Thursday, May 29, 2014

Black Bean and Rice Salad

This is my version of Cuban Black Beans and Rice. It makes a complete meal.

Black Beans and Rice Salad
1 cup Black beans, soaked for 4-5 hours
1 cup salsa
1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 cup spinach or kale

1 cup cooked rice
1 1/2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

2 tbsp. chopped red onion (optional)
1 tbsp. minced red radish (optional)
1 tbsp. minced cilantro or scallions/spring onions
4 wedges of lemon

1. Drain beans and pressure cook adding salsa, turmeric powder and spinach or kale. Add water as needed.
2. Bring to boil. Add cumin powder and salt to taste. Let it simmer.
3. Arrange shredded lettuce in a serving bowl.
4. Add a small scoop of rice.
5. Add black beans. Do not add too much of the watery part of the "curry".
6. Garnish with avocado, tomatoes, onions, radish, cilantro/scallions.
7. Serve with a lemon wedge.

1. I prefer Jack's Salsa for this recipe.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yakitori Tofu

Yakitori Tofu

After making Yakitori Chicken successfully, I moved on to make its vegan/vegetarian counterpart. Use extra firm tofu and wrap it in wads of paper towel to drain the excess moisture.

Yakitori Tofu
Tofu Skewers Japanese Style
About 1/2 block of extra firm Tofu, drained and cut into 24 pieces
24 Spring onion pieces (Do not use green leaves)

1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp chili garlic paste (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 tbsp. finely grated ginger

Cooking Spray

2 tsp white sesame seeds

0. Place half of Tofu slab on paper towels lined up with colander. Keep the colander on another pot to drain off excess moisture. Place few more paper towels on top. Place a weight on top. Keep aside for 4-5 hours.
1. Whisk the marinade. Cut drained tofu slab into about 24 bite sized pieces. Add tofu pieces to the marinade. Cover and set aside in the fridge for about 6 hours.
2. Thread small skewers alternating with marinated tofu cubes and spring onion pieces. Shake off excess marinade before threading the tofu pieces
3. Heat cast iron grill. Spray some oil using cooking spray. Let it be really hot before keeping the skewers.
4. Place skewers carefully. Cook for about 3 minutes per side till grill marks appear on the tofu. Keep turning from all over so it's uniformly cooked. Baste with marinade if needed.
5. Take off the grill. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

Note -
1. I use a cast iron grill pan on the usual gas stove.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yakitori Chicken

Gudiya has started loving Japanese flavors these days. I wanted to make Yakitori Chicken for her. But all the recipes that I had come across, had either alcohol or Sake - Japanese wine. Finally, I decided to use Whole Foods brand Teriyaki Sauce. I think it worked out pretty well.

Yakitori Chicken (8 Skewers)
Japanese Grilled Chicken Kabobs
1 lb Boneless, skinless chicken - preferably organic
24 Spring onion pieces (Do not use green leaves)

1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp chili garlic paste (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 tbsp. finely grated ginger

Cooking Spray

2 tsp white sesame seeds

1. Whisk the marinade. Keep 2 tbsp. aside for basting. Cut chicken into about 24 bite sized pieces. Add chicken pieces to the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for about 6 hours.
2. Thread small skewers alternating with marinated chicken cubes and spring onion pieces. Shake off excess marinade before threading the chicken pieces
3. Heat cast iron grill. Spray some oil using cooking spray. Let it be really hot before keeping the chicken skewers.
4. Place skewers carefully. Cook for about 3 minutes per side till grill marks appear on the chicken.
5. Baste with the reserved marinade.
6. Broil in oven for about  3 minutes, making sure that the chicken is cooked perfectly.
7. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top before serving.

Note -
1. Reserve marinade for basting separately. Do not use the same marinade where chicken was marinating for basting as it had raw chicken and it may contaminate cooked food.
2. Obviously, turmeric powder is not a Japanese ingredient. But I like to use it along with chicken and seafood items due to Indian culinary training! Please use your own preference.
3. I used cast iron grill pan which goes in the oven.
4. I used the same recipe for making Yakitori Tofu. I will post it soon.
Yakitori Chicken with Japanese Noodles

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Tandoori Potato Wedges

Gudiya was raving about oven baked potato wedges that are served in her school cafeteria. So I created my version with Tandoori twist. I didn't use readymade Tandoori masala so it doesn't look as "bright yellow orange" since it has not edible color. I used turmeric powder instead, hoping it's better for health than food color.
Tandoori Potato Wedges
Roasted Potato Wedges - Tandoori Style
4 medium Idaho potatoes, cut into 8 wedges each
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp paprika or Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
A generous pinch of chaat masala
Few dried mint leaves, crushed

0. Preheat oven 400F
1. Whisk all the ingredients for the marinade.
2. Rub it over the potato wedges.
3. Spread in a single layer on a baking pan. Spray some oil over the baking pan before spreading the wedges.
4. Bake in the oven for  15-20 minutes.
5. Turn with a spatula once, making sure that they are not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
6. Bake more if needed.
7. Garnish with crushed dried mint leaves and chaat masala.
Note -
1. The potatoes are not peeled.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chilkewali Idli

This was a part of my kitchen experiment. I wanted to add more fiber to our daily breakfast.

Chilkewali Idli
1/2 cup green moong daal with skin
1/2 cup urad daal
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
salt to taste

Oil for greasing

1. Soak daals, rice & fenugreek seeds adding adequate water.
2. Drain and grind to smooth paste.
3. Add salt and set for fermenting.
4. Grease idli moulds.
5. Pour a ladleful of batter and steam like regular idlies.

6. Serve with chutney of your choice.

Note -
1. If batter does not get fermented due to cold weather, add a pinch of baking soda just before steaming.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Chow Chow or Chayote Squash Chutney


I had seen this vegetable called Chayote squash before. I didn't know how to use it then. I later learnt about it in Mrs. Chandra Padmanabhan's book "Dakshin" about Chow Chow Chutney. So I started using this squash in my daily cooking every now and then. Though I used Mrs. Padmanabhan's recipe as a starting point, it was interpreted little differently for our Maharashtrian/Gujarati taste buds.

Chow Chow Chutney
Chayote Squash Chutney
1 Chow Chow or Chayote Squash, grated or chopped finely
1 green or red tomato, chopped
salt to taste
1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
1 tbsp. jaggery

1/2 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. chana daal
2 tbsp. urad daal
1/2 tsp asafetida
1 sprig curry leaves, torn
4-5 dried red chilies

1. Heat oil in a kadai. Add ingredients for tempering. Saute till urad daal changes color to reddish.
2. Add squash and tomatoes. Cook on a medium flame for about 10 minutes.
3. Add salt, tamarind and jaggery. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Switch off the gas. Let it come to the room temperature.
5. Grind the mixture to a smooth chutney.

Note -
1. I don't peel the squash.
2. Sometimes, as a variation I also add 2 cloves of garlic in tempering.
3. Sometimes, I add grilled jalapenos or mini multicolored peppers instead of dried chilies.

Idli with Chow Chow Chutney

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Egg Pulao

My aunt makes delicious Egg Biryani. It's an elaborate process and as usual, I was in a hurry to make something quick. So I decided to make this Egg Pulao.

Egg Pulao - (Serves 3-4)
Boiled Eggs & Rice
1 cup Basmati Rice, rinsed
4 hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters
1 cup spinach, frozen ok
1 cup yellow corn, frozen ok
Salt to taste
1 tsp garam masala

½ tbsp. oil
3-4 cloves
2 green cardamoms
7-8 black peppercorn
1 tbsp green paste(ginger-garlic-green chili-cilantro)
½ cup sliced onion
1 tomato, chopped
Suggested Accompaniment
1.     Heat oil. Add whole spices. Add onion. Sauté till soft.
2.    Add green paste. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomato.
3.    Add basmati and garam masala. Sauté for 5 minutes.
4.    Add spinach and corn. Let the moisture evaporate.
5.    Add water and salt to taste.
6.    Bring to boil. Lower the gas. Cover and let it cook.
7.    Place eggs on top.
8.    Serve with salad.

Note –
Use good quality Garam Masala.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cantaloupe Smoothie

My texting skills are rather pathetic. On top of it, if I am texting in a hurry, it just goes out of hand quickly. I had made this smoothie and wanted to text my husband that the smoothie is in the refrigerator. I was on my way out and he wasn't home yet.  So what I meant to text was "Cantaloupe Smoothie in Fridge". But it got auto corrected as "Can't Elope Smoothly on Friday!" My husband called immediately, probably fearing that I'd lost my marbles! :-D
Cantaloupe Smoothie
Few chunks of Cantaloupe
1 or 2 soaked dates, pit removed
2 cups any milk of choice (Almond milk, Soy Milk or regular Milk)
1 tsp Flax powder (optional)
1. Blend all the ingredients in a blender.
2. Serve chilled.
Note -
1. This recipe serves 2 people.
2. Depending on the desired sweetness, and natural sweetness of the fruit, adjust the amount of dates or just not use it.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower


This was my version of Roasted Cauliflower with Tandoori/Indian spices.

Roasted Cauliflower with Indian spices
1 head of cauliflower, stems removed, cut into bite sized florets
1 white or purple onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced

2 tbsp. oil
salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly crushed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp roasted cumin powder

A pinch of Amchoor Powder
A pinch of Chaat Masala

1. Preheat oven 450 F.
2. Rinse and pat dry vegetables. Cut according to the directions above.
3. Mix with whisked oil marinade.
4. Spread in a single layer on a baking tray. Spray some oil using cooking spray before spreading the vegetables.
5. Bake for 20 minutes.
6. Broil for 5 minutes.
7. Sprinkle some amchoor powder and chaat masala before serving.

Note -
1. Amchoor and Chaat masala are optional.
2. Use this mixture as a side dish or stir in with cooked pasta. I sometimes serve it as a part of vegetable fajita.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Grilled or Roasted Mini Peppers


I always wanted to try these beautiful peppers. When we went for shopping, Gudiya was fascinated by the colors and she put a bag in the cart. I thought of roasting them.

These peppers are very mild. So if you are trying to use them for a spicy chutney, do add some chili powder to taste.

Grilled/Roasted Peppers
20  mini peppers, rinsed and dried completely
Cooking Spray

1. Heat a cast iron grill pan.
2. Spray with oil.
3. Place peppers on hot pan.
4. Keep turning till they get grill marks uniformly.
5. After cooking, you can cover the pan. So they will be cooked in the steam.
6. Store in a container for later use.

Note -
1. You can use these peppers for making chutney, salsa or use as a part of any salad.
2. Please note that these peppers are very mild.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Tofu Fried Rice


I am trying to learn good stir-fry technique. I love all the Chinese vegetarian stir fries. I don't care much for the chicken on non-vegetarian Chinese food. I love how they use fresh vegetables and keep them crisp and yet delicious. I have been following many Chinese cook books from various Chinese authors to learn this technique.

So I have been making many stir fries and fried rice of late.  I have used lots of Chinese vegetables like Bok Choy.

Tofu Fried Rice
1 cup rice, cook and set aside to cool down, preferably day old from fridge will work the best
1 Grilled Tofu slab

3-4 baby bok choy, rinse thoroughly, and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
2 green bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 broccoli crown, sliced

1 tbsp. peanut oil
1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste

Whisk for making the sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1/2 cup water
2 drops toasted sesame oil

1. Follow the method as described here, to get the grilled tofu slab. Cut into cubes and set aside.
2. Heat a wok. Add peanut oil and swirl quickly to coat the wok.
3. Add ginger - garlic paste. And sauté for 15 seconds.
4. Add carots and broccoli. Saute for 2 minutes
5. Add bell peppers and bok choy. Saute for 2 more minutes.
6. When the vegetables appear to be just about cooked (not mushy or overcooked), stir in cooked, cold rice.
7. Mix well. Add sauce all over and stir well.
8. Adjust for salt if needed. Sprinkle some freshly ground pepper.
9. Garnish with spring onion slices.

Note -
1. Rinse bok choy really well. It generally has lots of dirt/soil at the bottom.
2. Use any combination of vegetables of your choice including Napa/Savoy Cabbage, snap peas, mushrooms, baby corn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts etc.

Baby Bok Choy
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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Green Peas Quinoa Pulao

I include Quinoa in our menu every once in a while. I treat it the same way I would make tempered rice (Fodnicha bhaat).

Green Peas Quinoa
Quinoa with Green Peas
Cooked Quinoa 2 cups
1 cup green peas, frozen ok
Salt to taste
1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp oil
Cloves 3-4
2 green cardamoms
1” cinnamon
7-8 black peppercorn
½ cup sliced onion
¼ cup chopped mint
1/3 cup yogurt

1.     Heat oil. Add spices. Add onion. Sauté till soft.
2.    Add mint. Fry for a minute
3.    Add yogurt & salt.
4.    Add garam masala and cooked quinoa.
5.    Add ¼ cup water and green peas. Let it heat through.
6.    Let it incorporate.

Note -
Serve with any salad of your choice.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Radish Oothapams

Ravishing radishes are seen everywhere since it's spring time. I decided to include them in the oothapams or uttappa.

Radish Oothapams
Radish Pancakes
1 bunch red radishes, top removed, minced
1 spring onion, minced
1 green chili, minced (optional)

1 recipe idli batter

Oil for cooking

1. Heat a tawa/pan/griddle.
2. Grease as needed.
3. Pour a spoonful of idli batter.
4. Sprinkle minced radish, spring onions and chili - if using.
5. Cover and let it cook.
6. Flip and cook quickly on the other side.
7. Serve with chutney of your choice.

Note -
1. You may need to add water to idli batter. Do not add too much water. These pancakes need to be thick.
2. I used my mini pancakes pan to make mini oothapams.

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chicken Caffreal

This is a delicious starter from Goa. You can serve this grilled/baked chicken tenders along with salad for dinner or just serve it with onion rings and lemon wedges as a part of a big meal.

Chicken Caffreal
Baked/Grilled Chicken from Goa
1 lb chicken tenders

Grind to a fine paste
1 cup cilantro
3-4 sprigs of mint
3-4 green chilies (or per desired heat)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1" ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp clove powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
Freshly crushed black peppercorn
salt to taste
2 tbsp. lemon juice

1. Rinse and cut chicken tenders in a bite sized pieces.
2. Grind cilantro with all the remaining spices to a fine paste.
3. Marinate chicken with green masala paste in a refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
4. Preheat oven 350 F
5. Grease a baking tray with cooking spray like Pam.
6. Arrange the chicken tenders in a single layer.
7. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning the tenders once - making sure that they are cooked through.
8. Serve with salad or onion rings and lemon wedges.

Note -
1. Do not add water while grinding the green masala paste.
2. Instead of baking, you can also add oil to a tawa/griddle and sauté marinated chicken pieces till they are cooked.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Leela Vatana nu Shaak - Gujarati Green Peas Curry

This is a simple green peas curry made Gujarati style. Use fresh green peas when in season, but frozen green peas work just fine too. For those who are curious, leela means green in Gujarati and is not a name of a person!!;-)

Leela Vatana nu Shaak
Gujarati Green Peas Curry
1 lb petite green peas, fresh or frozen
salt to taste
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 tsp coriander-Cumin Powder/Dhana-Jiru
1 tsp Gujarati Garam Masala
1 tomato, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled & chopped

Grind to a smooth paste*
1/2 cup cilantro
3-4 green chilies
2" ginger, peeled and chopped

1/2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Green Paste*

2 tbsp. minced cilantro
2 tbsp. freshly scraped coconut
Lemon wedges
Nylon Sev

1. Heat oil in a kadai.
2. Add tempering ingredients. As they sizzle, add green paste Saute for 2 minutes.
3. Add potato. Mix well. Let it cook till potato is semi-cooked
4. Add green peas and tomatoes with 1/2 cup water. Let it cook.
5. Add powders, salt and sugar if using.
6. Simmer till it is dryish.
7. Cover and keep aside for at least 10 minutes before serving.
8. Garnish with cilantro, coconut, lemon wedges and sev.
9. Serve with rotla, thepla or fulka.

Note -
1. You can add more water and have wet consistency.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gulacha Kharwas

Kharwas is considered a delicacy. After discovering "Junnu Powder" at our local Indian stores, I decided to make "GuLacha Kharwas". Here, jaggery is used instead of sugar, which gives a rustic flavor and a beautiful, amber hue.

The recipe is pretty much similar to the Kharwas with sugar, but saffron is not needed and more jaggery may be required compared to sugar. But adjust that proportion based on your own preference.

Some people even add a pinch of black pepper powder - probably to balance the sweetness. Since my mom or grandmothers don't add it, I decided not to use it.

GuLacha Kharwas
गुळाचा  खरवस 
Milk & Jaggery Pudding
1 packet Kamdhenu brand Junnu powder
3/4 - 1 cup jaggery or per taste
2 cups milk (preferably whole milk or 2% milk)

3-4 green cardamoms, peeled and crushed

1. Mix milk, jaggery and junnu powder so there are no lumps.
2. Stir in cardamom powder. Mix well.
3. Pour enough water in the pressure cooker. Let the pudding steam for about 15-20 minutes. Do not use weight.
4. Chill in the refrigerator.
5. Cut into diamonds or squares or wedges.

Note -
1. I used Kamdhenu brand Junnu powder.
2. Do not use saffron. Let jaggery give that beautiful amber color to the pudding.

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