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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pickled Kohlrabi

Pickled Kohlrabi

It is no random chalk-it-to-bizarre phenomenon that there are a series of kohlrabi posts here. 'This the season. All of a sudden, these sprightly bulbs are everywhere. Well, not in my garden - yet - but, every other market I go to offers these quirky-looking bulbs practically free.

A couple of large bulbs, along with some okra, got pickled in vinegar for a quick snack.

Just a simple vinegar pickling that can be looked up on the web: equal parts white vinegar and water with some salt, simmered till salt is dissolved, plus some peppercorns, garlic cloves, dry red chilies, caraway, and dill weed. 

Pickled Kohlrabi

Pack a jar with kohlrabi batons and okra, pour the hot vinegar mixture, top with a kohlrabi leaf to keep it all submerged, then, allow to cool a bit, cover, and leave it in the fridge for a week or so for flavored to develop.

As for me, in about 4 or 5 days, I start dipping into the jar and snacking on these crisp tart little veggies. They are good additions to layered salads as well. Some chickpeas, come chopped pickled kohlrabi, some marinated beans all add up to a delicious salad.

A fantastic alternative to pickled baby cucumbers aka "pickles", these pickled kohlrabi batons are easy to make and fun to snack on.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Braised Kohlrabi Leaves & Bok Choy with Buckwheat Soba and Okra

Braised Kohlrabi Leaves & Bok Choy with Buckwheat Soba and Okra

I had stashed away some of the smaller, torn-up kohlrabi leaves after using the big ones for the Stuffed Kohlrabi Leaf Dolma Bites. These bits and pieces of kohlrabi leaves along with some bok choy leaves, plus a splash of Zenjiang vinegar and vegetable stock came together for braising.

Simply heat a teaspoon of sesame oil in a pan, add 3 cups of packed leaves and 3 cloves of crushed garlic, turn them around till lightly golden all around, add a teaspoon of Zenjiang vinegar (a little goes a long way!) and a cup of vegetable stock, cover and cook till greens are tender. Fish out the greens and reduce the liquid, if any, to pour over the greens when serving.

Some okra, onions, and tomatoes came together with Braggs Liquid Aminos and Sambal Oelek for the warm okra side.

Served at room temperature with cold soba noodles, this is a wonderful summer dish for a weeknight evening that comes together very quickly.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Pan-roasted Radish and Brussels Sprouts

pan roasted redish and brussels sprouts sweet potato medallion taboulleh

A big bunch of rainbow radish hop-skip-and-jumped into my shopping basket at the farmers market.

Rather than adding it raw to salads or cooking Indian-style Dal or Sambar, I went with a searing and pan-roasting them with Brussels sprouts.  Flavoring with Balsamic vinegar, mirin, and Braggs Liquid Aminos, and sautéing the radish greens along with the radishes and Brussels sprouts, seemed to make the dish all the more appealing.

Brussles Sprouts by themselves are relished in many ways at home, a few of which are shared in the Brussels Sprouts Fete post about four years ago. And, am sure this combo of radishes and Brussles sprouts can be cooked in any of those delicious methods.

With some Tabbouleh and pan-roasted sweet potato medallions, the roasted radish and Brussels sprouts rounded out a simple but filling weeknight meal.

pan roasted redish and brussels sprouts sweet potato medallion taboulleh

The sweet potato medallions were roasted on a cast iron skillet with a touch of brown sugar for caramelization. 

Tabbouleh, a quick and simple salad,  tastes even better the next day. Just some chopped celery, carrots, sweet onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, feta, walnuts, apples, cranberries, parsley tossed with softened bulgur. Of course, bulgur is high in carbs, complex carbs - but also high in fiber and low in fat, plus has a nice amount of protein. Being a low GI food, I like that it is easy to make and is good all round.

The dressing is just lime/lemon juice and olive oil, some salt to taste, plus a splash of orange zest for this tabbouleh.

I had a small lump of Jalapeño goat cheese and served small discs of it as garnish to add a bite to the roasted radish and Brussels sprouts.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Stuffed Kohlrabi Greens Dolma Bites

Stuffed Kohlrabi Greens Dolma Bites

Seasonal blueberry-picking and jam-making happened last weekend. I was all set to pay for the berries we picked and head back home when a gorgeous crisp bunch of cheerful kohlrabi jumped up at me. I couldn't resist. I brought it home with much gung-ho, only to get caught up in a million household tasks that couldn't wait any longer. So, the kohlrabi bunch sat there and waited patiently.

stuffed kohlrabi leaves dolma

I had mentally made some Stuffed Kohlrabi in Coconut Cream Sauce and some Kohlrabi Naan and Kohlrabi Greens Koottu and was thrilled to have used up this new bunch of kohlrabi in fitting ways. Of course, mental-cooking is not the same as actual-cooking. So the kohlrabi sat there, sporting a pout and threatening to wilt. I had to act fast.

Stuffed Kohlrabi Greens Dolma Bites

That's how the kohlrabi greens got made into these grape-leaf-dolma-like steamed rolls filled with spiced and fragrant rice and vegetables. Much like Swiss Chard Dolma and Collard Green Bites and Cabbage Rolls, these Kohlrabi Greens Dolma Bites were much relished by adults. Kids, not so much.

The filling is a favorite: rice sautéed with vegetables and flavored with aromatic spices, some walnuts and dried cranberries. Since the filling is a favorite side for dinners, I made quite a big batch and saved some. About a dozen large kohlrabi leaves got trimmed and washed and patted dry, ready to be stuffed and steamed.

Stuffed Kohlrabi Greens Dolma Bites

After steaming for about 12 minutes, I sautéed them in olive oil and garnished with fresh cranberries and blueberries and some sesame seeds. The tartness of the cranberries plus the juicy sweetness of the blueberries complement the spice filling and the savory leaves.

As to the kohlrabi bulbs, they are getting pickled in vinegar - some of them at least. The rest might become fritters or stuffing when I find a pocket of time next.

12 to 14 kohlrabi leaves of uniform size
1 Tablespoon olive oil for sauteing
Favorite garnishes

1 cup cooked rice
2 cups finely chopped mixed vegetables - onions, colorful bell peppers, tomatoes, Serrano chilies, cauliflower, cabbage
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Seasoning spices to taste - salt, chili powder, curry powder, paprika, turmeric, cumin powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar


  1. Filling: Heat the oil in a pan; add the veggies, saute a bit; then add the spices and saute some more; cover a cook till tender; then add in the rice and adjust seasoning
  2. Spoon enough filling onto each kohlrabi leaf and wrap it tight like a burrito and place it in the steaming basket, free side down
  3. Steam fro about 12 minutes; remove from steam
  4. Heat oil in a pan, place the steamed rolled leaves gently on the pan; turn them over to gently saute all sides
  5. Serve warm, garnished with favorite berries and nuts

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cheesy Sweet Potato and Cabbage Savory Bread

Cheesy Sweet Potato and Cabbage Savory Bread

A thick slice of savory bread is perfect as tea time snack or as a quick lunch-mate for salads. While the sweetish cake-like zucchini bread and banana-blueberry bread and sweet potato bread get a huge raving endorsement, these savory breads are gaining in popularity as well with the kids lately.

The tiny wedge of purple cabbage that was relegated to the deep recesses of the crisper tray -- since I rarely throw away any vegetable before they are beyond redemption -- finally saw the light of day, but not for too long.

Why purple cabbage and sweet potato? asked the nicer half of the adult team at home.
Why not? I replied with conviction.

1 cup finely chopped purple cabbage
1 cup mushed cooked sweet potato
2 eggs beaten
½ cup canola oil
½ cup milk
1 cup grated cheeses - Parmesan and Colby jack or Cheddar
¼ cup flax meal
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (reduce if preferred)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ° F
  2. Combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl and stir till well incorporated
  3. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, sifting the flour
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture stirring gently and folding it in
  5. Pour into a greased standard loaf pan and bake in 350 °F oven for 35 to 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  6. Cool on a wire rack before slicing
  7. Serve with plain whipped cream cheese

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cream of Asparagus Soup

I was all set to post this Cream of Asparagus soup recipe last time and then goofed up a bit -- ended up with mismatched title and recipe as I posted the recipe for the Cream of Arugula soup with the title "Cream of Asparagus soup." Sorry for the confusion, I've gone back and fixed that error.

Same general procedure as for Cream of Arugula soup here - I do love my pressure cooker for making creamy soups, only no moong dal this time. I prefer the texture to be coarse and dense for the Cream of Arugula soup so I didn't strain it. But for this Cream of Asparagus soup, since I use the thicker parts of the stalk for cooking, I strain it to get the chewy bits out.

Asparagus is from a local farm and yet it is a bit pricey here, but it has been quite a hot Spring so far.

This recipe is quite close to the ever-popular Cream of Kohlrabi soup that comes about this time of the year.

1 lb asparagus, woody parts removed, chopped
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
2 Serrano chilies, chopped coarsely
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup grated Colby jack cheese
½ cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker pan, add the onions, ginger, chilies and saute with a pinch of salt till aromatic and onions turn translucent
  2. Add the chopped asparagus and stock, cover and cook in the pressure cooker, reserving some tips for garnish
  3. When safe to open the pressure cooker, puree with a hand blender till smooth; then strain to remove coarse, chewy fibrous bits
  4. Simmer gently, stir in the cheeses to thicken, then the cream and turn off stove
  5. Garnish with blanched asparagus tips and serve warm

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cream of Arugula Soup

cream of arugula soup

In the recent heat wave, and my partial neglect, the home garden arugula shot up and bolted. While its delicate white flowers were pretty, I didn't want it to go to seed too soon and spread wildly. So, I snipped the lot of it, stem and all, leaving  just enough for it to possibly recover by autumn.

Of course, salads with arugula tossed in is a staple, but this time I was craving for some hearty dal-like soup. 

cream of Arugula soup

I discarded the bottom few inches of chewy woody arugula stalk but used the rest of the thick stem and leaves and flowers for this soup. To add body and protein, I went with the staple moong dal.

This easy-to-cook thick and creamy arugula soup can be served chilled on a hot summer day. I prefer it warm with a hunk of Olive Ciabatta bread.

5 cups chopped washed arugula, stem and all
1 cup moong dal, uncooked (aka mung bean, green gram)
2 Serrano chilies, chopped (reduce if preferred)
1 medium onion diced
2 vine tomatoes cut into quarters
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and ready
1 Tablespoon Coconut oil
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon cumin powder 
2 Tablespoon coriander powder
3 cups stock or water
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste

1. Wash and drain the moong dal, keep handy 
2. Heat coconut oil in pressure cooker pan, add onions, chilies, garlic, and tomatoes and sauté till aromatic 
3. Add the washed and drained moong dal and sauté some more 
4. Add the chopped arugula, some salt, stock or water, and stir well
5. Put the lid on and pressure cook; since dal cooks quite fast, can also just cook in a saucepan instead of pressure cooker
6. When done and safe to open the pressure cooker, stir in the spice powders and simmer gently on low heat
7. Use a hand blender or potato masher to mush up the cooked dal and veggies
8. Stir in some heavy cream and turn off heat; adjust flavored to taste
9. Garnish with spring onions and chives and serve warm or cold

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Quinoa, Millet, Barley, Soybean Dosai

Quinoa, Millet, Barley, Soybean Dosai

I grew up with a steady dose of Dosai-- the versatile anytime crepe-like flatbread made from hearty urad dal and rice. I didn't think about it much, it was a staple and therefore taken for granted. I didn't bother to analyze its nutritional value when I was young, I didn't care to know much about it, except that the batter was always handy and my mom would make this simple dish without a second thought and serve it with any handy chutneys or leftover sambaror kozhambu.

Now that I am trying to feed my own kids, I find that this unassuming protein-packed Dosai is my best friend-- the kind I can take liberties with and not fall out. The kids love it with or without chutneys and dips on the side. And, these are second-gen enhanced non-traditional Dosai that tradition-loving puritans would probably frown at.

Quinoa, Millet, Barley, Soybean Dosai

There is the 'ordinary' dosai that was favored by the kids when they were toddlers. A slight variation of it is the Brown Rice Dosai that always satisfies. And then, there is the Soy Bean Dosai which comes from a multipurpose batter that doubles as Idlee batter for steaming. On and off, I make the batter with a mix of barley and pearl millet with brown rice and urad dal which gives a wholesome Barley-Millet Dosai.

It helps to plan ahead: I typically soak the ingredients overnight on a Thursday evening, grind it Friday night, then allow it to ferment all weekend thanks to natural wild yeast in the air. In winter, I help it along by warming up the oven a bit, turning off the oven, and leaving the batter inside the oven to stay warm and ferment better. The batter is ready when it bubbles a bit when stirred and emits a pleasant sour odor.

Quinoa, Millet, Barley, Soybean Dosai batter

The batter, once fermented, can be stored in the fridge for a week. I take out a little at a time to make a few dosais as needed for breakfast or dinner, as they taste best fresh off the griddle.

Anyway, there are umpteen variations for the batter - just add whatever grams and pulses are handy and see how it turns out. Sometimes, the texture is off and the batter tends to stick to the griddle making it tough to cook if the combination is not right, but over time, it is easy enough to gauge the outcome while measuring and soaking the ingredients.

This Quinoa-Millet-Barley-Soybean Dosai is one such combination that turned out fine and was much relished by the family

Ingredients for the batter:
1 cup urad dal
1 cup quinoa
1 cup millet
1 cup barley
1 cup soy beans
2 cups brown rice

  1. Soak the ingredients for the batter overnight
  2. Grind using a heavy-duty blender or wet grinder to a smooth batter with the consistency of pancake batter
  3. Leave it in a warm place to ferment and rise - preferably cover with a cheese cloth or any breathable towel - anywhere from 24 to 48 hours
  4. Add some salt and a little water if needed to make the batter spreadable on the griddle to make the crepes.
  5. Cook much like pancakes-- brown one side, flip and cook the other side

Mint Thuvaiyal:

Here, I serve the dosais with red-chili chutney and home-made Mint Thuvaiyal- a pesto-like South Indian concoction. Mint is getting wild in the backyard, their runner roots taking over a small patch thanks to recent rains and warm weather.

home garden mint thuvaiyal thogayal chutney south indian spicy

Fresh mint leaves from the garden sauteed with toasted urad dal and chana dal, plus grated coconut, chilies, and tamarind paste come together to make this quick thick chutney-like blend referred to as Thuvaiyal/Thogayal in Tamil.

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Sunday, May 08, 2016

Burdock Kinpira

Burdock root is a recent addiction with me and my eleven year old, especially when pan-cooked as in this recipe, along with carrots and broccoli stems. Although intended as a side, we seem to make a meal of it every time.

Not quite the traditional flavoring here:
Braggs Liquid Aminos
Balsamic Vinegar
Sesame oil
Zhen Jiang Vinegar

Heat oil in a pan. Add the julienned or slivered burdock and carrots and broccoli stems. Sauté a bit, then add just enough of the flavoring ingredients to suit your taste, plus quarter cup water. Cover and cook till liquid is completely absorbed and the burdock root is tender enough.

I like a adding Balsamic vinegar for mildly sweet flavor and caramelization. 

Serve warm or chilled, garnish with sesame seeds and spring onions.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Dubu-Jorim: Spicy Chili Onion Braised Tofu

Spicy Chili Onion Tofu

There are versions of this spicy chili onion tofu dish in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, even Indian cuisine where tofu is usually substituted with paneer (bag cheese). As always, the recipe here is adapted to my taste, so adjust the chili/heat to your palate.

The spicy onion chili tofu comes together quickly and is a fine addition to a simple Bibimbap bowl, along with some braised or steamed greens and veggies, plus fried eggs.

Although this recipe uses fried tofu, if fresh block of firm tofu is all that's available, it is just a quick step to make crispy pan-fried tofu without all the oil and deep-frying. Simply press the block of fresh tofu to squeeze out excess water, cut into cubes, pat dry, and dust with seasoned corn starch (I typically add chili powder, garlic powder, and salt for flavor; plus a pinch of brown sugar for caramelization and color). Pan-fry on a medium hot cast iron skillet flipping to cook all sides till crisp on the outside.

12 to 16 oz. Fried tofu, cubed
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
2 green chilies, chopped finely
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp sesame oil

For the Chili Sauce:
1 Tbsp fried chili in oil
1 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
2 Tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
¼ cup water


  1. Combine the chili sauce ingredients, stir well and keep handy
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, chopped green chilies, crushed garlic, and brown sugar; saute over medium heat till onion caramelizes
  3. Add the chili sauce and simmer till it reduces a bit and thickens
  4. Stir in the tofu, cover and allow to simmer some more till the flavors are absorbed by the tofu and it gets a rich thick coating of the sauce all over
  5. Remove from heat, garnish with sesame seeds and chopped spring onions

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Chickpea, Wheat Berry, Pearl barley, Ptitim Salad

Chickpea, Wheat Berry, Pearl barley, Ptitim Salad

Periodically, I soak and cook some wheat berries and barley and keep them handy to sprinkle on top of leafy green salads. 1 cup wheat berry/barley with 2 cups stock works perfectly in rice cooker to yield cooked-but-not-mushy grains for this recipe.

The chewy texture of wheat berry and barley when combined with meaty texture of Ptitim (Israeli Couscous) and firmly-cooked chickpeas makes for a satisfyingly wholesome base for a quick summer salad. Although it is not summer here yet, some days are blazing hot already.

Chopped purple cabbage, diced zucchini, diced green mango, finely diced red onions, diced tomatoes, corn kernels, diced sweet orange and red bell peppers tossed together boost this earthy dish with colors and flavors.

A splash of lemon juice and some olive oil is all the dressing the salad needs. Any handy herbs would be fine. I used some parsley and mint from the garden.

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Saturday, April 09, 2016

Lacinato Kale Flowers and Leaves

Home garden kale from last year is at the end of its life cycle, putting out gorgeous tiny yellow flowers to spread its genes.

Some of these delicate-looking yellow kale flowers paired with bluebells and Solomon's Seal from the garden bring instant cheer.

And, some of the kale flowers got sautéed with the last of the Lacinato kale leaves plus colorful bell peppers, onions and garlic to make a simple plate of irresistible dish that is perfect as-is, or can be served with brown rice or quinoa or even rotis.

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Pan-fried Sunchokes aka Jerusalem Artichokes

Pan-fried Sunchokes aka Jerusalem Artichokes

Much like taro root, sunchokes might cause severe gas and bloating in some with its inulin content, especially when served raw. Of course, each person's tolerance varies but I enjoy these sunchokes (and taro) only occasionally and only in small doses, even though I love the flavor and texture when they are pan-fried or roasted.

With a texture like potatoes and taste like artichokes, this unique tuber lends itself to mashing, pureeing, baking, frying, roasting...

Par-cooking them and then roasting them in the oven cut into shoestring "fries" much like potatoes is a quick and easy way to serve this. But, my preferred way to cook is pan-frying with a touch of balsamic vinegar and spices to crisply caramelize the outsides and have a soft-cooked inside.

Simply peel and chop them into slices, and par-cook them in the microwave or steamer till slightly-tender but not mushy.

Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet and arrange the cooked slices in a single layer. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, salt, and herbs if preferred (rosemary and oregano from the garden comes in handy sometimes).

Allow the bottom side to crisp and brown a bit and then flip them to cook the other side, adding a splash of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of brown sugar, if preferred.

Garnish and serve warm with brown rice.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Steamed Lentil Balls with Parsnip, Rutabaga, Turnip

Steamed Lentil Balls with Parsnip, Rutabaga, Turnip

Served as snack or appetizer, these steamed lentil balls are packed with so much goodness that I can end up overindulging. And, when cooked in a curry sauce, it is the perfect side dish for naan or roti.

Steamed Lentil Balls with Parsnip, Rutabaga, Turnip

Petite French green lentils and split pigeon peas (tuvar dal), along with some bulgur (cracked wheat) is soaked in hot water till they soften a bit. Then ground up with some herbs and flavors.

Steamed Lentil Balls with Parsnip, Rutabaga, Turnip

Grated parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, and ginger bring in the earthy flavors.

Steamed Lentil Balls with Parsnip, Rutabaga, Turnip

Coconut flour, my latest obsession, is perfect to bring the dough together to shape into balls. High in fiber content, coconut flour helps bind the lentil paste and grated veggies. These balls can be steamed or deep fried or baked. I made a batch of steamed lentil balls and a batch of fried ones for kids's snack.

Steamed Lentil Balls with Parsnip, Rutabaga, Turnip

These steamed lentil balls are very much like the traditional South Indian Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu recipe, but with a boost of flavor from winter root vegetables.

The steamed lentil balls can be cooled and frozen for later use. Just thaw overnight in the fridge before incorporating in curries or other recipes.

For the Lentil Balls:
1½ cups combined grated turnips, rutabaga, parsnip, ginger
⅓ cup coconut flour, more or less
to soak and grind to paste:
¼ cup split pigeon peas
¼ cup green lentils
¼ cup bulgur
3 or 4 dry red chilies (optional)
to flavor:
&frac14l teaspoon turmeric powder
&frac1 teaspoon chili powder
&frac1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt to taste

For the curry:
2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp dark cocoa powder (optional)
2 Tablespoon tamarind concentrate (sold as Sour Soup Mix)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup finely diced onions
¼ cup finely diced red, yellow bell peppers
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
favorite spices - cumin powder, coriander powder, or ready-made taco seasoning, or even Ras al Hanout

  1. Soak the split pigeon peas, green lentils and bulgur with optional red chilies in boiling hot water for about half an hour or up to one hour
  2. Meanwhile, grate the parsnip, rutabaga, turnip and ginger and keep handy
  3. Grind the soaked split pigeon peas, green lentils, bulgur, chilies to a fine paste, adding no more than a few teaspoons of water if needed -- the lentil paste needs to be thick not runny
  4. Combine the ground lentils mixture, grated veggies, flavoring ingredients, add a little bit of coconut flour at a time and mix the dough to a stiffer consistency that will lend itself to shaping
  5. Shape the dough into balls and steam for about 10 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, start the curry simmering in the pot - simply combine all the curry ingredients and bring to a simmer, adjusting flavors
  7. Drop the steamed lentil balls into the gently simmering curry and allow to cook for about 8 to 10 minutes to absorb the flavors
  8. Serve warm with rice or roti or naan
Steamed Lentil Balls with Parsnip, Rutabaga, Turnip

Alternately, I saved a batch of lentil balls before steaming, and deep fried these for the kids. The steamed lentil balls can be deep fried as well, if preferred.

With some ketchup on the side, kids love eating up these fried balls not surprised at all by the fact that it has turnip, parsnip, and rutabaga which they typically avoid at all costs.

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Ube Purple Yam and Chipotle Naan with Spinach Jackfruit Seed Curry

Ube Purple Yam and Chipotle Naan with Spinach Jackfruit Seed Curry

Purple yam or Ube aka 'Filipino yam' thanks to its popularity in Filipino desserts is one of those hard-to-resist produce when I come across it at the Asian stores. They are perfect as oven-baked or pan-cooked "Fries".

Since I am not fond of desserts much, Ube got incorporated into a savory dish again this time.

Ube Purple Yam and Chipotle Naan with Spinach Jackfruit Seed Curry

Chipotle in adobo sauce has a wonderful smokiness with  just the right amount of heat balanced by the vinegar and sugar in the sauce. I love to add it into many unconventional dishes. Simply grind a can of chipotle in its adobo sauce - seeds and all - into a fine paste and keep it handy in the fridge.

Ube Purple Yam and Chipotle Naan with Spinach Jackfruit Seed Curry

Cooked and mashed Ube purple yams added that touch of mild sweetness and lovely lilac color to the inside of the naan. Chipotle brought in some mild heat and ruddy shade to the outsides.

I also added some dried fenugreek leaves (methi) and minced garlic to make this a flavor-packed naan.

Naan dough started the same a usual - all purpose flour with yeast - but, I decided to add a touch of coconut flour and flax meal... and simply mix in the mashed ube and chipotle paste, salt to taste, fenugreek leaves, if using.

This time, I served it with a simple saag made with spinach and jackfruit seeds, flavored with garlic, ginger, chilies, and tomatoes.

1 cup cooked mashed purple yams
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup flax meal
2 Tablespoon chipotle paste
2 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon salt (less if preferred)
2 Tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
2 Tablespoon olive oil
½ cup warm milk
4 teaspoon active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour

  1. Sprinkle the yeast in warm water and allow to bloom for a bit
  2. Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients, using only 2 of the 3 cups of all purpose flour, and stir well
  3. Scald the milk, then combine it with the wet ingredients including chipotle paste and mashed ube, as well as the yeast mixture
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead to a smooth elastic dough, adding water or flour as needed to get the right soft consistency; coconut flour being high in fiber content might soak up more water, so add water accordingly
  5. Ball it up and place it in bowl coated with oil, turn and coat the dough with oil, cover and set in a warm place to rise and double in volume
  6. Divide the risen dough evenly into 12 balls
  7. Roll each ball to quarter inch thick, fold in half once to form a semi-circle, fold in half again to a rounded triangle, and roll again to ¼ inch thick naan
  8. Cook in a very hot cast-iron skillet, brush one side with water and place that side down on the hot skillet; wait till bubbles develop on the top surface
  9. Flip and cook the other side till done and optionally brush with ghee if preferred

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Japanese Yam "Fries"

Japanese Yam Fries

With its rich deep magenta skin and white-ish insides, the Japanese yam looks quite stunning when cut open. The mildly sweet flavor and potato-like texture makes it an ideal candidate for making fries. Rather than deep frying in oil, it can be oven baked or pan-fried.

This time, as it was a small batch, and my pan was just the right size, I went with shallow pan-frying.

Peel and cut the yam, immerse in water and par-cook in the microwave for about 4 minutes, drain and pat dry.

Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a cast-iron skillet, arrange the par-cooked yam pieces in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and chili powder, allow to sit and brown on one side.

Turn them over to brown the other sides as preferred.

Serve warm.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bitter Gourd Bean Bites

Bitter Gourd Bean Bites

Sometimes  recipes come about because I am trying to use up bits and pieces, odds and ends, from the fridge before it is beyond salvaging.

Bitter Gourd Bean Bites

About half a cup of slow-cooked spicy beans and one large bitter melon were ignoring each other in the fridge. So, I decided to bring them together in this dish.

Instead of the beans, can use any leftovers like ground meat or mashed potatoes or even herbed goat cheese and feta.

½ cup slow-cooked flavorful black beans or pinto beans
1 large bitter melon
1 Tablespoon tamarind concentrate (sold as Sour Soup Mix in Asian stores)
1 Tablespoon chopped chipotle in adobo sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
salt to taste
2 Tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil or olive oil

Cilantro and toasted sesame seeds for garnish

  1. Cut the bitter melon lengthwise in half, scoop out the pulpy innards with seeds, chop into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle some salt and allow to sit on a towel to drain for about 10 minutes
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F
  3. Arrange the bitter melon pieces on a greased roasting pan; add a drop each of tamarind concentrate and adobo sauce chipotle; sprinkle some brown sugar and salt
  4. Bake in the 425°F oven for about 12 minutes
  5. Remove from heat, add a dollop of the bean-filling on each piece and cook for about another 4 to 5 minutes, turn off the oven
  6. Top with cheese if preferred and return it to the oven for the cheese to melt (with the oven off, the residual heat is enough to melt the cheese)
  7. Garnish and serve warm

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Japanese Yam, Green Papaya, Cauliflower Spicy Coconut Flour Kofta Balls

Japanese Yam coconut flour kofta chipotle

Unlike the supersweet sweet potatoes with orangish insides sold as "yams" in some grocery stores, the Japanese yam is mildly sweet with whitish insides, and has a flaky texture that somehow embodies both delicate and wholesome.

Japanese Yam coconut flour kofta chipotle

Kofta balls floating in spicy korma curries are quite a treat, especially with rice or naan. But, this time, I served these balls as an appetizer/snack with tomato chutney and cilantro-mint chutney.

Also, typically koftas are fried, but, these delicious goodies are baked.

Japanese Yam coconut flour kofta chipotle

One of my favorites to incorporate these days is the coconut flour, so, sure enough these kofta balls have coconut flour as well.

1½ cups combined, of grated Japanese yam, green papaya, cauliflower
2 chipote in adobo sauce chopped finely
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup chickpea flour
salt to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
vegetable oil for spraying

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 430 ° F
  2. Combine the grated Japanese yams, green papaya, and cauliflower, and all the other ingredients and knead to a moist dough that can be shaped into balls. (Since grated veggies have enough water, I don't usually add water unless the dough gets too stiff)
  3. Spray a roasting pan with oil, arrange the balls, spray oil on top as well and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes till outsides are crispy and insides are moist and well done, not too raw and doughy
  4. Serve with dips and chutneys. Or, throw it in simmering pot of curry and serve immediately.

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sweet Potato and Coconut Flour Flax Meal Roti Flatbreads

sweet potato roti coconut flour

Considering the amazing properties of sweet potato, it is hard not to incorporate it more in our diets.

While roast sweet potatoes in dessert-ish form is relished by kids, I wanted to leverage its natural sweetness to make everyday foods a bit more colorful and appealing.

Coconut flour is another ingredient that adds a bit of sweetness and flavor to everyday items.

Since fusion cuisine is my forte, my signature of sorts, this dish came about quite naturally one day.

Sweet potatoes, coconut flour, chickpea flour, and all purpose flour come together with chipotle in adobo sauce, and fenugreek leaves to make this incredibly orange and incredibly tasty rotis -- flatbreads cooked on the griddle pan. I'd have preferred to use whole wheat instead of all purpose flour, but I was all out, so, maybe next time...

1 average sweet potato, cooked and peeled
⅓ cup coconut flour
⅓ cup chickpea flour (aka besan)
1⅓ cup all purpose flour (more or less)
2 Tablespoon flax meal
salt to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 Tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
2 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped finely

a few tablespoons of oil for griddle-cooking the rotis

  1. Since sweet potato is cooked to mush, not much water is needed at first. Simply combine all the ingredients and knead to a smooth elastic dough, adding the all purpose flour a little at a time as needed. 
  2. Divide the dough into golf-ball-sized balls; roll each ball flat to about 2 millimeters thick rotis
  3. Heat a griddle much like for pancake, and cook the rotis till done 
  4. Serve with any of the curries or chutneys. here I serve it with my favorite carrot salad.
Carrot Salad: Grate carrots, finely slice celery, finely chop green chilies, finely chop cilantro, combine it all with a splash of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt, serve fresh.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pea Tips with Papaya

Pea Tips with Papaya

It was too hard to resist a pack of pea tips at the Asian store. In the thick of winter here, with gloomy skies and pouring rain, it seemed like pea tips hold the promise of Spring.

Simply saute the pea tips in olive oil, with salt to taste. Stir in julienned green papaya, carrots, and celery. Optionally, add crushed garlic while sauteing. Maybe a few turns of the peppermill, if preferred.

Enjoy as-is or serve with warm brown rice or wild rice or just good ol' jasmine rice.

Christmas season has been very low key and relaxed, as always. Some banana breads and cookies got made. Staples like soups and stews and casseroles keep us well fed around this time of the year.

No new recipes came about in the last few weeks, hence not many posts, but plenty of innovative cooking happened thanks to minimal essentials in the pantry as juggling grocery shopping with good weather conditions proved a bit challenging.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lumaconi with Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Kale and Chard

Large snail shell lumaconi is wonderful to stuff with favorite filling and serve warm or at room temperature. Sometimes, leftovers become the filling. This time, some pesto with Greek yogurt and sauteed chopped spinach came together to make the filling. Served with roasted sweet potatoes and beets, this was a sumptuous meal one weeknight.

Now that it is cold and rainy, the last of the kale and chard from the garden were waiting to be used up. Am told they'll manage winter fine and keep yielding, but they seem quite sparse now.

Saute some kale, chard, garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt, then add a splash of lemon juice and set aside. Roast the sweet potatoes and beets. Meanwhile cook the lumaconi to preferred doneness, drain, coat lightly in favorite vinaigrette.

Simply toss the roasted beets, sweet potatoes, sauteed kale and chard, with lumaconi and serve warm.

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Sunday, November 08, 2015

Thukpa Tibetan Noodle Soup

Soups are perfect for rainy autumn evenings, be it hearty and chunky or clear and brothy with just a hint of vegetables and noodles.

Thukpa, ubiquitous in the northern Himalayan regions, is a version of noodle soup that is always popular as it is easy to make and easy to enjoy.

Some wheat noodles and veggies come together in broth/stock, with ginger, garlic, red onion, cilantro, spring onions, carrots, spinach, and optionally chicken, simmered gently, with a touch of garam masala powder for flavor and heat.

Of course, the authentic recipes call for making wheat flour noodles as little dumplings in the soup, but I went with packaged ready-made noodles from the store... One of these days, I might try my hand at the wheat flour fresh dumpling-style noodles for Thukpa.

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Thursday, November 05, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken with Vegetable Mash

Nothing extraordinary about this recipe, but I still wanted to share it here because it's one of my favorite ways to use up bits and pieces of veggies that are left over at the end of the week.

Half a zucchini, a small wedge of red cabbage, half a red onion, a bunch of celery bottoms, and half a bell pepper were waiting to be used. Simply chop them up, grind them into thick paste-like consistency, sauté to use as a starter for the curry.

Add this veggie-medley starter, some stock, cut chicken breasts, potatoes and carrots to the slow cooker and allow to simmer gently for 6 to 8 hours. Usually, I start this curry the previous night and serve it for dinner the following night.

Rub the chicken pieces with garam masala or curry powder before tossing into the slow cooker for an Indian style curry. Or rub it with achiote and adobo sauce with some cumin and oregano for a Mexican style dish. Adjust spices, herbs, seasoning to taste.

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Millet and Lentil Stuffed Golden Danish Squash

I picked up a few Golden Danish/Acorn and Amber cup and Golden Kuri squashes at the farm market, hoping to make hearty roasted veggies and soups. But, the Golden Danish was perfect for stuffing and baking.

The Stuffing: 
1 cup millet
½ cup lentils
2½ cups stock or water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste

  1. Cook millet and lentils in the rice cooker, adding salt/seasonings as preferred, plus some olive oil; fluff with fork when done and keep handy
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and saute favorite veggies - onions, red cabbage, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, grated carrots, adding favorite seasoning - I used lemon pepper seasoning plus some garlic powder and parsley
  3. Stir in the cooked, fluffed millet+lentils and adjust seasoning to taste

The Baked Golden Danish:
  1. Wash and clean the skin of the squash, cut it in half, scoop out the pulp and seeds; slice off a thin portion of the squash on its curved side so it will sit flat for baking
  2. Lightly brush with olive oil, sprinkle some salt, and bake in a 400 °F oven for about 30 minutes, cut side down; then flip the halves so the cut side is up, and add a dab of butter to each half and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes; turn oven off
  3. Remove from oven, stuff each half with the millet+lentil filling, top with Pepperjack or Cheddar cheese, return the stuffed halves to the oven and bake for a few more minutes till cheese melts - the residual heat in the oven is plenty for this, even if the oven is off
  4. When ready to serve, top with feta and chopped spring onions, serve with a wedge of lemon

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