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A Simple Homemade Dressing

Homemade Salad Dressing

Mom and Dad will be here tomorrow. I will hand over the kitchen to my mom once she is here.It’s the best thing about mom being here ūüôā

But it creates a dilemma. My mom’s diet is primarily Indian. She will rarely venture into salad’s.

Vipul is still mainly eating salads. But he cannot will not make dressing.

Even if its a simple act of putting together olive oil and lemon/ balsamic vinegar to conjure up a dressing, it is filled with questions.

How much lemon juice? Is this much olive oil a lot? Should I add pepper? Or garlic? How about fresh herbs? It still doesn’t taste like what we had two nights ago!

I roll my eyes.

Call it a combination of late pregnancy hormones, exhaustion and general 10 years of marriage ūüėČ

Here is a simple homemade dressing , bottled up and kept in the fridge.

No more every day Q & A session on how to make a dressing.

Take it out of the fridge, warm it up in microwave a bit, pour as much or as little, toss and serve.

We have sorted out one thing out.

Now the questions have changed.

Which cheese, which mix-ins, which bowl,… ( Le sigh! I exaggerate for effect ;))

Simple Homemade Dressing Recipe

  • 3/4 cup ¬†Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon Mustard sauce
  • 1 – 1 1/2 ¬†tablespoon Garlic finely minced
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bottle. Shake it till mixed through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Pour over salad immediately or refrigerate for later use.

Crunchy Raddichio, Beans and Broccoli Salad In Soy Sriracha Dressing


I was getting tired of the green salad recipes. I suppose Vipul was too so to mix things up a little, I made him a crunchy salad.

I had celery, broccoli, green beans and raddichio on hand. The last was an impulse buy. This is a winter vegetable. In season here in US. A new one to add to our routine. Its purple and white ribbed leaves are so beautiful. Tempting. Inviting.


I didn’t really know what to do with it and was torn between roasting it and eating it as is. I ate one raw, and it was so bitter. I know based on my Indian cooking experience that if a vegetable is bitter, blanching it in water removes the bitterness. I decided to go with that approach.

Raddichio was chopped and soaked in hot water.

Broccoli and green beans were blanched in hot water.

Kidney beans were marinated.


Everything was tossed in a soy sriracha dressing and served with salmon.

It was crunchy, flavorful, a little spicy and a little tangy.

Vipul was tired of chewing all the crunchy vegetables so if your guy is like him then serve it as a side rather than a main salad. I topped mine with cold soba noodles in sesame oil and let me tell you it was 100% yumm!

Will make this again, in a heart beat.

Note: Sriracha sauce has sugar in it. So if you are on no sugar diet, replace sriracha sauce with another hot sauce of your choice.


Crunchy Raddichio, Beans and Broccoli Salad In Soy Sriracha Dressing Recipe

  • 1/2 head of raddichio thinly sliced (about 2 cups of sliced leaves)
  • 3 cups hot water + 2 cups water to blanch vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (use less if you want it to be little less spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly.
  • 1 1/2 cups brocoli chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup green beans diced
  • 1/2 cup celery diced

1. Soak the raddichio leaves in hot water for about 20 – 30 minutes to remove the bitterness from the leaves. Set aside.

2. Whisk together siracha, soy and sesame oil. Toss some of the dressing over the kidney beans. Set aside in a large bowl.

3. In the meantime, boil water in a saucepan. Once you have a rolling boil, blanch broccoli and green beans in hot boiling water till they turn bright green.

4. Once the vegetables are blanched, scoop them out and add them to the kidney beans bowl.

5. Drain the water from raddichio leaves and add the leaves and celery to the kidney beans – vegetables bowl. Add some more of the soy -siracha dressing.

Toss well. Taste and add more dressing as appropriate.

Serve immediately with grilled salmon or tofu.

Spiced Eggplant, Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

Salads are basis of all diet programs. Eat more veggies!

And that’s where we falter. After a while the green salad becomes boring. We start craving carbs and bolder spicier flavors.

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

Before Vipul reaches that point, I made him a bold and spiced eggplant-cauliflower and chickpeas salad. Roasted eggplant and cauliflower make a “warm and nourishing” base for this salad. It has that “feel good” effect of a fulfilling meal on a cold winter night. The flavors are reminiscent of Indian curries – cumin, coriander and red chili powder. Paired with protein powerhouse of chickpeas and crunch of other veggies like celery and radishes, this was a complete meal.

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

I topped mine with diced cooked chicken sausage for an extra boost but any other protein would work just fine. Vipul had his as is and was blown away by the flavors of eggplant, roasted cauliflower and lemony-mustard flavors of the chickpeas.

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients. The hands on prep is really easy and mostly it is the oven that does the work. It roasts and caramelizes the eggplant and cauliflower and brings out their natural flavors. This is probably the only way I will eat eggplant – ever!

Use a Chinese or Indian eggplant that has a thin skin rather than the globe one that I used. The skin was a bit tough on roasting. Or maybe I should have peeled it before roasting.

I am loving this diet phase of Vipul’s. I get to try new recipes, new vegetables ( fennel, butternut squash, and now eggplants!) and he gets a fresh home cooked meal every night! Bring it on weight loss ūüôā

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

Spiced Eggplant, Cauliflower and Chickpeas Salad Recipe

  • 1 cup cauliflower florets sliced
  • 1/2 eggplant sliced into rounds ( any 1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 celery sticks diced
  • 4-5 small red radishes diced
  • 1/4 red onion diced
  • 1/4 cup pre-cooked edamame¬†pods
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

While the oven pre-heats, lay cauliflower and eggplant on two baking sheets in a single layer. ( I used a bowl and foil as I don’t have baking sheets in temporary accommodation here; but baking sheets will give even results). Lightly sear the eggplant in a cross hatch/tic-tac-toe pattern ¬†with knife on both sides.

2. Oil the eggplants and cauliflower. Then add the spices  (cumin, coriander,, chili) and salt. Toss the veggies to make sure that the spices cover it.

(Alternately prep these in a bowl and then layer them on baking sheets)

3. Bake the cauliflower and eggplant for about 30 – 40 minutes till they are golden brown. Depending on how thick the eggplant slices are they may need additional time. Keep them in till they looked cooked and their sides curl up.

4. In another bowl, mix mustard, lemon juice and salt. Marinate the celery, edamame, chickpeas, red onion and radishes in the mustard-lemon mix. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.

5. Once the cauliflower and eggplant are done, take them out. Start with eggplant as a base, layer cauliflower over the eggplant circles and then top with the chickpeas-veggie mix.

Serve warm.

Shaved Fennel and Radish Slaw in Citrus Dressing

Fennel and Radish Slaw

190 lbs!! Are you sure? I asked Vipul last Thursday as he walked in from his doctor’s appointment.¬†

Yea, and even the blood pressure is higher than normal. And I suspect my triglycerides are also on higher side. 

Probably even my cortisol. 

It’s not the first time we are dealing with weight gain and high BP. Vipul has been struggling with this for years now and with exercise and diet we have managed to keep it under control. But the last couple of months have been especially stressful. Between the apartment hunting, school search, finding a doctor for both Varun and me; its been hectic to say the least.

Not to mention some drama on my part as I adjust to staying at home while Vipul and Varun go off in the mornings to their busy schedules.Also we have been eating out a lot while out between appointments.

So, now that we are a bit settled on apartment/school/doctor/midwife/car front, its time to focus on eating right.¬†Playing with Varun and walking to work has incorporated some exercise in Vipul’s routine; its time to eat more veggies.

The other flip side to our move also has been that Varun has stopped eating veggies. He will have occasional carrots and peas but nothing else. Our hope is that by incorporating more veggies in our daily routine, we will set a good example for Varun!

Fennel and Radish Slaw

South Beach diet has worked well for us in the past – with its focus on veggies, fruits, proteins, complex carbs and fats. Its easier for the entire family to adopt this diet. Vipul is starting with Phase One to eliminate cravings and kickstart his diet while Varun and I will be on Phase Three which focuses on healthy eating habits for life. Their one principle I love is to eat a lot of variety of vegetables at every meal and eat good fat to help body absorb vitamins. That’s one thing advocated by couple of other blogs that I follow: 100 days of Real Food and Deliciously Organic.

To start the diet, I made fennel and radish slaw to go with salmon.

I have never cooked with fennel bulb before so I didn’t really know what to expect or if Vipul would like it. I know it has a strong taste which can be mellowed with lemon juice. So I went ahead, thinly sliced the fennel bulb and marinated it in lemon-orange juice, seasoned it. And served it raw with thinly sliced radishes.

Layered over baby spinach and skillet grilled salmon, it was a pair made in heaven. It didn’t taste like diet food at all. Flavorful, crunchy, colorful – now we are talking.

Shaved Fennel and Radish Slaw in Citrus Dressing Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Small bulk fennel thinly sliced
  • 4-5 radishes thinly sliced

1. Mix all the citrus dressing ingredients in a bowl (from lemon juice through salt). Place the fennel slices in the citrus dressing for at least 30 minutes.

2. Remove fennel slices from the citrus dressing and layer them with radishes.

Spoon the dressing over the slaw. Or over the fish.

Serve at room temperature.

Pan Fried Tofu – A Quick Dinner Idea

Pan fried Tofu

Do you get in a salad rut? I know I do.

I get bored with¬†eating it and look for ways to add some sizzle to them. In US, I used to buy baked savory tofu. I haven’t found it here. So instead of marinating¬†and baking tofu, I pan-fried it.

And let me tell you it was a delicious accident. I wasn’t sure how this will turn out. But over salad, it was perfect. Crisp on the outside, flavorful and soft on the inside.

The tofu that I had on hand was firmer and drier than ‘extra firm’ kind in US. You may need to keep the tofu sandwiched between plates and with weights to take excess moisture out before marinating¬†the tofu. While the tofu marinates, chop the salad. Add dressing of your choice ( simple lemon juice works too). Pan-fry the tofu slices and then serve over salad.

Gotta love quick and easy recipes! And serendipitous accidents!!

PF Tofu2

Pan Fried Tofu Recipe

  • 1 block Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1 tablespoon Siracha sauce
  • 2¬†tablespoon¬†Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Few mint leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger root, peeled and ¬†freshly grated
  • 1 inch lemongrass stalk chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon oil

1. Remove the tofu from its package. Keep it pressed between 2 plates and weigh the plate with some canned beans or  books.  After 15 Р20 minutes, enough water will be removed from tofu that it can be sliced and marinated.

Slice it into large pieces.

2. Mix all the marinade ingredients and pour the marinade over the tofu. Set aside for 10 -15 minutes.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Fry tofu slices till golden brown.

Keep an eye out this chars quickly and no one likes charred tofu ūüėČ

Ambe Dal – Split Black Chickpeas and Raw Mango Salad

Ambe dal

On hot summer weekends there is less incentive to cook. But there is greater craving to eat something unique and cooling. Maharashtrian style Ambe dal made up of soaked black chickpeas dal and raw mango is one such salad that comes together quickly. Made with seasonal ingredients it packs protein and fiber.

Chickpea being ground

Raw mangoes add sourness to the salad while the chilies add heat. Paired with raw mango cooler it is a perfect snack. Mom used to make this and refrigerate this for after school snacking. Tangy and refreshing this was a filling snack.

Try it this spring or summer while raw mangoes are still in season!

Ambe dal dressing

Ambe Dal Recipe

  • 1 cup split black chickpeas ( channa dal )
  • 1/2 cup grated raw mango
  • 2 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander
  • 1-2 chilies finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing¬†or asafoetida

To Garnish

  • Finely chopped coriander
  • Freshly grated coconut

1.Soak dal in  2-3  times water overnight or at least for 4- 5 hours. The dal will double in volume.

2. Drain the dal and coarsely grind it.

3. Mix with grated mango, coriander ,chilies and salt.

4. Heat oil in a small pan. Add hing and mustard seeds till they sizzle. Add this oil to the dal mix.  Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings (mainly salt, coriander, raw mango). Refrigerate for an hour or so.

Garnish with coriander or grated coconut. Serve cold with raw mango cooler or any mango drink.

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