Tag Archives: quick

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.

Dulce de Leche Ice cream

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It all started with churros. I ate these churros in Mazatlán and have been wanting to try the recipe. I decided to pair those churros with ice-cream to make a perfect sandwich. Since I was pairing with churros, I thought why not make Mexican inspired ice-cream.

So here is it, Dulce de Leche Ice cream. Dulce de Leche translated into ‘Sweet of milk’. We get it in a can here in the local Mexican grocery store. If you can not get your hand on one, you can easily make it from your regular condensed milk.  This has all the goodness of the condensed milk with enriched flavors as all the sugar is nicely caramelized.

How to make Dulce de Leche from regular condensed milk

Typically all ice-creams start with a custard base, which has eggs, milk and sugar. However this recipe is egg-less so vegetarians can also enjoy.

 

I got the original recipe from Epicurean but I decided to put my own twist. I love to add salt and heat to my desserts. So today I have decided to kick this ice-cream up a notch with Ancho chili powder. I love this and use it a lot in my many recipes. Ancho chili is a sweet pepper. It is the dried form of Poblano peppers.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can Dulce de Leche
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Ancho chili powder

Method

  • Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, then remove from heat
  • Whisk in dulce de leche ( save 3-4 tbsps) until mixed well
  • Whisk in vanilla & the Ancho chili powder
  • Cool the mixture stirring occasionally till its at room temperature
  • Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm.
  • Towards the end add the saved Dulce de leche. It will add nice streaks to the ice-cream
  • Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

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.

 

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!

Indian Pickled chicken in lettuce cups

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My first take on Saransh Goila’s recipe, ‘Achari Tikka Bread cones’  turned out yummy, everyone loved it. I made it for dinner and paired it with a soup and it was a hit. That night I had my friend over for dinner and he is sort of doing a Paleo diet, so I decided to make a variation for him that was not as carb heavy.

This has all the flavor of the original minus the bread. I kept the croutons on the side so he could add a few if he wanted.  I loved how pretty it looked.  I also made a vegetarian version with ‘Paneer’ for a vegetarian friend and that turned out yummy as well.

Achari Chicken lettuce cup with garlic crouton

Achari Chicken lettuce cup with garlic crouton


Ingredients:
3/4  lb  Boneless Chicken
2 ½ tablespoons Achari Masala ( I used ready made Indian pickle masala)
100 grams Hung Curd
1 tablespoon refined flour
2 tablespoons Mustard Oil
2 Thick bread slices, cubed
2 tbsp butter melted
1 clove of garlic crushed

Chopped carrots, cilantro, green bell pepper

Bean sprouts
Endive leaves separated

Method:

Chicken:

Heat Mustard Oil to a smoking point & then add Achari Masala to it. Cook the spice mix nicely. Take it off heat, let it cool down for 10 minutes.

Add this spice mix into hung curd. Mix nicely.

Cut cubes of chicken & marinade it with the pickled curd marinade for minimum 60 mins.

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

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Croutons

Preheat the oven at 325 F


Toast the bread cubes in the oven till they are crisp.
Take them out and pour the garlic butter and toss them well. Bake them again for 5-6 mins to get them golden brown.

Mix with chicken with the croutons, chopped carrot, sprouts, and cilantro.

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Now, take the endive leaves and fill them up with the mixture. And serve.

Achari Chicken lettuce cup with garlic crouton

Achari Chicken lettuce cup with garlic crouton

Thai basil chicken

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If I had to pick my favorite food it is obviously Indian, I grew up in India and that was the only cuisine I ate until I came to the USA. When I came to the United States is when I tasted Mexican and Thai cuisines. And now these two cuisines are my favorites. I love the use of fresh herbs in thai cuisine. Galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and of course Thai basil. These aromatic herbs add a lot of flavor without any fat and most of these also have medicinal properties. In spring you get many kinds of basils in the farmers market and one of these basils is ‘Lemon Basil’- it has a unique flavor which is a combination of lemongrass and basil. I love it. Today’s recipe is super simple and can be made in 15 mins if you have all the ingredients ready.

Thai Basil Chicken

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, chopped in small pieces 4 cloves of garlic 4 thai chilies ( adjust as per your spice level preference) 1/2 tsp oyster sauce 1/2 tsp sweet soy sauce 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce 1/2 tsp sugar A handful of basil leaves

Method

Make a coarse paste with the chilies and garlic. Don’t make it extra fine. I feel like the ingredients are simple and so is the technique. I prefer using mortar pestle for making the chili garlic paste.   Heat oil in the pan. The pan should be super hot. Make sure you are ready with all the ingredients, you don’t want to eat burnt garlic. Sauté the garlic paste for a few seconds making sure it does not burn. Add chicken pieces and sauté for another 30 seconds. Add the liquid mixture of soy sauces, oyster sauce and sugar. If the chicken is cooked, add the basil leaves and turn the heat off.   Cover and let the basil flavor infuse in the meat.      Serve with brown or white rice. Vegetarian option It is made exactly the same way as the chicken. I like to use vegetables like mushrooms, snow peas, broccoli, bell peppers and onions. Make sure you cook the vegetables on high heat so that they don’t give out water and become soggy. Once ready you can also mix these vegetables into your chicken to combine to make a wholesome dish. I always  include vegetables in our meals and also if you have any vegetarian friends they can also enjoy the lovely flavor of the lemon basil if you make this variation.

Ceviche – a healthy, flavorful way to eat fish

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Tilapia Ceviche

 

Tilapia Ceviche

The weather is warmer and the family wants to eat fresh fruits, lighter meals. It is not easy to cook something which is fresh, healthy and tasty. And of course it has to be easy to make.
One such dish is Ceviche.

The first time I ate Ceviche in Cabo San Lucas. We were on our annual vacation. All of us are big foodies so invariably the first thing we do when we go to a new place is to find out good food joints. When we asked the person who cleaned our room what her favorite place to eat was, she told us about this small place near the beach. We got out of the resort, took a local bus and reached this small village. There was this cobble stone street that went all the way to the beach. The village center was a church and around that there were many vendors selling various things. We also had the best fish tacos there.
We found the small shop that lady had recommended, that is where I are Ceviche the first time.
Let me tell you, I am not a fish lover rather I eat only select kind of fish. So for someone like me the idea of eating raw( it does get cooked in the acid) was pretty tough to try. But am I glad I did. That fish was perfectly cooked and marinated in the lime juice and paired very beautifully with crunchy cucumbers, onion, creamy avocado and with a kick from Serrano pepper.
It was a perfect warm weather snack.

So here is my take on Ceviche.

Ingredients:

2 tilapia fillet, chopped in small pieces
1 cup lime juice

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1/4 onion finely chopped 2 Persian cucumbers chopped fine(you can also use equivalent English cucumber)
1 Serrano pepper chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tomato chopped ( don’t take the seeds)
Salt to taste         2015/03/img_2186.jpg    

It is important to chop the vegetables in a uniform fashion, it looks pretty and you get a sample of all in one bite. 

Method:

Mix the lime juice and tilapia pieces. Make sure you use a shallow container so that all pieces are covered in the lime juice. Sometimes I like to use orange juice in addition to the limes you use. Here I have used a blood orange that has given nice pink hue to the fish.
Let it sit for at least 45 minutes in the fridge. Then you take it out, the fish would look white, very opaque. This is the sign that the fish is cooked in the acid.

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Drain the fish in the colander.

While the fish is in the fridge, chop all the vegetables and mix them in a bowl together. Add salt to taste.
Add the drained fish to the vegetable mixture and mix everything well but with the light hand. You don’t want the fish or the avocado to break and become mushy.

It has a very fresh crisp taste and goes really well with crostinis, pita chips, tortilla chips or even in lettuce cups. I serve it in empty avocado shells, it makes for a great presentation.

  

Breakfast( or Lunch) muffins with Quinoa

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It has been crazy last few days, have not had a chance to write a post. This one is from the archives.

It is always challenging to pack something for the kids lunch that is healthy, quick to make, should taste good at room temperature and last but not the least, the kids should like it. This recipe fits the bill in my household. I like it since it is nutritious and quick to make.

So I will be honest that I don’t love quinoa. I know there are many good proteins in quinoa but I can not bring myself to use it as a substitute for rice in any traditional Indian recipes.
I also think that there are many people in the world who don’t have quinoa in their diet and still they have managed to stay healthy.

Having said that I do try to incorporate as many wholesome ingredients in our diet as I can, so this recipe is an effort along those lines.

Healthy eating series- Breakfast muffins with Quinoa

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So I will be honest that I don’t love quinoa. I know there are many good proteins in quinoa but I can not bring myself to use it as a substitute for rice in any traditional Indian recipes.
I also think that there are many people in the world who don’t have quinoa in their diet and still they have managed to stay healthy.

Having said that I do try to incorporate as many wholesome ingredients in our diet as I can, so this recipe is an effort along those lines.

Quinoa Muffins-
4 eggs
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pav bhaji masala
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup chopped red bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped zucchini
1/4 cup onions caramelized ( I usually make a big batch and keep it in the fridge)
1 tsp chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped ham( optional)
1/3 cup shredded cheese

Prepare oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners
Spray with oil spray.

Beat eggs well with dry spices & salt. Mix rest of the ingredients.
Pour in the cupcake liners and bake for about 25-30 mins.

I pack this with a garden salad for my kids lunch box.

This recipe makes about 6 muffins.

Note:


I had made similar recipe with lemon rice quinoa with lots of green chillies and peanuts. That tastes good as well.

 

I did not get a chance to take step by step pictures this time, will update the post when I do next time.