Spinach Shakshuka

spniachshakshukaI have always been a huge fan of one pot meals and that was the main reasons I fell in love with the concept of Shakshuka.  I know whenever I say “Shakshuka” I either get a blank stare or a weird look that usually makes me think I have suddenly grown some antlers on my head.

So bear with me, here is some history about this beautiful and satisfying dish:  Shakshuka is a middle-eastern recipe, believed to have started from either Tunisia or Libya.  It is a wondrous meal consisting of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin.

What I love about this dish is that it is a blank canvas. I can choose to make it super simple or very complex.  Some mornings when I have left over vegetables in the fridge, I can throw whatever  I have to use as soon as possible and braise my eggs in it. So, you see, its really a very adaptable and flexible meal that could be vegetarian or you add some ground beef/chicken or whatever protein you like. It is already gluten free (you can use gluten free bread to eat it or salad) and dairy free.


1 small onion
1  garlic clove
a bag of baby spinach
2-3 plum tomatoes
Half teasp of cumin seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
1 or half Jalapeno pepper (optional)
4-5 eggs


I started with sautéing an onion in a little olive oil for a couple minutes then added a chopped garlic clove and tomatoes, sauté for a couple minutes more and added spinach and cover with lid to let it wilt for a minute or two.  Add Cumin seeds or quarter sp of cumin powder and salt/pepper/Jalapeno according to your taste.  Make small indentions or holes for about 4-5 eggs and leave a small space between each egg.  Add eggs in each indentation and sprinkle salt and pepper on top of egg (Optional) and let it cook on low flame covered until eggs appear to be set upon opening the lid.  At this point if you like you can transfer your oven safe pan under the broiler for a some time until the eggs starts to look set and not liquid.  Sprinkle some chopped herbs to dress it up and enjoy with your favorite bread.  Yum!! 😋


Chicken Curry With Coconut Milk

*4 pieces of Chicken Breast cut in cubes or 4 lbs leg/thigh meat (if you like)
*1 can of regular (15oz) coconut milk
*1 Tablespoon Butter
*2-3 Tablespoons of Extra virgin Olive OilImage
*1 chopped Medium/large size yellow Onion
*1 Clove Garlic (Crushed) or use quarter Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
*half inch piece of fresh Ginger (Crushed) or use quarter teaspoon of Ginger powder
*2-3 Table spoons of Tomato Paste
*1Table spoon Sea Salt
*1 tea spoon Cumin Powder
*3/4 tea spoon Turmeric Powder
*1 tea spoon Red chilli powder (You can use a half tea spoon each of cayenne and paprika instead)
*1 tea spoon of Coriander Powder
*1/4 teaspoon of course or table grind black pepper

Omit the black pepper if you don’t like it, but I find each pepper adds a distinct and a different note of flavor. It hits a different spot on the tongue. Plus, do you know that when you add black pepper along with turmeric and oil, you make anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric bio-available for your body?

Saute onions in your mix of butter and olive oil (omit butter if you’re making it dairy-free, but know that adding butter/ghee brings saturated fat that makes your olive oil stable to the high heat) until the onions turns golden brown in color.  Saute ginger and garlic if using crushed otherwise add them with the rest of spices.  Add all dry powdered spices now and let them sautee with onions up to a minute or until they release their aroma (it’s called blooming the spices so they make a smooth paste in your curry rather than being chalky and powdery). Keep on stirring it.  *Note: Don’t let them over cook for more than a minute as you might burn them.
Add chicken and saute with your spices and onion mix for a minute or two. Add a quarter to half cup of water if it seems to dry then cover the pan. Let the chicken cook for 15-20 minutes.
After the  chicken is almost tender, it’s time to add tomato paste.  Add tomato paste according to your desired color or consistency.  I added 3 table spoons and hence got a rich orange color after adding coconut milk but two might be sufficient if you like light pale orange and thinner consistency. Cover the pot for 2-4 minutes more until tomato paste cooks and mixes with the rest of the ingredients in synergy.
Last but not the least, it’s time to add the coconut milk. Uncover the curry and add the coconut milk. Mix and let it simmer for a couple minutes more. Serve it on a bed of basmati rice and enjoy.

Aromatic Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa PilafIngredients:
*One chopped medium size Onion
*One chopped small Garlic Clove
*2-3 chopped medium size roma tomatoes
*Handful of chopped parsley/cilantro (whatever you have on hand)
*Half teaspoon of cumin seeds
*Half cup of Olive oil or coconut oil or butter
*One levelled teaspoon of sea salt
*half teaspoon of Red chilli powder
*Half teaspoon of Coriander powder
*Half teaspoon of Cumin Powder
*Quarter teaspoon of Turmeric Powder
*One chopped green chilli (Serrano, jalapeño) (its optional, if you don’t like spicy then omit it)
*one packet of 12oz Quinoa or 1.5 cups of dry Quinoa

Sauté onions in your choice of oil/fat until they turn slight pink then add cumin seeds and cook for a minute or two, add garlic  & tomatoes and let it cook for a minute more.  Add all the dry powder spices like salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric powder and dry herbs such as parsley/ cilantro (Only put dry herbs at this point, if you’re using fresh cilantro/parsley then add it along with green chillies towards the end of cooking process).   Add quinoa and mix it well with all the other ingredients and add about a cup of water or until all the quinoa is at the water level.  Let it all boil, once it starts boiling, cover the pot with lid and turn the heat down to medium to low for about 5 minutes.  Add fresh herbs (if you like) and fresh green chillies (skip if you don’t like spicy food), mix and lower the heat down to simmer for 5 more minutes.  After 5 more minutes, turn the heat off and DO NOT OPEN THE LID at this point, otherwise all the beautiful steam and aroma will escape from the pot, leave the pot alone for 5-10 minutes and then open and serve.

(Rinsing and soaking the Quinoa is optional, its always better to rinse and soak as it maximizes its nutrients but when in a pinch I skip this process 🙂

Traditional Toor Dal (also known as Pigeon Peas Lentils)

This particular recipe reminds me of my childhood and the days when I used to come back from school starving and looking for food.  I was always pleased by the aromatic fragrance coming from the kitchen.  I could always conspicuously tell that it was my favorite Toor dal made with the traditional redolent Tarka (Indian seasoning).  It’s a simple recipe with not much prep involved, and if you can soak your lentils first in water for at least 15-20 minutes before cooking, it could cut the cooking time into almost half. Moreover, soaking lentils or grains maximizes nutrients. Basically, soaking renders the nutrients in grains to be more digestible and easily assimilated by our bodies.  Use of a pressure cooker is optional, but if you have one, using it would cut down to only 10-15 minutes of cooking time. Otherwise, it generally takes about 25-45 minutes on a stove top.
(Note: If using a pressure cooker, put a table spoon of olive oil or butter as it helps to reduce the foam from rising up, keep the skins of the lentils popping off, and clogging up the vent tubes of the pressure cooker).

Ingredients for Dal:

*2 cups of Toor dal or pigeon peas (washed, soaked and drained)
*3 cups of filtered water
*1 levelled teaspoon of red chilli powder (use less if you don’t like spice that much)
*1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder (I use 3/4 teaspoons of turmeric since I never skip on the opportunity of using this miraculous healing spice)
*1 to 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of good quality sea salt (don’t use table salts, they damage your health and are stripped away from powerful minerals)
*1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

Ingredients for Tarka:
*1/2 cup of Ghee or clarified butter (substitute Olive Oil if you’re vegan)
*1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
*5-10 whole round dried red chilli peppers (you can use the long ones too)
*5-7 garlic cloves (cut in slices either horizontally or vertically)
*5-7 leaves of fresh or dried curry leaves


Transfer washed and drained lentils to your choice of cooking pot, along with all the ingredients needed for Toor Dal above.  Let it boil first, then turn down the heat to low-medium simmer and don’t cover the lid fully as it can boil over from foaming. Cook until it’s soft to touch and breaks easily. In a regular cooking pot it will take between 20 to 40 minutes depending on your stove top, heat, quality of lentils and cooking pot, so keep checking.  If you’re using a pressure cooker look at the instructions above and basically cook for 12 -15 minutes.

When the dal is soft,  add the Ghee in another cooking pan along with garlic slices and let it cook until the garlic turns light brown. Then add cumin seeds, red dried chilli, and curry leaves and let it all cook for another minute. Turn off the heat beneath the lentils and carefully add the hot Ghee with all of the seasoning on top of the dal.  (This process can be a little intimidating for beginners as it makes a *chuun* sound when added to the lentils and its better to stay away from the pan and hold it away from your body when doing it)  You can also have the lid of the lentils pot in the other hand so when you’re adding the Ghee in the lentils, you can cover the other half with the lid and quickly pour all of the Ghee over and cover the lid entirely so it won’t splash and the aroma stays in.  All of the action of your Tarka will subside in a minute. Then you open the pot, smell the fragrance and serve your traditional Toor lentils.

You can either eat it with white basmati rice, traditional naan bread, a tortilla, or by itself like a warm soup.  It’s your choice. Enjoy!  🙂

Read health benefits of Toor lentils here.



*One packet of lasagna strips

*4-5 medium portebella mushrooms

*One medium eggplant

*Two zucchinis

*One medium to large size russet potato

*One big jar of Marinara sauce or your favorite pasta sauce

*Mozzarella cheese

*Monterey jack cheese

Slice all vegetables in thin slices or long strips like lasagna shapes.  Slightly sauté all vegetables in olive oil in large fry pan or roast in your toaster oven for a few minutes.  I sautéed them all in different batches for just 2-4 minutes until they start to look slightly translucent/half way cooked. I also turned all the veggies at about a minute or two minute mark.  Make sure not to over crowd the pan and put vegetables in one layer only at each time.  Once potatoes, eggplants and zucchini are all slightly cooked you start assembling the lasagna together.
Take a big size or lasagna size baking dish. Put lasagna strips and pour hot water on top add s few drops of olive oil and leave it covered for 2 minutes then turn the lasagna strips so they don’t stick together and become soft from all sides. Take another baking pan. Butter the pan nicely from all edges.  Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce , just enough to coat the bottom slightly. Spread one layer of lasagna and put a slight layer of sauce or spread just a teaspoon of sauce on each lasagna strip.

Add a layer of eggplants and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Add a layer of portebella mushrooms and sprinkle salt and pepper on top.  Add a slight layer of sauce then add a layer of potatoes and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Add a layer of zucchini and sprinkle with salt and pepper according to your taste.
Add another layer if lasagna strips on top and coat it nicely with sauce and then put cut circles of fresh mozzarella.  Grate half pack of Monterey jack on top, covering the entire top of sauce and lasagna.  Put a few little chunks of butter on top ( you can easily omit the butter but I add it because it makes the top brown beautifully and add a nice crisp taste, in fact, you don’t even have to butter the pan either in the beginning and you can add a few drips of olive oil at the bottom of the pan and spread it with a brush.

Heat the oven at 350 degrees, start baking and set the timer for 30 minutes. When your timer starts beeping, turn the oven to broil and babysit the lasagna closely until it achieves the color and crust you like on top (I like it when it turns light brown on the top:)

Note: when it comes to pizza or Lasagna then sky is the limit for your toppings or layers….I have made this same lasagna many times with ground beef or ground chicken/turkey layer too.  For your choice of meat filling, I will cook the meat in a separate pan with some olive oil, salt, Cayenne, garlic salt and black pepper.  If you want to add more flavor, add some fresh herbs or dry herbs like parsley, basil, oregano and such.  All you have to do, is add a layer in the middle with meat and top it with sauce and continue with assembling the lasagna as usual.  If you want you can change different veggies to layer or no veggies at all, just meat, sauce and lasagna noodles,  whatever your heart desires.

Finally, I wanted to apologize to my sincere readers, who look forward to reading my recipes, and my really long absence but I promise to upload two new recipes a month now 🙂

I end it as Julia Child would say, Bon Appetit 🙂

How to Decrease Your Grocery Bill and Still Buy Healthy Groceries

As I was thinking about what recipe to share with my readers today, I stumbled upon Jamie Falahee’s creative blog and this post caught my eye. As we all try to find ways to save money and eat healthy everyday, I think this post is full of awesome and useful tips that we can all use and appreciate each day.
I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.
Have a Great weekend.

Soul Nectar Wellness Blog

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Split Pea Soup

This recipe is easy and quick but sky is the limit with this soup, you can add, fennels, carrots, celery, spinach or whatever vegetables you can disguise with this aromatic green deliciousness.  Bonus point: once its blended, no one finds out what veggies you sneaked into the soup.


*2 cups of Green Split pea lentils (serves 4  people)

*1 medium size onion (chopped)

*1 medium size clove of garlic (crushed, grated or chopped)

*Tiny piece of Ginger (grated or chopped)

*1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

*1/4  teaspoon of coriander seeds

*1 tea spoon of sea salt

*1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

*1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Start by soaking the split peas in water for at least 15 -20 minutes (but if you forgot this step then go ahead and start without it:), soaking has many benefits including it makes any beans or grains more digestible, while preserving its food value and nutrients, as well as cuts the cooking time shorter.

Wash and drain split peas, add them to a cooking pot along with about 3 cups of filtered water (better to avoid chlorinated and fluoridated tap water :).

Add onions, ginger, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and 1 table spoon of EVOO (extra virgin Olive Oil) and  bring it to a boil.  Once its boiling, turn the heat down to simmer and cover the pot.  Add  cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper  according to your taste after about 10 minutes of cooking.  ( I have noticed that adding salt in the beginning stages takes longer to soften the beans/lentils so I add salt after atleast 10-15 minutes of cooking).  let it simmer for a total of 30 to 40 minutes or until it appears soft and mushy (you can do a taste test too to check :).  Puree it with a hand held blender and if its too thick add little bit more water or chicken stock for extra flavor until it reaches your desired consistency and cook about 5 minutes more then serve.

I like my soup with a generous drizzle of EVOO on top 🙂

For Benefits of Green Split peas, read here