Vegetarian Concoctions

September 28, 2006

Black Bean – corn salsa

Filed under: Black beans, Corn, Mexican, Salads and Raita, Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 4:59 pm

Last night just before calling it a day, I remembered that we had a potluck arranged at work today to celebrate a colleague’s birthday. The theme was tacos. I had promised to make something too. I had plans of making enchiladas, but I certainly didn’t have that sort of time or energy or for that matter, ingredients. I conversed with myself for the next couple minutes.

‘I’ll just buy a pack of taco shells from the grocery store on the way to work’

‘but come on, someone would have thought of that! Its a taco party afterall. How lame.’

‘How about some chips?’

‘So, what was Tanya getting? Didnt she mention buying chips? Wish I could remember’

‘I wonder if anybody is getting anything vegetarian. I should have peeked into the sign up sheet.’

‘How about buying a cake on the way to work? Dessert need not be Mexican.’

‘Maria bakes one everytime we have a  potluck. No one is going to touch the cake bought from the store when there is a home-made one around. Actually, I hope she gets her cake. It has been a while since I have had her’s.’

‘How about making bean salsa? I think I have everything I need in my pantry. Let me check.’

As, I hurried downstairs, hubby enquired what the deal was

‘Have a taco party at work tomorrow. Going down to see what I can make’.

‘Make? Now? Are you crazy? I just cleaned up the stovetop and you want to mess it up again? Why dont you just buy some tacos on the way to work tomorrow?’

‘Really? Thanks. I wont touch the stove…I promise’

Bean and corn salsa is a recipe I got from one of my husband’s colleagues. The first time I had it at her place, I could’nt believe how good it tasted. I just had to have the recipe and she was kind enough to email it to me the very next day. Since then, I usually keep a couple cans of black beans and corn handy. The recipe called for 2 cans of black beans and one can of whole kernal corn. I had the corn, but just one can of black bean.

‘I’ll make do and work with what I have. It is too late to start another conversation with myself.’

With that, I got to work. Pulled out my food processor and the ingredients:

Black beans – 2 cans (I used just one for the lack of supplies)

Whole corn Kernals – 1 can (You can use fresh corn, but it tastes the same)

Red onion – 1 large

Cilantro – 1/2 bunch (about 1/2 cup chopped)

Cherry tomatoes – 2  cups ( I used 2  medium roma tomatoes. Didn’t have cherry tomatoes)

Jalapeno pepper slices – 1/3 cup for Indian spice (I used less than 1/4 cup , considering the American crowd at work)

Key limes – 4-5 nos.

Drain the corn and put it directly into your serving bowl. Add the Black bean as it is. Do not drain it out. Finely chop onions  and add it to the bean-corn mix. Put the jalapenos, cilantro and tomatoes into the food processor and chop them up coarsely. Add this to the bowl. Finally squeeze in at least 4 -5 limes (about 1/4 cup). Mix all this together and the salsa is ready. Extra salt will not be needed since the bean and corn are already salted. Add if required. The flavour of lime may seem overpowering at first, but it softens down after a while. Serve with lime flavoured tortilla chips.  It was a big hit at our potluck today and everone thought it could be called a salsa that was also a salad. 




September 26, 2006


Filed under: General, Meme — Hema @ 5:31 pm


by Manasi for ‘Five things to eat before I die’. Thanks Manasi! Given a choice I would rather say – ‘Five things to eat during my lifetime’. It means the same thing, you may say. But hey! in my defence I am not the only person who has said so! At least 5 of my fellow bloggers have said they dont want to die so soon. My mothers food is the first I can think of, but I know this is a list of specific food items and amma’s food is a list in itself. So, apart from my amma’s, patti’s and now my mother-in-laws food, these are my favourites:

1. Pani poori at a lorry-stall called ‘Jai Hanuman chat bhandar’ at a bus-stop near my school in Hyderabad. I have missed buses to eat there with a good friend of mine. Those were days when we used to get 12 poories for a Rupee.

2. Masala chai at a small stall outside our college in Baroda. Our department was on the Baroda highway and apart from our gang of friends, the only other visitors the stall had were lorry drivers.

3. Elaichi Doodh at a small store (I dont remember the name) at Baroda in Fatehgunj. My best friend and I have many fond memories of our time spent chit-chatting there.

4. Mushroom quesadillas at Trudy’s in Austin, TX. Located on 30th street near the UT campus, they serve the most amazing Mexican food. I can just live on their chips and salsa.

5. Item number 5D on the lunch menu at Thai Kitchen in Austin, TX. My room-mates and I were regulars at this restaurant. It is basically fried rice with indian curry flavouring, some veggies and tofu. All four of us were vegetarians and it was funny how we all went to the table and were ready to order as soon as we sat down. The waiter would go around the table asking each one of us what we wanted, and he would get the same response 4 times – ‘5D and a spring roll’.

I travelled down the memory lane while writing this up and this has brought back memories of time spent with all my friends in different phases of my life. They have moved on with their lives just as I have. I am in touch with some of them and hope that I would meet the others sometime, somewhere. I will cherish these memories forever. I wish I can eat these five things with my friends just the way we used to. I really wish I could during my lifetime.

I tag Maheswari.

September 25, 2006

Vendakkai pacchadi (Bhindi raita)

Filed under: Microwave, Okra, Salads and Raita, South Indian, Tamilnadu — Hema @ 2:09 pm

Microwave has slowly become a default appliance in everybody’s kitchen. It has made life easy and saved time for every house-hold around the globe. Though it is mainly used for re-heating food, simple preparations can be prepared without much effort. In fact, a friend of mine uses the microwave for making everything including sambhar, rasam and curries. Though I am facinated by her methods, I am comfortable cooking the conventional way and using the microwave just for certain things. I love making appalam (papad) and vadams in the microwave. Just rub a little bit of oil on the papad and microwave it for 30-40 seconds and they look like they have been fried…well almost. But who cares? It helps me reduce my oil intake. My mom was totally against the use of microwaves a few years back, but now she has started teaching me recipes to make better use of my machine. This pacchadi is one of her recipes too. The bhindi stays crisp and crunchy for a long time after adding the curd. Here’s what you need

Bhindi – about 15

Curd – 1 1/2 cups

Salt – to taste

Red chilli pwd – to taste

Oil – 2 tsp

For tempering:

Rai – 1 1/2  tsp

Udad dal – 1 tsp

hing – a pinch

Cut the Bhindi and add oil and 1/2 of the required salt to  it.  Mix it well so that all the pieces are coated with oil and salt evenly. Put this in a microwavable glass container and microwave it on medium power for 4 minutes. Always use glass. Plastic will melt! Here is how it looks after 4 minutes.


Now add the remaining salt and chilli pwd and mix well. If you like the bhindi to look deep fried like I do, microwave for another 4 minutes. It will turn black but dont worry, it will taste great. If you would like to retain the green color, microwave for 2.5 to 3 minutes. It will still be as crisp.  Here is my charred bhindi.


Temper with rai, udad dal and hing.  Add the curd just before serving.


September 21, 2006


Filed under: General — Hema @ 4:38 pm

I had mentioned in my very first post that my eyes would be on the blog stats for a while and they sure have been. Guess what??? the counter just crossed 1000 and no, I have not spent my time clicking on the refresh button. Thank you all for visiting and I hope I could impart some good ideas. I really wanted to do something special for my 1000th visitor. Something in these lines…..


But alas, I am limited by my knowledge of writing codes for making windows pop up from nowhere. Sigh…there are times when I wish I were a computer geek. Maybe someday…..maybe the 10000th visitor or maybe……..


GUJARAT. The place. The beauty. The people. The language. The festivals. The food. What can I say? I can never get enough of it. I spent most of my growing years in Ahmedabad and Baroda. This place has a rustic charm that you learn to love. The simplicity, straightforwardness and hospitality of the people you learn to respect. The language in its various forms is beautiful. The colors of the festivals especially garba during Navratri is enchanting and the food….oh I am lost for words now. A lot of people from other places do not like the sweet that goes into every food item that is prepared, but the taste grows on you slowly and it stays. In fact a lot of times, preparations do not taste as good without a little bit of the sweet ingredient – Sugar!

Khaman, is one of my favourite Guju preparations – more commonly and wrongly called dhokla in other parts of the nation. Dhokla is very different from khaman and I will blog about it some other time. But for now, here is an easy khaman recipe that I hope you will all make and enjoy. I got this recipe from Tarla dalal’s site and modified it a little bit.

Besan (Chickpea flour)        1 cup

Rava (Sooji)                      1 1/2 tbsp

Citric acid crystals               1/2 tsp

Ginger, chilli paste               1 tbsp

Salt                                   1 tsp

Sugar                                2 1/2 tsp

Baking soda                       1 1/4 tsp

For the garnish

Oil                                     1 1/2 tbsp

Mustard seeds (rai)             2 tsp

Hing                                  a pinch

Green chillies                       2-3 nos

Coriander leaves (cilantro)     2-3 tbsp

Grated coconut (optional)     2 tsp

Seasme seeds (til) (optional) 1 tsp

Water                                  1 cup

Mix all the ingredients except the baking soda. Add about 3/4 cup of water. I usually grind about a tsp of ginger and 1 chilli in 3/4 cup of water since I never buy ginger-chilli paste. The batter should be about the consistancy of dosa batter. Add little more water if required. There are two ways of preparing the khaman, steaming or microwaving. Microwaving is easier but khaman tends to become too dry and rubbery if you keep it out long (2-3 hrs). I would recommend microwaving only if you want to eat it up as soon as you prepare it.

Steaming: Apply some oil to a deep, flat bottomed stainless steel vessel (like a cake pan) that fits into your pressure cooker. Pour some water into the cooker and let it boil up. Once the water boils, add the baking soda to the batter and whip it up. It should froth up. Pour it into the prepared vessel to half the height (about 3/4 inch). Remember, the batter is going to rise up further and it needs some space. If you think the amount of batter is too much for your vessel’s capacity, just do it in batches and make sure you add the baking soda just before steaming each batch. Place it into the cooker at an elevated level making sure no water gets into it from the sides. Close the cooker and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Do not put the weight on the cooker. (This is done just like idlis).

Microwaving: Use a plastic/glass container that has a flat bottom and apply oil it. Add the baking soda to the batter and half-fill the container. Microwave for 4 minutes.

After steaming/microwaving, do the needle test and make sure it comes out clean. Let the khaman cool down and then transfer it to a plate and cut it into large squares. The original recipe by tarla dalal called for 1 1/2 tsp of eno fruit salt instead of salt and soda. Again, if you use eno, add it right before steaming or microwaving.If you have microwaved it, sprinkle some water on the khaman. For the garnish, heat up some oil and add mustard seeds. After they splutter, add hing and chillies and then pour it over the prepared khaman. Decorate with cilantro, coconut and til and you are done.


September 19, 2006

Vital Advise

Filed under: General — Hema @ 4:39 pm


September 13, 2006

Idlis – The easy way out!

Filed under: Rice Flour, Snacks and Appetizers, South Indian, Udad flour — Hema @ 12:09 pm

I am a working mom and there are days when I get back from work just to start another 8 hour shift. There will be more than a few of you who can relate to my schedule. Apart from weekends, I usually indulge in short-cuts to cook up a supper that is both nutritious and easy to put together. Hailing from the south, we usually had either idli or dosai batter at home on any given day and my mom, who was a working mom herself, found it convenient to get a stock of batter ready for the week lest her kids should come home from school rubbing their tummies. I am sure all of you would agree with me that the best batter is delivered by the wet grinder. I was devoid of this precious commodity until last year when my in-laws gifted me one. Before then, I made idlis the ‘no-grinding’ way. Though, it was not the perfect idli, it was very close and definitely better and economical than the ready to make idli mixes. The ingredients are available at any indian store.

Rice pwd                1 cup

Udad pwd               1 cup

Idli rava                  1 cup

Fast rising yeast      1 1/2 tsp

salt to taste

Just mix these ingredients in warm water to the idli batter consistancy. Place it in the oven or any warm place overnight to rise and thats that! Its that easy. Though I dont make Idlis this way any more since i have graduated and have been awarded the ultra grinder, I thought this recipe could be useful to some of you who are yet to graduate.

Updated: 09/27

One of my friends complained that the idli she made using this recipe smelt of yeast, though the taste and texture was just perfect. I would recommend reducing the amount of yeast to about 1/2 tsp in that case. Varieties differ and some yeast may just be more active than the others!

September 11, 2006

Bread rolls

Filed under: North Indian, Potato, Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 1:56 pm

Bread rolls reminds me of my school days when amma used to prepare this snack quite so often, and my brother and I used to devour these rolls as if we were born to eat and just eat. Though I have made bread rolls more times than I can count, they have never tasted close to what my mother makes. Maybe it is just the extra bit of affection she puts into all her recipes. There is always something about mom’s preparations…even if it is simple curd rice, when mixed with her hands…adds that unique flavour. Hmm….flavoured hands;) This is now one of my husband’s favourite snack and hopefully someday my daughter’s too once she is old enough to realize that her 10-something teeth are not just for biting her mom’s fingers:)

what you need:

Stale bread                   8 slices

Potatoes                      4 medium

Green chilies                 3-4

Jeera pwd                    2 tsp

Ginger                         1 tbsp

Chopped coriander leaves           3 tbsp     

Hing                            a pinch

Turmeric                      a pinch

Garam masala(optional) 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Lime juice                    1 1/2 tsp

Oil for frying

Boil the potatoes. Ginger could be cut into small pieces or grated/pureed. Add in all the ingredients except bread and mash well. To prepare the rolls, first sprinkle some water on a bread slice, just enough to soak it. Press the bread in-between your hands and squeeze out all the extra water. It is ok if the bread tears, just patch it back up. I generally use left-over bread. This recipe tastes best with white bread that is not very soft. Take some of the potato filling and press it in your palms with your fingers, as if kneading a dough. Place this in the centre of the bread slice. Close the filling with the bread and press it into an oval shape. You can either make small rolls with one slice or big ones with two slices filled accordingly. Deep fry in oil till dark brown in color. Serve hot with ketchup.




September 1, 2006

Minestrone Soup

Filed under: Italian, Mixed Veggies, Soups — Hema @ 3:16 pm

I love drinking soups. Drinking? or is it eating? Hey! do we eat or drink soups? hmm……

I just got back from a google search hoping to find a good answer. I thought I could do two searches ‘eat soup’ and ‘drink soup’ and decided to go with the one that generated more links with the phrase. I typed in ‘eat soup’ first. Some links popped up but I did not get a convincing answer. ‘Drink soup’ was typed in next, and Lo behold! the very first link said – Google answers: Do you eat or drink soup?. Apparently people have been smarter  than me and thought about this before:)…and long live google. Forget the internet, I dont think I can think of life without google. Soup, as I understand, is eaten. Mainly because you dont pour it into a beverage glass and gulp it down (though I do it a lot of times when I have left over soup). It has to be relished with a spoon, sip by sip. The second important reason being, more often than not, it has veggies that have not been pureed. So is the case with minestrone soup. Definitely not one of the soups that can be drunk…not even leftovers. It is a wholesome, nutritious and delicious meal in itself. Here is the recipe.
Blanched, peeled and Chopped tomatoes                     1 cup

Chopped Onions                         1/2 cup

Corn kernals                               1/2 cup

Peas                                          1/2 cup

Diced Carrots                             1/2 cup

Chopped Yellow squash               1/2 cup

Chopped Zucchini                       1/2 cup

Chopped Celery                          1/2 cup

Pinto or Kidney beans (Rajma)     1 cup

Fresh basil leaves                       8 – 10 nos.

Dried Basil                                 1 tbsp

Dried oregano                            1 tsp

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Sugar                                       1 tsp

Butter                                      1 tbsp

White vinegar                            1 tsp

Small shell pasta                        1/4 cup (uncooked)

Olive oil                                    2 tbsp

Chop all the vegetables into about 1/2 cm pieces. Heat up the olive oil and saute the onions till they are transparent. Add the tomatoes and cook them till they are soft. Add the remaining veggies. Add enough water to cover up the vegetables and put a lid on the pot. Let this simmer on a medium heat till all the vegetables are well cooked. This should take about 20-25 minutes. Mash it up lightly with the spoon. Dilute the soup if you like it more watery. Infact, using vegetable broth instead of water is a good way to enhance the flavour of the soup. Add the dried basil and oregano leaves, salt, sugar, pepper, vinegar, butter and the beans. The canned beans work just as well. Make shell or any small size pasta according to package instructions. I break up spaghetti into very small pieces if I dont have any other small pasta. The cooked pasta goes in next. Finally add in fresh whole basil leaves and stir the soup lightly. Make sure you do not mash the beans or pasta. Serve hot with bread.



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