Homemade Moroccan Spice Blend

This homemade Moroccan Spice Blend is the perfect way to add a little flavor to your meats, fish, or even vegetables!  Roast, grill, saute, marinate, or even simmer in a soup, this blend is versatile and will enhance any recipe you use it in.
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Popeye Muffins Yum

**Updated Feb 2021.  Originally published May 2020**

Popeye muffins are one of the girls’ favorites.  I started making these when the girls were too young to eat leafy greens but old enough to eat more than pureed meals.  They were an instant hit then, and luckily they still are now.  Vibrant green, sweet and soft…. you can’t go wrong with these!

Continue reading “Popeye Muffins Yum

Spiced Pear Loaf

I love a traditional banana bread but I also love changing out the fruits and making different types of loaves.  This Spiced Pear Loaf gives me a peek into the fall with its hints of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger; the sweet pear chunks added in… oh so delicious!
This bread uses milk and oil in addition to the pear chunks to give it just the right amount of moisture.  Use a 1:1 ratio of whole wheat flour and oats for a healthy balance of carbs, and just enough brown sugar to combine with the warm spices to bring fall home any time of the year!
Use this loaf for a snack during recess, packed in your lunchboxes, or even as a sweet treat post meals.  So delicious and scrumptious, you have to try it out!
IMG_7862From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious treat!

15 minute Masala Pasta

*This is an ad post.

All I can say is that things are getting crazier!  My first born is starting Kindergarten tomorrow and though it’s going to be different because she’s going to be upstairs in her room instead of at a new school with new friends, I’m still an emotional wreck!  I just can’t believe she’s grown so much!  Where’s my baby that I brought home from the hospital?  I have a 5 year old now!
Let’s talk food so I don’t have to think about that… for now.  This dish actually does take 15 minutes to make.  No joke.  How?  Because I use Taste Republic‘s gluten free, fresh fusili pasta.  The more I try their fresh pastas, the more I’m loving them.  So far, the cauliflower linguini, tortellini, and now the fusili have been on point!  Even better, because it is fresh pasta, it takes 3 minutes to cook!
Once upon a time, the girls would eat nothing but red sauce with their pasta.  Then it went to green (pesto).  Then brown butter.  We are now back to the red sauce which I am thankful for because this masala pasta uses marinara sauce combined with spices to give it an Indian twist.
Here are some ingredients that are key to this pasta:

Taste Republic Gluten Free Fusili – fresh pasta that is great with taste and time!
Frozen Mixed Vegetables – this is my first hack to make this dish in under 15 minutes.
Favorite Marinara Sauce – I use whatever jar I have opened in my fridge and it works perfect
Indian spices: cayenne pepper, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder – this give the pasta additional depth of flavor. Add just enough to give it a hint not take over the dish!

This fusion dish is amazing because of the mix of flavors and how quickly you can put it together.  Try it out and bring a little of India and a little of Italy to your home.
From our kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this 15 Minute Masala Pasta!

Spiced Plum Crumble Bars

One of my very good friends, Diana, has a plum tree that produces an abundance of plums every year.  One of my favorite memories is when Sanaya was just over a year old, we had gone to her house and she let us pick plums in her backyard.  We had so many plums in our hands, I had walked away to put them in a basket.  When I came back, Sanaya had eaten half a plum (most of the juice was around her mouth and on her clothes) and was holding another she was getting ready to dive into.  It was one the best afternoons ever!
We are a fruit loving family and we don’t discriminate (well, unless it’s mangoes – then everyone has to fend for themselves while I devour them).  At any given time, there’s always fresh fruit in the house and I love that my girls share mine and hubby’s love for them.  In honor of Diana’s plum tree (which I heard may not be around much longer and I almost cried), I got creative and added a little spice spin to these crumble bars.
I love this recipe because it is so easy to come together.  For the filling, I stayed true to Salted Mint‘s filling.  I tried out a few different variations but I love this one the best because it is simple, adds the warmth of star anise and cinnamon and tastes amazing!
For the crumble, I added hints of ginger and cardamom (I seriously felt like I could call this a Chai Spiced Plum Crumble because of the similar spices used). And the best is I can use the same mixture for the crust and crumble!
For the oats, I used old fashioned oats and mixed it by hand.  You can absolutely pulse it in a food processor until you get a crumbly mixture.

I don’t think anyone can stop eating just one bar!  These are so crumbly, flaky, sweet, tart, and have just a little hint of spice which just warms your insides up!

This recipe makes about 16 squares in a 8×8 baking pan.

To store, place in a sealed container and keep in fridge for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 2 months.

Keep the skin on the plums!  I wasn’t sure about this when I first started experimenting but it just becomes a part of the jam and you can’t even notice it!
From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy these delicious plum crumble bars!

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas Curry

When Sanaya, my eldest, was about 3 years old, we had gone to Pankaj’s cousin’s house for a play date.  Sanaya and her cousin Aarya are besties.  They’re only 2 months apart in age and our families have gone through the journey of parenting together since we were pregnant.

Anyways, this story is from a time when Sanaya was very picky about food, especially Indian food.  Though I feel like in her short life, she’s either been picky or a proper foodie.  Kids!

My sister-in-law, Aarya’s mother had made a black eyed peas curry.  I remember growing up my mom making this often so I got excited but nervous also.  Will Saanu eat it?  Will she like it?  I’m hoping she likes it because I’m really trying to get the girls to have an appreciation for Indian food.
Surprisingly, and luckily, she loved it and for once, ate most of her food without a fuss.  I felt like I found a magical key.  Since then, this is one recipe I make often for the girls, especially when I’m in a pinch as it takes less than 30 minutes to make.
These black eyed peas are perfect for a weeknight meal.  Not only are they delicious and quick to make, they are also rich in fiber, protein and non-dairy calcium.
I soak them at the beginning of meal prep.  If you don’t want to soak them, simply increase the cook time from 12 minutes to 20.

You can store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

For Stovetop: Soak black eyed peas for at least 1 hour.  Then boil them in 4 cups of water for 45 minutes.  Drain and add to spices as indicated in step 5.  Add only 1 c water and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

For Slow Cooker:  Follow directions below and cook on low for 6 hours.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this Dal (Lentil)!

Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas Curry

  • Servings: 4
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1 c dried black eyed peas, soaked

1 onion, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1″ ginger knob, grated

1 bay leaf

1 tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp turmeric

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

2 c water for cooking

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp hing (asafoetida)


1. Set Instant pot to saute mode.  Add oil and let heat.

2. Add cumin seeds and hing.

3. When the cumin seeds start to splutter, add in onions, ginger and garlic.  Saute for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are tender and translucent.

4. Add in the tomatoes and spices and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the oil starts separating from the tomatoes.

5. Drain the water from the black eyed peas and add to the instant pot.  Add the 2 c water and mix well.

6. Cover instant pot and set vent to sealing postion.

7. Change setting to manual/pressure cook mode and set timer for 12 minutes.

8. When the timer goes off, let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure.

9. Add lemon juice and give a quick stir before serving.

Serve with Naan or Rice.

Cha (Chai) Yum

One of my favorite memories is coming home to a nice cup of hot cha (as many Indians call it, but also famously known as Chai) and hanging out with my mom talking about our day.  It didn’t matter if I was coming home from high school, college, or once I moved out, coming home for the weekend – cha was our time.  Especially during the cold, snowy winters, that cup of chai just worked wonders. Continue reading “Cha (Chai) Yum

Spinach Dal Yum

Both the girls need their dal (lentils) at least once a week and I love it!  It makes me so happy that they turn to Indian food for comfort and norm.  I try to vary out the dals that I feed them so they get a variety of nutrients and flavors and I get to rotate my lentils. Continue reading “Spinach Dal Yum

Punjabi Kadhi Yum

Kadhi is a very popular and a staple dish of India.  Different parts of India have their own version.  Sindhi kadhi has veggies in it; people from the state of Haryana put green chickpeas in theirs; South Indians also put veggies in theirs including squash, carrots, peas and potatoes; Rajasthani and Gujarati kadhi is usually a little on the thinner side while the Gujaratis also add okra in theirs on occasion and the Punjabi’s add pakoras to their version of kadhi.
I’m a Gujarati and so I’ve been raised on the thinner version of kadhi.  Even then, there is no one version.  Kadhi is usually yellow in color from the turmeric added to it but Gujaratis make a version without the turmeric in it and more sour yogurt is used – this type of kadhi is usually served at weddings.  Growing up it was one of my favorites and I would always ask my mom to make wedding kadhi when I was going home for the weekend.  I still call it that.  Yeah…. I know.

Just thinking of the word kadhi makes me reminisce home, comfort, and curling up with a warm bowl, eating it as a soup.  So when I married my Punjabi husband and was introduced to their version of Punjabi kadhi, my idea of kadhi came to a halt.  It was different from what I grew up with alright, being much thicker with more stuff in it than I was used to.  I think the biggest surprise, let’s say, that I had when having Punjabi kadhi was the pakoras that are put in it.

My idea of a pakora is eating it on a rainy day with a cup of chai in hand.  Needless to say, this one took a little getting used to.  But, I’ve come around I suppose.  And as usual, I’ve put my twist on it.
There was a lot of experimenting the type of pakoras I wanted to use and the spices.  I remember one of the first times I made this, one of my best friends from college, Ashi, had come over with her family.  She’s Punjabi too so I was hoping to use her as a taste tester.  I’m so glad I did because she helped me figure out which spice would work and that adding a little more will only enhance the flavor.
As for the pakoras, they are typically made from onion and potatoes but I wanted to give a “healthy” spin to something I’m frying (oxymoron, I know) so I decided to use spinach instead of potatoes.  And let me tell you, they taste sooooooo much better!
My biggest change to this traditional recipe:  I finish off cooking the pakoras in the oven.  This makes them crispy and won’t “melt” them in the kadhi.  When I first started making this dish, my pakoras would disintegrate into the kadhi because they were too soft.  I found that toasting them in the oven helps keep their shape and they do soften up when added to the kadhi so you don’t taste the crunch but I love the toasted red color it adds.
From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy!

For the Kadhi:
1 c Besan (chickpea/gram flour)
2 c yogurt
1 med onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1″ ginger knob, grated
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jheera)
3 dried red chilis, split in half
1 tsp turmeric
3-4 curry leaves
1 tsp cayenne pepper (Kashmiri Deggi Mirch)
1 ½ tsp coriander powder (dhania powder/ dhana jheeru)
1 ½ tsp cumin powder (jheera powder)
2 Tbsp Kasoori Methi
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt to taste

For the Pakoras:
1 lg yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 c spinach, roughly chopped
¾ c chickpea flour
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp salt
oil for frying

For the Kadhi:
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk yogurt to a smooth consistency.  Add in the gram flour and continue whisking until all lumps are smoothed out.  Transfer to a deep pot, add in 4 cups of water, salt and turmeric.  Mix and simmer on low-medium heat.
In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds, dried red chili, fenugreek seeds.  Once the fenugreek seeds are light red in color, add in curry leaves and let cook for 30 seconds.  Add in the onions and sauté until they are golden brown.  About 5-6 minutes.  Add in the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute.  Add in the cayenne pepper, coriander powder, cumin powder and mix well.  Let it cook for 2-3 minutes to so the spices bloom.
Add the onions to the kadhi and mix well.  Cook on low-medium heat for about 30-45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  The kadhi will thicken as it cooks.  Add more water if it is too thick.  When it’s done, turn off stove and add in kasoori methi and stir.

For the Pakoras:
Add the onions and spices in a bowl and mix well.  Let it rest for about 20-25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Add in the spinach and gram flour and mix.  The water released from the onions will help bind the batter together.  It should be a little on the thicker/dry side but if it is too much, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.
Using a spoon, drop medium sized pakoras in hot oil to fry.  Pull them out when they are just under done and lay them on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 5-7 minutes to make them crispy.

Add the pakoras to the kadhi and serve with steamed rice.



Lal Murgh (Red Chicken)

I haven’t cooked Indian food in a while because it needs some good time and attention to come out perfect and those are two things I don’t have in abundance these days.  So I decided that needed to change and I needed to create something easy but vibrant and delicious, with lots of flavor.  The spices in this red chicken pack a great punch with an array of flavors and the meat is nice and tender from being marinated even for just a short time.  The best part, the spice mix I used is the Butter Chicken spice mix you get at any Indian grocery store – so easy and time saving!
One of my favorite ways to prep meat is to marinate them.  Did you know that marinating meats helps slow down the growth of bacteria?  Also, based on the ingredient you’re marinating you’re meat with, it affects in a different way.  For example, I’ve used citrus which is known to tenderize the meat and lock in the moisture when you’re cooking it.  Hope your chicken turns out juicy like mine did!

Chop up a boneless, skinless, chicken breast into cubes.  Set them in a container and add in a little spice mix, a splash of lemon juice, and some water.  Mix the chicken well, cover it, and let it marinate for at least 1 hour.  Doesn’t that just look gorgeous?!

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat a little oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add some red onions and sauté for a couple of minutes.

Add in some grated ginger and minced garlic.  Oh, the smell of that garlic!

Sauté all of the above for a couple of minutes, then add in the tomatoes.

Mix well, and cook everything for 5-10 minutes. You’ll notice the tomatoes softening and the oil separating.  They should look something like this:

Finally, add in the marinated chicken and mix well.  Cook it for about 7 minutes or until done.

For the chicken marinade:
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped into 1 inch cubes
2Tbsp lemon juice
1Tbsp spice mix
1/3c water

To cook the chicken:
1Tbsp EVOO
1/3c finely chopped onions
1 garlic clove, minced
2tsp grated ginger
2 tomatoes, chopped finely

In a bowl, mix together the chicken, lemon juice, butter chicken spice mix, and water.  Toss well to coat all the chicken pieces evenly.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To cook the chicken, heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add in the garlic and ginger and cook for another couple of minutes.  Finally, add in the tomatoes and mix well.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until the oil separates from the tomatoes.  Add in the marinated chicken with all the juices and cook for another 6-7 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through.

Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with Roti, Naan or Rice.  Enjoy!