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.