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Friday, October 10, 2014

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Kale

pan seared Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Kale

This simple and quick-to-cook dish is a favorite side. Just a touch of salt, black pepper and balsamic vinegar, sautéed till done and served hot with lightly toasted artisan bread is a perfect meal on a nippy fall evening.

Kale, chopped
Brussels sprouts, halved if large, and par-cooked
a few cherry tomatoes (optional)
red onions, sliced thinly
black pepper, salt, balsamic vinegar as needed
1 Tbsp olive oil

To speed up the process on a weeknights, I cook the Brussels sprouts in the microwave; meanwhile, I chop the kale and onions and start sautéing them first in a hot pan with hot oil; then, when Brussels sprouts are done, simply drain and add them, cut side down, to the kale and onions, adjust balsamic vinegar and salt as desired and allow to brown.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Five-Spiced Coconut-Stuffed Eggplant

Five-Spiced Coconut-Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed baby eggplant in rich tomato-based gravy, pan-sauteed stuffed baby eggplant, and spice-stuffed baby eggplant pilaf are all the usual favorites. Each time, I vary the stuffing slightly, depending on available ingredients and what the mood calls for.

Five-Spiced Coconut-Stuffed Eggplant

This time, the stuffing is coconut-based, with panch phoron spices. And, instead of baby Indian eggplant which a nice egg-shaped flavorful fruit, I used the long Chinese eggplant, cut in half to fit in my pan.

Five-Spiced Coconut-Stuffed Eggplant

For the stuffing:
¼ cup  dry grated coconut
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 dry red chilies
½ tsp cane sugar
¼ tsp salt

2 long Chinese eggplant
herbs for garnish: cilantro, mint, rosemary, fennel
salt to taste
a few tablespoons of canola oil for pan-cooking

  1. Stuffing: Toast the seeds, then combine all the rest of the stuffing ingredients and grind to a fine paste adding a little water as needed
  2. Eggplant: Cut the eggplant to fir in the pan, or leave it whole if it is long and straight and can be cooked whole in the pan; then, with the ends intact, slit the eggplant lengthwise halfway and again crosswise to make quarters as in the picture
  3. Pan-cook: Slather the stuffing into the slits in the eggplant, tie with a cooking twine if desired; heat oil in a pan for shallow frying; place the stuffed eggplants in the hot oil, sear one side; turn the eggplants, cover and allow to cook till done, turning as need to get all the sides
  4. Garnish: I used some fresh mint, oregano, and rosemary from my garden, but, cilantro, curry leaves, spring onions, anything is fine for garnish. Serve warm with roti or rice.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bittermelon Carrot Spicy Curry

Indian Bitter gourd chinese Bitter melon Carrot Spicy Curry

Chinese bittermelon and Indian bittergourd feature frequently in my kitchen.While the adults in the house love it, the kids are still reluctant to embrace it fully. But then, I was not an early embracer myself and I think constant presence of it in my diet over the formative years helped me develop the taste for it. So, I hope to keep getting the kids to try it every time I make it.

Served warm with roti, dosai, rice, or even rice noodles, this Bittermelon Carrot Spicy Curry is quite versatile and flexible. Adjust chilies to taste.

2 Serrano chilies sliced thin on a bias (seeded if preferred)
1 medium onion, sliced thin
4 bittermelons sliced thin
1 large carrot, sliced thin on a bias
3 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon crushed fresh garlic
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 Tablespoon fennel seeds
3 dry red chilies
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or tamarind juice)
1 teaspoon coarse cane sugar
salt to taste
2 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
water as needed


  1. Salt the cut bittermelon and let it stand in a towel-lined colander for about 10-15 minutes to draw out the bitter juices; then squeeze the moisture out and keep handy
  2. Toast the coriander, cumin, caraway, fennel seeds, dry red chilies, and grind them to a fine powder
  3. Heat oil in a pan, add the onions, garlic, chilies, tomato paste, and the powdered spices and saute till aromatic
  4. Add the bittermelon and carrots, a splash of water and lemon/tamarind juice, cover and cook till bittermelon is done
  5. Remove the lid, stir in the cane sugar and adjust salt to taste, and saute till thickened to desired consistency
  6. Serve warm with roti or rice

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Lychee Chili Chicken

lychee recipe chili chicken

I noticed a bag of lychees at the Asian store nearby and couldn't resist bringing it home to meet the family. We got on better than expected. And by "we" I mean just my daughter and I, as the others in the family don't care for lychee's strong personality at all.


Much like the Lychee Fiesta a few years ago where we had a spread of Chicken in Lychee Sauce, Lychee Strawberry Frozen Yogurt, and Lychee Flaming Diaquiri, I wanted to have a week of celebrating lychee, mainly to make sure we consume the bag of lychees brought home on a whim before they rot and turn to compost.

This is a simplified recipe of chicken in spicy lychee sauce. As always, adjust flavors to taste.

Ingredients for the Lychee Chili Sauce:
12 fresh (or frozen or canned) lychees, skinned, seeded - pulp only
2 serrano chilis, coarsely chopped
4 dry red chilies
2 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed
3 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil

1 large chicken breast, cut into chunks, plus a tablespoon of canola oil


  1. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet, add the chicken chunks and a dash of salt, cover and cook over medium heat, flipping to cook all round
  2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a blender and grind to a fine paste
  3. Add the sauce to the par-cooked chicken and continue cooking covered, adding a splash of water as needed, and salt to taste
  4. When chicken is done and the sauce has reduced, and the raw flavor has been cooked away, remove from heat, garnish with cilantro and spring onions and serve with warm basmati rice

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Baby Bok Choy Bell Pepper Chicken

Nigella caraway black cumin flavored Baby Bok Choy  Bell Pepper Chicken

Half a bag of baby bok choy and  a quarter bag of mini peppers were the last of the veggies in the fridge one weeknight and so they came together with an impromptu combination of spices for a simple meal served with warm brown basmati rice and cool Cucumber Raita: grate cucumbers and stir in some crushed mint leaves, plain yogurt and salt to taste.

nigella caraway black cumin fennel indian spices

1 teaspoon black cumin seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
6 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
1 Tablespoon canola oil
2 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 Tablespoon canola oil
baby bok choy leaves, cleaned
mini bell peppers, chopped into chunks
salt to taste


  1. Heat a teaspoon of canola oil in a cast iron skillet, add the chopped chunks of chicken, sprinkle some salt, allow to sear for a bit and flip to sear the other side
  2. Toast the nigella, caraway, and black cumin seeds, combine with the rest of the spices and blend to a fine paste
  3. Saute the bok choy and mini bell peppers in a pan with a teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt, add the spice paste and the mostly-cooked chicken, cover and cook till chicken and veggies are done, adding water if too dry
  4. Serve warm with rice or roti

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rice Pilaf-Stuffed Baked Globe Eggplant

Rice Pilaf-Stuffed Baked Globe Eggplant

  1. Cut a large globe eggplant in half lengthwise, score the cut side, brush with oil, place cut-side down on a roasting pan and cook in a 425°F oven for about 25 - 30 minutes, checking partway to make sure eggplant is getting cooked through
  2. Meanwhile, make the vegetable pilaf or biriyani and keep handy for stuffing
  3. Remove the eggplant from the oven, scoop out the cooked pulp and save it for making baba ghanouj or ajvar; then reduce the oven heat to 350°F 
  4. Fill the scooped out cavity with the fragrant rice pilaf and return to the 350°F oven and bake for another 5 minutes, then top with grated cheese if preferred and bake another 5 minutes till cheese melts
  5. Garnish with dried fruits and herbs, if preferred, and serve warm with cooling cucumber raita

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Friday, August 08, 2014

Bhutanese Red Rice with Sweet Potatoes, Plums and Sesame Chicken

Bhutanese Red Rice with Sweet Potatoes, Plums and Sesame Chicken

I was planning to serve Ema Datsi with the red rice and then changed my mind in order to use up the small wedge of red cabbage and one sweet potato that was left in the vegetable basket, and the rapidly aging plum that was thinking of inviting fruit flies.

A colorful plate with a little of this and a little of that is a huge blessing, to be able to enjoy every morsel. With food allergies so prevalent and the other half suffering from as-yet undetected allergen, it is a tricky proposition at home to make a meal that all of us can enjoy without consequences.

Anyway, pan roasted sweet potato was par-cooked first in the microwave then finished off in a cast iron skillet, along with a wedge of red cabbage and hunks of red onion. The chicken was rubbed with a mix of powdered toasted black sesame seeds and black pepper (and hence the black color), and cooked on the same cast iron skillet, after removing the veggies.

On the same pan, some chopped plums and cooking red wine and some cider vinegar plus some herbs from the garden came together to reduce to a simple sauce.

Although a bit pricey, every once in a while I get Bhutanese red rice and serve it as a centerpiece in a meal. And that's how this simple plate came about one weekend.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Quinoa-Stuffed Scallop Squash

Quinoa-Stuffed Scallop Squash vegetarian pattypan

We are fortunate that within walking distance, there's an international farmer's market that is open on Sundays June through October. "International" because farmers/growers and vendors of Russian, Mexican, Hmong and Mien origin offer vegetables unique to their culture and ideally suited for their traditional dishes. Besides the fresh produce, there's usually music from various countries. A unicycle-riding bagpiper is a fixture as well - kids love to watch him perform - especially when he arranges to do a "flaming" bagpipe performance.

Quinoa-Stuffed Scallop Squash vegetarian pattypan

Anyway, I usually pick up veggies at random, whatever catches my fancy, and then decide how I am going to use them after safely settling them in my kitchen.

The scallop (aka patty pan) squashes were lovely. I couldn't resist. At 4 for a dollar, it felt like a steal.

Quinoa-Stuffed Scallop Squash vegetarian pattypan

Stuffed veggies are always fun. Stuffed peppers is a favorite. So, I decided to make stuffed scallop squash again. This time, the filling is veggie-loaded quinoa.

4 to 6 scallop squash

For the stuffing:
1 cup cooked quinoa
½ cup chopped colorful bell peppers
½ cup chopped green or red cabbage
½ red or yellow onion, diced finely
1 serrano chili chopped finely (optional)
salt to taste
1 Tbsp canola oil

Quinoa-Stuffed Scallop Squash vegetarian pattypan


  1. Cut an opening at the stem part, save the top, and scoop the innards out of the scallop squash, leaving a fairly thick layer of flesh inside
  2. Steam or simmer the scallop squash (top as well) in salted boiling water for a few minutes till tender, and plunge in ice/cold water to prevent over-cooking, and to preserve its shape.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan, saute the onions, chilies and bell peppers, add the the cabbage, then the quinoa and cook till veggies are wilted a bit and yet still crunchy; adjust salt and herbs or other flavors to taste
  4. Scoop the quinoa mixture into the scallop squash, garnish with herbs and serve warm or at room temperature. I went with mint and fennel and some rosemary from my garden for garnish as those were the herbs I used for flavoring the quinoa as well, so carried over the same; but, even cilantro or parsley will be fine

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Mint Almond Flax Encrusted Pan-fried Eggplant Slices

minty eggplant almond flax crusted gluten free

Essentially a breaded eggplant recipe, much like for Eggplant Parmesan. But, rather than breadcrumbs, this recipe uses Almond, Flax meal and a bit of TVP for the crumb coating; and instead of egg for binding, buttermilk is used.

One small globe eggplant, sliced thin
Canola oil for shallow pan frying
½ cup buttermilk (more as needed) - in a shallow dish ready for dipping

Crumb coating:
¼ cup Almonds
3 Tbsp Flax meal
¼ cup TVP
8 to 10 Fresh mint leaves
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
salt to taste

½ cup brown rice flour (more as needed) in a large flat plate

  1. Salt the eggplant slices, allow to sweat on a towel, rinse, pat dry, keep handy
  2. Combine the ingredients for crumb coating and grind to a fine powder
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet
  4. Dust an eggplant slice in flour, dip in buttermilk, then press down on the crumb coating till a layer adheres
  5. Shallow pan fry the slices in a bit of oil, one or two at a time, flipping to cook both side, till the crumb crisps up and eggplant is cooked
  6. Serve warm with Mint-Fennel Pesto or Tangy Tuscan dressing or Basil-garlic tomato sauce.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Roasted Golden Beets, Purple Radish, Scallop Squash

Roasted Golden Beets, Purple Radish, Pattypan Squash

A very simple dish, but, a huge favorite. The fresh golden beets and colorful radish from the farm were too good to pass up.

Red onions, Beet greens' stems, Radish green's stems came together with chunky cut vegetables in a hot cast iron skillet with a bit of oil to create this magic.

A dash of balsamic vinegar and white vinegar, plus some salt and black pepper is all the flavoring involved here.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Purple Radish, Gold Beets, Beet & Radish Greens, and Carrots with Coconut

Purple Radish, Gold Beets, Beet Greens, Radish Greens, and Carrots with Coconut

Picked up some fresh veggies bursting with color at the farm and couldn't bring myself to cook them...

Purple Radish, Gold Beets, Beet Greens, Radish Greens, and Carrots with Coconut

Of course, couldn't let them wilt and shrivel either.

Purple Radish, Gold Beets, Beet Greens, Radish Greens, and Carrots with Coconut

So, made this simple dish that showcases the varying flavors and bright colors.

  1. Clean, dice, and par-cook the carrots, gold beets, and purple radish in the microwave for about 4 mins
  2. Meanwhile, clean, chop, and saute the beet greens and radish greens, with some diced onions and a touch of coconut oil
  3. Drain and toss the cooked beets, radish, and carrots with the greens, adjust salt, allow to cook together
  4. Meanwhile, grind some coconut and green chilies together - about  cup grated coconut with 1 Serrano chili; then stir this into the veggies in the pan
  5. Tempering (optional): Heat coconut oil in a small pan, when shimmering add the mustard seeds and when they pop, add the cumin seeds and when they splutter, remove from heat and toss it into the veggies.
  6. Serve warm with rice or roti; or enjoy as-is.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Stuffed Cucumber Hors d'oeuvres

no-cook Stuffed Cucumber Hors d'oeuvres summer appetizer

Perfect for summer, and hard to stop eating, these stuffed cucumber rings didn't start out to be stuffed cucumber rings. They were supposed to be cucumber sushi rolls. But, after sacrificing a cucumber or two, I decided to blame the knife for not doing its job and decided to enlist the trusty old spoon instead.

Inserted the back of a long spoon and scooped out the innards of the cucumber, leaving a fairly thick fleshy part to make up the hollow cylinder for stuffing.

no-cook Stuffed Cucumber Hors d'oeuvres summer appetizer

Filling ingredients: Cream cheese, feta, grated carrots, shallots, and sambal oelek came together for a thick and creamy stuffing.

Stuffing/Filling can be prepared ahead and refrigerated till ready to serve. And, keep the stuffed cucumber refrigerated until ready to serve. Also, preferably, place the serving tray over ice, or, as I found out on a hot day, the filling likes to melt and ooze out before we were ready to eat.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kale & Cabbage Stuffed Chicken Breast

stuffed chicken breast with kale cabbage gouda jalapeno jack

This is not very different from the usual stuffed chicken breast recipes, like Mustard Leaves + Bergenost Cheese Stuffed Chicken.

We've moved away from frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts for the last year or so. Since the switch to free range chicken breasts available at the local market, we have also consciously reduced the chicken consumption - being the only preferred meat for home cooking.

So, any occasion we do cook chicken, which is probably once or twice a month, I try to make it worthwhile; and stuffed chicken is one such much-relished meal for the other half.

Pound the chicken breast to make a thin flat layer. Add the filling and roll or fold it and pin it together with a few toothpicks to hold the stuffing securely inside while the chicken cooks.

The filling this time turned out wonderful, and I reserved some as a warm side as well: Sauteed kale and cabbage bound together with leftover mashed potatoes and a bit of jalapeno jack and smoked gouda.

Cook on a cast iron skillet till fully done. It is a bit tricky to measure the inside chicken temperature as one can't be sure of one is measuring the temperature of the filling or the actual chicken breast, but, trial and error works, and when in doubt, I overcook. The mildly charred outside adds a layer of flavor.

Remove all the toothpicks before serving. Serve with  a simple tomato-red-pepper sauce

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Eggplant Roll Ups

eggplant roll ups vegetarian tahini dressing

So many ways to enjoy the incomparable eggplant, each with its own special merits.

These eggplant roll ups are easy to make. They work best with large globe eggplant, but I like making it with the long neon or japanese and chinese eggplant as well.

Eggplant Slices:
Slice the eggplant uniformly thin, brush with oil, sprinkle some salt and arrange in a roasting pan.
Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes in a 425 °F oven till soft and cooked but not falling apart.

Anything goes. But here, I went with a mix of feta, cream cheese, chopped onions, chopped bell pepper, grated carrots, chopped olives, plus some red leaf lettuce for layering. Combine all but the lettuce and stir well to spreadable consistency.

Lay a slice of baked eggplant on a plate. Place a layer of lettuce leaves. Spread some of the filling mixture. And roll up the eggplant slice. Seal the end with some of the cream cheese filling.

Serve with tahini yogurt dressing.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

10 Grain Cereal Upma and Quinoa Upma

10 Grain Cereal Upma and Quinoa Upma

Upma ("Oop-maa") is a staple in south India, usually as a tiffin item for breakfast or sometimes a light dinner, made with coarse grits-like farina. There were two schools of thought about the ideal upma in our family when I was young: the grainy, non-lumpy, non-sticky kind with  lots of vegetables like carrots, peas, onions, ginger, tomatoes, chilies etc; and the gooey, ghee-dripping kind with just some tempering and possibly chilies and ginger and a touch of salt to taste.

Over the formative years, I've gone from liking one kind to the other and back again. These days, in my kitchen, it depends on my mood.

For the gooey porridge-like upma, I prefer the coarse meal 10 grain cereal sold in bulk food stores: wheat, corn, rye, triticale, oats, soy beans, millet, barley, brown rice, oat bran and flaxseed. Sometimes, I add an optional 11th item - viz., quinoa - to this mix.

For the grainy coarse upma, I like just the quinoa, or a mix of quinoa and bulgur. I cook it al dente first and then make the upma as below.

Veggies in either case depends on what's handy. Typically, onions, ginger, chilies, cabbage, bell pepper, carrots, peas are the staple. Sometimes I add cauliflower, edamame, kale or spinach.

Tempering: heat a tablespoon of canola oil in a pan, when oil is hot, add split urad dal, when the dal turns golden brown, add mustard seeds, and when mustard seeds pop, add curry leaves and the vegetables.

Saute the veggies, then, add the 10 grain cereal for the gooey upma. Add boiling hot water to the cereal in the ratio 1.5 : 1 - i.e., one measure of cereal gets 1.5 measure of boiling water. Cover and cook on medium low heat till the cereal is cooked through. Add in ghee or flax oil Omega butter™. Stir well and serve warm with Indian pickles.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pearl Barley, Kale, Lentil Salad

Pearl Barley, Kale, Lentil Salad

Now that summer is here, (sort of), meals are getting easier and lazier. Chilled or room temperature salads, fresh vegetables and fruits, quick smoothies, and no-fuss sandwiches are becoming the staples. Not much baking or slaving over the stove most days.

This quick salad just feels so nutritious, even if I am no nutritionist or an expert of any sort. My favorite way to serve/eat this is on a "bowl" of Boston Lettuce leaf: scoop some into a crisp Boston lettuce leaf, either roll it up for easy no-spillage eating, or gather up the edges like a taco and munch on.

Of course, any combination of salad ingredients like carrot sticks, olives, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, feta, bell peppers taste wonderful when served on a leaf of lettuce.

Pearl Barley, Kale, Lentil Salad

Pearl barley cooked al dente
Green or brown lentil, cooked al dente
Kale, chopped, and wilted
cooked chick peas
Kalamata olives
sun-dried tomatoes
finely chopped carrots
finely chopped red onion (optional)
toasted pine nuts  and dried cranberries (optional)
Dressing: lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, plus salt if needed

Combine the salad ingredients, adjust dressing to taste, serve at room temperature or chilled

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Wide Rice Noodles with Pickled Beets, Radish, Carrots

Wide Rice Noodles with Pickled Beets, Radish, Carrots

Sometimes the simplest of flavors give the most satisfaction. Pickled vegetables is an easy yet flavorful way of adding interest to everyday noodles. For a warm summer evening, cool wide rice noodles with chilled pickled vegetables is a treat.

Cook the wide rice noodles per package direction, drain and rinse in cold water. Then toss with some sesame oil and pickled vegetables; and serve with some extra pickled veggies on the side.
Vinegar Pickled Beets, Radish, Carrots

Radish, Beets, Red onions, Green beans, Shallots, White Home Garden Pearl Onions are a few of the usual veggies I pickle at home.
  1. Combine 1 cup of vinegar (white, cider, champagne, rice, any combination) with ½ cup of water, bring to a boil; optionally, add any pickling spices (whole black pepper, dry red chilies, cloves, coriander)
  2. Slice or cut veggies into preferred size and place in a canning jar; sprinkle some salt, a bit of honey if preferred
  3. Pour the boiling vinegar solution onto the veggies in the jar till veggies are fully immersed; cover and allow to cool. Refrigerate after cooling for upto a week.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Slow-cooked Chicken with Pan-seared Carrots and Leeks Spinach Salad

pan-seared carrots leeks spinach salad slow cooked chicken

The Crockette® by Rival is a tiny 1-Quart slow cooker that was a garage sale find a few years ago and now has become my favorite cooking apparatus. With very little time left for cooking elaborate meals on weeknights, I look for short-cuts and prepare-ahead methods without sacrificing the variety or taste of our meals.

Before I hit the bed, I throw in a couple of small chicken breasts with some favorite rub or herbs into the Crockette and leave it on all night. With only one setting, and its unique ability to never dry out and burn the foods, this slow cooking renders the chicken breasts superbly moist, flaky, and tender by next morning. And sometimes, I've forgotten to unplug it when I rush off to work and it still keeps the chicken perfectly done till dinner time that evening.

I like to combine this juicy fall-apart chicken with a fresh warm salad for a filling weeknight meal. Carrots and leeks cooked in a high heat cast-iron skillet gives the charred rich flavor. Toss the hot carrots and leeks with a bunch of baby spinach leaves and allow the spinach to wilt a bit. Drizzle with red wine vinegar if preferred.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Buckwheat Oat Chickpea Flax Pancake with Collard Greens, Asparagus, Leeks

buckwheat oat flax pancake with collard greens and leeks

Growing up with an array of dosai made from the traditional rice and urad dal, as well as chickpea and sooji and anything else my mom felt like throwing together for an amazing experimental dish, I love quick pan fritters and pancakes and pan breads for a weeknight meal, along with vegetable curries and chutneys.

This time, I went with a combination of quarter cup each of buckwheat flour, chickpea flour, rice flour, oat flour, flax meal, and fine cream of wheat (sooji). To boost it a bit, I also added some cooked brown lentils leftover from making Mesir Wat.

For the vegetable side, wilted collard greens with leeks, zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus  turned out perfect.

¼ cup each of:
buckwheat flour
oat flour
rice flour
chickpea flour
cream of wheat
flax meal
¼ cup cooked seasoned brown lentils
¼ cup finely chopped radish greens or beet greens
¼ cup finely diced onions
salt to taste
water as needed to make a thick batter

oil for pan-cooking


  1. Combine the dry ingredients, mix well; add a little water at a time stirring gently to make a thick pancake-like batter
  2. Heat a seasoned cast iron skillet to medium, and cook like pancakes
  3. Serve warm with any favorite chutney or the Wilted Collard Greens-Leeks-Asparagus side
Wilted Collard Greens Leeks Asparagus Zucchini Yellow Squash 
Since there is no rigid combination here, use as much or as little of each of the above, chopped or sliced to desired size/length. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and wilt the collard greens; then add the other vegetables and saute till desired doneness. Season to taste.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Quinoa Scallions Fenugreek Feta Fritters

quinoa fritters fenugreek feta pancake

For a while now, fritters, griddle cakes, and unleavened pan breads seem to be taking over my kitchen. Anything is fair game as long as I can make a batter and cook it on the pan quickly. A nice big vegetable side, plus a few of these small fritters or pancakes seem to be a popular dinner meal with all but the youngest in the house.

1 cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup crumbled feta
¼ cup finely chopped scallions
1 Tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos
2 eggs
2 Tbsp flax meal
2 mint leaves minced
2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (available at most Indian stores)
3 Tbsp finely diced onions (optional)

oil for griddle cooking


  1. Combine the ingredients and mix well to form a thick batter
  2. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet to medium, with a light drizzling of oil
  3. Drop a dollop of the batter, flatten a bit, allow to cook till browned; flip and brown the other side
  4. Serve warm with Mint-Cilantro Chutney

Mint-Cilantro Chutney:
10 mint leaves, finely chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 small serrano chili, chopped (optional, adjust to taste)
1 Tbsp Tahini paste
¼ teaspoon tamarind paste
¼ teaspoon agave nectar

Combine the ingredients in a blender, and process to a fine paste, adding water if needed for the chutney consistency.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Smoky Rich Mustard-y Slow-cooked Beans

Every once in a while, I enjoy the pungency of mustard oil in everyday dishes. Sometimes it brings out layers of flavors I didn't know possible. This beans is just a happy accident.

2 cups dry beans, soaked overnight, drained, ready to cook
2 Tbsp mustard oil
1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
½ cup molasses
½ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 medium onion diced
1/8th tsp ground cloves

Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook for 8 hours or so till beans are cooked.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Multigrain Puff Bread

healthy low fat multigrain flax meal puff bread cinnamon-raisin garlic-herb

We just coined that term at home for the biscuit-style soda bread I make for a quick soup accompaniment. Rather than just all purpose flour, I use a combination of flax meal and Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake Mix. Can substitute regular all purpose flour instead of the 10 grain pancake mix and increase the baking powder from 1 Tbsp to 2 Tbsp for this recipe - won't be "multigrain" puff bread anymore...

Each batch is flavored differently - garlic and herbs, just salt, cheese and olives... but the most favorite with the kids is the Cinnamon Raisin Multigrain Puff Bread I pack for school lunches and sometimes for morning breakfast.

½ cup flax meal
½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake Mix (or any generic multigrain pancake mix from bulk foods store)
1/8th teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 Tbsp baking powder
¼ cup Smart Balance Omega Butter Light
¼ cup raisins
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp 1% milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F
  2. Combine the dry ingredients; then cut in the butter and mix till breadcrumb consistency
  3. Add the milk a little at a time and knead gently till the dough comes together
  4. Turn dough onto a floured surface, knead a little more and roll it out to ¼ inch thick
  5. Cut out circles and place in a greased sheet pan and bake in 425°F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes till done on the inside (I usually test one to make sure)
Spread some more butter once it comes out of the oven, and serve warm.

For the garlic herb bread, same as above, except, no cinnamon powder or raisins or brown sugar; adjust salt to taste.

healthy low fat multigrain flax meal puff bread cinnamon-raisin garlic-herb

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Ginger-Lavender Chicken with Lacinato Kale

lavender ginger chicken lacinato kale

Treasured in Tuscany, Lacinato Kale is one of the easiest greens to incorporate in a portioned plated meals.

For this dish, the whole, washed, leaves get cooked in the microwave with a dash of salt and required amount of water. Then, it is ready for sauteing in the hot cast iron skillet, the skillet in which the chicken has just been cooked, so that kale picks up the flavors of the sauce.

Ginger and lavender come together to make a wonderfully aromatic and delicious sauce.

Ginger Lavender Sauce:
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
3 Tbsp chopped lavender flowers
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
½ cup red wine
¼ cup low sodium chicken stock

Combine the sauce ingredients, stir well, keep handy to add to cooking chicken.

2 marinated boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
Thinly sliced red onions, if preferred (optional)

  1. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet to high heat
  2. Add the chicken breasts and sear one side for 1- 2 minutes, then flip the chicken breast
  3. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 8 minutes
  4. Then, add the sauce and cover and simmer gently till it reduces to about one-third cup total
  5. When internal temperature is 170°F and sauce is reduced, dish up chicken and reserve sauce for serving
  6. In the same pan, add the drained microwaved kale and red onions and a teaspoon of olive oil, saute till wilted to satisfaction
  7. Dish up the kale along with the chicken breast and serve warm

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Spicy Kale Crisps

Lightly coated chickpea and rice flour provide the perfect crunch for this favorite snack of Kale Crisps.

Adjust the seasoning and spices to taste. Sometimes I use cumin and coriander powder with a hint of paprika for the seasoning, and sometimes just plain kale with no flavors or flours except a sprinkling of salt.

5 packed cups coarsely chopped kale leaves
¼ cup rice flour
¼ cup chickpea flour
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F
  2. Wash the chopped kale and drain; place in a large enough container
  3. Drizzle the oil, then sprinkle the flours and seasoning; toss well till a thin layer of the flours adhere to the kale leaves
  4. Place the coated kale leaves on a greased roasting pan and roast in the 350°F oven for about 12-15 minutes
  5. Check partway and flip the kale to crisp uniformly; turn the pan if needed; if the kale is not done to desired crispness, leave it in the oven for another couple of minutes; watch closely so as not to char
  6. Remove and serve warm; or, allow to cool completely in a rack and store in an airtight container

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Opo Squash + Kale Koftas & Patties

Opo Squash Kofta Kale Koftas  Patties Appakaral pancake puffs maker Curry Indian Bottle gourd

Call it Bottle gourd, Calabash, or Opo Squash, this fairly bland but versatile vegetable lends itself well to cooking many interesting dishes.

Opo Squash Kofta Kale Koftas  Patties Curry Indian Appa Karal pancake puffs maker Bottle gourd

Koftas is a favorite in my kitchen, served with some flavorful sauces. Typically koftas are balls, but, sometimes I make them into small flat patties.

In this recipe, grated opo squash and kale with some onions and garlic forms the core of the koftas and patties. A bit of rice flour and chickpea flour with seasoning is used to bind the vegetables so they can be shaped into balls and patties.

Opo Squash Kofta Kale Koftas Appa Karal pancake puffs maker  Patties Curry Indian Bottle gourd

Rather than baking, I fried the kofta balls in a pancake puffs maker a.k.a Appa Karal as I was making just a small batch of koftas. The patties were cooked in a cast iron skillet of medium low heat till cooked through on the inside.

appa karal pancake puffs maker

1 medium opo squash
½ cup finely chopped kale leaves
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
1 tsp finely minced garlic (optional)
1 tsp crushed red pepper
½ medium yellow onion, finely diced
salt to taste
¼ cup chickpea flour
1/3 cup rice flour

2 to 3 Tbsp oil for cooking patties and  kofta balls


  1. Peel the opo squash, remove the spongy core and seeds, and grate it. Squeeze to press out as much water as possible from the grated opo squash.
  2. Combine the kofta ingredients to make a thick yet loose/pliable dough. Add a little flour at a time till desired consistency. Add more flour as needed, in case the grated opo squash has retained too much water even after being squeezed out
  3. Shape the dough into even-sized balls that would fit in the Appa Karal or Pancake Puffs Maker
  4. For Kofta Balls: Heat a small amount of oil in the Pancake Puffs Maker or Appa Karal, drop the shaped balls of dough and cook over medium heat till done on the inside and crisp on the outside; alternately deep fry if preferred
  5. For Patties: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet, flatten the balls into patties and cook over medium heat, flipping as needed to brown both sides and cook the insides
  6. Sauce: The sauce this time is a simple tomato-based one. But, either Jalapeno-Cilantro Sauce or Spicy Beet Sauce or Creamy Chard Sauce would be wonderful with these Opo squash & Kale koftas

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