Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Filled with Goodness : Kohlrabi

(Recipe courtesy Myriad Tastes)

Kohlrabi is also called Knol Khol / Ganth Gobhi. I had not tried this vegetable before but K loves it and so I had to learn how to cook this vegetable. While surfing the net for recipes, I found a simple yet packed with flavor recipe and decided to try it out. Even I was pleasantly surprised how good this vegetable turned out to be.

During my research on the health benefits, I learnt that Kohlrabi is an excellent source of Pottasium, Vitamin C and Fiber. It is also very "waist-friendly". Good to taste and figure friendly - what more could a girl ask for :)

3 Kohlrabi, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 tsp coriander powder
A pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp urad dal
6-7 curry leaves
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup water
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and when the seeds begin to pop add the urad dal, curry leaves and cumin leaves. Cook for a minute and then add the kohlrabi, coriander powder, green chilli, hing, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well and add 1 cup water. Let cook on medium heat till kohlrabi is done. Add lemon juice and grated coconut. Mix well and serve hot with Roti. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Comfort Food - Moong Dal Bharta

This is a typics dish from Bihar. Simple, with a few ingredients, but what flavor. We used yo have this Bharta (Chokha, we call it at home), especially during summer when vegetables would be scarce. It is a very rutic but filling dish. Rice, Dal and Moong Dal Bharta .... Mmmm Mmmm good.
1 cup whole Moong Dal
1 small onion, chopped
2 dry red chilli ( I used 2 green chillies)
Salt to taste
1 tsp mustard oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Dry roast the Moong Dal. Remove from heat and let cool. In a pressure cooker cook the dal with 1 1/2 cup of water for 2 whistles. Remove from heat and let cool.

Dry roast the dry red chillies. Keep aside. In a bowl, mash the boiled Moong dal coarsely. Add the chopped onions, salt, lemon juice, mustard oil and the chillies. Mix well. You can have this with Rice and Dal or with Roti and a bpwl of yogurt. I use the extra bharta to make a stuffing for Dal Parathas.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Spring is in the air ...

Here in California we pretty much take the weather for granted. Sunny, warm days give away to pleasant cool evenings. Idea of winter is wearing a light jacket :) The last couple of weeks has seen us bundled up in heavy jackets, gloves, skull caps and the like trying to keep warm. I am so looking forward to some nice warm weather now :)
When I was in NY, we knew Spring was 'round the corner when we saw the beautiful cherry blossoms begin to bloom. A couple of days ago K and I were in Kelley Park - a beautiful Japanese style park in San Jose and we saw these beautiful flowers beginning to bloom. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Maa Tujhe Salaam : Republic Day

Like August 15, January 26th is a special day for us Indians. It was on this day that the Constitution of India, drafted by the Constituent Assembly came into existence.
My Baba (Grandfather) fought the battle for India's Independence and as kids many a afternoon and evenings were spent listening to him describe an India that we never knew and the battles that helped us as a nation reach that day when we became an independent country.
Pooja hosted a wonderful theme for this week, celebrating India's Republic Day. I had made a note of all the dishes I would prepare keeping in mind the Indian Tri-color. Alas, the week has almost gone by and caught up with work I didn't really get a chance to cook any meals reflecting this theme.
It was then that I decided to change my Blog template. Now it does reflect the colors of our flag. :) I also looked to Mother Nature for inspiration, and found these beautiful pictures. Nature too celebrates this day with us :)

Pictures courtesy the Net

Monday, January 22, 2007

Spinach-Split Pea Dal- Palak Chana Dal

Dinner : Naan, Baked Potato, Spinach-Split Pea Dal

I had seen this recipe on Indira's blog and since then had been wanting to try it out. Dal Palak (Spinach Dal) was a staple in my house during the winter days, but we used Moong Dal instead of Chana Dal. I definitely wanted to try this recipe with the Split Pea. I decided then that I was going to make this dish. A quick trip to the Grocery store and I was good to go. Thanks Indira for this wonderful recipe.

1 cup mixed green and yellow split pea (You get this packet at Trader Joe's)
1 small packet baby spinach
1 medium sized onion, sliced fine
4 fat cloves of garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, chopped
1" ginger, finely grated
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
4 cups water
Salt to taste

Wash the split pea and soak in warm water for about 15 minutes.
Heat oil in a pan, add the garlic and cook for a couple of seconds. Now add the sliced onion and cook till it turns pink. Add the grated ginger and cook till onion begins to turn a light brown. Now add the chopped tomatoes, and cook till the tomatoes become mushy and soft.
Add the spinach and cook till it wilts. Add the washed lentils, 4 cups of water, salt, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder. Bring to boil, cover the pan, lower heat and let simmer till the lentil is cooked. Serve hot on a bed of rice / Roti / Paratha or just by itself and enjoy.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Papaya Paratha

The first time I recall having Papaya was when Ma had made Papaya Kheer. From then I was hooked. K had never eaten raw papaya and that was enough reason for me to introduce him to this awesome vegetable. I was lucky I found some at the nearby grocery store.

The papaya fruit is a rich source of antioxidants and an enzyme that aids in digestion. Doctors also say that eating papaya helps in the prevention of diabetic heart disease and the oxidation of cholestrol. They are also a excellent source of Vitamin A, B, C. Eough reason to adopt this fruit / vegetable in your daily diet wouldn't you say ??

1 medium raw papaya ( available at your local grocery store)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2" ginger, grated fine
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
6 handfuls of whole wheat flour, plus extra 1 fistful.
Salt to taste

Wash and peel the Papaya. Cut into two and remove the seeds. Grate the papaya, add some salt and keep aside for 20 minutes.
In the meantime knead the 6 handful of wheat flour with warm water and 1/4 tsp salt. Don't make a very soft dough. After you knead the dough, cover and keep aside.

Squeeze all the water from the grated papaya. Add the rest of the ingredients : salt, cumin, coriander, chilli, amchoor, turmeric, ginger - and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.

Make 6 equal sized balls from the dough. Take one ball, dust it with some dry flour and using the rolling pin roll it out the size of a teacup plate. take about 2 tbsp of the filling and place it in the centre of the dough. Roll the sides of the dough so that filling is covered and the dough is now the shape of a ball. Dust some flour on it and using the rolling pin, gently flatten it. Roll out the rest of the dough in a similar manner and keep aside.

Heat a flat bottomed pan. Place the stuffed flattened dough on the pan. When the side turns light brown, flip and cook the other side till it is brown. Spray a little cooking spray on both sides, cook each side for a minute.

Serve the Paratha hot with Raita of your choice and enjoy !

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Healthy Plate : Pulao with Greens

On my last trip to Trader Joe's, I had found a packet called "Greens with Envy". The packet was a mix of healthy greens like Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus spears and shelled Edamame. I used it to make a wholesome Pulao for dinner.

1 cup Basmati Rice, washed and soaked in cold water
1/2 packet of the mixed greens
2 cloves
2 green cardamoms
1" stick cinnamon, broken into two
1 medium sized onion, finely sliced
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
3/4 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and when they begin to sizzle, add the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Cook for half a minute and then add the sliced onions. Cook till the onions turn pink. Now add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder, lower heat and cook for a minute stirring constantly. Add the salt and the mixed green. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Drain water from the rice and add to the pan. Increase heat to medium and cook for a minute. Add 2 cups water, cover the pan and cook till the rice is done. Do not stir the rice while cooking or the rice will break making the dish mushy. Serve hot with plain yogurt or Raita. Enjoy !

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tamatar Rajma : Kidney Beans in Tomato Gravy

This is K's version of Rajma. He loves Kidney beans and last night he hustled up a great dinner consisting of Matar Pulao (Peas Pulao), Rajma and Potato fry. What I liked about this dish was the creamy taste and texture without the use of cream / milk / almond paste / cashew paste. This is my entry for Pooja's Vegetable of the Week : Tomato

2 cans kidney beans
2 medium onions
2 tomatoes, chopped fine
4-5 cloves garlic
1" ginger
2 whole dry Kashmiri chilli / red chilli
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
Chopped coriander leaves to garnish
Salt to taste

Grind the onion, garlic cloves and ginger to a paste. heat oil in a pan and add this paste. Cook till it turns light brown. Now add the chopped tomatoes, whole chillies, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala and salt. Cook till oil separates and the tomato is well cooked.
Drain and rinse the beans. Add to the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two. Add water and bring to boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with Rice.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Whole Wheat Penne in Cauliflower Sauce

I have never come across the use of the cauliflower in Italian dishes except for Pasta Primavera or Minestrone, so when Rachel Ray of 30 Minute Meals said on her show that she was making Pasta in Cauliflower sauce, it held my interest. The recipe was easy with just a couple of ingredients and I wanted to try it for myself to see if it was as good as she had said it would be ... it was :)
This is a very healthy Pasta dish, made with whole wheat Penne, garlic, onion, rosemary and cauliflower. Try it out and I am very sure you will enjoy it as much as K and I did.

12 oz whole wheat Penne Rigate
1 medium cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 cup stock (I used a cup of the Pasta water)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (I didn't use any)
1/2 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Boil water in a large pot. Add salt and the penne and cook till done. Remove 2 ladleful of the pasta water (if also using stock or else remove 3 ladlefuls), drain the pasta and keep aside.

Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan and add the chopped garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes and add the chopped onion. Cook till the onion turns tranlucent. Add the cauliflower florets, stock / pasta water and rosemary. Cover and cook till the florets are cooked. Add salt and pepper and mash the cauliflower. Add the reserved pasta water and the Penne. Mix well. Now add the grated cheese and toss the pasta to combine. Serve hot and enjoy !

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Lau-Chingudi / Lauki-Jhinga : Shrimp with Opo Squash

Being a coastal state, seafood is an integral part of the daily diet in Orissa. Crabs, Shrimp, Rohu (Indian Carp), Sukhua (dried fish)... there is a great variety to choose from. One of Orissa's speciality is the Rohu fish cooked in mustard paste (I will post that recipe later). I call both Bihar and Orissa my home and given a choice, Fish is always my first preference.
Whenever we had guests (which was quite often), my Ma would cook Shrimp with some vegetables. That way everyone got a generous portion and a small quantity of shrimp went a long way. One of my favorite dishes is the Lauki-Jhinga or Lau-Chingudi as it is called in Oriya. This is my version.

1 medium sized Opa Squash, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
15-20 raw shrimp, cleaned and de-veined
1 medium onion, sliced fine
1 tomato, chopped fine
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
3/4 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp-ginger-garlic paste
Salt to taste

Mix half of the turmeric and 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder with salt. Add the cleaned and deveined shrimp and let marinate for about 15 minutes.
Heat oil in a pan, and fry the shrimp till light pink - a couple of minutes. Remove from pan and keep aside on a paper towel.
In the same pan, add onions and fry till translucent. Add the chopped tomato, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, cumin and coriander powder and cook till the tomato is cooked and oil separates. Add the Lauki/Opa squash, add half cup water and cook till the squash is almost done. Add the fried shrimp and cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Tagged - You are it !!

I am so excited - this is my very first MeMe. Thanks Seema for tagging me. Update : Thanks Pavani for tagging me for this Meme

3 things that scare me

  • Snakes
  • Injections (I drove my parents crazy everytime I had to take a shot)
  • Violence

3 people that make me laugh

  • My nieces' (aged 5 and 3) antics
  • K's jokes
  • My childhood buddies Kay and L

3 things I love

  • My husband :) (can this be counted as "thing")
  • Reading - I am a voracious reader
  • Travelling
  • Cooking

3 things I hate

  • Hypocrites, Liars, Cheaters - you get the drift
  • People who don't keep their word
  • People talking on their cell phones in places they shouldn't

3 things I don't Understand

  • Violence
  • The Balaji presentations on TV
  • People who hurt others

3 things on my desk

  • My Laptop
  • A cup of steaming Tea
  • A couple of books

3 things I am doing right now

  • Writing this MeMe
  • Wishing it was Saturday :)
  • Listening to the wind howling outside

3 things I want to do before I die

  • Visit Greece
  • Have a humongous library of books, CD's and DVD's
  • Publish a Travelogue

3 things I can do

  • Dance :)
  • Sit on the beach listening to the waves for hours and hours together
  • Get along with children of any age group

3 things one should listen to

  • Good advice
  • Your inner voice - it is rarely wrong
  • Music

3 things I never want to listen to

  • Noise that passes for music
  • People who crib about everything under the sun and moon
  • People doling advice when they haven't been asked

3 favorite foods (This is the most difficult one - so many to choose, so I'll group them in 3 categories)

  • Non Veg
    * The biryani my sister makes
    * Fish curry that my Ma makes
    * K's shrimp pulao
    * Mai's biryani that D makes
  • Veg
    * Dosas
    * The Okra dish that my Aunt makes
    * Kadhi (a dish make with chickpea flour and yogurt)
    Paneer with Bell Pepper that my younger sis makes
  • Others
    * Street food back home
    * Indian-Chinese food
    *Food at my friend J's place
    * Tiramisu

3 beverages that I drink regularly

  • Water
  • Tea
  • Coffee

3 TV shows I watched as a kid

  • Remington Steele
  • Mahabharat
  • Tom & Jerry

3 books I read as a kid

  • Books by Enid Blyton
  • Asterix and Obelix, TinTin comics
  • Amar Chitra Katha

3 friends I want to tag for this MeMe

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Roast Mahi-Mahi with Potatoes and Tomatoes : Hout Bi Batata Wa Tamatem

Among the many gifts that Santa Claus :) gave me this year, one was this wonderful cookbook "Arabesque" by Claudia Roden.
This cookbook gives a little history of the food of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. It was interesting to find so many spices and vegetables that are used in the Indian sub-continent. If you enjoy Mediterranean food and want to try some simple yet delightful dishes, I highly recommend this book.
Baked potatoes and tomatoes along with the succulent Mahi Mahi make it a hearty dish and the garlic and coriander add that extra zing. I made a couple of modifications to the recipe in terms of quantity, but have stayed true to all the ingredients mentioned. I have the pleasure of presenting to you "Roast Mahi-Mahi with Potatoes & Tomatoes".

2 Mahi Mahi fillets ( you can use Cod, Bream, Haddock, Turbot)
For the Marinade (Chermoula)
1/2 cup chopped coriander
2 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

4 medium sized potatoes
3 medium tomatoes
Olive oil to drizzle

Slash the skin of the fish, a couple of places across the thickest part. Sprinkle salt and keep aside. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and marinate the fish in half of the marinade for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven. Clean the potatoes. Peel the skin (optional) and cut into 1/4" discs. Clean the tomatoes and cut into 1/3" discs. Brush the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil and place the potato and tomato slices. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle salt. Mix well. Put the dish in the oven and cook on 475 F for 50 minutes or till the potatoes are tender. While cooking, turn them over once so that the potato slices are evenly cooked.
Take the dish out and place the fish fillets on top of the potato and tomato, skin side up. Bake for 10-12 minutes till the fish is cooked through. Just before serving, pour the remaining marinade over the fish. Enjoy !!

Our dinner : Pupusa with Mahi-Mahi

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Baingan Bhaja - Fried Eggplant

Eggplant or Baingan as we call it is a common vegetable across all cuisines in India. Baingan Bhaja is quite a common dish in Bengal and Orissa. My Dad loves this dish so it was made frequently in our house.

1 medium sized eggplant
1 tsp red chilli powder
3/4 tsp salt
Cooking spray
(Eggplant will soak up as much oil as you put in the pan. So I use cooking spray)

Wash and pat dry the eggplant. Cut into 1" thick discs. Fill a large bowl with cold water and soak the eggplant discs in it for about 15 minutes. (This will remove the bitter juices). Drain water and pat dry the pieces with a paper towel.
Mix the salt and red chilli powder in a small bowl. Heat a Tawa (Griddle)or a flat bottomed pan on medium heat. Spray some cooking spray. Take a little bit of the chilli-salt mixture and sprinkle on one side of the eggplant. Put that side face down on the pan. Cook till it browns. Spray a little cooking spray and sprinkle the salt-chilli mixture on the other side. Change sides and cook till the side is brown. Serve hot and enjoy !

Monday, January 01, 2007

Stuffed Tomato

I was excited when Pooja announced that the "Vegetable for the Week" was the Tomato. So many dishes came to mind that I had some difficulty trying to decide which to make. In the end, I settled upon this simple, yet delightful creation. This dish was among the first couple of recipes that I learnt from Ma when I began cooking.

2 firm Tomatoes (I used beefsteak tomatoes)
1 large potato, boiled and mashed
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp amchoor (dried Mango Powder)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
Olive oil to drizzle
1 tsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Cut the tomatoes about 1" from the top and reserve the cap. Remove the pulp of the tomato and keep aside in a bowl.
Add the potato to it and mix well. Now add all the ingredients except bread crumbs and olive oil and mix well.
Preheat the oven. Take a generous amount of the potato mixture and fill the tomato shells with it. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on it and then put the tomato cap. Drizzle some olive oil on the tomatoes and bake at 450 F for about 20 minutes. Serve hot as a side dish. Enjoy !