Monthly Archives: April 2011

Vegetable Manchurian with Spicy Cilantro-Garlic Gravy and Fried Noodles

Vegetable Manchurian with Spicy Cilantro-Garlic Gravy and Fried Noodles

Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Have you ever had the delicious combination of Indian and Chinese food? If not, this is a new taste adventure you are sure to love. Indian-Chinese is very popular in India, and it’s offered on lots of pub menus and restaurant menus. There’s nothing quite as good with a cool drink as a fried vegetable ball dripping with a spicy garlic-chili sauce! Or a crispy, spicy baby corn spear… this cuisine is not for the spice-challenged person!

There are many varieties of Manchurian – some are “dry” (without a lot of gravy), some are “wet”. Some use tomato product in the sauce, some don’t. All of them are highly flavored with some type of fried ball or battered pieces of vegetable, paneer or chicken.

My favorite recipe for Veg Manchurian is the following recipe from (my Dear Mother-in-Law) Shyamala Kallianpur‘s cookbook “Green Leafy Vegetables”. (Unfortunately it is out of print right now, but she is hoping to make it available again! The book is a treasure trove of healthy Konkani vegetarian cooking with some bonus recipes thrown in.) Without further delay (as many people have been asking for this recipe!!!)…

Vegetable Manchurian with Spicy Garlic-Cilantro Gravy

Serves 6

This is a two-part recipe. Make the balls first, set aside and then work on the sauce. Making both at once is a little hectic unless you have some help in the kitchen!

For the Vegetable Balls:

  • 1 cup spring onion leaves (green part only)
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 1 cup cabbage
  • 1/2 cup carrot
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper
  • 2 small potatoes (approx 1 1/2 cups), boiled, peeled and mashed
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili sauce (the red sauce in a bottle)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 – 4 cups oil for deep frying
  1. Finely cut the first 5 vegetable ingredients. Cut as finely as possible – a food processor is the fastest and easiest but you can also use a grater or a knife.
  2. Heat a large wok or frying pan over medium low heat. Put the vegetables in the pan along with 2 tsp of salt. Stir occasionally and allow to cook for 5 minutes. The vegetables will just start to steam/sweat a bit, not brown.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients except for the oil. Mix together well using a spoon or your hands. Test for salt level and add more if necessary.
  5. Form into 1″ diameter balls and flatten slightly. Deep fry until dark brown. Drain and set aside.
For the Gravy:
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 6 – 12 green chilis (or to taste), grind into a paste with a little water
  • 30 cloves of garlic, minced – don’t be shy with this…it mellows out with cooking!
  • 1/2 cup spring onion leaves (green part only), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 – 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili sauce
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups of water
  1. Heat a medium or large frying pan over medium low heat. Add 2 tbsp of oil and then the green chili paste and minced garlic. Fry slowly, stirring often until it starts to turn brown. This takes a long time to turn brown…just take it slowly and keep a close eye since it will burn quickly at the end.
  2. Add the cut spring onion and 1/2 of the coriander leaves. Mix well and cook for 4 -5 minutes. You can add a little bit of the water if it starts to stick too much.
  3. Mix the sauces, vinegar, cornstarch, and about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water in a separate bowl to make a thin paste. Pour into the pan and stir to mix well.
  4. Stir in the remaining water and bring to a boil. Continue cooking (or add more water) until the consistency is that of a medium-thick gravy.
  5. Taste for salt and add if necessary.
  6. Remove from heat, add the fried vegetable balls and remaining cilantro. Serve hot with fried rice or noodles.

Say Yes!… to Kale Mojito Cocktails with Agave

Say Yes!… to Kale Mojito Cocktails with Agave

Hello! Yes, you read right…Kale Mojitos! Only here will you find such a strange but wonderful combination – the nutritious goodness of kale meets the badness of white rum! Believe me, you will never taste the kale (not that I don’t love the taste of kale)!

Last week my girls and I created this wonderful, refreshing cocktail that is very tasty and easy on the conscience. But don’t be fooled. It is a real cocktail and hits the spot.

Kale Mojitos with Agave

Makes 4 drinks

  • 4 leaves of kale, washed (we used dinosaur kale)
  • 1/2 cup of agave syrup (or to taste, or use simple syrup)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of cold water
  • 1 cup of fresh mint, washed
  • 3 limes
  • 4 shots of white rum (6 oz or to taste)
  • 1 bottle of club soda or sparkling water
  • 4 cups of ice cubes

To prepare the kale juice:

  1. Tear the kale into pieces, removing the stem, and put it in the blender.
  2. Add the agave (or simple syrup). Start to blend, adding cold water as needed to make a thick syrupy juice. Blend until it is as smooth as possible. It’s okay if there are small chunks of kale since the mint will have chunks anyway.
  3. Set aside.

To prepare the mint and garnish:

  1. Place 10 leaves of mint in a mortar (or bowl).
  2. Pour the juice of two of the limes over and muddle with the pestle (or use a fork). Set aside.
  3. Pick out 4 nice sprigs of mint and set aside.
  4. Cut the remaining lime into wedges and set aside.

To prepare the Mojitos:

  1. Pour 1 shot (1.5 oz) rum into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice to fill 1/2 to the top.
  3. Add 1/4 of the mint-lime juice mixture.
  4. Add 4 tbsp of the kale juice (or less if the shaker is too full with that amount).
  5. Shake vigorously for 1 minute.
  6. Strain into a tall ice-filled glass.
  7. Add club soda or sparkling water to fill to the top.
  8. Swish around a bit to mix it.
  9. Garnish with mint sprig and lime.
  10. Enjoy your refreshing drink!

Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach

Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach

Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life… I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post. Spring has brought so many chores and activities that have kept me away from blogging for the past few weeks. Hopefully I can get the momentum going again and start posting more frequently!

This morning I woke up early with the kids. It’s a sunny-cloudy day, so we aren’t sure if it’s about to pour down rain or if we should get outside while the weather holds. Either way, with a very active day ahead I wanted to make a high-protein breakfast this morning. I decided on tofu and a vegetarian sausage along with some fresh organic strawberries and a left-over chappati from last night.

A word about the sausage: I found this pack of Harmony Valley Vegetarian Sausage Mix at Henry’s Market.

I used a portion of it over the last few months adding a little of it to chili and jambalaya with great success. I finished up the pack today by adding water, letting it rest, forming it into patties and then shallow frying in a bit of oil. The texture is fantastic and the taste is great. I like this more than the Gimme Lean brand of sausage for making patties. If you can find it at your local grocery, I recommend you try it out.

Here’s my recipe for Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach. If you don’t have the individual spices listed, you may substitute 2 tsp curry powder. I have seen lots of similar recipes in cookbooks and on blogs, so can’t attribute my adaptation to any one source.

Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach

Serves 4

  • 1 package of firm or extra-firm tofu (not silken)
  • 2 – 4 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped (I used spring onions with green tops)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (or 1 cup frozen, thawed, water squeezed out)
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, cut in bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder (optional)
  • 1/2 avocado, diced (optional)


  1. Press the water out of the tofu: Remove the tofu from packaging and place on a towel-lined plate. Place another towel on top of the tofu and then a can of something as a weight or another plate inverted. This will press out a lot of the water. Let it sit like this until step 5.
  2. Heat a skillet or saute pan over medium heat and add the oil.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic. Stir around occasionally for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili (if using) (or the curry powder  if using in place of these spices) and the salt. Stir to incorporate and let cook for 1 minute.
  5. Crumble the tofu with your hands and add it to the pan. Stir it around, but don’t mash it. I like it to remain pretty chunky. (Actually this is a personal choice – some people may like it more finely crumbled – so crumble it to the size you like!)
  6. Allow the tofu to start getting brown spots here and there. Let it cook for about 3 minutes, stirring about once every minute.
  7. Add the spinach and allow to cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Make sure that any water that was added along with the spinach evaporates. You may have to increase the heat a bit.
  8. Turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes and garam masala (if using). Allow to sit for a minute before serving.
  9. After plating, top with the avocado (if using). You can also top it with hot sauce or another condiment…Enjoy!