Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Marathi Series: Kanda Pohe & Mixed Bhaji Platter

Marathi Series: Kanda Pohe & Mixed Bhaji (Vegetable Fritters)

This is the 2nd post in the Marathi food series. You can see the reason for the Marathi series and the 1st post here.

Bhaji Platter or Fritters
Can you guess all the different vegetables in there? Answer is in the next 2 paras !

Quintessential Comfort Food: Kanda Pohe or Spicy Beaten Rice

Every time I call India these days, everyone is busy gearing up for Diwali...making sweet & savory snacks also known as Pharaal in Marathi, buying new clothes and fireworks, and sprucing up their homes among other things! My grandparents are visiting their sons and daughters in my home town of Pune, and just speaking to them over the phone makes me miss them even more :(

What I needed was down right comfort food to make up for me not celebrating Diwali with them (hopefully next yr tho...)! So off I went and cooked up some Pohe and a bhaji (also known as pakoras in Hindi) platter with onion bhaji, potato bhaji, mirchi bhaji, sweet potato bhaji and squash flower bhaji..yummmm! Now this surely was not a bad way to comfort yourself ;).

I won't post the recipe for the pohe, as there are innumerable recipes for that on the blogosphere. You can see some great versions ranging from the traditional version here to an experimental version here.

Bhaji Platter/Vegetable Fritters
1. 1/2 cup onions thinly sliced
2. 1/2 cup potatoes thinly sliced
3. 1/2 cup sweet potatoes thinly sliced
4. 4-5 green chillies or jalapenos slit open partly. Make sure to keep the ends intact
5. 1/2 cup squash flower
(You can add other vegetables like thinly sliced eggplant if you like)
6. 21/2 cups chickpea flour/besan
7. 3/4 cup water
8. 11/2 tsp corriander/dhania powder
9. 1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
10. 1 tsp red chili powder
11. 1 tsp carom seeds/ajwain (optional)
12. Salt to taste
13. 3 cups oil for frying. I use olive oil
1. Add some salt to the sliced onions and keep aside for 5-10 minutes
2. To this add all the other vegetables and the dry ingredients (minus the oil and water). Mix well and let rest for another 2-3 minutes
3. Heat oil in a deep frying pan/kadhai
4. Take a tsp of the heated oil and add it to the dry mix. Miss well. This step makes the bhajis nice and crispy!
5. Add water as needed to the mix to make a smooth yet slightly thick batter
6. Batch by batch, drop & fry to a golden brown the onions then potatoes, then sweet potatoes, then squash flowers and then the chilies covered in batter.
The chilies should be added in the end, as they tend to pop up sometimes with the seeds spreading into the oil.

Serve with mint chutney or ketchup.
Enjoy :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

They are here!!!

They are Here & Fresh Pesto Pasta!!!

The 2 books that Kalyn sent me are finally here and they are absolutely FANTASTIC!!! I 1st received the Vegetables Everyday and though that was great. But then few days later, received the Herbs & Spices: the Cook's Reference book and was in food heaven ;) Its a great book detailing spices from across the world, ranging from African to Indian to Italian to Moroccan and how you can cook with them!

I can't wait to start cooking from both these books. Kalyn, thanks a ton again for these wonderful gems!

Aren't they Beautiful?

Petso Pasta made with Fresh Basil

Inspired by the Vegetables Everyday book, cooked up some Pesto Pasta with fresh basil I have been successfully growing (quite rare for me :() for a while now. The simplicity of the pesto went so well with the multi-flavored shell pasta I picked up on my last trip to Paris. Yes, R & I are pasta snobs where we are not too fond of the wheaty, pasty pasta you get in most stores here. Though I must admit TJs and Whole Foods are quickly making that a thing of the past! w00t!

Since this was one of my few successful attempts to grow my own food, I am sending this pasta to Andrea's Grow Your Own event!
Fresh Pesto Pasta
1. 1 pound pasta of your choice. I used shell pasta
2. 3 cups fresh basil
3. 2 tablespoons pine nuts, untoasted
4. 1-2 cloves of garlic
5. 1-2 jalapeno (optional)
6. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
7. 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
8. Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
9. 1 cup dill (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta
2. In a blender, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, jalapeno and olive oil. Blend till its pureed
3. Add the cheese, salt and pepper, and blend again
4. Cook the pasta for about 3 minutes in the boiling water until al dente (should be firm to the touch)
5.Drain and transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Do not rinse the pasta as that will cause all the great nutrients in the pasta to get washed away!
6. Add the pesto and dill to the pasta and toss. Add a drizzle of oil and top with cheese, if you like.
Enjoy :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scary Fingers..Getting Ready for Halloween!

Scary Fingers..Getting Ready for Halloween!

I recently found these batty err nuts at Berkeley Bowl recently. Any ideas what they are?

Batty err Nuts!

Chicken Fingers

Who ate them all?

Given, its Halloween tomorrow, what else does one write about other than creepy, crawly, scary food!!! I was inspired by all the crawlies on Food Network which led to these awful looking, but yummy tasting chicken fingers!

Btw, Are people celebrating Halloween tomorrow? If yes, what are people planning to dress up as??? I am still unsure..have a whole bunch of costumes from the last few Halloweens ranging from a devilish angel (how original ;), to a gangster's moll to..u get the drift ;)

Scary Chicken Fingers
1. 1/2 pound chicken breast
2. 2 tsp Cajun Creole seasoning. You can use Paprika instead.
3. 1 tsp black pepper
4. 1-2 tomatoes for the nails
5. 1 tsp olive oil
6. Salt to taste
1. Clean and thaw the chicken breasts to room temperature
2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
3. Cut the chicken in thin, finger like shapes. Taper the front to be thinner than the other end
4. Season with the cajun spice (or paprika), salt and pepper
5. On a cooking sheet, drizzle some of the olive oil
6. Place the chicken fingers on the sheet. Drizzle with the remaining oil
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees
8. Cut tomatoes to small nail like shapes. Using a tooth pick piece, nail (ahem!) the tomato pieces to the chicken fingers.
Enjoy :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ode to Kalyn's veggies event

Ode to Kalyn's "Guess 2 popular veggies event"

Crostinis all laid out

Nothing beats fresh basil!

Take a bite!!

A few days ago, the wonderful Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen asked her readers to vote for the 2 most popular vegetables. I had no idea then that my simple response of Tomatoes & Basil, 2 of my all time favorite veggies would win me 2 awesome books! I just received my 1st book, Vegetables Everyday, which is filled with the most wonderfully simple vegetarian dishes. Can't wait to try them out. Thanks again Kalyn!

As a tribute to these super popular vegetables, I made my friend S's basil and tomato crostinis. Again, so simple to put together, yet packed with flavor. The combination of mozzarella with basil, tomato and some good balsamic vinegar is to die for!

Tomato Basil Crostinis
1. 1 packet mini toasts (I get mine from TJs) or bread (baguette/sour dough) cut into bite sized squares
2. Fresh mozzarella cheese
3. Fresh basil
4. Cherry tomatoes cut in half. You could also use regular tomatoes, but tastes better with the cherry tomatoes
5. Good quality balsamic vinegar. I recently bought the balsamic vinegar spray from TJs, and LUVD it, It is such a great idea as the quantity of vinegar is just right when sprayed and spreads evenly!
1. Assemble the mini toasts/bread pieces
2. Layer the mini toast with a slice of the cheese, then topped with the cherry tomato and a leaf of basil.
3. Spray/Drizzle with balsamic vinegar
And really thats it! Enjoy :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Non Fat Chips (really ;)

Non Fat Kale Chips..That ought to bring on a smile!

Very Green Kale

Ready to Eat!

Kale is a very healthy, and very versatile vegetable! It is rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. I was shocked to find that Kale was one of the most common vegetables in Europe up until the Middle Ages. Now how do I know all this? Why, thanks to Wikipedia of course !

Kale chips are extremely healthy and tasty. They have almost no fat, and in my opinion tasted better than most of those scary oily, trans fat laden chips out there! I first heard of this recipe from a nutritionist who was brought into work one day to help us all get healthy and live better (ahem!) lives. The only 2 things all of us remember from that session was this wonderful Kale chips recipe and the amazing food the nutritionist handed out at the session (tch tch..I know thats sad :()

I hope I am redeeming myself by posting this recipe, hoping someone out there will get off their potato chip addiction (I soo hope the nutritionist who tried to help us useless souls is reading this :P)!

I am sending this guilt free chip thats actually err good for you to Hima for her Whats your favorite diet food event! Check out her event if you want to purge yourself of all those tempting holiday goodies :(

Now if that doesn't make you smile, may be this will?

The Feed A Hungry Child (FAHC) campaign aims to feed every hungry children, one at a time. This was envisioned by VKN of My Dhaba. To share your smiles with children around the world, visit Vijay, Mahanadi or Jugalbandi's blog along with a few others listed on their blogs to make your contribution. As if the smile was not enough, these wonderful bloggers have thrown in some great prizes like books, spice extracts, dinners, sarees for kids n more!
Kale Chips
1. 3-4 leaves of fresh kale
2. 1 tsp Olive oil or Non fat olive oil spray
3. 1 tsp paprika powder (optional)
4. 1 tsp ground black pepper
5. Salt to taste. Make sure you use less salt that normal as kale absorbs salt, and your regular amount may render the chips to be salty
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Wash and dry the kale leaves
3. Cut/tear the kale leaves into bite sized squares. Make sure to discard the thick fleshy center
4. Lay them out on a baking sheet
5. Drizzle with olive oil
6. Top with salt, pepper and paprika (optional)
7. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or till they become crisp. Be careful as these chips bake really quick, so you may want to check after the 1st 5 minutes.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Marathi Series: Sabudana Wada

Marathi series: Sabudana Wada or Sago Fritters

Sabudana/Sago being Soaked

Sabudana/Sago Wada Land Slide

I think most of you know by now that I grew up in Pune in Maharashtra. Pune is a beautiful city which seemingly has it all: an abundance of hills, rivers, greenery and moderate climate for most part of the year. While most will point out that all that is rapidly changing with dried up river beds, construction on the hillsides, I have faith in the people of Pune who are trying to reclaim Pune's beauty. There are several initiatives in Pune to curb hillside construction, create a waterfront area that people can enjoy among other community projects around organic farming and vermi-composting!

I will be posting easy to make dishes from my hometown and state off and on this month. Why you ask...may be its the nostalgia of missing home during the soon to arrive festive season of Dassera / Diwali, lots of family birthdays and just an ode to the city I love!!

The 1st in the series is the ever popular Sabudana Wada or Pearl Sago fritters which are usually eaten when one is fasting! I know, with a meal like this one, I can fast all year round ;). More fasting recipes and details can be found in an earlier post here.

Several fellow bloggers have done an amazing job with the same dish. Check out 2 of my favorite versions at Tee's and Manasi's blog.

Sabudana Wada/Sago Fritters
1. 2 cups sago/sabudana
2. 2 medium sized boiled potatoes,
3. 2-3 green chilies finely grated
4. 1/2 cup coriander leaves
5. 1/2 cup peanut powder
6. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
7. 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
8. 1-2 pinch sugar (optional)
9. Salt to taste,
10. 3-4 cups oil for frying
1. Soak sabudana in water. Drain off all the water and keep overnight
2. Mash the boiled potatoes.
3.Combine sabudana, chili paste, mashed potatoes, coriander leaves, peanut powder, cumin seeds, sugar, lemon juice. Mix well
4. Make small balls of the mixture and flatten them slightly.
6. Heat the oil in a pan.
7. Deep fry these vadas till golden brown and crispy.
Serve with Peanut Chutney

Peanut Chutney
1. 2 tsp red chili powder (add more if you like more spice)
2. 2 cups plain yogurt
3. 1/2 cup coarsely ground peanut (make sure the peanuts are roasted prior to grinding them)
4. Salt to taste
1. Mix together red chili powder with ground roasted peanuts and salt.
2. Add plain yogurt and mix well
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cookies 2 way: Saffron & Coffee, Saffron & Orange

Cookies 2 way: Saffron & Coffee, Saffron & Orange

Coffee & Orange Cookies

As promised, I am writing more on the Blogging by mail event. The contents of the package I sent consisted of my home made saffron and coffee cookies, my mom's Kolhapuri masala, organic Japanese cacao and some local fresh produce from my farmer's market. I am a huge fan of the local farmers market which has introduced me to some incredible tasting vegetables and fruits which elevate cooking and eating to a whole new level! You can read Becke's comments on the package I sent her here!!

This is what I sent for the the blogging by mail event

Beautiful honey from my local market

Indian chutneys and sauces made and packaged 10 miles away!

I have posted some of the recipes made using my mom's Kolhapuri masala which I consider worth its weight in gold ;) in some of my earlier posts that you can see here and here. Today, I wanted to share cookies I sent Becke, that use another spice worth its weight in gold, yes the beautiful saffron!

I adapted the recipe from Nupur's original holiday nankhatai recipe. I wanted to make it lower in fat, so replaced the butter with oil and sugar with honey. The end result was crunchy cookies, where the taste was elevated by the addition of saffron and coffee!

As suggested by Asha and the Happy Cook (thanks guys!), I am sending this to Sunita's Think Spice event, where this month's theme is what else, the amazing Saffron!

Saffron & Coffee Cookie (adapted from Nupur's original Nankhatai recipe)
1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
2. 1/4 cup honey or 3/4 cup powdered sugar
3. 1/2 cup olive oil
4. 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
5. 4 tsp brewed coffee (add more if you want a stronger coffee flavor)
6. 1 tbsp cup slivered almonds, toasted
7. 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
8. 1/2 tsp. cardamom
9. 1/4 tsp saffron soaked in milk
10. Pinch of salt
For decoration:
1. Almond slices
2. Saffron strands
1. Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees
2. Mix all the ingredients into the dough. Knead very gently to form a dough, using a little water if necessary
2. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes if it is too sticky. Form small balls with the dough
3. Flatten each ball to form a fat disc
4. Decorate with almonds and saffron strands
5. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes till the bottom of the cookie is just browning
6. Turn off the oven and let the cookies stay inside the warm oven till the top is slightly golden
7. Remove and let cool on a rack.

Saffron & Orange Cookie (adapted from Nupur's original Nankhatai recipe)
1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
2. 1/4 cup honey or 3/4 cup powdered sugar
3. 1/2 cup olive oil
4. 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
5. 1 tsp good quality orange extract (add more if you want a stronger orange flavor)
6. 1 tbsp cup slivered almonds, toasted
7. 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
8. 1/2 tsp. cardamom
9. 1/4 tsp saffron soaked in milk
10. Pinch of salt
For decoration:
1. Almond slices
2. Saffron strands
1. Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees
2. Mix all the ingredients into the dough. Knead very gently to form a dough, using a little water if necessary
2. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes if it is too sticky. Form small balls with the dough
3. Flatten each ball to form a fat disc
4. Decorate with almonds and saffron strands
5. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes till the bottom of the cookie is just browning
6. Turn off the oven and let the cookies stay inside the warm oven till the top is slightly golden
7. Remove and let cool on a rack.
Enjoy :)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Banana-Papaya Bread with Dried Figs

Banana-Papaya Bread with Dried Figs

My friend S and I decided to bake up a banana bread recently. I was in charge of getting the bananas. Somewhere along the way I got real hungry and ate 1 of the 3 bananas I was supposed to get :(.

Now armed with just 2 bananas in place of the requisite 3, I sheepishly walked over to S's house only to have her promptly come up with a solution...why we can add some papaya to it instead! I had my doubts about the papaya addition, but who was I to say anything given that I had eaten part of the MAIN ingredient..doh!

The end result was that the papaya complimented the bananas just perfectly in this simple yet very tasty banana bread. We eventually got so excited that we started experimenting with chocolate chips in the 2nd loaf (bad idea so won't provide that recipe here ;).

This banana-papaya bread goes to Ahaar's JFI: Bananas event originally conceptualized by the amazing Indira!

Banana-Papaya Bread

1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
2. 2 cups over ripe bananas, mashed well
3. 1 cup ripe papaya, mashed (optional, you can replace this with 1/2 cup of mashed banana)
4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
6. 1/2 cup butter (you can replace this with olive oil for a healthier version)
7. 3/4 cup brown sugar
8. 2 eggs, beaten (feel free to use 2 cups of ostrich egg ;))
9. 1/2 cup dried figs or any other nuts/dried fruit you have at hand

1. Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar
3. Stir in eggs, mashed bananas, papaya and dried fig until well blended
4. Gently stir this mixture into flour mixture where it just moistens
5. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes or until brown.Insert a toothpick into center of the loaf, where if it comes out clean, the bread is ready to eat!
7. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove, slice and eat
Enjoy :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ostrich Egg Frittata

Ostrich Egg Frittata

We got this humongous egg home one day, half expecting a baby dinosaur to come out of it the longer we refused to crack it open. When we finally did, we were rewarded with a bounty of wonderfully tasty and healthy (lower in cholesterol) version of the regular egg!
Camera used to take the pics below: Non-SLR. Olympus Digital, C-720 Ultra Zoom.
That's what it looked like when we got it

Hammer, chisel? It actually came with instructions!!

Yes, ALL that from one ostrich egg!

This is what we did with it :)

I have been meaning to write about my Ostrich egg escapades for a while now. Just as I am about to do that, I notice that Jai and Bee's 1st photography event theme is EGGS!! Serendipity anyone?

I am sending this eggstatic post Jai & Bee's way. For those who have not tried ostrich egg before, it pretty much tastes like regular egg, only 1 Ostrich egg tastes like 21 of the regular ones ;). Yup, thats right 1 ostrich egg yields yolk and egg-white equivalent to 21 regular eggs :)

Now how did we come about an ostrich egg you may ask. Well, R and I were on a tour of the California missions starting from San Francisco and going all the way down to Santa Barbara when we spotted an ostrich farm on the way! What again? Yes, an ostrich farm where they raise ostriches and allow people to go feed them. The brave ones who decided to go feed the large birds were given a LONG list of Dos and Donts (well Donts mostly :)).

R was just fascinated by the ostrich egg shell and was about to buy just the shell, when the person raising the ostrich convinced him to buy the actual egg with its goodness all intact instead. I kept nodding very vigorously, but alas R was already like a lil kid asking her all kinds of questions as to how many eggs does an ostrich lay in a week, do they protect them like mammals do etc etc. At that time I knew this was a lost cause..oh well...next thing I knew we had this HUGE (understatement!) egg sitting in our backpack where we were instructed to err keep it warm and covered???

Now the moment I heard the words keep it warm and covered, I had scary visions of a lil ostrich staring at us from the back of our car by the time we got home!
Well all ended well with us discovering the joys of ostrich egg, and for some reason we came away wondering if everyone raised ostriches instead of chicken, would that reduce the need to buy eggs as often as we do??? Hmm....now thats a thought, silly one albeit ;)

Kanchana of Married to a Desi was nice enough to highlight eggs as this month's WBB event event originally conceptualized by our favorite neighborhood doc Nandita. This way we get to click our eggs and eat them too ;). Am sending this ostrichy frittata her way!

Ostrich Frittata
1. 4 cups of ostrich egg well beaten. Alternatively you can use 4 regular eggs.
2. 1 cup peeled, cleaned shrimp
3. 1 cup broccoli cut into florets
4. 1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and chopped thinly
5. 1 tsp Black pepper
6. 2 tsp cajun spice (or paprika)
7. 1 tsp olive oil
8. Salt to taste
1. Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees
2. In a deep vessel, add all the ingredients above and mix well
3. Spray a thick bottom skillet with oil
4. Add the mixture to the skillet and let cook in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes of till the egg turns brown
5. Once cooked, cut into wedges and serve.
I served this with some garlic bread. Made for a very satisfying meal!
Enjoy :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Modaks, modaks everywhere!

Modaks, modaks everywhere

Modaks Galore

Waiting to be Fried

Last day of the Ganesh festival

Today was the last day of the Ganesh festival. It was so great having friends hop over for the evening aartis...felt very festive and a small taste of the festival in India. I made some modaks for this occasion, and it turned out to be one sweet journey with friends bringing over yummy besan laddoos, cashew laddoos, a variety of fresh fruits and chocolates!! Boy do I love festivals :)

Besan Laddoos made by my friend T

Incidentally, I was in India (Mumbai) 2 days prior to the actual festival start date, and boy was the city already geared up for the big event! Huge pandals with people working till the wee hours of the morning putting in the final touches....aah pure nostalgia :)

I have previously posted the recipe for Modaks as well as additional information on them a while back, which you can check out here :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Back from Mexico...gourmet heaven :)

Back from Mexico!

Apologies for the long blogging silence, but the main reason is that I have been extremely busy with a lot of travel (fun and work related) and dealing with the amazing response to the new product we just launched.

I will be back with more posts soon. In the meanwhile enjoy the food from our recent trip to Cabo in Mexico :)

When in Mexico...

Simple homemade tacos

Unbelievable crab at Alexander's

Lobster, lobster everywhere!!

Isn't it g8 when your food is grilled right by your table?

Margarita time...

Where the Mayan civilization comes alive...

Papaya Margaritas at the famous Hotel California

The OTHER hurricane ;) and it says DP!!

Street side food

Can't wait to go back....

Idyllic Beaches