Sometimes the simpler the food the more rewarding for your taste buds. Visions of many beautiful vegetarian tables with paneer, lentils, and pickles seem to stay with me. The memories range from restaurants to friends houses after school, to street side travel shacks and many more…..but they are always vivid and connect me to a rich past.
Growing up our family were big meat eaters…it would not be “food” without lamb or chicken 🙂 However, every now and then we would have a vegetarian day where Paneer would be the showcase.
When I first moved to the US, store bought paneer (cheese) was not an option so making the paneer at home was the only way. Don’t get me wrong, homemade cheese is the best but sometimes a working girl needs a premade handy version so dinner can be cooked at moments notice.
The local Asian stores now have the most amazing Paneer available so I keep a block in the fridge or freezer for quick dinner situations.
This is a curry, which as always is spicy, tangy, rich, gentle, soft and ever so delicious.
I have paired it with butter rice, lentils and pickles. Naan or roti would be perfect with the platter.
Cauliflower has become a staple in the house and is an ingredient in a variety of dishes spanning cuisines. I used riced cauliflower as a substitute for rice which has been a phenomenal adjustment of carbs in our diet.
When you combine cauliflower with a nice tomato curry you just can’t go wrong. My local Traders Joes store has made it even easier for me by selling already riced cauliflower which saves me a ton of time and the mess on my counter with grains of the vegetable flying around 🙂
This is really easy to make and just perfect for a cold winter day. Serve with some flatbread or rice with a side of pickles.
If you love cauliflower do check out my other recipes:
Fermented foods are just beautiful not only for the taste buds but also for your gut. Ancients culture have propagated fermented foods for preservation and taste through the centuries. The souring action if microbes that produced fermentation have been critical in our diets throughout the globe. Similar foods can be found in every culture, just called something different.
Indian “Achar” or “Kanji” are great examples and so is the fabulous “Kimchi” from Korea.
My personal story takes me back to the late 1970’s where as a young girl spending lazy winters vacation in Lucknow, India I would watch my grandfather ferment and pickle various vegetables in earthenware and produce the probiotic liquid called “Kanji” in India. It was delicious, tart and healthy and the joy of helping my grandfather while he worked on these beautiful foods is a memory that is permanent ink in my soul.
True to foods that nourish your soul and help you remember your history, in this series I am sharing different fermented food s I am experimenting with.
This fermented beet pickle and tonic fascinates and mesmerizes with its deep violet color and tangy taste. There many health benefits of both the beets and these are just amplified through fermenting.
“Kanji” is usually a pungent combination of water, mustard seeds, beetroot and carrots and is full of digestion-boosting friendly bacteria and enzymes. I have only used beets here so the color is quite intense. Beets are high is sugar but the fermentation breaks the sugars down and makes this drink a healthy tonic. Very similar to Kvass which is an eastern European fermented beverage commonly made with rye bread.
This medley of rice and vegetables is inspired by the Kashmiri Pulao that uses morel mushrooms. I did not have the wild expensive mushrooms so used the dried shiitake I hand in my pantry. Soaked in warm water for about 20 mins brings out the earthiness and the umami flavors. Don’t discard the golden liquid from the mushrooms, it adds immense flavor.
I also used cauliflower in this recipe…cut in florets and pan fried with a touch of sea salt.
The basic Kashmiri pulao recipes packs a punch with whole spices…I have used cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, whole pepper, dried ginger and bay leaves.
Saffron is my favorite and it had been used blooming in warm water.
I have also added soaked almond, walnuts and raisins…feel free to experiment.
Once again I am honored to be c0-hosting and feasting with such amazing and talented virtual friends at Fiesta Friday. Our host Angie has done such a wonderful job providing us with this forum and inviting us to a global table. I am also honored to be co-hosting alongside Jhuls and am a big fan :), do check out her blog if you have not already.
These are delightful winter beauties… you fall in love when you go to the winter remains of the farmers market with the variety of pumpkins and squashes. I am not much for decorating with them so just want to find the ones that are delicious to cook
Sweet Dumpling Squash – the sweetest of them all! This has a whiteish skin with green stripes. The sweet, tender orange flesh makes this absolutely delicious to feed your soul.
I baked the squash in the oven, cutting around the stem of the sweet dumplings and removing the top. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, and then baking until tender.
Stuffing this squash takes it to another level. I have used mushrooms and farro as the key ingredient and flavored it with Ras el hanout spice blend, thyme, garlic and cilantro. Farro s a type of ancient wheat grain that is found in many Mediterranean, Ethiopian or Middle Eastern cuisines.
While the squash roast you can prepare the filling which is sautéed mushrooms with garlic and thyme. I added the cooked farro with a generous topping of cilantro, mint and lemon juice.
The icing on the cake is the creamy poached egg on top.
Sweet dumpling squash with Ras El Hanout and Farro
The simplest soups are sometimes the best…warm, tangy and so good for the soul. This soup is simple and this soup is good and this soup is nourishing.
It was ready is just 20 mins and made this chilly winter day just a little bright. The fridge was left with a depleting stock but I found the vibrant celery sticks and fresh carrots which inspired pulling this off. I had made some fresh lemongrass paste and had dried kafir lime leaves on hand so looked like a perfect day for soup.
The color in the soup is obtained from fresh turmeric that I minced with the garlic and ginger. It adds an earthiness but if you don’t have it on hand then don’t fret….equally delicious with out it.
For the home made recipe of lemongrass paste check it out on my blog here.
The vegetarian version of this soup uses a vegetarian broth, I bought an organic low sodium version but homemade would be great. If you are not a vegetarian then do use a good bone broth or beef broth that will bring intensity to the soup.