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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Summer Macaroni Salad

There is no greater joy than to dig into a bowl of cold pasta salad on a lazy summer afternoon. Loaded with the healthy goodness of colorful veggies and a homemade creamy hung curd dressing this vegetarian Summer Macaroni salad is refreshing and full of flavors. The best part about this easy pasta salad recipe is that it does not require any fancy ingredients and comes together in no time. Serve it at picnics, as a light meal with grilled veggies and some toasted bread, as a side dish, or simply have it as a mid day snack on its own, you are going to love it either way.  

What are Salads?

A salad is a dish consisting of a mixture of small pieces of food, usually vegetables or fruit. Salads are usually served at room temperature or chilled with few exemptions like this Lebanese Spiced potato salad, Batata Harra which is served warm. There is a wide variety of salads like the green salads that make use of fresh, raw, leafy green veggies, fruit salads ( Muskmelon Salsa, Chickpea Mango Salad), vegetable salads (Moorish Crunch Salad, bean salads (Lobia bean saladMoong Sprouts Salad), pasta salads and mixed salads that incorporate meat, poultry or seafood along with fruit and vegetables.

Healthy Benefits of Eating Salads:

Salads made using fresh fruits and vegetables are appealing to eyes as they add colors to our palate, they are easy to make, have a flavorful taste and a crunchy texture and act as mood enhancers. Let's have a look at the healthy benefits of including salads to our daily diets. source
  • Salads are rich in vitamins and minerals, so eating salad everyday will increase the level of powerful antioxidants in your blood.
  • A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease,lower the risk of digestive problems and have a positive effect upon blood sugar.
  • Eating a fiber rich salad before meals will help you feel full faster, so you will consume less calories than you might when a meal is served without such appetizer. Thus eating salads before the actual meal helps in weight control.
  • The high levels of water found in salad veggies improves hydration in our bodies, which is necessary for youthful skin.
  • You can make your salads antioxidant rich by making your own oil-based salad dressing and including herbs, lemon and vinegar to it. Moreover, the store bought ready made salad dressings are often loaded with high fructose corn syrup for flavor and processed trans fats to prolong shelf life. Low-fat dressings usually have increased sugar levels, with fructose added to compensate for the loss of flavor.

What is a pasta salad?

A pasta salad is a salad dish prepared with one or more types of pasta, is mostly served chilled and often tossed in a vinegar, oil or mayonnaise-based dressing. It is typically served as an appetizer, side dish or as a main course.

What goes into my Summer Macaroni Salad?

My summer macaroni salad is refreshing, full of flavors, loaded with colorful veggies and coated in a creamy rich homemade salad dressing. So let's have a look at the ingredients one by one.
  • Macaroni: I have used elbow macaroni made with durum wheat semolina (suji) to make this salad as it is healthy, small in size and matches perfectly with the diced veggies giving the salad a uniform look. You may use your favorite pasta instead.
  • Hung Curd: The key ingredient of this salad dressing is hung curd. I have used it instead of mayonnaise. 
  • Honey: A little drizzle of honey imparts a mild sweet flavor to the salad which complements very well with the hung curd in the salad dressing. This is an optional ingredient however and you may skip it if you do not love a sweet salad.
  • Lemon Juice:  My next ingredient of the salad dressing is fresh lemon juice which gives an appealing and refreshing citrus flavor.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: A little apple cider vinegar imparts a sour taste and balances all the flavors of the salad dressing.You may use any other variety of vinegar if apple cider vinegar is not available
  • Olive Oil: I have used olive oil only to coat the drained pasta so that it does not absorb the salad dressing.
  • Salt and Pepper:  Salt and black pepper are quintessential salad dressing elements. 
  • Chili Flakes: I like a bit of spice in my pasta salad. You may however skip chili flakes if serving the salad to toddlers and small kids.
  • Vegetables:  Fresh and crisp colorful vegetables add a crunch and bite to the otherwise soft and creamy pasta salad. I have used red onion, carrots, boiled sweet corn and green peas, tomatoes, and cucumber. Colored bell peppers also go well in this salad.
  • Herbs: I have used finely chopped fresh cilantro. You may use any fresh or dried herb. 
Serving Suggestions:
  • Pasta salad is often served as a side dish or appetizer.
  • It can be served at picnics, pool parties with barbecue.
  • You may also serve it as a light meal with some toasted bread or baguette slices and grilled veggies. 
  • Pasta salad can also be enjoyed on its own as a healthy mid-day snack.

Related Event:

It is month-end and time to post for my Facebook gourmet group, Shhh! Cooking Secretly Challenge. This group was started by Priya's versatile recipes and taken further to date by Mayuri di. Her healthy bhel is a guilt-free snack that i am tempted to try out soon. She has baked left-over roti to replace the deep fried chaat puri in her bhel which is loaded with raw veggies,fruits and sprouts . Isn't it brilliant! The theme for the month of June was Summer Salads suggested by Kalyani. She has many delicious and healthy salads on her blog like this Warm barley summer salad with kiwi and roasted peppers that are worth trying. In this group, each member takes turns to propose the theme for the month. All participating members are divided into pairs and both partners exchange a set of secret ingredients using which, both have to prepare a dish as per the theme. The other members of the group then take turns to guess the two secret ingredients just by looking at the pic of the dish. Doesn't all this sound interesting! If you are a blogger and wish to join this group, do let us know in the comment section below. My partner for this month was Rafeeda. I have been paired with her for the first time and i am amazed by the array of recipes from Malabar Cuisine in her blog. Her blog is a home to more than 1400 recipes. I also like her delicious bakes that can be easily recreated from her detailed recipes. I gave Rafeeda lettuce and mayonnaise as her secret ingredients and she made a flavorful Easy Coleslaw using the ingredients. In return she gave me sweet corn and hung curd and i made this delicious summer salad for the theme. Meanwhile, do not forget to check out her amrood chaat recipe.

                                              चित्र में ये शामिल हो सकता है: वह टेक्स्ट जिसमें 'SHHH! COOKING SECRETLY' लिखा है

Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 cup elbow macaroni (i have used durum wheat suji macaroni)
  • 1 cup hung curd
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water with few drops of olive oil according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain well and reserve the water in which pasta was cooked. Use it in your soups. Rinse the pasta with cold water. This will not only cool the pasta but also make it non-sticky by removing the starch. Drizzle some olive oil over the drained and rinsed pasta to coat it lightly with the oil. This step will prevent the pasta from soaking up the salad dressing.

 2. While the pasta cools down completely, we will prepare the salad dressing. For that in a mixing bowl take hung curd. Add apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey, black pepper, salt and chili flakes to it. Give a good stir. Our salad dressing is ready. If you wish do a taste test at this stage and add more flavorings to your salad dressing as per your taste.

3. Finely chop the salad veggies, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes( i usually deseed the tomatoes and remove the pulp while using them in a salads) and carrots. Boil the sweet corn and green peas if using.

4. Mix the veggies, macaroni and 2/3 rd of the salad dressing in a bowl and give a good toss. Add some finely chopped cilantro and freshly crushed black pepper to the salad. Allow the salad to chill until serving time.

5. Add the remaining salad dressing to our macaroni salad just before serving. Enjoy the flavorful and refreshing macaroni salad on its own or serve it as a side dish with some roasted veggies and grilled bread.

Recipe Notes:
  • To make the hung curd at home, add about 2 cups of thick curd or plain yogurt in a muslin cloth lined strainer. Gather and tie the sides of the muslin cloth and allow it to hang on a hook for about 4-5 hours with a bowl underneath to collect the dripping whey. After all the extra liquid has strained out you get a creamy rich hung curd that is ready to be used in your pasta dressing.
  • To keep the dressing stick to the pasta, toss the pasta with about 2/3rd of the dressing while it is warm and add the remaining before serving.
  • The key to keeping a pasta salad from drying is to cook the pasta right. Follow the package directions to cook the pasta. If it is under cooked, it will not absorb and grab the dressing, making it not so flavorful. If you overcook the pasta, it will be completely soggy and gross. 
  • Rinse the pasta in water while you make this cold summer salad that is not served immediately. 
  • I have made this pasta salad using macaroni, you may use your favorite pasta.
  • You may use herbs and veggies of your choice in this salad. Colored bell peppers are a great choice for this salad. I have not used it as my little one does not like it.
  • Pasta salad is often served as a side dish or appetizer, however you may also serve it as a light meal with some toasted bread or baguette slices and grilled veggies. 
  • Coating the drained pasta in a thin layer of olive oil ensures a water-repellent barrier is created between the pasta and the salad dressing so that pasta is kept from soaking up the dressing.
I hope a few of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.

Related Posts:

Monday, 29 June 2020

No Bake Mango Shrikhand Tarts

Mango Shrikhand tart is a delectable summer dessert that can be made very easily at home with a handful of ingredients. Chilled Amrakhand (mango-flavored hung curd dish) is filled in the no-bake tarts made with digestive biscuits and topped with mango chunks to make this super easy and utterly delicious mango shrikhand tart. You can serve these cute little mango tarts on special occasions or at kids get-togethers, potlucks, and kitty parties or simply enjoy it as an after-dinner dessert. Involve kids in making this no-cook treat for the added fun! 

What are Tarts?

Tarts are a sweet or savory dish with shallow sides and only bottom crust. The top is open and filled with either cream, custard, jam, fruits, or chocolate. The crust of the tarts is made with pastry dough and baked to get a firm crumbly base. The tarts are unmolded before serving. You may want to check out these Pineapple Jam tarts, from the Malaysian Cuisine, my first ever attempt on tarts from scratch.

No-Bake Tarts

No-bake tarts are an easy cheat treats that do not involve any cooking. Delicate crumbly tarts are made using crushed cookies and butter and simply pressed in tart pans and refrigerated to set. The tarts are then filled with any filling like chocolate, custard, fruit, jam etc, and unmolded before serving.

What is Shrikhand?

Shrikhand is a traditional yogurt dessert from the Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Curd is allowed to hang in a muslin cloth for about 4-5 hours so that all the moisture (whey) drips down and you are left with a creamy hung curd. This hung curd is called chakka in Marathi. This hung curd is then sweetened and flavored with saffron strands and cardamom to make a delectable Shrikhand. 
You can flavor this shrikhand with fruit pulps to make different varieties like Strawberry Shrikhand, where fresh strawberry puree is added to the shrikhand to give it an appealing pink color and beautiful flavor. When you flavor the shrikhand with mango puree you get another delectable dessert, Amrakhand or the Mango Shrikhand.

What goes into my No-Bake Mango Shrikhand Tart? 

It is raining mangoes here in the local markets. Summer is at its peak in North-India but in other parts of India, with the onset of monsoon, it is the official end to the mango season. I made these Mango Shrikhand Tarts to bid adieu to the king of fruits, the tropical delight-Mangoes. No-bake Mango Shrikhand tart is a delight to all ages and it is very easy to make as well. The dessert has 2 elements, the tarts, and the mango shrikhand. Once you are ready with the two, you just have to fill the tarts with shrikhand, garnish it and allow the dessert to chill until serving time. The tarts are unmolded just before serving. So let's have a look at the ingredients. 

For the Mango Shrikhand you require
  • Hung Curd: Making hung curd at home is very easy. You may use thick home-made curd or store-bought plain yogurt for this, only make sure the curd is not very sour. You have to tie the curd in a muslin cloth and allow it to hang for 4-5 hours with a bowl underneath it to collect the dripping whey. After 4-5 hours you are ready with a creamy hung curd. I would highly recommend you to make the hung curd a day prior and allow it to chill in a refrigerator in an air-tight container.
  • Mangoes: The next key ingredient is mango. You can use any variety of ripe mango, that is non-fibrous. A puree is made of mango by blending the peeled mango pulp in a grinder without adding any milk or liquid. You also require few mango bits for garnishing. For that use a ripe yet firm mango.
  • Sweetener: The hung curd and mango puree is then blended with a sweetener. I have used powdered sugar here. Jaggery may also be used but then the color of the shrikhand will not be appealing. Honey can also be used if you wish to. 
  • Saffron strands: This is optional but i have added saffron to the shrikhand and also used it for garnishing the tarts.
  • Green Cardamom: Shrikhand is flavored using green cardamom. It lends a lovely aroma and flavor to the shrikhand and compliments very well with mangoes.
For the Tarts you need
  • Biscuits/cookies: You may use any variety of biscuits or homemade cookies to prepare tarts. I have used digestive biscuits here. You may use chocolate-flavored biscuits also like oreo biscuits. The biscuits are simply crushed in a grinder jar to obtain a fine powder.
  • Butter: Butter or melted ghee can be used here. It acts as a binding agent and allows the biscuit crumbs to take up the shape of the mold by adhering to mold.
The powdered biscuit and butter mixture is then pressed in tart molds and refrigerated so that it sets well. It takes around 40 minutes in a refrigerator for the tarts to set and become firm so that you can unmould them If in a hurry you may pop the tarts into freezer section for 15 minutes and the tarts come out easily. To unmold, you have to just insert a toothpick delicately at one corner and the whole tart comes out clean. I have used small 8 mm mini metal tart molds here. You may use silicone molds or molds with detachable bottoms. If you do not have any of the above, you may simply grease a shallow steel bowl and use it instead. However, the curved edges of the tart molds are easy to unmold and also give an appealing look to the tarts. I have garnished the shrikhand filled tarts with mango bits, saffron strands, pistachio and tutti frutti. You may use any fruit or nut of your choice instead.

Munchkin Meals @FoodieMondayBlogHop:

Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a gourmet Facebook group where a bunch of talented food bloggers from around the globe share their delicious food recipes every Monday depending upon any one of the chosen themes. All the bloggers take turns to suggest 2 themes each week and the theme that wins maximum votes is finalized. It is our 253rd week on this group and it was Narmadhas turn to suggests themes. The one which won maximum votes was healthy recipes for kids. Narmadha suggested that we share the food recipes that are healthy and nutritious. She wanted us to share the food ideas with which we can make the fussy kids eat food which usually they won't like to eat. My son does not eat plain curd but he loves it in the form of hung curd. He happily gobbles down the Hung curd sandwich and has a spark in his eyes when i serve him with Strawberry Shrikhand and Fruit and yogurt parfait. Summer is at its peak here in North India and so i wanted to make something cool and keep it simple. I also wanted to bid adieu to mangoes by making something delectable. This no-bake mango shrikhand tarts were just the perfect treats we could think of. In fact, making this no-cook dish was a fun activity as my little joined me in whisking the amrakhand and preparing the tarts. Meanwhile, do check out the three-ingredient Eggless Mango Mousse and homemade bournbon biscuit recipes by Narmadha. You may also want to check out her healthy toddler and kid recipe collection. 

Health Benefits Of Hung Curd: Source

Before moving ahead with the recipe, let's have a look at the benefits of including hung curd in our diet.
Curd helps in improving gut health, bone health, digestion, and also regulates cholesterol and reduces high blood pressure. It is rich in protein and has weight loss benefits. 
  • Good source of protein and a good low-carb alternative: As per experts, hung curd boasts twice the amount of protein and half the carbs when compared to normal yogurt.
  • Good Probiotic: Just as yogurt, hung curd is also an exceptional source of probiotic. The fermented food increases the bio-availability of minerals present in food, helping the body assimilate more nutrition. Healthy gut flora is responsible for good digestion, immunity, and weight loss.
  • Calcium Source: Hung is an excellent source of calcium. As per USDA, 100 grams of hung curd has a whopping 106 milligrams of calcium. Calcium keeps our bones and teeth strong.
  • Low Sodium Content: Hung curd has much less sodium content than regular yogurt.

Preparation Time:  45 minutes 
Cooking Time: Nil
Serves: 5

Ingredients for the amrakhand (mango shrikhand): 
  • 1/2 cup hung curd 
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup mango pulp
  •  1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • Few strands of Saffron
Ingredients for the tarts:
  • 150 grams digestive biscuits (i have used Nuti choice biscuits)
  • 50 grams of melted butter
Other Ingredients:
  • 1 ripe yet firm mango chopped into bits
  • 2 tablespoon chopped pistachio
  • Few strands of saffron
  • Tutti frutti or pomegranate arils for garnishing
  1. We will begin by making the tarts first. For that, roughly crush the digestive biscuits in a grinder jar to get a fine powder. Transfer the powdered biscuits to a mixing bowl. Add melted butter to it and mix well. Add this mixture to greased tart molds and press well. Refrigerate the tart molds for around 30-40 minutes so that they become firm and can be easily unmolded. 



2. Meanwhile, prepare the Mango Shrikhand, for that take hung curd, powdered sugar, and mango pulp in a mixing bowl. Whisk well using a wire whisker until all the ingredients blend with each other to get a lump-free creamy mixture. Add cardamom powder and saffron strands to it and give a good stir. Our delicious amrakhand is ready.

3.  Remove the tarts from the refrigerator and fill them with the prepared mango shrikhand. You may further refrigerate the tarts until serving time or unmold the tarts by simply loosening the sides using a toothpick. Garnish the tarts with chopped mango bits, pistachio, saffron, and tutti frutti or pomegranate arils before serving. Enjoy the flavorful mango treat with your loved ones!

Recipe Notes:
  • Use fresh curd that is not very sour to make hung curd.
  • Use any variety of ripe mango that is non-fibrous, sweet, and juicy to make Amrakhand.
  • Any biscuit variety or homemade cookie can be used to make the tarts. I have tried these tarts with oreo and choco-chip biscuits as well and chocolate flavor complements very well with mango shrikhand. 
  • You may use any fruit or dry fruit to garnish the shrikhand filled tarts.
  • Mango Shrikhand tarts taste best when served chilled. Keep them refrigerated until serving time.

I hope a few of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.

For more no-cook Kid friendly recipes using Hung Curd, check out the following links from this blog.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Instant Mango Chunda - Gujarati Raw Mango Relish

Chunda is a classic raw mango pickle from the Indian state of Gujarat. The traditional sun drying method of making chunda is time-consuming, hence here is a simple and instant version that can be made within 1/2 an hour and enjoyed immediately. I have replaced refined sugar with jaggery in this recipe and added a few spice powders to the grated sour raw mangoes which makes this chunda lip-smacking. This oil-free raw mango relish has a sweet, tangy, and mildly spicy flavor. Mango chunda can be served as a delicious accompaniment to the main meal and tastes great with flatbreads and fried snacks alike. The recipe is vegan and gluten-free. With a good shelf life, chunda ensures that you enjoy the seasonal mangoes throughout the year. 

What is Chunda?

Chunda is a Gujarati style raw mango pickle. It is known as "Keri no Chundo" in Gujarati. Traditionally, this relish is a no-cook dish made by the sun cooking method where shredded raw mango is mixed with sugar and some spices and kept in glass jars in the Sunlight until the sugar melts by the heat from the Sun and a thick sugar syrup coats the shredded mango. This method is time-consuming (may take up to 10 days) and needs patience and weather where ample of Sunlight is available. 

Instant Chunda - a quick version of chunda which involves cooking the shredded raw mango with sugar and spices on a stovetop or microwave oven until the desired consistency is achieved. There are many variations depending upon the sweetener and spices used to flavor the chunda.

What goes into my Instant Mango Chunda?

You require only raw mangoes, jaggery, and few spice powders to make this lip-smacking instant mango relish. I have made the pickle using 1/2 kg unripe mangoes. Any variety of green raw mango that is sour can be used for this recipe. Try to use fresh blemish-free mangoes for better results. I have kept raw mango and jaggery ratio as 2:1 ie for every two cups tightly packed raw mango, I have added one cup tightly packed grated or powdered jaggery. If you prefer a sweet chundo, use jaggery in equal quantity to that of grated mango. Red chili powder, a bit of roasted cumin powder, green cardamom powder and salt is used to flavor the chundo. The recipe calls for cooking the grated raw mango along with jaggery and spice powders until you get a desired consistency. The recipe is very simple and easy to follow. You may add a little turmeric powder to get a yellow color.

Dietary Tips:
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegan
  • Kid-friendly
  • Refined sugar-free
  • Oil-free
  • Saatvik (onion-garlic free)
  • Fasting food
Serving suggestions:
  • Chunda can be served with any Indian flatbread like chapati, methi paratha, thepla,  dashmi, or khakra.
  • It also pairs well with fried snacks like poori, muthiamatri, or fritters.
  • Chunda can also be used as a spread on chapati or paratha roll, bread, or toast.
  • One can serve chunda as a side dish to the main meal and tastes great even with simple dal chawal , or Khichdi.
  • Chunda is a Saatvik dish (onion-garlic free) and also serves as fasting food.


I am a part of a Facebook gourmet group, healthy wealthy Cuisine where, participating bloggers share recipes every fortnight on pre-decided themes. Tango with mango is the current theme suggested by Narmadha who is a wonderful person and a versatile food blogger. Do check out her space for many traditional South Indian dishes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. You may also want to check out her wide variety of bakes too. I have bookmarked her mango mousse recipe, which is a simple 3 ingredient eggless mousse without any setting agent and would love trying it out before mangoes are out of stock. Narmada suggested that we share any of our mango creations using either raw or ripe mango and it would be bidding adieu to the mango season here in India. This instant mango chundo is my humble contribution to the theme. Do check out the following creations by my fellow bloggers on this theme.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 -12 minutes
Serves: 2 cups

Ingredients: Measurements used 1 cup = 240ml
  • 3 large raw green mangoes (around 1/2 kg) / 2 cups tightly packed grated mangoes
  • 1 cup grated or powdered jaggery
  • 1 tablespoon red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon green cardamom powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon rock salt
  1. Wash the raw mangoes thoroughly and pat dry using a clean and dry kitchen towel. Peel the mangoes and grate them. Discard the seeds.

2. Heat a non-stick wok or heavy bottom saucepan and add grated raw mangoes and jaggery powder to it. Mix well and allow the mangoes to cook in jaggery syrup for 5-7 minutes. Keep stirring intermittently to ensure it does not catch the bottom of the pan.

3. Season the relish with red chili powder, roasted cumin powder, black salt and rock salt.
Mix the spice powders and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 

4. Put off the flame once the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the pan. Lastly, add green cardamom powder and give a quick stir. 

5. Delectable raw mango chunda is ready. Allow it to cool down completely before transferring to a clean and dry airtight glass jar. Enjoy this lip-smacking raw mango pickle as a side dish with your meals.

Recipe Notes:
  • Use raw blemish-free green sour mangoes for this recipe.
  • The color of my chunda is reddish-brown as i have used jaggery. The chunda with sugar has a bright golden yellow color.
  • Adjust the amount of red chili powder as per your liking.
  • Always use a clean dry spoon to sample out the chunda from the glass jar.
  • The chunda stays good at room temperature for more than a month. I usually refrigerate it and it stays good for more than 6 months or so.

I hope a few of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.

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