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


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


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!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sambal Oelek (Red Chile Sauce)

Sambal Oelek is simply a ground up Indonesian chile sauce. Although it is readily available for purchase, I was not willing to swallow some of the ingredients that are in commercial offerings. So I decided to embark on a mission to make my own :D.

Once you prepare this easy and delicious sambal, you will find many uses for it as a condiment and as an ingredient in all kinds of recipes. It has become an indispensable one in our household! It is spooned on stir-fries, burgers, scrambles - in short wherever a touch spice or heat is needed!

I was sure that I needed fresh red chiles, but the only fresh ones that I was (and still am) able to acquire are Fresno (ripe Jalapeno) chiles. When I made the sambal, my family found that the sambal was not spicy enough! (true :D) so, I started adding habanero chiles to hike up the heat quotient.


1 lb Fresh red Chiles
6-12 fresh habanero chiles (optional)
1/4 cup Apple Cider or White Vinegar
1 tsp Sea Salt


Wash the chiles well and drain. Pull or slice off the stems.

Combine chiles with the vinegar and salt and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer covered for about 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool covered to room temperature.

Process the chiles with the cooking liquid using a blender or food processor until pureed but still slightly chunky; I like to leave a little texture.

Pour into a sterilized jar with tight-fitting lids and keep in the refrigerator or freeze for longer storage.

Serve with your favorite munchies. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Basic Bean Soup

Here is a blue print for a simple and satisfying bean soup - using any bean you like: split peas, lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc, etc. Pinto or black beans and lentils are a couple of my favorites. This recipe produces a wonderfully filling soup. You might like to use a combination of your favorite beans and other veggies like zucchini, green beans, etc to suit your personal preferences.

8 Servings


2 cups your favorite Beans
1-2 dried Red Chile pepper
1 sprig each, Oregano and Thyme
1 Bay Leaf, fresh or dry
1/4 cup barley
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Red Pepper (Cayenne)
1 large Onion, chopped
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1 pinch Asafetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric
3-4 tender inner ribs of Celery
2-3 Carrots, diced or grated
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 cups Corn Kernels, fresh or frozen
3-4 Ripe Tomatoes, chopped or pureed
1/2 cup EACH Parsley and Cilantro, chopped


Sort, wash, and soak the beans; cook the beans with the barley and the chile and herbs until soft; see this post for more info on how to cook beans. When the beans are cool, fish out the herb stems and chile and discard them.

Heat the oil in a large pot and add the asafetida and red pepper; stir in the onions with a pinch of salt and cook covered over moderate heat until onions are softened.

Add the celery, carrots and the turmeric and cook covered for about 5 more minutes.

Stir in bell pepper, corn, tomatoes and the cooked beans; add salt and pepper to taste and bring the soup to a boil.

Reduce heat, and simmer gently for 30 minutes; if the soup is too thick, add boiling water as necessary.

Turn off the heat and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the parsley/cilantro and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Serve hot with crusty bread, a crisp salad, and other favorite accompaniments. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bitter Melon Salad (Parikkai Salad)

This is not a joke; you really can make a delicious salad with bitter melon :D. But to give you fair warning, it is a salad for Bitter Melon afficianados or at least those who enjoy veggies with a bitter flavor.

It is really very simple to make; the trick is to cut the bitter melon and all the other veggies very thin - the thinner the better; a mandoline or a food processor is a great help with this. The preserved lime/lemon adds a fabulous touch; so do use it if you can. You may substitute middle eastern preserved lemon rind for the pickle.

The traditional thalippu/tadka is another way to add to the taste. Whether you add thalippu or not, bitter melon makes a delicious salad.

2 Servings


1 medium young Bitter Melon, very thinly sliced
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
1 hot green Chile, cored and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp rind from Lime/Lemon Pickle, finely chopped (optional)
2-3 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/2 Lime/Lemon, juiced
Sea Salt

Thalippu/Tadka: (Optional)
1 tsp oil
1 pinch Brown Mustard seeds
1 small pinch Asafetida
1 hot green chile, cored and chopped
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves, chopped fine


Sprinkle the bitter melon with salt to taste, and lightly crush with your fingers to bruise them. Place in a colander and drain the excess juices.

Blot the bitter melon slices dry using paper towels.

Combine all the veggies, lime/lemon rind, herbs; drizzle the lime juice and toss to coat.

Chill the salad for about 30 minutes so the flavors can develop.

If you are adding the thalippu, heat oil and with brown mustard seeds until they dance and pop, stir in the asafetida, and saute the green chile and curry leaves until soft; stir this into the prepared salad.

Toss to mix again before serving with your favorite meal. Enjoy!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mushrooms With Onions & Tomatoes

Mushrooms are low in calories and are a rich source of minerals and protein. Here is another delicious way to eat more of them :-}! These are fabulous served warm over toast or English muffins for a quick snack or meal.

Mushrooms with onions and tomatoes may be made ahead; reheat and then add the parsley and lime/lemon just before serving. For those who include dairy, a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese might be a welcome addition.

For more ways to enjoy mushrooms, try stuffed with cream cheese, Stroganoff, ragout and creamy sauce. Or add them to fried rice, risotto, soups, and salads.

4 Servings


1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Red Pepper flakes
1/4 tsp Turmeric
8 oz Mushrooms, any kind - thickly sliced
1 small to medium Onion, chopped finely
2-3 Ripe Tomatoes, finely chopped
Sea Salt to taste
4 Tbsp fresh Parsley, finely chopped
a little fresh Lime/Lemon juice
Freshly cooked grains or Pasta, Warm toast or English muffins to serve


Heat the oil with the onion, a pinch of salt, red pepper flakes and turmeric and cook over moderate heat until onions are soft.

Stir in the mushrooms and cook until they begin to exude some moisture.

Stir in the tomatoes with salt to taste and cook covered for about 20 to 25 minutes over low heat stirring now and then.

Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.

Sprinkle with a squirt of lime/lemon juice to taste and mix well.

Serve hot/warm over pasta, toast, or English muffins. Enjoy!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cuban Black Bean Soup

Cuban Black Bean Soup With Cilantro Lime Rice and Avocado
Cuban Black Bean Soup is deliciously nutritious, comforting, hearty, and filling as only bean soups can be. The aromatic vegetable mixture known as soffrito, a melange of coarsely chopped onion, celery and carrots enrich the soup with flavor and color. In addition to the soffrito, the soup is full of bits of red bell pepper, sweet corn kernels, tomatoes and redolent with freshly ground cumin and oregano. If you like garlic, you may add a clove or two after the onions have cooked for about 5 minutes.

Although it will not taste as good, canned black beans may be substituted for the freshly cooked. Do use the smoked paprika for its wonderful flavor. For a fantastic and complete meal serve the Black Bean Soup with a scoop of lime and cilantro scented rice.

4-6 Servings


1 cup dry Black Beans
1-2 sprigs fresh Oregano
1 whole Red Dried Chile
1 Tbsp Oil
2 ribs Celery, chopped
1 medium Onion, chopped
1-2 medium Carrots, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen Corn Kernels
4-5 Ripe Tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp freshly ground Cumin seeds
1 tsp dried Oregano, crushed
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 cup Cilantro, finely chopped


Diced Avocado
Rice with lime juice and cilantro
Tortilla chips
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Cilantro leaves
Diced Onions
Finely diced Jalapenos


Pick over the beans, wash well and soak overnight in fresh water to cover.

Drain the beans and cook in fresh water to cover until soft with the chile and oregano sprigs. Alternately use a pressure cooker to make quick work of cooking the beans. Remove and discard the chile and herb sprigs when the beans are cool.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot and cook slowly the celery, onions, and the carrots until the onion is translucent. Be careful not to brown.

Add the corn and red pepper along with the beans and their cooking liquid. Add hot water if necessary to get the right consistency.

Stir in the paprika, cumin and oregano.

Simmer the soup gently for about 20 to 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

When the veggies are tender, turn off the heat.

Serve hot with cilantro. Offer the toppings in bowls so each person can add their favorites. Enjoy!!