Quick & Easy Schezwan Sauce/ Sichuan Sauce

Its hard to not laugh while reading the Indian-Chinese section of the menu in Indian restaurants (if they offer this specialty). Only a few dishes served under this heading, may have authentic resemblance to the food prepared in China. Our friend, who is from the Sichaun, was very intrigued by this concept and the variety of innovative fusion dishes. The names are especially interesting –  Chicken 65 (with or without the dragon prefix!!), Vegetable Manchurian, and so on…. 😀

Schezwan sauce, a variant of the original Sichuan sauce from the Sichuan province of China, is quite popular in India, and in Indian restaurants here in the US. It is either mixed in while preparing the dish or served on the side as a dipping sauce. Either way, it tastes delicious!!

 

schezuan sauce (3)d

Know your nutrients: “Indianized” Chinese cuisine, although liked by most Indians, can be unhealthy. You probably already know that its quite greasy, contains high amounts of Sodium, and may contain MSG (ajinomoto) and/or artificial red color. Here’s how you can make your favorite Schezuan sauce in a few minutes, with more control over oil and sodium and no artificial colors. You can use this instead of Sriracha Sauce!

Stay tuned for recipes using this sauce to vet your appetite for Indo-Chinese, in a more mindful manner!

Per serving (1 tbsp): 69 cals |6 g total fat |3 g sugar

schezuan sauce (1)

Cooking Time: 10-15 mins

Ingredients (5 servings- 5 tbsp)

2 Kashmiri Red chili (soaked in hot water for 30 mins)- These are not spicy chilies; but are valued for the natural red color they impart.

3 large cloves of garlic

1.5″ ginger piece

1/4 yellow onion (US) or 1/2 red onion (India), diced

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 red chili powder / cayenne pepper (more if you like it HOT)

1/2 tsp sugar (optional, if your ketchup is tangy)

2 tbsp oil (3 tbsp if you want to preserve)

Salt to taste

schezuan sauce (5)c

Procedure

  1. Grind the red chilies, onion, ginger and garlic to a smooth paste with 1/4 cup water.
  2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and when its warm (not hot), add the smooth paste. Let it boil on medium heat, while stirring it constantly, for 2-3 mins.
  3. Then add ketchup, sugar, red chili powder and salt and mix well. Let it boil and thicken to desired consistency.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a bowl for serving or into a small jar for later use! Enjoy~

schezuan sauce (28)

Note:  This sauce can last for 1-2 week in the refrigerator. However, if you want to make a bigger batch and preserve it for a longer period, add additional oil (1 tbsp). I haven’t tried preserving it for a longer time, so I am not sure of its shelf-life beyond 2 weeks. If you try, please do let me know! Thanks! 🙂

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Schezuan sauce

 

 

 

 

 

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Roasted Chana Dal & Curry leaves Chutney (Indian Hummus ;)

Who does not love dosas or idlis (the South Indian crepes and soft steamed cakes) ??? They go so well with tomato chutney, coconut chutneys and sambar (South Indian Lentil Soup). But have you tried a chana dal chutney with it? If not, this is a must-try healthy chutney to compliment your favorite idlis and dosas!! I call it the Indian Hummus 😀

My mom makes this chutney every time she makes dosas (with or without sambar). I like how simple, yet flavorful this chutneys is, even without coconut!!

Chana dal chutney 3

Know your nutrients: This is a low calorie, protein dip. Chana dal like most pulses is a good source of proteins for vegetarians, and a complete protein when combined with cereals (rice, wheat etc). Roasted chana dal contains more Iron than regular chana dal because it is usually roasted in iron woks that introduces iron into the dal. Dals (& whole beans) are a good source of Magnesium and Potassium, valued for lowering blood pressure.

Per serving: 44 cals | 2 g protein | 2 g total fat 

Time: 5-10 minutes

Ingredients (6 servings)

1/2 cup roasted chana dal (split chickpeas) (~ 2oz, 56g)

1 large clove of garlic

1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

1 green chili or 1/4 tsp red chili powder

6-8 curry leaves

salt to taste

For tempering

2 tsp oil

1/8 tsp mustard seeds

a pinch of asafetida

Chana dal chutney 2

Procedure:

  1. Blenderize roasted chana dal, garlic, chili/ red chili powder, curry leaves and cilantro leaves with 1/2 cup of water to make a smooth paste. Add additional water (~1/4 cup) & blenderize again, if you prefer less thick.
  2. Heat oil in a small steel pot. When it is hot enough, but not smoking, add mustard seeds and turn off the heat. After the seeds crackle add asafetida.
  3. Allow the oil to cool down & then pour the smooth chana dal paste over the oil and mix well. Serve with idlis or dosas, and enjoy!

Chana dal chutney 4

Variations:

  • You can reserve a few curry leaves and use them for tempering.
  • You can even add the red chili powder to the tempering for deeper flavor and color.
  • Adjust the spice level by adding less or more chili/ chili powder, per your preference.

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roasted chana dal chutney

Mango Lassi/ Mango Smoothie (mmm mangolicious~)

This 2 ingredient beverage will keep you going for hours, unless you are crazy about mango, like me! Lassi, if made the right way, can be a good way to keep your hunger at bay, especially when you are fasting (Hindu Fasts). Enjoy it solo or with a snack but not with lunch or dinner, as it will really fill you up and you will probably doze off! Even half a glass (1 full small glass) will suffice! When you drink a lot of it, that’s when you need to start keeping track of your calories from this nourishing, summer drink, or just go outside & get those calories burning! 😀

mango lassi

Know your nutrients: Mango lassi in restaurants can be super rich (high calorie beverage that comes in generous serving size), but if you make it at home, you get the benefits without the disadvantage! 😉 It has the goodness that comes with low fat, plain, unsweetened, yogurt- good quality protein, calcium, vit A and the bacteria (probiotics) ! Mango…besides the deliciousness, is rich in beta carotene (which converts to vit A in our body), which you might already know.

mango lassi b

I love Alphonso mango (the King of Mangoes), and haven’t quite learned to appreciate the taste of other mangoes. I am sometimes okay with Kesar variety, but would rather reserve my loyalty for the Alphonso. Since, fresh Alphonso is not easily available here at affordable rates, I am happy to use the canned pulp (94% pulp). However, you can try this recipe with any variety. Instead of pulp, just chop up the flesh of the mango variety you like.

Here’s how to enjoy a guilt-free mango lassi, with the real taste of Alphonso.

Per serving: 107 cals | 2 g fiber | 4 g protein | 1 g total fat | Calcium & vitamin A

Nutrient-dense, lower calorie beverage 

Ingredients: (4 servings)

1 cup Alphonso mango pulp, fresh pulp from ripe mango or canned (94% pulp) or chopped pieces of ripe mango of your choice

1 cup low fat, plain, unsweetened yogurt

Water for your desired consistency

Procedure:

  1. Blenderize pulp/ chopped mango and yogurt together till smooth.
  2. Then add water to get your desired consistency. Run the blender once more or just stir well.
  3. Serve chilled &/or with topping of ice cubes or a pinch of nutmeg in small glasses.
  4. Say yumm and lick your lips!

mango lassi with nutmeg2

 

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Mango lassi

Yummy Lauki/doodhi Dhokla (steamed calabash savory cake)

After spending about 2 years (on and off) in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, it was hard to not fall in love with the Gujarati delicacies- khaman dhokla, dhokli, theplas, handva, muthiyas, undhiya etc. However, the generous use of oil/ghee made it a little hard for me to enjoy those dishes without critical evaluation. So, with some determination and courage to try out a hybrid of two of my favorites – lauki muthiya and handva, I conjured up this “formula with halves” 🙂 This makes it easier to remember the recipe too!

I will let you try this recipe, as I reminisce the days we spent in Ahmedabad. The aroma of methi theplas being roasted early in the morning by my neighbor, while I prepared tea with lemon grass, is a fond memory.

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View from our kitchen window

How to serve: Enjoy this dish with a cup of masala chai.

Know your nutrients: This dish serves as a good low calorie, nutritious snack with moderate amount of protein. Most of the snacks can be high in calories & sugar, and/or low in protein. I have used coarse semolina which contains more fiber than fine semolina or semolina flour. However, there was no source to quote its nutrient content. As such, I have used values for semolina flour.

Per serving: 103 cals | 4 g protein | 1 g fiber | 3 g total fat 

doodhi dhokla 3

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Chatpata Aloo Gobi (Spiced cauliflower potato filling for your tacos/ wraps)

A dear friend requested I post some recipes without onion and garlic. I know its not just me but a lot of people love O & G; they really make food flavorful and are part of most cuisines. I thought it would be a bit difficult to make food as delicious without these ingredients. However, my mom reminded me of some of her recipes that are in fact quite delicious, and don’t require O & G. I had somehow forgotten about those dishes :). During certain religious celebrations as well, Hindus are required to cook without O & G. Its only a matter of different combination of ingredients that make a dish lip smacking, without using a whole lot of oil! So, I hope you enjoy and let me know if you liked this dish. More such recipes on their way ~~~

How to serve: This dish can be served as a subzi with whole wheat roti, or a filling for your tacos and wraps. Add lettuce, tomatoes (and onion for those who love raw onion), lemon juice, cilantro etc over your tacos or serve as a side salad along with beaten, low fat yogurt dressing.

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Know your nutrients: Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts etc. It is valued for its anti-cancer properties attributed by glucosinolates. Make sure you prepare any of these vegetables at least once a week! Enjoy 2-3 servings of this dish and reap the benefits as well. It also contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect your body from oxidative stress and builds resistance.

This is a low calorie, high fiber dish with vitamin C.

Per serving: 97 cals| 3 g protein | 3 g fiber | 5 g total fat | 56 mg vitamin C

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