Five Easy, Healthy, Flavorful Indian Recipes

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on April 14, 2011

My dad is an amazing cook. We go there for dinner almost every week, mainly because it’s fun to hang out with my dad but also because I get to eat his gourmet meals. The thing with Indian cooking is it can go one of two ways:

  1. Really tasty, but super oily and full of fat (curries are made with butter, ghee, oil, cream, etc.) or
  2. Really tasty, with inventive ingredients and substituting spices for the oil – making it healthy and flavorful

The dinners I grew up with at home were more like option #2 above. My dad can make a “sabji” or “bhaji” (vegetable Indian dish) out of pretty much any veggie. It’s awesome. We have “Butternut Squash” sabji, “Collard Greens” sabji, “Beets and Beet Greens” sabji–the list goes on and on. It’s a great way to add a twist on a regular vegetable dish, and it’s not something you’d traditionally get in Indian Cooking. So these recipes are straight from my dad, and represent what I think is Indian Home Cooking at it’s best: easy to prepare, really nutritious and good for you, but so flavorful you keep going back for seconds, and thirds, and fourths… you get the picture.

Here are five easy and healthy Indian recipes, straight from my dad’s kitchen:

Moong and Toor Daal, Beans and Carrots Sabji, Whole Moong Daal, Zucchini Sabji, and Spelt Rotis (yes – that’s right – spelt!). The only note on these recipes is my dad’s “measurements” are super old-school — in that, there aren’t any. What I’ve found works well is to just play around with the spices and taste as you go. The recipes are really easy so you can’t totally mess them up.

Recipe #1 Moong and Toor Daal

The ingredients: 1 Tbsp EVOO, 1/4 cup Moong and 1/4 cup Toor Daal, equal parts Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds and Turmeric; a pinch of Hing (asafetida), a pinch of Cayenne pepper, Salt & Brown sugar (gud) to taste, 3-4 pieces Dried kokam fruit (you can get this at the Indian store, or try dried sour plums), Cilantro

The directions: Cook the daal in the pressure cooker. Once the daal is done, fry the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric and hing in 1 Tbsp EVOO. Put the spice mixture into the daal and stir until combined. Add the cayenne, salt, brown sugar and kokam fruit and heat through. Sprinkle cilantro in at the end

Recipe #2: Blue Lake Beans & Carrot Sabji

The ingredients: 1 Tbsp EVOO, 1 pound of Blue Lake Beans chopped, 1 Carrot chopped, equal parts Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds and Hing (asafoetida); Turmeric, pinch of Cayenne pepper, 1/8 cup Urad dal, Salt & Brown sugar (gud) to taste, Masala (curry powder), Cilantro

The directions: Fry the spices (mustard seeds, cumin, hing, turmeric, urad daal) over medium heat in 1 Tbsp EVOO for about 1 minute. Add the vegetables and stir until combined. Cook, covered for 10-15 min until the vegetables are cooked through and the spices have been fully absorbed. Stir in cayenne, salt, brown sugar, and masala. Top with Cilantro and serve.

Recipe #3: Whole Moong Daal


The ingredients: 1 Tbsp EVOO, 1/2 cup Whole Moong Daal, equal parts Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds & Hing (asafetida); Turmeric, pinch of Cayenne pepper, Salt, Masala (Curry Powder) & Brown sugar (gud) to taste, 3-4 pieces Dried kokam fruit (you can get this at the Indian store, or try dried sour plums), Cilantro

The directions: Cook the daal in the pressure cooker. Once the daal is done, fry the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric and hing in 1 Tbsp EVOO. Put the spice mixture into the daal and stir until combined. Add the cayenne, salt, masala, brown sugar and kokam fruit and heat through. Sprinkle cilantro in at the end

Recipe #4: Zucchini Sabji

The ingredients: 6-8 Zucchini chopped, 1 Carrot chopped, equal parts Mustard seed, Cumin seeds & Hing (asafoetida), Turmeric, 1 Serrano pepper cut in half, Salt & Coriander powder to taste, Cilantro

The directions: Fry the spices & serrano pepper over medium heat in 1 Tbsp EVOO for about 1 minute. Add the vegetables and stir until combined. Cook, covered for 10-15 min until the vegetables are cooked through and the spices have been fully absorbed. Stir in salt. Top with Cilantro and serve.

Recipe #5: Spelt Rotis/Chapatis

The ingredients: 5 parts Spelt flour to 1 part Quinoa flour, Water (enough to form into a sticky dough – about 1/3 of the amount of dough) very small quantity of EVOO

The directions: Combine all ingredients to make the roti dough.  If you have a gas stove, hold the roti/chapati over a medium flame and it will puff up immediately. Turn quickly to flame-bake the other side. Do this several times, taking care that the edges are well cooked. Otherwise you can preheat a cast-iron tawa over medium heat. Place the rolled dough on the palm of one hand and flip it over on to the tawa. When the color changes on the top and bubbles appear, turn it over. When both sides are done, use kitchen tongs (chimta) to remove the roti from the skillet.

These rotis are soft and fluffy – you’d never guess that it’s unleavened bread. When I was growing up, it was common for us to have four out of five of these dishes for dinner: 2 sabjis, one daal and the rotis. This is completely my version of comfort food: warming, nutritious, delicious, and filled with nostalgic memories of dinners at home.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanette April 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm

You are so lucky to have a dad that can cook so well. My dad is also a good cook and I hope my boys will eventually enjoy cooking as much as I do. These healthy Indian recipes sound wonderful – thanks for sharing them!

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lemonsandanchovies April 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm

That’s one of the things I like about Indian cuisine–vegetables that would otherwise be bland are turned into such flavorful dishes. Thanks for these great ideas. :-)

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Nami @ Just One Cookbook April 15, 2011 at 1:59 am

I love Chapatis! I asked my very close Indian neighbor friend how to make this, but she just makes it without recipe that I was dying to know how to make! Thanks for posting this recipe… so looking forward to trying this soon!

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torviewtoronto April 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm

delicious dishes
roti with that combination of flour i haven’t made looks delicious healthy
lovely pictures

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Arushi April 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm

The Zucchini sabji looks so yummy! We make a similar one with mushrooms in it!

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healthy foods blog June 10, 2011 at 6:06 am

My family love to cook well and yummy too.
So we enjoy different food daily.
like your post,its pretty good your dad love cooking.

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Manju September 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Love your blog!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 21, 2013 at 8:59 am

Thank you!!

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Jamie November 26, 2013 at 11:39 am

I just made the moong and toor daal. Delicious, hearty, inexpensive, and now my house smells a little bit like heaven.I will be trying the rest of the recipes soon. Thank you!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 26, 2013 at 8:31 pm

That’s wonderful!! Thanks for letting me know Jamie – I’m sure you will love the rest of the recipes! :)

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Brandi March 25, 2014 at 11:55 am

All of your recipes look so yummy! I can’t wait to try some of them. Do you happen to have the nutritional facts for the Blue Lake Beans & Carrot Sabji? Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 30, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Thanks Brandi! Here is the nutritional info for the Blue Lake Beans and Carrot Sabji – the ENTIRE recipe has: 230 Calories, 14.1g Fat (2g Saturated), 89.6mg Sodium (more if you add more salt to taste), 22.8g Carbs, 10g Fiber, 11.3g Sugars, 4.7g Protein. Hope that helps!

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