Healthy Grain – Quinoa

Have you tried this grain called Quinoa? As a vegetarian, I am always in lookout for various options for protein. It has good benefits with respect to high protein content (14%) and good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and Iron. The grain has slightly bitter taste, but when eaten with good curry, the bitterness is negligible.


If you are not familiar with this grain, I would highly recommend you read this on wikipedia.

I use this as a substitute for rice. For few years, we used brown rice. The fiber content is higher on brown rice compared to white rice. It took us a while to develop the taste around Quinoa. I try various ways to incorporate this grain into our daily meal plans. It goes well with sambar or any curry on the side. I also use Quinoa in my soups to give more density to my soups. It becomes a full meal in itself. My kids can’t make out I have Quinoa in the soup, which works well.

I have seen people come up with creative recipes using Quinoa. You can substitute for rice, oats, potato or for adding additional density to your dish. This is one wholesome grain that we should check it out 🙂

For now let me share my soup recipe –

Quinoa – 1 cup
Mixed lentils -1 cup soaked overnight
Garlic – 4
Onion – 1/2 chopped
Red chille flakes – 1/2 tsp
Veggie broth – 4-5 cups
Canned tomatoes – 1
Zucchini – 1 small chopped into cubes
carrots – 1 medium chopped into cubes
Olive oil

Wash your Quinoa using a strainer.

In a pressure cooker, add 1 tbsp olive oil and add garlic chopped, red chillie flakes, add onions and saute till it turns transparent. Add your veggies, canned tomatoes, lentils, Quinoa, broth, salt and pepper and cover and cook in the cooker till 3-4 whistles. Check for taste for more salt and pepper. You can also add a spoonful of lime juice for additional flavor. This has been a favorite soup for the family..well I make it one as it has huge benefits of protein and a small carb ratio 😉

I have substituted Quinoa with pasta shells at times and that also turns out really good. You may want to add more broth if you like your soup more liquid.

If you are looking to cook Quinoa to substitite for rice, just wash the Quinoa and use 1:2 water and cook it covered till it boils. Cover partially and keep mixing till water disappears.

Here are some good recipe links to try:

Quinoa Salad
Quinoa Upma
Quinoa Pancakes
Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf
Quinoa Patties
Black bean Quinoa burgers

If you are aware of more, feel free to share it with me..would always love to try something with this grain.


Makara Shankranti

Wishing you all a Happy Shankranti!!!

I can’t remember all the rituals and stories and I have a habit of calling mom on each one. Just a reason to catch up and understand the culture and some times on the stories. This time I had to speak to grandma to get more stories 😉

Jan starts with a new set of Hindu festival. Makara Shankranti. Even though hindus follow lunar calendar, this is one festival that follows sun position. Basically this means sun transitions to Makara meaning Capricorn sign. The festival always falls on 14th of Jan. This begins the journey of sun in the northward direction. This also marks the beginning season for harvesting. Scientifically the warmer days are supposed to start from this day onwards.

The festival is celebrated in various different ways in India. The harvesting season is welcomed in different cultures in different ways. In some parts they have a tradition to fly kites. Lots of yummy sweet dishes are prepared in some parts. In assam, it is Bihu. In southern states of india, a traditional pongal is cooked. In gujrath, the sky is covered with kites. It is a festival of kite. In punjab a festival of lohri is celebrated.


In my home the kids are given Bogi Pallu which is a mixture of sesame seeds, peanuts, jaggery or sugar cubes (small ones), chickpeas.

The same mixture is also distributed to few families as part of tradition along with a fruit and sugarcane. As kids we loved eating sugarcane and sugar candies that came along from different house holds. Sugar candies were made in different shapes and colors and would be attraction for kids.

Festival food – I have always seen mom and grandma make pongal. Pongal is traditionally cooked in a new earthen pot. Pongal is like a porridge made with rice and lentil ( moong dal). They make sweet version with jaggery version known as sweet pongal and savory version known as khara or uppu pongal. It is accompanied with a tamrind and jaggery dipping. The warm pongal on a cold winter day is comfort food. My grandma makes more varieties of pongal and mostly cooked in milk. She calls is Pallu pongal as base and uses that to make variations. This is accompanied with freshly harvested vegetables that are cooked in a tamarind and spice mixture. They also traditionally make obaatu which is another sweet dish. Very yummy as well. Some folks refer that as pooran poli.


The morning of Shankranti every one cleans the front of their house. They believe this is done for welcoming goddess Lakshmi. In some parts of the country they get fresh cow dung and use that for cleaning.

Every one after bath worships the Sun and goddess Lakshmi. They pray to the god’s to give them food and grain and keep their blessings on the family. Families wear new clothes symbolizing a new start. The variations food is then prepared and offered to god before prasadam(offerings) is consumed.

I perform the festivals in a smaller scale and less lavish. I make simple savory pongal and sweet pongal and everyone in the family pray to god for good health. This time mom sent the sugar candy and a good friend got them for me. I made the mixture of chickpeas, coconut, sugar, coconut and peanuts to distribute among few with sugar candy. I will update the story with new pictures I can share after the festival.

I am hoping these stories are inspiring to my friends and my family and wishing you all a great health and happiness!

This is visual yellu and sugar candy for all my family and friends.


Happy Shankranti again!

Kids and new era gadgets

Many kids these days have atleast one Apple or similar product like iPod, iTouch, iPhone, iPad. It is a new market share for these companies. I am sure the smart sales and marketing folks thought about this new gadgets and how this can revoluntize the market in terms of little Kids and teens. Almost every kid need not be taught on how to use these toys. They are visual and intriguing for the little minds. They figure out in no time on how to use and have a hang of it.

I am sure every parent have pressure from their kids to buy these new gadgets as it is now the new cool toy to own. If you don’t then they feel left out and you can see and feel their pain. With that said, why we can’t we have these gadgets released only for this industry where in a parent can be less worry some to buy these and be able to have the parental control. The lack of parental control on these gadgets can be consequences for many mishaps.

What is the minimum we should provide on these? Calendar, email, notepad, music, recorder, Clock, Calculator few kid friendly games and educative series?

I am sure every parent would be more willing to invest in a product that is kid safe rather than giving in due to pressure. There are parents who are successful in not getting into the pressure and competative mode, but how many? If we had the controls in, I think they will have a better market share.

I recently read an article where a mom wrote an 18 point contract to her kid and had him sign with an iPhone gift. She was hilarious and creative, and I am sure she had jitters getting that gadget and hence the contract. But do we really want to write contracts to our kids. I understand the responsibility factor and learning factor, but this could be totally avoided if we had a kid friendly version in the market..just my 2 cents and my thoughts as of today 😀

BTW just for the kick of it..I thought of writing this high level requirement for Apple and other companies to come up with a product 😉

1. Option to pick and choose what apps can be pre-loaded.
2. Parental control 101 – like inbuilt firewall which can track and send the usage stats to parents 😉
3. Ability to disable from master (parent’s phone or account) ;-P
4. Kid friendly iTunes website (educational series based on age selection which should be controlled by parent again)
5. Cool looking..well that is what kids go for…is the look and feel.
6. Basic call option.
7. Web browsing with limited options to sites, basically blocking sites which are not kid friendly.
8. Radio disney, Dictionary kind of apps

This is the reflection of my mind for today..what do you guys have on your mind lately?

Happy Reading!!!

Banana Nutella Turnover

I wanted to try something with phyllo dough. I have never worked with phyllo only because I was nervous and knew it would be a challenge for me. I have bought couple boxes and tried not to dare. Phyllo is very delicate to work with and of course I had challenge making this sweet dish. I wanted to try something new and finally I decided to use chocolate with Phyllo. A good combination to make the turnover with chocolate is strawberry or bananas.

My turnover is using Banana and Nutella. You could always replace this with Strawberry and Chocolate chips or Nutella.

Phyllo dough


Thaw the phyllo dough and unroll the dough and place this on a flat surface and cover with a damp cloth or towel to prevent from drying.

Make a paste of all purpose flour and water.

Take one to two sheets at a time and brush it with butter and place 1-2 sheets more on the top.

Cut and make the sizes for your turn over ready.

Place a spoonful of Nutella and 3-4 small pieces of banana chopped.


Apply the all purpose flour paste on the sides and seal the turnover by folding.

Apply little more butter and place them on the baking sheet.


Preheat oven at 375 or 400 F or as per the instructions on your phyllo dough.

Place the prepared turnover in the oven and bake them for 10-15 mins or till you see lite golden brown.

Serve them hot..they are delicious.


An alternate way to make this is to use wanton wrappers and deep fry them. They are delicious that way too. This version I prepared today was more health friendly and I could eat 4-5 guilt free ;-D

I wanted to make something as I was getting ready for 2013. This is for you all. A visual treat ;P

Try them and hope you like them as well.