Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sichuan-style Asparagus Stir-fry | Vegan Chinese Recipes

Asparagus is in season now and I am making full use of it. We always love the simple oven roasted asparagus with salt, pepper and olive oil. But this time I made a PF Changs replica, Sichuan style Asparagus. Spicy, Salty and with a little zing from the ginger, it is a perfect side for your Chinese themed party. I made this as a side for my Tofu and Bell pepper Fried rice.

Serves - 2
Asparagus - 1 bunch
Onion - 1/2 of a big one
Ginger paste - 1/2 tsp
Soy Sauce, Low sodium - 2 tbsp
Rice wine vinegar - 1 tbsp
Corn starch - 1 tsp
Brown Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Water - 1/4 cup
Red chilli sauce - 1 tsp (I used Sriracha)
Sesame oil - 3 tsp

Wash and trim the ends of the asparagus. Slice on a bias. Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, corn starch and red chilli sauce. Heat 1/2 tsp of oil in a skillet or wok in high heat and fry the onions until brown, about 3-4 minutes. The onions need not be fully cooked. Remove to a plate. Heat another 1/2 tsp of oil and fry the asparagus for about 5-7 minutes in high heat. Transfer to the plate of onions. Heat 2 tsp of oil and add the ginger paste. After a couple of seconds add the sauce mix and let it cook for 2 minutes. Add water now. When it starts to bubble, add the asparagus and onions. Mix well. Remove from heat and serve.
Notes: I did not add salt to this dish because the salt in the soy sauce is enough. You may add salt if needed.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Chettinadu Poondu Kuzhambu / Spicy Garlic Tamarind Curry | South Indian Curry Recipes

Chettinadu is a region in Tamilnadu, the Southern state of India. The recipes specializes in using freshly ground spices added to make tasty food. Most of the recipes are spicy and tangy with the liberal use of the flavorful spices and herbs native to India. Did you know that many south indian dishes taste better if pearl onions are used instead of the regular onions. Also no, we do not add curry leaves to every dish but there are certain dishes which just can't be made without the aroma of the curry leaves in it. This is one such kuzhambu which has simple ingredients but makes you want to go for another serving.

In standard cup measurements
Garlic - 3 whole - 1/2 cup heaped
Pearl onions - 10
Tamarind - size of a lemon
Pepper corns - 1-1/2 tsp
Ghee - a few drops
Coriander powder - 1/4 tsp
Tomato - 2 (medium sized, about 1 cup chopped)
Onion - 1/2 cup (chopped) or 10 pearl onions
Sesame oil - 4 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds / vendhayam - 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Asafoetida - a pinch

Soak the tamarind in hot water and extract about 3 cups of juice. Roast the pepper corns in ghee. Make a fine powder. Grind the tomato and onion to make a paste. Heat sesame oil in a kadai and splutter the ingredients for temepring. Add the peeled garlic cloves and pearl onions and fry until it is almost cooked. Add the ground pepper powder, coriander powder and fry for another minute. Pour the ground paste and cook in medium heat until the raw smell disappears and the oil oozes out of the mixture. Mix the tamarind juice and salt. Allow it to come to a boil in med-high heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve hot over rice with a simple poriyal or fryums.
For the Carrot Beans Poriyal featured in the picture, click here.\
Linking this up to Flavor with Spices - #1.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Aloor Dum / Baby Potatoes in Tomato Curry | Bengali Recipes

There are some foods that lure you to make immediately. This was one such recipe. When I saw this in Sutapa's space, I thought "If only I had baby potatoes at hand right now..". But that didn't stop me from making this. I had DH get baby potatoes the very next day and I made this for dinner to go with my Spring Onion Paratha. Oh my, this was super tasty. You won't believe how a simple combination of spices would make something this tasty. Is it the baby potatoes or the onions in the spice paste or the ghee? Ghee, definitely had to be the ghee.. or.. ok well I am not able to come to a conclusion. 
Bottomline.. Super tasty curry..

Serves - 3-4
Baby Potatoes - 15
Onion - sliced thin - 1 cup
Tomato - 2
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 3/4 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/4 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Oil - as needed
Spice paste:
Pearl onions - 3
Garlic cloves - 8
Ginger - 1 tsp - chopped
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until fork tender. Drain, peel and set aside. Blanch, remove skin and seeds from the tomatoes. Make a puree and reserve. In a kadai, heat a tsp of oil and fry the ingredients for spice paste. When golden brown, allow to cool and make a paste. In the same kadai, heat about 2 tbsp of oil and shallow fry the peeled potatoes. Remove and set aside. Add oil if needed and fry the onions until it turns golden brown. Add the ground spice paste and the spice powders (all but the garam masala). Cook for about 2 minutes in medium heat and add the tomato puree and salt. Add the fried potatoes with about 1 to 2 cups of water. Mix well. The curry would be watery at this time. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking until desired thickness is achieved, about 15 mins. Add the ghee, garam masala and give a mix. Turn the heat off. Serve with any roti/paratha of your choice.
Linking this to In my Veg box - Potatoes event.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Broccoli Stir-fry with just 3 ingredients | Broccoli Recipes

Eating Broccoli can't get any easier or tastier than this. This broccoli stir-fry with just 3 ingredients (well, if you don't count the salt and oil) is a breeze to make. It won points with both my DH and DS, the picky-eaters. It is great as a snack with a dollop of yogurt or as a side with any rice dish or meat.

Broccoli - florets from 2 heads
Dry Red chillies - 2
Garlic powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

Wash and separate broccoli florets to bite-size. Shake off excess water and microwave in a partially closed container for 4 minutes, tossing once in between. Alternatively you could steam the broccoli. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a non-stick fry pan, in medium heat and add the broken red chillies and the garlic powder. Add salt and the cooked broccoli florets. Stir fry until fully mixed. Serve warm.
Adding salt in the oil ensures better distribution and works well for most dishes which does not have a medium like water or gravy or lot of oil.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Kathirikai Thovayal / Brinjal Chutney | South Indian Chutney Recipes

A simple chutney with eggplant, and honestly eggplant can't get any tastier than this. When Nags posted her recipe, I made a mental note that I have to try that someday. Luckily I had got eggplant the same week, tried it and it tasted awesome. This has been a regular appearance at our lunch since then.

Eggplant - 1 big - medium sized (or) 10 small Indian brinjals
Dry Red chillies - 2 or 3
Urad dhal - 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - size of a blueberry
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Pearl onions - 10 - peeled and sliced thin
Cilantro / Coriander leaves - a fistful
Oil - 4 tsp

Wash and chop the eggplant into 1 inch pieces. In a kadai, heat 1 tsp of oil and fry the eggplant pieces until slightly golden. Do it in batches if needed. Remove to a plate to cool. Heat another tsp of oil and fry the red chillies, 1 tsp of urad dhal and tamarind. When the dhal turns brown, remove from heat. Allow it to cool and blend with the eggplant in a blender adding salt as needed. For tempering, heat remaining oil and splutter the urad dhal, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the sliced pearl onions and fry until it becomes soft. Mix in the coriander leaves, ground paste and water needed to thin out the chutney. Heat for a minute or two and remove to a serving bowl. Serve with hot steamed rice. A drop or two of ghee or gingelly oil won't harm, don't you think?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Orange Blueberry Loaf Cake | Eggless Cake Recipes

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! What are your plans? I hope to make something special on the day. Have a few ideas, but no plans yet. I made this Orange blueberry loaf cake last week in an impromptu I-need-to-bake-something rush. Blueberries are in season and fruits are best eaten in season. I bought this big box of blueberries from Costco. After making its frequent presence in my snack box, breakfast oatmeal and lemon blueberry pancakes the remaining went into this cake.

Adapted from the recipe here
All purpose flour / Maida - 2 cups
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Orange zest - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1 cup
Butter - 1/2 cup
Plain Yogurt - 1/2 cup (Greek/regular)
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
Orange juice - 1/2 cup (definitely freshly squeezed)
Fresh Blueberries - 1 cup

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Grease and line a loaf pan.
Take 1 tbsp of flour and mix with the blueberries. Sieve/Whisk the remaining flour, salt, baking powder and orange zest together. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and yogurt and whisk again. Add the orange juice and mix well. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing well in each addition. Do not overmix. Fold in the blueberries. Pour the batter to the greased pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a cooling rack. Slice and serve. If you are not serving the same day, after the cake has cooled completely, double wrap in a plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge. Stays good for up to a week. When serving, just slice and warm in the microwave oven for 10-15 seconds.
You could use orange flavoured yogurt for an enhanced orange taste.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Kodhel / Mangalore Style Sambar | South Indian Curry Recipes

Kodhel is a type of sambar native to the Udupi region of Karnataka state in India. It is traditionally served in Hindu temples in Karnataka during annadanamI remember tasting this sambar in a temple during our trip to Karnataka temples. The unique taste comes from the roasted spices used to make this. Interestingly this sambar does not use any dhal, unlike the regular sambar. I have used a combo of brinjal and drumstick in here. White Pumpkin and any other vegetables of your choice can also be used.

Recipe Source - Mallika Badrinath
Drumstick - 2
Brinjal - 3 - sliced thin
Tamarind - lemon sized
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Spice mix:
Dry red chillies - 4
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - a pinch
Pepper corns - 1/2 tsp
Garlic - 4 cloves (optional)
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Soak tamarind in warm water and extract juice. Mix with water to make 3 cups of juice. Place the cut vegetables with salt, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender. Meanwhile dry roast all the ingredients one by one (all but coconut and garlic). Allow to cool and make a paste adding the garlic and coconut. When the vegetables are cooked, add the ground spice paste and salt, as needed. Bring to a boil and simmer until it thickens a little. In another pan, heat oil and splutter the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Pour over the sambar. Serve hot over rice.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Parsley Chutney | Side dish for Idli Dosa

A simple coconut chutney is a go-to side dish for dosa in most South-Indian homes. But parsley is not something commonly used in India. Its cousin Coriander leaves, aka Cilantro is the ruler there. But having access to parsley I had always wanted to try in my cooking for its health benefits. Did you know that Parsley is rich in antioxidants, Vitamin K, Vitamin A and also a great diuretic. I would recommend to try it in salad, throw it in some pasta or better yet make a chutney like this or try in a recipe for a chapathi side.

Inspired from here 
Fresh Parsley - 1/2 bunch - washed and leaves picked
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Gram dhal / Pottukadalai - 2 tbsp
Green chillies - 1
Ginger - 1/2 " piece
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Saute the parsley leaves in a heated dry pan until it wilts slightly, about half a min. Grind the parsley, coconut, gram dhal, ginger, green chilli and salt to a smooth paste. Heat oil and splutter the mustard seeds, urad dhal and curry leaves. Pour over the chutney, mix. Serve as a side dish for idli/dosa.

Linking this up to Priya's Vegan Thursdays.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Spinach Dhal Rice for Toddlers | Infant & Toddler Food Ideas

Like any new mom when it came to start solids for my little one I had millions of questions. Though most of those questions I had were silly I couldn't brush them off as silly at that stage. I used to ask friends and family "Can I give that?", "How much of that?", "Really, Can I give that?". But then I got a hang of it after two months into solids. In South India, a baby's first solid food would generally be Ragi Kanji (finger millet porridge). The millet is soaked overnight, ground in a wet grinder and the milk extracted is then boiled to make porridge. After the Ragi Kanji, the next food introduced is Paruppu Sadham (Rice and Split peas).
When you first start dhal rice for your baby try this simple basic recipe. (Pressure) cook 1 fistful of rice with 1 fistful of any dhal with a small piece of garlic and a dash of salt and turmeric powder. Mash well and add a drop or two of ghee. Serve warm. This recipe below can be tried when your baby has tasted moong dhal, toor dhal and spinach earlier.
Rice - 1/2 cup
Toor dhal - 1/4 cup
Moong dhal - 1/4 cup
Spinach - a handful - chopped
Onion - 2 tbsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds - a pinch
Garlic cloves - 2
Chilli powder / Pepper Powder - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Ghee  -  a few drops

Wash and soak the rice and dhal for 30 minutes. This soaking step is really important for a creamy smooth dhal rice, which the little ones go gah-gah over. In a pressure cooker, heat oil and splutter the cumin seeds. Add the chopped onions and whole garlic cloves and fry until the onions are cooked. Next add the chilli powder, salt and spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts. Drain the rice-dhal and add to the cooker. Add 3 cups of water, cover and pressure cook for 3 whistles. Drizzle ghee, mash well and serve.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thalicha Sadham / Instant Tamarind Rice | Indian Rice Recipes

This is one of the simplest recipes for using up leftover rice. If you are ever wondering what to do with your leftover rice, don't fret. Mom used to make this rice whenever we have leftover rice and Dad loves this for breakfast. When we have rice leftover from dinner, she marinates it with turmeric and tamarind juice and prepares this for breakfast the next day. With a little planning, this Instant Tamarind Rice can be a great idea. 
Serves - 2
Cooked Rice - 2 cups
Thick Tamarind Extract - 2 tbsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp or more as needed
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Pearl onions - 1/2 cup - about 15 - peeled and halved
Green Chilli - 1
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Chana dhal - 1 tsp
Make sure the rice is in room temperature. Mix the rice with tamarind paste, turmeric powder and salt. Set aside for about 1 hour to 8 hours, in room temperature. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and chana dhal. When the mustard splutters add the slit green chilli and the pearl onions. Fry until the onions are almost cooked. Add a little salt and the marinated rice. Cook in medium flame stirring occasionally, until the raw smell of the tamarind disappears. Serve warm with some pappads.
The turmeric and tamarind extract acts both as a marinade and preservative. So make sure all of the rice is covered completely with it.
Definitely use pearl onions since regular onions just won't give the taste.