Cauliflower Pakoras/Fritters

It is cold, cloudy and it is almost the weekend (at least in the Chicago area). Too lazy to cook an elaborate meal for the family so I decided to whip some pakoras to enjoy with dairy-free Indian Tea.

I remember when I was in India and even for a long time in the US, we would prepare and eat pakoras regularly. It is one of the most favorite snacks prepared in the Indian kitchen whether it is cold, rainy, gameday or something else. It is equally popular on a lot of restaurant menus too We would not only prepare the pakoras using cauliflower but also use a variety of other vegetables like spinach, green chili, potatoes, paneer, etc. and we would deep fry them in OIL.

Frying in OIL adds a lot of unwanted calories and saturated fat to the pakoras that our bodies really don’t need. Using an air-fryer or oven, helps me prepare the pakoras without having to add the extra calories and fat to it. Why not enjoy it guilt-free.


  • 1 medium-size cauliflower head; washed and cut florets
  • 1 small white onion; finely chopped
  • 2 serrano peppers; finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp ginger; finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro; washed and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 1/4 cup water


1. Preheat oven to 380 F.
2. In a mixing bowl, add onions, serrano pepper, ginger, cilantro, chickpea flour, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, hing, lemon juice, salt, and water. Mix well to make a batter.
3. Add cauliflower to the batter and coat cauliflower florets evenly with the batter
4. Set up a baking tray with parchment paper, place floret 1 inch apart on the baking tray.
5. Place the tray in the oven for 30 min and then flip the pakoras and put them back in for another 30 mins. You can increase or decrease the baking time depending on the crispiness of pakoras you prefer.
6. Enjoy this healthy oil-free snack/appetizer with green chutney.

Vegetable ‘Dum’ Biryani

Get ready to test your aroma buds!! I was walking through the aisles of my local Indian store and I came across this pack of Whole Biryani Masala and I told to myself that I need to make the biryani.

To my surprise, a couple of days later, I walk into the house, after a day of errands, with a house filled with aromas. My hubby was getting ready to surprise me with Vegetable ‘Dum’ Biryani. Plant-Based Hubby Chef in the making.

Biryani is an elegant and exquisite rice-based recipe with Persian roots. It is very popular throughout India and you would feel like you are preparing it as you would prepare a lasagne. Instead of sauce, you use vegetable gravy with plenty of whole spices to tickle your buds and instead of pasta sheets, you use brown-rice.

Ingredients (Rice)

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp whole black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice

Ingredients (Vegetable Gravy)

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 – 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 whole cardamom
  • 1 large onion; finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger; grated
  • 2 cloves garlic; grated
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups mixed vegetables; carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, potato, beans; chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup plant-based non-dairy yogurt; whisked
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 – 3 tsp biryani masala powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup coriander
  • 3 tbsp mint leaves or 10-12 mint leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 7 – 8 oz. cubes extra firm Tofu; cube cut (approx. 15 cubes)

Ingredients (Garnish)

  • 15 mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coriander, chopped
  • 1/4 cup saffron water
  • wheat dough, to seal

Preparation (Rice)

1. Take a medium saucepan and add 8 cups water, brown rice, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, whole pepper, and 1 tsp salt. Place on medium heat.
2. After the water boils, check regularly at 5 mins intervals if the rice is cooked. We do not want to cook the rice fully as we will be cooking it more with the gravy later.
3. Once the rice is cooked to your preference, drain the water from the rice using a colander. Rinse the rice using cold water to stop further cooking.

Preparation (Vegetable Gravy)

1. Take coriander, mint leaves and 1/4 cup water and puree in a blender. Keep aside.
2. Take a medium to large saucepan and place on medium heat.
3. When the saucepan is hot, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, whole cardamoms, cumin seeds. Dry roast for 1 min. You should feel the ingredients turning aromatic. Add 3 tbsp water to the saucepan to avoid burning.
4. Add the finely chopped onions to the saucepan and saute them. If needed, add 1-2 tbsp of water to avoid onions to stick to the pan. Saute until onions soften and turn translucent.
5. Add the grated ginger and garlic to the pan and mix well. Saute for 2 mins.
6. Add the chopped vegetables to the pan and mix well.
7. Add whisked yogurt, chili powder, turmeric powder, biryani masala, coriander-mint puree and salt to the saucepan. Mix well.
8. Add 1 cup water and cover the vegetable mix saucepan to cook on medium heat. Uncover at 5min intervals until the vegetables are almost cooked.
9. Add the cubed tofu and mix well to evenly cover the gravy over the tofu. Cook for another 2mins.
10. Remove from heat.

Preparation and Assembly (Vegetable Biryani)

1. Preheat oven 350F.
2. In oven-safe large cookware with cover, place a layer of the vegetable gravy followed by a layer of cooked brown rice. We would approximately have three layers so place the layers accordingly. This is like assembling a lasagne.
3. Spread a few chopped mint leaves, chopped coriander and a tsp of Saffron water.
4. Repeat step 2 and step 3 until you have completed used the vegetable gravy and brown rice.
5. Cover the cookware and seal it. You can use the dough prepared from the Roti/Chapati recipe.
6. Place the covered and sealed cookware in the oven for 25 mins. This is cooking the rice with the gravy and adding spice flavors to it.
7. Enjoy the biryani with Raita, Green Chutney and/or Pickle.

Polenta Upma

Upma is one of the most common breakfast preferences in the Indian kitchen. It is dearly loved and made with multiple variations across India. One problem that it is commonly made with Suji or Semolina which is highly processed.

I have earlier tried to make Upma with Bulgar and Cracked Wheat which came out as a great option to satisfy the craving for Upma. In this version, I am using Polenta or Cornmeal as my base and this is so close or exact to how traditional Upma tastes like without adding Semolina.


  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 dry whole red chilies; broken halves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 1 medium white onion; finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato; finely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas; thawed
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro; finely chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper; chopped (optional)


1. Take a medium saucepan and place it on medium heat. Dry roast polenta for 5-6 minutes with continuous stirring. The polenta is done once the color darkens to golden yellow. Once done, keep aside.
2. Take another medium saucepan and place it on medium heat.
3. Dry roast curry leaves, mustard seeds, peanuts, and the split whole red chili peppers. Stir regularly and roast for 3-5 mins.
4. Add onions to the mix and stir. Add tbsp water if onions are sticking to the pan. Saute for at least 5 mins or when onions turn translucent.
5. Add peas to the mix and stir well. Saute for another 3 mins.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt. Mix well. Saute the mix until the tomatoes soften. This normally takes 6-8 mins.
7. Add the dry roasted polenta and combine all the ingredients well.
8. Add 3 1/2 cups of water and lemon juice to the mix. Mix well.
9. Keep stirring the mix until the polenta absorbs the water. You may observe boil in the polenta mix. Lower the heat and keep stirring to semi-soft consistency.
10. Garnish with chopped green chilis and cilantro.

Crispy Baked Bhindi/Okra

A simple recipe from the Indian Kitchen but not traditional like Masala Bhindi is this Crispy Baked Okra. Okra aka Bhindi is a summer regular on the Indian kitchen table. Okra being a universal vegetable is turning favorite for everyone around the world.

Okra is also tricky at times when preparing. First, there is a trick to picking the Okra from your fresh market or store. Please try to pick tender or baby okra as it cooks and tastes better. The other tip is please wash the Okra and wipe it dry. This avoids the extra sticky residue while you cut the okra.

After making this awesome recipe, I enjoyed this as a topping over brown rice.


  • 4 cups Okra (Bhindi); sliced circle
  • 1 large white onion; finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Ginger; chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    1/2 tsp Sea Salt (adjust to taste)


1. Preheat oven at 375 F.
2. Take a large mixing bowl and add all ingredients. Mix well.
3. Take a baking tray and layer parchment paper.
4. Spread the Okra mix uniformly on the baking tray.
5. Place the baking tray inside the oven for 30mins.
6. After 30mins, using a flat spatula toss and/or flip the okra to cook from both sides. Place the tray back for another 30mins or more according to your desired crispness.
7. Enjoy with roti, naan, a side or a topping over cooked brown rice or quinoa.

Lavash Samosa Roll

We all love Samosas. I prepared and posted earlier on how to prepare traditional samosas. I wish we all had the time to prepare samosas to enjoy this scrumptious appetizer. I recently came across and prepared these awesome Avacado Rolls from the website and thought to try and prepare the samosa mix and bake them.


– 1 medium white onion; finely chopped
– 2/3 Cups Frozen Peas; thawed
– 5 medium potatoes; boiled, cooled, and crushed
– 1 Sereno pepper (optional); finely chopped
– 1/4 Cup Cilantro; finely chopped
– 1 tbsp grated ginger
– 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
– 1/4 tsp Red chili powder
– 1/4 tsp Garam masala
– 1/2 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
– 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
– 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
– 2 tbsp Coriander Powder
– 1 tsp Amchur (Dried Mango Powder)


1. Take a medium sauce pan and place on medium heat. Dry roast the cumin seeds with asafoetida for 2 mins.
2. Add the onions to the saucepan. If onions stick to the pan, add one tbsp water. Sauté onions and stir until translucent and soft.
3. Add thawed peas to the mix. Sauté for 2 mins.
4. Add boiled/crushed potatoes.
5. Add turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder, amchur, and salt. Mix well.
6. Add ginger, cilantro, sereno pepper(optional)
7. Keep stirring the mix for 2 mins.
8. Switch off the heat and let the mix cool down.
9. When you are ready to prepare the rolls, preheat oven at 375 degrees F.
10. On chopping board or on flat surface lay lavash bread. Take a spoon full of potato mix, start spreading the mix with a spoon or tool of your choice on the lavash bread to create a thin layer of the mix(you may need to take 4-5 times potato mix to cover lavash bread).
11. With both hands start rolling lavash bread, with the mix inside, as tight of a roll as possible.
12. Take a sharp knife or a bread knife, and cut the big lavash roll into 1″-1.5″ small rolls.
13. On a baking tray, lay parchment paper and place the cut lavash samosa rolls flat.
14. Once the oven is ready, keep the baking tray inside the oven.
15. Flip the samosa rolls after 15 mins (or browning/crisping of edges) to bake from the other side.
16. Enjoy samosa rolls with Green Chutney .

Cabbage with Peas

What, Cabbage as an Entree and not in a Salad? Yes, and it is common in India. Not to forget the benefits of cabbage for your body with the benefits of spices. Make it an easy wrap using your leftover Pita bread.



1/2 cabbage head; finely chopped and washed
1 cup frozen peas; thawed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 asafoetida (Hing)
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/2 Garam Masala
1 tbsp of coriander powder
1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)



1. Take a medium size saucepan and heat the saucepan on medium heat.
2. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and asafoetida. Stir them until they start spurting.
3. Add red chili powder, Garam Masala, coriander powder, and salt. Stir for few seconds.
4. Add chopped cabbage. Stir well along with the spices in the saucepan.
5. Add peas to the saucepan.
6. Mix cabbage and peas well. So cabbage and peas are covered with the spices.
7. Cover the lid of the saucepan.
8. Check cabbage and peas after every 3-4 mins.
9. Cook until cabbage is soft to eat.
10. Serve it hot and enjoy this green healthy entree with your favorite roti or brown rice. Make a wrap or fill in a pita or a sandwich.

Spinach with Corn

Why is this so special? It brings the nutritional benefits of spinach and corn together in a non-salad entree. How great is that! The pureed Spinach with the twist of Indian spices makes it very appealing even for kids. The corn attracts them and also add the color contrast to the entree. Kids and I love eating this with Indian roti and sometimes finish it off with brown rice or quinoa.


5 cups spinach; washed, blanched and pureed
1 1/2 cup cooked corn; thawed
1 medium onion; pureed
2 Roma tomatoes; pureed
2 garlic cloves; chopped
1 tbsp ginger; chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt (adjust according to taste)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp Garam Masala
1/4 tsp of red chili powder
1/2 tsp of coriander powder
1/3 cup water
1/2 Serrano pepper (optional)


1. Heat a medium-size saucepan.
2. Add cumin seeds. Stir them to turn light brown in color.
3. In a blender add onion, ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. Blend to make a puree.
4. Add onion puree to the saucepan. Stir puree for 5-7 mins.
5. In a blender, make tomato puree.
6. Add tomato puree to the onion puree in the saucepan. Mix well.
7. Add salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, red chili powder, and coriander powder to the onions and tomatoes. Stir all the ingredients until the water from the onion and tomato puree is evaporated.
8. Add spinach puree to the onion and tomato paste. Stir for 2 mins.
9. Add corn to spinach in the saucepan. Mix well.
10. Add 1/3 cup of water to the corn spinach. Mix it well.
11. Cover the saucepan with the lid.
12. Stir after every 3-5 mins for 10 mins.
13. Enjoy this dish with naan, roti, brown rice and quinoa.

Besan Shimla Mirch/Chickpea Flour Green Bell Pepper

What’s in the name!! This dish is a quick and easy to prepare something when you have nothing else in your fridge other than Green Bell Pepper aka ‘Shimla Mirch‘ in northern parts of India. Quick roast with Chickpea Flour aka Besan and also readily available at your local Indian store or Amazon. Enjoy as a side to other main course entrees or with roti or make a wrap


2 green bell peppers; chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp fennel seeds powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
1/3 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup of waterRotis/Breads

1. Heat a small saucepan with a low setting of the stove
2. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric powder, fennel seeds powder, salt, and chickpea flour to the saucepan. Stir for 5-7 mins or as soon as it changes color to light brown.
3. Add bell pepper to chickpea flour with water. Mix well.
4. Cover the saucepan with the lid and cook the bell pepper.
5. Keep checking after every 2-3 mins until bell pepper is soft.
6. Enjoy besan shimla mirch with roti or make a wrap.

Papdi Chaat/’Indian Style Loaded Crackers’

Last time I made Papdi Chaat, I prepared the ‘nachos’/’crackers’ from scratch as I could not find crackers in the market which were oil-free and prepared with acceptable ingredients. I was walking through the isles of my local grocery store and I came across ‘Mary’s Gone Crackers’.

I had so many ideas going through my head on how I could use them. I started with Papdi Chaat as this is not only favorite but my kids favorite too.


1 15oz can chickpeas; drained
20 Mary Crackers [no oil]
1 large potato; boiled, peeled and cubed
1 medium size red onion; finely chopped
1/2 cup non dairy yogurt; whisked
2-3 tbsp green chutney (adjust to taste)
2-3 tbsp date chutney (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 cayenne pepper; finely chopped (optional)
1 serrano pepper; finely chopped(optional)
3-4 tbsp cilantro leaves; finely chopped


1. Take a flat serve ware of your choice and lay the Mary crackers.
2. In a bowl take yogurt and whisk it to make yogurt smooth and easy to drizzle on the crackers.
3. Drizzle yogurt on the crackers.
4. Spread half cubed potato and half the quantity of chickpeas on the crackers.
5. Drizzle 2-3 tbsp of yogurt on chickpeas and potatoes.
6. Now Drizzle green chutney and then date chutney.
7. Garnish with roasted cumin powder, onions, cilantro, and Serrano or cayenne pepper.

• you can always increase or decrease the quantity of yogurt and chutney’s depending on the taste buds of your family.

Pinto Bean Tostadas

It is time for Taco Tuesday in my family where I get to make something from the Mexican and Latin American kitchens. This time I wanted to adventure into Tostadas. The Mexican pallet is so close to the Indian pallet with the ingredients and spices. I am no expert in Mexican cooking but I manage my way through with the help of my peers on online. My family likes it.

– 1 Cup Pinto Beans; Soaked 7-8 hours or 1 can Pinto Beans
– 1/3 Cup Green Bell Pepper; Chopped
– 1 tbsp garlic; finely chopped
– 1 tbsp jalapeno; finely chopped
– 1 small white onion; finely chopped
– 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
– 2 tbsp Cholula Hot Sauce or Any preferred Mexican Hot Sauce
– Sea Salt (to taste)
Yellow Corn Tortilla (Any number of pieces you prefer)

– Finely Chopped (Raddish, Jalapeño, Red Cabbage, Cilantro, Red or White Onion)

– Boil the soaked beans with 2 cups of water or if you using pre-prepared beans, drain the water from the beans.
– Heat the small size saucepan on medium heat.
– Add onions and garlic together. Cook for 5-7 mins. Notice onions turning light brown in color. Add a few spoons of water if sticking to the saucepan.
– Add chopped green bell pepper to the saucepan and cook with onions.
– Add and mash the pinto beans with chopped jalapeño in the saucepan
– Add sea salt, apple cider vinegar, and Cholula sauce to the vegetables and beans. Mix all the ingredients.
– Cover the lid and cook for 3-4mins.
– (In the meanwhile) preheat oven to 350 F degrees and toast the yellow corn tortilla. Time may depend on brand and type of Tortilla. Please monitor to make sure it’s crisp.
– On the crisp tortilla, spread few spoons of retried beans and garnish with your choice of toppings.


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