Tag Archives: lunch

Gluten Free Upma

south indian upma with rolled oats gluten free

Rolled oats upma – gluten free and so fulfilling

gluten free upma with rolled oats

Upma with zucchini, peas and carrots, perfect for a savory breakfast or lunch.

Back when I wrote the post on Upma – South Indian Soul Food, I didn’t have to worry about gluten. Upma is made from semolina, a durum wheat product. In the last few months, I’ve made upma with broken rice or gluten free cereal blends. They were good but not quite as satisfying. Today I made upma with gluten free rolled oats. It was still different from the original but highly satisfying and elicited a sigh of contentment from me. Upma is a dish in which the final consistency is important. It can’t be too mushy or too dry.

While you can use any oats, the rolled oats resists getting too soft and soggy, a problem with quick cooking oats.

You might have noticed that I’ve been using a lot of Bob’s Red Mill products. If you’re wondering, no I don’t have any affiliation. I like that they are certified gluten free and are readily available in the stores where I normally shop.

Since I was in a hurry and was out of big pots, I modified the Upma recipe. For simplicity, here’s the modified recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats, dry roasted for 3 minutes on medium low heat
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (split skinless black lentils)
  • 5-10 fresh curry leaves
  • 2-3 green chilies (optional), chopped
  • ½ onion thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots mix
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut (if dessicated, rehydrate in 1/3 cup warm water for 10 minutes)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (or to taste)

Recipe

Heat the oil in a large skillet (should hold the oats and the water) over medium heat. You know the oil is hot if you drop in a mustard seed and it sizzles.

Add the mustard seeds and wait 5 seconds or till they start crackling.

Add the curry leaves, urud dal and chilies and stir constantly to prevent from burning. Saute for just 10 seconds.

Add onion and sauté till soft translucent.

Mix in the veggies and turmeric. Cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in the water and cover the skillet. The oats should be cooked after about 6 minutes. Stir halfway through.

Add salt and squeeze lime to taste. Mix in the grated coconut.

Serve hot with yogurt on the side.

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Korean Kimchi Pancakes and 4 Tips for Making Them Crispy

Kimchi pancake with spring onion garnish

Ever had kimchijeon or kimchi pancakes? If you like Indian food, I’m sure you’ll like kimchi pancakes. Even if you don’t like kimchi. Trust me on this!

I went on a Korean food cooking spree last week. It all started because my friends Hannah and Phil were nice enough to join me for dinner when I went on a working retreat at the beautiful Whidbey Institute. We ended up cooking Ssambap using lovely salad greens that the friendly gardeners on the land gifted us. That caused a hankering for something with kimchi. And this was the result. This was my first time making kimchi pancakes and I can say that they were fast and easy. So I hope you’ll give this recipe a try.

Recipe is adapted from http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/kimchijeon (chopped kimchi pancake)

Ingredients (makes 3-4 pancakes)

Pancake

  • 1 cup kimchi, cut into ½ inch pieces if possible
  • ¼ yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour (not authentic but added for nutrition and flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup kimchi broth
  • 6-8 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

Garnish (optional)

  • Spring onion or chives, chopped

Dipping sauce (optional)

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes

Flipped pancake

Recipe

In a large glass or plastic bowl mix together all ingredients except the oil. Make sure there are no clumps of flour left. Taste the mixture and add more salt if necessary.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. Wait till the oil is hot enough before proceeding. If you add the batter when the oil is not hot enough, the pancakes will come out soft. You can tell that the oil is hot enough if you put a drop of batter in the pan and it sizzles.

Take a big ladleful of the batter, pour into the skillet and spread as thinly and evenly as possible. If you’re using a 10 inch skillet, you should get 3-4 pancakes depending on their size.

Keep the heat at medium and let the pancake cook for a minute or two. Once the pancake has ‘loosened’, it will move around the skillet easily. At this point, flip the pancake. You can use a flat spatula if you don’t dare throw the pancake up to flip it! (But this is not too hard with a bit of practice. Just hold the skillet handle with both hands, move the skillet back and forth a few times to position the pancake as close to the edge of the skillet directly away from you. Without a pause in the back and forth movement, raise the skillet. The pancake should flip and land back in the skillet. If it is folded over, just move the skillet back and forth till it settles down flat. )

Let the pancake cook for another 2 minutes on this side as well. You might need to cook both sides for another minute or so to make sure the pancake is fully cooked.

Make the remaining pancakes in the same way. If you save part of the batter in the fridge, use it within a day or two. You will need to add a ¼ cup of water or so to loosen up the batter again before using.

To make the dipping sauce, mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.

Cut the pancake into smaller pieces if you like. Garnish with chopped spring onion or chives.

Kimchijeon or kimchi pancake

Tips to make the pancakes crispier

I love my kimchi pancakes crispy! The first one I made came out very soft. So I did some research. Here’s what I found and what I know from making dosas.

Use 3 tablespoons oil per pancake instead of 2. Yeah, its not as healthy but it works. Make sure the oil is hot enough before pouring the batter into the skillet.

Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the batter.

Add 1/3 cup of lentil flour (you can use mung bean or Indian urud dal flour).

Use cold kimchi and water. Cold batter results in crispier pancakes.

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On the Streets of Egypt

I have Egypt on my mind. While Egyptians have risen up like a tsunami that will not abate until it has destroyed the Mubarak regime in its wake, all I can do is follow the news. While history is being made on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, all I can do is write about my favorite Egyptian street food. But Egypt is also on my mind for another reason. The pictures below are from three weeks ago when my Egyptian friend Yasmin invited a few of us to lunch to learn how to make Koshary just a few days before she was about to leave for Egypt for a month-long vacation.  A few hours ago, she posted a quick note on Facebook to let us know that she is fine. Relieved, it struck me how today events around the world affect me in a much more personal way than even ten years ago. And in my small way, writing this post inexplicably makes me feel closer to the people of Egypt.

Koshary is one of the ultimate street foods. Just like Egyptians from many walks of life have come together to create the perfect storm of a protest, the many layers in this humble dish come together to make a very satisfying dish. It is affordable, filling and fairly healthy though loaded with carbs. While the various ingredients take time to assemble, it is simple to make. Rather than the pyramids or the sphinx, this dish is one of my favorite things from my trips to Egypt.

There are many recipes for Koshary and some include toppings that others don’t. It is up to you to decide which of the toppings to include although I highly recommend keeping all of them. Koshary is typically served with a tomato sauce and a garlic sauce. Yasmin combined the two sauces for ease. This recipe serves 4. The various ingredients could be prepared ahead of time and brought to room temperature or warmed before serving.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni or dittalini
  • 2 large onions (or store-bought fried onions if you’re feeling lazy)
  • 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried red chili of medium heat (or 1/2 teaspoon of crushed chili flakes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin, freshly powdered
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt to taste (roughly 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained

Recipe (Steps 1-3 can be done in parallel)

1. Place rice in a pot. Rinse the rice 3 times and drain. Add 1 and 3/4 cups of water. Bring to boil, lower heat to medium-low and cover pot with lid. Cook for 20 minutes or till rice is soft and tender. Keep lid on for another 5 minutes.

2. Place the lentils in another pot. Rinse and pick out stones or other impurities. Add 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and cover pot with lid ajar. Cook for 20 minutes or till lentils are cooked and soft but still retain their shape.

3. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on pasta package to cook it.

4. Slice the onions very thinly (thinner than in the picture). Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt (helps to cook the onions faster). Stir occasionally. Turn the heat down to medium once the onions start browning. Saute till nicely brown and well caramelized. This step takes some time and requires patience. To speed this step up, consider dividing the onions and cooking in two skillets.

5. Peel and mince the garlic. Break the red chili into 3 or 4 smaller pieces. Grind the garlic and red chili using a mortar and pestle. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic, chili and the cumin powder. Stir regularly while sautéing for 30 seconds to release all the flavor. Add the tomato paste and stir for another 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes. Add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt or to taste. Keep in mind that the sauce should be a bit on the saltier side as it will provide the flavor for the rice, pasta, chickpeas and lentils.

6. Place all the ingredients into individual bowls. Make your koshary by adding the ingredients in layers on your plate or bowl. Start with the rice and macaroni, and then add the chickpeas and lentils and finally garnish with the onions. Sprinkle sauce over your dish. Mix it all up or enjoy the various textures of this amazing dish separately.

Notes

1. Although the texture will be different, you could substitute brown rice for the white rice. Many recipes call for long grain or basmati rice.

2. Use what rice you wish but the more traditional recipes seem to call for short grain rice. If you use a different rice, please note that the ratio of water to rice will vary.

3. If you find legumes difficult to digest, add a piece of kelp seaweed or kombu while cooking. The kombu softens the legumes and makes them easier to digest. Even if you use canned chickpeas, soak them in some water and kelp before draining and using.

Finally enjoy this dish with family and friends.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a smooth transition to a government of the people in Egypt.

Peace,

Veena

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Upma – South Indian Soul Food

Upma or uppittu

The intoxicating smell of fresh curry leaves in hot oil wafted around corners and into the bedroom where I was trying to sleep off the flu but was instead tired and cranky. The aroma of freshly roasted semolina hung around the kitchen inviting me to peek in. I just had to get out of bed and go get the camera. It was right after Christmas. I was at my mom’s and she had been busy cooking.

My mom’s ‘upma’ (also known as uppittu in Kannada, my mother tongue) is one of those memory triggering foods. Others made their upma too soft and mushy. Her’s always had a much more interesting texture. The lentils in the dish get crunchy when fried in oil and add greatly to the texture. But for some reason, my brother didn’t like anything crunchy. So if mom added the lentils, he didn’t like it and if she didn’t add them, I complained! Poor mom. This time though, he said it was OK (I asked nicely) which was very nice of him. We fought over the silliest things when we were kids!

I dug in eagerly, savoring the flavors and appreciating the crunchiness of the lentils contrasted with the moistness of the semolina. I’m sure the upma helped me get over the flu. Upma though is great anytime whether you’re ill or not. It is truly South Indian soul food.

There are many upma recipes online but I wanted to share my mom’s recipe as a couple of things have been simplified. The ingredients can be found in an Indian or Asian grocery store. Many of them can also be found at Whole Foods.

My mom was happy to share her recipe for upma with you. Here it is. I hope you get to make it sometime soon!

Ingredients

2 cups upma semolina (can use couscous instead, both are made from durum wheat but the couscous grains are larger and processed slightly differently)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal (split skinless black lentils)
1 teaspoon chana dal (split chickpeas)
5-10 fresh curry leaves
2-3 green chilies (optional and to your taste), chopped
½ onion thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots mix (can also use edamame or grated carrots)
4 cups water (3 if using couscous)
¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut (if dessicated, rehydrate in 1/3 cup warm water for 10 minutes)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (or to taste)
 
 
Recipe

Heat the water over medium heat high and bring to a boil.  Add the peas and carrots. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. While waiting for the water to boil, proceed to the next step.

Heat the oil in a large skillet (should hold the semolina and the water) over medium heat. You know the oil is hot if you drop in a mustard seed and it sizzles.

Add the mustard seeds and wait 5 seconds or till they start crackling.

Add the curry leaves, urud dal and chilies and stir constantly to prevent from burning. Saute for 10 minutes.

Add onion and sauté till translucent plus another minute

Then add the semolina or couscous. Fold in with the oil and spices and roast for two minutes.

Pour in the boiling water with the cooked peas and carrots. Stir to break up any lumps that may form.

The semolina should be cooked in 2-3 minutes. The couscous may take a minute longer.

Add salt and squeeze lime to taste. Mix in the grated coconut.

Serve hot with yogurt onthe side. You can  mix the upma with yogurt if it is too spicy.

Savory semolina

Enjoy and feel good!

Veena

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A Winter Twist to Delicious Daal

It was the third cold, dark and rainy day in a row. The kind that leaves you with a slight case of the blues. But nothing that a pot of soul-satisfying Daal wouldn’t remedy. I’d had a hankering for my lentil curry anyway and got to work making it.

While the lentils were boiling away merrily, I peeked into the fridge to see what vegetables I could add. There were none but there was a big bunch of curly kale that I needed to use soon. Now, around here, we LOVE kale but I usually prepare it by itself and enjoy it with slices of fresh avocado. While there are plenty of leafy green vegetables in India, there is no kale. So it was a serendipitous idea to sauté the kale with the spices in the Daal Recipe kit and add it to the lentil curry. Or maybe it was just a matter of time. I’m sure others have discovered this already, but here’s my version. This recipe is a slight variation of the one included in the Daal kit.

I like curly kale best but any variety of kale will do. Lacinato kale (aka Dino or Cavalo Nero) is pictured.

Ingredients (serves 4)

½ bunch of kale (rinsed, stem ends cut and discarded, leaves cut lengthwise in the middle and then chopped into 1 inch pieces)
1 Delicious Daal kit OR
1 cup toor daal or split pigeon peas
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
5 curry leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1.5 cups basmati rice (cooking instructions not included in this post)
1 small tomato (diced)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ lime (or lemon)

Recipe

Place lentils in a thick bottomed pot and add 5 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat

Turn heat down to medium-low, cover pot with lid ajar and simmer for 35 minutes or till the lentils are fully cooked (flat and mushy)

Heat the oil in a big pot or wok over medium high heat. You know the oil is hot enough when you throw in a mustard seed and it sizzles. Don’t get the oil too hot as it will burn the spices.

Add the mustard seeds and wait a few seconds or till they just start crackling.

Add the cumin seeds, curry leaves and turmeric.

Add the kale after 2-3 seconds and stir to coat well with oil. Saute for 3-4 minutes or till the leaves have wilted slightly and are half the original volume.

Add ½ a cup of water, reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot with a lid ajar. Cook for 3 minutes and then remove from heat.

Once the lentils have boiled, add the kale to the pot of lentils along with 1 teaspoon salt and the tomato. Mix.

Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 8 minutes or till the kale stems are cooked and the leaves are not tough (I do like a bit of crunch though)

Taste for salt and squeeze in juice of ½ a lime (more if you like). Serve over rice.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath before diving in spoon first into your hearty Daal. And feel the blues slipping away. Mmmmm.

p.s. What to do with the leftover kale? Simply saute in olive oil with a couple cloves of garlic. Add a cup of stock (or water and salt), bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid ajar and cook for 7 minutes or till the kale is cooked but still slightly crunchy.

Or make kale chips. Toss with olive oil, freshly ground pepper, and a big pinch of sea salt. Roast in oven preheated to 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

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Making Green Beans Indian Style

I made green beans along with pumpkin curry as part of an Indian style thanksgiving menu meal. The classic green bean casserole is nice but tends to get sidelined. So how about an Indian take on this dish for something different? It’s easy and a lot healthier than cooking with cream of mushroom soup.

This recipe below is inspired by the recipe for South Indian style curried vegetables or ‘palyam’ but with a few changes that I thought were appropriate for thanksgiving.

Ingredients

(serves 6 as a side)

  • 1 lb tender green beans, rinsed and ends cut
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened grated coconut (if using desiccated coconut, re-hydrate in warm water for 5 minutes before using.)
  • 1-2 teaspoons lime juice

Recipe

Spread out the beans on a plate and microwave on high for 4 minutes. This greatly reduces the cooking time later.

Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold all the beans, over medium high heat. You know the oil is hot enough if you put in a mustard seed and it ‘crackles’.

Add the mustard seeds and wait for ten seconds or till they start popping. Immediately add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Saute till the onion is caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Stir regularly to ensure the onion doesn’t burn.

Add the green beans and mix well to coat the beans with oil. If the pan gets dry, add a bit more oil. Add a 1/4 cup water, cover skillet with lid, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or till the beans are just cooked. I like my beans just slightly crunchy.

Mix in the grated coconut. If you’re using frozen coconut, bring it out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you need it. Turn heat off once the coconut has fully defrosted and mixes easily with the beans.

Taste for salt and squeeze lime juice and mix just before serving. Adding the lime juice at the end maintains the vibrant green of the beans.

Notes

Grated, desiccated coconut can usually be found in the bakery aisle in your supermarket.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Veena

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The Beauty of Brinjal

This is a post inspired by an old friend. Preethi and I went to the same school in India. My family moved to the US when I was in high school and I lost touch with most of my old school mates. The last time I saw her was in Warsaw, where she now lives, in 2007 when I was there on a business trip. We went to a cute little restaurant in downtown Warsaw for Pierogies. I had to share this summer recipe idea she sent my way.

So what is a Brinjal? It’s the Indian word for eggplant! Eggplants are called brinjals in India and South Africa and aubergines elsewhere.

India is the second largest producer of eggplants in the world. As an aside, there is a raging battle over whether genetically modified eggplants developed by a Monsanto subsidiary should be cultivated in India. Scientists are divided in their opinion and the public is largely against it. For now, the Indian Government has halted BT brinjal as the genetically modified version is called.  On a more fun note, if you didn’t already know it, there are many different varieties of eggplant. The commonly found variety in the US, the dark purple eggplant, is much bigger than the Japanese, and Thai eggplants and I think has less flavor. There are some eggplants that are also green in color.

The recipe is inspired by a dish Preethi’s mother used to make in summer. I made this Brinjal Fry in Yoghurt sauce for the first time a couple of weeks ago when all I had was half an eggplant and 20 minutes to cook dinner. My husband and I loved it and we literally licked our plates clean. The recipe below should serve 3-4.

Ingredients

1 eggplant
2 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp garam masala (or your favorite spice blend. Feel free to use more if you like your food spicy!)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup yoghurt
Pinch of paprika (or cayenne powder for more heat)

Recipe (35 minutes preparation, 15 minutes cooking)

Cut off the ends, halve the eggplant lengthwise and then slice into quarter inch thick pieces. You can also leave the eggplant whole and just slice it, but I find it easier to deal with smaller pieces and they cook faster too.

Place in a colander and mix in the salt. Let it stand for 30 minutes if you have the time. (This brining process draws out the water in the eggplant helping it cook faster and use less oil. It also removes the edge off the eggplant’s bitterness. If you’re like me and love the flavor of eggplant, you can do away with this step.) While you wait, you can prepare the remaining ingredients, set up the table and fix yourself a summery cocktail, preferably with involving rum, mint and sugar.

Crush and mince the garlic (crushing releases the powerful antibiotic properties of the garlic)

Put the yoghurt into a bowl and beat slightly till it is smooth.

Rinse the eggplant slices well, pat dry and mix with the spice blend.

Heat the oil in a frying plan on medium heat

When the oil is hot, sizzle the cumin seeds for 10 seconds

Add the eggplant and the garlic

Sauté for 10 minutes or till the eggplant is cooked through. If the pan gets dry, add a bit more oil. Taste and add more salt if necessary keeping in mind that the eggplant will be mixed with yoghurt.

Remove from heat and place the slices in the yoghurt. Sprinkly the paprika or cayenne powder on top for some color.

Garnish with sprigs of cilantro or mint and serve with rice or naan.

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Stay Cool with Cucumbers

How’s the weather where you are? Here in Seattle, we finally got summer this week after months of whining and praying for it! And now that it’s here, we’re whining about how hot it is!

With summer comes BBQ season, cold soups and salads, and lots of Indian food too. Yes that’s right! Indian food in summer. Here in the US, spicy curries don’t come to mind when it’s hot outside. In India while the curries still remain spicy even in summer, different vegetables are featured. Various kinds of gourds and squashes are in season in summer.

The ‘Malnad’  (literally translating to land of rain) region of the south Indian state of Karnataka grows some of the juiciest, crispest and sweetest cucumbers around the area. This is where my mother’s family is from and we would visit every summer. Some of my best childhood memories are from summers spent at my grandparents, playing with my cousins, climbing trees, chasing away monkeys from the guava trees and of course devouring grandma’s savory and sweet treats. And yes eating lots of cucumbers.

Moroccan cucumber salad

Cucumbers contain a chemical called cucurbitacin that sometimes makes them taste bitter. My mom taught me to slice the ends off and then holding the cut end against the exposed part of the cucumber, rub it around it a circular fashion. This removes the white ‘poison’ as my mother called it. And supposedly the cucumber tastes less bitter. I say supposedly as I never use cucumbers without removing the ‘poison’. So if you think cucumbers have a bitter edge to them, try out this trick!

While cucumbers are perhaps not quite as tasty here as in the Malnad region, I’m so glad they are available. There are a couple of salads that are super easy to make that I’d love to share with you. The first one is an Indian style cucumber salad and  the second a Moroccan style salad. When you look for cucumbers, look for ones that are tender and don’t have any yellow on them. English cucumbers are nice as they are practically seedless and are crispier but they’re also more expensive.

Indian cucumber salad – Serves 2

  • 1 regular or English cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut  into spears
  • ~ 3 sprigs cilantro (1-2 tablespoons), roughly chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 green chili, ends cut and slit lengthwise (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Toss all the ingredients together (I use a tupperware box) just before serving. The cucumbers also make a great appetizer. You can prepare the salad ahead of time. But add the lime and salt, and toss again,  just before serving. This is a very flexible recipe – use more or less of the ingredients as you like.

Indian cucumber spears

Moroccan cucumber salad – Serves 2-3

adapted from Kitty Morse’s Cooking at the Kasbah

  • 1 english or regular cucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, finely diced (Kitty Morse uses 2 green onions, finely chopped. I didn’t have any on hand)
  • ~ 3 sprigs fresh mint (about 1 tablespoon), leaves separated and chopped finely
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients together. Again, you can prepare the ingredients ahead of time and mix everything leaving out the lemon and salt till just before serving. This same salad with cilantro instead of mint is another version of the Indian cucumber salad. Make sure to use fresh mint. If the mint is not fresh, it can impart a bitter taste to the salad.

An easy summer salad

Now things just don’t get any simpler!

Happy Summer 🙂

-Veena

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Curried Carrot and Fond Memories of a Grated Carrot Sandwich

This story takes place when I was a schoolgirl in Bangalore, India. Like all other kids, I had a little tiffin box carrier that my mom would fill up every morning for my brother and I to take to school. And almost everyday, when we opened up our lunch boxes to see what we got that day, I was jealous of what my friends had (I don’t know why as my mom cooked great food). Except for when my mom packed grated carrot sandwiches. My mom had this steel sandwich maker that when folded together and heated in the flames of a gas stove, made the best toasted sandwiches. She’d put a bit of butter on the insides, place a slice of bread on one side, put a thick layer of the grated carrot palya (a term in Kannada, my mother tongue, that means a side of vegetables sautéed with oil, spices and herbs, like curried vegetables. Palyam in other South Indian languages) on it and place another slice of bread before toasting. Every bite of this sandwich started off with your teeth crunching into the crisp bread followed by the softer carrot, perfect complements in texture and taste.

Earlier this week, the fridge was almost empty and I was wondering what to eat for lunch. I had a couple of carrots left over from another meal and half an onion and the grated carrot sandwich came to mind. I didn’t have bread or that trusty toaster my mom had used. And then I discovered the grater was in the dishwasher. I was already starving so I settled for making carrot ‘palya’ to eat with some leftover chapathi (Indian flat bread).

It wasn’t quite as good as my mom’s grated carrot sandwich but hit the spot anyway. Here’s the recipe. And as usual for the recipes on this blog, it’s super easy to make. This recipe serves one.

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled (if you like) and grated or quartered and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 a small onion, diced
  • 1 small green chili, diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 5 curry leaves (highly recommend but skip if you don’t have them)
  • roughly 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice (go ahead and add more if you like)
  • 5-10 stalks of cilantro, chopped (leave out the thick stems)
  • roughly 1/2 a teaspoon of salt

Heat the oil in a small or medium skillet over medium high heat. This takes a few minutes. If the oil is hot enough, a mustard seed will sizzle.

Add the mustard seeds and sizzle them till they start popping and then add the curry leaves

Add the onion and green chili. Add a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally. Saute till the onion is translucent.

Add the carrot and stir. Cook till the carrot is done to your liking. I like to leave it a bit crunchy. You can cover the skillet to cook the carrot faster. Just check occasionally to see if you need a bit of water to prevent burning.

Squeeze the lime or lemon juice, stir in cilantro and 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon of salt as needed.

Serve on its own as a warm salad, with tortillas or Indian flatbread, or with rice and yoghurt.

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