During a recent trip with my husband to New Orleans, I had the most wonderful surprise at dinner one evening. I had ordered blackened fish, which was delicious and perfectly cooked, and it was served with a side of popcorn rice. I had never heard of popcorn rice but instantly fell in love with the scent and taste of it! Yes, it really smells like popcorn!

The next day I scoured the French Quarter looking for a bag of it to bring home. I bought two 2-pound bags which will have to last a while. When going through airport security on my way back home, I packed the rice in a small bag thinking that it would alert the agents. Of course, the dense rice did cause the agent to pull the bag aside and inspect the contents. I told the agent that I couldn’t buy this variety of rice at home. She let me go with the rice. I think she felt sorry for the crazy tourist and had a story to tell when she got home.

What is popcorn rice? It is a variety of long-grain rice, grown in Louisiana, which has a wonderful rich, nutty aroma and flavor that really does smell like popcorn. This variety is considered an artisan grain and is a hybrid of basmati rice, with the same texture. It even pairs well with curries and meat dishes. Popcorn rice is cooked in the same way as other rice varieties. It is delicious and has become a staple in my kitchen.

This special variety of rice inspired by recipe for Baked Spiced Popcorn Rice. It is based on a basic spiced Indian rice recipe.

Baked Spiced Popcorn Rice

Popcorn rice is delicious when prepared with Indian spices, formed into cakes and baked until the outside is golden.

The first step is to season a little olive oil and butter with whole spices including cumin, bay leaf, cloves cardamom and cinnamon. I fry some white onion and garlic so it can become tender before adding the rice. The popcorn rice is fried in this oil for just a few minutes to bring out the flavor of the grain before the broth is added. I boil the rice in the broth until it is tender.

When the rice is ready, I form individual rice cakes using a small ramekin and bake them briefly in the oven just before serving so they keep their shape.

These easy to make Baked Spiced Popcorn Rice cakes will impress everyone at your table. They are as much fun to eat as they are to make. Enjoy!

As the summer heat continues to drag into September, I wanted to take advantage of the abundant fresh summer vegetables and combine them with Indian basmati rice to create a cool Summer Rice Salad. It is hearty enough to be an entrée but is healthy enough that I would not feel guilty about having seconds. This salad is absolutely loaded with fresh vegetables. I selected carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and spinach to give the recipe a lot of color and textures.

Summer Rice Salad

This easy to make Summer Rice Salad combines healthy vegetables and fragrant basmati rice with a light dressing. Delicious for any meal.

This recipe is very easy to make. First, the rice is cooked with a few whole Indian spices to add flavor to the rice. Next, I cook the onion in spiced oil just until it turns translucent and loses the overpowering raw onion flavor. When the rice and onion have cooled I simply combine them together with the chopped vegetables. The Summer Rice Salad is simply dressed in a cumin flavored vinaigrette just before it is served.

The best part about my Summer Rice Salad recipe is its flexibility. Additional vegetables can be added or different ones substituted to suit your preferences. To make this recipe even easier and quicker, use leftover rice from another dish. It won’t have the flavor of the spiced rice but it will save you quite a bit of time.

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.


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.

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.

Beets are often used in Indian cooking. Perhaps the best known uses for them in Indian recipes are in cutlets, curries and side dishes, called thoran. I like the creamy, earthy flavor of beets and think that their color adds interest to recipes. Also, beets are very high in nutrients and are considered to be good cancer fighters.

In this recipe for Roasted Beet Salad with Cumin Dressing, I use both golden and red beets for their vibrant color and texture and roast them in the oven until they are tender. To save my kitchen from becoming stained red, I merely cut off the leaves and stems from the beets before roasting them. Removing the skins after they are done and have cooled is the easiest method since they slide right off the beet.

Golden beets are much easier to work with as they do not bleed like their messy cousins. Their flavor is subtler than that of red beets.

In this recipe, I dip the raw beets in spiced oil to give them some flavor while they roast. I place them in separate aluminum foil packages to keep the red juices from the golden beets.

Once they are cooled and peeled, I simply cut them into bite-sized cubes.

Preparing the salad is easy. Simply place a generous amount of red and golden beet cubes on top of a plate of fresh spinach. I add bits of fresh mango to add a flavor contrast.

The Beet Salad is topped with Cumin Dressing which complements the subtleties of the salad and makes the flavors pop.

Try this recipe, your family and friends with thank you!

With the temperatures reaching 100 degrees in Texas I wanted to prepare a light and easy recipe that is hearty enough to be served at lunch as well as at dinner. The Romaine Salad with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Vinaigrette includes some of my favorite vegetables plus chickpeas for protein. The dressing, however, is the best part of the entire recipe.

Romaine Salad with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Vinaigrette

Romaine Salad with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Vinaigrette

I roast some red bell peppers in the oven to sweeten and concentrate their flavors. In addition, I lightly fry the shallot and garlic to mellow and sweeten them as well.

All of the Roasted Red Bell Pepper Vinaigrette ingredients are placed in a food processor or blender and processed until smooth and creamy. The dressing is simply seasoned with a bit of ground cumin and red chile powder. I use a small amount of chile for its flavor and not to add heat.

The bell peppers give the dressing body and intensity that most vinaigrettes do not have. It is a rich dressing that is healthy with all of the nutrition from the peppers, including fiber, vitamins C and B6, and antioxidants.

To complete the salad, I chopped a head of romaine lettuce and a handful of cilantro, then added slices of red onion, tomatoes and cucumbers to a large salad bowl. After tossing in a few handfuls of freshly cooked chickpeas, I dressed my garden-fresh salad with the vinaigrette. Add a fresh baguette or naan, and dinner is ready!

I also used my recipe for Roasted Red Bell Pepper Vinaigrette as a dip for carrot and celery sticks because I couldn’t resist the flavor of the dressing. It makes a great dip!

In my home we eat salads often so I try to make them as interesting as possible. This Roasted Eggplant Salad combines some favorite roasted vegetables, eggplant and corn with healthy lentils for a complete meal. The Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette incorporates the flavor of Indian spice from the cumin with a traditional vinaigrette recipe. I used lime juice instead of lemon since they are so commonly used in India. This salad can be served as an entrée for lunch as well as at dinner.

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette



1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 ear corn
1 cup cooked red kidney beans
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup lime juice
1 pinch red chile flakes
1 tsp turbinado sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the eggplant pieces on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast the eggplant in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, turning the pieces over after 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

3. Roast or grill the corn until lightly charred. Let cool then cut the corn from the cob.

4. In a large bowl, add the eggplant, corn, kidney beans and sliced onions. Pour some of the vinaigrette over the ingredients and mix well. Let this sit for a few minutes. Add the spinach and cilantro to the bowl. Add more dressing, to taste, and mix gently. Transfer to individual bowls and serve immediately.

Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette:

1. In a small dry skillet, roast the ground cumin and cumin seeds individually for a few minutes until the aroma rises. Set aside to cool.

2. Stir all of the vinaigrette ingredients except for the oil together in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until well mixed. Adjust the salt and pepper, to taste.


– Serve with crusty bread.
– Substitute chopped romaine or black beans for variety.

During a tour of the ruins of the ancient city at Mycenae near Athens, my family and I ate a delicious lunch at the nearby Amalia Hotel. The traditional lunch started with a simple crisp shredded cabbage salad that was garnished with grated carrots. It was dressed with just a hint of Greek olive oil. I was stunned when both of my children ate it without complaint.  In fact, they reported that they liked it!

I decided I would make the salad for our first dinner at home after returning from the trip. After shredding the cabbage with my (previously unused) mandolin slicer, I wondered how the salad would taste with an Indian twist. I have always loved the flavor of a crispy salad with my meals and wished that one were included with Indian meals.

I fried some cumin seeds, sesame seeds and small lentils to bring out their flavor and added them to the salad. I tasted it to see how my vegetarian recipe turned out. The result was outstanding! I simply “had to” sample a bowl of my concoction. I served my new Indian recipe for dinner with salmon pan fried with spices and green beans. Both my husband and son loved it. I hope you enjoy it too.


Cabbage Salad with Indian Spices

Cabbage Salad with Indian Spices, Indian recipe

Cabbage Salad with Indian Spices, Indian recipe

1 tsp Greek olive oil

1 – 2 tsp odacha kadala

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp sesame seeds

½ head cabbage, shredded

1 carrot, shredded

2 Tbs olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a small skillet. When hot add the odacha kadala and fry for a few minutes.  Add the cumin seeds and sesame seeds. Fry for about a minute until you can smell the aroma of the cumin seeds.  Remove from heat. Place the fried spices on a piece of paper towel to cool and remove the oil.

2. When ready to serve the salad, mix the cabbage, olive oil, fried spices and lemon juice.

3. Garnish the salad with the shredded carrot.

Tip: To keep the salad from becoming limp, mix everything together just before serving.

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