Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mix Vegetable Vegan Halwa with Bottle gourd, Carrots and Chioggia Beets. {Indian Vegan Dessert with vegetables.}

Indian sweet "Halwa"  can be prepared with different flours, Dals, Nuts, Fruits and vegetables. Today I am sharing  recipe of Halwa made with three vegetables. I had  one organic Chioggia beet, few locally grown tender carrots in the refrigerator, quantity was not sufficient to make three servings of Halwa so  I added one  Lauki / Dudhi  and made  this Three vegetable Halwa. I skipped adding milk , used  extra virgin coconut oil so it turned  vegan halwa. For rich taste and additional nutrition I added coarse ground  almond meal and Hemp hearts. After cooking bright natural color of vegetable was  lost but Halwa tasted  absolutely delicious.

 Halwa Ingredients : (3 servings of Halwa)
  • 1 Dudhi / Bottlegourd / Lauki - grated, yield 2.5 cup tightly packed.
  • 1 Chioggia Beetroot - grated -(yield 1 cup tightly packed) regular beets can be used.
  • 8-10 young  carrots - grated - (yield 1 cup tightly packed) use any type of carrots.
  • 5-6 Tb.spoon - extra virgin coconut oil (I used Carrington Farms from costco.)
  • 5 Tb.spoon - Hemp hearts (raw shelled hemp seeds.)
  • 1/4 Cup- coarse ground almond powder
  • 4-5 Cardamom - finely ground seeds
  • 3 Tb.spoon - Golden raisins
  • 4 Tb.spoon - slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup sugar - extra 3-4 Tb.spoon for  more sweetness.

Lauki , Gajar and Chioggia Beet.

Grated Beetroot, Carrots and Dudhi.

Method of making Mix vegetable Halwa.
  1. Cut both the ends of Bottle gourd, peel the skin. Keep the seeds if they are extra tender. If seeds are grown then remove inner seed portion. Grate by using grater as shown in the image or use food processor. Keep it aside. (Bitter tasting bottle gourd  should not be consumed due to its  toxic properties.)
  2. I used organic locally grown carrots so didn't peel the skin but thoroughly washed it under running water by rubbing the skin to get rid of soil. Grate it by using grater or use food processor. Peel the skin if you are using regular carrots.
  3. For Chioggia beets I  partially peeled the skin from rough root grown portion. Don't peel off clean dark pink skin. Grate and keep aside.
  4. Gently squeeze juice from grated veggies. Do not squeeze out all juice, one or two times gentle hand squeeze is enough. I got around half cup juice, drink it up or use it  in cooking.
  5. In a small saute pan heat 1 tbsp coconut oil, add golden raisins in two batches, stir fry by stirring continuously until raisins swell to round shape and turn light brown. Keep heat low to avoid burning. Drain over paper towel. Next add little more coconut oil in the same pan, fry slivered almonds until light brown. Drain on paper towel.
  6. Heat 3 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil in a heavy gauge pot. I took 4 quart hard anodized pot. Add all grated vegetables, cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring often. Add powdered cardamom seeds when you are half way through cooking process. If mixture gets too dry spray some water to retain moisture.
  7. Now add 1/4 cup coarse ground almond powder, mix well, cook for five minutes, stirring often.
  8. Next add 3/4 cup sugar, once sugar melts, veggie mixture will turn loose in texture, continue to cook until mixture forms thick pulp like texture. Taste sweetness, if required add 3-4 tbs more sugar.
  9. Now add 5 tbsp hemp hearts (optional) and 2 tbsp coconut oil, mix well, continue to cook for 6-7 minutes or until mixture achieves your desired halwa texture. Add fried raisins and slivered almonds, mix well. (save few for final garnish) Let it cool down completely before serving. You can serve in a bowl or shape in your choice of moulds.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly feasting on nectar of Bull Thistle Flower. {Bull Thistle Plant in Yard - Part 1}

Last year summer one wild plant grew near  our patio door admist  Mint plants, It was tiny with five six leaves, I didn't think much and  left it in the ground, it survived harsh winter and by spring it started to grow taller with beautiful  thorny leaves. Google search based on the  leaf description yielded me result of  Bull Thistle Plant. (Cirsium vulgare) In the month of May it started showing signs of bloom and by first week of June beautiful purple thistle flowers started blooming all over the plant. On July 4th  one beautiful Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly came in search of nectar,  it stayed around flowers for few minutes and that gave me good chance to capture images through Patio glass door. Butterfly images are taken around  11.15 a.m., it was very bright sunny day, glass door acted as a nice filter. I am glad to share these images with you. I will have one more post coming up with American Gold finch images taken while enjoying Bull Thistle seeds. They take several rounds to eat thistle seeds and today one female finch started collected white silky texture material from seeds to use in her nest. Now Thistle bloom is ending, plant is drying and collapsing. Today I removed two dried stems. I am glad that I left this Bull Thistle plant to grow, it was great joy to see it growing and frequented by Gold finches, butterflies, bees and insects.

Simple flower arrangement with Bull Thistle flowers.

Bumble Bee sipping nectar from Bull Thistle Flower.

Dried Bull Thistle flower head.

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly

Bull Thistle plant is full of spines.

Opened dried Thistle flower head with  silky fiber.

Female American gold  Finch  picking up Bull Thistle seeds.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kerala Thoran with Green beans & Chioggia Beetroots. {Indian sattvik vegetable Stir fry for every day meals.}

I cook green beans stir fry at least three four times a week, mostly  Kerala style stir fry known as Thoran. I always add few other veggies  with beans. I got Chioggia beets from  Whole foods Market, they are not sold in other grocery stores here. This is my first time to cook with Chioggia beets. These beets have originated in Chioggia, an Italian coastal town near Venice, Italy.  They have beautiful  unique contrasting rings of dark pink, light pink and white color. They are also know as Bull's eye Beet / Candy stripe Beet.  Good  feature of these beets is, they don't bleed like regular beets but their beautiful bold  pink color fades away after cooking. They are very sweet and mild in flavor. When I make green beans and betroot thoran I  pre-boil beets, drain stock then combine  it with cooked  green beans  to avoid green beans from getting all  dark red. For Chioggia beetroots I can skip pre-boiling step. This stir fry was cooked for Sunday lunch, I prepared quick Kadhi to go with rice and stir fry. Scroll down to check recipe for preparing quick Kadhi. 

Simple Sunday Lunch -  Rice-Kadhi-Sabzi.

Ingredients :
Serves 3 people
  • Green beans -   sliced into 1 cm pieces, yield 2.5 cups
  • 1 medium size Chioggia Beet - peel skin, cut into 1 cm dices, yield around 1 Cup. (you can use regular beetroot.)
  • 7-8 - curry leaves
  • 1/2 Cup - fresh grated coconut
  • 1/4 Cup - finely chopped cilantro
Tempering Ingredients
  • 1/2  T.spoon - Mustard seeds
  • 1 Tb.spoon - skinless urad daal (splitted or whole gota type.)
  • 1/2 T.spoon - Turmeric
  • 2 pinches - Hing / Asafoetida
  • 7-8 curry leaves 
  • 1 Green chili - finely chopped
  • 1 Tb.spoon oil - preferably use coconut oil.
How to cook Kerala Thoran with Green beans and Chioggia beets :
  1. Snap both the ends of green beans, thoroughly wash under running water. Hold 10-15 green beans together in left hand over cutting board  and slice into 1 cm size pieces.
  2. Chop out both the ends of Chioggia beats, peel the skin, rinse under water. Make 1 cm thick slices. Stack 2-3 slices together and cut into 1 cm size cubes.
  3. Heat a medium size skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp oil, when hot first add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, wait until seeds start to crack, quickly cover with lid, wait for 15-20 seconds or until frequency of cracking slows down, then add curry leaves, chopped green chilies. saute for 15 seconds. Next add half tsp turmeric powder, 2 pinches Hing and 1 tbsp Urad  dal, stir continuously for 10-15 seconds or  until urad dal slightly changes its  shade, Don't wait too long, once dal turns light  brown, quickly add  chopped green beans, stir well with Tadka.
  4. Over medium heat saute green beans for 3-4 minutes. Now add diced  Chioggia Beets, continue to saute over medium heat for 6-7 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low, add 1/4 cup water, sprinkle salt, continue cooking until all water evaporates. Now add remaining 7-8 curry leaves, stir and cook some more time until beans and beets get tender, this step will take about 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle half the quantity of fresh grated coconut and chopped cilantro, mix well. shut off the heat
  6. Before serving garnish with remaining fresh coconut and cilantro. Serve with  warm rice, Roti or enjoy bowl full of Thoran just like salad.

How to make Kadhi ?

Kadhi is  curry  made by tempering  yogurt with  various seeds, spices and herbs, little besan flour is used to get thick, creamy texture and enhanced flavor.

Ingredients :
Serves 2 people
  • 1 Cup Yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup water.
  • 2 Tb.spoon - besan flour
  • 8-10 - curry leaves
  • 1 Green chili - finely chopped
  • Ginger - 1 inch piece, minced finely.
  • 2-3 Garlic cloves - sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 T.spoon - Cumin seeds
  • 1/4 T.spoon - methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
  • 1/4 T.spoon -Turmeric powder
  • 2 pinches - asafoetida (Hing)
  • 1/2 T.spoon - sugar 
  1. Mix 1 Cup Yogurt with 2 tbsp besan flour, little salt and 1/4 cup water. Thoroughly whisk to get  lump free smooth  yogurt consistency.  You may add little more water to have desired consistency. Keep it aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small size pot, don't heat  too much. I have tempered with cumin seeds so average hot temperature is fine, they should sizzle as soon as you drop in but should not get dark instantly. If you are using mustard seeds then oil needs to be heated  more. First drop  1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp methi seeds,  allow to sizzle for 15-20 seconds.
  3. Next add minced ginger, sliced garlic, chopped chillies, and curry leaves. Stir all well and saute for one minute over medium high heat.  Lastly  add 2 pinches of hing and  1/4 tsp turmeric powder, stir for 15-20 seconds.
  4. Now add yogurt Besan mixture, stir well. Cook over medium heat until yogurt softly starts to boil. Taste and adjust salt, add  1/2  tsp sugar. Reduce heat to low, allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Serve warm over rice or eat with roti or enjoy as soup in a bowl.
Check three top garnished semi-circle slices of Chioggia Beetroot
 for its original color, after cooking bright red, pink color fades to white, orange and light yellow.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sprouting Moong Beans inside warm oven. {Black and White Wednesday #91}

This week for Black and White Wednesday event I am submitting image of  sprouted Moong Beans. Few days back  for the first time I sprouted moong beans inside the oven by maintaining warm temperatures, it worked very well. I was to keep  dosa batter in the oven  for fermentation, also kept soaked moong dal alongside batter without knowing if it would bring any better results. I soaked Moong beans in water on Sunday morning and  by Monday noon fully sprouted moong beans were ready to cook, that is around 30 hours of total time to sprout moong beans. I  had covered soaked moong  beans inside wet thick paper towel and placed  it inside vented plastic basket.  I will be doing similar experiments with other beans and lentils.

This week Susan from The Well Seasoned cook  is hosting Black and White Wednesday Event #91, who is also a founder of this event. Now Cinzia of  Cindystarblog is a new admin for Susan's Black and White Wednesday Event. For all guidelines  and an index of  all future event hosting blogs please check Cinzia's  post here. Participants can join Flickr group created for B&W event. Next event (BWW #92, 17th July-2013) will be hosted by Simona of  briciole

Black and White Wednesday
 Event #91, 10th July-2013