Sunday, March 24, 2013

Steamed Chinese Vegetables

When I had to travel for work last year, I discovered that I found Chinese Food really healthful. For my 5 days work schedule, lunch was provided at the venue but for dinner, I was of my own. Though I had rented the car, I was too lazy to go drive at night to find a new restaurant. I discovered a tiny Chinese joint at a walking distance from my hotel. Every night, I plopped onto the sofa, took a remote in my hand, watched TV and enjoyed my Chinese takeout. This was surprising since we hardly go for Chinese Buffets.

Well, the best thing about it was I requested to make the food to suit my needs (less oil, no eggs, no chicken etc). I am not exactly a vegan or a vegetarian but I crave for vegetarian food more these days. That's  how I discovered some delicious Chinese vegetable & tofu delicacies. I don't remember seeing these at the usual Chinese buffet spreads.

Steamed vegetables and plain jasmine rice was particularly good. Especially, after eating the restaurant food for a week, it was a welcome change. I added some hot sambal and I was set.

After coming back home, I tried to create it. It is simple, bland yet healthful & light.

Steamed Chinese Vegetables
A handful of broccoli florets
A handful of cauliflower florets
Napa Cabbage
Bok Choy
A handful of sugar snap peas
Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
Onions, peeled and cut into chunks
4 Swiss chard leaves

Suggested Accompaniment
Steaming hot Jasmine Rice
Hot sauce such as Sriracha

1. Keep a saucepan with water on the stove. Make sure that your bamboo steamer can be immersed in the water completely.
2. Lined the steamed with 2 chard leaves per each container.
3. Scatter your vegetables over the leaves.

4. Cover and let it cook for 7-8 minutes.
5. Take off the heat. Keep covered for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle some salt as needed.
6. Serve with plain jasmine rice and hot sauce of your choice.

1. I change my vegetables based on the availability in my refrigerator. Choose your own favorites.
2. I do not like to overcook the vegetables. I like to see a bright green broccoli the way it looks in Chinese restaurant and not the mushy one. You may need to adjust cooking time based on your own preference.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Katachi Aamti

When Puran Poli is made at home, can Katachi Aamti be far behind?

Katachi Aamti
Chana Daal Sweet Sour Spicy Broth
Kut - drained water set aside while making puraN
1/4 cup puran

Salt to taste
1 tbsp good quality Goda Masala
3/4 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
1 sprig curry leaves
1 bay leaf
2-3 green chilies, chopped or slit
2-3 kokum, rinsed
grated jaggery - if needed

2 tsp oil
2 curry leaves sprigs, torn
3-4 cloves/lavang
1" piece of cinnamon/dalchini

1 tbsp freshly scraped coconut

1. Boil the broth with all the ingredients except tempering ingredients. Add jaggery only if needed.
2. As it brings to boil, switch the gas to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
3. Heat a small saucepan/foDNichi paLi for tempering. Add the ingredients for tempering.
4. As they sizzle, drizzle the oil over katachi aamti. Garnish with coconut. Switch the gas off. Cover with a lid.
5. Serve as an accompaniment with "PurNa-VarNacha Swayampak"!

Note -
1. This broth like soup is sweetish-sourish-spicy. Add jaggery only if needed.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

PuranpoLi for HoLi

puraN poLi aaNi saajook toop

PuranPoLi is the epitome of a Maharashtrian woman's cooking skills [Probably, along with Ukadiche Modak]. I have made Puran Poli Gujarati (using toor daal) and Mangaloori style (Yellow colored due to turmeric powder) but I always postponed making traditional Maharashtrian Puran PoLi. Just the very idea appears very daunting to me! But I wanted to make Puran PoLi for my blog so I ventured out. I had to gather all my courage. This is my very first Marathi Puran PoLi and I do realize that in order to make Puran PoLi like my grandmothers used to make, I still have a looooong way to go. :-) But I wanted to share my efforts. So here it is -
For those who find making Puranpoli as daunting as I do, I have a little secret. If I can make it, so can you!!

I have quartered our family recipe and converted it into cups and spoons since it was easier for me to follow it that way than comprehend the metric measurement [Kgs and Gms]. My mom guided me through this process.

Puran PoLi
Maharashtrian Sweet Bread
2 cups chana daal
8 - 10 cups water

2 cups Jaggery powder

For dough
1/2 cup wheat flour [Aashirwad or Annapurna brand]
1/2 cup maida/all purpose flour
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp oil

5-6 green cardamoms, peeled and crushed
1/4 tsp crushed nutmeg

Suggested Accompaniments (Must haves!)
Sajook Toop/Clarified butter

1. Wash chana daal and pour in a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan, adding water. Bring to boil. Switch gas to low. Simmer till chana daal is cooked. You will see some foam floating on top. Remove it from time to time using a ladle. Discard the foam.

2. After the daal is cooked, drain the water using a sieve. Do not discard this water. Save it for later use. We are making the traditional Kutachi Aamti with this water.

3. Now return the drained daal back in the saucepan. Add jaggery. With the back of ladle, try to mash daal and mix with jaggery. Keep on stirring till jaggery is melted.

3 -a) Notice that Puran is not yet ready. There still is enough moisture so the ladle doesn't stand straight.

3- b)Keep cooking till the mixture appears dryish. When you place a ladle in the daal-jaggery mixture, it should stand straight. This is the most traditional test to know that "PuraN" is ready. Mix in cardamom and nutmeg powders.
3 - c)Notice that now the puraN is ready. Do the ladle test and compare with the previous picture as moisture has evaporated.

4. Pour the daal-jaggery mixture a.k.a puraN into the food mill known as puraN yantra. Rotate the lever to make the shredding of the puran so there is not a single grain of daal. It should be a smooth mixture. Set aside.

5. Knead wheat flour, maida using water as needed. Make a smooth dough. Add oil and keep kneading till it is elastic. This is a very important step. Cover and set aside.

6. Make 5 uniform balls of the dough. Make 5 uniform balls of the puraN. There will be extra puraN for later use. Note that a size of the puran ball is about 3 times more than that of the dough ball.

7. Roll a small and uniform disc with the dough ball. Stuff the puran ball inside this disc. Take the edges to the center so that puran ball is completely covered with the dough. Make sure that the coating of the dough is uniform all around the puran ball.

8. Using rice flour for dredging, roll the dough ball into a thin and large poLi.

9. Heat a big pan, tawa , griddle. Using a rolling pin, gently lift the puran poli and place on the hot tawa.

9 -a) Cook on the medium heat. Flip and cook on the other side.

10. Gently, take off the poLi and fold and place aside. Proceed with the next poLi.

11. Serve with saajook & rawaL toop/homemade clarified butter.

Note -
1. PuraN poLi is always served with a dollop of toop/clarified butter or a bowl of milk. However, puran poLi by itself is completely vegan.
2. Use fresh cardamoms and nutmeg and powder and grate them respectively for fresh flavors. Do not use the readymade powders.
3. Some homecooks add sugar instead of jaggery or a mixture of jaggery and sugar.
4. With this proportion, there will be some extra "puraN". You can use it for making various dishes like Modak, Katachi Aamti, Tel PoLi.

Characteristics of a good PuraN PoLi
1. It should be big but thin.
2. It should not get too crispy but it should be soft.
3. The stuffing (puraN) should be uniformly distributed.
4. The stuffing(puraN) should not ooze out.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Vegetable Omelet

A friend of mine during her first year in the United States ordered "Vegetable Omelet" on her "Monday" thinking it's omelet without eggs which, according to her was okay to eat on that day of the week. However, she was shocked to receive an egg omelet with many veggies in it. It takes time to figure out and get acquainted with and enjoy the food in any new country. but because of my friend's this vegetable omelet story, I started experimenting with my own version of vegetable omelet with eggs.

Vegetable Omelet
4 eggs
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
A pinch of black pepper powder - freshly ground
2-3 green chilies, minced (depending on the desired heat)
1/2 cup finely shredded cabbage
1 tbsp finely minced spring onion
1 tbsp finely minced cilantro
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion

oil for frying

1 cup grated potatoes or frozen hash browns

1. Whisk eggs with salt, pepper and turmeric powder.
2. Add all the vegetables except potatoes.
3. Heat a pan. Drizzle some oil.
4. Pour 1/4th of the egg mixture. Place 1/4th of grated potatoes on top so they cover the egg mixture.
5. Cover and let it cook till the egg mixture appears to have set.
6. Drizzle some oil over the potatoes and flip on the other side.
7. Let it cook till potatoes are nicely browned.
8. Repeat the same procedure so you get 4 omelets in total.
9. Serve with tomato ketchup, toasted bread slices or wheat tortilla.

Note -
1. You may also add chopped bell peppers.

2. This recipe yields 4 omelets.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Aloo Paratha (2)

Aloo Paratha (2)
Traditionally, Punjabi Aloo Paratha does not have turmeric powder. However, my MIL makes Aloo Paratha with turmeric powder in it, so it almost tastes like a batatavada stuffing inside the paratha. I like this variation so I make aloo paratha with turmeric powder for a change.
Aloo Paratha (2)
Turmeric Flavored Potato Flatbread
Knead to a smooth dough -
1 1/2 cup wheat flour + 1/2 cup all purpose flour or 2 cups wheat flour
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
water as needed
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, boiled, peeled & mashed
Grind to a smooth paste
1 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled & roughly chopped
1" ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
3-4 green chilies (or per desired heat level)
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1. Knead dough till elastic. Cover and set aside.
2. Boil, peel and mash the potatoes. set aside.
3. Grind ginger-garlic-chili paste. set aside.
4. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add turmeric powder. saute for 20 seconds without letting it burn and add green paste. Saute for 1 minute. Add mashed potato. Stir well. Switch off the gas. Let it cool down completely.
5. Once the potato mixture has cooled down, knead it with your hands so all the spices are nicely mixed with the potatoes.
6. Make 12 uniform balls of the dough and potato stuffing respectively.
7. Roll a ball of dough into a small disc using flour as needed for dredging. Place potato ball in the middle. Bring all the sides of the disc in the center. Place it on the flour for dredging and roll into a paratha of uniform thickness. Do not let stuffing come out.
8. Heat an iron pan. Place aloo paratha and roast from both sides till brown spots appear. Use oil as needed for roasting.
9. Enjoy with  your favorite pickle or chutney.
Note -
1. This recipe gave me 12 aloo parathas. This count will vary depending on the circumference/thickness of every paratha.
2. You can omit cilantro if you like.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Khada Pav Bhaaji

My parents are not particularly fond of pav bhaaji. According to my dad, any bhaaji or curry needs to have some texture along with the taste and flavor. He doesn't care for the regular Pavbhaaji because he misses that texture. Well, probably Khada Pavbhaaji was invented for those handfuls who don't care for pavbhaaji due to its smooth texture where vegetables are mashed beyond regcognition.

Khada Pav Bhaaji
1 medium cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
2-3 potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 carrots, peeled & cut into small pieces

Grind to a fine paste
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1" ginger, peeled & roughly chopped

1 tbsp Amul Butter
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes

You will also need
1 tbsp Pav Bhaaji Masala
1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder or paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp finely minced cilantro

Bread or Pav
Lemon Wedges

1. Bring water to boil. Add salt. Add all the vegetables (cauliflower, potatoes, peas and carrots). Boil till the veggies are semi-cooked. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat oil and butter in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds.
3. Add onions. Saute till they are soft.
4. Add ginger-garlic-pepper paste. saute for about 10 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes. Saute till they are pulpy.
6. Add turmeric powder, pav bhaaji masala, paprika and salt.
7. Add drained vegetables, 1 cup water and sugar to taste.
8. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
9. Garnish with cilantro before serving

Note -
1. Do not mash the vegetables as they are done in the usual Paav Bhaaji.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Lettuce Wraps - PF Chang Style

We love PF Chang's Lettuce wraps with tofu. So I experimented it at home. For crunchier taste, you can fry (deep or shallow) tofu pieces.

PF Chang Style Lettuce Wraps with Tofu
1 iceberg lettuce, rinsed, drained and cut into a wedge

1 block (14oz) extra firm tofu, diced

2 tbsp each minced red bell pepper, water chestnuts, celery

1/4 cup Hoison sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp Tamari or Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
salt to taste
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp peanut butter

1/2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp grated garlic

1. Drain water from tofu by wrapping between 2-3 sheets of paper towel and placing a weight on top. After removing excess water, dice the tofu pieces. [You can deep or shallow fry these pieces if you like]
2. Heat oil in a saucepan or wok. Add ginger and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.
3. Add minced vegetables. Saute for 3 minutes or so, making sure that they are not overcooked.
4. Add tofu pieces. Saute for 1 minute.
5. Add marinade and stir fry for 5 minutes.
6. Serve with iceberg lettuce wedge and Maggie sweet chili sauce.
7. Garnish with spring onions greens.

Note -
1. Make sure that ginger and garlic are finely grated or ground.
2. For crunchier taste, drain all the liquid from tofu and fry it.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sweet Corn Chicken Soup

Sweet Corn Soup is my all time favorite Indo-Chinese soup. I prefer mine to be a vegetarian soup but I do make Sweet Corn chicken Soup for my family.

Sweet Corn Chicken Soup
2 cans of sweet corn creamed style
1 cup water
1 cup white corn

2 tbsp green beans, 1 tbsp carrots, 1 tbsp red pepper - minced


1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup water

1 egg
Shredded rotisserie chicken 1 tbsp per serving

Suggested Accompaniment
Green Chilies in Vinegar

1. Bring creamed style sweet corn, white corn, water and vegetables to boil.
2. Add salt to taste.
3. Whisk corn starch and water. Pour in the boiling soup to thicken it.
4. Whisk an egg in a bowl. Place a sieve/strainer over the boiling soup. Keep gas low. Pour the egg mixture through the strainer and keep stirring with other hand. This will form the "threads".
5. Serve soup in an individual bowls. Top each bowl with shredded rotisserie chicken.

Note -
1. If desired, use only white part of the egg.
2. Do not use egg and chicken, to make a completely vegetarian/vegan version.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Kobi Bhaat - Cabbage Rice

Kobi bhaat is a simple yet traditional rice-cabbage preparation. A good quality goda masala is a must for this recipe.

Kobi Bhaat
Cabbage Rice
1 cup basmati rice, washed, drained
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup mixed vegetables
salt to taste
1/2 tbsp jaggery
1/2 tsp mild chili powder

1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp Goda Masala
1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste

3 cups water

1 tbsp ghee/clarified butter/sajook toop
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
2 tbsp freshly scraped coconut

1. Wash and drain basmati rice. Set aside for at least 1/2 hour.
2. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
3. Add mustard, cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder. As they sizzle, add ginger-garlic paste & goda masala. Saute for about 30 seconds.
4. Add cabbage, basmati rice and mixed veggies. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
5. Bring water to boil in a separate container.
6. Pour hot water in the cabbage-rice mixture. Add salt, jaggery and mild chili powder.
7. Bring to boil. Switch gas to low. Cover with a lid. Let it cook on low flame till rice and veggies are cooked.
8. Drizzle clarified butter/ghee/sajuk toop over the cooked rice.
9. Garnish with cilantro & coconut.

1. I used more vegetables than rice. So the proportion of 1 cup rice and 2 1/2 cups of total vegetables is not a typo.
2. Use good quality or preferably homemade goda masala.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Avla Pudiye Nonche - Indian Gooseberry Pickle (2)

I mentioned here about making the pickle powder for making the Pudiye Nonche. I keep this powder ready in a bottle and then use it based on the fresh ingredients I can find in the market.  I noticed frozen AvLa/Amla/Indian Gooseberry. I decided to use it. If I am lucky, sometimes I do get American gooseberries at our local Farmers Market during summer time. But summer is far away. Here's what I did with my frozen Avla.
Pudiye Nonche with Indian Gooseberries
Indian Gooseberry Pickle
1 packet frozen Indian Gooseberries
Pickle powder as needed
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp turmeric powder
1. Thaw Indian gooseberries completely.
2. Rinse. I noticed that peel was coming off, so I peeled it completely. Remove the seeds.
3. Chop the gooseberries into small parts.
5. Dry on a clean kitchen towel.
6. Mix with pickle powder.
7. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder. As it splutter, switch off the gas. Set aside and let it cool down completely.
8. Drizzle the cooled tempered oil over the pickle. Mix well. Set aside for at least 1 day, before using.
9. Store in an airtight container. Refrigerate.
Note -
1. Use within 2-3 weeks. Refrigerate after each use.
2. Generally we don't add any tempering for Pudiye Nonche. But since I was using the frozen variety, I though oil would act as a preservative.
3. Now "Awla" is in season in Mumbai. Mom made the same pickle with fresh awlas. She washed and dried awlas, took out the seeds and chopped into pieces. Proceed from step 2 onwards, if using fresh awlas. Tempered oil enhances the taste.
4. Pickle Pudi is made as described here.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Muth Khakhra

Khakhra is a crispy and paper thin flatbread from Gujarat. There are many flavors of Khakhras. I decided to make the most basic one - Muth Khakhra. Muth or Matki flour is used in this recipe. This flour is readily available in the market.

Muth na Khakhra
Moth Flour Flatbread
1 cup Muth/Matki flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
A pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp ajwain/ajmo/owa
1 tbsp hot oil for moaN/mohan

1. Mix all the ingredients together.
2. Knead to a hard dough using water as needed.
3. Cover for 3-4 hours.
4. Knead again and roll into small uniform balls.
5. Roll into paper thin flatbreads. Use more oil if necessary for rolling.
6. Roast on a low flame pushing with a clean paper towel or roti puffer so the khakhra doesn't baloon up. It should be crisp.Keep pressing and rotating the flatbread on a very low flame. Flip and keep doing the same.

Note -
1. Wheat flour is needed for this recipe as it helps with rolling the dough.
2. Roasting Khakhras is an art. It has to be done using a very low flame and with lot of patience till it's crispy and not soft.
3. Sprinkle some sambhaar/pickle powder on this khakhra while eating or better yet, dip this plain khakhra in hot masala tea and enjoy!

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Vegetable Pizza

I use "Perfect Pizza Crust" recipe from Bob's red Mill. The pizza crust/base comes out perfect every time. I use any veggies that I can think of to top my pizza [Even Avocado, Asparagus & Artichoke hearts!]
Perfect Crust Vegetable Pizza
Pizza Crust recipe from Bob's Red Mill
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp dry yeast
2 1/2 cup white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
You will also need,
2 tbsp oil
Corn meal for dusting
Pizza ingredients
Vegetables of your choice [red bell peppers, firm/deseeded tomatoes, black olives, grilled asparagus, artichoke hearts, onions, mushrooms, garlic, yellow corn, spinach - you name it!]
pizza sauce - as needed
Grated mozzarella cheese - as needed
1. Add dry flour ingredients to yeast mixture. Add oil and knead till the dough is elastic.
2. Place in a greased bowl.
3. Cover with a wrap.
4. Rest in a warm place till the dough is doubled in size.
5. Divide the dough into 2 halves.
6. Form two 12" circles.
7. Preheat over 450F
8. Place on cornmeal dusted baking sheet.
9. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
1. I generally smear the pizza sauce on the pizza base. Top it with veggies of choice and cheese and bake in the oven.
2. I make 4 balls and form 4 medium pizzas.
3. I use half of bread flour and half of whole wheat flour to make it healthful.
4. I use frozen artichoke hearts and grilled asparagus from Trader Joe's.
5. I use the same recipe to knead the dough in the breadmaker.
Recipe for pizza crust  

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Garden Kachumbar

My generous neighbor gave me these gorgeous tomatoes. They were red and golden tomatoes. I made a simple kachumbar. Since most of the ingredients were from the backyard garden - either my neighbor's or mine - I decided to call it "Garden Kachumbar".
Garden Kachumbar
2 red tomatoes, ripe yet firm
2 Golden tomatoes, ripe yet firm
2 green chilies - minced
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 sprigs of mint, shredded
1 lime
salt to taste
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1. Mix all the ingredients and serve as an accompaniment with spicy curries or Biryani/Pulaos.
Note -
1. You can use any salad friendly veggies of your choice.
Red and Golden Tomatoes


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