Easy Chana chaat

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3:00 PM is panic time at my place. My son comes home by 4. Usually I give him rice and veggies leftover from our lunch. But there are times when I would have managed an easy lunch somehow and then there won’t be anything left for him to eat. Even though I know that he comes by 4, I choose only 3 PM to start panicking. I am cool as cucumber until then.

On one of those days, I made this quick chana chaat using canned beans. If you can plan ahead you can always soak and cook chana. The chutneys takes only a few minutes to make or you can always use ready made ones. I have used the recipe from Vaishali’s space. Ideally you use only sweet chutney for this, but I added a teeny tiny bit of green chutney too. My son loves the sweet chutney a lot. I make paani puri with aloo filling with ready made puris too, but for today’s post, it is the chana chaat.

Chaat in general is not exactly healthy, but this particular one is definitely healthy. There is no deep frying involved, its just cooked chana with chutneys, spices and a bit of yogurt. I added a spoon of ready made sev for a bit of crunch, but its not enough to make the healthy factor go away.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:
For the green chutney:

  • 1 cup coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1 green chili (or per taste)
  • juice of a lemon
  • salt as needed

Grind everything together to a fine paste. Some people add ginger and garlic as well when grinding. You will need only a teaspoon or so of this chutney, so you can skip this if you want.

For the sweet chutney:

  • 1/2 cup of tamarind pulp
  • 1/2 cup jaggery
  •  a pinch each chili powder, garam masala and hing
  • salt as needed

Mix 1 tablespoon tamarind paste with half cup of water to get 1/2 cup of pulp. Or soak a small gooseberry sized tamarind ball in 1/2 cup water for 15 minutes and then extract the pulp and discard the fibrous bits. Bring the pulp to a boil with jaggery (or sugar). Add salt and the powders. Taste test and adjust if needed. Let it cook until it thickens a bit. Take off the heat and once its cooled down, use it in the chaat.

For the chaat:

  • 1 can garbonzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 small tomato, chopped finely
  • 1/2 small potato, boiled
  • handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chaat masala, ready made
  • lemon juice and salt as needed
  • a tablespoon of sweet chutney
  • a teaspoon of green chutney
  • a teaspoon of sev, optional

Method:

  1. In a bowl, add the drained and washed beans, onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves, potatoes, chili powder, chaat masala. Mix it in carefully and add lemon juice and salt to taste. You can add more or less chaat masala according to your preference. Add some sweet chutney and green chutney. Serve with some sev on top.

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Pasta Salad

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My son stands against anything with pasta and rice. He does eat both, but with such a long face that it almost makes me guilty. Almost… But I don’t give up on these two foods and keep bringing them to the table irrespective of the nasty looks, sighs and nays.

The kid does like salads, so I have started adding a bit of pasta to his salad. He seems to be okay with that. So now, once in a while, I pack a cold pasta salad for his lunch. I prepare it the night before and refrigerate so that the flavors can mingle.

A good thing about salad is that you don’t need to have an exact recipe. Whatever is available in the fridge paired with a bit of  dressing makes an excellent one. My go-to salad dressing is a mix of mayonnaise and honey mustard, but I am slowly including more of the classic olive oil and lemon juice now a days.

For a salad, I like the combination of vegetables with beans and fruits. The bit of sweetness that the fruit imparts gives a lovely flavor and the beans fill you up. Cheese is more for my son’s taste buds. For this particular dish, I had some ready made taco seasoning to be used up. So that went into the dressing with olive oil and lemon juice. This video from Tasty is what I followed for the dressing. I had to skip the jalapenos and garlic since it was for my son’s lunch box. Taco seasoning is a mix of spices and can be made at home as well. Here is a recipe if you want to make it at home.

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Serves 2

Recipe adapted from: Tasty – Pasta Salad 4 ways

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked red kidney beans
  • 2 slices of cheese torn into small pieces or 1/3 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced mangoes
  • 3 tablespoons sliced olives
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • salt as needed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ready made taco seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, optional
  • 1 tablespoon jalapenos, optional

Method:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cook roughly about one cup pasta in boiling water with salt to get two cups of cooked pasta. Drain and let it cool completely.
  3. Combine the salad ingredients to the pasta. Slowly add the dressing, mixing it in. You don’t have to use all the dressing, you can stop when you feel that the taste is fine.
  4. Do a taste test before adding salt, since pasta was cooked in salted water and taco seasoning also has salt.

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Fasolada – White bean soup

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I am in the process of loosing weight, so food has to be given a lot more consideration than usual. You want to eat something that is tasty, fills you up and is nutritious as well. 

Most of the bean soups/curries fit the bill perfectly. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner. You feel full and you won’t spend the rest of the day looking at the clock waiting impatiently for the next meal time. 

One of the many soup recipes I tried is this Greek soup made with white beans. A very few ingredients are needed to prepare this and if you use Instant Pot like me, the work gets done a lot more easier. 

This recipe is from My Greek Dish and I have followed it without any major changes. The only change I made was to bring down the quantity of olive oil. The author mentions that you should add some olive oil towards the end of cooking and that really brought to my mind some traditional Kerala recipes, like Avial and Olan, where you add coconut oil towards the end of cooking. Sometimes you can travel across continents and still find things that are common!

I served the soup with some crumbled Feta cheese and some bread. Now that the season is changing and the weather is beginning to get colder, I find myself noting and bookmarking more healthy soup recipes from library books and online.

Read on for the step-wise pictures and recipe.

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Serves: 4-6

Recipe source:  My Greek Dish

Ingredients:

  • 500gm bag dried white beans (18 oz pack)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 2 carrots, cut into semi circles
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced small
  • 1/2 cup pureed tomatoes
  • salt, pepper and red chili flakes per taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

Soak the beans overnight. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in Instant Pot or a thick pot. Saute the garlic and onion until onions turns pink. Add the carrots and celery. Mix it in.

Add in the pureed tomatoes. Add the beans.Season with salt and pepper and red chili flakes.

Add enough water to cover everything by about an inch. Cover and cook in Beans mode for 20 minutes. Once the pressure is released naturally, add the remaining olive oil and boil for a few minutes for flavors to blend. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Serve with feta and fresh bread.

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16 Bean Soup

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I am in love with my Instant Pot and its a love that keeps growing. Indians use pressure cooker a lot in their daily cooking, so imagine a cooker where your work is done the minute the lid is closed. No waiting for the whistle or counting it. You can just walk away the minute you close the lid. I don’t find that Instant Pot saves a lot of cooking time than the Indian cookers, but the luxury of not babysitting is amazing.

One of the major attractions for me is the yogurt feature. I have never had consistent success in making yogurt at home once I came to US. With Instant Pot, that’s one thing I make regularly (though I haven’t started a batch yet after coming from India).

Cooking beans is another feature that I love. I can prepare a beans based curry even if I forget to soak the beans ahead. When I have unexpected guests and no veggies in the fridge, I cook some or the other kind of beans for 30 minutes and that’s all it takes! I do prefer to soak beans if I know in advance that I will be cooking it. So for this post, its soaked beans that I have used. I have used 16 bean soup packet here, so its not just one variety. I tried adding whatever vegetables I had at that time to make it a wholesome meal. I always serve bean soups with a fried egg on top and bread on the side.

Read on  for the recipe.

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Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a 12oz 16 bean soup packet
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 can (14oz) chopped tomatoes (or 5-6 tomatoes pureed)
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 10-12 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder/paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed

Method:

  1. Wash and soak half the contents of a 12 oz beans soup packet overnight. Full contents would be too much for my family, so that’s why half the packet.
  2. In Instant pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in Saute mode. Add the crushed garlic and once its brown, add one big chopped onion. Saute till its cooked.
  3. Add the chopped mushrooms and sliced carrots. Sprinkle chili powder, oregano and salt and pepper. Add one can chopped tomatoes and mix well.
  4. Drain the beans and add it to the vegetable mix. Add enough water so that the beans is immersed completely and there is an inch of water above it, about 5-6 cups.
  5. Change the Instant pot from Saute mode to Bean/Chilli. Cover and make sure the whistle is in Sealed position. Cook for 15 minutes and let the pressure release naturally.
  6. Once the pressure is released, bring it to a boil in Saute mode. Mash the soup a little if preferred to get the consistency you want. Taste test and adjust the seasonings, add lemon juice if preferred. Turn off the heat and serve with toasted bread.

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Avocado Tabbouleh

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Tabbouleh is a salad made with bulgur wheat, lots of parsley, a bit of mint and some tomatoes. The seasoning is a mix of olive oil and lemon juice. It’s an easy to make, no cooking involved, dish which makes it perfect for summer.

The variations to this salad are endless. I made a swap for bulgur with quinoa which is a good source of protein. I also added some avocados that needed to be used up. I was looking for a meal for myself without too much of effort ;-).

My version involves cooking of quinoa, but if you make it using bulgur wheat then there is no cooking involved.  All you need to do is soak bulgur in warm water for it to cook. Read on for the recipe.

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  1. Cook 1/4 cup quinoa per package instructions.
  2. In a large bowl, add about 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves, a handful of chopped mint leaves, one chopped avocado and half cup of chopped tomato. Add the cooked quinoa once it’s completely cool.
  3.  In a small bowl, mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and salt as needed for the salad.
  4. Drizzle this to onto the salad, taste and adjust lemon juice and salt according to your taste. serve immediately. I prefer to refrigerate until the time for serving since I like cold salads better.

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