Categories
Easy Recipes Gluten Free Indian Curry Side Dishes Stir-fry vegan Vegetarian

Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Okra & Potatoes)

IMG_8376-2The first thing to be spotted in markets at the turn of April or May as soon as the short fairytale called winter is over is okra pods. It probably tops the list of summer vegetables in India. I would compare the hue and cry about it to sight of fresh tomatoes here. I would accompany my grandmother to our daily vegetable vendor, leaned over his cart and gazed at the pile of okra that occupied half of the space and observed how my grandmother chose the dark green, soft, slender ones while arguing about how costly he sold his produce. Almost each week, sometimes more than once, okra formed a part of our meals. My mother tells me that it was my grandfather’s favorite vegetable so our family recipe repertoire is packed with a lot of ways to cook it. As the summer progressed, by the months of July and august and with the knock of monsoons and okra slowly losing their crisp texture, only then the focus shifted to other vegetables.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)However, it was not until I met the husband that I cooked okra with potatoes. Kid you not, I had not even heard about it in all my years of living in northern parts. It’s hard to say if his suggestion to do so was driven by his childhood food memories or his obnoxious need to combine potatoes with each and every food group possible, but the deal didn’t get too bad here and these two vegetables worked beautifully the first time I cooked them. We continued discussing for many years, each chance I got to get okra home as to how the recipe can get better and better until I mastered it.

Sinfully Spicy : Okra

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)These emerald looking, slender beauties pair with earthly flavor of starchy potatoes so well. On the lines of stuffed okra, I always add fennel seeds to my okra recipes and you will need to do that to know how deliciously this grassy vegetable braces the liquorice of that spice.Try it. The deal with dealing with all the nuances which people associate with okra is not to go too stingy on oil quantity  as well as not to let the vegetable steam too much while cooking. I cover it for no more than few initial minutes after its added to pan and then continue cooking uncovered till its done, this preserves the beautiful color as well as eliminates the chances of mushy okra.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

Serve these as a side with daal (lentils ) and rice or with skillet fried flatbreads and chutney. It is good on side as well as on its own.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Breakfast Easy Recipes Snacks Vegetarian

Beetroot Tikki


Root vegetables with a soothing,earthy taste are one of my favorite. I m not talking potatoes here – everybody likes them without a doubt. I want to point towards taro, sweet potatoes, turnips, radishes & ofcourse – beets. The array of colors and textures inspire me to try out different ways to enjoy them.When beets are involved, I normally start dreaming of all kinds of pink hued curries, especially my dad’s version.It takes me back to all those special meals he cooked.

I did not enjoy beets much in salads or slaws much, I have grown to enjoy them in many other ways. Being the only one at house who likes them, I have the freedom to mend & devise my own uncomplicated ways to cook them. After gulping down lots of juice glasses over the week (yup, at this age too, I dream of rosy cheeks (sigh)),I was left with a last batch of this pink bounty to be turned into these thin, crispy, pan-fried cutlets.

There is always a feeling of accomplishment & satisfaction when I am able to come up with ways to prepare vegetables without cooking them much.I dont think I can describe it.It just needs to be felt.The beets were overly sweet, I did not roast them.Finding a way to balance out the sweetness was when spices jumped into the picture. Inspired by the ever so popular potato tikkis – tangy chaat masala , green chillies, ginger, garlic & cilantro – I found myself  shaping these babies within few minutes. To start with, I was slightly nervous about the taste but after I tasted the mix, the excitement took over- for that first bite.

Tikki, a popular north indian snack is nothing but small patties or croquettes, deep or shallow fried. They are served with an assortment of chutneys, ketchup, yogurt or just as it is with hot steaming masala chai or coffee. .

These are vaguely sweetish, utterly moist to bite with semolina coating adding a texture.The intent was to keep the beet taste as unadulterated as possible. Serve these with green chutney as appetizers, over lettuce leaves to make a yummy salad or even slide them inside the buns to make a vegetarian burgers Overall, I think I will be making these a lot many times.

Makes 6-8 tikkis

Ingredients

  • 2 cup finely grated beetroot
  • 3/4 cup finely grated par boiled potatoes (substitute with leftover rice)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 1″ fresh ginger shoot, minced
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp chaat masala (to taste, chaat masala is a tangy spice blend available in indian stores or online)
  • 1/8 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp white poppy seeds
  • salt to taste
For Coating 
 
  • 2 tbsp semolina 
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne)
For Pan Cooking 
2-3 tbsp canola/vegetable/olive oil (or as required for even cooking)
 

Method

Press grated beetroot between your palms to squeeze out as much juice as you can.

Tip in the squeezed beetroot along with all ingredients except salt into a large bowl & mix lightly with a wooden spoon to combine everything.Dont overwork the mixture. Dont add the salt unless ready to cook.Refrigerate the mixture until then.

Mix the ingredients of the coating, tip into a shallow dish & set aside.

When ready to cook, heat up a heavy cast iron skillet/pan on medium. You dont want the pan to be searing hot. While the pan heats up, combine the salt with the beetroot mix. Make small patties of the mix, about 2 inch dia & 1/2 inch thick. Roll the patties in the semolina mix to cover both sides.

Lightly brush 1 tbsp oil on the heated pan. Place 2-3 patties on the pan and fry them on medium-low heat,adding 1 tsp oil at a time. Cook the patties for about 3-4 minutes on each side, flipping gently with a spatula & flattening them with it slightly as they cook and turn brownish.

Repeat till all patties are fried. Serve warm with green chutney, ketchup or salad greens.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Pickles/Preserves Side Dishes Vegetarian

Nimbu Ka Achaar – No Oil Indian Lime Pickle

I still have some left in the jar from my last trip to India.Every time I scoop out a spoon ful to serve on to my platter, unconsciously, I drop a few wedges back. Then I smile at the silly thought which crosses my mind. I just don’t want that jar to be empty ever! Is that even possible?Maybe not.Its not just mom’s nimbu ka achaar, its her love,which I want to relish in all my meals.

Store-bought pickles fail to satisfy me. Too much oil, overload of spices, a preservative cloned after taste – if I may complain. At times, I am desperate to make my own.Not much luck with that;I have not been able to find the lemons, raw mangoes or chillies which come close to the ones we get back home.

After almost three years of living here, my happiness knew no bounds when I spotted these baby limes at a south asian store.Can you imagine my stroll as I rushed towards them? Top that with an unbeatable price of a dollar for two pounds. Can you? They were perfect – thin-skinned, spongy to press, acidic, and greenish-yellow.I knew I will be spending few hours with mom on phone to get her recipe & tips.Pickle will be made!

Indian summers present a perfect oppurtunity to sun-aided pickling.Pickles or achaar are an integral part of indian cuisine. A small amount is always served to square home style meals. Some like it for the tang they add & some like them for digestion. Seasonal fruits & vegetables are commonly used along with spices (fenugreek, mustard, nigella, chillies etc) & buckets of oil to make pickle batches which last through the whole year.

Nimbu Ka Achar, Indian Lime Pickle, Sinfully Spicy

Sun cooked pickles are the ones are where the gold lies, I m too fond of them.Unless you put in hours of labour & showcase patience while the pickle cooks in the warmth of the sun, the business is far from over. I have seen everyone in the family slog over them.Not to forget the high levels of hygiene required all through – clean spoons & hands, sterile jars and what not.

This irrestible “no oil” lime pickle is able to perfectly live up to the expectations – tart, succulent flesh & chewy lime skin – what a tease on the tastebuds. The lime wedges pickle in their own juice and a handful of spices. The spices are few but quite typical to

Ingredients :-

  • 3 lbs baby limes/lemons (or any thin-skinned variety)
  • 2 tbsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with table salt)
  • 6 tbsp kali mirch (black peppercorns)
  • 6 tbsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 3/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 3-4 tbsp sea salt or as needed (substitute with table salt) (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 10-12 limes)
  • 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar (I have not used it but can be added if you like to add a sweet note to your pickle)
Needed :-
  1. Kitchen Towels
  2. A large, rectangular glass dish (I use my pyrex casserole dish)
  3. Plastic Wrap sheet
  4. Clean, dry Wooden Spoons
  5. Wide-Mouthed, Sterile Canning Jars (preferably with plastic or glass lids).Click here to see how you can sterlize the jars.

Method :-

Preparing the limes

Put all the limes in a colander and wash thoroughly under running water. Let drain in the colander over the kitchen sink for at least 15-20 minutes. Spread the limes over clean kitchen towels and rub to completely dry them. You can put them in sun too for this purpose. Ensure that the limes are completely dry before you start cutting them.

Next, with clean hands, quarter or half the limes (depends on the size you like) and remove as much seeds you can.Once cut, transfer the wedges on to a large glass dish, spread them in an even layer. Sprinkle black salt over the limes and with clean, dry hands, rub the salt with the limes. Cover the glass dish with a plastic wrap, poke few holes in the it & let sit in the full sun for 3 days. You will see that the lime wedges will start to dry (slightly) & there is liquid at the bottom.

Making the Pickle 

On the fourth day, coarsely grind the kali mirch in your coffee grinder. Put the ajwain next & pulse a few times. Take out the mixture in bowl & mix hing powder, red chilli flakes and sea salt (along with sugar, if using) with it. Sprinkle this mix over the lime wedges along with lime juice. With clean hand, thoroughly mix everything together. Again, cover the glass dish with a fresh plastic wrap, poke few holes in it and let sit in full sun for 15 days. You will need to stir the mix once a day using a clean,dry wooden spoon. You will see that as the days progress the skin of the limes starts softening & turning brown along with liquid at the bottom getting thicker than on the very first day.

At the end of 15 days, check the salt of the pickle again & adjust (if required) , mix up the pickle well with clean, dry wooden spoons and transfer to canning jars. Dont full till the top of the jar but at the same time don’t leave a lot of room for bacteria in air to get moldy. Leaving 1/2 inch space from the top is okay. If you are using jars with metal lid, you will need to cover the mouth of jar with plastic wrap to avoid the contact between pickle & metal.Let the jars sit in sun till the limes are totally soft, brownish in color & the liquid is more like a syrup. You will need to shake the jars periodically. In Las Vegas sun, it took about 3 weeks to get that stage.

There is no need to refrigerate.Sun-cooked pickles normally last at room conditions. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickles, they keep for months or years together.

Serve the pickle as a side to your meals, grind and add to marinade of meats.I like to spread the pickle on top of my crackers as well as on flatbread crisps.

Notes:-

  1. Any thin-skinned citrus fruits will work in this recipe – baby tangerines (narangi), kumquats etc.
  2. Do not under salt your pickles else they turn bad over a period of time.
Categories
Easy Recipes Lentils Side Dishes Soups Vegetarian

Aamer Dal- Red Lentils With Green Mango

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Tips on Cooking that perfect bowl of dal:-

  1. Adding salt at the beginning can toughen the grain.So preferably add salt after the lentils have cooked.
  2. Adding tomatoes/lemon juice or any acidic ingredient can lengthen the cooking time.Add these after the lentils have become almost 80% tender.
  3. Very old lentils [6 months or older] can take longer time to cook and may not taste great.Try to use a fresh batch.
  4. Adding a tsp of mustard/olive oil/ghee can really bring out the flavors of the grain.Try it.
  5. Since cooking & soaking time of each kind of lentil vary, its always better to keep a watch so that they do not overcook. A perfect cooked dal has a nutty taste to it.

Ingredients: [Serves 2]

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup red lentils , broken
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 tsp ghee (or any neutral oil)
  • 1 large, sour green mango [or 1/2 cup grated mango, or use lime juice at the end for tang]
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish
  • Generous pinch of garam masala
For tempering
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp Nigella seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder/cayenne (adjust to taste)

Method:
  • Peel the skin from the mango and finely grate it.Set aside.
  • In a bowl,wash the red lentils under a stream of water 2-3 times.
  • After washing, tip them in a pressure cooker or large, heavy bottomed pot along with turmeric, tomatoes, ghee and grated mango(if using) and let soak in water.Note: Although I have given the measure of water above,it is totally your call.As a thumb rule, the water should be enough to cover and rise 1.5″-2″ above the lentils. Let soak in water for at least 1.5 hours.
  • Cooking the lentils [Any one of the below]:-
  1. Using Pressure Cooker {this is what I do} :- Cook the lentils [along with soaking water] for 8-10 minutes on medium heat till the first whistle.Immediately remove from heat and wait till the steam completely escapes..Again this time will vary if you are using whole lentils.Once the lentils are cooked add salt.
  2. Cooking in a pot :-Add lentils [along with water] and simmer on medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.Once the lentils are cooked, add salt.
  • Tempering :-In a small sauce pan, heat the ghee till hot on medium heat.Add the cumin, mustard & Nigella seeds.Wait till they crackle.Add the cloves & dry chillies.Cook for 20 seconds.Remove from heat and add the red chilli powder.Immediately add this tempering to cooked dal.
  • Stir in the tempering and garnish with cilantro, sprinkle with garam masala
  • Serve warm as a soup or with steamed rice.
Notes:-
  • If you are adjusting the water after the lentils have cooked, add warm water.
  • You can cube or slice the mangoes too, grating them is a personal preference.
  • Sometimes I add a tomato or two, if my mangoes are not very sour.
  • If soaked properly, red lentils quick very quickly, to keep a watch as they cook.
Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!