Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thai Style Chili Tofu

Thai food was something I ate first after coming to US. And I liked it for the similarities with Indian food. I tasted tofu for the first time and it was love at first site. If I remember correctly it was in the Tom Yum or one of those soups. I started buying it immediately. I used it in chapati dough, in palak tofu instead of paneer), in kababs, in soups. I even experimented with Thai curries for a little while and then stopped as I did not want to buy every little sauce and fill up my pantry. But I kept making tandoori tofu and fried rice.

We recently visited our dear friend Anil and he made his signature dish for us. I watched him make it from start to finish. It was simple and very easy to make. I think chopping takes more time that actual cooking. After coming back I experimented with it and turned out great. Here is what I did -

Chili Tofu

1 block Organic Extra Firm Tofu
1 large Red Bell Pepper
1 large Green Bell Pepper
1 large Red Onion
4-5 cloves Garlic
2 tsp Red Chili Flakes (adjust according to taste)
3-4 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Oil
1 cup Thai Basil leaves (packed)
salt per taste

Preparation -
Cut the tofu block into 1"X0.5"X0.5" sized pieces.
Remove stem and seeds of bell peppers and cut in large pieces.
Cut onion in thick slices.
Crush and chop garlic.
Now spread 1 tbsp oil in a flat thick bottom pan. Heat it and arrange cut tofu in a single layer. Let one side cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Carefully turn over and cook the other side.
Remove tofu to a plate and set aside.
Heat remaining oil and add choped garlic. Let it sizzle. Then add sliced onion saute it on high heat until the onion is translucent while stirring constantly.
Add cut bell peppers and fry them for few minutes. Now add tofu and lower the heat and add chili pepper flakes and soy sauce. Tore the basil leaves and add it to the pan too.
Now mix it well and saute for 3-4 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.
Serve warm with steamed rice.

Tips -
  • All the vegetables should be crunchy and partially cooked
  • You can use thick soy sauce and chili paste if you wish.
  • You can also use Thai peanut sauce as my friend did. I did not put any.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cauliflower with Green Curry

I am not big fan of making cauliflower, cabbage, green beans over and over. I either avoid buying these or if I ever buy, I try to find new recipe every time. I feel there are so many other good vegetables available in farmers market that I can live without these grocery store finds. Recently a huge cauliflower ended up in my fridge(and please don't ask how!!). It sat there for almost 2 weeks while I secretly hoped the significant other will make his favorite sabji and be done with it. But that did not happen and I had to take a decision about the big blob! So finally on Sunday I decided to make something out of any book that will have some different recipe. First book I checked was My Bombay Kitchen and looked through index. Niloufer has nice recipe of green curry cauliflower that caught my attention and decided to give it a try. The original recipe is for meat and she has suggested other variations and using mixed vegetables was one of the variation and I decided to use use only one (for obvious reasons!). The recipe calls for coconut milk and cashew paste but I did not have any coconut milk so decided to omit and proceed. The end result was amazing even without the coconut milk. It is such a keeper recipe ...

Cauliflower Florets

(Adapted from Niloufer Ichaporia King's My Bombay Kitchen)
Masala -
1.5 cup Cilantro (packed)
3 Green Chilies (adjust according to taste)
2 Cloves Garlic
Small piece of Ginger
8-10 Cashews
1/2 tsp Turmeric

Other ingredients -
1 Large Cauliflower (1-2 lbs)
1 Large Onion
1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
3 cloves
7-8 Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Oil
Salt per taste
2 tbsp frozen/freshly grated coconut
1/2 lime (optional)

Preparation -
Cut cauliflower into large florets. Rub the ginger garlic paste to the florets and set it aside.
Grind all the masala ingredients to fine paste using very little water.
Thinly slice the onion.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot or a dutch oven. Add curry leaves and cloves and let them sizzle for a moment.
Add sliced onion and saute until translucent. Now add cauliflower florets and saute for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
Now add green masala and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Make sure the masala doesn't burn or else use tiny bit of water.
Now add salt and enough water to cook and cover.
Let it boil until the cauliflower is cooked enough. Add coconut, mix and boil for another minute. Serve warm with quinoa, rice, chapati or like me with dosa.

Tips -
  • She has added couple of potatoes to the mix which I avoided.
  • I am sure the original recipe with coconut milk tastes great. She uses it to cook the cauliflower.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Panchamrut - The Spicier Type

Like everyone else, I have wonderful memories from school days. Our school timings were 12 noon to 5.30pm. Almost every girl in my class including me used have lunch before heading off to school. Still we friends used get lunchbox to eat in the recess. School had a rule to get only Roti-sabji and nothing else so everyone had chapati or jowar roti with some kind of sabji to go with it. My mom would always pack jowar roti with dab of home made butter and any sabji. We would share at least one bite of whatever we have with others around and eat rest. In one such recess, I tasted panchamrut from a friend's lunchbox and promptly told my mom about the sweet-tangy-spicy taste. Until then the panchamrut I knew was the one prepared for pooja using milk, yogurt, ghee, sugar and honey. But of course mom knew how to make the spicier version and told me that she will make it on Sunday. Why Sunday? She used to have more time to cook something different and that was the day we would get fresh vegetables including nice green chilies. I waited eagerly to help her to make this. And to my surprise the preparation took very little time and within 20-25 minutes it was ready. She made it every time I remembered the taste. Few months ago I read panchamrut recipe somewhere and it reminded the wonderful times in school and the time I helped my mom to make it.

I was buying chilies from a vendor in farmers market and asked him how spicy are these? Answer was not too spicy. Another guy asked same question to the same vendor while I was putting my chilies in the bag. His answer was - Very very spicy! You can try if you wish. My brother was on phone with me and heard the whole conversation and started laughing. He asked me what I was planning to make with the 'not so hot' chilies. I told him may be I will make khardha/thecha. But when I reached home, I changed my mind and decided to make this wonderful concoction. I hope you like it too!

(Recipe is adapted from Kamalabai Ogle's Ruchira)
10-15 Green Chilies (less spicier version)
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup Jaggery
1/4 cup Peanuts
1/4 cup Dry coconut (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup Tamarind
2 tbsp Goda Masala/KaLa masala
Salt per taste
1 tbsp Oil, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, few curry leaves
Water as needed

Preparation -
Dry roast sesame seeds and peanuts.
Grind the sesame seeds after it cools down.
Soak tamarind in warm water for at least 20-25 minutes and squeeze the pulp.
Wash the chilies and chop them in big pieces removing the stems.
Heat oil in the heavy bottom pan. Make tempering as usual and add chopped chilies.
Saute chilies for couple of minutes.
Add tamarind pulp, little bit water, salt, goda msala, jaggery, sesame powder, peanuts and coconut pieces.
Boil it for 10-15 minutes. Adjust salt/jaggery per your taste. It is served at room temperature as a side dish like pickle or chutney. It is neither very thick or nor very watery.

Tips -
  • Original recipe calls for peanut powder but I used whole peanuts.
  • Please avoid using spicy thai chilies. This is not a very spicy side dish.
  • You can try making it with just 2-3 chilies before trying out a large batch.
  • It stays good in fridge for 8-10 days that is if you have any left by then ;)

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Farmers Market Finds

Sunday mornings in summer are dedicated to farmers market. Due to large Indian and Asian population we get lots of different vegetables. I have started writing a series on Maayboli on these vegetables to document simple day today recipes that my mom used to make. All of these are in Marathi and not sure when they will be converted to English. If you like any of the preparation and want the English translation, please let me know and I will try my best to get that for you.

I will keep updating this page as write more recipes in the series.

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महाराष्ट्रात खूप प्रकारची वाळवणे करण्याच्या पद्धती आहेत. त्यामागचा मुख्य उद्देश पदार्थ टिकवून गरजेवेळी वापरणे. यात सगळ्याप्रकाराचे पापड, कु...