Recipes: Hearty Vegetable Stew

In another episode of no rice Sunday, I was wondering what to make. I had made soups and some roasted vegetables the last few weeks and wanted something different. I was thinking of making a vegetable stew,but didn’t want to make a Kerala-styled coconut milk one. So I decided to improvise and hope and pray it turned out to be edible!

The recipe turned out to be a cross between a soup and a gravy curry and was so flavourful. It is also very healthy with just a tbsp of oil used in the entire recipe. Another good thing about the recipe is that it is a one-pot recipe and would work beautifully for a slow cooker. It just cooks by itself and you need not sit around, stirring and adding ingredients.

My family loved it and I am blogging about it so I can add it to my reportoire and make it another day.

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized onions, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped bigger than bite sized
  • 2 potatoes, chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small cup frozen green peas
  • 3-4 medium sized tomatoes, minced
  • 2 green apples, minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1-2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 15 cashew nuts, soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes
  • 15-20 peanuts, soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required

Method:

  • Chop the vegetables into pieces larger than bite-sized. I chopped them roughly into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces. Just make sure all the vegetables, with the exception of the green peas are of roughly the same size. Wash and keep aside.
  • Mince the onions into small, fine pieces. I did this using my food processor which took me seconds as compared to chopping by hand.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan or dutch oven and when the oil warms up, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter. Then add the fennel seeds and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Now add the onions and stir well and let the onions soften and become translucent.
  • Once the onions are translucent, add the chopped green bell pepper and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Then add the dry spices – turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder and stir well.
  • Now add the other chopped vegetables and stir well so the vegetables are covered with the spices. Cover and cook on a medium flame for about 5 minutes.
  • While this is cooking mince or grate the tomatoes and green apples and keep aside. I again used the food processor and minced both ingredients together.
  • Then add the minced tomatoes and green apple to the vegetables, lower the flame to a medium-low and let it cook till the vegetables are about 80% cooked. You can also add water to the vegetables at this point, because it will become quite thick with all the vegetables.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, blend the cashewnuts and peanuts into a smooth paste. Keep aside.
  • Once the vegetables are about 80% cooked, add the garam masala and the blended cashew-peanut paste and add any seasoning if needed.
  • Let it continue to cook on a low flame till the vegetables are completely cooked and serve hot with some crusty bread.
  • If you plan to make this ahead of time, then you may need to add some water when you heat it up before serving because it will thicken up because of the cashewnuts and peanuts. If you are going to add more water, then you will need to check seasoning also which may become diluted.

Recipes: Gujarati Khatta Mung aka Whole Green Gram Dal in a Buttermilk Gravy

Dal is a staple in most indian households with some variety of the protein packed dish made across the country. So, in order that we don’t get bored with the same kind of dal, I am always on the lookout for interesting takes and variations.

I saw this dal in one of my friend’s Facebook posts and it looked interesting enough to try it. My version may not be the most authentic one, but I enjoyed making and eating the dal. This is a staple in most Gujarati households, but you won’t find this in most restaurants. So let’s see how this is made…

Gujarati Khatta Mung aka Whole Green Gram Dal in a Buttermilk Gravy

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup whole green moong dal, soaked for 4-6 hours
  • ½ to 1 cup yoghurt
  • 2-3 tbsp gram flour or besan
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1-inch piece of minced ginger
  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped to garnish

Method:

  • Drain the soaked moong dal and in a large pan, cook the soaked and drained moong dal with just enough water to cover it for about 5-7 minutes until it is just cooked and tender. Make sure it does not get mushy.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the yoghurt well and add the gram flour, turmeric powder, asafoetida, some salt and about a cup of water and whisk till it is smooth with no lumps. Keep aside.
  • Heat oil in another pan and when the oil warms, add the mustard seeds and let the seeds crackle. Then add the cumin seeds and stir for a couple of seconds, followed by the curry leaves. Stir till the curry leaves start to become crisp. Then add the slit green chilles and the ginger and saute for about 30-40 seconds.
  • Now add the cooked moong dal into this tempering and then the yoghurt gram flour mixture and allow everything to come to a nice rolling boil. Let this simmer on a low flame for about 5 minutes.
  • Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.
  • Turn off the flame and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice and a simple vegetable stir fry for a homely lunch.

Recipes: Matar Paneer

A dish you find in pretty much every Indian restaurant, Matar Paneer, which means Peas and Paneer, is a yummy dish from the state of Punjab which has fresh or frozen green peas and cottage cheese or Paneer in a smooth onion tomato gravy, spiced with garam masala. Usually served with Indian flatbreads like rotis, you can also have it with steamed rice.

One Sunday, bored of making the same old dishes, I decided to make a super easy mater paneer. This version, which may not be the most authentic version, is very easy and doesn’t take much time to make. I used frozen peas, but if you have fresh peas, the dish will be even better.

Matar Paneer

Ingredients:
– 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
– 1 cup frozen paneer, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes and then drained
– 2 medium sized onions, chopped roughly
– 4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped roughly
– 1 bulb garlic, peeled
– 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
– 10-12 almonds
– 2 tsp cumin seeds
– 1 tsp ajwain or caraway seeds
– 1 tbsp coriander seeds
– 2 cloves
– 2 cardamom pods
– ¼ tsp turmeric powder
– 1 tsp red chilli powder
– 1 tsp cumin powder
– 1 tsp coriander powder
– 1 tsp garam masala powder
– 1 tbsp kasuri methi
– Salt to taste
– 2 tbsp ghee or oil
– Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Method:
– Heat 1 tbsp ghee or oil in a pan and when it is warm, add 1 tsp cumin seeds and let them pop.
– Then add the ajwain seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and cardamom pods and stir for a couple of seconds.
– Now add the almonds and stir for a minute or two. Then add the garlic and ginger one by one and stir between adding the next ingredient.
– When everything is stirred well, add the onions and stir until the onions are translucent.
– Then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and stir until the tomatoes are completely cooked and mushy. Switch off the flame and let this cool.
– When completely cool, blend together into a smooth paste.
– In a separate pan, heat the balance ghee or oil and the balance cumin seeds and let the seeds pop
– Then add the frozen peas and the turmeric powder and some salt and cover and cook on a low to medium flame until the peas are around 80% cooked.
– Add in the blended masala paste and then the powder masalas – red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and let it come to a rolling boil.
– At this point, add in the soaked and drained paneer and salt to taste. Add the garam masala powder and crush the kasuri methi in the palms of your hands and sprinkle it over the gravy.
– Let everything come to a nice boil and put the flame on a simmer and cook for 10 minutes more. Thin it if needed at this point.
– Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any rotis or rice. I served it with a simple jeera rice made with basmati rice.

Recipes: Spinach Dal Medley

Dals are an integral part of an Indian household and whether it is a south Indian Sambar or a plain dal from Punjab, every state, in fact every household has some type of dal preparation which is unique to themselves. I usually make dal at least twice or thrice a week and sometimes when I can’t think of something to make, I just throw something together, hoping what ends up is something edible. This dal was the result of one of those experimentations. I had some spinach which was starting to go bad and so decided to make this power packed protein and iron filled dal. The other good thing about this recipe is that it is a one pot recipe!

Spinach Dal Medley

Ingredients:
1 cup chopped spinach
2 tbsp each of the following dals – toor dal, yellow moong dal, orange masoor dal and chana dal
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp ghee or oil

Method:
Wash the dals thoroughly and soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Wash the spinach thoroughly to remove all the dirt it may have.
In the pressure cooker, heat the ghee or oil and and when the fat warms up, add the cumin seeds and let the seeds pop.
After the cumin seeds pop, add in the ginger-garlic paste and stir for a couple of seconds. Now add the finely chopped onions and stir until the onions turn translucent.
Now add thechopped and washed spinach and let it wilt.
Then add the washed dals and stir for a bit. Add enough water and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles.
When the pressure reduces, open the cooker and put it on the gas again and stir well.
Add the tamarind paste, salt and red chilli powder as well as the garam masala powder and stir well and also check for seasoning.
Let the dal come to a nice rolling boil. If it is too thick for your liking, thin it as per your taste.
Serve hot over steamed rice with a stir fried vegetable of your choice. This also makes for a very tasty spinach lentil soup.

Recipes: Mixed Pumpkin Poritcha Kozambu

Tamil Brahmin cooking is generally considered to be quite healthy and satvik. In our everyday cooking, onions and garlic are generally not used and there are people even today who can’t stand the smell of garlic being cooked. My grandmother is one of them. When we make anything with garlic, she generally leaves the kitchen and in fact goes to the room furthest away from the kitchen so the smell does not bother her.

A Poritcha Kozambu is something like a stew which is made by cooking a mixture of vegetables with a paste made of coconut, urad dal and peppercorns and some cooked dal. I had some yellow and orange pumpkin left over when I made some Avial and these were too little to make something with just one of them. So I decided to combine the two to make a fusion kozambu and kootu out of the two vegetables. Generally pumpkins are not used for a poritcha kozambu but this recipe was a huge success. I loved it as did S and the children and this recipe will find its way to my cooking repertoire and I will make it often.

Mixed Pumpkin Poritcha Kozambu

Ingredients:
½ yellow pumpkin, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
½ white pumpkin, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup toor dal,
½ tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp coconut
1 tsp broken urad dal
3-4 dried red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Method:
Wash the toor dal and soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Then pressure cook the dal with ¼ tsp turmeric powder until it is soft and mushy. Once the pressure reduces and you are able to open the cooker, mash the dal well and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and when it warms up, add the cumin seeds, dried red chillies, urad dal, and pepper corns and fry till the urad dal changes colour to a nice brown. Then add the grated coconut and stir constantly until the coconut is brown and completely devoid of water. Keep aside and let it cool.
When the coconut is cool, grind it completely to a smooth paste using water as needed.
In the same pan, add the chopped pumpkins, ¼ tsp turmeric powder and some salt and cook until the pumpkins are about 70% cooked.
When the pumpkins are cooked, but still have a bite to them, add the mashed dal and the coconut paste and stir well.
Add the tamarind paste and check for seasoning. Let it boil for about 5-7 minutes.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot over steamed rice and a stir fried vegetable of your choice.