Tag Archives: onion

Couscous with Aubergine Stew

Couscous with Aubergine Stew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t you just find it frustrating when you start your day early (like 5.00 in my case this morning) and you are through with your morning ritual and at your desk by 6.00 am thinking smugly to yourself, “oh look at me, I am so good, I am going to start my work day early today” only to find that there is some problem with the internet connection. I know, I know – I should learn to live without the internet, the internet is not the be all and end all, that I should go get a life. But internet is critical for my work and so whenever it goes down, specially first thing in the morning when I get to my desk as happened today, I find it freakin’ frustrating!

Fortunately, there is nothing frustrating about cooking couscous. Each time I cook this easygoing grain, I wonder why I don’t do so more frequetly. It is hassle free in that you can prep it in a matter of minutes even after the sauce or the stew accompanying it is made.

if couscous was a musician and not a grain, it would probably warble I’m easy

Ass Kicking Chillies for Couscous with Aubergine stewFor today’s couscous recipe, I made an aubergine stew with peppers and onions enveloped in my totally kooky sauce. Having never cooked with tahini before (only used it for dressing or in hummus), I wanted to experiment with it during the actual cooking process. Match that with my recently discovered love for tomato ketchup and some hot chillies and you get one creamy yet fiery sauce which totally works with the meek and mild couscous. Toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds provide the lovely – and much desired – nutty and crunchy texture to finish off the dish.

There are plenty of different varieties of aubergine out there. I used the long and slim purple ones. As for the chillies, my greengrocer has got some red chillies which he sold to me a couple of days back. They look harmless (I am told that the big, fat ones are usually mild compared to the skinny ones which are supposed to be wild) but these beauties know how to kick ass!

If you don’t have couscous, you can try the stew with plain rice.

Ingredients

1 Cup dry couscous

150 Grams aubergine

1 Green Pepper

2-3 Hot chillies (adjust quantity according to personal preference)

1 Tomato

2 Onions

1 Tablespoon tahini

1 Tablespoon tomato ketchup

A generous pinch of smoked paprika (optional)

1 Teaspoon sumac* (optional)

8-10 pitted black olives

1 Tablespoon mixture of sunflower and pumpkin seeds

1 Tablespoon dukka* (optional)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Peel, wash and finely chop the onion.
  2. Wash and slice the chillies.
  3. Wash and finely dice the tomato.
  4. Wash and finely chop the green pepper.
  5. Split the olives into two. If you have the unpitted variety, remove the stone.
  6. In a bowl, combine the tahini, tomato ketchup, black olives, paprika (if using) and sumac (if using). Add about half a cup of water and mix well. Set aside this sauce mix.
  7. Heat a frying pan and once it becomes hot, toast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds for a couple of minutes till they turn a light shade of brown. Be careful not to burn them.
  8. Once the seeds are nicely toasted, remove them to a plate.
  9. Return the frying pan to heat and pour the oil.
  10. Once the oil beomes hot, add the chopped onions, tomato, green pepper, chillies and salt to taste. Mix well, cover, lower the heat and let the vegetables cook for 10 minutes.
  11. While the onion mixture is cooking, wash and chop the aubergine.
  12. After 10 minutes, uncover and add the aubergine along with the sauce mix. Stir everything together, add some more water if you think it is needed, cover and let the stew cook for 10 minutes after which time take the pan off the heat.
  13. While the stew is resting, cook couscous according to instructions on the packet.
  14. Plate the cooked couscous with stew over it.
  15. Sprinkle with toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds and dukka (if using).

Note:

  1. Dukka is a versatile Jordanian spice mixture made with roasted sesame, wheat and coriander. It can be used as a seasoning, as a marinade or even in dips.
  2. Instead of sumac, you can use a teaspoon of cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. I wouldn’t recomment lemon or lime juice for this recipe as it would become too sour. You want just a wee hint of tartness.
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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.

Ingredients

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

Method

  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

Fat Free Four ‘C’s Soup

Fat Free Four 'C's Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly, some good news for my kooky readers. Since embarking on the alternate-day-soup regime inspired by my friend Fatima’s soup recipe 12 days back, I have lost 1.5 kgs (3.3 lbs).

Before that, I had hit a frustrating weight loss plateau and was finding it really difficult to lose those last few kilos. So, imagine my pleasant surprise when the weighing scale started moving in the right direction once again!

The best part is that I am really enjoying experimenting with different soup recipes and actually look forward to my soup dinners. I never imagined that they could be so much fun. Soups and broths are my new best friends and likely to become long term companions.

If you are looking to shift a few pounds, you may like to join me in my alternate day soup diet. Now may not be the right time with all the festive partying (although I am doing it in reverse order, lose weight now in anticipation of Christmas and New Year indulgences). But maybe after the New Year, once the celebrations are over?! (Note: I am not a doctor; always seek advice from a medical professional before attempting to lose weight.)

Coming to today’s recipe, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Carrots and Chickpeas form the team of four ‘C’s to provide a totally yummylicious soupy experience.

don’t go by looks – what this soup lacks in appearance, it more than makes up in terms of  taste and full bodied flavour

This cauliflower, cabbage, carrot and chickpea soup (what a mouthful!) does require a bit of preparation beforehand in terms of soaking the chickpeas and “moisturising” the onions. I wanted to add onions for texture and flavour but didn’t want to use any oil so I used salt to moisturise them for a few hours and let them sweat in their own juices. Was pleasantly surprised to see how meltingly soft they turned.

Allspice powder provides the hint of spice and fragrance needed to combat the smell of onions, cabbage and cauliflower.

Ingredients

2-3 Tablespoons dry chickpeas*

2 Cups water

2 Onions

Half head of small cabbage

1 small cauliflower

2 Carrots

A generous pinch of powdered allspice*

One vegetable stock cube

Freshly pounded blackpepper

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash and soak chickpeas about 8 to 10 hours before you want to make the soup.*
  2. Wash and slice the onions. Add some salt, mix, cover and set aside for 3 to 4 hours before you want to make the soup.
  3. Boil the cabbage and cauliflower, puree and set aside. If you have any water remaining after boiling the vegetables, keep it.
  4. When you are ready to make the soup, transfer the onions and any moisture clinging to them into a soup pot (or equivalent).
  5. Now, place the pot on a burner and turn on the heat to low.
  6. Cover and let the onions cook in their own juices for about 10 minutes till they become soft.
  7. While the onions are cooking, wash and coarsely grate the carrots.
  8. Uncover the soup pot and add water (or water from boiled cabbage and cauliflower) along with the chickpeas, stock cube, allspice powder and pounded peppercorns. Turn the heat to high.
  9. Once the water starts boiling, add the grated carrots, cover and let this simmer for about 45 minutes till the chickpeas are cooked.
  10. Lastly, add the pureed cauliflower and cabbage. Check for salt and water and add more if either seem insufficient.
  11. Bring to boil and let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes.
  12. Serve hot.

Note:

  1. You can use canned chickpea if you prefer in which case reduce the cooking time from 45 minutes to about 10 minutes. However, if you have time, I would strongly recommend that you go down the soaking and boiling route. Chickpeas cooked in vegetable stock and allspice are more flavoursome.
  2. If, like me, you forget to soak the chickpeas 8 hours before hand, use this time saving method to speed up the soaking process (it’s what I did this time).
  3. If you don’t have allspice powder, no problem. Use some grated nutmeg and cinnamon powder instead.

Here’s step-by-step pictorial of how I cooked this cauliflower, cabbage, carrot and chickpea soup.

Step 1: Onions moisturised with salt

Fat Free Four 'C's Soup - Step 1 Onions moisturised

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Onions sweating in own moisture over stove on low heat

Fat Free Four 'C's Soup - Step 2 Onions sweating in own moisture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Add chickpeas and water along with stock cube, allspice powder and pounded peppercorns

Fat Free Four 'C's Soup - Step 3 Add chickpeas and water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Add carrots

Fat Free Four 'C's Soup - Step 4 Add carrots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5: Let chickpeas cook

Fat Free Four 'C's Soup - Step 5 Let chickpeas cook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6: Add pureed cabbage and cauliflower

Fat Free Four 'C's Soup - Step 6 Add cabbage cauliflower puree

Fat Free Pearl Barley Soup

Pearl Barley Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run up to the festive season, my adventure with soup has begun! For last night’s dinner, I wanted to create a soup using one of the many grains I have in my kitchen cupboard.

enter the delightful pearl barley

English: Pearl barley (Hordeum vulgare) Deutsc...
English: Pearl barley (Hordeum vulgare) Deutsch: Graupen Nederlands: Gort (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a very useful and interesting link to the different types of barley out there. In terms if nutrition value, pearl barley falls below hulled barley since it is stripped of the outer bran layer. Having said that, it is still more nutritious compared to white or brown rice.

I like the chewy texture of pearly barley. Add it to soup and you have a delightfully delicious, complete meal.

The soup I made was fat free but you can use a tablespoon of oil to fry the onions if you like.

Ingredients

3-4 Tablespoons pearl barley

150 Grams pumpkin

2 Tomatoes

One whole head of garlic

2 Onions

A generous pinch of allspice powder

Salt to taste

Method

  1. First, we need to cook the pumpkin and the tomatoes.
  2. Wash and dice both, add a pinch of salt and a cup of water and boil them in a saucepan or a pressure cooker.
  3. While they are cooking, peel and chop the onions and garlic.
  4. Once the pumpkin and tomatoes are cooked, strain the liquid (stock) and keep aside.
  5. Make a puree of the cooked pumpkin and tomatoes.
  6. Heat a soup pot (or equivalent).
  7. Once it is hot, lower the flame and add the chopped onions and garlic along with salt to taste.
  8. Stir it around for a couple of minutes.
  9. Now, add the pearl barley, reserved stock, 2-3 cups of water and bring to boil.
  10. Lower the heat, cover and let this cook for about 20 minutes.
  11. After this, add the pureed pumpkin and tomatoes and the powdered allspice mix. Ad this stage, if you feel that it needs more water, add some.
  12. Stir well, cover and cook for further 20 minutes.
  13. Once the soup is cooked, let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Note:

  1. Pumpkin skin is edible and nutritious so I don’t peel it. But you can do so if you like.
  2. You can substitute pumpkin with courgette.
  3. Sweat the onions in oil first if you prefer.

Mixed Cereal and Cauliflower Paniyaram/Mixed Cereal and Cauliflower Aebleskiver

Cooked Paniyaram

Paniyaram is a type of dumpling popular in South India. It is usually made with idli or dosa batter of lentils and rice and can be made savoury or sweet.

Paniyaram is made in a special paniyaram pan with holes in which the batter is poured.

Paniyaram Cooking

Interestingly, the Danes also have a similar dish called aebleskiver, a type of sweet pancake made in a special pan with round dents.

English: This is the top side of my Griswold A...
English: This is the top side of my Griswold Aebleskiver pan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These cute dumplings are a recent discovery of mine after I was given a paniyaram pan by my beloved members on our annual meetup in scenic Kerala. I have had lots of fun experimenting with conventional and unconventional recipes.

most of my recipes have been savoury although I did try the sweet Danish version by adapting this recipe

In this post, I want to share with you one of my more unconventional paniyaram recipes. You can also think of them as savoury aebleskiver!

Ingredients

1 cup mixed cereal of your choice (I used a combination of black eyed beans, chickpeas, black bengal gram/desi chana, fenugreek, whole wheat, brown rice and pearl millet/bajra)

Image

2-3 tablespoons chickpea flour and/or rice flour and/or semolina (optional but I find that it gives some texture)

Half head of cauliflower

2 tomatoes

2 onions

A spoonful of minced ginger and green chillies (or according to taste)

1 teaspoon turmeric

Salt to taste

1 tablspoon oil

Method

  1. Soak the mixed cereal for 10-12 hours.
  2. Grind the cereal with water very finely, making sure it is of pouring consistency.
  3. Leave the batter to ferment in a warm place for 8-10 hours. (If you want to skip this step, please see Tips below.)
  4. Finely chop the cauliflower, tomatoes and onions. Holes in the paniyaram pan are small so you want to make sure that the vegetables are very finely chopped. If you have a manual or an electric chopper, you can use that instead of a knife.
  5. When ready to cook, put the paniyaram pan on high heat.
  6. Mix the batter with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Reduce the heat to minimum and pour the batter in the holes using a spoon.
  8. Add a drop of oil on each paniyaram.
  9. Cover and cook on minimum heat for 10 minutes.
  10. Flip over, leave it open and cook for further 10 minutes.
  11. Once cooked, they will come out loosely from the holes. Serve with some hot sauce like the extra hot Tobasco.

Tip:

  1. If you don’t have time or the right climate to ferment the batter, use it as is. Just add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda (Eno).
  2. Fenugreek seeds are optional. I add them since, apart from being good for health, they aid the fermentation process.
  3. Please don’t use kidney beans as part of your mixed cereal combination since they contain a toxic agent called lectin. As a result, they have to be cooked before being used in any recipe.
  4. Even if you don’t have paniyaram pan, you can try out this recipe. Simply make pancakes instead

paniyaram batter is very forgiving; if it is too thin or insufficient you can add semolina or any other flour like ragi flour

in case you have left over batter, refrigerate it and use it the next day to make more paniyarams or dosa like pancakes