Tulsi Karha | Tulsi Tea with Spices

Winter comes, and the rains too,  and colds and flu inevitably do the rounds. In India it is the monsoon time that is the worst. Luckily there are a range of drinks – chais and infusions – that at least alleviate the symptoms, and perhaps even shorten the length of the suffering.

A Karha, or Kadha, is an Ayurvedic drink made with herbs and spices that are simmered in water to extract their benefits. Karha are generally made with whole spices, herbs and other ingredients found in all Indian households, so they are inexpensive ways to strengthen immunity and fight infections.

One such herb is Tulsi, or Indian Holy Basil. It is a powerful herb in many respects. We have a number of recipes that make use of the properties of Tulsi.

In this recipe it is combined with the classic trio of spices called CCF – cumin, coriander and fennel, and it adds some cloves and cardamom as well. I know you will enjoy it, and it will help your cold if you have one. It also makes you feel incredibly warm and toasty. May you get well soon.

Similar recipes include Tulsi, Mint and Lemon Verbena Tea, Tulsi Rasam, Ginger and Tulsi Tea.

Browse all of our Chai recipes and all of our Indian drinks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and the Indian Essentials Series is here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Vendakka Khichdi | Okra in a Coconut Yoghurt Sauce | Ladyfinger Pachadi

Vendakka Khichdi is a delicious and common side-dish from Kerala. It is crispy fried okra in yoghurt flavoured with a green chilli-cumin-coconut sauce. It is often included as a part of Onam or Vishu Sadya. Otherwise, it is often served with Sambar and beautiful Indian pickles.

The okra is sliced and fried and then mixed into a yoghurt base flavoured with mustard seeds, cumin, green chill and coconut. It is one delicious dish, served warm.

This dish, which is a Khichdi, should not be confused with Kitchari – the Indian dish of rice and lentils. Khichdi is a Kerala yoghurt-based style of dish, similar to a Pachadi or a Raita.

Similar recipes include Sri Lankan Okra Curry with Coconut Milk, Bhindi Raita, and Okra in a Spicy Yoghurt Sauce (you can use okra in place of pineapple).

Or browse all of our Okra dishes here, and all of our Indian recipes too. And explore our Mid Winter series of recipes.

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Baked Lima Beans with Celery | A Creamy Rustic Greek Dish

Gigantes are Greek Giant Beans (the name always reminds me of Jack and the Beanstalk). You can get them from Greek shops, or Lima Beans (Butter Beans) are wonderful substitutes.

Recipes for Gigantes abound across Greece, and they often involve baking. If soaked, cooked and then baked, the beans are so soft and creamy. Often they are cooked in a terracotta pot.

Our recipe today, a traditional one from Greece, bakes the beans with celery and a tomato base. It takes some time to make – soak the beans overnight, simmer for 60 – 90 mins, then bake for 60 – 90 mins. I recommend it for a quiet Sunday morning (for lunch) or afternoon (for dinner). Slow, wonderful cooking. However, each step is easy, with hardly any oversight required.

The success of this dish depends on each step – soak well, cook the beans until tender but not completely cooked, bake until creamy. And it depends on the quality of the olive oil – ensure current season, good quality oil if you can. And always store your oil in dark bottles or tins in a dark cupboard away from heat, light and the sun’s rays.

Similar recipes include Rustic Spicy Butter Beans, Chickpea and Lima Bean Noodle Soup, and Florentine Beans.

Browse all of our Lima Bean recipes, and all of our Greek dishes. Our Baked Bean dishes are here. Or explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Sukku Malli Coffee | Chukku Kaapi

This is a recipe for a tonic (kashayam) that is like a tea, but is called a coffee. Indeed some recipes actually include coffee powder, but the version that we make will leave that as an option. The reason that it is called a coffee, we believe, is that a powder is made and then a teaspoon or so of the powder is used to make the hot drink. Just like making instant coffee.

It is a South Indian recipe, and is excellent to drink at any time (once per day), and 2 or 3 times a day if you are ill. It is good for a number of ailments – colds, nasal congestion, fever, headaches, and digestion issues.

The amount of dry ginger (Sukku) in the drink may be too much for first time users. The Malli (coriander seeds) tempers it, but reduce the amount of powder used until you get used to the heat.

Similar recipes include Yogj Chai, Ayurvedic Chai, and Ginger and Tulsi Tea.

Browse all of our Indian drinks, and all of our Drinks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Chickpea and Butter Bean Noodle Soup | Ash-e Reshteh

This dish is a fabulous, heart warming and thick soup from the Middle East – it seems like it is an Iranian echo of Minestrone or perhaps of the noodle soup your mother served you as a child when you were poorly. In Iran it is called ash-e reshteh, and it is the sort of soup that makes you feel happy, wholesome and nourished, all at the same time.

You might find resteh noodles at a Middle Eastern grocery, but if not, use linguine or Asian flat noodles. Japanese noodles will work too. In fact the noodles can even be left out and the soup will still be deliciously amazing.

Make sure that you purchase the type of reshteh noodles that are specifically for soup – there is another variety that has been toasted for use in rice dishes. My local Afghan grocery has the soup noodles called Pottage Macaroni even though they are long noodles rather than the short tubes we usually think of as macaroni. The instructions for cooking are cute. It directs you to:

Add the content of package to the stuff of cooking and boiling pottage. After nearly 10 mins of your favourite time, eat the prepared pottage.

Another alternative is to make your own noodles. They are made from a wheat flour dough without eggs, and cut flat and not very wide.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe from Plenty More. It combines chickpeas, lima (butter) beans and yellow split peas with noodles, herbs and spices for a filling, interesting soup that even has an aroma of the Middle East. In fact this soup can be made with a variety of lentils and legumes – red kidney beans are very common.

Today it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include Hot and Sour Soup, Baked Lima Beans with Celery, Spicy Chickpea and Burghul Soup, Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Zaatar, Dried Fava Bean Soup, and Parsnip and Barley Soup.

Browse all of our Soups, Noodle Dishes, Chickpea Dishes and Butter Bean Dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Spicy Chickpea and Bulgar Soup

A friend and I recently hit the local Greek Warehouse and then the Central Market in Adelaide, and I found myself stocking up on Wintery food – lots of dried beans, lentils and grains, different flours, Greek herbs, and some new baking trays. It is a fairly subconscious thing that we do, change our diet as the seasons change. At this time our body starts to crave soups, salads with beans and lentils, and rice puddings. Baked dishes. Gratineed vegetables. Bulghar (Burgul) dishes. Slow cooked food a la Grecque. Ah the joys of Winter in the kitchen.

So overnight some chickpeas are cooked in the slow cooker. I find that the best ways to cook them is to slow cook them, unsoaked, for 9 hours, and they are perfect for any dish.

This recipe is one from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. It is one that has done the rounds in various publications and Ottolenghi modifies it slightly each time. In the book, he pairs it with a feta-creme fraiche paste, and elsewhere he replaces it with coriander oil, or salbitxada – a sharp and lightly sweet Catalan sauce. I’ve included all options here, so choose one that suits your mood or the weather. One option is to make a huge pot of soup, and serve with feta-creme fraiche paste one day and with salbitxada the next. The soup does need a little something stirred into it at the end, to liven it. Use lemon juice if you don’t have the time to make the paste or the sauce.

This recipe is a mid-week Soup, substantial enough to be eaten with heaps of flatbread and a green salad. It is hearty and comforting. The flavour improves even more if you allow it to stand for a few hours. Ottolenghi says it feeds four, but I say it will feed 6 or 8, depending on the hunger levels.

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have made in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include Chickpea, Lima Bean and Noodle SoupRoasted Cauliflower Soup, Dried Fava Bean Soup, and Barley and Vegetable Soup.

Browse all of our Soups, all of our Chickpea recipes, and all of our Burghul dishes. We have other Chickpea Soups. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Pommes de Terre Maxim | Crispy Potatoes Maxim

It was much more common a decade or two ago to bake potatoes, usually sliced, with some combination of butter, cream and cheese. I guess times have changed and our weather isn’t cold enough for long enough for these dishes to still grace our tables regularly. But the recipes are worth having on hand – when guests let you know they will be arriving for a meal in less than an hour, when the weather IS cold enough to freeze the tip of your nose, and for, well, when nothing but some good old fashioned potato is going to satisfy your need for comfort.

Today is a very simple recipe – slice peel potatoes, mix with melted butter, layer on a tray and bake till crispy. We are adding it to our raft of baked potato recipes.I loved French food when I was working in France. Pommes de Terre Maxim is such a simple dish but it is oh so special. Don’t just keep it for Winter – it works well for any Sunday lunch, and even in the cooler days of Summer and into Autumn.

Similar dishes include Batata Hara (Lebanese Roasted Potatoes) Creamy Potato Cheese Gratin, Potato Bake with Cheddar,  and Potatoes Baked with Cumin and Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Potato recipes and our French recipes. Check out our other Potato Bakes and explore other Mid Winter dishes too.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006.  You can find other recipes from that blog in the Retro Recipes series.

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Pearl Mushrooms with Thyme

We cook some Pearl Mushrooms today. It is such a simple dish, but wonderful as a snack, side dish, stirred into risotto or piled on top of pasta. Pearl Mushrooms are tiny oyster mushrooms. They are easy to cook, thrown in a pan with butter and thyme, and even more delicious to eat.

If you can’t find Pearl Mushrooms at your Green Grocer, try your Asian market. Or use Shimiji if they are available.

Similar recipes are Risotto with Mushrooms, Mushrooms a la Grecque, and Caramelised King Oyster Mushrooms.

Or browse all of our Mushroom dishes, and our Mid Winter recipes.

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Goan Bisibelebath

Bisibelebath (also written Bisi Bele Bath), meaning hot lentil rice, is a much loved dish of the Karnataka and surrounding regions of South India. In form, it is similar to a kitchari (rice and lentils cooked together), but is actually a variant of a the Tamil mixed vegetable Sambar with Rice (Sadam Sambar) as it has tamarind included. In some parts it is also known as Bisi bele huliyanna which means hot lentil sour rice.

This recipe is from Goa, where I first tasted Bisibelebath. Goan Bisibelebath is a beautiful dish, and this is the recipe that I learned there. By comparison, it is a simple version (but delicious) – some versions have 30 or more ingredients.

Are you looking for Indian Rice dishes? Try Zucchini Rice, Masoor Sprouts Rice, and Parsi Kitchari.

Perhaps you are after Toor Dal recipes. There are our Sambars, of course. Then try Punjabi Aamti Bhat, Eggplant with Toor Dal (Rasavangi), and Indian Dal Soup.

Try some other Goan recipes here and here. And all of our Indian dishes are here.

Feel free to browse other vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006 in our Retro Recipes series. You might also like to explore our Kitchari recipes here.

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Crispy Cauliflower with Capers

This dish of deep fried cauliflower is from Spain. The cauliflower is dusted in chickpea flour (gram flour) and deep fried  until crisp. Then, like the old fashioned beach-made fish and chips, sprinkled with plenty of salt and vinegar. In a modern day twist, capers are added. It makes a great snack, mezze dish, entree (starter) or side dish.

There are a range of traditional dishes that deep fry cauliflower. Think of Cauliflower Pakora, for example. Even Ottolenghi makes a salad or side dish of deep fried cauli with a tahini sauce. There’s Southern Fried Cauliflower, Fried Cauliflower Steaks, Moroccan Fried Cauliflower, Cauliflower Tempura, and many more such recipes. There is a simple reason for so many dishes. It tastes very very good. This recipe will knock your socks off.

Similar dishes include Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips, Cauliflower and Okra Pakora, Roasted Cauliflower Soup, and Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Puree.

Browse all of our Cauliflower dishes. All of our Snacks are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Onion Sambar

Onion Sambar is a very popular South Indian and Sri Lankan sambar. It goes well with rice, idli, dosa, vada, pongal, upma and most other South Indian breakfast dishes.

This dish can be made with small onions (pearl onions or pickling onions) or with chopped, big onions. It will taste wonderful whatever onion you use. I like to use golden shallots as well – they add a slight sweetness to the dish.

Are you interested in other Sambar recipes? Why not try a Classic Seasoned Sambar? Or Moru Sambar. And read about whether Sambar should be Sour, Salty or Hot.

You can see all of our Sambar recipes here, and our collection of Indian recipes here. Specifically, out South Indian dishes are here and Sri Lankan are here. Perhaps you want Onion Recipes. Or try our collection of easy Mid Summer recipes.

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Norom Shada Khichuri | Latka Kitchari | Bengali Soft Kitchari

Bengalis love their kitchari, and love the rain. Often the two go together – as the rains come, the consumption of kitchari increases exponentially.

There are dozens of types of Kitchari. It is eaten in different forms all over India, but even in Bengal alone, many varieties exist. Kitchari style dishes can vary from pilaf/pulao-like dishes, to the more porridge-like Pongals of Tamil Nadu and the beloved Bisibelebath of Karnataka.

This kitchari is a well-cooked – that is, it is quite soft and moist, almost slightly soupy. It is delicious and it is perfect on a rainy day, any where in the world. The defining characteristics of this kitchari is that it is very soft (norom) and white, as well as healthy.  It is mostly tempered with onion and garlic. (It can also be served very soupy, almost like an Indian version of Chinese Congee. We will add a recipe for this version later on and add a link here.)

I have seen Kitchari referred to as Hodgepodge. My goodness! A hodgepodge is a random assortment of things — a group of things that don’t quite fit together. There is a dish from Nova Scotia called Hodgepodge but it is nothing like Kitchari. It is a collection of beans, peas and potatoes cooked in one pot. It is also common to call Kitchari as risotto. Again this is a great misnomer. Kitchari must be one of the most well known of Indian dishes outside of India, thus it is surprising to see Indian cooks give it other names. You can read more about that here.

Are you after other Kitchari dishes? Try Goan Bisibelebath, Bengali Vegetable Kitchari, Gujarati Kitchari, and Bengali Bhog Kitchari.

Or are you looking for other Bengali dishes. Try Bengali Rice Kheer.  There are more Bengali dishes coming, so check back here.

Browse all of our Kitchari recipes and all of our Bengali dishes. Our Indian recipes are here. Or take some time to explore our lovely Late Autumn dishes.

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Fennel and Lemon Quick Chutney

I am writing this in early December, and I must have the last reasonable fennel bulb before Wintery cold weather comes again. Rather than make a salad from it, we thought that a fennel chutney would be nice. It is a quick chutney, one that you can eat almost immediately and will keep only a week or two in the fridge. The recipe is from Ottolenghi’s Guardian column.

We always regret not using Fennel enough. It seems to be a summery vegetable with that cooling aniseed taste, but in fact is difficult to find at decent prices once Winter is over – and by the end of Spring good fennel is definitely unavailable.

Similar recipes include Roasted Eggplant Chutney, Onion Jam, and Cumquat Chutney.

Or for Fennel dishes, try Slow Baked Fennel with Chilli, Orange and Garlic, Fennel and Apple Salad, and Fennel a la Grecque.

Browse all of our Fennel recipes and all of our Chutneys. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with Caper Vinaigrette

This year it is a long cold start to Summer. As I write, I sit here in a jumper in January, thinking of putting a rug over my legs rather than turn the heater on. So, needing something to warm the kitchen, I popped some roast veg in the oven.

Not any roast vegetables – this is an Ottolenghi dish, one that takes a common dish and makes it extraordinary. It is a favourite, and I don’t know why I haven’t posted it before. My note in the cookbook is “Magnificent” pencilled in the margin.

It takes sweet potatoes and parsnips and roasts them with garlic and (later) some cherry tomatoes, before dressing them with a tangy vinaigrette that is both sweet and sour, full of capers for a saltiness. It’s the perfect dish for any festival, celebration, Sunday lunch or any day of the week is born.

Ottolenghi says “The addition of a vinaigrette to freshly roasted vegetables gives them a freshness and juiciness they don’t normally have; the acidity brings out new shades of flavour, too.”

You might also like Roasted Beetroot with Cumin Seeds, Perfect Roast Potatoes, or Hot Roasted Carrot Salad.

Try some Parsnip recipes too: Roughly Mashed Parsnip with Parmesan and Olive Oil, and Parsnip and Carrot Mash.

Take some time to explore the Ottolenghi recipes we have tried. Our Sweet Potato recipes are here and our Parsnip recipes here. Or browse our Mid Summer collection of easy recipes. (You might prefer our Mid Winter recipes!)

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MID WINTER: Don’t miss these Warming Winter Recipes | Seasonal Cooking

Goodness, it’s cold! Put on another jumper and enjoy these highlights from our Mid Winter classic recipes.

You can browse all of our Mid Winter recipes here:

Please let us know if you find links that are not working. We would love to fix them for you.

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