Tomato Pachadi

Great with lemon rice! Or anything else.

You need: 1 medium tomato, like a Roma; 1.5 cups yogurt; 1 tsp mustard seeds; 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (lal mirch); 4-5 curry leaves; 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro; 1 green chilli; 1 tbsp oil; salt to taste; 1/4 tsp sugar

How to:

  1. Blanch the tomato (place in boiling water) for 15 seconds. Turn off the heat and leave the tomato in the hot water.
  2. Mix the cayenne, salt, and sugar into the yogurt.
  3. Run the tomato under cold water and then remove the skin. Discard the skin.
  4. Mash the tomato well with a fork and mix with the yogurt.
  5. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds.
  6. When they begin to sputter, add the green chilli and curry leaves.
  7. When the curry leaves begin to brown, add the cilantro, stir well, and turn off the heat.
  8. Add this to the yogurt and mix well.



Spicy Tomato Salsa

Made with tomatoes from my garden, and onions and peppers from my CSA. I used habanero for a real bite, but you can tone it down by using jalapenos instead.This version is chunky. If you want it smooth, puree it in a food processor when done.

You need: 4-5 medium-sized tomatoes; 1 medium-sized red onion; 1 small green bell pepper (capsicum); 4-5 cloves garlic; 1 habanero; 1 tbsp chopped cilantro (coriander leaves); salt to taste, 1 tbsp lemon juice.

How to:

1. Chop all the vegetables into small (very small) pieces. Mince the garlic.

2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions. Stir.

3. Cook through, stirring occasionally. When they soften, add the garlic and peppers. Stir and continue cooking until peppers soften.

4. Add the tomatoes and habanero. Stir and cover. Stir occasionally, but leave covered until tomatoes liquefy. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.

5. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, stir, cover and refrigerate.

Serve cold with chips. If you can let this sit a couple of days before eating it, the flavor sets beautifully. I found the habanero toned down in hotness, but went up a few notches in flavor. Very delicate, in a burn-your-tongue-off way.

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce!

Onions, peppers, and oregano from my CSA + fresh tomatoes from my garden = fresh spaghetti sauce!

I chopped up the onions and peppers, added much chopped fresh garlic, cooked it in olive oil, added fresh chopped oregano, chopped tomatoes, salt, and red chili flakes. Then I  gave it some thyme, love, and tenderness 😛

And ate it over whole wheat spaghetti. Mmmm.

Gluten-free Thin Crust Paneer Pizza

We used Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose GF flour with added xanthan gum in lieu of wheat flour, and it generally works fairly well. You have to get used to the taste difference, of course. This pizza has a thin crust, and won’t quite roll out into a perfect circle. So, if you’re particular, you might want to use a big bowl or something to cut the edges off. Oh, and it has no yeast. This makes enough for one person.

GF Paneer Pizza

Preparation time: About 1 hr

Cooking time: 15 minutes + 25 minutes baking

Crust Ingredients: 1 cup GF flour, 1 tsp xanthan gum, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup water, enough oil to brush over the crust

How to: Do not begin this process until you have your topping ready. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the water and mix it together with a spoon until it is well blended. It will seem a little dry. Roll it out on a sheet of wax paper/butter paper (it will stick, so don’t use a counter top without the wax paper). The edges will be a little ragged, don’t worry about it. Turn the paper over onto a cookie sheet or pizza stone (do not use a stone which has already been used for non-GF baking).

Topping ingredients: 1 cup crumbled paneer, one small tomato (finely chopped), one small onion, 1 tsp Kitchen King or garam masala, tomato paste/puree for the crust, 1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese (I used a combination of mozzarella and parmesan). Optional: 1/3 cup finely chopped capsicum/bell pepper.

How to: Chop the onion finely. Keep half aside. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add half the onion and cook until they are done. (If you are using bell pepper, add it now and let it cook for a couple minujtes). Add the masala and stir in. Add the paneer and salt to taste. Stir well, and let it cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, mix in, and cover. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, sitrring once while it cooks.

Adding the topping: Once you have cooked the paneer, prepare the crust as above. Thoroughly brush the crust with oil. Layer tomato paste over it. Add the paneer topping. Add the remaining raw onion. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.

You can, of course, use this topping with a regular pizza crust.

Vegetable Riot Pasta Sauce

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: about 40-45 minutes

I wanted to make a pasta sauce that had lots of vegetables (and thereby reduce the amount of pasta eaten as well). This turned out very, very well, and we were pleased with it.

You need: 1 yellow squash, diced; 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped; 2 cups tomatoes, diced; 1 bunch any greens you like, finely chopped; 1-2 bell peppers, diced; 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (or parsley, whichever you prefer); 2-3 bay leaves; 1/4 cup red wine vinegar; 2 tbsp minced garlic; and to taste: dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, black pepper, red chili flakes or dried red chilies, salt. Yes, I know I add too many herbs, but they taste so good.

How to: I used dried herbs, BTW, but you could use fresh if you have them.

Heat some olive oil in a pan large enough to hold everything. Add the dried red chilies if you are using them, and the bay leaves.

Add the squash, cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Add rosemary and thyme.

Add red peppers, cook 5 minutes, etc. etc.

Add onions, stir, cook for 5 minutes.

Add greens, stir, cover and let it cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add red wine vinegar, stir well, and let it cook uncovered until the vinegar has cooked away. Add garlic.

Stir again, add tomatoes. Stir, cover, let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add remaining herbs and salt. Cover and let it cook till done.

Uncover and let the water cook out, if you like. Add the cilantro just before you take it off the heat, stir, and ladle it over the pasta of your choice. (We had spinach fettuccine).

Ma’s tomato-onion chutney

You need: 1 big onion, finely chopped; 1 lb tomatoes, finely chopped; 1 bunch cilantro; chopped; salt to taste; oil; 2-3 curry leaves, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

How to: Heat some oil. Add onions, cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the cilantro, stir, cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt, stir well, and cook till it forms a thick paste. If you want it spicy, add some red chili powder at this point. Add a little water and cook some more, letting it reduce again to chutney consistency.

You can either blend it in a food processor once it cools, or leave it chunky.

Final step: heat 1 tsp oil,add mustard seeds and curry leaves. When it sputters, add to the chutney and mix in.


This is a very tasty, filling, and healthy soup.


You need:

Olive oil for cooking

½ cup onions

2 tbsp minced garlic

¼ cup diced peppers

½ cup pasta or rice

¼ cup cooked garbanzo beans/any other beans

¼ cup diced carrots

¼ cup peas

You can also add other vegetables, depending on what’s in season, like squash, potatoes, greens, etc.

3 cups vegetable broth

½ cup fresh tomatoes, diced

Spices: basil, thyme, rosemary, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper


How to:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients.
  2. Sauté the onions and garlic.
  3. Add the peppers and carrots.
  4. Add the spices, stir well, and let it cook for a few minutes.
  5. Add the broth and bring it to a boil.
  6. Add the tomatoes, peas, pasta/rice, and beans.
  7. Turn down the heat, cover, and let it simmer until the pasta/rice is cooked. Check to see if you need more broth.
  8. Grate some cheese (I use Parmesan) over the top and serve.

Fresh tasty salsa


3-4 large tomatoes

One big bunch cilantro

One small green pepper

One small green chili (or whatever pepper you like)

5-6 young green onions, greens and all

For the dressing:

2 tsp olive oil

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp lemon juice


Chop everything up very fine and mix in a big bowl

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and pour. Mix well.


Cauliflower / Potato / Eggplant Curry

This one’s always fun. Despite the long list of instructions, it’s actually rather quick and very easy.

You need:
One packet frozen or fresh chopped cauliflower (potato/eggplant/pretty much any other vegetable, including things like zucchini – chop ’em up into 1/2″ pieces)
one large tomato, or one small can diced tomatoes.
one large onion
a tsp. of minced ginger (or ginger paste)
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds (सरसों )
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (जीरा )
1/4 tsp. fenugreek seeds (मेथी दाना)
one dried red chili
Some curry leaves (कड़ी पत्ता )
One bay leaf
1/4 tsp. turmeric (हल्दी )
1/4 tsp. red chili powder (लाल मिर्च )
Salt to taste

How to:
Chop the onions and tomato.
Boil or steam the cauliflower, whichever you prefer. Drain, leaving a little water. (If you are using any other vegetable, you don’t have to boil or steam it, though if you boil potatoes it cooks faster in the masala).

Heat some oil. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies, and bay leaf. Let them brown a bit, then add the fenugreek seeds. Watch them carefully! If they burn (turn black) toss it out and start again, because it tastes awful and will permeate the rest of the dish.
When the fenugreek is just brown, add the chopped onions. Let them lightly brown, then add the ginger paste. Cook a few minutes.
Add turmeric and red chili powder. (If, later, the curry tastes bitter, you’ve probably used too much turmeric). Cook a few minutes.
Add the tomatoes. Add the salt. Stir well and let it simmer a bit. You could, at this point, throw in some frozen peas and let them thaw and cook.
Add the cauliflower about five minutes before you take it off the fire, stir in and let it simmer a few minutes to absorb the flavor. If you’re using unboiled vegetables, stir in, cover, and let simmer till the vegetables are cooked. If you’re not sure when they’re cooked, take some out and taste it. Stir now and again.

Eat with rice/chappatis/parathas/whatever else you like.
For flavor, or if it’s too spicy, add some ghee (clarified butter) – not more than 1/ tsp!

Very quick version:
Chop onions, lightly brown, add chopped tomatoes, salt, and garam masala, stir and cook five minutes. Add cooked and drained cauliflower, let it all simmer a few minutes, and eat. Not as tasty, though.

No-spices-around version:

Heat the oil, add the onions and let them cook. Add the tomatoes and salt. If you have any spices at all, such as black pepper or crushed red pepper, this is when you could add them and stir them in. If not, keep going, but cauliflower is a bit bland when it’s not spiced up with something. Add the boiled/steamed cauliflower, give it a quick stir, let it simmer for 3-4 minutes, and turn off the heat.

Spaghetti, braised garlic, and bread

Dinner tonight celebrates the end of spring cleaning, and an apartment that is clean, if not entirely neat. There’s two graduate students in the house. We have a lot of paper, and the OH’s filing system involves pile sorts on the floor.
But we’re clean and neat-ish now, so we spent a little time over dinner and didn’t give in to the Ramen demon (who is a good friend and visits frequently).

Spaghetti sauce for vegetarians (and vegans):
I’m not a big fan of thick gooey spaghetti sauces, or cheesy ones, so I like this sauce a lot. It’s light, spicy, and full of flavorful vegetables.

Ingredients: One large onion, a few cloves of garlic (as much as you like), tomatoes (at least one large one), crushed red pepper, one large bell pepper (use green or yellow for added color), salt to taste, lots of Italian seasoning, one bay leaf, two dried red chilies, oil, preferably olive.

How to: Chop the onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic as small as you are willing to make the effort to go.
Heat some oil in a pan. Add the bay leaf and dried red chilies. Wait a couple minutes, give them a quick stir, and add the onions. Stir and cook till golden but not brown. Add the pepper. Cook, stir now and again, till you smell the peppers. Cook about four more minutes, then add the garlic and tomatoes. Add the crushed red peppers (as much as you can stand). Add the Italian seasoning. You could use fresh herbs, and if you can get them, I highly recommend it. Much better flavor.
(Put your pasta on to boil now, follow instructions on the packet).

Add salt, stir everything, add some water if needed, and let it all simmer at least ten minutes, half an hour if you can. Keep checking to make sure it’s not burning. If it’s getting too dry, add some water. I tend to have it slightly liquidy, but you can let it dry a bit, if you like.

Drain the pasta, add the sauce, and you’re good to go. I don’t like cheese on my pasta, but that’s your call.

Braised garlic
I got this recipe from the NYT; here’s the link. What I did was to reduce the amount of garlic, since there are only two of us eating.

My version is small-scale. Heat some olive oil (about 1/4 cup or less), add about 20 cloves of peeled garlic, keep the heat on medium-to-low, let the garlic sizzle, sprinkle salt over it, keep turning, take off the heat when browned and tender. Store in the fridge, oil and all. Be careful not to let it burn when you are cooking it. Looks good, doesn’t it? We like to mush it up a bit and eat it over bread. Speaking of which, the OH has baked another one of his marvelous loaves tonight, so dinner is quite a feast. Spaghetti, braised garlic, and fresh-baked sourdough bread.


What was it about a jug of wine, a loaf of bread,
and someone who can bake the best damn bread in the world?