Tag Archives: Vegetables (sides)

Simple and Delicious Gobi Sabzi: Indian Spiced Cauliflower

indian spiced cauliflower, fried cauliflower, cauliflower sabziThere are certain foods that have the fascinating ability to transport me to another place and time.  Sometimes it’s the taste of a fragrant, freshly baked slice of bread.  One bite and I’m nine years old, back in my grandmother’s farm kitchen giggling with my cousins.  Oh how I miss my cousins…

Other times it’s one sip of a cheap keg beer at a friend’s wedding causing me to remember my college days and all the (embarrassingly fun) moments with long-lost friends whom I’ll probably never cross paths with again (even you, crazy Toby!).

And then there is is this.   Continue reading

Pohe: A Maharashtrian Rice Snack (Vegan!)

Allow me to introduce you to one of my absolute favorite Indian dishes, Pohe!

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Pohe

Since Pohe is traditionally made and served in the west of India–specifically around Maharashtra– it’s not something most Bengali families would grow up eating.  Luckily for me (and you all!), Maa (my mother-in-law) learned to cook Pohe while Baba (father-in-law) worked in Mumbai…and boy, I’m glad she did!

This dish is often referred to as Kanda Pohe and is made from beaten rice flakes.  It usually includes onions, mustard seeds and large chunks of boiled potatoes. Ground turmeric gives it the bright, yellow color.  Continue reading

Tamatar Shorba (Indian Spiced Tomato Soup) Vegetarian & Vegan Friendly

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Tamatar Shorba with Spiced Grilled Cheese Sliders

Last year at this time tomato soup would have been the last thing on my mind!  Instead, I was preoccupied with my “baby” plants, berry picking and killing those stubborn Canadian Thistles…Seriously, how do you get rid of those things?!

Unfortunately, this year has been the complete opposite of the last.  Winter is holding on tight, refusing to budge.  Looking out the window, one would think it was December, not May!  It’s been a long winter and I’m beginning to feel a little confused (and a whole lot irritated!)–unsure if I should be planning my gardens or digging out the Christmas decorations.

As you can probably imagine, I’ve been daydreaming a lot about the warmth of India. I’ve even gone so far as to tell Piyush I think we should move there.  Sell the house, ship our stuff overseas and live happily in the tropics–with an air conditioner to keep us cool, of course.  I’d grow my own black pepper plants, drink liters of chai every single day and we’d have our very own mango tree in the back garden.   Continue reading

Aloo Sabzi: Potatoes Cooked in Mustard Oil

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Dry Potato “Curry”: Aloo Sabzi

Sometimes the most ordinary of foods can be made extraordinary simply by pairing them with the right ingredients.  For this delicious potato dish, I took a lot of inspiration from my mother-in-law’s cooking and the tasty foods I ate while in West Bengal. Continue reading

Mushroom Korma

Mushroom, Pea and Fenugreek Korma (Khumb, Matar and Methi Korma)

I love mushrooms and would have no trouble eating them everyday.  They’re a great substitute for meat, a wonderful “filler” for all sorts of vegetarian recipes, but mushrooms are especially good if they’re drenched in a smooth, fragrant, spiced  masala.

That brings me to my newest “creation”:  Mushroom, Pea and Fenugreek Korma. In Hindi it would be called something like Khumb, Matar and Methi Korma —but don’t completely trust me on that.

My Hindi is not good, and practically non-existant.  I speak Hindi like a two year old.  In fact, I know the important words (mostly swear words learned from Hindi movies) and I’m fluent in exactly 4 sentences:

The girl is eating.

The boy is eating.

The girl is drinking.

The boy is drinking.

I shouldn’t even be talking about my Hindi skills though, because my husband will probably read this and then he’s going to lecture me about learning Hindi and then he’ll bring up how he bought me Rosetta Stone for my birthday a few years ago and it’s been used approximately 4 times since.

Yes, nothing good can come from that…so lets get back to the curry!

Mushroom, Pea and Fenugreek Korma

Traditionally this dish is more of a Malai curry rather than a Korma, meaning it is made with nuts, milk and a type of milk-cream instead of with nuts and yogurt or coconut milk.

Because I’m very sensitive to dairy (I even break out in hives from it!), I definitely do not indulge on traditional malai curries very often, so I’ve kind of taken a traditional recipe and made it my own.

I started by making a wonderful smelling masala by grinding together:

  • a 1″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3 green cardamoms (only the seeds)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp. cashew nuts

Homemade Masala Mix

Once my masala was made I threw a couple onions into my food processor.  I pulsed until the onion was a smooth paste.  It was really watery, but no need to worry!  Water evaporates.

Then I tossed a little ghee in a pan and tossed the mushrooms in, added some ginger and some garlic, a little salt and some pepper.  Once the mushrooms were cooked, I removed them from the pan and set them aside.

Cooked Mushrooms

I then added a little oil to the pan that I had cooked the mushrooms in.  I tossed in the onion paste and turned the heat to low.  I cooked until most of the water had evaporated from the onions, but I didn’t let them brown or caramelize.

At that point, I added the masala paste I had previously made.  I let it cook for about a minute, just to get rid of some of that raw smell.

I added some dried fenugreek (methi) leaves and cooked until everything became a homogeneous mixture and was no longer watery.

I added a little garam masala, amchoor (mango powder), chili powder and salt and cooked that for about 2 minutes to ensure the chili powder would no longer be raw.

I tossed in the peas and mushrooms and added a little almond milk, a couple tablespoons of fat free half & half,  and a little water.  I let the mixture cook until it was the consistency I wanted, and then I garnished it with some fresh coriander leaves and cashew nuts.

This curry was absolutely wonderful, and the smell was incredible!  The gravy was thick and rich, and it truly did seem fit for a king!

Mushroom, Pea and Fenugreek Korma

serves 4-6 as a side dish

Because this recipe has it’s roots in Mughali cuisine, it is a very heavy and rich curry…something the Mughal emperors would have enjoyed.

NOTE:This dish can be made vegan by replacing the ghee with oil and leaving out the half & half.  Alternatively, if you prefer to use regular milk rather than almond milk…that will work as well. 

Ingredients:

Curry

  • 10 oz mushrooms: any variety
  • 1 cup peas (frozen is fine)
  • 4 tbsp. dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 2 tsp. garlic- minced
  • 2 tsp. ginger- minced
  • 1 tbsp. butter or ghee (may substitute oil)
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 large onion- ground to a paste in the food processor
  • 1 c. milk, half & half, almond milk or soymilk (I used almond milk for this recipe)
  • red chili powder- to taste
  • salt- to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • a small pinch of amchoor (dried mango) powder- optional, but it adds a nice “sourness” to the curry
  • a small pinch of ground nutmeg
  • fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) for garnish

Masala Paste

  • 3 green cardamoms (only the seeds)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp. cashew nuts

Grind together all ingredients for masala powder until they are completely powdered.  A coffee grinder works wonderful for this.

Directions for Curry:

  • Clean the mushrooms and trim the stems.  If they’re big, cut them into bite-size pieces.
  • Heat 1 tbsp. butter in a pan over medium-high heat.  Turn heat to high and add the mushrooms.  Cook until all the water releases from the mushrooms and evaporates.  They should take on a little golden color.
  • Add the garlic and ginger, a little salt–to taste, and some black pepper–to taste.  Cook one more minute and remove from heat.
  • Remove mushrooms from pan and keep aside.
  • Using the same pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add onion paste and cook until onions no longer smell raw, but don’t let them turn brown or carmelize.
  • Add the fresh ground masala powder and cook for about 30 seconds.  Toss in the fenugreek leaves and 1/4 c. of milk.  Cook on low heat for about 4 minutes or until the milk evaporates.
  • Add salt, chili powder, garam masala, pinch of ground nutmeg and amchoor.  Cook for a minute or so.
  • Add peas and mushrooms into the onion mixture.
  • Add 3/4 c. milk (soymilk, almond milk or half & half) so your curry is thickened.  If the curry seems too thick, add water until you’re happy with the consistency.
  • Boil the curry for a few minutes.  Garnish with fresh chopped coriander.  Serve with rice or rotis.

On a completely different topic…

This past weekend was the Food Experiments Pie Contest, sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery.  I made 300 mini Korma pies that were topped with whipped coconut cream (man, that was a lot of work!), and Piyush and I headed to Minneapolis.

Although we did not win the contest, we had a really fabulous time!  We met a lot of really cool people…people I wish we lived closer to (I’m talk’n about you, Journey and Rachel!)

I’ve never entered any contest even remotely close to this before, but now that I–somehow–survived baking 300 little pies myself, I’m totally ready for the next one!!!

Bring. It. On. :)

Oh!  By the way, if anyone is looking for my Vegetarian Korma recipe, it can be found HERE.  Enjoy!

bhindi masala

Bhindi Masala (Okra/Ladies Finger Dry Curry)

Bhindi, commonly known as okra in the United States, is one vegetable I’ve had little– to no– experience with.  It’s not that I didn’t like it, or that I felt intimidated by it’s funny shape and sticky, weird texture.  In fact, I didn’t even know it had a sticky, weird texture until fairly recently.

Instead, the simple truth is that okra is not a popular vegetable in Minnesota.  Most grocery stores don’t carry it, and most people wouldn’t know what it was or what to do with it even if they did.

Before Piyush and I were married, I wanted to impress him and make his favorite dish.  I asked him what it was and he told me “Bhindi Masala.”  I was absolutely confused.

I thought bindi was the forehead decoration (usually a red dot or jewel) worn by women…I didn’t realize it was also a vegetable! I must have had some sort of befuddled look on my face because Piyush then went into a 15 minute lecture about the Hindi alphabet and its correct pronunciation.

I learned that bhindi and bindi are not the same thing, but they sound exactly the same.  Exactly. Piyush assured me that they don’t, but I know what I hear; and to me there is no difference.

He then went on about bhindi, trying to explain to me what it was in English.  He kept saying “ladies finger” …I was even more confused. I thought ladies fingers were oval shaped cookies!  Then he said, “okra.”  I still had no idea what he was talking about.

Oh how times have changed…

bhindi masala

I can’t say that okra is my favorite vegetable, but I’ve grown to tolerate it.  Piyush, on the other hand, could eat a whole pound in one sitting.  He loves the stuff!

Fresh okra should be firm, crisp and bright green.  They should also curve very slightly towards the narrow end.  Piyush says the best okra should be pretty small to medium sized.  The bigger the pods, the more bitter they taste…I guess.

I’ve learned that I can purchase fresh okra from any local Asian market.  Occasionally one of the sellers at the local farmers market will have a small container full as well.  I’m still not the greatest at picking the best pods, so when all else fails, the Indian market will have frozen okra.

Before you begin to cook the okra, there are a few things you should know.  First, it’s important to wash and dry off the pods, and to trim the ends.   Second, there will be a sticky, gel-like substance inside the okra.  It’s weird and slightly intimidating, but it will disappear  as the okra cooks.

For this recipe, I sliced the okra pods in half, and then cut them into manageable pieces–about 1 inch long, or so.  If you prefer, you could slice the okra into 1/2 inch circles instead.

The cooking process: 

Onions and chilies are cooked until softened, tomatoes are added.

After the onions/garlic mixture has cooked…the okra simmers in a mixture of tomatoes and water

I’ve found that by adding the extra water to the masala, the okra is sure to cook properly and there will not be any stickiness left behind.  Simply cook the masala until the water evaporates and the bhindi is softened.  The resulting curry is considered dry, and is perfect for eating with naan, rotis or chapatis!

Bhindi Masala

Bhindi Masala 

Serves 2 as main course, 4 if served on the side

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. bhindi (okra)
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 green chilies (I used Thai), slit
  • 1 tsp. khus khus (white poppy seeds)
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin, ground
  • 1 tsp. coriander, ground
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. turmeric, ground
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 c. fresh diced roma tomatoes (you may substitute canned or even use my curry base recipe)
  • 1/2 c. water –more if needed to cook the okra through
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • fresh corriander (cilantro), for garnish

Directions:

  • Wash, dry and slice bhindi as desired.  Set aside.
  • Add oil to a pan over medium-high heat.  Toss mustard seeds into oil and cook until they start to splatter.  Once the seeds splatter, add the cumin, corriander, garam masala, tumeric, chiles and sliced onions.  Cook for about 4 minutes, or until onions are translucent.  Add garlic and khus khus.  Cook an additional minute, or so.
  • Add the tomatoes to the curry.  Mix everything well and cook for two minutes before adding the bhindi.  Add 1/2 c. water, or more and allow the bhindi to simmer.  Keep adding water, as needed, if the bhindi is still giving off a sticky substance.  Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes.
  • Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
  • Turn off heat and garnish with chopped corriander.  Serve with rotis…and enjoy!

 

Time to get ready for work!  Have a happy Friday, everyone! :)

 

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Indian Spiced Hummus

I’ve never really been a huge fan of hummus.  In fact, I’ve bought it multiple times throughout the years, tried a tiny bit, and tossed the whole container in the garbage.  I wanted to like it, but I didn’t.   It just wasn’t my thing.

But, now it is!  

Once I made the commitment to myself to eat less meat (I still indulge once in awhile), I discovered just how good hummus could be.  It all started when I ordered a vegetarian pita wrap at our local Greek restaurant.

It looked like it was just a Greek salad stuffed in a pita; but once I bit into it, I tasted something smooth, nutty, and spectacular!

There was a giant glob of homemade hummus under that salad, and it tasted nothing like any hummus I’ve ever bought at the grocery store!  I was hooked.

I figured the only way I was going to get hummus that tasted like that was to make it myself.

I dug through all of my cookbooks, and finally found inspiration in “The Best Ever Vegetarian Cookbook” by Linda Fraser.  She had a recipe for Pan Fried Zucchini and Hummus.  It looked like such a weird combination, but it sounded amazing!

My version of zucchini with hummus

I didn’t follow her recipes at all.  I knew I wanted to make an Indian spiced hummus and zucchini with ghee, turmeric and cumin.  I read which ingredients she used to make hummus, and I got to work experimenting.

Hummus, in it’s most basic form, is simply made with garbanzo beans (chickpeas), tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice and olive oil.    Simple!

Because I wanted mine to be a little more than basic, I dry roasted a bunch of Indian spices in a pan and added in a little garlic towards the end of the roasting process (I think it makes the garlic taste a little more complex than just tossing in raw garlic).

I tossed the spices, along with the chickpeas, into the bowl of my food processor and blended everything until it was a smooth consistency.

I added the tahini, lemon juice and a little water to the mixture, and let it process again.  I tasted it; and added salt, black pepper and a little more lemon juice.  I tossed in some chopped coriander (cilantro).

I started the food processor back up (on low) and drizzled a little olive oil into the hummus–until it reached a perfectly smooth consistency.

Easy Spiced Hummus

For those that are interested, hummus has around 100 calories for a 2 tbsp. serving.

I garnished my hummus with some chopped cilantro, sliced red chilies (for Piyush) and a little bit of feta cheese.

I served it along with wedges of pita bread and zucchini.

Zucchini cooked in ghee, turmeric and cumin

The zucchini was really simple to prepare.  I put a little ghee (if you’re vegan, skip the ghee and increase the olive oil) mixed with a small amount of olive oil into a heavy-bottomed pan. I turned the flame to medium and tossed in a good teaspoon of cumin seeds.

Once the cumin began to pop and sizzle I added 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric and 1 tsp. ground cumin.  I also added a few curry leaves (these can be omitted).

Once the spices no longer smelled raw (this is especially important for turmeric, in my personal opinion), I added about 3 (maybe 4) cups of diced zucchini to the pot, along with a little water (maybe a couple tablespoons).

I let this cook, uncovered, on medium heat for about 15 minutes.  I then seasoned with a little salt and pepper.

Cooking zucchini this way is so easy, and so flavorful!  Because it’s now zucchini season here, in Minnesota, Piyush and I eat this quite a lot!  In fact, Piyush loves it mixed with a little potato and served over some basmati rice.

Sometimes, I’ll even cook some dal (lentils) with the rice, and serve a sort of “dried” khichadi (the ULTIMATE Indian comfort food).

My delicious dinner. Doesn’t look like a lot, but it was incredibly filling!