Tag Archives: Garlic

Cutlets Meet Vada Pav Sliders (Indian Potato Burgers)



There is a delicious Indian treat called “Vada Pav” that is a round deep-fried potato ball served on a bun with garlic chutney. It is so good to eat with the crispy chickpea flour coating outside and the soft flavorful potatoes inside. I decided to try a  healthy twist on this dish, though I would never turn down the original! I’m not trying to improve it but rather make it a bit more healthy for everyday eating. Not that I’m suggesting that this be eaten everyday! With the addition of cooked mung beans, it’s more of a cross between the Vada Pav and a cutlet.

This is a recipe that calls for a few Indian ingredients. If you don’t have them, then come up with your own spice mix. I think a southwest version would be very good. Hmm… that’s definitely a future experiment! The traditional version of Vada Pav features garlic chutney. It gives it a delicious, spicy flavor. However, you don’t need the garlic chutney to complete this dish – sub in some spicy ketchup or other chutney or just dress it up as you would  a burger. You won’t be disappointed!

Healthy Twist on Vada Pav (Indian Potato Burgers) (Makes approx. 9 patties)

1 cup mung beans, cooked
1 potato, boiled or steamed, mashed and cooled (about 1 cup of potato)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing
a few curry leaves, chopped
1/2 cup of onions, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan) plus additional flour for coating
1/8 – 1/4 cup oil for pan frying
small round hamburger buns
1/2 cup dry garlic chutney (or to taste)

In a large bowl, mix together the mung beans and potato. In a small pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onion and allow to cook for a few minutes, stirring. Then add the garlic and ginger paste and cayenne. Allow to cook for a minute or until the garlic is cooked to your liking. Remove from heat and pour this in the mung bean mixture. Add the salt and 1/4 cup of chickpea flour and mash everything together until well combined. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.When the mixture is ready,  roll it into large rounds approx. 2″ in diameter. Set aside until all are rolled out. Place the additional chickpea flour on a plate and roll each ball in the chickpea flour, dusting the outside with the flour.


Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a tbsp or 2 of oil. When the oil is heated, place a few of the balls in the oil, pressing down slightly on the top to flatten a little.


Once the bottom is nicely browned, flip over each ball and cook on the other side, flattening a bit more.


Once browned on the 2nd side, remove from the oil to a plate or paper. Repeat frying until all of the balls are cooked.


If using the garlic chutney, spread a nice layer on the bottom bun, place the patty on the bun, top with sliced onion. Or skip the chutney and use condiments of your choice. Enjoy!



Wild Salad Sunday – Food Foraging in Huntington Botanical Garden



Another post for my Salad Project! This morning I had the opportunity to attend a Food Foraging class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. For an avid gardener like myself, this was heaven on Sunday morning! We gathered early while there was still a chill in the air. Our teacher, Nancy Klehm, greeted us and gave us an intro on foraging. I enjoyed hearing her talk about how to treat the plants that are foraged. She doesn’t just go and rip out the plants, rather she gently takes a bit and leaves the rest for others. Just as we would never stomp through the wilderness while hiking, destroying things, we don’t want to destroy the plants that are feeding us. I agree with this outlook and respect for nature and for the plants.

We got started with a tasting of a bit of tea made with foraged dandelion root and burdock root as well as a tincture made with wild burdock root. She also brought some dried wild plums that we tasted. They reminded me of hibiscus tea. We then started our foraging as Nancy showed us several “weeds” and wild foods that are edible and/or medicinal. We learned about which foods can help the liver, kidneys and blood, how to use the plants for first aid and how to choose the best-tasting parts of the plants. The most useful take-away for me is finding out that all of these so-called weeds that we have in S. California are actually edibles. And they are high in nutritive values as well! We have a bed of radishes and carrots at our school garden that is overrun with oxalis, mallow and sow thistle (sonchus) that I will now leave in peace. The “weeds” can live in harmony with the radishes and carrots (as long as it isn’t too crowded). What a great salad it will make for our students.

At the end of our class, we feasted on some wonderful things. Each student gathered some wild greens for a community salad. Nancy brought a fruity tahini-based dressing (my favorite dressing base) that she mixed with some homemade several-fruits-vinegar, garlic and some other things. She also shared some homemade crackers with lavender seeds, fresh cheese made from raw cow’s milk, and wild current preserves. To top it off, she made a frittata with foraged oyster mushrooms, wild spinach and some other foraged greens. To wash it down, we had a tea made with wild sumac that was very tangy for lack of a better description (don’t try to make this at home as there are not-so edible types of sumac!). Thanks for a great class, Nancy!



If you are going foraging, please be mindful of not eating things from sprayed areas or polluted areas. Better yet, take a class with Nancy! Here is a link to her website. Here are photos of just a few of the plants we learned about today:

Miner’s Lettuce / Claytonia perfoliata


Oxalis (Wood Sorrel)


Chickweed / Stellaria media


Mallow / Malva neglecta 


Curly Dock / Rumex crispus



Wild Salad with Foraged Foods

In a large bowl, place:

handful each of 3 or more of any of the following: wild spinach, oxalis, sow thistle, dandelion, clover, wild mustard, mallow, yarrow, mugwort, curly dock, chickweed, plaintain leaf
add a handful  or two of mint, lemon balm, Calendula leaves and / flowers, arugula, nasturtium leaves and/or flowers

Try to balance the bitter greens with the milder greens, the drier leaves with wetter leaves and add various flowers for texture and color. Mix and toss with dressing of your choice or the dressing below. Bitter greens are usually good with some type of fruit-flavored dressing.

Standard Tahini-Orange Dressing

1/4 cup of tahini
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of water plus more as needed
1 – 2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the tahini and orange juice, stirring and adding water until it is the consistency you like. Add the minced garlic and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes if possible to allow the garlic to infuse the dressing.

Summer Salads: Sprouts & Kickin’ Kale


Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life…

The holiday weekend is upon us. I hope you have a great weekend planned! I’m including two recipes for the (free) price of one today, in honor of the tradition of eating lots of salads and sides with the Independence Day feast. Well, most people do… some people only go for the barbecue!

The first salad is a cold salad made from mung bean sprouts (Indian-style, short sprouts). You will need to plan ahead a bit so that you have your sprouts ready to go when you want to serve this salad. It can take anywhere from 2 to 4 days to sprout the beans. If you are unfamiliar with sprouting, please see the Sproutpeople website. Just use a bowl if you don’t have a sprouter and use the instructions for the 1/4 – 1/2″ long sprouts.

The second salad is a creamy, spicy kale salad and can be eaten room-temp or slightly chilled. It isn’t really an Indian salad, but could still be served alongside an Indian meal.  Kale is one of my favorite veggies but I get bored with the usual preparations. For this recipe, I used Trader Joe’s Tahini Sauce for the tahini, but any plain tahini will work too. The TJ’s sauce has added lemon juice, garlic and salt. Any type of kale will do, but in this recipe I used the dinosaur kale (dark green with flat leaves).

On with the recipes…

Mung Bean Sprout Salad

Serves 2 – 4

  • 3 cups mung bean sprouts, 1/4 – 1/2″ long
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp green chili, finely chopped (optional or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 curry leaves (optional)
  1. Pick through the sprouts to remove any that didn’t hatch. These will be extremely tough and could break a tooth if you bite down unexpectedly! It will take a few minutes, but is worth the little bit of work. Any easy way to do it is fill your bowl of sprouts with water and skim off the top layers with your hand. Examine each handful as you place it in your colander, picking out any that aren’t sprouted. Keep doing this until you get to the bottom of the bowl. Then you can just pick out the remaining sprouts and toss the unsprouted beans (or keep them and cook them in some other recipe).
  2. Rinse the sprouts in cool water and drain in a colander or a salad spinner. Try to get off as much water as possible without disturbing the sprouts too much. 
  3. Place the sprouts in a large bowl and add the onion, cilantro, chili, salt and lemon juice. Mix gently.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, remove from heat and set aside until it cools.
  5. Add the mustard seed/curry leaf mixture to the salad and mix gently. Adjust the lemon juice and salt to your taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Creamy Kale Salad with Spicy Sesame Sauce
Serves 2 – 4
  • 6 cups of kale, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp dried red chili flakes (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 6 tbsp tahini (or tahini sauce, see note above)
  • 2 tsp tamari or other soy sauce
  • lemon juice to taste
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped garlic and chili flakes and turn the heat to medium-low (so the garlic doesn’t burn).
  3. When the garlic starts to change color, add the kale and about a half tsp of salt.
  4. Stir and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for a few minutes, checking on the kale and stirring every few minutes. Add a few tbsps of water to keep the kale from burning if it seems to be getting dry.
  5. When the kale is nice and wilted and tender, remove from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. (The cooking time can be influenced by the freshness of the kale and how much water was added during cooking, among other factors.)
  6. Remove the kale and any garlic bits to a bowl. Try not to pour too much water into the bowl if there is any left in the pan.
  7. Add the tahini and tamari/soy sauce to the kale mixture and stir. The mixture should have a creamy, smooth consistency. If it’s too thick, then add a bit of water to thin it out. If it’s too thin, add a bit more tahini.
  8. Now squeeze about 1/4 of a lemon over the kale and stir. Taste and add more if you like…
  9. Eat.

Vegetable Manchurian with Spicy Cilantro-Garlic Gravy and Fried Noodles

Vegetable Manchurian with Spicy Cilantro-Garlic Gravy and Fried Noodles

Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Have you ever had the delicious combination of Indian and Chinese food? If not, this is a new taste adventure you are sure to love. Indian-Chinese is very popular in India, and it’s offered on lots of pub menus and restaurant menus. There’s nothing quite as good with a cool drink as a fried vegetable ball dripping with a spicy garlic-chili sauce! Or a crispy, spicy baby corn spear… this cuisine is not for the spice-challenged person!

There are many varieties of Manchurian – some are “dry” (without a lot of gravy), some are “wet”. Some use tomato product in the sauce, some don’t. All of them are highly flavored with some type of fried ball or battered pieces of vegetable, paneer or chicken.

My favorite recipe for Veg Manchurian is the following recipe from (my Dear Mother-in-Law) Shyamala Kallianpur‘s cookbook “Green Leafy Vegetables”. (Unfortunately it is out of print right now, but she is hoping to make it available again! The book is a treasure trove of healthy Konkani vegetarian cooking with some bonus recipes thrown in.) Without further delay (as many people have been asking for this recipe!!!)…

Vegetable Manchurian with Spicy Garlic-Cilantro Gravy

Serves 6

This is a two-part recipe. Make the balls first, set aside and then work on the sauce. Making both at once is a little hectic unless you have some help in the kitchen!

For the Vegetable Balls:

  • 1 cup spring onion leaves (green part only)
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 1 cup cabbage
  • 1/2 cup carrot
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper
  • 2 small potatoes (approx 1 1/2 cups), boiled, peeled and mashed
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili sauce (the red sauce in a bottle)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 – 4 cups oil for deep frying
  1. Finely cut the first 5 vegetable ingredients. Cut as finely as possible – a food processor is the fastest and easiest but you can also use a grater or a knife.
  2. Heat a large wok or frying pan over medium low heat. Put the vegetables in the pan along with 2 tsp of salt. Stir occasionally and allow to cook for 5 minutes. The vegetables will just start to steam/sweat a bit, not brown.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients except for the oil. Mix together well using a spoon or your hands. Test for salt level and add more if necessary.
  5. Form into 1″ diameter balls and flatten slightly. Deep fry until dark brown. Drain and set aside.
For the Gravy:
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 6 – 12 green chilis (or to taste), grind into a paste with a little water
  • 30 cloves of garlic, minced – don’t be shy with this…it mellows out with cooking!
  • 1/2 cup spring onion leaves (green part only), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 – 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili sauce
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups of water
  1. Heat a medium or large frying pan over medium low heat. Add 2 tbsp of oil and then the green chili paste and minced garlic. Fry slowly, stirring often until it starts to turn brown. This takes a long time to turn brown…just take it slowly and keep a close eye since it will burn quickly at the end.
  2. Add the cut spring onion and 1/2 of the coriander leaves. Mix well and cook for 4 -5 minutes. You can add a little bit of the water if it starts to stick too much.
  3. Mix the sauces, vinegar, cornstarch, and about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water in a separate bowl to make a thin paste. Pour into the pan and stir to mix well.
  4. Stir in the remaining water and bring to a boil. Continue cooking (or add more water) until the consistency is that of a medium-thick gravy.
  5. Taste for salt and add if necessary.
  6. Remove from heat, add the fried vegetable balls and remaining cilantro. Serve hot with fried rice or noodles.

Arugula-Walnut Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Arugula-Walnut Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life! Spring arrives in a few days, but I am ahead of the curve with this green pasta dish that is hearty but light. It’s a not-very-spicy recipe but you can spice it up by adding more chili flakes and/or raw garlic. If you are afraid of raw garlic, just keep this for a weekend (non-date-night) recipe!

This recipe was inspired by the wonderful spring weather as well as out of necessity. I needed to use up my bag of wild arugula and a bag of cut mushrooms I got at Trader Joe’s earlier this week.  I was also skimming the food section on Huffington Post today and saw an article with beautiful pics of spring pastas. Therefore, a variety of inspiration, boiled down into a bowl of pasta.

Feel free to substitute whatever greens you have on hand. Pesto is very forgiving when you use different seeds/nuts and greens.  My usual go-to pesto recipe is part arugula and basil with pine nuts or sunflower seeds. The arugula keeps the basil nice and green and gives it a peppery taste. Parsley and spinach are also delicious as stand-ins for part of the greens.  Normally pesto contains cheese, but this is a vegan (non-dairy) version. If you would like to add cheese, add about 1/2 cup grated cheese (usually parmesan or asiago) to the blender when making the pesto. Or simply grate it on top of the finished pasta before serving.

Spring Arugula Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Serves 4 – 6

  • 4 cups boiled pasta of your choice
  • 4 cups arugula or other greens, rinsed and drained
  • 8 oz mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 – 2 tbsp flaked red chili
  • 2 – 4 tbsp olive oil or margarine/butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • black pepper to taste

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups arugula (or other greens), rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic (or to taste), peeled
  • 1/4 cup (or more) good quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, shelled
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  1. While cooking the pasta, make your pesto: place the garlic, 1/2 of the greens and 1/2 of the walnuts in a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend to a smooth paste by running the machine while adding oil a little at a time.
  3. Add the remaining walnuts, salt and greens (and cheese if using) and pulse until it becomes a chunky mixture. You may need to add additional oil. Taste for salt and set aside.
  4. Heat a pan over medium heat and add 2  tbsp olive oil.
  5. When it shimmers, add the mushrooms and flaked chili and let cook wtihout stirring for at least one minute.
  6. Stirring occasionally, let the mushrooms cook down. They will release their water and start to turn brown.
  7. Now add the arugula or greens on top of the mushrooms along with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  8. Allow to cook until the greens are wilted and any moisture evaporates. Turn off the heat.
  9. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, along with 1/4 cup of pesto. Mix gently to combine. Add more pesto to taste.

Serve while warm with a side salad and/or garlic bread. You can freeze left-over pesto sauce or use as a spread on sandwiches or a topping on baked potatoes… Happy Spring!

Garlicky Cilantro Chutney

Garlicky Cilantro Chutney

Garlic Cilantro Chutney

Hi! Today I made idlis (instant, not from scratch this time) with Garlic-Cilantro Chutney for my In-Laws who are visiting from Jersey. This is a simple chutney to make when you don’t have a lot of time to get food on the table. You can adjust the levels of garlic and chili to suit your taste. Be sure to use the cilantro stems because apparently these are the most flavorful part of the plant. Enjoy!

Garlic-Cilantro Chutney

Makes approx. 3 cups

  • 2 cups fresh (or thawed frozen) unsweetened coconut or desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups roughly chopped cilantro (stems and leaves)
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1-2 green chilis
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup or so of water
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or other cooking oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • 4-6 curry leaves

Place the cilantro, garlic, chili(s), tamarind paste, salt and about 2 tbsp water in a blender and grind to a fine paste, adding more water as needed. Add the coconut and grind until combined and it becomes a rough mixture (but not too smooth). Add a little water at a time if it is too dry. Pour contents into a serving bowl. Adjust salt if necessary.

For the seasoning: heat the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves and allow to heat until the mustard starts to pop. Immediately remove from heat and pour over the chutney. Mix in and serve with idlis, vadas, dosas, sandwiches, etc.

Please send me any comments or questions! I would love to hear from you and any ideas you come up with to use chutney…

My First Post – Kidney Beans

My First Post – Kidney Beans

Hi and welcome to my food blog! This is my first post ever  though I have been thinking about it for a long time, too long perhaps! Please bear with me until I master this blogging thing, especially the technical details and the photography. Time has gotten away from me as I obsessed over what to name the blog, the perfect recipe to use to kick it off, etc. Finally I decided to just move on and post a simple, home-style dish. So without further delay, here is my first post:

Rajma Kodel is a simple to make, garlic-y, spicy, slightly sour kidney bean entrée usually eaten with rice. This is one of the first recipes that my husband got from his mom after moving to the US in 1990.  We made this often in the early years when we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on food. Now our kids love it (minus the red chilis) so we make it at least twice a month. I usually use dried beans but canned beans work beautifully in a pinch. You can also add more chilis and/or garlic depending on your mood. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Rajma Kodel

Rajma Kodel

  • 3 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (1.25 cups dried kidney beans, soaked, cooked and drained OR 2-15 oz. cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained)
  • 2 to 6 dried whole red chilis (or you can leave out altogether)*
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil (or other oil for sautéing)
  • 1 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 3/4 cup desiccated unsweetened coconut powder or flakes  (or fresh / frozen unsweetened coconut)
  • salt to taste
  • 6-12 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

Place 2 1/2 cups of the cooked kidney beans in a sauce pan with water to cover. Turn on the flame to medium-low to simmer.  Place the rest of the beans in a blender or food processor (blender works best).

In a small pan, heat the oil and add the red chilis. Fry for about 1 minute until they start to get a little crisp and browned but not burned. Put the chilis only (reserving the oil in the pan) on top of the beans in the blender/processor. Add the tamarind paste, coconut and salt to the blender. Cover with water just to the top of the beans. Blend to make a thick creamy gravy.

Pour the gravy into the pan with the simmering kidney beans and mix gently. This should be slightly thick but you may need to add a little more water. Don’t make it too watery like a soup though!

Finally, fry the sliced garlic over low heat in the reserved oil until just slightly browned and fragrant. Pour the garlic and oil over the gravy and kidney beans and mix gently. Serve over rice with a vegetable on the side. Happy eating!

*To make this kid-friendly, I first make the recipe without the fried red chilis. Split the batch between two pans, fry the red chili and blend with a little water and add it to the “adult” batch. Voila! One spicy, one not!