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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thai style butternut squash soup

Or should I say its 'Thai influenced' soup! 

Marathi version of this soup can be found here.

Farmers markets and grocery stores are flooded with variety of winter squashes. They are pretty to look at and amazingly tasty! I usually buy couple of them keep on the counter for few days as decorative pieces and then cook and eat! I enjoy making soups and fall and winter are perfect seasons to enjoy warm soup and crusty breads. My lunches and dinners are usually start with soup. Recently I had this nice Thai style butternut squash soup in office cafe and I had to recreate it. I once tried it by making my own green curry paste and then using it in the soup as I couldn't find vegan green curry paste in my neighborhood oriental market. But that was too much spice for the fresh taste of squash. So I decided to tweak the recipe and not make the paste instead use the herbs I like. Voila! It resulted in a nice creamy soup that I can keep on slurping! Recipe is quite simple -

Thai style butternut squash soup

1 Small Butternut Squash (should yield 3-4 cups of pulp)
5-6" Thick Stalk of Lemon Grass
1-2 Kaffir Lime leaves
1 tbsp Chopped Ginger
1 tsp Oil
1 cup Light Coconut Milk
Black Pepper and Salt to taste

Preparation -
Peel and remove seeds from butternut squash.
Dice it in small cubes.
Bruise lemon grass and chop in 2" long pieces.
Heat oil in a dutch oven. Add chopped squash, Kaffir lime leaves, chopped ginger and lemon grass. Saute for 5-6 minutes in medium heat until squash turns partially translucent.
Now add about a cup of water, cover and let the squash cook completely.
Remove Kaffir leaves and lemon grass and purée it using hand blender
Add some water if the purée is very thick and start boiling it on low-medium heat. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Slowly add coconut milk and mix thoroughly. Just boil it on low heat.
Enjoy with any crusty bread or croutons.

Tips - 
  • You can use any winter squash for this soup. 
  • I have used lime zest/ lime rind pieces instead of Kaffir lime leaves and that tastes good too. 
  • I liked this toned down version than Thai curry paste but you can always use that. Please check the labels before purchasing as it might not be vegan/vegetarian. 
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थाई स्टाईल बटरनट स्क्वाश सूप

थंडीच्या दिवसात सूप करून पिणे हा माझा नेहेमीचा कार्यक्रम असतो. गरम गरम सूप आणि एखादा छानसा ब्रेड असेल तर मस्त जेवण होते. वेगवेगळे विंटर स्क्वाशबाजारातसाधारण ऑक्टोबर-नोव्हेंबरमध्ये खूप दिसायला लागतात. ते आणून वेगवेगळ्या सूपमध्ये वापरले कि चव एकदम बहारदार येते. यात मला आवडणारा प्रकार म्हणणे साधारण फोडी करून वाफवून घ्यायच्या, जायफळ, काळीमिरी आणि मीठ घालून मिक्सरवर बारीक करायचे की झाले सूप तयार! अलीकडे ऑफिसच्या कॅफेमधे हा जरा वेगळा प्रकार खाल्ला आणि खुपच आवडला त्यामुळे घरात होते त्या सामानात करुन पाहिला. आता हा प्रकार माझ्याकडे नेहेमी होतो.

Thai style butternut squash soup

१ मध्यम बटरनट स्क्वाश - साले आणि बिया काढून चिरलेला
१ टीस्पून तेल
१ कप नारळाचे दूध
१ जाडसर दांडा लेमनग्रास
१ टेबलस्पून आले बारीक चिरून
१-२ काफिर लाईमची पाने
चवीप्रमाणे मीठ आणि काळी मिरी

कृती -
बटरनट स्क्वाश नीट धुवून सालकाढणीने साले काढून टाकावीत. हा तसा बराच कडक असतो त्यामुळे सांभाळून. मग त्याचे दोन तुकडे करून बिया धागे काढून टाकावेत. बटाटे चिरतो त्याप्रमाणे चिरुन घ्यावे.
लेमनग्रासचे साधारण २-२ इंचाचे तुकडे करून ते बत्त्याने किंचीत ठेचून घ्यावेत.
एका जाड बुडाच्या पातेल्यात तेल घालून त्यावर या चिरलेल्या फोडी, लेमनग्रास, आल्याचे तुकडे, काफिर लाईमची पाने सगळे घालून  साधारण ३-४ मिनीटे नीट परतावे.
त्यावर एखादा कप पाणी घालून झाकण लावून फोडी नीट शिजवाव्यात. साधारण ५-६ मिनीटात शिजतील.
त्यातले लेमन ग्रास आणि लिंबाची पाने काढून टाकावीत.
हँडब्लेंडरने किंवा साध्या ब्लेंडरने प्युरी करून घ्यावी. खुप घट्ट वाटत असेल तर थोडे पाणी घालावे.
आता बारीक गॅसवर पातेल्यात ही प्युरी उकळत असताना त्यात मीठ, काळी मिरपूड घालावी.
हळूहळू नारळाचे दूध घालत जाऊन नीट मिक्स करावे. अगदी बारीक गॅसवर एक उकळी आणावी.
गरमागरम सूप कप मधे अगर बाऊलमधे घेऊन प्यायला सुरुवात करावी.
टीपा -
  • बटरनट स्क्वाशच्या ऐवजी कोणताही तांबड्या भोपळ्याचा प्रकार वापरू शकतो.
  • काफीर लाईमची पाने नसतील तर साध्या लाईमच्या सालीचे तुकडेपण वापरता येतात. त्याचाही स्वाद चांगला लागतो.
  • आवडत असेल तर थोडी थाई करी पेस्ट वापरायला हरकत नाही. पण ही वेगन/वेजीटेरीअन आहे याची खात्री करून वापरावी.
  • मी लाईट कोकोनट मिल्क वापरते.
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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tomato Biryani

This years tomato crop started late but its going good so far. As I said in this post, I have planted more cherry tomatoes than large tomatoes. I am getting couple of tomatoes every day and that works out better unlike last year! Last year the crop was so much that I have enormous supply of tomatoes, at least 5-6 huge ones day. I love to share the goodies with my friends but with everyone's busy schedule its very difficult to meet. So last year after giving away some, I decided to chop and freeze my dark crimson/almost dark heirloom tomatoes. I simply washed and chopped large tomatoes and stored in food safe, 2 cup capacity freezer boxes. I had supply of homegrown tomatoes until about February of this year! I used it in daily cooking like pasta, daal, soupsubji, as well as tomato biryani I am sharing with you today.

I had this tomato biryani at my aunt's place in Bangalore few years ago. She had given demo of this recipe somewhere in Bangalore and wanted us to try it. I liked the flavors and I have been making it ever since. Tomatoes, mint and coconut milk gives unique flavor to this dish.

1 cup Basmati or any long grain rice
1 cup Mint Leaves (packed)
1.5 cup Tomato Purée
1-1.5 cup Water (divided use)
1 cup Frozen Peas
1 cup Potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup Cashews (Optional)
1/2 Red Onion, sliced
1/2 cup Light Coconut Milk
1 tsp Oil
Black peppers, Cloves, Bay Leaves, Cardamom - 2 each
1-2 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
1.5 tsp Biryani Masala
1 pinch Turmeric 
Salt per taste

Preparation - 
Wash and drain rice and let it sit for 30 minutes. 
Keep cubed potatoes in water. 
Heat oil in dutch oven, add black peppers, cloves, bay leaves and cardamom seeds. Let these sizzle for a minute. 
Add cashews and saute until golden brown. Now saute onion until translucent. Similarly saute potatoes and peas. 
Add salt, chili powder, biryani masala and mix well and then add mint leaves and saute for couple of minutes. 
Add drained rice and saute for another few minutes. 
Now add one cup water and all the tomato puree and mix well. Lower the heat, cover the pot and let the rice cook halfway. 
Now add coconut milk and mix it gently and let the cook thoroughly. Serve warm with any pickle.

Tips - 
  • This rice is very soft and/or sticky. The rice grains are not separate like usual biryani. 
  • You can use any other vegetables like capsicum or cauliflower. 
  • Mint and biryani masala gives it it unique flavor like biryani so my aunt calls it as tomato biryani.
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