Peruvian corn with Kizami Nori

While the usual puffed corn is an addictive accompaniment to entertaining activities like movie watching, the large Peruvian corn is quite something else! Different, substantial, delectable, and easy-peasy to make! Use your usual popcorn maker- say a microwave popcorn maker (red bowl in picture). The usual way is to toast the Peruvian corn is on a hot skillet, but I find the microwave pop corn maker quite convenient Since the large corn does not increase in volume, you can “pop” larger amounts, like 1 cup, in one go –with a little EVOO- both for flavor and popping. Then garnish with Japanese kizami nori (which is toasted and shredded edible seaweed). Quick and easy. Intriguingly delicious. Enjoy!

Apple Custard Cake

At my last tango session, Jane brought a homemade apple pie/cake for the class. It was as delicious as it was beautiful!! I don’t have her recipe, but here is a French-inspired apple custard cake that I had experimented with over some time. Very delectable, almost as that of Jane’s. Enjoy!


Springform pan.


  • 4 granny-smith apples; 1 tbsp Calvados + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Dry ingredients: 1 cup whole wheat cake flour + 2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt + 1 cup sugar
  • Wet ingredients: 1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1/2 cup almond milk + 1/2 cup EVOO + 1 egg + 1 cup almond milk
  • Custard : 1 egg yolk
  • Upper crust: 1 tbsp almond flour; 1 tbsp granulated sugar


Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into eight slices and cut each slice into about 3 pieces. Cover and microwave for about 3 minutes. Mix in the calvados and lime juice.

Cake-mix: Mix all dry ingredients with wire whisk. Mix all wet ingredients with wire whisk. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together.

Upper crust: Take a cup of the cake-mix and mix in the almond flour.

Mix the custard ingredients with the rest of the cake-mix. Mix in the chopped apples. Pour into the greased springform pan. Top with the upper crust and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake at 325 F for 1 hour or until done.


  1. Grease the springform pan. Or, if possible, line the base with greased parchment paper.
  2. You can reduce the sugar to 2/3 cup+1tbsp.
  3. The microwaved apples will be rubbery, but not mushy. But it bakes perfectly.
  4. The almond milk in this recipe was homemade. So the almond flour can be fortified with the milk residue as well.

Kulith (କୋଳଥ) Waffles

My mother packed me a bag of kulith (କୋଳଥ) lentils on my way back from India- since I had specifically asked for it. I wanted to recreate my grandmother’s କୋଳଥ ଡାଲି (kulith dal), but instead invented some breakfast waffles. Didn’t regret the decision since the waffles turned out fantastic. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Food processor; waffle maker.


Makes 6 waffles

  • B1: 1 cup split kulith lentils soaked overnight and drained + 1/4 cup fresh (or frozen) coconut + curry leaves from 10 stalks + 1 tbsp whole cumin seeds + 1/4 cup EVOO
  • B2: 1 large (Idaho) potato
  • Finely chopped: 2 jalapenos + 1 quarter onion + salt to taste


B1: Use the regular blade and pulse the lentils –without adding any water– till breadcrumb consistency. Add the rest of the B1 ingredients and pulse a few times. Next, replace the blade with the coarse grater blade and shred the B2 ingredient (potato, with skin on). Then mix in (manually) all the chopped ingredients till the batter is homogenized.

Use the waffle maker as per the manufacturer’s  instructions.  I used 1 cup of batter per waffle which worked out perfect.

Serve hot with any chutney or accompaniment of your liking. Or, have it neat like I do 🙂

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. Kulith is also know as horse gram for obvious reasons. But the pundits hail it a superfood!
  2. As the waffles cooked, the aroma of Indian breakfast wafted through the house. Was it the jeera ? Coconut ? I began to miss my recent India trip even more.
  3. The lentils I used was split (and also possibly pre-toasted).
  4. Use a a pair of heat-proof tongs and a spatula to gently ease out each waffle.
  5. The potatoes bind and form the body of the waffle giving it a soft texture. If you prefer a firmer texture, you could add some besan or flour of your choice.

Dandelion Vatana Dal

Yes, dandelion, the pesky weed in your lawns. My friend once told me that her parents, back in the days, used to pull over in the middle of the highway and harvest dandelions from the roadside, which was a choice green back home in Istria. I am reminded of this story every time I encounter a healthy, luscious bunch of dandelions from the farmer’s market.

Here is an interesting treatment, with unexpectedly sumptuous results, that may help you embrace this nutrition-dense, bitter green. Scroll down for two more: pancake and grain salad. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Food processor.


  • Lentils: 1/2 cup vatana (or garbanzo) soaked for at least 2 hrs + 1/2 cup tur dal
  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens + 1 green jalapeno
  • Veggies: 2-3 medium potatoes
  • Allium: 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Aromatics: 2 tsp of your favorite (Indian) spice-mix (like curry powder)
  • Acid: 1 tbsp vinegar
  • Baghar/Tempering: 1 tbsp ELOO + 2 tsps mustard seeds + 1 red dried chillies, hand-torn into small pieces + 2 stalks of curry leaves
  • salt to taste


Pressure cook the vatana+tur lentils with the garlic and chopped vegetables + salt to taste, till tender. Process the dandelions leaves and stems and the green jalapeno pepper (not blend!) till broken down into tiny pieces, but not any more (i.e., not blended into a paste).

Extended baghar: Heat oil and mustard seeds till the seeds begin to sputter. Add the curry leaves and chillies. After 30 seconds or so, add the spice-mix and make sure it does not burn. Then add the processed greens + vinegar and saute for a minute or so. Season with salt to taste.

Mix the dal and the baghar. Serve hot.

Notes, hints, tips:

  1. ELOO = Extra Light Olive Oil.
  2. You may also check
  3. The “AAA” principle (Allium, Aromatics, Acid) is a good rule of thumb to build the flavor base for lentils, meat, vegetables or any combination thereof.
  4. Cooking the garlic along with the staple reduces its intensity but provides the oomph.
  5. I heat the oil along with the seeds, so that it does not need babying and you can afford to be distracted with other tasks and the sputtering of the seeds acts as a natural timer the beckons you back to the stove. Don’t stray too far away though.
  6. Use you favorite spice-mix, be it quatre épices or Madras curry or vadouvan or Berbere or simply mirepoix. Change the tempering spices accordingly- here I have a very Indian take with whole mustard seeds, curry leaves.
    When I travel to India, I bring back a variety of high quality spice-mixes (trying to cover the expanse of the country, like a Kashmiri Rogan Josh, a Rajasthani bharwan, or Goan Xacuti, ….). India offers a fascinating array of not just spices, but also spice-mixes, tried and tested over generations.
  7. Dandelion Garbanzo pancake/waffle: Here is another addictive (believe me!) dandelion-legume treatment. See pictures below. It could be prettied up a bit, but who has the patience 😉
    Soak 2 cups garbanzo beans for 4-6 hrs (or, until it meets the bite-test). Drain.
    Pulse in a processor till a coarse paste: garbanzo + 1 bunch dandelions, stems and leaves + 2-3 scapes (or other alliums) + 1/4 cup EVOO + a few green chilies + 1 tsp whole cumin seeds (optional) + 1 1/2 tsp baking soda + salt to taste.
    Mix in chopped onions and shishito peppers. Use 1/2 cup measure to scoop each pancake out. Flatten and cook for 4 mins on each side on a non-stick pan. No extra oil is necessary.

Spelt garbanzo dandelion Salad: This is surprisingly delicious! Use a wok that can stand high heat to flash-dehydrate the greens.
1 cup garbanzo, soaked for 5-6 hrs and then microwaved (with a few tbsps of water) till tender (5 mins).
Cook 1 cup of spelt in 2 cups of water for about 1 hr or until tender.
Pulse 1 bunch of dandelion in a food processor, with some green chilies and allium (scallions) till it is coarse.

Dehydrate the pulsed dandelions on high heat in a wok (with very large surface) for 10-15 minutes. Add the cooked and drained garbanzo and grains in the wok. Mix in salt to taste and. Add about 1/4 cup good quality EVOO and juice of 1 lime. Top with diced scallions.

Future of Food: Fonio

I have not met anyone who does not like couscous (expect my daughter).  I discovered fonio while browsing the shelves at Kalustyan. Move over, couscous. This little-known African grain blows even couscous out of the water.  And wait until you hear more. Popularizing grains such as this actually not just diversifies your diet but that of the world, releasing pressure on the Big 3 (wheat, corn, rice), and ultimately food security for the planet.

Special tools:



  • 1 cup fonio grains
  • allium: 1 scape OR a quarter medium onion, diced
  • spices: 1 tsp jeera + 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns + 10 curry leaves
  • Veggies: 1 pepper, charred and slivered + 1 cup sprouted urad (or moong)
  • 1 tbsp oil; dash of turmeric; salt to taste
  • Topping: 1 tbsp EVOO to moisten


Fonio: Toast fonio lightly and pour 2 cups hot water. Cover and turn off heat. After 10 minutes, fluff with fork.

Heat 1 tbsp oil. Add jeera + whole peppercorns. When the seeds sputter add the curry leaves. Saute for 15-20 seconds. Add the allium, Mix for another 10-15 secs. Mix in the turmeric and then add the veggies. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add salt and then mix in the fonio. Mix well for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 tbsp EVOO and mix well.

Serve warm (with guacamole).

Notes, hints, tips:

  1. Fonio can also be steamed. Although that might take longer, it yields even fluffier fonio.
  2. Use fonio anywhere you would have used couscous. Note that couscous is made from wheat while fonio is a different grain. It is also being touted as a superfood.

Peach Puff

My sister-in-law made an amazing Napolean (Mille-feuille) cake and the curious in me asked too many questions. So much so, she packed me home a bag of 1 lb (Russian) pastry sheet. It occupied the freezer until an occasion (Labor Day cook-out ) presented itself. I confess, in the past, I have laboriously made puff pastry from scratch, with buttering and rolling and folding on and on. For hours. All on chilled slabs.

But the store-bought one was a breeze! Here is a fruit pinwheel. Enjoy!


Muffin pans.


Makes 6.

  • 1 lb puff pastry
  • 2-3 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced into moons
  • little EVOO to spray the muffin pan
  • Peach or any other jam


Thaw the frozen pastry and work while it is pliable but still cold. If it gets too warm, leave in the refrigerator for a few minutes. I unwrapped the sheet on parchment, placed another layer of parchment on top and rolled thin. Score the rectangle to make 6 equal-sized strips.

Keep the muffin tray ready by spraying with EVOO.

Work with each strip at a time (keeping the others between parchment in the refrigerator, else it may get too warm). Brush the jam and place 2 to 3 layers of halfmoon peaches with the curved sided of the moon facing out (see picture). Fold the strip over. Roll tightly and place in muffin cup.

Bake at 375 F for 30-40 mins or until golden brown.


  1. My muffin tray had 6 cups, so I made 6 large puffs. But if yours has 8, you could make 8 delicate puffs from 1 lb of puff pastry.
  2. This was inspired by youtube’s Delish recipe.
  3. You could garnish with powdered sugar.
  4. Mille-feuille (thousand leaves) is a mathematical pastry. Let me explain. Repeated folding and rolling gives you 3^6 = 729 layers. It is rounded off to one thousand. If you repeat the process again (which is not usually done), you will get 3^7 = 2187, way larger than one thousand. QED.