Anu, a close friend of mine and a fellow member of our Book Club formed in the eastern part of Singapore, is an avid cook. I have known for many years and each time I go over to her place or she comes to one of ours, she'll bring one of her delicious treats. Once we savoured pizza toast using her own homemade pizza sauce, another time Anu made little dough balls using leftover dosa batter with a very delightful coconut chutney. Last week on Monday, we had a taste of her delicious Briyani using her own home made Briyani Masala.
We all cook for our family and friends but where do we have the time to make our masala powders from scratch? Roasting the whole spices and then cooling and later grinding them into a fine powder. And the proportions must be in the right amounts otherwise you will have in hand either a very bland masala or an overpowering one. I found Anu's Briyani Masala just right and very balanced. Not too spicy, not too pungent. Anu makes all her masalas from scratch - Briyani, Sambar and Rasam as well. She shared her Briyani Masala Powder recipe with me on Monday. Unfortunately, I will not be sharing the masala powder recipe here in this post as I am encouraging her (and empowering her) to start selling her masala powders to all who want a less pungent overpowering store bought ones. Hopefully, Anu will have a thriving home business selling spice powders soon!
This is how her Briyani Masala looked like :
Ingredients (Serves 2)
2-3 tbsps canola oil
1 cup Basmati Rice, soaked for 30 mins and drained
1 medium onion, chopped small
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 and 1/4 tsp of Anu's Briyani Masala
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (for the gorgeous red hue without the heat)
Salt to taste per your preference
1 medium sized potato peeled and cut into 1 inch long thick pieces
1 small sized carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch long thick pieces
2 long beans, washed and cut into 1 inch long pieces
A stalk of coriander leaves, chopped
1) Take a large pot and fry the onion and ginger garlic paste in canola oil.
2) Add the briyani masala, chilli powder and salt and stir for 2-3 mins.
3) Add in the vegetables and 1 cup water and stir and cook on low heat till water evaporates
4) Then, add in the drained basmati rice and stir gently ensuring you dont break the soaked rice. Stir till the oil is evenly coated on all grains of rice.
5) Transfer to your rice cooker. Add 2.5 cups of water and check for salt. Switch on your rice cooker and cook per normal.
6) Serve warm with plain dal and cucumber yoghurt raita.
Baby Eggplants in Tangy Tomato Gravy was a hit in my Diwali gatherings in Oct and Nov last year. It is my mom's quintessential dish and I must say it is quite a flavourful one After receiving several requests for her recipe, I decided to post it here. I have tried to make it numerous times but without success. Today's version, however, seemed close to what my mom churns out for us whenever we request for our gatherings and celebrations. Choose baby eggplants as they can be fried whole and they present well but other types of eggplants can also be used as well. If you are using other types of eggplants, please note that they should be cut into 2 inches. I have used coconut milk to give the gravy its thickness and also to keep it vegan but you can substitute with cooking cream.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish)
500gm baby eggplants
2bsp canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large tomato, cut into medium sized chunks
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp chilli powder
Tamarind Tomato Mix
1 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 2 cups of water
1 tsp coriander powder
3/4 (three quarters ) tsp cumin powder
1/2 (half) tsp black pepper powder
1/2 (half) tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt (or to your preference)
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsps coconut milk
coriander leaves for garnishing
1) Wash and cut the eggplants but not all the way through so it still remains intact at the stem. Soak in salted water for 10 mins. Then, drain away and rinse twice in plain water. This is to remove any bitterness present in the eggplants.
2) Prepare the tamarind tomato mix while the egglants are soaking. Dissolve 1 tsp of tamarind paste in 2 cups of water. Throw away any seeds and skin residue and only keep the tamarind solution. In this solution, add all the masala powders, tomato chunks, salt and sugar.
3) Deep fry the eggplants. This is not very healthy but I'm posting a very authentic recipe to show how it was orginally done. Please do try shallow frying or airfrying. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
4) Take a skillet or a flat pan and heat 2 tbsp canola oil. Fry the onion and curry leaves for 2-3 minutes. Add in 1 tsp chilli powder and be careful it doesn't burn.
5) At this point, add in the tamarind tomato mix and let the mix boil for 5- 10mins till the liquid is half in quantity.
6) Once the liquid has reduced in quantity, add in 2 tbsps coconut milk and stir. Followed by the fried eggplants. Its important you don't stir the eggplants too much as we are keeping them whole. Stirring them too much will dissolve them into the gravy.
7) Serve warm garnished with coriander leaves. Goes particularly well with Vegetable Korma and plain basmati rice.
There are perhaps 50,000 capsicum varieties grown worldwide and they have been classified under 5 major species of cultivated capsicums:
Have I bored you enough? :) So, I came across these peppers while grocery shopping at NTUC Finest in the east of Singapore last weekend. A young lady of perhaps 20 was dressed in a beautiful traditional Korean Hanbok and I was curious to see what she was promoting. At first sight, I was horrified at these chilli peppers! They were huge and looked quite menacing. But she laid my concerns to rest and claimed they were only mildly hot and that they taste very much like our regular capsicums. She had these lettle plastic cups with samples of these cut Dangjo peppers in a mild tomato gravy. I tried a small piece with a tissue on hand in case I needed to spit it out immediately.
Contrary to what I thought, it actually tasted yum! I was bought! The packet of around 15 of these premium peppers costed around $7.50 Singapore dollars but they are truly worth it. Plus, I wondered how long she must have been standing there the whole day and wondered if anyone had bought her pretty expensive bell peppers. I just wanted to help her out in her promotion.
Who says we can't mix Korean and Indian cuisine?
Today I tried making an Indian version of these peppers. It turned out quite delicious. The tomatoes added a sour taste to the peppers and it complemented their mild heat. My husband thought so as well. No way I could introduce peppers to my teen daughters! These Dangjo peppers are so versatile - because they are quite large, you could stuff them with tofu brown rice mix and bake them or you could even make a simple Chinese version by frying ginger and adding light soy sauce and serve them topped with toasted sesame seeds.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish)
300gm Dango Peppers cut at an angle
1 medium sized red onion, sliced
1 ginger garlic paste
1 to 2 tsp turmeric powder
1 to 2 tsp cumin powder
1 large ripe tomato sliced
Salt per preference
A sprig of coriender leaves, chopped roughly
This is a relatively easy recipe so I didn't take photos of the actual method.
1. Take a medium sized cooking pot and fry the sliced onion.
2. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a while.
3. Add the spices and salt and stir well.
4. The sliced tomatoes go in next.
5. After a few minutes when the tomatoes get pulpy, add in the sliced Danjo peppers and coriander leaves.
6. Stir, add half a cup of water and cover.
7. Cook till the Dangjo peppers are soft.
8. Serve it at your next gathering - I'm sure it will be a conversation starter!!
Now that my girls are vegans, I have to replace their favourite egg scramble with an alternative for their breakfast. My younger daughter Riya found a recipe online for tofu scrambled with just turmeric powder and salt. Just turmeric and salt? Wouldn't that be so bland and boring?
So, I added my own ingredients to make it tastier. I must say it did turn out quite delicious. Serve this tofu scramble with baked beans and vegan toast and you have a complete protein packed belly filling start to the day! Now, I make this quite often as it turned out to be a favourite with my family.
Ingredients (For 4)
2 blocks of firm tofu, mashed
2 tbsps of canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
1/4 of each red and green bell peppers, sliced thin
1 medium sized tomato, chopped small
1 sprig coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Chilli powder
1) Heat the canola oil in a large pot and fry the chopped onions for 3 mins on medium heat.
2) Add the sliced bell peppers and fry for another 3 minutes on medium to high heat. Its important the bell peppers are cooked before you add in the tomatoes.
3) Add in the turmeric, chilli powders and salt per your preference.
4) Add in the chopped tomato pieces and cook till it turns pulpy.
5) Finally add in the mashed tofu and mix well.
6) Cook till the mix is well incorporated, roughly 5-10mins on medium to low heat. Watch out for the mix sticking to the pot.
7) Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.
Kachumber is a salad dish which basically consists of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, fruits like pineapples all chopped and tossed with a lemon juice dressing. Its a good side dish which goes well with almost any main meal. I especially find that it pairs well with Vegetable Briyani. The simple light Kachumber balances the complex spice rich briyani well. The Kachumber salad can be made in advance and served just before the dinner/lunch begins. I'm not a fan of raw onions in salad because of the bad breath after. So, I have excluded it here. But, do go ahead to include a chopped onion if you would like.
1 pineapple, peeled and with the eyes removed
1 cucumber, peeled and deseeded
2 medium sized tomatoes, pulp removed
1/2 cup lemon juice mixed with a pinch of salt
1 red chilli, deseeded and cut into thin strips
A few mint leaves, chopped small
Chop all the ingredients into very small cubes and toss with the lemon juice.
Garnish with the chopped mint leaves and the chilli strips and serve with any main meal.
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.