Saturday, May 20, 2017

Lemony Linguine With Eggplant & Red Onions

Lemony Linguine & steamed carrots
Simple and delicious and spicy with a little green or red chile, Lemony Linguine makes a wonderful lunch, dinner or even as a starter. If eggplant is not your thing, use asparagus, zucchini or other favorite veggies and adjust cooking time accordingly as some veggies cook quicker than others. I used red onion to compliment the eggplant; any type may be used including scallions or leeks.

2 servings

Ingredients:

4 oz Linguine
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 hot green chile, minced OR 1 generous pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1 small Japanese/Italian/Chinese Eggplant, julienned
3 cloves Fresh Garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp EVOO
Salt & freshly ground Pepper
4 Tbsp Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 Lemon/Lime, zest and juice
2 Tbsp Pine nuts or Slivered Almonds, toasted

Method:

Heat a large skillet; add the oil and when oil is hot add all the veggies, with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low to medium heat until eggplant is tender. Stir to keep the veggies from sticking.

While the veggies are cooking, cook the linguine according to package directions until tender but firm. 

Drain but reserve about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the cooking water; and add the pasta to the veggies along with as much of the cooking liquid to keep everything moist.

Stir in the parsley, zest and juice of the lemon. Check for seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed.

Serve hot topped with the toasted nuts. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Simple Upma With Coconut (Quick Seasoned Cream of Wheat/Semolina Pilaf with Coconut)

Simple Upma With Coconut
Simple or Coconut Upma is a hearty South Indian dish one can cook up in a jiffy with cream of wheat or semolina. In the days of yore, when we didn't have access to telephones (not to mention cell phones, emails, fridge or freezer for that matter!) friends and family often dropped by to visit without prior notice and Upma was the was a mainstay at the de rigueur welcome tea! Most people of that era wouldn't dream of running to the nearest snack shop or samosa stand even if one were available for a few choice nibbles to offer with the tea as only homemade goodies would do! Cream of wheat or semolina as well as the other ingredients is/was a staple in pretty much every household and the quick-cooking upma was indeed a welcome fare for the host and visitor alike. Simple Upma is an everyday dish that can be dressed up with roasted cashews or peanuts for guests or special occasions!

Thatha loved upma that was quite soft to the point of being mushy, which we called kali-ma :). When on a visit we would often gleefully anticipate whether we'd get fluffy upma or Thatha's kali-ma! 

Typically, the green chiles are cut in circles and most diners usually pick them out and set aside like one would parsley. But too often, I have seen that people unfamiliar with Indian food do not know to pick off chiles or other whole spices and end up chewing on them; so I core and mince chiles and ginger finely so as not to cause an unpleasant suprise for anyone. If a spicy upma is preferred,  the chiles may be chopped without coring and/or adding more. Although this upma is good to go without any side dishes like pickles or chutneys, they may be offered if desired. For young children, a sprinkling of sugar on top may be offered.

Sooji or Rava is semolina, Indian cream of wheat. Any type of finely cracked grain can be used including regular cream of wheat making adjustments in the amounts of water needed and cooking times. I love to add more wholegrain where I can and add a little bulgar (#1 grade which is finely cracked). This is a great dish for Vrat (restricted diet or fasting) days as it does not contain the usual onions or garlic which are not included on these occasions.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp oil
½ tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Chana dal
1 Tbsp Urad dal
1 pinch Asafetida (Hing powder) (optinoal)
1 or 2 green Chile, cored and finely minced
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, finely minced or grated
1 sprig of fresh Curry leaves, finely sliced
1 tsp Salt or to taste
2 cups Water
3/4 cup Sooji (Rava or Cream of Wheat)
1/4 cup Bulgar 
2 Tbsp chopped Cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp toasted Cashew pieces (Optional)
½ cup finely grated Coconut (fresh/frozen) OR 1/4 cup Dried

Method:

Heat about 3 cups of  water and keep hot.

Heat the oil and ghee in a 2-3 quart pot or an Indian wok (Kadai).

Add mustard seeds, Chana dal and Urad dal when the oil is hot and cover with a lid to keep the mustard seeds from escaping while they pop; lower the heat when the mustard begins to pop.

When the mustard seeds finish popping, add the asafoetida quickly if using along with the ginger, green chili, curry leaves and the salt; cook over medium heat until green chiles soften, about a minute or two.

Pour the cream or wheat/semolina into the pan and cook stirring constantly over medium heat until they are coated with the oil, about 2-3 minutes. 

Reduce heat to low, and add 2 cups of the hot water carefully while stirring constantly - hot water may spatter at first when hitting the hot pan. Mix well, cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally to keep from sticking or burning. Drizzle a little more of the water as needed for the consistency you'd like.

 Stir in the coconut and turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the cilantro leaves and serve hot garnished with the cashews/peanuts. This upma is typically offered on its own with a cup of tea, coffee, or lemonade; feel free to offer your favorite accompaniments.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Masala Poha (Spiced Beaten Rice Flakes With Veggies)

Pilaf-like Masala Poha is very similar to Aval/Poha Upma with Potatoes or Aloo/Bataata Poha; another tasty recipe utilizing aval/poha/rice flakes. Pretty colorful, quick and nutritious, it can be served at lunch, teatime, or dinner. Masala Poha can also be part of a party menu or potluck contribution as it is a great make-ahead recipe. I often make it for our weekend/holiday brunch. Thick aval/poha is best for making this dish (thin is a bit too brittle and crumbly but will work just the same if that's what's available - "bird" in hand and all that!).

Masala Poha (Spiced Rice Flakes with Veggies
With all the colorful and flavorful veggies, Masala Poha makes a filling and hearty fare. Other mild flavored veggies may be added/substituted according to the seasonal availability and your preference - about 2 cups total - not including onions and bell pepper.

Variation: If aval/poha is not available, use cooked rice instead of the soaked aval/poha. Cook 1 cup of rice according to package directions and cool completely before using; leftover plain cold rice will work well.

Essential Masala Poha ingredients 

Seasonings of mustard, dals, with onions, ginger, green chile

Seasoned onion mixture with cooked veggies

Soaked Aval/Poha with seasoned veggies

About 4 Servings


Ingredients:

1 Cup dry Thick Aval/poha (Rice Flakes)
2 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Chana Dal
2 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 pinch Asafoetida
1 hot Green Chile (Thai or Serrano)
1 stem Fresh Curry Leaves
1 small Onion
1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, finely minced
1/2 cup finely chopped Bell Peppers/Capsicums (use all the colors)
Salt to taste
1 small Potato
1 small Sweet Potato
1 small Carrot
1/2 Cup Green Peas, fresh or frozen
1 tsp Garam Masala
Juice from 1 Lime/1/2 Lemon
4 Tbsp Cilantro/Coriander/Dhania Leaves
Roasted Cashews or Peanuts for serving
A few whole cilantro leaves for garnish

Method:

Place the aval in a bowl and add plenty of water; pour off all the 'floaters' - bits of husk. Drain well and add 1/2 cup of fresh water with 1/2 tsp of salt dissolved in it and let soak while you prepare the rest.

Wash all the fresh veggies well and drain.

Cut the potatoes and carrots into 1/4" cubes - about the size of peas; cook them until just tender using the microwave, pressure cooker or in a small pan. Set aside. (Alternately, they may also be cooked directly in the pan after cooking the onions.)

Cut the hot green chilies in half and remove the seeds and the whitish membranes with a teaspoon and discard if you want a mild dish; leave the core in if you like it spicy. Mince the chilies finely.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or seasoned kadai (Indian wok) and add the mustard seeds.

When the mustard seeds finish popping, add chana and urad dal; let the dals cook to a pinkish  golden color.

Immediately stir in asafetida, curry leaves, green chilies, ginger, and onions with a couple of pinches of salt and turmeric.

Cook stirring until onions are translucent. (Stir in carrots and potatoes at this time - if they are not precooked - with a little salt and cook until they are tender.)

Tip the capsicums/bell pepper into the onions mixture and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the peas if using fresh, and cook for about a couple of minutes. If using frozen, stir them in and then the aval.

Add the soaked aval with the Garam Masla if using and stir gently but thoroughly to mix well.

Cover and cook over low heat until hot stirring occasionally, about 5 mipeasnutes.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with the lime juice and cilantro; mix well.

Top with the nuts and garnish with the whole cilantro leaves and serve hot, warm or at room temperature by itself or with your favorite chutneys, Indian pickles, or a raita.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mushroom Carpaccio - Two Ways! (Chive-Lemon OR Tomato-Basil)

Quick & simple Mushroom Carpaccio may be made two or more ways; they are similar in that both start out with sliced mushrooms; one is simply dressed with a lemon-garlic dressing the other with a more complex tomato-balsamic-basil dressing. These make excellent starters, side dishes or potluck contributions. 

I  Mushroom Carpaccio With Garlic, Lemon & Chives

Ingredients:

8 oz. Large Brown or White Mushrooms
1 small clove Garlic, peeled and mashed
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 - 1 Lemon, juiced
Kosher Salt & Pepper
4 Tbsp Fresh Chives, chopped

Method:

Combine the oil, garlic, 1/2 the lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Wash and dry mushrooms. Trim the stems as needed and thinly slice.

Arrange the mushroom slices on a platter or on individual plates. Drizzle the dressing evenly over them. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Taste one piece of the marinated mushrooms. Sprinkle a little more lemon, extra salt or pepper as needed.

Scatter the chives over the mushrooms and serve. Enjoy!

II Mushroom Carpaccio With Tomatoes & Basil

This one may be prepared two ways: serve the tomato basil dressing on slices of mushrooms as given below or layer the mushrooms, tomato and basil and drizzle the dressing made from balsamic vinegar, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. 

Ingredients:

8 oz  Large Brown or White Mushrooms
1 Lemon, Juiced
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove fresh Garlic, mashed
2 Ripe Roma Tomatoes, finely diced
Kosher Salt & Pepper
1 Small bunch Fresh Basil
Fresh Chives, for garnishing

Method:

Combine the tomatoes, 1 Tbsp of the oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and salt.  Use a pepper grinder to add freshly ground pepper. Mix well. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Wash and dry mushrooms. Trim the ends of stems and thinly slice.

Lightly brush a large platter with lemon juice. Arrange the mushroom slices on the platter and brush more of the lemon juice over them evenly. If making ahead, prepare upto this step and assemble the carpaccio a few minutes (not more than 30 minutes) before serving.

Spoon the dressing attractively and evenly over the mushroom slices. Drizzle the rest of the oil evenly over the veggies.

Decorate with the chives and serve. Enjoy!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Roasted Pumpkin Bisque (Simple & Delicious Creamy Pumpkin Soup)

A super simple and delicious creamy soup based on Peruvian pumpkin soup we enjoyed. Sadly we don't get the same kind of pumpkin outside of Peru; but there are other flavorful ones we can use! Although my favorites are butternut or kabocha, I have used various pumpkins and winter squashes with delicious results; Buttercup, Castilla, Banana squash or any other sweet flavorful pumpkin or pumpkin-like veggie will work well.

Note: Do include a little red pepper (cayenne) to enhance the sweetness of the pumpkin.
If you are toasting the seeds yourself, saute them in a little olive oil and add a pinch or two of thyme, red pepper and a little sprinkle of salt towards the end for a flavorful treat! Croutons are a delicious option for topping the soup.

6 - 8 Servings

About 3 lbs Pumpkin (see suggestions above)
1 Medium Orange fleshed Sweet Potato (aka yam)
1 Tbsp Oil + a little for roasting
1 small Red Onion, diced
1 tsp Sea Salt
1-2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Turmeric
3-4 sprigs fresh Thyme or 1 tsp Dry
1 pinch freshly grated Nutmeg
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Red Chile powder (cayenne)
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
1 cup Coconut Milk (optional)
6 - 7 cups boiling Water
4 Tbsp Coconut Milk OR Coconut Cream for Garnishing
4 Tbsp Toasted Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel and cut the pumpkin or squash and sweet potato into 1/2" cubes.

Place the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic in a lightly oiled pan with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil over the veggies and stir to coat. Sprinkle the turmeric and thyme over the veggies. Roast until the veggies are tender and begin to caramelize a little, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Puree the the roasted veggies with the nutmeg, cayenne, and coconut milk using a food processor, traditional or an immersion blender; pureeing may need to be done in batches if using a regular blender. If using a blender, some of the boiling water may be needed to process.

Pour the puree into a large soup pot with more of the boiling water a little at a time to get the right consistency without making the soup too thin. Warm the soup gently and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes.

The soup should be thick and creamy; but if it looks too thick, add a small ladle or two of boiling water but not too much.

Check the seasonings, add salt and a few grinds of black pepper if needed.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with a little swirl of coconut milk/cream and the toasted seeds.

Enjoy! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Warm Noodles & Veggie Salad With Sriracha Tofu & Garlic-Ginger Dressing (Asian Style)

Warm Noodle & Vegetable Salad is very versatile; it is easy to prepare ahead and makes a fabulous main meal for busy days or potlucks. Colorful, tasty and filling, everyone loves it, me included!

If you want to avoid too much soy in the diet, use panfried Burmese Tofu. Tofu, nuts/seeds, noodles, and the abundance of assorted veggies make for a very satisfying meal. Use a combination or a single type of nuts or seeds.

All the ingredients can be prepared ahead including the dressing and kept separately; mix when ready to serve. Although I prefer freshly cooked and cooled pasta, it can be precooked also and brought to room temperature by removing from the fridge about 30-45 minutes before serving before mixing.

Notes: Do include Napa Cabbage; it adds a lacy look and lots of crunch! Other veggies like kale, leeks, baby bok choi, Edamame (young green soy beans), broccoli, as well as finely sliced or coarsely shredded turnips, sugar-snaps or snow pea pods etc. make great additions also.

Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 large Carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small Daikon radish, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small Red Onion, thinly slivered
1 tsp Oil
1 Pinch Sea Salt
1-2 Persian type Cucumbers, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 small Red Cabbage, sliced thinly
1/2 small Napa/Green Cabbage, sliced thinly
1 small Romaine Lettuce heart, thinly sliced
1 bunch Green Onions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 bunch fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped
8 oz Cappellini (Angel Hair Pasta) OR Spaghetti
1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges to serve

Sriracha Tofu or Roasted Tofu with only the following spices/condiments
1 block firm Tofu (14-16 oz)
1 pinch Turmeric
1 generous pinch Salt
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

Topping:
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
2 Tbsp Slivered Almonds
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Peanuts/Cashews, coarsely chopped

Dressing:
1/2" knob of fresh Ginger, chopped
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp firmly packed Jaggery, Coconut sugar, OR Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 Tbsp Asian Toasted Sesame Oil

Method:

Make the Dressing:  Place ginger, garlic, brown sugar, black pepper, rice vinegar and soy sauce in the carafe of a blender; process until smooth. Pour into a clean jar, add a spoonful of water into the carafe to gather every bit of the ginger and garlic and add to the jar along with the rest of the ingredients - the oils. Shake well to mix and taste. Adjust soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and pepper. Cover tightly with a lid and store in the fridge until needed.

Prepare sriracha or Roasted Tofu. If making sauteed tofu, drain the tofu well, wrap in paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible, then cut into cubes or batons. Heat a skillet, add a spoonful of oil just to coat the bottom of the skillet, add tofu pieces with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes, turn each piece to an uncooked side, and repeat so all the the sides are slightly golden - a couple of minutes per side over medium heat. Stir together a tablespoon of soy sauce and sriracha sauce and drizzle over the tofu, continue to cook tossing to coat all the pieces evenly. If made ahead, cool and chill. Warm in a skillet or in the microwave.

Make the Salad: Wash all the veggies well and prepare them as directed; some are sliced, some are cubed, etc. Keep the radish and carrots separate. Place the rest of the veggies in the bowl and mix well. If made ahead, the veggies may be chilled until needed.

Toast the nuts/seeds for Topping: Toast all the seeds/nuts individually using a dry skillet (no oils). As each one is done pour onto a large plate to cool. Add the roasted cashews and peanuts. cover and keep at room temp until needed.

Cook the Pasta/noodles: Boil some water with a little salt, add pasta and cook according to manufactures' directions. Drain. Add a teaspoon of oil and mix well so the pasta does not stick or clump.

Assembly

Heat a large wok, skillet or pot with the oil; stir in onion, carrots and daikon with a pinch of salt and cook until warmed through - about 1 minute or so.

Tip the pasta into the warm veggies, and turn to coat with the oil and mix well. Turn off the heat.

Add the rest of the prepared veggies along with half of the dressing and toss well. Taste and add more dressing, salt & pepper etc as needed.

Divide into large shallow bowls and top with a few tofu pieces and some of the toasted nuts/seeds.

Serve immediately.  Pass the lime wedges and extra dressing to drizzle as desired.

Eat! Enjoy!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Simple Kadapa (Dal & Veggie Stew With Coconut)

Kadapa With Idlis
Kadapa is a very tasty and flavorful saucy korma type of stew to accompany Idli and Dosa instead of the usual Sambar! It is very similar to Poricha Kuzhambu or Molagutal. Kadapa is delicious with roti/pooris as well as served over cooked grains. Coconut, fennel seeds, and lime juice add a lovely flavor to the stew.

NOTE: If grinding coconut is not an option, use 1 cup of coconut milk instead of the fresh/frozen/dry. If you prefer, onions and garlic may be omitted. Cumin seeds may be used instead of the fennel.

4-6 Servings

Ingredients:

Grind together:
1/2 cup fresh/frozen Coconut (1/3 cup dried)
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 Green Chile, Serrano type
4 - 5 Raw Cashew nuts or a small handful of cashew pieces
1/2 tsp uncooked rice OR roasted Gram Dal (Pottu kadalai)

For the Stew:

1/4 to 1/3 cup dry yellow Moong Dal
1 cup Cooked dried Whole Peas, Black-eyed Peas, OR Chickpeas (optional)

1 small Potato, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 handful Green Beans, diced 
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1-2 tsp Salt

1 T Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
4 - 6 Shallots OR 1 small Onion, peeled and sliced
2 Green Chiles, sliced 
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1-2 cloves, Garlic, peeled and minced
1-2 stems Fresh Curry leaves, sliced fine
1-2 Tomatoes, diced

1 Lime/Lemon, juiced

Method:

Rinse and cook the dal in enough water to cover until soft; pressure cooking speeds this process.

Grind together the coconut and rest of the ingredients into a smooth paste using a small amount of water. Set aside until needed.

Add the prepared potato and carrots along with turmeric and salt to the dal and cook over low to medium heat until just tender, about 8 - 10 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, heat a small pan and add oil. Stir in mustard seeds and cover until they finish popping.

Stir in asafetida, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and onion; stir and cook until onions soften.

Tip the tomatoes into the onion mixture and cook until soft.

Pour the ground coconut mixture into the dal and veggies; use a small amount of water to collect all of the ground spices and add to the pot.

Add the cooked whole beans/peas, green beans, and the tomato mixture to the dal and veggies. Bring to a boil and cook until green beans are tender - a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, stir in the lime/lemon juice to taste. Correct for salt as needed.

Serve hot with Idli, Dosa, etc. Enjoy!