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Its been a long separation from food ~ A recipe for Burmese Khow Suey

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This blog has seen more restaurant reviews in the last 6 months than in all the 8 years that I have been writing it. I think it is safe to say that I have lost my cooking / writing mojo. My blog always gave me joy. A space to document what I cook at home and save some of the recipes for posterity because I cook on impulse and rarely stick to a recipe. Increasingly I have come here, opened up a new post and closed it with a few unfinished sentences, buried as a draft.

I realise this has been happening a lot and try as I might I am unable to shake it off. Usually it is a week or a few days maximum and I can shake myself back into my “good moods”. This time I am unable to. I am unwilling to give up the blog or shut it down either.

I haven’t picked up my camera in months. I browse through the photographs on my phone and realise how boring they are, and yes I am brave enough to admit that. I wonder if I am turning into more of a social hermit. I do spend a large amount of time online, but increasingly have less patience with it or people.

Anyway. The only exciting aspect of my cooking / kitchen these days is my 6 month old black board. In april this year, when my brother’s family was visiting, my niece and I painted a wall in my tiny kitchen with blackboard paint. I use it to make shopping lists, to do lists and meal plans. I have been doing some sort of meal planning for the past few years. Since the beginning of the year, I hand wrote it on paper and put it on the fridge with magnets. It has simplified my cooking and helped me use ingredients more efficiently than I had imagined.

This weeks meal plan

I graduated to the black board in April and cannot recommend it more. None of those fake black board apps for me. I am someone who needs something to be in my face to be able to take action! And yes we do eat a lot of Idli and dosa. My meal plans are pretty standard. K and I prefer south Indian breakfast, I grind a huge batch of idli/ dosa batter at the start of the week to last me 5-6 uses. For lunch it is mostly roti, with two vegetable dishes or one dal and one vegetable. This is except on the weekend when we eat at home and not carry our dabba and hence eat rice for the mid day meal. We try and eat a light dinner, usually soup, stir fries or sometimes again a breakfast item. I even have designated leftover days to clean up the fridge.

Anyways, I think I should do a post on meal planning and the black board soon (if I ever get down to it). It is a joke these days, for K to point out the board to anyone visiting us and tell them, “macha (term of endearment between two guy friends) check what’s for dinner da (term of endearment again), that’s all we’re going to get, no deviations from the daily meal planner”. When Amma is here, K and she will gang up and force me to write “order food” or “food truck” on it and break into peals of laughter.

Why am I writing this? I don’t know, but I feel like telling you the story.

But this is a recipe blog, and a recipe I shall give you. Khow Suey is a Burmese broth eaten with noodles. The broth is very accomodative and one can add any vegetables that are at hand. I’ve used sweet potatoes, yellow pumpkin, coloured peppers and usual vegetables one adds to a stir fry and loved it every time. I teach this same recipe in my Gourmet Soups and Salads class and the students love it.

Burmese Khow Suey with garnishes and noodles

Burmese Khow Suey with garnishes and noodles

Khow Suey (Serves 4)

Grind to a smooth paste the following:

2 inch stalk of lemongrass, crushed lightly or 2 teaspoons of dried Lemongrass

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

2 pods Garlic peeled

½ teaspoon Turmeric

½ medium Onion, sliced

For the Curry:

2 cups Vegetables of choice, cut into similar sizes (mushroom, carrot, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, yellow pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, bok choy etc)

2 cups Cooked noodles of choice (soba, glass, egg, rice noodles) – cooked according to the instructions on the pack

1 tablespoon Vegetable oil

200 ml Coconut milk

1 teaspoon Sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 lime leaves, torn

1 cup water

1 tablespoon gram flour / besan

For the garnish: To be added while serving the soup

Basil, mint and coriander leaves – a few sprigs

1/4 cup Fried onion

roasted and coarsely powdered peanuts

fried garlic chips

Lemon Wedges to serve

red chilli flakes

Boiled eggs, cut into quarters

Method:

Steam the hard vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and beans for 3-4 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a pan, heat the oil and add the curry paste, cook stirring for 3-4 minutes till the raw smell disappears.

Add all the vegetables (including the steamed ones) except the spinach/ bok choy if using and the lime leaves and ½ cup water and cook for 4-5 minutes till the vegetables are tender but not overcooked.

Add the coconut milk, salt, pepper  and sugar, stir and adjust any seasoning if needed.

Dissolve the gram flour in the remaining 1/2 cup of water and add to the curry. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, add the bok choy / spinach at this point.

Adjust the thickness of the gravy, this will be your main soup so adjust as much as you prefer. Turn off the heat.

To serve the soup, spoon out some cooked noodles into a bowl, top with the curry sauce, garnish with fried onion, garlic, crushed peanuts, basil, mint, coriander leaves, boiled egg and a wedge of lemon.

The curry and the noodles should be refrigerated separately if storing. Assemble before serving. Keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Note: you can add 1 cup of boiled chicken / prawns while cooking the vegetable curry for a non veg option.

Three Ingredient Soup ~ Pumpkin, Potato and Fried Garlic

pumpkin potato soup

pumpkin potato soup

I looked at the right corner of the screen of my computer to check the time, was shocked it was almost 8.30PM. Should have listened to the rumblings in my tummy. Ignoring them when your fridge is free of leftovers (happens sometimes in the Escapades household) is a sure indication that I may have succumbed to some jelly or whipped cream that was leftover from my desserts class on the weekend.

I have not been going to the gym for over 2 months for various reasons. This means that I am trying (in vain) to atleast eat right.

I knew we had a wedge of pumpkin and a few sprouting potatoes in the vegetable crisper. I sprung into action and whipped out my trusty peeler and tiny 11/2 litre pressure cooker.

Pumpkin – Potato and Fried Garlic Soup (serves 2)

Yellow Pumpkin                                 1 cup (remove the skin, seeds and membranes, chop into chunks)

Potato                                                         1 cup (peel the skin and chop into chunks)

Garlic cloves                                              2-3 (peel the skin and slice finely)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil                               2 teaspoon

Salt and freshly ground pepper              to taste

Heat a pressure cooker till quite hot. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and sliced garlic. Sauté till the garlic turns golden and almost crisp.

Add the cubed pumpkin and potato and pumpkin and toss around till they are nicely coated in the oil. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups of hot water and put the lid onto the pressure cooker. Cook for 3 whistles and take off the heat.

When the pressure releases, put everything into a blender jar and whiz till the vegetables get puréed and you have a nice thick liquid.

Return to the pot, heat through but do not boil. Add salt to taste and freshly cracked pepper.

Dish out into serving bowls, garnish with the remaining olive oil and serve hot with crusty bread on the side.

Creamy Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Creamy Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Creamy Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

I have been severely neglecting my own marathon and I beg your pardon. If you have followed me on my FB Page, you will know that I have been keeping busy, very very busy. Onto some yummy soup now.

Winter in Hyderabad is pleasantly chill and the perfect time to whet the appetite with a bowl of soup. The array of winter vegetables makes soup making an enjoyable chore. Add a bunch of aromatics like fresh ginger, garlic or lemon grass, a dash of warming spices like nutmeg and bay leaves and you have a robust soup. 

Carrots and Sweet Potato are an excellent combination for a soup. They have a natural sweetness which gets enhanced while cooking and the addition of garam masala imparts a nice kick to warm it up. Perfect for the winter months with the subtle sweetness of sweet potato and carrot, this delicious thick soup is nutritious and a great meal in itself. Serve with toasted bread and dinner is done!

Creamy Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Time Taken (30 minutes including cooling time)

Ingredients (Serves 2)

Carrots 2 medium, peeled and cut into chunks

Sweet Potato 3 medium, peeled and cut into chunks

Onion 1 small, finely chopped

Celery Sticks 1, about 4-5 inches, chopped

Cumin Powder ½ teaspoon

Garam Masala ½ teaspoon

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Stock Cube 1

Water 3 cups

Olive oil 2 teaspoon

  • In a pressure cooker, warm the olive oil, saute the onion till translucent.

  • Add the cumin powder half the garam masala and fry for a minute,stirring.

  • Add the celery, cubed potato and carrot and saute till they are beginning to get a few golden edges.

  • Add the water and the stock cube, half the salt and close the lid of the cooker.

  • Cook for 2 whistles on high heat, reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release.

  • Open the cooker, drain the vegetables out with a strainer, add to a blender and blend till creamy.

  • Now add the pureed vegetables to the broth, simmer on a low flame, taste for salt and adjust. Add freshly ground pepper and the rest of the garam masala. Serve hot with toasted bread.

Day 2 ~ Spicy Asian Style Vegetable Broth with Buckwheat Noodles

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Wishing all my readers A Very Happy & Warm Diwali. May your homes and hearts be filled with the love of your family and friends, your tummies full and your lives happy.

Spicy Asian Broth

Spicy Asian Broth

There is nothing that punctures the ego of a food blogger better than a set of terrible pictures! If you know me well enough, some of my best experiments, trials and efforts never make it to the blog because it would have been demolished even before I reached out for the camera. Sometimes, I would have made something which I felt was not blog worthy and after spooning in a mouthful, reached out to take a picture because the recipe / dish surpassed my expectation. Such is the life.

This Asian Style vegetable broth with noodles was made after a tired day, when the last thing I wanted to do was to slave in the kitchen. I put together whatever vegetables I had, seasoned it well and threw in some noodles for a carb kick. It hit home all the right spots and made for a very satisfying dinner. Please pardon the crappy pictures, trust me when I say this soup was excellent.

Buck wheat noodles have a nice texture because they are thicker than refined flour noodles. I happened to have a pack which I used, replace with any noodles of your choice.

Spicy Asian Style Vegetable Broth with Buckwheat Noodles – Serves 2

Ingredients

1 medium Onion (sliced into semi circles)

1/2 cup Yellow Pumpkin (Remove the skin and slice into 1/4 inch thickness)

1/2 cup Mushrooms (I used King mushrooms, use any kind you have)

1/2 cup Spinach (remove the tough stems and chop roughly)

1/2 inch piece of fresh Ginger

1 small fresh red chilli (use dried red chilli soaked in a bit of warm water, discard water before using), crushed with a mortar and pestle

2 sprigs of fresh Basil

1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

freshly crushed pepper to taste

1 teaspoon sesame oil (or vegetable oil)

1 cup cooked Buckwheat Noodles

1 teaspoon of lemon juice (adjust to taste)

Method

Wash and slice/ dice all the vegetables.

Skin and crush the ginger roughly.

Cook the noodles as per the directions on the packet, drain and set aside.

In a deep saucepan, heat the oil and add the crushed ginger & red chilli. Fry for a few seconds, add the sliced onion, pumpkin and mushrooms and saute till the onion has turned translucent. Season with half the salt and pepper.

Add two cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 10-12 minutes or till the vegetables have cooked through. Skim off any scum that comes to the top with a spoon.

Add the cooked noodles and spinach and take off the heat, cover and let sit for 4-5 minutes.

Spoon into serving bowls, serve hot with a dash of lemon juice and a sprig of fresh basil.

Potato Basil Soup

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Potato Basil Soup

Potato Basil Soup

Its that time of the year again when we turn to soups and consider them real food! Just kidding, the rains are playing hide and seek with us Hyderabadis, but I do make a lot of soups to ensure dinner is not such a huge carb fest. I wanted to make a sweet potato soup, but when I turned to the few I believe were living in the vegetable tray in the kitchen, they had already been deceased a few days ago. Not to be deterred, I used a couple of regular potatoes and made this creamy filling soup to go with the freshly baked cornbread.

Potato Basil Soup

(Makes 3 servings – Time Taken 20 minutes)

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 small onion, chopped

4 cups of water + stock cube or 4 cups of stock (who am I kidding, I never have stock at home!)

1 small knob of ginger crushed or 1 teaspoon grated ginger

1/4 cup of milk

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon sugar

a few sprigs of fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

a teaspoon of olive oil

In a pan (i used a pressure cooker), heat the oil, add the onions and potatoes and saute for a minute till the onions change colour. Add the ginger and saute for a few seconds.

Add the water + stock cube or stock, half the basil and cover and cook till the potatoes are fully cooked. If doing this in the pressure cooker, 2-3 whistles is good enough.

When cool enough to handle, add the cooked mixture along with the milk into a blender jar / liquidiser and blend for a few minutes till everything is smooth and creamy.

Turn the soup back into the pot, add the salt, pepper and sugar and heat through. Garnish with the remaining fresh / dried basil and serve with crusty bread. I served this with corn bread and it was delicious.

Pumpkin & Red Bell Pepper Soup and Pesto Rolls Recipe

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The rains, they have arrived in our part of the world. The last few weeks have been the most gorgeous weather. To celebrate this, I am posting a nice recipe for a simple soup and some fabulous pesto rolls.  Nupur’s BB#4: Whats lurking in your kitchen made me look at my fridge with renewed interest and even tho the last date for entries is over, with the amount of stuff i have hoarded both in the fridge and the pantry, i will be continuing to cook for the next couple of weeks with ingredients already here.

OK enough now… onto the recipe….

For the Pesto Rolls, the recipe inspiration was from these gorgeous rolls. So the pesto sauce is the same that i used for the Spaghetti. And of course I had to make changes to the recipe for the roll. Swapping the All purpose Flour with whole wheat etc. I also skipped the cheese (I know cheese makes everything more awesome, but really, I do not need cheese in my life… not at this point).

For the Pesto Rolls (makes 24 small rolls)

1/2 Cup Pesto from this recipe

3 cups flour, you can use All Purpose, I used 2 cups Whole Wheat and 1 Cup APF

1 teaspoon dried yeast

1 cup water (warm)

1/2 cup milk (warm)

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together the sugar, water and milk. Add the yeast, mix well and leave it on the counter top to bloom (about 15-30 mins). in a large bowl, add the flours, salt and mix. Add the milk- water mix and knead to a smooth dough. You can also do this in a food processor. Oil a bowl with the olive oil and place this dough in the bowl, turn to coat with the oil and cover and set aside till it doubles in size, about 1 hr.

Punch the dough down and knead it for 2-3 minutes till it is nice and elastic. divide into two large portions and shape into a ball rolling it between your palms.

Flour a clean rolling surface with a little bit of dry flour. I use my stone counter top. With a rolling pin, roll out to a 1/4th of an inch thickness. you can roll into a rectangular shape, i just rolled it out round.

Spread the pesto with a blunt knife in a thin even layer. Pick up one end of the dough and roll it into a spiral. with both your palms, make a roll like a swiss roll. gently move it onto a chopping board and slice into 11/2 inch pieces. (they can be frozen at this point and baked straight out of the freezer when needed) Place on a baking tray and leave them to rise for about 45 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 375degrees F and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. When done and still hot, brush with some melted butter. I shaped a few into croissants just for fun and ended up with about 24 small rolls. enjoy while still warm with a hot bowl of soup.

Pumpkin and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup (serves 3)

1 medium sized red bell pepper

1 cup yellow pumpkin,skinned and cubed

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 ripe red tomato, chopped

1 teablespoon olive oil or butter

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup of milk (i used skimmed milk)

Roast the Red bell pepper on and open flame till charred, keep it in a tightly closed container (or a zip lock bag) to sweat. scrape off the charred skin, seeds and stalk and chop up the flesh into small pieces.

Heat the butter/ oil in a pressure cooker. Add the chopped garlic and saute till aromatic. Add the chopped onions, pumpkin pieces and saute for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and red bell peppers, salt and 3 cups of hot water and pressure cook for 2 whistles. When the pressure releases, open the cooker, pour into the blender jar and pulse till everything is incorporated. Strain with a soup strainer to remove the skins of tomato etc. pour it back into the pressure cooker, add the milk , oregano and pepper and heat through, stirring constantly. Taste to check for seasoning and adjust. Serve hot or cold.

Back to the Pavilion and a Comforting Noodle Soup Recipe (using instant noodles)

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vacation

It was a superb impromptu vacation. To see a part of the country you didn’t know what to expect from. It was so wonderful and exciting, that i even forgot to fuss over turning a year older!! We had a lovely time, i came back with fabulous memories, a tonne of photographs, the joy of having met a dear friend and gratitude for my namesake who graciously opened her home to K and me. Also came back with severe sun burn (the skin on my neck is still peeling) and K is a little under the weather! I hope to blog about all the places we saw in a while. for now, let me just say, much as i had a fabulous time, coming back home after literally sleeping in a new bed each night was so wonderful!

For now, since K is down with a cold and little bit of fever post this hectic trip and the weather in Hyderabad has pleasantly cooled off to welcome the not so heavy rains, i decided to make a simple vegetable soup / broth with noodles. i never quite liked chicken soup even when i was a meat eater, preferring to have the vegetable version of it always. now that i am vegetarian, i am a little  amazed at the flavours the soup takes on. I’d like to feed this soup to all those people who think vegetables and particularly soup made from them will only be tasteless.

Noodle Soup

Noodle Soup

This is a real easy and simple soup and can be made with any veggies you may have at hand. Plus its kind of like and open and shut case. Just toss everything you need into a pot (I used a pressure cooker), let it all cook and simmer for 15-20 minutes while you go and refresh yourself after a hard day’s labour and dinner is ready!

Noodle Soup (Ingredients make for 2 Large servings)

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup ripe tomatoes, diced

1 cup vegetables of choice (i used florets of cauliflower and diced carrots)

21/2 cups water

salt to taste

1/2 tsp butter or olive oil

1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger and garlic

5-6 black peppercorns, crushed

6-7 fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 cup cooked noodles, i used the flat instant variety

method: heat the pressure pan and add the butter / olive oil. add the onions and other veggies and saute till the onions are just changing colour. add the ginger and garlic and saute another few seconds. add the tomatoes, water, crushed pepper and salt to taste. cover and cook till the vegetables are just cooked. i cooked it under pressure for one whistle.

open the cooker and check for seasoning. add the cooked noodles, add the chopped mint leaves and simmer about 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.

If you want more liquid and less noodles, adjust accordingly.

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