Category: Vegetable Recipes


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)

Salt

A tablespoon of chili powder

A tablespoon of coriander powder

A pinch of turmeric

Garam masala

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.

Indian Tofu curry

Indian Tofu curry

Once the tofu cubes turn golden brown, add in the sliced onions.

Indian Tofu curry

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.

Indian tofu curry

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.

Indian Tofu Curry

Tomato vermicelli soup

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

Oil

Two chopped pods of garlic

An onion, sliced

Half a packet of vermicelli, cooked

One small can of cooked chickpeas

Salt

Chili powder

Cumin powder

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!

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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 eggs

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:

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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!

snacksIf 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 :)!

Sources:
Livestorng.com : Are Almonds a Good Snack?

Whfoods.com: carrots

MarksDailyApple.com: Why You Should Eat and Drink High Cacao Chocolate

Fitday.com: 5 Delicious Low Calorie Snacks to Try Today

Black Eyed Peas

Delicious Vegan Protein: Black-eyed Peas Curry

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:

(Source: http://nutritiondata.self.com/)

Nutritional Data Black Eyed Peas

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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

The Backstory

Growing up in India, I travelled extensively by the Indian Railways! We lived in the South Indian city of Bangalore and the most common destination of our train journey was my birthplace Hyderabad, another large and vibrant South Indian city. To take care of our dinner, my mother would pack food — usually rotis (Indian flatbreads) and beetroot curry. I do my own version of that childhood staple. I add potatoes to cater to my potato-loving husband and reduce the masala content to let the veggies take center stage.

This curry is a fave in my home, let’s hope you like it as much! Here’s how you make this hearty curry:

Boil the Potatoes and Beets, Peel and Cube Them

To cook enough for four generous servings, boil two large potatoes and three medium-sized beets. Peel them once they cool.

Chop Onions, Tomatoes and Chilies:

Most Indian curries begin with the cook tearing up over chopping onions :)! For this curry, chop two medium-sized onions fine. Also chop three medium-sided tomatoes and five-six  Thai green chilies. Feel free to use chilies of your choice but just watch out for the spice level.

Make the Curry:

Spices You Will Need — A pinch of cumin seeds, two pods of cardamom, one small stick of cinnamon, one bay leaf, two cloves, red chili powder, salt, paste of one inch cube of ginger and two pods of garlic and turmeric (optional)

Remember, if you want to take a shortcut, you could add garam masala instead. Or you could bump up the curry flavor by supplementing the spices with garam masala. If you are using garam masala, use it after adding the onions and tomatoes.

Making the Curry — Coat the bottom of the skillet with five tablespoons of canola oil or any other neutral-tasting oil of your choice. Heat the oil and add in the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cloves. Once an aroma begins to develop, add in the ginger and garlic paste, chopped chilies and onions. Once the onions turn translucent, add in the chopped tomatoes. Let this mixture cook till the tomatoes are tender. Then, add in the cooked and cubed potatoes and beets. Season with salt and red chili powder. Add chili powder with caution, because the dish already has chilies. Add one and half cups of water and let the curry cook and thicken. Once you reach the consistency you desire, adjust for salt and spice.

Garnish with chopped cilantro / coriander leaves. Serve with rice or Indian flatbreads.

Indian Yellow Peas Soup

In India, this light and flavorful stew is often eaten in conjunction with potato patties and the dish is called Ragada Patties. However, when spiced well, this stew is perfect with brown or white rice, making it an excellent choice for a healthy and hearty meal!

Soaking Dried Yellow Peas: Soak the dried yellow peas in water overnight or for about eight hours.

To make the stew, that cooks for about an hour and allows for about eight generous servings,

You Will Need:

Two cups of dried yellow peas, soaked

Canola oil

Spices: One bay leaf, two pods of cardamom,

one small stick of cinnamon, two cloves

and a pinch of cumin seeds.

Two fat pods of garlic, crushed

One inch cube of ginger, crushed

One and half medium-sized onions, chopped fine

Three medium-sided tomatoes, chopped

Salt to taste

Red chili powder to taste

A few drops of lemon juice

A pinch of turmeric (optional)

A handful of chopped cilantro / coriander leaves

Two chopped green onions (optional)

Water

Method of Preparation:

Coat the bottom of the pot / pressure cooker with a thin layer of canola oil and heat over a medium flame. Add in the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon sick, cloves and bay leaf. Once an aroma develops, add in the onions, ginger and garlic. Stir and let the onions cook till they become translucent. Then, add in the tomatoes, cover with a lid and let them cook till the tomatoes become tender and a sauce develops. Now, season with salt and chili powder. Season conservatively because you can adjust for salt and spice later.

Once the curry sauce is ready, add in the soaked yellow peas and about five cups of water. Cover with a tight lid and cook for 40 minutes or till the peas are soft. Add in more water if you’d like to adjust the consistency. You could have a thick gravy or a thinner soupy texture. Adjust for salt and chili powder and add in a dash of lemon juice and a pinch of turmeric. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and chopped green onions. Serve warm over brown rice or white rice.

This curry marks a small victory for me!

I have been making palak tofu for a few years now. But adding eggplant to the spinach-tofu curry is not just a personal first but also something I have never witnessed. As I strolled through the grocery store yesterday evening, the ingredients seemed to work well in my head so I put them together today morning. I seasoned every ingredient, paid attention to every detail during the 40 minute cooking process and came up with a soulful dish that will now be a regular in my home. (Cooking time can be considerably shortened if tofu and eggplant are cooked simultaneously in two different skillets.)

Vegan Tofu and Spinach Curry

Tofu and Spinach Curry cooked with Indian spices

You Will Need:

A few tablespoons of canola oil, two japanese eggplants, 350 g firm / extra firm tofu, 8 oz of spinach, two medium-sized tomatoes, one large onion, four green chilies, one pod of cardamom, two cloves, one small stick of cinnamon, one bay leaf, a pinch of cumin seeds, salt to taste, red chili powder to taste and a pinch of turmeric (optional).

Note: I ground dried red chilies to make my chili powder so it looks like small flakes.

Step 1:

Spice, Sear and Cook the Eggplant Scallops :)

Cut up the long eggplants into thick discs and sear them in a heated skillet with a thin layer of oil. Season with salt, red chili powder and a pinch of turmeric. Cook the pieces till they are done.

Step 2:

Season and Stir Fry the Tofu Pieces:

Cut up the firm / extra firm tofu into cubes / cuboids. Stir fry them in a skillet coated with a thin layer of oil. Season with salt, chili powder and a pinch of turmeric and let the tofu brown.

I used the same skillet I used for the eggplants. However, if you cook the two simultaneously in separate skillets, you save time.

Step 3:

Make the Curry:

Once the onions turn translucent or brown slightly, add in the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes soften. You could use a lid for a short while. Using a lid for a prolonged period of time will make your sauce watery.

Once the tomatoes cook, add in the spinach. Once the leaves cook, add in the cooked eggplant and tofu pieces and stir. Season with salt and a pinch of chili powder. Let the curry cook as a whole and thicken for a few minutes (8 mins or as necessary). Taste and adjust for salt or chili powder if needed.

Serve warm with rice or Indian / Middle Eastern flatbread. Cracked wheat and bulgur works just fine too!

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