Carrot and Cucumber Stew with Red Lentils

I’m back! I’ve still been busy travelling and cooking (festival food!) and now it feels great to post again. Hope you all are doing well. I see a lot of new readers reading my blog along with the consistent readers – and all I want to say is Thank you! After hogging on numerous Diwali sweets, I decided to balance all that richness with something healthy. I like stews – they are flavorful and loaded with vegetables. You don’t need nothing else to feel like you have had a wholesome meal. I used red lentils to incorporate protein into the dish. The veggies used are carrots and cucumbers. The fact that it hardly requires any oil makes it a winner from the health perspective. You can serve this with rice or rotis or just eat a bowl of this on its own.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 45 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red lentils/ red masoor dal
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Curry leaves for garnish (optional)

Method:

  • Wash the red lentils using a colander under cold water 3-4 times and keep aside. This is done to remove the grit present in the lentils.
  • Heat a pot on medium heat and add the 1 tsp oil. Now add the carrots and onions and saute for 5 minutes. Once done, add the ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and cook them for another 3 minutes.
  • Once the ginger-garlic paste is nicely mixed with the carrots and onions, add the cumin seeds and saute it for a minute till the aroma of cumin fills the cooking area.
  • Now add the tomato puree, salt, coriander and turmeric powder along with 2 cups of water and mix well.
  • Add the lentils and stir to combine.
  • Bring everything to a boil and then lower the flame and let the whole broth simmer for around 30 minutes.
  • Keep occasionally stirring it in between and add more water if necessary depending upon the consistency. Do not add too much liquid (that’s soup) – it should be a bit thick.
  • Carrot and cucumber stew in process

    Carrot and cucumber stew in process

  • Finally, now add the chopped cucumbers to the lentil stew and mix it in. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Add a little more salt at this stage.
  • Carrot and cucumber stew

    Carrot and cucumber stew

  • Garnish with some curry leaves and serve it hot. All I can say is you will not be able to resist this bowl of goodness 🙂

Tips:

  • Wash the lentils well. If you want a head start on cooking them, just soak them for some time in cold water.
  • You can serve this as soup as well. Once everything is cooked well, just blend with a hand mixer / blender.
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Cucumber and Apple Salad

Some time back I posted about my layered Veg Biryani. In that post, I wrote that I paired the rice with a delicious salad.  So, this post is going to be a healthy and easy-to-make salad recipe. I decided to go with my most staple salad ingredient – cucumbers. To give sweetness and crunch, I paired them with some lovely red apples. These ingredients also provide necessary fiber to the body and are refreshing to eat. I like to grate some nuts (walnuts or almonds) as garnish and make it a wholesome spoon of nutrition.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3 pax
Time: 15 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 3 cucumbers, cut in crescents
  • 1 apple, cut in crescents
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 5 walnuts, grated
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 2 tsp honey (optional)

Cucumber and apple salad

Cucumber and apple salad


Method:

  • Cut the cucumbers and apples into crescents and keep them aside.
  • Take a bowl and add the white vinegar, honey and pepper powder and whisk the dressing well.
  • Add the cut ingredients to the dressing and mix them nicely.
  • Garnish this salad with grated walnuts.
  • Refrigerate it for 20 mins before serving.

Cucumber and Carrot Pancakes

Most of the times we want a recipe for breakfast that’s quick to make and involves less prep work. This recipe fits those requirements to a T. Cucumbers are light on the stomach and healthy as well. I decided to use them as one of the main ingredients in a pancake batter. To give the entire dish some crunch and bite, I added in carrots as well. This recipe can be made into patties, which can be eaten plain or by keeping them in a sandwich along with some tomato ketchup. They can also be made in the bigger size which would be equivalent to a medium sized dosa. It turned out to be extremely delicious and it is one of my favourite breakfast recipes now. Sometimes I even make this for dinner along with a glass of buttermilk. I have tried this exact recipe replacing zucchini instead of cucumber and the result is equally fabulous.

Recipe Details :
Makes: 8 small pancakes or 4 large pancakes
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and grated (approx 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, grated (approx 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Chickpea flour/ Besan
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 – 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp oil for 1 pancake for frying
  • Freshly chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste

Cucumber pancake small size

Cucumber and carrot pancake small size


Method:

  • Take a bowl and mix all the ingredients except the oil to make a batter. Keep in mind not to add water while mixing as the cucumber or zucchini will provide the required moisture.
  • Heat a non-stick pan on low-medium heat and grease its surface with a bit of oil.
  • Take 1/4 cup of the batter and place it on the pan. Press down on the batter gently with your fingers to spread it out in an evenly into a shape of your choice. Do not make it very thin. In case of a large pancake, do the same process using 1/2 a cup of batter.
  • Drizzle some oil on the top and sides of the pancake.
  • Cook until the base turns golden brown in colour.
  • Now turn the pancake over and cook on the other side and then remove it from the pan. Serve it along with toast, with accompaniments of chutney or ketchup (if required), and you are in for a delicious meal.
  • In case of a large pancake, it is heavy enough to serve as breakfast – even without toast. For an idea of the portion size, see the picture below
  • Cucumber  pancake large

    Cucumber and carrot pancake large size


Tips :

  • Do not sprinkle water while making the batter or while spreading the batter on the pan.
  • Don’t make the batter too early as the cucumber / zucchini will make the batter more loose as time passes.
  • If you do want to prep it in advance, use a little more besan and store it in the fridge.
  • Adjust the spices as per your taste levels. You can add finely chopped green chillies if you like it spicy.

Stuffed Cucumber Sabzi/ Curry

Cucumber has generally been a salad vegetable in diverse cuisines. It comes in varied sizes and varieties and the larger versions can be made into dishes that showcase the cucumber. I had a large cucumber lying around in my refrigerator – and I wanted to use it anything but a salad. So I went ahead and made this stuffed cucumber gravy side dish which turned out to be extremely delicious and went perfectly with rotis or breads. You just have to try it to believe it.
Recipe for Stuffed Cucumber Sabzi/ Curry

Serves : 2-3
Ingredients :

Stuffed cucumber ingredients

Stuffed cucumber ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tbsp peanuts, coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp of freshly chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Peel the cucumber, cut them into 2 inch pieces and scoop out the seeds from the center. Keep the scooped cucumber pieces aside (as shown in pic)
  • In a mixing bowl, take the ground peanuts, chopped onions and tomatoes, turmeric, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala powder, salt and mix them well.
  • Fill this mixture in the center section of the scooped cucumbers and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan on a low flame. When it is warm, add the mustard seeds and wait till they splutter. Then add the cumin seeds.
Stuffed cucumber cooking in progress

Stuffed cucumber cooking in progress

  • Add in the stuffed cucumbers and the remaining stuffing as shown in the picture. Cover and cook on a low flame till they become soft. Sprinkle some water at this stage to help steam the vegetables.
  • After 5 minutes, flip the cucumber pieces so that the other side also gets cooked. If you feel that the stuffing is burning a bit at this stage, sprinkle some more water.


Stuffed cucumber final dish

Stuffed cucumber final dish

  • Add chopped coriander at the end and serve hot with rotis.

Tips :

  • As cucumbers cook quickly, ensure to cook on low flame with covered lid.
  • If you require more gravy, increase the quantity of both onions and tomatoes by 1.

Cucumber and Peas Gravy

Sometimes, it’s fun to combine vegetables that normally don’t share the same space in normal dishes. Cucumbers are commonly used in salads and consumed raw. However, when cooked with a spice blend and paired with peas for texture, it can surprise you with great depth of flavour. This gravy side dish goes equally well with rotis and rice.

Recipe for Cucumber and Peas Gravy

Serves : 2-3
Ingredients :
For Cooking

  • 2 cups peeled cucumber, cut in cubes
  • 1.5 cups peas (frozen/fresh)
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 8-10 curry leaves to garnish [optional]

For Grinding

  • 5 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut [optional]

Cucumber and peas gravy

Cucumber and peas gravy


Method:

  • Grind all the ingredients mentioned under grinding list into a fine paste and keep it aside. Add a little water while grinding.
  • Blend just the tomatoes separately into a purée and keep it aside.
  • Microwave the peas or let them thaw in room temperature.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add the fenugreek seeds and asafoetida followed by the cucumber pieces and peas. Sauté it for about 5 mins.
  • Now add the tomato purée and let it cook till the mixture thickens. Keep stirring occasionally at this stage.
  • Next, add the ground paste. Add salt and turmeric. Mix the ingredients well to help them combine.
  • Add about 2 cups of water, cover the pan and let the vegetables simmer on low flame for about 10 mins. Add the curry leaves at this stage.
  • Serve hot with rice or rotis. If you plan to serve it with rice, paapads complement this dish brilliantly.

Tips :

  • Adjust the consistency of the gravy by changing the amount of water added. For rotis, I make it a little thicker.
  • Instead of peas, chickpeas can be used but they would have to be soaked and par cooked.
  • Coconut is optional but it is preferred in this dish as it adds a nice texture.

Cucumber and Corn Rice with Feta and Mint

The thought of how to make plain rice interesting and a standalone dish on its own merit has often found space in my culinary thoughts. If a lot of veggies are involved, the dish works brilliantly, but it involves quite a bit of prep time depending upon the cut of each vegetable. This recipe was relatively easier to make and also had an interesting flavor combination tossed in .

Recipe for Cucumber and Corn Rice


Serves : 2-3
Ingredients :

  • 1 large cucumber peeled, deseeded and cut into medium sized pieces
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 tomato cut into medium sized pieces
  • 90 gms of Feta cheese
  • Mint leaves
  • 1.2 cups of rice
  • 2 tsp oil
  • Black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable stock [optional]
Image

Cucumber and corn rice

Method:

  • Add oil to a non-stick pan. Once the oil is warm (not hot) add the onions, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook on a low flame until soft and transparent
  • Add the rice to the pan. Stir and cook till the rice becomes semi-transparent
  • Add either vegetable stock or water. For 1 cup of rice, add 2 cups of the liquid. Cover the pan and cook on a low flame
  • When the rice is par-cooked, add the cucumber and corn pieces. Taste and adjust the salt. Cover and cook till the rice is cooked through and the liquid is absorbed
  • Turn off the flame, wait a few minutes and gently fluff the rice with a fork
  • Add in the chopped tomato, feta cheese and freshly crushed black pepper and gently fold in
  • Serve hot with a mint leaf garnish (and more feta cheese!)

Tips :

  • Rice is hard to salt correctly once cooked. The cooking liquid should be salted well or the rice and cucumber will be bland
  • Also, bear in mind that Feta cheese is quite salty. If you prefer a low-salt dish, reduce the salt in the rice
  • Do not overcook the vegetables. The cucumber and tomatoes just need to be just cooked
  • If you want a stronger mint taste, add finely chopped mint leaves when you add stock / water to the rice
  • For those staying in Singapore, I use the 180 gms of box of Feta cheese from NTUC