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.
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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.

Herb-Roasted Baby Potatoes

When planning a party for a large group of people, you are constantly on the lookout for dishes or ingredients that can be cooked simply, quickly, and in large batches. Potatoes fit the bill perfectly as they are versatile enough to fit into any course of the meal. The ‘Herb-Roasted Baby Potatoes’ dish works wonders as a starter because you can let the oven roast the potatoes evenly while you get time to focus on other things. And who does not like crisp potatoes with a shining layer of butter glistening away on them! Getting a high quality butter will definitely enhance the flavour of this dish. Serve them on skewers for your guests to have firm hold on the potatoes.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 8-10 pax
Time: 90 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • 2 kgs baby potatoes , scrubbed and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Herb-roasted baby potatoes

Herb-roasted Baby Potatoes


Method:

  • In a pan, place the potatoes and cover with water. Add salt to it and stir it well. Bring the water to a boil over high flame.
  • Once a lot of bubbles have come in the boiling phase, lower the flame and let the potatoes cook slowly till the water evaporates. This will take about 30 mins. At this stage, switch off the flame. The potatoes will now be covered in salt.
  • Wash the potatoes in tap water to remove the excess salt.
  • While the potatoes are boiling, start the prep work for seasoning. Combine the shallot, garlic, parsley and thyme in a food processor. Pulse to mix the ingredients. Add in the butter chunks and pulse to form a homogeneous mixture. Your herb butter is ready at this stage.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust the oven rack to middle position. Prepare a roasting tray / 9 x 13 pan and line it with a baking sheet or aluminium foil.
  • Heat the herb butter in a saucepan on medium flame till it melts.
  • Toss the potatoes along with half of the melted butter in a bowl. Transfer this to baking pan and roast in the oven, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 20 mins. The potatoes should have crisped all over.
  • Transfer the crispy potatoes to a large bowl and toss in the remaining the herb butter. Garnish it with salt and pepper and serve hot. The potatoes would have soaked in all the flavours of the herbs and the potato skins should have gotten wrinkly giving you a perfect party appetizer.

Tips:

  • Keep an eye on the potatoes as they boil. Turn off the gas once the water has evaporated.
  • You can add other flavours to the herb butter as well – for a spicy kick, toss in some paprika or chilli flakes.
  • If you do not have access to fresh herbs, just use readymade Italian seasoning.
  • If you are in Singapore, then buy the baby potatoes from wet markets. They sell a bunch in a single packet.

Yellow Pumpkin and Potato Soup

When I want a simple and comforting meal, my go-to meal is soup. This time I chose yellow pumpkin/squash as my main ingredient. They give great texture and a hint of sweetness to soups. Try out this recipe – even if you don’t like yellow pumpkins! Potatoes were added to give the soup body and a rich feel. The colour of the soup was mind-blowing and it disappeared in no time. A hearty meal indeed!

Recipe Details :
Serves: 2-3 pax
Time: 60 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 yellow pumpkin (400-500 g), diced in cubes
  • 3 potatoes, diced into cubes
  • 2 small onions, finely diced
  • 2 green chillies, finely diced
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 cup water

Yellow pumpkin and potato soup

Yellow pumpkin and potato soup


Method:

  • Cut the yellow pumpkins, potatoes and onions.
  • Chopped veggies

    Chopped veggies

  • Roast the white sesame seeds on low flame. Once they turn slightly brown, set aside.
  • White sesame seeds

    White sesame seeds

  • Now heat olive oil in a pan and add the chopped vegetables and saute them. Add some salt and green chilli at this stage.
  • Once the veggies are partially cooked, add the coconut milk and the water. Let it cook on a low flame for around 30 mins. Stir once in a while to check on the consistency.
  • Once the mixture looks thickened, switch off the flame. Set aside to cool.
  • After around 20 mins, blend the mixture using a blender. Taste the soup and add some salt (if required) and pepper at this stage.
  • Finally garnish this delicious and colorful soup with red chillies, roasted sesame seeds and coriander leaves. Now it is ready to serve and enjoy!

Tips:

  • If you want to incorporate sweeter flavours, roast the pumpkin before cutting.
  • Don’t blend the mixture when it’s very hot. Do not let it cool down completely as well. The warmer it is when you blend it, the smoother the soup will be.

Potato and Purple Cabbage Fritters / Aloo Gobi Tikki

Whenever I feel like having a burger, I create fritters (or tikkis) and pair it with bread or buns. This time, I wanted to try something new. I had never tried cooking with purple cabbage. When I found some fresh cabbage and picked it up, I had no clue what I was going to end up making with it. I definitely knew it could be grated and since it looked crunchy, I knew it would be a nice ingredient for a tikki. Potato is an eternal ingredient that is invariably used in any tikki recipe. The combination of these two vegetables turned out to be delicious and with the addition of some spices, the flavour turned out to be irresistible. It is great for tea time snacks and the colour that the cabbage imparts to the dish makes it very visually appealing. The tikkis disappeared in no time and I will definitely say that you’ve got to try making them! 🙂

Recipe Details :
Makes: 10-12 tikkis
Time: 60 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 4 potatoes, boiled and peeled
  • 1.5 cups purple cabbage, shredded
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder / aamchur (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Some coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Oil for shallow frying

Method:

    Method:

    • Cut the potatoes in half, boil them and peel off the skin. Mash the potatoes and set them aside.
    • Once the cabbage is cut, ensure that you remove the moisture from the cabbage by squeezing it.
    • Potato and cabbage tikki prep

      Potato and cabbage tikki prep

    • Take a mixing bowl and all the ingredients except oil as shown in the picture. Add the mashed potatoes to this bowl and mix all the ingredients well.
    • Potato and cabbage tikki shape

      Potato and cabbage tikki shape

    • Now divide this mixture into 10-11 equal rounds. Tap them with the fingers and make them even as shown in the above pic. Refrigerate them for 30 mins.
    • After 30 mins, take a shallow pan, add oil and heat it on a medium flame.
      Potato and cabbage tikki shallow fry

      Potato and cabbage tikki shallow fry

    • Shallow fry the tikkis on both sides, flipping carefully. A light brown layer will form on it and then the tikkis are ready to be served with some ketchup or chutney. Have it with toasted lightly buttered bread and you are going to love it!! 🙂

    Tips:

    • In case your cabbage has lot of moisture or your tikkis lose shape, use a binder like semolina or breadcrumbs. I did not need to use it.
    • Turn the tikkis carefully. If you are careless, the hot oil will splash on you.
    • If you want thicker tikkis, you will need to deep fry them.

Quinoa with Chickpeas and Black Bean Salad with Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette in Potato Basket/ Quinoa with with Chickpeas and Black Bean Salad with Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette in Aloo Katori

I’ve been reading up on healthy foods and came to hear a lot of good things about quinoa. It is being touted as a healthy grain as it is a rich source of protein and fiber. When cooked, it fluffs up nicely and almost resembles couscous or sabudana (tapioca). What I like about cooking is the ability to experiment with new ingredients and since I had never cooked with quinoa before, I decided to try a salad. I also wanted to understand the quinoa behaviour while cooking. I read that the cooking process is similar to the one used for rice. However, I found that it is better to be conservative on the quinoa to water ratio. The brand of quinoa I suggested a ratio of 1:2 (quinoa:water). When I tried it, the quinoa was too soggy for my taste. Ultimately, I ended up using 1:1 ratio of quinoa to water. Wash the quinoa thoroughly (3 – 4 washes) before cooking as it has a bitter outer coating. This recipe has quite a few ingredients – each adding their own taste and texture. I had made it as a picnic starter and it turned out to be delicious. This recipe has 3 main components: The quinoa salad, the lemon-cumin vinaigrette and the potato basket. This dish can be made just as a salad and served with a dash of lemon, the vinaigrette is multipurpose and can be used with other salads, and last but not least, the potato baskets can be stuffed with a filling of your choice. In short this is my triple bonanza post, three recipes in one dish! Needless to say, experimenting with these combinations to create a dish was a deelightful experience 🙂

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 40 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • For salad

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (please see tips section of this post)
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1/2 can chickpeas
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

  • For vinaigrette

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • fine zest of half a lemon(optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • For potato basket/aloo katori

  • 1 medium potato, shredded on the largest side of a box grater
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • Salt as per taste

Quinoa with beans salad

Quinoa with beans salad


Method for salad and vinaigrette:

  • Wash the quinoa thoroughly and place it in a pan with a 1:1 ratio of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, put on a lid and turn the heat to low. Cook till all the water is absorbed. Take it off the heat and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Fluff well with a fork.
  • Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Prepare the vinaigrette only after the quinoa is cooked.
  • Now combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl. Add half the quantity of the prepared vinaigrette into the salad bowl and mix well. Let the salad rest for about 20 mins at room temperature before serving.
  • The salad can be refrigerated overnight and the extra vinaigrette can be used at the time of serving the next day. The vinaigrette is essential as it adds a great acidity to the salad. If you do not have the ingredients for the vinaigrette, then just squeeze some lemon juice on top to balance the salad flavours.

Potato baskets

Potato baskets


Method for potato basket/aloo katori

  • Wash and peel the potatoes. Grate them on the largest openings on a box grater.
  • Squeeze the grated potato to remove excess moisture. The more water you can remove now, the better.
  • Now combine the remaining ingredients with the potatoes in a bowl. Do this quickly as the potato will start to oxidize.
  • Lightly grease a muffin tray. Scoop some of the mixture into each section of the tray.
  • Working outwards from the center, press down to create a flat base and then push the mixture up the sides of the wall to create a bowl shape.
  • Bake in an oven at 180 Celsius for 20 minutes. At that stage check if the baskets are golden brown. If not, continue baking, checking every 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Remove the baskets from the muffin tray. You can serve them immediately.

Tips :

  • For those staying in Singapore, I used the Origins Health food Organic Quinoa pack and I did not cook according to the instructions on the pack as it made the quinoa too mushy for my liking.
  • For an interesting perspective on cooking quinoa and reading instructions about the same, give this a read http://foodbod.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/dont-cook-quinoa-as-it-says-on-the-pack/
  • I used canned versions of the chickpeas and black beans. You can soak them overnight in the usual manner and make them too.
  • If you refrigerate the potato baskets, then warm them slightly in an oven so that they get a bit crisp before serving the next day.

Potato and Peanut Khara Kootu / Potato and Peanut in Spicy Tamarind Gravy

The humble potato is a highly versatile veggie that works equally well with rice and rotis. All that’s needed is the idea to make a dry sabzi or a gravy. I decided to try an interesting combination of potatoes and peanuts in a mildly spicy gravy which goes perfectly with rice.

Recipe for Potato and Peanut Khara Kootu / Potato and Peanut in Spicy Tamarind Gravy


Serves : 2-3
Ingredients :

  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, cut into crescents
  • 2 tbsp peanuts / groundnuts
  • Tamarind, a small marble size
  • 1 tsp crushed ginger
  • 2 tbsp freshly / frozen grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp Bengal gram dal
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • Asafoetida to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Curry leaves [optional]
  • Salt to taste

Potato and peanut khara kootu

Potato and peanut khara kootu


Method:

  • Soak peanuts in hot water and keep them aside till they swell [around 30 mins]. Drain and set aside.
  • Soak tamarind in warm water and extract the juice.
  • Peel and chop the potatoes into crescents.
  • Peel and crush the ginger.
  • For the spice paste: Heat a drop of oil in a pan and roast coriander seeds, Bengal gram dal, fenugreek seeds and red chillies together till they start changing colour. Then add cumin seeds and roast till it gives a pleasant aroma. Finally add asafoetida and roast for a few seconds. Switch off the flame. Let this mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Finally, grind these roasted ingredients into a smooth powder in a mixer. Then add the grated coconut along with a little water to this spice mixture and grind once again for around 5 seconds.
  • Now heat oil in a vessel, add cumin and mustard seeds and let them splutter.
  • Add the potatoes and peanuts, along with the extracted tamarind juice to the vessel. Add turmeric, salt and crushed ginger at this stage. Cover the vegetables and let them cook in low flame for around 10 minutes.
  • When the vegetables become tender, add the ground spice paste and cook for another 5 minutes. Potatoes take a bit of time to cook – keep monitoring and stirring. Add water if needed.
  • Garnish with curry leaves and serve hot along with rice or rotis and roasted / fried papad.

Tips :

  • Monitor the water level in the gravy while cooking. Add water and manage the heat to get the consistency of your choice.
  • Adjust the chilli and coconut levels to your taste. You can make this dish richer or spicier depending on the ratio of these ingredients.