Cook's Hideout: 2008

December 23, 2008

Pad Thai for A.W.E.D-Thai

My DH travels to Thailand quite a bit on business. Being a foodie himself, he raves about all the food he has eats on the streets and in the restaurants of Bangkok. He absolutely loves pad thai, papaya salad, sticky mango rice and pineapple fried rice. I tried making papaya salad at home, but it wasn’t up to his expectations. Well.. I didn’t like it much either.
I wanted to try pad thai next, but I couldn’t find pad thai noodles in any of the groceries I go to. Then last weekend we went to 555 Asian Supermarket in Jersey City, NJ and I bought a pad-thai kit with sauce et al. but I ditched the sauce packet and made my own.

Recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance, which I’ve been eyeing to make for quite sometime now. It is a quick and easy recipe if you have all the ingredients on hand. To my relief, DH LOVED it and said we should serve it to one of his Thai colleagues for dinner. I think that says it all.
On to the recipe now.

Adapated from Vegan With a Vengeance.
Ingredients (Serves 2):
For the Sauce:
Tamari – 3 tbsp
Sugar – 3 tbsp
Tomato Paste – 1 tbsp
Asian Hot sauce (like Sriracha sauce) – 1 tbsp
Rice Wine Vinegar – 2 tbsp
Tamarind concentrate or Lime juice – 1 ½ tbsp

For the Pad Thai:
Pad Thai Noodles – 8 oz., cooked according to package directions
Tofu – 8 oz. drained and pressed cut into small cubes or triangles
Red onion – 1 small, cut in half and thinly sliced
Garlic – 1 clove, minced
Lemongrass – ½ tbsp, finely minced
Bean sprouts – 1 cup
Scallions – 4, sliced into 1 ½” lengths
Dry red chili – 1, crumbled
Roasted peanuts – ¼ cup, chopped
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, chopped
Lemon wedges for serving

  • Set the prepared noodles to the side.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the sauce; keep aside.
  • In a large sauté pan, or a wok, heat 1 tbsp peanut oil and quickly add tofu. Stir fry for 5-6 minutes until tofu is crisp on the outside. Remove and keep aside.
  • Pour 1 tbsp more peanut oil to the pan, add onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add garlic, lemon grass and stir-fry for 30 more seconds.
  • Now add the sauce and once the sauce starts to bubble, add the noodles and mix well.
  • Then add tofu, scallions, chili and peanuts. Stir for 30 seconds. Transfer to two serving plates and garnish with coriander and lemon wedges. (I didnt have lemon wedges for garnish ;-( but we never missed them while eating) Enjoy hot.
According to my DH, all the ingredients for pad Thai are served separately in Thailand and the final dish is usually a little dry. But this dish is full of flavor with just the right amount of gravy. Also if you notice there is no salt added to the dish, but you won’t even realize it. I used low sodium tamari and didn’t think the dish lacked flavor. I’ll be making this very often now.
This is going to lovely DK @ Culinary Bazaar for her A.W.E.D: Thai cuisine event. I’m thinking since the event is on, I’m going to try more Thai dishes, so even my DH will be happy. Two birds at one shot.. right!!!!!

December 20, 2008

Saturday lunch

Lunch on saturdays is a leisure affair in our home. I try to make a complete meal with dal, chawal, subzi and if I'm in the mood an extra rasam or chutney. Today I made pappu with fuzzy melon and roasted eggplant pachadi. DH made his signature egg curry.

I picked up fuzzy melon from Korean grocery not thinking of what to make with it. I read in one of the blogs "safest way to try green leafy veggies is making them into dal" and thats the route I took with this lauki look alike (except this has some striations on the skin). It tasted pretty much like lauki and was awesome in this dal.

Fuzzy Melon: Photo courtesy from

Fuzzy Melon - 1 medium, chopped
Tomato - 2 medium, chopped
Green chilies - 3, chopped
Curry leaves - 6
Moong dal - 1 cup
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)

For tadka:
Mustard seeds, cumin seeds - 1 tsp each
Red chilies - 2
Hing - pinch

  • Pressure cook moong dal and the melon separately till done.
  • In a medium sauce pan, heat 2tsp oil and add tadka ingredients. After the seeds splutter, add green chilies, curry leaves and cooked melon.
  • Saute for couple of minutes; then add turmeric and tomatoes. Cover and cook till tomatoes turn pulpy.
  • Add cooked dal, salt, red chili powder (if using) and 1/2 cup water. Simmer for 5 minutes and serve with rice or roti.
I love eggplant and I absolutely love roasted eggplant pachadi (Kalchina vankaya pachadi). This is a very simple dish with just roasted eggplant, green chilies and seasoned with tadka. The dish depends entirely on the eggplant, there is no masala or seasoning to manipulate the taste. The huge eggplants we get in U.S. lack flavor and I would never make this dish with them. I bought a medium size Italian eggplant and it tasted OK, nothing compares to the brinjals we get in India.

Italian eggplant - 1 medium(Indian medium round is highly prefered)
Green chilies - 2, finely chopped
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Hing - pinch
Curry leaves - 6
  • Roast eggplant on stove top till the skin's wrinkled all over. Or Bake in a 400F oven for 30-40 minutes.
  • Once done, cool till its safe enough to handle, peel off the skin and mash the pulp.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil and add mustard and cumin seeds; once the seeds start to splutter add red chilies, hing and curry leaves.
  • Add tadka and salt to the mashed eggplant. Mix well and enjoy with rice and dab of ghee.
Fuzzy Melon dal is my entry to lovely Suganya's Hot & Spicy version of My Legume Love Affair, an event started by Susan @ Well Seasoned Cook.

And I think both the recipes are simple enough to go to Ramki's Recipes of the Rest of Us event.

Usha of Veg Inspirations gave me Yum Blog award to my site. Thanks Usha for sending the award over.

December 12, 2008

Creamy Tomato Sauce for Pasta

I love creamy tomato sauces/ gravies, be it in Indian gravy curries or Italian pasta sauces. Just the thought of how thick, luscious and yummy these gravies could be, will make me extremely hungry and smack my lips. Well to add to my hunger I remembered my husband telling about the thick tomato soup he had for lunch the other day.
I couldn’t think of anything else but the basket of ripe tomatoes I had on the counter until I got home. But I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it thick and luscious like I was imagining, then I saw the tub of mascarpone cheese in the fridge and the little bulb went on (no actually I remember watching Giada adding it to a lot of her dishes). After half an hour I was devouring the perfect creamy sauce with ravioli and it was just as I dreamed.
I used three types of tomatoes in the sauce to get the consistency I was looking for. Canned chopped tomatoes can be used instead of fresh ones.


Ripe tomatoes – 2 large , chopped
Tomato paste – 2 tsp
Tomato puree – ¼ cup
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Red pepper flakes – 1tsp
Vegetable bouillon cube – 1
Milk – ¼ cup
Mascarpone cheese – 3 tbsp
Parmesan cheese – 2 tbsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Salt & Pepper – to taste

  • Heat 2tsp olive oil in a large pot on medium-low flame, add garlic and red chili flakes; sauté for 1 minute till garlic is golden and fragrant (be careful not to burn garlic).
  • Add onions and sauté till translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add all the tomatoes, fresh, paste and all, and bouillon cube; cover and cook till tomatoes turn mushy, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Now add milk and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Finally add mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Simmer for another minute. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes, enjoy on your favorite pasta.

We had ours with spinach ravioli and it was awesome.

December 08, 2008

I am back

I’m back from my short trip to India (I consider all my trips to India short even if I stay more than a month). It was an awesome trip with 2 weddings; meeting family, lots of food, loads of fun. I got to meet all my maternal cousins after 19 years. Coming back to mundane daily routine is not fun at all.
I’m still heavily jet lagged and home sick. My son got used to seeing many people and to the attention they were giving him, now he gets bored looking at just DH and me. He misses the ceiling fans that he very fondly used to call “thaaaaan”, now he expectantly looks at bare ceilings. He also misses wearing shorts and muscle tees and is giving quite an opposition to layers of clothes needed here.
I haven’t been cooking anything worth posting yet, just wanted to say Hello and will be back with a recipe soon.

November 06, 2008

T&T: Mahanandi

Indira & Mahanandi don’t need any introduction. To me is like Whenever I want to make simple homemade food, the first blog that I visit is Mahanandi. There are so many easy to make Andhra recipes, restaurant-style recipes, simple food but presented clearly & elegantly with fabulous pictures. I have tried many of her recipes, but there are lot many that I’ve bookmarked for trying.

Here are some of them I have tried and tested for Zlamushka’s T&T event.

Puri: I followed the Puri pictorial to the T. They turned out just delicious and not greasy at all unlike my own puris that usually left you with a unpleasant oil taste in your mouth.

Chole: Again I followed recipe to the T.

Palak Pasta: I used Indira’s Palak Paneer recipe and instead of adding paneer, I added pasta (campanelle) and it was amazing. I fed my son the same sauce with his pastina and he was smacking his lips the whole time.

November 04, 2008

Pizza with Ricotta & Fontina:

I wanted to make this pizza crust for a very very long time. Finally I made it this weekend and it was so good. It is very quick and easy pizza crust recipe. Dump all the ingredients in the food processor, pulse till it comes together, let it rise for just 1 hour, roll, top, bake and enjoy. The whole pizza comes together in less than 2 hours that’s including the rising time. I’m so impressed that this will be my go-to pizza recipe.
Another important thing to note about this crust is that it is full of Whole grain goodness and there is no oil.. none at all. So there is no need to dab each slice with 2-3 tissues to soak up the extra oil.. Wow.. I’m so so impressed. I followed the recipe to the T, please find it here. Thanks Jai & Bee.
Tomato sauce & Topping recipe is from Vegetarian cookbook. My husband does not eat mushrooms, so I made zucchini topping for him. This is one of the simplest tomato sauce recipes ever and is also going to be my new go-to recipe.


For tomato sauce:
Canned chopped tomatoes – 14.5 oz. can
Passata – 2/3 cup (I used crushed tomatoes instead)
Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed Dried Oregano – 1 tsp
Red chili flakes – ¼ tsp
Bay leaf – 1 (fresh or dry)
Salt& Pepper – to taste

For topping:
Mushrooms – 4 cups
Garlic – 1 clove, minced Oregano – 1 tsp (I used ½ tsp dry instead)
Summer squash – 2 medium, cut into thin rounds (I used green and yellow)
Ricotta cheese – 1 cup
Fontina cheese – 8 oz. grated

  • Preheat oven to 500°F and place your pizza stone to pre-heat as well.
  • To make the tomato sauce, combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan, cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and simmer on medium-low flame for 20 minutes.
  • To make the topping, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan, add garlic and mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Keep aside.
  • Repeat the process for the squash rounds as well.
  • When the pizza dough has puffed up for 1 hour, roll it out into a fairly thin crust. Spread 3-4 tbsp sauce leaving 1” area around the edge. Top with the toppings, cheeses, oregano, and chili flakes (optional). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheeses are all oozy and delicious. Enjoy..
Check out DK's @ Culinary Bazaar Ricotta & Fontina Pizza here.

October 31, 2008

Alta La Vista

Asta La Vista Vegan Mofo. Will miss you. End of October means end of Vegan Mofo. I never thought I would be able to post everyday, but I did.. well almost, including this post I had 28 posts in October. That’s the highest ever in the 2 ½ years history of Cook’s Hideout. It proves “where there is a will, there is a way”.

I’m off to India next week for a very short trip. Will be back end of this month. Should be fun. To end my month long Vegan mofoing I’m leaving you with my Vegan Chocolate cake. Enjoy.. Have a Wonderful weekend. Do something fun.

October 30, 2008

Mexican Millet with Spicy Pinto beans

Mexican millet is a dish that’s been our staple for sometime now. Recipe is from Veganomicon. I made it in the pressure cooker this time and it was much quicker and easier.

Millet – 1 ½ cups
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Jalapeno – 1 medium, chopped fine
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Tomato paste – 2 tbsp
Tomato – 1 medium, chopped
Salt, Pepper, Lemon juice – to taste
* Pressure cook millet with 1 ¾ cups water for 2 whistles. Keep aside.
* Add 2 tsp oil and minced garlic to a large pan, heat on medium low until the garlic starts to sizzle.
* Add the chopped onion, jalapeno and sauté till the edges start to brown.
* Mix in tomato paste and chopped tomato and sauté until the tomatoes are cooked, but not mushy.
* Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked millet, mix well and cook for another 3-5minutes for the flavors to mingle. Check seasoning and serve along side any Latin flavored dish. I served it with spicy pinto beans, store bought salsa and guacamole.

October 29, 2008

Vegan Mofo Day 29: Vegetable Bhath

My mom usually made this rice dish when we went to a First Show movie (that’s the movie showing @ 6:00PM) , not sure if they still use the same terminology in India. It was fun watching those looooong movies (do you remember Hum Aapke Hain Kaun-4 long hours with a 15 minute intermission.. wow) passing popcorn. My parents were not too big on eating outside food, so we would always take something from home, but they didn’t say no to popcorn. Well anyway since it used to get late by the time we came home (for the record, I watched more movies with my mom and sister than with my friends) and we used to gobble up late into the night talking (arguing with each other) about the movie, costumes, songs, fights…
The masala used is the same as the one used for bisibeli bath or vangi bath.

Rice – 3 cups, cooked
Mixed vegetables – 2 cups (Potato, carrots, green beans, peas are normally used, but any other veggie can also be added. I used a 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables along with 3 potatoes and 2 carrots)
Green chili – 2, sliced
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Ground Masala powder – 3 tbsp
Peanuts – 3 tbsp
Cashews – 2 tbsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Lemon juice – as per taste
Salt – as per taste

  • Cook rice; grains should be separate, not mushy. Add 1 tsp oil and 1/8 tsp turmeric to the rice; mix well and set aside to cool.
  • Take all the chopped veggies in a microwave safe bowl and cook them for 4-5 minutes until they are fork tender. This can also be done in the pressure cooker, cook for 2 whistles with little or no water.
  • In a large pan, heat 2tbsp oil; add mustard seeds and after they start spluttering, add the veggies and sauté until the edges start to crisp/brown about 10-12 minutes.
  • Add turmeric, masala powder, salt; mix well and remove from heat.
  • Mix the veggies along with lemon juice into the rice; mix with a light hand making sure that the rice does not get mushy.
  • Taste and season accordingly. Garnish with fried peanuts and cashews. Serve with onion raita (or not if you are a vegan) or papad. Tastes great the next day for lunch.

October 28, 2008

Badam Burfi

Wish you all a very Happy Deepavali

I miss home very much around festival times (I know all of you do too.. but I just want to let it out) especially for Diwali. No fireworks, no elaborately decorated diyas around the house means no fun. Its been (oh.. wow.. let me think) 8 long years that I celebrated actual diwali.
Some of my colleagues were asking me why I was working on a festival and not take a day off. But what am I to do at home, I don’t have to dry fire crackers in the sun or cook for guests. We used to sundry all the back home to make them dry and light better.. but it almost always used to be either cloudy or raining on diwali day.. its still fun with crackers that go tsssss… than have nothing.

To chase away all these negative thoughts during the festival season I’m trying to compensate the lack of fun with lots of food. I made Janthikalu (Chakli), Badam burfi (Almond bars) & gulab jamuns.
Gulab jamuns are from store bought mix, I love MTR brand and they come out perfect everytime for me.
Badam burfi recipe is adapted from Saffron Hut’s Badam halwa recipe, I cooked about 20 minutes more than the time needed for badam halwa.

Slivered Badam (Almonds) – 1 ½ cups
Sugar – 2 2/3 cups (or as per taste)
Cardamom powder (Elaichi) – ½ tsp
Milk – 3 tbsp (approximately)
Ghee – ¼ cup (or as needed)

  • Soak the almonds in hot water for 1 hour. Drain and grind into a smooth paste adding milk as needed.
  • Combine sugar and 1 cup of water in a heavy bottomed pot, bring to a rolling boil; lower the heat and slowly mix in the badam paste. Whisk thoroughly and make sure there are no lumps.
  • On low heat keep stirring the mixture occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  • Add 2 tsp ghee and stir about every 5 minutes. The mixture slowly starts getting thick from being watery to heavy creamy/ idly batter to very thick and slides away from the sides of the pot, about 40-50 minutes.
  • Remove it onto a greased plate, pat it smooth with the back of a smooth and score into bars; allow to cool completely before trying to break.
Will keep fresh in a tight lid container for about 2 weeks (if they are not eaten before that). Enjoy..

This is my entry to JFI: Festival treats being hosted by Srivalli @ Cooking 4 all Seasons. JFI is the brainchild of Indira @ Mahanandi.

October 27, 2008

Vegan Indian food

As I was thinking of menus to blog for Vegan mofo, I realized couple of things: there are a large number of Indian dishes that are vegan & it is extremely easy to veganize a non-vegan Indian dish.
Most of the curries, dals and rice dishes are vegan if the liberal dose of ghee or cream is either omitted or substituted with vegan counterparts. There are not too many dishes that I know of that call for mock-meat. Vegetarians in India are happy eating chicken tikka masala gravy with just potato or cauliflower; no need for fancy seitan. But seitan tikka masala does sound exotic and I’m sure is going to taste awesome.
The most I’m impressed with vegan cooking is baking, never in my life have I thought that a cake can be baked without eggs and butter. It is so much easier, quicker and “healthier” to make vegan baked goods. No eggs and butter to bring to room temperature, no beating butter and sugar till light and fluffy, no need to add eggs one at a time. Just mix all the ingredients and you are good to go (well!! I know it’s not simple, but you get the point).
There’s still 4 days of vegan mofoing, but I’m going to have a non-vegan post tomorrow for Diwali. For all the early risers… Wish you all a very Happy Diwali.

October 26, 2008

Kakarakaya Kura

Today's dinner is Kakarakaya kura (Karela Curry) and Masoor dal with coconut milk with steamed white rice.
I used frozen karela (round cut) and I simmered them in onion-tomato-tamarind sauce.

And for the dal I pressured cooked dal with chopped onion and tomato. Then put tadka and added 1/2cup of coconut milk.
5 more days of Vegan mofoing.. Have a great week ahead everyone.

October 25, 2008

Soup Overdose

It is raining cats and dogs today ruining a much awaited weekend. It has also got very cold not very typical for this time of the year. So that gave me plenty of reason to make not one but two soups even though DH was sulking that he wasn't getting real food, ONLY SOUP.. NO FOOD!!! But the tune changed when he tasted the roasted butternut squash soup, "Wow.. mmmm.. this is good".
The first soup I made is with Roasted Butternut Squash from Bad Girl's Kitchen: Recipes from Shell. I have been paired with Shell for this month's Taste and Create (Created by Nicole @ Forfood and hosted by Min @ Bad Girl Kitchen) and this soup recipe sounded awesome and it tasted awesome too. The only additions I made are, I added curry powder, maple syrup and some lemon juice and of course to make it vegan I used olive oil and did not add any milk. It was still creamy and delicious.

Second soup was my leftover veggie soup with carrots, red and green bell peppers, onions and some ditalini pasta simmered in veggie broth. I totally forgot to add tomatoes, it was on the bland side but still served the purpose of warming us from inside.

Have a great Rest of the Weekend Everyone.

October 24, 2008

Orange Pudding Cupcakes

I'm celebrating my 200 posts and my son's monthly birthday with vegan orange pudding cupcakes with chocolate ganache from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World (VCTOW). As I already mentioned before I make a cake/ cupcake for my son’s monthly birthdays. I guess it’s just a reason for us adults to indulge a little bit.
I borrowed VCTOW book (it’s a small book, fits perfectly in my purse) from the library and I look at the pictures and read the recipes like a little girl. I'm now thinking of buying the book so I can have it all to myself.
I made carrot cupcakes from the book twice already, my son loves these. It’s so cute to watch him sit and lick little crumbs & icing from his dad’s fingers. This is why I wanted to make something fruity, so my little one could enjoy.
Orange pudding cupcakes sounded just perfect and I took up the challenge of making them on a weeknight. I baked the cakes and made pudding during my afternoon break and assembled everything in the evening.

Recipe from VCTOW.
For the Pudding:
Freshly squeezed orange juice – ½ cup
Soy milk – ¾ cup
Sugar – ¼ cup + 2tbsp
Arrow root starch or cornstarch or tapioca starch – 3 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/8 tsp for color (optional)
Vanilla extract– 1 tsp
Orange zest – 1 tsp

For the cupcakes:
All purpose flour – 1 1/3 cups
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Baking soda – ½ tsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Canola Oil – 1/3 cup
Soy milk – ¾ cup
Freshly squeezed orange juice – ½ cup
Sugar – ¾ cup
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

For the topping:
Orange Marmalade – ¼ cup
Rich Chocolate Ganache*
  • To make the pudding: Whisk orange juice, soy milk, sugar, arrow root starch, vanilla, turmeric in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. On medium heat, cook for 2 minutes whisking continuously until heated through and steamy. Reduce the flame to low and cook for 5 more minutes stirring continuously. You may have to use a fork after a while as the mixture thickens considerably. When the mixture is thick and pudding like, take off the heat and remove it into a bowl. Let cool for 10 minutes, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The mixture will thicken further as it cools.
  • For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the cupcake pan with paper liners.
  • Whisk orange juice, soy milk, sugar, vanilla and 1 tbsp of flour in a medium bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 3 installments, making sure that everything is well incorporated after every addition. Fold in the orange zest and mix to incorporate.
  • Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 to ¾ of the way full.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched and the cake tested inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the cake pan and cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
  • To assemble: Snip a corner off a Ziploc bag and insert the widest tip possible. My tip squeezed out into the second cupcake I was filling, so I went ahead without a tip and it worked just fine.
  • Using a finger, poke a hole in the center of each cupcake and by sticking the tip into the cake squeeze as much of the pudding as it can take. Cupcakes will swell a little like a small balloon, don’t overdo or the balloon might burst. :0)
  • Wipe the top clean with the back of a spoon or just use your finger. Then spread ¼ tsp orange marmalade on each cupcake.
  • The next step is to add about 1 tbsp of chocolate ganache on each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes till everything sets, about an hour. I filled and topped the cupcakes on the wire rack and I put the whole rack in the fridge for convenience.
The cupcakes were a big hit with my family and I can see my son licking on the pudding already.

* For the Rich Chocolate Ganache:
Soy milk – ¼ cup
Bittersweet chocolate – 4 oz. chopped
Maple syrup – 2 tbsp

Method: Bring the soy milk to a slow boil in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Remove from heat and immediately stir in chopped chocolate and maple syrup. Stir till smooth and keep aside until ready to use.

October 23, 2008

Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu is a spicy Sichuan dish with a very long history. It is traditionally made with tofu along with ground beef or pork simmered in a spicy black bean chili sauce with Sichuan peppercorn. I found a vegetarian version of it in Vegetarian Times and it was spicy and delicious. It has double dose of protein with soy crumbles and tofu. The spice level of the recipe was a little muted, so I added some chili paste to bump it up a little bit. It is a quick and easy to prepare for a week night dinner.

Recipe adapted from here.
Extra Firm Tofu – 1 12oz. container, drained and cut into ½” pieces
Soy crumbles – 12 oz. pkg (I used Light life original)
Green Onions – 1 bunch, green and white parts chopped fine separately
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Ginger – 1” piece, minced
Sherry – 1 tbsp
Fermented Black bean sauce – 2 tbsp
Chili paste – 1½ tsp (I used Sambal Oleak)
Corn Flour – 2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp

  • Add soy crumbles, sherry, sugar, black bean sauce, chili sauce & ½ cup water; bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Stir in tofu, simmer for 3 minutes or until heated through.
  • Whisk cornstarch with 2 tbsp water in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to the wok.
  • Cook 1 minute more or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and serve over brown rice.

October 22, 2008

Okra Curry

Last night we had okra curry and dal for dinner. Recipe is quite simple, sauté coarsely chopped onions till browned around the edges and toss in chopped okra (I used frozen.. very convenient), cover and cook till okra changes from bright green to somewhat brownish green, about 15 minutes. Remove the lid, season with salt and chili powder, cook for 3-5 minutes more. Serve with rice or roti.

My sister loved okra and roti combo and used to pester my mom to pack it for lunch (this was way back when she was in elementary school), cos her friend used to get it and now she wants it in her lunch box too.. kids. Talking of kids, I didn’t get a chance to take pictures cos I got too busy with my son that I totally forgot about them. I realized little too late when all the dishes were already in the sink.

See you tomorrow with a some vegan goodies..

October 21, 2008

Lunch Box

This is my lunch box(es) with Aloo kura (Potato curry) and Pesarapappu Charu from last night. I usually cook for 2 meals at night, so we can pack them up for lunch the next day. I make a big pot of sambhar, pappu (dal) or rasam and lasts for atleast 3-4 meals for the 2 of us. Also I try to make curries with a little gravy, so it doesn’t get too dry for lunch the next day. If not we take a small container of dal or rasam on the side.

I tend to make white rice 2-3 times a week, pasta, brown rice and other grains make up for the rest of the days. I want to make rotis more often, but I’m not too good at making them and don’t have the time with a 13 month old pulling on my leg all the time.

I need some tips on making rotis quickly on weeknights, let me know how you guys usually manage. Any and all the tips are welcome. Also do you make sandwiches for lunch the day before or pack everything up and assemble at work? I’d love to take sandwich to work but I’m not sure if it’s going to end up being a soggy mess.

October 20, 2008

Lazy Weekend

Had a nice little get together with couple of our friends on Saturday with some Mexican food. Menu: spinach quesadillas, three-bean chili, chocolate cake, guacamole & salsa. Our friend was kind enough to bring some home made rotis and black-eyed peas subzi. No pictures of the food, sorry, we were too busy chowing down that I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of all the food.

We had a good time eating, gossiping and watching “A Wednesday” movie. It has been a long time that we watched any Indian movie. It was refreshing to watch a movie that was very well made with no songs, fights, but will keep you thinking while watching and even after. Here’s a picture of leftover chili the next day.

Sunday was spent entirely on leftovers; I didn’t turn on the stove for the whole day. No.. actually I’m lying, I had to turn on the stove to make dosas with leftover idli batter. But you get the point, I practically didn’t cook anything this weekend, not even for my poor son.

Well things have changed and the fridge is empty with nothing to offer, so I have to start cooking today. OK then.. 10 more days of vegan mofoing and I’m off to India for a really short vacation, have started counting down the days already. Have a great week guys..

By the way, I didn't notice but I just crossed my 200 posts milestone. Will celebrate it this week with something special.

October 17, 2008

Nothing's Cooking

Today’s my DH birthday and I’m not cooking anything tonight. We are planning to go out to eat and I’m not sure if it’s going to be all vegan, but will try.
We are having some friends over tomorrow for a small party. I’m planning a Mexican meal with quesadillas; chili and a dessert (I still haven't decided on dessert yet, may be somemore vegan cupcakes or cookies??).
Happy Birthday Mr. Libra..

October 16, 2008

Spicy Cabbage & Fried Tofu

Today's dinner is Chinese style spicy cabbage with battered fried tofu. I bought Nasoya Chinese spice firm tofu and wasn't sure if I wanted to make a soup or something else. I didn't feel going the healthy route with this one and I decided to shallow fry the tofu.
I mixed some all purpose flour, chili powder and salt in a ziploc bag; added the drained & cubed tofu; swished the pieces around in the flour; pan fried in 1tbsp oil until gloden brown all over. Remove and keep aside.

These tofu nuggets were yummy as is, but I made some gravy with the left over flour mixture. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil, whisk in the flour mixture and fry it loses the raw smell about 2-3 minutes stirring often. Add 2-3tbsp crushed tomatoes, 1/4 cup veggie broth, salt and pepper (remember there's chili powder in the flour) and simmer for 5-6 minutes until thickened. Serve over fried tofu pieces.

I also made Bryanna Clark Grogan's spicy cabbage with chinese black bean sauce. I added red & green peppers. For some reason my sauce was extremely black, but it tasted just awesome.
I made some quinoa to go with my tofu and cabbage. It was a filling meal.. yumm....

October 14, 2008

Tomato Pappu and Gongura pachadi

Today’s lunch is simple Andhra food, nothing fancy but full of homemade goodness.

Toor dal (Kandi pappu) – 1 cup
Tomatoes – 3 ripe, chopped
Green chilies – 3, chopped
Curry leaves – 6
Red chili powder – ½ tsp
Kitchen King masala – 1 tsp (optional)
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Dry Red chilies – 2
Asafoetiba – pinch
Salt – to taste

  • Pressure cook dal until soft and mushy.
  • Heat 2tsp oil in a saucepan; add the mustard and cumin seeds; after they splutter add red chilies and hing, sauté for few seconds.
  • Then add chopped tomatoes, green chilies; cover and cook until tomatoes are cooked and turn mushy.
  • Add cooked dal, red chili powder, masala powder and salt; simmer for 10 minutes on medium flame.
Serve with rice or roti.I had my pappannam with gongura pachadi.

October 13, 2008

Seitan & Veggie Stir fry

This is a adaptation of Beef & Broccoli stir fry from my cookshelf Chinese cookbook.

Seitan – 8 oz. drained and thinly sliced
Scallions – 1 bunch, thinly chopped
Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (I used frozen broccoli stir fry vegetables; good options would be broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, water chestnuts, baby corn, snow peas etc)
Dark soy sauce – 2 tbsp
Ginger – ½“ piece, grated
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced fine
Chinese five spice powder – ½ tsp
Light soy sauce – 2 tsp
Vegetable broth – 2/3 cup
Corn starch – 2 tsp
Cold Water – 4 tsp
Salt and Pepper – to taste

  • Whisk dark soy sauce, ginger & garlic, Chinese spice powder in a small bowl. Add it to the seitan and toss till all the pieces are coated evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok or large sauté pan, add the marinated seitan and sauté until browned all over. Remove and keep aside.
  • Heat 2 tsp oil, add the veggies and sauté 8-10 minutes on medium-high flame, stirring occasionally, until the veggie are tender. Return seitan to the pan.
  • Stir in broth and light soy sauce. Whisk corn starch and water in a small bowl, stir this into the veggies. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice or noodles.

October 12, 2008

Split Pea Soup

I made Split Pea soup with Sweet Potato and Kale from talented Susan's blog Fat free Vegan. I visit her blog just to see what's cooking in her kitchen. Her pictures are treat to eyes and the recipes are healthy and easy to follow. I made this soup in the pressure cooker and followed the recipe to the T except I used MTR Madras Curry powder instead of Maharajah curry powder. Soup is very flavorful and healthy. My son loved it too.

October 11, 2008

Indira’s Dum Aloo

I don’t know what restaurant makes this good Dum Aloo, but this recipe is just out of this world.. Spicy, creamy, tangy gravy with the yummy baby potatoes goes perfectly well with rice or roti. I did not make any changes to the recipe except I cut down a little bit on the red chilies and peppercorn. Recipe needs a little prepping ahead, but Indira points that out in her recipe, so I was prepared for it. I’m going to make it again when I see those tiny potato beauties. Thanks Indira.

PS: Will upload the picture soon.

October 10, 2008

Bento Bowl

We had spicy tofu bento bowl for dinner tonight. Recipe is adapted from Vegetarian times magazine.

(Serves 2 people)
For Spicy Tofu
Tofu – 12 oz. pkg, drained and cut into 1" pieces
Soy sauce – ¼ cup
Chili sauce – 3tbsp
Sesame oil – 2 tsp

For the Salad:
Brown Rice – 1 cup, cooked
Mixed Salad greens – 1 cup
Avocado – 1, sliced thinly
Soy sauce – ¼ cup
Ginger – 1” piece, grated
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp

  • Whisk soy sauce, chili sauce and sesame oil in a bowl.
  • Heat 2tsp oil in a large sauté pan. Dip tofu in the chili mixture and fry in the hot pan for 8-10 minutes, tossing to make sure that all sides are browned evenly. Remove and keep aside.
  • To assemble the salad: Whisk soy sauce, ginger, lemon juice in a small bowl. Mound half the rice in a serving bowl, top with the mixed greens, avocado and tofu. Serve with the sauce.

October 08, 2008

Pasta with fresh vegetables

This recipe was on the box of Barilla whole grain rotini. It looked and sounded easy enough for a quick weeknight dinner and so here it is.

Pasta – 8 oz. (any short pasta should be fine, I used whole grain rotini)
Broccoli – 1 bunch, chopped into florets
Carrot – 1 medium, sliced
Onion – 1 medium, thinly sliced
Peas – 1 cup (thawed if using frozen)
Cherry tomatoes – 2 cups, halved
Garlic – 2 cloves
Red chili flakes – ½ tsp
Dried Oregano – ½ tsp
Basil – 5 leaves (I used dried)
Parsley – 1 tsp, chopped (I used ½ tsp dried)
Salt & Pepper – to taste

  • Heat 2tbsp olive oil on medium flame, sauté garlic for few seconds.
  • Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Add broccoli, carrots and peas; season with salt and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Add 1 cup of pasta cooking water and simmer until the veggies are tender.
  • Add tomatoes, spices and cook for 2 more minutes. Add drained pasta, 1 tbsp olive oil; mix well and serve either warm or at room temperature.


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