Category Archives: Healthy Indian Recipes

Tofu Bhurji (Scrambled tofu)

Soya or Soy is originally from East Asia, but has recently gained popularity all over the world ever since it’s health benefits were discovered. Recently though, it has been getting some negative reports,but I personally feel that soy in moderation is fine.
The protein in soy is complete(equal to meat) and hence is better than other beans and legumes. There are many products that are made from soy,like soy flour,roasted soy nuts,soy milk, tofu,soy nuggets,etc.
This recipe is from Ms.Meghana Ghatpande(my friend Rohini’s mom and Meghana aunty to the rest of us).
Tofu is just like paneer to see and taste, but more nutritious and healthier as it’s a plant product and made by coagulating soy milk. This makes a good side dish with phulkas and can also be used as a filling inside a sandwich/wrap. It’s basically a protein packed dish,and the mustard,cumin and coriander make this dish oh-so Indian!!

Tofu Bhurji(Scrambled Tofu): Serves 4
Ingredients for Tofu Bhurji:

  • Firm tofu*: 350 gms, cut into small squares or crumbled
  • Onion: 1 medium, finely sliced
  • Tomato: 2 big,finely chopped
  • Mustard seeds:1/2 teaspoon
  • Jeera/Cumin seeds:1/2 teaspoon
  • Dhaniya/Coriander seeds powder: 1teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder:1/4 teaspoon
  • Green chilli: 1 no. (slit length wise)
  • Oil:1 teaspoon
  • Coriander leaves/Cilantro:a handful(finely chopped for the garnish)
  • Salt:to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick kadai/pan.
  2. Add the mustard and cumin seeds.
  3. When it starts to crackle and pop,add the sliced onions,salt and saute till it becomes translucent.
  4. Add the turmeric, cumin powder,slit green chilli,tomato pieces and saute till it gets cooked.
  5. Add the tofu,stir for a couple of minutes.
  6. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with phulkas.

*While buying the tofu for this dish,pick up the firm tofu if possible(as the silken/soft tofu are more suited for making dips).


Pongal/Khichdi (Indian Lentil and Rice Risotto)

Pongal is both a festival as well as a dish. In Tamil Nadu (a state in South India)it is the “harvest festival” and the dish is made on this day(I suspect, that is why they both share the same name)! There are actually two versions to this dish-the sweet one(sakkarai pongal) and the spicy one(khara pongal).
As a kid I would insist that my mom made only the sweet pongal(blame my sweet tooth for it) and subsequently, I almost forgot what the spicy version tasted like.It was much later when I started my career as a Dietitian,that I was re-introduced to the khara pongal, as it was on the breakfast menu for the patients.Again, having rice for breakfast was new to me and I tried my best to avoid it for a while.Then my seniors decided that they had to make me try it, and one fine morning(I still remember that it was a cold, rainy, Friday morning) I was ordered to taste it.So,there was me,squirming in my seat when the cook brought me a tasting cup of steaming hot pongal and another cup of raitha. Duty called(it was a rule that the dietitians had to taste the food before it could be sent to the patients) and so I took the spoon and dipped it into the cup and took a little(I was after all JUST tasting) and tasted it-and my,my, it was the tastiest pongal I had eaten. I ended up finishing the whole cup(even though I had eaten a substantial breakfast at home) and have ever since become a pongal fan!! After that I would bug mom to make the khara pongal at regular intervals.
The recipe is quite easy and if you want to up the nutritional value,you could add your favourite veggies to this rice+lentil dish.The cook at the hospital even shared a secret(that even my mom didn’t know)-just before serving the dish,mix a cup of hot milk for a nice flavour(and for some added calcium indeed)!! Vegans can omit the milk.
Ingredients for Khara Pongal/Khichdi: (Serves 3)

  • Rice:1/2 cup
  • Split mung dal: 1/2 cup
  • Green chillies: 1 or two(slit lengthwise)
  • Ginger:1″ piece(chopped fine)
  • Turmeric:1/2 teaspoon
  • Milk:1 cup(optional)
  • Mustard seeds:1/2teaspoon
  • Zeera/Cumin seeds:1 teaspoon
  • Urad dal(dehusked and split black matpe bean)-1/2 teaspoon
  • Chana dal/Bengal gram dal: 1 teaspoon
  • Peppercorns: 5-6
  • Curry leaves:3-4
  • Oil: 1 teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Wash the rice and mung dal separately and let it soak in water for 10-15 mins.
  2. In the meanwhile,heat the oil in a pressure cooker, then add the mustard,cumin seeds,urad dal, chana dal, and peppercorns.
  3. When the mustard starts to sputter,add the curry leaves, the chopped ginger and the turmeric.
  4. Stir the ginger till it turns slightly brown,then add the chopped onions and the green chillies. Fry till the onions are translucent.
  5. Drain the water from the mung and rice,add the mung dal and saute for 2-3 mins on medium heat. Then add the rice and again stir for a minute.
  6. Add a little more than 3 cups of water and salt, mix and close the lid of the pressure cooker and let it cook for about 3 whistles. (If you have a rice cooker,then transfer the contents to a rice cooker and cook till the rice and dal are well cooked).
  7. Once it is done,mix well (the dal should be completely mashed).
  8. Just before serving mix the hot milk(optional, and check for salt) and serve piping hot with either raitha or chutney(we ate it with the tomatilla chutney ).

Microwave Cauliflower Sabzi (No Oil)

 The Microwave version of the Gobi/Cauliflower sabzi was inspired by my mother-in-law who uses the microwave daily for her cooking (and not just for reheating stuff). I’ve tried making it with absolutely no oil, but you could add a teaspoon if you want. The resulting “No-oil, Microwave Gobi/Cauliflower ka sabzi” is not only easy to make but also turned out pretty good. You could even try the same recipe with broccoli(or any other vegetable) in lieu of the cauliflower.
Ingredients for Microwave Cauliflower Sabzi:
  • Cauliflower: 1 (washed and cut into tiny florets)
  • Red chilli powder: 1-2tsp (or according to your spice tolerance)
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4th tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Cilantro/Coriander leaves: 3tbsp (finely chopped)
  • Lime juice: 1 tsp 

Cauliflower Sabzi Microwave

Microwave Cauliflower Sabzi (No Oil)

Method:
  1. Put the cauliflower florets in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 5 mins.
  2. Then sprinkle some salt on it and mix-well.
  3. Microwave again for 2-3 mins. Mix well. Repeat this procedure every 2-3 mins, till the cauliflower is almost cooked.Test for salt(add more if needed).
  4. Sprinkle the red chilly powder, turmeric and the cumin powder and mix well. Microwave again (mixing every 2-3 minutes) till the cauliflower gets cooked.
  5. Add the lime juice and mix well.
  6. Garnish with the cilantro leaves.
  7. Serve the “No-oil, Microwave Gobi/Cauliflower ka sabzi” with phulkas or as a side with rice and dal.

Moong Dosa or Pesarattu(Savoury Mung Crepes) with Green Peas chutney

A ‘green’ breakfast! This dish is packed with protein and makes a healthy start to your day.
This is an easy version of the pesarattu(as there is no fermenting required).My mom learnt to make this moong dosa from one of our neighbours and as a kid I was not too fond of this ‘green’ dosa,but of course now it’s a totally different story. There are so many things that we hate as kids,but as grown ups we have a totally different take on it.
The peas chutney recipe is from my mother-in-law.I had never heard of(forget tasting) ‘peas chutney’ until she had made it for breakfast one day. I had to call her up to get this recipe and she was just so thrilled about it.
Moong dosa/Pesarattu (Mung Bean Crepes):
Ingredients for Pesarattu:

  • Whole Mung: 1 cup (soak in water overnight)
  • Green chillies: 1 or 2 nos.
  • Ginger:1/2″ piece
  • Zeera/Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Grind the soaked mung,green chilly, ginger and salt to a fine paste of pancake/dosa consistency(add about a cup of water while grinding)
  2. Add the cumin seeds and mix well.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan,when it’s hot, pour a ladleful of the dosa batter and spread.
  4. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove the cover, check if the dosa has cooked.Then,flip the dosa and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove and serve hot with chutney.

Note:It’s usually served with freshly chopped onions sprinkled on top as a garnish and some upma inside.
Green peas chutney:

Ingredients for Green Peas Chutney:

  • Fresh/frozen green peas: 1 cup
  • Green chillies: 1/2 or 1 no.
  • Salt: to taste
  • Mustard seeds:1/2 teaspoon
  • Zeera/Cumin seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sesame seeds:1/2 teaspoon
  • Lime juice:1 teaspoon
  • Oil:1 teaspoon

Method:

  1. Grind the peas(thaw first if frozen), green chillies and salt to a fine paste. Keep aside in a bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan,add the mustard,cumin and sesame seeds.When the mustard starts to sputter,remove from flame.
  3. Pour this tempering on the chutney and mix,then add the lime juice and mix well.
  4. Serve with dosa’s or as a dip or use as a spread with sandwiches or wraps.

Baingan Bharta/ Brinjal Bharta (Roasted Eggplant Curry)

For the Baingan bharta, the brinjal is usually first roasted whole over a fire (since we have an electric cooktop here, I had to bake it) . Once roasted,the brinjal pulp is then cooked with chopped onions,tomatoes and garnished with chopped cilantro. The Brinjal bharta goes well with ‘phulkas/roti’ or with steamed rice and dal.Here are the ingredients for Brinjal Bharta:

Baingan Bharta Recipe
Ingredients for Baingan Bharta:

  • Eggplant/brinjal: 1 big
  • Onion: 2 medium, finely chopped
  • Tomatoes: 2 small ,diced
  • Green chillies: 1-2,slit lengthwise
  • Ginger: 1 tsp, finely chopped
  • Garlic: 4-5, finely chopped
  • Garam masala: 1tsp
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves: 5 tbsp, finely chopped
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 1tsp

Method:

  1. Spread a little oil over the skin of the eggplant/brinjal and roast over an open flame till it gets cooked(or you could bake it in the oven for 20-30mins).
  2. After it cools a bit, remove the skin (the oil applied on the skin makes it easy) and coarsely chop the eggplant pulp. Keep aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan,then add the chopped ginger and garlic. Let it fry for about a minute,then add the chopped onions and salt.
  4. Saute till the onions become translucent, then add the slit green chillies, diced tomatoes and garam masala powder. Stir for about 5-6 minutes till the tomatoes are cooked.
  5. Add the pulp of the brinjal and cook for another 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Garnish the brinjal bharta with chopped cilantro and serve hot with phulkas.

Fish Cutlets/Fish Patties(Indian Style)

Here’s one more reason to increase your “oily” fish intake-the omega-3-fatty acids found in fish have shown to halt and slow down the age-related macular degeneration (AMD), in lay-man’s terms: AMD basically is a medical condition which is mostly seen in older adults and results in the loss of vision in the center of the visual field.
The research and findings conducted by Dr Elaine Chong at the University of Melbourne,Australia, involved 90,000 participants and showed that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids could cut the risk of developing AMD by 38%.
Experts suggest eating oily fish like salmons,mackerel,tuna,shellfish and herring about twice a week to get the benefits of omega-3!
Sources:

Now a simple and tasty way of including fish into your diet: fish cakes or “cutlets” as they are called in India. This is my mom’s method of making cutlets.
Mom would first steam mackerel,then take out the bones and mix it with mashed potatoes and coat them in rava/ semolina instead of using bread crumbs. Rava absorbs much less oil and tastes equally nice. I used canned tuna,but it tastes great with just about any fish you fancy.
Ingredients for Fish Cutlets:

  • Tuna: 1 can (5 oz)
  • Potatoes: 1 medium size (boiled)
  • Onions: 1/2 (finely chopped)
  • Cilantro: 2-3 tablespoons (finely chopped)
  • Giner+garlic paste: 1 teaspoon
  • Green chillies: 1-2 (finely chopped)
  • Rava/Semolina: to coat the cutlets
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: for shallow frying

Method:

  1. In a bowl coarsely mash the potatoes.
  2. Drain the water from the tuna and add the tuna,chopped onions,cilantro,chillies,ginger +garlic paste and salt to the mashed potatoes and mix well.
  3. Shape into cutlets and shallow fry till the cutlets turn golden brown.
  4. Serve hot with chutney or tomato sauce.

Here are other Healthy Snack Ideas:

  1. Baked Sweet Potato Fries/snack
  2. Baked Carrot Fries/snack
  3. Fruit Chaat/ Fruit Salsa 
  4. Khaman Dhokla
  5. Handvo 
  6. Crispy Kale Chips

 


Whole wheat dosa with fresh fruit (Whole wheat crepes)

Healthy eating is all about eating in moderation, and what is life without a touch of sweetness? Treat your kids to the occasional desserts, but make it a tad healthier by using fresh and less processed foods. Learn how you can add more fibre to your dosa by using whole wheat flour (regular chapathi/roti atta). Using fresh fruits like strawberries, peaches, blackberries or raspberries instead of jams or preserves also increases it’s nutritional value.

Ingredients for Instant Whole Wheat dosa/ crepes: (Makes approx 10-12)
  • Whole wheat flour (atta)- 1 cup
  • Eggs-3 nos.
  • Milk- 1 cup,
  • Water- 1 cup
  • Honey/ jaggery- 1 tbsp
  • Cardamom- 2-3 (remove the skin)
  • Salt- a pinch
  • Oil- 1 tbsp
Method:
  • Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till you get a pouring consistency.
  • Let it rest for 15-20 mins. In the meanwhile you can make the filling.
Ingredients for filling:
  • Peaches/strawberry/blackberry/blueberry- 500gms
  • Lemon juice- 2tsp
  • Honey- 1-2 tsp
  • Hung curd/Greek Yogurt: 1/2 cup
Method:
  1. Wash the fruit well. If using peaches, remove the skin and then slice into thin slivers. Strawberries need to be hulled and sliced into slivers.
  2. Put the fruit into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1-1.5 mins.
  3. Remove add the lemon juice, honey and mix well. Keep aside.
Making the crepes:
  1. Heat a pan, add a teaspoon of oil and spread it around the pan.
  2. Pour a ladle full of the batter and swirl the pan to spread the batter (do not spread it with the ladle like dosas),
  3. Cover and cook on medium flame for about 2-3 mins till golden brown. Then flip it over to cook on the other side( be careful not to break it since they are very thin).
  4. Cook for another 2 mins, then slide onto a plate.
  5. Spoon out the filling into the centre and cover it with the two ends of the crepe or roll the crepe (whichever is easier).
  6. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and some maple syrup/honey.

 


Turnip leaves Mallung/Mallum (Sri Lankan simple stir-fry with greens)

I love trying out different cuisines and have been lucky to have wonderful neighbours from whom I have learnt different cooking styles. My love for Sri Lankan cuisine started back in the US when we lived in Minnesota for a brief period. There was one Sri Lankan restaurant in the neighbourhood and we loved the fiery food there. Though it is similar to South Indian cuisine(especially Kerala cuisine), they are heavy on the spices and it’s definitely not for those who have a weak stomach.

When we moved to Sydney, I was lucky to have a Sri Lankan neighbour who (once she got to know my love for Sri Lankan food) is always sending over food. This ‘mallung’ or mallum recipe I learnt from her. It’s a quick and easy stir-fry recipe for greens, where you have to finely chop/shred the greens. Since green leafy vegetables tend to reduce in quantity when cooked-don’t be disappointed if you end up with very little mallung.

I try to experiment with different greens and try to buy radish/turnips/beetroot with the leaves. And yes-please don’t throw the leaves of these vegetables as they are edible. Add them to your dals or make this Sri Lankan ‘mallung’ recipe 🙂

Turnip Leaves are a rich source of Vitamins K, A folate and minerals like calcium, copper and also fibre. So STOP throwing away the leaves and use them in your cooking.

Ingredients for Sri Lankan Mallung: Serves 4

  • Green leafy veg: 1 big bunch (kale, turnip greens, moringa leaves, amaranth, lal saag)
  • Red chili flakes: 1 tsp (or green chili paste)
  • Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard leaves: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 3-4 nos.
  • Grated coconut: 1-2 tbsp (fresh or desiccated)
  • Lemon juice: 2tsp
  • Oil: 1 tsp
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Wash the greens and chiffonade (roll the leaves and cut them finely) them.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, add the mustard and cumin seeds.
  3. When it starts to pop, add the curry leaves, turmeric powder and the red chili flakes (or green chili paste)
  4. Then add the greens and stir-fry for 5-6 mins.
  5. Add the salt and the grated coconut and mix well.
  6. Swith off and squeeze a dash of lime/lemon juice.
  7. Serve with rice and dal/sambar.

Note:

  1. Experiment with different greens. Cooking times will differ for different greens: like moringa(drumstick) leaves need more time to cook (and you may have to cover and cook for sometime).
  2. The red chili flakes add a unique taste to the dish, you can chop the dry red chilies and use that or use green chili paste.
  3. Always remember to squeeze some lemon/lime juice before you serve greens as the vitamin C will help in the absorption of the iron found in green leafy vegetables.

Sri Lankan mallung

Sri Lankan Greens Mallung/Mallum Recipe


Chicken Saagwala /Palak (Spinach) Chicken

Palak chicken or Chicken saagwala is a not just a great tasting dish but the addition of greens(spinach) increases the nutrient content of the dish. Palak is loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals and is also:

  • low in calories
  • good source of iron, but to be absorbed by the body you need to team it with a source of vitamin C (like squeezing a dash of lime over the dish, or having a citrus fruit after your meal).

Ingredients for Chicken Saagwala: Serves 4

  • Chicken: 800 gms (with bones or boneless)
  • Palak (spinach): 1 big bunch ( washed, blanched and pureed)
  • Onion: 1 big (cubed)
  • Tomatoes: 3 medium (cubed)
  • Ginger: 1″ (grated)
  • Garlic: 3-4nos.(chopped)
  • Green chili: 1-2 nos. (use more if you want it spicier)
  • Red chili powder: 2 tsp
  • Coriander powder: 1tbsp
  • Cumin powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala: 1 tsp
  • Bay leaf: 1 no.
  • Pepper corns: 3-4nos.
  • Oil: 2tsp
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Heat one teaspoon oil in a kadai ,add the onions and green chillies and stir fry till translucent.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for another minute, then add the tomatoes and stir till the tomatoes are cooked.
  3. Switch off and cool. Once cooled, puree in a blender.
  4. Heat another teaspoon of oil in the kadai, add the cumin seeds, bay leaf and pepper corns.
  5. Add the tomato+onion puree, the spice powders(red chili, coriander, cumin, garam masala) and fry till the raw smell disappears and the oil leaves the sides.
  6. Add salt and the chicken pieces and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the palak puree, mix well and cover and cook on low flame till the chicken is cooked.
  8. Serve hot garnished with rice and dal or roti.

Note: If you want it a little creamier, then mix a tablespoon of whole wheat flour(atta) in 1/2 cup milk and add this mixture after you add the palak puree (step 7), mix well and then cover and cook.

Palak Chicken

Chicken Saagwala /Palak Chicken 

 

 


Paneer Butter Masala (Healthy version)

Love the taste of Butter masala, but dread the loads of butter that goes into it? Fikar not-here is a low-butter version which cuts down the calories of this dish drastically without altering the taste too much (yes-it doesn’t taste like the restaurant version, simply because it’s not dripping with butter).

The trick here is to make the dish with less oil/butter and then add extra butter just before serving.

Panner butter masala-low fat

Paneer Butter Masala (low fat)

Ingredients for Paneer Butter Masala (low-fat): Serves 6

  • Paneer: 500gms (cut into cubes),
  • Tomatoes: 3 medium (cubed)
  • Onion: 1 big (cubed)
  • Ginger: 1″
  • Garlic: 2-3 (chopped)
  • Green chili-1 no. (or as per taste)
  • Red chili powder: 1-2 tsp (add more if you want it spicier)
  • Coriander powder: 1 tbsp,
  • Cumin powder: 1tsp
  • Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Bay leaf: 1 no.
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
  • Milk: 1/2 cup
  • Coriander leaves: 2tbsp (chopped)
  • Oil: 2tsp
  • Butter: 1-2 tsp
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Heat one teaspoon oil in a kadai, add the cubed onions, slit green chili and stir-fry till the onions turn translucent.
  2. Add the grated ginger and the chopped garlic and stir fry for a minute, then add the tomatoes and cook stirring occasionally till the tomatoes are cooked.
  3. Switch off and let it cool. Once cooled, put the contents into a blender and blend till you get a fine puree.
  4. Heat another teaspoon of oil in the kadai, once hot add the cumin seeds (jeera), bay leaf and turmeric powder.
  5. Add the puree, and spice powders (red chili, coriander, cumin, garam masala) and cook on medium flame stirring constantly till the oil leaves the sides.
  6. Lower the flame and pour the milk to the cooked tomato+onion puree stirring constantly till it starts to boil.
  7. Add the salt and the paneer pieces and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  8. While serving, mix the butter and then top with chopped coriander leaves.
  9. Serve hot with roti or rice.