IFR daily

Daily Indian food, as it's cooked in my kitchen. Sometimes, not-so-Indian. No frills. No props. Just good food. A phone blog.

Category: vegetarian

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 lbs pre-cut butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 dried red chiles, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
  •  1 large clove of garlic, chopped fine
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 4-5 cups of water
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat your oven to 350F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet or baking tray with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Spread butternut squash in a single layer. Sprinkle crushed red chile and cumin seeds over the squash. Drizzle olive oil. Mix well.
  3. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked and edges of squash are lightly caramelized.
  4. While the squash is in the oven, sauté the sliced onion and chopped garlic on medium-high until the onion is browned or lightly caramelized. The onion will not evenly caramelize and that’s ok.
  5. Add roasted squash to pot, followed by cloves and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 
  6. Once it boils, lower heat to low. Using your hand blender, blend to a smooth consistency. 
  7. Either add heavy cream to the pot and mix well or garnish each bowl with about 1 tsp of heavy cream. If you have roasted pepitas, these add both color and texture to the soup.
  8. Enjoy hot!

Spicy Baby Dutch Potatoes

1.5 lbs baby Dutch potatoes
2 tbsp ghee (or oil)
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
6-7 fresh curry leaves, washed and wiped dry
2-3 hot green chiles, sliced fine
1 tbsp chana dal
1/4 cup sliced white onion
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
Lots of chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

Boil baby Dutch potatoes in their jackets, preferably using a pressure cooker. (I let my pressure cooker go for a tad bit longer and some skins split. It isn’t a problem as these are waxy potatoes).
2015/04/img_1839.jpgWhile the potatoes are cooking, heat ghee in a medium pot. Once hot enough, add mustard seeds. (Test ghee by dropping one or two mustard seeds into it, if they pop then it’s ready). When they pop, lower heat and add cumin seeds, followed by curry leaves, finely sliced green chiles and Chana dal. Toss to combine.

Add sliced onion, turmeric powder, about 1/2 tsp of salt and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until onions are soft.

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Peel the potatoes, if you like. The skin is thin and peels off easily.
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Halve some of the larger potatoes. Add all potatoes to the pot. Toss to coat potatoes with onions and spices.
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Drizzle 1 tbsp of ghee along the side of the pot. Add another 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix well taking care not to break down any of the potatoes. Spread in as much of a single layer as your pot will allow. Cook on medium for about 7-8 minutes, allowing the potatoes to crispen a tad, but making sure that they do not burn. If necessary, mix and spread out in a single layer again.
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Add chopped cilantro. Add fresh lemon juice. Mix well.

Adjust for seasonings and serve hot with rotis or with rice and dal.
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Notes:
Use any waxy potatoes. If they are larger than baby potatoes, dice them into smaller pieces once boiled and peeled.
Do not peel, chop and then boil.
Use more hot green chiles to up the heat. More lemon juice if you are like me.

Everyday Baingan Bharta

2 medium globe eggplants
2-3 tbsp oil (I use avocado oil)
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
2-3 beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
2-3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2in knob of ginger, minced
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp (or more) red chile powder
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 green chile, minced
Cilantro for garnish

Set broiler on high. Make sure you have a shelf in the middle of your oven.
Wash and dry eggplants.

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Using a knife, make a few slits in the eggplant. If you forget, the eggplant could explode in your oven. Ask me how I know or check out the picture below. *hides head in shame*
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Line a tray or ovenproof dish with aluminum foil, place eggplants on foil, and broil on high in the middle shelf of your oven for about 15-20 minutes or as long as it takes for the outer skin to char slightly. Be aware that you will not get the classic smoky flavor when eggplants are broiled instead of roasted directly on an open flame.

Set your times for anywhere between 6-8 minutes and turn the eggplant over when the timer goes off, and then set the timer for another 6-8 minutes. Repeat until done. Or until you’re done prepping and cooking the masala.

As the eggplants are being broiled, slice the onions.
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Heat oil in a large saucepan or kadhai. Add sliced onions and about 1 tsp of salt. Sauté until softened.
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Mince ginger and garlic.
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Add to onions in saucepan. Stir-fry for a couple minutes.

Chop tomatoes and add to saucepan. Cook down until tomatoes have softened. I use my own whole canned tomatoes, and break them down with a wooden spoon.

Add turmeric powder and red chile powder.
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Mix well and turn heat down.

Remove eggplants from oven and carefully slice open. That is, if they have not exploded on you! Using a spoon, scoop out the steaming hot innards.
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You do not want the charred or dried-up outer skin. Add the eggplant meat directly to the saucepan. If there is any seemingly “tough” meat left near the stalk-end of the eggplant, scoop that out, place it on your cutting board and chop into smaller pieces. Add this to the saucepan.
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Mix well and then increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes. Adjust seasonings, especially salt.

Squeeze about 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice into the bharta. Add minced green chile and chopped cilantro.
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Mix well, turn off heat and serve hot with rotis or take to a potluck as a dip with pita chips or tortilla chips.
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Toasted sandwich with fresh coconut

1 cup fresh shredded coconut
1 cup finely chopped white or red onions
2-3 Thai green chiles, chopped fine
3/4 tsp salt or to taste
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice or to taste
10 slices of white bread
Butter, enough for 10 slices of bread

Pull out that neglected sandwich maker and pre-heat it.
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Mix all ingredients together, except bread and butter. Set aside.
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Butter one side of 10 slices of your favorite sliced bread. Whole wheat bread is more nutritious but white bread tastes best for these sandwiches.

Place about 1/3 cup of coconut-onion mixture onto the unbuttered side of a slice of bread. Place carefully in sandwich toaster, buttered side down.
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Spread the mixture evenly over the slice, leaving some margin on the edge. (If my butter looks unusually yellow, it’s because — gasp! — I ran out of butter and used ghee instead, albeit a little more sparingly than I would butter.
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Cover with another slice of bread, buttered side on the outside. Cover and toast for about 5 minutes or as long as it takes in your sandwich maker to make crispy golden sandwiches.
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The mixture will be very hot so allow some steam to escape before you chomp down into it. Serve hot!
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These are my favorite toasted sandwiches. My mother would make these for breakfast on Sunday mornings. I can eat them for any meal.

Spinach and Red Pepper Frittata

2 tbsp oil
1 cup diced onion
2 red peppers
1/2 lb baby spinach, coarsely chopped or not
2 big cloves of garlic
2 hot green chiles
1/2 dried red chile (optional)
3 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup Parmagiano cheese
1/8 cup dill leaves, loosely packed and chopped
A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt
Few grinds of black peppercorns

Slice red peppers into strips and lightly caramelize them on a cast iron griddle.
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Mince together garlic and green chiles.
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Heat oil in a 12 inch saucepan. Add onions with a good pinch of salt and cook on medium heat until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and green chile mixture. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.

Beat eggs with milk and the rest of the salt and a few grinds of black peppercorn. If you like, crumble a dried red chile into the egg. It looks quite pretty.

Add caramelized red peppers.
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Add spinach.

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Cook on medium-high, stirring frequently, until spinach is wilted and the resulting mixture is not very wet.
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Spread the vegetable mixture evenly over the saucepan. Mix cheeses together and sprinkle evenly over the vegetables.
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Sprinkle chopped dill evenly over the cheese layer. Carefully pour beaten egg mixture into saucepan. Sprinkle evenly with chopped cilantro.
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Cook covered on medium-low until eggs are set, about 7-9 minutes.
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Cut into 8 wedges and serve immediately.

This is based on a recipe for a red pepper and spinach quiche from NYT. I made a frittata as my oven was otherwise occupied.

Mildly-spiced Roasted Cauliflower

1 small head of cauliflower
1-1.5 tbsp neutral oil
1/2 tsp nigella seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp red chile powder
3/4 tsp salt
2-3 tsp lemon juice

Heat oven to 400F. I like to use the convection roast feature of my oven.

Clean cauliflower by removing leaves and discarding stalk.
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Break or cut into small florets and place in medium mixing bowl.
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Mix seeds and red chile powder in a small bowl.
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Add salt and oil to spices and mix well.
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Pour spice mixture over cauliflower florets and rub it into the florets gently using your clean hands.

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and spread the florets out in a single layer.
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Place in the center rack of your oven and roast for 20 minutes, turning the florets after 10 minutes. Roast until tender, yet crunchy, and browned on the edges. Do not burn.

Once done, pull tray out of oven and add lemon juice. Toss with a wooden spoon to mix. Or, like me, gather the sides of the foil and toss. Do this only after making sure that the foil is not too hot to handle.
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Serve immediately.

This is a great after-school snack or an appetizer. It also works well to tide over a hungry teen until dinner is ready.

You can change the spices; use your preferred type of oil. Make it spicier by adding finely chopped green chiles. Add minced garlic to the spice mix or keep it whole and roast with the cauliflower. The possibilities are endless.

Vange-batatyachi Bhaji (eggplant with potatoes)

2-3 tbsp oil
Pinch asafetida
2 medium garlic cloves, julienned
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
5-6 small red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium globe eggplant, diced
1/2 jar of canned tomatoes (~equal to half 14oz can)
1/2 – 1 tsp of garam masala
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1/2 tsp sugar
Water as needed
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan or kadhai. When it shimmers, add asafetida. Inhale the amazing aroma and only then add garlic. Let the garlic sizzle but don’t let it caramelize or burn.

Add turmeric powder and quickly add the potatoes. Stir to coat the potatoes with oil. Add diced eggplant.
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Add enough water to barely cover the vegetables. (Medha may have added a tad bit more water than necessary.)
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Add 1 tsp salt and then cover and cook on medium until the potatoes are almost cooked through. 10-15 minutes. Check a couple of times during this process to ensure that the veggies aren’t sticking to the pan as well as to ensure that the water has not evaporated away. Add more water as needed. This dish is not very soupy but it isn’t dry either.

Add tomatoes, breaking them down if they are like mine—canned whole—and stir to mix well.

Add garam masala. I used Koli Masala made by Anjali of Anna Parabrahma. I usually add 1/2 teaspoon garam masala to begin with and, if necessary, add more later.

Add red chile powder, sugar and another 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir and simmer on medium-low until all the flavors have combined.
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Adjust seasonings. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot over khichadi with yogurt on the side or with rotis.
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This is a simple yet hearty dish that I make on a regular basis. My mother would add diced onions and stir-fry them for a few minutes before adding the veggies. Since Medha was making this off a badly scribbled list of ingredients and verbal instructions, I chose to keep it simple for her and didn’t include onions. Add them if you wish; they taste wonderful.

This can be served as a side. Most of the times though, this is the main dish for us.

Papeta par ida

5-6 cups diced boiled red potatoes
8 eggs, whisked
2-3 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 kadipatta, washed and dried
2-3 hot green chiles, chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp red chile powder

Lesson learned: use a saucepan that goes from stovetop to oven. Cooking on the stovetop, even with a lid on the saucepan, makes for a less moist dish as the eggs take a long time to set. Smaller quantities can be finished on the stovetop with no problems.

Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat the oil, on medium-high, in a large saucepan that can go from stovetop to oven. When it shimmers, add cumin seeds. Allow them to sizzle but take care not to burn them.
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Turn the heat down, add green chiles and kadipatta. Cover with a splatter guard or lid to avoid a mess on your stove.
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Add grated ginger and turmeric powder. Stir.
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Add diced potatoes. I peeled half and left the other half unpeeled. Add 1 tsp salt. Mix gently without breaking up potatoes.
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Sprinkle cilantro evenly over the surface.
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Add remaining salt to whisked eggs. Pour evenly over potato mixture. Make “holes” in the mixture by separating the potatoes in several spots, to allow the whisked eggs to quickly get to the bottom of the pan. Cook on medium-high for 4-5 minutes or until the edges of the eggs look set. Sprinkle with red chile powder.
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Transfer to your oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until eggs are cooked through. To check if they are cooked, cut a small slit in the center of the pan. If the eggs are still semi-solid or they run, bake for a few more minutes.
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Cut into wedges or squares and serve with toast or flatbread or just like that.

I took this to a neighborhood brunch potluck with my pudina-adrak chai. I tried to get them to say papeta par ida. Some tried. Others just called it a spicy Indian frittata. They will learn.

Chhole with turnips (Shalgam-wale chhole)

4-5 cups pre-soaked garbanzo beans (chhole / Kabuli chana)
OR
1.5-2 cups dried garbanzo beans, soaked
2-3 tbsp oil
1 cup chopped white onion
1 tejpatta
2-3 Thai green chiles
1 inch piece of ginger
2 large cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 tomatoes or half a pint jar (16oz) of canned tomatoes
1 black cardamom
1/2 tbsp garam masala
4 medium turnips, peeled and diced
4 small red potatoes, either raw or boiled, peeled and diced
1 tsp of chaat masala (optional) OR
Juice of half lime (optional)
2 tsp salt or to taste
half bunch cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in the pan of your pressure cooker. When it shimmers, add tejpatta and when it changes color, add chopped onions. Sweat on medium-high. Add 1 tsp salt to make them cook down faster.
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While the onions are cooking down, coarsely pound ginger, garlic and green chiles using your mortar-pestle. Or grate the ginger-garlic and chop the chiles.
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I was out of ginger and really regretted not making a dash to the Indian store yesterday. But I made do with what I had on hand and skipped ginger.
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Add ginger-garlic-chile mixture to the pressure cooker and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add turmeric powder and garam masala. I used Malvani masala.

Add tomatoes, breaking them down if they are not diced small.

Drain soaked garbanzo beans and add to the pressure cooker.
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Add diced turnips.
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If your potatoes are uncooked, add them now. If they are boiled, wait until later. Add 4-5 cups of water.

Add black cardamom. Smell it. It is smoked and best added while braising or once the liquid has been added to the pot. In general, do not toast this spice on dry heat as that makes it bitter.
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Add 1 tsp of salt.

Cook under pressure for 3-4 pressure releases and do a quick release, if you know how to do it safely. Otherwise, allow the pressure to release naturally and open the pressure cooker when safe. It may seem too watery but stir it gently and cook for about 5 minutes, allowing the potatoes to thicken the sauce.

If you have boiled potatoes, add them now and cook on medium for 5 minutes. I dice them rather small so that they near-dissolve into the sauce.

Stir in cilantro.
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Add chaat masala or lime juice. If you know me well enough by now, you know I added both!

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Serve hot over steamed rice or with rotis, with yogurt on the side.

We had chhole with Shalgam for dinner last night. I also got two lunch boxes and enough for one more weeknight dinner out of this.
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Bhadang

There is no right or wrong way to make bhadang, especially if you live in landlocked Colorado.

3-4 tbsp oil
1/2-3/4 tsp black mustard seeds
A good pinch asafetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 or more Thai green chiles, sliced fine
9-10 curry leaves, ripped to release more flavor
4-5 purple kokum, chopped fine
OR
A good pinch of citric acid crystals
2-3 tsp sesame seeds
3/4-1 cup raw peanuts
1/4 cup dalia
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
7-8 cups Kolhapuri kurmura (puffed rice, found at the Indian store)
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Heat oil in a large kadhai or wok or pot on medium-high. When it shimmers, add black mustard seeds. When they pop, add asafetida. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add cumin seeds.

Next add green chiles and ripped kadipatta (curry) leaves. Toss.

Add kokum. Enjoy the aroma!

Add sesame seeds, followed by peanuts, dalia and turmeric powder. Add salt and sugar and stir until peanuts are cooked, about 5 minutes.
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Add kurmura in 2-3 batches. Tossing constantly.
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Allow the kurmura to get crispy. Adjust seasonings and enjoy with a hot cup of tea!

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Store in an air-tight container. It’s all gone in a couple of days.

Many thanks to Anjali for the suggestion of using kokum in bhadang, an invaluable tip that she suggested seven years ago. I haven’t forgotten! And many thanks to Aparna for sending me gorgeous kokum from Goa that I hoard like gold.