Stuffed Okra | Bharwan Bhindi

There are a number of stuffed okra dishes, and each is so good and so worthy of being made. Use fat okra for this dish – they can be long or short, but they do need some body.

This is a beautiful stuffing made from coconut (use frozen if you don’t have fresh), coriander leaves and spices. The recipe calls for Goda Masala, and you can make your own or purchase it from your Indian grocers. If you can’t find this lovely spice powder, use Garam Masala instead.

This recipe’s inspiration comes from the beautiful and well-known book Sukham Ayu: Cooking at Home with Ayurveda Insights, by Jigyasa Giri. I love this gentle book which builds Ayurvedic wisdom, sattvic approaches and down-to-earth Indian dishes.

Are you after other Okra dishes? Try Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice, Sri Lankan Okra Curry, Warm Salad of Charred Okra, and Okra with Race Kuzhambu.

Browse all of our Okra dishes, recipes from Jigyasa Giri and Ayurvedic dishes. All of our Indian Recipes are here. Or take some time to browse our Early Winter dishes.

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Clove, Cardamom and Cinnamon Rice

Everyone loves fragrant rice – basmati and jasmine rice are two of the best known. There are others too, you might see them occasionally or search some out. Currently I am working with the short grain fragrant rice called Ambe Mohar.

This recipe adds warming (not hot) flavours to the rice with cloves and cardamom. It is a simple recipe, and many slight variations of it abound. It is also in Ottolenghi’s book Nopi, so I will claim it for inclusion in our Ottolenghi Cook from the Books project. I have adjusted his recipe a little. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Black Cumin and Pepper Rice, Persian Saffron Rice, and Broad Bean and Dill Rice.

Browse all of our Rice dishes, and the dishes from Nopi. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Roasted Butternut with Spices and Nigella Seeds

Roasted pumpkin is a must-have dish in Winter, and we use butternut pretty much in our kitchen. Jap is another pumpkin we like, but its availability has decreased over the last few years. Red pumpkin used to be available from a few specialty shops but sadly those have closed now.

Roasting or baking vegetables with spices always attracts our attention – we tend to do the same thing. So when Ottolenghi includes cardamom and one of his favourite seeds/spices, Nigella, we are captured. The recipe is easy and no-fuss, compared to many of his other recipes, so this is perfect for a pretty lazy Saturday morning at our place. Mid winter, the weather is sunny, but we don’t feel like rousing ourselves too much today, instead, laying around reading and listening to music. Lazily, I turn the oven on and bake the pumpkin.

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Vegetables with Indian Flavours

How quirky the British can be at times, especially when it comes to all things Indian. British Indian cuisine is a food genre all to itself, with little relationship to the food of India. The famous Chicken Tikka Masala, for example, is British, not Indian. Vindaloo is a term used for any hot curry in England, not the specific and terrifyingly hot pork curry of Goa on the coast of West India, with its roots in the Portuguese occupation.

And there is another dish – Indian Ratatouille. Yes, my friends, it is a thing. Throw a few spices at a ratatouille and you have Indian Ratatouille. The French food masters must be turning in their graves.

And then Ottolenghi takes this (perhaps somewhat arrogant) British invention and makes it even more Indian – throwing out some of the the traditional vegetables, adding potatoes and okra, beans and tomatoes, and incorporating Bengali spices, tamarind and curry leaves. Has he insulted the French, the Indians and the British? Probably not, because the result is divine – let the food speak for itself, despite its name.

“A great ratatouille is one in which the vegetables interact with each other, but are still discernible from each other. The trick is to cook them just right: not over, not under.”

I cannot bring myself to call this dish Indian Ratatouille, so for me it is Vegetables with Indian Flavours. Panch Phoran is an Indian whole seed mix – it is available at Indian groceries, or you can make it yourself by mixing equal amounts of fenugreek, fennel, black mustard, nigella and cumin.

This Ottolenghi dish is from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice, Caponata and Chargrilled Pumpkin Salad with Labneh and Walnut Salsa.

All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes. Browse all of our Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Moringa Leaf Podi | Drumstick Leaf Spice Powder

One last item we are making in this particular focus on Moringa leaves is a podi, or South Indian spice powder. For this, the leaves are dried quickly and then powdered. Simple, easy and quick.

We like to make our own seasoning from Moringa Leaves. Moringa Leaves are the next big superfood to come to the West from India, but available mainly in pill form. Many will never have seen a fresh Moringa Leaf! We love to cook with them, dry them, and use them as a seasoning in a powdered form. Our Moringa tree is growing well and we hope to have our own leaves next season.

Similar recipes include Moringa Leaf Thoran, Sundakkai Vathal Paruppu Podi, Grape Vine Leaf Powder, and Sambar Powder.

Browse all of our Moringa Leaf recipes and all of our Podis. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Chai Masala

I do love a good cup of Chai, and now that the evenings are cooling I find myself making Chai rather than a herbal tea late at night. There are infinite ways of making Chai, and so far we have a dozen or so of them here. This one is a nice mix too, and I recommend that you try it.

The composition of Chai spices differs from region to region. For example, in Western Indian, cloves and black peppers are avoided. In Kashmir, green tea is used instead of black tea, and they include almonds, cardamom, saffron, cloves and cinnamon in their spice flavourings. In Bhopal a pinch of salt is added to the tea.

Are you looking for more Chai recipes? Try Tulsi Chai, Sukku Malli Coffee, Chai Masala for Relief of ColdsGentle Chai and Yogi Chai.

You can browse all of our Chai recipes here. Or have a look through our Indian recipes. Or spend some time checking out our Early Autumn dishes.

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Aromatic Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice

This rice dish, very delicious I must say, is cooked in the oven. This method is  very handy if you are cooking a large meal and want to leave the stove top for other dishes. The general method can be used without the addition of the aromatics. Ottolenghi has this recipe in his book Plenty More but I have tarted it up just a little. As much as I love Yotham and crew, they need to get a better handle on Indian ingredients (IMO), so I have added or changed out a couple of things in this dish.

Try to get hold of fresh curry leaves on the stem for this dish – they freeze or dry well, so don’t worry if you end up with a big bunch. One of the ways in which curry leaf flavour is layered into a dish is to use them in several different ways in the same dish. Flavour a broth with them, as Ottolenghi does, saute/fry them in ghee or some other oil because the flavour is most easily transported by oils, and add crushed leaves to the final dish. I have used the last two methods in my version of this dish.

Serve the dish with an Indian pickle and a vegetable or lentil curry.

We have several ways of cooking rice, and this oven method is one more. Also try Oven Finished Rice, Buttery Steamed Rice, and The Absorption Method.

Similar recipes include Turmeric Rice, Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, Carrot Rice, and Lemon Rice.

Browse all of our Rice dishes, and our Indian Recipes. Our Indian Essentials are here. All of the Ottolenghi dishes we have made are here. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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Sri Lankan Chai

Tea is a big thing in Sri Lanka and is one of its main export crops. Drinking tea is a national pastime and it is served at any time of the day. Unlike South India, where tea is always milky, tea in Sri Lanka is either black or white, and sweetened with sugar or jaggery, and spices such as cinnamon or ginger can be added

Visitors are always served tea – perhaps this chai with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Rather than make it with milk in the South Indian way, this tea is made black and then evaporated milk is added to both sweeten and add a milky flavour. Who can resist?

We love chai here, and have quite a number of different recipes. Try our Yogi ChaiLiquorice Ginger Chai, Heavenly Gentle Chai, and Ashram Chai. Or browse all of our Chai recipes here.

We also love herbal teas, and you can explore our Tea recipes here.

Browse all of our Sri Lankan recipes, or our Indian dishes. Or simply take some time to browse our Mid Summer recipes.

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Golpar Namak

Persian Hogwood seeds, ground into a powder called Golpar, makes an interesting spice – slightly bitter, earthy, woody.  You will find it quite aromatic too. It is used a lot in Middle East countries, and you can buy the seeds Middle Eastern or Afghan grocers. You might be able to buy the powder, but I can only get the seeds and grind them myself.

I got chatting to a gentleman in the local Afghan shop, and he says that Golpar is known and commonly used in Eastern European countries too. It is sometimes called Angelica seeds, but that is incorrect.

Golpar Namak is the powder mixed with salt. It is a great seasoning, useful for almost anything, and especially good with beans, grains, rice and lentils. Try it sprinkled over cucumbers and pomegranates. If you can find sour plums, use it with them too. Put some in your preserves and chutneys.

Read more about Golpar here.

Browse all of our recipes using Golpar, and all of our Middle Eastern recipes. Or try our Early Summer recipes.

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Grape Vine Leaf Powder

Lately, I have been using a powder made from blanched, dried and ground grape vine leaves as a spice and flavouring. It has a deep red grape, woody flavour. We use grape leaves in cooking – e.g. dolmades, cheese wrapped in grape vine leaves, casseroles and baked dishes lined with grape leaves – AND that they dry easily, so I thought that powdering them might work. It does. It is still an experiment and work in progress, but I am sharing the beginnings with you.

It goes well mixed with ghee and stirred through rice, sprinkled over feta cheese, and scattered over vegetables before they are roasted. Mixed with salt it is an excellent seasoning and into yoghurt as you make a sauce, dressing or dip. It is an interesting umami type flavour.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Grape Leaf Encrusted Rice Pie, Burghul Dolmas, Baked Yoghurt in Vine Leaves, Grilled Pecorino in Grape Vine Leaves, and Mushrooms Cooked in Grape Vine Leaves. Other spice mixes/powders include Sundakkai Podi, and Chaat Masala.

Browse all of our Grape Vine Leaf recipes, and all of our Spice Mixes. Or explore our Late Spring recipes.

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