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Chickenless Chicken Scratch

So -- what recipe to make for this post? Tough one. I thought of a Madonna tie-in. You can find anything on the internet, so I did a quick Google search -- typing in Madonna’s favorite food. Someone responded, “The tears of small children.” I like this a lot, but it does not lend itself to a recipe. Someone else responded, “Salmon.” Gosh, no thanks. I went back to thinking chickens, Chicken Scratch, Rice Krispies. Eureka. What follows is a very easy and healthier-than-usual version of bhel puri, the classic Indian snack, made with puffed rice and veggies.


  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried coconut
  • 1/2 cabbage or about 4 cups, shredded
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots or about 2-1/2 cups, shredded
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 cups puffed rice available at Indian markets
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind chutney
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt to taste


  • Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add mustard seeds. Cover with lid and cook until the mustard seeds pop, about a minute. Remove lid, lower the heat to medium and add cumin and turmeric and dried coconut, stirring for another minute, or until mixture becomes fragrant.
  • Using a food processer, shred onion, cabbage and carrots as if you were making cole slaw. Add confetti of vegetables to skillet and stir together over medium heat. Mince jalapeno and slice red pepper into skinny strips. Dice tomato. Add peppers and tomato to skillet and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.
  • Squeeze in lemon juice, gently fold in chutney, puffed rice, peanuts and chopped coriander. Salt to taste.