Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

3/4 cup crumbled firm tofu (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup ricotta (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 large egg
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium red bell peppers, cored and sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch-thick
3 cups marinara sauce (about 24 ounces)
6 ounces sliced provolone cheese,
Cooked egg noodles or other pasta, for serving
Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine tofu, ricotta, Parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, and mix until well combined. Add chicken and gently mix to incorporate. Lightly wet hands to prevent meatball mixture from sticking, then roll into 24 (1 1/2-inch) golf ball-size rounds.

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium. Add bell peppers, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add marinara sauce and meatballs, and stir gently to coat the meatballs in the sauce. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven to bake until meatballs are cooked through, 20 minutes.

Top with provolone slices, slightly overlapping, and bake until cheese melts, about 3 minutes longer.

Serve meatballs, peppers and sauce over egg noodles. Garnish with parsley, if using.

Note: The unexpected secret to these tender meatballs is tofu, which keeps them juicy. Simply press pieces of tofu between your fingertips to create small crumbles that resemble ground meat. The addition of ricotta creates a creamy texture, as well as great flavor. The meatballs are simmered in marinara sauce with red bell peppers, which infuse the sauce with fresh flavor and natural sweetness. Sharp and tangy provolone completes the dish, although mozzarella could be used for milder flavor. Enjoy over buttered egg noodles, or with crusty bread to sop up the sauce.

Golden Cauliflower Dal with Spinach and Coconut

1 cup split red lentils (masoor dal) see notes on “timing”
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons ghee (or for vegan use coconut oil) ( ***see note at bottom!)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2–3 fat shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ginger, grated or finely minced (or use ginger paste)
2–4 fresh or dried chilies (optional, for heat)
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 large head of cauliflower, broken into large florets (about 2 lbs), stems ok.
couple handfuls baby spinach

Cover the split lentils with 2 cups boiling water, set aside.

In an extra-large saute pan or Dutch oven, heat the ghee over medium heat, add the crushed coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and stir for one minute.

Add the shallots, garlic and ginger and optional chilies, and saute until fragrant and golden, lowering the heat to med-low, if need be, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and turmeric. Stir in the lentils along with the 2 cups of hot water. Add the salt and fenugreek. Give a good stir.

Add the coconut milk and stir to incorporate, then add the cauliflower florets, coating them well. Give the pan a shake to allow any lentils to slip back into the liquid. Increase heat, bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer gently over med-low heat, until lentils are softened and cauliflower is fork-tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove lid and let some of the liquid cook off, about 3-4 more minutes. Carefully stir in spinach. Taste, adjust seasonings. Add a squeeze of lemon if you like.

Garnish with cilantro or scallions and if you made the extra tempering oil ( see notes), spoon this over top before serving.

Serve with naan bread or basmati rice, or on its own in a bowl like a stew.


***For extra flavor (as is, this is “gently” spiced) create a tempering oil. Double the ghee and double the whole seeds. After sauteing the seeds in the oil or ghee, spoon half of this into a small bowl and set aside -to drizzle over the finished dish (this is the “tempering oil”) super tasty!

Timing: If your lentils seem extra-large, or your cauliflower florets seem extra small, cook the lentils a few minutes before adding the cauliflower, so the cauliflower doesn’t get overcooked. ****I used tiny lentils and extra-large florets.

You could also, roast off the cauliflower separately (toss with oil, salt and pepper at 400F until tender) and stir into the cooked lentils.

Spicy Peanut Stew With Ginger and Tomato

1 medium-size eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 to 2 jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 small (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably roasted
4 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup natural unsweetened peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 medium-size zucchini, 6 to 8 ounces, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced 1/2 -inch thick
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
Cooked rice, for serving
Chopped roasted salted peanuts, for garnish (optional)

In a colander, toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt; set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse, drain well and set aside. In a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne; set aside.

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and fry, stirring often, until soft, crisp and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a large bowl, leaving oil in pot.

Raise heat to high and add eggplant. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with shallots.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add ginger and chilies and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.

Add spices and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add onion and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add diced tomatoes, stock or water, eggplant, shallots and a sprinkling of salt. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Place peanut butter in a medium bowl, add one or two ladlefuls of hot soup, and stir until emulsified, then pour mixture back into soup.

Reduce heat to a simmer, add zucchini, cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Let cool slightly and taste; add salt if necessary. Serve in bowls with rice, garnished with cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts, if desired.

Coconut Milk Rice

2 cups rice (any fragrant rice)
1 1/2 cup coconut milk or (1 cup coconut chopped or grated + 1 ½ cup water)
2 cups Water (adjust as needed, you can use 1/4 cup more)
2 tsp ginger grated or crushed or paste or ginger garlic paste
1 to 2 green chili slit
1 medium carrots chopped (optional)
1 cup green peas frozen or fresh (optional)
6 beans chopped (optional)
2 tbsp oil , Ghee or butter
Salt as needed
Spices for coconut milk rice
1 bay leaf or tej patta
4 cardamoms or green cardamoms
6 cloves or laung
2 inch cinnamon piece or dalchini
1 tsp cumin or jeera
optional for garnish
10 cashews
4 tbsp Grated coconut or coconut flakes

Wash and soak rice for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Optional – Skip this step if you are using store bought coconut milk. Blend chopped coconut pieces with 1 1/2 cup water. Filter to extract the milk and use 1 1/2 coconut milk in the recipe.

Add ghee or butter to a cooker or pot. Fry cashews until golden. You can set aside if you like crunchy cashews.

To the same pan, add spices and fry till they turn fragrant. Add ginger paste and fry until it smells fragrant.

Add slit green chili, chopped vegetables and fry for 2 to 3 mins.
Pour the coconut milk along with the water and add salt. Taste and check the salt.

When the coconut milk begins to boil, add rice and mix well.

Cover and cook until fully done on a medium flame.

Little water can be sprinkled if rice is still not cooked well. If cooking in a pressure cooker, allow to whistle once.

Allow the coconut milk rice to rest for 15 mins then fluff it up with a fork.

Toast the coconut until golden and garnish it over the rice. You can also garnish with cashews.

South Indian Coconut Rice (Thengai Sadam)

1 cup uncooked rice (any kind, or 3 to 4 cups cooked rice)
1 to 1 1/2 cup coconut grated (fresh or frozen) (adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1 to 2 green chili (slit or chopped)
1 dried red chili (broken to 2 pieces) (optional)
2 tablespoons oil or ghee
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 tablespoon chana dal (bengal gram)
1/2 tablespoon urad dal (skinned split black lentils)
1 teaspoon ginger (fine chopped)
12 to 15 cashewnuts or peanuts

Wash rice at least thrice and drain the water. If using basmati rice, soak it for 20 to 30 mins.

To cook rice in pot, bring 2 cups water to a rolling boil and add the rice. Cook covered on a low heat until fully done but not mushy.

To pressure cook basmat rice, pour 1¾ cups water & pressure cook for 1 whistle. To pressure cook normal rice, pour 2 cups & pressure cook for 2 whistles. The rice must be grainy and not mushy. When the pressure releases, open the lid.

Fluff up the cooked rice with a fork and cool completely.

Slit the green chilies, fine chop ginger, and grate the coconut. If using frozen coconut, break up the lumps and loosen the coconut.

Making coconut rice:

Pour 2 tablespoons ghee or oil to a pan and heat it.

Fry cashews or peanuts until golden. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chilli, chana dal and urad dal. Saute them and fry until the dals turn golden and aromatic.
Then add ginger, slit green chilli & curry leaves. Saute for 30 to 60 seconds until the curry leaves turn crisp. Add hing.

Optional – Quickly pour 2 to 3 tablespoons water to the pan. This will soften the dals and bring out the flavors of the ginger and curry leaves. If you want your dal to be very soft, then you can add little more water. Cook until all of the water evaporates.
Then add fresh coconut and sprinkle salt on it. Then add rice. Off the heat. If using frozen coconut, then saute the coconut a bit until it becomes hot. Then add the rice.

Mix well and taste test. Add more salt if needed. Serve coconut rice with a simple curry or plain yogurt.

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (Fish Fragrant Eggplant or Yuxiang Qiezi)

For the sauce mixture:
1 tablespoon spicy bean paste (douban la jiang)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon fish sauce

For the rest of the dish:
2-3 Japanese eggplants (about 6 cups)
2 scallions (cut into 2-inch lengths)
3 tablespoons oil
4 oz. ground pork (110g; ground chicken or ground turkey can also be substituted, or it can be left out entirely)
2 thin slices ginger (julienned)
10 dried red chilies
4 cloves garlic (finely minced)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Wash the eggplants, cut the ends off and slice them into equal sized pieces. After slicing, separate the green and white portions of the scallions into roughly two piles.

Over very high heat, heat a tablespoon of oil in your wok. Add half of the eggplant and let it sear until brown on all sides. You can lower the heat if it looks like they’re starting to burn. You want to cook the eggplant for about 5 minutes until they start to get soft and have a nice sear. Take this first batch of eggplant out of the pan, heat a second tablespoon of oil, and do the same with your second batch. Set all the cooked eggplant aside on a plate.

Set the heat to medium high and add the last tablespoon of oil to the wok, along with the ground pork. After the pork has browned, add the ginger and cook for a minute to let it crystalize with the pork. Stir in the whole red chili peppers and the minced garlic, and after a minute, turn the heat back up to high. Add the eggplant back in, along with the stir-fry sauce, the white parts of the scallions, and the shaoxing wine. Stir-fry everything together for another 2 minutes, making sure everything is well-combined.

Toss in the rest of the scallions and stir-fry for another 20 seconds. Plate and serve immediately with white rice.

Chickpea Vegetable Soup With Parmesan, Rosemary and Lemon

1 whole clove
1/2 onion, sliced root to stem so it stays intact, peeled
1 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1 sprig rosemary, plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, more to taste
1 small Parmesan rind, plus 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
2 medium carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Insert the clove into the onion. Put the onion in a large pot with the chickpeas, rosemary sprig, garlic, bay leaves, olive oil, salt and cheese rind. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about an hour, or until chickpeas are tender.

Add the tomatoes, carrots and celery, cover loosely, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes longer. While soup simmers, mix the chopped rosemary, grated Parmesan, lemon zest and pepper in a small bowl.

Season the soup to taste and ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan mixture.

Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew

1/2 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley leaves and tender stems
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
2 (10-ounce) containers cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons and more for drizzling (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 (15-ounce) cans white beans (such as butter or cannellini), rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, or water
Flaky salt, for serving (optional)
Toasted bread, for serving

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, gently toss together the parsley and lemon zest with your hands until well combined; set aside.

In a large baking dish or on a sheet pan, toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup oil and thyme; season well with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until they have collapsed and begin to turn golden around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.

When the tomatoes are almost done roasting, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large (12-inch), deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium. Add the onion, garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook until the onion is softened and the garlic is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the rinsed beans and broth and bring to a simmer. With the back of a spoon or spatula, gently smash about 1/2 cup of the beans so they slightly thicken the broth. If you want a thicker stew, crush some more of the beans. Season with salt and pepper.
When the tomatoes are finished roasting, add them directly to the stew along with any juices that have been released. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more so the flavors become friendly; season to taste with salt.

Ladle into shallow bowls. Top each serving with some of the lemon-parsley mixture and drizzle with some more olive oil, and season with flaky salt, if you like. Serve with toasted bread.

Reader ideas:

Add sage and swiss chard.

Add tomato paste for a richer flavor and red color (as was shown in tbe picture).

Add sausage.

Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles

1 pound noodles, frozen or fresh (use less if using dried or this won’t be enough sauce)
2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus a splash
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (not tahini)
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste, chile crisp or chile oil, or to taste
Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch by 2-inch sticks
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. They should retain a hint of chewiness. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili-garlic paste.

Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with cucumber and peanuts.

The Chinese sesame paste called for here is made of toasted sesame seeds; it is not the same as tahini, the Middle Eastern paste made of plain, untoasted sesame. But you could use tahini in a pinch. You need only add a little toasted sesame oil to compensate for flavor, and perhaps some peanut butter to keep the sauce emulsified.

Reader ideas:

Skip the noodles altogether and put the delicious sauce on veggies and tofu.

Make 50 percent more sauce and serve with choice of condiments: cshredded duck or chicken, tofu, cucumber, sweet red pepper, hot pepper, scallion, jicama, and so on. Keep them all about the same size with shredding or julienne.

Garnish with cucumber but also a large mound of fresh beans sprouts, grilled chicken or tofu, cherry tomatoes, black radishes, snow peas & anything else that comes to hand.

In cold weather, add the dressed noodles to a bowl of hot soup stock flavored with garlic, sliced coins of fresh ginger, dried shrimp to chase away the blues and the sniffles of dark cold winter days.

Add broccoli, carrots, red peppers, scallions, peapods, bean sprouts, etc.

Add chicken or shrimp.

Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee’s The Chinese Cookbook for 2 to 4 servings, from 4 ounces of fine egg noodles, calls for: 1/4 cup sesame paste 3 T brewed tea or water 2 T hot oil (Optional, but if you want spicy, it’s got to be there) 3 T light soy sauce (that is, the regular kind) 3 T red wine vinegar 2 tsp sugar salt 1/4 tsp MSG (optional) [this recipe dates from 1972!] 1/4 cup peanut oil 2 T chopped garlic 1 T sesame oil.

Pressure Cooker Khichdi with Mixed Lentils and Vegetables

2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon ginger
1 carrot peeled and sliced
1/4 cup green beans chopped
1/4 cup frozen green peas
1 red potato cubed
1 tomato diced
1 cup cauliflower chopped
1 cup cabbage chopped
1 cup spinach chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup white rice
1 cup mixed lentils moong, masoor, toor and chana daal
6 cups water
1/4 cup cilantro chopped, for garnish

Turn the Instant Pot to Saute Mode and heat ghee. Add cumin seeds and ginger.

Cook for 30 seconds. Add all the vegetables – carrots, beans, peas, tomato, potato, cauliflower, cabbage, and spinach.

Add turmeric, red chili powder, and salt. Mix well.

Next add the rice and mixed lentils. Add 6 cups of water. Give a quick stir and close the Instant Pot lid with the pressure valve to Sealing.

Press the rice button followed by natural pressure release. (Note, for short-grained rice, I dropped the Breville rice pre-set to three minutes. This gave a nice mushy texture that could be thinned for a porridgy texture.

Open the Instant Pot and garnish with cilantro.

Serve hot with roasted papad and pickle.

Substitute the 4 different lentils with any lentils you may have on hand. It could be just 1 cup of moong daal or 1/2 cup of moong daal and 1/2 cup of chana daal. Just make sure you use 1 cup of lentils.

You can use any combination of vegetables. Just make sure to add about 4 cups of chopped veggies. Frozen mixed vegetables also work well in this recipe.

The water ratio in this recipe is 3 times the rice and lentils together which makes a soft, porridge-like consistency for the final dish. To make dry-ish khichdi reduce the water to 4 cups.

Gochujang-Glazed Eggplant With Fried Scallions

1 pound Asian eggplant (about 3 large; preferably Korean, or Chinese or Japanese), halved lengthwise and cut into 4- to 5-inch segments
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons gochujang
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 packed teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1/2 cup olive oil
4 scallions, trimmed, cut into 3-inch segments, then very thinly sliced lengthwise, white and green parts separated

Place the eggplant in a colander set inside a large bowl or the sink. Sprinkle with the salt, toss to combine and let sit for 30 minutes to remove excess moisture.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the gochujang, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic. Whisk to combine, then set aside.
To a large nonstick skillet, add the olive oil and the white parts of the scallions. Turn the heat to medium and fry the scallions, stirring often, until crispy and evenly browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried scallions onto a paper towel.

Reserve a small handful of raw scallion greens for garnish, then fry the remaining scallion greens in the oil until crispy and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer fried scallion greens onto a paper towel.

Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully pour the hot scallion oil into a glass container or measuring cup.

After the 30 minutes of salting, dry the eggplant segments with a paper towel. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the reserved scallion oil.

When the oil starts to shimmer and you see a wisp of smoke, add half the eggplant, cut sides down, and fry until browned and starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip once and cook another minute on the other side. Transfer to a plate, add 2 more tablespoons of scallion oil back to the pan, and repeat to fry the second batch of eggplants. (If you are lucky enough to have any scallion oil left, use it to fry eggs or to dress a salad.)

Finally, sauce the eggplants: Add the first batch of eggplants back to the pan alongside the second batch. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour the reserved gochujang sauce over the eggplants. Toss until evenly coated and the gochujang starts to caramelize, about 1 minute.

Plate the eggplants on a large platter and garnish with the fried scallions and the reserved raw scallion greens. Serve immediately. (To store for later, transfer to a resealable container and keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. This dish tastes great cold, straight out of the fridge, or at room temperature.)

Tomato-Butter Pasta

Kosher salt
1 pound wavy or ridged pasta (like cavatappi or rigatoni), or a long noodle (like fettuccine)
2 pounds large, ripe tomatoes (about 2 to 3), halved horizontally
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
Black pepper
Torn basil leaves, for serving (optional)
Finely grated Parmesan, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, using the large holes of a box grater, grate the cut ends of the tomato into a large bowl. Discard or compost skins. Grate the butter into the bowl as well. Using the small holes of the box grater, grate the garlic into the bowl. Add the red-pepper flakes, and season generously with salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Return the drained pasta and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to the pot, along with the bowl of grated tomato and butter. Set over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and glosses the pasta, 2 to 3 minutes (the sauce will thicken as it sits). Add more pasta water as needed to emulsify the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with more red-pepper flakes, black pepper, basil and Parmesan as desired.

Pressure Cooker Chickpea Coconut Curry

1/4 cup water or broth or use 1 tsp oil
1/2 onion chopped
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 hot green chili ,chopped (such as serrano, jalapeno) or use mild chili or omit
1 tsp each ground cumin, , ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp each cinnamon , ground cardamom
1/3 tsp cayenne or to taste
1/4 tsp grouond sage or dried oregano
1 red bell pepper ,chopped or sliced
1 tbsp minced ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup dry uncooked chickpeas ,soaked for atleast 30 mins in boiling hot water (4 hours to overnight soaking works best)
13.5 oz can coconut milk , reserve 2 tbsp for garnishing
1 cups water ,depends on curry consistency preference., use 1/2 cup for thicker, 1.5 cups for soupier
lemon/lime juice , cilantro, pepper flakes for garnish

Press saute on the Instant Pot. Add onion, garlic, chili and a good pinch of salt. Cook for 3 to 4 mins until translucent. Deglaze with more broth if needed. (See notes for saucepan)

Add the spices and mix in. (You can add spice blends of choice here such as curry powder, garam masala, berbere or jamaican curry powder, or curry pastes instead of listed spices).

Add the bell pepper and ginger and mix in. Drain the chickpeas and add to the pot. Add salt, coconut milk and water and give it a good mix to pick up any stuck bits.

Cancel saute, Close the lid to sealing. Pressure cook at high pressure for 40 to 45 mins (30 mins for overnight soak)**. Let the pressure release naturally then open the lid.

Taste and adjust salt and flavor, add more spices if needed. If the mixture is thin, Mash some of the chickpeas to thicken or blend half cup of the curry and mix in, saute for a few mins if needed. (Fold in some baby spinach at this point while the chickpeas are still hot).

Garnish with lemon, pepper flakes, remaining coconut milk and cilantro and serve over rice or grains.

Saucepan (dried chickpeas): Soak the chickpeas overnight or atleast 4 hours and drain. Follow steps 1,2,3 in a saucepan over medium heat. Add only half the salt, add 1 to 1.5 cups water. Cook partially covered for 50 minutes. Then check the chickpeas for doneness. Add more salt, more water if needed and continue to cook for another 10-15 mins.

Saucepan(canned/pre-cooked) chickpeas: Follow steps 1,2,3 in a saucepan over medium heat. Add only 1/4 cup water and 2.5 cups cooked chickpeas. Partially cover and cook for 20 mins. Taste and adjust flavor, mash some chickpeas to thicken and serve.

Instant Pot (Canned Chickpeas): Follow steps 1,2.3. Use just 1/4 cup water, 2.5 to 3 cups cooked chickpeas and pressure cook for 5 mins.

Variations: Use other beans such as brown chickpeas (pressure cook 50 mins), black eyed peas(pressure cook 30 mins), kidney beans or white beans(pressure cook for 45 mins).
Add a cup of chopped tomatoes with the chickpeas.

** times are for creamy curry with soft chickpeas. Chickpeas that are just done have a bite and clash with the creamy profile i am going for. Adjust the times based on preference if needed.

Nepali Aloo

3 medium potatoes chopped this dish is usually made with baby potatoes
3 serano peppers chillies sliced into thin long slices
2 inch ginger sliced into thin long slices
5 cloves garlic sliced into thin long slices
2 teaspoons vinegar or more for a more sour taste
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 cup oil to fry
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Chop the potatoes and shallow or deep fry them.

Fry the sliced chillies, ginger and garlic.

In a large pan with a little oil on medium heat, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds.

Add the potatoes, chillies, ginger, garlic, turmeric and salt and mix well.

add in the vinegar and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Serve hot with rotis or naan.

Patta Gobi Chile (Cabbage and Chickpeas)

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
pinch of asofetida
1 bay leaf
1 dried red chilli
2 teaspoons oil
1 serrano pepper chopped thinly
1 inch ginger chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 green cabbage chopped
16 oz can garbanzo beans strained
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 cup cilantro leaves for garnish

In a large pan, heat the oil on medium heat till hot.

Add in the mustard seeds and let sputter.

Add in the cumin seeds, coriander powder, asofetida and turmeric and let roast for a minute.

Add in the red chilli, bay leaf, serano pepper, ginger and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add in the strained garbanzo beans and mix well.

Cook covered on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Mix well again and let cook for another 3 minutes.

Add in the chopped cabbage and salt and mix well.

Cook on medium low heat, covered for 10 minutes.

Stir it well and check after another 10 minutes if the cabbage is soft enough.

Cook for another 10 minutes.

Garnish it with fresh cilantro leaves and serve hot with rotis or naan and a Garlic Papad!

Adraki Gobi Aloo (Cauliflower and Potatoes with Ginger)

1/2 medium cauliflower 2+ cups
2 medium white potatoes chopped into small cubes
1 Serrano chili pepper or to taste
2 inch ginger chopped use less if you dont like ginger
1 garlic clove chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric haldi
pinch of asafetida hing
salt to taste 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 cup cilantro leaves chopped
1 Tablespoon oil

In a pan, add oil and heat it at medium heat for 2 minutes.
Add in cumin seeds and wait until they start sputtering.

Add in the asafetida(hing), coriander powder and turmeric and mix well.

Add in the chopped ginger, garlic and serrano pepper and let them cook for 5 minutes.

Add in the potatoes chopped into small pieces and mix well and cook for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally.

Break the cauliflower into florets and chop some of the bigger florets to form smaller pieces.

Add in the cauliflower florets and salt and mix well.

Reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 15-20 minutes stirring every 4-5 minutes.

Potatoes should be soft when done.

Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with rotis or Naan.

Imli Chile (Sweet and Sour Chickpeas with Tamarind)

15 oz can garbanzo beans/chickpeas drained and washed or 1 cup dry chickpeas washed and soaked overnight
2 teaspoons oil
1 small onion chopped
1/4 teaspoon asofetida (hing – omit to make gluten-free)
1 teaspoon ginger paste or a Tablespoon chopped ginger
2 teaspoon garlic paste or 2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes or more for a spicier version
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon cloves powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of tamarind concentrate or 2 teaspoon of tamarind pulp (less or more according to taste to adjust the sourness)
1.5-2 cups water
1/2 tsp chaat masala or amchur for garnish

In a pressure cooker or a deep pan, add the oil and keep it on medium heat.

Add in the onions and the asofetida(hing) and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (you can puree the onions after this and cook the puree for another 6-7 minutes and proceed with the next steps. This will help make a thicker curry).

Add in the spices, ginger garlic paste, red chili flakes and mix well. Cook for another 3 minutes.

Add in the washed chickpeas, salt, sugar, tamarind concentrate and water and mix well.

Pressure cook the beans for 10 minutes if using canned beans, and 20 minutes once the pressure has reached ( 3 to 4 whistles), if using dry beans that were soaked. (cook longer if you want softer beans).

If cooking in a deep pan, add another half cup water, cover and cook on low-medium heat until chickpeas are tender. about 30 minutes.

Wait for the pressure in the pressure cooker to release naturally before opening. Check and adjust salt and spice according to taste. Mash the beans a little bit. Sprinkle chaat masala or Amchur(dry mango) powder.

Serve hot with Naan or Rotis, or as topping for chaat snacks.

Edamame Kara Kuzambu (South Indian Edamame Curry)

2 teaspoons safflower or any neutral oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal split black gram, or use petite yellow lentils
10 curry leaves coarsely chopped
Pinch asafetida omit to make gluten-free
1/2 cup chopped red onion or pearl onions
4 cloves garlic chopped
2 medium tomatoes chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon sambhar powder or use 2 teaspoons ground coriander *
1 teaspoon tamarind paste concentrate
3/4 teaspoon cayenne or to taste
1 1/2 cups edamame fresh or thawed if frozen, or other fresh or cooked beans like fava beans, butter beans, or lima beans
3/4 cup coconut milk canned or culinary
1 cup or more water
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard, fennel, and fenugreek seeds, and the urad dal. Cook until the seeds start to sizzle and the urad dal changes color, about 30 seconds. Stir in the curry leaves and asafetida.

Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomato, sambhar powder, tamarind, and cayenne, and mix well. Cook until the tomatoes are saucy, 6 to 7 minutes.

Add the edamame, coconut milk, water, and salt. Cover and cook until the edamame are tender, about 25 minutes. Taster and adjust salt, heat (cayenne), tang (add lemon juice if needed). For thinner curry, add more water and bring to a boil. Serve hot with Dosa crepes, idli rice cakes or over rice.

Pressure Cooker/ Instant Pot: Follow steps 1 to 3 on saute mode. Add the edamame, coconut milk, water, and salt and cook for 6 to 8 minutes at high pressure. Natural release. Taste and adjust salt, tang and heat.

* Sambhar powder is a South Indian spice blend of coriander seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek, red chilies, urad dal and toor dal. It is easily available in Indian stores or online. Or find the recipe in my cookbook.

Kolhapuri Vegetables (Vegetables in Sesame Coconut Tomato Sauce)

Kolhapuri Masala:
1 tsp Coriander Seeds
2 tsp Sesame seeds
1/2 tsp Poppy seeds
1/2 tsp Black pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
4 dried red chilies cayenne or arbol for hot and california red or 1-2 guajillo for mild
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg powder
1/2 tsp or more paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 medium onion roughly chopped
2 tomatoes roughly chopped
1 inch ginger
5 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp salt

2 cups cauliflower
1.5 cups sweet potato
1.5 to 2 cups other veggies carrots green beans, green peas etc
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1.5 to 2 cups water
salt cayenne to preference

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add all ingredients coriander seeds through cumin and roast for 2 to 3 minutes or until they start to change color. Add the chilies and coconut and continue to roast for a minute or until coconut starts to change color. Take off heat and mix in the nutmeg, paprika and cinnamon. Cool slightly and grind to a coarse powder in a spice grinder or small blender.

Add the sauce ingredients to a blender along with the ground spice mixture from above. Add a tbsp or so water and blend until smooth.

Heat 1 tsp oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the blended sauce mixture and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the garlic doesnt smell raw and the sauce thickens and changes color. Stir occasionally. You can store this sauce to use later at this point(in the fridge for upto 3 days).

Meanwhile, combine the veggies except bell pepper, in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Add 1/2 tsp salt and cayenne to preference. Cover partially and Cook over medium hot until the veggies are al dente. (15 to 20 minutes). Fold in the bell pepper and peas in the last 5 mins. Add greens or cooked beans at this point if using.

Combine the cooked sauce mixture from Step 3 and cooked veggies and mix well. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until desired consistency. Mash some of the veggies. Taste and adjust slat and heat and mix in. Garnish with cilantro and lemon and serve with crackers, toasted dinner rolls, garlic bread or flatbread.

Instant Pot:
Make the sauce on saute mode or in a separate skillet (step 1 to 3 above). Once the sauce is cooked, combine the sauce, chopped veggies, 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt with 1 to 1.5 cups of water and Pressure cook for 14 to 15 minutes (manual) in an Instant pot or electric pressure cooker , Or 6 to 7 mins in a Stove top pressure cooker once the pressure has reached. Let the pressure release naturally, open, taste and adjust salt, garnish with cilantro and lemon. If there is too much liquid, cook on saute for a few mins to reduce.

For added protein, add cooked chickpeas or other beans along with the veggies when combining with the sauce.

For deeper flavor in the masala blend, add a generous pinch of ground cardamom and cloves as well.

Use 2 to 3 tbsp of premade Kolhapuri spice blend.

Make ahead: Make the sauce till step 3 and store refrigerated. Pre cook the veggies by blanching or roasting until al dente. To serving, toss the veggies into the sauce and simmer for 7 to 8 mins. Add a bit of water if needed. Or to serve, combine the stored cooked sauce, veggies, 1 cup water in an instant pot and cook for 14 mins on manual.

Charchari (Bengali Mixed Vegetables)

1.5 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp or more turmeric
1/4 cup or more water
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup chopped potato
1/2 to 1 cup chopped green beans
1 cup chopped pumpkin or squash or sweet potato
1/2 cup green peas fresh or thawed if frozen
1/2 tsp or more salt
1 tsp oil
1 tsp Panch Phoron Or use 1/4 tsp each of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, nigella seeds, and 1/8 tsp each of fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds
1/8 tsp asafetida omit to make gluten-free or use certified gluten-free asafetida
2 green chills chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sugar or other sweetener to taste

Mix the turmeric and mustard powder in 1/4 cup water and add to a skillet over medium heat. Add the veggies except peas to the skillet and mix. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Add peas, salt, mix, Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the tempering. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add panch phoron spices and let the spices start to pop. 2 mins. (use a lid if the spices pop out too much).

Add asafetida and green chilies and cook for a minute or until the chilies are golden.

Add this tempering to the skillet with cooking veggies and mix in well. Add in sugar and mix. Taste and adjust salt and spice. Add some cayenne if needed for heat. Add a splash of water if the veggies are sticking. Cover and cook for another few minutes or until the veggies are done to preference. Cook uncovered if too wet.

Garnish with cilantro and lemon (optional). Serve as a side in Indian meal or in a bowl with Dal and rice or flatbread.

Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot: Add the first 7 ingredients and 1/4 tsp salt to a pressure cooker/IP and cook at manual low pressure for 4 mins. Meanwhile, make the tempering(steps 3 and 4). Quick release, add the tempering, 1/4 tsp salt and peas and saute for a few minutes. Taste and adjust salt and heat.