Spicy Pan Fried Okra (Bhindi Masala)

I love okra.  My neighbor, Billy brought me this lovely okra from his garden.  I decided to make Bhindi Masala.  The okra in this dish is not at all slimy.  This is a classic Northern Indian recipe.  The original recipe uses dried pomegranate seeds instead of tomatoes for tartness.  Tomatoes are native to South America so the original Indian recipes do not have tomato.  My neighbor also brought me these amazing tomatoes, so I decided to use them.  These days tomatoes are used in many Indian recipes.

INGREDIENTS:

Bhindi Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of fresh okra
  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 1 inch of fresh turmeric
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala (this is a hot Indian spice mix.  I make my own, but you can buy it at an Indian grocery store)
  • 10 sprigs of cilantro leaves
  • grapeseed oil for cooking
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Bhindi Prep

  • Slice okra into thin discs.  Discard the stems.
  • Slice the onion into long thin slices
  • Pull the cilantro leaves off their stems
  • Finely dice the ginger.  If the skin is fresh leave it on.  If the skin is dried out, peel the ginger.
  • Dice the tomatoes
  • Finely mince the green chili

FRYING THE OKRA:  Frying the okra on high heat burns off the slime.  The result is an okra dish that is not at all slimy.

  • Coat a heavy non-stick skillet with grapeseed oil
  • Turn the heat on high and let the oil heat up till it is very hot
  • Add the okra in a single layer.  You may have to cook the okra in batches.  Coat the pan with more grapeseed oil after frying each batch.  If you put more than a layer of okra in the pan it will steam instead of fry.
  • Fry the okra until it is dark brown and the slime has burned off.  Let the okra sit for 4-5 minutes.  Then stir.  Then let it sit for 4-5 minutes and then stir again.  Keep doing this until no more slime appears when you stir.
  • Remove the okra from the pan into a glass bowl.  Let it sit while you make the spicy base.

COOKING THE SPICY BASE:

Bhindi Cook 1

  • Place the onions, ginger, and chilies in a large, heavy stainless steel skillet.
  • Grate in the fresh turmeric.  I love the flavor of fresh turmeric.  You can buy turmeric when it is available  and store it in the freezer.  Pull out a piece 5 minutes before you are ready to grate it.  It grates well when it is fresh or partially frozen.  Don’t thaw it out fully because it will get mushy.  I usually buy fresh turmeric at the Indian grocery store.  I have on occasion seen it at my local supermarket, but it is more expensive than at the Indian grocery store.  You can also use powdered turmeric, but it will be added later along with the garam masala.  Do not add it at this point because the powder will burn.
  • Add a little grapeseed oil and sauté the aromatics, on medium heat, till the onions turn golden.
  • Make a hot spot in the center and add the tomato paste
  • Cook the tomato paste for a minute and then stir it in

Bhindi Cook 5

  • Stir in the garam masala and let it toast for 1 minute.  If you are using powdered turmeric instead of fresh, add it along with the garam masala.
  • Add the tomatoes and cilantro leaves
  • Stir and let the tomatoes cook down for 5 minutes
  • Add the fried okra
  • Stir and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

Transfer to a platter and serve family style.  It is usually eaten with rotis, dal and yogurt.  I have not yet posted my recipe for rotis (an Indian flat bread), but here are the links for Autumn Dal (split mung beans with kale) and My Mom’s Yogurt.

Bhindi masala can also be served as a side dish with any meat or fish.  I like topping it with Amritsari Masala Fish.

Amritsari Masala Fish IG

The dish as served above makes a yummy, satisfying and figure-friendly meal.  ENJOY !!!

 

Avocado Mediterranean Salad

I found some avocados on sale at the Indian grocery store in Austin.  This is the first time that I ever saw avocados at the Indian grocery store, so I was very surprised to see them.  What surprised me even more was the low, low price.  Only 38 cents a piece!!!

When I got home, my neighbor had delivered some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from his garden.  I already had the mint and cilantro growing in my sun room.  I feel very lucky to have such wonderful ingredients.  All these fresh ingredients inspired me to make this delightful Avocado Mediterranean Salad.

Ingredients:

Avocado Med. Salad Ingredients

  • 6 avocados
  • 4 Persian cucumbers
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 Serrano chile
  • 1 large lime
  • 1 bunch of large mint leaves
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (some people really don’t like cilantro.  If you are one of these people, use flat leaf parsley instead.)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Prep:

Avocado Med. Salad Prep

  • Cut the avocados in half.  Remove the pit.  Peel them, the peel comes off easily just with the fingers.  Sprinkle them with a little lime juice so they don’t turn brown.
  • Dice the Persian cucumbers skin and all.  This should yield 2 cups.
  • Remove the seeds from the Roma tomatoes and dice them.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Finely dice the red onion.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Mince the Serrano chile.
  • Tear the leaves off the cilantro.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Tear the mint leaves into small pieces.  This should yield 1/4 cup.
  • Squeeze the juice of one large lime.  This should yield 1/4 cup.

Combine all of the above ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE AVOCADOS.  Add salt and pepper  to taste. You can also adjust the acidity to your liking by adding more lime juice if you need it.  This is your Mediterranean Salad.

Avocado Med. Salad

The Mediterranean Salad can be enjoyed on its own, but it makes an elegant and delicious presentation stuffed into an avocado.

Avocado Med. Salad Plated

 

Recipe Note:

If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, use regular cucumbers, but you will have to peel and de-seed them.  Another good alternative is hot house (also called English) cucumbers.  The English cucumbers are seedless and also do not need to be peeled.

Please let me know what you think by commenting below.

Cauliflower Thai Curry

I was inspired to make this curry because my little Kaffir Lime Leaf plant suddenly took off.  In the photo below it is sitting in the peacock planter.  I also had eggplant and orange bell peppers left over from my Chargrilled Veggies recipe.  All these ingredients lend themselves to making Thai Curry.  I served it on a bed of Buckwheat Pilaf

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Thai Curry Ingredients

  • 1 small head of cauliflower, broken down into small florets
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into pieces about the same size as the cauliflower florets
  • zest of one lime
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro stems, finely chopped
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 3 inches of fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 10 Kaffir Lime Leaves. Crush them with your fingers just before using.  This will release their oils.
  • 2 green chilies, finely minced.  I leave the seeds in.  De-seed them if you want to tone down the heat.
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of black onion seeds.  These are also called Nigella in English.  In Hindi they are called Kalonji.
  • 1 tablespoon of Thai green curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 3 inches of fresh turmeric which will be grated into the dish.  If you don’t have fresh turmeric you can use a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
  • 12 0z bag of Faroe Island scallops.  You can leave these out if you want to make the dish vegan.  I bought my scallops at our local Bastrop, Texas H. E. B.  The company who imports them is Singleton.  The Faroe Islands are between Iceland and Norway in the cold North Atlantic Ocean.  These scallops are a superior product.  They are natural, dry and come flash frozen.
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar to deglaze the pan
  • 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook:

 

  • Coat a large skillet with grape seed oil.  Add shallots, garlic, ginger, green chilies, cilantro stems, Nigella seeds, zest of the lime, Kaffir lime leaves and 1/2 the cilantro leaves.  Reserve the other half for garnish. Grate in the turmeric.  If you are using powdered turmeric DO NOT add it now.  If we add it now it will burn.  I will tell you later in the recipe when you can add it.
  • Place on medium-low heat and sauté until golden brown.
  • Add the eggplant and sauté for 5 minutes.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 3

  • Add the bell peppers and sauté until slightly brown.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 4

  • Add the tomato paste and the green curry paste.  This is the time to add the turmeric powder if you are not using the fresh turmeric.  Sauté for a few more minutes so that the pastes cook.  Deglaze with the sherry vinegar.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 5

  • Add the cauliflower and sauté until the cauliflower is slightly brown.

 

  • Add the coconut milk along with a little water.  Cover the dish and cook on a low flame until the cauliflower is fork tender.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 8

  • Add the scallops (optional).  Cover and let steam for 3 minutes.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 9

  • Add the lime juice and the reserved cilantro leaves to garnish.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 10

 

It just so happens that this weekend is Songkran, Thai New Year.  This is a traditional curry eaten to celebrate the holiday.  HAPPY SONGKRAN.

 

Chargrilled Veggies

Spring is here.  My husband fired up the charcoal grill for the first time this year.  I was inspired to do some quick and easy meal prepping for the week.

Take whatever fresh veggies you can find.  Slice them into thick pieces.  If you have peppers, leave them whole.  Just poke a hole in each pepper so that it does not explode during the cooking process.  Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with my Italian Spice Mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chargrilled Veggies Prep

In the photo above, I have tomatillos, baby carrots, baby turnips, eggplant, and a variety of peppers and squashes.  I also have Roma tomatoes but my husband put them on the grill before I had a chance to take the photo.

Grill the veggies till they are tender and charred.  I prefer charcoal but you can use whatever you like.

Chargrilled Veggies on The Grill

Once all the veggies are done.  Make a plate for today’s meal and refrigerate the rest in glass containers covered with plastic wrap.

Chargrilled Veggies Stored

 

Then all you have to do for the rest of the week is reheat the veggies and add proteins.  My husband also cooks different meats on the grill and reheats them later in the week.  I prep seafood for myself and cook what I need as my protein for the week.

Delicious, healthy and quick meals are easy to put together all week long.

 

Roasted Radishes

Ingredients:

Roasted Radish Ingredients

  • 3 bunches of radishes with their leaves
  • 3 table spoons of pomegranate molasses (may substitute balsamic vinegar)
  • 5 table spoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • pink Himalayan sea salt to taste

Prep:

Roasted Radish Prep

  • Use a paring knife separate the radishes from their greens
  • Wash the radishes and the greens
  • Roughly cut the radishes into large pieces
  • Using a paring knife, separate the greens from the tough stems and julienne them.  Soak them in water and let the sand fall to the bottom.  Remove the greens from the water.  You may have to soak several times until there is no more sand in the water you are using to wash the greens.
  • Dice the onion
  • Mince the garlic

Cook:

  • Place radishes in an oven proof dish with 2 table spoons of olive oil and 2 grinds of pink Himalayan salt.
  • Roast in a 400 F oven until radishes are tender (about 12 minutes.)

 

  • Place a pan on medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add 3 grinds of pink Himalayan sea salt

Radish Greens Cook 1

  • Cook the onion mixture till brown (about 8 minutes.)

Radish Greens Cook 2

  • Add the pomegranate molasses

Radish Greens Cook 3

  • Add the radish greens.  Stir together and cover with a lid.

Radish Greens Cook 4

  • Let greens wilt for 2 minutes and add the roasted radishes

Roasted Radish Feautue

 

ENJOY.  The radishes get tender and their sharp flavor mellows out.  I served this as one of our Thanksgiving sides.  My family loved it.

Autumn Dal (split mung beans with kale)

My neighbor, Billy, brought me the first greens of the season from his garden this morning.  These fresh greens inspired me to make a version of my dad’s favorite Dal.  The traditional version of this dish is made with spinach or mustard greens.  Autumn Dal 0

Ingredients:  Serves 6Autumn Dal 1

  • 1 cup of dried split mung beans
  • 8 large Tuscan kale leave
  • 8 large curly kale leaves
  • 1 medium onion, diced (1 cup in volume)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 small chilies, minced
  • 3 inches of ginger, minced
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)

Prep:

Autumn Dal 2

Prep the kale by cutting out the stems with a paring knife.  Then roll up the leaves and julienne them.  This is called a “Brazil” cut.Autumn Dal 3

Cooking the mung beans:

  • While you prep the vegetables soak the mung beans in enough water to cover
  • When you are done prepping the vegetables pour off the water the mung beans are soaking in
  • Add the mung beans to a crock pot with 4 cups of fresh water, a bay leaf and a dash of salt

Autumn Dal 4

  • Turn the crock pot on high and and cook the mung beans until a white foam forms on top

Autumn Dal 5

  • Use a spoon to scoop off the foam.  Discard the foam.

Autumn Dal 6

  • Continue cooking the mung beans until they become tender but not mushy.  When this stage is reached, the beans will have expanded and will look like the photo below.

Autumn Dal 7

Cooking the vegetable mixture:

  • Coat a medium saucepan with 3 tablespoons of grape seed oil.  Add the onion, ginger, chili, black mustard seeds and cumin seeds.Autumn Dal 8
  • Turn the stove to medium and saute until brown (about 8 minutes)Autumn Dal 9
  • Add the powdered spices (garam masala, turmeric and smoked paprika) along with the tomato paste. Autumn Dal 10
  • Turn the stove to low and continue to cook until the powdered spices have bloomed. This should take about 4 minutes.Autumn Dal 11
  • Then deglaze the pan with the lime juice and add the greens along with a dash of salt.Autumn Dal 12
  • Cook the greens until they wilt.  This will only take 2-3 minutes.Autumn Dal 13

Remove the bay leaf from the cooked mung beans and stir in the cooked vegetables.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Autumn Dal 14

ENJOY!!!

Oatmeal Bites

I bought these cookies at H. E. B. (our local supermarket in Bastrop, Texas).  I just had to post them because they taste delicious, have great ingredients and only 2 grams of net carbs per cookie.  I have just one with my morning chai tea and it is very satisfying.  Since the net carbs are so low, these bites are good for diabetics and those wishing to control their weight.

Here is the ingredients label.

Oatmeal Bites Ingredients

 

 

Buckwheat Pilaf

Ingredients:  Serves 6-8

20160723_163718

  • 1 cup roasted buckwheat (commonly called Kasha in Russian)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 medium onion (this one I got from our local farmer’s market)
  • 2 chili peppers ( I used one red and one green given to me by my neighbor, Linda)
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic (this also came from our local farmer’s market)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds (must use black, don’t use the yellow ones for this recipe because they have a different flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil ( you can also use any other neutral flavored oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep:

20160723_170038

  1. Mince the ginger (wash well if you want to leave the skin on), garlic and chilies
  2. Dice the onion
  3. Cover the buckwheat with water.  Let it sit while you are sauteing the onions, ginger, garlic and chilies.

Cook:

  1. Place the grape seed oil in a deep pan.  Turn the stove to a medium heat. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, chilies, black mustard seeds and cumin.20160723_170749
  2. Saute until light brown (about 5 minutes)20160723_172742
  3. Drain off the water that the buckwheat that has been soaking in.  Add the drained buckwheat to the sauteed onion mixture.

     

  4. Add one cup of water.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir.  Taste a bit of the water.  You know you have enough salt when the taste of the salt in the water is to your liking.  Cover and turn the heat to low.  Cook for about 10 minutes.20160723_173153
  5. Remove the lid.  The water should be almost gone. Add the peas.

     

  6. Stir and replace the cover.  Cook for another five minutes.  Turn the heat off and let sit until you are ready to serve.

Recipe Note:

This is a twist on my mom’s classic Indian Recipe made with white Basmati Rice

20150222_182427

I was introduced to roasted buckwheat by my husband.  I tried this recipe with the roasted buckwheat and loved its nutty flavor.  Upon doing some research, I found out that buckwheat is a low glycemic index food.  Meaning that it releases very little insulin into your body.  Its tastes like a grain but it acts like a vegetable.  It does not spike your blood sugar levels.  Thus it is good for diabetics and won’t cause you to gain weight.  It is very delicious, nutritious and happens to be gluten free.  It also cooks a lot faster than rice.

You can also use almost any other grain (farro, brown rice, pearl barley, quinoa, etc…) to make this recipe.  The amount of water  and cooking times will vary depending on the grain you use.