Main Course

In love with fish…
As a kid I wasn’t a fish lover. But I think I start loving it more and more as I grew older and realized that it’s a tastier and healthier option. And now it’s even more easier with all the fillets being readily available. One day I hope to live some place where, I can go to the market and get fresh fish, till then I will make do with the freshest fish I can find here in AZ. So last night was a fish dinner night. I wanted to make something quick and easy.
On another note, Amit and I were going to get some coffee the other day on Mill Avenue (it’s the street on which our lab is located). There is this quaint little book store on this otherwise, restaurant / bar / pub filled street. It’s a really nice bookstore, I think owned by an old couple who are also very nice. They have tons of books on every conceivable topic and some that I bet you won’t find elsewhere. And they have a large gray cat who sits around watching all the people who come into the store.

So while browsing through the books, I saw this Martha Stewart book on sale. I glanced through it and since I do not have any of her books, I thought why not. I am sure I can get atleast a couple of recipes that I can tweek to my liking in here. She had a recipe for a roasted salmon with herbed stuffing. I did not have salmon, for that matter I did not want to but a whole fish to make the dish. So I decided to tweek it to make it a roasted swai with rolled / filled herb filling. And I must say, I was very happy with the final dish. It was as intended very easy to make and took about 15-20 minutes of preparation time and then about 15-20 minutes in the oven. So technically I was busy cooking it for only 15-20 mins, the oven was the one cooking after that. The herbed filling is sufficient for about 3 large Swai fillets.
Ingredients:
  1. 3 Swai fillets
  2. 2 tsps olive oil
  3. 1 red onion (thinly sliced)
  4. 2 carrots (grated)
  5. 1 bunch of green onions (chopped)
  6. 5-6 small cloves garlic (chopped)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  8. 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  9. 1 cup chopped coriander
  10. 5-6 basil leaves
  11. 1 sprig tarragon
  12. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  13. some oil to brush the baking dish
  14. kitchen string
  15. 1/2 teaspoon butter

For seasoning the fish fillet
  1. 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  2. salt to taste
  3. ginger powder
  4. coriander powder
Directions:
  • Heat the olive oil and add the cumin and fennel seeds when the oil is hot.
  • Next add the red onions and fry till they soften and start turning pink.
  • Now add the garlic and fry a few more minutes till the raw smell of garlic is gone.
  • Next add the carrots and green onions and cook for a few minutes till the carrots have softened.
  • Finally add all the herbs except the tarragon.
  • Preheat the oven to 500F.
  • Now place a fillet on a large plate and season one side with the red chilli powder, salt, ginger powder and coriander powder. You may add as much or as little of these spices. I added about 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder, 1 tsp coriander pwd, 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder and salt to taste.
  • Next spread the filling on the wider end  of the fillet to about three-fourths of the way down to the narrower end.
  • Start rolling the fillet from the wider end to the narrower end and tie it up with the kitchen string.
  • Now place the tied up fillets on a baking dish brushed with some oil.
  • Place the tarragon sprigs on the rolled fillet and place in the oven.
  • Turn the rolled fillet over after about 10 minutes and let it cook for another 5 mins. Keep a careful eye on the fish so that you do not overcook it.
  • At the very end, pull out the baking dish from the oven and brush the top with some of the butter and place it under the broiler for a couple of mins so that it browns slightly.
  • Serve with some greens and it makes a meal in itself.

We loved this fish with the filling and I am definitely gonna make different fillings because there are a multitude of possibilities for that. I will definitely keep you posted on what other fillings I try out. This one makes the entire dish very fresh, the herbs are definitely the main reason for that. Hope you enjoy the dish and thanks for reading.
A lazy Saturday afternoon lunch…

Today was one of the days where we actually woke up kind of early enough to have breakfast. But after some bagels and coffee Amit decided that he needed a late morning, early afternoon nap. So I decided that I would make some eggplant for lunch following the recipe that my Mom used to make at home.

I started making the eggplant and realized that I did not have a key ingredient, tomatoes. So I decided to improvise and make a different gravy. So instead of the onion tomato gravy that I was going to make for the eggplant, I decided to make a coconut onion gravy instead. And I am so glad I did not have tomatoes to make the original recipe; this one is just as good. It takes about 15-20 minutes to make the gravy and depending in how big a frying pan you have, about 5-10 minutes for each batch of eggplant slices. I had to fry the eggplant in about 4 batches so it took me about 30 minutes to be done with the frying, and the gravy was ready in the meanwhile. It takes close to 40-50 mins prepare the dish. It serves about 3 – 4 persons.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 large eggplant
  2. 1 tsp oil
  3. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  5. 1 onion
  6. 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  7. 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
  8. 1/2 cup thin coconut milk
  9. 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
  10. 1 tsp coriander powder
  11. salt to taste

For frying the eggplant

  1. oil
  2. 2 red chilli powder
  3. 2 tsp ginger powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp dried mango powder (amchur)
  5. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 1/4 tsp garam masala
  7. salt to taste
  8. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Directions:

  • Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices.
  • Mix the oil with the ingredients listed under ‘For frying the eggplant’. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with the oil mixed in with the dried spices.
  • Heat a pan and fry the slices on without any oil. The oil brushed on the slices to saute/fry  it.
  • While the slices are frying you start preparing the gravy.

  • Heat some oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and red chilli flakes.
  • Once the cumin seeds are browned add the chopped onions and fry it till it is browned slightly.
  • Next add the ginger garlic paste and cook till the raw smell of the ginger garlic paste is gone.
  • Now add the coriander powder and fry till the dry spice is cooked.
  • Next add the thin coconut milk and let it some to a simmer. Now add the chopped coriander leaves.
  • Once the coriander leaves are thoroughly mixed, add the thick coconut milk and salt and bring to a simmer.
  • Once the eggplant slices are all fried, transfer them to a baking dish.
  • Now pour the gravy over the eggplant slices in the baking dish.
  • Place the baking dish in the oven for about 10-20 minutes or till ready to serve.

Amit is my eggplant expert. He is the one who buys and makes eggplants for us at home. But today since he was taking a nap, I decided to make eggplant and he loved it. So it’s Amit certified!!! 🙂 Hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did. Its definitely different from the usual recipes I have made with eggplant before. Thank you for reading this post and have a great rest of the weekend.

In celebration of completing another major step towards my PhD!!!
I know I have been missing from my blog from a very long time. In fact it will be two months on the 22nd of August. But well I guess sometimes you just need to prioritize and you end up giving up the very thing that makes your life less stressful. But I can say one thing about the last two months, I did manage to accomplish two major milestones towards my doctoral degree; first – I submitted my PhD proposal and second – I completed the written part of my comprehensive exam. A couple more steps and I will be pretty close to officially completing my PhD program…

So in celebration of having completed all these milestones, I decided to make some chicken tikka masala tonight. In fact I was to start making it around 6:30 pm but thanks to the dust storm that rolled into Phoenix this evening, I was stuck at school for an hour more than I had planned.The chicken tikka masala essentially has two main ingredients, the gravy/masala and the chicken tikka. This recipe serves 4 persons and takes about an hour to prepare from start to finish if you make the chicken tikka and masala simultaneously.

Ingredients:

  1. 500 grams of boneless cubes of chicken
  2. 2 tbsp oil
  3. ½ tsp Cumin seeds
  4. 1 Bay leaf
  5. 2 Black cardamoms
  6. 3 Green cardamom
  7. 3 Cloves
  8. 1 inch Cinnamon
  9. 3 medium / 2 large Chopped onions
  10. 2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
  11. 3 chopped Tomatoes
  12. 1 ½ tsp Coriander powder
  13. 1 tbsp Red Chili powder
  14. ¼ tsp Turmeric
  15. Salt to taste
  16. 4 tbsp Cashewnut paste
  17. 1 Tomato (no pulp chopped into large chunks)
  18. 1 Green pepper / Capsicum chopped into large chunks
  19. 1 Onion chopped into large chunks
  20. 2 tbsp Cream
  21. ½ tsp Garam masala
  22. fresh Coriander for garnishing
  23. 1 tbsp lime juice

For the chicken marinade

  1. 1 tsp Ginger paste
  2. 1 tsp Garlic paste
  3. 1 tsp Chili powder
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 1 tbsp Lime juice
  6. 2 tbsp Oil
  7. 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  8. 1/4 tsp carom seeds / ajwain
  9. 2 tbsp Gram flour
  10. 1 cup Yogurt
  11. 1 tsp red Chili powder
  12. 2 tsp Ginger garlic paste
  13. ¼ tsp Turmeric
  14. Salt to taste
  15. ½ tsp Garam masala

Directions:

Chicken Tikka

  • Marinate the chicken in ingredients 1 to 5  under ‘For the chicken marinade’ for 20 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile heat the oil and add the carom seeds. Once the carom seeds start popping, add the gram flour and roast it till it is cooked through. There will be a nutty smell once the gram flour is cooked.
  • Now add this to the yogurt, red chili powder, ginger garlic paste, turmeric, salt and garam masala.
  • After 20 mins add the marinated chicken to the yogurt mixture.
  • Let the chicken marinate for about 2-3 hours. (I did not have 2-3 hrs. I managed to marinate it only for an hour or so)
  • Once the chicken is marinated long enough, oil a baking sheet and pre heat the oven to 425F.
  • Skewer the chicken cubes onto skewers and place the skewers on the baking sheet. The chicken will cook pretty fast, about 15-20 mins. After once side is cooked, turn over the chicken on the skewers. After about 10 mins, turn it over once again. It should be browned slightly on either side.
  • Add the chunks of tomato, green pepper and onions to the leftover marinade.
  • Set the chicken aside. You can start preparing the gravy while the chicken cooks.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, set the oven to the broiler setting and transfer the vegetables on the same baking sheet.
  • Once the vegetables brown remove them from the oven and set them aside.

For the Masala / Gravy

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Once the oil is hot add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, cardamom (black and green), cloves & cinnamon to it. Once the whole spices start imparting their fragrance, add the chopped onions.
  • Brown the onions and add the ginger garlic paste at the very end. Once the ginger garlic paste is also fried add the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are completely incorporated with the onions.
  • Next add the coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt. Let the dry spices cook through, it will take just a couple of minutes.
  • Once the dry spices are cooked through add the cashew paste and cook it for a couple of minutes till the oil starts separating from the mixture.
  • At this point add the chicken and mix thoroughly. You may want to add some water to the gravy at this point if it is too thick.
  • Let the gravy simmer for a couple of minutes then add the roasted vegetable chunks to the gravy. Mix the vegetables together and let it simmer for a couples of minutes.
  • Next add the cream, coriander leaves and lime juice to the gravy.
  • The chicken tikka masala is now ready to serve.

We had the chicken tikka masala with some naan and it was brilliant. Now no more craving for restaurant style chicken tikka masala. I can make it at home anytime. Though not too often, it’s not the healthiest of meals after all. But once in a while when you feel like indulging, its perfect. And I followed the recipe from the following link –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh-SZ1drOMc. One change I made to the recipe was that I roasted the vegetables before added it to the gravy.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did both making and eating it. And hopefully no more such long breaks from blogging for me. I can definitely say that cooking is my stress buster for sure. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you enjoy the chicken tikka masala.

Fish in Spinach Curry

I know I had promised I would not disappear for such long periods of time but I guess my PhD program does take precedence over all else… 🙂 But well I am back and this is gonna be a short post but a post nonetheless after one whole month. I had actually made this dish before I went on my one month sabbatical but never got down to posting the recipe. I love spinach and it’s healthy too. So why not combine some spinach with fish! And I do love all kinds of seafood so it  feels like the best combination…. And its takes about 30-45 minutes to make with about 20-30 minutes of active prep / cooking from your side.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 fish fillets (any kind cleaned and cut into four pieces each)
  2. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  3. 8 cups of spinach leaves
  4. 1 tomato (pureed)
  5. 1 1/2 onions (finely chopped)
  6. 4-5 cloves garlic (sliced fine)
  7. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  9. 3 teaspoon cumin powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  11. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  12. 2 teaspoons oil
  13. 1 cup water
  14. salt to taste

Directions:
  • Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil. Add the cumin seeds and when it sputters add the raw spinach leaves. Let the leaves wilt just a little; this takes about a minute.
  • Now transfer the spinach to the pureed tomato and puree the entire mixture together.
  • Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan and add the chopped onions to it. Once the onions soften a little add the sliced garlic.
  • Once the onion and garlic brown add the turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and fry for a minute.
  • Add the water and salt to this mixture and let it come to a simmer.
  • Now add the fish to this mixture and cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and let the fish cook in the mixture for another 5 minutes or till the fish is partially cooked.
  • Now add the spinach – tomato puree to the fish and cover the pan. Let is cook for about 10 minutes.
Your fish in spinach curry is ready to be served either with rice or bread. This recipe is a keeper as far as I am concerned specially for the weeknights. And it serves about 2-3 persons. I hope to be a little more regular now with my posts but I do not think it’s going to be possible till after I am done with my exams. For now, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Now I am gonna go have dinner – some fish in spinach gravy with bread…
Vegetable Stew
As I mentioned in my post a few days back, I celebrate the New year three times a year! And this is the third one in the year – Vishu. So Happy Vishu to everyone. We celebrated Vishu yesterday (15th April). So this is how we celebrate Vishu at home. The night before, Mom sets up the Vishu kanni. It has a plethora of things spread out for you to wake up to and see the first thing in the morning. There are fruits, grains, vegetables, yellow flowers, mirror, lamps, clothes, jewellery, etc.

I prepared everything the night before and was up before sunrise around 5:00 am – 5:15 am. I lit the lamps and candles and woke up Amit and asked him not to open his eyes till I told him to. At home Mom used to do the waking up everyone part. And then the best part of Vishu, everyone gets money from the head of the household. As kids, you can imagine how exciting that part used to be. Oh yes and then the firecrackers early in the morning. When we lived in Bombay, we never did that but in Kerala that’s how it is celebrated. You burst firecrackers to ring in the new year.

And then of course there was a delicious spread of food for lunch. Since I am in a bit of a time crunch with the whole proposal defense thing, I decided to go with appam and stew for dinner and pradavan for dessert. The stew is one of the easiest dishes I have made and its so delicious. And it is so versatile because you could make a vegetable stew like I did, or you could switch the vegetables with chicken, mutton or fish. This stew goes best with appams or palappam like they are called. The appam recipe is for another post. Today I will be blogging about the vegetable stew. This is a very easy recipe with a few ingredients and it takes about 30 mins to make. And this recipe serves about 2-3 persons.
Ingredients:
  1. 2 potatoes (chopped into 1/2″ cubes)
  2. 1 medium carrot (same size as the potato)
  3. 1 small onion (thinly sliced)
  4. 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  5. 1/2″ ginger (crushed)
  6. 2-3 green chillies (slit lengthwise) (to taste)
  7. 1 sprig curry leaves
  8. 3 cloves
  9. 1″ piece of cinnamon
  10. 2-3 bay leaves
  11. 4-5 whole black pepper
  12. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  13. 1/2 – 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper powder
  14. 1 can coconut milk
  15. 1 teaspoon oil
  16. salt to taste
Method:
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  • Then add the whole spices and fry for a minute.
  • Add the onions and fry for s couple of minutes.
  • Next add the ginger, garlic and curry leaves and fry the mixture till the onions are light brown.
  • Now add the coriander powder.
  • Next add the potatoes and carrots and mix till the onion mixture and vegetables are completely mixed.
  • Mix half the can of coconut milk with about a can of water and set it aside. Next add the salt and black pepper to the vegetable mixture. Add this coconut milk to the saucepan and let the vegetables cook completely.
  • Once the vegetables are cooked add about 1/4 cup of coconut milk and let it come to a simmer. Do not boil the stew once you add the coconut milk.

I served the stew hot with appams which Amit actually made. And yes Happy Vishu once again… Hope you enjoy the appam and stew as much as we loved it. And I will be trying to make the appam at home from scratch and posting that soon. And oh yeah, the pradavan recipe too.  So here’s to an awesome new year!
Broccoli and Sausage in Garlic Cream sauce

Amit was out-of-town this weekend and I was too bored to cook for just me. But I picked up some broccoli at Safeway yesterday and since he hates broccoli, I decided to finish it before he got back. I am not a big fan of broccoli either, so I had to have it with something I really love. That’s sausages, but again, they are rather unhealthy so I decided to combine the broccoli with some chicken sausages. And then I had to make some  garlic cream sauce to go with the broccoli and sausage. I love garlic…

And I have to dedicate this post to one of my closest friends, Muthu, who is miles away in Zurich now. But when she was here in the US, she used to be the one who used to have all the broccoli when we went out to eat and forgot to tell the waitress not to put broccoli in our dish. She is going to be very proud of me for making broccoli at home. I used to be worried that it would turn all soggy and that I would not like. But as it turns out, not only is broccoli healthy, it is also very quick and easy to make.

This recipe takes about half hour from start to finish. You could serve it with a pasta or bread. I had just this for a light and quick dinner. I would say, that if you are serving this with a pasta or bread, it would serve 2 persons. I had just this for dinner and it was definitely a single serving.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 floret broccoli
  2. 2  chicken sausages (cut into 1/4 inch thick slices)
  3. 6-7 garlic cloves (sliced)
  4. 1 tablespoon sun dried tomato
  5. 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  6. 1/2 tsp oregano
  7. 1/2-1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  8. 1/4 cup water
  9. 1/4 cup cream
  10. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  11. salt to taste
  12. 1 bowl iced water
  13. shredded parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

  • Bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil. Add salt to the water and once the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli florets and let it cook for 1 minute.
  • Immediately after a minute, drain the broccoli out of the water and put it into the bowl of iced water.
  • Heat the olive oil and add the garlic and sun-dried tomato. Saute the garlic and sun-dried tomato till the garlic turns brown.
  • Next add the oregano, red chilli flakes and pepper powder.
  • Mix the ingredients together and add 1/4 cup water.
  • Once the water starts simmering add the cream and mix throughly.
  • Transfer this sauce to a serving bowl and saute the broccoli in the same saucepan for a couple of minutes.
  • Now transfer the broccoli to the serving bowl over the garlic cream sauce.
  • Next saute the sliced chicken sausages in the saucepan till browned on both sides.
  • Now transfer the chicken sausage over the broccoli.
  • Top with some parmesan cheese and serve hot either by itself or with some pasta or bread.

I loved this dish. It has the healthy broccoli and the tasty sausage. The combination is mind blowing and the garlic sauce is very flavorful. And the dish looks very colorful thanks to the bright green of the broccoli.

I am still unpacking so am still trying to locate the batteries for my camera. So sorry about the pictures. I promise, I will have better pictures for my next post.

Puranpoli with Katachi Amti

I am not a big fan of Holi. When I was in high school, I once got an allergic reaction to the Holi colors and have never been able to play Holi ever again. But that does not mean that I do not enjoy the food that’s made for Holi. I just stay away from the colors. For Amit, Holi is complete only if there is homemade puranpoli and I definitely did not want him to have an incomplete Holi. No colors does not mean no puranpoli. So I decided to make some puranpoli with katachi amti for lunch today. I definitely have my own recipe for the puranpoli but I do not have a recipe of my own for the katachi amti. So I found this recipe on a blog which I really liked and have tweaked just a little bit to my liking. I have linked the blog at the end of my post.

I was able to make about 10 puranpolis with this recipe. But the puranpolis were pretty big about 7 to 8 inches in diameter. And the Katachi Amti recipe makes about 6 small bowls.

Ingredients:

For the Puranpoli dough

  1. 1.5 cups wheat flour
  2. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  3. 2 teaspoons oil
  4. pinch of salt
  5. water for the dough

For the Puranpoli filling

  1. 1 cup chana dal
  2. 1 cup jaggery (more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
  3. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  4. 1.5 teaspoon cardamom powder

For the Katachi Amti

  1. 3 cups chana dal water
  2. 1.5 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
  3. 2 teaspoon Goda Masala / Garam Masala
  4. 2 – 4 teaspoon Tamarind paste
  5. 3 teaspoon Jaggery
  6. 2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds, roasted
  7. 3-4 tablespoon coconut, grated and roasted
  8. 1 piece Cinnamon
  9. 2 bay leaves
  10. 8-10 curry leaves
  11. 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  12. 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  13. A pinch of asafoetida
  14. Salt to taste
  15. 2-3 tsp Coriander / cilantro, chopped
  16. Oil
  17. Water

Directions:

For the Puranpoli

  • Boil the chana dal in about 4-5 cups of water. You could cook the chana dal in a pressure cooker or like I did in a normal pan with a lid. It took me about 20-30 minutes to cook the chana dal.
  • In the meanwhile I prepared the dough by mixing all the ingredients together except the water. Add the water and knead the dough. Make sure that the dough is soft and easy to roll out. Set the dough aside and prepare the puranpoli filling in the meanwhile. Cover the dough with a moist paper towel or kitchen towel.
  • Divide the dough and the puran / filling into 8-10 equal portions. Take one of the portions of the dough and roll it out 3-4 inches. Next take one portion of the filling and place it in the center.
  • Seal the filling inside the dough by bringing together the sides. Roll out the dough 8-10 inches to form a even poli.
  • Heat the pan to medium high and make the polis by flipping each side about 1-2 times.
  • Once the chana dal is cooked, strain the chana dal and set aside the water. Mash the chana dal in the same bowl on a low flame. Then and add the jaggery, nutmeg and cardamom to it and mix well. Heat the mixture till the puran is a soft and dry but can still be formed into small balls. Let this cool.
  • In the meanwhile make the amti by bringing the chana dal water to a simmer. Add the red chilli powder, goda masala / garam masala, tamarind paste and jaggery and bring to boil.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, grind the roasted cumin seeds and coconut to a fine powder. Add this to the chana dal water once it comes to a boil. Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and let it simmer.
  • Next heat a couple of teaspoons of oil and add the asafoetida, mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
  • Once the mustard seeds start to sputter add the cinnamon, bay leaves and curry leaves and let it fry for a minute or two. Now transfer this to the chana dal water and let it simmer for a few more minutes. Now add salt to taste.
  • Check the amti and adjust the spices to your liking. Add more jaggery, tamarind or red chilli powder depending on how sweet, sour or spicy you like your amti. Add more water if it gets too thick. Garnish with the coriander / cilantro leaves.
  • Serve the puranpolis with the amti with a blob of ghee.

And here’s the blog where I found the recipe for the amti: http://aartiscorner.blogspot.com/2007/06/katachi-aamti.html.

It felt, oh so good, to have the puranpolis for lunch on Holi. Almost felt like we were back home! Hope you enjoy this recipe as much I enjoyed making and eating it. And Happy Holi to Everyone!!! Spring is definitely here, the tree just outside our patio is all green now, it was barren just a week back! Though this also  means that summer is just around the corner, I prefer to enjoy the weather today when it is just perfect here in AZ.

Shrimp in Green Sauce

So as promised in my post a few days back, here is the second recipe that I came up with for the shrimp. I guess there are some things from your roots you are rarely able to get away from. Like my love for black pepper. My family is originally from a town called Tellicherry in Kerala. And it’s famous for its black pepper. I never realized that the black pepper from back home was sold at a premium here in the US. You find Tellicherry black pepper in gourmet aisles. And to think of it, my grandma’s home in Tellicherry had a pepper tree that I barely remember. Well I do remember it but I guess it’s only when you can no more see it every summer vacation that you miss it. I really miss those month-long summer vacations in Kerala. My cousins and I have some pretty awesome memories from those long past days.

Anyways to get back to my shrimp recipe, I love pepper and I love using it in most of my recipes rather than chilli powder. I love the spicy hotness black pepper leaves behind in your throat. So if you are not one who loves black pepper, just hold back on the amount you put in. But you may miss out on the essential taste of this dish if you put too less of it. I used sweet sake and pepper as two main ingredients because the final taste that this dish leaves behind is the sweetness of the sake and the hotness of the black pepper. And to add to it, it a pretty quick to make recipe. It took me about half hour to make it, specially since I had deveined, tail off shrimp at home.

I used about 30-40 medium-sized shrimp and it served about 2-3 persons for a very filling meal.

Ingredients:

  1. 30 – 40 medium-sized shrimp / prawns
  2. 1 sprig curry leaves
  3. 1 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  4. 18-20 green onions (white part chopped, green part cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  5. 2 teaspoons chopped tarragon
  6. 2 green chillies, chopped (use more or less depending on how spicy you want the dish, you also skip this entirely and add just the black pepper powder)
  7. 3 teaspoons garlic paste
  8. 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (use normal soy sauce of low sodium is unavailable)
  9. 1 tablespoon spicy schezuan stir fry sauce (you could skip this entirely, I have made it with and without this sauce and both versions taste great)
  10. 1/2 cup sweet sake (you could substitute this with some sort of sweet cooking wine)
  11. 1 – 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock / water
  12. 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  13. 1/2 – 1 cup chopped coriander / cilantro
  14. 2 teaspoons olive oil (you could substitute this with vegetable / canola oil)

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a wide bottomed sauce pan. Once hot, add the mustard seeds.
  • Once the seeds start to sputter add the curry leaves and green chilli and stir for a few seconds.
  • Next add the white part of the green onions and stir fry for a couple of minutes, till it softens.
  • Then add the green part of the green onions and stir for a few minutes till it has softened.
  • Next add the garlic paste and fry till the raw smell of garlic and gone. This would take a couple of minutes at the most.
  • Now add the soya sauce, the spicy schezuan stir fry sauce (if using) and the sweet sake and bring to a simmer.
  • Next add the shrimp to this sauce and let it cook. If you want a dry dish without any gravy, do not add the vegetable stock / water.
  • But if you would like a dish with more gravy in it, add the vegetable stock/water depending on how much sauce you would like.
  • Once the shrimp has almost cooked, add the black pepper and the coriander / cilantro leaves and stir it. Let cook for a couple of minutes and take it off the heat.

I served this with some bread, but you can serve it as an appetizer if you reduce the gravy or with rice if you increase the sauce by adding more of the vegetable stock / water. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as Amit and I did. I have made it a couple of times now and this is one recipe that’s quick and easy to make. And I still have the third of the trilogy to post, which I will very soon.

And I just realized that this post is right on time for St. Patrick’s day and what a coincidence that the dish is Shrimp in GREEN sauce!!! So Happy St. Patrick’s day to everyone. Have fun, be safe and don’t drink and drive!

Papas Rellenas & Tofu Ceviche

It’s that time of the month again…. Time for the March Daring Cooks Challenge. Last month was Japanese cuisine and this month it’s Peruvian cuisine. As each month goes by, I am beyond happy that I chose to join the Daring Cooks. I definitely had never before eaten Peruvian cuisine and neither had I got a chance to make Peruvian food. So when the March challenge was announced, I was really excited as it was something really new for me!

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

The Ceviche is a raw seafood dish. I love seafood but am not particularly excited by the thought of raw seafood. And then there was someone on daring cooks, who made the ceviche with tofu. I loved the idea so decided to make vegetarian ceviche with tofu instead of the seafood. As far as the Papas Rellenas is concerned, I made them with ground turkey. I also added half an egg at the center if the Papas Rellenas which again is something that some of the other daring cooks came up with. So here are the recipes for the Ceviche and the Papas Rellenas.

The Papas Rellenas were a BIG hit. It’s also so versatile as you can make them vegetarian, or change the meat to beef, chicken, pork, etc. I am sure I am going to make different variations of this very soon. I hope you too enjoy these Peruvian treasures as much as I did.

Papas Rellenas

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  1. 2¼ lb (1 kg) russet potatoes
  2. 1 large egg

For the filling:

  1. 2 tablespoon (30 ml) of a light flavored oil
  2. ½ lb (250 grams) ground (minced) turkey
  3. 6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives) – I am not very fond of olives, so I skipped this
  4. 3 hard boiled large eggs (halved)
  5. 1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup (240 ml))
  6. ½ cup (120 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) raisins, soaked in 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
  7. 1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less) – I used thai pepper
  8. 2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more)
  9. 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)
  10. ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika¼ c. white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing
  11. Salt and pepper to taste

For the final preparation:

  1. 1 large egg, beaten
  2. 1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
  3. Dash cayenne pepper
  4. Dash salt
  5. 1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs (you can use regular, panko, make your own or use store-bought)
  6. Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)

Directions:

In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling.  While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.”  In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.

For the dough:

  • Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork.  Remove them from the water and cool.
  • Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
  • Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.

While the potatoes cool down before finishing the dough, you can make the filling:

  • Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes.
  • Add ground turkey and brown
  • Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
  • Deglaze the pan with white wine / stock. I used vegetable stock.
  • Add olives and cook for a few moments longer.
  • Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”

Forming and frying the papas:

  • Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt.  In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water.  Put bread crumbs in the third
  • Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
  • Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center.
  • Then place half an egg inside the filling, then place more of the filling over the egg and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling.  Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).
  • Heat 1 ½ – 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 – 190°C).5. Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
  • Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.
  • Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.
  • Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately.

I did not use any sauce, the Papas were really delicious just by itself.

Salsa Criolla

Ingredients:

  1. 2 medium red onions, cut in half and very thinly sliced (as half-circles)
  2. 1/2 chili pepper (your preference)
  3. 1 tablespoon vinegar
  4. Juice from 1 lime
  5. Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the onions in cold salt water for about 10 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the onions with the rest of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the onions to macerate and the flavors to combine.

Vegetarian Ceviche

Ingredients:

  1. 2 lbs. (about 1 kg) firm tofu (white fish (scallops or other seafood may be substituted) for the original ceviche)
  2. 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  3. 1 chili pepper, minced (Aji if you can find it, but Jalapeno or other peppers can sub)
  4. 1 cup (240 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (between 8-12 limes)Fresh juice only, no bottled.  Can use lemons in lieu of limes.
  5. 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (4 grams) (1/8 oz) fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  6. 1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  7. Salt and pepper (to taste)

Garnish:

  1. 1 large sweet potato
  2. 1 large ear of corn
  3. Lettuce leaves

Directions:

  • Boil sweet potato and corn (separately) if using for garnish.  Allow to cool. (Can be done hours or even a day in advance)
  • (Wash and trim your fish if making the original ceviche).  Slice into pieces between ½ inch (15 mm) cubes to 2 inch (50mm) pieces.
  • Place tofu / fish in a non-reactive, shallow pan in a thin layer.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Combine lime juice, chili pepper, coriander and garlic.  Pour mixture over tofu / fish.  Stir lightly to expose all the tofu / fish to some of the lime juice mixture.
  • Put sliced onion on top of tofu / fish as it “cooks”.
  • Let tofu / fish stand for 10 minutes.  Lift tofu / fish out of the lime juice and plate individual portions , garnishing with lettuce, slices of sweet potato and slices or kernels of corn if using.

This can be served either as a starter or as a main dish. I preferred it as a starter and it was an absolutely fresh and light starter.

Egg Curry

When I was a kid I used to hate eggs in any form. I just hated them, but then I grew up and started cooking and realized that it was a pretty quick to fix meal. That’s when I decided that I do not hate eggs anymore!!! I am not an egg lover just yet but I do make it more often than not. And it’s not something I shy away from cooking anymore. It amazing how eggs are cooked so different in India versus the US. This recipe is an egg curry which is really quick and easy to make and Amit’s verdict was that it is ‘blog-able’. And add to it I loved it cos thought I do not hate eggs anymore I am still very picky about how they are prepared!

It took me about 30 minutes to prepare this dish and you can eat it with rice, bread or chappatis (indian bread). I would say that it’s a very easy recipe, one which you make when you are really hungry and want something quick to eat.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 hard boiled eggs cut into halves
  2. 1/2 onion (sliced)
  3. 1/2 tomato (chopped)
  4. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  5. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 1 teaspoon chilli powder (increase or reduce to taste)
  7. 1 tsp coriander powder
  8. 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  9. 1/2 tsp garam masala
  10. 1 – 2 cups vegetable stock ( you could substitute with water or any other stock)
  11. 1/4 cup coconut milk
  12. coriander leaves (for garnish)
  13. 2 teaspoon oil
  14. 1 tsp fenugreek leaves
  15. salt to taste

Directions:

  • Add a teaspoon of the oil and add the onions to the saucepan. Cover and let the onions fry to a dark brown color.
  • Add a few teaspoons of the stock / water to deglaze the pan once the onions are browned.
  • Next add the tomatoes and let it soften for a few minutes.
  • Now remove from the saucepan and transfer to a food processor. Add a 1/4 cup stock / water and process the onion and tomato to a fine paste.
  • In the meanwhile heat the rest of the oil. Add cumin seeds and once they sputter add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder and cumin powder and fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Next add the onion-tomato paste back into the saucepan and mix well.
  • Let it simmer for a couple of minutes then add the coconut milk, the fenugreek leaves and the rest of the stock. You may add less or more of the stock according to how thick or thin you like the gravy.
  • Let the gravy come to a boil then lower the flame and add the halves of the hard boiled eggs.
  • Now add the coriander leaves as garnish and serve hot with any bread / rice of your choice.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. And it took about 30 minutes from start to finish. I prepared the hard boiled eggs while I was preparing the gravy so the eggs were ready to be put into the gravy by the time the gravy was ready. I hard boil the eggs by immersing the eggs in water and placing the pan on the gas. One the water comes to a boil let it keep boiling for about 5 minutes. Then remove from the gas and keep covered for 10-15 minutes. Next immerse the eggs in ice water for 10 minutes before removing the shell.

This serves 2-3 persons depending on the number of eggs you add to the gravy. And remember to add the salt at the end after tasting the gravy specially if you are using stock. As many of the store bought stocks have some amount of added salt in it.

Bye for now and I’ll be back very soon with the March Daring Cooks challenge recipe.

Rotini Pasta with Chipotle Cream Sauce and Spicy, Garlicky Shrimp

There is this new restaurant (well its not exactly new, we’ve started frequenting it recently) that Amit and I frequently go to for lunch. It’s called the Center Bistro and its in the building right next to our lab. We went to eat there twice the week before last and both the dishes I ordered were so awesome that I had to make a variation at home. One dish I tried was a pasta dish with a chipotle sauce. I simply loved it. It was just right with all the flavors coming together and creating a heavenly experience for your taste buds. And then there was the spicy garlicky shrimp. It was fabulous and it seemed to be a pretty easy to make dish. So this post is dedicated to these two dishes that I had at Center Bistro.

I decided to combine the two dishes and make a pasta topped with the shrimp. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Oh and talking about this restaurant, I love it, firstly because the dishes they serve are so different from any I have had at any other restaurants. And they do change their menu once in a while so if you do frequent the place regularly, just when you wish for something new, they change-up their whole menu. Add to it, the fact that they have the Chef’s specials every day.

I also need to mention that shrimp is by far my most favorite. I love seafood much more than any meat and among all the variety of seafood available, I love shrimp, really love it. I think you get my point. I bought about two pounds of shrimp and I do not like to keep it in the refrigerator for too long. So it was a fiesta of shrimp dishes at home for about 3 days! I tried three new recipes and all three according to Amit are blogworthy or “bloggable”.

Without much more ado let me get straight to the first of the trilogy starting with my recipe of Rotini Pasta with Chipotle Cream Sauce and Spicy Garlicky Shrimp. This is a very quick to make recipe and takes about 35-45 minutes to prepare. I adapted it from a recipe I found online and have linked it at the end of this blog.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 1/2 cup rotini pasta (I used whole grain pasta)
  2. 5-6 portabella mushrooms (sliced fine)
  3. 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  4. 1/4-1/3 cup white wine
  5. 1+1 tablespoons butter
  6. 1/2 onion (chopped fine)
  7. 1 to 2 chipotle peppers (canned) in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
  8. 1/4 pint heavy cream
  9. 1/4 cup milk
  10. salt to taste
  11. 1/4 teaspoon fresh tarragon (chopped fine)
  12. 1/2 pound shrimp (deveined, shelled, tail on)

For the Shrimp Marinade

  1. 2 teaspoons garlic paste
  2. 2 teaspoons ginger paste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  4. 2 teaspoons fresh chopped tarragon
  5. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  6. salt to taste

Method

  • Cook the pasta and set aside.
  • Marinate the shrimp in the ingredients listed under ‘For the shrimp marinade’ except the olive oil.
  • In the meanwhile prepare the chipotle sauce: melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and saute till it is slightly brown.
  • Next add half the minced chipotle peppers and the cream.
  • Mix the milk in and add more chipotle pepper depending on how spicy you would like the sauce.
  • Next add the salt and the tarragon and bring to a simmer. The sauce is now ready (keep it warm till ready to serve).
  • Heat the other tablespoon of butter and add the thinly sliced onions. Let the onions cook slowly over a medium heat.
  • Once the onions are pink in color add the sliced mushrooms and let it cook till the mushrooms and onions start drying out.
  • Add the white wine a little at a time cooking the mushrooms and onions in the wine.
  • Once it is cooked, add the cooked pasta and mix throughly. Set this aside.
  • Heat the olive oil and add the shrimp to it. Cook thoroughly till the shrimp are cooked through. Make sure that you do not overcook the shrimp.
  • When ready to serve, spoon the pasta into the serving plate. Pour the sauce over the pasta and place the shrimp over the sauce.

This recipe serves about 2-3 persons. Another word of caution is that the chipotle peppers can be very spicy therefore be very careful with adding the peppers to the sauce. Amit and I loved this recipe and the sauce being so easy to prepare can be served as is wth the pasta with or without the shrimp. And here’s the original recipe for the pasta and chipotle cream sauce http://www.azcentral.com/style/hfe/recipes/articles/0717vegetarian17rec.html.

Hiyashi Soba and Tempura

I had never tried Japanese food till a year back. I was introduced to it by a couple of our friends. They introduced me to Sushi, for some reason I had never tried it. But the moment I tried it, I fell in love with it. So when the February Daring Bakers Challenge was to be a Japanese dish I was more than excited to try it out. The reason being that I always end up having just the Sushi when we go out for Japanese food. The Cold Soba Salad & Tempura were so tempting that I had to try making it immediately. I made it almost as soon as the challenge was posted on the site. But am late posting it as I was busy making Valentine’s day dinner yesterday. And was too tired at the end of the day cause it was a Monday so I had to go to my Internship which is 40 minutes away and then I went shopping and then made dinner. So it was a long day.

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com.


It takes about 35-45 minutes to prepare the Soba and about an hour or less to prepare the Tempura. The time you take to prepare the Tempura depends on the amount of Tempura you are making.

Thanks Lisa from Blueberry girl, this was an amazing challenge. So easy to make yet delicious and satisfying. Thumbs up for the awesome February challenge… And here’s to another successful daring bakers challenge! I am sorry about the pictures. I was in such a rush to eat that I really messed up the pictures.

Hiyashi Soba

Ingredients:

  1. 2 quarts (2 L) water + 1 cup cold water, separate
  2. 12 oz (340 g) dried soba (buckwheat) noodles (or any Asian thin noodle)

Directions:

Cooking the Noodle:

  • Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to
    separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.
  • Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool.  This not only stops the cooking process, but also removes the starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside allowing them to cool completely.

Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce:

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups (480ml) Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores and you can make
    your own. Recipe is HERE.) Or a basic vegetable stock.
  2. 1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce
  3. 1/3 cup (80 ml) mirin (sweet rice wine) (If you can’t find Mirin, a substitute recipe can be found HERE)

Directions:

  • Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Spicy Dipping Sauce:

Ingredients:

  1. ¾ cup 70gm/2½ oz spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
  2. 3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
  3. 2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
  4. ½ teaspoon  (2½ ml) (4 ⅔ gm) (0.16 oz)  granulated sugar
  5. ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) (0.005 oz) English mustard powder
  6. 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grape-seed oil or vegetable oil
  7. 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil (if you can’t find this just omit from recipe.)
  8. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – roughly 1/3  a teaspoon of each

Directions:

  • Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

Common Hiyashi Soba Toppings:

  1. Thin omelet strips
  2. Ham
  3. Boiled chicken breasts
  4. Cucumber
  5. Boiled bean sprouts
  6. Tomatoes
  7. Toasted nori (Dried Seaweed)
  8. Green onions
  9. Wasabi powder
  10. Finely grated daikon (Japanese radish)
  11. Beni Shoga (Pickled Ginger)

All toppings should be julienne, finely diced or grated.  Prepare and refrigerate covered until needed.

Serving:

Traditionally soba is served on a bamboo basket tray, but if you don’t have these, you can simply serve them on a plate or in a bowl. Divide up the noodles, laying them on your serving dishes. Sprinkle each one with nori. In small side bowl or cup, place 1/2 cup (120 ml) of dipping sauce into each. In separate small side dishes, serve each person a small amount of wasabi, grated daikon, and green onions.The noodles are eaten by sprinkling the desired garnishes into the dipping sauce and eating the noodles by first dipping them into the sauce. Feel free to slurp away! Oishii!

Tempura:

Ingredients:

  1. 1 egg yolk from a large egg
  2. 1 cup (240 ml) iced water
  3. ½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
  4. ½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) cornflour  (also called cornstarch)
  5. ½ teaspoon  (2½ ml) (2½ gm) (0.09 oz) baking powder
  6. oil, for deep frying preferably vegetable
  7. ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used.  Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)
  8. Very cold vegetables and seafood of your choice:
    • Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
    • Carrot, peeled, thinly sliced diagonally
    • Pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, thinly sliced blanched
    • Green beans, trimmed
    • Green bell pepper/capsicum, seeds removed, cut into 2cm (¾ inch)-wide strips
    • Assorted fresh mushrooms
    • Eggplant cut into strips (traditionally it’s fanned)
    • Onions sliced

Directions:

  • Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined.  The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. Itis more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.
  • Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter.  Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.
  • Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.
  • Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.
Sweet Potatoes with Italian Sausage Cream Gravy

Yesterday was a long day, with a seminar class, then research and then a farewell dinner for a friend and then some games and drinks with friends. So that resulted in a late morning for us. I wanted something quick for lunch and while I was making the morning coffee I put a couple of microwaveable sweet potatoes in the microwave. They were done in 10 minutes. Once I was done with my morning coffee, I decided to go ahead and make lunch. Or maybe brunch, because this was both breakfast and lunch for us.

Now that the main dish was ready and I also had some focacia bread ready to be popped into the oven. It was going to be ready in less than 10 minutes. So I decided to make some gravy for the sweet potato. Since there were some hot italian sausages in the freezer I decided to use them up for the gravy. The gravy takes about 20 minutes to prepare and the sweet potatoes, well they are ready by the time the gravy is ready. It serves 2-3 persons.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 large sweet potatoes (cooked)
  2. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  3. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  4. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  5. 2 italian hot sausages (casing removed)
  6. 1/2 cup red wine
  7. 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  8. 1 tomato (chopped fine)
  9. 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  10. 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

Directions:

  1. Cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave till cooked.
  2. Heat the olive oil and cook the italian sausage using a wooden spoon. This will cause the sausage to crumble. Cook till, it is completely cooked.
  3. Remove the sausages from the saucepan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to remove excess oil.
  4. Spoon out any excess oil from the saucepan, then add the red wine to the saucepan.
  5. Once the red wine starts simmering add the tomatoes to it and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Next add the cooked sausages back to the saucepan and let it simmer for 7-9 minutes.
  7. Add the cream and the coriander leaves and mix together.
  8. Remove the saucepan from heat and serve with the sweet potatoes.

I served the sweet potatoes and italian sausage gravy with some focacia bread. Oh and the sweet potatoes were such a beautiful orange color. It was a feast for the taste buds and the eyes. This was a pretty quick and satisfying lunch. I know this one goes into my repertoire of quick to make meals. This is for all those who want to make lunch without spending a long time in the kitchen. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. And I am sorry about the quality of the pictures, for some reason my camera refused to work. And I had to use my phone camera. Hopefully it isn’t all that bad.

Pav Bhaji

Who hasn’t had eaten street food and wondered why it tastes “oh so good”. Somehow it never is the same when cooked at home. I have always wanted to make pav bhaji at home that tastes like the pav bhaji you get at restaurants and street side stalls. In this never-ending quest of mine, I have made pav bhaji a zillion times but never managed to make something close enough to the pav bhaji you get in Bombay. That is till I saw the video of the pav bhaji being made at a stall at Juhu beach. I have seen them make it so many times but you don’t exactly pay attention to the exact process and ingredients. I have posted the video at the end of this post for anyone interested in watching the exact process. I have tried making this recipe a few times now and it has been a hit each time I have followed the steps as per the video. In the video they do not give exact measurements, but after having made this half a dozen times now, I have managed to decide on the exact amounts for all the ingredients.

The recipe from start to finish takes about an hour if you have to start with boiling the vegetables etc. If you do have all the chopped and cooked vegetables at hand, then it should take you about half hour to prepare. This recipe yields pav bhaji for 2-3 persons.

Ingredients:

For the Bhaji

  1. 2/3 cup chopped green pepper (Capsicum)
  2. 2 1/2 medium-sized boiled potatoes
  3. 2 tomatoes
  4. 2/3 cup cooked green peas
  5. 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  6. 2 + 1 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
  7. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 1.5 + 1 teaspoon pav bhaji masala
  9. 2 + 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  10. 2 tablespoons butter
  11. 2 teaspoons oil
  12. 2/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  13. 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
  14. 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  15. 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
  16. salt to taste

For the Masala Pav

  1. 6 dinner rolls / pav
  2. butter (to spread on the bread)
  3. 1 teaspoon pav bhaji masala
  4. 1 tablespoon coriander leaves
  5. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

Directions:

  • Heat some oil in a flat pan. Add the green pepper / capsicum. Add water to soften it. Keep adding enough water to cook the green pepper without burning it.
  • Once the green pepper has softened and cooked, add the chopped tomatoes, boiled potatoes, cooked green peas, 1 teaspoon red chilli powder, 2 tablespoons ginger – garlic paste & 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder.
  • Add enough water (about 1/2 cup) and allow the vegetables to cook and prevent it from sticking to pan. Keep adding enough water to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add 1 teaspoon butter and stir till the butter has melted.
  • Mash all the vegetables till it’s a soft paste.
  • Add 1.5 teaspoons pav bhaji masala, salt and 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves to this and let it simmer for a few minutes.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a separate pan. Add the chopped onions, 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste, 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon pav bhaji masala, dried fenugreek leaves, hing (asafoetida), 2 tablespoons coriander leaves and lime juice.
  • Fry this mixture for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add this onion mixture to the vegetable mixture.Continue mashing the vegetables together till all the vegetables form a smooth paste.
  • The Bhaji is now ready to be served.

For the Masala Pav

  • Pre heat the oven at the broiler setting.
  • Slice the bread / dinner rolls / pav into two halves. Spread butter on each side.
  • Meanwhile heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan (you can use the same pan you used to fry the onions). Add the pav bhaji masala, red chilli powder and coriander leaves to this and fry it for a couple of minutes.
  • Now spread this on the bread / pav / dinner rolls.
  • Place the bread in the oven on the top rack of the oven. The bread is ready in a couple of minutes or less, therefore so keep a very close eye on the bread.
  • Once the bread is ready, serve the Pav Bhaji with some onions, lime wedges and some coriander leaves as garnish.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I loved making it. I think it came very close to the food I have eaten in Bombay. I quote Amit here, he called it “awesome and brilliant”. This is a spicy pav bhaji recipe. Just spicy enough to make you want to drink something cold along with the pav bhaji.

Oh and here’s the You Tube video. Watch this video if you want to see how exactly pav bhaji is made at the street side stalls.

Vegetable and Italian Sausage Casserole

I know I have once again managed to disappear but I guess that’s going to be the case for the next couple of months. My PhD program is at last coming to an end (hopefully). So now I have a research proposal to submit in March and then a written and oral proposal defense right after that. So March is pretty much going to be a very, very busy month. As for now I will try my best to post atleast once every week. This afternoon I wanted to make something quick and easy before we left for the lab. I was searching for ingredients in the refrigerator and the pantry. I found some onions, potatoes, green peas, sausages and some eggs. Obviously these ingredients come together best in a casserole. I also like to add a little crispness to the casserole, like a pie crust.

It took about 45-55 minutes to prepare, cook and bake this dish. It will easily serve about 4-5 persons.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 gold potatoes (chopped into 1/2 inch pieces)
  2. 1 small red onion (sliced)
  3. 1 cup green peas
  4. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  5. 1/2 cup chopped coriander
  6. 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
  7. 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  8. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  10. 2 hot Italian sausages (Use more if you like more meat in the casserole)
  11. 4 tablespoons of grated cheese
  12. 3 eggs
  13. 1/4 cup flour
  14. 1/4 cup milk
  15. 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions

  • Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil and add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter add 1/2 teaspoon, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the chopped coriander leaves. Stir the spices and the coriander leaves together. 
  • Now add the sliced red onions and saute the onions till they soften (about 5 minutes).
  • Next add the potatoes and the green peas and stir till all the spices and the vegetables mix together thoroughly.
  • Add a few teaspoons of water and cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile prepare a baking dish by applying 1/2 teaspoon of butter all over the dish.
  • Once the vegetables have softened, transfer the vegetables into the baking dish.
  • Remove the cover from the sausages and crush it into small pieces.
  • Cove the sausages in a pan till thoroughly cooked, then transfer it into the baking dish over the layer of vegetables.
  • Sprinkle the grated cheese over the sausages.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 374 degree F.
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the flour, milk, cream, and remaining salt and pepper to it.
  • Pour this mixture over the sausages and bake the casserole for about 25-35 minutes or till the crust is a golden brown.
  • To test if the casserole is completely baked, insert a toothpick into the casserole and if it comes out clean, it’s ready to be taken out of the oven.

We loved the casserole and I am definitely going to try different combinations of vegetables, spices and meat. And this is definitely a recipe that I am going to repeat pretty often. Hope you enjoy the recipe too. And I am definitely going to try my best to atleast post one recipe every week. There is a pav bhaji recipe that I most definitely have to post soon. Which I will because I have a lot of potatoes leftover from my last trip to the grocery store.

Fish and Potatoes in Red Curry Sauce

I have been away from my blog for a few days now. Well it’s not because I have been lazy, it’s more because I have had too many things happening all around me. Just never found the time to get to my blog. Also, Amit and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary last week. But am back now.

Last week we bought a lot of fish and I really needed to finish it before it got stale. I remember seeing a fish recipe which had some potatoes in them, so thought of doing just that. Though I do not remember the recipe but the idea of putting fish and potatoes together in the same dish intrigued me. For the red curry sauce I made a few changes to the recipe I found at a website which I have linked at the end of my blog. So here’s my own version of fish and potatoes in red curry sauce recipe.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 tilapia fillets
  2. 1 small potato
  3. 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  4. 4 garlic cloves (chopped fine)
  5. 3 sweet peppers (small) (chopped fine)
  6. 1 cup chopped red onion
  7. 2 teaspoons thai red curry paste
  8. 1 teaspoon curry powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  10. 4 teaspoon soy sauce
  11. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  12. 7 ounce coconut milk
  13. 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  14. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  15. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  16. salt to taste
  17. 2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions:

Preparing the Fish

  • Marinate the tilapia fillets in some salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground) for about 15 minutes.
  • Heat the broiler in the meanwhile.
  • Slice the potato into really thin slices.
  • Broil the fish fillets on one side for about 10 minutes.
  • Turn the fillets over and place the potato slices on top of the fish fillets. Broil this side for about 5 minutes. Once the potatoes start turning brown, turn over the potato slices. Once this side also browns set aside the fish and potato slices.

Preparing the Red Curry sauce

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  • Add the ginger and garlic and saute this till it turns light brown.
  • Add the onions and fry it till it turns light brown. Now add the sweet pepper and cook till the pepper is soft and cooked through.
  • Once the pepper is cooked, add the cumin powder and curry powder and saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Then add the soy sauce, brown sugar and curry paste and stir till the mixture is homogeneous.
  • Next add the coconut milk and simmer for about 5 minutes. Now add the salt to taste. (The curry paste and soy sauce usually have some salt, therefore be careful when adding more salt)
  • Add the lemon juice and chopped cilantro and stir it.
  • Now remove the sauce from heat.
  • To serve, place the fish fillet in a plate and pour the red curry sauce over the fish fillet.
  • I cut the fillet into smaller pieces just because it’s easier to serve.

This serves two persons and does make some extra sauce. I was able to use the leftover sauce, the next day, with some boiled eggs. The entire recipe takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. And here is the original recipe for the red curry sauce http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000000348346. I did make some changes to suit my taste buds. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. You can make the sauce and use it as a topping over any other vegetables / meat. We loved this sauce over the boiled eggs as well.

Thai Chicken Burger

I had seen this cooking show by a French chef on a PBS channel a while back and I never managed to find out the name of the cook. He was making a chocolate souffle, the day I was watching the show. I have so wanted to make it but never managed to find the recipe or remember the name of the cook. A couple of days back I remembered the souffle again and was determined to locate the recipe somehow. So I embarked on an internet search like no other. Ultimately success was mine and it did not actually take too long. The name of the cook is Hubert Keller and he is a noted French Chef who is known for this signature restaurants Fleur de Lys in Las Vegas and San Francisco.

He hosted two seasons of a cooking show on the PBS channel and his recipes are available at the website. I managed to find the souffle recipe which I shall try someday soon, once all the sweet eating frenzy of christmas and new year’s has settled down. Another recipe that caught my eye while I was browsing his website, was a thai chicken burger recipe. It looked easy to make and I love thai flavors. So here’s the recipe for Thai chicken burgers. I make smaller sized burgers therefore with half the quantities listed in the recipe, I was able to make about 4-5 burgers. So if you like huge burgers you would get about 3 burgers from the ingredient quantities listed below.

Ingredients:

For the Burgers

  1. 1 7-ounce coconut milk (1/2 can)
  2. 1/2 lime, zest grated
  3. 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  4. 1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (You could increase the amount if you want more spice in your burger)
  5. 1 pound raw chicken thigh meat
  6. 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  7. 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 4-5  hamburger buns, split
  10. lettuce or any greens
  11. tomato slices

For the Pesto

  1. 1/4 cup peanuts roasted & salted
  2. 1/4 cup fresh basil
  3. 1/8  cup cilantro leaves
  4. 1/2 tablespoon coconut, unsweetened and shredded
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 1/8 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Directions:

  • In a saucepan bring the coconut milk to a boil and then add the lime juice and the lime zest. Simmer the mixture till it has thickened and reduced to about 1/3 it’s original quantity.
  • In the meanwhile put the basil with the bread crumbs in a food processor and process it until the basil leaves are finely chopped.
  • Cool the coconut milk and add the coconut milk, the raw chicken (chopped into smaller pieces) and salt to the bread crumbs and basil and process the mixture till all the ingredients are mixed together completely.
  • Form 4-5 patties from the meat mixture and cool it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  • While the patties are firming, make a pesto in a food processor by grinding together all the ingredients listed under pesto and a couple of teaspoons of water to a coarse paste.
  • Cook the patties on a medium flame (about 3-4 minutes on each side) till the chicken has cooked.
  • Serve the burger by spreading the pesto on one side of the hamburger bun and placing the tomatoes, burger and greens and then the other half of the bun. (I like the slightly toast the bun in the oven to a light brown.)

the entire recipe took about 45 minutes from start to finish. You can easily make the patties and freeze them to use at a later time. The burgers are absolutely delicious. They have a very distinct thai flavor to it (which I love). And it is also my first try at making burgers are home. Freshly made burgers are really delicious. I think I am going to experiment with grilling these burgers the next time around. The link to the original recipe is here: http://www.fleurdelyssf.com/recipes/207_3.html. Hope you enjoy the Thai Chicken burger.

And to all my friends and family and to all the readers of my blog, A Very Happy New Year to each one of you.

Sweet and Spicy Coriander (Cilantro) Shrimp

With Christmas all done a couple of days back and the new year just around the corner, I was overwhelmed with all the sweets I have been eating. I really needed something spicy and non-holiday like to just give my taste buds a break from all the sweets. So what do I do? I end up making shrimp, my all time favorite. I wanted something which had a hint of tanginess, a little sweet and a lot of spices. It’s difficult to find a recipe which looks delicious, tastes awesome and meets all your taste bud requirements, all at the same time. The only way I was going to be able to make something like that was if I were to come up with a recipe myself. And that’s what I did, and I called it “Sweet and Spicy coriander Shrimp”. I warn you, this is a really spicy recipe. I would recommend using only half the quantity of red chili powder and green chillies if you are not very fond of spicy food. The best accompaniment for this recipe would be rice and I hate plain rice so thought of making some sort of a simple fried rice. That’s how I came up with the Garlic Chive Rice. It’s quick and easy to make and compliments well with the sweet and spicy flavors of the shrimp curry. That recipe is listed in the next blog post (Will post a link right here once I finish writing it up). The shrimp curry takes about 45 minutes to prepare recipe from start to finish and serves 2-3 persons. Amit and I finished almost all of it though.

Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 lb shrimp
  2. 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
  3. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  4. 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  5. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 1 tsp coriander powder
  7. 1/2 tsp lime juice
  8. 5 cloves garlic
  9. 8-9 almonds
  10. 2 tsp chopped cashew
  11. 1/2″ ginger
  12. 3 green chili (you can increase or decrease this depending on how spicy you want the dish to be. I used some thai peppers and they were really spicy)
  13. 1 cup chopped coriander
  14. 2 tsp tamarind paste
  15. 2-4 tsp olive oil
  16. 2 tbsp brown sugar
  17. 1/2 cup water
  18. salt to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the almonds and cashew in warm water for about 5 minutes.
  • Marinate the shrimp with the coriander powder, 1/4 tsp salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder and the lime juice for about 30 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile prepare the masala paste.
  • Grind the garlic, almonds, cashew, ginger, green chili, and coriander to a smooth paste. Add water to get a smooth consistency.
  • Heat 2 tsps of oil in a flat bottomed saucepan and add the mustard seeds.
  • Once the mustard seeds sputter add the onion.
  • Fry the onions on a medium flame till the edges are light brown. Now add the marinated shrimp and mix the onions and the shrimp together.
  • Fry the shrimp for about 5-10 minutes till it turns a pink.
  • Now add the masala paste along with 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil.
  • Now add the brown sugar and let the curry simmer for a few more minutes till the shrimp have been cooked. (Do not overcook the shrimp, as they will turn rubbery).

This curry goes well with rice. I served this with some Garlic Chive Rice. Again, I would like to warn you that please be careful with the number of green chilies you add. Since you are making a paste of the green chilies, it does turn spicy with a small number of chilies.

The spices and the brown sugar give this dish a very interesting flavor. The first thing you taste is the sweetness of the dish and then towards the end, the spices take over. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Eggplant Sambhaar

All of us have that one dish that come what may, whoever else makes it, it’s never perfect. It has to be made by your mom and no one else. One such dish for me is the sambhaar she makes. I grew up having sambhaar every week either with rice, dosa, vada or idli. Being a south indian that hardly surprising. Given that I was so used to having sambhaar in my daily diet, I asked my mom to write down the recipe for me before I came to the US 4 years ago. And guess what she wrote down the recipe but since she never actually made the sambhaar based on measurements or a recipe, she never gave me the measurements either. But I guess it’s in my genes, and I managed to make a pretty decent sambhaar based on the measurement less recipe. But I decided that I am going to put down the recipe on paper someday. And then Cook, Eat and Relax happened and then a good friend of mine, Amol, asked me if I would ever be blogging about sambhaar. I promised him that I would, so here goes my version of my Mom’s Sambhaar from scratch. I do not use the readymade sambhaar masala that you get at the store. I make the masala from scratch just like mom used to.

Also my blog crossed the 1000 hits mark on the 21st Dec 2010. Thank you everyone who’s visited my blog, I hope I can keep it interesting so that you continue to read about my adventures in the kitchen. So to mark the special occasion I am going to blog about a this special recipe that’s very close to my heart. One which takes me back to my mom’s kitchen in an instant. This recipe takes about an hour from start to finish, a little more or less depending on how ready you can keep the ingredients before you start.

Ingredients:

  1. 3/4 cup toor dal (split pigeon pea)
  2. 1/2 cup chopped eggplants (1″ pieces)
  3. 1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded coconut (frozen or fresh)
  4. 4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  5. 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  6. 5 dried red chillies
  7. 1/2 onion
  8. 3 garlic cloves
  9. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon urad dal (black lentils skinned and split)
  12. 1 dried red chilli
  13. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  14. 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  15. salt to taste
  16. 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

Directions:

  • Wash the split pigeon pea and cook in ample amount of water.
  • In the meanwhile fry the 5 dried red chillies, 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida, coriander seeds and the fenugreek seeds in a saucepan.
  • Chop the onion into big chunks and add it along with the garlic cloves to the slightly browned whole spices.
  • Let the onions turn slightly pink, then add the grated coconut. Fry this entire mixture taking care that the coconut does not get too brown.
  • Set this aside till cool enough to make a paste in a food processor. Add enough water to make a smooth paste with no chunks in it.
  • Fry the eggplant cubes in a little oil till they are almost cooked. Add these cooked/slightly fried eggplant pieces into the cooked dal.
  • Place the dal back on the gas on low heat.
  • Add the turmeric powder, tamarind paste and salt and bring to boil.
  • Add the masala paste to this (add a little at a time so that you can adjust the taste based on what you like) and let the mixture come to a boil.
  • You may need to add some more tamarind paste, salt or red chili powder depending on how you like your sambhaar.
  • Simmer the sambhaar for about 5-10 minutes so that the dal and masala paste and completely cooked together.
  • Set the sambhaar aside and add a teaspoon of oil to a small pan. Once the oil is hot, add the black mustard seeds. Once the seeds sputter add the urad dal, 1 red chili and the asafoetida.
  • Once the urad dal is slightly brown, add this (tadka) to the sambhaar. Garnish the sambhaar with coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with rice, dosa, vada or idli.

This recipe lasts me for a couple of meals. A couple of nights back we had the sambhaar with vada for dinnner and then with dosa for the lunch on the next day. I just drink the sambhaar like soup also anyways so this recipe may actually last you for more than just 2 meals for two persons. You can substitute the eggplant with okra, small onions or almost any other vegetables. I do not put too much anyways as I do not like the sambhaar to be too thick. I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you like it, all credit to my mom.

Tilapia in Coconut Gravy

I am back and hopefully will not disappear for such a long period of time ever again. Well as most of you may already know I am currently working towards my PhD. The Industrial Engineering PhD program at ASU requires you to take a ton of classes (19 courses to be precise) and then they need you to pass a qualifying exam (based on coursework), a comprehensive exam (based on your research) and then a final dissertation defense. I gave my PhD qualifiers a few days back and therefore was busy, really busy studying for the exams. Finally I am done with it and “YES” I cleared the qualifiers. So, till it’s time for the Comprehensive exams,  I am going to be as regular as possible.

You can imagine with the preparations for the exams in full swing, I hardly found any time to cook, forget blogging about it. Well that’s not exactly true, Amit and I did manage to cook some very quick and tasty recipes. But I never managed to get any pictures neither did I get a chance to write the recipe down. So the next few posts are going to be those recipes made again but this time I’ll actually blog about it.

The first recipe is Tilapia in coconut gravy. A few days before the exam preparations started, I caught a bad cold and that resulted in Amit cooking dinner at home. And he made this awesome fish curry that was beyond awesome. He was supposed to just bake or fry the fish but he decided to make something a little more than that. And I am so glad he did. This is an easy to make and quick recipe and it tastes heavenly.

Ingredients:

  1. 6 tilapia fillets
  2. 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  3. 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
  6. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  7. 3 garlic cloves (chopped fine)
  8. 2 green chilies (slit)
  9. 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  10. salt to taste
  11. 2 teaspoons oil
  12. 3/4 cup coconut milk

Directions:

  • Marinate the tilapia fillets in the tamarind paste, garlic paste, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and salt.
  • Marinate the fish for about 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a wide saucepan and heat the chopped garlic, green chillies and asafoetida. (Add these three ingredients based on how many fillets you can fry at a time. I fried the fish in 3 batches so I split the chopped garlic, asafoetida and green chilies into 3 batches as well.)
  • Once the garlic is browned add the marinated fish and fry for a couple of minutes on either side.
  • Add a little water to the saucepan and let the fish cook thoroughly (Cook covered and keep an eye on the fish and the amount of water in the saucepan ensuring that the gravy never dries up completely).
  • If you are cooking the fish in batches, put the fish fillets together into the same dish and set aside till all the fillets are done cooking.
  • Once all the fish fillets are cooked, put it together in the same saucepan and add the coconut milk and 1/4 cup water.
  • Cook the fish in the coconut gravy for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Garnish the fish gravy with a few coriander leaves and it is ready to be served with any bread of your choice.

This recipe serves 2-3 persons. It takes about 30-45 minutes to prepare this dish. You can substitute the tilapia with any other fish of your choice but preferably white fish. I give full credit of this recipe to Amit. I just followed his steps to make this dish. If you love fish, you will love this recipe and take my word for it, it’s delicious! Oh and as a thank you to Amit, I baked some chocolate chip cookies for dessert…

Potatoes and Peas in a Tomato Gravy (Aloo Mutter)

Being a Keralite brought up in Bombay has given me the opportunity to see different festivals celebrated in so many different ways. For instance Dassera, the name itself, can be spelt in so many different ways. I have always associated Dassera with two things, one being Dandiya and another being books (lets say the lack of it). For me Dassera is synonymous with the music and dance that people enjoy for during the entire festival. It does get pretty loud but it is also so pleasing to the eye – the colorfully decorated ‘pandals’, the beautifully dressed up girls and of course the music… You start dancing to the music without much effort, you don’t need to know how to – in fact I am sure Amit (who, I am pretty sure, has two left feet) can also manage pretty well.  I so miss being in India for these festivals.

The other reason for me so looking forward to this particular festival is the way we traditionally celebrate it in Kerala. At home we celebrate it primarily as Saraswati Puja (worshipping the goddess of knowledge). Ashtami, Navami, and Vijaya Dashami the last three of the ten day festival are celebrated as Saraswati Puja in which books are worshiped. For me it had always been a three day festival at home. When you say worshipping the books, it literally means that, we used to set aside our school books for the puja on the 1st day and then on the 3rd day after the rituals are completed the books are given back to us. And during the three days we are not allowed to study!!! So now you know why, as a kid, this was indeed the most awesome three days.

In Kerala, the books are either kept at home for worshiping, or at the temple. The third day, Vijaya Dashami is also considered to be a very auspicious day to initiate children into the world of books (or rather into reading and writing). This ceremony is called Vidyarambham (which quite literally translates to Vidya – Knowledge, Arambham – beginning).

And then there was the Ayudha Puja (worship of tools, implements, weapons, automobiles, etc) which was also on the same day as the Saraswati puja. Our car used to get decked up in a garland. In fact any automobile you would see on the streets would have the garland.

In fact this festival is celebrated in different ways in different states in India. Since I am no expert, I won’t delve into the details. But it is celebrated with much grandeur in almost all the states.

So that being said, we celebrated Dassera this Sunday at home. And since I was a bit too busy celebration for us meant cooking and then eating some awesome food. I decided on a 3-course meal and I intend to share all three recipes right here. We started off with an appetizer, the main course and of course ended with a sweet dish.

This post is to share the Aloo Mutter recipe that I made thanks to the recipe I found online. The link is given at the end of the blog. The recipe I found was for Mutter Paneer (Indian Cheese with peas) but since the appetizer had paneer, I decided to adapt the recipe for Potatoes and Peas in a Tomato gravy. The recipe takes about 30-40 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 medium sized potatoes (cut into chunks and boiled)
  2. 1 cup green peas (cooked)
  3. 2 large tomatoes
  4. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  5. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  6. 1″ piece cinnamon
  7. 4-5 cloves
  8. 4-5 green cardamom
  9. 10-15 cashews
  10. 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  11. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  12. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  14. 1 cup plain yogurt (make sure the yogurt is not sour)
  15. 2 teaspoons cream (optional)
  16. 1 teaspoon oil
  17. Coriander leaves for garnish
  18. Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cashews in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile cook the potatoes and peas separately.
  • Make a puree of the tomatoes in the blender.
  • Grind the whole spices and cashew to a fine paste.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium heat and add the paste to it.
  • Fry the paste for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour in the tomato puree and cook for another 5 minutes (or till the sauce starts getting thick).
  • Add the chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder and turmeric powder and let the gravy cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Now add the yogurt and continue stirring on a low flame to a simmer.
  • Add the cooked peas and potatoes and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the cream and garnish with some coriander leaves and serve hot.

Since it was Dassera, I decided to indulge in some puris to go along with this dish. But you can serve this with any form of bread (indian or otherwise).  The ingredients listed above make about 4 servings. The original recipe is  available at http://www.tarladalal.com/Spicy-Mutter-Paneer-15657r. Hope you enjoy this version of Aloo Mutter. Sorry about the pictures, I took it a hurry, as I was worried that we would finish most of it and I won’t have any left to take pictures.

Rolled Stuffed Eggplant with Tomato Sauce

I was supposed to post the recipe for the Indian style chicken wings next, but there was this big huge eggplant lying around in my refrigerator and would definitely have gone bad if I had not used it. I so wanted to have the Maharashtrian style stuffed eggplant but for that I need the smaller eggplants. So I decided to try something new, a fusion – if u will, of Maharashtrian cooking and Italian cooking. The stuffing is Maharashtrian style but the cooking method is Italian…

I used to look up the recipe for the Bharleli Vangi (Stuffed Eggplant) online when I initially started making it. But now that I have made it so many times, I have my own recipe. I wasn’t too sure how this amalgam of two recipes would work but but it turned out to be absolutely awesome!!! This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 large Eggplant (Brinjal)
  2. 1/4 cup of unsweetened grated coconut
  3. 1/4 cup peanuts
  4. 3-4 dry red chilies
  5. 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  6. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  7. 2 teaspoon tamarind paste
  8. 1 teaspoon jaggery / brown sugar
  9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. 1 1/2 tomato
  11. 1 green chili
  12. 3 cloves Garlic
  13. 1/2 cup chicken / vegetable stock
  14. 2-3 teaspoons oil
  15. salt to taste
  16. toothpicks

Directions:

  • Dry roast the peanuts, dry red chilies, cumin seeds & coriander seeds.
  • Once the peanuts start turning a slight brown, add the grated coconut and fry till the coconut turns brown.
  • Grind this dry roasted mixture to a fine powder.
  • Add the tamarind paste, jaggery, turmeric powder and 3-4 teaspoons of water.
  • Grind the mixture once again to form a thick paste.
  • Now fill a large saucepan with water and salt and bring to a boil.
  • In the meanwhile cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices.
  • Toss the sliced eggplant into the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Dry the slices of eggplant on a paper towel.
  • Apply 1-2 teaspoons of oil on a large baking dish.
  • Apply the paste on the eggplant in the middle, roll the eggplant and use a toothpick to hold it in place. (Do not wash the grinder once you have used up all the paste)
  • Place the rolled eggplants in the oiled baking dish.
  • Put the dish with the eggplants into the preheated oven (375 deg F) and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Chop the tomatoes and green chili and grind it in the same grinder you used before.
  • Finely chop the garlic.
  • Heat a saucepan and fry the garlic till it browns.
  • Add the tomato paste to this and let it simmer.
  • Add the chicken stock to this and take the saucepan off the heat.
  • After 15 mins of baking the eggplants, pour the tomato sauce over the eggplants and leave the dish in the oven another 5 minutes.
  • Switch on the broiler after 5 minutes and let the eggplants brown. (This will take no more than a 2-5 minutes)
  • The rolled stuffed eggplants are ready to serve.

The entire recipe took about 45 minutes to complete. I served this with hot chappatis and garlic pickle / relish. You could also serve this with bread. If baking is not your thing, you could use the stove-top to cook it, you would make the tomato sauce and add the eggplants to it in the stove-top version. You may also want to increase the amount of chicken / vegetable stock to 1 cup instead of 1/2 cup.

Savory Sweet Potatoes

Today I came home in the afternoon and wanted make something different for lunch. I rummaged around the kitchen to see what I have at home and then I saw the Sweet Potatoes. When I see sweet potatoes I am reminded of the dish my Mom used to make at home. But today was not the day for that recipe. Remember I wanted something different!!!

So I decided to come up with something on my own. I decided to call this recipe Savory Sweet Potatoes. I basically came up with the recipe based on whatever was there in my refrigerator.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 large Sweet Potatoes
  2. 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  3. 1 Green Chili
  4. 5-7 Green Onions
  5. 1 small Red Pepper or 3/4 large Red Pepper
  6. 1″ Ginger
  7. 4-5 Garlic pods
  8. 2 teaspoons ground Cumin
  9. 1 cup Chicken Stock (for a vegetarian meal you can substitute this with Vegetable Stock)
  10. 1 cup Paneer (1″ slices) (You will find this in any Indian store, or you can substitute this with cream cheese)
  11. 1/2 cup Peas
  12. 1 1/2 teaspoon Lime Juice
  13. 1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
  14. Salt to taste
  15. 4 six-by-six inch square aluminum sheets.
  16. 4 teaspoons Corn Meal

Directions:

  • Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven (heated to 400 deg F) for 30 – 45 minutes or till tender.
  • Chop the green onions, red pepper and green chili.
  • Mince the ginger and garlic together.
  • Heat 1/2 tsp Olive oil in a saucepan.
  • Toss in the chopped green chili and fry till brown.
  • Add 1/3 cup of chicken stock and let it simmer.
  • Add the chopped green onions and let it cook in the chicken stock for 3 minutes.
  • Add the minced ginger garlic and cumin powder.
  • Let it simmer till the mixture is almost dry.
  • Now add 1/3 cup of chicken stock and the red pepper.
  • Cover and cook till the red pepper has softened. (This will take about 10 minutes but keep an eye on the saucepan every 2 minutes)
  • In the meanwhile cook the peas in the microwave for 3 minutes.
  • If using Paneer: Sprinkle some water on the paneer and heat it in the microwave till it is soft.
  • Once the red pepper has softened, add the peas along with the rest of the chicken stock.
  • Add some salt to taste and let it cook for 2 minutes.
  • Crumble the paneer and add to the saucepan. (if using cream cheese just toss it in and take the saucepan off the heat and mix well)
  • Cook it uncovered and keep mashing the paneer to incorporate into the mixture.
  • Let the water evaporate, add the black pepper, mix well and remove the saucepan from the heat.
  • Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, once tender, and peel off the skin.
  • Mash the sweet potatoes and add the cooked mixture into it.
  • Add the lime juice and mix well.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • You can refrigerate this till ready to serve.
  • Shape the aluminum foil into small bowls.
  • Divide the sweet potato into 4 parts and fill the 4 aluminum foil cups. (You could  use ramekins instead)
  • Sprinkle the 1 teaspoon of corn meal over each serving.
  • Heat the oven to 350 deg F and place the sweet potato servings in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Then switch the oven to the broiler setting at 500 deg F and let the corn meal brown. (This should not take more than a couple of minutes)

This entire recipe takes about an hour from start to finish including prep time. I had green salad with some Italian dressing and roasted nuts with the Savory Sweet Potato. You can also serve this dish with some garlic bread.

This recipe can be modified to make smaller sized portions and then can be served as an appetizer.

Comments
  1. Chimmu, this is in response to your question about cornmeal. Well you can easily use bread crumbs instead (either store bought or made at home). You just want to give a light crust to the sweet potato to get that crunch in a few bites. It tastes better with the crunchiness.

  2. Vineeth says:

    Just trying the chicken wings right now, hope they come out well.

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