Bhindi Masala ~ Indian-Style Spiced Okra

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Everyone should discover and eat more okra. Well that’s what I think at least, and for some reason I’ve always viewed okra as a ‘treat” vegetable. You heard it - a treat! Will get to the treat part in a moment.

Okra is ubiquitous in the South Asian diet and very often is found as a side to an authentic Indian meal or ‘thali’ (stainless steel plate containing various curries and vegetables including rice, a sweet and flatbread). There are so many variations of recipes that use Bhindi (okra) as the main ingredient but most of the time it’s just the okra itself that is simmered, fried, deep-fried, steamed or braised in masala and cooked to perfection. Once you get used to this vegetable you’ll see there is absolutely nothing that can act as a substitute for it and clearly no other vegetable that can stand in its place.

Okra, also referred to as “Lady’s Finger” contains a gooey-like centre membrane that some might argue makes it possibly off-putting. However, when cooked well (um, cooked right) all that gooeyness turns crispy and is utterly delicious making okra highly addictive. So this is where the “treat” part comes in. I always remember having okra cut up into small bits, deep-fried until crispy, served hot tossed in masala and garnished with sea salt. We used to pop these into our mouths just like popcorn! And a plate full would disappear in literally seconds.

Either way, when cooked well and spiced up with masala this can really create an unforgettable Indian meal. Here is a basic Bhindi Masala Recipe that should always be eaten with warm fresh Chapatis.


BHINDI MASALA ~ INDIAN-STYLE SPICED OKRA

METHOD OF PREPARATION:

1) In a frying pan add oil, mustard and cumin seeds. Cover pan with a lid allow mustard seed to pop and cumin seeds to become slightly brown.

2) Add okra, potatoes and onions. Add ARVINDA’S MADRAS MASALA and salt. Mix and stir-fry for a minute.

3) Cover with lid and cook on low heat until potatoes are tender. Uncover and cook until okra is slightly crispy. Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

1 TBSP. oil
½ TSP. mustard seeds from ARVINDA’S ESSENTIAL WHOLES SPICE KIT
½ TSP. cumin seeds from ARVINDA’S ESSENTIAL WHOLES SPICE KIT
1 LB. fresh okra, cleaned with wet towel, thinly sliced
3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 TBSP. ARVINDA’S MADRAS MASALA
1 TSP. salt or salt to taste

This recipe will work equally well with Arvinda’s Curry Masala!


Tandoori Spiced Taro Root "Fries"

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Recently, I've been hooked on taro root. Upon most of my visits to the Asian supermarket, the humble root always seems to make it into my shopping basket. Maybe that's because there's always such a large display in the produce section being a conspicuous root itself -- and large in size and hard to miss, it raises a certain level of curiosity. It's a 'curious' vegetable one could say!

As I was rummaging through the taro root pile in the Asian store last week, a curious woman asked me why I was buying it (meaning, what was I planning on doing with it!). She didn't know what it was or how to cook with it, so I explained I was making taro 'fries", cooking it just like a potato.

I actually didn't realize taro root is native to India (and parts of Southeast Asia), but recall seeing it in the markets in South India, as pictured below. Taro has a beautiful nutty flavour, a soft, creamy texture and takes in flavour quite nicely. I selected Arvinda's Tandoori Masala to add a bite of heat and fantastic spice flavour.

I discovered the taro root is high in fiber, lowers blood sugar levels and is high in vitamin C. Prepare the taro root by peeling it, chopping it and boiling it - just like a potato! Easy.

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TANDOORI SPICED TARO ROOT "FRIES"

Ingredients:
1 LB. taro root, cooked and julienned
1-2 TBSP. oil
1 TSBP. ARVINDA'S TANDOORI MASALA
2 TBSP. cilantro, finely chopped, to garnish
sea salt, to garnish

 

Method of Preparation:

1) Heat oil on medium-high heat. Add ARVINDA'S TANDOORI MASALA and blend well.

2) Add cooked taro "fries", coat well and cook for a few minutes until crispy.

3) Garnish with cilantro and sea salt.

Curried Cranberry & Almond Quinoa

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Many people these days will be happy to see quinoa on a holiday table. Being gluten-free, high in protein and named a superfood, all your guests will welcome a bit of quinao for a festive dinner.

The curry powder gently scents the dish, offering a beautiful golden hue, while the cranberries offer a sweet and tart bite, with the almonds lending a nice crunch. 


CURRIED CRANBERRY & ALMOND QUINOA

Method of Preparation:

1) Add quinoa to a pot with water and salt. Boil until water is absorbed.

2) In a separate pot, heat olive oil on medium-low heat. Add onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

3) Fold in quinoa and ARVINDA'S CURRY POWDER. Fold in dried cranberries and sliced almonds.

I wrote this recipe to serve 2-4, so it would be suitable for everyday lunches or dinners. Double or triple the recipe if you’re serving a larger crowd.

Ingredients:
¼ CUP quinoa, rinsed in several changes of water
2 CUPS water
½ TSP. salt
2 TSP. olive oil
1 CUP spinach, finely chopped
½ small red onion, chopped
1 TSP. ARVINDA'S CURRY POWDER
¼ CUP dried cranberries
¼ CUP sliced almonds

CURRIED MASHED SWEET POTATOES

Add more fibre to your diet by subbing out potatoes for sweet potatoes. Rather than mashed potatoes, this side will be on our holiday table this season! It's sweet and delightful with a hint of curry spices.

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CURRIED MASHED SWEET POTATOES

Method of Preparation:

1) In a pressure cooker, add sweet potatoes, potatoes and salt. Cover with water and cook for 10 minutes until they are tender enough to mash. (If you don’t own a pressure cooker, boil on stovetop – this should take around 20 minutes).

2) Drain water. Using a potato masher (or fork) mash sweet potatoes and potatoes.

3) In a large skillet, melt ghee on medium heat. Add ARVINDA'S CURRY MASALA and mix. Fold in mashed sweet potatoes and potatoes and coat with masala. Fold in heavy cream.

4) Serve in a bowl and garnish with ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA. Serves 2-4.

Ingredients:
1 LB. sweet potatoes (4 small), peeled and cubed
½ LB. potatoes (2 medium), peeled and cubed
1 TSP. salt
2 TBSP. ghee or butter
1-2 TBSP. ARVINDA'S CURRY MASALA
1/8 CUP heavy cream
sea salt, to taste
¼ TSP. ARVINDA's GARAM MASALA , to garnish

Curried Oven Roasted Potato Wedges

Sometimes I get a craving for something spicy, satiating and potato-like! After deciding it's a better choice to skip the deep-fried snacks, I opt to make these oven roasted crispy curried potato wedges that could also be a tasty side for a meal.

Sweet potatoes are equally suitable for this recipe. Serves well with a yogurt condiment.

Make sure you bake these until crispy - and you'll be well sastified with this choice!


CURRIED OVEN ROASTED POTATO WEDGES

Method of Preparation: 

1) In a pot, add potatoes, 1 tsp. salt and cover with water. Parboil potatoes for 7-10 minutes. Drain. (Potatoes should be slightly firm).

2) Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with foil. Dip: In a small bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA, sea salt and crushed garlic. Mix well.

In a medium bowl, mix together olive oil and ARVINDA'S CURRY MASALA. Coat parboiled potatoes with mixture. Arrange coated potato wedges on baking sheet. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Turn wedges over and bake for another 5 minutes. Garnish with sea salt. Serve with dip. Serves 2.

Ingredients:
1 LB. potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 TSP. salt
2 TBSP. olive oil
1 TSP. ARVINDA'S CURRY MASALA (add 2 tsp. for hotter)
sea salt, to garnish

Arvinda’s Garam Masala Yogurt Garlic Dip
1/4 CUP yogurt
1/4 CUP mayonnaise
1/4 TSP. ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA
1/4 TSP. sea salt
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed