26 December 2011

Spreading Christmas Cheer - Chocolate Cake!

I always bake for Christmas and since I was travelling this year, I picked an easy & never-fail Smitten Kitchen recipe - Everyday Chocolate Cake that I could recreate with minimal ingredients in my friend's kitchen.

I used Scharffen Berger Chocolate and it turned out fantastic. The only thing I added was the Chocolate frosting on top that was melted chocolate - Half & Half - Dark rum + Grand Marnier. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the cake with the frosting, but I can confirm it was a hit! How can you go wrong with chocolate and alcohol! ;)

I wish all of you Happy Holidays and a very happy New Year!  Cheers!

02 December 2011

Lauki (Bottle guard) sabzi

This is my friend's Sudha's recipe - she is an amazing cook who reintroduces me to traditional Indian vegetables and cooking each time I visit her. This recipe is so simple and tasty - I went from not cooking with bottle guard at all to making this atleast once a month! :)

Serves 2 (with leftovers for lunch!)

1 bottle guard (Lauki) - peeled, de-seeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes
Green chillies - 4 or 5 slit
Milk - 1/2 cup
Ground peanuts (pwd)- 2 tablespoons
Cilantro - chopped for garnish
Water - 1 cup
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
EVOO - 1 swirl of the pan

Combine the following powders in a cup -
Chilli pwd - 1 tablespoon
Turmeric pwd (haldi) - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander pwd (dhania) - 1 teaspoon
Cumin pwd (jeera) - 1 teaspoon
Garam masala - 1 teaspoon
Hing - a pinch
Salt - to taste

In a pan, heat the oil and add mustard seeds. Once the mustard splutters, add the cumin seeds & slot green chillies. As the cumin browns, add the powders you have already combined in a cup while also stirring the mixture. Don't let the powders burn, but let them cook for a min or so while constantly stirring. After a min, add milk, water, ground peanuts(pwd), water and the chopped bottle guard. Cook covered for about 20 minutes - when cooked the bottle guard pieces should be still al-dente and not too mushy!

Garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve hot with rice/roti !

30 November 2011

Mushroom Pepper Fry

Growing up in India, cooking with mushrooms was very uncommon. Fortunately for us, we were a part of this mushroom cooperative and would have fresh grown mushrooms of different varieties delivered to our doorstep every other week. Their earthy flavor combined with mom's ability to make them lip smacking made them my favorite! Here's one of her recipes - Mushroom Pepper Fry. Mushrooms & Black pepper go really well together! :)

Serves 2

1 pound oyster/button/baby bella mushrooms - cleaned and chopped. Mushrooms are extremely porous and soak up water like a sponge. Because they are mostly water, never soak fresh mushrooms. Brush off any dirt or wipe them with a damp paper towel.

Onion - 1 chopped finely
Curry leaves - 1 stalk (5-6 leaves)
Ginger & Garlic paste - 1 teaspoon or use fresh minced ginger & garlic
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Coriander pwd/dhania - 2 teaspoons
Turmeric pwd/Haldi - 1/2 teaspoon
Fresh ground black pepper - 2 tablespoon (adjust to taste if you don't like your dish too peppery)
Salt - to taste
Lemon juice - 1 teaspoon
Oil - 1 tablespoon, or 1 swirl of the pan using a pourer

Heat oil in a wok, and add cumin seeds. When cumin browns, add chopped onions and curry leaves and fry until the onions are translucent/light brown(5-8 minutes). Now add ginger & garlic paste, coriander pwd and turmeric pwd and cook until the mixture doesn't smell raw anymore (about 2 minutes). Then add the mushrooms and cook uncovered for 10 minutes until they shrink and soften. Then take the wok off the stove and add salt, pepper and lemon juice.

DO NOT add any of these during the cooking process because -
- Adding salt to mushrooms causes them to let out water. This will cause your dish to become too watery
- Adding pepper during the cooking process takes away from the bite/flavor
- Lemon juice turns bitter when cooked

Serve with hot rice/roti! Enjoy!!

27 November 2011


I love the simplicity of this dish. This is the most perfect Punjabi rajma recipe I have tried. Its from Vikram Vij's wonderful book "Vij's At Home".

Onion,1 large chopped
Ginger-garlic paste, 2 tbsp
Tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups chopped
red chilli powder, 1 1/2 tbsp
turmeric, 1 tsp
ground cumin, 1 tbsp
ground coriander, 1 tbsp
black pepper, 1 tsp
2 cups rajma beans, soaked overnight
water, 4-5 cups

In a pressure cooker, saute the onions in hot oil till they brown, 6 minutes. Add the ginger-garlic paste and the tomatoes. Saute for a few minutes, and then add the masala powders to the mixture. Saute for 6-8 minutes till the tomatoes cook and oil glistens on the surface. Add water, stir and bring to a boil on high heat. Add the soaked and drained kidney beans and pressure cook as per your cooker's instructions. Mine cooked in about 12 minutes. Serve with rice and a small salad.

Penne in Vodka Sauce

From Rachel Ray's recipe

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces; I used a combination of fresh and can tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces penne pasta
1/2 cup heavy cream; I used half and half
5-10 basil leaves

In a large pan, swirl the olive oil and add butter, garlic, and onion. Saute onions for 3 to 5 minutes, don't brown. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream. Cook till the vodka reduces by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken/ vegetable stock, and the tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. When the oil starts to glisten on the tomatoes, stir in the cream and remove from heat. Cut up half the basil leaves and stir into the sauce.

In the meantime, cook the penne pasta in boiling water al dente. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and remainder chopped basil leaves.

Cauliflower Gratin

Adapted with some changes from Deb's Smitten Kitchen recipe


1 medium sized cauliflower, cut into florets
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cup hot milk
1 tsp fresh black pepper
2 tbsp dijon mustard (my own variation)
1/2-3/4 cup parmesan cheese (this depends on how much you want to put in it)
1/2 cup bread crumbs

To cook the cauliflower, the original recipe asks to boil it in water til done. I steamed them instead to retain more nutrition. Steam for about 7-8 minutes till done but with a bite. Don't overcook.

In a wok, melt 2 tbsp of the butter and add the flour. Stir constantly till the raw smell of the flour disappears, about 2 mins. Make sure to stir so that flour does not brown. Now add the hot milk and stir till the mixture begins to boil. I use a whisk to stir to avoid getting any lumps. Boil till the mixture thickens, about 4-5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan, dijon mustard and salt/ pepper.

Add the cauliflowers to the white sauce to coat evenly. Put the mixture into a baking dish, and top with a mix of the remaining cheese and bread crumbs. Dot the dish with butter if desired, and bake at 375F for 30 minutes till golden.

06 August 2011

Indianizing the Tomatillo

My mom makes this killer baaji/curry with green or early tomatoes. These tomatoes are very tart, and are usually left to ripen. When available, in some homes these are used as souring agents in Dals. I have been on the lookout for green tomatoes in many a farmers market. That's when I chanced on the idea of using Tomatillos instead. Granted they are not the same, but the end result is very similar - a tangy tasting dish that hits all the flavor spots! Since then I have used tomatillos in many chutneys and dals in the place of green tomatoes.

Serves 2

Tomatillos (firm and bright green) - about 10 - dehusked, cleaned and chopped into 1 inch cubes
Onion - 1 chopped into 1 inch cubes
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Ginger-Garlic paste - 2 tablespoons
Curry Leaves - 4 or 5
Coconut - frozen shredded - 1 tablespoon
Green Chillies - 4 or 5 - slit
Cilantro - 1/2 cup - chopped
Turmeric/Haldi - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tablespoon

In a wok, heat some oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard splutters, add curry leaves, green chillies, ginger-garlic paster and onions. Saute until the onions are translucent(about 5 minutes). Now add tomatillos, salt and haldi. Cover and cook until the tomatillos are fully cooked through and soft (about 5-10 minutes). Add coconut and mix just as you turn off the stove. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve hot with rotis/rice - Enjoy!

Note - this dish is very tangy owing to the tartness of the tomatillo. Please be warned if you are not a fan of tangy-ness! :)

18 July 2011

Caprese on a stick - perfect for Summer!

Something about food on a stick appeals to me, and this caprese salad tastes so much better served on a stick. It also helps that the recipe is so simple. It's the perfect Summer salad to impress your friends! :)

Serves many

Basil leaves
Grape tomatoes
Perline (pearl size) Mozzarella cheese - I used the Crave Brothers brand available in Whole Foods
Salt & pepper to season
Olive oil - one turn of the bottle

Take a toothpick, and thread it through one grape tomato, one basil leaf and two mozzarella pearls. Place on a plate, and repeat until you have as many as you need ot run out of ingredients. Season the caprese sticks with salt, pepper and good quality EVOO before serving. That's it! :)

08 July 2011

Chutney Pomfret - Do you smell home yet?

Do you know how certain foods and smells have a way of transporting you back in time? This recipe did the same for my husband, Lakshman. A wave of nostalgia hit him reminding him of time spent with friends in cheap, seedy food joints in Bombay, living it up with finger lickin' good food and "quarter" bottle alcohol shared amongst best buddies... :)

Serves 2

2 whole Pomfrets - cleaned (a type of fish popular in India - You can find it in the Asian markets/fish stores in Chicago)
Haldi or Turmeric - 1 tsp
Red chilli poweder - 1.5 tsp
Salt to season
Oil - 1 tbs

For Green Chutney, you need -
1 bunch Cilantro
A couple of sprigs of Mint
1 green chilli - serrano or Thai (you can add more if you like it spicy)
Juice of half a lime
Hing/Asafoetida - Optional

I got the fish cleaned and prepped at the fish store like in the following picture Make sure there are multiple slits on the body.

Marinate the fish with salt, haldi, red chilli pwd for about 30 minutes.

Make the Green chutney by grinding cilantro, mint, green chilli , salt, lime juice and hing to a thick paste in a blender. Add very little water only if necessary during the grinding process.

After the fish has marinated for 30 minutes, generously spread the green chutney into the slits and body of fish. Let marinate for an additional 5 minutes.

In a skillet, add some oil (I used EVOO). As soon as the oil gets hot, add the fish (one at a time)and let it cook/brown for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Pomfret is a very bony fish with very little flesh - so cooking time is usually quick.

Serve with more fresh green chutney on top, and a side salad. I served mine with some quinoa salad.


15 June 2011

Lima beans with dried wild mushrooms

I got fresh lima beans in my produce box last week and finally cooked myself a bowl yesterday. Source: Vegetables, James Peterson

Serves 2

1.5 cups of shelled lima beans
1 cup dried mushrooms, the original recipe calls for porcini and I used wild mushroom mix
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to season
  • Soak mushrooms in 1/2 cup of luke warm water for 30 mins. Move the musrooms around in the bowl every few minutes to ensure that all of the mushrooms are well soaked.

  • With 15 mins left on the soak. Bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil, add the beans and let cook for 10 mins. Drain and toss with olive oil.
  • Heat a wok, toss in the beans and chopped mushrooms with the water. Careful to keep the grit and sand in the bowl. Cook over medium high heat until the water cooks off.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve.

14 June 2011

Trout en papillote

Serves 2

2 Trouts, gutted and cleaned
1/2 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
4 thin slices of lime
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 crushed and minced clove of garlic
Salt and pepper
  • Preheat oven at 375 deg and saute fennel in olive oil and garlic until tender and lightly browned. Season with salt.
  • Cut about a foot of parchment paper, fold it into half and cut into shape of a heart.

  • Place the fish closer to the center of the paper, season with salt and pepper. Place half of the following - fennel, coriander leaves, chopped tomatoes, red pepper and sliced lime.

  • Fold the paper over the fish and fold the edges with short, overlapping folds. Leave a small opening, spoon in half the white wine and olive oil. Carefully, complete folding the packet.

  • Place it in a baking sheet and bake for 15 mins.

  • Remove and serve with a pair of scissors :)

01 June 2011

Sauteed Swiss Chard

1 bunch swiss chard, remove the center vein
3-4 red chillies, broken into pieces
3 pods garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

Cut the swiss chard into ribbons and put into a bowl of cold water. Heat olive oil in a pan, and add the red chillies and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes and then remove swiss chard from water and place into pan. Dont shake off the water from the chard, this will allow it to steam in the pan. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, and then cook with cover off for 3-4 minutes more. Serve as a side.

Ultimate Couscous

This recipe was part of the "food lover's cleanse" on Bon Appetit

It had delicious Moroccan flavors and was fairly easily to put together for a weekday dinner. Adapted with minor changes from the original recipe

1 carrot, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp hot paprika
1/4 tsp chile flakes
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
3 bay leaves
5 tbsp olive oil
some cilantro leaves for garnish

1 cup couscous
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup boiling vegetable stock
1/2 tsp coriander pwdr

Mix together all the ingredients for the vegetables, leaving out the chick peas and the cilantro leaves. Put this mix into an overproof dish and cook at 350F for about 30 minutes. By this time the vegetables should be cooked, while still retaining a bite. Now stir in the cooked chick peas and put into the over for 5 minutes.

In another bowl, put the dry couscous with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the frozen peas, 1/2 tsp coriander pwdr, and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous. Cover the bowl with a tight lid and leave for about 10 minutes. Fluff up the couscous with a fork, cover again and leave somewhere warm.

To serve, serve the couscous onto a plate, spoon the vegetable mixture on top and sprinkle cilantro leaves.

Vanilla Date Smothie

1/2 cup almond milk (vanilla flavored)
3 medjool dates, remove seeds
4 tbsp greek yoghurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whirr everything in a blender to a thick puree. Add ice cubes as needed. It was simply delicious!

25 March 2011

Prawns in Spicy Coconut Masala

Sorry, no picture. But its a reddish coconut curry.

1 lb (0.45kgs) prawns
2 tbl spn fresh/frozen coconut
9-10 red chillies (if you can handle more, increase it)
1/2 tea spn coriander seeds
3-4 teppal/triphala
2-3 kokum pieces

Grind the coconut with red chillies, coriander seeds to a very smooth paste. Do not add too much water (this would be ideal in an Indian mixer, but I made it in my blender). In a thick bottomed pan, mix the paste with prawns, kokum,triphala and salt. Cook it on a low heat till prawns are done, about 6-9 minutes. Don't overcook the prawns or they will become chewy.

12 March 2011

homemade thin crust mushroom pizza!

homemade thin crust pizza! by moreMirchi
homemade thin crust pizza! a photo by moreMirchi on Flickr.
My first pizza - very exciting. Even though it doesn't look like a prize it sure tasted good :) ofcourse, also more so since I made it! I made the pizza dough with a mix of wheat and white flour which made the dough a bit dry. Next time, I'll try with all white flour.

Makes 2 large individual sized pizzas

Pizza dough
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup luke warm water + a little more to help knead

In a big bowl, mix flour, salt and yeast. Then add the oil and water and knead for a good 4-5 mins until it forms a smooth ball of dough. Use a bit more water if the dough is too dry.

Rub the bowl with olive oil, place the ball of dough back in, cover and let sit in a warm place for a couple of hours. Longer the better until the ball has roughly doubled in size. I heated my oven to 200 deg and then shut it off to place the dough in.

After a couple of hours, gently massage the ball of dough with the palms of your hand. Then place it back in the bowl and let sit for another 20 mins.

Now, gently roll out the dough. Use your hands to stretch the dough into a rough circular or rectangular shape. The point is to get it evenly thin.

Tomato sauce
1 14-oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves crushed and minced
1 tsp oregano and thyme
1/2 cup water

In a saucepan, heat a tbsp of olive oil and cook garlic until lightly browned. Add tomato, dried herbs, water, salt and pepper. Cook down the mixture to about 1/4 cup. Now add wine and cook down the tomato mixture to about 1/4 cup.

Pizza toppings
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 cups of grated and/or thinly sliced cheese, I used a mix of Manchego and Pecorino

Assembling the pizza
Preheat oven to 500 deg. Sprinkle a bit of corn flour on a baking dish lined with aluminum foil and place the pizza dough on it. Spread the tomato sauce, mushrooms, cheese and onions. Bake for 10 mins or so until the crust is browned and crispy and the cheese is lightly bubbling. Serve with salad.

Steamed Broccoli with toasted sesame seeds

1 head broccoli, split into bit sized florets
2 tsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
a drizzle of toasted sesame seed oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam broccoli until its tender enough to spear through with a fork. In a bowl stir in the sesame seeds, oil, salt and pepper. Serve hot!

07 March 2011

Spicy eggplant and pepper in black bean sauce

3 Asian eggplants
1 red pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons chili bean paste, I got mine at Whole Foods
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Mirin or any rice wine
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
Cilantro, for garnish - scallions work well too

Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise, then slice each length into quarters. Similarly chop pepper into strips as well.

In a small bowl, mix together chicken stock, chili bean paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine, and sugar. Set aside.

Dry roast eggplant in a pan until the pieces start turning brown. This helps in making the eggplant less absorbant to oil.

In a wok, heat oil. Add eggplants, red pepper and stir-fry until outsides become golden brown and insides begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and ground red pepper and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Pour in stock-sauce mixture and mix well. Allow sauce to simmer for 2 minutes and eggplant to absorb sauce. Stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken sauce. Remove from heat, plate, and garnish.

04 March 2011

Mussels in white wine sauce

My idea of comfort food in winter is beer, frites and mussels at Hopleaf. But it is a bit of a hike from Bucktown to Uptown so here is my attempt to recreate mussels in wine sauce. Surprisingly quick and delicious!

Serves 2 main courses
2 lbs of mussels, I got them at whole foods
1 cup dry white wine or vermouth, I used the latter
1/2 cup chicken broth (or fish broth, if you have it on hand)
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup cream
3 tbsp chopped parsely
1/2 tsp dried thyme

First, if you are not using the mussels on the day of purchase - store them in a bowl over a bag of ice. Cover it with a damp cloth and place it on the bottom most shelf of the fridge where its the coolest. Be careful to not store mussels in a closed plastic bag because they need to be able to breathe. The damp cloth keeps them moist against the dryness of the fridge. They will keep for 24 hours.

When ready to cook, clean the mussels. Look for ones that are open. Tap lightly on the shell, healthy ones will close their shells, sometime pretty slowly. Those that don't close, take a quick sniff - if it smells like bad fish then discard. Few mussels will have a weedy thready thingy called a beard sticking out their side. Yank it sharply to remove. It's pretty harmless so don't obsess over getting each strand out. Run the mussels under cold water but be careful not to let stand submerged in water.
  1.  Add butter and oil to a hot pot over medium heat. When the butter melts add onion and garlic. Cook until translucent.
  2.  Add vermouth, broth, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Simmer it for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add mussels, stir and cover. Let cook for 4 mins.
  4. Add chopped parsley and cover to cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add cream, stir and turn off the heat. All the mussels should be open at this point. Discard ones that are still closed.
  6. Enjoy with crusty french peasant bread!

03 March 2011

Olive oil crisp

 by moreMirchi
a photo by moreMirchi on Flickr.
This is honestly sooo good. It is slightly savory and nutty with toasted sesame seeds and bursts of sweet with crystal sugar on it. I tried it the first time in Seattle and much to my delight found it again at a Dominick's here in Chicago.

Dressing your greens

Lately, I have been experimenting with different flavors of dressings in my salad. I really like two of the four I've tried so far and find myself going back to these often. I make a small amount, store it in an airtight glass jar and use when needed. A jar usually lasts about 4 days.

Source: America's Test Kitchen

Basic vinaigrette: makes about 1 cup
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsps red or white wine vinegar
2 tsps minced red onion (or shallot)
2 tsps Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsps minced fresh tarragon, dill, basil or oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp pepper

Variation: Balsamic vinaigrette
Substitute blasamic vinegar for the wine vinegar and use oregano. Reduce garlic to 1/2 clove.

Lemon vinaigrette
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
3 tbsps fresh lemon juice
2 tsps minced red onion
2 tsps dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsps minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Shake all the ingredients in a jar with a tight lid.

02 March 2011

Rosemary crackers

I am snacking on one as I blog the recipe. I am literally copying the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, so I can keep track of foods passing my kitchen. And she has better pictures!

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.

Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round - shape can be rustic; dough should be thin.

Lightly brush top with some oil and sprinkle sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 10 - 12 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.

26 February 2011

Arroz con camarones (Costa Rican paella)

This is a classic South American dish, called different names in different countries.

2 lbs raw shrimp, deveined
2 tsp cumin
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs canola or sunflower oil
2 cups uncooked rice (I used valencia rice)
3 tbs butter/ oil
1 red onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, peeled and seeded, diced
3 tbs parsley, finely chopped, plus more to garnish
½ cup of white wine
Salt and pepper

Marinate the shrimp with salt, pepper, 1 tsp of cumin, let it marinate for an hour.
Bring 3-4 cups of water to boil in a large pot, add the shrimp and boil for about 2 minutes. Do not overcook or the shrimp will be chewy. Remove the shrimp from the water and reserve the water they cooked in to prepare the rice.

Chop up 1/2 the shrimp into small pieces and leave the other 1/2 whole.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or pot, add the minced garlic, cook for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, parsley, salt, pepper, and remaining 1 tsp of cumin. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the white wine to the vegetable mix and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until the onions and peppers are tender. At this point, add the rice to the garlic and vegetable mix, and mix well until the rice is coated with oil. Add double the cups of water as compared to the rice. Use the water that was used to boil the shrimp. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low. Cover with a lid and allow rice to cook slowly, monitoring for water and adding a little as needed. When the rice is about 1/2 cooked, add the chopped shrimp to the cooking rice mix. Once done, add the remaining shrimp during the last minutes and mix well. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.Sprinkle with chopped parsley and garnish with shrimp with tails on.

Serve with avocado slices, tomato and onion salad, lime slices.

31 January 2011

Sri Lankan Goat Curry

I love Sri Lankan food for its spiciness and rich curries. Lip smackingly hot!

1 lb goat/ lamb, cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green chilli, diced
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
10 curry leaves
1/4 cup thick coconut milk

1 tbsp coriander pwdr
1/2 tbsp cumin pwdr
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
1 tbsp red chilli pwdr
1/2 tbsp black pepper pwdr
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

In a bowl, mix the cut meat with the marinade spices along with 1/4 cup of water to make a thick paste. Coat the meat and allow to marinate for 1/2 hour.

In a pressure cooker, take some oil and heat. Add the fenugreek seeds, green chilli and curry leaves, and when spluttering, add the onions. Allow to brown nicely. When golden, add the meat with marinade and brown on high heat for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup water and pressure cook for 10 minutes.

Once cooled, open the cooker and set back on open fire. Check salt and add as needed.
Add the 1/4 cup of coconut milk and bring to a boil. Enjoy!

23 January 2011

Chicken Stew with Kale and White Beans

I made this dish some weeks ago on a very COLD Chicago evening. Warming and hearty, and I found another use for kale! Serves 6-8.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 medium mixed potatoes; diced (I used Yukon gold, red and purple)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion; chopped
1 large shallot; minced
2 carrots; peeled and diced
6 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; finely grated
5 cups chopped kale
15-ounce can white beans; drained (the original recipe asked for cannellini beans which I could not find)
salt and pepper to taste

Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and shallot and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cubed potatoes and cook 15 minutes until softened. Add in chicken stock, thyme, chicken cut into cubes, Parmesan, salt and pepper bring to a simmer. Add the kale and beans and simmer for another 20 minutes, until the kale is tender and the beans are hot.

Enjoy with crusty bread, or on its own!

19 January 2011

Bagara baingan

Deepthi's authentic andhra recipe(sorry we ate it up before we could photograph it!)

Serves 4

8 small eggplant slit partially
Onions, 1 1/2, sliced
Green chillies, 4-5 slit lengthwise
Ginger-garlic paste, 2-3 tsp
Whole roasted peanuts, handful
Curry leaves, 10
Cilantro, handful chopped
Cinnamon, whole, 2" stick
Cloves, 2
Bay leaf, 1
Methi seeds, 1 tsp
Jeera, 1 tsp
Dhania Pwdr, 1 tsp
Haldi, 1 tsp
Chilli Pwdr, 1 tsp
Tamarind paste, 1 tsp
Salt, oil to taste

Put slit brinjals on a baking sheet and broil for 10 mins till skin is charred.

Heat oil in Wok. Add jeera, cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves, and methi seeds. When spluttering, add add onions, chillies, and brown. Add Ginger-garlic paste and cook till raw smell disappears. Add peanuts, salt. Roast for a bit and take off flame. Grind to a paste in the blender. Add back to the wok, and add tamarind and water (1cup). Put in remainder of powders. Let simmer. add the brinjals that have been broiled along with curry leaves. Let cook for 5 mins. Take off gas and garnish with dhania leaves. Enjoy with white rice!

15 January 2011

Gujarati Dal

1 cup toor dal
1/2 cup masoor dal
1/2 tomato, chopped in big pieces
1 chilli, chopped
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp chilli pwdr
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin pwdr
1/2 tsp coriander pwdr
mustard and jeera seeds, for seasoning

Cook dal with 2 cups water in a pressure cooker with the tomato, chilli, salt. Once cooked, open cooker and mash dal with additional 2 cups water. Put it back on the stove, and bring to a boil. Add the chilli, turmeric, cumin and coriander powders, lime juice and sugar. Once boiling, season with mustard and jeera seeds in oil.