Food Lunch salad Vegan vegetarian

green salad with toasted dates and strawberry dressing

Today is the first day that spring was at its peak and summer was trying to push through. I can see my seedlings sprouting through the earth eagerly reaching for the sun. The birds this year have been in abundance and start their crazy chirping at 4 am – I do not mind. Gratitude for life is everyday but this particular time just in the vortex of spring and summer brings deep thankfulness in my heart.

This is my thankfulness salad 🙂

I had seen a recipe on a blog I follow from Hadia  where she had used fried dates and this recipe was inspired by her use of dates. I have roasted the dried Medjool dates for a few minutes on a dry pan and toasted the almonds in the same.

The greens are spinach and some arugula ( any greens should be fine).

The fresh radishes are the first harvest from my garden and the moong sprouts are home made. The dressing is a strawberry concoction where I have not used any oil. It is a blend of strawberries, Dijon mustard, rice vinegar, maple syrup and Umeboshi paste. The recipe has the guidance for the quantities but I would recommend you adjust to your taste. The plum paste is very tart and salty so be careful.

Sharing a beautiful poem by Habba Khatoon the great mystic poet that had a tremendous influence on the culture in Kashmir

Rain has come , and fields and fruit trees sing,
Spring has come , and Love , the Lord of Spring,
Dandelions have lifted up their faces,
Cold has gone and every wintry thing !
Forget-me-not the forest graces,
Iris and the lily spring will bring.
Gather violets, O Narcissus,
Winter’s ashes from our door I fling !
The water bird the lake embraces,
How can frost upon your petals cling ?

Greens with toasted dates and strawberry dressing

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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• Greens- Spinach and Arugula – 3 handfuls

• Red Radishes – 5 -6 sliced

• Fresh Strawberries – 10 sliced

• 1 cup Mung sprouts

• 1/2 cup shelled edamame

• 1/2 cup slivered almonds

• 1/2 cup chopped Medjool dates


• Fresh Strawberries – 5

• Dijon mustard – 1 tbsp

• Rice vinegar – 2 tbsp

• Umeboshi – 1/2 tsp

• Maple syrup – 1tbsp

• Salt and sprinkle of water if needed


• Toast the dates on a dry pan for 2 -3 minutes – you should be able to smell the slight caramelization.

• Toast the almonds for a couple of mins

• Blend all the ingredients for the dressing adjusting to your taste

• Assemble the greens and top with radishes, sprouts and strawberries.

• Add the dates and almonds and top with the dressing.

For my friends Angie and Laurena and everyone else at Fiesta Friday – hope you enjoy this vegan salad.

Food Vegan vegetarian

Tofu tomato curry with beetroot raita

Spring comes and goes a little tantalizing and evasive. Just cold enough to want some spicy rich curry. This is a vegan version of a wonderful rich “tikka masala” usually made with chicken. I am not going mention the quarantine times , but i just did 🙂 . Hard to get time slots for groceries to be delivered made me reflect on what we really need to made a good meal.

It is also the wonderful month of Ramadan where creative recipes is really a challenge at the end of a long working day when the last thing you want to do it cook. Fortunately being homebound means you can prep in between meetings and conference calls – i know some of you get that 🙂

I had tofu and coconut yoghurt from the last grocery run. The spice cabinet is always full. Rice is abundant in an American Indian kitchen.

And I had roasted yellow beets that I was using in my salads.

You can make this this dish as rich as you like by adding butter or ghee and topping it up with cream. It is incredible either ways

For the beetroot raita: I roasted the beets in 375 degree oven for 40 mins. Grated and added them to yoghurt with 1/2 minced garlic, salt, chopped mint and 1/2 tsp cumin powder.

Tofu Tomato Curry with Beetroot Raita

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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A beautiful curried tofu tikka masala


For the tofu:

  • 2 blocks tofu  extra firm
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt ( plant based for a vegan choice)
  • 1/2 each for cayenne, coriander and cumin powder
  • Squeeze of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt to taste

For the sauce:

  • 1 large yellow onions, peeled and halved
  • 2 tablespoons  oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Fenugreek powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilies
  • 1/2 tsp Cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp Fenugreek leaves (dry)
  • 2 -3 tbsp cashew cream ( homemade of store bought)
  • Salt to taste


  • Drain the tofu. I put the slab in a colander, covered with a cloth or paper towels and put a brick over it for an hour.
  • Make a marinade with the rest of the tofu ingredients
  • Cube the tofu and mix with the marinade. Leave for at least an hour. You can leave it overnight if you are planning ahead
  • Bake the tofu cubes in the 350 degree oven for about 45 mins, turning and rotating every 15 mins.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions. Add the garlic and ginger when onions are translucent and sauté for a minute.
  • Add all the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne and cardamom toast for a minute. Salt to taste.
  • Then add the tomato paste and tomatoes. Cook for about 20 mins, add a splash of water if too dry.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce and return to heat.
  • Add the fenugreek powder and cashew cream.
  • Add the cooked tofu pieces and simmer for 5 mins.
  • Garnish with some dried fenugreek leaves

I have served the curry with the wonderfully cooling golden beet raita and white rice topped with some mint and sumac.

I am cohosting Fiesta Friday with Antonia and looking forward to the wonderful dishes from the virtual community.

Food Kashmir Lunch side dishes Vegan vegetarian

Kashmiri Phool Yakhni – Cauliflower in Yogurt sauce

Kashmiri Phool Yakhni is a vegetarian version of the sublime yogurt based Yakhni that is traditionally mutton based in Kashmir. Cauliflower is the shining star in this recipe

The Cauliflower florets are par-boiled in turmeric, fried and then simmered in yogurt infused with spices like cardamom, fennel, ginger and cinnamon. These are the quintessential spices used in Kashmiri cuisine which date back to centuries.

Modern Kashmiri cuisine  tracks its history to 15th century when Timur ( a Turco-Mongol conqueror)  invaded India which led to the migration of 1700 skilled woodcarvers, weavers, architects, calligraphers and cooks from Samarkand to the valley of Kashmir.

Ok so here is the diversion from the traditional in my American kitchen….This is my recipe and I have used a coconut based yogurt to experiment with a vegan version. It was beyond my expectations, and dancing taste buds kind of delicious. I used the So  Delicious unsweetened coconut yogurt. Please free to use your choice of unsweetened yogurt.

Continuing to break the tradition, I decided not to fry the cauliflower after boiling but it can be done just to get a crisp browning. Not necessary in my opinion.

This recipe also uses lots of turmeric simply because I love it! 

Before the recipe begins, I am leaving you with verse of Habba Khatoon and 16th century Kashmiri poetess and peasant queen. These verses remind me of the beauty and uniqueness of Kashmir that translates to its cuisine.

The distant meadows are in bloom.

Have you not heard my call?

Flowers bloom on mountain lakes

Come, let us ascend these meadows now

The lilac blooms in distant woods

Have you not heard my call?

Phool Yakhni - Cauliflower in Yogurt sauce

  • Difficulty: moderate
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"Phool Yakhni - Cauliflower in Yogurt sauce"



• Cauliflower – 1 broken into large florets

• Onion – 1 medium

• Ginger powder – 1 tsp

• Turmeric Powder – 2 tsp

• Fennel powder – 1.5 tsp

• Garlic – 1 tbsp minced

• Green cardamom – 5

• Black Cardamom – 2

• Cinnamon sticks – about 3 -4 inches

• Crushed Dry mint – 1 tbsp

• Rice flour – 1 tbsp

• Salt to taste

• Mustard or oil of choice ( 2 tbsp and additional for frying the onions)

• Organic Yoghurt ( Regular or plant based) 3 cups or 1 24 oz container


• Add 1 tsp of turmeric to boiling water. Add a sprinkle or salt and boil the florets for about 2-2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

• Chop and fry onions until golden brown. Remove onions from oil, crush in a mortar pestle and set aside

• Heat the leftover oil from the onions and add more if needed in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the yogurt and start whipping. You have to continue whipping the yogurt until it is boiling. Your hand cannot leave the stirring/whipping or the yogurt will curdle. This is a critical step in making a smooth sauce. It will take about 10 minutes.

• Add the rest of the spice ingredients ( except for mint and onions)

• Keep the stirring going for 5 mins or so.

• Add the cauliflower. If the suace is thick, add some water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered until the cauliflower is tender.

• Add the Fried onions and Mint for a beautiful flavor.

• Serve with white or brown rice or bread.

Vegan vegetarian

Greens in spices – Chinese Spinach and Red Chard

Sometimes finding unique fresh green in the market just makes my day. Could not resist bringing home crisp and fresh Chinese Spinach and Red Chard. Washed and chopped they were ready to be cooked with spices.

Batch of Chinese Spinach and Red Chard
Batch of Chinese Spinach and Red Chard

Heat up some Mustard Oil and add dry whole red chillies (2-3) and 4-5 cloves of chopped garlic. Once sizzling, add a pinch of asafoetida (optional) and a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover with a lid for 10-15 seconds to create some steam. Add all the chopped greens and cook until wilted. Add 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Fry with the spices for a couple of minutes, add a cup of water and then cover and cook for 15-20 mins.  It’s that easy!


You can serve this with brown rice, Quinoa or the traditional while rice.