Tag Archives: spinach

Healthy Udon Noodle with Crunchy Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce & Chinese Chilli Oil

2 Aug

EEEeeeeek! I’m sooo excited! This is my very first guest post and it’s by none other than Soapsuds and Doodles who happens to be my classmate at Warwick and also a recently converted health freak! Here she is sharing a recipe from her very own customised diet. It’s an absolutely delicious  and experimental (yet simple) dish and her descriptions+ photographs will want to make you eat the screen! A complete winner in my opinion 🙂 I hope you enjoy it just as much as I have! ♥

After devouring a giant bar of Toblerone for both breakfast and lunch a couple of weeks ago (you know – the kind that’s compulsory for everyone going through airport duty free), something told me it was time for a major diet revamp.  I love salads, fresh vegetables and low fat Japanese cuisine but by-and-large, I’m not a health food person so for me to switch to eating wholesome things permanently, they’d have to be pretty darn tasty.  Live to eat, am I right?

Shriya gave me a great idea when she mentioned that one of her kitchenmates constantly eats stark meals of noodles and boiled vegetables with a little seasoning for taste.  I figured that with the right sauces and herbs, such a dish could be a really quick, healthy lunch option and set out to recreate it my own way.

The secret ingredients in this are a fermented black bean sauce and a traditional Chinese chilli oil (make sure you buy a really tasty version because some brands they sell in the West can be quite bland – I recommend Lao Gan Ma.  You know you can’t go wrong when it has a man’s face on it).

The black bean sauce gives it a nutty, salty soy flavour and the chilli oil adds a garlicky kick.  And the thing I love about this meal idea is that you can do almost anything with it.  Jonesing for meat?  Throw in some shredded chicken breast.  Want it cold?  Boil up some soba and soak in dashi.  And I’m sure it’ll be just as amazing with dried chillis and fried onions on top for some added crunch.

My specific recipe uses mushrooms, pak choi, spinach, cucumber, fresh coriander and chilli for a zesty, fresh flavour.  I make it with chewy udon and the resulting dish is a bright, fragrant tangle of firm, earthy noodles and mushrooms, juicy pak choi stems and crunchy vegetables that won’t make you feel guilty about dessert – if you still have space for it!



What you need:

A deep pan or saucepan

A big noodle bowl (I love this pretty pyrex bowl that I found at Tesco for £3 because I can see the colourful veggies right the way down and it makes me feel extra healthy.  Whatever works, right?)

A colander (I made one batch without this and everything was swimming in icky oily water.)

Fresh udon (or noodle of choice.  I use a brand that comes with pre-packed portions.)


A quarter of a cucumber

One bunch of pak choi

A handful of mushrooms

A fresh red chilli

Handful of coriander

Handful of spinach

Half a teaspoon of chilli oil

Half a teaspoon of fermented black bean sauce (The amounts for the last two condiments are estimates – adjust them to regulate saltiness and spiciness.)

What to do:

1)  Cut the bottom off the pak choi.  Slice the cucumber, chilli, coriander and mushrooms.

2)  Put the raw cucumber, coriander and chilli in your bowl.

3)  Put in half a teaspoon of black bean sauce.  Drain the oil from half a teaspoon of the chilli oil mixture and put in the remaining chilli flakes and bits.  It’s important to drain the oil and just use the bits or it completely defeats the “healthy” intention.

4)  Heat water in your deep pan or saucepan.  Bring to the boil, put in the udon, mushrooms and pak choi and let boil for about three minutes.




5)  It’s ready when the pak choi turns a deeper green and the udon strands seperate when you stir them with a fork.  (About three minutes.)

6)  Throw in the spinach to wilt then immediately turn the heat off.

7)  Drain, toss in bowl with raw veggies and condiments.


8)  Eat like you’ve never eaten before.  At least, that’s what I do!  Enjoy!

In Sickness and in Health: Sweet & sour Spinach soup with nuts

6 Jun

This is a wonderful recipe that belongs to my mum. I have never been an avid eater of spinach. Actually, I mostly try and avoid it. But this particular dish is so yummy that I can help but eat a few bowlfuls.

If you are somebody who cannot stand that distinct smell and taste of spinach, then this dish is worth a try, because by the end you will really not be able to tell that you’re eating spinach! It’s tangy-ness  hits the back of your palate, the balance of sweet and salty and the crunch of the nuts under your teeth, is a delight both taste and texture wise.

This is a great soup when you’re feeling sick (spinach is great for strength. Remember Popeye? Its full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and iron) or when you’re looking for something exciting to go with your meal.

(Although I’m calling it a soup, back home in India this is a ‘bhaji’ or vegetable to be eaten either with roti or rice.)

What you need:

300 gm of Spinach leaves (stalks cut)

7-8  cloves of garlic pounded/ finely sliced

a small piece of ginger grated / finely sliced

half a cup of cashew nuts (I personally prefer peanuts instead of cashews)

2 tbsp gram flour (if gram flour is hard to find, you can use regular flour instead, but it will compromise on the flavour a little)

2 tbsp tamarind pulp (or better still, a lemon-sized portion of fresh tamarind)

4 cups of water

Salt to taste

Sugar to taste

1 tsp fennel seeds

For the Tadka (or garnish)

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp hing

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves of garlic pounded)

1/2 tsp dried corriander powder

1/2 tsp fennel powder

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

(when giving the tadka, try to follow the sequence in which the ingredients are listed)

What to do:

Boil the spinach leaves in 4 cups of water with garlic, ginger and fennel seeds in a pot until soft. Leave it aside to cool.

When cooled, crush the leaves with the back of a wooden spoon (or anything else that is strong) to make them  more fine. Add gram flour, tamrind pulp, cashews , salt and sugar. Keep it on sim till the cashews cook.

For the Tadka, heat oil in a saucepan until its really hot. Now add the ingredients in the same order as given above. Switch off the heat when the spices are sufficiently fried (this usually takes a minute).

Now add the the tadka to the soup. Done!

Serve it hot on its own, or as we traditionally do with plain steamed rice or warm rotis.

(Note: Since the soup tends to get thicker as it cools down, add sufficient water and heat the next time you want to eat it. )

Palak Biriyani

11 Apr

So this is a total throw-all-your-bits and bobs-in-the-pot kind of recipe. Basically, I had some beans, some carrot, half a capsicum and some mushrooms lying around, so I decided to put it all in the biriyani and it turned out quite awesome.

What you need:

1/2 tin chopped Spinach
1 cup yoghurt
1 inch cinnamon
2-3 cloves
2-3 cardamom pods
4-5 pepper corns
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp biriyani masala
2 cups rice
3-4 tbsp oil
chilli powder to raste
salt to taste
any/all vegetables lying about, chopped

What to do:

Boil rice and keep aside.

In a deep vessel, heat up the oil. Once hot, add the whole spices, onions and ginger garlic paste. Saute until the onions are golden brown.

Now add the spinach and saute till the flavours nicely combine. Now add the yoghurt and give it a stir.

Add vegetables, the biriyani masala and cook on medium flame until the vegetables are cooked.

Add to this rice and stir until everything is mixed properly. Now add salt. You’re ready to go!

For garnish, you can fry onion slices until crispy brown and sprinkle them on top.