Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Coconut Bean Curry with Collard Greens

Today's recipe is an indulgent one, creamy and rich, chockful of nutrient rich ingredients and goes well with either flat bread or any grain. As a vegetarian family, we do tend to use a lot of beans and grains in our meals. I also try to use fresh vegetables and fruits in our diet to get all the micronutrients. 

The one thing that I want to increase this year is the amount of greens we consume. Leafy greens are typically low in calories and fat and have high protein content per calorie. They also tend to have high levels of fiber, Vit. A, Vit. C, Vit. A and Vit. K. Dark greens also provide a significant amount of folate which promotes heart health. 

I had purchased Collard greens during my last grocery trip. Although I remember my mom preparing a lot of greens while I was growing up, we never had collard greens available in the markets. I had never purchased a bunch before and I now wonder why I didn't. I have been using these greens in soups, rotis (Indian flatbread) and have really enjoyed the flavor and texture. Collards are from the Brassica family, the same family that cabbages and broccoli belong to. They have large dark green leaves and a thick center stem. I use the stems also, finely chopping them ensures that they cook quickly as well. 

I also had cooked navy beans in the refrigerator. Minestrone soup had been on the menu for the week and I had about a cup leftover. I had all the ingredients to make a curry and that is what we had for lunch on Saturday.

I used my Instant Pot to make this recipe, but the same recipe can very easily be made on the stove top or in a conventional pressure cooker.


1 C cooked beans (navy beans, chick peas, red beans, any will do)

1 Can coconut milk (You can use low fat milk, I used the full fat version)

2 C chopped fresh greens (I used collard greens, but you could use spinach, chard or other greens of choice)

2 tsp oil

1 tsp cumin seeds 

1/2 C chopped onions

1/4 C tomato puree

2 tsp salt

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala or curry powder of choice

chopped fresh cilantro for garnishing


1. Switch on the electric pressure cooker on Sauté mode. Once its hot, add the oil and the cumin seeds.

2. Once the cumin seeds crackle, add the onion and fry until softened. Add the tomato puree (use chopped tomatoes as an alternative), salt and turmeric. Fry until the tomatoes are soft.

3. Add the spice powders, mix well and then stir in the greens.

4. Add a 1/4 C of water.

5. At this stage, turn the cooker off. Close the lid and hit the Steam option. Keep the vent closed.

6. Set the time to 4 minutes. Once the timer beeps, let it rest for 5 minutes and then manually vent the steam. Take care to vent away from your face.

7. Carefully open the lid. Stir the contents. The fresh greens will be cooked to tender.

8. Add the beans, the coconut milk and heat through using the Sauté mode once again.

9. Taste for salt and spice levels and adjust if necessary.

10. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice or flat bread.


1. The entire family loved this dish with rotis. I kept the spice at a medium level so that my kids could enjoy this as well.

2. The dish is naturally vegan. Although coconut milk is high in saturated fat, this is balanced in the recipe due to the fiber and the beans and the greens. A once in a while indulgence that I am comfortable with. If you would rather use low fat coconut milk, please note that the curry will be thinner and you might need to cook it down further to achieve the right consistency.

3. If you are using an Instant Pot, please make sure you follow all the guidelines set by the manufacturer. Make sure there is enough liquid in the inner pot for the food to cook properly.

4. If you are making the dish on the stove, cover and cook the greens until tender and then stir in the beans and the coconut milk.

Do try this recipe and let me know if you liked it. 

What greens do you usually use in your cooking? Do share, I am always on the lookout for more ways to include them in our diet. 

Happy Cooking !

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Toasted Pita Bread with Red Bean Filling

Today's post is a simple recipe that can be used for any meal that you might think of. It's filling, nutritious and easy to whip up as long as you have cooked beans and a few simple spices. In a pinch, a can of beans will definitely work, but cooking your own beans from scratch and having some in the refrigerator or freezer will be the cheapest and best option. It does require a little bit of pre-preparation, but beans are the most versatile ingredients that you can have in your kitchen, especially if you are plant based.

One of the easiest ways is to soak your beans of choice (there are so many!) overnight. The next day, drain the beans and cook them in fresh water until they are tender and still hold their shape. You can use a pressure cooker or cook the beans on the stovetop. Once the beans are cooked, you can either use them right away or store them in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. There are a lot of ways you can use beans - salads, rice dishes, curries, burgers...the uses are many.   

The recipe below came about because I had made the curry but didn't have any flatbread to serve it with. Pita bread to the rescue! 

So without further ado, lets take a look at the recipe.


2 Cups cooked red beans (or 1 can red beans)

1 tsp oil of choice (I used avocado oil)

1/2 chopped red onion

2 medium tomatoes

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin seed powder

1 tsp cayenne powder

1/2 tsp fennel seed powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

juice of half a lemon

1/2 C cooked rice or any other cooked grain (quinoa, barley, etc.) (optional)

1 C chopped lettuce

2 whole pita breads


1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil. Once the oil is heated through, add the chopped onion and sauté until softened. 

2. Add the chopped tomatoes and then add all the spice powders including salt.

3. Once the tomatoes are softened to your liking, add the beans and mix thoroughly.

4. Add the cooked grain if you are using it.

5. The curry should be on the dry side. 

6. Taste for salt and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

7. Switch off the flame and stir in the lemon juice.

8. Tear the pita bread in half and toast the sides.

9. Fill in the bottom part of the pita half with lettuce and then top off with the red bean mixture.

10. Serve hot with some hot sauce or ketchup.


1. My kids really enjoy these pita burritos for snacks as well as for the main meals.

2. Having the beans prepared and available will make this a very quick recipe to put together.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Steps towards self-sufficiency - Homemade turmeric powder

 I have been dreaming about and slowly working towards partial self-sufficiency in a few things that can be managed in a mostly urban area. Due to the lack of growing space and lack of time, complete self-sufficiency is not going to be possible. But there are quite a lot of things that I can still do in my urban home so as not to purchase every single thing from a store. The reasons are two fold - by not consuming a lot of processed things, I hope to maintain good health for my family for a long time. The second reason stems from my effort to be ecologically conscious, to try to tread as lightly as possible on this earth for as long as we are privileged to be here! 

To that end, I have been growing some vegetables and herbs in my backyard. As a full time working mom of two boys, I haven't been able to devote a lot of focused time to the kitchen garden and that shows in my sporadic harvests. But this past year has been slightly better. Although I got to a late start and didn't grow as many plants, I still got a very decent harvest of long beans, Armenian cucumbers, okra, amaranth, cow peas, cluster beans and spring onions. I also grew mint, rosemary, sage and oregano and was able to dry some and make my own mixed herbs. I realized that with a little bit more planning and with an organized approach, I would be able to grow a little bit more. 

One harvest that I was really looking forward to was the turmeric harvest. Turmeric is very widely used in Indian cuisine and I had long envisioned growing and making my own turmeric powder. A good friend had shared a few rhizomes with me a couple of years back. I had let the clump grow for about 2 years without harvesting at all. This year, I decided to see if there was any action going on underground at all! 

The day I cut down the long fragrant leaves of the plants and dug up the clumps was like a day at the candy store for a sweet toothed kid! I pulled out all the roots and dug around the area carefully so as not to break any rhizomes. The whole muddy clump was actually a delight to behold! 

Once cleaned and sorted, the turmeric rhizomes weighed about 4.5 pounds, which was a fantastic surprise! 

This was one of the clumps that I dug out. I had two big clumps growing next to each other. I had to dig gently up to almost 8 - 10 inches underneath the surface to get to most of the rhizomes. I think I did get everything out, if not, we will know in the spring when the rhizomes will start sending out shoots again! 

The dried flower was another bonus. I did not use it for anything, but the fragrance was out of this world. Very earthy, but also floral and heady. I would go out to the plant just to get a whiff of the flower. 

Once I harvested all the rhizomes, I got a big bucket, filled it with water and dumped everything into the water. I let it sit there for about 30 minutes and then went back and rinsed off the rhizomes pretty thoroughly, changing the water several times, until the water was clear and the rhizomes looked very clean.

Since I did this on the back patio, I was able to minimize the mud and the dirty water in the kitchen. The water went into the nearby plants!

This was the sum total of all my turmeric harvest, after the ends were chopped off and the mud was cleaned off. The darkest rhizomes on right were the original ones that I had planted. The paler ones are the new growth. I left the rhizomes on a sheet of paper in my kitchen corner for a few days.

I set aside some of the turmeric to use in pickles and other dishes. The rest of them were destined to be made into powder. After a couple of days on the sheet of paper, some of the outer skin was getting dried. I used a paper towel to brush off the dried layers and used a box grater to thinly slice the turmeric as best as I could. 
I did not boil the rhizomes before hand. I had read several articles on how to make the powder and there were two thoughts on that. Some boiled the roots in water until tender and then dried them and powdered them, others didn't. My sister in law back in India told me that she never boiled hers. She has been doing this process for a long time and so I decided to follow hers.
I spread out the slices into a single layer on a parchment lined baking tray and set it out in the sun. I covered the tray with a mesh net to prevent the slices from flying off and to prevent and birds from pecking at them.

I brought the tray back in at night and set it out again the next day. I continued the process until the slices were crisp and dried and had no hint of moisture. 
I then blended it using my Indian blender jar. 
Of course its not as finely milled as it would be in a professional mill, but for home use it will do.
The powder is also very pungent and fragrant and a little goes a long way.
It remains to be seen how long this will last for me and my family since I use turmeric powder in a lot of my dishes. 

Have you tried making turmeric powder before? Do share your tips and techniques in the comments below! 
~ Until next time, may the grass always be greener on your side of the fence ~

Friday, January 01, 2021

A little bit of luck, a whole lot of beans and greens!

"Its a new day, its a new we are, still goin' strong..."

So crooned singer Bryan Adams in his hit song - Here I am..

Seems pretty apt for the time that we all find ourselves in. Its the beginning of a brand new year. We have, hopefully learned a few things about the people around us and more importantly, a lot about ourselves. If nothing else, then 2020 should have served as the year of new insights, new adventures, new perspectives along with a dash of renewed hope, renewed contentment with what we have and a resolve to continue to improve, no matter what. 

With that, I will move on from that topic and resume with regular programming!! 

Among the many recipes that crop up during the New Years Day, I kept seeing a lot of pages devoted to a dish called Hopping John. Its a classic southern US dish, usually eaten on New Year's Day and is supposed to bring in a lot of luck. Traditionally, its a dish with rice, black eyed peas, onions and eaten with collard greens. The idea of a hearty dish with beans and greens sounded lovely for a cold day here in North Dallas and who wouldn't want a bit of fortune to go along with that? 

So that was what went on my menu plan for the day. I had to check to make sure I had some beans, I didn't want to make a trip to a grocery store just to get beans. I have been trying to limit my trips to grocery stores - less exposure, less impulsive buys and more opportunities to use up what I already have in the pantry. I knew I had about half a cup of dried black eyed peas, some red peas and frozen greens. 

I made the dish for lunch in my Instant Pot, served it up with steamed white rice and the whole family gobbled it up with relish. I hope you try this dish.

                             Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year! 


1/2 C dried black eyed peas

1/2 C red beans (Rajma)

1/2 C chopped onions

1 medium tomato, diced

2 C mixed chopped greens (I used spinach and amaranth greens)

 2 tsp oil (I used avocado oil)

1 tsp finely chopped ginger

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp curry powder ( I used Kitchen King) 

1 tsp salt

1 tsp jaggery(any unrefined sugar) (optional)


1. Wash the beans and soak them in plenty of water for at least 8 hours or overnight. I would really recommend this step so that the beans cook up very nicely.

2. Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. Once its hot, add the oil. Add the chopped onion, ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or two. 

3. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are soft. Add all the spice powders and mix well.

4. Drain the beans and add them to the pot. Add enough water to cover the beans.

5. Add chopped greens of choice. Add the salt and the jaggery and mix well.

6. Cover the lid of the Instant Pot and change the setting to Beans. This cooks on high pressure for 30 minutes. If you had soaked your beans well, this time should be sufficient. If not, you might need to cook for an additional 10 minutes. 

7. Wait for the pressure to release naturally. If you are in a hurry, wait for at least 10 minutes before a quick steam release.

8. Stir well, add more water to adjust consistency, if required. Mash a few of the beans to get a smooth texture. Serve piping hot with rice.


1. I really enjoyed this dish. Admittedly, I veered quite a bit from the original recipe, but still! The heartiness of the beans and the earthiness of the greens, combined with the potent spices is a wonderful meal. 

2. You can use a combination of any beans and greens for this dish, I would just recommend that you check the cooking times for the beans.

3. If you use canned beans and frozen greens, this can become a very quick - cooking dish.

4. I used amaranth greens that I grew in my backyard this past summer and froze the excess.  Other greens of choice would be collard greens, chard, spinach. 

5. You could use powdered ginger and garlic, but fresh is always better! 

6. Instead of white rice, you could always use quinoa, brown rice or millet or any grain of your choice. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

16 Bean Dosa - High Protein breakfast

Food - a simple concept most of the time, or at least it should be. But it seems like everytime I turn around, there are changes in scientific research that either vilify a particular food or glorify it to such an extreme that prices then are necessarily through the proverbial roof!
As a person trying my best to feed my family healthy meals, I have found that exercising moderation in all aspects is the golden key to solving this food puzzle. In an effort to reduce the over consumption of  polished white rice, I am always on the lookout for recipes that utilize other grains / lentils and beans. My niece had remarked once that she used a combination of beans in her dosa batter and had achieved good results. The light bulb went off the next time I was pondering over the weekend breakfast.
I had some 16 bean mix that I had purchased from the bulk bins of my local Natural Food market.
(As an aside, if you have access to any grocery store that has bulk bins - Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods, Winco, do check out their bulk bins. They have an amazing variety of items that you can try and incorporate into a healthy eating routine.)
I soaked a cup and a half of the 16 bean mix overnight. The next morning, I drained the beans and ground them up in my blender with an inch of fresh ginger, a couple of green chillies and a handful of fresh cilantro. I added a sufficient quantity of water to ensure that the blender ran smoothly and to get a free flowing batter. I also added half acup of semolina and a teaspoon of salt.
You could also add half a cup of rice flour instead to ensure that the batter spreads evenly and has a crispy texture.
This batter does not need any fermentation time. I let it sit for about 15 minutes while I did some other chores. 

I served the dosas along with coconut chutney and the family indulged in a rice free, protein rich breakfast that didnt take too much effort to put on the table.

1.5 C of mixed beans and lentils (Either store bought or mix it yourself)
1 inch fresh ginger
2 -3 green chillies (depending on taste)
1/2 C finely chopped cilantro
1/2 C finely chopped onion (optional)
1/2 C semolina or rice flour
1 tsp salt or to taste

1. Soak the beans overnight. This will ensure that the beans are soft enough for grinding. If you do not have a high powered blender, then make sure you grind in batches and rest the blender in between to prevent an overload.
2. Drain the beans and discard the soaking water, Blend the beans in batches, if required along with the ginger, chillies and cilantro.
3. Remove the mixture into a pot / vessel. Add the semolina or rice flour and adjust to a pouring consistency by adding sufficient water. Add the salt.
4. Add the onions if using and mix well.
5. Heat a pan well and then make dosas by pouring a ladle of the batter and spreading it out on the pan with the back of the ladle in a circular motion.
6. Cover the dosa to ensure that it gets cooked well. Drizzle a little oil around the edges of the dosa.
7. Flip the dosa and cook it on the other side for a while.
8. Serve hot with accompaniment of your choice.

As with any other dosa / pancake, make the first one slightly thick. Subsequent dosas can be spread thinly. Make sure the pan is sufficiently hot before you start making the dosas.
I prefer to eat dosas while they are piping hot. These will still taste good when cold, but eat them while they are hot if possible!