Monday, February 16, 2015

Fruit & Chia Yogurt

Here's another snack or mini meal or even dessert that we love at home..  It packs a good protein punch from the greek yogurt and also has the goodness of Chia seeds & fiber from the fruit added. The topping is optional but it makes for a tasty, crunchy addition and takes the snack to the next level.

Another versatile recipe that you can change and play around with by using different flavored greek yogurt & various fruits such as blueberries, apples etc.


Greek Yogurt (I use the Fage brand) - 6 oz flavored or unflavored
Fruit of choice - Apples, Blueberries, Strawberries etc
Chia seeds - 1 tbsp, soaked in 3 tbsp of water for 10 minutes
Honey or Agave nectar - to sweeten (if desired)

Almonds - 3, chopped
Chocolate chips - 6 or so, chopped
Craisins (Dried cranberries) - 5, chopped

1) If using unflavored yogurt, sweeten with a drizzle of honey or Agave nectar.
2) Stir together the soaked chia seeds, yogurt, fruit and add in the toppings (which lends a crunchy texture).  Enjoy! 

TIP: As a substitute for Greek Yogurt, take plain yogurt and scoop into a strainer lined with a muslin cloth, set over a bowl and into the refrigerator for a few hours. You will be left with a thick creamy yogurt in the strainer that can be used in lieu of store-bought greek yogurt.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Potato Soup & Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Our dinner yesterday was a very satisfying meal and it pleased me no end that the kids couldn't get enough of the soup. Even though it was a tad spicy by their standards they still slurped it up once i topped their bowls with a bit of parmesan cheese and kept asking for more.

I just played off of my Broccoli Soup recipe with some tweaks and it worked  - the potatoes add a smoothness and creaminess that is unbeatabale :) 


Medium Russet Potatoes - 3, washed, peeled and diced into small cubes
Medium Yellow Onions - half, peeled and chopped 
Carrot - 1 medium, chopped into small cubes
Celery Stalks - 2, chopped into small cubes
Broccoli florets - half cup, chopped (I used frozen ones that have been defrosted)
Flour - 1 tbsp
Milk - half cup
Vegetable Broth - 4 cups (I used  4 cups water + 1 tsp better than bouillon)
Salt - 1/4 tsp, or to taste
Red Chilli Flakes - half tsp, or to taste 
Dried Rosemary - 1/4 tsp (optional) 
Cracked black pepper - to taste
Extra Virgin Olive - 1 tbsp

1) Heat oil in a deep pot and toss in onions, carrot, celery & broccoli stalks and saute for a few minutes. 
2) Add in the diced potatoes and continue to stir - add some salt, red chilli flakes and rosemary at this point. 
3) Pour in the broth and allow this to cook on medium for about 10-15 minutes... 
4) Mix the flour with the milk until there are no lumps and add to the soup pot and allow to cook for another 10 minutes or so. 
5) You could puree the whole thing using an immersion blender... but i scoooped out slightly more than half of the soup and blended it (I used a Blendtec - make sure you are careful when blending hot liquids, some blenders need slightly cooled ingredients, else they can splash out) . 
6) Return the blended ingredients back to the soup pot, adjust seasonings (salt and pepper) and stir for a few more minutes.

Tasty, creamy potato soup is ready to serve. For kids, you may want to top with some cheese (parmesan or cheddar would go great).

As for the salad, it's as simple as tossing together some cooked quinoa, black beans and some veggies with a lemon-olive oil dressing.  The sweet mini peppers add a wonder burst of colors... i think some fruit could also be added... avocado or oranges would go great.


Quinoa - 3/4 cup, washed
Water - 1.5 cups
Black beans - 1 can, drained and rinsed completely
Cucumber - half, chopped
Tomatoes - 2/3 cup, chopped (I used grape tomatoes), for normal tomatoes de-seed them.
Sweet Mini Peppers (or any bell peppers of choice) - 4, chopped
Salt - to taste
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice from half of a big lemon
Cracked black pepper - to taste

1) In a small pot add washed quinoa with double the quantity of water, add some salt and allow it to come to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. 
2) Toss the hot quinoa with the black beans (helps cool it down)
3) Meanwhile combine the chopped veggies (and fruit, if using) in a large bowl. 
4) Whisk together Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make dressing. 
5) To the veggies, add in the black beans and quinoa, pour dressing and toss together. Salad is ready to serve. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Thavana Podi (Coconut-Tamarind Powder)

I hadn't heard of Thavana Podi until recently, when my MIL mentioned it... Intrigued, I asked her to describe it and she said that it uses a lot of the same ingredients as Theeyal and was a drier version with similar flavors and is usually paired with curd rice.  When my husband's aunt (G athai) visited us a few weeks later, I asked her to make it so I could observe and also note down the recipe... Apparently this is quite popular in Nagercoil and something that her mother in law would lovingly make for her often since G athai loved this podi.  She said she likes to make it tangy....

She set about roasting the coconut and gathering all the things needed for the podi while I took note of the measurements.... This tastes great with curd rice.. it has a tanginess and spiciness with the coconut flavor shining through. Instead of fresh coconut, we used dessicated coconut since that makes the process go by faster. With thanks to G athai, here's the recipe for Thavana podi...

THAVANA PODI (Coconut Tamarind Powder)

Dessicated Coconut - half cup heaped
Garlic - 8 cloves
Dried Red Chillies - 5-7 (depending on spice level, increase for a spicier version)
Black whole urad dhal - 1 tbsp (you can also use white, split)
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Tamarind - one 3 inch piece (flat), when rolled up it was the size of a small gooseberry
Coconut oil - half tsp

1) Heat coconut oil on medium in a pan and first roast coriander seeds, urad dhal and red chillies for about 4-5 minutes. 
2) Then add in half of the garlic cloves (4), curry leaves and the dried coconut and roast till coconut is dark brown (since we are using dried coconut it's easier to achieve this step quickly).  
3) Add the tamarind piece and stir for a minute more before switching off the stove. Finally add the remaining garlic cloves. 
4)Allow the mixture to cool completely and grind to a powder. Store in a clean, dry jar. 

p.s. Athai explained that the reason for adding some of the garlic cloves without frying is to lend a bit of moisture to the podi that helps the texture of the end product.