Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Almond Meal Pudding with Saffron


It was one of those late nights, when everyone and everything around the house was quiet. There is something magical about experiencing  silence in a full house. Lots of love and hope were floating around in the silence. Love for each other and hope to make  great strides in what ever it is that each one of us secretly desired in the serine silence of the night. 




That night I was secretly hoping to create some magic with almond meal. I had bought a bag of almond meal in hopes of baking with it. While I did bake some cookies and cakes with it, almond meal cannot sustain on its own. It needs lot of help from other ingredients and ends up being a part of the dish rather than the main ingredient. I was hopeful to change all of that with this almond meal pudding. 



1/2 cup of Almond meal

1 cup of 2% Milk

1 tsp of cardamom powder

1/4 tsp of saffron

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 tsp chia seeds




Heat a pan and dry roast the almond meal for about a minute or so. Keep an eye on this and do not walk away from the pan. With in a matter of seconds the almond meal will turn from being slightly roasted to completely burnt. So stand by  the pan, keep stirring and when the almond meal is slightly brown and toasty turn off the heat.

In a sauce pan add the milk, sugar, saffron and cardamom powder. Whisk it together and bring it to a boil.

Keep whisking in between and let it  boil for about 5- 8 minutes.

Once it comes to a boil, add the roasted almond meal. Whisk it thoroughly to prevent lumps.

Let it cook for about a minute and turn off the heat.

Add the chia seeds and whisk them in to the pudding mixture. The chia seeds soak up the moisture getting all gooey and help in getting the pudding like consistency.Close the sauce pan and let it sit for 10 -15 minutes.

By now it should all come together and if its too thick add more milk.

Add some crushed almonds or drizzle some honey if its not sweet enough.

The pudding has this dreamy yellowish tinge from the saffron. It was creamy yet with the right texture from the almond meal.



Hope is a beautiful thing. Whoever conjured it up had thought this through. We would have nothing to hold on to or fall back on if we lost hope. Just as we don't stop desiring, we should never stop hoping. Sometimes hope can end on a sweet note like this almond meal pudding.




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Couscous with Chickpeas, Turmeric and Garlic

Searching for an Identity stems from the inherent desire to fit in.The desire to carve a niche of our own,the struggle to be embraced and not erased by the society never seizes. After all we are part of a society and cannot seclude ourselves away from it. 




Falling in love was reason enough to  move across the globe and bid adieu to the life and land I grew up on. When the plane touched down the soil of what would be my new home, I had this sinking feeling in my heart. I felt like I was the odd one out. In fact I was the odd one out and I chose to remain the odd one.Some times inadvertently we try to change ourselves in an attempt to be more acceptable to our so called peers. This may seem to work for a while, but eventually you are who you are. No one or nothing can take that away from you. 

Over the years, both myself and my new found land developed  a relationship filled with acceptance, love and mutual admiration.The desire to find pieces of myself in this foreign soil lead me on a fascinating journey filled with laughter, love and some tears. A huge part of this love saga belongs to the magic food weaves around cultures, bringing together the cinnamon, sugar and spice. 



All these thoughts flashed through my mind, while I was staring at a pack of Couscous at the grocery store. Couscous was something I have neither cooked nor tasted. I thought I should give it a try, for it could only strengthen the culinary ties that exist far and beyond the boundaries of land.




1 cup of couscous 

1 cup of chickpeas/Garbanzo beans -  I used the canned chickpeas

1 tsp of red chili flakes 

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp of soy sauce 

2 tsp of dried mint leaves 

3 cloves of garlic - minced 


Boil 1 and half cups of water. 

Once the water comes to a boil, add the cup of couscous, stir and turn off the heat. 

Let it sit for 5 minutes and mix the couscous with a fork to break up the lumps. 

Heat a pan with 2 tsp of olive oil. 

Once the oil is hot add the turmeric, garlic and red chili flakes. 

Let the chili flakes and garlic get toasty and add the soy sauce. 

Let it cook for about a minute and add the chick peas. 

Let them fry for a minute or two and add the cooked couscous, black pepper and salt. 

Stir them together and cook for about 4-5 minutes. 

Turn off the heat and add the dried mint leaves.


In an attempt to find bits and pieces of me in the couscous I added ingredients that were close to my heart - garlic, turmeric and chili flakes. Food  which is the very essence of our sustenance has the remarkable ability to break barriers and wrap us all together in the warmth of love.As they say nothing says welcome home like a good hearty meal. 










Linked to 

The monthly event Our Growing Edge hosted by jules from thekiwidiaries












My Legume love Affair hosted by theveggieindian and created by Susan of thewellseasonedcook.



Friday, September 26, 2014

Oat meal with Chia seeds, Berries and Honey


I wonder how and when the concept of time evolved.We are entwined around the invisible boundaries dictated by time and let them influence our lives in ways we would never have imagined. The concept of time brings in to our lives the baggage of past, the anxiety of future and the restlessness of the present. We seem to be constantly racing it.


When I was young, I used to wake up to the cacophonous chirping of the birds and reflect on my bizarre dreams. Now-a-days, I wake up to the rather annoying tone of my alarm and stare at the clock. Five more minutes won't kill the day I would presume, only to realize the five minutes stretched on to ten and its all going down hill now. Thus, starts the race against time. Rushing through breakfast, school, traffic, work, driving back from work, making it on time to the umpteen after school activities, making dinner and finally dragging my sorry self to bed on time. 

This chaotic chase against time, made me wonder what would it be like to  cherish the time rather than chase it. There has to be a way for me to sit and cherish the morning silence.

The next day, I woke up and instead of staring at the clock, I peeked out side. I saw the most beautiful sunrise and wondered how insane I must be to neglect this. Instead of feeling the morning rush, I felt the morning sun. 



In an effort to alleviate the morning rush, I came up with this oat meal chia seed treat. The whole thing can be made the night before and the oats, chia seeds /fruit will soak in the silence of night and greet you with a chirpy, creamy delight in the morning.



The previous night :

Mix 1/3 cup of quick oats 

2 tsps of chia seeds 

1 cup of frozen berries 

1 cup of  2% Milk 

Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

The next morning add few tsps of milk and Microwave for 30 seconds  or so. 

Drizzle some raw honey on top and its ready. 




The promise of the morning sun brings in hope and happiness. Why not celebrate that promise with a hearty healthy breakfast. 



Monday, September 22, 2014

Chocolate cake with Quinoa flour and Olive oil

When the little guy was born, I was deprived of a lot of things, including sleep. After spending three weeks with little to no sleep, I was on the verge of losing it all. That's when the man who is the invisible pillar of strength in my life shows up  with a book in his hand. It was a book I meant to read before the little one was born - "The interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahari. I take one look at the book and decide just like motherhood, fatherhood has made him crazy. Where in the world would I find the strength to read a book through diaper changes and sleepless nights.

That night, rather reluctantly I opened the book. I read through the diaper changes, the midnight feeds, the crying and all the way in to the morning. For the first time in weeks, I felt happy and lucid.





There is something magical about books and the smell of dusty old pages. They open the doors  to an amazing world filled with characters I admire, stories I desire and fantasies I envy. They make me pause and experience the essence of unspoken emotions floating around the sentences. Reflect on the subtle mysteries lurking beneath the words scattered across the pages. 









The other day we woke up to the silence of  rain drops.  The little guy declared it was a perfect day to cuddle up in a corner with a good book and warm chocolate cake.


I tried something different with this chocolate cake. I used quinoa flour and a double boiler to melt the chocolate chips with olive oil and absolutely no butter.




  • 1/2 cup of Quinoa flour - I used red quinoa. Dry roast the quinoa on low heat for about 1- 2 minutes. Let it cool and blend the roasted quinoa to a fine powder. 



  • 1/2 cup of organic white flour 



  • 1 tsp of baking powder 



  • 1/2 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips + 1/2 cup of olive oil. 



  • Melt the chocolate chips and olive oil on a double boiler. 

 Boil a small pot of water, when the water comes to a boil turn off the heat and place the bowl of chocolate chips and olive oil on top of the boiling water. Keep stirring with a fork to melt the chocolate. The chips will melt in about 2 minutes or so. 


  • 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1 egg. 

           Beat the egg along with the sugar.


  • 2 Tablespoons milk 




  • Frosting - 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. 
Melt the chocolates chips on the double boiler. since we are using less olive oil, the melted chocolate chips will be thicker and can be poured over the baked cake once it cools down. 



Pre heat the oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix the dry ingredients - 1/2 cup Quinoa flour+ 1/2 cup organic white flour and baking powder.

To this add the egg beaten with the sugar.

Add the 1/2 cup of  chocolate chips melted in 1/2 cup of olive oil.

Add the 2 Tablespoons of milk and blend the ingredients together.

Optional- we sprinkled another 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips in the batter.

Grease a 8 inch cake tin with olive oil.

Pour the batter and bake for 12 -15 minutes. 

Once the cake is cooled, add the 1/4 cup of chocolate chips melted in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.




The cake has a subtle nutty flavor of quinoa, which is complemented flawlessly by  olive oil and the chocolate  brings it all together. Books never fail to bring that little spark of joy in my life, Just like chocolate never fails to fill my heart with joy. They make me reach for the sky, even if its just in my thoughts- They make me happy. 


                        End of the day, we read our books, had our cake and must say life is good.



Linked to black-white-wednesday at cindystarblog

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Spicy Fried Rice with Quinoa

Absolute silence. I am yet to experience it, for I always hear the noise of silence. Even when I am in a  so called silent space, I have busy thoughts in my mind, I hear the most mundane sounds which disrupt the silence I am trying to focus on and then I give up and experience the cheerful cacophony surrounding me.

The same cacophony can some times find its way in to a dish. There can be too many ingredients, too many spices and a lot going on in terms of flavor. These dishes are elaborate and I find them very therapeutic both in terms of making and devouring the dish. 

It was one of those days when I felt the need to cook something elaborate. I love quinoa and rice. I made a pudding once with Quinoa and Rice. This time around I wanted to try a fried rice with quinoa, lots of vegetables and spices. 




Main Ingredients 

1 cup of cooked rice - I cooked the rice with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of coconut milk.
Coconut milk adds a subtle creaminess to the rice which does wonders to it when mixed with all the spices.

1/2 cup of cooked quinoa - Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package.


Vegetables

1 cup of peas

1 medium onion - finely chopped

1 yellow sqaush

1 cup of boiled potatoes


Spices 

3 cloves of garlic

1 green chili - finely chopped

1 tsp of grated ginger

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp black pepper powder

1 tsp  cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp Green curry paste

salt



Heat the pan with 3 tsp of olive oil.

Add the turmeric, garlic, ginger, green chili and onions to the hot oil.

Let them roast for about 20-30 seconds.

Add the vegetables - peas, squash and the boiled potatoes.

Add the spices - green curry paste, cumin, coriander, black pepper,red chili powder and salt.

Let them cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the rice and quinoa to the cooked vegetable/spice mix and stir them all together.

Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let it sit for 10 minutes.




The dish was bursting with flavors and well worth the time and effort.

Linked to Vegan Thursdays

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Potato Stew with Cumin and Green chiles



I have been told numerous times to keep moving forward and not dwell on the past. I beg to defer on this. Nostalgia is a beautiful feeling and once in a while it never hurts to dwell on our past. Looking back we can see how far we have come, perhaps things we could have handled differently and most important of all it can bring back  those long lost culinary memories. 





When I traveled across the globe, I was introduced to a whole new culinary world full of vibrant flavors. I fell in love with the pastas, sea food was my new best friend and don't even get me started on the crush I have on cheese cakes, peanut butter and hash browns. 

Hash browns are nothing but shredded pan fried potatoes. I grew up eating potatoes all my life, yet there was something  irresistible about these hash browns. 

One day while I was peeling  potatoes with the sole intention of turning them in to the much desired hash browns, my culinary nostalgia  took over me. I was reminded of my grandma's potato stew.It took me back in time to the little kitchen in which my grandma created culinary masterpieces filled with flavor and love. I wanted to feel that love in my kitchen. I wanted to bring her and my memories back to my own kitchen.


This dish is a perfect example of how we don't need ten different exotic ingredients to create some thing exceptional. The cumin and green chiles are the stars here and on top of that you add in a touch of love. Nothing can surpass that.

2 cups of boiled potatoes coarsely mashed in to big chunks.

1 medium onion, chopped.

1 tsp of turmeric

1 tsp of cumin seeds

2 green chilis, slit lengthwise.

1 tsp of grated ginger

2-3 cloves of minced garlic

1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper

2 cups of water

salt



Heat a tsp of olive oil.

when the oil is hot add the cumin seeds and green chili.

After about 20 - 30 seconds add the ginger and garlic.

Turn the heat to low and let them cook for a minute or so. Make sure the garlic and cumin are not burnt.

Add the onions and  turmeric powder and let them cook, until the onions are translucent.

Add the boiled, mashed potatoes. The potatoes shouldn't be completely mashed. I usually break them with my hand in to big chunks.

Stir in the potatoes and add the 2 cups of water.

Let the water come to boil, add the black pepper and salt.

Cover the pan and let it cook for 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.

The stew is ready.





Sometimes all it takes is a blast from the past to add some spice and joy to my otherwise mundane day. Once I finished cooking the potatoes, my kitchen smelled like my grandmom's. The hash browns can wait, I need to go back in time and devour those delicious memories and soak in the flavors of love.


Linked to cafelynnylu. and cindystarblog.atblack-white-wednesday-143.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mango Chia Seed Pudding



Falling in love has always been such an abstract concept to me. It seems more of an elusive thought/feeling that one can only relate to when they experience it. Growing up, the thought of being in love was fascinating to me. In my own  naive yet whimsical make believe world, I used to paint those elusive pictures of falling in love. Eventually I did fall in love and experienced all those elusive feelings and yet if I have to describe it, all I would say is its magical and one has to experience it rather than elaborate on it. 


Every now and then I also fall in love with the delectable delicacies of the culinary world. There are some love at first bites and there are some that I eventually learn to fall in love with. One such fruit is the Mango. I literally hated mangoes as a child. Everything about the fruit starting with its appearance, smell and the eagerness with which my family devoured it was throwing me off. Never once did I  taste it. I grew up with this sort of uncalled for  hatred towards the fruit, for I never even took a bite of it. 



Eventually after several years of hating, one day I took a bite of the  forbidden fruit with lot of trepidation (I did it just to prove to myself that I really do hate it). It was sweet, succulent and felt like falling in love. I kicked myself for not trying it out sooner and how I wasted all those years in hatred,while my family devoured all the mango love.



I was in one of those nostalgic mango moods, when the idea of a mango pudding popped into my thoughts. I made this Chia Seed Pudding before with chia seeds and Turmeric. The idea of a mango pudding with chia seeds was hard to resist. 



2 cups of frozen mango pieces (If you can get hold of fresh mangoes, its even better)

Although the frozen mangoes give a nice consistency to the pudding.

 2 cups of 2% milk

1/3 cup of chia seeds

2 Tablespoons of Honey.

Blend all the ingredients together.

Pour the pudding in to a bowl and refrigerate for about 10 - 20 minutes.

If the consistency is too thick, add little milk.

Top it off with fresh fruit, mangoes, strawberries, nuts - go crazy with it.

Drizzle some honey on top, if its not sweet enough.





The pudding reminds me of how one should never belittle things in life, for you never know where true love is lurking. Mine was marooned inside the mango, waiting to be embraced. This pudding is my way of honoring and saying "I love you" to the Mango.








Linked to eatyourveg and delicieux at












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