September 21, 2014

Indian Pantry Must-Haves

I recently started a group on Facebook called Indian Plant Based Whole Food Junkies and one of the questions asked almost within the first couple of days of the group's inception was "What are the most essential items in an Indian Pantry?" .. so by popular demand, here's a list. I've listed most of the ingredients I have in  my pantry and marked them as Essential, Useful and Occasional.


Ajwain (Carom seeds) (O)
Bay Leaves (U)
Black Pepper and Black peppercorns (U)
Cardamom, Black (U)
Chat Masala (U)
Chilli Powder (U)
Cinnamon (sticks or ground) (U)
Cloves (whole or ground) (U)
Coriander (Cilantro) Seeds (whole or ground) (E)
Cumin Seeds (whole or ground) (E)
Fennel Seeds (O)
Fenugreek Seed (O)
Garam Masala (U)
Mango Powder (Amchoor) (O)
Mustard Seeds (U)
Nigella or Onion Seeds (O)
Nutmeg (U)
Pomegranate Seeds (O)
Poppy Seeds (O)
Saffron (O)
Sesame Seeds (O)
Star Anise (O)
Turmeric (E)
Salt (E)

Dry Pantry:

Chickpea Flour (U)
Dried and/or Canned Beans, all varieties (E)
   Kidney Beans
   Pinto Beans
   Chick Peas
   Black Gram (Dark Chick Peas)
   Black Eyed Peas
Dried Lentils (Whole, Split and Skinned varieties) (E)
   Arhar (Toor) Dal
   Chana Dal
   Masoor Dal
   Mung Dal
   Urad Dal
Garlic (E)
Onions, preferably red (E)
Rice, Basmati, Brown or White (E)
Tamarind Pods or Paste (U)
Tomatoes, Canned (diced, paste, sauce) (U)
Whole Wheat Flour (for home-made bread) (U)

Refrigerator or Freezer:

Cilantro Leaves (U)
Coconut Flakes (U)
Coconut Milk (O)
Curry Leaves, fresh or frozen (O)
Ginger, fresh (E)
Ginger-Garlic Paste (U)
Mint Leaves (U)
Tomatoes (E)

September 17, 2014

Mushroom Vindaloo

The mere mention of Vindaloo, Xiacuti, Ambotik, Cafrael, Sorpotel will send many an Indian into a 'vacation state of mind' ... !! Summer vacations spent on the beaches of Goa allowed many of us to sample in its unique Portugese-Inspired cuisine. Suffice to say .. it always brings back good memories. 

Vindaloo is derived from the Portugese dish Carne de vinha d'alhos, a pork dish made with wine and garlic as the main elements. In Goa, the red wine was substituted with the cheap and locally available palm vinegar and Red Kashmiri chillies were added along with several other local spices to make Vindaloo. While meat-based preparations are marinated in the vindaloo spice paste overnight, this is not necessary for vegetables and this dish, like most of my other recipes, is made in less than 30 minutes.

Prep Time: 30 min 

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 2 x 12oz Packs of Sliced Mushrooms (about 3 cups)
  2. 1 cup frozen peas
  3. 1 Medium Red or Yellow Onion, diced. 
  4. 5-6 Dried Red Chillies
  5. 2 x 1" pcs of Cinnamon
  6. 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  7. 1 tbsp Coriander Powder (or Coriander Seed)
  8. 1 tsp Turmeric
  9. 6-8 Cloves
  10. 2 inch piece of fresh Ginger
  11. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic, or 4-5 fresh cloves
  12. 4 whole Green Cardamoms
  13. 1 tsp whole black pepper corns
  14. 1/4 cup Malt (or White) Vinegar
Directions for Vindaloo Paste: 
In a small blender or food processor, mix red chillies, cinnamon, cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, cloves, ginger and garlic and vinegar and blend to a smooth paste. This magic in a jar vindaloo paste can be used on any number of dishes and can be adapted to any taste. Use less red chilli peppers if you prefer a milder taste. Add more vinegar if the paste is too dry while grinding. A little extra won't hurt the flavors. You can also make up a big batch of paste, freeze in an ice cube tray and store the frozen cubes for future use.  

Line a skillet with water and saute onions until translucent. Add a splash of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Once the onions are done, add the whole green cardamoms and black pepper corns and saute until the cardamoms pop open with the heat and steam, adding a splash of water or vegetable broth, as needed. After a couple of minutes, add Vindaloo Paste, mix well and add vegetables. Turn heat to medium and toss everything together. Saute for a few minutes to allow flavors to blend and the spices to cook. Then add a cup of water or vegetable broth. If you want your dish soupier, add more water to obtain the desired consistency. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve over steamed rice, or with thick bread for sopping up the curry. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 110 (Fat Calories 12)
Total Fat 1.3 g; Carbohydrates 19.3 g; Fiber 6.1 g; Sugars 6.2 g; Protein 8.5 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!