Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Katrikai Rasavangi ~ Vegan Eggplant Lentil Curry

Its been a while since I posted in this space.  Ever since I opened my online jewelry store I have been super busy with setting it up and even though I have made some really interesting recipes recently that I want to and hope to post in this space soon, I haven't been able to more than peek at this space these last few weeks. I guess I have yet to learn to balance both my passions. But I am hoping to hit my stride soon and work out a way to post here frequently too.

Moving on to the post, katrikai rasavangi is a dish from Tamilnadu made with eggplants, lentils and a spice mixture made with roasted lentils and coconut. The best way I can describe this to those of you who have never tasted or tried this before is that it is somewhat similar to sambar. It is served over a bed of plain steamed rice with a stir fry kind of curry on the side. This rasavangi was something I used to make fairly frequently in the past, but in the recent couple of years I have hardly made it, not sure why, since I love it so much. Anyway recently when I made it again, I was reminded of how awesome this rasavangi tastes and since then it has become a regular in my kitchen again :)

Katrikai rasavangi ~ Eggplant Lentil Curry | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Katrikai Rasavangi
1/2 cup split pigeon peas (tur dhal / Tuvaram parappu)
Small gooseberry sized tamarind (Imli/ Puli)
6 to 7 small Indian eggplants cut into 1/2 inch pieces (baingan/ katrikai)
Salt to taste (namak/ uppu)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi/ manjal podi)

Roast in 1 tsp oil (tel/ ennai)
1 tsp Split black gram lentil (Udad dhal/ ulatham parappu)
2 and 1/2 tsp coriander seeds (dhania/ kothamalli virai)
a pinch of asafoetida (hing/ perungayam)
4 dry red chilies (sukhi lal mirch / molagai vathal) (or to taste)

1 tsp coconut oil (or any other oil)
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai/ kadagu)
10 to 12 curry leaves broken into small pieces (kadipatha/ karvapillai)

Grind with 1/2 cup fresh/ frozen grated coconut (nariyal/ thengai) (if using frozen, thaw to room temperature)

Place pigeon peas/ tur dhal in a medium sized bowl, fill with water, swirl with hand and strain water. Fill with fresh water enough to submerge the lentils and soak for at least 30 minutes. Pressure cook the lentils until soft, this usually takes 3 to 4 whistles in my pressure cooker. Alternatively you can cook the lentils on the stove top or in the microwave until soft and mushy. When the pressure subsides, open pressure cooker, mash the lentils gently and keep aside.

In a small bowl, soak tamarind/ imli in sufficient water for at least 15 to 30 minutes.Press the tamarind/ imli with fingers and extract juice. Strain and collect tamarind juice in another bowl and fill the first bowl with tamarind with some more water and extract juice again. Strain and discard the tamarind pulp and seeds.

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a small pan on medium to medium low heat, add split black gram/ udad dhal to it and stir until the lentils begin to redden, then add coriander seeds/ dhania, pinch of asafoetida/ hing and dry red chilies and stir a few times. Remove from heat and grind this entire mixture along with grated coconut and very little water until it turns into a smooth paste. If you are using frozen and thawed to room temperature coconut, use a little warm water when grinding this paste. Keep the paste aside.

In a medium sized heavy bottom pan, add tamarind juice, salt to taste, turmeric powder and place on medium heat. Add cut pieces of eggplant/ baingan to it and allow this mixture to simmer until the eggplant becomes soft and tamarind loses its raw smell.

Once the eggplant is soft add cooked dhal and the ground paste to it and mix well. Add water if required to achieve a sambar like consistency, simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to mingle. In a small pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds to it when the seeds begin to splutter, add curry leaves/ kadipatha, stay a little away from the pan as curry leaves sometimes causes oil to splutter a little, pour the entire seasoning on the rasavangi. Remove from heat.

Serve rasavangi hot on a bed of plain steamed rice and a curry on the side or chips/ papad/ appalam on the side. Rasavangi also tastes good with chapathis/ phulkas/ Indian flat bread.

 If you are looking for recipes with eggplant/  baingan, 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 ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chocolate chip cookies made healthier ~ Egg free, butter free chocolate chip cookies.......and an announcement !!

First let me share my big news. Ever since I made some jewelry for the first time a few years back, I have been hooked onto it.  Before I knew it, making jewelry became a very important part of my life and turned into a passion. Since last year I have been wanting to make this big part of my life even bigger. After months of planning, agonizing over small details and working on so many unexpected angles that were necessary, I've finally made it jewelry store Anukriti Designs is now online. If you are interested in this kind of thing and would like to take a peek, here is the link to the store. You will also see a small widget in the sidebar that will take you into the store and displays some of the items that are currently in the store. 

The day I went live with the store I decided to celebrate with a sweet treat. I've had this idea in my head for a while to try a healthier version of chocolate chip cookies and this seemed like the perfect occasion to finally try it. I used almond meal (powdered almonds) and coconut oil to make it healthier. I've used almond meal in cookies before and know it works well but this was the first time I've used coconut oil in a cookie. I was a tad worried that I might be able to taste the oil, but I needn't have worried at all. The cookies turned out delicious, crunchy and sweet with just the right amount of chocolate chips..... a perfect treat.  I've already made this a couple more times and it tastes amazing every time. If you are looking for a delicious treat for your family that is secretly healthy too, give this one a try :)

Chocolate chip cookies made healthier ~  Egg free and Butter free Chocolate Chip Cookies - Vegan Chocolate chip cookies | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make egg free chocolate chip cookies 
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour ( maida)
1/2 cup almond meal ( powdered almonds / badam) (see notes)
1/3 cup cane sugar 
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 Tbsp cold milk (use dairy free milk for a vegan version)
1/3 cup semi sweet choco chips (use dairy free choco chips for a vegan version)

Pre heat oven @ 350 deg F (approx 180 deg C). Line a tray with parchment paper and keep aside. 

Powder almonds using short bursts of power in a spice grinder/ processor/ mixer and measure as needed for the recipe after powdering the almonds. Do not over grind as the nut butter will cause clumping.

In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients ie apf, almond meal, sugar, salt , baking powder and mix well.

Add  melted coconut oil and mix slowly. Add 2 tbsp of cold milk and mix again. Finally add semi sweet choco chips and mix .  Spoon this mixture onto the parchment lined tray making sure to keep at least an inch between each cookie. I usually make each cookie with 1 heaped Tbsp of cookie mixture. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lower side is golden brown and the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Do not handle these cookies while they are fresh from the oven as it crumbles at that stage, once cool though these cookies are deliciously crunchy and easy to handle. Once cool store in an air tight container and enjoy anytime with a glass of milk or tea/ coffee.

Yielded 12 to 15 medium sized cookies, yield will depend on the size of cookies.


To get this amount of almond meal, I just powdered about 1/3 cup of almonds using my spice / chutney attachment in my mixer/ processor. You can also use store bought almond meal for this recipe.

If you have coarse sugar with large crystals like the Indian variety or  turbinado,  powder the sugar before proceeding with the recipe.

If you are looking for other egg free / eggless bakes with chocolate, here are few more,

Oat Banana Brownie ~ Egg Free

Chocolate Cupcake with  Ganache

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bar

2 Min Egg Free Brownie in a mug

Egg Free Avocado Brownies

Low fat Egg Free Black Bean Brownie
Read more ...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sprouted Mung Bhel ~ Moong Bhel Puri ~ Sprouted Mung bean salad

Bhel puri is a popular fast food / street food in India. Every eatery, from the smallest snack shack to the largest restaurant offer this item on their menu. It is made with puffed rice, some veggies, a combination of sweet and spicy chutneys and some crunchy sev.  The description of this chaat definitely does not do justice to this yummy snack. No wonder than that bhel puri easily ranks among my most favorite chaat items.

Like most food, I find bhel puri too tastes much better when made at home. So from time to time whenever the mood for chaat strikes us, I make the conventional version of bhel puri at home,  but more often I make this sprouted mung beans version that is much more healthier. This is like a cross between aloo chana chaat and the traditional bhel puri, only with mung bean sprouts. This is a great way to enjoy bhel puri without the guilt. Once all the ingredients have been assembled, it can be rustled up real quick, making it perfect for weekends or other times when you are looking for something fun and healthy without wanting to spend too much time in the kitchen :)

 Sprouted Mung Bhel ~ Moong Bhel Puri ~ Sprouted Mung Bean Salad | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make moong bhel puri
1 and 1/2 cup sprouted and cooked mung beans (moong/ payaru ) ( see notes) to learn how to make sprouts, check out this post
1 small potato cooked, peeled and cut into small pieces (aloo)
2 Tbsp finely chopped onions (pyaaz)
2 Tbsp finely chopped tomatoes (tamatar)
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves/ hara dhania)
Salt to taste (namak)
Sev to taste (crunchy fried chickpea flour fritters) (available in most Indian groceries, see notes for sub)

Assemble all the ingredients. In a large bowl, add sprouted and cooked mung beans, then add onions, tomatoes, potatoes, cilantro, the two types of chutney, salt to taste and mix well. Add sev and mix again. Serve immediately.

This quantity makes enough for 1 to 2. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled as required.

If you like crunchy raw sprouts you can add them raw to this bhel too. I do that sometimes, but most times I like to cook the sprouts with very little water until it is slightly soft yet firm, then I cool it thoroughly and use in this recipe.

If you want to cut the calories from the sev, you can use baked potato sticks, or baked fries that are now available instead, just crush the fries/ sticks a little and sprinkle over the beans and you are set :)

If you are looking for other chaat/ snacks, here are few more,

Aloo Chana Chaat

Sev Puri

Masala Chana ~ Baked Crunchy chickpeas 
Read more ...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wacky Cake ~ Vegan Chocolate Cake ~ Chocolate Cake without eggs, butter or milk

A couple of weeks back, I wanted to bake a cake for my neighbor. When I was going through the options, I was pretty sure that chocolate cake would be a good choice, since her little boy seems to have a decided partiality to all things chocolate. And I have to admit I completely understand the partiality, since I feel the same about all things chocolate :) Since I have a lot of chocolate desserts among my pinned posts, I decided to chose one of those recipes to try. Finally I settled on wacky cake. I have come across many versions of wacky cake or crazy cake as some people refer to it. If you are wondering what is wacky cake, it a cake that is made with no eggs, butter or milk or even bowls, the cake is entirely mixed directly in the baking pan, making for an easy cleanup as well :)

After reading up on wacky cakes, I learned that this cake seems to have existed as early as World war II when there were shortages of things like butter and eggs etc.Here is an interesting article in the LA Times about this cake and its origin if you would like to read up on it. This cake was super easy to make and it turned out moist and delicious. Surprisingly the cake tasted even more delicious the next day. This one's a keeper and I cannot wait to try more variations of this kind of cake :)

Wacky Cake ~ Vegan Chocolate Cake ~ Chocolate cake without eggs, butter or milk | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Wacky cake  (adapted from this recipe)

1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
2 and 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp white vinegar 
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp oil + a little extra for greasing the dish
1 cup water

Pre heat oven @ 350 deg F ( approx 180 deg C) 
Grease a 8 inch square baking dish and keep aside.

In the same baking dish, add the first five dry ingredients and mix well. Make three depressions in the dry mix, two small and one larger one.

Add vinegar and vanilla extract separately to the two smaller depressions and oil to the larger depression. 
Add water and mix everything together gently, make sure to scrape the corners in order to include any flour in the corners.

Place the dish in the middle rack and bake for 32 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove, cool a little, glaze the cake or top with a little powdered sugar , slice and enjoy. 

I used glaze this time, the recipe for the glaze is given below

For the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar / confectioners sugar
2 and 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder ( see notes)
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl , drizzle on top of the cake when it cools a little and spread evenly.  Slice and enjoy. This quantity was just right to cover this entire cake.

With 2 and 1/2 Tbsp of cocoa powder the glaze tasted slightly chocolatey, if you want a more pronounced chocolate taste increase the cocoa powder to 3 Tbsp or even 3 and 1/2 Tbsp of cocoa powder or to taste. 

If you are not comfortable with mixing ingredients directly in the baking pan, mix everything in another bowl and pour into pre greased baking pan.

Read more ...

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 ...