Festive baby kale Christmas salad

20151219_163740Vegetarians –check, Vegans – check, Rawtarians – check, meat eaters – check. Everyone will be happy with this colourful festive baby kale Christmas salad.
I wanted to make this layered salad for a Christmas potluck & really, really wanted to capture the festivities of the holiday season. My neighbourhood is so bright and sparkly with lights everywhere. So I got into the mood and made this super easy to make salad.20151219_164329

You need
2 cups beets, cooked, peeled and cubed
2 cups fresh strawberries
2 cups organic baby kale
1 cup grated carrot
2 cups avocado
Spice oil dressing
2 tbsp fresh lemon/lime juice
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 dry red chilies
1 tsp urad dal
2 curry leaves
Serves 8

How to

• Wash beets thoroughly. Boil till tender. Peel and cube.

 • Wash strawberries, Cube same size as beets. Wash and cut kale. Wash avocado. Seed and cut. Squeeze In 1 tbsp. lemon juice so that avocadoes keep their bright green colour.  Set aside.

• Heat 1 tbsp oil and saute kale till wilted. Rawterains can leave out this step.

• Layer beets in outer layer first in bowl
• Next layer kale just inside beets
• Then layer strawberries
• Next layer avocado
• Top with grated carrot.
• Squeeze in remaining lemon juice.

• Heat 1 tbsp oil. Toast sesame seeds, urad dal, curry leaf and red chillies. Pour spice oil over salad. Stir everything together just before serving. Serve chilled.
suggested toppings/ substitutes
try replacing strawberries with apples.
add pumpkin seeds, raisins, cranberries to spice oil to up the festive look.
20151219_163817what’s your go to Christmas salad recipe? Try this one, guaranteed crowd pleaser. Everyone will also love its visual appeal 🙂



Roasted butternut squash, pear, apple soup in turmeric & garlic spice oil

IMG_0004I’m so excited. I got a new dslr camera. After a long time of wishing I could post blogs daily. But unable to as my smart phone while does a pretty good job, can’t really capture the yumminess of meals I’m making daily.

Hence the canon dslr. I’m an absolute novice when it comes to devices. Yes, I often get asked by friends when I visit them. Oh you are a techie instructor. My printer isn’t working. Can you take a look at it? Never one to step away from help. I’ll gladly look at your printers, but there’s not much else I can do about it, I’m afraid. I teach software so if there’s a computer language out there that you need help with, I’ll gladly roll up my sleeves & find the answer for you, but appliances, devices, cars can be a tad frightening for this techie girl 🙂  

Speaking of which, you are absolutely going to love today’s post. I’m sure you’ve had butternut squash soup. Its not a newcomer to the world of soups.

IMG_0008But wait till you try my variation. An apple, a pear, a full head of garlic, and of course my special spice oil will really bring a fresh take on an old classic.

You need

1 medium butternut squash
1 medium cripps apple
1 red bartlett pear
1 whole head garlic


Spice Mix

½ tsp turmeric powder
2 dry red chilies
¼ tsp cumin
Salt to taste

Serves 4

How to
Wash butternut squash thoroughly. Cut into big chunks. Place in baking pan.
• Wash apple and pear, remove seeds and cut into chunks. Place in baking pan together with whole head of garlic.
• Brush 2 tbsp oil on the squash, apple, pear and garlic & toss veggies in pan till everything is nicely coated with oil.
• Bake in 3500C oven for 1 hour or till veggies are nicely roasted.
• Let cool and remove peel from squash. Some people think its ok to keep the peel on. I’m never sure. Since my food handling certification, I learnt how squash is not always grown in the most sanitary of conditions & can come in contact with contaminated soil. So wash thoroughly if you are not using certified organic. And because its tough to peel when raw , peel comes away easily after roasting. Peel roasted garlic.
• Keep skin on roasted apple and pear.
• Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan. Add cumin, turmeric, red chili & roasted garlic & sauté lightly.
• Now add the roasted squash, apple and pear. Add in 2 cups water and heat lightly for spices to integrate into the soup.
• Turn off heat. Puree soup in food processor.
• Serve warm with roasted chickpeas as garnish. Yum !

Health Benefits
Butternut squash is fantastic in anti-oxidants. Its one of the richest sources of plant based anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3s and beta-carotene. These are important for a strong immune system to help protect against colds and flu.
Apples are great for you. Though they don’t contain a lot of iron, they do help in iron absorption.
Garlic’s key ingredient, Allicin. is responsible for lipid-lowering, anti-blood coagulation, anti-hypertension, anti-cancer, antioxidant and anti-microbial effects.
Pears are a good source of fiber.
Turmeric is anti-inflammatory.
Cumin is a digestive.

With this whopping list of goodies for your health, plus an amazing taste explosion with my take on butternut squash, what are you waiting for? Hurry, get yourself a squash & make this soup soon so you too can taste this divine goodness and all the health that goes with it.

Please send along advice, tips n tricks to make my photos pop. I would greatly appreciate anything you can share with me re taking the best pix of food.

What do you think. Do you like the dslr pix? Do they come out clearer than my previous smart phone pix?


Chickpea Basmati Pulao – One pot dish

20151125_201938When it gets cold and all you want to do is snuggle up to warm tastes with least effort. 
Its time for one-pot meals to make their appearance.
No fuss, easy to make, spicy, warming, comforting – hope you enjoy my take on classic pulao

You need
4 tbsp. roasted chickpeas
2 tbsp. fresh spinach
2 tbsp. carrot slivers
2 tbsp. cauliflower
½ cup basmati rice
Spice Mix
2 whole brown cardamoms
½ tsp turmeric powder
4 cashews split in half
4 green chilies, slit
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fresh garlic
2 cloves
Salt to taste
Serves 2

How to
• Heat oil in pan. Add all spices and sauté till spices release fragrance.
• Add cauliflower and carrot and let lightly cook.
• Meanwhile rinse basmati rice thoroughly several times in cold water. Drain water & set aside.
• Add rinsed basmati rice to pan along with chopped spinach. Sauté everything and add salt to taste.
• Toss in the roasted cayenne chickpeas. (Apsara tip – no time to make the roasted chickpeas. quick substitute – use canned as a last resort. otherwise. soak 2 tbsp. chickpeas overnight, and drain before adding at this stage)
• Add ½ cup to ¾ cup water. Depending on how aged your basmati is. The older the basmati the more water it will drink, but it will also be more fluffy & each grain will stand out beautifully without sticking together. New basmati needs lesser water.
• Let come to boil and then turn heat to low and cover. Pulao will continue cooking process for about 5 minutes or so & then turn heat off. Let rest covered for about 5 minutes, before removing lid.
• Fluff with fork.
• Serve with a dollop of yoghurt.



silky farmer’s cheese with charred onion, tomato, bell pepper

20151123_185924I had an unusual request. Last night a dear friend called asking if I would go visit her. It was late. I was tired making my way home to cook supper. But as I stopped to listen, I felt totally moved by her desire. She hadn’t gone out in 2 weeks as she had been taking care of her mother-in-law who had come down with a bad bout of the flu. She was craving company. I wasn’t sure I could go visit her as I was really tired and had a class to teach the next day and sadly told her that.

Later as I was making dinner, her plea tugged at my heart. I decided to go visit. Since my dinner so satisfied me, I prepared a takeout container to share with her and made my way out into the cold dark night.

The drive wasn’t bad despite the soft snow. Soon I reached her place where she was busy cooking an invalid meal of applesauce for the patient in bed. I was really glad I made up my mind to visit. Having gone through some times where I would have done anything for some warm company I could relate to her desire.

Hope my recipe will help warm you as well.

You need
1 cup cubed Indian farmer’s cheese(paneer)
1 cup large chunks red onion
1 cup cubed green pepper
1 cup cubed tomatoes
1 tbsp coconut oil
the spices
1 tsp chopped cilantro
½ tsp red chilli flakes
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp fresh garlic
¼ tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste


Serves 3






How to
•  Heat pan and smear with coconut oil. Spread the cubed farmer’s cheese and turn every few minutes so all sides are nicely browned. Remove and set aside.

•  Heat oil in pan. Add cumin seeds, garlic, tumeric & red onion chunks and sauté till onions get slightly charred.
•  Quickly add the bell peppers and sauté till still crisp.
•  Add the tomatoes and salt.
•  Add the cubed browned farmer’s cheese and & give everything a nice stir.
•  Sprinkle with red chili flakes and chopped cilantro.
•  Serve with whole grain chapatti or bread.

20151123_190321This is a fragrant dish. The bell peppers with silky farmer’s cheese, plus the charred onions & tomatoes ensure that everyone will want some. My lunch had coworkers sniffing the air appreciatively 🙂

Have you ever dashed out when someone asked you to.. Do you like the feeling of being able to help.. Try it out.. guaranteed to make you feel warm..


Garlicky Beet greens with Quinoa pasta

20151122_173857 (2)

Stop! Don’t throw those beet greens away.. They are really tasty & awfully good for you. And I’m going to share with you exactly how you can put them to good use.

Its been ages since I shared a food recipe. You might be tempted to believe that I haven’t been cooking. Far from it. Truth be told.. I’ve been cooking up a daily storm. And I’ve been cooking at my yoga center on Thursdays. I’ve become the chef on Thursdays. Ahem! It feels nice to have a couple of helpers in the kitchen. It was getting a bit lonely cooking all by myself.

 Other than a spot of work travel, a couple of new courses that I designed and taught, I’m also delighted to announce that my yoga center partnered with Doctors without Borders “Medicins sans frontiers” to raise funds for work in Syria. This was a 30-day long event culminating in a concert on the final day. When the organizer asked if I would sing I jumped at the chance. I’ve been a singer for a long time, and love to sing, especially for worthy causes like this. Instead of giving handouts the doctors actually go on the field and provide urgent medical care and attention.

 How could I not help? I said yes and then had to think about fellow musicians. The ones I used to play with had moved on to other cities. Luckily, 2 musicians showed up in my life just in time for the Syria concert. A classic case of ‘ask and you shall receive’  🙂 we practiced and it was so interesting, blending my Indian classical music with western instrumentalists who were trained in a completely different musical tradition. The end result was phenomenal, the recording wasn’t clear so I’m posting some pix instead.

Macaroni1Now for the recipe I want to share with you. I found the quinoa pasta in Costco. Wasn’t really sure how I would use it or even how it would taste. But it looked really delicate and pretty unlike whole wheat pasta or gluten free pasta which can look downright mean 🙂

1 cup GoGO red and white quinoa pasta
2 cups beet stems and greens
½ cup red onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. coconut oil
Spice Mix
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 hot green pepper
1 tbsp fresh garlic
½ tsp urad dal
Salt to taste
Serves 2


•  Remove stems with leaves intact from beets. Wash thoroughly and chop into 1 cm length approx.
•  Heat oil in pan. Add mustard seeds, let them splutter, then add urad dal, green chili, and chopped garlic. Sauté lightly and then add chopped onions and salt.
•  Sauté greens till cooked and then toss in the beet stem and leaves.
•  Let cook and then squeeze in lime juice to balance off the greens. Set aside.
•  Boil 1 cup quinoa pasta in 2 cups water. I got this beauty at Costco and haven’t stopped singing its praises. Just watch out since it cooks super fast, less than ½ the time of regular pasta. Drain water and serve beet greens on top of the pasta. I added chopped walnuts for a nice crunch.

Health Benefits

20151122_174056There’s something about greens! I feel so fresh and alive after a meal with greens 🙂 Did you like this recipe where I tried an unusual mix and match? Beet greens that we would normally throw away combined with quinoa in pasta form.. Creating new recipes out of old is what I love.

Besides look at all the goodness – protein, phosphorus, and zinc, beet greens are also a great source of fiber. Packed with antioxidants, they’re high in vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, and low in fat and cholesterol. Best of all, the vitamin K in beet greens contains blood clotting properties, helps ward off osteoporosis, works with calcium to boost bone strength, and may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, beet greens have a higher iron content than spinach, and a higher nutritional value than the beetroot itself.

I also love the premise of musicians of different backgrounds coming together to play. Its possible to combine indian music melodically… with clarinet, harmonica, keyboards & western drums.. in the spirit of yoga, or oneness…its possible … to overcome all barriers of language, borders, and differences through … the language of music. Here we are, Jeremy on the clarinet, Richard on the drums and me singing.



Chinese Cold Tea


Pride comes before a fall 🙂 Having boasted about not catching a cold for about 3 years, it was time to show some humility. I caught a cold.. not a nagging, 2-week long one that others had. Mine was just 3-days of suffering in all.. Could it be due to the benefits of yoga & meditation.. when you fall sick, recovery is quicker. Still the cold did not feel pleasant, all stuffy and tired.. I couldn’t do much. With a teaching job, I also couldn’t speak so had to bluohang1orrow a mike. My friend made some awesome Chinese tea that I really loved. It has a mystery ingredient that helps relieve colds.

When she brought me the mystery fruit from her special market, I rightaway made a huge pot of tea and kept sipping all day at work. My throat felt better, it was like a soft massage to my throat. Hope you enjoy this too.

1 luohanguo
3 fresh dates(use dry dates if fresh not available)
4-5 almonds, peeled
2 cups water
Spice Mix
1 tbsp crushed fresh ginger


• Soak almonds in hot water and peel. Set aside.
• Boil 2 cups water with dates, luohanguo, almonds, and fresh ginger
• Remove from heat.
• Sip all day long.
• Hint: since the herbs and spices sit soaking in water, the tea can get strong through the day. But its caffeine free. Dilute with some fresh water when drinking.

Did you like this Chinese cold tea. When you try it, I’d love to hear how it helped your throat.20151107_120240










Crunchy roasted cayenne chickpeas

Crunchy roasted channa are my favourite. They are a great street food and you can find them at every corner market in delhi. But I got tired of looking for this Delhi street food classic in grocery stores.  Stores in Canada tend to carry excessively salty & overly spiced roasted channa in packages. So I decided to make my own and was truly surprised by how good home made roasted channa can be. Nothing out of a can, nothing overly oily, or spiced, just hints of spices for an amazing home made snack.

1 cup chickpeas, soaked, rinsed and cooked till soft
Spice Mix
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste


• Wash dry chickpeas thoroughly and soak in fresh water overnight. Next morning, rinse thoroughly and cook till soft. I use a pressure cooker as a great time saver.
• Set aside to cool.
• Meanwhile heat oven to 350 degrees C.

• Wipe down cooked chickpeas thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel..so no trace of outside moisture remains. This is very important to get them crunchy.
• Toss in olive oil and let bake for about 20 minutes, turning once.

• You’ll know chickpeas are done, when they smell like toasted heaven and coloured light caramel.
• Bring out of oven, shake cayenne pepper & salt to coat all over.
• Serve up with your favourite beverage, madras coffee is a great complement.

Try it by itself, or in salad. I added them as a topping to ruby jewel beet salad I took for a 15 k hike for my friends who love this salad..


Or sprinkle them in your pastas. like I did for today’s lunch..so many possibilities.


Reach for them in the afternoon when your energy levels dip for a healthy & tasty accompaniment to caffeine. Be warned! highly addictive..I polished off the first batch single-handedly in no time.

Hope you get to try my snack! Let me know how it came out for you. Most importantly let me know if you had any leftovers 🙂