Aloo Methi (Potato With Fenugreek Leaves)

Ingredients

2 tsp canola or vegetable oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

1/4 tsp + 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 to 5 green chillies, diced (according to your heat preference)

3 to 4 large potatoes, 1-inch dice

1/3 cup fenugreek leaves (methi, vendhiya keerai), chopped*

Salt to taste

Directions

1.  Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan.  Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds.  When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the green chillies, 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder.  Saute for a few seconds.

2.  Add the potato, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp salt and stir to combine.  Add 1/4 cup water.  Reduce heat.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just cooked through.  Add water as needed to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan.

3.  When the potatoes are cooked, stir in the chopped fenugreek leaves.  Add salt if needed.  Heat on low for a few minutes, until the methi has been warmed.  Serve warm as a side dish.

*Note: If you cannot find fresh fenugreek leaves, many Indian grocery stores stock frozen, chopped fenugreek leaves.  Some of them even come in frozen cubes.  I used 2 cubes for this dish.

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Mixed Vegetable Curry… Or What To Do With Lonely Vegetables

Ever look in your pantry or refrigerator and see those random vegetables?  You know, the extra ones you bought just in case your recipe didn’t work out, or the ones you bought for the recipe you never tried but you used the other necessary ingredients so you can’t make it anyway?  Well, here’s a simple recipe to use up those lonely veggies.  You can use pretty much any vegetables for this.  Just be sure to pay attention to cook times so that some veggies don’t end up uncooked while others turn to mush.  Oh, and serve this with rice or any Indian bread.  Heck, have it with toast.  Still tastes good.

Ingredients

1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 to 3 tsp red chilli powder, depending on how spicy you like it

2 to 4 green chillies, chopped, depending on how spicy you like it

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated

1 medium onion, chopped

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch x 1 1/2 inch pieces

2 carrots, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch x 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped in 1/2 inch x 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped in 1/2 inch x 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 tsp salt

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions

1.  Heat the oil in a large pan.  Add the cumin seeds and saute until just starting to brown.  Add the red chilli powder, saute for a few seconds, and then add the green chillies, garlic and ginger.  Try not to breathe the cooking fumes as the spice level will irritate your respiratory system.  Saute for a few more seconds and add the onions.  Saute until onions turn translucent.

2.  Add the carrots and potatoes and mix well.  Saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the bell peppers and saute a few more minutes.

3.  Add water to the pan, until the vegetables are just covered.  Add the salt and mix well.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and continue cooking for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are just tender.  Add water if needed.  By the time the vegetables are cooked, the liquid will reduce to nice gravy thickened by the starch from the potatoes.  (If your gravy is too watery, you can mix in a thin paste made of 1 tbsp rice flour and a 1/4 cup of water and cook for a few extra minutes.)

4.  Mix in the peas and continue to cook for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with rice or bread.

Savory Vegetable Tart Redux

Last weekend, I wanted to try my savory vegetable tart recipe in a Springform pan, as I had seen on a few websites.  The pastry recipe was exactly the same.  As for the filling, I used one less egg, omitted the fennel, and omitted the goat cheese for this version (having both goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes made for a saltier tart than I prefer).  It worked out great, although I would probably reduce the quantity of pastry dough on the sides of the tart as it was a little thick and made a serving rather heavy.  This version also required a bit more time in the oven.

Simple and Healthy Spanish Tortilla

Or maybe it’s a frittata.  I’m not really sure.  After perusing several websites, I’m even more confused.  Could be a difference in ingredients, could be a difference in how the eggs are combined with the other ingredients, could be a difference in whether they are finished by flipping them in the pan or under a broiler.  Don’t know, don’t care.  Here’s my easy and healthy version which uses less oil than the more traditional recipes.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

3 small onions,halved and thinly sliced

3 medium potatoes, 3/4 inch dice

8 eggs, beaten

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Place potatoes in a large microwave-safe bowl and add water until just covered.  Microwave for 6 minutes.  Mix gently and continue cooking in a microwave oven for another 3 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender.  Drain and set aside.

2.  While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large, oven-safe skillet.  Saute the onions until they are tender (I like to keep mine going until they are just starting to brown around the edges).  Add the cooked potatoes, salt and pepper and combine.  Shake the pan to distribute the fillings evenly.

3.  Pour the eggs over the fillings in the skillet, and tilt the skillet to make sure the eggs are distributed throughout the skillet.  Cook on medium heat until the eggs are set around the edges and still a little fluid in the center.

4.  Remove the skillet from the stovetop and place under a broiler.  Broil until the top of the tortilla is fluffy and just starting to brown.  Remove from broiler and set aside to cool.

5.  Cut into wedges (for meals) or bite-sized pieces (for buffets/appetizers).  Serve with soup or salad on the side for a complete meal.

Savory Vegetable Tart

Ingredients & Directions

For the tart shell (can be prepared up to a day before and refrigerated):

3 cups all-purpose flour

15 tbsp unsalted butter (1 and 7/8 sticks), room temperature

6 tbsp ice water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, butter, salt and sugar, using your fingers, until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.  (Alternatively, pulse ingredients together in a food processor until it resembles coarse bread crumbs).

2.  Slowly add the ice water, adding just enough to allow the dough to combine.  Shape the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (and up to 24 hours).

3.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Remove the dough from the fridge and separate into two pieces, one using about 2/3 of the dough and the other the remaining 1/3 of the dough.  Roll out the larger piece of dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.  The dough should be about a quarter of a inch thick or slightly less.  Place over a 9-inch tart or pie pan (I prefer the pie pan as it is deeper) and shape to the pan.  Cut the excess dough from around the edges, leaving about 1/2 an inch.  Turn the overhang inwards and crimp the edges.  Repeat with the remainder of the dough, using a smaller tart or pie pan, or mini tart pans.  (I had enough dough for four mini tart pans.)

4.  Cover with foil or parchment paper, using pie weights or dried beans to hold the foil/paper down and keep the center of the dough from puffing up too much.  Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bottom of the dough is lightly baked through.  Remove the pie weights and foil/paper.  Continue baking for another 15 to 25 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden brown.  Keep an eye on the mini tart pans, if you use them, as the crust will bake faster and may brown too much.  When done, remove from oven and set aside to cool.  Can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before assembling the tart.

 

For the filling (all but the egg mixture can be prepared up to a day before):

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into quarters lengthwise

1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into quarters lengthwise

2 small onions, thinly sliced

1 bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced

2 red potatoes, washed well and cut into a 3/4 inch dice (does not need to be peeled)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 eggs

3 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)

1 tsp dried red chilli flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Spread the seeded and quartered bell pepper slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.  Heat under a broiler until the skin is blistered and charred and the peppers are mostly cooked through (15 to 20 minutes).  Remove from the oven.  Place the bell pepper pieces in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  After about 15 minutes, remove the plastic wrap.  The steam created in the bowl should have softened the skins.  Peel and discard the skins, chop the peppers into 1/2 inch x 1 inch strips and set aside.

2.  Saute the onions, fennel, 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in olive oil, until the fennel is just softened and the onion begins to caramelize.  Remove from heat and set aside.

3.  Place the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl, along with a 1/2 cup of water.  Microwave on high until the potatoes are just tender.  Drain the water and set aside.

4.  Prepare the egg filling just before you are ready to assemble the tart.  Beat together the 4 eggs and 1 cup of ricotta cheese, along with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, red chilli flakes and 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme.

 

To put it all together:

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Layer the onion/fennel mixture, bell peppers and potatoes in the tart shell(s).  Make sure you pour out any excess water.  Sprinkle the feta cheese on top.  Pour the egg/ricotta mixture evenly over the vegetables and feta.  Sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoes on top.

2.  Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, until the egg/ricotta filling has set and the crust is golden brown.  If the crust browns faster than the egg sets, simply crimp some aluminum foil over the crust to protect it from the heat while the egg cooks.

3.  Allow to set at room temp for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.