Yogurt, Greens, Oil

Cherie was working late on her fine arts practicals portfolio, and while making a mug of hot chocolate for her, I thought I’d fix myself a little something too. We don’t usually have very many vegetables, snacks or leftovers in the house, buying and cooking fresh for most part. The only exceptions are meats in the freezer and perhaps a roast in the fridge from time to time. That, combined with my almost-obsession with lowering my carb intake, leaves very few snack options. And while there were three whole birds in the freezer, there was no cooked meat to munch on.

This was just a very late night / early morning (3am) snack that I put together and shared and had no intention of writing about it here. When I saw the post had garnered nearly 400 likes, I thought it might just be something that should be recorded. So, here’s probably the simplest recipe on this blog.

The result is a wonderfully aromatic bowl, both oils having their own distinct aromas, with the pepper oil being surprisingly floral. Each spoon is soothing due to the sesame oil and the salt, and there’s a bit of crunch and mustard sharpness from the greens.



  • Pour yogurt into bowl
  • Top with the rest of the ingredients
  • Serve; mix well and eat.


  • If raw garlic is too strong for you, consider garlic powder or toasting the garlic prior.
  • Some may find this bland. Add a dash of Sriracha sauce if you like.
  • I found the Sechuan pepper oil at Majnu ka Tila in Delhi and couldn’t find any equivalent on Amazon.


Chicken, Aubergine, Carrots

We ate this for dinner last night, and I had a completely different idea of how I wanted this dish to turn out. As it so happened, Indu wanted rotis with dinner and that didn’t really work for what I had in mind.

This dish has a thick, very delicious gravy, and the veggies within become quite soft and juicy. I love whole garlic, even though they don’t add a great deal of their flavour to the gravy or the dish as a whole.


  • Chicken, curry cut, 500gm
  • Brinjal, long, 1 medium-large, washed and cut
  • French beans, handful, washed and cut
  • Carrots, 1 large, washed and cut
  • Onions, 2 medium, peeled and sliced fine
  • Garlic, 40 cloves, whole
  • Garlic powder, 2 tsp
  • Chili powder, 2 tsp
  • Coriander powder, 1.5 tsp
  • Kalonji, 1/2 tsp
  • Star anise, 1 piece
  • Cinnamon, 1/2 inch piece
  • Black peppercorns, 1 tsp, ground from whole
  • Laung, 4 – 5 pieces
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil to cook


  1. Marinate chicken with salt, chilli powder and garlic powder for 30 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and on high heat, fry the chicken pieces until cooked on the outside. Remove and drain.
  3. In the same pan, on low-medium heat, add all the remaining spices.
  4. Add the onions and garlic; fry till the onions just begin to brown.
  5. Add the chicken, stir well, add the brinjal and carrots; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the beans, and continue to simmer, covered for another 10 minutes, stirring once.
  6. Mix well, so the little gravy there is, covers the chicken and everything else.
  7. Serve hot with rotis.


  • Increase the spices proportionately if you want more gravy.
  • I used mustard oil to cook
  • You can reduce the amount of garlic cloves if you wish by up to half. If you do, smash the garlic before adding.
  • This recipe results in very soft veggies. If you like them firmer/crisp, reduce cooking time, but remember to put the brinjal in first nonetheless.


Sarson, Rice, Dal

I received a bunch of ingredient suggestions from the Safal Team this month, with one caveat; there should be at least one khichdi recipe amongst the lot. I confess, that while khichdi, is one of my favourite dishes, and I’ll take some care to ensure there’s pickle, raw onions and desi ghee when eating it, I’ve never, ever thought of cooking it, let alone actually cooked it.


This recipe was created for The Right Side of Life, a Safal community on Facebook. If you’re interested in eating healthier and involving food in different aspects of wellness, this is a group for you. We’re planning lots of activities and content for this group that I’m sure you’ll love!

So, this is my first time making any sort of khichdi, let alone some of the more elaborate one’s you’ve probably done. Be kind please. The haldi is missing from this recipe on purpose, so the colour ends up a nice, bright green.

Ideally, I must have pickle, ghee and raw onions with my khichdi.


  • Step 1
    • Masoor Dal, 1/2 cup, washed and drained (about 100gm)
    • Rice, 1 cup, washed, pre-soaked for 30 minutes and drained (about 200 gm)
    • Salt to taste
    • Green chillies x3 pieces, slit
    • Garam masala x1 tbsp
  • Step 2
    • Sarson/Mustard leaves, 1 bunch, washed and trimmed.
    • Ginger, 1″ piece, finely chopped
    • Garlic, 6 cloves, finely chopped
  • Peanuts, crushed
  • Garnish
    • Chilli Pickle (I used Safal)
    • Raw onions
    • Ghee (I used Mother Dairy)
    • Peanuts, whole


  1. Put all the ingredients from ‘Step 1’ into a cooker, mix well, and cook until the rice is done, but not too mashed.
  2. Put all the ingredients from ‘Step 2’ into a cooker, mix well and cook for 1 whistle. Remove, drain and puree finely.
  3. Mix the outcomes from ‘Step 1’ and ‘Step 2’ with the crushed peanuts, pour into a plate, garnish with the ingredients from ‘Garnish’, and serve.


  • Adjust garam masala and chillies to your liking.
  • Sarson ka saag sometimes has thick stalks. Peel these stalks of the fibrous outer casing, coarsely chop and add to the ingredients of step 2. I would also consider blanching these and adding them to the garnish or whole, like the peanuts, for crunch.
  • The role of the peanuts is for added crunch. I forgot to add the peanut garnish.
  • Given the number of pickles we have in this country, it is easy to vary flavour profiles simply by changing the pickle used.


Using a Whole Fish

We ordered a 1.5 kilo Indian basa a few days ago, and cut it up into a bunch of different pieces for different purposes. In case you’re thinking this takes too much time, the whole process took me about 10 – 12 minutes.

  • Head – I don’t like the whole head much and usually keep it for stock. When done, and the head is scraped, quite a bit of extra skin and flesh can be retrieved for gravies or to mix with potatoes and make little fried patties or as a filling for pies etc.
  • Fillets – This is the area above and below the central bony section. We use it for boneless applications where hands aren’t used for eating. Can be used in gravies, grills, stir fries, deep fries etc.
  • Ribs section of fillets and tail – This is a semi circular section, at the front, lower end of the fish, ending just below the head. It has a row of thick bones and can be difficult to de-bone without a fair bit of trouble or making a mess of the piece. We use this for curries, grills and dishes where we use our hands to eat the food.
  • Carcass scrapings – When the fillets are separated from the bone, the choice is to make a cleaner cut, leaving less flesh on the bone but bits of bone in the fillet, or more flesh on the bone and clean boneless fillets. I choose to keep my fillets smooth and scrape off the flesh with fingers/knife and use it for sandwiches, burgers, scrambled with eggs etc.
  • Carcass – This is always reserved for stock and boiled with the head. There’s usually some fat at the edges that I prefer keeping for the nutritional value add.

Using a whole fish will not only cost you less as well as possibly reduce waste on the part of the producer, but you’ll also have a bunch of different parts with different tastes, textures and culinary uses.


Fish, Eggs, Veggies

I had some minced fish in the fridge as a result of thoroughly scraping a carcass, and we used it as part of a dinner spread for the three of us.

You can use this as is, with toast, on toast, in a sandwich, stuffed into a samosa, as a pie filling, onto an open tart, anything really.


  • Minced fish
  • Eggs, beaten (equal in weight to fish)
  • Carrots, finely chopped
  • Spring onions, finely chopped
  • Spring onion greens, finely chopped
  • Oil as needed
  • Salt, Pepper, Soy sauce, lime/lemon


  1. Heat oil. Briefly fry onions and carrots.
  2. Add fish, fry till mostly cooked
  3. Add eggs, scramble
  4. Add spring onion greens, mix well.
  5. Season with salt, pepper, soy sauce and a squeeze of lime.


  • Season it with whatever you wish. These are my choices. You could use Indian seasonings, or a tadka style seasoning at the beginning or at the end – your call.
  • If using as sandwich filling, remember to drain, not evaporate the water, perhaps mixing the water with mayonnaise or other medium and adding it back to the mixture. Evaporating it might leave the fish and eggs very dry. You’ll need some medium to bind the lot together to make a graceful sandwich that doesn’t spill all over the place.

Korean Spinach Salad (Sigeumchi Namul)

There’s this Korean salad I first tasted about a decade ago and fell in love with it immediately. Subsequently, as a family, the three of us adore it and use it every place we can. The only boring part, is cleaning the spinach.

The best part of this dish for me, is the heavenly aroma of that delicious sesame oil. Take care you use the Chinese style and not the south Indian version. Both are very different.

The ingredients are simple and it graces most platters well, going with most other foods, meat or vegetable. There are a few ingredient variations, and you could try adding your own special touch when you make it at home.


  • Spinach, blanched, squeezed and chopped
  • Sesame Oil
  • Garlic, sliced
  • Salt


  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Serve as a side dish or as part of a platter


  • Ingredient variations include roasted sesame seeds, finely sliced green chillies (deseeded or not) and whole, blanched and squeezed spinach instead of chopped, among others. You do what works best with you.
  • The quantities depend on your tastes. A whole bunch of spinach is usually enough for a single person as a whole course. The same bunch is usually enough for the three of us as part of a larger meal.

Soy Fish, Chili Rice, Micro Greens

When we buy fish, I prefer a whole uncleaned piece, or the next best, whole cleaned. This format allows me to practise cutting different types of fish, familiarise myself with its anatomy, as well as the flexibility to extract whatever cut suits my needs that day. In addition, not only is the fish much cheaper in this format, the carcass is scraped and the outcome enough for a sandwich, and the carcass itself used for stock.

We had freshly cut fillets available therefore yesterday evening, and I wasn’t in the mood for much cooking. The rice was washed and boiled, the fish pan grilled, the rice then spiced, the whole plated and we were done.


  • For soy fish
    • Dark soy, 1 tbsp
    • Light soy, 2 tbsp
    • Sechuan pepper oil, 1 tsp
    • Sugar, 1/2 tsp
  • For spiced rice
    • Tibetan chilli paste
    • Sesame oil
    • Oil for sauteeing
    • Onion, 1 pc, sliced
    • Garlic, 5 cloves, sliced
  • Rice, cooked, 3 cups
  • Filleted fish, 4 pieces
  • Mustard micro greens, 3 small bunches
  • Salt to taste


  1. Mix ingredients for soy fish well, marinate fish for 30 minutes, pan fry/grill with a little oil; about 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat on each side, depending on the thickness of the piece.
  2. Fry onions until translucent, add garlic, fry some more, add remaining ingredients for rice, mix well, then mix well again with the cooked rice.
  3. Plate and serve.


  • The fillets used came from a 1.5 kilo Indian basa, which were trimmed to remove the semi-circular row of thick ‘rib’ thorns, then sliced in half. Four pieces therefore constituted two whole trimmed, boneless fillets.
  • Dark soy has more colour, little flavour. Light soy has little colour, more flavour.
  • Ideally, one would use sticky rice, but whatever you have should work fine.
  • The coarser your sugar, the longer it’ll take to blend with the marinade and have any real effect. Use powdered sugar if your sugar is very coarse.

Breakfast savory muffins


  • Semolina/suji, ½ cup
  • Chickpea flour/besan, ½ cup
  • Curd, ½ cup
  • Grated carrots, 2tbsp.
  • Chopped capsicum, 2tbsp.
  • Chopped coriander, 2tbsp.
  • Boiled peas, 1tbsp.
  • Cornflakes, 2tbsp.
  • Egg, 1
  • Oil, 3tbsp.
  • Red chilli powder, ½ tbsp.
  • Coriander powder, 1tbsp.
  • Cumin powder, ½ tsp.
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Sieve the semolina, chickpea flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Keep this aside.  
  2. In a sperate bowl, whisk the egg. Add curd to this and mix well.
  3. Add all the vegetables and oil, mix again.
  4. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together and add the seasoning mentioned above.
  5. Transfer this batter to greased muffin molds and bake at 180 celsius for 10-12 minutes.


  1. You can use any veggies of your choice.
  2. Check your oven before deciding on the baking time and temperature.
  3. If you’re feeling indulgent, add a bit of mozzarella in the centre.

Orange Sugar and Exfoliating Soap

We’re trying to reduce our kitchen waste and are down to about half a bag a day, and want to reduce it further. Perhaps composting is the way forward; something I’ve never tried. If you’ve tried it, please do share your method in the comments below.

Using some waste orange peel that I peeled the zest from, which was chopped and dried for a bit, then whizzed with some powdered sugar I had lying about, and then sifting the contents, I was left with two very interesting results.

One was an orange-yellow sugar that smelled heavenly of orange and citrus and tasted quite interesting, and the second was the sugar coated orange peel that could be sifted no more.

Sifted the orange-sugar mixture to separate the two

The idea is to use the so-called candied orange peel into an exfoliating soap, using a clear soap base I’ve been experimenting with lately. Yesterday, we made some lemon flavoured soap with lemon oil and lemon rind.

We use two melt and pour soap bases at home. One is supposedly a white goat milk base that I find hard to believe, though it certainly is quite soft otherwise and melts easily. The other is a transparent, glycerine based soap base that too melts easily.

To melt the stuff, you can either construct a double boiler at home, or purchase one. I use a chocolate and cheese melting thingie that has two settings, one for chocolate and one for cheese. The cheese setting (number 2) works quite well for soap.

Then you’ll need moulds, of which I had quite a few left over from when I was experimenting with chocolate making, especially this mould with small square holes that works quite well for little soaps, though I did pick up one new mould with large cavities to try with soap making.

The process at its core is simple:

  1. Melt the soap
  2. Mix in any essential oils (for the lemon, I use lemon and for orange, I used a mixed fruit blend)
  3. Pour
  4. Wait for it to solidify (you can put it into the fridge too)
  5. Extract

There are other considerations, such as gravity for the exfoliation substance you’re using, whether you want it on the surface or not etc. That you’ll need to figure out based on what soap and substance you’re using.

Do share your experiments with waste and how you’re trying to reduce it.