Bitter gourd Potato Curry / Karela Batata Sabzi

For ages, bitter gourd has been the one vegetable that does not have many takers due to its bitter taste. The health benefits of bitter gourd are numerous and it should be made in a way that appeals to kids as well as grown-ups. During my childhood in India, we had a Gujarati family in our building who were (partially) my daycare. They used to make this dish called ‘Karela Batata Nu Shaak’ quite often. It is them to whom I owe this recipe and the fond memories of this dish. The addition of a pinch of sugar helps you overcome the bitter taste of the gourd and the crunch of the cashews along with the ever-favourite potato make this an appealing dish.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 4 small sized bitter gourd, peeled, seeds removed and cut into small crescents
  • 1 big potato, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup crushed cashews
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Coriander for garnish (optional)

Bittergourd potato Curry

Bittergourd potato Curry


Method:

  • Sprinkle some salt on the cut bitter gourd pieces and keep them aside.
  • Cut bittergourd pieces

    Cut bittergourd pieces

  • Take oil in a non stick vessel and wait for it to warm on medium flame.
  • Add the cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter.
  • Squeeze out the water from the bitter gourd and add the pieces in the vessel. Cover the vessel with a lid and let it cook for 7-8 mins on low flame.
  • Then add the potato pieces along with a bit of salt and turmeric. Let the combination cook for a further 10 mins with the lid covered.
  • Now add the chopped coriander, white sesame seeds and crushed cashews. Mix them well and let them cook for 2 mins. Keep the vessel uncovered at this stage.
  • Spicing stage

    Spicing stage

  • Finally add in the coriander powder, red chilli powder and sugar and mix them nicely into the cooked vegetables.
  • Final stage

    Final stage

  • Finally garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Tips:

  • Preferably pick up young bitter gourd for this recipe.
  • To remove the seeds easily, peel the bitter gourd, slice down vertically and use a spoon to remove the seeds.
  • Squeeze the bitter gourd pieces well before adding them to the pan for cooking.

Chayote Sabzi / Chow Chow Sabzi

Chayote is a light green, pear-shaped tropical squash with coarse wrinkles and can be used in a variety of preparations. It is a good source of dietary fiber and has Vitamin C in it. Commonly known as chow chow, this ingredient works well in dry as well as gravy based curries. The mild flavour of chayote makes it perfect to take on the addition of spices which seep into it to give an enhanced taste. While peeling chayote, you can apply oil to your palms for ease. Make sure you peel it well, as the outer skin is rough. For those staying in Singapore, chayote is available in NTUC and the other supermarket stores.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 600-700 gms (2 medium sized) chayote, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 1 big onion, finely diced
  • 1-1.5 cups tomato puree (homemade or ready made)
  • 1-2 inches of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp Kitchen King masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder>
  • 0.5 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp oil

Chayote sabzi

Chayote sabzi / Chow Chow Sabzi


Method:

  • Place a pressure cooker over a medium-low flame and add 2 tbsp of oil to it.
  • Once the oil is warm, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  • Add the onions and cook gently till they are soft, but not browned.
  • Once the onions are soft, add in the tomato puree and cook till the raw smell goes away.
  • Now add coriander, kitchen king and red chilli powders followed by salt and turmeric.
  • Cook covered, stirring occasionally till the mixture thickens and releases oil.
  • Add the chayote pieces and mix well till the pieces are fully coated with the tomato-spice mixture.
  • Add 1 – 2 cups of water (depending on how thick you want the final gravy) and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
  • Switch off the flame and let the cooker cool down.
  • Taste the chayote and gravy and adjust the seasoning.
  • Add garam masala and crushed dried fenugreek leaves.
  • Finally garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Tips:

  • The amount of water you have to add depends on the chayote type you are using as the water content may vary.
  • Do not overcook the chayote as it will turn into mush.

Potato Okra Stir Fry / Lahsuni Aloo Bhindi Sabzi

Potato and okra are two basic vegetables in Indian cooking that come together beautifully in this dish. The spice powders add heat and complexity and the garlic twist adds a huge amount of flavour to the dish. This simple preparation goes great in lunch boxes and appeals to all ages.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 40 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • 800 gms Okra/bhindi, washed and kept to dry for 30 mins and then chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut approximately the same size as okra
  • 10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4-5 dry red chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp oil

lahsuni aloo bhindi

Lahsuni Aloo Bhindi


Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan and let it warm a bit. Then add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add in the cumin seeds.
  • Swirl the pan to spread the oil a bit on the sides of the pan and wait for the cumin seeds to turn slightly brown.
  • Then add the dry red chillies and asafoetida and immediately add the garlic.
  • Addition of garlic

    Addition of garlic

  • When garlic becomes light brown, add in the potatoes. Then add half of turmeric powder and salt required just for the potatoes. Cook through for around 4-5 mins.
  • Addition of potato

    Addition of potato

  • Add the chopped onions and fenugreek seeds and mix them well together. Let the onions cook through till they become soft.
  • After this, add the okra, rest of the turmeric powder and salt. Mix everything well and cook it in open pan. First cook it in high flame and then after 3 mins, keep it on medium low flame.
  • Addition of okra

    Addition of okra

  • When the okra is 90% done, add in the coriander powder and red chilli powder.
  • Spread it evenly across the pan and cook more till the okra turns nicely crisp.
  • Switch off the flame. Goes best with jeera rice and rotis.

Tips:

  • Once you add the okra, keep stirring from time to time to redistribute the veggies – you may get burnt bits otherwise.
  • You can add less garlic if you don’t like the flavour – but I would recommend adding some at least.

Cauliflower in Yogurt Gravy / Dahi Wali Gobhi

My travel tales generally have a strong association with food. As a child, I used to travel to North India for vacations. I clearly remember yogurt was extensively used to make the gravy for side dishes that go along with rotis. Cauliflower is a vegetable that blends easily into any form and is generally liked by everyone. The yogurt gravy in this recipe adds a tangy flavour along with the kick of the spices. The florets soak in the spicy essence of the gravy and end up being a delight on the taste buds.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • 400 gms cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cup yogurt/dahi
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp gram flour/besan
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander to garnish

Cauliflower in yogurt gravy

Cauliflower in yogurt gravy


Method:

  • Wash the cauliflower and cut them into small florets. Use the picture below as a size guide.
  • Washed cauliflower florets

    Washed cauliflower florets

  • Soak the florets in warm salted water for about 15 mins. After 15 mins, drain away the water to remove impurities. Lay the florets out on a kitchen towel so that excess water is absorbed.
  • Heat oil in a pan and let it warm a bit. Then add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add in the cumin seeds.
  • Add the grated ginger and saute well.
  • Now add in the cauliflower florets and turmeric powder and mix them well so that the yellow colour spreads evenly.
  • Next, add the green peas, salt and 2 cups of water and cover with a lid after mixing well. Cook this stage on a low flame.
  • While this is cooking, take a bowl add the curd, a bit of salt and gram flour and mix well. I used Greek yogurt which is a bit thicker than homemade yogurt. Adjust the consistency of yogurt as you see fit.
  • After the florets have cooked through, remove the lid and add in the yogurt mixture to the pan. Also add the garam masala powder.
  • Finally, add the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Let this cook for another 5 mins. You need not cover the pan at this stage.
  • Switch off the flame and serve hot with rotis. Also goes great with steamed white rice.

Tips:

  • Don’t overcook the cauliflower. You want them to retain their shape.
  • Depending on the thickness of your yogurt, you may need to add some water to thin the gravy.

Spinach Corn Sabzi / Palak Corn Sabzi

Spinach is a vegetable that is very rich in iron. It is recommended to include spinach as a part of your diet on a regular basis. Spinach is used in gravy side dishes in Indian cooking. One of my favourite combinations is to use spinach with corn. The sweetness of corn brings some order to the fiery Indian spices used in this dish. Since it’s a gravy dish, you can also easily transform it into a Spinach Corn Rice that can be served with papads or wafers. It also works beautifully as a lunchbox recipe. Try it out and you will become a fan of this combination!

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 2 packets of spinach
  • 1.5 cups corn kernels
  • 3/4 can of tomato puree or 3-4 tomatoes blended in a mixer
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil

Spinach corn sabzi

Spinach corn sabzi


Method:

  • Wash the spinach leaves well (at least 3-4 times) and cut off the stems. Cut the leaves into big pieces.
  • Fill a vessel filled with water and heat it till it boils. When the water starts bubbling vigorously, add the cut spinach leaves and let them boil for 3-4 minutes. Switch off the flame. Now wash the leaves immediately in ice-cold water – this helps in preserving the green colour of spinach. This process is called blanching.
  • Meanwhile boil the corn kernels in salted hot water for at least 10 mins. Alternatively, you can pressure cook the corn kernels for 3-4 whistles depending on the rawness of the kernels. Frozen corn kernels take more time than fresh corn kernels.
  • In a blender / mixer, puree the blanched spinach leaves into a smooth paste. Keep it aside.
  • Take a pan, add oil and cumin seeds in it. Once the cumin seeds splutter, add the chopped onions. Saute till they turn light pink in colour.
  • Next, add the tomato puree and salt and mix well. Let this cook on low flame for 5 mins. The rawness of tomatoes should not be felt in the paste.
  • Once the tomato puree is cooked through, add in turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala powder and mix the spices well.
  • Add the spinach puree, cover the pan and let it cook for 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Finally, add the boiled corn kernels and cook for another 3 mins.
  • Switch off the flame and serve hot with rotis. Also goes great with steamed white rice.

Tips:

  • Make sure you have ice-cold water ready once you add the spinach leaves into the boiling water.
  • Do not overcook the spinach leaves. Once they become a rich, dark green, turn off the flame immediately.
  • Make sure the corn is tender when you add it in. There’s not much cooking time given for the corn in the final stage, and it may taste raw.

Mixed Vegetable Soup with Udon Noodles

One of the best ways to use summer vegetables is to make a quick soup. If you want to add some bite to the medley of vegetables, noodles lend perfect balance to the dish. Ever since I visited Japan, I’ve wanted to try a dish at home using Udon noodles. They are thick wheat flour noodles which are best served in soups or broths. They are soft and sturdy at the same time which make them perfect ingredients for a wholesome meal. They leave you feeling full but not stuffed and veggies provide the required nourishment. For a Thai twist, we add kaffir lime leaves to provide so much flavour to this dish that you would not mind just sipping the warm soup.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 2-3 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 10-12 baby corn, cut into small rounds
  • 1 broccoli (around 250 gms), cut in florets
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 bell pepper / capsicum cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 12-15 French beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 – 2 cups of veg stock / water
  • Udon noodles
  • 2 Kaffir lime leaves cut into strips
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Mixed veg with udon

Mixed veg with udon noodles


Method:

  • Cook the Udon noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Do not cook them all the way – take them out when they are slightly underdone.
  • Soak the lime leaves in some hot water. If you’re using veg stock, supplement it with this liquid.
  • Place a pan over a medium-high flame. Add oil and wait till it just starts to shimmer.
  • Add the onions and saute them till they turn translucent.
  • Add the beans, corn, and carrot and saute them for ~30 seconds.
  • Once you see a little colour on the veggies, add in the broccoli and bell peppers. Toss to combine.
  • When the veggies are par-cooked, add in 1 cup of water / veg stock and the water from the soaked lime leaves. Cover and cook till the vegetables are just tender.
  • Turn off the flame, add the udon noodles and let the soup steep for a few minutes.
  • Mixed veg soup with udon noodles

    Mixed veg soup with udon noodles

  • Serve immediately!

Tips:

  • Do not overcook the noodles. If you are worried about overcooking them, put them in an ice bath once they are cooked.
  • You can change the veggies used to suit your taste. Add the veggies that take longer to cook first. Do not overcook them.
  • For a hit of spice, add some chili oil on the top.

Drumstick Aamti

When you stay abroad, it’s always great to see fresh vegetables in the Indian grocery store. I generally pick up drumsticks to make Sambhar which is a South Indian dish. The inner pulp and seeds of drumsticks are extremely delicious and impart great flavour to sambhar. In India, we had Maharashtrian neighbours who made Drumstick Aamti. This dal like dish has a pronounced coconut taste balanced by spices and tamarind. I decided to make the dish with store-bought coconut milk but the best way to make it would be to extract fresh coconut milk. The ground spices lend the required kick and is one of the simplest dishes that goes with rice. When served hot, this dish is finger lickingly awesome!

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 2 drumsticks, deskinned and cut along the length into small sized pieces
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk (go for the thicker variety, if store bought)
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 1 lemon sized piece of tamarind
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Drumstick aamti

Drumstick Aamti


Method:

  • Soak the tamarind in warm water and set it aside for 10 mins. Extract the tamarind juice and throw away the seeds.
  • Grind coconut, black peppercorns, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder. No water is required for grinding at this stage.
  • Take the drumstick pieces and apply the ground masala ingredients on them.
  • Take oil in a pan and heat it on low flame. Once it heats a bit, add the chopped onion and cook it till translucent.
  • Now add the marinated drumsticks into it along with a bit of water and salt such that the drumstick pieces are just soaked. Cover the pan with a lid for the drumsticks to cook through.
  • When the drumsticks are partially cooked, add in the tamarind juice that was prepared earlier and let it cook till the raw smell of tamarind goes away.
  • Now add in the coconut milk and let it simmer on low flame. Stir it well so that the spices mix into the liquid. Check the red chilli powder balance and add more if you like a spicy broth.
  • Switch off the flame in 3 mins as its not required to boil the coconut milk base too much.
  • This dish tastes awesome with rice served along with papad and pickle.

Tips:

  • You can modify the balance of flavours to your liking. Change the proportion of tamarind, coconut milk, and chilli to get the taste you like.
  • Don’t boil the dish once you add the coconut milk – simmer on a low flame.