Stir Fried Garlic Tofu Noodles

Some of my favorite weeknight dinners are simple stir fried dishes. This version came about simply with ingredients I had in my fridge, combined with my love for singapore noodles. With garlic, ginger and turmeric as base flavors, this stir fried noodle is a great way to incorporate tofu into your meals.

8 oz rice noodles (approx.220 grams)
1 large red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
2″ piece ginger, peeled
5 cloves garlic, peeled
5 indian green chillies (makes this dish spicy. substitute with 1 serrano to make it mild or feel free to leave out chillies all together)
3/4 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
4 cups fresh baby spinach, washed
2 cups sweet corn (I used frozen, can be substituted with fresh)
14 oz extra firm tofu  (you could also used super firm tofu)
handful of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp canola oil

Cube the fresh tofu into 1″ pieces and place between dry towels and gently squeeze any excess moisture out. Make sure you don’t break the pieces.

In a pan heat one tbsp canola oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tofu to the hot oil. Make sure you stand away and drop the pieces in gently, facing away from your body. There will be some spluttering. Let cook for 3 minutes. Gently move the tofu around and get an even light brown on them. Remove the tofu onto a paper towel using a slotted spoon and let them rest.


Add the remaining tbsp of oil to the leftover oil in the pan and heat over medium heat. Finely chop ginger, garlic and chillies together. Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric powders to the oil and fry for 20 seconds and then add the chopped garlic, ginger and chillies. Fry over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Add thinly sliced red onions and sautee for 7-8 minutes until the onions are cooked and start slightly browning. Add 4 cups of spinach along with a tsp of salt. Mix well and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. The spinach will wilt and give out a bit of water which should help you scrap any spices in the bottom of the pan and create a unified aromatic base for our noodles.

Add the frozen corn with the remaining tsp of salt, mix well and cook covered for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Uncover, increase the heat and cook another 5 minutes. Add the pre-sauteed tofu to the corn mixture and toss together gently. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes which will allow the tofu to soak in all the flavors of the vegetables and spices. Add almost all of the chopped cilantro with a little saved to add just before serving and turn of the heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add a few drops of oil to the water and then drop the rice noodles in it. The oil will keep the noodles from sticking to each other when cooked and drained. Cook the noodles according to your package instructions. Mine took just about 3 minutes. Drain the noodles, let sit for a minute to make sure all the water is drained.

Add the noodles to the vegetable-tofu mixture and toss together gently. Use tongs to separate the noodles and mix well to make sure all the spices, vegetables and color mix evenly.

Sprinkle the reserved fresh cilantro on top and serve warm.

Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Green Lentil Soup

This is a soup recipe adapted from BHG. The original recipe called for pumpkin, red lentils and chickpeas, but with sweet potatoes, green lentils (french puy lentils) and chickpeas in my pantry, I decided to improvise. The sweet potatoes and green lentils turned out to be a great substitute for the pumpkin and red lentils.

I also had sage in stock. Since I am a sucker for sage with sweet potatoes, I decided to fry the sage in butter first and then start the soup with the sage infused butter. The crispy butter fried sage also makes a great garnish.

I was quite pleased that I could make enough and share with friends at work. It turned out to be a great lunch perfect for that rainy day!

4 medium sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cubed
1 32 oz can chickpeas
3 cups green lentils, dried ( I prefer using dried and cooking it in stock, rather than using pre cooked lentils)
1″ piece ginger, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 large tomatoes, chopped
6-8 fresh sage leaves
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 dried bay leaf (optional)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
3/4 tsp cumin powder
4 tbsp butter
12 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp salt ( split into four 1/2 tsp quantities to be added in layers)
juice from 1 lemon

Melt butter over medium heat until it turns golden brown. Add sage leaves which will start becoming crispy after some spluttering. Remove sage and set aside.

In the sage infused butter left behind in the pan, add garlic, ginger and onions. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onions are cooked translucent.

Add chopped carrots, 1/2 tsp salt and sauté for 5 minutes until the carrots just start getting tender. Add cubed sweet potatoes, chickpeas, 1 tsp salt, turmeric, cumin and coriander powders. Cook for 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes just start cooking.

Add chopped tomatoes, remaining 1/2 tsp salt and the sage leaves. Cook for 2 minutes and add the lentils, bay leaf and measured vegetable stock. Cover and let cook over medium heat for 40-45 minutes.


Uncover and check for doneness. The lentils should be perfectly tender (but not mushy), the sweet potato, chickpeas and carrots should also be tender yet hold their shape but will melt in your mouth into an explosion of flavors. Add chopped cilantro and lemon juice, turn off the heat and serve hot with any fresh baked bread of your choice.

I served the soup with pumpernickel bread and loved the combination of the smoky earthy soup with the deep and intense pumpernickel bread. The combination was perfect.

Coconut Chayote Squash Masala

This kind of Squash, a prominent vegetable in Indian cooking, is known as Chayote squash in markets in the US. The local name we know and call it by is Chow Chow, which certainly sounds more fun! It is typically used to many varieties of stews. It is a juicy/watery vegetable with a light and delicate flavor.

This variation makes it an easy weeknight meal and an ideal side dish for Indian breads or a steaming bowl of basmati rice. Personally, the garlic-ginger-coconut combination makes it divine!

4 chayote squash, washed and peeled
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large potato, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1″ piece ginger, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 serrano peppers, finely chopped
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/3 cup freshly grated coconut
3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp salt

Heat a non stick pan over medium heat. Add the chopped serrano, ginger and garlic. Stir for a 30 seconds and make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes until they turn translucent. Add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes until the tomatoes soften.

Add cumin, coriander and turmeric powders. Sauté for 6-7 minutes minutes until the strong spices mellow down slightly and get incorporated well with the veggies. Add the chopped potatoes, squash, salt and mix well together. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Check a couple of times in between and stir the veggies to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom. If they do, then sprinkle a little water and lower the heat.

Uncover and make sure the squash and potatoes are cooked well. Insert a small knife into the center of veggie and make sure they are cooked through. They should to still hold their shape but also be tender.

Sprinkle the coconut and cilantro and cook uncovered for another 6-7 minutes which helps blending all the flavors together. It is best served hot like most other Indian curries.

Spicy Beetroot and Peas Curry

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3 medium beets, washed, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen green peas,thawed to room temperature
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry till golden brown. Add onions and turmeric powder.

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Sauté until onions are golden. Add the peas, diced beets, coriander powder and salt. Stir well and cook covered for 10 minutes until the beets are softened. Uncover, add red chilli powder, and garam masala. Mix well together and let cook over medium heat for 12-15 minutes stirring every 4-5 minutes. Once the curry is well incorporated together, sprinkle cilatntro on top and serve hot with chapathi’s or basmati rice.

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Fried Tomato and Onion Rice

I call this the South Indian risotto. It has the same comfort and warmth to it. On a cold day, this is one of my favorite things that I look forward to.

 

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1 cup basmati rice (I used brown basmati rice)
2 tbsps butter
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
8 indian green chillies, split into two lengthwise
1″ piece ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large onions, diced
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the cup of rice, cover and let simmer over medium heat for 35-40 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Remove from heat and let cool.

If using white basmati rice, follow the same procedure, just use 1 1/2 cups water per cup of rice and simmer for 20-22 minutes to cook completely.

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Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. As soon as they start spluttering add garlic, ginger and green chillies.Fry for a minute, add the onions and turmeric powder.

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When the onions start turning golden brown, add the tomatoes, salt and coriander powder. Mix well, cover and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Uncover, add the cilantro and stir together.

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At this stage, this makes a great side dish on its own, served with chapathi or naan.

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Add this tomato-onion mixture to the cooked rice, mix well together and serve warm.

Chickpeas and Methi leaf Curry

Methi(aka Fenugreek) Leaves and Seeds are common ingredients in Indian cooking. They have a slightly bitter but intensely nutty and savory flavor. Added to any gravy or vegetable curries, it adds a great depth. Herb combination of Methi leaves and Cilantro is just a great flavor treat!

Using chickpeas or potatoes with methi leaves is most common. Here is a version of methi leaves with chickpeas in a tomato/onion masala.

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1 32 oz can Chickpeas
1 cup Methi leaves (aka Fenugreek leaves) cleaned & washed
5 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1/3 cup cilantro

To make into a paste:
1 stick Cinnamon
4 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
8 Indian green chillis (use 4-5 for a milder version)
1 ” Ginger piece
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
1 large tomato
1 medium onion
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup water

Add all of the above paste ingredients to a blender. Add the cup of water and blend everything together to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

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Prepare the methi leaves: pluck the leaves from the stem and discard the stems. Put all the leaves in a bowl and fill it with cold water. Let it sit for 5 minutes, all the dirt and grit will sink to the bottom. Gently pick the leaves out the water, pat dry with a paper towel and rough chop the leaves and set aside.

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In a pan heat 5 tbsps canola oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan off the heat and pour the blended spice mixture into the pan stirring the mixture and the oil together. If you pour the mixture into the oil while still on heat there will be a lot of splattering. Put the pan back into medium heat, sprinkle 1 tsp of salt and cook this masala for 15-20 minutes stirring ever 5 minutes. The raw flavor and smell of the spices will mellow down as it simmers. Your kitchen will smell insanely good by now!

Add remaining salt, garam masala powder and the chopped methi leaves. Mix throughly. Let this cook for another 2-3 minutes.

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Add the chickpeas and cilantro making sure the chick peas is really coated well in the masala. Cook for another 7-8 minutes, remove from heat and serve hot. I served it over a bed of hot basmati rice and with Chapatis. Naan would be great too!

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This curry tastes even better the next day when the chickpeas has completely soaked into the masala sitting in it all day! In fact I always make this dish in the morning and serve it for dinner. The flavors intensify and marry better the longer it sits.

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This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once. Here are the rules if you want to participate and  here’s Who’s Hosting Weekend Herb Blogging if you’d like to join the weekly celebration of cooking with fresh herbs.

Urad-Onion-Methi Vadai

Vadai is a common south Indian appetizer/snack dish. You could classify it as a flour-based dumpling or a fritter( sorta!). The main ingredients in this dish are Urad dal and fresh methi leaves.

Urad Dal is also known as black gram dal and available commonly in any Indian store near you. Methi leaves(aka fenugreek leaves) although less common is available in some Indian stores as well. You could also use dried methi as a substitute. Like any other dried herb, the dired version is much more stong in flavor than the fresh leaves. Here is what they both look like :

1 1/2 cups of urad dal, washed and soaked in lukewarm water for an hour
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 indian green chillies, finely chopped ( I always include the seeds, you can remove them
1/2 cup of methi(aka fenugreek leaves), washed and roughly chopped (if you can’t find fresh leaves use 1 tbsp dried methi)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
oil for shallow frying
Make sure the urad dal is washed well atleast a couple of times before it is soaked. Add the soaked urad dal to a blender and with as little water as possible grind this into a thick batter. If you add too much water the vadai will be extra oily, or it will be so liquidy that you cannot drop it into oil. You must not be using more than 2 or 3 tablespoons of water. The final batter should look something like this-
Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Add in the onions, chillies, methi leaves, cilantro, salt, baking powder, turmeric, asafoetida and coriander powder to this. Mix well and this is your batter for frying.
In a frying pan, add about an inch thick layer of oil and heat for 5 minutes on medium heat. Use a tablespoon to measure the batter and drop into the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan.
Fry on all sides and drain them on paper towels. Serve hot with mint chutney, tomato chutney or onion chutney.
I am entering this dish into the EFM-Savories event hosted by SrishKitchen.
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