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Black Bean Mango Quesadilla

A quesadilla is a Mexican dish made of tortilla filled with a mixture of vegetables, cheese and seasonings. It is then folded in half and cooked until the cheese melts. They are served with guacamole, salsa or dips. The filling usually contains a bean, vegetables and cheese. Quesadillas are apt for a quick dinner or lunch as they take only 15-20 minutes to make.

Though it's not mango season, I did find some mangoes in our local market. The sweetness from the mango balances the heat from the japalenos while the beans and avocado add a creamy texture. I served them with a sour cream dip, you can also serve with a simple tomato salsa or guacamole.


{ Quesadilla with black beans, mango, avocado and 3 cheese-blend }
Serves 3-4


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cup mango (1 large mango), cut into cubes
½ avocado, cut into cubes
1 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
½ red onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped red capsicum
1-2 jalapeno, finely chopped
½ tsp cumin powder
2 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheese
4 10-inch tortillas


1. Heat a small pan and add  oil. Add garlic and fry for few seconds. Then add onion, capsicum and saute for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool down a little bit.

2. In a large bowl, combine mango, beans, avocado, onion-capsicum mixture, japaleno, cumin powder, lemon juice, coriander leaves, salt and pepper.

3. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Lightly grease the pan with little oil and place a tortilla on it.

4. Sprinkle cheese on one half  of the tortilla and top with 2-3 heaped tablespoons of the mango bean mixture. Fold the other half over the filling and lightly brush the top with oil.

5. Cook the tortilla until its lightly toasted and the cheese melts. Flip and cook the other side until it is crispy and golden. Cut into halves.

Serving Suggestion ~ sour cream dip, tomato salsa or guacamole.

Notes and Tips
  • You can try with kidney beans too if you don't have black beans.
  • Do not cook them in high heat and do not overstuff the tortillas.

Broccoli Capsicum Masala

One of my readers requested me to post some simple and quick recipes using broccoli. Though I regularly make curries and other dishes with broccoli, I never got a chance to click and blog here. So I'm planning to post some healthy and easy recipes with broccoli here. 

You must be aware that broccoli is a powerhouse of nutrients. It is is a good source of fibers, vitamins and phyto-nutrients. A regular serve of broccoli lowers the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, prevents digestive problems, constipation and boosts the immune system.

Today I'm posting a easy and quick sabzi (dry curry) with broccoli and capsicum that goes well with chapathi / phulka or with rice and dal. I have used yellow and red color capsicums to make it look colorful, but you can use any color capsicum. Let's see how to make this simple and delicious broccoli capsicum masala.


{ Indian style curry with broccoli, capsicum and spices }
Serves 2-3


1 medium-sized broccoli
½ red capsicum, sliced
½ yellow capsicum, sliced
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 large tomato, sliced thinly
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 ½ tsp coriander powder
¾ tsp red chilly powder
½ tsp pepper powder
¼ tsp garam masala
1 tbsp kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds / jeera
½ tsp fennel seeds / sombu / saunf
¼ tsp asafoetida / hing
Salt to taste


1. Cut the broccoli into medium sized florets. Put them in hot water in 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan/kadai and add cumin seeds, fennel seeds and asafoetida. Add onion, curry leaves and fry till the onions turn lightly golden.

3. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute. Then add tomatoes and fry until they become soft and mushy.

4. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilly powder, pepper powder, garam masala, kasurmi methi, 1 tbsp water and fry for 1-2 minutes.

5. Add broccoli, capsicum, salt and mix well. Cover and cook until the broccoli and capsicum is cooked. Open and fry for another 1-2 minutes.

Notes and Tips
  • Make sure that the broccoli and capsicum are not overcooked. They must still retain some of the crunchiness.
  • Adjust the amount of red chilly powder according to your spice preference.

Jewish Apple Cake

For this month's Home Baker's Challenge, we were free to choose any recipe from the previous challenges. I got so confused as there were so many good recipes that I wanted to bake. After long deliberation, I chose this apple cake which was picked by Priya of Cook like Priya for the Christmas theme.

Jewish apple cake is traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year to evoke a sweet new year. According to Jewish dietary laws, dairy and meat cannot be consumed at the same time, so vegetable oil and orange juice is used in the cake in place of butter and milk. This cake combines the classic combination of apples and cinnamon in a soft and spongy cake. Once the cake is baked, the apple pieces become soft and juicy.


{ Soft and moist cake layered with cinnamon flavored apples }
Recipe Source ~ All Recipes
Makes a 10" bundt cake


4 apples
2 ½ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ cup sugar (white or brown)

For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour / maida
½ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup applesauce
4 eggs
¼ cup orange juice
2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 170° C | 350° F. Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt or tube pan.

2. Cut the apple into small cubes and transfer to a bowl. Add cinnamon powder and sugar. Toss well and set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg and sugars until light and fluffy. Add orange juice, vegetable oil, applesauce, vanilla extract and beat again.

4. Add the flour in 2 parts and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Fold the mixture gently using a spatula.

5. Pour ⅓rd of the batter into the prepared pan and top with chopped apples. Pour ⅓rd batter over the apples and top again with apples. Pour the remaining batter and layer the remaining apples.

6. Bake for 70-90 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack.

Notes and Tips
  • I added 3 different variety of apples in this recipe. I used granny smith, pink lady and red delicious.
  • If you don't have applesauce, you can add 1 cup oil instead of oil and applesauce as in the original recipe.
  • Since I was short of white sugar, I used a mix of white and brown sugar in the recipe. You can use either white or brown sugar in the recipe.
  • Oven timings may vary, so keep checking the cake after 60 minutes.

Mint Pulao | Pudina Pulao

Whenever I have limited time to pack a lunch or prepare a quick meal, I prefer pulao and variety rice recipes. They are healthy and filling and also convenient for working women and bachelors. If you do most of the prep work in advance, like cutting the vegetables or cleaning the leaves, you can prepare them quickly in the morning rush.

Mint or pudina pulao is one such simple and refreshing one pot meal. The rice is induced with a flavor of mint leaves and whole spices, making the pulao very aromatic and flavorful. It is perfect to pack for lunch boxes for kids and adults, along with raita and any vegetable stir-fry to make a complete meal. Let's see how to make this easy and delicious mint / pudina pulao.


{ Rice cooked with mint leaves and flavored with whole spices }
Serves 2-3


1 cup basmati rice
1 large onion, sliced
Pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste

To grind:
1 cup mint leaves, tightly packed
¼ cup coriander leaves, tightly packed
4-5 green chillies
3 garlic cloves
½ inch ginger
2 tbsp grated coconut
¼ tsp fennel seeds / sombu / saunf
2 tsp lemon juice

For the tempering (tadka):
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp ghee
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
4 cloves
1 cardamom


1. Wash rice and soak it in water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Grind mint leaves, coriander leaves, green chillies, ginger, garlic, coconut, fennel and lemon juice to a smooth paste adding very little water.

3. In a pressure cooker, heat oil and ghee. Add cinnamon, bay leaf, star anise, cloves and cardamom. Fry for few seconds.

4. Then add onions and fry until they become soft. Add the ground paste, turmeric powder and fry for 3-4 minutes.

5. Add rice, 1½ cup water, salt and gently combine everything. Pressure cook for 1 whistle and then turn the heat to low and cook for 5-6 minutes.

6. Once the pressure subsides completely, open and gently fluff the rice with a fork.

Notes and Tips
  • You can also cook this in an open pan. To cook in pan, follow steps 1-4. Add rice, water, salt and gently mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover and cook until rice is done.
  • You can also use leftover rice in this recipe. After frying the mint paste, add the rice, salt and gently combine everything.
  • Adjust the quantity of green chillies according to your spice preference.

Tomato Dal Fry

Dal fry is a very popular lentil recipe, made with a single or combination of lentils like toor dal, chana dal, moong dal and masoor dal. For making dal fry, the lentils are first pressure cooked and then combined with a mixture of onion, tomato, garlic, ginger and spices sauteed in ghee. It is usually served with roti/phulka, jeera rice and plain rice.

This tomato dal fry is a slight variation of our regular dal fry. Tomatoes and lentils are cooked together and onion, ginger, garlic and spices are sauteed in butter instead of ghee. I make this dal often for guests and parties, as it takes very less time to put together and the butter adds a rich flavor and aroma to the dal. Serve this dal with phulkas or rice.


{ Tomato and mixed lentils with ginger, garlic, onion and spices }
Serves 3


For the dal:
½ cup masoor dal
¼ cup toor dal
¼ cup chana dal
2 large tomato, chopped
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 ½ cup water

For the masala:
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds / jeera
Pinch of asafoetida / hing
2-3 dry red chillies
1 inch cinnamon stick
3-4 garlic cloves, grated
1 inch ginger, grated
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 small-sized onion, finely chopped
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves to garnish


1. Wash the 3 dals together and add tomatoes, turmeric powder, salt and water. Pressure cook for 3 whistles or until soft. Set aside.

2. In a kadai, heat oil and butter. Add mustard seeds and when it crackles add red chillies, asafoetida, cinnamon and jeera.

3. Add garlic, ginger and green chillies and fry in low heat for a minute. Then turn the heat to medium and add onion. Fry till onions turn light golden.

4. Add garam masala, kasuri methi, salt and give a mix. Add the cooked dal and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add chopped coriander leaves.

Notes and Tips
  • I hav used butter and oil here but you can substitute with ghee and oil or just use oil alone.
  • The dal is not very spicy. If you want little spicy dal, add more green chillies or red chilly powder.
  •  I like my dal fry with medium thick consistency. If you want thinner dal, add water after adding the dal and adjust the consistency.


For this month's International Food challenge as we are exploring Australian cuisine. This cuisine is strongly influenced by culinary tastes of British and Irish traditions and immigrant settlers. Agriculture is a significant part of the country's economy and so fresh produce is available in abundance. This month's host Saraswathi of Sara's Kitchen has chosen some iconic Australian food like Anzac biscuits, lamingtons and damper, and I made lamingtons for the challenge.

Lamingtons are believed to be originated from Australia and there are many interesting stories behind the origin of this cake. Lamingtons are considered the national cake of Australia. A lamington is made of sponge cake pieces coated in a layer of chocolate icing and rolled in desiccated coconut. Lamingtons can also be split and filled with jam and cream in the center. Serve these lamingtons with tea or coffee!


{ Australian dessert made of sponge cake coated with chocolate and rolled in coconut }
Recipe Source ~ The Australian Women's Weekly
Yields 20 pieces


For the cake:
3 eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornflour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp vanilla extract
25g soft butter, chopped
⅓ cup boiling water

For the chocolate icing:
3 ½ cup  icing sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
30g butter, softened
½ cup milk

For rolling:
3 cups desiccated coconut


To make cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C | 400°F. Grease a 20cm x 30cm pan and line with baking paper.

2. Sift the all-purpose flour, cornflour and baking powder together three times. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and beat them with an electric mixer until pale in color.

4. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture becomes thick and forms thick ribbons when the beater is lifted.

5. Add vanilla and beat for few seconds. Then add flour mixture and gently fold using a spatula or metal spoon.

6. Combine butter and boiling water in a small heatproof bowl. Fold this gently into the prepared batter.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until sponge springs back when touched lightly in the center. Cool the cake completely.

8. Cut the sides from the cake and then cut them into square or rectangle pieces.

To make chocolate icing:

1. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a large heatproof bowl. Then add the butter and milk. Place this over a saucepan of simmering water.

2. Mix until icing is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Place desiccated coconut in a shallow bowl.

3. Using 2 forks, dip each cake piece in the icing. Tap the forks on the edge of the bowl to remove excess icing.

4. Roll the cake gently in coconut. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to set.

Notes and Tips
  • The cake is easier to handle if it is made a day ahead or refrigerated for several hours. You can also freeze them for 1-2 hours.
  • Folding the flour and butter gently is important for a soft sponge cake. If you mix a lot, the cake will turn out hard and dense.
  • If the icing becomes too thick, place it over simmering water or reheat gently with a little more milk.

Vegetable Semiya Upma | Vermicelli Upma

Upma is one of the easiest and quickest breakfast recipe. Not only for breakfast, you can make it for dinner or as a evening snack too. There are different varieties of upma and the most regularly made upma in majority of homes is rava (suji) upma. So if you are bored of the rava upma, try this vegetable semiya upma for a change.

Semiya / vermicelli upma is very healthy upma loaded with vegetables, making it a wholesome and filling breakfast. Kids will love this upma with some sugar sprinkled on top. You can pack this for lunchbox too. It can be had by itself or serve with coconut chutney or pickle. Let's see how to make this simple yet delicious vegetable semiya upma.


{ Vermicelli upma with mixed vegetables }
Serves 2-3


1 cup semiya / vermicelli
2 cup water
1 big onion, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped (optional)
1 green chilly, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
5-6 green beans, chopped
¼ cup green peas
2 sprigs coriander leaves, chopped
Salt to taste

For the tempering:
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
¾ tsp split urad dal
1 dry red chilly, broken
Pinch of asafoetida / hing
Few curry leaves


1. In a pan dry roast the vermicelli over low- medium flame till its turns golden color. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

2. In the same pan heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add urad dal, red chilly, asafoetida, curry leaves and fry till dal turns golden.

3. Then add onion, green chilly and fry till the onions become soft. Add carrot, beans, green peas and salt. Fry for 3-4 minutes.

4. Then add tomato and fry for a minute. Then add water and bring to boil. Add the roasted vermicelli and quickly mix it.

5. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook until the vermicelli is soft and all the water evaporates, around 6-7 minutes.

6. Cook uncovered for 1-2 minutes, then add coriander leaves and mix. Remove from heat.

Notes and Tips
  • Vermicelli should be properly roasted otherwise upma will become sticky and mushy.
  • You can add other vegetables like potato, cauliflower and capsicum.
  • Adding tomato is optional. If you want a bit of tangy flavor, you can squeeze some lemon at the end.

Blueberry Orange Smoothie

It's been a while since I posted a smoothie recipe on my blog. I love smoothies, as they are so easy and quick to put together and a healthy way to kick start the day. You don't really need to measure out the ingredients, just add fruits or vegetables you like with milk or yogurt. Pair with a toast or sandwich to make a filling breakfast.

I had a pack of blueberries and orange lying, so thought to give this combination a try. The smoothie turned out really good with a refreshing flavor. This naturally sweet blueberry orange smoothie is high in antioxidants and vitamin C. One glass of this high fiber smoothie gets you off to a good start in the morning and also meets your daily fruit quota. Also check out this blueberry banana smoothie, another simple and nutritious smoothie.


{ Blueberry smoothie with orange juice and banana-flavored greek yogurt }
Serves 2


1 cup blueberry, fresh or frozen
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
½ cup banana-flavored low fat greek yogurt
¼ tsp vanilla essence


Add all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, thin it out adding little more orange juice or low-fat milk.

Notes and Tips
  • You can also use plain greek yogurt and add 2-3 banana slices to get a light banana flavor.
  • Instead of yogurt, you can add ½ cup milk. In this case, add a small banana for thickening the smoothie.