Sol Kadhi

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The Saras Mela is on in Bandra Reclamation. It’s a local exhibition of Maharashtra where people from all over the state put up stalls of food and artifacts. On sale are many Konkani and local spices and handicrafts. I went there looking for kokam butter (vegan vegetable butter) and kakavi (liquid palm sugar) but unfortunately both got over by the day I visited the mela. However I did manage to get hold of some spice mixes, mint powder, dried coriander and kokam powder. Also I ate a hearty meal of the famous maharashtrian dish thalipeeth.

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Kokam is a beautiful violet colored fruit which in dried form is used in almost all Konkani dishes. It gives a sour flavor to dishes. My favourite dish using kokam is sol kadhi. Usually kadhi is made from butter milk (dairy). Kadhi can be made from any vegan yoghurt too. However sol kadhi is made from coconut milk and hence is vegan! Its simple to prepare and requires no cooking and hence its raw too!

I had to put my kokam powder to good use so I made it immediately. Now one can buy coconut milk in tetrapak but this tastes best with fresh milk. The easiest way to make coconut milk is to drink coconut water which is easily available all over the city and then ask the vendor to scrape the cream inside and carry it home in a packet. Now grind this in a mixieand add kokam powder, salt, ginger chilli paste and garnish with fresh coriander leaves and here it is – the refreshing sol kadhi. Sometimes I even carry it for long hot journey to work.

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Tricoloured salad and flat bread

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Wishing all Indians a very Happy Republic Day! There was a flag hoisting and sports function in my building society just like all other societies. Independence and Republic day are all about the tricolour. I did not cook anything tricoloured for today but attended an organic farming workshop which had food in tricolours! During the workshop, we learnt how to make organic soil in small pits made by bricks on the rooftop of a college in Andheri.

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This type of organic farming includes making brick pits and layering them leaves soaked in amrut jal and red soil alternatively. Now whether amrut jal is vegan or not is a metter of debate as it is a mixture of cow dung and cow urine left for 4 days and then diluted in huge containers. A mix of fallen leaves are soaked in it. The layers thus formed are tilled once in a week to create air circulation and the soil is ready in about 4 long months! But once prepared this amrut mitti (organic soil) is forever.

Anyways coming back to food, The trilocour salad is made by carrots, radish and spinach. The flat bread is also made by flattening a mix of three doughs – carrot paste, plain and spinach paste. And yes I forgot to mention before there was tricoloured uttapam too as you can see in my plate below. There were several other dishes like the home made whole wheat and millet bread and homemade strawberry jam! All in all an  awesome start to a sunday morning!

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Kung Pao mixed veggies

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Christmas eve is when we brought Bobo home. And a year later choco too. So this is the day we celebrate the birthday of Bobo and Choco every year. I have a guest list and a menu list ready. As I went grocery shopping keeping in mind the party, I came across this thai mix in the grocery section.

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Isnt it wonderful to have all thai greens in one place rather than scouting for each one separately. Well I had thought of trying to make Chinese Kung Pao potatoes inspired by my colleague’s mom but now I had these thai flavours in hand so I decided to marry the two – veggies in chinese chilli sauce with thai aroma and after taste. Marriage wasnt a bad one after all.

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I just chose few veggies besides baby potatoes and chopped them into even sizes. I added carrots too though they are not in the pic and some soya chunks soaked in water for a few minutes. Except for the baby potatoes nothing else needed to be boiled.

I fired the boiled potatoes first and then added all the other veggies and shallow fried them in 2 tsp of olive oil for a few minutes. Then I added 1 tsp of soy sauce and little thai curry paste. To have a little saucy effect, I added 1 tsp of cornflour too. Toss them all together and sprinkle generously with all the thai greens. Let the aroma work its magic for a few minutes under the pan cover even after the gas is switched off. And thats it! We are ready to eat. With potatoes, soy chunks and veggies this indeed is a complete meal and an anyday comfort meal.

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Strawberry cheese cake

photo 3This cheesecake is easy to make, bake and fake. And you wont believe its not cheese but tofu! I had this silken tofu of Mori Nu lying in my fridge and a box of fresh strawberries and I thought let me just give this a try. Next day I carried it to work and gave it to my colleagues, noone could say it was non diary cheese cake.

Ingredients:

Firm tofu (Mori Nu) – 1 packet  (8oz)

Strawberries – 13 to 15

Sugar – 1/2 cup

Egg replacer – 1/4 cup

For the crust – 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp cinamon, 1 tsp margarine, 1-2 tsp oil

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Method:

– Stir the eggreplacer in 1/4 cup warm water and keep aside.

– Clean the strawberries and lightly run them in a mixie. Now in a pan cook these chunky strawberry pieces with sugar for about 10 min

– While the syrup is cooking, prepare the crust. Mix all the ingredients for crust and layer a pan with it. Bake it at 180C for 15 min

– Meanwhile run the tofu in mixie till smooth. Add the eggreplacer mixer and run some more. Now add the strawberry preserve and run the mixer. My preserve looks dark because I used brown sugar.

– When the crust is done, layer the filling and bake in the over for 30-40 minute.

– Once it is done and firm, let it cool. Keep refrigerated for a couple of hours and serve chilled!

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Mysore Pak

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This weekend was really hectic packed with activities. Firstly I attended the vegan potluck on Saturday in Bandra. Though I had planned to carry Mysore Pak for the potluck and had made it in advance, making it in advance actually turned out to be a bad idea, because I finished the yummy sweet eating a couple everyday and by the time it was Saturday I did not have enough left. So I carried strawberries wrapped in choclate to the potluck. This is what they looked like.

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 They were nothing compared to Mysore Pak yet people loved the juicy red strawberries dipped in choclate. There were many other yummy vegan dishes at the potluck. There was bottlegourd soup, pasta, mix veg raita, vegetable pot pie, stir fry potatoes, 2-3 types of salads and lots of desserts. I ate a plate full of desserts and both my main course and dessert plates looked like this. Also is the picture of my favourite dish of the event made by Saroj. I wont be giving out the recipe till I try it myself.

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photo 1On sunday was the pinkathon, a marathon of ladies for breast cancer awareness. Check out our pics in pinks. Before the marathon was a warm up session by Zumba dancers of the Shiamak troupe. It was pitch dark at 5:30 am, the time when we were supposed to gather and I decided to drive down to avoid the chill. However once we reached the venue, it was party time! There was lots of music, dancing, giggling, shouting all that girls love to do. We wound up the event by having south indian breakfast at Matunga.

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Later in the evening on the same day I went with a couple of friends to Mona Gandhi’s Khanabadosh event which is a talk on raw foods. Mona had brought a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and taught us how to make various salad dressings and salads. Here is what my salad plate looked like.

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Now back to the Mysore Pak. This recipe is actually inspired by Vegan Richa’s ebook on diwali sweets and I being a south indian, had to try making this one. Here it goes-

Ingredients:

Chickpea flour – 1 cup

Coconut oil – 3 tbsp

Raw Sugar – 1.5 cups

Water – 1/2 cup

Oil – 1 cup (mix of canola oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter)

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food 039Method:

– Roast the chickpea flour for 5 minutes and then add coconut oil and roast for few more minutes

– Separately boil sugar and water together till 1 thread consistency. Also heat the 1 cup oil.

– Add the sugar water mixture to the roasted chickpea flour till there are no lumps.

– Now add oil one spoon at a time and stir constantly. Soon the mixture will boil and change colour and become sticky.

– Keep a greased pan ready and as the mixture thickens, pour the batter in it. Let it cool and then cut into squares. You may even cover them in choclate to make candies.

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Peanut and rice milk yoghurt

food 035This weekend has been quite hectic and full of wonderful moments. On friday I had gone for an office party at the Terrace Garden, ITC Grand Central. It was a beautiful lawn with stunning view of the mumbai skyscrapers. I dont have a pic to share here, but I am sure you imagine that. There was a separate section for jain food in that party where noone wandered. I filled my plate with lots of salads, crispy pita-hummus and pasta in red sauce and enjoyed the stand up show. I liked the fact that the performer made fun of non veggies and said it was so cool to be a vegetarian for the love of all the animals!  Then on saturday I went to the vegan thali at Rajdhani, they were having a vegan thali week. We vegans decided to go there in small groups.

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Vegan thali was a great initiative and all the servers there knew what vegan was and what not to serve. They replaced all ghee with sesame oil so food was a little heavy but I enjoyed every dish. I especially liked the sweets which were many – churma, nuts mix, peanut chakli and sesame laddo. After the thali, I went for a play in the evening to Prithvi Theatre. Now PT is definitely one of my favourite spots in the city. I love ther cafeteria and their very famous irish coffee which is black coffee with little irish whiskey and whipped soy cream.

photo 2Guess who else was there to watch the play with us? Kareena Kapoor! The play was on ‘Umarao Jaan’ of Lucknow. Me, Shalini and Parimal all being from Lucknow, we thoroughly enjoyed the play. And me and shalini enjoyed it even more as the play was heavy on classical music and dance. It just took us to another world all together. All the urdu poetry which not many mumbaikers would appreciate filled up our senses.

On sunday I decided to try peanut and rice milk curd. I have tried peanut curd nefore but the flavour is heavy on the peanutty side so I have not liked it much. However this idea which belongs to Dr. Rupa Shah and she even has a video on youtube on this recipe, is just brilliant! I have made cashew curd before which turns out to be little expensive for daily usage. Peanut is affordable and I have used agar agar earlier to make the curd thicker. Rice milk does the same job of thickening the peanut milk and also subdues the peanutty taste.

Ingredients:

Peanut – 1/2 cup

Rice – 1/4 cup (unpolished and brown)

Curd starter – I used a non vegan curd as I was making it for first time.

Method:

– Soak the peanuts and rice separately overnight.

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– Drain the water and first make peanut milk. Add the peanuts with 1/2 cup of water and run it in a mixie. Then pass it thorugh a cheesecloth and extract the milk

– Repeat the process of extraction of milk 2 more times, each time adding 1/2 cup of water which running the mixie.

– Similarly extract rice milk by mixing it 3 times with 1/4 cup water each time.

– Put peanut milk in a pan and bring it boil. Now lower the flame and add rice milk little at a time and stirring it slowly. Keep adding and mixing till its all over. It will take around 10 minutes for the milk to thicken.

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– Let it cool and you will see that the milk has become quite thick.

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– When the milk is slightly warm, add the starter and keep in a closed container in a warm place for 4-5 hours. Once the curd is set, keep in the fridge and it stays for 7-10 days! The residue from straining the milk can be used while making bread/ roti.

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Undhyu – a gujarati speciality

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The other day I had gone to Kandivalli station area and was walking through the clean and colorful vegetable market in this beautiful gujju locality. I saw many fruits and vegetables which I normally don’t find in my local veggie haunt which is Godrej Nature’s Basket. I decided to do my weekend grocery shopping right there and then. I bought purple yam, surti papdi  which I don’t see often.

Besides I bought ber (berries) and water chestnut for munching.  Next I wanted to make something special out of the purple yam and surti papdi and the first thing that came to mind was undhiyu. So I bought some raw bananas and small brinjals and went ahead with preparing the marinate.

food 004Ingrediants for Marinate

Ginger (2 inch), Garlic(10-12), Green chillies(4-5), Coriander (quite a few)

food 005Ingrediants for main dish

Purple Yam – 1 cup (peeled and cubed)

Raw banana – 1 cup (unpeeled and cubed)

Small brinjal – 1 cup cubed

Surti papdi – 1 cup (veins removed)

SPICES : salt, ajwain, turmeric, hing

Method

–          Make a paste of the marinate material and chop all veggies.

food 007–          Add oil to the marinateand coat the veggies evenly and let it sit for an hr.

food 009–          Now heat oil in a pan and fry the veggies except papdi for 5-6 minutes till soft.

–          Add the spices and surti papdi. Let it cook for 5 more minutes adding little water to the bottom to avoid the masala from sticking. Cook till the yam is soft.

–          Sprinkle chopped coriander on top and serve hot with paratha or eat it as it is.

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Gluten free rotis/flatbreads

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Fortunately for me ever since my exam got over, vegan meetups have been happening more frequently. Last Sunday we young vegans met at Rithika’s place to eat her gluten free black forest cake and my gulab jamuns and then went to Starbucks, R City mall to wash it all down with some hot soy latte. I had my pick of Halloween special pumpkin spiced latte. The typical smell of starbucks coffee reminded me of my favourite city, New York. 

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photo 2This Saturday I enrolled for a cooking class at Dr. Rupa Shah’s. This was my first workshop at her place as the timings finally suited me and I was thrilled to go for it. It was part 1 of gluten free dishes : Indian. Rupa’s huge kitchen in Khar was a pleasure to be in. It was well equipped and fridge well-stocked. I learnt a lot of small tips and many recipes of course and will be trying them all one by one. We were told to practice these recipes and invent one of our own in the next one month before the part 2. 

photo 5I shall discuss all that I learnt one by one as and when I try them with my own hands. Here is one of the gluten free rotis (flat bread) that I tried. Commonly used gluten free flours for this are- rice flour, jowar/millet flour, bajra flour, chickpea flour, moong daal with skin flour. These flours are easily available in the market, besides many other pulses and grains.

photo 1In order to make dough use warm water and knead well. To make them into circular flat bread is also an art.  It can be done in several ways. You can flatten the dough in between both palms and try to roll lightly with a rolling pin. Or you can put the dough between two plastic sheets and then roll it flat. Or you can pat it between the two palms and then roll it on a flat plate sprinkled with a little dry flour using your palm. Use little dough at a time and make as thin rotis as possible. Carefully put it on a hot iron girdle and cook on both sides pressing it down with a clean cloth.

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These flat breads are cooked without oil and are best eaten warm and fresh out of the pan. Since I carry my lunch box to work, I don’t think these can replace my wheat rotis for lunch but I can definitely try them for dinner once in a while or perhaps everyday. Who wants the gluten at bedtime anyways and spend the night digesting it by rolling on the bed. These flat breads can also be used for international cuisine like enchiladas, crepes, rolls.

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Groundnut chutney and post diwali vegan meetup

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This is yummilicious groundnut chutney is a substitute of coconut chutney for us south Indians. Though a south Indian home maker is not worth his/ her salt if he/she (I am trying to be gender fair here) does not possess full coconut in his/her pantry or grated fresh coconut in his/her freezer, there are some pseudos like me who keep neither. But I do love to eat dosas and idlis once in a while (now that’s quite a worldwide trait now) and not without a nice chutney. Though I do not have fresh coconut or the typical south Indian manual grater or the time and energy to break and grate a fresh coconut, what I do have is some groundnuts. And this groundnut chutney is low fat substitute of our good old coconut chutney.

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Just roast 1 cup of groundnuts (with skin) and ½ cup of chana daal lightly without oil in a shallow pan and let it cool. Meanwhile chop an inch of ginger and 2 green chillies. After the groudnut chana daal mixture has cooled down, pulse it in a mixer. Now add ginger, green chillies and ½ teaspoon salt. You may need to add ¼ cup of water too depending on the consistency you want. Don’t run the full mixie as you want the chutney to be slightly coarse and not completely smooth.

This chutney can stay in the fridge for 4-5 days unlike its original coconut chutney which cannot stay fresh for more than a few hours. Its good for the calorie counters and people with high cholesterol  as its fat content is much less than the coconut chutney. I learnt this from a Punjabi friend of mine in my recent NY trip who married a hyderabadi. I will share another chutney I learnt from her in another post. My mom says instead of roasting the groundnuts, I could also soak them in water for a few hours and pulse them raw to give more rawy coconutty tatse. Have to try that version too sometime soon. For now try this with your dosa some day!

10And now for some news from the vegan networking front. I went for this post diwali vegan meetup organised at one of our fellow vegan’s bunglow in Kemps Corner. The host had a huge lawn which was perfect for accomodating a lot 23of guests. More than 80 people had showed up, most vegans and some just there on the fence. Vegan food was catered by Vegan Bites and there was a food competition too. Sadly I could not participate in this as was coming straight from my exam. But I tasted all the various dishes which other people had prepared. There was khandvi, raita, som baked idli dish, moog daal mini idlis and pumpkin kheer. The baked idli dish got the first prize. They all tasted absolutely yum and pumpkin kheer is high on my to do list right now.  Lot of questions answered, information and recipes shared. All in all an awesome evening with awsome people!

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Over ripe banana fritters

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My exam is just 10 days away and all I do in the kitchen is either make tea or cut some fruits or pour soymilk on cereals for a quick break. However these two quite old bananas could not wait anymore. Something had to be done with them quickly or else they would die a disgraceful death in the garbage bin. I googled up some easy recipes to use over ripe bananas and most of them were banana bread or cake. Now I don’t have that kind of time on my hands do I? So I settled for this Jamaican recipe of banana fritters with just three ingredients (and that includes oil for frying so basically just two!!).

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And the two ingredients are overripe banana ofcourse and whole wheat flour. I tried one fruit with whole wheat and made another one gluten free with semolina. I guessed it would make them crispy too. So all you need to do is mash up the banana and add two table spoon fulls of the flour of your choice and make a sticky smooth doughy batter. I guess one can add more flour and give better shape but I just wanted more of fruit and less of carbs so just added enough flour to shape them up with oiled hands.

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Frankly the whole wheat ones tasted better than the other ones. They smelled deliciously of banana just like a freshly baked banana cake and tasted heavenly without the need for any added sugar. For the semolina fritters, after  shallow frying them in oil (I used non-stick pan so even oil used was very little), I removed the fritters, put few drops of water on the heated pan and sprinkled sugar over it. I let it bubble for a minute or two and then coated the fritters in sugary glaze. Don’t they look beautiful! They remind you of and come very close to our own malpua!! But much less oil and so quick & easy to make! This one is a must try.

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