Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rajma Toast ~ Savory Bean Toast

Finally after a long break from this space I am back. The last couple of months have been so busy and hectic that I have hardly had the time to peek into this space let alone check through my emails and respond to the comments from my readers. If I've missed responding to your email, sorry for the delay, I have been playing catch up ever since I got back and hope to catch up on all my emails soon. Getting back into my routine after my unplanned break has been a strange and somewhat disorienting experience. The good part is, slowly but surely I am getting there and hope to be much more active in this space in the near future.

Getting back to the post, this rajma toast appears in my kitchen sometimes for weekend breakfast  and sometimes as an evening snack. This is an adaptation of a recipe that I came across in a recipe book of snacks by Nita Mehta. It kind of reminds me of the baked beans on toast that my father in law loves so much, only I think of this as a quicker Indianized version of the same . This is a great way to start the day with some protein and nutrition.  The bean mixture can be made a day or two ahead, so it doesn't take much time to assemble whenever you need it.  And whenever I make this, whether for a weekend breakfast or as an evening snack, it never fails to perk up my day just a little bit :)  

Rajma Toast ~ Bean Toast ~ Open Sandwich with Red Kidney Beans | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Rajma / Bean Toast
1/2 cup dry red kidney beans (rajma)
1 small onion cut fine (pyaaz)
2 Thai or Indian variety green chilies ( hari mirch) ( or to taste)
1 clove garlic (lehsun)
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger (adrak)
Salt to taste (namak)
1 Tbsp oil 
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves/ hara dhania)

To assemble
Grated cheese as required (optional) ( use vegan cheese for a vegan version)
A little bit of butter/ clarified butter / oil to apply on the bread ( use oil for a vegan version, I prefer extra virgin olive oil )
Tomato ketchup as required (optional)
8 to 10 slices of multi grain bread ( or any other wheat or white bread)

Soak red kidney beans/ rajma in sufficient water overnight or for 7 to 8 hours. Discard the water the beans were soaked in, fill with 1 and 1/2 cups of fresh water and pressure cook on medium heat for a couple of whistles, then lower heat and cook on low heat for 25 minutes, then switch off the heat. This ensures the kidney bean/ rajma cooks very soft. Once the pressure subsides, remove kidney beans, mash coarsely with a potato masher and keep aside. 

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat, add onions, green chilies, garlic and ginger and sauté until onions turn translucent. 

Add cooked red kidney beans and salt to taste and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture thickens a little and the flavors mingle. The mixture does not have to thicken too much, it thickens a little after cooling as well, so do keep that in mind when removing from heat. My picture below was taken a little early, use the picture of the bean mixture on the bread as a guide.  Garnish with cilantro / dhania and keep aside to cool a little.
You can make this bean mixture a day or two ahead if you are planning this for a weekend breakfast and do not want to fuss with it in the morning.

Heat a flat pan / tawa / griddle on low to medium low heat. To assemble the toast, apply butter/ clarified butter/ ghee / oil to one side of a slice of bread. Spread a little of the bean mixture to the other side of the bread. If you want to apply a little ketchup, you can add a little on top and spread a little, then top with grated cheese and place on the tawa/ pan, cover with a lid and cook until the lower side of the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted on top. Remove and serve hot with ketchup on the side.

Notes : 
The ketchup on top of the toast is entirely optional, I've made this with and without the ketchup and both versions taste equally good.
Similarly the cheese is optional too, I've made it with and without the cheese and it tastes good both ways.

If you are looking for Bread snacks/ toasts/ breakfast recipes, here for a few more

Bread Besan Toast~Savory French toast 

Corn Cheese toast

Chilli Cheese Toast

Read more ...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paal payasam ~ Chawal ka kheer ~ Indian milk pudding

Happy New Year to all my readers, hope you all had a wonderful start to the year with friends and family. My apologies for not wishing you all earlier.  The last few weeks have been so strange and busy that I haven't even been able to find a little time to peek into this space, let alone complete this post. I travelled to India in early December to spend a few weeks with my family.  It was to be a routine trip, or at least as routine as an international trip can get these days with all the weather disruptions, flight delays etc.

While there we learnt that my mother in law needed surgery and I extended my trip to help out with the surgery and the post surgery part of things. My mother in law is recovering now and is doing much better, and I hope to return back home soon and resume my routine and posts.  In the meanwhile I had this post for paal payasam in my drafts and since it's a sweet and such a delicious one at that, thought it might be a good idea to post this now, to start of the year on a sweet note. Paal payasam is the South Indian version of chawal ka kheer/ Indian milk pudding. Earlier I had posted a slow cooker version of this payasam/ kheer, this stove top version is  the way my mother in law makes this kheer. It turns out consistently delicious and it's easy to make for a get together or a potluck party. 

 Paal Payasam ~ Chawal ki kheer ~ Indian Milk Pudding | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make paal payasam
8 cups whole milk ( doodh/ paal)
3/4 cup sugar ( or to taste, see notes) (shakkar / sakkarai)
1/4 cup basmati rice ( chawal/ arisi)
2 tsp clarified butter ( ghee/ nei)
1/4 tsp cardamom seed powder  (approx 4 to 5 green cardamoms) (elaichi/ elakkai)

Lightly roast basmati rice in 2 tsp of ghee until it turns creamy brown. Remove, place in mixer and give it a turn / pulse until the grains break into halves.

Place milk in a heavy bottomed pan and place on medium heat. Add roasted and broken rice grains and simmer, stirring frequently until the milk is reduced to half and the rice is cooked and soft. When you step away from the milk even for a couple of mins the milk has a tendency to boil over. R's grandmother shared this tip that I always use to make this payasam and things like therattipaal. When the milk is simmering add a small, clean stainless steel cup/ katori/ kinnam into the milk. This prevents milk from spilling over.  Even when I do this though, I never stay away from the payasam/kheer for longer than a couple of minutes, so do keep your eye on the kheer and stir frequently.

Add sugar to the milk and simmer for some more time, until the sugar dissolves. Add cardamom seed powder/ elaichi and simmer for just a few more minutes.

Remove from heat and serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. 

Serves approx 5 to 6. 

Notes :
This recipe can be halved if necessary. 

With this quantity of sugar the payasam is mildly sweet, if you like your payasam/ kheer to have a more pronounced sweetness, increase the quantity of sugar as per taste.

If you are looking for Payasam/ Kheer recipes, here are a few more

Oats Poha Kheer ~ Oats Aval payasam ~ Beaten rice flakes pudding

Gajar kaju kheer ~ Carrot cashew payasam

Badam Kheer ~ Payasam ~ Indian almond pudding
Read more ...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quinoa Lentil Swiss Chard Soup

When it comes to super foods, quinoa is most definitely a winner, at least  in my book.  Quinoa is full of nutrition, is a great source of protein and is so versatile that it works in a variety of recipes. So far I have  tried it in everything from dosas to khichdis , pulao and even payasam/ kheer. Recently for the first time I also tried quinoa in a soup for a weeknight dinner.  It worked out so well that I have already made this a couple more times already.

This soup is filling enough to be a one dish meal, just pair it with some crusty bread and you can have a complete meal. It can also easily double up as a curry and served over a bed of plain steamed rice or with some flat bread or phulkas / rotis.  

Quinoa Lentil Swiss Chard Soup | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make Quinoa Lentil Swiss Chard soup
1/2 cup mung beans ( whole moong)
1/2 cup split red lentils ( masoor dhal)
2 packed cups red Swiss chard cut into small pieces
1/4 cup quinoa thoroughly rinsed and drained
1 red onion cut fine
2 medium tomatoes cut into small pieces
3 Thai or Indian variety green chilies cut fine ( or to taste)
2 Tbsp oil ( I used coconut )
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Salt to taste
3/4 tsp garam masala ( or to taste) 
to know how to make your own garam masala check out this post
1/4 tsp chili powder (optional, or to taste)
1/2 cup coconut milk

Place mung beans in a bowl,fill with water, swirl with hand and drain. Fill with fresh water and soak mung beans in sufficient water for at least 3 hours. 

 Similarly place split red lentil/masoor dhal in a bowl, fill with water, swirl with hand and drain. Fill with fresh water and soak for 15 to 30 mins. 

Rinse quinoa thoroughly in cold water and drain. I usually place quinoa in a strainer and rinse under cold running water for about a minute or so.Prep all the other veggies. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add onion and sauté until it turns translucent. Add green chilies and ginger garlic paste and stir a few times. 

Add tomatoes and stir until it turns soft and mushy. Drain mung beans and add to the onion tomato mixture . Add a little water and allow it to cook until it softens a little.  After the mung softens just a little, add drained red lentils and quinoa. Add  Add 3 cups of water, salt to taste, garam masala and chili powder if using and simmer until the lentils and quinoa cook. Add swiss chard and simmer for a few more minutes, until the chard softens and cooks and the flavors of the soup mingle. 

Add coconut milk and mix well. Remove from heat and serve hot with bread of choice. 

This soup is versatile enough and can be served as either a curry with phulkas/ rotis/ Indian flat bread or as a dhal over a bed of plain steamed rice as well. 

Read more ...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vegan Butternut Squash/ Pumpkin Coconut Curry ~ Kaddu ki sabzi~Parangikkai kootu

Weekends are usually when I plan more elaborate menus and potter around in  the kitchen way longer than usual. But even on the weekends there are days when the idea of a simple lunch combination, sounds way more appealing than an elaborate lunch.  Something hot, tasty, simple and nourishing sounds like heaven on such days. A few weeks back when I was in the mood for a simple weekend lunch, I made this combination of butternut squash kootu and more kozhambu.

Kootu is a kind of a South Indian curry that is simply flavored with coconut and green chilies. This kind of curry is made with a variety of vegetables, and works amazingly well with any vegetable in the squash family. Paired with some more kozhambu/ South Indian kadhi/ buttermilk curry and some plain steamed rice, even this simple lunch ended up being quite a treat :)

Vegan Butternut squash/ Pumpkin coconut curry ~ Parangikkai kootu ~ Kaddu ki sabzi | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make butternut squash curry
1 butternut squash peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces = approx 4 cups of cut pieces (or pumpkin/ kaddu / parangikkai)
1/2 cup chickpea lentil ( chana dhal/ kadalai parappu)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( haldi/ manjal podi)
Salt to taste ( namak/ uppu)

Grind together
1/3 cup fresh grated coconut ( or frozen thawed to room temperature ) ( nariyal/ thengai)
3 Thai or Indian variety green chilies ( or to taste) (hari mirch/ pachai molagai)

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds ( rai / kadagu )
1 tsp split black gram lentil ( udad dhal/ ulatham parappu)

8 to 12 curry leaves ( kadi patha/ karvapillai ) torn into small pieces for garnish (optional but recommended)

Soak chick pea lentil (chana dhal) in sufficient water for 1/2 an hour to an hour. Drain the lentils after an hour, place in a heavy bottomed pan with sufficient water and cook on stove top until it is almost cooked.

Add butternut squash/ pumpkin pieces, add turmeric powder and salt to taste, add a little water, close with a lid and cook until the butternut squash is cooked and soft, yet retains it's shape. 

In the meanwhile grind coconut and green chilies with a little water until it becomes a smooth paste. Add the coconut paste to the cooked butternut squash, adjust water as needed to achieve required consistency and simmer for a couple of minutes until the flavors mingle.

In a small pan heat oil, add mustard seeds, when the seeds begin to splutter, add split black gram lentil to it. Stir a few times, when the lentils begin to redden, pour the entire seasoning on the kootu/ curry.

Remove from heat, garnish with curry leaves and serve hot with some plain steamed rice and some sambar, rasam or more kozhambu on the side. This can also be served as a side dish for phulkas / flatbread.

If you are looking for butternut squash/ pumpkin recipes here are a few more,

Kaddu ka Bharta ~Butternut squash/ pumpkin curry

Kaddu ki sabzi ~ Butternut squash/ pumpkin curry 

Vegan Curried Roasted Butternut squash soup

Egg Free Pumpkin Wheat Muffins
Read more ...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Aloo Baingan Sabzi ~ Vegan Eggplant and Potato Curry

Every time I travel, I find that  food choices at airports or rather the lack of choices quite frustrating.  I mean yes,  I do find the occasional salad at some restaurant, but for most part the choices are either unhealthy or unappetizing or both :-(  As a result, I find that by the time I reach my destination, especially when I take long haul flights, I start to crave simple comfort foods. Some phulkas/ Indian flat bread and a simple curry or some khichdi and some kadhi feels just blissful after all the unhealthy choices we encountered in our journey. 

Curries such as this aloo baingan are perfect not only for such days but also for weeknights or pretty much anytime you are looking for an easy, healthy and quick side dish for phulkas or even some plain steamed rice and dhal. It is easy enough for anyone to make, even newbies to the kitchen and it is consistently satisfying and delicious :)  

  Aloo Baingan Sabzi ~ Vegan Potato and Eggplant Curry | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make aloo baingan
1 large eggplant cut into 3/4 inch cubes ( baingan / katrikai )
1 large potato  peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes ( aloo/ urilakizhangu) ( or 3 medium potatoes )
1 large onion peeled and cut fine (pyaaz / vengayam )
2 medium tomatoes cut fine ( yielded 1 cup of cut pieces) ( tamatar / thakkali)
1 and 1/2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera / jeeragam)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste ( adrak lehsun) 
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi/ manjal podi)
3/4 tsp red chili powder ( or to taste) ( lal mirch/ molagai podi)
1 tsp coriander powder ( dhania powder)
Salt to taste ( namak/ uppu)
2 to 3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro ( coriander leaves/ hara dhania/ kothamalli)

Prep all the vegetables and keep aside. Place cubed potatoes and eggplant in a bowl of cool/ room temperature water so that it does not discolor. 

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan on medium heat, add cumin seeds/ jeera to it, when the seeds sizzle add onions and sauté until the onions turn translucent. Add ginger garlic paste and stir a few times.

Add tomatoes and stir until it softens. Add turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder and stir a few times. Add drained potatoes and eggplant, salt to taste and mix well. Cover with a lid and on low heat cook the vegetables. You don't need to add any water as the veggies cook in the steam.

When the veggies are cooked until soft yet retain their shape, remove from heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro/ coriander leaves.

  Serve hot with phulka / rotis / Indian flat bread or even as a side dish with plain steamed rice and dhal

 If you are looking for recipes with baingan/ eggplant, here are a few more

Baingan Bharta ~ Vegan Roasted Eggplant Curry 

Baingan ki sabzi ~ Eggplant in coconut milk gravy

Methi Baingan  ~ Eggplant with fenugreek curry

Baingan Simla mirch sabzi ~ Eggplant bell pepper curry
Read more ...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kambu Oats Adai ~ Bajra Oats dhal Dosa ~ Savory millet and lentil Indian crepes.

One of the first things I realized when I started working on pictures for my blog is that props are a very important part of a good picture. As a result,  I am always on the lookout for good props that I can use in my pictures. These days, this task is even shared by other members of my family. In addition to buying unique and pretty bowls and such, whenever I find the time I also try and make some of the things that I use as props in pictures. The tray that you see in the background in this picture is one such item that I made a few months back specifically to use in my pics :) This tray is made with leftover paint chips and some mod podge and is one of my favorite trays to use these days :) If you are interested in this sort of thing, do check out this post where I have put the stepwise tutorial for this tray.

Moving on, pearl millet/ Bajra/ Kambu has now become an integral part of my kitchen and I regularly make adais/ dosas with it. But this is the first time I tried making an adai with millets and oats, that has absolutely no rice. Was a little apprehensive that it would impact the texture and crispness of the adai / dosa, but it worked out really well.  There was no substantial difference between this adai and traditional adai made with rice and lentils making it perfect for those of you who have picky eaters in your home. 

Kambu Oats Adai ~ Bajra Oats Dhal Dosa ~ Savory Millet, Oat and Lentil Crepes | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Kambu Oats Adai
1 cup pearl millet (Bajra/ Kambu)
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup split pigeon peas (tur dhal/ tuvaram parappu)
1/3 cup split mung beans (mung dhal/ pasi parappu)
1/3 cup split chick pea lentil (chana dhal/ kadalai parappu)
3 Thai or Indian variety green chilies (hari mirch/ pachai molagai) (or to taste)
3 dry whole red chilies (sukhi lal mirch/ molaga vathal) (or to taste)
salt to taste
a little sesame oil to shallow fry adai/ dosa/ crepes (til ka tel/ nella ennai)

Place first five ingredients in a large bowl, fill with water, swirl with hand and drain. Fill with fresh water and soak the ingredients for about 3 to 4 hours.

In batches,  grind the soaked and drained grains with green chilies and red chilies until it turns into a grainy batter. The grains do not have to be ground very smooth, a little semolina/ rava like texture gives this adai/ dosa a more crisp and crunchy  texture. Make sure the batter is of pouring consistency but not too thin. When in doubt err on the side of a thicker batter, you can always adjust the consistency later if needed. Add salt to taste and mix well. This adai/ dosa does not need any fermenting, so the batter can be immediately used to make adai/ dosa

Heat a tawa/ griddle/ flat pan on medium heat,  pour a small quantity of batter in the center and spread quickly and evenly into a thin circle. Pour a few drops of sesame oil around the circumference, when the lower side is evenly golden brown, flip over and cook the other side until it has brownish spots on it.

Remove from heat and serve hot with chutney of choice/ aviyal/ molaga podi or even some curry.

Yield depends on size and thickness of each dosa/ adai.

Balance of the batter can be stored in the refrigerator and used up within 3 to 4 days for freshest taste.

If you are looking for Adai/ Dhal dosa recipes, here are a few more

Barley oat Adai ~ Dhal Dosa with barley

Cracked Wheat and Oat Adai ~ Dalia Dhal Dosa

Keerai Oat Barley Adai ~ Palak Dhal Dosa
Read more ...