Thursday, June 30, 2011

carrots and everything salad

It's that time of year again....Summer!!! I love summers, except for that ridiculous heat. And when it's hot I don't want to be slaving away in the kitchen sweating like crazy. That's just not cool. I find myself eating raw veggies and fruits just so I don't have to cook anything. So I am sort of beating the heat with this no cook, no vinegrette healthy delicious salad. It really is yummy and so summer-y.

Although carrots are the star of this salad, you can add anything else you got in your fridge. I didn't have cucumbers this time. But some deseeded julienned cucumbers would be a delicious addition. Slightly boiled sprouted mung beans or corn would be good too.

Carrots and Everything Salad:
I know I said this is no cook salad...but there is a tiny bit involved where you have to sputter some mustard seeds. You can easily avoid this step, but it does add a huge flavor to the salad.

2 cups julienned Carrots (I get the ready to use kind available in grocery stores. I am lazy that way)
1 tomato (deseeded and finely chopped)
1 tablespoon golden raisins (you can use whichever kind you have on hand)
1 green chilli (add more if you like spicy)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lemon to squeeze
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspooon chopped mint
few crushed roasted peanuts
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon oil

In a pan heat oil and add mustard seeds. Allow to sputter.Mix the all ingredients except the lemon. Add the mustard seeds. Squeeze the lemon and add salt and pepper according to taste. Garnish with Cilantro and mint.

You can make this in advance and store in the refrigerator. Delish!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the spice rack

A little confession...I am not a chef and I don't own any cook books. So why am I writing a blog you ask. Well, I am a foodie especially of homemade food. My recipes usually come from my two grandmothers, internet,  food shows, friends, and most of the times from my own creative experiments. I try to jot down the recipes I like on tiny pieces of paper and quite quickly forget about them, both the recipes as well as the paper. So I have finally decided to e-jot them and rely on blogger to go back to them when I feel like.

My husband calls me the weekend chef, since that's the only time I seem to find myself in the kitchen lately. After being married for 8 years now, I do belive that I make stuff that is edible enough for him to stay married to me. Both my grandmothers were amazing cooks and as a kid I had no reason to enter the kitchen except to taste their yummy concoctions. But I am sure (atleast I hope) some genes must have travelled through.

My kitchen is just about 40sft and I have no special equipment other than a blender, toaster oven and hand held mixer. No food processor, no ice cream maker or any of those fancy scmancy something makers. Heck, I don't even have a grill and I cook on an electric range. So if I can cook, you can too. So stop making excuses and get to it.

Most people I know here in Los Angeles love Indian food, but are too intimidated to make it themselves. I don't blame them. Here's the thing...It all comes down to this: Spices!!! The aromatics and the heart of all Indian food. Everything else is just everyday ingredients. Here is a list of spices I have catagorized to ease you into the experience.

Everyday basic must haves:
Cumin (whole and powder)
Garlic root
Cayenne Pepper
Coriander Powder*
Black Mustard Seeds*
Garam Masala (recipe below)*
Turmeric Powder*
Kari Leaves*

Good To have:
Coriander seeds*
Aseofotida (or devil's dung!! haha)*
Fenugreek (whole and dried leaves)*
Tamarind paste*
Cinnamon Sticks (or Powder)
Black Pepper
Dry Bay Leaf
Fresh Mint

Not necessary (but some recipes ask for them)*
Anise seeds
Star Anise
Raw Mango Powder
Onion Seeds
Ground Ginger

* Spices you might not find in your regular grocery store

So there you have it. It's not so bad now, is it? Most of the spices you get in your own grocery store. For others, I recommend you invest in them. They are reasonably priced and last a long time. So go and make yourself some delicious and spicy Indian food. BTW, there is more to Indian food than Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer and Naan, people!!!

Here is a quick recipe for garam masala. Although I won't hold it against you if you buy the box mix.

Makes about 4-5 tbsp of Garam Masala

1 tablespoon Cumin Powder
1/2 tablespoon Coriander Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Cardamom Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground Pepper
1 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

Optional Ingredients
1 large dried Bay Leaf (crushed)
1/2 teaspoon dry Ginger Powder

Mix and store in an airtight container. Done!

- if you chose to use whole spices instead of spice powders. Roast them for about 2 mins. Grind in a spice or coffee grinder and store.

Have Fun! And I hope you enjoy my new blog as much as I love posting it.
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