Monday, December 31, 2012

Sweet Potato Pancakes (Easy Vegan Yam Cakes)

Sweet Potato Pancake with Brown Sugar Syrup and Pecans
These delicious and toothsome pancakes are heavenly; they remind me of pecan pralines with the brown sugar "butter" sauce and toasted pecans!  All the recipes I have seen use cooked, mashed sweet potatoes; too much hassle for me!   So, I created and tweaked my own recipe to use raw, grated sweet potatoes.  It goes together rather quickly to produce delectable pancakes.  I serve them with the brown sugar sauce, fresh chunky applesauce and/or luscious orange slices.  The leftover cakes hold up quite well and are delicious with the cranberry thokku too for a savory option!

These make a perfect breakfast/brunch for company or special occasion.  I am serving these for the New Year's day this year!  Happy New Year's Day Everyone!

Any extra sauce may be saved in a covered jar and refrigerated; warm gently until heated through when ready to use.  It makes a great topping for ice cream, pumpkin bread pudding, and other desserts.

Notes: When measuring out brown sugar, it should be packed firmly.  If oat bran is difficult to obtain, use regular oatmeal.

About 12 cakes

Ingredients:

Pancakes:
2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and coarsely grated
1/2 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 c Oat bran
1/2 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 - 11/2 cups Soy/other Milk
Vegetable Oil for cooking

Brown Sugar Butter Sauce:
1/4 cup Vegan butter substitute (Earth Balance)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp water

Topping:
1/2 cup Toasted or Candied Pecans

Method:

Gather all the pancake ingredients for the pancakes (except the oil) in a large bowl and mix just until combined; add just enough milk to moisten well - the batter will be thick.

Heat a cast iron griddle over medium heat until a little drop of water flicked on it sizzles; dribble a few drops of oil on the griddle and smear it evenly with a  paper towel to make a nice non-stick coating.

Spoon about a quarter cup of the batter on and gently spread into a small thick circle.  Two or three pancakes may be cooked at a time depending on the size of the griddle.

Sweet Potato Cakes cooking
Drizzle with a few drops of the oil and let cook until bottom is golden brown.

Flip the cakes to cook the other side; the pancakes should be golden brown on both sides; cook the cakes about 3-4 minutes on each side on low to medium heat so that they cook through in the middle.  Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Use the batter to make as many pancakes as needed.  If there is extra batter, it will last two or three days refrigerated promptly to use another day; or make cakes and reheat to serve later.

While the pancakes are cooking, place the sauce ingredients in a small pan and heat over low heat. Use a spoon or a small whisk to stir occasionally.  Let the sauce come to a boil and then simmer gently for about 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and keep warm.

Place 3 or 4 pancakes on a plate and spoon some of the sauce on top.

Sprinkle with the pecans and serve.

Eat immediately while still hot.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Andean Quinoa Soup (Vegan Veggie Soup From Peru)

Quinoa Soup is a treasure I found on a recent trip to Peru to add to my collection of fantastic soups. An Andean lady from Maras demonstrated how to prepare this simple but soulful soup; it is so easy and yet sustaining with all the essential ingredients for good health. Apparently on the cold highlands of the Andes, the day may start as well as end with a warming soup like this. Our hostess chopped and diced the veggies in the order she needed as the soup was bubbling along. She recommended eating quinoa soup twice a week for not only good health but great complexion :) - ladies take note! The first thing I cooked upon returning from the trip was ... any guesses? Absolutely Delicious!

I have given the recipe here as I witnessed to the best of my recall; for best results, add the vegetable ingredients in the order given. The soup we had in restaurants had local zucchini, red bell peppers, cilantro, and once, even finely diced tomatoes in addition to the other basic ingredients; so you may add/subtract ingredients to suit your preferences.  

Quinoa is a protein-rich Andean grain that grows on the highlands of Peru; Fava or broad beans are also grown there. If Fava beans and quinoa are unavailable, use a good handful each of red lentils (skinless Masoor dal) and/or cooked Lima beans, barley or brown rice; I have done so without changing the essential nature or taste of the soup. As usual, I add turmeric to the boiling water for all the health benefits it imparts. I substituted a sweet potato for the regular potato and also added a couple of little Peruvian blue potatoes that I had grown.  A few grinds of black pepper or a chile or two will not be amiss to add a little kick; if you are lucky to come by some Peruvian aji amarillo or yellow chile (fresh or dry), that would be even better.  Sumaq mihuna!

Quinoa Soup with blue potato
6 Servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup dry Quinoa
Water
Sea Salt
1 large Carrot, diced
3 ribs Celery, diced
1 handful freshly shelled and peeled  Fava Beans
1 large Potato, cut in chunks
1 piece of Pumpkin/Winter Squash, diced (about 2 cups)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp dried Oregano 

Method:

Rinse well and cook the quinoa in 1/2 cup of boiling water; simmer until soft.  Add a sprinkle or two of boiling water if it looks too dry.  Cover and set aside.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil; add sea salt to taste.

Add each of the ingredients one by one in the order given; wait for the soup to come to a full boil before adding the next ingredient.

Add the carrots to the boiling water first.

Stir in the celery next.

Fava beans go into the pot next.  If using red lentils, this is the time to add it.

Gently drop the potato chunks and let them cook for about five minutes.

This is the time to cook the onions:  heat a small pan and add the oil and onions.  Cook on medium heat stirring often until the onions are translucent.  Crush and add the oregano and cook for another minute or so and remove from heat.

Put in the pumpkin pieces into the soup.

Spoon the cooked quinoa, onions and herbs into the soup; deglace the onion pan with about 1/2 cup of boiling water and add to the soup.  Bring to a boil again; add a little more boiling water if necessary - this is a soup with lots of broth.

Let the soup simmer for about five more minutes or until the veggies are cooked and turn off the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed.

If using cilantro, stir in after turning off the heat and keep the soup covered until serving.

Ladle the soup into warm bowls and serve.  Enjoy!!



Quinoa Soup from Maras, Peru with eggs and cheese

Vegan Quinoa soup from Maras, Peru
Happy and Healthy New Year to Everyone!! May the world be cruelty free and peace and love reign in every heart!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Muesli

Muesli is one the most healthful foods there is and very easy to prepare; it was one of Kou's favorite breakfast foods while growing up.  It is delicious cold but may be served warm on a cold day!  This is my all time favorite go-to recipe for breakfast.  It is loaded with nutrient-rich ingredients which provide everything from anti-oxidants to plenty of complex carbohydrates and protein that jump-start your day but sustain you through to lunchtime.

The following recipe will make 2 servings; you can multiply the amounts to suit your needs.  Feel free to vary and change the spices, nuts, dried and fresh fruit, berries, etc according to the season and your preference.  Although the muesli is quite sweet and satisfying with all the fruit and soy milk, you may like to sweeten it with a little maple syrup or brown sugar.

2 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup Oats or multigrain flakes
1 Apple, finely chopped (not necessary to peel)
1/3 cup fresh Blueberries
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc)
2 Tbsp Raisins
2 Tbsp Dried Cranberries
1/3 cup dried Apricots/Peaches, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract or ground Cardamom
1/2 - 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
11/2 - 2 cups Soy or other milk
2 Tbsp Soy Yogurt (optional) for serving

Method:

Combine all the ingredients except the yogurt in a bowl and mix well; cover tightly.

Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Spoon the muesli into two bowls and top with the yogurt.

Serve cold or warm as desired.  Enjoy!!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Oat Bran Muffins (Vegan and Fat Free)

These are so delicious and therefore I make them so often that now the recipe is indelibly etched in my brain!  The fact that it is simple and quick doesn't hurt either :).  I have served them to people of all ages and persuasions and everyone loves them.  A fantastic use for overripe bananas that no one wants to eat!

Note: If you do not have oat bran, substitute with old fashioned or regular rolled oats.

Oat Bran Muffins in the foreground
12 muffins

Ingredients:

3 medium sized ripe Bananas, mashed
1 cup Oat Bran
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 tsp freshly ground Cardamom seeds
1/2 cup Almond meal or chopped walnuts
1 cup non-dairy milk
Toppings for decoration: Oats, Sesame seeds, sliced Almonds/Cashews, etc.

Method:

Peel the bananas and place in a large bowl; mash coarsely with a fork or potato masher.

Add the rest of  the ingredients to the bowl and mix until just blended together.

Spoon into lightly oiled muffin tins and top with a pinch or two of your favorite toppings.

Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes or until cooked.

Remove from the oven, let cool for a couple of minutes and tip up the muffins so that air can circulate under them.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dal Paratha (Flat Bread with Leftover Lentils)

Dal Paratha with pickles and Checca

I made these parathas with leftover dal - an inspiration from Hema! Dal parathas are quite easy to prepare, delicious, nutritious, and filling.  I served them with a side of freshly made Checca (fresh tomato salad) and pickles - YUM.  Plain yogurt or a raita is another traditional and terrific accompaniment to parathas.

Plain cooked dal may be used to make these parathas; when using plain dal, add some seasonings and herbs to your taste.

These Parathas are fabulous in a lunch box  as well as a nice snack with a hot cup of tea! 

Ingredients:

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour (Atta)
1 pinch of sea salt
1 cup cold Simple Dal or Chunky Chana Dal
Water if needed
About 1or 2 Tbsp Oil for cooking
A small handful Fresh Fenugreek or dry (optional)

Method:


Combine the atta (flour) and salt in a large bowl; stir in the dal and knead in the bowl adding a few drops of water if needed to make a pliable but firm dough.

Do add the fresh fenugreek if you have it; dry (called Kasuri Methi) is good too. If using Kasuri Methi, only 1 or 2 tablespoons will do. Fenugreek adds a lovely fragrance whether you use the fresh of dry.

Wrap the dough in clear film or place in a zipper bag and allow to rest for an hour.  If not using right away, please store the dough in the fridge until ready to roll out.

Divide the dough into 12 balls and roll into smooth discs.

Roll out the discs of dough into circles - about 6-7 inches in diameter using a bit of flour to dust them so they do not stick.

Cook the dough circles on a medium-hot griddle on both sides until a few dark spots form and the paratha is cooked; the procedure is the same as for Thepla OR Roti (Chapati), a flat bread with herbs.

Place the uncooked circles one at a time on the hot griddle/skillet; when the color changes (this should be in about 30 seconds), flip over. When a few small bubles appear, smear with a little oil on top and flip over. Brush a tiny bit more oil on the new topside, and press the edges and cook for a few seconds until a few brown spots appear on the side in contact with the skillet. Flip breifly to make sure it is cooked through on the top edges. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and continue with the rest of the dough.

Serve hot or warm.  Enjoy!!
Dal Paratha

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lemony Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemony Poppy Seed Muffin
Lemony Poppy Seed Muffins are the best muffins ever!  These fragrant muffins are easy to make and very satisfying with their tangy taste. This recipe is adapted form Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance; I added lemon juice for a more lemony taste that my family adores.

I like to make a double batch and freeze the extra muffins. Moskowitz recommends freezing the batter - to freeze the batter, pour into muffin liners placed in muffin pans and freeze until solid; place the frozen muffin batter in re-closable storage bags and keep frozen.  When ready to bake, place the frozen muffin batter back in muffin pans and bake - frozen batter will require about 8-10 minutes extra time.

These muffins may be baked using the mini muffin pans as well; for mini muffins, bake at 375*F for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted close to the center of a muffin.

Makes 12 large muffins

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups Unbleached Flour (Maida)
1/4 cup fine Almond meal
1/2 cup Sugar + a little more for topping
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
2 large Lemons, zest and juice
3/4 cup plain or vanilla Milk (dairy or non-dairy)
3/4 cup plain or vanilla Yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
1 small Vanilla bean or 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Oil

Method:

Prepare the muffin pans with a light coat of oil: you may use an oil spray.

Wash the lemon thoroughly and wipe dry.  Zest with a micro-plane or  grater - make sure you grate only the yellow skin.  Cut the lemon in half and collect the juice.

Combine flour, almond meal, sugar, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, poppy seeds, and lemon zest in a large bowl; whisk together lightly to combine the ingredients.

Measure out the milk, yogurt, and oil into a bowl or large measuring cup.  Split the vanilla bean, scrape the pulp with the tip of a small knife and add (reserve the vanilla bean pods for flavoring another recipe like Pudding) along with the oil and lemon juice and whisk well to combine thoroughly.

Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir just enough to combine.

Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins; sprinkle the top with a pinch of sugar if you like.

Bake in a 400*F oven for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the muffins are done.  ( Note:  My muffin pans are practically black from years of use; they absorb the heat very well so I bake the muffins at 375* F to prevent them from burning.)


Let cool a little and serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Simple Red & Green Chile Chutney/Relish (Chile Pesto)

Avocado Toast Topped With Green Chile Chutney 
With its inimitable and lovely chile flavor, Chile relish is a delicious all purpose seasoning to have on hand; it is wonderful to spice up whatever you are cooking, as a chutney/pickle with meals, Dosa, burgers, bajjis or other snacks, and as a sandwich spread.  I concocted this so that the members of the family who love their food hot can spike their foods to their hearts' content :).  I love to add a little dollop as a side with rice and mild curries.  It is fantastic as a starter spread atop yogurt, ricotta, or cream cheese surrounded by crostini or crackers; a little schmear makes plain old grilled cheese come alive!  Once you start making and enjoying chile relish, I am sure that you will find it indispensable and discover many uses for it.

Try both green and red chile relish; each has its own unique flavor - the green chile has that fresh, crisp  taste while the red is a bit sweetly fruity.  Any chiles may be used to make this simple but wonderful chutney; they do not need to be searingly hot either.  You can use mild to hottest chiles in any combination according to your preference. 

Ingredients:

20 fresh Green or Red Chiles ( I used Jalapenos and Serranos)
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Crushed Fenugreek seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
1/4 tsp ground Turmeric
1 Lime, juiced (optional)

Method:

Wash the chiles well and drain.  Wipe dry and remove stems.

Place the chiles in the container of the food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade and finely chop using the pulse button.  Alternatively the chiles may be finely chopped or pounded using a mortar and pestle.

Heat a non-reactive skillet/kadai and add the oil.  When hot, add the seeds and let them pop.

Remove from heat and stir in asafetida and turmeric and then the ground chiles with the salt.

Return to heat and cook for two or three minutes until chiles turn bright green and the liquid evaporates a little.

Remove from heat, cool completely, and stir in the lime juice if using.

Spoon the relish into clean, dry, sterile jars and keep in the fridge. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rice Pradhaman (Rice Pudding With Coconut Milk)

Pradhaman (translates as chief or first) is a traditional and delightful Kerala dessert and a small portion is always served to be eaten first at any banquet - a welcome preview of what is to come! There are many types of pradhamans in which the star ingredients may be rice or rice products, dals, or fruits such as jack-fruits or plantains; all are typically made with jaggery and coconut milk and are porridge-like - a bit soupy.

This pradhaman is also called "idichu pizhinja payasam" as freshly grated coconut is "pounded and squeezed" to extract the milk.  I have given the option of canned coconut milk to make it easier.

Some families flavor the pradhaman simply with dried ginger only and the toasted coconut; others like to add cardamoms and cashews. Try both and decide for yourself.

It is important to stir regularly so that the pradhaman does not stick or burn.  If you like, use coconut oil sparingly to toast the coconut and cashews for a vegan dessert.

6-8 Servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Rice
2 Tbsp Chana or Mung dal (optional)
1 cup Jaggery or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 coconut, grated OR 1 can (~2 cups) Coconut Milk
1 tsp ground Dried Ginger (Chukku) OR 5 pods Cardamom
1 tiny pinch Saffron (Optional)
2 Tbsp Ghee
2 Tbsp fresh Coconut, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup Cashews (optional)
1/4 cup Raisins (Optional)
1 or 2 Ripe Bananas/plantains, finely chopped (optional)                          

Method:


Dry toast the dal (if using)  just until fragrant; let cool.

Wash the rice and dal together and add to a large heavy-bottomed pot with 2 cups of water; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently until soft.

Grind the grated coconut with a cup of water; squeeze to extract all the milk and set aside this milk as milk #1.

Add a cup of water to the coconut grind again and extract the milk - set aside as #2.

Repeat grinding and extracting the coconut milk with a last cup of water - set aside as #3.

When the liquid is absorbed by the rice, add the coconut milk #3 and bring to a boil and simmer stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.

Stir in milk #2 and the jaggery/brown sugar and let it dissolve; bring to a boil again and simmer gently stirring often for about 15 minutes.

Add the coconut milk #1 and heat until hot but not boiling.  Remove from heat and cover.

Add the dry ginger OR the cardamom mixture. {Crush the cardamom pods, gather the seeds (discard the pods), and grind the seeds well with saffron and a pinch of sugar into a fine powder and sprinkle the spices on top.} Stir well and keep covered.

Heat the ghee in a small pan and toast the cashews until pale pink; add the coconut pieces and cook until pale gold; now stir in the raisins and cook until beginning to puff up a little.

Stir the nut mixture into the pradhaman; stir in the chopped bananas and serve hot, warm or cool.  Enjoy!!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Green Rice/Pulao (Herb Pilaf)

A delicious and simple - brown rice provides better nutrition; if using brown rice, cook it until done before stirring in the greens and herbs at the end. Depending on the herbs you use, it can be Caribbean, Indian, Mediterranean, Persian, etc. I have given suggestions but you may choose your own favorite herbs. Whichever of the herb combination you choose, a bean dish such as Chole or Rajma, a raita and/or chopped salad make wonderful accompaniments. Mushroom Ragout is delightful served over the rice.  For the garnish use your favorite nuts/seeds; I love to use sunflower seeds, pine nuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios, etc.

Cooked edamame or green fava beans may be added instead of peas for a delicious change.

6 Servings

Ingredients:

1 cup long grain rice
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1 clove fresh Garlic, minced (optional)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Herb combination of your choice
A large handful of leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc), finely chopped
1 cup Peas, fresh or frozen
Lime/Lemon juice to taste (optional)
Toasted Nuts/Seeds for garnish (optional)

Herb I - 1 small bunch each - fenugreek, coriander (cilantro), mint, green onions
Herb II - A handful each - parsley, basil
Herb III - 1 small bunch each - fenugreek, flat leaf parsley, green onions, dill
Herb IV - 1 small bunch Cilantro (fresh coriander), Parsley, Green Onions
Herb V -  Parsley, Mint

Method:

Rinse the rice well and place in a bowl; cover with 2 cups of fresh water. Let it soak while you prepare the herbs.

Sort the greens and herbs and discard yellow leaves, weeds, tough stems etc. Wash them well and drain thoroughly (I use my salad spinner to get all the water out). Finely chop them.

Heat the oil in a 2 to 3 quart/liter pan and saute the onion and garlic with the salt gently until soft.

Add the drained rice (save the soaking water) and stir well to coat; add the soaking water and bring to a rolling boil.

Reduce the heat, stir in the greens, peas, and half the herbs, cover and simmer very gently for about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow to rest undisturbed for 15 minutes.

Fluff the rice gently with a fork, sprinkle with the lime/lemon juice and the reserved herbs, and serve hot.  Enjoy!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Roasted Baby Potato Chat (Tricolor Salad-Topped Fingerling Starters)


Potato Chat With Radish Salad & Green Chutney

Roasted potato starters are a treat for the eyes as well as the palate! And Very Yummy without extraneous calories to make one feel guilty to boot.  These are so good, I make a meal of them just like baked potatoes!

Make the salads and the roasted potatoes a day ahead; then heat the potatoes to serve when you are ready.  Also, if it is too much to make all three of the salads, make the one you like.  Roasted potato chat is an adaptation of Sheelu's recipe. Simply superb!

Some radishes (both daikon and regular) tend to be a bit spicy; the lemon, salt and spices tone it down. Sometimes I like to add either fresh turnips or Jicama to the radishes to tone it down for those who prefer a milder salad. Sheelu added a little chat masala to the mooli (radish) salad also.  Any leftover salad may be served with other meals.

Chat Masala is a mixture of spices and salts used to sprinkle on fruit and veggie salads; it is readily available in Indian markets.  Daikon radish is called "Mooli" in Hindi and is available in most markets as well as Indian markets.

Although small potatoes are preferred, slices of large potatoes will work also.

Ingredients:

1 lb Baby potatoes, any kind
1 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chat Masala to taste

Salads:

1/2 lb each Beets and Radish - regular or daikon (or Turnips or Jicama)
2-3 Limes/lemons
Sea salt to taste
1/2 small Red Onion, finely chopped
1 small bunch Cilantro, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 recipe Carrot Salad, to serve
Green and Sweet chutneys to serve

Method:

Wash and dry the potatoes; trim them if necessary and place in a rimmed baking pan.

Add the oil, salt and pepper and stir to coat well.

Bake at 425 F for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.

Remove from the over and let cool a little in the pan; when cool enough to handle, flatten each gently but firmly without breaking up. If using large potato slices, no need for smashing.

Sprinkle with Chat Masala to taste on both sides.

Roast for 15 more minutes until lightly browned.

Meanwhile,

Prepare the salads:  grate each of the veggies and place them in their own bowls; for those who find daikon/radishes too strong, add/use turnips, Jicama, or a combination.

Add finely chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime/lemon juice to taste to each of the salads.

To the beet salad, add the chopped onions and mix well.

Arrange the bowls of the three salads, i.e, carrot, beet and daikon on a large platter and surround with the warm potatoes.  Mound a spoonful of one of the salads on top of the potatoes and top with a drizzle of green and/or sweet chutneys.  This is a do-it-yourself dish - each diner can top theirs according to taste.

Eat immediately.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kozhakattai I (Savory Rice Dumplings With Coconut)


         
Kozhakattais with  Sweet Potato Chutney I

Kozhakattais are steamed rice dumplings - the South Indian equivalents of gnocchi - albeit made with ... you guessed it - rice! It is amazing what one can do with rice :D. These kozhakattais are delicious hot, warm or cold (room temperature cold, not ice cold) anytime at all. I made mini ones to serve as starters with Sweet Potato Chutney - they were very quick to disappear - not a single one remained!

Kozhakattais were often prepared as fasting day foods. Some of the fasts were more like food festivals (lol) - fasting meant only that plain cooked rice was not eaten; but delicacies made from it or other grains were. And believe me, nobody felt even a tiny pang of hunger on these fasts!

We loved eating the leftover kozhakattais for breakfast especially with the beloved kozhakattai story.

I made these kozhakattais with converted rice aka parboiled rice, Uncle Ben's, etc.   Plain raw rice rava may be used as well. You don't have to grind the rice, finely broken rice known as Idli Rava is readily available in Indian markets.

Ingredients:

2 cups Converted Rice rava (Idli Rava)
1/2 cup coconut, grated
1 tsp Salt
Chutneys to serve - Coconut, Sweet Potato I or II

Thalippu/Tadka:

1 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Chana Dal
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 Dry Red Chile
1 stalk Curry leaves, minced
1 pinch Asafoetida (Optional)

Method:

Place the rava in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of fresh water. Allow to soak for about 3 - 4 hours.

Prepare the tadka: Heat the oil in a large kadai/skillet and add the mustard seeds, dals and chile; when the mustard starts popping and the dals turn pinkish gold, stir in the asafoetida. Remove from heat and add the curry leaves.

Stir in the soaked rice along with the salt, coconut, and a cup of water; cook stirring until the mixture thickens and a stiff dough forms.  Let cool covered for about 30 minutes or so.

When cool enough to handle, form into smallish oval balls and place in a single layer in a steamer; wetting your hands with cool water once in a while helps to keep from getting sticky when rolling the dough into balls.

Cover and steam over boiling water for about 15 minutes; let cool for 10 minutes undisturbed.

Serve warm or cool with coconut or one of the sweet potato chutneys. Enjoy!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sweet Potatoes With Spicy Streusel (Shakkara Valli Kizhangu Poduthul)

Cream colored sweet potatoes work best for this dish; the orange ones with their higher moisture content get a bit mushy. Serve this delicious dish as a side dish with freshly cooked rice, Simple or Authentic Sambar or any kind of kuzhambu like Whole Mung With Basella for a lovely meal.  I like them as a nice snack too!

2 - 4 Servings

Ingredients:

2 large Cream colored Sweet Potatoes
1 pinch Turmeric
1 Tbsp uncooked raw rice
1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 or 2 dry Red Chile
1/2 tsp Sea Salt

Thalippu/Tadka:
1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp split, skinless Urad dal
1 or 2 hot green or red chile
1 pinch Asafetida
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves, minced

Method:

Dry roast the rice, fenugreek and dry chiles in a small pan until rice is golden and slightly puffed; cool and then grind coarsely.

Wash and trim the sweet potatoes; it is not necessary to peel them but you may if you wish.  Cut them into 1/2" chunks/cubes.

Heat the oil in a kadai/wok or other suitable pan and add the mustard and urad; when urad turns pinkish, add the chile, asafetida and then the curry leaves.

Stir in the potato cubes, salt and turmeric; cook covered over medium heat until just beginning to be tender. Stir once in a while to make sure the veggies cook evenly without burning.

Sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of water while the veggies are cooking to ensure that they do not dry out.

Sprinkle the rice mixture over the veggies, stir to coat well, and cook covered over low heat for about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and rest undisturbed for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Enjoy!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sensational Stuffed Mushrooms

These mushrooms really are sensationally sumptuous; and how! Linda D. very kindly shared the recipe with me; I have adapted her recipe so that you can make a smaller quantity (the original served 60 people!). I like using medium sized mushrooms for appetizers; use large ones if you like - they are perfect with meals. It can be vegan if you omit the cheese.

Ingredients:

1 lb White Mushrooms
2 Tbsp Butter/oil for cooking and oiling
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove fresh Garlic
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
1 pinch Red Pepper (cayenne)
1 small handful Parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 oz. Bread Crumbs

Method:

Lightly oil baking sheet(s) that can hold the mushrooms in a single layer.

Wash the mushrooms in cool water quickly and drain on absorbent towels.

Snap off the stems from the mushrooms and chop finely; reserve the caps for stuffing.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil/butter in a large skillet and cook the chopped mushroom stems, onions and garlic with a pinch of salt until soft; stir in the parsley and let cool.

Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, red pepper, a little salt if needed, and freshly ground black pepper to taste with the onion mixture and mix well.

Firmly mold a little of the filling mixture into the cavity of each mushroom cap and place on the oiled baking sheet.

Bake at 350 F for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve hot or warm. Enjoy!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Chunky Chana Dal

This is a delicious but simple dal - great with rice or other grains, roti, and/or by itself.  We love the nutty taste of the chana dal which is really split and decorticated (skin removed) chick pea! I believe that it is made from the brown Indian chick pea rather than the golden type known as Kabuli chana or garbanzo bean. Chana dal (unlike mung or masoor dal) retains its shape and does not easily cook up mushy; hence the name 'chunky' :-).  I used a pressure cooker to cook this dal; it is a great tool to cook all dals, whole beans and grains quickly.

Notes: This is a versatile dal that changes its flavor based on the spices used - instead of the mustard and cumin seeds, substitute 1 tsp of panch phoron for a lively but different taste; or saute some leeks/onions after the thalippu is made and stir in some tomatoes before adding the dal.  Yellow or green split peas may be used instead of chana dal; one or the other dals may be omitted or used in any combination.  Any way you make it, it is delicious!



Ingredients:

1 cup Chana dal
1/4 cup Yellow Mung Dal
1/4 cup Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt
2-4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped (optional)

Thalippu/Tadka:
2 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
1-2 Hot Green chiles (Serrano or Jalapeno), cut into quarters lengthwise (for a mild dish, remove the core from the chiles) or minced
2 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, minced
1 Stem fresh Curry leaves

Method:

Sort, wash and cook the dals in fresh water to cover until soft; the other dals with be creamy but chana will retain its shape as long as it is not overcooked. 

Prepare the thalippu:  Heat the oil and add the seeds; when they pop and dance, reduce the heat a little and add the rest of the thalippu ingredients in the order given.

When the chiles soften a little, add the cooked dal, turmeric, salt, and additional water if necessary and bring to a boil. 

Remove from heat and cover and allow to rest until serving time.

Remove the chiles from the dal (if they are in big pieces) before serving so as to prevent anyone biting into them unawares! They do look like green beans to the unwary innocent! (We love the flavor and eat the chiles along with the dal.)

Serve hot sprinkled with the cilantro.  Enjoy!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Arugula & Sweet Potato Curry

Imagine arugula in a curry! - I was amazed at how lovely this curry turned out; the peppery and pungent arugula became quite demure and mellow when cooked.  It is delicious served with rice, any rotis, or just dal if you are wanting to keep your caloric intake low; I served it with theplas and chana dal.  If you are not convinced to use arugula, other greens may be used instead.

For a mild curry, remove the cores from the chiles or eliminate them altogether. You can also reduce the amount of Sambar Powder to 1 or 2 tsp.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 pinch Hing/ Asafetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 small Onion, chopped
2 hot green (Serrano/jalapeno) chiles, minced
2 medium Sweet Potatoes, diced
1 medium Red or other colors Bell Pepper, diced
3-4 cups Arugula (~ 6 oz), coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp Sambar Powder

Method:

Heat the oil with the mustard seeds  and urad dal until mustard starts popping.

Stir in the asafetida, turmeric, green chiles, and onions with a pinch of salt.

When the onions soften, add the sweet potatoes and mix well; add a little more salt and cook covered about 15 minutes.

Add the bell pepper, arugula, sprinkle the sambar powder on top and cook covered until veggies are done; mix well.

Let rest covered for about 5 minutes.

Serve hot with rice, rotis, etc. and your favorite dal for a complete meal.  Enjoy!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thepla (Spicy Flat Bread with Herbs)

Methi (Fenugreek) Thepla

Theplas are spicy flat breads (rotis) made with herbs.  It is similar to a tortilla in that it is a flat bread; but there the similarity ends.  A thepla is much more than a vehicle for wrapping other foods; it is a lovely spicy snack on its own or may be part of a meal.  Usha J. was very gracious to show me how to make these and I have been making them ever since :).  I am told that the traditional way to eat them is accompanied by Kichdi (a rice and lentil risotto quite popular all over India), a vegetable (with potato) curry, fresh yogurt, papadams, and pickles.  I often serve them with Simple dal, Sweet Potato Curry, and Hot Lemon or Mango Pickles.  The leftover theplas are wonderful whether warmed up or at room temperature with a bit of Indian pickles and a cup of Chai.

Fenugreek (fresh methi) is the most popular herb for making these wonderful rotis; but dill, mint, cilantro, spinach or other favorite greens may be utilized as well.  I like to add sesame seeds for their lovely taste as well as nutrition even though they are not traditional.

Although the Indian whole wheat flour ground specifically for making flat breads (known as atta) is the best for making thepla as well as other types of roti, any whole wheat flour may be used.

Note:  The combination of coriander and cumin seeds ground together is a typical spice mix that is useful to have and easy to make; lightly dry-roast equal amounts of the two spices and grind them finely in a spice grinder when cool and store in air-tight jars.

Ingredients:

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour (Atta)
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp or more ground hot red pepper (Cayenne)
1 pinch Asafetida
1 tbsp ground Coriander and Cumin Seeds
1/4 tsp Ajwain seeds
1 Tbsp white Sesame seeds (optional)
1 cup finely chopped fresh Fenugreek
2-3 Tbsp Cow's Milk or Soy Yogurt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour, for dusting while rolling out
About 2 Tbsp Oil for cooking

Method:


Snap off the tender portions or just the leaves and tender tips of the fenugreek.  Wash and dry well.  Chop finely.


Grind the coriander and cumin seeds together in a spice mill with the salt.

Combine the flour with the ground spices, turmeric, cayenne, ajwain seeds, and asafetida; whisk together.

Add the chopped herbs and the yogurt; stir well to mix.

Add water a few tbsp at a time to make a firm dough; it should still be pliable enough to roll out into circles; knead well until smooth and satiny.


 Thepla Dough Discs


Divide the dough into 16 smooth balls/discs; roll them out into moderately thin circles dusting with flour as necessary, about 7 inches in diameter.

                         
Thepla ready for cooking

Cook each thepla on a griddle/skillet; cook one side until the top changes color.  Flip over to cook the other side a little, until a few pale brown spots appear.

Brush lightly with a little oil and flip over; press down especially on the edges to allow the bread to puff up a bit and cook until brownish spots appear.  Brush the unoiled side with a little oil and cook a few seconds more.

Make sure that the theplas are not overcooked to dryness; they should stay soft speckled with a few brown spots.

Stack the theplas as you cook them over a folded paper towel or napkin; cover them loosely with another napkin until all are done.

Serve the theplas warm with Kichdi, pickles, etc. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ancient Cole Slaw (Athenian Cabbage Salad)

Here is another easy, delicious (and healthy) recipe from the ancient times thanks to The Classical Cookbook (my inspiration for  Coriander-Crusted Eggplant and Cato's Lentils).  This fresh tasting slaw is a lovely dish that can be served as a starter or with a meal. The only ingredient I have left out is rue, an herb that is neither commonly used nor easily available (did not find any either fresh or dry in any of the markets).  If you are interested in replicating the ancient recipe, rue is available for purchase at most nurseries.

According to the Classical Cookbook, Romans of antiquity (and Greeks too as is evident from the title of this post) were very fond of cabbage and grew them avidly.  The doctors of the times recommended cabbage as a cure for headaches, arthritis, stomach problems and even as prevention for hangovers if it was eaten before indulging in alcoholic beverages. Whether or not cabbage was helpful in curing the various diseases, it was apparently only wishful thinking that it would prevent hangovers :D.

We do know that cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamins K and C (more than oranges!) and a very good source for various anti-oxidants, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory compounds and B-vitamins.  It is also a good source of dietary fiber.  Cabbage  is low in calories and hence a wonderful addition to the diet of anyone trying to limit their caloric intake.  Mild, sweet, and crunchy, it is a great addition to salads, stir-fries, and soups.

The fresh cilantro and honey vinegar (oxymeli) are what makes this slaw special.  If you do not use honey, you may use agave syrup or another sweetener.

2 - 4 Servings 

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Honey
4 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 small green Cabbage, shredded
1 small bunch fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tiny pinch Asafetida

Method:

Prepare the honey vinegar (Oxymeli):  Heat the honey in a small pan until it is boiling; stir in the vinegar and mix well.  Continue cooking until the raw honey flavor cooks out - a couple of minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Combine the cabbage, cilantro, asafetida, and salt in a large bowl.

Add about 2-3 Tbsp of the honey vinegar and mix well; taste to check the seasonings.

Add more honey vinegar if desired and mix thoroughly.

Serve or chill until needed.  The slaw stays fresh for a day or two. Eat. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Coriander-Crusted Eggplant - A Roman Feast

Coriander Crusted Eggplant, an adaptation of an Ancient Roman recipe from The Classical Cookbook, is absolutely delicious! I made it as a special treat for an avid fan of ancient Roman history!

I tweaked the recipe (just a tiny bit :D) by replacing the fish with eggplants; Roman chefs prided themselves on surprising their patrons by presenting them with dishes made to look and taste like something they were not.    Fish this was not - but simple though the recipe was, the eggplants tasted delicious. Despite the lack of fancier fare like honey-glaced dormice and roasted peacocks, the eggplant made for a splendid meal along with Cato's Lentils and Athenian Cabbage Salad - YUM!  Barley bread and some Globi for dessert (based on recipes from Meals and Recipes from Ancient Greece, Around the Roman Table, and The Classical Cookbook) would have made it a truly memorable meal - a veritable feast for the gods!  There is always next time!

4 Servings

Ingredients:


2 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Black Peppercorns
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt
4-6 long slender Asian OR 1 big Globe Eggplant
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil + a little more for the pan
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar/Lime Juice

Method:

Choose bright and glossy eggplants for the best results; dull/wrinkled ones are either too old or not very fresh.

Toast the coriander and black pepper in a small dry pan until fragrant and lightly toasted. Cool and grind coarsely.

Mix the ground spices with turmeric and salt.

Start heating the oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare a baking pan by lightly oiling with olive oil; or line with parchment paper for easy clean-up.

Wash the vegetables and dry them. Peel them if you like - I do not.  If you have the Asian type, cut the eggplants in half; if they are the globe type cut them into thick slices.

Dredge the eggplants firmly in the spice mixture and place them on the baking pan in a single layer. Drizzle the oil evenly over the veggies.

Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes turning once (after about 20 minutes) until they are soft when tested with a fork.

Alternately, the eggplant slices may be cooked in a skillet over medium heat; when one side is  slightly roasted, turn over to cook the other side.

Remove from the oven/skillet, splash with the vinegar or lime juice and serve hot. Enjoy!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Broccoli With Peanut Sauce

A winner of a recipe! I wanted to use up the broccoli while it was still fresh. I served the broccoli with peanut sauce with brown rice and tofu curry for a fabulous meal. What little leftovers remained were sought after and eaten up the next day!

Although quite simple, the sauce is so delicious that it makes the dish. I bet I could serve this sauce over other veggies too :D.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

11/2 lbs Broccoli, cut into large florets
2 large Carrots, slice diagonally
1 Red Onion, cut into vertical slivers
1 Tbsp Oil
1 big pinch Turmeric
Sea Salt to taste
2 Tbsp Kecap Manis (sweet Soy sauce)
2-3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
1-2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1- 3 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
2 Tbsp Chopped roasted peanuts to serve

Method:

Heat a wok/kadai and swirl the oil to coat; stir in the onion and cook with a pinch of salt over medium heat until lightly caramelized.

Stir in the broccoli and carrots pieces with the turmeric and a pinch of salt, cover, and cook until just tender but still brightly colored; keep warm.

Combine kecap, soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar and sambal in a small pan and cook stirring until smooth and hot; add a little water - a tablespoon or two at a time - if the sauce becomes too thick.

Pour the peanut sauce over the cooked veggies, sprinkle with the chopped peanuts, and serve hot.

This sauce  is a delicious served over other steamed/stir fried veggies, noodles, Roasted Tofu etc.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Green Smoothie!

I thought all my clothes had shrunk! Could it be that the laundry was done with hot water inadvertently? But really - all of them? The realization dawned and that it was not the clothes which had shrunk but my size had expanded :D! - and well it might - with all the cooking, tasting, and.... most importantly EATING.

My physician told me that the easiest way to reduce the weight would be to take a medication; the meds suppress appetite and soon the the weight would come down. So how long did I have to take them, I asked. He told me that once I stopped them, the weight would come back - albeit slowly. He then recommended that I could follow a meal replacement plan since I did not want to take any medications - there were different types of shakes available just for this purpose!  Wow, it sounded so easy to replace just one meal with a shake. But when I checked out the shake (I read labels of everything), I was appalled at what I saw on the label. I could not bring myself to purchase even one to try - it was full of so many ingredients that I could not even pronounce!  I was not up to drinking chemical cocktails even for the pursuit of better health. So, back to the drawing board - what was I going to do?

A friend to the rescue - Pat gave me a copy of Green For Life by Victoria Boutenko - a very timely gift indeed! When I read this book, I realized that the green smoothie was exactly what I needed. When I explained about the green smoothie to my physician, he gave me the green :) light to go ahead with the smoothie - "it can't hurt", he said.

I joined the green smoothie revolution! :D I diligently made my smoothie every morning with healthful fruits and greens; it kept me feeling full and quite content. The green color of the smoothie was not a detriment to me - I actually enjoyed it. It is truly delicious - even the little ones tried my smoothie, loved it, and wanted more.

Oh, and one more thing: my physician also recommended 30 minutes of walking everyday; she said to think of it as a prescription! I started slowly; 10-15 minutes at first and gradually increased to 30 - 40 minutes. It did wonders not only for weight reduction, but also for overall stamina and well-being. It feels marvelous to be in control of one's health! Need I say more :-}?

For smoothies I use really ripe bananas past their prime for eating fresh. I freeze what cannot be used quickly; they are handy for making smoothies and shakes - not just green ones :}. Other favorite fruits may be used also - if using other fruits, I still like to include a banana for the sweetness and smooth mouth feel. For the greens I used spinach at first and then all other kinds: like various dark green lettuces, Swiss chard, kale, radish greens, collards, parsley, basil, mint, etc. Use herbs like mint, basil, and cilantro in small quantities or sparingly at first - you can always add more if you like them. I use organic produce for the smoothies. When I cannot get organic produce, I wash them thoroughly with a little vinegar (check this post on cleaning produce) to remove as much of the residues as possible.

Here is a guideline for my basic smoothie: Makes about 1 quart/liter

Ingredients:

2 - 3 medium Ripe Bananas, fresh/frozen (the ones with brown spots on the skin are perfect for this)
2 - 4 large handfuls Greens (start with 2 initially)
1 knob fresh Ginger (optional)
1-2 cups Water (or fresh juice/nondairy milk)

Method:

Combine bananas, ginger if using, and the fluid of your choice in the container of a good high speed blender or liquidizer (I use Vita Mix) and process until liquefied.

Add the greens and process until smooth.  Taste and adjust fruit and fluids to get it just right.

Pour into glasses and serve.  (Or, save the extra in a covered container and refrigerate; the smoothie stays fresh for up to 2 days.)

Bottoms up!  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Home Grown Herbs: Mint

Home Grown Mint (Mentha spicata)

Mint is perhaps the easiest of herbs to grow at home - and the benefits of having this brightly aromatic herb fresh are endless ... delicious in salads, teas, curries, wraps, and of course as garnishes .... desserts, fruit salads and fancy beverages would not be complete without a little sprig :D. Although there are different kinds of mints used in the kitchen, spearmint (Mentha spicata) is the most popular. Peppermint is used predominantly for teas and flavorings and spearmint for tea as well as all other cooking needs. Mint is an enormously useful herb beyond the kitchen too: it is used in medicines, perfumes, soaps, oral hygiene products, insect repellents, etc, etc.

I find that stem cuttings are the best and quickest way to grow mint. It grows quite easily from cuttings - child's play :>! I grew mine years ago from the leftover stems after using the leaves for cooking. Since it is a perennial herb, once planted mint will keep growing as long it gets watered regularly. It can be invasive and take over other plantings unless grown in a contained area or in a pot. It is perfect to grow in a pot in a cool spot with a tiny bit of sunshine, but not too much. Don't be afraid to pinch or snip the herb often; regular pruning keeps it growing and attractive. Any extra may be dried for when the herb is not growing actively.

How to grow: Strip off the lower leaves; the stems may be rooted in a jar of water or planted directly in moist planting medium or soil. For rooting in water, place the stems in a jar of water and keep in a cool place; they will root readily and quickly. When roots are about half to one inch long, plant them in a pot or in the ground and keep them moist but not soggy. When the top of the soil dries out, water the plants.

How to dry: My method is very quick and easy. Rinse the herb sprigs in a few changes of fresh water and drain well. Spread on towel-lined baking sheets and allow to dry in a cool dry place until they are completely moisture free and brittle. Crush lightly to separate the stems from the leaves - remove stems and discard them. Store in clean jars with tight lids.

Mint is used in many cuisines around the world where it is not just a pretty garnish. It is the main ingredient in emerald green mint chutney (an Indian meal would not be complete without it!) and middle eastern Tabbouleh. Mint was cultivated and used quite extensively in ancient Rome (see Cato's Lentils). Mint is an essential ingredient in many cuisines such as Asian, Greek, Turkish and also other regions around the Mediterranean. Next time you make Caprese salad, Raita, salad, or a bruschetta, try using mint in place of fresh basil or other herbs - and you will be in for a pleasant surprise - yum!

Here are a few recipes to try: Bruschetta, Tea, Stuffed Veggies, Spring Rolls, and Lentil Salad. Enjoy!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cato's Lentils (Ancient Roman Lentil Stew)

Cato's Lentil Stew proves that the ancient people knew how to prepare and enjoy their food! Although it is simple, it is nonetheless quite delicious. I know this is one dish that I will make again and again. It is adapted from The Classical Cookbook by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger.

I tweaked the recipe just a little - left out the rue as it is a plant that causes mild to severe contact dermatitis and didn't want to find out what it would do to my insides when ingested ... since my other motto (besides "waste not") is ... When in doubt, leave it out .... Although rue was a common pot herb in antiquity, it lost favor and faded out of the realm of culinary art. "Garum" or fish sauce also got axed - no creature extracts in my food please :D! And, although I like sweets just as much as the next person, I am not a fan of sweetened stews and veggies; so the honey and concentrated grape juice called "defrutum" were also left out. If you like your stews on the sweet side, you are of course welcome to add them (about a couple of teaspoons each).

Fresh mint and cilantro combine beautifully to cook up a mild but lusciously flavored stew. If you add more water to this dish, it can be served as a wonderful soup. Serve this superb stew/soup with simply prepared whole grains, a veggie dish and/or a salad for a filling and nutritious meal.  This dish works well with Indian meals too: with chapatis, rice, etc.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

1 cup brown/green Lentils
1 small Leek or white Onion, finely chopped
1 pinch Asafetida
1 Pinch Turmeric
1 Tsp Coriander Seeds
1/2 Tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
Sea Salt to taste
2 sprigs fresh Mint, chopped
1 handful fresh Coriander (Cilantro), chopped
2 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tsp White Wine Vinegar or fresh lime juice

Method:

Wash the lentils well and drain.

Bring about 3 cups of water to a boil; stir in the lentils, leek, turmeric and cook until lentils are soft.

While the lentils are simmering, toast the coriander seeds and the peppercorns lightly, cool, and grind into a powder with a couple of pinches of salt using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. For best results, use an electric spice grinder as coriander seeds are a bit tough to grind.

Add the asafetida, coriander-pepper mixture, mint and half the cilantro and gently simmer for about 10 more minutes. Mash the lentils with the back of the spoon until creamy.

Stir in more salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed.

Remove from heat and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the rest of the cilantro along with the vinegar or lime juice.

Spoon the lentils into a warmed serving dish and drizzle the olive oil on top. Serve hot. Enjoy!!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tofu Curry In Coconut Milk

Tofu curry is an easy weeknight dish - nutritious, filling and comforting. It was based on the tofu dish that Kou made for dinner. I added the coconut milk, sugar snap peas, and mushrooms to my version. Use the smaller amout of sambar/curry powder for a mild dish; for those who like it spicier, use the larger amount, add one or two hot peppers, and/or offer some Sambal Oelek at the table.

6 servings

Ingredients:

1 block (14-16 oz.) firm Tofu
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced finely
1/2 small Red Onion, diced
1/2 Tsp Turmeric
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
1-3 Tsp Sambar Powder Or Curry Powder
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce

2 tsp Oil
1/2 small Red Onion, diced
4-8 oz. Mushrooms, sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 pinch Each, Turmeric and Salt
1 cup Thick Coconut Milk
1 cup Sugar Snap Peas, ends trimmed and cut diagonally into two pieces
Cornstarch slurry - mix 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 2 Tbsp water
a handful of fresh Cilantro and Green Onions, chopped
A handful of roasted Cashews or Peanuts
Freshly cooked Rice, to serve

Method:

Drain the tofu well.

Combine half the ginger, all of the sambar/curry powder, salt and turmeric in a bowl; stir in the soy sauce and onions. Add tofu and mix gently to coat and let marinate while preparing other ingredients; toss gently once in a while to keep everything well mixed. Let tofu marinate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Heat the oil in a kadai/wok and add the remaining ginger, mushrooms, and onions with a pinch of salt and turmeric; cook until the onions soften and the mushrooms brown a little.

Stir in the tofu and cook covered for about 5 minutes or so folding gently so as not to break up the tofu.

Stir in the bell pepper and coconut milk and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

Add the snap peas and cook for about 2-3 minutes more.

If the sauce is too thin, stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook until thickened.

Sprinkle with the cilantro and green onions.

Serve hot garnished with the nuts over steaming rice. Enjoy!!