Monday, October 21, 2013

Baked Potato

Chives is a wonderful herb that reminds you of garlic greens. It is probably milder than garlic. I love to garnish my baked potatoes with minced fresh chives.
Baked Potato is a classic American dish. Use only Russet, Baking or Idaho potatoes to get the real taste. This recipe can also be made in the microwave. A colleague at work, sometimes used to get a raw russet potato in a brown paper bag and for lunch, she would microwave. But I advise to bake it in the oven as the potato skins are roasted nicely and taste divine. Americans love their baked potatoes topped with cheese (of course!), sour cream or even chili (as in kidney beans stew & not red pepper!). I love to garnish my baked potato with a generous sprinkle of salt, pepper and freshly chopped chives from my kitchen garden.
Baked Potato
3-4 baking potatoes, such as Idaho or Russet
1 tbsp. olive oil
Grated cheese
Sour Cream & green onions, chopped
Salt and black pepper
Minced Chives
Minced Green onion
1. Preheat oven 400F
2. Wash potatoes and pat them dry.
3. Prick some holes all over potato using a skewer or fork.
4. Rub olive oil all over the potatoes. Sprinkle some salt.
5. Wrap each potato in Aluminum foil.
6. Bake for 1 hour.
7. Take out and open the foil. Be careful as it will be very hot.
8. Top with garnish of your choice.
Note -
1. Each person can open their own foil wrapped parcel, cut it into halves with knife and use the garnish of their own choice.
Pretty Chives Bloom

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Grilled Paneer Sandwich

My mom's grilled cheese sandwich inspired me to make grilled Paneer sandwich.

Grilled Paneer Sandwich
Stuffing -
1 cup grated Paneer/Indian cottage cheese
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
2-3 green chilies, minced (per desired heat)
2 tbsp. finely minced cilantro
A generous pinch of chaat masala
salt to taste

6-8 bread slices
butter as needed

1. Mix all the ingredients for stuffing. Set aside.
2. Butter the bread slices.
3. Stuff the paneer filling and make a sandwich. Grill it using sandwich maker.
4. Serve with tomato ketchup or hot and spicy sauce of your choice.

Note -
1. Chaat masala already has salt in it. Adjust accordingly.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Roasted Tomato Pasta

I had discovered this recipe at the "Cooking Light" website and since then it has become one of  my "go to" pasta recipes. I have modified the recipe. Angel Hair Pasta works the best for this recipe.
Roasted Tomato Pasta
1/2 packet Angel Hair Pasta
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tbsp fresh Italian Basil, shredded
1 tbsp fresh Italian Parsley, shredded
1. Oil your baking dish using cooking spray. Mix tomatoes, oil and garlic cloves and spread in a single layer on the baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven (400F) for 20 minutes.
2. Cook Angel Hair Pasta according to the packet instructions. Set aside.
3. With a back of a spatula or spoon, crush the roasted garlic cloves. Add cooked pasta to the tomato mixture to coat evenly.
4. Add salt, black pepper.
5. Garnish with minced fresh herbs, just before serving.
Note -
1. Do not use curly parsley for this recipe. Use flat leaf Italian parsley.
2. If you love spicier version, sprinkle crushed red pepper on the individual serving bowl.
3. Angel hair pasta takes much less cooking time than other pasta. Cook accordingly.
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lima Beans Usal -1

There are many varieties of "paavte" or Lima Beans in India. For making this usal, you can use dried white lima beans, frozen baby lima beans or freshly picked lima beans.

Paavtyachi UsaL
ओल्या पावट्या ची  उसळ 
Lima Beans Stir Fry
16 oz. frozen baby lima beans or about 2 cups fresh lima beans or 3/4 cup dry lima beans - soaked and sprouted as instructed here.

1 potato, peeled & diced
1 tsp jaggery
salt to taste
1/2 tsp chile powder

1 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, peeled & minced
1/2 tbsp. goda masala

2 tbsp. freshly scraped coconut
2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
Freshly squeezed lemon

1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add spices. As they sizzle, add onion and garlic. Sauté till onion is soft.
2. Add goda masala and keep sautéing for about 2 minutes.
3. Add potatoes and lima beans. Add Chile powder. Sprinkle some water if needed. Cover with a lid and pour some water on the lid. Let it cook on medium flame till potatoes and beans are soft.
4. Add salt and jiggery.
5. Garnish with coconut and cilantro.
6. Just before serving, drizzle some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Note -
1. If using dry lima beans, follow the instructions to sprout them before using.
2. Also you may pressure cook the sprouts to expedite the process.

Freshly harvested lima beans from my kitchen garden

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rajashtani Kadhi

Kadhi is a popular buttermilk soup from India. Some believe that it has the origin of the word "Curry". I find it quite fascinating that almost every region of India has its own version of this soup. Just a few tweaking of spices here and there, results in astonishingly different flavors. Rajasthani Kadhi uses whole spices including coriander seeds and fennel seeds. The addition of fritters/moongodi makes it even more special.

Rajasthani Kadhi
Buttermilk Soup from Rajasthan
Whisk till no lumps
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp besan/chickpea flour
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafetida
salt to taste

1/2 tbsp oil or ghee/clarified butter
4 cloves
2" cinnamon
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 red boriya chilies
1/2 tsp fennel seeds/variyali/badishep/saunf
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste

1 recipe Moongodi
1 recipe Marwadi Muthiyas (Recipe hopefully coming!!)

1. Whisk yogurt, water, besan, salt, asafetida and turmeric powder till there are no lumps.
2. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add all the spices for tempering. Sauté for a minute or two.
3. Now, add whisked yogurt mixture. Keep stirring and bring to a gentle boil.
4. Just before serving add moongodies/mung bhujiya
5. Serve with plain rice, khichdi or pulao of your choice.

Note -
1. Add more water if you prefer thinner consistency.
Boriya Chilies

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pizza Margherita

The most important ingredient for making pizza margherita is fresh mozzarella cheese. Fresh basil from your own backyard  makes a perfect garnish.
Pizza Margherita
1 recipe Pizza crust
Marinara or Pizza sauce (homemade or store bought)
A ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
A handful of shredded Italian cheese (optional)
12-15 Fresh Basil leaves, rinsed and patted
1. Follow the method to make pizza dough. Preheat oven 500F


 2. Stretch into a flatbread.

3. Add some twists around the border, if you like.
4. Apply a spoonful of olive oil.
3. Scatter some cornmeal over the pizza pan. If using pizza stone, heat it in the oven.
4. Transfer pizza crust onto the pizza stone.
5. Bake for 7 minutes.
5. Spread the marinara sauce leaving at least 1" border around the circumference.
6. Place sliced cheese pieces in the middle. Add more Italian cheese if you prefer.
7. Bake in a preheated oven (500F) for about 9 minutes.
8. Garnish with fresh basil leaves only before serving.
Note -
1. Do not add Basil leaves too much in advance as they will turn dark and get wilted.
2. Fresh Mozzarella cheese is readily available in most of the super markets.
Credits for Pizza dough
Italian Basil

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

ALuchi PaataLbhaaji - Malvani style

 I am hoping to celebrate my kitchen garden this month. So today's feature is "ALu" or taro leaves. Only the variety with lighter leaves is used for making curries. A substantial amount of souring agent is required while cooking with taro leaves to avoid itchy feeling in the throat.
ALuchi Paatal Bhaaji
Taro Leaves Coconut based curry
12 Taro leaves, washed, shredded
1/4 cup kala vatana sprouts
salt to taste
1 tsp jaggery or to taste
1 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
Soak in water for at least 2 hours
2 tbsp Chana Daal
2 tbsp raw, unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp raw unsalted cashews
Grind to a smooth paste
1/3 cup fresh or dry coconut, roasted
1 tbsp coriander seeds
4-5 black peppercorn
2 tbsp chopped onion
4-5 red chilies
2 tsp oil
5-7 garlic cloves, smashed, leaving each clove whole
1. Pressure cook taro leaves, kala vatana sprouts and all the nuts adding adequate amount of water. Set aside.
2. Roast spices, chilies, coconut and onion, one after the other in  preferable iron kadhai/pan. Add oil as necessary for roasting. Grind to a smooth paste, using water as needed. Add tamarind pulp and grind again.
3. Place cooked leaves, nuts and sprouts in a saucepan. Add ground coconut paste, salt, jaggery. Add water if needed. Bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
4. In a small saucepan, heat oil. Add garlic cloves and sauté till it's reddish but not burnt. Add sizzling oil to the curry. Switch off the gas and cover with a lid.
5. Serve with plain rice.
Note -
1. Spinach can be substituted.

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Tzatziki Sauce

I am celebrating two star performers from my backyard kitchen garden - cucumber and dill.

This spring, I planted Armenian Cucumber. I don't think I have had this vegetable before so I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't see any fruit for the longest time, although tiny yellow flowers bloomed every day. One day while picking some mint, I happen to check at the back side of this cucumber plant and I was astonished to see this huge Armenian Cucumber.  [See the picture below]

Tzatziki Sauce
1 cucumber, peeled & grated
1 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
1 clove garlic, peeled & mashed/grated
Salt to taste
A pinch of sugar
A generous pinch of black pepper powder, freshly ground

2-3 sprigs of fresh dill, roughly chopped

1. In a mini-food processor, whip Greek yogurt with salt, garlic, sugar and black pepper powder.
2. Pour in a mixing bowl.
3. Squeeze water out of the grated cucumber.
4. Add to the yogurt mixture.
5. Garnish with fresh dill.

Note -
1. I sometimes also add grated zucchini to the above mixture.
2. Add grated cucumber to the yogurt mixture, right before serving otherwise it will make the sauce too watery.

Look who's hiding in there - Armenian Cucumber

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Vangyache Kaap - Shallow Fried Eggplant

Keeping up with my theme of celebrating my kitchen garden, I am sharing this much loved kaap/kaachrya or fodi recipe.

Vangyache Kaap
वांग्याचे काप 
Shallow Fried Eggplant
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into thick circles

salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp chile powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida

To dredge
1 tbsp rawa/semolina
2 tbsp rice flour

Oil for shallow frying

1. Rinse and pat dry the eggplant. Remove the stem. Cut into thick circles.
2. Sprinkle salt, turmeric powder, chile powder and asafoetida, making sure that all the eggplants circle are uniformly covered with these spices.
3. Heat an iron pan/griddle. Add oil.
4. Dredge the spiced eggplant circles into rice & semolina mixture. Shake off excess flour.
5. Place on the hot pan carefully. Cook on a low flame, adding oil as needed so they are cooked and are crispy.
6. Serve with your daily meal.

Note -
1. Depending on the actual size of the eggplant, the spices needed may vary.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Upasachi Aluvadi - Taro Leaves Rolls Experiment

I do not know if these "aluvadies" indeed qualify for religious fasting. I stepped out and found some beautiful taro leaves in my kitchen garden. I also had "upasaachi bhaajNi" in the pantry. I thought of combining these and made the rolls. They tasted really delicious.

Upasachi Aluvadi
उपासाची  अळूवडी 
Taro Rolls
12 Taro Leaves

1 cup uapasaachi bhajNi
1/2 cup daaNyache kooT/unsalted, roasted, peanut powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp ginger-green chile paste
1 tbsp minced cilantro
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1 cup yogurt sour

Oil/ghee for shallow frying

1. Clean and pat dry taro leaves. Make sure there are no stems. Remove any tough veins on the leaves.
2. Make a thick paste for the stuffing.
3. Place biggest leaf upside down. Spread the stuffing all over the leaf, leaving 2" border around the leaf so the stuffing does not go out.
4. Place another leaf on top. Spread the stuffing all over.
5. Repeat for 6 leaves. Roll from all the sides to make a cylinder. Be sure to close the opening.
6. Make 2 such rolls with 6 leaves per roll.
7. Steam in a pressure cooker without using pressure - for about 20 minutes. Let it cool down completely.
8. Cut into slices using a sharp knife.
9. Shallow fry using oil or ghee.
10. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice before serving.

Note -
1. Always use some sour ingredient like yogurt, tamarind pulp when handling taro leaves.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fresh Christmas Beans

Fresh Christmas Beans - just picked

I love gardening. but my kitchen garden is as whimsical as I am. I love to throw beans that I find around my kitchen and see how they turn up. Some beans like these Christmas Beans taste amazingly delicious when they are freshly picked.

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