No Croutons Required ... The Winner for September

The challenge for September was to come up with a vegetarian soup or salad consisting of ingredients grown in your own garden. As usual, we received lots of tempting entries and this month the most popular dish was Janet's of The Taste Space with this divine Thai Coconut and Corn Stew that I will most definitely be trying soon. Some of my most favorite flavors are combined in this lovely bowl of goodness - just perfect as the cold weather sets in here in Canada. Congratulations to Janet who has submitted many successful entries for NCR. Her blog is a most valuable resource.

Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes will be hosting the October edition of No Croutons Required. The challenge this month is to come up with a vegetarian soup or salad featuring squash.

Healthy Appetizers for House Party Gaming Nights

Well, I am not a gambler (though I know the grim reaper is waiting for us all and life is always a gamble), but casino games, when enjoyed responsibly, can be a good distraction from the daily trials of life.

Here I suggest some non-greasy, healthy and filling bite-sized appetizers and snacks to enjoy with your friends when you get together for a semi-formal poker-themed house party of fun and games. Indeed, any gathering of a night of socializing and enjoying a game of cards can only be enhanced by serving these crowd pleasers.

This first snack is one that is hard to resist. These spicy delights contain my favorite trio of sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and olives. The earthy mushrooms are complimented perfectly by the sharp and tart flavours of the stuffing. If you are a mushroom fan like I am, you will find yourself reaching for more. This recipe can of course be increased in quantity depending on the number of participants attending your event.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Olives

Stuffed Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Olives

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  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 8 - 10 large white mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaaspoon saffron
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup goat cheese
  • Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 minutes. Chop the soaked tomatoes into small bits and set aside.

  • Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth. Carefully scoop out the stems using a knife and small spoon. Chop the stems into very fine bits and set aside.

  • Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the mushroom caps to the pan and saute them for a few minutes, flipping often, until they begin to brown. Remove from pan and again set aside.

  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the olive oil to the pan and then toss in the shallots. Stir and fry for a minute or two, and then add the chopped stems and jalapeño. Saute, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Now add the sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, saffron, cayenne, paprika, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook for another minute and transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Stir in the goat cheese and olives and stir until everything is well combined.

  • Spoon the filling into the mushroom caps.

  • Coat the bottom of a baking pan with a bit of olive oil. Transfer the stuffed mushrooms to the pan. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for roughly 10 minutes. Garnish with a bit of fresh parsley if desired.

My next suggestion for your event are these delightful little airy puffs that can be served with a red pepper dip, such as Spicy Red Pepper Hummus, or just on their own, as I enjoyed them. Again, the recipe can be increased in quantity to suit your needs. These little nibbles are hard to resist.

Smoked Gouda Gougères

Smoked Gouda Gougères

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  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • dash cayenne
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 cups smoked or black pepper Gouda cheese
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat. Immediately add the flour, paprika, cumin, and cayenne, reduce the heat to low and stir until the mixture forms into a smooth ball that separates from the sides of the pan, about 1 minute.

  • Remove the pan from the heat and beat with a wooden spoon for a few minutes.

  • Now add 1 egg and the chopped herbs to the pot. Beat until thoroughly blended and repeat, adding 1 egg at a time. Add the cheese to the pot in small handfuls, stirring in between additions.

  • Drop the mixture in rounded tablespoon portions onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving roughly an inch between each puff.

  • Bake in a preheated 400° oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm.

  • Makes approximately 35 - 40 cheese puffs.

  • For those unfamiliar with the term, gougère are a savory French-style cheese puff that is often made with Gruyère cheese, and sometimes stuffed with other ingredients. Any flavourful cheese can be used. I decided to try the recipe with smoked Gouda, but feel free to substitute Gruyère, aged sharp cheddar, or goat cheese.

Other appetizers and crowd pleasers you are sure to enjoy:
Goat Cheese Olive Balls
Chocolate Nut Butter No Bake Fudge
Cocoa Fruit Treats

On the top of the reading stack: The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

Audio Accompaniment: Trentemoller

Dry-Cooked Mung Beans with Mushrooms

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Indian cooks are in for a treat if you obtain a copy of 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra. Though the book is not strictly vegetarian, you won't be disappointed as there is a wide range of recipes perfectly suited to cooks that wish to avoid meat and fish. A refreshing dish consisting of raw tomatoes, onions and green chilies, serve as a salad or topped with a green chutney and sprinkled with some chat masala. Tangy and spicy and perfect with a bed of buttered rice and some Indian flatbreads.

This is also my submission to My Legume Love Affair, a very popular monthly event started by lovely Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. This month Cathy of What Would Cathy Eat is the host.

Dry-Cooked Mung Beans with MushroomsDry-Cooked Mung Beans with Mushrooms
Recipe by
Adapted from 1,000 Indian Recipes
Cuisine: Indian
Published on September 28, 2011

A spicy, tangy, zesty and earthy dry Indian dal curry with fresh raw tomatoes, onions and green chilies

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  • 1 cup dried whole mung beans
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
  • generous 1/2 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango powder)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 green chilies or jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 6 large white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of chat masala (optional)
  • Rinse the mung beans and soak in several inches of cold water for 4 hours or overnight. Drain and transfer to medium saucepan along with 2 1/2 cups of water, turmeric and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat until the beans are tender and the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil or ghee over medium-high heat in a small frying pan. When hot, add the mushrooms and stir and fry until nicely browned.

  • Stir the amchoor and cilantro or parsley into the beans and transfer to a serving dish. Add the tomato, onion and green chilies or jalapeños, and mix gently with a fork. Stir in the mushrooms.

  • In a small sauce pan, heat the remaining oil or ghee over medium heat and when hot, toss in the cumin seeds. Stir and fry for a few minutes, then toss in the asafoetida, ground coriander, cayenne and paprika. Stir and fry for a minute and pour over the dal dish.

  • Serve hot garnished with a sprinkling of chat masala alongside a plate of hot buttered and peppered white rice.

Makes 4 - 6 servings

More mung bean recipes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Basic Home -Style Chila
Mustard Mung Beans
Mung Bean Paneer
Mung Beans with Mixed Vegetables

On the top of the reading stack: cookbooks

Audio Accompaniment: Steve Roach

Quinoa Loaf

quinoa loaf

I am an ovo-lacto-vegetarian but that does not mean that I don't enjoy a cleansing and balanced vegan meal a few times a week. I recently received a complimentary copy of Ellen Jaffe Jones' Eat Vegan on $4 a Day. As food prices rise, it is the time to get smart and be a budget conscious shopper. Obviously the first step is to avoid processed foods, as well as packaged and canned foods as much as possible. It is also important to eat a variety of legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruit. So many tips for saving money and your health are provided in this cookbook.

Ms. Jones also asks something in return: "Promise me that the next time you see a news story about how people on tight budgets can only afford processed or fast foods, you will contact the station and let them know how wrong they are. Tell them Au Contraire! Let me show you a different way."

I am absolutely smitten with the array of healthy and easy to prepare recipes. Weekly menu plans, breakfasts, soups, salads and dressings, lovely entrees, spreads and sides, and guilt-free desserts and snacks. These innovative recipes from around the globe are such a bargain if you follow these tips: plan your grocery list and use your head, don't go shopping when your belly is growling, check unit prices, buy in bulk but make sure you are getting the best price, stock up on staples that won't spoil when you can find them at a good price, be aware of prominently displayed foods as grocery stores tend to put the most expensive items at eye level and at the front of the store, and buy local if possible or better yet grow your own when the season is right.

The first dish I tried from this cookbook was a Save-Cash Quinoa Loaf. Full of healthy grains, chickpeas and veggies, this hearty loaf is just delicious served with some salsa, hot sauce or ketchup. Ms. Jones tells us that any leftover slices go well in a sandwich or stuffed into pita breads. I found serving a spicy vegetable dish alongside the loaf was especially satisfying.

Read this recipe »

Basic Fresh Salsa

Homemade uncooked salsas can't be beat for fresh and vibrant taste and colour, and they're so simple to whip up that a new batch takes hardly more time than you would spend choosing from an assortment of store-bought varieties. I love to have it on hand for a late-night snack with tortilla chips or to dress up my morning eggs.

The basic ingredients listed below can be pulsed in a small food processor to any desired consistency, or simply chopped finely and mixed by hand for an extra chunky salsa, or finished off with any number of additional ingredients for which I've provided a sample below. If you like an extra kick, add another jalapeño or experiment with hotter peppers like habaneros. You almost can't go wrong playing around with these ideas to make the fresh salsa of your own tastes. I hope you enjoy both the process and the results!

Basic Fresh SalsaBasic Fresh Salsa
Recipe by
Cuisine: Mexican
Published on September 23, 2011

Simple uncooked salsas are unbeatable for fresh and vibrant taste and color

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Basic Ingredients:
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 2 green onions, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • juice of 2 limes
Optional Ingredients:
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup refried beans
  • Pulse the basic ingredients in a small food processor to any desired consistency, or chop finely and mix by hand for a chunkier salsa. Finish off by mixing in any number of additional ingredients.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Other salsas and Mexican dips you may enjoy:
Simple Salsa
Black-Eyed Pea Salsa
Corn and Pinto Bean Dip
Hot Green Chili Sauce

On the top of the reading stack: Eat Vegan on $4 a Day: A Game Plan for the Budget Conscious Cook by Ellen Jaffe Jones

Audio accompaniment: Trentemoller - African People (Jokke Ilsoe Remix)

No Croutons Required - Garden Harvest

The challenge for September was to come to come up with a soup or salad featuring vegetables, herbs and fruit harvested in your garden. The choice was up to the chef. There is always such an abundance of produce in the fall and so many creative ideas to make your tummy happy and nourished. A big thanks to all who cooked up a dish and sent it to us. We received some tempting entries as usual and of course the choice won't be easy, but please do vote for your favorite recipe in the comment section or via email. Please note that my submission is not eligible for voting.

Our first entry is from Michelle of Food, Football and a Baby. The Courgettes in her garden are growing like crazy and even sharing them with the neighbors, she can't keep up with her garden crop. This inspired dish, Cumin Spiced Courgette, is a true delight combined with courgettes, onion, tomato, cumin, freshly cracked ground pepper, ginger, chili flakes, olive oil and fresh coriander. A delicately spiced stir fry and easy to prepare and a perfect side. Michelle also made some preserved pickles for the winter. (Edmonton, AB, Canada)

Next up is Lisa of Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery with this mouthwatering Hidden Zucchini Soup. Strong flavors and lovely contrasting colours, this soup is made up of zucchini, potatoes, garlic, vegetable broth, green onions, fresh mint, cumin and garnished with cooked diced beets after the soup is pureed. Even her three sons who are not fond of zucchini enjoyed the soup. Another perfect way to incorporate this healthy vegetable into your meals. ( Massachusetts, United States)

A good season this year for abundant crops of zucchini, Susan of Holly Grove Kitchen offers up this Courgette and Runner Bean Soup consisting of onion, courgettes, garlic, french and runner beans, cumin, a broth mix of dried pulses including peas, pearl barley, lentils, vegetable broth and curry paste. Blend and serve with garlic ciabatta and you will have a most enjoyable meal. (Shropshire, UK)

My submission this month is a Summer Chickpea Salad. Refreshing and full of flavor, this salad is perfect for warm days and goes well with Jasmine rice. Chickpeas, grape tomatoes, yellow or orange peppers, jalapeño peppers, fresh basil leaves, fresh mint leaves, feta cheese and kalamata olives are dressed with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Certainly a staple in my kitchen when I want a quick but nourishing meal. (London, Ontario, Canada)

C of Cakes, Crumbs and Cooking may have more weeds than produce, but she does have some lovely herbs that are growing well. Rosemary is the star ingredient in this Roast Butternut Squash and Rosemary Soup with Chilli and Cinnamon. A focus on local ingredients, this pureed soup is a treat in a bowl with roasted butternut squash, red onion, rosemary, olive oil, vegetable stock, cinnamon and dried chillies. Served with bread, this is just perfect as the temperature cools down as we approach the fall. (Northwest England, UK)

Mango Cheeks of Allotment 2 Kitchen uses sage from her garden plot and comes up with this warming Lentil and Sage Soup that is easy to prepare, making it a good meal for a busy week. I couldn't resist a bowl of this soup consisting of yellow split peas, vegetable stock, fried onions and garlic, infused with sage and seasoned with salt and pepper. She served her soup with some cute savory "frog" biscuits. (West of Scotland, UK)

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe tells us her garden is a symbol of hope. Following a delightful meal of tacos and rice, the next night she made a flavorful Creamy Cauliflower and Walnut Soup. Red onion, celery, carrot, cauliflower, stock made with fresh herbs from her garden, tofu, nutritional yeast flakes, walnuts, lemon juice from her garden tree, miso and salsa. No croutons were required, but she added some. Other options to consider are golden syrup, black pepper and smoked paprika to serve. I could eat this for lunch right now. (Melbourne, Australia)

Graziana of Erbe in Cucina incorporates some produce from her rooftop garden in this Rice Salad with Fried Vegetables. Carrots, green beans, peas and broccoli are cooked with rice and then seasoned with fried eggplant and zucchini, raw peppers, tomatoes and a few tablespoons of oil. This colorful combination of ingredients would go well with any meal and we all know vegetables are an important component of dinner. (Acireale (CT), Sicily, Italy)

Janet of The Taste Space creates this mouthwatering Thai Coconut and Corn Stew that would grace any table. Fried onion, garlic, fresh ginger, coriander seeds, salt and red pepper flakes are added with lemongrass, corn, veggie stock and coconut milk. The lemongrass is removed, the soup briefly pureed, and then the lemongrass is added again, along with more corn and red bell pepper. Stir in some lime juice and lime zest and garnish with cilantro. I will for sure be making this wholesome soup. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Liz of Suburban Tomato has an abundance of watercress that is threatening to take over her garden and instead of making yet another salad, she decided to come up with this healthy and fresh European Watercress Soup. The goodness of watercress is combined with onion, celery, leeks, potatoes, vegetable stock, cream and seasoned with salt and pepper. A thicker version of this pureed soup we are told would be a fabulous sauce for pumpkin gnocchi or pumpkin ravioli. (Melbourne, Australia)

Valerie of City Life Eats comes up with another lunch box meal that is nourishing and balanced. Here we have a Black Bean and Quinoa Salad. Served as a side, or a main course if you please, this delightful salad is made up of black beans, quinoa, fresh lime juice, scallions and herbs such as cilantro and basil. Gluten-Free, Vegan, Soy-Free, Nut-Free and Oil-Free, this recipe is perfect for those who have dietary restrictions. (Washington, DC, United States)

Our last entry is from Janice of Farmersgirl Kitchen. Fierce winds and non-stop rain, yet her little courgette plants perked up and she made this lovely Courgette Salad with Radish. Thin strips from the courgettes and finely sliced radishes, and dressed with Champagne vinegar, olive oil, honey, Colman's mustard powder and some salt and pepper. Sweet and sour and so tempting. (UK)

Jacqueline will be hosting the October edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the challenge.

Pesto and Egg Potato Salad

Pesto and Egg Potato Salad

I have shelves full of cookbooks, but a special favorite must be Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. A delightful and thoughtful gift from my dear friend Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. Completely vegetarian, these innovative recipes are accompanied by drop-dead gorgeous photos. It is one of those treasures that travels to the kitchen and back to the coffee table for browsing and reading. Stunning photographs, innovative recipes, informative, and a must-have for vegetarian cooks. A pure pleasure to have access to this astounding book.

Read this recipe »

Best-Ever Rum Balls: Flavor Fix Cookie Challenge Entry

I was recently invited to participate by Flavor Fix in a cookie challenge. I don't eat a lot of sweets, but my rum balls are simply divine. I usually make them for a Christmas treat, but they are perfect anytime of year. Anyone who has tried them can't stop eating them until they are stuffed.

Rum Balls

So they were a perfect choice as my entry to the contest, and I'm delighted that Flavor Fix chose it as the 2nd place winner in the contest! Somewhat like truffles, these rum balls are stronger in taste because of the rum. Yum! I suggest you use a nice dark Jamaican rum for this recipe. If you want to include crushed nuts, substitute 1 cup of the wafers for 1 cup of nuts, such as hazelnuts. Use 4 1/2 tablespoons of chocolate chips to equal 1/2 cup of chocolate.


Best-ever Rum BallsBest-ever Rum Balls
Recipe by
Published on September 16, 2011

Dark, rich and sweet with a truffle-like consistency and the wonderful aroma of a good dark rum — these are the best-ever rum balls for a holiday treat

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  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 3 cups vanilla wafers, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup dark rum
  • powdered sugar, rice flour or cocoa for coating
  • In a heavy pot, melt the chocolate on low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the icing sugar and corn syrup. Beat in the vanilla wafers (and nuts if you are using them). Next stir in the salt, vanilla and rum until well combined. Refrigerate the mixture until firm.

  • Roll the mixture into small 1-inch balls. Roll in the coatings of your choice. I like cocoa and rice flour.

Makes about 3 dozen rum balls

Green Pea Curry

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Frozen peas work well in a pinch, but when the fresh peas in their cozy pods are in abundance, it is more than worth the effort of shelling them. Planning a nice meal for my best friend Basil, who looked after my kitty while I was away, I wanted to make something rather special and nourishing. He did get to try my Home -Style Chila (no luck finding anything like it in London Indian restaurants) and then on the weekend I treated him to this wholesome pea curry, along with a mixed dal and a bed of buttered and pepper rice.

Once again, I consulted my copy of Sukham Ayu by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain. I have so many bookmarked recipes to try and as I mentioned in a previous post, my curious mind wants to learn more about vegetarian Ayurvedic cooking and philosophy. The ingredients for the recipes are easily obtained, especially if you have access to an Indian grocery store. This is surely an ideal book for home cooks and those wishing to learn more about the exquisite flavours of Indian cuisine and the healing properties that provide a proper balance for vegetarians.

Green Pea CurryGreen Pea Curry
Recipe by
Adapted from Sukham Ayu: Cooking at Home With Ayurvedic Insights
Cuisine: Indian
Published on September 14, 2011

A fresh and spicy simple green pea curry — great for a light dinner with a plate of hot fresh cooked white rice, or as a side

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  • 1 teaspoon ghee, butter or oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 red chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • 2 cups fresh unshelled green peas, boiled for a few minutes
  • 1 tablespoon ghee, butter or oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh coriander or parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala/li>
  • Heat 1 teaspoon of ghee, butter or oil in a wok or a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, garlic, ginger, red chilies and pumpkin seeds. Sauté for a few minutes and remove from the heat. Remove to a spice or coffee grinder or small food processor, add the coconut and a little water, and grind or blend into a fine paste, adding water if necessary.

  • Meanwhile, boil the peas in a small saucepan of water for a few minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside.

  • In the same wok or pan used for the paste, heat a tablespoon of ghee, butter or oil over medium-low heat. Add the paste to the pan, and stir and fry for a few minutes. Now add the turmeric, coriander, cumin, chili powder and cayenne, and stir and fry for another few minutes.

  • Add the boiled peas to the pan along with the mint leaves, salt and 3/4 - 1 cup of warm water, depending on the desired consistency you wish to achieve. Cover and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh herbs and a sprinkle of garam masala.

  • Remove from heat and serve hot, garnished with fresh coriander or parsley and a sprinkle of garam masala.

Makes 4 - 6 servings
More recipes with peas that you may enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen: Warm Baby Potato and Pea Salad Mung and Azuki Beans with Fresh Peas and Spices Baby Artichokes and Peas Rice with Paneer and Peas On the top of the reading stack: Arguably: Selected Essays by Christopher Hitchens Audio Accompaniment: Vladislav Delay

Quinoa, Tomato and Feta Salad

Quinoa, Tomato and Feta Salad

This is another ideal salad for late summer hot weather and fulfilling enough for a chilly fall meal. Quinoa is as versatile as rice, light and fluffy with a delightful nutty flavour. Quinoa cooks up in 15 minutes and can be eaten just as is with a bit of tamari sauce, or incorporated into a number of dishes like the following salad that takes hardly any time at all to whip up. Served with a legume dish, this satisfying salad proved to be a perfect side. Add some savory biscuits alongside the meal and you are in for a feast that won't leave your belt bursting.

Read this recipe »

Home-Style Chila

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
I was recently treated to a lovely cookbook entitled Sukham Ayu by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain. What a treasure and an abundance of recipes for vegans too. Oil can be used instead of the cow's ghee that is often called for in many of the dishes. Though I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian, I do enjoy the cleansing feeling of a vegan meal from time to time. This cookbook is full of information about vegetarian Ayurvedic recipes, principles and guidelines and is adorned with gorgeous photographs that tantalize your taste buds and illustrate ideal presentations. Ultimately, it is the blend of flavors and seamless offerings that makes this a must for Indian cuisine enthusiasts.

chila pancakes

An excellent resource for those who want to maintain optimal health to suit their body types and conditions and perfectly suited for home cooks. Moderation is the key to health and here you will find healthy sweets, dal soups, vegetable dishes, delicious breads, rice side dishes, nourishing snacks and chutneys, salads and beverages to go along with your meals. The recipes are innovative and creative and easy to prepare. Along with extensive information about an vegetarian Ayurvedic diet, most of the recipes are accompanied by helpful hints and advice, along with suggestions for substitutions and additions. I will have much more to say about this cookbook as I explore it in the next little while. I am looking forward to learning more about Ayurvedic philosophy and this is just the book for curious minds such as mine who care about proper eating and balance.

The first recipe that caught my attention were these Basic Home-Style Chila, which are very similar to dosa popular in South India. Often served for breakfast, but also as a snack and a very good accompaniment to dinner along with some homemade chutney and a salad and a bed of rice. We are also told these pancakes help those recuperating from an illness.

"We gather mere stones and call them gems, whereas the real gems of life are water, food and words of wisdom" — Rig Veda

Thanks so much for the authors for sending me a complimentary copy of this award winning book.

Basic Home -Style ChilaBasic Home -Style Chila
Recipe by
Adapted from Sukham Ayu: Cooking at Home With Ayurvedic Insights
Cuisine: Indian
Published on September 9, 2011

Savory and spicy little mung bean and rice pancakes great for snacking or as a dinner side served with chutney

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  • 1 cup dried split mung beans
  • 2 tablespoons basmati rice
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander or parsley
  • sea salt to taste
  • small handful of dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • dash of cayenne
  • ghee, butter or oil for frying
  • Wash the split mung beans and rice in a strainer. Place in a bowl, cover with several inches of fresh water, and let stand for at least 4 hours at room temperature. Drain and add to a food processor blender along with the ginger, asafoetida, coriander or parsley, salt, fenugreek leaves, chilies and cayenne. Process to a smooth batter, adding a little water or necessary, until the batter is thick but of a pouring consistency.

  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and brush with some ghee, butter or oil. When hot, ladle some of the batter on to the pan, taking care to spread it out as thin as possible with the bottom of the ladle so that it forms a pancake about 6 - 7 inches in diameter.

  • Reduce the heat slightly, drizzle some ghee or oil around the edge of the chila and cook for 2 minutes until it begins to brown. Flip the pancake, cook for another minute or two, and flip again and cook for another minute.

  • Fold and keep warm in a 150° oven while you cook the remaining chila.

Makes 6 pancakes

More Indian pancakes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Savoury Rice and Urad Dal Pancakes
Rice Flour Pancakes
Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crushed Peas and Cilantro

On the top of the reading stack: cookbooks

Audio Accompaniment: Underworld - Luetin