Vegan Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

Life’s been busy with work, school holidays, school restarting, relations visiting from overseas, renovations, more renovations, a couple of art and craft projects and everything else that gets in the way of writing my blog! I have however been taking heaps of photos of edible goodies cooked by myself and others. Here’s a quick vegan shortbread recipe with pistachios and cranberries that is great to take to a potluck, or a share a plate party.

This is the first time I’ve used Bio butter which is coconut based but the finished product did not taste coconut flavoured in the least. Usually I use Nuttelex which does have a slightly distinct taste in baked goods. (THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST). Another variation that I think would work well is Almonds with raisins.

For a nut free version substitute the pistachio for roasted sunflower seeds or pepitas.

The dough keeps well in the fridge while tightly wrapped in cling film and I have frozen the dough in the past as it freezes well too as the water content is quite low. If using directly from the freezer remember to store in the shape of logs and increase baking time by 5 – 7 minutes as needed. The shortbread is quite rich and 1 large-ish piece is good to eat with some iced coffee on a hot summer afternoon that February brings quite often.

Vegan Shortbread

Vegan Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

Contains gluten and nuts.

The Cranberry & Pistachio combination does look very festive and makes great packed gifts.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups Unbleached Self Raising Flour
  • 3/4 cup Icing Sugar
  • 1 cup Vegan Spread (I used Bio Butter which is coconut based)
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Cranberries, chopped
  • 1.5 tablespoons Shelled Pistachio, sliced into slivers
  • 1.5 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Whisk the Bio butter/ vegan spread, vanilla extract and icing sugar until fluffy in a deep mixing bowl.

  2. Stir the cranberries & pistachio pieces through the flour.

  3. Fold the fruit & flour mixture into the mixing bowl gently. Knead until a soft dough forms. 

  4. Roll into logs and refrigerate the dough if not using immediately (I didn’t, I only baked them the next morning).

  5. Preheat oven to 180° Celsius and cover a flat tray with baking paper.

  6. Either cut off 2" thick rounds for round shortbread or, flatten and cut into diamond shapes as I did on the baking tray. (Use any cookie cutter as desired really!)

  7. Bake at 180° Celsius for 18 to 20 minutes on the fan forced setting.

  8. Cool the shortbread properly and store in an airtight jar until ready to serve or, gift 😊

Brown & Wild Rice Sushi (Leftover Recipe)

It has been a busy few weeks, while I have been cooking and taking pictures, it has been one of those times where things just get left by the wayside. With the summer holidays here, my older one who has been learning cooking at school is equally enthusiastic about trying out new recipes.

Sushi is one of our favourite family food choices when eating out. The convenience of this cold, handheld food of Japanese origin is hard to beat on a hot summer day. The vinegar and rice mixture with fillings like avocado, tempura and cucumber are my favourite ones. This recipe comes from a mix of leftover brown and wild rice with some mild apple cider vinegar and filled with cucumber sticks & avocado. Serve cold with a dash of soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi for something extra 😊

Brown & Wild Rice Sushi

Quick recipe to use up leftover rice and requires no cooking.

Vegan; gluten-free and Nut-free.

Ingredients
  • 4 sheets Yaki Nori
  • 1 Leftover Brown Rice
  • 2 tablespoons Wild Rice
  • 2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Kelp Flakes
  • 6 - 8 Cucumber Sticks
  • 1 medium Avocado, sliced thinly
Instructions
  1. Mix the rice, kelp flakes, salt and vinegar together in a mixing bowl.

  2. Spread the Nori on a clean and flat surface. (The sheets I buy have markings on them, with the shiny side on the outside).

  3. Cover the Nori sheet with the rice mixture in a thin and even layer leaving, an inch from all the sides.

  4. Place the sliced fillings in a line all along the rice layer from one end to the other.

  5. Start rolling the nori carefully, (I roll away from myself) while supporting the roll.

  6. Use a drop of water to seal the other edge if required.

  7. Cut into 2 inch pieces with a sharp knife (a blunt knife tears the nori, spilling the fillings out).

  8. Eat fresh or, store covered in the fridge up to a couple of hours.

Vegan MoFo Week 3 – Ingredient Challenges “Turmeric”

Vegan month of food continues into week 3 of October with innovative themes- “Ingredient challenges”. One of my favourite ingredients to use in everyday cooking is Turmeric. The challenge inspired me to make – my – own deconstructucted Turmeric Latte mix which is all the rage in cafes here at the moment. Growing up in an Indian household, milk + Turmeric with a dash of jaggery syrup called “Haldi Doodh” was a warm comforting drink that was always there to clutch in my little hands for a variety of problems from insomnia to the beginning of a cold, or bruises and body aches that came with being a little too clumsy on the day. Talking to my mother while sipping a warm glass of “Haldi Doodh was the panacea to most of my childhood problems 🙂

Carrying the tradition forward, I now make fresh Turmeric root paste with a dash of black pepper, green cardamom, cinnamon, plus coconut sugar to mix into almond milk for a comforting drink for my little ones. The husband & I prefer to leave out the sweetener and whizz warm Almond Milk with my Turmeric Latte blend for a pre-bedtime drink. Grinding fresh Turmeric means covering most work surfaces, as light coloured work surfaces tend to stain a golden-yellow hue!

Turmeric Latte - Ingredient Challenge
Vegan; Gluten-free; Sugar-free.
Priya: Priya
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup Fresh Turmeric Root, peeled & chopped
  • 4 Black Peppercorn seeds
  • 2 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 1 inch Cinnamon Quill
  • 1 cup Almond Milk, warm
  • 1 teaspoon Sweetener, optional
Instructions
  1. Lightly roast the black peppercorn, cardamom and cinnamon in a dry pan. Cool.
  2. Grind the spices to a fine powder.
  3. Add fresh turmeric root into the grinder jar and grind to a fine paste.
  4. Store in an air tight glass jar up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  5. To use, blend 1 heaped teaspoon into 1 cup of warm Almond milk until frothy and golden. Add 1 teaspoon of Xylitol or powdered Coconut sugar, to sweeten if desired.
  6. Best enjoyed warm wrapped up in a rug while curled up on a comfortable couch.

This paste works well blend into some coconut oil to use in savoury recipes or sweet dishes like my

Golden Milk Pudding.

 

 

 

Vegan Mofo 2017: Spice Rack (Masala Dabba)

The Vegan MoFo 2017 week 2 challenge is to describe vegan cooking behind the scenes. This covers all appliances, tips and tricks, secret ingredients a.k.a. spices. Every time I get my spice box (“Dabba” in Hindi) my children seem to think the food magically transforms from bland and plain to, colourful and flavourful “get in my mouth now” food! Indian cooking does rely on a myriad of spices wet and dry. Spices range from carefully preserved & dried to freshly picked off the plant.

All spices contain active ingredients by way of essential oils that offer typical flavours to the food. These active constituents are one of the key reasons spices are so good for our health in small quantities. Dry roasting spices before adding them to a recipe definitely helps bring up the spice quotient. I do tend to make small quantities of dry spice powder combinations that are used everyday such as Garam Masala and Kitchen King Masala that are stored in airtight glass jars in the fridge (please click on the spice powders for the recipes). Here’s a glimpse into my spice box holding some of the spices I use in my daily cooking. I tend to store turmeric in a glass jar to prevent staining, both in powder and paste forms, made from dried or fresh turmeric root pieces.

 

 

The main spices that live in my Spice Rack/ Masala Dabba (Hindi),

  1. Sea Salt (Namak) – I prefer sea salt as it is not as processed as table salt.

2. Black Peppercorn (Kali Mirch) – Contains “Piperine” as an active ingredient. Usually bought as dried berries.

3. Green Cardamom pods (Choti Elaichee) – The third most expensive spice in the world after vanilla & saffron,      and one of my personal favorites for savoury & sweet dishes.

4. Black Mustard Seeds (Rai) – Contain essential oils Sinigrin Myrosin which impart a typical mustard flavour.

5. Coriander Seeds (Dhania ke Beej) – Contains essential oil Linalool accounting for the distinctive flavour. Untreated (not radiated) coriander seeds can also grow into fresh coriander plants for a kitchen garden.

6. Carom Seeds (Ajwain) – Contains essential oil Thymol, which is known to be a germicide and helps with flatulence.

7. Cumin Seeds (Jeera) – Contains Thymoquinone, cumin seeds range from black to brown and are prized in Indian cooking for their slightly lemony undertones mixed with a warm nutty flavour.

8. Fenugreek Seeds (Methi) – Contains Trigonelline, and are commonly used in Indian pickles. The flavour is slightly sweet, with bitter & nutty undertones. Used commonly in Indian cooking as seeds and leaf forms, (both dried and fresh).

 

I hope this little incursion into my Masala Dabba is interesting and inspiring. I would love to know your favorite spices in the comments below 😊

 

Vegan Zucchini Fritters – Only 5 Ingredients

Warm weather means more fresh choices at my favourite fresh food farmers markets and more  summer vegetables like zucchini. Fresh zucchini of course equals to Zucchini Fritters… vegan Zucchini Fritters! The weekly theme for Vegan MoFo for week 2 this year is a kitchen gadget I can’t live without. I went through my appliance cupboard and stopped at my stand mixer, (very useful with making my own dough  and batter); Blender (great for nut butters, smoothies, frozen desserts, soups and dips ), until I saw my Air Fryer! My Philips Airfryer is quite old (bought it in 2012) and has helped make several of my favourite foods relatively fat-free doing away with the messy deep-frying process. I have possibly deep-fried food a couple of times after my Air Fryer’s been an active part of my kitchen.

This 5 ingredient recipe is gluten-free, low-fat and made in the Air Fryer. Ready in under half an hour, these fritters taste great by themselves or combined with a salad for a filling meal.

Vegan Zucchini Fritters - 5 Ingredients

Vegan; Gluten-free; Low fat; Air Fryer recipe.

Priya: Priya@MasalaVegan
Ingredients
  • 2 Zucchini, medium.
  • 3/4 cup Besan (Chickpea Flour)
  • 3/4 cup Rice Flour (finely ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
  • Black Salt (Kala Namak), to taste
Instructions
  1. Sift the "Besan" & rice flour together in a deep mixing bowl. Toss in turmeric powder and salt to taste and whisk through.

  2. Grate the zucchini and squeeze out any excess water.

  3. Fold the grated zucchini mixture into the dry flour mix.

  4. Form round patties using wet palms and place in the Air Fryer basket.

  5. Cook for 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius and allow to cool slightly before removing from the Air Fryer basket as the patties are quite delicate when hot.

Recipe Notes

I get my Black/ rock salt (Kala Namak), rice flour and Besan flour at my local Indian grocery store. 

 

This is not a sponsored post. I really love my Air Fryer and find that it’s a great tool in my kitchen, if you liked this recipe please check out, my Air Fryer Samosa recipe  😊

Also, please do check out Cook Blog Share where my Zucchini Fritter recipe shares the space with these other gorgeous recipes!

Vegan Hummingbird Cake, Sugar-Free

The Hummingbird cake originated in Jamaica and moved to the USA and the world. There is a distinct tropical flavour with the bananas, pineapple, coconut and nuts 🌴.

The cake has a faint nod to the nursery rhyme in which the black birds were baked into a pie. However, no birds of any kind were harmed in the making of this cake!

My variation substitutes xylitol in place of sugar and some dried fruit for even fruitier cake 🎂! Using mashed overripe bananas takes the place of eggs and the pineapple purée makes for a wonderfully moist cake. I used frozen pineapple chunks blend into a smooth purée but fresh ripe pineapple would work just as well. The icing is made with softened coconut cream and xylitol “icing sugar”. Save the leftover coconut water in the can to add into the cake batter, if needed. Perfect for my next spring soirée 🎊 

Vegan Hummingbird Cake

Vegan and Sugarfree. Contains nuts and gluten.

Priya: Priya@MasalaVegan
Ingredients
  • 2.5 cups Unbleached Self Raising Flour
  • 1.5 cups Xylitol
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon Powder
  • 1/2 cup Mixed Dried Fruit(I used paw paw, raisins & sultanas)
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 cup Banana, mashed (ripe to overripe work best)
  • 1/2 cup Pineapple Purée
  • 1/2 cup Rice Bran Oil
Coconut Cream Icing
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Cream (only the thick part, reserve watery part for batter)
  • 1/2 cup Xylitol
  • 1 tablespoon Corn Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Walnuts, chopped into big pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Flakes, toasted
Instructions
For the Cake,
  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C. Spray a 9" cake pan with nonstick spray or line with baking paper.

  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour and cinnamon together. Toss the walnuts and dried fruit pieces and mix well.
  3. Whisk the puréed banana, pineapple, Xylitol and oil until smooth.
  4. Fold in the wet mixture into the dry mix and mix gently until thick but smooth batter forms. Add reserved coconut water if the batter is too lumpy.

  5. Pour the batter in the prepared cake pan.

  6. Bake for 45 minutes at 175° C or, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool cake in the pan for 10 - 15 minutes after taking out of the oven.
  8. Invert cake carefully on a cooling rack out of the cake pan.
For the Coconut Cream Icing,
  1. Powder the xylitol & corn flour finely and whisk into the coconut cream until fluffy. 

  2. Spread over a slightly warm cake as the icing hardens as the cake cools.

  3. Sprinkle with walnut pieces and toasted coconut flakes to decorate.

If you liked this vegan cake recipe, please try my Vegan Vanilla Cake here.

 

Finger Millet Pancakes (Savoury & Sweet Versions)

“Finger Millet” is a much-loved grain because it’s gluten-free and for the perceived health benefits and nutritive value. Red Finger Millet also, called “Nachni” or, “Ragi”, was a food I grew up with. Millet flour got tossed into dumplings, baked goods, dessert and most importantly pancakes!

My mother believed that all foods in their natural and unprocessed form when consumed in moderation were good for you. My little ones love pancakes and eat these hot off the pan with maple syrup and fruit preserves. The grown ups in the household prefer the savoury version with finely chopped shallots sprinkled with salt and pepper. I usually make a large bowl full of batter with fine finger millet flour and rice flour in some warm water. This batter sits in a warm spot while I get the shallots chopped. The little ones polished hot pancakes as soon as they were out of the pan dunked into maple syrup, but I did manage to take a few images of the savoury ones with different toppings 😊

 

Finger Millet Flour Pancakes

Gluten free, fat-free and ready in minutes. Choose your own toppings, or use as a wrap for veggie fillings.

Priya: Priya@MasalaVegan
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Red Finger Millet Flour, fine
  • 1/3 cup Rice Flour, fine
  • 2 - 2.5 cups Warm Water
Savoury Pancakes
  • 1/2 cup Green Shallots, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Mint Leaves, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste
Sweet Pancakes
  • 1/2 cup Desiccated Coconut, to sprinkle on top
  • Maple Syrup, to serve with
Instructions
  1. Heat a griddle pan (I used my trusty cast iron pan). (A non stick pan works just as well).

  2. Pour half a cup of batter on the hot griddle and spread around in a thin circle by tilting and rotating the griddle pan carefully.

  3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of shallots if making a savoury pancake and some salt & pepper.

  4. Sprinkle 1/2 a tablespoon of desiccated coconut, if using, to make a sweet pancake.

  5. Cover the pan and cook on low heat until the sides start to lift up.

  6. Flip over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes.

  7. Serve warm.

  8. The savoury version tastes great with some mint leaves or other toppings of choice sprinkled onn the top.

  9. The coconut pancakes taste great dunked into maple syrup or, with fruit preserves or, with chopped up fresh fruit.

Finger Millet Pancakes

I’m curious to know everyone’s favourite sweet & savoury batter, so please chip in the comments below 😊

Instant Idli (Steamed Rice Flour Dumplings)

Spring has been lurking around the corner in Sydney recently. This of course jolts me out of my hibernation to cook more food instead of curling up in a corner with a mug of soup! My biggest issue with winter are the short days and not enough daylight hours with rather bad lighting when I try to take photos of my recipes. Of course, I’m not the best photographer to begin off with, and tend to use my iPad to take most of the pictures on my bench top 😳

Now for today’s recipe,

I have previously posted a traditional Idli recipe, as it is one of the most popular South Indian rice dumpling here – How to make your Idli batter & steamed Idli dumplings the traditional way.

This instant rice flour Idli recipe is an old recipe from my mother’s cooking diary. Ready under 1 hour from start to finish, this easy recipe tastes great with Coconut Chutney, “Gunpowder” (interesting name isn’t it, 🙂 I’ll dig my recipe out soon) or Quick “Sambar” Lentil Stew to dunk the Idli in.

 Instant Idli

Instant "Idli" Rice Flour Dumplings

Vegan, Gluten free, no Oil recipe.

Priya: Priya@MasalaVegan
Ingredients
  • 2 cups White Rice Flour, coarsely ground
  • 2/3 cup Skinned Split Black Lentil Flour, fine
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 - 3.5 cups Warm Water
  • 3/4 - 1 teaspoon Eno Regular Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Rice Bran Oil, to grease the Idli Mould
Instructions
  1. Dry whisk the flours and salt together until well mixed.

  2. Mix in the warm water until a thick but smooth batter forms. Add in warm water by the spoonful to get a smooth batter. The amount of water needed depends on the coarseness of the rice flour. Set aside in a warm corner.

  3. Get a large steamer/ pot that the Idli moulds fit into and fill with water. Bring the water to a boil on high heat mad then turn the heat down to the lowest setting. (I tend to fill more water as it evaporates while cooking. Important part is to not let the boiling water near the batter while cooking.)

  4. Grease the Idli moulds/ steaming cups with rice bran oil.

  5. Stir in the Eno salt into the resting batter and mix well quickly.

  6. Drop tablespoonfuls of batter into the greased and prepared steaming moulds and set into the steamer pot. Cover the pot and steam at the highest setting for 12 - 15 minutes.

  7. Remove the moulds filled with cooked dumplings from the steamer immediately and cool for 5 - 10 minutes before gently sliding out of the moulds with a soft spatula.

  8. Enjoy hot, with Coconut Chutney or dunked into Lentil Stew.

Recipe Notes

There are different kinds of steamers that everyone uses from makeshift large pots filled with boiling water to special Idli steamers. All kinds are good as long as they hold enough water and have a separate section where the rice flour batter can cook without the water boiling into it. If the batter touches the boiling water, there will be no perfectly steamed dumplings, just a big floury, sticky mess unfortunately! I learnt this the hard way, so hope this helps 🙂

Happy Cooking 😊 If you like this recipe, please check out my other Idli recipes here –  Quinoa Idli  and 

Semolina Idli

Vegan Cinnamon Fruit Snails

Warm, doughy and buttery snails particularly, the ones filled with jam or fruit fillings are a particular favourite with my little one on cold winter days! There’s this little bakery close by where she wants to stop at regularly, just to get her favourite sweet rolls. I often give in while wondering  if that much sugar and butter is good for such a tiny body…

I have a fair bit of organic dried fruit (mainly raisins, some dried berries & sultanas!) left from my last shop. So, I decided to use my favourite dough recipe and throw in a generous helping of dried fruit with some cinnamon, and a dash of all spice to make my kitchen smell like baking in winter 😋 The little ones loved it and wouldn’t stop eating it fresh out of the oven! The few snail rolls that survived were lightly toasted for morning tea the next morning and requested all over again 😊 This is the perfect Christmas in July recipe to whip up under 2 hours from start to finish. Happy Baking!

Vegan Fruit Snails

Vegan Magic Dough Fruit Snails

Vegan, sugarfree, nut free.

Priya: Priya@MasalaVegan
Ingredients
  • 1 recipe Magic Dough
  • 3/4 cup Dried Fruit (Raisins, Berries, Pawpaw are all good)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Allspice Powder
  • Non Stick Spray
Instructions
  1. Prepare the dough and roll into a flattish rectangle. Sprinkle the fruit on top of the dough and press in palm down. Next sprinkle in the cinnamon & allspice powder all over. Spread with a flat spoon, if necessary.

  2. Carefully roll up the fruit & dough rectangle from the long end as tightly as possible.

  3. Use a sharp knife or dough cutter to cut into rolls, roughly 1/2" in width.

  4. Spray non stick spray in a round tray or cake pan and, place the snails/rolls at least a couple of centimeters away from each other.

  5. Cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm spot for 20 - 30 minutes.

  6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius on the fan forced setting.

  7. Bake the fruit snails/ rolls at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 - 35 minutes, or until a beautiful golden brown and smelling divine!

Vegan Vada Pao Rolls (Low Fat Version)

Vada Pav/ Pao, growing up in Bombay (now Mumbai) was one of my favourite foods.  This humble Indian burger is made with a soft and fluffy bread roll A.K.A. Pav/ Pao (here’s my recipe) filled with a spicy potato patty and some peanut & red chilli powder often, garnished with little pieces of red onion. Being hawker food, the spicy potato patty is deep-fried and delicious (as I realized on my most recent trip!).

Trying to recreate this at home, my first change was to either Air Fry or oven bake the patty. As I made my favourite dough recipe for the rolls, I had the potatoes boiled and ready with all the spices. The mashed potato mixture was easy to shape into marble sized balls all ready to bake, when I decided to use the dough to enclosing the potato mixture to make stuffed rolls, for faster cooking! Genius, I’m thinking but I’m sure there are other versions of this “Vada Pav” roll out there 🙂 Happy baking!

 

Vegan Vada Pao Rolls

Vegan, nut-free and low fat recipe.

Priya: Priya@MasalaVegan
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Seed Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 inch Fresh Ginger, minced
  • 2 Green Chillies, minced finely
  • 8 - 10 Curry Leaves, torn roughly
  • 2 medium sized Potatoes, boiled
  • Salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a deep pan, add the mustard seeds and cover.

  2. Cook until the seeds pop and then toss in the cumin seeds, coriander seed powder, ginger, curry leaves, green chillies and turmeric powder. 
  3. Add the potatoes and salt and mix together until well combined. Take off the heat and cool before dividing the potato mixture into 12 golf ball sized round portions. Set aside to cool.
  4. Divide the dough into round balls and flatten to a circle about 5" wide. 
  5. Put the spicy potato mixture in the centre and gently bring the sides up to seal the dough. Use a drop of water to stick the edges of the dough, if required. 
  6. Place the prepared rolls on a baking tray lined with nonstick paper and cover with a clean tea towel. 
  7. Set aside to rise in a warm place for half an hour. 
  8. In the meanwhile heat the oven on a fan forced setting to 200°C. 
  9. After 30 minutes, remove the tea towel from the rolls and spray with non stick spray. 
  10. Bake in a hot oven at 180°C for 20 - 25 minutes. 
  11. Tastes great warm or, after cooling with a warm drink. Happy baking 😊