Sea Salt Hand Scrub

Last month, we visited a brew pub which had a scrub made up of hops, lemon and salt. I came home and wanted to replicate it. The coconut oil moisturizes and the salt exfoliates the skin. The sea salt should be coarse but not too big. You can use regular salt too. I used lemon essential oil but you can use any oil you would like.

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Vegetable Fried Rice

After a long day at work, a quick, easy and satisfying meal is always welcome. This would be one of those 30-minute meals, if you have left over rice. I planned to make this meal the previous day, so made the rice the previous night. If you have the time you cna chop vegetables ahead too.
This has everything you need, carbs, protein from tofu and beans and all your vitamins from the vegetables. You could add eggs to this (scramble just before you add the rice).

I love tofu, but finding good tofu in India was a problem. In India, you could substitute with paneer if you can’t find good tofu or leave it out and add more veggies instead. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can add whatever veggies you have (3 to 4 vegetables would be nice). Please taste as you add the soy sauce and chilli sauce according to your preference.

This took about 30 minutes. I chopped the vegetables as the tofu was on the pan. I started with the onions as I had to add that first and while onions are frying, I chopped up the other vegetables. Of course, you can chop vegetables ahead of time, so you will not burn anything while you are chopping.

Ingredients


3 cups cooked rice (any rice of your choice, I used basmati)- leftover rice is even better

2-3 tbsp oil

1 block firm tofu (340 gm or 12 oz) – diced

1 tsp chilli sauce (optional)

1 cup chopped onions

½ – 1 tbsp chopped garlic

1-inch ginger, chopped

1 cup broccoli

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced capsicum (green or red peppers)

½ cup diced green beans

½ cup sliced mushrooms (optional)

½ cup baby corn chopped or sweet corn (optional)

½ cup green peas (optional)

¼ cup diced spring onions

Salt to taste

1 tbsp chilli-garlic or sriracha (chilli) sauce

3-4 tsp soy sauce (taste while you add as different soy sauces have different levels of salt)

Directions:

Cool cooked rice. If I plan ahead, I make the rice the previous day, so leftover rice is always good

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan

Marinate tofu in chilli sauce for ½ hour. This is optional and not required if you do not have time

 Add tofu and pan fry. Set aside

In the same pan, add rest of oil

Fry onions, garlic and ginger till golden brown

Add vegetables (except spring onions) and season with salt and stir fry till almost done. Do not over cook

Add tofu and rice to vegetables and toss

Add soy sauce, siracha (chilli sauce) or chilli-garlic sauce

Season with salt if required and mix wellGarnish with chopped spring onions

Vegan Pad Thai

This is a weekday meal which you can make in 30 minutes. An easy meal to make after a long day at work.

This recipes uses tamarind. Tamarind is extensively used in Asian cooking. It is a fruit and when ripe is slightly sweet and very tart. These trees are not usually seen in cities but when you see a tree, it is always fun to pick a fruit from the ground as most fruits are very high in the tree. Peeling the hard pod and eating the sweetish sour pulp is a feeling which is difficult to describe. It is so sour and leaves a tingling sensation on your tongue. It is almost like sucking a lime.  Most Indian homes have a box of tamarind (which is shelled, deseeded and salted). Take a lime sized piece and soak in hot water, to extract the juice. Discard the pulp and use the juice/paste. You can find tamarind concentrates at most Asian / Indian supermarkets. This is easy to use and is a must have in an Indian household. Different tamarind pastes taste different so be cautious with it.Pad thai noodles are rice flat noodles. This recipe serves 4

Ingredients
8 oz / 250 g Pad Thai noodles

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion chopped

1 cup broccoli

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 carrot, sliced lengthwise

½ cup bok choy (optional)

1 tbsp garlic, chopped

1 packet tofu – medium firm or firm diced (optional)

½ cup spring onion or/ and bean sprouts

½ cup peanuts, chopped

Cilantro/ coriander leaves for garnish

Lime for garnish

For sauce:

½ tbsp tamarind paste concentrate (or 2 tbsp tamarind extract from tamarind)

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

 1-2 tbsp chilli sauce (depending on the spice level)

¼ cup vegetable stock or water

salt to taste

Boil water in a large pan. Turn off heat, immerse noodles in the hot water for about 10-15 minutes until just pliable. Drain, keep aside

Directions:

In a wok/ saute pan, heat 1 tbsp oil, toss in the tofu and pan fry. Keep aside

Add the rest of the oil, fry onions and garlic for a minute and then add rest of vegetables

Stir fry till al dente

Add noodles and tofu and mix

Mix all ingredients for sauce and pour ¾ of sauce in.

Mix and taste, add more sauce if required. Season with salt if required

Garnish with peanuts, spring onions, cilantro, bean sprouts and lime

Bruschetta for Appetizers

This is one of the easiest appetizers you can make. Sometimes, this is our dinner, especially on a hot summer day. It sounds very fancy but believe me it is very simple to make and scrumptious!

Here I have two recipes, Bruschetta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Bruschetta with Basil and Tomato, Drizzled with Balsamic.

Ingredients
Bruschetta with Basil and Tomatoes
  • 1 loaf of french loaf or good crusty bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes or a 250 grams of cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 8-10 basil leaves, washed and chopped
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Bruschetta with Basil and Tomatoes
  • Place sliced bread in a heated grill/ toaster or on pan.
  • Once done, slice garlic into half and rub on the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and place on a plate
  • Dice tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Remove seeds. Drain and place in bowl
  • Add basil, salt and pepper
  • Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and mix.
  • Taste and season
  • Spoon on the bread slices. Spoon the juices on the bread too. The juives have a lot of flavour.
Bruschetta with Sauteed Mushrooms
  • 1 loaf of french loaf or good crusty bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 200 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried herbs or 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions

Bruschetta with Basil and Tomatoes
  • Place sliced bread in a heated grill/ toaster or on pan.
  • Once done, slice garlic into half and rub on the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and place on a plate
  • In a saucepan, heat a tsp of oil and add onions and garlic
  • Once golden, add mushrooms and stir fry. Add spices, salt and pepper
  • Fry till onions are caramelized and mushrooms well cooked
  • Spoon on bread and serve
  • Optional: Top with some cheese and put it under a grill till cheese melts and serve

Stir fry Dumplings/ Momos

Last week I bought some chinese dumplings. They used to be something I liked to eat as a snack. The last ten years in India I was introduced to momos, they are tibetan dumplings and were available everywhere, small stalls outside supermarkets to restaurants and I loved them.

My friends Angie and Upesh invited us for dinner and made momos. They make some of the best, tasty momos. After eating their momos, everything else paled in comparison. If I had their momos, I would just eat them plain.

Once, in a small food truck, I ate momo chilli fry. This can be considered an indian-chinese dish. I tried making something similar but added more vegetables to make it a wholesome meal and easy one to make on a weekday. I found some enoki mushrooms which I used other than the button mushrooms. You could use any dumplings you choose, vegetarian or otherwise. I love adding dumplings/momos to soups in the winter too.

Ingredients:

8-12 momos  / dumplings

½ large onion or 1 medium onion

1 tbsp chopped garlic

½ tbsp chopped ginger

1 carrot – sliced lengthwise

5-6 broccoli flowerets

4-5 mushrooms, sliced

Capsicum/ Green peppers – ½ to 1, sliced

Baby corn (optional)

Green chillies (optional)

Soy sauce approx. 1 tbsp

Red chilli / siracha sauce approximately 1 tbsp

Rice wine vinegar 1 tsp

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Spring onions- 2 tbsp chopped

Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat oil in a pan or wok

Add momos/ dumplings and pan fry them. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, add a tsp of oil if required. Add onions, garlic and ginger and fry till golden. Add green chillies if you want it extra spicy. I did not add it.

Add veggies (choose 2-3 vegetables of your choice) and stir fry till crisp. I usually add mushrooms first and cook and add the others later so they do not get overcooked.

Add sauces and salt. Be careful with the salt as soy sauce has salt. Also, different soy sauces have different sodium levels.

 Add the dumplings/ momos and stir fry.

Sprinkle chopped spring onions and serve hot as an appetizer or a main. Enjoy!

Stir-Fried Okra with Peanuts

Okra is called ladies finger in India, maybe because it is slender and long. In hindi it is bhindi, in malayalam and tamil it is vendakka and kannada it is bendekai. When I was a kid, it was considered a ‘super food’ and good for the brain, my mom would say.

Okra has a bad rap for its sliminess. But there is a way to cook it properly and not have the sliminess. I had written about it sometime back. Here is the link. https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2018/10/19/vendakkai-pachadi-okra-in-a-spicy-tangy-coconut-gravy-why-is-okra-slimy-and-what-can-you-do-science-in-the-kitchen/

I ate this dish sometime back in Telengana and have tried to recreate it. It is crispy and spicy with a hint of sourness. Try it, you will love it.

Be sure to first wash the okra and wipe it dry. Cut into pieces and if you have time, spread on a sheet and leave it out for couple of hours. Some people also vouch that microwaving it for a few minutes does the trick.

  • 250 grams okra, cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Directions
  • Roast peanuts and keep aside
  • Heat oil in pan. Once hot, add mustard, urad dal, asafoetida and curry leaves
  • When mustard splutters, add onion and ginger and fry till golden brown
  • Add okra, salt and fry till crisp. Add spice powder and mix
  • Add peanuts and saute for a few minutes
  • Turn off the stove and add lemon juice and mix well.
  • Serve hot