Although I love eating Indian food, I’ve always found cooking it from scratch extremely intimidating. Besides from simple weeknight curries and dahls, I’ve never really gotten much further in my experimentations. So I was delighted to get my hands on Vibrant India, the beautiful new cookbook by Chitra Agrawal, chef, blogger and founder of the condiments line Brooklyn Delhi.
The book is full of inspiring vegetarian dishes taken directly from Chitra’s own family tradition. The recipes range from curries, rice, stews, pickles, salads, snacks and condiments to drinks and sweets.
There’s a ton of inspiration, flavours, colours, and practical tips in there that will help anyone gain confidence in cooking South Indian food. While some recipes require a bit of hunting for unusual ingredients and spices, others are very simple and approachable.
I first had my eyes on the spicy sweet potato buns, and then on the lemon peanut rice, but I finally stumbled upon this recipe for a soft-serve ice cream, made with 4 simple ingredients that I already had on hand – bananas, shredded coconut, cardamom, and chocolate chips.
This ice cream is ridiculously easy to put together. You basically throw all the ingredients in a food processor and blend! Who doesn’t love that.
The cardamom adds that special touch, while the chocolate makes it slightly indulgent. I enjoyed it as a soft serve, but as Chitra notes, you can freeze it overnight once blended for a harder/ice cream-like consistency. It’s super healthy too so you can basically have this for breakfast!
Recipe from Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn by Chitra Agrawal. Copyright © 2017. Reprinted by permission of Ten Speed Press.
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 tbsp dried unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tbsp bittersweet or semisweet chocolate - optional (use vegan if needed)
- A sprinkle of coconut sugar (Chitra's original recipe calls for granulated jaggery or brown sugar)
- Sliced almonds
- Peel the bananas and cut them into ½-inch disks. Place in a glass bowl or freezer bag. Freeze the bananas for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Using a food processor, pulse the frozen banana pieces. They will first get crumbly, then gooey, the look like oatmeal pieces, and then start to bunch on one side of the bowl. Scrape down the sides and keep pulsing through these stages. Eventually, the banana will become smooth and creamy, resembling soft-serve ice cream. Pulse the processor until the mixture aerates and becomes somewhat fluffy, then mix in the coconut, cardamom powder, and chocolate chips.
- You can eat the ice cream immediately; it will be like soft-serve ice cream. or transfer it to an airtight container and freeze until solid, like traditional ice cream.
- Serve with a healthy sprinkling of jaggery (I used coconut sugar), sliced almonds, and more grated coconut on top.