Magazine article Sunset

Vegetarian Sampler from India

Magazine article Sunset

Vegetarian Sampler from India

Article excerpt

High-flavor, low-calorie dishes to try on their own or as a whole menu

Niloufer Ichaporia's appreciation for the artful use of seasonings began at an early age. She and her boarding school classmates in Bombay, India, would fight over spices in the bottom of the soup pot the way American kids tussle over Halloween candy.

Now in San Francisco, Ichaporia finds the food of her childhood has virtues beyond its complex, inviting flavors. Many favorite dishes are vegetarian and low-calorie, qualities more and more cooks are looking for. Her recipe sampler includes the pepper water soup from her school days.

For authentic renditions, you will need to shop at an Indian grocery store. (Tamarinds are also available in Latino markets.) But you can get good results with suggested supermarket alternatives.

Indian Frying Pan Potato Souffle

Sauteed potatoes with garlic, ginger, and chilies have a puffy egg topping. The dish is good hot or cool at dinner, or for breakfast.

1 large (1/2 lb.) onion, chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh hot green chilies (Asian, serrano, or jalapeno)

4 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed

3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 cup salad oil

6 medium-size (about 2 1/4 lb. total) thin-skinned potatoes

4 to 6 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (oriander)

Salt

You'll need a 10- to 12-inch frying pan (nonstick, if possible) with a snug-fitting domed lid. In the pan over medium-high heat, frequently stir onion, chilies, garlic, ginger, and turmeric in oil until onion is limp, 8 to 10 minutes.

Peel potatoes, quarter lengthwise, and slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Add to onion and stir often, uncovered, until potatoes are tender to bite, about 15 minutes. If potatoes stick, loosen with a little water and cook until water evaporates.

Shortly before potatoes are done, beat egg whites with a mixer until stiff, moist peaks form. Beat yolks separately just to blend; fold into whites.

Stir most of the cilantro into potato mixture. Spoon eggs onto potatoes; pour 2 tablespoons water into pan at the edge. Cover and cook over medium heat until souffle springs back when gently pressed in the center, 8 to 10 minutes; sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve hot or at room temperature; add salt to taste. Serves 6 to 8.

Per serving: 217 cal. (40 percent from fat); 6.1 g protein; 9.7 g fat (1.6 g sat.); 27 g carbo.; 43 mg sodium; 106 mg chol.

Pepper Water Soup

The tart, tamarind-based soup makes a fine first course. To honor its vegetarian spirit, use water; for richer flavor, use half chicken broth.

3/4 pound (about 20) dried tamarind pods; or 2/3 cup (about 3 3/4 oz.) tamarind paste (or brick) with seeds; or 2/3 cup cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar

7 to 8 1/2 cups water

3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 tablespoons cumin seed

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 tablespoon coriander seed

1 large (1/2 lb.) onion, chopped

1 dried California or New Mexico chili (4 in. long), stemmed and rinsed, in 5 pieces

2 tablespoons fresh or dried curry leaves (optional)

2 teaspoons salad oil

1 tablespoon black or yellow mustard seed

3/4 cup tiny cherry tomatoes or halved large cherry tomatoes (optional)

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

Salt

If using tamarind pods, remove most of the brittle shells. Place tamarind with seeds in a small bowl; pour 2 cups steaming hot water over fruit. Let stand until tamarind is soft, about 15 minutes. Rub mixture with fingers to release pulp from seeds. …

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