Monday, June 26, 2017

Mushroom Methi Malai Do Pyaza (Mushrooms In Tomato Onion Sauce)

Mushroom Methi Malai is pretty easy and quick once you have the masala ready, see note below. It is quite mild but can be spiced up - a little more red chile or a tiny - and I do mean TINY - smidgen of ground Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper will do the trick; start with 1/16 teaspoon or less! Be careful when handling Bhut - it is a very potent pepper albeit tasty. Earthy succulent mushrooms brighten up with a little touch of chile heat!

Kasuri Methi is dried fenugreek (methi) leaves which add an amazing aroma to this curry; in fact it would only be Mushroom Malai without it! Fresh chopped methi leaves may be added instead of the dried if available. 

NOTES: Biriyani Masala may be used instead of the freshly ground spices. If fresh tomatoes are not an option, canned will work very well. Use about half of a 14 1/2 oz can. Canned tomatoes are great when good fresh ones are unavailable. Any type of mushrooms may be used; I have used button type - white or cremini or baby Portobello. For a richer tasting curry, 1/4 - 1/2 cup of coconut cream may be stirred in at the end of cooking.
Mushroom Methi Malai
2 - 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Fresh spices: roast and grind:
1 dried red pepper, broken into two, discard seeds
1/2 t Cumin seeds
1 pod cardamom
1/2" stick Cinnamon, Indian type if available
3-4 whole Cloves
1 tsp Coriander seeds
5-7 Black Peppercorns

Curry:

8 oz Mushrooms, thickly sliced or quartered
2 Tbsp Oil
2 Red Onions, 1 finely chopped, 1 thinly sliced
1-2 Green Chiles, blossom ends slit
2 tsp Ginger, finely minced
1-2 cloves Garlic (optional)
1 Bay Leaf
1 pinch Asafetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp  Kashmiri Chile Powder/Paprika
1- 2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
1 T Kasoori Methi (Dried Fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp Salt
Fresh Coriander/Cilantro for garnishing

METHOD:

Dry roast all the spices lightly until fragrant, pour into a plate to cool completely. Grind into a fine powder. Reserve.

Prepare all the ingredients and have them ready. Keep the green chiles whole and intact; slit only about 1/2 an inch on the blossom end.

Heat oil and cook the sliced onion with a pinch or two of salt slowly until golden and slightly caramelized.

Tip in the chopped onion, green chiles, ginger, and garlic if using with a couple of pinches of salt on low heat until soft; sprinkle a few drops of water if needed to keep from burning.

Add the asafetida, turmeric, chile powder/paprika; stir and cook until fragrant - about 1 minute.

Stir in chopped tomatatoes along with the bay leaf and cook until softened and a thick sauce forms.

Add the mushrooms, strring to coat with the sauce and cook over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the ground spices and mix well. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with Kasoori Methi, and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Fish out the green chiles so no one gets an unpleasant surprise of biting into one accidentally. Garnish with the coriander/cilantro.

Serve hot or warm with your favorite grains or breads. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Jackfruit Biriyani (Rice Pilaf With Jackfruit)

Young and tender jackfruits are used to make this biriyani; although fresh is prefered, canned ones do when fresh jackfruit is unavailable. Flavorful and filling, Jackfruit Biriyani can be spicy or mild. If you really like it spicy, add half to one teaspoon of cayenne/red chile powder when adding the biriyani masala during cooking. All one needs to complete the meal is some fresh crunchy chopped salad, a green or coconut chutney, and fried or roasted papadams. 

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups Basmati rice, soak
2-3 Tbsp Oil
1/4-1/2 cup Cashew pieces 
1 Bay leaf 
2 Green Cardamom Pods
2 Brown Cardamom Pods
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece 
Cloves - 2 
1 large Onion, thinly slivered
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced (optional)
1/2 - 1 inch piece Ginger, finely minced
3-4 Hot/Mild Green chillies, minced OR 1/2 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Tomato, chopped
1 can Green jackfruit, drained well, and torn into small pieces
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder 
1 small handful of Mint leaves, about 15 + more for garnish
4 Tbsp Coriander leaves, chopped + more for garnish
2 tsp Salt

METHOD:

Soak basmati rice in  water for 30 minutes. 

Prep the ingredients: Thinly slice onion, finely chop tomatoes and measure out all other ingredients and have them ready. Crush the cardamom pods so their pods crack slightly.

Heat the oil in a large pan - 4-5 quart/liter capacity - and add the cashews; cook until slightly golden. They can be left to cook with the rest or removed and reserved to top the biriyani.

Stir in the bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamoms, and cloves; cook for about 30 seconds.

Add  Add sliced onion. Fry till golden.

Stir in the ginger, garlic if using, and green chiles; cook for about 2 minutes.

Add tomato, salt, biryani masala powder, and turmeric. Cook until tomatoes become soft. 

Sprinkle the mint and coriander leaves.

Tip the jackfruit, drained rice and two and 3/4 cups water; mix gently. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook on low for 10-12 minutes undisturbed; turn off heat. Let rest for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Gently fluff the biriyani with a fork, transfer to a serving dish if desired, and garnish with mint and coriander leaves and cashew pieces if reserved.

Serve hot with chopped salad, raita, chutney/pickles and pappadams.

Enjoy!!

Biriyani Masala (Homemade Spice Mix For Rice Pilaf & Curries)

Biriyani Masala is a must in the pantry if you love biriyani or pilaf. This spice mix not limited to flavor biriyanis only; it is a fantastic way to flavor and spice up curries also. Start with a teaspoon of the mix to spice a curry to serve four and adjust according to your taste.

Although commercially prepared biriyani masalas are available for purchase, there is no comparison to the freshly ground flavor of the homemade one. This will make enough masala for a couple of months. The masala will stay fresh and flavorful stored in an air-tight jar.

NOTES: If Indian bay leaves are not available, leave them out of the masala; instead add a regular bay leaf or two to the dish during cooking. Kashmiri/byadagi chiles are milder than the regular ones and also lend a vibrant hue to the dish; lesser amount of regular chiles may be used instead along with a tablespoon of paprika.
Biriyani Masala
INGREDIENTS:

7-8  one inch Cinnamon sticks, preferably Indian type
4 T Coriander Seeds
1 Tbsp White Poppy Seeds (optional)
1 Tbsp Cloves
2 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
2-3 Star Anise, broken to pieces
12 Cardamom Pods
5 Brown Cardamom Pods, seeds only
5-7 dried Kashmiri OR Byadagi Chiles, broken into small bits
1/2 Nutmeg, cracked into small pieces
1/2 T Mace
1 T Cumin Seeds
2 tsp Black Peppercorns
6-7 Indian Bay Leaves, torn to bits (optional)

METHOD:

Gather all the ingredients in a large pan and dry roast over low-medium heat stirring constantly for about 6 -7 minutes or until all is warm and beginning to be fragrant. Alternately, place the spices in a baking pan and toast at 300 degrees F for about 5-6 minutes, stirring once or twice. The other choice is to use all the spices raw without toasting; this will be different but still good.

Pour onto a wide plate or platter and let cool completely.

Grind the spices into a fine powder using a spice grinder; this may need to be done in batches depending on the capacity of the grinder. Small bits and pieces of the spices are just fine; but if preferred, sieve the ground spices to remove larger pieces. 

Let cool and store in a clean, dry, jar with a lid.

Use about 1 teaspoon of the masala for a recipe for about 4 servings. 

Enjoy!!



Saturday, June 17, 2017

Quick & Easy Korma (Vegetables In Cashew-Coconut Sauce)

Quick and Easy Korma really is pretty easy and fast as it doesn't require undue attention of sauteing or stirring; a great recipe for a busy day or evening. Just layer all the ingredients in the pot and in minutes delicious korma will be ready to go with your favorite grains or breads!

Omit or add tomatoes depending on what other dishes are being served at the same meal; if other dishes include lots of tomatoes, leave them out. Cooked chickpeas - tan or brown type - make a nice addition to the korma; add them along with the potatoes and carrots.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
½ tsp Fennel Seeds
1 small piece Cinnamon
1 Bay leaf
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 green chillies, cored and minced
1 medium Potato, diced
½ cup Green Beans, diced
2 Carrots, diced
½ cup Corn Kernels, fresh/frozen
½ cup Coconut Milk 
½ cup Green Peas, fresh/frozen
½ cup Chayote/Zucchini, diced (optional)
4 Tbsp Coriander leaves, chopped for garnish

Spices
½ teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
½ teaspoon Red chile powder OR Paprika
1 teaspoon Garam Masala

For Masala Paste, grind together
8-12 Whole Peppercorns
3 Cloves
4 Whole Cashewnuts
4 whole Almonds
1-2 Cardamom Pods, use the seeds
1 teaspoon White Poppy Seeds
4 tablespoon grated Coconut, fresh/frozen
1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
½ inch piece ginger

METHOD:

Grind all the ingredients listed under masala paste to a smooth paste with a little water, about ½ cup. Set aside.

Add the oil, fennel seeds, cinnamon, and bay leaf to a large pan with a lid, a 3-4 quart/liter size will work nicely; swirl to coat the bottom of the pan with oil.

Sprinkle onions and green chiles evenly over the oiled pan; layer the tomatoes on top if using.

Next, spread the green beans, potato, carrots, corn and chayote if using evenly on top of the onions. Reserve the peas and zucchini for later.

Sprinkle the spices and the salt over the veggies.

Lastly, pour the coconut milk and the ground paste over the veggies. Pour a tablespoon or two of water in the blender jar and swirl to gather up all the ground paste and add to pan. Do not stir.

Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes on low to medium heat. You can take a peek to check that all's well; but let the korma simmer covered undisturbed. It will not need additional water or stirring.

Turn off the heat, sprinkle the peas and zucchini if using on top of korma, cover again and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Check for seasoning, and coriander leaves.

Mix well and serve hot. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Non-Dairy Mor Kuzhambu (Delicious "Yogurt" Stew With Coconut)

Mor Kuzhambu is a classic South Indian coconut and cumin seed scented stew of vegetables with yogurt. It is another one of our family favorites from my childhood days. I had missed this delicious recipe as a vegan; when I figured out that if tofu can be substituted for the yogurt just like in "Yogurt" Rice and Non-Dairy Kadhi, life is good again :-)! Mor Kuzhambu over plain rice and a simple vegetable stir-fry - to live for!
Non-Dairy Mor Kuzhambu with Rice & Okra-Capsicum Stir-fry
Choose your favorite vegetables similar to the original Mor Kuzhambu; some favorites are winter melon (ash gourd or elavan), okra, moqua/chayote/opo squash, taro root, cucumbers, Jack fruit seeds, ripe or green mangoes and green or ripe plantains. Green mangoes may be added to any vegetable; mango-cucumger or mango-squash is a delightful combo. When using green mangoes, adjust the lime/lemon as the mangoes may contribute to tanginess also.

If you like to avoid soy, omit the tofu and increase the amount of coconut to 1 cup.

About 6 Servings

Ingredients:

2 cups of vegetables of your choice
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Salt, or to taste
1-2 Lemons/Limes

Grind Together:
1 block (14 oz) Tofu
1/2 cup Grated Coconut, fresh or frozen
2 tsp whole Cumin Seeds
1 or 2 Hot Green Chile, core removed for a milder dish
1 Red Chile
1 tsp uncooked rice

Thalippu/Tadka:

1-2 tsp Oil
1 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds
2 Dry Red Chilies, broken into two
1 stalk Fresh Curry Leaves, minced

Method:

Choose your favorite vegetables from the suggestions above.

Prepare the veggies: wash well, trim or peel as needed; cut into large chunks.

Place the prepared vegetables in a large non-reactive pot (stainless steel, ceramic, etc) with 1 cup of water, the salt and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until just tender.

While the veggies are cooking, tip the drained tofu into the blender carafe along with the coconut, cumin, chiles, and rice; process into a nice smooth puree with a little water (1/2 cup or so).

When the veggies are tender, add the coconut puree; add a few tablespoons of water to the blender to gather all the remaining puree and add to the pan. Add a little more water if the kuzhambu is thick.

Simmer uncovered gently until slightly thickened, foamy and beginning to just get bubbly. Remove from heat.

Heat the oil in a small pan and do the thalippu: add mustard and fenugreek seeds and the red chilies. When the seeds pop, add curry leaves carefully and cover quickly. When all is calm, pour the thalippu into the Mor Kuzhambu. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir in lemon/lime juice to taste before serving; Mor Kuzhambu should be slightly tangy.

Serve hot with rice; the usual favorite sides are some kind of thoran or dry veggie dish like Stir-fried Okra, Cabbage ThoranParuppu Usli, Parikkai Fry, Potato Roast, and/or papadams. Mor Kuzhambu will last a week to ten days in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Easy Tofu Makhani ("Buttery" Tofu in Mild Tomato Sauce)

A very flavorful and satisfying curry, it is even better the next day; so plan to make enough for fabulous leftovers! Another option is to use chickpea tofu or seitan/vital wheat gluten instead of regular tofu.

You may use purchased Butter Chicken Masala spice mix instead of the individual dried spices and garam masala; but proceed with caution and use less at first as ready-made mixes may be heavy on hot pepper.

Ingredients:

1 lb Extra Firm Tofu cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Salt & Freshly ground Pepper
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Hot Green Chile, Serrano or Jalapeno, core removed and minced
½ - 1 inch fresh Ginger, grated 
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander powder
¼ - ½ tsp cayenne
1 tsp garam masala
1 Red or Green bell pepper, diced into big pieces
3-4 ripe Tomatoes, finely chopped or 1 (15 ounce) can crushed or pureed Tomato
½ cup coconut cream
1-2 Tbsp of dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
Scallions, Spear Mint, or Cilantro for garnish
Earth Balance, to serve

Method:

Heat a non-stick skillet with 1 Tbsp of the oil and saute the Tofu with a pinch of turmeric, a generous pinch of salt, and a little freshly ground pepper until slightly browned. Set aside.

While the tofu is cooking, heat a kadai or pan, add the rest of the oil and cumin seeds; when they start to pop and are fragrant, add onions along with the salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir-cook over low-medium heat until the onions just begin to brown, about 7-8 minutes.

Add the garlic, minced chile, and ginger, cook for about a minute.

Stir in the spices and cook for about 30 seconds until well combined.

Tip in the bell pepper and stir cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the tomato, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the tofu to the curry, mix gently to coat with the sauce, cover, and simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring gently occasionally. Turn off the heat.

Uncover, stir in the coconut cream and fenugreek leaves and leave covered for about 10 minutes for the flavors to meld.

Garnish with your choice of the herbs and serve hot topped with a little pat of Earth Balance with your favorite grains or breads. Enjoy!!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mexican Fiesta Bowl (Simmered Beans, Cilantro Rice & Pan-Toasted Veggies)

My family adores meals that can be ladled or piled into bowls whether they be Indian, Mexican, Thai, etc! Here is another do-it-yourself Mexican-style meal to suit a family or a crowd and one of our all-time favorites! Have all the ingredients ready and let everyone serve themselves in a bowl/plate in layers or on crisp tortillas for tostadas, soft chapatis/tortillas for wraps/roll-ups, in fact any which way is perfectly delicious.

The beauty of this fabulous meal is that most of the ingredients may be made at least a day or two ahead; warm the rice, beans, and veggies just before serving.  The veggies may be roasted in a 400 F oven for about 30 minutes if you wish instead of pan-toasting; I like either way depending on the moment.

8-10 Servings

1 recipe Frijoles de la Olla or  Black/Pinto beans
1 recipe Pan-Toasted Veggies, recipe below
Shredded Romaine Lettuce to serve
Radish slices, chopped Onions, chopped Cilantro
Guacamole made with 2 avocados or 2 Avocados, diced
Salsa III, OR III to serve
Escabeche (Picked Jalapenos & Veggies)
Tortilla chips
Vegan Cheese & Sour Cream

Beans

Follow the recipes to cook the beans until very soft but not mushy; for this meal I do not mash the beans; but mashed beans are fine too.

You may use canned beans - canned beans especially will benefit from simmering with the spices.  If using canned beans, drain, rinse and simmer with a tsp of ground cumin along with a little ground chipotle chile, cayenne or smoked paprika and simmer for another 5 minutes.

The beans may be prepared ahead of time and reserved in the fridge. If made ahead, reheat well to serve. 

Pan-Toasted Veggies

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pinch Crushed Hot Red Pepper (optional)
1 or 2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
1 purple or brown onion, cut into thick slivers
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 cups Corn kernels, freshly cut or frozen
1 Carrot, cut into slivers/sticks the same size as the peppers
2 Bell Peppers, any color, cut into slivers 
1 large Zucchini, cut into sticks the same size as the peppers (optional)
1-2 sprigs fresh Oregano, chopped

Heat the wok until hot; add oil in and the hot pepper and let it sizzle for a few seconds.

Add the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt; stir cook for a couple of minutes until the onions are slightly softened.

Tip in the corn and carrots with the turmeric and stir-cook until carrots begin to brown a little - about 5 minutes.

Stir in the peppers and zucchini with salt to taste and keep stirring and cooking until veggies are done to your preference.

Sprinkle the oregano on top, give it good stir, and turn off the heat.

If you find that there are too many veggies, this could be done in two batches.  Keep warm or cool and store until needed. If made ahead, reheat just before serving.  

Assembly

Have all the ingredients ready to serve.

Allow each person to serve themselves.  Enjoy!!
Buen Provecho!!