Vermicelli Biryani


I am sucker for sweets, especially North Indian sweets. So when my stock of pedas ran out in August, one that my long suffering wife had replenished on a trip to India in July, I was looking for my sweet fix. With the Eid season here, I started thinking back to my childhood and the dry Sevian (Vermicelli) dessert that some of our family friends used to make around Eid. So I decided to try my hand at making some.

Before I got there though, the wife called and reminded me that I had dinner duties that night. Since I was already at the Indian store and had procured the aforementioned Vermicelli, I decided to repurpose it to making a Biryani. Armed with a handful of vegetables, I got to work. I looked to the great sage Sanjeev Kapoor’s and Vahrevah chef’s websites for guidance and put a dish together. The verdict was that the dish was – Meh! It filled but didn’t satisfy. I did try it again a couple of days later and ate it with some Egg Curry and it tasted a lot better. So, in my opinion, it works very well as an accompanying rice-substitute dish but not so well as a main dish.


2 Tbsp Oil (I used EVOO)

1 Tbsp Black Mustard Seeds

12-14 Curry Leaves

1/2 Medium Onion – diced

1 medium Carrot – peeled and cut into bite sized chunks

3 small round eggplants chopped into bite sized pieces

1 cup frozen Green Peas

1 cup Soy chunks (Nutrela) – cooked according to instructions

1.5 Tbsp Coriander Powder

1 Tbsp Turmeric

Salt to taste

1 cup dry roasted Vermicelli

2 cups water


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  2. Add the mustard seeds till they start to sputter
  3. Add the curry leaves
  4. Add the onion till they are transparent
  5. Add all the veggies and soy chunks, coriander powder, turmeric and salt
  6. Saute till the eggplants just start to darken
  7. Add the vermicelli and mix well
  8. Add two cups of water and increase the heat
  9. Evaporate the water off while constantly agitating the mixture
  10. Voila! you are done


Leave a comment

Filed under Indian, Uncategorized

Spinach Corn Sandwiches – a Veggie Sandwich idea

Being ovo-lacto vegetarians with two kids to send lunch for, we are always on the lookout for creative takes on sandwiches. One of the surprisingly best sources for new ideas has been India. More specifically, the airline food in India.

If you think of it, given that nearly 40% of Indians are ovo-lacto vegetarians, every food establishment in India has to necessarily have a very comprehensive vegetarian offering. Airlines are no different. And given the fact they have to come up with easy meals, there are many a creative sandwich options to be had. On my last trip, I had a Spinach Corn Sandwich that was quite good. I made a note of it in my journal and then promptly forgot about it till last week. When faced with a severely depleted fridge and the prospect of making lunch for the four of us, one had to get creative. Fortunately, I remembered this sandwich in time. So, using frozen spinach and corn, this meal was put together. And it was good.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Spinach and Corn sandwich.

INGREDIENTS (I apologize for the lack of exact amounts of Spinach and Corn)

1 1/2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

1 Tbsp White Flour



Black Pepper

Frozen Spinach

Frozen Corn Kernels

Shredded Cheese

Sliced Bread of your liking


  1. Make a roux with the Butter, Flour and Milk – Heat the butter on medium heat and add the flour. Stir and cook for about 4 mins. It shouldn’t start to brown.
  2. Add milk and stir till a thick paste is formed. Add more milk to get a thick cream consistency.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add Spinach and Corn and cook for another 7-8 minutes. The mixture should have a thick spreadable consistency. Adjust seasoning.
  5. Toast two slices of bread.
  6. Spread the Spinach Corn mix on one slice and top with shredded cheese.
  7. Cover with the other slice and enjoy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Indian

Recycling Beet Greens – an idea for Pasta

Beet Greens Pasta

Beet Greens Pasta

I often make Beet based veggie burgers (recipe here). They are pretty awesome. Having not eaten them in a while, I’d asked the missus to pick up some Beets when she went to the grocery store. She came back with the few that still had their leafy greens attached to them. After disregarding the initial impulse of chopping and discarding them, I did some diging and realized that these greens are very rich in nutrients and can be cooked.

So following a basic recipe that I found in NY Times (here) I made them today. The greens definitely fall on the Spinach end of the taste spectrum but taste much richer. I tossed them with some Penne and sent it for lunch with the kiddos today.

The kids liked it. Given the pickiness of our older daughter that is a pretty resounding endorsement.

If you haven’t had them, they are well worth a try especially given how easy they are to cook.


Leave a comment

Filed under Catch-all

Freezer-friendly Tofu/Kale Wraps


Looking for a second idea for our Mother’s Day bunch, my brother-in-law and I chanced upon this one. At a first glance it looked boring and bland. But our wives are suckers for healthy food and this one had Kale AND Tofu! So, we decided to make it (link to recipe here).

The recipe IS bland. However, when eaten with a nice salsa (here is one idea), it tastes pretty good. Second, use real cheese if you are not vegan. It significantly cuts down time and you don’t have to go hunting down nutritional yeast.


Leave a comment

Filed under Catch-all

Herby Paneer Parcels – a BBQ idea for Vegetarians

Herby Paneer Parcels

Herby Paneer Parcels

My brother-in-law and I have a tradition of sorts. For the past few years, every Mother’s Day, he and I get together and cook brunch for our better halves. This year, we started out by thinking of doing a grill-based brunch. However, lacking time and ideas, we ended up with just one dish that used the grill. And it was this one.

Surprisingly easy to make, it tastes great. The trick is to really get the paneer (recipe here) to marinate. With summer and Memorial Day approaching, I thought I’d put this out there as an idea to throw in a vegetarian BBQ dish in the mix.

For a change I followed the recipe to a T so here is the link for it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Indian

“Caprese” Sandwich with Goat Cheese

Goat Cheese Caprese

Goat Cheese Caprese

First off, let me apologize for the significant reduction in the frequency of posting on this blog. We began a new business venture last year and that has taken up a lot of my bandwidth. I will continue posting here but the frequency will be 1-2 posts a month.

This recipe was born really out of the desire to use up ingredients that were in the fridge. As you know, we are big fans of pizza in our house and lately we have switched to using grape/cherry tomatoes for Margherita Pizza since you can then get bite sized tomato pieces everytime you eat a slice. Plus, the flavor is actually pretty good. The idea came from, believe it or not, a railway station pizza from “Alice” in Florence (that was probably the best pizza I had in Italy). Anyway, after the last pizza session, there were a lot of tomatoes left over, as was a significant amount of goat cheese from the Kale Cranberry Salad (recipe here) and some french bread.

NOTE: Before I get the purists riled up, let me state this is not a Caprese sandwich. A true Caprese uses Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil. However, it definitely is a close cousin to it.

Anyway, back to the story – when life gives you cheese, tomatoes and bread – you make sandwiches. Which is exactly what I did. I made a little salad using Grape Tomatoes and then using Goat Cheese, made a sandwich. The result was pretty good and well worth a try. The salad was simple – Grape Tomatoes (sliced in thirds), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, shredded Basil leaves and some salt and pepper. The bread was a French Baguette and the cheese was Chevre.

Give it a try. I think you will like it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italian

Paneer Banh Mi/Paneer Tikka


A few weeks back, the wife was craving a Banh Mi. I do make a pretty decent Vegetarian version (recipe here) which tastes even better with a homemade pickle (recipe here) but being the constant tinkerer of recipes that I am, I refused to just go ahead and make the Tofu Banh Mi that my wife had asked for (and she had asked very nicely) and decided to use Paneer instead of Tofu as my protein.

A few searches on the net did not yield much by way of ideas, so I thought of just making Paneer Tikkas and using them instead of Tofu. Paneer Tikkas done right, for those of you who haven’t had them, are vegetarian’s answer to BBQ heaven. The best I have ever had were at the Bukhara restaurant in Delhi but I was fortunate enough to find a great recipe for them in J Inder Singh Kalra’s seminal book “Prashad” (Side note – this is a must-have book for lovers of Indian food, especially those that like dead animals. There is not a bad recipe in the book.). How did they turn out? The Paneer Tikkas were great. Did they work in a Banh Mi? Not so much. I think I’m going back to the Tofu for now.

Here is the slightly modified  J Inder Singh Kalra recipe for Paneer Tikkas. It works really well but I wouldn’t try and get cute with the Tikkas again by using them to make sandwiches.


1 3/4 lbs Paneer (recipe here)

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp Ajwain (Caraway) seeds

2 tsp Garam Masala

1/2 tsp Black Pepper powder

1/2 tsp Turmeric


1 1/2 tsp Kasoori Methi (Fenugreek)

For the batter:

1 Egg

3 Tbsp Gramflour (Besan)

1/2 Cup Cream



  1. Cut the Paneer in chunks of about 2″X2″X1″. Evenly sprinkle cumin, ajwain, 1 1/2 tsp Garam Masala, Pepper, Turmeric and Salt.
  2. Whisk egg in a bowl and mix in other ingredients of the batter into it.
  3. Put Paneer into this batter and let it marinade for about 45 minutes.
  4. In the meantime – fire up a grill (or use an oven at about 350F)
  5. Skewer the Paneer about an inch apart – you can put some raw onion to separate the Paneer – and grill (or bake) for about 10 minutes (14-16 minutes in an oven) or so – you’ll see the Paneer starting to bubble and blacken. TIP: Raise the skewer by placing the two ends on two fireproof blocks of some sort – bricks or tile perhaps. It will ensure the Paneer doesn’t stick to the grate after it is done.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining Garam Masala and KAsoori Methi and enjoy with some Green Chutney.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Spaghetti with Tomato Crudo

Spaghetti and Tomato Crudo

Spaghetti and Tomato Crudo

Every cuisine around the world has its comfort food. To my limited knowledge almost all of Italian food feels like comfort food. It tastes great, is simple to make, is unpretentious and hits all the right spots. This recipe is a classic example of what, to me, defines comfort food.

Crudo in Italian means “Raw”. Traditional Crudo dishes tend to involve dead animals. For instance, you have Sea Bass Crudo and Salmon Crudo. However, we discovered to our delight that there is also a Pomodoro Crudo. This dish is a hearty sauce made with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil and served with Spaghetti.  The “raw” in this dish comes from using fresh tomatoes. The last time we had Pomodoro Crudo was at Rathskeller in Fredricksburg in the Texas Hill Country over the New Year and I had been itching to make it since then.

Even though Rathskeller calls the dish Crudo, they did not use fresh tomatoes. Since we are in the middle of winter, I decided to use canned tomatoes as well –  I started with my trusted favorite – Red Gold Diced Tomatoes. A little plug for Red Gold here. For Italian cooking, they are a great option to the more expensive Italian imported tomatoes. They are not available everywhere, but if you can find them, do give them a try. And, I just discovered, they have a tie up with Huy Fong (the Rooster sauce people) and make a Sriracha Ketchup as a joint initiative – Red Gold, which was already a favorite with me, has gone up several more notches in my book. Bravo!

The recipe itself is very basic but it makes for a very hearty meal. Here goes.

INGREDIENTS (for 4 people)

Good quality extra virgin Olive Oil – use generously – 3-4 Tbps

Chili Flakes – about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp – to taste

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 14.5 oz can of no-salt added diced tomatoes

Sea Salt – to taste

Some fresh ground black pepper – to taste

Some torn fresh basil (if you have it. I didn’t) or Dry Basil

Spaghetti – cooked al dente – as per instructions on the packet

Parmigiano Reggiano


  1. Heat the Olive Oil in a saucepan
  2. Add the chili flakes and garlic cloves and cook till the cloves are just starting to change color
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook till they are heated through and soft – about 8 mins
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Add the cooked spaghetti and cook till it is hot. Add torn Basil (or dry Basil if you like)
  6. Serve hot and grate some Parmigiano Reggiano on top if you feel like it.
  7. Finish eat and then repeat from Step 1.





Leave a comment

Filed under Italian

Instant Pickle for Banh Mi

Instant Pickle for Banh Mi

Instant Pickle for Banh Mi

I am a huge fan of Banh Mi and make a pretty decent vegetarian version of it (recipe here). The wife was feeling like a Banh MI recently and I was feeling adventurous so I decided to make a Paneer Banh Mi instead of the usual Tofu version. It was good but not great. Recipe will follow soon. It makes for a nice change. However in my quest for finding a Paneer Banh Mi recipe ( I found one that didn’t look that great), I stumbled upon a Vegetarian Banh Mi recipe that called for making your own pickle, imagine that! Anyway, I didn’t need much more motivation and never being the one to follow recipes I made my own. It was a revelation. It was better than fantastic and I am never going back to store bought pickles for Banh Mi again. In fact the pickle is so good, you can use it on any type of sandwich. The recipe is simplicity itself.

INGREDIENTS (for a decent batch of pickle – enough for over a dozen sandwiches)

Two medium carrots – peeled and sliced into thick slices

6-8 small radishes – sliced into thick slices

1 large Jalapeno – sliced into thick slices

1/4 cup Rice Vinegar

1/4 cup White Vinegar

1/2 tsp Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt (add more if you like, the pickle should be salty but not over-salty)


  1. Mix it all in a jar
  2. Let it sit for at least a couple of hours
  3. Use as you like

1 Comment

Filed under Catch-all

A couple of tips for Veggie Chili

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash

While we cook a lot at home, there clearly was a repetitiousness that had crept into our menus. So a few months back we started using Green Chef every other week for a few meals. For those of you who don’t know, Green Chef is a meal prep service where they ship you the recipe and ingredients for making a meal with the appropriate portions apportioned out and you do the assembly and cooking. It has been good to have these meals for a change.  While not every meal has been to our liking, there have been a few that have absolutely stood out. One of these was the Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash.

As some of you know, I have been making Chili for a while and have posted some recipes (click here, here and here) on this blog. The chili usually turns out well and is pretty easy to make. However, there were a few things that the Green Chef recipe did, that took this particular recipe to a different level.

  1. Adding more body – The recipe used peeled, shredded butternut squash in the body. It made for a slightly sweeter chili but it was thicker.
  2. The Chile in the Chili – A paste of tomato and chipotle was added to add some flavorful heat. I suspect Chipotle in Adobo sauce will do nicely (it is available in most Mexican stores)
  3. Baked Tortilla Strips – The recipe called for tossing corn tortilla strips in Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper. They were awesome and made a great alternative to fried tortilla chips (or strips) usually used. They were so good, that my younger daughter couldn’t stop eating them and wanting me to make an entire batch for her to eat with Salsa and Guacamole.

I will definitely post another Chili recipe incorporating these ideas into my recipe. But since I have been a slacker at posts lately, I thought I’d post some ideas for you guys to try instead of waiting to have a full blown recipe.


Leave a comment

Filed under Catch-all