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
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.
After a lot of searching, high and low, I found a recipe, that I tweaked to try and replicate the flavors I so vividly remember. Since I cook for just my husband and I, this recipe is scaled down. I also just use my favorite veggies from that day – okra (bhindi) and potatoes (aloo). I found that these are also some of the easy ones to work with. I don’t make this recipe very often, because the veggies start off by getting deep fried and are then tossed with a spice mix (tava masala), and the deep frying tips this to the slightly indulgent side.
The spice mix, or my version of the tava masala is hot a very hot mix. The spices used are warm and flavorful. The chaat masala is an integral part of this recipe. If you haven’t tried it before, it is a blend of a few spices like cumin, pepper and a few others with some powdered mango. So it has a unique flavor profile, you get a slight hit of salt, tang from the mango and delicious flavor from the blend of other spices. You can easily find this at any Indian grocery store. (This chaat masala also works well with other chaat recipes you find on my blog.)
So try this easy stir fry recipe. This is best enjoyed served hot with some chapatis, rotis, naan or other flatbread of your choice. It would also work well as a side dish to some hearty Dal & Rice.
Tava Style Aloo Bhindi
3 medium potatoes
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 – 1 tsp Kashmiri chilly powder (or any other mild chilly powder)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp chaat masala
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp oil, plus oil for deep frying
Place a pan with the oil for deep frying on medium high heat.
Wash and peel the potatoes and cut into evenly sized fries / chips.
Wash the okra and pat dry. Chop the stalks off the okra and discard. Try and use okra that is similar in size, if not, cut them down to about the same size as the potato pieces.
By now, the oil should be hot. Carefully, and in batches, add the potatoes to the oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the oil will froth over and spill.
Deep fry the potatoes on medium heat till they’ve cooked through. Drain using a slotted spoon and set aside on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil.
Deep fry the okra on medium heat till they have start getting a little darker in color and have started crisping up.
Drain using a slotted spoon and set aside on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil, like you did the potatoes.
Take the oil for deep frying off the heat.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan on medium heat. When the oil is warm, NOT hot, add in the turmeric powder first and then add the rest of the spice powders.
Stir that through for about 20-30 seconds or till the spices get aromatic.
Add the okra to the pan and toss well. Lastly add the potatoes and toss to coat the veggies with the spices evenly.
Check for seasoning and add salt, to taste. Toss well.
You can watch the video recipe here –
In my house, we love veggies. Whether it is steamed, in a curry, stir fried or straight up in a salad, we love it all. We are trying to include more veggies in diet as much as we can, because it is healthier for you. And when you eat what’s in season, it tends to be a lot easier on the pocket too. I try to eat local produce as much as I can and always go for what’s in season.
When I came across a recipe for a vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, I knew I had to try it. It calls for a bunch of veggies, which most of us usually have on hand, and lentils. We eat a lot of lentils, pulses, legumes, so I knew this would be an interesting way to switch things up. There are a few processes involved in the recipe, but they are all really simple and I loved that there were leftovers.
This Veggie Shepherd’s Pie is chock full of veggies and lentils and is the perfect meal for a cold, wet day. And my secret ingredient is a little Vegemite. This adds amazing depth of flavour and that umami quality that most recipes reach for. The veggies and lentils are full of flavor and are topped with mashed potatoes.And who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
1 cup cooked lentils
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery
Handful of button mushrooms, sliced
Salt, to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp vegemite
1 tbsp flour
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
6-8 potatoes, depending on size (You need enough to make about 4 cups worth of mashed potatoes)
A small splash of milk, if needed
A knob of butter (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions and garlic and saute till the onions have softened.
While the onions are cooking, dice the carrots and celery to ‘more or less’ resemble the size of the peas and lentils.
Once the onions have softened, add the diced carrots and celery to the pan and cook till the celery has started to soften.
Now add the sliced mushrooms, salt, thyme, mixed herbs, smoked paprika and pepper to the pan. Stir well to let the spices incorporate. Continue cooking till the mushrooms have fully softened.
Add the vegemite, tomato paste and the flour to the pot. Stir and continue to cook the veggies till they’re coated and the pasty mix starts to coat the bottom of the pan. This should take about 2 minutes.
Add the vegetable broth to the pan. Stir to dissolve the flour and tomato paste that has coated the bottom of the pan.
Bring the broth to a simmer. It will have started thickening. Add in the cooked lentils and peas and let them all heat through.
Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed, stir through and take the pot of the heat.
Preheat your oven to 200ºC.
Wash and peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes to cut down on cooking time.
Boil them in salted water till tender. Drain and mash the potatoes with the milk and butter (if you are using) till no lumps are left. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
Add the vegetables to a large casserole dish (I used my 9 inch ceramic pie dish). Top with the mashed potatoes. It is easier to handle the mashed potato when it is still warm. I used the back of a spoon to flatten the mashed potatoes. You can choose to use a fork or a spoon to create a decorative pattern if you’d like.
Bake for around 15 minutes till everything has heated through. If you want the mashed potatoes to brown some more, place it closer to the top heating element of your oven, or turn your broiler on (if your oven has that function) and bake for a few more minutes. Watch closely and when it has browned to your liking, take it out of the oven.
Sprinkle some more freshly cracked black pepper over the top and serve hot.
Enjoy your veggies!!!
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Here, on The Aspiring Home Cook, I love to make things from scratch. I have tried a made from scratch version of Sambhar too, and it was okay, but didn’t turn out like my Mother’s did. So for this one, I’m following her recipe and since she’s uses a store bought blend called a Sambhar Masala, I did just that. This Sambhar Masala is a delicately balanced blend of spices and gives a beautifully complex depth of flavor to the dish. Now, I always have a box of this masala in the pantry. I’ve used a couple of brands in the past like Everest and MDH, both of which you should be able to find at your local Indian grocery store, and they are both good. This time around, I’ve used the Everest Sambhar Masala.
Moving on to the vegetables. I use a mix of all sorts of veggies. This time around, I used some sweet potato, carrots, eggplants (I grew these ones in my own backyard, so I’m thrilled about them), okra / lady fingers and drumsticks. You can also use bottle gourd (white pumpkin), pumpkin and potato if you like. Use what you have on hand. Typically a sambhar always has drumsticks, eggplant and some bottle gourd. For those of you who aren’t familiar with drumsticks, its the fruit of the moringa plant and supposed to be very good for you. They come in long canes ranging from 1 to 2 feet in length. They are chopped into smaller pieces, about 2 inches long and you don’t eat the outer hard skin. Your after the pulp on the inside and the seeds. It is eaten much like how you would scrape the icing from the inside of an oreo cookie with your teeth.
This sambhar can be served up with some plain, boiled rice and a side of papad (poppadums) and Indian pickles of your choice. This sambhar pairs very well with idlis or dosas. I also enjoy a bowl of this stew with some crusty bread.
If you want to see this being made, check out the video version of the recipe here –
1 cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
1/2 sweet potato
A handful of okra
2-3 small eggplants
A couple of drumsticks (A handful of frozen pieces)
8-10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
3 dried Kashmiri chillies
1 tbsp Sambhar masala
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilly powder, or any mild red chilly powder
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Tamarind, the size of a small walnut
Cooking the lentils –
Wash through the toor dal with cold water and drain. Do this 2-3 times.
Cover the dal with fresh water till the dal is fully submerged and set aside to soak for about 10 minutes.
While the dal is soaking, chop up the vegetables you are using into similar sized cubes.
Drain the dal, and rinse through with fresh water and drain again. Pressure cook the dal with 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt. Cook till tender, almost mushy. It takes about 5 minutes in my WMF pressure cooker. Follow your manufacturers instructions to get you the best results. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simply boil it in a pot with plenty of water till it is well cooked.
Once the pressure dies down, open the pressure cooker.
Cooking the vegetables –
While the dal is cooking, place the chopped vegetables in a large pot, top off with water from a recently boiled kettle and 1/2 tsp salt. Boil the veggies till they’re almost done. Don’t over cook the vegetables, because they will continue to cook in the sambhar. When the veggies are ready, drain them and set them aside. Reserve the water the vegetables were boiled in.
To make the sambhar –
Soak the tamarind in a small bowl with about 1/8 cup of warm water. Set aside till later.
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in large pot on medium heat.
When the oil is hot, carefully tip in the mustard seeds. When they start to sputter, add the curry leaves and the Kashmiri chillies.
When they have warmed through and released their flavors and aromas into the oil, lower the heat and add the cooked lentils and the water it was cooked in. Stir through.
Now add the sambhar masala and red chilly powder and stir through.
Add 1/2 – 1 cup of the vegetable stock to loosen the lentil curry as needed. You can add as much or as little of the stock as you need, depending on the consistency you’d like the sambhar to be. Keep in mind, the sambhar tends to thicken a little as it cooks.
Bring this back to a boil and add the cooked vegetables.
Once everything has heated through, check for seasoning and add more salt, if needed.
Now, mash the tamarind with your fingers in the water it was soaking in to extract the pulp. Pass this through a sieve into the pot of sambhar. Add this tamarind extract to taste.
Let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
Today’s post takes me back about 16 years. Back to when I first started working (gosh I feel old now). Back then, our meals were taken care off by the work place. And for me that was novelty because growing up we almost never ate out. My mum would cook up every meal and snack for us at home and as kids we were content with that. But eating in the office cafeteria was interesting. Here, I was introduced to such a variety of food from different parts of the country (India). But I wasn’t too keen on cooking then. During those days I only enjoyed making our traditional Goan sweets (Kuswar) for Christmas and other Goan sweets that my Nana would whip up for us for afternoon tea or an after school snack.
One of the dishes I encountered in the office cafeteria, that eventually became a favorite, was Methi Malai Matar (meaning Grean Peas in a Creamy fenugreek gravy.) It has strong Indian flavors but is mildly spiced. After moving to Sydney, I began craving some of this stuff. And it was only then I decided I was going to have to learn to make this dish myself, much like I had to learn so many other Indian recipes that I wanted to enjoy. Now the challenge was finding fresh Fenugreek leaves. The only place I’ve found fresh leaves is at one vendor at the Paddy’s Market in Flemington. But that’s a long drive from us. So I thought I’d try and find a recipe that used dried leaves (known as Kasoori Methi) which is easily available at any Indian grocery store. And let me tell you, I found one. I couldn’t believe how easy this little curry is to put together. With just a handful of ingredients, in less than half an hour you can be sitting down to a warm bowl of Methi Malai Matar for dinner. This goes really well with roti / chapatis, but you can also enjoy this with some bread or plain rice.
Methi Malai Matar
1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen will both work, if using frozen let it thaw before using)
3 tbsp Kasoori Methi
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 green chilly, finely chopped (optional)
1 cup milk
8 cashew nuts
2-3 tbsp cream
1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Soak the cashewnuts in a couple of tablespoons of milk for about 15 minutes.
Grind this to a smooth paste and keep aside.
In a pot / saucepan heat the oil on medium heat.
Add the cumin seeds to the oil.
When the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add the ginger garlic paste and green chillies and saute for a minute.
Now, add the chopped onions and saute till they’ve slightly browned.
Add the cashew paste and fry it for a couple of minutes, stirring to avoid burning.
Now add the turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilly powder and the garam masala powder. Add salt to taste and stir well.
Now add the rest of the milk and stir.
Let it come to a boil and then simmer for about 2-3 minutes and the gravy will start thickening.
Add the cream and stir in.
Now add the green peas. Let the peas heat through and let the gravy come to a boil again.
Now add the kasoori methi and stir.
If the gravy is too thick at this stage, add a little water to achieve desired consistency. Just make sure the gravy comes to a boil after the water is added and simmer for a couple of minutes.
If the gravy is not thick enough, let it continue cooking, stirring occasionally, till it thickens to your liking.
Serve hot with rotis / chapatis.
If you need some Pakora / Bhajiya inspiration to serve alongside this kadhi and rice, here you go –
Potato and Onion Bhajias
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
Black Chana Fugad / Black Chana Sukkhe
Soak the dried chickpeas in water overnight (or about 8 hours). Make sure the water is about 2 inches over the chickpeas and use a large bowl because the chickpeas will expand in size.
Drain the water and rinse the chickpeas fresh water and drain again.
Place the chickpeas in the pressure cooker with the water level about 1 inch over the chickpeas. Add 1 tsp of salt and 2 whole dried red chillies (preferable Kashmiri chillies) and pressure cook till tender.
**Every pressure cooker is different so I can’t give you an accurate amount of time it will need to cook. I use a WMF pressure cooker and when the pressure builds to the gentle cooking pressure point, I turn it down to a simmer and leave it to cook for about 4 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, just cook the chickpeas in ample amount of salted water till tender. Use your manufacturers instructions to gauge how long to pressure cook the chickpeas.
Release the pressure and after the pressure has completely died down, carefully open the cooker.
Drain the chickpeas and reserve about a cup of the stock.
To make the fugad –
Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat.
Add the mustard seeds and let them sputter.
Now add the curry leaves and crushed garlic cloves. (You just want the cloves bruised and popped open, you do not want to mince it or make a paste.)
Now add the onion and saute till soft and translucent.
Add the chilly, coriander, cumin, black pepper and turmeric powders and stir well.
Now add the chopped tomato and stir well. Cook this till the tomato has softened a little.
Add the drained chickpeas and stir well.
Add the tamarind paste gradually and to taste. (You may or may not need all of it, depending on the tartness of the tomato you have used.)
Add a couple of tablespoons of the stock and let it all cook down for a minute or so.
Check for salt and add more, if needed.
Add the grated coconut and stir well. If you want more gravy you could add a little more stock.
We usually have this dish on the dry side, so we let the stock cook down completely.
Once the coconut has cooked for a couple of minutes, take off the heat and serve hot.
This dish goes beautifully with chapatis or rotis.