Minty Chai

Tasty Vegetarian Foods and Beverages…

Roasted Squash Fava Bean Salad

Summer is really making its presence felt around here. Hundred degrees?? That’s just unbearable especially when you don’t have A/C.. Oh well. What do you do when it gets that hot then? Dream of fall, that’s what. Today’s recipe is flashback. A dream of fall that is bygone but will be here soon, crisp and cold yet bearing the right warmth of color. DSC_0122

Salads were boring to me, I will confess. Random assortment of raw veggies didn’t sound too appealing. Also the dressings never seemed sufficient to give it taste. But now I have learnt the kind of salads that I love. Lots of flavors and juices from fruits and vegetables in the salad are crucial. Nuts add buttery crunchy texture. Simple dressings add variety on your palate. So there isn’t a set recipe, just a set formula.

This particular salad was more of an accident, a product of trying to figure out a best way to use the fava beans. We prepared slightly boiled fava beans with olive oil, with a hint of garlic and pepper. A pot with a mix of tomatoes, avocado, boiled beets, plain hard boiled egg for protein, some onion.. Roasted squash with a reminder of cool fall breeze.. And vinaigrette and olive oil mixture to bring it all together.. That is my perfect fall throwback salad!

Your map to roasted squash fava beans salad

Author: Minty Chai

Serves: 2-3

Total time: 1 hr


  1. 1/2 butternut squash
  2. 1-2 beets
  3. 3 cups spinach
  4. 1/2 red onion
  5. 1/2 cup fava beans
  6. 2 tomatoes
  7. 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  8. 3 hard boiled eggs
  9. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  10. 1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette
  11. 1/2 minced garlic clove
  12. avocado
  13. sea salt
  14. black and other peppercorns
  15. dried thyme


  1. Coat half of the squash with little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast for 45 minutes at 425 degree F. Check with fork that it’s soft along the way. Once the done, remove seeds and peel it. Cut it into small pieces.
  2. In the meantime, take out fava bean pods out of the beans and boil them in microwave for 20 minutes with enough water to submerge them. Once done, remove hot water and add cold water to stop further cooking. Remove the small fava bean pods out of the shell. Heat a little olive oil in a pan saute fava beans with garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare hard boiled eggs by cooking them in boiling water for about 15 minutes. Add some baking soda to help remove the shell more quickly. Slice them and keep ready.
  4. Cut beets in half and boil them for 10 minutes. Peel and slice them.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette and thyme really well. Add a couple dashes of fresh ground mixed peppercorns.
  6. In a large bowl mix the tomatoes, beets, roasted squash, avocado, sliced onion and all other vegetables except spinach. Add half of the olive oil-vinaigrette mixture and mix well again.
  7. On a bed of spinach leaves place this salad mixture. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and add more dressing mixture as needed. Enjoy it fresh!

No-Knead Pizza

I have always wanted to make pizza at home; but it has been rather easier to just order online and bite into my favorite thin crust pizza from our neighborhood pizzeria. Then I saw pins about gluten-free crusts. It’s not that I am allergic to gluten, but gluten-free essentially meant no kneading. I was more excited to try it because one less step is very welcome on weeknight.  Won’t you agree?

Besides, I had made quinoa patties before. It made perfect sense to try quinoa substitute for traditional dough. But in my head, a quinoa crust seemed very dry. What can I do to soften it a bit and yet leave it crisp? I decided to mix some cauliflower I had from my CSA box. Time to use it up in something other than Indian curry  and it wasn’t enough to make Pav Bhaji anyway. (Because we can always have another Pav Bhaji night!)

I soaked some red quinoa (red quinoa is more flavorful in my opinion, so I usually have that at home) when I left for work in the morning and thought of whether my plan of making marinara sauce made sense given that the crust will be brown-red.  When I came home and started cooking, I had imagined a red color paste when I put well-rinsed and soaked quinoa through food processor. Nothing could have prepared me for monotony of the processed cauliflower and quinoa mixture..


Considering that the germ of red quinoa is still white, it made sense, but I was a bit surprised nonetheless. So I prepared myself back again to expect a regular beige pizza crust afterall. Happily I stuck this dough in the oven and started working on the marinara sauce. In about fifteen minutes as I peeped into the oven, to my surprise I saw a thoroughly browned crust forming! Considering how quickly cauliflower can brown and remembering the split quinoa kernels all over the dough, that made sense too (I felt like Captain hindsight!). And yet, two surprises in one night as I worked away at making this dish.. It was a great reminder of how you could set out to cook something, get your ingredients and procedure right and there is still is so much unexplored and so much unexpected. Indeed that element of surprise is what I cook for! The never ending fascination with all-things-kitchen for me comes largely from the enjoyment I get while playing around. Needless to say, my husband is a rather long suffering victim of my culinary expeditions! =)


Well, after I got my crust ready, I slathered marinara sauce on it and sprinkled our favorite vegetables generously. Read onion, garlic and chilies! Our meals are nearly incomplete without them, but you could put anything you like. To finish there were artichokes, spinach and sunflower seeds! There was no cheese but fresh mozzarella would be delicious. If I had added baking powder instead of an egg to my crust, it would be vegan too.


It was a very tasty and light dinner for us! Simple ingredients- red onion, garlic greens, artichoke, sunflower seeds, spinach and chilies. Collectively, they formed a very colorful picture on the brown canvas of this crisp pizza crust. Baking them toned the flavors down just enough where they complement each other instead of competing!  Hint of acidity from marinara was creating a background taste to which crunch from seeds added complex play. This was a real surprise and cause for happiness where all flavors and textures struck that balance which we strive to achieve in all that we do.


By the way, to my endless list of stories from this one meal preparation, there is fun element of working with artichokes; which I will write about soon. And, did you notice that glass of red mirroring pizza pieces in the picture above? That’s Primotivo from Hendry’s winery in Napa. I highly recommend it to accompany savory and spicy foods and if you are a nerd like me, please visit their winery. You would learn so much about the grape growing, the business, the food pairings and more!

Your Map to Pizza

Author: Minty Chai

Serves: 2

Total time: 45 min


For the crust-

  1. 1/2 cup quinoa, soaked for 6-8 hrs
  2. 1/2 head small cauliflower
  3. 1 teaspoon thyme
  4. salt
  5. 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  6. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1 teaspoon olive oil

For the marinara sauce-

  1. 3/4 can tomato puree
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. salt
  4. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  5. 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  6. 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  7. 1 teaspoon dried oregano

For the pizza vegetables-

  1. 1 stock garlic green, chopped
  2. 1/2 onion, long thin pieces
  3. boiled artichoke
  4. 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  5.  1 cup spinach
  6. Sliced chilies


  1. In a food processor, combined soaked quinoa with little water. Add semi-cooked cauliflower, salt and egg. Also add thyme, pepper, garlic and olive oil. Blend everything until you get paste like consistency.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degree F while you are blending ingredients for crust. On a pizza pan or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the pizza crust evenly. Bake for 15 minutes or until it starts to look brown. Flip the crust carefully. (I used another sheet of parchment paper, held it on top of cookie sheet and then flipped the sheet to get crust on new paper. Then I slid the crust back, in same flipped position onto the parchment paper already on the sheet.) Bake for another 10 minutes.
  3. While the crust is cooking, you can start preparing marinara sauce. In a saucepan, add olive oil and when it’s heated add the onion. Cook it for a couple minutes and then add the tomato puree. Cook well. Add oregano, salt and pepper. Add crushed chili flakes. Cook covered for about three more minutes.
  4. Once the crust is done, take out the cookie sheet and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Then slather the marinara sauce on the crust generously.
  5. Add your cut vegetables, including artichokes and bake for another five to eight minutes. Add sunflower seeds after five minutes. Add spinach leaves when you have about two minutes left before you pull out the pizza.
  6. Take it out once it’s fully cooked, slice into square pieces and enjoy with your favorite bottle of table red!!

Saffron Oatmeal with Blueberry Sauce

Breakfast never before equated oatmeal for me. In India, this trend hasn’t caught up yet, so growing up I had whole another range of food that I called (and still call) breakfast. After I moved here, my breakfast has moved from black coffee-Nutella sandwich to glass of milk with banana and whole lot of other stuff in between. Since I started running this year, I wake up hungry most days, so appetite killer black coffee wasn’t an option and glass of milk with banana was still not filling enough.

Enter oatmeal. So many people eat this daily, runners world over recommend it, good source of fiber AND naturally high in iron, it was almost like, what took me sooo long to try it??


I think for me, part of the problem was it can be so bland.. Eating it as is was out of the question. Sold on its benefits though, I was looking for some color addition along with an unconventional taste. Enter saffron!!  Saffron certainly isn’t new to an Indian kitchen, but most European and Asian homes would find many uses of this exotic spice. With rather unexpected spicy flavor and color that rivals hues of sunset, saffron fascinates me every-single-time I use it. It’s medicinal properties are only being researched now- there are potential anti-cancer, anti-mutations, immune boosting properties that this modest spice promises.


SO saffron- check. I also love blueberries.. A lot!! I had a bunch of fresh ones at hand too! All of this meant that I totally go for this rather strange sounding combination. I added a dash of honey to this to make this a bit sweeter than what blueberries can naturally provide. Overall, it was great, filling, super healthy and quick breakfast! I would highly recommend you try it and don’t shy on saffron amount. This little thing has brilliant flavors and they really stand out when used in sufficient quantities. Hope you enjoy my little adventure with oatmeal.

DSC_0080Your Map to Saffron Oatmeal with Blueberry Sauce

Author: Minty Chai

Serves: 1-2

Total time: 15 minutes


  1. 1 cup rolled oats
  2. 3 cups of water
  3. handful blueberries- sliced in half
  4. 2 pinches of saffron
  5. 1 tablespoon honey


  1. Boil oats in 2 cups of water until they soften. Add more water if necessary to get desired consistency. Blend honey into oatmeal completely.
  2. In a saucepan, add 1/2 cup of water and blueberries. Simmer at low to medium heat and stir until blueberries mesh together and form thick paste. Add more water if necessary.
  3. Add saffron and blueberry sauce to the oatmeal. Enjoy your warm breakfast.

Dan Dan Noodles

Okay, so if I haven’t already said million times that I love Chinese food, let me say it in this post to remove any remaining doubt. “I love chinese food- 999999X.” We have a favorite Sichuan restaurant that serves amazing vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles. I love it to the point that I am inclined to lick the bowl clean, in a restaurant where even children aren’t trying to do such a thing.

But I had no clue how to make this dish. None. Zilch. I mean, yeah I knew I could use egg noodles but that’s it. How do I bring that spicy Sichuan flavor? What do I toss noodles with to bring out the best taste? How do I prepare my tofu? So many questions and of course that meant I got exploring recipes. I have to tell ya, I haven’t seen such variation in recipe before. There are few recipes but they vary widely.. Because of this and also because I couldn’t tell which recipe would bring that exact taste of noodles at my favorite restaurant, I settled on a recipe where I had most ingredients on hand instead.


The result was purely stunning! Oil and peppercorns rule this recipe but every bit of it is well worth. Brilliant flavors bursting in your mouth with every bite, while making your neck warm! Hot and spicy has a new name- Dan Dan Noodles.. Minced tofu had a great taste with soy, garlic and peppercorn flavor. Spring onions provide perfect balance of texture as well as taste and a brilliant color for garnish. We added a side of hot edamame to complete the meal.


The thing that surprised me the most was how quick this was. The whole preparation, from chopping to garnish didn’t take more than 35 minutes. My weekday dinner ideas just got a new item. I was just so happy at the outcome of it overall. Brilliant and quick food is all I ask for and that’s what you get here. Which is highly desirable since weekday nights are supposed to be quick meal and Doctor Who episodes with my husband. Spicy food and time travel go together till the end of universe, let me add that as a footnote too, in case you were wondering!


One major thing I changed here was amount of soup. Most recipes seem to call for considerable amount of broth, but my favorite restaurant doesn’t serve soupy Dan Dan Noodles, so soupy noodles were not going to show up on our dinner table, however non-authentic that may be. Another variation was that I used traditional egg noodles and not udon. There were few other minor variations from Ching’s recipe too, but for the large part I have followed her directions and substituted meat for tofu. A truly amazing dish which made me want to lick the bowl clean. The taste was not identical to my restaurant version though. I have an excuse to go to my favorite restaurant again now and order it to figure out flavors more carefully. And oh, also this time to really lick the bowl clean!

Your Map to Dan Dan Noodles

Author: Ching-He Huang’s recipe (above), made vegetarian with some other changes by Minty Chai

Serves: 3-4

Total time: 35 minutes


  1. 2/3 pound chinese egg noodles
  2. 1 teaspoon sesame chili oil
  3. sea salt to taste
  1. 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  2. 3 dried red chilies, finely chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  4. 8 oz organic tofu
  5. 2 tablespoon sesame chili oil
  6. 1/2 cup ground roasted peanuts
  7. 1 tablespoon organic soy sauce
  8. 1 tablespoon table red wine (that’s what I had)
  9. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  10. 1 teaspoon sichuan peppercorns, fresh ground
  1. 3 tablespoon sesame chili oil
  2. 3 tablespoon organic soy sauce
  3. 1 tablespoon sichuan peppercorns, fresh ground
  4. 2 dried red chilies, finely chopped
  5. 3 scallions, finely chopped
  6. 2 cups vegetable stock, very hot


  1. Bring water to boil a large pot and cook the noodles. Add salt in as it is cooking. Remove from heat in about 5 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well and toss with sesame oil to coat them evenly. Set aside in bowls ready to serve.
  2. Heat a wok on high heat and add oil. Add ginger, chilies and garlic and stir-fry for half a minute to a minute. Add tofu and cook for a couple more minutes, till it browns. Add in peanuts, soy sauce, wine and peppercorns. Cook another 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Serve on top of noodles in each bowl.
  3. Mix sesame chili oil, soy, chilies and peppercorns along with scallions in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour some of the hot stock over tofu and noodles in each bowl, depending on how soupy you want the consistency.
  5. Top each bowl with scallion mixture prepared in step 3 and your Dan Dan Noodles are ready to be enjoyed!

Spinach Lentil Soup


This is a simple daal preparation, which many a times I drink by itself. Steaming hot, flavorful and mildly spicy, this is a perfect way to end a hectic day and retire with a book on the sofa. I love indian daal, to the point that I really crave for it ALL the time. It is my favorite comfort food and like a key that never fails to open a door, it always always soothes me. A soul-food I call it. And really, preparing lentils this way is one of the simplest things on the earth. You can’t mess it up even if you tried.

It uses copious amounts of turmeric, primarily what contributes to the yellow color, although the lentils themselves give the color too. Turmeric is a special, close-to-my-heart, dear and integral part of Indian cooking and my family is by no means an exception. I use it liberally in many dishes, even in some unconventional ones, like this recipe here- the vegan carrot slaw. Turmeric epitomizes the Indian kitchen to me, indeed it’s impossible to imagine one without. And a brilliant addition it is to any kitchen too, since it’s health benefits are legendary. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory agent and a great antiseptic too. It’s potential health benefits to help prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, lower cholesterol and improve liver function are only now becoming more widely known. To add to it, it is an iron dense and other micro-nutrient packed food. Really, need I give more reasons to include this little bright yellow ingredient to your cooking and more importantly, this particular daal/lentil soup?

Speaking of iron rich food, the other crucial ingredient of this recipe is spinach leaves. Packed with iron, vitamin A and other essential nutrients, it constitutes as our most favorite leafy green.


Of course by all means, you could always prepare this soup and have it like a daal. A straight forward way that would be, where you can eat it with steaming hot basmati rice!

Your Map to Spinach Lentil Soup

Author: Minty Chai

Serves: 3-4

Total time: 35 min


  1. 1 1/2 cup toor daal
  2. 3 cups of water, to cook lentils
  3. 3 full garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  4. 1 serrano chili
  5. 3-4 curry leaves
  6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  8. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  9. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  10. 1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  11. 1 teaspoon each cumin and coriander powder
  12. 1 1/2 cup of spinach leaves
  13. 3-4 kokam
  14. 1 tablespoon goda masala (recipe coming soon)


  1. Wash and rinse toor daal thoroughly. To your pressure cooker or a regular pot, add the washed daal and twice the amount of water. Cook the daal well (count cooker whistles according to your particular cooker); add more water as required if cooking in a regular cooking vessel.
  2. In a separate vessel, heat oil sufficiently on a medium heat and add mustard and cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to rise and pop, add turmeric powder. Quickly add curry leaves and asafoetida. Add garlic, chilies and mix everything thoroughly.
  3. Now add spinach leaves and cook for a couple of minutes till leaves shrink to half their original size. Add cumin and coriander powder. Mix everything well.
  4. Add cooked daal and add enough water to get soup consistency. Add goda masala and kokum. Stir and continue to cook until the mixture boils. Once you see some foam forming on top, remove from heat and serve immediately. Add some chopped cilantro to garnish and enjoy!

Homebrew Chardonnay- Prologue

I am starting the chardonnay homebrew this weekend. Yay!! Simple kit, with ready chardonnay must, yeast, clarifiers and other agents arrived at my doorstep a few weekends back. It has since been waiting patiently to be unpacked, temperature conditioned and inoculated with trusty old yeast to fulfill its destiny.

Okay, when you look past the dramatization, what you will find is a simple announcement. That a 4-post series about wine fermentation is coming your way!! Isn’t that exciting?? First post will explain primary fermentation setup and inoculation. Second post will talk about end of primary fermentation and start of secondary fermentation. Third post will cover clarifying wine and removing yeast whereas the last and fourth post will cover bottling and storage part.

Wine is better when aged and same applies to its fermentation process. Therefore, I advise you my dear reader, to possess your soul with patience. This post series will come slowly, over next couple months or more.

Stay tuned…

Clementine Cake


I had not baked anything in a while. As in, baked sweet delicious little things.. I have baked asparagus, brussel sprouts and other food for weekday dinners. But dessert had been somehow outside of the radar. But it was March, weather was getting better and it was one of my friend’s birthday. Perfect reason to bake with some seasonal sunshine! I had got California cuties home and it got me thinking. I had stumbled upon this inviting recipe some time back and I was happy to have an opportunity to try it out with a few tweaks..


Fresh and juicy clementine is a perfect bite sized recipe for mood enhancement. Cake with this goodness is only better. Interestingly, this recipe asks for whole clementines, so there are chunks of the peel that will burst flavors into your mouth in a surprising fashion.


This isn’t a typical cake though, I must warn you. And it gets better when it’s a day old. Brilliant with tea, coffee or some such warm beverage. Excellent for a breakfast! And best of all (at least from my perspective) is that, this isn’t sugar overload. Nope, not even close. It’s just the right amount of sweetness, where after one portion of cake, you will want to eat another.


This is quite the sunshine cake I call it. Flavors and fragrance all remind you of spring and summer. Just what people need for getting out of the cold!

Your Map to Clementine Cake

Author: Nigella Lawson’s recipe (link above) with some tweaks

Serves: yields two cakes

Total time: 3 hrs


  1. 5 clementines
  2. 6 eggs
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup ground almonds
  5. 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  6. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Place whole clementines in water enough to cover. Bring water to boil and cook covered at low heat for 2 hrs.
  2. Grind almonds in your food processor and keep all ingredients measured and ready.
  3. When clementines are cooked, drain and cut each in half. Finely chop each half into small pieces, skin, pith everything.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Line both 9 inch cake pans with buttered and floured parchment paper (original recipe recommends using spring foam pan).
  5. Beat the eggs. Add sugar, vanilla extract and baking powder. Mix well and add almonds and flour. Mix together with handheld mixer or whisk or large spatula. Add chopped clementines and stir everything together.
  6. Add the mixture into cake pans, splitting half into each. Bake for 25 minutes or till skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool cake completely, garnish with powdered sugar and sliced clementine. Enjoy!

Notes and Tips

  1. I used some flour instead of all almonds, therefore this version of recipe isn’t gluten-free. However, substitute flour with ground almonds and you have a complete gluten-free cake.
  2. If you only want to make one cake and intend to use flour, use only 4 eggs instead of 6. 
  3. This cake tastes better the next day.. But it is delicious straight out of oven too.

Simple Sichuan Noodles

There has been a long break, I understand. Traveling, work load and new goal- running has taken up entire weekdays and whatever was left of weekends too. But no more will that be an excuse for not writing on the blog. In fact, since I started running I have been cooking healthy recipes regularly so I have new material to write about.

Of course, it is VERY clear to you by now that we love spicy food. So it’s no surprise then that we also love Sichuan style food. I have experimented around trying to get good Sichuan flavors at home and something that will be quick too.

Today’s post is about spicy hot noodles.. The kind which bites your tongue but leaves you craving for next bite. Also you should absolutely be able to slurrp them up. Therefore, they are juicy and coated in spicy sauce with a hint of sweet.. Sichuan sauce gives the main spicy flavor but I have cheated a bit and used glazed orange sauce to provide the sweet rescue.

So with that, may I present simple noodle preparation with Sichuan flavors..


This is most certainly a week night meal. Ready in about 40 minutes or less, uses fresh and seasonal ingredients and has that comfort food feel to it. In my book, that’s a 100% win recipe that I can alway go to. I used Chinese egg noodles; but I can’t imagine why other types of noodles won’t work. I have used vegetables; but I can’t imagine why tofu won’t work. In short, this is a versatile recipe which can be used on need basis. My basic ingredients were simple this time, something like this-


Yup, they all came in my organic produce box and I wanted to use the snow peas to make something non-boring. Also I had not run out of egg noodles. Of course, this recipe pretty much made itself from that point onwards. I have used garlic and ginger goodness liberally in this preparation as you must for a good meal like this. Especially as this is an asian meal. Also, red chilies are a must. I love the dishes prepared and served on bed of chilies at Asian restaurants. Okay, bed of chilies may be rather too much; but point is red chilies are awesome. They absolutely need to make an appearance on this recipe to lift it from good to amazingly great. From just usual noodles to insanely good noodles. Anyway, you get the point.. Right? If you have Sichuan peppercorns lying around in your kitchen, then please use them for that will elevate this to food heaven.. If you don’t; no matter. Use something else that gives that kick for you. You will mostly certainly enjoy it almost as if it were a weekend!


Your Map to Sichuan Noodles

Author: Minty Chai

Serves: 2-3

Total time: 40 minutes


  1. 1 cup snow peas
  2. 1 red onion
  3. 5-6 red chilies
  4. 1 cup medium chopped green beans
  5. 12-15 medium broccoli florets
  6. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  8. 1/2 pack Chinese egg noodles
  9. 4 cups of water
  10. 1 tablespoon Sichuan sauce
  11. 1/2 tablespoon orange sauce
  12. 1 tablespoon sesame chili oil
  13. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  14. salt to taste


  1. In a wok heat the oil and saute ginger and garlic till aromas from both can be sensed. Add chilies and onion. Saute everything together for a minute or so. Add green beans, snow peas and broccoli. Stir frequently and cover everything in oil and garlic-ginger.
  2. Add soy sauce, mix well and cover. Cook for a minute or two.  Add half of both Sichuan and orange sauce.
  3. On a next stove, boil 4 cups of water and cook the noodles in them for 7-8 minutes. Drain the water and add the noodles to the wok with vegetables. Mix everything together. Add remainder of both the sauces and stir again. Add some salt, mix and serve.

Vegan Carrot Slaw

Are you psyched by the notion of a healthy side for the thanksgiving feast that will also make your Vegan friends happy? Then you have come to the right corner in the town. Following fresh, slightly sweet, slightly tangy and slightly spicy preparation will leave your taste buds satisfied and your dietary app without any warning signals!


Carrots color is a big mood lifter for me. It’s very fall like and yet super fresh and crunchy like summer fun! You only add yet another fresh goodness into shredded carrots, thinly chopped tomatoes. That way juicy balances crunchy.. Perfect little combination to counter balance other heavy weights on the table.


Little spice by using fresh chilies.. And key ingredient here is little oil, mustard seeds and turmeric. Turmeric has many health benefits. It’s antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and also helps digestion. Turmeric actually is a very good skin detox as well. Overall, a good body cleansing agent! I also add asafoetida which also helps digestion. Especially helpful on days when meals involve a lot of beans, lentils and even fried foods.


Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!


Your Map to Carrot Slaw

Author: Minty Chai

Serves: 3-4

Total time: 20-25 minutes


  1. 1 large carrot
  2. 1 medium sized tomato
  3. 2 thai chilies
  4. 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  6. 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  7. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  9. salt to taste
  10. cilantro to garnish


  1. Shred the carrot and chop the tomato into thin pieces. Mix them together. Add sliced chilies.
  2. In a small pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Once hot, add mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, turn down heat and add turmeric and asafoetida. Turn off heat in a minute.
  3. Pour this hot spiced oil preparation over the shredded carrot mixture. Add salt and lemon juice. Mix everything together well.
  4. Add chopped cilantro for garnish and serve.

Gulab Jamun


This is a quintessential Indian dessert. Delicious, very soft, deep fried flour balls completely soaked in sugar syrup; these little balls of awesomeness will be certainly present for any Indian festive, happy occasion or celebration. Life events world over get celebrated over Gulab Jamun.

It is as notorious in its skills-and-experience requirement while cooking as it is rewarding when the results are happy smiles on your friends’ and family’s faces. I guess I am trying to say- like many Indian desserts, not an easy one to make. Condensed milk, all-purpose flour, their proportions, exact science of kneading that into a soft ball of dough; it can a be daunting task even for skilled mothers and aunts. Therefore, to people like me, who prepare for Diwali on weekday nights; with mountain of work the following day, ready-mix packets of flour are a blessing. I am usually not the one to recommend you getting instant-mix packets of anything. Make from scratch is the best policy to have complete control over your creation and to enjoy the process thoroughly along the way. But really, when you are on a serious time-crunch and results are as delicious as any best Gulab Jamun made EVER, why not use it to your advantage?

You have to know which brand to use though. And whichever brand you choose, you have to know the best way to work it because following instructions behind the packet has never worked for me with Gulab Jamun. I have tweaked my ingredients and procedure to get the best out of it. I used Chitale brand Gulab Jamun mix for this preparation. They are very famous in the state of Maharashtra for their spicy snacks, Mithai and desserts. It doesn’t particularly matter which brand you use, following these tweaks and tricks you should get a good result of your own. Yet, I AM biased toward Chitale brand, seriously.. Many before have failed to live up to my expectations!

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You know what another fun thing about this dessert is? It’s ethnic and yet not-so-much anymore. It is becoming a part of multi-cultural cuisine rapidly. It is popular and makes highly frequent appearance on local Indian restaurants buffet scene and dinner menus around here. So most people who are hooked onto Indian food, have invariably fallen for this too. So for those of you, who love Indian food and would like to make those desserts at home (so they are tad less sweet, maybe? I hear-ya and I am with you on that completely) but find the task of making Gulab Jamun from scratch formidable, order your packet on Amazon and read on..


The key is to use milk to knead your dough instead of water. And add your saffron and cardamom in your flour instead of sugar syrup. These two things already will improve things significantly for you. Because the dough has to be super-duper soft and milk helps bring it all together in a smooth fashion. Also, you want your dough to be covered under a moist towel while you are making the dough balls because air is your enemy. If the dough dries out, it is difficult to rescue and those tiny little Gulab Jamun balls will develop cracks! Once that happens the deep frying step will break them and your heart. Pearls of wisdom from a few failed experiments here. Therefore- cover the dough with damp towel.

Also, there is the oil temperature part. If it’s too hot, Gulab Jamun will develop “boils” and obviously you don’t want that- at all. Keep it hot enough by maneuvering your heat setting between low and medium as needed. Don’t let down your guard on this one. Once you find your sweet spot then it’s a smooth sail throughout.

I know what you are thinking- it sounds like a lot of work. And I won’t deny- It Is. Especially for “instant-mix” preparation. But this is exactly why when there is less time, you would rather focus your energy in execution and less on optimizing your flour.

You guys, the bottomline is, don’t be afraid of this and give it a try and you will enjoy making a highly ethnic cuisine right into your kitchen. And that in itself will be reward so big that all the work that went into it will be completely worth it! And did I mention, the ‘ummm- this is so good’ exclamation?



If you are crazy enough in a totally awesome way and adventurous with your food with a huge sweet tooth, warm this slightly and eat with ice cream- may I suggest some Dolce De Leche??

Your Map to Gulab Jamun

Author: Minty Chai

Serves: About 60 Gulab Jamuns

Total Time: 3-4 hr


  1. 1 packet Chitale instant Gulab Jamun Mix
  2. Approx. half cup milk
  3. 3 teaspoons cardamom powder
  4. 2 teaspoons saffron
  5. 1 quart (or sufficient) oil, for deep frying
  6. 2 cups water
  7. 2 1/2 cups sugar


  1. Open the Gulab Jamun mix packet and empty contents on the counter, your favorite kneading pot or large not-so-shallow plate for making the dough. Add to it 1 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder and saffron and mix the flour lightly.
  2. Add the milk to it very slowly and bring all flour together into a ball of dough. Don’t over-add milk, less is fine. Continue kneading for few more minutes until the a small piece of dough feels very smooth and don’t crumble easily between your fingers.
  3. Once the dough is ready, cover it with damp paper towel or thin cotton kitchen towel. take a small piece out of the dough and roll it into a marble-sized ball between palms of both your hands. Grease your palms with little oil or ghee if necessary.
  4. Heat the oil in your round bottom pan or deep fryer. Don’t overheat. Use only medium heat as your maximum setting and don’t rush this step. Test temperature with small piece of dough first. When ready, gently release 3-4 balls into the oil and fry them until they come out golden brown. Move them around continuously to ensure even cooking as well as color distribution.
  5. Remove from oil when the color is right and set aside for a couple of minutes to let them cool down a bit.
  6. In a saucepan, add 2 cups of water and 2 1/2 cups of sugar. Heat it together till all sugar dissolves. Transfer to a serving pot and let cool. Add remaining cardamom powder. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon rose water or few rose petals if you wish. This step can be completed ahead of time if desired.
  7. Add the cooled Gulab Jamun balls to the sugar and allow them to soak for at least an hour. They will grow larger in size as they soak in the syrup.
  8. Serve slightly warm or cool, according to your preference.

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