Recipe: Aloo Matar (Potatoes and Peas)

Aloo Matar

Aloo Matar (Potatoes with Peas) is one of my favourite vegetarian Indian dishes of all time. Partly because it was the first Indian dish I ever learnt to cook.

Aloo means potato and matar means peas, by the way. It is a dry style Indian dish which can be added to other dishes like a daal or another main dish. I found the recipe in Shehzah Husain’s Vegetarian Indian cookbook many years ago. I make changes all the time like (you know me) but I have the original recipe here for you. Enjoy!

Aloo Matar (Potatoes and Peas)
Tomato puree (1 large tomato)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon garlic pulp
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons corn oil
2 onions, diced
125 g (4 oz) peas (I use baby peas because they cook faster)
300 ml (1/2 pint) corn oil
3 potatoes, roughly diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
½ green pepper, deseeded and sliced
½ red pepper, deseeded and sliced

• Mix the tomato puree, ground coriander, chilli powder, garam masala, garlic, turmeric, salt and lemon juice together in a bowl and set aside.
• Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Pour the tomato puree and spice mixture into pan, lower the heat and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Stir in peas and set aside.
• Heat the remaining corn oil in a karahi or deep frying pan to 180C, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds, add the potatoes and fry them until they have golden edges and are cooked through. Remove the potatoes dice from the pan and add to the peas and spice mixture.
• Finally, add the fresh coriander and sliced green and red peppers and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes. Serve the dish hot.

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhaava! (Bon Appetit!)

Fried Zucchini with Garlic-Dill Dressing and Smokey Tomato Sauce

VeganMoFo Day 12
This recipe goes out to a dear friend of mine, Asuman, who loves her zucchini very much. May her kitchen be abundant in zucchini department 🙂

Please note that zucchini will shrink after being acti-fried.

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Fried Zucchini with Garlic-Dill Dressing and Smokey Tomato Sauce
4 zucchini (gray variety), sliced
1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the Smokey Tomato Sauce:
½ tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp smoked paprika (heaped)
Salt and pepper

For the Garlic-Dill Dressing:
4 tbsp Tofutti Sour Supreme
A drizzle freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

• Cook the zucchini in ActiFry for about 25 minutes. If you don’t have one, just deep fry them until golden brown.
• To make the Garlic-Dill Dressing: Mix Tofutti Sour Supreme and lemon juice. Add chopped dill and half of minced garlic, stir well.
• To make the Smokey Tomato Sauce: Heat the oil in a small pot then add the tomatoes, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and cook well. Once it’s done, remove from the heat and set aside.
• Arrange the zucchini on a plate and add a dollop of each of the dressing/sauce. Serve immediately.

Turkish Stuffed Peppers or Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolma (My Mum’s recipe)

DPP_00022 (1280x960)We have this supermarket called Gima in Auburn. For those of you who don’t know; Auburn is a suburb located in Western Sydney. Gima was the name of a supermarket chain back in Turkey. Although it doesn’t exist there anymore, it is still alive in Auburn, Sydney. The bigger portion of Turkish community lives in Auburn and because of that, Gima is doing incredibly well. We do our Turkish grocery shopping there too. They sell anything that Australian customs allow into Australia –Turkish flour is not one of those things by the way.

Some Turks, grow certain Turkish vegetables around the area and you can buy them from the shops. So, when I spotted these peppers at Gima on one of our trips, I knew exactly what to do with them. The recipe I have here is my Mum’s. It’s funny, I never liked this dish when I was in Turkey but now it’s something that I can’t get anymore, it has have become one of my favourites. Here’s the recipe Peoples…

Turkish Stuffed Peppers or Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolma (My Mum’s recipe)
8 small green peppers
1 cup medium-grain white rice, washed and rinsed
1 onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp dried currants
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp dried mint
½ tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper

• Cut the tops of peppers and remove the stalks. Get rid of all the seeds and trim down the membranes too.
• Mix together the onion, rice, oil, pine nuts, dried currants, mint, allspice, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl.
• Loosely stuff the peppers and put the lids back on.
• Place them in a small pot and add some boiling water to the level of the lids. If you pass that mark then the stuffing releases itself into the pot and you end up with half-stuffed peppers.
• Cook the peppers over medium heat until their colour is slightly turning yellow and the rice is thoroughly cooked.
• Let them cool in the very pot you’ve cooked them in and serve when cold. Afiyet Olsun Peoples!

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

These stuffed zucchini boats are eaten cold and great for hot summer days. Normally cubed feta cheese is added to the mixture but I decided not to substitute. The stuffing mixture is just enough to fill the cavities anyway. Here’s the recipe for Stuffed Zucchini Boats:

2 large and thick zucchinis
1 onion, sliced
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
2 twigs fresh dill, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1tsp dried spearmint
1 tbsp or maybe a little bit more vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

• Trim the ends from the zucchini and cut a thin piece lengthwise just to create a flat top. Using a small knife, draw a ½ cm edge all around and carve out the flesh with a teaspoon. By doing that, you are creating zucchini shells.
• Place the shells in a steamer and cook until they are soft –ish. Don’t let them go really soft as they break easily. Set aside and cool.
• Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the onions. Add a little bit of salt to prevent onions from burning. Fry the onions until they are soft. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook until they are all cooked. Just before you remove the stuffing mixture from the heat, season with salt, pepper and mint. Mix chopped dill with the rest of the ingredients. Set aside and let it cool.
• Once the stuffing mixture is cool enough, scoop it into zucchini shells and serve.

İmam Bayıldı or Turkish Stuffed Eggplant with Onion and Tomato

İmam Bayıldı Turkish Stuffed Eggplant Onion Tomato

İmam Bayıldı or Stuffed Eggplant with Onion and Tomato

This dish is a Turkish classic and originally vegan! The name means; imam (Muslim cleric) was exhilarated. He was said to be so impressed with the dish when he first tried it. I have an old recipe in my archive without measurements which I’ve had for ages. I just work out with the number of eggplants I have at the time, how big they are and so on.

In the original recipe, the eggplants are fried before you stuff them. I must admit, it is such a messy process –and unhealthy- and your kitchen smells terrible for 2 days too! So, I made a few changes. I grilled the eggplants and once they are stuffed, instead of cooking them on the stove I baked them. If you have gas in your kitchen with fantastic heat control, that’s what you should use. With the electric type, simmering is a challenge. Alternatively, you could use a slow cooker, although getting the eggplants out is a challenge.

İmam Bayıldı Turkish Stuffed Eggplant Onion Tomato

Here’s some tips before you start:
OK, the first tip is the eggplant is never halved and topped like you see in cookbooks. When you think about it, you can’t even call that “stuffed” because you haven’t created an area to be stuffed, have you?

The second tip: We have this way of semi peeling the eggplants; we peel them in stripes. This way, you even out the toughness of their skin and they still keep their shape because you don’t peel them completely.

The third tip: Size does matter. It is one of the challenges in Australia that eggplants are either too small or too big for stuffing. I found these Angela aubergines at the supermarket the other day. They have the perfect size for Imam Bayildi. They taste slightly different to the normal purple type but ever so tasty.

İmam Bayıldı or Stuffed Eggplant with Onion and Tomato

2 medium-sized Angela aubergines (eggplants), washed and dried
1 large tomato, diced
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Light olive oil
Salt and pepper

• Preheat your grill. Line your oven tray with aluminium foil –saves you cleaning up afterwards.
• By using a potato peeler –that’s the easiest- peel the eggplants I stripes. Make an incision in the middle of each eggplant with a small knife. You cut them along in the middle without going all the way through.
• Brush each eggplant with oil –I also put salt in the oil. Place them under the grill and roast for 30 minutes, turning and basting during the process.
• Once they are all nicely browned, transfer them into a baking dish. I used individual baking dishes for this.
• Heat the oil in a saucepan, and add the onions with a little bit of salt. Sauté the onions until they are soft. Add the garlic and tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Just before you remove it from the heat, stir fresh parsley in.
• Preheat the oven to 150°C/300F/Gas Mark 2.
• By using a spoon, enlarge those incisions you made earlier. Stuff that area with the onion mixture. Return the eggplants to the oven and add a little bit of boiled water to the bottom of the dish to stop them from sticking. Cook Imam Bayildi for another 30 minutes. Then serve. Afiyet Olsun!

Note: As a summer dish, Imam Bayildi should be served either cold or lukewarm.

İmam Bayıldı Turkish Stuffed Eggplant Onion Tomato

Mediterranean Style Deep-Fried Cauliflower and Potatoes with Sweet and Sour Dressing

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This is a recipe from Southern Turkey  which is actually Mediterranean part of the country. It is simple yet delicious. There were some ratio problems with the original recipe so I had to tweak it. I also substituted Turkish pepper paste with  sweet chili sauce which is easier to get from Western stores.

Although the original recipe calls for deep-frying the potatoes as in chips, I cooked mine in ActiFry. The recipe below covers both methods.

½ cauliflower, washed and broken into florets
3 medium sized potato, cut into batons
Plain flour (about ½ cup)
Vegetable oil for frying

For Sweet and Sour Dressing:
1 spring onion (shallots), chopped finely
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
5 tbsp water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large clove of garlic or 2 small, crushed (minced)

• To make the dressing: Combine crushed garlic, lemon juice and sweet chili sauce in a bowl. Add the onions, water and herbs. Set aside.

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• Put enough water and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside to cool. They need to be completely dry before frying.
To make the chips in ActiFry: Place the potato sticks in the ActiFry and set the timer for 25 minutes. Add the oil, measuring it with ActiFry’s green spoon, drizzle over the potatoes and turn the gadget on.
• Heat the deep-frying oil.
• Sprinkle the cauliflower florets with salt and flour. Shake off excess flour and fry them in two batches until golden brown which is the same amount of time that potatoes are done. Once they are done, place them on a paper towel to get rid of excess oil.

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• In a large bowl, combine the deep-fried cauliflowers and chips. Drizzle with the sweet and sour dressing and serve immediately.

Summer Eggplant Dish

They say that there is probably 1000 -or nearly- different eggplant dishes in Turkish cuisine. Given the fact that eggplant is quite versatile, it could be true. When you think about it, you could create a lot of different dishes with eggplant, including an eggplant jam!

This dish is called Zeytinyağlı Patlıcan and is the lightest eggplant dish ever! Ideal for summer. Don’t forget to mop it up with some bread.

1 round eggplant, peeled and cut into 5cm sticks
2 large tomato, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
Handful continental parsley, chopped finely
A pinch sugar
Light olive oil or any vegetable oil

• Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sugar, salt and chopped tomatoes in a large, shallow saucepan.
• Add the eggplant sticks, making sure that they are evenly covered with the mixture.
• Place the saucepan on the stove and once it is heated thoroughly reduce the heat and cook until the eggplant is cooked.
• Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Vegan Harissa Pumpkin

Ian Hemphill convinced me to buy his Tunisian spice mix when we were at Herbie’s in Rozelle but my first experiment with it was somewhat “blah” to be honest. I actually LOVE Harissa mix and I was expecting the same full fragrant result from the Tunisian one too. So, what I did in the end is mixing Tunisian and Harissa together, creating this mix of mixes. And it worked very well.

I stopped deep-frying altogether since I was introduced to this wonderful kitchen gadget called ActiFry by a dear friend of mine in Istanbul. It uses so little oil and the results are quite good. In this recipe I fried the pumpkin cubes as well as the potato ones in ActiFry and served the dish on a bed of plain Turkish couscous. If you can’t find Turkish one any other type of couscous is fine.

½ pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 small potato, peeled and cubed
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or use tin tomatoes)
2 tsp Herbie’s Harissa Paste Mix
1 tsp Herbie’s Tunisian Spice Mix
2 tsp oil and some extra for frying
½ lemon
Handful fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish

• For Harissa paste: Mix 2 tsp of Harissa paste mix with equal amount of water. Stand for 5 minutes and add 2 tsp of oil and the lemon juice. Stir to blend.
• Fry the potato cubes in ActiFry or deep fry them. Set aside.
• Do the same thing for the pumpkin if you own an ActiFry or simply boil them. Again, set aside.
• Heat the oil in a pan; add Harissa paste and Tunisian mix. Fry them until they give out their aroma. Add the tomatoes and simmer until it is sauce-like. Lastly, add the potato and pumpkin. Stir carefully so that the potatoes and pumpkin will not get mushy.
• Serve on a bed of couscous with coriander leaves on top and enjoy!

Hot and Sour Baby Leeks

When I was a kid, I never liked leeks. Probably due to slippery texture of them that put me off. Later on, I learnt to appreciate it although I still don’t like a particular Turkish dish.

In Kusadasi area (Turkey), when you buy baby leeks, the bundle comes with a miniature celeriac with long sticks –as long as the leeks themselves. I don’t know what the locals do with it but recipe below shows you what I did with a bunch of baby leeks.

4 baby leeks, washed well and chopped in 2cm rounds
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup light olive oil
Juice of half lemon
1 tsp chilli flakes
2/3 cup water
Pinch sugar

• Heat olive oil in a pot and add leeks, stir for 10 minutes.
• Mix together salt, chilli flakes, lemon juice and water. Add to the leeks.
• Add water and a pinch of sugar. Stir well and simmer with the lid on.

Note: This Leek dish is best when it’s served cold with extra lemon juice.

Zucchini and Potato with Vegan Mince

Another dish that I made some time ago and didn’t write it down anywhere just so that I can make it difficult for myself. In times like this, I look at the photo and try to figure the recipe out. This is me; figuring it out.

1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 zucchini, trimmed and sliced
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
100 gr vegan mince
1 tsp Massel Stock Powder Beef Style
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

• Deep fry the zucchini and potato cubes separately.
• Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add chopped tomatoes, vegan beef stock, salt and pepper. cook until tomatoes are done.
• Add the mince, potatoes and zucchini and stir well without mashing the vegetables. Serve immediately.