Singapore Fried Noodles (vegan)

Singapore Fried Noodles (Sing Chow Mai Fun/星洲炒米粉) is a popular Chinese dish that apparently did not originate in Singapore.  They seem to be named because of the curry powder, giving it an exotic South Asian flavor which is different from average Chinese food.  You can get a version of it in Malaysia, but it doesn’t have the curry powder and is much spicier.  In Penang it has a ketchup and chili based sauce.   Most people say this dish doesn’t exist in Singapore, but Singh Jee says he’s had it from street vendors there, so maybe it’s just hard to find.
Anyway, wherever it’s from, it’s super yummy and makes a great picnic food, because it’s dry and portable and tastes just as good luke-warm as it does hot.

Adapted from this recipe.

Recommended Keertan:  Giani Gurdev Singh jee - 2009 Dushera Samagam (New Delhi)

For noodles:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 12 ounces of fine dry rice vermicelli (yes, you can even make them at home!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 2 Serrano peppers, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, water pressed out, cut into small cubes.
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetarian oyster sauce (this can be had from Asian grocery stores, or make your own, or leave it out entirely)

For sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons Madras (hot) curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce (yes, you can even make THIS at home!)
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

Put the rice vermicelli in a large bowl and soak in enough hot water to cover, until the noodles are soft (about 8 to 10 minutes). Drain noodles and set aside.  Start by heating up 2 tablespoons of oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the curry powder, the ginger, and the minced garlic, and saute until fragrant. Add the veggie broth, soy sauce, sugar, and chili flakes. Stir to combine and then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large wok over high heat. Add in the remaining garlic and ginger, and stir-fry until the garlic starts to become golden. Add in the onion, peppers, sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, and cabbage one at a time. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Set the vegetables aside in a bowl.  Heat the last 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok over high heat.  Add the tofu and saute until golden.  Add in the noodles and the vegetables. Pour on the sauce and add vegetarian oyster sauce.  Mix the ingredients thoroughly to coat all the noodles and incorporate all the vegetables.

 

 

 

Eggless French Toast

Sometimes you just have to have breakfast for dinner.  I’ve been craving french toast for a while now, but wasn’t sure how to make it.  I didn’t want to make a mess and waste my favorite white batter bread on something if it wasn’t going to be perfect.  I started to do some research and it seems there are about a million different recipes for vegetarian french toast.  I mixed and matched from a couple of them and this is what I came up with.  It’s pretty darned good, if I do say so myself.

Recommended keertan:  Bhai  Avtar Singh and Bhai Gurcharan Singh- Gur Satgur Kaa Jo Akhaae

  • 8 slices of almost stale bread
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3 Tbs besan (chick pea flour)
  • 2 Tbs Bird’s custard powder (or you can use plain cornstarch)
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • oil or butter for the skillet

This one’s easy, just mix everything together really well.  Add the dry ingredients slowly or it’ll be lumpy. Stir and stir and stir some more.   You need dry bread for this, so let it sit out overnight or use old bread or if you don’t have old bread, you can put it in a 250 degree oven for 8 minutes to dry it out a bit.  Dip the bread in the mixture and fry on an oiled skillet for a minute or two on each side, till it’s nice and brown.  Serve with syrup or powdered sugar or jam, whatever suits your taste.

 

 

 

 

 

Full of Awesome Banana Muffins

 

That’s right, these muffins are full of awesome.  And full of other stuff too.  Whatever I had in the pantry, to be precise.  They’re based on my favorite banana bread recipe.  I was reading through the comments and so many of the suggestions sounded great, I used a couple of them, and added my own touch as well.  I added a streusel topping because I love that little bit of sugary crunchy goodness.   The original recipe is for bread, and this recipe can also be baked in a 4×8 loaf pan or an 8″ round pan, if you’d prefer a cake.  I like muffins because they’re exactly one serving size and they’re portable.  We take them as snacks when we’re travelling.
Full of awesome” is a catchy phrase I picked up from my favorite girl-power blog and entrepreneur- Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly.   It’s all about how kids so easily choose to be full of awesome, letting their light shine.  And about how we sometimes lose it when we grow up.  And so I’ve decided to take back my awesome, in every little way possible.  As a woman, as a mom, as a cook, as a singhnee.  I’m taking back my awesome, and I’m sharing it with you.

Recommended keertan:  Bhai Ranjit Singh (Jammu)- Delhi Samagam 2009

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (elaichee)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped nuts (I used cashews here)
For the topping:
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 Tbs cold butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).  With a wooden spoon, mix melted butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the sugar, yogurt, and vanilla.  Sprinkle the baking soda, salt, and cardamom over the mixture and mix in.  Add the flour, stir well, but don’t over mix. Stir in the coconut, raisins, and nuts last.  Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin pan (use paper liners for less mess).  To make the topping, mix all the ingredients in a food processor until it’s crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of the muffin batter.  Bake for 30 minutes. If you’re making bread, bake for one hour. Cake will be about 45 minutes (but keep an eye on it). Cool on a rack.

Curried Cranberry Beans

There’s a town near where I live that has a yearly “Bean Festival”.  I wandered down there this year and ended up buying 25 pounds of various types of beans.  Yes, 25 pounds.  Beans are a staple in any vegetarian household, so variety is important.  I’m always seeking out new types of beans to try.  I found these organic cranberry beans at the Bean Festival.  Cranberry beans are also called borlotti beans, and are popular in Italian and Spanish cooking.  They’re cream colored with red stripes, or occasionally red with cream stripes.  You can get them dried or sometimes fresh in the pod.   They’re a close relative of pinto beans, but I think they’re more flavorful.   I prepared them in the way rajma (red kidney beans) is usually cooked, and they were delicious.

Recommended keertan:  Bhai Manjit Singh (Glasgow)- 2008 Amritsar Samagam Raensabaee

  •  2 cups dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tbs minced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-4 diced green Thai chilies
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 tsp coriander (daniya)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4 Tbs olive oil, divided
I cooked these in a pressure cooker because I was low on time, but you could just as easily cook them in a large pot with a lid.  They’d probably need to simmer for 2-3 hours.
To cook them in a pressure cooker, place the beans with 6-7 cups of water (depending on how watery you like them) and 2 Tbs olive oil in the pressure cooker.   Fit the lid and cook on high until pressure builds up, then reduce to med-low and cook for 10 minutes then remove from heat.  While the pressure is going down in the cooker, heat the remaining olive oil in a large pot.  Throw in the the cumin seeds and cook until they start to splutter.  Add the onions and saute until they become soft, then add the garlic and ginger.  Cook for a couple minutes, then add the tomatoes and green chilies.  Cook until the tomatoes are soft and there’s very little water left.  Add the ground spices and cook for another minute or two.  Now pour the beans and water into the tomato onion mixture and stir well.  You can add more water if it’s too dry, or boil it to reduce if it’s too watery.  It’s all a matter of personal taste.  I like a bit of water with mine.  Serve with basmati rice and raita.  I guess I should put up a raita recipe.   Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Oatmeal Graham Cookies

Cookies!  Specifically, oatmeal raisin cookies with graham flour.  Because that way I can trick myself into believing they’re moderately healthy, even though in reality they’re full of buttery, sugary goodness.

Recommended keertan:  Bhai Gurdev Singh – Fareeda bure da bhala kar

  • 1 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks (two sticks)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unbleached white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 6 Tbsp water (or commercial egg replacer for 2 eggs)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (Cook’s “cookbook” is a good quality alcohol-free vanilla)
  • 1 cup graham flour (you can use whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews or other nuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, beat Earth Balance until creamy.  Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in flax seed/water mixture.  Add vanilla.  Mix flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in medium bowl. Stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture. Stir in raisins and nuts. Stir in oats last.   Spoon out dough by large tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets (I line them with parchment paper, it makes cleanup easier), leaving at least two inches between each cookie.    Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Cool for a minute on the cookie sheet, then carefully move them to a wire rack, using a spatula.   They’re really soft until they cool completely.   After they cool, store tightly covered.

Red Curry Asparagus with Coconut Rice

 

My niece was visiting recently and wanted to try coconut rice.  I went through the fridge to figure out what to serve with it, and came across this beautiful asparagus.  I’d normally  make this dish with green beans, but the asparagus was so young and tender that I thought it would work well with the creamy coconut curry.  This combination involves a lot of coconut milk, and has the added benefit of being vegan.   If you could throw in some tofu when you add the asparagus and make it a complete meal.

Keertan (something a little different today):  Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan- Aval Allah Noor Upaya 

For the curry:

  • 2 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 3-4 Tbs red curry paste (Check the ingredients, some have fish or shrimp in them.  Or, make your own)
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 3 tsp brown sugar or palm sugar
  • 2-4 Thai chilies
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 bunch young asparagus, ends removed, cut in 2″ pieces (approx 1 pound)
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Cilantro leaves to garnish
Heat one cup of coconut milk in a large pan or wok.  When it starts to separate, add curry paste, soy sauce, chilies, and sugar and mix well.  Add the mushrooms and cook for one minute.  Add the rest of the coconut milk and bring to a boil.  Add the asparagus, reduce heat, and simmer for about 4 minutes, or until the asparagus is just tender.   Remove from heat and squeeze lime juice over it.  Mix well then sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve with coconut rice (below).
Thai style coconut rice:
  • 2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil (use canola or some other unflavored oil if you don’t have coconut)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar or palm sugar

In a large pot with a lid, melt the coconut oil  and cook the rice over medium heat for about two minutes.  This gives the rice some flavor and keeps it from being too clumpy when it’s cooked.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cover.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.  Turn off the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  This rice also makes a lovely desert, just double the sugar and served with sliced mango on top.

 

 

 

Thai Style Peanut Noodles

Noodles are our go-to dish for whenever we don’t feel like Indian food, but don’t know what else to cook.  They’re easy to make and you can do pretty much anything with them.  I’m also a big fan of Thai food.  It’s easy to make vegetarian, and you can easily adjust the spiciness to fit your mood.   So Thai noodles are a frequent favorite in our house.  This dish uses a bit of peanut butter to add flavor and richness to the sauce.

Recommended keertan:  Bhai Gurmail Singh jee- Tu Thakro Bairagaro

  • 1 pound medium Thai rice noodles (sen lek), or linguine
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, water pressed out, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded veggies (I used broccoli, carrots, and cabbage)- you can use coleslaw mix if you want
  • 1 red bell pepper (shimla mirch), chopped
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs corn starch
  • Chopped peanuts for garnish
  • Chopped cilantro (hara dhaniya) for garnish
  • Oil for cooking
For the sauce:

  • 1 oz tamarind pulp, soaked in:
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar or palm sugar
  • 2 Tbs peanut butter
  • Red chili flakes per your taste
If you’re using Thai rice noodles, soak the noodles in a pan of hot water and set aside.  When you finish preparing the rest of the ingredients, the noodles will be ready to drain.  They should be flexible but not mushy.  If you’re using linguine, boil them to “al dente” as usual.  Place the tamarind in the boiling water and soak for 10 minutes.  Mash the tamarind pulp a bit, then strain the water into a bowl.  Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir well, then set it aside.  Mix the corn starch with a bit of salt and pepper, and toss the tofu to coat lightly.  Fry the tofu in small batches in a heavy pan in 1/2 inch of oil until it’s crispy and brown, then keep aside.  Try not to eat it all as you cook, it’s tasty!   Heat a bit of oil and saute the onion until it’s soft, then add the bell pepper and stir fry for a minute or two.  Add the shredded veggies, and stir fry for a minute, then add the sauce and cook a couple minutes more, the veggies will reduce in bulk and become softer.  Mix in the noodles and stir well to coat with sauce, then add the tofu and cook just until it’s heated.  Remove from the heat and garnish with cilantro and peanuts.

Black Eyed Pea Burgers

 

What to do with leftovers.  I always seem to cook too much, but I hate to eat the same thing two days in a row.  The solution of course, is to change the leftovers a bit, dress them up.  With beans, it’s easy, just make a burger.   Black eyed peas make great burgers, so when I cooked them last, I made extra knowing I’d want burgers the next day.   They’re incredibly simple, with just three ingredients.

  • 2 cups last night’s beans
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup wheat flour
  • olive oil for frying
Mash the beans, mix in the bread crumbs and add flour till it’s not too sticky, but not enough flour that it’s dry and crumbly.  Form into patties and fry in about a teaspoon of oil until brown, then flip and fry the other side.  It’s really that easy.

For the buns, I used this recipe for white batter bread.  I baked the buns in small round steel containers laid out on a baking sheet, and reduced the cooking time to 20 minutes.   This is so easy, if you bake the buns the night before, you can make the burgers in the morning and pack them lunch for work or school.

Black Eyed Peas and Rice, with Cornbread Rolls

I love black eyed peas.  We used to eat them in a dish called Hoppin’ John, every January first.  They’re a staple in southern American and Caribbean cuisine.  In India, they’re called lobia or rongee.  They cook quickly in a pressure cooker, but I like to let them simmer in a big iron pot because they absorb lots of flavor that way.  I recommend brown Basmati rice with this dish.  The chewy texture goes really well with the soft beans, and it’s a bit healthier than white rice.  Instructions for cooking all kinds of rice are here.

Traditionally in the south, black eyed peas are served with greens (saag) and a side of cornbread.  I wanted something a bit more bready than regular cornbread (which can be crumbly and messy), so I went with a simple yeast bread that doesn’t require any kneading.   I added some fresh corn to it as well.

Recommended keertan:   Bhai Karam Singh jee (CA)- Seattle samagam 2009

Black eyed peas:

  • 2 cups black eyed peas (soaked for four hours)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 green chilies
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy pot with a lid.  I use a cast iron dutch oven, it heats evenly and everything I cook in it tastes delicious.   Saute the onions until translucent.  Add the garlic and green chilies and cook for two minutes more.  Add the thyme and beans and mix well.   Pour in the broth, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to med-low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes to an hour.  Check them frequently to see if they’re done, and add more water as needed.  Serve with brown rice and cornbread rolls (recipe below).

 

Cornbread rolls (adapted from this recipe by Donalyn Ketchum)

  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup very warm water
  • 1 package active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 Tbs flax seed, ground, mixed well with
  • 3 Tbs water
  • 1  1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  •  1/2 cup fresh corn kernels

Stir together milk, honey, salt, and melted butter.  Cool slightly and add water, yeast, and flax seed/water mixture.  Mix in flour and cornmeal.  Mix for 4-5 minutes, you’ll get a stiff batter.  Stir in corn.   To make rolls you can either use a muffin pan or any small metal containers.  I used medium sized steel bowls (kolis) arranged on a baking sheet to get a nice round shape. Oil the pans and pour in the batter.  Let them sit in a warm place for 45 minutes, the dough should almost double.  Cook at 375 for 20  minutes, or until they’re lightly browned on top.  Cool slightly then remove from the pans and serve with butter and honey.