Cluster beans fry
I was so delighted when I found cluster-beans in the nearby Indian store (never seen 'em there before!). It is one of my favorite vegetables, maybe because of its sheer rarity in my life. Back home too, we hardly get to eat it, as my parents gave up this vegetable during their trip to the holy city of Kashi (Varanasi).


Ingredients:

cluster beans - 500 grams
chilli powder -  1/2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
turmeric powder - a pinch
mustard seeds - 1 tsp
cumin seeds - 1 tsp
black gram (urad dal) - 1 tsp
asafoetida - a pinch
salt - 3/4 tsp (adjust according to taste)
oil - 1 tbsp

Method:

Finely chop cluster beans. Heat oil in a pan with mustard, cumin and black gram. When it splutters, add asafoetida, trumeric, salt and chilli powder. Add cluster beans immediately and mix well. Fry with a little water until cooked.
Cabbage Uthappam (Savory pancake)
This is a simple variant of the south-Indian starter (well, I'm using the term a little loosely here....it is very filling by itself!). The cabbage adds a touch of crispiness (and health!) to the delicious pancake.


Ingredients (makes 6 to 8 uthappams):

thick Dosa batter - about 250 grams
grated cabbage - 150 grams
finely chopped green chillies - 2

oil for frying

Method:

Pour batter on a warm frying pan. Spread cabbage and chillies. Add a teaspoon of oil around the uttappam. Cook on low heat until golden brown. Flip and cook for a couple of minutes. Serve hot with chutney.
Cumin-Pepper rasam
This rasam does not contain tamarind and is very good especially when suffering from a cold. My husband doesn't like rasam, but when he is sick, this becomes his favorite food!


Ingredients:

tomatoes - 2 large
split yellow pigeon peas (toor dal) - 1 tbsp
whole black pepper - 1 tsp
cumin seeds - 1 tsp
carom seeds - 1/2 tsp
clarified butter (ghee) - 1 tsp
mustard seeds - 1 tsp
oil - a few drops
fresh coriander leaves - a few

Method:

Fry red gram, pepper, cumin and ajwain in ghee and allow to cool. Dry grind in a mixer and keep aside. Cut tomatoes and blend into a pulp. Boil tomato pulp and pepper mixture in 2 cups of water. Fry mustard in oil and when it splutters, add to the rasam. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
Veggie Pasta
Who doesn't like Italian food? Well, this flavorful, healthy pasta is one of my regular weeknight dinner recipes. Light, yet filling, it is just perfect!


Ingredients:

whole grain pasta (rotini) - 2 cups
diced carrots + peas - 1/2 cup
yellow squash (cut) - 1
pasta sauce - 7 tbsp
olive oil - 1 tbsp
oregano - 1 tsp
basil - 1 tsp
juice of half a lemon
grated parmesan cheese - 2 tsp
freshly ground pepper
salt to taste

Method:

Boil pasta, carrots and peas in water until cooked and drain. (Do not use a lot of water, and try not to throw it away - it has nutrients!) Fry pasta sauce in olive oil for a minute along with squash, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and a teaspoon of cheese. Add cooked pasta and vegetables. Stir well for a couple of minutes and remove from fire. Squeeze lemon and serve with a topping of the remaining cheese.
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