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Bitter gourd salad – raw and refreshing!

 

 

BITTERGOURD. Think of this vegetable and the first thought that comes to mind is its bitterness. Bitter gourd is believed to have many nutritive and medicinal values and great for detoxing. I have known that by consuming the bitter gourd juice regularly one can alleviate diabetes. Not sure about this. If any one have done this and have had improvement, kindly let me know.

 

There are a few types of bitter gourd.   Normally I use 2 types depending on what I want to use it for.  I have a daughter

who from a very young age loves bitter gourd, surprising me too as I am not fond of this vegetable.  I usually slice them very thinly and bake as chips for her to munch.   My whole family loves bitter gourd done this way.   I have grown to love this vegetable now.  So I am dedicating this dish/salad to my daughter who simply loves this vegetable!

 

About 1 year ago, I learnt from my cousin of another way of using up bitter gourd and it was a delight to eat, I was very surprised because she did not cook it. She made it into a salad. Guess what! This is a raw bitter gourd salad with the end result so refreshing and not at all bitter.

I have some bitter gourd plants at home so whenever there is one ready to be plucked, this salad will be made. It is that simple to make too.

This salad is a fabulous accompaniment to fish or any curry dish. It is enjoyable as an appetizer too.

If you panfry a fish or bake it, you can have this bitter gourd salad as a side dish as well.

So get going with a raw vegetable that is surprisingly not bitter as the name says!

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CHEESY BRINJAL BAKE

 

Vegetables always have great nutritional values and we are told to eat vegetables on a daily basis to receive as much nutritive values.

Many a times while discussing about food, my friends have always complained about how difficult it is to get their children to eat vegetables. I am so very glad that my daughters love all the vegetables whatever the colour. Very surprisingly, I personally do not like broccoli except if it is made into a blended soup. My girls will make fun of me about this whenever I cook broccoli!

Brinjal is one  vegetable that my family loves. I love Malay style brinjal berlado the best or in Indian style chutneys which goes so well with briyanis.

I love to bake vegetables as often as possible with different herbs and possibilities and one such dish is this brinjal bake.

It looks very presentable, simple to do, no need to fuss in the kitchen type of recipe.

It is a side dish for pasta or a meat dish and sometimes it can be the main dish as well if you are a vegetarian.

You can experiment with the different cheeses that you like or keep to the safe ones that you normally use.

Use different types of brinjals, as each is a little different from each other in flavour and taste. The lighter green and purple ones are less bitter though.

For this recipe use the big dark purple eggplant as they are large and easy to cut into even large slices.

Lets enjoy vegetables!

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ROAST TURKEY – TANTALISING DINNER FEAST

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Christmas and the  New Year  comes once a year and turkey is also allowed once a year into my house!

Usually we will have a formal sit down dinner. When my daughters were younger I used to put up a Christmas tree and they will decorate it with ornaments and wrap up the presents. Now my girls assist me with some of their favourite dishes. My elder daughter loves pate and makes it excellently. So it will be part of the first course.

Many friends have told me they don’t like turkey because it is dry and tasteless.

So I have decided to give a Christmas/New year  feast menu  and to roast a turkey which is moist and full of flavour.

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TOFU PANIYAARAM – A VILLAGE TREAT

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I tend to cook with whatever I have in my pantry or fridge.  So if friends drop by I will just do a quick snack, and this is one of them.

Tasty, easy and savoury!

If there are some vegetarians in the group, then I omit all meat/egg etc and make it totally vegetarian for all to enjoy.

I vaguely remember my mum making these but she had chopped long beans and some salted whitebaits in her paniyaaram.  Her vegetarian ones had cooked dhall (lentils) and vegetables.

If you are wondering what  paniyaaram is,  this is a tamil word for a food made of small balls of batter either fried or steamed.

Again there are so many versions, variations, sweet and savoury and all equally delicious.

My favourite is the Milk paniyaaram which I ate for the first time in a remote village in South India when I visited India as a tourist some 20 years ago.

The lady villager was so hospitable and refused to let me  go until I ate her milk paniyaaram and drank a cup of Indian coffee. I remember her serving me with a baby on her hips and with a wide smile on her face. This meal has been very  memorable for me, sometimes when I recollect, I think I can taste it again.   It was so so delicious. So it only shows that a  simple dish can be unforgettable till today. I will post her recipe sometime later.
Coming back to the paniyaaram, it is called  thus because you need a paniyaaram pan, it is similar to the Japanese takoyaki pan. Or for Malaysians similar to the older version of the Kueh bahulu pan.  The fried balls will retain a circular shape if using the paniyaaram pan.

takoyoki-pan

Japanese  Takoyoki panpaniyaaram-pan

Indian paniyaaram pan

 

If this pan is unavailable, don’t worry too much, just use any pan that you have which can be used to fry small balls of dough.  Use 2 spoons to form a ball and put it into the hot oil gently to fry.

Enjoy this simple recipe, my dear friends.  Do comment and subscribe so that you can receive all my recipes. (more…)

NUTRITIVE GOODNESS IN A MEAL

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Falafel is all about goodness, made totally of chickpeas or garbanzo beans.

Love it because it is one of the tastiest vegetarian food. It can be a starter or it can be the main meal.

I ate this  many years ago in London for the first time  in one of the Middle Eastern Cafés which are just about everywhere in the London streets.   It was good. It reminded me of  snacks that I ate  as a child but not the “’dressed up’’  kind.

I began to have a liking for such food and I started exploring the making of it as well as eating in places where  middle eastern food is served.    Not that I have tried all but the tastiest was in Amsterdam near a palace.  Really couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant though.

Now coming back to the making – many make the mistake of boiling or steaming the  dried chickpeas.

Absolute NO!  The dried chickpeas needs to be soaked preferably overnight and blended with some ingredients.

Form into canelles or lime sized balls, then just  deep fry, no need for crumbing or egg washing!

I have made it very easy for you to follow my recipe. Easy and yet  not short cutting the taste that comes with it.

Here I am using mini chapatis to wrap  it, but of course you may use any other wraps such as pita bread or soft tacos that are available in the supermarkets now.  Try and you will not be disappointed and you will have an accomplishment of feeding your friends and family a nutritious and tasty meal.

Serve it with Hummus ( a middle- eastern  dip) or simply grated  cucumber with yoghurt – delicious!

falafel 1

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SO VERY REFRESHING…….

Still on Vietnamese food,  this is  another  favourite dish of mine and my family loves it too.  It is wholesome, fresh and so very easy once you prepare the ingredients.

It is a way of eating fresh vegetables in a palatable manner and it is  good for communal eating and sharing .  I like to do this for a party as it can be prepared in advance and not much cooking is required.

Besides it is great for hot summer days as it is so very refreshing.

I taught this dish in my cooking class recently and everyone raved about the simplicity of the fresh ingredients and the delicious sauce that came with it.  It was also deemed to be so easy to do by everyone.  So give it a try, my friends!

This sauce recipe is so very special as it came from a Australian friend  who knew this Vietnamese lady who whipped up this sauce.   I simply love this sauce.  I make more than enough each time and use it for other dishes as accompaniment.  The most easiest way is to pour this sauce onto Chinese rice rolls – chee cheong fun.  Simply divine!

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Mushroom and Vegetable Curry

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I do love simple vegetarian food,  I cook lots of vegetarian dishes almost daily and have a wide repertoire of recipes.  And each time I cook, it becomes a new dish as I tend to modify or add some new ingredient.

This  vegetarian dish is so simple, interestingly tasty and can be eaten on its own with a glass of wine.   Yes, I didn’t make a mistake here…..

This dish was cooked on a  day when I returned from a trip and I couldn’t bear to go out and eat lunch.  So looking at what I had in my pantry, came up with this dish.   As I didn’t feel like eating rice, I made prata to go with this vegetable dish.

I am not into mushrooms as in itself they taste very bland even though mushrooms can be meaty.   This adds a new dimension to simple potatoes and carrots to create the meatiness in a vegetarian dish.

I used Indian spices as the vegetables need to be cooked for  a little longer than other greens. So the spices tend to gel very well with the longer cooking time, thus giving a lovely curry.

As I said earlier, this dish can be eaten on its own or with any bread,  chappati, or prata.

It is a good accompaniment to rice with some soup or other gravy.

Once in a while it is a nice change to eat simple food.  So try this out and one might not miss any meat!

 

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Tauhu Sambal

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There are many times when I prefer to eat non-meat meals at home. Inevitably it will be legumes. One such bean is the soya bean and when it is transformed to tauhu (beancurd) – it tastes wonderful.

Tauhu on its own is bland, it is nicer deep fried or added to curries and sambals.

 

tauhu sambal 1

 

The Chinese love their tauhu, so do the Malays, the Indians have their paneer (indian cheese) as the substitute but then tauhu is so readily available in the supermarkets and is also very economical.

Many people I know love tauhu sambal, it’s my family’s favourite too, hence this simple version. I have made it with very little oil. It is also a protein rich dish and can be eaten with my spinach pilaf, or just plain rice and chappati. The ground paste can be made ahead. It also freezes well.   Once you have the ground paste ready, you could make this dish in 15 to 20 minutes. So no excuse to say no time to cook!

 

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Tauhu sambal, pictured with spinach pilaf (recipe for which is on the blog)

 

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Olive Samba Rice

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This recipe was born because I wanted to use up a bottle of green olives that I had bought earlier.

Samba rice is a variety of rice from Sri Lanka and some parts of South India. There are several varieties of samba and it comes in red or the usual white rice. I suppose the red ones are unhulled and that accounts for the red colour. Samba rice can be identified from its oval shape and it is usually short-grain. It is very filling and a little corn-tasting and not so fluffy as the Thai rice.

 

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But then I like to add fibre to my cooking and surely samba rice fits the bill. I use samba rice for many recipes such as Dosa, (Indian pancakes served for breakfast) and for many kinds of flavoured rice where the cooked rice needs to be grainy in texture.

I must mention that as much as I do healthy dishes, I also love to eat totally devilish and full-of-butter desserts (more of this later)!

My olive samba rice is an easy one pot meal which can be eaten on its own or you may add a salad or a protein side dish. When I made this, I added a simple salad and my Spinach & Chicken Meatballs.

It is a nice dish to bring on a picnic as it can be eaten hot or cold. So enjoy and I suggest to read my notes below before attempting the recipe.

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Spinach & Chicken Meatballs

 

This is one of the most simplest recipes and now with the Air Fryer, it becomes easier. I don’t usually eat fried food or fry in oil for health’s sake.  But the air fryer makes me want to eat them – air fried!

You can have these meatballs in sandwiches, a snack, a side dish or even as a main course with a simple salad and roast potatoes.

 

 

I make this with many variations and usually add any vegetable that I have on that day. You can form it into different shapes as per your liking.

It is tasty on its own or with some tomato/chilli sauce if preferred.

When I have unexpected guests, I will make this in a jiffy and it goes well for tea time too.

It is a fast to cook – good to eat recipe. Do make it. You and your family will enjoy it too.

This time it was lunch and I made Olive Samba Rice to eat with the meatballs.

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