Fat Free Ginger Redolent Broth of Bean Curd & Vegetables, The Asian Way

Fat Free Ginger Redolent Broth with Bean Ciurd and Tofu, The Asian Way









Since I started my first kooky soup post with a broth and given my current obsession with soups, it seems fitting that I say farewell to 2013 with another one of my fat free broth recipes!

This one is very simple to prepare and tastes absolutely heavenly thanks to the generosity of ginger.

For additional flavour, I added a beef stock cube; you can use one of your choice.

You can play around with the vegetables. I made it with broccoli, mushrooms and baby corn to stick to the Asian theme.


1 Cup washed and chopped broccoli

1 Cup washed and chopped mushrooms

1 Cup washed and chopped baby corn

1/2 Cup bean curd, cubed

Fresh ginger root the size of your thumb twice over

Stock cube

2 to 3 cups water

Salt to taste


  1. Wash and finely grate the ginger. Keep any juices which come out.
  2. Pour the water in a soup pot along with grated ginger, its juice and the stock cube.
  3. Bring to boil, add the baby corn, cover, lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Next, add the bean curd, broccoli and mushrooms along with a pinch of salt.
  5. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes till vegetables are tender.
  6. Serve piping hot.


  1. I didn’t peel the ginger but you can do so if you prefer.
  2. You can add some finely chopped spring onion on top if you like.

I chopped the bean curd and vegetables same size in order for them to cook evenly.

Bean Curd and Vegetables for Fat Free Ginger Redolent Broth with Bean Ciurd and Tofu, The Asian Way  Baby Corn for Fat Free Ginger Redolent Broth with Bean Ciurd and Tofu, The Asian Way



Homemade Tahini: Quick, Pure & Economical

Homemade Tahini









New Year party preparations are in full swing in our house. There will be plenty of cooking happening over the next couple of days as we say farewell to this year and welcome in 2014.

In the process of making a couple of spectacular dinners, we are happy to cut cost and go the homemade route if it means not compromising on quality or even enjoying better quality.

Dry sesame seeds
Dry sesame seeds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tahini is one such example. While we need some for one of our recipes, I didn’t see the point of spending money on a whole jar which is imported and therefore expensive in a silly way. So, I looked up a few recipes on the internet for homemade tahini and this is my result.

easy, wholesome, pocket friendly and tastes as good as ready made

In fact, this is so good that now I wish I had made it sooner!

Any leftover can be stored for a good few months.


100 Grams white sesame seeds

1/4 Cup good quality olive or sesame oil

A pinch of salt


  1. Pour the sesame seeds in a frying pan.
  2. Place the pan on the lowest possible heat option on your burner.
  3. Roast them for 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Keep stirring constantly so that the seeds roast evenly. The idea is to get them nicely roasted (but not brown them in the process).
  5. Once the sesame seeds are roasted, transfer them to a plate and let them cool down.
  6. Put the cooled roasted sesame seeds in a food processor or a blender and powder them.
  7. Once they are finely powdered, add the salt and oil.
  8. Blend them till you get a smooth tahini paste.
  9. Transfer the tahini to a screw top glass jar.

Warm Couscous Salad the Kooky Way

Couscous the Kooky Way









Today’s post is the result of a homemade salad dressing which I wanted to finish. Was trying to think of ways in which it could be used to create a warm dish and this couscous salad is the result.

couscous recipe
couscous recipe (Photo credit: ukcider)

The salad dressing recipe is my sister’s, the kidney beans give this dish a Mexican touch and the vegetable base and seasoning are Mediterranean.

a bit of a kooky recipe with multiple influences

You can adapt this warm salad to whatever you have lying around in terms of vegetables, protein (beans or poultry) and dressing; it is totally flexible.

Ingredients for my Sister’s Signature Salad Dressing

1 Tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon prepared mustard (I used Colman’s original English mustard)

Juice of one lime or lemon

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Put all the ingredients in a screw top glass jar.
  2. Shake well till amalgamated.
  3. Will stay good in a refrigerator or in a cool environment for up to a week.

Ingredients for Couscous Salad

1/2 cup boiled kidney beans

1/2 cup cooked couscous*

2 Onions, finely chopped

1 Courgette

1 Yellow pepper

3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds, toasted

One tablespoon anchovies in olive oil*

One tablespoon Laura Santini Taste #5 Umami Paste (optional)*

One tablespoon crumbly, piquant cheese (I used Manchego)

Salt to taste


  1. First, we need to “marinade” the salad base. Add salad dressing to the boiled kidney beans and finely chopped onions. Cover tightly and keep for 4 to 5 hours. Do this in advance so that the flavours develop.
  2. When you are ready to prepare the salad, wash and chop the courgette and yellow pepper in medium sized chunks.
  3. Heat oil, add the courgette and pepper chunks along with a bit of salt, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Throw in the chopped parsley and seasoning of choice. Mix well, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. By the end of this cooking time, the vegetables should be cooked but still have a bite to them. You don’t want them too soft or mushy.
  5. Leave them covered while you prepare the couscous according to instructions on the packet.
  6. Now add the vegetables, couscous, toasted seeds and crumbly cheese to the onion and kidney bean mixture.
  7. Mix well and serve.


  1. Cook the couscous according to packet instructions. You can add a stock cube to the boiling water for a bit of flavour if you like. I didn’t because I had boiled the kidney beans in chicken stock.
  2. You can use plain olive oil or flavoured oil to cook the vegetables.
  3. The choice of seasoning is entirely yours. I used umami paste since I thought it would go well with the other Mediterranean flavours.

a few drops of hot sauce over the salad takes it to another level

Rice Free Idli of Bajra (Pearl Millet) & Ragi (Finger Millet) Grains: Plain and Masala Varieties

Rice Free Idli of Bajra (Pearl Millet) and Ragi (Finger Millet) Grains









Let me start off this post with a disclaimer: I have nothing against rice. In fact, I like rice in all shapes and form although I rarely eat it. In my quest for a healthy and nutritious diet, I try to replace rice with other grains wherever possible.

today’s recipe is a tale of two idlis which met by chance in one cooking session

Having successfully made rice-free jowar (sorghum) idlis in the past, for this recipe, I thought of experimenting with two other types of millet grains: pearl (bajra) and finger (ragi).

a successful experiment which demonstrates that it is possible to make idlis without rice

Batter for Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Masala)
Batter for Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Masala)
Batter for Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Plain)
Batter for Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Plain)

Another fortuitous discovery I made while making these is masala idli.

While the first round of idlis were merrily steaming away, I suddenly remembered that I had some shelled peas and mixed sprouts lying around in the refrigerator. I thought of adding these along with some freshly grated turmeric and green chilli-ginger paste to the second round of idlis.

Both types taste equally good. They are soft like conventional idlis although not as fluffy (absence of rice I imagine).

The following makes 24 regular size idlis.

Ingredients for Plain Idli Batter

1 Cup bajra (pearl millet)

1 Cup ragi (finger millet)

1 Cup white urad dal (white gram/white lentil)

2 Tablespoons methi seeds (fenugreek)

Salt to taste

Ghee for greasing idli moulds

Ingredients for Masala Idli Batter (Optional)*

2 – 3 Tablespoons shelled peas

2 – 3 tablespoons mixed sprouts

1 Teaspoon turmeric

1 Teaspoon green chilli-ginger paste


  1. Wash the bajra, ragi, urad dal and methi seeds.
  2. Add water and soak for 8 to 10 hours.
  3. Grind in a food processor. The end result should be a batter which is neither too thick nor too thin. Some of the ragi grains may remain whole, this is perfectly okay.
  4. Cover and place the batter in a warm, dark place to ferment. This can take anything from a few hours to 34 hours depending on the temperature (see note below).
  5. When you are ready to cook the idlis, add some salt to the batter and mix well. If you are making masala idli, you can add the optional ingredients at this stage.
  6. Grease idli moulds and pour the batter in them.
  7. Put in a steamer and let the idlis steam for 40 minutes.
  8. Remove from the steamer and leave for a few minutes.
  9. Run a knife under each idli to remove it from its mould.
  10. Serve with chutney of your choice.


  1. In warm weather, the batter can ferment in a matter of 4 to 6 hours. If the temperatures are low, the fermentation process takes much longer.
  2. For masala idli, you can add any vegetable of your choice. Grated carrots, grated cabbage and grated bottlegourd would work equally well.
  3. I had fresh turmeric root which I grated and used which is why the colour of my masala idlis is so bright! You can use turmeric powder instead.

Here are the two friends side by side – plain and masala.

Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Plain)  Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Masala)

Fat Free Red Cabbage, Carrot & Pea Soup

Fat Free Red Cabbage, Carrot and Pea Soup









Following the Christmas indulgence, last night I fancied a simple soup dinner.

say hello to another fat free recipe from my kooky imagination

Boiled Red Cabbage and Carrots for Fat Free Red Cabbage, Carrot and Pea SoupThe original plan was to make a soup based solely around red cabbage, a vegetable I want to eat more of. However, I was cooking for two and could only manage to get a small head of the cabbage so decided to add carrots and peas, which are currently in season.

I have read somewhere that in order to retain its original colour, you should add vinegar or lemon juice when cooking red cabbage. I didn’t do this and so it turned blue as you can see in the photo on the right.

Since I wanted to avoid oil or butter, I decided to follow the sweating-the-onions-in-salt method I had adopted in my Fat Free Four ‘C’s Soup. This time round, the only difference was that I let the onions cook for longer till they turned brown.

The onions and peas provide a nice contrasting texture in each spoonful of this creamy soup. Surprisingly, it is very filling.

The following provides two hearty servings.


1 Head small red cabbage

250 Grams Carrots

1 Cup shelled peas

3 – 4 Onions

Vegetable or chicken stock cube

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salt to taste


  1. First, we need to prepare the onions. Peel, wash and finely slice them, add a teaspoon of salt, cover and set aside for 4-5 hours. By the end of this time, the salt and moisture from onions would have softened them a bit
  2. When you are ready to make the soup, wash and roughly cut the cabbage retaining the core.
  3. Wash and roughly chop the carrots.
  4. Put the cabbage and carrots in a pot along with two cups of water, stock cube and a pinch of salt.
  5. Bring to boil, cover, lower heat and let this simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Drain the vegetables retaining the liquor.
  7. Once the vegetables cool down, puree them in a blender or a food processor.
  8. Now, place the onions along with any moisture in a soup pot or equivalent.
  9. Cover and place this cookware on a very low heat and let the onions sweat in their own moisture.
  10. Let the onions cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. I used a non-stick soup pot so didn’t have to keep checking. Depending on the sort of base of your pot, you may have to keep stirring in between.
  11. Once the onions have browned a bit, wash and add the shelled peas and one cup of water.
  12. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  13. Open the lid and add the pureed vegetable and liquor. Check for thickness, add more water if necessary.
  14. Add freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.
  15. Stir, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
  16. Serve hot.

This is what my onions looked liked once they were cooked without any oil or butter.

Browning the Onions Without Oil for Fat Free Red Cabbage, Carrot and Pea Soup

Velvety Cauliflower Soup

Velvety Cauliflower Soup









No cooking Christmas dinner for me this year as I am spending it with my friend Meher and her family.

As I am not going to be in the kitchen over the next couple of days, I wanted to use up a cauliflower head, some tomatoes, peas and sweetcorn kernels lying around.

Making a soup of them seemed like a good idea given my alternate-day-soup-diet and the imminent indulgences.

So ideally, this soup should be called whatever’s- in-my-refrigerator soup!

English: cauliflower
English: cauliflower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Using cauliflower as the base, I think this recipe would work just as well with addition of some chopped carrots, french beans or mushrooms or even cooked chicken, bacon or fish. In other words, anything that needs to be used up can be thrown into the pot.

another creamy soup sans any cream

Paired with some crusty bread, this is a complete meal.


1 Head of cauliflower

2 Onions

1 Head of garlic

2 Tomatoes

2 Tablespoons peas

2 Tablespoons sweetcorn kernel

1 Beef stock cube*

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste


  1. First, we need to prepare the cauliflower base. Roughly chop and wash the cauliflower. Include the stalk, leafy stems and the white woody bits at the base (if tender and fresh).
  2. Now, place the cauliflower in a pot along with 2 cups of water, stock cube and a pinch of salt.
  3. Bring to boil, cover, lower the heat and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  4. When it is cooked, drain the cauliflower and reserve the liquid.
  5. Once cool, puree the cauliflower in a blender or food processor and add it to the reserved liquid.
  6. Wash and chop the onions.
  7. Peel and chop the garlic.
  8. Wash and dice the tomatoes.
  9. Wash the peas and sweetcorn kernels.
  10. Heat oil in a soup pot (or equivalent).
  11. Add the chopped onions and garlic and a pinch of salt and cook for a couple of minutes.
  12. Next, add the tomatoes, peas and sweetcorn kernels, cover and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.
  13. Add the pureed cauliflower and reserved liquid, stir well, cover and cook for further 10 minutes.
  14. Serve hot.


  1. I used beef stock which gave this soup a really nice depth. Beef and cauliflower seem compatible. You can use chicken or vegetable stock cube instead, if you prefer.


Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, The Asian Way

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, The Asian Way









This spaghetti almost didn’t get made since it was time for my dad to leave. Luckily, there was a change of plan and his stay got extended. On dad’s suggestion, I decided to replicate my signature spaghetti of olive oil, garlic and basil with currently-very-much-in-season fresh green garlic and coriander.

it is totally heavenly

I love the scent of fresh green garlic. It is more subtle and less pungent compared to the garlic we normally use. At the same time, it makes its presence felt in any dish you add it to.

Green garlic is a bit fiddly to clean and requires a lot of patience! But the end result is worth the effort you put in. If you can get your hands on some of this fresh vegetable, I would strongly urge you to try today’s recipe.

The following serves 2 persons.


250 Grams fresh green garlic

2 Packed cups fresh green coriander

2 Green chillies

200 Grams spaghetti or linguini

1/4 Cup good quality olive oil

Salt to taste

2-3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Firstly, clean the garlic. For this, you need to simply remove the hairy bits on the top of its head. Do this one garlic at a time. If the green stalk is fresh, retain it. Discard any yellow stalk.
  2. Next, chop the garlic and stalk, wash and keep aside.
  3. Clean and wash the coriander. If the stalk is tender, keep it.
  4. Wash and finely chop the green chillies.
  5. Place the olive oil, garlic, chillies and salt in a pot. Cover.
  6. Cook the spaghetti according to instructions given on the packet.
  7. When you put the spaghetti in boiling water and are timing it, get started on the sauce.
  8. Place the pot with oil, garlic and chillies, with the lid on, on a very low heat. The idea is to cook the garlic very gently. You don’t want to brown it or burn it. Keep an eye on it, stirring it occasionally.
  9. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and retain 1/4 cup water.
  10. Add the spaghetti, coriander and water to the oil and garlic.
  11. Mix it well, cover and let it cook for about 5 minutes.
  12. Transfer to spaghetti bowl, sprinkle some Parmesan and serve hot.


  1. I was out of spaghetti so used linguini instead. It worked just as well.
  2. You can use more olive oil and skip the water if you prefer.
  3. If you would like it spicy, add more green chillies.
  4. Don’t compromise on the quality of the olive oil you use in this recipe since it forms the base for the sauce.

This is what green garlic looks like as is and cleaned.

Green Garlic Waiting to be Cleaned  Green Garlic Cleaned








Doesn’t this Spaghetti Aglio e Olio look tempting?!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Fat Free Fennel & Ginger Scented Creamy Tomato Soup (Without Cream)

Fat Free Fennel and Ginger Scented Creamy Tomato Soup









the humble tomato soup gets a lift thanks to fennel seeds and ginger

As I progress with my alternate day soup regime, I fancied a warming, creamy tomato soup and was wondering what to use as an alternative to cream. That’s when I thought of adding some sweet corn kernels.

Additionally, I had some water chestnut lying around and so decided to make us of them as well.

The end result is a really nice, full-bodied (can a soup be described so?!), creamy tomato soup which is low in calorie and very satisfying. Fennel seeds and ginger provide the heady aromatic touch.

I had this soup with turnip croutons.

another kooky recipe from my kooky imagination for my kooky readers


250 Grams tomato

2 Tablespoons sweetcorn kernel

3 – 4 Water chestnuts (optional)*

2 Tablespoons fennel seeds

1 Tablespoon grated ginger

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Salt to taste


  1. Wash and chop the tomatoes.
  2. Wash the sweetcorn kernels.
  3. Peel, wash and chop the water chestnuts (if using).
  4. Put the tomatoes, sweet corn kernels, water chestnuts, fennel seeds, ginger and salt in a pot (pot number 1) along with 2 cups of water.
  5. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  6. Now take another big pot (pot number 2) and place a fine mesh strainer over it. Pour the contents of pot number 1 into the strainer. Retain the liquid collected in pot number 2.
  7. Once the vegetables cool down, puree them in a blender or a food processor.
  8. Add this puree to the liquid in pot number 2.
  9. Stir well, place on a low heat and gently simmer. If you find that it needs more water, you can add it at this stage.
  10. Taste for salt.
  11. Transfer to a soup bowl, sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper.
  12. Serve piping hot.


  1. Water chestnuts is optional. If you can’t get hold of them, you can add 6 – 8 cashews. Or you can skip the nuts altogether. The sweetcorn will still give the soup a nice body.

These are the water chestnuts I used. They remind me of oysters!

Water Chestnuts









This is the vegetable base.

Tomatoes, Sweetcorn Kernels, Water chestnuts and Grated Ginger for Fat Free Fennel and Ginger Scented Creamy Tomato Soup









Boiling the vegetables. Would look pretty on a dishcloth, no?!

Boiling the Vegetables for Fat Free Fennel and Ginger Scented Creamy Tomato Soup









Vegetables Cooked for Fat Free Fennel and Ginger Scented Creamy Tomato Soup

Vegetables Cooked for Fat Free Fennel and Ginger Scented Creamy Tomato Soup









Turnip Croutons

Turnip Croutons









Following on from my success with sweet potato croutons, my quest for healthy and delicious croutons continues.

say hello to turnip croutons

I have some turnips lying around so decided to replicate the experiment with this (in my case at least) under-used vegetable. The end result are some of the most delicious, meaty, discs which can be paired with any type of soup.

If you have some of this root vegetable calling for attention, try this quick recipe which can also be served as a a side dish.


2 Turnips

1 Tablespoon oil*

1 Teaspoon of seasoning of your choice*

Salt to taste


  1. Wash the turnips. Slice off the top and the bottom.
  2. Next, slice the turnips into discs of medium thickness. Depending on its size, you should get 3 to 4 discs out of each turnip.
  3. Pour the oil, salt and seasoning over the discs, cover and keep aside for a couple of hours.
  4. When you are ready to prepare the croutons, heat a wide base non-stick frying pan.
  5. Keeping the burner on high, add the turnip discs along with the marinade. Make sure that you place them in a single layer. If they overlap, they won’t form the necessary crust.
  6. After a couple for minutes, turn down the heat, flip them over and let them cook (uncovered) for about 7 to 8 minutes.
  7. Turn them once again and continue cooking for about 8 more minutes till the discs are cooked and form a crust.
  8. If serving with a soup, place them in a bowl and pour the hot soup over them.
  9. To eat, you can break them off with a spoon and enjoy along with the soup.


  1. I used olive oil. You can use whichever oil you prefer or depending on the type of soup you are having. For instance, for an oriental style soup, you may want to use sesame or peanut oil.
  2. Seasoning is personal preference. I used Schwartz Garlic Italian seasoning. You can use whatever you have on hand or even freshly ground peppercorn would do.
  3. As regular Kooky readers would know by now, I am not a peeler. Vegetable skins have a lot of nutrients and I don’t like to discard them. For today’s recipe, I didn’t see the need to peel the turnips but you can do so if you wish.

Turnip Croutons: Step 1 Marinate the Turnip

Turnip Croutons - Step 1 Marinate the Turnip









Turnip Croutons: Step 2 Sear the marinated Turnip Discs

Turnip Croutons - Step 2 Sear the Marinated Turnip Discs









Turnip Croutons: Step 3 Cook on Both Sides Till Done

Turnip Croutons - Step 3 Cook on Both Sides Till Done