Steamed Savory Oats Patties with Yogurt Sauce (Oats Nucchina Unde)

Would you believe me if I told you that you guys are always on my mind? Really!! Summer was extremely busy and I just haven’t gotten back on track with a more diciplined routine yet. I must say though that I’ve lined up a ton of interesting recipes to share with you.  I’m always thinking of HolyKhao readers and all the posts I should have made but haven’t. I know the saying ‘Actions speak louder than words’, but in my case, I implore you to put that aside and apply “It’s the thought that counts‘ :)).

Lakshmi Puja in early September & last week’s Ganesha Chaturthi heralded the start of festival season for Hindus and more celebrations like Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas in the USA. Unfortunately, for me, this means the start of carb overload. After finally accepting that my husband and I can’t have diets like we did when we were younger, but being reluctant to give up taste, I’m working on tweaking traditional recipes to make them a little healthier. Of course, every time it’s a success, I’ll be sharing it here :))

Nuchina Unde

Nucchina Unde is a traditional Karnataka food that is made by steaming seasoned dal, and can be eaten plain, with chutney or a yogurt curry. My aunt had mentioned that her friend had made this version with oats, but I was skeptical. Since she swore that it was delicious, I figured I’d give it a try. Let me just say that I was not disappointed! The patties tasted almost like the authentic dal ones, and were easier to make as it requires no soaking. I’ve made it thrice for recipe testing, and it has been a great breakfast and tea time snack, and my 11-year old has wolfed down quite a few.  I grew up eating these plain with a generous dollop of homemade ghee, and it was only after I got married that I learnt that typically, nucchina unde is served with a yogurt & vegetable curry called Majjige Huli or Paladya. My version here is quick, no-cook, flavor-filled and small enough for this batch.

Nuchina Unde

Oats Nucchina Unde

Steamed Savory Oats Patties with Yogurt Sauce

(Makes 12-14)

  • 1 cup rolled oats (toast lightly & cool)
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour / maida
  • 1 Tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 – 1 cup finely chopped dill
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • 4-5 red or green chillies (I like the taste of red, but it does make your mix darker in color)
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 tsp salt ( or to taste)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  1. Coarsely pulse the oats in a blender / food processor jar. It should not be fine, and it’s okay to have some whole oat flakes.
  2. Add the maida & rice flour and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Blend the curry leaves, cilantro, chillies, ginger & coconut in a small blender jar, adding  just 2-3 Tbsp of water. (save jar for blending sauce ingredients.)
  4. Add the masala, dill, salt & lime juice to the oats and gently mix well.
  5. Set aside for 15 minutes to soak up the moisture and flavors.
  6. Take rounded tablespoons full of oats mixture and gently roll into 2-inch logs (Do not press too hard or the patties will be very dense).
  7. Place on a greased steamer plate / idli stand and steam for 13-15 minutes.
  8. Serve hot or at room temperature. (I have reheated them in the microwave with no loss of taste or texture.)

Nuchina Unde

Yogurt Sauce

(Makes about 1 cup)

  • 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 5-6 sprigs cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp roasted channa dal (daliya) – this keeps the sauce from separating
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (sasive) – optional but it give the sauce a wonderful flavor
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup yogurt (or around 1/2 – 2/3 cup buttermilk)
  1. Make a fine paste of the coconut, ginger, cilantro, chillies, channa, mustard seeds and a few teaspoons of yogurt in a small blender jar.
  2. Add the rest of the yogurt and give it a quick blend to incorporate everything.
  3. Remove to a serving bowl and add salt.

For Seasoning

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (this is necessary for seasoning)
  • pinch of asafetida (hing)
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  1. Heat a small pan on medium flame and add oil.
  2. Add the mustard seeds and cover till it stops sputtering.
  3. Add the hing & curry leaves and cover partially, shaking the pan to crisp the curry leaves.
  4. Remove from heat and pour over the sauce.

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

How many of you spent the summer with kids who were constantly eating – because they were starving after hours at the pool, because their friends were over and wanted a snack, they wanted to try a new concoction, or they were just plain bored because you took away their electronics? My kids had more than their fill of junk food over the last few months, and there was not much I could do about it when extended family visiting for a few months and there was constant entertaining.

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

Fast forward to mid-August: the guests leave and my college bound child – who is suddenly on a gym routine – announces that he needs lots more protein than he gets at home! The 11-year old on a growth spurt eats like there’s no tomorrow. Husband says he’d like to take something from home to keep the 3p.m. vending machine run at bay. I just want something that can be eaten without utensils and feels like a treat but is also healthy for my family. These Quinoa Bars to the rescue! I made these the first time without any recipe, and you can do the same too. The amounts and ingredients below are just a guide (as are many of my other recipes). Feel free to substitute what you have on hand and adjust quantities to suit your taste. For example, add coconut flakes if you like the taste. Substitute almonds with walnuts (or mix a little of both!). Replace cranberries with cherries or even raisins if that’s what you have on hand. I’ve used a whole 15 oz bag of milk chocolate chips but you could reduce it or switch it up with dark / semi-sweet / white chocolate.

With school back in session and after school events looming around the corner, breakfast and grab-and-go snacks that are easy, tasty and good for you are a blessing. These bars keeps for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

(Makes 16 bars 2-inch X 2-inch bars)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup dates (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup figs (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup almonds (or walnuts) – chopped
  • 1/2 cup cranberries (or cherries / tart raisins)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups chocolate chips of choice
  1. In a heavy bottom pan, lightly toast the quinoa over medium flame for few minutes. It will pop and lightly puff. Remove from heat & cool completely. (Do not brown.) – I feel this removes the slight bitter taste, but feel free to use raw if that’s what you prefer. 
  2. In a heavy duty food processor, add the dates, figs and coconut oil and pulse till it becomes finely processed.
  3. Add the cooled quinoa, flax, chia, almonds and half of the cranberries & pumpkin seeds. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped and mixed well.
  4. Line an 8X8 pan with wax paper and press the mixture into the pan. Level the top using the back of a flat spoon or dish.
  5. Melt chocolate chips according to package directions and pour evenly over the mixture and spread.
  6. Set in the refrigerator for an hour or so to set and firm up. Cut into 16 pieces. The bars keep for atleast 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Click here for recipes for No-Cook Oats & Dates Breakfast Bars and No Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars

Creamy Guava-Coconut Popsicles

Creamy Guava-Coconut Popsicles

A week into summer break, and I’ve already heard “Mom, can we go to the pool?”, “Mom, can we go get ice-cream?”, and “I’m Bored!!” more times than I can take. I had my 10-year old make a list of all the things he would like to do for fun over the next two months, and making popsicles was one of the first few items. We’re checking off one item on the list each day, and yesterday happened to be the day we pulled out the popsicle molds from the basement. But let me be honest; I foresee many days where screen time is going to be my best friend :).

IMG_0042  (Mom’s ‘not-so-little’ helper)

 

I got this paleta Latin American popsicles that are either cream or juice mixed with fruit – recipe several years ago from my friend Nellie, and had really enjoyed the taste. I meant to share it here earlier, but had misplaced the hand written scrap of paper. After looking everywhere, I found it folded and tucked inside one of my many recipe books and binders. One of my most favorite recipes, these are creamy and just sweet enough. I’ve been inspired to use this basic recipe to substitute other fruits, and will update here once (if) my experiments are successful.

IMG_0043 IMG_0044

 

 

(Guava paste can be found in the Hispanic food section at the grocery store.)

Creamy Guava-Coconut Popsicles

Creamy Guava-Coconut PopsiclesCreamy Guava-Coconut Popsicle

(Makes 15-17 popsicles, about quarter cup each)

  • 1 (15 oz) can coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 (15 oz) can condensed milk
  • 10-12 oz guava paste

1) Chop about a quarter of the guava paste into small pieces and drop into the bottom of the popsicle molds.

2) In a large blender jar, add the coconut milk, cream, milk, cornstarch, condensed milk, & chunks of the remaining guava paste. Blend till well mixed, but not frothy.

3) Pour into the popsicle molds, add handles and freeze for atleast 4-6 hours.

4) To remove popsicles, run the bottom & sides of the mold under warm water for a few seconds and slide the ice cream out.

NOTE : If using dixie cups, place them on a cookie tray or plate and then fill them according to instructions. Freeze on the cookie tray for about an hour. Then insert the popsicle sticks. This will help keep the sticks straight as they freeze for several more hours.

Coconut Macaroons – To dip in chocolate or not?

Coconut Macaroons

I got this recipe from a PTA mom at my son’s school a long time ago – she must have given it to over a dozen people as the cookies were SO good – and I’ve looked at it and put it away so many times over the years. Finally decided to try making them, and boy, are they easy to make. In fact, I would say the ‘hardest part’ was scooping them onto the cookie tray (well, besides sweating it out on the treadmill and cursing myself for eating too many! But that’s a different blog post ;)).

Coconut Macaroons

You can dip these macaroons in chocolate if you like, but they are good as-is too. Super easy to make, crispy on the edges, chewy on the inside. YUM!

Coconut Macaroons

(about 3-dozen cookies)

  • 1 (14 oz) package flaked coconut – sweetened**
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 egg whites – room temperature
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1-2 cups chocolate chips – optional

1) Preheat oven to 325*F.

2) In a large bowl, add flaked coconut, sugar, flour & salt, and mix well.

3) In another small bowl, add the egg whites & the almond extract, and beat lightly.

4) Add eggs to the coconut mixture and mix well.

5) Drop by tablespoons onto a greased cookie tray.*****

6) Bake 18-20 minutes, until edges are golden brown.

7) Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

8) If you are using chocolate, melt the chips according to package directions and dip the macaroons halfway. Set on the same parchment lined trays to harden completely.

9) Store in an air-tight box for several days.

 

NOTE** : If you decide to use unsweetened coconut flakes, increase the sugar to 2/3 cups.

NOTE*****: I always use parchment paper to ensure my food does not stick to the pan, and also to make for easy cleanup.

For easy and even scooping, I use a small ice cream scoop (and NO – I don’t make any revenue by linking to Amazon from here. This is just to give you an idea.)

 

Eggless Coconut ‘Cheesefake’

Coconut 'Cheesefake'

From Washington Post’s Food Section, this recipe is a no-bake, healthier dessert than the traditional cheesecake. Greek yogurt & gelatin substitute cream cheese, and almonds & dates make up for processed graham crackers crust. It may look like a lot of work, but the recipe is pretty easy to make.

I will be honest, it does not taste exactly like regular cheesecake. But at about half the calories, it does not compromise on taste and texture. Tangy and coconuty, it does not seem like a winter dessert. But I thought I should share, just in case there was someone looking for a guilt-free dessert recipe.

Coconut ‘Cheesefake’

Coconut 'Cheesefake'

(Serves 10-12)

MAKE AHEAD: The cake needs to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

FOR THE CRUST

  • 16 pitted dates, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups (skinless) slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (solidified)

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons (2 packets) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups plain low-fat greek-style yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1) For the crust, use a 9-inch springform pan.

2) Pulse the dates, almonds and coconut oil in a food processor till well incorporated.

3) Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan; use a piece of wax paper to do this if you don’t want to get your hands sticky.

Coconut 'Cheesefake'

 

4) Wipe out the food processor bowl.

5) For the filling: Heat the coconut water in a microwave-safe bowl on HIGH for a few seconds, until it is hot (but not boiling).

6) Add the lemon juice, then stir in the powdered gelatin until it has dissolved.

7) Blend the yogurt, coconut and vanilla extract in the food processor to desired consistency (if you like the texture of coconut, coarse blend; if you like just the flavor, blend fine).

8) Add the gelatin mixture and puree until smooth. Pour on top of the crust, leveling the surface.

9) Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

10) To serve, dip a knife into very hot water before cutting each piece. Serve plain, top with fruit, or drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Coconut 'Cheesefake'

Refrigirate leftovers in a tightly covered container. Use within a day or two (it tastes fine, but gets a little soggy if stored longer).

Brown Lentil Coconut Soup

Low in calories and high in soluble & insoluble fiber, lentils are a good source of protein as well as a good substitute for meat. They are filled with folate, iron, and other important nutrients. They require no pre-soaking and cook in about 20-30 minutes. The recipe below is delicious and freezes very well. I always make a large batch and pack 1-cup servings in small plastic containers to freeze and reheat for quick and healthy lunches on busy days. I prefer to use the easily available and inexpensive Brown Lentils as they hold their shape well, but I think you can substitute red ones if thats what you have on hand.

Brown Lentil Coconut Soup

(Makes about 8 1-cup servings)

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 medium onions (about 1 heaped cup) – chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes – pureed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves – grated
  • 2 Tbsp ginger paste (about 1 1/2 inch)
  • 1 tsp cayenne / red chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
  • 2 cups frozen / fresh kale or spinach
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice
  • sour cream (optional)

1) Pick through the lentils and make sure there is no dirt or stones. Rinse and drain well.

2) In a large pan, add lentils and water and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce to low flame and cook covered about 20 minutes till tender, stirring mid-way.

3) In another pan, heat the oil and add onions. Saute till transparent.

4) Add ginger and garlic and saute till fragrant.

5) Add the spices and roast for a few seconds.

6) Mix in the tomato puree and heat, scraping the bottom.

7) When lentils are ready, mix with the onion-tomato mixture.

8) Add coconut milk and salt, and simmer on low about 10-15 minutes.

9) Add the kale/spinach and simmer an additional 5 minutes till it is wilted.

10) Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of sour cream.

Coconut Chutney

Coconut Chutney
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1 Tbsp fried gram
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1 inch ginger (cut to small pieces)
  • 1 small sprig curry leaves
  • few stalks cilantro
  • salt
  • lime juice to taste – optional
1) Coarsely grind all the above ingredients with a few spoons of water. Remove to a serving dish. Can be served at this point.

2) In a small pan, heat oil and roast mustard seeds till they stop popping.

3) Add the curry leaves and roast few seconds.

4) Add the udad dal and roast till light golden brown. Pour over the ground chutney and mix.