Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lemon vegetable quinoa

About once a week if not more often, I try and include quinoa in our diet.  One of the traditional rice dishes that was often made in our home when we were growing up is lemon rice or limbu saadam as it is known in Tamil. Lemon rice is simply seasoned with mustard seeds, chick pea lentil and curry leaves with a delicious lemon flavor, I hope to post that recipe in this space some time soon.

In the meanwhile, inspired by lemon rice, I made this version of quinoa with some vegetables. This easy and nutritious recipes has quickly become a favorite in our home. It works very well for weeknight dinners, and leftovers pack well in the lunch box too :)  Pair this with some raita (yogurt based salad ) or even some curry to make a filling meal.

Lemon Vegetable Quinoa ~ Quinoa Pulao | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make lemon vegetable quinoa
1 and 1/2 cups quinoa
2 carrots cut into small pieces ( gajar) (1 cup of cut pieces)
1 red bell pepper / capsicum deseeded and cut into small pieces (capsicum/ Simla mirch) (1 cup of cut pieces) (see notes)
Salt to taste (namak)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( haldi) 
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds ( rai / kadagu)
1 tsp chick pea lentil (chana dhal / kadalai parappu)
3 dry red chilies broken into small pieces ( or to taste) (lal mirch)
2 Thai or Indian variety green chilies cut fine ( or to taste) ( hara mirch)
8 to 10 large curry leaves  torn into small pieces (kadi patha)
3 Tbsp finely cut cilantro for garnish ( coriander leaves / hara dhania)
juice of half a lemon (or to taste) 

Rinse quinoa thoroughly in cold water and drain. Place in a heavy bottomed pan with 3 cups of water and cook until soft. Keep this quinoa aside.

Heat oil in the same pan, add mustard seeds to it. When the seeds splutter, add chick pea lentil/ chana dhal and stir until it begins to redden. Add red chilies, green chilies and torn curry leaves and stir a few times.

Add carrots, bell pepper , turmeric powder and  salt to taste. Stir a few times. Sprinkle a little water if required, cover with a lid and cook until the veggies are tender crisp.

Add cooked quinoa, mix well, adjust salt to taste if needed and allow to heat for a few minutes until flavors mingle.Add juice of half a lemon or according to taste and mix well. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.

Serve hot with any curry on the side , or some raita

Serves approx 2 to 3 

The vegetables above can be substituted with 2 cups of any combination of vegetables like green peas/ matar, cauliflower/ Gobi,  green beans, carrots, capsicum, etc.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dudhi / Lauki moong dhal sabzi ~ Bottlegourd with mung bean curry

As I mentioned in this post, dudhi/ lauki/ Bottlegourd is a versatile and low calorie vegetable that works well in a variety of curries. Most of the times when I make curries I like to pair it with some kind of lentil/ dhal so that we get some protein along with the vegetable. When I make a South Indian version of this curry, I usually make it in this kootu style.

This version that I make sometimes goes well with phulkas / chapathis (Indian flat bread). This is a very simple curry, you could even serve it as a dhal if you chose, I usually make it more "curry like" since I make it for phulkas. It hardly takes time to put together making it perfect for quick weeknight dinners or any other time when you are looking for something quick and nourishing. 

Dudhi/Lauki Moong dhal sabzi ~ Bottlegourd with mung bean curry ~ Lauki Dhal | Veg Inspirations

Ingredients and Method to make dudhi moong sabzi
1/2 cup mung bean lentil (moong dhal/ paytham parappu) soaked in suff water for 30 mins
1 small to medium sized Bottlegourd/ dudhi/ lauki/ sorrakkai peeled and cut into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces = 4 cups of pieces
1 medium red onion cut fine ( pyaaz/ vengayam)
1 large tomato cut fine = 1 cup of cut tomato pieces (tamatar/ thakkali)
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds ( jeera/ jeeragam)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste (adrak/ lehsun) 
Salt to taste (namak/ uppu)
1/2 tsp chili powder ( lal mirch / Thani molagai podi)
1/2 tsp cumin pwd ( jeera powder/ jeeragam powder)
1/2 tsp coriander pwd (dhania)
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd ( haldi/ turmeric)
2 - 3 Tbsp finely cut cilantro for garnish ( coriander leaves/hara dhania/ kothamalli)

Rinse mung bean a few times, then soak in sufficient water for at least 30 minutes.

Prep the vegetables and keep aside. 

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds to it, when the seeds begin to sizzle, add onions and stir until the onions turn transparent.

Add ginger garlic paste and stir a few times. Then add tomatoes, all the spices , salt to taste and stir until tomatoes are soft and mushy.

Add soaked mung bean lentils, Bottlegourd pieces and water as needed, allow to come to a boil. Cover with a lid, lower heat and allow to cook until lentils and Bottlegourd gets cooked and soft, but not mushy. Stir once in a while to ensure even cooking. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.

Remove and serve hot with some plain steamed rice or with phulkas/ chapathis ( Indian flat bread)

If you are looking for more recipes with bottlegourd, here are a few more

Dudhi/ Lauki sabzi ~ Bottlegourd in peanut gravy curry

Dudhi kootu ~ Bottlegourd in lentil coconut gravy curry
Read more ...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chocolate Cupcake with chocolate ganache ~ Egg Free

Its been a long while since I baked any kind of cake. These days, whenever I bake, I usually bake muffins and quick breads. But the other day I was browsing the net and I came across a few cakes that gave me serious cake cravings.  So I decided to bake one.  After browsing some more, I narrowed down on a couple of recipes that I wanted to try, one a carrot cake that I have been wanting to try for a long while, the other a chocolate cake that also looked equally delicious. Finally my chocoholic side won out and I decided to bake chocolate cake.

Usually most cake recipes I come across tend to have both butter and eggs. But this one did not have either, making it easy for me to adapt the recipe. I did not have to figure out which egg substitute would work best, etc:)  Also since I don't do this often, I decided to go all out and make a ganache to frost the cake as well. The cake turned out very well, with a nice chocolatey taste that we enjoyed. I made these in a mini muffin tray, just so that it would be easier to do portion control, plus I wanted to share some with my friends. But you could just as easily bake these in a regular muffin pan for regular cup cakes:)

 Egg Free Chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache ~ Eggless chocolate cake | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make chocolate cupcakes with ganache (Cake adapted from this recipe)
For the cake
Dry ingredients
I cup unbleached all purpose flour ( maida)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Wet ingredients
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt + 1/2 cup water whisked together or 1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 

For the chocolate ganache ( see notes, ganache adapted from this recipe)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Pre heat oven @ 350 deg F. Pre line a muffin pans with muffin liners and keep aside. 
In a large bowl,  sift all the dry ingredients twice. Make a well in the center and keep aside.

It you are using yogurt, whisk together yogurt and water and keep aside. 
Whisk together sugar and oil. Then add buttermilk to it and mix well. 

Pour this mixture in well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix slowly until the wet and dry and fully mixed.  Add vanilla extract and semi sweet chocolate chips and mix gently. 

Spoon the mixture into muffin pans until 3/4th full. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until toothpick / cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. I made it as mini cupcakes, if you make these as regular sized cupcakes it might take a min or two more, do check if done from around the 15th minute. I used a mini muffin tray and it yielded me about 24 mini cup cakes + 1 regular sized one, you could easily make this in a regular muffin tray as well.

For the ganache
Heat cream on the stove top or the microwave until it is scalding hot. Place the semi sweet chocolate chips in a small bowl. Add chocolate chips to this cream and mix well until well blended.  Allow the ganache to cool and firm, and frost the cake as desired.

I did not want to frost all the cupcakes so did not make too much ganache. With this quantity I was able to frost half the cupcakes. If you want to make enough frosting for all the cakes, you might need double the quantity of ganache.

If you are looking egg free bakes, here are a few more

Mocha Choco Chip Muffins

Apple Wheat Muffins

Apple Banana Choco Chip Muffin
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poricha kozhambu ~ Mixed Vegetable Dhal ~ Mixed Vegetable in Lentil coconut gravy curry

Poricha kozhambu is a traditional South Indian recipe usually made with a combination of vegetables although some versions are also made with just one kind of vegetable. Poricha means fried and refers to the process of roasting the spices in oil before grinding and adding them to the vegetables. Kozhambu is a term for any kind of stew like preparation that is served on a bed of plain steamed rice. I have also heard this dish being referred to as poricha kootu, although in our home this has always been kozhambu :)  Either way, one thing is certain, this curry is very flavorful , with the roasted lentil, pepper and coconut all adding different dimensions of taste and flavor to the final dish. 

Even though traditionally this is served on a bed of rice, I have to admit, I easily use any extras with some phulkas (Indian flat bread) and it tastes just amazing that way too. The good thing about this curry is that it tastes great with any combination of vegetables, making it ideal for those days when there is a little bit of many kinds of veggies in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator, good way to use up a lot of them and still make a sizable amount of curry. Also it's healthy, low fat and has a good combination of veggies and lentils, cannot ask for more from a curry :) If you are in the mood for some traditional South Indian fare, give this one a try and enjoy this quick,  healthy curry :)

Poricha Kozhambu ~ Mixed vegetable dhal ~ Mixed vegetables in lentil coconut gravy | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make Poricha kozhambu
4 and 1/2 cups of mixed vegetables cut into 1/2 inch pieces ( I used zucchini, potatoes and carrots this time, see notes for more options) 
1/2 cup split pigeon peas ( tur dhal/ tuvaram parappu)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste 
Water as needed ( approx about 1 and 1/2 cups)

Roast and grind 
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp split black gram lentil ( udad dhal/ ulatham parappu)
1/4 tsp whole black pepper (kali miri/ milagu)
3 small dry red chilies
1/3 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut (if frozen thaw to room temperature)

1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai/ kadagu)
Pinch of asafetida powder (hing/ perungayam)
7 to 8 large curry leaves torn into small pieces ( kadipatha/karvapillai)

Soak pigeon peas/ tur dhal in sufficient water for at least 30 minutes. Pressure cook the dhal until it is soft. Mash gently and keep aside.

In the meanwhile for the roast and grind part...
Heat oil in a small pan on medium heat. Add split black gram lentil to it and stir until it turns reddish. Add whole black peppers and dry red chilies and stir a few times. Remove from heat and grind the lentils and chilies along with grated coconut and a little water as needed to a smooth paste.  Keep this paste aside. 

In a large pan, add all the vegetables, salt to taste , turmeric powder and water and cook on medium heat with a lid on till it cooks and is soft. Stir a few times while cooking to ensure even cooking. 

Add ground paste and mashed lentils and mix well. Add water if required to achieve required consistency and simmer for a few minutes until them flavors mingle. 

In a small pan heat oil, add mustard seeds to it. When the seeds begin to splutter, add asafoetida powder/ hing and curry leaves. Stir once or twice and pour this entire seasoning on the vegetable lentil mixture. 

Serve this curry on a bed of plain steamed rice with some of this puli itta Keerai / imli palak/ tamarind flavored spinach for a traditional South Indian meal. 

Any combination of squash, pumpkin (kaddu), sweet potatoes, raw plantain (kaccha kela/vazhakkai), potatoes (aloo/ urilakizhangu), carrots (gajar), eggplants (baingan/kathrikai) or even beans can be used to make this curry

If you are looking for south Indian recipes, here are a few more

Tomato Coconut Curry ~ Thakkali kozhambu

Instant Tiffin Sambar ~ No dhal or tamarind sambar

Potato Masala Curry ~ Aloo ki sabzi ~ Potato gravy curry
Read more ...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Spring Onion Roti ~ Hare pyaaz ki Roti ~ Indian wheat and spring onion flatbread

When I plan my menu for the week, I usually have a rough idea of what I would make on each day, though there are times when I switch out my plans at the last minute. But there is one thing that remains mostly consistent in my menu plan, rotis, chapathis or phulkas are for weekdays, but parathas (Indian flat bread with stuffing) are for weekends. Only because parathas take a tad bit more time and on weekdays I am always looking to finish up as soon as possible in the kitchen :)

On weekdays, when I want something quick yet with some additional veggies, I usually like rotis with a variety of vegetables. Some of my favorite rotis with veggies that I have already posted in this space are...avocado roti, carrot roti , spinach avocado roti and  potato roti . In addition to these, I also like to make this spring onion roti from time to time. Spring onions have a very distinctive flavor which works very well in rotis. These rotis are easy and quick to make, just pair it with some curry or dhal and you have a nutritious and delicious meal :)

  Spring Onion Roti ~ Hare Pyaaz ki Roti ~ Indian wheat and spring onion flat bread | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Spring Onion Roti
2 cups whole wheat flour ( atta/ godumai maavu )
1 cup finely cut spring onions/ green onions/ hara pyaaz ( about 6 spring onions)
1/4 cup finely cut cilantro (coriander leaves/ hara dhania / kothamalli )
Salt to taste ( namak/ uppu)
1/2 tsp red chili powder ( or to taste) (lal mirch/ Thani molagai podi)
1/2 tsp cumin powder ( jeera pwd/ jeeragam podi)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera/jeeragam)
1/2 Tbsp oil + little extra oil/ clarified butter or ghee to apply on rotis (use oil for a vegan version)
Water as needed
a little extra flour for dusting

In a bowl add whole wheat flour and all the spices and mix well.

Add finely cut cilantro and spring onions and mix again.

Add 1/2 Tbsp oil mix into the flour mixture. Add water as needed, a little at a time and knead into a soft, non sticky dough. I used approx 3/4 cup water for this quantity of flour. Keep the dough covered for 15 to 30 mins.

Divide the dough, and roll into golf ball sized balls. Flatten a little, dust with flour and roll out into an even circle of desired thickness.

Heat a flat pan/ tawa/ skillet on medium heat and place the rolled out dough on it. When the lower side is lightly cooked, has tiny brown spots on it, flip over and cook the other side until it has brown spots on it. Gently press with a spatula or a kitchen tissue for even cooking.

Apply a few drops of  oil/ ghee on the side facing the top and flip over and cook for just a few more seconds.

Serve hot with curry of choice, or dhal of choice or raita of choice and a pickle on the side.
Yielded approx 12 rotis. 

Other recipes with spring onion in this space :

Spring Onion Pulao ~ Hare pyaaz ka pulao

Spring Onion Curry ~ Zunka

Read more ...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Oats aval payasam ~ Oats Poha kheer ~ Indian pudding made with oats and beaten rice flakes

For a while now I have been wanting to make payasam/ kheer with oats in it. A few weeks back when I wanted to make some neivedyam, I thought maybe this would be a good time to try oats payasam. Usually I tend to make burfis or ladoos for neivedyam, but this time I decided to go with payasam instead. On a whim I made the payasam with oats and aval (poha) in it, instead of just oats and the result was this incredibly easy, yet rich and creamy tasty payasam that we really liked.

You cannot really tell this payasam has oats in it. I have already shared this payasam with some of my  friends and relatives, and so far no one could guess that this payasam has something so healthy in it :)  This payasam is also very quick to make, the oats and poha thicken it right up, so you do not have to wait very long for the milk to thicken as you have to with a lot of other payasam recipes. If you are looking for a way to indulge your sweet tooth, give this recipe a try and enjoy it with your family :)

Oats Aval Payasam ~ Oats Poha Kheer ~ Indian Pudding made with oats and beaten rice flakes | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make aval oats payasam
3 cups whole milk ( doodh/paal)
3/4 cup sugar ( shakkar/cheeni/ sakkarai)
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup beaten rice flakes ( medium poha/ aval )
1 Tbsp broken cashew pieces (kaju)
3-6 tsp of clarified butter ( ghee/ nei)
4 to 5 green cardamom seeds powder ( elaichi powder/ ellakkai podi)

In a heavy bottomed pan, roast quick oats in 1 to 2 tsp of clarified butter/ ghee on medium heat until it turns creamy. Remove and keep aside to cool.

In the same pan, roast beaten rice flakes/ poha in 1 to 2 tsp of clarified butter / ghee on medium heat until it turns creamy. Remove and keep aside to cool. Powder both rice flakes and oats together in a mixer/ blender/ spice grinder until it has a coarse semolina/ rava like texture.

In the same pan, heat 1 to 2 tsp of clarified butter/ ghee and roast cashew until it turns golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Place the powdered rice flakes + oat powder in the pan, add about 1 cup of water and cook until the mixture cooks and thickens, this does not take much time, just a couple of minutes or so. When the mixture thickens, add sugar and continue to heat until sugar melts.

Add milk and heat through, stirring frequently and allow the milk to simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Garnish with cardamom powder and the roasted cashew from above, mix well and remove from heat. 

This kheer can be served hot, at room temperature or cold. Any balance can be refrigerated for a couple of days.

Serves approx 3 to 4

The kheer thickens when it cools, so do keep that in mind when you are simmering the milk. If you simmer it longer it will result in more rabri ( thick custard) type consistency. 
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