Friday, April 24, 2015

Non-Dairy "Yogurt" Rice! (Rice With Tofu "Yogurt")

Yogurt Rice with Mango Pickle, Zucchini With Besan, Papadams
You read that right, yes non-dairy! Vegan Yogurt Rice - really and truly vegan! South Indian people raised on yogurt for every meal would appreciate the joy of this vegan version. I had been trying to make vegan yogurt a long time. I tried to find plain unflavored soy or coconut yogurt as a substitute for regular yogurt but have not been lucky to find them. Life without a yogurt substitute has not been easy - but not anymore :-). Now we can have our fill of recipes that usually include yogurt as an important ingredient!

In my quest for a replacement for regular yogurt, I made cashew yogurt; it was absolutely lovely but a bit expensive, not practical for daily consumption. Although I had toyed with the idea of making a tofu yogurt for a long time, I just honestly did not find the idea very exciting - until I did it - thinking that if it did not work, I could always compost it!

Long story short, I plunged ahead and made the tofu yogurt and liked it well. But when I made it into the quintessential South Indian Yogurt Rice, I could have cried for the joy! The simple seasonings (mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger and green chile) turned it into an amazing taste treat - Oh, so creamy and satisfying! In a pinch, even when made without the essential mustard seeds, it was great. Really that good. Period. Even lifelong connoisseurs of traditional yogurt rice loved it!

No potlucks or picnics could be complete without yogurt rice! We absolutely need yogurt rice to go with the custormary Puliyodari that we adore. Now we can enjoy it to our hearts' content.

Soy-Free Option: Use any other non-dairy yogurt; cashew-gurt, almond or coconut yogurt, etc maybe used instead of the "tofu yogurt" given in the recipe.


You can use any type of rice you like or have on hand; I have used Basmati, Brown, regular white, Jasmine, Japanese Sushi rice, long, short, or medium grain, etc. All types of rice lend themselves to being made into yogurt rice.

Although the silken soft tofu is ideal, any type of tofu maybe used. I have used all kinds of tofu with good results. 

6 - 8 Servings


1 Recipe Tofu Yogurt:
1 block (14 oz) Tofu, preferably Silken Soft, but any will do
1/4 tsp Salt
Juice from 1 Lemon/Lime

1 cup uncooked Rice (Brown, white, Sushi rice)
1 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 hot Green Chile, cored and minced
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
1 Stem Curry Leaves, sliced
1 pinch Asafetida (optional)

Pomegranate Arils, Ripe Mango cubes, cut sweet grapes, etc for serving
Mango or Lemon Pickles for Serving
Gothsu or other curries for serving


Soak the rice in plenty of water for about 30 minutes.

While rice is soaking, make the yogurt: Combine drained tofu, salt, and lemon/lime juice in the container of a blender with about 1 cup of water; whirl until smooth. Taste for lemon and salt; add more if needed. Chill until needed.

Drain, rinse and add 2 + 1/2 cups of fresh water to the rice. Stir in salt, bring to a boil, and cook over low heat until soft and water is absorbed; set aside to cool to lukewarm or room temperature.

Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the asafetida.

Remove the oil pan from heat and carefully stir in the ginger, green chile, and the curry leaves.

Return to heat and cook until the green chiles are softened.

Pour the spice mix over the rice along with the tofu mixture; stir well and check for seasonings; add a little salt if needed - yogurt rice should not be too salty.

Also add a little cool water to thin to the right consistency - it should be like a thick pudding.

Let sit covered for about 30 minutes if you can wait :-).

Serve right away or later. Yogurt Rice gets better overnight allowing all the flavors to combine and marry. Any leftovers may be stored in the fridge and served cold or gently warmed.

Sprinkle each serving with pomegranate arils, mango cubes, chopped roasted cashews, etc if you like.

Traditional accompaniments are Mango/Lemon Pickles, Eggplant or another type of Gothsu, any curry, fried yogurt chiles, etc.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Okra With Onions and Tomatoes

Okra is a well-beloved veggie all over India. It was one of my favorites as a child! Loved it cooked simply in a saute or with onions and tomatoes. If tomatoes are unavailable, add a little lime juice or a sprinkle of aamchoor (dried green mango powder) towards the end of cooking to remove the stickiness.

Serve okra with rice/grains, flat breads like roti/chapati or naan, any dal and/or kadhi. If fresh okra is not readily available, use frozen okra!

Okra with Onions and Tomatoes


1 1/2 lbs Okra, stem removed and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 - Tbsp Oil
1 big Pinch Brown Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Dried Red Chile flakes
1 pinch Asafetida (Optional)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 - 2 Hot Green Chiles, ends slit
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 large Tomato, finely chopped
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp finely chopped Cilantro leaves


Wash the okra and drain thoroughly; spread on a kitchen towel lined with paper towels to absorb all the moisture. Let dry while you prepare the other veggies.

Wipe the okra if it is still moist; cut off the stems at the very top and slice into 1/2" pieces.

Heat oil in a large kadai (Indian wok)/skillet and add the mustard seeds.

When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the rest of the spices in the order given.

Stir well and add green chiles and onion with a pinch of the salt; stir cook for about 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften.

Add the tomato and cook for about 2 minutes or until they begin to soften.

Stir in okra and the salt and mix well.

Cover and cook over medium heat stirring often but gently so as not to break up the okra.

Remove from heat as soon as the okra are tender - they should be done in about 10 minutes.

Serve hot sprinkled with the cilantro.

Rice & Kadhi With Okra with Onions & Tomato

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Non-Dairy Kadhi (Simple Vegan Kadhi With Tofu Or Coconut Milk)

I made this Kadhi just to see if it would work using tofu or coconut milk instead of the traditional yogurt or buttermilk. And work it does - golden deliciousness!! So use tofu or coconut milk - your choice - both work brilliantly.

If green chiles are not handy, dried red chiles may be substituted - just add along with the spices to the oil. I like using both red and green chiles for their unique flavors.

After trying the recipe, you can adjust the thickness as you wish; add more besan for a thicker kadhi or more water for a thinner one. Add lime/lemon juice to your taste.

Panch Phodan or Phoran is a spice mix of whole seeds - brown mustard, nigella, cumin, fenugreek and ajwain; check this recipe for details.

Kadhi over Basmati Rice and Okra with Onions & Tomato

1 cup any Tofu OR 1 cup regular Coconut Milk (not beverage)
2 Tbsp Besan
2 tsp Oil
1 tsp Panch Phodan
4-5 whole Cloves
1 (1") piece Cinnamon Stick
1 small Onion, chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh Ginger, finely chopped
2 hot Green Chiles, cored and chopped
1 stem fresh Curry Leaf, sliced
1 Tomato, diced (optional)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Lemon/Lime, juiced


If using Tofu, place in the container of a blender with 1/2 cup of water and a pinch of salt and give it a whirl until smooth.

Combine the processed tofu from above or the coconut milk and besan in a bowl and whisk until mixed well; set aside. Alternately, the besan mixture may be whirled in the blender to get a smooth mixture.

Heat oil in a sauce pan and add the seeds and whole spices; when the popping subsides in just a minute or so - do not let the spices burn - add onions if using, the curry leaves, ginger, green chiles, turmeric and salt. Cook stirring for about a minute until onions begin to soften.

Stir in the tomatoes if using and mix well.

Pour the besan/tofu/coconut milk mixture into the pan and stir well. Add a cup of water to the bowl, stir to gather any besan left in it and add to the pan.

Cook the kadhi stirring often until it almost comes to a boil - you want to watch closely as kadhi has a tendency to boil over!

Reduce the heat and simmer very gently for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Stir in half the lemon/lime juice and taste; add more lemon/lime and salt if needed. Kadhi should be a little lemony but not sour.

Serve hot over freshly cooked grains with your favorite veggies and papadams on the side.


Non-Dairy Kadhi