Tava Style Aloo Bhindi – Indian Potato and Okra Stir Fry

This recipe takes me way back to when I’d first enjoyed some Tava vegetables. It was at a party that had a huge buffet offering, both non-vegetarian and vegetarian. While the non-vegetarian spread was really impressive, I was intrigued by a live stall happening over on the veggie side of the table. There was a massive tava (cast iron griddle) and it had a variety of vegetables on it. The aroma was deliciously intoxicating and I knew I had to try some. I helped myself to a small assortment, some salads and took some naan bread to go along with it. Little did I know that this dish would have me hooked for a long time to come. This was about 7 years ago, I think. To this day, the thought of those tava vegetables has me yearning for some.

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
20-25 okra
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.

Serve hot.

You can watch the video recipe here –

Goan Okra Stir Fry – Bhende Solantule

Today, I have sort of a confession to make. Okra or Ladyfingers or Bhindi / Bhende (in Hindi / Konkani) whatever name you know it by, happens to be one of my favorite vegetables. There, I’ve said it out loud. Sadly, this intriguing vegetable has a bad reputation. It is infamous for being slimy and tasteless. I am going to try and persuade you otherwise. Yes, okra tends to  when raw. Because of that a lot of folks simply won’t work with it. I’ve had the opportunity to try this vegetable in many different forms. If you’ve been here a few times, you know my Mum is a great cook. She would use these is vegetable curries and lentils stews (sambhar), stuff them with rechaad masala and fry them and make a stir fry (bhaji) two different ways. Since then I’ve tried atleast 3 more ways to cook them, like this Kurkuri Ajwaini Bhindi. That’s how much I love okra. And I’m here to tell you that if it is cooked well, it isn’t slimy at all. And it is tastes amazingly delicious. 

In Goan homes, this is a very popular way to cook okra. Just a few simple ingredients go into the pot and result in a beautiful stir fry. Serve this vegetable hot with some chapatis or even as a side dish to some fish curry and rice for a complete Goan meal. 
Goan Okra Stir Fry / Bhende Solantule

250gms okra
1 medium onion, diced
2 birdseye chillies, slit
5 pieces of Kokum
1/4 cup grated coconut
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Wash and dry the okra. Cut off and discard the heads. Cut the okra into slices.
Heat the oil in a pan.
Add the chillies to the pan and saute it for a few seconds.
Now add the chopped onions and stir fry till the onion softens and the edges of the pieces of onion start turning brown. Now add the okra and kokum to the pan and saute for a couple of minutes, stirring every now and then to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan or burn.
Add salt to taste and stir and continue to cook uncovered till the edges of the okra slices start turning a light brown. 
At this stage add a touch of water (a couple of tablespoons) to help the vegetable cook. Lower the flame, cover the pan and simmer for a few minutes. 
Stir the contents of the pan and check for seasoning and and when the okra is tender, add the coconut and stir through. (When you first uncover the pan, if the okra hasn’t cooked through and the liquid has been absorbed, add another small splash of water and continue to cook till the okra is tender).
Cook for another minute or till the coconut has warmed through.
Serve hot.

Lemon, Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Quinoa Salad

We’re in for another scorching week ahead. I think the hot days are my least favorite things about summer. I love the beach days, all the frozen treats and grilling, the amazing fruit and veg that summer brings, but I cannot deal with the heat. And we seem to get a fair bit of it. One of the main reasons is I cannot cook or bake as much as I’d like to when its this hot.

It is especially at times like this that I love big salads. While I’m quite happy to put together a tossed garden salad a few times a week, I think I need to add a few new salads to my repertoire. We’re trying to cut down our meat intake and substitute it with as much vegetarian food as possible. So salads like this Lemon, Sun-dried Tomato & Almond Quinoa Salad are perfect. Its all vegetarian yet hearty, involves minimal cooking and so very tasty. And its not just my opinion, my husband had a second helping of this salad for dinner.

I have tried cooking with quinoa before, but it was a total fail. So I was very skeptical about trying it out again. But I decided that trying something once and never trying it again, wasn’t giving it a fair chance. So on my last trip to Costco, I just picked up a bag of quinoa. Now that I have this great big bag of quinoa, I was going to have to use it. So recently when I was looking for a salad recipe with Italian influences to pair up with my eggplant patties, I decided to look for one with quinoa in it. And when I stumbled upon this recipe, it sounded perfect. There was just one problem. I didn’t have any parsley at home. So I just used the next best thing, coriander leaves. Personally I love the flavor that coriander leaves add to any dish and I thought it worked very well with this salad. But I also know there are folks out there that cant stand it. If you are one of them, feel free to use parsley instead. I can’t wait to try it out with parsley the next time. I’m very happy to have another wonderful salad to include in my meal rotation now.

Lemon, Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Quinoa Salad
Adapted from: Averie Cooks

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cups of water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly cracked lack pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced (I used the ones bottled in oil and drained them before slicing)
2 tbsp coriander leaves and stems, finely chopped
1/2 cup roughly sliced almonds
1 tsp red chilly flakes (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.

Add the onions and cook till the onions have softened and have just started browning.

Add the quinoa and stir. Let it toast for about 30 seconds.

Now add the water, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking, chop up the rest of the ingredients.

Place the quinoa in a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.

Taste and add more salt or pepper or lime if needed. If, at this stage, you find the salad too sour, add a tiny bit of sugar to balance it out. I just stuck with the quantities listed above and I didn’t need to add anything at this stage.

It stores well in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. This can be served either as a warm or cold salad.

Serve up this salad either as an accompaniment at a meal or a slightly larger portion as a meal in itself.

Enjoy!!!


Homemade Seasoned Taco Meat

With the Holiday season done, I know a lot of us are trying to get back to regular eating habits. We’re trying to eat a little healthier after all the Holiday indulgences. We’ve also had a family wedding in early January, so for us the indulgences have been a little more that usual this time around. Now that I’m back and mostly unpacked and back to business as usual, the focus is on healthier food.

I love trying out new recipes and cuisines. Now I know Mexican food is hardly a new cuisine, but for me, this was a new recipe. My ground beef recipe is a little more involved than this one. I love the simplicity of it. The method was a little different than what I was used to, but by the time this taco meat was ready, it looked and smelt great and tasted fantastic. I can guarantee this tastes so much better than any packaged taco meat that you buy from the store. And you know exactly what has gone into the pot.

You could, as the name suggests, use this in tacos, but since we are trying to eat healthier, we enjoyed this with some iceberg lettuce and a bean salad on the side. Who said healthy eating had to be boring or tasteless. This was healthy and delicious and is going to make quite a few appearances on our dinner table. I do hope you try it out too.

Homemade Seasoned Taco Meat
Recipe from: Premeditated Leftovers


1/2 kg lean ground beef
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup water
2 green onions, sliced

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.

Add the ground beef to the pan and cook the meat till it is browned and no longer pink. This should take about 4-5 minutes.

Now add the onions and tomatoes and cook for about 2-3 minutes or till the onions have started to soften.

Add the rest of the ingredients except the water and the green onions. Stir everything together and saute for a couple of minutes. By now all the spices should have started doing their job and should be fragrant.

Now add the water and bring the pot to a simmer.

Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

Now uncover the pot and cook the meat uncovered till almost all the liquid has evaporated.

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the green onions.

Enjoy!

Baby Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Glaze

Whoever said that the simple things are often the best, was a legend. I have proof. What am I talking about? Well a couple of weeks ago, I’d gone to lunch with a friend. Obviously, I had to have the smashed avo toast – beautiful rye sourdough, topped with a generous amount of smashed avocado. This particular version of it was then topped with a simple salad that was so very good, I had to try replicating it at home. It was just a beautiful and well balanced little number, with every mouthful, I could literally hear angels sing.

Since the salad was so simple, there is very little to do to assemble it. This makes it perfect if you have to make a great big batch to feed a crowd this holiday season. The homemade version was so good, I hardly got a couple of bites of it. The husband, who initially was very skeptical about the simplicity and the ‘no mayo’ nature of the salad, almost wiped the plate clean. So I can tell you that this recipe has been tried and tested and has received the highest seal of approval (well, in my house atleast).

This is not an exact recipe. You simply add the ingredients to your liking and taste and it will turn out fantastic.

Baby Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Glaze


A couple of handfuls of baby spinach (you could also use rocket or any salad greens of your choice)
A few cherry tomatoes
Feta cheese, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
Balsamic glaze, to taste

Place the baby spinach / salad greens on your salad plate.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place it evenly around the plate.

Crumble some feta cheese on top. (Please note, the feta cheese is salty, so add as much or as little as you’d like. No additional salt in used as the feta seasons the salad.)

Sprinkle a little freshly cracked black pepper on top.

Drizzle a little balsamic glaze over everything to finish it off.

Sit back and look at this gorgeous work or art.

Serve up and enjoy.

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

So baked oatmeal is apparently a thing, and I didn’t know until now. I’m wondering where I’ve been all this while. In a few short months, I’ve stumbled upon Smoothie Bowls and now Baked Oatmeal. We love the smoothie bowls. They were perfect for summer and we’ve had a long, hot one. Its not over yet, but the weather has started cooling down a tiny bit and I am looking forward to winter. Enter this awesome Baked Oatmeal.

In our house, we love oatmeal for breakfast. It does take a little more hands-on time to whip up in the morning compared to making toast. However, we all know that oatmeal is healthier for you than bread. And overnight refrigerator oatmeal is perfect for summer, but I prefer a warm breakfast when the weather is cooler. And how good would it be if someone could make me this warm breakfast in the morning while I got an extra ten minutes of sleep. That ain’t happening so this baked oatmeal is the next best thing. You make a batch up one evening and it reheats beautifully for breakfast the next morning. The flavor options that I found on the internet are endless. This breakfast option is an absolute winner in my book and I know I’ll be making it very often as the weather cools down.

Making baked oatmeal couldn’t be simpler. Whisk the wet ingredients. Stir in the oats and bake. An added advantage is that this is clean eating at its best. No refined sugars in this breakfast option. Its like eating banana bread for breakfast, without the guilt. You use the oats instead of flour and maple syrup instead of sugar. Throw in some coconut oil and pecan nuts and you have taken this humble oatmeal breakfast up a couple of notches nutritionally. Don’t take my word for it. Make a batch today and you’ll have a household that actually enjoys oatmeal for breakfast.



Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal


2 large ripe bananas (or 3 small)
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (additional for garnish)
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180ÂșC.

Grease an 8×8 baking dish and set aside.

Spread the chopped pecans on another ungreased baking tray and let them roast for 4-6 minutes or till they are toasted light golden brown. Cool.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas.

Add the milk, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla to the mashed bananas and mix well till smooth.

Add the oats, salt, cinnamon powder and toasted pecans and stir till combined.

Pour into the greased baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until set and golden brown on top.

Let it cool for a while (around 5 minutes) in the baking dish itself before cutting and serving.

Serve warm by itself or with some greek yogurt or milk, as desired. You could top it off with some fresh fruit and nuts as well.

If you’re making this ahead of time, refrigerate and cut and reheat in the microwave as needed.

Aloo Bhaji

UPDATE: Over the years, I’ve made one little addition to this recipe, that I think makes this recipe even more delicious. After the mustard seeds sputter, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and let it release its aroma, should take a few seconds. Then continue with the recipe. Nothing else changes. Keep a close eye on the cumin seeds and don’t let it burn.
Also, I have come to realise that there is a difference in the size of sour limes found in India and other countries. You need just a few drops, maybe a teaspoon of it for a mild change in flavours.

I’ve been having such crazy days of late, I just don’t know where all the 24 hours off the day go. Things such seem to be happening at such a frenzied pace, and that too for no reason in particular. I wonder what brought this on. Since I haven’t been able to devote much time to this space, I decided I was going to make up for it by posting one of my all time favorites – the humble aloo bhaji (A mildly spiced potato stir fry.) I do love my fries and mashed potatoes, but sometimes I find myself longing for a portion of this stir fry.

Making this stir fry can be super quick, not to mention easy, if you have a few boiled potatoes at hand. Make sure that when you’re boiling potatoes for this stir fry, you don’t overcook them, else they will not hold their shape and get all mushy. It’ll still taste great, but just won’t be as much of a visual treat. I usually wash the potatoes and pressure cook them with some water and salt for about 10 minutes after the first whistle. Remember to turn your gas to low after the whistle. If you don’t want to use a pressure cooker, peel and cube the potatoes and cover them in water, add a little salt and boil them on the stovetop till tender.
This stir fry is a versatile side dish. In India, every region tweaks it a little and uses it in loads of different ways.  It can be served with some hot chapatis (Whole wheat flat bread), pooris (savory deep fried flat bread), used as stuffing for masala dosas (savory crispy crepes filled with this potato mix) and so on. I’m going to try to post each of these in the future. Oh! and by the way, this potato mix makes for a lovely topping on a slice of toasted bread or can also be used as a filling for a grilled sandwich. How about that!

Watch the video here –

Aloo Bhaji
(Serves 4)
3-4 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubed (about 1/2 kg)
1 large onion, chopped
2 birdseye / green chillies, sliced (or to taste)
8-10 curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp (scant) turmeric powder
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp sugar

Heat the oil in a pan. 
On a medium flame, add the mustard seeds and let them sputter.

Add the curry leaves and the chopped chilly. Let it fry for a few seconds.

Add the cumin seeds and immediately after tip in the chopped onions and saute it for a few minutes till the onions have softened and turned a light brown.

Add the turmeric powder and stir well. Let it cook for about a minute. Stir to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan and burn.

Tip in the potatoes and stir well till the potatoes are well coated with the spice mix. 
Add the lime juice and salt to taste and stir well. 

Add the sugar and stir well.

Check for seasoning and adjust, if needed.

Once the potatoes have heated through, sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves and toss lightly. Take the pan off the heat.
Serve hot.


This recipe is linked to –
Savory Sunday
Mangia Mondays
My Meatless Mondays
Just Another Meatless Monday
Hearth and Soul