Family Dinner With Mexican Cuisine

Family Mexican Dinner

Last night was our weekly family dinner night! Hosting a family dinner has been a little challenging as my husband has started a gluten-free diet and my older son is vegan. Then there’s the challenge of making something my grand-kids enjoy too!  After some thought I decided that Mexican cuisine would be the perfect solution!

My menu was:

  • Chips and salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Bean Tostadas
  • Enchiladas
  • Mexican rice

I used corn tostadas which have no wheat.  My son can eat everything without cheese. For dessert, I served everyone’s favorite – ice cream! After dinner we played some board games. What a perfect way to celebrate the end of the week!

Holiday Gift Snacks

Holiday Gift Snack Package by Manjula

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  The holidays are around the corner and this time of year is all about family, friends, and good cheer!  I love the holidays as they create positive energy, happiness, and gives us an excuse to get in touch with friends and family.  I like to visit friends and family this time of year with a small gift.   I like gifts that come from the heart.  For me, nothing shows love like something home cooked.  This year I wanted to make something simple and easy, but also something that would have a long shelf life.  I decided to make spicy cashews and almond brittle. These snacks are perfect gifts during the holiday season.


Holiday Menu Suggestions

It is a true winter day here in San Diego. I know my family is super excited about the upcoming holidays. I feel like holidays are all about indulging yourself and treating yourself to what else – great food! Food is a way to bring people together and it’s the simple pleasures in life that really matter.

Today’s menu suggestions are in line with the rainy weather here and includes: a steamy cup of vegetable soup, followed with Aloo Paratha, Tomato Chutney, Yogurt, Green Chili Pickle and for dessert Gajar Ka Halwa.

This meal can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For breakfast, I would suggest the Aloo Paratha served with Tomato Chutney. This menu is an old family favorite and reminds me of happy times with my family growing up! Enjoy!

Vegetable Soup Recipe by Manjula

Vegetable Soup

Aloo Paratha Recipe by Manjula

Aloo Paratha

Tomato Chutney

Tomato Chutney

Yogurt

Yogurt

Green Chili Pickle

Green Chili Pickle

Gajar Ka Halwa

Gajar Ka Halwa


Happy Holidays!!

The holidays are officially here! It’s the time to look forward to vacations and relax with family and friends! So what’s better than having family and friends over for a great meal?! For the upcoming holiday season I’m going to be suggesting some dishes that I think will be perfect for your upcoming holiday get togethers. Today’s ideas include starting with carrot ginger soup, followed with Chola Battura, Aloo Gobhi, Vegetable Raita, and Kheer as a traditional Indian dessert. Try these and enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup

Battura (Fried Puffed Bread) Recipe by Manjula

Battura (Fried Puffed Bread)

Punjabi Chola

Punjabi Chola

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi

Vegetable Raita Recipe by Manjula

Vegetable Raita

Kheer Rice Pudding

Kheer Rice Pudding

 

 

Happy Karva Chauth!

To all the lovely married people: Happy Karva Chauth!

This year Karva Chauth fall on October 11th. It is celebrated with great joy in the northern states of India. My elder daughter-in-law enjoys this special festival very much. She really takes pleasure in all the rituals associated with Karva Chauth.

This day is celebrated by married women, who fast all day as a way to wish for their husband’s health and long life. Many husbands also join in on the fast as a way to show their suport for their wives. In the evening, families typically get together in groups to await the moon.

Women dress up in their finest outfits and jewelry. Bright colors and gorgeous outfits are a must! The moon usually takes a long time to appear on this day! Finally, when the moon makes its appearance, everyone celebrates. Prayers are then done and the fast can then be broken. Dinner is typically a huge feast as it should be!

This year I will be making Gulgula, Gatte Ki Kadhi, and crispy Spinach Pakoras:

Gulgula (Mini Donuts) Recipe by Manjula

Gatte Ke Kadhi Recipe by Manjula

Crispy Spinach Pakoras Recipe

Gulab Jamun Variations for Festivals

Gulab Jamun Variations by Manjula

Many festivals are coming soon, starting with Navratri, Durga Ashtami, Ram Navami, Dussehra, Diwali, Bhai Dooj, and the list goes on. I am always planning to what make something new. Something different and festive but not needing too much work, at the same time the family should enjoy it. I thought why not make the sweets and snacks that my family likes and I will also like to share this with my extended family by the series of blogs.

First one I selected is gulab jamuns because I just made them. Also gulab jamun is one of my favorite dessert. It is easy to make and also have a long shelf life. Gulab jamuns can be served in many different ways and the bonus is they make good holiday gift.

I have fond memories of the festivals while growing up. On special occasions we will receive box of sweets from family and friends and most of the time the box will have gulab jamuns. Of course these gulab jamuns were not in the syrup but they were still moist. They tasted great and almost appeared to be a different dessert.

These are some of the variations and suggestions the way I serve them. I think warm gulab jamuns taste the best, they are my boy’s favorite. For serving them with any other variations, take gulab jamuns out from the syrup for about half an hour before garnishing. Drizzle gulab jamun with chocolate gnash, you may also put few pieces of sliced almonds. This is my grand kids favorite.

Roll them in coconut powder, this is the only way one of my daughter in law likes them.
Slice them in center making them in two pieces then topped them with malai (reduce milk),
Slice them thinly and serve them with vanilla ice cream and garnish with few pieces of broken pistachios. I will like to hear from you, how you like to serve them.


Happy Navratri 2014

Navratri, or “Nine nights” is a festival which marks the onset of autumn. It is celebrated in different ways all over the country. It is a festival of worship, dance and music. For 9 days, women dress up in beautiful clothes and jewelry. Many people keep a fast for Navratri. Some suggestions for this auspicious time period include: Laucki kheer, sabudana khichdi, sabudana vada, kuttu Ki Puri, and stir fry arbi.

 

Making of my Eggless Chocolate Cake Recipe

Eggless Chocolate Cake

Eggless Chocolate Cake

I have been working on how to make eggless chocolate cake, baking is not what I am good. Some times I like to bake for my grand kids and that I enjoy. Many of my viewers have been requesting to do more cake recipes. I have been trying chocolate cake, I have looked many recipes and to substitute eggs I am still playing with some ingredients, I don’t want to use the egg replacer for sure, my choices are tofu, condense milk, yogurt. I have used tofu before to make chocolate brownie and used condense milk for pineapple cake. Both recipes were good but I keep feeling something is missing so last few days I am trying again, my kitchen has been mass and I think I am getting there. For Easter I baked cup cakes using condense milk, kids loved it because I baked that’s a good part it is so easy to please your grandkids most of the time or they really know what to say when.

This is first time I have tried adding some corn starch and tapioca powder. I like corn starch that made a big different. Today I think it came out good and decided to garnish few pieces with sugar powder and few pieces with chocolate ganache. It was time to get the approval from the family and wow my older granddaughter and son approved.

Good thing is you can use same batter for cup cakes or cake. You should see this recipe soon and really hope you will approve because that’s count the most and I will wait for your unbiased comment.

Manjula’s Kitchen e-book: Best of Indian Vegetarian Recipes

Manjula's Kitchen ebook

I have some exciting news for all of you. Due to your requests that I make a compilation of some of my recipes into an easy-to-reference book, I am excited to let you know that I have published my first book, Manjula’s Kitchen: Best of Indian Vegetarian! It is available on Amazon right now! Here’s a quick link to purchase it: http://amzn.to/17fgiJL

So why did I do this book? Well the answer is simple: for you the viewers. You all have inspired me in so many ways that I cannot thank you enough! Of course, my husband Alex has been my number one supporter and has been working hard towards getting this book published. My book is a great reference for all of your cooking needs – for both the beginning and experienced cooks. So go to Amazon and check out my new book!


Diwali Preparations are Underway…

Diwali is around the corner. It’s an exciting time of year and I am already in the midst of decorating the house. I am planning on putting festive lights outside of the house. Then I will do some Rangoli designs on the front porch, also incorporating some fresh flowers. Of course I will decorate the house with some flameless candles as well. My granddaughters love helping me decorate for Diwali. I also like to incorporate games during Diwali. This year, I plan on creating a treasure hunt for the kids (similar to an Easter Egg Hunt). This is always a hit with the grandchildren, even my 12 year old granddaughter!

Most important in preparing for Diwali, is the FOOD! I believe food truly brings the family and loved ones together. I love making easy home-cooked snacks as Diwali gifts. I think its a thoughtful and heartfelt gift. Some of my ideas for snacks are Spicy Cashews, Nan Khatai, Til Ki Burfi, and Almond Brittle

This year I am planning two Diwali dinners. One dinner will be an intimate dinner with just family. The following day I am hosting another dinner with just friends. I have not finalized the menu yet. However, I am planning to make some sweets in advance. This will ease my work load and stress levels as Diwali approaches! My must-have sweets for Diwali include Gujias, Gulab Jamun and Chocolate Sandesh. I think this variety of desserts will please everyone.

I plan to finalize my Diwali dinner menu very soon and will keep you updated!

 

 

 

Menu Suggestions for Lunch/Dinner

What’s for lunch/dinner?

This is a question most of us struggle with on a daily basis. When I ask my husband Alex what I should cook for our meals, his answer has been the same for the past 45 years! It’s that I should give him some choices and he will then select his preference. So I have decided to come up with some great, easy, and healthy choices for lunch and dinner. It’s a long time overdue and no more excuses! I would love to get your thoughts on these suggestions and if you find them helpful.
Check out the below menu for one week’s worth of lunches/dinners. I have also provided some tips and suggestions to make it easy. It may be helpful to read the entire menu before and make a shopping list for the ingredients you need. Plan to do your shopping the day before you cook.

Lunch Menu:
These are great at home or pack in a lunchbox for the office.

  1. Chickpea Pulav with yogurt
  2. Yogurt Rice (this recipe is also good using leftover white rice)
  3. Vegetable Frankie (you may use the ready made tortillas and they taste good warm or cold.)
  4. Carrot Moong Dal Salad and Tomato Soup
  5. Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf

For an informal lunch with friends:

  1. Aloo Paratha, Tomato Chutney, Matar Paneer, and Yogurt (it is easy to use the store bought paneer)
  2. You can also serve a simple salad sliced tomatoes and cucumber sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and lemon juice
  3. Lemonade will be great for summer

Dinner:
These are great everyday options for home.

  1. Vegetable Curry with plain rice and or Roti
  2. Spinach Pasta and Vegetable Soup
  3. Mixed Dal, Gajar Mattar, or Aloo Methi, Plain rice and Roti or Paratha
  4. Rajma and plain rice.
  5. Besan Puda (This is a super simple recipe that is good for breakfast, lunch or dinner)

For a special get together, try the below:

  1. Appetizer: Papdi Chaat (You can make the Papdi in advance and it lasts for weeks, or you can fry uncooked tortillas cut in the Papdi shape. Remember, chutneys and yogurt should be always in fridge!)
  2. Masala Papad (You can grill the papads in advance and keep them in air tight container.)
  3. Drink: Mango Lassi
  4. Main Meal: Cabbage Kofta, Green Beans and Peas, Spinach Raita, rice, roti or Paratha (Kofta can be made in advance as they freeze well and can be stored for about a month. When you are ready to cook them, make the gravy, defrost the kofta and prepare like the recipe suggest.) (You can make extra Green Beans and peas as they make great sandwiches and Wrap with the leftovers)
  5. Dessert: Refreshing Fruit Cream is great for a summer dessert. Finish up with a hot cup of Chai Masala Tea.

Additional Suggestions

  1. If you have chutneys ready in fridge, it is easy to plan some of the appetizers. I always have Tamarind and Hari Cilantro Chutneys in my fridge.
  2. I also have some condiments on hand to spice up my meals. Check out the list under chutneys / pickles as they have a longer shelf life and are easy to make.
  3. Plain Yogurt
  4. It is helpful to have some frozen vegetables in your freezer such as green peas, green beans, chopped spinach. I also freeze small cut pieces of paneer. Before using, put them in hot water.
  5. I like to have canned chickpeas and kidney beans on hand or you can boil a big batch of them and freeze them in small portions.


Wanted to Say Thanks!

I would first like to acknowledge and thank my viewers and everyone who voted for me. Because of you all I was selected for “YOUTUBE ON THE RISE” program. As a result, my channel will be featured on April 30th on YouTube blog, www.youtube.com/YouTube

I truly enjoy doing these recipes and sharing with you. I take a lot of pride in my work through Manjula’s Kitchen. I often spend many hours working on each recipe. Despite this, I must say I truly enjoy this process. You, the viewers, have given me so much love and encouragement over the years. Your feedback and enthusiasm for Manjula’s Kitchen is invaluable. Youtube has given me a wonderful platform to promote my passion and love for cooking.

Not many people are able to say that they are following their passion at my stage in life (being a grandmother of four and all!). You, the viewers, deserve credit for this. So I would like to say a heartfelt thank you.

 

Spring Recharge!

I have been experimenting with refreshing cucumber and mint to come up with the perfect Spring drink. I have always enjoyed the combination of cucumber and mint.

At first, I thought I would use pureed cucumber and mint, strain it, and add salt, black pepper, and lemon juice and simply serve over ice. I liked the idea of garnishing with a cucumber slice on the rim of the glass. I then decided this recipe needed to be revamped. So I did some research and googled some different cucumber mint drink recipes. After some research, I decided I would add some ginger to my original recipe. I was not a fan of the ginger as I did not think the flavor combination was right. I then tried adding soda water, but the cucumber flavor was washed out. I then thought that maybe my drink needed to be sweetened with honey. Both my husband and younger son nixed that idea and told me to keep my drink simple. I decided they were right and that I should stick to my original recipe. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best, wouldn’t you say?

The combination of cucumber, mint, salt, black pepper and lemon juice is the perfect drink for a hot day. I really did enjoy it. Both my husband and son approved it as well. The beautiful lime color is simply too tempting to resist. I will be posting this recipe soon!