Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Capsicum Zunka ~ Simla Mirch ki sabzi ~ Green bell pepper curry

Zunka as I mentioned in this post is a kind of curry that is made with veggies and chick pea flour/ besan and is from Maharastra ( a state in the western region of India). When I was living in Bombay and we moved to a suburb there, I was fascinated by the sheer number of small chapathi bhaji shops in our new locality.  Chapathi = Indian flat bread and Bhaji = curry in Marathi ( the language spoken in that region)

The variety of curries offered there were fun to try and I was introduced to a lot of Maharashtrian curries during that time. One curry that was consistently offered in almost all of these stores was Zunka. And from the first time I tried it I have loved this curry and now make it at home regularly.  This is a quick, easy curry that tastes great with phulkas/ flat bread and is ready in very little time making it ideal for weeknight dinners or when you are looking to rustle up something healthy and tasty in little time:)

Capsicum zunka ~ Simla Mirch ki sabzi ~ Green Bell Pepper Curry | Veg Inspirations

Click here for the printable version of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make bell pepper curry
3 large green bell peppers / capsicum/ Simla mirch / koda molagai deseeded and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large red onion cut fine (pyaaz/ vengayam)
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp chick pea flour ( besan/ kadalai maavu)
2 garlic cloves cut very fine (lehsun/ poondu)
1 1/2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp oil
3/4 tsp mustard seeds ( rai/ kadagu)
3/4 tsp cumin seeds ( jeera/ jeeragam)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( haldi)
salt to taste
3/4 tsp red chili powder ( lal mirch) or to taste
1/2 tsp coriander powder ( dhania pwd) ( optional)

Place a heavy bottomed pan on low to medium low heat, add 1 and 1/2 Tbsp oil and chick pea flour / besan to it and roast the flour until it emits an aroma. Take your time with this step, stir frequently so that the flour does not burn and remove from heat and keep aside when done.

Prep all the vegetables. In the same pan heat remaining 1 Tbsp of oil. Add mustard seeds to it, when the seeds begin to splutter add cumin seeds. When cumin sizzles, add garlic and stir until garlic begins to get creamy brown.

Add onions and sauté until onions turn translucent. Add turmeric powder and stir a couple of times. 

Add bell pepper/ capsicum, salt to taste, chili powder, coriander powder and stir until the capsicum is tender crisp.  Do not cover the pan with a lid while the bell pepper is cooking. Once bell pepper is cooked soft yet firm lower heat to low and add roasted flour to it a little at a time, stirring frequently.  Allow the curry to heat for a couple of minutes for the flavors to mingle, continue to stir frequently while the curry heats.

Remove the curry from heat and serve with  bhakri/ phulkas/ chapathis / rotis/ flat bread. 
Serves approx 2 to 3 

If you are looking for green bell pepper/ capsicum/ simla mirch recipes, here for a few more

Serves approx 2 to 3
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Friday, September 12, 2014

Mixed vegetable kurma ~ Broccoli peas curry ~ Side dish for phulkas and chapathis

Mixed vegetable kurma is an aromatic curry usually served with phulkas/ chapathis / puris. This curry is  found very often in South Indian restaurants and is often categorized simply as sometimes as chapathi kurma or kuruma. Unlike the North Indian korma which does not use coconut but cream to give the curry a creamy texture, the South Indian version uses coconut to give the gravy some texture and creaminess. I have seen some versions of kurma with coconut milk, but I haven't tried that yet.

This version with coconut and spices is my favorite mixed vegetable curry especially for phulkas. It's a very forgiving recipe and you can use any combination of vegetables on hand. Traditionally this curry does not use broccoli but I often use broccoli in this, it blends very well with the rest of the veggies and tastes great too.

Mixed Vegetable Kurma ~ Broccoli Peas Carrot Curry | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make mixed vegetable kurma
1 cup green peas ( matar)
2 cups broccoli florets ( or cauliflower florets, see notes)
2 med large potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (yielded 2 cups) ( aloo)
2 large carrots cut into 1/2 inch pieces (yielded 1 cup)
1 med large red onion cut fine ( pyaaz)
2 large tomatoes cut fine ( yielded 1 and 1/2 cups of pieces)
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp ginger garlic paste ( adrak lehsun )
1 bay leaf ( tej patta) 
1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( haldi) 
1/4 tsp red chili powder ( or to taste) ( lal mirch)
Salt to taste
2 to 3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves/ hara dhania) for garnish

For the masala paste
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut (nariyal/ thengai ) ( or frozen thawed to room temperature)
1 inch thin stick of cinnamon / dalchini
1 green cardamom / elaichi
2 cloves / laung
1/2 tsp fennel seeds / saunf
1 tsp coriander seeds / dhania
4 Indian or Thai green chilies/ hari mirch ( or to taste)
1 Tbsp broken cashew/ kaju

Grind all the ingredients under masala paste to a smooth paste with a little water. If you are using frozen and thawed to room temperature coconut, use warm water when grinding. Keep this masala paste aside.

Prep all the vegetables. Heat oil on low to medium low heat, in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add ginger garlic paste and stir a few times, add onions and sauté until onions turn translucent. Add bay leaf and stir a couple of times, then add tomatoes and stir until tomatoes turn soft and mushy. 

Add all the vegetables, salt to taste, red chili powder, turmeric powder and mix well. Add water as needed, cover with a lid and allow the vegetable to cook until soft. Add masala paste, add water if needed to achieve required consistency and simmer for a few minutes until the flavors mingle.

Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro/ hara dhania and serve hot with phulkas/ chapathis / puris.

Serves approx 4 - 5

Instead of potatoes, Broccoli, peas and carrots, you can use 7 cups of any combination of vegetables like cauliflower, beans, peas, carrots, button mushrooms etc.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kanda Poha ~ Savory Snack made with Beaten Rice Flakes ~ Aval Upma

Kanda poha is a classic snack from Maharashtra ( a state  in the western region of India). Kanda = onion and poha = beaten rice flakes in Marathi language. This classic is a favorite of mine and I am surprised that dish has managed to elude this space for so long. The only explanation I can think of is that I usually make this for weekend breakfast and weekends are also the time when I usually do not take pictures for the blog especially around breakfast time :)

Like any other dish, poha too has a lot of regional variations. My sister in law lives in Pune and tells me that people in that region add some roasted peanuts along with grated coconut to their poha. I have tried a lot of variations of poha including the ones I mentioned above and even one version of poha topped with sev and I have to admit that I have yet to find one that I don't like :) Every variation of poha tastes delicious in its own way :) If you are planning poha for your weekend breakfast or even for a quick evening snack, give this version a try and enjoy this easy tasty snack :) 

Kanda Poha ~ Aval Upma ~ Savory Snack made with beaten rice flakes | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Kanda poha
3 cups medium thick beaten rice flakes/ poha/ aval 
1 large red onion cut fine ( pyaaz/ vengayam)
2 Tbsp oil
3/4 tsp mustard seeds ( rai/ kadagu)
3/4 tsp cumin seeds ( jeera/ jeeragam)
3 Thai or Indian variety green chilies cut fine ( or to taste) ( hari mirch/ pachai molagai)
10 - 15 small curry leaves or 8 to 10 large ones torn into small pieces ( kadipatha/ karvapillai )
1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( haldi/ manjal podi) 
Salt to taste ( namak / uppu)
1 tsp sugar (shakkar/ sakkarai )
3 to 4 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro ( coriander leaves/ hara dhania/ kothamalli)

Optional garnish
2 to 3 Tbsp freshly grated coconut ( or frozen thawed to room temperature) (nariyal/ thengai poo)
1 to 2 Tbsp roasted peanuts (mungphali/ kadalai )

Serve with lemon wedges (nimbu/ elimbicham pazham) ( optional)

Place beaten rice flakes/ poha in a colander or strainer and rinse under cold water for a few seconds. Allow to drain completely for 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat oil  on medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Add mustard seeds, when the seeds begin to splutter add cumin seeds. When the cumin begins to sizzle, add green chilies and curry leaves and stir a couple of times.

 Add onions and sauté until onions turn translucent.  Add turmeric powder and stir once or twice. 

Add rinsed and drained beaten rice flakes/ poha and mix well. Add salt to taste, sugar and mix again. 
Close with a lid, lower heat to low to medium low heat, cook rice flakes/ poha for a minute or two until the poha heats through and the flavors mingle.Garnish with cilantro/ coriander leaves and serve hot with lemon wedges.

You can also add grated coconut and/ or roasted peanuts for garnish for this poha.  

The lemon wedges are optional, If you like a little lemony taste in your poha, you can sprinkle a few drops just before serving or on your plate.I like it both ways, sometimes with a little lemon juice and sometimes without, depending on my mood that day :)

Serves approx 2 to 3

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Quinoa Pulao ~ Spinach quinoa

The newest healthy ingredient in my kitchen is avocado oil. Have any of you used it yet ?  I found it in a local health food store at first and purchased it, then noticed even my regular grocery has begun to stock this oil. Since this oil is extracted from the fruit, it has the same heart healthy benefits and the ability to lower blood pressure etc. Also it is one of the oils that has high heat capacity, the label on the bottle claims 500 deg F making it ideal for cooking. And the last part, it has a very subtle taste that makes it easy to use in a variety of recipes without interfering with the taste of the final dish. I have been using it regularly in my cooking and baking these days and am loving it so far :) 

Another healthy ingredient that has always been an essential part of my kitchen is quinoa. These days I have begun to use it much more often than I did in the past. Every week at least once if not more times, I end up using this grain like seed in some dish or the other.  Recently I tried a variation of pulao with a combination of quinoa and spinach that quickly became a favorite of ours. It's quick, easy and flavorful. It also packs well in the the lunchbox :)

 Quinoa Pulao ~ Spinach Quinoa | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make spinach quinoa
1 and 1/2 cups quinoa
1 onion cut fine (pyaaz)
1 large tomato cut fine = 1 cup of cut pieces ( tamatar)
2 cups packed spinach leaves ( palak)
1 large carrot cut into small pieces (gajar)
1 cup baby Lima beans (cooked until soft ) ( optional)
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
2 Thai or Indian variety green chilies cut fine or to taste ( hara mirch)
1 tsp garlic ginger paste ( adrak/ lehsun)
Salt to taste (namak)
3/4 tsp red chili powder ( or to taste) ( lal mirch)
3/4 tsp garam masala ( or to taste)
To make your own garam masala check out this post

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.

Prep the vegetables and keep aside. If you are using baby lima beans, cook in a little water until soft and keep aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan, add cumin seeds, when the seeds sizzle, add green chilies and stir once or twice. Then add ginger garlic paste and stir a few times. Add onion and saute until onions are translucent.

Add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft and mushy. Add carrots and Lima beans is using, salt to taste, garam masala and chili powder and stir a few times. Sprinkle a little water and close with a lid and cook on low for just a few minutes until the carrots soften.

Add spinach and stir a little until the spinach wilts. Add cooked quinoa, and mix gently and allow to heat on low or medium low for a minute or so.

Remove from heat and serve hot with curry of choice or some raita and chips. 

Serves approx 3

If you are looking for quinoa recipes here are a few more,

Quinoa Khichdi ~ Peanut flavored quinoa

Quinoa mung dosai ~ Savory crepes

Lemon Vegetable Quinoa
Read more ...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Barley payasam ~ Jau ki kheer ~ Indian Milk pudding with barley

Festival season means there are a lot of occasions for making sweets these days. The other day  when I was flipping through a channel I came across a cooking show that was showcasing a barley kheer that looked and sounded really promising. Since the very next day was Ganesh chathurthi, I decided to add one more sweet for the occasion and included barley kheer on my to do list. Luckily I had all the ingredients on hand and I did not have to make a run to the grocery store just because of my last minute addition :)

Since I was cooking at the time of the show, I did not note down the proportions, just made a mental list of the ingredients. I went with my instincts with regard to proportions, but the kheer turned out very well. Definitely a winner, it was quick, easy and delicious. It hardly took anytime at all to get done, it was pretty effortless. This is the first time I used barley in a sweet dish, usually any time I reach for barley it is to use it in some kind of savory recipe.  If the thought of using barley in a kheer/ payasam intrigues you too, give this one a try and enjoy it with your family for any festive occasion or even just to indulge over the weekend :)
 Barley Payasam ~ Jau ki Kheer ~ Indian milk pudding with barley | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Barley Payasam  (adapted from a tv program)
1/4 cup pearl barley (jau/ vargodumai)
2 and 1/2 cups whole milk (doodh/ paal)
1/4 cup sugar (shakkar/ sakkarai) (see notes)
1/4 tsp green cardamom seed powder (choti elaichi/ ellakai)
1 Tbsp clarified butter (ghee/ nei)

5 almonds cut fine (badam)
1 Tbsp broken cashew (kaju)

Soak barley in sufficient water overnight. Drain and fill with fresh water and pressure cook until soft. About 3 whistles in the pressure cooker is sufficient to cook the barley.

Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan, add cashews and almonds and stir until golden brown.Add cooked barley and stir a couple of times. Break off lumps if any.

Add milk and sugar and simmer for a few minutes until milk thickens to desired consistency. Do keep in mind, the kheer thickens further when cool. Add cardamom powder and mix well. Simmer another minute or two.

Remove from heat, serve hot, at room temperature or chilled.

Serves approx 2 to 3

With this quantity of sugar, the kheer turns out mildly sweet, if you want a more pronounced sweetness, you can increase the quantity of sugar to 1/2 cup or to taste.

If you are looking Kheer/ Payasam/ Indian pudding 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, August 26, 2014

Bhindi ki sabzi ~ Okra curry ~ Vendakkai Curry

Okra is one of my favorite veggies and this easy and simple curry is one of my favorite curries to make with it. Every few weeks  I make this at least once, yet surprisingly I never got around to posting this recipe in this space before now. This is the type of curry I love to make for weeknight dinners, no fuss, easy, tasty and healthy too. With a minimum of spices, the taste of the vegetables shines through in this curry.

If you are making a list for "super easy and quick recipes" this curry will definitely qualify to be on the list and would probably get a top spot on it too :) This curry works very well with some phulkas/ rotis or with some plain steamed rice and dhal.

 Bhindi ki sabzi ~ Vegan Okra curry ~ Vendakkai curry | Easy side dish for Phulkas/ rotis/ flatbread | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make okra curry
6 cups of cut pieces of okra (about 50-55 pcs of okra/ approx 700 gms/ 1.5 lbs)(bhindi/vendakkai)
1 medium red onion cut fine (pyaaz/ vengayam)
2 medium tomatoes cut fine (tamatar/ thakkali)
1 Tbsp oil
3/4 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi/manjal podi)
1/2 tsp chili powder (or to taste) (hara mirch)
Salt to taste (namak/ uppu)

Wash bhindi/ okra, dry thoroughly using kitchen tissue. Remove crown and tail and cut okra into 1/4 inch pieces. Cut onions and tomatoes and keep aside. 

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

Add tomatoes, turmeric powder, chili powder, salt to taste and stir until tomatoes are soft and mushy. 

Add okra pieces and mix gently. Close with a lid and allow to cook until soft. Stir a few times in between gently to ensure even cooking. Make sure to cook okra until soft yet it retains it's shape.

Serve curry hot with phulkas/ chapathis/ rotis/ flat bread or as a side with rice and dhal.

Serves approx 3

Other easy curries that go well with phulkas/ Indian flat bread, or rice and dhal....

Dudhi/ Lauki sabzi ~ Bottlegourd in peanut gravy curry

Methi Baingan ~ Eggplant with fenugreek leaves curry

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