Vegan Indian Spiced Mix Vegetable Curry aka ‘Annakoot ki Subzi’

Hi there all!! How are you all doing? Its been a long while since I posted anything here. A lot changed in a year or so. I moved to a new country as 2018 rolled in. Wrapping everything up and starting a new life again in a new place, kept me quite busy for first couple of months. Life happened, some realisations and many changes! I am still very new to this country and I will have to spend some time to build up my experience here, quite looking forward to add another experience in my life book. I am glad though, that I haven’t completely abandoned my blog. Although a yearlong break, but it’s good to be back.

Holiday spirits are high everywhere, it’s the season again!  Just a couple of days back we all celebrated Diwali. It was a quiet and cosy celebration at my house. I did make a few things but nothing elaborate. Next day after Diwali, is when people celebrate ‘Gowardhan or Annakoot’. It is a Hindu festival and people celebrate it on the 4th day just after Diwali. There are all sorts of religious activities that happen all around and one of those is offering freshly cooked food to the Gods. What I remember from my childhood days, is my family used to make this curry along with other stuff like Kadhi (a yogurt-based curry/gravy/sauce), rice and chapatis. I grew up in a vegetarian family and food used to be quite seasonal and simple at my mum’s place. No wonder why I always prefer using seasonal ingredients in my cooking.

Image of veggies from farmer's market

The northern part of India begins to transition towards Winter and the festival of Diwali happens to fall around this time. Unlike Christmas, there is no fixed date for this festival, it depends on the Hindu calendar which I have no idea how that works. With the onset of winters, lots more vegetables and fruits start to make appearances in the farmer’s market. This is one another reason why this curry is made celebrating the arrival of winter produce. As this is part of the offering to the Gods, there is no onion and garlic in the savoury preparations. Many of the temples prepare this curry and serve along with Kadhi, rice and chapatis to the visitors. I still remember some of my visits to the local temples in my hometown where they used to organise these lunches. Simple food, full of flavours and soul satisfying!!

I tried to recreate the same flavours through my memory again this year with the local and seasonal produce that I could find here in my new abode.  One thing I would say, if you are planning to give this a try, do the sorting, washing and chopping of vegetables, a day in advance. Don’t get intimidated by the long list of ingredients, you don’t have to add it all. Whatever you can find at your greengrocer’s or your farmer’s market, just use that. The key is to use the seasonal veggies.


  • Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 60-70 minutes
  • Makes: 10-12 servings

INGREDIENTS

1st step-cooking vegetables

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 40 grams ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies, finely chopped
  • 250 grams/1 big round mooli, cubed
  • 300 grams/1 medium sweet potato, cubed
  • 270 grams/1 large white beetroot, cubed
  • 235 grams/1 large Chioggia beets, cubed
  • 262 grams/ 1 small pumpkin, skinned and cubed
  • 139 grams/ 2 pieces Jerusalem artichokes, cubed
  • 317 grams/2 medium aubergines (any shape), cubed
  • 227 grams/1 medium potato, cubed (I left the skin on)
  • 81 grams/4 runner beans, chopped
  • 185 grams/4 carrots, chopped into discs
  • 1 bunch radishes, cut into quarters
  • 100 grams, garden peas
  • 106 grams/1 bunch radish greens, roughly chopped
  • 96 grams/4 leaves of curly kale, roughly torn, tough stalks removed
  • 39 grams/leaves from 4 carrots, leaves only, stalks removed
  • 95-100 grams spinach

Spices, Seasonings & Garnish:

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida
  • ½ a teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt to taste

Cookware:

A 5-litre pan with a lid (pan 1)

2nd step-tomato tempering

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 12 grams ginger grated
  • 2 small green chillies, finely chopped
  • 344 grams/4 medium roma/plum tomatoes

Spices & Seasonings:

  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Cookware:

A small medium sauté pan (pan 2)


METHOD

  1. Separate greens from the other veggies.
  2. Heat oil and add cumin in pan 1. The moment they start sputtering, add asafoetida and quickly add all veggies except greens.
  3. Add salt and turmeric and sauté for a minute until all the veggies are coated properly in the spiced oil, lower the heat, cover and let it cook until they are soft. It will take around 20-25 minutes. Don’t add water as vegetables will loose water as they cook through.
  4. In the meantime, heat oil in pan 2, add cumin and as it sputters add asafoetida followed by ginger, green chilli and tomatoes.
  5. Let it simmer on low to medium heat until the tomatoes are cooked through (it will look like a thick tomato paste when it loses all its water). It should take about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Back to pan 1, check if the veggies are soft enough. If yes, add all the greens and mix.
  7. Now, mix the tomato paste from pan 2 along with garam masala into the veggies in pan 1. Let it simmer on medium heat for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Check for seasoning and garnish with fresh coriander before serving.

HINTS & TIPS

  • You can use any seasonal veggies available at your place.
  • Serve it either with freshly made chapatis or steamed basmati rice.
  • As its not a dry curry, it pairs nicely with rice.
  • Traditionally, it is served along with Kadhi ( a spiced yogurt based gravy), pickle and sun dried lentil papads (sort of flame roasted or microwaved crisps).

 

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Mung Dal Tadka – skinless split mung beans soup with Indian spices.

Autumn has officially started, even weather is showing signs of change in England. Trees are changing colour, it doesn’t feel like summers anymore. There is a nip in the air, the cool touch of the breeze silently whispers and says it’s that time of the year again!! Autumn is a transition period for me where I say goodbyes to the summer days with a heavy heart. It’s a change that happens every year though but the mind plays its own games.

This season definitely calls for something warm and comforting, and a bowl of steaming lentils is a good start for this transition, I suppose.  This dal recipe is what mum used to make quite often at home for lunch. Paired with a bowl of steamed basmati rice and some Indian accompaniments of papad, pickle and yogurt, this was one of the most loved. Simple, filling, comforting and without a doubt, full of flavours!!

 

Indian food uses lentils extensively and not just one kind, there is a huge selection of beans and lentils. These are then cooked in all sorts of different ways depending on the region you are. This dal is cooked in a North Indian style with a nice spicy tadka and a kick of green chilli just tantalizes the taste buds. I tried to be a bit clever and added curly kale while making this dal. I found this gorgeous kale at my local greengrocers and the moment I saw this beautiful fresh produce my head started buzzing with ideas to use it in my food. Oh, I so love cooking with fresh ingredients!!

curly kale-2

Although, I have used pressure cooker here, this can be made easily in instant pots or slow cooker. I have also used a spice blend (Mix Masala) in this recipe. This is a very fragrant spice blend and I use it often with dals. It’s easy to make at home and you can find the recipe here. Its optional but I would recommend using it, as it does lift the taste of the dal significantly.


  • Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30-35 minutes
  • Makes: 4-5 servings
  • Suitable for freezing

INGREDIENTS

For pressure cooking the dal

  • 1 cup of skinless split mung beans
  • 2 tablespoon each of arhar/toovar (split pigeon peas) dal and red lentils
  • 1 tomato skinned and chopped
  • ½ cup curly kale, roughly torn
  • 2 ½ cups of water

Spices:

  • ¼ teaspoon of asafoetida
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

Cookware

  • A 3-litre pressure cooker
  • Small pan for tempering
 

For tempering

  • 1 teaspoon each of cooking oil and ghee
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each of ginger and garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 green chillies, 1 chopped for tempering and 1 halved for garnish
  • 1 tomato skinned, cubed
  • 10-12 sprigs of coriander leaves, chopped

Spices:

  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder/paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon each of coriander and garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon of mix masala

 

METHOD

  1. In a pressure cooker add mung beans along with arhar and red lentils, 1 tomato, kale, asafoetida, turmeric powder, salt and water.  Bring it to a boil and then close the lid.
  2. Pressure cook the lentils for 5 minutes on high heat and then 15 minutes on medium.
  3. In the meantime, heat oil and ghee in a separate pan. Quickly add cumin seeds to the hot oil and as soon as it swells and start changing colour, add the shallots and fry for about a minute until translucent.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. Now add ginger and garlic and sauté for a few seconds, take care not to burn it. Add the tomato and sauté for a minute or two and then add all the ground spices, and sauté again finally for a minute.
  5. Take off the heat and add this to the dal.
  6. Drizzle some ghee, garnish with coriander and green chilli halves, serve hot.

HINTS & TIPS

  • Every dal has its own taste and although you can substitute with any dal, but the taste may differ.
  • Green chilli is optional. Omit these if you prefer it to be mildy hot, instead use padron peppers.
  • For a completely plant based recipe, use oil instead of ghee.

 

Mangal Kangtak – a North East Indian Green Peas Curry

India is such a diverse land that sometimes I feel one lifetime won’t be enough to understand and explore it fully. It’s overwhelming as well as fascinating at the same time! Whether it’s food, people, language; everything changes every few 100 kilometers in the country. That’s the level of diversity I am talking about !  Food has definitely given me an incredible chance to weave in the stories of my exploration of a country I grew up in.

I grew up in the central part of India and my food influences were mainly from the northern part. But lately this urge to explore my country further has grown and I realised I wasn’t really working towards it. While thinking how to be more involved and understand my native place, one day I saw on Instagram some food bloggers sharing their food in an Indian themed cook along. They pick a region from India and then cook several recipes as part of that theme. I had found a way to explore my country through food being thousands of miles away from it. The idea is to discover the previously unknown or non-famous recipes and try to bring them into mainstream instead of just cooking the popular cliché recipes.

So, this peas curry was my pick for the ‘Food from North Eastern region of India’ series.

North Eastern part is a completely new territory for me both in terms of food and travel. When I started doing my research, I was blown away with the rich culture this part of India has on offer. For a moment, I felt that I knew nothing about India. While reading, one part of my brain was fighting with the guilt of ignorance and the other part was inquisitive and intrigued by the new information it was scanning. Oh, I am so glad I became a part of this cook along, it has given a direction to my journey!

Mangal Kangtak is a recipe from the state of Manipur, one of the eight states of the North-Eastern region. I chose this recipe simply because peas are in season at the moment and also this recipe uses flat onions which I equated to leeks.

green peas-1

It just so happened that I found some wonderful young leeks at my local grocers. The joy of cooking with fresh and seasonal ingredients is pure bliss for me which is also very evident in the taste. Indian food and spices go hand in hand and so in this recipe, a blend of spices is used which uplifts the taste of fresh ingredients.  I would recommend to keep it the way it is and not tinker around too much, as too much spice or addition of garlic or any strong ingredient will take away the gentle and delicate taste of fresh peas and leeks.

Keep it simple, enjoy and smile…be a responsible consumer and try to live a sustainable life!!



INGREDIENTS

Raw Materials

  • 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil/any cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 ½ cup of leek with greens, finely chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, pureed
  • 3 cups of fresh green peas
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of hot water, additional
  • 8-10 roast potatoes
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Spices

  • 1 dried Kashmiri red chilli
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon each of coriander, cumin, kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and red chilli/paprika powder
  • salt to taste

Cookware

A large saucepan

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in a pan and saute leeks for a minute or two, until soft on a medium heat.
  2. Keeping the heat medium, add ginger and sauté for a few seconds. Add in the pureed tomato and cook until it reduces its water content and oil starts to surface up and around the pan i.e. thick paste like consistency.
  3. Add all the ground spices along with salt and stir for about a minute, again on a medium heat.
  4. Mix in the peas with the tomato mixture and sauté for about a minute or so and then add water. Bring it to a boil and cook until peas are cooked for about 8-10 minutes. Add more hot water if you want more gravy.
  5. Take off the heat, mix the roast potatoes with the curry and garnish with fresh coriander leaves before serving.

HINTS & TIPS

  • Serve warm with hot parathas (Indian flatbread without yeast) and a side salad of lemon pickled onions and some Indian chilli or mango pickle.
  • Instead of kasoori methi, you can also use fenugreek seeds powder.
  • Leeks can be replaced with spring onions.
  • You can add a touch of garam masala but don’t be tempted to use too much.
  • This recipe doesn’t use green chillies but you can add it as a garnish, if you prefer.

 

No Cook, Vegan Summer Spring Rolls with a Chilli – Garlic Peanut Butter Dip.

Have you ever tried these no cook spring rolls? If not then do it, these are super quick and really delicious!! Initially I was a bit hesitant to make these as I don’t like peanut butter. Yes, I can see your surprised face but it’s the truth. I do love peanuts though, just not the butter.

Actually, this recipe was selected for a monthly cook along in my cooking group, so with a brave heart I decided to go for it (I had the ketchup at the ready in case the peanut butter dip fails horribly!!). Thankfully though it never came to that, these rolls were an absolute surprise and that sauce was just – WOW!! What a fantastic recipe!! I loved it, he loved it and we gobbled these cylinders for our lunch…yumtastic!!

This month’s cook along taught me two things –

  1. It’s good to be brave and,
  2. Sometimes keep your inhibitions aside.

I think somehow our brain gets tuned to the food that we see and eat right from an early age and we become comfortable with a particular food style. For example, I am from India and that’s why I have a strong inclination towards Indian food and somehow believe that Indian recipes will turn out to be good despite the fact that recipe disasters happen all the time. Stepping out of your comfort zone is not always easy, and maybe that’s the reason for inhibition. That’s one of my many theories anyway!

That’s too much thinking, I am already starting to feel hungry. Back to the rolls, so I tweaked the original recipe to make it a more filling meal. The best part is, there was no cooking involved and the ingredients were all in my food cupboard. Only thing I bought were the rice papers. Quick to prepare as well and a no fuss food especially good for summers when you want something light and yet filling!! These rolls are vegan and dairy free.  For a gluten free option, replace couscous with any gluten free grain like millet or lentils. This recipe is really good for people with dietary restrictions. You might find rolling the cylinders a bit difficult initially but you will get the hang of it once you are onto the 3rd roll.

 

If you haven’t made these rolls yet, I would recommend to try these and free yourself from any inhibitions!!



INGREDIENTS

For Spring Rolls

  • 1 pack rice spring roll wrappers (mine had 12 in a pack)
  • 1 cup of couscous
  • hot water for couscous and warm water for soaking the rice papers
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 beet, skinned and diced
  • a bunch of romaine lettuce, roughly torn
  • a handful of fresh coriander and mint leaves, chopped
  • crushed sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

For Chilli-Garlic Peanut Butter Dip

  •  ¼ cup of smooth peanut butter
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 dried red chilli, soaked in hot water
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  •  juice of ½ lime
  • warm water

Kitchenware &  Kitchen Electricals

  • a large pie dish
  • a kettle
  • a small blender or hand blender

METHOD

For Spring Rolls

  1. Soak the couscous in hot water and let it sit for 15 minutes and after that fluff it up with a fork.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the dip as shown the section below.
  3. Once the couscous is done, add carrot, beet, lettuce and herbs to the couscous and season it with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour some water in the pie dish and soak in the rice papers for a second, take it out on a wooden board/plate.
  5. Now, spread a tablespoon or more of the filling just a finger away from the bottom edge of the rice paper. With wet hands, fold in sides over the filling overlapping each other and then roll up all the way from bottom to top tucking in the paper as you go along to ensure a snug fit wrap.
  6. Make all like these and keep it aside.

For the Dip

  1. In a blender, add all the ingredients and blend it into a paste with the help of some warm water.
  2. Adjust the thickness of the dip as per your liking with the help of warm water.

Serve it with the prepared rolls.


HINTS & TIPS

  • Make it a bit more exciting by using other veggies like cucumber, coloured peppers, coloured tomatoes, greens like baby spinach, kale, rainbow chard etc., whatever fancies your imagination.
  • These are best consumed fresh as they dry out if kept for long.
  • Quinoa, pearl barley or bulgur wheat can be a good substitute for the filling.


 

Sun-dried mung beans nuggets curry

Finally, I found sometime to put together this post for mung dal vadi subzi (mung beans nuggets  curry), a very simple but quite flavourful recipe. At my mum’s, this was known as ‘mongodi ki subzi’.  I visited India last year and surprisingly mum had already prepared these for me (the sun dried nuggets) which she then packed with me. How thoughtful was that!! Only mums can do that!!

Growing up, I remember every year mum used to make these sun-dried items like vadis & papads (poppadoms as is popularly known in the UK). Whole family used to participate in the process and that used to be so much fun especially for me and my brother. Our ulterior motive was that we both used to get time off to play on the terrace while mom, grandma and dad (aka the watchers) were busy preparing these (aka not looking). Those were the days!! Different ingredients, spices and the precise process that has been handed down the generations was so interesting to observe. Memories are still very fresh and I wish one day I get to relive that again!!

mung wadi

So, what are these? Good question! Lets start with mung beans, its a very popular name for green lentils nowadays. So, these are sun-dried nuggets of husked and split mung beans. The beans are soaked overnight and then in the morning grounded into a paste with some water. No salt and spice, only asafoetida goes in there (as per mom’s style).

India is hugely popular for its varied use of legumes. The sun-dried form is just another way of eating them. There is another variant called ‘Punjabi vadi’ which are again sun-dried but made with different kind of husked split lentil called “urid beans” (black gram) and are really fiery. So, if you are looking for some spice action, these are worth trying.

mung beans nuggets

Back to mung beans vadi, these are not spicy at all but have a very gentle and subtle taste. Another question is where you can find them in the UK? There are some online Indian grocers that stock both these kinds of vadis. You can try either Spices Of India or Red Rickshaw, both of them have a sizable stock of varied Indian groceries and provide fast home delivery.

This recipe is quite simple to stir up and it’s not heavy on spices. Also, no chopping of onion and garlic! This is an excellent recipe if you are a vegan and want to try something different. The flavours that bring it together comes from ginger, a touch of regular spices (turmeric, chilli powder and garam masala) and some radish leaves. Yes, radish leaves, you heard me right! 🙂

Radish farmers market

And radish pods!! In India both the leaves and pods are used in many stir fry recipes. I couldn’t find the pods but I picked some radishes with leaves from Shambles market in York. It’s not often I come across radish leaves that are fresh and not wilted.

Both the leaves and pods have a subtle peppery taste. I remember mum used to add radish pods sometimes to this curry to give it a nice peppery zing. Well, I still don’t own an allotment so can’t grow my own, but one day! For now, I will stick with radish leaves.


  • Preparation time : 10-15 minutes
  • Cooking time : 25-30  minutes
  • Makes : 3-4 servings

INGREDIENTS

Raw materials:

  • 3 tablespoons, rapeseed oil/cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, skinned & cubed
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped(optional)
  • 1 big/2 small (around 1 cup) potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup sun dried mung beans nuggets
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup radish leaves, roughly torn
  • fresh coriander for garnish

Spices:

  • 1 tablespoon, cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon, asafoetida
  • ½ teaspoon each of chilli, coriander and turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon, garam masala
  • Salt to taste

Kitchenware:

 A large saucepan and a spatula


METHOD

  1. Roast the mung beans nuggets on a low heat until they become golden brown, cool and crush into small pieces.
  2. Heat oil, add cumin and as it starts to sizzle, add asafoetida.
  3. Stir in ginger, green chilli (if using), tomatoes and all ground spices except garam masala with a little salt. Sauté for a minute.
  4. Now, add the potatoes and nuggets, mix everything and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add in 2 cups of water first and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and season it with salt. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes and nuggets are cooked. (If the gravy is too thick, add another cup of water.)
  6. Add the radish leaves and simmer further for about 5 minutes.
  7. Check for seasoning and garnish with coriander. Take off the heat and its ready to be served.

HINTS & TIPS

  • I like to have it with hot steamed basmati rice and a side salad of lemon pickled onions. It will be good with chapatis too.
  • If not radish leaves, there are numerous possibilities with other greens as well, like kale and chard.

Beetroot, carrot and tomato soup with a goodness of winter veggies.

Hey you lovely readers!! Hope you all are well and eagerly waiting for some spring sunshine to rejuvenate your spirits again. While I am dreaming of spring and summers, I realised that winters are still hanging around with a temperature of 3 degrees at my place. But hey no worries, that’s why we have soups. And you know what? This was one of mum’s favourite ways to sneak veggies in my food when I was little. This is a family recipe and it was especially popular during chilly winter months.

 

I really love this soup, as it is packed with abundant goodness of seasonal winter veggies like beetroot, turnips, kale, cavolo nero, sprouting broccoli and leeks and these all are disguised by the flavours of tomato, garlic and a dash of magical spices. I am not a fan of chunky soup as my picky eating instincts kick in, so I blended it into a nice and smooth puree, same way mum used to do it.

1_1

I also baked an olive and rosemary focaccia to go with this soup. The recipe I used for this focaccia is from the book ‘Bread’ by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno. There are lot of different types of bread you will find in this book from different regions which you rarely see in the bakery shops. I have tried a couple of recipes from this book and they were pretty good. Because there are already so many focaccia recipes on the internet, I thought I would excuse myself from adding another.

3

This is an excellent recipe for vegans and vegetarians too, just replace chicken stock with vegetable stock. It is also completely dairy free and gluten free ( use gluten free and dairy free stock cubes). Do try this tasty soup and let me know what you think…


  • Preparation time: 8-10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
  • Makes 4-5 servings
  • Suitable for freezing

INGREDIENTS

Raw materials:

Spices:

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 leek white, roughly sliced
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 small shallot, roughly sliced
  • 1 stick of celery roughly chopped
  • 1 turnip, roughly chopped
  • 4-6 florets of sprouting broccoli along with green stems all roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium size beetroot, roughly chopped
  • A handful of each roughly torn cavolo nero and kale leaves
  • 4 medium sized ripened tomatoes diced
  •  1 cube of each chicken and vegetable stock (optional)
  • 1 litre of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped chives for garnish
  • Extra virgin olive oil for a drizzle
  • 3-4 dried bay leaves
  • a tablespoon of whole black peppercorns

Cookware:

a 5 litre pressure cooker


METHOD

  1. Heat up olive oil in the pressure cooker and add the spices.
  2. Fry the onions, garlic, celery and leeks for about a minute and then add all the veggies and sauté for another minute.
  3. Add the stock cubes, mix and then add water.
  4. Bring it to a boil, then close the lid and let it pressure cook for 5 minutes on high heat and 20-25 minutes on medium heat.
  5. Take off the heat and blend it with a hand blender until you get a puree like consistency. Make sure your blender is heat proof, otherwise let it cool and then blend.
  6. Season it with salt as per taste, warm it up slightly and serve with a garnish of chives and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.