yogurt Recipe

I forgot the count on how many times I wanted to try making Mujadara at home. All the cookbooks and blog posts I read had the same underlying theme - this dish is the essence of comfort food in the Middle Eastern cuisine. After making it at home, now I know why. There is this deep color and sweetness of caramelized onions tossed simply with rice & lentils, which makes a heady combination of flavors. Some recipes add cumin or allspice but for me just salt & pepper will do. To serve, it needs some heat and the spiced yogurt will provide the dish just enough kick along with some nice creaminess. I can go on and on, on easy it is to make and how this would make an amazing one-pot meal. I will stop here though because I want you to read and then make the recipe at home, to discover & know for yourself that what all I said here is absolutely true. :-)

Mujadara | Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions Spiced Yogurt Recipe

[Quick Monsoon Recipe] Iyengar Bakery Style Vegetable Masala Bread Toast

Don't we all miss those memorable moments of our past? Those tiny incidents that warm our hearts and bring a smile on our faces even today. Well, my short stint in Bangalore sure had many moments to cherish. Eating in Iyengar bakeries was just one of them especially when the weather is slightly cooler than normal. Today's recipe Iyengar Bakery Style Vegetable Masala Bread Toast was made to reminisce & celebrate the time spent in the beautiful city of Bangalore. The intention is also to break the dry spell of no-posts happening on this blog since May and be more regular with my updates. Enjoy...

[Farmer's Market Series # 3] Union Square Greenmarket, New York City

It has been more than SIX months since I moved to New York City. Say what? Time just flew and it sure took time for me to adjust to this new New Yorker lifestyle. I still feel like an alien in a mad world that is always is a rush to reach somewhere. There are tons of places to see and so many things to do in New York City. It will be a wishful thinking on my part if I aspire to do them all, but there are a few must-visit places and Union Square Green Market is definitely on top of the list. So, on a fairly overcast Saturday morning, we set off to explore the city as much as we can. The plan was to meet at the market and then move on to other places like Brooklyn Bridge, China Town, Little Italy, Chelsea Market etc. 

This post is a part of the Farmer's Market Series I do whenever I visit a new city. First one was on Mountain View (California) and another featuring a market from back home. It has been a while since the last feature and am so thrilled that I could be photograph this beautiful NYC market filled with gorgeous seasonal produce and artisanal products. Enjoy!

Union Square Greenmarket New York City
Fresh Carrots, not the ones that are bagged and frozen from our local grocery store

[Healthy Breakfast Recipes] Kale, Potato and Tomato Mini Frittatas

I am a late bloomer when it comes to reading books. Except for text books and occasional Secret Seven pickups from our school library, my childhood was very pretty unadventurous. Then a time came when I was living all by myself in a foreign country and a stranger (who later became my roommate and a good friend) inspired me to delve deep into a regular reading habit. It started small and now, it has become an integral part of who I am. It took me beyond just pure literature. Reading (especially food fiction) helped me develop an awareness that is very hard to describe or put in words. When I read a recipe now, I can imagine myself cooking one step at a time and almost taste an imaginary version. :-) Today's recipe - Kale, Potato and Tomato Mini Frittatas is I must say an upgraded version of a potato chip topped frittata I usually make for breakfast. If you don't have muffin cups, simply make an omelette out of the egg mixture and you are good to go!

kale potato tomato mini frittatas

[Recipe Redux] Tandoori Gobi | Oven-Roasted Cauliflower with Tandoori Masala

Out of all the vegetables I like, Cauliflower is my most favorite. I sneakily add it to my pastas, stuff into my bread, simply fry it and even use it as a substitute for an authentic meat dish. Today's recipe 'Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Tandoori Masala' too is an adaptation of Melissa Clark's popular recipe which I already made it for the blog. When done right, I believe there is nothing that beats a humble cauliflower dish. So, when the awesome people at Recipe Redux gave 'Spring Cleaning' as a theme for this month, I raided my pantry for a condiment I hardly used before (Tandoori Masala, which I got in the goodie bag of IFBM 2014), grabbed a cauliflower (I always have one in my fridge), tossed everything with good olive oil and let the magic happen. Except for the few stirs in between while the veggies are roasting, there is not much to do for this dish. Yet, when served hot, it will amaze you on how incredibly flavorful it is. :-) 

Oven-Roasted Cauliflower with Tandoori Masala

[Game of Thrones Special Recipe] Harrenhal Vegetable Stew

"Winter is coming"..

"A Lannister always pays his debts"..

"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die"..


As someone who got into a reading habit pretty late (in her 20's), fantasy genre never appealed to me much. I read Harry Potter in parts and never touched The Lord of the Rings!. My natural inclination is towards fiction with either lots of drama (The Notebook) or suspense (The Thirteenth Tale). My book choices are pretty predictable and never-out-of-the-box. Then 3 years ago, I accidentally stumbled upon George R. R Martin's Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice & Fire series). It was an intimidating set of books with 1000+ pages each and very hesitatingly I started reading on my e-reader. The story of GoT, set in medieval times is filled with swords, sex, gothic creatures and characters hungry for power - always. There are too many Houses to remember and worst of all, as soon as you start liking a(ny) character, the author invariably kills it. Ugh. Anyhow, soon I found myself drawn into this fantasy world to such an extent, that it was very hard to get out. Every chapter had a cliff hanger at the end and it was impossible to resist NOT to read the next one. 

Coming to today's recipe - Harrenhal Vegetable Stew, I have to say whether you are a fan of the show or not, it will appeal to all. Just cut the veggies in season, dump everything into a stock pot and let it simmer. Store the rest in refrigerator and enjoy during those crazy weeknight dinners. (If you were me, while watching an episode of GoT). :-)

My Legume Love Affair # 81 [March 2015 edition] - The Roundup

The month of March just flew by and APRIL has already kicked in. Whoah! Winter is slowly saying goodbye as well and everyone I know in New York City is so ready for some sunshine. I hope in the coming days, we have plenty of it and there are flowers blooming instead of a pile of snow accumulated on the sidewalks!. Meanwhile, here is a roundup of some lovely legume recipes submitted by a bunch of you for the event My Legume Love Affair # 81. It was so much fun to see such variety of recipes pour in for every few days. Thanks for participating and here we go. Bookmark the ones you like and if you have few minutes, do show some comment love. :-) Bon Appetit.

Homestyle Rajma Masala Curry | Step by Step Recipe

We are a family of dal-lovers. We were a family who took many short road-trips, to be out of the city and to get some fresh air into our lungs. It was during one of those trips at a roadside dhaba, I ate the most flavorful and simply-made bowl of rajma with fresh roti from a tandoor. It was all that it promised - creamy, not-too-spicy and with a big dollop of cream & fried chilli on top. I was an enthusiastic 11-year old, discovering new food (with the help of my mother) and that combination simply bowled me over. I still remember my school friends from Northern part of India just couldn't understand the zealousness and what was such a big deal about it!. Till today, the memories of that first bite are fresh and this recipe for red beans curry with rice or bread is (and will be) my absolute definition for comfort food. Enjoy!

This recipe is an entry to My Legume Love Affair # 81, hosted this month by me. Have you sent yours yet?

Update: Here is a lovely roundup of all recipes submitted to MLLA 81.

{Update} on Vaidehi Ashram Fund Distribution [March 2015]

It has been quite sometime that I posted an update on Vaidehi Ashram. Life in general got extremely busy (read as chaotic), pushing everything else into the back burner. Honestly though, there has been not a single day when I don't think of these kids at the ashram. Now, thanks to my mother, I could coordinate and disburse about 50,000 Rupees for their monthly groceries. The ashram currently is giving shelter and a chance to lead a better life for about 120+ girls (from ages 3 to 21 years) and providing 3 square meals a day is a necessity. A big thanks to the generosity of these awesome people out there and the trust they have in me to help out these kids. The remaining amount (~ Rs 50,000) is being planned to spend as their monthly schools fees in the month of May 2015.

All the photographs used in the post have been taken by my mother using her phone. I think she did a hell of a good job capturing the true essence of the visit. Bonus: My driver took a video too. Check it out at the end of this post. :-)

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who came forward to help these kids at the ashram.

{Event Announcement} My Legume Love Affair (MLLA) 81 [Last Date: March 31st 2015]

After almost 2 years, I am super kicked to announce that my favorite food event of all - My Legume Love Affair will be hosted here for the month of March 2015. Now, its time to rock and roll again, to celebrate the goodness and versatility of our dear legumes. Rules are pretty much the same and once your recipe is posted, add the link using the Linky tool attached to the end of this post.. Non-bloggers can participate too. Details inside.

Get those aprons ready to cook some delicious legumes all month along!. I am waiting. :-)

{Recipe Redux} Spectacular Chocolate Espresso Brownies

[Updated] These spectacular brownies got featured in Deccan Chronicle newspaper. Yay!

Are you a dessert person? I  am not and that might be the reason why I have only about 22 recipes blogged since seven years!. Sometimes though a rare sweet craving hits suddenly and you will see me indulge on them, guilt-free. And I have friends, nieces and a husband whose regular sweet cravings must be attended to. So, now you know why I baked these absolutely delicious brownies when the lovely bunch of people at Recipe Redux chose chocolate combo as a theme for February. These Spectacular Chocolate Espresso Brownies are fudgy in the inside and cake-y with occasional melted chocolate puddles on the outside. Also, don't you all agree Chocolate and Coffee are match made in heaven? Try it to believe it!

Spectacular Chocolate Espresso Brownies

Strawberry Cake Recipe

I was in Munich (Germany), far away from home when I first read about this recipe on Rev's blog. My immediate reaction was oh-my how beautiful does that look and next was - damn! why am I not home to bake the cake right away! Once I came back, I jumped on the first opportunity and made it - not once but twice in a row. It was that delicious. Sprinkling some sugar on top just before baking is a lovely idea to caramelize the top and to turn the strawberries into a goo-ey mess which are sneakily delicious. It is time to join the Strawberry Winter Cake Movement. Wohoo!

Nothing spells like #yum that this ridiculously easy berry cake. Trust me! :-) 

Strawberry Summer Cake
Strawberry Cake 

[Quick Snacks] Crunchy Bagel Chips Recipe

My breakfast on most of the weekdays is an everything bagel with either cream cheese or an omelette sandwiched in between. Just like in my house, am sure by the end of week, there are a few bagels, more than a day old - just lying around on many kitchen counter tops. They are usually semi-hardened, hard to chew and I just can't bring myself to throw them into the bin. Today's recipe Bagel Chips is one easy idea to turn them into flavorful, healthy snacks. They are unbelievably easy to make and in less 20 minutes you have a jar full of chips to munch on. Whip up a batch of these for your next potluck party and they're oh-so-perfect for scooping with your favorite dip!

[New Year's Special Recipe] Creamy Goan Black-Eyed Pea Curry

It has been a tradition since past few years to welcome a New Year with a black eyed pea post. Last year it was scrambled eggs, the year before with some fried fritters (still a popular one for New Year's) and a curry with coconut, the year before that. The reason is simple - in some cultures, black eyed peas symbolize good luck due to their penny-like appearance. They also signify abundance and if there are any left overs for the day after, it is meant to demonstrate frugality and prosperity in the coming year! Don't get me wrong. I am not a stickler when it comes to any kind of customs or superstitions but it is always a good feeling to start something on a good note. Isn't it? Today's recipe is a vegan curry made with coconut milk and some aromatic spices. New Year's or not, this recipe comes together in a giffy, any kind of beans like red, garbanzo etc can be substituted instead of black eyed peas and it will still taste heavenly. Enjoy.

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