Vegetable Stew Appam-Style

Appams are a very delicious crêpe-type thingy made of rice batter and coconut milk, eaten in many parts of southern India and Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, I can’t make them.

I can, however, make a mean vegetable stew of the kind usually served with appams. It’s ridiculously easy too!

vegetable stew appam-style

Get together:

  • 1 onion, small – thinly sliced
  • Button mushrooms, chopped – 50 gms
  • Carrots, chopped small – 50 gms
  • Green peas – 50 gms
  • Coconut milk – 2 to 3 tbsp
  • Big cardamom – 1 big pod
  • Cloves – 4
  • Cinnamon – 1 one-inch stick, broken into smaller bits
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp, scant
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – as needed

Heat up a wok or other pot, and turn down the heat to a steady low. Add big cardamom pod, cloves and cinnamon bits. Toast for about 45 seconds, then add bay leaf. Toast for another minute. When you get a light whiff of the aroma of the spices, add onions. When onions start to brown a bit, add mushrooms and carrots. Cook for another couple minutes or so. Add enough water to just about cover the vegetables and bring to a gentle boil. Add peas and pepper, cover and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, till vegetables are done. Add salt and coconut milk. Mix well. Turn off heat when you see a gentle bubbling. Cover and let the stew sit for about 10 minutes before eating.

With some steamed rice, this amount of stew serves one very hungry person, such as me.

Twistea

My mum once had this tea-with-a-twist served to her on a train, and she came home and recreated it for us. I usually drink herbal infusions but when I want actual tea, this one is fun!

twistea

You need:

  • Drinking water – 1/2 l
  • Black tea leaves – 1/2 tsp, scant (Substitute with a scant tsp of green tea leaves or a heaped tsp of white tea leaves if you want. Use more for a stronger tea.)
  • Lemon juice – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Jaggery powder – 3 tsp (Sugar works too, just reduce the quantity a bit.)
  • Rock salt – 1/4 tsp, scant
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp, scant
  • Black pepper powder – 1/8 tsp (You can use white pepper powder.)

Bring the water to a gentle boil and turn off heat. Add tea leaves, cover and steep for at least 4 minutes, longer for a stronger tea. Stir in jaggery, both types of salt, pepper and lemon juice. Taste to check if you’d like to add more of anything. Strain.

This tea can be drunk hot or cold. I like it at room temperature too.

SuperHummus

I think I just gave my hummus superpowers by having a genetically modified spider… no, that doesn’t sound right. I should’ve gone with a Popeye reference, given that the catalyst to the transformation of my hummus was spinach!

Pop culture references aside, this superhummus is bursting with protein, calcium, iron and Vitamin C. Oh, and pure yumminess. Try it.

superhummus

To make regular hummus, I blend together:

  • Chickpeas, cooked – 150 gms
  • Cooking liquid from chickpeas – as needed
  • Garlic – 2 to 5 cloves, depending on size and taste
  • Sesame seeds, raw – 1 tbsp (Reduce for lower fat version and increase for a stronger sesame taste.)
  • Lemon juice – 2 to 3 tbsp, to taste
  • Paprika – 1 tsp
  • Salt – to taste

I soak dried chickpeas overnight, then rinse them and cook them with fresh water. I use a pressure cooker – it takes about 18 minutes on full pressure for the chickpeas to get nicely soft. I let the pressure release naturally and blend into hummus while still a bit warm.

To turn this into superhummus, just add some steamed spinach to the blender.

I microwaved the spinach with a tbsp of water, covered, for 3 minutes. It was about 50 gms when cooked. Once cool, I poured the spinach and liquid into the mixer and blended everything together till very smooth.

Coconut Lemon Dessert

I made a coconut lemon cheesecake mousse thingamajig. I haven’t yet figured out how to make it set like cheesecake, so this is more of an outline than a recipe. Do try it though – this is a refreshing dessert that’s rich and light at the same time. Very easy to make too, though it doesn’t look great or photograph well.

coconut lemon dessert

As a bonus, you get to drink the water of one green coconut. Choose a coconut with a good bit of thick pulp, not soft and thin but not hardened like a mature coconut either. Somewhere in between. Don’t forget to rinse the pulp once you’ve scooped it out, unless you want to feed your friends dessert with your spit in it. Gross.

You need:

  • Thick coconut pulp – from 1 green coconut
  • Lemon juice – 4 to 5 tsp (Increase if you like your lemon desserts extra lemony, like me.)
  • Deseeded dates – 7 to 10, to taste
  • Vanilla powder – 1/16 tsp
  • Salt – 1/16 tsp, scant

Soak dates in as small a quantity of hot water as possible while submerging them fully. When soft, add to blender/ other mixing contraption (I used the wet grinding jar of mine) along with other ingredients. Break up the coconut pulp into smaller pieces before adding.

Blend till very very smooth, turning off the motor in between to give it rest. The amount of time needed depends on the power of your blender/ mixer/ food processor’s motor. Taste to make sure mixture isn’t grainy and adjust any flavours you want to (more dates/ lemon juice/ vanilla/ salt to make the flavours pop).

Pour into glasses/ bowls and refrigerate for a few hours before eating. Enjoy!