Simple hacks to store bought spaghetti sauce makes this a sublime, satisfying meal. I had this first at a Telugu friend’s place – she tweaked a storebought ragu sauce with some Indian spices, and chili powder and I loved it. As a new immigrant who wasn’t used to eating sweetish tomato sauce with pasta, this made it very palatable. Not just palatable, but it became a family favorite, when I added some vegetables – fresh carrots, spinach, broccoli… Try it! It comes in handy on those busy nights, but you won’t feel guilty about opening a jar of store bought sauce.
It was the summer of ’91. I was fat with my first child. A couple of our friends from our former Indian company were visiting us in Indiana, and the 4 of us decided to go see another couple who worked with us in India, who then lived in St Louis. It was a roughly 300 mile drive, and it was hot, and I felt like a house with a furnace in it, but boy, was it fun! Our friends took us to the airshow in St Louis. It was there that I first had this strange dish. It was masala vadai, but not, wrapped in nan, but of course it wasn’t nan, filled with raita, and what the bloody hell, it was not raita! It was falafel, in spongy soft pita bread, surrounded by gooey labneh/tzatziki! I would have never thought of masal vadai, raita, and naan in the same breath, let alone put it all together in a plate. And yet, it tasted amazing. And today, I made all of them at home for my mahjong group. The pita bread turned out a bit too chewy and tough, so I will post that recipe after I have perfected it and am happy with the results. But following is the recipe for the falafel, and the two dips – tahini dip, and the yogurt sauce which I’ve heard called labneh or tzatziki sauce. Here goes…this lunch was a big hit with my mahjong girls!
Minestrone is an Italian soup made mostly with vegetables, stock, beans, and pasta. This is a lifesaver for vegetarians eating out, especially if you don’t do eggs – most restaurants make it with vegetable stock, but I always check to make sure it is not made with meat stock.
The soup is hearty, and very satisfying on a cold and blustery night. And it comes together beautifully with not much effort in about 30-45 minutes.