Healthy and Delicious Food for your Kids

Many of my viewers have requested food ideas and suggestions for their children.  I will share with you what I did with my two sons and now my grandchildren. When my kids were babies, the most common solid food was in jars sold at the grocery store.  Being a vegetarian and wanting to raise my family similarly, I wanted to select the ingredients and then prepare it in a way that made sense to me.   When traveling, I sometimes did use jarred baby food for convenience.  I had no one to really guide me as my mother was in India and there was no Internet back then! Also, phone calls were very expensive at that time.

Lentils

Preparing lentils was something I did almost daily for my husband and myself.  Once I had children, I also boiled large pieces of vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, beans, different squashes and potatoes with lentils. When the vegetables were tender, I would take them out from the lentil-dal and mash them with a blender, adding a spoonful of lentils.  I mixed fruits with small amounts of yogurt or milk and blended them as well.  Some fruits are soft and easy to blend such as bananas.  Some, such as apples, need to be cooked to soften them.

Steamed Vegetables

When my sons started teething, I steamed vegetables in larger pieces which they could hold onto after a little cooling.  This accomplished several things, they were entertained and enjoyed feeding themselves and the foods provided teething comfort.  As they grew older, I started adding just a bit of traditional Indian spices so they could get used to our customary spices.  I mashed Roti (Indian flat bread) and rice with lentils and vegetable from Indian dishes. I would also give them different cereals of their choice. Slowly, I introduced the same foods my husband and I were eating but with less spices.  As always, children will have their favorites.

Sandwiches

Once they began school, I made a variety of sandwiches for them.  Peanut butter & jelly was a favorite.  I also made cream cheese or cheese sandwiches with a bit of mango pickle or sautéed vegetables.  Of course, raw vegetables and fruit could also be added to their lunches. They also enjoyed taking slices of pizza and different pastas.  Now my grandkids don’t mind and enjoy taking rice with dal (lentils) and wraps with sautéed vegetable.  Every child is different so remember to prepare what works for your child’s tastes.  Make sure to try different dishes and start introducing meals you make for yourself.

Also, check out my lunch box suggestions on my website!


New Year, New Beginning!

Happy New Year! There’s so much to look forward to in 2017 and I hope that I can continue to bring, for myself and for you, joy and excitement in sharing new cooking experiences.

In 2017 I would like to focus more on semi-homemade dishes.  I realize more and more, we are all so very busy with so many things to do.  We’ve all heard of time management but how many of us put it into practice?  Have you heard the expression, “Work smarter not harder”?  Pardon the pun from a cooking columnist, but that is food for thought!

There are many of us who could use some shortcuts and smart suggestions to help us out in our quest for flavorful, healthy meals and less time in the kitchen.

I and my friends are aging.  I don’t feel good saying we are getting old so I say we are aging. Many of us still enjoy entertaining friends and family, but I must admit it is becoming difficult.

I have seen that the younger generation is too busy to spend too much time in the kitchen. Nor should they! I am speaking with a voice of experience.  I am the mother of two boys.  Now I have eight kids – my sons and their wonderful wives, and four absolutely adorable grandchildren.   They bring me such pleasure and joy.  I am blessed with such a loving family and fortunate to have many good friends.

Back to the original topic of the younger generation –  life has become more demanding for younger families and their expectations for themselves has increased. For example, I’ve noticed now that parents of elementary school kids are already planning for their college admissions and wondering how they should prepare their children for so much competition. Parents are active and running with their kids. However, they still want their family to eat healthy.

With that said, I have decided to blog and post video recipes that cater to families with young kids.  Many people ask me how they can effectively put a meal on the table in a short time. How and what dishes can we freeze or what can we refrigerate for a longer time?  How can we manage our time in the most effective manner?  I will be blogging about this and more!  These are my thoughts for 2017 and I am always open to more suggestions.

Here’s to a great start of 2017!


Happy and Healthy 2017!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017! I sincerely wish you all a very happy and a prosperous New Year! I must point out that it sure does not feel like it has been eleven years since I began posting on YouTube. It has also been ten years since I launched my website, www.manjulaskitchen.com. I believe that is a sign that I am doing something I love and have a true passion for. Not many people can claim that and I feel blessed to be able to say that. I truly enjoy making and posting my video recipes. We have had a wonderful journey so far and I am looking forward to the New Year and all its possibilities.

2016 has been a tremendous year with family and friends, and my new adopted large family (you, all my viewers!) who keep a smile on my face and keep me motivated! Because of you, I get to keep doing what I know best and fulfill my dreams. I would like to thank all of you who have become such an important part of my life. You viewers provide so much inspiration for me through your comments and constructive suggestions. I enjoy that interaction very much. As my husband Alex says, “That puts a smile on your face”. I hope I am putting a smile on your face as you mean a lot to me.

Enjoying the Holidays with Family!

This holiday season was so special as I got to spend quality time with family. On Christmas Day, my family and I enjoyed a great dinner. When my grandchildren get together, there is so much life and energy in the house. They run and shout and know that they can do anything they want! Of course, they are always careful not to break or misplace anything! I like to think of my house as a play house for the grandchildren. The adults are usually engrossed in lighthearted fun conversation in one room while the grandchildren run about the house. Sometimes I feel we spend more time talking than indulging in food! But of course, a family celebration in my house is not complete without tasty food. This year I experimented with two new appetizers and both were considered a hit by my family.

The appetizers were Taco Samosas and Corn Chaat. We then enjoyed crispy and delicious homemade cheese, cabbage and vegetable pizzas. For dessert, we enjoyed crisp waffles topped with vanilla ice cream and strawberries; followed by soothing tea made by husband, Alex. Here are some photos of some of the dishes.

The recipes for the below will be posted soon! I hope you all have a very happy and healthy New Year!


Masala Street: A Fresh Dining Concept

I typically don’t do restaurant reviews but with this new Indian restaurant, Masala Street, here in San Diego, I simply had to! I recently had a great evening out with my family – both sons and their families, along with my daughter-in-law’s mother, who is visiting from Jaipur, India. We decided to try out the latest hot spot, Masala Street in the beach front La Jolla area.

The whole experience was wonderful – the ambiance, food, top-notch service and especially the exquisite food presentation. The chef had really gone out of his way to please everyone. My family has many food restrictions – vegetarian, vegan dairy free, some don’t eat peppers, and my husband and I don’t eat onions and garlic. Others in my family love hot and spicy food. With all these restrictions, I was not expecting the food to meet our expectations. I was happily surprised that the restaurant was more than willing to accommodate all of our requests! Yes, I am talking about Chef Saransh and his wife Megha Oberoi!

Chef Saransh explained that his unique menu is based on simple Indian street food with a California twist. These are few dishes we all really enjoyed:

Starters

  • Quinoa Chaat, was really unique and delicious
  • Tacosa (which is a crunchy combinations of a Samosa and Taco)
  • Kursi Chaat, (Papdi chaat served over mango roll ups – the presentation is to die for!)

Entrées

  • Spinach with chole (This was a delicious vegan dish prepared especially for us!)
  • Khatte Aloo Baingan, and Dal Tadka

Desserts

  • Mango Kufi
  • Tira Gulla.
  • I loved both of these desserts.

The menu options are endless! This is the restaurant I highly recommend. If you are in San Diego check it out:

Masala Street
915 Pearl St.
La Jolla, CA 92037

Gift Ideas for upcoming Diwali (2016)

Diwali is fast-approaching and I have already begun my preparations! This time of year is full of parties, fun, and celebration. So why not bring a homemade gift to the next party? Homemade gifts are truly special in that they show you really put some thought and care into it. Some ideas for simple homemade gifts are:

Masala Puri

Masala Puri (Spicy Crackers) Recipe by Manjula

Chiroti (Khaja)

Chiroti (Khaja) Recipe by Manjula

Date and Nut Ladoo

Date and Nut Ladoo (Healthy Indian Candy) Recipe by Manjula

Atta Ka Ladoo

Atta Ka Ladoo Recipe by Manjula

Rava Ladoo

Rava Ladoo Recipe by Manjula

Spicy Cashews


5 Absolutely Delicious Appetizers

I think we all look forward to appetizers! They are samples of exciting tastes and textures that allow us to anticipate a delightful social interaction. For me they are an important part of every family get-together or in hosting a party with friends and making new acquaintances. You can do a great deal of the preparation for some of the appetizers in advance and serve them in several variations. You can play around by mixing and matching the ingredients, creating different tastes and looks.

Here are five highly favored recipes from my viewers:

Samosa Pinwheels
Samosa Pinwheels Recipe by Manjula

These appetizers freeze very well. In preparation for freezing, fry them half way and then cool them down to room temperature and then freeze the pinwheels. These can be refrigerated for 5-6 days, and can be frozen for a month.

Khasta KachorisKhasta Kachori

These appetizers will stay good for 4-5 days at room temperature. Before sealing them into a storage container be sure they are at room temperature. I have heard from viewers that their Kachories are soft and they want to know why this has happened. If they are still warm when stored, condensation will form inside the storage container causing them to soften. If they have softened, place them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. The crispiness will return.

Bread Potato Rolls
Bread Potato Rolls Recipe by Manjula

These can be refrigerated for 2-3 days. Make sure to cover them with moist paper towel and keep in flat container. When you are ready to serve them, take them out from refrigerator and fry.

Crispy Aloo Tikki
Crispy Aloo Tikki Recipe by Manjula

Uncooked patties can be refrigerated for 3-4 days before frying, shallow fry them time of serving.

Vegetable Rice Cutlets
Vegetable Rice Cutlets Recipe by Manjula

If you need to prepare these patties in advance of your event, add some bread crumbs to the mix, and then make the patties. Now they can be refrigerated for 2-3 days.
Gather up your ingredients and prepare your magical delicacies. Enjoy!


Included are some suggestions as to how to best store and serve them, making them unique every time they are served. You can make them small or a little larger in size depending on how you want to serve them and the space needed for toppings. All of these appetizers are traditionally served with cilantro and tamarind chutney. They can also be served like a Chaat, drizzling the appetizer with whipped yogurt and chutney. Additional variations can develop by serving them with Aloo Dum or Spicy Chole. The various sauces enhance the flavor of your appetizers.

Using Turmeric!

Tumeric Relish and Tumeric Latte drink

Turmeric (haldi), the wonder spice, is finally gaining popularity in the west and many are recognizing its health benefits. You may have noticed many people discussing various recipes consisting of turmeric as a main ingredient. Recently someone asked me what a turmeric latte is and it got me thinking about the benefits of turmeric. I did some research and a big smile came to my face when my husband, Alex, questioned me about how turmeric powder (often considered not very tasty!) could be turned into a delicious latte. Turmeric is not what you would expect in a gourmet coffee drink!

In Indian cooking, turmeric is one of the most essential spices and is used in almost every dish. Turmeric powder in milk, or “haldi ka doodh”, is a great home remedy drink.

To make “Haldi ka doodh”, mix in one fourth teaspoon of turmeric powder in about 6oz of warm milk.

Our mothers and grandmothers forced us to drink this unpleasant medicine and now we are imposing it on our kids and grandkids. Turmeric can cure many things, including cough, congestion, colds, aches and pains. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory medicine. In India, turmeric is treated as a magic potion for many ailments!

Another good way to use fresh turmeric is as a relish. Fresh turmeric is now readily available in grocery stores. Turmeric looks like a small piece of ginger and is orange.

Here is the recipe for Turmeric Relish:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fresh turmeric washed peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger washed peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Place all the ingredient in a glass jar.
  2. Relish will be ready in 2-3 hours.
  3. Relish can be stored in refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
  4. Serve as relish or pickle in small quantity.


Easy Recipe from one Basic Gravy

basic_gravy_02

Most of the Indian dishes you prepare will involve some type of gravy. Learning how to make a gravy is useful because you can pair the gravy with many different vegetables and come up with unique dishes that are easy to prepare. You can then pair the gravy with vegetables you have in fridge or freezer and – voila – dinner is prepared!

For a great basic gravy, check out my Mattar Paneer recipe. Here are some suggestions using this recipe. You can make small changes to this recipe for a variety of dishes. For example, instead of mattar paneer this can be just mattar, or just paneer, or aloo mattar, or just aloo, or paneer. Also you can use a frozen vegetable mix like (peas, corn, carrots, beans) or add mushrooms. The possibilities are endless! Try adding a few spoons of cream in the gravy to make a richer dish for a party.  You can add about a tablespoon of dry fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi). This provides a very unique flavor.

You can freeze your gravy in small portions. It will stay good for up to two months. Having gravy readily available will make your cooking a lot easier and less stressful. Enjoy!

basic_gravy_01

Why Frying Over Baking

The most common question I get from my viewers is if they can bake instead of fry.  Traditionally Indian cooking is done over stove top or burner. Food is grilled, sautéed, steamed, boiled or fried. Likewise, most of the Indian breads are made over a skillet or they are fried.  An exception is naan or tandoori roti that is cooked in a tandoor, which is different than a western style oven.

I have tried baking many of the dishes that I usually fry.  I tried baking khasta kachori, samosas, pinwheel samosas, and different kinds of pakoras.  When baking these items, I found that that taste and appearance of the dish were vastly changed. These dishes simply did not appear to be authentic. Additionally, when baking you have to use more butter, oil, or shortening in the dough to make it crispier.  If you want your dishes to maintain some of their taste, I would suggest sticking to frying.

However, you can try pastry dough for making samosas or kachoris.  This is a huge time saver, but it will taste like spicy pastry not bad just different. One advantage to baking is that it does not leave any leftover oil. When you fry you have leftover oil that is an issue with me as I have to find a way to dispose the leftover oil. Especially because I don’t reuse the oil after I have fried in it once.

Some of the appetizers for small gatherings or parties I like make in advance include samosas, pakoras, pinwheel samosas and kachoris. I typically reheat them in the oven before serving to enjoy free time with my company. When reheating pre-made items, they are good but they lose some crispness & don’t taste the same as freshly fried appetizers.

While limiting fried foods is recommended, I believe it is okay to enjoy these tasty delights as a treat once in a while!

8 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes In Under 30 Minutes!

We all live busy lives and have so many things to get done. Time is precious and your mealtime should not make you stressed. Here are some quick and easy suggestions for delicious Indian vegetarian recipes in under 30 minutes that can be used for any meal.

Masala Khichdi

Masala Khichdi - Rice and Moong Dal Recipe by Manjula

Masala Khichdi is a spicy variation of simple khichdi. This the ultimate comfort food which is also healthy. Khichdi is basically prepared with rice and lentils. Adding a few vegetables with spicy tomato seasoning makes khichdi a complete meal. Usually khichdi is served with yogurt, pickle and papdam.

Chickpea Pulav

Chickpea Pulav (Chole Biryani) Recipe by Manjula

Chickpea Pulav is a delicious combination of rice, chickpeas, and vegetables and then seasoned with spices. This is a great, hearty, and healthy meal. This is a one dish and one pot meal.

Quinoa vegetable pilaf

Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf Recipe by Manjula

Quinoa vegetable pilaf is a protein rich, gluten free and delicious dish. It is quick and easy to make.

Vegetable Pulav

 Hyderabadi Biryani (Vegetable Pulao) Recipe by Manjula

Vegetable pulav is a mix of vegetables and spices. If you are not in the mood to prepare a big meal, use vegetable pulav as a one-dish meal with yogurt, pickle, papadam or chutney.

Grilled Potato Sandwiches

Grilled Potato Sandwich Recipe by Manjula

Grilled Potato Sandwiches gives a different dimension to the classic grilled cheese sandwich. They are delicious and add an Indian taste to the standard grilled cheese. Potato& cheese sandwiches are excellent choice for a hearty and satisfying lunch.

Oat Dosa

Instant Oat Dosa Recipe by Manjula

Oat dosa is an easy recipe that is perfect for busy families. This gluten-free dish is made with oats, rice flour, yogurt, and a few spices. I add cabbage and carrots for texture. This is definitely a staple in my house.

Bread Uttapam

Bread Uttapam - South Indian Snack Recipe by Manjula

Bread Uttapam is a popular South Indian dish. Traditionally uttapam is made with rice and lentil batter, which can be a long process. Bread Uttapam, on the other hand, is instant and easy to make. Not to mention it tastes delicious. It tastes divine served hot and with a side of coconut chutney.

Aloo Puri

Aloo Puri (Potatoes with Fried Puffed Bread)

Aloo Puri, is spicy potatoes with gravy and puffed whole wheat bread (puri). It is simple and makes a complete meal. This is a popular combination in North India. This can be served for a casual breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Let’s Enjoy the Outdoors!

It’s hard to believe but summer is around the corner. It’s the perfect time to host a fun outdoor get together.  I like to serve fun street foods at these types of events.  Delicious foods combined with some fun games – what can be better than that? My grand kids love when I plan these types of outings.  Here are my suggestions for a different menu. I picked some items from different parts of India.

Jhaal Muri

Jhaal Muri (Kolkata Puffed Rice Snack) Recipe by Manjula
This puffed rice snack is a popular street food of Kolkata.

Mirchi Vada (Chili Fritter)

Mirchi Vada (Chili Fritters) Recipe by Manjula
This is a spicy hot snack – a favorite in Rajasthan.

Dabeli Spicy Potato Sandwich

Dabeli Spicy Potato Sandwich Recipe by Manjula
This delicious sandwich is a great “to-go” snack which is popular with street vendors in Mumbai.

Aloo Tikki (Potato Patties)

Aloo Tikki (Potato Patties) Recipe by Manjula
Everyone is familiar with this street food from North India.

Pani Puri

Pani Puri
This item is popular all over India and known by different names. I suggest buying the readymade puris and make the pani using my recipe.

Kulfi or Falooda Kulfi

Falooda Kulfi (Indian Ice Cream Recipe) by Manjula
No one can say no to this dessert!

Strawberry – Orange Popsicle

Strawberry Orange Popsicles Recipe by Manjula
Try this natural healthy recipe. Kids love this!

Mint lemonade

Mint Lemonade
This is the perfect summer drink – delicious and refreshing.

 

High Tea Time Snacks

There is nothing better than a relaxed afternoon with friends enjoying a cup of tea and tasty snacks. Show your friends you appreciate them and have them over for high tea.  It’s a great way to beat an afternoon slump and it’s also an excuse to enjoy life’s little pleasures with friends!  These snacks below are simple and can be prepared in advance.  Try these snacks as they are sure to satisfy everyone’s palate.

Chickpea and Spinach spread
Chickpea and Spinach Spread Recipe by Manjula
This is a healthy and delicious spread.  Serve with toasted pita bread or crackers.  It can also be served as dip with fresh veggies.

Potato skins or Potato bowls
Potato Skins Recipe by Manjula
Boiled potatoes filled with spicy chickpeas.

Bhel Puri
Bhel Puri Chat
This snack is popular with street vendors in Mumbai. If you enjoy savory, this is the snack for you.

Dhokla
dhokla
This is a traditional Gujrati snack that is mildly spiced.

Carrot Burfi
Carrot Burfi (Gajar Ki Burfi) Recipe by Manjula
This is a classic dessert.  This burfi is packed with all the goodness of carrots.

Cucumber cooler
Cucumber Cooler Recipe by Manjula
Try this refreshing and soothing drink on a hot day.  This drink also can be prepared a day in advance.

Lunch Box Suggestions

I personally think that deciding what to have for lunch can be difficult.  It’s important to have variety.  Of course it also important that should be is nutritious, healthy and we look forward to eating!  Something easy to prepare the night before is an added benefit. Here are some of my go-to suggestions for an easy and delicious lunch!

Cream Cheese SandwichesCream Cheese Ssandwiches Recipe by Manjula
These are my favorite not to mention super simple to make. If you are doing these for kids, you may skip the ginger and green chili.

Black Eyed Peas Salad
Black Eyed Peas Salad
This is a popular salad among my friends especially for a takeout lunch. Often I use this salad to make a wrap that makes for a very satisfying lunch. To make a wrap I use tortillas or left over plain parathas.  Simply spread the hari cilantro chutney over tortillas or parathas and put about 1/4 cup of salad length wise leaving about 1 inch from the top and fold it tightly like burrito.

Masala Khichdi
Masala Khichdi - Rice and Moong Dal Recipe by Manjula:
  This is the ultimate healthy comfort food. Khichdi is basically prepared with rice and lentils. Adding a few vegetables with spicy tomato seasoning makes khichdi a complete meal.

Yogurt rice or curd rice
Yogurt Rice (curd rice) Recipe by Manjula This is a popular South Indian dish. This dish tastes especially great on hot summer days.

Spinach ParathaSpinach ParathaThese parathas can be prepared two to three days in advance. Add a side of spicy pickle and you have a great lunch!

Breakfast Suggestions

Breakfast is unarguably the most important meal of the day. So why not start your day off right with a healthy and delicious meal?  Many people skip breakfast because they’re rushing to get out the door – either to get to work, drop kids off the school, or both! Breakfast kick-starts your day.  Below are some easy-to-prepare breakfast suggestions that will give you the energy you need to tackle the day. Much of the preparation for these meals can be done in advance.

Besan ka Puda
Besan Puda Dosa Recipe by ManjulaThis is an all-time favorite with my family. This dish is both vegan and gluten free. Besan is also good for diabetics. Serve this dish with yogurt, pickle or hari cilantro chutney.  You can prepare the batter in advance and add the shredded zucchini just before making the puda.  Puda batter can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.

Moong Dal Dosa
Moong Dal Dosa

This is another vegan and gluten free healthy breakfast. You can serve this with aloo masala, sambar, and your choice of pickle or chutney.  This is another dish where the batter can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Yogurt Sandwich
Yogurt Sandwich

If you are tired of the usual toast or bagel, this is a good replacement.  The filling can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.  This can also be a quick lunch dish.

Upma Sooji
Upma Sooji (cream of wheat) Recipe by ManjulaThis is another family favorite.  You can prepare part of this dish in advance.  Follow steps 4, 5, and 6 to prepare the sooji mix.  You can refrigerate this for about one week.  Simply add boiling water with peas when ready to serve.

Enjoy!