Nov 30, 2009

Murg Massallam and Rogan Josh...Turning back time


Don't you sometimes watch old movies...and by old I neither mean oldies nor period films, but movies ..of a common man..about times, say of the last century or early part of this century, and think that  if you could just turn that clock back on time and go right back there, whence and where, things were seemingly less competitive, in a sense maybe, even less complicated than our times ?  I certainly do wish like that. And no matter how weird this sounds, I will say it nonetheless. At such moments, I intensely hate my life like it is now. I hate how I wear a particular item of clothing, I hate the way the sound, I hate myself for all things that has everything and nothing to do with me.

Till.. of course reason lays a cold hand on me and I look around.. to see traffic lights, cafes,  thoroughfare, cars, cribs, mommies and daddies..but most of all how peaceful everything looks on the outside. And how it would not be so great nor feel good to be an anachronism. And then my reflection  in the mirror looks fine and acceptable...okay, maybe I just really need is a new pair of shoes :) or at most a few more bangs :)

Talking of such moments and movies and times moving back...or even actually having stopped.. and what not impossibilities it is that we dwell on, there is one way to literally turn back time and loose really nothing. You got it food!  And that reminds me I haven't told you about my culinary adventures over the Thanksgiving break :)

Over the course of the entire 4 and half day holiday period, I made two dishes which transcends time and generations . I am not going to write about any of the two recipes, which has no contribution from me. On second thoughts, I couldn't contribute to something which was from another century! But I must tell you about them. For making them was so much fun. I did everything which I never do. These were both spicy, took so very long to make and ended up rich and delectable. It was like dressing up for a fancy dress party or Halloween. To be what what you are not!

One was Murg Massallam. This is one recipe, which I believe, was a speciality of British Indian period and was handed down from the Mughal period. So mind you. This dish, as heavy sounding as it is, is a direct connection between you and me- Lord Mountbatten et al- emperor Akbar and his progeny. A heavy lineage. Is it true that the longer the history with the dish, the heavier it is? :)

Anyway this is just a cornish hen basted with oil/butter and a savory mix of yoghurt and spices, cooked slowly in a tandir oven. I, of course did it with olive oil in a regular oven. Turned out quite a looker. But the cool part is, R suggested ( he tells me that his grandfather is one who actually told him so) that it is best to put in some boiled eggs inside the hen. I couldn't find any recipe which suggested that. But we went ahead and stuffed the eggs in.  Must say..it was fun to do so :)

So here it is: An egg-stuffed cornish hen, basted in spice and yoghurt handed down across generations and centuries.  A thanksgiving feast :)





The next one is Rogan Josh. Posted by Nat loves baking. This one is lamb ribs, slow cooked in a lovely and rick gravy of red lentils and a plethora of spices and yoghurt. Apparently Rogan Josh literally translates into 'spicy oil'. And this one was handed down to the Mughals by the Persians...wow..this  transcends even longer times :)

Nat, it was brilliant. The smell took a while to wisp away. And I hear the taste never did :)

So here is Rogan Josh



Happy eating and happy reminiscing :)

Nov 27, 2009

Lemon- Chicken soup. A cure for weariness


So Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday madness is gone too (I managed to keep things under 20$ !). And now, most of us face overfilled bellies, sluggishness and the fact that half the holiday is gone. Sigh..sigh..sigh...:). Good thing is, now, I get to read about all the wonderful posts and treats. I have often said that eating is an anticlimax of food. It gets over so quick. But food stories make their rounds forever and that is-- to me-- much much more fulfilling. But yes, the mind does get tired, just like the belly, of all the fantastic gourmet ' stuff and ings'. And it starts to crave a bit of sanity..a bit of banality ...a bit of ' lack of' fantasticness ( I coined this word :))

That was me today evening. Craving for something light and warm. But not without flavor. Not bland. And what do I make ? A warm, light soup-- all from my imagination. With a bit of enthusiasm from my sister. She told me of this awesome sounding soup that she had while vacationing among the green green mountains of the eastern Himalayas in India. Shillong-- the place is called.

She told me how she walked miles and miles on these winding roads, through valleys amidst green mountains and huge waterfalls. And on one such day she stopped in some little eatery ( basically a household kitchen opened up to serve food for a little money) and had this soup. Lemon chicken soup.

Sounded so soothing and light and fragrant..that I started off making it (she did not know the recipe) from what she described. Added bits and pieces. And voila ..a soup that, I believe, is comforting not just to the tired belly and the weary leg...but also to the mind, so full of richly goodness :)

Lemon chicken soup-- as I understand it :)

Ingredients (makes for two)

3/4 th cup of chicken. Cubed.
1/2 cup of chicken stock
A  small bundle of rice noodle. Broken into small pieces.
Tip: You can also use thin pasta, or even ramen noodles.

1 big garlic clove. Minced
1/2 a big tomato. Cubed
1 green chili. Chopped. You can substitute with jalapeno

2 tsp of corn flour
1 tsp of coriander powder. If you hate coriander powder, I suggest substituting it with cumin powder. Will have a different flavor..but will be equally great.

A handful of dill.
1/3 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups of water.

What is to making a soup? Boiling :)


Wash the chicken and place in a big pot. Add 2.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add the stock, garlic, tomato, chili and bring everything to a boil (You will notice that once you drop additional ingredients in a boiling pot, the boiling stops. So the idea is to bring it back to a boil). Let boil for 5 minutes. Add the broken noodles. Let boil. Meanwhile add 3 tbsf water to the cornflour and whisk till no clumps remain. Add the cornflour to the soup. Add the coriander/ cumin powder, the dill and squeeze the juice of the lemon into the soup. And Keep on the boil for ~ 5 minutes. Remember to stir all the time. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

You have your soup ready...and is that not healthy and flavorful?



Happy eating and healthy living!



Nov 24, 2009

Another fabulous award- A 'fishy' celebration.

What good news don't I share with a 'fishy' celebration?

This opener sets the stage for two things:-

One, I have some good news
Two, I am going to write about my favorite food in the whole wide world. Fish.

First things, First. Awards. I know that everyone is soon going to get very very busy with their birdies. And I can't wait for all the posts. Including mine. It is not a Turkey. But will keep that a secret, for now :).  I was talking of fish. No, awards. Sorry. I keep mixing up the two. Btw, a good fish dish to me is no less droolworthy than an award.  Okay, I spilled the bean. I got another fantastic award! From this fantastic blogger, Mae of Peas love carrots.





I have got to admit that it was this name,' Peas love carrots', which got me to her blog. Kind of reminded me of this lovely movie, Forest Gump, where Forest and Jenny are like ' peas and carrots'. Anyway we have a few things in common ( I got to know this after reading seven random things about her) , besides food and chemistry. She is super creative. Go check out her 3- ingredient challenge. It was incredible. Great recipes, cute layout and fabulous pictures. And what's more. Just three ingredients. Neat and super neat!

Now this award has a few strings attached to it. One of them being not-something-I-like. Seven random things about me. I am pretty random. So its difficult to sort my randomness out. But I'll try for the Sun :)

1. I don't like to eat. I love to cook. I feel eating is the anticlimax to cooking.

you guys..sure you wanna read any further? :) well...

2. I want to turn old (naturally and gradually of course) so that I can wear pearls and chiffon.

3. I want to be a writer someday. But then i also want my own restaurant..I also want to be a traveller...a journalist....

4. As a child I never wanted to be a chemist or a geologist. I am a geochemist. As a kid I hated cooking and told everyone, ' I will never cook'. I want to be a chef. Follow the idea?

5. I hate parties. More than four people gathering leaves me tired. Even the thought.

6. I  believe in fairies and intelligent life to be a natural fall out of planetary evolution. And I think there are scores of planet out there with intelligent life. It is a matter of time before we find out or better.. get found out

7. I think the world would be dead without Disney. I want to be the creator of something like Winnie the pooh. I don't think I will ever be that.

Okay random enough..and now the best part of the award. I have to pass it on to 7 bloggers. I feel confused. I have more than seven people who I would love to give this award to. So its hard to pick. But then well..comes with the territory. So, it is my honor to pass on this award to

1. The seventh level of boredom:  I really make some of her recipes. He blog is a treasure house of easy to do- great food!. And she features so many bloggers too!

2. Murasaki of the Samurai Viking Cuisine: She has some of the most simple and amazing recipes up her sleeve and she knows exactly how to make them look as pretty as they really are. 

3. Olga of Mango and tomatoes: Again a interesting blog. Has some real good recipes. But mostly I like the updates from her blogs on the ' hip-hop- happening' in the foodie world. A very personable style to boot :)

4. Palidor of the Crazy Asian Girl: One of my favorite bloggers, she knows to make Indian sweet dishes! I always thought one can never make them. You rock, Palidor!

5. Lex eat: I love love love her blog. Neat posts. She is now attending cooking school. And her updates are what draws me to her blog.  Bees to honey pot :)

6. Girlchief: The lesser I talk about this one, the better it is. He blog features some of the best fusion recipes that I come across. Me, being a fan of fusion that is. You are the chief of good food!

7. Dick of Dick's rambling cafe: Dick has some of the best southern- comfort food. I totally drool over almost all his creations. You surely need to build a real cafe , Dick :)

There are so many more I want to give this to. So I will just special mention. Girls are made of, Fairy footprints, a full timed housefly, Mad chemist, Chow and chatter, My columbian recipe...and the list goes on.

Now to the second part of my post today. A Simple fish dish. This one is my mom's recipe. And she would make this whenever me or my sister would fall sick. In need of flavorful-but easy to digest-lean protein and veggie filled- soupy dish. She told me her mom made it for her when she was sick and in need of ...the above.

So, being flu-cold season, with people feeling cold and sick, an easy-peasy age old fish recipe, to perk up your congested day :)

Ingredients:


1 trout fish. Clean the fish and divide it into three or four pieces. You can also use any fish you like. All is good.



2 medium size potatoes- sliced thickly

1 small eggplant. cubed
1 green chili pepper- optional

half a tsp of nigella. You can use whole allspice as well.
half a tsp of grated ginger
A pinch of turmeric

A pinch of cayenne pepper optional



3-4 tbsf of regular oil

2 cups of warm water


salt to season.


It is really quite simple to do.


Season both sides of fish with salt. Take a tsp of oil and rub it on both your palm and just lightly brush the fish in that oil. This should be enough for all the pieces of that one fish. Place the fish on a baking tray and broil it on high for 20 minutes or till fish is white.



Soften your potatoes and eggplant in a microwave  for 2 minutes.


In a shallow skillet, heat the remaining oil. When hot, pop  the nigella ( or allspice). Wait a couple of secs.  Add the ginger . Fry for another minute. Add the turmeric and the cayenne pepper ( if you are using them, I don't). Fry for half a minute. Add the water. Here is a tip.Use as warm a water as you can. This makes any dish tastier. The hot water prevents clumping of spices which is what happens if you pour cold water or stock. If you are using stock take it out of refrigerator an hour before using. Will take that chill off . Bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. That is your curry sauce.



You can now do either of the following



 1. Place the broiled fish in a serving tray and pour the sauce all over it

 2. Put the fish back into the sauce for a couple of minutes. And take the whole thing of the stove.



The second option allows more penetration of the sauce into the fish.



 Serve it with jasmine rice. Or some crunchy bread. Its awesome, especially if you are feeling under the weather. Good for your palate and easy on your tummy.







Happy eating and healthy living. Well maybe not so healthy is good for this week! :) :)


Nov 23, 2009

A layered salad: A layer of green to a red salad



Continuing with my fascination of the Mediterranean...from the 'Desert  recipe' to a healthier ( read low calorie), but equally delightful, recipe.  Israeli Salads. I did write about a Mediterranean Israeli Salad recipe a few weeks back. But without any pictures. This time around I have added a 'layer' to it and with pictures to boot too :). It is the same red colored assortment of veggies and fruits.  The dressing is more flavorful this time. However, I have a feeling that a salad is not really a salad till there is an element of green to it. 'Elementary, my dear Watson(s)'. 


I have dared to twist this line, given that Mr, Holmes never really said this sentence, ever in his life. He has said, many a times, ' Elementary' and ' My dear Watson'. But never ' Elementary my dear Watson'. :)  It is true. A very catchy trivia, I find.


Anyway back to Salads. As I was saying, I decided to add a green layer to the salad. So I make a red salad. And then lay it in layers between fresh Romaine/ or regular lettuce. Looks terrific. And very salad-y. So here  is my contribution to a very very Israeli salad. Layering it with green. 


So here is 'Layered Salad'



Ingredients:

Any veggie you can find that is a variant of red, orange or purple or at best yellow :)



2 bell pepper-- one red and the other yellow. No greens please. Remember its all red!

2 big carrots

half a head of red cabbage.

5-6 radish

7-8 small tomatoes halved. If you are using regular tomatoes, just a medium size would do.

1 big apple

1 orange-- peeled and chopped into chunks. This will help release some of the flavors of the orange into the salad.

A big handful of cranberries. You can also use raisins instead of or together with the crans
7- 8 olives optional.
Okay I can't remember anything else that might be red. But feel free to keep adding.


4-5 leaves of Lettuce. Chopped into big pieces. So that they can be used for layering.
For the dressing



1 tsp extra virgin olive oil.

juice of half lemon-- freshly squeezed

1/3 a cup orange juice. Best is freshly squeezed

1 tsf honey. You can use 2 tsp of sugar as well.

2 tbsf Brown mustard. Optional
salt and pepper for seasoning


This dressing is so citrus and light that it actually can boast of being healthy, over most other dressings which use sour cream and cheese.


Now there isn't really much to do other than cut and toss!

Chop up all your veggies and fruits to chunk sizes. Keep the cuts similar so that they look pretty. Here is a little tip:- Shred the carrots, preferably in a grater.  And with the tomatoes scoop out the seeds. Will keep your salad crispy. Place em' all in a big big salad bowl. Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, orange juice and honey. Pour it all over the salad. Add the cranberries or raisins and the olives. Toss everything together. Season with salt and pepper. 


Now comes the neat part. The layering part. Place your salad in layers, between spread lettuce leaves. The more the number of layers, the prettier it is! Chill for  a few hours before serving.


Look at the colors! it is a riot of em' all. And you sure will get an ' Ah! how lovely and gorgeous' from your guests. Any nation. I can tell ya. In fact this salad is so good and healthy, it rivals all other goodies you may have on the dinner table. Even entrees. 









Happy eating and a very very healthy living.

Nov 20, 2009

Another two awards-- and a 'Desert Recipe'


I have found out only recently that I have not posted almost a single desert iredipe n the last month or so. How disgusting is that!  It is so not true that I did not make one. In fact, I made quite a few. But thing is all of them are from some popular recipe off foodnetwork. And no fiasco too! So nothing to say really. Although this last week I chanced upon this unique 'cake' recipe from my very good friend Tamar. I have mentioned before, that she is from Israel.  And given that I am a sucker for Israeli salads and deserts, she is the storehouse for goodies.

The thing about Israeli deserts is that they are loaded with dry flavors. Figs, dates, olives, apricots. All these flavors transport you to deserts...to long long queues of  weary camels  trudging along sand dunes with the sun beating down on their bare back, tribesmen washing and relaxing under makeshift tents in palm tree lined oasis, horsemen creating a plume of desert dust as they dash along dusty patches of land... beautiful girls tucked away under veils and carpeted tents...Only their eyes glimmer flirtily as they serve you hookah and dates... Such is the tug of dry flavors.

Coming back to the present tense and the here-tense, Tamar  gave me this incredible 'desert recipe'. Chocolates, walnut and ...pears. No flour and no baking powder. Game for it? I was. And the result was amazing. Layers of fruit and nut flavor. Solid. No fluff. Leaves the mind confused..so confused that you forget about here and now..and all you want is to go for those long forgotten days of Arabian nights. Nights of sinful pleasure.

But before we travel on that road to perdition-- if I may say so :)-- There are fun things I HAVE to mention. I got two more awards!! I cannot believe it :) :) The first one from Palidor of  'Crazy Asian Girl  (a master at making Indian sweets. And I thought it could not be made by anyone mortal :)). Thanks a lot. I am incredibly proud of this one :)





And I pass it on to Ashley of ' Big flavors from a tiny kitchen'. Her blog is lovely. The recipes are great. The pictures are superb. And she has a storehouse of lovely photographs, which is delightful.  Ashley, your posts definitely add sunshine to my day :)

The second one, from someone I admire a LOT. Ancoo of Ancoo's hobby. Some fantastic hobby she has!



And following her idea (which is super good) I pass it on to all my blogger friends. Everybody who makes such excellent recipes!

And having said that, let me take you by the hand and lead you to the deserts of the middle east..with dry flavors and fruity intervals..

No Name Cake. ...a recipe of and for the deserts

Ingredients:


2 butter sticks, soft
1 ¼  cups sugar
6 separated eggs
250 (9 ounces, or a little more the 0.5 Lb ) dark chocolate, grounded
250 gram grounded walnuts
3 pealed pears

round bake pan, with a bit of butter spreaded (so the cake wouldn't stick)

Here is how you do it


  1. Prepare oven on 325 degrees. put the butter and the sugar in the mixer's bowl to make an airy, light mix. add the yolks one by one while the mixer is working until the mix is uniform. Add the chocolate add the walnuts and and mix manually with a spatula.
  2. Whip the egg whites into a stable foam and “fold” a few times into the chocolate mix. Pour into the pan.
  3. Cut the pears in halves, remove the middle part with the grains and cut to quarters. Stick the pear quarters inside the cake , such they stick out a bit. Bake for about 50 minutes until a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool. 



Serve it with some Ice cream. And some dried Apricots as garnish. Or dates..or raisins...choice is yours. After all it is your journey..you get to choose the road ...:)



Picture by Tamar Sofer




and another one...it looked so good :)





Happy eating and sinful living!!!! It is good...at times 


Recipe: Courtesy Tamar Sofer.

Nov 18, 2009

Me and bits of the Thai green curry


I must have told you about my fascination with Thai food. Haven't I? If not, there is no way to explain that. But, I have this thing. I do not want to make something which I am so crazy about. For example, I am mad about samosa-- I never make them. And no matter how good a tutorial I get, nothing matches up to what I expect. The standards I guess are so high :). The same with Sushi, cheesecake. I feel that I can never attain that level of perfection that I crave. So no point in trying. In fact I don't even want to try...maybe.

Having said this, however, I must add that craving some of these things make me come up with recipes, which are my very own. Has some components similar but mostly the dish is just a new one. Confused? Okay, here is a simple way of explaining--

I started off talking about my fascination for Thai food. And for all the Thai lovers (which is pretty much everyone!) green curry is one important thing. I mean real important. I wanted to have it bad. So I looked up a recipe for green curry. And well...I got an idea. I had some of the  raw ingredients and but not specialized one-- the sauces which make Thai green curry..well Thai green curry. So I had this incredible idea of a dish which would be green..yes. But not anything near a Thai green curry.

-- got going...and landed myself (pat pat pat) a lovely dish. Which would be so difficult not to share with you guys. And I totally expect any suggestion, additions-- anything that you might have to say. For this is my dish..and I assure you it can handle changes. For that is me in the kitchen. No recipes. And I read in a blog and I agree so much with it...' that is when cooking is fun'

To fun and games!

Ingredients

1lb chicken. Boneless and skinless.  Cut into bite size pieces.
1 medium potato. Cut into bite size pieces. Optional

1 medium onion
4-5 stalks of green onion
2-3 green chili
5-6 basil leaves
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsf lemon juice
1 cup of fresh coriander leaves. You can substitute with Parsley

1 tbsf coriander
1 tbsf cumin
2 tbsf soy sauce
1 tbsf oyster sauce. Optional

1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes/ powder
1 cup of milk.
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsf oil. Any variety is good. I used Olive oil.

Salt and pepper for seasoning.

Its really neat and simple to do

Mix everything, except coconut, milk, sugar, oil, salt, pepper, potato and chicken, in a food processor into a fine paste. In a deep skillet heat the oil. Add the paste you just made, sugar, coconut and milk and saute for 2- 3 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and mix everything. Cover and cook for ~ 15 minutes till chicken is done. Alternatively, you can transfer the  whole thing into a baking tray and bake for 30 mins at 420 F. Season with salt and pepper.

It is so simple, its difficult to believe that it is for real. So here you are. A bit of Thai and a bit of my mind, in a fragrant dish over jasmine rice :)







Happy eating and healthy living!


Nov 16, 2009

Cauliflower..or Gobi is it?


Finally there is a nip in the southern California air. Winter maybe, is finally around the corner?. And time for some hearty and flavorful dishes. Dishes that fill the house with some lovely aroma. Have you ever noticed that vapor coming off fresh cooked food?  The savory vapor just curls up from the pot and vanishes, literally into thin air. You can actually see this vapor- curling. But it ain't lost. It comes back as the aroma that makes everyone go hungry and happy. This is one big, important part, for me, of making savory dishes.

One of my favorite veggies is cauliflower.  Or is it Gobi, on this part of the Atlantic? Anyway its not the name I am after. It is the veggie that I love. I cannot believe I have neer written about it!  Amazingly underused. Yet so dynamic. So hearty. So flavorful. And full of good nutrition. Vitamin C, fiber . You name it. You have it. I wonder who introduced Cauliflower to the United states. To Wikipedia I go. And lo and behold it is mostly an European- Asian thing. That explains why I grew up with it and don't find it here almost ever. But fear not, it is there in the grocery stores and so anyone can have it...if they choose to :)

So if any of you who are not like me, its really time to get a taste of these flowers. You do know that Cauliflower is really a flower. Don't you? :)

Ingredients

A small cauliflower. It is good to start with a small one if you never really had it.
2 medium potatoes. Cubed.
2 big tomatoes. Chopped
A handful of peas. Thaw in hot water for 20 minutes if using frozen.

half a tbsf whole cumin
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sugar
1/3 rd tsp turmeric
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper. Optional. Use if you like heat in your food.

2 tbsf oil. Any is good.
4 cups of warm water
Salt to season


A few things to keep in mind

If you have never used cauiflower, there is a trick to cutting it. 

Remove all the green stalk that is at the bottom. Now, halve the cauliflower. You will see little stalk going outward from the central stem. And pull out each flower attached to the stalk. You can halve the real big ones. Wash and set aside.

Prepare your veggies

You need the potatoes and the cauliflower slightly softened before you use them in this dish. So best is to microwave on high for  3 minutes. Or you can actually soft fry your veggies with 1 tbsf oil in a civered pot for 5 minutes.

Either is good.

Now, lets do the cooking!

In a shallow  deep pot, heat  2 tbsf oil. When hot, add the whole cumin and the ginger and fry for ~ 15 secs. The aroma is lovely and killing. Add the prepared veggies  and mix in everything. Add the tomatoes, peas, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper and sugar. Mix in everything. Stir for a minute. Add the water. Give everything one big stir. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or till veggies are cooked through. Season with salt.

And you are done. A hearty soup that can double up as main dish. Served over rice. Or perfectly great with good quality bread.

A great way to enjoy your crispy fall evening!





Happy eating and healthy living!

Nov 13, 2009

Crabmeat in minutes


Every once in a while...a man (also a woman) needs to get into unchartered territories. And if that woman is me, then that is, all the time. This  character trait shows up in all spheres of my life. I am always always intrigued by curious things. They do not have to be curious to everyone. Just looking a bit off the track to me--works!  I am always taking little short trips up the hill that I pass on my way to the lab..taking that little dirt rad that trails off the main road. Sometimes there is really nothing worthwhile that I find. It is the walk that I have enjoyed. And at other times I end up finding real shortcuts. Or a plant maybe. Or a house which has a strange pond in the backyard. This one time last year, I actually found a lovely wooden bench  just off the street near a local teashop that became one of my favorite haunts for the rest of ...well, of my life actually :) You see what I mean.  No big adventure-- though I treat them as if they are-- but gives me immense pleasure. I guess that is what transpires into my work, hobbies, cooking...:)

Groceries, are no different. In fact, they are wonder store houses for me, So many things to choose from. 'Honey, and milk and chocolate' as Pooh would say. It is because of this habit, I have found out so many fruits, veggies and fish that I love-- plums, peaches, figs, catfish, salmon, mussels, Chantilly--and so much more. You see I grew up in India where so many of these things were not present.  So all these things that are common place were to me one day very interestingly curious. Give me anything local and fresh and I am up for it.

This week I went to the grocery to get some Trout. You all know of my obsession with Trout :). And while the butcher was weighing out my fish, my eyes caught a sight of crab meat. I know they are always there. But I have never bought them really. Okay, maybe once or twice, long time back to make some soup. But that's about it. Nothing of any major value. But that day I just knew what I wanted to try out with those. I got half a pound of it. Some went into the very palatable shagemein and the rest went to this little dish.

I think it is great as a side dish, as a starter, as a filler in sammies and tortilla...And takes so little time :)

Here you are. No big deal really. But I found one easy way to make a flavorful recipe.. that is the fun :)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb crab meat. Shredded coarsely. You can substitute with the 'imitation crabmeat' as well. Will turn out equally well. With a lower price tag :)

1 big bunch ( 6-7 stalks) of green onions or scallions
2 medium size tomatoes. Diced
1.5 cups of parsley
2 cloves of garlic. Minced

1 tbsf olive oil
1 tbsf  smoked paprika. You can use any paprika you have got.
2 cloves.

1 tbsf lemon juice
Salt  and pepper for seasoning

All you do-- needs 5 minutes

Heat oil in a skillet. When oil is hot add the garlic, cloves, tomatoes, parsley, and green onion. Saute for ~ 2 mins. Add the crab meat and paprika. Saute so that everything mixes well. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Take it off the stove.

You are done. Healthy. Pretty. Flavorful. Versatile. As I have said before, you can use it as a side dish, appetizer, filler-- you can fill up a warm tortilla bread with some lettuce, tomato and this crabmeat. Makes for a wonderful wonderful healthy snack. I wish I had a picture to show you how good that looks inside a tortilla. That way you can flavor up your lunch routine :) I do that






Curiosity dosen't always kill the cat


Happy eating and healthy living!

Nov 11, 2009

'Ladies' find okras compelling


What is it about mid week holidays that is not nearly as satisfying as a extended weekend holiday? Guesses..? Takers..?  I have a theory.

It is about momentum i.e. the tendency of doing whatever it is that I have been doing. For example I was working in a lab on monday- tuesday. On wednesday I have thaaat tendency. But there is a break...like a bump in the road. And I have to slow down. I feel compelled to take a break even if I don't have to. And once I am settled in with a non-routine, I have to get into a work mode as soon as the day ends. Not good. This stopping and starting. Makes me very tired.

But its a fun time to loiter around. To call old friends. Friends who used to be soul-mates and yet now, are faces you look at fondly in faded albums. To do some puzzle. Write a story maybe. Clean the house. Listen to some music. Have a mid morning cocktail...browsing through old cookbooks...okay this is getting interesting..:)

I do this frequently. I never look at cookbooks for recipes. I just flip through them, say when I am having coffee. And somehow, my 'beautiful mind' processes all that information and a hotch-potch of it comes to me like a dash of imagination when I am, actually in the kitchen. But some times, very few and far between, I come across a recipe which makes me go, 'I have to do this'. You know that feeling? Almost like a compulsion. I have mentioned before that to me cooking is the best part of food. Eating is the anti-climax. It is all gone so fast. But with such rare recipe-accidents (I prefer to refer to such incidents by the term ' accident' :)), and it feels great to finally be able to eat it.

Todays' is one such. From the book, "Easy Indian In Minutes'. Terrible book. All red colored stuff. Not even remotely good. Very spicy and greasy.  But... lovely photographs.  This one recipe, however, stood out.... maybe for lack of red color and grease? or maybe because of original veggie colors still being intact? or maybe because the picture was so good :)

It is flavorful and simple. The only spice being cumin :)

Here you are...to simple things!

Ingredients:

2 cups of okra sliced into rings. You can use store bought. I prefer fresh and then cutting them. There is a satisfaction to cutting okras. You know that feeling?
3 Tomatoes. Coarsely chopped. Best to cut each into eight pieces.
2 green chili. Chopped. You can strip out the seeds. That way you get the flavors minus the heat. You can also use one big Jalapeno
2 medium onion- diced.

3-4 tbsf of finely chopped cilantro or parsley.
1 tsp freshly grated or minced ginger
2 tbsf Finely chopped mint. Optional

3 tbsf whole cumin seed.
2- 3 tbsf oil. Regular, olive all is good.

Salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

If you want to take the slime off the okras, soak the cut okras in two tbsf of vinegar for 20 minutes. Wash off in hot water. And drain as much of the water as you humanly can :) Will prevent oil from frothing when you place these okras in hot oil. 

All we do is chop and drop.

In a shallow skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds. Ohhhh. the aroma as the seeds hit the oil. Let it fry for ~ 10 secs. Add the onion and fry ~ 2-3 mins. Stir in the ginger and chili/ Jalapeno. Saute for ~ 30 secs. Add the okras and stir so that all of the pieces are covered in the spice-oil. Gently mix all the ingredients and go for 5-6 minutes.

Add the Cilantro/ Parsley, mint ( if you are using them) and tomatoes. Stir well and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Take off the  oven...and just marvel at the colors. So gorgeous. A perfect dish for a cold evening.






On the flip side, you also get your home to smell of cumin and ginger. A great thing..for a short time. Here is a little tip to get food- related smell off the house, especially in the winter months, when you cannot let the super cold in your house. Light a candle and let it burn for sometime. The  gases from the candle has Carbon monoxide which absorbs  aromatic stuff. In 10 minutes you have a clean smelling house. Neat..aint it?


Happy eating and healthy living!














Nov 9, 2009

Sphagemein-- Pasta made Indian Chinese :)


The term is striking.  Sphag-e-mein. You agree. Right? This time R coined it :) Its all about the company one keeps :) :)

To tell you the story about how this dish came about, I need a couple of minutes here. One thing which is common to me and R is Indian Chinese. We adore it. Love it. Crave it. We don't get it. So we have tried looking up recipes, making our own version of what we think is going on in recipes. But we have failed so far. However, yesterday I was desperate. To get it done. And the idea came from a source unrelated to indian Chinese. Erica of My columbian recipes. I made this lovely scrambled eggs  for breakfast and it hit me right then how to get started on making some Indian chinese dish. Profuse thanks my lady.

One big favorite about anyone loving Indian chinese is Chili chicken and Mixed Chowmein.  Two dishes serving as star attractions for 'Chinese' loving Indian population-- from roadside stalls to gourmet restaurants. Between this duo lies the saga of success and failure-- of restaurants which made it to high end gourmet ones and roadside stalls which made it to local stardom to those which ..well did not live to tell the tale. Yes this duo. Turns out the when people in India talk about 'chinese' they are sub consciously (or consciously, as is the case with me) referring to these two dishes-- with the addition of maybe  Asian soup - So I am writing today about really important things here :)  One of them. Will talk about Chili Chicken tomorrow.

Notice the term Chow-e-mein. That is the second half on the dish today. 

Now, I am not the one to go hunting for chowmein type noodles in Indian or Asian Groceries. For one thing I like to do, is take a concept and make a dish of my own using ingredients you find (well.. mostly) in regular grocery stores.  So to the store I go, and get a good packet of lean wheat pasta ( the dish has got to be as healthy as possible so that I can eat guilt free) and in the process I get half a pound of crab meat. For no particular reason. The Pasta gives the dish the first part of the name. Sphag-e-mein

So here is the deal.

I am set to come up with a good enough substitute for Mixed Chowmein (containing shrimps, chicken, onions, tomatoes and chowmein sautéed in a sauce which is great but I have no idea what goes on in there) using  wheat pasta, crabmeat and once again my memory serving as the recipe book.

Did it happen? Stay tuned...sure as hell was fun!

Ingredients:

Pasta: I used a handful of whole wheat which would serve two. You can use any you want. But wheat is healthier. Also if you do have lomein, chowmein feel free to use those. 

2 cloves of garlic. Minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 big bunch ( 6-7) sticks of green onion or scallion. Chopped finely
half a head of onion. Chopped. You can use two shallots as well.
1 medium size tomato. Chopped
1/2 green pepper. Chopped. Optional

1 cup of minced crabmeat
10- 12 deveined shrimps. Optional. 
Half a cup of  boiled chicken. Diced. Optional

2 tbsf Soy sauce
1 tbsf vinegar.
1 tsp oyster sauce. Thanks Ancoo for opening up the possibilities  with this lovely sauce
A pinch of red chili flakes. For heat. Optional

1/2 cup of chicken broth. Hot water would work as well.
1.5 tbsf oil. Use whatever you have at hand. I used regular.

Salt and black pepper for seasoning.

Here comes the sun..I mean the food :)

In a pot, pour water 3/4 th way to the top. Bring it to a boil. Drop the pasta in it carefully. Its one fun thing about doing pasta. How it curls up slowly in the pot :) Anyways keep boiling for 10-15 minutes or till pasta is done. Strain it.

In another skillet, heat the oil and drop the onion, scallion/ green onion, tomato garlic, ginger and saute for 3-4 minutes or till onion browns up a bit.  Stir constantly at relatively high heat. See how colorful this looks!





One quick tip: Never every use more oil or saute for long. It takes the color out of your veggies and the crunch too. And with the color and the crunch goes all the goodies-- vitamins, antioxidants, minerals. All the reasons for adding veggies. 

Add the crabmeat, chicken, shrimp and green pepper (if you are using them). Keep stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add the soy  sauce, vinegar oyster sauce and chili flakes. Keep stirring. 1 minute. Add the pasta. and mix everything very well. 2 minutes. Add the broth and stir for another minute or so. Season with salt and pepper.

Take it off the stove..and hurrahh...you have something of as close as match you can get to Mixed chowmein!! And you know what, I am pretty sure most places in India does not even use oyster sauce. Guess garlic-scallion-ginger- tomatoes transcends national boundaries as far as food is concerned. And food is where we all meet and love :)

When I think of it..a columbian breakfast dish, a nostalgia, a craving...a creation. Healthy and easy. Food is good. It sure is the best thing Human species has come up with :)








Happy living and healthy eating :)

Nov 6, 2009

Lentil soup..with garlic and spinach


Last week I mentioned about a recipe that I had been fantasizing about while making two dishes. Finally that has materialized. And I must say, life would have been sweet if reality mimicked fantasy that well :) The dish turned out exactly the way I thought it would. Or did it turn out that way it did...because I imagined it would?..

Eww..sorry for the stab at Lewis Carol bit of counter logic. True is, the recipe did turn out well. Enough to be able to share it on the blogspot. And it sure enough is totally mine. From the Scratch. No adaptation involved :)

To give you a bit of background. This is a lentil dish. Traditionally very vegetarian in its approach.  Slightly sweet and spicy. What's the word? -- ahh savory. And it would be a sacrilege to tie anything remotely un-vegetarian to it in India, particularly in west bengal where Garlic and onion qualify as un-vegetarian because of the their association with meat/ chicken dishes. Poor poor Garlic. Perfectly vegan..yet un-vegetarian :) Notice the term too. Un-ve-ge-ta-rian. That's what I have coined. Just to be a little more sympathetic to the herb of my choice-- garlic.

So here, I made this lentil soup with garlic and spinach. Three things nobody will ever consider, together. But guess what.. it is lovely. And that is why I think any dish, which can be mixed in, or added upon with almost anything else and tastes great.. is so so very dynamic.  Garlic spinach is one such dish. I mean you cannot go wrong with three flavorful things right?

So here it is

Ingredients

1 cup of lentil. I use yellow lentil. But sure as hell you can use any. Just soak it overnite of you are using the regular one from grocery stores.

6 cups of water. Be prepared to add more if things dry out while making this dish
1 tbsf olive oil

1 big bunch of baby spinach. You can use regular spinach and chop it up coarsely.
A handful of pea- frozen or otherwise. Optional. If using frozen, thaw it by soaking in water for 30 minutes before using
1 medium size tomato- optional. Chopped up wit the seeds scooped out

2 cloves of garlic. You can decide on this one. Its totally up to you to chose based on your garlic fondness.

Salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning

There is nothing much to do-- really.

Wash the lentils throughly and place in a pot and add 4.5 cups of water. Boil till the lentils are soft. Takes anything between 15-20 minutes depending on the type of lentil you are using. Add water if you see it drying out.

In a skillet, heat the oil and once hot, add the crushed garlic. The aroma..um um um.
Fry for 10 secs, and then add the baby spinach, tomato and pea ( if you are using them) and wait for the spinach to wilt down. Give everything one big stir. Add the boiled lentils along with any water you have in that pot. Add another 1.5 cups of water, stir and wait for everything to reach a boil.  Once it starts boiling, season with salt and pepper and take it off the stove.

Your lovely garlicky, lentil soup ready to be served.

You can have it just by itself or with bread or ladle it over a  warm bowl of rice. It will throw you off. It is so tasty.






Happy eating and healthy living