Whole Wheat Quesadilla


I hate to say this, but I have to admit that I always run out of lunch box ideas. The kids as they are, get bored very quickly with any dish that goes into their lunch box.

Did I say I hate? But I do love to think about food and the various options it has to offer. How about a dish from the Mexican cuisine, transformed into a simple lunch box idea? Nutritious and at the same time versatile and tasty too. The love-hate relationship with food will never end. At least for me!

My latest pick is the Whole Wheat Quesadilla.

This is what Wikipedia says “A quesadilla is a flour tortilla or a corn tortilla filled with a savory mixture containing cheese, other ingredients, and/or vegetables, then folded in half to form a half-moon shape”.

The curiosity starts with its name. It is pronounced as ‘cay-suh-dee-yuh ‘ with both the l’s silent. The tortillas (again pronounced ‘tor-tee-ya’) can be made with any flour (wheat or corn). You can choose to add any number of veggies and/or beans. To top it off, add cheese or paneer. Wow! How creative can it get?

I chose to make mine with regular rotis as tortillas (with whole wheat flour) and vegetables and cheese for the filling.

It’s already more than a week, the quesadillas have been going into their lunch boxes and they have asked me to make it for the next week too. I’m sure it’s a winner with my D&D. But if I follow their orders, they are sure to get bored with it soon. I have decided to make it as rare as possible so that this doesn’t happen.


For the dough

Whole wheat flour – 2 cups

Salt – to taste

Water – as required

Oil – 2 teaspoons

For the filling

Onions – 1 small (finely chopped)

Tomato – 1 medium (finely chopped)

Capsicum – 1 cup (finely chopped)

Carrot – 1 cup (finely chopped)

Cheese – 2 teaspoons (grated)

Salt – to taste

Oil – as required

Mix the flour, oil and salt. Add water gradually and make soft, non-sticky dough. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Sauté the vegetables with salt on a high flame (cooking veggies on an open pan on a high flame tends to retain their colour and crunch). You can choose to add your favourite spices, or if you want to stay true to the dish’s Mexican roots, add oregano and chilli flakes saved from your previous pizza order.

quesadilla veggies raw

quesadilla veggies saute

Take lemon sized balls from the dough and roll them out into thin rotis. Heat a non-stick pan / iron skillet. Toss the roti onto the hot pan and wait until bubbles appear on top. Turn the roti with hands/spatula and wait till the other side gets light brown spots. Now the roti is half done, if you want to make it puffy (like how I do), quickly toss it onto an open (high) flame and wait till it puffs up. Otherwise you can choose to smear some oil and continue cooking the roti on tawa till it gets golden brown spots. Now your tortilla is ready.

quesadilla roti raw

quesadilla roti

quesadilla roti ready

Keep the skillet with the prepared tortilla on a low flame and spread out the grated cheese on it. Wait for a few seconds until the cheese melts. Spread the prepared filling onto one half of the tortilla and fold it. Keep a heavy mug on top and roast it till crisp ensuring that the flame is low all through. Turn it gently and let the other side get crisp in the same way. Your quesadilla is ready! Cut it to your desired shape and am sure kids will drool over it.

quesadilla grated cheese

quesadilla cheese

quesadilla process

quesadilla 2

Know Your Ingredient

KYI whole wheat flour

Whole wheat flour is the powdered form of the whole grain of wheat. The term ‘whole’ means that the complete grain including the germ, bran and endosperm are included so that the nutrients are intact even after the process of grinding it into flour. On the other hand, in refined flours only the endosperm is used and that may also be bleached to attain a lighter shade. This is the flour normally used in breads, cakes and various other dishes. Using whole wheat makes a lot more sense (at least to me!) because of its nutritional advantage. It is a rich source of magnesium and various other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in insoluble fibre making it a healthier choice for people who keep a watch on their diet.

Roti is a staple food in most Indian homes. So it is best to buy the whole grain and grind it in a nearby flour mill. If you don’t have access to any flour mills like here in India, go ahead and buy whole wheat flour off the shelf. Just make sure it says 100% whole wheat (or some other term which means the same). Check the ingredient list to see if it contains whole wheat as the main ingredient. Never go by any other fancy term like stone-ground, enriched etc.

Type Grain
Form Powder
Storage Whole wheat flour can be stored in a clean and dry place for about a couple of months. It gets rancid quickly. If you need to store it for a longer time, keep in airtight packs and refrigerate or freeze up to a year.
Usage Always keep it moisture free.
Tips While making healthy choices for your family, replace or combine refined/all purpose flour with whole wheat flour in your recipes. Just ensure that you add more water and knead the dough for a longer time to make the dough nice, soft and light.

Milagu Vadai

(a special festival time recipe)

I just got back from a trip to Chennai. 10 days of rest, fun, and indulgence. But after just a few days, I was itching to do something and get back to the blog.

Incidentally, the day after I returned was Hanuman Jayanthi (Lord Hanuman’s birthday). It is a custom in the family to prepare Milagu Vadai on this day, and garland the Almighty with a string of these Vadais (a way of signifying that everything belongs to the Almighty).

Milagu Vadai is a very simple and flavourful snack. Make some and find out for yourself.

milagu vadai


Urad dal (Black gram) – 1 ½ cups

Black peppercorns (Milagu) – 2 teaspoons (or more, if you don’t mind the spiciness)

Salt – to taste

Hot oil – to mix with dough

Oil – for deep frying

Soften urad dal by soaking it for 15-20 minutes. Drain the water with a colander and spread it on a kitchen towel. The idea is to remove excess moisture and not completely dry the lentil. Add the pepper and salt and whip it in the mixer for a minute or two. The result will be a stiff, coarse dough.  Add hot oil to this mixture – this will make the resultant vadais crispy.

Spread a clean, wet cloth on an inverted plate. Take a small ball of the dough and lay it on the cloth. Using wet fingers, spread it by slowing applying pressure and making small circles over the ball. Make a hole in the centre using your index finger. Make 4 – 5 vadais this way, and again wetting your hands lightly, slide them gently on to your hands and drop them in the hot oil. Fry till golden brown. They tend to stick to one another while you drop them into the oil. Gently separate them using a flat spoon.

making of milagu vadai


I made four pieces in each batch. You can opt to ready the next batch while the first one is frying in the oil. String them up through the holes in the centre if you are planning to garland Hanumanji. If not, you can just enjoy them as a snack.

Milagu Vadai is a nutritious and interesting snack for kids. Once you get the hang of doing it, it is very easy to make.

Know Your Ingredient

This dish is called Milagu (Pepper) Vadai because of the distinctive flavour that black pepper lends to it. So I am giving the details of pepper in this post. The details of urad dal (black gram) will find its way here very soon.

Pepper or peppercorn is the fruit (you may call it a berry) of the pepper plant. It is referred to as the ’king of spice‘. It is often grown along with other plants as it is a climber variety which needs support to grow.

It might be interesting to note that black, green and white pepper are berries from the same plant but picked during various stages of ripening and processed differently.

The spice is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. It offers a very good home remedy for cough and cold, which I personally use for my kids. Freshly crushed pepper can be added to warm milk along with turmeric, and this mixture, if consumed at bedtime, controls cold and related ailments.

Type Berry
Form Dried
Storage Peppercorns (whole) can be stored in an airtight container for years.Its best to powder it as and when required.
Usage Best to use a dry spoon
Tips As much as possible, try to add pepper towards the end of the cooking process. Because pepper that’s cooked for too long tends to lose flavour.A pepper mill is a good investment as freshly ground pepper added to a dish lends a lot of flavour.

If buying pepper powder, store it in airtight containers in the refrigerator and use it at the earliest. It tends lose aroma if stored for a long time.

Buyer’s Guide Check to see that the peppercorns are somewhat heavy, uniform in colour, and free of blemishes.