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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Microwave Vegetable Soup

December is upon us and it truly feels like winter. Fast forward to March and still winter is here with a vengeance. It seems as if winter is enjoying its stay and doesn't want to leave us anytime soon. I woke up today with snow in our driveway and see one more  snowfall in this week's forecast. If that happens, probably this would be the first March snowfall I would be witnessing among the dozen winters I have spent in this country.
A hot bowl of soup is so comforting during these dreary, long winter days and that's what we had today - a simple, nourishing veggie soup, prepared in a microwave.

I don't follow any particular recipe for a vegetable soup and add any vegetables that I happen to find in my refrigerator. Today, in went onion, potato, carrot, green beans, peas, cabbage, green capsicum and green onions.

Ingredients for 4-6 servings: (Use it as a rough guideline)
A small onion, finely minced
Finely chopped veggies (I had about 3 cups)
2 tsp canola oil / butter / ghee
1 Tbsp of corn flour / all purpose flour (optional and can be used if the soup needs to be thicker)
Milk - 1/2 to 1 cup (optional and fat free will do)
3 cups vegetable stock / water / bouillon cube + water
Salt and pepper to taste

Add minced onion and oil to a microwave safe bowl and mix it. Then fry it in microwave for about three minutes stirring in between. If using, add the flour to the onion and fry it for about a minute.

I happened to add about 3 cups of water and vegetables to the onion mixture and put it in the microwave back. When the water started to boil, I added about one vegetarian bouillon cube. I allowed it to cook for about 12 - 15 minutes, stirring in between.
You can add the milk, salt and pepper at this point. Stir and check the seasonings. Add extra water if a watery soup is preferred. Just heat through and serve.

This goes to Srivalli's MEC event; guest hosted by Saraswati of Sara's corner  for the month of February with the theme 'Soups'.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Greengram Sprouts Salad

Here is a simple salad which can be be part of a meal or can be eaten as a snack. I have given the measurements just as a guideline and they can be altered according to one's need.

What you would need for 2-3 servings:
1 cup greengram sprouts
1 small sized onion
1 small sized tomato
Salt to taste
Juice extracted from half of a lime / lemon
Chat masala / Garam masala / Ground pepper to taste 

Finely chop the onion and tomato and add them to the sprouts.  Sprinkle salt and chat masala / the spice of your choice. Squeeze the lemon juice. Mix well and serve.
Chat masala and garam masala, the warming spice mix from Northern India are sold in Indian grocery shops.

This is going to be a part of
My legume love affair guest hosted by Rachel and the event creator is Susan.
No cook event hosted by Padmajha and
Show me your salad hosted by Divya.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Subzis for Siri ~ Fennel Flavored, Mixed Vegetable Subzi

Today's recipe is for Siri.  Not one but for two Siris. One is my sister and the other one being Siri of Siri's Corner. She is guest hosting Indira's Jihva this month and the theme ingredient is Fennel Seeds.

A couple of years ago, we had a subzi with rotis at the local Swami Narayan Temple, which they were selling under the name of some shaak. Shaak is the Gujarati name for the subzi / curry.
It had cluster beans, yams and some other unrecognizable veggies with oodles of sugar added. Though sweeter to my taste, the assortment of vegetables in some unfamiliar gravy had an appealing flavor. It was quite different from the subzis I had eaten earlier. I attempted to recreate that subzi a few days later at home since I happened to like it.
Though I didn’t know what went into it, my taste buds gave a vague idea about the spices that may have created the magic. I played a little with the spices in my pantry and created this subzi. It turned out quite well and though not exact, but almost tasted similar to the temple dish. Though many spices are used, fennel seeds stand out with the aroma and flavor they impart to this dish.
This is only an inspired dish from the temple kitchen and not the original one. I therefore have taken the liberty of a cook and have used my choice of veggies and spices.
Hope you would give a try.

Ingredients that would serve 5-6 people:
Chopped onions & tomatoes (I used 2 each, small sized ones)
Chopped vegetables - about 3 cups (I used carrots, potatoes, Green beans, peas and edamame)
Salt - 1.5 tsp
Canola Oil / peanut oil - 1 Tbsp
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
For the paste: 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp poppy seeds, Seeds from 2 cardamom pods, 2 cloves, 2 small pieces of cinnamon, a small piece of ginger, 3 small sized green chilies of medium heat, 1 tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves and 3 tbsp of shredded fresh coconut

Heat oil in a kadai or deep-based sauté pan. Add the cumin seeds and when they start to sizzle, add the onions and turmeric powder. Cook on slow flame, stirring in between till onion turns translucent. Then add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add all the vegetables and add sufficient water so that all the vegetables are covered in water. Cook on high flame till the vegetables are done. Keep an eye and add extra water, if needed. Vegetables must be tender but still hold their shape.
Mean while; grind all the ingredients mentioned in the list adding a little water. Add the paste and salt. If the subzi seems dry, a little water can be added at this point.
Let the vegetables simmer for about 5 minutes on slow flame so that all the flavors mingle.
Serve hot with rotis.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Koora Podi & Vankaya Koora


Koora Podi – Spicy lentil powder used to prepare the subzis in Andhra and not to be confused with the 'world famous' curry powder sold in the western world.

When cooking for special occasions (including weddings), preparation of the koora podi is a must in our homes. Though this powder can be used for many other vegetables, it goes well especially with the eggplants.
The flavorful eggplants and the aromatic spicy powder are just a perfect match, when combined.

The following ingredients yield about 3/4 cup of koora podi:
3 Tbsp chanadal
1.5 Tbsp uraddal
1.5 Tbsp coriander seeds
4 tbsp shredded dry coconut (copra)
10 red chillies

Toast chanadal and uraddal individually in a microwave / saute pan till they turn reddish brown. Saute the coriander seeds till they turn slightly brownish and add the red chillies at the end. Cool and grind all the ingredients into a fine powder. Store it in a air tight container.

7 eggplants - 3 cups chopped (I have used the smaller, purple variety. The green colored ones or even the slender ones can be substituted.) 
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp koora podi
4 tsp oil
1/4 tsp turmeric powder, few curry leaves, 1 tsp each mustard seeds & chanadal

Cut the green stalks before chopping eggplants. Cut each eggplant lengthwise into two halves. Then go again lengthwise into thin slices.
Heat oil in a saute pan and add the chanadal and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to pop and the dal start to turn reddish, add the curry leaves and turmeric powder. Stir the contents once and add the eggplants. Keep the pan covered on low flame till the eggplants are done. Then add the salt, koora podi and mix well. Taste and adjust the salt and powder quantities if needed. Let the eggplant cook for a minute and then turn off the stove.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Beerakaya Pachadi / Ridgegourd Chutney

Required ingredients:
Peeled and cut ridgegourd cubes - 3 cups
Urad dal - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Red chilies - 12
A pinch of turmeric powder and asafoetida each
Oil - 2 Tbsp
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a small saute pan and add urad dal and mustard seeds. When urad dal starts to brown, add the red chillies, turmeric powder and asafoetida. Saute for a few seconds and add the ridgegourd cubes. On low heat, cook covered till the ridgegourd cubes are tender.
Cool the mixture. Add enough salt and grind into a coarser paste.
Serve with some hot, steamed rice and a spoon of ghee.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our beloved Appa and Amma are gone.


The last month of a year happens to be dear to me and I look forward to it with (some!!) enthusiasm. I celebrate my birthday that month and also by coincidence, this blog was also born in December. My blog completed three years this past December and I was thinking about posting something special for my virtual baby's third birthday.
However, God had different plans and the year 2009 ended on a tragic note for our family.
My father in law passed away during the first week of December. My grieving mother in law, who could not bear the separation of her companion of 66 years, joined him. We lost the pillars of our family, in less than two weeks.
Every one who knew Amma and Appa adored and respected them. They were my other set of parents, God sent. Probably, I would never come across again such couple in my life. They were kind, generous, unselfish and large hearted who spent most of their life giving to others.
It is still shocking to us and hard to believe that they are gone.
We miss their presence, love & affection, guidance, words of wisdom .......

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