July 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Falafel is a favorite food in my house. Once a week, we go to Pita House in our area and enjoy it very much. Their dessert, as everyone knows, is Baklava.  

Ever since I began blogging my recipes, one entry I wanted to write about was Baklava. It is a flaky Mediterranean, Greek pastry made from phyllo dough which is amazingly good.  It is easy to make, looks good and tastes very good on top of it.  I was able to make a batch this week so I am sharing this recipe with my readers.  It will make you feel like a true chef!

This recipe is courtesy of my good friend Avani Patel.


Cooking Difficulty Level: Medium
Recipe Type: Vegan
Preparation Time: 40 Minutes
Cooking Time: 35 Minutes


1    Package/Lb. Phyllo Pastry Sheets
1    Cup Walnuts, coarse & ground
1    Cup Pistachios, coarse & ground
1    Cup Almond, coarse & ground
3-4 TBsp Sugar (or to taste)
1    TBsp Cinnamon
1-2 Sticks Butter (unsalted or as desired)
Honey (can substitute with syrup recipe)
1    Brush to spread butter/syrup

Ingredients for Sugar Syrup (Honey Substitute) Recipe Below:

2    Cups Water
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
10    Pieces Cloves
1    Tsp Lemon Juice

How to Prepare Baklava:
Frozen phyllo sheets can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight in their package.  Phyllo sheets are very delicate and tend to dry quickly, so do not open the package until all other ingredients are assembled and ready to use.  Keep the phyllo sheets covered at all times so they do not dry out.  When you're ready, remove them from their package and try your best to fit them into a baking sheet.  Phyllo sheets can be cut easily to fit into a pan. Follow the directions on the box to make it easy, otherwise use a 9"x 14" pan.  I prefer shallow cookie sheet over a deep cake pan.  

1. Mix all nuts, cinnamon and sugar together for filling and set aside.
2. As shown in the picture, lay phyllo dough on baking sheet and use a brush to cover each layer evenly with melted butter so the pastry does not dry out. 
3. Layer four to five pasty sheets on top of one another.

Cover with Melted Butter

4. Now layer very lightly and evenly the mixture of the nuts, cinnamon and sugar on the top of the four to five pastry sheets. Then again, start layering 4-5 sheets on top of the nut mixture, covering each sheet very well with butter.  Then again, add another layer of nut mixture.

Cover with Nuts.

5. Continue by adding the next layers of phyllo sheets on top of the nut mixture, each sheet brushed with butter. 

Press the Cover Sheets gently.

Cover Pastry Sheets with Butter.

6. Use all of the sheets and layer after layer cover with butter.
7. Once all sheets are used, cut diagonally and then straight lengthwise to make diamond shapes.

8. The next step is to bake it in the oven for 30-35 minutes at 300º until golden brown, crispy and flaky. 
9. Once out of the oven, add honey in the slit areas, covering all over. Cover with honey generously if you like it very sweet or according to your taste. I cover lightly so that it is flaky instead of sticky.

Ready Baklava smothered in honey 

Cut and Ready


Baklava stays good for two weeks without refrigeration.

  • I would highly recommend using a pan large enough to fit the pastry sheets, otherwise they may burn.
  • For vegan recipe, or for those who do not use honey, you can use sugar syrup instead (recipe below).

How to Prepare Sugar Syrup:
  1. Boil water and sugar and cloves for at least 15 minutes until it becomes a thick syrup. 
  2. Remove cloves and add few drops of lemon juice. 
  3. Cool and spread syrup over pastry.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment! I love to hear from my readers!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mango Milkshake

Mango is the king  of the fruits.  In the heat of the summer, mangoes are good for the body.  Mangoes have strong anti-oxidants, high iron content and they neutralize free radicals.  A one cup serving of mangoes is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, fiber, carotene and beta-carotene.  In India we eat raw mangoes to ward off heat stroke. There are many different varieties.  Here is a quick recipe for Mango Milkshakes.

Cooking Difficulty Level: Easy
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Recipe Type: For Vegan use Soy Milk
Serves: 2

1    Cup Mango pulp (you can use slices or found
in cans in Indian stores)
1    Cup Milk of your choice
2    Tsp Sugar according to taste
4-5 Drops Mango essence (optional)

How to Prepare:
  1. Blend all ingredients thoroughly with a hand blender.
  2. Chill and serve.
This is always available in Indian restaurant.

This recipe can be used for Mango Lassi by substituting milk with yogurt.  Lassi is very popular all over India.

Serving Size: Entire Recipe (2 Servings)

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment! I love to hear from my readers!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Garlic & Sesame Spinach

Photo courtesy of Food Network

Toss Spinach in hot, garlicky oil for a cleansing and delicious dish.

Cooking Difficulty Level: Easy
Cooking Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Serves: 4


Olive Oil
Garlic, pressed
Spinach Leaves
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Sesame Seeds

How to Prepare:
  1. Warm oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add garlic and stir until lightly browned, about 45 seconds. 
  3. Add spinach (do in two batches if necessary) and toss until just wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. 
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

You can add sliced cherry tomatoes for added color and freshness.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment!  I love to hear from my readers!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kadai Spinach

Spinach has the goodness of fresh vegetables and is one of my favorites. Baby spinach leaves are easy to cook to make a quick and simple dish that is ready in minutes. A variety of spinach dishes can be served with Indian breads and rice dishes.

The easiest way to make this dish is using a kadai.  Kadai is the Indian name for a flat open iron skillet. Kadai is used very frequently in Indian cooking just as the Chinese use their wok. It is commonly believed that the iron in the skillet enhances the nutritional value of spinach.

Cooking Difficulty Level: Easy
Cooking Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Serves: 2-4


1    Package Baby Spinach, washed, chopped & drained
1    Medium Onion, cut & chopped
Salt to taste
2    TBsp Olive Oil
2    TBsp Tomato Paste
1/4 Tsp Chili Powder
1/4 Tsp Turmeric
2    Tsp Coriander & Cumin Powder
Pinch Baking Powder

How to Prepare:
  1. In a wok or a pan add oil on medium heat.  Add crushed garlic and onions and fry them until they are soft and tender.
  2. Add spinach and spices, baking powder and salt. Sauté spinach for 3-4 minutes. Spinach will be tender and change color as it releases water.
  3. Add tomato paste and mix well for 2-3 minutes.
  • Heavy cream can be added for a very rich taste. 
  • For another variation, peas can be added. 
  • If it is too watery, 1-2 tsp of plain flour can be added to soak up the extra water.