Brinjal Kootu | Eggplant Kootu

Kootu is a thick, coconut-heavy dal dish, tangy with tamarind and spiced with sambar spices. Today our Kootu is made with eggplant. It is easily and quickly made by simmering the eggplant in tamarind and spices before adding the dal and coconut.

The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal‘s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.

Similar recipes include Ezhukari Kuzhambu (Pongal Kootu), Elephant Yam Masiyal with Lime JuiceBrinjal Asadu, Cluster Bean Dal Kootu, and Ridged Gourd Dal.

Browse all of our Kootu recipes and all of our Eggplant Bean dishes.  All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Spring recipes.

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Lemony Poha (Aval)

This delicious poha dish makes a beautifully nurturing breakfast or meal at any time. The poha is quickly cooked with spices and lemon juice – it is quickly made after soaking for 15 mins. It is so easy you could (almost) do it with your eyes closed.

Poha is available at your Indian grocery store – it is rice that has been steamed and pressed or rolled flat. There are at least half a dozen varieties, including thin, very thin, medium and thick.  For this recipe, use thick or medium poha in this recipe so that it holds its shape after soaking. Thick poha is preferable.

Similar recipes include Poha Chaat, Onion Poha, and Kolachi Poha.

Browse all of our Poha recipes. Browse our Indian recipes here and our Indian Essentials are here. Or take some time to explore our Late Spring dishes.

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Khar | Assamese Garlicky Flavoured Mung Beans with Greens

Khar is a unique Assamese dish, traditionally served as a starter. Traditionally, pure khar uses kola khar as its main ingredient. Kola Khar is prepared by sun-drying the peels of the bheem khol banana tree trunk, burning them to ashes, and then filtering water through them. It is an alkaline preparation that is believed to have medicinal properties. The dish is served before the main meal to help prepare the digestion for the flavours to come in the main meal.

These days kola khar is often substituted with other items, usually baking soda. Khar can be made with a variety of ingredients – pulpy vegetables such as gourds, papaya, pumpkin, zucchini, eggplant and cucumber, as well as lentils and a variety of greens. Today we are using Mung Beans although toor dal and urad dal are also common. We have seen it made with rice flour and no lentils.

Mustard greens and some chilli leaves are used in our dish today, although Spinach would be equally as fine. I have added a couple of betel leaves, because they are in the fridge and they give a lovely flavour. However, there is no need to be so exotic. Use spinach and/or mustard greens, or whatever greens you have. The recipe has a lot of garlic in it which softens its raw bite due to the cooking and adds a lovely umami flavour. Don’t confuse this dish with Lebon Khar, which is a Middle Eastern dish of cucumber and sour cream or yoghurt with a vinegar and mustard dressing.

Similar dishes include Mung Dal with Green Mango, Bengali Mung Dal, and Mung Dal with Ghee.

Browse more of our Assamese recipes, all of our Mung Bean dishes, and our Dals. Browse our Indian recipes here and our Indian Essentials are here. Or take some time to explore our Late Spring dishes.

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Poha with Crispy Potatoes | Batata Poha

Another recipe from my cooking sessions in India, scribbled almost illegibly as I tried to keep up with the dishes appearing in front of me. It is a simple Poha dish with potatoes. It’s also a common dish, probably because it is so very delicious and relatively cheap to make. Eaten primarily as a snack with coffee or chai, it is dish for the monsoon season – excellent in rainy weather.

Are you looking for similar dishes? Try Kanda Poha and Lemon Poha.

You can browse all of our Poha recipes and all of our Indian dishes. Our Indian Essentials are here. Or browse our Early Winter collection of recipes.

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Winter Roast Vegetables with Chickpeas | And a Salad of Winter Vegetables

If you are a reader of our Winter posts you know that we love to use the oven at any time of the day. It warms the kitchen, living areas and us. Plus it fills the space with the most delicious of aromas.

This is a great dish to throw into the oven on those cold days to warm the space and provide great food. Use the roasted vegetables as a side dish, or as a hot or room temperature Winter salad with a yoghurt and cumin seed dressing.

The recipe needs enough small-diced vegetables to pile into your baking dish to a depth of 5 cm, so I use a small baking dish for this one. And we are going to slow bake them for a couple of hours, so leave yourself enough time. We often make it first thing in the morning for lunch time salads.

Similar recipes include Butter Braised Turnips, Celeriac Salad, Vegetables with Indian Flavours, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Figs, Baked Parsnips with Parmesan, and Perfect Roasted Potatoes.

Or browse all of our Baked dishes, Roasted dishes, and all of our Late Winter recipes.

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Broccoli and Chickpeas with Orange Butter Sauce

How gorgeous is broccoli, and how incredibly versatile it is. Those little trees can be boiled, steamed, roasted and char grilled. They pair well with lemon and black pepper (delicious), but in this recipe we use oranges as they are plentiful right now. The oranges from our trees are the juiciest we have ever had – it must have been all of the rain last year. Oranges pair well with white pepper, did you know? So this recipe uses that for seasoning.

Just to make it even more delicious, we’ve added chickpeas to the mix. There is a bit of butter in this dish, but that’s Ok once in a while, right?

Similar recipes include Smashed Chickpeas with Broccoli and Dukkah, and Lemak Style Vegetables.

Browse all of our Broccoli recipes, and all of our Orange dishes. Or be inspired by our collection of Late Winter recipes.

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Elephant Yam Masiyal with Lime Juice

Two of the special yams in India are Elephant Yam, and Elephant Foot Yam. Sadly, these two often get confused, even by Indian bloggers and writers. It took me quite a while and lots of conversations to sort the two out.

This Masiyal can be made with either of the two yams. I am using frozen yam as fresh ones are not available here. Its a surprising dish, incredibly delicious.

If you have any more information about these yams, please share.

This recipe is from Meenakshi Ammal in Vol 1 of her books Cook and See. The dish is made with toor dal (red gram dal) but uses lime juice instead of tamarind. Lemon juice works too, due to the same word being used for both fruits in India it is often difficult to tell which is intended. Both work well in most dishes. I like lime because it gives a tropical spark to dishes.

Similar recipes include Ridged Gourd MasiyalPoritha Kootu, and South Indian Yellow Pumpkin Soup.

Browse all of our Elephant Yam and Elephant Foot Yam recipes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Turkish Spinach Soup with Chickpeas and Barley

The earthy flavours of spinach, chickpeas and barley come together in this Winter dish which is Turkish in style. A soup, it is full of comfort, nourishment and hope for the future. Are you with me in your love for Winter soups? And with everything that is going on in the world at the moment, we need a little hope for the future. The inspiration for this came from Turquoise, a special book about Turkish cuisine.

Similar dishes include Mung Dal with Spinach and Cumin, Chickpeas and Beetroot Greens with Chilli, and Vegetable and Barley Soup.

Browse all of our Spinach dishes, all of our Chickpea dishes, and all of our Soups. Our Turkish recipes are here. Or explore our Late Winter set of recipes.

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Lemon Dal

Lemons and limes, even oranges, are used in savoury dishes throughout India, for example in South India in Rasam and in Kuzhambu. Wonderful dishes. This recipe takes a simple Mung dal, blends it until it is silky smooth and infuses it with the flavours of lemon or lime peel and flesh. It is a delightful dish, and very refreshing in Summer.

This recipe is similar to Kancha Dal, but adds the lemons. It is a Bengali dish which I came across in the excellent book Bengali Cooking.

Similar dishes include Mung Dal with Ghee and Spices, Kancha Dal, and Mung Dal with Coconut Milk.

Browse all of our Dal recipes, and all of our Mung Dal dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Lazy Spinach Rice

I am lazy when it comes to Indian rice dishes. Often a multi-step process done the traditional way, I am just as likely to throw everything into the rice cooker and press GO. The results are pretty fabulous. This one is made with lettuce greens that can stand heat without collapsing, onion and spices.

I think my laziness comes from my upbringing – rice is rarely a key player in Western cuisines. It is a bland undercurrent to more flavoursome dishes. Like bread, the flavourless but textured item on the plate played host to dishes that were long cooked, perhaps spiced with curry powder (but that was rare), or to dishes that were more Asian in style. Flash cooked vegetables in the wok, some deep fried tofu and sauce, some Japanese miso-baked vegetable. These latter items were from my kitchen, never my parents. In their kitchen, rice was rare, white and bland. It was so rare that when I moved out of my parent’s home I didn’t know how to cook it.

Times have changed, Indian cuisine is a huge part of my life, but for some reason I prefer to cook rice quickly – like you would a quiet accessory to a meal. I can’t quite get the hang of rice being the major component, a dish worthy of standing alone, worthy of having its own accompaniments and accessories.

Yet, who can deny the flavours of Indian rice dishes are spectacular. So my lazy way of making flavoursome Indian-like rice is to put the components all into the rice cooker, so that 20 mins later, with no effort, the rice is ready.

This is how I do it – use the recipe below as a guide and experiment with your own combinations of vegetables and spices.

Similar dishes include Clove, Cardamom and Cinnamon Rice, Vegetable Pulao, and Black Pepper and Cumin Rice.

Browse all of our rice dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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