Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New idea & a quick recipe

You must have heard it a gazillion times that a picture speaks louder than words and writing this right now is making me feel cheesy already. But I just want to share something with you today.

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So I have probably not shared this with you earlier but I was not really a camera person before I started this blog. I love food and anything related to it but I never thought that food could lead me to something like photography. My husband inspired me to pick up the camera and try and make my food look pretty and now I'm loving every bit of it. I love picking up the camera and freezing some of the most beautiful colors of life and nature, be it food or a dry leaf in my backyard or my daughter's beautiful brown eyes. There's also something else that this blog has helped me love and that is sharing what I want with you strangers who in some weird way are no stranger. So I want to combine these two new found loves of mine and try and take it one step forward. I was thinking of starting a series 'Wordless Wednesday' which will be in every way similar to the wordless wednesday you've heard of. I would choose one picture every Wednesday from the past week and share it with everyone. What do you think? I hope you'll like it and even I hope that I'd be able to make it happen!

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Ok! so now the recipe.. If you meet me here regularly then by now you must know that I am a stay-at-home mom who struggles to be a super mom and do every thing she thinks she's supposed to do. In the middle of all the craziness I have to deal with, its almost impossible to fix a lunch for myself when there's no help. Because of that I try some new recipes which are quick, easy to fix and I don't need to stand in front of the pot stirring. Here's one such recipe I want to share with you today. 'Peppery Rice'. 

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Ingredients: 

1 cup Basmati rice
10-15 peppercorns coarsely crushed
1/2 cup chopped carrots (optional)
1/4 cups frozen corn (optional)
1 cup chopped red onion
salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups of water

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Method:

What I do is soak crushed peppercorn in olive for a few minutes and then pour oil in a pan and then turn on the heat to medium. That really infuses peppercorn's sweet and peppery flavor in the oil. If you don't have that much time or patience, just heat oil in a thick bottom pot, throw in crushed black pepper then onion  and fry onion until its golden brown.
Add carrots and fry for about a minute and then add thawed corn (adding veggies is optional, I do so sometimes in order to add vegetables to my diet. If you want you can omit them).
Now add black pepper, rice and salt and add water, mix them well. Bring it to a nice boil and then cover with a lid and turn heat to low. Let the rice cook for about 15- 20 minutes or until its cooked.
You can garnish it with cilantro and your Peppery Rice is ready to eat..
It can be served with raita or green chatni although I eat it as is.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Veggie Parathas

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I took my little monster to the doctor this Friday. Nothing major, just the same old reason which has been troubling every parent since eternity. My kid doesn't eat very well! She would eat anything in the world except her food and that's the reason she's not gaining weight so her doctor wants to keep a close eye. As it turns out, planning and cooking food for my 11 month old is way too difficult for me than planning a menu for a big party. She hates vegetables, wouldn't eat meat if not cooked in a certain way and her favorite thing to do with cheese is throwing it around. And did I tell you that the little one wouldn't touch food that could make her cute little hands dirty? Yup, we have a nosy princess in our house!

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So I have been experimenting a lot lately and the good part is I get some good recipes out of it. One of my friends gave me this paratha recipe and I sort of fell in love with it mostly because it has so many vegetables in it and ofcourse because it tastes wonderful.

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The part of India where I come from Roti/Paratha is kind of a staple. I have some fond memories of us sitting and drooling, holding our plates and staring at the tava (skillet) while my mom would cook each paratha on low heat until perfection. So you can say that we take our parathas a little too seriously. But now when I'm cooking I have a little problem with adding oil/fat to anything and probably that's also the reason why I loved this paratha recipe.

Ingredients:

1 bunch spinach
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup shredded paneer/cottage cheese
1/2 finely chopped onion
1 cup boiled and mashed potatoes
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ginger paste
1-2 green chili minced (if you are making it for kids you have to go easy on it)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp ajwain seeds (this again is good for the kids as its very good for digestion so I added them, you can totally omit them if you can't find them)
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
3/4  cups Semolina/ Cream of wheat
Salt
Oil spray
You can grate and add as many vegetables as you want. I used what I had handy.


Method:

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Grate carrots and paneer and chop the rest of the vegetables. Mix them all together in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.

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Mix everything all together with your hand applying a little pressure and try to bind them all together. You don't want to add any water because vegetables themselves will leave a lot of water, enough to make a dough out of it. Then divide it into smaller balls about 2.5 - 3 inch in size.

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Using a rolling pin flatten them just like you roll a roti (if you want to see a step by step recipe for a roti you might want to go here). Vegetables lose a lot of water and that can loosen the dough fast so you must dust it frequently while rolling. This can be the part where you need to be patient because it can be a bit of a struggle!

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Nicely heat a tava or griddle. Put a paratha on the griddle. Do the first flip after 20-25 seconds. As soon as the first flip is done, spray a bit of oil on the top to spread well over the surface of the paratha. Flip again in 30 seconds and spray oil on this surface too. The paratha is done when both sides are crispy and golden brown. Try not to overheat the griddle or the parathas will brown from outside and stay undercooked, so once the griddle is hot enough turn the heat to medium.

Serve with chilled yogurt and your favourite pickle or chutney.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sprouts Salad

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A's childhood friend and his wife who happen to be a very close friends of mine as well were visiting us for the weekend. Remember I was in California visiting some friends with my little monster? Yeah! now they were visiting us. They missed junior so much that they had to fly all the way from the west coast to east. How sweet is that?

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My husband and his friend have known each other and have been the best buddies since he can't even remember when. Probably 3rd grade and by luck they've been together since. They completed their school together, then they went to the same college, then they moved to the US at around the same time and that too to the same city. Then we got married and guess what?? Our weddings were just two days apart from each-other. I and his better half also moved to the US at the same time and now both of us ladies have become close too. As cheesy as it might sound, I guess nature has helped a lot in keeping the two families so close.

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They too are a big lover of food just like we are. So we ate this past weekend and we ate a lot! From traditional Indian to Thai to Italian to spending a whole day barbecuing and how can I forget dessert? Chocolate cakes and strawberry cheesecake parfaits!
We tried a lot of new recipes and my new Kitchen Aid stand mixer helped us all along. But on hindsight we ate so much that by Monday morning everyone gave up and wanted something light and cool. I always have some homemade sprouts in my kitchen I guess for the days like this. So this time I had some moong daal (mung bean sprouts).

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We grabbed whatever veggies were left in the refrigerator, made some lemon vinaigrette, tossed them all together and a nice, light and healthy breakfast was ready. Although we still ate it like we ate the rest of the weekend - 'a lot of it'! But you just can't resist, can you?
So here's the recipe to our quick fix Sprout Salad.

Ingredients :

For Salad:
2 cups Mung sprouts
1/4 cup chopped red onion
10-15 cherry tomatoes (cut into two)
1 Jalapeno pepper minced
1 orange (peeled and sliced)

For the lemon vinaigrette:
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

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Method:

The only part that's a bit tricky here is to make the sprouts. Which if I think again is not that tricky actually.
Take a cup of mung beans or any other bean or lentil you want and soak them in water overnight. Next morning clean them with fresh water.
Take a damp cheese cloth or any piece of cloth which is just thin enough for the air to pass through.
Put the beans into it and tie all the ends together using a string /rubber-band. Just make sure that you leave enough space in the bag for the sprouts to grow.
Place them either in a dark place like a bowl with a tight lid and into the oven or I just hang them near my kitchen sink so that I can sprinkle some water every-time the cloth dries out.
It'll take a day or sometimes two for the sprouts to grow.

For the lemon vinaigrette:
In a bowl add freshly squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper. While whisking it all together, slowly add olive oil to it and combine all the ingredients together.
Now for the salad, mix all the ingredients together in a salad bowl and pour the lemon vinaigrette. Toss them all together and serve.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Palak Paneer for my birthday

Alright! so yesterday was my birthday.. Is it bad if I'm not all excited and jumping around? Gone are the days when it was impossible to understand that why can not your birthday be a national holiday and you used to start the countdown from a month before. I guess after celebrating a certain number of birthdays you sort of wish if you could just push the date a little further, that's exactly the age I've reached.. Boohoo!

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Anyways this one was definitely a special one for me because this was my first birthday as a mommy and 'A' made every effort for me to have as much fun and relax as much as I can. He got me some gorgeous roses and my favorite cake and cooked a nice dinner for the three of us and  guess what I got as a birthday gift??
A Kitchenaid!! That made my day right there.

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For dinner he exceeded all my expectations. He made my favorite Palak Paneer with butter naan, rice pulav and dahi kachumbar/ mixed vegetable raita. How better can a birthday get? Spending it with the most gorgeous people in your life and having the most gorgeous dinner.
Although  I did not make this palak paneer myself but still I'm taking the liberty of sharing 'A's' recipe here (I did ask his permission  BTW).

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Palak Paneer one of my all time favorite Indian foods, not only because it tastes out of the world but also because its one of those dishes which is rich but you still you don't feel guilty eating it. Palak which is hindi name for spinach doesn't need any introduction and Paneer is fresh Indian cheese which rich in protein.

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If you don't find paneer due to any reason Queso blanco or Queso fresco is the closest thing you can find although unlike Paneer they are lightly salted. Cottage cheese is also another good alternative. BUt I'm sure you can find paneer easily if you know of any Indian food market.

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 Palak or spinach gives the dish a  beautiful green color and paneer and cream gives it just the right amount of richness needed for a perfect Indian curry and when you will taste it you will know exactly what I'm talking about.
Here's the ingredients and the method how A made it.

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh green spinach
8 oz packet of paneer cut into cubes
1 cup red chopped onion
1 cup tomato pureed
3-4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 inch ginger
2-3 thai green chili
1 tsp fennel seeds
3-4 cloves
1/4 cup heavy cream or 2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
3 tbsp olive oil/cooking oil
Salt

Method:

Boil spinach in a big pot adding fennel seeds and cloves to it. Let it cool and then blend it in a blender. Save the water in which you boiled your spinach.
Grind onion, ginger, garlic and thai chili making a thick paste.
Heat oil in a medium sized pot and add the ground paste of onion, garlic and the other ingredients.
Cook everything until the paste starts changing color from light pink to darker pink and then slowly towards golden. Then add salt.
Stir for a minute and you'll see onion loosing some oil that's when you have to add coriander powder & curry powder.
Mix it all together and add pureed tomato.
Cook everything until the paste is thicker and all the liquid from the tomato is cooked. Then you have to add the pureed mixture of spinach, fennel seeds and cloves. Fennel seeds and cloves here are the secret ingredients that I add to my spinach. This gets rid of the spinachy (if there's any word like that) smell of the greens.
Don't forget to turn the heat to lowest because as soon as spinach hits the hot pot it would start bubbling and jumping. So continuously stir it on low heat for a minute or two and then cover it with a lid to let it cook. If you think the gravy is too thick for you add a ladle or two of the saved boiled water from the spinach and then cover it.
In a separate sauce pan boil salted water, turn off the heat and then add the paneer cubes. Let it stay in hot water for 2-3 mintes while your curry is being cooked. This helps drain all the excess fat from the cheese making it softer.
Then add cream or sour cream whatever you are using to the spinach curry. Mix well.
Drain our paneer cubes from the salt water and add it to the gravy.
Give it one quick boil and your Palak Paneer is ready. We ate it with some char grilled butter naan.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

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So I get an award! M from Bettycrapper gave away an award to me. A versatile blogger award. How cool is that? Well! she did that about a month back and I was busy/lazy enough to accept it. So today after putting my little monster to bed I decided to thank M for her graciousness.
Thanks M for appreciating whatever good or bad I try to do here.

The guidelines for accepting this award are...
  • Thank the person/people who gave it to you.
  • Tell 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass the award on to 15 bloggers, whom you have recently discovered, and think are fantastic.
So here's some random 7 things about me
  1. I'm crazy for Italian food.
  2. I love traveling but I hate flights.
  3. I'm a big time Food Network junkie
  4. I buy books but barely ever read them
  5. My birthday is 12th of july (its right around the corner..yay!!)
  6. Everyone has a favorite color or place or song.. I don't think I have one.
  7. It took me hours to write these random things about myself and now I can't come up with the last one.
My list of favorite blogs changes everyday. This is what I'm driven to right now in any random order.
  1.  Pickycook
  2.  Forkspoonnknife
  3.  Mybakingaddiction
  4. Almostbourdain 
  5.  Veggiebelly
  6.  Cannelle-vanille
  7.  Yasmeen-healthnut
  8. Tartelette 
  9.  Tasteslikehome
  10.  Sophisticatedgourmet
  11.  Bakerella
  12.  Joythebaker
  13.  Mirchmasala
  14.  Zoomyummy
  15. Morethanamountfull
 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Vegetable Poha.. A simple yet tasteful way to start a beautiful day

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How does a nice romantic breakfast on a beautiful saturday morning sound, specially while your baby is fast asleep? Well! to me that sounds like the best morning ever..
When you have a super energetic 10 month old then breakfast is the last thing on your list let alone a romantic one but yesterday we got lucky. Little one went to bed just on time so that we could sit and relax and have a nice breakfast together. I made Vegetable Poha,one of my favorite breakfast not only because its delicious but also because you can fix it in minutes and trust me when you have a child at home you know what that means!

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I've spent a very big part of my student life in a small city named Indore in Central India or the state of Madhya Pradesh and Pohe (as they call it there) was something we used to eat every morning for breakfast and by that I  really mean every morning! Pohe with lots of sev namkeen on top of it accompanied with Jalebi is favorite breakfast for people there. You can find it anywhere and everywhere from street vendors to any good restaurants. Although nothing can compare to those early morning breakfasts with friends, standing on roadside with Pohe in hand but I often try if not to relive then to remember those days.

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Now for those who are not familiar with Poha, its nothing but flattened rice. It absorbs water very well and very quickly and so is a great option for something quick. You can find it in two varieties- Thick poha and Thin poha. Thick one comparatively takes longer to absorb water and doesn't get mushy unless soaked in water for long hence is perfect for Vegetable Poha.

So sharing another light and simple recipe for summer.

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Ingredients:

2 cups thick poha
1 thai chili (minced)
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped potato
1/4 cup sweet green peas
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 lime
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp sugar and salt to taste

Method:

Wash you poha with cold water and drain all the water. Set it aside.
Now heat oil in a pan and throw in the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start popping add chopped
potatoes. Since potatoes take a little longer to cook we are adding them first.
Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then throw in the carrots and peas. Now the thing with vegetable poha is that you can add as many veggies as you want so go ahead and have fun with it. I had carrots and peas so I used that.
Cook them again for another 4-5 minutes and then add chooped onion.
Stirring occasionally let all the vegetables cook well. When you think vegetable are cooked according to you liking add sugar, salt and turmeric.
Mix everything together and then add the final ingredient that is poha that you had washed and set aside.
Turn heat to very low and gently mix all the ingredients, poha is very soft so you don't want it to get mushy. If you think its a little dry for you as it sometimes happens, just sprinkle a little water on it and mix everything.
Turn of the heat and cover your pan with a lid and let it sit for a few minutes.
Serve it with a sprinkle of lime juice and if you want an extra kick to it just add a little sev or bhujia to it that you can find at any Indian market.

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