Category Archives: Coconut

Daikon Radish Salad with Coconut (Koshimbir)

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Hello! This post features daikon radish that we harvested yesterday at Muir Ranch. The radish is a bit smaller than usually found in the store, but tastes so yummy. It’s funny that one is spicier than the other. When shopping for daikon, look for firm specimens that aren’t too big – stick to less than 12″. I like to see some leaves growing on the end (these can be cooked too – I’ll try to post some recipes for these later) but it’s not necessary. If you do have greens growing on the end, trim them when you get home if you won’t be using the radish in the next day or two. This will keep the radish fresh longer. This goes for beets and carrots too.

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The recipe here is based on a the Radish Koshimbir recipe from Rasachandrika, a wonderful and unique Konkani Indian cookbook. I tweaked it a bit by leaving out the typical green chilis and adding cilantro. Koshimbir is made with many other veggies such as carrots, beets and cabbage. Give it a try on a hot day, it’s refreshing!

Daikon Radish Salad with Coconut (Koshimbir)

1 medium daikon radish (about 1 cup shredded)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup coconut (fresh-frozen or desiccated)
salt to taste
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 tsp coconut oil (or other oil)
1 tsp mustard seeds

Wash and trim the tip of the radish. Peel the radish and grate into a bowl. Toss in the cilantro, coconut, salt and lemon and stir well. Set aside. Heat the coconut oil in the small pan over medium. When hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they start popping, turn off the heat and immediately pour over the salad.

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Coconut & Peanut Poha

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Have you ever been searching for something in your pantry or kitchen only to find a whole package of something else? And then realize that you really should use it soon before it expires/stales/etc.? That’s what happened today when I found a very large bag of thick poha. It was a pleasant surprise since my hubby and I both love poha. In case you don’ t know about this unusual ingredient, poha is also called “beaten rice” and “flattened rice”. It’s basically a dried flattened raw rice product that can be used raw or cooked. Poha is used in Indian snacks, breakfasts, lunches and light meals in both savory and sweet preparations. It can be added to some dosa batters to thicken the batter. It’s an ingredient that is easy to work with and keeps a long time. Pick up a package next time you are in an Asian or Indian market! A few years ago I posted a recipe for the thin variety of poha.

Here’s a simple recipe I made for lunch today that turned much better than I expected. I started looking in a few cookbooks for ideas, but didn’t really find anything that seemed new. My usual go-to recipe for thick poha uses onion and potato. That seemed too heavy for today. Therefore, I started out with a very basic recipe but tweaked it a bit by adding peanuts (for protein), cilantro for more flavor and lots of coconut. It turned out light, spicy and very tasty. I hope you try it too!

Coconut & Peanut Poha (Serves 4)

4 cups of thick poha
4 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup raw peanuts (or roasted peanuts)
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chili peppers, broken
1 green chili peppers, sliced
4 tbsp water
sprig of curry leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (not sweet!) coconut flakes
cilantro – about 1/2 cup chopped
lemon slices

The poha is a little tricky. It’s easy to make it too soft so be careful. You don’t want it too soft and soggy nor do you want it “al dente”: Place the poha in a large colander or strainer and place in the sink. Quickly wash the poha with water running, using your hand to fluff it and get each grain wet. Let the water drain immediately. Let sit for a few minutes. It should have softened without any additional water. Taste a bite to see if it’s soft enough for you. When it’s ready, place it in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat a medium-sized pan of your choice over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and raw peanuts (if using roasted peanuts, skip this step). Allow the peanuts to fry a bit until they are browned. Once done, immediately remove from the oil to a plate (leaving the oil in the pan), sprinkle with a bit of salt and allow to cool.

Now add the mustard seeds to the oil. Once popping, add the urad dal, cumin seeds, red chili peppers, green chili peppers and curry leaves. Carefully add the water and allow it to cook off. This will make the urad dal soft. When the water is evaporated, pour this seasoning over the washed poha.

Now toss in the peanuts, coconut flakes and cilantro. Add salt to taste. Stir gently but well. If the poha is a bit too wet it may stick together. If that happens, just stir as gently as possible, breaking up pieces as you do so. Can you tell that I have experience at making the poha too soft? It’s okay if it happens, it will still taste good! Serve with some yummy garlic pickle and lemon slices to squeeze over.

Spicy & Tangy Tomato Curry (Baghara Tomate)

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Spicy & Tangy Tomato Curry (Baghara Tomate)

Hello & Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Today’s recipe is another from my dear Mother-In-Law. It is a delicious coconut-based curry that is rich in flavor with a spicy bite. This would be a good entrée to serve to a small dinner party along with a mild dal, rice and a simple salad.

Baghara Tomate can be made with cherry tomatoes or any other small tomatoes such as pear. You can also substitute baby eggplants for the tomato (just add about 1/2 tsp more of the tamarind paste to the sauce. Slit the eggplants with a deep “x” on the bottom ends and cook for 15 minutes or longer until tender.) Either vegetable goes extremely well with this curry.

There are several specialty ingredients that may require you to take a trip to an Indian grocery store. If you don’t have one, try a natural foods store or other ethnic grocery. This is an easy recipe but it does have several steps. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the process. You will not be disappointed in the results!

Baghara Tomate

Serves 4

  • 24 oz. of cherry tomatoes (or other small tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut (unsweetened dried or fresh or frozen)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds (or 1 tbsp coriander seed powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp chana dal (split yellow chickpeas)
  • t tbsp peanuts, raw if possible and unseasoned
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds (raw hulled or unhulled)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2″ ginger, fresh
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 – 10 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • salt to taste
Method:
  1. Rinse the tomatoes in water. To each tomato, gently stick in toothpick or the tip of a knife. This will prevent the tomatoes from bursting while cooking. Set aside.
  2. Roast the following ingredients separately in a dry cast iron or other pan until slightly browned, setting aside until all of the ingredients are roasted: grated coconut, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal, peanuts, sesame seeds. Place all of these in the blender or grinder container.
  3. Fry the onions in the same roasting pan. Use a little oil over medium heat, adding the onions when the oil is hot. Stir and cook until they turn translucent. Add to the blender.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic to the blender. Blend everything to a smooth paste, adding a bit of water if necessary. Set aside this masala.
  5. In a large sauce pan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the blended coconut masala. Stir at once and reduce the heat to medium low.
  6. Stir in the chili powder, turmeric and tamarind paste and salt. Add enough water (if necessary) to make a thin gravy.
  7. Now add the tomatoes and stir gently. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. The gravy should thicken slightly, but you can adjust the gravy by simmering longer to make it thicker or adding water to thin it out.
  8. Serve with rice and dal. Enjoy!

Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplants

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Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Hello and Welcome to This Spicy Life! Thanks for stopping by – sorry that I have been absent for too long. I’m posting a recipe that I made almost a month ago. I was recently surfing around some other food blogs (for inspiration, ideas and fun) and noticed that a lot of people have posted similar recipes in the last month. I’m thinking that this must be the season for baby eggplants! Or maybe other people feel the same way and just can’t resist these beauties…

My version of Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplant is inspired by a few recipes by different authors. Some recipes use onion, some don’t use coconut or sesame seeds. My recipe isn’t totally new, but I think that mine has more shortcuts and a few different ingredients that combines for a nice flavor. Stuffed Eggplant is a wonderful South Indian dish that goes well with rice, a simple dal and a salad. In my picture, I served it with Rasam, Toor Dal and Kale Saag.

Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 – 12 “baby” eggplants (small, round, purple variety)
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut (unsweetened, desiccated)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne or red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds or peanuts
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 2 -4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 shakes of hing (asafoetida) (optional)
  • 6 curry leaves (optional)
Method:
  1. Heat a heavy, cast iron or other skillet over medium heat. When hot add the coconut, coriander powder, cumin powder and cayenne/chili powder. Stir together and let roast until the coconut starts to get specks of brown. Remove from the pan to a blender.
  2. Heat the sesame seeds/peanuts in the same pan until lightly toasted. Remove and put in the blender. Reserve the pan for later.
  3. Add the tamarind paste, salt and 1/4 cup of water to the blender and mix. Add more water if necessary to make a thick paste for stuffing.
  4. Wash the baby eggplants well in water. The stems will be kept intact unless they aren’t in good shape (in which case, remove the stem very close to the top of the eggplant).
  5. Cut the eggplants in quarters from the bottom toward the stem, but not all the way through – stop cutting about 1/2″ from the top or the stem. 
  6. Working quickly (so the eggplant doesn’t start to turn brown), use your fingers to stuff the eggplants on all cut sides with the stuffing. This is messy, but just get as much in there as possible and then close the four pieces back together a bit to hold the stuffing. The stuffing is really for flavoring, not to fill you up, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like it has a lot of stuffing. Fill all of the eggplants this way and set aside. Reserve any leftover stuffing. 
  7. Heat your cast iron pan or other skillet again over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of oil and the mustard seeds. Allow to start popping and then add the cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves (if using). Stir around.
  8. Immediately place the eggplants in the pan and turn the heat to medium low. Sprinkle the left over stuffing on top of the eggplants. Add a bit more oil to the pan if the eggplants are sticking.
  9. After a minute, carefully turn each eggplant so that it starts to brown on another side. Keep doing this every minute or so until all surfaces are browned (be careful not to burn).
  10. Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook for about 5 more minutes (checking after 3 minutes) until the eggplant flesh is soft and cooked through. This timing depends on the size and age of your eggplants, it could take longer if your eggplants are very large or on the older side.
  11. Serve with rice, dal and salad. 

Minty English Pea Salad

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Minty English Pea Salad

Pea Salad

Hello and welcome… my inspiration today was a bag of Trader Joe’s English Peas that I got last weekend. The weather was rainy and icky (by S. California standards) so when I spotted that bag of fresh green goodness I couldn’t pass it up!

I was searching for something revolutionary to make with my little green friends but was stumped. I kept coming across soup recipes (that looked delicious) and chutney but I didn’t want to puree the little guys. I also kept finding the combination of mint with peas. I finally decided that I would try them in one of my standard salads.

This is a quick salad that can be thrown together in minutes but looks and tastes more impressive. I usually make this salad with one or a combination of shredded cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, beets and even chick peas. This is my first time using mint in this salad but it won’t be the last. I hope you enjoy it too!

Minty English Pea Salad

Serves 3-4

  • 2 cups fresh peas, cooked al dente
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp green chili, chopped finely (or to taste, optional)
  • 1 tsp  salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup coconut, grated (optional)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 5 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Place the cooked peas in a bowl and add the shallots, chili (if using), salt, mint, lemon juice, and coconut (if using). Mix well.

In a small pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves (if using). Remove from heat when the mustard seeds start to pop. Allow to cool for 1 or 2 minutes and pour over the salad. Mix around a bit and top with the lemon zest. Serve.

My First Post – Kidney Beans

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My First Post – Kidney Beans

Hi and welcome to my food blog! This is my first post ever  though I have been thinking about it for a long time, too long perhaps! Please bear with me until I master this blogging thing, especially the technical details and the photography. Time has gotten away from me as I obsessed over what to name the blog, the perfect recipe to use to kick it off, etc. Finally I decided to just move on and post a simple, home-style dish. So without further delay, here is my first post:

Rajma Kodel is a simple to make, garlic-y, spicy, slightly sour kidney bean entrée usually eaten with rice. This is one of the first recipes that my husband got from his mom after moving to the US in 1990.  We made this often in the early years when we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on food. Now our kids love it (minus the red chilis) so we make it at least twice a month. I usually use dried beans but canned beans work beautifully in a pinch. You can also add more chilis and/or garlic depending on your mood. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Rajma Kodel

Rajma Kodel

  • 3 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (1.25 cups dried kidney beans, soaked, cooked and drained OR 2-15 oz. cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained)
  • 2 to 6 dried whole red chilis (or you can leave out altogether)*
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil (or other oil for sautéing)
  • 1 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 3/4 cup desiccated unsweetened coconut powder or flakes  (or fresh / frozen unsweetened coconut)
  • salt to taste
  • 6-12 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

Place 2 1/2 cups of the cooked kidney beans in a sauce pan with water to cover. Turn on the flame to medium-low to simmer.  Place the rest of the beans in a blender or food processor (blender works best).

In a small pan, heat the oil and add the red chilis. Fry for about 1 minute until they start to get a little crisp and browned but not burned. Put the chilis only (reserving the oil in the pan) on top of the beans in the blender/processor. Add the tamarind paste, coconut and salt to the blender. Cover with water just to the top of the beans. Blend to make a thick creamy gravy.

Pour the gravy into the pan with the simmering kidney beans and mix gently. This should be slightly thick but you may need to add a little more water. Don’t make it too watery like a soup though!

Finally, fry the sliced garlic over low heat in the reserved oil until just slightly browned and fragrant. Pour the garlic and oil over the gravy and kidney beans and mix gently. Serve over rice with a vegetable on the side. Happy eating!

*To make this kid-friendly, I first make the recipe without the fried red chilis. Split the batch between two pans, fry the red chili and blend with a little water and add it to the “adult” batch. Voila! One spicy, one not!