Spicy Vegetable Tawa Pulao (Vegan)


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dsc_0973Vegetable Pulao is a dish that you will find in every decent Indian cook’s repertoire.  It is so easy to put together and its a one pot dish!  Plus what I like about making pulao is that you can vary the amount or types of spices, use different combination of vegetables to come up with variations of the pulao so that it is never boring.  A vegetable Pulao is one item that always features in our potluck dinner gatherings with friends. It is one solid dish around which other curry dishes and appetizers truly become ‘sides’ but they all work perfectly well to complement each other !

In our home, at least every now and then on a weeknight, I tend to go the Pulao route. Mainly because of its ‘one pot’ quality.  This past week when I thought of making the pulao mid-week for dinner, I wanted to make a variation. So I thought of the famous ‘Tawa pulao’ which was popularized by Pav Bhaaji stalls(vendors) in Mumbai.  But it has quickly gained acceptance in other reputable restaurants too now. Tawa Pulao uses a large griddle (Tawa)  to cook the vegetables using the spicy Pav Bhaaji masala and then cooked rice is mixed with these vegetables on the same griddle along with lots of butter. Another unique thing about the Tawa pulao is that the vegetables having being cooked on a griddle along with loads of butter tend to be a bit crispy/crunchy on the outside and have tons of flavor! I used extra virgin olive oil to replace the butter.

dsc_0973Pan Bhaaji masala is an unique blend of 15-18 different indian spices like cumin,coriander,dry mango,ginger etc.  Tomatoes or tomato paste is one key ingredient when cooking the vegetables. Since I am avoiding tomatoes I used a few cranberries to get the tartness. And then on a whim, I decided to lightly sweeten the cranberries in maple syrup and threw in these sweetened cranberries also to top the pulao and to give it a thanksgiving feel 🙂

Spicy Vegetable Tawa Pulao (Vegan)

  • Servings: Serves 4-6
  • Time: about 45 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long grain Basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for 15 minutes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (You can add fresh minced ginger too additionally)
  • 1/2 cup onion sliced
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup capsicum (green pepper) slices
  • 1/2 green beans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 small potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp sea salt (as needed)
  •  2 tbsp Pav Bhaaji Masala ( I used Everest Brand)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sweetened cranberries and sliced almonds for garnish

Method:

Fill a large cooking pot with water and keep it for boiling.  Add a tsp of salt to the water. Drain the washed and soaked rice and add the rice to this boiling water. Cook rice on medium uncovered for about 8-10 minutes or until rice is tender but not too overcooked.

Drain rice immediately using a large strainer.  Keep drained rice aside to cool (uncovered)

In an other large bottomed cooking pot, heat the oil. Then add the onions and sauce for 2-3 minutes. Next add all the vegetables including the potato and saute for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Next add the cranberries and the salt and spices. Mix well so that all vegetables are well coated with spices. Cover the pot with a lid and let cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.  Now check to see if the vegetables are cooked – they should be al dente – that is still retain a bit of crunchiness. Now add the cooled rice to this vegetable mixture slowly a little bit a time and  also drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil on top and continue to throughly mix the rice and the vegetables taking care not to mush up the vegetables. Check for seasoning – add salt or pepper as needed.

Serve Pulao warm topping with sweetened cranberries and sliced almonds on top!

To make sweetened cranberries:

In a small pot, add 1 tbsp water, pinch salt and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Add about 8-10 cranberries to this and cook on low for 2-3 minutes or until all liquid is evaporated and cranberries turn plump. Turn heat off.

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Tawa Pulao

 

 

 

 

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 – before 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 – quite 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 🙂

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

 

ChocoRaisin Ladoos (Chocolate balls with raisins, coconut and nuts)

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Recently I received a gift of deep dark raisins from my sister.  I should say – ‘huge gift’ since there was about 6 pounds of it! These were fresh (or freshly dried or picked fresh and then dried or whatever process is employed for making raisins!). My BIL has a client who apparently hails from Nashik district in India which is famous for its grapes. Anyways, I thanked my sis and my BIL profusely and told them it was so generous of them to send so much! The raisins occupied one entire drawer in my pantry and everytime I opened my pantry I wondered what I could do with them. And then my dad arrived. And with him came another bag full of …guess what? yes you guessed it right, raisins! More raisins!  Yikes! What am I supposed to do with them?  My dad said he had no clue but that BIL thought you loved the previous delivery and so had thoughtfully sent in some more!

OK so I have been meaning to try a lot of recipes where I could use raisins. But in all honesty I haven’t had the time to try out new recipes or experiment on my own. However there was one way I thought where I could use them instantly without much effort and that was for making these raisin, coconut and chocolate balls.  For making these balls, I normally just combine chocolate, coconut and nuts.  This time of course I added raisins too! And lots of them! I tried different proportions of the ingredients and finally came up with this winner recipe! 🙂 And best part – Oh it’s so easy to make – even the kids can make this!  As I saw it there was only one slight problem – what name should I give these adorable cute treats? Hah, what else then ‘ladoos’?  Ladoo is a term used for many Indian sweets that are shaped into small balls. And for that reason it is sometimes (read as in Indu’s dictionary) also used to endearingly address a dear and darling loved one!  So what better name than ‘ladoos’ for these little darlings that are a perfect treat on any day – You can indulge guilt free as this has all the good stuff in it – raisins, coconut,dried cranberries, walnuts and of course good old chocolate! So these ladoos have entrenched themselves in our home and we are not complaining.!  And yes I can finally use up all those raisins! 🙂

I am also bringing these ‘chocoraisin’ ladoos to Fiesta Friday #31 where every week there is a party and what a lovely collection of cooks and their recipes.

ChocoRaisin Ladoos (Chocolate balls with raisins, coconut and nuts)

  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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 This recipe makes around 12 Chocolate Ladoos

Ingredients:

  • Milk Chocolate bar / pieces 100 gs ( 4/5 th of a 1 Hershey 4.4 ounce bar)
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut(fresh or frozen that has been thawed to room temp) or unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries,chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil or ghee or butter (to grease your palms)
  • 12 Mini Paper baking cups

Method:

1. Take a medium size mixing bowl and melt the chocolate bars in the microwave by heating in 30 sec intervals. After each 30 secs, take out and stir and then put back in and continue until chocolate has melted fully. Alternatively, you can use the double boiler method to melt the chocolate.

2.Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix with a spatula.

3. Divide into equal portions Now grease your palms with the oil to avoid sticking and take each portion and roll between your palms to form a ball shape (ladoo)

4. Next roll this ladoo onto the extra coconut flakes to coat them with coconut

5. Place on the paper baking cup and let sit in the fridge for about an hour to set. After that you could keep them at room temperature as long as the temperatures are under 70 deg F inside your home.

NOTES:

  1. You don’t need to weigh the chocolate exactly – what I do is read the label to figure out the total gs in a chocolate bar and then combine pieces to make approx 100gs. A little more or la little less should be ok.
  2. One thing about Chocolate bars is that you can melt them either using the double boiler method (where you place the chocolate in a bowl that is placed on another pot that has boiling water) or you can melt it in the microwave in small 30 sec intervals.  Chocolate also behaves differently depending upon the room temperature. Hence consider the quantities here as approximate and you may need to either increase slightly the quantity of chocolate or the coconut in order to properly form the ladoos. Once you keep that in mind, making these ladoos is a breeze!

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