Pinto Beans Toge

Winter is such a sad time for a vegetable lover like me. There are very few great looking produce in the super markets. So this is the time of the year that I end up buying all kinds of beans and lentils. This past week I got a big bag of Pinto beans. They looked good and they ended up in my Toge. The toge was rich and creamy and very rich even though there was hardly any added fat.
We ate this with Chapatis. I can imagine this particular dish going very well with rice.

We will need,

Pinto Beans 1 cup
Turmeric a pinch
Hing a generous dash
Coconut oil / peanut oil 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Onions 1 large
Tomatoes 2 medium
Garlic 2 cloves
Dhania powder 2 tsp
Red chilli powder 1 tsp (more if preferred spicy)
Jeera Powder 2 tsp
Green chillies 2 
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste

  •  Pick and clean the pinto beans. Wash it in multiple changes of water. Soak it in a wide mouth bowl with  plenty of water overnight. 
  • Drain the pinto beans place it in a pressure cooker along with 2 cups of water, hing and turmeric. Cook till the beans are soft. (As my mom tells me, its  belly should be soft enough to squeeze). Set it aside.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottom pot. Throw in the mustard seeds. 
  • Once the seeds splutter, throw in the onions. Cook till the onions are deep brown in colour. Keep stirring making sure they do not burn.
  • Once the onions are brown, throw in the garlic and cook for a minute or so just to get the garlic warmed up a bit. 
  • Throw in all the powders. Stir the mixture and cook for a few minutes till the spices are aromatic. 
  • Throw in the tomatoes along with all their juices. Pick up the masala and onion bits from the bottom of the pot. 
  • Add a little water if the spices are burning. Cook till the tomatoes are mushy and the spices have come together. 
  • Pour the beans along with the water into the Masala. Bring it to a boil and simmer for a few minutes.
  • Adjust salt and lemon. Throw the green chillies slit length wise. Cover and remove from heat. Serve warm with rice or roti.

Mushroomy Onion Soup

I had heard so much about the french onion soup. I had to try it. Long long ago, when I landed a job, I took Honey out for a treat to a local restaurant. I saw the soup on the menu and was very excited about trying it. I asked the waitress if the soup contained meat. She said no. I was ecstatic. I ordered the soup ate it and enjoyed it. As a new bee to this country and to the culture, I did no know the difference between 'something containing meat' and something being 'vegetarian'. It did hit me like a tonne of bricks watching a cookery show where they called for beef stock in their french onion soup. The next time we were in the same restaurant I asked the waitress the right question. No it was not vegetarian. I did not want to know what was in there. It was sad. So if you are new to the States and what to know if the food is vegetarian, shoot the straight question. Never try to state a complicated problem the way I did.
The was my only experience with the soup. But I did enjoy the soup. I had been thinking of making my own version of the soup. This time I did and loved it. It is quite simple to substitute chicken stock/beef stock call for in most recipes. Just use Porcini/ dried shiitake mushrooms. Soak them and use the soaking liquid as a substitute to stock. Throw in a few bay leaves, cloves and a piece of cinnamon. The broth will be as flavorful as any meat based stock. I routinely use this method and get excellent results all the time. The Shiitake mushrooms does smell sort of fishy but I am ok with it. I did rather do the fishy mushroom than an over processed junk called bouillon/ stock cubes. Just a look at the ingredient list of the cubes is good enough to put me off for the rest of my life. No thanks Nestle, I am good on my own.

We will need,

Mushrooms 1/2 lb chopped
Onions 2 large chopped
Shiitake mushrooms 5-6 caps soaked in hot water
Kashmiri chilli (dried)-1
Butter 1 tbsp
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Garlic 2 cloves
Soy sauce to taste
Rice vinegar/ lemon juice to taste
Ginger root 1/2"
Mint for garnish.

  • Heat the butter and oil in a thick bottom pot. Throw in the chopped  onion. Cook the onions till the onions are deep brown in colour. Keep stirring making sure that the onions do not burn. It took me about 30 minutes to get there.
  • Push the onions to the side and throw the chopped garlic. Cook for a quick minute.
  • Throw in the chopped mushrooms , the soaking liquid. 
  • Chop the shiitake mushroom and throw them into the pot as well.
  • Puncture the Kashmiri chilli and throw it  into the soup pot. Bring it to a boil.
  • Simmer and cook till the mushrooms are tender and the soup has come together.
  • Adjust the soy sauce and vinegar.
  • Garnish with fresh slivers of ginger and chopped mint. Serve warm with some crusty bread or with cheese toasts.

Spicy Orange Baby Bok Choy

Sunny boy wants to be a chef these days. He is in the kitchen all the time, trying his little hands in making one pretend dish after another. After endless chocolate, strawberry pancakes, Doses and Paddus, he finally graduated into a dish of his own. He said he was making 'strawberry chicken and ......may be banana chicken'. I am like wow! He will probably grow into a foodie like me. That reminded me of orange in savory foods and I had to try it. Soon enough, I got a box of baby bok choy. Any way there are not many options during this time of the year, except for greens, leeks and mushrooms. So Bok Choy it was in a sort of orange glaze. I make a generous batch of this glaze and enjoyed it over cheese toast, over shredded Romain and will be trying it on a lot of other things as well. It is a super yummy versatile glaze/ chutney.

We will need,

Baby Bok Choy 1 lb
Peanut oil 1 tbsp
Garlic cloves 2 
Ginger 1/2"
Oranges 2
Soy sauce 2 tsp
Chilli flakes 1 generous pinch
Sugar scant tsp
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste

  • Sqeeze the juice from and orange, place it in a thick bottom sauce pan. Heat and reduce the juice to half.
  • Stir in the soy sauce, sugar and chilli flakes. Cook it down till it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and refrigerate it in a air tight bottle.
  • Trim and clean the Bok Choy. Separate the white parts and the green parts.
  • Heat peanut oil. Throw in the garlic and ginger. Once the garlic is golden, throw in the white part of the Bok Choy. Saute it till it softened a bit. 
  • Now throw in the green parts and cover and cook just for a couple of minutes till the greens slightly wilt. 
  • Remove it to a serving platter. Drizzle the orange glaze, salt and lemon juice and serve immediately.

Lentil and Spinach Soup

They say Indian Agriculture is a gamble with the weather gods. My blogging shares a similar equation with the weather gods.  If the weather is bright and sunny, I get a chance to get some decent photographs. If I have decent photographs in my folder, I force myself to weave a story around it. Once I have a story ready, I can have the post up and running in no time. But the past few weeks, I have been at the loosing end and the weather gods have been brutal. It was one cloudy day after another and then another and it stretched into weeks. I tried my best to cox my camera to click some decent photos, but the camera could do just as much and gave me sub-par output. I kept deleting picture after picture and the entire fortnight went without a decent picture. Today the sun god was merciful enough peek through the clouds just long enough for me to get a few pictures. So here it is, a lentil soup.
I love lentils. Right now I am also loving soups. The mercury plunged long and deep enough to freeze my bones that even a spring like day a couple of days ago could not thaw it. So I am attempting to thaw my frozen bones with bowls full of spicy soups. Sometimes it does help.
I call this one a soup because we ended up eating it out of a bowl. I can equally enjoy the soup in the form of a Saaru, generously poured over hot rice with may be a dash of ghee. Serve it which ever way you like.

We will need,

Lentils / Sabuth Masoor dal  1/2 cup
Turmeric a generous pinch
Hing a generous pinch

Kashmir chillies 2

Garlic 2 cloves
Onion 1 small
Spinach 1 lb chopped
Ghee 2 tbsp
Jeera 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste

  • Boil about 1/4 cup of water, throw in the chillies and cover it for a few minutes.
  • Pick and wash the lentils in multiple changes of water. Combine it with 2 cups of water, hing and turmeric in a pressure cooker and cook the dal till soft. Remove from heat and set it aside.
  • Skin the onions, stick it to a fork and hold it on to the stove flame till the onion develops blisters and is slightly charred. Remove from heat.
  • Now combine the soaking chillies, the soaking liquid, garlic and the charred onions in a blender and pulse till smooth.
  • Heat ghee in a pot. Throw in the Jeera. Once the Jeera sizzles, gently pour the chilli paste. The mixture will splatter and got to be careful with this one. Cook till the spices are fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Pour the cooked dal and the cooking liquid into the spice mixture and bring it to a quick boil.
  • Once it boils, reduce heat and fold in the spinach. Give it a few minutes. Adjust salt and lemon juice. Remove from heat. Serve hot like a soup or over a bowl of rice.
I would have loved the spinach to retain the vibrant green, indeed it was yesterday but sitting in the refrigerator overnight the spinach has become dull. Thanks to the weather gods. Had the sun made an appearance yesterday, the photograph would have been a lot more vibrant.  I loose the gamble once again.