May 21, 2015

Indian Pappadam Crackers with Curried Cashew Dip

Think chips and dip, but different. It’s like tortillas and sour cream went to India and came back gluten-free and vegan–Indian pappadams with creamy curried cashew dip.

Indian Pappadam Crackers with Curried Cashew Dip

Pappadams magically puff up and bubble when fried in oil, toasted on the grill, or, literally, popped in the microwave. The crunchy crackers are made from lentil, chickpea, or rice flour, and are commonly served as bread in southern India. Pappadams as appetizers are unique, get people talking, and pair well with spicy sauces, like this fresh chile and cilantro curry. You can count on them for foodie entertainment.

Pappadams for Curried Cashew Dip

The easiest way to cook pappadams is in the microwave–in just 30 seconds they inflate from paper-thin wafer into a light and delicate ruffled snack. If you don’t want to use the microwave, toast them over a stovetop flame or fry them in oil as directed on the package. As soon as the entire disk has bubbled and puffed it’s done.

Ingredients for Curried Cashew Dip

This pale green curried cashew dip is a cinch to make. Plan to soak the cashews in water ahead of time–you can do that the day before and let them soak in the refrigerator. In between cooking the pappadams, sauté shallots and curry powder to puree with the cashews, fresh ginger, and serrano chile. Stir in chopped cilantro at the very end.

Shallots with curry for Indian Pappadams with Curried Cashew Dip

I have to tell you, curried cashew dip is more than a scrumptious dip. Spread it generously on thick slices of bread. Thin with water into tasty salad dressing. Two chiles make it fiery; one chile brings pleasant zippy heat—make it as picante as you like. Spicy flavorful curried cashew dip adds gusto to ordinary grain, bean and veggie meals. Whip up a double batch and dress up dinner.

You might see the crispy chips spelled puppodom or pappadum on labels and on Indian restaurant menus. Pappadams come plain or spiced; my favorites are the black pepper speckled ones. Find them in well-stocked grocery stores—check the international sections. Or you can order pappadams online through my Amazon link.

Amaze your friends—puff pappadam and dip away. Chips and dip, but different.

Indian Pappadam Crackers with Curried Cashew Dip

Cashew soaking and blending notes:
Soften cashews by soaking in water so they easily blend into smooth purees. If you have a high speed blender, e.g. Blend-Tec or Vitamix, cashews only need to soak a couple of hours. If using a regular blender, it helps to soak cashews overnight, and it can take up to 3 minutes to puree into smooth and creamy.

*Smoothie Cookbook Giveaway* Did you catch last week’s Berry Blue smoothie recipe from Best 100 Smoothies cookbook? Would you love to win a copy of the cookbook?
Here’s how: Go to Letty’s Kitchen Facebook Page. Like my Page AND leave a comment. From the entries, one winner will be pulled out of the hat (with closed eyes) on May 28.

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Indian Pappadam Crackers with Curried Cashew Dip

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Makes about 1 ½ cups dip.

Serving Size: Figure 2 or 3 pappadams per person.

Indian Pappadam Crackers with Curried Cashew Dip

Crazy bubbly puffy pappadams couple perfectly with this creamy spicy vegan dip. Leave the crackers whole and so people can break them into shards themselves, or break them into 3-inch chips before arranging on platters. For added flavor fun, put out a second dunking option; purchased chutney, or a not-too-chunky salsa, for example.

Ingredients

  • Plan on 2 or 3 pappadams per person.
  • For the dip:
  • 1 cup raw cashews, whole or pieces (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 3/4 teaspoon prepared curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon Real Salt
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped, about 1 tablespoon
  • 1 or 2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped (I used only one)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. For the pappadams:
  2. Deep-fry, toast over an open flame, or microwave the flat round disks following the cooking instructions on the package. Each method puffs up a little differently: Crackers fried in hot oil expand the most; cooking over an open flame adds a smoky char flavor. For a slightly more sturdy texture, brush the uncooked wafers lightly with oil before cooking in a microwave. Figure 2 or 3 whole pappadams per person.
  3. For the curried cashew dip:
  4. Put cashews in a bowl, cover with water and refrigerate. Let soak 2 to 4 hours. (see note)
  5. Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the shallot and cook and stir until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cumin and cook another minute. Let cool.
  6. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews. Put in a blender. Add lemon juice, salt, ginger, chile, cooled curried shallots and 1/3 cup of the water.
  7. Blend until very smooth, adding more water, a tablespoon at a time, as needed for a smooth puree. Stop to scrape down the sides of the container.
  8. Taste and add more salt if you like. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Whole cashews need to soak and soften for more time than cashew pieces.
  • Microwave cooking times may vary due to different power wattages. Cook a test pappadam first, and adjust your cooking time accordingly.
  • As soon as the entire disk has bubbled and puffed it’s done—any longer, it quickly burns.

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May 12, 2015

Simply Smoothies and Cookbook Review

What do you eat for breakfast? Granola? Scrambled eggs? Oatmeal? Nothing? I’m going to argue that smoothies are the easiest and most nutritious way to start your day. In our kitchen, mornings mean blender front and center–simply smoothies.

Berry Blue Simply Smoothies

Robbie starts his smoothie by pouring milk, almond or soy, into the blender; mine begin with a cup of water. We both add a banana and another fresh fruit, depending on what’s in season or on sale; half of a pear or mango. We blend in chia seeds, and if there’s kale or parsley in the fridge—oh why not—in goes the green. Frozen berries color the whole concoction beautiful drinkable blue.

Our smoothies are simple and easy, and though they’ve evolved over the years, they don’t vary much from the old groove. I am trying to get more protein in the mornings and this year started adding a high quality vegan protein powder or almond butter, or sunflower seeds.

Horchata Simply Smoothies

Lately we’ve been stepping out of our usual smoothies routine, inspired by a new cookbook by fellow Utah blogger Deborah Harroun of Taste and Tell. It’s titled Best 100 Smoothies for Kids: Incredibly Nutritious and Totally Delicious No-Sugar-Added Smoothies for Any Time of Day. Continue Reading…

May 4, 2015

Lemon Honey Chiffon Cupcakes

Mom would have loved these lemon honey chiffon cupcakes, and not just because I made them. She loved lemon. She had a go-to lemon chiffon cake recipe that she always made for parties, potlucks and picnics, one of those cakes that you poke a skewer all over, creating holes for glaze to soak into. Cake mix was her friend, for sure the recipe came from the box.

Lemon Honey Chiffon Cupcakes

Little crevices cut out of each lemony not-too-sweet cupcake–holes bigger than the toothpick holes in Mom’s cake–hide a spoonful of honey lemon curd that, when you bite in, brings a tart pop of creamy lemon. You can see the yellow curd peeking out of the inside because there is no frosting, but even with that hint, the punch of lemon is a mouth-pleasing surprise. Continue Reading…

April 28, 2015

Mellow Miso Dressing + Weekday Salad

Today I am sharing my favorite and very delicious mellow miso dressing + weekday salad—with tips for putting together a salad in a jiffy. A colorful yet simple tossed green salad always goes with dinner–that’s how we roll at our house. Weekday salads insure our daily dose of healthy raw, fresh nutritious veggies, no matter what else we eat that day.

Mellow Miso Dressing + Weekday Salad

To make this thick and creamy dressing that’s all-in-one lick tart, sweet, salty and umami, you whir white miso with rice vinegar, honey, oil, and a smidgen of green onion in a blender. Mellow miso dressing tantalizes your tongue with every crunchy bite of lettuce, carrot, tomato–everything you add to your salad. Continue Reading…

April 20, 2015

Easy Honey Hemp Bars {gluten-free}

This recipe comes from a marvelous cookbook called Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies. Easy honey hemp bars sparkle with light-as-air puffed brown rice, bits of nutritious flax, sesame, pumpkin and hemp seeds, tangy red goji berries and buttery-rich pecans. That means a whole lot of healthy love.

Honey Hemp Bars

As the title hints, author Alice Medrich cleverly organizes her cookie recipes by texture. Nourishing gluten-free honey hemp bars hang in the Chewy chapter, though these addictive little munchies could easily go in Crunchy or Crispy. The cookbook is full of tempting cookies and bars, including a nice selection of whole-grain, wheat-free and/or diary-free recipes. Continue Reading…