Monday, April 25, 2011

Vegetarian/Vegan Hot 'n' Sour Soup for Cold Spring Nights

Note : This post was written almost a month back in march, 2011 but I guess I forgot to hit the publish button. It's finally spring here not that cold but this soup is perfect for any weather.

What do U do when Mother Nature Gives you not only rain in the spring but some white stuff too.....

last week when spring started on calenders, in our part of the world we saw some snow too, temperatures dropping back from 80 degree to 45 degree. We did had a very warm weekend just before the spring started but it was just for couple of days and then back to cold. Mother Nature knows what's best so rather than complaining why not go out in jackets & draw some butterflies to cheer up

and then come inside and sip this deliciously spicy and perfectly sour world famous Chinese Hot 'n' Sour soup.
As an Indian we prefer Chinese food which is made Indian style mainly known as Indo-Chinese but I always enjoy this one soup no matter where ever I eat/'s the perfect balance of heat from garlic + chilli sauce & sourness from vinegar and O'course lots of veggies, which makes you go for another serving of it. I also like this soup as only work in it is of chopping veggies and I love to do that( I find cleaning & chopping veggies as a very soothing & satisfying activity). It's easy recipe no oil, no saute, only boiling  the prepared stock with your choice of veggies. Though I have my personnel choice of veggies when it comes to this soup but many a times when I make it on a night before the grocery day, we get to see many different combinations of veggies in our soup bowls and no matter what veggies goes in, it always tastes good. Color, taste & texture of this soup does need your attention when it's fresh but for me I enjoy leftovers also. Now for the recipe.....

What I used :
Vegetables :
  • 2 med. sized carrots, julienned/matchstick cut
  • around 1 cup of thinly sliced mushrooms(i used baby bella variety)
  • around 3/4th cup of thinly shredded cabbage
  • half red bell pepper thinly sliced
  • around 1 cup of thinly sliced baby bok-choy(keep the shredded leaves separate)
  • around 2 inch piece of ginger, julienned
  • 1/2 cup mung sprouts
For stock/broth :
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock(* see notes)
  • 2&1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic or use garlic paste
  • 3 tablespoon of tomato ketchup
  • 3 tablespoon of green chilli sauce
  • 2 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon of rice vinegar(regular vinegar can also be used)
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper (optional)
Corn starch mixture :
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 tablespoon con starch
What I did :

Take all the ingredients from stock/broth list & whisk them together. In a big pot(non reactive kind as we are using vinegar) put them to boil, turn the heat to slow after it start boiling. Let it simmer for around 10 minutes or so.

While the stock for the soup is boiling, prepare the veggies by chopping them into thinly sliced/shredded/ julienned/ matchstick cut.

After 10 minutes of stock boiling drop all the chopped veggies into it except green leaf parts of bok choy, add that during the last 3-4 minutes only. Mix everything together give it a little taste & add salt as per your taste. I suggested to add salt at this point because various sauces used above will add saltiness to the soup, so it's better to hold it in the beg.

Let soup simmer for another 10 min. or so. When ready to serve mix cornstarch & water, making sure no lumps are there and add this mixture to soup, make sure soup is hot and on the heat at this time. Once it's stirred into the soup turn the gas off & serve the soup immediately.

Notes :
  • This recipe is the one which my family likes but I've read some recipes which don't use garlic but I can't imagine making any soup without garlic, specially this one.
  • For making vegetable broth I boil around 5 cups of water with roughly chopped 2 carrots, 1 onion, 2-3 stalks of celery, 3-4 garlic cloves 1/2 tsp. salt, 2-3 cloves(Laung), 7-8 black peppercorns, a bayleaf for around 30 minutes or so.
  • U can easily reduce or increase the heat in this recipe by changing the quantity of chilli sauce. Black peppers also give it little extra heat.
  • Veggies like green beans/french beans are also good addition to this soup. Generally tofu is also used in this soup, if using add it towards the last 3-4 minutes of simmering.
  • I'm not using egg in this which makes it vegetarian/vegan. For garnish usually chopped up green onions are used but I didn't had any so didn't used any.
  • Also at the end usually a spoon of sesame oil is added to the soup but I don't do that. If U like just add it to it before turning the heat off.
  • I used baby bok choy in this, not a typical veggie for this soup but it's my new fav. veggie & we liked it in the soup.
UPDATE (Feb/04/2013)  : this yummy soup is on it's way to Sayantani's blog  to beat some winter chills. She's is having a giveaway sponsered by at her blog.

Friday, April 8, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011 Game Day Menu : Bhaturas & a Cake to Share

Apr-02-2011.......A date marked in Indian History, India won Cricket World Cup 2011 after 28 long years, there's nothing one can compare with the festivities which took place after Dhoni(Indian team captain) hit the ball for the winner sixer. India became the first nation to win a ICC World Cup on home soil. I really missed being in India at that time. Congrats to all the Indians all over the world.
The date 2nd April was marked in our calender long time back, not that we had any kind of future forecasting for India winning World Cup but it was on this date 9 yrs. back I got to hold my little precious daughter in my hand for the first time, Yes! I became MOM. So it's being her birthday she got to choose the game day menu and she made the perfect choice of classic Punjabi dish Chole Bhature, not only my or my family's favourite but I believe it's on every Indians list of fav. food.
Unlike it's cousin Poori(another famous deep fried bread from India) which is made with whole wheat flour, Bhatura is made using White flour/Maida/All purpose flour. It is little crispy on the outside soft,fluffy & spongy on the inside and have a little chewy texture(as it gets colder) because of Maida. It's a very easy recipe only thing is you need to plan ahead of time as the dough needs to ferment. There are quick versions of my husband's colleague shared their quick fix for bhaturas is regular Tacos, fry them & they are ready. Another friend of mine uses yeast that brings down the ferment time from 8 hrs. to 2 hrs. of rising time only. I have also heard of using ready made pizza dough for it. But as a Delhite who has eaten tastiest bhaturas in the town for most of her life I prefer to either plan it or instead make poori alloo and leave Chole Bhature for some other day. If U are wondering why I said poori alloo(potatoes) & not poori chole because that too need planning ahead of time because I use dry chickpeas & not canned version. So for me planning ahead is not a problem because when I'm going to soak dry chickpeas for Chole part at that time only I can make dough for Bhaturas.
For Chole's(chana masala) recipe U can click here I posted last year, for new readers just to let U know that you really don't need any store bought chana masala just few regular masalas from your spice box & you can whip this delicious Chana Masala . Now for Bhaturas...................

UPDATE on July/14/2015 : On my quest to add more multigrains & millet flours to our everyday meals, without compromising on the taste, today I tried a different version of these Bhaturas.  I used equal part Unbleached all Purpose Flour + Whole Wheat Flour + Millet Flour(I used Bob's RedMill Brand). Rest of the recipe is pretty much same except that I didn't measured the water as U might need more or less as we have changed the flours. Taste & Look wise no body noticed any difference, everyone enjoyed it as ususal but with less guilty. So these Multigrain Bhaturas are family approved(kids + adults) :). 

What I used : (this recipe yielded me 14 med. size(around 4"x6") bhaturas.
  • 3 cup Maida/All purpose flour ( I use unbleached variety)
  • 1/4 of tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup yogurt/dahi (preferably sour dahi/curd)
  • 3 tablespoon oil
  • salt (i used 1 & 1/2 tsp.)
  • water as needed(roughly 1 cup)
  • oil for deep frying the bhaturas
What I did :
  1. Mix salt & baking soda in the flour. Add oil & yogurt and rub it into the flour.
  2. Adding only little water at a time knead it into a soft dough.
  3. Once it's not sticky any more, rub oil on your palms & roll the dough ball in it & place it in a greased bowl. Cover with wet kitchen towel & let it sit at some warm place for 8-10 hours for ferment(* see notes below). I usually do it overnight as I always make it for breakfast/brunch.
  4. When the dough is ready(after ferment), rub little oil on your hands and divide the dough into 12 or 14 equal size balls(little bigger than ping pong ball), keep them covered with a wet kitchen towel. Using rolling pin roll them into flat oval disc(* see notes) and deep fry it on med. heat till you get little brown spots on both the sides(make sure rest of the stuff like chole & salad etc. is ready to go before you start frying ).

Serve it hot with Chole/Chana Masala and some red onions sprinkled with salt & lemon juice and last but not the least Punjabi Mango pickle.
Notes :
In cold weather some time it's difficult to get the dough fermented so I usually make it not only night before but almost 24. hrs. before I'm gonna use it. As heat from the cooking keeps my kitchen warm during the day & it helps the dough also and in the night I keep it in the oven. However this time I only left it overnight(around 11-12 hrs.), it was soft to touch but in volume it didn't rise a lot but still bhaturas came out really good.
You can shape them round but because of the elasticity in the dough it's somehow more easy if U make them in Oval shape. Even back in Delhi also I remember the best bhaturas were almost always Oval shaped as Halwais(professional who makes Indian sweets & also savoury snack/munchies & breakfast kind of stuff) don't roll them using rolling pin instead they smack the dough ball between their hands & that motion of smacking against the hand & slightly pulling them gives them kind of oval shape. So as far I'm concerned in my 11 years of cooking, for this reason I guess I never even thought of making round bhatura, though I roll it.

Now for those who have never eaten bhatura here's another look but from inside, can U see the slightly crispy top outside layer, the thin little brown kind of :
and another one to show U how spongy it is from inside, see the holes, the kind U get when U pull any soft white bread:
and if you are familiar to these yummy breads then I'm sure these photos can assure you that you gonna get the best bhaturas right in your kitchen.

We finished our meal with big glass of Lassi (Punjabi yogurt drink) & I was screaming and jumping at that time because that was the time to celebrate India's victory. And here's the picture of B'day cake we had on that day, DD had given me a full drawing of what kind of a cake she wanted but I believe I need lot of practice before I can do that but she was happy with what I made.

I tried my hand for the first time on candy clay. I started working on it only the night before, should have tried that atleast a week before as the figure she wanted on her cake couldn't be done because the clay was getting too soft too quickly but it was fun to work with it so changed the plan & made the roses instead. I guess somehwere in my heart I knew India gonna win or I should say like any other Indian I also wanted Indian team to win so I decided to go with pink for my daughter & blue for our team & B'day girl was happy.