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Showing posts from September, 2015

Vegetarian Chili

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During my travels, I am always pleasantly surprised at getting to taste some of the best foods at the most unusual locations.

Last summer when were shuttling between our hotel at Huntsville and exploring the wilderness at Algonquin park, we chanced upon a restaurant called 3 guys and a stove. The unusual name intrigued us so much that we had to try it out. To our surprise it was a fine dining restaurant by a celebrity chef. Needless to say the food was awesome. After a whole day of rugged adventure, our stomachs just needed that extra pampering.

This year we discovered another gem right inside Algonquin Park. Post noon, we were famished and hoped to grab a quick snack at the Algonquin Visitor Center. We were surprised that the cafeteria there had huge selection of meals to choose from. The food was fresh and very tasty. The best discovery was the vegetarian chili. A big bowlful keep me happy and full for most part of the day.

I have tried to recreate similar flavor in my home kitchen. I …

Cilantro Chicken with Carrot Rice!

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Fall allergies have left my sinuses flowing and head completely jammed. But thankfully my taste buds have been spared. I don't have the energy to cook elaborate meals but I still want a lip smacking meal. Last Sunday I just put together a quick lunch comprising of Cilantro chicken and Carrot rice. The flavors and colors of the meal lifted my spirits. Both recipes are easy with regular pantry staples.

Cilantro Chicken

Ingredients:

1 pound chicken, chopped into desired sizes
a bunch of spring onions
8-10 sprigs of cilantro, stems and leaves
2-3 green chilies
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 bay leaf
3-4 cloves
5-6 peppercorns
2-3 cardamom pods
1 small stick of cinammon
1 tsp coriander pdr
1 tsp cumin pdr
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup yogurt
juice of one lime
1-2 tbsp. of oil
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Grind together cilantro, chilies, spring onions, garlic, ginger and lime juice to a fine paste.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan.
Temper with bay leaf, cloves, peppe…

Alu Poshto/ Potatoes in Poppy seed sauce!

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Poppy seeds or Khuskhus as it is called in India is an expensive spice and used sparingly, usually in meat dishes. This is one of kind recipe where in Potatoes are simmered in a gravy made entirely with poppy seeds. Its has a very unique taste and hails from the Bengali culture in India. I was introduced to this recipe post my marriage. The recipe also calls for the use of mustard oil as the sharp flavor of this oil complements the mellow potatoes very well. You will need to acquire a taste for this dish but once you enjoy it, its very additive. It is usually served along with rice and dal.

Ingredients:
2-3 Potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
3-4 tbsp. of poppy seeds
2-3 green chilies slit
2 tbsp. mustard oil
pinch of turmeric pdr
Salt to taste

Directions:
Soak the poppy seeds in little water and grind to a fine paste.
Heat up the mustard oil in a saucepan till smoking hot. This is essential tip when cooking with mustard oil. Reduce the flame.
Add in the potatoes with turmeric pdr.
Sau…

Modaks / Gluten Free Sweet Dumplings!

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Ganapati Bappa Morya! That is all you would hear if you were currently in the western zones of India, namely, Maharashtra and Goa. This is a special salutation given to Lord Ganesha / Ganapati, our favorite deity. The festivities of Ganesh Chaturti started on thursday 17th Sept 2015 and will carry on for 21 days. Every family worships idol of Ganapati for their preferred number of days which can be 11/2, 5,7,11 or 21 days after which visarjan is done, that is the deity is immersed in a water body like a lake or sea.

But from the time that the deity is brought into our homes, celebrations begin. The house and especially the pandal where Ganpati is placed is beautifully decorated. Special foods are cooked only for this occasion. Prayers are done and beautiful songs are sung in the glory of Lord Ganesha. The house is filled with spiritual happiness. Family and friends visit each other and take blessings from all the deities.

Celebrations in Goa are more on a homely spiritual scale while …

Dal Fry/ Lentil Soup!

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Dal is quintessential to any Indian meal. There are many variations of dal across India depending on the type of lentil used and the spices and tadka /tempering given to the dal. The most common lentil used for dal preparation is tuvar dal/split pigeon, yellow moong dal, chana dal and masoor dal.

Dal is the protein aspect of a vegetarian meal. But sadly its not consumed in large amounts to provide the sufficient amount of protein. A large bowl of dal on every meal is essential in addition to the various vegetables and chutneys/relishes to provide a well balanced vegetarian diet.

Dal Fry is one such recipe of dal where it taste so good that I can eat it by the bowlfuls. Its a hot favorite on restaurant menus too. I prefer to use yellow moong dal as it cooks easily on a stovetop and then temper it with different spices.

Ingredients:
1 cup yellow moong dal
1 small onion sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. of grated ginger
1 small tomato chopped
1…

Gluten Free Breakfast Cookies and Chocolate cupcakes!

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This Sunday, My daughter and I spent time together baking her favorite treats. This summer sped by so fast without a chance to bake anything. With grandparents visiting us after a long time, we spend most of our days discovering new places, new foods and meeting old friends  My daughter just managed on store brought Gluten free cookies. But they are so expensive and so few in a pack. Home made ones give me better control on the ingredients and we can bake a huge batch to last her at least for a few days. My chocoholic daughter wouldn't leave them around for too long.
Both these recipes are from Sarah Bakes website. I love the fact that she uses coconut milk and coconut oil in her recipes. Most of the treats I tried, have been a huge hit at home, even with my gluten free resisting husband.

The recipes for breakfast cookies and chocolate cup cakes.

Baking together is bonding and learning time for both of us. She loves to measure each ingredient and mix them well.  Once cooled, she fros…

Roasted Beetroot and Garlic Dip!

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Women have a tendency to be on the anemic side, that is, have an iron deficiency.. I have lived with this heath issue most of my life. I hate taking supplements and prefer to maintain my health with the right diet. Mom would usually make a carrot beetroot soup for me on days when my iron was low. She would boil carrots and beetroot, puree them and flavor it up with salt, pepper and roasted cumin pdr. You an also add tomatoes for a nice tang. This soup instantly boost your levels if taken regularly for a few days. I love this soup but am always on the lookout for recipes with beetroot.

I love the intense hue of beetroots but was never too fond of its raw taste. I usually boil beetroots and use it to make stir-fries or grate them and add it to yogurts with some chat masala to make beetroot raita.

I recently discovered that roasting beets mellows its sharpness and makes it more palatable. I made this beetroot dip with roasted garlic and it taste awesome. You can use it to spread or as a d…

Okra in coconut sauce!

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My first day in college has a very interesting story associated with okra and my Konkani heritage. As I walked into the admin office and submitted my profile, the gentlemen on the other side gave me a big familiar smile and asked me if I was from Goa. I was quite surprised to bump into a Goan there but was happy to hear Konkani, my native dialect.
Then in a mocking way he called me bheno. I knew that it translated to okra but wondered why he would call me that. Once I was back home, I narrated the whole incident to my dad. He laughed and said all the people in our village in Goa are jokingly called bheno as okra was predominantly grown there. I finally discovered that okra is a part of my heritage too.

Bendnyachi god bhaji or okras cooked in a sweet spicy coconut sauce. This is another Konkani recipe unknown to the outside world. It is usually cooked during the month of Shravan, according to the Hindu calendar. Since this recipe is devoid of onions and garlic, it is consumed on religiou…

Cilantro-Coconut Chutney!

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Cilantro or Coriander leaves may have a love hate relation with people in the west but in the east, esp India, its the most favorite herb used. Almost every curry is garnished with cilantro. We use it to make chutneys or dips, green masala or spice paste to flavor meats, fish and vegetables. People from Bengal, even make fritters with it. Its a ubiquitous herb used all over India in various ways.

This is my favorite chutney recipe- cilantro coconut chutney. I use it as a spread on breads, chapatis. As a dip with idlis, dosas or fritters . It's pretty versatile and pairs up with everything.

Ingredients:
1 bunch of cilantro- tender stems and leaves used.
1-2 cloves of garlic,chopped
1 -2 green chillies, chopped
1/4 cup grated fresh coconut
1 small ball of tamarind
salt to taste
1 tsp of sugar

Directions:
Clean the bunch of cilantro and remove the roots and blackened leaves, if any.
Wash the cilantro very well to get rid of the mud.
In a blender, add the cilantro, green chilli, garlic, coconut…

Ambyacho Halwo / Mango Jam

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On going with the Mango series, today mom prepared home made mango jam or ambyacho halwo as we call it. This is a very easy jam recipe which doesn't require pectin or preservatives. Bottled in a clean glass jar, it stays good for a month or more. Its likely to finish off first.

Makes : enough to fill a 250ml jar

Ingredients:
1 large Haden mango- makes about 2 cups mango pulp
2 tbsp. ghee
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom pdr

Directions:
De-skin the mango and mash it into a pulp with your hands. You should get about 2 cups.
In a large saucepan, heat the ghee on medium.
Add the mango pulp and lower the heat.
The mixture has to be continuously stirred till the juice in the mango evaporates and changes color .
Add in the sugar now and keep stirring till the mixture comes together and looks glossy. It took us about 30 mins.
Take care to not burn the mixture as it would ruin the taste.
Sprinkle in the cardamom pdr now.
The mango jam is ready. Cool and store it in a dry glass jar.




Mangane / Lentil Dessert

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Mangane is another classic Konkani dessert. It is usually made during the Shravan month according to the Hindu calendar. Chana dal and sabudana(tapioca pearls) are cooked slowly in coconut milk to create a creamy, high -protein dessert.

Makes : for 5-6

Ingredients:
1 cup chana dal
1/2 cup sabudana /tapioca pearls
2-3 tbsp. of jaggery
2-3 tbsp. of sugar
1 cup coconut milk (freshly squeezed or canned)*
1/4 tsp cardamom pdr
pinch of salt for flavor
1 tbsp. ghee
handful of raisins and cashew nuts

Directions:
Wash and soak the chana dal in little water for about 30 mins.
Heat a saucepan and add the washed dal and salt and enough water to cover it.
Cook the dal till each grain can be easily mashed between your finger tips.
Take care not to overcook till it loses its shape.
In the meanwhile also soak sabudana for about 10 mins.
Add to the cooked dal.
Stir in the jaggery and sugar and taste to suit your level of sweetness.
Throw in the raisins and cashew nuts now.
Pour in the coconut milk and let the mixture …

Sabudana kitchdi / GF Tapioca Sago Breakfast!

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Sabudana or Tapioca sago/pearls are a good gluten free source for carbs. In India, we make special preparations such as sabudana wadas, sabudana kitchdi during religious fast. But these make great breakfast or snack options any time.

Sabudana pearls can be little tricky to cook. If overcooked, it can get very chewy. They are available in varied sizes too. Generally, the pearls would be washed and soaked for about 15-30 mins. But the varieties available now don't need soaking.

A general rule of thumb is to wash the pearls in water, drain and keep aside. Every few minutes, press the pearls to feel them. If they are firm, sprinkle some water and set aside. Keep doing this till the pearls feel spongy. Now they are ready to be cooked.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 cup sabudana/ tapioca pearls
1 potato, deskinned and chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
2-3 sprigs of curry leaves
1/2 cup peanuts, roasted and crushed
salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil.
1 tsp ghee

Directions:
Wash the sago pearls and get the…

Sakharbhat/ Sweet Rice Dessert

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Sakharbhat is one of the desserts prepared in Goa, specially for weddings. Its either prepared at home during Devkarya (the rituals performed a day before the actual wedding) or served during the wedding. Its a sweet rice recipe with an usual flavor combo of cloves and saffron.

Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups hot water
1/2 sugar
2+2 tsp of ghee
4-5 cloves
handful of raisins
pinch of saffron soaked in 2 tbsp of milk
pinch of salt to enhance the flavor

Directions:
Wash the rice well and spread on paper towel to dry for 15-20 mins.
Heat 2 tsp of ghee in a saucepan.Temper with cloves.
Once their flavor releases, add raisins and rice.
Saute to coat the rice well in ghee.
Stir in the hot water. Mix well.
Cover the pan with lid and lower the temperature.
Let the rice cook till almost done.
Now add in the sugar and saffron with milk.
Sprinkle some salt and mix all ingredients well.
Add in the remaining 2 tsp of ghee and stir to combine.
Taste to balance sweetness.
Serve Sakharbhat as a desser…