In continuing my Mediterranean fusion expedition, I incorporated lupini beans into an Indian masala. These beans are beautiful, large legumes that look like they would bring a firm texture to any recipe.

Dried lupini beans

Dried lupini beans

Lupini beans have been popular snacks around the Mediterranean for two thousand years. They are most commonly eaten as a snack or condiment where they are soaked in brine and eaten with olives and pickles. Lupini beans are extremely bitter and toxic if cooked for an hour or so and eaten right away. To remove the toxin and bitter flavor, the beans must be soaked in water for 5 to 14 days, changing the water 3 or 4 times every day. After a week of soaking, start testing them daily to see if the bitterness had disappeared. It took 10 days for the bitterness to leave my beans.

Soaked lupini beans

Soaked lupini beans before the skins are removed

Once the bitterness is gone, lupini beans are very healthy to eat. They are unusually high in protein and fiber while low in carbohydrates. The texture of these beans is firm and meaty, and they retain their shape after cooking.

Since lupini beans are most often canned or pickled, I thought about roasting them in a spice mixture to eat as a snack, just like I do with chickpeas. After one trial experiment, I knew this was a bad idea. Lupini beans do not crisp up like chickpeas. I had to look for another approach – this time a more traditional Indian one.

My Lupini Masala combines favorite ingredients and spices into one healthy dish. After the lupine beans are cooked, I remove the skin. This is a fairly easy task since the beans are so large. Holding the bean in one hand, find the round hole on one side. Very close to it is a tiny slit. Using your fingernail pierce the skin between the to openings then simply pinch the opposite side of the bean to pop the bean out from the skin.

Lupini Bean Masala

Lupini Bean Masala combines Indian spices with lupini beans for a healthy vegetarian dish that is finished with flavors of Goa.

The beans are cooked in a special paste made from caramelized onion, ginger, garlic, chiles and tomatoes. The tomatoes break down as they cook to create a rich sauce for the beans. I let everything simmer until the sauce becomes thick and the flavors are absorbed into the ingredients.

After removing the Lupini Masala from the stove I season it with a bit of vinegar and sugar, two trademarks of Goan cuisine, to bring the flavors together. Lupini Masala can be served as a side dish or as a main dish for a vegetarian meal along with fresh naans or chapatis.

My recipe for Spiced Asparagus Wraps is new take on salads and Indian dosas. The traditional recipe for Masala Dosas is made with a rice pancake filled rich mashed potatoes. They are often served at weekend brunches at Indian restaurants around the country. They are incredibly delicious but heavy and loaded with calories.

Spiced Asparagus Wrap

Spiced Asparagus Wraps combine asparagus salad dressed in an Indian inspired vinaigrette that is served in traditional India dosas, rice pancakes.

This recipe was inspired by one created by Cristeta Comerford, the White House chef. With her healthy approach to eating, she prepared whole wheat crêpes filled with a shaved broccoli salad. I was immediately inspired to create something similar so Spiced Asparagus Wraps was created.

The recipe for the asparagus salad was easy to conceptualize. Blanched asparagus is combined with a few other healthy vegetables, including tomatoes, onion and edamame are lightly dressed with a garam masala vinaigrette.

Making the batter for the dosas is a time consuming process; it takes about 48 hours. The first step is to combine the rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds, then soak them in water overnight. The next day the water is drained off and the mixture is ground to a paste with the consistency of pancake batter. After the batter ferments over a second night, the dosas are ready to cook. It takes about 6 to 7 minutes to make each one. The recipe does require a bit of preplanning.

The salad is served wrapped in a dosa that is lightly seasoned with red chile and cumin. When I cook this version, I use a nonstick pan and use cooking spray to coat the pan. The dosas are lighter and much less oily.

Depending on the size of the dosas, the recipe for Spiced Asparagus Wraps can serve 6 to 8 people. The Spiced Asparagus Wraps can be served for lunch or dinner and should be, in my opinion, eaten with a knife and fork. It is less messy that way.

Enjoy!

A few weeks ago I accompanied my husband to Houston for a short trip. While walking around downtown for my morning exercise, I happened to discover a tiny taco shop near the court buildings. I was amazed at the long line of diverse people, some in suits with briefcases and others in jeans and work boots, standing patiently in a long line to purchase their breakfast tacos. I would have joined the queue but I had not brought any cash with me and walking up in exercise clothes somehow gave me the feeling that I would defeat the purpose of my morning walk.

After I returned home, my kids told me they ate breakfast tacos all the time. This was news to me! So I took my grown kids to the local taco shop and purchased a variety of the breakfast treats. They were delicious. I was hooked and indspired to create an Indian taco recipe.

Indian Breakfast Tacos

Indian Breakfast Tacos are delicious chapatis filled with spiced eggs, chickpea and potato masala topped with roasted tomato chutney, yogurt, cheese and cilantro.

My Breakfast Tacos recipe is rich in flavor. Served on a fresh hot chapati loaded with fluffy scrambled eggs and chickpea and potato masala. it is topped with homemade roasted tomato chutney, fresh yogurt, grated cheese and cilantro.

I make the scrambled eggs simply by adding a little cumin and red chile powder to the eggs. Not so much as to add heat, just enough to add flavor. As the eggs cook I add chopped red bell pepper and green onions for color.

The recipe for the chickpea and potato masala is a simplified version that I make for my Chickpea Masala. I added diced red potatoes because all authentic Tex-Mex breakfast tacos include them. The recipe starts by cooking the seasonings: onion, garlic, ginger and spices. Once the onion browns and the flavor is rich and sweet, I add the potatoes so they can cook through before adding the chickpeas. This is so easy and tasty it can be served by itself as a side dish.

To make the roasted tomato chutney, I prepare the seasonings, then add them to the tomatoes. All of this is blended until smooth. I roast the chutney on the stovetop to cut out the raw taste of the ingredients and to bring out the rich flavor of the tomatoes.

I like to set out each component of my Breakfast Tacos in separate bowls and let everyone customize their taco. I noticed that my kids made very simple tacos but my husband and his mother loaded them with roasted tomato chutney! They made our brunch turn into a fun meal, a lot of eating, talking and laughing.

Indian Breakfast Taco buffet

Indian Breakfast Tacos set out buffet-style.

Use fresh chapatis when serving my Breakfast Tacos for authentic flavor. If they are not available, feel free to substitute whole wheat tortillas.

Since fava beans are an excellent source of fiber and protein, they are popular in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets and have spread to be part of many different cuisines around the world. It is thought that they originated in North Africa. Fava beans go by many different names including broad beans and horse beans.

Dried Fava Beans

Dried Fava Beans

Fava beans are often cooked then ground to form a tasty bean dip. Fresh beans can be steamed and added to salads for color and their firm texture.

Fava beans are available in different sizes. The most familiar beans are the large ones which are usually dried. Medium and small beans are also available dried but can be found fresh. Fresh fava beans are tender and easy to cook. Using dried fava beans require overnight soaking and a long boil before use. Sometimes they take quite a bit longer if the beans are old. Cook them until they are buttery and tender. If they are crunchy, keep cooking!

Large beans are always shelled before cooking while it is optional for medium beans based on preference. When I made my Fava Bean and Cauliflower Masala recipe, I shelled the medium beans. I found it took time and was tedious. When my husband offered to help me, I accepted immediately. I noticed that he was able to shell 4 of them to 1 of mine. He said that he studied how I was shelling them and came up with several techniques that made him more efficient. Of course, he didn’t share his tricks with me!

Fava Beans and Cauliflower Masala

Fava Beans and Cauliflower Masala

My Fava Bean and Cauliflower Masala combines my favorite ingredients and spices into one tasty dish. After the fava beans are cooked, I fry the onions and cauliflower until caramelized and tender, add a tasty spice mixture, add the fava beans then create a thick sauce with tomato, lemon juice and water. I let everything simmer until the sauce becomes thick and the flavors are absorbed into the ingredients. Fava Bean and Cauliflower Masala can be served as a side dish or as a main dish for a vegetarian meal along with fresh naan or chapatis.

Fava Bean and Cauliflower Masala is easy to make once the fava beans are cooked. I soaked them overnight, boiled them the next day and placed them in a container in the refrigerator until I was ready to prepare the recipe.

While preparing dinner the other day, I wanted to include a simple rice dish that was light and was not bursting with intense flavor. Instead of making plain rice, either boiled or sautéed in butter, I just wanted to add the refreshing flavor and vibrant color of fresh herbs.

I simply boiled the rice with a few dry spices. When it was tender I mixed in the herbs. I selected some of my favorites: dill, parsley, cilantro and chives. Sliced fresh green onions provide flavor as well. To garnish Rice with Fresh Herbs, I topped it with a few gold toasted cashews to complement the white and green.

Rice with Fresh Herbs

Rice with Fresh Herbs is an easy recipe with the fresh flavor of parsley, cilantro, chive, green onion and spices to create a simple side dish to accompany any meal.

Add Rice with Fresh Herbs to your repertoire for a quick side dish. It pairs well with any entrée and all side dishes.

I wanted to incorporate the favorite nut of India in a different way that I usually use them. I roast them, spice them and use them to thicken curries. This time I wanted to see what would happen if I ground them to a paste.

Cashews are grown on on trees on farms in India. We can thank the Portuguese explorers who brought them to India back in the 1500s for their tasty donation to the lands they visited.

They are actually the seeds that grow at the bottom of the red or yellow cashew apple. Yes, it does even look like a bright red or yellow apple with a cashew glued to the bottom. I saw some at a spice farm I visited a few years ago and thought they looked rather odd. Cashews are very healthy in that they have less fat than other nuts. They have a healthy amount of monounsaturated fats which is good for one’s heart. They are also loaded with antioxidants and other minerals. Just what the doctor ordered.

Sweet Cashew Cream and Fresh Berries

After soaking them for a short time, I ground a cup of raw cashews in a blender until a smooth paste formed. The resulting flavor was similar to a very thick almond milk and it looked like whipped cream. I immediately knew what I wanted to do with it.

I added a few of my favorite Indian spices, cinnamon and cardamom, along with some sugar. I stirred it all together and I had a vegan version of flavored whipped cream. It is a perfect topping to fresh berries. I use strawberries in my recipe but any fresh berries will be delicious.

You may have noticed over the years that I don’t make very many desserts. I try to ignore them since being in the same room with them increases my waistline. This recipe is so healthy and easy to make that no one will turn down an offer of this dish.

Now that I’ve shared a very simple recipe for Sweet Cashew Cream and Fresh Berries that is really tasty and good for you, I hope you enjoy it!

Now that fall is here, hot and spicy soups are back on the menu. I have started the season with my Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken and Ramen Noodles. The soup is spicy hot due to its origin. Mine is as well. The word mulligatawny came from the Tamil word milagu-tannir which means pepper water. (Milagu means pepper, and tanni means water.)

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken and Ramen Noodles

Mulligatawny Soup was originally an Anglo-Indian recipe made with a thin broth, spices and onion. It traveled to England during the British rule of India and was modified to add chicken or lamb to accommodate the European dietary preferences. Specific ingredients differ based on the cook’s preferences.

Some recipes incorporate leftover rice. I have added Japanese ramen noodles because I have loved eating these long wiggly noodles since I was in college and starting out on my own. Ramen noodles are normally eaten in broth or soup with a few vegetables. They are made with wheat, like other noodles, but have a special alkaline mineral in the water that makes them stand up better than other wheat noodles.

My recipe starts by tempering the oil with garlic, ginger and many different spices. I add julienned carrots, chopped onion, sliced leeks and fresh peas as well as chicken breast pieces that have been cut into tiny pieces. The broth is thickened with a small amount of roasted chickpea flower, besan, which gives the soup a creamy look. It also adds high quality protein to the soup. After the soup has had time to simmer, I add the ramen noodles and lime juice.

Mulligatawny Soup is a great option for a week night dinner. It is full of flavor and very satisfying. Serve freshly fried pappads on the side. My husband likes to crunch his into bits then put them into his soup!

Earlier this year I created a savory quinoa recipe as a side dish prepared with onions and garlic and tempered with Indian spiced oil. This time I am sharing a really simple recipe for a salad that uses quinoa as the main ingredient.

After the quinoa is cooked, I add fresh vegetables for their bright colors and contrasting textures to it, including: healthy edamame, sliced grape tomatoes, chopped red onion and sliced green onions. The salad is lightly dressed with a cumin vinaigrette.

This Quinoa Vinaigrette Salad recipe, when chilled, is perfect for lunch when served on your favorite greens or as a side salad at dinner. I like to take it to potluck meals and picnics since it can be served at room temperature as well.

This recipe for Penne and Vegetables with Roasted Pepper Sauce, an alternative to spaghetti with tomato sauce, is healthy and light. The vegetarian sauce is made with roasted red bell peppers that are puréed until smooth and seasoned with red chile powder as well as a few other spices.

Penne and Vegetables with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Penne and Vegetables with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Several of my favorite fresh vegetables, including asparagus, zucchini and onion, are blanched until crisp. The vegetable list can be modified to suit your preferences. I picked these since the green color complements the red pepper sauce.

When the pasta is al dente and the vegetables cooked, both of them are added to the pot of the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and mixed together. I selected penne rigate because the ridges along the sides allow the sauce to cling so each bite is full of flavor.

To serve the Penne and Vegetables with Roasted Pepper Sauce, simply place a generous portion on individual pasta bowls or plates. Top with a pinch of chopped cilantro and pecorino cheese.

I originally made this Sweet Corn Salad to accompany the Vegetable Napoleons recipe that I posted last week. It pairs very well with it but, in all honesty, it was too much food for me to eat comfortably at one meal. I swapped it out with a simple Creamy Mint Chutney for a hint of flavor and a bright green color.

Sweet Corn Salad

Sweet Corn Salad

Sweet Corn Salad is a tangy mixture of blanched fresh sweet corn, diced tomato and diced red onion. A small minced green chile is added for a flavor boost. The salad is finished with a vinaigrette made with cumin and garnished with black sesame seeds.

Served cold, this recipe can be used as a relish to accompany any meal or served as a salad.