Category Archives: Bread

Pink Heart-Shaped Puris for Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m reposting a recipe from several years ago. I think my photos have improved over the years but you can still see in this pic the heart-shaped bread tinged pink with beet juice. These are a yummy snack or meal for kids and adults served with potato curry or another vegetable curry. For the past year or so I have been using whole wheat pastry flour instead of the Indian atta flour. My mother-in-law and I compared and tested several types of common American flours and determined that this was a perfect substitute.

Valentine’s Puri-Bhaji

Valentine’s Puris (serves 4)

  • 3 cups of atta flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup beet juice*
  • additional water to make a stiff dough
  • Oil for deep frying

Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of beet juice and start kneading the mixture into a stiff dough. Keep adding water until all the flour is incorporated. Knead by hand for 5 minutes, cover and let rest for at least 1/2 hour. Please note that puri dough must be very stiff to puff up successfully when fried.

Heat the oil to 350F degrees. Take a small piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/4″ thick. Use your heart-shaped (or other) cookie cutter to cut out the puris. One at a time, slide a puri into the heated oil. It will sink at first. With a slotted spoon press gently on the top of the puri until it comes up and starts to puff. Allow it to cook while you baste the top of the puri with oil from the sides for about 1 minute. Then flip it over and allow it to cook for another minute. Remove and drain on paper.

You can line a large bowl with paper and stand the puris up on their sides to allow better oil-drainage. Once the puris start to cool off the puff will disappear. This is normal. However, it’s best to eat the puris while hot and fresh. Also, keep in mind that you probably won’t have a 100% success rate on the puffing up – I think 80% is pretty good but just keep trying! The puris that don’t puff up are still delicious to eat!

*I made beet juice by putting one cooked beet in my blender and adding a little more than a 1/2 cup of water. Blend on high and strain.

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Cutlets Meet Vada Pav Sliders (Indian Potato Burgers)

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There is a delicious Indian treat called “Vada Pav” that is a round deep-fried potato ball served on a bun with garlic chutney. It is so good to eat with the crispy chickpea flour coating outside and the soft flavorful potatoes inside. I decided to try a  healthy twist on this dish, though I would never turn down the original! I’m not trying to improve it but rather make it a bit more healthy for everyday eating. Not that I’m suggesting that this be eaten everyday! With the addition of cooked mung beans, it’s more of a cross between the Vada Pav and a cutlet.

This is a recipe that calls for a few Indian ingredients. If you don’t have them, then come up with your own spice mix. I think a southwest version would be very good. Hmm… that’s definitely a future experiment! The traditional version of Vada Pav features garlic chutney. It gives it a delicious, spicy flavor. However, you don’t need the garlic chutney to complete this dish – sub in some spicy ketchup or other chutney or just dress it up as you would  a burger. You won’t be disappointed!

Healthy Twist on Vada Pav (Indian Potato Burgers) (Makes approx. 9 patties)

1 cup mung beans, cooked
1 potato, boiled or steamed, mashed and cooled (about 1 cup of potato)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing
a few curry leaves, chopped
1/2 cup of onions, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan) plus additional flour for coating
1/8 – 1/4 cup oil for pan frying
small round hamburger buns
1/2 cup dry garlic chutney (or to taste)

In a large bowl, mix together the mung beans and potato. In a small pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onion and allow to cook for a few minutes, stirring. Then add the garlic and ginger paste and cayenne. Allow to cook for a minute or until the garlic is cooked to your liking. Remove from heat and pour this in the mung bean mixture. Add the salt and 1/4 cup of chickpea flour and mash everything together until well combined. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.When the mixture is ready,  roll it into large rounds approx. 2″ in diameter. Set aside until all are rolled out. Place the additional chickpea flour on a plate and roll each ball in the chickpea flour, dusting the outside with the flour.

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Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a tbsp or 2 of oil. When the oil is heated, place a few of the balls in the oil, pressing down slightly on the top to flatten a little.

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Once the bottom is nicely browned, flip over each ball and cook on the other side, flattening a bit more.

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Once browned on the 2nd side, remove from the oil to a plate or paper. Repeat frying until all of the balls are cooked.

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If using the garlic chutney, spread a nice layer on the bottom bun, place the patty on the bun, top with sliced onion. Or skip the chutney and use condiments of your choice. Enjoy!

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Sid’s Everyday Pancakes – Kid in the Kitch!

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Today my son woke up early and wanted to help make the pancakes. He absolutely loves cooking and helping in the kitchen. As an eight year old, there are certain things he can’t do or that I’m nervous about him doing safely. However, he listens well, he’s calm and follows directions. That makes it easier to teach him how to cook.

We make pancakes almost everyday. But we make fast and easy pancakes. I use a mix from Trader Joe’s – it’s one of the few convenience foods that I rely on (btw, it has buttermilk in the mix so it isn’t vegan). My kids love it and I think it’s healthier than most other mixes I’ve looked at. Of course, you can make your own mix (which I aspire to, but it’s low on my list at this point)!

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Since we don’t  do eggs in our house, I use sourdough starter for leavening the pancake batter. It works great and doesn’t give much of a sour flavor when it’s used right away. If you aren’t familiar with sourdough starter and you like to bake, you should check it out! It’s awesome but kind of like having a pet. It has to be fed and nurtured. You can’t stick it in the cupboard and forget about it for a month or it will die. There are places to get the starter mix (King Arthur Flour is a great source), but I think it’s best to get it from someone you know. If you don’t have sourdough starter, you can sub a flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water).

Without further delay, here’s Sid’s blog debut…

Sid’s Everyday Pancakes (makes enough pancakes for 1 or 2 kids)

2 tbsp sourdough starter or flax egg
1 cup Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking and Pancake Mix
approx. 1/2 cup almond milk or other milk

Place the sourdough starter or flax egg in a mixing bowl. (Then feed your sourdough – here is Sid feeding it with more flour and water.)

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Add the pancake mix and stir a bit.

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Slowly add the almond milk and continue to mix and add milk until the mix is pourable but not too liquid.

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Now pour the batter by the spoonful onto a heated cast iron griddle or other skillet (action shot):

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Flip the pancakes over when they start to get bubbles on the top (great job, Sid!):

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Black Bean & Brown Basmati Burritos

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Hello! Today I opened a fridge packed with bits of leftovers from this past week. What to do with that leftover lettuce and cabbage salad? I have been eating salads almost everyday since the new year, so no salad today. With some leftover brown basmati rice and tortillas, I made up a very quick and satisfying (and healthy) lunch. I also used up the last of the leftover salad! I did save a few bites for our composting worms  – they get hungry too.

This looks like a lot of ingredients but it’s very fast to make. While the beans are heating up, you can prep the tortillas and cut up the garnishes. I don’t usually use canned beans because it’s so easy to make them from dry. Normally I get a bag of dry beans, cook the whole bag and freeze them in portions. Today I resorted to the can since I didn’t have any black beans in the freezer. For this quick bean recipe, I used prepared salsa (Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa) to give good flavor. It’s smart to keep a few things like this on hand for quick meals and for your emergency bin. I listed sour cream and cheese though I didn’t use them in my burritos and here you could obviously use a vegan option or a non-vegan option. There are a lot of great flavors going on already, so you really won’t miss the dairy or dairy-sub and the accompanying calories. FYI, in the picture you will see what looks like sour cream but it’s actually veganaise mixed with hot sauce. I thought it would be good since sometimes I use this as a dip for veggie-chicken nuggets, but it wasn’t that great. I don’t recommend it!

Black Bean & Brown Basmati Burritos (Serves 2)

For the Bean & Rice Mixture:
1 tbsp oil
1 yellow or white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 can of black beans (or 1 cup of cooked black beans)
1 cup of cooked brown basmati rice (or rice of your choice)
2 tbsp hot sauce (optional)
1/2 cup of salsa

Heat a medium sized sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the oil and after a minute add the onion and salt. Stir until the onion is translucent and cooked. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin and cayenne and stir around for a minute. Once the garlic starts cooking, add the black beans, rice, hot sauce and salsa. Stir and let heat for a few minutes. Mash the beans a little bit with the back of your spoon to get the mixture incorporated. Leave whole beans too. Once everything is heated thoroughly, remove from heat. Taste for salt and salsa and add if necessary. Set aside. Here’s a close up shot of the beans and rice (on the right side):

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Now you can start assembling the burritos:

2 large flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups of lettuce or mixed salad (I had romaine lettuce, purple cabbage and carrots)
1 ripe avocado, sliced
2 green onions, chopped
additional salsa or hot sauce to garnish
1/4 cup of sour cream mixed with 2 tbsp of hot sauce  (optional)
1/2 cup of cheese (optional)

Heat the tortillas a bit on a griddle or big frying pan. Once heated, remove to a plate. Pile on the black bean mixture, then top with your salad, avocado slices, green onions and salsa. Top with the sour cream and cheese if using. Roll up and enjoy!

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Simple Tomato Curry with Aloo Parantha

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Simple Tomato Curry with Aloo Parantha

Hello & Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Today I’m featuring one of my husband’s recipes. He has adapted it over the years, though it is probably similar to many tomato curry recipes out there. His is much simpler and is definitely my favorite! This is best made with fresh, homegrown tomatoes but can also be made with store-bought tomatoes. This just might inspire you to go and plant one or two tomato plants this summer!

We usually eat tomato curry with aloo parathas. It is equally delicious with mooli (daikon) parathas or even rice. The combination makes for a simple, home-style lunch or dinner. I’ll post the aloo paratha next week.

Notes: You may want to remove the tomato skins before cooking if you are serving this for guests or if the tomatoes have very thick skins. Tomato skins actually contain fiber and nutrients so I normally don’t remove the skins. To remove the skins: bring a pot of water to boil. Slash a shallow “X” in the bottom of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for a minute. Remove the tomatoes to cold water. Slip off the skins.

Simple Tomato Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 large ripe tomatoes (about 4 cups chopped), washed and cut into pieces (approx. 1″ x 1″)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 green chilis, finely chopped (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • pinch of sugar (optional)
Method:
  1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and cook for about 1 minute. They will start to turn darker brown.
  3. Stir in the onions and allow to cook until they start to turn translucent.
  4. Stir in the garlic and green chilis and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the onions start to turn brown at the edges.
  5. Add the tomatoes, salt and sugar (if using) and turn the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes just start to break down, but still hold their shape.
  6. Taste for salt and serve with parathas or rice.

Samosa-dillas

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Hello! Today’s post is a fusion of Indian and Mexican – samosas meet quesadillas. Definitely not for the low-carb diet, this easy and yummy recipe can be served as a meal or an appetizer. Serve with a chutney or salsa of your choice.

Today also debuts my new macro camera lens. My sweet hubby bought it for me so that I can (hopefully) take better pictures for this blog. Enjoy!

Samosa-dillas

Serves 2 – 4

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chili, chopped (or to taste, optional)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor powder (or 1 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 3 potatoes (approx. 3 cups), boiled, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 water (or more if needed)
  • 1/2 cup green peas, cooked
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 4 large flour tortillas (or 8 chapatis)
  • 2 tbsp oil or margarine for cooking the tortillas

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and allow to turn dark brown. Add the onions and, stirring occasionally, cook until they start to brown on the edges. Add the garlic and green chili and allow to cook for 1 minute. Add turmeric, salt, coriander powder, cumin powder and amchoor / lemon and allow to cook for 1 more minute. Add the potatoes to the pan with about 1/4 cup of water (or more if the mixture is very dry). Mash the potatoes slightly so that some break down and some remain in small chunks. Stir around until the water mostly evaporates. Add the green peas, cilantro and garam masala and stir well. Taste for salt and spiciness level. Set aside.

Heat a flat pan or skillet over medium heat. Oil the pan with approximately 1 tsp oil. Place one tortilla (or chapati) on the oiled surface. Spread about 1/2 – 1 cup of the potato mixture (depending on the size of your tortilla) over the tortilla and cover with another tortilla, pressing down a bit. Spread a little oil over the top of the 2nd tortilla. When the bottom starts to get crispy, flip the whole unit and allow to cook until the 2nd side is crispy. (OR for very large tortillas, use only one tortilla, oil the bottom and spread the mixture over one half of the tortilla. Fold the other half over and press down. Flip when it becomes crispy and cook the 2nd side.) Remove and keep warm until you are ready to serve.

Tandoori-Roasted Tofu Wraps

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Tandoori-Roasted Tofu Wraps

Good Morning! Yesterday was our last night with the In-Laws. Sadly they are flying back to NJ as I write. We decided to make Tandoori-Roasted Tofu Wraps and Tandoori-Roasted Quorn for the egg-eaters with roasted cauliflower, marinated red onion, fresh mint and cilantro chutney wrapped in freshly grilled chappatis. These are equally delicious made with paneer, potatoes or gluten in place of the tofu or Quorn.

Some notes:

There are three components to this recipe, so be prepared to spend a little time in the kitchen. It’s definitely worth your time though, so just plan ahead a little to make it easier.

We use a commercial tandoori masala mix to save time. It isn’t the most healthy thing to eat, but we don’t make this very often. You can make your own tandoori masala at home. There is a cookbook called Classic 1000 Indian Recipes that has tons of masala recipes. Or you can just find one on the internet…

Same goes for the cilantro chutney – it’s just such a time saver to get a commercial chutney paste to use in these situations.

Another time saver is to follow these steps:

  1. Marinate the tofu and cauliflower (if using)
  2. Make the chapati dough (if making homemade)
  3. Prepare the onion and chutney and set aside
  4. Bake the tofu / cauliflower and set aside
  5. Roll out the chappatis and cook
  6. Assemble
  7. Eat!

Tandoori-Roasted Tofu Wraps

Serves 2-4

Tofu & Cauliflower

  • 1 pkg of extra firm tofu (not silken)
  • 2 cups cauliflower (or potato is yummy), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup soy yogurt, regular yogurt or 1/2 cup almond milk or soy milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pkg Shan or other Tandoori Masala (or to taste)

Press the tofu for 1/2 hour to get as much water released as possible. In the meantime, make the marinade: Combine the Masala with the yogurt or soy milk so it is a gravy consistency. Taste for the heat level. You may want to add more masala. If it’s too hot, add more yogurt/milk. Divide into two batches. Cut the tofu into bite sized pieces and put it in one batch of the masala. Put the cauliflower in the other batch. Mix both all around to coat all sides. Allow to marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to overnight.

Heat the oven to 350F. Cover a baking sheet with foil and oil liberally. Drain the tofu mixture of any excess water. Place the tofu on the baking sheet and put in the oven for 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven and stir it around – it’s okay if the tofu breaks up a bit but try to keep it intact. Put back in the oven and after another 10 minutes check on the texture. If it’s a good texture that you like, remove from the oven. If you want it firmer put it back in for another 5-10 minutes. I like to get a little crispy texture so when it’s almost done I crank up the oven to 500F and let it get roasted on the top for just a few minutes. Just be sure you don’t overcook it!

Now repeat the above steps with the cauliflower but check on it after only 10 minutes, stir it around and see if it’s cooked well-enough for you. Remove when you like the texture and mix it in with the tofu. Set aside.

Chapatis

You can use pre-made chappatis or even flour tortillas, but it’s so much better if you can get the atta or chapati flour from an Indian/Asian grocery store and make your own.

  • 3 cups of atta flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup or more water
  • additional flour for rolling out the dough
  • 4 tbsp oil (approximately and optional)

Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of water and start kneading the mixture into a dough. Keep adding water until all the flour is incorporated and you have a nice soft dough. Knead by hand for 5 minutes, cover and let rest for at least 1/2 hour.

Heat a flat skillet or griddle on medium heat. Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll into a ball between your hands. Place on a floured surface and roll into a flat circle about 6 inches in diameter. These are about as thick as a flour tortilla, but you can make them thicker or thinner if you like. If using oil, put a few drops of oil on the skillet and immediately put the chapati on top. Put a few drops of oil on the top side of the chapati and let cook for 30 seconds. Flip the chapati and allow to cook until it starts getting little brown spots. Then flip again to finish the first side. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Keep them warm wrapped in foil or some tea towels.

Garnish

  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cilantro chutney

Place the sliced onion, mint and vinegar in a bowl and allow to marinate for at least 1/2 hour. The onions will start to wilt. When ready to use, just drain the vinegar from the bowl and set aside.

Put the chutney in a bowl and add water (if it’s thick) to make a sauce.

Assembly

Place one or two (or three) chapatis on a plate and sprinkle the tofu and cauliflower over the center (about 1/4 cup or more depending on the size of your chapatis). Spoon 1 – 2 tsp chutney over all and then your drained onion/mint mixture.

Roll the chapati up like a burrito and either eat or secure with a toothpick to keep it assembled. Enjoy!