6 Delicious Recipes to Try Before You Bid Goodbye to the Indian Monsoon

By Kaveri Jain

Sitting in my balcony surrounded by luscious green trees, I sip my hot ginger lemon tea, my thoughts a pendulum between the enchanting raindrops and my endless love for food. I fall in love with both, everyday these days. The delight they bring is unparalleled in distinct ways, yet there is a similar sense of fulfillment.

I was eight years old when I fell under the spell of our maharaj (old cook) rolling out perfectly round, thin rotis. He did it in such a way that it seemed as if the roti was moving in a circular direction and not the rolling pin. My childhood favourite was the dark green pista barfi made at home; the aroma still haunts me.

Born and brought up in Delhi, I studied at Mater Dei Convent and later graduated in English from Hindu College in Delhi University. I got married while in college, and still managed to do my post-grad in advertising. Then my daughter was born in 2000, and three years later, my son. My home became my workplace, and motherhood became a full-time career, though I do paint and write on my blog from time to time.

Cooking is, of course, my oldest love. I made my first full meal singlehandedly at the age of 15. My mother had been hospitalised and lunch had to be sent for her. I decided to do it on my own. Everyone in the hospital was surprised. Today, my son shows the same spark – he will probably carry the torch forward!

Bidding goodbye to the rainy season for the year, these are some of my monsoon favourites.

VEGETARIAN RICE PAPER ROLLS

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Ingredients (serves 5):

½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 long fresh red chilli, halved, deseeded, finely chopped
250ml (1 cup) water
80ml (1/3 cup) coconut milk
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
200gms paneer, 5 thick slices
1 carrot, peeled, cut into matchsticks
1 thinly sliced (long thin) red bell pepper
50 gms bean sprouts
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon caster sugar
25g rice vermicelli noodles
5 round (22cm-diameter) rice-paper sheets
Lettuce leaves
Handful of fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts, extra, coarsely chopped

Method:

Process the peanuts in a food processor until a coarse paste forms. Heat half the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook the garlic and chilli, stirring, until aromatic. Add the peanuts, water, coconut milk and hoisin sauce. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Set aside to cool.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium frying pan. Cook the paneer for a few minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and sugar. Set aside to cool.

Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 5 minutes to soften. Drain. Soak 1 rice-paper sheet in water for 30 seconds or until soft. Place on a clean work surface. Place 1 lettuce leaf in the centre of the rice-paper sheet. Top with a thick slice of paneer, followed by carrots, bell pepper, cucumber and bean sprouts.

Top it with some peanut sauce, the noodles and mint leaves. Fold in the ends and roll up firmly to enclose the filling. Repeat with the remaining rice-paper sheets to make 5 rice-paper rolls.

Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the chopped peanut. Serve with the peanut sauce.

 

KHAO SUEY

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Ingredients (serves 2):

1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
½ cup broccoli florets, parboiled
½ cup green beans chopped, parboiled
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup tofu, diced into bite size pieces
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1.5 tbsp Thai red curry paste
300 ml coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
8-10 peanuts roughly chopped
40 gms noodles – of your choice (I used egg noodles)
Handful of roughly chopped cilantro
Lemon wedges for serving
1 chopped green chilly (optional)
1 boiled egg (optional)

Method:

In a bowl add tofu, turmeric and little salt. Stir to mix well so that all the tofu pieces are coated well. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Boil the noodles and keep aside.

In a large wok or a pan, heat oil. Add sliced onions, stirring continuously till they turn golden. Keep aside. In the remaining oil fry the garlic; keep aside.

To the remaining oil add ginger-garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add tofu and cook till it turns slightly golden. Add bell pepper, beans, broccoli and mushrooms; continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the Thai curry paste and turmeric, and stir till the paste is slightly cooked. Add coconut milk, water and sugar. Mix well to form a lump-free sauce. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes.

To serve: In a bowl add noodles. Pour the khao suey on the noodles. Top up with burnt garlic, fried onions, green chili, and sliced egg. Finish with a few drops of lemon juice, peanuts and a few sprigs of cilantro. Serve hot!

 

OATS SOOJI PANIYARAM / PADDU

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Ingredients (serves 4):

1 cup instant oats (Quaker)
1 cup sooji
1 cup curd (preferably sour)
1 big onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp chana dal
3 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp chopped curry leaves
1 tbsp green chilli ground to a paste
1 tsp fruit salt
1/4 tsp cooking soda
1 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste

Method:

Soak chana dal in water for 1-2 hours. Dry-roast oats and sooji separately until they change colour. Cool them and grind to a coarse powder.

Add ground oats and sooji to the curd and mix well. Add water till it is the consistency of dosa batter. Add salt and cooking soda to the batter and leave it aside for 1 hour.

Add finely chopped onions, coriander, curry leaves along with green chilli paste, cumin seeds, soaked chana dal and mix. Add water as required. Then add fruit salt and mix well.

Heat the paniyaram pan, add a few drops of oil in each impression. When it is piping hot, keep the flame on low and pour the batter using a table spoon until it covers 3/4th and pour some more oil over it and cover it with a lid.

Let it roast on low-medium flame. Once the edges turn golden, turn them to the other side and roast until golden brown on both sides. Serve hot with tomato, coconut or mint chutney.

 

CORN POTATO TIKKI

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Ingredients (serves 4):

1 cup corn kernels, boiled
2 large potato, boiled and mashed
Few green chillies chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1tbsp chopped mint leaves
½ cup bread crumbs
4 tbsp grated cheese
Salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying

Method:

Mix the all ingredients leaving the cheese and oil aside. Grease palms with a little oil and divide the potato mix into 15 portions. Roll each portion into a ball and flatten to fill in a tsp of grated cheese . Then make a round thick patty.

Heat oil in a non stick pan and shallow fry the patties over medium flame. When one side turns golden brown flip onto the other. The browning should take about 2-3 minutes (each side).

Plate up the ready tikkis and serve with green chutney, lemon and onion rings!

 

MEXICAN CORN ON THE COB

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Ingredients (serves 4):

4 tbsp mayonnaise
4 ears of corn
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves chopped
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
12 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp ground red pepper
14 tsp ground cumin
Salt to taste

Method:

Heat the grill. Place corn on grill rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Grill the corn for 10 minutes or until tender and slightly brown turning frequently.

Combine mayo and juice in a bowl. Combine cheese and seasonings in another bowl.

Remove from grill and brush with mayo mixture, and sprinkle with cheese mixture. Top up mint leaves. Serve hot.

 

ZUCCHINI MINI PIZZA

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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella or bocconcini
Oregano or Italian seasoning to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Brush the zucchini slices with oil on both sides, season with salt and pepper. Grill until just tender, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Pre heat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. Place the zucchini slices on a greased baking sheet, top them with sauce, cheese and bake until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle with oregano or Italian seasoning to taste. Serve hot!

Tip: Add any topping of your choice for variation.

First published in the September 2017 issue of eShe magazine