Monday, October 29, 2012

Vegetable Kurma

Kurma is a popular dish in India and it has many variations to it. It is made as a rich creamy based curry with either yogurt, cream or coconut milk. Personally, I make three different variations (all thanks to mom who gives me ideas and then my experimentation begins) and each pairs well with either rice or rotis. Generally, I don't prefer using coconut much until absolutely necessary .....only when it comes to making or breaking a dish. Although this ingredient has been around forever - roasted split dalia, I recently started using it in some of my gravies and it works wonders especially when you need a creamy base. For a while now, my substitute for coconut has been almonds and dalia but I did use coconut and dalia in this recipe. I must admit that the vegetable kurma turned out to be tasty (more restaurant style taste) and paired well with parathas. I tried making layer parathas (using all purpose flour/maida) for the first time and it turned out fine although I am planning on making wheat parathas which will follow in another post. So, here's a warm and spicy recipe that is perfect for the cold fall season....


3-4 cinnamon, medium pieces
3-4 bay leaves
4-5 cloves
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, medium diced
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 medium carrots, medium diced 
3 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp extra hot chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp coconut 
1 1/4 tbsp roasted split dalia 
1 1/2 cups water
Salt, to taste


In a pan, heat oil, add the whole garam masala (cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves) and add onions. Sauté until slightly brown. Add tomato and fry until it becomes pulpy.

Add the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala powder and coriander powder. Sauté for few minutes until the raw smell fades away. Now, add the vegetables (potatoes, peas and carrots), salt and water. Mix well and cook until the vegetables are almost done.  

Make a paste of the coconut and roasted dalia with little water. Add this paste to the kurma and allow it to boil for 4-5 minutes. If you want the gravy a little liquidy, add more water when boiling. Add the chopped cilantro and mix well. Serve hot with parathas or rotis.

Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oats Kheer

Getting back to blogging is always fun and exciting especially after a long gap like mine. Normally, I don't have a sweet tooth but I guess my hormones have gone out of whack and have me craving for sweet treats every now and then. Recently, I was thinking of trying out some sweet dish with grains and the first one I could think of was...Oats!!! I have used oats in savory dishes and as a topping for apple crumble and other such recipes. The simplest sweet dish I could think of was Oats kheer/ payasam. The kheer turned out to be tasty and was an instant hit. So, here's a quick, healthy and tasty recipe for your sweet tooth....


3/4 cup quick cooking oats 
3 cups almond milk (unsweetened, original flavor)
1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
Few strands of saffron
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
10-12 cashews, cut in halves
10-12 almonds, slivered 
10-12 golden raisins (optional)
Pinch of salt


In a pan, on medium heat, dry roast the quick cooking oats for 4-5 mins until you get an aroma from it. Set aside. Also, dry roast the cashews until golden brown (you can add some vegan butter like earth balance to roast them) and keep aside.

In a deep pan, add the almond milk (personally, I like Almond Breeze) and saffron and bring it to a boil. Add the sugar and stir well and let it boil  for 3-4 mins. Now add the roasted oats, cashews and raisins and allow it to  boil for 5-7 mins, stirring occasionally. Add a pinch of salt (it brings out the sweetness in any sweet dish making it taste even better), cardamom powder and few slivered almonds and mix well. Turn off the heat and serve warm or chilled.

Most of you might know that oats tends to thicken as it cools down. If you want it a little thinner, you can either increase the quantity of milk to 4 -4 1/2 cups when boiling or add 1/2 -3/4 cup almond milk and mix well before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Back to blogging!!!

It has been over a year since I last blogged. In the past year, things have been crazy with my trip to India and catching up on work. Gosh, I even missed my blog's 2nd birthday!!  Although, I missed blogging, it has been an exciting year with the arrival of our little princess!!! Ever since I got pregnant, I didn't really have any weird cravings nor was I desperate to eat something specific and so my motivation to cook slowed down quiet a bit... I would like to blame it on my pregnancy hormones but the truth is - sheer laziness!!! Close to delivery, I had family members pampering me, so I had to stay away from the kitchen for a while...not something that I normally like to do.  Anyway, after delivery, life (or should I say my little angel) threw a curve ball at me. I found out that my baby has milk protein allergy when she was about 2 1/2 weeks old which meant absolutely no dairy products for me until I kept nursing her. I must say it was quite a challenge to eliminate dairy me crazy but I love my occasional cheesy bites and a cup of hot tea with milk everyday. 

Every now and then, when I used to go on vegan diets, I always thought that its hard to eat some foods because vegan versions may not exist....but I was wrong. With these sudden lifestyle changes and 4 months into it, I don't miss dairy even a wee bit. Little did I know that Almond or Soy ice cream, tofu cream cheese or tofu sour cream would taste so good that it almost mimicked the original!! For cheese substitutes, I love using nutritional yeast. I am yet to give Soy cheese a try....but no more cravings for cheese :) Although, it is known that too much soy consumption is not good for health, its best to try and strike a balance by using other ingredients to get your intake of calcium and proteins. In the past few months, almond milk has become my new best friend. Nowadays, I am so used to my daily cup of masala chai with almond milk that I am pretty much hooked. I can't believe I am saying this but the truth is I am enjoying the vegan lifestyle and might just end up staying this way.

I have come a long way with my food journey. I began my childhood as a non-vegetarian (gave up eating meat at the age of 11) but having witnessed an animal being sacrificed during a festival (especially, for the first time) changed everything. It struck me so hard that I was being inhuman towards only regret, I wish I had realized it much sooner. Being a lacto vegetarian (although I am guilty of having cooked egg and meat dishes for my hubby every once in a while, I have tried changing him, but he just doesn't get it!!), the transformation from vegetarian to vegan has been interesting in its own way. It has helped me explore new ingredients, some alternate substitutes and a whole bunch of cooking recipes that have been tried and some fresh recipes cooking up in my mind. Yup, you probably know by now....vegan dishes will be cooking up in my kitchen for a while...