Thursday, August 16, 2018

Veggie Ceviche! (Vegan Tofu/Veggie Salad)

Veggie Ceviche is an amazing recipe if I say so myself! You have to taste it's limey, cilantro goodness to see how delicious it is. The tofu truly gets so flavorful that one can eat a whole bowlful even without any of the additional ingredients - yes, I did exactly that!

There are 3 ways to make this ceviche; with tofu, cauliflower (raw or cooked until just tender), or hearts or palm - all equally delicious. This ceviche is an easy make ahead recipe and a great addition to the appetizer/starter, lunch, or a light meal repertoire.

NOTES:

Fresh limes work the best for this recipe; let the limes warm up to room temperature if chilled. If the lime is not juicy, or they are small, you may need more limes.

The tofu/veggies may be marinated up to a day in advance. To insure fresh taste and flavor, add the tomato and cucumber no more than about an hour or two before serving.

Jalapeño chiles maybe cored for a mild ceviche; leave cores in for more spice.

If fresh corn is not an option, frozen corn kernels maybe used; cook in a hot pan until slightly caramelized, cool, and then add to ceviche.

Ceviche maybe served in many ways; one of our favorite way is to let everyone pile it on small romaine/endive leaves or warm corn tortillas. It maybe spooned onto tostada shells also.

About 4-5 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 block Firm Tofu (14 oz), cut into 1/4" cubes 
1 clove fresh Garlic
1 small Red Onion, finely diced
2 Roma/Cherry Tomatoes, diced small
2 Persian Cucumbers, diced
2 Corn on the cob, grilled and cut off the cob
1-2 Jalapeño chiles, cored and minced
2-3 large Limes, juiced
1 large bunch Cilantro, finely chopped, divided
1 tsp Salt, divided
1/2 Mandarin/Regular Orange, sliced (optional)
1-2 Avocadoes, diced
1/2 cup Green Olives, sliced (optional)

To Serve:
Lime wedges
Hot Sauce (Mexican type)
Romaine/Endive leaves
Corn Tortillas (warmed)
Tortilla Chips/Tostada Shells

METHOD:

Drain the tofu thoroughly and rub with a couple of pinches of salt, wrap in toweling, weight down, and drain. Blot well and cut into cubes.

Pound together using a mortar and pestle or pulverize using a food processor, half the cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, and half the jalapeño chile.

Combine Tofu, the pounded cilantro mixture in a non-reactive bowl (glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl), and the juice from one lime; mix well. Place the tofu mixture in a ziptop bag, flatten the bag gently so the tofu is in one layer and there is enough juices to coat all the cubes. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

In a large non-reactive bowl, mix together the tomatoes, cucumbers, corn kernels, rest of the green chiles, cilantro, the juice from one lime, and the olives if using. Stir in the tofu and season with salt to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon or so. Add the mandarin/orange if using, to the ceviche and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours if not serving immediately.

Just before serving, gently stir in the diced avocado. Taste and add more lime juice as needed.

Serve with chips, tostada shells, tortillas, romaine and/or endive. Pass the hot sauce and lime wedges.

Enjoy!!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin (Roasted Cauliflower Casserole)

Here is a delightful rib-sticking versatile dish that might evoke memories of Mac & Cheese especially if you choose golden potatoes although any type will work! Do serve the gratin over the greens not just for the added nutrition but also for the lovely taste. Another fabulous gratin to add to the repertoire just like this one.

As it works well to make ahead, it is great to just bake and serve! Cauliflower, grains/potatoes, topping, etc maybe prepared ahead also and then assembed and reserved until baking and serving.

If you choose potatoes, they maybe roasted along with the cauliflower. I love to add carrots and/or peas often also. 

6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER:

1 Medium Cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

GRAINS/POTATO: - Choose your favorite

2 cups dry Whole Grains/Potato, cooked

STEEPED MILK:

2½ cups any Non-Dairy Milk
5 sprigs EACH: Italian Parsley, Thyme, and Marjoram + extra for the gratin
1 Tbsp Crushed Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp Whole Black Pepper, cracked
1/4 tsp Salt

GRATIN:

1 Onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp Rice flour
½ cup Nutritional Yeast
¼ tsp ground Nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp Mixed Herbs (same as above), finely minced

TOPPING:

½ cup Rice Cracker/Gluten free Pretzel crumbs
¼ cup toasted Nuts/Seeds of your choice

TO SERVE:

8-9 Cups Arugula, Baby Spinach, OR Mixed Greens

METHOD:

1. MAKE THE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the  season with salt and pepper. Pour into an even layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast until tender and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. COOKED GRAINS/POTATO: Choose which you would like - grains or potato. Cook the grains as usual if that is the choice. If your choice is potato, cut the potato into short but sticks and cook them or roast with the cauliflower.

3. Make the STEEPED MILK: combine the milk, herb sprigs, black pepper, and crushed fennel seeds.

Warm the milk until very hot; steep for 10 minutes on low heat. Strain, discard the herb-spice solids, and season the steeped milk with the salt.

4. MAKE THE GRATIN: Heat a large pot over medium heat, the flour to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes until toasted. Pour out onto a plate.

5. Add the onion with a little water to the same hot pot and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Mix in the toasted flour. Add the steeped milk gradually, whisking to incorporate. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until it thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

6. Stir in the minced herbs, nutritional yeast, the cauliflower, and the cooked grains/potatoes, season generously with pepper, salt to taste, and mix thoroughly.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish in Step 1. (The recipe can be made ahead up to this point and reserved in the refrigerator until ready to bake and serve.)

8. MAKE THE TOPPING: In a medium bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Sprinkle it in an even layer over the cauliflower mixture when ready to bake.

9. BAKE: at 375°F until the gratin is bubbly and has thickened slightly, about 30 minutes (add 10-20 minutes more to baking time if refrigerated).

10. SERVE: Place about 1 - 1 1/2 cups of the greens on each plate and place the hot gratin on top. Serve hot immediately.

Enjoy!!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mexican-Style Many-Layer-Dip With Homemade Chips

Many-Layer Dip
Colorful, delicious, guilt-free Mexican-Style Many-Layer-Dip, irresistible with the cahew/tofu “cream”, and served with homemade chips or tortillas, is a delightful dish for a few or a crowd. Choose cashews or tofu to make the "cream". I call this Many-Layer-Dip since it has many lovely layers contributing great taste, colors, flavors, fiber, and amazing nutrition. Choose to include all the ingredients, a few only, or add even more - this recipe is very adaptable.

Assemble the Many-Layer-Dip no more than 2-3 hours ahead if you want to keep it looking pretty. Although it will still be fine in taste and safe to eat after that time, some of the the layers will not stay distinct as some of the juicy layers start to mix with those next to them.

The avocado stays nice and green without oxidizing as it is well ensconced without exposure to air. No air = no oxygen = no oxidation! :D

NOTES:

It is very easy to prepare freshly cooked beans; check this post on cooking beans. Or use canned beans for ease of prep - I think one 15 oz can should do it.

If not using the chipotle chile, add a pinch of cayenne to the cream.

Another fabulous topping for the layered dip is Tzatziki! I happened to have tzatziki handy so used it instead of the "cream" and it was truly delicious!

I often serve the Dip with warm corn tortillas; sometimes turning on the oven on a hot summer day is just unthinkable as well as unbearable! Tear out a piece of tortilla and top it with a scoop of  dip! Keep a spoon handy to load portions of the dip on to the tortillas. Yum!

8 Appetizer Servings

INGREDIENTS:

CHIPS:

8 corn tortillas, cut into wedges
1/2 Lime/Lemon
1-2 pinches Salt
1-2 pinches ground Chile/ Cayenne (optional)

CASHEW/TOFU CREAM:

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked OR ½ (14-ounce) package firm silken tofu, drained
2 tablespoons fresh Lime/Lemon juice or to taste
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce + 1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce (optional)
Salt to taste

BEANS:

1½ - 2 cups Cooked, mashed Pinto/Black beans OR One 15oz can refried
1 big pinch Garlic powder
1 big pinch ground Cumin
1 big pinch dried Oregano

AVOCADO: make guacamole or dice small


1 avocado, diced
2 Tbsp Red Onion, minced
jalapeño, cored and minced (optional)
1 small clove Garlic, mashed (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Fresh Lime juice to taste

MANY LAYER DIP:

1 cup fresh corn kernels OR or frozen, thawed
1 cup Salsa, homemade or purchased
1-2 cups Romaine lettuce, finely chopped 
2 Scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
1 small Red Onion, finely chopped, divded (2 Tbsp for the Avocado)
1-2 Tomatoes, seeds drained, diced  small
3-4 Tbsp fresh  Cilantro, finely chopped
½ cup Black Olives, thinly sliced 

OPTIONAL  EXTRAS:

Endive/Romaine heart leaves
Radish slices

METHOD:

Make Tortilla Chips: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub the tortillas with a little lime/lemon, sprinkle the salt and chile if using. Cut the tortillas into 6-8 wedges, place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake until crisp, about 20 minutes.

Prepare Cashew/Tofu Sour Cream: combine the drained Cashew/Tofu, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using) in a blender carafe; season with salt to taste. Purée until smooth. Chill the “sour cream” until ready to use.

Beans: Combine the mashed/canned beans, garlic powder, cumin, and oregano in a saucepan and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if needed to help combine canned beans. Let cool.

Avocado: Prep this just before layering; mix the avocado with the rest of the guac ingredients - leave it chunky or mash coarsely as you wish.

Assemble the Dip: Spread the beans on the bottom of a glass serving dish. Layer the avocado over the bean layer. Top with the salsa, followed by the scallions, lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, corn, and cashew/tofu sour cream in this or any other order you like keeping the layers even and neat. 

Sprinkle with the cilantro, scatter sliced olives on top, and serve immediately or chill in the fridge for up to 2-3 hours. 

Serve with the tortilla chips, endive/roamine leaves, radish and jicama slices, and more salsa.

Buen Provecho!!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Zucchini Pachadi/Raita With Onions & Tomatoes (Non-Dairy Vegetable Salad)

Zucchini Pachadi/Raita
Zucchini Pachadi/Raita is absolutely delicious and is never watery like those one might encounter usually or at most restaurants. Zucchinis are our vegetables of choice for making raita/pachadi ever since Amma used them brilliantly instead of the ubiquitous cucumbers! This is how Amma made it but for the dairy yogurt and oil in the talippu; I only made it non-dairy and with no added oils - so it is a slight make-over of the original classic Pachadi/Raita.

Zucchinis are sturdier veggies and not as juicy as cucumbers even though they are both part of the cucurbit family. We do love cucumbers too - just not in our raita! Another great recipe where the tender zucchinis can shine and a fabulous way to use up the abundant crop from the exuberant plants in your garden - those who grow them can attest to the generosity of these plants :D.

This raita also makes a wonderful starter/appetizer by itself or paired with warm Roti (Indian whole wheat tortillas), fried or roasted papadams, and/or your favorite chips.

NOTE:

Any non-dairy yogurt will work; use a plain unsweetened and unflavored non-dairy yogurt such as cashew, almond, or coconut milk yogurt. We love cashew/tofu yogurt too; the recipe is given below. Finely mince the coconut with the chiles (or grind without adding any water (can use a little of the yogurt) in a blender and proceed with the rest of the directions. Lime/lemon juice may not be depending on the yogurt.

Non-Dairy Cashew/Tofu Yogurt:

1 cup raw Cashews soaked OR 1 block of soft/firm Tofu (14 oz)
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime/lemon, or to taste
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup Unflavored Almond/Soy/Coconut Milk/Water

Place the drained cashews/tofu in a blender along with as much of the milk/water as needed to blend easily(use a little at a time), coconut, green chillies, lime/lemon, and salt to taste. Blend until smooth like yogurt. Remove the cashew/tofu yogurt to a large bowl. 

Ingredients:

2 large but tender Zucchini
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 small Red Onion, finely chopped
1 small bunch Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
Non-Dairy Yogurt OR Tofu Yogurt (see notes)
2 Tablespoons finely grated Fresh or frozen Coconut
1 green Chile, cored
Salt to taste

Tadka/Thalippu:

1/4 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 tsp split skinless Urad Dal
1 tiny pinch Asafoetida (optional)
1 sprig Fresh Curry Leaves, minced
1 Tsp Fresh Ginger, finely grated
1 Serrano/Jalapeno or other green Chile, cored and minced

Method:

Place the  coconut and green chiles in a blender along with a little yogurt as needed to blend easily (use a little at a time). Blend until smooth like yogurt. Scrape  into a large bowl. Add the rest of the yogurt.

Wash and grate the zucchinis; squeeze them and discard the juices or save it for additing to another dish or broth. The zucchinis need not be squeezed dry; just remove some of the excess moisture. Add zucchini to the bowl with the yogurt.

Wash, deseed, and chop the tomatoes. Add to the bowl along with the onions and cilantro. Add a little salt to taste but not too much; raita should be sweet and not too salty.

Make the tadka/thalippu: heat a small pan and add the mustard and dal. When mustard seeds subside popping and dancing, add asafoetida, curry leaves, ginger and green chile with a spoonful of water; cover and cook for a couple of minutes to soften the ginger and chile, let cool a little and pour over the raita and mix well. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve as a salad, starter, or with any rice dish, Roti or Naan, curries/dal, DosaAdai and/or Upma. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

QUICK THAI RED CURRY/SOUP WITH NOODLES & VEGGIES

Thai Red Curry/Soup is a quick, easy, and deliciously satisfying dish to prepare especially on weeknights. The veggies and noodles maybe prepped ahead of time so cooking is a breeze at the last minute.

I tpically use onions, mushrooms, broccoli, bok choi or chard, snowpeas/snap peas, carrots, cabbage, beansprouts, etc. but you can use your own favorite combination of veggies.

NOTES:

I usually limit the amount of coconut milk to half a can to avoid adding too much fat to the curry; add more according to your preference.
A pinch or two of curry powder or cayenne maybe added to make this curry/soup a bit more spicy. 
Frozen mixed veggies maybe used instead of the fresh.
A handful of fresh Basil or Mint leaves, torn maybe stirred into the curry/soup for a delightful varaiation instead of the coriander (cilantro).

4-5 Servings

INGREDIENTS

1 Block Firm Tofu (14-16 oz), drained thoroughly and cubed
1 - 1 1/2 lbs Total, mixed vegetables (see suggestions above)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2-4 Tbsp Vegetarian Thai Red Curry Paste, to taste
1/2 - 1 can (15 oz) Coconut Milk
4 oz dry Rice Noodles, cooked
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Toppings:

2 Tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
4 Green Onions, sliced finely

METHOD:

Heat a large wok, wide pan, or deep enough skillet, and steam the vegetables with the turmeric, a pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of water for about a few minutes - just until green veggies are bright green and all the veggies slightly softened but still crisp. Turn out into a bowl and reserve.

To the same pan, add the curry paste to taste depending on how spicy you like, the coconut milk, and 2 cups of water; mix well and bring to a simmer. Slide the tofu cubes in, turn to coat with the curry, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add a little more water if you like lots of broth or keep it thick to your desired consistency.

Add and the cooked  noodles and vegetables; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over low to medium heat for a few more minutes to heat through, simmering very gently, until the curry/soup is hot.

Top with the chopped coriander and green onions and serve hot. Enjoy!!

Hema's Masala Gud, Original & Makeovers (Digestive Indian Nut & Seed Bar With Spices)

Jaggery-sweetened treats are enjoyed all over India but Masala Gud or Gur is particularly enjoyed during the cold winter months in the North. It is considered warming and helpful for digestion with not only the warming jaggery but also all the spices. Instead of the after-meal mint, offer these for a little treat with some health benefits.

Masala Gud is very rich with the medicinal seeds and spices; chew well to enjoy and get the benefits of all the seeds!

Masala Gud is quite delicious. Hema told me that she made it one evening and left it to cool and set for the next day. She woke up around midnight by some strange noises to find her husband munching away! He couldn't resist the aroma of the cooling masala gud and didn't want to wait :D.

Hema's Original Recipe:
Hema's Original Masala Gud
Ingredients:
1 kg Jaggery (gud) crushed
2 Tbsp Fennel seeds
1 Tbsp Ajwain seeds
1 Tbsp Cumin seeds
1 Tbsp ground dry Ginger
1 tsp ground Cardamom Seeds
3 Tbsp Ghee
1 1/2 cups mixed Nuts ( peanuts, cashews, almonds etc) lightly roasted
1 Tbsp roasted Sesame seeds

Method:

Heat ghee in a thick bottom vessel n add gud. Keep stirring till it becomes liquid.

You can dryroast the fennel, ajwain, and cumin lightly over low heat for a few seconds, crush them coarsely or keep them raw and whole. 

Add the seeds along with the ground spices to the melted jaggery. Mix well, add the nuts and keep heating and stirring for 2 minutes.

Pour the masala gud into a greased plate. Cut while warm, let cool completely, and keep in an airtight container when cool.

Enjoy after meals.

Makeover I - No Ghee, Less Fat  
Makeover I Masala Gud

I added all the nuts plus extra sesame to 500 g of gud and 1 T coconut oil. Included some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sunflower seeds in the nut mix - delicious. I think more ginger and cardamom would be nice plus even more nuts as it comes out very sweet!

Ingredients:
1/2 kg Jaggery (gud) crushed
2 Tbsp Fennel seeds
1 Tbsp Ajwain seeds
1 Tbsp Cumin seeds
2 Tbsp ground dry Ginger
2 tsp ground Cardamom Seeds
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
2 cups mixed Nuts ( peanuts, cashews, almonds etc) lightly roasted
1/2 cup roasted Sesame seeds (I used both black and white)

Method:

Follow the procedure in the original Masala Gud.

Makeover II - All Natural, No Added Sugars/Fats 

I am calling this Masala Date Bites! This no-cook one uses dates instead of the Jaggery. I used cashews, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds); other nuts or seeds maybe added also.

Masala Date Bites


Ingredients:

1 cup dates, pitted
1 tbsp almond butter (optional)
1 Tbsp ground dry Ginger
1 tsp ground Cardamom Seeds
2 Tbsp roasted Flax seeds, ground
1 Tbsp Fennel seeds
1-2 Tsp Ajwain seeds
2 Tsp Cumin seeds
1 1/2 Cups Mixed Nuts and Seeds
1/4 cup roasted Sesame seeds

Method:

Dry toast all the nuts and whole seeds lightly; the cumin, fennel and ajwain maybe left raw or roasted.

If the dates are dry, soak with a couple of tablespoons of warm water. If the dates are moist and soft, no need for soaking. Process the dates in a food processor until finely chopped.

Add the almond butter if using and flax seeds along with the spices and process until combined. The mixture maybe sticky, which is perfect as we want all the nuts and seeds to stick together!

Add the nuts and seeds to the food processor bowl and pulse until combined. Or, scoop the date mixture into a bowl, add the nuts and seeds and knead/mix well. When kneading and forming into balls, moistening your hands with a little water occasionally keeps the date mixture from sticking to hands.

Press into a pan lined with parchment and cut into little squares or form into little balls, about 24. Store in the refrigerator. Serve 1 or 2 masala date bites per person after meals.

Enjoy!!


Sunday, July 15, 2018

SHUKTO (Mixed Vegetable Stew W/Coconut & Spices - BENGALI AVIYAL!)

Shukto
Shukto is a delicious Bengali mixed vegetable stew served with rice typically at the beginning of the meal. When I made it first, it was so reminiscent of the South Indian Aviyal, we called it the Bengali Aviyal!

I have adapted the recipe to make it dairy, gluten, and any added oil/fat free since the traditional milk, flour, and added fats are eliminated. The addition of sugar also is not needed as the sweet potato adds enough sweetness to the dish; but if you wish, a date or a teaspoon or two of maple syrup/jaggery maybe added. I added a little bit of coconut (yes, it adds a bit of fat) and rice to make the Shukto creamy; it is absolutely fabulous!

Although bitter melon is a traditional ingredient, it is an acquired taste; not even many Indian people like this bitter veggie! Besides, I did not have either fresh or frozen bitter melon or drumsticks. But even with all these omissions or perhaps because of them :D, the dish turned out quite delectable. 

NOTES:

Typically the veggies are cut lengthwise into wedges/julienne pieces equal in size and thickness. Some may need to be cut into 4, 6, or 8 wedges/julienne pieces depending on their size.

Turmeric is optional; however, I prefer to add it for all the medicinal value it brings to the table as well as its golden hue.

Coconut milk maybe substituted for the coconut; use about half a cup.

I leave the green chiles whole with just the barest slit at the blossom ends to make the dish mild as well as their removal easy. They maybe cored and finely minced also while still keeping the dish mild.

Panch Phodan, Phoran, or Foran is a spice mix that means Five Spices with equal amounts of the following whole seeds - brown mustard, nigella, cumin, fenugreek and fennel; check this recipe for details - it is used in making Kadhi, Zucchini With Besan, etc.

Ajwain is closely related to celery so celery seeds maybe used instead if ajwain is unavilable. 

For a traditional Shukto, add 1 Bitter Melon, 2 Indian Drumsticks, fresh or frozen, 2 Taro roots, etc. Other vegetables such as Ridge gourd, Bottle gourd, and/or Zucchini maybe added also.

Another ingredient is vadis or boris prepared from mung or other beans; they are usually cooked in oil until lightly browned and added to the stew towards the end of cooking. 

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS

Masala for grinding:
1 Tbsp White Poppy seeds (optional)
1 Tbsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger
1 tsp uncooked Rice
1/4 cup Fresh or 2 Tbsp Unsweetened dried Coconut

Stew:

1 Green Banana, plantain or regular
1 Potato
1-2 large Sweet Potatoes
1 smallish piece Daikon/Korean radish or a handful of the small red ones
1 Japanese/Chinese type Eggplant
1 handful any type Green Beans/Hyacinth Beans
1 tsp Panchphoran
2 pinchhes Ajwain seeds (optional)
1-2 Indian Bay Leaves
1/4 tsp Asafetida (optional)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1-3 hot Green Chiles, ends slit OR cored and minced
Salt to taste
3-4 cups Boiling Water 
2-4 Tbsp Cilantro, coarsely chopped

METHOD:

1. Make the Masala:

Soak mustard, poppy seeds and coconut in a little water for 10 minutes.

Make a smooth paste of the soaked coconut mixture along with the ginger adding water as necessary using a good blender. Pour into a bowl; use a cup of water to sluice the blender to gather up all of the masala and add to the bowl. Set aside.

2. Prep the veggies:

Wash all the veggies, drain. Lightly peel the deep green skin of the banana/plantain - a peeler makes it an easy job. Regular and sweet potatoes need not be peeled if they are organic; just scrub them clean with a veggie brush. Trim stems and tips from radish, eggplant and green beans.

Bowl # 1. Cut the radish, green banana, potato, and sweet potato into 2 inch long wedges/juliennes and keep together; these take a little longer to cook.

Bowl # 2. Cut eggplant and green beans (and other tender veggies that do not need much cooking time) into same size wedges/juliennes as the other veggies.

3. Make Shukto:

Heat a large wok or Dutch oven over medium heat and add panchphoron and ajwain. When the seeds start to pop, add the bay leaves and stir for a few seconds.

Add turmeric, asafetida (if using), green chiles, salt and the ground masala. 

Add the contents of Bowl # 1 (radish, green banana, etc) to the pot along with enough of the boiling water to cover the veggies; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover the with a lid. Cook for about 7 -8 minutes on low heat.

If using bitter melon and drumsticks, add them after bowl # 1 has cooked for 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the contents of Bowl # 2 (eggplant), add more boiling water if needed and simmer until the veggies are cooked, about 7-10 minutes or so.

Check the stew and add a little more boiling water as needed since Shukto should have plenty of sauce and not be too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in the cilantro and let rest for 10 minutes.

Fish out the green chiles (if they have been left whole) from Shukto and discard or offer to those who like to add a little extra spice to their plate.

Serve hot with steamed rice. Enjoy!!