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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check for seasoning and add more salt, if needed.
In our house, we tend to eat oats for breakfast very often. Sometimes, this can prove difficult, because we’re running late or its summertime and I can’t bear the thought of turning the gas on to make us porridge. Not to mention, eating hot porridge on a hot day, only makes things hotter. So once I tried refrigerated overnight oats, I was really happy. If you’ve never tried overnight oats, you really should. Oats are healthy and when combined with some chia seeds, fresh fruit and nuts, it is a really healthy breakfast. The best part is, this is a make ahead recipe and requires no cooking. Which can be a blessing during hot summers. This is a versatile recipe and you can add your favorite fruit and nuts to top it off. So I hope you try this out as a breakfast option and let me know what you think.
Vanilla Overnight Oats
(Makes 1 portion)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tsp chia seeds
1/4 – 1/2 vanilla extract
Maple syrup, to taste
2/3 cup almond milk (you can use soy milk or any other milk of your choice)
Fresh fruit and nuts of your choice (I used some strawberries, grapes and slivered almonds)
In a mason jar, add all the ingredients except the fresh fruit and nuts that you’re using to top off the oatmeal with.
Cover the jar and refrigerate overnight. (You can make a larger batch and use it through the week)
In the morning, add the fresh fruit and nuts of your choice. Serve up.
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 –
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 is one such snack option. Kale Chips. I never thought I’d love it as much as I do. I’ve had the option to cook with Kale only in the last couple of years. I’ve not tried too many Kale recipes so far. Just this Skillet Breakfast Hash and now these Kale Chips. I’ve made them both a few times and we love them. That is how I knew, I had to share these Kale Chips with you. Kale is really good for you. They are choc full of antioxidants. These are baked and I can’t tell you how delightful they are to snack on. You have to try it to believe it. What I love is that the options for the seasonings are endless. I have a soft spot to this Spicy Masala Chaat Seasoning. It is a little tangy, a little salty and a little spicy – just perfect. And its such an easy recipe too. All you do is prep the leaves, sprinkle the seasoning over, toss and bake. So what are you waiting for? Try it out. You’ll definitely want to make it again.
You can watch the recipe here –
1 bunch of Kale, washed and shaken dry
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder or to taste
1/2 tsp Chaat masala, or to taste
Salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
To prep the Kale leaves, break the leaves into smaller chip size portions, discarding the tougher stem.
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, the chilli powder, chaat masal and salt together.
Drizzle this over the the kale leaves and toss well to make sure all the leaves are coated with the spices. Its best to do this with your hands. Rub the leaves gently to get the seasoning in the little nooks and crannies.
Either line a baking tray with some parchment paper or lightly spray with some oil
Arrange the kale leaves in a single layer on the tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or till the leaves are lightly browned.
Keep a close watch on the leaves as they can go from just right to burnt very quickly.
Take them out of the oven and let the chips cool completely before eating. They crisp up as they cool.
Sit back and enjoy.
Pin now and enjoy later!
Come back tomorrow and I’ll show you how to use these fritters to make another yummy snack.
Most of you know my deep rooted love for the humble potato in every form. This recipe here, is another good one. Its healthier than the regular french fries, but don’t let that fool you. It tastes really good. I’m so happy to have tried this recipe. I know these wedges will make more than a few appearances on my dinner table.
Baked Garlic Herb Potato Wedges
Adapted from: About.com
2 potatoes, washed thoroughly, skins left on
Salt, to taste
1-2 tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder (I used garlic salt and adjusted the salt levels accordingly)
Black peppercorns, crushed, to taste
1 tsp dried Italian herb mix
A little dried parsley (or finely chopped fresh parsley), to garnish
Preheat oven to 210°C.
Cut the potatoes in half, lengthwise and each half into 4-5 wedges, equal in size.
Toss the wedges with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and make sure all the wedges are coated evenly. You can adjust the quantities of the seasoning to your taste. The quantities mentioned above work well as a guide.
Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the wedges skin side down. Space them evenly so that they cook uniformly.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until browned to your liking, crusty on the ends and tender inside.
Serve immediately. Add more salt if needed while they are still hot from the oven.
Sprinkle a little parsley over the potatoes and serve hot.
Sit back and enjoy!
For now, we’ll get back to the peas pulao. The preparation is really simple and the few spices used add a fragrant warmth to the rice rather than a spicy heat. Don’t let the simplicity of this dish undermine its flavors. Try it out and see for yourself.
A lot of folks seem to have trouble with the rice ending up very soft and mushy. This happens for a number of reasons like wrong amount of cooking water, too much stirring while the rice is cooking etc. I’ve made this rice hundreds of times and have never encountered such a problem. So I think if you stick to the measures, you should be good to go.
2 bay leaves
1-2″ cinnamon sticks
2 pods green cardamom
6 black peppercorns
1/2 large or 1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 cup long grained rice
2 cups water
1/4- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
A handful of green peas
Salt, to taste
If you’re using frozen peas, keep them out to thaw for a while.
Wash the rice and leave it to soak in some water for about 15-20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the oil mildly in a vessel and add the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns and let them warm up and infuse the oil with their aromas and flavors, taking care not to burn the spices.
Add the chopped onion and saute till the onions and soft and translucent and start taking on a little colour.
Add the turmeric powder and stir well.
Drain the water that the rice was soaking in and tip the rice into the vessel.
Stir gently making sure you don’t break the grains down while stirring.
Once the rice is well coated with the spices in the pan, add the water, salt to taste and the green peas.
Cover and let it cook on a low flame, till all the water has been absorbed.
Fluff up the rice using a fork and not a spoon so that you don’t mash the grains.
Serve hot with your favourite curry.
Please remember that if you’d like to change the quantity of rice used, the rice to water ratio should always be 1:2. That is 1 measure of rice to 2 measures of water to cook it in.