Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Brussel Sprouts Paruppu Usli

Brussel sprouts was not a vegetable that everyone in the family embraced at first go. It has a slight bitterness to it and shares some qualities with cabbage as well. Thinking of ways to incorporate it, I remembered that my friend (when studying/working) used to rave about cabbage paruppu usli that her mom made and I thought I could try that with brussel sprouts since paruppu usli works well with other slightly bitter veggies like vazhaipoo (banana flower), kothavarangai etc.  We were very happy with the result and this is something I have made several times now.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS PARUPPU USLI



Ingredients:

Brussel sprouts - about 3/4 pound
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Curry leaves - few
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp 

To Grind:
Toor dhal & Channa dhal - 1/4 cup each, soak together for 3-4 hours
Red Chillies - 5 to 6
Garlic - 1 or 2 cloves (optional)
Jeera - 1 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - a big pinch
Coconut (grated) - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

Method:

1) Wash, remove the hard end and chop the brussel sprouts finely.

2) Grind the soaked dhals, red chillies, garlic, jeera, salt,  asafoetida and coconut to a coarse paste.

3) Smear 1 tsp of oil in a glass (or microwaveable bowl) and add the ground dhal paste and microwave for 2 mins, remove after a minute, stir the mixture and microwave again for another minute or two (let it stay for a minute). It should've cooked and hardened by this time but it won't be crumbly.

4)To rectify this, run the cooked dhal mixture in a mixie/blender until the mixture has a crumbled texture.

5) Heat a wide pan with oil and season with mustard seeds and curry leaves when hot. Add the chopped brussel sprouts and some salt to taste. Cover and allow to cook until crisp tender. Sprinkle some water as necessary.

6) Add the crumbled dhal mixture and stir together until combined. Cover for 2 minutes to allow the flavors to come together and switch off the stove. 

Paruppu usli is now ready to serve. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cajun Potatoes


I was amazed at the variety of food that was offered at Barbeque Nation restaurant. The fact that they have a full fledged buffet menu after all the initial appetizers came as quite a surprise and the kids and my parents enjoyed it too. My dad is a big fan of potato based dishes and he particularly liked the Cajun Potatoes that was served as one of the appetizers. Wanting to try it at home and make a healthier version of it, I gave it a shot and it turned out to be very good. I also made it as an appetizer for a party and our friends loved it too. The spicy, roasted potatoes combined the creamy dressing and the crunch of onions makes it a winner.


Tip: Mix the potatoes with the dressing only when it's time to serve. I have had success with using Red potatoes and also keeping the skin is good for a nice crispy exterior. 


CAJUN POTATOES








Ingredients

Red Potatoes - about 6, scrubbed thoroughly and washed (since we are keeping the skin on)
Olive Oil - 1 to 2 tbsp.
Red Chilli powder - about 1 tsp (adjust based on desired spice level)
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Salt - to taste

Dressing:
Mayonnaise - 2 tbsp.
Plain Greek Yogurt - 2 tbsp (strain regular yogurt with a cheesecloth for a few hours as a replacement)
Onions - 2 to 3 tbsp, finely chopped
Paprika - half tsp
Dried Italian herbs - 1 tsp
Black pepper - 1/4 tsp
Garlic powder - half tsp
Salt - to taste

Optional Topping - Fried Onions or Jalapenos  (I used store bought) , Coriander/Cilantro leaves or spring onion tops

Method:
1) Boil the red potatoes in some hot water till they are par boiled. Inserting a fork in them should be easy but they should still be firm.


2) Meanwhile combine all the dressing ingredients and let it rest while the rest of the potato preparation go on.


3) Allow this to cool and cut into 1.5 inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, salt, turmeric and red chilli powder and spread evenly as one layer on a large baking sheet.
4) Cook in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees F for about 20-30 mins till roasted and crispy. Flip once in between.

5) When ready to serve, combine the warm potatoes with the dressing and top with some fried onions, cilantro etc. 


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vegetable Noodle Soup Bowl

This is a very tasty, easy and healthy recipe that is also perfect for the weather we are having - which has been rather cold and rainy...  I have to thank my brother for this idea since he sent me pictures of the gluten-free noodles he used and inspired me to give this a shot by sending me his recipe as well.
The 'Lotus Food' brand organic millet brown rice noodles are available at Costco but really any rice noodles or thin Somen noodles will work just fine in this recipe.



As for the vegetable broth, I used the vegetarian better than bouillon paste mixed with water but one could also use store bought broth or use home made as well.



VEGETABLE NOODLE SOUP BOWL



Ingredients:

Soup Base
Vegetable Broth - 8 cups 
Ginger - half inch piece, crushed or minced
Garlic - 3 cloves, crushed or minced
Ground red chilli paste - half to 1 tbsp
Soy sauce - half tsp 
Coriander leaves / Stems - 2 to 3 tbsp, chopped 
Cinnamon Stick - 1 (optional)
Star Anise - 1  (optional)

Ground Black pepper/Salt - to taste (since the stock and sauces have a lot of salt, taste before adding more salt)

Stir Fried Vegetables
5 to 6 cups of vegetables - I used a combination of carrots, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, mushroom, bell pepper, spinach, edamame (or you can use frozen stir fried vegetables and save some chopping time in the process)
Soy sauce - 1 tsp
Sriracha - 2 to 3 tsp  (Red Chilly sauce)
Ground Black pepper - to taste
Sesame Oil - 1 tbsp.

Noodles (Rice or thin Somen) 
Follow package directions to prepare noodles - about half cup per person should be good. 
Drain and keep aside. If you wish for additional spice, you could toss this with some soy sauce and sriracha (but this is entirely optional)

Garnish: (optional) 
Fried Onions, Spring Onions chopped or Coriander leaves

Method:
For the soup -  In a deep pot, combine broth, ginger, garlic, red chilli paste, soy sauce, spices if using and bring to a boil.  Simmer on low-medium for about 10 -15 minutes. Add black pepper and salt to taste and sprinkle the chopped coriander. Cover and let the flavors mingle for about 5-10 minutes. 


For the vegetables: Heat a wok on medium high, add the sesame oil and toss in the vegetables. Saute for 5 to 6 mins, add the soy sauce, Sriracha and black pepper and continue to cook till crisp-tender.  If you have mushrooms, you will want to slice and saute in a tsp of oil separately with some salt and pepper. 

To Assemble: In a bowl, add a serving of cooked noodles, top with the stir fried vegetables, and pour in the soup till the noodles and veggies are covered. Sprinkle with fried onions and chopped spring onions or coriander leaves. Dig in!