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 Tumeric!

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:


  • 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


  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


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!


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.

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.


E-Book: Best of Indian Vegetarian Recipes (2nd Edition)

You’ve watched all of the videos and followed all of Manjula’s time tested Recipes on the website. Now, you can have the best of Manjula’s Delicious Recipes, all in one book.
This beautiful 2nd Edition is now available as a PDF ebook with updated and revised recipes, full color photos, and embedded links to the online videos.

If you love Indian vegetarian cooking and wish you knew how to create magnificent dishes for your friends and family, this book of delicious recipes is for you.

You will learn how to make over ONE HUNDRED mouthwatering Indian vegetarian dishes including Samosas, Naan, Roti, Palak Paneer, Vegetable Korma, Gulab Jamun, and many more. Best of all, you can follow my time-tested recipes without any prior cooking knowledge and feel confident of surprising yourself and impressing your friends with your achievement.

Buy this e-book


Buy this e-book


Buy this e-book

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



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