Thursday, January 22, 2015

Okra - Lady's Fingers with potatoes - Dry Stir Fry

I like the name ladies fingers for the vegetable much better than its name I refer to it most often now - okra. Okra has long been a favorite vegetable when stir fried just with onions and green chilies like this recipe or this one cut lengthwise.

Whenever I stir fry okra I think of my friend who moved from Maharashtra to my home town. Chapathis or rotis were not a popular lunch box item those days. While this friend always brought chapathis with these amazing side dishes but the one I remember most was the okra stir fry.

I was reminded of that when I started making this recipe. While the two recipes linked above will work perfectly with soft and airy chapathis today's recipe will be even better.

In a cast iron smear with oil and dry roast the okra till it is almost cooked. When the okra is sauteing in another wide mouthed pan heat oil, add seasonings followed by the green chilies and onions.
Cut the potatoes into small thin strips. Add to the sauteed onions and stir fry for 4-5 minutes.
Add the chili, turmeric, cumin powders and salt, followed by the tomato paste and saute so they are well mixed. Add 1/2 tbsp of water if required while the potatoes are cooking
Add the roasted okra and let the potatoes and okra continue to cook for another 7-8 minutes till both vegetables are cooked and it is nice and dry.

Okra with Potatoes -Stir Fry
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:30 minutes
  1. 1 lb of okra/lady's fingers, cut the tips outs and chop into small thin rounds
  2. 2 Potatoes peeled and cut into thin slices
  3. 1/2 cup of diced onions
  4. 4-5 green chilies slit
  5. 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  6. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  7. 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  8. 1 tbsp tomato paste
  9. 1/2 tbsp oil
  10. seasonings: cumin and mustard seeds

  1. In thick bottomed pan or cast iron pan coat with oil and add the cut okra and saute with regular stirring till most the slime is gone and the okra is almost cooked 8-10 minutes.
  2. While the okra is roasting heat another saute pan and add the remaining oil and when hot add the seasonings. When the mustard pops add the onions and green chilies and saute till they are translucent.
  3. Add the thinly sliced potatoes and saute for another 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the turmeric, chili, cumin powders and salt, mix and add the tomato paste and mix again. Let it cook till the potatoes are almost cooked. Add 1/2 tbsp of water if required.
  5. Add the roasted okra and continue to saute for another 7-8 minutes till everything is cooked and is nice and dry. Once the okra is added do not add any more water.
  6. Serve as a side for chapathis or any rice dish.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Millet (Pearl and Finger Millet) Roti (flat bread)

In my quest to limit the amount of wheat I came up with a variation to the regular old wheat chapthis to include millets and the end results was tastier than the original. The good thing is compared to even a few years ago millet grains and flour are readily available in most Indian grocery stores here in the US.

I bought a bag of bajra flour (pearl millet/cumbu) to use for making dosai. I usually mix the bajra flour with idli/doasi batter that is sour. Trying to make chapthis with the bajri flour was the next logical step. In Rajasthan where bajri roti is a staple it is made with all bajri flour and that was not the roti I was trying to make. I have used a combination of pearl and finger millets along with wheat flour.

Take the chapathi flour(atta) in a bowl. Add the finger millet flour (ragi mavu).
Add the pearl millet(cumbu mavu).
Add the whole wheat flour, the curd and salt.
Add 1/2 cup of water first and using your fingers mix the flour with the water to make a stiff but pliable dough.
The dough should not be too wet or too dry. Apply oil on top and let it rest for at least 20 minutes or as much as 2-3 hours.
Take a small lemon sized piece of dough and roll it out into a 3-4 inch diameter circle.
Heat a griddle and when hot transfer the rolled dough and let it cook till bubbles start to appear. Smear some oil,
flip and cook on the other side.

Adding the millet flour makes rolling the chapathis much easier and they are also much softer than plain wheat flour chapathis when cooked. A little care is needed while rolling out the dough as there is not much gluten and it does not stretch and tends to break if rolled too much.

Millets Chapathi/Roti
Preparation Time:15 minutes + 20 minutes rest time
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 1 cup chapathi flour (atta)
  2. 3/4 cup of finger millet flour (ragi mavu)
  3. 1 cup of pearl millet flour (cumbu mavu)
  4. 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  5. 2 tbsp of plain yogurt/curd (avoid for a vegan version)
  6. salt to taste
  7. 1/2 tsp of oil

  1. Whisk the flours together along with the salt. Add in the curd and add about a 1/4 cup of water.
  2. Mix in the flour with the water so the mixture comes together into a stiff but pliable dough. Take care not to add too much water while making the dough and not too little that it is dry.
  3. Apply the oil over the dough and let it rest for 1/2 hour or as much as 3-4 hours.
  4. Take a lemon size ball of dough and roll it out into a circle about 3-4 inches in diameter. Use some dry wheat flour to dust while rolling.
  5. Heat a griddle/tawa and when hot transfer the rolled chapthis on to the hot griddle. Cook on one side and when bubble starts to appear flip and cook on the other side. Apply oil if needed.
Serve with curry of choice.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cauliflower with Kale - Stir Fry

On the trip to Costa Rica the food while very different from Indian food with barely any spices we felt right at home eating their typical food. The rice and beans, the corn tortillas all kept me from craving Indian food. Also an unexpected benefit of eating different foods is the realization that eating simple foods makes the body feel so much better.

The first few days of our trip we stayed at Tiskita jungle lodge which is a family run operation and it felt like we had stayed with family. The best part is we got home cooked meals. Where ever we stayed during the trip, in the mornings there was always rice and beans, eggs, fresh fruits and also toast, the baked goods like muffins, banana breads and delicious jellies made with the local fruits. They also had stir fries made with cabbage, carrots, green beans etc which went perfectly with the tortillas. I completed avoided the bread and wheat products not on purpose but because I did not need to and realized how much lighter I felt.

Rice when eaten in limited quantities is actually a good thing. It is a lot lighter than wheat for sure. I did not know there were that many different ways of cooking raw bananas and tapioca. While I normally avoid salads but when made with a light fruity dressing it is a thing to be enjoyed.

Back here I decided too go easy on wheat based foods not because I about to turn gluten free or anything but have been trying to avoid junk food which is usually made with wheat and it has been a win win.

Cauliflower I hear might be the vegetable of the year and combined with the yesteryear craze - kale this is a delicious side dish that goes well with just about anything. You can substitute kale with any green of choice.

Cauliflower with Kale - stir fry
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 1 head of cauliflower separated into florets
  2. 2-3 cups of finely chopped kale
  3. 1/2 cup of chopped onions
  4. 3-4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  5. 1 tbsp grated ginger
  6. 1/2 -1 tbsp of red chili powder
  7. 1/4 cup of finely chopped tomatoes
  8. 1 tsp of oil
  9. seasonings: cumin seeds
  10. salt to taste

  1. Boil water in a pot and cook the cauliflower in it for 4-5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a wide mouthed saute pan heat the oil and add the cumin seeds and let it seem for 30 seconds. Add in the onions and saute till they turn translucent.
  3. Add in the garlic cloves and ginger and saute for a minute.
  4. Add in the tomatoes and saute till they turn mushy and soft.
  5. Add the chopped greens and saute till they wilt and then add the cauliflower florets with the salt and chili powder.
  6. Saute for about 8-10 minutes till they all come together.

Serve as a side dish with rice or chapathis.

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