Tag Archives: Vegetarian/Vegan

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!

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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! 🙂

 

I’m a Crazy Canner

I love canning.  It’s no secret.  I have shelves upon shelves to prove it.

I’ve been neglecting my little blog lately, but I have a good reason.

Canned roma tomatoes

Fresh produce waits for no one!  

All my free time lately has gone to preserving fruits and vegetables for the winter.

Bear with me, dear readers, I promise I have some wonderful recipes to share with you.  Including some new, fabulous curry recipes!

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!

Meatless Monday: Indian Chole Masala (Chickpea Curry)

Happy “Meatless Monday!”

Indian Chole Masala

Chickpeas are one of my favorite ingredients.  There are so many things you can do with this humble (and cheap!) ingredient, that I always have a stash on hand.

As I’m still not feeling all that well, I’m going to keep this post short. Continue reading

Cantaloupe, Arugula and Mint Salad

I haven’t felt so good the past week.

In fact, I’ve felt completely crumby for the past week and a half.

4 days ago I noticed a few little red “bug bites” near my left eye.  I figured I got bit when I was out tending to my (struggling) garden, so I didn’t really think much of it.  I scrubbed my face with cleanser and put a bunch of hydrocortisone cream on the bites, but they only got itchier.

The next day, I had a headache and was incredibly tired.  Man, was I tired!  Actually, I’m still tired!

I did a whole lot of nothing, thinking my body just needed some rest.  Then, I noticed the side of my face hurt.  Like, really hurt.  I also  had a giant, swollen lump in front of my ear.  I knew it was my lymph node; so I figured those bug bites were maybe a spider bite and my body was trying to fight off infection–or something.

I didn’t want to think about a spider crawling on my face (that gives me the heebie jeebies!)…so I didn’t.  Instead, I took ibuprofen and went to bed.

When I finally crawled out of bed the next day, my eye felt funny.  It was really swollen and itchy; and my lymph node was huge (as big as an egg!).  I decided I better see the doc.

She walked in the room, looked at my face, and said “I think it’s shingles.”

What?!  Shingles?!  But…I’m only 27!

I’m young.  I’m healthy.  I shouldn’t have shingles!

Unfortunately, I do.  Apparently they are becoming more common among younger people; and they’re often related to stress.

Stress about what?  I have no idea.  I don’t feel stressed. There is absolutely no reason why I should be stressed; but I guess I am.  Hmphf.

The worst part about having shingles is that I can’t wear my contacts and have to wear my glasses (does that make me vain?).  …Also, I can’t be around my niece, my nephew, or my grandparents.  I’ve been told I can’t go to work either (sorry co-workers!).

Having shingles is unattractive, inconvenient, unpleasant, and BORING! I’m going stir-crazy being stuck in the house!  You’d think I’d have a good time…you know, maybe get caught up on blogging and do some experimental cooking.  But the truth is, I just now opened the computer (4 days into this ordeal)…and haven’t had the energy (or motivation) to cook.

I couldn’t stomach the thought that I’d have to eat takeout for another day.  I’m sick of takeout.  So this afternoon I rummaged through the refrigerator and found a bunch of random ingredients.  I had arugula,  lots of mint and a bunch of chopped shallots hanging out in my produce drawer.  I also had some cut up cantaloupe.

Salad, it was!

Cantaloupe, Arugula and Mint Salad with Chevre

I had no idea how this salad would taste, or if my husband would even eat it, but it turned out to be a success!  The arugula added a little bitterness to what would otherwise be a very sweet salad.  It balanced really nicely.

I think it would make an incredibly beautiful fruit salad as well.  I can imagine less arugula and more cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon.  Maybe add a little more mint and a smidgen of honey drizzled over everything.  Yum!

 

As for a recipe, I simply tossed my greens (I used baby arugula), chopped mint, and chunks of cantaloupe together.  I then drizzled with a little homemade dressing, and garnished with some chevre.

The dressing was quite simple, and used things I had on hand.  If you decide to try this recipe, feel free to substitute whatever you think would taste good.  You could even make a simple balsamic vinaigrette with some olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar.

In fact, a flavored olive oil or balsamic vinegar would really enhance the dressing.  I didn’t have any flavored oil or vinegar that would work, so I used a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil.  I also used apple cider vinegar–for a little flavor.

Cantaloupe, Arugula and Mint Salad Dressing

This recipe makes quite a bit of dressing.  I only use about 2 tbsp to dress my salad, so I’d say this makes enough for 6-10  salads (depending how much dressing you use).

  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil (use all olive oil, if you prefer)
  • Honey, to taste (I used a few tbsp.)
  • 3 tbsp. mustard (I used Blueberry mustard, but any Dijon or dark mustard would be great–steer clear of the yellow stuff in the Heinz bottle).
  • 2 medium-large shallots, diced
  • salt-to taste
  • pepper- to taste

I toss all the ingredients in a mason jar (the medium sized one) and shake it until everything is mixed really well.  Drizzle it over the salads, and store the remainder in the jar.  It’ll stay good for a week (even longer…) if kept in the fridge.

Fresh salad of Cantaloupe, Arugula and Mint

Hopefully I’ll get back to blogging more regularly soon!  In the mean time, I hope you enjoy this salad!

 

 

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

When Driscoll’s Berries contacts you and asks if you’d like to try their raspberries, you tell them yes; and then make a risotto!

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

The truth is, I’ve been buying Driscoll’s berries for years.  Even when the berries aren’t in season, they’re usually pretty good.  But during the summer, when the raspberries are at their peak, they are out-of-this-world-amazing!

I was sent some coupons for $2.00 off a package of berries–which is a good deal, but I was sort of sad that I still had to pay a little over $2 out of pocket per package–especially when they’re in season.  Berries are expensive!

I brought the berries home and devoured a small handful!  They were plump and sweet.  Just how I like them! 🙂

I knew I had a really busy week ahead, and wouldn’t have a chance to get to the berries before they lost their freshness, so I decided to freeze them.  Freezing the fruit at it’s peak ripeness is a great way to enjoy the berries all winter long.

In my opinion, frozen berries picked in-season always trump fresh berries out-of-season.  Always.

Driscoll’s sweet red raspberries

I had all sorts of sweet ideas about how to use the raspberries.  Pies, tarts, jams, jellies, quick breads…and they would all be equally delicious; but I wanted something savory.  And I didn’t want a sauce.

I found this recipe on Driscoll’s website that looked pretty good, and I’m probably going to give it a try eventually (probably during the holidays…yum!):

But it wasn’t what I wanted tonight.

I did a lot of searching, and had a hard time finding inspiration.  There’s not really many savory raspberry recipes–aside from salads or sauces–that I’m aware of, and that’s quite unfortunate.

So I ventured a little outside of the box and decided to try the raspberries in a risotto.  I was pretty sure it’d taste good, but I was also pretty sure Piyush would hate it.

I was right; the risotto tasted amazing.  But I was also wrong.  Luckily, Piyush didn’t hate my risotto.  Quite the opposite, actually.

In fact, Piyush loved it; and that means something.  He’s such a food critic.

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

Serves 4

If you are bothered by the seeds in the raspberries or would like a pink colored risotto, you can puree the berries and run them through a fine sieve before adding to the risotto.

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. uncooked arborio rice
  • 5-6 c. veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large shallots – chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves- smashed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. herbes de provence
  • 3 tbsp. dry white wine (I used a dry Marsala)
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 oz. chevre (goat cheese)
  • 1 c. frozen Driscoll’s raspberries
  • salt- to taste
  • cracked black pepper- to taste
Directions:
  • Bring Stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  • Pour 2 tbsp. olive oil into a heavy bottomed pan (I used my dutch oven) and heat over medium-high flame.  Once the oil is hot, add the shallot and garlic–stirring constantly.  You don’t want the shallot to take on a brown color, but you want it to be cooked through and semi-translucent –approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Once the shallot and garlic are cooked, add the Herbes de Provence.  Stir to combine.
  • Add the uncooked rice to the pot and cook (stirring constantly) for about a minute.  Add 3 tbsp. wine to deglaze. Keep stirring the rice until all the wine seems to be absorbed and the pan is looking dry.
  • Add one ladle of stock (approximately 1/2 c.) and stir until nearly all of it is absorbed by the rice.  Keep stirring and adding stock 1/2 c. at a time as the rice absorbs it.  I ended up using about 5 cups of stock, but it will really depend on how long your rice takes to cook (you want the rice to be al dente –it should have a little bite to it) and how creamy you like your risotto. This process will take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Add the goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Keep cooking and stirring until the cheese is completely melted.  The risotto should have a nice thick, creamy consistency at this point. Fold in the frozen raspberries. Cook 1 or 2 minutes longer, until the raspberries are no longer frozen. Remove from heat.
  • Serve as soon as possible for best flavor.  Garnish with extra chevre.

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Goat Cheese

Herbes de Provence is a fantastic French dried-herb blend.  It usually includes herbs such as: lavender, rosemary, tarragon, basil and thyme.  Aside from this risotto, it’s also wonderful to use when roasting a chicken.  It smells so fragrant and floral!

Raspberry Risotto garnished with a sprig of lavender from my garden!

This was a perfect meal on a hot, summer day.  Nothing beats a bowl of risotto and a nice, chilled glass of wine!  🙂

Well….almost nothing!  You see, I also made a batch of Kala Jamuns.  Kala Jumuns–blackened gulab jamuns– are amazing Indian sweets, and I finally recreated them perfectly (thanks Maa, Baba, and everyone else that helped with the sweet-making advice)!

Homemade Kala Jamun

You can read about kala jamuns and gulab jamuns HERE, and see my first attempt to master this sweet.  …and if you’re interested, check back.  I’ll have the basic recipe posted soon!