Vegan Onion Fritters / Onion Pakoras

I rarely deep-fry things in my kitchen and that’s why it has taken me all this time to post the most popular tea time snack of India. If you were to run a poll between samosas and pakoras, i am almost positive that pakoras will win hands down because its much easier to make and it requires basic, everyday ingredients to put together this tasty snack. On a cold, rainy day nothing is more comforting than a plate of warm pakoras and steaming hot chai. I have used onions in this recipe, but you can use cauliflower, potato, paneer (Indian cheese) or a combination of veggies. If you plan to make this for a party, fry them up and store them in an oven proof bowl covered tightly with aluminum foil at 300F, they will remain warm, crispy and fresh. You can eat these pakoras plain or sandwich them between two slices of bread with green chutney for a filling lunch.

pakora

Ingredients

1 large red onion, sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1/4 cup rice flour

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1/4 teaspoon asafetida

1.5 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 Thai green chili, roughly chopped

1 inch piece ginger, minced

5-6 curry leaves

chaat masala (optional)

salt

oil

Method

1. Place all the ingredients except oil and chaat masala in a bowl.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of hot oil and mix well to form a dry mixture. The water from the onion should be sufficient to bring the mixture together, sprinkle very little water if needed.

3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and when oil is hot, add a pinch of pakora batter. Do not make a ball or flatten them, it should be shapeless.

4. Cook on medium heat till golden brown and crispy.

5. Remove with slotted spoon and sprinkle chaat masala on top (optional).

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Paneer and Green Peas Curry/ Mattar Paneer

Paneer aka Indian cottage cheese has become quite popular all over the world. It is not dairy-free but rennet free, so certainly a good option for vegetarians. This cheese doesnt melt at high temperatures, therefore it can be safely used in curries. If you have dined at an Indian restaurant,  you would have seen a whole page dedicated to paneer curries. Hidden among  tikka andbutter masala, you might have seen this humble mattar paneer masala. Mattar in Hindi means green peas and this in my opinion is a healthier version compared to paneer butter masala or tikka masala unless you decide to make this vegan paneer tikka masala. Every family in India, especially North India may have their own authentic recipe for making this dish. This is my way of cooking this dish and it is quite flavorful without being greasy. You can use organic extra firm tofu and leave out the cream for a vegan version of this recipe. Serve this curry hot with rotis or rice and pair this with baked golden beets fritters along with masala coke for a simple and complete Indian meal.

mattar paneer

Ingredients

1 cup cubed paneer

1/2 cup green peas ( i used frozen)

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 large tomatoes, chopped

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 one inch piece cinnamon

2 cloves

1 teaspoon red chili powder (reduce the quantity if you want it less spicy)

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon garam masala (available in Indian grocery stores and Whole foods)

1 tablespoon cream

1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi (optional)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Method

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan. When oil is hot, add cinnamon and cloves, cook for 30 seconds.

2. Add chopped onions, cook until they turn golden brown.

3. Add minced garlic and ginger, cook for a minute.

4. Add chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt, cook till they turn soft.

5. Remove the pan from heat and let it cool. Grind to a smooth paste when completely cooled and set aside.

6. Add remaining oil to the pan and when its hot, add cubed paneer and pan fry till they turn golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

7. Add cumin seeds to the pan and let it cook for 30 seconds.

8. Add ground onion-tomato paste along with garam masala, turmeric, salt, coriander powder
and red chili powder.

9. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water based on your desired consistency and bring it to a boil.

10. Add green peas and give it a quick stir.

11. Add paneer cubes and mix well to coat in the spices.

12. Add cream, dried fenugreek leaves and cilantro, mix well.

13. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Split Bengal Gram Laddu

Laddu is a ball-shaped sweet popular in India. It is commonly made with chickpea flour, coconut or semolina. The most popular version of this sweet is called boondi laddu where tiny balls of chickpea flour are deep-fried in ghee or oil and then made into a larger ball. This split bengal gram laddu is fairly simple to make and its a protein rich dessert which can be made in under 30 minutes. The recipe below yields about 25 laddus. They store well in the refrigerator for up to a week, as long as you can resist eating them.

channa dal laddu

Ingredients

1 cup split Bengal gram/channa dal

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup clarified butter/ ghee

1/4 cup water

few strands of saffron soaked in a tablespoon of warm milk

1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom

15 cashews, roughly chopped

a pinch of edible camphor (optional)

Method

1. Soak split Bengal gram/channa dal in water for at least 2 hours.

2. Drain the water and grind into a coarse paste by adding very little water, if needed.

3. Heat clarified butter/ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Add cashews and roast them till they turn golden brown. Use a slotted spoon and remove cashews from the pan.

4. Add ground Bengal gram to the pan with clarified ghee and add water. Keep stirring constantly and cook till the raw smell goes away and all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

5. Add sugar, powdered cardamom, saffron and edible camphor. Mix well and cook till the mixture starts to thicken.

6. Turn off the heat and when its warm enough to touch, take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball.

7.  Repeat until all the mixture is used up.

Vegan Carrot Halwa- A Guest Post From Priya At Sugar Free Sweetheart

I feel very honored to introduce a very talented food blogger, Priya. Priya’s blog emphasizes on diabetic friendly food. I love her blog for its simplicity and more importantly her detailed illustrations and pictures. Priya readily agreed to my request for a guest post and promptly wrote back with her vegan, sugar-free carrot halwa recipe and of course her signature illustrations which i cant wait to show you all. All her recipes are suitable for diabetics, those watching their weight, cholesterol or salt intake. Join her 1000+ followers in their quest for healthy, sugar free recipes at www.sugarfreesweetheart.com.

carrot halwa

Carrot Halwa or Gajar ka Halwa is a popular North Indian dessert. The interesting thing about this dessert is that in theory it can be a low-carb, nutritious, light, dessert but in practice it’s often made quite rich with butter or ghee, milk and cream, and of course, sugar and raisins. However, it’s easy to make a lighter, healthier, carrot-y version. And that’s what I’m sharing with you today. For this light and vegan version, you need only 5 ingredients!

DSC_0033

Ingredients

For 4 tiny servings or 2 generous ones, you will need:

2 cups grated carrot

1 1/4 cup cashew milk (to make your own, see notes below!)

1 tsp or 3 pods cardamom

6 pistas (unsalted)

10g Levulose (or 2-3 tbsp brown sugar or melted jaggery, adjust to taste)
Time to grate, heat, and stir!

CarrotHalwaWeb

Notes

* To make Cashew Milk: Soak cashews in water for at least 5 hours. Drain and grind with fresh water in the ratio 1: 4 of cashew: water. Strain and done! Depending on how long you soak and the quality of your cashews you may end up with little or no residue after straining.

* You could use almond, soy, rice, or coconut milk, but from my experiments cashew milk and carrot work well.

* For a creamier version add a little cashew paste made from soaking and grinding cashews.

* Since carrot is the star of the recipe, ensure you use the best variety you can find!

Palak Paneer- A Guest Post From Sonal At Simply Vegetarian 777

Sonal is a fellow food blogger and friend who blogs at www.simplyvegetarian777.wordpress.com . When I approached her to do a guest post on eat,live,burp, she was enthusiastic about sharing her delicious palak paneer recipe with all of us. I love that she cooks with just a tablespoon of oil in most of her recipes including this recipe. Typically palak paneer contains a ton of cream, but Sonal has come up with an interesting substitute which doesn’t compromise on the texture and taste of this signature North Indian entree. Vegans,substitute paneer with extra firm tofu, it would taste just as good. I am a huge fan of Sonal’s work, her mushroom-garlic fried rice is a huge hit in our house.  Please welcome Sonal and visit her at http://www.simplyvegetarian777.wordpress.com or even better subscribe to her blog via email for simple, healthy, vegetarian recipes to be delivered right to your inbox.

palak paneer

Hello Everybody,

My name is Sonal and I write a food blog called simplyvegetarian777. As the name suggests, it is a food blog with vegetarian recipes with some fun and twist intended. :). The recipes are simple and quick so that the people can actually cook them. Most of the time, I cook with 1 tablespoon oil for 4 servings. My belief is “Cook Light, Eat Right and Have fun in life”. I have tried to replace fried versions of various dishes with baked and pan grilling. I use non-conventional methods with healthier approach, but that doesn’t make my food bland :). My blog covers Indian, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Indo Chinese cuisine dishes and many more…most of the time in fusion avatars than the traditional ones :).

I feel honored to write a guest post for Pavithra’s blog Eat Live and Burp. What a cute title for a blog :). I met Pavithra through blogging and got hooked to her blog when she was sharing her experiences about the Food blog conferences she attended at Seattle, Washington. Was I envious ;)? I was but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience through her pictures and writings. Great work visualizing those Pavithra :). I am so impressed by her approach and the Oxbow Box Project.  Thanks Pavithra for this wonderful opportunity to meet with your readers :).

Today I present Palak Paneer, a much loved dish in India and abroad. Every time, we have  American guests at our home, they have always requested Saag Paneer or Palak Paneer. So this is my ode to Pavithra’s blog as a guest writer :). I was talking to my mum about Palak paneer and she suggested to use some red lentils to stabilize the dish which actually adds body to the dish and also has a major nutrition value. Some people use cornstarch to stabilize the dish..me….not at all..I stay away from the use of corn starch or refined flour :). So you may go ahead use 2tablespoon of corn flour or besan dissolved in 1/4 cup water if you want to. Let’s get started now :).

photo 3 (2)

Ingredients

2 teaspoons Cooking oil in a non stick or hard anodized pan or 1 tablespoon in a steel pan

1 cup Spinach, roughly chopped

1 medium tomato,chopped

2 tablespoons Red lentils, washed and soaked(optional)

1 teaspoon ginger,freshly grated

2 pods garlic (optional)

1-2 fresh chillies green or red

1 cup/250grams Paneer or Tight pressed Ricotta ,cut in cubes

½ teaspoon Turmeric

2 teaspoons Coriander powder

1/8 teaspoon Red chili powder

1.5 cups water

Salt

Method

1. Place spinach in a microwave safe bowl along with 3 tablespoons of water and cook for 6-7minutes.

2. Heat oil in pan. Add ginger garlic and chopped chilies , sauté for few seconds.

3. Add chopped tomatoes and dry spices. If required, add a tablespoon of water and let cook for a minute on low flame.

4. Tomatoes will look mushy now. Add soaked lentils and cooked spinach.

5. Add 3/4 cup water, mix well and cover. Let cook for 15 minutes on low flame till lentils are soft.

6. Remove pan from the stove and add 3/4 cup water and purée it in blender or with a hand blender.

7. Transfer the puree back to the pan and add paneer cubes. Cook on slow for 5-7 minutes more.

8. Palak paneer is ready. Enjoy with rice, Pulav, naan or chapati :).

 

The Oxbow Box Project- Vegan Broccoli Rice Pilaf

My next few posts are going to be recipes from the Oxbow box  because that’s what i cooked with all of last week and i still have a beautiful squash and some greens left. It is quite a good deal for local, organic veggies and its almost like a MasterChef challenge to come up with something exciting using the produce. There were a couple of fresh broccoli crowns calling my name from the box, so i toyed with the idea of a soup, salad and even a sandwich but the Indianness in me decided to make pilaf with them. I have used brown basmati rice  which imparts a nutty flavor to this dish. If you want a healthier version, you can use quinoa or any ancient grain like sorghum or farro, i am sure the results would be just as amazing. This flavorful rice makes a great weeknight dinner because it comes together in less than 30 minutes. Pair it with a simple raw salad and raita for a wholesome meal.

broccoli rice

Ingredients

2 medium sized broccoli crowns, cut into florets

1 cup brown basmati rice

1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas

1 medium onion, chopped lengthwise

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

4 Thai green chilies or 2 Serrano peppers

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 one inch piece ginger, minced

2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped

1 cup light coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon oil

3 cloves

1 one inch piece cinnamon

2 cardamoms

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

Salt

Method

1. Wash and soak rice in water for 15 minutes.

2. While the rice is soaking, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. When oil is hot, add cumin seeds, bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Let it cook for a minute.

3. Add onions, cilantro and mint. Saute for couple of minutes till onions turn soft.

4. Add garlic and ginger, cook for couple of minutes.

5. Add tomatoes and green chilies, cook till the tomatoes turn soft and mushy.

6. Add broccoli florets, peas, turmeric powder and saute for 2 minutes.

7. Add drained rice and gently saute the rice with the vegetables for couple of minutes.

8. Add coconut milk and a cup of water, salt and mix well.

9. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Let it simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

10. Gently fluff with a fork and serve hot.

Chocolate Burfi/Fudge

Burfi or barfi is an Indian fudge made with milk and sugar. There are several variations of burfi, some with nuts, some made with different flours and this variation has dark chocolate. What is incredible is that it can be made in 5 minutes, isn’t that cool for an Indian dessert, which typically involves effort and time. I normally use the microwave to reheat food and once in a while to cook rice, but this recipe recommended the use of microwave and if it can be cooked in 5 minutes without too much clarified butter, why not right? Milk powder and condensed milk is cooked to a semi solid consistency and topped off with a layer of melted dark chocolate, almost like a vanilla fudge with chocolate, two layers of super fun, need i say more?  For those celebrating the Indian festival Diwali this weekend, this is a perfect last minute treat to distribute among friends and family. Happy Diwali folks! May the festival of lights bring joy and happiness to you all.

chocolate burfi

Ingredients

14 oz condensed milk

1.5 cups milk powder

2 tablespoons clarified butter/ghee

1 teaspoon powdered cardamom

few strands of saffron

5oz  chocolate ( i used trader joe’s dark chocolate)

Method

1. Place clarified butter in a microwave safe bowl and cook for 30 seconds.

2. Add milk powder and condensed milk to the melted clarified butter and mix well with a spoon. Cook for 3 minutes, stir after every minute.

3. Add powdered cardamom and saffron and mix well. Microwave for 30 seconds.

4. Transfer the above mixture to a greased plate. Spread evenly with a spatula.

5. Let it cool completely before transferring to a refrigerator to cool for at least 1 hour. At the end of an hour, remove plate from the refrigerator.

6. To melt chocolate, heat water in a saucepan and place chocolate in a metal bowl that fits well on top of the saucepan. Allow chocolate to melt in low, indirect heat stirring continuously till the chocolate completely melts.

7. Spread  melted chocolate evenly over the milk powder-condensed milk mixture taken out from the refrigerator.

8. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and cut into 16 squares.