Quinoa Pad Thai

Health fads always take the world by a storm. While some poor fellows get frowned upon, few lucky ones, like quinoa, get the crown.

Quinoa (pronounced as keen-wah) is a humble grain cultivated by the South Americans since ages and remained quite unknown. When it crossed the equator, it gained celebrity status with the revelation of its high protein content, thus bringing good news for the herbivores. From there, quinoa has become a global sensation.

When I first tried quinoa I truly hated it. But I couldn’t let the expensive bag of this over-rated seed just lie there. Then started the experiments; all had one common outcome, I still didn’t like it.

I conjured up this particular recipe plainly out of love for Thai cuisine, lack of noodles and desperation to use the quinoa as it neared its ‘best before’ date. And it finally gave me the “EUREKA” moment. YAY! I had found a way to love quinoa! In fact, I like this version more than the ‘noodle’ Pad Thai made by me.

I mostly like to keep it vegetarian and make it about the veggies. The flavour of the Pad Thai comes from the smokey sesame oil, the sweet-tangy sauce and of course the toasted peanuts. If you cannot catch hold of quinoa, just go the traditional way and use noodles or even ‘zoodles’!! So now let’s dive into the wok…

QUINOA PAD THAI

QUINOA PAD THAI

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup carrot matchsticks
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 whisked eggs (optional)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, optional
  • green beans, optional
  • Salt as per taste
  • For the sauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1-2 tbsp
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce (I used a vegan ‘fish’ sauce)
  • For garnish
  • Sesame seeds
  • unsalted peanuts, toasted and roughly crushed
  • Coriander leaves or Thai basil or mint.

Method

How to cook quinoa:

Wash and drain the quinoa. Add to a saucepan and cover with water or stock of choice. I always prefer using chicken stock for the extra punch of flavour. The proportion of quinoa to liquid is 1:2. However, for this recipe, I like to use one and a half cup of stock.

1 cup of uncooked quinoa will yield 2 cups of cooked quinoa.

  • Before you fire up the wok, slice and dice the veggies and keep all ingredients ready.
  • Add the sesame oil and the ginger, garlic, onions and white part of the spring onion. Fry well.
  • Season with little salt. Add the rest of the veggies and fry well.
  • Once half-cooked, push the veggies to the side and add the eggs. Work quickly to scramble them. If you wish to add cooked chicken shreds, then this is the time to do that.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together and add to the wok. Add the quinoa, bean sprouts and some peanuts and toast everything together such that the sauce coats everything well.
  • To serve: Garnish the quinoa pad Thai with herbs, toasted peanuts, sesame seeds and a wedge of lime.

Variations

  • Use any variety noodles instead and make it the traditional way.
Quinoa Pad Thai

If you try this recipe share on Instagram and tag me #smitasfoodcharm.

To follow, click here

Kachhi Dabeli – Popular Indian Street Food

Kachhi Dabeli is an extremely drool-worthy, highly popular snack. It is very commonly found on the streets of Mumbai. Kachhi Dabeli consists of a potato filling that is stuffed inside a bun, garnished with spicy peanuts, onion and pomegranate seeds. It is spicy, tangy, sweet, crunchy, buttery; each bite is an explosion of flavour!

This recipe does not feature high on any health food meter, infact, it is indulgent. But with the holidays upon us, let’s pamper our taste buds and burn it off in the new year 😀

It has several components which need to be assembled and eaten. I have shared a how-to video on my Facebook page.

 

Kachhi Dabeli
Kachhi Dabeli

Most important in making the potato stuffing is the unique masala for the Kachhi Dabeli. It is available in Indian stores, but not readily. I prefer to make my own, this way it is on hand whenever I need it and the magic of freshly ground spices is beyond words. Of course I will be sharing the recipe with you 🙂

In Melbourne, pomegranate is not easy to find in the markets, or it is not always of a great quality. So when I do find the sweet ones, they are certainly precious like rubies, and Dabeli is always on the menu. If you cannot find it though, replace with grapes, cherries or raisins.

Kachhi Dabeli
A drool-worthy plate!

 

Ingredients

  1. For the stuffing :
  • 2 potatoes – boiled, peeled, and mashed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • Date and tamarind chutney (found in Indian stores)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Dabeli masala * (recipe given below)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 tsp red chili powder or to taste
  • 2 tsp chat masala/ dry mango powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Chopped coriander for garnish
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Dabeli masala (makes about a cup)
  • 4 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 4 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 10-12 cloves
  • 10-12 dry red chillies
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder
  1. Spicy peanuts
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, with their skins removed
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1-2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chat masala or dry mango powder (optional)
  1. For garnish:
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped coriander
  • Sev or bhujia (these are made of chickpea flour and very commonly used in Indian snacks. They resemble sprinkles but yellow in colour. Find them in the Indian aisle of your supermarket or in the Indian stores.)
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Date and tamarind chutney

Other ingredients:

  • Bun or pao
  • Butter for roasting
Kachhi Dabeli
Layers of garnish

Method

  • First let’s prepare the Dabeli masala. I found the recipe for masala on the internet, sadly I do not remember the source.

In a pan, dry roast all the spices one after the other. Cool them and grind together to a coarse powder. Store in an airtight container. It stays put for over a year.

  • For the spicy peanuts, heat oil in the same pan. Add the peanuts and all the spices. Coat them well.
  • In another pan, heat oil to prepare the stuffing.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and saute well.
  • Then add the Dabeli masala, and immediately add the onions. Add a little bit of the chopped coriander as well.
  • Add salt, date-tamarind chutney, and rest of the spices. Mix well.
  • Mash or grate the boiled potatoes and add. Mix well. Add half cup water and stir everything together.
  • Check the seasoning and adjust as per your liking.
  • Lastly, garnish with the remaining coriander and lemon juice.
Kachhi Dabeli
Who wouldn’t want to dive into this?

Assembling the Kachhi Dabeli

  • In a deep dish, add the potato stuffing and smoothen it. Now garnish with the peanuts, pomegranate, onion, coriander and sev.
  • Put a skillet on medium heat.
  • Take a bun and make a slit, cutting it three quarters such that there is a pocket.
  • Smear the date and tamarind chutney on both sides.
  • Now add the stuffing, be generous with it but not so much that it spills out.
  • Again, top with some onion, coriander, pomegranate seeds and peanuts.
  • Put some butter on the skillet and roast the bun on both sides, while pressing it down.
  • Now just coat the filling that is oozing out, with more sev!

You can view the video for assembling the Dabeli on my Facebook page.

All packed and ready
All packed and ready

 

Don’t forget to save for later

Kachhi Dabeli - Popular Indian Street Food
Kachhi Dabeli – Popular Indian Street Food

 

Make this recipe ASAP and share your experience in the comments section below.

Also, click a picture and share on Instagram with #smitasfoodcharm

To follow my Instagram page click here

Mushroom Matar Masala / Mushroom and Green Peas Curry

Indian food is synonymous with “curry” in the western world. Rightly so, we love our curries and we can never be overwhelmed with the abundance of spices in any Indian kitchen. Mushroom Matar Masala is a semi-dry curry, where some lovely mushrooms and green peas are lathered in the right amount of spices.

My previous mushroom recipe, Goan Mushroom Xacuti recipe, had a bunch of spices completely different from the ones I have used in this recipe. The green peas, albeit frozen, give a dash of freshness to the curry. And I have added some fresh fenugreek leaves, another ingredient I have grown too fond of lately.

Pin this

Mushroom Matar Masala
Mushroom Matar Masala

Mushrooms are high in protein and unbelievably low in calories. Fenugreek has a stream of health benefits as well. This curry does not require any dairy additives. All in all, this is a low-calorie, vegan recipe packed with ample nutritive value, and highly suitable for diabetics and weight-watchers.

The mushroom matar masala, along with some hot chapati (Indian flatbread), was our Sunday lunch, which got gobbled down in a jiffy, in contrast to the usual lazy Sunday lunches. And food was ready before time, so I would not credit the hunger pangs. The award goes to…… Oh Modesty where are thou!! 😉

Mushroom Matar Masala
Mushroom Matar Masala

What to prepare before you get cooking

  • I used button mushrooms, and these were really tiny. So I just quartered them. Clean and cut the mushrooms to get bite-size pieces as per the size of mushrooms available.
  • For the spices, one of them is crushed coriander. If you have powder, go ahead and use it. But freshly crushed coriander seeds weave a certain flavour magic.
  • Fenugreek leaves are optional. Either use dried ones aka kasuri methi or replace with coriander leaves. But try to add it, as it bumps up the taste as well as the nutrition.
Wipe mushrooms with a wet towel instead of running under water to prevent them from going soggy. Click To Tweet

MUSHROOM MATAR MASALA / MUSHROOM AND GREEN PEAS CURRY

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup of green peas
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed ginger
  • 1 large or 2 medium sized tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt, to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp oil for cooking
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 slit green chili
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh fenugreek leaves OR 1 tbsp kasuri methi
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
Mushroom Matar Masala
Mushroom Matar Masala

Method

  • Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds.
  • Once the cumin crackles, add the garlic and saute until fragrant.
  • Add in the onion, ginger and green chilli. Add a bit of salt and mix well. Cover and let the onion cook till soft.
  • Add the tomatoes and mash them with the spatula. Add tiny bit salt, to hasten the cooking.
  • Cook covered, whilst checking intermittently, till the oil starts releasing from the sides.
  • Then add the spices; turmeric, crushed coriander, red chili powder and the garam masala. Mix well.
  • Add in the green peas and splash of water. Cover and cook. If using fresh peas, give it 10 minutes. For frozen peas, 5 minutes is adequate.
  • Add the mushrooms next and coat well in the masala. You might need to add a little more water.
  • Stir in the fenugreek leaves at this point and saute for a while.
  • Cover and cook until everything comes together. It will take about 5-7 minutes, as mushrooms and peas cook quite quickly.
  • Lastly, stir in the lemon juice. Adjust salt to your preference.
  • Since I used fresh fenugreek, I left out the coriander for garnish. It is a personal choice to use coriander leaves in this recipe and you may go ahead if you fancy.
  • Serve hot with chapati or any Indian flatbread.

 

Variations

  • Replace mushrooms with parboiled potato.
  • Replace green peas with boiled or canned chickpeas.

Want to try more simple Indian vegan preparations? Check out Bhindi ki Sabzi / Okra Stir-Fry

Instagram users

If you try this recipe tag #smitasfoodcharm on Instagram and to follow me click here @smitasfoodcharm

 

 

Chicken Malai Kebab / Creamy Grilled Chicken

Kebab is one of the most well-known meat dishes that the Middle-East has given to the world. But India has its own set of kebabs and Chicken Malai Kebab ranks quite high in popularity.

A kebab consists of pieces of marinated meat, on a skewer, that is grilled or barbecued. The Indian array of kebabs feature different spice and herb combos. Then they are grilled in a tandoor or on open fire on coal embers giving it the classic smoky flavour that is to die for. This is one of the best street treats you can find in India.

Malai means cream and as the name goes, Chicken malai kebab consist of succulent pieces of boneless chicken, marinated in a creamy base with a hint of spices. Once grilled, these are dripping with mouth-watering goodness. These kebabs are mild in their spice level. You can always increase the green chilli or pepper for more heat.

 



 

Which meat to use:

Quite often I hear discussion about what pieces of chicken should be used for grilling. Although the current health trend favours leaner cuts of meat, the extra fat on the thigh meat is in fact essential during grilling. As chicken can go dry pretty quick once on the heat, I do not prefer using chicken breast meat for this recipe. The last thing I would want is dehydrated chicken that tastes drab. Thus not only should you go for the thigh meat but also preserve the tags of fat that come with it; this is where the real magic lies in getting those soft, succulent pieces of meat.

Marination allows the chicken to get married with all the flavours you are coating it in. If in a hurry, 2 hours is fine but I would always suggest to plan ahead and give 8-10 hours marination time. This even tenderises the meat and the end result is always a notch higher.

Quick tip: To make matters simple, use a zipper bag and dump all the marinade ingredients and mix in the bag itself. Throw in the chicken pieces, remove the air and zip it up. Now just massage the marinade into the chicken.

That’s no mess, no fuss and 1 less container to wash!

Skewers: Bamboo skewers or satay sticks are easily available anywhere. To prevent them from burning, always soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. Or you can go ahead and use metal skewers.

Now let’s dive into this recipe.

Makes 5 skewers

Ingredients

  • 500 gm chicken thigh fillets
  • Oil for basting as required
  • For the marinade
  1.  1/4 cup Cream cheese
  2. 2 tbsp thick yogurt
  3. 2 tsp ginger paste
  4. 2 tsp garlic paste
  5. 1 and 1/2 tsp crushed green chilli (this is as per taste)
  6. Pinch of grated nutmeg
  7. Pinch of green cardamom powder
  8. 2 tsp salt
  9. 1-2 tsp white pepper (black pepper is good too!)

Method

  • Cut rectangular pieces of chicken approximately 1 inch by 2 inch.
  • Put all the ingredients of the marinade in a zipper bag or bowl and mix well such that there are no lumps.
  • Add the chicken pieces, and rub the mix well. Leave this to marinate in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours, overnight is ideal.
  • When ready to grill, skewer the strips lengthwise folding twice shaped like a S, such that each piece gets pricked thrice. (Imagine S to $) Most skewers should accommodate 3-4 pieces.
  • Grill the skewers in whichever method you choose. (See note below.) Use oil for basting.
  • Grill until chicken is cooked through, and there are beautiful char marks on the edges.
  • Indication that the chicken is cooked is, the juices run clear and there are no pink bits in the centre of the meat.

 

Chicken Malai Kebab

Methods to grill the kebab

  1. If you are lucky, you would get access to a tandoor and the burning coal to get the authentic smoky kebab flavor and aroma.
  2. Fire up the barbie! That’s how Aussies refer to the barbecue 🙂
  3. Oven: Preheat to 180 ° C and then cook for 15 minutes, turning halfway in between. After that, grill or broil for 10 minutes.
  4. And if you are like me, with none of the above resources, it is worthwhile to invest in a grill pan. I use a cast-iron grill pan for grilling kebabs in my very own home kitchen. A non-stick grill pan is another option.
  5. Just a regular pan or skillet.

How to serve

  1. As a starter – These kebabs are so flavourful, they make for an impressive starter. Just couple it up with some mint and coriander chutney and pickled onion rings.
  2. In a salad – If you love your veggies and salads make up most of your meals, 2 skewers of these kebabs can be an excellent source of protein.
  3. In a wrap – Take any flat bread, and layer with your choice of dressings and greens. You can even use lettuce wraps for a low-carb option.
  4. Chicken malai kebabs are loved by kids as they are mild and creamy.

Variations

Try a vegetarian spin on this with Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or parboiled baby potatoes.

 

You surely must save this mouthwatering recipe. Pinterest users save this pin.

Chicken Malai Kebab
Chicken Malai Kebab

 

Instagram users

If you try this recipe tag #smitasfoodcharm on Instagram and to follow me click here @smitasfoodcharm

 

Fancy another version of chicken kebab that is spicier? Click here for my Chicken Tikka recipe

 

Diwali Special FREE E-book

There is something special for Diwali on Smita’s Food Charm!

I have compiled 5 popular Indian desserts that are ready in a jiffy in your own microwave. For those of you who did not get enough time to prepare sweets for Diwali, I have got you covered.

This e-book is a must-have not just for Diwali, but whenever you have last-minute guests. At least you need not worry about the sweet dish.

Here is my Diwali gift for you. I am giving away this e-book absolutely free.

Click here to access your copy of this e-book ‘5 Microwave Desserts – Diwali Special’. 

You will receive a mail with the link and the password.

Now, it is your turn to spread the sweetness. So share this page with friends and family so everyone can have a very HAPPY DIWALI !!



Pinterest users Save this

Microwave Dessert - Diwali Special Free E-book
Microwave Dessert – Diwali Special Free E-book

 

 

 

 

Saakhar Bhaat

‘Saakhar Bhaat’ literally means Sugar Rice! As you can guess, it is a sweet dish made with rice as its main ingredient. It is a traditional Maharashtrian dessert that is prepared on festive occasions.

Saakhar Bhaat
Saakhar Bhaat

This year on Dassehra, I chose to make Saakhar Bhaat and got this hand-down recipe from Mum. Dassehra is a Hindu festival that marks the victory of Sri Rama over Ravana and also Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. It is considered one of the auspicious days to buy new things or start a new venture. As for me, my venture was in the kitchen, so went ahead for a recipe that I had never attempted before.

Even though it is rice, I would like to stress that it is a dessert. It is quite rich with ghee and sugar, so be mindful while you gorge on this decadent dessert. Without further ado, lets dive into the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice (I prefer Basmati rice)
  • 2 cups plain water
  • 1.5 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp ghee
  • 3-4 cloves
  • Small piece cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 10-12 almonds
  • Few strands of saffron
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • Pinch of salt
  • Orange food colour – optional

Preparation

Saffron strands infused in warm water
Saffron strands infused in warm water
  • Wash and soak the rice for 15 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
  • Blanch almonds : Soak the almonds in hot water (covered) for 10-15 minutes. The skin will soften and will easily come off. Sliver the almonds and halve some for garnish.
  • Take 2 tbsp hot water and let the saffron strands infuse in it. That way we can get maximum flavour and colour from the beautiful saffron.
  • Open the cardamom pods and crush the seeds to a powder.

Method 

  • In a pan, add 2 tbsp of ghee and once heated through, add the cloves and cinnamon.
  • Next, fry the rice in the ghee for couple of minutes. (I ♥ this aroma!)

 

  • Add water and a pinch of salt. Mix through. Cover and cook on low flame till the rice is cooked and all the water is absorbed.

 

  • Once the rice grains have softened, add the sugar, raisins, slivered almonds, cardamom, saffron and food colour if using. Mix well.

 

  • You will notice, after adding sugar, it releases moisture. Cook covered on low till the dampness is completely absorbed. This takes around 10 minutes, depending on the quantity.
After adding sugar
After adding sugar
  • Lastly, garnish with the 1 tsp of ghee and halved almonds.

 

  • Saakhar Bhaat tastes best when devoured hot!

 

 

 

 

 

Pin this

Saakhar Bhaat
Saakhar Bhaat

Follow me on Instagram @smitasfoodcharm

Mushroom Xacuti/ Goan Mushroom Curry

Till about a couple years ago, I did not fancy mushrooms; but then the affair started and now I can proudly say, “I’m in love.” Mushrooms are loaded with protein and Vitamin D with minimal calories. So for a health buff like me, it is one helluva ingredient.

I usually stir-fry them with some butter and garlic or just add to noodles or Mexican chili to bump up the nutrition. But this time, I decided to hero this little c(h)ap! And what better way than some spicy Indian curry, in fact, even closer to home with this traditional Goan preparation, Xacuti. (pronounced as Shaa-go-tee.)

Mushroom Xacuti
Mushroom Xacuti

I have used white button mushrooms here, but you can go ahead and use whichever edible (obviously!) mushrooms you have on hand. And when I say spicy, that’s what it is – A blast of various spices, each imparting its own unique flavour and aroma. So let’s get started..

Ingredients

  • 250 gm, button mushrooms, diced to bite-size pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 small tomato, diced
  • 2-3 tsp oil
  • 1-2 bay leaf
  • pinch of ground turmeric
  • salt, to taste
  • coriander, for garnishing
  • juice of lemon, as required

To be ground together

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 black peppercorns
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 2-3 small pieces of cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 mace
  • 4 dry red chilli
  • 1 small onion, roughly sliced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small piece ginger
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 1/3 cup dry or wet shredded coconut
The best part of mushrooms is, absorbing whatever flavours u throw it into! Click To Tweet

Method

  • In a pan, add the spices to be ground together and dry roast it together. Once fragrant, transfer to a blender. (See note below)
  • Roast the onion till slightly browned. Likewise for the coconut. Slightly roast the garlic.
  • Blend all these along with other ingredients to be ground together, with some water, to a paste.
  • In a kadhai~, add the oil. Once heated, add the bay leaf.
Mushroom Xacuti
Mushroom Xacuti
  • Then saute the onion till slightly pink.
  • Next add the tomato and cook till mushy. Add a pinch of ground turmeric and salt.
  • Now add the ground paste and mix together till oil starts separating from the sides.
  • Throw in the chopped mushrooms and coat well with the masala. Add 1 cup of water and check the salt.
  • Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add more water if needed to adjust the consistency.
  • Once off the heat, add the lemon juice and garnish with coriander.
  • Enjoy this sizzling xacuti with bread, chapati*, bhakri* or steamed rice.

Note : For dry roasting spices, pan should always be on medium heat. Add the spices in small batches, never over-crowding the pan. Keep stirring, you must not leave it unattended at any time. Roast for not more than 1 minute. IF it goes black, it implies that the spices have burnt and will have to be discarded (sigh!) Otherwise the recipe will turn bitter.

~round, thick-bottomed, wide-mouthed vessel that is generally used in Indian cooking

*Indian flat-breads made with wheat/rice/millet flour

Variation

  • Replace mushrooms with chicken or red meat. This recipe is originally for Chicken Xacuti but vegetarian version uses mushroom.

 

Pin this for future

Mushroom Xacuti
Mushroom Xacuti

 

Bhindi ki Sabzi / Okra Stir-Fry

Bhindi (Okra) is a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine, which is prepared in hundreds of ways. Probably each state in India has a different style of cooking bhindi. Sometimes as a dry preparation just stir-fried or in a yogurt based gravy or an onion-tomato gravy. It can also be marinated in some spices and semolina and pan-fried or just added in sambar or fish curry.

Bhindi ki Sabzi
Bhindi ki Sabzi with Phulkas

Okra is my husband’s favourite veggie. In early courtship period, when I was all set to impress him, bhindi was what I planned to cook. Little did I know that even though it tastes so good, preparing it can be a messy and frustrating ordeal. The insides of an okra contain a slimy, gooey substance which leaves its presence on your hands, on the knife, chopping board, just about everywhere. Everyone who has cooked okra has definitely been there.

Are you wondering how to enjoy okra sans the muck? It’s your lucky day for I have outlined tips right from buying good bhindi to preparing as well as cooking without the sticky goo coming in your way!

Bhindi ki Sabzi
Bhindi ki Sabzi

TIPS FOR SELECTING OKRA AT THE GROCERS

  • Did you know okra is called Ladies’ finger? There is a pretty good logic behind this. An okra should be slender and delicate like a lady’s finger. Such okras cook well and taste better. Hence select the slender, delicate ones (don’t go around comparing them with your fingers though!! 😀 )
  • The pointed end should be flexible and bend easily. If it is tough, that okra won’t cook well. (Just bend slightly to check, not necessarily break it.)
  • As with any other produce, the surface should be free of dark spots, blemishes or bruises.
Okra is called Lady's finger because it should be slender & delicate like a Lady's finger! Click To Tweet

HOW TO CLEAN AND PREPARE OKRA

bhindi

  • Okra stays in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Just wrap in a plastic bag.
  • When you wish to cook, wash in cold water and pat dry. Drying the okra well is a very important step.
  • Cut off the pointed end and the remaining stalk.
  • Okra can be cut in rounds or lengthwise. While cutting rounds, I prefer using a sharp paring knife in a palm-grip just so that I don’t need the chopping board!
  • Wash the knife and board immediately as once the slimy substance dries, it is tougher to clean off.

There are many fancy styles to cook bhindi. But my favourite is this simple stir-fry with hot phulkas (thin whole wheat rotis.) So lets get started..

Bhindi ki Sabzi
Bhindi ki Sabzi

BHINDI KI SABZI / OKRA STIR-FRY

Ingredients

  • 250 gm okra (bhindi)
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • A pinch of asafoetida (found in Indian grocery; can be left out)
  • 2 green chili, slit in half
  • 2 tbsp dried mango powder (amchoor)
  • Pinch of ground turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

Method

  • In a wok, heat oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Then add the asafoetida and curry leaves and cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add the onion and saute well. Fry the onion till it is golden. Meanwhile. add the green chili
  • Once the onion is golden, it is time for okra. Mix it well with the onion and keep sautéing.

Now comes the tricky part! 

Okra will start releasing gooey threads which seem to increase as you go on stirring. Read on to know how to tackle this menace!

  1. No water – Come what may, DO NOT ADD WATER!!
  2. Not adding salt yet – Salt causes release of moisture and that’s the last thing we wish for
  3. Sour / tangy agent – Sour agents counter the stringiness of the okra. Once the threads reduce, the okra can fry well. Examples are lemon/lime juice, tomato, yogurt, tamarind, kokum, amchoor. In this recipe, I am using amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • Keep stir-frying the okra. I am assuming you have added the sour agent, amchoor, in this case. Add the turmeric as well.
  • Once okra seems to be cooked well, season with salt.

Serve this bhindi ki sabzi with some hot Indian flat bread. We prefer the thin phulkas made of whole wheat flour as it goes perfectly with this modest okra stir-fry.

Do you prepare okra? Do you like it? Do you have a favourite preparation? Also, if you would like to read more okra recipes do let me know in the comments below.

Save this for future

Bhindi ki Sabzi / Okra Stir-Fry
Bhindi ki Sabzi / Okra Stir-Fry

Kothu Roti: Stir-fried, Left-over Roti

Quite routinely, we end up having left-over roti(Indian flat-bread). And every so often they end up in the bin. (Who likes stale rotis?) But if we are able to turn them into a delicious, protein-packed meal, I am sure you will find reasons to leave some extra roti!

Kothu Roti
Kothu Roti

Kothu Roti’ is a very popular street food in South India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia; obviously each has its own style but the basic concept remains same. It is also referred to as ‘Kothu Parotta’. It is made on a broad, flat skillet, while stir-frying veggies, egg or meat along with the chopped up roti in an assortment of spices.  In the comfort of my kitchen, I use a regular wok to make this. This recipe tastes best when it goes from the skillet into the mouth.

Kothu Roti
IMG_20160803_204735
Kothu Roti

I came across this yummy dish in an Indian-Malaysian cafe in Melbourne and instantly fell in love with it. It is so customisable that you can whip it up with whatever ingredients you have on hand. There are no hard and fast rules. I usually like to incorporate eggs, so it amps up the protein in the meal. But it can very well be made vegan. In addition, if you have any grilled/shredded chicken lying around in the fridge, this is a good place to use it.

I generally like to have this as a big breakfast or brunch when I have left-over roti from previous day’s dinner. But again, Kotthu Roti tastes awesome for any meal of the day, as long as it is freshly made and served hot.

I would even say this is a very ‘bachelor friendly‘ recipe. You can use frozen parathas that are easily available. Just roast, chop and continue with this recipe. (Psst.. You can be a winner even if you do not possess the skill to actually prepare a roti/paratha!)

Not skilled to make rotis? Use store-bought frozen parathas in this Kotthu Roti recipe. Click To Tweet
Kotthu Roti
Kotthu Roti
IMG_20160803_204728
Kothu Roti

KOTHU ROTI: STIR-FRIED, LEFT-OVER ROTI

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large rotis or paratha
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 onion, chopped fine or lengthwise
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 capsicum, chopped fine or lengthwise (great if you can use different colours!)
  • 6-7 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp curry powder OR garam masala
  • Pinch of ground turmeric
  • Red chilli powder, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil for cooking
  • Coriander for garnish
  • Lemon juice while serving.

Method

  • Chop the veggies and tear the roti into small pieces. The size of roti is completely upto you.
  • In a wok, heat some oil. Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Then add the curry leaves and allow them to sizzle.
  • Next add the onion and fry till golden.
  • Add the capsicum and other vegetables of choice. Fry till crisp.

 

Kotthu Roti
Kotthu Roti
  • Finely chop the tomato and add to the wok. Cook till it turns slightly mushy. Add little salt so the tomato can cook faster, followed by the other spices. You can adjust the spiciness of the dish depending on your taste buds.
  • Now push the above mixture to one side of the wok, or just make a well in between and add the eggs. I just broke the eggs directly into the wok, however, whisking them outside and then adding gives a better result.
  • Scramble the eggs and season with salt and pepper.

 

Getting the eggs scrambled
Getting the eggs scrambled
  • Lastly, add the bits of roti/paratha and saute till everything is well incorporated.
  • Garnish with coriander, lemon juice and dig in while it’s hot!

Variations:

  • Optional vegetables: Carrots, celery, cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms
  • You may add shredded chicken, grilled meat of choice, minced meat, chopped sausages. (Just vary the cooking time accordingly.)
  • Try with pita or toasted bread and share your results. (Though I have always made with left-over home-made rotis or frozen paratha.)