Chinese Van Vegetable Fried Rice

Growing up in India, I loved Indian-Chinese food (especially from the Chinese food vans) and miss it sorely in the U.S. So I tried my hand and making some vegetable fried rice that matched my memories. This was pretty good. I paired it with Chilli Potatoes (recipe forthcoming), which hit the spot!

The whole thing takes about an hour to put together.

You need:

  1. 1 cup rice, preferably basmati
  2. A handful of fresh green beans, julienned (cut into very thin strips, about 1-2 inches long)
  3. The same amount of julienned carrots
  4. 4-5 spring onions, sliced finely. Separate the greens and whites.
  5. 2 tbsp julienned ginger
  6. 1 cup bean sprouts
  7. 2 tbsp soy sauce (low-sodium if you have it)
  8. A pinch of Chinese five-spice (optional)

You can also use other vegetables like bell peppers or celery, but make sure everything is cut to the same size, which will ensure even stir-frying.

How to:

  1. Cook the rice with 1 tsp oil. While it is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Do not begin to cook them until the rice is done, as they will cook quickly.
  2. Put the cooked rice into a big plate and spread out to cool.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a hot pan. Keep the pan on a medium to high heat.
  4. When it is hot, add the white of the spring onions, and stir quickly. Add the rest of the vegetables and keep stirring until they are cooked. They should still be crunchy, so keep tasting them until they are cooked and then move to the next step.
  5. Add the soy sauce and stir. If you scrape the bottom of the pan gently as you do this, it will pick up the bits stuck to the bottom and they will add good flavor. Don’t scrape too hard–you don’t want any burnt bits.
  6. Add a pinch of five-spice and mix well.
  7. Add the rice and mix well, taking it off the heat as soon as possible.
  8. If you need more salt, add salt, not more soy sauce.

Enjoy! I hope you like it. It has a very simple flavor of soy sauce, with the vegetables in the foreground. The five-spice is a very subtle taste in the background.


Vegetable Momos with Red Chili Paste

Momos. Dimsums. Potstickers. I’ve heard all these terms used, and I don’t know what the difference is. Where I come from, they’re called momos, and the best kind were the ones you could get at the Yashwant Place market near Chanakya cinema in Delhi.

Heads up: I’m still figuring out my dough recipe, so I used store-bought wonton wrappers which were splendid.

For the filling: 1 carrot; 1 medium-sized red onion; 5 small green onions; 2 sticks celery; 1 small bell pepper; 2 small bok choy; 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce; 2 tbsp oil

How to: Julienne all the vegetables (cut them into very small, thin pieces). Heat the oil in a large wok or kadhai. Throw in the red onion and cook for a few minutes. Then add the carrots and peppers and cook some more. After a couple of minutes, add the celery and green onions. Stir and cook 2-3 more minutes. Add the soy sauce and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Follow the instructions on the wonton wrapper package to fill and cook the momos. If you boil the momos, add a little oil to the water. It might help with the sticking. I did not pan-fry mine after dunking them in hot water.

For the red chili paste: 3-4 dried red chilies, 3-4 tbsp cider vinegar, 2 tbsp garlic.

How to: put it all in a food processor and blend it into a coarse paste.

Put a wee bit of the red chili paste on a momo, dip in soy sauce, and enjoy!

Aviyal

The grandest of all South Indian vegetable dishes! Who doesn’t love aviyal? Perfect for festival occasions, and for just simply! However, this is not an easy recipe, and takes time and effort. Well worth it, though.

Preparation (chopping, etc.): 40 Minutes
Boiling (vegetables, do them simultaneously if possible): 30 Minutes
Simmering once mixed: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup yam, julienned (this is not sweet potato, but the large, brown, yam – the ugliest one in the store – jimikand)
1 cup plantain, peeled and julienned (vazhakai, or kaccha kela). Be careful to wash your hands after, as the sticky stuff stains.
1 cup white pumpkin, or marrow, or yellow squash, julienned
1 cup green beans, julienned
½ cup peas
½ cup carrots, julienned
1 large baking potato, julienned (don’t use a soft potato like the ones used for mashed potatoes)
2 cups fresh coconut, shredded/grated (or dehydrated + 1 can coconut milk)
2 cups yogurt
1 tbsp. rice flour
1 tsp. tamarind paste
4 green chillies, or to taste
5 leaves curry leaves
1 tbsp. oil , preferably coconut oil
to taste salt

Preparation:

1. The vegetables should be cut in thick strips of 1/2″, not thinner. Keep the vegetables separate.
2. If you do not have fresh coconut, use dried, rehydrate, and add one can of coconut milk.
3. Dissolve the tamarind paste in 4 cups warm water.
4. Boil the plantain in this water until it is cooked, but firm. It will feel like a cooked potato. (Think al dente).
5. Remove the banana and set aside. Boil the yam in the same water, to a similar firmness.
6. Drain and throw away the water.
7. Boil or steam all the other vegetables. These may be cooked together. The vegetables should still be firm; do not overcook them. Do not drain completely, retain about two cups of water.
8. Grind the coconut and green chillies together to a fine paste. Add water as necessary, but do not make liquidy.
9. Place all the vegetables in a large wok or kadhai.
10. Add ground coconut paste and salt. Stir gently, but mix well.
11. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 2 minutes.
12. Dissolve the rice flour in 1/2 cup water and add to the vegetables. Mix gently and simmer for 3 minutes more.
13. Whip the yogurt until smooth.
14. Turn off the heat, add the yogurt to the vegetables, and stir well, taking care not to break the vegetables.
15. In a small pan, heat the oil. Add the curry leaves. Make sure they are not wet. Allow to sputter and add to the vegetables. Mix well.
Serve over rice. Makes 6 servings.

Veggie-Feta Pot Pie

potpie.jpg

Preparation time: (assuming filling is leftover) 1 hr

Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

For the filling: I used leftovers from the filling for my calzones from the night before (but without the cheese). I sprinkled ¼ cup slivered almonds and about ¼ cup of feta over the veggies. The almonds and feta added a lovely flavor to the veggies. Definitely worth making, if you have the time and the energy.

FOR THE PIE CRUST

This recipe is for a double-layer crust.

You need: 3 cups all-purpose flour; 2 tsp salt; ¾ sup vegetable shortening (it works better than butter); ½ cup cold water

How to:

  1. Put the flour in a bowl and blend in the salt and vegetable shortening. You can use a metal fork to break the shortening into the flour until all the shortening has been worked into the flour. The texture should be loose and grainy, not compacted.
  2. Chill the dough for an hour in the fridge or 30m in the freezer.
  3. Add the ½ water and blend in with a fork.
  4. Divide the dough into two portions and form them into balls.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  6. Roll out one half into about ¼ inch thick and place it in the pie pan. Cut the extra edge off with a butter knife.
  7. Add the filling. Roll out the top crust.
  8. Wet your finger and run it around the edge of the bottom crust (to help seal the pie). Place the top crust over the pie. Cut off the extra edge and press down to seal.
  9. Brush some oil over the top of the pie.
  10. Cut three vents in the top. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes.

Glorious Vegetable Calzone

Making a vegetable calzone

 

Preparation time: 1 hr 20m for the dough, 20m for the vegetables.

Cooking time: 30m for the vegetable filling, 12-15 m for baking

This was astonishingly tasty. I’m very pleased with myself. It’s not something you can whip up at the end of a long day, but you could make some up ahead and freeze them for just such a day…

We made the dough in a bread machine, but you could knead it by hand and let it rise. You would probably want to knead it for about ten minutes or so, cover it and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has more than doubled in size. This will make four calzones, each of which is a good-sized meal for one hungry person.

You will have some vegetable filling left over, but you could always freeze it and make calzones some other day 🙂

THE DOUGH:

You need: 3 cups all-purpose flour+2 tsp wheat gluten (or 3 cups bread flour); 1 tsp sugar; 1 tsp salt; 1 cup+2 tbsp water; 2 tbsp oil; 2.5 tsp active dry yeast (we used “bread machine yeast”)

How to: If you are using a bread machine, add all the wet ingredients first, and then the dry ones, with yeast being the last thing you add. Follow instructions on your bread machine.

If you are doing this by hand, knead for 10-12 minutes, cover, and let rise as discussed above.

THE FILLING:

You need: 1/2 cup carrots; 1 kohlrabi; 1 medium-sized bell pepper; 1 small onion; 1 small yellow squash; 1 cup diced tomatoes; 1/2 cup peas (frozen is good); 2 tbsp slivered almonds; and to taste: rosemary, thyme, salt, red chili powder, paprika; grated Parmesan, grated mozzarella.
How to: Dice the vegetables into about 1/4″ cubes. The smaller the pieces, the better they will work as filling.

Heat oil, add the vegetables in the following order. Stir after adding each one, and give it a couple of minutes before adding the next: onions, carrots, kohlrabi, squash, peppers, almonds. Stir well and cover. Let it cook about 5-6 minutes. If it starts to stick to the bottom, add the tomatoes. Stir well. Do not add water. If it is still sticking, add just a little bit of water- about 1/4 cup. Add the herbs and salt and let it cook (carrots and kohlrabi should be soft, but not mushy).

THE CALZONE:

Divide the dough into two and follow these instructions for each half. Preheat the oven to 400F.

1. Roll out the dough and divide into two.

2. Put a little filling into one side of each half. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan and grated mozzarella over the filling.

3. Wet the tip of your finger and run it along the edge of the rolled-out dough, then fold the top half over and seal it by pressing it down. With a knife, cut three vents in the top. Brush a little oil over the top of each calzone.

4. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 400F or until brown. The dough should not become hard.

5. Cut in half, let it cool, and eat 🙂


Minestrone

This is a very tasty, filling, and healthy soup.

 

You need:

Olive oil for cooking

½ cup onions

2 tbsp minced garlic

¼ cup diced peppers

½ cup pasta or rice

¼ cup cooked garbanzo beans/any other beans

¼ cup diced carrots

¼ cup peas

You can also add other vegetables, depending on what’s in season, like squash, potatoes, greens, etc.

3 cups vegetable broth

½ cup fresh tomatoes, diced

Spices: basil, thyme, rosemary, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper

 

How to:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients.
  2. Sauté the onions and garlic.
  3. Add the peppers and carrots.
  4. Add the spices, stir well, and let it cook for a few minutes.
  5. Add the broth and bring it to a boil.
  6. Add the tomatoes, peas, pasta/rice, and beans.
  7. Turn down the heat, cover, and let it simmer until the pasta/rice is cooked. Check to see if you need more broth.
  8. Grate some cheese (I use Parmesan) over the top and serve.

Gajar (carrot) halwa

Dessert. There are a number of different ways of making this, but here’s an easy way. I haven’t actually tried this to see if it works, but my mum says it does, and so it should.

You need: 2 litres milk; 1 lb. grated carrots; 1 lb. sugar; 2 tbsp ghee or unsalted white butter; slivered almonds (lightly toasted)

How to:

Sautee carrots in ghee until colour deepens. This usually takes two to three minutes.

Add milk. Simmer carrots in milk till all milk is absorbed.

Add sugar and cook until thick (it should come away from the sides easily). Add the almonds.

P.S. My mother says this works best with dark carrots, not the lighter “English” ones.