Monday, October 22, 2012

Chholar Dal and Luchi for Durga Puja!

It's the third day of Durga Puja- Ashtami. Bengalis all over are flocking to puja pandals to catch a glimpse of the goddess and then there are people like me who will go anywhere to eat puja food. The Calcuttan inside me suffers bouts of depression if I don't see and hear some Durga Puja sounds every year- I'm sure all my Bong readers empathise with this sentiment. 

To stay true to tradition, here's a recipe for a Bengali favourite- Chholar Dal and Luchi.



1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 green chillies slit down the middle
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
3 bay leaves
1/4 small cubes of coconut
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 dry red chilli
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 tsp sugar
250 gms bengal gram (chana dal)
1 tbsp cumin powder
Salt to taste 

How to make Chholar Dal :

Wash the chana dal well. Boil it with 4 cups of water. Add the turmeric, cumin, garam masala and green chillies. 

Add salt and sugar to taste. (This dal is supposed to be sweet so don't worry about adding all the sugar). Mix well and stir till the dal is thick and well cooked. 

Time for the tadka. Heat oil in a small wok. Add the bay leaves, dry red chilli and garam masala. When it stops spluttering, add the tadka to the dal. 

Add the coconut pieces to hot oil and fry till golden brown. Add this to the dal once fried. 

And just like that, this sweet, spicy, coconutty dal is ready to eat with luchis. And in case you don't know how to make luchis, here's the recipe.


1 1/3 cup Flour (Maida)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar (optional)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm water or as needed
Oil for deep frying


Blend the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add a bit of oil and water and knead to a firm dough. Cover the dough and set aside for about 30 minutes. Knead the dough again for a bit. Make small balls of the dough and cover with a damp cloth. 

Take one ball of the dough and dip one side of it into the oil and roll in out into a 4 inch flat circle. Repeat for the remaining balls. 

Heat the oil in a wok till its quite hot. Add the luchis to the hot oil and make sure that is it covered in oil. Flip it over and let it cook on the other side till its golden brown. Serve hot with chholar dal or alur dom. (The alur dom recipe is coming up tomorrow!)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Corn Colonel Burger at Burgs, Bandra

I was quite disappointed to find that the Tofu burger had vanished from the Burgs menu. But the other vegetarian options more than make up for the sudden disappearance of the Japanese style tofu burger. The Asli Indian, Aubergine Delite, Corn Colonel and Gardenia are all pretty good. You can ask them to give you a vegan sauce or dressing and ditch the cheese in some. I also recommend the Inferno super hot hot sauce! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vegan Omega-3 from Unived

As a vegan, it is not unusual to hear the phrase "But where do you get your omega-3 from?".  And at a time when everyone is touting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, as a vegan it is quite tricky to find a non-animal derived supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that helps lower blood pressure, prevents heart disease, boosts brain health and could even treat depression.

Most vegetarian sources of omega-3, like flaxseed oil, chia seeds and purslane are made up of a omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The omega-3's found in fish and fish oil are docodahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). ALA does not have the same health benefits as DHA or EPA. The human body can convert ALA from plant sources into EPA and DHA but it requires more metabolic work.  So the question is- where do you get vegan DHA from?

Unived, a vegan healthcare company offers omega-3 supplements where the DHA is extracted from non-genetically modified microalgae. DHA that is derived directly from micro algae is free from the toxins that fish may carry.

In 2011, Whole Foods had to pull DHA derived from krill (tiny relatives of shrimp living in the Antarctic) because of sustainability issues about the harvesting of krill. Large animal populations rely on krill and harvesting krill could lead to their decline. The funny part is that krill was supposed to solve the threat of overfishing to fulfil the high demand for DHA. So it made sense to go straight to the source- to algae. There are algae that make omega-3 of the flax seed variety. And there are microscopic algae that make DHA itself. So cutting out the middleman makes sense, for the animals as well as us.

Other vegan products by Unived include Vegan Red Yeast Rice, Vegan Vitalitea, Vegan Activitea, Vegan Digestea. The products are priced between Rs 500- Rs 1600. 

Unived products are available online at and at other online stores ( You can also find their products at Nature's Basket (Bandra W & Warden Road), Serenity (Bandra), Dhoop (Bandra), Solanki Medical (Bandra), Danai Book Shop (Bandra), Cafe Columbia (Pune). 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Modaks- To Keep You Calm During the Ganpati Festival

I was rudely awoken by firecrackers and loud music at 3 am this morning. It's just the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi and the 'festivities' have already started taking a toll on me. BUT. There is one upside to this whole Ganpati thing. The modaks. And I'm planning to eat a lot of them while I can. If you're a fan of this coconutty dessert too then here's how you can make the vegan version at home in a few easy steps:


So modaks are essentially rice flour dumplings filled with coconut and jaggery. To make modaks you need:

1 cup rice flour
1 cup water
2 tsp oil

For the filling you will need:
1 cup grated coconut
1 cup gur (jaggery)
Some cardamom powder


  • Cook the grated coconut and jaggery in a pan till the jaggery melts. Mix well. Add cardamom powder. 
  • Boil the water. Add 1 tsp oil and salt. Reduce the flame and add the rice flour while stirring. Cover and cool for 5 minutes.
  • Knead the warm dough and make small balls. Roll them out into round shapes- less that 4 cm in diameter.
  • Now this is the tricky part. Make folds of the rolled dough about 1 cm apart. Simply pinch the outer line of the rolled dough to make the fold. 
  • Place a spoonful of the filling on the dough.
  • Now bring all the ends together and press together to seal it. 
  • Place the sealed balls in a steamer (on a greased plate)- add water, a tsp of oil and bring to a boil. Steam for 5-8 minutes.
  • Wait for the modaks to turn translucent and then take them out of the steamer and let them cool.
  • Eat whenever the Ganpati induced traffic or noise gets to you. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No Fail Peanut Butter Magic Bars

by Guest Blogger Ashley Fruno

In addition to the fact that I can’t cook, I also never measure anything. Ever. In all likelihood this is probably why I can’t cook…..but these bars are magic for two reasons 1) no matter how much of each ingredient you use, they always taste great, and 2) no one ever gets tired of them. Since I can’t successfully cook or bake anything else, I have brought these bars to every single potluck, farewell party, birthday, bake sale, and office lunch I have attended in the last five years. I also frequently give them as gifts. They’re always met with rave reviews. I’ll let you in on the secret:

Brown sugar, raw is best – about 1 cup
Some sort of syrup – about 1 cup (these all work well: agave, corn syrup, maple syrup)
Peanut butter, best if unsweetened – about 2 cups (doesn’t matter, chunky or smooth)
Some sort of crispy cereal – maybe 3-4 cups? (corn flakes, rice puffs, whatever is vegan)
Dark chocolate – lots
Soy milk – just a touch 

  • Heat sugar and syrup over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and the mixture boils slightly. Be careful not to burn it!! The “no fail” part of the title doesn’t apply to burning.
  • Turn heat off. Mix in peanut butter until melted and combined. Taste. Too sweet? Add some more.
  • Is your cereal big or small? Essentially anything other than rice puffs needs to be crushed a bit. Take a hammer to your bag of corn flakes (only a few whacks) and you’re set.
  • Fold cereal into peanut butter mixture. Once combined, spoon mixture into a pan or plastic container. No need to oil the pan – these babies are fat-laden. They’ll slide right out. Press mixture into pan to form a flat top.
  • Melt chocolate in pan (I always use the dirty one from the peanut butter mixture – no one has ever complained) over low heat. Add a small splash of soy milk to make the chocolate easier to cut once the bars have set.
  • Pour melted chocolate over bars to evenly coat top. Put in the refrigerator until solid. These are best kept cold until ready to serve so they don’t get too gooey.
  • When ready to slice, run knife around the edges of pan or container. Flip pan upside down on cutting board. Voila!

For best gift results: buy disposable plastic containers. Use the container both for forming the bars and gifting them! Let the recipient worry about slicing them up.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Ultimate Vegan Instant Noodles- Maggi!

Maggi is the 'baap' of all vegan instant noodles. The Masala flavour is by far the greatest noodle seasoning :) Eat it with veggies, make it soupy or just add some ketchup. My favourite is to eat it with Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce- also perhaps the greatest chilli sauce known to mankind :)


Sunday Salad and Smoothie!

Starting my Sunday with a smoothie and salad is always a good idea keeps me from dozing off the entire day. And even if you're planning to have an elaborate Sunday brunch, these two healthy sides can give you some much need fiber for the week ahead. This simple smoothie requires just two basic ingredients. Apples and fresh mint. Add a touch of lime and some brown sugar for taste. You could consider keeping this smoothie in the fridge and sip on it the entire day. An organic soba noodle salad or greek salad go really well as part of healthy Sunday brunches. Add fresh sprouts, a squeeze of lemon, cilantro and freshly ground pepper to the salads to give them some extra zing!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Chinese" Bhel and Aloo Frankie @PVR Juhu

Going for a movie after work can turn into a food hunt pretty quickly. Thankfully all the PVR cinemas in Mumbai are pretty vegan-friendly and I found two AMAZING vegan snacks at the cinema's food court this week. The first is called "Chinese" Bhel- it's an oriental spin on the traditional Mumbai street food- Bhel Puri. Bhel is a spicy, tangy, crunchy street food that will leave you in tears (of joy of course!), and this "Chinese" spin on it does not leave your palate disappointed. PVR's version is actually VERY spicy, so be sure to ask them to tone down the chilli sauce if you can't handle it. 

The Veg Frankie is also a hot carby snack- it's basically spicy mashed potatoes wrapped in flat bread. It's served steaming hot and will satisfy all your after-work food cravings. A couple of frankie rolls and a plate of Chinese Bhel is sure to get you through any film, even if it's a really terrible Bollywood movie that makes you wish you had just stayed home and watched the news. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vegan Baking Made Easy with Orgran

This is a problem most vegans face at some point- how to replace egg in cooking. Orgran offers a pretty extensive range of vegan baking mixes and egg replacers. You can bake everything from moist chocolate cakes, brownies, cookies, pastry and shortbread without using any wheat, dairy, egg, yeast or gluten. (They even have a gluten replacer!) 

Orgran is available easily in India in Nature's Basket stores in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad. The price isn't too bad either- between Rs 210 to Rs 375. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oreos and (Soy) Milk!


Late night binging would be so difficult if oreos weren't vegan. They may not be the healthiest food in the world but they certainly hit the spot when you're struck by a 3 am dessert craving. I recommend dipping them in a glass of cold Silk Vanilla Soy Milk. Milk and cookies- veganized!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vegan Momos on a Rainy Day

Momos are the ultimate antidote to a bad day at work, a gloomy monsoon afternoon or a sudden realisation that life sucks. The vegan momos at the Emami market in Calcutta are exactly what a dumpling should be- small, wrapped in a thin outer layer, and served with a super hot sauce! Stuffed with cabbage, ginger and onions, every mouthful reminds me of childhood afternoons spent in Darjeeling

At Rs 40 a plate, this vegan snack is a healthy option compared to its fried counterpart. 

Note to self: Must learn how to make momos at home. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Vegan Men's Shoes from Mooshoes, Inc.

Mooshoes, Inc is a vegan business in New York that sells an assortment of shoes, bags, belts, wallets, jackets and other accessories. Mooshoes sells online at as well as through a store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Founded by Erica and Sara Kubersky, Mooshoes is the first cruelty-free store of its kind in NYC. Apart from fashion retail, Mooshoes also helps homeless animals find loving homes by holding adoption days in the store. 

Oxfords, lace-ups and loafers...

Sports shoes:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Spaghetti Pomodoro at Fire and Ice, Kolkata

The Fire and Ice Pizzeria on Chowringhee is beyond a doubt Calcutta's favorite pizzeria! No one makes thin crust pizzas like they do, but that's no reason to neglect the other goodies on their menu. The menu is not pages long but it manages to wrap up all the flavors of Italy on 2 sides of a A4 sheet. The veg antipasto, pastas, salads, soups and sides make for a very enjoyable vegan meal. 

I have been ordering the Spaghetti Arrabbiata for years now and it's always been as soul satisfying as the last time. But on my last visit I wanted something more home-style and ordered the Spaghetti Pomodora. It's a simpler version of the Arrabbiata and can be made spicy on order. The flavor of the fresh tomato sauce is enhanced by the big cloves of garlic that are tossed into. Try their refreshing homemade iced tea to wash down this spicy pasta. It's a really simple meal but your taste buds will probably remember it for a very very long time. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Burmese Khao Suey at Taaja's, Kolkata

Taaja's is an old favorite of most Calcuttans. Recently shifted from Ballygunge to Jodhpur Park, Taaja's makes some of the best vegan food in the city. Try the Khao Suey here- Taaja's was one of the first restaurants to serve this Burmese inspired dish when most Calcuttans hadn't even heard of it. If you love coconut milk like I do, you will love this soupy noodle dish. 

The thing that makes Khao Suey so much fun is the interactive nature of the soup. Khao Suey traditionally comes with many little bowls of lemon wedges, roasted garlic flakes, crispy noodles, chopped coriander, chopped onion and red chilli powder or red chilli flakes. Add in these toppings for a hot spicy bowl of intense flavor- as salty garlic, heaty chilli, tangy lemon, crunchy noodles and creamy coconut play in alternate rhythms on your taste buds. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Earth & Animal Friendly Jewelry by Christy Robinson

Here's a super cute collection of neck pieces on Etsy with clever animal rights messages engraved on them. Designed by Dallas based designer and animal rights advocate Christy Robinson, these pieces are crafted from earth friendly recycled materials like aluminium, copper and sterling silver. To buy her products visit her website at or buy them on Etsy at Such a great gift idea to give to your animal loving friends!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Baby Potatoes in Mustard and Dark Soy

This one's hot, sticky, spicy, fried and carby. But I promise you it is one helluva vegan snack for the monsoons. Here's how to make it. 

You will need:
  • Baby potatoes with skins
  • Chopped garlic
  • Chopped onion
  • Mustard oil
  • Mustard sauce- preferable the Indian Kasundi
  • Dark soy sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Red chilli powder
  • Red chilli flakes
What you need to do:

Fry the onions in mustard oil. Add in the halved potatoes and garlic. Add salt, a tablespoon of sugar, 4 tablespoons of dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of mustard sauce, a teaspoon of red chilli powder and some chilli flakes. Stir well and keep on low heat till the potatoes are cooked on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside. Serve with mustard sauce. 

 Indian brands of mustard oil will give this recipe that extra kick.

I prefer to use locally bought mustard sauce- better known as kasundi in India. It's spicy and tangy has more heat. Plus, you can actually taste the mustard seeds.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Vegan Birthday Surprise at 022, Trident

So I have the best friends ever. This is why: On my birthday last week, I was whisked off to the Trident in Mumbai for a surprise birthday dinner by my friend Shreya and her husband Naresh. The sushi chef at 022 had prepared a beautiful vegan sushi platter with avocado, shitake mushroom and cucumber. The patisserie chef, Tanisha Ravindra pulled out all the stops with her vegan dark chocolate cake- decorated on top with a stiletto (this is Shreya's way of hinting that I may have slight shoe addiction problem... :P ). Seriously, if you want to eat the best vegan cake in town- Tanisha's your man.

For the main course there was a red curry and shitake mushroom and broccoli stir fry in black bean sauce with jasmine rice. And of course the Pina Coladas made the evening one I will remember for a very very long time. Thanks Shreya and Naresh- I owe you guys one! :)


Monday, June 25, 2012

Animal Shaped Paper Clips from HitPlay

Bunny Clips

These little paper clips in animal shapes are so adorable. They come in cow, elephant, bunny, hippo and pig shapes. At just Rs 199 for a box of 20- these could make a great gift office gift.  Buy them online at

Elephant Clips
Pig Clips