Thursday, July 31, 2014

everyday subzi: kumaoni palak as they make it at Te Aroha

I have been loving this kumaoni palak subzi they serve at Te Aroha. I ask for this spinach stir fry almost everyday for one of my meals whenever I visit here. There is something the way onions are added to this dry stir fry and the way whole coriander seeds make a crunch in the mouth. This would be the simplest spinach stir fry with very clean flavours that can be a part of any cuisine if you ask me. I wont mind a cheese sandwich stuffed with this spinach stir fry if I am having a sandwich, though I don't remember when I had my last sandwich.

(2 servings)

spinach (chopped roughly, steamed lightly) 2 cups packed
diced onions 3/4 cup
whole coriander seeds 1 tbsp
whole dry red chillies 3-4 or more if you like
mustard oil 1 tbsp
salt to taste


Heat the oil in a pan and tip in the whole red chillies and coriander seeds and let them crackle.

Add the onions and stir fry for a minute or till the onions get translucent.

Add salt and spinach and stir fry on high heat for about 5 minutes or till the spinach looks dry.

Serve hot with meal of your choice.

I like this spinach stir fry with daal or rajma and ragi roti or multigrain roti but you can pair it just with anything you like.

Kumaoni palak will be repeated very frequently in your kitchen I am sure.

Monday, July 28, 2014

everyday subzi: bhein ki besan wali subzi | lotus stem curry in a chickpea flour gravy

Lotus stem is called Bhein or Kamal kakdi in Hindi. It is an aquatic vegetable (underwater stem of Lotus) that tastes great whatever way you cook it. I find it to be great for salads, stir fries and curries, very versatile in it's use. Lotus stem is a nourishing vegetables and helps improve hemoglobin count immensely. Abundant Vitamin C helps availability of the minerals (Iron Copper, Zinc, Magnesium), a good range of Vit B complex helps control nervous irritability and an optimum sodium-potassium ratio (1:4) makes this vegetable ideal for electrolyte balance. More nutritional information here.

This bhein ki besan wali subzi was originally shared by a facebook friend Kapil Bahl and I knew I would love it as soon I saw the recipe. I love simple recipes that cook fast and taste great, I adapted the recipe to suit my taste and ease of cooking of course.

This recipe makes a good accompaniment to roti or rice in Indian everyday meals and makes a nice side dish even in elaborate menus. I personally have loved this curry as a stand alone meal mostly. By now you must know I eat my vegetables as my meals.

(serves 2-3)

lotus stem 300 gm (peeled cleaned and sliced)
chopped onions 1/2 cup
minced garlic 2 tsp (or less if you don't like garlic much)
minced ginger 1-2 tsp or as per taste
whole dry red chillies 2-3 broken
chickpea flour (besan) 2 tbsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
everyday curry powder 2 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 1 tbsp


Boil the sliced lotus stem wit a cup of water and salt (I pressure cooked till the first whistle blew), reserve. This boiled lotus stem can be refrigerated till required, stays well for a couple of days.

Heat the oil in a kadhai and tip in the dry red chillies, add the minced garlic and chopped onions one after the other and fry till translucent. Add the powdered spices and besan and fry for a couple of minutes or till the mixture gets aromatic. Add the minced ginger and the boiled lotus stem along with the water and mix well.

Add more water to get required consistency of the curry and simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve ot wit or witout a garnish of copped dhaniya patta (coriander greens).

This curry is a light yet filling dish that can be had with a little rice added to it or as it is like I have it mostly. Bhein ki besan wali subzi tastes great even as a leftover or as a lunch box meal with roti or paratha. Arvind liked it in his lunch box and I make a little dry version of bhein ki besan wali subzi too so it can be packed into the lunch box as well.

This kind of besan wali subzi is made using boiled chickpeas, boiled green peas, boiled gatte or even leftover pakodas too. Try cooking this easy curry with any root vegetables you like and I am sure you would love it too.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Everyday subzi: Lau-er shukto or lauki ki doodhwali bengali subzi

Bottle gourd is Lauki in Hindi and it is one of my favourite vegetables. Tender bottle gourd is a delight to cook and eat in summer days and I try and include loads of this gourd for my everyday meals. Finding tender bottle gourd can be cumbersome if you don't know how to choose the tender ones, check this post if you want to know how to choose tender lauki for better tasting lauki ki subzi. Even for this lau-er shukto the tender lauki is best to use. If you are stuck with a hard and mature lauki you better make a raita.

This lau-er shukto recipe looked delicious when I first saw it on a Bengali recipe forum on facebook. So much so that I cooked it almost the next day and was so delighted by the delicate taste of this curry that I ate the entire potful all by myself. The recipe was shared by Dipta Maitra and I have made minor adjustments to suit my taste. He jokingly accused me of harassing the recipe when I suggested I might add paneer to make it a complete meal for myself. I wouldn't mind this punjabification of shukto you see.

According to the discussion about shukto on the Bengali recipe forum, shukto is a curry that includes some bitter taste like karela, bramhi leaves or methi seeds, some ginger paste added in the last and some green chillies. Never to add red chillies and turmeric powder to shukto I learned. I am not complaining.

(2 servings but it made a full meal for me)

one whole medium sized lauki (about 400 gm)
milk 250 ml
salt to taste
ghee 1 tsp
fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp
green chillies broken 2
fine ginger paste or ginger juice 1 tsp or a little bit more
roasted mustard powder 1/2 tsp (can be roasted quickly and powdered in mortar and pestle)


Peel and cube the gourd in large sized cubes.
Add the lauki cubes in a pan (kadhai) along with 1/2 cup of water and salt and cook on low flame for about 10 minutes.
Add the milk and cook on medium heat till the vegetable is cooked well.
Now heat the ghee in a ladle and tip in the fenugreek seeds in it. Let the fenugreek seeds get browned and aromatic and pour this hot mix into the cooking curry.
Next to add is the broken chillies and ginger paste. Mix well and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Finish with roasted mustard powder and serve immediately.

This subzi would tempt you to consume more vegetables in a tastier way. So go ahead and cook some lau-er shukto for yourself now. The best suitable accompaniment to this lau-er shukto is plain boiled rice.

I tried this milky lau-er shukto without the roasted mustard powder too and liked it both ways. The interesting thing is, as much as I loved this delicately flavoured milky lau-er shukto, Arvind refused to taste a milky curry as he thought he wont like it. His loss completely.

There is very mild bitterness of methi in this delicate curry and that tastes really interesting. Ginger imparts a lovely depth and roasted mustard powder was a surprise for me in this milk based curry. I actually added more milk than usual and loved the way milk incorporated the flavours of the frugal spices.

May be Arvind would also come around to some lau-er shukto next time I cook this as I am going to repeat this many times now. I even tried it with tinda (apple gourd) but it was not as good as the lauki version. I will keep making the original version of lau-er shukto for sure.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

everyday subzi: guar moongphali ki sookhi subzi | cluster beans and peanuts stir fry

Guar is Cluster beans, also called as guar phali in Hindi. The beans are a developed taste for many but those who like this vegetable, just love it. A lot depends on how you choose the beans when buying as guar can get really hard and fibrous when you pick up mature or stale beans from the market. Look out for slender beans that are tender to touch and shiny in appearance. Guar phali can cooked in many ways, you can stir fry them with chilly garlic paste to make lasuni bhujia or cook them with eggplants with loads of garlic and some hing. A dry curry of guar beans made using a sesame powder is one of our favourite too. Guar dhokli I discovered later and became a favourite too.

Now you know how much I love cluster beans. You can imagine how happy I was to find a quicker way to cook this vegetable and that too when the husband reported that he liked the subzi in his lunch box. This is a sookhi subzi that borders on the territory of a 'stir fry salad', I found it one day on Anita's facebook timeline when she was cooking it and posted a picture. I was so curious I cooked (actually tossed) this curry the very next day and loved it. She later posted this recipe on her blog as well.

I have cooked this one a few times since then, once I added a little shallow fried dry shrimp too, like in this long beans recipe with sambal belacan. But I realised I liked it with peanuts and garlic only, with varying degrees of chilly heat depending on my mood and the summer heat we are living in.

Oh yes, and the recipe involved boiling the chopped guar and mixing it with a coarse powder/paste of the roasted peanuts, garlic and red chillies. Just that.


chopped guar (tender cluster beans) 2 cups
roasted peanuts 1/2 cup (or as per taste)
garlic cloves 5-6 (or more if you like)
dry red chillies 3-4 (adjustable)
sesame oil (or any oil you like) 1 tsp
salt 1 tsp


Add the salt to a cup of water and bring to boil. Dunk the chopped guar in the boiling water and wait till they change colour, it takes about 4-5 minutes for tender guar. Keep the lid on while cooking. Drain and keep aside.

Lightly fry the garlic and chilly in hot oil. Take them out and pound them along with roasted peanuts in a mortar and pestle or in mixie jar, make sure the paste is really coarse.

Mix the paste with boiled guar and serve as desired.

We loved it mixed with plain boiled rice. Peanuts were a bit generous in my recipe so I decided that this will be our simplified balanced meal.

When the peanuts are lesser, I like to add a boiled egg to my plate.

Try this recipe at least once even if you don't like guar. I am sure it will convert you for life. Guar mugphali ki subzi is here to stay in my kitchen for sure.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

everyday subzi: aloo lobiya aur amritsari vadiyon ki subzi | a curry with yard long beans, potatoes and sun dried spiced lentil cakes

Yard long beans or field beans are also called as Chinese long beans. In India it is called as Lobiya, Barbati, Boda, Bodi etc in different languages. There are many more names in other languages you can see here. In north India it is a summer season bean along with Guar (cluster beans).

I find these beans quite easy to work with. Just snap the ends and gather a bundle together and shop them all in whatever size you want. I remember my grandmother and mom both used to snap the beans in small bits by hands, one by one while talking to each other or watching TV. It used to take a long time and somehow when I started cooking lost interest in lobiya. But then we planted some lobiya in our garden one season and a beautiful crop made me love this vegetable once again.

I remember the first time I had cooked it for a few vegetarian guests from Arvind's family and I was clueless how to cook it without onion and garlic as these were elderly people who didn't eat any onion and garlic. In such times I always thought of how the kachori walas of Banaras cooked the simple jain style subzi they served and followed my instincts, the result was always encouraging. That day too those old people praised the curry so much I almost thought it was because of the garden fresh beans. Later when I recreated the recipe even I loved it and that became my favourite way to cook lobiya. Will share that recipe sometime soon.

This alu lobiya with amritsari vadiyan is another favourite of mine. Vadiyan (plural) are sun dried spice lentil cakes that are made in the shape of small cookies. The vadiyan impart the flavours of spices and a very distinct flavour of the dehydrated lentil paste that I consider Indian Umami. It livens up any curry in my opinion and I often crave for it.

I have never tried making vadiyan of my own because it takes some time for a few days to prepare the spices and lentils and then shape them on a sheet and then sun dry them for a week or so. But I am planning to do so some time. I buy them from Rupak stores and sometimes my mum gifts me some of her home made stock. These are from Rupak and look crushed. I prefer using them crushed so it doesn;t matter if they are not whole.

Lobiya is chopped like this. I often store it in a ziplock bag for a couple of days if my maid has chopped too many vegetables for my comfort.

We don;t use any spices in any curry that uses vadiyan. The spices in the vadiyan is enough to spice up the curry and bring an unmistakable Umami flavour in the curry.


chopped lobiya 2 cups
boiled, cooled and cubed potatoes (with skin) 3/4 cup
sliced onions 1/2 cup
crushed vadiyan 2 tbsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
chopped dhaniya patta 1/4 cup
salt to taste
mustard oil or ghee 1.5 tbsp


Heat the oil in a kadhai and tip in the vadiyan. Fry till they become aromatic. My mom used to take the fried vadiyan out and proceed with the vegetables but I let them be in the kadhai as I add on the vegetables.

Add the sliced onions as soon as the vadiyan get fragrant. Fry till the onions get a bit caramelized. Add the chopped lobiya and potatoes and fry them all for about 4-5 minutes.

Add turmeric powder and mix well. Add 2 cups of water, mix well and cover the kadhai to simmer the curry for about 10 minutes. Check once, mash some of the potatoes and let it come to a desired consistency. Some people like to add a little tomato puree at this time but I prefer it without the tomatoes.

Add chopped dhaniya patta and serve hot or even at room temperature. I summers we don;t care about hot food.

The vadiyan in the curry soak the water and get softer. The curry gets a really unique flavour due to vadiyan, you have to eat it to believe it. See this pyaz vadiyon ki subzi and you would know how only the vadiyan are capable to make a curry flavourful.