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.
Winter season in Singapore? How unlikely but its happening right now. Siingapore located right on the equator is facing winter like temperatures...a cool 23 deg C ! Its so unusual for a country in the tropics which faces average temperatures of 33-34 deg C. Singapore and the surrounding regions are in the Northeast monsoon period which sets around mid Nov and lasts till March which brings in all the rains and winds at this time of the year.
This cool climate has seen restaurants selling soups a higher patronage. Even at home, we are all craving for hot soups to warm our insides. Just the other day, my older daughter craved for tomato soup and not being a fan of the Campbell version which is laden with preservatives and tastes so artificial, she ventured into the kitchen to make her own home made version. It was fortunate we had in stock all the ingredients she needed.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
2 tbsps EVOO
4 shallots, sliced thin
800 gm canned tomatoes
1 cup water
1 tsp dried oregana
Salt and chilli flakes
2 large basil leaves, chopped fine
A swirl of cashew cream (see tip below)
1) Heat a saucepan and add in the olive oil. Fry the shallots for 3-5 mins.
2) Now, add in the canned tomatoes and 1 cup water.
3) Now add in the dried oregano, salt and chilli flakes and let it come to a boil. Reduce the fire and simmer for 5 minutes.
4) Add in the basil leaves, simmer for 5 more minutes.
5) Blend the mix to a thick soupy tomato mix.
6) Garnish with a dash of pepper, more basil leaves and a swirl of cashew cream. Cashew cream can be made by soaking a handful of raw cashew nuts in hot water for 15 mins. Then blend to form a thick vegan cream.
(Recipe No : 225)
I love rice. Period. If you ask me to go even two days without rice, I would go crazy. Its basically because I'm Asian and for all Asians, rice is a staple food. But the only catch is that too much rice, even brown rice, tends to lead to flabby arms, love handles, belly fat which doesn't seem to go away no matter how hard I tried. So, for the past 3 weeks I have reduced my rice intake to only 2-3 tbsps at every meal. Just so that I can trick my mind to believe that I am still eating rice! It seems to be working so far albeit rather slowly though I am often hungry. So I decided to try alternatives to rice firstly quinoa and after reading countless recipes on cauliflower rice, today I tried using that as an alternative.
My first reaction after I cooked Fried Cauliflower Rice? I went WOW! It was so delicious. And I mean out of the world delicious! I wished there and then that my travelling husband was there to try it. He would have been totalled blown away as well. Do you know what's the best part ? I could eat as much as I want!! They are no carbs here. Just the goodness of cauliflower, mushrooms and spinach! Next time I ought to add tofu to get my protein fix as well. I bought prepackaged cauliflower rice but you can easily make your own by processing cauliflower into little rice-like crumbs.
if you are amazed by the higher quality of the photos in this post as I am, I have to give credit to the camera feature of the latest Iphone 11... amazing HD quality! It even beat my DSLR camera!!
Ingredients (Serves 1-2)
1) 2 tbsps oil and another 2 tbsps oil
2) 5 cloves garlic, minced
3) 250gm white button mushrooms
4) A small piece of red capsicum sliced thin
5) 3 cups baby spinach
6) 300gm cauliflower rice
7) Salt, pepper and chilli flakes
8) 2 tbsps chopped scallions for garnish
1. First heat a medium sized pot and fry the garlic in 2 tbsps canola or any other veg oil.
2) Add in the salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
3) Add in the mushrooms and red capsicum strips at this juncture. Let them simmer till they are soft and cooked.
4) Your next step would be to add in the spinach. Let the whole mix cook on low to medium heat till all the water evaporates.
5) In the meantime, add 2 tbsps of canola oil into a skillet pan and fry the cauliflower crumbs for 5-10 minutes till its golden brown.
6) Once all the water has evaporated from the mushroom mix and the cauliflower rice is cooked, pour the mushroom mix into the skillet pan.
7) Mix and stir fry the cauliflower rice and the vegetables. Once all mixed well, taste for seasonings and add accordingly.
8) Serve warm with chopped scallions as garnish.
American Moments Turns 5!
Yes, it was on a cold dark pre-winter November evening (Nov 14th to be precise) in 2014 in Bluebell, Pennsylvania when the idea for American Moments was born. Now, 5 years later and after more than 222 recipes, its still going strong. I must confess, it has been an absolute challenge to find time to try new recipes, take beautiful well laid out Instagram worthy photos and post them, but I promise they will be posted more regularly. I now make a resolution for the upcoming 2020 to post at least 2 recipes per month? If I falter, please give me a jolt?
I came across this super easy mushroom pasta which looked so creamy without any cheese. How incredible! Just by using flour and coconut milk, a creamy base was created. Packed with mushrooms, it is a perfect weeknight meal. Inspired by mushroom stroganaff, I had to try it and see if my vegan daughters would love it! Yes, its unbelievably quick and easy to make this pasta dish! Girls loved it !! Hv your ingredients all ready and on medium to high heat, this only takes 5 mins!
The recipe below serves 4.
250gm (3 cups) large Penne Pasta, cooked al dente
3 tbsps vegan butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
500gm white button mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
4 tbsps plain all purpose flour
200ml thin coconut or any other non dairy milk
100ml veg stock
1 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
Salt and pepper per preference
A sprig of thyme for garnish and a dash of black pepper/chilli flakes
1) Cook the penne pasta till al dente, drain and set aside.
2) Heat the vegan butter in another pot and fry the chopped onions until softened.
3) Then, add the crushed garlic, oregano and the sliced mushrooms. Fry till the mushrooms are cooked and softened.
4) Add the all purpose flour and stir fry for around 1 min.
5) Then, add in the coconut or any other non dairy milk you are using and vegetable stock. Keep on stirring till it reaches a simmer. It should be perfectly thick and creamy by now.
6) Add in the salt, pepper and dijon mustard together with the cooked pasta. Toss well.
7) Garnish with thyme and serve warm. If it thickens up after some time, add 1/2 cup hot water, stir and warm it up. It should loosen up and be creamy.
(223rd Recipe Credit : LovingItVegan)
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.