Paneer Tomato Curry with Indian and Thai Flavors

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
paneer thai curry

More often than not, when I cook with paneer cheese it usually is an Indian-style dish, although I did once make a Thai Massaman curry with paneer cheese that certainly will be making an appearance again in the near future at the table.

This time, I went with a fusion dish, mixing up typical Indian spicing with prominent Thai flavors. It was a match made in heaven.

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Thai Coconut Mushroom Soup with Kidney Beans

Thai Mushroom Soup

Expect to see a fair number of soups offered up here for the next good while. Those who know me understand how much I detest the cold months. They also know my weakness for mushrooms. What better way to warm up than with an earthy bowl of Thai inspired goodness.

Although I am most at home with Indian cooking and spicing, over the years I have become almost as fond of Thai dishes. It's generally a spicy cuisine, as Indian is, so it's really no wonder that I gravitate toward this rich heritage of cooking. The idea of this soup especially appealed to me because in addition to coconut milk and mushrooms, the soup showcased other vegetables and, to fill it out, plump red kidney beans.

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No-Bake Coconut Oil Fudge

coconut oil fudge

I know that when most of us think of fudge, we don't think of it as necessarily being the most healthy treat, but in this case I assure you that it is. Just the goodness of coconut oil, coconut milk, raw honey, unsweetened cocoa and some vanilla with a dash of almond extract.

I've been looking for a way to incorporate more coconut oil into my diet other than just cooking with it and this recipe is key here. Just a few nibbles throughout the day and I'm getting a decent dose of this wonderful oil that has a multitude of health benefits. For a while, I tried putting some on my toast with some jam, but that just didn't do it for me. This is much tastier.

I stumbled across the recipe at The Sweet Plantain and didn't wait long before trying it. I was going to incorporate some peanut butter for a protein boost, but decided against it because I wanted to taste it with just a few heaps of cocoa and some flavoring. I'm glad I did and I suspect that I will be exploring the possibilities in the near future. Visions of mint dance in my head and maybe even dried fruit for a chunkier version.

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No Croutons Required - Inspiration from other bloggers

Well, what can I say? The roundup is super short, and that is a disappointment but I don't think you will be disappointed by the recipes that I am about to share. The challenge this month was to submit a recipe inspired by another blogger. I think perhaps us cooks get overwhelmed with the amount of recipes we bookmark from cookbooks, fellow bloggers and the net. Personally, I have trouble figuring out a meal plan sometimes because of all the choices and ideas I cook up when I can't sleep. Thanks to Janet and Johanna for submitting their mouthwatering creations.

Let's start with Janet of The Taste Space who serves up this divine Thai Sweet Potato and Kabocha Squash Stew that was inspired by Joanne Eats Well With Others. Roasted squash and sweet potato comes together with onion, garlic, red curry paste, coconut milk, white beans, peas, soy sauce and a bit of sweetener. I can't wait to try this one as I adore Thai flavors. Certainly a balanced bowl of bliss.

Thai Sweet Potato and Squash Soup

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe is up next with this lovely and nourishing Curried Red Lentil and Apricot Soup. This recipe is inspired by Janet of The Taste Space. Onion, a good amount of garlic, ginger, curry powder, sieved tomatoes, red lentils, apricots, coconut milk and coriander all come together here in this soup that would just be perfect anytime of year or day. Delicious.

curried lentil soup with apricots

As it turns out, I was also inspired by one of Janet's recipes that I had bookmarked for a while and just had to try and I surely am glad I did. I made a Sweet Potato and Hummus Soup that I spiced up. Why I hadn't thought to add hummus to a soup before is a mystery, but it was one fine comforting soup. Spicy sweet potato hummus is included in a soup with onions, carrots, almond milk, tomato, some curry powder, cayenne and lime. I was rather sparing with the spices that went into the soup because my hummus had a good kick to it.

hummus soup

Jacqueline will be hosting the December edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme.

Sweet Potato Hummus Soup with Carrots

hummus soup

Why I've never thought to add hummus to a soup before is a mystery to me considering how much I adore it, but after seeing Janet's carrot ginger lime soup with sweet potato hummus, I was sold. Chickpeas in soups and stews are always a comfort, and adding hummus with a spicy kick certainly imparted a silky and creamy texture that resulted in spoonfuls of pure bliss.

One the most attractive features of this recipe is that you won't need all of the hummus that you make for the soup itself, leaving you free to indulge in a wonderfully fresh tasting sweet and spicy hummus to be served with crackers, chopped vegetables or little toasted breads. I'm not one to complain about having hummus around for a few days!

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Pappadums with Avocado Pomegranate Salsa

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
pappadums with avocado pomegranate dip

When I heard a while back about Raghavan Iyer's new cookbook Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking with 100 Easy Recipes Using 10 Ingredients or Less, I was bursting with anticipation. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Iyer's offerings, he is also the author of one of my absolute favorite cookbooks, 660 Curries. I have cooked from and written about his books on many occasions and they all come highly recommended from my kitchen. One of the first dishes I have tried and shared from his most recent book was a wonderful chana chaat (tangy and tart chickpea salad).

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Coleslaw Bites with Jalapeño Dip

cabbage bites

Sides are often underrated, and that's a shame because there are so many interesting ways to dress up grains and vegetables and legumes.

One of my latest acquisitions for the cookbook shelf is a book all about starters and sides. Appropriately, it's entitled Starters & Sides Made Easy. Written by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek, the reader is treated to 60 easy and often quick solutions to dress up your meal, each complete with a full color photo, cute little illustrations, tips and anecdotes. There are even pages devoted to plating suggestions. The recipes are all kosher friendly too. In many cases, some of the sides could easily outshine and even be served as a main.

As this is a vegetarian site, I ought to mention this book is not vegetarian, but there are plenty of recipe ideas to please vegetarians. Vegetables, grains, dairy, and even sweets are offered up. I'm wanting to try Parmesan Sticks with Creamy Marinara Dipping Sauce, Avocado Cigars, Balsamic Quinoa Salad and Zaatar and Rosemary Baked Olives soon.

The first recipe I tried were these little fired coleslaw bites served up with one of the tastiest and easiest dips I have had for a while. I made these as part of a meal, rather than as a starter, so I made my bites larger than suggested in the original recipe. They were roughly 2 inches in diameter, but feel free to make them smaller. Better yet, double the batch because they won't last long. They really are that good and frying up the cabbage brings out its natural sweetness.

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Refried Beans with Pumpkin

pumpkin refried beans

Refried beans are one of my favorite meals to serve up and when I saw Janet's take on a classic that included pumpkin, I knew I just had to try her pumpkin-infused refried beans. And I'm certainly glad I did. I spiced my dish up and made up a big batch because leftover refried beans are always a treat too. The pumpkin flavor comes out in a subtle but distinct way that really goes well with the pinto beans and spice blend I used. Serve them up as a dip or as a filling for wraps, topped with some hot sauce and sour cream if desired, or alongside a bed of grains, such as quinoa or rice. I served mine up with some jalapeño sauce and some quinoa cakes.

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Black-Eyed Pea Tomato Curry

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
black-eyed pea tomato curry

This is a extremely easy but incredibly satisfying black-eyed pea curry that I served for a mid-week meal along with a bed of hot fresh cooked basmati rice. More often than not when I cook a meal, I end up spending a good few hours in the kitchen. Mind you, my knife skills leave something to be desired and I am easily distracted. As much as I enjoy cooking, there are times though that I just want to make something that takes little time at all, but still tastes special. I succeed with this dish.

Black-eyed peas have a rather unique earthy flavor that stands apart from other legumes. I often find myself craving them all curried up. Black-eyed peas, though they are whole beans, don't take very long to cook after an overnight soak either. Paired with hot, sour and tangy flavors, this is a winning curry that belies its simplicity.

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Hearty Lentil Borscht

lentil borscht

I adore soups year round, but there is something especially comforting about a steaming bowl of goodness on a cold autumn or winter day. Bring in the root vegetables for a nourishing dish to fight off that perpetual chill. Beet borscht is probably one of my all-time favorite winter soups, but I've never thought to make it with lentils until recently. The result of combining sweet red beets with earthy brown lentils and a zesty seasoning definitely pleased the diners and the cook too. The beets I used had some healthy beet greens topping the bunch, so I added them to the soup pot as well with the tomatoes for extra nourishment and texture.

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Spinach Rice (Palak Pulao)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
spinach rice

In my kitchen, it's easy to get excited about rice. Oftentimes, I just make up a pot and fluff it up with a generous quantity of butter and some cracked black pepper. Sometimes that is just what you want to go along with the rest of your meal. This time around I dressed it up a bit as I had some lovely fresh spinach in the fridge that I didn't want to go to waste. Pretty much as easy as boiling up some rice with few adornments, you get some earthy vegetables here in the mix that doesn't overpower curries you may wish to serve with the dish.

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No Croutons Required - The Winner for October and the theme for November

no croutons required logo

The challenge for October was to come up with a blended vegetable soup. We received quite an array of stunning entries - be sure to check them all out - but a winner we must choose. Congratulations to Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Kitchen who submitted this lovely Sweet Potato, Lime & Ginger Soup. Certainly a fine way to use up leftover potatoes.

potato soup

I will be hosting the November 2013 edition of NCR. Jac and I have been co-hosting this vegetarian soup and salad event since February 2008 - how time flies! - so, it is often a challenge to come up with the next challenge. After some thought, this month I am asking you to share a vegetarian soup or salad inspired by another blogger. In your post please give credit to the source and feel free to mention any changes you made to the original recipe.

To join in, make and document your dish, mention I am the host this month with a link back to this announcement and submit your recipe using the linky tool at the end of this post. One entry per blogger please. We very much look forward to seeing your inspired creations.