Spicy Sprouts Vegetarian Fajitas

He doesn’t get the difference between a burrito and a fajita.
‘Why have different names, when they have essentially the same stuff in it’….. I don’t have any witty piquant rhetoric for it. So I try to elucidate the serving styles which are remarkably different. Also the analogy that we have million names for chappathis which are made in slightly varied way doesn’t convince him either.

Spicy Mexican Fajitas - Vegetarian!

Spicy Mexican Fajitas – Vegetarian!

I go back to assembling my warm fajitas. I know before making them they would be appreciated because … I know the kind he likes 🙂

He absolutely loves Guacamole, then top with some sour cream and a bit of more lime and I know for sure, the lunch is good. But its the stuffing that I am weary about. To substitute the meat, I sauté mixed sprouts with some julienne veggies. Ah.. this was going experimental. I add another succulent sweet sour salsa to top – the mango salsa. What am I doing??….I am combining disparate flavours and hoping for it to be devoured like never before. Sigh! Wishful thinking this.

Guacamole and Mango Salsa by the side

Guacamole and Mango Salsa by the side

SPICY SPROUTS VEGETABLE MIX

Ideally beans/rajma is used in the vegetarian version of Tex Mex cuisine. But I had a bowl of sprouts to finish before they went bad. Bored of its presence in salads and currys, the family ostracized these protein rich germinated grains. But when you throw them in a wok full of thinly sliced veggies, and season with herbs they are so delicious, you forget that you hated them a while back.

My meat substitute!

My meat substitute!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup julienne vegetables, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, corn etc
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 green chillies, minced – optional
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Method

Heat oil in a wok, stir fry garlic, green chilies and onions till they turn translucent. Throw in the other veggies, along with salt and pepper. Cover and cook till almost done. At this stage, add the parboiled sprouts along with oregano and chopped cilantro leaves. Mix well. Keep aside.

SOUR CREAM

Another surprise that day was the sour cream. I made a faux one with yoghurt – its fat free and healthier! Tis so easy peasy, that I find myself making it every other day now.

Sour Cream substitute, made with yoghurt

Sour Cream substitute, made with yoghurt

In a cup of hung curd, add juice of half a lime, crushed garlic, bit of pepper powder and salt. Mix in a tbsp of cream. Churn or mix well for a creamy consistency – Thats it!!

ASSEMBLING THE FAJITA

To assemble 4 fajitas:

Ingredients

  • 4 flour tortillas, I used whole wheat. You can use flour or corn, anything you like.
  • 8 tbsp sprout veggie mix
  • 4 tbsp guacamole
  • 4 tbsp mango-salsa
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • sprinkle of taco seasoning on each fajita
Assembling the Fajita

Assembling the Fajita

Method

Warm each tortilla, place 2 table spoons of the sprouts veggie mix, top with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Sprinkle taco seasoning. Serve immediately.

Warm tortillas

Warm tortillas

Note: Go experimental by replacing mango salsa with tomato or peach salsa.

Note: Replace the sprouts with beans or cheese or meat

Sweet, spicy and the tartness intact - all at the same time

Sweet, spicy, sour, tart – all at the same time

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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. 😉

Whole Wheat Oats Banana Honey Bread – Eggless, Sugarless, Butterless

Whole Wheat Oats Banana Honey Bread

Whole Wheat Oats Banana Honey Bread

Less is definitely more. Especially when it comes to this divine soft dense bread. Going sugar free and fat free along with skipping the eggs is no joke guys. Really. Skeptical from scratch, I still ventured ahead because the germ of the idea had firmly incorporated itself in my head.
Banana bread. Sounds so enticing, and when you make it literally fat free and supremely healthy who would want to wait and why? 🙂

So healthy

So healthy

If truth be told, I had never eaten banana bread before but had seen numerous recipes floating around. So when I came across this super healthy recipe with easily available ingredients I got all excited and eager. I sieved, mixed and baked. And then I waited. While the beauty rose, my house smelled warm and divine. I could hardly wait for it to cool down. To kill time, I put up teasers on my page on FB, chatted with friends, disturbed the husband and checked the clock repeatedly.

Finally when my knife sank into the well risen bread, well.. so did my heart. It was dense and slightly sticky. My face fell. The excitement evaporated. What did I make? Is it supposed to be like this? This thing has all the stuff which never goes into making bread – whole grain, oats, no sugar, no butter, no eggs… yea, it has all rights to be what it is. I was crest fallen.

When I took a teeny tiny piece for him to taste and give his highly valued verdict, all that he could gesture(he was on those never ending conf calls of his) was ‘ya nice, now go’. Sigh! With no bona fide feedback, I resigned to FB and friends. They did rescue me. Both FB food groups and my dear friends.

So what I learnt was that Banana bread is naturally dense and more moist than other cakes. Depending on the quantity of bananas used, the result could vary in stickiness(I hope that’s a word).
Oh Well. One pal of mine went a step ahead, smeared a slice with some tart marmalade and encouraged me to take a mouthful. I hesitated. But just one bite was enough to tell me, I didn’t have a recipe failure for sure 🙂 It tasted SO good with the fruit preserve, that I wondered why I was in any doubt in the first place.

Yumm with some nutella

Yumm with some nutella

gorgeous Crust

gorgeous Crust

This recipe has been adapted from here.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or atta
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup Oats
  • 1/3 cup Orange juice or sweet lime juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • A pinch of salt

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a bread pan and keep aside.

Take whole wheat flour, Oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips in a large bowl and mix well. In another bowl add mashed banana, oil, honey, cider vinegar, mosambi juice and combine well.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in it. Mix until just combined.
Pour the batter in the greased baking tin and bake for about 40 minutes or till done. Mine was done in 50 minutes. Once done. Cool well. Invert and slice thinly.

Serve with butter or jam or nutella.

Good with some butter

Good with some butter

Note: Sanjeeta of LiteBite.in encourages to use apple cider vinegar as it acts as a substitute to eggs and gives lightness to the bake. Apple cider variety has a lovely taste than the plain vinegar. If you want to skip it, then add yogurt instead.

Jam and Nutella - perfect on some bread

Jam and Nutella – perfect on some bread

For the next two days, my breakfast comprised of a slice of this delicious bread, some marmalade, a glass of warm milk and 5-6 almonds. The natural sweeteners in the cake took care of my day’s sweet cravings and I for one felt like some harbinger of good health and nutrition.

Sugarless, butterless and eggless

Sugarless, butterless and eggless

Roasted Euryale Fox Nuts or Makhanas

It takes wisdom to give life one’s best shot and then accept gracefully whatever fate or providence has in store, with total positive surrender.

– Fakir, by Ruzbeh N Bharucha.

The mantle of motherhood is phenomenal. Perennial worry, constant urge to give your child the best that you can give in education, living, character or simply food can be overwhelming. The kind that I am, I always doubt myself and my efforts. It’s never enough. It’s never good.

Roasted Fox nuts with salt, pepper and chili flakes

Roasted Fox nuts with salt, pepper and chili flakes

Before my child was born, I tried to learn everything from parenting books, classes and the mistakes of other mothers. And I thought I knew it all.
Yea, guessed it right. I fell flat on my face. Had them laughing at me for days to come.

Even before she could breathe in open air, her diet was decided. Loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, assorted nuts, whole grain, clarified butter, no chocolates, no sweets…. and in all this listing and scheming, forgot, the good Lord will bless the unborn with her very own palette and a mind of her own. I got a taste of my own doing once she was out

In a very short while, she spat out the ragi, flung the banana, nuts were strewn all over, spinach was given surly looks and I had myself at my wits end.

Store in an air tight jar

Store in an air tight jar

Boy! Does this great heavy cloak break your back. Or are they wings which uplift your soul and show you the grander picture? I’m still searching.
I unlearnt everything that I so smartly gathered from all the possible sources. Started from scratch. And still have such a long road ahead.

My daughter teaches me something new everyday.

One of the most prominent things she inculcated in me is patience and respect. Respect for her as an individual. Respect for her likes and dislikes. Respect for her own individuality. Respect for the fact that she is not me. Sigh!

So, she does not like carrots, I try not to fight her. The ‘mother’ that I am, I cheat:)
She hates nuts. I dry roast the walnuts and almonds and sprinkle salt-pepper and her highly savory palette laps it up. And when my mum eulogised the benefits of Euryale Fox Nuts or Daal-Makhane, I did not want to miss the chance of adding the calcium dense starchy white seed to my child’s diet. But of course, on her conditions.

Calcium rich.

Calcium rich.

I keep my highly twitchy fingers crossed and very lovingly offer her a couple of these dry roasted very healthy Euryale Fox nuts or Makhane. Although hesitatingly, she tosses one into her mouth, smiles and says “POP CORN”!
And this is how I win my battles.

Indian answer to the very famous Popcorn: Roasted Daal Makahne

Ingredients

  • 2 cups makhane,
  • 1 tsp ghee, or according to your taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder

Method

In a large wok, heat the clarified butter/ghee. Add turmeric and red chili powder, along with the makhane/fox nuts. On sim flame, roast the nuts for at least 10 minutes, mixing them once in a while.

Add salt and pepper. After 3-4 minutes, switch the flame off. Allow to cool. Transfer to an air tight jar.

The end result: Crunchy, crisp, salty savory snack/munchies.

A jar full of health

A jar full of health

My expectations from the child just because I was striving hard to give her the best of all that I could find was overbearing my little one. Just didn’t work.

I recoil. Give her some space. Give her individuality a chance. And slowly the cobwebs clear away.
Life is not a competition for me, or for her or for anyone. It is not about how intelligent or how smart or how rich or how famous you are.
It is about giving your best and leaving it to God.

Indian PopCorn

Indian PopCorn

Guacamole and a very colorful Mexican Sandwich

Guacamole and a very healthy - yummy sandwich!

Guacamole and a very healthy – yummy sandwich!

20 years back in India, we had never even heard of a fruit called Avocado, let alone benefit from its abundant natural nutrients. But the last 10 years have changed this scenario, pretty much. Cognizance of exotic fruits and veggies is now more evident and more adaptable. Avocados are now easily available in Indian markets and are here to stay.

The first thing that comes to mind with the mere mention of Avocado is the very famous super creamy dip/sauce ‘Guacamole’. The dish will stun you with its flavors and texture. Inanely simple to make, the hardest part that I found was to wait for an Avocado to ripen. It takes like forever for a fresh hard green Avocado to turn nice n fleshy from the inside and brown outside.

Holy Moly Guacamole

Holy Moly Guacamole

It’s a common misconception that Avocados are high in fat and calories. They are high in fat compared to many other fruits, but most of it is monosaturated fat and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of various groups where access to other fatty foods (high-fat meats and fish, dairy products, etc.) is limited. Meaning: EXCELLENT for vegetarians and vegans. Do you guys hear me?

Here are 5 surprising health benefits of this wonder fleshy fruit:

  • Avocados are packed with carotenoids: Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an antioxidant and helps protect against eye disease. They also contain the related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol (vitamin E).
  • Avocados help lower the cholestrol.
  • Avocados help stabilize blood sugar – they slow digestion and help the blood sugar from spiking after a meal
  • Avocados protect your heart and are great source of folate, hence excellent for pregnant mothers.
  • Avocados can help you lose weight!! – Yes.
Rich, Creamy and Nutrient Dense

Rich, Creamy and Nutrient Dense

Recipe:

To make 1 cup guacamole:

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe fleshy big avocado
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced or 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • salt to taste, 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder or cayenne pepper – optional: For the extra kick!

Method

Slice an avocado, remove the seed, spoon out the flesh into a bowl. Gently mash with the back of the spoon or a fork. I like it chunky, so I don’t overmash. But if you like yours smooth, then you could pound it well. Add lime juice, salt, green chili, garlic, onion and tomatoes. Mix well. If using cayenne or red chili powder, add it now. Mix well. Serve cold.

Lime Juice: is integral to the guacamole, if you want to retain the color. Mashed avocado tends to brown and age. But with lime juice, the color stays fresh and intact.

Serving Suggestions: When I make this heavenly rich sauce, the uses are myriad.

  • As a dip with tortilla chips or any chip or khakhras
  • Spread it on bread to make yummy sandwiches
  • Guacamole makes great quesadillas and wraps
  • as a sauce to coat your pasta, instead of a pesto or a marinara – makes one mean creamy rich yummy pasta!

So with the guacamole ready, we made these amazing Mexican sandwiches, replete with grilled veggies, paprika and cheese:

Whole wheat, Healthy and Tasty

Whole wheat, Healthy and Tasty

To make this divine sandwich:

Ingredients

  • 6 slices whole wheat bread
  • 4-5 tbsp guacamole
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup of mixed veggies, sliced lengthwise. I used broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrot and baby corn
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt to taste
  • 3 lettuce leaves
  • 3 tbsp grated cheese, I used slices.
  • Optional: 2-3 tbsp of mayonnaise, chili flakes and sliced green olives

Method

To make the veggie stir fry: In a wok, heat olive oil, saute garlic, onions. Once the onions are translucent, then add the thinly sliced veggies along with salt. The salt helps them cook faster. Stir fry on high, till almost done. Add oregano, pepper powder and chili flakes. Mix well. Keep aside.

The stir fried veggies

The stir fried veggies

Now for the assembly:

Take a slice of bread, place a lettuce leaf, dab generous amount of guacamole. Place the stir fried veggies on it. Sprinkle more chili flakes if desired. If using olives, add it now. cover with grated cheese or slice cheese. Take another slice of bread, either coat it with mayonnaise or guacamole. Place it facing down, by covering and completing the entire ensemble. Best would be to grill your sandwich using very little butter. I don’t have a griller, so I had mine as it is. Husband roasted it on a flat griddle, that tasted nice too. But grilling would be the most apt thing to do.

Thats it. Serve with tomato ketchup and any hot sauce.

Colorful Supper

Colorful Supper

Signing off on this note, here’s wishing dear friends and fellow Indians a very Happy Independence Day.

Paneer Corn Mushroom Cilantro Whole Wheat Pizza

Simple tastes yet a curious palette. Fond of familiar comfort food yet experimental with myriad cuisines. Happily digg in to something alien and innovative but satiated only with those last bites of conventional native usual viand. Sounds primitive?

Pizza with Indian Flavors - paneer, corn and cilantro

Pizza with Indian Flavors – paneer, corn and cilantro

I married a simple man. He likes dal rice and will be happy if a papad is added. The same guy never shies away trying something new and bold. He is experimental but his taste buds are immensely hard to please. If he doesn’t like something he will not mince his words to say so. He eats without creating a fuss partly because it is already made and he hates to waste food and partly because he loves me 😉 but later declares full throttle, that he will not eat that particular thing again.

He prefers familiar food. Something he has grown up with. Well, his case is not as severe as a friend of ours who even after having a full blown chinese meal wouldn’t be satisfied unless he had a small bowl of curd rice. 🙂

Yummy Slice

Yummy Slice

Just 2 posts back, I tried my hand at this wonderful 100% whole wheat pizza dough, which was a fabulous sunday lunch for all of us at home. A simple margherita with astounding results.

Happily gobbled in no time, husband craved for something closer to home…No basil-shasil, lots of garden fresh veggies and a whole lot of coriander/cilantro leaves to garnish. The guy is in love with coriander leaves from time immemorial. He likes it in everything (except desserts). Daal, sabzis, soup/stew, pav bhaji, bread, rice or in parathas!

He told me to hide the basil, and get the coriander leaves out. Along came the corn paneer and mushrooms with a wee bit of tandoori masala to tantalize his austere palette.

One for all

One for all

The Recipe:

To make 1 medium sized pizza:

Ingredients

  • 100 % whole wheat pizza dough
  • 2-3 tbsp pizza sauce or simple ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 4-5 tbsp grated paneer
  • 1 tbsp grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp tandoori masala
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh chopped coriander leaves to garnish
  • seasoning and red chili flakes – to serve with

Method

In a pan, heat oil. Saute onions. Once pinkish, add corn and chopped mushrooms along with a little bit of tandoori masala and salt. Takes hardly 3-4 minutes. Keep aside.

Roll out your dough into desired thickness on a pre oiled parchment paper. Spread the pizza sauce or ketch up on it. Spread the corn mushroom mix on it evenly. Top with grated paneer and little bit of cheese.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Bake at 200 degree celsius till the base slightly browns. Don’t wait for the paneer to brown, it won’t.
Once out of the oven. Sprinkle seasoning and chopped coriander leaves. Let is sit for 2-3 minutes – hardest to do. Then… Attack!

Right out of the oven

Right out of the oven

So, I chopped. He topped. We baked and then we devoured with such frenzy right on the kitchen top, that Milee definitely puts a check on the crazy parents box. The delightful bites with very Indian flavors won me over so much that I had to put this recipe up for you guys to try.

Healthy Indian flavored Pizza

Healthy Indian flavored Pizza

Milee did not care much for this mix mash of punjabi-italian slice. She was well fed with her simple margherita. But her amused, curious and ‘u guys are mad o wot’ look did seal the deal for a perfect end to a Sunday Brunch.

Bread Croutons – Garlic Flavored and Baked!

Garlic Herbed Bread Croutons

Garlic Herbed Bread Croutons

It’s inanely easy. Really, making baked croutons is no rocket science. Pleasantly surprised by the simplicity and the crunch of the little bites, has coerced me to make several batches ever since my first.

Crunchy crisp bites

Crunchy crisp bites

A french bread gives the best results, but leftover sandwich bread also would do. I had some whole wheat bread on my counter top waiting to be used. Just 5-6 slices is enough for a bottle full of croutons! They are great as add ons on soups/stews/salads or as it is.

Bottle Full of little bites

Bottle Full of little bites

First time I tried these, no special flavors were added. Plain crunchy beautifully toasted they were. But I’ve been experimental. Pounded garlic and mixed herbs add such drama to the flavors…. you will be in for a surprise!

Toasted to perfection

Toasted to perfection

Use whole wheat bread, top with a little olive oil, add any flavoring you like and BAKE! See. So simple. And not to forget, HEALTHY too. Try munching on them with your evening cup of tea. Delightful.

Cold Lettuce  + Fresh Veggies + Mayo + Mustard + Bread Croutons = Yummy Salad

Cold Lettuce + Fresh Veggies + Mayo + Mustard + Bread Croutons = Yummy Salad

When you want some body to your salad, cottage cheese or boiled peanuts or croutons are the keys to a filling satisfying meal. Top these crunchies on your soup or stew, and relish the carb with the slurrp.

Perfect Accompaniments

Perfect Accompaniments

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 6 slices of whole wheat bread or 1/2 a loaf of french bread, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed/pounded
  • 7-8 pepper corns, pounded
  • salt to taste

Method

Preheat your oven at 150C.
Mix the olive oil, crushed garlic, pepper powder and salt. Gently envelop the bread pieces with this oil. Spread the croutons on a baking sheet/parchment paper on a tray. Bake at 150-170C for 8-10 minutes, until they turn slightly brown and hard.

They can go from brown to black like in no time, so keep an open eye. Once done, cool and store in an air tight container. Use within 3-4 days.

Flavored with garlic and pepper

Flavored with garlic and pepper

Try different flavorings:

  • pepper and salt – plain simple
  • garlic and basil
  • garlic and pepper
  • garlic and parsley
  • mixed herbs
Bits of Baked Bread

Bits of Baked Bread

Milee’s Very Handy Tip:

Use these croutons as sides to a dip! She mixed cheese spread and green chutney, made a light green dip. Dunked these bites generously into the beautiful hued spread and relished every bit. Kids! They come up with the best ideas.

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

I remember posting a recipe for pumpkin soup earlier. But this one is different. So cliched you would say. No, really. It’s different. A Thai version spiced with red curry paste and laced with coconut milk, gives the soup a spicy yet cooling effect. Cryptic? No, its simple. Red paste to heaten and coconut to cool.. getting both flavors without much harm done. So simple. And well so is the recipe.

Garnished with a little cream

Garnished with a little cream

Soups and stews are antagonistic to desserts where photography is concerned. To bribe anyone with pictures of soup is a mammoth task. I attempted various ways and I stumbled all the times. Soups make dreadful shots. I have no conniving methods(Read: Awesome clicks:) ) to garner attention to this post of mine.

I haven’t posted many yummy eats of mine just because I was not happy with the pictures. But perfecting shots is no piece of cake. And many a recipes were deleted in lure of those beautiful clicks. I was going to take a long time to improve, but that doesn’t mean, I should deprive you lovely people of fantastic simple procedures that I chanced upon. So, here I am.

Now, don’t mind the pictures, enjoy the rains with this spicy tangy yummy soup.

For rainy evenings....

For rainy evenings….

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped pumpkin
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic pods, minced or you could use 2 straws of fresh green garlic
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste – or as you like it
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp flour or powdered oats
  • salt to taste
  • Oil or butter – just a blob
  • Basil leaves to garnish – optional
Pumpkin, Red Curry and Spicy soup

Pumpkin, Red Curry and Spicy soup

Method

In a deep pan or pressure cooker, heat oil/butter. Saute the garlic and onions till pink. Mix in the red curry paste now. Throw in the pumpkin, tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Cook till done. Once it’s cooked, run a blender through the mix. If you like, you could strain the concoction or use it as it is. Now, mix a tsp of flour or oats to the coconut milk. Stir it in the pureed mix. Give it a good boil or two. If its runny, add more coconut-flour mix and if its thick, stir in some water or plain milk. Season with salt and garnish with chopped basil.

We have the spice from the red paste, a mild sweetness from the coconut milk and tang from the tomatoes. So many flavors!!

Slurrrp it away with toasted bread.

Hint of coconut to beat the heat of red curry paste

Hint of coconut to beat the heat of red curry paste

Carrot Beans Stir fry Salad / Poriyal

Carrot beans poriyal

Carrot beans poriyal

Simple vegetable stir fry seasoned with chana dal and mustard seeds flavored with coconut and coriander is PORIYAL in Tamil. Poriyals can be made with any vegetable of your choice. It is inanely simple to prepare and delicious with hot soft white rice(SIN!!).

Settled in Mumbai for the past 5 years has not diminished my love for South Indian food. Infact, since I am not in Bangalore anymore where ever increasing in number Darshinis(self service South Indian restaurants) serve awesome authentic Karnataka/Tamil food, I try to make as much of it at home.

Almost a salad!

Almost a salad!

These simple poriyals have fresh diced veggies in minimal spices and oil with just a wee bit of tempering. SO, its almost a salad. Most of the time you will find yourself eating it all by itself sans the sinful rice. Along with a big bowl of lentil soup(Daal), it accomplishes to make a complete meal for those weight watchers.

Great alternative to those chewy boring salads.

Great alternative to those chewy boring salads.

A list of different vegetables that can make a yummy poriyal awaits for you at the end. But for now, its the recipe in queue:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped french beans
  • 1 spoon oil
  • 2 tbsp channa dal, split bengal gram
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 pinches asafetida
  • 3-4 curry leaves, torn
  • 2 green chilies, slit lenghtwise – use accordingly
  • 1 tiny piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp grated fresh coconut – reduce the quantity if you don’t like the taste
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves to garnish

Method

In a pan, heat oil. Roast channa dal on medium heat till light brown. Splutter mustard seeds at this stage. Sprinkle asafetida. Next goes in the curry leaves, green chilies and ginger and the diced veggies. Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder. Cover and cook till almost done. I like some bite to the veggies, so I leave it at 3/4 th done. But I personally know many who like their vegetables fully cooked. So, your call.

Once done, sprinkle coconut, lime juice and coriander. Mix well. Turn the flame off.
Serve with hot rice or chappathis or enjoy them on their own.
This is one dish that need not be reheated. It tastes yumm even when cold( and I don’t mean, straight out from the fridge).

Orange and Green... reminds me of our Indian Flag.

Orange and Green… reminds me of our Indian Flag.

Note:
If you want your veggies to reflect the natural bright color, don’t cover and cook. Let the veggies be done without the lid and stir frying in between so as not to burn the contents.
Chances are your mom would scold you for doing this. The nutrients vanish in thin air .. literally, but when we lidd the contents, the goodness doesnt go away. So they say.

But, what I do is: When Im having guests over, and if this is on the menu, I let the colors shine, as presentation and colors should appeal to my guests. But when I make it regularly at home, I retain the goodness.
PS: For the pictures that you see… you know what I did..;)

I like some crunch!

I like some crunch!

Vegetables that you can use:
1. Single vegetable can be made from using only carrot/beans/beetroot/cabbage/bottle gourd/potato/radishes/pumpkin
2. Combination of two – carrot-beans / carrot-beets / carrot-cabbage / beans- potato / beans cabbage
3. Boiled chickpeas can be used, and the dish is called “Sundal”, for this you skip the fried bengal gram.
4. Boiled peanuts made into a poriyal make a very tasty and healthy snack.

If you know of any more combinations, do drop me a line.

Regular fare in any South Indian Home

Regular fare in any South Indian Home

Raw Mango Drink / Aam Panna

Refreshing, cool, lip smackingly delicious and to top it all – nutritious with heat resisting properties… woah!! Yea, this is Aam Panna for you. A raw mango drink incensed with cumin seeds, fresh mint and black salt.

I love black salt. The husband got home a packet of organic black salt, which is coarser and granier than the usual. The taste so raw, fresh and extreme and the color not exactly black, but a deep pinkish purple hue. With cooling properties, it aids in digestion and used as a laxative too.

Aam Panna

Aam Panna

My little girl likes anything sour-lemony. Not one with a sweet tooth, she loves lime juice and loads of “chat masala” on her fruits and salads. My teeth turn sour when I watch her bite nonchalantly into a huge green gooseberry. And raw mango sprinkled with salt and red chili powder is her absolute favorite! Whatever happened to candies, chocolates, ice creams and cakes! The brat’s palette recognizes salt, sour, bitter and pungent but sweet is spat out as if it was unbearable to her tongue. So weird.

Heat resistant properties.

Heat resistant properties.

So, you can imagine, how much she would relish a cool tall glass of this tangy raw mango juice. The spices are smacked and the juice gulped in no time. And I’m not complaining, infact, pleased as a punch, to see the good down her. Sigh! if only milk would be consumed so readily. “Make it taste like panna”, the little monkey says. How I wish I could.

Highly Nutritious

Highly Nutritious

Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 small raw mangoes, I peel them and then boil.
  • 6-7 spoons of sugar or according to your taste
  • a small piece of ginger
  • 2-3 tbsp of chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seed powder
  • black salt to taste

Method

Boil the raw mangoes in little water. I used a pressure cooker, for which, 2-3 whistles are enough for the mangoes to boil well and nice.
Remove the seed, pulp the boiled flesh. Add all the other ingredients, saving some chopped mint leaves for garnishing. Churn well in a mixer or use a hand blender.
I added 2 glasses of water and churned again. This is aam panna ready to be served once refrigerated. But what many people do, like my mom – they refrigerate a thick pureed juice with all spices and sugar, and add water accordingly at serving time. So, its really your call. But the drink needs to be chilled. There’s no fun in a tangy, flavorful but warm drink.

So chill it up before taking the gulp 🙂

A hint of ginger and a dash of cumin

A hint of ginger and a dash of cumin

Hot unbearable summers in India makes it almost mandatory to drink this cooler everyday. The panna prevents heat strokes, heat induced headaches, dehydration and an amazing curative for blood disorders.

Hence dear friends and foodies,
churn it up in the name of health and goodies…Er.. I love to rhyme, hey it’s no crime… What?? I’m wasting your time!?
You know I could answer that and go on, but I love my readers way too much to put them through my pathetic poetry.
So, on that note.
Have a beautiful day!

Namrata

Best way to beat the heat.

Best way to beat the heat.