Cashew Yogurt Tofu & Bell Pepper Masala (Vegan)

A super flavorful tofu and colored bell pepper curry that will please your tastebuds whether or not you are vegan. When I am entertaining, I try to have a few dishes in the menu keeping in mind speciality diets of few my guests and this tofu masala always appeals to everyone. The creamy texture of the curry along with satisfying plant protein from tofu is pleasantly satisfying.

It is super creamy due to use of the cashew yogurt and fine ground almonds, you can skip the powdered nuts though if you wish. Also,you can switch up to oat milk yogurt or any nut free yogurt in case of nut allergies. The spices in the masala are usual indian kitchen spices, you can deep fry the tofu before adding it to the base. The curry is super quick to make and pairs beautifully with rotis or rice.

If you don’t want to use tofu,you can add anything you like to it right from cauliflower to soy nuggets to potatoes to chickpeas. Sometimes its a good to experiment and experience the nuances of restrictive cooking and I really enjoyed creating this recipe for my vegan readers.

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Cashew Yogurt Tofu & Bell Pepper Masala

A vegan curry in afresh tomato & cashew yogurt sauce with tofu and colored bell peppers.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • Whole Spices – 1 bay leaf, 3 green cardamom, 2 cloves and 1 inch cinnamom stick
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste (simply smash 6-7 garlic cloves with 1 inch ginger shoot in a mortar pestle)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • Red chilli powder to taste
  • 5-6 tomatoes blanched and pureed (about 2 cup thick puree)
  • 1/4 cup super fine ground almonds (or cashews)
  • 6 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 cup colored bell pepper chunks
  • 2-3 tbsp cashew yogurt
  • Warm water to thin the curry, as needed
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (crushed slightly)
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala (adjust to taste)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • In a large wide pot or slighly deep pan, heat up the oil on medium heat. Temper the oil with all the whole spices and saute for 10-12 seconds.
  • Add the onions next and saute on medium heat for 6-8 minutes untill soft and lightly browned. Dont darken.
  • Next add the ginger garlic paste and saute for 10-15 seconds till the raw smell goes away.
  • Add all the powdered spices next – cumin, coriander, tumeric and red chilli. Add 2-3 tbsp water and saute the spices in oil for a minute or so.
  • Add the tomato puree next and cook for 6-8 minutes untill you see oil bubbles seperating. If the masala is looking too dry, add a little warm water at this point.
  • Add the ground almond and bell peppers next and salt the curry. Let peppers cook in the tomato masala for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Next add the cashew yogurt and mix well with the masala.Check and adjust the salt. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes taking care that bell peppers dont soften too much.
  • Add the tofu cubes next and using a spatula, very carefully combine them with everything. At this point if you want, add warm water to adjust the consistency of the masala. Dont mix too much else tofu will break. Avoid cooking on high heat.
  • Let everything simmer for 5-6 minutes on low medium heat. Finish off with garam massala and kasuri methi. Combine gently. Switch off the flame. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Caramel Custards

These baked, thick & creamy, easy custards are super quick to make with a few basic ingredients from your pantry. This recipe gives a velvety pudding which has a toffee like sweetness and smokiness from the caramel. It is almost like a flan but instead of having a caramel base, the custards are mixed with caramel sauce and baked off. They are immensely smooth to dive into & with some fresh fruit, one of the best desserts there can be.

My husband is a huge fan of ice-cream and custards and I make these often. Even the kids love it for there is caramel in there. A little bit of sea salt cuts the caramel perfectly. These are incredibly rich and creamiest – a small portion is enough to satisfy.

What is a Caramel Custard? A caramel custard is a creamy custard made with egg yolks, cream and milk. It is mixed with scratch made caramel, flavored with vanilla(you can add cardamom or saffron instead for a different flavor profile) and the baked at a low temperature in a water bath. Doing so leads to gentle cooking of the custard and makes sure that the eggs aren’t curdled and the texture of the custard is smooth. I really love the golden color of these custards.

These custards keep well for 2-3 days in the fridge. Make sure you are using good quality ingredients, because when a recipe calls for very few, the best ingredients make it delicious.

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Caramel Custard

A rich and smooth caramel flavored custard made with simple pantry ingredients like eggs, milk and sugar.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, French, Mexican
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls, sauce pan,whisk, baking tray

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk (or 2%, dont use fat free)
  • 6 egg yolks,(from large size eggs)
  • 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp sugar (substitute with brown sugar for extra smokiness)
  • Pinch sea salt

Instructions

  • To a heavy(important) bottom sauce pot, add the sugar and pour the water slowly so as not to scatter sugar on sides of the pot.
  • Place the pot on a meduim stove and let the sugar melt. Dont stir. However when you see that the sugar is starting to melt, you can gently swirl the pot.
  • Once the sugar starts to melt, keep a watch since it can quickly burn. Can take about 6-8 minutes for the sugar to melt.
  • When the sugar is completely melted, it should be a nice amber color (and not too dark), remove the pot from the stove and continously whisking, add the heavy cream.
  • Return the pot to the stove and cook whisking in between for another 3-4 minutes. Afterwards, switch off the stove, take off the sauce pot and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 300F. Place 4 ramekins in a baking tray(deep enough to fill water)
  • In a large bowl, add the egg yolks and sugar and whisk for 3-4 minutes until pale and the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the milk and vanilla next and whisk again. By now, the caramel should have cooled down. Pour it over the egg mixture & milk mixture. Mix everything to combine.
  • Strain the custard base using a soup sieve into a jug.
  • Pour into the ramekins. Fill up the baking tray with hot water untill 1/3 red level of the ramekins.
  • Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until set and the centres are firm.
  • Take out of the water bath once cooked, cool to room temperature. Cover the ramekins with cling film or foil and chill for atleast 6 hours before serving.
  • Serve with a few sea salt flakes(optional) and fresh fruit.

Black Forest Cake Trifle

Black forest cake is one of the best cakes out there. Spongy kirsch soaked dark chocolate cake, soft juicy cherries filling, creamy chocolate pudding and whipped cream. The layers in this black forest trifle all combine into an amazing combination of rich and decadent.
I used fresh cherries(though out of season) to make the cherry pie filling layer but it tasted quite good. With a splash of Kirsch, it was so good. If you don’t want to use cherries, you can use strawberries or raspberries and make a compote.If you dont want to use liquor, skip it and use any non alcoholic juice (cherry or pomegranate juices are a good option). The trifle is best made a little ahead, keep it refrigerated once you have assembled it.

I added scratch made creamy chocolate pudding chocolate which gave it utmost richness. All in all, an amazing dessert for any occasion.It is not at all difficult to make, but yes making the components takes time. However, you can spread out the work over a couple of days and assemble just a few hours before serving. I baked the chocolate cake a night before, while the cake baked I made the cherry filling. While the cake cooled, I made very the pudding.Kept everything refrigerated and next morning just before assembling, I whipped up the cream. Easy peasy.

Trifles can be made in advance, however I won’t do it more than a day ahead. However, you can make the different elements 3-4 days in advance.The individual components in this entire recipe are amazing on their own. This is my go to chocolate cake recipe, you can use the cherry filling as icecream or yogurt topping and 2 ingredient eggless chocolate pudding is a shortcut but it delivers.

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Black Forest Cake Trifle

A decadent layered dessert of Kirsch soaked dark chocolate cake, fresh cherries, creamy chocolate pudding and whipped cream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

One 9 inch Chocolate Cake

  • 120 gms (1 cup) all purpose flour
  • 150 gms (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 40 gms (6 tbsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 5 tbsp neutral oil
  • 5 tbsp hot water or coffee
  • 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla
  • 1/4 cup Kirsch for soaking the cake

Cherry Pie Filling (Skip this if you want and use store bought Cherry Pie Filling)

  • 1 lb (400 gms) fresh cherries, pitted
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp kirsch

Chocolate Pudding

  • 6 oz (1 cup) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
  • pinch sea salt

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 2-4 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 drop pink gel food coloring, optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch

Instructions

Bake the Cake

  • Spray a 9 inch pan with oil. Line the base of the cake with parchment paper. Flour the sides of the cake pan with cocoa powder.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk together milk, oil, egg and vanilla.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour the wet ingredients. Fold in gently till alomst incorporated. Pour over the hot coffee and gently(don not whisk) everything so that you can see a smooth shiny brown batter with no streaks of white flour. The batter will be quite runny but thats okay.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 28-32 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. The cake will start to pull away from the sides slightly as well.
  • Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Run a knife all around and take out the cake out of the pan on to a cooling rack. Cool completely. Once cooled, you can store the cake in the fridge for 2-3 days. This cake freezes easily, just wrap the cake in a cling film followed by placing it in a large ziploc and freeze upto a month.
  • If you are making trifle cake next morning, poke holes all over in the cake and add Kirsch to the hole, let soak up. Store the cake overnight or for 2-3 hours atleast. For the trifle, cut up the cake into small cubes using a sharp knife or cut rounds the size of the serving bowl as you wish.

Make the Cherry Pie filling

  • In a sauce pan, add the cherries,water, sugar and lemon juice. Set to cook on a low medium stove.
  • Slowly you will see that the cherries will start to soften. Let cook for 5-8 minutes.
  • At the end of 8 minutes you will see a lot of liquid in the pot, these are cherry juices and moisture of sugar. It will be bubbly.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the cornstarch all at once. Immediatly stir around (but gently else the cherris will break).
  • Cook for 2-4 minutes, you will see the liquid will thicken up and the filling resembles a thickish gel.
  • Take off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Mix in the kirsch.
  • Once completely cooked, store in a air tight jar.

Make the Choolate Pudding

  • Place the chocolate chips in a large bowl.
  • Warm up the heavu cream in a small pot. You will start to see bubbles on the sides of the pot. Take off the stove and pour over the chocolate chips.
  • Whisk gently untill all the chocolate is dissolved. Cool down to room temperature and then chill overnight.
  • In the morming simply beat using a hand mixer untill fluffy. Easy chocolate pudding is ready.

Whipped Cream

  • Place chilled heavy cream in a large bowl. Beat for 5 minutes untill it starts to thicked.
  • Add the powdered sugar slowly and keep beating untill soft peaks are formed.

Assemble the trifle

  • In a Large trifle bowl or in individaul serving jars, layer the cake, cherry pie filling, pudding as you like. You can repeat the layers to make large servings or keep them singl layer of each component, totally your wish.
  • Chill for 3-4 hrs till ready to serve. Top with whipped cream and some marachino cherries and serve!

Spinach Tandoori Roti (Stove Top Method)

Tandoori rotis are as as popular as naan in India. They are soft inside and crispy to bite into and pair so well with all kinds of indian curries or lentils. I prefer them on most days because they use whole wheat flour (hence more nutrition & fiber) than naan.

I grew up eating dad’s paani vaali roti. Few days of the year when he entered the kitchen, he made these special thick doughy rotis– cooked on tawa(griddle) and smeared with lots of ghee. He spread water on on side of the roti to make it stick to the griddle and then cooked the other side by flipping the tawa over direct flame. What came out of the kitchen were immensely delicious flatbreads which were soft and chewy as well as super crispy. I remember eating them with chana dal.

The recipe of this spinach tandoori roti is based on those flatbreads. The rotis are made on the stove top, there is no oven or tandoor needed and they taste the same as you would get at dhabas in India, I promise.

You can use this same recipe to make regular tandoori rotis at home. Just skip the spinach puree part and knead the dough with water.

  1. I use cooking spinach in this recipe. Avoid using baby spinach(that is just for the pictures :))
  2. Rest the dough well. It is important for soft rotis.
  3. We knead the dough using thick, pureed cooked spinach. That gives the best spinach taste to the rotis. Avoid kneading with water or using a very watery pureed spinach.
  4. Dont use non stick pan or tawa for this recipe. We want the roti to stick to the griddle so that we can flip and cook them on the direct flame. If you are using a cast iron pan, make sure that it has no oil. Our purpose is to make the roti stick to the tawa 🙂
  5. The recipe uses 1 tbsp of yogurt but you can substitute it with any plant yogurt for vegan version.
  6. Use plant fat substitute to smear on top and make them vegan.
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Spinach Tandoori Roti

A wholesome, nutritious Indian flatbread loaded with spinach. It is soft yet crispy and is made on stove top.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 rotis

Equipment

  • Griddle, rolling pin, rolling surface, bowls & spoons

Ingredients

Cook the Spinach

  • 100 gms cooking spinach, cleaned
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Rotis

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour(atta)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour(maida)
  • 1 tbsp thick yogurt/greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • pinch ajwain(carrom seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup thick pureed spinach(prepared above)

For topping the Rotis

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds
  • Ghee to smear

Instructions

Make the Spinach Puree

  • Wash spinach 3-4 times in water. Make sure all the dirt is removed from the spinach. Remove any thick and tough stems. You dont need to remove all the stems.
  • In a large pot of water, bring water to a boil. Add the cleaned spinach to the water and press down using a large spoon. Slowly the leaves will wilt, the spinach will soften and get soaked in water. Cook on high heat in boiling water for 6-8 minutes till the spinach is dark green. Switch off the stove and let cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the boiled spinach(along with whatever water is remaining) to a high spped blender, add salt, hing and cumin seeds. Blend on high heat to a smooth fine puree. The puree should be thick like a smoothie consistency. Dont make a watery puree. If needed add a little water while grinding. You should get about 3/4 cup thick spinach puree.

Make the Dough

  • In a wide dish/paraat or you can use your stand mixer as well add the flours, salt, sugar, carrom seeds, yogurt, oil and baking powder. Using fingers rub the flour so that everything is mixed well and the flour is little moistened.
  • Start incorpotating the spinach puree a little at a time and kneading. Each time you add the puree, let it mix well with the dough.
  • As the atta absorbs spinach puree,it will start clumping up into a ball.Continue to add till all the dry flour becomes wet, your hands will be mighty messy but the flour will come together.Remember not to add too much puree at a time.
  • Once a ball is formed, ensure that it is not very dry by trying to squeeze the dough ball between your palms as if making a fist and it should feel firm. Since we added salt to the dough, when the dough will rest it will get a little soft. Start using your knuckles to knead the dough next.
  • Use your knuckles to flatten the dough out and then pull it all together towards yourself, using your palm & fingers, then knead again with knuckles to flatten out. Knead this way (flatten and bring together) repeatedly for 7-8 minutes.
  • Towards the last 1-2 minutes of kneading, use both hands to knead for a very smooth & elastic dough (this will work up the gluten really fast). Once the dough looks and feels really really smooth, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for (not more than) 30 minutes.If you are not planning to make rotis right away, place the dough into an air tight container with lid and refrigerate.
  • When ready to make rotis, uncover and divide into equal portions.(Note: If you refrigerated the dough, take it out 10-15 minutes before and let sit on kitchen counter).
  • Take each dough portion between palms of your both hands and roll to make as smooth balls as possible. Flatten the balls. Get some loose atta on another dish.
  • Set a tawa(griddle) on the stove to heat. Dont use non stick pan or tawa for this recipe. We want the roti to stick to the griddle.
  • Roll and cover each ball in the loose atta and place on a smooth rolling stone or pastry board or kitchen surface. Flatten out lightly on edges using tips of your finger. Using a rolling-pin, start rolling the dough to a oval shape.Dust the board or the roti as and when required when rolling.
  • Once rolled, spread 1-1.5 tbsp of water on one side of the roti and immediately place it water side down on the tawa. Keep the flame medium low.
  • Press a little bit of garlic and sprinkle some nigella seeds on the top of roti. You can press down a little so that they stick to the dough.
  • In 1-2 minutes,you will see bubbles on top of the roti. At this time, lift the tawa and invert it on direct flame. The roti wil start getting chars, keep on moving the tawa and make sure that entire surface of the roti is nice and charred.
  • Ideally when the roti is nicely cooked, it will start pulling away from the tawa. Using a large flat spatula, carefully seprate the roti from the griddle and serve rightaway!

Notes

  1. I use cooking spinach in this recipe. Avoid using baby spinach(that is just for the pictures :))
  2. Rest the dough well. It is important for soft rotis.
  3. We knead the dough using thick, pureed cooked spinach. That gives the best spinach taste to the rotis. Avoid kneading with water or using a very watery pureed spinach.
  4. Dont use non stick pan or tawa for this recipe. We want the roti to stick to the griddle so that we can flip and cook them on the direct flame. If you are using a cast iron pan, make sure that it has no oil. Our purpose is to make the roti stick to the tawa 🙂
  5. The recipe uses 1 tbsp of yogurt but you can substitute it with any plant yogurt for vegan version.
  6. Use plant fat substitute to smear on top and make them vegan.
  7. Use plain warm water (a little over 1/2 cup) instead of spinach puree to knead the dough if you want to make regular tandoori rotis. The rest of the recipe remains SAME.