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
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Instant Pot Methi Palak Dal


I recently bought an instant pot (which I may have mentioned in an earlier post). I was introduced to it last summer when a few of my friends owned one. I had decided then that I need one (not want one but need one!). The first dish I made with that was a biryani and my son who is very picky about biryani and has previously told me that mine are not as good as the restaurant ones, said that it was ‘surprisingly’(!) very good. I then tried making khichdi with it. In both instances I sautéed the vegetables in a pan before adding it to pressure cook.

For those who are new to an instant pot, you can pressure cook, steam, sauté, make soups and stews, slow cook and even make yogurt with it. So, it eliminates the need for a pressure cooker, slow cooker and rice cooker. You just need one appliance. In the more expensive ones, you have smart options where you can sit at work and start your instant pot via wi-fi. I do not see the need for that for me.

My friend, Angie, asked me to send pictures and so I decided to make dal using the instant pot and use it to sauté and pressure cook. I was quite surprised that I could do all of it in one pot and when I realized that after pressure cooking, the liquid was too much (had added more water than I should have), I could also cook off the liquid and make a thicker dal. I am quite excited with the possibilities. Of course, you may ask why not use a regular pressure cooker which does the same. If you know me, you would also know that I love my kitchen gadgets. Also, I always had a pressure cooker and a rice cooker, now I just need one.

This recipe can be made in a regular pressure cooker too.

The recipe follows:

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1-3 green chillies, chopped (depending on the spice level)
  • 1 cup methi (fenugreek) leaves, washed
  • 1 cup palak (spinach), washed and chopped
  • 1 cup toor dal (lentils) or yellow moong dal, washed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • salt to taste
  • coriander leaves (cilantro), to garnish

Directions

  • Turn on the instant pot and press saute
  • Add oil and add onions, garlic and ginger and saute till golden brown
  • Add tomatoes and chillies and cook down
  • Add methi and spinach and saute for a minute
  • Add dal, water, spices and salt and cover the instant pot
  • Change settings to pressure cook (high)
  • Once it is cooked (if using regular pressure cooker, let it whistle 3 times), wait for the pressure to be released and open
  • If you would like thicker consistency, let it cook (saute in instant pot) till the required consistency
  • Garnish with coriander leaves/ cilantro
  • Serve with rice or rotis or have as a lentil soup with a dollop of yogurt

Simple Eggplant Curry

If you have been following my blog, you will notice that one of the vegetable I really like is eggplant. Continuing with my basic recipes with very few ingredients; this is an easy dish that even a college student can make.

Ingredients

  • 6-7 baby eggplants or 4-5 long eggplants
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp dessicated or freshly grated coconut (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil + 2 tsp oil
  • coriander leaves/ cilantro (optional)

Directions

  • Chop onions, garlic and tomatoes
  • Slit eggplant or cut into pieces
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan
  • Add chopped onions and garlic and fry till golden
  • Add the tomatoes and saute till cooked
  • Add coconut and keep aside to cool
  • In a chopper or blender, pulse till fine (optional)
  • In the same pan heat 2 tsp oil. Add eggplant and fry for a few minutes
  • Add the paste and spices and cook
  • Add a quarter cup of water if required and cook till the eggplant is cooked
  • Add more seasoning is required
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro
  • Serve with rice or rotis

Frugal Pasta

Moving house is never easy, leave alone moving across the ocean. Here I was on the 2nd day in a new place and home with just the basic kitchen starter kit and some spices to tide me by till my shipment arrives (many weeks later). Today was my first day of work too. Returning from work, I decided to make a super simple pasta. I had been eating out for almost a month while packing and getting ready to move that I decided I needed to start cooking. I had bought rice and lentils, but cooking them without a cooker seemed time consuming and pasta seemed the easiest – one pot dish. I had some pasta, vegetables and some spices. I did not have measuring utensils, so they are approximate measurements as cooking should always be. Enjoy!

Ingredients
  • 500 g pasta (1 pound)
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1-2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 big or 2 small capsicum
  • 6 stuffing mushrooms or 1 packet button mushrooms (250g / 8 oz), sliced
  • approx 1 cup fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp garlic and herb spice (or mixed italian spice)
  • a dash of cayenne pepper (or red chilli flakes)
Directions
  • Cook pasta according to the box
  • In a pan, heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes
  • Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes
  • Now add the carrots and capsicum and saute. Take care that the veggies are crisp
  • Add spinach and let it wilt
  • Add some salt and spices and mix well. Serve hot
  • you can sprinkle some cheese on top

Stuffed Baby Eggplants

The other day, I found the most fresh baby eggplants. Eggplants are a favourite in our house and I could not resist making this. It is easy to make and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 10 baby eggplants
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 2 tbsp channa dal
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut
  • 3 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste

Directions

  • Wash eggplants and slit eggplants without cutting them completely
  • Sprinkle salt and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. This makes them less bitter
  • Wash well and drain
  • Roast chillies, coriander and channa dal in 1 tsp oil for a few minutes till they are golden. Be careful as they will burn fast
  • Remove and keep aside
  • In the same pan, roast coconut till golden
  • Grind the coconut and chilli-coriander-channa dal mixture to a paste. Add a tablespoon of water if required
  • Stuff the paste into the eggplants
  • Heat remaining oil. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves
  • When mustard splutters, add turmeric powder, eggplants, salt and tamarind paste and cook on low flame
  • If required, add 3-4 tablespoons of water and cook till done
  • Serve with rice, roti or bread or just eat it with a dollop of yogurt

Malini’s Mavinkai Chitranna (Raw Mango Rice)

My friend, Malini designs clothes. For the past ten years I have been wearing clothes designed by her. Her creativity does not stop there; she is an amazing cook too. This is her recipe. Do try it out.

In this recipe, we use raw mango and usually the mango used for pickles. Those mangoes are much more sour than the totapuri mango, which is nice to eat with some salt and chilli powder. Because the mangoes are very sour, the number of chillies added are more. Even then the dish does not turn out very spicy because the sourness balances the spiciness. Some jaggery is added to balance the flavours. I make a big batch of this every year and freeze them in batches. This way, i can still make mango rice when the mango season is over.

Mavinkai Gojju (Mango Paste)

Ingredients
  • grated raw mango 2 cups
  • 1 tbsp methi seeds
  • 10-12 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp jaggery (brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
Directions
  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add methi seeds and red chillies and fry for a few minutes on a low flame
  • Grind methi-chilli mixture with the other ingredients to a fine paste
  • This paste can be stored in the freezer. Freeze in small containers for a one time use

Mango Rice

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mango paste
  • 3 cups cooked basmati rice (or any left over rice)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a pinch asafoetida
  • 2 tbsp curry leaves
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp powdered dry coconut or grated coconut (optional)
  • a handful of roasted peanuts (optional)
Directions
  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and red chillies
  • When mustard splutters add the rice and mango paste and mix gently and thoroughly
  • Sprinkle coconut powder and peanuts and mix
  • Serve hot with raita or yogurt or papad or potato chips