Category Archives: Indian

Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

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Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

It will be one year since I auditioned for Master Chef India. It has been an incredible journey and I loved every minute of it. It started with just a casual conversation with friends, them pushing me to go for the audition. I never in my imagination thought that one simple audition could lead me to the most exciting time in my life.

When I got selected from San Francisco and reached India for the next rounds, I met so many wonderful people and little did I know that we will friends for lifetime.

I am so thankful to God for this wonderful opportunity. This post is dedicated to all that I am thankful for, my family, friends, food on the table, and here is many more such amazing opportunities to come!

I always have loved the traditional recipes, the history behind them, the love you feel when you eat them, all the memories they bring back. I feel it is up to us to preserve them and pass them on to the next generation.

But there are always new things to learn and expand your horizons. New spice, new technique, new way of plating or a new ingredient, it changes everything about the dish completely.

So today’s recipe is a new take on a age old recipe, Kheer. Made in many ways, but it always signifies celebration, joy, festivities. Rice, Milk and sugar cooked together, it is that simple and yet that comforting. So many cultures have variations of this, Isarel, Syria where its called ‘Roz Bhaleeb’, Iran and even Mexico where you get to eat ‘Arroz con leche’ which is flavored with cinnamon.

Its amazing to see how food connects people, does not matter what is your nationality, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. One of my favorite books ‘Korma Kheer Kismet by Pamela Timms. It is a fascinating chronicle of the author who lived and experienced five seasons in Delhi and her food memories

Korma,Kheer and Kismet; Five seasons in old Delhi by Timms (2014-07-01)

Just like her I fell in love with Old Delhi. Old Delhi is a walled city established by the Mughal Emperor Shaha Jahan in the early 1600s. You must visit old Delhi if you want to some of the best delicacies. Especially during the festivals like Ramdan ( Eid-ul-Fitr), the whole area is filled with aroma that is so inviting. Fried chicken, samosa, Jalebi, Faluda and so much more.

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When I visited Old Delhi, I had to visit the Kheer shop, Bade Miyan ki Kheer. I must say that by far is the most delicious thing I have ever had. The shop only sells Kheer, and it is to die for.  My insta story says it all.

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Today I decided to take that Kheer and present it in a little differently. I have tried to keep the essence of the dish intact, I hope you all enjoy it.

Kheer Panna Cotta

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Ingredients

Panna cotta

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3-4 star Anise
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  •  3/4 cup rice
  • 1 tsp agar agar powder

Syrup

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • water as needed

Method

Panna cotta

  • Take 2.5 cups of milk and whipping cream, sugar  and warm it in a sauce pan.
  • Slightly crush the star anise and cardamom and add to the milk mixture, until it almost comes to a boil. Turn the heat off
  • Let the mixture cool for a few hours.
  • While the milk mixture is resting, take 1 cup of milk and rice, and cook on low heat for at least 40 mins. You don’t want to rush this step and this is what gives you a creamy texture.
  • Stain the milk cream mixture and discard the spices
  • When the rice is almost cooked, add the spiced milk and cook more
  • While the rice is cooking, take 1/2 cup of Milk and warm it up to 100 F
  • Mix agar-agar in the 1/2 cup warm milk and mix thoroughly
  • Add the agar mixture to the cooked rice
  • Pour it in glasses and set it in the fridge

Syrup

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, use water if need to thin it to a pouring consistency

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To serve

When ready to serve, keep the glass in warm water to loosen it. Pour the sauce on a plate and gentle put the unmolded pudding/kheer on the plate.

I garnished it with dried rose petals and a pistachio tuile with rose. I will share that recipe soon.

Enjoy!

Eid Mubarak!

 

 

 
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Nepalese Fiddlehead Ferns

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I love going to the farmers market no matter where I go. So when I walked to the ferry building in San Francisco yesterday, I decided to swing by the market and pick up something for dinner. I picked up some kumquats and Lisbon lemons. I went inside the building. That building is one of my favorite places to visit, yummy baked goods, flavorful olive oils, natural soap, ice-cream, so many fun things to try. 

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There is a shop that is  my favorite shop, they carry different kinds of mushroom among other interesting things. I visit them every time I go there.  Today I saw some morels, ramps and fiddlehead ferns. I was so excited because I have never cooked ramps or fiddlehead before. I bought them and planned my dinner around it.
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Today I saw some morels, ramps and fiddlehead ferns. I was so excited because I have never cooked ramps or fiddlehead before. I bought them and planned my dinner around it.
When I started reading about it I found out that even though Fiddlehead ferns are not common across India, the northern states of India use it when in season. In Kashmir region, these are pickled as well. You cook it with some dry spices with potatoes.
In Nepal it is used as well.  I remembered that when I visited Nepal in Feb 2015, I had eaten ‘ Neuro ko Tarkari’ and I had loved it . So today I decided to make a Nepalese recipe with these fiddleheads.
Like all other Nepalese recipe, it is very easy to make and quite simple.
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Ingredients

  •  3-4 cups Fiddlehead ferns
  • 2-3 tbsp Clarified butter/ Ghee
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 green chili chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin powder ( optional)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder (optional)

Method

  • With a soft brush remove the brown fuzzy part from the ferns
  • Cut off the fat, tough stems ( just like asparagus)
  • Boil a pot of salted water and blanch the ferns
  • Chop roughly or leave it whole. I left mine whole since they were baby size
  • Heat ghee, when hot add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds chili and turmeric
  • Add chopped garlic and saute lightly. Dont let the garlic burn
  • Add the blanched ferns
  • Saute for a couple of mins, add the ground spices
  • Serve as a side dish

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Til-Gul Babka Jewish Indian bread

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Nothing is more appetizing than the smell of freshly made bread. Be it the fresh roti that is made right on the stove top or a loaf of bread baked in the oven.. it calls everyone to the kitchen and around the dining table. I am not much of a baker, I do bake cakes occasionally but it does not come to me naturally. I feel cakes are way easier than the breads, when you start baking breads, you are going closer to the science than art.

After MasterChef, one of the goals has been to bake more often and since my family is not too much into the cakes, and I like to challenge myself, I am planning to bake more breads and try new techniques.

January is one of my favorite months. This is the month of resolutions, new beginnings and many more things. One of the things is Hurda, its my most favorite thing on this face earth, and this is the time we celebrate Sankranti. This is the only festival in Maharashtra that is based on a Solar/Gregorian calendar, rest of them are all lunar calendar based. Sankranti is celebrated on the 14th of Jan, and other parts of India celebrate this festival with different names, Pongal in southern India, Bihu in Eastern India, Uttarayan in Western India and Lohri in Northern India.  The common theme is great food and happiness and most of the  sweets  are made from Sesame seeds and Jaggery. Both these foods create ‘heat’ in the body and hence eaten during this winter season.

Going back to my baking breads, as you know, I love combining flavors. I had seen this sesame bread recipe on pintrest and that is also my source of inspiration today.So I decided to make this bread which is fit for the Sankrant and something new. Here it comes;

Til Gul Babka

 

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I know right, it sounds crazy but tasted yummy, if you are into sweet breads, you might want to give it a try. This recipe is quite versatile and can be easily made into a savory bread as well, all you have to change is the filling and you are good to go.

I had read about this technique of ‘Tangzhong‘ and decided to try using it with this bread. I think it definitely helped keep the bread very moist. Tangzhong is a a Japanese technique, it makes for a very sticky dough that is very tricky to handle, but thats what makes for the very soft final product.

Tangzhong is nothing else but a paste made with flour and water, you cook it to almost a roux like consistency. You cool it and mix it in the dough.It sounds so simple and it is, but let me tell you, it created incredibly soft almost pillowy bread.

I think I am so in love this technique that I think I will end up using in everything I bake. 🙂

Back to the recipe

Ingredients

Tangzhong

  • 50 g  Flour
  • 1 cup milk

Bread dough

  • 350 g Bread Flour ( about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 salt
  • 65 g sugar ( about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup warm Milk
  • 2 tsp Yeast
  • About 1 cup Tangzhong
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Filling

  • 1/2 cup Crushed Jaggery ( you can use dark brown sugar if you can not find jaggery)
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanut
  • 4 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 4-5 Tbsp ghee ( or softened unsalted butter)

Method

Making Tangzhong

  • Mix in the water and flour to form a good slurry
  • Cook it on low flame till it thickens. It should be a little less thick that a mashed potatoes. One way to check is if you stop stirring, does the mixture stays in circles and you can see the bottom of the pan
  • Take it off the heat, cover with a plastic wrap, making sure it touches the surface of the paste. This will ensure that no crust forms
  • Cool the Tangzhong to use later

Making the filling

  • Grind all the ingredients except the ghee and molasses
  • Mix the powder in ghee and molasses to make a paste

Making the dough

  • Warm up the milk and add the yeast. Leave it aside for 10-15 mins for it to foam up
  • Until then mix, Flour, Salt, sugar, sesame seeds
  • Add an egg and mix
  • Now add the yeast and milk mixture and mix for 30 secs
  • Add the tangzhong that is cooled
  • Now knead the dough in the stand mixer for 10-15 mins
  • Keep adding softened butter while the mixer is running
  • The dough will be a very wet dough, don’t worry. If the dough sticks to the bottom of the bowl, don’t worry
  • Take a greased bowl and transfer the dough.Let the dough roof for at least 2 hours.
  • I like to proof my dough in the fridge, so I can use it when I am ready
  • The dough should double in size

Assembling it together

  • Punch and deflate the dough
  • Roll it into a reactangle
  • Spread the filling evenly

Shaping the bread

  • Take the rolled log and cut it along the length with a sharp knife
  • Twist the two parts together to form a braid keeping the cut side up
  • Take a bread loaf pan that is greased and lined with a parchment paper
  • Add the dough in it and let it rest for at least 60 mins

Baking

  • Heat the oven at 350 F
  • Brush the dough with egg wash and bake for 25-30 mins in a 350F

Note:

  1. This dough was a little more than a standard bread loaf can handle, so I removed about 1/3 cup dough before shaping it
  2. If you can not find molasses, you can substitute with honey

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Pakatali Poori- Saffron- Lemon flavored bread

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I not only love to cook and learn new foods, but also love to learn about the ‘Old foods’. I feel in this era of instant and quick foods, we are missing out on some incredible dishes. We dont know how to use certain ingredients and soon those will become extinct. A lot of the dishes our gradmoms made, have never been a part of the food at our table.

I am thankful to books like Ruchira, we have access to at least a few of the Maharashtrian recipes. Its a book that is given as a wedding gift to every new bride in Maharashtra. I have used it extensively as when I got married, I did not know how to cook. I would call my mom but 1 minute call to India costed $1.90 and there was no internet. So getting cookbooks, going to the library and watching cooking shows was how I learnt my cooking.

Going back to the ‘lost recipe’, this recipe is almost on the verge of it. Today is Vasant Panchami, a day that marks the arrival of the ‘Vansant ( spring)’ season and you also worship Goddess Saraswati on this day.

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 This is a very special recipe because of Baba’s aunt used to make it, and she made it really well. I thought, why not make something I have never made before,after all Saraswati is a goddess of Knowledge, and what better tribute than a new( old) recipe. 

I have made  a couple of small modifications o the original recipe, I mixed half Rava and half all purpose flour, also rolled the poori like you roll the Chirota or Khaja ( another Maharashtrian delicacy)

It is a very easy recipe and you will find most of the needed ingredients at home. 

Pakatali Poori

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Ingredients 

Poori

  • 1/2 cup fine rave
  • 1/2 cup All purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp Ghee ( clarified butter) melted and slightly warm
  • 3 tbsp sour full fat yogurt 
  • Pinch of salt

Syrup

  • 1 cup fine sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom powder
  • Saffron strands
  • Juice of 1 Meyer Lemon

Method

Poori

  • Mix the rave and APF together with salt
  • Add warm ghee and rub it well in the dry mixture
  • Add dahi to make a stiff dough. If the yogurt/dahi is not sour, you can leave it on the counter so it turns sour. It is crucial since that it what gives these pooris or breads a nice taste
  • Let the dough rest for at least an hour. If you have used only Rava, you would need to let it rest for 2 hours
  • After 2 hours, pound the dough, this is necessary to make it pliable. If you have a stand up mixer, you can use the dough attachment to do the work 

Syrup

  • Mix sugar and water and cook till its ‘2 string stage’ *
  • Heat a pan on very low flame, add the saffron strands and slightly roast them. You are just warming them and not quite roasting. Warming them makes them crumbly and hence they mix well in the syrup
  • Add cardamom powder, saffron and the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Keep the syrup on a low flame, but keep it warm. This ensures that the syrup soaks in the Pooris. If the syrup is not warm enough, it will only create a coat on the outside

Making the Pooris

  • Heat oil in a deep pan
  • You can roll the Pooris like a regular flat bread, or
  • Roll out a big poori. Make a roll and cut into 4-5 pieces
  • Flatten those pieces again to make a poori
  • Fry the poori till golden brown
  • Drain and immediately add them to the warm syrup. 
  • Ater 10-15 mins, take them out and arrange on a plate
  • If you like, you can user slivered almonds or pistachios as well

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Pineapple sasave- sasam

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Summer vacations are even more focused on food in my household. We love making new dishes using abundant produce. We all look forward to elaborate meals on the patio accompanied with some jazz in the back ground. I have been meaning to blog this for a long time, but when I was planning the menu today, this just fit right in, so here it is

Last time when we visited India, we visited family in Goa. For those who dont know where Goa is, it is a western coastal state of India. Known for its beautiful vibrant beaches and amazing sea food, this state offers a great cuisine. Since Portuguese settled here, the goan cuisine is influenced by the Portuguese cuisine. There are  some recipes that are typical of the christian household and some that are more  Hindu cuisine. No matter which one you pick, it is great food for sure .

The family we visited, Didi who is the lady of the house, is amazing cook. She had made a spread that we enjoyed so much. Her home is also very beautiful, courtyard, brick walls, it is so inviting and warm. One of the recipes she made is Ananas Sasave- pineapple curry.

PIneapple

Pineapple

In summer, I love cooking with fruits and Pineapple goes so well with so many things. Tangy, sweet I love it in many dishes.

This dish has everything, a bit of sweet, a bit of sour, a bit of spice and everything nice. It is very easy to make and tastes good hot or room temperature. I love to eat it with piping hot rice and a dash of ghee. It is very easy to make, comes together in 15 mins.

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I made this as a part of the meal, prawn curry, raw banana Kaape, rice and papad.

Ingredients:

sasam ingredients

sasam ingredients

 

Paste

1 cup of fresh grated coconut

1 tsp of mustard seeds

1 small piece of tamarind

1-2 green chilies

For tempering

1 tbsp oil ( I used coconut oil)

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 pinch of asafetida

1 spring of curry leaves

1 dry red chili

Other 

3 cups of cubed pineapple

1 tbsp jaggery

salt to taste

Method

Make a fine paste of all the ingredients listed under paste. The finer the better, but use as little water as possible.

You can add water later, but try to grind with a little amount.

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Heat the pan and heat coconut oil, make sure you cook on medium heat otherwise the oil can smoke.

Add mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and dry red chilies. saute for a few secs, and add pineapple pieces. Add salt, stir and cook for a few minutes covered.

Add the ground paste and cook on low heat. Add jaggery and taste for salt.

Your sasave is ready.

This dish awakens all the senses, it is  a riot of flavors  in your mouth.

 

Goan Thali

Goan Thali

 

 

Soya Pyaaz Ki Seekh kabob

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I love summers. Abundant produce, long days and backyard barbecues. I love anything and everything that comes off the grill. The smoky aroma it imparts to the food is so appetizing. We have grilled all the way till October, even when it is raining with an umbrella in the hand, umbrella not for us but for the grill 😉

Today it was a gorgeous evening, the first moon was in the sky. It marks the beginning of Ramdan.  It was not too hot, prefect temperature to have a meal on the patio.


I love summer produce and can almost go vegetarian in summer but then the kabobs call my name, and I melt.

This recipe today sort of helps me be vegetarian on Monday. It is perfect for the #meatlessmondays and the grill.

I love watching all food shows but there are some favorites and master chef is one of them. I loved the indian version more because there was Vikas Khanna and there was Ranveer Brar ;). Recently I got a chance to meet with Vikas Khanna( thanks to a dear friend)


A local organization Women’s now is hosting a cooking competition  and Ranveer will be the judge, so now I can not wait to meet Ranveer.

Today’s recipe is based on his recipe. I made a few tweaks, it is a keeper


Ingredients

1.5 cup soya chunks or 1 cup granules

1 large potato

1/2 onion finely chopped

1-2 green chilies chopped

1 tsp Shahi Jeera

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp crushed coriander seeds

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1 pinch cardamom powder

1-2 drops of liquid smoke

A few mint leaves chopped

Cilantro chopped

Salt to taste

Method

  • Boil the potato, peel and mash well.
  • Soak the soya chunks in hot water for 15-20 mins. Drain and squeeze out excess water.
  • Pulse in the food processor to get a minced meat like consistency.
  • In a pan heat the oil, add jeera when the oil is hot. Sauté for a few seconds.
  • Add the chopped onions and chilies and sauté on medium heat till brown.
  • Add these onions to the soya mixture along with potatoes and rest of the ingredients.
  • Make patties and shallow fry in a pan or make long rolls and shape lo a kabob on a skewer. Cook till crispy outside.
  • Remember everything else is cooked so make sure you don’t let the kabob dry out.

I served it with a Rose-strawberry coconut smoothie with chia seeds, it seemed to somehow compliment the colors of the sky.

Lighter butter chicken or pulled chicken in curry sauce

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We as a family love chicken. It provides a great source of protein and can be cooked in many ways. Any who knows anything about the indian food knows one dish for sure, ‘Butter chicken or Chicken tikka masala’. My kids love CTM  as well. However the standard recipe for the sauce for CTM or BC is loaded with cream.  I saw this recipe Sharmishta posted and took inspiration to make a lighter version of CTM.

Often times when you make chicken breast it tends to dry out and then it is no fun to eat. The steps in this recipe ensure that you have a moist chicken.

For CTM, the chicken is grilled and made into Tikka and then added to the sauce, here we will try to bring in some of those flavors using another shortcut.

I am learning Spanish and I am obsessed with it. So to practice while I am cooking, just for fun, I have listed some ingredients in Spanish.

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Ingredients

For the chicken stock:
1 lb Boneless Chicken breast piece flattened with a kitchen pallet
1 onion cubed
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2″ pc of ginger
Few cilantro stems
Whole garam masala (cloves , cinnamon, cardamom and star anise)

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For the sauce:
2-3 Onions chopped finely
1/2 Tomato puree
1 tspn ginger garlic paste
Salt acc to taste
1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilli powder
1 tsp Coriander seeds powder
1 tsp Kasoori Methi
Garam masala pwd
2-3 tbspn cream
2 bay leaves
1-2 tspn Tandoori Masala
Ghee
Oil

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1 few drops of liquid smoke ( optional)

For the tempering
1 tbspn ghee
1 tspn finely chopped garlic
1 Whole red chilli

Method

First boil water in a large pan and add the ingredients listed under stock. Once the water becomes flavorful add the chicken pieces and bring it to a boil. Turn the gas off and let the chicken sit in it for 5 mins. Then remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and shred it.

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Also strain the stock and keep aside.
Mix some tandoori masala to the shredded chicken and sauté in little ghee for a minute or two and keep aside. Sauteing in the ghee with the masala imparts a flavor close to grilling it in a tandoor

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Now heat oil in a pan and add the bay leaf and onions. Fry till it starts turning golden brown and add the ginger garlic paste and tomato puree. Add the dry spices  along with 1 tsp tandoor masala and sauté till you see oil leaving the masala.

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If you feel the masala becoming too dry you can add the stock little at a time.

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Now add the shredded chicken to the masala and sauté well. Once the masala coats the chicken well add the remaining stock and let it cook.

 

Once the stock reduces add the cream garam masala and Kasoori methi. Adjust the seasonings. Add the liquid smoke if using.

Now in a separate pan heat ghee and sauté dry red chilli and chopped garlic and pour over the chicken masala. Cover and let it stand for a minute or two so that all the flavors are absorbed.
You can serve this with naan , roti , Paratha or roomali roti.

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I made chicken salad sandwiches and wraps with the left overs and it was fun. My co workers loved it too. In fact, we are now going to make this together at my house in summer.

Savory butternut squash

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I have been making an effort to eat local and eat what is in season. To help with this initiative, I only shop at the farmer’s market as much as I can. The only exceptions are curry leaves and mango.

My kids sometimes complain that I always find some type of squash in the market, they are right, you will always find some kind of squash in the market. The butternut squash is typically available in fall. The market I go to, one farmer carries organic apples and different kinds of squashes. I love butternut squash since it holds its shape fairly well even after cooking.

When I was ready to cook this squash, my friend Hrushikesh posted this recipe. This recipe reminded me of the subji that is served as a Prasad ( a blessing) at a a very famous temple. I visited it when I was in 7th grade. I fondly remember sitting on the floor and eating this subji with thick whole wheat rotis on a plate made with dried leaves. I did not know what Bio degradable or compostable meant, now I appreciate that plate even more.

So I decided to try the recipe right away and the outcome was delicious. It can be easily tweaked to be eaten as a fasting food as well.

Savory butternut squash

Pumpkin Subji

Ingredients

3/4 kgs of pumpkin chopped in squares of about 2″ x 2″ (peels on)
3/4 cup  grated dried coconut
1 tbsp Poppy seeds ( खसखस )
2 green chillies finely chopped
2 medium sized dried chillies
1 tbsp  cashews chopped
10-15 fenugreek seeds
2 tsp Corriander powder
1 full stem of curry leaves
2 tbsp Raisins
1/2 cup of water

For tempering
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
A pinch of asafoetida

Method

Peel the squash and cut in cubes.

If you are using pumpkin, you can leave the skin on as it helps keep the cubes intact and does not get mushy.

Heat the oil in a wok. When hot, add cumin seeds, turmeric powder and asafoetida.

Add the raisins, curry leaves, green & red chillies, cashew nuts, fenugreek seeds,poppy seeds and roast it for about 2 mins.

Now add 1 tsp of corriander powder (the remaining 1 tsp goes in at the end) and roast it for another minute or slow on a low flame.

Add a few drops of water if it starts to burn.

You can add more chillies if you like, since the squash has its natural sweet taste, sugar or jaggery is not required
Now add the cut pumpkin cubes, there’s no need to steam it as these cubes do get cooked well.

Add 1/4 cup of water and cover this with a lid for about 3-4 mins. Check after that add some more water and let it cook for another 4-5 mins or until done.

Add the roasted dry coconut & 1 tsp of Dhaniya powder.

Cook it till its done.

Serve it hot with roti or Teekhi puris.

 

Beets-oats tikki pattice

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It was a lazy Friday evening. Although it was gorgeous outside, all of us were super lazy. After a long day of work, that swing was calling out to me, it said come and relax with me with a nice book, may be a glass of wine. 

Recently I have been obsessed with Spanish music. I am trying to learn Spanish and listening to the famous Spanish songs helps. My favorite these days, ‘Quizas, quizas, quizas‘by Andrea Bocelli & Jlo, it oozes with romance and feelings of love & longing. The song was playing in the background, which made me want to just close my eyes and relive some very happy moments of the past couple of days. 

But it also made me long even more for those moments. 

I was willing to give into the temptation, that is when my stomach growled. It said, don’t you want something nice to go with that glass of wine and the book. 

I opened the fridge and there was pretty much nothing. I was ready to give up. I said today I am going to be bad and just eat popcorn or cereal or bread and jam for dinner. Just then I heard these beats call out to me, ” hey you got us from the market, remember? You can not ignore us.”  So I decided to make something with beets. Just then I rememberd the left over steel cut oatmeal from this morning. 

Suddenly I knew what I was going to make. 

  

Ingredients

2 beets

1/2 cup of cooked steel cut oats 

1 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp chaat masala

1tsp amchur powder

1/4 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tbsp chopped cashews

1 green chili chopped

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Salt to taste 

2 tbsp sooji or cream of wheat

Method 

Grate the beets and squeeze out the excess water. You can add that your smoothie or soups. 

Mix all the ingredients except the sooji and mix thoroughly. All the spice proportions are per our taste, you can change as you like. 

Take a plate and spread the sooji on the plate. 
Make lemon size balls with the beet batter and flatten it out. Make sure you wet your palms so that the dough does not stick. 

Dip the patties in the sooji and shallow fry till golden. Make sure you cook on a medium flame so the beets have a chance to cook.

  
Dips 

I love making these dips. They come together in minutes and are perfect for such appetizers. 

Smoky paprika dip-

Take one chipotle chili( I use the one from the can, that comes in the adobo sauce). Chop it fine and mix with yogurt. Add some roasted cumin powder and salt and the dip is ready. 

Mint- garlic dip-

Take chopped mint and one small crushed clove of garlic and add to a bowl of beaten yogurt. Mix well and add salt to taste. 

I am enjoying these with a glass of wine, my feet up on these pillows. What more can one ask for?

  

Cilantro pesto-Dhaniya chutney

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Do you know anyone who  has the ability to just brighten up the room the minute they enter in. It is their smile, genuine nice attitude or even the way they crack jokes, they just makes the situation nicer.

I cherish such friends, very thankful to have them in my life.

If I had to relate this back to the food, I think condiments are like these special friends. Anytime if it seems like what you have cooked for dinner is just blah, a nice chutney, salsa, dip can come to the rescue and help revive the meal. 

I love condiments of all kinds. I love making yogurt based dips, spicy chutneys, fresh salsas of various kinds. My favorite of all are the spicy condiments.

When my kids were younger everything I cooked was very mild. I am lucky that my kids eat all the vegetables ever since they were babies so I wanted to make sure it stays that way. As a result I would also have to eat very mild food, that was really hard. So I started making chutneys and relishes, these were spicy and complimented the mild food well.

One such chutney is the ‘Cilantro chutney’. You can also call it Cilantro pesto.  My friend Uma taught me this one. What I love about this recipe is all the things needed are usually available easily at home. It takes only a few minutes to make and stays well in fridge for a week, although I must warn you, it is so yummy that it barely lasts a day, usually it is cleaned up quickly.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup of washed , cleaned Cilantro
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8-10 spicy green chilies ( I use thai chilies since I like it spicy)
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp oil

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Method

  • Dry roast the peanuts
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and turmeric powder
  • Add chopped green chilies and chopped garlic
  • Saute for 30 seconds, don’t let the garlic or chili burn or brown.
  • Add cilantro and turn the heat off.  Add salt. Cover and leave it to warm through.
  • Grind the peanuts to a powder.
  • Add cooled cilantro mixture and grind to a paste. I like to keep it a little coarse and not grind it super fine.

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It can be used in many ways. I love serving it in the pretty yellow bowl. I bought it in Nepal, we visited Bhaktapur darbar. Amongst many other beautiful carvings and handicraft we also got to see beautiful pottery. It was amazing to see the potters turn the wheel and make these beautiful art pieces. 

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1. Mix it with some sour cream, yogurt or Greek yogurt to make a quick dip. I love it with pita chips.

2. Mix it with butter to make a great sandwich spread. I love to add some sliced avocado and make an open faced sandwich. I also like to add alfalfah sprouts to this, add a nice crunch to this already tasty sandwich.

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