Sunday, May 20, 2018

Cooking With Luffa a.k.a Chinese Okra

Many of you may have heard of Loofah sponge or Luffa. It is actually made out of a vegetable named luffa gourd. At grocery stores in North America it is labelled as chinese okra.  It is also known as Ridge Gourd.  This is a very popular vegetable in Asia.

There are many ways to cook with this vegetable.  Here is one of my favourites.  This can be cooked in a pressure cooker or in a regular pot.  If you are cooking this in a regular pot I'd recommend using red or orange lentils as they cook much faster. If you have a pressure cooker use pigeon peas or Toor (Tuvar) dal.


Luffa Gourd or Chinese okra - 1
Pigeon peas or Orange lentils - 1 cup
Onion - 1 medium chopped coarsely
Green chillies - 5 chopped
Tamarind paste - 3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Oil - 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 3 cloves crushed
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


Peel the ridges off the Luffa and chop into bite sized pieces.  You just have to peel the ridges and not the entire vegetable.  Combine 1 cup of lentils, one medium sized chopped onion, 5 or 6 green chilles chopped, 3/4 teaspoon of tamarind paste, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder, a teaspoon of salt along with the peeled and chopped luffa in a pot or pressure cooker.  Pressure cook for 5 minutes. If you are cooking in a regular pot cook until the lentils turn soft.

Once the lentils are cooked add the following seasoning:

Heat some oil in a pot.  You can add about 3 tablespoons of oil.  Once the oil is heated add one tablespoon of mustard seeds, 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, one tablespoon of urad dal or black lentils, 2 to 3 cloves of crushed garlic and a sprig of curry leaves.  After the urad dal starts to brown and the mustard seeds pop add this seasoning to the cooked lentils and the luffa gourd.  Taste to see if you need more salt.  Add more salt if required.  Serve this with brown rice topped with a teaspoon or two of ghee (clarified butter).

Sunday, April 29, 2018


Any South Indian restaurant that serves varieties of dosas would rmost definitely have Uthappam on the menu.  If I have to describe uthappam it is actually similar in appearance to a pancake except that uthappam has a larger diameter.  Also Uthappam is served spicy with onions, chillies and coconut chutney  Yes it is too delicious!! I came up with a foolproof recipe to make Uthappam.  You can halve this recipe if you don't want to be left with too much batter.


Boiled rice - 2 cups
Urad dal (vigna mungo) white lentil - 1 cup
Rice flakes or Poha - 1 cup soaked for 1 hour
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Rice flour - 5 1/2 cups (you may use white or brown rice flour)
Water - as needed
Salt to taste

Onions chopped finely - 1/2 a small onion for each uthappam
Chillies chopped into small pieces - about 1 small chillie per uthappam


The method is really simple.  Soak boiled rice in water along with fenugreek in a container. Also soak the urad dal in another container.  Soak them overnight. The next morning soak a cup of rice flakes or poha for 1 hour.   Blend the  rice, dal along with soaked poha in batches until a smooth paste is formed.  The consistency should be like pancake batter.  Pour the smooth batter into a large container. To this add 5 1/2 cups of rice flour along with water.  Add salt and mix it in with a whisk.  Ferment this batter and then the batter is ready to make the Uthappam.

The description of the method below is a detailed one:

Soak Boiled rice along with fenugreek seeds in water.  Just add enough water until the rice is submerged completely.  In a separate container soak Urad dal in enough water. Soak the rice and dal overnight.  The next morning soak the rice flakes or poha for 1 hour.  Blend the rice and fenugreek seeds along with poha until a smooth paste is formed.  Pour this into a large container.  You will need a really large container the size of a medium sized pressure cooker pot.  Blend the urad dal to a  smooth paste.  Add this to the rice batter.  Blend the rice and dal in batches without overloading your blender.

To the batter above add 5 1/2 cups of rice flour. Add the flour in 1/2 cup batches.  Each time after adding 1/2 cup of flour add little water along with it and using a whisk blend the flour into the batter.  The consistency of the batter should be like the ones you make for pancake.  Incorporate all of the rice flour in the same manner.  Add 4 to 6 tsp of salt depending on how much you like.  Using a whisk mix in the salt.

The next step is to ferment the batter.  If you live in a warm climate just leave it on a counter top.  In a few hours the batter should rise up.  I live in Canada which has a colder weather except in the summer of course.  So this is what I do.  I put the container with the batter in a oven.  Turn on the oven to 250 degrees F.  After 4 minutes turn off the oven.  Let it sit in the oven for 17 to 18 hours.  Do not open the oven in between.  After 17 to 18 hours the batter would have risen really well and looks very fluffy.  Now the batter is ready for making Uthappam.

Heat a tawa or a griddle that is well seasoned.  Apply a few drops of oil over it evenly with a paper towel.  Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of batter in the centre of the griddle. Spread this batter in the shape of a circle.  It should have the thickness of 2/16th or 3/16th of an inch.  As soon as you spread the batter.  Add chopped onions and green chillies on the batter.  Lightly press it with a spatula.  When the bottom turns slightly golden brown flip it and cook the onion side for another minute or 2 until the rawness of the batter is gone completely.  Serve this along with coconut chutney or sambar.  I have already posted the recipe for coconut chutney on this blog.  I will later post the sambar recipe.  If you want the sambar recipe immediately I will post it right away...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Favourite Oatmeal Recipe

This is my most favourite recipe for preparing oatmeal.  Although it takes a little longer than plain oatmeal it is spicy, aromatic, delicious and well worth the effort.  This takes about 45 minutes from start to finish.  Here is the recipe...


Oats - 1 1/2 cups (you can dry roast the oats lightly for a minute on a hot griddle)
Carrots - 1 large or medium
Green beans - 9 or 10 chopped into small pieces
Green peas -  a handful
Onion - 1 finely sliced
Green chillies - 3
Ginger - 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 3/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 1/2 tbsp
Cilantro (coriander leaves) - 1 1/2 tbsp

For the seasoning:

Mustard seeds - 1 1/2 tsp
Cloves - 3
Cinnamon stick - 1 1/2  inch
Cardamom - 2
Bayleaf - 2
Cashew nuts - 10 broken into halves or small pieces
Curryleaves - 2 sprigs chopped into small strips.


Heat oil in a wok or a pot. Add mustard seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, Cardamom, bayleaves, cashews and curryleaves.

After the cashews turn slightly brown, add veggies (carrots, onions, beans, green chillies, ginger and peas).  Stir-fry for a minute.  Add 3 1/2 cups of boiling water.  Once the veggies become a little soft add oats and salt.

Cover and cook on low medium heat until all the water has evaporated.  Turn off heat and add turmeric powder and cilantro leaves and mix well.  Let it sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Roasted Veggies & Barley Salad

This is one of the most fun salads to make and delicious to eat.  I give credit to chef Stefano Faita for giving us this recipe. I jump straight to the method. I have given the ingredients' list at the bottom of this page.  There are 4 steps to making this lovely salad...


  1. Bring 2 cups of water or stock to a boil and add 3/4 cup of Barley.  Lower the heat and let it simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Close the pot with a lid and let it sit.
  2. While the barley is simmering combine in a large bowl carrots, radishes, shallots, maple syrup, thyme, Cumin seeds, salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss and spread over a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, remove from oven turn the veggies and bake it again for about 10 to 15 minutes until the veggies are tender.  
  3. While the veggies are being roasted in the oven make this vinaigrette in a small bowl. Combine orange juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix well.  Toast handful of walnuts.
  4. In a large bowl put 4 cups of greens (you can use arugula, spinach or any mixed greens).  Add cooked barley, roasted veggies, vinaigrette, walnuts, handful of dried cranberries parseley. Toss the mixture until well combined.  Now the salad is ready to serve.
Ingredients list:

2 cups water or stock
3/4 cup Barley

Carrots - a bunch or 4 large carrots  chopped half length wise and then chopped into half. The pieces should be about 4 to 5 inches long.
Shallots - 6 small or 2 medium onions chopped to the size of small shallots.
Radishes - 9 [1/2 to 1inch in diametre (small round shaped cherry Belle radishes)]
Maple syrup- 1 tbsp
Thyme - 4 sprigs (add just the leaves discarding the stem)
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Pepper - to taste
Olive oil - 2 to 3 tbsp

Orange juice - 1/4 cup
Vinegar - 1/4 cup
Mustard - 1 tsp
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive oil 1/4 cup

Walnuts -  a handful toasted
Dried cranberries - a handful
Parseley - 1/4 cup chopped
Greens (Arugula, spinach or any mixed greens) - 4 cups 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Warm & Spicy Ginger Tea

I learnt to make this soothing ginger tea from chef Shahir Masood who hosts a show on CBC.  It turned out so good I had to share the recipe...This recipe makes sufficient quantity for 3.

Bring to boil 900ml  of water.

Add 1/2 cup of chopped ginger,

Add 9 tsp (3 tbsp) of honey (1tsp equals 5ml).

Add juice from about 1/2 a lemon, (about a tbsp which equals 3 tsp).

Add a pinch of cayenne

let it boil covered on medium low heat for about 10 minutes.
Pour the hot liquid through a filter into 3 large sized mugs.

Garnish with a slice of lemon and enjoy this warm and spicy ginger tea.

Note: I use the left over boiled ginger pieces for my morning smoothies or other dishes.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Vegetable Lentil Soup

I found a very good recipe for vegetable lentil soup at I made a minor tweak by adding crushed chili peppers and adding pigeon peas for brown lentils. If you don't have vegetable broth handy just add boiling water. This is one of my most favourite soup and so easy to make...

Yield: About 6 servings


2 to 3 Tbsp Coconut oil
Crushed chili peppers (according to your taste)
1 1/2 cups diced carrots (3 medium)
1 1/2 cups diced onions (1 medium or 4 small onions)
1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
4 (14.5 oz - almost 2 cups) cans vegetable broth or boiling water
2 (14.5 oz - almost 2 cups) cans diced tomatoes or 4 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/4 cups dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over or 1 1/4 cups pigeon peas after soaked in water for 10 hours or overnight
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or Crushed chili peppers
1 1/2 cups diced zucchini (1 medium)
2 cups packed chopped kale or spinach
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add crushed chili peppers. Add carrots and onions and saute 2 minutes then add garlic and saute 2 minutes longer. Pour in vegetable broth or boiling water and tomatoes or tomato paste. Add in lentils, basil, oregano, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in zucchini and kale and simmer 10 minutes longer. Stir in lemon juice and add up to 1 cup of water to thin as needed (as the soup rests the lentils soak up more of the broth).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My recipe for a sports drink

It is extremely important to replenish any lost electrolytes after a good workout or a run.  Here is an easy recipe for you to make a sports drink at home.  To a pint (500ml) of cold water add 4 tsp of honey, 1/8th tsp of salt and squeeze 4tsp of lemon juice. Mix well and drink it up.