How to make Idlis from scratch

Idlis are soft and fluffy steamed rice cakes, made from a fermented batter. Serve them hot with a nourishing sambhar and a tangy chutney.

Idlis - with homemade Idli batter

If you’ve never heard about idlis before, you are in for an absolute treat. They are little steamed savoury rice cakes that are made from a fermented batter and are relished with a piping hot sambhar (lentil and vegetable stew) and a tangy coconut chutney.

Back when I lived it Mumbai, these idlis, like a lot of other South Indian snacks were readily available in local South Indian restaurants as well as little street food stands that dot the city. It was really easy to pop in to one of these joints for a piping hot plate of them. So needless to say, while we really enjoyed South Indian food, back then, I never even thought of making them at home. Ofcourse if you’re ever overcome with a feeling of adventure and feel the urge to try making them at home, you could buy the batter from a lot of little local shops. I did buy the batter a few times, but only ever to make Dosa – another South Indian treat that I’ll share with you very soon.

That being said, most South Indian homes, make their batter from scratch. I somehow never got around to trying that out. Until I moved to Sydney, that is. Here, you can still go visit an Indian restaurant and most of them serve up some South Indian food. Some Indian grocery stores stock the fermented batter too. The only catch is, you may have to travel a bit to get to one such restaurant or store. Also, if you do find one, it can be quite pricey. I mean, I always knew what went into the batter. There was nothing stopping me from trying it out at home. So, a few years ago, that’s exactly what we did.

Making good Idlis from scratch is a fairly simple process. It is a little lengthy, but it’s mostly hands-off time to let the batter ferment and such. There is very little hands-on time involved.

There are three basic elements that make a great Idli plate –

  1. The Idlis – Today I’m going to share with you my tried and tested process for making the batter from scratch and how I make soft and fluffy Idlis using this batter.
  2. Sambhar – A Sambhar is a lentil and vegetable stew that’s really easy to make. I’ve shared my recipe in the past. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out here – Vegetable Sambhar
  3. Tangy Coconut Chutney – This no cook recipe uses just a few ingredients and can be served alongside a variety of South Indian meals and snacks like Dosas, Vadas and so on. You can check out my go-to chutney recipe here.

The Idli batter –

Making the batter is a fairly simple process. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure you get the best results.

What type of rice can be used?

For best results, use Idli rice. Idli rice will be labelled as such and is quite easy to find in most Indian grocery stores. Idli rice is a short grain variety of rice that is par-boiled. Being par-boiled doesnt mean it will look soft or semi cooked. It will still look and feel like uncooked rice and you will find it stocked with other varieties of rice.

If you can’t find Idli rice, use another short or medium grain rice. I would not recommend Basmati rice for this.

The rice to lentil ratio –

I personally find that a 1:4 ratio works best. I’ve tried a few other variations but this gives me the best results. So for every 1 part of urad dal (hulled and split black lentils), I use 4 parts of rice.

Grinding the batter –

Ideally a wet grinder is used to grind the grains into a batter. I currently use my Vitamix blender to grind the grains and it works beautifully. You can also use any other high-speed blender.

If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you will still be able to make the batter in a regular blender. You will just need to grind it in smaller batches. I have successfully used my old Phillips blender in the past.

Fermenting the batter –

The fermentation process can be a little fickle from time to time. Also, depending on weather conditions, the time taken to ferment your batter can also differ. I’ve had to experiment with the process quite a few times to figure out what works best. These tips should give you an idea of what to expect.

The batter needs a warm environment to ferment. If it’s warm where you are, the batter can simply be left on your kitchen counter to ferment. But if it is cooler, leave the batter in a warm spot in your house.

For me, unless it’s a hot day here in Sydney, I usually place the batter in my unheated oven and leave it there to ferment for about 8 hours. During winter, I warm up my oven for a couple of minutes at 100ºC, just till the oven is at room temperature (or what a summertime room temperature would feel like), turn the oven off and leave the batter to ferment in there.

How to tell if you’re batter is fermented?

The batter will have increased in volume. This increase is fairly significant, so make sure you use a large vessel for this. You will also notice that the top layer of the batter is slightly frothy. Your batter will also have developed a slightly fermented aroma.

If you don’t notice these changes to your batter, leave it to ferment for another couple of hours or so. There are times where it has taken me upto 10-11 hours for the batter to ferment.

How to make Idlis from scratch

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: BreakfastDifficulty: Medium
Yield

3

dozen
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes
Soaking Time

3

minutes
Fermenting Time

8

hours

Idlis are soft and fluffy steamed rice cakes, made from a fermented batter. Serve them hot with a nourishing sambhar and a tangy chutney.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Idli rice

  • 3/4 cup urad dal (hulled and split black lentils)

  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds

  • Salt, to taste

Directions

  • Wash the rice, dal and fenugreek seeds with cold running water about 3-4 times or until the water runs clear.
  • Place the washed grains and fenugreek in a large bow. Add some fresh water to the bowl. Use enough water to cover the grains by about 2 inches. Leave this to soak for 3 hours.
  • After 3 hours of soaking, grind it to a batter using a little of the soaking liquid as needed. You need a thick batter, almost like the consistency of a pancake batter. You may need to do this in batches.
  • Transfer the batter to a steel stockpot or large vessel. (The vessel should be large enough to hold about double the quantity of the batter, because the batter will expand as it ferments.) Cover the vessel and set aside in a warm spot for about 8 – 10 hours to ferment. (Please refer to the section on “Fermenting the batter” in the post above.)
  • Once the batter has fermented, remove as much batter as needed for immediate use in another bowl. Store the rest of the batter in the fridge for future use. You can store the batter for about 3-4 days.
  • To make the Idlis –
  • Work with the batter that you intend to use immediately. To this batter, add a little salt to taste.
  • Grease an Idli stand with a little oil.
  • Ladle the batter into the idli moulds till they are filled about 80%. The Idlis will rise and expand during cooking.
  • Steam the Idlis for about 15 minutes on medium heat till they have cooked through. Pierce the idlis through the centre with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the idlis are ready to serve. If it is still a little sticky, cook for a couple of minutes more or till done.
  • Take the stand out of the steamer and leave to rest for a couple of minutes. Demould idlis by running the blunt edge of a butter knife around the edges to loosen it from the mould. Serve hot!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Please note, the number of Idlis will depend on the size of the mould you use.
  • Idlis are best eaten immediately after cooking, but any leftovers can be refrigerated and steamed till re-heated thoroughly and eaten the next day.

Pav Bhaji (a Vegan version)

Pav Bhaji – A quintessential Mumbai Street Food delight that is chock full of veggies and made into an indulgent treat with generous lashings of butter. Today’s recipe is a vegan version of this treat.

Pav Bhaji

Today has me longing to get back to normal. Back to the days where we could travel freely, explore, meet up with loved ones and all that good stuff. It’s probably the weather, which is cold, wet and grey here in Sydney. It’s days like this that also have me longing for some comfort food. For me, personally, comfort food changes from time to time. Sometimes, its a big bowl of soup, other times its a big bowl of steamed broccoli. I know, right! Broccoli = comfort food? At times I wonder whether thats normal. Well that’s a mystery for another day, but on more normal days, comfort food is usually Indian food and more often than not, the Street Food kind.

Today, I’m going to treat you to one of my favourites – the good ol’ Mumbai style Pav Bhaji. Never heard of it before? Well, there’s 2 components to it Pav – bread (not any bread, but a dinner roll thats split in two, buttered and lightly toasted.) and Bhaji – a mixed vegetable mash that has been cooked in butter with some beautiful, mild, but warming spices and topped off with some more butter. Usually the bread is toasted on the same pan the veggies are cooked on and it absorbs some of the flavours of the veggie mix, but today we’re keeping things simple. I’m just going to use another pan.

Pav Bhaji - Pav
Buttered and lightly toasted Bread Rolls

If you’d like to try your hand at making some delicious Laadi Pav, try this recipe out. It works like a charm. In the spirit of keeping things simple, I’m just using some store-bought bread rolls today.

The Bhaji or vegetable mix is a really versatile component. Everyone that makes a Pav Bhaji, has their own version. A lot of recipes call for a Pav Bhaji Masala. You can find this at almost any Indian grocery store, but I usually refrain from buying something like this spice mix that has just one use. And seeing how Pav Bhaji is an indulgent treat, we don’t make it very often. So after some experimenting, I figured out a combination of simple spices that works really well. The best part is that these spices are really common and if you cook Indian food, you most likely already have them in your kitchen.

So let’s get cooking.

Pav Bhaji (a Vegan version)

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

5

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Pav Bhaji – A quintessential Mumbai Street Food delight that is chock full of veggies and made into an indulgent treat with generous lashings of butter. Today’s recipe is a vegan version of this treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed

  • 1 carrot, cubed

  • 2 cups cauliflower florets

  • 1 cup green peas

  • 1 teaspoon oil

  • 3 tablespoons of butter, plus more to butter the bread

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 1/2 green capsicum, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilly powder (or any other mild variety)

  • 1 teaspoon + 1/2 tsp garam masala powder

  • 1/4 cup Passata

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

  • Fresh coriander, chopped

  • 5-10 bread rolls (This depends on the size of the bread rolls as well as portion sizes, which on an average may be 1-2 rolls per person)

  • Toppings –
  • Butter

  • Onion, finely chopped

  • Fresh coriander finely chopped

  • Some lemon / lime wedges

    The amount of each of these toppings depends on how much you’d like to add to each portion.

Directions

  • Boil the potato, carrot, cauliflower and green peas in sufficient water and a little salt (I use about 1/2 teaspoon of salt) till tender.
    (I use a stovetop pressure cooker and this typically takes me 10 minutes. This will vary depending on your pressure cooker.)
  • Heat the oil in a large pan and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Sauté the onions for a couple of minutes till they start softening.
  • Add the chopped capsicum and cook till they soften a little.
  • Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute.
  • Next, add the turmeric, freshly cracked black pepper and chilly powder and 1 teaspoon of garam masala powder. Stir well and let the spices cook off for a minute, making sure they don’t burn.
  • Add the Passata and stir through. Cook this mix for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the boiled vegetables to the pan and stir through. Add a little cooking liquid (from the boiled vegetables) about 1/4 cup. Let this cook off for about 8-10 minutes. If needed, add small amounts of the vegetable stock to get the desired consistency. You don’t want it very runny, but you are looking for a loose consistency.
    (Please see the recipe video below.)
  • Using a potato masher, mash all the vegetables to a chunky mash consistency.
  • Check for seasoning and add more salt, as needed.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala powder and stir through.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of butter and stir through. Take the pan off the heat.
  • Split the bread rolls in two and butter both sides and toast off lightly. The bread is best buttered and toasted just before serving, so toast as many as you intend serving immediately.
  • To serve, spoon out a portion of the Bhaji, top with a knob of butter, some chopped onion and fresh coriander and some lime / lemon juice. Serve hot with the buttered and toasted bread.

    Enjoy!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Cooking time will depend on how you boil your vegetables. It takes me about 10 minutes in my pressure cooker. Your pressure cooker may take longer or if you’re cooking it in a pot on the stove, it could take longer. Please consider this while calculating cooking time overall.
  • Leftover bhaji keeps well. Reserve some of the vegetable stock in a little jar and refrigerate along with the bhaji. The next day, heat the bhaji on the stovetop. If it is too thick, add a splash of the reserved vegetable stock to get the desired consistency.
  • The bread is best buttered and toasted just before serving. So toast only as many as you intend serving immediately.

How to Make Vegan Mayonnaise

A must-have condiment, this Vegan mayonnaise recipe is simple and easy, and is perfect for sandwiches, burgers and salads.

As the days start to warm up, I start craving lighter food. Here in Australia, our summers can get pretty intense and on those hot days, I don’t really feel like cooking. I’m sure a lot of you feel the same. Thats where all the salads, sandwiches and grilling comes to the rescue. You’re probably wondering what salads, sandwiches and grilling does someone on a plant-based diet do. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised to know that there’s so much that can be done. And these recipes are beautiful, flavourful and you won’t even miss the meat / dairy etc. I’m going to share a few of those recipes with you in the days to come.

Vegan Mayo

Today, I’m going to start with the basics – a good Mayonnaise recipe. Most burgers, sandwiches and even some salads call for some Mayo. And while you can purchase a jar of vegan mayo in the shops, its usually around the $7-8 mark, which I find quite pricey. After you’ve made a batch at home, you can be sure you’ll never reach for a store-bought jar again.

My vegan Mayo recipe uses just a handful of pantry staples and comes together in about 30 seconds. Yup, you heard that correctly. In the time it takes me to type this post out, I would’ve probably whipped up a dozen batches of this mayo, if not more.

I use an immersion blender to whip up my Mayo and this makes the whole process super easy. Here’s another handy tip for you – if you can find a jar with a mouth wide enough to fit your immersion blender, you can make and store your mayo in the same jar. So there’s minimal washing too. I store my Mayo in an airtight glass jar in the fridge and it easily lasts for a couple of weeks.

Why Vegan Mayo?

For those on a plant-based diet, its the only way to go. But even if you’re not strictly plant-based, some folks are allergic to eggs and a lot of folks don’t like the idea of raw eggs in the mayo.

In any case, this mayonnaise has a much longer shelf life than the kind that uses eggs. You’ll be amazed at the taste and texture. If you personally didn’t make this stuff, you wouldn’t even be able to tell that it is vegan.

I really hope you try this recipe out.

Here are a few ways in which I use this Mayo –
Vegan Black Bean Burgers
Wasabi Mayonnaise in Vegan Sushi Bowls

How to Make Vegan Mayonnaise

Recipe by Trisha VazCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Prep time

5

minutes

A must-have condiment, this Vegan mayonnaise recipe is simple and easy, and is perfect for sandwiches, burgers and salads.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Soy milk

  • 1 cup sunflower oil

  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon mustard

  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • A little salt, to taste

Directions

  • Place all the ingredients in a clean, dry jar. Use an immersion blender and place the head at the bottom of the jar. Blitz everything together and slowly and gradually lift the immersion blender to the top. As you move the blender, the oil and milk will emulsify and in seconds you’ll be left with a gorgeous batch of Mayonnaise.
  • Store in a clean, dry, airtight container in the fridge and use as needed.

Recipe Video

Kale Salad – perfect for the Holidays

A vibrant and colourful salad that’s so full of flavour, this light and refreshing Kale Salad makes a stunning addition to your Holiday menu.

In most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, the Holiday Menu consists of warm and hearty mains and sides. Not here. In Australia, we’re smack bang in the middle of summer at the moment. And while a lot of households will have a roast of some sort, a lot of the food made for the day is light and fresh. At this time of the year, the weather is beautiful and everyone wants to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with family. No one wants to spend the day slaving away in the kitchen.

And while most of the meal is usually meticulously planned, it sometimes happens that a salad in thrown together in a hurry. You don’t want to do that. A salad is light, refreshing and can be healthy, if you choose to make it that way. This Kale Salad that I’m going to share with you today ticks all those boxes.

Kale Salad

And while a lot of folks don’t often enjoy Kale in any form, let alone in a salad, wait till you see this one. There’s very little prep involved. However, with a little attention, the Kale leaves get tender and super delicious. And the dressing is light and simple but so flavourful. This is one of my all-time favourite salads.

Can this salad be made in advance?

Most of the prep for this salad can be done a day ahead, with just the final touches and assembly done on the day you intend to serve it up.

The process of de-stemming (is that even a word? Let’s pretend that it is) the Kale and tear the leaves is probably what takes the longest. And this bit can be done on the previous day. You can also make your dressing a day or two ahead. Just make sure you whisk it all together before you dress the salad.

The rest of the salad comes together in a few minutes.

So let’s take a look at the recipe now, shall we?

Kale Salad

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: SaladsCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes

A vibrant and colourful salad that’s so full of flavour, this light and refreshing Kale Salad makes a stunning addition to your Holiday menu.

Ingredients

  • For the salad –
  • 4-6 stalks of Kale

  • 1 large carrot (or 2 small carrots), grated

  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

  • For the dressing –
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, finely chopped / grated

  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup

  • 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon Hot English mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Prep the kale by tearing away the thick stalk in the middle of each leaf and tearing the leafy greens into smaller pieces. Wash and drain well. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the salad dressing till well incorporated. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.
  • Pour a tablespoon of the dressing over the prepped kale leaves and massage the leaves for 2-3 minutes. At the end of this 2-3 massage, all the leaves should appear a nice vibrant green and should be covered with all the dressing. If the leaves feel too dry while massaging, add another spoonful of the dressing and continue the process.
  • Now add all the other ingredients to the bowl. Drizzle a little more of the dressing over the salad as needed and toss well. Serve up.

Recipe Video

Vegan Jalapeno Cornbread

Speckled with little pieces of the jalapeno pepper, this easy, vegan Jalapeno Cornbread pairs perfectly with a big bowl of chilli.

In my previous post, I’d shared with you one of my all time favourite recipes for a chilli. And I’d served it up with some homemade cornbread. This post, is all about that Vegan Jalapeno Cornbread. I felt it deserved its very own post, because it’s that good.

Vegan Jalapeno Cornbread - cut

It’s a simple and easy recipe, and it comes together very quickly. It doesn’t need any time to rest or rise. Infact, I make this right when my chilli is set to simmer.

This cornbread is an absolute crowd-pleaser. Depending on the crowd, it’s really easy to dial the heat level up or down. With minimal prep required, it’s a great recipe to have on hand when entertaining too. This way you can focus on all the other elements of your meal. And let’s take a moment to talk about the taste. This cornbread turns out really delicious. No one is going to believe how easy it is to make. And you don’t need to tell them either. I’ll happily sit down and enjoy a warm piece of cornbread by itself, its that good.

Jalapeno Cornbread - Piece

I usually like to serve this Jalapeno Cornbread with a nice, hearty chilli. I’ve shared one of my favourite Chilli recipes in the past. If you haven’t seen that yet, you can check it out here – Vegan Chilli.

Vegan Jalapeno Cornbread

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: SidesCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

9

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes
Total time

30

minutes

Speckled with little pieces of the jalapeno pepper, this easy, vegan Jalapeno Cornbread is a perfect pairing to a big bowl of chilli.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flaxmeal
    *See notes.

  • 1 cup polenta

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 fresh jalapeño, chopped

  • 3/4 to 1 cup of plant based milk

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
  • In a bowl, place 1 tablespoon of flaxmeal and 3 tablespoons of water. Stir well to combine. Set aside in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. This is your flax egg.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients – polenta, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and chopped jalapeño. Stir to mix through.
  • In another bowl combine 3/4 cup of the milk and maple syrup. Stir well.
  • Add the maple – milk solution and flax egg to to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. If the mix is too dry, gradually add a little more milk and fold in with a spatula. You are looking for a cake batter like consistency. (See the recipe video for more information.)
  • Lightly grease the base and sides of an 8 inch square baking dish. Pour the cornbread mix into the baking dish and spread evenly.
  • Bake at 180ºC for 20 minutes or till a skewer pierced through the centre comes out clean.
  • Take out of the oven and leave in the baking dish to cool.
  • When it’s closer to room temperature but still warm, cut into portions and serve.

    Enjoy!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Flaxmeal – You can either buy a packet of flaxmeal from the store. I make my own by simply grinding up some flax seeds in a dry grinder and store it in a jar and use it, as needed.

Vegan Chilli – A recipe that’s easy and hearty

Made using Kidney beans and corn, this recipe for a wholesome, vegan Chilli is always a flavour-packed, crowd-pleaser.

Easy & Hearty Vegan Chilli

To me, very few things are as comforting as a big bowl of this vegan chilli on a cold, wet day. If I’m being honest, I can devour a bowlful of this any time of the year.

If you’re someone like me, who enjoys a good chilli, you really should try this recipe. For a recipe that is as simple as this one is, it is packed with flavour the recipe makes a fairly big batch. That’s always a win in my book, because that means leftovers.

Let’s talk about the beans, shall we?

I’ve made this vegan chilli quite a few times and I’ve even tried it with a bunch of different beans. Today, I’ve kept it simple and used kidney beans, but in the past I have made this with black beans and even a mix of both. Every single time, this recipe turns out delicious. There is a slight change in the overall flavour when you use a different variety of beans, but the chilli still turns out really well.

I prefer cooking my beans from scratch. I use dried beans, soak it overnight and pressure cook it the next day. But you can just as easily use the tinned variety. I find that the flavour of dry beans cooking from scratch a lot better.

How “hot” is hot?

When you look at today’s recipe, you’ll see that I’ve used a bunch of different chilly options. That being said, this still doesn’t turn out too spicy. Each chilly element lends a different type of heat to the dish and it balances the flavours really well.

Obviously, you can adjust the amount of each of them to suit your taste and make it as hot as you’d like it, or not. ?

With all those details dealt with, this recipe is a super simple one. Even if you’ve never cooked before, you’ll easily pull off this recipe. You end up with a big batch of chilli that is packed with flavour and it’s so much better than anything you can find in the stores. Go ahead! Try it.

I served up my chilli with some homemade Jalapeño cornbread (recipe coming soon), coconut yogurt, some avocado, some freshly sliced jalapeño and some fresh coriander. And to taste, I sprinkle some red chilly flakes, salt and lemon juice. These toppings take this already amazing chilli up a notch. This is the kind of stuff I love with my chilli. What sort of toppings do you like? Leave me a comment and let me know.


If you’re looking for more recipe inspiration using beans, check out these recipes –
Black Bean and Corn Tacos
Black Bean Burgers

Easy & Hearty Vegan Chilli

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Made using Kidney beans and corn, this recipe for a wholesome, vegan Chilli is always a flavour-packed, crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked Kidney beans (make sure they’re cooked till just about done)

  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1/2 green capsicum, finely chopped

  • 1 carrot, finely chopped

  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp oil

  • 1 tsp garlic paste

  • 1 tsp chilly powder (a mild variety)

  • 1/8 tsp extra hot Cayenne pepper powder

  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp cumin powder

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • 1 cup passata or 1 can diced tomatoes

  • 1 tsp Vegetable stock powder (or 1 litre of vegetable stock)

  • 1 tsp Vegemite

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1 litre hot water (leave this out, if you’re using liquid stock)

  • 1 cup corn kernels

  • Chopped coriander, to garnish

  • Toppings –
  • Coconut yogurt

  • Sliced jalapeño

  • Sliced avocado

  • Jalapeño cornbread

  • Red chilly flakes, to taste

  • Salt, to season the avocado

  • Lemon juice, to taste

  • Fresh coriander, chopped

Directions

  • Heat a large pot on medium heat. To the pot add oil and onions and sauté till the onions have just started to soften.
  • Add the chopped capsicum, carrot and celery and stir well. Let the veggies cook on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes till they sweat and start to soften.
  • Add garlic paste and stir well. Fry it off for about 30 seconds.
  • Now, add the chilly powder, cayenne pepper powder, smoked paprika, cumin powder and oregano and stir to coat all the vegetables with the spices.
  • Add the passata and let it cook off for about another minute.
  • To this, add the vegetable stock powder, Vegemite and salt. Stir well. Add 1 litre of hot water from a recently boiled kettle. Stir through.
  • Now add the cooked beans and bring this to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between.
  • Add the corn and sugar. Check for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Stir well. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or till the corn has cooked through.
  • Garnish with some chopped fresh coriander (leaves and stalks).

    Serve hot!
  • Serving suggestion –
  • Ladle some chilli into a bowl.
  • Dollop 1-2 tbsp coconut yogurt (You can also use vegan sour cream).
  • Sprinkle some red chilly flakes, to taste.
  • Top with some thinly sliced jalapeño, to taste.
  • Place some avocado slices on top.
  • Sprinkle some chopped fresh coriander.
  • Season the avocado with a little salt.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice over the avocado and the chilli.
    Serve up.

.Recipe Video

Black Bean and Corn Tacos

Black Bean and Sweet Corn kernels come together to make amazing flavor-packed tacos, using a taco-seasoning made from scratch.

Black Bean and Corn Tacos
Black Bean and Corn Tacos

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe that is so simple and easy to put together, and results in such an extremely flavorful dish, you are going to be blown away.

That was a bold statement to start off with, right? Well, that’s because it’s the truth. Everybody needs a few recipes like this in their arsenal, because let’s face it, life can get hectic and recipes like this make it easy to get dinner on the table in a hurry. I know a lot of folks do ‘Taco Tuesday’. We personally don’t, but that’s just because we enjoy Tacos whenever we feel like it.

Tacos are usually associated with meat fillings, usually chicken, beef, pork and sometimes even fish or shrimp. But this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a really good taco if you follow a plant-based diet. And today’s recipe is going to show you just that.

We’ll be making a quick black bean and corn taco mix and a chunky guacamole to fill our tacos with. For the black bean mix, I use half a cup of dried black beans. These beans are soaked overnight and then pressure cooked the next day. I have a stovetop pressure cooker that gets the job done in under ten minutes. This works out so much better than buying canned beans because there is less waste, it works out to be more economical and I feel the beans are so much tastier. Try it out, if you have a pressure cooker or an instant pot. If not, you can simply use a can of black beans.

Black bean and Corn Tacos - taco mix

My chunky guacamole is also a very basic and simple recipe. It combines the richness of the avocado with the punchy flavors of a pico de gallo or a salsa. And like me, if you just need to serve 1 or 2 people, save the half of the avocado that has the pit still in it, squeeze some lime juice all over the cut surface, pop it into an avocado saver if you have one, or simply cover it with some cling film and pop it into the fridge for the next meal or the next day. This reduces the browning of the avocado. Do you have any tips for storing half an avocado? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’d love to be able to store it without having to use any single use plastic.

Black bean and Corn Tacos - guacamole

Assembling your tacos is one of the most fun parts of this recipe. You can add whatever your heart desires to your taco. Here’s what I use to make up my tacos –

  • Hard corn taco shells
  • Black bean and corn mix
  • Chunky guacamole
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Plant based sour cream
  • Finely shredded lettuce

If you love a good taco, you simply have to try it out and I hope you love it as much as we do. This recipe makes enough of the bean mix for 12-15 tacos. If you’re serving 12-15 tacos in one sitting, double the guacamole recipe.

Black Bean and Corn Tacos

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

2

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes
Soaking time

8

hours

Black Bean and Sweet Corn kernels come together to make amazing flavor-packed tacos, using a taco-seasoning made from scratch.

Ingredients

  • For the Black Bean and Corn Taco Mix –
  • 1/2 cup dried black beans OR 1 can black beans

  • 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels

  • 1/2 onion, sliced

  • 1/2 capsicum, sliced (See note)

  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp oil

  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • A pinch of extra hot cayenne pepper powder (optional)

  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

  • 2 tbsp Chipotle Sauce

  • 1-2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves and stalks

  • For the guacamole –
  • 1/2 large avocado

  • 2 tbsp of chopped onion

  • 1/2 large tomato, diced

  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves and stalks, chopped

  • Salt, to taste

  • Lime juice, to taste

  • For the Tacos –
  • Hard corn taco shells

  • Pickled jalapenos

  • Sour cream

  • Shredded lettuce

Directions

  • To make the black bean and corn mix –
  • Wash and soak the black beans for 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain the water, rinse through and cook till beans are done. (I cooked the beans in a stovetop pressure cooker and they get ready in under 10 minutes.)
  • Heat oil in a pan and saute the onions till they’ve slightly softened.
  • Next, add the capsicum and let them saute for about a minute.
  • Add in the garlic and stir fry well till the garlic is nice and fragrant. Be careful and make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.
  • When the garlic turns fragrant add the paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper powders and the dried oregano. Stir well.
  • Add in the chipotle sauce and stir thoroughly.
  • Add the black beans (that have been previously cooked) and the corn (I use frozen corn) to the pan and stir well.
  • Let this cook off for a couple of minutes or until the beans and corn has heated through.
  • Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.
  • Once most of the liquid from the pan has been absorbed, take the pan off the heat.
  • Top it off with the chopped coriander.
  • To make the guacamole –
  • Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
  • To make the tacos –
  • Heat the taco shells according to the packet instructions.
  • Layer the black bean and corn mix, the guacamole, pickled jalapenos, sour cream and shredded lettuce and serve up.

    Enjoy!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • The 2 servings mentioned at the start of the recipe is for 2 servings of 4 tacos each (Roughly about 8 tacos). This recipe makes enough of the black bean mix for 12-15 tacos. If you are serving 12-15 tacos in one sitting, you may want to double the guacamole recipe.
  • The black bean and corn mix works really well in burritos and quesadillas too.
  • You can use 1/2 a capsicum of your choice or you can use smaller sweet peppers instead. In all you’ll need about 1/2 a large capsicums worth of peppers. You can adjust this amount to suit your liking.

Vegan Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice

This Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice is packed with vegetables. It uses all plant-based ingredients but still has all the flavors found in Thai cuisine.

Vegan Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice

A good fried rice is a must have in every aspiring home cook’s arsenal. I enjoy fried rice a lot. Sometimes, I think, maybe a little too much. But in my defense, what’s not to love about it? While I love a good Chinese style fried rice, this Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice has become a new favorite.

Its a simple meal in itself that is super versatile. You can use a lot of different vegetables, whatever you have on hand. It requires just a little advance planning in the form of cooking the rice ahead of time. Combine that with a clever use of some sauces that I always keep on hand and I can sit down to a nice, hot, home cooked meal in a jiffy.

In the past, I’ve always relied on a Chinese style fried rice. But a couple of years ago, when I tried a Spicy Thai Chilly Basil Fried Rice at a local Thai restaurant, I was smitten. All this flavor and spice – this fried rice blew my socks off. I ordered it every time we went out for Thai food. After a few such instances, I knew that I simply had to learn to make this at home and so with some experimentation, I ended up with a recipe that was really close to my favorite version.

Fast forward to December 2019. Just a few weeks before Christmas, my husband and I decided to switch to a more plant-based diet. And I’m happy to report that we’re loving every bit of this new plant based diet. The last couple of months have involved a lot of experimentation and researching substitutes to make my favorite recipes vegan-friendly. And I have finally found the ever elusive ‘mushroom oyster sauce’ that always seems to be sold out at my local Asian grocery store. Obviously, the next step was to try a vegan version of my Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice.

It took a little tweaking, but OMG, this fried rice is phenomenal. I think I may like it a little more than the original recipe. So if you like Thai food, whether or not you follow a plant based diet, you must try this recipe out. Its a simple recipe, but is so flavorful and packed with veggies, that I promise you won’t even miss the meat.

So let’s talk about the recipe. There are a few steps involved but they are all really easy to follow. The fried rice is ready in minutes and its best to have all the components prepped and ready to go.

Step 1 – Making the rice

I used some Basmati rice as that’s what I had on hand. Wash the rice out a couple of times and soak it in some water for about 30 minutes. Drain the water, rinse with some fresh water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, add the rice and cook it till is done about 80%. The rice should still have a little bite and shouldn’t be too soft. Let it cool completely.

Spicy Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice - Boil the rice

It’s best to cook the rice atleast a few hours before you need to make the fried rice. You can even make the rice the previous day. Let it cool completely and refrigerate till you need to use it.

Step 2 – The spice paste

This couldn’t be simpler. Its a combination of some Thai birdseye chillies and garlic. We like our food spicy and this recipe is no exception. If you like Thai food but want to cut down on the spice, you can use a combination of birdseye chillies and some cayenne peppers or any other milder chilly. Grind this to a coarse paste.

Spicy Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice - Chilli garlic paste

Step 3 – The sauce

This sauce makes this fried rice what it is. I have had to make a few substitutions to make this recipe vegan friendly but I believe this combination of sauces comes really close.

Simply stir together all the ingredients for the sauce – the miso paste, soy sauce, mushroom sauce, white pepper powder and sugar. Set this aside to use once we start cooking.

Step 4 – Prepping the veggies

Clean and cut all the vegetables and keep them ready. I use onions, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and broccoli.

Pick the Thai basil leaves and keep them in a separate bowl.

Prepping the Vegetables

Step 5 – Making the fried rice

This is by far the easiest part of the recipe. Now that all our prep work is done, the rest is just a matter of stir frying our ingredients in stages. Make sure you use a large wok or a large enough pan. At this stage, all the cooking is done on a high heat.

Now that you’re familiar with the process, let move on to the recipe.

Vegan Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice

Recipe by Trisha VazCuisine: ThaiDifficulty: Medium
Servings

2

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes
Soaking time

30

minutes

This Vegan Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice is packed with vegetables. It uses all plant-based ingredients but still has all the flavors found in Thai cuisine.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup basmati rice

  • 3 Thai birdseye chillies

  • 4 large cloves of garlic

  • A small handful of Thai basil leaves

  • A small wedge of lime

  • 2-3 tsp. peanut oil

  • For the sauce –
  • 1 tsp red Miso paste

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 1/2 tbsp Mushroom Oyster Sauce

  • 1/2 tsp White pepper powder

  • 1 scant tbsp raw cane sugar

  • Vegetables –
  • 1 onion

  • 1 zucchini

  • 1 carrot

  • 5 cup mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets

Directions

  • Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse with some fresh water and drain again. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt. Add the drained rice and boil till the rice is cooked about 80% of the way. Drain and rice and cool completely.

    **See Note 1.
  • Prep the spice paste. Grind the chillies and garlic to a coarse paste and set aside.
  • Make the sauce. Place all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir together till well combined.
  • Prep the vegetables. Peel and cut the onion into thick slices and separate the onion layers.

    Cut the zucchini and carrot in half lengthwise and cut into thick slices.

    Slice the mushrooms. Cut the broccoli into small florets to help it cook faster.
  • To make the fried rice –
  • Heat a large wok on high heat. Add 1 tsp peanut oil and fry the mushrooms till they develop a little color.
  • Add another spoon of oil and add the onion. Stir fry till the edges of the onion slices start caramelizing.
  • Add the broccoli and stir fry till it has cooked about half the way.
  • Add the carrots and saute.
  • Then add the zucchini and saute till the veggies cook through to your liking.

    ** See note 3.
  • When the vegetables are cooked, add the chilli garlic paste and stir through well.
  • Stir the sauce and add to the wok. Stir through to distribute well.
  • Immediately add the rice and gently stir through to coat the rice with the sauce.
  • At this stage, let the rice cook through for about 20-30 seconds or till the sauce has been absorbed by the rice and the rice has heated through well. Gently stir fry the rice while it is heating through.
  • Take off the heat and add the Thai basil leaves and stir through.
  • Serve hot with some cucumber and a wedge of lime.

    Enjoy!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • 1. Boil the rice atleast a few hours before you need to make the fried rice. You can boil the rice the previous day. Cool it completely and refrigerate till you need to make the fried rice the next day.
  • 2. You can use regular white sugar to replace the raw cane sugar. If using white sugar, reduce the amount of sugar used.
  • 3. I prefer my veggies a little on the crunchy side. You can choose to cook the vegetables a little more till they are done to your liking.

Matar Paneer – Curried Indian cottage cheese

Matar Paneer is an easy, tomato based Indian cottage cheese curry that is full of flavor and pairs well with roti, naan, steamed rice or jeera rice too.

Matar Paneer
Matar Paneer


This recipe is one of the first curries I ever learned how to make. Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is not a typical ingredient used in most Goan / Mangalorean households, but it’s one that’s widely used throughout north India. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should. It’s one of the tastiest things I have eaten. Right from the first time my mother made this curry for us, I was hooked. I think this is one of the main reasons I actually wanted to know how it was made.

To really enjoy your paneer, you need to source some good quality paneer. In India, most dairy shops have some great, fresh paneer and it’s quite easy to find. Outside India, you will have to try a couple of brands out to find something you really like. I’ve found that the brands in my local supermarkets just don’t cut it. The paneer is rubbery and chewy and is not that flavorful. Now that goes against everything that good paneer is supposed to be. So after a lot of trial, I found some great quality paneer at my local Indian grocery store. This paneer is locally made and ticks all the boxes for me, when it comes to taste and texture.

This curry is a tomato based curry. Ideally, use fresh tomatoes if they are in season. If not, you can always use some passata, canned tomatoes or tomato puree. You can serve this curry up either with some roti or naan and it even goes really well with rice. Plain steamed rice is fine, but I serve it up with a beautiful Jeera Rice that is perfect for curries like this one.

Let’s have a look at the recipe, shall we?

Matar Paneer – Curried Indian cottage cheese

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

5

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Matar Paneer is an easy, tomato based, Indian cottage cheese curry that is full of flavor and pairs well with roti, naan, steamed rice or jeera rice too.

Ingredients

  • 2 onions

  • 1-2 chillies

  • 5 cloves of garlic

  • 1/2 inch ginger

  • 2 tomatoes /

  • 1 tbsp oil + 1-2 tbsp oil to fry the potatoes and paneer

  • 1/3 tsp turmeric powder

  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

  • 1 tsp garam masala powder

  • 2 medium sized potatoes, cubed

  • 250g Paneer, cubed

  • 1/2 cup green peas

  • Salt, to taste

  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Directions

  • Grind the onion, chillies, ginger and garlic to a fine paste. Do not use any water to grind it down. Set this aside.
  • Grind the fresh tomatoes to a puree separately and set aside in another bowl. If you’re using passata, you can ignore this step.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and lightly fry the paneer pieces till they get a little golden brown. Don’t cook for too long or it will result in the paneer getting chewy. Using a slotted spoon to drain off excess oil, take the paneer out of the pan and set aside.
  • Add a little oil if needed and fry the potato cubes till they are almost done. Set aside to use later.
  • Add a little oil as needed to give yourself about 1 tbsp of oil in the pan. Add the ground onion and saute this till the onion changes color. This should take approx. 3-4 minutes and this gives the ginger and garlic a chance to cook off too.
  • Now add the tumeric, chilly powder and 1/4 tsp of garam masala powder and stir well to incorporate. Let the spices cook off for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomato puree to the pan and let this cook off for a couple of minutes or till your gravy base / masala looks nice and fried. Add a little water as required to achieve the consistency of gravy you’re looking for. I recommend adding the water in a couple of stages to make sure you have the right consistency. Bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, cover the pan, lower the heat to a simmer and cook off for about 5-7 minutes, checking the water level and stirring it through at the halfway mark.
  • Add the green peas and the fried potato cubes and let it continue to cook till the vegetables have cooked off.
  • At the very end, add the paneer and let it warm through. I usually let it cook for just a minute or two at this point.
  • Stir in the garam masala powder.
  • Take the curry off the heat and finish off with a sprinkling of the fresh, chopped coriander.
  • Serve hot.

Recipe Video

Veggie Pasta in a Tomato Sauce

Pasta is a very popular meal option at home, like I’m sure it is in a lot of homes. I love how versatile the recipes can be and how quickly pasta meals come together. This recipe is no exception. I use a mix of vegetables, usually whatever I can find in the fridge. I use Passata to make my sauce and that gets it ready in a jiffy. This recipe is ready in under 30 minutes and that includes all the prep work too. It has so much flavor, its hard to believe how simple the recipe actually is. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

 





Veggie Pasta in a Tomato Sauce 

4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1/3 – 1/2 cup capsicum, chopped (I used a mix of red and green peppers)
1/2 zucchini, thickly sliced
A handful of broccoli florets
1/3 cup corn kernels
10 olives, sliced
1 cup passata / tomato puree / canned tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Red chilly flakes, to taste
1 tsp mixed herbs (dried)
1/2 tsp oregano (dried)
1/2 tsp sugar
Pasta
Parmesan cheese, to grate over the pasta

Start by cooking the pasta according to the package instructions.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, season the water generously (I use 1.5 tsp salt) and add the pasta to the pot. Stir immediately, to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other and to the bottom of the pot.

When the pasta is cooking, heat another pan.

Add olive oil to the warm pan and add the garlic. Saute till the garlic turns fragrant.

Add the onions and cook over a medium heat till they soften a bit.

Add the peppers and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes or till they start to soften.

Add the broccoli florets and saute for another minute or so.

Now, add the zucchini and corn and stir through. Cook for another minute or two.

Season with some salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the red chilly flakes and the herbs. Stir through.

Add the passata and the stock.

Let it come to a boil and leave to simmer for 5-7 minutes or till the veggies cook through and the sauce develops good flavor.

Add the olives and the sugar and stir through. Take off the heat and set aside.

By now the pasta should be cooked. Reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce.

Place the pan on medium low heat. Add a couple of tbsp. of the reserved pasta water. Stir through and let the extra liquid cook off for another minute or so, or till your pasta reaches the desired consistency.

Grate some parmesan cheese over the pasta and serve.

Enjoy!