Category Archives: Main dish

Monggo Beans

It has been quite a while since I posted any recipes, but here’s one that I wanted to share! I have been working through my pantry, trying to use up ingredients that have been sitting around too long.

One of those ingredients was dried mung beans. Since I also had coconut milk in the pantry, the recipe that jumped out at me was a Filipino recipe of mung beans with coconut milk, garlic and ginger. It was easy and delicious, not at all spicy but a tasty flavor combination.

Monggo beans

Find the recipe on Pinch of Yum – I used spinach instead of malunggay leaves.



Green Tomato & Dal Stew

In my produce box this week I ordered 4 green tomatoes, an ingredient I have eaten but never cooked with.  Searched around the internet, and I found the results of a green tomato recipe contest on the blog, for Roopa’s Green Tomato and Lentil Stew (aka: Thakali Masiyal).

I pretty much followed the recipe on this page exactly, except that I didn’t have toor dal (yellow split peas), but I had chana dal (split small black chickpeas that look very similar!).  So I substituted the chana dal which just had to be cooked a bit longer until tender (more like 45 minutes for that first step). After the dal was tender, I added the tomatoes plus one long green chile and one jalapeno for a little kick.

green tomatoes

I used two of the green tomatoes, one had a blush of pink in it, and then added some riper cherry tomatoes for the last 1/2 cup or so needed for this recipe. The dish looked pretty pale and non-descript at that point, but after stewing for a longer time and adding the tamarind and spices, I ended up with an appetizing stew – about 3 servings using this recipe.

Thakali Masiyal

The green tomatoes and tamarind make this a sour/tangy dish, but also very good without being ultra-spicy.  I found some papadam in my pantry, so I cooked up a couple of those to eat with the stew and it was nice to have the crunch and pepper flavor to balance the stew.  Overall a nice dish and very simple to make.

I still have 2 more green tomatoes, and may try grilling them with this recipe from Southern Living –


Celery Stew – Khoresh Karafs

I’ve been getting fresh produce deliveries from The Produce Box this spring, and two weeks ago I received three beautiful bunches of NC-grown celery. The celery has very thin stalks compared to grocery store celery, because it’s a different variety that is able to grow in this climate. In addition, there were a lot of wonderful leaves.

That’s a lot of celery for one person!  In thinking about how to use it, I remembered an Iranian dish called Celery Khoresh, or Khoresh Karafs. Khoresh, you may remember from previous posts, is a stew usually consisting of meat and vegetables. In past posts, I have shared recipes for chicken and artichoke khoresh and yogurt-simmered chicken khoresh.  Today’s recipe is a celery and beef stew.

I looked at two recipes online and cobbled together my own version based on what was available in my pantry.   My version below will serve 4-6 people.

Celery Khoresh
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp. turmeric
1.5 lbs. stew meat (beef or lamb, cut into cubes)

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and slowly saute the onions and garlic until they are starting to brown. Add the turmeric and stir to cook about 1 more minute. Then add the stew meat and turn up the heat a bit. Stir until the meat is sealed on all sides, it will probably not have enough room to brown the meat unless you have a very wide pot, and that’s ok. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a simmer.


1 Tbsp. olive oil
Celery, 3 cups chopped
2 Tbsp. dried mint
1 c. parsley or celery leaves

Meanwhile, chop up your celery into 1-inch pieces, and saute them in oil until they are starting to brown around the edges. Add in the mint and celery leaves and stir until wilted. Add to the meat stew. There should be enough water to just cover everything, but you can add more as needed.

Add 1 tsp. salt, cover and simmer for about 1.5 hours.  Remove the lid from the pot and add;

6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. lime zest
1 Tbsp. dried mint
2 tsp. dried dill
1/2 c. parsley or celery leaves
juice from one lime

Cook for another 30 minutes uncovered, so that the liquid reduces somewhat. Just at the end, stir in the juice of one lime and season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice.

It’s quite tasty, but you have to really like celery!  Which I do.

celery khoresh

Creamy Eggplant – Mediterranean Dinner, part 1

Every year, our church has a fundraiser auction to raise money for our youth group. This year, I planned a Mediterranean 3-course dinner and auctioned off seats for five guests to join me for the meal.  I’ll share the menu in two parts.

I’m going to start with the new main dish that I learned from this meal, called Sultan’s Delight – a creamy eggplant base topped with lamb stew.

This is a different way of cooking eggplant, and it made a wonderful creamy puree that everyone loved. It was probably the most talked-about part of the meal. This dish could sway even those folks out there who don’t think they like eggplant.  I followed the recipe on a blog called Almost Turkish Recipes, the only change that I made was in the preparation of the eggplant after roasting. Where it called to mash the eggplant with a fork, mine was pretty stringy so I went ahead and pureed it in a blender, which resulted in a very smooth end product.

eggplant bechamel

After roasting and mashing/pureeing the eggplant, you make a creamy bechamel sauce and mix it in with the eggplant.  The other addition is a turkish cheese called kashkaval. I was able to find this cheese at our local Lebanese restaurant & grocery, Neomonde. It is a sheep’s milk cheese, very mild flavored and soft enough to melt into the dish.

In Sultan’s Delight, this creamy eggplant puree is topped with a tomato lamb stew.  I need to find a better place to buy lamb meat, but what I found this time was a stew meat.  Unfortunately, there was very little meat on the bone. I also found the stew as listed on the blog linked above to be less flavorful than I wanted. So I made some adjustments, here’s a summary (I don’t have amounts, since I was just making it up as I went, sorry!).

I browned the lamb meat, onions and green pepper, and added the tomatoes, tomato paste and water to stew the lamb for 1 hour as described in the other blog. Then I extracted the meat and cooled it down so that I could pick off the meat. When I saw that there was not enough meat and it didn’t seem tomato-y enough, I started over by browning beef chunks. To this, I added more tomato paste and added back the rich lamb broth (bones do add a lovely depth of flavor) and the bit of lamb meat that I had extracted. It was stewed down for awhile and then reheated the day of the dinner, which resulted in a tender and flavorful topping for the eggplant.

sultan's delight

Soto Ayam

This weekend I finally had an opportunity to make soto ayam, a recipe shared from my friend Hans who lived in Indonesia for a number of years.  Soto ayam is a chicken coconut curry soup with lots of ginger and its relative galangal, also an aromatic tuber.

soto ayam without toppings

The soup itself is flavorful, but you can see from this picture that it doesn’t look very exciting, even with the chicken chunks and rice at the bottom of the bowl.  What makes this dish a fun party food (and a fresh and hearty meal) is all the toppings that go with it!

soto ayam

Isn’t that better?  This recipe is included in our Flavors of the Triangle cookbook (now on sale at the Ten Thousand Villages store in Cameron Village, Raleigh).

Soto Ayam
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 shallots (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (ground or finely chopped)
1 Tbsp. turmeric powder
2-inch piece galangal (peeled, ground)
2-inch piece ginger (peeled, ground)
Vegetable oil
2 glasses water
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
1 stalk of lemon grass (cut into 3 strips)
Breast meat from 1 chicken (cubed, about 1.5-2 lbs.)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Warm the spices (coriander through ginger) in a large stock pot, then add a bit of oil to cook lightly, until it turns slightly brown and fragrant. Add water, chicken broth, coconut milk, and lemon grass strips. When the broth is boiling, add the chicken, then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Add salt to taste, and season with fresh lime juice.

Serve (with sambal – hot chili paste) over cooked rice, then let your guests add:

2 c. chopped, blanched green cabbage
2 eggs, cut into wedges
2 c. bean sprouts
3 Tbsp. chopped celery leaves
1 small package soaked glass noodles
Crushed potato chips
2 limes, cut into wedges

I’d estimate that this amount of soup serves about 8 people.

Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchijeon)

It looks like I’m going to have a couple more kimchi-related posts until I can use up all the kimchi that I made!  Tonight’s supper was kimchi pancakes.

I found a couple of different recipes, one with a stiffer flour and water batter and one with added egg, one with just kimchi and one with shredded potatoes added. I didn’t have a potato in my pantry, but I did have a sweet potato. So I decided to use that instead, and it turned out to be a good combination – with the sweet of the potato balancing out the hot and sour kimchi. Here’s the hybrid recipe;

Kimchi and Sweet Potato Pancakes
4 oz. kimchi, chopped
1 cup shredded sweet potato
1 egg
2/3 c. flour
1/2 c. water
vegetable oil for frying

Shred sweet potatoes, and finely chop the kimchi.



Whisk together the egg, water and flour until you have a smooth, thin batter.


Stir in the kimchi and potatoes.


Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan, then spread the pancake batter about 1/4-inch thin. Fry until golden brown on both sides, slowly to allow the sweet potato to cook within the pancake. Continue to cook the remaining batter, adding more vegetable oil as needed.  Makes about three pancakes, 6 inches in diameter.


I ate the pancakes with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce, very tasty!

Jjajangmyeon – Noodles with Black Bean Sauce

Korean food contains influences from both Japanese and Chinese cooking, due to the intermingling of the nearby cultures over the years. Jjajangmyeon is a Chinese-influenced dish using black bean paste as the flavoring. Once the ingredients for this dish are chopped and measured, this is a quick stir-fry perfect for a weekday evening.

jajangmyeon ingredients

7 oz. noodles (I used Korean wheat noodles, but you could substitute angel hair vermicelli)
1/4 c. olive oil
8 oz. pork loin, cubed
1 onion, cubed
1/2 zucchini, cubed
1/2 c. black bean paste
2 tsp. sugar or Splenda
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. water

Bring water to boil for the noodles while you prepare the other ingredients. Have everything ready and measured ahead of time for this stir-fry. Dissolve the sugar and cornstarch in the water, it is added as a thickener at the very end.

Cook noodles until tender (time varies depending on what type of noodle you’re using, check the package). Meanwhile, stir-fry the pork in olive oil over high heat. When the pork is cooked through and lightly browned, add onion, zucchini and black bean paste. Stir-fry until zucchini is tender, about 3-5 minutes. At the very end of cooking, add sugar, cornstarch and water and bring to a boil just until thickened.

Serve noodles topped with black bean sauce.  This makes 3 servings.


NOTE: the black bean paste is already quite salty, so you probably don’t need to add additional salt, even in the cooking water for the noodles. When I make this again, I will add some more veggies into the mix – especially sugar snap or snow peas for a little additional sweetness to balance the salty flavor.

There’s also a good video online showing you how to make jjajangmyeon (or called jjajangbap if you serve it with rice instead of noodles). I like the idea of stir-frying the vegetables first for a little bit before adding the black bean paste, and adding a bit of water at that point too, because it spattered a LOT when I added the paste into the mix.

Adapted from: Discovering Korean Cuisine: recipes from the best Korean restaurants in Los Angeles