Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Instant Pot Vegetarian Pho

A super flavorful broth, crispy tofu, herbs and banh pho; this Vegetarian take on Vietnamese Pho is super delicious. Plus it takes less than an hour thanks to the Instant Pot! 

Have you ever tried Pho?? The super yummy Vietnamese broth FULL of flavor and served with a LOT of toppings? If you have tried this, you will know how good this on a cold windy evening. It is August yet but the evenings here in the Bay Area are getting chilly. All i am craving for is something like a broth based meal that is healthy, easy to make and full of flavor! 

For those who do not know, Pho is a Vietnamese broth based soup. Pronounced as 'fuh', this is probably the MOST well known Vietnamese dish here in the US. It consists of a flavorful broth, rice noodles called banh pho, herbs and protein of your choice. It can be customized to be spicy using chilli flakes in the broth or as a topping. But don't fret; this tastes amazing even without the spice.

Traditionally Vietnamese Pho has some kind of meat in it and the broth takes HOURS of simmering time to extract the flavors. However, this recipe breaks away from both the ideas. It is a vegetarian recipe that has tofu as the protein and the broth is made quickly in the Instant Pot. Ready in under an hour, this Pho recipe can easily be customized to suit your tastes. 

With the cold days not far away, I am already dreaming of bowls full of pho and other soups. If you are like me; you have to check out these Asian Soup recipes for the cold days:

Pho has been something that I have always been wanting to make at home. The only reason I pushed it out so much is because I hated to stand by the stove as the broth simmers to infuse the flavors. With the Instant Pot it was as easy as dump, saute and cook! The broth was just as flavorful as I have had at the Vietnamese restaurants here in the Bay Area. 

The greatest contributor to the soup is the broth. Once you have the broth ready; the rest is just adding in your favorite toppings to make something that you would enjoy on a cold evening. So I would urge you to get the ingredients fresh and use them right away. That way the flavors come through really well and the soup is ALWAYS a hit! 


I made the broth using spices just like they do in North Vietnam. Feel free to drop any spice you would not want in your soup. For the toppings I used what I see most in the restaurants. However, adding basil leaves, protein of your choice, shiitake mushrooms and edamame is an option. Tofu is generally not THE ingredient in Pho, but it works well in the vegetarian version. 

The Instant Pot makes this recipe in NO time compared to the traditional method without compromising on the taste. If you are looking for more Instant Pot recipe, try one of these:

Plus, follow my Pinterest board All Instant Pot recipes in ONE for more recipes from all the contributors. There are TONS of recipes on the board for you to try! Now, head straight to the recipe below! 


For the Broth

Onion 1 medium, diced
Garlic 3-4 cloves, peeled
Ginger 2 inch piece, cubed
Lemongrass 2-3 stalks, tied together
Cinnamon 4-5 sticks
Cloves 5-6 
Star Anise 3-4 
Coriander seeds 1 tsp
Sesame Oil/Vegetable Oil 2 tsp
Vegetable Broth 4 cups
Salt and Pepper as required
Five Spice Seasoning 1 tsp

For the toppings

Firm Tofu 14 oz 
Corn Starch 1 tsp
Wide/thin Rice Noodles 1 cup
Bean Sprouts 1/2 cup
Jalapeño 1 sliced
Lemon slices 1-2
Mint Leaves a handful
Scallions 2-3 stalks
Salt 1 tsp
Pepper Powder 1 tsp
Chilli Oil/Vegetable Oil 2 tsp
Optional: Sriracha Sauce or hot sauce of your choice


To make the Tofu

Drain and press the tofu between a couple of kitchen towels. Once the water drains, cut the tofu into equal size cubes. Toss them in salt, pepper and corn starch. Mix well.

In a pan heat oil or chilli oil. Place the tofu pieces and let them brown. Turn them around to allow the tofu pieces to brown evenly on all sides.

Remove and set aside. 

To make the Broth

Set the Instant Pot to 'Saute' mode and 'Normal'. Add oil and let it heat. Once the display reads 'HOT' add star anise, cloves, cinnamon and coriander seeds. Let them roast for a minute and then add garlic, ginger and onion. 

Mix and let the onions and ginger char. Then add in the lemongrass, vegetable broth, salt, pepper and five spice powder. 

Set the mode to 'Pressure Cook' and 'High Pressure'. Close the lid, set the valve to sealing and set time to 15 minutes. Once done, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then move the valve to venting. 

Once the pressure is released, open the lid and use a fine mesh sieve to remove the solids from the broth. 

To build the Pho

Cook the rice noodles as per the package instructions. Prepare all the vegetables as mentioned.

In a bowl add the broth. Top with rice noodles, tofu, jalapeño, mint leaves, scallions and lemon slices. 

Add hot sauce or chilli oil of you like that. To enjoy, squeeze the lemon, mix everything together and enjoy! 

Friday, August 17, 2018

TEN Addictive Loaf Bread Recipes

TEN loaf bread recipes that you need to make SOON! They are colorful, flavorful and easy to make. Plus some are sweet and the rest are savory!

Loaf breads is something I love to bake! With multiple uses from sandwiches to toasts and from tea time snack to perfect accompaniment to pasta; these loaves are yummy for every meal.

Plus, they are easy to store and always LOVED by our family. Over the last few years I have baked several breads; both sweet and savory. I have used different flours and flavors to make these delicious breads. Here is a round up of my FAVORITE 10 breads from the blog. They are loved by my family and by my readers! 

Depending on the time of the year and the upcoming Holiday season; you can make any of these and enjoy them for your sandwich or toast. Don't forget to use the sweet ones grilled and served with Vanilla Ice Cream on top! That is our latest favorite grilling day dessert! 

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To get the recipes; click on the names below. You will be redirected to the original recipe below:

This is the loaf bread recipe that is the most popular among all my readers! Filled with spicy jalapeño and yummy cheddar; this bread works really well for all kind of sandwiches! 


Chocolate and Walnuts stuffed and swirled in bread flour; this Povitica is super delicious and such that you could finish off the loaf without blinking an eye! This bread is amazing with a cup of tea or coffee! You MUST try this one.

Pizza makes everything better! Even this bread is SO good with the ingredients of Pizza braided into it! Tomato based sauce, vegetables and cheese; need anything else to make the bread better? Try it NOW.

The MOST basic bread that you need really often! Sandwich bread is something we make really often using basic ingredients like flour, yeast, sugar and salt. This bread is really easy to make and is great for a week. 

Just like your favorite coffee store; this bread is full of banana, walnuts and pecans. And yes, it is freshly baked at home to serve with tea, milk or coffee! 

Fall is almost here and I am thinking of everything Pumpkin already! This multigrain bread full of pumpkin puree and studded with seeds is on my mind again! And yes, I love the color of this bread the BEST! 

This Purple bread is probably the prettiest bread I have made! It is chic, moist, yummy yet easy to make. Plus, made with 100% wheat flour, this bread is a MUST TRY for sure! 

Love Pesto sauce? Then swirl it in bread dough and make a perfect bread for a pesto sandwich! When the bread has SO much pesto in it; it is definitely filled with flavors to make a yummy sandwich! 

Fall favorite Number #2! This eggless bread is super delicious and easy to make. This orange colored bread is full of pumpkin puree and is super as breakfast with some milk on the side! 

Spinach and red bell peppers make this bread super YUM! It is swirled to give a tricolor bread that works well with sandwiches. Have you tried this yet?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Vegetable and Tofu filled Steamed Bao for #BreadBakers

These Vegan Bao buns are the perfect breakfast you need! Juicy vegetables and tofu filled in the dough and steamed to perfection; this recipe is easy to make and addictive! 

Have you all tried steamed buns before? The fluff balls of dough that are pillowy soft and cane be cut to expose the yummy filling in there? If not; I can assure you that you are missing something. If you thought the yeasty dough for bread can only be used to bake; think again! Once you try these steamed buns, you will want them really often! It happened to me so I can promise you that. 

For the longest time this recipe has been on my mind. Ever since I had a TON of these in HongKong last year. Now that three quarters of the year has gone by; I finally shot this one and put it on the blog. And with this month's #Breadbakers theme being Breakfast buns; I HAD to make them appear today on the blog. Thanks to our hostess Felice from All That's Left Are The Crumbs for this theme. 

To give you a background about my love for these buns; it started in HongKong as I mentioned. We planned to go for a vacation there last year and were asking folks we knew for recommendations on food etc. Most people told us it is a little tough for folks who do not eat meat or fish so we were a little dicey too. We packed quite a bit of snacks and ready to cook meals with us. 

But BOY; we were thrilled at the food options we could customize to make it vegetarian friendly there! And from all the things we had like Vegetarian pho, Vegetarian hot pot, Vegan Mongolian bbq, the varieties of Boba tea and other amazing dishes I fell in LOVE with the Steamed Bao. It was sold by a chain at almost every station and they all had just one type of vegetarian bao but I was not complaining! 

I enjoyed Bao for breakfast, sometimes for lunch and mid day snack too. That is when I learnt this was actually a popular breakfast there and so it was sold by stores right next to most train stations. 

Since then, these buns make a regular appearance on our breakfast menu; sometimes fresh and often made earlier and frozen for a busy day! I change the fillings often, but mostly try to add one green, one mushroom type and some protein in the form of tofu or paneer. 


These buns can be made from scratch early morning or made in advance in two ways. Either make the filling the earlier day and refrigerate. Make the bun dough the next day and steam them. Or make the buns from start to upto steaming them. Then place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Once frozen, transfer to a ziploc bag and freeze. When you need a quick breakfast; remove from freezer and steam them for 15 minutes. 

These bao buns are super versatile. Add in the filling you like; leave the ones you do not like. Add in boiled eggs, meat or paneer if you like too. Serve them as is or with some Sriracha. These baos taste great both ways. 

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For the Filling

Baby Bok Choy 1 cup, diced
Brown Mushrooms 5-6 medium
Carrot 1 medium, diced
Broccoli 2-3 florets, diced
Tofu 6 oz (~200 grams)
Napa Cabbage 1 cup, diced
Cilantro 1/2 bunch, chopped
Soy Sauce 2 tsp
Vinegar 1 tsp
Sesame/Vegetable Oil 1 tbsp
Five Spice Powder 1 tsp
Salt and Pepper 

For the Buns

Allpurpose Flour 1 1/2 cups
Corn Starch 1 tbsp
Instant Yeast 1 tsp (3 grams)
Baking Soda 1/8 tsp
Vegetable Oil 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp


To make the Filling

Wash and finely dice all the vegetables. Make sure there is no water left from washing. 

In a pan heat oil. Add in the mushrooms and let them brown. Then add broccoli, carrots, Bok Choy and Napa cabbage. Let them cook for a couple of minutes and add in tofu. Mix well and cook for a few minutes before adding cilantro. Add cilantro, season with five spice, salt and pepper and mix well. Add in vinegar and soy sauce. Mix and let the mixture cool. 

For the Bun Dough

In a bowl add water, salt and sugar. Warm in microwave to about 110-115 F. Stir in yeast and rest for 15 minutes till it blooms. 

In the base of a stand mixer or a bowl add flour, corn starch, oil and bloomed yeast. Mix together and make a soft dough. Knead well for 5-6 minutes. 

Apply some oil to a bowl and place the dough. Apply oil on top and cover. Let the dough rest for 1 hour; till it doubles in size. 

Once it doubles, deflate and divide the dough into 6-7 balls. Let them rest for 10 minutes.

To make the Buns

Cut parchment paper into squares and keep ready. Add water to pan and place a bamboo steamer in it. 

Take each ball of dough and flatten it. Add 2-3 tbsp of the filling and seal the buns. Place each bun on a piece of parchment paper. Place the buns in the bamboo steamer. 

Turn on the gas and let the water come to a simmer. Make sure the water s atleast an inch below the basket.

Once the water simmers; cover the pan and set the flame to medium. Steam for 12 minutes on medium and turn down the flame. Let the buns rest for a couple of minutes before serving. 

These taste awesome wit a side of hot sauce or just by themselves. We enjoy them dipped in a sauce made from soy sauce and thinly sliced ginger too. 

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.


Check out the Breakfast breads that our fellow #BreadBakers have prepared this month:

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Nankhatai (Indian Shortbread Cookies)

Melt-in-the-mouth Indian shortbread cookies; these nuts studded Nankhatais are super yummy when made at home! 

Have you had Nankhatai before? The MELT IN THE MOUTH Indian cookies that taste amazing with Chai or Milk? If you have not tried these yet; you MUST get your hands on a few. Better still; make them yourself using this recipe. 

Though nankhatai is pretty similar to many shortbread cookies that are made around the world; but this one is distinct in flavors. Made with Indian flavors like cardamom and nuts; these cookies are generally eggless. We make a TON of these every year for Diwali; the biggest festival for us! 

My mom always makes great nankhatais; using the method of soaking the ingredients overnight; mixing in yummy nuts and baking them to perfection. She generally uses ghee or clarified butter but I sometimes make it using vegetable oil too. This method makes them easy to make as they do not need any soaking etc. And they taste just as YUMMY! 

The last time I made these was just a few days ago; just because we wanted to enjoy some. With almost zero preparation before; this recipe comes together in 15-20 minutes and it takes 20-25 minutes to bake. So overall; you can have over two dozens of cookies in under an hour! Isn't that amazing? 

This time I chose to add roasted nuts on top of the cookies but anything from whole almonds, cardamom seeds, chocolate to just saffron works really well. I like to make different varieties of these cookies and next up would probably be the ones with chocolate.  

Nankhatai is an amazing accompaniment with cup of Masala Chai. It is one of my favorite tea time snack! Many times I have been guilty of having half a dozen in ONE go! It makes a great breakfast with a glass of milk too. 


For this recipe I used Vegetable oil instead of ghee. It is especially for people who do not consume ghee on regular basis. Plus, it is a little different from the traditional recipe that tastes jut as good. However, the same recipe can be made with ghee too.

I added just almonds and pistachios on the cookies. Adding cashews, pecans or walnuts is a great idea too. Skip or increase the amount of cardamom based on how you like yours! Or add another spice like cinnamon or powdered cloves. 

Lastly, I let the dough rest under a wet cloth for a while. Another great idea is to refrigerate it just like cookie dough. That makes it super easy to roll. However, if using ghee; it might become a little too hard so be careful.

Any yes, do not forget to make a BIG batch of these! They will vanish in NO time I promise! :)

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Allpurpose Flour 2 1/2 cups

Chickpea Flour (besan) 4 tbsp
Sugar 1 cup, powdered
Yogurt 1/4 cup, room temperature
Vegetable Oil 1 cup (can use ghee too)
Baking Powder 1 tsp
Salt 1/8 tsp
Cardamom Powder 1 tsp
Almonds and Pistachios 4-5 tsp


Chop and dry roast the almonds and pistachios in a pan on medium flame. Once they give out an aroma, turn down the flame and let the nuts cool. 

In another bowl sieve together all purpose flour, chickpea flour, cardamom powder and baking powder. Mix well and set aside. 

In the base of the stand mixer or using a big bowl; mix together oil and sugar. Keep beating till it is light yellow in color. It should take about 5-6 minutes. 

Add in the yogurt and salt; whip again. Do not over mix as the yogurt might become particulate. 

Transfer the dry ingredients into the wet and mix. Do not over beat. Just beat till the dough comes together. Alternatively; use your hands to do this step. 

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer; cover with wet cloth and rest for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile; preheat oven to 350 F/180 C. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper. 

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide it into 25-28 even sized balls. Flatten each ball and arrange them on the cookie tray. Leave 1 inch on all sides to allow expansion. Press the nuts on the cookies and bake for 22-25 minutes. 

Once they are golden brown; remove and cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container and enjoy for a week to 10 days.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Instant Pot Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese

Everyone’s classic favorite Mac & Cheese gets a makeover with the addition of Spinach and marinated Artichokes. Plus it is made super fast & easy in your Instant Pot!

Instant Pot; that wonderful addition to the kitchen that is making cooking more interesting and one pot! I have been using the IP for a few months now and I am completely LOVING it! From Indian curries to rice and from desserts to yogurt; I use it to make it all. 

Following the recipes that are all around Facebook and Instagram, all my friends now own one of these wonderful pots. So, they urge me to update more recipes using instant pot and I find myself reaching out for the pot almost every weeknight. 

For those who do not have the Instant Pot, I would urge you to get one soon. If you are not a fan, you can make the same recipes using the traditional pressure cooker. Remember; 3 minutes on Instant Pot corresponds to one whistle in traditional pressure cooker. 

This week I made FOUR different Instant Pot recipes and shot them all! So they will appear on the blog really soon. Here is the first recipe I shot this week; a yummy variation to regular Mac and Cheese. When the delicious Mac and Cheese weds the creamy Spinach Artichoke dip; it makes an awesome weeknight dinner recipe. This dish was relished by us for dinner and for lunch the day after! 

Mac n Cheese is definitely a great comfort food. But for days when you want to enjoy a variation to it; this recipe works great. With just a few ingredients, an easy to follow recipe and of course just one pot to wash; this recipe can easily become a family favorite. 


This recipe is something I tried several times using different combinations of ingredients. This final version is my favorite and the basic recipe works well for any kind of pasta shapes. I used elbow as I had a ton of those in my pantry. Any pasta shape can be used, just use more stock/water if using larger or thicker shapes. 

As we were making this only for the two of us, we added quite a bit of Jalapeno. However, the same recipe tastes awesome even without it. Again, garlic is an optional ingredient and can be skipped if you want. 

The artichokes I used were the marinated hearts. I love how they are super flavorful but fresh hearts or the canned ones work equally well. Last; use sour cream in place of mayo if you desire and if you want to make a skinny version; use half and half in place of whipping cream. 

This recipe works perfectly in the Instant Pot. But can be modified to work with pressure cooker or stove top. Just adjust the water as needed for stove top as more water evaporates when cooked open. 

Hope you enjoy this one and try it yourself! If you bought an Instant Pot; here are a few YUMMY recipes to try:

Pin for Later


Elbow Macaroni 1 1/2 cup
Baby Spinach 2 cups, roughly chopped
Artichoke Hearts 1 cup, chopped
Garlic 2-3 cloves, minced
Pink Onion 1/2 medium, diced
Jalapeno 2 tsp, minced
Olive Oil/ Unsalted Butter 2 tbsp
Whipping Cream 1/2 cup
Mayonnaise 2 tbsp
Mozzarella Cheese 1/4 cup, shredded
Vegetable Stock/ water 1 1/2 cup
Red Chilli Flakes 1 tsp
Dried Oregano 1 tsp
Salt and Pepper to taste


Turn the Instant Pot mode to 'Sau' and set to normal. Add olive oil or unsalted butter and wait till it shows Hot. 

Add minced garlic and sauté for a minute. Once the raw flavor vanishes, add onions. Cover using a glass lid and let them cook for 2-3 minutes. Uncover, mix and add minced jalapeno and artichoke hearts. Mix well and cook for another 2 minutes. 

Season with salt, pepper, oregano and chilli flakes. Mix well and add uncooked elbow macaroni. Add 1 cup of broth or water and mix well. Make sure all the macaroni is below water. If not, add some more water.

Press Cancel on the Instant Pot. Close the lid and press 'Pressure Cook'. Set time to 4 minutes and pressure to high. Make sure the vent is in sealing position and let the macaroni cook.

Once 4 minutes are up and the Instant Pot beeps, do a quick release. Open the pot and set the mode to 'Saute'. Add in baby spinach, mayonnaise, whipping cream and cheese. Mix well and add more water if required. 

Let the mac and cheese sauté for a couple of minutes, turn the Instant Pot off and serve with Garlic Bread or any bread of your choice.