Kadai Vegetable, Restaurant Style

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

Location: A simple Indian home in the 90’s housing a calm, tolerant and mostly busy mother, a loving, indulgent father who never entered the kitchen or helped in any of the housework and three feisty spirited young girls with mind and tongues of their own.
Act 1: Pre Lunch preparation for some random guest.
Scene 1: Girls fighting for the sole spare burner in the hot messy kitchen of this noisy raucous house.

She: I need that kadai, you always try to take things that I need. Give it back, right now.
Me: I took it first, so I get to make my dish first.
She: You are so mean, the moment I said I want to make my curry now, you jump in with this crap. So Wicked!! Me(proving her point, with a wicked grin): Yes!! Need to be.. with irritating sisters like you!!

. . . More rumbling grumbling, a tug here and a pull there and finally mother’s discordant yell settles it. She wins. I get to use the burner when she is done. And I knew very well.. she will take her own sweet time to make that horrid spicy vegetable melange, the recipe of which she refuses to part with.

I seethed and fumed. Threw a fit and a fuss. Refused to do my bit and walked out sullenly to the comforts of my room. Blocking my ears with earphones and all that unbearable noise and camaraderie of sister-mother, I impatiently wait to be called by mother. Now this was routine.

Sisters, with not many years parting them, fight like cats and dogs. And whats also routine is, the dismissed child expecting to be appeased by the decisive parent. So, I waited.

Till mother comes to assuage, let me fill you in the workings of this mad house. We are three girls, young, noisy, controlling, fighting yet extremely loyal and always in support when we have to tackle the big bad world outside. And when we entertained we always helped. Helped in tidying up the house, though it was given to the youngest one – who didn’t have a choice but listen to two ruling prevailing sisters. Helped in the kitchen… gladly choosing our signature dishes( which by the way never changed) to cook and present to our esteemed guests 🙂

So mother makes what she usually makes best and that which requires massive effort and experience. I keep experimenting and trying something new every time and she, she cooks one curry, every time – for the next 5 years 😉 Though, to be fair, that spicy masaledaar Vegetable curry had many takers and much appreciation, made me so resentful and envious that I would refuse to put a morsel of it in my mouth. Sigh! How immature you would say. Yes, I do agree. But we were teens waiting to be appreciated and admired at the drop of a hat. Well! no amount of slickness from me could get hold of the highly guarded formula either.

Complete Meal

Complete Meal

Well, several acts and scenes later, and of course not to forget, age, marriage and kids later, we behave like how sisters ought to behave 🙂 Like real ladies.
Bridges shortened, holes mended and love reignited, we now switch ideas in managing work, house and kids, not to forget over-grown babies called husbands. And of course we swap recipes 🙂

And for that spicy masaaledar vegetable kadai, which I so vehemently dismissed as Horrid!! In truth, every bite was relished albeit far from the sisters prying eyes. So when I made it a point to feature on my blog and asked for the recipe, It was no surprise that a wonderful detailed mail waited for me, along with exhortative suggestions to do some mean photography with her prized signature dish!

Restaurant style gravy

Restaurant style gravy

Kadai Vegetable is a fiery mix of of vegetables simmered in a thick delicious gravy. Ideally the entire dish is made in an hard iron thick bottomed kadai or a wok, hence the typical name.

Easy alternative to paneer

Easy alternative to paneer

The recipe:

Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups diced vegetables ( par boiled) – I used carrot, beans, potatoes, cauliflower and peas
    • 1 capsicum, diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 1 chopped tomato
    • 1/4 cup diced paneer – optional
    • 2-3 tbsp of cream – if need arises
    • ginger julienne and coriander leaves to garnish
    • Dry masala : 1-11/2 tsp red chilli powder 1 tsp coriander or dhania powder 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera powder 1/2 tsp garam masala 1/4 tsp turmeric or haldi powder 1/4 tsp pepper powder 1/2 tsp saunf or fennel seeds 2 tsp of khus khus or poppy seeds 6-7 cashewnuts
    • Wet masala: 1 handful of coriander leaves 1 tsp ginger garlic paste 3 tbsp curds 2 tbsp of cream 1/4 tsp sugar
Thats pretty much all you need.

Thats pretty much all you need.

Method

      In a wok or kadai, dry roast all the dry ingredients for a couple of minutes till they become fragrant. Remove and keep aside to cool. Grind the wet ingredients and keep aside. Once the dry ingredients are cooled, grind to a fine powder. In the kadai, heat a tbsp of oil, and shallow fry onions and capsicum. Remove and keep aside. In the same wok, throw in the dry masala and roast for less than a minute. Add wet ingredients and sauté till oil leaves sides. Add chopped tomato and sauté for a couple of minutes. Finally add cooked vegetables, onion, capsicum and paneer. Give it a nice boil. Flavour with salt. If the gravy is thick or spicy, add milk or cream accordingly. Garnish with coriander leaves chopped and thinly sliced ginger. Serve with hot chappathis, rotis, naan, rice or bread.
Julienne ginger and green chili garnish - typically North Indian

Julienne ginger and green chili garnish – typically North Indian

Note:
You can add any vegetable of your choice, although gourds don’t really taste in this kind of gravy.

Note:
A bit of paneer or cottage cheese makes this dish richer.

Note:
Alter the spices according to your level of heat

Note:
We always had a bowl of yoghurt with this kind of lunch, it helps beat the heat!!

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

I soon realise the recipe is pretty simple and not at all time consuming. So when I wondered aloud to her as to why would she ever take so long in prepping this simple dish, her smug replies leave me wanting to bite her head off!!! Sisters I tell you.. wicked bunch they are!

Taking sister’s signature dish to lovely Angie’s weekly visual potluck – Friday Feista, #63. Peek in to see some great delicacies.  Hope they like it!

Vegetarian Curry Laksa

Curry Laksa - veganised!

Curry Laksa – veganised!

The craving was irrepressible.
But with the man travelling and child snubbing this divine curry noodles, I stalled the idea of dishing it up just for me. But then, it arose again… that insatiable appetite for one heavenly bowl of noodles, veggies, broth, herbs and tofu. I had to make it. Just had to.

Soul Food!

Soul Food!

Curry Laksa is a Chinese inspired Malay spicy noodle soup. Originally made the non vegetarian way with a lot of chicken or fish or shrimp. It is basically coconut based curry spiced with oriental flavours like turmeric, soy and chilies, thick or thin noodles and garnished with laksa leaves or curry leaves. Indians will totally relate to the flavours and taste, because many of the ingredients used in this are regularly used in Indian cooking too.

 Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Ideally thick Hokkien egg noodles are preferred to dunk in a spicy vegetable laden stew, but if you cannot get your hands on some, use the regular variety. I used traditional thin hakka noodles. Some recipes call for thin rice vermicelli too.
Bottomline – It’s the curry that calls, the carb can be of any kind 😉

Spicy Earthy noodles

Spicy Earthy noodles

There are many different types of laksa, but what is common to all is the broth, spice paste and noodles. The most well known varieties of laksa are the slightly sour fish soup based Assam Laksa and the Curry Laksa which has coconut milk.

Curry Laksa is a meal in itself. You don’t need any accompaniments with it. Lot of vegetables, noodles and a protein like tofu or paneer and you are so good to go! The vegetables can be anything you like, anything your refrigerator caters. So don’t go hunting for the specifics. I just pretty much threw in whatever I had.

An interesting twist to this dish was to top with sautéed mushrooms and red onions. Dust it off with sesame seeds and it was the most heavenly first bite I have had in a very long time 🙂

Soupy Slurrpyy

Soupy Slurrpyy

The Recipe –

Ingredients

  • 1 pack hokkein egg noodles, boiled as per instructions on the pack.
  • 1 cup thin sliced vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, beans etc
  • 3-4 tbsp red curry paste or as per your liking
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • a handful of curry leaves or if you can find laksa leaves
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder

Garnish: 5/6 basil leaves, few stalks of coriander leaves, 1/2 cup fried tofu or sautéed paneer pieces, 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms and red onions. 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds, Lime wedges.

Method

In a wok, heat oil. Fry the red curry paste till the raw smells disappears. Now throw in the veggies, add a bit of salt. Cover and cook till almost done.
Add soy, turmeric, salt pepper, sugar. give a mix. Stir in the coconut milk. Once it has boiled. Stir in the vegetable stock. Simmer for 2/3 minutes or so. Throw in the curry leaves and lemon grass stalks Cover and boil for 5 minutes.

Delicious comfort food

Delicious comfort food

How to Serve:

Remove the lemon grass stalks from the broth before serving.

Take a deep bowl. Place a forkful or two of noodles. Pour the vegetable-coconut broth. Top with some sautéed mushrooms and onions, some fried tofu or paneer. A sprinkle of sesame seeds. A drizzle of lime juice. Torn basil and coriander leaves to garnish.
Serve.

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

Note: For sautéing the mushrooms, onions and tofu. I sliced them thinly, gently sautéed in a bit of oil. Sprinkled salt and pepper powder. Hardly takes 5 minutes.

Note: Laksa is usually soupy and the noodles float in a water like broth. Now to make the soup, vegetable stock is preferred rather than plain water. Since I did not have any, I made a thick vegetable stew in coconut milk. It tasted more intense and enveloped my noodles well in a spicy tangy gravy.

all season food, this is.

all season food, this is.

The above is a not a perfect authentic recipe. I changed and customised it according to our likes and the ingredients available. So this recipe might just serve as a rough inspiration to cook the dish. So feel free to play around!

Happy Cooking dear readers 🙂

Mixed Sprouts Curry

Mixed Sprouts Sabzi/Vegetable

Mixed Sprouts Sabzi/Vegetable

We joined the race. Long back though. But in order to revive the spirit of the so-called rat race I plunged again into a foray of ‘healthy food’. So I make greens one day, sprouts the next. Give porridge for dinner to sulky faces and sell squash soup as ‘the tastiest’ thing on earth. Yes, God gave them all a good mind of their own. Who am I trying to fool? sigh! I think I am just convincing myself that if I cook healthy, my family would be far from disease, pain and suffering. Ah, well.

So in those times when I go manic with my cooking, the family sorts out the yummy from the yucky. Some of the healthier stuff actually does taste good (please ask Elaine of foodbod.. she eats healthy ALL the time! I envy you Elaine 🙂 ), like this sprouts curry I made the other day.

Sprouted and ready

Sprouted and ready

I mostly always mix all my beans/lentils to sprout. Its never only mung beans or only dew beans. A handful of mung, some dew beans(mat/moth), throw in some small black chick pea, a bit of dried white peas or anything you like! Soak overnight. Drain the water. Tie them all in a muslin cloth, sprinkle water over the tied cloth basket. Keep it for a day or two and let them germinate!

Mixed Sprouts

Mixed Sprouts

You can have them raw or cooked. I go the mid way usually. Cooking them a little bit till the raw smell and taste disappears but retaining the crunch. If you want to know more about sprouts, read here.

With Chappathis, pickle and salad

With Chappathis, pickle and salad

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mixed sprouts
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a piece of ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chopped green chilies – optional
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder or as desired
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • juice of 1/2 a lime, salt to taste
  • coriander leaves to garnish

Method

In a wok/kadai, heat oil. Splutter cumin seeds. Throw in the garlic, onions, ginger and green chilies. Saute till the onions turn translucent. Now add the tomatoes along with all the said spices. cover and cook till the oil starts to leave the sides of the wok. This may take about 10 minutes or so. Now add the sprouted lentils. sprinkle 2-3 tsp of water. Cover and cook till the sprouts are half done. I like mine not very mushy, so I add the sprouts in the end, but you could add it earlier in case you like them fully cooked.

Switch the flame off. Sprinkle lime juice and garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve as a salad or with chappathis or with any pulao or simple plain hot steaming rice.

Simple Nutritious lunch

Simple Nutritious lunch

Now for a note of caution:
Germinated raw food does not usually suit everyone. People suffering from gastric problems can get very uncomfortable after a small bowl of sprouts. Cooking the beans is easier to digest.

I suffer from migraine, and whenever I eat sprouts for dinner or raw, I end up with a splitting headache. Whereas, cooking the grains, having them during the day and combining them with garlic and ginger helps me get the best of everything that they have to offer 🙂

Try a bite

Try a bite

This curry passed the acid test with my family’s taste buds. You try it too and if they don’t like it… well, I have some other recipes up my sleeve to include these wonder beans in your daily diet. 😉

Lentil Nugget Peas Curry/ Mangodi Matar

Summers Now: Lots of Frozen Yoghurt, Lemonade, Swimming Camps, Crash Courses for kids, Playdates and Exotic Holidays.

Summers Then: Relentless play under the sun, Nimbupaani, matka kulfis from kulfiwalas, Nani house and Mom making pickles, stocking spices for the entire year and drying mangodis.

Mangodi Matar

Mangodi Matar

Mangodis/Mung Wadiyan, are nothing but sun dried mung lentil nuggets. They are usually made in the summers when ample sunshine dries them perfectly to store for an entire year.

In my house, a day was pre-decided and fixed to make these nuggets. Work started early, with soaking, grinding and then dropping them on to clean plastic sheets(spread on the terrace for maximum sun). I particularly remember the task mom gave us. To find 4 stoppers, like a brick or a stool/table or some unused broken box – to place on the corners of the plastic spread, to prevent it from flying away. Now why didn’t mom use thalis/plates? Well, at that time, they made huge batches to stock for a year catering to at least 12 or more people. Thats why, plastic sheets worked better than thalis.

Yearly stock of mangodis

Yearly stock of mangodis

It is actually very easy to make these, but I’ve never attempted it.

Simply because, my yearly supply comes from both sides – mother and mother in law. Hence never found the need really. If you ever want to attempt making these nuggets, I did find a very resourceful link here.

Usually these nuggets are mixed with some fresh vegetable like potatoes or peas or corn. You can make them plain too, but combine it with a veggie and you are in for a treat.

Simple Curry, takes less than 10 minutes to make this.

Simple Curry, takes less than 10 minutes to make this.

I made a simple no onion, no garlic mangodi-matar. It’s so quick, that I put that wok on fire just 10 minutes before we sat for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mangodi
  • 1 cup fresh peas, you can use frozen too.
  • 1 tsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • a pinch of hing/asafetida
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder, salt to taste
  • lots of fresh coriander to garnish

Method

First, heat an empty thick bottomed pan, dry roast the mangodis, till they are slightly brown. I usually do it on an iron tawa/flat griddle(used for making rotis). Keep turning the nuggets else they will not brown uniformly. Once done, keep aside.

In a deep pan, heat ghee. Once hot, splutter cumin seeds, add hing/asafoetida. Throw in the peas, along with salt, turmeric, red chili powder and little water. Once the peas are almost done, add 2 cups of boiling water( I have a kettle, so it works faster for me). Add the mangodis, give it a mix, and let it boil for another 4-5 minutes. The lentil nuggets absorb water and swell up. Making sure it is not completely dry, you can switch the flame off.

Garnish with coriander leaves. Best when served hot with phulkas/puffed chappathis.

No onions, no garlic

No onions, no garlic

It is advisable not to mix too much with your ladle once the mangodis are inside. The nuggets tend to break and mash. We don’t want that. The curry should show the mangodis in their distinct shape, as my mom says.

yummy Bite

yummy Bite

This is a perfect recipe for days when you want to cook without onions and garlic or when you’re just too lazy to make something fancy. With hardly any chopping required, mangodi matar proves to be scrumptious and filling.

Red Curry Paste

Hot, Screaming Red chili wonder

Hot, Screaming Red chili wonder

An Indiansed version, made with easily available components.

Ingredients

  • 10 red chilles , soaked in warm water for few minutes and drained
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger, instead of thai galangal
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • few stalks of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds powder
  • 1/2 tsp white peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method

Grind all the ingredients to a paste in a mixer jar using very little water. Store in an airtight container (for up to 1 month). Alternatively, freeze for up to 3 months.

Use as required.

Recipe Courtesy: Tarla Dalal

Note: Lemon grass is called “hare chai ki patti” in Hindi. Your local bhaajiwala or the herb aisle of supermarkets, will have this highly aromatic green.

Note: To get a brighter hue, use “kashmiri” red chilies. They impart a beautiful color and are not very spicy.

Hot. Hot. Hot.

Hot. Hot. Hot.