Follow Me On…

Weeknight Dinners

Jan 102015
Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-3

Quinoa and black bean Stuffed Acorn Squash


A couple of weeks back, I bought small acorn squash to recreate a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants for stuffed squash.  I have eaten the dish so many times that I felt it was only proper to make a cheat recipe. Then, as luck would have it, the influenza struck and took me on a spin. The last year has been that kind of a year – where I have been more in the house than out because of health or injuries. At times it felt like I was not going to catch a break. EVER! But it was fleeting feeling. I did catch a few good breaks though they were intercepted with challenges.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-4

Anyhow, since the energy levels were low all around, and shopping for ingredients was not a possibility, I decided to just make something for dinner with whatever I had at home. Turns out, there is a lot you can make with things in your home. That is something my friend Karen from Savoury Table has been blogging about for a while. Her Something from Nothing series was an inspiration for this dish.  I just took a deep look into my pantry and the squash and deep corners of the fridge and voila! Thanks Karen, for inspiring me! Xo!


Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-2An excellent combination of carb and protein, quinoa black bean stuffed acorn squash is a great make ahead dish. The best part is that since it looks so ‘cool’, the teen did not mind packing it for her school lunch. A quick zap in the microwave and warm, home cooked delicious lunch was ready amidst an ever so busy school day. The best part I like about it is, how easy and quick it is and yet so full of flavor. I used quite a bit of spice in the recipe and it worked really well with the sweetness from the acorn squash. I topped it with a little melting cheese for the comfort factor. It is after all really frosty here in Colorado these days.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-4

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash


  • 3 Acorn Squash Small size
  • 3/4 Cup Cooked Quinoa
  • 3/4 Cup Canned Black Beans (reserve the liquid)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbs chopped cilantro
  • 3-4 Tbs finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 C chopped tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs Melting cheese ( I used Fontina)
  • 1tsp oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400*F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  3. Slice the top off the acorn squashes to make an opening to scoop out the seeds. Keep the tops aside for later, don't throw them. Once the seeds are scooped out of the squash, sprinkle some salt inside the squash, place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile heat the oil and add cumin seeds. Cook for a few seconds and then add the onions to sautee. Add in the cumin powder, coriander, cayenne,salt and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are cooked through. Add in the beans along with some liquid that you reserved from the can.
  5. Mix it all in and add the quinoa.Stir to combine.
  6. Scoop the quinoa bean mixture into the squash, top it with some cilantro, then some cheese and close with the cut out tops. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes and serve hot with some chunky salsa or soup and a salad.


If you don't have precooked quinoa, you can cook it while the squash is baking. Take equal parts quinoa and liquid (water/ broth) ; wash the quinoa, bring the liquid to a boil. Add the quinoa in and bring it to a boil again, then bring the heat down to where the liquid is simmering, Close the lid on the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Allow it to rest for another 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and add into the recipe.

Sep 142013
Tamatar Chaaman

Tamatar Chaaman


According to wiki, Fusion cuisine is cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions.  And that is exactly what my mom did when she made the Tamatar Chaaman – paneer with tomatoes,  though she did not label it as fusion.  She took elements from the Kashmiri Muslim cuisine and elements of the Kashmiri Pandit cuisine and made an extraordinary dish called the tamatar chaman – Paneer with Tomatoes.

Use of onions, shallots and garlic is prevalent in the Kashmiri Muslim cuisine, be it the home cooking or the much fabled “Wazwaan”. On the other hand Kashmiri Pandit cuisine is sans onions and garlic especially in the “saal”, which is the equivalent of Wazwaan. The use of onions, in Pandit homes was allowed to an extent, in certain homely dishes but the use of garlic and shallots was unheard of.


Having lived and worked most of her life in the beautiful Kaprin, the population of which is  99.9% Muslim, she was introduced to their wonderful cuisine. And with that introduction, her fusion dishes started to make way into our daily food. For most part, she would eliminate the onions and garlic and base the dish on a traditional Kashmiri Pandit technique and use some elements of the Muslim cuisine. The resulting dishes were sublime.

The tamatar chaaman is a fusion between the wazwaan style Ruwaangan chaaman and the saal style Wozij chaaman. The main elements in the Ruwaangan chaaman are tomatoes, fried onions, garlic and red chillies with silky soft paneer, whereas the wozij chaaman is silky soft paneer cooked in fennel seed powder, red chillies and a dash of yogurt.

Homemade paneer

Taking the onions and garlic away, and introducing the tomatoes to the paneer and fennel preparation makes this dish a great fusion. It also makes it a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

Enjoy and Stay Blessed


Tamatar Chaaman – Paneer with Tomatoes a Kashmiri fusion Recipe

Serves: 10 servings as one of the dishes in an Indian meal.


  • 1 pound paneer
  • 1 pound tomatoes - Local organic / heirloom preferred - chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tsp shahi zeera (black cumin)
  • 1/2 tsp sonth (ginger) powder
  • 2tbs saunf ( fennel powder)
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri garam masala ( Or use Shaan Zafrani garam masala)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Mustard oil for best taste. You can also use canola/ peanut.


  1. Put about 2 cups of hot water in a bowl. Add in the turmeric into to. Keep aside.
  2. Slice the paneer into thick rectangular slices.
  3. Heat some mustard oil (or any other oil you are using) for some shallow frying and fry the paneer one or two slice at a time. You basically just want to get a golden hue in places.
  4. Remove with a slotted spoon and dunk it in the waiting water turmeric mix.
  5. Continue to fry and dunk until all paneer gets the treatment.
  6. Take 2-3 tbs of the oil in which you fried the paneer in a different pan and add in the tomatoes to it.
  7. Add in the hing, cover and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat.
  8. Stir and add salt. Cover and cook again for another 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are almost cooked to a paste.
  9. Add in the spices,except garam masala and zeera. Mix and cook until oil floats to top.
  10. Add in the paneer and along with the water it was basking in.
  11. Cook until oil floats to top again and you reach the desired consistency in gravy.
  12. Ideally this is slightly thick.
  13. Finish off with the garam masala and zeera . Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes before serving.


Best Made with freshly made paneer.

Mar 292013
Tandoori spiced Salmon

Tandoori Spiced Salmon with kale and black rice


It is a bitter sweet moment, writing this post today. Today is the last post of the Power Foods Blogging Group. I learned a lot on this journey of 38 power foods with the blog group. The stories from each one of the bloggers kept me entertained and the facts about power foods kept me amazed. There was so much about these foods that I did not know and there still is so much to learn. The blogging group helped me stop and take notice and ask the food, “So what are YOU going to help me with?”



Tandoori spiced Salmon

As we wind up this journey and get ready to embark on another one, I do have one more power food recipe for you.  It is the Indian version of pan roasted, Tandoori Spiced Salmon With Black Rice and it is a no fuss recipe.   Just to make life easier for my friends who keep complaining that they have to go with a huge spice list to buy everything they need to make my dishes, I have for once used a ready mix of Tandoori spices. I can see you grinning ear to ear.  Yes,  it is really as simple as that. And as for cooking black rice, you can use this method or follow your own method.

For well researched health benefits of Salmon read the article on WHF. 

And for one last time, here are the fellow bloggers who were in this journey with me, discovering power foods and sharing stories and recipes.:-

Jeanette at jeanetteshealthyliving ; Martha at Simply Nourished Living ; Mireya at Myhealthyeatinghabits ; Alyce at More time at the table ;  Minnie at ; Casey at  Sweetsav  .


Tandoori Spiced Salmon With Black Rice

Tandoori Spiced Salmon With Black Rice


  • 2 Fillets Wild caught Alaskan Salmon
  • 1/2 C Black Rice cooked
  • 1 C Chopped Kale
  • 1 tsp Tandoori Masala ( I recommend using Shaan Brand)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • oil spray


  1. Mix in the lemon juice, ginger, garlic, salt and tandoori Masala.
  2. Marinate the fish pieces in this mix for about 15 minutes, ensuring to coat all both the sides of the fish.
  3. Heat a skillet on medium high heat and spray with a little oil.
  4. Cook the marinated fish for 3- 5 minutes on each side depending on how you like it cooked.
  5. Mix in the olive oil with the kale and massage it a little.
  6. Serve warm black rice with the tandoori salmon along with the massaged kale.


You can shop up the cooked salmon and mix everything together for a salad for work.

The link to the shaan brand for Tandoori spice is reference only. You can buy it cheaper at any Indian grocery store.


Mar 152013




Dahi in Hindi/Urdu, Zamut do’dh in Kashmiri, Thayir in Tamil, Doi in Bengali, Perugu in Telugu and yogurt in English. Yogurt is  an important part of the Indian food culture across the nation.  And it was an important part of the meal at home. It was served with every meal.  As a lassi – watered down with an addition of mint and spices or just as is.   It is my grandmother’s favorite food.  On most days she adds in yogurt to her rice, with a pinch of salt and some mint – walnut chutney and her lunch is done. And she ensures that we all have a glass of lassi or some home made yogurt at each meal.

Have I ever mentioned that I lived in Hyderabad for a while?  I am sure I have because that is one place that felt like home to me at first bite.  Yes it was all about food. One of the reasons was that each meal in Hyderabad ended with a curd rice – a simple concoction of plain boiled rice with yogurt and spices. Simple ?  Yes! Heavenly ?  Oh YES! And made me feel right at home in a new city.


 It is Power Foods Friday and I am so happy that it is about Yogurt. It is a well deserved place for it, for it is a storehouse of nutritional benefits for us.

Yogurt is a good source of calcium, which  we know is needed for maintaining healthy bones. It’s protein packed, hence really important in a vegetarian diet and on days you choose to eat vegetarian. The protein in yogurt is great for muscle repair and growth and it fills you up. Grab those smoothies now. And we all know how great it is for our little tummies, don’t we? And if you are trying to loose weight, go heavy on fat free yogurt and watch the pounds drop off .

So here is a delicious Kadhi recipe that you can use as a soup.  Kadhi Pakoda – Yogurt & Chickpea Flour Soup with Baked Fenugreek Fritters, is gluten free, full of goodness of protein.  And here are some more juicy details about yogurt from my blogger friends –   Jeanette at jeanetteshealthyliving ; Martha at Simply Nourished Living ; Mireya at Myhealthyeatinghabits ; Alyce at More time at the table ;  Minnie at ; Casey at  Sweetsav  .


Kadhi Pakode – Yogurt & Chickpea Flour Soup with Baked Fenugreek Fritters


    For Kadhi (yogurt soup)
  • 2 C Greek yogurt at Room temperature ( 3 C if using home made yogurt)
  • 5 C water (4 C if using home made yogurt)
  • 1/3 C chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • For Pakode (fritters)
  • 1 C fenugreek leaves chopped
  • ½ C chickpea flour
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ c Water
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 thai green chilli finely chopped
  • For Tadka ( the tempering)
  • 1 Tbs ghee
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds (rai)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds – slightly crushed
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbs chopped ginger
  • 1 tbs chopped garlic
  • 3- 4 dry chillies
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


    Lets start with the Kadhi:-
  1. Sift the chickpea flour into the bowl and turmeric powder add in the water and the yogurt and whisk it all together.
  2. Take a dutch oven or a heavy bottomed pot ( at least a 3.5 qt) and pour the yogurt mix into it. Cook on high heat and keep stirring constantly until it comes to a rolling boil. Then reduce heat, simmer for about 30 minutes. Do not cover the pot and do remember to stir it every now and then.
  3. Now let's work on the fritters ( traditionally they are supposed to be fried)
  4. Heat the oven to 500* F. Mix all the ingredients for the fritters except water. Once mixed in, add in water a little at a time. You are looking to make a loose dough. Not a batter, but not quiet dough. Something like a chocolate chip cookie dough that you can scoop with a spoon. You may or may not need all the water.
  5. Once this dough is ready, spoon out the mixture, a Tbs at a time and place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Yes! Just like you would for drop cookies.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes on one side, Turn them over bake again for 8 minutes.
  7. They may not be as crunchy as the fried ones, but they are equally delicious.
  8. Bring it all together
  9. By now your Kadhi would have cooked and the pakode must be tempting you to try them out.
  10. Put the pakode in the pot in which Kadhi is simmering. Allow it to simmer while you make the Tadka
  11. Heat ghee in a small pan, add in the mustard seeds and wait for them to crackle. Add in coriander, red chilli and fenugreek seeds in that order. And then add the ginger and garlic and cook till garlic turns a slight shade of light brown.
  12. Place the sprig of the curry leaves in the pan and add on Tadka ( the ghee concoction you just made)


I eat it just as is for a delicious dinner, but traditionally Kadhi is served with Rice.

Mar 082013

Egg curry

Dear Eggs,

You have been whipped, cracked, beaten and scrambled in my kitchen. You have been boiled, fried and baked too. And If that was not enough, I dropped you in soups and also poached you.

The reason why I am writing to you today is that I never really ever told you or anyone how Eggceptional you really are. People maligned your name, by calling you the monster at the breakfast table. I never paid any attention to them and kept my love sincere for you. You know that, don’t you? I sang your praises in the perfectly boiled egg story, and the omelets and the persian egg curry . But in all those, I was being very selfish by saying how easy you were. No No !! Not in THAT sense. You are humble, no fuss, and generally very accommodating.

I never told anyone how very good you were for them. I never tried to clear your name when they said you were bad for them. And for that I am making amends now and writing about your virtues, and my friends  Jeanette at jeanetteshealthyliving ; Martha at Simply Nourished Living ; Mireya at Myhealthyeatinghabits ; Alyce at More time at the table ;  Minnie at ; Casey at  Sweetsav  are joining me in writing about your goodness and sunny disposition.

Egg Curry

As for me personally, I couldn’t do without you. On most days you come to my rescue and save me from boring myself to death at the stove by your simple versatility. I think you have known all along that I am so not a morning person. So thank you Dear Eggs for –

1 ) choline, which reduces chances of breast cancer in women by 24%.

2) lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that will help me check out the eye candy even when I am 70

3) the naturally occurring vitamin D

4) saving my hair and nails due to your sulphur and vitamin content. You know how badly I treat them at the salons.

5) Being low on calories, high on protein – you have started to shrink my waistline too

I will always be indebted to you, dear eggs for all that you have done and are doing for me and I will always love you!

Yours, truly yours


Egg Curry

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serves: 8 servings

Serving Size: 1

Egg Curry


  • 8 eggs (hard boiled and peeled)
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbs ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tbs kashmiri chili powder
  • 2 tbs coriander powder
  • 1 tbs cumin powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbs oil
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups hot water


  1. Take a clean toothpick and poke the boiled eggs all over. This is to create some pores so the spices can seep into the eggs.
  2. Heat the oil and lightly fry the eggs in it. There is no deep frying.
  3. Take the eggs out and in the same oil sautee onions until they are pale. Do this on low heat as you will otherwise be burning them too quickly.
  4. Add in the salt and wait for the onions to sweat a bit. Now keep stirring until the onions turn a light shade of brown.
  5. Add in the ginger garlic paste, cook for a minute or two on medium heat.
  6. Now add in the spices ( except the garam masala) and add in the tomatoes.
  7. Mix everything together and cover and cook for about 5 minutes on medium- low heat.
  8. When the spices and tomato onion mixture is thoroughly cooked, ( the oil floats to the top is a good indication that things are cooked), add in the water and bring everything to a rolling boil.
  9. Add in the garam masala and the eggs and cover and cook again for 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
  10. The oil will once again float to the top when the dish is perfectly cooked. You may also let it cook longer to make a thicker curry. But to eat with fluffed up brown rice, you need some fingerlicking good curry.


This recipe can be halved or doubled with ease. In a pinch, buy preboiled eggs from costco and make the curry. Will save you a lot of time.

 Posted by on March 8, 2013 at 8:50 AM
Jan 072013
Smoky Eggplant Dip - Baigan Bharta

Smoky, smoldering and clandestine. That has been my affair with the guy named clove, ever since we got together for the Alu matar Smokin’.  We have been meeting off and on, more on than off for he is just too irresistible.  What’s not to like in a guy who makes me look like I am the greatest cook?  He makes me look good, oh yes he does!  But since it is a brand new year and I really don’t want to keep him a secret anymore, I am declaring it out loud.  This is going to be the year of clove in my kitchen.  There ! I said it.

In addition to the smoky pungent taste, the cloves have therapeutic properties and have some of the richest antioxidants of all spices.  And did I tell you that they act as wonderful breath fresheners?

A fire roasted eggplant is quite flavorful by itself.  The best baigan bharta  is made on smoldering coals or a wood fire. Slowly roasted eggplants on wood or coal fire have a taste that can just not be matched by any other method. However, cooking them on an open stove top flame comes a close second and so does roasting them in an oven. No matter which method you use, a baigan bharta with cloves added in takes it a few notches up.  The already smoky flavor gets matched with pungent smoky clove. The result is worth a try.

Serve this Roasted Egg plant dip (for want of a better description for baigan bharta) as a game day appetizer.  You will in fact make them stop watching the game for just a bit to ask you what’s in it 😉


Roasted Eggplant Dip – Baigan Bharta

Roasted Eggplant Dip – Baigan Bharta

Smoky, smoldering and sensational.


  • 2 Globe Eggplants
  • 1 C chopped onion
  • 1.5 C chopped tomato
  • 1/4 C chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • 1/8 tsp clove powder
  • 1- 2 thai green chillies
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder/paprika/cayenne
  • 2 tbs chopped garlic
  • 1 tbs chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbs mustard oil
  • 1tsp mango powder (amchur)


    prepare the eggplants
  1. make deep incisions all around the eggplants and cook them on open flame/ grill.
  2. Alternately cut them in halves lengthwise, and roast cut side down in the oven at 450*F for 25- 30 min
  3. Once the eggplants are cooked through ( tender all through), allow them to cool off.
  4. Then peel the skin off and keep the eggplant aside.
  5. make the dip
  6. Heat the mustard oil and allow it get slightly smoky
  7. Reduce heat to medium and add the cumin and wait for it to splutter
  8. Add in the onions and let them cook until they get transparent and start browning on the sides.
  9. Add in the ginger and garlic and saute until garlic browns slightly.
  10. Add in turmeric, chillipowder, and tomatoes and cook for about 4- 5 minutes on medium heat.
  11. Add in the eggplants and mix well. Now add in the cilantro, green chillies, mango powder, salt and clove powder.
  12. Cook for another 2-3 minutes stirring every now and then, until everything mixes in well.
  13. Serve with strips of pita bread as a dip or with roti and dal as a side dish.