Mar 22, 2014

Roasted Amaranth & Banana Pancakes - Oil Free recipe

I've been on a gluten-free binge for a while now, avoiding wheat and gluten as much as I can. There are hundreds of replacements available in local grocery stores here in Bombay. You can use Jowar (Sorghum), Bajra (Pearl Millet), Ragi (Finger Millet), Foxtail Millet, Thinai (Italian Millet), Varagu, Singada (Waterchestnut flour), Arrowroot Starch, Rajgira (Amaranth Flour) and so many more that I don't even know of. Amongst all of them my most favourite flour to use is Amaranth also known as Rajgira here in India.

Samskara was kind enough to send me SOS Organic's Roasted Himalayan Amaranth Flour. I don't think the ones available in the market are roasted because the nutty flavour of this particular flour was stronger than usual. I loved the smell of it as soon as I opened the packet. The flour is slighlty more coarse since it is stone-ground. I store Amaranth flour in particular int he fridge because I noticed that this flour usually reacts to the weather. The easiest thing to do is make pancakes with gluten-free flours and that is exactly how I went about using some of this flour.

You need:
1 cup SOS Organic's Roasted Amaranth Flour
1/4 cup Arrowroot Flour
1 tsp Orgran Egg Replacer (Or any egg substitute for 1 egg)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1/4 tsp Nutmeg Powder
A handful of Pecans, chopped (Or walnuts)
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp Jaggery Powder (optional)
A pinch of Salt

To serve:
Jaggery Syrup or Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup or Any Jam

Mix the amaranth flour, arrowroot flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped nuts, salt.

In another bowl, mix the orgran egg replacer with 2 tsp of water and whisk with a fork till it is fluffy. Add the bananas to it and mash it well. Add salt and jaggery powder if you are using it. I like the pancakes to be less sweet so I can serve it with something sweet.

Mix wet with the dry ingredients and add as much water as you like till you get a thick consistency batter. It should be easily spreadable on your pan or griddle.

I use an iron pan or tawa to make the pancakes.

Serve it hot with anything you like.

Feb 7, 2014

Steamed Root Vegetable Salad with Black Soya and Salsa Verde

We rarely see the colour black in natural foods anymore. With the obsession for white even in our food choices, we are slowly foregoing things like unpolished Urad Dal, Sesame and Rice. I love using black sesame to make my grandmother's recipe of South Indian Gun Powder. It adds such a wonderful colour to the powder. When the lovely people over at Samskara sent me some Organic Himalayan Black Soya to experiment with, I was more than excited to add some black to my food. Black Soya is used to make Black Bean sauces in SE Asian cooking. The Black Soya bean is dried, salted and fermented to bring out that lovely tangy flavour. I'm still looking around for recipes to make that and decided to use it in this salad instead.

Green Tomatoes which are in season now

Not being such a good planner, I usually make up recipes with whatever I have on hand. I found these pretty looking green tomatoes in the market and was wondering what to do with them when the Salsa Verde idea came to me. Salsa Verde literally means 'Green Salsa' and is a Mexican side dish often added to tacos or used as a dip. Salsa Verde uses Tomatillos, but I read that green tomatoes are a suitable replacement. The salsa verde went very well with the mushy potato and sweet potato. The black soya added bits of colour and a nice bite to the salad.

Salsa Verde with Green Tomatoes

Steamed Root Vegetables and Black Soya

You need:

2 Potatoes
2 medium Sweet Potatoes
1/2 cup Himalayan Black Soya, soaked for 3 hours and drained
(You can also use carrots and beetroot)

For the Salsa Verde
2 Green Tomatoes
1/2 a small White Onion
1 clove of Garlic
1/2 a Spicy Green Chilli
1 tbsp fresh Oregano
2 tbsp chopped Coriander
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Steam the unpeeled potatoes, sweet potatoes and black soya for 20-25 minutes or until they are cooked and not mushy. Peel the vegetables after steaming and cut them into bite-sized chunks.

Chop up the green tomatoes, onions and garlic. Put it in a small pan with 1/2 a cup of water. Boil it until the tomatoes are cooked and the onion is translucent and take it off the stove. Add the salt, oregano and coriander and blend with an immersion blender. Add lime juice to finish.

Once the vegetables and soya have cooled, mix the salsa verde until it is evenly coated and serve.

The Salad

Jan 29, 2014

Sol Kadhi - Savoury Coconut & Kokam Drink

I'm back after a two month silence. Travel, weddings, work, baking and everything else has been keeping my off the computer. If only typing was easier on the phone! I break my silence with the simplest of recipes that is astonishingly delicious.

Solkadhi is a drink made with a fruit called kokam that is used to add sourness to recipes. Someone told me that they spotted kokam at a Whole Foods store in California. I won't be surprised if it is the next next big thing to replace Moringa, Quinoa, Coconut Oil or whatever the latest "Super food" is. It is a simple recipe that is not only vegan but also can be raw and is one of my favourites. It is a traditional Maharashtrian drink that is served chilled after a meal and is a wonderful light pink colour that is very refreshing on a sunny afternoon.

Dried Kokam
I usually make it with freshly pressed coconut milk but you could use the tinned variety too. This recipe also uses raw garlic cloves, but I stay as far away from raw garlic (or onions) as possible. I don't like my breath and my skin smelling of garlic for the next 24 hours. I also add a pinch of Pink Salt or Kala Namak which gives it a mild kick.

Sol Kadhi

Here is what you need:
2 cups of coconut milk
6-8 pieces of dried kokam, soaked in a tiny bit of water for an hour at least
2 small garlic cloves (Optional, I avoid it)
1 Green Chilli Pepper (Mildly Spicy variety)
1 tsp Cumin Powder (Omit this if you want to make it raw)
A pinch of Pink Salt (also known as Kala Namak)
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves to garnish

Blend the Coconut milk, Kokam, garlic, green chilli. Put it through a sieve. Add the rest of the ingredients, chill and serve.
If you are making Coconut milk from scratch then add the soaked kokam fruit pieces to the coconut meat with the rest of the ingredients while grinding with water. After two extractions you can add the rest of the ingredients and chill it.
Stir well before serving.

Nov 21, 2013

Vegan City Guide for Mumbai is out!

I have kept this little piece of information rather quiet until now. A few months ago, I was chosen by Amelia at Vegan City Guides to write a guide for Mumbai. The guide, as the name suggests is meant to give travelling vegans and new vegans an idea of how to eat their way through Mumbai. The guide is being launched today (21st November, 2013) as an eBook and will sell on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Nobles for around $3 or Rs. 190.

The guide covers all the information you need about restaurants, what to eat, where to eat, some common local dishes that are vegan and vegan stuff in grocery stores and super markets. It will be updated every year to include new entries in the vegan scene.

Go buy one now!

 Barnes & Nobles

You can follow Vegan City Guides on Facebook to keep updated on everthing they do and vegan travel tips!

Oct 29, 2013

Richa's (Brilliant) Vegan Diwali Sweets E-Book

It’s Diwali here in India and over this coming weekend, so many homes will light up with lamps, lanterns and  colourful lights. It is also when kitchens will be bustling with all the sweets and savouries being made to bring in the festival. I come from a South Indian family and the sweet stuff made in traditional kitchens involve some form of dairy. So how does a vegan get around this festival of Diwali surrounded by not-so-vegan sweets?

And that brings me to what this post is about. Richa Hingle the super talented kitchen goddess and brilliant photographer behind Vegan Richa has made things easier for people like me looking to make vegan traditional sweet-treat recipes this Diwali. She has put together a lovely e-book called Vegan Diwali Sweets. The e-book is for sale for $5 (which is a steal) and ALL the proceeds will be donated to two animal welfare organisations, one of which is in India working for animals affected by the Cyclone Phailin and the other to PeacePigs Sanctuary.

The recipes in this E-Book cover everything from Mysore Pak, Nan Khatai, Sandesh, Kaju Katli to Rasgulla, Rasmalai, Coconut Barfi and more! The recipes are easy to follow and must be doubled when you make it because it’ll be over before you know it.
I tried the recipe for the Mysore Pak (Chickpea fudge squares) because that was something I ate a lot before I turned vegan. I was so well known in my family for my love of Mysore Pak that whenever my uncle used to travel to Coimbatore, the headquarters of the most famous makers of Mysore Pak - Sri Krishna Sweets, he used to make it a point to get me a box of Mysore Pak. My uncle passed away a few years ago and when Richa asked me if I wanted to take part in the blog tour of her E-Book, I thought making Mysore Pak is my way of remembering him and everything he did to make my day when he brought me the Mysore Pak back then. It is also my way (through Richa's recipe, of course) of showing you all that in spite of choosing this lifestyle, almost any food can be adapted and can still taste absolutely delicious.

The colour of my Mysore Pak is not as yellow as Richa’s because I used unbleached brown sugar to make it.
I also made thinner squares.
If you have eaten a Mysore Pak you should know that if you eat more than two pieces of the one with ghee (clarified butter) it’s going to leave you feeling sick with a sugar high. The best part about making and eating vegan Mysore Pak is that you can enjoy the taste and texture of the Mysore Pak without feeling heavy or sick after stuffing yourself (read myself) with the whole batch.
Perfect texture!
Richa is generous enough to share her recipe of Amaranth Burfi with the world wide web. Try it and tell her how (delicious) it turned out.

Makes 15-20 . Easily doubled

1/2 cup Amaranth flour(Rajgira atta)
1/2 loaded cup dried coconut flakes. Pulse in a blender a few times to make coarse flour.
a generous pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon 
chai masala (or cardamom powder)
6-7 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon oil (optional)

In a wide pan, add the amaranth flour and heat on medium heat.
Dry roast until the flour gets fragrant and changes color. 5-7 minutes.
Reduce heat to low-medium. Add coconut flakes, salt, oil and chai masala/cardamom. Roast for another 1-2 minutes so the coconut flakes release some oil. Mix well.
Add the maple syrup mix into the flour mixture to get a very soft dough consistency. Use more for a soft sticky dough or less for just about all together dough for crumbly Burfi.
Add the oil, keep mixing and cook for a minute. The dough will become less sticky.
Transfer the dough onto parchment and flatten it out using a spatula or hands. Top with coconut flakes or almond slivers or pistachio slivers.
Let cool for a bit, then cut up into desired shapes. Cool and store in airtight container for a few days.

Go and get yourself a copy of the E-Book! It’s more than worth it!
Have a blissful and colourful Diwali! Be kind!



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