Rice Vermicelli is a thin form of rice noodles. They are sometimes referred to as rice noodles, rice sticks or bee hoon. Rice Vermicelli plays a big role in many Asian cuisines where they are often eaten as part of a soup dish, stir fry or salad. There are many dishes like Satay Bee Hoon, Mee Siam, Mee Soto, Payasam (Indian sweet dish) which all incorporate Rice Vermicelli.
Stir fried Rice Vermicelli with Vegetables and Tofu or Bee Hoon (in Malay) or Mifen (in Chinese) is very popular in Singapore. It is eaten during breakfast, lunch or dinner and it is a staple in all parties and family gatherings. Because it is made of rice, it is easily digestible and there are even brown rice vermicelli available nowadays. It is a very versatile recipe in that you can use many types of other vegetables like carrots, zucchinis, broccoli, cauliflowers or bell peppers. Some just leave it plain to accompany other side dishes.
This dish can be cooked in a Chinese, Malay or Indian way. In the traditional Malay and Chinese way, shrimps are added to enhance the flavor and are served with scrambled eggs mixed into the Beehoon. I have prepared a Chinese Vegetarian version with no eggs and no shrimp.
Ingredients (for 4 )
3 tbsps. Canola Oil
10 oz Rice Vermicelli, cooked and drained according to package
1 block of firm tofu (16 oz) cubed and grilled
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
6 garlic cloves, pounded
1/2 green chilli sliced thinly
2 tbsp. sambal oelek or any chilli paste (reduce to 1 tbsp. if you prefer less heat)
2 tsp mushroom seasoning
2 tbsp. light soy sace
2 cups Chinese Spinach (Bok Choy/Chye Sim)
2 cups of shredded cabbage
Red birds' eye chillies sliced and soaked in light soy sauce
3 stalks of scallions, sliced
Heat the canola oil in a big deep pot and add in the sliced onions.
After 2-3 minutes, add in the pounded garlic.
When the aroma of fried garlic and onion fills your kitchen, add in the mushroom seasoning and chilli paste.
Give it a stir and then add in the vegetables and tofu and let it cook.
Once the vegetables are cooked, add in the cooked vermicelli and pour in the light soy sauce.
Combine everything well and check for seasonings.
Serve garnished with sliced scallions and with any Chinese stir fried dishes. Keep the red bird's eye chilli in soy sauce and extra scallions nearby.
These curry potato stuffed flatbreads are called Aloo Parathas in our Indian cuisine. Aloo means Potato and Parathas refers to the wholemeal flatbreads in Hindi. It is a time consuming dish because it requires kneading, rolling out into flat breads, cooking the filling and lastly toasting the stuffed flatbreads on a skillet. Did I also mention that you have to make a simple non spicy lentil curry to accompany these flatbreads? This is important so that it makes a complete meal with protein, fibre and carbs. But I must say it is a fantastic dish and very popular with many Indians. The flatbreads can be stuffed with many other fillings which I will be posting in the future.
After all the toiling, when you take that first bite and the curry potato filling melts in your mouth and the heavenly taste of fried onions, garam masala and cumin seeds energizes your soul, it will be all worth it. I promise.
Ingredients ( 8 flatbreads )
Ingredients for the flat bread dough ( 16 pieces)
4 cups of wholemeal flour
4 tbsps canola oil
2 cups of skim milk ( + / -)
1/2 tsp salt
Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl and knead into a big ball. Place it on a wooden board and roll with your hand into a long tube. Cut into 8 equal pieces and then you cut these 8 into two pieces each. In the end, you should have 16 equal pieces. If the pieces don't look equal, pinch a bit of dough here and there to make them all equal.
Roll each of these dough into balls on your palms and then into a 3 inch round flatbreads. Keep aside ensuring that each flatbread is covered with a bit of wholemeal flour to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Ingredients for Curry Potato Filling
4 -5 medium sized potatoes boiled in salted water, then mashed well
3 tbsps canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 tbsps ground ginger
1/2 green chilli, chopped finely
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup green peas
Salt per preference
Method for filling
Fry the cumin seeds, and then the onions till golden brown.
Then, add the ground ginger and the green chilli.
After a few minutes, add the spice powders and salt.
After the spices fry for a few minutes, add the peas and the coriander leaves.
Give it a good stir, and then add in the mashed potatoes.
Mix thoroughly and switch off the fire.
Place one flatbread round on the rolling board, then scoop 2 tablespoons of the filling and spread on this flatbread as evenly as possible. Cover this with another flatbread. Seal the ends and toast this sandwiched flatbreads on a skillet with a little oil. Cook the other flatbreads the same way. Serve warm with a simple lentil curry.
What better way to incorporate our favorite Pasta Marinara with a warm soup? Make a delicious comforting Pasta Soup of course! I had just made fresh vegetable stock yesterday and decided that it would be ideal to cook this for dinner.
You can use any type of pasta but Angel Hair Pasta is thin enough to go well with his soup. And to give that protein power, I added a can of kidney beans. Cannellini Beans or Small Red Beans do work as well too.
Ingredients (for 2 as a main meal or for 4 as a side dish)
2 tbsp. EVOO
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 green zucchini, cubed
1/4 red/yellow bell pepper, cubed
1 cup Marinara sauce (See Note)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
5 cups of Veg stock
200gm Angel Hair pasta, cooked according to instructions
1 can (15oz) Kidney Beans/Small Red Bans/Cannellini Beans, drained
Salt and Ground Pepper
Red chilli flakes/Parsley flakes
Cook the pasta, al dente, according to instructions and keep aside.
Take a medium sized pot and fry the onions in EVOO till translucent.
Fry the minced garlic next, again only till translucent and the garlic aroma fills the air.
Add in the zucchini and bell pepper cubes and cook till they are half done.
Add in the Italian, other seasonings and the marinara sauce and let it start bubbling for a few minutes. Do remember that marinara sauce comes with its own sodium hence watch out for the salt.
Pour in the veg stock and the kidney beans and boil for 2-3 minutes.
Lastly add in the cooked pasta and let the whole soup boil for 5 mins.
Serve warm immediately with any bread sides eg Garlic Bites, Bruschetta Bites, Avocado Bites, Gourmet Boscaiola Pizza. Keep red chilli flakes and parsley flakes on the side as accompaniments.
I like Rinaldi Traditional Marinara sauce as it is light and not loaded with seasonings.
Green Mung Bean and Rice Crepes are also called Dosa or Thosai in Indian cuisine. This is one of the basic breakfast or dinner dishes to prepare and is hugely popular in many Indian households and restaurants. It is actually a mix of ground mung bean and rice into thick batter form and left to ferment overnight. Fermentation helps in the flavor and its nutritional content.
I decided to tweak the usual recipe for a healthier version using unskinned Mung Bean for fibre and it turned out pretty good as we can see in the picture above. It is very filling and healthy and can be served with Coconut Chutney, Tomato Chutney and Spiced Lentil Curry (Sambar) or Dosa/Idli Podi (which is actually a few types of lentils and dried chilli roasted and ground with salt).
Ingredients (for 20 small crepes)
1 cup Idli/Dosa Ponni Rice (found in many Indian Grocery Stores)
1/3 cup Jasmine White Rice
1/2 cup Split Unskinned Green Mung Bean
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
Soak all these individually at around 9 in the morning.
At around 9 at night, grind the rice separately and put the batter in a metal container.
Then, grind the soaked green Mung Bean with the fenugreek seeds and pour this into the bowl as well.
Mix well and leave it to ferment overnight. If you are living in a colder climate, switch on your oven for 20mins at 200deg F and then leave the metal bowl in there overnight. That should do the trick.
The next morning, mix in the salt per your preference.
Take a round griddle, spread a little bit of sesame oil and wait for it warm up.
Scoop a ladle of batter onto it and quickly spread in a circular motion till you get a smooth round shape.
Sprinkle a little sesame oil over the top. Heat should always be at medium temperature.
Check the bottom and if it is golden brown, then turn over and cook the other side.
Serve warm with the chutneys and curries.
What can be more comforting than a plate of cheesy warm macaroni and cheese? I was not a fan of mac and cheese in restaurants because they were loaded with just too much sodium! My younger daughter Riya loves Mac & Cheese and I felt awful depriving her of such a comforting dish. I came across an online recipe with sharp cheddar cheese but I felt it would be a little too sharp for children. I used mild cheddar instead and substituted full fat butter with light butter (50% less fat).
This is a recipe for a basic Mac & Cheese. You can even bake it with breadcrumbs sprinkled on the top. There are so many other varieties online as well.
Ingredients (for 4)
3 cups medium size elbow macaroni/shell macaroni
2 tbsps. light butter (or the usual butter if you prefer regular mac and cheese)
2tbsps all purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
4 tbsps. grated Cheddar Cheese
Salt & Pepper for seasoning
Parsley Flakes for garnish
Boil macaroni in salted water till al dente. Drain and set aside.
Take a medium sized pot and melt the light butter.
Add flour and whisk until it becomes a thick paste.
Next, add milk and cheese alternatively till cheese melts and the whole mixture become sticky.
Then, add in the boiled macaroni and give it a stir.
Check for seasoning and add in salt and pepper if required.
Garnish with parley flakes and serve hot with roasted vegetables/baked potato wedges and a simple garden salad.
Aglio Olio Pasta is one of my favorite types of pasta because it is lighter on the stomach and yet so flavorful. While I don't mind my pasta in tomato or creamy sauce, I especially like Aglio Olio because it leaves some space in your tummy for seconds, sides or best of all desserts. Tiramisu is my all time fav of desserts. Haven't had a slice of Tiramisu for quite some time. ( My friends in SG - you know now what to get for me when I am there for vacation in June!! )
Aglio Olio means Garlic and Oil in Italian and this is one dish that you can cook with minimum ingredients. I am always on the lookout for dishes with minimal ingredients and yet flavorful and healthy. Just makes our lives a lot easier, doesn't it?
Some tips when cooking Aglio Olio
1) Pasta should be cooked in above normal salted water to add overall flavor.
2) Do not add oil when cooking the pasta as this will prevent the pasta from absorbing the salt.
3) Pasta has to be al dente and not under or over cooked.
4) Reserve some pasta water to bind the ingredients and the starch in the water will give a smoother finish to the dish.
5) Because you are working with minimum ingredients, the quality of the ingredients are utmostly important. Use fresh ingredients and good quality EVOO.
6) Authentic Aglio Olio is plain but it is now quite popular to add in vegetables to make it a complete meal.
Ingredients( for 4)
3 tbsps EVOO
4 servings of pasta , boiled aldente in salted water according to box instructions.
Keep 1/2 cup pasta water.
1 whole bulb garlic, peeled and pounded ( If you love the taste and the heavenly aroma of garlic -you can increase to 2 bulbs)
1 medium zucchini washed, cut into half and sliced thin
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 and half red bird's eye chili ( reduce if you prefer less spicy), sliced thin
Peel and pound the whole bulb of garlic. It is essential that you use this amount of garlic to enhance the flavor of Aglio Olio.
Take a big pot and start frying the garlic in olive oil. Watch the pot to ensure the garlic does not get burnt.
Then add in the sliced bird's eye chilli and fry for another 2 minutes.
Add in the sliced mushrooms and zucchini. Toss in some salt at this juncture.
Once the vegetables are cooked, add in the boiled pasta and let it absorb the flavor of the garlic. If you find it too dry, add in some pasta water - 2 tbsp should be enough. Check for seasonings.
Serve immediately with delicious Broccoli in Baked Potatoes ( My next post), Roasted Vegetables or Roasted Rosemary Potatoes.
A lovely colorful Chinese dish of noodles and vegetables stir fried in seasonings. I first had a taste of this on the return leg of our week long holiday in Florida last December at the airport. We were all hungry and were looking for something vegetarian to wolf down. Chanced upon this chow mein in one of the Asian Food stalls in the Food Court. That version had mainly oily noodles with minimal vegetables.
I have come up with a healthier spicier version. You can pretty much add in any type of vegetables - cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, julienned bell peppers, baby corns etc
Ingredients (For 4)
300 gm uncooked stir fry chow mien noodles (See Picture Below)
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp mushroom seasoning (See Basics Category on the right)
2 tbsp sambal oelek (See Basics)
2tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 medium carot, cut into matchsticks
20 snap peas, sliced thin
2 cups bean sprouts, washed
1 block of tofu, cubed and grilled
Chopped bird's eyes chili for garnish and serving as an accompaniment
Chopped scallions for serving as an accompaniment
Cook the Chow Mein noodles according to the package and keep aside.
Take a medium sized wok or a deep non stick cookware and then heat the oil.
Fry the chopped onions and then followed by the pounded garlic.
One golden brown, add in all the seasonings except the dark soy sauce.
After 2 mins, toss in the vegetables and the grilled tofu cubes.
Once all the vegetables are cooked, add in the cooked noodles and dark soy sauce.
Toss with two ladles like you would toss a salad.
Serve piping hot with chopped bird's eye chillies and scallions.
I found this recipe online accidentally while sourcing for baked pasta dishes. As usual, I have tweaked the original recipe and this time I hv excluded the garlic, egg and nutmeg.
I have now a baked pasta dish favored by my family. Ricotta Cheese in baked savory food - what an incredible delicious idea! I wasn't aware that ricotta cheese even existed till I came to Penn.
Baked pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese is a complete fulfilling meal. It is sure to be a winner with your family.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/2 lb/ 6oz medium shell pasta, cooked al dente
3 cups marinara sauce ( See Note )
1 cup part skim Ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups low fat Mozarella Cheese
4 Basil leaves, chopped
Salt, Pepper and Chilli Flakes to season per your preference.
Preheat oven to 375 deg F and get a 10inch by 7 inch baking dish ready.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese together.
Stir in the chopped spinach, salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
Spread 1 and 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the baking dish.
Put half of the cooked pasta over the marinara sauce.
Spoon half of the spinach ricotta mix over the pasta and spread it out evenly.
Top this layer with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Repeat the process with the remaining marinara sauce, the cooked pasta and the remaining spinach ricotta mix.
Finish it off with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and toss the chopped basil leaves.
Using your fingers, press the entire mix gently part by part so as to get a good layered finish when cut after being baked.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 mins. Then uncovered for another 10-15 mins till the sides are slightly browned and the cheese has all melted.
Serve warm with additional chilli flakes or hot sauce.
Marinara sauce can either be made at home or you can buy from any grocery store. I like my Marinara sauce to be light and not overwhelmingly loaded with Italian spices, sugar and salt. I tried a few brands before I came across Rinaldi's Marinara Sauce.
We loved the combination of so many types of cheese and hence the second time I baked this dish, I doubled all the cheese! It became heavy and we just couldn't go for seconds! I believe the above combination is the best. But, do try out different quantities - every family has its own preference.
I have never and don't intend to use any ghee or butter in my Vegetable Briyani. On the contrary, I try to always make it as natural or healthy as possible. In fact, I am not too pleased about using food colorings too. Can anyone give me a natural alternative to yellow and orange food colorings?
I have layered my Briyani here, alternating the spice mix with the rice. I learnt how to do this from my older sister June in Singapore many years back. Before that, I have not attempted to try making biryani at home.
Ingredients (for 4 persons)
2 cups Basmati Rice soaked for 30-40 mins
4 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
5-6 drops of yellow food coloring
5-6 drops of orange food coloring
2 tbsps. canola oil
1 big onion chopped big
1 tsp pounded ginger
1 tsp pounded garlic
2 tbsps. Vegetable Briyani Spice Powder (National Brand - found in any Indian Grocery Stores. Any other brand will work as well)
3 tomatoes, chopped big
4 stalks coriander leaves chopped big
1/2 cup water
3 cups of mixed vegetables ( peas, carrot cubes, small french bean pieces, small cauliflower florets or potato cubes)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 block of milk cheese or Paneer (200g) cut into medium sized cubes, grilled
extra (around 2/3 cups) coriander leaves for garnishing
Drain and cook the soaked Basmati Rice with the water and salt in your rice cooker. Sprinkle the food coloring and set aside to cool.
Take a pot and fry the onions followed by the ginger and garlic.
Next add in the spice powder and let the mixture simmer for 2-4 mins.
Add the tomato pieces, coriander leaves and salt. Add the 1/2 cup water and let it cook for 3-5 mins on high heat till tomatoes are soft and mushy.
Blend this mix till smooth and add back into the pot. Pour 1 cup water into blender to get the remaining curry from the sides. Add this into the pot too.
Now put in the vegetables, add in the tomato sauce and cook till gravy is half in quantity and vegs are all cooked.
Before switching the fire off, add in the cubed grilled cheese cubes and combine well. Don't add in paneer too early otherwise it will disintegrate into the curry.
Take another big pot, spread half the gravy on the base and then spread half the rice over it. Toss 1/3 cup of coriander leaves.
Then, spread the remaining gravy followed by the remaining rice and garnish with another 1/3 cup of chopped coriander leaves.
Cover the pot and cook on very low heat for 10 mins.
Serve for lunch or dinner with simple dal curry and cucumber yoghurt dip.
A healthier twist to the traditional Eggplant Parmesan. I switched breadcrumbs with quinoa and chia seeds. I have never tried Quinoa so far and was quite unsure of what to expect. I must say I am now a Quinoa convert!
Quinoa are grain like seeds of the quinoa plant found in the Andes and of all whole grains, it has the highest protein content. It takes only 10-15 mins to cook and it tastes yummy just by adding a few seasonings. And because Quinoa contains 9 essential amino acids, it is a complete protein suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family and are a very good source of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and fiber. These super seeds are very versatile and because it does not alter the flavor of the food they are put in, it can be sprinkled on almost anything - salads, cereals and even ice cream!
The end result of making this dish is a crunchy, flavorful tomato based Italian dish. There are no carbs in this dish. Why not add in al dente pasta in the middle? Or serve this with mashed potatoes?
Ingredients ( Serves 6 as a side dish)
I big Eggplant, sliced thinly and soaked in salted water for 10 mins
2 tbsp EVOO plus extra for roasting eggplant slices
1 cup low fat Mozerella Cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
12 oz marinara sauce
2 cups spinach
Freshly ground pepper
Extra basil leaves for garnishing
Preheat oven to 400 Deg F and get a rectangle deep baking dish of 10 in by 7 in ready.
Brush both sides of eggplant with EVOO and roast in the oven on a separate baking tray for 12-15 mins till they are tender.
Meanwhile, mix the mozzarella cheese with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and set aside.
Take another mixing bowl and mix the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan, quinoa, chia seeds, fresh basil and freshly ground pepper and set aside.
Now for the assembling.
Spread half of the marinara sauce on the baking dish
Arrange 1/2 of the roasted eggplant slices and 1 cup spinach on top and then layer with half of the mozzarella, parmesan and basil mix.
Repeat with the remaining marinara, roasted eggplant slices, the remaining 1 cup spinach and the remaining mozzarella mix.
Top with the quinoa, chia seeds mix and bake until brown for about 25-30mins.