21 February 2015

Recipe for Tofu Chilli Stir Fry | Indo-Chinese Recipes

Tofu Chilli
Tofu Chilli and Egg Fried Rice
How to make tofu taste more edible is a question I am often asked in my cooking workshops. Tofu is like a blank canvas. Good tofu, that is. Good tofu is clean tasting, with no flavour of its own. Marinate it in a good dressing and it will behave like a most obedient student, taking on whatever flavours you urge it to.

My regular readers will remember that I won a Nature's Basket cook-off that took me to Australia last year, and what won me that contest was a dish called 'Trio of Tofu'. I made tofu three ways - a Korean style tofu-cake, tofu satays with dipping sauce and sauteed marinated tofu in rice paper rolls with another dipping sauce. One of the judges, Michael, who was from the Australian Trade Commission, told me, his wife will be happy he ate something healthy for a change :)

This is a somewhat healthier take on this very popular Indo Chinese dish called Paneer Chilli or Chilli Paneer, where Indian style paneer pakodas (with a cornflour batter of course) are tossed along with strips of bell peppers and chillis in the typical ginger-garlic-green chilli-soy sauce combination. Since I don't deep fry unless my life depends on it, or if it is for a really good Vadai, this is a slightly modified recipe.

y u no like tofu

Recipe for Tofu-Chilli Stir Fry 
Prep Time 15 minutes | Cooking time 15 minutes | Serves 3-4
Serve as appetiser or a side with steamed rice or fried rice

200 gram tofu cut into finger lengths - around 16 pieces
1 tbsp cooking oil
2-3 green chillies or fresh red chillies
1 tsp finely minced ginger
1 tsp finely minced garlic
1 large green bell pepper
1 large onion
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp corn flour
1/4 cup water
1 tsp rice vinegar
black pepper to taste

Marinade for the tofu
2 tbsp light soy sauce or 1 tbsp dark soy plus 1 tbsp water
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tbsp honey
big pinch of ground black pepper
1 tsp of rice vinegar or regular white vinegar

Coriander or spring onion greens for garnish
toasted sesame seeds (Optional)

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well, keep aside.
Place the tofu pieces in a large bowl. Pour the marinade over it and gently toss and coat well. 
Keep aside for 15 minutes at least and up to one hour in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile chop the bell pepper into long strips and the onion into thin slices or cut into quarters and peel each quarter into petals (like you see in the photo of the dish). 
Mix the 2 tsp corn flour, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/4 cup water to make a slurry, in a small bowl. Keep aside.
Place a wok on HIGH heat with the oil. Once the oil is hot, quickly stir in the green chillies, ginger garlic. Don't brown the garlic. Add the sliced veggies and stir fry on high flame for 5 minutes or so, with constant stirring, so it doesn't burn.
Next drain the marinated tofu and add it to the wok, toss it gently on medium flame for 2-3 minutes.
Add the leftover marinade plus the slurry and toss until it gets a well glazed look. Add the 1 tsp rice vinegar, give it a final stir and remove into a bowl.
Garnish with finely chopped coriander or spring onion batons and toasted sesame seeds.

If you want to serve with rice, use an extra tsp of cornflour and increase water to around half cup, simmer until a little thick, adjusting the seasoning accordingly. 
You *can* try this with paneer too, if you are still not convinced about tofu :)

Previous Indo-Chinese recipes in this month's series
How to make a vegetable stock in 30 minutes
Lemon-Coriander Soup

Next week: How to make a basic egg fried rice
This recipe is part of the endeavor to create a collection of recipes of Indian Chinese Recipes in collaboration with a few bloggers who share the same passion of cooking. All the recipes from #thekitchendivas are pinned on this Pinterest board. 

Other Indo-Chinese recipes this week from #thekitchendivas

Crab Rangoon from WhiskAffair
Gobi Manchurian from FunFoodFrolic
Vegetarian Rice Paper Spring Rolls from Archana's Kitchen

20 February 2015

{GARDEN TO PLATE} Radish Recipes: Moong Dal with Radish Greens & Quick Radish Salad

I love to grow radishes, more for the greens, than the radishes themselves. Fresh, pungent and full of goodness, I start snipping the leaves as and when they appear (not all, but some from each radish). Use them in salads, both raw and lightly wilted. They happily go into a Sambar and also pair with veggies like potatoes or carrots. Radish greens can also be sneaked into your kid's pasta along with basil and other greens :) You can also make a simple curry using the radish and the greens. 

Radish flowers with seeds forming in the pods
This recipe is a dry curry with moong dal, which I must confess, is not my favourite lentil to start with. It's a slimy thing and that slime that really destroy a dish. In this subzi, I do everything possible to keep the dal dry. No slime in my curry, thank you!

I used up the radish root in a crunchy pickle or salad, call it what you like. The pungency of the radish mellows down a bit while soaking in the spices for an hour and also gives it an ever so slight fermentation, that is absolutely great for your gut health. 

Radish Greens and Moong Dal Curry

Recipe for Moong Dal with Radish Greens 
Prep Time: 1 hour, includes soaking time | Cooking Time: 20-25 mins | Serves 3-4
Eat with roti / naan / steamed rice

3/4 cup split moong dal (small yellow lentils)
500 grams of radish greens* (just the leaves and tender stems)
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida
3 cloves garlic
3 dried red chillies
sprig of curry leaves
1 medium onion
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
to garnish- 1/4 cup freshly grated coconut or frozen (unsweetened)

Wash and soak the moong dal in plenty of water for an hour.
Wash the radish greens in 2-3 changes of water until thoroughly clean. Slice finely.
Crush and mince the garlic.
Peel, halve and finely slice the onion.

  • In a large pot (approx 3 Litre capacity), bring 1.5Litre water to a boil with a 1/2 tsp of salt. 
  • Meanwhile, drain the soaked moong dal and keep it ready. Add to the boiling water. 
  • Boil on high flame. Remove any scum with a slotted spoon and discard. 
  • After 5-6 minutes of boiling, check on the dal, it must be nearly cooked, but with a bite to it- something like the al-dente texture of cooked pasta. 
  • At this stage drain the nearly cooked dal well in a sieve and keep aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed pan / kadai / wok, heat the ghee. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. 
  • Once they splutter, add asafoetida, garlic, red chillies, curry leaves and stir around for 30 seconds. 
  • Add the sliced onion and stir on medium flame for 5 minutes until translucent. 
  • Add the finely sliced radish greens and stir fry on high flame. They will wilt in 2 minutes or so.
  • Add the drained nearly cooked moong dal to this, along with turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt and toss well but gently, taking care not to mash up the dal. 
  • Cover and steam cook for a couple of minutes allowing the dal to cook fully, but retain its shape. 
  • Pour lemon juice, give it a final stir. 
  • Garnish with fresh coconut and serve hot. 
*If you don't find radish greens, by all means use spinach, amaranth or any other local greens you can find. Do mind the cooking time of some greens like swiss chard or collard greens may be much longer, and may not fit this recipe well. 

Recipe for Instant Radish Pickle / Salad 
Prep time: 5-7 minutes | Inactive time: 1 hour | Cooking time: nil 
Serves 3-4 as a condiment 

2 small radishes 
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp white vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp paachphoron powder (if available)

Scrape or peel the radish. Chop into small cubes.
Add all the remaining ingredients. Rub the spices and seasoning well into the radish using fingertips. Cover and keep aside for an hour at least. Leaving this outside for one hour gives rise to a mild fermentation, which is good for health. While serving, drain off excess liquid with slotted spoon.
This is crunchy with tons of flavour. I have kept the salt low, but you can increase by 1/2 tsp for a better flavour.
If you have the whole paachphoron spices at home, just crush them lightly with mortar pestle or in a coffee grinder and then add to the salad for a stronger punch of flavour. 

16 February 2015

My experience with ChefKraft [Coupon Inside]

Coupon valid until 5 March, 2015

Ever wanted to cook up a fancy meal, but felt overwhelmed by the number of ingredients required? Also, specialty ingredients that cost a lot, sold in larger packages / bottles, makes one wonder about the cost effectiveness of it all, especially if you are not going to cook that particular cuisine regularly. How do you like the idea of a company home delivering you a foolproof recipe PLUS all the ingredients required to prepare it, all ready-to-cook?


This is where a company like ChefKraft aims to fill the gap. You can cook up a fancy menu, with all ingredients accurately measured out, cleaned, prepped and packed. All you need to do is cut open these packs and follow the recipe given in the accompanying cards. They have partnered with First Agro to get you the best quality pesticide free produce. The recipes for the menu have been created by chefs. You can browse through their menu  which is divided into Salads, Minis, Casual Dining and Main Course.

Ingredients for Thai Green Curry

Instead of the overhyped eating out on Valentine's Day, we decided to resort to ChefKraft menus. The husband was the designated cook, of course. He is a (very) occasional cook and will only cook if his life depended on it (or mine). He is also super-organised in his cooking, unlike me. Before you give too much credit to that, let me clarify that it is always possible to be precision driven and super organised when you cook only once in a while (I do hope he's not reading this!) He always ensures that the pans are ready, ingredients laid out etc. before he starts cooking. And me, I'm diametrically opposite (as all good wives should be). I first keep the pan on the hob and then proceed to open the refrigerator and then go hmm....what do I cook now? 

We asked for a Thai Green Curry - Jasmine rice- Lettuce Wraps menu and a stand alone salad to serve the 3 of us (once you have a kid, and until that kid grows up, Valentine dinners are always for 3, yes! Unless you have a retinue of family members or househelp to take care of the kid, and we have neither).  The package arrived on time. The ingredients were neatly packed in cardboard boxes (which the delivery person took back, I'm happy about this being recycled). The salad and other veggies came packed along with an ice pack to keep fresh. 

Husband's precision style cooking- with timer to calculate simmering time
Husband decided to have a go at (cooking) the curry and rice. The green curry paste, coconut milk, veggies, rice and herbs were all packed separately and all he needed to do was follow the recipe card and keep snipping open the right packet at the right time. The jasmine rice was the real deal. It was incredibly fragrant, and the kind of aroma that makes you want to dig into the food rightaway, even if it was just 5.30pm. I did manage to quell those cravings until dinner time somehow. 
Filling for the wraps in the making
The task of preparing the filling for the lettuce wraps was promptly transferred to me after the curry and rice were ready (husband is all for equal distribution of chores). I went about making it, feeling very 'cheffy', as though an invisible sous chef had prepped all the ingredients for me. The filling could be prepared in advance, and assembled into the iceberg lettuce leaves at the time of the meal.

We also got the green lentil salad with goat cheese. The salad base ingredients came packed in a recyclable box made from corn (which I was later informed). The dressing and cheese came in two different packs. I'm happy to report that it was real goat's cheese and not crumbled paneer masquerading as goat's cheese. The quantity of the cheese to go on the salad was also decent. The salad was said to serve 2 people and the quantity was more than generous.

Dishes are ready

Like they say, we first taste the food with our olfactory senses. The process of cooking itself held the promise of a great meal from the intense aromas that were swirling around our kitchen. 

Lentil Salad

The salad which I had mixed ahead had absorbed the flavours of the dressing and it was fresh. The quantity of dressing provided along with the salt and pepper was quite perfect, that I didn't have to make any adjustments to the seasoning. The goat cheese added a nice touch of gourmet to everyday ingredient like green moong, potato, raw mango and tomato, and the dressing gave it a good burst of flavour, along with the finely chopped parsley.

Filling for lettuce wraps
The filling for the lettuce wraps had bags of flavour from the Hoisin sauce and the ChefKraft secret sauce and a good crunch from the corn and bean sprouts. I did a quick taste of the tofu in its raw state, before cooking and it was clean tasting, with no funky smells or residual taste, indicating that it was of good quality. This filling inside an iceberg lettuce cup is such a healthy appetiser, and delicious to boot. I often make one such dish, but a raw salad kinda filling instead of a cooked one. 

Thai Green Curry with Jasmine Rice

The jasmine rice was SO aromatic that it got our appetite all revved up for the main course. The Thai green curry was perfectly balanced in terms of spice and flavour. I do wish they had included mushrooms and baby eggplant, apart from the other veggies included in the pack. The quantities would serve 2 good eaters quite generously. Since we ordered an extra salad in addition to this Thai menu, we had some curry and rice leftover too.

It's a great service for an occasional cook who finds it difficult to stock up on all ingredients as well an enthusiastic cook who finds it painful to source all the ingredients. The salad boxes can also be great to eat healthy at the workplace, where you get everything in a box, just pour the dressing, add seasoning, toss and eat. For corporates, it is worthwhile exploring delivery options with ChefKraft to make your employees eat healthier. The only downside, which I already discussed with ChefKraft was the use of lots of small plastic pouches to carry individual ingredients and I am happy that they are conscious of this and they are already on the lookout for alternatives.
If you want to be a chef, without even wielding a knife (just wield a pair of scissors) this is the service for you. Find the details below. You may follow them on the various social media platforms to keep abreast of new menus and other offers. 

Like all other cool things (umm, except traffic woes), this service is currently available only in BANGALORE. Sorry, the other cities will have to wait :) 

ChefKraft has been kind to offer a discount coupon to the readers of SaffronTrail. After you place your order, don't forget to use CFST2010 as the coupon code to get the discount on your first order. This coupon is valid until March 5, 2015. 

Website: Chefkraft.com
Twitter: @chefkraftindia
Instagram: @chefkraftindia

This product was sent to me complimentary from ChefKraft. I have shared an honest and unbiased account of my experience.

14 February 2015

Recipe for Lemon Coriander Soup | Indo-Chinese Recipes

Soups are a big deal in Indo-Chinese cuisine. The names listed on most menu cards of Indo-Chinese restaurants are sure to elicit a few laughs, thanks to their sheer entertainment quotient. Manchow Soup, Mein Chow Soup, Main Chow Soup, Manchou Soup - I have spent many a quiet moment pondering on the real spelling and pronunciation of Manchow soup. Not really, but you get my point, right?

 Now given that big food brands are using the word Manchow on their products, I suppose that is the spelling to be taken seriously. Since the Indo-Chinese cuisine is entirely homegrown, there are no set spellings or pronunciations. You cook it, you set the rules, like the little Chinese food cart on an Indian street in the pic above. They make the food in front of you, fast & furious and fresh and surely that counts for something.

Image Credit: @prats_39

Lemon-Coriander soup is another popular item listed in most Indo-Chinese menus. I like to think of it like a clear soup or a broth, perfect to sip on without killing your appetite for the main course, like it often happens with a big bowl of Mein Chow Manchow soup thickened with cornflour and topped with fried noodles. Do take some time out to make a vegetable stock, it makes all the difference to the flavour. I have written about a pressure cooker method to make a vegetable stock, that takes very little time as compared to the original simmer for an hour method, you can try that. There is no soya sauce, chili sauce or vinegar to call this an Indo-Chinese soup but given that it features in most such menus, I am including this as a part of our #thekitchendivas Indo-Chinese recipe series this month.

This soup has the delicate flavours from the stock and the vegetables. The carrot and squash give it a mild sweetness that balanced the lemon and the chili perfectly. Surely, something comforting to whet your appetite in the winters and a healthy dish to add to your repertoire for the other times of the year. 

Healthy Indo-Chinese Soup | Lemon Coriander Soup
Serves 3-4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

600 ml vegetable stock (unsalted)
1/4 cup finely diced Kabocha Squash* or any other squash / pumpkin
1/4 cup finely diced carrot (use red variety when in season)
1/4 cup finely diced French beans
3 fat cloves garlic, finely minced
1 green chili, finely minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
Juice of 1 big lemon


To make in Philips Soupmaker
Put all the ingredients except coriander and lemon into the jar.
Turn on the CHUNKY soup option.
In 20 minutes, the soup will be ready.
Pour into a serving bowl, add the chopped coriander and lemon juice. Mix well and it is ready to serve.

To make on stove top
Saute the garlic and vegetables in 1 tsp cooking oil for 1 minute or so. Add the stock, salt and cover and cook for 20 minutes or so, until the veggies are cooked. Remove into a bowl, mix in the coriander and lemon juice and serve hot.

This is a healthier version of lemon coriander soup, which is almost like a clear soup, and I haven't added the cornstarch slurry that is usually added in the end to thicken the soup. You can do that once the veggies are cooked, bring back to a simmer so that the cornflour is cooked and then it's ready to serve. 

*Kabocha Squash is a pumpkin variety that comes in white, light pink and orange colours. Here, it is grown by First Agro and available in Bangalore. 

Read my review of the Philips Soupmaker and do participate in the Giveaway from Philips which is on until end of the month. 

This recipe is part of the endeavor to create a collection of recipes of Indian Chinese Recipes in collaboration with a few bloggers who share the same passion of cooking. All the recipes from #thekitchendivas are pinned on this Pinterest board

Other Indo-Chinese recipes this week from #thekitchendivas