Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Five easy to grow vegetable greens

Leaf vegetables can be some of the easiest to grow but are the most rewarding in terms of their nutritional value as well as monetary value. Here are my top leaf vegetables that can be cooked to make hearty side and main dishes.

Amaranth Greens : In south India, the many genus of Amaranth are priced for their flavor and nutritional value. In my experiment, I sprinkled some store bought Organic Amaranth seeds in my backyard. To my delight, these fast growing plants sprouted with very high germination rates in about a week. Within 4 weeks they were ready for the kitchen. Amaranths are related to red root pig-weed. They love the warm weather and will grow to 6-8 feet tall. A pound of Amaranth seed is good enough to sow an acre of land.

Because Amaranth seeds are tiny, when seeded by hand would grow very dense. When thinned the plants grow more vigorously. Thinning is required to harvest the seed. Do not thin to cook tender leaves.

Amaranth Seedlings

Amaranth Greens 4 weeks not thinned

Amaranth Greens 4 week thinned

Black Nightshade: Often confused with deadly nightshade, this plant is one of the most hated weeds of American mid-west. Solanum nigrum or the European black nightshade according to Wikipedia is the South Indian green called ManiThakkali (pearl tomatoes). I found a lone plant by the highway and took some seed to my garden After two years we have this plant everywhere, in the container , in my raised bed. I cant really say I grow black nightshade rather it grows itself. We harvest the berries and dry them to make 'vathal', cook the greens and the kids eat the ripe black berries.If you are foraging for this plant, please be very careful as there can be toxic varieties of this super green.

Black nightshade flower

Once you have one plant in your garden, it seeds itself and grows year after year. A berry contains several hundred seeds and thinning is required if you are looking to harvest berries. Greens are cooked best with tamarind to offset the slightly bitter taste, cumin, pepper and coconut.

Kale : Nobody needs an introduction to Kale. Kale scores a perfect 1000 on the ANDI and is the easiest to grow. I grow the Scottish variety which produces from spring to late fall , even after a hard frost or two.

Fenugreek Greens :  Consumed fondly all over India, this Fabaceae is a cousin of our common Clover, easily identified by its trifoliate. Easily sprouted with a handful of seeds from the kitchen, the seeds are cheap and sold in Indian grocery stores as Methi (in Hindi) and Mendhayam (in Tamil).

Mustard Greens : Another kitchen staple turned greens in my garden, this pungent green is cooked best with potatoes. I will post a recipe soon. Buying mustard seeds bred for broad edible leaves is best if you consume mustard geens on a regular basis. Mustrads are cold hardy and will produce till first hard frost date. These are great companion plants to your tomatoes.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Pepper Masala Soy Chunks

I accidentally ended up making this and it turned out great! Made this with Textured Soy Protein, left over coconut chutney and special secret ingredient. Follow along.


1. 1 cup textured soy protein or Nutrella
2. 2 medium sized onion sliced
3. 1/4 tsp cumin powder, chilli powder, tumeric, garam masala
4. 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
5. salt to taste
6. 1 tsp soy sauce
7. 1 tsp ketchup
8. 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
9. 3 tbsp roasted channa dal (பொட்டு கடலை)
10. 1 tbsp urad dal
11. 1/2 cup grated coconut
12. 1 green chili


Coconut Chutnet: (which I had made earlier and had to use it at the end of the day as coconut spoils quikly).
1. Roast urad dal until it is golden.
2. cool and grind to a paste with coconut, roasted channa dal and green chili.

1. In a microwave safe disk  add textured soy protein and soy sauce and cook for 5 min. The soy sauce adds a bit of color and saltiness to the soy protein.
2. After it has cooled , squeeze out the liquid.

1. Add 2 tbsp of oil and dry onions. Add a bit of salt so that the onions soften.
2. After about 5 min, add ginger garlic paste and sautee for 5 more min.
3. When the mixture starts to turn brown add cumin powder, chili powder, tumeric and garam masala. Mix well and sautee. Patience is the secret to get this dish to taste terrific. Add a tsp of oil at this time. Yes it takes a bit of oil, it is a very rich dish.
4. Add the coconut chutney and sautee on low heat until oil seperates.
5. Add Ketchup, Sriracha sauuce and salt. Mix well. The ketchup gives a nice tangy-sweet flavour that helps to bring the masala together. It also coats the soy chunks and help stick the spices to the soy chunks.
6.Remove from heat. Serve with streamed rice or paratha or dosa.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pongal Recipe


1. Rice 1/2 cup.
2. Split Mung Bean - 1/4 cup.
3. Cumin seeds - 1/4 tbsp
4. Salt and black pepper - to taste
Split Mung bean

5. Cashew nut to garnish
6. Butter - 1 tbsp

1. Soak Mung dal in 3 cups of water for about 30 min.
2. Add rice to the Mung dal and cook till the mixture boils. Once it comes to a rolling boil , add salt to taste and simmer till the dal rice mixture is soft and cooked.
3. In a seperate pan, melt butter and roast the cashews till golden brown.
4. Add cumin seeds and freshly ground pepper.
5. Add the butter cashew, pepper, cumin mixture to cooked rice and dal and mix well.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Tambrahm Cooking 101

Poricha Kuzhambu, Mor Kootu, Arachu Vitta Sambar - Demystified.

Poricha Kozhambu: Red chillies, with high black pepper ,jeera along with coconut and urad dal.

Mor Kootu : Does not usually contain paruppu. Mor kootu is yogurt thickened with rice flour along with green chillies and coconut. Thalippu with coconut oil and jeeragam.

Puli Itta Kootu : Usually contains kadala paruppu. Ground with coconut, red chillies, coriander seeds.Good with plantain.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Olan recipe

This hearty rich Olan recipe is a traditional South Indian recipe of my grand mother. Earthy and tropical, this is very similar to Ital cusine of the Rastafari.

1. Medium sized Eggplant
2. Pumpkin - cubed 10-15 pieces, 1" cubes
3. Mung Dal - 1 cup
4. Taro root - about 4 or 5
5. Green chilies - As desired ( I haven't used any so that my kids can enjoy)
6. Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
7. Coconut milk - 200 ml

1. Soak Mung Dal in warm water for about 2 hours.
2. Peel Taro root and cut into 1" pieces. I usually cut them into 4.
3. Cube Pumpkin.
4. In a pressure cooker, cook Mung Beans and Taro.
5. If not using pressure cooker cook Mung beans with a cup of water till tender, add Taro cook till soft and then add pumpkin. If cooking with pressure cooker, add pressure cooked Mung bean and Taro , a cup of water and Pumpkin till soft.
6. Add coconut milk and salt to taste and bring to boil.
7. Heat coconut oil and fry green chilies in a separate wok and add on top of the olan.

Serve with rice.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pancakes with fresh fruits

If you like a good Sunday morning breakfast but don't like the long lines at your neighborhood diner, here is a simple recipe. So simple this could be on the back of a pancake box.


1. Complete Pancake Mix.
2. Fresh fruits - suggested Papaya, Pineapple, Banana, Ble berry, Kiwi, cut 1/2" pieces.
3. Maple syrup.
4. 1 cup - Greek Yogurt.

1. Beat Greek yogurt with 2-3 tbs of Maple syrup or to taste.
2. Make Pancake per package directions.
3. layer Yogurt maple syrup mixture on top of the pancake.
4. Layer with fresh fruit.
5. Drizzle  with Maple syrup. For Canada: Soak with Maple syrup.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Coconut Curry Vegetable

Spicy South East Asian dish with flavors of Thailand, Malaysia and Laos. A Vegan friendly recipe.


1. 400 g of firm Tofu.
2. Soy nuggets (TVP) - 100 g.
3. Cauliflower - 1 cup, flower heads
4. Sweet red pepper - 1 medium sized, cut into 1" pieces.
5. I carrot - Sliced.
6. Your favorite brand yellow curry paste.

1. Cube Tofu into 1" pieces. Stir fry  in oil till brown. Set aside.
2. Re-hydrade soy nuggets in warm water. Squeeze and set aside.
3. Stir fry the veggies and set aside.
4. Stir fry yellow curry paste per package directions. I would recommend half the
amount of curry paste as indicated in the package, it is pretty spicy.
5. Add 200 ml of coconut milk and combine Tofy, Soy nuggets and veggies. Bring it to a quick boil and remove from heat.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kung Pao Tofu recipe

Kung Pao Tofu

If you like the taste of spicy Kung Pao dishes, this is a good vegetarian improvisation. Tofu is an excellent source of protein and if a calcium based coagulant is used, an excellent source of calcium as well. As always be careful about your soy intake as too much Soy can cause hormone imbalance and most Soy in North America is genetically modified. Get your protein from a balanced variety of sources like Beans, Legumes , Soy and Dairy. 


1. One block of Extra Firm Tofu
2. 4 tbsp corn flour.
3. 2 tbsp corn starch.
4. 1 tbsp soy sauce
5. 1 tbsp chili paste (or to taste)
6. Dry roasted peanuts
7. Green onions
8. 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
9. Dry seeded red chili for garnish.
10. Oil to fry.
11. 1 tbsp sesame oil (or oil of your choice)

1. Cube Tofu into bite sized pieces.
2. Sprinkle corn flour and toss to coat evenly. Let it sit for up to an hour.
3. Deep fry tofu in frying oil till golden brown. Let stand on paper towel.
4. In a dish combine corn starch, soy sauce, ketchup, Chili sauce and 2 tbsp water and bring it to a boil. The mixture will look more like baby food than a sauce.
5. When the starch is cooked, add the fried tofu and mix till it is coated well.
6. Fry peanuts and seeded red-chilies. Garnish along with cut green onions.
7.  The  Soy sauce should add enough salt, but feel free to add salt.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Simple North American Reipe with Iyer twist

Welcome to Ganesh Iyer's Kitchen. I will post recipes of dishes I relished in India but have modified to be easily prepared in a North American kitchen. Traditional recipes with a contemporary spin like the Soya Bean parupu usili, Silken Tofy Chapathi, Thai rice noodle sevai and Veg Masala kozhambu. Enjoy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Soya Chunks Manchurian

This is not a quick and easy recipe, but the effort is well worth it. Soya Chunks or textured vegetable or Soy protein is rich in , well protein. Believe it or not, this is actually the byproduct of oil extraction. Since almost all the oil is extracted from the soy bean, only the protein remains. Soy chunks has more protein by weight than lean cuts of beef. But before you start eating soy or TVP everyday be advised that this is a by-product of a chemical process called solvent extraction. Hexane is used to dissolve the oil in the soy bean flakes and the residue is cooked and extruded under pressure to form TVP. Since hexane is volatile it is almost all gone, but there may be hexane residues.


1. 100 gms of Soya Chunks.
2. Ginger & Garlic paste.
3. Fresh ginger minced - 1 tsp.
4. Soy sauce - 1tbsp
5. 1 tbsp corn starch
6. Onion diced - 1 cup
7. Curry power - 1 tsp.
8. Sesame oil - 1 tbsp.
9. Green onions to garnish.
10. Lemon juice.


1. In a pot add 4-5 cups of water, salt to season and curry powder and bring it to a rolling boil.
2. Remove from heat and add the soy chunks in the curry water and let it soak for about 5 min.
3. Drain the water (and save it for reuse), and squeeze the water from the soy chunks.
4. In a separate pot, fry ginger garlic paste and onions in a bit of oil till the onion is golden brown.
5. Add 2 cups of curry water, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil and bring it to a boil.
6. Dissolve corn starch in warm water and add the liquid to the boiling curry water. Turn the heat to low and simmer till the sauce is thick. Season with salt to taste. 
7. Add the sauce to the soy chunks and coat well. drizzle lemon juice and garnish with green onions.