Bourghul Upma

One of the best things about a holiday for me is the fact that I don’t have to drink cold Smoothies for breakfast. I mean I like Smoothies but if I have to choose between a chilled glass of fruits mushed up with Oats with some Almonds and water pretending to be Milk or a plate of a hot breakfast made fresh in the morning with a cup or two of Chai, guess what I will go for? Yes, you got it a hot breakfast it will be.


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Processed with VSCO with 8 preset


I have also found that I feel less grumpy or moody when I have started the day with a hot meal. Sadly the demands of corporate life don’t allow for the provision of a hot meal to start your working day, so weekends or holidays become the beacon of my desi breakfast blues. Maybe it is a childhood thing, waking up to the sounds and smells of Maa cooking something hot for you while shouting at you to get ready for school at the same time. We never started a day with a cold breakfast, never.


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Infact I remember the first time my uncle got us a box of Cornflakes from Doha; it sat above the fridge for almost 3 months before we figured out what to do with it. One day I decided to self initiate myself into this world of western breakfast, so I put some chilled milk in a bowl, dropped a lot of Cornflakes in it with a few large teaspoons of Sugar because Cornflakes don’t have Sugar do they, and did not like it. So I transferred all the contents of the bowl in a pan and heated the mixture till it became a slushy mass of goop that was so inedible that I was put entirely off Cornflakes.


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Thankfully, today is not the day to put off breakfast, especially when it is a hot savory breakfast; it is the day to make a delicious Bourghul Upma. Wikipedia states that Bourghul is a cereal food made from the cracked parboiled groats of several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat. I am not sure if this is the same as Daliya, but it looks like it. it is a naturally high-fiber, low-fat, low-calorie food that is also very easy to make. It also makes a great leftover which you can eat with some pickle and yogurt.


Here is the recipe (Serves 4, cooking time 30 minutes)


1 cup Bourghul soaked in water for atleast 1 hour

1 cup of chopped vegetables (I used Carrots & Capsicum)

1 chopped Onion

¼ cup Green Peas

7 – 8 Curry Leaves

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

2 tsp Urad Dal (White lentils)

1 tsp freshly chopped Ginger

Salt to taste

1 ½ tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Red Chilli powder

1 tsp Coriander powder

2 green chilies finely chopped

1 tbsp Vegetable oil

Freshly chopped Coriander for garnishing

3 cups of Water to cook


Wash the Bourghul properly a few times in water and then drain the water from the Bourghul and keep it aside

Heat oil in a pan and the Mustard seeds and Urad dal and cook on a low flame till the dal is slightly brown

Now add the Ginger, Green chilies and Curry leaves

Add the chopped Onion and cook till it is translucent

Then add the Carrots & Capsicum and saute for 5 – 7 minutes

Now add the Bourghul, all the spices and mix really well. The Bourghul needs to be coated really well with the masala. Keep stirring, or it will stick to the pan.

Add 3 cups of water and the green peas and let it come to a boil.

Cover and cook till the Bourghul is done. You will notice the texture becomes really soft when done.

Serve hot garnished with fresh Coriander and drizzle it with some Lemon Juice.

Hariyali Tofu Salad – Marinated Tofu in green Chutney with Salad

Someone told me the other day that, we should always remain positive and look at the bright side of things. So when I made terrible Rava Idlis on the weekend, the bright side became the delicious coriander chutney that I made with it, which thankfully was not that terrible.


Not the one to give up, I wanted to put the chutney to good use. Luckily I had some Tofu in the fridge, and that meant I could combine them both and come up with some really tasty and healthy as well. As a rule, the Punjabi in me hates anything that pretends to be Paneer (Cottage Cheese) and Tofu in my books is an impostor trying hard to look like my favorite Paneer. But having said that it is a healthy option and one that is easily available in the markets of Sydney.



Also lately I have been very inspired by BeerBiceps and his take on health and fitness. I love his straightforward and scientific approach to fitness and Indian food and find the information he shares easy to incorporate into my daily life (who thought I would be inspired by a health food blogger right). Hence this Hariyali Tofu salad came about. It was super easy to make and gave me the satisfaction of putting something good in my tummy. You can substitute the Tofu with Paneer or Chicken breast, and it is a great addition to be used in wraps, sandwiches, salads, Kababs and even to eat on its own.


Recipe: Cooking time 10 minutes


For the chutney

2 cups of Coriander leaves, washed and clean

1 tbsp desiccated Coconut

1 tbsp Curd (You can skip this for a dairy free version)

1 tbsp of peanuts (without skin) – You can skip Peanuts for a nut-free version

Salt to taste

4 – 5 Green chilies

Juice of a Lemon

Add all the ingredients in a grinder and blitz to a smooth paste. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.


For the Salad:

250 Gms Tofu  (You can substitute Tofu with Paneer/Chicken breasts. The cooking time for the Chicken will be longer)

Salad leaves

Juice of half a lemon

1 tsp Olive oil

1 diced Tomato or Beetroot

Marinate the Tofu in the chutney for atleast 30 minutes or preferably overnight

Heat 1 tsp Olive oil in a pan and grill the Tofu on all sides till golden, drain on an absorbent kitchen towel

Mix the Olive Oil & Lemon juice together and drizzle on the Salad leaves with the Tomato or Beetroot

Add the Tofu

Serve it any way you like and enjoy, I served it with some Moong dal with a small teaspoon of Ghee and brown rice. It made for a very balanced lunch.

Hearty Meals look like these – Chana Dal with Pumpkin

They say beauty needs no ornaments and we all know it is true. Someone who is beautiful doesn’t need expensive clothes, make up or jewellery to look good. They could wear the shabbiest of clothes and still their beauty can outshine someone who is better dressed.

Same goes for good food. Although food also has to be visually appealing, something that is really simple and delicious can taste much better then something you spend hours making and then more time in decorating it.


And this Vegetable dal that I make is something that fits into this category. It is simple, delicious and very healthy but doesn’t look like a fancy restaurant quality dish. I would not serve this when I am hosting an elaborate dinner party, I would serve it when I am cooking for my family. I guess Hearty meals don’t need to look like anything else.


When you look at this dal you would think it is plain and boring. But when you take the first bite and all the delicate, soft flavors hit your taste buds you know you are eating something that is not plain.

My mother made this dal often and my brother and me would dunk big chunks or pao (Indian buns) in it and eat it. It was one of my options when I used to fall sick as it is a very subtle dal with the only masala in it being Cumin powder so you are not hit with something intensely powerful but something soft and easy on your palate. We also use whole Green and Red Chillies so they can be removed easily if you are serving it to kids.  It is a meal in itself and you don’t need to make anything else to go with it.

I love making a huge bowl of this dal and then we eat it over a period of days as it can stay in the fridge easily for 5 – 6 days without getting spoiled. Try it and tell me what you think, I am sure it will become a huge favorite in your house after you have made it once.

Here is the recipe (cooking time 30 – 40 minutes, serves 6 -8)

2 cups Chana Dal

1 small white Onion finely chopped

1 1/2 cup of diced Pumpkin (I leave the skin on)

3 dry Red Chillies

3 Green chillies

1 ½ tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Jeera powder (Cumin powder)

1 tsp Cumin seeds

1 tsp Methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)

1 1/2 tsp freshly grated Ginger (do not use store brought ginger, I usually just grate the Ginger on top of the dal)

Salt to taste

1 tbsp Ghee (non-negotiable)

Freshly chopped Green coriander for garnishing

1)    Wash the dal and pressure cook it with around 5 cups water, some Salt and ½ tsp Turmeric powder for 10 minutes or 6 whistles. The dal has to be half cooked. Let the cooker release all steam before you open it. If you are not using a pressure cooker you will have to cook the dal for longer as Chana dal is a bit tough to cook.

2)    While the dal is cooking in a thick bottomed pan heat the Ghee. Add the cumin and methi seeds. Once they start to splutter add the Red and Green chillies and the chopped Onion and sauté for a few minutes till the Onion has turned translucent.

3)    Add the Pumpkin pieces to this. Cover and cook on a medium flame for 7 – 10 minutes.

4)    Now add the dal, rest of the Turmeric powder, Jeera powder and more Salt to taste. Once the dal has come to a boil reduce the heat and grate the Ginger directly on the dal and sprinkle the freshly chopped Coriander and let it cook till the Pumpkin and dal is done.

If the consistency is too thick add ½ cup of hot water to it. Serve it with some plain boiled rice and you will be a very happy person once the meal is done.

The sick person’s comfort food – Simple Mung Dal with Ghee

I have been a bit under the weather of late. Not sure what ails me but a strange sense of melancholy seems to have gotten hold of my mind and I can’t seem to shake it off. Plus a very bad back pain doesn’t help do anything to the mood either. I have had to slow down and almost confine myself to the bed, so I can get better.

And we all know who we miss and long for when we are sick, yes our mother. I really have been missing her more than I do because of how I am feeling right now. So the best thing I can do to feel that she is around me is to cook something she used to make for me whenever I used to be sick.

So I have been making a lot of plain “Mung dal” and drowning myself in a bowl full of it. Typically the dal is just boiled with some Salt and Turmeric and served on some hot rice with a big dollop of Ghee on it. However even as a child I used to love my flavors so I used to never eat the plain dal and beg my mom to add some spices and Tomatoes.  And to please me my mom used to do the same and even give it a tempering with Garlic and Ghee.

Also those were the having a bit of an extra Ghee and putting on weight was not a big issue. So she would put another dollop of Ghee of my dal and rice and boy it always managed to cheer me up. It is so simple and plain but is very nutritious and very comforting. And that is what I have been craving for, so I made it for myself and felt instant gratification.


Here is the recipe (cooking time 30 minutes, serve 4 – 5)

1 1/2 cup yellow mung dal.

1 large Tomato finally chopped

2 – 3 green chillies slit into 2

1 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp Ghee (Do not substitute it with anything else)

Salt to taste

1 tsp Asafoetida

3 cloves of Garlic sliced thinly

1) Wash the Dal and put it in a pressure cooker with Tomatoes, Green chillies, Salt and Turmeric.  Add 3  cups of water and  pressure cook it for 3 whistles.

2) Turn the heat off and let all the pressure release.

3) In a small pan heat the Ghee once it is hot add the cumin seeds, Garlic and Asafoetida, once the Garlic starts to turn brown add the tempering straight into the pressure cooker on the cooked Dal.

Serve it hot with some Rice and maybe, just maybe if you are feeling a little greedy add another dollop of Ghee.

Memories of childhood brought back with Carrot and Peas cooked the Indian way (Gajar Matar ki sabzi)

We all love food that has memories associated with it. A story, an incident, something that reminds you of why you fell in love with it or why you hate it.

My Carrot and Pea sabzi is one such dish which has some very fond memories tied to it. When I was around 15 I had some problems with my eye and my vision started to blur. After a few checks up I was recommended prescription glasses which at that time were very expensive.

Those were the days when we couldn’t afford a lot of things and buying a pair of glasses were something that was almost like a dream. And it made my mother feel really guilty and inadequate like mothers feel in such situations.

Then someone mentioned how eating Carrots was good for the eye sight and luckily we had a garden where we grew Carrots. So my darling mother in her zeal to fix her daughter’s eyes started to make everything with Carrot in it. And this dish was something she made almost every day till I got sick of it and even the thought of Carrots would make me want to throw up.


I found it in my lunch box, for dinner and sometimes she would force feed it to me in breakfast as well. It was pure torture. Finally we did manage to buy a pair of prescription glasses for me but by that time I had developed a distaste for this dish and absolutely hated it.


However after I moved away from home I somehow started making this dish again as it was associated with my mothers love. So every time I miss her I make this especially because we get Carrots all year round in Perth but I don’t have my mom here 🙁  I guess it is my way of acknowledging the pains that my mother went through to give us everything we needed.  So on that sombre not I will allow you to read the recipe which is very easy and stress free to make.

Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes, serves 4)

5 – 6 medium sized Carrots

1 cup Green peas

1 tsp freshly grated Ginger

1 tsp Asafoetida

1 tsp Dry mango powder

1 tsp Red Chilli powder

1 tsp Cumin powder

Salt to taste

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Vegetable Oil

1) Boil the carrots in salted water till half cooked. Drain the water and chop the Carrots into bite size pieces and keep aside.

2) Heat oil in a pan and add the Cumin seeds, Asafoetida and fresh ginger. Once the seeds start to splutter add the Carrots and mix well.

3) Add the Green peas, cover and cook on a medium flame for 7 – 10 minutes.

4) Add some more Salt to taste, Cumin powder and Red chilli powder and mix well. Turn off the heat and add the Dry mango powder.

Serve with hot rotis.

PS: Try and get Carrots which are not too sweet or you will not enjoy this dish at all.

From a Punjabi Kitchen – Baingan Bharta (Roasted Eggplant cooked Indian style)

They say you can take a Punjabi out of India but not India out of a Punjabi. I have been living in Perth for a few years now but the Punjabi in me refuses to loose my penchant for all things Punjabi. I cook the usual fare at home more often than not and usually on days when I miss home. And the dish that spells out home for me is “Baingan Bharta” which is roasted Eggplants cooked in the Punjabi way.

1-IMG_0447Being a very North Indian dish there a few variations to it but all of them ask for the Eggplant to be roasted on a bed of coals or for the modern woman on a gas. There is a beautiful smokiness that the Eggplant gets after roasting and for me that is what gives it the distinctive flavor that we Punjabis love.

ImageWhen I moved to Perth a few years ago I stayed in a rented apartment that had an Induction cook top which meant I could not roast the Eggplant. I had an Oven, but I find that the final dish never tastes the same. Now you can imagine how sad it made me knowing that I could not make this delicious dish.

ImageSo to take care of my Bharta blues  I had to resort to finding restaurants in Perth that served it. Every restaurant I visited claimed to have it as a house specialty. So my first question to them would always be “How do you make it? ” and ofcourse they all reassured me of the authenticity of the Bharta and everytime I would be sorely disappointed. Till I moved to my own place where I had a proper gas and could allow myself the luxury.

1-IMG_0468Let me tell you that roasting an Eggplant on the gas can be a messy business with all the juices bursting from the Eggplant and running over your gas, making it a task to clean it all up later. So I put a Aluminum Foil on the surface of my fob and then go about with all the roasting business. Which means any juices that release fall on the foil.

ImageIt surely holds a special place on a Punjabi dinner table and is enjoyed with some hot Rotis sprinkled with some Ghee. I use the Leftover Bharta as a sandwich filling and it tastes superb too. I am sure you have your own way of making this but I hope you will try my way too.

Recipe (Cooking time 40 minutes, serves 4)

1 Large Eggplant

1 Large Onion chopped really finely.

2 Large Tomatoes chopped finely

1 large Green Chilli, sliced thinly

1 tsp Red Chilli powder

1 tsp Cumin powder

Salt to taste

1/2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 tsp Cumin seeds

Freshly chopped Coriander

1/2 cup Green peas (boiled)

1/2 tsp Clove Powder (This is a tip that Anshie from Spiceroots gave me to enhance the smokiness of the Eggplant)

Roasting the Eggplant:

Wash the Eggplant and Pat dry. If you are a cleanliness freak like me, line the base of your gas with some Aluminum foil before you put the Eggplant to roast. Coat the Eggplant with a little Oil and roast it well on a medium flame keeping a close eye making sure it does not burn and turning it around after every few minutes so it is cooked through.

You can also Roast the Eggplant in an oven however you will have to prick it with a knife in several place so it does spurt the juices all over your oven. Also cover it with Aluminum foil else you will have a burned mess. Once the Eggplant is roasted well, let it cool for a few minutes before you remove the Skin.

Mash the Eggplant into a pulp using a fork. It is easier to do this when the Eggplant is warm.

Cooking the Bhartha:

Heat oil in a Kadhai or a pan and add the Cumin seeds. Once they Splutter add the Onion and the Green chillies and cook till the Onions have been translucent.

Add the Tomatoes and cook will till the the Tomatoes start to release Oil and have mashed completely.

Add the mashed Egg plant, Salt, Cumin powder and Red chilli powder and mix well. Let it cook on a low flame for 5 – 7 minutes.

Add the boiled Green peas and cook for another 7 – 10 minutes.

Once the dish is cooked sprinkle the Clove powder and Green coriander.