Bombay Halwa

Loved having this brightly colored sweet from Pullareddy Sweets. With uncles and aunts dropping in on special occasions bringing boxes of assorted sweets, and waiting our turn hoping we would still get to this sweet...

(Makes 16 pieces)
Fine sooji: 1 cup (Upma rava)
Sugar: 1 cup
Ghee: 1 cup
Almonds: 1 cup (blanched and chopped, qty can be reduced as per taste)
Citric acid powder: 1/4 tsp
Elaichi powder: 1/2 tsp (Cardamom powder)
Orange or Green Color, if desired

Soak the sooji in water for about 90 minutes, cleaning the sooji and replacing the water ad kneading the sooji about 4 to 5 times in between.
Drain as much water as possible.
Blend till the batter resembles dosa batter consistency.
In a thick bottomed saucepan, heat the ghee.
Roast the almonds lightly, and remove from ghee. Their color shouldn't change.
Let the ghee cool down.
Add the sooji batter to the ghee and mix well.
Heat on a low flame till the batter thickens and forms a white lump.
When ghee starts oozing out of the batter, add the sugar.
The batter will soften again. Mix well till the batter thickens into a lump once more.
At this point, add the elaichi powder and the citric acid. Mix well.
Turn off the flame and add the color, if needed. Add the almonds. Mix
Layer on a well greased pan and cut partially while still warm.
Wrap in individual wrappers once the halwa cools down


Chocolate Vegan Brownie (& Fudge)

I am a chocoholic. I keep telling myself I need to join a chocoholics anonymous. Every time I see a new article in the news touting the health benefits of chocolate, I feel justified in continuing with my passion for the cocoa bean in all its shapes and flavors.
Being vegetarian is a challenge when it comes to making cakes and cookies and brownies. I experimented with eggless cake, and it turned out great.. slightly thicker (can I say denser?) than regular cake, but it did the trick. This is a recipe for an eggless chocolate brownie. I tried out different versions, and this was really del-i-cious. Its crisp on the outside and moist and chocolaty inside. If you don't like the outer layer being crisp, reduce the quantity of all purpose flour. To make this a low cal version, I have used olive oil instead of using butter.
To prevent sticking to pan, be sure to grease well, or line with parchment paper.

All purpose flour: 1.25 cups
Olive oil: 1/3 cup
Milk: 1/2 cup (can be substituted by soy or almond milk to make it vegan)
Sugar: 1.66 cups
Unsweetened chocolate: 4 oz (8 pieces of bakers chocolate)
Water: 2 tbsp
Baking soda: 1.5 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Vinegar: 2 tsp
Walnuts: 3/4 cup

Heat oven to 350F.
Add sugar and water in a microwave safe bowl. Add the olive oil or butter and microwave on high for 3 minutes.
Add the chocolate broken to pieces. Mix well to dissolve. If pieces remain, microwave for an additional one minute on high.
To this mix, add milk. Mix well.
Mix all purpose flour (can be substituted by maida) with salt and baking soda.
Add this mix to the chocolate milk mix. Do not over-mix from this stage, as it makes the brownies hard.
Add the vinegar mix. The mix has to be taken to the oven as soon as possible after this step, as the soda and vinegar start acting together as soon as they come into contact.
Add the chopped walnuts.
Transfer contents to a greased 9 x 9 inch oven safe bowl.
Bake for 17 to 18 minutes in the middle rack of the oven.
Let cool for a couple of minutes and cut into small serving portions.

This makes 16 potions except for people like me who only succeed in making 4 potions of the whole thing. A cool idea if you are expecting fewer friends is to make individual serving bowls and bake them as such, and top them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and maybe a sprig of mint and half a strawberry if you are into garnishing.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving (1/16 of recipe or 42 gms)

Calories: 200
Calories from fat: 142
Total fat: 16 gms (25% of DV)
Saturated fat: 4 gms (20% of DV)
Monounsaturated fats: 6 gms
Polyunsaturated fats: 5.7 gms
Trans fats: 0 gms
Cholesterol: 0 mg (0% of DV)
Sodium: 5 mg (0% of DV)
Carbohydrate: 13 gms (4% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 2 gms (7% 0f DV)
Sugars: 1 gm
Proteins: 3 gms

Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 8%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of caloric information:
Carbohydrates: 25% Fats: 71% Proteins: 4%

This is a good source of manganese, containing 0.6mg of Mn, which is 32% of DV

Chocolate Fudge:

This is an adaptation of the brownie which is more decadent, more sinful and oozes fudgy chocolate from within. If you prefer your chocolate that way, follow this method to the "t", and believe me, you wont repent (well, maybe you will, but only because you wont be able to stop with just one serving!!!!)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a oven safe 9 x 9 inch bowl, add 1.66 cups sugar and 2 tbsp water. Add 1/2 cup oil and mix well. Microwave for 3 minutes.
  3. Mix well. Add 4 oz of unsweetened chocolate. Microwave for another minute. Mix well.
  4. Add 3/4 cup of milk. Mix well to make sure the sugar is well incorporated. Microwave for another minute.
  5. Add 1/4 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking soda and 1.2 cups of all purpose flour. Do not over mix at this stage. Another important point to remember is to add all the flour in one (or maybe two) moves. This prevents you from mixing the flour over and over again. If you have small flour bubbles here and there, it doesn't really matter.
  6. Add one cup of chopped walnuts. Mix.
  7. Add 2 tsp vinegar. Mix well and move to oven as soon as possible after this stage.
  8. Bake at 350F for 18 minutes.

Moong Daal

Moong daal are husked split mung beans. They look flat, narrow and are yellow in color. I have noticed that people unfamiliar with lentils sometimes confuse this dal with toor dal. Toor dal is a rounder dal.
I usually try to use as many lentils as possible in my cooking. Sticking to a single variety of daal may result in a deficiency of isolated amino acids despite consumption of a protein rich diet. I remember one of my acquaintances eating moong daal and calling it a "saathvik" experience. I agree. This basic recipe makes me go back in time. It's simple, unpretentious and wholesome. You can completely eliminate using any form of oil in this recipe, and the taste is not affected. This lentil is also easy to digest.

(Makes 6 servings)
Moong daal: 1.5 cups
Water: 5 cups
Garlic cloves: 5
Green Chilies: 3 (add more if you like it hot!)
Fenugreek seeds: 1 tbsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Dhania powder: 1 tsp (coriander powder)
Garam masala: 1/4 tsp (curry powder)
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Salt and Chili powder: to taste

In a large saucepan (This is important for this recipe. Using a small saucepan means you have to wait by the stove and make sure the daal does not boil over) combine all ingredients except salt and chili powder.
Cover and let simmer on low flame for 15 to 20 minutes mixing occasionally.
Once the dal is cooked and appears half mushy, add salt and chili powder.


  • Add seasoning (tadka, popu) to this recipe by heating oil in a small saucepan and adding
    1 tsp each of chana daal, ural daal; 1/2 tsps of mustard seeds (awalu, rai), cumin seeds (jillakarra, zeera), a sprig of curry leaves; a pinch of asafoetida (hing, vaamu) and 3 dried red chilies. Alternately make the seasoning in the microwave by following this procedure.
  • Add sauteed onions and seasoning to this recipe
  • Add tomaotes to the recipe. (In the first step)
  • Use this recipe to make daal for sambaar instead of using toor daal (let daal cook more if usin for this purpose)
  • Add chopped spinach to this recipe. (First step)
  • This recipe can be diluted with another cup of water and be eaten as warm lentil soup.
Nutritional Information:
(Per serving: 1/6 of recipe or 62 gms):
Calories: 66
Calories from fat: 3
Total fat: 0 gms (1% of DV)
Saturated fat: 0 gms (0% of DV)
Trans fat: 0 gms
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 122 mg (5% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 12 gms (4% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 4 gms (18% of DV)
Sugars: 1 gm
Proteins: 4 gms

Vitamin A: 2%
Vitamin C: 33%
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 8%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual daily requirements.

Breakdown of clorific information:
Carbohydrates: 74% Fats: 4% Proteins: 22%


The Wonder Fruit Avocado

Many people are prejudiced about the avocado. I'll be perfectly honest, I was too. Looked at the fat content in the fruit, and went! Nope! Then, as I read more about the type of fat in avocado, I realized the fat was actually healthy fat. Avocado is the only fruit which has monounsaturated fat. Why is this good? This monounsaturated fat provides the fat with the medium for the absorption and transport of fat soluble substances like alpha and beta carotenes and lutein. One medium avocado weighs about 5 oz and has 55 calories. Another interesting fact about avocados is that it is rich in many phytonutrients such as glutathione, beta-sitosterol and lutein. Incorporation of phytonutrients in our diet is important as they are considered to be an important factor in the prevention of chronic diseases.

Something that really caught my attention was the fact that avocados are richer in potassium than bananas. Why is that important? Potassium is a mineral required in small amounts by the human body for proper functioning. Normal daily requirement of potassium is 4.7 gms. Consumption of adequate potassium balances the effects of sodium, and helps reduce incidence of kidney stones and bone loss. Studies have shown that an increase in potassium and a decrease in sodium plays an effective role in the lowering of blood pressure in hypertensive patients. However, consumption of potassium supplements is not recommended. Instead fresh food rich in potassium should be incorporated into every day meals. Athletes also experience a deficiency of this mineral after rigorous exercise. Other reasons which may lead to a deficiency of potassium are severe diarrhoea, uncontrolled diabetes, low calorie diets (with intake of less than 800 calories er day), and chronic alcoholism. Deficiency of this vital mineral causes muscle cramps and heart irregularities. It is very easy to incorporate potassium in our diet. One of the easiest way was said to be the consumption of bananas or a cup of orange juice or a potato. A lot of us think of sports drinks as the ideal way to replace minerals lost during exercise. Though most drinks do replace many vitamins and minerals, most don't replace potassium. There has also been some speculation that potassium deficiency could be an important causative factor, or a factor worsening rheumatoid arthritis.
Some good sources of Potassium:

  • Milk, yogurt
  • spinach, parsnip, broccoli, Swiss chard, winter squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes
  • dates, bananas, mangoes, grapefruit, orange juice, plantains, raisins, prunes, cantaloupes, dried apricots
  • dried beans, peas, lentils
Coming back to Avocados, I wanted to share some very interesting recipes that I found with avocado as the main ingredient.

Chilled Avocado Soup:

(Makes four servings)
Avocado: 2 ripe, peeled, pitted
Vegetable broth: 1.5 cups (can be substituted with water)
Serrano chilies: 3
Low fat milk: 1/2 cup
Lime juice: 1 tbsp
Fresh Ground Pepper: as per taste
Cilantro: for garnish

Blend avocado, broth, chilies, milk, salt and lime juice till smooth and creamy.
Chill the soup for 2 hours.
Serve garnished with fresh ground pepper and cilantro.
Use within 2 days.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving of 1/4 of recipe or 142 gms
Calories: 176
Calories from fat: 126
Total fat: 15 gms (23% of DV)
Saturated fat: 2 gms (12% of DV)
Monounsaturated fat: 5 gms
Polyunsaturated fat: 1 gm
Monounsaturated fat: 10 gms
Polyunsaturated fat: 2 gms
Cholesterol: 2 mg (1% of DV)
Sodium: 23 mg (1% of DV)
Potassium: 597 mg
Carbohydrate: 11 gms (4% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 7 gms (28% of DV)
Sugars: 3 gms
Protein: 3 gms

Vitamin A: 5% of DV
Vitamin C: 29% of DV
Calcium: 5% of DV
Iron: 3% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Values may change based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of calorific values:
Carbohydrates:21% Fats:72% Proteins:7%

Avocado Chile Salsa:

Can be served with any grilled seafood or poultry.
Makes 4 servings:
Avocado: 1 ripe, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
Tomatoes: 2, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Red onion: 1 cup, chopped finely
Jalapeno pepper: 1, chopped finely
Cilantro: 1/2 cup, minced
Lime juice: from one lemon
Kosher salt: 1/2 tsp

Combine all the ingredients in a large non-reactive bowl, like glass, steel or ceramic.
Mix gently with a spoon. Store covered, refrigerated for upto 2 days.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving: 1/4th of recipe, 170 gms
Calories: 113
Calories from fat: 63
Total fat: 8 gms (12% of DV)
Saturated fat: 1 gm (6% of DV)
Trans fat: 0 mg (0% of DV)
Cholesterol: 0 mg (0% of DV)
Sodium: 11 mg (0% of DV)
Potassium: 509 mg (15% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 12 gms (4% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 5 gms (20% of DV)
Sugars: 4 gms
Proteins: 2 gms

Vitamin A: 15% of DV
Vitamin C: 39% of DV
Calcium: 2% of DV
Iron: 3% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of caloric information:
Carbohydrates: 39% Fats:56% Proteins:5%

Recipes for Avocado soup and Avocado salsa are modifications of recipes by Steve Petusevsky

Sprouts and Greens Wrap

Downtown Mountain View has this amazing Mediterranean place called "Gyros House". The food there with all the spice and yogurt dips is simply out of the world! I decided to experiment with an Indian version of the falaffel (felafel) minus the fried vegetable patty (to make it low fat). The good in this recipe: I used sprouted whole wheat tortillas. These can be substituted with whole wheat chapathis. Also the spread I used, roasted red pepper spread is easily available in Trader Joe's. This can easily be substituted by red pepper chutney. Feta cheese can also be substituted by a cheese of choice. I personally like the soft paneer-like texture of feta and its delicate taste.

The traditional version of the falaffel uses tahini or sesame seed sauce and vegetable patties in addition to the below mentioned vegetables. You can also add a few pieces of pickled jalapenos for tangy spicy bites. For people counting fat intake, both total fat and saturated fat can be reduced by reducing the cheese content in the wrap. Other vegetables that can be used are olives and cucumbers. Avocado spread or guacamole makes a delicious change from red pepper spread if you want to add variety to your wraps.

(For 2 servings)
Whole wheat tortilla: 2
Roasted Red Pepper Spread: 4 tbsp
Yogurt: 1/4 cup
Green chili sauce: 2 tbsp
Salad greens: 2 cups
Mung sprouts: 1/2 cup
Chopped peppers: 1/2 cup
Red onions: 1/4 cup
Feta Cheese: 1/4 cup
Tomatoes: 2 (chopped)

To a mixing bowl, add all the vegetables.
Add the red pepper spread, green chili spread, yogurt, salt and a dash of freshly ground pepper. Keep aside.
Heat the tortilla for a few seconds. If you prefer softer tortilla's, eliminate this step.
Layer out the vegetables in the center or slightly to the left of the tortilla.
Top with crumbled feta cheese. Wrap.
Serve with yogurt dip.

Yogurt dip:
To 2 tbsp yogurt, add 2 tsp spread, salt and pepper.

Wrapping Technique:
Fold lower border first, followed by the left and finally the right end. Leave the top open.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving (1/2 of recipe) 350 gms
Calories: 434
Calories from fat: 176
Total fat: 19.5 gms (30% of DV)
Saturated fat: 7 gms (36% of DV)
Trans fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 37mg (12% of DV)
Sodium: 974 mg (41% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 49 gms (16% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 11 gms (35% of DV)
Sugars: 13 gms
Protein: 17 gms

Vitamin A: 178%
Vitamin B: 364%
Calcium: 37%
Iron: 16%

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Daily values may vary based on individual calorie needs.

Breakdown of caloric information:
Carbohydrates: 57%, Fats: 23%, Proteins: 20%


Mung Sprouts : Information and Home Sprouting

Mung sprouts or sprouted whole pesarapappu are a tasty alternative to mid-meal snacks. They also make healthy salad/ breakfast options. When compared to dried legumes, sprouts are more nutritious and more digestable being richer in minerals and vitamins and lower in carbohydrates and calories. Coming to mung (moong) in particular, the sprouted versions are considered to be 8.3 times more nutritious than the dried bean. The total carbohydrate content in sprouts decreases by an average of 15% where as the protein content increases by as much as 30%. There is also a significant increase in the amounts of calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorous, sodium and Vitamins B1, B2, B3, C.

Sprouts are also easier to digest than dried beans. This is because the food available to the seed is broken down to easily digestable forms for the seedling to grow. In other words, complex fats and carbohydrates are broken down to simpler, easy to digest forms. Another significant advantage towards consumption of sprouts is the significant elimination of objectionalble gas forming properties of daals (lentils). Gas formation is mostly attributed to the presence of oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are reduced by 90% in sprouts.

Making Sprouts at Home:
Sprouting is an easy process. I personally do not like store bought sprouts for the following reasons:

  • I dont get to choose the texture of the sprouts
  • They spoil much faster

Step 1: Take a large mixing bowl and soak whole mung beans in water for 8 to 12 hours.
Step 2: Drain the water completely, manually or by placing in a colander.
Step 3: Line a bowl or colander with a damp towel. Place soaked mung. Cover with another damp towel and place in a cool dark place (like the interior of an unplugged oven or microwave) for 8 to 12 hours. This produces baby sprouts.
If you like softer sprouts, continue to step 4.
Step 4: Rinse sprouts with water and drain. Place in bowl lined with damp towel. Cover with another damp towel and place in a cool dark place for another 8 to 12 hours.
If you like larger sprouts, continue to step 5.
Step 5: Rinse sprouts with water and drain. Place in bowl lined with damp towel and cover with another damp towel. Place in a cool dark place for another 8 to 12 hours.

It is best to use cotton or linen towels for sprouting.

Nutritional Information:
1 cup of raw sprouts: (From 1/4 cup dry mung beans)
Calories: 31
Calories from fat: 2
Total fat: 0 mg (0% of DV)
Satuarated fat: 0 mg (0% of DV)
Trans fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 6 mg (0% of DV)
Carbohydrate: 6 gms (2% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 2 gms (7% of DV)
Sugars: 4 gms
Protein: 3 gms

Vitamin A: 0% of DV
Vitamin C: 23% of DV
Calcium: 1% of DV
Iron: 5% of DV

The above information is based on a 2000 calorie diet. Percentage of Daily values may change with individual dietary requirements.

Breakdown of Caloric Values:
Carbohydrates: 70% Fats: 5% Proteins: 25%


Indian Risotto

Risotto is a traditonal Italian dish made with certain varieties of rice like arborio or carnaroli or vialone nano. The traditional version of this dish is made with red wine as one of the ingredients. This version is for people like me who dont have wine or italian rice in their kitchen. For a more conventional/italian recipes of risotto click here

(makes 4 servings)
Medium grained rice: 1.5 cups
Water: 5 cups
Mixed vegetable soup powder: 3 tbsp (heaped)
Onion: 1/2
Beans: 5 (cut into 1 inch pieces)
Peas: 2 tbsp
Sprouts: 1 tbsp (optional)
Salt: approx 1.5 tsp
Freshly ground pepper: to taste
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

Wash the medium grained rice and soak in water for 30 mins.
To a large saucepan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and and cumin seeds. Saute.
Add the chopped onions. Saute till golden.
Add the vegetables and cook for a minute.
Add the rice and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the water and soup powder.
Add salt and pepper and let cook uncovered till rice is almost done.
Then turn off the flame and let the rice absorb all the liquid.
Serve hot topped with freshly ground black pepper.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving:
Serving size 1/4th of recipe (168 gms)
Calories: 326
Calories from fat: 23
Total fat: 3 gms (4% of DV)
Saturated fat: 0 gms
Trans fat: 0 gms
Cholesterol: 0 gms (0% of DV)
Sodium: 170mg (7% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 67 gms (22% of DV)
Dietary fiber: 2 gms (10% of DV)
Sugars: 2 gms
Proteins: 7 gms

Vitamin A: 7% of DV
Vitamin C: 27% of DV
Calcium: 3% of DV
Iron: 9% of DV

% of Daily value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. The values may
change depending on individual calorie needs.

The above meal contains 85% carbohydrate, 7% fats and 8% proteins.

The Colors of Health

The Colors of Health