July 21, 2010

Stuffed Bitter gourd /Karela

My mom makes these often , so i have had them for my whole life... but there is something to this recipe that never let the flavors out of fashion. Gourds for some do not ring appetising but i'll say try this family favorite  and maybe you discover your refined palate finally :)

July 19, 2010

Tamarind chutney

The soul of Indian chaat is how i'll describe this chutney. Mostly used as a dash of garnish, the tang in the tamarind brings together the flavors unlike any other. And the innate versatility of the same lends to it's wide usage.   

100gms Tamarind 
11/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp  black salt/ kala namak
1/2 tsp red chilli pwder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger powder
 salt and granulated sugar to taste

Soak the tamarind in some water and microwave for 2-3 mins. Let it cool and strain the pulp out.

To the pulp add rest of the spices and bring to one boil.Add some water to loosen consistency.

Use it to garnish over samosa chaat , dahi bhalle/ bade and the likes..i  lately tried some over nachos too.

July 17, 2010

Pineapple fried rice

A sweet and savory ten minute fix.

¾ cup rice, cooked (texture : light and fluffed)
scallions / green onions - 3
red bell pepper small, 1
garlic 3-4 cloves, grated
1/4 tsp grated Ginger 
10 oz pineapple chunks (grilled or otherwise)
1/4 tsp chopped jalapeno

2 tsp canola oil
½ tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Scallions to garnish. 

Put oil, add grated garlic and ginger, sautee . Further add scallions. Stir till translucent , Add pineapple pieces and red bell peppers .sautee for a minute.

Add spices and saute some more. Add cooked rice and lightly mix .Server with garniosh of scallions.

You'll be blown away with the surprising flavors.

July 14, 2010

Spinach with cottage cheese ~ Palak paneer

A favorite North Indian main course eaten with naan or roti. .

Recently i had my cousin cook this for us. The extra love to his recipe was the use of nutmeg powder and here's my take on the dish very much inspired by him.

Serves- 8

2 Fresh bunches of spinach, cleaned blanched and grounded
2 big red onions, halfed and then cut in thirds
6-9 cloves  of garlic, sliced thin
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 green chillies , slit and quartered
2-3  roma tomatoes, cubed
1 tsp tomato ketchup
Paneer/ cottage cheese, cubed and sauteed
1/2 a lemon. deseeded

For the masala/ gravy :
1/2 tsp ghee / clarified butter
2 tsp canola oil
11/2 tsp nutmeg powder
half a stick of cinnamon
1-2 green cardamoms
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin powder
3/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander powder
salt to taste
4-5 tsp half and half cream

Take a small pan with the ghee and heat. Add whole cumin seeds,cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon stick , cardamoms. Let the cumin splutter, remove from heat. Take a deep bigger pan now and add onions, garlic , ginger and  chillies - saute on high heat till brown and caramelized.Mix nutmeg powder. Add the small pan whole masala to the bigger pan.Now to the bigger pan add the cubed tomatoes , mix and simmer. After 5-10 mins , add ketchup. Now add rest of the spices. Mix and cook for 10-12 minutes till a film of oil surfaces adding a sprinkle of water in between if needed.

Mix cooked grounded spinach and sauteed cottage cheese pieces. Add half and half cream and mix. Cook till  a boil and remove from heat. Add lemon juice.

And vala, the dish is done.

Fragrant and worth the effort. Yum.

Tip : To keep spinach or any other vegetable green -- make sure as the chlorophyll cooks , the carbon dioxide filled steam so created either escapes the pot by keeping the lid open or u blanch  in loads of salted water ( 1oz of salt per 4 cups of water) as the salt creates a wall around the spinach and thus stops the carbon dioxide from interacting with the vegetable.

July 13, 2010

Stewed apples with light cream

Farewells are never sweet. This dessert warms sweetens and soothes your palate after a heavy main course. So simple yet so sophisticated.

2 granny smith apples,thinly sliced (or any tart and sweet apple)
1 tsp low fat butter
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
11/2 tsp cinnamon powder
4 tsp brown sugar (depends on how tart the apples are)

silvered almonds
3 tsp half and half or light cream

Take a nonstick pan, add butter. Once the butter melts, add the spices and sugar. Stir for a minute. Add the  freshly sliced apples and stir again to coat. Cover and let them simmer for 10-15 mins(thinly sliced apples cook faster). Sprinkle drops of water instaed of additional butter, if it gets sticky.

Serve hot with a garnish of almonds and chilled half and half in individual bowls. Awesome !!

July 12, 2010

Strawberry Daiquiris

You get transported to the caribbeans with the citricy goodness of this drink.  All our friends love it and ask for more every time i make them. A hit for those laid back hot summer evenings or some grilling parties galore.

1 pack of strawberries, cleaned and halfed
half a handful of mint leaves
zest of an orange
juice of a lemon
5tsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup clear vodka 
3 cups of ice cubes

Mix all in a blender  and serve chilled with a garnish of mint leaves or lemon wedges.
Tip: Orange juice is a good substitute for vodka, especially when catering to kids.

Stuffed Mushrooms

The experimental cooking this weekend yielded some sumptuous  recipes. This bite size wonder will be my favorite for a long time to come.

Celebrity on the table:
16 oz button mushrooms,  stems removed

For the stuffing:
2 tsp canola oil
1carrot, shredded
1/4 of a big chopped onion
1/2 jalapeno, de-seeded and chopped
mushroom stems, chopped
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp herbs de provence or oregano
Salt to taste

shredded parmesan cheese
coriander/ cilantro
lemon juice

Take a non stick pan with some oil, saute the mushroom caps and stems till brown on high heat separately- in batches. Be careful not to tamper the shape of the caps when sauteeing. I add this step to remove the raw musky smell of mushrooms. Once done, take them out and cool.

In the same pan, add a tsp of oil-- sautee onions, jalapenos , carrots and chopped sauteed stems on high heat. Add chilli powder, herbs and salt to taste. The mixture browns and comes together. Remove from heat and let it cool.

Take the cooled caps and stuff them with the now cooled mixture, top with some parmesan cheese. Preheat oven at 350 and set your timer to 5 mins. Place the stuffed mushrooms and turn to broil after 5 mins for another minute or two.

Serve hot with a garnish of cilantro and lemon juice. Truly appetising!!

Tip: Never add salt when when sauteeing on high or the mushrooms will sweat and go soggy.

July 09, 2010

Lentil pilaf

Every morning i juggle in my mind on what to cook for lunch,  fortunately today my fridge was empty but again we wanted to grab more than just a sandwich or some noodles in a box -- the lentil pilaf came as  a healthy, flavorful and a quick-to-cook alternative.

This one's a favorite of my husband's, so much so that its even been renamed after him in our house !!

Servings- 4

Cooking with:

1/4 cup pigeon pea /toor dal
3/4 cup basmati rice
1/4 big sliced onion or  half a small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds (optional)
1 whole dry red chilli
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
 salt to taste

Garnish with:
Coriander/ cilantro leaves
Lemon juice

You can cook the pilaf in either a pressure cooker or a rice cooker. I used the former.

Heat oil in the cooker , add sliced onions and grated garlic, Sauté. When onions are lightly browned , add the rest of the spices ,stir. Sprinkle drops of water before the spices burn.  Cook for a minute and add the washed rice and pigeon peas, add water , mix and close the cooker. Takes a whistle or two and its done.

Serve with a garnish of cilantro leaves and lemon . We usually eat it with a side of raita and papadum.

Tip: You can add some clarified butter over the hot pilaf for added flavour.

July 06, 2010

Spicy Buttermilk ~ Chaach

It is 96 degrees in dallas today.  I had  this sudden urge to fly open the refrigerator and gulp down some boxed juice (read liquid sugar) an hour back when incidentally i remembered the good old buttermilk my dad used to make each day every summer at lunch for us, back in India. Here the recipe to that thirst quenching, cool and refreshing drink we savored every time

Serves : 4

 Stealing the show:
16 oz Plain Non- fat yogurt / Curd

Ingredients for tadka / flavoring :
1/2 tsp Canola oil
11/2 tsp Crushed dry mint
2 tsp Roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp Whole cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Red chilli powder
1 Whole dried red chilli
2 Pinches asofetida
Salt to taste

Fresh mint leaves

Take a deep vessel , pour the yogurt and add double the amount of water. Mix with the help of a hand mixer so that the two liquids become one completely. This makes plain buttermilk. Now add crushed mint, ground cumin powder and salt, stir.
Take a small pan , add oil - once heated add cumin seeds, whole red chilli, asofetida- let them splutter. Add red chilli powder -mix and sprinkle drops of water . Turn off the heat , pour the tadka / flavoring in the buttermilk , mix and cool in the refrigerator for 1-2 hrs
Serve with a garnish of fresh mint leaves and ice cubes.

Beat the heat, feel quenched!! 

July 01, 2010

No Sauce- No Cheese Pasta

Do you have evenings when your stomach grouches to eat something exotic, a meaty mouthful, umm with a bite ??and midst a mouth running wild with flavors-- do have stark realizations simultaneously, that u ran miles in the mornings or just came off your yoga class....and don't really want to load up "the" calories u just lost ??   Then, hey!!   this recipe is just for you-- a quick, easy and a delicious fix.

Serves: 2 
Star power:
Garlic and Olive oil

3 handfuls of bow-tie and shell pasta, boiled and strained
3-4 tsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
1 red bell pepper, cut in squares
11/4 cup of sliced button mushrooms
1 red onion,cut in bite size squares
Salt to taste

Red pepper flakes

To begin, heat the oil at medium in a big flat pan. Add sliced garlic and sauté. Once slightly golden , add mushrooms and bring the stove to its highest heat. Stir and let the mushrooms brown .. oh your kitchen will be infused with the sweet smell of grilled mushrooms and garlic, yum!!   Now add the diced onions and saute ( the stove is on high throughout). See how the onions go from being translucent to brown .. cook them a bit beyond their comfort zone, exactly like the extra push or a mile u just did.. and as u see some of the onions caramelizing , add the red bell peppers. Saute for another minute or two. Switch off the stove , add the boiled and strained pasta.. add salt to your taste when the veges and the pasta are still hot . Mix. Awwh the smoky aromas are out of the world !!

Plate in a serving dish and sprinkle a handful of capers if you like a salty bite. And vala a sumptuous dinner is ready.  Couple it with half a glass of wine and u transported to tuscany :)
This perfect marriage of juicy bright peppers, smoked meaty mushrooms and sweet caramelized onions-- all enveloped in garlic oil  , quenches your heart and satisfies every body cell you worked with when exercising... you'll see a happy glistened look on your face

So here's to some guilt-free dining!! Cheers 

Tip: You can maneuver your mind into thinking u ate more carbs even when you add more vegetables and less pasta to this dinner. Yup, this mind game works !!
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