Methi Aloo Paratha with south indian flavors (Potato and Fenugreek leaves stuffed flatbread)

Paratha is typical North indian food right? So why am I trying to ‘southernize’ it? He he…just happened like that one day by accident and a new ‘paratha’¬†was created in our household ūüôā So here is what happened. Once in a¬†week I make Methi theplas for my kiddos’ lunch box. ¬†And usually I make more theplas for them once they come home from school for a healthy snack. One time I had a boiled potato left over too and so I thought of stuffing the thepla with the potato. I just wanted to keep it simple and decided to just add some ‘chaat masala’ to the potato stuffing. I quickly grabbed the ‘chaat masala’ pack from the fridge and sprinkled on the mashed potato. But after I had added it, I realized that I had actually added ‘sambhaar masala’ ūüôā So that was the birth of this Methi Aloo paratha with sambhaar spices!

¬†The kids just loved the hot, spicy parathas and gobbled them all up in a few minutes. Then I made them again on a weekend when my husband enjoyed them too and that’s¬†how these parathas came to¬†become so popular in our house now. My youngest always wants me to make the ‘stuffed Aloo’ ones instead of just the plain methi theplas ūüôā

Isn’t it fun when mistakes lead to sweet (or in this case, spicy) innovations ? ūüôā

Methi Aloo Paratha with south indian flavors (Potato and Fenugreek leaves stuffed flatbread)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, Breads
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
A whole wheat flatbread stuffed with fenugreek leaves and potatoes with a hint of south indian spices
Ingredients
For the dough (outer covering):
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen methi(fenugreek) leaves
  • 1 tsp ajwain seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper powder (use kashmiri chill powder for mildly spiced)
  • about ¾ cup water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
For potato stuffing:
  • 2 large Boiled potatoes, peeled and mashed
  • 1 tbsp sambhaar powder (I use Aachi brand)
  • 1 tsp salt (check if your sambhaar masala has salt already before adding)
Instructions
  1. Add all the dough ingredients except water and oil in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the water little bit at a time and form a dough. (You can use a stand mixer also to form the dough). Add the oil and mix again so that the dough is soft and smooth. Divide dough into small balls about a golf ball size.keep aside covered.
  2. Mix all the stuffing ingredients in a small bowl and use a potato masher to make the mixture really smooth - there should not be any lumps. Keep this aside.
  3. Heat a chapati pan (or any non stick pan).
  4. Roll each dough ball into a small circle and place 1 tbsp of the potato stuffing in the center. Bring the outer edges of the circle into the center to pinch at the center (like a dumpling) and then again roll carefully to form a paratha. (use lots of extra wheat flour for dusting to prevent sticking)
  5. Place the paratha on the hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes on one side before flipping. Apply oil or ghee on the flipped side and again flip to the other side and apply ghee again. Flip once more to cook on the second side and when you see golden brown spots on both sides, transfer to a dish. Keep warm covered with foil until serving.
  6. Repeat process for the rest of the dough and stuffing.

Caribbean Chow/Indian Chaat Style Salad

I think you can guess¬†from the title of my post that I was struggling to come up with a proper name for this creation ūüôā It started with me coming across a caribbean mango cucumber¬†chow recipe on a recipe forum. My sensory buds tingled at the mention of mango. And with cilantro and lime thrown in? Wow, even more mouthwatering stuff.

So that was the inspiration for my salad. So I got myself a mango two¬†weeks ago – yes mangoes have started making an arrival here in our grocers! And note I said ‘ got myself a mango’, which meant that I was¬†NOT willing to share this with anyone else at home. Yes I mean it. When it comes to mangoes, I become an infant …’Its mine!” ¬†OK OK so my family left me alone. ¬†They had the infinite wisdom that once mangoes start making more of an appearance especially at the Indian grocers, mom would get¬†a crate of them and at that point¬†she will be willing to¬†share some with us.

So the recipe I had seen was fairly simple – onion, garlic, green chillies, lime juice and …Culantro. ¬†Yes no typo there, it is Culantro. ¬†I looked it up and it says that culantro or shado beni is a special herb grown in the caribbean. ¬†It is supposedly slightly different from Culantro or shado beni but cilantro is a close substitute. ¬†I am definitely very interested in laying my hands on this herb! ¬†Please let me know if any of you know where I can get it in the US?

Continuing with my salad, I added diced¬†avocado, cucumber and mango together. ¬†For the caribbean¬†chow, ¬†you pound together the onion, garlic, chillies and culantro and add this to the mango/cucumber pieces. Toss with salt and pepper and you are good to go! So I did this and then decided to add some chaat masala since the green chili and cilantro mixture along with lime was so reminiscent of the chaat we used to have back in the streets of Mumbai. ¬†So I added some chaat masala – the salad started tasting so good and I continued to sprinkle more and more of the chaat masala till I felt that it was just perfect – ‘You could eat the whole bowl’ kind of perfect! ¬†Yum!

After that day I started getting mangoes every week and I have made this salad at least three times in the past two weeks!. This last time I made it, i also added cooked beets and sweet potatoes to it.  Tasted wondrous and a perfect side dish to my pan fried salmon.

Chaat masala btw is a blend of several different spices and has a dominant sour/tangy flavor from the dry mango powder and the black salt (pink salt) but it has a little bit of heat also from the other spices and cayenne pepper. I always buy store bought chaat masala but here’s a recipe for it if you would like to see the ingredients – Chaat masala recipe

Linking this delicious salad recipe to Plant-Based Potluck Party Link Up and Saucy Saturdaythis week.

Caribbean Chow/Indian Chaat Style Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad, Paleo, Vegan
Cuisine: Caribbean , Indian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
A tangy and sweet tropical salad consisting of cucumber, avocados and mango deliciously spiced with cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and chaat masala
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ red onion
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • ½ ripe mango, cut into medium size chunks
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and diced
  • ½ boiled potato (or sweet potato), diced
  • ½ of a medium beet cooked (optional), diced
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp chaat masala
Instructions
  1. In a mortar or pestle or a small food processor, add the cilantro, garlic, red onion and the lemon juice. Blend well until you get a chunky kind of paste. Keep aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the avocado, cucumber, mango, potato (or sweet potato) and beet (if adding). Add the cilantro mixture to this. Add the salt, pepper and the chaat masala. Toss well to mix the spices well with the vegetables and fruits. Serve fresh!
Notes
For Paleo version, Use sweet potato instead of potato
For AIP version, Use sweet potato instead of potato and Skip chaat masala

Link up your recipe of the week

Vegetable Korma – Navratan Style (Vegan, Paleo)


Navratan Korma is a rich, creamy and highly delectable dish of vegetables, fruit, nuts and paneer. ¬†It is very rich since butter/ghee, heavy cream and cashew nut paste is used to make the gravy. A blend of different spices is used in this curry along with several garnishes like nuts, seeds and herbs like mint and cilantro. ¬†‘Navratan’ ¬†or ‘Navratna’ means nine jewels and this dish having originated during¬†the Mughal regime really is befitting for a king.! The nine jewels stand for a combination of nine different vegetables, fruits and nuts.

I had been wanting to make vegetable korma since the past few weeks. Now that I am on a paleo diet, I need to eat lots of vegetables to keep me satiated!  My favorite dish lately has been the Keralan Avial which is mixed vegetables in a coconut gravy.  Since this has plantains and other root vegetables like taro root, yam etc this really fills me up.!

Vegetable Korma in Kerala is made using coconut paste or coconut milk and that is what I wanted to make. However,¬†I had some¬†leftover¬†pineapple and so I decided to add some pineapple too and make it spicy and sweet …kinda like ‘navratna korma’. As I began to make it, I thought of adding some swiss chard leaves too! Greens are not common in either vegetable or navratan korma but hey I thought it can’t go ¬†wrong. ¬†And hence this dish was born! ¬†I used only five jewels – cauliflower, carrot, winter melon, swiss chard and pineapple. maybe I should call it panchratna (five jewels) korma ūüôā I decided to make my own spice blend for this curry adding fennel and cardamom along with other whole spices. I loved it very much and this is going to be another of my staple mixed vegetable paleo dishes for now. For a Paleo AIP version, you can still make this curry omitting all spices and using only cinnamon, star anise and cloves.

Vegetable Korma - Navratan Style (Paleo, Vegan)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Delectable curry of mixed vegetables cooked with an aromatic blend of spices and coated in creamy coconut milk sauce to be served over white rice.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup cubed winter melon (or you can use any other vegetables like squash or zucchini etc)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup swiss chard leaves, chopped roughly
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp spice blend (see recipe below)
  • 1 1 /2 cups thick coconut milk (fresh* or canned full fat)
  • ½ cup pineapple chopped
For Spice blend:
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 -3 green cardamoms, outer shell removed
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 one inch long cinnamon stick
Instructions
To make spice blend:
  1. First lightly roast the fennel seeds on a small heating pan for about 2 minutes on low heat. Then add the rest of the whole spices and heat stirring frequently for another minute. Transfer to a spice (coffee) grinder and blend till you get a fine powder. Place in an air tight container.
  2. In a large cooking pot, add the coconut oil and heat. When hot, add the onion,ginger and the curry leaves and sauce for 2-3 minutes. Then add the cauliflower and carrot pieces and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Then cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes or so until the vegetables are cooked. Then add the winter melon, salt and water and again cover and cook for about 4 minutes.
  3. Open the lid and add the spice blend, red chili powder and the swiss chard leaves. Stir to mix well.
  4. Next add the coconut milk and let cook for about 2 minutes till it comes to a boil. Turn heat off and add the pineapple pieces and mix well.
  5. Serve warm!
Notes
For making fresh coconut milk:
1cup of freshly grated coconut or fresh frozen grated coconut that has been thawed
1½ cups of warm water
Blend the coconut with 1 cup of the water and strain using a fine mesh sieve. Add the strained coconut meat back into the blender and blend with the rest of the water. Again strain milk thru the sieve. You should have about 1½ cups of milk.
For AIP version:
Omit all spices not permitted under AIP - use only star anise, cinnamon and cloves for spices

Steamed Swiss Chard Roll ups (Alu Wadi using Swiss Chard leaves)

dsc_0237 dsc_0247One of the best things I love about food blogging is the chance to come across so many different food bloggers and their recipes. One such blogger, Archana (who blogs at Ministry of Curry )and her recipe attracted me a few weeks ago when she posted the recipe for the traditional Maharashtrian delicacy of Alu wadi using Swiss Chard leaves. ¬†I was so excited to see that since ‘Alu Wadi’ is traditionally made using Colocasia leaves and they are available in our Indian grocers only seasonally plus they are usually not of good quality. Plus Colocasia leaves have to be carefully picked otherwise they can cause itchiness in the throat. That happened to me once when I bought the leaves once to make all wadi in the early days of our marriage and after that I never again experimented with them ūüôā

Alu wadi using swiss chard leavesGujarati cuisine also has a similar dish and it is called as patra however I always liked the Maharashtrian version better since the Gujarati version is a little too sweet for my palate.

So anyways, seeing Archana’s post made me want to try this recipe once again since Swiss Chard is so readily available here plus there is no issue of choosing the leaves carefully! Plus Archana did such a fabulous job of showing the detailed steps pictorially. ¬†Archana blogs at Ministry of Curry¬†and judging by her lovely and detailed recipes, she definitely can be called an authority in Maharashtrian cuisine as well as in other Indian cuisines as well. Thank you Archana for this wonderful idea. I am going to be making Alu wadi ..oops Swiss chard wadi quite often now!

I made a couple variations to the batter mainly because of my health issues. Since I am going light on legumes, I used Bajra flour (millet flour) for the batter mainly adding only a little bit of besan (chickpea flour). And replaced the tamarind (as that’s a big no for my arthritis) with lemon juice. ¬†And oh yes, replaced the jaggery¬†with some maple syrup. ¬†The end result was so good…the kids and the Mr. loved it a lot. Since I had made a small ‘experimental batch’ it was all over too soon! Now that’s what I call a¬†‘super duper hit’ recipe!

Here’s my version of the recipe. Since Archana has posted step wise photos, I suggest you go to her post if you need detailed directions.

Steamed Swiss Chard Roll ups (Alu Wadi using Swiss Chard leaves)

  • Servings: Makes about 12-14 pieces
  • Time: 30 minutes preparation time and 25 minutes cooking time
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Ingredients:

10-12 Swiss Chard leaves

For the batter:

  • 5¬†tbsp basra flour (millet flour)
  • 2 tbsp Besan flour (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ajwain seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • about 1/4 cup water

Olive oil for light frying

sesame seeds for topping

Method:

Clean the swiss chard leaves and cut the stems off.  Fold each leaf vertically in the center and trim off the bulging vein in the center slightly. This will help in rolling the leaves

Pat dry the leaves using paper towels and keep aside.

Mix all the batter ingredients together adding the water slowly to form a thick paste Рit should have  a spreadable consistency but should not be too thin.

Now take the leaves one at a time and spread a thick layer of the batter (paste) on each leaf. Place a second leaf on top and repeat the same thing until you have a stack of 5-6 leaves. Now roll the stack of leaves as you would roll a towel rolling tightly as you go.

Repeat with the remaining leaves so that you have two rolled stacks.

Place a steamer on the stove to heat (Or you can make a steamer using a large cooking pot and a dish on the bottom. Fill this large pot with a little water. And place a small pan on top of the dish.)

Once the steamer is ready, place the rolled up stacks on the steamer (or in the small pan inside the large pot).  Cover the steamer and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat once the water in the steamer starts boiling. Turn heat off and let cool for 10 minutes before taking the rolls out and cutting them into 1/2 inch rolls.

Finally, place a frying pan on the stove with a little bit of oil (about 2 tbsp ).  Top the cut rolls with sesame seeds and carefully place them sesame seed side down one by one in the pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat until crispy on the bottom.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on the top and then turn the rolls to cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes.  carefully take them out on paper towels to catch the excess oil.  Serve the rolls warm!

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (with Cranberries)

img_2204Winter is here after all. Sigh. The last few weeks I have been visiting all our local farms to try  and stock up on all the fresh apples of this season. Along with apples, there have been a good bounty of pumpkins and squash as well. This past weekend when I scouted the farms again to pick up any leftover apples Рbefore they closed for the season, I found squash at throwaway prices. 99c for one. Not a bad deal! So I picked up Butternut squash and a couple acorn squash.

Butternut Squash is a winter squash very popular in the US and Canada and also in Australia and New Zealand. It tastes very much like pumpkin Рquite sweet but has a nutty flavor. Because of its sweet taste, I have personally liked it only in soups. Roasting it is the easiest way to cook it plus also gives it additional flavor.

So I decided to make the soup mixing both the butternut and acorn together since acorn squash is a little less sweet. Halfway through¬†my cooking process, I decided to add cranberries. I thought that would be a good way to mellow the sweetness down plus add a bit of tanginess. ¬†You could also use tomatoes for this purpose but since I am avoiding all nightshades I decided to use cranberries for this purpose. Cranberries turned the soup into a nicer color too, imparting it more of a reddish tinge. Unfortunately since it was night time the photos don’t do justice to the actual color of the soup.

Butternut Squash soup with cranberriesMy son who is my main food critic at home, loved it and gulped down two bowls of the soup! And my daughter who doesn’t usually eat any vegetables much slurped it down too merrily. What more can I ask for ūüôā

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (with Cranberries)

  • Servings: Makes 5-6 servings
  • Time: about 1 hour prep(baking) and 30 mins cooking time
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a large butternut squash
  • 1/2 of a medium acorn squash
  • 2-3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 6 cups water
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top
  • red chili flakes for extra heat (optional)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400 deg F. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Cut the acorn squash in half and place in a tray lined with al foil face down (skin up). Add the garlic cloves with skin on onto tray as well.

Place tray in the oven and roast for about 40-50 minutes until the flesh inside the squash is tender. Remove from oven and Cover the squash pieces with foil and let cool for a few minutes. Peel the skin from the squash and the garlic and keep the flesh aside.

While the squash is in the oven, chop the onions and celery.

In a large cooking pot, add the oil and the onions and celery. Salute for 5 minutes on low until tender. Then add all the spices and the salt.

Next add the roasted squash and the roasted garlic(peeled). And add the cranberries and the water. Let simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.

Turn heat off. take an immersion (hand) blender and puree the soup in the pot. (Alternatively, if you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender – but wait until the soup is less warm)

Serve with a dash of extra virgin olive oil and some red chili flakes on top!

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Butternut Squash soup with cranberries