Sunday, December 26, 2010

Edamame Cutlets

Cutlets are typically prepared using meat or vegetables and interpreted differently across international cuisines. In Indian cuisine, one of the popular appetizers being vegetable cutlets is made using potatoes, peas, carrots, onions, green chillies and spices. Both sides of the cutlet is dipped in an all-purpose flour batter (mixed with sufficient water) or eggwash  and coated with breadcrumbs. It is lightly fried in hot oil. You can also shallow fry the cutlets to make it a much healthier option.

I like soy-based ingredients and use them frequently in my cooking...one such ingredient being edamame (shelled soybeans).  You can use fresh or frozen edamame for this recipe. Mostly when I make these cutlets, I use soy nut powder (grind roasted soy nuts coarsely) for the coating. You can try different variations for the coating such as ground soy nut or coarse yellow cornmeal or just stick to the good old breadcrumbs. It can be served as an appetizer or also as edamame burger with onion, tomato & cheese slices on your favorite burger buns.

Ingredients:

12 oz edamame (frozen shelled soybeans)
1 large zucchini, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 spring/green onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp olive oil
Cooking spray, to shallow fry cutlets
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal (for coating)

Method:


Cook the edamame according to the instructions on the package. Allow it to cool and grind the edamame (not too finely...its ok if you have some edamame pieces) to a coarse paste (slightly wet and sticky consistency).

In a pan, heat olive oil and add zucchini, red bell pepper and jalapeno. Sauté the vegetables until they are slightly soft.

In a bowl, add the ground edamame, sautéed vegetables, spring onion and cilantro leaves. Add paprika, garlic powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, salt and sunflower seeds and mix them to blend all ingredients.

Use the edamame mix to make medium-sized round cutlets and coat them on both sides with cornmeal. In a nonstick skillet, on medium-high heat, coat with cooking spray and place 4 cutlets at a time and cook until slightly golden brown on each side. Serve hot with tomato ketchup or chilli sauce.

Makes 12-14 cutlets.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hot and Sour Vegetable Soup

Hot and Sour Soup is popular among asian cuisines and is prepared either using meat or meat-free. It is typically made hot using spicy red peppers and sour using vinegar. This soup can be categorized as an Indo-Chinese version that contains ingredients such as mushrooms, tofu, bamboo shoots and vegetables in a broth flavored with spices. It can be prepared thicker than the traditional Chinese versions by adding cornstarch. A recipe so simple and quick without any compromise on taste.

Ingredients:

5 cups vegetable broth
8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup cabbage, cut finely
1/4 cup bamboo shoot, cut into strips (optional)
1/4 cup baby corn, cut into small pieces (optional)
4 oz soft tofu, cut into thin strips (optional)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
6 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp chilli garlic sauce/paste (adjust to taste)
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch, mixed in 1/4 cup water until no lumps
1/4 tsp ajinomoto (optional)
1/4 cup spring onions, finely chopped
Salt, to taste

Method:

In a stockpot, add the broth, vegetables and tofu and allow it to boil. Cook the vegetables on low heat until they are slightly soft.

Add the grated ginger, soy sauce, chilli garlic sauce, ajinomoto and vinegar. Adjust spices according to taste and add salt, if required.

Add the cornstarch paste to the soup and mix well. Allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes until the soup turns slightly thick. I prefer it on the lighter side but if you like it much thicker, you can increase the amount of cornstarch to 2 tbsp until you get the desired consistency. 

Garnish with spring onions and serve hot.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce is an asian inspired recipe.  Its very similar to the sauce that is served with the Thai Salad but spicy instead. You can serve this noodles with or without veggies and it will still taste great. A simple, spicy and healthy recipe which you can make in no time.

Ingredients:

6 oz whole wheat thin spaghetti or noodles
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
4 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2-3 tbsp sriracha sauce (adjust according to your taste)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 spring onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 - 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 cup steamed vegetables (optional)

Method:



Cook the spaghetti/ noodles according to the directions in the package by adding some salt and oil to the water. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a bowl, add the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, spring onion, ginger and sriracha sauce and whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.

Just before serving, toss the spaghetti/ noodles with 3/4 of the peanut sauce and top with vegetables. I know its good to eat veggies with every meal but don't add too many...you can add some broccoli, sugar snap peas and carrots. I like mine without veggies as it brings out the flavors of the spicy peanut sauce. 

Drizzle the remaining sauce over the vegetables and spaghetti.  Garnish with spring onions and coarsely chopped peanuts and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

Every now and then, I crave for something sweet and usually resort to recipes that can be made easily. At times, I try to make vegan recipes to avoid the fat content. I made some peanut butter cookies and they turned out great...sure couldn't stop with one cookie. These cookies are a low-fat version when compared to the regular ones.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (use crunchy peanut butter, if you like bits of peanuts)
Pinch of salt

Method:


Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a mixing bowl, add whole wheat flour, oat flour (grind the instant oats to a powder consistency), brown sugar, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well. Stir in the wet ingredients to the dry mix. Make sure that the ingredients are mixed well. If not, you can use your hand to knead the dough.

Drop a tablespoon size of the dough onto a cookie sheet (line with parchment paper) about 1-2 inches apart and flatten it. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are lightly golden brown. Cookies will be soft when out of the oven and firm up as they cool. Cool the cookies for 10 minutes and serve.

Makes 12-14 medium sized cookies.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sweet Corn Vegetable Soup

Sweet corn vegetable soup is popular among the Indo-Chinese cuisine and is one of the simplest soup to make. It is a much lighter soup when compared to other soups and one of my favorites. This soup can be prepared using clear vegetable stock or water. Using a stock, gives it more body and makes it much more flavorful.

Ingredients:

5 cups clear vegetable stock or water
1 can (10 oz) cream style corn
1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
2 carrots, petite diced
1 cup green beans, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp cornstarch (mix with 1/4 cup water)
1/4 tsp ajinomoto (optional)
Soy sauce, to taste
Salt, to taste
White pepper powder, to taste

Method:

In a stock pot, add the clear vegetable stock (or water), carrots, corn kernels and beans and cook the vegetables until they are done.

Add the cream style corn, vinegar, salt, pepper and ajinomoto and simmer for few minutes.

Now, add the cornstarch paste slowly and mix well to get the desired consistency. Add more water, if required. Garnish with spring onions and serve hot with soy sauce and chilli vinegar(finely chopped green chillies with vinegar and salt).

To make clear vegetable stock:

Ingredients:

6 cups water
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup cabbage, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp whole black peppercorns.
Few bay leaves
Few cloves
Salt, to taste

Method:

In a stock pot,  add water, vegetables and spices and allow to boil on slow flame for 25-30 minutes until all the flavors are infused into the broth. Strain the clear stock and use in recipes. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or frozen until you want to use it later (thaw before using).

Makes 6 servings.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mushroom Pepper Fry

Mushrooms are widely used in asian cuisines and is packed with fiber, proteins and essential vitamins. It tastes good in dry recipes and gravies. Personally, I like the combination of mushroom and bell peppers and this is a very simple recipe. Give it a try...

Ingredients:

10 oz button mushrooms, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
Few curry leaves
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Lime juice, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Method:


In a pan, heat oil and add curry leaves, onions, garlic, green chillies and fry till onions are translucent.  Now, add the mushrooms and sauté well for few minutes. Add the green bell peppers and cook until they are almost done. 

Add the curry powder and salt and mix well with the vegetables. Allow the flavors to blend well and add black pepper powder, if you like it spicier. Add lemon juice to the vegetables and fry for 1-2 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis.

Makes 3 servings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wheat Oat Dosa

Dosa, a popular dish in south indian cuisine is usually made from a fermented batter of rice and black lentils. Mostly considered as a breakfast dish, dosas can be consumed at any time. They are usually served with a side dish of sambar (lentil curry) or chutney.

Every now and then, I try to cook healthy alternatives for rice-based dishes. Normally, I make wheat oat idlis and decided to use the base ingredients to make dosas instead. After making these dosas, I don't think I'll miss the rice-based dosas anymore. 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup instant oats
1/2 cup cracked wheat (fine)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup water
Oil, for greasing the dosa

Method:

In a pan on medium heat, dry roast the instant oats until it turns light brown. In a bowl, add enough water to soak the oats for 20-30 minutes.

In the same pan, dry roast the fine cracked wheat for a minute until it gets heated. Soak the cracked wheat in a bowl with water (make sure you don't add too much water....just enough to immerse it) for 20-30 minutes.

In a blender, add the soaked cracked wheat and blend it to a paste but not too fine. Pour this into a bowl and keep aside. Now, blend the soaked oats to a fine paste and mix with the cracked wheat.

To the wheat-oat batter, add cumin seeds, green chillies, ginger, cilantro and salt. Mix all the ingredients and add little water, if the batter seems too thick. You can also add finely chopped onions to the batter, if you wish.

In a hot griddle or flat pan, pour the batter in small amounts and spread it out into a medium thin circle and fry on each side for few minutes with little oil (optional...you can use nonstick pan to avoid using oil) until it turns slightly brown. The dosa can be folded in half and served. Serve with sambar or chutney.

Makes 6-7 dosas.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chocolate Mousse

Mousse (derived from French word) can be prepared either as a light and fluffy texture or creamy and thick. A dessert mousse typically contains eggs and cream and can use any flavoring...the classic being chocolate. Dessert mousse was originally available only in fancy french restaurants but nowadays they are easily available everywhere.

Generally, I don't prefer recipes which focus on eggs as one of the main ingredients. As I like the texture of the chocolate mousse, I decided to rely on one of my mostly used ingredients...Tofu. Tofu is one ingredient which can change its texture so easily depending on the kind you use. Its good to use silken tofu for desserts as it can make it so creamy. The best part is no one can tell that there is tofu in the recipe and it tastes good.

Here's a healthy mousse recipe ...

Ingredients:

8 oz silken tofu
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup dark cocoa candy melts or bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup milk chocolate toffee bits + 1 tbsp for garnish
2 tbsp whipped cream

Method:


Combine the bittersweet chocolate and milk chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave in short intervals until completely melted and keep aside to cool.

In a blender, add the silken tofu and purée until it becomes smooth and creamy. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract to the tofu and blend well. (If you find the purée to be sweet, you can add 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of instant coffee powder and blend with the rest of the ingredients which will cut some of the sweetness and enhance the flavor of the chocolate)

Put the chocolate mousse in small dessert cups or ramekins and cover then with clear wrap. Refrigerate them for 3-4 hours until it sets.

Serve chilled with whipped cream and sprinkle some milk chocolate toffee bits on top. Enjoy!!

Makes 5 servings.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin, a gourd-like squash is typically orange or yellow or white in color. Pumpkin, also known as winter squash is the star of Halloween and Thanskgiving in the U.S. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible including the pumpkin seeds which is a good source of protein that can help lower cholestrol. The high fiber content helps aid digestion too. Aren't all these health benefits a good reason for you to start using pumpkin in your cooking more often?

I prefer more soups during Winter which makes you feel warm and comforted. Just the perfect food to suit the season. Here's a pumpkin soup recipe for you to get started....

Ingredients:

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups orange pumpkin, diced
1 bay leaf
2-3 cloves
1-2 cinnamon sticks, small pieces
2 cups water
1 tsp chilli powder (can add more, if you like it spicier)
1 oz light cream (optional)
Salt, to taste

Method:



In a pressure cooker, heat the butter and oil. Add the bay leaf, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. After it starts to splutter, add the chopped onions and minced garlic and sauté for few minutes until the onions are translucent.

Now, add the tomatoes and fry until they turn pulpy. Add the diced pumpkin, chilli powder and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the water and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles.

Allow the cooked pumpkin to cool for few minutes. Remove the bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon sticks (the spices are used only for infusing the flavor in the soup) and  purée the pumpkin using a hand blender (makes it so much easier) or a regular blender.

Heat the pumpkin purée and add the desired amount of salt and mix well. The texture of the soup is smooth and creamy but you can add light cream, if you want to make it more creamy.

If you feel the soup is too thick, you can thin it out by adding more water. If you want more heat, you can add a dash of tabasco or sprinkle some fresh ground black pepper when serving. Serve hot along with a side salad.

Makes 5 servings.

Quick Salad:

2 cups romaine lettuce, cut into small pieces, washed
1 small red onion, cut lengthwise
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, each tomato cut into half
5-6 black olives, sliced
2 tbsp jalapeno peppers, sliced
2-3 tbsp banana peppers
2-3 tbsp light balsamic vinaigrette

Toss all the ingredients along with the vinaigrette and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vada Curry

Vada Curry (Spicy lentil gravy) is a popular south indian side dish served with Idlis or Dosas. As I mentioned earlier, the only time I make an exception to eat Idlis is when I have the perfect side dish....one of which is vada curry.  The perfect blend of spices along with the right amount of heat makes this curry irresistable. For this recipe, you need to make the vadas - it can either be steamed or fried. Since, there is not much of difference taste wise, I normally steam the vadas which makes them healthier too.

Ingredients:

For the vadas:

1 1/2 cups channa dal (split chickpea lentil)
3-4 red chillies
3-4 green chillies
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2-3 cloves
1-2 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)
1/2 inch piece ginger , skin removed
2-3 cloves garlic, with skin
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5-6 curry leaves
Salt, to taste

For the curry:

2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
8-10 almonds
3-4 cloves
2-3 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)
2-3 bay leaves
3-4 green chillies, slit lengthwise
Chilli powder, to taste
Salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp oil

Method:


For the vadas:

Rinse and soak the channa dal for 2 hours.

Dry grind the green chillies, red chillies, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and garlic to a fine paste.

Make a paste of the dal and the ground masala (split into 2 parts) and add salt. Grind coarsely and repeat for the second part of the dal and the masala.

Add the vada batter to finely chopped onions and few curry leaves. Make the batter into small round balls and steam them for 10-12 minutes.  Allow it to cool and set aside. (You can make them well ahead and freeze them. Defrost and use them, when required).

For the curry:

In a deep pan, heat 2-3 tbsp of oil. Add cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, chopped onions and fry well.

Now, add the slit green chillies, ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell fades away. Add the tomatoes and sauté till it becomes pulpy.

Make a paste with coconut, saunf and almonds. Add little water, if required.

To the tomatoes and onions, add chilli powder and fry for few minutes until the raw smell is gone. Now, add the coconut paste and 2 cups of water and allow it to boil.

After the curry starts boiling, add the steamed vadas (mash them slightly) and turn the stove to medium-low heat.

Add salt to the curry and lemon juice, if desired. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Mix well and serve with Idlis.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Veg. Paneer Pulao

In Indian cuisine, Pulao (also spelt as Pulav) is a dish made with rice and vegetables or meat. Typically, paneer pulao is an easy rice dish that uses paneer and peas. I decided to use some veggies instead of just peas. You can let your imagination decide as to what kind of pulao you want to try. Here's my recipe...

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables, fresh or frozen (peas, carrots, beans, corn, lima beans)
1 cup paneer (indian cottage cheese), cut into small cubes
1 1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
4-5 green chillies, cut each lengthwise into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 large onion, cut lengthwise into thin slices
1 large tomato, finely chopped
2 tsp chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice (adjust according to taste)
5-6 cloves
4-5 bay leaves
1-2 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)
Salt, to taste
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt (whisked) or buttermilk + 1 1/4 cup water (yields 2 3/4 cups)

Method:


Rinse and soak the basmati rice for 20-25 minutes.

In a pan, shallow fry the paneer cubes using some cooking spray until they turn slightly golden brown.

In a deep pan or stockpot, heat oil & ghee, add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and bay leaves. Add the onions and green chillies and fry until the onions are slightly brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes until it turns pulpy. Add the ginger-garlic paste and chilli powder. Cook until the raw smell fades away.

Now, add the mixed vegetables (if you feel that its too much veggies, you can reduce the quantity... but it never hurts to have more veggies!!!) and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the paneer and soaked rice. Mix well with the vegetables and spices and fry the rice for 3 minutes or so. Add the yogurt and water to rice and salt to taste. When the liquid starts to boil, add chopped cilantro and stir well. Close the lid and cook on medium flame for 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked (do not stir in between).

Squeeze the lemon juice on the rice and slightly mix it. Serve with raitha.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mirchi Ka Salan

Mirchi ka salan is a curry made with chillies, peanuts and sesame seeds that originates from Hyderabad, India.  It is typically served with the famous hyderabad biriyani. As this curry is made using green chillies, people wrongly assume it to be very spicy. It all depends on the type of peppers you choose for this curry. With the right amount of spices, you can end up with a tasty dish that might soon become a favorite in your household.

Ingredients:

6-8 anaheim peppers (you can use jalapeno or serrano peppers too)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3-4 tbsp tamarind pulp (adjust to taste)
1 tsp red chili powder
Salt, to taste

For the Salan:

1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup peanuts, dry roasted and skin removed
6-7 red chillies, dry roasted
3 tbsp shredded coconut, dry roasted
1 tsp coriander seeds, dry roasted

For seasoning:

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 tbsp oil

Method:


Wash the anaheim peppers and pat them dry.  Slit each pepper and remove the seeds from the peppers to reduce the spiciness.

In a medium-heat pan, dry roast the coconut, sesame seeds, peanuts, red chillies and coriander seeds one by one separately for 2-3 minutes until they are slightly brown and place them separately on a plate.

In a blender, add all the roasted ingredients, salt (to taste) and 1-2 tbsp tamarind pulp. Grind to a smooth paste, adding little water, if necessary.

In a deep pan, heat 1tbsp oil and add the anaheim peppers. Sear the peppers for 4-5 mins but make sure not to burn them. Remove the peppers and set aside.


In the same pan, add 3-4 tbsp oil, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. After it splutters, add the finely chopped onions and fry them until they turn slightly brown. Now, add the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Stir the ingredients and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the ground salan paste to the above ingredients and add more salt and tamarind pulp, if desired.  Cook the gravy for 15-20 minutes on medium-low heat until the gravy starts to thicken. If you find the gravy to be too thick, you can add 1/4 -1/2 cup water and mix well.

Finally, add the seared peppers to the gravy and cook for 10 minutes or so until the peppers blend well with the gravy. Remove from heat and serve with rice or rotis.


Makes 4-5 servings.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wheat Oat Idli

Idli, a staple of south indian food is enjoyed by many. I have never been a fan of traditional idli and always found excuses to opt for something else. But, the only time I make an exception is when there is a right combination to go with it.

Recently, I came across a recipe which used Oats and Semolina that changed my opinion about Idlis. I tried out that recipe and it turned out to be soft and pretty good that I started recommending that recipe to friends and family. I wanted to try using Oats with cracked wheat as its similar in texture to the Semolina but a lot more healthier than its lighter counterpart. Being the healthy food that Oats is, it makes it all the more appetizing because of its soft texture when making these Idlis. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can make it instantly and store the leftover idli mix for later use.

Ingredients:

2 cups instant oats
1 cup cracked wheat, powdered to semolina (sooji) consistency
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
Plain yogurt, depending on the quantity of the idli mixture (typically, 1:1 ratio)
Oil, for greasing the idli plates

For seasoning:

1 tbsp oil
1 tsp chana dhal (split chickpea lentil)
1 tsp urad dhal (split black gram lentil)
1 tsp mustard seeds
4-5 green chillies, finely chopped
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 tsp grated ginger

Method:


Powder the cracked wheat to semolina consistency and set aside.

In a pan on medium heat, dry roast the instant oats until it turns light brown. Cool the oats for few minutes. After it cools down, in a blender or food processor, grind the oats coarsely (as oats grinds quickly, make sure you don't grind it too fine).

In a large bowl, mix the powdered cracked wheat and the powdered oats together. Add salt and baking soda and mix well.

In a pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds, urad dhal and chana dhal. When the mustard seeds splutters and the dhals turn slightly brown, add the green chillies, curry leaves and grated ginger.

Now, add the seasoning to the dry idli powder and mix well. In a mixing bowl, add the required quantity of the dry mix and plain yogurt (1:1 ratio) and mix well. Prepare the idli-yogurt batter just before steaming as it tends to thicken.

Pour the batter on the greased idli plates and place them in the pressure cooker and steam (do not use the weight) for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool the idlis for 1-2 minutes and serve the idlis with sambar and/or chutney. 

For this recipe, I used 2 cups of the dry mix and 2 cups of plain yogurt which yields 16  idlis.

Makes 16 idlis.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mango Lassi

Lassi is one of the most popular Punjabi yogurt-based drink. The traditional lassi is made using yogurt, milk and indian spices. There are several variations like sweet lassi, salted lassi and mango lassi. It is also one of the easiest drinks to make.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup canned mango pulp
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp honey or 3-4 tbsp sugar (adjust sweetness according to your taste)
1/4 cup ice
1/4 cup mango, diced (optional)
Few saffron strands (optional)

Method:

Add mango pulp, nonfat yogurt, milk, sugar and ice into a blender and puree until the ice is crushed.  Now, mix the diced mangoes with the lassi and pour into individual glasses. Garnish with few strands of saffron and serve cold.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dum Aloo

Dum Aloo is a north indian recipe, primarily, a kashmiri cuisine. Baby potatoes (red or white) are used for this recipe. The traditional recipe is made with a rich spicy gravy.  This recipe is a lighter version without coconut or cashews. Dum Aloo is cooked slowly with a yogurt based gravy filled with flavorful indian spices.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut into chunks
3-4 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 inch ginger
2 green chillies
12 red baby potatoes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 cup plain yogurt (whisk it to make a smooth paste)
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp oil

Method:


Boil the baby potatoes until they are slightly tender (make sure that you don't overcook them). Cool the potatoes and peel the skin. Prick the potatoes with a fork and set aside.

Grind onion, tomatoes, ginger and green chillies to a fine paste.  In a pan, heat oil, add cumin seeds and after it splutters, add the ground paste.  Allow it to cook for 5 mins.

Now, add chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder and salt to the gravy. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the raw smell fades away.

Add the baby potatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes. To the gravy, add the yogurt and stir constantly, so that the yogurt doesn't break in the gravy.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the yogurt blends well.  Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve with rotis.

Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mexican Pizza

Mexican Pizza, as you might think, is not of mexican origin. Mexican Pizza is made with ingredients used in mexican cuisine. It is a spin-off from the Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza. This vegetarian recipe is a healthier version as I don't use any fried tortilla but bake it instead. You can add as many ingredients as you like but I have kept it simple.

Ingredients:

4 whole wheat tortilla
1 1/2 tsp spicy taco seasoning (optional)
1 can (16 oz) fat-free refried beans
1 cup Picante sauce/ hot salsa (I like Pace Hot Salsa...very spicy)
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
3/4 cup spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup of jalapeno slices
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup light sour cream (optional)

Method:


Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Bake the wheat tortillas for 2-3 minutes on each side.

In a sauce pan, heat the refried beans and mix with taco seasoning, if you wish. Set aside.

Now, place the wheat tortilla on the cookie sheet. Layer it with the refried beans (make sure that its not too thick). Add a layer of the hot salsa to the layered refried beans. Top with chopped tomatoes, spring onions, jalapeno slices and cilantro leaves. Finally, top it with shredded cheddar cheese. Repeat for each wheat tortilla.

Bake the tortillas for 10-12 minutes until the base starts to get crispy and the cheese is melted (you can bake 2 tortillas, if you are using a medium size cookie sheet). Cut each tortilla into 4 pieces and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a side of mexican/spanish rice.

 Makes 4 pizzas.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baked Pita Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Baked Pita Chips is one of the healthiest snacks you can think of. I like pita chips but the ones you get in the stores are so salty. Moreover, you don't get whole wheat pita chips.... just the regular ones. You can try out different spices and herbs and make your own kind of pita chips. You can use regular pita, if you don't like the whole wheat pita. 

The best pairing for pita chips is hummus, without a doubt. Hummus is a dip which has garbanzo beans, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, garlic and salt as a base. It is a popular dish in the middle-east which is sometimes served with falafels (fried ball/patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans).

Ingredients:

For baked pita chips:

4 large whole wheat pita chips, cut into small triangles/pieces
Olive oil, to coat the pita chips
Salt, to taste
1/2 tbsp red chili flakes (you can adjust spice according to your taste)
 3/4 tbsp garlic powder

For roasted red pepper hummus:

1 (15.5oz) can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 large roasted red pepper (1/2 cup equivalent), chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Method:


For baked pita chips:

Cut the whole wheat pita into small triangles or pieces (I usually cut one whole pita into 8 triangles and then cut each one into half and separate the front and back, but if you want it thick, you can leave them without separating it).

Now, either prepare a mix of olive oil, salt, red chili flakes and garlic powder and brush them on each piece of pita or you can just add each ingredient on the pita pieces and toss well to coat each one of them.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the pita pieces on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake them for 10-12 minutes depending on how crispy you want them.

For roasted red pepper hummus:

Before we even get started, you're probably wondering where is the tahini in the ingredients list. Honestly, I can never tell the difference with or without tahini. So, I make my hummus without  tahini but if you wish, you can add it.

In a blender or food processor, add the chopped garlic, garbanzo beans, cumin powder, paprika, red chili flakes, and salt. Blend to a smooth paste.

Now, add the roasted red pepper (I used store-bought but you can make your own too) and lemon juice. Blend well and slowly start adding olive oil till it starts to look creamy and smooth. Garnish with finely chopped roasted red pepper. Serve with pita chips and snack away!!

Makes 5-6 servings.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Black-Eyed Peas Curry

Black-eyed pea, also called black-eyed bean is rich in fiber like most beans. They taste good when combined with vegetables as a gravy or even tossed up as a salad. In some cultures, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring good luck and prosperity.

The gravy can be used as a base and replaced with red kidney beans or garbanzo beans (chickpea). Here's a quick and simple recipe....

Ingredients:

2 onions, diced
5 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt, to taste
Tamarind, to taste (I used 1 tsp of tamarind paste)
Black-eyed peas, boiled (you can used canned too)
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

For seasoning:

1 tbsp oil
4-5 cloves
4-5 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)

Method:

Boil the black-eyed peas in a cooker with water and salt for 2-3 whistles (if your's has one) or cook it until 3/4th done...just make sure you don't overcook it, so adjust accordingly. Drain the water from the peas.

In a pan, heat oil and and add onions, garlic and ginger. Fry for few minutes until they turn slightly brown. Now, grind the above ingredients along with tomatoes, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and tamarind. Make a fine paste and set aside.

In a pan, heat oil, add cloves, cinnamon and the ground paste. Keep it on low flame and allow it to cook for 15-20 minutes until the raw smell fades away.

To the gravy, add the cooked black-eyed peas and boil for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers is a recipe which is interpreted differently around the world. In India, stuffed peppers is in the form of a gravy filled with spices. But in the U.S., it is almost a meal by itself filled with various types of stuffing. You can use any kind of beans or vegetables of your choice.

This recipe does not contain any rice but you can add some cooked rice or quinoa or couscous, if you wish. Some recipes steam or boil the bell peppers for few minutes before stuffing and baking the peppers. You can use orange, yellow, red or green bell peppers or mix them up to make it more colorful.

Ingredients:

4 medium green bell peppers, tops cut off , seeds removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2  of 15 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
1 cup black beans, cooked
1/2 cup corn
3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped (any kind, I used button mushrooms)
1 tbsp curry powder (optional)
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded jalapeno cheese, for garnish
1 tbsp olive oil
Cooking spray, to grease baking dish

Method:


Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in the black beans and corn. Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté well. Now, add some salt, cayenne pepper and curry powder . Mix well until all the vegetables and spices blend together. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease the baking dish using cooking spray.

Scoop the stuffing into the peppers and place them on the baking dish. Garnish each bell pepper with basil and jalapeno cheese on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the peppers get cooked and the top of the stuffed peppers are brown.  Serve each stuffed pepper with some marinara sauce or spicy salsa. Enjoy!!

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili (also known as chili sin carne or chili without meat) is a spicy flavorful stew-like dish. Mostly made with some kind of meat was slowly replaced by veggies with the rise of vegetarians in the U.S. It is debatable whether Chili originated in Mexico since its rarely found there anymore. Did you know that Chili con carne or Chili with meat is the official dish of Texas??

I started making this dish when I went on a diet as it is such an hearty meal with so many vegetables, beans and spices. Since then, it has become one of my favorites. You can add any kind of vegetables or beans to suit your needs.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celerey, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 (15oz) can petite diced tomatoes with liquid
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 (15oz) can black beans with liquid
1 (15oz) can red kidney beans, drained
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/4 cup vegetable broth (optional)
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Cheddar cheese, for garnish (optional)
Light sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Method:


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, green bell pepper, zucchini, jalapeno peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned.

Add chili powder, cumin powder, oregano, and salt. Mix well with the vegetables. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and beans.

If you find the chili to be very thick, you can dilute it a bit with some vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to low heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in lime juice and cilantro just before serving. Garnish individual bowls with cheddar cheese and sour cream, if desired.

Makes 5 servings.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cauliflower Manchurian

Cauliflower Manchurian, also known as Gobi Manchurian is a fusion of indian and chinese cuisine. Surprisingly, this is quite a popular dish among indians. Majority of the indian restaurants serve this dish and I am sure that most of us have either made it or tasted it at some point or the other. I guess the combination of the deep fried cauliflower with the tangy spicy sauce bursting with chinese flavors makes it a sought after dish.

Well, its one of those days when I suddenly start craving something and somehow I've gotta have it. I was hoping someone would make it for me...if only I was that lucky!! Anyways, as usual, I wound up making it myself. 

Cauliflower Manchurian can be made either dry (served as an appetizer) or as a gravy. This recipe is semi-gravy.


Ingredients:

For cauliflower fry:

1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
5 tbsp cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
Oil, for frying
Salt, to taste

For gravy:

2 green bell peppers, diced into medium chunks
1 onion, diced into medium chunks
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp green chilli sauce
2 tbsp red chilli paste
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp Ajinomoto
1/4 tsp cornflour (make a paste by adding some water to it)
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 cup spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup water
2-3 drops of red food color
Salt, to taste

Method:


Soak the cauliflower florets in hot water with salt for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a bowl, add the cauliflower florets, all-purpose flour, cornflour, salt, white pepper powder and ginger-garlic paste and mix well. Normally, the florets are deep fried until golden brown. But I shallow fried the florets until light brown. Choice is yours :)

In a pan, heat oil and add the garlic and onion. Fry till the onions turn slightly brown. Add the diced bell peppers and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Now, add the green chilli sauce and red chilli paste. Fry till the raw smell fades away. Add the tomato sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, ajinomoto and salt. Mix all the ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cauliflower florets and stir well with the other ingredients. Allow it to cook for few minutes until all the flavors blend with the cauliflower. Add the cornflour paste, red color and some water to get a semi-gravy consistency.

Garnish with spring onions and serve with fried rice or rotis.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Nut Rice

Nut Rice as the name implies consists of nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews and some raisins too. Before you read ahead, this recipe is not meant for the calorie conscious. If you don't mind occasional splurges on your calories, then go for it. The more the nuts, the tastier the rice. Feel free to add any other kind of nuts you wish.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1/4 cup cashewnuts, each cut in half
1/2 cup walnuts, each cut into 2 or 3 pieces
1/2 cup almonds, each cut lengthwise into 3 pieces
1/4 cup raisins, any kind (I used california raisins)
1 big onion, sliced lengthwise
7-8 green chillies, slit lengthwise
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 1/2 cups coconut milk + 3/4 -1 cup water
2-3 bay leaves
5-6 cloves
2-3 cinnamon  sticks
3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste

Method:


Rinse and soak the basmati rice for about 20 minutes.

In a deep pan or stockpot, heat 1 1/2 tbsp ghee and fry the nuts individually until golden brown and fry the raisins till they start becoming plumpy. Set aside.

In the same pan or stockpot, heat the remaining ghee and oil. Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. As it heats up, add the onions and green chillies and fry until the onions are slightly brown. 

Now, add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the raw smell fades away. Add the soaked basmati rice and fry for 2 minutes until the rice starts to separate. 

Add the coconut milk, water and salt to the rice and mix well. Allow it to cook on medium flame for 10-12 minutes until the rice gets cooked.


Turn off the stove and add the nuts and raisins to the rice. Gently mix them with the rice. Serve with raitha.

The next time you make raitha, try adding some sour cream with plain yogurt to give a creamy texture. I like the taste and for all you know, you might like it too!!

Makes 4 servings.