Friday, September 23, 2016

Indian recipes with quinoa : quinoa salad with potato and spring onion

How our favourite potato and spring onion combination will pair with quinoa? I was a bit concerned when I wanted to use the first batch of spring onions I got this season with quinoa. I haven't been cooking myself these days as my fingers are still painful with stiff joints due to a recent Chikungunya bout, so the recipe had to be made simpler for the cook who knows only Indian cooking.

And she did a good job with this potato, spring onion and quinoa salad, though I had to monitor it closely for the first time.

Indian style quinoa salad with potatoes and spring onion

Cooking with quinoa everyday in an Indian kitchen can be tricky as it is a fairly new ingredient for India. Most people I see replace the everyday rice with quinoa or make khichdi with it but I wouldn't like to disturb my comfort meals of rice and lentils, dal chawal as we call it.

The best way to absorb quinoa into any cuisine is to create recipes that have a signature element of the cuisine, so it retains the everyday appeal and yet doesn't step over the comfort foods one has identified with for generations. And since quinoa is almost bland tasting grain and takes any flavours easily, it gets easier to play with the flavours we want it to soak into.

Salads have been my preferred choices for quinoa, something that keeps the grain's individuality and yet flavours it in my favourite ways. This carrot walnut raisins and quinoa salad has been a regular and another with roasted beets and pumpkin is yet to be shared. But we need variety, we have been eating quinoa almost 5 days a week recently, could easily get bored if it was the same everyday.

Moreover, I need recipes that the cook can understand and execute the way I want it. Some of these Indian subzi inspired quinoa recipes are handy these days.

(2 servings)
1/2 cup cooked quinoa (see how to cook quinoa)
3/4 cup small diced potatoes (with or without skin, I get it peeled in this season)
1 cup chopped spring onions bulbs and leaves kept separate
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil or ghee (both taste good)
1/4 tsp minced garlic
dash of lime juice (optional, use after balancing the seasoning)

Indian style quinoa salad with potatoes and spring onion


Heat the oil or ghee and tip in the potatoes gently. Toss and mix salt. Cover and let it cook for 6-8 minutes undisturbed on very low heat.

Add the chopped bulb of the spring onion, toss and mix. Cook for a couple of minutes or till the potatoes get done.

Add the green parts of the spring onion, black pepper powder and stir to mix. Take off the heat and mix the cooked quinoa. Adjust seasoning and add lime juice if required, note that the taste of spring onion shouldn't get  masked.

Serve warm or at room temperature. We normally have some hard boiled eggs or egg scramble on the side with this. Quite filling and delicious, this kind of meal suits when you don't want snacking in between meals.

Such salads are lunch box staple now as Arvind prefers light meals. I pack the half for him and keep the other half on the dining table, to be eaten without reheating. It gives me an idea how it tastes after a few hours. Trust me it is one of the best one pot meals suitable for lunch box that I have tried.

Indian style quinoa salad with potatoes and spring onion

I got this made with paneer as well. Just replace half of the potatoes with paneer and add the chopped bits of paneer along with spring onion greens. You might feel like adding some boiled and shredded chicken too, it can be adapted to taste really well.

See how we have it with hard boiled eggs too. Adding turmeric to everything these days as it is anti inflammatory, hence the light yellow in this plate of Indian style quinoa salad.

Indian style quinoa salad with potatoes and spring onion

And now that the cook has got the hang of this method of making quinoa salad, I told her to make alu matar wala (with potatoes and peas) quinoa salad. This was made in mustard oil with a cumin and dry red chilli tempering. Chopped potatoes and some chopped red onions were added along with green peas. Some salt and turmeric powder was mixed in and everything was cooked together, covered on low heat for about 10 minutes before being mixed with cooked quinoa.

Indian style quinoa salad with potatoes and peas

It is this easy to incorporate our everyday comforting flavors into quinoa salads. These recipes make it suitable for lunch boxes too so I am going to make use of such combinations more and more.

Try these Indian recipes of quinoa salads and let me know if you liked.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

3 rasam recipes for healing | recovering from Chikunguniya slowly

Rasam is a south Indian soup that can be made with vegetables or lentils. Different regions have different versions of rasam and each one is as delicious. The spices, herbs and souring agents used for making rasam are supposed to be healing and it really works wonders during a flu or for people recovering from sickness. The recipes can be modified a bit to suit the specific requirement, like one would add a little more peppercorns or long pepper when recovering from fever. 

amla ginger rasam

 I had a horrible episode of Chikunguniya and I was not alone in this agony. Arvind also got the bug and we both got it from my brother who was staying with us during his sickness. That makes 3 of us in a family and there were (and there are) many more people in Delhi suffering from Chikunguniya right now. It is not a fatal illness but it is so painful you would wish it goes away from the world forever. Even after three weeks my joints are stiff and painful and I haven't been able to resume full fledged work routine.

I had to hire a cook immediately and only after about 2 weeks of being totally bedridden, I started making some herb teas and rasam for ourselves as the taste buds had gone numb. I devised new easier ways to make my rasam and adapted the recipe slightly to suit our needs. Both of us needed to ease out the pain and stiffness in the joints and to strengthen the body too.

Sharing the Amla Ginger rasam, Pineapple rasam and Beetroot rasam here and each recipe is suited for convalescing.

Recipe of Amla Ginger rasam

(4-6 servings)

6 amlas (Indian gooseberries)
2 inch piece of fresh ginger

*tempering ingredients

to make a coarse paste 
3 green chillies (or to taste)
8 springs of curry leaves
1 tbsp whole peppercorns (use a mix of peppercorns and long pepper for better results)
1 tbsp cumin seeds

for tempering
pinch of hing (asafoetida)
1 tsp turmeric powder (added for healing purpose)
salt to taste
2 tsp ghee 


Pressure cook the amlas and roughly chopped ginger along with salt and 2 cups of water. Let it cool before proceeding.

Separate the boiled amla and ginger from the stock, remove the seeds of amla, reserve the stock for later use.

Now make a coarse paste of green chillies, curry leaves, peppercorns and cumin seeds without adding any water. 

Heat ghee in a pan, add the hing and then the coarse paste of curry leaves etc. Lower the flame and add turmeric powder and saute the mix till it gets aromatic. There will be very little ghee but keeping the heat low will help to make this tempering mix fragrant. This tempering was almost the same in all the rasam recipes I tried in the last week.

Make a paste of the boiled amla and ginger in the same blender jar and pour it into the pan as soon as the tempering mix gets aromatic.

Add the amla ginger stock and 2-3 cups more water. Let the rasam simmer for at least 15 minutes. Try and not let it boil as the aromatics escape this fragrant rasam when it starts boiling. You will notice some froth while it simmers and that is a good sign.

You can pour the rasam directly in serving bowls or cups but I preferred straining it using a tea strainer as I wanted a clear soup that feels pleasant to drink.

amla ginger rasam

This amla ginger rasam is hot sour and spicy and quite aromatic with the hing, cumin and curry leaves. It has been the most frequent recipe in my kitchen for the last couple of weeks.

Recipe of Beetroot rasam 

(4-6 servings)

2 large beetroots (about 400 gm) peeled and grated
1 tbsp grated ginger 
juice of 2 lemons or tamarind extract or kokum extract as per taste (all three tasted good)

Tempering ingredients as above*


Pressure cook the grated beets with 3 cups of water and salt. Strain and use the stock. You can blend the beets to make the rasam but I preferred not to fill myself with it as I needed to eat some protein rich foods too.

I recommend straining the stock if you are making the rasam for healing as the nutrients are absorbed quickly this way

Make the tempering just like the amla ginger rasam and pour the beetroot stock before simmering the rasam for at least 15 minutes, add a little more water if required. Add the souring agent of your choice and balance the seasoning.

beetroot rasam

Stain and serve hot.

The bright colour of beetroots will be masked by the turmeric and curry leaves but it is for the good. More antioxidants and more anti inflammatory agents in this rasam make it absolutely fit for convalescing or even for those who need to heal the body after heavy workouts and sports practice.

Pineapple rasam recipe 

(4-6 servings)

4-5 slices of ripe pineapple
I used pineapple from my freezer that I keep for making juice blends, to make it even short I sometimes use pineapple juice from a carton.
1 tbsp grated ginger
juice of one lime

Tempering ingredients as above* 
Replace the green chillies with dry red chillies for pineapple rasam, and do not blend them with the other ingredients.


Make a paste of the chopped ripe pineapple and grated ginger.

Prepare the tempering blend without the chillies and keep aside.

Heat ghee, add the hing and broken red chillies and let them get aromatic before adding the coarse paste and turmeric etc. Once all of this is cooked and fragrant add 4 cups of water and the pineapple paste.

Add salt, adjust seasoning and simmer for 15 minutes, add lime juice as required.

Initially I had this without straining but later I started straining this pineapple rasam too as it felt better that way.

pineapple rasam

This is a hot and sweet type of rasam that most people tend to like. I have made pineapple rasam earlier too and using the pineapple juice from carton comes handy when you have to make it for a crowd.

Hoping these three recipes of rasam will help anyone who is recovering from sickness. These helped me revive my taste buds as well.

Rasam can be made using lentils too and those are a little thicker, to be consumed like a soup or with some rice in it. The vegetable based rasam can be made similarly using other vegetables like tomatoes, drumsticks or even coriander roots and stems. The tempering can always be adapted to personal choice. The rasam powders available in the market are great too but I had none this time.

What is your favourite rasam?