Thursday, July 28, 2011

egg curry

Since I made the spicy egg salad sandwich a few days back, my husband has been secretly craving for the egg curry he loves. After hoping against hope he finally gave up on me and made some himself last night. Boy was it delicious!! And the best part...I got to be a couch potato for the night. With our daughter fast asleep, and my husband busy in the kitchen, I parked myself on our lumpy couch and nibbled on plantain chips while watching something brainless on the tv. The joy of doing nothing is just so wonderful.

Giving credit where it's due...

Egg Curry
Recipe by my husband adapted from vahrevah

5 eggs, boiled, shelled and halved
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon red chili powder 
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves 
4-5 kari leaves
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
pinch of turmeric powder
tamarind juice (soak a teaspoon of tamarind pulp in about 100ml warm water for 10-15 minutes) (you could substitute this for lemon juice, only and only if you looked hard and didn't find tamarind)
1 green chili, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
salt per taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan and add mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Add cumin, chilies, fenugreek leaves and kari leaves to the oil. Stir for about a minute and add chopped onions and stir till they start browning.
Now add ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and mix well. Saute the mix for about 5-6 minutes.

Add the tamarind extract and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add salt and sugar and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the boiled eggs and let it cook in the gravy till the curry thickens slightly, about 3-4 minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot over steamed rice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

spiced egg salad sandwich with avocado

I can't say I am big egg fan. I really have to crave for them to make something out of them. My husband on the other hand loves them. So when he saw me crave for some eggs yesterday, he looked excited. I usually make his favorite egg curry or simply a yummy omelet. But I was feeling adventurous this time. It kind of upset him, but if I was eating eggs, they had to be absolutely delicious. 

I wouldn't eat an egg salad sandwich if you paid me to do it. (Well, if it involves 6 digit figures then it's a different story). But I wasn't feeling like making a curry in this scorching heat and omelet was just too simple. So I decided to Indianize the infamous egg salad sandwich. And I can't complain about the outcome. Simple ingredients, easy and quick...a bonus point was it was healthy too. Eliminating the mayo was probably why I liked it so much. 

spiced egg salad sandwich with avocado

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped fine (you can even choose to do egg white only salad)
1 avocado, chopped fine
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 cloves of garlic, finely minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper per taste
handful of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
6 slices of a hearty bread (I used the 12 grain bread)
butter (optional)

In a large bowl add the first 7 ingredients and mix really well. The avocado will work as the mayo in this sandwich.

Toast your bread lightly and apply some butter. Put on a generous heap of the mix. Top with cheese, spinach and the second slice of bread. You can also grill the sandwich for the melted cheese effect.

Friday, July 22, 2011

garbanzo bean and zucchini salad

There are days when I feel blessed to live in Los Angeles. While rest of the country is burning up in 3 digit heat, we are enjoying the summer at 80 degrees here. But like most people in Los Angeles, including yours truly, have a way of complaining about everything...even the 80 degree weather. As I was extending my grumbling to my co-workers hoping for some empathy, almost all of them had the same reaction. "Aren't you from India? You should be used to this". Kind of pissed me off a little bit. Sadly it's true. From where I come from, you have just 2 seasons, hot and hotter with a few months of rain thrown in for good measure.

Coming back to the Los Angeles weather ...preparing a hot curry was beyond my scope of energy. I wanted something fresh, light, hearty and that which involved keeping my cooktop and oven turned off. Just last week I saw Giada prepare this beautiful summer salad. It looked delicious and I always love me some Giada in my kitchen. To my happy surprise I had all the ingredients that were needed, except for the lettuce, so I used Spinach instead. It is gorgeous light salad perfect for a scorching summer day.


garbanzo bean and zucchini salad
The recipe called for 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. This much quantity in my salad kind of scares me. So reduced it a little bit to 2 tablespoons and still loved the salad. You can use whatever quantity suits your fancy. But make sure it a good quality oil.

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 can garbanzo beans, washed and drained
2 medium zucchini, diced into small pieces
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 cups of baby spinach, wash and dried
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese

For the Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper until combined.

For the Salad: 
In a large bowl place garbanzo beans, zucchini, corn, red onion, and spinach. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss well. Top with the parmesan cheese and serve.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

delicious quinoa

One thing I love about getting back to work after a lovely 4 month break is the lunch time. We have a small little kitchen where about 10 of us gather and chat about food, people and general stuff. But mostly about food. This is where I was introduced to the little grain called quinoa only a few months back. For a few seconds I thought cous-cous had grown a little transparent tail. On tasting, it was nothing like cous-cous. It took me a while to develop a taste for quinoa, but now that I have, I make it at least ones a week. It is easy, delicious and healthy. And like rice, you can make a whole lot in a matter of few minutes.

Like most Indians, I own a pressure cooker and making quinoa is as easy as making rice. I can see most of you are going..."What??? no food processor, but you own a pressure cooker?" In my defense, I have inherited it...from my husband. He carried it with him when he came here from India. And it is super useful and easy enough to use. If you don't have the cooker, simply follow the instructions on the side of the box. I used the white kind, but I gather there are many more types of quinoa.

delicious quinoa

1 cup cooked quinoa (I used 1 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water)
1/2 cup zucchini and carrots (any available veggies are fine)
handful of cashew nuts
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3-4 kari leaves (optional, but gives a great taste)
1 green chili, halved
2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon sugar
salt per taste
cilantro for garnish

In a deep saucepan heat oil and add the mustard seeds. Allow to splutter and then add ginger, chili , cashew nuts and kari leaves.

Chop zucchini and carrots into small bite sized pieces. Add these into the saucepan and cook till carrots soften. Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork and add to the saucepan along with salt and sugar and stir till everything has mixed well.

Garnish with cilantro and enjoy hot!!! Squeeze some lemon for even better tasting deliciousness.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Semolina Halwa

If there are indeed marriages made in heaven, then Saffron and Cardamom should be somewhere on the top of the list. The combination is absolutely divine. My quinessetial comfort food...the delightful semolina halwa has both. It is usually served either for breakfast or along with afternoon chai or even dessert, but I could squeeze it in my lunch too.

As a kid my grandma would tell me the so called benefits of fats, especially of the clarified butter. Fats and sugar, good for you...spices, not so much. She was such a trooper. How she loved to feed me. I would take her word for it and happily gobble down 2 bowlfuls. July 10th was her birthday and she would have been 84 years old this year. This, I made for her...happy birthday ajji!!! I miss you dearly.

Semolina Halwa

1 cup semolina (cream of wheat works great too)
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp clarified butter or ghee (regular butter will work to, but taste might change slightly)
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
handful of raisins
handful of cashew nut pieces, toasted
3-4 cardamom seeds, crushed (you can use cardamom powder as well)
pinch of saffron (soaked in 1/4 cup of slightly warm water or milk for about 10 minutes)
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a skillet on medium high, toast the semolina in ghee till it just starts to change color. Remove from heat immediately to avoid burning. This should take about 5-6 minutes. Add salt to the toasted semolina

In a large saucepan add the milk and sugar and heat till the milk just begins to boil. Add the saffron soaked milk/water along with the saffron strands and steep for a couple of minutes. Slowly whisk in the toasted semolina. Make sure it is lump free. Reduce the heat to low and add cashew nuts, cardamom and raisins and stir to combine well. The halwa will slowly star tto thicken. Cover and simmer for 4-5 minutes. 

Serve hot and enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

black eyed peas curry

Life moved on even though the mighty 405 freeway was closed down. For most people in L.A. life revolves around this freeway. And to close it down for the whole weekend called for an emergency situation called 'Carmageddon'. Like most we planned our weekend either in or within 1 mile radius of our home. And I finally got to the ever so delicious blackeyed peas curry I was craving for. This recipe is so versatile it is ridiculous. I have used it for all sorts of beans, peas, cauliflower, heck it even makes a delicious Mussels Curry. As you can see I am a sucker for versatile curries that use everyday ingredients.

So if you are intimidated by Indian cooking, this is a great place for you to start. This recipe does not use any of the 'Indian' spices so to speak. I wasn't quite fond of black eyed peas till I reluctantly tried this recipe. And I was hooked. So I definitely urge you to give it a shot.

Black Eyed Peas Curry

1 frozen bag of frozen Black eyed peas (you can also used canned) (or any kind of beans you have on hand)
3 cups water
2 teaspoons oil (I use Canola)
1 finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped tomato
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped (add more if you like)
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (you can vary the quantity depending on how brave you feel that day)
3 teaspoons of grated fresh coconut (you can use frozen) (if you ca't find either coconut milk is ok too)
juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons Cilantro for garnish

Wash and drain the black eyed peas. In a large saucepan heat oil over medium flame. Add finely chopped garlic and ginger and fry for a few seconds (do not let them turn brown). Add onion and fry till slightly brown, about 2-3 minutes

Add tomatoes and cayenne pepper. Stir and cover the pan. Allow to cook for additional 2-3 minutes till tomatoes become mushy.

Add the BEP, coconut and water and mix well. Simmer till the peas beacome super soft and are cooked through. About 20-25mins. If the curry seems very water, mash some of the peas with a masher. OR if the curry seems dry, simply add more water. Add salt to taste and Cilantro. Squeeze in then lemon juice for the yummy tang.
Serve hot with rice!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

tomato watermelon salsa

Adventure was the name of the game yesterday. Glad I didn't get shot all for the sake of some copper wire on the roof of our office building. Just so you know, LAPD will send about 25 cops including detectives, K9 units, 2 helicopters, the fire department, three news stations, blockade an entire block, and evacuate almost 100 people if they see you trying to steal copper wires. So in the end from the 3 meth-heads stuck on a roof stealing copper pipe, they only caught one.

After a 5 hour stand-in-the-sun ordeal, I really had no strength to dive into making the delicious black eyed pea curry I have been craving for. It wasn't meant to be. Although I can't complain about the salsa I made instead. A fresh summer worthy salsa of tomatoes and watermelon. Red tomatoes, red watermelon and some red onions...what's not to like...and add to it some green mint and green lemon juice. Out of control good! Add to that a no effort, no cooking required kind of a dish. I paired it with some chicken quesadillas to die for (that's another post)

Tomato Watermelon Salsa

1 cup diced watermelon (about 1/4inch)
1 cup seeded, diced tomatoes (also 1/4 inch)
1/4 cup sliced chopped red onion
2 teaspoons wash, dried and chopped mint
1 teaspoon sugar
1 chopped chili (I used Jalapeno)
1/2 lime
salt and pepper

Mix the first 5 ingredients and squeeze the lime. Add salt and pepper per taste and mix well. Chill for a wonderful crunchy salsa.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

masala chai

I know I know, it's been more than a week and I have yet to post a recipe with cardamom in it. So much for being a cardamom junkie (thank you for reminding me Nam) So here is this recipe, if you can even call it that. Chai is something every Indian knows how to make. I think the recipe is embedded in our DNA from birth. It was certainly the very first thing I knew how to make.

Chai in India is a generic term for tea. Loose tea leaves boiled and then enjoyed with sugar and milk. So for me 'chai tea latte' makes no sense...chai, which means tea to begin with, already has latte in it, hello!!! Anyway, coming back to Indian chai...there are many ways to enhance the already divine flavors, like by adding certain spices. And by certain, I mean Cardamom. I love love the flavor of cardamom in my tea and to that add a few cloves, cinnamon and slices of fresh ginger for refreshingly yummy beverage.

We enjoy chai only on the weekends along with some delicious Indian cookies. It's our weekend treat. Sipping on a cup of chai watching the world go by is (was before the baby arrived) our favorite way of spending a Saturday morning. Ahh! the small things in life that bring joy.

Masala Chai
This is a combination of spices I love in my tea. But you can vary the quantity or omit any spice you want, or rather don't want. Lots of people use dry ginger powder rather than fresh ginger. But it is too strong a flavor for me. But if you like the gingery taste, you can use ground ginger instead. I also do not include any black pepper, ground or whole. It ruins the taste of chai for me. But again, if you like it go ahead.
Makes 2 cups.

2 teaspoons loose leaf black tea
2 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger root
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups of water
1/2 cup milk (I use whole milk for chai)
2 teaspoons sugar (you can vary per your liking)

Using mortar and pestle whack the spices a few times. You don't have to mash them into a powder form. In a saucepan add water, tea and spices and bring to boil. Remove the pan from heat, put on a lid and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes

In a different pan bring the milk to boil (you can also microwave it for a few minutes) and add to the steeping tea. Add sugar and stir. Allow to steep for another 2-3 minutes. Strain the tea into cups or a teapot and enjoy.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Spaghetti with pistachio-pine nut pesto

Do you have days when you are beyond exhausted but crave for something so specific that you just have to cook it? Well, I do and last night was one of those days. Deadline at work, a hungry baby at home and a growling tummy asking for pesto. It didn't end there though. I realized I was out of pine nuts and basil and pasta. So I stopped at a Trader Joe's on the way from work just to pick those up and while I was at it, grabbed a bag of pistachios. They seemed like a good addition to the pesto.

I came home to a well fed and a happy baby, which gave me enough time to put the spaghetti in boiling water and stuff the blender with pesto ingredients. The outcome of the combination was great and faster than expected. I even had enough for me to take some to work today.

Spaghetti with Pistachio-Pine Nut Pesto

12oz dried whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 cup mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

For Pesto:
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
2 cloves of garlic
handful of dry roasted pine nuts
handful of roasted pistachios (unsalted)
few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + few more for mushrooms
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pesto: Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a blender (or a food processor if you have one) and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and pulse till smooth.

Pasta:  In a large saucepan heat oil and saute mushrooms till tender. Salt the mushrooms and pesto. Stir till warm. 

In a large pot cook your spaghetti till al dente. Pour the drained spaghetti to the pot and toss till it is covered with pesto. Add a splash of pasta water to get things moving a bit. Cook for a minute or so and add salt and pepper per taste. Add a sprinky-dink of parmesan cheese on top and garnish with some fresh basil.
Serve with some nice hearty bread, toasted.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

whole wheat cheese crackers

It turns out I love cheese...any kind really. Lately I find myself looking for cheez-its everytime I am in the grocery store, which is about twice a week. Which means I am gobbling up a whole box in 3 days. No regrets, except it has started show on my waist. This week I was disappointed to find no cheez-its with parmesan cheese. Those are my favorites. So I decided to bake some of my own. I went on a cracker recipe hunt on the internet and settled for the one from smitten kitchen. It was a recipe for goldfish crackers and whole wheat kind too. Healthy and delicious!!! I did it exactly like she says, except I added Parmesan to the party and skipped the onion powder. Oh and I don't have a food processor, so added a little elbow grease as well. They turned out delicious...a little softer than I would I have liked, but the crunch was still there.

I am not the baking kind, especially of the tiny snacks that I can devour within minutes of making them. The effort seems to be far more than the time it takes for me to finish them. But these were different. They are rich and satisfying. Although I have to say, they didn't taste like cheez-its nor like goldfish. But they were still really tasty. Next time I might attempt to go full Parmesan instead.

Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers
adapted from smitten kitchen

I got about 150 small crackers. You could of course use the traditional cheez-it square shape or the goldfish. I used the back of a little circular cup I had and then halved them to give me little half circles. 

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven at 350 degrees and mix all ingredients together into a ball (if you have a food processor, it will be easir for you). If you are like me, then cut the butter into tiny cubes to make mixing by hand easier. I had a very soft dough, so I stuck mine in the refrigerator for 30mins. If you don't then you can skip this step.

Flour the rolling surface as well as the rolling pin. Roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Form shapes using whatever cutters you have. Transfer the crackers to a cookie sheet. No need to grease the cookie sheet. Bake the crackers for 15 minutes, or until they start to brown at the edges. Allow the crackers to cool down before gulping them down.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Artichoke and Avocado Bruschetta

My daughter went to day care today. Sigh!! And God knows I am a wreck. All these 4 months she was at home being treated royally by her parents and grandparents. But today she is off to this unknown world and I am quite sure she will do great. But I find myself constantly checking my phone thinking that any minute Helen is going to call me asking me to pick my baby up because she has been crying since she was dropped off.

So before I enter the panic mode I need to distract myself thinking about my delicious lunch. Some nice Artichoke and Avacado Bruschetta. No tomatoes needed.  I had seen the artichoke bruschetta recipe on epicurious and thought it would go wonderfully with some mozarella cheese and avocados. I made a few changes including eliminating the mayo and adding chilli falkes to bump it up a little to my spice level. They turned out delicious. They are a great summer snack, but I don't mind them at all for lunch either.

Artichoke and Avacado Bruschetta
Adapted from Epicurious
I made just 4 toasts, but you can easily double the recipe.

A small Jar of Marinated Artichokes, drained and patted dry
1/2 cup Mozarella Cheese (feel free to use any cheese you love like Parmesan etc)
1 Medium sized Avacado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and halved
1/2 teaspoon Chilli Flakes
2-3 Basil leaves, washed and thinly sliced
4- 1/2 inch slices of Baguette (I had a sourdough on hand, so I used that instead)

Preheat oven at 425 degrees. Broil or toast the bread and rub them with the Garlic clove. Arrange the Aritchokes on the bread and generously sprinkle with Mozarealla cheese. Broil the bread till the cheese melts and begins to brown.

Add the Avocado cubes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil leaves and chilli flakes.

It's almost lunch time and no call yet from Helen. Looks like my baby is doing just fine. I hope I am not speaking too soon.

Friday, July 1, 2011

friday treat!!

A much needed 3:00pm sugar crave satisfied by this Free Flavor of the month mini cupcake (delicious keylime with cream cheese frosting) from Frosted. So good!!!!

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