Monday, October 5, 2015

Dhal pinni ~ Vegan Spinach dhal ~ Palak dhal

In the comfort food category, dhal ranks very high on my list. Especially when I am looking for something simple and comforting to go with my rotis, I like to have some dhal. The only issue I have is that most dhal recipes I make,  have a base of onions and tomatoes. And when I cook for my mother in law I have to find ways to avoid onions since she doesn't eat onions on most days of the week for one reason or the other. Of course there is always tadka dhal that does not use onions, but If dhal is on the menu every week, there is only so much tadka dhal I can have :) 

So the other day when I was browsing through a recipe book by Tarla Dalal and I came across a very unique recipe for dhal, I was intrigued. This no onion, no garlic dhal recipe has kabuli chana (chick peas) along with other lentils, and has a masala that surprisingly includes some coconut in it. I have to admit this is the first time I have ever seen coconut being added to dhal and I was very keen to try it. So pretty soon I made this dhal with a few changes and I just loved it. I've made this a few more times since then, although not as often as I would like and this dhal never fails to satisfy. It is full of flavor and nutrition and tastes great with rotis and phulkas. 

  Dhal pinni ~ Mixed dhal with palak ~ Vegan lentil spinach curry | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make dhal pinni (adapted from Tarla Dalal's book Jain Desi Khaana)
1/4 cup chick peas (  kabuli chana  )
1/4 cup split pigeon peas (tur dhal )
1/4 cup split red lentils ( masoor dhal)
1/4 cup split mung beans lentil (moong dhal/ pasi parrappu) 
1 cup finely cut tomatoes pieces (I used 1 large tomato for this )
3 cups packed finely chopped spinach (palak/ keerai)
2 green chilies cut fine ( or to taste) (hari mirch/ pachai molagai)
Salt to taste (namak/ uppu)
1 tsp sugar (shakkar)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi/manjal podi)
1 tbsp oil 

Masala paste
1 tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
1 tsp khus khus 
3 dry red chilies (sukhi lal mirch) ( or to taste)
1 clove (laung)
2 Tbsp grated coconut (nariyal/ thengai)
2 Tbsp cashew nuts (kaju)
2 tsp oil

Handful of cilantro (hara dhania/ kothamalli ) cut fine for garnish.

Soak chickpeas/ kabuli chana overnight or for 6 to 8 hours in sufficient water. Drain water, fill with fresh water and cook the chickpeas in the pressure cooker or on the stove top until soft. If you are using canned beans, rinse and use in this recipe.

Place the other three lentils/ dhals in a large bowl and fill with water. Swirl with water and drain, repeat a couple of times, then soak the lentils for at least 2 to 3 hours in sufficient water. To the soaked dhal, add  salt, turmeric powder, finely cut green chilies, tomato pieces and more water if needed. Make sure the dhal is fully submerged in water.  Cover the bowl with a lid and place in the pressure cooker and cook until the lentils are cooked, I usually need about 3 to 4 whistles in my pressure cooker.  Alternatively if you do not want to use the pressure cooker or don't have one, place all the above ingredients in a large heavy bottomed  pan and cook adding water as needed until all the lentils are cooked soft and mushy.

For the masala, heat 2 tsp oil in a medium sized pan on low to medium heat, add all the ingredients mentioned under masala except coconut. Saute until the ingredients are fragrant and roasted. Remove from heat and cool. Grind these ingredients with coconut and water as needed to make a smooth paste. Keep the paste aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in  a heavy bottomed pan, add finely cut spinach and saute until the spinach is cooked and wilted. Add the cooked lentil + tomato mixture to this, then add cooked chickpeas and masala paste. Add sugar and water as needed to achieve required consistency and simmer for a few minutes until the flavors mingle. Adjust salt to taste if needed, garnish with cilantro/ dhania and serve hot with roti of choice or with plain steamed rice.

Suggested variation: If you like the taste of ginger you can also add 1/4 tsp dry ginger powder (soonth)  to the dhal , at the time you add sugar. 

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Egg Free Blueberry wheat muffins

These past couple of weeks, the weather in our neck of the woods has been hot. Sometimes it is so hot that I fondly look forward to fall and cooler weather. Yeah, I am not much of a summer person, sweltering heat is not one of my favorite things. But there is one thing about this time of the year that I really enjoy, the sheer variety of fruits that are available right now. Between peaches, cherries, blueberries and mangoes among other things, I can never decide on one that I favor more, so I end up picking up quite a few kinds of fruits each time.

And since I always seem to have a nice variety of fruits on hand and it has been a long time since I baked anything fun, I thought it would be nice if I could bake some fruity kind of muffin. After a little thought I decided on blueberry muffins. This is quite easily one of the easiest muffins I have ever made. The prep time for it took hardly a few minutes, while the oven was pre heating I mixed the ingredients and I was good to go. The end result was soft, tender muffins bursting with delicious blueberries in each bite.  Definitely a keeper, I plan to make this again..... and soon :) 

 Egg Free Blueberry Wheat muffins | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make egg free blueberry wheat muffins (Recipe adapted from this one)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (maida) 
2 tsp baking powder (I use aluminum free baking powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar (see notes)  + 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar (optional, see notes)
1 cup fresh blueberries (rinsed and patted dry)
1 cup milk (use non diary milk for vegan version)
1/4 cup oil

Pre heat oven @ 400 deg F (approx 200 deg C) Line a muffin tray with paper or grease the muffin tray and keep aside.
In a large bowl, add whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and mix well.

Add milk and oil and mix again.

Add in fresh blueberries and mix gently. Spoon the mixture into pre lined muffin tray until each of them are 2/3 of the way full.  Sprinkle with a little sugar on top of the muffins.

Place tray in oven and bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove, cool a little and enjoy. This quantity yielded 11 standard size muffins.

If you have granular sugar, powder the sugar before using in recipe. With this quantity of sugar the muffins turned out mildly sweet, if you like your muffins with a pronounced sweetness, increase the quantity of sugar to 3/4 cup or to taste. I sprinkled a little turbinado sugar on top just for a little crunchiness and sweetness, you can skip this if you do not want it.

If you are looking egg free muffins, here are a few more

Mocha Choco Chip Muffins

Apple Wheat Muffins

Apple Banana Choco Chip Muffin

Read more ...

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 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 ...