Pumpkin “Hummus”


pumpkin-hummus

It’s pumpkin season!!!  This is a quick, easy recipe for pumpkin “hummus.”  I’m calling this hummus even though there are no chickpeas because the texture resembles hummus. The milder bean allows the pumpkin and spices to shine. I may be partial, but I think the Indian flavors complement pumpkin well to make a warm, autumny dip/spread.  I served the pumpkin hummus at party this weekend with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Soup Crackers. It seemed to vanish, so I’m not fussing with the recipe any more! =)  You can make this a day or two ahead of time, and it will actually be better since the extra time will allow the flavors to meld better.

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Karela (bitter gourd) in Coconut-Tamarind Gravy


KarelaEvery now and then (especially after I get back from traveling), I just don’t have the produce I need to make a full meal.  Luckily, I keep an assortment of sauces, stocks, and gravies in my freezer for these occasions!  I normally make karela with onions, garlic, and tomatoes.  But, since I had none of these in my kitchen, I decided to use a Coconut-Tamarind Gravy instead (it has onions, garlic, tomatoes and much more!).

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Coconut-Tamarind Gravy


This recipe is one of my staples.  I love the tartness of the tamarind, the creaminess of the cashews, and the tropical feel of the coconut.  I’m posting this as it’s own recipe because it really is worth making a double batch and keeping it on hand for a quick meal.  You can add this gravy to fully cooked veggies and it makes them so much more satisfying!  I like to go on the drier side when i use it in dishes, but you can thin it out with a little water when you add it to veggies to make it more saucy.

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Grilled Squash Protein Bowl


Grilled squash and nutrela

I was traveling for work the last few weeks and totally in withdrawal from not being able to cook.  Luckily, my Hungry Harvest box this week had some awesome fresh ingredients like yellow squash, tomatoes, cilantro, and green bell peppers.  They looked so tender and colorful, that I wanted to use them as soon as possible.  To make the dish more balanced and filling, I added edamame and soya flour chunks (Nutrela).

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Mint Cilantro Coconut Chutney


Mint Cilantro Coconut ChutneyI made this green chutney for Mother’s Day since it was gorgeous weather outside and we decided to grill.  The flavors are so light and fresh that I love it in sandwiches, wraps, with roasted veggies, as a soup garnish… pretty much anything summery.  It’s also very versatile: thin it out with water to make a dressing, mix it into yogurt to make a dip, whisk it with olive oil to make a pasta salad.  It also gets bonus points for freezing well.  It’s amazing how a chutney so healthy and easy to make can be sooooo good!

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Ghee (Clarified butter)


GheeGhee, sometimes called clarified butter, is a staple in Indian cooking.  It has a very distinct taste, and a much higher smoke point than oil, so it’s useful in all kinds of dishes.  I’ve made ghee over the years the traditional way, which is to bring butter to a boil in a pot over direct heat and let it simmer “till it’s done.”  Essentially, until the fat separates from the milk solids.  Then you strain it through a cheesecloth so that you’re left with the clear ghee.  Sadly, it often yielded mixed results for me.  I’ve burned the butter, which is an awful smell… I’ve under-cooked it and the solids didn’t separate enough…. I’ve struggled with cleaning the pot, the cheesecloth, and everything else that comes in contact with pure fat!  Until now!!! Although this isn’t a “recipe,” it is a technique I feel is worth sharing.  It really simplifies the process (and clean-up), and while it’s not exactly the same end result, it’s close enough that I actually want to make it at home!  The only challenge is finding the right sized equipment in your kitchen.

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Anise pinwheel cookies (eggless)


Anise Pinwheel CookieThese anise cookies are definitely in my top 10.  I LOVE them.  The base is a blend of oats, cashew, and all purpose flour.  They just melt in your mouth and leave a great taste.  Perfect after dinner, or with tea.  The pinwheel design looks pretty, but does take some time.  If I don’t feel like going through the effort, I just drop ~1 tsp of the dough onto the cookie sheet and bake them.  Much easier, and just as yum!

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Garlic Coconut Chutney


Garlic Coconut ChutneyThis is a really easy, versatile chutney that I use to dress up a lot of dishes.  There’s no oil and it freezes well- both reasons that it’s at the top of my list for stocking up on.  I don’t usually eat it straight since the flavor is very strong.  My favorite variation (if I’m very motivated), is to roast all the garlic in the oven before putting it in the food processor with everything else.

Cooking suggestions: Add a spoonful to rice or lentils when boiling (most common way I use it).  Use it to marinate tofu or veggies.  Mix a little into roasted veggies.  Spread a thin layer on corn-on-the cob before eating.  Spread a thin layer on dosa.  Add a spoonful into batter that you use for frying veggies.  Mix it with water or yogurt to make it more dippable/spreadable.  Feel free to share other ideas!

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Vegan Diwali Tea Cakes (Almond Cardamom Saffron)


Vegan Diwali TeacakeHappy Diwali everyone!!!  This recipe blends the Indian and the American in me- tea cakes with Indian flavors.   These cakes are my attempt to vegan-ize a dessert and make it a little less sweet and heavy while still keeping the feel of Diwali.   Plus, it gives me an excuse to use these really cute silicone molds my friend got me.  If you don’t have tea cake molds, you can use mini cupcake molds (makes ~24).  Happy celebrating! =)

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Pumpkin Shaak (Indian vegetable curry)


Pumpkin ShaakContinuing my pumpkin craze… This is for when I want a savory pumpkin dish instead of a sweet one.  I wanted to mix the Indian in me with my love of pumpkins – and this is the result.  I played with the spices and gravy a lot and settled on the recipe below.  Please note that there is a HUGE variation in the ingredients and proportions of “curry powder” and “garam masala” from brand to brand.  I have used Trader Joe’s curry powder and Penzey’s garam masala before.  But, I would use the brands that you like the flavor of since the spices are what gives this shaak it’s character.  Honestly, the hardest park of this recipe is cutting up the pumpkin.

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Halloween Party (Fun Food!)


I had a Halloween party last year and completely forgot to post about it!  I had the most fun planning the food for the party (as usual).  The best thing about Halloween food is that you can be super creative to make things fit into the creepy, gross theme.   Below is the table spread for the party, with links to the foods and how I did them (click on it for a larger image).

Halloween Fun Food

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Rajma (Red Kidney Beans)


Rajma (red kidney bean curry) is one of those dishes that I love, but always forget about.  It’s perfect for cold weather because it has so many warm spices and is so satisfying.   I like making it in big batches because I think the flavors really set in after the first day and it makes great leftovers.  You can eat it plain (like a chili), with breads (like roti, naan, etc), or with rice (my favorite).  I also modified the traditional recipe to include spinach, because I’m convinced spinach makes everything taste better!

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10-day Vegan Detox Diet (Days 1-3)


The next few posts will be slightly different from my usual ones.  I’m doing a 10-day vegan detox and thought it would be fun to post the menu and recipes I’m following and how I’m feeling.  The detox program is led by Linda Petursdottir (http://simplewellbeing.com/).  Please visit her site for more information.

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Roasted Okra with Indian Spices


I love okra, but really dislike the slimy-ness and the amount of oil needed to avoid the slimy feel.  The recipe below gets around that by roasting the okra in the oven, so you only need a fraction of the oil.  I make the tomato-onion-spice mix while the okra is in the oven, so it takes less than a half hour to make!

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Summer Picnic


This is an extremely belated post since it is from the picnic we had for Mother’s Day.  So, although Mother’s Day is gone, the dishes we made for the picnic are great summer foods.  We decided to have a variety of salads and dips instead of one main dish, and we were definitely stuffed when it was over!  Some of the things we picked up from Trader Joe’s, but the rest we made at home.

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Edemame Shaak


My friend recommended this ready-made edemame dish at Trader Joe’s, and it was really good!  So of course I had to try it at home =) The recipe below is not exactly the same because I modified it to suit my taste, but I like it because it’s healthy and high in protein.  If you don’t have all the individual spices, I’m sure you can substitute an Indian spice/curry powder mix.

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Curried Eggplant


Usually I make Indian eggplant dishes with gravy, so this is a first for me.  I like it because it is relatively healthy (very little oil), and doesn’t take too long to make.  Since it is so heavily spiced, I ate it with plain yogurt.  Also, I tried it with the Italian eggplant (fat and dark purple) and Asian eggplant (long and light purple), and the Asian one worked better for me in terms of texture and taste.

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Tindora Corn Shaak (vegetable)


Apparently tindora are called “gentleman’s toes” along the same lines as okra being called “lady’s fingers”!  =) I never bothered to find out what tindora is in English until one of my friends asked (I always used to call them mini watermelons because that’s what they look like).  Anyhow, this recipe stemmed from laziness and some leftover arrabiatta sauce.  I made 3 times this recipe, so by the time I was done chopping the tindora, I didn’t feel like cutting anything else.

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Okra (Bhinda) in Coconut Gravy


I love okra in almost any dish- pickled, steamed, fried, stir fried- you name it!  This is one of my favorite ways to prepare it Indian style, mainly because I also love anything with coconut in it.  The other nice thing is that you can prepare it in two parts- you can make the gravy the day before so that it requires less time later (if you’re tired from work and don’t feel like spending too long in the kitchen like I am sometimes).  Also, okra gets slimy if you cook it while it is wet, so make sure you dry them well after cutting- I do this by spreading it out on a paper napkin.

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Spiced Pecan Cookies


These are fun little tea cookies.  They remind me of Indian spiced tea, and actually taste great with a cup of coffee or tea.  Even though there are a lot of spices, they seem to work well together and no one spice really stands out.  The flip side to that is, since there are so many spices, if you don’t like one, it won’t change the consistency of the cookies.  I tagged this as vegan because you can substitute vegan margarine for the butter, and it will work fine.  The other nice this with this is you can freeze the uncooked dough for later, and it works great!

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Pineapple Shak


This recipe came from cutting a pineapple that wasn’t quite ripe.  So instead of eating it like a fruit, I decided to make a spicy vegetable out of it.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I figured I like pineapple and jalapeno on pizza, so it was worth a shot.  Luckily, it tasted good!  The only thing is, I don’t know how this will work with ripe, sweet pineapple.  The pineapple we cut was greenish-yellow (no orange on it).  I ate this with naan (an Indian bread), but it would also taste good with rice.

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Tindora Pickle (Athanu or achar)


I’ll admit that I cheat when making pickles (athanu or achar) by buying the spice mix from the Indian store.  There are usually two types- sweet and spicy.  I buy the bright red spicy one.  Assuming you use the ready-made mix, pickles are fairly easy to make.  Tindora is one of my favorite ones (after green mango).  Sometimes, I end up eating just plain rice and the tindora athanu for dinner!  I don’t make huge batches of this because I’m not sure how long it stays good.  I usually don’t keep it more than 10 days in the fridge.

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Spiced Okra


My friend made this really good okra recipe for dinner one day.  The link for the original recipe is: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/skillet-roasted-spiced-okra.  The recipe below is modified from the original to suit my taste (spices and quantities changes slightly).  In an effort to use less oil, I broil the okra instead of cooking it on the skillet.  If you like yogurt, this tastes good with plain yogurt (I used the Greek yogurt because it’s thicker)- it balances out the spices a bit.

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Yogurt Rice


I’ll start this post by saying there are probably hundreds of variations of yogurt rice.  We went out for Indian food this weekend, and ended up with some leftover rice that I brought home.  Although I don’t mind plain rice, sometimes I feel like making leftover rice more interesting.  The recipe below is a relatively quick way of jazzing up plain rice.

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Ohloh / Baigan Bharta


Until very recently, I didn’t realize ohloh (spelling?) was similar to baigan bharta- and I’m still not sure what the difference is between the two.  Anyhow, some of my friends came over for dinner today.  One of them really likes baigan bharta, so I decided to make this.  Variation- since it’s summer and sometimes I’m not in the mood for hot dishes, I like to mix a little bit of yogurt into it once it cools (you may need to adjust the salt).  Tip- you can do Step 1 the day before to save time.  Also, you can bake it while you’re baking something else in the oven, even if the temperature is lower (you may need to cook it a little longer).  I made a cake for dessert today, so instead of baking it at 400 F for 30 mins, I baked it at 350 F for 45 mins.

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Coconut Jeera Rice


I was feeling kind of lazy today, so I just sautéed some veggies in olive oil.  But when I sat to eat, it felt a little bland.  In general, rice is pretty easy to make, so I decided put a spin on regular white rice.  It actually came out really good!  I didn’t have any peanuts at home, but crushed peanuts would probably also taste good on top.

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Dhudhi Channa Shak


This is one of those great recipes that I remember from being a child.  My favorite part is the dhudhi because I love the soft, but firm, consistency.  Since I like dhudhi better than channa dal, this recipe reflects that.  I also like it slightly sour, which is why I add tomatoes and kokum.  You can omit these if you don’t want the sour taste.

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