Spicy Zucchini Soup

One of the nice things that has come out of the pandemic is that I’ve been enjoying monthly video calls with my cousins. Since they also enjoy cooking (and eating!) we share a lot of recipes, recently they shared this tasty and simple, zucchini soup recipe.

It’s not only delicious, but nutritious – my husband even enjoyed the soup!

Ingredients

2 large zucchinis, cut into cubes

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 – 2 garlic cloves, sliced (optional)

1-2 serrano or jalapeno chillies, chopped

1 32-ounce vegetable or chicken stock

1 -2 teaspoons curry powder (or garam masala)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

Preparation

Heat oil in a saucepan, add the onions and chillies- fry until the onions are translucent.

Add the zucchini cubes and salt; fry for approximately 3-4 minutes.

Add the stock, cover, and cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes until the zucchini is soft.

Turn off the heat and blend using an immersion blender (or regular blender), until you have a thick and creamy consistency

Turn the heat back on and add the curry powder or garam masala, and bring it back to a boil.

Add lemon juice if desired. Garnish with cream or yogurt.

Lemon Rice (Chitrannam)

We have leftover rice in our house, quite often. Occasionally we freeze it to use another day, or turn it into another dish. Many of you may use it to make an Asian-style fried rice. In the south of India there are 2 popular rice dishes made using leftover rice – tamarind and lemon. Lemon rice is the simplest to make and can be eaten by itself or with a vegetable or chutney.

The great thing about using leftover rice – it is on the dry side and the rice can be mixed easily. If you don’t have precooked rice, simply make sure the rice is refrigerated – its best to use when it is cold and not mushy!

Nuts are optional but give the dish a nice added crunch!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons oil

1/4 cup peanuts or raw cashew nuts

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon urad dal

1 dry red chili

1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 sprig curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups cooked rice

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Preparation

Heat a tablespoon of oil and saute the nuts until lightly brown. Set aside.

Heat another tablespoon of oil, and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start popping add the urad dal and the dry chili. As the urad dal turns light brown, add the ginger and curry leaves and stir over medium heat. Add the turmeric and salt.

Stir in the cooked rice and mix well. Add the lemon juice and cilantro leaves, and stir until combined.

Garnish with nuts. Best eaten at room temperature.

Curry Leaf Popcorn Chicken

Recently I came across this recipe in Bon Appetit and knew that I had to try it as it had curry leaves in the ingredients. Chicken nuggets + Curry leaves = a winning combination!

Curry leaf plants can grow in tropical places similar to its native region of India. As it gets cold in the Carolinas, I have to bring the plant indoors in the winter.

Curry leaves can be found in Indian grocery stores (and some organic stores like Mom’s).
Storage Tip: After washing and drying the leaves, rub the leaves with a little oil and place them in a jar or zippered bag to freeze.

In most recipes curry leaves are tempered in oil, but in this recipe you simply blend them for the marinade and some chopped leaves are added to the flour coating as well.

The recipe calls for the chicken to be fried, but I made them successfully in my air fryer. They can be reheated in the air fryer or in a toaster oven.

Ingredients

1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds or 1/8 tsp. cardamom powder

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon whole black pepper corns

2 cups buttermilk

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2-3 green chillies, chopped

1 -1″ piece ginger, grated

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

25- 30 fresh curry leaves, divided

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, divided, reserving a little for garnish

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cubed into about 1″

2 cups all-purpose four

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Oil for frying (or brushing on)

2-3 green chillies, fried for garnish

5-10 curry leaves, fried for garnish

Preparation

In a small dry skillet, toast the cardamom, coriander, cumin seeds and black peppercorn, stirring until fragrant.

Cool and transfer half of the mixture to a spice mill and blend to a fine powder. Set aside.

Blend the remaining whole spices, buttermilk, lime juice, chillies, ginger, garlic, 15 curry leaves, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon cayenne to a blender until smooth.

Add the chicken to this, mix well and add to a resealable bag or covered bowl. Chill overnight or at least 4-8 hours.

Combine the reserved spice mixture, flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cayenne in another resealable bag. Chop the remaining 10 curry leaves and add to the flour mixture. Stir to combine well.

Heat about 1 1/2 ” oil in a wok , or pre-heat the air fryer to 400 degrees.

In the mean time, remove the chicken from the marinade and let the excess drip.

Add the chicken in small batches to the flour bag and coat well. Remove and set the coated chicken over a wire rack.

Repeat with the remaining chicken

Fry small batches of the chicken for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack with paper towels below to drain.

If using the air fryer, brush the chicken pieces with oil and add to air fryer (do not crowd) and cook for 5 minutes… Turn the chicken pieces and continue to cook for about 3-4 minutes to a golden brown. Repeat with the remaining chicken nuggets.

Garnish with fried chillies and fried curry leaves

Red Lentil and Zucchini Pakodas

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit a few months ago and it caught my attention for several reasons. I had never seen a pakoda (fritter) recipe made with not only Masoor dal (red lentils) but also a nutritious green vegetable.

Lentils are an excellent source of vegetable protein, rich in iron and folate and the addition of Zucchini adds antioxidants and fiber to the dish .

I experimented, adding a few more spices and cilantro to the original recipe and cooked it in my air fryer (healthy alternative to pan frying).

Serve the pakodas with cilantro chutney, ketchup or hot sauce.

Ingredients

1 cup Masoor dal (red lentils)

1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon ginger grated

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Ghee or oil for sautéing

Preparation

Rinse the lentil and soak with water overnight.

Add the grated zucchini to a colander and add the salt and onion. Mix well and set the colander over a medium bowl and let this mixture sit for a couple of hours.

Squeeze the liquid from the mixture and pat with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

Drain the lentils and place in a food processor.

Add the spices and 1/2 teaspoon salt and pulse the mixture till it forms a puree.

Transfer the lentil mixture to a bowl, add the zucchini mixture, chopped cilantro and stir to combine .

Heat oil or ghee in a large skillet over medium heat and drop about 1/4 cup batter , flattening the top with a spatula. Drop about 6 “pakodas” in the skillet and frying them for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with the remains mixture.

Makes about 12 pakodas, depending on size.

Air Fryer Method

While your air fryer is preheating (for approximately 5 minutes) at 380 degrees, shape your pakodas and brush with oil

Cook for about 6 minutes; turn them over, brush oil on the other side and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, until brown.

Serve with cilantro chutney, ketchup or hot sauce.

Savory Quinoa Mini Muffins

Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains – high in protein, a moderate amount of fibre and various minerals and vitamins. These mini muffins made with quinoa are a great addition to lunch or dinner with soup or as an appetizer.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cooked Quinoa

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 -1/2 cup corn

1/2 cup black beans

1/2 cup edamame or lima beans

1/4 cup salsa

1-2 tbsp hot sauce (Sriracha or buffalo wing hot sauce)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2-3 tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped

2 eggs, beaten

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a 24 cup mini muffin pan (or 2- 12 cup mini muffin pans) with oil.

Mix all of the above ingredients together and fill the muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and remove to a wire rack.

Matri (Savory Crackers)

One of my grandson’s favorite snacks is Matri, a savory Indian snack. The traditional way of making it is to fry the dough to make it quite crispy. As I am always looking for healthy snack recipes, I decided to adapt a savory cracker recipe and switched out the spices to the ones below, typically used for this recipe, and made a baked version of Matri. We have found that it is such an addictive treat!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon red chili powder

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

3/4 -1 teaspoon ajwain (Substitute: dry thyme or oregano)

1/3 cup oil

1/2 cup water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix all of the dry ingredients, including seasonings, in a large bowl.

Add the oil, and mix well.

Add the water slowly to make a fairly stiff dough.

Rest the dough for about 30 minutes.

Roll out to 1/4″ thickness. Prick the dough.

Cut into squares and bake for about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool Matri on a wire rack.

Curried Peas and Tomato

Fresh English peas are low in calories, high in fiber and have one of the highest amounts of plant-based protein. The addition of tomato makes this dish even healthier as tomatoes contain Lycopene and Lutein which are great for your eyes! Pan-fried or scrambled paneer and tofu can be added to the dish to make it more filling.

Ingredients

2 cups fresh English Peas (Trader Joe’s generally have them in stock in the salad/veggie section)

2 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 medium onion, chopped fine or grated

1 teaspoon each, garlic paste and ginger paste

1/2 – 1 teaspoon red chili powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 medium tomato chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro for garnish

Method

Steam the peas for about 4- 5 minutes till just soft (do not cook completely)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds- as the mustard seeds start popping, add the onion . Sauté for about 3 minutes till the onion start to brown.

Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir for 30 seconds. Add the remaining spices and continue to stir for a minute. Next add 2 tablespoons water and cook until the spices are well combined.

Stir in the chopped tomato and tomato paste and continue to stir till the tomato is soft and mushy. Add 1/2 cup water and continue to cook for another few minutes.

Add the peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice .

Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Variation: Add pan-fried Paneer (or even scrambled tofu) for a more filling dish.

Quick Stir Fried Chicken

I came across a recipe for Cauliflower Manchurian and the base was using ketchup… I thought I could adapt it for chicken as well! This is such a basic condiment thats in every house!

Ingredients

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, 1 1/2 “cubed

about 1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoon oil ( divided )

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 ” piece of ginger, grated

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ( more if needed)

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup tomato ketchup ( preferably low sodium and less sugar)

Method

Coat the chicken cubes with flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the chicken cubes and stir fry till the chicken is nearly cooked. about 4-5 minutes.

Remove and set aside.

Add another tablespoon oil in the wok, stir in the garlic and ginger. Stir for 30 seconds and add the remaining spices. Sauté till blended.

Add the ketchup. Cook for a few minutes till the mixture is thick and bubbly.

Add the chicken cubes into the sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Zucchini Bites

IMG_4864

I had been looking for a new, tasty vegetable dish and came across this recipe.

These little bites bake up crisp, are easy to prepare and even appeal to our not always so veggie friendly family!

They can also be frozen and reheat well.

 

Ingredients

1 medium zucchini, grated

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small carrot, grated

1 large egg beaten

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder,

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder.

1/4 teaspoon coriander powder

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

 

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Oil a baking sheet and set aside.

Put the grated zucchini in a sieve, sprinkle with salt and set aside for 5 minutes. Press as much liquid from the zucchini and place in a towel and squeeze as much water as possible.

Place in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Form small 2 ” flat patties and place on the baking sheet.

 

IMG_4863

 

Bake for 10 minutes, turn them over and bake again for an additional 6 minutes or so until they are brown and crisp.

 

 

 

 

Turkey Kabobs

img_3637

Kabobs are a popular menu item for most meat eaters, and an easy recipe to make ahead of time.  Turkey is good to use especially at parties if you’re not sure if certain people eat beef or lamb.

I have also mixed the ingredients ahead of time, and frozen the kabab mixture.  Its easy to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then shape the next day, and broil.

 

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey (93% turkey and 7% fat)

2-3 whole red chillies

1 cardamom pod, 2 cloves and 1/2″ cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon sahajeera (or cumin seeds)

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon chaat masala (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ginger paste

1/2 teaspoon garlic paste

1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs

oil for basting

1 limes or lemon

Garnish: onions sliced  lemon slices and cilantro chopped

Preparation

Roast the red chillies, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, sahajeera in a small skillet, until  the chillies are brown. Cool. Grind to a fine powder.

Mix in the remaining ingredients (except oil and lime).

Make into small logs, place on a foiled lined tray and broil for about 3-4 minutes on each side, basting with oil in between.

Squeeze a little lime/lemon before serving.  Garnish with sliced onions, lime slices and cilantro.

Tip: Make a larger quantity of the spice powder in advance and store until needed.

 

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