Spicy Healthy Yogurt Dill Dip

This is a quick and easy dip to make and a big hit! It is healthy since we use yogurt instead of sour cream.

I always thought dill was an exotic herb until I realized it was sabakki / sabbasige soppu and available fresh everywhere in India. Sprinkle some fresh chopped dill goes well with baby potatoes; this was very common in Sweden.

For this dip, I started with a paste of chilli and garlic, which can be made ahead and saved for a few weeks in the fridge. Of course, it gets mellow as the weeks pass. I use this paste as part of a vinaigrette for salads too. If you have this paste in the fridge, you can whip up this dip with ease. Last year, my friend. Mohua, gave me a bottle of the chilli garlic paste, which I have since recreated.

Ingredients

  • 10 green chillies
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups yogurt or greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill leaves or 1 tsp dried dill
  • a dash of lime juice

Directions

  • Add chillies, garlic, and vinegar to a blender and blend to a fine paste. Save in a glass jar till later use.
  • If using regular yogurt, place muslin cloth in a colander and the colander in a bowl to collect all the liquid.
  • Pour yogurt into the colander and let it sit.
  • Leave it for an hour or for up to 4-5 hours. I usually keep it in the fridge overnight.
  • Place hung yogurt in a bowl. Add 1/2 to 1 tbsp chilli garlic paste, dill, salt and a dash of lemon juice.
  • Check for taste and add more chilli garlic paste if required.
  • Serve with chips or pita bread.
  • For a no carb diet or for a healthier version, serve with carrot, cucumber and celery sticks.
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Spicy Stuffed Chilli Bhaji

On a cold wintry day or on a rainy day, this is the best dish to eat – hot, spicy, deep-fried goodness. A plate of bhajis, a hot steaming cup of tea or coffee, a good book and a comfortable chair – company optional.

I often see bhajis being fried in street corners in carts, the smell of the bhaji wafting across the street calling your name. Most often, I resist, because one cannot stop at one bite. My mouth is watering while I write this post, just thinking of those bhajis. You can use the same batter and dip slices of potatoes, raw banana, onions or cauliflower pieces, and deep fry.

Usually, chilli bhajis are not stuffed in the south of India and if they are, a mixture of tamarind paste and salt is applied on the inside of the chillies. Here I have stuffed them with potatoes and onions.

Ingredients

  • 5 green peppers (preferably banana peppers or slightly large peppers) – calculate one per person or more
  • 1 cup boiled and mashed potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 inch ginger, chopped (optional)
  • 1 green chilli, chopped fine (optional)
  • 1 tsp chopped coriander leaves/ cilantro (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • For Batter: 1 cup gram flour (besan/ kadale maavu)
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • To deep fry: 2 cups vegetable oil

Directions

  • Wash and slit chillies and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Keep aside
  • In a pan, take 1 tsp oil, When hot, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add onions and fry. Add ginger and chillies.
  • When onions are golden brown, add mashed potatoes, salt and mix. Add cilantro. Keep aside and let it cool.
  • To make the batter, add all ingredients in a bowl, slowly add water and mix. The consistency should be of pancake batter.
  • Stuff 1-2 tsp of potato mixture into the chillies. (When I ran out of potato mixture, I stuffed some with an onion-chilli mixture.
  • Heat oil in a wok.
  • Add a drop of batter in the oil to see if it is hot. The batter should sizzle and rise to the top
  • Dip stuffed chillies into batter and deep fry till golden brown. Turn every few minutes to make sure they are golden on both sides.
  • Take it out of the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
  • Serve as whole or sliced. Serve by itself or with chutney or ketchup

Vegan Lentil Mushroom Burgers

Leftovers, what do we do with that. Cooking for 2 or 3 is something I cannot do. In our family, we are small eaters but I still cook for an army. I can eat the same dish for another day, maybe. But then, I have a yearning to make something completely different with all the ingredients.

In my fridge, I had finely chopped sautéed mushrooms (which I usually have – I throw them in soups, in omelettes or in pasta), Indian mashed potatoes and soaked lentils and pita bread. The inspiration here was falafels. I threw the veggies and lentils together, some chopped onions and made a burger, tucked it in pita bread and dinner is ready.

These burgers are delicious, healthy and protein rich. If you have some of these leftover, which is highly doubtful, make a curry and toss them in.

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams mushrooms, (button, oyster or a mix of different mushrooms) chopped
  • 1 big potato, cooked and mashed
  • 1/2 cup channa dal (split chickpeas) or any lentil of your choice
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1-inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander/cilantro or parsley
  • 1-2 tbsp oil

Method:

  • Wash and soak lentils in water for at least an hour.
  • Grind coarsely in a mixer or food processor and keep aside.
  • In a frying pan, heat 2 tsp oil.
  • Add one chopped onions, garlic and ginger and saute till golden brown.
  • Add chopped mushrooms and saute until they are cooked.
  • Take off heat and cool Transfer to a bowl, add mashed potatoes, chopped chillies, rest of onions, cilantro, cumin powder, and lentils and mix.
  • Shape into patties, pack the mixture tightly so it will not break.
  • Place on an oiled baking tray.
  • Bake in a preheated oven (350ºF / 180ºC) for 15-20 minutes
  • It can also be fried in a pan. Heat some oil in a pan and pan fry them.
  • Turn them halfway through.
  • Serve on a burger bun or toasted pita bread.
  • Top with condiments of your choice (cheese, pickles, jalapenos, goat cheese, chutney, thinly sliced tomatoes or thinly sliced cucumbers)
  • This can be eaten without the bread or served as an appetizer with some chutney or sour cream.

Chatpata Chutneys

If you ask an Indian what their favourite chutney is, one will get multiple different answers. For me, it depends on what I am eating it with. With idli and sevai, it has to coconut chutney, with adai it is onion chutney, with sandwiches it would be a mint chutney, with flatbreads a sour and spicy chutney and so the list goes. Every family has their own versions of the chutney. I have already posted carrot chutney and spinach chutney. Here are a few more recipes. These chutneys can be served as an accompaniment or a side, a spread on bread or as a dip. It is easy and quick to whip up on short notice. (Chatpata means piquant or zesty.)

Peanut Chutney

Peanut or groundnut chutney is common in some parts of India, especially in Andhra Pradesh. It is almost like savory peanut butter with hints of onion, garlic, and coconut.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp channa dal
  • 1/4 tsp tamarind paste (you can substitute with 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
  • 3-4 red chillies (increase to 6 if you want it extra spicy)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 cup coconut (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup water

To Temper

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp urad dal
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 4-5 curry leaves

Directions

  • In pan roast peanuts (or use roasted peanuts). Keep aside
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add channa dal and chillies. Add onions, ginger, and garlic and saute till golden brown.
  • Add all ingredients (other than tempering ingredients) into a blender and grind. Add water. Grind till smooth.
  • In a pan, heat oil for tempering. Add ingredients for tempering. Once the mustard splutters, pour on the chutney and serve.
  • Tempering brings out the flavor of spices and the dish ‘pops’. If you do not have certain ingredients, adding just mustard is fine too.

Onion Tomato Chutney

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes chopped
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp channa dal
  • 2-4 red chillies (depending on the level of spice required)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • To temper – 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, a pinch asafoetida

Directions

  • Heat oil in a pan. Add channa dal, red chillies and fry for a minute.
  • Add onions and saute till golden brown.
  • Add tomatoes and saute till cooked well.
  • Grind with a few tablespoons of water.
  • In a pan, add oil and add ingredients for tempering.
  • Once the mustard starts spluttering, pour over chutney and mix.

Coconut Chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh coconut (chopped or grated)
  • 1-3 green chillies (depending on the spice level you would like)
  • 1/4 cup roasted channa dal
  • 1/4 tsp tamarind paste (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • To temper – 1 tsp oil, 1 red chilli, 1/2 tsp urad dal, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, a pinch asafoetida

Directions

  • In a blender, grind all the ingredients except the tempering ingredients
  • Heat oil in pan, add rest of ingredients for tempering
  • Once the mustard starts spluttering, pour over chutney and mix.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Mushrooms

The first time I ate stuffed mushrooms was in Sweden where the button mushrooms are bigger than what we get in India.  I remember friends going mushroom picking and always giving us a basket of foraged mushrooms, chanterelle among them. In the US, I got introduced to the portobello mushrooms which are meaty mushrooms and good for baking. I have loved mushrooms ever since.

This is a simple recipe. I stuff them with mushrooms, but the spices are different depending on the cuisine.

Stuffed Mushrooms – Italian

Ingredients:

  • Button mushrooms 10 pieces
  • onions 1 large chopped
  • garlic 4 cloves chopped
  • pesto 2 tbsp (recipe in a previous blog post)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp grated cheese (mozzarella) or goat cheese (optional)
  • 4 tbsp bread crumbs mixed with 2 tbsp walnuts.

Directions:

  • Wash mushrooms and pat dry.
  • Carefully pull out the stalk of the mushrooms and scoop out flesh from the mushroom. Do it carefully and avoid breaking the mushroom. Place cups on a plate.
  • Chop up the stalks and flesh and any broken mushrooms finely.
  • In a pan, add a teaspoon of oil. Add onions and saute till golden brown. Add garlic and chopped mushrooms and fry well till cooked and brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Let it cool. Add pesto to the mushroom-onion mixture. Season if required.
  • Stuff mushroom caps with the mixture.
  • Top with grated cheese or goat cheese. This is optional. You can also top with a mixture of breadcrumbs and nuts to make a vegan option. Drizzle with olive oil.
  • Heat oven to 200ºC (390ºF). 
  • Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve hot.

Indian Stuffed Mushroom

Instead of adding pesto, add 1/2 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder and 1/2 tsp chat masala. With the breadcrumbs and nut mixture, also add a tsp of chopped cilantro (optional). 

Hummus – Healthy and Easy to make

When I have guests, I have some easy appetizers and dips that I make. Hummus is one of them. I think the first time I ate hummus was at Oasis Falafel in Iowa city. It is a very small restaurant with maybe four tables but with the best falafel and hummus. Because I am lactose intolerant, I make this often, since it is dairy-free and of course healthy. I jazz it up with whatever catches my fancy that day and what I have in the pantry. Add olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted pumpkin and you get a different hummus.

Healthy Hummus

Ingredients:

1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 1 can garbanzo beans

4-5 garlic cloves

¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt to taste

1 pinch baking soda

1 tsp cumin powder

4-5 ice cubes 

Garnishes: cumin powder, chilli powder, roasted chickpeas, chopped parsley, roasted pine nuts or sesame seeds

Directions:

Soak dried chickpeas in water, overnight or for 6-8 hours.

Cook chickpeas with 2 cloves of garlic and some salt till soft. I use a pressure cooker and let it whistle for 3-4 times. It should be soft. Let it cool.

Strain (save the cooking liquid) and rinse the chick peas.

In a small saucepan, heat a tsp of oil and cook 2 cloves of garlic till soft. (Usually, raw garlic is added, but I prefer to cook it)

In a blender/ food processor, add the garlic, tahini and ice cubes and blend. The ice cubes make the tahini smooth by breaking down the fat. Blend for a few minutes.

Add chickpeas in small batches and blend. Add some chickpeas cooking liquid and blend. Add cumin powder and salt and blend till creamy. (Be careful with the salt, since salt was added while cooking the chickpeas and the liquid will also have salt). Add olive oil and blend.

Garnish it with any of the garnishes mentioned.

Serve with pita bread.

Olive Hummus

To the basic hummus recipes, add 3-4 tablespoons of oliveand blend for 20 seconds. Serve.

Olive Hummus

Pumpkin Hummus

To the basic hummus recipe add a couple of tablespoonsof roasted pumpkin and blend till smooth. This hummus is slightly sweet. Garnish with small pieces of pumpkin or roasted pumpkin seeds

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

To the basic hummus recipe add a couple of tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes and blend.