Savoury Veggie Oats Upma

I wake up most days thinking what to have for breakfast. It constitutes the most important meal for me personally.

Given that I have a massive sweet tooth, it is tough to stay away from peanut butter jam sandwiches, honey cereal or granola with berry yoghurt and fruits or simple blue berry muffins. However you regret these choices by lunch time since it makes me guilty reaching out for sweet treat after lunch.

I love a hearty breakfast, it just prepares you for the day ahead. Also the first thing I like doing once at work is to pour myself a nice cup of home made masala chai and let out my breakfast box. Ask my work mates and they would vouch for my masala chai getting the most amount of attention even on busy days. It’s cute to have them ask me to share some with them sometimes.

Off late I have been piling on the kilos and am trying to reduce my sugar intake early in the mornings. This led me to look out for savoury options for breakfast, I started with making Indian breakfast essentials Thalipeeth, Poha, Daliya, Besan Chilla and Upma but soon got bored.

Since I had already experimented with oats while making Idlis, I thought giving the humble Upma a uplift with this fab ingredient. And what do I say I am addicted to this recipe!

Oats Upma

It’s easy to prep and make on busy work mornings. I usually don’t go by adding all vegetables as listed below but make use of whatever is in the fridge. Feel free to add or remove the vegetables listed and go by the ones which is easily available for you.

Cooking Time : 15 minutes
Ingredients

2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin
1 green chilly finely chopped
1 white onion finely chopped
1 red bell pepper finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper finely chopped
2 carrots julienned
1 cup spinach chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas thawed and washed
1 tomato finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp super seed powder
1 cup organic rolled oats
1 1/2 cup water
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
Salt to taste

In a wok heat some oil, add cumin seeds and green chilly.

Oats Upma3

Once it sizzles, add onion and cook them until they are translucent.

Oats Upma4

Add peppers, carrots to the mix and cook them for a few minutes.

Oats Upma6

Add spinach, tomatoes and peas to the mix and sauté them lightly. Add salt, super seed mixture and spices.

The super seed mixture I use has a mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, wheat germ and some dried goji berries. This is rich in omega 3s, folic acid, fibre and other essential nutrients. I do not like having them on it’s own so disguise their presence. Adding the super seed mix in the upma gives it a good nutty texture.

Oats Upma7

Add rolled oats and mix them well in the mixture. You can roast the oats before adding them.

Once it is blended well with the vegetable mixture, add water and mix well.

Oats Upma8

Cook until all water has absorbed and the oats get a creamy consistency.

Oats Upma1

Serve hot and you are ready to tackle the day ahead. This stays good for 3 days if kept refrigerated in an airtight container.

Oats Upma2 Until next time, happy cooking!

Shakshouka

Shakshouka is a savoury North African dish made of poached eggs in tomato based sauce. This happens to be Sahil’s favorite order when we go out for breakfast. Either Shashouka or spinach salman omelette or Fritatta.

So this is my feeble first attempt at making him his favourite breakfast earlier last month. I have just kept the recipe very simple. If you do have any shakshouka recipe please pass it on, I will like to very much give it a try.

Shashouka

Serves : 2

Ingredients
3 tsp olive oil
1 white onion finely chopped
3 tomatoes finely chopped
1 red pepper finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp chilli-garlic sauce
Handful of feta cheese crumbled (optional)
2 tsp tomato ketchup
2 eggs
Salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Handful of basil leaves torn

In a pan, heat oil and add onion and cook them until they are translucent. Add garlic and cook it for a minute.

Follow this up with red pepper and jalapeño, cook them until they have softened a bit. To this add tomatoes, red chilli powder and cumin powder and cook until the mixture is cooked well. Add seasoning and the sauces.

Crack open 2 eggs on top of the mixture and cook them with a lid covered over medium heat.

Once the eggs have cooked, take the dish off heat and serve immediately with crusty bread.

Until next time, happy cooking!

Mumbai Diaries – Dhokla

I came back to Dubai earlier this week after a 20 day long vacation in Mumbai. It was good fun meeting family and enjoying delicious meals from my mum’s kitchen. How I miss it!

I will start chronicling now on my travel diaries in the blog as well and this is the first of the many to come, let me know your thoughts on the same. The series will have my experiences while travelling to a destination and not necessarily a recipe to go with it. Again I am no expert at writing about travel but being a professional travel writer’s wife, I have come to love travelling even more over the years now.

Going back to my trip to Mumbai, it was such a fulfilling experience when I cooked for my family one evening. I made some pasta, oats spinach tikkis and dhokla.

Dhokla is popular Gujrati snack and quite nutritious at it too. Weight watchers can rejoice since this recipe goes easy on the calories too.

The dhokla turned out much better than usual, must have been my grandma watching over me and giving her expert tips when she saw me mixing the batter or tempering the dhoklas later.

I could see a glint of pride and her smiling ear to ear when I made the tempering and not get deterred by the crackling and popping of mustard seeds. This stuff used to always scare me and I had burnt my wrists a few times panicking over the popping mustard seeds in hot oil.

How things change! We just looked at each other and that moment melted my heart, it was simply beautiful.

Dhokla

Ingredients
Dhokla batter

2 cups gram flour
3 tsp canola oil
2 tsp green chilli paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 sachet eno (fruit salt)
3/4 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cup water
Handful of freshly chopped coriander powder
Pinch of red chilly powder (optional)
Freshly grated coconut (optional)

Tempering
3 tsp canola oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
10-12 curry leaves (optional)

In a mixing bowl, sieve the gramflour and add salt, eno, chilli, ginger paste and mix well.

Add water, little at a time and blend all the ingredients together. The consistency of the batter needs to slightly thick and hence add water as per requirement. Do not pour all of the water instantly.

Add oil and mix well, this helps give the batter a good sheen. Do not let the batter sit on the side for long after it has been made.

In a steamer, boil water and add the batter to greased plates in the dhokla stands. Fill the plates with the batter only to half the capacity since once steamed, the batter will rise.

Steam for almost 10-15 minutes with the lid on. Always set the steamer on medium heat, high flame will dry out the dhoklas and the end result won’t be soft and spongy.

Just like we check cakes, use a toothpick to check if the dhoklas have been cooked throughout after 10-12 minutes. If the toothpick comes out dry, remove the dhoklas off the heat.

Let it cool for a while and then un-mould them from the plates and cut them in diamond / square shape.

To make the tempering, heat oil and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they crackle, remove from the heat and with a spoon spread it over the dhokla pieces. I wish I had curry leaves that day so I could have added them to the tempering but we were too lazy to venture out and get some. Aren’t holidays all about lazing around and not stressing over the little things ?

Garnish the dhoklas with a generous sprinkling of freshly chopped coriander leaves, a pinch of red chilly powder and serve with green chutney and tomato ketchup.

I also like garnishing with freshly grated coconut but again it was not available and we gave it a pass.

This is one special post, for me this is not much about the recipe here but about my experience that one rainy evening in Mumbai spending some quality time with my loved ones.

Here’s to my family who taught me cook with love! Happy cooking! 😀

Mediterranean Frittata

I hosted a brunch earlier last month for Sahil’s colleagues. Now the usual dilemma I face is that amongst my friend circle is that I am the sole vegetarian. While they enjoy the vegetarian fare I lay out, I don’t want my guests to miss their non vegetarian dishes.

So in instances like these I choose eggs, they come in handy. I am comfortable baking with eggs and hence decided to make a savoury dish for my lovely guests.

Frittata happens to be Sahil’s favorite after Spanish omelette or Shashouka hence I made these. I have these phases wherein I get obsessed with certain ingredients and simply can’t get enough out of them. Currently sundried tomatoes top this list hence I decided to give the Frittata a Mediterranean twist and added them to the mix.

It was World Baking Day yesterday and it is only right to post about something which I baked recently.

Fritatta

Yields : 12 portions

Ingredients
6 organic eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped Kalamata Olives
1/2 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese + 2tsp for garnish
Handful of feta cheese crumbled
Sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs lightly and add all the remaining ingredients.Season well.

Now to a greased muffin tray, add a spoonful of the mixture and top it with some mozzarella cheese as a garnish.

Bake for 10-15 minutes and remove them from the muffin tin. Serve immediately.

However these re-heat well also so are a good option for breakfast the day after.

Until next time, happy cooking!

Banana Strawberry Smoothie

I’m addicted to smoothies for breakfasts in summers and love to have an array of fruits ready at home which allows me try different flavour combinations!

I do not like bananas much! However this time around I had a change of heart and added a frozen banana. It lends a creamy texture and the strawberries masked the banana flavour for me.

I cannot stress enough how good strawberries are for us. It is loaded with essential nutrients and contain antioxidants which shields the immune system from many diseases. It also lowers the risk of diabetes, strokes and cancer. Is this the reason I eat them ? Not completely, I love them!

Fruit Bowl

The shiny and lovely red brightening many fruit bowls and just plain regular oatmeal. If I skip smoothies, I pack myself an box of fruits and granola bar. It make breakfast more exciting while at work!

Boxes of strawberries lined up neatly on supermarket shelves remind me of my summer trips to Mahabaleshwar. It is a small hill station some 300 odd kilometres away from Mumbai. A few kilometres away is Panchgani where Mapro is located.

They have berry farms and as I kid, I recollect going there and having the fresh strawberries and later having them served with vanilla icecream. They also had a strawberry cream which was a hit with my family!

Smoothie2

Serves : 2

The Magic happens in : 5 minutes

Ingredients
1 frozen banana diced
1 cup fresh strawberries diced
1 Zespri kiwi diced
1/2 tsp super seed powder
300 ml strawberry juice / mix fruit juice
Few fresh strawberries and blueberries to garnish

Blend all the ingredients together and serve them immediately!

Smoothie1

You could add honey or agave syrup if you want the smoothie to be on a sweeter side.

Until next time happy cooking! 🙂

Very Berry Smoothie

My husband does not believe that I used to give my mum a really hard time having fruits as a kid. I used to hate every fruit, with strawberries and mangoes being an exception.

As a teen, I took a liking to oranges, sweet limes and kiwis mainly because my friends at college were obsessed with orange juice with chilly cheese toast to be had on an almost daily basis post our tuitions. I gave in due to peer pressure and my mum could not thank my friends enough.

Fast forward to last 6-7 years and I love fruits. In fact I look forward to having smoothies, fruit juices with breakfast and fruit based sorbets and frozen fruit yoghurts as desserts. A transformation of sorts!

With Dubai summers having dawned on us, smoothies are a staple breakfast accompaniment these days. Last weekend I was quite nostalgic about my college days back in Mumbai and as an ode to the chilly cheese toast and juice days, I made the same for breakfast.

Breakfast

Sahil loved the smoothie. I used bottled Lacanor mixed fruit juice since I was not keen on yoghurt based smoothie that day. Below is the recipe for the smoothie loaded with the goodness of antioxidants and all essential vitamin C and E. This is low in fat and offer high fiber and mineral content.

Ingredients
2 Zespri Kiwis
1 cup chopped srawberries
1/2 cup blueberry
400 ml Lacanor mixed fruit juice
Juice and pulp of 2 fresh oranges
1tsp flax seed-super seed powder
1 tsp runny honey (optional)
A few ice cubes (optional)

In a blender, add all the fruits, juice and seed powder and mix well.

Fruits

At my place, I usually powder flax seeds and super seeds in a spice grinder and keep it in an airtight jar.

I use this mixture in smoothies, muesli, granola parfaits, cookie and cake mixtures. Flaxseeds and other super seeds are great source of getting iron, fiber, folic acid, Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin B. I do not support taking supplements, I much prefer getting these essential nutrients by natural sources.

I skipped the honey this time since the berries were sweet enough for our liking.

Berry Smoothie

I hope you enjoy this smoothie as much as I did. Until next time may the Sun God be kind to us in this part of the world! 🙂

Disclaimer : This is not a paid post. I have not collaborated with Zespri or Lacanor brands in specific. I prefer them over others and hence the mention.

Vegetable Daliya / Bulgur Porridge

Breakfast 1

I am always on the look out for healthy recipes which are quick to make and are comforting as well. Past few weeks have not been great health wise and thus comes the focus on nutritious food packed with goodness of essential nutrients.

I love having couscous in my salads but this time around I was running out of it hence decided to go for a porridge like dish made of bulgur or broken wheat. I was bored with oats so did not opt for it.

It is a diabetic friendly dish which is high on fibre and protein. Easy to make and something which you can lay on the table in 20 minutes.

Daliya 1

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Serves : 4

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup daliya / broken wheat / bulgur
1 finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped tomato
1 finely chopped capsicum
1/4 cup shredded carrot (optional)
1/4 cup peas
2 finely chopped green chillies
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp carrom seeds
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cups water
Salt to taste

In a pressure cooker, heat some oil and add cumin seeds followed by carom seeds.

Once they sizzle, add some green chillies followed by onions.

Cook them until translucent, add tomatoes and cook them for a minute.

Add capsicum, peas and sautee them well. You could also add broccoli, sweet corn to the mixture.

Add all the dry spices and mix well and season it with salt as required.

Vegetables

Add bulgur to this mixture and roast it well until the spices are coated well with it.

Daliya

Add 3 cup warm water to the mixture, mix well and close the lid of the pressure cooker.

Pressure cook until 3 whistles and turn off the heat.

Breakfast

I served this with mango milkshake on a weekend taking in the views from my balcony. Until next time happy cooking!