Avocado Banana Chaat

I have wanted to try Rasika, an Indian restaurant in DC, for a while now. Friend after friend has told me how exquisite the food is, but it seemed that the timing was never right and somehow five years had flown by. So, for Mother’s Day I chose to have dinner there with my family and a dear friend.

We ordered several dishes to share, marveling at each one. One of our favorites was one of the appetizers, the avocado banana chaat, which had an incredible blend of sweet, sour, spicy, and cool tastes. I swore that I would go home and try to replicate it.

After a couple of tries, here is my take on the delightfully different dish. I added some crumbled tangy tomato banana chips that we found at our local Indian grocery store.


  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 banana
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind chutney
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • tangy tomato banana chips for garnish (optional)
  • paprika (optional)

In a medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork and squeeze the juice from half the lemon over it. In a smaller bowl, mix the tamarind chutney, cumin and cayenne pepper until well blended. Stir the tamarind chutney blend into the mashed banana. Cut the avocado into 1/2″ cubes and squeeze the juice from the remaining half lemon over it to preserve the color. Add the avocado to the banana-chutney mixture, tossing gently, making sure not to squish the avocado. Chill.

To serve, dish onto a plate and crumble some banana chips to give it crunch. You can also sprinkle some cayenne pepper or paprika on an around the chaat for color. Bon appetit!

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Strawberry Jam Made with Port Wine

It’s strawberry season at the farmers markets in my area. I look forward to this time of year, and always take full advantage of the abundance of this wonderful fruit. While we eat a lot of them fresh, I like to use them in a variety of recipes, including salads, soups, smoothies and more. This year, I decided to make jam, and since I love cooking with wine, I thought I would substitute port for the water in this super simple recipe.


  • 2 cups of cleaned, hulled, coarsely chopped strawberries (organic or local)
  • 1 cup of port wine
  • 1 cup of sugar (I used organic fair trade)
  • juice of 1 lemon

Place all of the ingredients in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to keep it from burning, and frequently scraping it from the sides of the pan.

Cook until thickened (about 30-40 minutes).

Pour into a clean container, and store in the refrigerator. Eat within 2 weeks (this should be absolutely no problem). Enjoy on toast, or as a glaze for meat dishes.

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Open Kitchen: Our newest brick and mortar friend!

I am always happy to discover new green businesses, and I love good food. So it was a great pleasure to discover Open Kitchen in Falls Church. I met owners Heu-Chan Karels and Holly Camelier at the Falls Church Holiday Craft Show in December. Their table was directly behind mine, and I had an opportunity to try out their focaccia, biscotti and cookies. In speaking with them, I discovered that our companies had similar goals — to create very high quality products, provide excellent service and be as green as possible while doing it (Open Kitchen is a certified Green Restaurant by Virginia Green).

After sampling their baked goods, and reading through their sample menu, I knew I had to try their bistro. And when I had the opportunity in January to try several items from the menu created by Chef Bernard, their resident food artist, I was sold. His baked pineapple carpaccio with ginger ice cream is the most exquisite dessert I’ve ever tasted!

In addition to the restaurant, Open Kitchen also offers catering services, cooking classes and timeshare kitchen space. I look forward to trying out their cooking classes, and have purchased a gift certificate for my husband to take one of their next men’s cooking classes.

They have it all! The front of their space also features a coffee and pastry takeout section, as well as a display with eco-friendly gifts, including Herban Lifestyle gift sets for men, women and babies!