Spicy Indian Cabbage and Green Peas


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Spicy Indian Cabbage and Green Peas

Cabbage is one of those vegetables I buy without knowing what I'm going to do with it and then look for a solution. Fortunately this vitamin C-rich vegetable is widely used around the world, so there's no shortage of ideas. And if you like Indian spicing and green peas as much as I do, then this "bandhgobhi hari matar tarkari" that I've adapted from Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine is the cabbage idea for you.

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Japanese-Style Quinoa Salad with a Tamari-Ginger Dressing

Japanese-Style Quinoa Salad with a Tamari-Ginger Dressing

Judging by the number of requests I've received for quinoa recipes, it seems that this ancient staple food of the Andes, otherwise known as Inca rice, is enjoying a surge in popularity these days. And with its unique delicately sweet and nutty flavor as well as a nearly perfect amino acid balance rare to plant foods, it's a popularity that's well deserved. Toss in a good source of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins B and E, and it's a wonder that everyone's not eating quinoa.

I'll often cook 1/2 cup of quinoa in a cup of water in the manner I've described below and dress it with some toasted sesame seeds and a little tamari sauce if I just need a quick and easy grain side dish for dinner. But it's always nice to try something different, and this simple and hearty quinoa salad takes only a little more time and is not only very hearty and healthy, it's absolutely delicious!

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Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

It's easy to buy a small tub of good quality roasted red pepper hummus in London, but it's much more satisfying to experiment in your own kitchen, especially if you are like me and want some hummus with a spicy kick. Originating in the Middle East and now popular throughout the world, hummus is a thick dip or spread consisting mainly of ground chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice. This versatile blend of flavors can be enhanced with an infinite combination of herbs, spices and vegetables.

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Lentil Soup with Prunes and Apricots

Lentil Soup with Prunes and Apricots

With the autumn weather upon us here in southwestern Ontario, I've been inspired to make more warming soups of late. This sweet and sour soup is adapted from a unique little cookbook entitled Small Bites. Once the chopping is done, it simply simmers on the stove top, allowing you time to prepare the rest of your meal. I served it with polenta and mushroom ragout for a hearty, nourishing and warming delicious dinner. It's a fairly thick soup, especially if you serve it the next day, so feel free to add more stock to suit your tastes. If you are not using vegetable stock, increase the amount of salt and add a few teaspoons of celery seed. If desired, garnish with pomegranate seeds.

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Baked Gingered Chickpea Stew with Eggplant and Spinach


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Baked Gingered Chickpea Stew with Eggplant and Spinach

A variation of this textured chickpea stew can be found in every kitchen in North India, where it is a favorite for Sunday dinners. Very much like a baked chana masala with eggplant and spinach, kabli chana baigan tarkari is almost always served with pooris, but it is also very delicious served on a bed of fresh cooked white rice with a green salad or a potato dish on the side. Like so many other Indian dishes I've come to love, this version is one I've modified from Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine, a book I cannot recommend highly enough as an essential guide to authentic and delicious Indian cooking.

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Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

One of the items on my ongoing list of recipes to make has been a baked cheesecake. Until recently I had never made a cheesecake of any sort, although cheesecake is certainly one of my favorite desserts. I have very fond memories of the no-bake cherry cheesecake my Mom used to make for me.

I don't very often have dessert, as most of the meals I make I find quite satisfying in themselves, but when I found this recipe for blueberry ricotta cheesecake in my bulging binder of food ideas I simply could not resist. It's a fancy looking cake but actually pretty easy to make — and needless to say, it's rich, creamy and absolutely heavenly to taste.

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Cranberry Wild Rice Soup

Cranberry Wild Rice Soup

Inspired once again by the top quality recipes provided by Chef Jules, I made another one of his nourishing soups. This time around it was a rather unusual soup that appealed to me because of the unique blend of flavors and the colorful presentation. It's as good as it sounds and looks, and it's really easy to prepare besides. I've made a few minor modifications, but essentially just followed the original recipe. Add more salt and a few teaspoons of celery seed if you are not using vegetable stock.

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Interlude

The blog quebecois points to a menu of terrifying food that I promise never to feature in my kitchen.

Warning: Not for the squeamish.

Lentils and Garlic Mushrooms

Lentils and Garlic Mushrooms

Yet another recipe inspired by Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. Serve with rice and an Indian flat bread or whole wheat olive oil biscuits for a satisfying vegetarian meal.

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Rosemary Parmesan Shortbread

Rosemary Parmesan Shortbread

This savory shortbread smells heavenly as it bakes in the oven and it tastes even better than it smells. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, but I highly recommend using fresh rosemary as it enhances the taste of the shortbread. Serve as an appetizer or for dessert or a snack.

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Beet and Feta Salad

Beet and Feta Salad

For a long time I've enjoyed the taste of pickled beets, but only recently have I become a fiend for fresh beets. Now I find I'm always on the lookout for new ideas with beets, especially as beets are currently in season. As I also adore Feta cheese, I made this beet and Feta salad the day after I found the recipe. The strong taste of beetroot goes very well with the sharp flavor of Feta cheese.

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Broccoli-Cauliflower Mornay

Broccoli-Cauliflower Mornay

These lightly-steamed vegetables coated in a white Cheddar Mornay sauce and baked under a crusty topping is an old standby of my good friend Andrew, and it's a wonderful way to use up broccoli or cauliflower that's gone a little past the peak of freshness. The use of white Cheddar cheese and whole wheat flour as well as the addition of lemon juice are slight departures from the classic Mornay sauce, but they definitely enhance the flavors of the vegetables — and the browned Parmesan-cornmeal-nut topping is worth licking off the plate.

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Bengali-Style Crunchy Potatoes


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Bengali-Style Crunchy Potatoes

A reader recently noted that I don't cook with potatoes very often. It's not that I don't enjoy potatoes, but in general, I consume carbohydrate-packed foods like pasta and potatoes in moderation. My reader's observation got me thinking about the versatility of such foods, however, and I quickly recalled one of my favorite spicy potato recipes made with "panch phoran", a spice mixture of fenugreek, nigella, mustard, cumin and fennel seeds (also known as panch phoron, panch puran, panchpuran, punch puram, punchpuram, and Bengali five-spice). If you don't happen to have any panch phoran on hand, it's easy to make your own and it keeps in a sealed jar for a good many months. Simply combine equal parts of each seed and store in your pantry until needed.

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Whole Wheat Olive Oil Biscuits

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Biscuits

I paid a visit to my Dad this past weekend and, as usual, I took advantage of the opportunity to transform some food in his spacious and cook-friendly kitchen. It was a collaborative effort on this occasion, with Dad providing the chili and me, a spicy Indian potato dish along with these quick and easy biscuits. Though they are filling and made with whole wheat flour, these biscuits are surprising delicate, with a melt in your mouth quality that is not to be resisted. Serve warm with a pat of butter.

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Thai-Style Tempeh Cutlets

Tempeh Cutlets

As I've noted before, tempeh is a traditional Indonesian fermented soybean product that's not only an excellent source of protein and vitamin B12 for vegetarians but also a very malleable, versatile and easy-to-use staple for cooking. But as with most soy products made in the West, the product you see in stores is not always made in processes that deliver the benefits that they're supposed to. In the case of tempeh, modern hygienic standards actually inhibit the growth of beneficial cultures that otherwise remove through fermentation the enzyme inhibitors and phytates that block the absorption of essential minerals and proteins in soybeans. Make sure to find tempeh that's been properly innoculated with rhizopus culture — if you live in Ontario, I recommend the tempeh products from the Noble Bean.

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Roasted Toor Dal & Coconut Chutney


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Roasted Toor Dal & Coconut Chutney

Coconut or dal chutneys are popular accompaniments to rice dishes in the southern regions of India, and this very simple "toovar nariyal chatni" slightly adapted from Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine has both for the best of both worlds. Very fragrant with a mellow aroma of roasted nuts, you'll want to taste it even before it's finished. Toor dal, also seen as toovar dal or split pigeon peas, is easily available at any Indian grocery store but ordinary yellow split peas can be substituted for just as delicious a chutney.


Roasted Toor Dal & Coconut ChutneyRoasted Toor Dal & Coconut Chutney
Recipe by
Adapted from Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
Cuisine: Indian
Published on October 14, 2007

Fragrant and flavorful toor dal and dried coconut chutney with the aroma of roasted nuts

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Ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup toor dal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 2 fresh green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
Instructions:
  • Heat the sesame oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the brown mustard seeds and stir for 30 seconds or until they begin to sputter and pop. Add the toor dal and fry, stirring often, for a minute or two until the color darkens a shade or two. Add the coconut and continue to fry for another 2 minutes until the mixture darkens and becomes very fragrant. Remove from heat.

  • Transfer to a food processor and pulse repeatedly to chop the dal and process into an almost moist powder. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth or slightly chunky, as desired.

  • Transfer to a bowl, cover, and set aside for at least 2 hours to thicken before serving. Serve at room temperature, ladled over hot fresh cooked white rice if desired. Cover leftover chutney and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Staple Corner: Kamut Porridge and Chopped Dates

Kamut Porridge and Chopped Dates

It's no secret these days that whole grains are essential to a proper and well-balanced diet, but it's important not to get pulled in by the whole grains marketing of commercially packaged foods like breads, granolas, cereals and snacks — as I've noted before, the quality and processing of grains in mass production methods negates most of their benefits.

Fortunately, making a top quality whole grain breakfast porridge is almost as fast and easy as toasting a bagel or pouring a bowl of boxed cereal, and a lot tastier and more economical. Oat or wheat porridges are most common in this part of the world, but almost any grain can be made into porridge, including rice, quinoa, millet and rye.

One of my favorite grains for breakfast porridge is kamut, an ancient type of wheat believed to have originated in ancient Egypt and only recently cultivated again in modern times after the discovery of a few seeds in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Rolled kamut flakes can now be found in most health food stores. Compared to most wheat, kamut is richer in protein, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and vitamin E, and unsaturated fatty acids, and is more easily digestible and generally tolerated by people with gluten sensitivities.

Kamut porridge is a great way to start the day with a high energy food, and its natural nutty flavor is very appealing even by itself. Like any grain porridge, it goes well with any kind of nut, seed or fruit, but I find that the flavor of kamut goes especially nicely with the sweetness of dried dates, which also provides your breakfast with a great source of fiber and potassium.

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Nigerian Red Kidney Bean Stew with a Peanut Sauce

Nigerian Red Kidney Bean Stew

I was wondering what to make the other day for dinner and I came across a recipe for Nigerian red kidney bean stew with a peanut sauce. This stew reminded me of the Nigerian baked beans I posted here shortly after Lisa's Kitchen went live in the blogosphere. Both recipes include peanut butter and both are adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, a cookbook that I have been exploring more and more of late as I look for new creations to try and share.

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Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

In addition to having some tomatoes on hand from my backyard garden, I was kindly presented with a bag of local peppers the other day when I went to bottle a batch of red wine at Danny's Wine and Beer Supplies. Not wanting to let such delicious produce go to waste, I found a recipe for an easy and very tasty red pepper and tomato soup in James McNair's Soups. As usual, I've modified the recipe somewhat to suit my spicy tastes. If you don't have vegetable stock on hand, increase the amount of salt and add a few teaspoons of celery seed.

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Savory Mung Dal Pancakes (Masala Cheela)


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The thin, soft savory bean pancakes known as "cheela" are a Gujarati delight, served with breakfast, lunch or dinner as breads for rolling and dipping in tasty chutneys or sauces. Although they can be made with besan, or chickpea flour, the genuine articles are made with soaked split mung beans, or "moong dal", which give the cheela a hearty consistency as well as a beautiful gold-green-red color when fried.

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Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

This is another recipe that I've adapted from my good friend Chef Jules of the now sadly defunct Gourmet A Go-Go blog. I've made a few variations, but essentially followed his recipe. This soup would make a satisfying addition to any menu, no matter the season. It's light enough to be served in the summer, and spicy and warm enough to ease the winter chills.

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Scrambled Ricotta with Pan-Fried Mushrooms and Scallion

Scrambled Ricotta with Pan-Fried Mushrooms and Scallion

You may not have realized that you can scramble or bake ricotta cheese just like eggs, but if you're tired of eggs and still looking for protein in your breakfast, try this very simple, smooth and slightly tangy ricotta scramble for a change. Any fried vegetables would go well with the ricotta, a very flexible and versatile cheese, but I like to top it off with mushrooms fried using my own special method. The secret of cooking beautiful, crisp but juicy mushrooms, I've discovered, is to fry them in olive oil over very high heat — this seals in the juicy flavors inside a golden reddish-brown exterior that's almost as good to look at as to eat. Scallions, green chilies, salt and pepper finish off the earthy and slightly spicy flavors.

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Cashew Chutney (Kaju Chatni)


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Cashew Chutney (Kaju Chatni)

This Keralan cashew chutney, or "kaju chatni", is one of the most delicious accompaniments I've ever come across for vegetables or Indian savory pastries, and a must-try for cashew lovers. Adapted from Yamuna Devi's incomparable Indian cookbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine, which also suggests that it makes a wonderful salad dressing when thinned, it only takes ten minutes at most to prepare and keeps well for several days. Make sure to use only fresh raw cashews.

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Beetroot Cake

Beetroot Cake

It seems I have developed a particular fondness for beets this fall after making orange and beet soup a few weeks back. Since then, beets have been a regular feature in my fridge. This is sure to please my friend Mike, who has been asking me to make borscht for a long time now. I've just recently come across the perfect recipe and I will be presenting a creamy beet borscht soon. Expect a dinner invite, Mike!

I was originally going to make another beet soup with the latest batch, until I came across this unusual recipe for beetroot cake. I wasn't sure what to expect, but after a few bites of this almost savory tasting spongy cake, I was hooked, as were my guests. I can honestly say that this was one of the most pleasurable cake eating experiences I have ever had. Honey is used as a sweetener rather than sugar, so it's not too sweet, instead relying on the flavor provided by the beets and spices. The addition of cornmeal also gives the cake a slight crunch. The middle of the cake is almost pudding like, while the edges of the cake have a more traditionally cakey texture. It was unanimously agreed that it should be enjoyed from the inside out.

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Black-Eyed Pea Curry (Lobhia Masala)


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Lobhia Masala (Black-Eyed Pea Curry)

The flavor of cumin complements black-eyed peas perfectly, so this curry has plenty of cumin — both as seeds and as ground spice. This is a quite a spicy version of this simple Indian dish, so feel free to omit the cayenne and/or reduce the spices and chilies a little if it looks a little too potent for your taste. Even with less spicing, it's still delicious.

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