Gwyneth Paltrow’s Beet Salad With Mint + Scallion Pesto

Since I have posted wayyy to many sweet treats, I thought I’d take a break from it and serve up something lighter. Both in tone, taste and preparation. This one’s from- hold your breath- Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen’s cookbook It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great.

This cookbook has been quite polarizing on the interwebs, much like Gwyneth herself. (I’ll admit I am not a big fan of her personality, her crusade as a lifestyle guru or her consciousness spiel, but I do like visiting her website to browse through recipes- they have some good ones!)

Now the inside flap of the book starts off talking about Gwyneth’s “clear eyes, glowing skin and fit body…,” none of which I care for. I’m quite happy with my eyes (they are neither bloodshot nor cloudy,) and my skin is pretty ok for someone who does not apply much of anything to it, and as for my body, it’s definitely not Tracy Anderson Method-approved, but I manage to get some exercise each day and I am at peace with it. (I’m not walking any red-carpets, so I don’t feel the need to get my body “red-carpet ready!!!”)

Oh yes, back to the book.

image courtesy |

image courtesy |

Now, there are some paragraphs that are pretentious, along with some cringe-worthy pictures that don’t really make sense. Like, for instance, GP riding a Vespa, and another one where she is sideward-glancing while wrapped in a blanket. And of course, there is name-dropping: recipes from her ‘besties’ Cameron Diaz and Gavin Rossdale…but she’s a celebrity, and celebrities befriend celebrities, so it is but natural that they swap recipes, no? So yes, there are few portions you’d want to skim over, but once you do, you’ll realize that there are some pretty neat recipes beneath it all.

image courtesy |

image courtesy |

The book is based on GP’s elimination diet and many, many everyday products are avoided, like dairy, gluten, sugar, coffee. (I don’t have any issues with dairy or gluten, so I used whole wheat pasta where brown rice pasta is called for, and cow’s milk where a recipe called for almond/rice milk. The flavours are great, and since I’m not planning to get on a diet, I tweaked away.) 

Having said that, the salad, vegetable and grains sections have plenty of wonderful recipes that can be recreated with ingredients that are easily available in India- and many are naturally vegan and gluten-free. Sweet potatoes, corn, eggplant, beets, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, daikon radish (regular desi mooli.) Most of these vegetables can be found in markets in India. There are of course, some veggies and grains (romesco, kale, quinoa) that I don’t have easy access to, but even without those recipes, there is enough variety to choose from.

This beet salad is one of them. Easy, delicious and can be made ahead and assembled before lunch/dinnertime.

Scallion mint pesto from It's All Good

Scallion mint pesto from It’s All Good

The mint+scallion pesto is a keeper- I used it on toast, tossed in pasta, in omelettes, as a topping for crackers- versatile, like pesto should be. The raw garlic gives it a pungent, almost spicy punch, and the toasted almonds add great depth. And nibble!!


Drizzle the pesto over the beets, or just gob them on like I did.

Drizzle the pesto over the beets, or just gob it on with a spoon like I did.


The Beets

500 grams steamed or roasted beetroot, skins removed and cubed/sliced into discs

The Pesto

  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • A dozen scallions (spring onions) white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 1/3 cup mint leaves (pudina)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (the book calls for extra-virgin, I used regular)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used desi nimbus)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (the cookbook calls for coarse sea salt, which I had, but I think table salt would be just fine

Puree all the ingredients in a powerful blender until smooth.


To assemble, arrange the beets on a plate and pour/drizzle/dab the pesto all over it.

Yes, that’s all it takes 😀

From My Kerala Kitchen: Pineapple Pachadi.

Last week I was on vacation in Kerala.  Somewhere between sunny and rainy, with the monsoon on it’s way out, it was beautiful.
We attended a wedding,  which was also beautiful, and I gobbled up a traditional banana leaf sadhya or wedding feast.

The sadhya is what everyone waits for at a Malayalee Hindu wedding. When the wedding post-mortem happens, the two things which are perhaps discussed and debated with the most intensity are:

a) How much jewellery the bride was wearing. (Seriously. Malayalees have a thing for gold.)

b) How good the sadhya was.

Rice and lentils are at the centre of the banana leaf sadhya, with neyyum parripum (mung lentils cooked with turmeric and ghee) and sambar being served along with the rice. The accompanying dishes, condiments and pickles are portioned onto the banana leaf before hand, with servers coming round to offer seconds as the meal progresses.

Sadhyas differ from region to region, but they will always contain avial, thoran, kootu curry, kaalan, stew and pachadi. Pachadis, I feel, are equal parts chutney, salad and curry. They consist of vegetables or fruit which are cooked in a spicy coconut and yogurt sauce, tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. And my absolute favourite kind of pachadi, since forever, has been the sweet and tangy pineapple pachadi. I always ask for seconds, and make sure I get a big spoonful. I actually ask for smaller portions of sambar as I’m being served, because I would much rather eat my rice with pineapple pachadi.

The dish, when you break it down, is simple: cooked pineapple tossed in a sauce of grated coconut, spices and yogurt and tempered with curry leaves. It’s sweet, big on texture, and bursts with flavour: sweet pineapples, tangy yogurt, smoky mustard seeds and fragrant curry leaves.  Some pineapple pachadis also have purple grapes in them, which gives an extra sweetness and juiciness, and I’ve always found the bleeding colours of the grapes pretty to look at.

pineapple pachadi

Since Monday is the Kerala harvest festival Onam, I thought now would be a good time to share a traditional recipe!

PINEAPPLE PACHADI (Adapted from Ammini Ramachandran’s Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts.)


  • 1/2 of a ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 3 tablespoons yogurt
  • Curry leaves
  • Coconut oil for frying
  • Water for boiling


  • Heat water in a saucepan. When it begins to boil, add the pineapple pieces, turmeric, chilli powder and salt and cook for a 3-4 minutes. Drain.
  • Grind the coconut,  half the mustard seeds and green chilli to make a smooth paste.
  • Heat some coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the coconut-spice paste for 2 minutes. Then, add the pineapple mixture and stir well to coat evenly.
  • Pull the mixture off the heat and stir in the yogurt, till everything is evenly combined.
  • Next, get to work on the tempering. In a small saucepan, heat the oil. When the oil is hot, add the remaining mustard seeds and allow them to pop, then add the curry leaves. Pour this over the pineapple mixture and serve.

Mushroom, Baby Corn & Soy Rice Bowls | Easy Lunchbox Recipe

Packed lunches can be a tricky thing. You want to make something that’s tasty and fun to eat, but also convenient. Roti-sabzi-dal, the holy trinity of Indian tiffin is a great, wholesome lunch; but I just don’t have time for it in the morning.

Which is why I love one-pot (or one-box, or one-dabba, if you prefer,) meals which taste great and travel easy.

BBC Good Food Magazine is my go-to for quick meals. And this one is perfect because it uses one of my favourite vegetables: mushrooms. The original recipe calls for the mushroom to be paired with pumpkin; but I used baby corn instead  because I like the crunch.

I have made this a couple of times, but never got the rice grains to be as dry as the ones pictured in the Good Food recipe- mine always comes out a little ‘saucy’ with the grains coated in soy. Maybe I need to add less stock than the recipe calls for!



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 red  chilli, sliced
  • Button mushrooms, diced, 200 grams
  • Baby corn, sliced, 150 grams
  • Raw basmati rice, 100 grams
  • Chicken or vegetable stock, 250 ml
  • Soy sauce, according to taste
  • Bell peppers and spring onions/red onions, diced, a handful each
  • Thinly sliced ginger for garnish


  • Heat olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and chilli and sautee for 2 minutes.
  • Next, add the mushroom and babycorn and cook for 3-4 minutes more, allowing them to soften.
  • Add the stock, raw rice and soy sauce and bring everything to a boil.
  • Simmer on low heat for 25 mins, until rice is tender and the stock has been absorbed.
  • Add the diced peppers and onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds to a minute, until well incorporated.
  • Pull off the heat, garnish with ginger sticks and pack in your lunchbox!

(I just put mine in a bowl. You know, since I named it mushroom, baby corn & soy rice bowls.)

I added some ginger matchsticks to finish off

I added some ginger matchsticks to finish off

What kind of quick-fix one-pot meals do you like making?