Vegetarian Concoctions

July 26, 2007

Red Cabbage Morkootu

Filed under: Curd/Yogurt, Kootu, Red cabbage, Salads and Raita, South Indian, Tamilnadu — Hema @ 11:41 am

I am not an adventurous shopper when it comes to vegetables. My grocery list never features vegetables that I have not tasted. Bad! you may say for a food blogger…and I agree. I had not tried a new vegetable for almost 2 years after coming to the US and my husband on the other hand had stories to tell me on his cooking adventures as a bachelor. Anyone who knows him would have definitely heard this story least a few times.

During his first few weeks in the US, hubby spots Brussels sprouts in the grocrey store and they look like miniature cabbages. He buys a few, gets them home, steams them, adds salt and pepper and tastes. They are good! He loves them. So, now on he decides they will be a regular in his grocery list. Now, the story gets exciting. The next visit to the store, he spots Habanero peppers. Ah! cute little bell peppers, he thinks, ‘will be great for sambhar’. He buys about 30 and heads home to concoct the sambhar he will remember for a lifetime! And the fact that surprised me most was that he made it a point to finish all that sambhar in the next 4-5 days. I have to mention this here….he makes the best sambhar and he was my sambhar guru after we got married. But this definitely does not justify his courageous act.

I guess I just play it safe when it comes to food:) Anyway, I had been eyeing the red cabbage for a while and never actually bought them. Reason – hubby tried them once and said they tasted bitter to him. From a few shows on food network and a few recipies blogged by friends here I gathered enough courage to get a veggie-never-tried-before. What’s the big deal, you may think, but you see…I hate wasting or thowing away food in any form. So, I like to make sure we consume what we buy. This is what I ended up making with it two times within a week. It just tasted so good!

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Red cabbage – 1/2

Curd – 2 cups

Turmeric – a pinch

Salt to taste

For Grinding:

Black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Dry red chilli – 1

Green chillies – 2

Jeera / cumin – 1 tsp

Coconut (shredded) – 2 tbsp

Curry leaves – 6-7

Tur dal soaked for 1/2 hr (optional) – 1 tsp

For garnishing:

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Tur dal – 1 tsp

Hing – a pinch

Curry leaves – a few

Oil – 2 tsp

Shread the cabbage and boil it with salt, in enough water to cover it. Grind the ‘for grinding’ ingredients above with minimum water. Once the cabbage is cooked, add the ground paste. Cook for a few minutes and reduce the heat. Beat the curds with the turmeric and add it to the pot. Let this heat through, but do not let it boil. Garnish.
Mor kootu is almost like avial. It goes very well with kalanda sadam (mixed rice like pulihorai, mint rice, coconut rice, lemon rice etc)

March 15, 2007

Pudina pacchadi(Raita)

Filed under: Curd/Yogurt, Mint leaves, Salads and Raita, South Indian — Hema @ 2:02 pm

Simplicity is a virtue. Be it a human’s character or a food’s preparation. Exotic is good and fun for a change, but definitely not for keeps. A man could be a great fan of Aishwarya Rai, but isn’t the simple girl next door his true love?(unless, of course, the man happens to be Abhishek B ūüėÄ ) Likewise, eating out is fun. But, is not simple dal-chawal or thair samdam (curd rice) the ultimate comfort food?

A simple yet elegent companion for your favourite rice treat. That is the way I would like to introduce this pachaddi. No hard work, minimal cooking time, but unequalled satisfaction to the tongue. Looking to make a quick side dish to go with your meal? This is it! So friends, keep it simple, keep it sweet and before I start sounding too much like Sandra Lee and you think I am making something semi-homemade, here goes:

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Mint leaves – a bunch

Curd – 3 cups

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Udad dal – 1 tsp

Hing – a pinch

Oil – 1 tsp

Salt – to taste

Chop up the mint leaves coarsely. Heat up some oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter add the udad dal and hing. After the dal browns up, add the mint leaves and cook for a minute. Add the curd and salt after it cools down. Now, simply serve it with rice or paratha.

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 Р1/3 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. 

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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 Рto taste

Oil – 2 tsp

For tempering:

Rai Р1 1/2  tsp

Udad dal Р1 tsp

hing Рa 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.

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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.

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

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