September 28, 2017

Bottle Gourd Recipes From Around India

The inspiration for the recipe comes from a friend of mine who has a very good green thumb, and hence has a good harvest of Indian vegetables even in our part of the world where the summer is very short. I do get a small share of her harvest :-), and last week she gave me a large Lauki (Bottle gourd) with a challenge to try recipes using it, knowing that it is not a very common vegetable from where I come from originally. So I decided to go the full circle with recipes across all of India and picked the ones that I found interesting, one from each part of India. Check it out, each of them brings out a different flavor with the Lauki. 

Lauki Dal (Bottle gourd with Moong Dal)
This is from the North of India, a variant of dal with veggies. I just prefer to make this with moong dal, but can be substituted with masoor dal, or any other lentil of your choice. Vary cooking time accordingly. 


Ingredients
  • Moong Dal - 1/2 cup
  • Lauki - 1 cup (chopped fine)
  • Tomato - 1/2 cup  (chopped)
  • Garlic - 1 Tbsp (minced)
  • Ginger - 1 Tbsp  (minced)
  • Green chilly - 1-2 (chopped fine)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Cooking oil - 1 Tbsp (I used avocado oil)
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Chopped coriander leaves - for garnish
Directions
  • Cook Dal with 2 cups of water.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add ginger, garlic, green chilly and saute till slightly golden.
  • Add tomato and lauki and cook till tomato is soft. Add everything to the cooked dal along with salt and turmeric powder. Simmer over medium heat till lauki is cooked well. 
  • Adjust seasoning and switch off. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Enjoy!!

Handvo w/ Lauki (Steamed channa dal-rice cakes with bottle gourd)  
This is from the West of India. It is loosely based on dhokla recipes and the description of handvo I have heard from my Gujarati friends. This can be made with just channa dal flour omitting the rice flour. It can also be made by soaking channa dal and rice, and grinding for the batter instead of using the flour. Bottle gourd can be substituted or supplemented with other vegetables too.



Ingredients
  • Channa dal flour (Besan) - 1/2 cup 
  • Rice flour - 1/2 cup
  • Coarse rice or channa powder - 2 Tbsp (Substitute with rava/semolina) 
  • Yogurt - 1/2 cup 
  • Sea salt as per taste
  • Lauki (skinned and grated) - 1/2 cup 
  • Ginger - 1 Tbsp (minced)
  • Garlic - 1 Tbsp (minced)
  • Green chilly - 1-2 (minced)
  • Baking soda - 1/4 tsp 
  • Citric acid - 1/8 tsp (substitute with 1 tsp of lemon juice)
  • Cooking oil - 1 Tbsp (I used avocado oil)
  • Sesame seeds - 2 Tbsp (toasted till red) 

Directions
  • Mix besan, rice flour and coarse rice flour with yogurt and salt to form a very thick batter. (Add 1/4 cup water if needed to form the batter). Keep it aside overnight to ferment.
  • Once ready to make add grated lauki, ginger, garlic  and mix well green chilly.
  • Get the steamer ready, grease dhokla plate or any plate or cake tin that you can use inside a steamer with coconut oil or ghee. 
  • Just before adding the batter to the steamer plate, mix in the baking soda and citric acid and stir in one direction.
  • Pour the batter into greased steamer plates, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and steam on medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes.
  • Optionally add a tempering of cumin/fennel/mustard seeds in your choice of cooking oil on top of the steamed cakes. Cut into desired shapes and serve warm. 
  • Enjoy!!

Lau Besara (Bottle Gourd in Mustard Gravy) 
This one is from the East of India, from Orissa. Recipe adapted from here. This is first time I am making something Indian that has mustard gravy, and I am glad I did. Pleasantly surprised with the flavor profile :-). 



Ingredients:
  • Louki (lau) 1 cup (diced into cubes)
  • Potato - 1 medium cut into small pieces
  • Green Chillies  - 1-2  chopped into pieces
  • Cumin, black seed, fennel, mustard and fenugreek- a pinch each (Panch-phutana spice mix)
  • Mustard Paste - 1 batch ( grind, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 2-3 cloves of garlic)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Cooking oil - 2 tsp (I used avocado oil) 
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves for garnish

Directions:
  • In a saucepan add lauki, potato, turmeric powder salt and 1/2 cup of water, and cook covered.
  • When vegetables are almost done, add mustard paste and continue cooking till the vegetables are cooked well.
  • Heat oil in a shallow pan, add the panch-phutana spices and let them splutter, add green chilies and fry for a few seconds and temper over the cooking vegetables.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and enjoy!!


Sorakkaya Kootu (Bottle gourd w/ Channa Dal) 
This is from my part if India, the South of India, specifically from namma Tamil Nadu. Kootu is a  simple every day dish in any Tamil household, and can be made with a variety of vegetables. 



Ingredients:
  • Channa Dal - 1/2 cup (soaked overnight)
  • Lauki/bottle gourd - 1 cup (diced into cubes)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Urud dal - 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
  • Red chilly - 1-2 
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Grated coconut - 1/2 cup 
  • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Mustard seed - 1 tsp
  • Urud dal - 1/2 tsp
  • Red chilly - 1 
Directions: 
  • Start cooking drained channa dal with 2 cups of water, turmeric and salt.
  • Once the channa dal is cooked half way thru, add bottle gourd cubes and continue cooking.
  • Meanwhile dry roast urud dal in a pan, once it is red, add coriander seeds, red chilly, and fenugreek seeds toast for a minute or so till nice aroma comes. 
  • Add toasted spices, along with cumin and coconut into a blender jar and grind to a fine paste. Use some cooking water from the vegetables as needed for grinding. 
  • Once the vegetables are done well, add the ground masala and simmer for a couple of minutes, adjust seasoning and switch off.
  • Heat coconut oil, pop add mustard/urud/red chilly and when mustard pops, temper over the gravy.
  • Server warm with rice or as is as a hearty stew.
  • Enjoy!!

August 14, 2017

Kozhukkatta Mappas (Rice-Ball Stew, Kerala Style)


Hmm, so what is Kozhukutta Mappas? I would put it as nice comfort food, like a rice ball soup kerala style. As often happens in the quicknhealthy kitchen this is a scotch recipe that became a family favorite :-). Perfect for a light breakfast or as part of your Sunday brunch menu. I am using store-bought rice flour for this recipe, but this works very well with home made rice flour as well. 

Ingredients:
  • Rice flour - 1 cup 
  • Coconut oil - 3 Tbs
  • Red onion - 1 (sliced)
  • Green chilly - 2-3 (sliced)
  • Fresh ginger root - 1 inch piece (julienned)
  • Tomato - 3 (small, sliced thin)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste 
  • Cardamom - 1-2
  • Cloves - 2-3
  • Cinnamon sticks - 1-2 (thin 1 inch sticks)
Directions:
  • Boil 1 cup of water with a tablespoon of coconut oil and and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Switch off, remove from stove, add the rice flour and mix well with a spoon and keep it closed for 5-10 minutes.
  • Mix it well with hand and make small balls (truffle-size). 
  • Steam the balls for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining coconut oil in a soup pot or saucepan. Add the whole spices and sauté for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add sliced onion, julienned ginger and sliced green chilly and sauté till onion is slightly golden. Add sliced tomato and sauté till soft and mushy. 
  • Add coconut milk, salt and turmeric powder. Add the steamed rice balls and simmer for 5-10 minutes on low-medium heat. 
  • Serve warm. Enjoy!!

July 16, 2017

Plantain Tortillas


It has been such a long time I have posted a recipe, a combination of factors - getting settled to my new home/kitchen, a lil hectic time at work, some travel, friends/family visiting, and a bit of more things at home. That does not mean I have not been cooking much, the kitchen experiments have continued, just did not get a chance to post anything. So hopefully that will change soon.

So here is a new recipe that we have loved and hence made quite a few times as part of reducing carbs, gluten and grains. This is a tortilla made with just plantains. So easy to make, almost as easy as unpacking and warming a pack of store bought tortillas, yet so much better in taste, texture and of course infinitely healthier 😊.






Ingredients:
  • Medium plantain - 2
  • Avocado oil - 3-4 Tbs
  • Sea salt- 1/2 tsp
  • Filtered water - 3-4 Tbs

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 deg F
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Peel the skin off the plantains and dice into cubes. 
  • Add to a blender jar with remaining ingredients and purée till smooth.
  • Take 1/4 cup of batter and spread on the parchment paper to 4-5 inch diameter circles. This makes about 5-6.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, check and bake for 5-10 minutes more. 
  • Use just like tortillas. Enjoy!!









Recipe adapted from here:

March 23, 2017

Vendakka Mappas (Hearty Okra Stew)

Kerala cuisine is known for its use of coconut in all forms - coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut meat. Stew is a very common dish from Kerala which has many different versions, varying from the north of the state to the south of the state, with most versions having coconut milk as the common ingredient. Mappas is a variation of the stew, mostly made with fish (Fish Mappas) and is a common cuisine in the christian belt of kerala and has its likely origin based on portuguese influence. What I am doing today is the vegetarian/vegan version. 

Vendakka mappas (Okra stew), it is an hearty stew made of okra (or ladies finger as it is known in many parts of the globe) and simmered in a mildly spiced tangy coconut-milk gravy. Addition of okra will give an interesting texture, and is a very good choice because okra is a diabetic friendly and heart healthy vegetable which everyone is trying include in their meals these days. 






Ingredients:

  • Okra  - 30-40 (small medium)
  • Red onion  - 1  
  • Tomato - 5-6 (small Campari tomato)  
  • Green chilly -2-3 
  • Fresh ginger - 2 inches
  • Coconut oil - 3 Tbs 
  • Cinnamon - 2-3 thin strips 
  • Cardamom - 1-2
  • Cloves - 2-3 
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp 
  • Red chilly powder - 1-2 tsp  (adjust as per spice level)
  • Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  • Garam masala - 1/4 tsp (optional) 
  • Sea salt - 1 tsp (plus add as per taste) 
  • Homemade coconut milk - 3 cups ** 
Directions:
  • Wash and trip okra and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Cut into1 inch long pieces. 
  • Heat 1 Tbs of coconut oil in a cast iron pan and saute okra on medium heat till roasted well. Keep turning frequently taking care not to burn the okra. 
  • Meanwhile slice red onion thin, julienne ginger, slice tomatoes thin and slit green chillies.
  • Heat 1 Tbs of coconut oil in another cast iron pan and roast onion slices on medium heat till roasted well. Keep turning frequently taking care not to burn.
  • Heat remaining coconut oil in a soup pot or deep bottom sauce pan, add the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and saute for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add tomato slices, green chillies and all the spices. Cook on medium heat till tomatoes are soft and mushy. 
  • Add coconut milk, add the roasted okra and onion. Simmer over medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Adjust seasoning and switch off.
  • Let is rest for at least an hour  before serving.
  • Serve warm with rice, rice pan cakes or just as is as a hearty stew/soup.
  • Enjoy!!


**Home made coconut milk recipe is here: While quicknhealthy do not recommend using canned coconut milk, if you must use it, please do your research and buy the best possible brand. Also note that if you are using store bought coconut milk, you might need to adjust consistency by diluting it.