A monthly experiment.

Kadhi Pakora

I have been away from the blog for a while; I need to get back into it. We are going to open it up with a nice vegetarian dish called Kadhi Pakora. Well, my take on Kadhi Pakora. I haven’t ever had them before, but I was surfing around looking at things and saw this recipe on Manjula’s Kitchen and realized I had almost everything to make this. So I have no idea how they are supposed to turn out or what you are really supposed to do with them, but I enjoyed them none the less.

Ingredients, this isn’t exactly Manjula’s recipe because I didn’t have everything, but it was close.

Kadhi –

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup heavy cream

2/3 cup gram flour (besan)

6 cups water

Pinch of asafetida (hing)

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (mathi)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 tbsp red chili flakes

2 bay leaves

4 curry leaves

1 teaspoon salt

Pakoras:

1 1/2 cup besan (the recipe calls for 3/4 cup but mine was just water and it scared me so I added more until it became closer what I was used to, like a thin pancake batter. Maybe it is supposed to be super thin and watery?)

About 2/3 cup water

¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Okay so I combined the buttermilk and cream in a bowl and added the turmeric and 3 cups of water together and whisked the hell out of it until it was smooth. Then on the stove in a pot a heated up some oil and added the cumin seeds, the fenugreek seeds and the asafetida (good lord this stuff smells SO BAD when it’s raw. It’s literally like someone’s butt got stuffed in your face). Once the cumin seeds pop I added the chili flakes, bay leaves and curry leaves. After that I poured in the wet mixture and mixed. It got really thick really fast once it boiled so I added the last 3 cups of water, then it got really thin really fast. I guess this is normal. I got it to a boil and let it simmer for an hour. While that was happening I moved on to the pakora.

Note: While this was cooking it was so odd. It started out smelling like dead foot from the asafetida, then for some reason began to smell like a pumpkin pie. Then it mellowed out and smelled like something I hadn’t smelled before but I wanted to eat. It was pretty odd.

I whipped the besan, water, salt and baking powder for a long time until it was smooth and kind of silky. I got a few cups of peanut oil hot on the stove and began spooning in little bits of it. It was hysterical. As soon as a spoonful went in it fluffed up and became this fat little puffball. I fried them in batches until they were brown and took them out.

So now I’m looking at the kadhi and the pakora. All the directions said the khadi should be thick; mine wasn’t that thick, it also said to put the pakora in the kadhi for 20 minutes. I’m skeptical of this but the hell with it. I revved up the rice maker and got some rice going. Then dumped the pakora into the kadhi and stirred. Amazingly enough, they stayed fluffy and sucked up a little bit of the kadhi but for some reaons, the kadhi became thick and silky after about 20 minutes of sitting there with the pakora in it.

The rice cooker popped and I scooped a big pile of rice onto the plate and covered it with this awesome sauce and dumpling mixture. Who knows how you are supposed to eat it but it worked perfectly like this.

One last thing: I also read you can dip vegetables in this batter like tempora and fry then. Cauliflower pakora here I come. This batter is amazing and has a wonderful flavor and texture since it isn’t wheat but channa dal.

Alright so this one isn’t Vegan, but it’s the end of the month and I decided to add a bit of ovo-lacto into the mix, but just a bit. I did some breaded baked eggplant with a white bean topping. It came out really nice, crispy and soft at the same time. It is one of the reasons I love Panko bread crumbs so much. If someone knows a vegan way of getting the breadcrumbs to stick like eggs/milk let me know, I will switch to it.

Ingredients

  • 1 Japanese eggplant
  • 1 bag panko bread crumbs
  • 2 cups whole milk (so weird to be using milk again)
  • 2 eggs (ditto for eggs. I haven’t cracked an egg in a month)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 can great white northern beans
  • Dried mushrooms (I used lobster, porcini, morel and chanterelles)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small white onion
  • Olive oil
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Flat leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 400. Add the dried mushrooms to hot water and cover and set aside.

Tip: Use a small bowl for the mushrooms and just enough water for them to float, like a small cereal bowl. We want to use that water as our liquid later since it becomes wonderful mushroom broth.

Take some plates and put the flour on one plate, some breadcrumbs on the other and in a large bowl mix the milk and the eggs together.  Now to prep the eggplant cut off the tips, cut it in half and shave off the peel on 2 sides. We just want a flat side to bread, but don’t waste too much of it. Press each side of the eggplant down into the flour, give it a nice bath in the egg wash and then into the panko. Get a lot of bread crumbs on it, I mush in as many as possible. Lay them out on the sheet pan and pop them into the oven.

While those are baking drain and rinse the northern beans, dice the onion and mince the garlic. In a pan heat up some olive oil and toss in the onions and a bit of salt. When they are translucent add the garlic. When it is light golden add the beans and stir through. While the beans are heating up remove the leaves from the herbs and chop them up roughly. Add the herbs in and stir through. Now remove the mushrooms from the water, squeeze as much water as you can back into the bowl they were in. Chop them roughly and toss into the pan. Once everything is heated through and the beans begin to break down a bit, go ahead and add the reserved mushroom liquid (make sure no grit gets in) and simmer this mixture until it’s all reduced down. Smash some of the beans during stirring to get a nice thick sauce holding everything together. Salt and pepper to taste, you can also add some vinegar at this point to brighten things up, I would recommend using nice light white wine vinegar. At the last second chop some fresh Italian flat leaf parsley roughly and stir through.

Let’s turn our attention back to the eggplant. At this point it should have been around 20 minutes and the eggplant is done inside, we just need golden crispy outside. I switched to my broiler at this point, opened the oven door and drizzled some olive oil over my planks. With the door cracked open I watched them toast in less than 3 minutes, then I flipped them and did the same process.

Once they were golden brown and delicious I took them out, plated one with a nice mound of the beans and drizzled with olive oil. Enjoy!

Another vegan sandwich! This time with roasted vegetables and mushrooms. I wanted to use some smoky, spicy flavors as well as pairing it up with something strong like fennel pollen, so I went with chipotles since they were in my fridge. If you want even more fennel goodness swap out the onion for thinly sliced fennel and treat it the same way. All in all the roasted mushrooms felt very meaty and filling, the fennel onions were perfect and the broccolini and red bells gave a lot of body to the sandwich. The chipotle bean spread added a nice smoky kick and there was enough bean spread left over for me to eat today as a snack with pita chips.

Ingredients

½ lb cremini mushrooms

1 bunch broccolini

1 medium onion

1 can great northern beans

2 chipotle peppers in adobo

1 tomato

1 red bell pepper

Some lettuce, herb mix, spring mix whatever

Coconut milk

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Fennel pollen

1 loaf of sourdough bread in the shape of a giant submarine sandwich, or really whatever bread you want

Okay to get started get the oven up to 400 degrees. Slice the mushrooms and toss them with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, spread out on a pan and put them in the oven. Get a pot of water boiling and blanche the broccolini for a 2 minutes, take out and dunk into an ice bath, then toss them with olive oil and salt and pepper, place them on a pan and put them in the oven too. While they are in the oven drain and rinse a can of great northern beans (or any white bean really) and put them in the food processor with 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt and the chipotle peppers, start blending and add coconut milk until it becomes a smooth yet thick paste, almost like hummus. Slice the onion thin and add to a pan with olive oil, salt, pepper and fennel pollen and start to sweat them down. Slice the tomato super thin and set aside. Cut the red bell pepper in half and remove the seeds and the white parts inside.

Now after about 20 minutes swap your oven over to broil. Crank it up high and add your bell pepper into the oven. I just moved some of the mushrooms over and put them onto the same sheet pan. Pay attention now you are going to have to pull things as they come ready. Cut your bread loaf in half but leave one edge connected like a hinge, spread it out and slather the bean paste on both sides. When the broccolini looks ready pull it, chop it in half and spread it out on the bottom of the loaf. Pull the mushrooms next and spread them into a layer on top of the broccolini. Take the softened onions off the stove and spread them on top of the mushrooms. Now add the tomatoes and the lettuce mix. At this point my red bell was ready so I pulled him from the oven and placed him in a plastic Ziploc bag. I waited about 10 minutes for him to cool down, peeled the skin off of him, sliced him up and added him to the sandwich. At this point everything should be cool enough to eat. Close it up, slice into single portions and enjoy.

Last night we were supposed to go out but ended up staying in. I rooted around the vegetable drawer in the fridge and found some Brussels sprouts that we had bought. I love brussels sprouts. So I went to my tried and true Momofuku inspired recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs of Brussels sprouts
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 2 scallions
  • Fresh ginger
  • 2 limes
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1.5 cups rice
  • 3 cups water

Okay preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let’s get the sauce ready. In a nice big bowl put all the liquid ingredients in. The soy, oils and stock go in first, mix them up a bit. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve it all. Add the red pepper and the scallions (I always slice my scallions really fine along the bottom white part and ½ strips with the top dark green part) only add the white and light green right now. I always use my microplane for this next step, if you don’t have one mince the ginger as fine as you can, if you do have one grate the ginger into the bowl. Mix it all thoroughly.

Wash the Brussels sprouts and cut off the stem part on the bottom, remove any discolored outer leaves and cut them in half top to bottom. Once they are in half chuck them in the bowl, after you get all these done mix those really well to get them coated with the sauce. Take them out and line them up cut side down on a sheet pan. Toss them into the oven for 20 minutes or until the outer leaves are dark brown. Reserve the sauce that’s left in the bowl, we still need it.

While they are in the oven add the rice (I love jasmine rice for this) to the rice cooker and cook away. It should be ready close to the same time.

For the sauce get out a small sauce pan or pot and put it on medium high heat, add the reserved sauce and squeeze the juice from one lime into it and bring to a low boil, now lower it down and simmer it, watch out the sugar in it doesn’t burn or stick, mix it often. Once it has reduced to half its volume, stir in the ¼ cup of coconut milk and add some sesame seeds. Let it sit there on low heat until everything is done, stir occasionally.

When the rice and sprouts are done mound up a nice big pile of rice, add the sprouts along one side and on the rice and top with the sauce and the dark green scallions. This is always a hit at my house.

This is a take on another one of Dino’s recipes. It is called the Dino Sammich, but again I changed some pieces of it around to suit my tastes and use what I had on hand. I went to Central Market over the weekend to spend way too much money on a lot of goodies. One of the things I picked up was a few bunches of Oyster Mushrooms, which are AWESOME.

Let’s start with the ingredient list.

  • 2 pieces of bread (I had Naan left over from Friday, I made a Masala and Curried Plantains from Dino’s book Alternative Vegan. I didn’t want to mess with making Dosa at the time so I went with some store bought Naan).
  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 2 bunches of Oyster Mushrooms
  • ¼ cup of nice olives (I got some mixed green and black in garlic and red pepper)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 scallion
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 sprigs of oregano
  • Smoked paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Pine nuts

To begin with get your oven at 350 and get your pan and wire rack (or oven proof griddle pan) ready to go. Cut the zucchinis into planks and lay them on the rack. Take the leaves off the herbs and give them a rough chop. Toss them in a bowl with some olive oil, the salt and pepper and the paprika. Chop the white part of the green onions finely and add this in as well. Brush the zucchinis with this oil mixture and toss them in the oven for 20 minutes.

While they are cooking get some olive oil hot in a pan and add the garlic and red bell peppers. Wash the oyster mushrooms and cut them off the base of the bunch. Pull them apart a little and throw them in. You will notice these mushrooms give off a wonderful shrimp like smell. They literally smell like seafood is cooking. BUT THEY’RE MUSHROOMS!! How wonderful is that? They even taste a little bit like shrimp. Anyway mix this around until the mushrooms and bell peppers are soft and a bit browned. Add a dash of balsamic and salt and pepper to taste. Chop the olives up and toss them in and mix thoroughly. In a dry pan toast the pine nuts and add them to the party as well. Lay out your piece of naan bread (or a baguette cut in half or sourdough or some ciabatta, whatever you want really) and spoon this mixture on top of it.

Take your zucchinis out of the oven when they are soft and brown and delicious, lay them out on top of the mushroom mixture until you have enough. Cover with the other piece of bread and wrap this in foil. Then put something heavy on top of it and add some weight such as some cans of beans or something. This will press out some liquid and smash the sandwich down. Now this made my naan a little soggy. But I just pressed some paper towels on top after unwrapping it 20 minutes later and sopped up the extra juice, then let it dry for a bit.

I preferred this sandwich warm, which brought out all the great flavors better than when it was cold. But its up to your tastes really. The mushrooms give it a nice meaty bite and some good seafood-ish flavor, the zucchinis add a great soft texture and the flavors all ended up melding really well. Italian cooking is something I am really familiar with so playing with these flavors is second nature to me at this time. I hope you all enjoy this and try your own versions and let me know how it goes. This is a perfect sandwich for on the go to grab out of the fridge or to sit down and eat warm with a salad.

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while I have been sick and haven’t been around a computer much. But I have been cooking. I spent Wednesday playing with some Thai food, specifically Pad Woon Sen. I like mine spicy, but you may not, lets delve into it.

Ingredients

  • Mung Bean Noodles
  • Red bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Scallion
  • Firm Tofu
  • Peanut Oil
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Ginger
  • Soy Sauce
  • Dave’s Insanity Sauce (this is some hot stuff, really think twice about using this if you aren’t up to its standards of ridiculous heat)

To begin with get some water hot from the tap, as hot as it can get, and put it in a bowl, add the mung bean noodles and let the sit there fully submerged. Drain the tofu and cut it into decent sized chunks. I usually cut a block in half, and then cut it into ½ inch rectangles. Prep the red bell by cleaning it out and cutting it into strips. Finley sliced the bottom of the 2 scallions up to the dark green part, and then cut the dark green parts into ½ inch strips. Mince the ginger. Cut the onion in half, and then cut it into crescents along the grain. Then we are ready.

Get a pan on high heat and get some peanut oil hot. Add the ginger and the white part of the scallions. Cook it down for a bit, add the onion and sweat it for 30 seconds. Add 2 tbsp of soy sauce. I put in an entire tbsp of Dave’s (please don’t do this unless you know what you are doing). Mix it all around and add the tofu, mix the tofu to get it nice and covered then try to brown the tofu while moving the rest of the veggies about to keep them from over cooking. When the tofu is up to where it needs to be add the mung bean noodles and toss to coat. Finish off with sesame seeds and the dark green part of the scallion.

Enjoy.

That’s a fancy Italian way of saying Rigatoni with Mushroom and Leek Ragu. It’s a really simple dish that takes a little bit of time but not much effort. Let’s get into the ingredient list

  • 2 medium leeks
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lbs of cremini mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes
  • Vegetable stock
  • 1 lbs box of Rigatoni
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • White Wine vinegar

Alright to begin prep, wash and slice the mushrooms and place them in a bowl.  Cut the dark green part of the leeks off and cut off the root. Slice it in half the long way and run cold water through it. Peel the layers apart a bit to get any grit out. DO NOT disassemble them completely as it makes cutting them a lot harder. Just spend some time making sure there is no grit inside. Once they are clean cut them into 1/2 inch little moons by cutting across the  grain. Dice the onion into 1/4 inch dice and mince the garlic. Strip the thyme leaves off the stem and give them a rough chop.

Cooking time, add some olive oil to a pan over medium high heat and get it hot, then add the mushrooms, we want to get these guys cooked down and slightly browned. When these are soft and smelling good add the onion and some salt. Turn the heat down to medium and sweat the onions until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to change color. If you need more oil add some more. Add the leeks and sweat them until they are soft. Once everything is easy to stir and softened up add the thyme and cook until you can smell its coming from the pan.

Open the tomatoes pour them into a bowl and crush them with your hands. Pour the crushed tomatoes into the pan and bring to a simmer, add a cup of Vegetable stock and turn down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Then hit it with some vinegar. You want enough vinegar to taste a slight brightness to the sauce but not taste like vinegar. This is a big part of seasoning a lot of people don’t know about. Use vinegar like salt, it will bring out the brightness of flavors and add dimension to a dish, and just like salt you need to learn how to taste that flavor and get the right amount in there to be perfect.

Now while the sauce is simmering get a pot of water a handful of salt going full boil and boil your pasta as per the instructions on the box/bag. For rigatoni it’s usually around 12 minutes. When the pasta is al dente remove it from the water. Add the pasta to the pan of sauce and toss it through, serve with a little bit of extra olive oil and a fresh grind of pepper.

Tip: You may find your pan is nowhere near big enough for all that sauce and all that pasta, if this is the case once the pasta is out of  your large pot pour it back in and pour the sauce into the big pot, the mix and finish in the pot.