Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vegan Lemon Quinoa Bean Salad

Spring has sprung and along with frequent showers, blooming flowers and warm weather it has also brought back my craving for salads. Throughout the cold months of fall and winter, I crave soups and hot curries, come spring and summer and I want much more salads.And salads that combine protein, some veggies and are filling enough to qualify as a one dish meal, are my favorite kind.

This quinoa bean salad definitely definitely qualifies. It is hearty, filling, nutritious, oil free, low fat and even packs well in the lunch box. Cannot ask for more from your salad :)  This salad can be put together really quickly making it a great option for weeknight dinners. If you are looking for more ways to include quinoa in your diet, give this one a a try and as always would love to hear your opinions and ideas :)

 Vegan Lemon Quinoa Bean Salad | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make lemon quinoa bean salad
1 cup quinoa
1 cup corn
1 cup cooked pinto beans ( see notes for substitutions )
6 spring onions cut fine ( only the green part )
2 jalapeƱos cut fine ( or to taste )
Salt to taste
Handful cilantro cut fine
Juice of half a lemon (or to taste )

Rinse quinoa in cold water for a full minute. Place in large heavy bottomed pan, add 2 cups of water and place on medium heat. Cook until quinoa is cooked and soft. Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork and keep aside.

Cook corn in the microwave or the stove top with just enough water until soft. Keep the cooked corn aside. Make sure there is no water remaining in the cooked corn, if there is, drain the corn completely and keep aside to use in recipe.Allow quinoa, corn and beans to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, mix together quinoa, corn and beans gently. Add salt to taste and mix again. Add spring onions and jalapeƱos and mix.

Add lemon juice and mix well. Garnish with cilantro and serve at room temperature or chilled.

If you do not want to soak and cook beans, you can substitute with canned beans. Just rinse the beans thoroughly in cold water, drain and use in recipe. Instead of pinto beans,  red kidney beans /rajma  or black beans can also be substituted in this recipe.

If you are looking for quinoa recipes here are a few more,

Quinoa Khichdi ~ Peanut flavored quinoa

Quinoa mung dosai ~ Savory crepes

Lemon Vegetable Quinoa


  Quinoa Flax Uthappam ~ Savory quinoa crepes

    Quinoa Oat Adai ~ savory quinoa lentil crepes

   Quinoa Lentil swiss chard soup  
Read more ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Katrikai Rasavangi ~ Vegan Eggplant Lentil Curry

Its been a while since I posted in this space.  Ever since I opened my online jewelry store I have been super busy with setting it up and even though I have made some really interesting recipes recently that I want to and hope to post in this space soon, I haven't been able to more than peek at this space these last few weeks. I guess I have yet to learn to balance both my passions. But I am hoping to hit my stride soon and work out a way to post here frequently too.

Moving on to the post, katrikai rasavangi is a dish from Tamilnadu made with eggplants, lentils and a spice mixture made with roasted lentils and coconut. The best way I can describe this to those of you who have never tasted or tried this before is that it is somewhat similar to sambar. It is served over a bed of plain steamed rice with a stir fry kind of curry on the side. This rasavangi was something I used to make fairly frequently in the past, but in the recent couple of years I have hardly made it, not sure why, since I love it so much. Anyway recently when I made it again, I was reminded of how awesome this rasavangi tastes and since then it has become a regular in my kitchen again :)

Katrikai rasavangi ~ Eggplant Lentil Curry | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Katrikai Rasavangi
1/2 cup split pigeon peas (tur dhal / Tuvaram parappu)
Small gooseberry sized tamarind (Imli/ Puli)
6 to 7 small Indian eggplants cut into 1/2 inch pieces (baingan/ katrikai)
Salt to taste (namak/ uppu)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi/ manjal podi)

Roast in 1 tsp oil (tel/ ennai)
1 tsp Split black gram lentil (Udad dhal/ ulatham parappu)
2 and 1/2 tsp coriander seeds (dhania/ kothamalli virai)
a pinch of asafoetida (hing/ perungayam)
4 dry red chilies (sukhi lal mirch / molagai vathal) (or to taste)

1 tsp coconut oil (or any other oil)
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai/ kadagu)
10 to 12 curry leaves broken into small pieces (kadipatha/ karvapillai)

Grind with 1/2 cup fresh/ frozen grated coconut (nariyal/ thengai) (if using frozen, thaw to room temperature)

Place pigeon peas/ tur dhal in a medium sized bowl, fill with water, swirl with hand and strain water. Fill with fresh water enough to submerge the lentils and soak for at least 30 minutes. Pressure cook the lentils until soft, this usually takes 3 to 4 whistles in my pressure cooker. Alternatively you can cook the lentils on the stove top or in the microwave until soft and mushy. When the pressure subsides, open pressure cooker, mash the lentils gently and keep aside.

In a small bowl, soak tamarind/ imli in sufficient water for at least 15 to 30 minutes.Press the tamarind/ imli with fingers and extract juice. Strain and collect tamarind juice in another bowl and fill the first bowl with tamarind with some more water and extract juice again. Strain and discard the tamarind pulp and seeds.

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a small pan on medium to medium low heat, add split black gram/ udad dhal to it and stir until the lentils begin to redden, then add coriander seeds/ dhania, pinch of asafoetida/ hing and dry red chilies and stir a few times. Remove from heat and grind this entire mixture along with grated coconut and very little water until it turns into a smooth paste. If you are using frozen and thawed to room temperature coconut, use a little warm water when grinding this paste. Keep the paste aside.

In a medium sized heavy bottom pan, add tamarind juice, salt to taste, turmeric powder and place on medium heat. Add cut pieces of eggplant/ baingan to it and allow this mixture to simmer until the eggplant becomes soft and tamarind loses its raw smell.

Once the eggplant is soft add cooked dhal and the ground paste to it and mix well. Add water if required to achieve a sambar like consistency, simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to mingle. In a small pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds to it when the seeds begin to splutter, add curry leaves/ kadipatha, stay a little away from the pan as curry leaves sometimes causes oil to splutter a little, pour the entire seasoning on the rasavangi. Remove from heat.

Serve rasavangi hot on a bed of plain steamed rice and a curry on the side or chips/ papad/ appalam on the side. Rasavangi also tastes good with chapathis/ phulkas/ Indian flat bread.

 If you are looking for recipes with eggplant/  baingan, here are a few more

Baingan Bharta ~ Vegan Roasted Eggplant Curry 

Baingan ki sabzi ~ Eggplant in coconut milk gravy

Methi Baingan  ~ Eggplant with fenugreek curry

Baingan Simla mirch sabzi ~ Eggplant bell pepper curry

Read more ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chocolate chip cookies made healthier ~ Egg free, butter free chocolate chip cookies.......and an announcement !!

First let me share my big news. Ever since I made some jewelry for the first time a few years back, I have been hooked onto it.  Before I knew it, making jewelry became a very important part of my life and turned into a passion. Since last year I have been wanting to make this big part of my life even bigger. After months of planning, agonizing over small details and working on so many unexpected angles that were necessary, I've finally made it official.......my jewelry store Anukriti Designs is now online. If you are interested in this kind of thing and would like to take a peek, here is the link to the store. You will also see a small widget in the sidebar that will take you into the store and displays some of the items that are currently in the store. 

The day I went live with the store I decided to celebrate with a sweet treat. I've had this idea in my head for a while to try a healthier version of chocolate chip cookies and this seemed like the perfect occasion to finally try it. I used almond meal (powdered almonds) and coconut oil to make it healthier. I've used almond meal in cookies before and know it works well but this was the first time I've used coconut oil in a cookie. I was a tad worried that I might be able to taste the oil, but I needn't have worried at all. The cookies turned out delicious, crunchy and sweet with just the right amount of chocolate chips..... a perfect treat.  I've already made this a couple more times and it tastes amazing every time. If you are looking for a delicious treat for your family that is secretly healthy too, give this one a try :)

Chocolate chip cookies made healthier ~  Egg free and Butter free Chocolate Chip Cookies - Vegan Chocolate chip cookies | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make egg free chocolate chip cookies 
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour ( maida)
1/2 cup almond meal ( powdered almonds / badam) (see notes)
1/3 cup cane sugar 
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 Tbsp cold milk (use dairy free milk for a vegan version)
1/3 cup semi sweet choco chips (use dairy free choco chips for a vegan version)

Pre heat oven @ 350 deg F (approx 180 deg C). Line a tray with parchment paper and keep aside. 

Powder almonds using short bursts of power in a spice grinder/ processor/ mixer and measure as needed for the recipe after powdering the almonds. Do not over grind as the nut butter will cause clumping.

In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients ie apf, almond meal, sugar, salt , baking powder and mix well.

Add  melted coconut oil and mix slowly. Add 2 tbsp of cold milk and mix again. Finally add semi sweet choco chips and mix .  Spoon this mixture onto the parchment lined tray making sure to keep at least an inch between each cookie. I usually make each cookie with 1 heaped Tbsp of cookie mixture. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lower side is golden brown and the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Do not handle these cookies while they are fresh from the oven as it crumbles at that stage, once cool though these cookies are deliciously crunchy and easy to handle. Once cool store in an air tight container and enjoy anytime with a glass of milk or tea/ coffee.

Yielded 12 to 15 medium sized cookies, yield will depend on the size of cookies.


To get this amount of almond meal, I just powdered about 1/3 cup of almonds using my spice / chutney attachment in my mixer/ processor. You can also use store bought almond meal for this recipe.

If you have coarse sugar with large crystals like the Indian variety or  turbinado,  powder the sugar before proceeding with the recipe.

If you are looking for other egg free / eggless bakes with chocolate, here are few more,

Oat Banana Brownie ~ Egg Free

Chocolate Cupcake with  Ganache

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bar

2 Min Egg Free Brownie in a mug

Egg Free Avocado Brownies

Low fat Egg Free Black Bean Brownie
Read more ...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sprouted Mung Bhel ~ Moong Bhel Puri ~ Sprouted Mung bean salad

Bhel puri is a popular fast food / street food in India. Every eatery, from the smallest snack shack to the largest restaurant offer this item on their menu. It is made with puffed rice, some veggies, a combination of sweet and spicy chutneys and some crunchy sev.  The description of this chaat definitely does not do justice to this yummy snack. No wonder than that bhel puri easily ranks among my most favorite chaat items.

Like most food, I find bhel puri too tastes much better when made at home. So from time to time whenever the mood for chaat strikes us, I make the conventional version of bhel puri at home,  but more often I make this sprouted mung beans version that is much more healthier. This is like a cross between aloo chana chaat and the traditional bhel puri, only with mung bean sprouts. This is a great way to enjoy bhel puri without the guilt. Once all the ingredients have been assembled, it can be rustled up real quick, making it perfect for weekends or other times when you are looking for something fun and healthy without wanting to spend too much time in the kitchen :)

 Sprouted Mung Bhel ~ Moong Bhel Puri ~ Sprouted Mung Bean Salad | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make moong bhel puri
1 and 1/2 cup sprouted and cooked mung beans (moong/ payaru ) ( see notes) to learn how to make sprouts, check out this post
1 small potato cooked, peeled and cut into small pieces (aloo)
2 Tbsp finely chopped onions (pyaaz)
2 Tbsp finely chopped tomatoes (tamatar)
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves/ hara dhania)
Salt to taste (namak)
Sev to taste (crunchy fried chickpea flour fritters) (available in most Indian groceries, see notes for sub)

Assemble all the ingredients. In a large bowl, add sprouted and cooked mung beans, then add onions, tomatoes, potatoes, cilantro, the two types of chutney, salt to taste and mix well. Add sev and mix again. Serve immediately.

This quantity makes enough for 1 to 2. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled as required.

If you like crunchy raw sprouts you can add them raw to this bhel too. I do that sometimes, but most times I like to cook the sprouts with very little water until it is slightly soft yet firm, then I cool it thoroughly and use in this recipe.

If you want to cut the calories from the sev, you can use baked potato sticks, or baked fries that are now available instead, just crush the fries/ sticks a little and sprinkle over the beans and you are set :)

If you are looking for other chaat/ snacks, here are few more,

Aloo Chana Chaat

Sev Puri

Masala Chana ~ Baked Crunchy chickpeas 
Read more ...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wacky Cake ~ Vegan Chocolate Cake ~ Chocolate Cake without eggs, butter or milk

A couple of weeks back, I wanted to bake a cake for my neighbor. When I was going through the options, I was pretty sure that chocolate cake would be a good choice, since her little boy seems to have a decided partiality to all things chocolate. And I have to admit I completely understand the partiality, since I feel the same about all things chocolate :) Since I have a lot of chocolate desserts among my pinned posts, I decided to chose one of those recipes to try. Finally I settled on wacky cake. I have come across many versions of wacky cake or crazy cake as some people refer to it. If you are wondering what is wacky cake, it a cake that is made with no eggs, butter or milk or even bowls, the cake is entirely mixed directly in the baking pan, making for an easy cleanup as well :)

After reading up on wacky cakes, I learned that this cake seems to have existed as early as World war II when there were shortages of things like butter and eggs etc.Here is an interesting article in the LA Times about this cake and its origin if you would like to read up on it. This cake was super easy to make and it turned out moist and delicious. Surprisingly the cake tasted even more delicious the next day. This one's a keeper and I cannot wait to try more variations of this kind of cake :)

Wacky Cake ~ Vegan Chocolate Cake ~ Chocolate cake without eggs, butter or milk | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Wacky cake  (adapted from this recipe)

1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
2 and 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp white vinegar 
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp oil + a little extra for greasing the dish
1 cup water

Pre heat oven @ 350 deg F ( approx 180 deg C) 
Grease a 8 inch square baking dish and keep aside.

In the same baking dish, add the first five dry ingredients and mix well. Make three depressions in the dry mix, two small and one larger one.

Add vinegar and vanilla extract separately to the two smaller depressions and oil to the larger depression. 
Add water and mix everything together gently, make sure to scrape the corners in order to include any flour in the corners.

Place the dish in the middle rack and bake for 32 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove, cool a little, glaze the cake or top with a little powdered sugar , slice and enjoy. 

I used glaze this time, the recipe for the glaze is given below

For the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar / confectioners sugar
2 and 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder ( see notes)
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl , drizzle on top of the cake when it cools a little and spread evenly.  Slice and enjoy. This quantity was just right to cover this entire cake.

With 2 and 1/2 Tbsp of cocoa powder the glaze tasted slightly chocolatey, if you want a more pronounced chocolate taste increase the cocoa powder to 3 Tbsp or even 3 and 1/2 Tbsp of cocoa powder or to taste. 

If you are not comfortable with mixing ingredients directly in the baking pan, mix everything in another bowl and pour into pre greased baking pan.

Read more ...