Punjabi Aloo Wadiyan

Wadiyan (also spelled Varian and Badiyan) are large balls of dried lentils, peculiar to the cuisine of the Punjab. They are sun dried spicy urad dal balls that serve to spice a dish and also to thicken the gravy. They are very spicy and each bite sends a burst of flavour to your tastebuds. They are also quite meaty in texture, and thus a good option for your non-vegetarian friends.

This dish cooks the wadi and potatoes in a tomato-onion-spiced gravy for a relative quick, definitely easy meal. Wadi go very well with potatoes, but can be cooked with other vegetables too. Today I have used a mixture of potatoes and sweet potatoes, or you can use butternut and potatoes. These mixtures are not really traditional, but work very well in the modern kitchen.

Because the wadi are extra spicy, not a lot of other spice is needed in the dish.

Similar dishes include Punjabi Wadi (Badi) and Vegetables, Aloo Baingan Wadiyan, and Mung Wadi.

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Barley and Vegetable Soup

In the midst of Autumn or Winter, on a foggy, drizzling day, there is nothing more perfect that a large bowl of Vegetable Soup. And if it has barley in it – even better.

Similar recipes include Toppings for Soups, Barley and Lentils with Mushrooms, Minestrone with Pesto, Italian Barley and Vegetable Soup, and Thirteen Treasure Happiness Soup.

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Vazhakkai Podimas | Plantain Mash

Podimas is the Tamil (South Indian) equivalent to a mash – potato podimas is quite divine. Here we are using plantains – the variety of banana that is primarily used green or raw. The plantain is simmered until tender, mashed or crumbled, then mixed with spices. It is a great side dish.

Similar recipes include Sweet Potato Mash with Lime Salsa, Plantain Kari, Plantain Mor Kootu, Vazakkai Poriyal, and Thani Kootu.

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Matar Pulao | Rice Pulao with Peas

When rice forms a major part of a cuisine then there are infinite recipes using rice. Contrast this with cuisines in which it isn’t so important. When growing up, rice was used mainly for rice pudding and an even rarer rice salad. Apart from that it was unusual to have rice with a meal. I guess my mother bought rice only when she wanted to make a pudding – whereas I keep the pantry stocked with 6 – 8 different types of rice. Sticky rice, black and/or red rice, basmati, short grain rice, risotto rice and pongal rice are fairly standard pantry items.

These days I love rice cooked with spices and a vegetable or with lentils. It forms a great addition to any meal, especially Indian meals. It is also a great way to use up any vegetables sitting at the bottom of the fridge on a Friday night – prior to doing the next week’s shopping.

Peas Pulao or Matar Pulao is a popular dish which was made especially during the cooler months in northern parts of India. It can be made in a pressure cooker or rice cooker as well. This is the second version of peas and rice – the spicing is very different in each one.

Similar recipes include Green Pea Pilaf, Rice in Tomato Juice, and Broad Bean and Dill Rice.

Browse all of our Rice dishes and all of our Pea dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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Eggfree Crespeou | Vibrant Layered Chickpea Pancakes

Crespeou (pronounced cres-PAY-oo) is a Provencal (France) layered dish normally composed of mini-omelettes filled with herbs and vegetables, and then layered in alternating colours. I make my usual chickpea flour pancakes/pudla/cheela instead of omelettes, to make the dish egg-free. It is a simple technique using common ingredients to produce a vibrant savoury cake.

Prepared in advance, the dish can be served hot or cold. Serve warm with a tomato and red onion salad, or, even better, wrap in foil, refrigerate and serve next day. Take it on picnics and to potlucks.

Similar dishes include Farinata with Tomatoes, Onions and Cheese, Socca, and Pudla with Green Coriander.

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Fennel a la Greque with Parmesan

When I had a fennel bulb sitting in the bottom of the fridge, my friend Jude came to the rescue with this easy cooked-in-the-oven dish, a la Grecque in style, melt-in-the-mouth in texture and oh-my-goodness flavour-wise.

The fennel, topped with parmesan cheese, is slowly cooked in wine and olive oil until achingly tender, then uncovered and left to crisp and caramelise. It is perfect either hot from the oven or at room temperature. It works well as a side dish, starter or part of a mezze, tapas or grazing plate.

Similar recipes include Fennel Jam, Baked Fennel Stuffed with Feta, Fennel and Potato with White Peas and Garlic, and Braised Fennel with Capers, Olives and Ricotta.

Browse all of our Fennel dishes and our A la Grecque recipes. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Coconut Sticky Black Rice Pudding

I was fortunate to have holidays in Bali before it became a tourist nightmare. Back in the days when the culture was still strong and visible and the rowdy tourists were fewer and stuck to the beaches. Back in the days when it was possible to see forbidden villages, inner sanctums of temples, people making tofu and tempeh in their back yards and to come across beautiful cultural performances without tourists.

Also to come across a range of ingredients and cooking techniques that were at the time fairly unknown outside of Indonesia. Amongst those was the afternoon servings of locally made sweet items including a coconut black rice dish (Bubu Injin).

I tried to bring some local black rice back with me, but of course it was not permitted by customs. Luckily, glutinous rices are now available from Asian shops, as are pandan leaves and palm sugar.

Similar recipes include Char Grilled Stone Fruit with Scented Yoghurt, Balinese Sweet Red Rice, Black Rice with Chinese Flavours, Black Glutinous Rice Congee, Mushrooms with Black Glutinous Rice, and Pandan Rice Pudding.

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Australian Toasties | Australian Toasted Sandwiches

Some countries (like India) do toasted sandwiches really really well. It is a serious business. And you’ve gotta love a country that spends as much time preparing a toasted sandwich filling as they do cooking any other dish.

In Australia, toasted sandwiches are those food items that need to be instant. They are instant snacks or a Winter’s night supper in front of the television. They are late night snacks or work place lunches. They pair well with a large bowl of Tomato Soup.

By the way, everyone I know has a different understanding about the difference between a toasted sandwich, jaffle, toastie and grilled sandwich. Some differentiate between a toastie and a toasted sandwich. A toastie they say, has sealed edges and is cut in half (with the cut edge also sealed) and a toasted sandwich is neither sealed nor cut. Toasties are called jaffles in a few areas of Australia (e.g. Sydney), but not many. I connect jaffles with the round toasting irons that went over a wood fire or a gas stove. You can still get them in camping stores. A grilled sandwich is a US term for toasted sandwiches.

But I want to be clear that I use the term toastie to mean a sandwich that has been toasted and may or may not have sealed edges and may or may not be cut in half. Either way.

In Australia, the most common filling for toasties is cheese – cheese and tomato, for example. There are examples of non-vegetarian items that are added (but we don’t cover them here).

Baked beans is another common filling (using tinned baked beans), perfect for a cold Winter’s day.  We present a few more options for you.

Similar recipes include Paneer Toast, and Potato and Peas Toastie.

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Tharuva – Crispy Fried Vegetables | Crispy Fried Potato Slices

Indian snacks, oh my. This is my take on a snack from Bihar and Jharkhand. Tharuva, or Tharua, are vegetables that are crispy fried. Plantain is commonly cooked this way. However, I have made this with potato, beetroot, melons and pumpkin. Harder vegetables I slice very thinly. Others can be cut into strips or cubes.

The vegetables are mixed in a slightly wet mix of rice flour and spices, then shallow or deep fried. Salt can be sprinkled over before serving. You will love them and will find them quite addictive.

Similar recipes include Vegetable Cutlets, Beetroot Vadai, and Crispy Fried Okra.

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Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters with Yoghurt Sauce

These are some of the most delicious fritters that we have made. The soft bite of the cauliflower with the spices is a warming mouthful that you won’t forget quickly. Here we have served them with yoghurt with short mung sprouts and herbs.

The recipe appears in 2 books from the Ottolenghi family – Falastin by Sami Tamimi, and Ottoleghi by Ottolenghi and Tamimi. They are the sort of fritter you can have for a meal, as a snack (make them smaller), or packed in a lunch or picnic box.  Or shove them into some pitta bread with hummus and tomato for a great afternoon filler with a cuppa tea.

They keep a couple of days in the fridge (think – after school snack), and are best eaten either at room temperature or heated slightly in a warm oven. The batter will also keep a couple of days in the fridge if you want to cook on demand.

“These are not your usual fritters,” says cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi. These are packed with cauliflower and spiced with cinnamon, cumin and turmeric. As a dipping sauce, he serves a spiked Greek yoghurt.

Of course, I have switched out the eggs in Tamimi’s recipe for my usual egg replacer in friters – 1 Tblspn chickpea flour, 1 Tbslpn or a bit less of cream and about 0.25 plain or lemon eno per egg.

Similar recipes include Buckwheat Upma, Crispy Couscous and Saffron Cakes, Sweet Potato Fritters, Mung Bean Flour Fritters, and Pakora.

Browse all of our Fritter recipes, and all of our Snacks. Our Tamami recipes are here, and the dishes from Falastin are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More.

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