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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Okra Rellenos: Fried Cheese Stuffed Okra in Coconut Flour Batter

Chili Rellenos comes a close second to Mirchi Bajji (Milagai Bajji or Molaga Bajji, colloquially), when done right. Okra Rellenos is just one step away from this, especially since Stuffed Baked Okra comes close, without the frying.

I am not an expert at frying foods. I invariably mess with the batter and ruin it, or not have patience to check the oil temperature and therefore either burn the outsides or get them soggy with oil. I think it is a subconscious defense mechanism: If I don't do it right, then I won't be eating a lot of fried foods, and that must be just fine.

Anyway, I do like to try out different batters, just for the fun of it. I like the tried and tested ones, no doubt. Since I had a big sack of coconut flour and chickpea flour, I wanted to see if the batter made with these two would turn out all right.

Stuffing is easy this time - just some cheddar and mozzarella sticks plus finely minced pickled jalapeno.

for the batter:
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ chickpea flour
2 Tablespoon fine cornmeal (optional - I like the gritty crunch it adds)
2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup buttermilk
1¼ cup water (plus or minus a few Tablespoons)
salt and chili powder or smoke paprika powder for seasoning the batter

okra and filling - cheese, jalapeno

Oil for deep frying


  1. Combine the dry batter ingredients in a bowl, add the buttermilk, then slowly add the water; try not to overstir; coconut flour absorbs water quickly so alternate adding water and stirring to get the batter to a pancake batter like thick yet flowing consistency
  2. Slit and stuff the okra and keep it ready
  3. Heat the oil for frying to medium
  4. Dip the stuffed okra in batter and deep fry in batches
  5. Serve warm with chutneys and dips

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Green Papaya, Green Mango, Green Kohlrabi Spicy Chutney

Green Papaya chutney Green Mango, Kohlrabi Spicy Chutney

There's something utterly delectable about the combination of tangy sour and peppery piquant with a touch of delicate sweetness that has made it universal. Cuisines around the world have come up with local versions of this combination leveraging the indigenous ingredients.

Green Papaya chutney Green Mango, Kohlrabi Spicy Chutney

Raw green mango chutney and thokku are fairly common in Indian cuisine; and so is green papaya and kohlrabi. After the Purple Carrots, Purple Cabbage and Beet Relish, I was craving for more such combination chutneys and relishes.

Green Papaya, Green Mango, Green Kohlrabi Spicy Chutney

There was enough green papaya left after the Green Papaya and Purple Carrot Thai Salad.

There was enough kohlrabi left from the big bunch I picked up at the Farm market.

There were two green mangoes I had picked up because I like mangoes and liked the price.

The stars practically scrambled to align themselves for this particular Green Papaya, Green Mango, Green Kohlrabi Spicy Chutney to come into existence.

2 cups grated green papaya
2 cups grated kohlrabi
2 cup grated raw green mango
2 Tablespoon finely grated ginger
4 green chilies, finely diced or minced (seeded first, if preferred)
1 whole lemon, zest plus the lemon sections finely diced
1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar (1 Tablespoon if the green mango is too sour)
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup Pomegranate red wine vinegar
¼ cup coconut oil (or canola oil)
salt to taste

1 Tablespoon mustard seeds plus 1 teaspoon coconut oil

  1. Heat the ¼ cup coconut oil in a pan and add the grated ginger and all the rest of the ingredients, stir well, adjust salt to taste and allow to simmer in medium heat
  2. Tempering: heat the oil in a small pan, when shimmering add the mustard seeds and allow to pop, turn off heat
  3. Once the liquid has cooked up and the chutney has thickened to a spreadable consistency add the tempering, stir well and preserve in jar using the boiling water canning method
  4. If not canning, allow to cool and refrigerate and use within ten days

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Stuffed Kohlrabi in Coconut Milk Sauce

Kohlrabi stuffed with brown rice and barley in coconut milk sauce

I was lovingly lingering over the brilliantly colorful vegetable array at one of the Sauvie Island farm markets the other day, coming up with recipes on the fly, exploring the different ways I could cook each of them, when I was jolted out of my reverie with a 2 minute warning from the other adult which meant, I am heading to the checkout and if you want anything you better add it to the basket now or forever hold your peace.

So I grabbed a big bunch of kohlrabi (at $1.99 a bunch it was unbeatable), some sweet corn on the cob, and a bunch of purple radishes and dashed. Cippolini onions, scallop squash, and apricots will have to wait till my next trip.

stuffed kohlrabi barley brown rice coconut milk

The kohlrabi bunch had six large bulbs plus oodles of earthy greens. The raised eyebrow quizzing What are you going to do with all this kohlrabi? from the other half was met with my own patented grin reassuring Oh tons of things, you'll see! 

And so it is that I've been making kohlrabi dish after kohlrabi dish, wishing I had grabbed another bunch at the farm market before rushing off.

After boiling it tender but firm, the innards can be scooped out and added to the stuffing to enhance the kohlrabi experience. The scooped out bowls of boiled kohlrabi can then be filled with the stuffing, ready for steaming and simmering in the sauce.

stuffed kohlrabi vegetarian brown rice and barley coconut milk sauce

The stuffing can be anything, really - TVP, lentils, flavored brown rice or quinoa, barley or freekeh, mashed leftovers, ground meat... whatever the mood calls for.

This time, I wanted to make a vegetarian stuffing that can stand on its own as a side for another meal, so I went with Brown Rice + Barley + Mung Dal + Veggies, mildly spiced with cumin and caraway.

stuffed kohlrabi coconut milk sauce brown rice barley mung beans

The easiest way to make this particular stuffing for me is to throw the barley, brown rice, and mung dal in the rice cooker, with some salt and enough stock and cook it till done. Meanwhile, chop the veggies, saute with cumin and caraway seeds, then add in the cooked barley+rice+mung mixture, stir well and adjust seasoning to taste.

Kohlrabi stuffed with brown rice and barley in coconut milk sauce

Sauce can be anything from simple Bechemel to plain tomato sauce. I wanted to use the lemon grass from my garden so The Thai style coconut milk sauce came about.

2 or 3 whole kohlrabi

For the stuffing:
½ cup cooked barley
½ cup cooked brown rice
¼ cup cooked mung dal
¼ cup finely chopped red and orange peppers
¼ cup finely chopped red onions
¼ cup finely chopped red cabbage
¼ cup grated carrots
¼ cup grated zucchini
¼ cup chopped kale
1 Tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
the scooped out innards of the boiled kohlrabi
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
salt to taste

For the cooking sauce:

Kohlrabi stuffed with brown rice and barley in coconut milk sauce

Some home-garden lemon grass plus dry red chilies and garlic cloves were mashed and pounded in a mortal and pestle to a coarse consistency
1 14 oz can or about 1½ cups of coconut milk
1 teaspoon coconut oil
salt to taste

  1. Slice the bottom of kohlrabi just a millimeter or two to make it sit on its bottom comfortably without wobbling
  2. Nestle 2 or 3 such kohlrabis in a pot with enough stock or water to immerse them, cover and allow to boil for 20 minutes till a skewer inserted into the middle slides in smooth and tender
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing: heat the oil, add the cumin and caraway and the veggies, stir and saute, then add the cooked rice+barley+mung dal and fold it all in to make a uniform mixture
  4. Remove the boiled kohlrabis, slice the top, scoop out the innards and add the innards to the stuffing and mix well
  5. Stuff the boiled kohlrabis with the prepared stuffing
  6. Sauce: Heat the teaspoon of coconut oil in the pot, add the crushed/pounded lemon grass+chilies+garlic and saute till aromatic, add the coconut milk; then gently place the stuffed kohlrabis, cover, and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes till sauce thickens
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with the sauce drizzled on, or on the side

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kohlrabi Stuffed Kale and Fennel Naan with Home-garden Lemon Cucumber Raita

kohlrabi naan

The unassuming basic naan recipe lends itself well to boundless additions and variations.

Much like the Mint Fennel Garlic Naan, this recipe starts out with Fennel and Kale added to the dough; but, to take it a step further, sauteed and flavored kohlrabi is stashed into the dough when making the naan.

Instead of Kohlrabi, Daikon radish or Opo squash or Chayote squash can be used.

kohlrabi naan

Peel and grate the kohlrabi finely; heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and saute the grated kohlrabi with salt and turmeric powder till cooked and fairly dry. Since this will be enclosed and folded in the dough, it cannot be runny.

Fennel and Kale being handy in the backyard garden, I went with those. I needed to find ways to use them up. But, any other herbs and greens can be used instead.

kohlrabu kale stuffed naan indian flat bread

The naan dough is pretty much the same as Mint Fennel Garlic Naan, so, prepare as usual and let it rise. The only addition is grated sauteed flavored kohlrabi folded into the naan as it is rolled out for cooking.

kohlrabi kale fennel naan indian flatbread

My preferred method of making naan using gas stove:
  1. Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat
  2. Brush one side of the rolled out naan dough with water and place it water-side down on the hot skillet
  3. Allow bubbles to form on the top surface
  4. Transfer the part-cooked naan to a wire frame, flipped now so the uncooked side is down over the flame
  5. Hold the naan on the wire frame directly over the flame till cooked through, shifting and moving it to cover all its surface
  6. I prefer some mild charring as it adds character and flavor

Serve warm with vegetable curries,  chutney, and raita.

Here I serve it with a simple Indian chickpea curry called Cholay, and a yogurt-based raita made with home-garden lemon cucumbers.

lemon cucumber home garden

For the Lemon Cucumber Colorful Raita:
1 Lemon cucumber,grated
½ Green apples, diced
¼ Red onions, sliced thin
Orange and Yellow Mini Peppers, chopped finely
Green Spring Onions, chopped on a bias
Thai green chilies, slit and chopped on a bias
Cilantro for garnish
Greek Yogurt

lemon cucumber raita

  1. Cut the lemon cucumber in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp and grate finely
  2. Chop some mini orange and red peppers, red onions, green apples, spring onions, and Thai green chilies if preferred
  3. Combine the grated lemon cucumbers and all the finely chopped veggies, along with thick Greek yogurt and stir well; season to taste
  4. Garnish with chopped cilantro

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Saturday, August 08, 2015

Kohlrabi Greens with Home-garden Chard Coconut Cumin Kalonji Mung Bean Koottu

Kohlrabi Greens with Home-garden Chard Coconut Cumin Kalonji Mung Bean Koottu

The kohlrabi greens along with fleshy, juicy kohlrabi bulbs came together with some home garden chard and mung beans for this simple koottu with cumin, Nigella sativa seeds, coconut and chilies as the primary flavoring.

Although it looks pretty involved with a lot of ingredients, it is actually a very simple, earthy dish. As always, flavors and spices can be adjusted to taste. Since the greens and kohlrabi are fairly bland, the layering of flavors helps develop this dish. The starter flavor of garlic, chilies and mint brings an appetizing aroma, and the finish with the flavoring coconut+cumin+nigella paste rounds out the dish.

1 kohlrabi plus a small bunch of kohlrabi greens with stems
6 to 8 large chard leaves with stems
1 medium vine tomato, diced
½ cup split yellow mung beans
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 whole lemon
salt to taste

Kohlrabi Greens with Home-garden Chard Coconut Cumin Kalonji Mung Bean Koottu

Flavoring Paste:
1 Tablespoon Nigella sativa (aka kalonji) seeds
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
4 Tablespoons dry grated coconut

Starter flavor to be crushed in mortar/pestle:
3 green chilies
12 mint leaves
3 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon urad dal
½ teaspoon mustard seeds

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the Starter flavors crushed, a pinch of salt and turmeric, and saute till aromatic
  2. Add the mung beans, 4 cups of water, chopped kohlrabi, tomatoes plus the greens
  3. Sprinkle salt, stir well, cover and simmer till kohlrabi and mung beans are cooked
  4. Meanwhile, combine the Flavoring Paste ingredients and grind into a fine powdery mixture
  5. Optional Tempering: heat the oil in a small pan, add the urad dal, when it turns golden brown, add the mustard seeds, when mustard seeds pop remove from heat
  6. When kohlrabi and mung beans are cooked, stir in the Flavoring paste, stir in freshly squeezed lemon juice, top with tempering, and serve warm with basmati rice or naan

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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 how 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 the 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

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; fill the roasting pan with these prepared crusted okras
  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.

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

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

  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:]

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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


  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.

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


  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.

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

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


  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.

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


  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.

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

Broccoli Stem Saute

  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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