30 October 2009

Shahi mixed veggie paneer

Add cashew paste and cream into any Indian curry and you have 'Shahi' (Royal) sauce.
Serves 4
1 lb cottage cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups of frozen veggies
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1" inch peice of ginger, chopped
1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp crushed red chillies
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup cashew nut paste
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup water
  1. Saute onions in hot oil till golden brown. Add ginger, kasuri methi and fry for 1-2 mins.
  2. Stir in red chilli, garam masala and salt.
  3. Add tomatoes and cook until it is the spices are well combined and most of the tomato juice has been cooked off. About 5-7 mins.
  4. Add cashew paste and cream. Simmer for 3-4 mins. Add water, veggies and simmer.
  5. Add paneer and continue to simmer for another 5 mins.
  6. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with naan.

Overripe bananas - again!

V insists on buying half a dozen out of which normally 2 end up in banana bread. This time round, I tried banana cookies from Simply recipes and they turned out like I would expect banana cookies to taste like - perfect!

28 October 2009

Onions added to Quiche Lorraine makes Quiche Alsacienne

Serves 6-8

1 9" whole wheat pie crust - I get the Whole Foods brand
5 eggs
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of cubed pancetta or 4 strips of bacon
1 tbsp of chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 cup of chopped red onions
1 cup grated cheese - I used a mix of Manchego and Gouda
  1. Prick the pie crust's base and sides with a fork. Partially bake it in the oven for 10 mins at 375 deg. In the meantine, heat 1 tsp of oil in a non stick pan, add bacon or pancetta pieces and cook until the bits begin to brown and the fat melts. Drain out a bit of fat if its too much - now add onions and cook until they are browned.
  2. In a bowl whisk eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper and thyme together.
  3. Layer cheese at the bottom, followed by the onion-pancetta mix in the pie crust. Place the pie in the oven and a minute later without removing the pie from the oven, pour the egg mix until it reaches a 1/2" below the top of the pie.
  4. Bake for 40-50 mins until it is slightly browned on the top. Be careful to not overcook.
  5. I served this with a side of Kale with potatoes and anchovies.

Good to know: the reason we leave the pie crust in the oven while pouring in the egg mix is so that the egg mix begins to set as soon as it is poured thus preventing the crust from becoming soggy.

27 October 2009

Bok choy with garlic

Serves 3

1 bunch bok choy, seperated and chopped into 1/2" pieces - keep the stems and leaves seperate
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-3 tsps fish sauce or tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp water or broth
Freshly ground pepper

Heat a couple tsps of oil and add garlic. When the garlic turns slightly brown, add boy choy stems. After 2 mins add bok choy leaves and cook until slightly wilted. Add fish sauce, water and pepper. Cover and cook for another 2 mins until the stems are cooked through yet a bt crunchy. Adjest for salt, if necessary.

26 October 2009

Brussel sprouts with pine nuts and parmesan

Brussel sprouts are a winter blessing that few know how to enjoy. I am not always one of those few. This recipe is a good-quick-go-to brussel sprouts snack but definitely not eating it like candy.
1. Preheat oven to 375 deg.
2. Remove sprouts off the bark and remove the loose outer leaves. Halve sprouts and toss them with enough olive oil to thinly coat the pieces. Add a couple of tsps of Balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 mins until they are browned and slightly crispy.
4. Transfer into a bowl. Toss in grated parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.

24 October 2009

Parsi Dhansak

Dhansak is a lentil-based meat delicacy which is a specialty of the Parsi community in India. Being from Bombay, Parsi cuisine is as integrated into our palette as "vada pav". Other delicacies include Salli Boti (a hot spicy mutton curry made with apricots and sprinkled with 'salli' or potato straws) and Patrani Machchi (fish steamed in banana leaves).

Recipe source: My grandmother's Parsi friend

1 onion, chopped
3/4 lb chicken breast/ or mutton (cut into bite-sized cubes)
4-5 tsp dhansak masala (you should be able to find this in most Indian spice stores)

For the dal:
1 1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 cup masoor dal
1/2 bunch methi (fenugreek) leaves
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
1 medium eggplant, chopped into medium pieces
1/2 small pumpkin, chopped small
1 small sweet potato, cut small

For the spice mix:
3 cardamoms
1 piece of cinnamon
4 cloves
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 red chillies
2 green chillies
3 cloves garlic

Cut the chicken into cubes and marinate with 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp red chilli powder. Set aside.

In a mixer, add all the ingredients of the spice mix and grind into a smooth paste, adding 2-3 tsp water.

In a pressure cooker, cook all the ingredients for the dal. I let it cook for 2 whistles. Once done, let the steam escape and when you open the cooker, use the back of a spoon to mash all the vegetables into a smooth paste. This should be fairly easy, since the vegetables tend to disintegrate into the dal.

In a deep pan, heat 2 tsp oil and when it is hot, add the onions. Let these brown for 5 minutes, and then add the spice mix. Let this cook for 3-4 minutes, and then add the dhansak masala. Let the spice mix cook for another 2-3 minutes. At this point, add the dal into the pan and mix well. Add 3 cups water (more if desired) and at this point, add the chicken into the dal. Let the dal and chicken boil on medium heat for 25 minutes.

Serve with rice and a chopped salad.

While this recipe is a little tedious, it is well worth the effort.

23 October 2009

Indian-Spiced Lentils with Kale

All the rage about Kale these days led me to this quick, non-fussy recipe at Cooks Illustrated. A good introduction for those who are intimadated by Indian cooking.

Serves 4

1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used Masoor Dal)
1 tsp table salt
1 pound kale, stemmed, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp yellow mustard powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger

1) Rinse the lentils well and strain.
2) In a medium saucepan, add lentils, 6 cups of water and salt and bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes.
3) Reduce the head and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the lentils are tender, but still hold their shape.
4) Add kale to the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
5) In a skillet, heat butter over medium heat.
6) Add the coriander, cumin and mustard powders and red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute
7) Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute or until softened and fragrant.
8) Add the lentils and kale and the reserved cooking liquid and simmer for 5 minutes.
9) Adjust seasings as needed.
10) Serve hot with rotis or rice.

This can easily be made into a soup by adding more liquid and adjusting the salt and spices, accordingly.

21 October 2009

Sweet and spicy golden beets

Serves 4

5 small yellow beets, peeled and cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 green peppers, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp all purpose flour
salt to taste

  1. Steam cubed beets for 15 mins until you find the pieces easy to penetrate with a fork. Heat oil in a pot, add cumin and a 1/2 min later add garlic. Once the garlic is lightly cooked, add onion, sliced peppers and salt. Cook until onions are slightly browned and translucent.
  2. Add flour and crushed red pepper. Saute for 1/2 a minute.
  3. Add beets, tomato and salt if needed. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for another 10 mins over a low flame.
  4. Serve with roti.

18 October 2009

Kale Rice

I love this recipe because its simple, very yummy, and I have a recipe where I know what to do with kale!!

1/2 bunch kale, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped
1 cup rice, cooked and cooled
2 tomatoes, chopped
cumin seeds, 1 tsp
mustard seeds, 1/2tsp
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 curry leaves
juice of 1/2 a lime
olive oil

In a wok, heat oil and add cumin and mustard seeds. When they splutter add the curry leaves. After a minute, add the onions and fry till they become soft and golden. Add garlic mince and fry for 2-3 minutes. Next, add tomatoes, coriander and chilli powders and fry on medium heat for 5-7 minutes til the tomatoes turn soft and the masala begins to glisten. Add chopped kale, mix well with the onion mixture and cook with a closed lid for 7-8 minutes. When cooked, add the cooked rice. Mix well, add salt and lime juice.

Enjoy with yogurt!

16 October 2009

Apple crumble or crisp

Apples are in season. So if you have an excess of picked apples this season - try this crumble. Easy, delicious and you don't have to worry about your apples rotting. I cut down consirably on sugar but you want to be careful doing that. Too little sugar will pull sugar out of the apples as they cook. Ideally, you want the apples to intensify in sweetness as they cook.
Makes a 7x11" pan of crumble
3 honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and cubed into 3/4" inch pieces - you can use any firm apple variety like Red delicious, McIntosh, etc.
Splash of lime juice
2 tbsp sugar
a pinch of salt
3 tbsp of flour
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp of rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cold butter cubed into 1/4"pieces
1-2 tbsp of apple cider
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. For the filling mix all ingredients for the filling in a baking pan.
  2. For the topping, roughly mix all ingredients for the topping. Squeeze the butter cubes slightly to flatten the cubes.
  3. Spread the topping evenly over the cubed apples mix. Bake until the mix is bubbling and the topping has evenly browned. About 45-55mins.
  4. Check in 30 mins - if you see white flour patches on the top, sprinkle a bit of apple cider on it and continue baking.

French lentil soup

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups of diced onions
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt to taste
3 dried bayleaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup of french lentils
3 cups of water or veggie broth

  1. Heat oil in a pot over high heat. Add onions and cook for 5-7 mins until translucent and slightly brown.
  2. Add tomatoes, garlic, salt, bayleaves, parsley and cook for another 3 mins.
  3. Add lentils, water and adjust for salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered until done. About 10-15 mins.

15 October 2009

Mutton Kheema

This is one of H's mother's authentic Bombay mutton kheema recipes. It was so satisfying and quite easy to prepare! there are a few steps that are important to follow to ensure it turns out perfect...

1 lb mutton/ lamb mince
1 large potato, cut into small pieces
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli pwdr
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp haldi
2 tbsp yogurt
1 green chilli, chopped fine
olive oil
cilantro, for garnishing

Wash the lamb mince and strain to remove all water. This is important if you want to make dry kheema. Make sure all the water is squeezed out thoroughly. Marinate the mince with all the spices, ginger-garlic paste, and salt. Set aside for 15 minutes.

In a shallow pan, add 1/2 tsp oil. When hot, add the cut potatoes and fry lightly. Then add the green chillies, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the mince and yogurt. Mix well and stir. Cook for 5 minutes, and when water has somewhat evaporated, lower flame and put the lid on. Cook for 20 minutes until potatoes are cooked through. Serve with naan and yogurt.

Rainbow trout with coriander and lemon

Serves 2 very hungry people
2 Rainbow trouts gutted and cleaned off eyeballs, gills, etc.
1 big bunch of corainder - chopped fine packed into 2 cups
1 lemon sliced into 1/4" thick discs
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 green chillies, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 deg. Mince coriander, garlic and chillies together. Use salt to help mince. Stuff the fish with this mix and pace atleast 2-3 lemon discs in it. Bake the fish in an oiled roasting pan for about 10 mins. Then move the pan into the broiler for 3 mins until the fish is lightly browned.
  2. I served it with quinoa and french lentil soup.

09 October 2009

Winter Squash Soup

Source: Modifications from Smitten Kitchen


1 acorn squash
1 butternut squash
1 leek, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fresh sage
olive oil
some whipping cream

To prepare squash, peel skin, remove seeds and chop into cubes. Easier said than done! I struggled with the endeavor for 5 minutes, realized it was futile. Instead (as suggested by Deb), I halved the squash, deseeded them and then laid them on a baking sheet to bake for 20-30 minutes at 425F. They were cooked perfectly, and I could scoop the pulp out from the skin.

In a pan, heat 2tbsp oil and add leeks and chopped garlic. Saute for 10 minutes until leeks are cooked. Add the cooked squash, chicken broth, cumin, ginger, and herbs. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-5 minutes. When cooled, puree in a blender.

Return the soup to the stove, add a little whipping cream and pepper. The original recipe asked for sugar, but I thought the soup was perfectly sweet and so skipped it.

The soup was filling and perfect for the autumn chill that has descended on Chicago!

08 October 2009

Zuccini-potato gratin

You have a couple of Zuccinis and 1 potato in the pantry - make Mekhala's Herbed Zuccini-potato torte or old fashioned gratin. I stuck it into the oven and forgot about it for 45 mins - now I have a delicious side for a couple of days. Not much to look at but delicious nonetheless.

Serves 5-6 as side dish

1 large yukon potato, cut horizontally into 1/4" circular slices
2 large zuccinis, cut into 1/4 " circular pieces
1 1/2 cups of milk and heavy whipping cream mixed half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheese (parmesan or aged gouda or manchego - any cheese that is a salty and easy to grate)
2 tsps dried rosemary
  1. Saute zuccini slices in oil until they become slightly brown on both sides. The idea is to cook off most of the water in zuccini. If you don't do this, your gratim will turn out watery instead of crispy brown.

  2. Season milk-cream mix with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 375 deg. In a 9"x12" baking dish, layer the milk-cream mix such that it comes up to approx. a little less than 1/4". Layer potato slices - overlapping them slightly. To check if the milk-cream mix is at the right level, it should partially cover the potato slices on it edges when depressed into the mix.

  3. Add a single layer of cooked zuccini slices. Layer grated cheese - followed by leftover milk-cream mix.

  4. Continue layering until all of the milk-cream mix and zuccinis are used up. The topmost layer should be grated cheese and dried rosemary.

  5. Bake in the oven for 45 mins until the top is evenly browned. Check on the gratin in halfway through - if zuccini is sitting in liquid increase the temperature or if its bubbling wildly descrease the temperature. The idea is to maintain a temperature at which it is gently simmering and browning evenly while it cooks.

Good to know: The potato slices add starch to thicken the sauce and provide a stable base layer for the gratin.

07 October 2009

Shrimp Fried Rice

This is a really easy recipe to make with fridge leftovers. One important tip to make perfect fried rice: use day-old rice which has been stored in the fridge.
2 cups white rice (stored in the fridge for a day)
20-25 shrimp cleaned and deveined (i used frozen shrimp)
3-4 spring onions, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup peas (i used frozen peas)
2 pods of garlic, minced
2 eggs
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

In a bowl, combine the shrimp, salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. In a small pan, add 1tsp oil and when it is hot, add the shrimp. Let the shrimp turn golden-brown on both sides (takes about 30s each side). Remove and set aside. In the same pan, add two eggs and scramble. Set aside.

In a wok, add 2-3 tbsp oil and heat on a high flame. Add minced garlic and green onions. Saute for 1-2 minutes and then add peas and bell pepper (you can add any other vegetables, like carrots, green beans). Let these cook for 3-4 minutes. When veges looked partially cooked, add the sauteed shrimp. Add white rice and mix with the vegetables. Add the soy sauce. Stir-fry on high heat for 5 minutes. Lastly, add the scrambled eggs.

Savor the fried rice fresh off the stove!

04 October 2009

Sweet potato, onion, black beans salad

"Good chefs read cookbooks, great chefs write cookbooks" V quoted from the latest Iron Chef rumble when he tasted this salad. Ofcourse I beamed proud :) even though the statement was made under the influence of a particularly strong hot toddy for his stuffy nose and head.Serves 4

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed in 1" pieces
1 large red onions, cubed into 1" pieces
Kosher salt
2 red chillies crushed
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 cup minced coriander
2 tsp roasted, ground cumin
juice of 1/2 lime

Coat the potato and onion cubes in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and crushed red chillies in a baking dish. Roast for 45 mins at 450 deg, until potatoes are done, onions are brown in places and caramelized.

In a bowl mix the roasted potatoes and onions with the rest of the ingredients. Adjust for salt and lime.