Cook's Hideout: April 2009

April 30, 2009

Tried & Tasted: Lisa’s Kitchen

Lisa’s blog Food and Spice is filled with so many yummy looking recipes that I was totally stumped on where to begin and where to end. I had way too many recipes bookmarked to try in so little time, so these are the ones that I tried for Aparna’s Tried & Tasted – Lisa’s Kitchen (Zlamushka of Burntmouth is the brain behind T&T). But I’m sure I’m going to go back and try all those that I bookmarked later.

Mushroom Pulao: My husband’s away for the past 10 days and I’m enjoying mushrooms like there’s no tomorrow. He doesn’t like mushrooms at all and I seem to like them, so I end up cooking mushrooms when he’s not around. Lisa’s pilaf is for mushroom lovers like me.

Black Bean & Corn bake: Weather’s been a little up and down last couple of days. It was in the upper 80s with A/C on cool for 4 days and suddenly plummeted to upper 50s. So turning the oven on for this dish made the home smell wonderful and warm. Simple and delicious recipe that I’ll be making many many times.


April 28, 2009

Thai Inspired Fried Rice

I say Thai "inspired" because I used ingredients like lemon grass, green curry paste, coconut milk that are used widely in Thai cooking, but I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the manner in which it was cooked. This is kind of “Passport to Thailand” kind of a recipe made using ingredients on hand.
It is also “clean your fridge for next week’s grocery shopping” recipe too.This dish came about while thinking of IVAW-Thai being guest hosted by talented Priya @ Akshayapaatram and looking at the stragglers in the fridge. Its A Vegan World is a monthly blog event started by Lovely Vaishali @ Holy Cow.
This makes a quick dinner and great for lunch boxes too. Here’s how I made it.

Basmati Rice – 1½ cups
Extra firm Tofu – 1 12 oz. package, drained and cubed
Mixed veggies – 3 cups (I used carrots, French cut beans, green pepper, peas)
Onion – 1 large, diced
Green chilies – 2, sliced
Scallions – 1 bunch, chopped
Green curry paste – 3tbsp (I used store-bought)
Coconut milk – ¼ cup (I used store-bought)
Ginger – 1” piece
Garlic – 2 cloves
Lemon grass – 2tbsp of the chopped soft fleshy part
Soy sauce – 2 tsp
Sambal Oleak – 1tsp (optional)
Salt & Pepper – to taste

  • Cook rice and keep aside to cool.
  • Heat 1tbsp oil in a large sauté pan on medium high; sauté tofu till lightly brown on all sides, about 10-12 minutes; remove from the pan and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add ginger, garlic, lemon grass and sauté for 30seconds.
  • Add green curry paste and sauté for couple of minutes until fragrant.
  • Next add all the veggies and stir-fry on medium high until crisp tender. Add coconut milk, salt and pepper; cook for 5 minutes until the mixture dries out just a little bit. Add cooked rice, mix well and cook until heated through, another 5 minutes. Enjoy this spicy fried rice with some raita.

April 26, 2009

Pongal & Tomato Raita

Pongal and tomato perugu pachadi (raita) is one of my favorite combos. My mom used to make them for weekend breakfast or for a quick dinner. Now I make them for my son and he seems to like them.

Rice - 1 cup (I use sona masoori rice)
Pesarapappu (Moong Dal) - 1/2 cup
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt & pepper - to taste

Tadka ingredients:
Ginger - 1" piece grated
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Hing - pinch
  • Cook rice & dal with 4 cups of water (or 2cups water & 2 cups milk) and turmeric
  • Heat 2tsp ghee in a saucepan, add the tadka ingredients and once the seeds splutter add the cooked rice & dal mixture. Mix well; season with salt & pepper. If the mixture is too dry, add water and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover and rest for couple of minutes.
In the meantime, prepare tomato raita. Heat 1tsp oil in a small saucepan, add 1/4tsp each of mustard and cumin seeds and 1 red chili; once the seeds splutter add 1 finely chopped tomato. Cover and cook until tomatoes turn mushy. Season with salt. Remove from heat and let cool for couple of minnutes. Add 1 cup of yogurt, mix well and enjoy with the pongal.

This goes to CFK-Rice being hosted by Trupti @ Recipe Center. Cooking For Kids is the brainchild of Sharmi @ Neivedyam.


April 23, 2009

Sprouted Matki Pulao (Moth Beans Pilaf)

I bought matki (moth beans) to make Sia’s hot & spicy Kohlapuri Misal, but I ended up making this mildly flavored pulao from Tarla Dalal’s site. I love Tarla Dalal and I used to watch her cooking show on Sony TV in India (this was long long time ago). I remember liking the co-host Sudhanshu too.. handsome guy.. ahem.. back to what I was saying about Tarla Dalal, her cooking looks very homemade, nothing fancy and this recipe is simplicity at its best. Just a couple of cloves, grated ginger and ground coriander mildly flavor the rice. Can be served with a paneer curry or even raitha.

Moth Beans – 1 cup, sprouted
Basmati rice – 1 cup
Spring onions – 4-6, chopped
Green pepper – 1 medium, chopped
Ginger – 1” piece
Green chili – 1
Cloves – 2
Ground Coriander – 1tsp
Red chili powder – 1tsp
Hing – pinch
Salt – to taste

  • Cook basmati and let cool.
  • Parboil matki sprouts; I pressure cooked them for 2 whistles and they were perfectly cooked, not mushy at all.
  • Heat 1tbsp oil in a sauté pan; add cloves and hing and sauté for a minute.
  • Add ginger, chili, spring onions, green pepper and cook till the veggies are tender.
  • Add coriander powder, red chili pd and matki.
  • Sauté for 4-5 minutes until all the flavors have mingled. If using parboiled moth beans, then add ½ cup of water and cook till the beans are tender.
  • Once the beans are tender, add rice and salt; mix well and serve.

  • This is my entry to April ’09 edition of Weekend Wokking-Sprouts started by Wandering Chopsticks and being hosted by Kits Chow.

    April 22, 2009

    Cooking For Kids-Rice

    I made two very basic rice recipes, Dhadhojanam (Curd Rice) & Bellam Paravaannam (Rice pudding with jaggery)for CFK-Rice event being hosted by Trupti @ Trupti’s Food Corner. CFK is the brain child of Sharmi @ Neivedyam.

    Here’s how I made them.
    • I washed, drained and soaked rice (I use Sona masoori rice) in 3 cups of water for about an hour, this will make sure that the rice cooks to a soft consistency.
    • Pressure cook with 2½ - 3 cups of water for 3 whistles (less or more whistles depending on your cooker).
    • For Rice Pudding: Take half the cooked rice in a saucepan, add milk and let it come to a simmer on medium-low flame. When it starts simmering add elaichi powder (cardamom) and badam feast (if using) and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from flame and add jaggery and mix well to incorporate. Since this was for my 18month old I did not add any nuts or raisins.
    • For Curd Rice: Let the other half rice cool just a little bit. Add yogurt and milk. In a small pan, heat 1tsp oil; when oil’s hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal (minapappu), red chili, green chili, grated ginger and hing. Once the seeds splutter add to the rice, along with pinch of turmeric and salt to taste. Mix well; let cool before serving. Sometimes I add grated carrots and zucchini to make it more nutritious.
    Rice – 1 cup

    Curd Rice:
    Yogurt – 1cup
    Milk – ½ cup
    Mustard seeds - ¼ tsp
    Cumin seeds - ¼ tsp
    Urad dal (minapappu) - ¼tsp
    Red chili – ½
    Green chili – ½ of medium, sliced
    Ginger - ½ tsp, grated
    Hing – pinch

    For Rice Pudding:
    Jaggery – ¾ - 1 cup, grated
    Milk – 1 – 1½ cups
    Elaichi powder (cardamom) – 1 tsp
    Badam Feast (MTR brand) – 2tbsp (optional)

    April 20, 2009

    Vegan Chocolate Brownies

    I have never baked brownies from scratch before. When I saw this recipe in Vegetarian Times, I just had to give it a try. This recipe uses soft tofu & unsweetened applesauce instead of butter and eggs and this is the first time I have used tofu to bake a dessert. One mistake I made was to buy soft tofu that was crumbly and not the silken type soft tofu which made the mixture look curdled before baking, but was fine after mixing all the ingredients together. Also I thought there was a very faint taste of tofu in the first brownie I tasted, but I didn’t taste it afterwards (may be I got used to the taste??) But all in all it’s a great recipe with 124 calories, 3gms of protein, 1gm total fat and 0g cholesterol.

    Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times magazine.


    Natural Cane Sugar - 2¼ cups (I used regular white sugar)

    All-purpose flour – 1¼ cups

    Unsweetened Cocoa powder – 1¼ cups

    Baking powder – 1½ tsp

    Baking Soda – 1½tsp

    Salt – 1/8tsp

    Soft Tofu – 1cup

    Unsweetened Applesauce – 1 cup

    Chocolate Soymilk – ¾ cup

    Vanilla essence – 2tsp


    • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9”x13” pan with cooking spray.
    • Combine sugar, flour, baking pd, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
    • Combine applesauce, tofu, chocolate milk & vanilla in a food processor; process until well blended.
    • Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well.
    • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until batter is set and the top is dry. Cool in the pan; cut into bars and enjoy.
    These brownies can be frozen for later use, but I bet there won't be too many left for freezing.
    This is my entry to Poornima’s (@ Tasty Treats) “For the Love of Chocolate” event.

    April 18, 2009

    Mixed Vegetables in Thai Yellow Curry Sauce

    It has been a little hectic at work this past week. Not much energy left to cook after coming home, so I took a shortcut route to make this mixed vegetable Thai curry. I used store bought Thai yellow curry sauce, but jazzed up a little bit for a quick weeknight dinner. This goes to talented Priya @ Akshayapaatram who is guest hosting IVAW-Thai. IVAW is the brain child of Vaishali @ Holy Cow.
    For all foodies who want to make Yellow curry paste from scratch, I'm giving the recipe from "Buddha's Table" by Chat Mingkwan at the end of the post.

    Extra Firm Tofu - 16oz. pkg, drained and cut into 1/2" pieces
    Carrot - 1 medium, diced
    Broccoli florets - 1 cup
    Green beans - 1/2 cup (I used frozen french cut beans)
    Red Onion - 1 medium, chopped
    Coconut milk - 1 cup (I used Lite coconut milk)
    Ginger - 1" piece grated
    Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
    Yellow Curry sauce - 1/3 cup
    Soy sauce - 2tbsp
    Jaggery or Brown sugar - 2tbsp
    Salt - to taste

    • I microwaved carrots & broccoli for 2 minutes, I then added the frozen beans in the same bowl to thaw and nuked for another 1-11/2 minutes.
    • Heat 1tbsp peanut oil in a large skillet or wok. Add onions, ginger and garlic and saute till transparent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the other veggies and cook for 2-3 minutes.
    • Then add tofu, curry sauce, coconut milk, soy sauce, jaggery and sauce. Simmer the sauce until it thickens a little bit, about 10-15 minutes.**
    I served the curry with brown rice cooked with chopped lemon grass and freshly ground coriander & cumin seeds. Made for a awesome dinner and a lovely lunch the next day.

    **If the sauce is too watery, add some cornstarch slurry (mixed in water) and simmer for couple of minutes for a thicker sauce.

    Yellow Curry Paste from Scratch.
    According to Chat Mingkwan, author of Buddha's Table, Yellow curry paste (Namprik Gaeng Garee) is a direct descendent of Indian curr, with small modification of added lemongreass and kaffir lime for the Thai palate. The word "garee" is derived from the Indian "curry" powder, whose yellow color obviosuly carries the name.

    Dried Red chilies - 6 large (California, New Mexico or guajillo chilies)
    Whole coriander seeds - 2tsp
    Whole cumin seeds - 1tsp
    Lemongrass - 3tbsp, chopped (tender midsection only)
    Curry powder - 2tbsp
    Shallots - 2tbsp chopped
    Garlic - 2tbsp chopped
    Galangal - 1tbsp chopped
    Ginger - 1tbsp chopped
    Kaffir lime skin or leaves - 2tsp
    Salt - 1tsp

    • Stem and seed dried chilies. Soak them in warm water for 10-15minutes or until soft. Drain and squeeze dry.
    • Dry roast coriander & cumin seeds over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until fragrant.
    • Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process into smooth paste with little water if required.

    April 15, 2009

    Egg Salad Sandwich

    Growing up my mom never cooked eggs at home, but she would let us eat them in our neighbor’s houses. We would be invited over whenever they made the “special” meals. Both my sister and I used to love the egg bhurji & omelet that our lovely house owner (we call her Attamma) used to make. She would make it for us even now whenever we visit them.
    That’s how my love for eggs started and that’s probably one of my weaknesses for not becoming a vegan (cheese comes in a close second). This egg salad is very simple to make and is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner (BLD).

    Ingredients (makes 2 sandwiches):
    Eggs – 3, boiled, cooled and chopped
    Onion – 3 tbsp, finely chopped (½ a small onion)
    Mayonnaise – 2 tbsp (I used Smart Balance light mayo)
    Tomato - 2 thin slices
    Hot sauce – 1tsp
    Salt & Pepper – to taste

    • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings.
    • Toast 2 slices sandwich bread (I used German dark wheat); On one slice; put half the egg salad, 1 slice of cheese (I used Havarti cheese) and a slice of tomato; cover with other slice and enjoy with veggie chips.
    This is my entry to Sudeshna @ Bengali Cuisine’s Event for Eggs. Sudeshna is celebrating her 1st blog anniversary and Easter by having all of us cook with eggs.

    April 13, 2009

    Chickpea & Pinto Bean Chili

    Its still a little chilly in our part of the world and this chili is right for those nights where you just want something to warm you up.

    Chickpeas – 1 cup, cooked
    Pinto beans – 1 cup, cooked
    Onion – 1 medium, chopped
    Celery – 1 stalk, chopped
    Green Pepper – 1 medium, chopped
    Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
    Crushed tomatoes – 1 14 oz. can (I used crushed tomatoes with basil)
    Bay leaf - 1
    Vegetarian bouillon cube – 1 (optional)(I used 1tbsp vegetarian chicken base)
    Chili powder – 1 tbsp
    Cumin powder – 1tbsp
    Salt & Pepper – to taste
    • Heat 1tbsp oil in a sauce pan; add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent.
    • Add celery and green peppers; cook until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.
    • Add the beans, crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, chili powder, cumin powder, bouillon cube (if using), salt and pepper; simmer for about 15-20 minutes on medium-low flame. Adjust seasoning and serve warm.

    April 10, 2009

    Slow Cooker Sambar

    Update: My Computer is fixed.. I've updated the post with the pics.
    I wanted to use my slow cooker that’s been collecting dust for quite sometime now. So I decided to make sambar in it and it came out pretty good, can’t complain for the minimum amount of work I had to put in.

    Toor dal – 1 cup
    Moong dal – ¼ cup
    Onion – 1 large, thinly sliced
    Green pepper – 1 small, thinly sliced
    Yellow squash – 1 medium, thinly sliced
    Tomatoes – 2-3 medium, chopped (I used 1 small tomato chopped and 1/3 cup crushed tomato) Tamarind paste – 3 tbsp
    Sambar Powder – 2-3 tbsp, homemade or store-bought (I used Ambika brand that I brought from India)
    Red chili powder – 1 tsp
    Salt – to taste

    Popu Ingredients:
    Urad dal – 1 tsp
    Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
    Cumin seeds – 1tsp
    Dry Red chilies – 2
    Hing – ¼ tsp

    • I combined dal and veggies along with 5-6 cups water, ½ tsp turmeric, sambar powder, chili powder and salt in the slow cooker. Cooked on Low for about 6 hours (or on High for 4hrs).
    • So by the time we came home, dal & veggies were done, then I added tamarind extract and adjusted the seasonings. Cooked for another 30 minutes on High.
    • When there was about 10 minutes left for cooking, I made the tadka in 2tbsp oil, added it to slow cooker and let it cook.
    Serve with rice, idli, dosa, roti, practically anything can be eaten with sambar. With the leftovers I made Sambar Semya which is nothing but vermicelli mixed with sambar.

    Here’s how I made it:
    Bring 6cups of water to a rolling boil, add 1tsp salt and 1 cup semya (vermicelli like bambino or MTR brand); cook for 3-4 minutes or until semya is cooked through. Drain the water and set aside to cool. Heat 1tbsp oil in a large sauté pan, add 1tsp each of urad dal, chana dal, mustard seeds & cumin seeds, 2-3 dry red chilies, ¼ cup toasted peanuts. Add 2-3 cups of sambar and bring to a simmer. Stir in cooked semya, mix well; taste and add salt, sambar powder as needed. Simmer for 2 minutes and enjoy hot for a quick BLD (Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner).

    Sambar goes to EC @ Simple Indian Food for her WYF-Side Dish event.
    Sambar Semya goes to Sahaja @ Spicy Rasam for her Single Serving Recipes event.

    Note: My laptop has gone cuckoo and is probably infected by the conflicker virus. So couldn't upload pics, I will update the post once everything is fixed.


    April 07, 2009

    Italian style Seitan with Broccoli Polenta

    I love making seitan, it is so much fun to work with wheat gluten. I try to make a batch once a month and freeze it, so I can use it in any dish to add extra protein and yumminess. Most of the seitan recipes call for humongous amounts of water and then boiling for at least 1 hour. I did all that in the past, thinking no pain, no gain; but not anymore.

    Voila!! I have been making my seitan following Julie Hasson’s steamed Italian sausage recipe which has been in the blogosphere for quite sometime now and I have to say this recipe is awesome for following three reasons. First of it is extremely simple to put together; secondly it’s almost impossible to mess the recipe; third and final the end result is super delicious.

    I followed Julie recipe to the T and the original recipe can be found here. I made sausages with half the dough and cutlets with the other half. The only change I made was to use a pressure cooker instead of a steamer to steam the seitan. I steamed it for 25 minutes (without the whistle, of course). I thought this is the most convenient seitan recipe ever, no fuss, no mess. I used the cutlets to make Julie’s Spicy Italian Cutlet Parmesan. For side dish I made Broccoli Polenta from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra.

    Polenta – 1 cup
    Broccoli – 4 cups, very finely chopped about ¼” pieces
    Olive oil – 2tbsp
    Salt & Pepper – to taste
    • Bring 3½ cups of water and salt to a boil.
    • Add polenta in a slow and steady stream; add oil, salt and pepper, mix well. Reduce the flame to low; cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once done, cover and let rest for 10minutes.


    April 02, 2009

    Vegetarian Bi Bim Bap

    Do you ever think of this one dish that you had years ago that was so good that you can’t forget it, but at the same time cannot figure out what it actually is. That happened to me during my China trip almost 3 years ago.

    My Chinese colleague Chris took me to this basement restaurant in Shanghai and the place was kind of smoky, but packed with people for lunch. There were a number of counters with different cuisine being cooked at each counter, like Chinese, Korean, and Japanese etc. My colleague seated me at a table (with couple of strangers already having their lunch) and went to order food. She came back with this hot (and heavy) stone bowl with some rice, veggies and egg in it. I don’t remember anymore details about the dish, but I do remember saying that it was really really good (I had a strange feeling that it was not vegetarian, but I trusted Chris).

    The rice was crunchy in the bottom and once the veggies and egg got mixed with the spice mixture on the top, there was an explosion of flavors in the mouth. That’s what I remembered, explosion of flavors, but never was able to know what it was. Until PJ announced A.W.E.D-Korean and I started to look around for recipes, that’s when I found Dolsot Bi Bim Bap from Susan’s Fat free Vegan blog. A.W.E.D is a monthly event started by DK @ Culinary Bazaar.

    I bought gochu jang from the Korean market that I already used in Japchae before. You might get away without using it in Japchae, but you really need it in this dish, that is the ingredient that creates the explosion. This recipe is a combination of 2-3 recipes and I cannot vouch for the authenticity of it, but DH and I really enjoyed the dish. The dish requires quite a bit of prep work, so plan accordingly.

    Rice – 1 cup
    Chinese Broccoli (Spinach) – 1 small bunch, chopped
    Zucchini – 2 medium, peeled and chopped
    Broccoli – 1 small bunch, chopped into florets
    Bean sprouts – 1 cup, washed
    Carrot – 1 small, thinly sliced
    Eggs - 4
    Soy sauce – to taste
    Sesame oil – to taste
    Salt & pepper – to taste

    For the Spicy sauce:
    Gochu jang – 2 tbsp
    Sugar – 2 tsp
    Sesame oil – 1tsp

    • Mix all the sauce ingredients with little water to get a pourable sauce.
    • Cook rice and keep aside.
    • In a large sauté pan, add 1tsp peanut oil and sauté Chinese broccoli until just wilted. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper (S+S+S+P). Remove onto a plate.
    • In the same pan, sauté zucchini till tender; season with S+S+S+P. Remove onto a plate.
    • Boil 5-6 cups water in a sauce pan; add the sprouts and boil for 2 minutes. Completely drain water; season with S+S+S+P, keep aside. Steam broccoli and season with S… (you get the idea, just steam/saute/boil any veggie and season with S+S+S+P and keep aside).
    • In the meantime, make an omelet and keep aside.
    • When ready to serve, place some rice in the bottom of the serving bowl, add all the toppings so they cascade down from the center. Also make sure that same colored toppings are not put next to each other. Then put a dollop of spicy sauce and your omelet. To eat, mix everything together and enjoy the burst of flavors.


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