There is a beautiful Tuscan Spring time tradition of serving Broad Beans with a fresh pecorino cheese. The cheese is sliced and served with the beans. If the beans are young, the guests get to pod their own as they eat them. There is a saltiness in the fresh pecorino that matches the sweetness of the broad beans. And the crispy texture of the beans with the melting softness of the pecorino is divine.
Bhurji are pan-fried Indian vegetable dishes that are not quite dry, but not really wet dishes. They are dry yet damp dishes. The best known Bhurji is made with eggs and is somewhat like scrambled eggs. But we don’t cook with eggs, so the Bhurji that we make are pure vegetarian. They are similar to the Thoran of Kerala and Poriyal of Tamil Nadu. Bhurji is an Andhra dish.
This one is made with greens and sweetcorn, with spices. Spinach and Sweetcorn is a loved combination in India – the sweetness of the corn playing nicely with the spices against the slight bitterness of the spinach. This dish can be served as it is, a perfect side dish to a meal. Or serve it with cumin rice or some roti for a snack. It is also very very good as a filling for Toasties – Indian style toasted sandwiches. Use it as a filling with some cheese and perhaps sliced tomato.
A classical Chinese dish with a twist
Scallion Pancakes are classic Chinese fare – crisp, flaky and chewy, made with layers of dough and sesame oil – they are surprisingly easy to make. You can also pre-make the dough and pop it in the fridge to make later. The pancakes can even be rolled out prior to cooking and kept with layers of baking paper between until you are ready to cook.
The traditional filling is Spring Onions (aka Scallions in the US), but indeed any filling can be used. Today, I have made 3 different ones:
- Fenugreek Leaves with Ajwain and Cumin Seed
- Coriander Leaves and Green Chilli
- Spring Onions with Grated Orange Zest and White Pepper
Eggplants come in all shapes and sizes, colours, tastes and textures. Sadly, we only get to cook with a few varieties through our Green Grocer and 1 or 2 more through our Asian Grocers. Thai Eggplants are a particular favourite, a little crunchier in texture than the European variety, and a real affinity with Asian flavours such as toasted sesame and soy.
Some time ago, one of my social media connections, dee, suggested that I cook okra with mustard oil. This is her recipe. We were discussing mustard oil and okra – there is such a natural affinity. When we are drying okra, for example, we mix the okra halves with mustard oil and spices before drying.
You’ll love this recipe – simple, quick, easy and deliciously flavoured.
That quintessential roadside chai from Mumbai and throughout South India
Ah, how I miss the road side stalls in India and their piping hot Cutting Chai. Cutting is the transliteration of the Hindi word for half – Cutting Chai is served in half glasses (or smaller, often) as it has a strong flavour, and half a cup of this strong sweet liquid is enough to get you moving for the day! You have to buy it from the road side stalls – restaurants and hotels do not get the same taste.
The flavours are predominantly ginger and cardamon, simmered for some minutes with sugar so that the maximum flavour is extracted. The black tea, too, breaks every Western tea-brewing rule and is simmered for 5 or 6 minutes for the flavour extractions. Then milk is added to create this addictive drink.
TV snacks are always needed, especially on those nights after long, hard days. The good news is, you can make your own crisps. We have begun making them from sweet potatoes. They are especially easy to make, and store well in airtight containers.
A quick, healthy snack.
I am here to tell you that these are delicious. A great snack, quickly prepared, is pan fried broad beans. You can use peas or edamame as well. You can even use peas and edamame in their pods. Simply suck them out of the shell between your teeth after cooking.
Broad beans, once out of their pod, still have a thick, tough coat on each bean. Removing this improves their flavour enormously. Yes, it is a little fiddly, but worth the effort. Take a small sharp knife and make a slit in the side of the bean, then coax the coat off. Sometimes they just pop out. You are left with tender, vibrant green beans.
When the rains come, then snacks are needed, and it is the same here as it is in India, even though the temperatures are about 20C less than what they might be in India. Snacks means deep-fried too, but it it is a treat, who is to mind?
These are flat vadai, a little like thattai, and very delicious. Grab your flours from your Indian grocery and don’t substitute all purpose flours.
Maddur Vadai, named after the town of Maddur in South Indian, are also sometimes spelt Maddur Vadai.
Are you looking for other Vadai? Try Paruthithurai Vadai – a Thattai Vadai from Sri Lanka, and Kothimber Wada. There are also Gram flour Vada that are made to go into a Kuzhambu, but can be eaten as snacks as well.
Such a delicious snack from Northern India
Poha, a steamed and flattened rice (“steamrolled” I call it) is a great base for Indian snacks. In this poha recipe, it is teamed with onions and peanuts. Kanda Poha goes great mid afternoon with a cup of milky sweet tea (chai). Or it can be a great quick supper dish when you arrive just a little too late home from work. Or, as often done in parts of India, it is a great breakfast dish.
There are several thicknesses of poha – Nylon (very thin and crisp), Paper, Thin, Medium, Thick and Dagdi (thick and chewy). This recipe uses medium or thick poha, which you can buy from your Indian grocery. Thick is preferred. Thin poha is not suitable for this dish.
I have fallen in love with okra and it is all my internet friend Jude’s fault – her love of okra got me checking them out at the supermarket and Asian grocers and thinking about recipes.
The season is nearly ended, I am guessing, so thoughts are turning to pickling Okra and to drying them. Some must be frozen as well. I am going to play with 2 or three ways to dry the okra, to see what we like best. I do have a dehydrator, but you can also dry okra in the sun, or in the oven.
Okra are easy to grow too, and drying okra is a great way to preserve an abundant crop. It also avoids the slimy nature of okra, definitely a plus. I have to be truthful and say that this is not a pretty item. But is it a light and crunchy snack with an amazing taste. They say it tastes of the garden and it is definitely more-ish. You have a great combination with some Dried Capsicum and Dried Okra.
In this recipe the okra is tossed with mustard or olive oil, salt and a little cayenne for a hint of spice. Select pods that are small – no larger than 6 – 8 cm. Larger okra can be stringy and tough.
You might like to browse all of our Okra dishes, and all of our Dried Vegetables. We have a guide to preserving Summer and Autumn fruits and vegetables for Winter. Or simply explore our Mid Autumn recipes.
Okra, or Ladyfingers, are best when cooked fresh. They can be stuffed with a tangy masala, deepfried to crisp (great with peanuts), made into raita, cooked in coconut milk or a spicy gravy, or batter-fried as pakoras. They are even great when dried and served with spices as a snack.
Okra pairs well with sour tastes – for example, lemon juice or amchur (dry mango powder). Always buy young, bright green, crisp pods free of bruises, tender but not soft, and definitely not if they are wilting. There are a range of varieties – long and thin, short and fat, even red and orange varieties.
Kurkuri means crisp and Bhindi (or Bindi) is Okra. This recipe is very common in parts of North India, especially in Rajasthan from Jaipur to Udaipur and beyond. They are definitely a great snack served with drinks, and are also served as an accompaniment to rice and curries. The spices used with the okra are varied – here we have used chilli powder, cumin, chaat masala and amchur – but more complex, or simpler combinations can be used.
The okra can be cooked on its own, as we do here. But you can also tart them up somewhat by including slivers of onion (yum), ginger (tangy) and red peppers.
Okra is a much maligned vegetable, which, badly cooked, falls into the same category as Brussel Sprouts. But cooked well, it is undeniably wonderful. It is the mucilaginous substance inside okra that gives the favourite okra dish of North America, Gumbo, its characteristic silky, gelatinous texture. It is an essential ingredient of Jambalaya, and a favourite of the Greek kitchen where it is served with fresh tomato and onion.
Okra also form the basis of many a good Indian curry, snack and side dish. In curries, they are often used whole, trimmed only of stalk, but keeping the conical top which is discarded at time of eating. The soft, slightly moist texture of the interior is part of its appeal.
These green-ribbed seed pods are a good supply of Vitamin A and C, calcium and iron. Eat them weekly! At the time of writing, we are conducting an #okracheck each month to track availability and price of okra in different cities.
Okra are slippery little suckers. But this recipe from the gorgeous beaches of Goa overcomes that problem by pre salting and then stuffing the okra with the Goan spicy mix called Rechad Masala. These are great little snacks or side dish to an Indian meal.
Feel free to browse other vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006 in the Retro Recipes series. You might also like all of our Okra recipes here and here. Explore our Indian recipes here. Or take some time to go through our easy Early Autumn recipes here.
How good is okra! Misunderstood by many, if cooked well it is amazing. This recipe is a crispy, spicy dish that is perfect for a snack. Gorgeous too.
In this recipe, the okra are first salted and drained, and then marinated in a simple spice paste before being drenched in semolina and fried. The semolina makes the okra quite crispy and the spices give them a little heat. It is a simpler version of this stuffed Okra recipe.
You might also like read about Okra, and then browse all of our Okra recipes here. Have a look at all of our Goan recipes. Explore our Indian recipes too. Or take some time to go through our easy Early Autumn recipes. Feel free to browse other vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006 in the Retro Recipes series.
Suddenly the eggplants in the garden have found their mojo and are producing so many eggplants. It has me scrambling to find different ways to prepare them. Today they are grilled and the flesh is combined with tahini. It is another lovely mezze or tapas dish, or an any-time snack with flatbreads. You will love this. A take on Babaganoush, it is rich, smoky, and creamy.
You can grill/bake the eggplant in several ways. Cook it under the griller, turning often until the skin is blistered and blackened, and the flesh is soft. Or it can be cooked over a gas flame in the same way. But my favourite way is to grill it whole in a covered BBQ (grill) until the skin is blackened and the flesh collapsed. It is the easiest and quickest way at our place.
Are you looking for other Eggplant recipes? Try Eggplant Simmered in a Beautiful Broth, Grilled Eggplant Salad with Pinenuts and Pita Chips, and Deep Fried Eggplant.
Is it Dip Recipes that you are looking for? Try Zhug – Coriander-Walnut Dip, Georgian Coriander, Apricot and Walnut Spread, White Bean, Sage and Roasted Garlic Spread, Tomato and Chilli Jam, and Tahina Tarator.