Category Archives: potatoes

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions



Hello! It’s been a long time since my last post. I have been very busy with garden things and kid & school things. I have been tweeting a bit, in case you want to follow me there just look for thisspicylife… I usually re-tweet interesting nutrition articles, garden info and other inspiring stuff.

Yesterday I hosted a huge garden work day at our school garden as part of an Eagle Scout Project. We worked pretty much all day rebuilding raised beds and moving soil into the new beds. We had a lot of help from a local Boy Scout Troop #127 and our school parents and community volunteers. It was such a great day with beautiful weather and nice people. See the end of this post for some pics of our garden remodel.

I really worked up an appetite because today I was ready for a rather substantial (for me) breakfast. It turned into brunch by the time I got it made and ready to eat, though this is a pretty quick dish to make. We had some leftover pickled onions from the weekend, so added these to the plate along with some yummy grits seasoned with nutritional yeast. The leftovers will be made into burritos. It was the perfect addition to this non-spicy curry. If you want the onions, you should plan ahead. Or just make a batch and find ways to use them! They are a pretty pink color and delicious (if you like onions). Here is the tempeh recipe:

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions (Serves 4)

1/2 package of tempeh, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 large baking potato, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 orange bell pepper (or other color), cut in bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped kale
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
pinch of garam masala (optional)
salt to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and allow to heat a bit before adding the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to toast, add the potato pieces and a bit of salt, stirring the potatoes to coat with the oil. Cover with a lid and allow the potatoes to cook, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes are almost cooked through, sprinkle with the turmeric, coriander powder and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the tempeh, pepper, kale and garlic. Continue cooking and stir frequently until the tempeh is heated and the pepper is cooked to your liking. This should take just 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pinch of garam masala and additional salt to taste. Serve with pickled onions over grits, rice or with bread of your choice.

Pickled Onions

1 red onion
1/2 cup of vinegar (any kind you like)
1/2 cup of water
pinch of salt

Peel the onion and cut in rings. Loosen the rings and place the rings in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the onion and add the vinegar (we used white vinegar) and water. Allow to sit for an hour or up to two days before using. These can be used in sandwiches, as part of an appetizer tray with other veggies, on pizza, or just on the side of any spicy curry. The longer they pickle, the better they taste. Just keep ’em in the fridge.

Here are some pics of our garden remodel:

Rebuilding the raised beds with cinder blocks…Boy Scouts in yellow shirts. The blocks will get painted later by the students.



Some artichokes growing in the garden… can’t wait to harvest!



One of our hard-working volunteers!





Cutlets Meet Vada Pav Sliders (Indian Potato Burgers)



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.


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.


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


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


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!


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.

Korma Meets Filo Pie

Korma Meets Filo Pie

Hello and welcome to This Spicy Life… Today India meets Greece in a pie made with a crust of filo (phyllo) dough and a nice korma for the filling. It’s a perfect marriage of creamy korma and flaky filo resulting in an extremely tasty meal.

This pie is inspired by a recipe from my brother who makes a delicious Greek Spinach Pie. He lives far away so I haven’t had his version for several years. I do remember fondly that it’s stuffed with tons of veggies such as zucchini, carrot, green beans and lots of spinach.

My korma recipe is a non-traditional take on a traditional north Indian korma. The recipe I adapted comes from Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni. I changed a few of her ingredients and made it without any dairy, keeping with the pure vegetarian theme of this blog. And I used way less oil than the original recipe called for – I used about 4 tablespoons of oil/margarine while the original recipe called for 12 tablespoons (plus paneer). But then there is added oil in the crust…oh well! You can use a variety of vegetables in this recipe. Just substitute similar veggies if possible. Broccoli would be excellent as well as leeks and peas.

A note about the filo: when I started making my brother’s spinach pie recipe on my own I experimented with using less oil on the filo leaves. It doesn’t work. I tried to oil just every other leaf (resulting in too dry, fly-away layers) and only the top layers thinking the juice would sink in (it only made a soggy mess). If you are scared of using oil, try using a traditional savory pie crust or just serve the korma with naan or rice.

Korma Meets Filo Pie

Serves 6 – 8


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 stick cinnamon (or 1 tsp cinnamon powder)*
  • 12 cardamom pods, crushed and skins removed (or 2 tsp cardamom powder)
  • 20 cloves (or 2 tsp clove powder)*
  • 2 cups onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 cup potatoes, diced in 1/4″ cubes
  • 1 cup cauliflower stems, chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, diced in 1/2″ cubes or chunks
  • 2 cups cauliflower flowers, chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup spinach, fresh or frozen, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked
  • 5 tbsp ground almonds (powder or paste)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp margarine or butter (or other fat), softened
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup soy milk creamer (or other cream)
  • 1/2 pkg filo (phyllo) dough, thawed in refrigerator overnight and set out at room temperature unopened for at least 20 minutes)
  • 4 tbsp oil (approximately) for brushing the filo leaves

For the Korma:

  1. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp oil.
  2. To the hot oil, add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
  3. When the spices become fragrant (after about 30 – 60 seconds), add the onions and allow to cook until they become translucent. Stir frequently.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and green chilies and stir. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until the onions start to get brownish on the edges (but not burned!).
  5. Add 2 tsp of salt, potatoes, carrots and cauliflower stems.
  6. Cook for about 5 minutes before adding the remaining cauliflower and spinach. (*see note below)
  7. Stir in the almond powder/paste and allow to cook for about a minute.
  8. Add the chickpeas and 1 cup of water. Stir everything together, lower the heat to the medium low and cover the pot. Stir occasionally and allow to cook until the veggies are cooked through (but not mushy). Add more water as needed but never more than barely covers the veggies. (The veggies can cook with the steam created when the pot is covered.)
  9. Remove from the heat. Remove most of the liquid using a spoon and reserve.
  10. Mix the margarine/butter with the flour in a small bowl. Be sure to mix it well so that all of the flour is fully incorporated.
  11. Stir 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid into the flour mixture, then add this back to the veggie mixture.
  12. Add the cream and stir well.
  13. Add additional reserved liquid if necessary to make a very thick gravy.
  14. Taste for salt and add more if necessary.

For the assembly of the pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Oil a round deep-dish pie plate (2 inches or more in-depth) or an 8″ x 8″ square (or similar size) baking dish.
  3. Put 4 tbsp oil in a small bowl. Set aside with a pastry brush.
  4. Remove the filo dough from the packaging and place on a cookie sheet or other surface.
  5. Cut the dough in half from long end to long end. Put half of the stack of dough under a moist towel while you work with the other half.
  6. With the pastry brush and working quickly, pick up a bit of oil and spread gently on the first layer of dough. Spread all around, don’t be too stingy but don’t have pools of oil either. Be sure to get oil on the edges and corners.
  7. Place this sheet in your pie plate or baking dish.
  8. Repeat with 8 more layers of filo, alternating the layers cross-wise. It’s okay if some of them rip a little bit. The layers should hang over the side of the dish.
  9. Now add the filling – spoon 3 – 4 cups or more (depending on the size of your dish) into the center and flatten out to the edges of the dish. You most likely will have korma left over.
  10. Repeat oiling and placing layers of filo, using 6 layers for the top.
  11. Roll the overhanging dough under and gently tuck into the sides of the pie. (This is a rustic pie, so doesn’t have to be perfect!)
  12. Score some vents in the top of the pie with a knife so that steam will escape.
  13. Place in the oven for 20 – 40 minutes or until nice and lightly browned on the top. (I know that this is a wide range of time but it depends on the size of your baking dish and how full your pie is…the filling is cooked, it’s just the filo that needs to cook and get browned.)
  14. While your pie is in the oven, wrap up your leftover filo and put it back in the freezer.
  15. Allow the pie to set up for about 10 – 15 minutes before cutting and serving. BTW, it’s normal for the top of the pie to break up into little crispy goodness pieces 🙂

*While cooking the veggies in Step 6, you may want to pick out as many cloves as you can find along with the cinnamon stick (you can skip this step if you don’t mind serving with the whole spices or you can substitute ground spices for the whole spices).

Spicy Garlic Chickpea Curry

Spicy Garlic Chickpea Curry

Hello and welcome to This Spicy Life…

I am starting to get requests for recipes, and I LOVE IT! Please send me any requests and I will do my best to come up with an easy but tasty way to make whatever you are looking for (vegetarian, of course).

There have been lots of requests for a recipe for chickpea curry/chana masala. As with almost popular Indian dishes, it seems like there are as many variations to chana masala as there are chickpeas in the pot! The following is my version of a super easy, no fuss, no-exotic-ingredients recipe. It does take some time to cook, but the preparation itself is very simple. It’s a very flexible recipe too since it can be served with an Indian bread or with rice. Or as I did tonight, with potato patties (aloo tiki). My husband was very happy to see what we were having for dinner tonight since we usually only eat tikis at restaurants.

Just a few notes: Please use fresh garlic if at all possible as the taste is so much better, especially when it is a primary flavor. And don’t shy away from the amount of garlic called for unless you just don’t want a garlic flavor. The curry is cooked down and the garlic really mellows out quite a bit.

I normally would use tamarind paste but used fresh lemon juice as an experiment with great success. Feel free to substitute, however, I never use the bottled lemon juice so I’m not sure how it will compare in taste.

If you want to serve the masala with rice, add a little more water to the curry. I served this very dry (since we were eating it with the tikis) so it’s difficult to see the rich, deep red sauce that was created.

You can garnish this with all or some of the following: finely chopped raw onion or shallots, lemon wedges, chopped green chilis and fresh cilantro. I hope you enjoy!

Spicy Garlic Chickpea Curry

Serves 4

  • 2+ tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, chopped, reserve 3 tbsp for garnish
  • 6 tbsp garlic, chopped (don’t be scared!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned) or 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 – 2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste, optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste or 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups of water (approximately)
  • 3 1/2 cups chickpeas, cooked (or canned)
  • 1 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (reserve 1 tbsp for garnish)
  • 1 green chili, finely chopped (or to taste, optional for garnish)
  • 4 lemon wedges (optional for garnish)
  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a big saucepan.
  2. Add cumin and celery seeds and allow to turn dark brown.
  3. Stir in the chopped onion (minus the reserved) and cook until it starts to brown on the edges. Add a bit more oil or water if it starts to stick.
  4. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add a little bit more oil if it sticks to the pan. Don’t allow it to turn brown – keep an eye on it.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir in the cayenne pepper (if using), cumin powder, coriander powder and salt.
  7. Stir in the tamarind paste (if substituting lemon juice, skip to the next step) and about 1/2 cup water and mix to incorporate.
  8. Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the tomato mixture to cook down thoroughly. The oil should start separating from the mixture. This may take around 10 minutes.
  9. Add the drained chickpeas along with 1 cup of water. Stir and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if the curry starts to become too dry.
  10. Turn off the heat and add the garam masala, cilantro (minus the reserved unit) and lemon juice (if not using tamarind paste). Stir well. Check for salt level.
  11. Garnish: you can either garnish individual servings or top the chana masala in your serving dish with a sprinkling of the garnishes.



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!


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.