Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Southwest Black Bean Panini

March 31st 2010

Making a burger patty from scratch is not a bad idea but time consuming I bet. So one of these weekday nights when you want to make a quick meal, our friend Ms. Panini Maker comes in so handy. This burger is extremely good and very filling and we absolutely love it. This can make for a great lunch box sandwich too. Try it and see.

Difficulty level : Easy

Time:  20 min 

  • Morningstar Southwest Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers ( I get mine from Costco)
  • Oroweat Oat N Nut bread ( 2 per burger)
  • Cheese slices ( 1 per burger- can be american, pepper jack or your pick)
  • Onions ( sliced in circles or squares or rectangles, I don't really care) 
  • Tomatoes slices ( 2 per burger)
  • Oil ( to brush the bread slices)
Method de Preparation
  1. Cook patties in the oven as per instruction, flipping them over halfway so each side is done evenly.
  2. Lightly spread oil on both sides of each bread slice, just a bit.
  3. To assemble each burger, stack bread, onion and tomato, patty and cheese and the other bread slice.
  4. And put in the panini maker, do your 2 times tables till 16 and you are done :)
  5. Take out and serve with ketchup or just plain. 
  6. Chips and Coke on the side would be nice, so if you plan ahead, get them too!
Variations:   You can skip the onions and the tomatoes and just do cheese+patty and you will still love it. If you like your burgers creamy, add mayo on one side of the bread. You can use any bread but the Oat N Nut has a crunchy texture to it that blends well.

Kamla Kheer ( Orange Pudding)

March 31st 2010

So this is not kheer that is made in Kamala's house or the one Kamala brings. I thought its name originated from the "Kamala oranges" that you get in India. However "Kamal" I think means orange in Bengali and "Kheer" of course is pudding. I learnt this recipe from my Bengali ex-roommate and have loved it always. It is an extremely refreshing drink that is quite easy to make. I have been seeing beautiful oranges and tangerines everywhere now and looks like the time is right for this recipe. 

Difficulty level : Easy

Time:  20 min 

  • Navel Oranges ( 3 nos)
  • 2% milk ( 3/4 gallon)
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • sugar (to taste)
Method de Preparation
  1. Heat the milk in a pan till hot.
  2. Add the sugar and condensed milk and heat some more till well mixed. The milk with thin out  a bit once you add the sugar. Just heat till it all comes together well.
  3. While the milk is heating, peel the oranges. If you are picky and don't like their skin then take out only the inside pulp.
  4. The beauty of the kheer is in biting into the fresh orange pieces, so I definitely recommend chopping at least 1 1/2 oranges into small pieces.
  5. Beat the rest in a blender and extract orange juice.
  6. Once the milk has cooled, add the juice in and also the orange pieces.
  7. Cool in refrigerator and serve chilled.
Chef's Tip:   This is not a thick kheer. It is thinner than a milkshake. You could use full fat milk but 2% works well. 

Variations:   You can add saffron and elachi but i just like the simple flavor from the oranges and the milk, why complicate it?

Source:  Malabika Laha

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Roasted Baby Potatoes

March 18th 2010

For most vegetarian raised children, potato is a favorite for a long time. Especially the roasted portions that you literally lick out of the kadai, so your mother barely has to clean the vessel. This has not changed for me even though I am no longer a kid. And who can slight this vegetable that is such a good source of carbohydrates when eaten the right way.  This was made on the stove but I will be posting another recipe soon on Oven Roasted Potatoes too.  This is a very simple recipe but sometimes simple is best, no ?

Difficulty level : Easy

Time:  20 min ( Prep Time), 30 min ( Cooking Time)

  • Baby Potatoes  ( there are so many kinds, pick a firm variety)  - 1 small bag (~ about 10-12 nos)
  • oil (to fry)
  • mustard ( 1 tbsp)
  • urad dhal ( 1 tbsp)
  • chana dhal ( 1 tbsp)
  • curry powder ( 1 tbsp)
  • sambar powder ( 1 tbsp)
  • chilly powder ( 1/2 tsp - optional)
  • salt to taste
Method de Preparation
  1. Cook the baby potatoes with their skin in a pressure cooker for a couple of whistles. Don't overcook or the potatoes will break open. It is not a big deal if a few do break open, we can work with them, don't shun the poor ones.
  2. When cool, peel and keep aside. If you have the time, peeling and refrigerating for a few hours is great, b'cos it makes the potatoes firm.
  3. Take oil in a Kadai ( if you have one), else any pan. When it is heated, add the mustard and allow to splutter.
  4. When it splutters, add the urad and chana dhal and when browned, slowly slide in the peeled potatoes. If some are not so baby sized, cut them in two.
  5. And now using a ladle spread the oil so all the potatoes have some smeared on them. 
  6. In a couple of minutes, throw in all the powders and mix well. Don't use the ladle too much so the potatoes don't break. If you are strong enough lift the kadai and shake it a couple of times. That should mix it up.
  7.  Keep on low heat and allow to roast and roast and roast.
  8. When satisfied or when you can no longer hold you pee, please turn off gas and relieve.
  9. And they are done for you to enjoy!
  10. Serve with Sambar Rice or Bisibele bath or just eat them as you read a book!
Chef's Tip:   Best eaten hot. If you use a kadai, don't forget to give the roasted portions left/sticking in them to the littles ones to finish off ( of course after the kadai cools!).

Variations:   None, would you dare alter my recipe ??

Note:  All the powders I mention here are home-made by Amma, and I know a lot of pepole  have their own versions of these, so use your Amma's  and they'll work well. If you don't have them, they are available in the Indian store too, so you can use that. May taste different but hey, at least until I post the recipe for those someday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


March 16th 2010

This is a very easy dessert to make and is a popular Maharashtrian dessert. It can be enjoyed plain as a dessert or with puris or parathas. Again it can be made in its simple form or flavored with Mango pulp or as a fruit shrikand. The options are many. The only paraphernalia you need are a cloth (either Muslin cloth or Thorthu) for straining and a hand blender.

Difficulty level : Easy

Time:  12 hrs ( Prep Time), 15 min ( Cooking Time)

  • Store bought non-flavored yogurt or homemade (1 tub - 32 oz), you can use low fat or whole fat- that would be a personal preference. 
  • sugar ( to taste) - about 1/2 cup approx.
  • pistachios, almonds ( soaked in water for a few hours)
  • saffron ( a couple of threads)
Method de Preparation
  1. Tie yogurt in muslin cloth and allow to strain/drain overnight.
  2. Soak nuts in water for a few hours before making this.
  3. The next day the yogurt will not have any water left and will be in a thick form, like paneer almost.
  4. Take the yogurt out into a bowl, add the sugar and saffron and blend with a hand blender till mixed well.
  5. Taste a little bit ( do not eat spoonfuls) to see if you need more sugar.
  6. Add the chopped nuts and mix with a spoon. Save some for decoration if you like.
  7. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve.
Chef's Tip:  After straining, the yogurt quantity reduces in about half, so start out with double of what you will need in the end.

Variations:   Add mango pulp to make mango shrikand, or add chopped fruits to make fruit shrikand, add pineapple for pineapple get the picture right?

Dhansak Masala Dal

March 16th 2010

I never thought the day would come when I would learn a recipe from my friend Sau. Especially when his cooking skills involved putting the dal to cook in the cooker and the frozen vegetable packet into the pan and then walking across to our house to spend the next 20 min. He would go back to check when I reminded him that he actually had something cooking in there, sigh..I do miss those days. He is known to make a mean mutton biriyani, and his famous paneer..we'll I'll save that for another post. Anyway, it was from him that I learn that there is a masala called Dhansak Masala. It is used a lot for marinating meat and such but can be used with vegetables too. Quite an easy recipe and a different dal for those evenings when you are looking for something simple yet new to the palate.

Difficulty level : Easy

Time: 20 min ( Prep Time), 15 min ( Cooking Time)

  • Toor dhal ( 1/2 cup) cooked in the pressure cooker with water in the ratio 1:3
  • Ginger ( 1 inch long)
  • Garlic ( few pods)
  • green chillies ( slit in halves) - 3 nos
  • Mustard - 2 tsps
  • Jeera - 2 tsps
  • turmeric powder - a pinch
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Onion chopped finely - 1 nos
  • Tomatoes chopped finely - 2 small nos
  • Dhansak masala ( freshly prepared or store bought) 1 tbsp approx. [ I used the store bought one and it was quite good]
  • Cilantro ( for garnishing)
  • Lime squeeze ( optional)
Method de Preparation
  1. Cook toor dal well in pressure cooker, and keep aside.
  2. Take oil in a pan, when heated, add mustard and allow to splutter.
  3. Add jeera and the ginger, garlic (finely chopped or grated) and green chilly.
  4. When fried, add the onions and saute.
  5. When it turns soft, add the tomatoes and cook.
  6. Add turmeric, salt and dhansak masala.
  7. Saute for a couple of min, and add the cooked dal.
  8. Before mixing dal, mix it well by stirring with a ladle.
  9. Allow everything to come together and boil.
  10. Turn off and then season with chopped cilantro.
  11. Can squeeze a bit of lime after it cools some (optional).
  12. Serve with rice or rotis.
Chef's Tip:  It is good to add the required quantity of water when you cook the dal in the pressure cooker and not adding it outside. The consistency is much different. If you find the 1:3 is thick for you, add how much ever you require while you cook it and not after. 

Variations:  You could add chopped capsicum and/or potatoes as other veggies. Also you could make this a sabzi without the dhal, just adding any other veggies/meat you like.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Chai (Indian Tea)

March 15th 2010

Chai is something I began drinking lots more of after my years at Pilani. I still prefer coffee in the mornings, but on weekend afternoons, I love sipping this and reading a book (not been happening lately). I hate to make this for just one person, so my recipe is also for a couple.  Recently the best tea I have had is at the Cedars restaurant in Seattle. Don't miss it for anything in the world.

Difficulty level : Easy

Time: 15 min 

  • milk (2 medium size glasses) { Use can use full 2% milk for thick and creamy tea, if you want slightly stronger tea..use 3/4 th milk and 1/4 th water)
  • tea powder ( 3 tsps) - really depends on how strong you like your chai
  • cardamom (1 )
  • clove (2)
  • ginger ( 1 inch long)
  • sugar ( per taste)
Method de Preparation
  1. In a saucepan add the water first and add the spices and tea powder and allow to heat for a little while.
  2. Add the milk soon after and allow everything to heat well.
  3. When milk is boiling, grate the ginger in and turn off gas.
  4. Pour in 2 glasses using a strainer to drain out all the spices and tea powder.
  5. Add sugar per taste and sip sip sip. If you can, say 'Wah Taj!' while at it :)
Chef's Tip:  Some people prefer their tea without the ginger. Another option is to use a store bought tea masala if you don't want to use the fresh spices.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pasta Casserole

March 10th 2010

This is extremely quick to make and great for finishing off leftovers both in the fridge and in the pantry. As long as you have some cheese and pasta sauce at home you are good :) Or  of course, you could make your own sauce too.

Difficulty level : Easy

Time: 10 min ( Prep Time), 15-20 min ( Bake Time)

  • Pasta (pre- prepared/ leftovers) or Cooked pasta ( cook as per instructions on the packet). Better to use small pasta ( rotini, penne, farfalle, elbow etc. ) instead of the string kinds.
  • Pasta sauce (only if using cooked pasta) -options include marinara, pesto, even Alfredo if you can take all that cheese and creaminess :)
  • Any vegetables ( optional)- only if using cooked pasta
  • Cheese ( Parmesan, Mozzarella - shredded)
  • Any spices you might have ( basil, thyme, oregano) a pinch of each
  • olive oil ( to grease)
Method de Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 or 375 F.
  2. Take a baking pan based on the amount of pasta you have, either a 9 x 13 or smaller.
  3. Grease with a little olive oil.
  4.  Can saute lightly whatever vegetables you like ( onion, garlic, bell pepper, black olives, mushrooms etc) in olive oil and add to the sauce if you are using cooked pasta. Stuff that you need to clear from the refrigerator also works! [optional]
  5. Layer with pasta, sauce, cheese and repeat. If you are using leftover pasta then skip the sauce and just layer with pasta and cheese.
  6. Sprinkle the spices in between layers or add to the vegetables while sauteing.
  7. Cover with an aluminum foil  and bake for about 15-20 min. Take off the aluminum foil and bake at 425 F for the last 10 min so the top takes on a a crusty and browned appearance.
  8. Oven temperature and times can be varied to suit taste.
Chef's Tip:  You could cook a few different kinds of pasta and bake it all together (if you want to finish them off) as long as they are in the general same family and size. Just don't cook spaghetti and penne and expect them to meld, won't happen!



Monday, March 8, 2010

T for Thokku (Tomato Pickle/Chutney)

March 8th 2010

This recipe is the sole reason we want to plant tomatoes in our backyard this summer. This, and of course Rasam. This goes very well with chappatis, plain or curd (yogurt) rice, bread, naan, even Keebler crackers. Yeah, with just about anything.  I recently made a grilled cheese-thokku sandwich (recipe coming up soon) and like I said the possibilities are endless.

Difficulty level : Medium

Time: 30 min -1 hr ( depending on how many tomatoes you take)

  • Tomatoes ( 6-7 pounds) [ On the Vine is suited best, Romas work well too]
  • Oil ( ~ 1 cup or so I think)
  • salt (to taste)
  • chilly powder (1 tbsp)
  • asafoetida ( two pinches)
  • Roasted Fenugreek powder ( 1 tsp)
  • Tamarind Paste (~ 1 tsp)
  • Mustard (~ 2 tbsp)
Method de Preparation
  1. Take a little bit of oil ( about 3-4 tbsp) in a deep vessel and allow to heat.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes in them ( yes, all 7 pounds of them).
  3. Add the turmeric and a little bit of salt ( ~ 1 tsp) and then allow to cook.
  4. This is the long part. You need to allow all the water in the tomatoes to evaporate and get absorbed and this mixture will reduce to a thick paste like consistency. Takes a good 1/2  hour for tomatoes this quantity.
  5. Add oil (~ 1 tbsp)  a couple of times in between so the tomatoes show the oil glaze. Adding oil and sauteing in between gives a roasted taste to the tomatoes unlike the slightly raw taste that comes from adding the oil only at the end.
  6. While the tomates are condensing, dry roast some fenugreek seeds and grind into a powder. Can make more and store, it comes in handy and does not spoil easy.
  7. In another small pan, heat some oil ( about 1/2 cup) and add the mustard seeds. Allow it to splutter, add the asafoetida and turn off heat. When cooled some, add the chilly powder to this.
  8. When the tomatoes have reduced to about 1/8th or so of the original quantity, add a tsp of thick tamarind paste ( I prefer Laxmi brand that you get in any local Indian stores) and allow to condense some more.  
  9. Pour the oil with mustard used for seasoning over this paste and allow to cook well together.
  10. Add additional salt if required.
  11. When done, there should be some excess oil on the sides, if not the amount is insufficient and your thokku will spoil soon.
  12. Enjoy with rice, chappatis , plain or pita bread or just with your fingers :P
P.S.  6-7 pounds of tomatoes gives enough for a 32 oz container.

Chef's Tip:  You could just season in some oil - mustard, urad and chana dhal, curry leaves and some peanuts, add this paste, mix with some rice and you could have a version of tomato rice ready for lunch, in no time.

Variation:  You could use chopped tomatoes ( in cans), but the original tastes best as always!



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Food for the Gods

March 2nd 2010

From the instant I set my eyes on this, I had to try it out. So it was made this weekend. It truly is "Food for the Gods" but surely made by the devil. You will understand when you take a bite and taste the richness in each mouthful. Oh, yum yum! The recipe I am posting here is straight from the Pioneer Woman's page .

Warning: Do not bake a whole tray on Friday and discover a weekend later that it is all gone, I am not responsible! 

Prep Time: 20 min, Cook Time: 30 min

Difficulty Level : Easy

Servings: 16
  • 8 ounces, weight Pitted Dates, Chopped Coarsely (around 1 1/2 Cups)
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 4 whole Eggs At Room Temperature
  • ¾ cups Packed Brown Sugar
  • ¾ cups White Sugar
  • 1-½ cup Butter
  • 1-½ cup Walnuts, Chopped
  • 1 cup Pecans, Chopped (optional)
Method de Preparation
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter and let it cool. Take 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and brush your pan (one 9×13 pan or two 8×8 pans), making sure to grease the sides as well.
  3. Coarsely chop the pitted dates, walnuts, and pecans. Set them aside in a bowl. (If the dates you are using are too dry, you can soak them in a little bit of liquid. Make sure you drain them before mixing them in with the nuts.)
  4. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Mix butter and sugar until well incorporated.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  7. Add in the vanilla.
  8. Reserve ¼ cup of the flour mixture. Dredge the date and nut mixture with the reserved flour. Use more of the flour mixture if needed.
  9. Mix in the rest of the flour mixture with the wet ingredients. Do this gently, by hand, until just incorporated.
  10. Fold in dredged dates and nuts with the batter.
  11. Pour the batter (it will be very thick) onto the buttered pan(s).
  12. Bake for 30 or more minutes, until light golden brown. It can take up to 40 or so minutes to cook, so keep checking. The bars are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.
  13. Let cool, and cut into squares or bars. Traditionally, these are then individually wrapped and either stacked in a gift basket, or simply served on a platter.
  14. Store these in an airtight container. They will stay moist if wrapped tightly.
Chef's Tip: I just used my hand to blend the ingredients together, and I suspect that the texture is softer if you use a hand blender or mixer. I was just lazy. There are a lot of nuts in this recipe, if you don't want so many and prefer more cake then reduce the quantity.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Red Capsicum Thogayal ( Bell Pepper Chutney)

March 1st 2010

This can be done with any color bell pepper but red is the tastiest. It has a nice texture and taste to it that other ones don't match. The recipe for the thogayal (chutney or paste) is the same as for any kind. 

Difficulty level : Easy - Medium

Time: 30 min

  • Red bell pepper ( 2 nos)
  • Urad dhal ( 3-4 tbsp)
  • garlic ( 1-2 pods)
  • red chilly ( 3-4 nos)
  • salt to taste
  • tamarind paste ( 1- 1 1/2 tsp)
  • oil
Method de Preparation
  1. Take a little bit of oil in a pan and roast the urad dhal and the red chillies and keep aside.
  2. In the same pan, add a bit more oil and saute the chopped garlic and then the bell pepper till well cooked.
  3. Once both are cooled, blend the first mix first coarsely and then add on the second mix and the tamarind and blend till desired texture is reached. Some people like it a bit crunchy and not too mushy.
  4. Add salt to taste.
  5. Enjoy with rice, chappatis , plain or pita bread.
Variation: You could add some onions too and saute with the garlic and the bell pepper and grind.

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