Nilgiri’s Masala Dosai

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Peoples, this is really cool: I have Nilgiri’s masala dosai recipe for you, with courtesy of Ajoy Joshi. Ajoy was kind enough to give me permission to publish his own recipe here. Although we tried dosais at other restaurants including some authentic ones both in Australia and in India, we still think that Nilgiri’s dosais are the BEST. We love them so much even Dad started making them at home after taking one of Ajoy’s cooking classes a few years ago.

But first things first, let me begin by telling you what dosais are: They are thin, crisp on the outside, moist on the inside crepes made out of rice and black lentil flour. Although, there are some plain varieties, these ones are rolled and stuffed with spiced potatoes with mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves and traditionally served with sambhar (lentil broth) and coconut chutney.

It’s a lot of work to make dosais but if you think it’s too much hassle to make your own, masala dosai is on both Nilgiri’s and Tellicherry’s menus. For those of you who would like a little bit of challenge, here’s the recipes:


3 parts medium to coarse rice flour
1 part split black lentil flour
Water for the batter
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil (for vegan version) or Ghee (clarified butter), to pan-fry the dosai

• Mix the rice and lentil flours with just enough cold water to form o thick fine paste.
• Add salt to taste and leave the batter in a warm place overnight to ferment.
• Mix the batter thoroughly the next morning.
• Heat the griddle till it is hot.
• Pour a ladle of the batter in the centre of the griddle and spread evenly in concentric circles till it reaches the edges of the griddle.
• Baste the dosai with ghee or oil and cook on medium heat till the dosai is golden brown.
• Place a filling of your choice in the centre of the dosai and roll or fold as desired.
• Serve hot with fresh coconut chutney and sambhar.

Potato Pallya (Masala for Dosai)

20-25 ml vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp split chickpea lentils
1 tbsp split black lentils
4-5 whole dry red chillies
¼ tsp asafoetida powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
2 medium-sized onions, sliced
Salt to taste
1 kg potatoes, boiled, peeled and roughly mashed
½ bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped

• Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan.
• Add the black mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
• Immediately add the two lentils and cook on a medium heat stirring constantly, till the lentils turn a light golden in colour.
• Add the whole dry chillies and the asafoetida powder and cook for a few moments.
• Add the turmeric powder and the fresh curry leaves and cook for a few moments.
• Add the sliced onions and salt and cook till the onions turn translucent.
• Add the roughly mashed potatoes and mix well.
• Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes and check the seasoning.
• Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and use as a filling in the ‘Masala Dosai’.


300 gr yellow lentils or toor dal
1 tsp turmeric
500 gr tomatoes, quartered
3 medium-sized onions, diced
2 tbsp Nilgiri’s Sambhar Powder
½ tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Salt to taste
½ bunch Fresh coriander leaves, chopped

• Cook the lentils with the turmeric in approximately 2 litres of water till soft and mushy.
• Add the tomatoes and the onions and cook further till they are soft.
• Add Nilgiri’s Sambhar Powder, tamarind concentrate, fresh curry leaves and salt to taste and bring to a boil.
• Check the seasoning, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot.

Wellbean Instant Soup Series

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During one of the Cruelty Free Festivals, someone from one of those stalls gave me a sachet of instant soup to try at home. It was Pumpkin Mushroom Soup. And I did try it; it wasn’t too bad. I thought I would mention the company here. Anything to make a vegetarian/vegan life easier is welcomed here.

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Apart from Pumpkin Mushroom Soup they have 3 more vegan varieties:
Instant Pumpkin Soy Milk
Instant Sweet Potato Soy Milk
Instant Pumpkin Mushroom Soup with Black Pepper

And Italian Style Tomato Soup is the only vegetarian one.

Instant soups are not my cup of soup but it might be yours and you can order online. They deliver too.

Nilgiri’s Sunday Buffet

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Let me tell you, Nilgiri’s Sunday Buffet is another kind of feast. Every Sunday this all-you-can-eat buffet serves an incredible variety of dishes. Some of the foods are like breads and masala dosai are even cooked in front of you. Especially those flying rotis are a must see when they happen.

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Menu for Sunday Buffet changes every month, focusing on a different region, community or different style of cooking. It is an incredible opportunity to try interesting dishes. However, sometimes the theme is based on a traditional festival, like Diwali (the festival of lights).

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Prices for Sunday Buffet:
$37.50 per adult
$3.00 per year of child for children between 3 & 11 years of age (both inclusive)
Children under three years are free.

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Diwali desserts from Nilgiri’s.

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Fully licenced and BYO (bottled wine only)
Address: 82 Christie Street St Leonards 2065 NSW
Phone: (02) 9966 0636

Kinda Bacon

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Kinda Bacon is an Australian made vegan and gluten free product. It is made out of organic coconut with smoky and salty notes. As for the texture; crispy comes to mind. It kind of works as a flavour enhancer when added to dishes.

• Organic coconut flakes
• Tamari
• All natural liquid smoke (natural hickory smoke)
• Salt
• Pepper
• Spices

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Where to Use
• Sprinkle it on salads (potato salad is the best for this but any fresh salad would get the benefit too)
• Great as a pizza topping (just burry Kinda Bacon into your cheese and bake)
• Sprinkle on baked or jacket potatoes.
• Use it in savoury muffins.
• Great addition to any omelette mixture.

Price: A$ 12.75

Where to Buy
Full list of stockists can be found here.

Breaded Cauliflower with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Chilli Dressing

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Can deep fried food be light and fluffy? With the help of right ingredients, the answer is yes. The “right” ingredients here are lemon juice and Pellegrino. Somehow, they add this lightness to a breaded and deep fried cauliflower or any other vegetable without the unbearableness. I hope you know which book/movie I’m referring to…

This recipe is originally vegetarian and it has become one of Dad’s favourite dishes during his trip to Sydney. The trick here is adding lemon juice to boiling water to blanch the cauliflower. This way, you don’t stink up the kitchen with that sulphurous smell and you keep their white colour white, too.

Here’s the recipe:

Breaded Cauliflower with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Chilli Dressing

1 medium sized cauliflower, broken into florets
Juice of ½ lemon
Sunflower oil for deep-frying

2 eggs, beaten
½ cup Pellegrino
1 tbsp lemon juice
¾ cup plain flour
Bread crumbs (I use a Jewish brand which is the best I’ve tried so far: Solomon)
Salt and pepper

Garlic Yoghurt:
250 grams plain yoghurt (Greek style)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
A little water in case yoghurt is too thick

Burnt Chilli Dressing:
15 grams butter
1 tsp dried chilli flakes

• Wash the cauliflower and break it into florets.
• Boil enough water. Add juice of ½ lemon. Drop the cauliflowers into the water and blanch for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop them from further cooking. Drain again and set aside.
• Heat the oil to 180 degrees C.
• To make the batter: mix together the flour, beaten eggs, lemon juice and Pellegrino. Season with salt and pepper and whisk until it is smooth.
• To make garlic yoghurt: mix together crushed garlic and yoghurt and add water if necessary (it should be runny but not too watery). Set aside.
• Drop blanched florets into batter first. Allow any excess to drip off and then roll into bread crumbs.
• Deep fry all of the breaded cauliflower until golden brown and place on a large flat plate lined with kitchen paper. This’ll absorb excess oil.
• Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan and add the chilli flakes. Heat it until it is slightly smoky.
• Arrange deep-fried cauliflowers on a serving plate. Cover with garlic yoghurt and drizzle with burnt butter.
• Serve warm.

Tellicherry ‘Coastal Eats by Nilgiri’s’ Neutral Bay, Sydney


Named after famous Tellicherry pepper, this tiny little boutique place is actually Nilgiri’s sister restaurant. When Ajoy told us he was planning on opening a new, boutique restaurant in Sydney we were absolutely overjoyed. As we all know, if Ajoy does it, he does it spectacularly. What we didn’t know at the time, though, that it was going to be just around the corner from us!

This time around it’s coastal Indian food. Our first impression: all fish and seafood, not for us. But, that’s not the case at all. Especially, when it comes to vegetarian and vegan food. Tellicherry actually has some interesting and authentic dishes on their menu. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are marked with a V or a VG. Original names are used along with their descriptions in English. We so love the place, we bought the same plates for our home!

We were, of course, invited to Tellicherry’s opening night and here’s what we had:

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Cocktail Sanaas (above) steamed rice dumplings, coconut & coriander dust, tomato rasam.

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Kaaju Parippu Vade (above) cashew, ground chickpea, cumin and coriander fritters.

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Gobhi Kempe Bezule (above) batter fried cauliflower, black mustard tempered yoghurt.

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Brinjal Aviyal (above) stuffed baby eggplant in seasoned yoghurt with mustard and curryleaf ‘baghaar’

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Ladyfinger Ambotik (above) okra in a sweet, sour and hot ‘chutney’

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Sago Pradhaman with dryfruit (above)

Shop No 4, 260 Military Road, Neutral Bay 2089
Phone: (02) 9953 7313
For bookings:

Thai Chilli & Lime Cakes from Sanitarium


These have been sitting in my freezer for quite some time and I’ve almost forgotten about them until it was time to clean my freezer. As you may know, Sanitarium now has a bunch of new products along with revamped (new packaging) old time favourites. I was a bit reluctant to try Thai Chilli & Lime Cakes as we didn’t like Cajun Schnitzels from the “New” product line very much (they were incredibly dry) but these goodies turned out to be quite moist and flavoursome. They may be quite processed but they’re also fortified with B12, iron and zinc.

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Ingredients: Water, vegetable protein (16%) (soy protein, pea protein, soybean meal, wheat gluten), vegetables (potato, onion, shallots, red capsicum), vegetable oils (sunola, canola), breadcrumbs (wheat flour, salt, yeast, wheat gluten, sugar, canola oil), oats, Thai kaffir lime seasoning [dehydrated vegetables, hydrolysed vegetable protein, parsley, chilli, natural flavour, lime spice extract, natural colour (beetroot)], flavours, starch (potato, wheat), vegetable gum (carrageenan), reconstituted lime juice (0.4%), salt, mineral salt (potassium chloride), minerals (zinc, iron), vitamin B12.

How to cook
Pre heat oven to 180°C. Place Thai Chilli & Lime Cakes on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Cook for 18 – 20 mins; turn them over mid-way through cooking.

Stove top: Place Thai Chilli & Lime Cakes in a shallow pan with vegetable oil and cook on the stove top until crisp and golden, turn and cook the other side until it is also golden.

Note: overcooking dries and toughens.

Here’s how I cooked them: Line them on a non-stick baking tray and cook them at 180 degrees with fan on for 20 minutes. Half-way through turn them over and serve them with Thai chilli sauce.

To Store: Keep frozen at or below -18°C. Do not refreeze.

Where to buy: Coles and IGA

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin


I must admit, the title put me off all this time. I thought it was incredibly common, classless and inappropriate. However, at the end of the day, I’m a clinical nutritionist and I should be reading pretty much anything that is ever written on the subject of eating right. So I decided to read it regardless and here’s what I think:

The book has some solid information –an eye-opener for a lot people especially if they are new to the subject –and nutritional information is presented in an easy, digestible form that anyone can understand. Everything is well referenced which is very important especially if you want to be taken seriously within the field. However, the execution of it, the language the authors use is just foul. On the back cover they say they are your “smart-mothed girlfriends” I think what they should’ve said “foul-mouthed girlfriends” instead. Here’s an example from the book:

“Do not be lulled into a false sense of security that our government keeps food safe. News of the avian influenza epidemic came and went, but the disease is very real and can run rampant in poultry flocks. And according to a survey by the National Research Council, one chicken processing plant had 90 percent of its poultry contaminated with salmonellosis. Ninety fucking percent! Nasty.”

See what I mean?

Masterfoods Tartare Sauce

I actually have a very good tartare sauce recipe but you should see the list of ingredients. Sometimes, you just want someone else to do the work for you. When that time comes, Masterfoods Tartare Sauce is the right stuff for you. It is, believe it or not, vegan. Well, accidentally, not intentionally but you can’t tell it’s not working vegetarians and vegans.


Mayonnaise 89% (Vegetable Oil, Water, Sugar, Salt, Thickener (Modified Cornstarch), Acidity Regulators (Acetic & Citric Acids)), Onion, Gherkins 3.5%, Capers 2%, Capsicum 0.5%, Herb & Spice Extracts, Natural Colour (Paprika Oleoresin), Garlic Extract.

Where to use
Tartare sauce goes well with any faux-fish and seafood situation like fish and chips, Just Green Fish Burgers or Just Green Calamari, prawn salad or even with just a plate of crudites.

Where to Buy
The Cruelty Free Shop
Woolworths and other mainstream supermarkets

Bubble of My Soul Koftas

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I can hear you all going “Bubble of what?” so let me explain: I have a secret cooking ritual I perform from Monday till Friday, pretty much every week. I’m not going into details here because it’s personal but a part of it is shareable. OK, I put music on before I start cooking. My hair goes up, I have a glass of wine or Mojito if I have lime and fresh mint. And I sing along. I’m going to have to censor myself here; what follows is kind of private but cooking and creating part isn’t. If I come up with a new dish or successfully convert one, at that very moment, the song that is playing will definitely share the same name as my dish. No song at the time of creation? Then it’ll be the book that I’m reading at the time. Remember Sister of My Heart?

Who do I listen? Toto and individual work of Toto members. Because of that reason, so far I’ve been through some “Ever Changing Times”, I “Transition”ed for awhile, “Vertigo”ed myself at some stage and even faced “Protocol II” but mostly I was “Falling in Between”.

Back to the bubbles… The day I converted traditional Turkish koftas into these vegetarian ones, I was listening to Toto’s track Bottom of My Soul. With a difference though. While Steve Lukather was singing the song, the excited me in the kitchen hearing it all Bubble of my Soul instead of Bottom of My Soul! The name kind of stuck as you can imagine.

Recipe Notes:
• Kofta mixture below makes quite a lot of koftas and it would be advisable to freeze some of that. Just remember to line each layer with a sheet of plastic bag. I cut supermarket ones to size. It just works. You could also put them in spate zip lock bags.
• These koftas can be baked or grilled if you would like to cut down on oil. Arrange the koftas on an oven tray, brush them with oil and bake them for 20 minutes.

Ingredients for these Bubbles:
2/3 tin Sanitarium Nutmeat, grated
1 cup cooked brown rice or fine bulghur (soaked in hot water)
1 onion, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed (minced)
A handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
2 teaspoon kofte bahari (Turkish kofta mixture)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for frying

To serve:
Potato chips
Grilled peppers (banana chillies are the best and the most authentic)
Grilled tomatoes
Red cabbage salad

To make the koftas:
• Mix together Sanitarium Nutmeat, brown rice, chopped onion, garlic, vegetable oil, kofte bahari, ground cumin, parsley, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Knead the mixture for about 5 minutes. Cover the mixing bowl with cling film and place it in your fridge. The longer the better.
• Take the mixture out of the fridge. Get a little bowl of water ready. Dip your hands, one by one, into this bowl of water. Take a handful of the mixture and roll it into a ball first, then sightly flatten with your hand. I like mine slightly oval, by the way –as seen in the photo. Continue with this procedure until all the mixture is shaped up in the same way.

To fry the Koftas:
• Heat a reasonable amount of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the koftas on both sides and drain on paper towel.

To serve:
• Serve warm with potato chips, grilled peppers and tomato halves and red cabbage salad.

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