Category Archives: Vegetarian

Easy Decadence with Masala Chawal

Life has been kind of busy recently….and of course crazy hours at work don’t help. Weekends聽would usually聽be聽the only thing keeping me sane..now, if only I didn’t have to work on the last few weekends 馃槮 Ok, enough cribbing!

Thankfully, today I actually managed to get home聽by 7.30 pm and I even managed to cook on a weekday…very, very unusual for me. 馃檪

Guess what the motivation was! Open Sesame 2 (started by Siri and Dhivya)!! 馃檪 I guess I am becoming a true blue blogger now..if I am tailoring meals around blog events, right? 馃檪

My ingredient was cloves and聽I thought and thought about what I should make with cloves all weekend. Unfortunately, nothing really appealed and I decided to rely on an old favorite that I always make whenever I am bored of basic rice and can’t stand hubby dearest’s microwave rice 馃檪 (which I think taste awful on Day 2)

So, here’s my recipe for easy decadence with Masala Chawal…my entry for Open Sesame 2.

MASALA CHAWAL

Ingredients:

  • 聽2 cups basmati rice, washed in several changes of water and soaked in enough water to cover it聽for 30 minutes. If you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, soak the rice聽in warm-hot water聽for 10 minutes.
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 6 cloves
  • 3聽black cardamoms (skip if you don’t have them)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup milk (optional)
  • A few strands saffron (optional)

聽Steps:

1. Heat the ghee in a saucepan on medium-high heat.

2. Add the spices聽and wait for the cumin seeds to pop (5-10 seconds, depending on how hot the ghee is).

3. Add the onions and stir fry until they turn translucent and begin to change color.

4. Add the drained rice and stir very lightly until the rice looks very, very white.

5. Add 2 2/3 cups of water. Let it come to a boil.

6. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the water dries out and the rice tastes cooked. If the water dries out while the rice grains are still hard, add a little more water. If there appears to be too much water and the rice tastes cooked, increase the heat to high and let the excess water evaporate.

7. Meanwhile, dissolve the saffron in the milk that has been heated in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add this to the rice when they are almost cooked. I put mine in a pretty S (standing for my name聽and because an S looks like 2 C’s for clove..ok, I made that one up.. I admit I am self-obsessed 馃檪 )..and actually hubby dearest put it in an S for me 馃檪 Thanks, hubby dearest!

8. Once the rice is cooked, turn off the stove and cover.

9. Let the rice rest covered for 10 minutes before serving (This is a trick my Mom taught me to ensure that your rice stands up on its head and looks pretty:-) )

Pav Bhaji…and my first entry to a (or two) blog event(s)!

Remember the time a few weeks back when I felt that I had never ever been as busy as I was then…Well, I was wrong and not just a little wrong, but way off. Not only have I been busier, I have been going completely crazy with everything going on around me! Hence, the ignorance of the blog for a little while.

Anyway, since I have been following blog events for a little while, I figured it was about time for me to take the leap and submit an entry too. Hence, here goes, my first entry to a blog event and why not make it double trouble by sending this to 2 events?

The idea of making Pav Bhaji originated a few weeks back, when I read this post on Mallika’s blog. Additionally, I saw the note on Monsoon Spice, about Street Food being the theme for this month’s Monthly Blog Patrol. Well, does it not seem like destiny conspiring to ensure that I make some Pav Bhaji? 馃檪

Of course, having grown up eating Pav Bhaji, it was not something new to me. It just wasn’t something I’d made in a while.聽 My usual recipe for Pav Bhaji was taken off the back of the Everest Pav Bhaji masala pack, just like my usual sambar recipe. However, I also remembered that the last time I made Pav Bhaji and bought Pav from the Indian store, it came with mold growing on the inside. Ugh! absolutely disgusting!聽Luckily, I also recalled seeing a recipe for making your own pav (and that too, a whole wheat version!) on Jugalbandi聽a while back.聽Thankfully, unlike my plans for making Asha’s Masala Potato bread, these plans actually materialized.

PAV BHAJI

The recipe I followed for the bhaji is Nupur’s recipe from One Hot Stove. It is an excellent recipe (and an excellent blog!) and was very tasty, although I made a few modifications for our taste buds. Here’s my version.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 medium potatoes (or 5 small, as I used) , peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1聽tbsp oil
  • 2聽green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • salt to taste
  • 1 big can聽tomato puree
  • 1/2聽small bag of frozen聽sweet peas
  • 2-3聽tbsp pav bhaji masala
  • 1 tbsp butter

Steps:
1.聽Boil the cauliflower and carrots with a little bit of water in a covered microwaveable bowl聽in the microwave. I cooked聽them聽separately and the cauliflower took about 15 minutes and the carrots took about 8 minutes to soften.聽

2. Also, boil the potatoes on the stove with enough water to cover, until they are soft.

3. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the ginger and garlic. Saute for a couple of seconds and then add the bell pepper.

4. Once this softens a bit, add the pav bhaji masala, salt, tomato puree, peas and the cooked vegetables.

5. Now, bring in the strong men or call the hubby dearest to start mashing and mixing with a potato masher.

6. Once mashed, simmer for about 10 minutes and serve with a pat of butter, finely chopped red onions, chopped cilantro and lemon wedges.

Some of the main differences between Nupur’s version and mine are that I added about 2-3 tbsp of the Pav Bhaji masala powder, rather than 1 tbsp. This might just be because my spices are older and not as fresh (although I do freeze them, but just don’t use them as much). Also, I had half a small bag聽 of baby carrots lying around, which I put into the bhaji, giving it a slightly sweeter taste. Finally, I also cooked the cauliflower and carrots in the microwave.

This is my entry for Monthly Blog Patrol – Street Food聽hosted by Sia of Monsoon Spice.
Photobucket

聽As for the double trouble I mentioned earlier, this is also my entry for the new event, Eat Healthy – Fiber Rich started by Sangeeth. After all, anything with that many veggies in it has to have a lot of fiber. 馃檪

Additionally, I made my own fresh Pav from scratch, using this recipe from Jugalbandi, which I sliced in half and sauteed in butter before serving with the Bhaji. Surprise, surprise..I really did follow this recipe to the tee! 馃檪 And I’m glad I did, because it was absolutely delicious.

Here are some聽pictures of the final product.

Entertaining and Vegetable Bolognese

As has been usual in the past few weekends, we experimented with our new grill this weekend. Our neighbors must really think us crazy when they see us grilling as soon as the spring showers pause for a few minutes. Just to assure them, its probably just because we paid so much for a grill and because its a new thing for us and we should calm down in a few months, if not weeks 馃檪 .

Anyway, we had a few friends over yesterday and experimented with grilling pork loin. One thing I definitely learnt was there is a BIG difference between pork loin and pork tenderloin. Big, not only in terms of size, but also in terms of cooking.

Just in case, to avoid embarassment due to our experiment failing, I made a quick pasta recipe before we began grilling, adapted from one I had seen on Giada’s show Everyday Italian at the gym last week (Yeah, yeah, I know it defeats the purpose to watch Food Network in the gym, but I love it :-)). I have always wanted to聽try Bolognese sauce in my pasta, ever since my trip to Italy when I was 15, but could never try it because I do not eat beef. Hence, this version聽really appealed to me.

Here’s a link to the original.

聽Here’s my version.

Penne Rigate with Vegetable Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/4 cup of hot water
  • 1/2 a small bag of baby carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz assorted mushrooms (I used shiitake, bella and oyster), stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 small container (8 oz) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 lb whole wheat penne rigate
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley,聽chopped

Steps:

1. Heat the 1 1/4 cups of water in the microwave. Put the dried porcini mushrooms in it and let them reconstitute for a few minutes.

2. Start boiling the pasta water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.

3. In the meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the carrots, bell peppers, onions and garlic and saute them for a few minutes over medium high heat.

4. When the onions change color, add thyme, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cookuntil the聽vegetables are聽tender.

5. Drain the porcini mushrooms, but reserve the water they were soaked in.

6. Add the porcini and other types of mushrooms into the pan with the veggies.

7. Add the tomato paste and stir it to mix it in.

8. Add the mushroom water and the red wine and stir.

9. Let the liquids come to a boil and then let them simmer until the liquids have reduced by half.

10. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix it in.

11. Add the pasta and about a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta liquid.

12. Mix it all and then聽top with parmesan and fresh parsley.

A quick recipe

Last聽weekend, I was planning to make some Gogji Razma聽from Jugalbandi, but we finished with all the patio furniture shopping pretty late, and I also saw the black eyed peas (lobia), that I had bought a few weeks back on a whim, lurking in my pantry.

Hence, I abandoned plans to try an exotic recipe and went with something that seemed easy and extremely quick. I looked in the Madhur Jaffrey book that I own, An invitation to Indian cooking, and found this recipe.

Of course, I didn’t read it in as much detail as would have been聽necessary to deter me from trying it, namely the extensive simmering required. Hence, when I got to that portion, I used all the quick cooking techniques that I have learned over the past few months of reading Mallika’s blog聽and made this dish super fast. Thanks, Mallika!

Here’s my version.

Black Eyed Peas with Tamarind

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • A pinch of asafetida
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 2 cans of black eyed peas, drained
  • 1 smallest size can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

聽Steps:

  1. Heat the oil in saucepan.
  2. Add the asafetida and the cumin seeds. Wait for it to sizzle.
  3. Add the onions and fry them till they are golden.
  4. Add the turmeric, coriander and red chilli powder and stir to mix and cook.
  5. Add the drained black eyed peas and the tomato sauce.
  6. Mix and cook everything till it comes to a boil.

聽聽聽 7. Add the tamarind paste and stir to mix.

聽聽聽 8. Cook on high for 5 minutes or until some of the sauce evaporates.

聽聽聽聽9. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

This was pretty good on Day 1, but was even better on Day 2, as the sauce thickened overnight in the refrigerator. Best of all, it was super easy and fast.聽

Now it’s blister time

So, we did go camping this weekend which was great fun and we had a blast, although sleeping in a tent would probably have been more fun if we had an airbed..the hard ground made me compare myself to the Princess and the Pea. 馃檪 and the excessive hiking I did because I was the “Josh machine” on day one led to bad and huge blisters. Oh well, at least I learned that fashion needs to take a back seat when hiking and skechers are not a substitute for sneakers. 馃檪

We got back on Sunday afternoon and of course I needed to cook for the week as well as dinner. I decided to make a quick garden fresh pasta with whatever I had on hand.

This is a recipe I often make when I have little time or creativity at hand and have no motivation to look up a new recipe to try. I also usually have all I need at hand, or if not, know clever substitutions. Eitherways, this is more a method than a recipe and can be adapted to whatever ingredients you have at hand.

Here it is鈥y first recipe with pictures! 馃檪

GARDEN FRESH PASTA

(Serves 6 or food for a week!!)

Ingredients:

1 box of penne rigate or any short pasta of your choice. I used Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat聽 Penne Rigate to up the health factor. I also like Penne rigate because I feel it holds up to sauce better than regular penne

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced

1 onion (any type) chopped fine

3 bell peppers (of different colors, if you like to up the pretty factor) (sliced)

1 head of broccoli, broken into florets

2 packs of sliced mushrooms (I used regular white and bella mushrooms)

Italian seasoning (1 tsp)

Salt (to taste)

Pepper (1 tsp freshly ground)

Red pepper flakes (1 tsp)

1 jar of any red pasta sauce you like. I used Classico Spicy Red Pepper pasta sauce

4 sundried tomatoes (soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and then chopped) (optional)

4 tomatoes (chopped) (optional)

Dried basil (optional)

Dried thyme (optional)

Garlic salt (optional)

Steps:

1.Boil water for the pasta following directions on the pack. Cover the pot to enable faster boiling (a trick I learnt from Rachael Ray! 馃檪).

2.Meanwhile start working on the sauce by saut茅ing the garlic and onions in the oil in a separate pan.

3.After a minute or two, add the bell peppers and mix in.

4.Once the onions change color, add the broccoli and the mushrooms and mix everything.

5.Add the sundried tomatoes and regular tomatoes, if using.

6.Then add the seasonings and stir to mix.

7.Next, add the pasta sauce and the water used to soak the sundried tomatoes (if applicable)

8.Mix everything, wait for the sauce to come up to a boil and don鈥檛 forget to cook the pasta in the boiling water in the other pot following the directions on the pack.

聽聽聽聽

9.聽Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir to mix and serve.

10.You could garnish with chopped fresh parley, if you have some, and parmesan cheese.

11.I served this with roasted green beans, oven 鈥渇ried鈥 baby potato wedges and roasted carrots.

Furniture shopping and more

The wonderful weather this weekend led us to go looking for patio furniture鈥ne more time. Believe me, we have looked for furniture in so many places, it really isn鈥檛 funny anymore. Whether it is a couch for the living room or patio furniture, whether it be Raymour and Flanigan, Ashley or Jack鈥檚 Famous furniture :-), its been there done that for us. We have gone to each place more than once and no furniture store has been able to pass the 鈥渟leep on it鈥 test yet. This test was invented by us to curb impulsive buying of expensive furniture, but has in fact led to NO buying of any furniture for us.

Any ideas on how to know the couch you saw is the perfect one for your house?

Hence, to drown my sorrows over not having bought any furniture again, I decided to make some chaat. As earlier documented, my love for North Indian chaat is very deeply ingrained in me. This weekend, rather than making my favorite chaat (dahi papdi chat), I decided to make my Mom鈥檚 favorite chaat, which was often even made for breakfast in our home when I was younger, matar ki chaat.

The matar or peas used in this dish don鈥檛 look much like the fresh green peas we often see in grocery stores. Yes, they are round, but they are definitely not green. Although you can get a green version too, I have only seen this chaat being made with the whitish yellow version. My Indian store called them White vatana, (and yours might too). I just got it on a whim, even though I wasn鈥檛 entirely certain they were the same as the matar I was looking for. Good guess on my part!

I did use a few sources on the internet, before I mixed all of them to make my own version. Luckily, it turned out exactly the way I remember it from home.

Here鈥檚 the recipe.

Matar Ki Chaat

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry yellow peas (known as white vatana, sookhi matar, etc.)
  • 3 green chillies (Thai or the tiny Indian store variety J) minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced or 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp chaat masala (easily available in Indian stores)
  • 1 tsp roasted jeera (cumin) powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 陆 tsp red chilli powder
  • 陆 tsp black salt/ rock salt (kala namak)
  • Salt to taste
  • 陆 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp amchoor or dry mango powder (Use extra lemon juice if not using amchoor)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped fine
  • 4 tbsp coriander/ cilantro chopped fine
  • 1 additional lemon, cut into wedges to serve
  • Tamarind-Date chutney (to serve)
  • Coriander chutney (to serve)

I used bottles bought from the Indian store for the last two items.

Steps:

1. Most recipes recommend soaking the peas overnight or atleast for 2 to 3 hours. But who has that kind of time and I wanted my chaat right then. So, I washed the peas and then soaked them in sufficient water which I then heated in my microwave for 2 minutes. One good stir and then I let the peas soak for about half an hour. Then I heated the water once more for about a minute.

2. Next, the peas went into the pressure cooker with about 4 cups of water. It鈥檚 essential to not use too much water as all of this water needs to be finally absorbed by the peas. After 6 whistles (Yes, the peas need to be very soft, almost mashed), I switched off the stove and let the cooker cool.

3. Once I could open the cooker, I put the pan onto the stove on medium heat and mixed in the ginger, chillies and all the dry masalas. The only thing to remember here is that my Mom always says the garam masala and the amchoor should not be added too early, but at the end of the cooking process in any dish.

4. Then I raised the heat in order to evaporate all extra water, while continuing to stir. Of course, this also helped to soften the peas which I would not have had to do if I had soaked them longer.

5. Finally I squeezed a lemon over it and garnished with the red onion and the cilantro.

My adorable matar ki chaat was ready to enjoy with tamarind and coriander chutneys with lemon wedges on the side. We ate it by itself as a snack, as well as with Gujarati Kadhi (another of my favorites) and steamed rice for dinner.

Let’s start at the very beginning…a very good place to start :-)

Welcome to my kitchen kapers!

Ever since I first read Elise Bauer鈥檚 Simply Recipes, and linked to various Indian food blogs through her blog roll, I have been hooked on reading food blogs.

Like many Indians who move to the US, I started cooking when I came here to study. Unlike many, though I had never done anything beyond toasting bread (with disastrous results, I may add J) before my adventures in the US.

My mother did try to teach me, believe me. I just would not learnJ.

I think one of the main challenges I faced was that my mother expected me to remember (Oh Mom!! Where鈥檚 the room when my brain is filled with assorted other things) the spices that should go into each dish as well as the steps required, when there was no way in this planet that I would. Even today, I cook while referring to a book, my computer or assorted notes. No need for a memory when you can buy a RAM J

Not having the necessary patience, my Mom gave up and finally just gave me a few recipes (right before I left for the US) that I quickly handwrote in a little note book that I still have and refer to while cooking those dishes.

I thought I would inaugurate my blog with one such recipe that I still have in that tattered notebook, although I have modified it a bit to make it more convenient and relevant to the US.

Chole/ Chane (UP Style)

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 1 can chickpeas/ garbanzo beans (You could buy them dry, soak them for 8 hours and pressure cook them with enough water to cover and some salt, as my Mom does in India鈥ut that is way too much work for me)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 1 medium sized red onion (finely chopped)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 1 tbsp ginger paste (or 1 inch grated ginger)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 1 small (the tiniest can) tomato sauce (can substitute tomato paste, can of diced tomatoes or 1 real tomato chopped fine)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 3 tsp of chopped cilantro (for garnish)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil (any oil with minimal taste)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 陆 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 2 tsp chole masala (available in any Indian grocery store or in the Asian section of regular grocery stores)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 陆 tsp chilli powder

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 陆 tsp dried mango powder (amchur) (can be substituted with the juice of 1 lemon)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 1 tsp garam masala (available in any Indian grocery store or in the Asian section of regular grocery stores. Some people make their own if they have a spice grinder)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Salt to taste

Steps:

1.聽聽聽聽聽 Heat the oil in a sauce pan for a minute or two.

2.聽聽聽聽聽 Add the onion and the ginger. Stir fry till the mixture turns golden brown.

3.聽聽聽聽聽 Add the cumin, chole masala and chili powder. Stir to cook the spices for about a minute.

4.聽聽聽聽聽 Next, drain the chickpeas and add them to the pan.

5.聽聽聽聽聽 Finally, add the tomatoes, salt and about 1.5 cups of water.

6.聽聽聽聽聽 Cook on medium to high heat until it boils. Then reduce heat to medium, cover and let it cook for 5 minutes.

7.聽聽聽聽聽 Finally, add the dried mango powder (amchur) and garam masala and mix it in, before switching off the stove.

8.聽聽聽聽聽 Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with rotis, rice, nan or any bread.