Aug 31, 2009

Veggie potpouri!

Okay guys... veggie time!! With all the meat and fish, I am starting to feel guilty for including vegetables in the list :) Now, I have seen this- the moment I say 'vegetables', there is a very brief silence, followed by forced smiles and then followed by even more forced enthusiasm and reasonings how veggies are great for your body..familiar?. Ah yes.  If so this is possibly for you. For I can guarantee that this one quells all those expressions and possibly will be a bigger hit that your main dish. Okay  that was a bit  of  an exaggeration :) But really you will love this one.
Down to basics

You need:

A bunch of spinach
Half a eggplant- I used those thin chinese eggplants. I like the flavor of it
1 big green pepper
1 medium Red  Jalapeno pepper
3-4 large garlic cloves grated
3-4 tbsf of olive oil

And you do it this way


Cut the eggplant in small, bite size, squarish shapes. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Lower heat and add the eggplants. Now remember guys, eggplants love.. love... love to suck up all the oil...you can truly never give them enough. But we, don't want that.

So  here is the trick: lower the heat. Saute the eggplant pieces and cover quickly.

Check after every minute or so to make sure that you are not burning the eggplants. This will take about 4-5 minutes. Once the eggplant is soft, increase the heat to medium and add the green pepper (slice it, chop it..its your dish!), jalapeno pepper (chopped) and garlic and saute for a minute. Add the spinach and wilt it down. Will take a minute or less. Then lower the heat and let cook for 5 minutes occasionally stirring it. The spinach will release its water. Wait for the water to almost dry up..but not entirely. Season with salt.

Serve with bread. Can be used by itself or will be great as a topping

When I was  a kid, my grandmom used to make me and my sister a dish of spinach--on the sweet side with green peas-- I hated it. I hated the guts of spinach. Till I chanced upon this food with spinach sautéed in garlic and olive oil. And ever since there was no looking back. I have used so many veggies to go with this combination. And all of them have turned out great. This one was the best though. Colorful and green and so many flavors going around it.







Is that pretty or wat ? :)









Happy eating and healthy living!

Aug 30, 2009

Looks Fishy



Okay, I have to let you on this. I am a fish person. I Love the fact that I can use the same recipe on different fishes and get different dishes. So the fact that I have not posted any fish recipes yet,  has gotten even myself worried:)
This one may look complicated. I agree. But you got to give it a try. Three steps and you are done. But the ingredients you need may not be that common. But once in a while its good to take that extra step. After all there is something to elaborate looking cooking even if it takes really 10 minutes to make. Yes 10 flat minutes. I have done it. So can you. 

East Indian Fish (you heard of companies)


Ingredients:


1.5 lbs of salmon (or Sword fish or Tilapia or Trout), cut into squarish pieces.
1/4 tsp of all spice  

1/4 tsp Nigella seed 

These two are only for flavor and you can omit those while cooking.Though I recommend it very much.

2 tbsf oil (you can use corn oil, vegetable oil or for a more authentic taste you can try mustard oil.The latter is usually found in Indian stores)

1 tbsf Mustard powder. Yellow mustard with Wasabi stirred in will work beautifully too.
1/4 tbsf Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 finely chopped Jalapeno or Green chili pepper
Half a cup finely chopped green Cilantro for garnish

Prep time!!

Mix the turmeric powder, ground ginger and mustard powder in little water to make a thin paste.

Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add the all spice, Nigella and Jalapeno and saute for 15 -20 secs (or till it gives out a nice aroma). Lower heat and add the pieces of fish. Let it stand and flip once the first side is cooked through (look for whitening of the flesh). Let stand on other side till  the fish flakes and is covered in the spice. Add the mixture of turmeric, ginger and mustard to the fish. Add half a cup of water and let it boil for ~ 2 min.Take care that all sides of the fish are covered with paste. Lower heat and season with salt. Let simmer for 5 mins or till fish is done.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve!..or eat.

Best if taken with scented white rice

Seriously, this is  an authentic dish that you are not likely to taste in any Indian restaurant. That is a promise. I have looked for it. Found nowhere. Btw, I have posted this 
here and its gotten rave reviews :)





Happy eating and healthy living

Aug 28, 2009

Not so Fried, Rice

Fried Rice. What it brings to my mind is greasy and red colored rice (great taste though!). I decided on doing something totally different--keeping the philosophy of fried rice intact but without the soy sauce and the grease and meat.  Turned out very uniquely fragrant and light. But here is the alert-- its white. Someone  who associates color to taste may have a bit of a difficulty in adjusting to this...but its worth a try. So here goes.

Ingredients

400 oz (~ 4 big handfuls) of  white rice. I prefer long grain Basmati Rice. Low on cook time and high on flavor.
900 ml of water
I  use a measuring cup to measure the ratio of  rice: water for I always..Always... get confused on this one. But for all you veterans out there..go with your experience and please share with me too. I almost end up burning things :( 

1 big onion diced
Any assortment of veggies you want. I used 1/4 th cup of frozen veggies from the store. Fresh is better.
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 tsp whole cumin
2 cloves, 2 cardamoms, 1 bay leaf and a two teeny tiny bits of cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
salt to season
1 mexican green pepper sliced up in semicircular or full circular shapes

Tips
Soak the rice in water for ~ 5-10 mins. Drain before you use it. If you are using frozen veggies (fresh are better and does not need this step) leave it in some water for 5- 10 mins and then drain the water.

How to put these things together :)

Heat the butter in a skillet and add the cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon bits and whole cumin. Let simmer for 5-10 secs. Add the onion and let it brown up. Roughly 3-5 minutes. Add the sugar and cook  for another minute. Add the veggies and saute a bit. Add the rice and saute for a minute to coat it with the buttered onion and veggies. Add the  water. Cover and cook till rice is done. For 10 minutes, roughly. Uncover and while fluffing with a fork mix in the green peppers. Adds the layer of flavor without over doing it.

Now if you do like your fried rice a little salty..season with salt after sautéing the rice in the buttered onion. I like to keep it unsalted.

I am not sure how it would turn out with brown rice...but I will give it a try someday and post it. Meanwhile you can try some variations and totally make it  your own signature dish.  Go crazy with veggies, meat, garnish, spices..as long as you have rice and its fried..you have nothing to fear :)
To you Buni..Happy birthday!!

Happy eating and healthy living.

Aug 27, 2009

Tips on some good Chicken cooking..at least preping

 Okay...a few things I have picked up about Chicken over the years

1. I try NOT to put the Chicken in the deep freezer of the refrigerator if I plan to cook it within a couple of days. I usually leave it in the refrigerator. Keeps the flesh soft and helps  me get juices/marinade etc into the flesh in a shorter time.

2. If Chicken has been in the freezer I try to take it out and leave it in the refrigerator for a 2-3 days before cooking it .  Same reason

3. If I do have to prepare something over a short notice ( like a rush dinner planned in the morning), I take the Chicken out of the freezer and place it in a bowl of water and then I  put the whole thing in the refrigerator in the morning. Its soft and ready to go by evening. A bit of extra work in the morning though.
Of course if you can buy some on your way back home. Easier.

4. I try to buy Chicken with skin and bones. I peel off the skin after the chicken has thawed...adds an extra layer of flavor without adding all that fat.
And saves you a few bucks!

5. Other than stir fry I prefer Chicken with bones..again for all that great flavor.

6. I try to buy whole Chicken from Whole Foods and have the friendly butcher chop it up for me. They do a Lovely job and sometimes the chicken comes at 1.29$/ pound!

7. While cooking Chicken I add salt at the very last. Helps browning the chicken over a skillet or even in the oven.

Thats yearrrss of wisdom..years.. in less than 10 sentences..the Cosmopolitan style :) By the way I love that magazine. Cosmo people..you can check out the subscription details..but guys you can do better with the sex tips...seriously sex in the shower???

Shanghai food-- the Bengali way

Awright. I missed my favorite aerobics class yesterday. Steps. I got home after a not-so-great-afternoon, with nothing on my mind other than biking to the class and sweating it out. In the house there was  no food.  I hate to come back hungry and have nothing to eat. It was still early evening. So guess what ? I chucked-yes chucked- the class. And got dirty in the kitchen :)

The food was delish..ooh I have to say what it was :)

Back in India, 'Chinese food' used to be my and R's favorite-- and of every second person I knew. My mom's too. After I started grad school here, that changed. I did not like the American chinese food. So much so I gave up on that cuisine :(  Now, I am no chinese and so have no clue what an authentic one would be. But as far as I was concerned..it was downhill for me. I and R lost that fun of having chinese. Till.. I moved to San Diego for an year as a visiting student. I am in my third month of that year. And right across the street (where R had been living for over three years and now I am too for three months), close to the grocery (where he goes almost everyday to get something or the other), we 'chanced' upon this oh-so- good-Indian style chinese we loved and missed so much! Thanks Shanghai Cafe. Anyone near La jolla, CA-92122 should go there. Its small one and family run. But serves the best chinese food I ever had in this entire nation. Its now our favorite eat out.

So I had to cook chinese the bong (aka bengali) style. Chili Chicken and Fried Rice--two of my favorite things. Made coffee and got on with it. Was done in 40 minutes. You got to work for your pleasure kids :)


Chili Chicken

Ingredients

6 chicken breasts- with bones and skinned
2.5 tbsp yoghurt--any variety is fine.
2 tbsp grated garlic
1.5 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp corn flour

Marinate chicken with all these ingredients and let stand for 10 minutes. Slice the chicken so that juices penetrate

3 green chili peppers sliced up lengthwise
2 large onion cut up
3 green onion chopped up
3 tbsp oil
2 tbsp vinegar--any kind.
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
Red pepper powder-- depending on if you like heat. I dont. So I used only half a tsp.
A pinch of black pepper

Garnish- cilantro, lemon, green onion, parsley..whatever you like to see on your food.

Directions:


Heat oil in a skillet. Put the black pepper  and the green peppers in the hot oil (WAIT till the oil  gets smoking hot and turn down the heat before throwing in the peppers. Saves me from the possible oil that may fly out of the skillet as soon as the green peppers hit the oil). Don't you just love the aroma??
Fry for  10-15 secs. Put the onion in the skillet and fry till soft and slightly brown. About 5-8 minutes.

Now add the marinated chicken in the skillet. Fry for 10 minutes with occasional stirring. Add the vinegar, sugar, red pepper, soy sauce and keep stirring for ~ 5 minutes. The entire thing should cook in its juices as well as the yoghurt. Reduce heat and cover for  ~ 6 minutes. Take off the cover and season with salt and green pepper. Garnish with green onion/ cilantro/ parsley/lemon / green pepper/ mexican pepper...go wild.

Pictures forthcoming and in this entry.

It was an awesome dinner.  Although the coffee did get cold in 40 minutes, a good ending to a bad day. Whoever said that the way to a man's heart was anything other than food :). I would just modify and say' anyone's heart'. And of course we saved a few bucks and several calories. Took that guilt out of missing an aerobics class.

Happy eating.

Aug 26, 2009

And here it is..


And here it is...It was super good..try it with organic corns.

Photograph: Ritayan Mitra

Corn on the grill

Ever thought of grilling corn? There is a charred feel to it that is very different. In India its a common snack during the corn season..I know its sometime in nov-dec (is that even right?). But hey! why are we even talking of seasons when all we want to do is grill corn!

In India people usually grill it over an open charcoal oven. And the charcoal imparts a rustic flavor to it. During my adolescence I was a sucker for those. Somehow when my mom would do the same at home..it never tasted the same. I suppose it lacked the outdoorsy aroma :)

So these days I am back at that. After an hour or so at the Gym, I am ravenous. R likes to have dinner a bit late. So I would die if I have to wait another two hours to get to food. Corn comes to a flavorful rescue.

Ingredients

1. Corn-- preferably an young one.
2. 1/4 tsp of oil
There is a trick here --any oil would do. Depending on the type of flavor you like, you can use olive oil, regular vegetable oil..whatever you want. But if you really like strong flavors like I do, you want to use mustard oil which you find in Indian groceries.It's not that expensive.  Anything goes..that goes well :)
3. A pinch of salt
4. Lime wedges

How to put these things together

Take of all the castings etc of the corn. Get it real clean. Coat it lightly with whatever oil you are using.
If you are using a charcoal oven or a grill (all fancy and jazzy) use that. For the rest of us, who are HUNGRY, use your regular open flame gas. Beware of a popping noise when the corn grills. Keep an eye out so that you don't burn the corn. And for those, who like me are hungry and hate open flames, there is our dear lovable oven.  Place the oil coated corn on a oven -proof tray. Broil at high for  8-10 minutes turning the corn in the tray after 2-3 minutes on each side.

Take the corn out of wherever you were making it and let it cool for just under a minute. Take the lime wedges and scoop a bit of salt and rub it all over your corn. And you have a slightly charred, awfully flavorful, perfectly healthy snack ready in 10 minutes! and your hunger is a notch up now.

It goes well with tea, coffee, any cocktail, wine..I have tried it with everything and its yummy. You can even make several together and serve it as a starter for parties.
Can't wait for the evening hunger pang to strike me...and there is a corn that is in the refrigerator...hmmm

By the way the liquid Nitrogen is here.so back to lab! Will put up a picture  if I can manage to take one without finishing the corn.

Aug 25, 2009

Tuesday morning marks the begining

I woke up at 6.20 AM. For those of you who don't know me  (I am sure that is most of you..so hello :)), I love sleeping late. As late as a day allows me. And I often like to find excuses to allow me to do so. But  today, as the saying goes, is the first day of the rest of my life. Yawnnnn.
Okay. So after a good head start I came into the lab (I am a graduate student btw) to get a ton of stuff done. Not to happen. Guess what,  I find out ..to my utter utter dismay..to have run out of the very first thing I needed. Liquid Nitrogen. hmmm...While I am waiting for that to arrive I facebooked, orkutted, yahooed, facebooked..and then orkutted some more..
Till I started this new blog. Before ..before all of you jump to the obvious conclusion, let me tell you something. This was intended for the last two years. But never happened. Why?

 Because Liquid Nitrogen never ran out :) No truthfully that is the reason.

So what is this blog going to be about?

About the blog:

Its about the kitchen.  Sort of a kitchen diary that is full of smells, flavors, tastes (of course), looks (very important) and super duper fun in there. No books to guide. No rules to follow. Other than fire safety. And hopefully no measurements. I am awful at that in the kitchen. Though in my lab that is all I do.

Who am I  and why do I want to do this ?

I am a graduate student working in climate science :) But that's not what this blog is about. Well into my early twenties (I am 27 now) I hated the kitchen. I vowed..Yes, yes I vowed that I am never getting inside one.
Now, thats where I love to spend time. I de stress there. And the product of those times (not very long) , I am told, are very very palatable.  I follow no rules. I do almost anything that does not require me to look into a book while in the kitchen : doing traditional food, mixing and matching spices and cooking styles. Whatever comes to my mind

Oh! did I tell you? I am a total Rachel Ray fan. Love her style. But I am lactose intolerant. Can't use cheese :( So you get the idea what I might do in the kitchen ?

Here is to keep you interested!  Remember to get those mugs in the kitchen :) Part of the promise..



This is at the Cups at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD San Diego. 
Photograph-By me