Add a handful of basil and parsley, a few shavings of garlic, salt, pepper, two teaspoons of yogurt and a dash of oil to roti flour / whole wheat flour ( about two and a half cups) to make a dough that will make some flavourful rotis that will leave a fresh aftertaste in your mouth!
All you have to do is season finely chopped onions with salt, red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder. I would add quarter a tea-spoon of cumin and coriander and half a tea-spoon of chili powder to one large onion. Add in some caraway seeds too to give it some zing. And a tablespoon or two of gram flour (besan) to give it crunch.
Stuff this mixture into okra that have been washed and whose ends have been chopped. Heat up a skillet, coat with oil, add in some cumin seeds and two or three dried red chilis. Green chilis are fine too. Add in the stuffed okra and stir fry over a medium flame till they brown slightly and become tender. Season the whole okra with salt. Add in a few slivers of ginger.
Serve with rice or rotis. My toddler eats them like finger food.
Even those who have only a passing familiarity with Indian food usually know mattar paneer, a delectable Punjabi dish that is one of the most popular orders in Indian restaurants. Despite its simple format, the perfect balance of the savory (spices) and the sweet (peas) elevates mattar paneer to the level of supremely successful comfort food.
Quite naturally, I HEART MP. However, as someone trying to make healthy food choices, I have a beef with it — It is heavy and calorific, thanks to the cottage cheese. So, I took a cue from my mother-in-law an started swapping the cheese with tofu and the result has been fabulous! Also, as a new mom with limited time on my hands, I stir-fry my way through most of the dish and use ready-made spice mixture (garam masala), making the process simple and easy.
To make Mattar Tofu for four, you will need:
Two 350 g extra firm tofu packets
Two handfuls of fresh or frozen peas
Three Roma tomatoes or equivalent, chopped
One large onion, sliced
One tablespoon of ginger garlic paste
Canola or another neutral tasting oil
A pinch of chili flakes or two dried chilies (optional)
A tablespoon of chili powder
A tablespoon of coriander powder
A pinch of turmeric
Two tablespoons of cream / coconut milk / cashew paste
Method of Preparation:
Coat the bottom of the skillet with oil and heat. Cut the tofu into cubes and stir fry until golden brown. While they are getting done, add in the chili flakes / broken dried red chilies, ginger-garlic, chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric and a pinch of salt.
Once the tofu cubes turn golden brown, add in the sliced onions.
Once the onions turn translucent, add in the chopped tomatoes. Cover if you’d like the curry to have some sauce. Mash a few tomatoes with the ladle if you’ like. While the tomatoes cook down, add in the peas and stir.
Once all the vegetables cook, stir in the cream / coconut milk / cashew paste. Taste and adjust for salt and spice. Serve warm with rice or roti.
As most of you may already know, tomato vermicelli soup is popular in the Middle East. I ate it for the first time at a Lebanese restaurant and loved it. Since then, I started making it at home. Of course, I gave it my on spin and came up with this hearty flavourful vegan version that is perfect for a cold night or a light lunch. Here is the recipe —
For four meal-sized servings,
You will need:
Four large tomatoes
Two chopped pods of garlic
An onion, sliced
Half a packet of vermicelli, cooked
One small can of cooked chickpeas
Chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
A dash of lime
Method of Preparation:
Cook the vermicelli as per the instructions on the packet. Chop it into long pieces and set it aside. Put a skillet on medium heat. Coat the bottom with canola or vegetable oil. Do a rough chop on the tomatoes and garlic and cook them in the pan with a lid on. Once they get done, let them cool a little and puree them. Add two tablespoons of oil in the skillet and sauté the onion slices, add in the puree. Add water to reach the desired consistency. Add in the chickpeas. Add in half a teaspoon of cumin powder. Season with salt and chili powder. Add in a dash of lemon and garnish with chopped cilantro!
Being a savory brunch kinda girl, I have often leaned on bacon, sausage and pulled pork to rescue me from depression, hangovers over just plain old hunger. So, while a salad may qualify as a perfect vegetarian brunch option for many an evolved being, I need something more robust to take the place of the piggy!
And, at least six times out of ten, my go-to bold flavor is Indian. As a wink to the countless hashes I have had all over North America and to the flavours of my childhood, I present this spicy curried chickpea sweet potato hash. To feed two people,
You will need:
One large sweet potato
3/4 cup of cooked chickpeas
One pod of garlic, chopped
A few slices of onion
A generous handful of baby spinach (optional)
Half a small tomato (chopped)
A handful of chopped coriander leaves aka cilantro
A teaspoon of chili powder
3/4 teaspoon of cumin powder
3/4 teaspoon of coriander powder
salt to taste
Two -three tablespoons of oil
Lemon juice – one tablespoon or so
Method of preparation:
Place a skillet on a burner, pour in the oil and heat. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into cubes. Stir fry them in the hot oil. Feel free to use a lid to aid quick cooking. While the sweet potatoes cook and become crisp, add in the garlic and onion slices. Stir once in a while. Once these veggies get done, add in the spinach, tomato and the chickpeas. Regulate the sweet potato-chickpea ratio if you like. Season with salt, cumin and coriander powders and lime / lemon. Add in half the chili powder, mix and taste. Add more chili powder to achieve the desired level of heat.
Heat an omelette pan. Add in a tablespoon of oil. Crack two eggs and fry them.
Serve the hash warm with a nice bright egg on top!
For most of us, what makes home-cooking sustainable are easy-to-follow templates. One such time-tested format is an egg and veggie scramble. While the prospect of scrambled eggs may tempt you into dialing those buttons and ordering that pizza, remember that an egg and veggie scramble can be dressed up easily.
Season generously, play mix and match with different veggies / frozen veggie medleys and add some store-bought or home-made sauce, and you have a decent chance of elevating this grandma’s dish into something you would happily pay 14 dollars for at a fancy brunch!
Here’s one such quick scramble recipe I can vouch for:
Beat two eggs and place them aside. Put two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and heat it. Add chilli flakes (and crushed garlic if you wish) to the oil. Open a packet of frozen veggies and add a generous handful to the pan. Open the fridge and see if there are any other veggies you’d like to add — a few leaves of baby spinach perhaps, or a leaf of bok choy or a little shredded red cabbage. Feel free to add in herbs or cooked legumes.
Stir fry the veggies. When they are 80 per cent done, season them with salt and move them to the side of the pan and add the egg on the other side. Cover the pan. Once the eggs form a firm layer break them and scramble the mix. Add in a little store-bought or home-made pasta sauce or some tomato puree. Add in cheese if you like. Stop heating and serve with bread.
You could use pesto instead of a tomato-based sauce and expect equally fabulous results!
I haven’t visited Japan yet. But from what I’ve seen in Japanese bars or izakayas, Japanese love their edamame steamed and salted. Over the past few years, I have incorporated this preparation of these green soybeans in my snacking routine and have been very impressed with the results. Not only does a small packet full full of frozen edamame pods, yield a filling meal, it is also a splendid source of vegetarian protien! And needless to say steamed and salted edamame are yummy to the point of being addictive.
Making your own Lean Edamame Snack:
Buy frozen edamame pods either at an Asian store or a mainstream market. I buy mine at CostCo because of the quality. Steam the pods till they cook but retain their green-ness. Be careful not to overcook.
Salt the pods on the outside. I put the pods in my mouth and drag the seeds in with a sweeping motion involving my teeth.
If you are an early-riser, who eats a light breakfast, a mid-morning snack could be the difference between staying on course on a healthy diet and stuffing yourself at lunch. That said, so as to not be counter-productive, snacking has to be healthy.
Keep in mind that for the implementation of a practical snacking regimen, snacks have to be not just healthy but also portable, affordable, non-messy and easily available. Here are some of my faves:
1. A handful of raw almonds: Raw almonds are called a “superfood” for several reasons. Rich in protein and fibre, almonds offer an instant energy boost. These yummy nuts have high contents of manganese and vitamin E. While manganese is essential for healthy bones and metabolism, vitamin E allows for skin development and supports heart health. When paired with a low-calorie nutrient-rich diet, almonds can also help lower cholesterol.
2. Dark chocolate and fruit: Pick a dark chocolate with 75% or higher cocoa content and pair it with blueberries, pomgranate or orange and you got yourself nutrient-rich snack worthy of the gods. Both dark chocolate and several fruits are loaded my the goodness of antioxidants and other nutrients that make this unique pairing not just delectable but also power-packed.
3. Carrot sticks: Do you give a growling stomach the carrot or the stick? How about carrot sticks? Peel and cut up some carrot sticks or buy baby carrots and snack on them with a Bugs Bunny-like zeal.
Carrots are best known for their beta-carotene content. While they can be an excellent source of this phytonutrient, carrots also contain an impressive combination of other phytonutrients such as other carotenoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, anthocyanins (in the case of purple and red carrots) and polyacetylenes.
Carrots are also an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). They are also a very good source of immune-supportive vitamin C, bone-building vitamin K and heart-healthy dietary fiber and potassium. They are also a good source of heart-healthy vitamin B6, niacin, folate, and vitamin E; enzyme-supporting manganese and molybdenum; and energy-supportive vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus.
4. Now-fat yogurt: If you area dairy lover, non-fat yogurt is an ideal low-calorie snack for you. Other than being a great source of protein and calcium, non-fat yogurt also promotes a healthy gastrointestinal system and prevents conditions like diarrhea.
A note of caution: While picking a non-fat yogurt, tryto avoid brands that contain sweetened fruit or granola as they add to the calories.
5. Fruit juices and fruit cups: This is an affordable and easy snack that ensures that you get all the energy and vitamins you need to have a fuitful day :)!
Growing up in India, Black Eyed Peas to me was well… the American hip hop group. As much as I enjoyed grooving to “Don’t Phunk with My Heart” and “Pump It”, I love the lentil, that I started eating when I moved to Washington DC seven years ago, WAY MORE!
Of course black-eyed peas on their own are awesome. But give them the curry treatment given to chickpeas and red kidney beans and they become even more awesome! And remember, while the curry is ideally made with all the ingredients listed, missing a spice or two will not make that much of a difference.
To make the black-eyed peas curry that serves at least five,
You Will Need:
500 g of black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and cooked
(or canned, cooked)
Two medium-sized onions, chopped fine
Four medium-sized tomatoes, chopped fine
Two fat pods of garlic, crushed
One-inch cube of ginger, crushed
Canola oil to coat the bottom of skillet
Indian spices — Cumin seeds, bay leaf, two cloves,
one stick of cinnamon and two pods of cardamom
Spice powders — Red chilli powder and turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) — for garnish
Chopped green onions — for garnish
One and a half cups of black-eyed peas stock / water
Method of Preparation:
Coat the skillet with oil and heat. Add in the spices. Once an aroma develops, add in the ginger and garlic pastes and chopped onion. Stir occasionally and let the onions turn translucent and eventually brown slightly.
Then, add in the chopped tomatoes and cook them down to form a sauce. Add in a teaspoon of chilli powder, a pinch of turmeric and a little salt. Add in just the cooked black-eyed peas. Then, measure one and a half cups of the water the peas were cooked in, and add it in. If you do not have the black-eyed peas stock, add an equivalent amount of water. Let the curry cook for a few minutes. Use a lid if you like.
Once the desired consistency is reached, adjust for salt and chilli powder. Garnish with chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) and chopped green onions.
Serve warm with rice or flat breads.
Black-eyed peas make an excellent source of protein for vegans such as me. Here are the details:
What do you do on a lazy day? Order? I do that too but there are times when you want to eat homemade food but something you can quickly throw together.
This is what I did the other day:
I cut up a packet of firm tofu and stir fried it in canola oil. Before adding tofu cubes to the oil, I added in some dried red chilies, a little sesame and chopped garlic. Once these cooked a bit, I added in the tofu. Once the tofu browned a bit, I added in generous amounts of cut cabbage and a little bok choy. I seasoned the stir fry with salt and served it warm with vermicelli.
Tofu stir fries are simply awesome, not just because they are delicious but also because they are super healthy. You could pick different vegetable and different seasoning every single time, making tofu the perfect canvas to showcase your creativity as a cook.
Why Tofu is Awesome:
1. Protein vs. calories: 100 calorie serving of tofu contains 11 grams of protein. By comparison, 100 calories of ground beef provides 8.9 grams of protein, and a 100 calorie serving of cheese contains 6.2 grams.
2. Calories in tofu: Half cup of raw firm tofu contains 94 calories. By comparison, 4 oz ground beef contains 331 calories, 1/2 cup of 2% milk has 60 calories and 4 oz of cheese packs 320 calories.
3. Fat and cholesterol content in tofu: Half cup serving of raw firm tofu contains 5 grams of fat. Low fat tofu is also commercially available, and contains 1.5 grams of fat per serving. 4 oz of beef packs 15 grams of fat, and one egg contains 5.5 grams of fat.
Like all plant-based foods, Tofu is a cholesterol-free food. By comparison, half cup of 2% milk contains 9 mg of cholesterol, 4 oz of fish contains 75-100 mg of cholesterol and 4 oz ground beef contains about 113 mg cholesterol.
4. Calcium: Half cup of tofu contains about 227 mg of calcium or about 22% of the Recommended Daily Amount. The calcium content may vary slightly depending on the brand and the process of manufacturing.
Main Source: Tofu Nutritional Value Information
You may also want to read Lean Streak’s popular blog post: A Hearty Tofu and Vegetable Curry