Sweet and Sour Bittergourd Stew

Bitter gourd, or bitter melon, or bitter squash is indigenous to tropical or sub-tropical climates. It’s bitter taste makes it a perfect cleansing agent. It is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. The bitterness might be a deterrent in it’s consumption. My mother cooked it two ways: Sweet and Sour Stew and Fry.

bg4Owing to the bitterness, I could never eat the fry, but the sweet and sour stew was always my favorite.

Ingredients:

2 bitter gourd, chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 cup tamarind juice
2-3 blocks of jaggery
1-2 tbsp rice flour
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp channa dal
1 tsp urad dal
1-2 dry red chilli
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
touch of turmeric
touch of asafoetida
a few curry leaves
chopped cilantro for garnish

bg1In a pan, heat some oil. Add turmeric, asafoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, dry red chillies, urad dal, and channa dal. Fry till lightly golden. Add sliced jalapeno and curry leaves and fry lightly. Add chopped bitter gourd and onion and fry till the onion turn translucent.

bg2Add about 1 cup tamarind juice (or as desired). Add 1-2 cubes of jaggery to sweeten the stew. Bring to a boil. Let simmer on medium low until cooked.

bg3Add rice flour to a little water. Mix well and add to the stew. Let simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt. Garnish with some chopped cilantro and serve warm with some rice and dal.bg4We always ate our stew with some dal!

See also:

Snake Gourd and Moong Dal
Pumpkin and Channa Dal

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

When I came across the original recipe in PBS Fresh Tastes, I was immediately interested in trying this out. This brought to mind ratatouille, which is one of my favorite recipes.  I like a colorful palate, and the contrast of colorful vegetables always excites me. Although this recipe is gluten free and vegan, you can easily use pasta and cheese if you so desire. You can use any mix of your favorite vegetables.

Here is how I made mine.l7

Ingredients

For the Tomato sauce:
4-6 ripe tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 yellow onion chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
salt and red pepper flakes to flavor

For the Lasagne
2 Japanese eggplants
2 Poblano peppers
1-2 red bell pepper
8-10 baby zucchini (you can also use 1-2 regular)
1/2 cup and a little more cashews
1 tbsp yeast
a pinch of nutmeg
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

The day before you plan to make the lasagne, soak the cashews in some water and place in the refrigerator.

l6To make the tomato sauce, bring a large pot of water to boil. Immerse the tomatoes and leave for 5-10 minutes. Remove from stove, rinse with cold water and peel off the skin. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Thinly slice the eggplant, zuchini,  and peppers. Lightly toss in oil and fresh ground pepper. Lay out two trays and line the sliced vegetables. Roast in oven for 10-15 minutes. This gets rid of excess water in the vegetables.

l1Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pan on the stove. Add chopped onion and garlic and fry till translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt and red pepper flakes. Mix and let simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens.

l2To make the white sauce, add soaked cashews to a blender, adding about 1/4 cup water ( a little more if necessary) and blend until smooth. Season with salt, yeast and nutmeg and pulse until smooth.

l3To make the lasagne, add half the tomato sauce to a baking pan. Lay out in layers, roasted eggplant, poblano peppers, and zucchini. Add another layer of tomato sauce and lay out more vegetables. Add a layer of white sauce. The white sauce in this recipe, is sufficient for one layer in a 9×4 baking dish. The only thing I would change if I make this again is to make more tomato sauce and to use 2 red bell peppers. I suggest using 8-10 tomatoes. Can add any left over sauce here. Pile alternately red bell peppers and zucchini on top.

l4Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake lasagne for 30-40 minutes until most of the moisture evaporates and it is cooked.

l5Serve warm. Makes 2-3 servings. Delicious!

l6

Amaranth leaves cooked two ways

Like most green leafy vegetables, Amaranth leaves are rich in vitamins (A & C) and minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium and folate. They can be commonly found in tropical and warm temperate regions of the world and go by different names depending on region. In Andhra Pradesh  they are commonly known as Thotakura. Unlike Red Sorrel (Gongura) leaves, Amaranth leaves don’t have a tart flavor.  We most commonly made dal or pulusu (a tangy stew with tamarind juice).

al3Ingredients:

For the dal:
1/2 bunch amaranth leaves
1 cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
2-3 tbsp tamerind juice
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced (if large)
1 jalapeno sliced
a few curry leaves
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chili
pinch of turmeric
pinch of asafoetida
cilantro to garnish

al2Stew Ingredients:
1/2 bunch amaranth leaves
1/2 small bottle gourd peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
a few curry leaves
1 tbsp sesame seeds (or powder)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp rice flour
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chili
1tsp urad dal
a pinch of turmeric
a pinch of asafoetida

To make the dal, cook toor dal with two cups of water in a bowl stove top or typically I cook mine in a pressure cooker.  Add half chopped amaranth leaves to a large pan, add some water and cook on medium for about 10 minutes, until the leaves wilt and cook. Lightly mash the cooked toor dal with a spatula and add to the bowl containing the amaranth leaves. Add 2-3 tbsp tamarind juice, salt and chili powder  and mix well. Reduce flame and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a pan heat oil. Add turmeric, asafoetida, mustard and cumin seeds, red chilies, and sliced garlic and fry till lightly golden. Add curry leaves and sliced jalapeno and continue frying for another 3-4 minutes.

al1JPGTransfer to the dal bowl. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

To make the stew, cook amaranth leaves and chopped bottle gourd with some water in a bowl, until cooked. About 10-15 minutes. Add about 1 cup tamarind juice and mix well. Add salt and red chili powder and mix well. Let simmer on medium low for about 15-20 minutes. In a small bowl  mix 2 tsp rice flour with some water and transfer the mix to the stew. This helps coagulate the stew. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a pan. Add tumeric, asafoetida, sliced garlic, cumin and mustard seeds, urad dal and red chilies and fry till lightly golden. Add sliced jalapeno and curry leaves and fry for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to the stew bowl and mix well.

al4Lightly toast sesame seeds till lightly golden. Grind to powder and add to the stew. Can used mustard powder instead of sesame. Mix well, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm with some rice. We typically ate the stew with some snake gourd cooked with moong dal  or bottle gourd cooked with toor dal or pumpkin and chana dal or something similar.

 

 

Snake gourd and moong dal

Whenever, my mother made a stew, such as Spinach and yogurt stew,  or sweet and sour Pumpkin stew, or tangy Red Sorrel leaves stew or Amaranth leaves stew, my mother always cooked a dal based curry such as pumpkin and channa dal curry, bottle gourd and toor dal curry  or some such similar recipe.

sncIngredients:

1 snake gourd
1/2 cup moong dal
1 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tbsp channa dal
1-2 red chilies
salt to taste
a touch turmeric
a touch of asafoetida
1 jalapeno chopped
a few curry leaves
some chopped cilantro

Bring about 1 to 1 11/2 cups of water to boil. Add moong dal and chopped snake gourd. Reduce flame to medium low and cook for 15-20 minutes until cooked and all the water evaporates.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add turmeric, asafoetida, red chilies, urad dal, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, chana dal and fry till lightly golden. Add chopped jalapeno and curry leaves and continue frying for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the cooked snake gourd  and moong dal bowl. Mix well. Season with salt. Garnish with some chopped cilantro and serve warm with some rice and tangy stew.

snc2We typically ate with some sweet and sour mixed vegetable stew or tangy amaranth (or red sorrel) stew or spinach and yogurt stew.

Quick Lunch Series: Red Lentil and Cucumber Salad

I came across this on PBS Fresh Tastes recently. Looked delicious and refreshing. It is especially good for a hot, summer day meal.

Still, considering the recent nice weather, it was a perfect lunch on a week day.

I altered it slightly…and made it as follows…

cucu1Ingredients:

1/4 cup red lentils
1/2 cucumber chopped
8-10 sliced cherry tomatoes
1-2 tbsp sliced red onion
1-2 tbsp yogurt
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1 jalapeno minced (optional)
some finely chopped cilantro
a touch of cayenne pepper
salt and fresh ground pepper

Rinse and add 1/2 to 3/4 cup water to lentils and cook on medium flame for 10-15 minutes. Set aside. I rarely like to toss, the liquid when I cook lentils. Something about tossing away the nutrients with the water. I always cook my lentils with twice the amount of water, so there is nothing left. You can always add more if you think you need to cook your lentils more.

In a large bowl, add yogurt, lemon juice, salt and peppers, minced jalapeno, chopped cucumber and chopped cilantro and mix well. Add sliced cherry tomatoes. Toss in chilled, and  cooked red lentils and serve immediately.

Cucumbers and sliced tomatoes are juicy, so it is best to toss the salad with them, just before serving.

Enjoy!

Roasted Snake Gourd with Coconut and Sesame

You can find snake gourd, fresh, during summer months, in your local Asian grocery or frozen in any Indian grocery, year round. While there are many ways to cook it, we usually cooked it with coconut and sesame, yellow split pea or with yogurt.

sg1

I’ve roasted Ivy gourd and Okra quite successfully in the past, so why not Snake Gourd?

Ingredients

2-3 snake gourd
1-2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Pinch of turmeric
Red chili powder as preferred
1-2 tbsp shredded coconut
1-2 tbsp sesame powder
a few curry leaves
a little chopped cilantro to garnish

sg4

Slice the snake gourd into thin rings and transfer to an oven safe dish. Toss with olive oil, salt and chili powder.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds in a pan till lightly golden. Process in a food processor or blender or coffee grinder till processed into powder.

sg3

Bake sliced snake gourd rings for 30 minutes. Add curry leaves, shredded coconut and  ground sesame powder. Toss and roast for another 10-15 minutes.

sg2Enjoy with some rice or roti.

sg1

Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Loaf

When I saw this, I just had to try it. Lately, since, I started experimenting with the 21 Day Tummy Diet, I have been buying Organic bananas each week. And each week, when I have left over bananas, I peel and freeze them. They are terrific for smoothies. It seems, they are great for banana loaf.
IMG_0004.JPG

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