Tofu Paneer Bhurji

Tofu Paneer BhurjiA bhurji, in India’s culinary lexicon, is a messy scramble of any sort. There’s anda bhurji, or egg bhurji, a spiced-up version of scrambled eggs that blazed a path from India’s street food stalls to become a popular  breakfast staple in every home kitchen. And then there’s paneer bhurji, a popular restaurant dish made with the creamy Indian cottage cheese paneer, that’s spicier, more lavish, and — dare I say it — more delicious.

In recent weeks, I was hit by a deep craving for Paneer Bhurji. Maybe it was the neat slabs of paneer I saw in the refrigerator at the Indian grocery store that did it, or maybe it is this stubborn cold weather that refuses to shake off (it’s snowing here in DC today), making me crave warm, spicy, rich food. Either way, I wanted nothing more the other night than to scoop up some Paneer Bhurji with a puffy naan and stuff my face.

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Tofu Paneer BhurjiThere was nothing to stop me. In my refrigerator were some firm tofu, green peppers and red onions — perfect ingredients for a marvelous vegan Paneer Bhurji. And a healthy one, because while paneer is packed with fat and cholesterol, tofu isn’t. But there was one thing. While the tofu would make a perfect stand-in for the paneer, texture-wise, it would not have that very important richness that the cheese would bring to the dish. And that’s when it hit me: cashew cream, an ingredient I have often used as a cream substitute in Indian dishes.  A little bit would go a long way in making my Tofu Paneer Bhurji taste as luxurious as the original dish.

So Tofu Paneer Bhurji it was that night, and it was quite perfect. In fact, it didn’t last around here for more than a few minutes. Which is not to say that I ate it all up. Erm…let’s not get into that now, ok?

Tofu Paneer Bhurji

Vegan Paneer Bhurji
Recipe Type: Side
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 14-oz pack firm tofu. Place the tofu in a colander and cover with a paper napkin. Place a heavy weight on top and leave it alone for 15 minutes to drain out any excess water from the tofu. Don’t worry if the tofu crumbles a bit– you are going to crumble it anyway.
  • 12 cashew nuts, soaked in 1/2 cup of water for 30 minutes, then blitzed into a smooth paste
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and saute until they start to brown.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger. Saute for a minute, then add the green peppers, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric and paprika. Stir to mix and add the tomato puree.
  3. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato puree is thick and a few shades darker.
  4. Crumble the tofu and add it to the saucepan. Stir well to mix,
  5. Cook the mixture on medium heat for about five minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add the cashew cream and salt to taste. Turn off heat.
  7. Stir in the coriander leaves and lemon juice. Serve hot with [url href="http://holycowvegan.net/2012/04/mirch-ka-saalan-with-peshawari-naan.html" target="_blank" title="naan"]naan.[/url]
Calories: 95 Fat: 5.4 grams Carbohydrates: 7.7 grams Fiber: 2 grams Protein: 5.6 grams

Tofu Paneer Bhurji

 

Sprouted Mung Salad (Moong Usal)

Mung Bean SaladI have for you today a very simple, very nutritious and very delicious sprouted mung bean salad that, in my part of India, goes by the name of Moong Usal.

There’s something about sprouting beans that brings out the poet in me. Watching those tiny little white squiggles shoot out of the legume and grow, like magic, over a period of days and sometimes just hours makes my jaw drop in wonder to this day, no matter how many times I do it. And as a cook and an eater, I love just how delicious and nutritious these little nuggets are. Not to mention versatile. You can pile them into a sandwich, cook them into a curry like this classic Moogache Molay Gathi, turn them into an eggless omelet, or just saute them a little, add a dash of salt and pepper, squeeze on some lemon, and you’ve got a dish to die for.

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Mung Bean UsalOf all the legumes you can sprout, moong or mung beans are probably the  quickest and the easiest. Even in my winter kitchen, with temperatures dipping below freezing outside, the sprouts I used in this salad were ready in about two days with the minimal care and attention. So if you haven’t sprouted beans before — and you really should — mung beans are a great place to start. Here’s a quick tutorial on sprouting beans:

Moong beans– Measure the beans, pick over them for any stones, then wash them thoroughly by placing them in a colander and rinsing in cold water.

–Place the beans in a container and cover with three inches of water. Set aside for eight hours or overnight.

–After the beans have soaked overnight or for 8 hours, strain them in the colander, preferably one large enough to hold the beans. Rinse the beans under cold, running water.

–Cover the colander with a kitchen towel and set aside. Twice a day, rinse the legumes, let the water run out, and then set them aside again, covered with the kitchen towel.

–After a day you should see tiny little white shoots developing. I usually let my beans sit another day, continuing to rinse and drain, until the shoots are a little bigger.

And that’s it, really. You don’t need any fancy equipment to sprout beans. You don’t even need a large colander if you don’t have one– just make sure that you drain out all the water from the container every time you rinse the beans. Easy peasy.

Sprouted Moong Beans

Sprouting beans is an exercise worth the small amount of work because it makes an already healthy superfood even healthier– imagine that! The quantities of proteins, vitamins and minerals in legumes soar when they are sprouted, and even better, the legume becomes more easily digestible. Now why would you argue with that?

Once you have your sprouted beans all set to go, my Moong Usal comes together in minutes with a minimal number of ingredients that you should already have in your pantry. Usal is a classic Maharashtrian dish– food from my mother’s land. Maharashtrians use a special kind of spice blend– goda masala, which includes coconut– to make usal and you can look up my recipe for goda masala in my DIY spice blends list, if you have a mind to make it. But because this is a minimalist, easy version I used garam masala which you likely already have in your spice box.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Sprouted Mung Salad

Sprouted Mung Salad (Moong Usal)
Recipe Type: Side
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry mung beans or moong, sprouted (see tutorial above)
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 2 green chillies, slit through the middle
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala (use goda masala if you have this)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large wok or kadhai or saucepan
  2. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Saute until the onions start to turn golden-brown.
  3. Add the garlic and green chillies and saute for a few seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, coriander and cumin powders and cook until the tomato starts to break down but isn’t quite mushy.
  5. Add the sprouted mung beans and mix well. Cover and let the beans cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir every once in a while and, if needed, add a couple of tablespoons of water to prevent sticking. You can let the beans cook longer if you want them to be softer. I like mine a little al dente with some crunch to them.
  6. Add salt to taste, sugar and the lemon juice. Mix in the coriander leaves.
  7. Serve hot.
Calories: 40 Fat: 0.8 grams Sugar: 4.5 grams Fiber: 1.9 grams Protein: 2.7 grams

Moong bean Usal

 

Easy Chana Masala

Chana MasalaI bought this huge can of chickpeas from the warehouse store the other day– bigger than two people can possibly use up in a week’s time, but a six-pound can for under $3 just looked too good to pass up to someone who thinks she could eat chickpeas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert. Well, maybe.

So I got home, promptly opened the can, and did the easiest thing I know to do with chickpeas– made hummus. I still had a ton of chickpeas left over so they went into a box and in the refrigerator (this is common sense but don’t store your leftover canned goods in the can) and there they waited for a couple of days until I started to squirm at the thought that those idle chickpeas might be planning to go rogue on me. And although I am not the least wasteful person you’ll ever know (I am embarrassed to admit that, but it’s true), the idea of wasting all those delicious chickpeas just didn’t sit well with me.

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Chana MasalaSo into the kitchen I went and cooked up some chickpea burgers that I shared with you the other day. I still had a truckload of chickpeas left over. And then, as I wondered what to cook for our friends Willis and Naomi who were coming home for dinner this past weekend, the light bulb went off. Chana Masala, of course.

Chana Masala  is a surefire crowd pleaser — no one who loves Indian food does not love this tangy, spicy, tomatoey dish. It is also a supremely healthy dish, packed with protein and fiber and low in fat. And for the time-starved cook Chana Masala can be a blessing, especially if you have the right ingredients on hand.

I had shared a chana-masala-from-scratch recipe with you on this blog long ago, and that post includes a recipe for Bhatura, a delicious, puffy fried bread often served with Chana Masala. This recipe is almost as good for half the trouble and time. The only thing you need to chop up is onions and coriander, if you are using it as a garnish. You do need ginger and garlic paste, but here’s a time-saving tip– if you cook Indian food often, take some time on a weekend or a slow night to make some ginger-garlic paste and store it in the refrigerator.Here’s a simple recipe for that:

Ginger-Garlic Paste: Take 4 heads of garlic and a 4-inch piece (or pieces adding up to 4 inches) of ginger. CHop roughly, place in a blender and whiz, adding just enough water to keep the blades moving. You should have a thick paste at the end of it. Scrape it all into a mason jar and store it in the refrigerator where it can sit for weeks, saving you time every day.

Now on to the main recipe, for my quick and easy Chana Masala. It’s a keeper. Our friend, Willis, a carnivore for sure, eyed it, proclaimed it “Bill Clinton food,” then proceeded to devour it anyway.

Enjoy!

Chana Masala

Easy Chana Masala
Recipe Type: Curry
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (if you decide to take the long way and cook with dry garbanzo beans, soak them overnight and cook with enough water to cover until they are really tender. It should take about an hour or more. You want the cooked chickpeas to be mashable)
  • 3-4 cups [url href="http://holycowvegan.net/2014/01/vegetable-stock.html" target="_blank" title="Vegetable Stock"]vegetable stock[/url] (preferable) or water
  • 1 1/2 cups canned, pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if you want less heat)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chana masala powder (You can find my recipe on the [url href="http://holycowvegan.net/2008/10/chana-bhatura-trip-down-memory-lane.html" target="_blank" title="Homemade spice blends"]DIY spice blends page[/url] and you can make a batch and keep it for future use, but even easier, you can also buy this at the Indian store.Use garam masala if that is all you have on hand)
  • 1 tsp aamchoor (mango powder, also at the Indian store)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they sputter, add the onions.
  2. Add some salt and saute the onions over medium heat until they start to get brown spots.
  3. Add the tomato puree and the powdered spices, including the turmeric, cayenne, paprika, chana masala powder and aamchoor. Let the mixture cook until the tomato puree is a few shades darker and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Scrape so it doesn’t burn. This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 2-3 cups of the vegetable stock or water and chickpeas and let the curry come to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Add salt and sugar. If the mixture is too dry, add more stock or water
  5. Garnish with the coriander and serve hot with rotis, bhatura or rice. I love it with some simple pilaf rice
Calories: 135 Fat: 2.3 grams Sugar: 6.6 grams Fiber: 6.5 grams Protein: 6 grams

 Chana Masala

Creamy Phool Makhana Curry (Lotus Seed Curry)

phool makhana curry

So it’s time to say goodbye to another year, time to make new resolutions, time to lose weight, time to read more books, time to take longer walks with the dogs, time to cook more delicious vegan food, and yes– time to blog more.

This past year’s been a rocky road for Holy Cow! She turned three in November, which seemed like a pretty big milestone considering I have rarely stuck to any one project for that long. But there were obstacles that kept me from giving her as much attention as I should have– I was juggling a new job, the long and arduous road to recovery that followed Lucy’s diagnosis with osteosarcoma, Freddie’s slow decline as he struggles with cancer, and two repeated mishaps with the camera that made it impossible to post, along with about two dozen other things.

But for those of you who’ve missed seeing me online, I have good news: I am going to be around much more– perhaps more than you’d like– in 2011. Because I’ve missed you even more.

So here I am, with the final post of 2010– a creamy, delicious, almost incredibly exquisite curry made with an ingredient that may not be familiar to some of you: lotus seeds, or phool makhana.

Lotus seeds are a wonderful treat and you can buy them at any Indian grocery store here in the United States. When I started to cook with them, I discovered they make a wonderful meat substitute. The seeds, dalmatian-like with a creamy color mottled with black specks, are puffy and light. You would usually cook them by frying or roasting them first in a little oil which makes them rather crispy and delicious and subtly flavorful– almost a wonderful snack in their own right. But an even more delicious treat is to dunk them in a spicy curry which changes their texture to slightly chewy.

phool makhana

I use a paste of cashews to make the makhana curry creamy, but coconut milk would work too although, of course, it would alter the flavor.

This is a great recipe for winter– it’s healthy but you practically don’t need any fresh ingredients. Even the peas are frozen, and everything else came from the pantry.

For those of you who were expecting my vegan custard tart post, sorry, but I am going to undertake that project only after Desi gets his camera back from the repair shop– heaven knows why it’s taking them that long! The pictures for today’s post were taken on my phone which, although not a great substitute for the real thing, makes a pretty decent picture, especially in the very talented Desi’s hands.

Do keep reading after the recipe for five tips from my kitchen to make 2011 a great year, cooking-wise.

Lotus Seed Curry

 

 

Creamy Phool Makhana Curry (Lotus Seed Curry)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Curry
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups phool makhana or lotus seeds (they keep in the pantry forever-- I am not even sure which year I bought mine, and they're still great)
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil, like canola
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed or minced very fine
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ to 1 tsp red chilli powder, like paprika or, if you've more adventurous tastebuds, cayenne
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ¼ cup kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves-- pick them up when you shop for the lotus seeds at the Indian grocery store)
  • ⅓ cup of cashews
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet and add the lotus seeds. Stir-fry them, stirring constantly, until they turn golden-brown and crisp. You don't want them to blacken.
  2. Put the lotus seeds in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Make a paste with the cashews and 1 cup of water and set aside.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a skillet (if you used a cast-iron one to roast the lotus seeds, replace it with a nonstick or stainless steel one for the rest of the recipe. You're using tomato in the recipe and acidic ingredients don't react happily to cast iron).
  5. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until it turns transparent, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for a few seconds.
  7. Add the powdered spices and saute another 30 seconds.
  8. Add the tomato puree and  mix thoroughly. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes darken and the oil begins to express itself.
  9. Add the lotus seeds, the frozen green peas, and the kasoori methi. Give it all a good stir and a cup of water.
  10. Once the curry comes to a boil, add the cashew paste and salt to taste. If the curry is too thick, add some water. I like my curry rather thick-- perfect to scoop up with an oven-fresh
  11. naan.
  12. Spritz in a few drops of lemon juice for some added complexity. Garnish with chopped coriander.
  13. Enjoy!

***

Amrita of Vegan India!, a wonderful resource for vegans and aspiring vegans in India (may their tribe increase) wrote this lovely article about Holy Cow! A big thank you, Amrita!

***
And finally my New Year’s gift to you: some tips from the kitchen that make cooking– and eating– more fun and healthy in my home, and less of a chore.

1. Make cooking fun, not a project. There are no hard and fast rules when you cook in your kitchen, and there never should be any. Experiment to your heart’s content, unless you’re a newbie cook and would do well to learn before you innovate. And if you are a newbie cook afraid to dabble, this is the year to get started. Cooking is one of the most creative endeavors you can ever launch on, and the most rewarding, because who doesn’t appreciate good food? Don’t ever let the fear that something will turn out badly hold you back. And trust me, no matter how rough your start, you will get better with practice.

2. Cook with love and pride. Which also means don’t take dumb shortcuts. If something is worth cooking, or someone is worth cooking for, give it a 100 percent effort. I once knew a woman who, the day before she was to contribute a kheer (an Indian pudding) to a community festival found out that she hadn’t cooked enough. Her solution? She took the container to the sink, turned on the faucet, and voila! More kheer. That’s a true story and I for one was glad I wasn’t at that festival the next day.

3. Cook globally.  Time was when women cooked the recipes their mothers and grandmothers handed down to them. But today you can use your culinary skills to transport yourself to new places and new cultures as only books or actual travel can. No matter where you live, it is possible to find all sorts of exotic ingredients in supermarkets and ethnic grocery stores. What’s stopping you?

4. Respect and contemplate the food you eat. Food does not arrive magically in a supermarket, all wrapped up and bagged. There are tons of processes and politics behind food that severely impact human beings and animals around the globe who are far less privileged than we are.  Being aware of what these are can make you not just a smarter consumer but also a healthier as well as more compassionate one.

5.  Dare to eat animal-free foods. Think of this: 2010 was the year that vegan cupcakes conquered the Cupcake Wars on the Food Network and the year that Bill Clinton, once an affirmed carnivore (who can forget his famous midnight fast-food binges when he was in the White House?) went on air to swear about the benefits of his new plant-based diet and how it had transformed his health. How much more evidence do we need that plant-based diets are healthy and delicious too?

A very happy 2011, all! May every creature — furry, winged, human and crawly– find compassion and peace and joy on our beautiful Earth.

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

 

Creamy Tomato Coconut Curry

Creamy Tomato Curry
One of the dishes that I cook over and over again is this decadent-tasting but healthy Tomato Coconut Cream Curry.It is an ideal recipe for someone who is new to cooking Indian food — or just new to cooking — because of its sheer simplicity. There’s no grinding, complicated spice mixes and marinating required. Once you have all the ingredients on hand, it takes just minutes from start to finish.

All you need to accompany this curry is some boiled white rice, like basmati, and some papad or some oven-roasted potatoes, for a dinner that’s out of this world.

One quick note: While I often use canned tomatoes while cooking, especially during winter when fresh tomatoes are not easy to come by or just too expensive, this is one of those dishes where fresh tomatoes are absolutely necessary. Because canned tomatoes taste too acidic, the resulting preparation would just not have the luscious sweetness that makes this dish so special.

Creamy Tomato Coconut Curry
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Curry
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 medium tomatoes, well-ripened and diced
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk (you can substitute with light coconut milk but the end result will be more acidic, although still delicious)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 pinch asafetida or hing (optional)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and asafetida.
  3. When the cumin sputters, add the tomatoes, chili powder and turmeric.
  4. Let the tomatoes cook on medium heat about 5-7 minutes until most of the tomatoes have broken down.
  5. Add the coconut milk and salt.
  6. Warm through but turn off the heat before it comes to a boil.
  7. Serve hot with rice.

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