Cauliflower and green lentils are a perfect match to create a delicious recipe. In case you haven’t noticed, the recipes I have posted this summer are all healthy, easy to make and vegetarian. My husband is on a diet and I want to provide him with healthy menu items. I have increased the number of lentil dishes dramatically while reducing the number with meat.

I like to use lentils because they are filling and full of nutrition. Green lentils are my favorite to use over brown and red lentils because of their distinctive peppery flavor, firm texture and high levels of protein, fiber, iron and many other nutrients. Even though they take 45 minutes to an hour to cook they look good when added to a recipe. French green lentils are the same variety of lentil as lentilles du Puy but are not grown in the Puy region of France.

One of my favorite vegetables is cauliflower. My daughter and I love to roast a whole head of cauliflower for dinner. Unfortunately, most of the time, the cauliflower would not make it to the table. Occasionally, 3 or 4 florets would be the token share for my husband when he arrived home.

Cauliflower and Green Lentil Masala

Cauliflower and Green Lentil Masala is a tasty Indian fusion recipe that combines delicate spices, tender cauliflower with green lentils for an easy vegetarian dish.

Getting back on track, making Cauliflower and Green Lentil Masala is easy to do. The hardest part is waiting for the green lentils to boil.

While the lentils cook, a masala is made by cooking onion, garlic and ginger in a special blend of Indian spices. When it is ready, I add the cauliflower florets and let them steam in the masala. The cooked green lentils are added to the pot when the cauliflower is tender. After stirring everything together so it can heat evenly, the dish is ready to garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro. Serve this dish with plain rice or chapati. Cauliflower and Green Lentil Masala can be served as a main dish or as a side.

If you like cauliflower and lentils and much as I do, check out my Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala recipe that will be posted next month.

Have you noticed how much beluga lentils look like caviar? When cooked, they look like small shiny black pearls, just like caviar. They don’t taste like caviar though. They are loaded with protein, fiber and antioxidants, just what is needed for a healthy diet. Beluga lentils are very easy to cook within a half hour, unlike some Indian dals that must be soaked overnight.

As I incorporate more lentils and beans into our diet, I look for less common varieties to keep our meals interesting. Since they keep their shape and have a delicate bite when eaten, I thought incorporating them into an Indian-based recipe would be a perfect change to traditional Indian dal recipes.

Spiced Beluga Lentils

Incorporating Indian spices and vegetables for flavor, healthy Spiced Beluga Lentils are delicious with any meal.

Spiced Beluga Lentils are easy to make. Simply season some oil with cumin seeds and bay leaf, then add chopped onion and carrot. The vegetables are added before the lentils because they take so long to become tender. Next the usual garlic and ginger are added to the pot.

Once everything begins to get come color and become tender, the Indian spices are added. Since they could burn easily, they are added just seconds before adding the lentils and water. The Spiced Beluga Lentils will simmer until the water is absorbed and the beans are tender.

When I serve Spiced Beluga Lentils, I like to top them with a dollop of plain yogurt and a pinch of freshly chopped cilantro. This recipe can be served with steamed rice and bread on the side. Adding one or two vegetable dishes will add color and a variety of texture to your meal.

Spiced Beluga Lentils

Spiced Beluga Lentils are easy to make in no time.

Spiced Beluga Lentils are easy to pack to take to work or for even a picnic.

 

Now that the weather is getting cooler, soups are back on my menu. This week I am featuring my Cranberry Bean Soup. When I mentioned to my husband that I was making Cranberry Bean Soup, he was very confused. He thought I was using fresh cranberries and thought that would make a very odd soup. After I told him that cranberry beans are beans, not fruit, he was very happy to eat this soup for dinner.

Cranberry Bean Soup

Cranberry Bean Soup is an easy to make vegetarian recipe with light Indian spices for a healthy lunch or dinner on a cold day. Also called borlotti beans.

Cranberry beans are one of the most underutilized beans in the U. S. They are very popular in Italian cuisine for their mild, creamy and nutty flavor. There, they are called borlotti beans and are found in many soups, casseroles and salads.

Cranberry beans look like red kidney beans except they are white with dark red spots when dried and turn dark pink when boiled. Cranberry beans are highly nutritious, rich in fiber and packed with protein.

Cranberry beans should be soaked to reduce the cooking time. I simply put them in a bowl of water and let them soak overnight.

To make this vegetarian soup, the onions are cooked in oil that is seasoned with a bay leaf. Garlic, tomato, fresh green chile and dried spices are added next to build the flavor base. The beans and broth are added next and simmer until the beans are tender. This takes about an hour or more.

The next step is to purée the soup so it is creamy. The soup can be purée in a blender or using a handheld immersion blender. A traditional blender yields a creamier texture but the immersion blender is less work and requires less clean up.  Before blending the soup, I remove some of the beans to add back later for variety in texture. This is an optional step. Just before serving, I add some freshly chopped cilantro.

Cranberry Bean Soup makes a fantastic main dish for lunch or dinner on a cold day along with a few pappads or a hot, fresh paratha. It is also a great starter for any meal.

For another recipe that features cranberry beans, check out Cranberry Bean Masala.

While I was planning my Mung Beans and Red Potatoes recipe last week, I knew I needed to share my recipe for Mung Dal. This simple, vegetarian recipe is very easy to make. My husband calls it comfort food because dal was served every day while he was growing up in India.

Dal is a thick savory dish that is made from, you guessed it, dal which is any bean or lentil that has had its skin removed and is split in half. The word is attached to the specific name of the bean or lentil it describes. The advantage of dal recipes is that the cooking time is reduced. For example, whole mung beans boil in approximately 30 minutes while mung dal boils in about 20 minutes. Since the skins are removed the color of the resulting dish matches the color of the bean inside.

Mung Dal

Mung Dal

My Mung Dal recipe is very easy to make. After the dal is boiled, it is added to a masala paste that is made from cooked onion, tomatoes, garlic and ginger and a special blend of spices. Once the tomatoes break down and lose their shape, the dal is added and flavors blend together. Mung dal does not lose its shape like other varieties of beans do. So, make this dish a bit creamier, I smash some of the dal with the side of a knife before mixing it into the masala paste.

Mung Dal can be served with plain rice and chapati in the true South Indian vegetarian tradition or it can be served as a side dish with other favorite recipes.

I have decided to share my Mung Beans and Red Potatoes recipe to continue my series on cholesterol lowering recipes. Mung beans are excellent choice for creating nutritionally healthy dishes as they are:

  • high in fiber, protein and vitamins
  • low in fat and calories
  • quick to cook
  • taste delicious
  • very inexpensive

I could provide more details on these tasty gems but I will direct you to another page for more information on this superfood to save time.

Mung beans bring a mild flavor to any recipe; they taste a bit like potatoes. Unlike some lentils, they retain their shape with a delicate bite when cooked and do not turn mushy. Mushy lentils are fine in dal recipes but when they are used in a recipe where they need to retain their shape, mung beans are a great pick. In addition, mung beans do not need to be soaked overnight or cooked for an extensive amount of time. After they begin to boil, a mere half hour is all that is required to bring them to tasty tenderness.

These beans compliment other ingredients in recipes. They can be added to potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onions, etc. and produce a beautiful colorful dish. They can be used in hot dishes as well as cold ones.

Mung beans can be used in several different ways. They can be used whole as I have done in my Mung Beans and Red Potatoes recipe. They can also have their skins removed and the inner bean split. This is called mung dal. I will share this delicious recipe next week. The third use is sprouting them. Check out this tasty Spicy Sprout Salad recipe.

Mung Beans and Red Potatoes

Mung Beans and Red Potatoes

In my Mung Beans and Red Potatoes recipe, I start by boiling the beans and red potatoes. Next I create the masala that brings the dish together. Like many Indian recipes, I fry the onions, garlic and ginger in a tasty spice blend. As the onions become tender, they absorb the flavors of the spices so they can envelop the cooked beans and potatoes. With three simple steps, the dish is ready to serve. One thing you will like about this recipe is that it only requires one pan. No need to use several pans and wash extra pots when this is finished!

Mung Beans and Red Potatoes can be served as a main dish in a vegetarian meal along with other vegetables, rice and chapatis. It can be a side dish for lunch or dinner. My husband likes to roll a generous scoop of Mung Beans and Red Potatoes and roll it in a chapati to take to work for lunch. This can be served hot or cold.

Since receiving the results of my latest annual checkup, I have decided to adopt a healthier diet by incorporating more lentils into my cooking. Nothing is wrong, just a slightly elevated cholesterol level that can be treated by modifying my diet. Before the holidays start I will publish more recipes with lentils and dark green leafy vegetables that can help lower cholesterol and offset any holiday indulging.

To start my healthy Indian fusion series, I am sharing a very simple but flavorful green lentil recipe that I make from time to time. It can be made in just one pan using only a few spices. Without a complicated masala to mix and with minimal chopping, it can be prepared in a very short period of time.

Green or brown lentils are very tasty. They have a mild, meaty flavor and a delicate texture. They also retain their shape when cooked so they look good attractive in any dish. Even though they are high in carbohydrates, they are high in fiber, protein and many other nutrients.

simple green lentils recipe

Simple Green Lentils, a one pot recipe, is easy to make and delicious with gentle Indian spices.

This Simple Green Lentils recipe is so easy to prepare. First the green lentils and carrots are boiled. Next the onion, garlic and spices are fried in a small amount of olive oil. In the last step, the lentils and carrots are folded into the spiced onions and everything is cooked together to allow the flavors to blend. The dish can be garnished with a bit of freshly chopped cilantro or parsley. Everything is cooked in the same pot so there is less dishwashing and cleanup afterward. Easy!

This recipe can be served hot or cold, as a side dish or as an entrée. I like to have left overs so I can send them with my husband to work the next day.

Everyone loves to eat burritos! Every restaurant seems to have one on its menu. Originating in Mexico as a tortilla filled with beans and wrapped for a meal on the go, they are now a staple food in Texas and have become an international hit. My son eats them at his favorite Tex-Mex restaurant at least once every week. He fills his burrito with seasoned steak, brown rice, black beans and hot sauce. I like chicken with a lot of veggies in mine. Many people add cheese, lettuce and guacamole as well.

Spicy Chori Burritos

Fusing Tex-Mex recipes with Indian ingredients and spices produce great food. Spicy Chori Burritos are delicious and fun to make!

When planning this recipe, I wanted to bring the ingredients and spices of India to a Tex-Mex favorite. I wanted this to be a vegetarian recipe as are so many of the best Indian recipes. I decided to use the same small red beans, called adzuki or chori, that are featured in my lentil recipe called Chokapu Payar (red beans in Malayalam) that I included in my first cookbook, Kachi’s Kitchen. These beans are about a quarter of the size of their larger cousins that are found on most salad bars but have a firmer texture than the larger ones. Their small size makes them perfect for burritos. They are my favorite beans for cooking and eating.

Chori beans are usually soaked overnight to shorten the cooking time. After they boil for about an hour, they are added to a fried onion, garlic, chile and tomato mixture that has been seasoned with a special blend of Indian spices.

To make the Spicy Chori Burritos, I fill fresh flour tortillas with a generous helping of the spiced chori beans, cumin spiced brown basmati rice and two types of homemade salsa. I garnish the burritos with cheese, lettuce and a dollop of yogurt before they are folded and wrapped to look like the “little burro” for which they are named.

I have made these burritos often for my son and husband who loved them. My next adventure in burritos will be a chicken version to appease my daughter. That one will be a lot of fun!

The filling for the Spicy Chori Burritos can be made in advance and reheated just before assembling the burritos. The beans can be purchased at any Indian grocery store.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Chicken can be served in so many ways. Whole, cubed, baked, fried, covered in sauce, spiced. On and on the list of chicken recipes goes. To take a slightly different approach to chicken, I decided to stuff them. Using the large chicken breasts that I usually don’t buy because they are way too big for me to eat at one sitting, I flattened them and filled them with a rice and vegetable stuffing that has been seasoned in the Indian style.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Stuffed with a blend of basmati rice, lentils, cashews and spices, and topped with Lemon-Chile Butter Sauce, these Stuffed Chicken Breasts are delicious.

I start making Stuffed Chicken Breasts by opening up the breasts with a long horizontal cut then flattening them with a kitchen mallet. This step, called butterflying in the industry, is a lot of fun and a stress reliever.

The stuffing is a healthy blend of basmati rice, brown lentils and cashews, all of which are common Indian cuisine ingredients. They are added to a base of seasoned oil in which shallots, garlic and green chile are fried. A bit of chopped spinach is added at the last step to provide color and enhance texture. In my opinion, this stuffing could be served alone.

I place a generous amount of the stuffing inside the flattened chicken then roll them up like burritos. To keep them together during the cooking process, I tie them up with a string. They are browned in a skillet then baked until done.

To bring the dish together, I prepare a Lemon-Chile Butter Sauce that I drizzle over the Stuffed Chicken Breasts just before serving them. It is lightly seasoned with red chile powder for flavor, not for heat.

The Stuffed Chicken Breasts can be served whole or they can be sliced into medallions. Slices, in my mind, make a more elegant presentation as well as allow for better portion control. Serve them as you prefer with the Lemon-Chile Butter melting down the sides. This is a delicious recipe!

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!