Roz Ka Khana

A blog about everyday food. Mostly Indian. All vegetarian.

Snappy Salads – Lemony Kale Salad

This catchy title from MindBodyGreen caught my eye recently. “A Salad That Makes Even The Skeptics Fall In Love With Kale”:). So there it was. My next salad inspiration. I took this for lunch last week and am not being cliched when I say “I licked this salad clean.” Yes. This is the best kale salad I have tried. And in making it I also discovered how the natural flavors of kale can be accentuated.

The secret to making the perfect kale salad is this – Massage that kale. Use your bare hands. I think what makes kale salads so gratifying is that you literally use your senses to make it. No tongs, no fancy equipment, just roll those sleeves and use your fingers to press the kale leaves and rub them together. With or without the dressing.The process of massaging apparently breaks down the cellulose in the kale leaves and makes them soft and pliable, so when you douse them with dressing and any other flavors they take to them easily. I already have a kale “fetish” thanks to the oodles of green smoothies I have been consuming but this just took my kale love to new heights.

Note: The pictures don’t do enough justice to how delectable this salad is, and the fact that I didn’t slice the onions didn’t help to make it look as appetizing as well but this is one time I will guarantee it is worth the try. You will begin to LOVE kale:). Oh and did I mention this goes very well with Indian dishes too.

Enough gushing I suppose, here’s the recipe.

Serves 2 to 3 people
Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches Lacinato kale (also called “Tuscan” or “Dinosaur” kale)
  • 1-2 lemons, squeezed
  • 3-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Half cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 large white onion, sliced thin. I used red onion and chopped it fine and it was equally good so depends on how strong you like your onion flavors.
  • Olive Oil, to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Method:

  • Thinly slice the onion.
  • Take the crushed garlic into a bowl, and combine with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Add the sliced onions to the mix, douse with a healthy amount of olive oil and balsamic, mix well and set aside to marinate.

IMG_0902.JPG

  • Take the kale and strip the leaves off the stem. (You can check this video from Marin Mama Cooks on how to prep the kale). Break the leaves into bite sized pieces into a salad bowl.

IMG_0900.JPG

  • Squeeze one lemon directly onto the kale. Now begin to massage the kale, rubbing them together or using whatever technique you like, but ensure that the leaves get coated well. The kale will reduce in size and become smooth. You may taste the leaves here. If you still find them to be bitter, then add more lemon and keep massaging till the taste gets all lemony.

IMG_0899.JPG

  • Now heat a skillet and add the pumpkin seeds. You may add some coconut oil to the skillet to roast the seeds or just roast them dry. Once the seeds turn golden, remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

IMG_0903.JPG

  • Now add the marinated onions into the kale bowl, and throw in the cooled pumpkin seeds. You can massage the leaves again to ensure the leaves are coated well with the dressing. You may also add more salt, pepper, oil, or lemon until you find that perfect flavor.

IMG_0901.JPG

I had saved some leftovers at home but the salad was gone before I could try it again for dinner. The original recipe says that this salad only gets batter with age so keeping it in the refrigerator and eating the next day will enhance the flavors of the citrus and kale even more.Sadly we didn’t have any left to try this but that’s a good problem to have I suppose:).

Snappy Salads – Cucumber, Tomato and Feta, a Watercress Slaw , Home Made Dressings and more

After a week of binge desserts, festival food and family gatherings for Diwali post a whirlwind trip to India, I needed to quickly get back on the real food wagon. Oodles of sweets and savories, jaggery laden manoharams, murrukkus, gulab jamuns- top these with food coma induced naps countered with jet lag and a crazy road trip, and I was back to needing another vacation.

It’s amazing how your body begins to tell you (more like when you listen to it:) when you fall off the wagon and what it needs to get back on track. For the 10 days that I was filling my body with whatever was in front of me, it showed in my energy levels and my skin. I returned with breakouts, allergies, sinus headaches and all that I thought I had left behind months ago. Not that I wasn’t eating sweets and such in general – I‘m a big believer of eating everything in moderation, but a healthy balance of exercise and greens was doing the trick so far for me. It has now taken a full 10 days to get my schedule and energy back with my favorite green smoothies, juices, and greens.

So I figured I would get started with updating my salad repository or rather actually trying the many salad recipes I have stored in my Evernote files. I’ve been an avid user of Evernote of late, on my desktop and phone. I find it extremely useful when I’m browsing through my various news feeds and find anything that catches my eye, and this could be a list of books, articles, quotes, anything that tickles my funny bone and my palate. The best part – I can sync my notes with my tablet and phone and access my notes anywhere. So I have collected over 450 notes so far, more than half of which are recipes of course. I find this very handy when I’m planning my weekly lunch and dinner menus to pick from the various folders that I have saved recipes into- it’s a virtual cookbook that I can access from anywhere :)

This week, we had watercress and carrot slaw with home-made orange vinaigrette, and vegetable soup (with sandwich for those who wanted some extra heavy carbs) for dinner on Monday night. Today I toted along a cucumber tomato feta salad for lunch. You can use the second salad as an accompaniment to an Indian meal if you leave out the feta.

I used a useful gadget called the Salad Zinger to make the orange vinaigrette and it was amazing. Recommend the buy if you’re a gadget freak like me;) though you can still make it in your good old blender.

IMG_0795.JPG

Here are the recipes.

Watercress, green apple and carrot salad/slaw (Serves 2)

  • Watercress – a big bunch, chopped
  • Red cabbage – 1 /4 , grated
  • Carrots – 2, grated
  • Cherry tomatoes – 6-7, halved
  • Green apple – 1, grated

Orange vinaigrette dressing:

  • Navel oranges – 1, deseeded and quartered
  • Red onion, a small slice
  • Parsley, a small bunch about 1/8 cup
  • Garlic pod – 1
  • Olive oil – ¼ cup
  • Red wine vinegar – 2 tbsp
  • Honey – 1 tbsp

For making the vinaigrette in the Salad Zinger, you will need to fill the first 4 dry ingredients in the bottom half of the gadget and screw the blades and bottom back on. Fill the top part with the liquid ingredients, shake the contraption and let the juices from the orange, onion mixture seep into the olive vinegar mixture. Let it sit for at least a half hour before adding to the slaw.

IMG_0794.JPG

Alternatively you can coarsely chop the first 4 ingredients in a blender, add it to a bottle and fill the bottle with the wet ingredients. Let steep for a half hour before serving.

Take the grated veggies in a bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine.

Cucumber, tomato and feta salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of cucumber, coarsely chopped
  • 7-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Mint leaves, 2-3 tbsp, chopped
  • Scallions, 2, chopped with the leaves
  • Green olives, ¼ cup
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:

  • Lemon juice, 1 tbsp
  • Olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Mix the cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, mint in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt as feta is salty by itself. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss and sprinkle the crumbled feta before you serve.

IMG_0818.JPG

Eating in the Raw — Rasam week – Pachi Pulusu (Raw Spiced Tamarind broth)

IMG_0479.JPG

In keeping with Rasam week, I wanted to try something I had been meaning to try for ages, since I tasted it for the first time in my friend Harini’s home almost 10 years ago. This is a typical Telangana dish that Harini made for us for dinner one evening and the dish was so flavorful it stuck. Simple to make yet I somehow never got to really try it in my own kitchen until this week. This pulusu or broth is fully raw and needs no heating or boiling. It’s the tadka or popu or tempering that gives it its unique kick and flavor. The tartness of the tamarind and spice of the red chili with garlic along with a hint of jaggery and a secret ingredient to finish is what makes this dish different from any rasam/pulusu you may have tasted . Eat it with hot rice, ghee and mudda pappu or thick spiced tuvar dal and it is a combination that will live on your taste buds for a long long time.Like it did for me for over a decade:). This recipe is Harini’s contribution to Roz Ka Khana and though I’m sure it doesn’t come close to the way she or her in laws make it in their home, it hopefully is a decent first attempt. .

Ingredients for Pachi Pulusu:

Serves 4. Prep time : 15 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • Tamarind – 1 small lemon sized ball, soaked in warm water.
  • Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
  • Fore tempering:
  • Mustard seeds- 2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1 tsp
  • Dry red chilies – 3-4
  • Green chili – 3-4 sliced thin
  • Red onion, chopped fine – 1/4
  • Garlic, crushed or chopped fine – 3 small or 2 big
  • Curry leaves – a sprig
  • Roasted sesame seed powder – 1 tsp
  • Cilantro, chopped – 1 bunch
  • Cream or whole milk – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Oil- 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Squeeze the juice from the soaked tamarind and add enough water to it to make about 2 cups. Add salt to taste and the jaggery and mix well.
  2. Heat oil in a small pan, when hot add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the jeera, red chilies and curry leaves. Add garlic, green chilies. Saute for 1 minute.
  3. Pour the tempering over the tamarind water. Add chopped onions and cilantro for garnish.
  4. Add the roasted sesame powder.
  5. As a final touch, add 1 tsp of cream or whole milk and give it a quick mix before you serve. (The cream compensates for the tartness of the tamarind. You can avoid this step if you don’t like the idea of adding milk to the pulusu or are vegan).

Serve with rice, ghee and pappu (yellow tuvar dal tempered with mustard seeds, jeera and curry leaves). It’s called “mudda pappu” as it is meant to be thick when mixed with rice so the pulusu is a runny and tangy accompaniment. According to Harini, spinach dal (paalak pappu) and moong dal spiced are also great accompaniments for pachi pulusu. Will try that next and let you know:)

Coming up next for Rasam week is Inji (Ginger) Rasam.

 

A Week of Rasams – Recipes for Garlic Rasam and Lemon Rasam

After a bustling festive season it’s “Rasam Week” at our home. As I’ve mentioned here in my very first post, Rasam is one of our ultimate comfort foods. It’s the dish we turn to when we crave a home cooked meal, the dish we make when we want to “detox” and the one we cook as an accompaniment for a traditional South Indian occasion. Rasam is quite the ubiquitous and well loved South Indian dish. Typically a clear broth spiced with different flavors, rasam is another word for juice or shall we say the essence of all South Indian food:)

It was Girish’s turn to plan the weekly menu since he is home for a full week after ages. And here’s what his menu looked like.

South Indian style oatmeal for breakfast and Rasam for dinner. Every. Single. Day. :)

Yes I am married to someone who can eat the same thing for days – thank heavens. As long as it’s one of his favorite dishes.
Makes it easy for planning and cooking so let’s be immensely grateful for that shall we?:) Here’s to someone who is fuss free when it comes to meal planning. I repeat, as long as it’s one of his choice dishes. He is still quite the food critic so let me just say it’s safest to stick with the requested menu:)

So I thought I would chronicle the types of rasams while I was at it. The garlic rasam is a house favorite and is exactly the way my mother in law (the queen of rasams in the family) makes it. Also one of Nikhil’s favorite dishes and a common request from him when he craves Indian comfort food.

The lemon rasam recipe is adapted from Chandra Padmanabhan’s cookbook “Dakshin“. I have tried making lemon rasam many times before but I found this method to be the best. I suppose the garnish of crushed black pepper and cumin topped with lemon is what adds to this rasam’s burst of flavor. Whatever the type of rasam, it’s best enjoyed with some hot (white or brown) rice, a dollop of fresh ghee and some cooked dry vegetable as a side. We love urulai roast (roasted potato), the way Amma makes it though you could try this one (Chettinad urulai roast) and the cauliflower fry as a yum side too.

Recipe for Garlic Rasam:

IMG_0468

Ingredients: (for 4)

  • Garlic cloves – 3 big or 4-5 small
  • Cilantro – a small bunch plus 1/4 cup chopped leaves
  • Black pepper – 3/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Tamarind – a small line sized ballGarlic rasam powder (store bought) – 1 tsp (you may also use regular rasam powder)

For tempering:

  • Ghee – 2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – a sprig
  • Dry red Arbol chili – 1
  • Garlic – 1 chopped fine.

Method:
1. Soak the tamarind in warm water for about 5 minutes till it softens. Make a pulp of the tamarind, strain out any fibres or seeds and add enough water to make about 1 1/4 cups of tamarind pulp. (more than what you see in the picture.)

IMG_0054

2. Take the garlic pods, the cilantro bunch, black pepper and cumin seeds in a blender, with a tbsp of water and grind to a fine paste.

IMG_0066
3. Take the tamarind water in a heavy vessel (I use a special vessel called Iyya Chombu – made of an alloy of metals- used to make rasams traditionally.)

IMG_0053

4. Add the rasam powder, half of the cilantro and let the mixture come to a slow boil on a medium flame. This will take about 5-7 minutes, till the raw smell of the tamarind and the rasam powder goes away.

5. Now add the garlic pepper cumin paste to the tamarind water. You may add another 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water here. Add salt. I usually taste at this stage to check for salt/sourness etc. Adjust with water, salt accordingly.

6. Let the mixture boil for about 5-7 minutes till the raw garlic smell goes away.

7. Add chopped cilantro, and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

8. Heat about 2 tsp ghee (clarified butter or brown butter) in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds when ghee is hot. After they splutter add the cumin seeds, red chili and curry leaves. Add the chopped garlic. Saute for a minute, and then add the tempering to the rasam. Cover the rasam with a lid until you are ready to serve, This keeps the flavors of the tempering (tadka/popu/talithaal/chonk/bagar) intact and lets them infuse in the rasam.

Enjoy with hot rice, a dollop of ghee and the vegetable side dish of your choice. Divine.

 

Recipe for Lemon Rasam (didn’t click the pictures in time for this one but will add them eventually;)

Ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup toor dal cooked
  • 3/4 cup vine ripe cherry tomatoes chopped (I find cherry tomatoes give the best flavor though you can use vine ripe regular tomatoes as well)
  • Juice of 1 big lemon
  • a small bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ” piece ginger grated
  • 4 green chilies
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3/4 tsp rasam powder

For tempering:

  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp asafetida
  • 1 dry red arbol chile
  • a sprig of curry leaves

Method:

  1. Take the ginger and green chilies in a small blender and blend to a smooth paste.
  2. Powder the cumin seeds and black peppercorn in a coffee grinder or mortal pestle. I prefer this to be a smooth powder too though you may grind it to a coarse powder if you like the texture in the rasam.
  3. Take the cooked dal in the iyya chombu, add about 1 1/2 cups of water, salt, turmeric powder. You may add more water depending on the taste. Adjust salt accrodingly.
  4. Add the tomatoes and the ginger chile paste to the mixture. I also add the rasam powder at this time. Sprinkle some chopped cilantro. Let the mixture come to a slow boil, until the raw smell of the rasam powder and tomatoes are boiled away. (Rasam powder is optional, I add  a small amount just for the flavor, but you can get by without it).
  5. Now heat the ghee in a separate pan, add all the ingredients for the tempering. Add 1 tsp of the powdered cumin-black pepper powder to the ghee and then turn off the heat. Add the tempering to the rasam.
  6. Add the lemon juice to the rasam and mix. Garnish with more chopped cilantro.

IMG_0477.JPG

Easy Tomato Gothsu (Tomato Stew) – without onion or garlic

It’s the season of Navaratri (festival of Nine Nights) and besides the daily offerings of jaggery laden sweets and protein packed sundals (savory dish made with legumes) to the Goddess, I have to get creative with the daily menu. As with most temple offerings the food cooked during these 9 days is meant to be “saatwik” or strong in the sattwa guna or purity, leading to clarity and equanimity of the mind.

It can be debated as to how the list even originated as it dates back to Ayurveda and food that ancient Yogis consumed. The list we know of includes fresh leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains, legumes, interestingly diary (raw milk from happy cows :), ghee (clarified butter), raw honey etc. Meat and its by products, some pungent vegetables including onion and garlic were avoided as they were meant to stimulate the tamasik qualities leading to dullness of the mind and body. For the Yogis this was meant to be detrimental to their spiritual aspirations.

As I mentioned before I didn’t really fully understand (and still have some q’s) why some vegetables scientifically considered  healthy (like onion and garlic) were excluded from this diet. I do get the meat exclusion to some extent as it follows the doctrine of “you are what you eat” and the relationship between food and the mind. I suppose you could use the same logic to the other foods too?

Oh well. As for me, I tend to consider these 9 days as an excuse to undergo a detox of the body and mind. If you look at that explanation scientifically too Navaratri falls at the juncture of two seasons, when the fall season recedes and and winter season sets in (in the Northern hemisphere). There is a shift in pattern with nature too, the plants shed their leaves, fruits fall and go into a non productive mode, grains are being harvested and so on. The body (and mind) needs to undergo a periodic cleanse to get stronger for sustaining the bleak winter months. Hence the detox during this season which conveniently aligns with the festival too. Traditionally Navaratri is meant to be a time to fast and/or eat sparingly to allow the body to detox.

Isn’t it ironical that detoxes are becoming so popular in today’s times and when you really “peel the onion” (no pun intended;) they are manifestations of what the ancient Sutras and Ayurveda dictated eons ago? Suddenly Yogic practices, Ayurveda are becoming fashionable, a fad and fasting and detox diets once originally done for spiritual reasons are becoming a sought after lifestyle. We have come a full circle and the goal interestingly is the same. To be healthy and strong in body and mind.

So the many offerings to the Goddesses are made as saatwik as possible and for the same spiritual and possibly convenience reasons it trickles down into the daily menu as well.

Today’s prasadam (offering) was Venn Pongal, a traditional South Indian porridge made during festivals but also a filling breakfast or lunch dish. Made with rice and yellow mung beans, it packs enough fibre and protein to balance out the carbs. And garnished with dollops of ghee (clarified butter), another nutritious good fat packed with Vitamins A, D and K.

As an accompaniment for the Venn Pongal I made a Thakkali Gothsu or Spicy Tomato Stew. Super easy to make and quite a tasty accompaniment to the venn pongal, this is a recipe I learned from Amma (my mom). This dish can be made with onions too but for today I made it without them for all the reasons mentioned above:)

IMG_0371.JPG

Ingredients:

Medium sized tomatoes on the vine – 4, finely chopped

Green chilies – 4-5, slit

Curry leaves – a sprig

Jeera or cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Asafetida – a pinch

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Sambar powder – 2 -3 tsp (depending on spice level)

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Cinatro – 1 small bunch chopped

Oil – 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Method:

1. Heat oil in a pan. When hot add the mustard seeds. After they begin to splutter add the jeera and asafetida.

2. Add the slit green chilies and curry leaves.

IMG_0363.JPG

3. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder. Mix well and sauté for 2 minutes.

IMG_0364.JPG

4. Add the sambar powder, mix, add let cook for about 2-3 minutes.

IMG_0365.JPG

5. Add about 1/4 cup of warm water and cook again for 5-7 minutes till it all begins to come together in a thin chutney like consistency.

IMG_0366.JPG

6. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Note: If you’re adding onions, add one medium sliced onion finely chopped, and add it right after the step where you sauté the green chilies and curry leaves. Sauté well till they turn translucent before you add the tomatoes.

IMG_0368.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Snack – Spicy Sprouts chaat on Toast

This is for one of those muggy and rainy days when you crave something spicy with a hot cup of chai or green tea:).
It can also double as a breakfast dish if you prep ahead and have sprouts ready to go by day 2 (soak the mung beans in water overnight, drain the water the next day and transfer the beans to a moist cloth. Keep it covered for a day till see you begin to see the sprouting happen).

Ingredients:

  • Sprouted mung beans – 1 cup
    Whole wheat or multigrain or gluten fee bread – 2 slices
    Olive oil – 1 tsp
    Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
    Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
    Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
    Chat masala powder – 1/2 tsp
    Salt to taste
  • Small red onion – 1/2 finely chopped
  • Green chilly – 1-2 finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Curry leaves -6-8
    Chopped cilantro – 1/4 cup
  • Home made green chutney (recipe here). You may also use store bought.

Method:

1. Mix the chopped onions, green chilly and cilantro in a bowl. Add the chat masala and lemon juice to this mixture. Keep this aside while you prep the moong sprouts.

IMG_2580.JPG
2. Heat about 1 tsp olive oil or rice bran oil in a pan. When the oil is hot add the cumin seeds.
3. After the seeds sizzle add the curry leaves and the moong sprouts and sauté for about two minutes till the spices get well mixed and the sprouts are slightly cooked.

IMG_2579.JPG

IMG_2581.JPG

4. Take 2 bread slices and lightly toast them on a skillet. I prefer this method of toasting to the toaster as it keeps the toast soft while still browning it.

IMG_2582.JPG

5. Spread some homemade green chutney (recipe here) over a slice of toast. Add the moong sprout mixture on top and garnish with more cilantro. You may also add some nylon sev (available in Indian stores) as garnish for a crunchy bite.

IMG_2583.JPG

 

IMG_2584.JPG

 

Vegetarian (Thai) Green Curry

It’s been a great summer so far and for once I didn’t seem to want school to start. The fact that I didn’t get to spend my entire summer with Nikhil may partly or wholly have to do with it. He was on a trip to the US this summer – all by “his self” as he used to say when he was younger:). I know – we were either bold or crazy, but the distance did make the heart grow wayy fonder:) …I’m still reveling in the afterglow of the impromptu hugs (which he wouldn’t be caught dead doing in public of course) and the occasional niceties. And so it wasn’t entirely surprising that he got to be the creator of the weekly menu last week. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all his choice and I was pleasantly surprised (and secretly proud) that he chose healthy and even some gluten free dishes for our dinners:).

The best part – I got to finally get out of the usual menu rut and try some new dishes all over again. It was Thai Green Curry night one evening and we were both proud of how good it turned out;). There’s nothing more satisfying than watching plates being (literally) licked clean:).

The green curry paste recipe is  inspired from Love Food Eat’s lovely blog. I made very few changes but most of the recipe is similar. I wanted to use Thai basil originally but couldn’t find it in time for dinner, so like the original recipe I used sweet basil but also added a sprig of mint. Sweet basil does change the taste slightly but adding mint gives it the bite that Thai basil adds. Also, as the original  post suggests, do make sure you use only the authentic Thai ingredients like Galangal (young ginger), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and Thai basil leaves. Do not try other substitutions or you will compromise on the taste.

IMG_2452.JPGIngredients for the green curry paste (this makes enough for about 6 people. You can also make and freeze for use later)

  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, roughly chopped
  • 1 inch galangal (young ginger), roughly chopped
  • 10-15 thai green chilies
  • 3-4 chopped kafir lime leaves
  • 3 tbsp chopped basil leaves (if using sweet basil, use 2 tbsp of basil and 1 tbsp of mint)
  • 8 garlic pods
  • 3 chopped shallots
  • a sprig of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tamari or nama shoyu or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper

IMG_2443.JPG

 

IMG_2442.JPGMethod: Grind all the above to a fine paste using no water as far as possible. I used about 1-2 tbsp of warm water only to mix the ingredients or if the blender wouldn’t spin, but do use sparingly.

IMG_2444.JPG

IMG_2447.JPGIngredients for Green Curry:

  • 2 carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch matchsticks
  • Enoki mushrooms – 1 bunch roughly chopped
  • Baby corn – 6-7, sliced thin
  • Broad beans (I used these instead of snow peas and the taste was good) – 1/2 cup, chopped into 1 inch pieces.
  • Tofu (extra firm)- 1/2cup chopped into cubes
  • Red bell pepper – 3/4, roughly chopped into 1 inch pieces.
  • Coconut milk – 1 cup
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 3-4 green chilies, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • Water, as needed for consistency
  • Salt to taste.

Method:

  1. Blanch or steam the veggies.
  2. Heat oil in a vessel, add the crushed garlic when the oil is hot. Add the green chilies.

IMG_2448.JPG

  1. Now add the green curry paste and fry on a medium flame till the curry paste blends with the oil and garlic and the raw smell goes away.

IMG_2449.JPG

IMG_2450.JPG

  1. Add about 1/2 cup water, then add the steamed veggies. Mix well and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 3-5 minutes. Add soy sauce as needed. Make sure that the mixture does not come to a boil but simmers on a medium flame.
  3. Add the tofu. Add salt and sugar to taste.
  4. Garnish with fresh basil and cilantro (optional).

Serve hot over white or brown rice.

IMG_2451.JPG

 

 

Pulut Hitam – Sticky Black Rice Pudding

Desserts made with sticky black rice are a specialty of Southeast Asia. This unpolished, short-grain rice is often labeled as glutinous rice, a reference to its consistency when cooked and not to its gluten content. The color isn’t black either, which becomes obvious when you start to wash it. The grains stain the water a deep wine and turn purplish when cooked.

It wasn’t until I started researching black rice that I discovered its health benefits. The pigment comes from anthocyanins, antioxidants found also in purple vegetables and fruits such as beetroot, blackberries, and mangosteen. Besides fiber, black rice is also rich in iron.

I first tasted sweetened black rice as a filling in a dumpling. However, a more popular black rice dessert, especially in Malaysia and Singapore, is pulut hitam (Malay for black glutinous rice), a mélange of the grain, coconut milk, and palm sugar.

This is not your traditional, mushy rice pudding. Black rice is far more assertive – it has a nutty flavor and retains some bite when cooked as the husks are still intact. This also means it requires more water and takes much longer to cook than its polished white counterpart so a bit of planning is necessary. But once you’re done with that stage, the dish requires very little effort.

The other nice thing about pulut hitam is that it allows you to experiment. You can use virtually any type of sugar. I have used the Indian jaggery and brown sugar with equal success. Pandan leaf (screwpine leaf) is the traditional flavoring ingredient but you can add cardamom pods or vanilla. You can also substitute the coconut milk with pouring or whipped cream, fruit puree, or even custard. The dessert pairs well with many fruits. Try mango or banana slices, or lychee for an exotic twist.

Ingredients:

  • 200 g black glutinous rice
  • 200 g palm sugar (gula melaka) or jaggery (unrefined cane sugar), or brown sugar to taste
  • 6-8 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150 ml coconut milk

 

Optional

  • Two pandan leaves or three cardamom pods, skinned and crushed
  • Coconut cream and fruits to serve

20140710-094155-34915862.jpg

 

1. Toast the rice in a frying pan or low oven to bring out the aroma. Wash and soak it for a couple of hours.

2. If you’re cooking the rice on an open fire, cover it with water and bring it to the boil. Add the pandan leaves, turn the heat to low and cook, stirring every now and then and adding more water as necessary until the grains are soft. The process may take 1.5-2 hours. Alternatively, you can use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, if you have one. I usually let the rice cook overnight in a slow cooker. If you’re using a pressure cooker, allow about 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, boil 100 ml water and dissolve the palm sugar or jaggery and a pinch of salt until syrupy. Add the crushed cardamom pods, if using.

4. Stir the syrup into the rice.

4. Add the coconut milk.

5. Swirl some coconut cream on top and serve.

20140710-094155-34915998.jpg

 

“The Rajma” – Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili

IMG_1816This is my all time favorite comfort food. Being a Tambrahm family Rajma (red kidney bean curry) wasn’t really a dish we had every other day. My dad would actually make a face and ask “what kind of dish is called Rajammal?”

So I actually only had this dish for the first time when I was 4. And the fact that I remember it says a lot:) We were living in Srinagar back then, yes the Jammu & Kashmir Srinagar which is the farthest back I can remember of my childhood. We were friends with this warm and kind hearted Punjabi family next door and Badi Ma (grandma) would make the best rajma ever. I would live in their home reveling in all the finger licking Punjabi food- kaali dal, kadhi and rajma. So you could say this Tambrahm girl got her loyalties all mixed up – rasam wasn’t so much my comfort food as was rajma. And it still is, to this day. This is one dish I could literally eat every day and not get bored. Well, within reason:).

I call this recipe “The Rajma” as it is the best recipe ever that comes close to the taste of my childhood rajma days. This is a contribution from my sister-in-law, Mathangi, who is an Army wife and who grew up in Jammu, Delhi, lived in Pathankot and who you could say is a Punjabi at heart thanks to all the traveling and living in North India. She is an exceptional cook and this is only one of her many famous recipes. So while you would think this is a cliched dish, her recipe involves some slow cooking which truly brings out all the flavors of the spices and the gravy is absolutely finger-licking. Have it with some hot rice and ghee and you will agree, this is the ultimate comfort food for those lazy Sundays.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • Rajma (red kidney beans) – 1 cup. I usually get the lighter red smaller kidney beans also known as Jammu Rajma, though you can make it with any variety. I feel the smaller ones cook faster and when you mash a few it blends well with the gravy, but to each his own.
  • Garlic – 3 small or 2 large pods, crushed
  • Ginger – 1 1/2 inch, grated or crushed
  • Red onion – 2 small or medium sized, chopped roughly
  • Tomatoes – 3 small or 2 large, chopped roughly
  • Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1 tsp
  • Whole coriander seeds (dhaniya) – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Red chili powder – 1 tsp
  • Rajma masala – 1 tsp (available in Indian stores)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Method:

  • Soak the rajma in about 2-3 cups of water overnight. Alternatively soak it in hot water for about 4-6 hours.
  • Boil the rajma in a pressure cooker or you can add water in a saucepan and boil over a stove till cooked. You may also use a slow cooker to cook the rajma.
  • Make a fine paste of the garlic and jeera with a little water.
  • Grind the onion and ginger separately to a fine paste.
  • Dry roast the dhaniya or coriander seeds in a flat pan without adding any oil. Now grind the roasted dhaniya with the tomatoes in a blender to a fine paste.
  • Keep the 3 pastes separately.
  • Take a heavy bottomed vessel and add about 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  • When the oil gets hot, add the garlic and cumin seed (jeera) paste. Saute for about 2 minutes till the paste becomes light brown and the raw smell goes away.

IMG_1800

  • Now add the onion and ginger paste to this mixture. Saute this mixture on a low to medium flame for about 5-10 minutes, until the raw smell of onions goes away. This step is important as the onion needs to be cooked well. The mixture will become golden brown (more than what you see in the pic below).

IMG_1801

  • Then add the tomato-dhaniya paste. Saute well once again for about 10 more minutes till the mixture blends well together and oil begins to seep out from the sides. This indicates that the onion tomato paste is well cooked.
  • Now add salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder to the mixture.

IMG_1802

  • Saute again for about 5 minutes till the spices get mixed and cooked.
  • Drain the boiled rajma and keep the rajma water aside. You will use this later instead of water for the gravy.
  • Add drained rajma to the onion-tomato-spice mixture in the vessel and mix very well till the beans get coated with the paste. Saute for another 2-3 minutes.

IMG_1804

  • Add the rajma water slowly to this mixture until you get the desired consistency for the gravy. Keep in mind that rajma thickens as it cooks so you can be a bit generous with the water, maybe 2-3 cups or as needed.

IMG_1806

  • Let this mixture come to a boil first and then keep it on a slow flame and let it slow cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. At this stage you may also transfer to a slow cooker and leave it on low for 20-30 minutes.
  • Add rajma masala, mix well and cook again for about 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with hot rice or jeera rice and a dollop of freshly made ghee. Yum!
  • You can also use this in the Bollywood Burrito recipe:)

IMG_1812

Snappy Salads – Taco Salad in a Jar

Salads in a Jar is probably another Pinterest favorite but it was actually a Huffington Post article that caught my fancy this week. The article was about colorful salads and fruits to make for a not so sad desk lunch. Couldn’tbe more timely as I was on a gluten-free/clean eating binge this week again after all the “junk” devoured over the past week and weekend.

My hurried clicks with my Iphone camera while I was making this salad didn’t come close to the vibrant colors in the original article, but it was a decent first attempt to inspire me to eat healthy at work and stop my binges in Singapore “dhaba” type eateries and food courts. I have to admit, this is by far the most convenient method to tote a salad to work, greens stay fresh, its healthy, compact and the dressing gets evenly mixed when its time to eat. All you need to do is turn the mason jar upside down and shake it a few times and you have a wholesome green colorful meal. And yes its snappy too!

After my smoothie obsession (that continues), salads may come a close second to slowly becoming an everyday habit.  Both smoothies and salads use my favorite kitchen utensil…the versatile mason jar. Not that ubiquitous in Singapore, you can find mason jars at wholesale Chinese kitchen stores in Chinatown or at Japanese dollar stores (Daiso). I do miss the “Ball” mason jars I used to collect at Walmart and Amazon but these aren’t too bad. Of course there’s always the pasta sauce/pickle jars that can be reused so it’s not hard to get started. You can also make the dressing and the fresh salsa ahead of time and keep it handy to whip up other tasteful mason jar salads.

20140619-114804-42484780.jpg

Taco salad in a mason jar

Couple of points to note when making salads in a jar:

  • Use mason jars that have a wider mouth than those you use for smoothies. Helps to mix and eat out of the jar if necessary.
  • Put the dressing in first and then add in other ingredients, Beans, harder veggies or fruits at the bottom and the softer ones on top. The salad leaves should be top most so they stay fresh.
  • Experiment with different veggies, fruits, beans and dressing.
  • Use homemade dressings as much as you can. Store bought ones not only have processed ingredients but are also calorie laden so nothing like blending some fresh dressing with fruits, veggies, olive oil or other on your own. I will share some dressing recipes frequently in this section as well so keep a look out.
20140619-114804-42484094.jpg

Taco salad prep

Ingredients:

For salad:

  • 1/2 cup boiled and drained black beans (soak black beans overnight in water and then cook it the next day in water over a stove or a pressure cooker)
  • 1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper,or both
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions or regular sweet Vidalia onions
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice (I mixed the quinoa with some lemon juiceand cilantro beforehand)
  • 1 small avocado, diced (toss with a little lime juice to prevent browning)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Mexican salsa (recipe below)
  • small handful chopped cilantro
  • shredded or sliced lettuce or any leafy greens

For dressing: (can be made 1-2 days ahead) 

  • juice of 1 lemon or lime (or about 2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea Salt to taste

Mix all the above with a whisk and set aside.

For fresh Mexican salsa: (in the Vitamix)- from Vitamix recipes. Can be made a day or even a week ahead)

  • 2 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 5 baby carrots
  • 3 or 4 slices of fresh serrano peppers pending your desired heat level
  • fresh cilantro ( 3 finger pinch)

Turn the Vitamix to variable speed 7 and drop the garlic, serrano peppers, cilantro, and carrots in through the hole in the lid while the machine is running. Next, add the following to the container and put the lid back on:

  • 3 roma tomatoes (cutting in 1/2 or 1/4’s will make it easier for the blades to grab the tomatoes)
  • 1/4 inch slice of sweet yellow onion (larger onion) or a 1/2 inch on a smaller union
  • 1 thin slice of green bell pepper
  • Season Salt (2 or 3 shakes)
  • Pepper (2 or 3 shakes)
  • Garlic Salt (4 or 5 shakes)
  • Ground Cumin (2 or 3 shakes)
  • Squirt of lime juice

Now, turn the machine on variable 1 or 2 range. The less ripe the harder the tomato and the higher the speed needed to chop), and then use the tamper to push everything down in to the blades! When you can no longer see or feel large chunks of food, then your salsa is ready to devour:)

Method for layering the salad:

Layer ingredients in jar in the order listed- Lemon cumin dressing, black beans, diced pepper, green onions, salsa, quinoa, avocado and end with the lettuce. Top with lid and refrigerate until ready to eat. Can be made 1-2 days in advance.
To eat – turn jar over to let dressing/salsa coat the salad ingredients. You can eat out of the jar or empty it on to a plate. Salad leaves stay fresh and dressing is all evenly coated. Perfection!

 

 

20140619-114805-42485616.jpg

 

 

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 128 other followers

%d bloggers like this: