Category Archives: Side dish

Nepalese Fiddlehead Ferns

Standard
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. 

IMG_7694.JPG
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.
IMG_9547
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.
IMG_9540

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

IMG_7697

Savory butternut squash

Standard

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.

 

Chicken tikka vietnamese Spring Rolls

Standard

When I have an idea in mind, I can not rest easy until I execute on it. One such idea was variations on the Vietnamese Spring rolls. I wanted to try making an Indian version, I thought it would go really well with the concept.But before we talk about that recipe, let me tell you my  first encounter with these spring rolls.

The first time I ate these spring rolls when I was pregnant with my first child. I had a terrible time with the morning sickness and could not keep anything down. Around that time we were invited to my husband’s colleagues wedding reception. The bride and groom both were of Vietnamese origin and so at  the celebrations the food served was Vietnamese.

Forget eating and enjoying, I could not even stand the smell of most of those things. It had a lot of fish sauce,and all kinds of meat. Everyone tried to see what I can eat, offered so many things but nothing felt right at that time. Then someone got these interesting looking things that they called ‘Spring rolls’. They were nothing like the ones I knew from back in India. They did not look fried and almost looked transparent. I loved those..I loved the fresh basil and mint and the crunchy bean sprouts… it was perfect.

I have been making these for a while now and love making variations.

Today’s variation has a Indian touch. The meat used is the pickled chicken, I think it compliments the fresh mint and cilantro.

This recipe for the Achari chicken is a perfect addition to the fresh ingredients of the spring roll. You can also use chicken tikka or any other nicely seasoned meat. I have made this with marinated Tofu/Paneer to make the vegetarian/vegan version. It tastes just as well.

Achari chicken spring roll

Achari chicken spring roll

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 3/4 lb boneless Chicken ( for vegetarian option use Tofu/Paneer)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons Achari Masala
  • 1/4 lb Hung Yogurt (this is basically yogurt hung in a cheese cloth)
  • 1 tablespoon refined flour
  • 2 tablespoons Mustard Oil

Other ingredients

  • Bean Sprouts
  • Few green lettuce leaves
  • Thin rice noodles, cooked according to the packet
  • Julienned carrot
  • Few mint leaves
  • Few cilantro leaves
  • Few Rice paper sheets

IMG_2509

Method:

  • Heat Mustard Oil in a 10 inch nonstick pan until it smokes.
  • Add Achari Masala to the pan. Cook the spice mix for 20 seconds, then remove from heat. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a glass bowl, mix yogurt and cooked spices well. Make sure to include the oil.
  • Cut cubes of chicken & marinate it with the pickled curd marinade for minimum 60 mins.
  • IMG_3233

Now cook the chicken on medium flame, add refined flour and cook for 8-10 mins. Once cooked evenly, keep it aside.

Assembly

Dip the rice paper in cold water for 5 seconds. Take it out and shake off the excess water. Make sure you use cold water and also don’s leave the rice paper in the water for too long. Although when you take it out, it might still feel stiff but it does soften up.

IMG_2510

Lay the wet rice paper flat on a board. Layer all the ingredients. In works the best to start with a piece of lettuce, this helps provide a base and stability to the roll. Now continue with the rice noodles, Chicken, sprouts, carrots, cilantro, mint.

Now roll like a burrito making sure that no vegetables are poking out. We want our spring roll to look pretty.

IMG_2513

Make sure that you keep these covered so they don’t dry out.

Cut in half and serve. Depending on the flavor of the chicken you can pair with the right sauce. For example when I make it with an indian flavored chicken, I serve it with a Tamarind-date chutney.

IMG_0269

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower salad with lentils & dates

Standard

Many times we just keep getting different magazines and don’t even bother reading it. I get a couple of food magazines, I scanned through, plan to make a couple of recipes but very rarely get to it. It was different this time. When I got​ this issue of Food and Wine, I was in love with this recipe. I had to make it. So a friend of mine was coming over for lunch and I decided to try this recipe on her. She is not a hard-core vegan but prefers not having dairy products. This recipe was perfect. Cauliflower Salad 1 I made a few changes and the result was great. I  like making this since it  does not need me to stand over the stove and cook forever. Especially when my friends are visiting I like to make meals that are easy to make so I can spend more time with my friends.

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup beluga or green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch florets
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 2 cups loosely packed arugula

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds in a pie plate and toast for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop. Increase the oven temperature to 425°.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the lentils with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until tender, 20 minutes. Drain well and let cool. These lentils are called Beluga lentils since they resemble the ‘beluga caviar’. 🙂 On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the cumin, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, turning, until the cauliflower is tender and golden brown. I must warn you this cauliflower is addictive. I always make one extra since I finish half of the roasted cauliflower before it makes it to the salad. 🙂

In a large bowl, whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, honey, the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth.  If you want to make it vegan, you can use Agave in place of the honey.

Very often found in the Lebanese cuisine, tahini is a power food. It is a fine paste made from sesame seeds which are rich in protein, calcium and minerals. Sesame seeds are used very commonly in the southern and western regions of India. It has a beautiful nutty flavor. You can now mix in the lentil and cauliflower to the dressing if you want or you can leave the dressing on the side. Add the lentils and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Scrape the roasted cauliflower into the bowl and add the toasted almonds, dates, onion and spinach. Toss the salad, transfer to a platter and serve.

Cauliflower salad 2

Cauliflower salad 2

Grilled Harissa shrimps

Standard

I love spicy food. When I go the farmers market, I am always looking for the spiciest chili. So in summer when we get the fresh red thai chili in the market, I make at least a couple of batches of Harissa. It can perk up any dish pretty quickly.

I like to make these shrimps using Harissa, the dish comes together very quickly and can be served as a main dish or a salad.

Shrimps don’t need a lot of marination so this dish can be made in 20 minutes.


Although Harissa is Tunisian I feel that the Mediterranean flavors compliment it well. So I decide to bring those along.I also brought in some more Mediterranean flavors with a quick salad. I took some yellow and Red cherry tomatoes, chopped Persian cucumbers and mix them with fresh chopped mint and topped with feta cheese.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 20 large shrimps
  • 1 large clove of garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbsp Harissa
  • 1 tbsp oil

Method

Mix all the ingredients except to form a paste. Now add shrimps and mix well. Make sure all the shrimps are coated evenly with the paste.

Let them marinate for 20 mins or so.

Pomegranate molasses not only provides the sweetness to balance the heat from Harissa but also add a tangy flavor & color to the shrimps.


Grill on a grill plate or bbq. Brush the shrimps with some oil of needed to prevent them from sticking to the grill.

I like to thread some tomatoes or large zucchini pieces along with the shrimps, I feel it adds a Pop of color and texture.


You can serve the shrimps as a side with brown rice and some grilled fruit. Today I grilled some nectarines, the sweetness of the grilled fruit complimented the spice of harissa.

You can mix them with a lot of chopped herbs like basil and cilantro and serve as an appetizer.  I love making this version in summer when the herbs are in abundance in the market.

IMG_3512-1

 

I use Harissa in many dishes, like Pumpkin Shrimp curry, or Cheddar Muffins. Enjoy!

Mexican risotto…wholy Smokes !

Standard

IMG_0193

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.

Bulgur polow with barberries & Pistachios

Standard

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.

IMG_0180

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

 

IMG_0175

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.

IMG_0181

Grilled halloumi with mint sauce

Standard

IMG_0177

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.

IMG_0173

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.

IMG_0176

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