Deliciously quick & easy vegetarian/
One pot dishes are always welcome in any households. Anything that saves us time in the kitchen and lets us spend it with our precious ones or doing something more productive is very welcome indeed. I always cook a layered Briyani when I decided to come up with something simpler. This one pot briyani is very much like my Easy Light Tomato Rice which I have posted earlier.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 cups of Basmati Rice (soaked for 30 mins)
1 big onion, chopped finely
1 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tomatoes chopped medium sized
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp any Briyani Spice powder
Extra coriander leaves for garnish
1/2 cup of cauliflowers, cut into small florets
1/2 cup baby peas
1/2 cup long beans, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
1/2 cup carrots, cubed thin
1/2 cup potato cubes
1) Soak the Basmati rice for 30 mins and drain away the water.
2) Get all the ingredients ready. Microwave the vegetables in a bowl of salted water for 5 mins.
3) Heat a deep big pot and add 2 tbsps of canola oil. Saute the onions and ginger garlic paste till light brown.
4) Add in 2 tsps of briyani spice powder and mix well. Any brand will do and it is easily available in many indian grocery stores. I added 3 small green bird's eyes chillies at this point for added heat. But its totally up to you.
5) Add the chopped tomatoes and let the misture turn into a pulpy gravy. This would take around 3-5 mins on medium heat.
6) Blend this gravy to a smooth paste and pour it back into the pot. Add the boiled vegetables, salt, tomato paste and coriander leaves. Give it a good stir and let the vegetables absorb the gravy for 3-5 mins.
7) Add the drained basmati rice and pour in 4 cups of water. Stir and check for salt. Add more, if required.
8) Cover and cook on low heat for 10 mins. After 10 mins, open and stir gently. The rice grains will still be wet, let it evaporate over 5-10mins.
9) Garnish with more coriander leaves and serve with a light lentil curry and cucumber raita.
It was long pending - me making an okra curry. Then, out of the blue, it happened last week. Having just returned from Mustafa ( a multi storey shopping mall in Singapore where you can find Indian food stuffs and practically everything else under the sun!), my fridge was overstocked with fresh okras which I had to unload in a curry. The timing was perfect...my fridge being stocked with okras and my long awaited want to whip up an okra curry. Didn't I say there is a time for everything? :)
It turned out delicious. My older daughter Ranya's comment was 'Mom, you can actually make and sell this curry!" :)
The base of this curry is very well balanced with the tomatoes and the spices blending very nicely. One can even substitute the okras with paneer and bell pepper cubes for an even delectable dish. Goes well with chapathis, pooris or even steamed rice. I made a simple vegetable lentil rice that day to accompany this curry. Here is how it went :
Ingredients for Tomato Paste to be blended
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 inch ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 green chilli
2 tbsp yoghurt (less if you prefer less sour)
250gm okra pods
2 tbsp canola oil
1 bay leaf
1 big onion / 2 medium onions chopped finely
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp crushed fenugreek leaves (optional)
2 tbsp coriander leaves
1) Wash and cut the okra pods into 1.5 inch pieces. Lightly shallow fry them with a little bit of oil till it is brown on all sides.
2) Blend the ingredients of the tomato paste to a smooth texture.
3)Heat 2 tbsp of canola oil in a medium pot and then fry the bayleaf for about 5-7 secs. Add the finely chopped onions.
4) Lower the flame and add all the spice powders and salt. Let the spices cook for a while in the oil.
5) Add the tomato yoghurt paste and cook on low heat till you see oil forming on the sides of the gravy.
6) Add 1 cup water and stir well. If you prefer a thinner curry, you can add more water (not more than 2 cups in total).
7) At this point, add the shallow fried okra pieces and cook for another 5 mins on medium heat.
8) After 5 mins, the gravy would have thickened and it would look like this. (it already looks yummy at this point isnt it?) Add 1/2 tsp fenugreek leaves (if using) and serve garnished with coriander leaves.
One of the easiest rice dish to make. Cooked rice is mixed with lemon juice , roasted peanuts and minimal seasonings. It is a common South Indian dish and best eaten with just chutney or yoghurt and some pappadams. Spicy, tangy, lemony and crunchy....
Ingredients (Serves 3)
1.5 cups Jasmine Rice
2.5 cups water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 green chilli, sliced
10 curry lesve
1/3 cup peanuts, pan roasted
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt per preference
Chopped coriander leaves for garnishing in the end
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp urad dal
1 tbsp chana dal
2 dried chillies, cut
1) Firstly, pan roast the peanuts with 1 tsp of oil till crispy (roughly 5 minutes on medium heat).
2) Get all the ingredients ready.
3) Get a deep big pot and heat in 3 tbsp of canola oil. You will need this amount of oil to coat the rice grains evenly. Add in the ingredients for tempering and let them crackle and splutter.
4) Add in the sliced chilli and the curry leaves now.
5) Next, add the turmeric powder and salt and mix well. This will then be followed by the cooked rice.
6) Add the lemon juice and the roasted peanuts.
7) Lastly, add in the chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with your favourite curry.
Watercress plants are an aquatic perennial herb found in abundance alongside slow running waterways and near natural springs. Watercress leaves and stems are both edible and are rich in many Vitamins - Vitamin A, C, E and K and other essential minerals. Obviously very low in fat and cholestrol and a good source of protein, folate, magnesium, potassium (I could go on and on here). But the best thing is it makes a great soup - both in western version nd the chinese version. I have posted the western version here wih home made croutons. Makes a great winter warming soup. The recipe is skinny too - only skim milk and olive oil has been used. You can substitute with butter and cream for added richness.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1) Cube the potato and chop the onion finely.
2) Clean and wash the watercress leaves and stems.
3) Heat a deep soup pot and pour 2 tbsp EVOO. Fry the chopped onion, minced garlic and potato cubes for 3-5 mins.
4) Add in the vegetable stock and skim milk and cover. Cook for 5 mins till the potato cubes are done.
5) Add the watercress leaves and stems and cook for another 3-5 mins.
6) This is how it would look at the end of the cooking time.
7) Process this in a blender and return it back to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.
8) To make your own croutons, cut bread into cubes and fry them in a pan with EVOO till they turn light brown on all sides. I used foccacia bread for that earthy meditaranean taste.
9) Serve with homemade croutons and a swirl of EVOO. Top it off with a few low fat Feta Cheese crumbles for that extra flavor.
Laksa is a dish of Peranakan origin. Peranakans are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who settled in the British archipelago - including Malaya (now Malaysia) and Singapore. Many of these Chinese immigrants married the local Malays and adopted the local way of living. Members of this hybrid community refer to themselves as Baba Nonya- Baba being the term for the males and Nonya for the females.
Apart from the architecture and food, even their clothing was locally influenced to evolve into their unique way of Peranakan attire. I can't write about Peranakans without mentioning their beautiful Sarong Kebaya and the intricate beaded slippers called Kasut Manek (See pictures above). Apparently, it takes 100 hours to finish one pair!! A true test of artistry and craftmanship.
From the Malay influence, a signature Nonya cuisine emerged using typical Malay spices like fiery red chilies, lemongrass, turmeric and shrimp paste etc. Nonya Laksa is a very popular dish in Singapore and Malaysia. It is cooked using special Laksa Beehoon simmered in a spicy coconut shrimp broth. It is usually served non-vegetarian using chicken, fish or prawns.
I have attempted the vegetarian version here using non-shrimp based curry and substituting tofus for the protein. And I have used reduced fat coconut milk to make it skinnier than the original version. The thought of using skim milk did cross my mind but sometimes its ok to be a little sinful, I guess :) I have not tried the actual Laksa so I am not sure about how this vegetarian version compares to it. But my helper who recently had her Laksa fix vouches that it is a close competition! Another challenge accepted and accomplished! Yay to me :)
Ingredients (serves 4 as a main meal)
Ingredients for Spice Paste (to blend)
1 thumb size turmeric rhizome
1 thumb size blue ginger (galangal)
2 tbsp roasted sesame seed paste
6 dried chillies, blanched in hot water for 30 mins till softened (or 3 tsp chilli paste)
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp canola oil
1 lemon grass
1 litre veg stock
400ml low fat coconut milk ( skim milk can be used as well)
1.5 tsps salt (adjust according to your preference)
1 tsp sugar
1 block of firm tofu, cut into small rectangles and shallow fried/airfried
2 cup beansprouts, blanched in hot water for 2 mins
2 packets of Laksa Beehoon, blanched in hot water for merely 10 secs (don't blanch for too long, it will turn mushy)
1/2 cup Laksa leaves, chopped fine
1 tsp sambal chilli
1)Get all the ingredients for the spice paste ready.
2) Grind to a smooth paste.
3) Add the canola oil to a soup pot and fry the blended spice paste and the lemongrass for 5-10 mins.
4) When the lovely aroma of the cooked spice paste fills your kitchen, add the veg stock and then the reduced fat coconut milk. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and sugar.
5) Add the tofu pieces and let the gravy simmer for 10 mins. (This is my own step as I thought that the tofu pieces will absorb the rich gravy and will taste yummy in the end. Usually it is just served on top of the dish just before serving.) In the meantime, blanch the beansprouts and chop the laksa leaves. Blanch the beehoon for no more than 10 secs. Remember the beehoon will also cook later in the hot gravy.
6) For the final steps, start assembling the ingredients. It is important to remember that Laksa must be assembled just before serving. Place the blanched beehoon first in a shallow bowl. Then top with the blanched beansprouts. (Apologies for the quality of my photos - it was difficult to get a nice shot with the sunrays streaming in through my kitchen windows.)
7) Scoop the still simmering gravy with tofu pieces over the beehoon and beansprouts.
8) Finally, garnish with the chopped laksa leaves and add a teaspoon of chilli sambal for that extra kick. Enjoy your first taste of Peranakan cuisine - vegetarian version ! [When I finished cooking Laksa yesterday, my first thought 'Is it really this easy and so straightforward?' I had always thought that Laksa must be a cumbersome time consuming dish. I was pleasantly surprised :) ]
Hi guys! I'm Nilofar Iyer and I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family and friends with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.