Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts

Apr 5, 2017

Nepali Style Okra (Bhindi Tareko)

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Tantalize your tastebuds with this simple spicy okra dish from Nepal! Sliced okra is first flash-fried to banish any trace of slime. The pods are rendered crisp, delightfully chewy, and infused with the warmth of cumin, coriander, and chilis. Try this quick and easy vegan recipe to get a healthy serving of vegetables with any meal. 

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Nepalis do a lot of simple stir-frys like this. Be it potatoes, lab lab beans, or even chayote. If you see tareko on the menu at any casual eatery in Nepal you can be sure it will be a lightly spiced, fresh, and tasty vegetable side prepared this way. My maid showed me how to make this bhindi tareko or fried okra recipe that she makes quite often at home. It's the easiest, fastest, and most delicious okra dish that even my mutton-crazed Kashmiri family loves. Since this dish has a crisp and chewy texture it's a great way to use those okra pods that are a little past the petite and tender stage and are a bit large and fibrous. We enjoy this as a side dish with rice or rotis. If you're doing the low-carb thing I could see this as a delicious accompaniment to a garam masala spiced grilled chicken breast.

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To minimize the dreaded slime that can accompany okra dishes it is advised that the pods be completely dry before slicing. I do this by rinsing them vigorously in a colander and then setting them out in full sun in the backyard to dry outside for at least two hours. It seems to help if the okra gets a little wilty before cutting too. Frying the sliced okra in salted and smoking hot oil really gets rid of any residual stickiness. After about ten minutes of frying any and all slime is absolutely gone. Do not cover the okra while cooking as steam seems to perpetuate sliminess also. Using a shallow, wide pan like a skillet so that the okra can be spread in a single layer help to achieve the crispy edges and aid in slime reduction too. Utilizing a pan with a non-stick finish will allow you to use considerably less oil if desired also. That's all the okra cooking tips I've learned over the years so now it's off to the recipe!

Ingredients:
1/2kg/1lb okra, tops and tails removed and sliced into scant half inch rounds
3 TBS cooking oil (or just enough to cover the bottom of your cooking vessel)
2-3 dry red chilis/lal mirch broken in half (omit for less heat)
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
2 tsp ginger/adrakh paste
2 tsp ground cumin/jeera
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do-
1) Heat oil in skillet or kadhai with one teaspoon salt for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and broken red chilis and fry for half a minute.

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2) Add chopped okra and stir well to coat all pieces with oil. Allow to fry for 5 minutes uncovered.

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3) Add 1 teaspoon salt, garlic paste, ginger paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, and turmeric to frying okra and stir well.

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4) Fry for 5-7 minutes more or until the okra becomes crisp. (Don't worry if the okra seems a bit slimy, after about 10 minutes of frying the slime completely disappears.) Salt to taste and serve as an accompaniment to rice or rotis.
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Helpful Hints:
You might wish to retrieve the dried red chilis from the dish right before serving. This will minimize the risk of anyone biting into a random fiery hot bit of chili while enjoying their okra. Nepalis and Kashmiris would not remove the chili bits before serving but might toss them aside on their plate when served.

Mar 22, 2017

Peanut Butter Shorties (eggless)

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This decidedly decadent shortbread recipe makes the peanuttiest peanut butter cookies ever! Adding salted peanuts lends an extra bit of crunch and a deliciously salty-sweet flavor. Buttery, meltingly tender, and so simple to make this egg-free recipe can can easily be made vegan by substituting a good quality margarine or shortening for the butter.

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I think it's well known worldwide that Americans love peanut butter. Yes, it's as American as apple pie, hot dogs, and the 4th of July! Peanut butter has everything we American love with it's salty, savory, and rich peanut flavor. Unfortunately the rest of the world seems to find peanut butter's rather sticky and somewhat velvety texture revolting. That would include my Kashmiri family. So I found this classic un-foul-uppable recipe in my Sierra 4-H Club cookbook from 1973. Baked into a cookie is the only way my Kashmiri clan loves peanut butter. Actually, now that I think about it they'll eat peanut butter in these chocolatey easy no-bake 5 Minute Cowpat cookies too. But that's about it.

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What's not to love?!?
 All cultural considerations aside, these cookies store well, are eggless, and super easy to make. They can certainly be made vegan by simply substituting a good quality vegetable shortening or margarine for the butter. Whether you make these made these with the organic Hessian-weave peanut butter from the health food store or the greasy kid stuff from the supermarket they turn out great! Chunky or smooth both work well too. I prefer to keep them strictly peanut-y by adding salted peanut but you could get posh and personalize them by adding white or dark chocolate chips or even honey roasted peanuts. If you really wanted to get fancy you could drizzle or dip them in white or dark chocolate for a true indulgence! And so without further ado here is the recipe, enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 C butter or margarine, softened and at room temperature
2/3 C peanut butter, chunky or smooth
3/4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2&1/4 C all purpose flour
1 C salted and roasted peanuts, or mini chocolate chips

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl beat together softened butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Be sure there are no lumps of butter. (The lumps or bits you see in the photo below are peanuts from the chunky peanut butter I used.)

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2) Add flour and peanuts to creamed mixture and mix until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will start out a bit crumbly but should start sticking to itself after about 2-3 minutes of mixing. Cover dough with cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

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3) When ready to bake heat oven to 325F/170C. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls the size of walnuts. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment or a silicone mat about 2 inches apart. Flatten with the bottom of a glass wrapped in cling film or the heel of your hand. (I used a tablespoon sized cookie scoop to form the dough into balls before flattening with the bottom of a glass wrapped in cling film.)

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3) 4) Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are slightly browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from baking sheet with spatula. Makes about 3 dozen. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Helpful Hints:
This recipe can easily be made vegan by the use of a good quality vegetable margarine or shortening in place of the butter.

This recipe could easily be customized to your tastes by adding dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or honey roasted peanuts instead of salted peanuts. 

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Feb 6, 2017

Cherry Cardamom Snowballs (eggless)

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Surprise your valentine with these Cherry Cardamom Snowballs! A touch of warm cardamom spices up chewy cherries in this tender and buttery cookie. So easy to make and so pretty too!

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These are really good. As in I made five batches of these before I could get a photo of them. My family ate the first four batches of these before I could even take a picture! I had to hide these in a box on top of the refrigerator out of sight to get these photos. 

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I wanted to make a pink snowball cookie for Valentine's Day. The only thing remotely pink in my pantry was a jar of maraschino cherries. We all know by now that Bibi's favorite cookie is snowballs -so why not cherry snowballs? What's Bibi's favorite spice for cookies (other than cinnamon)? Cardamom! So why not Cherry Cardamom Snowballs? Yes! And it worked. Brilliantly. As always these snowball cookies are a breeze to make, look daintily delicious, and can easily be made vegan with a good quality vegetable shortening. Have a Happy Valentine's Day and enjoy!

Ingredients:
3/4C powdered sugar
1C butter or margarine, softened (or vegetable shortening)
seeds from 7-8 green cardamom pods, coarsely ground (or 1 tsp ground cardamom)
2 tsp maraschino cherry juice
1 tsp baking powder
few drops red food coloring
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red food coloring
2C all-purpose flour
1/2C drained maraschino cherries, chopped finely
1C powdered sugar for rolling

Here's what to do:
1) In large mixing bowl beat powdered sugar, butter, cardamom, 2 teaspoons maraschino cherry juice, baking powder, food coloring, and salt until thoroughly blended.

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2) On low speed, beat in flour a half cup at a time. Stir in cherries. Cover dough with cling film and chill for at least four hours. (I usually put mine in the freezer overnight.)

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3) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/ Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on silicone mat or parchment lined cookie sheets.


4) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring from cookie sheets to cooling racks with spatula. Cool 20 to 30 minutes.

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5) If desired roll cookies in powdered sugar. Makes 24 cookies. Store in airtight container for up to one week.
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Jan 30, 2017

Momo ko Achar (Nepali Chutney for Dumplings)

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Momos are a savory dumpling of Tibetan origin that are popular in Nepal. Momo ko achar is the spicy tomato based dipping sauce traditionally served with momos. This recipe combines fire roasted vegetables with earthy cumin, bright coriander, zesty red chili, and the surprising zing of Szechuan peppercorns. The result is an amazing blend with a uniquely Nepali taste! Serve as an authentic accompaniment to steaming hot momos or as a delicious dip for potstickers. 

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My Nepali maid taught me how to make this chutney or dip. I've tasted several different versions of this sauce across Nepal but hers is still the best! I guessed what was in the chutney but didn't know Nepalis charred the tomatoes, bell pepper, chilis, garlic, and ginger. Fire roasting certainly makes a huge difference in flavor! 


For truly authentic momo ko achar the vegetables would be roasted on the embers of a traditional Nepali stove called a chulo. Chulos come in various sizes and configurations but are generally made of clay and wood fired. The lovely lady in the above photo has one of the newer indoor models which have a chimney built along the wall. If you look closely you can see her pots are coated with mud on the bottom to prevent blackening and scorching from the fire.  I am told nothing can compare to the taste of food slow-cooked upon a chulo but I use my gas stove for more timely results. I char the vegetables on the gas burners of my stove but you can get similar results if you use the broiler in an oven. I wondered if the spices would be dry roasted but traditionally they aren't.

Nepali timur or Szechuan peppercorns
Please be advised that this chutney is HOT.  It's not just the green chilies that are spicy hot. Nepali timur or Szechuan peppercorns and red chili powder adding their zing too. So there's three kinds of heat going on in this sauce! You may leave the chilies out for less heat and swap the traditional timur for tamer black peppercorns - but momos are meant to be eaten with tears streaming down your face!

Ingredients:
3 large tomatoes
1 bell pepper/capsicum, destemmed and deseeded
2-3 green chilies/hari mirch
4 cloves of garlic/lahsun, peeled
1&1/2 inch piece of ginger/adrakh, peeled
1 C cilantro/dhania, chopped
1 tsp cumin/jeera, ground
1 tsp coriander/dhania seeds, ground
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika plus 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
1/2 tsp timur/Szechuan peppercorns (or ground black pepper)
1 TBS oil of choice
Salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Roast the tomatoes, bell pepper, green chilies, garlic, and ginger until blackened. Either put them over an open flame or cut them in half and put them under a broiler until the skin blackens and splits. I do this on the gas burners of my stove but traditionally this would be done on the coals of a cooking fire.

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2) Allow roasted vegetables to cool completely. 

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3) When the roasted vegetables have completely cooled peel away the blackened skin. Remove seeds and stem from bell pepper. Place roasted vegetables, cilantro, cumin, coriander, Kashmiri mirch, timur, oil, and one teaspoon salt in a blender, mixie, or food processor. Grind until mixture is smooth.

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4) Grind until mixture is smooth. Salt to taste and serve with piping hot momos or potstickers. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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Helpful Hints-
Other authentic variations of this recipe blend in a tablespoonful of dry roasted sesame seeds or dry roasted peanuts.

Jan 18, 2017

Kashmiri Rajma Gogji (Spiced Beans with Turnips)

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In Kashmiri, rajma means beans and gogji means turnips. We're talking true Kashmiri comfort food in this hearty dish of delicately spiced beans and tender turnips. A truly authentic recipe that can easily be made vegetarian or vegan. Pair this traditional dish with heaps of steamed rice for a delicious meal on a chilly day. 

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Turnips or gogji are a favorite Winter treat in Kashmir. The turnips you see in the photo above are grown in our garden from Kashmiri seeds. As temperatures drop in the valley root vegetables become a plentiful Winter staple. I have never seen anyone get so excited about turnips as my Kashmiri family. The Kashmiris have many dishes combining turnips with everything from lotus roots (nadroo) to their beloved mutton. Pairing beans with turnips isn't a combination I would have ever thought of but it works! 

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The dish starts by frying the turnips in salted oil. This is an step many recipes miss. The resulting caramelized salt crust really gives the turnips a bit of extra flavor, texture, and authenticity. The browned turnips are then set aside while a masala base of traditional spices is prepared. A mutton bone is often included in this base for extra flavor. (If you don't have a mutton bone or wish to make this dish vegetarian or vegan just leave it out. There's more than enough flavor in this dish without it.) Then the beans are stewed until soft with the masala making a rich gravy. The fried turnips are then returned to the pot for a final simmer until rendered deliciously tender. Traditional Kashmiri rajma are a tiny variety of kidney beans quite similar to the beans used in the famed Creole dish of red beans and rice. Here I'm using a local Nepali variety of red beans that have a similar rustic flavor and soft texture. Regular kidney beans or pinto beans work well with this dish too. In Kashmir, heaps of steamed rice are served with rajma gogji as well as other Winter dishes like haak maaz(collards with mutton), monji haak (kohlrabi greens), tao mooj (fried daikon radish chutney), and baby potatoes (dum aloo).

Ingredients: 
1&1/2 C dry kidney or pinto beans soaked in 4 cups water with 1 tsp salt for at least 4 hours up to overnight then drained and rinsed (or two 14 oz cans of kidney or pinto beans with liquid)
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
1/2 C onion, diced
1 mutton bone (optional) 
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste or 1/2 tsp asafoetida/hing
2 brown cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
3 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
4 cloves/laung
2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika plus 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
1 tsp dry ginger powder/soonth
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/2kg or 1lb turnips, peeled and cut into approximately the same size

Here's what to do: 
1) Peel turnips and mix with 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl and set aside. Some liquid will come out of the turnips. Heat oil or ghee in pressure cooker with 1 teaspoon salt or deep, heavy bottomed pot for 7 minutes. 

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2) Rinse salt off turnips and pat dry. Fry turnips in salted oil until browned on all sides. Set fried turnips aside.

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3) To the same hot oil add diced onion and mutton bone if using.  Cook for 5-7 minutes or until onions are just turning brown. Add garlic paste or asafoetida to onions and fry for 2 minutes stirring well. Add brown cardamoms, green cardamoms, cloves, and cumin seeds to fried onion mixture. Stir well and fry for 2 minutes.

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4) Add soaked or canned beans, ground fennel, Kashmiri mirch, dry ginger powder, and turmeric to fried onion and spice mixture. Add enough water so that beans are covered by 2 inches of liquid in pot. If using pressure cooker and soaked beans: seal lid and allow to steam until beans are tender. If using pressure cooker and canned beans: seal lid and allow to steam for one whistle. If using soaked beans and stock pot: bring to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, top up water if necessary. If using stock pot and canned beans: allow to simmer covered for about 20 minutes stirring frequently.

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5) When beans are tender add fried turnips to them. Allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes or until turnips are cooked through. Add 1/2 cup water if liquid gets too low or mixture begins to stick or scorch. For a thicker gravy take a large spoon and smash some of the beans against the side of the pot. The dish is done when turnips and beans are to cooked to desired tenderness. Salt to taste, garnish as desired and serve with mounds and mounds of steamed rice!

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Dec 12, 2016

Sindhi Style Chole (Curried Chickpeas)

Sindh is a province in Pakistan and chole means chickpeas or garbanzo beans. In this hearty vegan recipe chickpeas are cooked until tender in a richly spiced and savory gravy. Spicy but not hot- this dish gets it’s flavors from aromatic spices such as cumin, cloves, black pepper, and brown cardamoms. Serve over toasted bread in the traditional Sindhi manner or with rice and rotis for a delicious vegetarian meal.


This is my absolute favorite recipe for chickpeas. I’ve seen this recipe all over the internet unattributed for many years now. It’s a bit different than other chickpea curry recipes in that the whole spices (brown cardamoms, cloves, cassia leaves, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds) are boiled with the chickpeas rather than fried with the gravy. This allows the mellowed warmth of the spices permeate the dish. If you love spices but not the fiery heat of chilis then this is the dish for you. On a recent trip through Delhi I picked up Camellia Panjabi’s much lauded cookbook, 50 Greatest Curries of India. Lo and behold, this recipe was right in the middle of the book!


This cookbook definitely deserves all the praise it’s gotten since it’s original printing in 2006. Please note the glowing endorsement of one of my favorite television chefs, Nigel Slater, in the lower right corner of the cover. As Mr Slater states, this book will delight, educate and inspire anyone who longs to make authentic curries at home. It is certainly a great book for beginners with brief and concise overviews on common Indian cooking techniques and ingredients utilized. The recipes could have been a bit better written (sometimes things on the ingredient list get left out in the instructions), but overall it’s a wonderful collection of authentic recipes from families all over India. (And one from Pakistan?) So with a bit of Bibi-fication here’s my adaptation of Camellia Panjabi’s recipe for "Chickpea Curry from Sindh." According to Ms Panjabi the Sindhi eat this dish over slices of bread for a delightful twist on classic ‘beans on toast.’ Sounds great to me! Like the Punjabis the Sindhi love a bit of a sour tang in their chickpeas from mango powder/amchur. The Kashmiri contingency in my household does not care for the sweetness of mango powder/amchur so I’ve substituted a zingy pinch of dry ginger powder/saunth for it with excellent results. So, whether you enjoy these chickpeas over toast, alone as a soup, or with steamed rice and rotis - you’re in for a delicious vegetarian treat!

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C dried chickpeas/chole, rinsed and soaked for at least 3 hours, (or two 14oz cans of chickpeas, drained)
1 onion, diced finely
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
7 cloves/laung
2 cassia leaves/tej patta (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon/dalchini)
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
12 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing (optiional)
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 tsp salt
4 C water
For masala gravy:
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
2 onions, diced finely
1 TBS garlic/lahsun
1 TBS ginger/adrak
1 C tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp dry ginger/saunth or mango powder 

Here's what to do:
1) In a pressure cooker or a large heavy bottomed stock pot combine soaked or canned chickpeas with 4 cups water, one diced onion, black cardamoms, cloves, cassia leaves or ground cinnamon, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, hing (if using), turmeric, and one teaspoonful salt. If using soaked chickpeas steam in a pressure cooker for 5-6 whistles or bring mixture to a boil in stock pot for 50 minutes. If using canned chickpeas bring mixture to a simmer in stock pot for 20 minutes or if using pressure cooker steam for 3 whistles. 

2) While chickpeas are cooking we'll make the masala gravy.  Heat 3 tablespoons cooking oil or ghee in a kadhai or medium skillet. Fry 2 diced onions until just beginning to brown in pan.

 

3) Add ginger and garlic pastes to fried onions and cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Add diced or pureed tomatoes, garam masala, and ground coriander to fried onion mixture. Fry for 5 minutes or until the oil separates from the mixture. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir well and reduce heat. Set masala gravy aside until chickpeas are done.


4) When chickpeas have been cooked until just tender add the fried masala gravy and dry ginger/saunth or mango powder/amchur to them, stir well, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. While the mixture simmers use a wooden spoon to mash a few of the chickpeas against the side of the pot for a gravy thicker if desired.


5) When liquid has reduced to a thick gravy and chickpeas are completely tender your dish is done. Salt to taste and garnish with chopped cilantro and/or chopped fresh chilis if desired. Serve over toast or with rice, rotis, and a few chutneys for a hearty meal.


Helpful hints:
Canned chickpeas tend to be underdone. The extra simmering as in this recipe renders them soft and deliciously.

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