Velvety South Indian Tomato Chutney


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Velvety South Indian Tomato Chutney

Rarely do store-bought sauces, chutneys and salsas make an appearance on my table. For the most part, they are easy to make at home and, after prep, only patience with the simmering time is needed. Preparing your own condiments also ensures you have complete control over what is included, such as spicing and salt. I've never really understood how sauces purchased from the grocery store seem to keep for months without growing moldy. Likely some nasty preservatives are at play.

This chutney can serve as a sauce for just about anything you might imagine asking for some spicy tomato flair. It's thick enough to make for a good pasta sauce, a condiment for Indian condiments and snacks, an accompaniment to rice and flat breads, a topping for vegetable burgers or patties, nachos, burritos, or even mix into a legume dish for a fast and delicious meal. An abundance of seasonal tomatoes is another reason to make this chutney that keeps well in the fridge for up to two weeks in a well-sealed glass container or jar. The depth of flavor makes this preparation one of my new favorites.

This one IS spicy, so it's not for the faint-hearted, but reduce the amount of chilies if you can't handle the heat.

Spicy South Indian Chutney

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Green Bean Poriyal


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Green Bean Poriyal

Soaring temperatures in July and nearly debilitating back pain has meant easier meals with minimal prep. After all, as any cook will know, it's the prep and the cleanup that usually takes most of the time and effort, depending on the dish of course. As I always maintain, easy does not mean you have to sacrifice flavor or nutrition, and this spicy green bean side dish certainly proves my point.

Poriyals are essentially dry curries that are ideal accompaniments to any main course and a hallmark of South Indian cuisine. These vegetable-based dishes are usually gently steamed or stir-fried over a low heat to retain the flavors of the vegetables featured in the dish. In this case, it is important not to overcook the green beans, because you want to retain the crispness that comes out in each bite. I've added tamarind here for a bit of sweetness and some coconut and split urad and toor dal for some crunchy texture. Though an ideal side, consider serving as a satisfying light lunch with some rice or flatbread or even as an elegant starter. If you want a version with more dal, then consider this green bean and toor dal poriyal that I have made on several occasions.

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Creamy Potato Salad with Cashew Dressing and Fresh Basil

Creamy Potato Salad with Cashew Dressing and Fresh Basil

Potato salads are well loved favorites anytime of year, but I think especially during the hot summer months when most of us don't feel like fussing too much over a hot stove. In addition, they are portable and easily transported to potlucks, barbecues or packed for a picnic. The advantage this particular creamy potato salad has for taking along for a gathering is that it's dairy-free, so it won't spoil in the heat, especially if packed into a cooler.

I originally was going to go with an oil-based dressing for this salad, but instead went with cashews for a burst of protein. The result was a creamy dressing with some olive oil, zesty fresh lemon juice, nutritional yeast for a bit of cheesy flavor, some almond milk to thin it out, some zingy mustard and fresh herbs. Combine this dressing with baby potatoes, fresh peas, plump and salty Kalamata olives and freshly torn fragrant basil leaves. You end up with a refreshing and filling salad for any occasion. I assure you the mayonnaise won't be missed.

The only complaint from those who got to try the salad — "you should have doubled the recipe"!

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Broccoli and Chickpea Rice Salad

Broccoli and Chickpea Rice Salad

It's been a very hot summer thus far, so salads have been appearing more often than not on the table. This earthy summer salad has everything you need for a complete meal. Lightly sautéed robust green broccoli florets, plump buttery soft chickpeas for protein, and nutty brown rice and sliced almonds to fill it out. I dressed it up with zesty dressing of lemon juice, pineapple juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil, a bit of garlic and tamari.

It's a snap to make up and substantial while not too taxing on the digestive system or the cooks patience — it's pretty common for our appetites to melt away along with our desire to cook anything fancy in the heat and humidity. But easy never means bland — just try this salad and see what I mean.

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