SPENAT SOPPA (SPINACH SOUP)

The other day, when we were sitting at the dinner table and asking the kids to tell me what their favorite food was. (Now that they are young adults they hardly complain about my food and eat what I make). so I asked them to list 5 of their favourite dishes that I make. Some of them were poori masal, gnocchi, masala dosa, pasta and spinach soup amongst others. The spinach soup was something my older son liked and one of the only soup he would eat as a kid. It has been over 10 years since I have made it and it had totally slipped my mind.So I was surprised that he mentioned it. The recipe was from my ICA recipe book from my Sweden days. It is a pretty simple and easy soup and calls for frozen chopped spinach since fresh vegetables were not as easily available in the winter. Of course, I am sure things have changed, I lived there 20 years ago.

You need cream for this soup, and as I am lactose intolerant I kept some aside before I added the cream. I served it with some homemade ciabatta bread, cheese and maple butter. I am pretty happy with the way the bread turned out. I have tried making bread and it never comes out perfect and my goal is to learn to make perfect bread by the time the stay-at-home orders are done or till I run out of flour and yeast.

This soup has very few spices, and lacks strong flavours but not bland. Most of the flavour comes from the buljong or the soup cubes. I used 2 tsp of Better than Bouillon but you can use any knorr vegetarian soup cubes (or maggi cubes). I sprinkles some parmesan cheese and chilli flakes at the end for more flavour

Ingredients

  • 500 g frozen spinach, thawed lightly and chopped (fresh spinach can be used, chopped)
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour (maida)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bouillon cubes (stock or soup cube- knorr or maggi)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 tsp crushed chilli pepper (optional)

Directions

  • Heat butter in pan
  • Add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes
  • Add spinach and saute for a few minutes
  • Sprinkle all purpose flour and mix
  • Add water and broth cubes. Cover and cook for around 10 minutes
  • Mix in cream and add salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • Serve with bread or a boiled egg
  • Sprinkle cheese and chilli flakes and serve hot

maple butter

A couple of months ago, we were at this fish and steak restaurant, McGraw’s, supposed to have the best fish and steak in this part of the world. It is always crowded and everytime we go, we see at least one person there who is a neighbor or from the University we work in. So it is either really good (which it is) or we live in a really small town.Anyway, they always have fresh bread and they serve with a butter. I usually do not touch the butter, but once I tasted it and it was the best. It tasted like desert; it was heaven on a platter. When I asked what it was they said it was maple butter.

I had to figure out how to make it and of course, I googled. Some of them said to boil maple syrup to certain temperature and to check using a candy thermometer which I don’t own. I found this really easy recipe in All Recipes and The Spruce Eats. Believe me when I say it is simple to make and OH! So Good! Spread it on freshly baked bread or a muffin or maybe even on a pancake or waffle!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • a pinch salt
  • a pinch cinnamon or pumpkin spice

directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and with an electric mixer, beat till soft and fluffy
  • Serve with warm toast
  • Can be stored in a bowl or rolled in parchment paper for later use.

Coriander Chutney

Definition of Chutney (Merriam Webster) a thick sauce of Indian origin that contains fruits, vinegar, sugar, and spices and is used as a condiment

In India we make many different chutneys; from many different vegetables, fruits and herbs. Everyone has their variations. I have made cilantro/ coriander chutney with adding cilantro to ingredients of coconut chutney. But this recipe is a variation.

Here are some chutneys from my previous posts:

https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2020/01/18/chatpata-chutneys/

https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2019/10/24/my-moms-tomato-thokku-chutney/

https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2018/11/30/spinach-chutney-basale-soppina-chutney/

https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2020/01/24/raji-chittis-special-carrot-chutney/

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coriander leaves/ cilantro
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 2 tbsp urad dal
  • 2 tbsp channa dal
  • a pinch asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a sauce pan. Add asafoetida, channa dal, urad dal, red chilli and fry till golden brown
  • Add green chilli and chopped ginger and fry
  • Add chopped cilantro and mix. Turn off heat
  • Grind cilantro mixture with coconut. Add salt and tamarind and grind to a smooth texture with some water. Transfer to a bowl
  • Take 1 tsp oil. Add mustard and curry leaves. When mustard seeds splutter, pour over chutney and serve
  • Serve with idli, dosa or a spread for sandwiches or even a dip
Dosa served with chutney and bitter gourd curry

Masala Vadai/ Paruppu Vadai-Deep Fried Lentil Patties

Today is a cold snowy day. Coming back from work driving in the snow makes me want to sit near the fireplace eating some vadas or pakodas. Here is a recipe for masala vada. They hit all the right spots – hot, deep fried, spicy and crispy! Have it with a cup of tea or coffee or any drink of your choice.

Masala vadai/Vada is a popular (and one of my favourite) snack from South India. It is another easy to make snack is a great potluck food or an appetizer. You could serve this with coconut chutney or coriander chutney or eat it by itself.

Masala vadai brings back memories of traveling in a train anywhere in the South, where hawkers come selling hot vadais at every station. The smell of the vadai reaches you even before you can see the hawker, serving you the vadas on newspaper. These made long train journeys fun, eating different hot deep fried snacks depending on the region and station, every station famous for certain snacks. When I moved to Sweden, we would eat falafels which were the closest we could get to masala vadais.

Try it and let me know what you think. This recipe makes around 15 vadais.

Ingredients:

1 cup channa dal

1 red chilli

1-2 green chilli

1-inch ginger

2 onions, chopped finely

8 – 10 curry leaves

2 tbsp chopped cilantro/ coriander leaves

salt to taste

oil for frying

Directions:

Wash and rinse channa dal

Soak in water for 2 hours (to hasten the process soak in hot water for an hour)

Drain and set aside 2 tbsp channa dal

Grind the rest of the dal coarsely, with chillies, ginger and curry leaves.

Transfer to a bowl, add the rest of the channa dal, onions, cilantro and salt and mix well.

Heat oil.

Flatten a ball of the mixture, and slide it into the hot oil. Fry them for a few minutes till it is golden brown, then turn around and fry.

Once golden and crisp, remove with slotted spoon and remove excess oil on a paper towel.

Serve with chutney or by itself.

Raji Chitti’s Special Carrot Chutney

Here is another repost from 2 years ago. Enjoy!

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my chitti (aunt) to give me some of her favorite recipes. I was expecting a traditional recipe but she sent me a carrot chutney recipe instead – very different. When I made it, it was really good and easy to make – just the right amount of spice, sweet and sourness. I served it with dosa, but this chutney will surely go well with rotis, idlis or even as a sandwich spread.

I love the way she sent me the recipe.

 Ingredients: 

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  • 2 grated carrots (3/4 cup)
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 10 -12 shallots
  • 1/2 cup chopped coconut
  • 2-3 green chillies (depending on the spice level you want)
  • 1- 2 tsp coriander leaves/ cilantro – optional
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • salt to taste

To temper:

  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp oil

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a pan. Add shallots and fry. Add the rest of the ingredients and fry well till tomatoes are well cooked.
  • Grind the above ingredients.
  • In the same pan add oil for tempering and add the tempering ingredients. When the mustard splutters, add to the chutney and serve.

Try it, it is really good!

Chatpata Chutneys

I am reposting this post from last year. Enjoy!

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!