“The cuisine of a country is the only exact attestation of its civilization.”
Author Unknown

Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing 1 800Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing. Stirring memories.

My one and only trip to mainland Europe was to Milan and that too decades ago. The UK has it’s own charm, but Europe is a different story altogether. The husband often carried back tales of Germany, Netherlands and France yet I get a first hand feel as I couldn’t connect very well. It took the recent trip to Switzerland to change my whole perspective on Europe, how culturally and historically rich it is. You also get a taste of local cuisine. It makes the heart sing out loud when you see the pride they take in stirring up and serving local cuisine, each platter served in style, laced with culinary history. As you cross regions, the stories of food change, the influences are varied, French, German, East European, maybe more.

Swiss cuisineI got back and possibly the first thing I dabbled was was this char-grilled tomato gazpacho, one which is found right across the country. In temperatures ready to sizzle Europe, this Spanish chilled soup is popular across menus in Switzerland. A tomato gazpacho, spinach, cucumber, peach too where they get a little experimental. It’s chilled, it’s bursting with flavour and possibly the most welcome bowl to douse the heat wave!Vine tomatoes with LFP

Gazpacho The Swiss love food and they love life. Local produce rules the roost, and it is heartening to visit a country that celebrates seasonal and local produce practically on every platter. Fruit in bakes, sweet and savoury, greens that are to die for, micro greens just in case you need an additional excuse. Cheese in every avatar, eat as much as you like! If there’s one thing I picked out, it’s there love for salads. Fresh, crisp, from farm to table. SwitzerlandSalad bars are standard at sit down restaurants. Pick and choose what you like, and then drizzle {or drench} with either French or Italian salad dressing. I love the generous servings of dressing that stand alongside, lashings that take the salad up a lot many notches.It’s travels like this that inspire you to stir up something special, maybe something different.Sydney 2015 The trip to Sydney this summer had the teen in love with a good Caesar salad. I soon played around with ingredients for the dressing as that’s what a good salad needs IMHO. The rest I can manage, a little painstakingly in summer of course. So I came up with this dressing, which is like a cross between a Ranch and Caesar, no anchovies in here, yet nice and creamy and zesty. I’ll call it a Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing. It’s nice because it’s easy to whiz up, the trusted Hamilton Beach blender being the workhouse through my experiments.Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing I really should also be making my own mayonnaise, though always have an eggless one in the fridge! Del Monte does a really nice one. Just makes life easier on days when you are short on time. Using just locally available ingredients, this is a nice salad dressing to have in the fridge to perk up the most mundane of salads. Adjust the zinginess as you like, increase or decrease the garlic according to your palette, skip the cheese spread to go light. This is your dressing. Do it your way!


Recipe: Homemade Ranch Dressing your picture

Summary: Zesty, creamy and lighter than a Caesar dressing, this is a handy salad dressing to have in the fridge. Play around with the ingredients as you go along, customise it to your taste buds. You might never go back to a store bought one again.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 1/4 cup Del Monte eggless mayonnaise {or homemade}
  • 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk {chaach Amul/Mother Dairy}
  • 1/8 cup cheese spread
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cheese spread
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp dried herbs
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Place everything in jar of blender and blend until smooth. taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. Transfer to a clean jar/bottle, refrigerate.
  3. Keeps 4-5 days.


Once this is done and in the fridge, then the rest of the Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing is usually a breeze. Summer is a pain for fresh produce here, everything wilts so fast. So I threw together a quick summer chicken pasta salad, inspired by a Caesar.Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad DressingIt’s a meal in a bowl, and quite balanced too. I’ve kept the carbs to a minimum, a generous dose of greens {iceberg is all I find locally these days} and a handful of roasted walnuts. On other days, you could find some sliced avocado, tomatoes, feta, pine nuts and rocket in there. Do remember to add the croutons just before serving so they stay nice and crisp.Char-grille Tomato GazpachoOh, and you could always serve a chilled tomato gazpacho on the side, making it a more filling meal!

[print_this]Recipe: Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad DressingDressing
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Summary: A nice summery Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing which can be made ahead. Toss together and serve immediately in winter. It’s a meal in a bowl, and adaptable to taste. Use the best seasonal greens, preferably home grown or organic

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 2 oat crusted and shallow fried or baked chicken fillets, chopped
  • 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 purple cabbage, chopped
  • 75g Del Monte macaroni, cooked al dente
  • 50g walnuts, roasted, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, julienne {optional}
  • 1 cup salad greens if in season {I had none}
  • 1/2 cup home made buttermilk salad dressing {recipe above}
  • handful fresh basil
  • Parmesan
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, cubed


  1. Place bread in air fryer and fry for 15 minutes on 160 until light brown and crisp. {Alternatively bake in oven}
  2. Place all ingredients other than bread, dressing, basil and Parmesan in a big bowl. Toss gently to mix, then pour over dressing as required and mix again.
  3. Just before serving toss in crisp bread cubes. Garnish with fresh basil, sprinkle over Parmesan. serve immediately.


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Strawberry Kiwi Fruit SaladIt’s the time of the year where your palette changes as the season changes. Springs given way to summer, and thankfully it’s been kind of mild so far. The flavours are shifting gear from hearty earthy soups to salads and smoothies galore.

Summer foods, healthyGrilled is in … sandwiches & barbeque. With it comes breads – wholegrain, chewy, deep, delicious. Yes the yeast in action gives rise to some fine French fougasse and foccacias and no one is complaining. Healthy food in Delhi is in, and it’s fun to see the change in food trends.summer coolersThe past two years have seen a shift in gears towards light food in Delhi. Though the number of  stand alone salad bars in Delhi are still limited, most coffee shops and restaurants have a live salad counter which throw up the most amazing of fresh and cooked salads all day long. Nirulas Pot Pourri was possibly the first ‘salad bar in Delhi’, one that brings back old memories of the 1980’s. Stone Fruit SaladWe would hang out on the ground floor in Connaught Place, having ‘escaped’ from school, sinking our teeth into 21 Love and Jamoca Almond Fudge. the Hot Chocolate Fudge was slightly steeper, so that was for special days, toasted cashews on top and the works! We’d climb upstairs sometimes to treat ourselves to the occasional grilled sandwich, passing by the salad bar, but never stopping for any! The precious pennies were saved to buy real food in our eyes, not pineapples and Russian salad!!

Healthy food makeoverHow times change when you grow up. How food on the table changes too! It’s actually a combination of an internet explosion, social media, interest in food, spending time in the kitchen, reading cookbooks and blogs non stop that lead to awakening. One constantly questions ‘what is on the plate’? And it’s a great way for youngsters to learn too!Fruit salad The son will not eat a meal without salad, he begins every morning with a fruit salad … it’s the best thing in the world he declares! What’s the fuss all about you might wonder. Nothing at all. It’s the Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Salad that I’ve been making for years. This is a simple, refreshing, make ahead or make instantly glass of joy.

SaladsStrawberries and kiwi are two very vitamin rich fruit, though can try experimenting with maybe melons and kiwi, or mango and strawberries, maybe litchi and melon… whatever is in season and forms part of your local produce. Throw in a bunch of fresh herbs from the garden, sit back and refresh yourself this summer!

[print_this]Recipe: Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Salad
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Summary: Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Salad is a simple, refreshing, make ahead or make instantly glass of joy. Strawberries and kiwi are two very vitamin rich fruit. Throw in a bunch of fresh herbs from the garden, sit back and refresh yourself this summer! Serves 2

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 12 strawberries, hulled, diced
  • 2 ripe kiwi, peeled, diced
  • 2tsp raw sugar {boora} or honey
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Fresh basil or mint


  1. Place fruit in serving glasses or a glass bowl.
  2. Sprinkle over sugar / honey, squeeze over the lime juice and gently toss to mix.
  3. Spoon into serving glasses or bowls. garnish with fresh herbs.
  4. Chill until ready to serve.


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“If you take more of your protein from vegetable or plant-based foods, good studies have shown that you will live longer.”
Professor Jeya Henry

Dals, 3 Quick Dal Recipes Made With Less WaterThe pure comfort of that bowl of dal, the nostalgia engulfs me each time I smell the aroma of onions being fried in clarified butter. Such is the power of food, and in my opinion, these protein rich dals / lentils offer deep deep comfort in every bowl. The humble khichadi is the meal on the go at our place, with dollops of home made yogurt and kumquat green chilli pickle. Did I forget a liberal drizzle of ghee? Yes please!

DalsLiving in India, dal was synonymous with meals when we grew up. From the bowl that I loved, to many that I didn’t, the dal journey has come a long way. There was dal served on the many long train journeys from Delhi to Bangalore as we were growing up, to diluted iquidy dals served in the Officers Mess where we dined often. There was the piquant luxurious ambi wali dal in UP during the summer. Working at the airport in the late 1980’s saw many a midnight meal after flight departures at dhabas that dotted the vicinity. Nothing could beat the comfort of that dhaba dal with the fresh tandoori roti. Pure magic. As always, dhabas in India never disappoint.

Dals From the dhaba to Bukhara, as small bowl of Dal Bukhara and there is born another memory. This one is a truly indulgent dal, one which is a  tradition in itself, a dal simmered over slow coal fires all night long, a world renowned dal. My memories of this dal go back to the late 80’s and early 90’s … the taste lingers on.

DalsThat’s the power of food, and the power of dal. Yet another dal milestone came by way of home science in school. We mastered the Moong Dal with Spinach, and post marriage this was the only dal I cooked, day in and day out. It’s the only one I was confident about. I am sure the house was FED UP with my lack of creativity but no one said a word. The only other alternative I offered was Moong Masoor Dal, a quick 5 minute dal that my mother often made. I still make that a lot. I love the flavours. A tadka of zeera, garlic and hari mirch complete it.

DalsNow my dal repertoire has grown with many years of food blogging and traveling across India. I love the pure comfort of dals from Uttar Pradesh to the genius use of dals down south. Every part of India celebrates this macro nutrient or power house of protein in their own special way. From a finger licking good haleem, to a Parsi dhansak, to moong dal dhoklas and cheelas, the more you indulge in this cheapest form of protein the better. Dress it up, sizzle it, grind it to perfection, simmer it to luxury, or soak it into a salad, DALS THE WAY TO GO!

DalsTo mark World Water Day, I’m here with Tata I-Shakti dals to serve you three easy dal recipes that require minimum water to wash since they are unpolished. They cook faster too. The recipes use very little water in ingredients. One simple salad inspired by a typical Koshambri a dear friend made a few months ago, though his was with carrots, radish and peanuts. DAL 3 ways with Tata I-ShaktiThe bhune masale wali masoor dal is an old UP favourite which has been stepped up using seasonal greens, rocket in this case, as I have it growing in abundance. The peppery leaves add interesting flavour to it, and reduces the requirement for extra water. The third is a really quick coconut based dal chutney that I learnt when I was in Bangalore recently.

DalsAll these recipes are dal based, so naturally protein and fibre rich. With their high fibre content, pulses lower cholesterol levels and protect the heart. They are also an important source of iron and vitamin B in a vegetarian diet.  Pulses are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fibre. According to the World Health Organisation, dals are a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

DalsDo you have a favourite way of doing dal? I’d love to know.

[print_this]Recipe: Dal Koshambri / Moong Dal Carrot & Cucumber Salad
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Summary: A light summery salad that is protein and fibre rich. Pomegranate adds to the appeal. Soak the dals in about 2 cups of water, then drain and use the water to cook rice in, knead dough with, or just drink it up! No cooking, means less water!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

  • 3/4 cup TATA I-Shakti Chana Dal and 1/4  TATA I-Shakti Moong Dal soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 small English cucumbers, chopped fine {I leave the skin on
  • 1/4 coconut, grated
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate kernels
  • 2-3 green chilies, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Tempering
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp
  • A generous pinch of asafoetida
  • 2-3 sprigs of curry leaves


  1. Place all ingredients except lime juice in a large bowl. Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. To temper
  3. Heat oil in a small saucepan. When hot throw in mustard seeds, followed by urad dal. When they splutter add the hing and curry leaves. Fry over medium low until the leaves are crisp. Pour over the salad. Serve immediately.


[print_this]Recipe: Spicy Kadele Bele Chutney / Chana Dal Chutney
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Summary: A spicy and tangy dal based chutney which is  power house of energy and taste. The play of flavours is wonderful. The dal is cooked dry,a dnthe chutney uses only minimal water by way of the soaked tamarind.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

  • 5 tsp TATA I-Shakti Chana Dal
  • 3-4 dry red chilies {as per taste}
  • 3-4 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tsp methi seeds
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1 small ball tamarind, soaked in 3/4 cup water
  • Tempering / tadka
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • pinch hing
  • 2-3 whole red chilies
  • 5-6 curry leaves


  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom wok. Add the chana dal, red chilies, curry leaves, hing and methi seeds. Roast over low heat until the dal turns a light pink. Do not brown.
  2. Grind to a coarse powder {or a consistency you would like}
  3.  Squeeze and strain the tamarind. Add the coconut and tamarind water to the ground chana dal and mix well. Season with salt.
  4. To Temper
  5. Heat oil in a small saucepan. When hot throw in mustard seeds, followed  by the hing and curry leaves. Fry over medium low until the leaves are crisp. Add red chilies and turn off heat. Pour over the chutney.
  6. Serve with idli, dosa or serve with fresh boiled rice.


[print_this]Recipe: Sabut Masoor Aur Hare Patte ki Dal / Whole Masoor Dal with Rocket
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Summary: A traditional protein and fibre rich dal gets a makeover with the addition of winter greens. The dal uses less water as it takes moisture from the greens, and also from yogurt. This dal is pure comfort

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cup masoor chilka, soaked for an hour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp virgin coconut oil }{or oil, ghee of your choice}
  • Pinch hing
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/4 tsp haldi powder
  • 1 tsp dhania powder
  • 2 small tomatoes chopped
  • 2 green chillies chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups rocket greens {or baby mustard greens, spinach etc}, chopped
  • 1/2 cup full fat yogurt {or low fat}, whisked
  • 1 tsp ghee


  1. Heat oil in pressure cooker. Add hing, then chopped onions. Fry onions until golden brown.
  2. Add ginger garlic pastes and green chilies. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add dry masalas, sauté for 30 seconds.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté for 5-7 minutes over high heat until they release oil.
  4. Now add the greens and sauté for 2 minutes until wilted. Add the soaked dal with water, add salt to taste and cook under pressure until done, for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Let it sit as is for at least 15-20 minutes cooking in its own steam. Open and check if dal is soft, else cook under pressure for another 5-7 minutes. Mash some dal with the back f a spoon to give the dal a creamy consistency.
  6. Stir through whisked yogurt and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you like a tangy dal, squeeze in half a lime before serving.
  8. Top with a spoon of ghee and serve over hot rice, or with chapatis, parathas etc.


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