Tag Archives: easy

Borani banjan- Eggplant in garlic yogurt sauce

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Borani banjan- Eggplant in garlic yogurt sauce

Let me confess, I love eggplants in any shape and form. Stuffed, roasted, pan- fried with chick pea flour, I love them all. So for me saying that this is one of the favorite ways to cook eggplant is a big deal.

A friend of mine had made this when I had dinner at her home a few years back and since then I make it at least once a week.

For the past 2-3 years I have been very mindful of what I cook. I have been trying and making an effort to eat only organic whenever possible. I also have been trying to buy only local produce and majority of that from the farmers market. I love going to the farmers market. I love the vibrant colors, the freshness in the air.


I love it when I get to interact with the person who has worked on bringing such great produce to me, I love chatting with them as it gives me a feel for where my food comes from and provide a connection. It also gives me a great sense of appreciation when I learnt that they load up the trucks at 5:00 in the morning to bring the fruits and vegetables to the market.

I love to make things with that produce and share it with them. Last few weeks I have been making yummy strawberry roll ups, I brought some to the vendor whom I buy my strawberries from, it was so nice to be able to share it with them.

So back to my eggplant , I ate this first time and I fell in love with it. I love yogurt, I love mint and I love eggplant, so it was no surprise that I love this recipe.

It is very simple and you can make the two parts ahead of time and assemble it as you are ready to serve.

Borani banjan

Ingredients

  • 1 Large eggplant, sliced
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 1 large tomato , sliced
  • 2 green chilies
  • a few mint leave
  • a sprig of Cilantro
  • Sauce
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried mint leaves

Method

Cut the eggplant in 1/4 inch thich uniform slices. Sprinkle with some salt and set aside for 30 mins.


In the meanwhile slice the onions & tomatoes  in  slices, slit the green chili and remove the seeds if the chili is very spicy.

After 30 mins, the eggplant will give out some water. Sprinkling with salt  removes any excess bitterness the eggplant might have.

Heat some oil in a pan and shallow fry the eggplant slices until they are cooked. Make sure the heat is not too high, we want the eggplants to cook but not get crispy.


Take the cooked eggplant on a plate. In the same pan, heat some more oil and layer the onions in a single layer, saute till they are soft.


Top them with the slices tomatoes and slit green chilies. We don’t want the tomatoes to get browned but instead sort of get stewed. Add the chopped mint leaves and cilantro as well.

Top the tomatoes and onions with the cooked eggplant and let it cook for about 10-15 min on a low flame.

For the sauce

Mix all the ingredient for the sauce in a bowl. Keep the bowl in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve, make sure you bring the eggplant to room temperature. I feel it tastes much better that way.

To serve

Take the cooked eggplant mixture, mash it ever so slightly and top it with the yogurt mixture.

Today I served it with Mejadra, Turkey kabab. More on that later.

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Churros

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I love Mexican food, in fact the whole family loves it very much. Sometimes I wonder if I was Mexican in my previous birth, because just as much Indian food, Mexican food is a constant feature in my kitchen.

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It’s Cinco de Mayo and I love to celebrate it. I never need an excuse to make something tasty, but when it’s fiesta time, it’s so much more fun! Such celebrations remind us that we live in the land of the free where many cultures have blended so well.

Anytime I visit a new place, the first thing I do is visit the local markets. I feel like I can learn so much more about the culture and the people of that country. Sometimes, people outside a country get a very limited view of that country’s cuisine. There were so many things in this Mazatlán market that I had never seen in the US! I ate these amazing churros in that market. They were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the cinnamon sugar that they were dipped in was at the perfect level of sweetness to make you crave for just one more! Ever since I had those churros, I have been meaning to try them in my own kitchen.

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Most of the recipes for churro call for eggs, but the street vendor didn’t use eggs in his dough. So I am taking that vendor as inspiration and bringing you an eggless churro recipe. Seriously, this comes together in an hour from start to finish (including the cooldown time).

Today I am planning to pair these churros with something yummy. When you think of summer, the first thing that comes to mind is ice-cream, right? Today I am making an ice-cream to go with our churros. The contrast of crunchy churros with creamy ice-cream is just yummy.

I make a weekly trip to my local Mexican store and that’s where I picked up a can of ‘dulce de leche’ (which translates to sweetened milk). Dulce de leche is a smooth, gooey goodness that I can eat with a spoon directly from a can. It goes great on your ice-cream sundaes, you can make flan with it and so much more.

Today’s ice-cream is a Dulce de Leche Ice-cream. It is a super simple recipe. Also, just like the churro, this is also an egg-free recipe.

Back to our churros. Typically, churros are a straight stick but today, since I’m planning to use them to make my ice-cream sandwich, I am going to pipe them in a spiral. I have decided to use a gadget which is very common in a Indian household, a chakli/murukku maker. It is used to make many savory snacks as well as fresh rice noodles. I love it because it’s very easy to use and clean. It comes with many discs which help you make different shapes.  I have a video on youtube which show I made it.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2  tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup  unbleached all-purpose flour

Oil for frying

For

  • 1/2 cup white sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ancho chili powder

Directions

  1. In a small pot, heat  water, 2 tbsp sugar, salt and oil on a medium flame. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour until mixture forms a ball.
  2. Let the dough cool down till it’s ok to handle.
  3. While you are piping the churros, heat the oil on low heat. I have used regular vegetable oil for frying.
  4. Now it’s time to pipe out the churros. Since I am planning to make the cookies, I will be making churros with a smaller diameter. However, you can use a pastry bag with a large star tip if you are making big sized churros.
  5. Pipe out 3″ spirals onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I like my ice-cream sandwiches to be bite-sized, so I won’t make them huge.)
  6. If the weather is hot, you can stick these piped spirals in the freezer for a few minutes. This helps the spirals stay together, or you might end up with a long churro in your pan.
  7. Fry the churros until golden brown. Make sure you don’t fry them on high heat, otherwise they will stay doughy inside and burnt outside.
  8. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, ancho chili powder and cinnamon. Roll drained churros in the mixture.

Notes:

  • I made the churros two ways:
    • The ones I fried right after I piped them were soft
    • The one I froze before I fried stayed much crispier

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.

 

Coffee-Almond biscotti

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This year is supposed to be a El Niño year, which means a lot of rain is expected. We have been hoping that it rains a lot and gives a relief from the drought situation in California. It has rained but not too much, so when this weekend it poured, everyone was super happy.

Rain always makes us think of Pakodas( fried lentil fritters), a cup of ginger tea. Rain makes everything look so pretty. Spring is in the air, flowers everywhere. The wisteria in our garden is looking gorgeous, vibrant with purple chandeliers.

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It was a very relaxing weekend, we had an amazing lunch at our favorite ethiopian place. They make such incredible food, especially their chicken is cooked so well. We ended that meal with a ethiopian coffee, which is always accompanied with a fragrant herb, ‘rue’. You let the herb seep in it’s flavors in the coffee before you drink it.

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Talking about coffee, recently my family has been obsessed with coffee. My son has been taking very scientific approach to coffee making. Weighing the coffee beans, freshly ground with handheld steel coffee grinder, water temperature measured by thermometer, even the pour has to be perfect. He looks like Alton Brown every time he makes coffee. He made me a macchiato with a little heart a few weekends ago, so perfectly made.

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On my recent trip to Guatemala, I visited this coffee shop which not only serves amazing coffee but also sells beans from the neighbouring areas. I picked a few pounds from there and we also replicated the same set up at home. It made such an amazing cup of coffee.

IMG_4349I love coffee in many forms whether it is coffee ice cream or Tiramisu or even Tiramisu french toast for breakfast, I love it all. So when we were talking about some cookie to go with the coffee, I decided to make this Biscotti. I love making biscotti for many reasons, you can make it ahead of time, you can make so many variations and they are not fragile so they transport well.

Since I love the coffee flavor, I decided to add it to the biscotti as well.

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Ingredients

2 3/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick of unsalted butter softened

1 cup of sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 eggs at room temperature

1 pinch of salt

3 tsp instant granulated coffee

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup of almonds roughly chopped

Chocolate dip

5 oz of dark chocolate chips

crushed almonds or sliced almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt together.

Cream the softened butter with sugar.

Add coffee granules and vanilla mix a little more.

Add one egg at a time while the mixer is running.

Scrape down the liquid ingredients.

Add the flour mixture a little at a time. The dough will be sticky at this point. Keep the dough in the fridge so it will firm up and will be easier to handle.

Take the dough out and divide in two parts.

Form two logs of about 2 inch by 8 inch. Remember this will spread as they bake so dont make them wider than 2 inches.

Place the logs on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Bake for 25-30 mins.

Take it out of the oven and cool for 30 mins.

Biscotti means baked twice. So as the name suggests, we will be baking these twice.

Using a sharp serrated knife, cut in 1 inch slices.

Arrange these slices cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake again for 15-20 mins. Remember that these will harden as they cool so be careful to not overcook these.

After baking it the second time, let them cook on a rack.

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Chocolate sauce

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, heating in the 30 sec intervals, stirring in between.

Dip one end of the cooled biscotti in the melted chocolate and sprinkle with crushed almonds. Layer them back on the parchment paper till the chocolate is solid again.

These store very well in a airtight container.

Serve with your favorite cup of coffee.

 

Variation:

You can skip the coffee granules in the batter, and add 1/4 cup of cocoa instead.

You can also make these with no chocolate or cocoa or almonds in the batter, and add 1 tsp of Anise seeds, 1/2 cup of cranberries & 1/2 cup of pistachio instead.

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Harissa shrimps

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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.

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

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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Biryani Frittata

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As a family we are trying to eat healthy. A big part of eating healthy depends on eating a good lunch and hence I have been working on some ideas for lunch. It has to be wholesome, easy to carry and pack , tasty and should taste good even when it gets cold. Yesterday I made a ‘frittata‘ for the lunch box. This dish is not an innovation but I really enjoyed  it due to the Indian twist. Kids loved it as well.

Biryani is a classic indian dish made with some kind of meat ( most commonly chicken or lamb) and seasoned flavorful rice. I love making chicken biryani and pack it for lunch many times. I did not have time to marinate and make chicken biryani for lunch so I decided to put a Biryani Twist on the frittata.

Biryani Frittata

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Ingredients

1 strip of bacon

1/2 chopped onion

1 chopped summer squash

1/2 chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped beet root leaves

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

5 eggs

2 tbsp  shaved parmesan cheese

1 cup cooked brown rice

2 tbsp oil

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp biryani masala

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Method

First cook bacon in a heavy skillet. Once cooked let it cool.

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Saute in oil  chopped onion, bell pepper, squash until nice and brown.

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While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together the eggs, biryani masala, salt and red chilli powder.

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Add cooked rice and saute well.

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Add chopped beet leaves.

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Now pour the egg mixture over the rice and vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese & chopped bacon.

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Cover and cook  until almost firm.

Set the over to broil. Broil it for 3-4 mins till the cheese crisps up.

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I packed it with a side of salad. Romaine lettuce with cilantro yogurt dressing.