Spicy Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

This recipe has become one of our family favourites – even if you don’t like cauliflower, you will love this dish. It’s really easy to make and tastes incredible. And it’s vegan!

To cut the steaks, wash the cauliflower and cut off the stems as much as possible. Cut off the florets at the end. Cut the vegetable into one inch pieces. You will have about two steaks from each cauliflower. Look for ones that are firm and have the florets firmly packed together.

All the gaps in between the florets and the stems have to be filled with the spice paste. You also need to turn the steak and rub the paste into the florets and the stems. The important thing is to use as little water as possible while grinding the paste. I also pan fried them gently for a few minutes in a frying pan at the end.

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It goes really well with hummus or vegan mayonnaise. Or you can just have it with some Greek yogurt.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 40 minutes SERVES: 2

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower, washed well

Vegetable oil

4 tbsp almonds, blanched and sliced

4 tbsp raisins

Cauliflower leaves, roasted

Spice paste

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 pieces cinnamon

4 cloves

2 cardamoms

1 tsp black peppercorn

5-6 red chillis

1 tsp turmeric powder

½ cup coconut, grated

Vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Cut off the stems of the cauliflower and cut them into one inch steaks leaving the ends. You can use these to make many things like soup, cauliflower rice, curry, etc.

For the spice paste, heat about a teaspoon of oil in a small pan and add the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Add the red chillis and pepper after a few seconds and then add the cumin, fennel and coriander seeds. Add the onions and sautè for a few minutes. Add the turmeric powder and coconut. Remove from heat and cool. Grind into a paste using as little water as possible. Add the ginger-garlic paste to the mixture and mix well. Stuff this paste into the gaps between the florets and the stems and also on the head of the florets, turning the steaks once. Grease a baking sheet with a little oil and place the cauliflower steaks on it. Drizzle a little oil on the top and around the steaks. Bake for about 20 minutes on each side, until the steaks are tender.

Heat a frying pan and gently place the cauliflower steak on it with a little oil and fry until they are browned on each side.

Roast the cauliflower leaves in the oven with a little oil.

To serve, place the steaks on a serving plate and garnish with the almonds, raisins and roasted cauliflower leaves. Serve with rice/flatbreads and/or hummus, vegan mayonnaise or Greek yogurt.

Layered Flatbreads with Omelette Puffs in Curry

These layered flatbreads are so delicious – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I make them often. They are so simple to make and perfect with any kind of dip or curry. I cook them for 30 seconds on each side and freeze them when they’re cool. It can be kept for 2-3 weeks in the freezer.

The omelette puffs are called paniyarams in Southern India. The rice batter used to make idlis and dosa are also fried in the same way. They are very popular as a tea time snack in the South. Really mouth-watering with coconut chutney and lentil curry (sambar). Please refer to my earlier post on Rice Cakes.

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The puffs are fried in a special cast iron pan with depressions, very much like a Takoyaki maker or an Aebleskiver Pan (Danish stuffed pancake balls). It is available on Amazon. I have been making this curry for ages. It’s absolutely delicious – especially with these flatbreads.

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Transfer the egg puffs to the curry after they become cool. That way, they won’t soak up the curry. Making both together requires patience, but the effort is really worth it. This recipe makes about 20 puffs and 12 flatbreads approximately.

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PREP: 1 hour COOK TIME: 1 hour

Ingredients

Flatbreads

11/2 cups all purpose flour

11/2 cups wheat flour

3 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Extra vegetable oil

Omelette Puffs

12 eggs

2 onions, chopped finely

4 green chillis, chopped finely

3 tbsp ginger, chopped finely

3-4 tbsp curry leaves, chopped finely

3-4 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely

Salt to taste

Curry

2 cinnamon sticks

2 cloves

2 cardamoms

6-7 black peppercorns

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp turmeric powder

11/2 tsp red chili powder

3 tsp coriander powder

½ cup coconut, grated

2 large onions, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

Salt to taste

Instructions

Combine the flours with the salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix well. Add water, a little at a time and make a smooth, pliable dough. Cover and set aside.

Beat the eggs with enough salt in a large bowl. Heat oil in a small pan and add the onions. When they are cooked, add all the other ingredients and sautè for a few minutes. Cool for 5-10 minutes and add it to the egg mixture. Mix well. Heat the special pan and add about ½ teaspoon of oil into each depression in the pan. Spoon some of the egg mixture into each depression up to the brim and cook for a few minutes until they become golden brown on the underside. Using a spoon, turn the puffs gently and cook on the other side as well, using a little oil if necessary. Make all the puffs in the same way and set aside to cool.

For the curry, heat about a teaspoon of oil in a small pan/wok and add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and pepper. Add half of the chopped onions immediately and cook for a few minutes. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and mix well. Finally, add the turmeric, chilli and coriander powder. Mix well and remove from heat. Do not heat the spices too much. They will lose their flavour and aroma. Add the coconut and mix well. Cool the mixture for 10 minutes and grind with enough water in the blender to make a thick paste.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large wok and add the remaining onions. When they are cooked add the tomatoes and enough salt. When the tomatoes become soft, add the curry paste and mix well. Add two cups of water and heat on a moderate flame until it starts boiling. Simmer the curry until the oil floats on top. Add more water if necessary. The curry should not be too thick or too thin. Add the cooled egg puffs and mix well. Transfer to a serving dish.

To make the flatbreads, portion the dough into large balls . Using flour, roll each ball into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Smear about a teaspoon of oil on to the surface of the circle and fold over to form a semi-circle. Smear a little more oil on the surface of this semi-circle and fold over to form a triangle. Roll each triangle to form a large flatbread, using a little flour. Fry the flatbreads with a little oil in a frying pan/skillet, so that they are golden brown on both sides. Serve hot with the curry. Enjoy!

Banana Stem Fritters

In India, the entire banana tree is used – the leaves are used to wrap food and to eat from, food is cooked in banana leaves, the flowers and stem are used in cooking. In the recent Masterchef Australia, Gary used banana flower in one of the Masterclasses.

Cutting the banana stem is a fine art in itself, but the effort is really worth it. Only the core of the banana stem is used and it has a mild sweet flavour. It is full of fibre and is highly beneficial for treating ulcers and acidity. The raw juice is combined with buttermilk, salt and lime and is a natural diuretic. It is rich in potassium and vitamin B6.

These fritters are the only way I can get my daughters to eat banana stems. They are extremely delicious. This recipe makes around 20 fritters.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes

Ingredients

11/2 cups banana stem, chopped

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 large onion, chopped

2 green chillis, chopped finely

1 tbsp ginger, chopped finely

2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely

1 cup roasted chana gram

2 pieces of cinnamon

3 cloves

2 cardamoms

Salt to taste

Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

Place the banana stem with turmeric and a little salt in a large pan and add ¼ cup of water. Cook on medium heat until they become tender and the water is completely evaporated. The stems cook fast and the mixture should be completely dry. Set aside to cool. Dry grind in a blender to a coarse paste (do not make it into a smooth paste).

Powder the roasted gram dal in a blender and set aside.

Roast the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom in a small pan and powder it.

Add the chopped onions, green chillis, ginger and coriander to the stem paste. Add the powdered spices, enough salt and half of the gram powder and mix well. The mixture should be firm enough to be shaped into small fritters. If it is too wet, add more of the powdered gram dal. Shape into small fritters and deep fry.

Rice Cakes with Chutney and Sambar

Rice cakes known as idli are the most popular Indian breakfast. Though idli is traditionally a South Indian dish, it’s the most popular breakfast eaten by millions of Indians everyday. The combination of rice with dehusked black gram dal (urad dal) makes it a complete protein.

The ground rice and dal is fermented overnight which breaks down the starch and is easily metabolized by the body. There’s no oil and they are steamed, which makes it easily digestible. Each idli contains 39 calories only. It contains no fat, no saturated fat and no cholesterol. Each idli contains 1 milligram of iron and trace amounts of calcium, folate, potassium and vitamin A besides the protein content.

It’s usually served with a variety of chutneys and Sambar, which is spiced cooked split pigeon peas and vegetables. Sambar is high on proteins, rich in antioxidants and contains fibre. It’s an ideal combination for weight loss. Tamarind is usually used in sambar but I usually prepare it without tamarind for idlis. You can use any vegetable in the sambar. Traditionally, drumstick is used in South India. 

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Every home would have it’s own way of preparing idlis and sambar. The rice used for idlis are par-boiled. Special rice known as idli rice is available. It’s small and round. Ready to use idli batter is also available. However, I prefer to make my own batter. There are special moulds available for steaming idlis on Amazon.

The same batter is used to make crisp pancakes called dosas. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Soft, fluffy, spongy idlis dunked in sambar and chutney – what could be a better breakfast?

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PREP: 40 minutes COOK TIME: 45 minutes (not including time required to soak the dal and prepare the idli batter)

Ingredients

For the idlis

3 cups par-boiled rice

1 cup dehusked black gram dal (urad dal)

2 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)

11/2 tbsp salt

Instructions

Soak the rice and dal separately in plenty of water for 3-4 hours. Add the methi seeds to the dal while soaking. Drain the water and set it aside to use while grinding the batter. Grind the rice with a little of the reserved water until it is the consistency of semolina. Transfer the batter to a large bowl. Grind the urad dal with a little water until it becomes soft and fluffy. Add this to the rice batter and add the salt. Mix well. The batter should be thick but should be of pouring consistency. If it’s too thick, the idlis will be hard and if there’s too much water the idlis will be flat. Cover the bowl and leave to ferment overnight.

The following day, mix the batter well. Use a little oil to grease the idli moulds and spoon the batter into it. Steam the idlis for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes before removing from the moulds.

For the chutney

1/2 cup roasted channa dal

1 cup fresh coconut, grated

½ tsp tamarind paste

3-4 dry red chillis

!/2 tsp asafoetida powder

A few curry leaves

Salt to taste

Vegetable oil

To temper

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

1/2 tsp split black gram dal

A few curry leaves

Instructions

Heat about 3-4 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a small pan. Add the red chillis and the channa dal. Saute until the dal changes to a golden brown colour. Add the tamarind paste, asafoetida, curry leaves and salt. Add the coconut and mix well. Remove from heat. Grind the ingredients with a little water into a paste.

To temper the chutney, heat a teaspoon of oil and add the mustard seeds. When they stop popping, add the dal. When the dal becomes golden brown, add the curry leaves and transfer the contents to the chutney. Mix well and serve with the idlis.

For the sambar

½ cup split pigeon peas (tuvar dal)

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp ghee

½ tsp asafoetida powder

1 cup potatoes, cubed

2 carrots, sliced thinly

½ cup shallots, sliced (sambar onions)

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 green chillies, slit lengthwise

Salt to taste

Vegetable oil

To temper

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp split black gram dal

A few curry leaves

Soak the dal in plenty of water for about 30 minutes or up to an hour. Soaking it longer will ensure that it cooks faster. Transfer it to a large pan and add the turmeric powder, ghee and asafoetida powder. Bring it to a boil and cook until the dal softens and is completely cooked. Remove from heat and mash well. Set aside.

Heat about 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the onions and saute until they are cooked. Add the green chillis and tomatoes. Saute until the tomatoes are cooked. Add the vegetables and enough salt. Mix well and add about a cup of water. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the mashed dal and mix well. Add more water if necessary and adjust the salt accordingly. Simmer gently for a few minutes. Remove from heat and temper the sambar in the same manner as the chutney. Serve hot.Rice Cakes with 

Ambrosia

This medley of fruits in a sugar syrup with dry fruits, honey and nuts is a dish that our family makes every year for a festival called Dussehra. It’s a celebration that lasts for about nine days and is celebrated by Hindus all over India.

I love the richness of this dish which is so satisfying and yet so light and refreshing. The aroma of the ghee and cardamom is delicious. It’s also vegan and could be served as dessert with a dollop of coconut cream.

It’s very simple to make. Once the sugar syrup is done you just have to add all the fruits and nuts, honey, ghee and cardamom. For those of you who want to cut down on sugar, you could add less of it.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 10 minutes SERVES: 6

Ingredients

½ cup jaggery

½ cup water

1 apple

2 bananas

2 oranges, segmented

2 guavas, cut into cubes

1 cup grapes, cut into two

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp ghee

1 tsp cardamom powder

½ cup dates, chopped roughly

½ cup cashewnuts

½ cup raisins

Instructions

Combine the jaggery and water and cook over a moderate heat until the jaggery melts. Strain into another pan and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Add all the ingredients except the apple and bananas. Core and cut the apple into small cubes. Add to the sugar syrup immediately. Slice the bananas into the sugar syrup and mix well. Refrigerate and serve with a dollop of coconut cream.

Sago Fritters

These sago fritters disappear fast. Crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, they are great as appetizers or a tea time snack.

These fritters are called vadas in India and they are made for special occasions and during festival times. It is made as an offering to the deity along with other sweets and fruits. There are many types of vadas and India being such a diverse culture, each region boasts of their own type of vadas. And there is no one recipe for each type of vada. The same thing may be made differently in each home.

It’s better to use the whole lentil for this vada but the split lentils can also be used.

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The most important thing is to grind the dal with only a few tablespoons of water. The mixture has to be thick. It’s also very important to make the fritters immediately after grinding the dal. It can be eaten plain or served with coconut chutney.

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This recipe makes around 40 fritters approximately.

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PREP: 2 hours COOK TIME: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups whole black gram lentils (urad dal)
  • ½ cup sago
  • 2-3 green chillies, minced
  • ¼ cup curry leaves, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped finely
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander. Chopped finely
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

Wash and soak the lentils for two hours. Wash and soak the sago for one hour.

Drain the lentils and grind with only about 2 tablespoons of water into a thick paste. Add salt and set aside.

Drain the sago and set aside.

Add the chopped green chillies, curry leaves, ginger and coriander to the ground mixture and mix gently. Add the sago and mix well.

Heat the vegetable oil until it is very hot. Drop a little of the mixture into the oil to check if it starts to cook and change colour. Make small balls of the dough with wet hands and drop them gently into the oil a few at a time. When they turn golden brown, flip them over and cook on the other side as well. Drain on absorbent paper and repeat until all the mixture has been used up. Serve hot.