Every Saturday I look forward to brunch to kick start my lazy weekend. On weekday, breakfast is typically rushed with cereal, bagels or fruit. Saturday Brunch, on the other hand, is a special meal for celebration, fun or social event. Brunch is typically an elaborate display of eggs, bacon, sausages and fruits. I have given a vegetarian twist to the typical brunch menu and sprinkled it generously with spices and herbs.

Grilled cheese sandwiches

As a child, I would often grill sandwiches with savory potato filling instead of cheese. The potato was spiked with green chilies, garlic and lots of green onion. I enjoyed those sandwiches with tomato ketchup.

My children, raised in US, are die-hard fans of grilled cheese sandwiches. I have found this compromise with grilled cheese and potato sandwiches

2 medium size potatoes ( baked, peeled and grated)
1 teaspoon oil
1-2 green chilies, chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves (peeled and grated)
2 bunches of green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (or as per taste)
1 cup cheese, grated
8 slices bread

In a pan, heat oil. Add chilies and garlic cloves. Stir for a minute and then add potatoes, green onion, salt, sugar and lime juice. Mix well for 2 minutes and remove from heat.

On a slice of bread spread 2 tablespoon of potato mix and 1 tablespoon of cheese. Cover it with another slice and grill it to golden brown. Serve piping hot with tomato ketchup.

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Tofu Scramble

When I was in the fifth grade, I had a friend who would get two slices of bread with egg scramble filling. Those days, I disliked the smell of cooked eggs. I used to always wonder how my friend's scrambled eggs had no eggy smell to it. Finally I found out that the filling was not eggs but paneer, a homemade Indian cheese. Tofu, which is available in all grocery stores, is very similar to paneer. Here is my version of eggless scramble.

1 16 oz tofu packet, regular ( extra firm)
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1-2 green chilies ( as per taste)
1 onion
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cilantro
Salt to taste

Open the tofu packet and drain away the water. Rinse it under water , crumble with your hands and keep aside.

In a thick bottom pan, heat oil. Add cumin seeds and wait till it sizzles. Add chilies and onion. Stir and cook it for 2-3 minutes. Throw in the turmeric powder and mix. Finally add the tofu, lime juice, salt, sugar, and cilantro. Serve piping hot with bread and ketchup.

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Cream of wheat pudding

Cream of wheat is used extensively in Indian cuisine. It can be transformed into savory dishes with spices, herbs and vegetables. For special occasions like weddings and festivals, a dessert with sugar, saffron and nuts is used. Every region in India has its unique way of making this dish. My cousin was married in the southern Indian city, Bangalore. In his wedding, I tasted the most delicious cream of wheat pudding -- it had pineapple cooked into it.
The flavor of pineapple marries well with the pudding.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup cream of wheat
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh pineapple
2 cups water
¼ teaspoon salt

Heat butter in a thick-bottom pan. Add cream of wheat and stir fry for 10 minutes.

In a pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Slowly add the cream of wheat and stir for a minute. Cover with a lid and keep it for 5 minutes on low heat.
Add sugar and pineapple and salt. Mix well for 2 minutes and cover it for 5 minutes on low heat.

Finally stir the mix well for 5 minutes on low heat and serve piping hot.

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