Monthly Archives: June 2015

Strawberry fruit roll up with a kiss of spice

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There is something special about the fruits in season. Although you get strawberries pretty much throughout the year in the supermarket, the ones you get in the Farmers market right in middle of june are just out of this world. Super sweet, juicy and red to the core, they are perfect to make many dishes. I always make Strawberry preserve and of course strawberry ice-cream & milkshake. I also dehydrate the strawberries for a later use.

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Yesterday when I went to market I got a large flat of berries, when I got home I realized that they had to be eaten today. Since that was practically impossible, I decided to try something fun, decided to make a fruit leather with half of the berries.

Berries in summer

Whenever we talk about Fruit leather, I think of the summers in India. I fondly remember my mom making fruit leather with jackfruit and mango pulp. She would make the pulp and pour in the steel plates. Those plates would go out on the terrace and in the 90-110 F , the fruit leather would be ready in a day or two. Many times before my mom could bring the dried fruit leather inside, we would already picked a few pieces, it was just too hard to resist.

Today I decided to make the fruit leather but as many other dishes I decided to add a little spice to it. One of the favorite things I recall from summers growing up is the ‘Kokum’ drink. Kokum is a fruit, very tart in taste, very pretty color and had amazing medicinal properties. It is known to aid in weight loss and also has a cooling effect on the body.

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When my Mom makes a sherbet/drink with Kokum, she always add a pinch of roasted cumin and some rock salt.  The Kokum color is a pretty pink, just like the strawberries so I decided to bring in those flavors in my fruit leather.

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Ingredients

1 lb of ripe strawberries

1-2 tbsp of sugar

1/2 tsp lime juice

1/4 tsp rock salt/black salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

  
 

Method

Grind the strawberries in a blender, add sugar & lime juice and grind again. Now stir in all the dry ingredients.

If you have dehydrator you can use that or just go with good old sun dried method.

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Depending on the method you are using and the thickness of the leather, it will be ready in 6-24 hours.

Now lay the dried leather on a parchment paper. Cut in strips 2-3 inch wide and roll it up. Your Strawberry fruit leather is ready to enjoy.

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Veggies on the barbecue

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Veggies ready for the grill

Stuffed peppers

I love making this pepper, they are so colorful and appetizing. They are almost sweet in taste and pair well with spicy fillings. They are perfect bite size, you can just pick it up with the stem and pop it in your mouth. I try to make a couple of varieties, one with the vegetarian filling and the other with some meat.

Take 1: Vegetarian

Ingredients

 

2 potatoes boiled and mashed

1/4 red onion finely chopped

1/2 tbsp chopped mint

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 serrano pepper finely chopped

1/2 tsp Saunf, roasted

1/2 tsp Cumin seeds

1/4 tsp Coriander seeds

1/2 tsp Black salt

1/2 cup grated paneer

1 pinch of Kasoori Methi

Method

Take all the dry spices, roast lightly & pound it in a mortar & pestle. I feel grinding fresh spices make a huge difference in the taste of the dish.

Mix everything together.

Make slits in the pepper and fill it with the stuffing.

You can pan fry them but I think I like them the most when they are grilled. I have this pan that you can use on the grill, I love it. You get the flavors of the charcoal grill and can easily cook the peppers & flip them easily. I also use it to grill the fish, make Paneer Tikka.

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Brush the peppers with some oil, and cook till you see some nice black spots.

 

Spiced Cauliflower

tri color cauliflower

I am one of those people who love, love cauliflower. I make Cauliflower soup which is a perfect beginning for a winter meal. I can eat a whole head of cauliflower for a snack, roasted, steamed all of it. So I decided to try the cauliflower on the grill..my favorite way of cooking.

This is so simple to make but turned out really great.

Ingredients

 

1 head of Cauliflower broken into bite size pieces

Oil to cover all the pieces

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp Chili powder

1/2 tsp dry ginger powder

salt to taste

2 tbsp Chickpea flour ( Besan)

Method

Make sure all the pieces are of similar size, that way when you cook them, they will get cooked at the same time.

Mix the cauliflower pieces with oil, and toss it very well. You dont want to be stingy when it comes to oil, it is needed to make these pieces crispy. And most of it will burn off on the grill.

Mix in all the dry spices including salt.

Now add besan and mix well.

Cook it in a basket. I love this idea since it is easy to keep tossing as it is cooking.

 

Cook until crispy. Make sure you keep the heat medium, if it is too hot, the pieces will be burnt but not cooked through.

Marinated Vegetables

BBQ Basket

You can not go wrong with this recipe. The vegetables are so flavorful and the grill adds an additional layer of flavor. I use whatever I have on hand, though it always has some sort of peppers and mushroom. This time I used, red bell pepper and shishito peppers and some zucchini. I love adding large pieces of onions, they taste amazing when they are nicely caramelized on the grill.

Basically you make a vinaigrette  and toss whatever you have on hand in it.

Ingredients

6 cups Mushrooms whole

2 cups Shishito peppers

1 red onion quartered and then separated into single layers

1 zucchini cut into bite size pieces

1 red bell pepper cut into large square

2 cloves of garlic crushed

1/3 cup olive oil

2-3 tbsp  Balsamic Vinegar

Fresh crushed black pepper

salt

4 tbsp chopped fresh herbs like Parsley, mint, basil

Method

Mix all the ingredients except the vegetables in a large bowl, whisk it well. Toss in all the vegetables and keep aside for at least 2 hour.

Grill it in the basket, tossing to make sure it is grilled from all the side.

 

Grilled cherries

When I first read about it, I thought it was completely crazy but decided to give it a try. It is a painful process to pit the cherries but I think this recipe makes it worth it.

Ingredients

4 cups of pitted Cherries

1 tbsp Agave nectar

2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 tbsp butter

Method

Layer the cherries on an aluminum foil on the grill tray on the grill. This will ensure that all the juices stay inside. Cook for 7-8 mins. While it is cooking mix the rest of ingredients.Pour over the cherries and cover the cherries to make a packet.

Cook for another 10-12 mins. Take the whole packet on a plate, open carefully. What you will see inside is a ooey gooey yummy fruity topping. 🙂

You can serve with vanilla ice cream..but I think it tastes the yummiest with ‘sweetened ricotta cheese’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled trout with herbs

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I love summers especially since we can enjoy barbeque outside. There is something special about this time of the year when you get abundant  vegetables and fresh herbs in the farmers market, all the produce is at its peak and taste great.

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I love summers also because we can grill out side. You can just have meats and veggies ready and when everyone gathers, just throw them on the grill and you got yourself a meal. There are two camps when it comes to grill, the coal one and the non-coal one, we for sure belong to the first one. In my opinion nothing beats the taste of fresh corn on the cob just grilled to perfection on the coals. The chicken tikka with the smoky flavor of the coal tastes amazing. So as you can see we love grilling with coals.

So today we had a few friends over for BBQ. I had marinated a lot of veggies, made some stuffed pepper , there was fresh corn on the cob, some couscous, masala chicken and my son decided to make some fish.

Veggies ready for the grill

When it comes to fish I am very picky, not because I want to be  but because of the fact that I can only eat fresh water fish. I am ok with catfish, bass etc but can not eat salmon.

So when my son decided to make trout and that too whole fish, I was a little skeptical but decided to go along. He went and bought the trout from Whole Foods, and made it with very simple ingredients..but man it tasted so yummy. It was delicate yet flavorful.

Ingredients

4 whole fresh water trouts

few sprigs of dill

few leaves of sage

few sprigs of parsley

few taregon leaves

2 lemons sliced

salt & pepper

Olive oil

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Method

With a sharp boning knife slice the fish horizontally.

Apply some olive oil both inside & outside.

Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Layer the inside with some herbs and lemon slices.

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Let it sit for 10-15 mins covered.

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Brush the grill with olive oil. And place the fish gently on the grill.Cook for 3-4 mins on the first side and then a couple of minutes on the other side.

To serve

Take the main bone out, take the fins, head and tail off. Make into fillet and serve. My son did an amazing job of taking the main bone out and filleting the cooked fish.


Shrimps in smoky chipotle sauce

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Shrimps in smoky chipotle sauce

Fancy Mexican- trio on a plate Jun 23, 2015, 7-15 PM

Last night’s meal was theme based and the theme was ‘Smoke’. All the dishes made had an element of ‘smoke’. It also had another common theme that the flavors were from Mexican/Latin cuisine. So I made three dishes, ‘Barley risotto’, Roasted corn and Mango Salad’ &  Chipotle shrimps. It was yummy. I loved the fact that it used the summer ingredients and was perfect for the warm weather.

I try to ensure that the meals are balanced so in this meal with have barley for the starch, shrimps for the protein and corn & mango for the vegetables.

Shrimps in smoky chipotle sauce

The recipes was based on many recipes I have read and eaten, so thank you to those folks for inspiring me. It is easy to make and you can play with the ingredients to get the right taste for your family.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb of shrimps, peeled and deveined

1 tsp crushed garlic

2 tbsp flour

1 large tomato , quarterd

1/2 large white onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 chipotle chilies

2 tbsp cilantro

1 tbsp oil

1/2 tbsp molasses

1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp paprika

 
Method

Saute the onions and garlic until tender, dont let them burn. Grind the tomatoes, along with the sauted onions & garlic.

Take the shrimps in a bowl,add some salt, crushed garlic, chopped cilantro & mix it well. Add a couple of tbsp of flour and mix well.

Heat some more oil in a pan. Sauté the shrimps till then are a little under done. Remember they will cook more when we heat them up with the sauce. Take the shrimps out on a plate.

In the same pan, add some more oil or butter. Add the blended tomato paste to the pan and cook for a few minutes, add molasses and worchestire sauce to taste. Once the sauce comes together nicely, add back the shrimps.

Serve with a rice or potatoes on the side. Last night I served it with the Barley Risotto & Roasted Corn Salsa.

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Mexican risotto…wholy Smokes !

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I love making dinners based on a theme, love bringing all the elements of the meal together. Sometimes the common thread can be a cuisine, an ingredient, season or sometimes it can be a cooking technique. Tonight’s meal was Smoking hot.

I love the smoky flavor in dishes, be it a spice like a smoked paprika, smoky pepper like chipotle, smoked gouda, hickory smoked meats or smoking a cooked dish using a traditional ‘Dhuri’ technique from India. I just learnt that the Dhuni technique is used very extensively in a Dham cooking. I make this condiment with Walnut Chutney, a recipe from the northern indian Kashmiri cuisine, where I use a hot coal & ghee to create the smoke to flavor the dish.

Going back to my dinner theme tonight, so if you have not already guessed, the theme was ‘smoking’. I made this Barley Risotto with a mexican twist, Shrimps in tomato based sauce & Corn salad. Each dish had a ‘smoky’ element to it. Today I am sharing the recipe for the risotto. The smoky flavors come from the roasted poblanos and smoked paprika.

As I mentioned, my family is trying to eat only whole grains and use as little processed food as possible. So I try to make different grains every day, rotating between brown rice,quinoa, bulgur, wild rice, farro, whole wheat & barley. Today it was barley’s turn. So I decided to make this dish, I think it tasted like the risotto, and since I incorporated the mexican flavors, I called it Mexican risotto. Barley is a very commonly eaten in many parts of the world. It is known for many good things including calming your stomach down. My grandmom used to give us barley water when we went a little crazy eating garbanzo beans. 🙂

Ingredients

1 cup of Barley

1/2 white onion finely chopped

1 garlic chopped

2 Poblano peppers

1 tbsp Cilantro chopped

1/2 cup cream

1/4 cup white wine ( optional)

1/2 tbsp Smoked Paprika

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1 tbsp oil

 
Method

Pressure cook barley with a little bit of salt & 2 1/2 cups of water. I like to cook it in a little more water so it cooks and has extra starchy liquid, this makes the dish creamy with little amount of cream. 
Roast the poblanos until charred. Keep them covered in a bowl and when cooled peel and chop.

Heat oil, saute onions & garlic. When lightly browned, add the chopped poblano and paprika. Now add the wine if using and cook for 2-3 mins.

Add the barley along with the cooking liquid and mix through. Adjust the salt.

Add the cream and heat it through.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Sometimes I add chorizo to make it a one pot meal. I saute the chorizo, when cooked remove it on a plate. In the rendered fat, saute the onions etc and follow the rest of the steps.

Kozhi Korma – a delicious curry with southern indian flavors

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Kozhi Korma

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When I came to the US of A, I barely knew how to cook. I still remember my first attempt at making a ‘Capsicum- Potato’ stir-fry, it was a disaster. I underestimated how big the bell peppers were and created more of a mess than a stir-fry. I used to call my Mom practically every day to ask for recipes, and call to India would cost $1.2. I think I used to spend just as much money on phone calls for making dinner as I spent for groceries.   Internet was not available so the only source was cook books and of course, Call Mom.

Fast forward a few years, internet came along and so did Facebook. I sometimes wonder how we lived our lives before the internet was around. I love being able to learn about  different cultures, their traditions and rituals, and naturally along with that their cuisines.  I love sharing what I have learnt and along the way learn a few things from people who are generous enough to share their knowledge. I am learning how to bake, how to take good pictures and so much more.

One such source is a Facebook group I am part of, it is all about honest to goodness food. Many talented chef are part of that group and share some amazing tried and tested recipes. One such recipe is ‘Kozhi Korma’, my co food lover Harjeet shared it.

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It is amazingly easy to make but very very yummy. It uses very basic ingredients that you would have in your pantry and comes together very quickly. I like the fact that it comes together in less than 30 mins.

Ingredients

1 lB chicken ( I prefer using boneless since my family likes it that way)

3 Tablespoon Oil
2 Teaspoon Ginger chopped
3 Teaspoon Garlic chopped
3 Tablespoons Coconut milk
2 Teaspoons Green chili chopped
2 Teaspoons Chopped coriander
10 Curry leaves
4 Tablespoons Onions chopped
4 Tablespoons Tomatoes chopped
1 Teaspoon Aniseed
1 Teaspoon Mustard seeds
1″ Cinnamon
5 Cloves
Salt to taste
1 Teaspoon Turmeric
3 Teaspoons Coriander power
2 Teaspoons Red chili powder
2 Teaspoons Tamarind pulp
1 Teaspoon Curry powder

Kozhi Korma Ingredients 1


Method


Heat oil in a Lagan add mustard seeds,cinnamon,clove & curry leaves
Add onion and sauté for them for a while.  

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Now add chicken along with  chopped ginger, garlic, green chili & stir fry for a while. Add all dry spices and sauté them for a while,add some water and cook till chicken is little tender.

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Add chopped tomatoes and add coconut milk. Add tamarind pulp and check for seasoning.Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with steamed rice.

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Bulgur polow with barberries & Pistachios

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As a family we have decided to minimize the consumption of processed food, and we are trying to eat more whole grain as possible. As a part of this exercise I make many different grains like Barley, Whole wheat, millet etc, but sometimes when I am in a hurry, I use bulgur wheat, it cooks faster than the whole wheat and can lend itself very well to many dishes.

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Bulgur polow

I like to use similar  flavors throughout the meal. So when I decided to make Grilled Halloumi with mint sauce, I also decided to flavor my bulgur with the same flavors. This bulur packs a lot of delicious flavors and compliments any meat / veg dish.

 

Ingredients

1 cup bulgur

2.5 cups water

salt to taste

1/2 cup barberries ( if you can not find these, you can use cranberries instead)

1/2 cup lightly roasted pistachios

1/4 cup mint leaves

dressing

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

 

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Method

Cook the bulgur as per the instructions and keep aside to cool. I boil the water, add bulgur and cook for 7-8 mins, cover the pot and let it steam to complete cooking.

Make dressing by whisking together the pomegranate molasses and olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Mix in the cooled bulgur. If you are using cranberries, you can add a little more molasses since the cranberries are not as tart as the barberries.

Mix in the barberries, pistachios and mint.  You can serve this as a side to the Chicken Koobideh Kabab.

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Grilled halloumi with mint sauce

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I love summer…love the hot weather, abundance of produce and of course there is light till much later. We love to sit out on the patio and have dinner. So I try to make simple dinners for summer, something that show cases the fresh herbs, light and fun to eat.

Last week in the farmers market I got a really nice bunch of mint and eggplants. I wanted to make something with those..then when I went to Trader Joe’s, I saw fresh halloumi and there…dinner was planned.

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I decide to make grilled halloumi with mint sauce along with grilled eggplants.

Ingredients

Halloumi cheese sliced

1 Large eggplant

Mint sauce

1/2 cup of mint leaves

1 clove of garlic

1/8 th cup Cashews

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Method

Slice the eggplant in 1/8th inch thick slices and salt them from both sides. Set aside and you will see that the salt takes out some moisture along with some bitterness.

After 30 mins, dry the eggplant slices and grill them on a griddle pan.

Wash the halloumi to remove any excess salt it might have, pat dry and also grill on the griddle. I use Cuisinart Panini maker.

Sauce

Grind all the ingredients till well blended.

To present stack the eggplant slice with the cheese slice, drizzle with the mint sauce and top with ‘Pomegranate molasses pearls’.  You can buy  Pomegranate molasses in any middle eastern store, I love using it many recipes. It is basically pomegranate juice that is reduced till it gets a thick syrupy consistency. I make pearl using agar agar and pomegranate molasses.

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I love making this as a part of the middle eastern feast- Chicken Koobideh, Bulgur polow  & the grilled cheese with mint sauce.