Aloo Methi

Simple rustic Aloo methi served with rice and salad

Simple rustic Aloo methi served with rice and salad

There are some memories which never fade and some which just evanesce into oblivion. But smell can be a powerful memory trigger. Smell so rustic and comforting that deep buried images stand bare and bigger, usually leaving you distraught. You will be tormented and distressed till you put all those cognizant images back to where they belong.

Now before you speculate extraneous theories, let me clarify. The smell that invoked such strong visuals of my past, was nothing more than potatoes and fenugreek being sautéed on a particularly hot humid day. It wafted from somewhere above. Where, who, when and how … I did bother, but soon all that dissipated when flashbacks of the mother’s kitchen loomed up at me. Someone was making food just like my mothers – this thought was eerily comforting.
I mean, how weird, I tell myself. Whats there to get excited to smell food like what your mother cooked for you. But I was.

Fenugreek has medicinal properties.

Fenugreek has medicinal properties.

Aloo methi. Something so traditional and homey and simple….now why am I making a post for this? I am making this for all those young people out there who suddenly-mindlessly crave for food that they have grown up with. That cozy feeling – that you get out of familiarity.
And for documentation purposes too 😉
15 years down the line, I doubt if the daughter will ever call and ask for a recipe. She most probably will scan her favourite sites and lastly come to her mums where she will read this and nod and say yes, I miss my mother’s cooking too. And now I’m just being too hopeful! Am I not??! Never mind.

What all you need -

What all you need –

Just potatoes and fresh fenugreek leaves sautéed in some powerful mustard oil, with a bit of all Indian spices, and look how I am dancing with my words! Well, the above picture shows you all that you need to make this wonderful side to your everyday bread or rice.

That essential piece of lime!

That essential piece of lime!

There are plenty of variations for this vegetable side or sabzi as we call it. Mother used mustard oil, and no onions or garlic or any other paraphernalia for this dish. She kept it simple and it worked fabulously. A drizzle of lime and some fresh salad is all that you need to make your day.

Made my day :)

Made my day 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 cups par boiled potatoes, diced into medium sized chunks
  • 2 cups of fenugreek leaves, picked, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 1 big whole red chilli
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil or any other oil would also do.
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chill powder or as desired
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and mustard seeds mixed
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder – I don’t skip this!
  • salt to taste.
  • Lime wedges to serve with

Method

In a large skillet or pan, drop a tsp of oil. Gently roast the potatoes till it gets a golden coating all over it. Regular tossing and turning help. Once done, remove from the pan and keep aside.

In the same skillet, heat rest of the oil. Crackle cumin and mustard seeds. Add asafoetida and whole dried red chili. Fry chopped fenugreek leaves and green chilies till they wilt. Now add potatoes, along with all the masalas and salt. Saute for another minute or so.

Serve with chappathis or rice or any bread.

No onion, no garlic. So easy peasy!

No onion, no garlic. So easy peasy!

Note: if desired, 2 tsp chopped garlic can be added before adding the fenugreek leaves.

you will not regret making this :)

you will not regret making this 🙂

Like someone rightly said We live on the leash of our senses. Taking this wonderful aromatic side to pair with Angie’s gorgeous phulkas, for her 41st Friday Fiesta. come take a look, she make these chappathis and every single one puffs up! P
Happy Cooking dear foodies!

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Tawa Sabzi / Pan Roasted Stuffed Vegetables

The options were innumerable. Endless counters of almost every cuisine dotted the lush green lawn under a starry clear chilly night. A big fat Indian wedding settles for no less. Star restaurants and myriad masterchefs cater and treat you like royalty, kids usually go berserk in places like these.
Their dilemma ranges from picking a variety of chocolate fountains to fresh hot clay oven pizza to live pasta counters to dozens of steaming hot dimsums….

So when she pointed to a certain stall, I was surprised. I asked again if that was what she wanted. A humongous, thick red hot iron griddle hosted a variety of luscious mean looking vegetables on it. The man behind the griddle kept an active hand in tossing turning and serving the spice coated stuffed veggies. Okras, baby brinjals, potatoes, jalapeno, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli.. some stuffed, some marinated, all grilled on a flat thick red hot iron griddle! We love this spicy Indian side, eaten with soft hot phulkas or Indian bread. But for a 7 year old to ask for it? Perplexing!

Griddle Roasted Stuffed Vegetables / Tawa Sabzi

Griddle Roasted Stuffed Vegetables / Tawa Sabzi

Apparently she had eaten it sometime earlier in some other ceremony, with my mother. You know how grandmoms are…. they give all the food that we eat to kids to taste, whereas girls nowadays(this includes me!) are weary of trying anything new. We want them to eat healthy and nutritious all the time. Or we worry that a particular food might be too oily or too spicy. But my mom encourages her grandkids to try everything. Let them decide, she says.

The Vegetables

The Vegetables

Her newfound love forced me to try this vegetable dish at home. And oh! I pass with flying colors 🙂 I pick some of her favorites, like okra, mini brinjals, potatoes and mushrooms. Fresh, tender and preferably small ones work best for this recipe.
sautéed garlic, onion and tomatoes makes a yummy stuffing. There is another one too.. where the dry masala and spices are roasted, powdered and then filled. But for this post I stuck to the onion tomato mix.

Combine the two....

Combine the two….

I got a huge batch of baby brinjals. The tinier the better.

Little beauties :)

Little beauties 🙂

She reserves a bunch of them just for herself, insisting, to be given in her lunch box the next day.

The cooked version

The cooked version

The recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of your choice vegetables, like baby brinjals, mushrooms, bell peppers, baby potatoes, okra, jalapenos
  • 2+ tsp oil

For the stuffing:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1.5 minced onions
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced
  • 2 big red tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric pwd, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves – yes! the more the better. Adds amazing flavor.

Method

For the stuffing –
Heat oil in a wok, once hot, crackle cumin. Throw in onions, garlic and green chilies. Saute till onions turn brown. Add tomatoes at this stage, along with all the dry masalas. Cover and cook very well till all the oil leaves the sides. It should not be of gravy consistency but that of a semi dry thick masala.
Season with salt, lime juice and coriander leaves. Mix well. Keep aside.

Stuffing, drizzled with lime

Stuffing, drizzled with lime

For the stuffed tawa sabzis –
Wash all the vegetables and wipe them with a towel to remove any excess water.
Using a sharp knife, make slits on brinjals, okra, jalapenos and potatoes. Make sure the slits do not reach the end of the vegetable. Just deep enough to fill the yummy masala.

Once the slits are made, using a small spoon, stuff the pre made, cool masala into it. Heat a flat-iron griddle, spread a tsp of oil. Place stuffed vegetables(only as many as can go on the tawa, don’t over-crowd) neatly on the hot griddle. Now, focus completely, keep tossin and turning the veggies till they are cooked.

Remove from griddle and serve hot with Indian rotis or flatbreads or rice or even on bread!

On the famous Tawa

On the famous Tawa

Note: Do not over crowd the griddle. If you have many veggies to be sauteed, then do so in batches.

Note: Do not slit mushrooms. Remove the mushroom stalk, scoop out a bit more, then stuff your masala. If you go to slit the mushrooms, they will all fall apart.

Roasted fresh veggies, hot chappathis, a bowl of curd and some salad by the side, a complete meal.

Oh so yummy!

Oh so yummy!

The following pic is styled and photographed by my spunky 7 year old. She insists on laying them on one side… make them sleep, she goads. Carefully she loops the heavy camera around her neck and under my vigilant eye, she clicks.
‘Put it up’ she orders. I comply. 🙂

Binge on Brinjals

Binge on Brinjals

Mung Bean Paneer Soup, Grilled Veggies and Skinny Garlic Bread – Diabetic Friendly

A complete healthy meal

A complete healthy meal

Nearing an unfinished book, catching missed episodes at 10 am in the morning, helping friends strike good deals in clothes and gifts, paying important pending social visits to cheer sullen relatives, crafting amidst incessant chatter with my 6 year old, revising tables with her, discovering the romance in watsapp with my traveling husband(the guy was totally enamored by it – 🙂 ) and among all these, failing attempts at writing a post-worthy post.

So there dear friends and foodies. I have not been doing much apart from a LOT of lazing and vacationing. And in all honesty, I did try to write. But words fell and failed me. It’s no fun to publish something without a good mean bone to feed on.

“Not many people read you know” is one constant refrain I get from the husband. Yes, true. But I still like to write, I retort. And so I do. Without a care of who is reading and who is not, I give words to my feelings and thoughts. Now, this is a personal creative high for me. Sigh! but this so called high evades me most of the times lately, leaving me groping for words and quotes.

I just needed a nudge, a push to wake me up from my trance like state. And Priya did the needful. A simple message, if I would be interested to contribute to her diabetic friendly week. Oh Yes! Interested I am!! “But I have a block”, I told myself. I can’t seem write. And Diabetes? I have no clue about that..

Kicking all the buts/ifs/hows/whys, I set to work. first I had to read up about Diabetes. So what better than Priya’s simplified illustrated theory. A must read. Her site is a diabetic’s delight.

To contribute to her fabulous Diabetic Friendly Food Week, I zeroed in on a soup, some grilled veggies and of course the favorite carb – made in a fat-free way!

Diabetic Friendly Food Week

Diabetic Friendly Food Week

Mung Bean Paneer Soup

Protein Packed

Protein Packed

Green whole mung beans have low glycemic index. Low glycemic foods promote healthy blood sugar levels. tend to have lower total body fat levels as opposed to those who consume high-glycemic foods, such as white bread and soft drinks. In recent studies, mung beans reduce blood glucose, plasma C-peptide, glucagon and blood urea nitrogen levels in non-human type-2 diabetic subjects. See #Reference.

Paneer or cottage cheese made from Cow’s milk is low in fat and contains a good amount of protein and calcium. Refrain from using “malai paneer” or the super soft melt in mouth types, as they are alarmingly high in FAT and low in nutrition. Shrewd use of this cheese for diabetics can work brilliantly for their overall health and fitness.

Simple, abundant flavors and so easy to make, you will find yourself making this soup more often than required.

Mung beans and paneer - super healthy combo

Mung beans and paneer – super healthy combo

For 2 people:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mung beans, preferably soaked for 3-4 hours or overnight.
  • salt, tiny piece of ginger, 2 clove of crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2-3 tbsp paneer, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime – optional
  • black and white pepper powder – as per your taste
  • Garnish: chopped coriander leaves and herbed garlic infused olive oil – optional

Method

Pressure cook the mung beans in 2 whole cups of water(yes! lots of water for very little mung beans), along with salt, garlic and ginger. If you do not have a pressure cooker and you are cooking them in a pot, then make sure your beans are preferably soaked overnight. The beans should be cooked well, almost mash like consistency.

In another pot, heat oil, crackle cumin, fry onions till they turn pink. Then add paneer. Saute for another 2-3 minutes. Slowly, pour the boiled mung beans along with all the water. Stir in pepper powders and check salt. Give it a final boil.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and little grated paneer, if using lime juice, stir it in now. A drop of chili-garlic-herb olive oil enhances the flavor, but if you do not have it ready, don’t sweat.

Sluurp this soup away with some grilled veggies and toasted bread.

Abundant Flavors

Abundant Flavors

Herbed Garlic Chili Olive Oil

This is so simple, even your little one could make it, although eating the vegetables would be a task for them 😉 A simple flavored oil does the trick. This is a usual in my house, but it never occurred to put it up on the blog. Missing the forest for a tree they say. Well, here it is:

Garlic herbed Olive Oil

Garlic herbed Olive Oil

Add 3-4 crushed minced garlic, 1 tsp chili flakes, 1 tsp mixed italian dried herbs, a wee bit of salt to 1 tbsp of olive oil. Mix well. Keep aside for at least 30 minutes before using. Use as required.

Fresh Veggies marinated in Herbed garlic infused Olive oil

Fresh Veggies marinated in Herbed garlic infused Olive oil

Use the oil to marinate your vegetables.

Basket of Goodness

Basket of Goodness

Or smear it on whole grain bread.

Grilled/Roasted Vegetables and Paneer

Colorful Melange

Colorful Melange

This is a no brainer actually. Dice up any vegetable of your choice, I used carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms. Paneer is added for some extra bite. Marinate your veggies in herbed garlic olive oil. Keep aside for atleast 30 minutes. Lay them on baking sheet, bake at 200 C till brown specks appear on the veggies. Alternatively you could stir fry in a thin wok on high till the vegetables are semi cooked and crunchy.

Garnish with pepper powder and rock salt if required.

Goes great with Soup

Goes great with Soup

Garlic Bread – made Fat free

We usually make garlic bread at home, by melting butter, adding all the herbs and minced garlic to it, smearing it on bread, topping with jalapenos and lot of grated cheddar cheese.

lightly smeared with Garlic infused olive oil

lightly smeared with Garlic infused olive oil

But we want a fat free version don’t we? Well, for that, use the flavored olive oil and skip the cheese. Toast your bread or roast them on a flat griddle and you have a guilt free and fat free version of the famous Garlic bread.

Note: My 6 year old girl didn’t like her garlic bread without cheese, so still using the same herbed olive oil, I grated cheese for her to enjoy. But when you’re watching your weight or struggling with diabetes, I would suggest skip the cheese.

Toast the bread, enjoy with your favorite veggies and a big bowl of Soup!

Toast the bread, enjoy with your favorite veggies and a big bowl of Soup!

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

Mix Veggie Cheese Stir Fry

Time for some simple stir fry to have with your daily bread. I have used paneer(cottage cheese). Addition of mushroom enhances the taste. But since I did not have any of the delicious fungii, I made do with all that I had.

Veggie cottage cheese stir fry

Veggie cottage cheese stir fry

Ingredients

  • 1 big onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup colorful bell peppers, julienned
  • ½ cup baby corn, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • ½ cup paneer, cut thinly, lengthwise
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 green chilies
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder(haldi)
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder(dhania)
  • ½ tsp dry mango powder(amchur)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil

Method

Parboil the julienned carrots and babycorn. Keep aside. In a pan, heat oil. Once hot, sauté the garlic, onions and green chilies. Throw in the bowl full of colored bell peppers. Sauté on high. Once ¾ th done, add the parboiled carrots and babycorn, along with tomatoes. Sprinkle the turmeric, red chili, coriander powder and salt. Once the veggies are almost done, put in the paneer and mango powder. Give it a final mix. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with phulkas/chappathis/rotis.

Veggies with a little bite.

Veggies with a little bite.

This stir fry veggie fills your bowl with bright colors and your palette with fabulous flavors and your body with vigor. Tastes great with any type of bread or rice.

Bite into freshness and health.

Bite into freshness and health.