Deliciously quick & easy vegetarian/
Onion Vadams or Onion Rice Flour Crisps are considered an accompaniment to many South Indian dishes like Sambar (lentil veg curry), Rasam (Tamarind Tomato Soup) and Pulikari (Tamarind Curry) and many more. They are of the same family as Appalams (Pappadams) which are also deep fried but made with white lentils (urad dal) and more commonly with many of the above dishes.
Onion vadams are found in many Indian grocery stores but of course nothing beats the homemade version. Back in my village in Tanjore District, India, these are left to dry on a cloth on the rooftop and because it is delicious even non fried, I have seen my aunts put up scarecrows to scare the birds from swooping in to feast on these crisps!
We don't have the space and time to dry these crisps like in the villages, hence recently my sister and my mom discovered an ingenious way to dry these crisps in a dehydrator which is usually used to dehydrate fruits like orange slices apple slices, bananas etc.
Here's the recipe for a small batch of homemade Onion Vadams - it yields roughly 150 pieces (1cm) or around 750gm. Will keep for weeks if dehydrated well.
1.5cups of rice flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp gingelly (sesame oil)
1/2 large onion - chopped small
1 big green chilli - chopped small
20 medium sized curry leaves - sliced
A small pot for stirring the rice flour mix
1) Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Then add the water and gingelly oil and stir to mix well..
2) Pour the rice flour mix into the small pot and on small to medium heat, stir till you get a thick consistency.
3) After 10 mins approximately, you would notice that the flour is coming together into a big lumpy ball.
4) Here, you add the chopped onion, green chilli and curry leaves. Mix well. Remove from heat and cool down.
5) Using your hands, pinch small mounds of the onion rice flour mix and place it on the dehydrator trays. Leave adequate space between the mounds and fill as many of the trays as possible.
6) Leave it to dehydrate for 24 hours. Store it in an airtight container.
7) Fry and enjoy homemade onion vadam crisps with your South Indian dishes!
There are certain times when after indulgent bouts of spicy masala rich dishes, that one craves for light refreshing salads. This Quinoa Chickpea salad was introduced to me by a committee member during a gathering at my house in December last year to thank them for their hardwork throughout the year. It appealed to me instantly and surprisingly it paired quite well with the Indian dishes I had laid out. Its filling, loaded with protein and the necessary vegetables for fibre, taste and colour! The whole salad can be ready in half an hour and it has become a cult favourite at home.
Ingrdients (for 2 as a main meal and for 4 as a side dish)
1 cup quinoa
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 or 2 spring onion stalks, chopped small
1 or 2 coriander leaves stalks, chopped small
Red Capsicum, chopped small roughly 2 tbsps
Yellow Capsicum, chopped small roughly 2 tbsps
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Pepper per your preference
1/3 cup Lemon juice
1) Boil the quinoa till all the water has evaporated and set aside in a salad bowl.
2) Assemble all the vegetables and chickpeas on top of the boiled quinoa. Mix gently.
3) Season with pepper and lemon juice. Check for salt and add more if required.
4) Serve warm.
What do you do when you have loads of baby spinach at home? Your options are salad, a spinach rice pilaf or why not try a Spinach Balls Curry for a change? The following recipe requires two preparations - one of the spinach balls and another of the curry where the spinach balls soak in. Serves 4-6.
I made this curry right after organising a very stressful event in Dec 2020. I needed to do something to clear my head of the stress. I would usually go for long walk but it was right in the middle of the day at 12 noon and it was 35 deg C in sunny Singapore. Hence, I attempted this recipe. Cooking can be quite therapeutic, especially if the final result is quite surprisingly delicious.
Ingredients (Spinach Balls)
340gm (2 cups) potatoes, boiled and mashed
2 slices of bread (wholemeal preferred), soaked in water and squeezed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsps coriander leaves finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 cup chickpea flour (besan flour)
100gm baby spinach finely chopped
Canola oil for deep frying
1) To prepare the spinach balls, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2) Roll into small 2 cm balls.
3) Heat the oil and deep fry the balls until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper and set aside.
2 tbps Canola oil
2 tsps ginger garlic paste
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsps coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp salt
100gm finely chopped baby spinach leaves
1 tsp sugar
2 tomatoes, chopped
2-3 cups reduced fat coconut milk/almond milk
1) Heat the canola oil in a medium pot and fry the onion, ginger garlic paste, spices and salt for 5-10 mins. Add the chopped spinach leaves and sugar and cook till the spinach has wilted. I added tomatoes later which is not obvious in this pic.
2) Add 1 cup of water and mix well. Cook till the tomato turns pulpy.
3) Blend to a smooth paste. The curry will have a greenish hue due to the spinach.
4) Add the fried spinach balls, reduced fat coconut milk and cook for a further 5 mins.
5) Serve the Spinach Balls Curry warm with rice/chapathi and a simple Kachumbar salad
Tempeh or tempe is a traditional Javanese soy product that is made from fermented soy beans. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds the soy beans into a cake form (see pic below).
Because tempeh is packed into a cake, it offers more protein than other meat alternatives like tofu. It is also very high in fibre and probiotics and hosts a whole array of minerals and vitamins, which I'm not going to bore you with here. Tempeh has a subtle nutty flavour and absorbs any ingredient flavour it is cooked with, much like its cousin, tofu.
Here, I''m sharing a simple baby spinach and tempeh stir fry which is healthy, vegan and easy to whip up in minutes! It can be a snack, a side dish or even a wholesome breakfast dish! I love it for breakfast with baked beans because its a good protein packed start to the day to keep me full longer. Its a relatively simple dish to prepare so there is no requirement for step by step instructions here.
Ingredients (serves 1-2)
Kidney beans in the Indian cuisine are popularly known as Rajma. These unique beans are shaped like a kidney, has a strong nutty flavor with powdery texture and have a reddish brown color.
Rajma is very popular in the Northern Indian cuisine. It goes extremely well with plain Basmati rice or what is popularly known as rajma chawal. Rajma beans are fully loaded with proteins, in addition to minerals like magnesium, molybdenum, potassium, sodium, copper, iron, phosphorous, and vitamins such as Vitamin B complex constituents, Vitamin K and other traces of essential vitamins.
In Indian market there are three types of rajma:
Jammu Rajma or Kashmiri kidney beans refers to a type of kidney beans which hv originated from Jammu and Kashmir region. They are as famous as Kashmiri mirchi (chilli powder). These small red kidney beans are delicious and cook fast. These beans are famous all over Himalayas and it’s foothills for their aroma and subtle taste. Kashmiri rajma come out best when soaked for about 4-5 hours prior to cooking. They may look deceptively similar to the regular kidney beans but in fact they are a notch smaller (see pic below). It is said that some of the best rajma are said to hv grown in Jammu.
I usually cook regular Rajma curry on an occasional basis. But I was introduced to Jammu Rajma by a close friend NK who happened to bring this delicious curry for a potluck lunch at my place in December. She had apparently slow cooked it overnight which explained its ultimate heavenly taste! I refrigerated and enjoyed it for two days after the lunch gathering! Little did i know that there was a another type of kidney beans called Jammu kidney beans!! I was able to source for it locally in Singapore through our regular online grocery store Redmart, but life got in the way and I only got to today Feb 12th to cook and post the recipe here. Don't be alarmed by the number of ingredients. It is actually quite an easy dish to prepare and the final delicious taste definitely beats store bought rajma masala powders. You are sure to wow your family and friends!
Ingredients (serves 4- 8 people)
Jammu Rajma Beans Preparation
2 cups of Jammu rajma beans, washed and soaked overnight or a minimum of 4hrs
4 dried bay leaves
4 stalks of coriander leaves with roots intact, washed well
8 black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
Pound or dry grind the above till you get a smooth powder
1 bay leave
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
4 medium onion, cut into big pieces and blended
4 medium tomatoes, cut into big pieces and blended
2 tsps ginger garlic paste
2 green chillies each cut into 3 pieces
1 stalk coriander leaves, chop small
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsps coriander powder
1/2 tsp asoefetida powder
Pour half cupwater in a small bowl and mix the above spices into a smooth paste
Canola Oil & Salt
1) Wash and soak the rajma beans overnight. The next day, bruise the coriander leaves with roots slightly. Using a pressure cooker, boil the rajma beans in water with salt, 4 bayleaves and the bruised coriander leaves for 10 mins. Set aside to cool. Do not throw the boiled water away - its the stock of the beans and is full of flavour. You may need it to dilute the curry later.
2) Heat a medium cooking pot and heat 3 tbsps of oil. Fry the pounded/ground dry spices together with cinnamom stick and a bay leaf. Then add the blended onion and fry for 5 - 10 mins on medium heat.
3) Then add the 2 tsps of ginger garlic paste and fry for another 5 mins.
4) Next, add in the blended tomato and the masala powder paste. Add salt at this juncture.
5) Cover and simmer for 10 minutes
6) Next, pour the rajma beans without the stock and chcek if its thin enough. If its not, add some of the stock water.
7) Cover and simmer for another 10 mins.
8) Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves and sliced green chilli.
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.