Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spicy Yogurt with Couscous



We all evolve as individuals with time. The way we think, interpret and deal with life changes over a period of time. Some call it maturity, I prefer the term adaptation. We adapt or attempt to adapt to the circumstances, changes, people and the life style. The process of adaptation also extends to the types of food we devour. As a child, I used to shun a whole bunch of dishes, with age- maturity or the need for adaptation; I embrace them with more warmth and affection. This makes me wonder if our taste buds go through some sort of metamorphosis or become more kosher.




I grew up on South Indian cuisine. The daily menu at home was something along the lines of lentils, vegetables and yogurt. I was reluctant to even try anything outside of this comfort zone. Life happened and I landed in the US of A and was bombarded with culinary choices like never before. There was the Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Mongolian and whole platter of ingredients and dishes I never tasted or heard before. 

I ventured on this new found culinary journey with lot of trepidation. I enjoyed the new taste, new culinary perspective, but eventually always wanted to come back to my comfort zone - the food I grew up on. I may enjoy the pasta as much as the burrito but in the end I crave for rice, lentils and yogurt. 

I often try to combine new ingredients with something I grew up on. Yogurt in Indian cuisine is by default on the spicier side, with seasoning and often mixed with rice. The dish may not appeal to everyone; in fact I never liked it as a kid. Over the years, I acquired a taste for this dish. I made this dish with spicy seasoned yogurt substituting rice for couscous.




1.   1 cup of Plain Yogurt
      2 cups of water

Whisk the yogurt and water together.
Add 1/2 tsp of salt- This may vary depending on the tartness of the Yogurt.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 Tablespoon red chili flakes
1 Tablespoon turmeric powder
2 Tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (This can be substituted with dried Mint leaves)


2.  Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, chili flakes, turmeric and dried fenugreek leaves and let them toast for couple of seconds. It is crucial to add these ingredients to hot oil to get that toasty   smoky flavor.




3.  Add the sizzling seasoning to the whisked yogurt.

4.  Take 1 cup of couscous in a bowl and add 1 cup of water. Microwave for 2 minutes, use a fork to break any lumps and add the couscous to the seasoned yogurt mix.

We always serve this dish with a side of lemon pickle, which complements the tartness of the yogurt and the spicy seasoning. 


The dish has a unique taste, a taste that grows on you. 

This dish can be tweaked by reducing the spice in the seasoning, adding some raisins, or pomegranate seeds instead of the fenugreek leaves, green chili instead of red chili flakes, or adding fresh herbs of your choice. 

Hope this dish inspires you to step out of your culinary comfort zone.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Beets with Ginger, Turmeric and Chili


The concept of love intrigues me. It seems simple yet complicated. Hard to define. I am not sure if it’s an emotion, attitude, feeling or some sort of attraction. It can bring in joy and break your heart, make you laugh and cry, bring in peace and chaos all that same time.  Love can be tangible, yet hard to hold on to. It can be cherished, yet may not be everlasting. It can be experienced, not defined. It's an emotion with different shades. Experiencing the different shades is what makes life beautiful. 


Love can also be a bitter sweet experience just like beets. I used to hate beets as a kid. Everything about the brown creepy bulbs and the red color threw me off. The first time I had a craving for beets was during my pregnancy. I was craving for spicy beets. I came up with this easy fool proof recipe for spicy beets with ginger, turmeric and chili powder. The only downside may be that it takes a while - a good 20 -25 minutes to cook.



2 small-medium sized beets, peeled and cubed in to small pieces 

1 tablespoon grated ginger 

1 tablespoon red chili powder 

1 teaspoon turmeric 

1 table spoon cumin seeds 

Salt 


Wash the beets, peel and cube them.

Heat a pan (preferably with a lid) with 1 tablespoon olive oil. 

When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and ginger. Let them roast for couple of seconds until you can smell the smoky cumin and ginger. 

Add the turmeric powder and chili powder. Stir everything together - wait for a minute and then add the beets. 

Mix the beets throughly with the spices. 

Close the lid, turn the heat to medium and let them cook with occasional stirring. 

I use a fork to test if the beets are cooked through. 

The last 5 minutes, open the lid and let the moisture evaporate. The dish has a sweetness of beets,the spice of chili powder and the occasional explosive taste of ginger. 








The beauty of love lies in  embracing imperfections. I believe beets are not perfect or ideal vegetables. They are messy, tough and need lots of love. when I saw the bowl with left over stains of red from the beet and yellow from turmeric- I saw the imperfections, the messiness and absolutely loved it. 




Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Green chilies and Fennel seed Omelete

Fear I believe is an elusive emotion. The fear of unknown is  so intangible yet has the power of crushing ones spirit indefinitely. I have succumbed to this fear countless number of times. Being bold, taking a risk and venturing in to an unknown territory were all forbidden in my little world. 

Along came the little guy and I found myself teaching him “Don’t let fear overtake you" and was personally avoiding all sorts of things because of my own irrational fear. 

There comes a point in parenthood when you have to actually walk the talk. So, I tried.



I tried in my own naive way to be bold and take risks. It felt exhilerating to let go of that rigidness, that unknown fear and be free. 

To celebrate my new found act of boldness, I made an omelet with bold flavors. Green chilies and fennel seeds with a dash of black pepper make a bold statement with their spicy, smoky flavors.


2 eggs 
1 green chili - split in 2 halves 
1/4 tsp of fennel seeds 
1/4 tsp of fresh ground black pepper 
salt 
olive oil



Heat a pan with 2 tsp of olive oil.

when the oil is hot add the green chilies and  fennel seeds.

Let them toast for couple of seconds, you should be able to smell the smoky flavor of the chilies and fennel seeds. 

Beat two eggs in a bowl thoroughly, and add to the pan when the green chilies and fennel seeds are toasted.

Mix the egg mixture, chilies and fennel seeds. Sprinkle some salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat and close the pan for 30 seconds. 

Open the lid and fold the omelette in to half and flip it over. 

Let it cook for a few seconds until the omelet is nice and toasty on the outside and fluffy on the inside. 

If the green chilies are too spicy for your palette- you can add green bell peppers. The key is to make sure the chilies/peppers and fennel seeds are nicely toasted before adding the eggs. 




The little guy as always has taught me an important life lesson - never fear the unknown. You never known what sort of surprises are lurking underneath the veil of fear that we all insist of wearing. Take out the veil and have a bold look at the world out there. While you are at it, try a chili or two with some fennel seeds.



Linked to .belleaukitchen. at eggcellent-

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Green eggs and Spinach

There is something magical about space. We all need it. We need space in a relationship, living space and in general no one likes the feeling of being congested. Having your own little space brings in a sense of solitude, peace and serenity.  Sometimes it may not be a tangible space; it may be something as intangible as being lost in your own thoughts. There are times when I escape from my day and sneak back in to the house when no one is around to experience the sound of silence; the kind of intangible space for myself. 

There were times when I felt like I was following the crowd and being a part of the crowd because that was what was expected of me. Not to say that I dislike being among people, but sometimes it’s necessary to step away from the crowd and collect my own thoughts.

I was told at times that I am wasting my time sitting in solitude, I beg to defer. I am constantly running around, and it’s imperative that I sit still for some time and ponder over my thoughts. I was afraid if I didn’t I might lose it completely my marbles and all. I needed that space for myself to ponder. Often the thoughts that cross my mind during these periods of solitude are quite dreamy and irrespective of them turning in to realities, I believe one should always find the time and space for dreamy thoughts.

I thought of this dish during one of those dreamy moments. The creamy spinach sauce with bold spicy fried eggs reminds of how every ingredient in this dish has its own culinary space, yet they all come together in a dreamy way making this totally irresistible.

Ingredients:

4-5 cups of loosely packed spinach 

1 cup of coconut milk 

1 cup of water

1 medium sized red onion, peeled and cut in chunks or two small red onions

2 cloves of garlic 

2 green chilies

6 boiled eggs 

Spices

1 tsp of cumin seeds 

1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper

1 tbsp of coriander powder

2 tsp of turmeric (1 tsp for spinach mix and one tsp for frying the boiled eggs)

salt 

and 2 tsp of ghee or 1 tbsp of olive oil. Ghee is nothing but clarified butter and adds a layer of richness to the dish, you can substitute it with olive oil and the dish is still irresistible.  


To begin with bring the water to boil and add the 6 eggs and let them boil. 

While the eggs are boiling, in a food processor or a blender: add the spinach, onion, green chilies, garlic and the coconut milk/water and blend it to a smooth paste.


Heat a pan with either the oil or ghee; add the cumin seeds and turmeric. 
Let the seeds and turmeric roast for 3-4 seconds and then add the blended spinach mix.
Add the coriander powder and salt, stir it and let it boil. 



After 3-4 minutes, little pockets of bubbles start forming and let it boil for good 7-8 minutes after that. Once the mix starts to thicken (you can see some of the spinach mix sticking to the side of the pan), turn off the heat. 



Now, the eggs should have been boiled. Peel the eggs and fry them in a pan with 1 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp of oil or ghee. 



Let the eggs roast in the hot oil and turmeric for a minute, until they are crispy on the outside. 



Now, add the fried eggs along with the leftover oil/turmeric in to the cooked spinach mix and stir it well. 



The dish is done!





Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Broccoli and Potatoes in spicy Coconut Milk


We all come in to this world with our own baggage and destiny. May be the series of events which we call life are all predetermined and we just play it along. We may have no control over what is meant to happen, but we do have control over how we react to what is happening right now. We do have the ability to believe in our selves and work hard towards what we want to achieve. May be all the hard word, blood, sweat and tears will change our destiny. May be with faith in our selves and our abilities we can re write our destiny. I like to believe it can be done.

Just like life, food has its own destiny. Some ingredients are destined to be together. They have to wait patiently until they are brought together through some sort of culinary karma. It was one of those weekend mornings when I woke up feeling like contributing to some culinary karma.

Broccoli and potatoes are like the match made in heaven, add to it some spice and coconut milk, you will end up with the best tasting karmic experience of your life.


2 cups of Broccoli - steamed

1 cup of peeled, boiled and cubed potatoes

1 tsp of grated ginger

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp of cumin powder

1 tsp of coriander powder

1 tsp of red chili flakes

1 cup of coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water

salt



Heat a pan with about a tsp of olive oil.

When the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic.

Next, add the Potatoes and Broccoli.

Let them cook for a minute, add the spices - Black pepper, Cumin and coriander powder.

Stir it together and add the coconut milk and water.

Cover the pan and let it come to a boil - about 4-5 minutes.

Add the salt and chili flakes.





The dish is simple, yet is bursting with flavors that make you happy inside out.


Linked to Extra veg at fussfreeflavours and utterlyscrummy


















Monday, February 23, 2015

Orange Pancakes with Turmeric

As a parent I used to be very predictable. I went about the day; following the mundane chores which revolved around making sure he is well fed and taken care. The taken care of part was the text book example sorts; making sure he does not end up with broken bones/arms or hurt himself in any shape or form. 

One day I realized, I need to snap of out this. I have to enjoy my role as a parent and not just be his safety net (there is nothing wrong with it, but I wanted more for us). If I enjoy being a parent, he will enjoy growing up with me. 



I decided to let go of myself and enjoy the "being parent" part rather than stress about it. I had no qualms about acting silly, going down the slide, getting dirty, playing in mud, not getting upset when he spilled the milk, make a mess with him, tell him funny stores - all the while being a parent. 

Many years later, one day we got home from what was a rather long day for me and he pops the question " Mama do you think when I grow up I will be a good parent?" I had no strength left in me to respond to that or even contemplate on why he is asking that question. I snapped and told him" How about you focus on being a good kid for now?".

He continued -"Mama you still remember what it's like to be a child and that's what makes you a great parent. I want to be like you". I felt all warm and fuzzy. 














One of the crazy things we do together is to cook. Cook without inhibitions (sometimes we do end up with not so edible outcomes), but the point is to teach him to never be afraid of taking a risk - be it life or food. 

We were going through a cold spell that lasted many cough syrups and nasal sprays. I came up with the idea of incorporating cold remedies like - orange juice, honey and Turmeric in to his favorite pancakes. 

When I proposed the idea to him - He declared I have lost it all together, but will give it a try. 
That's all the motivation I needed. 


2 Tablespoons of melted butter 

1 Egg 

1 tsp turmeric 

1 tsp vanilla essence 

1/3 cup Orange juice 

2 Table spoons sugar 

2 Table spoons Honey 

1/2 cup of All-purpose flour 




In a bowl melt the butter and whisk the egg and the melted butter together. 

To this add the sugar and whisk them together.

Then, add the Orange juice, honey, Vanilla essence and the Turmeric

Whisk them for about a minute or so. 

Slowly add the 1/2 cup of flour and whisk the mixture, until it's smooth and has the consistency of a pancake batter. 

Heat a pan or a griddle and make the pancakes. 

This makes around 6 medium sized pancakes. 

Serve them with a drizzle of honey on top. 






 The orange juice adds the tangy flavor which is complemented by the sweetness of honey and sugar, just like being a parent and acting silly at the same time. The Turmeric in this dish does not add to the taste. It makes its presence felt by adding a more yellowish tinge. But the fact that it is in there sort of reassures crazy me. He enjoyed them and I felt happy that I am feeding him healthy pancakes and curing his cold. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Coconut Milk Chocolate Mousse


The whole buzz around the V-day got me thinking. When does love really happen? It may happen at first sight, but the only love worth celebrating is the one which holds on to that first sight despite many sour sights. It happens when the "I" takes the place of "We", when my dream becomes our dream, when you think of making up in the middle of a nasty fight and when you eat chocolate. 

Regardless of the science behind pheromones and chocolates, they scream love to me. I have come across several recipes for a chocolate mousse with coconut milk. Thought the V-day was a perfect time to venture on this sweet culinary adventure. 




I had no coco powder in the pantry, so substituted with a caramel hot chocolate mix and it turned out finger licking awesome.


One  14 oz can of  frozen coconut milk. 
The key here is to use frozen coconut milk (not the lite one, go ahead indulge yourself, you won't regret it)

Freeze the can in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for about an hour. The cream will thicken on the top and that is all we need for the mousse. Store the water that settles in the bottom for some soup or sauce. 

One 1oz pack of hot chocolate mix - I used the caramel  flavor, any flavor would work I guess. If not, use coco powder about 1/4 cup. 



Transfer the frozen coconut cream on top, without any liquid in to a bowl. 

Using a hand blender, blend the cream for about a minute. 

Add the chocolate mix, fold it in to the cream and blend for another minute or two. 

Transfer the mousse to a bowl and refrigerate for an hour - The mousse tastes better after refrigeration. 

We ate our mousse with chopped walnuts and a drizzle of raw honey on top.

You can serve this with fresh or frozen berries.



The little guy once said, he loves me despite my flaws. I have to admit I do have quite a bit of them - the flaws. Never was and never will be perfect. 

This coconut milk chocolate mousse was a perfect way to celebrate the unconditional love in my life. Regardless of what you think of this red and pink holiday, always hug your loved ones and eat some chocolate.