Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Oven-Roasted Aloo Gobhi Without Fats/Oils

Wow, no fat added in this luscious Aloo Gobhi - an all time favorite dish you can enjoy guilt free! Roasting leaves one free to do other things. If you wish, Aloo Gobhi maybe cooked on stove top; cook in a skillet or Dutch Oven with a tight-fitting lid on low heat until the veggies are tender and then uncover to finish cooking for the moisture to evaporate a bit so the veggies are not soggy.

I usually serve Aloo Gobhi with roti, rice or other grains and a bean dish like Dal, Rajma, Dal Makhani, or Chole and some type of a chopped salad. Delicious!

Variations: Add colorful sweet peppers, carrot slices, and/or peas - whatever is in the fridge or suits your fancy at the time.

About 6 - 8 Servings

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, separated into bite-sized florets
3 Medium Potatoes, scrubbed clean and cubed
1 medium Onion, diced
1 tbsp freshly grated Ginger

Spice mix:

Salt to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1/2 - 1 tbsp ground Cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Kashmiri/Red Chili powder Or Paprika

1 tsp ground Garam Masala
1 Tbsp Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)
3-4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped + extra for garnish

Directions:

Place the onion, cauliflower and potatoes along with the ginger in a large bowl. Add the spice mix and toss well to coat.  Let sit for about 10 minutes - this allows the salt to draw some of the moisture in the veggies and lets the spices coat and cling to them.

Start heating the oven to 400 degrees F while the veggies are resting.

Prepare a large rimmed baking pan and line with parchment paper to fit.

Toss the veggies to mix well and tip them onto the pan and spread evenly.

Bake until the vegetables are tender, about 30 - 40  minutes. Check occasionally, stir to cook evenly and add a little sprinkle of water if necessary to keep the vegetables from drying out too much. Alternatively, cover the veggies with a same size baking pan for the first 10 - 20 minutes so they don't dry out but are moist.

Sprinkle the garam masala over the veggies, stir to combine, and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

Remove Aloo Gobhi from the oven when done and mash a few of the potato pieces with a fork.

Sprinkle the crushed Kasoori Methi and the chopped cilantro and mix gently; let rest covered for about 10 minutes.

Serve hot garnished with cilantro. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Taro Stems With Coconut (Chembu Thandu Thoran)

Taro Stem Thoran w/Rice & Taro Leaf Lentil Stew
Taro Stem Thoran is a delicious side dish to go with any type of Indian stews made with lentils or served by itself with rice, other grains or breads. I like to roll it up in a roti burrito fashion for a lovely snack or lunch on the go. If I do not have enough taro stems, I like to add kale or chard (silver beet) stems, their leaves or diced zucchini, also. Beet greens and stems are great too. This time added chard stems.

I used very mild green chiles, New Mexico Chiles - the plants were gift from a neighbor :)! The taro and chard were homegrown as well.

If using dried coconut, use unsweetened.

Ingredients:

14-16 fresh Taro Stems 
1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Chana Dal
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
2 dry Red chiles, broken into two
1-2 Green Chiles, chopped
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp freshly ground Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 cup grated Coconut, fresh, frozen or dry

Method:

Trim the taro stems and remove the strings like a celery by lightly peeling. Slice the stems in medium slices or chop into small cubes.

Heat a skillet with the oil and add mustard seeds, the dals and red chile; when mustard seeds subside popping, add green chile, curry leaves, and the taro stems. Stir well, cover and cook over moderate heat for about 20 minutes or until soft and cooked well.

Sprinkle the ground cumin and the coconut on top and stir and cook until hot.

Remove from heat and serve hot with rice or other grains and sambar, a dal or bean dish.

Enjoy!!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Black Bean Burgers (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Black Bean Burger
Burgers are popular with or without a bun piled with all the traditional additions of lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, etc or  tucked inside the pockets of pita breads with your favorite fixings for a very satisfying meal. Black Bean Burgers are not exceptions; they are fabulous additions to the comfort food repertoire. I like serving these burgers on crisp shredded Romaine lettuce along with avocado slices, tomatoes and onions with some fresh salsa, tomato chutney or  tomato sauce for topping.

The burgers may be made a day or two ahead and grilled with a little barbecue sauce to warm them. These burgers are not as tough as the store-bought ones and hence need to be handled gently while cooking and grilling.

I used crushed tortillas and added a bit of organic rolled oats to bind; the tortillas add to the southwest flavors along with the spices. Whole grain bread or cracker crumbs may be used if you don't need to go gluten-free.

Two 15 oz cans of black beans maybe used instead of cooking your own. If you use canned beans, you may not need too much salt as they typically have lots of it already.

Extra burgers maybe frozen for up to 3 months.

8 large burgers

Ingredients:

1 cup dry Black Beans, cooked
1 Bay Leaf
2 dried hot Peppers
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Carrot, shredded
1 medium Beet, shredded
3-4 sweet Mini Peppers
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
4 Scallions, finely chopped
4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
2 Corn Tortillas
2- 4 Tbsp gluten-free Oats
2 Tbsp Ground Flax Seeds
1 Tbsp Cumin seeds,freshly ground
2 tsp ground Coriander seeds
1-3 tsp ground New Mexico Chiles
1/2 - 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp Cayenne (optional)
1 tsp Salt or to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
Oil for brushing skillet

To Serve:

Burger buns, English muffins
Lettuce, your favorite kind
Tomato slices
Avocado slices
Onion slices, raw and/or caramelized
Dill Pickle slices
Mustard, prepared
Vegan Mayo
Hot Sauce and/or BBQ sauce

Black Bean Burger Ingredients

Method:

Sort, soak and cook the black beans with the bay leaf and whole dried chiles until soft. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard bay leaf and chiles and drain while still warm; reserve the broth for mixing to make the burgers if needed or add to soup. Beans maybe made 1-2 days ahead and reserved in the fridge or frozen upto 3 months.

Process the corn tortillas if using into coarse crumbs; spread on a plate and let dry while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Shred/finely chop carrots, beets, garlic and peppers using the food processor. Scoop into a large bowl.

If using home-cooked beans, drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Mash the beans using a potato masher or use a food processor to mash them coarsely with a few pulses.

Add the other burger ingredients including the chopped/shredded carrots and beets except the scallions and cilantro and pulse a few times just until combined. If the mixture is too soft, add a little more oats and pulse a couple of times to incorporate. Turn out the mixture into the bowl.

Fold in the scallions and cilantro; taste. Adjust spices and seasonings.

Chill the bean mixture for about one or two hours or overnight if possible.

Form the bean mixture into eight equal patties (or make more smaller ones) and cook them in a skillet or griddle lightly brushed with oil over low-medium heat until on both sides are browned - about 5-6 minutes per side.

Serve hot with your favorite accompaniments. Enjoy!!
Black Bean Burger

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Herbed "Yogurt" Dip & Spread

"Yogurt" Dip With Herbs 
Herbed "Yogurt" Dip & Spread is a very easy and quick dip to serve with crackers and veggies. I cobbled this recipe up when I decided to serve fresh veggies as a starter impromptu and didn't have much time before the guests arrived. I quickly prepped some fresh veggies and stirred up a bit of yogurt with the herbs and a pinch of onion flakes; much to my delightful surprise, the dip got rave reviews and everyone wanted the recipe! So here it is.

Now that a vareity of non-dairy yogurts are available, this dip is easy to make. I used to make it with  homemade "yogurt" (soaked and ground cashews/almonds with a bit of lime/lemon juice to give the tangy yogurt taste).

If your yogurt is a bit on the runny side, line a strainer with a piece of clean muslin or tea towel and and add yogurt (stir in a pinch of salt first as the salt helps to remove moisture); place the strainer over a bowl and put in the fridge. Let it drain until desired thickness is achieved.

Ingredients:

Greek style plain, unsweetened "yogurt", any type
Dried Onion flakes, crushed using a mortar & pestle
Dried Italian Herbs
Dried Oregano
Salt and Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Method:

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; reserve covered tightly in the refrigerator until time to serve. That's it!

Serve with assorted veggies and/or crackers of your choice. Enjoy!!

White Bean & Carrot Spread/Hummus Or Dip

White Bean-Carrot Dip With Rice Crackers & Veggies
White Bean & Carrot Spread/Hummus Or Dip is delicious as a starter with veggies or crackers; our favorites are assorted veggies along with rice crackers. It is great to spread in sandwiches and wraps also. This gorgeous dip gets its lovely color from the carrots. It is naturally gluten and dairy free as well as oil free; hence guilt free too!

White bean dip is a delicious alternative to the regular hummus made with garbanzo beans and is just as easy to make. It is fabulous!

Notes:

Check this post on cooking beans if you like; cooking beans is not hard and procduces delicious as well as economical results. The best part is that you can put aside or freeze the extras for another time or another dish like Turkish Bean Soup or Greek Fasolatha!

Canned beans maybe used as well; one 15 oz can of great northern or cannelini would probably be about the right amount (please measure to check as I am not sure the amount of beans in a can).

If fresh herbs are not handy, used a couple of pinches of the dried ones.

For a variation, substitute 2 roasted peeled red bell peppers for the carrot.

White Bean-Carrot Dip & Ingredients
Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cup cooked Great Northern Beans 
2 sprigs Each - fresh Oregano and fresh Marjoram
1 sprig fresh Rosemary
1 dried hot Red Pepper (optional)
1 Carrot, peeled and cooked until tender
1 small clove Garlic, peeled and trimmed (optional)
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Optional Garnishes:
1-3 tsp Good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 pinches Paprika or Cayenne
Herb sprigs
Chopped Toasted Nuts 

Method:

If using dried beans, sort the beans, wash and soak in plenty of fresh water. Drain the soaking water, cover with fresh water and cook with the herb sprigs along with the red pepper until soft. When cooled a bit, discard the woody stems of the herbs and the red pepper if using.

Place the peeled garlic if using, with a pinch of salt in the food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade; finely mince the garlic.

Measure out the warm beans and add to the processor bowl along with the salt and pepper. If using canned beans, add a pinch of the herbs as the beans will not have the advantage of being scented with them. Process until finely chopped with a few pulses.

Tip in the carrots and process into a smooth puree using some of the cooking liquid from the beans.

Scrape into a bowl and store tightly covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

Place the white bean dip in a shallow dish; drizzle with a little olive oil if you like and dust lightly with a little paprika or red pepper.

Garnish with the herb sprigs and nuts if using when ready to serve.

Serve with crisp veggies, rice crackers, and/or toasted ciabatta or other good crusty bread, pita bread, etc. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Smoky Lentil Soup With Picada

We love all things lentil and this Spanish-style lentil soup is a favorite! Lentil soup can serve as a main dish, light meal or as a starter. 

The soup begins with preparing a flavorful base called sofrito, common to most soups, an aromatic combination of onion, celery, and carrots (love to add lots of carrots which add color, texture, and sweetness) plus garlic, tomato and smoky roasted peppers. The soup is finished with a nutty picada, a thick pesto-like sauce made of toasted bread, almonds, garlic, parsley, and a bit of olive oil. Typically the bread is fried in oil; but in order to keep the oil to a minimum, I opted to toast it instead. The soup is delicious just as it is, but the picada takes it to the next level. Picada is usually added towards the end of cooking.


Leftovers are fabulous for about a week or maybe frozen for up to 3 months. Or, turn the delicious leftovers into a yummy casserole: stir the soup into cooked grains and bake under a light blanket of your favorite vegan cheese and a sprinkle of seasoned regular/gluten-free bread or cracker crumbs until heated through and the crumbs are golden and crisp. 


Notes: 

The picada and sofrito maybe made ahead and kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen for longer storage. If you prepare extra sofrito, it can be added to boost the flavor of sauces, soups, stews, etc.


Parsnips maybe subbed for some or all of the carrots with great results. 

Instead of all almonds in the picada, half almonds and half hazel nuts maybe used.


Roasted piquillo peppers (available already roasted in jars/cans in the Latin Foods section of markets), maybe used instead of the roasted red bell peppers; use about 1/2 cup.

Servings

Picada

Ingredients:

2 slices day-old baguette or 1 slice Italian bread (about 1/2-inch thick)

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
1 Garlic clove, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp whole or slivered Almonds, skinless
4 Tbsp flat-leaf or Italian Parsley, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste

Method:

Trim off the crust 
 from the bread slices if you like. Toast the bread using a toaster until just golden; but not too browned. Cool and cut or break up the bread into small cubes or pieces.


Toast the almonds in a dry skillet until light gold and fragrant; or use purchased toasted unsalted almonds. Pour into a plate and let cool.


Alternatively, the bread cut into cubes and almonds maybe toasted together for about 7-8 minutes or until light gold on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree F oven. Remove promptly, pour into a cool plate and let cool.


Cook the garlic in one teaspoon of the olive oil in a small skillet over low-medium heat stirring frequently until just beginning to turn golden, about 2 - 3 minutes or so. 


Remove the pan from heat and let cool. 


Transfer the bread and the almonds to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until finely chopped.


Tip in the garlic with any oil remaining in the skillet and the parsley to the food processor bowl with the almond mixture. 


Pulse until finely chopped and well mixed for a coarse picada, or a few more times for a smooth paste (you may add a bit more olive oil a little at a time if you like to obtain a more sauce-like consistency). Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle to pound the picada into a coarse or smooth paste.


Spoon into a bowl or jar with a well-fitting lid.


If made ahead, keep the picada in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for up to six months.


Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

2 cups Lentils, soaked for 30 minutes and rinsed
1/2-3 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large Onion, finely diced
1-2 Celery ribs, finely diced
large Carrot, finely diced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 large Red Bell Peppers (freshly roasted/purchased), coarsely chopped
1 (28-oz) can whole Tomatoes, divided
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1-2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Cayenne (optional)
2 Bay Leaves
3-4 cups Vegetable Broth or water
1 to 3 Tbsp Picada, or to taste 
4 Tbsp Flatleaf Parsley, finely chopped

Method:

Soak the lentils in lots of water to cover for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain, rinse, and place in a pot.


Cook the lentils until quite tender in water to cover. Cooking maybe done using a regular pot, a pressure cooker or an instant pot. Set aside until needed.


Drain the tomatoes over a bowl to catch all the juices; crush the tomatoes coarsely with your hand or use a blender and keep them and the juices separate.

Heat a soup pot over medium heat. 

Add  the oil, 
bay leaves, and onion with a pinch of salt, and cook covered until soft but not browned, stirring occasionally, about 7 to 8 minutes over low-medium heat. Sprinkle a little water if the onions dry out.

Tip in the celery and carrot and cook covered, stirring occasionally, until softened - about 7 minutes or so. 

Stir in the garlic and cook for about another minute until garlic is softened.


Tip the crushed tomato pieces into the onion mixture and cook for a minute or two, stirring well until hot and well mixed.


Add the tomato juices, bell peppers, thyme, turmeric, smoked paprika, cayenne if using, cooked lentils with the cooking broth, salt, and freshly ground pepper.


Stir in some or all of the vegetable broth as needed to get the right consistency.

Add boiling water to thin the soup, if needed. B
ring the soup to a boil. 

When the soup comes a boil, lower the heat, and simmer partially covered for about 15 to 20 minutes stirring occasionally. 


Stir in enough of the picada to flavor the soup to your taste and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes. 


Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley, cover, and let rest for 5-10 minutes. 


Remove the bay leaves and discard them. Taste the soup and add more picada or seasonings if needed.


Serve hot and pass the rest of the picada at the table.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Non-Dairy Sambharam Or Namkin Lassi (Savory Spiced Lime/Lemon Mojito)

Non-Dairy Sambharam or Namkin (savory or salted) Lassi is a savory summertime mojito! It is a very popular cooling yogurt-based beverage all over India; Southern Indians call it Sambharam, Neer Mor, or Karacha Mor whereas in the North it is Namkin Lassi, Chaas, etc. This wonderful thirst-quenching beverage is also enjoyed in other areas of the world; my Armenian friends call it Tahn and Turkish call it Ayran! Some of the ingredients may vary, but the basics are the same - yogurt and water.

In India this beverage is made with cultured buttermilk; first the milk is cultured and set, then it is churned to remove the butter. What is left is low-fat buttermilk and it is consumed as is or in recipes.

Regular Sambharam was prepared especially in the summer to offer to pilgrims; my grandparents offered it to the yearly pilgrims who came by the house as well as the workers toiling in the hot tropical sun on their farm. We also enjoyed sambharam with the noon meal. If one wanted to go very light for an evening meal, one would take a small amount of cooked, mashed rice and make a kanji-like concoction with lots of the sambharam for "karacha mor sadam".

Sambharam was prepared simply with crushed lime leaves or curry leaves and a little salt in our homes. In lassi other ingredients such as roasted and ground cumin, black salt, black pepper or mint leaves maybe used. Although we mostly keep it simple at home, we do enjoy all the variations.

When we wanted to make it non-dairy, first I made it when I was making Cashew Cream/Yogurt; I added water and seasonings to the remnants left in the blender jar and voila! I had a delicious sambharam-like beverage. Shobhaa made the delicious lassai at home with coconut milk. We were at a restaurant in Delhi and the whole group wanted Namkin Lassi; not to leave me out, ingenious Shobhaa quickly went out to purchase a small carton of coconut milk and had the kitchen make the lassi for me! 

Coconut milk, plain coconut, cahew or almond yogurt, etc may be used to make Non-Dairy Sambharam/Namkin Lassi. Other unflavored non-dairy milks maybe used as well. The amount of coconut milk or yogurt and lime/lemon juice maybe adjusted to suit your preferences.

Variation: You may use Black Salt or Chaat Masala instead of the regular salt and sub Lime leaves or Mint for the Cilantro etc.

2 Servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Coconut Milk/Yogurt
2 cups Cool or Cold Water
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 small Hot Green Chile (any kind)
1 stem Fresh Curry Leaves
1 Lime/Lemon, juiced (start with 1/2 the amount)
1 Tbsp fresh Cilantro/Coriander
Ice cubes

Optional Garnishes:
Finely chopped Cilantro/Coriander
A sprig of Mint
A pinch of Roasted and ground Cumin
A little sprinkle of cayenne
A Pinch of Chaat Masala
A slice of Lime/Lemon
A thin slice of Green Chile

Method:

I like to chill regular coconut milk to let the cream rise to the top and keep the cream for other uses.Then use the skimmed milk part to make the sambharam/lassi.

Place all the ingredients in the carafe of a blender; add only half the lime/lemon juice at first. Whirl until liquified. Taste and add more lime/lemon, salt, etc to taste. If you like it super cold, a few ice cubes maybe added to the blender with the ingredients or pour the sambharam/lassi over some. Add some of the garnishes if you like. Enjoy!!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Ellu Sadam/Ellodarai (Rice With Toasted Sesame & Spices)

Ellu Sadam is traditionally made at home and in some Temples as offering particularly on certain Saturdays. At home, first the crows are fed some cooked rice in the mornings, then the freshly prepared sesame rice is blessed and usually shared with neighbors and friends before enjoying it.

Ellu Sadam/Ellodarai is delicious served with appalam (papadums), karuvadams or vadams (crisp rice noodles and papadams respectively). I like to pair it with a simple chopped tomato-cucumber salad.

Notes:

Black or white sesame seeds (unhulled) and black or white urid dal maybe used in any combination depending on how you want the resulting rice color; if you like lighter colored rice, use a combination of one white and one dark, and both white for a very light-colored results.

Sesame powder maybe prepared without black pepper also.

You can store the Sesame powder for a few days at room temperature or a few weeks in the fridge; for longer storage, keep in the freezer.

Peanuts maybe used instead of the cashews in the seasoning.

Seasoning with the mustards seeds, etc is not a must, as Sesame Rice is flavorful but it does add a bit more flavor and looks garnished.

If Indian sesame oil is not handy, use a mild oil; stir in 1/2 tsp of Chinese sesame oil at the end for the fantastic flavor.

6 Servings

Ingredients:

Sesame Powder:
4 Tbsp Black Sesame Seeds
2 Tbsp Black Urad Dal, (split kind)
1/8 - 1/2 tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
2-4 Dried Red Chiles
2 Stems Curry Leaves

Rice:
1 tsp Sesame oil (Indian)
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1Tbsp White Urad dal (skinless)
2-3 Tbsp raw Cashew pieces 
1 pinch Asafoetida (optional)
1 Stem Curry Leaves
1 tsp Salt
1 cup dry Rice, cooked and cooled

Method:

1. Heat a dry skillet or kadai add the seasme seeds; cook stirring over low-medium heat until they pop and dance and become fragrant. Cook on low-medium heat to prevent burning; as soon as they stop popping, remove from heat. Pour into a plate to cool.

2. In the same pan add red chillies, black pepper and urad dal; cook stirring untill dal turns light brown and fragrant. Stir in the curry leaves and cook stirring until they are almost dry. Pour into the plate with the sesame. Let cool completely.

3. When the sesame mixture is cool, grind to a coarse powder (a bit finer than cream of wheat or rava) using a spice grinder. Set aside until needed. The sesame powder maybe prepared in advance (see notes for storage ideas).

4. Fluff the cooked rice gently so as not to mash or break the grain; a sprinkle of water helps if the rice is dry. I find that breaking it up gently with wet fingers works very well. Set aside until ready to use.

5. Heat oil in a pan, when hot add mustard seeds. Let it start to pop.

6. Add urad dal and cook for 30 seconds.

7. Add cashews and stir-fry untill golden. Add asafetida if using; cook for 10 seconds.

8. Stir in the curry leaves, cook until they stop popping and become a bit dry.

9. Add the rice and salt to the pan along with the sesame powder; mix well to combine.

10. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Coconut Rice With Cashews & Curry Leaves (South Indian Coconut Rice/Thengai Sadam)

Coconut Rice evokes fond memories of the festival called Aadi or Pathinettam Perukku which is a festival celebrating the life-giving water and the bounty it brings to all life. This South Indian festival is celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month Aadi (hence the name "pathinettam") which falls somewhere at the end of July or beginning of August. It is a time of the Monsoons which bring water to the waterways and life to fields and streams. In thanksgiving and honor, women and girls go on a picnic by a water body whether it be a river, brook, pond or lake and enjoy Coconut Rice, Lemon Rice, Puliyodharai (Tamarind Rice), Yogurt Rice and other treats.

Most tropical countries have their own version of coconut rice; some are savory and others sweet. This savory South Indian version of coconut rice involves minimal preparation and easy to make. It uses freshly grated coconut which is toasted with other spices and added to cooked rice to make this aromatic rice. Traditionally this rice is served with karuvadams and pappadums, crispy rice noodles and lentil wafers respectively. Coconut rice maybe paired with a spicy vegetable stews and curries as well.

If using a fresh coconut, use about 1/2 of medium sized coconut. In a pinch, dried unsweetened coconut may be used as well; but first it should be hydrated well. Add about 1/2 cup dried coconut to a bowl with about 1/4 or so water and let soak until well hydrated. Discard any extra water if there is any before adding in step 4.

Ingredients:

1 cup dry Rice cooked and cooled to room temp
1 tsp oil
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Urad dal
3 dry Red Chilies
3 Tbsp raw Cashew pieces
1 stem Curry leaves, finely sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen Coconut, grated
1/2 tsp Salt or to taste

Method:

1. Heat oil in a pan, when hot add mustard seeds. Let it pop.

2. Add black gram dal, dry red chilies, and cook until dal turns pinkish.

3. Add cashews and fry till it turns richly golden. 

4. Add curry leaves and grated coconut. Toast the coconut on low-medium heat till it begins to turn golden - about 3-4 minutes. The heat may need to be adjusted as the coconut is toasting; if it starts to turn dark too quickly in spots, reduce heat.

5. Fluff the cooked rice gently so as not to mash or break the grain; a sprinkle of water helps if the rice is dry. I find that breaking it up gently with wet fingers works very well.

6. Add the rice and salt to the coconut mixture; mix well to combine.

7. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Crunchy, Munchy Cabbage Salad

A simple yet wonderfully colorful cruncy and delicious salad! All the veggies plus the almonds and sesame provide ample fiber, vitamins, anthocyanins, and even a good amount of protein. Cabbages and Kale belong to the Brassica or commonly known as cruciferous vegetables family along with broccoli and cauliflower and other veggies. The benefits of the Brassicas are numerous; they not only provide nutrients but also are anticancer, anti-inflammatory as well as protection from other diseases.

All of the veggies and nut/seeds and dressing maybe prepared ahead and tossed together just before serving; a great one for the weekdays.

The salad maybe prepared with one type of cabbage alone; other veggies maybe added or omitted also. Brussels sprouts, Napa Cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower, etc make great additions. Oil maybe added to the dressing if desired.

4-6 servings

Ingredients:

Dressing:

2-3 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1-3 tsp Maple syrup, or to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Salad:

1/2 Each small Green and Red Cabbages, thinly sliced or coarsely shredded (about 8 cups)
1 Carrot, coarsely shredded
2 Kale leaves, finely sliced
4-5 Scallions/Green Onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shelled, cooked, Edamame (optional)
4 Tbsp Almonds, sliced 
1 Tbsp Sesame seeds (preferably black)
1 pinch Red Pepper flakes (optional)

Method:

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Cover and set aside or chill until needed.

Prepare the veggies - remove the tough rib from kale and reserve for another dish; finely slice the leafy parts with a shart knife. Shred the cabbages and carrot.

Combine the all the veggies in a large bowl; if prepared ahead, store in a covered container in the fridge until needed.

Toast the almonds and sesame until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes in a dry skillet; remove from heat. 

Stir in the red pepper if using; the residual heat will toast them just right. If making ahead, cool completely and store in a covered container in the fridge. The nut/seed mixture maybe stored at room temp if it is going to be used up in a couple of days.

Mix the nut mixture into the salad when ready to eat to keep them crunchy.

Toss the salad with the dressing so all the ingredients are coated well with the dressing just before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve.

Enjoy!!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Easy One-Pot Biryani (Indian Layered Rice Pilaf With Vegetables)

If you like biriyani, a rice and vegetable casserole, this recipe is a must try. Everything is done in one pot in layers; although it is easy, it is quite flavorful and great for company too. When cooked in a glass dish in the oven, it makes a pretty presentation. Very family friendly!

A simple and easy recipe, biriyani is awesome accompanied simply by Chopped Salad, and papadams and non-dairy yogurt; but could be served with Salna or Korma or other curries like Aviyal, Vegetable Kofta, or any bean dishes like Chole or Rajma.

Notes:

If peas are fresh, add them about 5 minutes sooner; but frozen peas do not need very much cooking time and will do fine as directed in the recipe.

A favorite curry powder maybe used instead of the Biriyani/Garam masala and Kashmiri chile powder. Feel free to adjust and change the spices according to your preference.

Alternately, after layering in an oven-safe pan with cover, the biriyani may be baked in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 F. After baking, sprinkle saffron water and peas on top, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

After the biriyani is cooked, the whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaves, maybe fished out and discarded as they are not eaten; fennel seeds are fine and are not removed.

6 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

1½ cups Basmati Rice
3 cups boiling water
1 Tbsp Oil
½ tsp Fennel Seeds
3 Cloves
2-3 Cardamom Pods, slightly crushed
1-2 Brown Cardamoms, slightly crushed
1 one-inch piece Cinnamon
2 Bay leaves
½ tsp freshly ground Pepper
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
½ inch piece ginger, finely grated
1-2 Green Chiles (Jalapeno or Serrano) cored and minced
1 medium Carrot, diced
1 Potato, diced
3-5 Cauliflorets, separated into small florets
½ cup Green Beans, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup Green Peas, fresh/frozen
2 Tbsp Mint leaves, finely sliced in a chiffonade
4 Tbsp Coriander/Cilantro, include stems and leaves, chopped
1 small pinch Saffron dissolved in 2 Tbsp warm water

Combine: Spices & Salt
½ tsp turmeric
1½ tsp Salt
1 tsp ground Coriander
½ - 1 tsp Kashmiri Chile Powder/Paprika
1-2 Tbsp Biriyani Masala/Garam Masala

Toppings:
4 Tbsp Each toasted, chopped Cashews & Almonds
Cilantro sprigs and Mint leaves for garnishing

METHOD:

Wash and soak the rice in plenty of fresh water for 30 minutes. 

Prepare all the veggies and herbs; place veggies in one bowl and the herbs in another.

Combine all the ground spices and salt. Set aside.

Drain and rinse the rice.

Prepare boiling water and have it ready.

Heat the oil in 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. When the oil is hot, add fennel seeds, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaf and let the spices sizzle for just a few seconds and become fragrant. Stir in the ground pepper and mix well.

Tip the onion, green chiles, ginger and garlic if using into the pan; cook covered over low heat until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the salt-spice mixture and cook for about a minute. 

Mix the rice into the onion spice mixture and combine well; remove half and reserve.

Spread the veggies except the peas over the rice in the pan.

Distribute the cilantro and mint evenly over the veggies.

Now spread the reserved rice on top and slowly and carefully add the boiling water.

Cover the pan with a well fitting lid and cook the pulav undisturbed for 10 minutes on low heat.

Sprinkle the saffron water and peas on top, cover again and let it cook for 5 more minutes.

Let rest for 10 minutes without uncovering the pot. Mix well if you like; if baking in a shallow pan, it can be served in slices so each slice has all the ingredients.

Sprinkle the nuts and herbs; serve hot. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Lentil Or Kollu Masala (Sprouted [Or Not!] Lentil Or Horsegram/Muthirai/Kulith Curry)

Horse gram or Macrotyloma uniflorum, also known as Kollu, Muthirai, Kulith etc in various regions of India, is a well-loved legume as are lentils known as whole Masoor. Kollu is called horse gram as it is fed to racehorses to make them strong. Horse gram is considered very hearty and health giving - supposed to make one strong as a horse!

Save excess cooking water from the kollu and use it for making Kollu Rasam - a delicious treat!

Note: Sprouting legumes is pretty easy; just takes a little planning and time. If you cannot wait to sprout the legumes, go ahead and make the curry without sprouting; but I do highly recommend a good soak overnight or a bit longer for kollu. Lentils on the other hand, cook pretty quickly even without a soaking.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup dry Lentils or Kollu
1 tsp Oil
2 dried Red chiles
5 cloves
½ inch piece cinnamon
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground Coriander seeds
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced (optional)
½ inch piece ginger, minced
1-2 Green Chiles, cored and minced (Jalapeno or Serrano)
2 Tbsp fresh Coriander/Cilantro, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
½ tsp Turmeric
1 tsp salt
¼ -½ cup Coconut Milk
½ - 1 tsp Garam Masala

Garnish
4 Tbsp fresh Coriander/Cilantro, chopped

METHOD:

Soak, sprout, & cook the Lentils or Kollu/Horse gram:

Pick over, wash, and soak the gram in plenty of water to cover for a few hours or overnight. Drain, rinse, and keep covered for a few hours until tiny sprouts begin to appear. Sprouting may take a day or two depending on the weather; warm weather speeds up sprouting. 

Drain the sprouts, wash well, and cook in enough fresh water to cover until soft - about 40 to 50 minutes, checking often to make sure it doesn't dry out or burn. Alternately use your pressure cooker to speed up cooking. This can be done a day ahead.  Mash the lentils/kollu while still hot so that it becomes a little creamy. If made ahead, cool and refrigerate.

Make the curry:

Heat oil in a 2-3 quart/liter saucepan. Add the dried red chiles, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and bay leaf; let them sizzle, become fragrant, and slightly brown but not burned. 

Add the onions and cook covered until soft, about 4-5 minutes.

Add ground coriander and cook stirring for a few seconds.

Stir in ginger, chile, coriander/cilantro, and garlic if using and cook until they soften, about a minute.

Tip in the cooked lentils/horse gram with the cooking liquids along with the tomato, turmeric and the salt.

Cover, bring to a simmer and cook on low heat for about 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and garam masala; heat through. 

Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Fish out the chiles and discard.

Serve hot garnished with the coriander/cilantro with rice or roti. Enjoy!!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Masala Bruschetta (Indian Style Toast With Veggie Topping)

Masala Bruschetta is a lovely snack, starter, or even a healthy breakfast! It is similar to Pav Bhaji but a lot simpler and quick with fewer ingredients. Served with a cup or two of Masala Chai, it fills the bill very nicely.

NOTES:

Go easy with salt as chaat masala is quite salty! More can be added at the end if needed.

Instead of the green chile, a pinch or two of red pepper flakes may be used; add it when adding the Cumin seeds to the oil.

Other veggies and/or cooked, crumbled sweet or regular potato may be added; if adding more veggies, adjust seasonings.

8-10 Toasts

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp oil
½ tsp Mustard seeds
½ tsp Cumin seeds
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
1 green chile, cored and finely minced (jalapeno or serrano)
1 Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 large Carrot, coarsely grated
2 Tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
½ tsp Turmeric 
Salt (Hold off using too much salt as Chaat Masala has salt)
½ tsp ground Red Chile (cayenne)
1 tsp Chaat Masala
4 Tbsp fresh Coriander/Cilantro, finely chopped + extra for garnish

Toast triangles or Naan or any flatbread wedges to serve
Finely chopped nuts & seeds (optional)

METHOD:

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan.

Add  mustard and let it start popping; add cumin seeds and let them sizzle.

Stir in the onion, green chili, and a big pinch of salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onions soften.

Add bell pepper with turmeric, red chile powder, and cook stirring for 2-3 minutes until the spices are incorporated and bell pepper softens.

Mix in the grated carrots, cover and cook stirring often until the veggies become soft, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, cook for a couple of minutes until they are soft and blend in. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle chaat masala and mix well. Taste and add salt if needed.

Finally, add coriander/cilantro and mix well. 

Spread a little of veggie masala over the warm toasts/breads and sprinkle the nuts and seeds on top with additional cilantro if desired. Serve immediately.

Eat! Enjoy!!

Creamy Roasted Asparagus Soup

Creamy Roasted Asparagus Soup is a light and fresh-tasting soup that makes use of wonderful spring produce. Although quite creamy and luxurious, it is as guilt-free as it is gluten and dairy free!

At today's prices, I like to get every bit of the lovely asparagus into the soup - so the tough ends are used to enrich the broth. But if that sounds like too much work, proceed without that step.

The tender inner ribs of the celery along with the leaves add a nice flavor to the soup. The potato adds creaminess and body.

This delicate but sturdy soup can be made ahead and kept chilled for about 4-5 days. It can also be prepped in stages.

Note: Asparagus and the veggies maybe cooked in the broth instead of roasting and pureed to make the soup.

4 Servings

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh Asparagus 
1 Leek, coarsley chopped (or 1 Onion)
2 ribs Celery, chopped
1 medium Potato, keep whole
4-5 sprigs fresh Thyme or 1 tsp dried
1-2 Sprigs fresh Tarragon leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
4  cups Vegetable Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Heat the vegetable broth in a large pot.

Wash and drain the asparagus well. Break off bottom tough part of each asparagus stalk, and use it to enrich the broth.

As soon as the tough ends of the asparagus are snapped off, add them to the broth along with the whole potato and thyme sprigs, bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes. Let cool. Take out the potato, peel it if you wish while still quite warm and keep aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

Coarsely chop the stalks, reserving about a dozen or so of the tips in bigger pieces about 1-2 inches long to be used as garnish (so you have 3-4 tips per serving). 

Clean, rinse well, and coarsely chop the leek/onion.

Combine 1/2 teaspoon of the oil with the asparagus tips with a little pinch of salt and pepper; toss to coat well and place on one end of the prepared baking pan. 

Combine the rest of the oil, chopped asparagaus, celery, and leek/onion with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and toss to coat well. Spread the veggies on the baking pan without mixing with the tips.

Roast the veggies for about 20 minutes or until tender and slightly browned.

Meanwhile process the cooked tough ends of asparagus in the broth with some of the broth in the blender and process until coarsely chopped. Strain through a fine strainer. Discard the solids. 

When the roasted veggies are ready, remove the asparagus tips and set aside for the garnish.

Puree the rest of the roasted veggies and the potato in the blender with some of the enriched broth and tarragon.

Heat the puree with all of the vegetable broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot - about 10 minutes. 

When soup is hot, taste and adjust seasoning.

To serve ladle the soup into 4 bowls and divide the reserved asparagus tips among them.

Serve hot immediately with more freshly ground pepper if desired. Enjoy!!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Smoky Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus (Garbanzo Spread/Dip W/Roasted Red Bells)

Luscious, beautiful sunset colored Roasted Red Bell Hummus is delicious in so many ways: with veggies, with pita wedges, chips, and as a spread for sandwiches and wraps. We love to spread warm corn tortillas with this good and good for you hummus topped with slices of avocado for a lovely treat anytime. Hummus is great on salads when thinned out with a little water and a squeeze of lemon.

I stock this or another type of hummus in the fridge for those times of snack attacks so that it is easy to reach for something healthy. We often make it a main meal with lots of fresh veggies and a bit of warm breads for a very satisfying and nutrient rich repast.

If you have home-cooked chickpeas/garbanzos and roasted peppers, it takes just a few minutes to whiz a bowl of hummus. It is handy to cook a big batch of the chickpeas and allot portions for the various dishes including putting aside a portion or two in the freezer. You can roast a few peppers while making roasted veggies for other dishes. Canned roasted peppers and garbanzos may be used if homecooked ones are not handy.

Hummus will last for at least a week if kept chilled in a sprucelessly clean container with a well-fitting cover. When serving, remove what is needed, but do not put back unused portions back into the original container. 

Ingredients:

2 cups Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans, freshly cooked + 1/2 cup cooking broth
2 Red Bell Peppers, roasted whole, peeled and deseeded
2 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed butter)
3-4 Tbsp fresh Lemon juice, (or to taste)
1 garlic clove (or to taste)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp freshly ground Cumin
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground Red Pepper (Cayenne)
Salt to taste

Garnish:
1 Tbsp fresh Parsley, finely chopped
Cayenne, Paprika, or Sumac for dusting the top

Method:

I like to use the garbanzos while they are still warm for a smooth and silky hummus. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or a highspeed blender carafe. Process until completely smooth, about 2 minutes or so adding a little cooking broth or water if using canned beans as necessary to get the right consistency.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Don't worry if the hummus is a bit runny; upon chilling it thickens up.

Spoon into a clean container, cover and chill until ready to use.

Remove the needed amount of the hummus onto a serving dish with a clean spoon.

Serve garnished with the parsley and a dusting of paprika, cayenne or sumac.

Enjoy!!


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Pasta Primavera

Another family favorite! Pasta Primavera is a well-loved dish; with all the veggies, one doesn't need a side dish to complete the meal. Use your favorite combination of vegetables according to the seasonal availability or preference.

It is a bit of work to cook the veggies individually, but well worth it. If you get the family members to help with prepping the veggies or do it a day or two ahead, it goes very fast. Frozen veggies are another option if time/help is short.

NOTES:

I usually use penne, fusilli or angel hair pasta to make Pasta Primavera.

Any of your favorite grains may be substituted for the pasta! If opting for grains, use about 2 cups (dry) of your favorite grains, cooked according to package directions.

Other veggies maybe used instead of those given in the recipe to suit availability and preferences.

Canned crushed tomatoes maybe substituted if fresh ones are not handy.

One minced fresh hot red or green chile (or more if you like it spicy) maybe substituted for the red pepper flakes.

8 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

1  bunch Broccoli
1 Carrot
6-8 Asparagus spears
1 cups Green Beans
1 large or 2 small Zucchini
1  cup fresh Pea Pods, ends removed
½  cup Peas, fresh or frozen
 Salt as needed
1  tablespoon Oil, divided
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut in strips
2  cups Mushrooms, thinly sliced
 Freshly ground Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Red Pepper flakes
¼  cup Parsley, finely chopped
4 -6 Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
½ tsp Turmeric
¼  cup basil leaves, chopped
1  pound dried pasta, any kind
½ - ¾  cup pasta cooking liquid
⅓  cup toasted almonds or pine nuts

Extra Basil and Parsley for garnish

METHOD:

Trim broccoli and break into florets. Slice off ends of the zucchini. Cut into 1-inch long sticks; similar to french fries. Trim carrot and cut into 1-inch sticks. Snap off the tough ends of asparagus and cut into 1-inch pieces. Tip and tail beans and cut into 1-inch pieces. Keep the veggies separate as each one has different cooking times.

Bring a large pot of water with salt to a boil for cooking the veggies and the pasta.

While the water is coming to a boil, prepare a large bowl of iced water bath for dunking the veggies after cooking them.

Have a large bowl ready for placing the vegetables after cooking and chilling.

Cook each of the prepared veggies separately in boiling salted water to cover until crisp but just tender. Cook the fresh peas, pea pods, and zucchini for only about 1 minute. Drain well, then plunge in cold water bowl to stop cooking for just a couple of minutes; drain thoroughly. Combine the cooked vegetables in a bowl. Reserve the boiling water for cooking the pasta.

Defrost the peas if using frozen and add to the veggie bowl.

In a skillet over low-medium heat 1 tsp oil and add the garlic and bell pepper, cook until softened, about a couple of minutes. When done, add to the vegetable bowl.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tsp of the oil and add the mushrooms and chile. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook about 2-3 minutes, shaking the skillet and stirring. Stir in the parsley and remove from heat.

Add the mushrooms to the bowl of vegetables.

Cook the pasta in the boiling salted water until just tender, drain well reserving about a cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

While the pasta is cooking, add the tomatoes, turmeric, salt and pepper to a large pot or wok (large enough to hold the pasta and vegetables. Cook about 5 minutes. 

Add the basil and the vegetable mixture to the large pot. Cook, stirring gently, until heated through.

Add the cooked pasta along with 1/2 cup of the liquid from cooking the pasta and mix well but without mashing the veggies tossing over very low heat.

If the sauce seems dry, add a couple of tablespoons or more pasta liquid and give it a final toss. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve the pasta primavera in warmed wide soup or pasta bowls. Sprinkle the nuts over each serving.

Serve immediately with the garnish of basil and parsley. Enjoy!!

Split Pea Soup (Almost Andersen's Famous Pea Soup)

Split Pea Soup was introduced to me at Pea Soup Andersen's Restaurant near Solvang, California many years ago by dear friends P & C. I have been an avid fan ever since. Many were the bowls of delicious, naturally vegan, and gluten free all-you-can-eat soup that we have happily eaten then and in subsequent visits there and at their other locations.

We loved the soup so much, I recreated the recipe at home based on taste and was delighted with the results. Not only family members but lots of friends too have been the happy recipients of this amazing soup. Until recently I did not know that Andersen's has their famous recipe printed on the bags of split peas they sell and was quite happy to see that my recipe is very close!

Although I love the smooth and creamy soup just fine, my homemade version includes a few more ingredients like barley, turmeric and ginger for their health benefits as well as lovely taste and texture. This recipe is almost fat free; I add a little oil to the soup pot just to start the veggies from sticking to the pot - the oil maybe omitted if desired. It is Vegan and Gluten Free if barley is omitted; quinoa, millet, or another gluten free grain may be substituted if desired for a gluten free soup.

Notes:

I prefer to cook the peas separately to ensure they cook well; this also prevents the veggies from cooking too long.

Vegetable broth maybe used instead of  water to bring the soup to desired consistency.

The soup maybe passed through a strainer or sieve to get a smooth soup like the famous soup; or processed using a regular or immersion blender. I don't as the soup is quite creamy and I like a bit of texture.

Cool and store leftover soup in the fridge for 3-5 days; for longer storage, this soup freezes well. When reheating, a small amount of water or broth may be needed to thin the soup.

8-10 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups green split peas
1/2 cup Barley (optional)
1 tsp Oil (optional)
1 Onion, peeled and chopped
4 ribs Celery, chopped
1 large Carrot, chopped
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 clove Garlic, minced
3-5 sprigs Fresh Thyme  Or 1 tsp dried
2 Bay Leaves
1-3 tsp freshly grated Ginger (optional)
Pinch or two cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2-1 tsp freshly ground Pepper, or to taste

METHOD:

Sort, wash and soak the split peas and barley if using in plenty of water for 2 hours. Split peas and barley may be cooked without soaking also; soaking shortens cooking time.

Drain the soaked split peas and barley, add fresh water to cover, and cook conventionally or using a pressure cooker until soft. If made ahead, cool, and refrigerate until needed.

Heat a large soup pot with the oil; swirl the oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Add onion, celery, and carrot with a pinch of salt and the turmeric. 

Cook covered over low heat, stirring often until the onion mixture begins to turn golden and caramelized; add a sprinkle or two of water if needed to keep the veggies from burning. 

Stir in the garlic, thyme, bay leaves, ginger if using, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about a minute.

Tip in the cooked split peas and barley; add enough boiling water to get the right consistency.

Simmer the soup for about 10-15 minutes stirring often; stirring is essential as after peas are added, the soup tends to settle to the bottom of the pot and burn.

Let rest for 10 minutes; taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve hot.

Enjoy!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Vegetable Salna (Vegetable Stew With Vadouvan/Vadakam)

Vegetable Salna is a popular soupy stew that accompanies parotta, a South Indian version of the paratha, a  wholewheat flatbread. It is also quite delicious served with other Indian breads, Idli, Dosa, Upma, rice or other grains. I make a big batch as the flavors meld and taste better the next day.

NOTES:

1. Vadakam/Vadouvan is not widely available even in Indian markets outside India; here is the recipe for making vadakam. Until you can make/purchase vadouvan/vadakam, this Substitute will work quite satisfactorily: coarsely crush and combine - 1/4 tsp Fennel seeds, 1/8 tsp Fenugreek, 1/4 tsp Cumin seeds, and 1 tsp Urad dal + 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds + 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes + 1 small shallot and 1 clove garlic, minced finely. Add this to the hot oil and proceed as called for in the recipe.

2. It is tasty to have a mixture of veggies rather than just one or two; I usually end up using about five or more. Carrot, green beans, peas, cauliflower, regular potato, sweet potato, Lima beans/edamame, etc work well. If you like to add zucchini, add it at the end of cooking just before removing from heat so it doesn't get mushy. A handful (about 1/2 cup) of cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans either tan or brown, may be added also as part of the veggies.

3. If coconut is not available for the masala, 1/2 cup of coconut milk may be added at the end.

4. Salna served in the local restaurants is usually served on the thin side; if you like it more soupy, add a little boiling water to reach desired consistency at the end of cooking and adjust the seasonings.

5. Adjust the amount of chile powder - reduce or add more - according to your taste.

About 6 - 8 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Masala for roasting and grinding:

1 tsp Oil
1 stick Cinnamon, 1" piece
5 whole Cloves
2 pods, green Cardamom
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 Onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 slices fresh Ginger
1-2 cloves Garlic, peeled
1 Tomato, cut into 4 pieces
3 tbsp Grated coconut (See Notes)
1 tsp Poppy seeds (Khus khus)
5 raw or toasted Cashews

Salna

1/4 - 1/2 tsp Red chile powder
2 tsp ground Coriander seeds
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Salt, or as needed
1 tsp Oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Tomato, coarsely chopped 
5-7 Mint leaves, fresh or dried (use Spearmint)
3-4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped
2 cups Assorted Vegetables (see notes above), cut in 1/2" cubes

Finishing:

1 tsp Oil
1/2 - 1 Tbsp Vadouvan/Vadakam OR see Notes* above
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves, finely sliced

METHOD:

Prepare Masala:

Heat the oil in a kadai/skillet, add cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, fennel, and cumin; cook until spices are lightly toasted and fragrant - about 30 seconds or so. 

Stir in onion, ginger and garlic; cover and cook over low-medium heat stirring often until onion is softened and slightly golden. 

Tip in the tomato, cook until tomato softens and remove from heat and allow it to cool.

Place the cooled masala ingredients in a blender carafe; add the grated coconut, cashews, and poppy seeds.

Grind the masala into a smooth paste adding a few spoonfuls of water as necessary to facilitate grinding. Set aside.

Prepare the Salna:

Combine the coriander, turmeric, red chile powder and salt in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large pan; swirl the oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Add onions with a pinch of salt and cook covered over low heat until soft and beginning to color.

Stir in the torn mint leaves, bell pepper, and tomato; cover and cook stirring ocassionally until tomato is soft.

Add the spice-salt mixture and mix well.

Tip in the vegetables and the ground masala paste.

Add a cup of water to the blender carafe to gather all the masala and pour into the pan. Add a little more water as necessary so the veggies are just covered.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Add enough boiling water if the salna is too thick until desired consistency is reached.

Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.

Finishing:

Heat oil for finishing in a small pan; add the crushed Vadakam or the *substitute and cook until fragrant and golden brown; be careful not to let it burn. Stir in curry leaves carefully. Remove from heat and add to Salna.

Cover the salna and let rest for 10 minutes.

Serve hot in bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro/coriander.

Enjoy!!