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Category Archives: vegan

{Quick Recipe} Baby Brinjals with Ginger and Kalonji

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Baby Brinjals

Baby Brinjals

I did a column recently for the newspaper I write for, emphasizing that most beginners in the kitchen shy away from Indian cooking on a weeknight because we think it is complicated, uses too many ingredients and is a multi step process. While this is true for elaborate recipes, there are an astounding number of dishes that can be made in under 20 minutes. For instance this brinjal dish, I like to make it with the freshest and most tender green baby brinjals I can find. With a light seasoning of kalonji, this cooks in less than 10 minutes. Perfect for a week night dinner and pairs well with both rice and roti.

This recipe can be made with any kind of brinjals, although I strongly recommend the green ones.

Baby Brinjals Saute ~ with Nigella Seeds (Kalonji) and Fresh Ginger

Baby Green Brinjals                    250 grams, stems removed and quartered

Onion                                             1 small, sliced (optional)

Green Chilli                                   1, finely chopped or crushed with a mortar and pestle

Fresh Ginger                                 1/2 inch piece, grated

Vegetable Oil                                 1 teaspoon

Kalonji or Nigella Seeds               1 teaspoon

Fresh Coriander Leaves              1 small bunch

Salt                                                  to taste

In a pan, heat the oil over medium heat till hot but not smoking. Make sure the oil is not overheated, as the kalonji seeds will burn easily and become bitter.

Splutter the kalonji seeds, add the onions and quartered brinjal together and saute for about 3-4 minutes, till the vegetables begin to wilt.

Add the crushed green chilli, grated ginger and salt to taste and stir. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-9 minutes, checking to see that the vegetable doesn’t stick to the pan.

Stir in the fresh coriander leaves, remove from the heat and serve hot with rice or rotis.

This dish cooks in the moisture from the brinjal, in steam because it is covered. If you prefer open pan cooking, sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of water every few minutes, till the vegetable is cooked.

Baby Brinjals

Baby Brinjals

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 5 ~ {DIY} Lemon Infused Olive Oil for Salads and Soups

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Lemon Infused Oil

Lemon Infused Oil

The aroma of a scented oil to finish off a salad or soup is enticing. After eyeing some fragrant flavoured oils on some online stores, I decided it wouldn’t be so difficult to make some myself. The process is quite simple and yet, the resulting oil is such a great add on to finish a dish.

This oil is best made in small batches to retain its freshness and aroma. Citrus is my favourite flavour / scent profile and I have made another batch with Orange peel.

Lemon Infused Olive Oil (Makes 1/2 cup)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil                    1/2 cup

Fresh Lemons                                2-3

Wash and pat dry the lemons, with a peeler, peel off the skin of the lemons in thin strips like ribbons. Make sure you do not scrape too much of the white part, as it renders the oil bitter and useless.

In a saucepan, gently heat the olive oil till warm (do not bring to a boil) drop the strips of lemon rind into this and heat for 4-5 minutes at the same temperature, ensuring the oil does not come to a boil.

Take off the heat and cover the saucepan and leave to cool completely.

Transfer the oil and rinds to a sterilised, clean glass bottle and cap it shut.

Use as required to garnish soups, make salad dressings or simply add to pasta/ salads.

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.

Day 1 ~ Brown Rice Salad ~ Blogging Marathon

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DSC_0372

My comfort food is rice. When I have nothing else to cook with, no vegetables, no mood, no time, unexpected guests… basically anything to give me an excuse to eat rice will be taken! The fact that I hate getting flour under my nails is one of the main reasons I love rice.   I am a self respecting Rice eating south Indian and never feel ‘full’ if my meal is made up of only roti 😦 is my main motivation.

So when I wanted to make a robust salad and make a whole meal of it, my choice of carbohydrate naturally was rice. I used brown rice and I do believe this is what adds a nice texture to this salad. Brown rice, either you love it or you hate it. Our palate these days is so attuned to silky white polished rice, that any different texture just doesn’t feel like rice. I began experimenting with brown rice a few years ago and the Escapades household has a very clear verdict – No brown rice stuff for K.

So while I stock atleast 5 different kinds of rice in the pantry, I use most of them when I am cooking a meal just for myself. At best, K will eat it when disguised as mushy pongal or khichdi.

This salad is a filling nutritious meal and can be had both warm and at room temperature. Brown rice doesn’t refrigerate very well. So any leftovers need to be consumed within a day or two. This is a dish that is very versatile, increase the amount of rice by double and serve as a pulav, swap the brown rice with cooked white rice or even cooked pasta if you are not fond of its taste.

Warm Brown Rice Salad with Vegetables – Serves 2

Brown Rice                                         ½ cup, washed and soaked for 20 minutes

Onion                                                  1 medium

Red bell pepper                                 1 medium

Zucchini                                               ½ a small one

Carrot                                                  1 medium

Red chilli flakes                                  ½ teaspoon

Lemon juice                                        1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Olive oil                                              1 tablespoon

Oregano                                              ½ teaspoon (dried)

Garlic                                                   1 pod, sliced

Fresh Coriander Leaves                    1 small bunch

In a pressure cooker, add the rice and 11/2 cups of water, cook for 3 whistles and then lower the flame and cook for 10 minutes till done.

When the pressure releases, open the cooker, fluff the rice with a fork. If there is water at the bottom, drain it with a sieve. Set aside.

If you do not like the taste or texture of brown rice, you can use regular white rice for this dish.

Peel the carrot and cut into small cubes. Chop the onions, zucchini and bell peppers into the same size as the carrots.

In a pan, heat the olive oil and fry the garlic slices till they are golden brown, remove them carefully to a small plate and set aside.

In the same oil, add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes, covered.

Add the onions, bell peppers and zucchini pieces and stir and cook for 2 minutes, add the oregano, salt, red chilli flakes, and part of the fresh coriander and stir. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, add the cooked brown rice to the vegetables and stir gently. Taste and check for salt, adjust if needed. Add the lemon juice and remaining coriander and stir gently. Serve immediately.

{Vegan MoFo 2013} Fruit Hedgehog ~ No Cooking

Fruit Hedgehog

Fruit Hedgehog

Happy Onam to all those celebrating. The Sadya today and yesterday (because it was a holiday and everyone in the family were home) at my MIL’s place was outstanding! It amazes me how she cooks multiple items with patience and enthusiasm. In a decade now, I have never seen her skimping on effort. Waking up early and standing for hours at the stove to make a delicious spread for festivals, birthdays and scheduled rituals. Just thinking of the number of dishes makes me dizzy.

Today I am sharing a method (not so much a recipe) of putting together an attractive fruit hedgehog. This is something you could use as a center piece on your table, add to the dessert offering or use it as a fun activity to keep a couple of kids engrossed for a couple of hours… If you have a fussy child, who refuses to eat fruit, this is a fun way to get them interested in shapes and colors and encourage them to eat the end product.

Fruit Hedgehog (Makes 1)

Orange                                               1, cut in half

Watermelon Cubes                        1 cup

Grapes or plums                             1 cup

Kiwi                                                     2, skin removed and cut into 1 inch cubes

(Use any firm fruit of your choice which will hold its shape, you could use apple, pear, firm papaya or musk melon etc

Slice the orange into half and place the cut side downwards in a plate.

skewer 2 – 3 cubes of fruit of different colours including the grapes onto a toothpick and stick the sharp end into the orange, about 1/4 inch inside to hold it in place. Continue with all the fruit and place the skewers on the orange to cover it completely. Cut a tiny triangle from the rind of the watermelon for the eyes or use a couple of raisins to make eyes. Place in the fridge for atleast 30 minutes before serving chilled.

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