Cracked Wheat Upma With Thai-Style Peanut And Sweet Potato Curry.

I like mixing things up in the kitchen every now and then, and when the flavors are a good match– Thai and Indian, for example — it is easy to get great results. Like my Cracked Wheat Upma with Thai-Style Peanut and Sweet Potato Curry.

The cracked wheat upma is inspired by a recipe I saw this week at Chitra Amma’s Kitchen and wanted to make right away. I made the upma more like I usually make a regular rava upma with the only real difference being that I was using cracked wheat instead of rava, which is also wheat but more finely ground.

I became a fan of cracked wheat as a rice substitute when one of Desi’s diabetic relatives recommended it to us. Because cracked wheat is made from the whole wheat kernel, it is a high-fiber food that makes a healthy addition to any diet. I usually cook it exactly as I would rice– boil two cups of water, add a cup of cracked wheat, bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until done. Eaten with curries just like you would rice, it is really delicious.

For the upma, I varied this basic technique just slightly, but I first roasted the cracked wheat because I like the nuttier flavor the dry-roasting creates.

For the Thai-Style curry, I used my homemade red curry paste which I usually have in the freezer and which is completely vegan, unlike store-bought pastes. Instead of using peanut butter, which usually goes into Thai peanut curries, I used whole peanuts boiled to nutty tenderness. They gave the curry great texture alongside the silky sweet potatoes, the slightly-crunchy spinach, and the smooth coconut milk.

The spicy upma and the mellow curry were a match made in kitchen heaven. Enjoy, all!.

Cracked Wheat Upma


1 cup cracked wheat (this is not the same as bulghur which is used widely in Middle Eastern foods. Bulghur is already partially cooked when you buy it. Cracked wheat is just the broken raw wheat kernel)

2 cups water

2 tsp vegetable oil like canola

1 tsp mustard seeds

A generous pinch of asafetida/hing (optional)

1 tsp grated ginger

2 dry red chillies, broken into halves

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 bell peppers, finely diced (I used red and yellow, but green would be fantastic here. Also, feel free to substitute with any vegetable that doesn’t need too much cooking time, like cabbage or carrot. Even boiled potatoes could be added)

1 cup frozen green peas

Salt to taste

Heat a dry skillet. Add the cracked wheat and dry-roast, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes over medium heat. The wheat should turn a couple of shades darker. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add the oil to the skillet.

Add the mustard seeds and asafetida. When the seeds sputter, add the onions and saute for a couple of minutes until the onions start to soften and turn translucent.

Add the red chillies and turmeric and stir in.

Immediately add the ginger and peppers and stir-fry a couple more minutes.

Add the peas, water and salt and bring to a boil. Add the roasted cracked wheat and stir to mix, then cover with a tight lid, turn the heat to low, and allow it to cook for 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let it stand about 10 minutes before opening. Garnish with coriander leaves or even some shredded coconut, if desired.

Serve hot with the peanut-veggie curry (recipe follows).

Thai-style Peanut and Sweet Potato Curry


1 cup peanuts, boiled until tender (I do this in a pressure cooker, but you can just as easily boil them on the stovetop after covering them with water.)

1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil

1 large sweet potato, peeled then diced into small pieces

1 cup thick coconut milk

2 cups baby spinach leaves, whole. If using regular spinach, chop into strips.

1/4 cup Thai red curry paste (I reserve about a tablespoon to stir in at the end of cooking– it gives a real flavor wallop)

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and the Thai red curry paste and stir together until they are well mixed and fragrant.

Add the sweet potatoes and some of the water from boiling the peanuts or, if you don’t have any remaining, just add 1/4 cup of water.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let the sweet potatoes cook until tender.

Add the peanuts with 1 cup of the water they were boiled in (use regular water if you don’t have enough). Add salt and stir well. Now add the spinach and the remaining curry paste. Turn off heat when the spinach just wilts–don’t cook it too long because you don’t want the spinach to turn too soft.

Serve hot with the cracked wheat upma=”separator”>=”separator”>

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Thai-style Coconut Rice With Edamame and Canary Beans Curry

Thai Coconut Rice and Canary Beans CurryEver wonder why cats are always the villains of the pet world?

If you watch movies with furry, cute animals that speak, you know exactly what I mean. Babe, Cats and Dogs, any horror movie where there’s always a black cat lurking around to do something mean at a crucial moment to the poor, horrified human already tormented by other unseen forces… Even Garfield– although lovable– is lazy, greedy, selfish, sarcastic and downright mean.

Often all that meanness is directed toward the animal considered a cat’s arch enemy: the dog. That supremely lovable, bumbling, angelic dog who looks at you with huge, soulful eyes, makes that irresistible, whiny sound at the back of his throat, then rolls over for a tummy rub. He is always the one being taken for a royal ride by the cunning feline who gets into all sorts of trouble and then places the blame squarely on the dog.

Yes, no wonder there are so many people out there who insist they are dog people.

But ask someone like me who lives with both these creatures under one roof and we’d set the record straight.

In our home, our two cats– Pubm and Pie– are the good kids. The ones we never have to worry about. They eat their meals when you feed them, they groom themselves until they’re squeaky clean, and on evenings when you sink in the couch tired after a long day’s work, they don’t immediately demand to be taken for a walk– instead they curl up in your lap like soft, furry stress relievers.

Sure, Pie does get into the dogs’ food all the time, but that’s about it.

The dogs, meaning Opie and Lucy (Freddie‘s too old to care) on the other hand, chase the cats around the house when the mood strikes them and get into their food and kitty litter at the first chance. And while they have grudgingly agreed by now to share their space with Pubm and Pie (they are still the bosses, of course), when they see another cat outdoors it is as if an alien has descended on Earth and they have to grab it before it decimates the dog population. Of course, they’re on leash so that never happens but you get the picture?
True, dogs offer their unbridled love — and usually plenty of kisses– within an instant of meeting you. But the only reason cats hold back for a little longer is because they are more independent-minded, discerning and have a stronger sense of self-worth. You can’t hold that against them, can you? They take their time making up their minds on whether you deserve their affection, but once they do, they love you with the same fierce devotion as any dog would.

This is how I see it: dogs are incredibly adorable and they pour sunshine into your life. But cats are simply addictive. Bring home a cat and you’ll never want to live without a cat again. Which probably explains why there are so many cat collectors around– I have one neighbor with seven cats and another with 20!

Ironically, cats are also among the most victimized animals out there. Tune in to any of those animal rescue shows on television and you’ll find stories of cats burned, tossed on a highway, thrown into the trash and even shot. I won’t even dwell upon what kind of a human being does something like that, but you can be sure they are out there among us. What’s more, millions of cats each year– more than even dogs– are put down in animal shelters for lack of homes that will adopt them.

I thought I was a dog person. I never knew what I was missing until Pubm came home from the shelter with Pie, hid away from all of us for three days, then finally emerged, tentatively rubbed herself against my legs and wound her radar-sensitive tail around my calves.

Then she looked at me with her big, round eyes and let out a soft, drawling mee-ow. I was hooked.

On to today’s recipe, this is a variation on my Thai coconut rice with curried chickpeas, a great dinner combination that I posted a few months ago. This is a great tip to add some zip to old favorites– spice them up with new flavors. This time, to my coconut rice, I added edamame– jewel-green soybeans that taste amazing and add an extra punch of flavor, texture and protein.

To go with the rice I made some Canary Beans Curry with red curry paste. The resulting meal was protein-rich and deliciously flavorful and, with some of the ingredients like the curry paste already ready and waiting in the fridge, quick to put together.
Thai Coconut Rice and Canary Beans CurryCoconut Rice with Onions and Edamame


1 cup long-grain rice like Jasmine or Basmati

1 cup canned coconut milk + 1 cup and 2 tbsp water (if using light coconut milk, just use 2 cups of the coconut milk + 2 tbsp water)

1 tbsp canola oil

1 medium red onion, finely diced

2 cups shelled edamame (soybeans). If you are using frozen, place the beans in a microwave for about 2 minutes with 1 tbsp of water. Make sure they are completely thawed but just slightly tender when you bite into one.

1 tbsp grated ginger

2 tbsp chives or garlic greens

Salt to taste

Heat the canola oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and saute until they turn translucent. Add the ginger and stir-fry another 30 seconds.

Add the rice and garlic greens/chives and stir until the rice begins to turn opaque.

Add the coconut milk and water and salt to taste.

Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, and allow the rice to cook for 15 minutes.

Two minutes before you turn off the heat (about 13 minutes into cooking), stir in the edamame very gently, using a fork, so as to not crush the rice grains. Cover and continue until done.

Let the rice stand at least 10 minutes before you fluff up the grains with a fork and serve hot with the canary beans curry.
Vegan and gluten-free recipeThai-Style Canary Beans Curry


3/4 cup canary beans (You can substitute cannelini beans or red beans here. If I don’t have time to soak the beans overnight, I quick-soak them by covering them with water, bringing it to a boil, and then letting them stand for an hour. Drain off the water, cover with fresh water, and cook either in a pressure cooker or on the stovetop until the beans are tender but still hold their shape. Of course, you can also substitute all this with 1 1/2 cups of canned beans).

2 heaping tbsp red curry paste

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 tomatoes, finely diced

2 hot green chillies (optional– the curry paste already has some heat in it, so skip this if you have a mild palate)

1 tbsp canola oil

1/2 cup thick coconut milk

1/4 cup chopped basil leaves

Heat the oil in a saucepan.

Add the onions and saute until they start to brown.

Add the red curry paste and 1 tbsp of coconut milk. Saute until the mixture becomes fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they break down. Add the canary beans, salt to taste, and allow the curry to come to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, stir in, and turn off the heat. If the curry is too thick add some water. Garnish with the basil leaves. Tip: I like stirring 1 tsp or so of the red curry paste into the curry along with the coconut milk at the very end– I think it really punches up the flavor.

Serve hot with the coconut rice.

Thai Coconut Rice and Canary Beans Curry

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Thai Vegetable Salad With Peanut-Butter Dressing

Each year, Spring sprinkles stardust over Washington, turning it into the most beautiful city in the whole world.051308kolata0019

Okay, I haven’t seen the whole world, but you get my drift? There isn’t a better time to be here than right now, when temperatures are in the ’70s, the thundershowers are too brief to spoil a whole day, and flowers paint an elaborate rainbow of colors across every street and yard.

Lawns have magically gone from brown to emerald green, the oaks and the maples are rapidly filling up with squeaky-new leaves that weave into a deep canopy over grey roads, and the dogwoods and azaleas are flaunting their short-lived but gorgeous blooms.


Spring’s my favorite season, as it probably is everyone else’s, because it’s time to emerge from the chrysalis of our winter-weary homes and enjoy the greatest miracle we’ll ever see– the renewal of life. I, for one, can’t help but feel a little stab of wonder each time I see a tiny green stalk push its head out of the earth, eager to breathe and grow.

It’s also, of course, time to start pulling out all those weeds that have taken over the flower and vegetable beds and get bitten by little insects hiding in the grass, but let’s not get into that here.


Coming to the point of this post, Spring is the time when all sorts of fresh veggies start crowding the market, making it a vegetarian or vegan cook’s paradise. And although I am not a huge salad person, it’s a time when I actually feel like mixing up a salad– or two.

One of my favorites is this Thai salad, which has a healthy and robust peanut-butter dressing, is bursting with veggies and protein and is really good for you. Cutting all the veggies into juliennes or matchstick-sized pieces is a little time-consuming, but it is also therapeutic and if you make the effort you won’t be sorry you did.


Enjoy, everyone, the recipe and the beautiful Spring!

This salad goes to Priya of Akshayapaatram who’s this month’s guest host of It’s A Vegan World: Thai and who’s been cooking up some of the most delicious Thai food I’ve ever seen. And it’s great eye candy too!

Thai Vegetable Salad With Peanut-Butter Dressing

Shred into thin, matchstick-sized pieces and place in a large bowl:

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

1/4 head of cabbage

1 carrot

(Feel free to use more or other veggies. Peppers of any color, scallions, green beans steamed until just tender, and even broccoli would work here)

Sprinkle over the veggies 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

For the dressing:

Place in a blender–

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1-2 tsp hot sauce like Sriracha

1-2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp roasted sesame oil

Give it a stir, adding some water to reach a pourable consistency.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables, and toss to coat.

Shred 10-12 leaves of basil or chop 1/4 cup of coriander/cilantro leaves and mix in.

I also added some tofu to the salad to make it a complete meal. It is optional. I boiled firm tofu in 1 1/2 cups of water to which I’d added a 1-inch piece of ginger, shredded, and 2 tbsp soy sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes, then cut into cubes and toss into the salad.

Let the salad stand a few minutes before serving.

I have finally added a recipe index in the top right corner to help my readers better navigate the blog. All my recipes are now listed on one page. It’s a work in progress, but it’s a beginning and something I wish I had done a long time ago.

Now here’s a picture of Lucy in her favorite perch. All the pictures, as usual, were taken by Desi.


(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Thai Curried Chickpeas With Coconut Rice

Vegan Recipe for Thai Chickpea Curry and Thai Coconut RiceI’ve been going through coconut milk like crazy this month, not least because this past week I’ve been trying out Thai food for It’s A Vegan World: Thai, started right here on Holy Cow! and hosted this month by Priya of Askhayapaatram.

I love coconut milk, so no complaints. Plus, although it does have a fairly high fat content, the fats in coconut milk are actually good for you, unlike cream or butter or other kinds of fat that usually give foods their richness.

My recipes for today are Thai Curried Chickpeas and Thai Coconut Rice, which are divine either by themselves or with each other.

I chose the chickpeas because for one, I don’t run into too many bean dishes when browsing through Thai recipes, and for another, I’m mad about chickpeas. And although I love coconut rice the way I’ve done it for ages, the South Indian way, this recipe– which is much more pared down– is just as delicious. Some recipes I saw called for the addition of a sweetener like maple syrup or brown sugar to the rice, but I chose not to add those because I love the flavor of the coconut by itself. The addition of coconut oil to the recipe really packs a punch, so try not to skip it.

My recipe for Thai curry paste is very versatile, so feel free to experiment with ingredients that have a similar taste if you can’t find the real thing. For instance, replace the lemon grass with extra lime juice, or use ginger instead of the galangal. Make sure you taste everything as you go along, and you won’t fail!

Here are the recipes. Serve these with a simple but flavorful side like my Mint-Smothered Spuds.

Enjoy, everyone!
Vegan Recipe for Thai Chickpea Curry and Thai Coconut Rice
Thai Coconut Rice


1 1/2 cups long-grain rice like Jasmine or Basmati

1 1/2 cups coconut milk + 1 1/2 cups water

1 tbsp coconut oil

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan.

Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until the grains start to turn opaque.

Add the coconut milk, water, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover tightly with a lid, and simmer until done for 15 minutes. Leave the lid on for at least another 10 minutes after cooking before you handle the rice.

With a fork, gently fluff up and mix the grains with any of the coconut-milk solids that might have separated to the top.

Thai Curried Chickpeas


1 cup dried chickpeas, washed, soaked for a few hours and then cooked until tender (or use 2 cups of canned chickpeas, drained and washed)

2 tbsp red Thai Curry Paste (recipe follows)

1 medium onion, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup coconut milk

2 tsp tamari sauce (use regular soy sauce if you can’t find this)

1 medium tomato, diced

Juice of half a lime

1 tbsp sugar

10-15 basil leaves, cut into strips (use cilantro/coriander leaves if you can’t find these)

1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions. Stir-fry until they brown.

Add the garlic and 1 tbsp of the red curry paste. Stir until the paste has dissolved into the oil.

Add the chickpeas, tamari/soy sauce, sugar, lime juice and tomatoes. If the mixture is dry, add about 1/2 cup of water.

When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer another two-three minutes. Add the coconut milk and warm through without bringing to a boil.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp of red curry paste and stir in.

Check if you need salt. Add the basil leaves and turn off the heat.

Thai Red Curry Paste


1/2 onion, diced

3 red chillies

1-inch piece of galangal, sliced thinly (use ginger as a substitute)

1 stalk of lemongrass. Trim off the top and the hard outer leaves and slice finely

1 tbsp lime juice + zest of one lime

1 tbsp Thai hot sauce, like Sriracha

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground black or white pepper

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

Up to 1/4 cup of canola or other flavorless vegetable oil

Put all the ingredients in the grinder but add just enough oil to keep the blades moving. Add the rest of the oil if needed, to make a fairly smooth paste.

Freeze any remaining paste after use in an airtight container and thaw before using again.

While my other dogs and cats usually cuddle up at night in their own beds, Opie prefers to take over ours. I think he looks like a lion when he yawns :)


(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Thai-Style Noodles In Coconut Sauce

When I go out with friends and work acquaintances for lunch, they invariably tread gingerly around the Vegan.

“Where would you like to eat?” they ask.

“Anywhere, really?” I offer.

“No, you decide. I’m fine with anything that’s fine by you,” goes the other person.

So, with the burden of decision-making on my shoulders, I usually respond, “How about Thai?”

I don’t know anyone who’s turned that down yet.

Thai food’s a crowd-pleaser, an everybody-pleaser, really. After all, what’s not to love? The delicious bite of chilli, the fragrance of herbs like basil and lemon grass, the creamy allure of coconut milk…what more can one ask for?

Plus, it’s wonderful for a vegan because the Thai restaurants in my city, at least, offer several vegetarian and vegan options.

My dish for today is a mish-mash of many different recipes from Thai cuisine and one for which cooking purists might want to condemn me to death. But it’s a dish I’d be happy to have for my last meal.

There’s tofu in this recipe, and I marinate it for an extra flavor punch in sesame oil and screaming-hot Sriracha sauce. Yum.

Enough said. Here goes the recipe for my Thai-Style Noodles In Coconut Sauce. They are divine and delicious and to die for. And they go, of course, to It’s A Vegan World: Thai, hosted this month by the beautiful blog Akshayapaatram. Thanks, Priya!

Thai-Style Noodles In Coconut Sauce

1 package extra-firm tofu. Swaddle it in paper towels or cheesecloth and place in a colander with a heavy pan or other weight on top. Let most of the water drain out.

In a glass baking dish mix together:

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (use any other hot sauce or chilli powder if you can’t find this)

Salt to taste

1 tbsp sugar

Soak the block of tofu on each side in the sauce, then place in a 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Turn over once halfway through baking. After the tofu has cooled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

Cook 1 lb very thin whole-wheat noodles, like Japanese Somen Noodles, according to package directions and drain.

Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a wok.


5 cloves garlic, minced

Stir until the garlic starts to turn golden


1 red bell pepper, cut into very thin slices

1 zucchini, cut into thin strips

5-6 scallions, white and green parts chopped

Stir-fry until the veggies start to soften.

Now add 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste

1 cup coconut milk

1-2 tbsp tamari sauce (use soy sauce if you can’t find this)

When the coconut milk’s warmed, add the tofu and cooked noodles and stir together to coat.

Turn off the heat and garnish with 10-15 basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Add 1/2 cup of roasted, coarsely chopped peanuts

Stir to mix and serve hot.


(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.