South Indian Feast – Vegan Spinach Sambar, Ridge gourd Kootu and Potato fry

My parents are from Tamil Nadu, one of the south-Indian states where food is such a big deal. My mum still makes 5-6 different varieties of food for every single meal meal of the day. I guess it was what my granny insisted to do 🙂 No wonder I hit my 94 kilo mark 😛  I have no clue what got into me this afternoon, I decided to make a south Indian food. I am not really good at it cos there are so many techniques. My mum usually teaches me short-cuts to get the taste spot on-1st time in my life-I got it perfect 😀

Menu: Vegan Spinach Sambar, Ridge gourd Kootu and Potato fry– All Tamil based.


3 main ingredients are mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves and they are an excellent combo. 99% of Indians go gaga over Sambar. I am in the top 10. If you have been reading my blog, you would have read me mentioning Sambar powder atleast 5 times. I use them even in North Indian curries 😛 Sambar is a tangy tamarind based curry with lentils. Every south-Indian state make their own version of sambar. You don’t get it as a curry as such in any Indian restaurant but you can get it served as an accompaniment with dosa (the lentil-rice gluten-free crepes).  Kootu literally translates to ‘mix’. Vegetables are mixed with lentils with a coconut-based curry paste. Potato fry-yep normal ones with Indian spices 🙂

Here you go with the recipes

Potato Fry:


  • Boiled potatoes-chopped into chunks-4 medium ones
  • Mustard seeds-1 tsp
  • Oil-1 Tbsp
  • Asafoetida-a pinch
  • Salt- needed
  • Chickpea flour-1 tsp
  • Chilli powder-as needed-1 tsp
  • Coriander powder-as needed-2 tsp
  • Curry leaves- few


Heat oil in a NON-STICK pan, add mustard seeds, curry leaves (stand at an one arm distance or run away and come back-they pop everywhere), asafoetida goes in, take pan off heat and all every spice powder except chickpea powder, keep on heat for 4-5 seconds to heat the spices and add potatoes in. Flame to low now. Toss and let it roast. Add chickpea flour after 5 mins and roast until crisp.

Ridge Gourd  Kootu:


  • Ridge gourd- peeled, de-seeded and chopped fine
  • Turmeric-1/2 tsp
  • Yellow lentils (preferred) /Split pigeon pea-pressure cooked-mushy consistency-1 cup
  • Chilli powder-to taste
  • Salt-to taste
  • Grind(2 tbsp coconut and 1 tsp cumin seeds) into a fine paste
  • You also need 2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, few curry leaves and black lentils (de-husked and split-optional), a pinch asafoetida


  • In a saucepan, add 1.5 cups water, heat it, add turmeric, salt, chili powder and when it is about to boil, add the ridge gourd in. Once the squash is soft, add ground curry paste and lentils in and wait it boils.
  • Transfer it to the serving bowl and in the same pan, add oil, once it heats up add mustard seeds, let them pop, add asafoetida, lentils and curry leaves-wait until lentils turn brown and pour them over the curry 🙂 Yum 🙂

Palak/Spinach Sambar


  • Spinach- 500 gms-finely chopped
  • 2 onions-finely chopped
  • Garlic-5 pods-chopped fine
  • 2 tomatoes-blend them
  • Tamarind paste-1.5 tsp mixed in 2 cups of water
  • Turmeric-1 tsp
  • Sambar powder-1 tbsp+2 tsp
  • Chili powder-1 tsp
  • Salt-to taste
  • Curry leaves-a sprig
  • Asafoetida-2 pinches
  • Mustard seeds-2 tsp
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Split Pigeon pea-1.5 cups cooked-very mushy
  • Dry red chili-2-split


  • In a stockpot, add 1 tbsp oil, mustard seeds, asafoetida, once they pop, add split red chilies, curry leaves, after they splutter, add onions and garlic, little salt, saute until brown, add spinach leaves, turmeric, 2 tsp sambar masala and fry until spinach is cooked.
  •  Time to add blended tomatoes, rest of sambar masala, chili powder and let the tomatoes boil.
  • After a couple of minutes, add tamarind water, salt and let it boil on an open flame for more than 10-12 minutes until tamarind cooks well [I guess I add too much tamarind cos I love it tangy-you might have to lessen this quantity]
  • Now, add lentils and let it just boil and take it off heat 🙂
  • Amazing sambar 🙂



Vegan Cauliflower and Spinach Rice-Indian Style

Saw this recipe in one of my cookbooks and made this today. It was easy to make and guess the spice mix I used-Channa masala powder 🙂 And recently I have fallen in love with this new spice mix-Kitchen King masala-which adds this awesome flavor to everything you add it to. The best part is that it tastes different in different recipes. MDH brand Kitchen King masala is the best in case you are planning to get one 🙂


Cook Basmati rice (1 cup rice: 2 cups water) When the rice is cooking, break 1/4 cauliflower head into tiny florets and add it to boiling salted water for it to cook-around take it out when it is  70% done. Meanwhile, chop 1 onion, grate a small piece of ginger, few garlic cloves, 2 handful of spinach leaves, slit 2 green chillies, break a handful of cashews into tiny bits. You could add frozen green peas


In a big pan/wok(which would fit the cooked rice-cos you’d have to mix them in this), heat a Tbsp of oil,2 cloves, a cinnamon stick, a cardamom and a bay leaf, a tsp of mustard seeds, wait for them to crackle, add curry leaves, green chillies, cashews and let them brown. Time to add onions, salt and let them brown. Then add grated ginger, garlic and spinach and let them cook for a couple of mintutes. Drain the semi-cooked cauliflower and add it in, throw in some frozen green peas, add a tbsp of channa masala, a tsp of kitchen king masala, 1/2 tsp of chili powder, more salt, fry for a minute or so, add 1/2 cup of water , cover the wok and let the masala cook. More water if needed if you feel the masala is unboiled. Once it is done and if you have a watery consistency, on high flame, keep the wok open and let the water evaporate. Add the cooked rice in, more salt and toss until the masala coats well on the rice. That’s it.. Serve with any curry of your choice.

p.s: I have highlighted the ingredients you need 🙂


Vegan Tofu Matar

Matar Paneer WAS my favorite. Usually loaded with butter and cream though 😦 It is a Punjabi curry- from a state which has one of the biggest vegetarian population in India but they are very much into dairy though, especially ghee. That’s probably the reason for the taste 🙂 What I have made here is a replica of the curry with Tofu. I refrained myself from adding cashew cream to keep it light. I probably should have added at least a Tbsp of the cashew cream- Missed the creaminess 😦

Now, time to talk about tomatoes in curry. Personally, I like to boil water in a saucepan, add tomatoes in (yep, whole) and close the lid, let it boil for 5 mins on high heat, turn off heat, leave the pan for another 5 mins. Take tomatoes, peel skin off, chop them and use them in the curry. Better color, lesser cooking time, more flavor. If you think that it is a lot of work, forget what I said and chop the tomatoes very fine and use them. Choice is yours 🙂

Matar Tofu1

You need these awesome ingredients:

  • Tofu-1 block-cubed-Medium Firm-[NO EXTRA FIRM TOFU PLEASE]
  • 2 tsp Sambar powder and 1 tsp cornstarch to coat tofu
  • Green peas-frozen-a handful
  • Red onion-1.5-finely chopped
  • Ginger and Garlic-1 Tbsp each grated very fine
  • Tomatoes-3
  • Sambar masala-1.5 heaped teaspoon
  • Coriander leaves-finely chopped-2 Tbsp
  • Garam masala-1/2 tsp
  • Salt-as needed
  • Oil-a tbsp
  • Cumin seeds-a tsp
  • Kasoori Methi 2 pinches
  • Organic Raw Sugar-1 tsp



  • Cube Tofu and coat with 2 tsp Sambar powder and 1 tsp cornstarch and pan roast them and keep them aside. Pierce them with toothpick so that the curry’s flavor gets in.
  • In a saucepan that comes with a lid, add oil, cumin seeds, onion and fry until golden brown and now add ginger and garlic.
  • Once you start getting the aroma, add the tomato in what ever form you like. Add sambar powder, turmeric powder,garam masala and fry until the mixture starts to boil. Add some water (1.5 cup), salt and let it boil for 5-7 mins. Add tofu and green peas, kasoori methi,more salt, sugar, close and cook for 5-7 mins.
  • If the curry is very watery, add a tsp of cornstarch dissolved in water and add that. Top with coriander leaves and finely chopped raw onions.
  • For richer version of the curry add some cashew cream 🙂

P.S: The miniature fellas are hedgehogs having an afternoon tea 🙂


Microwave Quick Cake [Vegan Gluten-free Mug Cake]

I teach IT at few universities in Sydney. One of the topics I teach is Video editing where kids work as a group. I had a group who made a mug cake video and they were international students from China. I kept bothering them so much that yesterday one of the girls gave me a vegan version of the cake 🙂 As you probably know by now, I am bad with measurements. I had a big and a smaller spoon. Assumed the bigger one to be a Tbsp and smaller one to be a tsp. With my measurements, this recipe was better than what I thought it would have turned out to be :P.


Before I type the recipe here, there are two things which I need to let you guys know

1) There is something missing-If you make it and find out-Let me know-My friends reckon it tastes amazing-probably it is just me

2) I have no clue from where the recipe was taken-So let me if it is your’s. I will reference the recipe 🙂

Here it goes

Dry Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp-Gluten-free flour/White flour
  • 3 Tbsp natural sweetener/raw sugar
  • 1/4 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • A pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp+ 1 to 2 tsp cocoa powder

Mix them really well in a mug/separate bowl


Wet Ingredients

  • Few drops Vanilla essence
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil [The ones that are not strong in flavor]-Very Important
  • 1 Tbsp Apple Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp+[more Almond Milk as needed]

To the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients one after the other. Once you add everything to the mug, mix them all well. Keep adding almond milk as needed to get a normal cake batter. Microwave until it is cooked-It took 2 mins 20 seconds in my $10 microwave. Your could be quicker.

Let me know how it turns out 🙂 Good Luck




Vegan Tomato Lentil Soup

Chantal Brodrick is a personal trainer based in Sydney.I met her last March(2012) and ever since my weight has been dropping down 🙂  I should say the classes with her at my local gym was the turning point of my healthier life. 🙂 Love her classes-so much energy in there 🙂 Thank you so much Chantal for everything you have done. This is one of the vegetarian recipes Chantal had given me when I mentioned to her that I am vegan. I have veganised it and it’s so healthy 🙂

You need

  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 3 tomatoes-blend in a blender
  • 2-3 sun-dried tomatoes-finely chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable stock+ extra water (if needed)
  • 1 onion-finely chopped
  • 1 garlic-finely chopped
  • Salt& Pepper-as needed
  • 2 tsp rice bran oil
  • Coriander/parsely- few leaves finelt chopped
  • Turkish bread



  • In a stock-pot , heat oil, add onion, garlic and fry until onion is soft.
  • Add in Kale and spinach-fry until they shrink
  • Add lentils, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, vegetable stock and bring it to boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 mins until lentils are creamy and soft.
  • You could blend it for finer texture but I love it as it is.
  • Serve with Turkish bread 🙂

Vegan Chocolate Pudding-only 6 ingredients

Raw vegan, Gluten-free, amazing, tasty, healthy, no sugar, list could go on, on and on 🙂


This is the easiest pudding. Only 6 ingredients 🙂 -takes 5 mins to make. This was such a big hit today even with my non-vegan buddies. It is so light, fluffy pudding-the entire contents disappeared in seconds 😀 No one believed there was avocado in it. 🙂

This serves:2-3, but 1 chocoholic could finish it 😛

  • Dates-5-6/more depending on sweetness you like
  • Medium Banana-3
  • Medium Avocado-1
  • Cacao powder-2-3 Tbsp-depending on how chocolaty you like
  • Peanut butter-1/4 cup-add more if you like
  • Almond milk/Water-to ease the blending process

Yep, put them all in to a blender. Add almond milk as you need and process until fluffy. Yummy pudding. Easy-isn’t it? Try this and let me know how you like it 🙂 That tiny cup fills you 🙂


Vegan Quinoa Flakes Kheer

After more than a year of going vegan, it was today- for the first time I craved kheer. Kheer is a traditional milk-based dessert served in 99% of Indian weddings. Yep, a very big deal. I made two types of Kheers today-One using rice flakes and the other one with quinoa flakes. Quinoa won by a big margin 🙂 I am usually bad with measurements and kheer is more of how you like it. It took 10-15 mins for me to do this amazing dish 🙂  No oil, No condensed milk crap.


You need-Serves 1-2 people.

  • 1/4 cup cashews and 1/4 cup almonds soaked over night-blended with 1 cup water-That’s the cashew almond thick milk that you have.
  • Store bought organic almond milk-depends on how runny you want your kheer
  • Saffron-few strands (soaked in a tbsp of almond milk)
  • Seeds of 1 cardamom+10 pistachios+1 tsp organic raw sugar-in it goes into pestle and mortar
  • Quinoa/rice flakes -1/4 cup should do
  • Goji berries-1 tbsp
  • Organic raw sugar-depends on your taste buds-Atleast a couple of tbsp
  • Pinch of salt


To do

  • Heat a saucepan, add the flakes and goji berries, reduce the flame to low-medium and dry fry until you get the roasted smell.
  • Add the thick milk and little almond milk  and let the mixture come to boil. From this point on you keep adding almond milk cos the flakes consume milk like crazy
  • Add sugar, cardamom pistachio blend, saffron[try rubbing them,more flavor], salt and mix them all well. Again you would see this thicken , add more almond milk, let it sit for few seconds and transfer to a serving glass.
  • For presentation sake, in the same pan in which you make kheer, add a bit of sugar, pistachios, goji berries and a tsp of water until sugar caramelizes on pistachios. This is for the glaze 🙂 Top them on the kheer glass with few saffron strands.


Vegan Fijian Curry and Rice cooker Peas pulao

This is the fastest dinner I have ever made. I bought a couple of green plantains after reading a traditional Fijian curry recipe, one of my student’s mum’s signature dish. The combo of spices looked very much South Indian 🙂 So gave it a try. Also included is the recipe for a peas pulav which can be made in a rice cooker. Yeah, you read it right,  you don’t need the chunky pressure cooker to make this. And it is 2000 times better than what you get in Indian restaurants.

Fijian Curry

You need:

  • Cumin seeds-1/2 tsp
  • Fennel seeds-1/2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds-1/2 tsp
  • Poppy seeds-1/2 tsp
  •  Cloves-2
  •  Cinnamon-1 small stick
  •  4 red chilies
  •  4 garlic cloves
  •  3 almonds
  •  4 cashews
  •  Coconut- depends on how coconuty you want the flavor to be
  • One red onion-finely chopped
  • Green plantain- peeled and diced into cubes
  • Few green peas
  • 2 tsp oil
  • Mustard seeds-1 tsp
  • Curry leaves-few

For the curry paste, oil spray the pan and add cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, poppy seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, dry red chilies.Fry them until you get the aroma and blend with garlic, almonds,cashews into a fine paste. Sprinkle water if you want 🙂

Also blend some coconut to a fine paste.

In a pan, add oil, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, once they pop, add onion, fry until brown, add the plantain pieces, green peas, salt and fry for a couple of minutes, add the curry paste, fry well, more salt and 1/2 cup water and cover and cook until plantain is cooked (almost 90%) when you add the coconut paste in, more water if needed. Cover and cook until plantain is well done 🙂 That’s it.  🙂 Yum

Peas Pulav

This is the easiest rice you could do. Do you fancy the Indian peas pulav? No complex spices/No Masalas/No ginger/garlic. Yep Simple and a great accompaniment for any curries-Indian/not. For the rice(1.5 cup), you need to heat up 2 tsp of oil in a pan, add 2 cloves, cinnamon, 1 cardamom, a bay leaf and 2 green chillies slit and 3/4 of onion (very finely chopped), fry until transparent, add salt, frozen green peas(1/2 cup), few mint leaves( yep, this is important), more salt fry for a couple of minutes and add in rice, yeah uncooked rice and fry in oil for a couple of mins and transfer all the contents to a rice cooker. [Usually for a cup of rice, you add 2 cups of water :)] For this rice-1.5 cups, you add 2.5 cups water and 1 cup of light coconut milk. Add more salt, turn on the rice cooker and your end product will look like the picture below. And remember-NO long grained rice-Basmati is what you need 🙂 Oops, missed out cashews. Add them before onions for extra texture to your rice.

Your comment on photo will be very much appreciated 🙂


P.S: Thank you so much Celeste, for your food photography tips. Living in a shared accommodation, this is what I could do 🙂 You are a genius

Queen’s birthday no-bake cupcake- 50th post-Had to be something sweet

It was queen’s birthday yesterday. Made a cake for the queen (I ate it for the queen 😉 like 1/4 of this). Cos it is SOOOO filling) This is a 3 layer cupcake. This quantity makes 3 medium cupcakes, few peanut fudges, Almond dates pistachios balls and a double chocolate coconut pudding. I have ‘bolded’ the ingredients.


Layer 2: Peanut Fudge 🙂

Must be chilled before you start with layer 1. In a blender, blend 1/4 cup of natural sweetener.[This is a rough estimation depending on how sweet you want the fudge to be]. To 1/4th cup of peanut butter, add powdered sweetener slowly until it reaches dough consistency. Add a pinch of salt too. My peanut fudge became too sweet, so I added a tbsp of unhulled tahini to combat the sweetness 🙂 Make tiny balls (1/2 of a tiny lime size). Put them in the freezer to harden

p.s: If you have extra dough, shape them as fudge squares, chill and serve

Layer 1: Almond Dates Crust

Process 7-8 medjool dates, 1 cup almond meal, 1/4 cup pistachios, 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder, 2 pinches salt in a blender until they come together. That is your crust. Make few balls that would be sufficient to line cupcake molds. Once the lining is done, refrigerate the crust 🙂 With the remaining dough, make Almond dates pistachios balls, chill and serve

Layer 3: Double Choc pudding layer

To this add 125 gms chocolate chips, some vanilla from pod, a pinch of salt and a Tbsp of cocoa into pan. In a vessel, add 150-175 ml of coconut cream (I used fat reduced version) and heat it up until it bubbles around the corner. Pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute and start to mix them. If the chocolate doesn’t melt, use double boiling method to mix them all well. This is the pudding layer.


Take the crust out, add some pudding mix, one peanut fudge and cover with the rest of the pudding mix. Refrigerate and top with pistachio meal before serving 🙂 Rest of the pudding mix can be poured in a ramekin and chilled 🙂


Vegan Shahi Tofu

Shahi translates to ‘Wedding’ in Hindi. This is a rich curry served in weddings as ‘Shahi Paneer’- of course – non-vegan loaded with yogurt, cream, cottage cheese and butter. I tried a vegan version of this using tofu, cashew and coconut cream. Mine is better tasting than the non-vegan original version. 🙂 Is this what you call confidence? Anyways, it was easy to make. Just one spice powder-Shahi masala and 1 herb-Kasoori methi. So not really complicated.

You need

  • 2 onions-cubed
  • Garlic-5 pods
  • Ginger-a small piece
  • 2 tomatoes-cubed
  • Tofu-250 gms- I used a medium firm tofu
  • Cashews(40 gms)  soaked in 1/4 cup light coconut cream
  • Shahi paneer masala-1.5 tbsp + 2 tsp for tofu
  • Clove-2
  • Cinnamon-1
  • 1 green chili
  • Kasoori methi-2 pinches rubbed between index finger and palm to break it down
  • Pistachios, Almonds, sultanas- roasted in 1/2 tsp oil-for seasoning
  • oil-2 tsp
  • cumin seeds-1 tsp
  • Natural sweetener-1 tsp
  • salt-to taste


  • In a pan, add 1 tsp of oil, add cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, add onion,chili, garlic and ginger. Fry until transparent and add tomatoes in
  • Sprinkle water, add shahi masala, salt and let tomatoes soften. Transfer to a plate. Cool and blend to a fine paste
  • Meanwhile, blend cashews and coconut cream into a fine paste. Keep it aside
  • Also, cube the tofu, add 2 tsp shahi masala and fry until it is brown on the edges. [If extra firm is used-this step will toughen the tofu and make it rubbery. better to use medium firm tofu-It was too soft though and some of them crumbled. But tasted just like paneer]. Keep it aside
  • In a pan, add 1/2 tsp oil, add pistachios, almonds and sultanas, a cardamom and then the blended tomato paste in. Add salt if you want to and let it boil, add the cashew cream and let it thicken and now add kasoori methi, sweetener and mix them well.
  • Time to add tofu. Let it sit in the curry for 3-5 mins. Don’t stir and remove from heat 🙂
  • Increase the quantity of dry nuts/sultanas if you want a rich curry 🙂 Enjoy with cumin rice/any flat bread