Mango is under utilised in cakes and muffins. Ripe mangoes are soft, sweet and can easily be mashed into the batter, much like the quintiessential bananas. I came across a certain variety of mangoes in my local neighbourhood. They were so juicy, so sweet and a little fibrous. I had to return for more. Overstocked with mangoes all of a sudden, I remembered an easy recipe for a Mango and Nut Bread incorporating nuts and ripe mangoes.
No creaming or melting. Lot of mixing only!!
Ingredients (1 loaf)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar (can reduce to 1/3 cup if you prefer a less sweeter loaf)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup ripe mango flesh
1/2 cup chopped almonds/walnuts
1) Preheat the oven to 180 deg C or 350 deg F. Grease a loaf pan and line with grease proof paper. As always, get all the ingredients ready. From top left clockwise - all purpose flour, eggs, cubed mangoes and sugar.
2) From top left, clockwise - vegetable oil, chopped almonds, vanilla essence (centre), salt and baking soda.
3) Place all the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl - vanilla essence, oil and eggs. Whisk for a few mins till mixed well.
4) Place all the dry ingredients into another bowl and mix.
5) Add in the egg mix into this bowl and mix lightly.
6) Add in the cubed mangoes and chopped almonds.
7) Mix gently so as to leave the air in the batter. Thorough over mixing will result in the air escaping from the batter which would give a flat bread. Pour into a prepared bake loaf - what a lovely yellow hue.
8) Bake for 50-60 mins or until the skewer comes out clean.
9) At the 30 min mark, this is how it looked.
10) The final loaf at 50 mins. A gorgeous golden brown broken crust. Enjoy with your favorite cuppa!
Vietnamese spring rolls are made using thin rice papers as the base, filled with vegetables, cooked meat and boiled rice vermicelli. These spring rolls are not fried like the regular Chinese spring rolls (Egg rolls). Fresh herbs are essential to the quality of these spring rolls. They are then dipped in a spicy tangy sauce and enjoyed as a light refreshing snack or an appetizer.
During my cooking class last weekend, I was introduced to these spring rolls by another instructor Ann who made them using pork and shrimps. When I asked her if I can make it vegetarian, I was met with a reply 'Yes but it won't be nice!' Well, obviously, she is quite ignorant of the culinary advances in vegetarian cuisine. But a participant in the audience quipped, 'But Ms Nilo, you are such an experienced cook. I am sure you can come up with a vegetarian version which would be equally or more delicious!'. What a wonderful accolade and appreciation of my cooking skills. Thank you Lucy, I really appreciate your compliment. It is a definite boost to my culinary confidence.
Grilled tofu strips will be good substitute for the meat. Remember, you hv to work quickly as the rice papers are very thin and will turn sticky quickly. It will be difficult to roll thereafter. These rice papers and hoisin sauce can be found in any Asian store.
Ingredients (for 6 spring rolls)
6 pieces of Vietnamese rice paper (see picture below)
6 pieces of lettuce leaves, medium sized
1/2 cucumber julienned
1/2 carrot julienned
50 gm rice vermicelli, boiled and strained
12 pieces of mint leaves
Ingredients for the Dipping sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 red bird's eye chilli
Ingredients for the Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp crushed peanuts
1) Get all the ingredients ready. From top left in clockwise direction - julienned carrot, julienned cucumber, lettuce leaves, mint leaves and in the centre, boiled rice vermielli.
2) Get the rice papers out of the packet and get a cutting board ready for the rolling.
3) Dip the rice paper in a bowl of water, lift and place it on the cutting board. Moisten the inside of the paper as well.
4) Place the mint leaves and the julienned carrot in alternate fashion on top. This is important so that end appearance of the rolls will be pleasing to the eye. Then place a lettuce leaf in the middle. Place strands of julienned cucumber and rice vermicelli on to the lettuce leaf. If you are also using tofu, place the strips here. Roll up this lettuce leaf.
6) Tuck in the sides of the soft rice paper. Be gentle as it can tear easily
7) Start rolling from the bottom, tuck inthe sides and finish rolling to the top.
8) Roll the others the same way. To make the dipping sauce, place the sugar, lime juice and soy sauce in a small bowl. Whisk them all together till the sugar dissolves. Add in the sliced red chilli and serve with the rolls. In another bowl, pour the hoisin sauce and top it off with crushed peanuts.
A dear friend of mine and ex-neighbour Yew Hong shared this recipe with me so many years ago, probably more than 10 years. I have closely followed this recipe whenever the craving for something spicy, tangy and soupy comes along. And anyone who knows me well will know that a bowl of clear tasty soup will win me over anytime anyday!
Tom Yum Soup can also made using a ready made paste available in many Asian grocery stores but the floating chilli oil puts me off. I prefer making this easy clear version sans oil. It is flavorful and gives a wonderful kick after your first spoonful! Trust me you'll be back for seconds!
Ingredients for Stock
5 cups of water
2 Lemongrass, cut into 3 each and crushed to release its essence
6 slices of Blue Ginger
10 coriander roots
4 small onions ( shallots )
Get all the ingredients ready.
Boil everything for 10-15 mins. Strain and keep the stock. Discard the vegetables.
Ingredients for Soup
6 slices of Blue ginger
1 tomato, sliced into 8 pieces
2 lemongrass, cut into 3 each and crushed to release its essence
4 lime leaves, sliced into strips
1 red bird's eye (chilli padi), sliced
A small bunch of Enoki mushrooms
Juice of 2 big green limes
1/3 cup coriander leaves for garnishing
2 tsp mushroom seasoning
1)Prepare all the vegetables and the seasonings for the Tom Yum Soup.
2) Pour the stock back into the pot and add all the vegetables except coriander leaves and lime juice. Add the mushroom seasoning and salt together with the other vegetables. Let the soup boil for 5 mins.
3) Switch off fire and pour into big soup bowl. Add in the lime juice, stir and then garnish with coriander leaves.. Best served and slurped piping hot!
This dish - Stir Fried Moringa Leaves with Garlic is from an old recipe of my mom's. Growing up, she'll make this version with a spiced lentil curry called Sambar. They can also be cooked in a soupy version with thin coconut milk. These leaves are very popular in South Indian cuisine and are called Murungai Keerai. Little did I know that these moringa leaves are a nutrition powerhouse. In fact, the entire Moringa tree is called a Miracle Tree...every part of it is loaded with nutrition.
Moringa oleifira grows natively in South Asia and the tree is also called drumstick tree or horseradish tree. Its leaves are small and round and packed with incredible amounts of protein, calcium, beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium etc. It has been used in medicine for over 4000years. 100 grams of dry moringa leaves contains -
9 times the protein of yoghurt
10 timess Vitamin A of carrots
15 times the potassium of bananas
17 times the calcium of milk
12 times the Vit C of oranges
25 times the iron of spinach
Even the seedpods called drumsticks are also used in cooking.
Here is the recipe for this easy nutritious stirfry of Moringa leaves :
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 bunches of moringa leaves (600gms)
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 small onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 dried chilli, cut into 4 (optional)
1/2 cup grated coconut
1)First string the leaves from the bunches. This is a time consuming procedure. Give yourself an hour or two for this. [Turn on the music to make it more enjoyable :)]. Wash and drain the moringa leaves. Keep aside.
2) Get the other ingredients ready - from bottom left, sliced garlic cloves grated white coconut and sliced shallots.
3) Heat a deep pot and fry the cumin seeds in the canola oil. After 10 secs, add in the sliced onion and garlic. I added dried chillies for color contrast. Fry all futher till golden brown.
4) This will then be followed by salt, the rinsed moringa leaves and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook on low heat for 10-15 mins. Stir occasionally to cook all the leaves.
5) After 5min, uncover and stir well. Check for salt and add per your preference.
6) Lastly, add the grated coconut, stir and switch off the fire.
Claypot Jasmine Rice with Marinated Tofu and Shitake Mushrooms is a heavenly rice dish. The combination of ginger, bird's eye chilli and all the seasonings goes very well to produce a delicious, filling and wholesome meal. A Cooking Frenz member Alice Lim cooked this for one of her cooking demos but she had used rice cooker instead of a claypot and had made the non vegetarian version using chicken. This recipe has been long pending (since March actually!). As this Claypot rice has all the ingredients for a wholesome meal - carbs (rice), protein (tofus) and fibre (spinach and mushrooms)- you don't actually need any other side dish - though a light chinese soup would be a great accompaniment.
A claypot is required for this rice dish but if you don't have one, use any heavy based non stick saucepot.
Ingredients (Serves 3)
1.5 cups of Jasmine Rice
2.5 cups of vegetable stock
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsps mushroom seasoning
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
½ teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 block of firm tofu, sliced half and again sliced into slightly thick rectangles
10 pieces of white button mushroom or 6 pieces of fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 piece of 2 inch ginger cut into matchsticks
1 bird's eye chilli, sliced
3 cups baby spinach, washed
2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon light soy sauce ( if needed)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon veg oyster sauce
Extra bird's eye chilli and some sliced scallions for garnishing.
1) Wash the rice and soak in 2.5 cups of vegetable stock for 15 mins in the claypot. We will be using this same stock to cook the rice. So don't throw this away.
2) In the meantime, cut the tofu block into rectangles and place them in a big plate/container.
3) Prepare the marinade ingredient. From top left - light soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper powder, corn flour and sugar. Mix them in a small bowl and pour over the tofus slices. Let them marinate for 10 mins.
4) Prepare the other seasonings for the vegetables. From left in a small white bowl - dark soy sauce, sesame oil, chinese rice wine, veg oyster sauce, canola oil and in the centre is light soy sauce (optional extra).
5) Get the vegetables ready.
6) Heat a wok and start frying the ginger matchsticks and bird's eye chilli. The white pepper in the tofu marinade packs a punch, so if you prefer a less spicy dish, add only half the chilli or omit altogether.
7) Then, add in the marinated tofu slices and the marinade sauce.
8) Fry in the oil, turning over regularly till golden brown. Then add in the other seasonings.
9) This will then be followed by the mushroom and baby spinach.
10) Cook till the mushrooms and spinach cook and wilt. Probably 5-10 mins.
11) Start cooking the rice in the claypot. Add the mushroom seasoning and the sesame oil, mix and allow the stock to boil,
12) Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and cook the rice for 5-7 mins. Watch the pot carefully, the rice can get stuck to the claypot and start to burn.
13) When the rice is almost cooked, add the cooked tofu,mushroom, spinach stir fry over the rice.
14) Cover and cook on low heat for 5 mins and switch off the flame.
15) Serve hot garnished with spring onions and more bird's eye chilli.. Enjoy :)
We celebrated Eidul Adha at my mom's place yesterday Sep 12th. She had prepared these cutlets especially to please my 12 year daughter Riya who loves anything made with potatoes. These are easy to prepare and delicious. I have shallow fried them instead of deep frying. It was a good accompaniment to her Basmati Rice, Brinjal and Spicy Garbanzo Beans curry.
Ingredients (makes 16 cutlets )
6 small potatoes, boiled and mashed
1/2 cup onion, chopped finely
1 tsp ginger, chopped finely
1 red chilli, sliced very thin
1/2 cup baby green peas, boiled for 3 mins in microwave.
3 tbsps chickpea flour
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1) Boil the potatoes in salted water. Skin and mash them when cooked. Set aside.
2) Get the other ingredients ready.
3) Lightly roast the chickpea flour so that the raw taste disappears. Keep it aside.
4) Fry the onion, ginger and red chilli in 2 bsps of canola oil.
5) Then add, the salt, white pepper and the green peas.
6) Remove from pot and pour this mixture into the mashed potatoe.
7) Mix well and then add the roasted besan flour.
8) Mix everything well and check for salt. Then start rolling into balls and flattening them into discs (roughly around 1.5 inches).
9) Shallow fry with minimal oil on medium heat till golden brown on both sides.
10) Remove and drain the oil on kitchen towel. Serve warm with ketchup, chilli sauce or mint coriander chutney.
An easy lentils and spinach combination that is a great comapny to heavier rice dishes like Briyani. Or with a rich spicy curry. It can also be enjoyed on its own with plain rice, yoghurt and pappads on days when you are recuperating from an illness and just need something light on your stomach. A protein and fibre rich recipe.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/2 cup of yellow lentils (moong dal)
3 cups of water
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/2 red chilli, sliced
1 bunch of red spinach (around 200gm)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1) Firstly, wash and boil the yellow lentils with salt, garlic and turmeric powder. After 15 mins on medium heat, the lentils will be cooked. Switch off the fire and keep it aside.
2) Wash and chop the red spinach including the red stems. Any other type of spinach can also be used.
3) Prepare the other ingredients. (The garlic slices in the picture below was used for the yellow lentils).
4) Take a medium sauce pot and fry the cumin seeds in the canola oil.. This will then be followed by the onion and red chilli.
5) Add the spice powders and salt and fry for a while.
6) Add in the chopped spinach, cover and let it wilt.
7) Once the spinach is cooked, pour in the cooked yellow lentil and mix well. Serve warm.
I attempted to make modaks (or steamed rice dumplings with sweetened coconut filling) for the very first time for Vinayagar (elephant god)'s birthday which fell on Sep 5th this year. I am a Muslim who has married a Hindu. I try to follow some of the Hindu festivals to my best ability. Anand, my husband, was specially pleased that I made that effort to make Vinayagar's birthday special this year.
I specially decided to do it with love and dedication and prayed to Vinayagar for guidance and success. Modaks are Vinayagar's favourite sweets thus Hindus all over the world make them as an offering to him. Remember that if you are making Modaks as an offering, refrain from tasting them during the cooking process. It is traditional to serve to Vinayagar first before having your first bite.
Ingredients (for 12-14 modaks)
For the dumplings
1 cup rice flour
1.5 cups water
1 tsp oil
a pinch of salt
For the filling
1 cup fresh grated coconut
3/4 cup grated jaggery
seeds of 3 -4 cardomaoms, pounded coarsely
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp rice flour in the end (to absorb moisture should the filling still be wet)
1)To make the filling, heat the oil and roast the pounded cardamom seeds.
2) Add the grated jaggery and let it melt in the heat.
3) This will be followed by the grated coconut.
4) Mix well and let it cook till the mixture dries up
5) Let this cool on the side.
6) To make the dumpling, heat the water, oil and salt in a small pot.
7) When the water comes to a rolling ball, add in the rice flour and quickly mix till it forms a lump. Cover and remove from heat.
8) Let it cool for 5 mins.
To make the modaks, follow these steps...
9) After 5 mins, knead the dough and roll into 14 balls. Be careful as the dough will still be hot.
10) Then, flatten each ball into a hollow disc. Put in the filling and start pinching at the sides till 6 grooves are formed.
11) Join these grooves at the top. Make all the other balls the same way. Do note that the rice dough will be sticky. Either oil your fingers or use rice flour to coat your fingers. My mom has heard that adding a bit of milk to the dough helps.
12) Steam the modaks for 12-15 mins. In the meantime, make the kolam (floor designs using rice flour) outside your front door.
13) Serve the modaks to Vinayagar.