Nov 5, 2013

Kashmiri Vegetables

Hope you all had a good Diwali this year. Wish all the readers a prosperous and fulfilling year ahead. 

After all the ghee-laden sweets and the deep fried snacks, its time for a little simple and easy to prepare veggies filled dish. All our tummies have been on overdrive for the past few days. Time for it to relax and recuperate. 

This dish uses an unusual combination of vegetable. But that works the magic in this recipe and you would think to yourself, like I did, as to why we haven't been cooking more with this combination of vegetables. 

Start off with chopping these veggies into medium sized pieces.

I pre cook the potatoes for 3-4 mins in the microwave. I used the small red potatoes so just sliced them into two precooked them. 

Chop up some Bhindi (Okra) into long pieces. I love broiled okra - if you haven't done it ever, you should try it once. Just put the bhindi on a pan, spray a little oil, sprinkle a pinch of salt and broil for about 15 mins. They cook inside and if left for long, will crisp outside beautifully. But for this recipe, since I knew they're going to be cooking in a gravy, I took them out just when its about to crisp. You can also add the veggie without broil, but that might make it a little soggy. Alternately, you can fry them separately in a tsp of oil till they are halfway cooked. That would work good as well. 

Also chop up some cauliflower into big florets and cut some carrot into long strips. 

For the masala, in a pan, dry roast these ingredients - 
Dhania (Corainder Seeds) - 1 tsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Cloves - 2 or 3
Black Pepper - about 6-8 
Dried Red Chilli - about 2
Elaichi  (Caradamom) - about 2 
Cinnamom - half a stick

Mix all together, dry roast, and when done, cool a bit and grind to a fine powder. 

Chop up an onion into long strips. Add a tsp of oil to a pan and when hot, add a tsp of cumin seeds. Then throw in the onions and add a tsp of ginger garlic paste or you could skip it if you're not a garlic person.

Now add the chopped veggies to the onions and mix well.

Here's the okra pre-broiled in the oven. See how they are kinda tender and a little crispy. They are not gooey inside anymore and taste great. My biggest problem is resisting myself from eating this just like that.

Add the slightly boiled potatoes to the pan. 

Add the broiled or roasted bhindi to the other veggies.

Add a couple of tsps of the fresh ground masala. Save some masala to add to the yogurt.
Add salt to taste for the veggies and let them cook for about 5-7 mins.

Take about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of fresh yogurt. Add 2 tsps of the fresh ground masala to the yogurt and whisk together.

When the veggies start to become a little tender. add the yogurt mix and turn the heat to low.

Mix well and let this cook for about 5 mins or until it starts to thicken a little bit.

Meanwhile, in a tsp of oil or ghee, roast some cashews and crushed almonds or walnuts.

When the veggies are done, switch off the heat and add the nuts to the pan. Mix well with the veggies.

I cooked up some simple basmati rice with onions, carrots and peas. 

Now all you have to do is serve em hot. And enjoy the food.

This dish has a slightly tangy taste because of the yogurt. So that pairs up nice with some rotis or some simple rice. The fresh ground masala adds a ton of flavor to dish and you're sure to get compliments on the flavor part.

Try it out sometime soon and let me know how you liked it. 

Enjoy. Peace Out!

Sep 25, 2013

Kung Pao Tofu

Chinese food remains one of my favorite options anytime we go out to eat. Anytime my hubby asks 'where do you want to go for dinner' my daughter jumps and says 'don't ask mommy- she would want Chinese or Thai'. Never mind that her option is always Italian. 

Such is my love for Chinese food. And one of the dishes we order anytime we do eat Chinese food is Kung Pao Tofu. There are a couple of types of Kung Pao that are available - some are a little sweeter and incorporate orange juice as one of the ingredients. Some versions are more spicier and more soy sauce based. Whatever the type, this is a versatile dish and vegetarian options can be highly customized depending on what veggies are available. I've made this quite a few times at home with tofu and other veggies. This combination of veggies is my favorite though. Really easy to make and can be done in 5 mins. Chinese Fast Food I guess.

Vegetarian Chinese

Vegetarian Chinese

Dice up a block of soft tofu.

Chop up some broccoli and red bell peppers.

 In a small bowl, add these ingredients -

Vegetarian Soy Sauce - about 2 tsps ( as you can see I just go by eye measurements)
Rice Vinegar - 2 tsp
Chinese five spice blend - 1 tsp
Agave Nectar - 2 tsp or you can substitute with Sugar - 2 tsp

In a pan, add a tsp of oil and when hot, throw in the tofu to stir fry. Add a little (less than half) of the sauce above to the tofu while cooking so the tofu can absorb the flavors a bit. Another option, if you can afford the calories and want it, is to deep fry the tofu. I don't think I need that.

In a wok or a pan, add 1 tsp of oil. When hot, throw in a handful of dry red chillies. This does not really make it spicy since they are thrown in whole and not ground up. So, don't worry that this might trigger the fire alarm  in your tummy.

Add some finely chopped onions to the oil and cook for a min. 

Now add the veggies to the pan and stir in well. Sprinkle a little salt to taste just for the veggies.

Use the same sauce left after adding to the tofu. Add 1 tsp corn flour to the sauce and mix well.
Add to the veggies immediately.

Let this cook for a min. You don't want to overcook the veggies and make them soft. The broccoli should still be crisp and not soggy.

Here's the tofu, a little crisped and firm to touch.

 Add the tofu to the veggies and stir in well.

Top off with some crisp roasted peanuts.

And your Kung Pao is ready to go.. A healthy, not too oily, protein filled Chinese dish. What's not to like?

Enjoy. Peace Out.

Jul 17, 2013

Tofu in Ginger Broth Soup

When all you need is soup. Sounds kind of sad, but sometimes its really all you need or rather want. And when its this kind of a humble heart warming soup, move everything else away. I'll be totally satisfied with this.

If you've been to Souplantation and visited during their Asian week, they have a ginger broth as one of the soups. That thing is da bomb! Amazing little concoction. They should just make that thing a regular all year long. Then I wouldn't crave it as much. Well, maybe its a good thing. I finally got around to making this myself. And please, I'm in no way comparing mine to theirs. However, mine is good and totally to my taste. Try it yourself and you'll love it too. 

I know this is perfect for cold winter evenings and its hot now that summer is here. But hey, this is something you could have cold too. Its a good recipe for a cold soup as well. Speaking of cold soups, I recently saw a recipe for a cold strawberry soup. Not sure if I'll like it but wanted to at least try it. 

Coming back to this soup, you can customize this to your taste. If you are not a tofu person, try this with mushrooms, broccoli, or even cauliflower. Tofu gives the required protein and makes this a healthy and wholesome option. 

Chop up some onion, ginger and garlic. Try not to use too much garlic as this can overpower the flavor and you don't want a strong aftertaste. I love more of the ginger flavor but that again is a personal preference. 

In a pan, add one tsp of oil. When hot, add the chopped ingredients. Saute for a min or two. 

Add water or veggie broth. This soup is great when its clear. You can make your own veggie stock and use here. I used the broth from trader joe's and this has a little brown color to it.

Let this cook and boil for about 10 mins. We will be straining all the big pieces of garlic and ginger later on. so don't fret yet that I put all of this just like that.

While that is boiling, chop up some soft tofu into small cubes. 

I like a little bite in my soup and hence added about a quarter of an onion chopped up finely. Saute this in a tsp of oil.

Add some grated carrot and the chopped tofu.

I also added a little finely chopped green beans to the soup.

Now, strain the other liquid directly on top of the tofu and veggies.

What I did was pick a few pieces of the completely cooked ginger, onion and garlic pieces - just a spoonful and add that to the soup. Just for a ginger bite..

Let this cook for a few mins until the tofu start rising up.

Pour and enjoy. Add some finely chopped cilantro on top for a garnish.

A bowl of goodness. Not just for the soup boys. (total tamil movie reference -look up Kolaveri if you have no clue what this means)

Enjoy. Peace Out!