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.
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Beetroot Dhokla

Navratri is one of the holiest Hindu festivals where people across India worship the different avatars of Goddess Durga for nine days. Back home, I used to look forward to the Garba and Dandiya nights where my friends and I would dress in traditional attire and dance the night away. This dance originates from the state of Gujarat in India. The dhokla is a delicious food item made in Gujarat and is a popular and healthy snack. Residing in the red dot country, I decided to post a celebratory recipe in the form of Beetroot Dhokla which gets a beautiful shade of natural red colour from the beet. They are very easy and quick to make and are an instant hit with kids and adults.

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

Ingredients :

  • 1 medium sized beetroot, grated fine
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup rava/semolina
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 green chilli, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 red chillies, cut in half long strands
  • 1 tsp eno fruit salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, freshly chopped
  • Salt to taste

Beetroot dhokla

Beetroot dhokla


Method:

  • In a bowl, mix the semolina, grated beetroot, yogurt, salt, green chillies, ginger paste, cumin powder, kasuri methi and 1 tbsp oil. Mix well to form a nice batter. There is no need to add water as the water from the beetroot and yogurt should be enough to bind the mixture. Cover and keep aside for 30 mins to rest.
  • Beetroot dhokla batter

    Beetroot dhokla batter

  • Take a flat bottomed steel vessel (which can fit into a pressure cooker / steamer) and grease well with oil on the bottom and the sides.
  • When you are ready to steam, add the eno fruit salt to the batter. Mix well and pour it into the greased vessel.
  • Place this vessel into a pressure cooker which has water at the bottom. This needs to be steamed now.
  • Steam this batter without adding the whistle on the pressure cooker. This allows the steam to pass out through the vent. Do this for 15 – 20 minutes on a medium flame. Then, switch off the flame.
  • Let it cool for 15 mins. Then remove it from the mould and cut it into desired shape.
  • For the tempering – oil roast the mustard seeds, sesame seeds and red chillies together on low flame and just add it on top of the steamed dholka. Finally, add coriander leaves as the garnish.
  • Beetroot dhokla pieces

    Beetroot dhokla pieces

  • Now serve it hot with coriander chutney. It is just perfect as a snack.

Tips:

  • Don’t add water to the batter unless absolutely needed. It needs to be thick.
  • Let the dhokla rest for some time before removing it from the mould.
  • To test if the dhokla is done, just insert a toothpick into the steamed batter. If it comes out clean, the dhokla is done.

Chocolate and Date Lollipops

Some goodies take you right back to your childhood. When I was planning for a picnic party, I knew that I wanted to have lollipops in the dessert course. The very idea of eagerly opening the lollipop wrapper and tasting it thrilled me. I also happened to have a nice box of dates lying around and I decided to use it as as the base. I added chocolate and walnuts for taste and texture. The lollipops turned out to be delicious with none of the main ingredients overpowering each other. This is bound to be a hit with both adults and kids.

Recipe Details :
Makes: 8 lollipops
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 6 seedless dates
  • 8 whole walnuts
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp hazelnuts crushed (optional)

Chocolate and date lollipops

Chocolate and date lollipops


Method:

  • In a mixer, pulse the dates, walnuts and vanilla extract to form a soft dough. Do not add any other liquid to this mixture.
  • Take some of this mixture in your hands and gently roll into a ball.
  • Once you are done rolling the entire mixture, place the lollipops in the fridge for some time to firm up.
  • In the meantime, take the chocolate chips in a bowl and heat them in the microwave for 75 secs. These 75 secs should be in steps of 30 secs, 30 secs and 15 secs. Stir the mixture using a small spoon in every step and ensure that the chocolate has completely melted. There should not be any chunks. Let it rest for 5 mins.
  • Roll the lollipops in the melted chocolate. If you find this hard to do, you can use a basting brush instead. For this, dip the brush in the melted chocolate and coat the lollipops evenly. This gives an even finish and does not smudge the chocolate.
  • When the chocolate coating is still wet, gently sprinkle or roll the lollipop to the finely crushed hazelnut.
  • Keep the newly coated lollipops on absorbing paper and solidify in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
  • To serve, remove from the fridge and skewer them. I wrapped them using cling wrap and tied them with an attractive coloured ribbon. If refrigerated, they can be stored for 4-5 days.

Tips :

  • While making the date-walnut dough, use the pulse setting.
  • Between pulses, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • If you find the mixture is too sticky to work with, add more walnuts and process or store in the fridge for a few minutes before rolling.
  • Be careful while melting the chocolate. Mixing the chocolate between the heating phases helps to create a smoothly melting chocolate.

French beans and red capsicum masala rice / French beans and red bell pepper masala rice

While learning and experimenting in my cooking, I’ve realized that food is firstly a visual medium. By that I mean, depending on my mood, the colours and I vibrancy that I like to see and present change. This recipe turned out to be an outcome of one such cooking process. I wanted to make something quick, toss in some vegetables and rice and call it done. I like to use rice as it generally acts as the perfect base for one pot meals. I had some nice French beans lying around and wanted to use them. To make their green colour look more vibrant, I wanted something in red and decided to go with red bell peppers as the second vegetable. The masala rice turned out to be delicious and crunchy due to the veggies and this has become one of my favourite dishes to repeat when I need to cook fast. I have tried making this recipe with basmati rice and brown rice and I preferred the brown rice version.

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

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 1 cup French beans, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut in cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seed powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Beans and red bell pepper rice

French beans and red bell pepper rice


Method:

  • Cook the Basmati rice and keep it aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan on a low flame. Add the bay leaves, clove and cinnamon and let them fry for 2 minutes.
  • Add the chopped onions with a little bit of salt and sweat them till they are translucent.
  • Now add the chopped French beans with garam masala, pepper powder, cumin seed powder and some salt into the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and let the beans cook for around 5 minutes.
  • Toss in the chopped red bell peppers and cook them just for around 2 minutes without the lid. They need to be a bit crunchy.
  • Finally add the cooked rice to the vegetables and toss the rice around gently in the pan with a ladle. The rice should get perfectly mixed with the spices and vegetables.
  • Serve hot with chips or papads.

Tips :

  • Sprinkle some water while cooking the beans. Do not cover the pan with a lid for long as the beans might burn.
  • Do not overpower the veggies in the dish by adding more of cloves or cinnamon.

Groundnut and Dry fruit Burfi/ Peanut and Dry fruit Barfi

Some of my friends were coming home for dinner and I wanted to make something quick and easy to serve as dessert. I decided to go for a barfi (which is a confectionery made primarily in the Indian subcontinent). The major advantage is that it can be made in large batches and freezes brilliantly for later storage. This time groundnuts caught my attention since I was going for something inspired by the traditional ‘chikki’. I was extremely pleased by how this barfi turned out.
Recipe for Groundnut and Dry fruit Burfi/ Peanut and Dry fruit Barfi

Makes : 22-25 pieces
Ingredients :

  • 300 gms groundnuts, roasted and finely crushed
  • 200 gms sugar
  • 10 saffron threads
  • 1.2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 cup dry fruits (I put a mixture of cashews, walnuts, almonds and raisins)

Peanut and dry fruit barfi

Peanut and dry fruit barfi


Method:

  • Roast the peanuts on a medium flame, stirring constantly for around 10-15 mins and switch off the flame. Once the peanuts cool down, remove and discard the skin. Crush the peanuts into fine powder using a mixer.
  • Crush all the mentioned dry fruits into a fine powder using the mixer and keep aside.
  • Now in a flat pan, heat the sugar and water till the sugar completely dissolves. Keep the flame low and stir continuously till no sugar granules are observed. At this stage, check the string consistency of the liquid. You want a two string consistency.
  • Add saffron threads and stir the liquid for around one minute.
  • Now add the finely crushed peanuts to this syrup and mix well for two minutes. Keep the flame low.
  • Switch off the flame and add the ghee followed by the powdered dry fruits. Stir well to make a smooth mixture.
  • Grease a flat tray with ghee on the base, the side, and the rims. Spread the barfi mixture evenly on the greased tray and press down to form an even and compact layer. Let it cool and get firm for 6 hours. Once firm, cut it into small diamond pieces using a knife and scoop it out from the tray using a spatula.

Tips :

  • Do not let the peanuts burn. The dessert will carry a bitter, sooty taste. Keep the flame at medium and stir the peanuts often.
  • I used brown sugar for making this barfi. If you use white sugar, reduce the quantity of sugar a bit since the latter is sweeter.
  • If you add more raisins, reduce the amount of sugar.
  • The size of the tray is critical in order to get a barfi of decent depth. Choose a smaller sized tray than the one shown in the picture for the quantity of peanuts mentioned.
  • If the barfi crumbles after 6 hours while cutting, do not worry. Just apply some ghee on your palms and roll the barfi mixture into round shape and convert them to laddoos. They taste equally delicious.

Zucchini Masala Dosa

Zucchini is a variety of summer squash that is shaped like a cucumber and has dark green skin. Sounds boring, right? For me, it turned out to be a brilliant filling used with dosas. It also cut down the carbohydrates and acted as a perfect substitute for the traditional potatoes. This is a great variant on the standard Masala Dosa. Try it out – you may be pleasantly surprised.
Recipe for Zucchini Masala Dosa

Serves : 8-10 dosas
Ingredients :

Zucchini masala dosa ingredients

Zucchini masala dosa ingredients

  • 2 large zucchinis, cubed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp of freshly chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste
  • Lime to taste (optional)

Zucchini masala dosa

Zucchini masala dosa


Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan on a low flame. When it is warm, add the mustard seeds and wait till they splutter. Now add the finely chopped onions and sauté them till golden brown on medium flame.
  • Add the zucchini, tomatoes, the spices and salt. Stir well to combine. Sprinkle a little water at this stage.
  • Cover and cook the dish for 10 minutes till the zucchini is soft and switch off the flame.
  • Finally before serving, squeeze in some lime juice and garnish with coriander.

Tips :

  • Do not sprinkle too much water as the dosa will become soggy while serving.
  • Do not overcook the zucchini. If cooked too long, it will turn to mush.
  • Another side dish would be a nice add-on to the main dish. I had made coriander and coconut chutney as a side dish to complement the taste of zucchini.

This dish is inspired from a fellow food blogger who is also a consistent ‘Deelightfully Veg’ reader. Inspired from http://shivaaydelights.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/courgette-masala-dosa/

Coconut and Jaggery Laddoos / Kamarkat / Kamarkattu

Festivals are a time to celebrate and the best excuse for making sweets & snacks. The festive season also takes you back to your childhood and the traditional savories mom used to – and hopefully, still makes. So I decided to make one of my favorite sweet munchies to connect back to that time. This dish is ideal for distribution during festivals and quite a hit with kids too.

Recipe for Coconut and Jaggery Laddoos / Kamarkat / Kamarkattu

Makes : 12-15 pieces
Ingredients :

  • 1 cup grated coconut (fresh/frozen)
  • 3/4 cup jaggery
  • A pinch of cardamom powder (equivalent to 3-4 cardamom pods)
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 cup water
Coconut and jaggery laddoo

Coconut and jaggery laddoo / Kamarkat / Kamarkattu

Method:

  • Heat the water in a pan and add the solid pieces of jaggery. Mix well and stir continuously till the jaggery dissolves completely. Occasionally, some lumps or fine impurities may remain – so filter it after switching off the flame.
  • Clean the pan and transfer the filtered jaggery syrup back to the pan and heat it on a low flame. The syrup will start bubbling and turn aromatic. At this stage, check for the string consistency of the liquid. (This is that stage when the syrup can’t dissolve in water. It can be tested by taking few drops of syrup onto a spoon of water)
  • Add cardamom powder and grated coconut in the syrup. Stir well and keep monitoring till the coconut slowly absorbs all the syrup and becomes thick. Check the consistency by making a small ball. If you are able to roll it, switch of the flame and let it cool slightly.
  • The trick is to roll the laddoos when they are warm. Grease your palms with a little ghee and roll them. If the mixture cools down, you will not be able to roll them.

Tips :

  • If you are using freshly grated coconut, do not use the coconut shavings very near to the shell.
  • The colour of jaggery syrup is critical. If you overheat it, the laddoos might turn dark brown , hard and difficult to chew. I like the golden brown colour shown in the pic.
  • Jaggery can be of any type. If its fine, it becomes easier to dissolve.
  • If you are making large numbers, please make it in batches because the whole mixture will dry fast.
  • This has to be stored in a dry container and refrigerated for further use. It is advisable to consume within 4-5 days upon refrigeration.