Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stir Fried Noodles

My husband went out of town for a couple of weeks. I have a 10 months old daughter at home. Since my husband is not home, when I come home from work, I try to cook dishes that don't take too much preparation time or cooking time, so that I can spend more time with my daughter.
A few days back, I bought fresh yakisoba noodles from a local store here. The package came with seasoning mix, but instead of using the package, I stir fried the noodles with some colorful veggies, and added my own seasonings.

Here is what you will need
2 Tablespoon Sesame Oil or Peanut Oil
1 package fresh or dried Yakisoba or any Asian style noodles
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Cut into Pieces
1/2 Orange Bell Pepper, Cut into Pieces
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper, Cut into Pieces
1/2 Cup Mixed Frozen Veggies, thawed
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon White Pepper Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Sugar
4-5 Italian Basil Leaves, Roughly Chopped

If you are using dried noodles, then cook per the instruction on package and keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan. Let it come very high temperature. Now add the peppers and the veggies to the pan. Stir fry at high temperature for 2-3 minutes. Then add the salt, sugar, white pepper powder and the soy sauce. Cook on high flame for 30 seconds. Now add the fresh or cooked noodles to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes at high flame until everything is mixed well and the noodles are heated thoroughly. Now add the basil. cook for 30 more seconds then take off of the flame.
Serve hot.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crispy Spicy Chickpeas

This delicious and healthy snack is very easy to make, and requires only about 30 mins to make it.

1 Cup Chickpeas or 1 Can Chickpeas, drained
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoon Oil,
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder,
1 Teaspoon Chaat Masala, or Amchur Powder,
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala

Soak the chickpeas overnight in 3 cups of water. If you are using canned chickpeas, skip soaking step.
The next day, drain all the water (soaked or canned) and pat them dry with the help of a kitchen cloth or paper towel. Transfer into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well to coat the chickpeas.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. lay the coated peas on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until all the water has evaporated. Stir once at 15 minutes mark. Take out of the oven, and let it cool completely. Enjoy as late night snack or snack on the go.
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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Indian Ladi Pav (pao)

Ladi pav is Indian dinner roll. It is eaten with a lots of Indian dishes like pav bhaji, misal pav, vada pav etc etc. We don't get ladi pav here in USA. The dinner rolls we get here have a little sweet taste to them, which dont taste very good with spicy Indian dishes. 
On December 4th this year, my daughter turned 10 months old. Usually, we go out to celebrate her monthly birthdays:), but this week we were very busy, and didn't get a chance to go out, so I thought of making pav bhaji, with homemade ladi pav.
Here is the recipe for ladi pav. The recipe below makes about 12 buns. The time required from the start to finish is about 3 hours.

3 Cups all Purpose Flour (or Self Raising Flour),
Salt to taste,
2 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast,
2 Teaspoon Sugar,
2.5 - 3 Cups Warm Water,
2 Teaspoon Oil, (Dont' use olive oil, it has strong taste)
2 Teaspoon Milk,
2 Teaspoon Melted Butter

Heat half cup of water in microwave for 20 seconds. The water should not become too hot, but it shouldn't be just luke warm too. Dissolve the sugar in the water. Now add the yeast to the water and mix well. Let it sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, you will see foam in the water. If the water doesn't appear foamy, the yeast hasn't activated. Let it sit for few more minutes until foamy.

In the mean time, take a big bowl and apply oil to the inside of the bowl. Keep aside.

Take 3 cups flour in a mixing bowl and add salt to it. Mix well. Heat the remaining 2.5 cups of water for 35 seconds in the microwave. Again, the water should not be too hot, but shouldn't feel just lukewarm. Add the yeast water to the flour along with the oil. Mix it well in the flour. Now add the warm water a little at a time to knead soft dough.
Use only as much water as needed. You might not need all the water to make dough. Now, apply some oil to your palms and knead the dough one last time. Make a smooth ball and transfer to the oiled bowl. The bowl should be big enough to let the dough expand to double its size. Cover the bowl with a lid or a plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm area for about 2 hours.

Note: I keep the bowl near my stove while I am cooking, so that it gets some heat from the stove.
After two hours, the dough will have exapnded to double its size. Apply some oil to the inside of a deep baking dish. Dust with some flour. Now, punch down the dough and knead for 1-2 minutes. Make 12 small balls and arrange them on the baking dish. Make sure to leave some room beween the balls, as they will exapand. Cover and keep aside for 30 more minutes.
After 30 minutes, you will see the gap between the balls have closed, or became very small due to the expansion.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the milk on top of the balls and bake on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave the door closed, and let the bread sit in the oven for 5-7 more minutes. Take it out of the oven and brush the top surface with melted butter. This will allow the top surface to be soft and will give it a golden shine. Let it cool completely before trying to remove from the pan. Enjoy fresh with pav bhaji, vada pav, or misal pav.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tava Pulao

As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I love Mumbai street food. Being brought up in such a lively city, with so many people around, and with so many food choices, I am always craving Bombay street food. I don't remember going to restaurants many times with my college friends, but I do remember standing on a street corner, eating pani puri, pav bhaji, tava pulao, frankie, vada pav etc etc.

Today I am providing the recipe for tava pulao. Tava pulao is a spicy rice dish found at most of the pav bhaji selling places. It is made using pav bhaji masala, and a little bhaji. Here is the recipe for making tava pulao at home.

2 Cloves Garlic,
2-1/2 Cups Cooked Rice (Preferably Basmati)
Salt Per Taste,
2 Tablespoon Butter,
2 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds,
1/2 Onion, Finley Chopped,
1 Capsicum (Bell Pepper), Finley Chopped
1 Inch Piece of Ginger, Grated
1 Large or 2 Medium Tomatoes, Finley Chopped,
1/2 Cup Green Peas,
1/2 Cup Carrots, Chopped,
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice,
1.5 Tablespoon Pav Bhaji Masala,
1/4 cup Bhaji (pav bhaji), Optional
1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder,
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder (or less, per taste),
1/4 cup Water,
1/8 Cup Cilantro (Coriander Leaves), Chopped

Heat the butter in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Once the seeds start to crackle, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes, and add the ginger. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the peas, carrots and salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, then add the tomatoes, red chili powder, turmeric, and pav bhaji masala, bhaji and water. Cook on high until the tomatoes are well cooked. Now add the rice. Stir well to make sure the rice is covered with the masala. Cook until the rice is thoroughly heated. Turn off the flame, and add the lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Stir well, and serve hot with plain yogurt, or raita.

-- You can add/substitute other veggies of your choice such as green beans, cauliflower, potatoes etc.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Sweet Potato Peanut Bisque

My husband likes sweet potatoes so when he goes grocery shopping, and he if sees good sweet potatoes, he will bring them. He likes to bake the potatoes in the oven, and eat them as is of with a dash of salt.
I, on the other hand, can't eat them as is. I think they are a bit too sweet for my taste, and need some spice to make them more palatable. So, this time, when I saw sweet potatoes at home, I searched for some good recipes. I found quiet a few recipes for sweet potato peanut bisque, so I combined them and made the soup with the ingredients I had at home.

4 Medium sized Sweet Potatoes
3 Medium Tomatoes, Chopped
1 Small Onion, Chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
1 Inch Piece of Ginger, Grated
3 Cups Water (or more per your preference)
2 medium Carrots
2 Teaspoon Vegetable Oil
1.5 Teaspoon Cumin Powder
1.5 Teaspoon Coriander Powder
1 teaspoon Chili Powder (or Per taste)
2 Tablespoon Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Chopped Peanuts, 1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro (coriander leaves)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and put the potatoes in an aluminium foil. Prick them with the help of a fork or knife. Wrap the foil or make a pouch around the potatoes such that no steam escapes from the foil. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until tender. When cooled, peel and mash the potatoes.

Heat the oil in a pan. When hot, add the onion, ginger, garlic and carrots. When the onions have turned translucent, add the tomatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the tomatoes are a bit tender. Now add 3 cups of water, mashed potatoes, and peanut butter. Cook on medium-low for 20 minutes. Take off the heat, let it cool completely. Once cooled, blend into a thick puree, add more water if needed.
Save aside some chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves. Add the rest of the chopped peanuts, and cilantro to the puree and cook on low for 5 minutes. Take off the stove. Serve hot garnished with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Note: If you like your soup to be chunky, you can use chunky peanut butter. In that case, add the peanut butter to the potato mixture AFTER pureeing the potatoes. After adding the peanut butter, cook the mixture for 10 minutes on medium heat.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Paneer Bhurji

1 lb Paneer, Grated
1 Medium Onion, Finley Chopped,
1 Teaspoon Chili-Ginger Paste
1/4 TeaspoonTurmericPowder

1/4 Teaspoon Cumin Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 Tablespoon Oil
1/4 Cilantro, Chopped (coriander leaves)
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds turn light brown, add the onion and cook until they turn transluscent. Now add the tomatoes, cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt, chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and chili-ginger paste. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the tomates are cooked completly. Now add the grated paneer and stir gently to mix well. Cook for 5 more minutes. Take off the stove and serve hot with parathas.
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Arugula Pesto Pasta

I have signed up for an organic food basket from a local farm here in WA. The basket is provided once a week, and it includes whatever is growing in the farm in that week. This week I received Arugula. I had never tasted or cooked with Arugula before, but I do remember seeing a pesto recipe on TV. I made the pasta with pesto last night. It turned out better than what I had expected:). Here is the recipe for Arugula Pesto Pasta.

For the Pasta:
8 Oz Pasta (1/2 a box) of your choice, I used tiny ear shaped pasta
For the Pesto:
1-1/2 Avocado, Peeled and seed removed
2 Cups Arugula, washed and cleaned,
1/2 Cup Toasted Almonds,
Salt to Taste,
3 Cloves Garlic,
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, or more per your preference,
1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Black Pepper,
1/4 Cup Olive Oil,
1-1/2 Packed Cups Fresh Italian Basil,
Lime Juice from 1-1/2 limes.

Cook the pasta per the package instruction. Don't forget to add salt in the water while cooking the pasta.
In the meantime, add the avocados in a food processor. Pulse until it breaks into small pieces. Now add the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Transfer the pesto to a mixing bowl.
When the pasta is done, drain quickly reserving about 1/2 cup of starchy water. Add the hot pasta to the pesto and mix well. Add the reserved water if the pasta looks too dry. Serve immediately.

Sorry, I didn't take any picture since I made this dish in a little hurry. I will try to take a picture next time I make it again.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Paneer Stuffed Papad Rolls

I had tasted Papad rolls in an Inidan restaurant in Scottland for the very first time. The rolls were stuffed with a mixture of potatoes, onion and spices. The only bad thing about the rolls was that they were fried.
After coming home, I tried make non-fried version of these rolls. I didn't quiet succeed when I tried to make this in microwave, but it tured out very good when I tried to cook the rolls on a tava on stove.

You can stuff the rolls with any stuffing of your choice. I had some leftover paneer after making paneer bhurji, so I decided to make papad rolls with paneer stuffing.

Here is the recipe for paneer stuffed papad rolls.
3 Papad
1 Teaspoon Oil
1 Small onion, finely chopped
1 Capsicum, finely chopped
1 Cup paneer, grated
Salt to taste
1 Teaspoon chily ginger paste, or to taste
1 Teaspoon Amchur powder (dry mango powder)
1/2 Teaspoon garam masala
1/4  Teaspoon Turmeric Powder

Heat oil in a pan. when it is hot, add the onions and bell peppers. Cook on medium flame until the onions turn transluscent. Now add the paneer, salt, ginger chili paste, garam masala, amchur powder and turmeric powder. Cook for 4-5 minutes then swith off the stove. Let the mixture cool down a bit.
Apply some oil on both sides of the papads. Divide the paneer stuffing in 3 portions. Place a portion of the stuffing in the center of a papad. Roll both sides of the papad over the stuffing. Repeat for the rest of the papads.

Heat a flat non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Place the papads folded sided down on the pan. Cook for about a minute or the underside looks done. Flip, and cook for another 30-45 seconds. Take off of the stove. Cut into bit size rolls and serve with your choice of chutney or ketchup.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Sevai Kheer or Biranj

Sevaiya, Sevai or Biranj is a sweet dish made using wheat vermicelli and milk. I made it during Navratri this year as an offering. Here is the recipe for this simple but tasty desert.

3 Cups milk (whole milk preferable for rich taste)
1 Cup Wheat Vermicelli
1 Tablespoon Ghee or Unsalted butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Big Pinch Saffron
1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Corasly Ground Cardamom Powder

Heat milk in a pan and bring it to boil. In the mean time, heat the ghee in another pan. Once it is hot, add the wheat vermicelli to the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and roast the vermicelli till it turns light brown. When the milk comes to a boil, add it to the vermicelli. Add sugar, saffron, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder and mix thoroughly. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the milk starts to bubble. Take off of the stove. Garnish with sliced almonds.
This desert can be served warm or cold. It tastes good either ways.

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Suji Halva or Rava no Sheero

Navratri just got over yesterday. I make prasad on all 10 days of navaratri. This year I made Rava no Shiro(Suji Halwa) Ghau na lot no sheero (whole wheat Halwa), Sevayia (or Biranj), Firni, God papdi(or Sukhadi) etc.
Here I am providing recipe for Suji halwa. I will try to post recipes of the rest of the sweets as soon as I can.
We get different types of Suji here in the USA. Try to find the variety which is not very fine, but not very coarse either. If you go for the very fine variety, the sheero will turn out very sticky and if you go for the very coarse variety, it will turn out very dry.

1 Cup Suji (Medium grain)
3.5 Cups Milk (Whole milk preferable)
2 Tablespoon Ghee (you can use up to 4 teaspoon per your preference, I use less ghee in cooking)
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon coarsely ground Cardamom
1/4th Teaspoon Nutmeg Powder
A pinch of Saffron
1/4 cup Golden Raisins
1/4 Cup Slivered Almonds

Start by heating up milk on one stove. Bring it to a boil. Then turn down the heat and let it simmer. In another pan, heat the ghee. Once it is hot, add the suji to it and mix well. Turn the flame to medium-low and roast the suji until it turns pink or light brown. Stir often to prevent burning. When the suji is done, turn the flame to medium-high and add the hot milk to the rava. It is very necessary to add hot milk to the rava, but be very careful while adding milk to the rava. Stand as far as you can, as the milk will splatter once it touches the hot pan. Mix well and break all lumps with the help of the back of the spatula. Stir constantly for a minute or two, then add the sugar, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder, saffron and raisins. Stir to mix well. Cook until the suji soaks up all the milk. Stir frequently to avoid formation of lumps. While stirring you will realize that the mix has started to come together to form a big lump (in about 10-12 minutes). Turn off the gas at this time. Garnish with slivered almond and server.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Char baked vegetables

I have signed up for CSA (community supported agriculture) program from a local farm here in Washington. As a part of the program, I received a food basket ever week. The basket contains whatever is currently growing in the farm. I don’t get to know what is in the basket just the day before I pick it up. Even then, there are chances that my basket will differ from what the email said (depending on the crop). The farm also sends you recipes ideas for the food in the basket.

This week I received several greens, fruits and veggies. One of them was eight ball squash. It’s a round shaped summer squash, very tender from inside. When I cut it, it looked very similar to a cucumber from the inside. There were 3-4 different recipes for cooking squash. The one that I liked the most was char baked vegetables. The recipe called out for squash, eggplant, onion and tomatoes, but I guess you can use any vegetable you like.

I didn’t have eggplant at home, but I had small brinjals(small Indian Eggplant), so I used them as a replacement for eggplant.

Here is the recipe for making char baked vegetables.

3 Eight ball squash, cut in slices (or any other type of squash)
5 brinjals cut in silices,
1 Onion, cut in slices
4-5 tomatoes, cut in slices
3 Tbsp Thyme,
5 Cloves of garlic, cut in thin slices
1 Tsp Cilantro, Chopped
Salt per Taste
Pepper per Taste
¼ Cup Olive Oil

Method: Pre-heat the oven at 400 degrees F. Pour half the oil in a deep baking dish and spread it on the bottom. Arrange some of squash slices in single layer to cover the bottom of the pan. Generously season with salt and pepper. Now arrange the eggplant slices. Top them up with Onion slices. Season again with salt and pepper. Spread some garlic slices and thyme on the top layer. Cover with tomatoes. Repeat the same process for the remaining veggies, making sure to season with salt and pepper in between the layers. Top with tomatoes as the last layer. Spread the chopped cilantro on top of the tomato. Pour the rest of the olive oil evenly on the top layer. Press the veggies once with the help of a flat spoon or a dish.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, take out of the oven and lightly press down on the veggies. The height of the veggie layer should be about half of what you started with. Put it back in the oven and cook for another 45 minutes, or until you see that the top layer has charred a bit.
Take out of the oven, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve warm.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chocolate Almond Honey Tart

Srishti, my daughter, turned 6 months old on Aug 4th, so I wanted to celebrate her half year birthday by making some dessert that I had never made before.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an episode of Giada’s cooking show.  She had made chocolate-almond –honey tart, without adding eggs or gelatin to it, and I thought, what a perfect timing. The tart looked very delicious, so I decided to make it for Srishti’s 6 months birthday.
I looked up for the recipe on Food Network’s website. Most of the reviewers said that it was too sweet, so I reduced the amount of honey when I made it at home.  Also, I bought the crust from a store to save some time. Once you have the readymade crust, it will take you less than 10 minutes to assemble the dish. You put it in fridge overnight (or for 5 hours minimum) and a yummy, chocolaty, and moist and delicious tart will be ready for you the next day.
I also decorated the tart with some chocolate shavings and coco powder, which was not a part of the recipe.

Here is what you need to make this tart
1 pack (13 oz or 340gms) of semi-sweet chocolate chips,
¾ cup heavy cream
1/5th cup honey (the original recipe calls for 1/4th cup)
¼ cup slivered or chopped almonds, optional (the original recipe doesn’t call for this, but I added it or crunch)
1 tsp chocolate shavings
¼ tsp unsweetened coco powder
1 store bought chocolate flavored pie crust
Combine honey and cream in a container and cook on low flame until the honey is completely dissolved in the cream (about 2-3 minutes).  Turn the flame to medium settings and bring the mixture to boil. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, switch off the gas, and add the chocolate chips to the mixture.  Stir slowly until all the chocolate chips are dissolved and the mixture looks like thick, but runny chocolate sauce.  Add the chopped/slivered almonds to the chocolate mixture and stir once to combine well. Pour this mixture into the prepared tart shell (pie crust), and let it cool down for about 10 minutes.  
Now sprinkle the chocolate shavings on top. Put the chocolate powder in a mesh strainer, and lightly dust the powder on top of the shavings.  Loosely cover the tart with lid or paper towel and transfer refrigerate overnight. Loosen the shell from the mold, and transfer the tart to a serving plate. Cut it into wedges and serve.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quinoa with Basil and Pepper

Quinoa is a seed, which looks like a grain. Its a good susbsitute for rice. My husband doesn't like rice dishes, but he loves Quinoa, so many times I make Quinoa Pulav, or Quinoa khichdi. Cooking with Quinoa is very easy. You treat it just like rice.
This time I made Quinoa with Red and Orange Peppers, and Thai basil. I had bought thai basil and colored peppers to make summer rolls, but because of the E-coli outbreak in sprouts, I had to ditch the plan of making summer rolls. So I had a few colored peppers, and about half a cup of thai basil at my home, which I needed to use up quickly, so I decided to experiment by adding them in Quinoa.It turned out pretty good.
Here is how my made Quinoa with peppers and basil
1-1/4 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoon Oil
1/8th Teaspoon Asafoetida
2 Bell Peppers, Cut into 1 inch Pieces (I used 1 Red and 1 Orange pepper. You can use any colored pper)
1/4 Cup Frozen Green Peas
1-1/2 Serrano Peppers, Deseeded, and Sliced into two Lengthwise,
1/4 Cup Carrots, Sliced 1/2 Inch Thick,
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric
1/4 Cup Basil leaves Roughly Chopped (You can add whole Basil leaves too)

Take out Quinoa in a strainer and place it under cold runnig water for about 30 seconds. Take it out in a sauce pan. Add 2-1/4 cups of water and salt to taste. Let the water come to a boil, then simmer covered for 15-20 minutes, or until the water evaporates. Keep in mind to not stir it while simmering. Once all the water has evaporated, fluff it up with the help of a fork.

Heat oil in another sauce pan. When its bubbly, add the asafoetida and Serrano pepper. Stir continuously for about 30-40 seconds. Then add the peppers, carrots, and peas. Add turmeric and garam masala, and stir to coat the veggies. Add salt to taste. Turn the flame to medium-low and cook covered until the peppers just start to soften up. You don't want to cook the veggies until they are soft and mushy. and cook for another minute or so. Take off the heat. Now add the basil leaves and cook for another minute or so. Turn off the heat. Now mix the cooked Quinoa to the veggies a little at a time, to make sure that everything combines uniformly. Serve with cold yogurt on side, or eat as is.
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spring Salad with Balsamic-Mustard Dressing

I can eat salads everyday for lunch provided the salad dressing is different each day:). Being vegetarian, I have to be careful while selecting dressings for salads. Some dressings have eggs, while others have enchovies in them. When I have salad at home, I prefer to make my own dressing.

A few days ago, I bought Apple Chipotle Mustard from a local farmer's market. Its tastes a bit sweet, with very mild heat from the chipotle peppers and tangyness of the mustartd. The person who was selling it, told me that it can be used on meats as a rub, and also it goes well with fish. Ofcourse, I don't eat any of those, so I thought I can try to mix it with my salad dressing that I make at home. If you can't find Apple Chipotle Mustard at your local stores, try substituting it with Honey Mustard.

Here is what you will need for salad.
2 Cups Spring Salad Mix
5-6 Salted and Roasted Almonds,
2 Teaspoon Golden or Black Raisins,
Slices of 1 Orange, Separated and Cut in Half
3-4 Strawberries, Cut into Thin Slices (Optional)

2 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Apple-Chipotle Mustad (Can Substitute with Honey Mustard)
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil,

Method for Dressing:
Combine together the mustard and the vinegar in a bowl. Mix well to form a uniform mixture. Now add the olive oil a little at a time while continusously stirring with mixture with the other hand. This process incorporates some air in the dressing, and helps combine vinegar and oil together.

Assembling the Salad:
I run my knife through the greens once so that I don't end up with huge leaves in my dinning plate:). You can also tear the leaves with your hands while adding them to the salad bowl. Now add the raisins, almonds and orange slices. If you are using strawberries, add them now too.

Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad. Mix thoroughly and serve.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Taro Root (Arbi) Patties

I tasted taro root for the first time at a friend’s place two years ago. She had made taro patties with minimum spices, but they still tasted good. Since then I have been cooking it the same way. Be aware, if you like taro root, you will want more and more if this patties:).

Here are the ingredients:
6-7 pieces of Small Taro Roots
Salt to taste
1 Teaspoon Crushed Black Pepper (optional)
2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Chaat Masala
1 Teaspoon Oil

Wash the roots thoroughly and put them in a container. Put the container in the pressure cooker and cook for 5 whistles. Let it cool.
Once the taro roots have cooled down to touch, peel them. Press them gently in between the palms of your hands to make a flat patty. If need cut them in two pieces before making small patties.
Heat up the oil on a griddle or a non stick pan. Once it is hot, arrange the patties on the griddle. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and chaat masala on the patties. Cook them on medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until the underside turns golden brown. Flip the patties gently. Now sprinkle the salt, pepper and chaat masala on the cooked side. Let the underside cook for another two minutes to get golden brown color.
Take off of the stove and squeeze a fresh lemon over them or brush some lemon juice on the patties. Garnish with chopped coriander. I can’t stop eating them as soon as they are off of the griddle; therefore I never get to the garnishing stage:).

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

The best tomato basil soup I ever had in my life is at my college. I went to Penn State University in Erie. They used to serve Tomato Basil Soup with cheese ravioli in it on every Wednesday. Since then I have tried to replicate that soup many times, using many different recipes, but with not much success. Yesterday, I just made the soup out of jiffy, and surprisingly it turned out delicious.

I had a lot of basil leaves left from making stuffed pasta shells over the weekend, so I decided to try again one last time, to make tomato basil soup. And I am glad that I tried because the soup turned out so good that I couldn’t stop eating it even though I wasn’t very hungry.

Instead of using heavy cream, I used ricotta cheese in my soup because that is what I had available at home. I also didn’t buy any fancy croutons, but instead made some at home from whole wheat bread slices. I also had some carrots in the fridge, so I used one in the soup.

Here is the recipe for making Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

For the Soup
6-7 Juicy Tomatoes (I Used Roma Tomatoes),
1 Medium Carrot,
3 Big Cloves of Garlic,
1/4th Cup Olive Oil,
6-7 Black Pepper Corns,
½ Cup Water,
Salt to Taste,
10 Big Italian Basil Leaves, Washed and Patted Dry
2 Teaspoon Ricotta Cheese,
A little less than 1/4th Cup Milk,
½ Teaspoon White Pepper Powder, or Per Taste
A Pinch of Saffron Strands, Optional (It gives good color),
1 Teaspoon Sugar

For Croutons
2 Slices of Bread Your Choice (I Used Whole Wheat)
2 Teaspoon Olive Oil,
1/8th Teaspoon Italian Seasoning


For the Croutons:
Place one slice of bread on top of the other. Make vertical and horizontal cuts at 1 inch intervals on both breads at a time so that the pieces are of the same size. Lay these pieces in a single layer on a baking dish. Sprinkle 2 Teaspoon olive oil and Italian seasoning on the bread pieces.

For the Soup:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tomatoes in half length wise. Cut the carrot in big pieces. Add the tomatoes, carrots, garlic, olive oil and black pepper corns in a deep baking dish and cover with an aluminum foil. Puncture the foil at 4-5 locations with the help of a knife. Keep aside.

When the oven heats up to 375 degrees F, place the deep dish with veggies on the center rack and the bread slices on the bottom rack of the oven. After 15 minutes, check the bread once. It should have hardened up into croutons. Take them out. If the bread pieces haven’t hardened up, cook them a little longer. Cook the veggies for 15 more minutes (30 minutes in total from the start time) so that the tomatoes get soft. Take out the veggies, remove the foil and add ½ cup cold water to aid in cooling.

While the veggies are getting cooled, take 3 basil leaves, lay them on top of each other and roll them up. Cut into thin pieces. Separate the cut pieces. Now you have thinly sliced basil ribbons for garnishing!! 

Mix the ricotta cheese and milk in a blender and blend into smooth paste. Once the veggies cool down, add the remaining (uncut) basil leaves, sugar and the cheese paste to the veggies and blend it to make smooth puree.

The following step is optional. Take out 4-5 croutons which are cut from the sides of the bread. Add these croutons to the veggies while making puree. The addition of croutons gave the soup a good texture, and thick consistency. You can opt out from adding croutons to the veggies if you like your soup to have very smooth texture.

Transfer the puree to a cooking pot and add the saffron strands, salt and white pepper powder to it. Cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Take off the stove and serve hot garnished with croutons, chopped basil ribbons and some olive oil.

Note: Do not overcook the soup otherwise the basil will loose its flavor.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells

I had a big bunch of spinach in the fridge, and didn’t want to make the usual palak panner, or palak paratha with it. So I decided to make spinach stuffed pasta shells. It tasted great, and made for more than 4 servings:), so we had it for dinner, and took the rest for lunch the next day. I used readymade pasta sauce instead of making it fresh at home, but you can definitely use your favorite recipe for homemade pasta sauce.

Here is the recipe for making spinach stuffed pasta shells.

1 Bunch Spinach,
1 Packet Jumbo Pasta Shells, (12 OZ)
Salt, to taste,
2 Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped
1/3rd Cup Ricotta Cheese,
1/3rd Cup, Parmesan Cheese,
8-10 Italian Basil Leaves,
5-6 Mint Leaves,
2 Tablespoon, Italian Parsley ( I used cilantro, because that is what I had available at home).
1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper, or To Taste,
3 Teaspoon Olive Oil

Cook the pasta per the package instruction, but cook it for a little less time, because it will continue cooking in the oven.

Separate the spinach leaves from the stems, and discard the stems. Heat olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and chili flakes. Cook for a minute or two, then add the spinach leaves, mint leaves, basil, parsley and salt. Cook uncovered until the spinach starts wilting. Now add the ricotta cheese and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Switch off the stove and let it cool completely.

In the mean time, take a deep baking sheet and spread about two ladle full of the readymade pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan. Strain the pasta, and arrange them in a layer on the baking sheet. Do not put them too close together, or they will start sticking. Let them cool on the baking sheet.

Now, transfer the cooled spinach mixture into a grinder and grind to a thick paste. Do not add any water. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. While the oven is heating up, fill each pasta shell with the spinach mixture. I filled each shell with about 2 spoons of the mixture. Coat the filled shells with readymade pasta sauce. Make sure that all shells are covered with the pasta sauce, or the exposed shells will become dry. Spread the parmesan cheese on top of the sauce. Chop up 1-2 basil leaves, and sprinkle them on the cheese for garnishing. Cover the baking dish with an aluminum foil and bake on the center rack for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

Take out of the oven and serve hot with some warm italian bread or garlic bread on side.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vegetarian Tomato Omlette or Pudla

Pudla is a Gujarati version of tomato omlette. Its quick, tasty and healthy too, since it is made with gram flour. Here is the recipe for pudla or eggless tomato omlette.

1 Cup Gram Flour (Besan),
2 Teaspoon Semolina (Suji),
2 Teaspoon Rice Flour,
Salt to Taste
3-4 Green Chilies, Finley Chopped,
1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder,
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala,
2 Medium Tomatoes, Finley Chopped,
1/2 Medium Onion, Finley Chopped,
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro Leaves,
1/4 Cup Yogurt, (makes it soft and fluffly)

Method: Combine all the ingredients mentiond above except the water. Mix everything well. Start adding little water at a time while stirring the ingredients to make sure that no lumps form. Add just enough water to get a pancake batter consistency.

Heat a griddle or a non stick pan. Pour 1/4 teaspoon oil in the center. Pour about 1/3rd cup of the batter on the oil and spread it evenly on the griddle. Cook on medium high heat for about 2 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown. Flip the side. Cook for another minute. Take off of the griddle and serve hot with butter, ketchup or chutney.

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Eggless Pound Cake

Since I am a vegetarian, I am always trying some new ways to make an eggless cake, which can make the cake light, moist and fluffy. I think I have finally found a good recipe.

Here I am sharing a basic pound cake recipe. I added some orange zest for taste, and some walnuts for a bite, but you can eliminate these additional ingredients altogether, and still make a good pound cake.

1-1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour (Maida)
1/4 Lb (1 Stick) Butter, melted
1-1/4 Cups Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Ground Flax Seeds (Flax Seeds Powder)
3 Teaspoon Water
A Pinch Salt
3/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/8th Cup Orange Juice (You can use water if you don't want orange flavour)
1/4 Teaspoon Orange Zest (Optional)
1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts (Optional)
A few strands of Saffreon, for some color

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degree F. In a big mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar and cream and mix well. In a small cup mix the ground flax seeds in 3 teaspoon of water and keep aside for 5 minutes to make a thick paste.  Add the flax seeds paste to the butter mixture and mix well making sure no lumps are formed. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, saffron, walnuts and orange zest in a pan and mix well. Now add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Add the orange juice (or water) and mix everything uniformly for one last time.

Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle some flour on all sides. Transfer the batter into the pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until a knife, when inserted in the center comes out clean. When it is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool completley. Cut into slices and serve.

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