At work, we have ample occasions when we go out for team lunches. It is a good opportunity to get away from work, relax and connect with colleagues. The tricky part is to come up with a place that suits everybody’s taste palettes. With people from different nationalities working together; it’s a challenge to agree on common cuisine. But then one cuisine that many of us agree upon is the Thai cuisine which has good offering for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
Luckily there is no dearth of Thai restaurants in our area and we have taken it upon ourselves to explore as many restaurants as possible. Each restaurant has its specialty, be it Pad Thai, Yellow Curry, Green Curry, basil noodles etc all Thai specialties. There is one restaurant that makes the best peanut sauce dressing (for Thai salad) and a sweet sour vegetable dish which I enjoy the most.
I love this combination of sweet, spicy sauce cooked along with bounty of veggies. First of all you feel good eating all the veggies and then by the time you are done eating 3-4 spoonfuls of rice you start feeling filled. Well, it is a good way to restrict the amount of rice if you counting the carbohydrates in your diet.
This is a good side dish, suitable for accompanying plain steamed rice. For this dish the sour comes from vinegar and the sweet from the sugar and chilli sauce. I like making this sauce little spicy compared to the ones we get at the restaurants. But this is balanced by the combination of sweet and sour.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ¼ cup thinly rounded carrots
- 1 small bell pepper, diced
- ¼ cup chopped chestnuts
- ¼ cup broccoli
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp sriracha sauce
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 3-5 basil leaves
- In a large bowl, mix together the cornstarch and vegetable broth until the corn starch dissolves.
- To the same add vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and cayenne pepper until well mixed. Keep aside.
- Heat a large skillet or wok, add oil and then garlic, onion, and pepper.
- After a minute add the soy sauce, broccoli, chestnuts, carrots stir fry for about 5 minutes, until carrots begin to soften.
- Now add the vegetable broth mix to the veggies and cook until mixture thickens (about 4-5 minutes).
- Serve with warm rice, sprinkle some crushed peanuts and enjoy!
Be it the stuffed eggplant/brinjal (bharlele vaingan), stuffed capsicum, stuffed karela there is something interesting and special about these recipes. It gives one a feeling that lot of time and effort has been put while making the dish.
Having grown up in a Konkani household, most of the stuffing that I know of is prepared using ground coconut masala. Traditionally stuffed Bhindi is prepared based on this curry, with a thicker version of the masala called ‘Maasaolu’.
Anyway, few weeks ago it was close to the weekend and I had only about a handful of these vegetables waiting to be used. The quantity was not sufficient to make the regular Bhindi Fry and. Added to that I ran out of coconut and so I was forced to look for other options. Few searches later, I narrowed down to this Bharvan Bhindi recipe by Vahchef.
I love this versatile masala, as this does not involve any roasting or grinding. The ingredients are one’s found in the pantry and so do not require the time consuming prep work. You can change the ingredients for the masala as per your taste.
This masala can be used with other vegetables like brinjal, karela/bitter gourd or tindora.
Recipe Source: Adapted from Bharvan Bhindi
- 15-20 fresh tender bhendi/okra/lady’s finger
- 1 cup onion (chopped thin lengthwise)
- Chopped Coriander leaves for garnish
- 4-5 curry leaves
Masala/ Spice powder for stuffing
- 4 Tbsp sambhar powder
- 1 Tbsp dry mango / amchur powder
- ½ tsp fennel seeds powder/saunf (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Red chilli powder (if required)
- 1 Tbsp Besan/gram flour
- Juice of half lemon
Masala paste: In a bowl add all the dry ingredients and mix. Add the lemon juice and water little by little to make a thick paste. Keep aside.
- Now wash the okra and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper.
- Cut off the two ends and using the same knife, make a slit lengthwise on one side of the okra, without cutting through it. Do the same procedure with all of them and keep them aside.
- Stuffing: Gently open the slit on a okra, take a spoonful of the masala paste and stuff slowly lengthwise, so that the whole opening is covered. Continue the procedure with remaining okras.
- Take a deep pan/kadhai and heat 2 tbsp oil, and then add the stuffed okras (masala side up) to it one by one. Do not stack over each other.
- On medium flame, cook the okra till the part below turns light brown and then flip it over until it turns brown evenly.
- Add the slit onions, curry leaves and continue to cook for a while stirring in between.
- Add the chopped coriander leaves and stir again.
- Serve hot with Rotis or Daal-yogurt rice.
Pithla is spiced gravy made out of Besan (Chickpea flour). It is a quick recipe to have on hand when you are out of vegetables or want to cook something quick and easy. The combination of Pitla Bhakri or Jhunka Bhakri is famous in North Karnataka and parts of Maharashtra. The dry version of Pithla is known as Jhunka/ Zunka.
My mom used to make this for breakfast along with Jowar Bhakri and garlic (lassuni) chutney. Growing up I never liked this much especially with rice and I would come up with ‘creative’ excuses to avoid this dish. But then recently a colleague of mine had brought this for lunch to eat along with Rotis and I loved the taste. I could not wait to try this out at home.
Since besan has a bland taste, I made this spicy by adding more garlic and green chillies. You can add red chili powder if you prefer, but that will change the color of this dish. Adding spinach is optional and you can substitute with methi/fenugreek leaves or add more coriander leaves if you wish. Pithla goes well with Bhakri, or Roti or even rice.
Note: Pithla tastes good when it is piping hot. It is better to use this in one go. Storing in the fridge and then re-heating multiple times is not recommended.
- 4 Tbsp besan (gram flour)
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 3-4 Green chilies
- 2-3 garlic pods (peeled)
- 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
- 3 cups of packed spinach leaves (cleaned, stem removed and chopped)
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 2 strands of coriander leaves
- Asafetida/hing (a pinch)
- Turmeric powder (a pinch)
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- Salt to taste
- Juice of ½ lemon (optional)
- Take a bowl, add the besan/gram flour, turmeric and stir in water until it has buttermilk like consistency. Makes sure there are no lumps. Keep aside.
- Crush together garlic pods and green chillies and keep aside.
- Heat oil in pan/kadai. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafetida and when they splutter add the coarsely ground green chilli-garlic paste.
- Add the chopped onions and fry until they become translucent. Add the chopped spinach, salt and mix until it is cooked.
- Add the besan liquid to this and keep stirring continuously. After a while the water dries and the besan starts becoming thick. Check for salt and seasonings.
- Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice.
- Serve hot with Bahkri, Chapathis or with Rice.