Reposting – Fishless Tuna Cutlets

Fishless Tuna Cutlets Fishless Tuna Cutlets
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes: 10-15

Ingredients:
3 Yukon gold potatoes, boiled, skins removed, and mashed, (about 3 cups)
2 cans (13oz/369g) Fishless Tuna, well drained
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped, (about ½ cup)
1 Roma tomato, diced
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
5 mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)
3 green chillies, finely chopped (depending on heat and your preference, optional)
3 teaspoons chilli flakes, (depending on heat and your preference, optional)
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander powder
3 teaspoons dry mango powder, (amchur, optional)
¼ cup Bengal gram flour, (besan)
1 egg, (replace egg with two extra tablespoons of Bengal gram flour for vegetarian/vegan)
salt
Oil for shallow frying

Directions:
Add the potatoes, Fishless Tuna, green bell pepper, onion, tomato, cilantro, mint, green chillies, chili flakes, whole cumin seeds, coriander powder, dry mango powder, Bengal gram flour (besan), egg, and salt into a large bowl. Mix well. Form the cutlets and put them on a small tray.

Place a medium-sized non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add oil for shallow frying. Add a few cutlets at a time. If you over crowd the pan, it will be difficult to turn the cutlets over. Wait until you see the bottom edges of the cutlets turn golden brown in color. Then gently turn them over. Fry the other side until golden. Remove and place on a paper towel lined baking tray.

Notes:
1. Drain the Fishless Tuna and discard the water. Put the tuna in a sieve and press it with a wooden spoon so you can get all the water out before you use it.
2. Have all the ingredients ready before you mix them together, form the cutlets, and shallow fry them. If you mix the ingredients and leave it in the bowl to rest the onion, green pepper, and tomato will give out water which will make it difficult for you to form the cutlets.
3. Fry the cutlets on medium heat until you see the edges on the bottom of the cutlets turn golden brown.
4. If you like tartness, then add the dry mango powder (amchur).
5. Both Bengal gram flour and dry mango powder can be bought from an Indian grocery store.
6. These cutlets freeze well.
7. Replace the egg with two extra tablespoons of Bengal gram flour to make these cutlets vegetarian or vegan.
8. Fishless Tuna is a product of Atlantic Natural Foods Meatless Select. The cans are available at the Potomac Adventist Book & Health Food Store in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Fishless Tuna Burger1October 22, 2014 – Attaching a picture of the cans for those that asked. If you don’t have a store that sells this, you can contact the company directly: Atlantic Natural Foods Meatless Select at: http://www.foodprocessing.com/vendors/products/2013/atlantic-natural-vegetarian-proteins/
Fishless Tuna Can Pic

FriChik Curry

FriChik Curry-last
Taste this FriChik Curry and it will be easy to give up chicken! This is by far one of the best meatless meat curries I’ve learned to make. Credit for teaching me how to make this dish goes to my friend, Hannah. Thank you for sharing some of your best recipes with me. I’m certain that many of my vegetarian friends will appreciate this recipe as much as I do.

In my recipes, I often tell you to use chilli, “depending on heat and your preference.” It means that you can decide on the amount of chilli you use depending on how hot the chilli is and how much of it you can tolerate. Remember, that the heat level of chilli powder/green chillies/dry red chillies, differ. Many times I use Kashmiri chilli powder in my recipes because it is mild. So, adjust the chilli to suit your taste.

You can buy FriChik at the Potomac Adventist Book & Health Food Store in Silver Spring, Maryland. You can also buy it on line from Amazon.com. I know how difficult it is to come up with tasty, vegetarian dishes so you will want to bookmark this page.

FriChik Curry
Prep time: 15 minutes (does not include time for soaking nuts)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
¼ cup oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder, (depending on heat and your preference)
½ teaspoons turmeric powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
2 cups blanched and diced tomatoes
2 medium potatoes
2 cups water
Salt
2 cans (12.5oz/354g) Worthington FriChik original
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

For the wet spice paste:
3 sprigs of curry leaves
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons grated coconut, (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
10 cashew nuts
10 almonds

Directions:
Add the cashew nuts and almonds to a small bowl. Cover them with half a cup of hot tap water and let them soak for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes are up add the cashew nuts, almonds along with the water they were soaking in, into a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients for the spice paste – curry leaves, cardamom, fennel, coconut, and cilantro. Blend to a smooth paste. Set aside until you are ready to use it in the curry.

Place a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil and when it shimmers, add the onion. When the onion turns translucent add the ginger-garlic paste. Stir constantly and cook for two minutes or until the raw smell of the ginger-garlic disappears. Add the cumin seeds, chilli, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and tomatoes. Stir occasionally and cook until the oil separates.

Next, peel and wash potatoes. Cut each into eight pieces. Add the potatoes, water and salt. Cover the dish and cook for five minutes. In the meantime, drain the FriChik and discard the gravy. Cut each chunk into four. Add the FriChik and the ground wet spice paste. Stir so everything is mixed well. Then cover the saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until the potatoes are done, about 15-20 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro. FriChik curry goes well with plain rice or rotis.

Vegetable Korma – Delicately Spiced Indian Vegetable Curry

Vegetable Korma2I love delicately spiced, creamy, flavorful Indian curries. When my friend asked me to make vegetable korma for a potluck, I happily obliged. Some time ago, I shared with you the recipe for Korma with Potato and Peas. In that post, I also introduced you to an interesting spice called black stone flower, (patthar ke phool in Hindi, dagad phool in Marathi and kalpasi in Tamil). If you tried the korma with potato and peas, you will find this recipe easy to follow. It’s also quite healthy.

Use a medley of vegetables, that you enjoy the most, to make this dish. I used potatoes, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, and peas. I diced and chopped them into medium size pieces so they would all cook in the same amount of time. I used cashew nuts and coconut to thicken the gravy. You will notice in the ingredients that I’ve listed 2-4 cloves, (depending on your taste). Adjust the amount of cloves and chillies to suit your taste.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients discourage you from trying this recipe. It’s a dish that you will make over and over again.

Vegetable Korma – Delicately Spiced Indian Vegetable Curry
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serve: 8

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
1-inch piece of cinnamon, broken in half
2-4 cloves, (depending on your taste)
1 star anise
2 pieces of black stone flower, (optional)
½ a petal of mace, (optional)
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
3 green chillies, (optional, depending on heat and your preference)
1 Roma tomato, (cut, deseeded & diced)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
1 can coconut milk
4 cups mixed vegetables, (diced and chopped into medium pieces)
1 cup water
4 mint leaves, (optional)
salt
2 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

To be ground to a paste:
½-inch piece cinnamon, broken into bits
2 cardamoms, outer cover removed
2 cloves
½ bay leaf, (broken into small pieces)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 small pieces of black stone flower, (optional)
10 cashew nuts, (soaked in ¼ cup hot water for 15 minutes)
½ cup grated fresh coconut

Directions:
First, prepare the ingredients to be ground. Add the dry spices (cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, bay leaf, fennel seeds, black stone flower) to your spice grinder and powder them. Next, add the cashew nuts along with the water it was soaking in and coconut. Grind everything to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Add two tablespoons oil into a large pan and place it over high heat. Add the vegetables and fry them until they turn slightly brown around the edges. About five minutes. Remove into a large bowl. Turn the heat to medium-low. Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil into the same pan. Add the whole spices – cinnamon, cloves, star anise, black stone flower, mace, cumin, and fennel seeds. Sauté for 30 seconds and then add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns translucent. Add the ground ginger-garlic paste and cook until the raw smell disappears. Slit the green chillies and add. Sauté for 30 seconds and then add the chopped tomato, turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin, and garam masala powder. Stir and cook for one minute. Add the coconut milk, vegetables, and ground paste, water, mint, and salt. Stir so all the ingredients are well combined. Cook on medium-high heat until the gravy begins to boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for eight minutes. The vegetables should be cooked but still hold their shape. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Enjoy vegetable korma with plain rice and dal or rotis.

Fishless Tuna Cutlets

Fishless Tuna CutletsI’m sure you’ve experienced a “high” from doing something you love. That’s how I felt yesterday when I was writing this blog. I held my second cooking class this past Sunday. The compliments and praise I received for the recipes had my spirits soaring! I met some old friends and even made some new ones. Best of all, the audience relished the food, had fun, and learned how to make four of my favorite Indian dishes. My sincere thanks to those of you who attended and to Calvin David for partnering with me. And, of course, we couldn’t have done it without the assistance of Usha David and Amelia David.

I demoed my Fishless Tuna Cutlets at the cooking class and since they were a hit, I thought I would share the recipe with my readers as well. This recipe can be used in different ways. You could make burgers and serve them in buns like I did in the picture below. Alternatively, you could make cutlets and serve them as a side dish with a meal. They would also taste awesome stuffed in pita bread, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and topped with a yoghurt-cucumber sauce. Yum! Try it out and come up with your own way of using this recipe. I’d love to see your results – share them on my Facebook page.

Fishless Tuna Cutlets
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes: 10-15

Ingredients:
3 Yukon gold potatoes, boiled, skins removed, and mashed, (about 3 cups)
2 cans (13oz/369g) Fishless Tuna, well drained
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped, (about ½ cup)
1 Roma tomato, diced
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
5 mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)
3 green chillies, finely chopped (depending on heat and your preference, optional)
3 teaspoons chilli flakes, (depending on heat and your preference, optional)
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander powder
3 teaspoons dry mango powder, (amchur, optional)
¼ cup Bengal gram flour, (besan)
1 egg
salt
Oil for shallow frying

Directions:
Add the potatoes, Fishless Tuna, green bell pepper, onion, tomato, cilantro, mint, green chillies, chili flakes, whole cumin seeds, coriander powder, dry mango powder, Bengal gram flour (besan), egg, and salt into a large bowl. Mix well. Form the cutlets and put them on a small tray.

Place a medium-sized non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add oil for shallow frying. Add a few cutlets at a time. If you over crowd the pan, it will be difficult to turn the cutlets over. Wait until you see the bottom edges of the cutlets turn golden brown in color. Then gently turn them over. Fry the other side until golden. Remove and place on a paper towel lined baking tray.

Notes:
1. Drain the Fishless Tuna and discard the water. Put the tuna in a sieve and press it with a wooden spoon so you can get all the water out before you use it.
2. Have all the ingredients ready before you mix them together, form the cutlets, and shallow fry them. If you mix the ingredients and leave it in the bowl to rest the onion, green pepper, and tomato will give out water which will make it difficult for you to form the cutlets.
3. Fry the cutlets on medium heat until you see the edges on the bottom of the cutlets turn golden brown.
4. If you like tartness, then add the dry mango powder (amchur).
5. Both Bengal gram flour and dry mango powder can be bought from an Indian grocery store.
6. These cutlets freeze well.
7. Fishless Tuna is a product of Atlantic Natural Foods Meatless Select. The cans are available at the Potomac Adventist Book & Health Food Store in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Fishless Tuna Burger1October 22, 2014 – Attaching a picture of the cans for those that asked. If you don’t have a store that sells this, you can contact the company directly: Atlantic Natural Foods Meatless Select at: http://www.foodprocessing.com/vendors/products/2013/atlantic-natural-vegetarian-proteins/
Fishless Tuna Can Pic

Paneer Makhani

Paneer Makhani5
Have you ever been to a restaurant and eaten a dish that you really liked and you wanted to make that dish at home? Well, this is one of those dishes that I really enjoyed in a restaurant in India and wanted to replicate at home. With every bite that I took, I tried desperately to detect what went into it. I also tried many recipes from cookbooks and finally came up with this version of paneer makhani which I felt matched what I tasted at the restaurant.

I recently made this dish for a potluck with my friends and was pleased when they asked me to post the recipe on my blog. The restaurant version had a lot of makhan (butter) floating in it, but I didn’t use as much as they did. Of course, adding an extra pat of makhan just before finishing the dish makes it richer and yummier. But I’ll let you be the judge of whether that is necessary or not when you taste my version.

There is a bit of prep work that goes into making this dish. The paneer needs to be cut into cubes, lightly fried and soaked in hot water. The onions need to be boiled and puréed. The tomatoes need to be blanched, the skin discarded, and then puréed. The ginger-garlic paste can be bought from an Indian grocery store or you can make it at home. I’ve described how to do that in the directions. Cashew nuts need to be soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and then puréed in a blender. Once all the prep work is done and you have all the other ingredients measured and ready to be used, it is easy to put the paneer makhani together. Please note that I made this dish for a large group so it is a larger quantity than I usually make. I hope you will enjoy this dish as much as I do. Happy cooking!

Paneer Makhani
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 10

Ingredients:
3 cups water
2 14 ounce (400 grams) packets of paneer, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons oil
2 large onions, (quartered, boiled, drained and puréed – 2 cups onion purée)
4 large tomatoes, (blanched, peeled, and puréed – 3 cups tomato purée)
5 tablespoons butter, plus 2 teaspoons oil
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
1 teaspoon hot red chilli powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
3 teaspoons garam masala powder
salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon red food color, (optional)
2 teaspoons kasoori methi, (dry fenugreek leaves)
20 cashew nuts, (soaked in water for 30 minutes and puréed)
¼ cup whipping cream
2 cubes grated fresh paneer, for garnishing

Directions:
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring three cups of water to a boil, over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat off, and set it aside. You will use this to soak the fried paneer.

Set two cubes of paneer aside to be used for garnishing this dish. Fry the paneer cubes in two batches. Add one tablespoon of oil to a non-stick frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil so that it coats the bottom and sides of the pan. Add half the paneer cubes and fry until very lightly colored. Remove and put them into the hot water that you set aside for this purpose. Add another tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and fry the rest of paneer cubes until light brown. Remove and put them also into the hot water. Let the paneer soak until you need to add them to the gravy, and continue with the rest of the prep work.

Cut the onions into quarters, boil them in one cup of water until they turn translucent, drain and save the water as you will use some of it in the gravy. Cool the onion and purée. You should have two cups of onion purée. Set aside. Next blanch the tomatoes in hot water, drain, cool, remove the skin, and purée the tomatoes. You should have three cups of tomato purée. Set aside. If you are making the ginger-garlic paste yourself, clean and chop a two-inch piece of ginger and eight cloves of garlic. Add them to a blender along with one tablespoon of water. Blend until a paste is formed. Set aside. Soak cashew nuts in hot water for 30 minutes and then purée in a blender until smooth. Set aside until you are ready to use it in the paneer makhani.

Heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add two teaspoons oil and the butter. The oil is being added so that the butter does not burn easily. When the butter melts add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry for three minutes or until the raw smell of ginger-garlic disappears. Add puréed onion. Sauté for eight minutes. Make sure that it does not burn or catch to the bottom of the dish. Turn the heat to medium-low if needs be.

Next, add Kashmiri chilli powder, hot chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, and salt. Sauté for a minute and add quarter cup of the water in which the onion was boiled (if you remembered to save it or you can just add water). Sauté again till the water evaporates. Add tomato purée, tomato paste and food color. If you are using powdered food color, first dissolve it in a few drops of water and then add it. Stir, cover with a lid, and cook on medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

Add the cashew paste and crushed kasoori methi. Stir well, cover and cook for another five minutes. Use a slotted spoon to drain the paneer that is soaking in hot water and add them. You don’t need to squeeze the water out of the paneer pieces. Add whipped cream. Stir gently so paneer pieces are coated with the creamy gravy and cook on low heat for five minutes. Dish out into a serving bowl. Grate the two cubes of fresh paneer, that you saved to garnish the dish, and sprinkle on top. There you have it, a restaurant style Paneer Makhani.

Creamy Fenugreek Leaves and Green Peas

Fenugreek leaves and peas1

Fenugreek leaves, also called methi in Hindi, is used as an herb and as a spice in Indian cooking. I use the fresh leaves in dals, vegetables dishes, and to make methi paratha. I use fenugreek seeds in pickles, sambars, and to make different powdered spice mixes or pastes. Several of my recipes call for dried fenugreek leaves, which is called kasuri methi in Hindi. The fresh fenugreek leaves have a slightly bitter taste which becomes more prominent when dried. I use dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) in small quantities to flavor my dishes. Amber in color, fenugreek seeds are an essential ingredient to the Bengali five-spice mix, which is call panch phoron. I’ll post a recipe using fenugreek seeds soon.

In one of his shows, Dr. Oz talked about how fenugreek helps boost energy and level your blood sugar. The seeds have been used in India for centuries as a natural remedy for many problems, such as, acid reflux, heartburn, reducing cholesterol, and soothing soar throats.

If you haven’t tried using fenugreek leaves before, here is a recipe to help you get started. You can buy fenugreek leaves at the Asian market or at an Indian grocery store. Use the young, fresh leaves as they have less of a bitter taste.

Creamy Fenugreek leaves and Green Peas
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons ghee
2 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ cup tomato purée, (2 Roma tomatoes, blanched, skin removed and puréed)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
1 cup frozen/fresh peas
2 bunches fenugreek leaves, (methi)
1 cup heavy cream, (you can use milk for a lighter version)
¼ cup cream, (malai)
½ teaspoon sugar
salt
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons kasuri methi, (optional)

Grind to a paste:
1 cup roughly sliced onion
1 tablespoon roughly chopped garlic
1 tablespoon roughly chopped ginger
3 green chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
8 cashew nuts (soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 cardamoms, (use seeds only)
1 clove
½-inch piece cinnamon, (broken into bits)
¼ cup water

Directions:
In a blender, grind the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, cashew nuts, poppy seeds, cardamom seeds, clove, cinnamon, and water to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Pick the fenugreek leaves and discard the stems. Wash the leaves in several changes of water and soak them in hot water for five minutes. Drain and chop them roughly.

Heat ghee and oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds. When they splutter, add the ground ingredients. Stir constantly and cook until the raw smell of ginger and garlic is gone. About three minutes. Add the tomato purée and cook until you see the oil separate. Add the turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder, peas and fenugreek leaves. Stir well, cover with a lid, and cook for five minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir in the heavy cream, two tablespoons of cream, sugar, salt to taste, and garam masala. Crush the kasuri methi in your palm and add it to the creamy gravy. Let it cook for another ten minutes. Do not let it come to a boil. If the gravy is too thick, you can add two or three tablespoons of milk. Turn off the heat, and garnish the dish with the remaining two tablespoons of cream. Serve with chapati, naan or rice.

Cauliflower Subzi

Cauliflower Subzi4Spring is here and there is an abundance of fresh vegetables in the grocery stores. I picked up a medium sized cauliflower the other day and made a “subzi” out of it for dinner. Subzi (or subji) simply means vegetable dish and it can be used with any vegetable. My cauliflower subzi turned out well and I thought I would share the recipe with you.

For this dish, I suggest that you use fresh ginger and garlic and crush them using a mortar and pestle. Using bottled ginger and garlic from the grocery store changes the taste of this dish completely. Also, make the extra effort to roast and crush whole black pepper and whole coriander seeds to sprinkle on the dish just before it is done. This extra step gives this cauliflower subzi a unique North Indian flavor.

Cauliflower Subzi
1 medium cauliflower, separated into bite-sized florets
1 cup sliced onion
2 teaspoons crushed garlic (about four or five garlic cloves)
1 teaspoon crushed ginger (about 1/2 inch piece of ginger)
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

In a large pot, set over moderate heat, add three tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft. Add garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chill flakes, salt, and cumin seeds. Cook for one minute and then add the coriander, turmeric, and garam masala powder. Stir and cook until the oil separates from the tomato-onion mixture.

Add the cauliflower and mix well, stirring occasionally, to make sure that the cauliflower does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook for seven to eight minutes or until the cauliflower is done.

In the meantime, place another small frying pan over low heat and gently toast the black pepper corn, and coriander seeds for three minutes. Remove and cool. Put them in a mortar and pestle and crush them to a coarse grind. Sprinkle the crushed pepper-coriander mixture over the cauliflower. Stir gently, cover the dish with a lid, and turn the heat off. This dish goes well with fresh rotis (Indian bread).

Medu Vada

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Medu vadais are one of my favorite tea-time snacks, but I cannot say that I am an expert at making them. However, I don’t give up easily and I think I’ve finally found the secret of making crisp on the outside, and light, and fluffy on the inside, medu vadais. As I’ve mentioned in the recipe, you have to beat the batter until it is the right consistency. You can test if the batter is ready by dropping a small dollop into a bowl of water.  If it floats, then the batter is ready.  If not, beat the batter a little more and test again.

In the picture the medu vadais I’ve made are smaller in size because I wanted to use them as a tea-time snack. If you would like to use them for breakfast or as a side dish then you may wish to make them larger in size. This recipe is not for the faint of heart. But try it out, and I am sure you will succeed. The end result are crisp, light, flavorful medu vadais so don’t give up.

Medu Vada

1 cup whole black lentils (urad dal)
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons finely chopped curry leaves
2 teaspoons finely chopped green chillies
2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
A pinch of asafoetida
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Roast and powder
1 tablespoon black lentils (urad dal)
1 teaspoon uncooked rice

Soak the 1 cup black lentils in water, overnight. Roast one tablespoon of black lentils and one teaspoon of uncooked rice until fragrant and lightly colored. Cool completely and powder in a coffee grinder.

Drain the lentils that were soaked in water, and grind in a bender adding about two tablespoons of water. Do this in two batches scrapping down to make sure all the lentils become a smooth thick batter. Put the batter into a large bowl and fold in the roasted lentil and rice power. Beat the batter well with a spatula until light. To test if the batter us ready, drop a tiny amount into a small bowl of water if it floats the batter is ready. However, if the batter sinks you will need to beat the batter a little more.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add oil for deep frying. Dip your fingers in a small bowl of water. Take a heaping tablespoon of the batter and roll it into a ball. Make a hole in the center with your thumb. It should look like a small doughnut. Gently slide it into the oil.

Turn the medu vadais when the edges turn golden. Fry both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve vadais with your favorite chutney.

Palak Paneer (Spinach with Indian Cheese)

Palak paneer is a popular North Indian vegetarian dish. When my friends and I go to an Indian restaurant, one of them always orders palak paneer. This recipe, my dear friend, is for you!

I have made palak paneer several times in many different ways, but this recipe is my favorite. Paneer can be bought at an Indian grocery store. I will share a recipe on how you can make paneer at home sometime soon.

A word of caution, make sure that you adjust the number of green chillies depending on the amount of heat you can tolerate. Also, gently crush the dry fenugreek leaves with your fingers, before adding them. This makes a big difference in bringing out the essence of these leaves. Using ghee, dry fenugreek leaves (which is called kasoori methi in Hindi), yoghurt, nutmeg, and lemon juice elevated this dish and gave it a unique flavor.

Palak Paneer

1 pound spinach leaves
3 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 cup finely chopped onion
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons dry fenugreek leaves, (kasoori methi)
2 teaspoons fined chopped green chillies
1 tablespoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup plain yoghurt
12 ounces (340 grams) paneer cut into cubes, and lightly shallow fried
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Wash the fresh spinach leaves, and put them in a large pot with three tablespoons of water. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for five minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander and then place it in a large bowl with ice water. This stops the spinach from cooking and helps retain its color. When completely cool, drain the water, and purée the spinach in a blender.

Melt three tablespoons ghee in a medium sauce-pan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and when they sputter add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add onions and salt; cook stirring frequently, until softened. Lower the heat to medium. Gently crush the fenugreek leaves, before adding them to the onion mixture. Add green chillies, coriander powder, turmeric powder and grated nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about one minute. Add the yoghurt, and spinach purée. Stir, and bring to simmer, allowing the flavors to blend, about five minutes. Gently fold in the paneer cubes. Turn off the heat and stir in lemon juice. Your delicious palak paneer is ready to be served!

Eggplant Sambola

Eggplant (brinjal) sambola was a dish I first tasted when I was in college, lived in the girls hostel, and ate at the cafeteria. Needless to say, there was much to be desired in the meals we were served. Many of us brought different types if Indian pickles, sambola and other preserves which we shared with each other during our meals. It helped the food go down! This reminds me of the song, “Just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down.” But, it wasn’t that bad!

Sambola is often made with lemon, chilli, tomato, onion, and fish. My friends from Sri Lanka introduced me to eggplant sambola. Here is my version of this delightfully sweet, sour, and spicy dish.

Eggplant Sambola

5 medium eggplants
2 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons turmeric
¾ cup oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 cup diced onions
6 garlic cloves
1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
½ cup vinegar
2 ½ teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons chilli powder
3 teaspoons cumin powder
2 1-inch pieces of cinnamon
4 green chillies, sliced
½ cup tamarind
1 cup hot water
2 teaspoons sugar

Cut eggplants into thin slices and rub salt and turmeric on them. Set aside for 30 minutes. Drain liquid and dry eggplant slices with paper towel.

Heat oil and fry eggplant slices over medium heat till brown. It takes about one minute per side.

In a blender add mustard seeds, onion, garlic, ginger, and vinegar, and blend to a smooth puree. Soak tamarind in hot water for about 15 minutes. Strain and keep the extract.

Heat about three tablespoons of the same oil used for frying eggplant slices. Add mustard, onion, garlic, ginger, and vinegar puree and fry until it turns light brown. Add coriander, chilli,and cumin powder. Fry for a minute. Then add cinnamon, green chillies, tamarind liquid, and sugar. Finally add the fried eggplant and simmer for eight minutes.