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Sunday, August 02, 2015

Almond Panko Encrusted Baked Stuffed Okra

Almond Panko Encrusted Baked Stuffed Okra


Sometimes, the work involved to get the finished product seems worth the effort. Sometimes, not. I think this dish is worth the time and labor, although that depends on ow many okras one wants to prepare at a time in this manner.

Nutty, crispy coating, along with spicy stuffing makes these quite the versatile finger food. I decided to make just about 15 to 16 okras at this time, just enough as an appetizer for the two adults. Kids will take the sole courtesy bite per the house rule and declare it delicious but unsuitable for them at this time.

Almond Panko Encrusted Baked Stuffed Okra


Stuffing can be anything that will fit in he slit - grated cheese, sliced onions, jalapeno, even any cooked meats as long as it is minced or chopped small enough to fit. I went with simple mint chutney and thinly sliced red onions.

Almond Panko Encrusted Baked Stuffed Okra


Ingredients
16 medium sized okras
1 cup seasoned Panko bread crumbs
1 cup ground raw almonds, seasoned
1 cup buttermilk
Stuffing: store-bought mint chutney, red onions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 °F
  2. Slit the okra but not slice it all the way through
  3. Push a thumb through the slit to get the sides separated enough to make a smallish pocket
  4. Slather some chutney and push in a small amount of stuffing
  5. Leave the stuffed okra in a shallow bowl of buttermilk 
  6. Mix the ground almonds and Panko seasoned crumbs together and keep it handy in a plate
  7. Take a few okras at a time out of the buttermilk, press into the almond+panko crumb, turn to coat all sides
  8. Place in a greased roasting pan
  9. Drizzle with oil and bake for about 20 minutes till okra is done and the crumb coating is crisp and golden brown
  10. Remove from heat, serve warm with dips and chutneys


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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Purple Pleasures: Purple Carrots, Purple Beets, Purple Cabbage, Purple Onion Relish

Purple Pleasures: Purple carrots, Purple Beets, Purple Cabbage, Purple Onion Relish


Summer is the only time we visit the farm often, naturally. During each of these farm visits that are primarily focused on berry-picking, I exercise my right to loiter in the market attached to the farm, mentally salivating and resisting the urge to grab a bunch of each and every single produce there. That is, until the other adult gently but insistently escorts me to the checkout.

While the escort maneuvre was in progress last weekend, I held up a bunch of purple carrots grinning from ear to ear. But you have a pound of carrots at home already, he reasoned. Ah, but they are not purple, I clarified. You are going to be eating a lot of carrots this week, the wise septuagenarian co-shopper explained to him genially, all the while beaming at me. I could have hugged her right then.


Purple Pleasures: Purple carrots, Purple Beets, Purple Cabbage, Purple Onion Relish




The bright purples were irresistible at the farm market and so they came home with me, with no particular agenda except to use them as wisely as possible: purple carrots, purple cabbage, purple beets, purple onions. Well, sometimes the cabbage and beets fall under the "red foods" category, but, they seemed quite the purple to me this time so purple they shall be.


Ingredients
¼ cup finely chopped garlic
2 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 medium purple/red onion grated
1 cup grated purple cabbage
2 cups grated purple beets
2 cups grated purple carrots

Flavoring:
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup balsamic
1 teaspoon dried caraway seeds or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 Tablespoon red hot chili powder or ground black pepper (adjust to taste)
4 Tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste

¼ cup canola oil

Preparation
  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add garlic, ginger and onions, saute till aromatic
  2. Add the grated beets, carrots, cabbage, some salt, and stir in the rest of the flavoring ingredients
  3. Allow to simmer till liquid evaporates and the relish comes together to a coarse spreadable consistency
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning
  5. To preserve it, canning is done in a boiling water bath, just standard procedure


Purple Pleasures: Purple carrots, Purple Beets, Purple Cabbage, Purple Onion Relish


Ways to savor the Purple Carrot Beet Relish:
  1. Mix with goat cheese and cream cheese and use it as a sandwich spread
  2. Stir some in with thick Greek yogurt and use it as a Wrap sauce
  3. Add a dollop of it to crackers and enjoy with cheese
  4. Toss some cooked pasta with the beet relish, top with feta or other favorite cheese and enjoy a quick tasty meal minus the tomato sauce
  5. Spread it on a pita or naan, top with avocado, watercress, snow peas and spring onions, fold in half or roll it up

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Green Papaya and Purple Carrot Thai Salad


Green Papaya and Purple Carrot Thai Salad

Trips to Farmer's Market make me giddy. So many colors, so many fresh and earthy goods  make it hard for me to pick just a handful to bring home.

Green Papaya and Purple Carrot Thai Salad

Today, I couldn't resist the bunch of purple carrots and a lovely green papaya. So, they came together for a Thai-style salad with some other items thrown in.

Green Papaya and Purple Carrot Thai Salad



[image source: Amazon.com]

Ever since last Winter when I got this Spiralizer as a present, it has been a temptation to put all possible vegetables through it and see how they turn out. Everything from zucchini, carrots, potatoes to beets, green papaya and raw green mangoes have been Spiralized over the months.

Rather than Mandolin slicer that I am mortally afraid of, I went with Spiralizing the veggies for this salad.

Ingredients
1 to 2 cups Spiralized or Julienned raw green papaya
1 purple carrot Spiralized
1 orange carrot Spiralized
A handful of spring onions sliced thin
About a handful of thinly sliced red onions
2 green chilies thinly sliced
Chopped cilantro
Crushed roasted salted peanuts
lemon wedges for garnish

Dressing
1 Tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar

Preparation
1. Combine the dressing ingredients and stir well 
2. Layer the papayas, carrots, chilies, red onions, spring onions, and dress as preferred
3. Garnish with cilantro and crushed peanuts





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Friday, July 24, 2015

Roast Tomatoes Flavored with Home Garden Fennel and Basil


Roast Tomatoes Flavored with Home Garden Fennel and Basil

Sometimes, the simplicity and the earthiness is what makes a recipe special to me, not the long list of ingredients and complex steps to achieve the results. No doubt, traditional multi-tiered recipes have their merits, especially around holiday traditions and wintertime, but summers are for wholesome simplicity.

No one else in the household likes or appreciates tomatoes like I do. The youngest will quaff ketchup if I let him, the older child will turn up her dainty nose on all things tomato, and the other adult will accept adequate amounts of tomato sauce on pizza or pasta. Which leaves me as the sole consumer of copious amounts of  all varieties of fresh tomatoes in season in the family.


Although this summer's heat wave didn't excite me to turn on the oven, the lure of roast tomatoes overpowered my disinclination. 

Caramelized deeply thanks to balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of brown sugar plus olive oil, this plate of roast tomatoes with fresh mozzarella pearls and home garden fennel and basil was my special treat, for no reason except to celebrate the start of the tomato season, in my mind.

Roast Tomatoes Flavored with Home Garden Fennel and Basil

And, since no one else cares for fresh tomatoes from the home garden, I decided to grow my snack tomatoes in the Upside Down Hanging Contraption that was popular a few years ago. I have some Yellow Pear, Sweet Cherry, and Grape tomatoes in there, plus some tomatillos just for the fun of it. They are barely surviving, but, am hoping they'll give me plenty to munch on over the next few weeks.

Roast Tomatoes Flavored with Home Garden Fennel and Basil


Any old recipe would do for roasting tomatoes, the thickness of slices might affect the results. My preferred method for this batch was to cut the vine tomatoes into quarter-inch thick slices, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, sprinkle some minced garlic, salt and brown sugar, spray some olive oil and roast in a 460 ° F oven.


Italian basil is flowering and going to seed already in my garden. Between fresh homemade pesto and adding it to tomato sauce and other recipes, it has been a sweet companion throughout. Basil, Fennel, Oregano, Mint, Rosemary and Lemongrass are the only herbs I use frequently as they are readily available in my backyard. The one plant I've always wanted but haven't had success so far is Curry Leaves (Murraya Keonigii). Maybe someday...

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Home Garden Eggplant, Kale, Chard, Mint Rice with Lemon Cucumber Cherry Raita

Home Garden Eggplant, Kale, Chard, Mint Rice with Lemon Cucumber Cherry Raita


Summer has been rather hot around here, and I haven't been cooking anything new or interesting. Just the same trusted comfort foods. And a lot of salads. Home garden lettuce and kale have come in handy for the salad base so far.

Home Garden Eggplant, Kale, Chard, Mint Rice with Lemon Cucumber Cherry Raita


Ichiban eggplant, kale, chard, mint and chilies from the garden came together for this simple Indian rice dish flavored with mild spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, plus star anise, cardamom and cloves, along with some crushed ginger and garlic.

Home Garden Eggplant, Kale, Chard, Mint Rice with Lemon Cucumber Cherry Raita


Typically, raita is a cooling yogurt accompaniment served with spicy dishes in India. This time, I went with lemon cucumbers from my garden, plus some mint and cherries, as well as colorful mini peppers and red onions.



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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tri-color Mini Peppers, Onions, Black Nightshade Berries (Manathakkali) Kaara Kuzhambu

Tri-color Mini Peppers, Onions, Black Nightshade Berries (Manathakkali) Kaara Kozhambu


Chettinad Kaara Kuzhambu is absolutely mouth-watering. I've only had it in restaurants in India, so, I am not sure if that was authentic or not. But, I memorized the taste. Or rather, the taste imprinted itself in my memory, making me salivate if I consciously think about this particular dish.

My recipe here is arrived at by trial-and-error, based on the recipe my mom sent across and other recipes sampled around the web. As my mom jokingly says, much like there are only a handful of plots but infinite number of stories, there are a handful of recipes with infinite styles of cooking the same. So, the recipe here is just what suits my tastes at this time, not authentic Chettinad cuisine.

Sometimes, I find packaged dried manathakkali aka Black Nightshade or Sunberry (Solanum nigrum) at Indian stores and I stock up. These packaged berries are usually soaked in brine and buttermilk and then dried so they have a mild salty spicy flavor infused. I love the way they taste once reconstituted in sauces like kuzhambu. This is certainly an optional ingredient, but, sometimes, this is the sole ingredient I add to this kuzhambu.

Ingredients
6 to 8 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
½ medium red onion, diced or sliced
¼ cup chopped broccoli stems
¼ cup celery, chopped
A small wedge of red cabbage, chopped
4 to 6 tricolor mini peppers, chopped
1 Tbsp dried Black Nightshade berries aka Manathakkali
6 to 10 curry leaves (Murraya Koenigii)
5 cups water

Spices:
2 Tbsp Sambar Powder - either homemade or storebought (I like MTR™ brand)
1 tsp red chili powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
4 Tbsp nước me chua Tamarind cooking sauce (aka Sour Soup Mix)
salt to taste

Tempering:
1 tsp ghee or gingelly oil
¼ tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp urad dal

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a pot, add the garlic and onions and sautee till aromatic; then add the curry leaves and Black Nightshade berries and stir well; then add the rest of the veggies
  2. Stir in all the spices, add 5 cups of water, cover and allow to simmer at medium low heat till flavors develop and veggies are cooked; turn off heat and add the tempering
  3. In a small pan, do the tempering: hear the oil, when shimmering, add the urad dal, when it turns brown add the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds; when mustard seeds pop remove from heat and garnish the kuzhambu with the tempering
  4. Serve warm with basmati rice

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Friday, June 05, 2015

Plaintain, Carrot, Potato, Zucchini Coconut Poduthuval

Plaintain, Carrot, Potato, Zucchini Coconut Poduthuval

Plantain and coconut featured in my meals quite frequently during my formative years. Coconut and green chilies ground together to a powdery mix, with no water added, is a favorite spicing additive to many vegetable dishes in my kitchen.

Nothing extra special about this dish, except that I made it one evening and got to enjoy it over three subsequent meals since none of the others at home really care for this dish. Along with my favorite garlic black pepper rasam and plain brown rice, this vegetable medley was quite the comfort food I was craving for.

Plantain, when green and not too ripe, is wonderful as a vegetable in savory dishes. Peel the thick skin before using.

Simply dice the veggies: I used one each of plantain, carrot, potatoes, zucchini.

Coconut+chili Spice Mix: Chop about 4 mild green chilies and add it to quarter cup of dry grated coconut and blend to a powdery spice mix

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, when they pop add cumin seeds and when they plump up, add the veggies (all but zucchini, which cooks faster than plantains), splash about half cup of water, some salt, cover and allow to cook; when par-cooked, add the zucchini and stir well; check often for doneness and add a bit more water as needed till veggies are cooked to your liking. Off heat, stir in the coconut+chili mix and adjust salt to taste.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lentil Sprouts Salad with Bok Choy and Bell Peppers

Lentil Sprouts Salad with Bok Choy and Bell Peppers


I don't do it as often as I'd like to - sprouting the lentils and beans, I mean. But, every once in a while, when I get a batch sprouted and ready, it is a giddying feeling. Yeah, it doesn't take much to make me giddy with excitement.

Lentil Sprouts Salad with Bok Choy and Bell Peppers


One part of it formed the base of a cobb or gado-gado style salad -- sauteed sprouts with just a casual arrangement of available veggies, with an eye to color, topped with a simple vinaigrette.

Another part of it went into adding the crunch in a standard pasta salad. And yet another portion was sauteed with greens - chard, kale, spinach - spiced and served warm with rice.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Home Garden Strawberry Salsa

Home Garden Strawberry Salsa


For weeks now, the small strawberry patch in the backyard has been consistently yielding about two dozen ripe berries every three days. Some get made into smoothies, some enjoyed fresh off the plant, some brighten up an impromptu fruit salad, and some others get to become my favorite Salsa Fresca, as well as simmered spicy salsa.

Home Garden Strawberry Salsa


There is no set recipe per se. For the strawberry salsa, a splash of fresh lime juice and finely chopped home-garden super chiles added the bite that I like; fresh tomatoes, onions, and cilantro are the main ingredients. But, I added some finely chopped celery and colorful mini peppers just to satisfy my tastes, along with salt, cayenne pepper powder and some taco seasoning.

Home Garden Strawberry Salsa


The simmered salsa is not much different, just combine the ingredients and simmer till cooked through to desired consistency.

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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Whole Okra with Mayocoba Beans

spicy Whole Okra with Mayocoba Beans


Mayocoba or Peruano beans have a meatier texture and a satisfying flavor compared to white or navy beans. Typically, I soak it overnight and pressure cook it to firm yet soft consistency, not mushy.

This simple side can be served with rotis, naan, basmati rice, or eaten as is.

Simply saute the onions and green bell peppers, add the par-cooked okra, season to taste, when okra is mostly done, stir in the cooked mayocoba beans, adjust seasoning.

Seasoning varies on my mood - sometimes it is lemon pepper and sage; sometimes it is cumin and curry powder; sometimes it is shawarma spice mix.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Fig and Dark Cocoa Chicken Taquitos or Flautas

Fig and Dark Cocoa Chicken Taquitos or Flautas


There was enough Chicken in Dark Cocoa and Fig Sauce leftover that I was going to put it in a wrap or serve it like fajitas when I noticed a stack of corn tortillas and some wheat rotis waiting to be used up. Since I don't fry foods every day, I decided to indulge by making these deep fried taquitos from corn tortillas.

Simply add the filling to the tortilla, roll it up and pin it with a toothpick, and with tongs, carefully immerse in hot oil to deep fry. Alternately bake in a 425 °F oven and then place under the broiler briefly to crisp it.

Serve with home made tomatillo salsa verde.

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Saturday, May 02, 2015

Chicken in Dark Cocoa and Fig Sauce

Chicken in Dark Cocoa and Fig Sauce


The combination of dark cocoa powder and dried figs in a pan sauce takes this chicken dish from good to awesome in my kitchen, at least for the other adult in the household. Not being a fan of chicken or other meats, I can take it or leave it.

Some sauteed onions and colorful mini peppers form the base for the sauce while dried figs and a dollop of fig preserves plus the dark cocoa bring the earthy deliciousness that is hard to describe.

Ingredients
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips for easy cooking
1 medium onions, diced finely
6 mini red, yellow, orange peppers, diced finely
2 Tbsp dark cocoa powder
2 Tbsp fig preserves
4 dried figs, reconstituted in red wine, coarsely minced or ground
1 Tbsp homemade Taco Seasoning
1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
salt to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and bell peppers, the seasoning and saute
  2. Add the chicken strips, cocoa powder and fig preserves plus the minced figs in red wine
  3. Stir well, add just enough water, cover and cook at medium heat till chicken in cooked and the sauce has the desired consistency - not too runny, not too goopy
  4. Serve with Black bean rice and some steamed broccoli
Black bean rice:
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of canola oil in a pan
  2. Add a teaspoon each of sage powder, paprika, and Italian seasoning mix, then add 2 cups of cooked and seasoned black beans, stir well
  3. Add 4 to 5 cups of cooked rice, sprinkle some salt to taste, stir well, turn off heat, serve warm

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mambazha Pachadi: Sweet Mango Fruit Pachadi

Mambazha Pachadi: Sweet Mango Fruit Pachadi


A Palakkad dish, this is one of my favorites growing up, especially the way my mom used to make it. Over the years, I've played with her recipe to adapt it to my current tastes. Kids don't like it, and the other adult in the family can take it or leave it. So, when I make it, I know there's going to be plenty for me.

The sweetness of ripe mangoes, the tang from tamarind, and the heat from red chilies come together for an amazing burst of flavor. If using raw tamarind or pulp or paste, adjust to taste; the store-bought Sour Soup mix works out well for many dishes that use tamarind, and the measurements are for this particular product.

Ingredients
1 large ripe mango, chopped
2 Tbsp tamarind Sour Soup mix
1 tsp red hot chili powder

for grinding:
3 Tbsp grated coconut
1 tsp whole black peppers

salt to taste

Tempering:
1 tsp coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 dry red chilies broken to pieces
a few curry leaves, torn

Preparation

  1. Grind the coconut paste and keep handy
  2. Boil the mango in some tamarind and water and salt; I leave the skin on as I like the texture it brings to the final dish; peel the mango if preferred
  3. Puree the cooked mango to a mush, stir in the coconut paste, adjust salt to taste and simmer
  4. Tempering: heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chilies and finally the curry leaves; remove from heat when mustard seeds pop; add it to the simmering mango puree
  5. Serve with roti, naan, basmati rice

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kale and Spinach Saag Paneer

Kale and Spinach Saag Paneer


Kale can be quite crunchy and reluctant to give up its structural integrity even when cooked to a mush. But, the texture and flavor it brings to the original spinach recipe, called Saag Paneer, is wonderful.

For smoky spiciness, and since fusion cuisine is my signature and preferred style, I brought in some chipotle in adobo sauce plus some lemongrass to spice up this Indian staple.

Paneer can be homemade or store-bought. Several online resources show a step by step procedure for making paneer at home-- it does take time, so, plan ahead. However, many Indian stores sell packaged paneer which works just as well.

Sometimes I saute the paneer cubes before adding it to the mix, but I omit this step here-- the clear blandness it brings balances the spiciness of the kale and spinach mix.

Ingredients
4 cups finely chopped fresh kale
2 cups chopped frozen spinach, thawed

spices and flavoring:
1 chipotle chile, finely chopped, in about 1 Tbsp of adobo sauce
a bit of crushed lemongrass or 1 tsp of lemongrass powder
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp garam masala powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

¼ to ½ cup heavy cream
1 cup cubed paneer (more if preferred)

salt to taste
1 Tbsp ghee or canola oil or coconut oil or olive oil

Preparation

  1. Pressure cook kale and spinach with some salt
  2. Blend the kale and spinach to a mush
  3. heat oil/ghee in a pan, add the spices and flavoring ingredients, mushed kale+spinach, stir well and allow to simmer gently
  4. Slide in the paneer (sauteed or plain) and simmer a bit more
  5. Off heat, stir in heavy cream, a little at a time, to desired consistency and flavor
  6. Optional Tempering: heat ghee or oil in a pan, break some dried red chiles and add to the hot oil, add some cumin seeds; remove from heat and add to the dish before serving


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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Broccoli Stem Saute


Broccoli Stem Saute

Steamed broccoli florets with some cheese is a favorite side for the kids. They prefer just the florets, not much of the stalk/stem. So, I save the stem for this dish, a quick and easy side for weeknight.

Instead of pan-sauteing as shared in this method, toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast  it in a 400°F oven in a single layer, for about 15 minutes or more as desired.

Ingredients
Broccoli stem, cut into uniform pieces
red onion, sliced
salt to taste
ground black pepper
1 tsp olive oil

Broccoli Stem Saute


Preparation
  1. Steam the broccoli stems in a steamer or microwave; I simply add the steamer apparatus when I cook rice in the rice cooker. Sometimes, I find it easier to microwave the stems.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, saute the red onions with a pinch of salt; add the steamed broccoli stems, saute some more; taste and adjust flavoring
  3. Serve warm

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Sunday, April 05, 2015

Kasha with Opo Squash and Carrots with Coconut, Curry Leaves and Chilies

Kasha with Opo Squash and Carrots with Coconut, Curry Leaves and Chilies



Opo squash and carrots mingled with curry leaves and coconut and chilies is a favorite combination. Simply cook the veggies; grind some coconut, chilies and curry leaves; stir it into the cooked veggies and serve warm; adjust salt to taste.

Easy to make, this side can be served with roti, naan, rice or even quinoa.

Kasha can be an acquired taste for some. No one besides me likes it at home, so I don't make it often. I prefer to cook kasha in the rice cooker. To get it mushy, I add equal parts kasha and water; but for a grainier texture, I reduce the water and add some olive oil to the rice cooker and cook it for one cycle as usual.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Colorful Mini Peppers, Red Cabbage, Kidney Beans Warm Salad

Colorful Mini Peppers, Red Cabbage, Kidney Beans Warm Salad


Served as a warm salad, or a side for roti and naan, or along with fluffy jasmine rice, this versatile dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. The rich colors, the balance of texture and flavors, plus the ease of cooking makes it a favorite weeknight dish.

Ingredients
1 cup cooked kidney beans
2 cups chunky-chopped red cabbage
2 cups colorful mini pepper, chopped

1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
chopped spring onions for garnish
greek yogurt or sour cream for serving on the side

flavoring:
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon pepper

1 tsp coconut oil
salt to taste

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the veggies and beans, a pinch of salt and turmeric, saute
  2. Add the flavoring ingredients, stir well,  cover and allow to sweat a bit at medium heat
  3. Remove the lid, splash water if needed to finish cooking the veggies to desired crunch
  4. Garnish with spring onions and serve with some lemon wedges and sliced green chilies and a dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Red Onion and Purple Cabbage in Roasted Gram, Almond, Curry Leaves Curry

Red Onion and Purple Cabbage in Roasted Gram, Almond, Curry Leaves Curry


Sometimes, the simplest of combinations brings about the greatest satisfaction.

I don't generally use much of roasted gram (aka Pottu Kadalai) mainly because it is not readily available. Every once in a while, I get it from the Indian store and use it in some dishes that feel like comfort food. Served with warm basmati rice, this curry or kozhambu is quite filling.



Ingredients
For the curry paste:
2 Tbsp roasted gram
⅓ cup almonds
1 jalapeño
20 curry leaves (double if preferred)
4 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp grated ginger

Veggies: anything is fine
red/purple cabbage
red onion

1 Tbsp coconut oil
salt to taste
water as needed

Tempering: mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal, 1 tsp coconut oil

Preparation

  1. Grind the curry paste ingredients into a fine paste, keep handy
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add the curry paste, saute a bit, then add the veggies, salt and enough water, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring often
  3. roasted gram acts as a thickener, so, check for water often; when veggies are cooked through and the curry is at a desired thickness, remove from heat and add the tempering
  4. Tempering: heat oil in a small pan, add urad dal; when it turns brown, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds; when mustard seeds pop, turn off heat and add it to the curry.
  5. Stir well before serving with hot brown basmati rice






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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Opo Squash, Tomatillo, White Bean, Mango Buttermilk Soup

Opo Squash, Tomatillo, White Bean, Mango Buttermilk Soup


This mildly spiced tangy soup is a summertime favorite. Tomatillos and raw green mango adds a gentle sourness that is enhanced by buttermilk. Opo squash brings a watery balance to the dish while the beans adds a bit of protein and texture.

We've had yo-yo-ing temperatures lately-- in the 80s one day and down to 50s the next. It seemed like a perfect meal for that warm day.

Ingredients
2 Tomatillos
1 medium green raw mango
1 cup cooked white beans
1 cup diced opo squash

spices to grind:
4 Tbsp grated coconut
1 teaspoon peppercorn
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tablespoon plain raw rice (acts as a thickener)

2 cups buttermilk
1 Tbsp coconut oil
salt to taste
½ tsp turmeric powder (optional)

Preparation

  1. Grind the spices and keep handy
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add the veggies and beans, some turmeric, salt, just enough water to cook the veggies; cover and simmer til veggies are cooked but not mushy
  3. Add the ground spice paste, simmer for a few more minutes; stir in buttermilk, adjust salt to taste and turn off heat
  4. Serve warm or cold

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Spicy Lentil Balls with Kale, Eggplant, Bell Pepper, Zucchini



Lentil balls (Paruppu urundai) sambar was a favorite when I was young; and of course, my mom made the best lentil balls sambar. Growing up vegetarian, and looking back at the amazing array of vegetarian foods I got to eat, I am always eager to share some of these recipes with friends who feel limited by their choice of vegetarian diet - salads are fine; steamed broccoli and cauliflower are nice; creamed corn and blanched green beans are wonderful, but that is not all. There's so much more.

Anyway, lentil balls can be made ahead (as in the paruppu urundai kozhambu recipe), steamed and then frozen for later use. Thaw before incorporating it in recipes. This time, I added some tomato paste, sambal oelek, cayenne pepper powder and paprika to the soaked-and-ground lentils before forming balls and steaming them. Hence the "spicy" lentil balls.

The combination of bell peppers, eggplant and zucchini is quite irresistible for me. Sauteing these three with some red onions and a touch of garlic, with a sprinkling of salt and turmeric powder gives off a heady aroma that is utterly appetizing.

Ingredients
6 to 8 lentil balls
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup diced eggplant
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced green bell pepper
½ cup diced red onion
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp sambal oelek
1 tsp brown sugar
salt to taste
oil as needed
water as needed

Preparation

  1. heat the oil in a pan, saute the onions, garlic, tomato paste with a dash of salt and turmeric powder
  2. add the rest of the veggies and spices, a cup of water, cover and allow to simmer
  3. slide in the steamed lentil balls and simmer till the flavors infuse into the balls
  4. serve warm with basmati rice or roti

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mushroom and Cherry Pepper Shahi Curry



"Shahi" Curries usually have a rich nutty base with mild spices blended layer by layer to add deep flavors.

Any vegetable can be used, or even home-made cottage cheese, paneer. Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chayote squash, butternut squash, potatoes, and even ivy gourd (coccinia grandis) are wonderful vegetables to make this curry with.

Sweet red cherry peppers along with meaty cremini mushrooms and red onions makes this a perfect dish to serve with naan or brown basmati rice.

Ingredients

For the Masala Paste:
2 Tbsp roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp roasted cashews
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2-inch piece of Indian cinnamon bark
2 cardamom pods
1 start anise
1 teaspoon toasted poppy seeds
1 Tbsp cumin powder
2 Tbsp Tamarind concentrate (sold as Sour Soup Mix in Asian stores)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot chili powder
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste


Curry sauce:
¼ cup vegetable stock
1 Tbsp canola oil (or ghee, if handy)
salt to taste
Mushrooms, onions, and cherry red peppers, chopped into chunks


Preparation

  1. Combine the masala paste ingredients and grind to a fine paste
  2. Heat oil in a pan, saute the masala paste till oil separates; add tomato paste and saute a bit more
  3. Add the vegetables, and the rest of the curry sauce ingredients, cover and simmer till vegetables are done

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Chocolate Bowl Filled with Marzipan Vegetables and Fruits

Chocolate Bowl Filled with Marzipan Vegetables and Fruits


Since Papa doesn't like cake much, and since we indulge in desserts only for special occasions, we were wondering what to make for his birthday.

When the nine year old got interested in it, there was no turning back - we made mini chocolate bowls and filled it with mini marzipan veggies (and fruits).

We used the balloon method for making the mini bowls, about 2.5 inches at its widest, and about 1.5 inches tall. The nine year old went for the marbling effect, and the asymmetric tulip-like petal effects. Since this was her first attempt, it was just fine despite the imperfections.



Chocolate Bowl Filled with Marzipan Vegetables and Fruits

Chocolate Bowl Filled with Marzipan Vegetables and Fruits



We also made chocolate cups using silicone cupcake mold.


Chocolate Bowl Filled with Marzipan Vegetables and Fruits


The marzipan veggies and fruits: carrots, green beans, artichoke, eggplant, strawberries, pear, watermelon, oranges. This was the favorite part as the little girl still loves to play with play dough and make shaped things that look like other real things. And working with marzipan was just like playing with play dough.


Chocolate Bowl Filled with Marzipan Vegetables and Fruits


And some marzipan-filled confections.

Chocolate Bowl Filled with Marzipan Vegetables and Fruits

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Quinoa Fritters with Eggplant, Kale, Zucchini and Mushrooms

Quinoa Fritters with Eggplant, Kale, Zucchini and Mushrooms


I had ground up some quinoa to stock up on quinoa meal, about fine corn meal consistency, to make vegetable porridge. And used some of it to make these griddle cake-like fritters loaded with veggies.

Of course, the outsides got a bit too well done on the cast iron skillet, but, the insides were moist and cooked; the taste was just fine, so we enjoyed it with some chutneys.

Quinoa Fritters with Eggplant, Kale, Zucchini and Mushrooms


  1. Finely grate eggplant and zucchini, squeeze out excess water and keep handy
  2. Finely mince kale, onions, and mushrooms
  3. Add seasoning to taste
  4. Fold in the quinoa flour or meal, adding a little water as needed to make the batter about pancake consistency; alternately, keep water to a minimum to shape into patties
  5. Cook on a medium hot cast iron skillet
  6. Serve with tomato chutney and coriander-mint chutney

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Roast Butternut Squash with Chickpeas

roasted butternut squash chickpeas spicy punjabi curry


A wholesome simple winter meal which I like to serve as a warm salad, this roasted butternut squash dish is quite versatile. A bit more gravy and it can be a curry eaten with naan or rice; boiled in vegetable broth, it can be a delicious soup served with homemade dampers.

In this recipe, I toss in some garlic and cooked chickpeas with roasted butternut squash and fiery spices and serve it topped with shredded zucchini, thinly sliced red onions, and a wedge of lemon, plus some plain yogurt on the side. This is a fairly typical way of serving a spicy vegetable side with flatbreads like parathas and naan in India.

As I don;t typically measure the spices for such an impromptu dish, here's just a list of the ingredients used: tamarind paste, tomato paste, garam masala, turmeric and salt to taste.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Farro Eggplant Kale Casserole



Farro cooks chewy and moist in a rice cooker with 2 cups water/stock per cup of farro. Sliced zucchini, sliced eggplant, sliced tomatoes, kale are are good layers to add to this casserole. This time, I went with whatever was handy. Casseroles are perfect to use up leftovers.





Ingredients
2 cups cooked farro, seasoned
½ cup seasoned ricotta cheese
½ cup colby jack cheese, grated
½ red onion sliced thinly
½ cup sliced black olives
1 cup seasoned cooked ground turkey (optional - I use TVP instead)
1 long Chinese eggplant, sliced into rounds
1 cup chopped kale


Preparation

  1. Assemble in layers: onions, farro, ricotta, olives, colby jack, eggplant, farro, TVP or ground turkey, ricotta, kale, olives colby jack
  2. Cover with an aluminium foil and bake in 425°F oven for about 30 minutes
  3. Top with thin sliced zucchini and serve warm with cucumber raita

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