Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Short Break!!!

Merry Christmas & A Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you all, my friends!
May the Christmas season fill your home with joy, your heart with love, and your life with laughter. As my gift to you, I hope you’ll enjoy this festive Christmas cookie tree! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Masala Biryani

Things have  been pretty hectic for me.  At work, being year end, I've got so busy!  And then in twice a week in the evenings, I have physiotherapy.  That's when this dish comes in handy. Read on, you'll know why I prefer biryani over any other dish when I am running low on time!

Biryani is something every South Asian family has a family recipe for!  And my family is not different. Mom's biryani recipe is different than mine! I try a few short cuts here and there.  In my family, both father and son love biryani from local Pakistani restaurant, I've come up with the recipe after having gone through a few websites. This one works the best as we all enjoy this biryani a lot.

Growing up, biryanis were made occasionally only. Mainly on birthdays and festivals like Christmas, Easter. Here in Canada, it has just become a habit to have biryani at least once a month, homemade or take-out! And this is so easy to make. I remember mom slaving on the hot stove to cook the chicken, parboil the rice and make layers! This one is nothing compared to that. Just cook chicken until almost done, at the same time, parboil the rice until almost cooked and sauté in lots of ghee and whole spices! Two layers! That's it. I call this biryani recipe a busy mom's gourmet dish!

Masala Biryani

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed into 2" pieces
1.5 cups Basmati rice
2 medium tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsps. Red chili powder
Salt to taste
2 Onions (thin slices)
3 tbs. Garlic (crushed)
2 tsp. Ginger (crushed)
8-10 green cardamoms
4 black cardamoms
6 cloves
10 black pepper
1" cinnamon stick
1 tsp. Cumin,whole
2 bay leaves
8-10 dried plum,chopped
Oil or ghee
6 green chilies
2 tbs. Coriander leaves,chopped
2 tbs. Mint leaves,chopped
few drops kewra essence
1 drop of Yellow food color
A small pinch saffron, soaked in warm milk

How to:
Heat the oil or ghee in a heavy based sauce pan and fry the onions for 5-10 minutes to a golden brown. Remove the onions from the oil and stir into lemon juice. Rub this all over chicken. Add garlic, ginger, salt, chili powder and whole spices and marinate for at least an hour.

Reheat the oil, add the marinated chicken. Fry for 5-10 minutes. Add tomatoes, lower the heat and cook the chicken. keep aside.

In the meantime, in another pan boil the rice with 2-3 tsp. of salt and plenty of water. when the rice is almost cooked, drain the water. Sauté rice with 1 tbsp ghee/butter with whole cinnamon, black cardamom, a bay leaf and green cardamoms.Keep aside.

In a large pot, place rice on the bottom. Mix the food color with a little water and sprinkle over the rice. Then a layer of cooked chicken, dried plums and coriander-mint leaves with some of green chili slices. Add saffron with milk and kewra essence over the rice. Do not stir.

Cover with aluminum foil and then the tight fitting lid and allow to cook for 20 minutes on a very low heat.

Garnish with more mint leaves and slivers of green chilis. Serve with raita.

I've noticed that a day old biryani tastes so much better than the freshly prepared biryani. But again, it's my preference.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tofu N Veggie Stir Fry

I know, I know, not everybody likes Tofu. I myself don't have a particular appetite for tofu. But every now and then, I like to use tofu in cooking just to get something different than usual. To most of us, tofu is intimidating! The thing is bland beyond imagination! And that's good. For all of us foodies out there, tofu is the best to cook with as we could use it as a blank canvas and paint any picture any which way we like!  None of us likes to follow the recipe, just get the idea and make it our own!  Tofu suits best to our whims!Tofu can nicely accommodate Indian spices as well, making it a very good substitute for paneer and chicken. And it is relatively cheap also. So friends, gear up for one easy recipe you would all like to try out. It is my easy tofu and veggie stir fry.

Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry
1 cup tofu, drained and cubed
1/2 cup each your choice of veggies(I used green pepper, asparagus, cabbage, red &orange peppers, snow peas, green onions, broccoli etc.)
Grated ginger and garlic to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
diced green chiles(hot!)
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce( I can never get tired of this stuff!)
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1.5 cup veggie stalk
1 tbsp corn starch
Oil as required

How to:
Spray tofu cubes with salt, pepper and oil. Put them on a baking sheet, in a 400° F oven until the tofu is light brown.
Heat oil in a wok. Sauté ginger, garlic and green chilies till fragrant.
Now throw all your veggies in and stir fry on medium high heat till cabbage is crisp tender.
Toss tofu and salt and pepper and mix well.
Make a slurry using sauces, stalk and corn starch.
Add to the stir fry and cook until the sauce thickens.
Serve with Jasmine rice.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


A cannelé is a small French pastry with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. The dessert, which is in the shape of small, striated cylinder approximately two inches in height, is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France but can often be found in Parisian patisseries as well. Made from egg, sugar, milk and flour flavored with rum and vanilla, the custard batter is baked in a mold, giving the canelé a caramelized crust and custard-like inside.

A little lesson on history! Legend has it that that cannelés were started during the landing of the boats of flour on the quays of Bordeaux. But more realistically, they would have been created and invented in the 18th century by the barbarians of the convent of Annonciades, in Bordeaux, today convent of the Mercy, under the name of canelas or camelions. Those first cannelas did not still look like canelés yet: they were small cakes of very thin dough rolled around a stick and fried.

The two most difficult steps are to be patient about letting the batter rest and to bake the cannelés at the right temperature or they can deflate rapidly.

The traditional baking method requires a special fluted copper mold, greased with beeswax (for us, butter!) for a golden outer crust and easy unmolding. Use of silicone molds, which are not authentic but they give results that are just as delicious. After baking, the tiny desserts will have a thick, caramelized crust and a tender custard center. The contrast is very nice, and they're wonderful right out of the oven.

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon rum

How to:
Bring the milk and butter to the boil together in a saucepan.
Stir the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Beat the egg and yolk together in a cup, then stir it into the flour mixture.
Next, add the hot milk mixture, whisking smooth. The batter should be thin and lump-free, like crêpe batter.
Stir in the vanilla and rum. Cover the batter and let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Pour the batter into a mini bundt pan.
Heat the oven to 450°F/230°C. Bake the cannelés 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F/180°C and continue baking until dark brown, 45 minutes to an hour. The cakes are meant to be quite dark on the outside. Unmould, and cool before serving.

This is my entry for Priya's AWED.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Me...Pumpkin Crazy!

What can I say?! Another pumpkin recipe. This is the easiest version of pumpkin soup you could ever find. Just because it's easy it's not that it's tasteless. This delicious soup is loaded with flavors thanks to the chicken stock! I made this when I was working from home last month and wasn't able to peel and chop onion and garlic. I was in the mood for a hot N steamy dish and this soup took no time to satisfy my craving. If I am not crunched for time, I would definitely go for sautéing my trusty sofrito but I won't give up making this soup for sure!

Now hold your breath just for 30 seconds! Why?! Because.... just take a look at the list of ingredients and the recipe for this tasty soup!

Boil half a cup of canned pumpkin, 1 cup chicken stock(adjust per thickness you want), salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste and voila! Enjoy the hearty soup with a dollop of sour cream on top!

Isn't it right, that the food tastes the best when it's kept at it's simplest?!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pumpkin Frappe

First of all, a quick update on my health!  It's surely hurting as hell!  Last night I went for massage therapy, not a relaxing massage you people!  The therapist focuses on my right shoulder, neck and right upper back.  She said that the connective tissues and tandon and too many soft tissues are preventing me from lifting my arm above my shoulder and is giving me this pain.  God willing everything will be better soon.  I missed to wish you all a very Happy Diwali as I was very tired that week. 

Well, back to the recipe.  What is Pumpkin Frappe anyways?!  It is Pumpkin Spice Blended Coffee!  Isn't is simple?!  This is the season of carving and roasting pumpkins here.  Kitchens are smelling great with toasting pumpkin seeds, baking pumpkin pies and what not.  We had our Thanksgiving 4 weeks ago!  yes, in Canada, cold weather starts earlier than the US so we have our thanksgiving ahead of you my American friends!  Even though I wasn't able to make anything, we decided on a traditional thanks giving menu: turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, gravy, stuffing----the whole nine yards!  The only difference was, most of the stuff were either boxed or frozen!  Storebought you see!  Still we had such nice Thanksgiving meal I will remember it for years to come.  Sorry I got side tracked again! That's me.

I am in love with pumpkins.  I always have a can of pureed pumpkin in my pantry.  And this is the recipe that is easy to blend, no chopping required(yay!) and it tastes amazing.  It is just enough to bring the mood of the festive season which is right in the corner to your house. 

Pumpkin Frappe


1/2 cup Pumpkin Puree
1/2 cup Vanilla Ice Cream
1 teaspoon of confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup of ice
1/2 cup of milk
1 tbsp instant coffee OR 1/4 cup of brewed coffee
1 pinch Cinnamon
1 pinch Nutmeg
How to:
Place all the ingredients into a blender.
Blend them together.
Pour contents into glasses.
Add a touch of nutmeg on top.
And zest of lemon!
You could add whipped cream if you like!
Serve immediately
This is my entry for Aipi's Virtual Party Beverages!  Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kabab Masala

Well friends, my right arm is hurting bad, real bad following yesterday's physio.  And 6 weeks that I've been working from home with my left hand has taken toll on my left wrist.  I have been experiencing burning pain in my left wrist.  But no matter what, I've got to post this recipe that is so close to my heart.

Growing up, I remember mom used to make this in India a lot.  Dad would bring storebought kababs and mom would prepare this delicious sauce and then dunk the kabab pieces in it.  We would have it with fried rice, papadums and onion-tomato raita! 

I can't really go through all of your blogs lately and I apologize for that as I am not able to leave any comments for all those posts with wonderful dishes.

This is a very versatile recipe. I've made it with different kababs, be it chicken, beef, tofu, paneer, beans. The sauce is the basic onion and tomato sauce with regular Indian spices. I make this sauce in batches, mostly once a month or so, and then keep a big container in the fridge and freeze the rest. That way, when I am running late from work, the sauce is ready for me and the only thing I have to do is cut up some chicken, paneer whatever I have on hand and throw in the sauce. I also use the same sauce for butter chicken. The only thing is, you need to strain the sauce so that you can get the smooth sauce for the dish.

1 can(740 ml) of pureed tomatoes
2 large onions, finely chopped
Ginger, garlic and green chilles paste to taste
Salt to taste
2 cinnamon sticks, 2 medium bay leaves, 4-5 cloves, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 big cardamom-everything whole
2-3 cardamom pods, deseed and powder the seeds
2 tbsp Kashmiri Paprika
1 tbsp roasted kasoori methi(dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp each cumin and coriander powder
1 cup oil

How to:
Heat oil in a sauce pot.
Add onions and the whole spices and fry till onions are golden brown.
Now add the rest of the ingredients and place the pot in 350° F oven, covered.
Cook the sauce for about 2 hours.
Keep stirring and add water if sauce sticks to the bottom of the pot.
Now your sauce is ready to use.

For kababs, you need to take mince meat, add salt, pepper, garam masala powder, grated onions, chopped mint leaves and little bit of gram flour(besan) to bind everything together. Make kabab rolls and either cook in the oven or grill them. They taste the best rolled up in hot naans with cilantro pesto and chopped onions and lettuce. The leftovers can be cooked in this masala to make a scrumptious dish that go very well with either pulav, rice or naans.


Monday, October 25, 2010

An Update & A Quick Chocolate Mousse

My poor hubby has been too busy taking care of his injured wife! This has been 8th week of my accident and I've been told by my physiotherapist that it will take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to get my right arm back to normal!  It has been so difficult for me to sit at home, doing nothing!  I am still doing left hand typing but now am able to type faster. And I came up with this dessert that can be made even with one hand! Yay!

So here it is, another quick and tasty dessert that is ready in minutes, only requires 2 ingredients(!) to make and is 100% capable to wow anyone!  I accidently came up with this sweet treat when I had no sweets or chocolates in my home and hubby needs something sweet after every supper.  To satisfy his sweet tooth, I was going through the ingredients I had on hand and found Hunt's chocolate pudding cups!  Now I didn't want to serve him just that!  It's not me!  I HAD to personalized the pudding cups!  I always keep the tub of Cool Whip Lite in my freezer as I love to have my strawberries with it and I also make the cool mixed fruit custard using Cool Whip.  So I pulled out the tub and let it thaw for a few minutes.  Then, per 2 cups of chocolate pudding, I used 1 cup of Cool Whip, lightly folded it in the pudding and Voila! my signature dessert is ready for us to devour!  And again, this has become Mark's another favorite.  Don't we love it when family loves the dish we make and complement us on it?! 

Since I am not allowed or able to use my right hand, can't chop anything.  I guess I've just thought of another delicious and easy recipe!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Had a little accident!

Hello friends

I am back from vacation.  While I was vacationing in Alaska, I tripped and bruised my right arm.  I was told that I have cracked my arm!  Funny isn't it?! Yesterday morning I went to the ER and got more good news!  I have 3 hairline fractures in my upper right arm!  Again, tomorrow morning I have a clinic appt to design the treatment plan and for sure, I am out of commission for 6-8 weeks! 

And yes, this one finger typing sucks!

So, see ya all soon!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cashew Chicken & Away - On A Vacation

My family absolutely love this dish. I serve it with jasmine rice. We like to eat out at the Chinese restaurants that serve Indian style Chinese. We have a few good restaurants here but the main problem while eating there, is the grease. They use so much oil in almost all their dishes and God knows if the use MSG, we always complain about getting thirsty and our throats have this lump sticking inside that is difficult to get rid of. Or at least it seems that way. So I try out different dishes at home. So far, I have made chili chicken, Manchurian, chow mein, spring rolls, hot n sour soup, and other easy stir fry dishes. I particularly like this dish as it doesn't call for the corn starch slurry. That's something else I can't have often. So, presenting Cashew chicken from my kitchen to yours!

Cashew Chicken
1 lb. chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
1 large onion,sliced
1/2 cup cashew
1/2 medium red pepper,cubed
1/4 cup each snow peas, green beans(blanched)
Ginger, garlic per taste
Sriracha sauce per taste
1 tbsp tomato paste

How to:
Brown chicken pieces in oil. Keep aside.
In the same oil, add ginger-garlic paste, sauté till fragrant.
Now add all the vegetables and cook till they are crisp tender.
Add chicken pieces to the vegetable mix and pour the sauce and tomato paste.
Adjust the seasoning with salt.
At the end, add cashews and toss well.

Hi friends

It's that time of the year! The much needed vacation awaits. Ciao and keep blogging! Will meet you all soon, right here

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Little Garden N Oregano Sauce & A Problem!

My little garden is in full bloom. Roses are so beautiful, so is the jasmine. Mint is not that good this time as oregano has taken over the space! A co-worker of mine gave me a few plants of raspberries early in the spring and looks like I will be enjoying the fruit this year! I wasn't really hoping for it. I usually dry my mint to use it later in the year but this year, since there is not much mint came out, I need to buy it from the store. And I absolutely have no idea what to do with all the oregano. I have 2 big bottles of dried stuff and in the past, I tried to dry oregano but it didn't work. It did get dried but the flavor was lost. So this year, I am not even thinking about it. I am using it in sauces, chickens-as much as I can. This sauce was just one of those recipes. It served as a very good dipping sauce for the grilled potato wedges and the grilled chicken. I also used it over usual potato and peas sandwich and it tasted so much better.

Oregano Sauce
1 cup loosely packed oregano leaves
1 tbsp mint leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
4-5 tbsp mayonnaise

How to:
Throw everything in the food processor and get yourself a good puree! You can add heat if you want, why not try minced jalapeno?!

Now let's talk about a problem that to me, seems so big.  I can't open Sanyukta, Aipi, Satya and so many other blogger friends' blogs.  My computer gets frozen or so many tabs get opened and that's it.....  I've tried to open up the blogs at work also. Not working...  Any suggestions???

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Independence Day & Tri Color Spread

I've seen so many beautiful tri-colored dishes on all blogs! Mind blowing. I decided to participate in this event by Akila. I haven't been to India in over 13 years! The first and the last time I'd been there with baby Mark was in 1997! That's it. Never got a chance to go back there as my sister moved to the US and my parents came to Canada first as visitors and then as permanent residents. I believe the most important factor of being and feeling an Indian is the love of food-multi layered, colorful Indian food. Love to see all the Indians out and celebrate Independence day and other holidays here in North America. I fondly remember my mom, making different sweets on Diwali, Sheer Korma on Id and cakes and other sweet and savory treats on Christmas. There in India, really Independence day didn't matter much! Only to go to school in the morning and do the salutation to the flag, come home and enjoy the rest of the day! It was only a simple day off for most of us. Well, things changed after I left India. Even though being a Canadian now myself, and having met with people with so many cultures around the world, I think of myself as a global citizen! But the Indian roots are still there. Can't deny it. The love of food, clothes, mehndi, gajra-everything is still alive after all these years! And that way, I've been trying to show Mark the heritage of India.

When I first read about the event, my mind was racing at jet speed. I wanted to make Indian food, Mexican food, Italian food-all with similar colors. The other day I was at the super market and I was checking out the vegetables, I saw the matching colored veggies and thought I could use these in so many dishes! Finally, I landed on cheese! That wasn't easy either. I thought about using a cream cheese. Stepped back,  not only that cheese. Again, thought about using sour cream, nope, not good. Then I saw the layered ice cream I made and the light bulb flashed! I thought, why not make a cheese spread. That's it. Everything got shaped up in my mind and here it is! My cheese spread with pestos. I just added the olive spread because I liked the color and it reminds me of the Ashok Chakra in the flag.

Tri Color Spread
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil)
6-8 large Kalamata Olives, finely chopped
thinly-sliced baguette bread

How to:
Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with clear plastic wrap.
In a food processor, combine cream cheese, goat cheese, garlic, oregano, and pepper; stir until well blended.
Spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture onto the bottom of prepared pan. Top with pesto, spreading evenly. Layer with another 1/3 of the cheese mixture.
Drain sun-dried tomatoes, reserving one tomato for garnish. Cut remaining sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces; spread evenly over cheese mixture in pan. Top with remaining cheese mixture.
Cover with plastic wrap and press gently to pack cheese. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Uncover and invert onto a serving plate.
Garnish with cut reserved tomatoes.
Serve with crackers or baguette bread.

NOTE: This can be made 5 days in advance and refrigerated , or it can be frozen up to 2 months.

This is my entry for Akila's CID event.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spring Rolls

Where the heck have I been?  Well, took a little break from blogging! This doesn't mean that I stopped cooking and making new dishes. So here's another one.
Spring rolls! As popular as pizza and much so universal. We love to have spring rolls any time, with any meal. You can say that my family is a sucker for spring rolls as much as we are for pizza! And you might thing of making spring rolls as a daunting task but seriously, it isn't! It's quite the opposite. Making spring rolls is just so easy with storebought sheets, coleslaw mix(!) and a few spices of your choice. I am not kidding! Don't believe me? Just read on!

Spring Rolls

12 sheets of storebought spring roll pastry, thawed, covered with a wet kitchen towel
2 cups coleslaw mix
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 green onions, white stalks only, julienned
1 green chili, julienned
1 tbsp ginger, grated
oil for frying
slurry of all purpose flour and water(equal parts)

How to:
Heat oil in a wok.
Saute ginger and green chili till fragrant.
Add coleslaw mix, green onion stalks, hot sauce, salt and pepper and stir till veggies are crisp tender.
Now add bean sprouts and take the wok off the heat.
Let it cool down completely.
Take one sheet, place about 2 tbsp of filling on the sheet, about 1" from the bottom side.
Now, roll from the bottom into a cylinder.
After a couple of rolls, start tucking in the sides and then keep on rolling tightly to form a log.
Make rolls using all the sheets.
Heat the oil in a sauce pot to 375 degrees. 
Fry the rolls till golden brown and enjoy with the sweet and sour plum sauce or even better, Maggie Chili Garlic sauce!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Achari Paneer Tikka Masala

Last night I grilled a lot of food, like chicken, veggies and paneer. We were stuffed with chicken, veggies and burgers! So I just stashed the paneer tikkas in the fridge. I was making eggplant bhartha for supper tonight and it just crossed my mind that why not use up that paneer? I didn't want to make the usual paneer butter masala etc. and since this one was already grilled and cooked, I had to quickly come up with something. And bingo! I saw the mixed pickle bottle! Achari paneer.... that's it! I quickly heated up the oil, added some of the masala from the pickle(not the oil), let it simmer for about 2 minutes or so and added paneer, pepper and onion pieces. I sprinkled some chaat masala powder at the end, right before serving. This was so delish!

Paneer and peppers were grilled with salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil. That's it. And who needs a recipe when we all know how to cook?! All we need is an idea and we can make any recipe our own! Am I right or what?!

And this is my entry for Jay's Paneer event.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sprouts Curry

My sister also is in love of sprouts! She uses different beans and makes this delicious dish that is finger licking good. Normally we have it with chapatis, but this one is good enough to eat spoonfuls. And look at those sprouts! Who even needs to cook them? Certainly I won't. I would just eat them up like that.

I mentioned to her about Priya's let's sprout event and she said she would love to participate in it. Since she doesn't have a blog, I was ready to provide her a platform, my blog.

This is so good, even her 2-year old jumps to eat this dish!

Mixed sprout curry
1/2 cup each of sprouted green gram, black chick peas, green peas
1/4 cup sprouted fenugreek
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup oil
Ginger-garlic paste to taste
2 green chilies, coarsely crushed
Salt to taste
Enough water to cook the sprouts
Red chili powder, coriander poweder and turmeric powder to taste

Garnish: cilantro leaves and lime or lemon wedges

How to:
Heat oil in a sauce pot. Add chopped onion and fry till lightly brown.
Now add tomato paste and all the spice mix with ginger garlic paste and salt and cook till tomato paste is dissolved. Now add sprouts and water,cover and cook till sprouts are at desired doneness. Squieez some lemon juice on it and serve.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sprout Bhel!

I love to sprout and eat them too! As I mentioned earlier in my Sprouts salad_ post, I sprout once a week and have those sprouts as a mid-morning snack. Plain sprouts with a little bit of chat masala sprinkled on them. That's it.

So when Priya announced sprouts event, I flipped out of my chair! I was like, this is my kind of event. I like to keep and taste the sprouts in their natural state most of the times. So I wasn't going to be making dumplings or pan cakes or burgers or curries! I use sprouts for my salads usually, so this time, I thought about making Bhel out of them! I know my other foodie buddies might come up with the same idea but hey, great minds think alike! This bhel is very flavorful, much colorful and so packed with nutrition. Go ahead, give it a try. You'll find it hard to stop devouring it.

Sprout Bhel
1 cup sprouted green gram(moong)
1/2 cup each sprouted black chick peas,moath(matki) and peanuts
1 medium potato, cubed and boiled
1 small raw mango, cubed
1/2 jalapeno, seeded(keep the seeds if you like intense heat!), chopped finely
1 small red onion, chopped finely
Date & tamarind sauce
Cilantro and mint sauce
Chaat masala powder
Fine sev, cilantro leaves & Pomegranate seeds for garnish

How to: Toss all the ingredients with sauces and chaat masala powder. Garnish and enjoy right away with a glass of cold jal jeera! Yum!

This is my entry for Priya's Let's Sprout event.
I was so hungry just by looking at the chaat mix, grabbed my bowl and finished the whole thing! Totally forgot to take the picture with all the yummy sauces on top! SORRY!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Almond Biscottis

I am reposting this recipe in order to participate in Akila's event Dish Name Starts With - A. That's a neat idea, Akila!  Since this event is posted in August, hence the letter "A"! I had something else in mind but then I decided to use that recipe for Cooking on Independence Day event by Akila also. My brain is bursting with recipes right now but I want to keep it simple. Hence this repost.

I absolutely love biscotti! These cookies sound a lot more difficult to make but trust me, it is not. This recipe is really easy to make and will keep for up to 3 weeks. It tastes so great when eaten just like that but even better when dunked in a good cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa. Give it a try. I am sure you won't be disappointed and these are much better cookies than the one you get at your local barista!

Almond Biscotti
Makes about 36


3 cups All-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon Baking powder
3 Eggs, large
1 cup Granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or butter.
Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a large bowl; set aside.
Use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and sugar in another bowl on medium speed.
Add the melted butter and vanilla.
Mix on medium speed until combined.
Gradually add the flour mixture in three batches.
Blend well after each addition.
Use a rubber spatula or mixing spoon to gently stir in the toasted almonds.
The dough should be stiff enough to hold in your hands without being too sticky.
If it is too sticky, add a small amount of extra flour until it is workable.
Turn the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.
Divide the dough into two equal portions.
With lightly floured hands, shape each portion into a flat rectangle about 5-inches wide and 12-inches long. Space the "loaves" at least 2-inches apart.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown.
Allow them to cool on the pan for 5 minutes.
Gently transfer the loaves to a cutting board and use a serrated knife to slice them into 1/2-inch slices.
Place the sliced almond biscotti cookies back on the cookie sheet; placing them cut-side down.
Be careful, they will be fragile and could break in half.
Bake the almond biscotti cookies for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and turn the almond biscottis over so the other cut side is now facing up. Bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.
Place finished almond biscotti cookies on a rack to cool.
Store in an air tight container.

This is my entry for Akila's event.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Remember the leftover Chicken tikka from the other night?! I saved some to make chicken tikka masala to go with home made naans. My family enjoys this dish very much. And once the tikka is done, the rest is so easy to prepare. I can't wait to make this dish once mom and dad get back here with us. They both love it as well. And for my vegetarian friends, you can prepare the same dish with paneer, making it paneer tikka masala. I tried to make tofu tikkas, didn't taste good! May be I should start a yucky!(!) section on my blog and dump dishes like that there! And to be truthful and honest, not every new dish we try out comes out tasty! We are not Food Network chefs who would just prepare the best of the dishes for the shows!

Chicken Tikka Masala
About 1 lb Chicken tikkas
1 large onion,finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp grated ginger
Salt to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp or more(to taste) tandoori masala powder
1 medium tomato, chopped
3 tbsp Oil
Cubed green pepper for garnish

How to:
Heat oil in a sauce pot. Fry onion till golden brown. Add tomato puree and chopped tomato and cook till tomato pieces are soft. Now add ginger, garlic, salt and tandoori masala powder and cook on medium heat till oil starts to separate. Add chicken pieces and green pepper cubes, stir fry for a few minutes and serve hot.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dumplings And An Award!


I picked up dumpling wrappers from the grocery store yesterday. I was thinking about making raviolis out of them and ended up making these tasty dumplings! I happened to have all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry for dumplings. And I got enough wrappers to make both, dumplings and ravioli. Since I was making it for Sunday supper, I decided to go with dumplings as they are much lighter than raviolis. Mark was kind of skaptical at first. All he had until now was noodles and curried dishes with rice as Chinese. He still gave it a try and simply fell in love with it! Gave me a thumbs up! At the end , I shallow fried some dumplings for him to enjoy. These dumplings were vegetarian and no one could tell it!

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups hot water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chili paste
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint leaves
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Thai basil leaves

Peanut oil, for cooking
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

1 cup Nutrela granules, soaked and squeezed dry per package directions
1/2 cup grated cabbage
2 finely chopped green onions
1 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tbsp grated garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp or more Sambal Olek
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1-2 tbsp cornstarch
1 egg
Water to seal the edges of dumplings

How to:
For the dough:
Whisk the flour with the salt and stir in the water until dough is shaggy. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead briefly; dough should be soft and pliable but not too sticky. Rest, covered, while you make the filling and the sauce.

For the filling:
Mix everything except corn starch in a food processor. Now depending on consistency, add corn starch. The filling should be on dry side. Not to dry though. Take one disc and place about 1 tbsp of filling in the centre. Do not overstuff the discs. Line the edges with a touch of water and seal the dumpling. Make all the dumplings and keep them covered under moist kitchen towel.

Heat a skillet, just large enough to accommodate the number of dumplings you want to cook over high heat. Add a thin coating of oil, heat, then add the dumplings in concentric circles. They should be touching. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown, 3 or 4 minutes (reduce the heat if they are browning too quickly). Add enough water to come about 1/4 of the way up the sides of the dumplings-it will spatter. Cover the skillet, adjust the heat so that the water is simmering, and cook for about 7 minutes. Uncover the skillet and, if there is water left, let it cook off. Check the dumpling bottoms-if they need to brown a bit more, let them, adding a bit more oil if necessary.

Serve the dumplings immediately, drizzled with some dipping sauce and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

Now the award time! Wonderful Aipi was too kind to me and she shared this award with me. 

 I can't thank her enough to honor me with this lovely award... Versatile Blogger Award. This is so cool 'n exciting.

Thanks Aipi. You've got rocking recipes and a wonderful blog.

To accept this award the guidelines are -
- Thank the person/people who gave it to you - Did so!
- Tell 7 things about yourself - too difficult, looks like I don't know myself!
- Pass the award on to 15 bloggers who you think are fantastic - Man, don't even know this many bloggers! So  I am passing on this award to the friends I know.

I am trying to come up with 7 facts about myself
1. I am a Gujarati Christian, people think I look like from South India(I've got big black eyes and curly hair)!
2. A true family person
2. I love travelling, especially cruises!
3. Used to be an avid reader, don't have enough time these days. I could read the piece of paper comes with the fish n chips! Go figure!
4. Love to collect cool kitchen gadgets
5. I don't hate people! I dislike so many but never hate them
6. I don't drink coffee regularly! That's my weekend fair(funny my blog has hot n steamy coffee picture!)
7. I love to cook but can't just consider myself a foodie. There is so much to learn.

It is my pleasure to pass this award on to the following loving blogmates of mine, and Aipi, coming back at you again!

1. Sayali-my first ever blogger friend
2.Priya- thanks to who I've been able to get wonderful friends like you all, girls!

Breakfast Club

Sunday I wanted to make a quick, light and healthy breakfast for us. I didn't want to toast up the breads to go with jam or butter neither did I want to have the bagels or waffles. I had some leftover bread in the fridge from the week before so I thought, hmmm….. Let's try breakfast club sandwich! When I was in university in Ahmedabad, all of us friends used to go for either the vegetable sandwich filled with cucumber and tomatoes with usual cilantro spread and ketchup or vegetable club sandwich which was originally same vegetable sandwich with 3 slices of bread instead of two! Here in the restaurants, I have noticed in the menu big club sandwiches. I can't have that much bread either. So I decided to go for 3 slices of bread per sandwich.

Here's what you need and how to do.

Breakfast Club
6 slices of regular bread
Good quality margarine spread
4 slices of chicken bacon, cooked as per package instructions
4 slices of tomatoes (beefsteak preferred)
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 leaves of head lettuce

For egg cake
5 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of fresh basil and parsley, julienned

How to:
Heat the oven at 350° F. Beat eggs, salt and pepper and fresh herbs together in a bowl. Pour it in the baking dish lined with the parchment paper. Make sure the dish is wide enough that could give you 4 good slices of eggs. Bake for 10 minutes or until the eggs are set. Keep aside.

Toast the breads. Slather margarine on one side of each bread. Now arrange 2 bacon slices, a slice of an egg and top it off with another bread slice. Arrange on that bread, 2 slices of tomatoes(use salt and pepper liberally), another slice of egg and a leaf of lettuce and place the 3rd slice of bread on the top. Arrange tooth picks properly so that everything can hold up and slice the club the way you like.

I couldn't take the picture of the sandwich with the tomatoes that I made for myself. So, here is the picture of the club without the tomatoes that I made for Mark and hubby!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quick N Easy - Kalakand

This is one of the easiest and quickest mithais. I love to make mithais and hubby loves to eat them, so blogging about these home-made Indian sweets is kind of keeping a track of what I make for him and what he eats! I love to make Kalakand as it only takes 5 ingredients and is sooooooo easy!! Don't believe me? Look at the ingredients list and you will know that I am not lying!

Makes about 16 pieces

15 oz. container of full fat ricotta cheese
8 oz. Carnation skimmed milk powder
8 oz. granulated sugar
1/2 cup ghee
A pinch of cardamom

Garnish: slivered almonds, pistachios( Optional)

How to:
Mix all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.
Cook for 3 minutes.
Stir and cook for 3 more minutes.
At this time, you will see that there is much less water content remaining in the mixture.
Depending on the water content and the capacity of the microwave(my Panasonic takes only 7 minutes in total!) you need to adjust the time to cook.
Once a solid mass forms, pour and spread in a well greased plate.
Garnish with slivered almonds and pistachios, let it cool down for a couple of hours and cut into pieces.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mozzarella Sticks

Who doesn't love cheese?! So gooood! And who doesn't love fried cheese?! Even better and delicious. I've made this recipe so many times now, I can tell that I make one of the most delectable fried mozzarella cheese sticks! No kidding! Read on and you will know. A friendly warning: this is lip smacking, waist widening food! So use your discretion! I bet you won't be able to stop once you start biting into this yummy sticks and letting that ooey gooey stringy cheese flow out!

Mozzarella Sticks

1.5 cups breadcrumbs
1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
1-1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp salt
2-16 oz blocks of mozzarella, cut into half inch sticks
4 large eggs
1.5 cup vegetable oil
4 cups Marinara sauce, recipe follows

How to:
Stir the bread crumbs,Italian seasoning, 1 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl to blend. Dip the cheese in the eggs to coat completely and allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Coat the cheese in the bread crumb mixture, patting to adhere and coat completely. Place the cheese sticks on a baking sheet. Repeat dipping the cheese sticks in the egg and bread crumb mixture to coat a second time. Cover and freeze until frozen, about 2 hours and up to 2 days.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the cheese until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the fried cheese to plates. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve with the Marinara Sauce.

Marinara Sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mango Tango

Today, I am posting two recipes with mangoes. 1. mango smoothie and 2. mango kulfi! Aren't you all excited?! I am! I love summer because I love to enjoy mangoes! I love to eat mangoes just they way they are, raw and ripe. I like to make cool treats using mangoes. I freeze mangoes in summertime so that I can enjoy smoothies all year long. Smoothie is my usual breakfast. Mango lassi and mango smoothie are different things. It's confusing for people which is what. Lassi takes lots of yogurt. Smoothie is pure fruit and a bit of juice or water, with a bit of milk for added protein. Whatever they call it, if it is loaded with the mango taste, I am in for it!

Mango Smoothie

1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 cup cold milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup mango pulp
A few ice cubes

How to:

I like to crush the ice first in my blender. Then add the rest of the ingredients and whip everything up till nicely blended. Enjoy.

Mango kulfi
(nothing gets easier and tastier than this cool treat!)

1 tub Cool Whip Lite
1 can mango pulp

How to:
Blend both ingredients on medium high speed till airy. Pour into kulfi molds(I used small paper cups!) and freeze. Within 12 hours, kulfi is ready for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tawa Vegetables

There is this Indian restaurant near my home which serves a fantastic buffet. They claim that they are the largest buffet in North America! Well, I have to believe them as they truly have this wonderful spread of breads, soups, pizzas, pickles, other condiments like olives, pasta salads etc. vegetarian and meat dishes, Hakka dishes, chaats and pakoras and finally, the desserts! They have ice creams and Indian sweets to finish off the meal with. But there is one particular dish that always catches my attention and actually I am eager to savor that dish only is Tawa Vegetables. I tried to chat with the chef and find out how exactly they make it. He was reluctant at first but I didn't give up! I was pestering him for so long, he finally described a little method! The horrible thing was, all the veggies were deep fried! Well, it's a buffet, what else can we expect? After that day, I haven't eaten that dish there again! So I decided to give it a try at home by trying steaming and grilling the veggies instead of deep-frying them. And the result was so satisfying, I couldn't believe it!

I forgot to buy bitter melon so that wasn't included in this dish. Practically all the veggies that can be added in this tawa. At the restaurant, they present this dish on a large tawa, all the veggies separately and it looks very pretty. For the 3 of us, I didn't have to do all that! But if I ever make this for my parties, I will present it that way.

Tawa Vegetables
1 cup each big chunks of cauliflower, colored peppers, small eggplants(I used the Japanese one as I couldn't find small ones at the super market), whole baby potatoes, pearl onions(couldn't find them either!), paneer(thickly sliced), brussels sprouts, okra
Salt to taste
Whole cumin seeds,1 tbsp
1 tbsp kasoori methi
Red chili powder
Turmeric powder
Cumin powder
Garlic powder
Chaat masala - all to taste
Oil as required

How to:
Put chunks of veggies separetely in a baking dish. Drizzle with oil, toss a little and bake in 400° F oven till the veggies are tender.
Steam brussels sprouts.
Bake the brussels sprouts, potatoes, onions, okra, egg plant and paneer the same way.
Keep them aside.
Heat up the oil in a wok.
Add cumin seeds and roast them.
Add red chili powder and kasoori methi and cook for a few seconds.
Now add rest of the spice powder but chaat masala and veggies.
Add little water so that all the vegetables get cooked.
Sprinkle with chaat masala and serve.