Monday, November 18, 2013

Hema's Indian Style Coleslaw (Marinated Veggies)

Delicious Indian Coleslaw is a hit! - everyone who tried, absolutely loved it. Hema calls it Vegetable Achar or Achards Des Legumes - as the veggies get a bit pickled in the marinade. Use as a topping on any bread for a lovely, fresh tasting bruschetta, as a filling for a spring roll, wrap, or a sandwich, and as a side dish. With all the fresh tasting and crunchy veggies, Indian Coleslaw really satisfies one's craving for the munchies :-). So go ahead and make a big batch ... you'll be glad you did.

Note: My favorite is apple cider vinegar and I do not use any sweetener. Any vinegar may be used including rice vinegar. When you use a vinegar other than seasoned rice vinegar, you might like to add about 1/2 tsp sugar, agave syrup, or other sweetener to the coleslaw to mellow the bite of the vinegar. 

Hema's Indian Coleslaw (photo by Hema)

1 Tbsp brown Mustard Seeds, coarsely ground
1/2 tsp - 1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 medium Onion
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
4-5 Mild/Hot Green Chiles
1 small Carrot
1 large handful of Green Beans
1 pinch Turmeric
Sea Salt to taste
1/4 small Cabbage
1/4 cup Vinegar


Peel the onion and cut into fine slivers lengthwise, end to end.

For a mild achar, core all or some of the chiles, discard the cores with the seeds and pith, and slice the into strips or mince them.

Slice all the other veggies finely; I like to slice the carrots and beans lengthwise into thin strips and then diagonally into fine shreds.

Heat the oil in a large kadai or skillet; add the mustard and let sizzle for about 15 seconds.

Stir the onions and stir for about 30 seconds.

Add the garlic, chiles, turmeric, carrot, green beans along with the salt and stir cook for about a minute or two until the beans are hot and bright green.

Toss the cabbage in, stir well, and cook for about a minute or until heated through.

Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar; mix well. Spoon into clean, dry jars or other containers with tight fitting lids.

Cool and store in the fridge. Use a clean, dry spoon to take out what is needed and do not return any leftovers to the jar/container.

The coleslaw will last about 10 days to two weeks. That said, mine have lasted for weeks; many times, the jars get pushed to the back of the fridge and get forgotten! Still crunchy and delicious after weeks!

Serve on toasted bread, rolled in a roti or as a side dish; think of the pickled veggies in a Banh Mi sandwich - use in any sandwich to add flavor and crunch. Delish! Enjoy!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fragrant Pumpkin/Winter Squash Stew In Coconut Milk

A very easy but rewarding stew that finds its way into everyone's favorite stew list!  Although similar to the Kerala special Olan, this stew has a bit of spice as well as onions. The simmering results in velvety soft veggies some of which melt into the cooking liquid to make a delectable rich sauce.

Fresh curry leaves and freshly ground cumin are the essential flavorings; if curry leaves are unavailable, use cinnamon sticks and bay leaves in addition to the cumin. Green chiles add their magical flavor; removing the core keeps the stew mild. Leave the chiles whole with the blossom ends slightly split for a milder stew; remove and discard the chile at the end of cooking.

You may use any flavorful pumpkins, winter squash or orange-colored sweet potatoes for this stew. I have used them all singly or in various combinations with great results.

Banana squash Stew

 Butternut (l), Castillo (at the back), and Banana squash in front

1 Tbsp Coconut oil
1 large Onion, sliced thinly into halfmoons
about 3 lbs. Any Pumpkin/Winter Squash
1-2 Hot Green Chiles (optional), cored and sliced
1 can Coconut Milk (14 oz. )
1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds, coarsely ground
3-4 sprigs Fresh Curry Leaves, crushed
Sea Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 cup raw or roasted Cashews

Ready for cooking

cooked Onion slices

Peel and cut the pumpkin/squash into bite size pieces.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions, curry leaves and chile; sprinkle a pinch of salt and cook stirring until softened and beginning to color.

Add the pumpkin/squash with turmeric, the rest of the salt, about a cup of water and the coconut milk.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes; if the stew looks dry, add a little boiling water to thin to desired consistency.

Stir in the freshly ground cumin seeds and simmer covered until the veggies are soft, about 10 more minutes.

Serve hot over your favorite grains, with roti or other breads. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sooji Halwa (Cream Of Wheat Cake)

I had given up on enjoying traditional halwa as it is made with ghee. Following a whim, I made it with Earth Balance, a butter substitute and Wow! life got a whole lot better :)! Easy to make and simply delicious, this halwa is low in fats too. It was indeed a Happy Diwali!

Any leftovers may be saved in the fridge and reheated to serve; store in the freezer for longer storage.

Makes about 6 cups of Halwa


1 cup fine Cream of Wheat
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance (butter substitute)
7-8 Green Cardamom Pods
1 small pinch Saffron (Optional)
1/4 cup Raw Cashew pieces
1/4 cup Raisins


Dry roast the cream of wheat either in a skillet or in a 350 degree F oven until deep golden; roasting in a skillet will require constant stirring; it burns easily if not careful. Let cool slightly while you proceed with the water.

Heat 2 and 1/3 cups of water to boiling; stir in sugar and Earth Balance.

Reduce the heat to low and pour the cream of wheat in a gentle stream into the sugar water while stirring constantly.

Cover and cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 8 - 10 minutes stirring every couple of minutes so that the bottom does not burn.

While the halwa is cooking, crush the cardamoms slightly to gather the seeds and discard the green skins.  Grind the seeds finely with the saffron if using and a teaspoon of sugar; sugar helps to grind the spices better.

Toast the cashews with a tsp of Earth Balance and when golden, add raisins and cook for another minute. Watch and stir the nuts constantly; they burn easily.  

When the halwa has absorbed all of the liquid, turn off the heat, sprinkle the cardamom, the nuts and raisins and mix well.

Cover the halwa and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  The halwa may be scooped and served or it can be spread in a pan while still hot and cut into pieces as desired after cooling a little.

Serve hot or warm. Enjoy!!