My life was nourished and nurtured in the beautiful vale of Kashmir painted with mountains, lakes, running streams and meadows that know no end. Now in another beautiful part of the world in the US, I cook for the love of good healthy food…that feeds the soul. I recreate recipes that shaped my history and culture. For the love of discovering life and all things that speak to you and urge you on to evolve, touches your soul and make your journey through life a fulfilling experience.
Who doesn’t love falafels?? A plant-based vegan protein-packed food that is ever so delicious. Whether it is in sandwiches or salad toppings or cooked in sauce, falafels are versatile and very easy to make at home.
Did you know Chickpeas are the oldest consumed crop in the world? Besides the historical fact, they do help keep you full and balance your blood sugar levels. Add spinach and fresh herbs to that and you are looking at a nutrient loaded food that is so good for your body.
I was experimenting with a healthier version that is not deep fried and these turned out amazing.
A beautiful filet of wild salmon, some fresh organic zucchini and arugula were the inspiration for this plate.
I am always looking to add spices and tastes from my heritage to my cooking when I can.
I also grew up with beautiful large walnuts trees which first gave the succulent raw walnuts which are white in the interior and then the beautiful dried ones that we all know so well. Walnuts are a staple in my pantry, I buy in bulk and keep them in the freezer.
The sauce is a play on the flavors of cumin and mustard to start with and then the flesh spiciness of arugula an garlic pulls it all together. It will stay in the fridge for a while to be used on salads and others dishes during the week so do invest in making a batch.
I have used 3 organic zucchinis so you will have leftovers for the week. The zucchini is inspired by Ayurveda which calls for simple ingredients. I have used clarified butter, cumin, mustard and fresh curry leaves….. the flavor is just amazing
Pat fillets dry with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.
Run the ingredients for the sauce through the food processor adding water if needed and set aside. I like the taste Feta brings to this sauce but do adjust to your own taste
Chop the zucchini into bite size pieces. In a skillet, add Ghee, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
When the spice starts to splutter add the cut zucchini and sauté on medium heat until tender. Salt to taste as you go,
Put a cast-iron skillet or heavy pan over high heat. Add grapeseed oil and when the oil is hot the fillets in the pan, flesh side down and let sear for 1 minute. Flip to skin side down and let it cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin is crisp.
To serve, plate the sauce and layer on the zucchini topped with the Salmon.
We are waiting for spring on the east coast so patiently but it keeps testing our patience. The first day of spring has come and gone bringing beautiful snow with it…..cold days, blossoms annoyed to be out in this cold and leaves struggling to show their faces.. I am trying to brighten up the “almost spring” spirit with some amazing fresh ingredients and flavorful spices like Za’atar.
Za’atar is a blend of herbs and seeds often used in the Middle Eastern cooking. I bought my Za’atar mix from a local middle eastern store but you can always make it at home and use your variations of this herb and spice blend. Typically, za’atar is a blend of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. Mine also included roasted flour.
The lemon zest is a key ingredient enhancing the flavors so beautifully so don’t skip that.
The chicken comes out tender and juicy, and you can prep this recipe a day or 2 ahead on time, keeping it in the fridge until you are ready to roast
The cauliflower steak is also as simple as it can be, sliced, sprinkled with the spice blend and roasted until brown. It is a delicious, healthy and gluten-free side for any occasion.
I do tend to make and store a lot of fermented foods so served it with a side of grated Daikon radish pickle. You can find some of my pickle recipes on my blog
Make some knife incisions or cuts in the chicken pieces for the marinade to get in. Pat dry.
Mix all the ingredient together for the chicken and rub it in the chicken pieces thoroughly.
Store overnight or longer
Roast at 400 degrees for 45 -55 minutes until golden brown
Slice the cauliflower like large steak pieces
Sprinkle with the Zataar spice and some grapeseed oil on both sides.
Roast at 400 degrees for 30 mins or until browned slightly
You can serve this with a salad or pickles. I have here some Diakon Pickle with fresh radishes and an arugula walnut pesto ( will post the recipe soon).
This is a fun week for another reason. There is a fab party at Angie’s Fiesta Friday and I am co-hosting with Petra. Petra’s blog has one of the most creative recipes with fresh ingredients that I have seen and so do check it out!
Ok…. so this is not much of a recipe but more of the art of putting it all together…but I just had to post. Such an amazing crunch and taste that it leaves you craving for more. And it is healthy, nutritious and scrumptious. If Gluten bothers you, this is GF.
My cauliflower pizza base is Cauliflower and Corn flour from Trader Joes or Moms Organic market. On my trip to MOMs, I brought back beautiful garlic, asparagus, fresh Kale, Jalapeño, and mushrooms. I had some Parmesan and Halloumi in the fridge so putting this together was a breeze.
Note this is not a typical pizza smothering in tomato sauce and cheese. This one showcases the beautiful vegetables so adjust if you need more of the cheeses or add some tomato sauce.
The Kale and chopped mushrooms need to be sautéed in chopped garlic with a pinch of salt and set aside.
Slice or chop some Asparagus, Jalapeño, Roma tomato and set aside
Slice the cheeses.
Cook the crust according to instruction until it is firm and slightly crisp. The TJ version had me cook at 450 degrees and flip the crust to cook 12 mins on each side. That was perfect
Top the crust with veggies and cheese and put under a broiler for 3-4 mins.
Douse with some good avocado or olive oil and red chili flakes.
My love for eggplants keeps me experimenting with new recipes from around the globe. This one is close to my heart and soul and so very easy to make.
Frying eggplants will fill your kitchen with an amazing aroma. I often chow down a few slices even before they make their way to the dish.
This recipe has the flavor of cloves, ginger, and fennel and is a delicate yet strong blend to showcase the eggplants. The tamarind paste is what adds the tanginess. Use it to your taste.
Tip: Be careful not to burn the cloves or the chili powder but adding water quickly.
4 eggplants – long or 8 small
1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 onion chopped
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ginger powder
2 tbsp fennel powder
2 tbsp red chili powder
4 green cardamoms
4 black cardamoms
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1 tsp tamarind paste
Salt – to taste.
Putting it together:
Soak the tamarind paste in 1/2 cup hot water. Put aside.
Chopped and fry the onion until golden brown and make a paste of the fried onions adding a dash of water
Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 3 to 4-inch lengths – keeping a part of stem on the end pieces.
Heat the mustard oil until smoking and deep fry the eggplants until golden brown. Drain on paper towels
In a wide pan take 3 tbsp of the remaining oil and bring to medium heat
Add the cloves, red chili powder and salt. Add 2 cups of water immediately not letting the red chilies burn. Add the garlic, turmeric and cardamoms fennel powder, ginger powder, onion paste and continue to cook for 10 mins adding 2 more cups of water if needed.
Add the eggplants and tamarind water and cook for 5 -10 mins to get to a saucy consistency.
Serve with a garnish of green chilies with white rice or roti.
Sometimes the simpler the food the more rewarding for your taste buds. Visions of many beautiful vegetarian tables with paneer, lentils, and pickles seem to stay with me. The memories range from restaurants to friends houses after school, to street side travel shacks and many more…..but they are always vivid and connect me to a rich past.
Growing up our family were big meat eaters…it would not be “food” without lamb or chicken 🙂 However, every now and then we would have a vegetarian day where Paneer would be the showcase.
When I first moved to the US, store bought paneer (cheese) was not an option so making the paneer at home was the only way. Don’t get me wrong, homemade cheese is the best but sometimes a working girl needs a premade handy version so dinner can be cooked at moments notice.
The local Asian stores now have the most amazing Paneer available so I keep a block in the fridge or freezer for quick dinner situations.
This is a curry, which as always is spicy, tangy, rich, gentle, soft and ever so delicious.
I have paired it with butter rice, lentils and pickles. Naan or roti would be perfect with the platter.
While I was in NYC for a conference, I had the pleasure of dining with my sister and brother in law at a fabulous restaurant Cleo at Mondrian Park Ave. The chef certainly had a way with Mediterranean small plates but one particular dish that caught my attention was the vegetarian Moussakah with eggplants and feta immersed in delicious béchamel sauce.
I have made Mousakkah many times with Lamb, beef and also with just vegetables and it always comes out warm and comforting.
Inspired by Cleo I experimented with a new recipe and it was a winner.
Moussakah is a very popular Greek dish but there are many versions of it through the Mediterranean, all equally worthy of trying.
In a traditional Greek Moussaka recipe, minced beef (or lamb) is cooked in a tomato base and spices then layered with eggplants and topped with creamy béchamel sauce and cheese.
In this vegetarian version, my basic ingredients are sweet eggplants and mushrooms. Then the béchamel sauce and the topping of feta and gruyere. I have made two small plates here for lunch but you can adjust and make one large one. The béchamel sauce has leftover which was wonderful. I have stored it for use during the week.
1 large eggplant or 3-4 slim ones
Cremini mushrooms – I box around 20 pieces
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 of a cup olive oil or avocado oil
1 cup pureed tomatoes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
Stick of butter – 4 ounces
Whole milk – 3 cups
Flour – 4 ounces
2 egg yolks
1 cup Grated Gruyere
a pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the eggplant into slices (1 inch), Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.
Squeeze the liquid from the eggplants with your hands and pat dry with a paper towel. Drizzle the eggplants with some olive oil and bake them for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven until golden brown.
Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat and stir in the chopped mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes, add the garlic and chopped onions and continue to cook. Add the cinnamon and adjust the salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens.
For the béchamel sauce use a deep pan and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste and add warmed milk pouring in a stream. Continue to whisk the whole time to avoid lumps and get to a smooth paste. Remove the pan from heat and add the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese. Whisk to incorporate all the ingredient and get a smooth and creamy paste
To assemble I have used 2 small dishes, you can use a large baking dish as well. Sprinkle the bottom with some panko or breadcrumbs and layer the eggplants. Add the mushrooms sauce and another layer of eggplants.
Top with the béchamel sauce, feta, and more gruyere.
Cook in a 400-degree oven for 15 mins until bubbly. Cool for a few minutes before digging in