Quick and Easy Indian Tomato Soup (Vegetarian)


I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel a little stale posting the same ole stuff, so I’m going to digress a bit with this one.  I certainly don’t want to lose you!  Tonight I’m posting a recipe instead.  I’ve found food to be one of the greatest forces on the planet to pull people together.  It seems no matter how angry anyone is, if you bring up the topic of beloved eats it’s not long before everyone’s smiling and sharing favorites.  So I’m going to share one of my favorites with you!

This is an Indian twist on tomato soup.  It’s not your standard.  This one has a bit of body to it but I absolutely love it.  It’s a rib sticker.  If you’re a vegetarian like we are, it’s a great way to slip some light protein into your meal.  Although I wouldn’t consider this a classical Indian dish, it carries all the techniques and the flavors.  It’s also easy and quick to prepare which is a plus in the summer heat.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped tomatoes
½ cup yellow moong dal* (also known as split yellow gram)
1 tablespoon ghee or butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 green chilies, chopped
2 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp garam masala
Salt and red chili to taste

Preparation:  (About 30 minutes)

Boil the dal and tomatoes in 4 cups of water.  I use a pressure cooker and give it 4 whistles.  If not, cover and cook until the dal is soft and disintegrating.  When the mixture has finished cooking, puree in a blender and strain the mixture to remove any solids.  Set aside.  Heat your ghee or butter in a skillet fry the onion, chilies and garlic until onions are slightly browned.  Add your strained tomato/dal mixture and your spices.  Heat to bubbling while stirring constantly.  No need to cook it much longer than that.  Can be served with croutons and cream, I prefer parathas and curd.

*Moong dal is a light yellow lentil.  Other yellow lentils could be substituted.  Moong, also known as mung bean, is available at your local Indian market if your grocery store doesn’t carry it.

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Simple, Easy and Light Indian Pasta Toss


Here’s a  simple and easy vegetarian pasta dish that you can prepare in about 20 minutes.  It’s light and healthy but packed with flavor.  But don’t let it’s lightness fool you.  Zesty chilies and Indian spices amp up the flavor and give it an Indian kick.

I prefer rustic foods, so my recipes are fairly no-muss no-fuss.  I don’t peel my tomatoes.  I just core them and dice them.  If you prefer no skins, you may blanch your tomatoes and peel them ahead of time.

Because it’s wintertime, I use ghee instead of oil.  The buttery flavor adds an extra and unexpected character to this dish I enjoy a lot.  I also respect the health benefits of eating ghee this time of year.

Note:  If you’re an olive fan, you can add a small can of black olives to this recipe.

Preparation time:  approx. 20 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 package of pasta, can be any shape, we use macaroni
1 package of fresh button mushrooms, sliced
5 medium to large tomatoes, chopped
4 spring onions with tops (if you can’t find spring onions, substitute 1 large onion, chopped)
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
3 green chilies
6 fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black peppercorns
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp corriander powder
1/8 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 Tb ghee or olive oil

Directions:

While you’re waiting for your pasta water to boil, prepare your vegetables, basil and garlic.  When ingredients are sliced and chopped and ready to go, and the water is boiling and ready to receive the pasta, go ahead and add the pasta.  It should take approximately 9 minutes (average) to cook.

While your pasta is boiling, add the ghee or oil to a fry pan or small wok called a kadhai and heat on medium high.  When the ghee/oil is hot, test by dropping a few pieces of peppercorn in.  If it sizzles, it’s ready and you can add the rest of the cracked peppercorns.  Let sizzle for a minute then reduce heat to medium.  Add your garlic and mushrooms and saute.  When mushrooms are about half cooked, add the sliced spring onions and basil and continue tossing until cooked.  Add the tomatoes, chilies and the spices and let tomatoes cook down until they’ve created a nice juice but there are still bits of tomato intact.

When your pasta is done, drain off the water and add to the tomato mixture.  Toss and serve.

English to Hindi Food translator.

Copyright Jean Mishra 2011

Hearty Mega Hash Browns – Indian Style


Heart potato

Image by cuorhome via Flickr

This recipe for fry-size mega hash browns is my own concoction.  We’ve been eating it once a week since the weather has turned cold.  This is what I call comfort food.  It warms you from the inside out and leaves you feeling fat and happy.  We eat these hash browns as a meal, but they would also make a great side dish or served up with eggs in the morning.  We’re vegetarians, but you could even add cubed ham or bacon bits if you prefer.

This recipe calls for ghee.  If you’re not familiar with it, don’t despair.  Ghee is clarified butter and it’s heavenly in a dish like this.  And don’t panic.  It’s comparable to most cooking oils regarding health benefits and detriments.  Believe me, hash browns made with ghee are to-die-for.  If you want to know more about it, read here about the benefits and uses.  There’s even a video to show you how to make your own ghee.  It’s very simple.

This recipe will serve 2 hungry people as the sole meal, or 4 as a side dish with enough for seconds.  Total preparation time is approximately 30 minutes.

The Recipe:

Ingredients:

4 or 5 whole potatoes, boiled and peeled
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 bell peppers
3 green chilies, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons ghee
salt to taste, about 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds*
1/2 teaspoon corriander powder*
1/4 teaspoon garam masala*

(*These may be omitted and it will still be a tasty dish.)

Directions:

The first step is to boil your potatoes.  I wash them thoroughly and boil them whole.  I use a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time and give them about 6 whistles.  If you don’t have a pressure cooker, standard boiling or microwaving will work too.  Be careful you don’t cook the potatoes too soft.  You want to be able to pass a toothpick through the potato without resistance but you want them to stay firm and not crumble.

After the potatoes are cool enough to handle, pull the skins off.  Cut the potatoes into french fry-sized strips and set aside.

In a skillet melt your ghee on medium high heat.  Once the ghee is heated, add one or two cumin seeds to test for readiness.  If the seeds sputter, the ghee is ready and you can begin.  Add the cumin seeds and cracked peppercorns and let them sizzle for just a minute or two and add the rest of the spices.  This releases the flavor oils into the ghee.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, garlic, peppers and chilies.  Once the onions have become translucent, add your potato strips and toss.  You want everything mixed thoroughly in the pan, then let it sit and brown for 2 to 3 minutes.  With a spatula, turn the contents of the pan and let brown again.  I repeat this until the potatoes are golden brown and a little crispy on the outside.

Serve and enjoy.

Do you plan to try this recipe?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Copyright Jean Mishra 2011