Chickpea Flour Dumplings Simmered in a Spicy Yogurt Sauce

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
chickpea dumpling curry

A few of my friends recently noted that I have toned down the spice lately. Well, this recipe will please those that like Indian hot like I do. When I have dinner guests, I understand that not everyone can handle the heat like I can, but this time around I was up to the challenge and this is one spicy dish. My husband and dear friend Basil are used to my spicy touch and so they got what they asked for. I recommend that you eat it slowly along with your rice or Indian flat bread and serve some yogurt on the side to cool the palate, or otherwise reduce the spices in the curry to your taste — but please leave the spices in the dumplings alone, they are absolutely terrific as is.

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No Croutons Required - The Winner for January

The challenge for January was to come up with a soup or salad featuring black-eyed peas. All of the entries are tempting and I can't wait to try them all. The choice was surely a tough one, but the most popular entry this month was lovely Susan's stunning Turkish Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Pomegranate, Walnuts and Zahtar Dressing. I have already made it, with a few minor adaptions. I will post about it soon. Be sure to visit her blog for delicious recipes and gorgeous photos. Congratulations to Susan and thanks to all who submitted their creations.

Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes will be hosting the February edition of No Croutons Required. The challenge this month is to come up with a soup or salad featuring fresh herbs.

Buckwheat and Molasses Pancakes

The strong and distinctive nutty taste of buckwheat flour is always a treat in buckwheat pancakes, but using the cracked whole "grain" in addition to the flour adds an extra toothsome chewiness to this breakfast classic. Available from Bob's Red Mill at most major US and Canadian supermarkets, cracked buckwheat is also a delicious and fast hot breakfast cereal by itself — and if you can't find it, these rich and filling buckwheat and molasses pancakes are just as delicious if increasing the amount of buckwheat flour accordingly. And if you do have cracked buckwheat on hand, you can also grind it to make the buckwheat flour.

buckwheat pancakes

Despite its name, buckwheat is no relation to wheat or any other grain, but is instead the seed of an herb plant that can be ground or cracked for use as with wheat or other whole grains. Buckwheat is also one of the best sources of protein among all the grain-type foods, and is also rich in B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus and iron. Because buckwheat has no gluten, regular flour is added to the batter so that the pancakes are soft, spongy and just right.

Buckwheat and Molasses PancakesBuckwheat and Molasses Pancakes
Recipe by
Published on January 28, 2012

The distinctive nutty taste of buckwheat and the earthy sweetness of molasses makes these pancakes a great morning treat.

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  • 1/4 cup cracked buckwheat
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole spelt or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole fat yogurt
  • 1/3 cups spring water
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • Combine the buckwheat and flours in a large mixing bowl with the yogurt. Cover with a clean dishcloth and leave overnight at room temperature.

  • Stir in the water, egg yolks, baking powder and spices. Cover again with the dishcloth and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

  • Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the batter. Mix in the molasses, leaving a few dark streaks in the batter.

  • Heat a non-stick griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Lightly grease the pan with butter. When the pan is hot enough to makes drops of water dance and sputter before vanishing, pour in 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until small bubbles appear on the edges, then flip and cook for 2 more minutes or until the batter is set and the sides are golden brown.

  • Remove from heat and serve right away with fresh fruit and warm maple syrup.

Makes 15 4-inch pancakes
buckwheat pancakes breakfast

More pancakes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Light and Creamy Ricotta Pancakes
Baked Blueberry and Peach Pancakes
Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crushed Peas and Cilantro
Apfelpfannkuchen (Baked German Apple Pancake)

On the top of the reading stack: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More by Maria Speck

Audio Accompaniment: Roy Harper

Indian-Style Yellow Split Pea Curry (Matar Dal)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Indian style yellow split pea curry

Split peas — or matar dal — are not the most frequently used legume in Indian dal curries, but their rich, earthy taste and hearty, chewy texture contrast beautifully with the hot and tart and tangy flavors for which Indian cooking is so famous, and make a wonderful change of pace on occasion. This simple and colorful curry takes abundant advantage of these natural combinations of Indian flavors with the humble split pea, and takes no more than 10 minutes of preparation and 15 minutes of cooking.

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Risotto-Style Barley with Kale, Goat Cheese and Parmesan

Here is yet another recipe from my new favorite cookbook (though I really can't pick a favorite but easily become obsessed with my newest acquisitions). Completely vegetarian, with gorgeous photos accompanying mostly all of the recipes, veggie lovers will certainly want to obtain a copy of this comprehensive book. River Cottage Everyday Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will please the palates of vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike. Each chapter has a charming introduction and the recipes included are not strictly comprised of just vegetables. Cheese is included in many of the dishes, and legumes, pasta and breads and mini bites are also featured.

barley risotto

Risotto type dishes such as this have always been comfort food for me. Though they take a bit of time to make because you have to make sure to add the broth a bit at a time and stir, it is well worth the effort.

Hint: save rinds from blocks of Parmesan cheese and add them to your stocks and soups and remove when the dish is done. I added a rind to my stock and cheated and used some veggie cubes free of artificial additives. Serve with Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Tomatoes, and you are in for one satisfying and nourishing meal.

Risotto-Style Barley with Kale, Goat Cheese and ParmesanRisotto-Style Barley with Kale, Goat Cheese and Parmesan
Recipe by
Adapted from River Cottage Everyday Veg
Published on January 23, 2012

A charming, earthy and wholesome seasoned barley risotto cooked with kale and Parmesan and dressed with rounds of creamy goat cheese

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  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed or minced
  • a few sprigs fresh thyme leaves, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 1/3 pound kale, trimmed and roughly cut
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • a few slices of goat cheese for garnishing each bowl
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Heat the stock or water with some salt in a medium sauce pan and simmer over low heat.

  • In a large saucepan, heat half of the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic and thyme and fry and stir occasionally until the onion is softened.

  • Add the barley and stir for a minute or so. Now add the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Gradually add a ladle spoon of the stock, and stir until each addition is absorbed. Repeat until the barley is al dente. This should take about 20 - 25 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, heat the rest of the butter and another tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and when hot, add the leeks and stir and fry until tender. In a medium saucepan, heat some water over medium heat and add the kale. Simmer until the kale is slightly wilted. Drain off excess liquid.

  • When the barley is done, stir in the leeks and kale and grated Parmesan cheese. Add more salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste and a bit more oil.

  • Serve in bowls, topped with a few slices of goat cheese.

Makes 4 - 5 servings

Other risotto dishes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Spicy Adzuki Bean Risotto
Lemon Risotto with Leeks and Mushrooms
Baked Mushroom Risotto

On the top of the reading stack: The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

Audio Accompaniment: rain and wind

No Croutons Required - Black-Eyed Peas

The challenge for January was to make a soup or salad featuring black-eyed peas. Thought to bring good luck for the new year, this delicious legume can be enjoyed anytime of year. The possibilities are endless. Please vote for your favorite recipe in the comment section or via email. Thanks to everyone who found the time to enter this month. Please note that my recipe is not eligible for voting.

Our first entry is from Janet of The Taste Space. I could not resist this Trinidadian Black-Eyed Pea Stew. Adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, this dish is made up of black-eyed peas, green pepper, onion, carrots, veggie broth, brown rice, ginger, allspice, thyme, mustard, Aleppo chili flakes and garnished with fresh chives, cilantro and lime or lemon wedges. I totally understand the need to purge the kitchen from time to time, but I too procrastinate. Such a lovely and nourishing dish. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Our next entry is from Vnv of Veggie Monologues. As I always enjoy cooking South Indian dishes, I immediately fell in love with this Black-eyed Peas dish with Daikon Radish. Here we have black-eyed peas, daikon radish, ginger, green chilies, cilantro, turmeric and for the tempering, mustard seeds, urad dal, red chilies, asafetida and curry leaves. This recipe was adapted from another of my favorite cookbooks. (Bay Area, CA, USA)

My submission this month is this mouthwatering and warming Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Tomatoes and Spices. Easy to prepare, this dish consists of black-eyed peas, onion, Jalapeno peppers, carrots, fresh parsley, tomatoes, veggie stock, celery seed, brown rice, ginger, allspice, thyme, mustard powder, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, hot sauce, corn, fresh lemon juice, fresh chives and Parmesan for garnish. A nourishing and balanced dish in one bowl. Perfect for this dismal time of year. (London, Ontario, Canada)

My dear friend Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook offers up this gorgeous Turkish Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Pomegranate, Walnuts and Zahtar Dressing. Black-eyed peas, scallions, walnuts, pomegranate arils and parsley are dressed with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, zahtar, salt and black pepper. Certainly a classic dish and I want to make it right now. Susan always comes up with unique recipes. (New York, USA)

Sweatha from Tasty Curry Leaf is hoping for good luck with this delightful Money Salad. I could not resist this combination of Black-eyed peas, red onion, celery, roasted red pepper, cilantro, cumin, hot sauce, fresh ginger, and salt and pepper. Easy to prepare, filling and nourishing. (Bangalore, India)

Our last entry is this creative Black-eyed Pea Butternut Squash and Israeli Couscous Soup with Spinach Pesto from Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu. Certainly a meal in a bowl, here we have black-eyed peas cooked with onion, garlic and bay leaves. After discarding the onion, garlic and bay leaves, the next step is to heat olive oil in a large pot, and then toss in onions, carrots, celery, leeks then garlic and the squash. Fresh thyme is added along with crushed red pepper, vegetable stock and tomato paste. After that, Israeli couscous is added and then the cooked beans. This delightful soup is then topped with a pesto made up of spinach, garlic and walnuts. As I happen to have a good supply of walnuts on hand, I will for sure be trying this dish. (Augusta, Ga, USA)

Jacqueline will be hosting the next edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme for February.

Spicy Cashew-Crusted Paneer with Tomato-Cashew Gravy

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Among the many extraordinary ingredients found in Indian cuisine, paneer cheese is high on the list of my personal favourites — if 26 previous recipes hadn't convinced you of that already. Made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice and pressing the curds into a firm cake, this unripened cheese is one of the great cooking cheeses of the world, remaining firm when cooked and with a mild milky taste that takes on the flavourings of spices or other ingredients that you're cooking it with. A significant source of protein for India's large vegetarian population, paneer cheese is easily found in any Indian, Middle Eastern or Asian grocer, and you can freeze it to keep a plentiful supply on hand.

paneer marinated

Paneer cheese recipe #27 is a simple protein and flavour packed dish that makes a wonderful light dinner served with fresh hot cooked rice. Cubes of paneer cheese are marinated overnight in a spicy tamari and yogurt sauce, then rolled in crushed cashews and fried to give them a beautiful golden-brown nutty crunch, and served with a fragrant tangy tomato and cashew gravy. Substitute peanuts for an even nuttier taste.

A reminder that submissions to this month's No Croutons Required will be accepted until the 20th. Soups and salads featuring black-eyed peas is the theme. Please submit your recipe. I might even extend the date a bit, as I hardly have any entries so far - a shame as this is a fine legume and easy to cook up. It can something in your archives, but please do link back to my announcement.

Spicy Cashew-Crusted Paneer with Tomato-Cashew GravySpicy Cashew-Crusted Paneer with Tomato-Cashew Gravy
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on January 18, 2012

Paneer cheese cubes marinated in a spicy tamari and yogurt sauce and fried in a golden-brown cashew coating, served with a tangy and spicy tomato and cashew gravy

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  • 14 oz paneer cheese,
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons tamari sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup raw cashews, crushed to a powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
Tomato-Cashew Gravy:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Cut the paneer cheese into 1-inch or bite-sized cubes and add to a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, tamari sauce, salt, cayenne and turmeric. Pour the yogurt mixture over the paneer and gently toss to coat the cheese cubes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, spread the crushed cashews over a plate. Roll the coated paneer cubes through the crushed cashews and add the pieces to the heated frying pan. Cook for 5-10 minutes, turning frequently, until the paneer has turned a golden colour. Remove from heat and use tongs to remove the paneer from the pan. Set aside.

  • Wipe the pan and return to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Toss in the onion and cumin seeds, and stir for 2 minutes until the onion just starts to turn translucent. Stir in the ground coriander to coat the onion, then add the chilies, ginger and chopped cashews, and continue to cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, turmeric and cayenne, and stir for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have reduced.

  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the salt. If you wish to have a smooth gravy, remove the sauce from the pan and process in a blender or food processor, and return to the pan. Now add the cooked paneer cubes and simmer for 5 minutes to let the cheese warm up again. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Makes 4 servings
Spicy Cashew-Crusted Paneer with Tomato-Cashew Gravy

Other paneer recipes from my kitchen:
Paneer Tikka Masala
Paneer Mushroom Masala
Paneer Butter Masala

On the top of the reading stack: The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

Audio Accompaniment: Sasha - Involver

Roasted Beetroot with Toasted Walnuts and a Yogurt Dressing

beetroot salad with walnuts

Beets, walnuts and some yogurt make for a perfect and nourishing salad for the cooler months. Though beets can be rather a messy pain to deal with, they are well worth the effort, especially when roasted to preserve their goodness. Though I am far from being an expert photographer, I think maybe I should watermark my images as I have found two sites in the past couple of weeks stealing my content including my recipe, write up along with photos. What a shame when us honest bloggers and foodies go to so much effort to create unique and original content. Off to Siberia they should go. Thankfully I have managed to deal with two sites trying to make money off other folk's creativity.

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Cayenne Peanut Butter Cookies

cayenne peanut butter cookies

I suppose this recipe should come with a warning if you can't take the heat, but spice it up is my motto and that even includes baked treats, such as these moist yet slightly crunchy peanut butter cookies that my husband said were some of the best ever. If you can't handle too much heat, cut down on the spice, but I assure you this is one cookie you won't forget and they are easy to prepare and the smell when they are cooking is divine. Baking is often a stress reliever and though I am more of a savory girl, I do enjoy treating family and friends to homemade baked goods.

Give this recipe a try because even without the spice, these are delightful cookies and one of the most successful versions of peanut butter cookies that I have whipped together. Easy, and rather unusual with the addition of spice, your palate will be craving for more than just one though your tummy might protest if you eat too many at one sitting. I maintain that dismal Canadian winters call for some spice and always an excuse to turn on the oven to warm up a bit.

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Kidney Bean Curry ( Rajma )

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

Plump kidney beans simmered in a spicy tomato based gravy is one of my favorite ways to enjoy this earthy legume. Essentially an Indian version of chili that so many of us in the Western world enjoy, there are endless versions of this curry enjoyed throughout India. Rather easy to cook up, you will eagerly be awaiting dinner as the spicy aroma fills the kitchen. Rajma is particularly popular in North India but also enjoyed in South India as well with multiple variations.

This is a substantial dish that goes well with rice and / or any Indian flatbread of your choosing and side vegetable dish - a perfect meal for a cold winter day but comforting and enjoyable anytime of the year.

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Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Tomatoes and Spices

black-eyed pea soup

Cold weather calls for warming and nourishing soups and if you spice it up, you will be cozy under your blankets. I made this dish for New Year's Day as black-eyed peas are thought to bring prosperity and good luck for the New Year. Even if not (and I could use some luck and so I cross my fingers and legs) my husband and dear friend Basil enjoyed this delicious meal alongside some green beans and baby potatoes dressed with collard greens and olives. Apart from the prep, this is an easy and trouble-free soup to prepare. Let us celebrate the New Year by kicking unwanted mooches to the curb and welcoming dear friends and family for a feast of good food.

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Staple Corner: How to Make Your Own Curry Powder

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
curry powder

Serious cooks who are smitten with Indian cooking should always have a fresh made spice blend of curry powder on hand. While you can get excellent pre-prepared blends at your local Indian grocery store, you can perfect your own version to add extra flair to your dishes. It will keep for several months in a tightly-sealed jar.

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Olive and Feta Scones with Rosemary, Basil and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

olive and feta scones

Savory scones and biscuits are always a welcome treat to go along with dinner. I made these scones for my family's Christmas Eve dinner. Because I was making nut roast for our Christmas dinner, I figured I would break my usual tradition and prepare the biscuits for the meal before Christmas. I always prefer to give than to receive and what better way to say I love you than to make good food to share. There is lots of flavor in these delightful and filling scones and they take hardly anytime at all to whip up and they won't last long at the table.

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Spicy Urad Dal with Tomato and Fennel Seeds

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Uniquely mild and floury in taste and aroma, split and skinned urad dal is among my favourite of Indian dals for the way it pairs so beautifully with aromatic seeds and spices and ginger. Easily digestible and quick to assemble and cook, this dal dish is thick, creamy and incredibly flavourful, and resembles an Indian-style risotto in consistency, appearance and ability to wow your guests if there is enough left over after you and your significant other to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Suitable for vegetarians as well as vegans, this dish might be an ideal way to introduce your children to the delights of Indian cuisine.

urad dal

As always, split and skinned urad dal and other Indian ingredients such as curry leaves and asafoetida are easily available at any Indian grocer.

Spicy Urad Dal with Tomato and Fennel SeedsSpicy Urad Dal with Tomato and Fennel Seeds
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on January 2, 2012

A quick and easy-to-make and easily digestible urad dal curry resembling an Indian-style risotto and packed with zesty Indian flavors

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  • 1 cup split urad dal, without skins
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 green or red chili, seeded and minced
  • small handful dried curry leaves
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Rinse the urad dal under cold running water and let soak for 20-30 minutes in several inches of water. Drain and rinse again. Add the urad dal to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the dals are tender but still hold their shape. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

  • Heat the ghee or olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. When hot, toss in the cumin and fennel seeds and stir for 1 minute. Add the onion and stir for 2 minutes or until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the ginger, chili and curry leaves, and stir for 1 minute.

  • Drop in the asafoetida, stir once, then add the tomato, turmeric and cayenne. Stir for 2-3 minutes longer to let the tomatoes start to soften. Now add the cooked urad dal and stir to coat the dal with the tomato and spices. Stir in 1 cup of water, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to heat the dal and let the flavours blend.

  • Remove from heat, stir in the salt, and serve hot over a bed of freshly cooked white rice if desired or with some Indian flatbreads, such as Naan bread.

Makes 4 servings
Spicy Urad Dal with Tomato and Fennel Seeds

Other urad dal recipes from my kitchen you may enjoy:
Urad Dal with Tomatoes (Urad Tamatar Dal)
Urad Dal with Tomatoes, Spices and Coconut
Fennel-Flavored Urad Dal Soup
Urad Dal with Fresh Fenugreek

On the top of the reading stack: River Cottage Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Audio Accompaniment: Sasha

No Croutons Required - The Winner for December and the Theme for January

Happy New Year to all my readers, friends and family. The challenge for December was to submit a festive photo. The winning entry this month from Ruth of Makey-Cakey is this lovely photo of a Snowy Hawick. Congratulations Ruth.

I will be hosting the January edition of No Croutons Required. The challenge this month is to come up with a soup or salad featuring Black-Eyed Peas. This popular legume is thought to bring good luck and prosperity if served for New Year's dinner, especially along with collard greens. I will except submissions until the 20th of the month. For details about the guidelines, check here.