Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mixed Beans and Poblano Peppers

Dieting, Carbs and Beans
Happy to announce that I have sustained my diet for a month now so the New Year resolution still holds. Thought it would be easy(!!??) to cut down the carbs and increase protein intake, easier said than done. Increase meat/poultry/fish, but eat them everyday nah! can't do that once a week is how much we can handle Non.Veg. So the next best alternative was to eat more beans and lentils. I usually buy beans that suits my fancy so there is always beans and more beans in the pantry. That is the long explaination to why there are so many bean recipes making their appearance.

If you have had your share of the Big Brother and Shilpa Shetty controversy skip the next paragraph and proceed to the recipe but you are welcome to read on...

Celebrity Big Brother and Undercooked Indian food
The sad part was the show and aftermath seemed to have taken over the front pages of all news while there are several important things begging for attention. Well actually that was not my main problem, mine was, one of the contestants on the show is supposed to have said that "Indians were thin becasue they undercooked their food" whatever that was supposed to mean. Anyway here I was thinking we overcooked our food!!


Mixed Beans with Poblano Peppers
On my recent grocery store visit I picked up the Pablano Peppers instead of the Green Bell Peppers because they looked fresher but now I am hooked I like their subtle spiciness more than the Bell Pepper sweetness. It added a whole new dimension to the Bean curry.



Ingredients

1. 3 Poblano Peppers deseeded and cut into strips.
2. 1 1/2 Cup Mixed Dry Beans (Green Peas, Norther Beans and Turtle Black Beans) soaked overnight and cooked for one whistle in a pressure cooker and drained.
3. 1 medium red onion chopped
4. 2 tbsp lemon juice
5. Seasonings curry leaves, cumin and mustard
7. 1tsp oil

Paste
1. 1 medium red onion (I used 1/2 red onion and 1/4 cup frozen small red onions)
2. 5 garlic cloves
3. 1 1/2" ginger piece
4. 1/4 cup corriander leaves
5. 3 green chillies
6. 1 tsp cumin powder
7. 1 tbsp corriander powder

Saute the above and blend into a paste

Method
1. Heat oil in a pan add the seasonings, cumin, curry leaves and mustard seeds
2. When the mustard starts to pop add the onions and fry till translucent
3. Add the poblano pepper strips and saute till they just start to change color
4. Add the cooked beans mix well.
5. Add the ground paste and about cup of water and salt
6. Cover the lid and cook for 5-8 minutes

Serve with brown rice or with chappathis.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Black Bean and Shrimp Soup

The Artic Winter air has finally arrived and it is cold. Days like these call for some hearty warm soup. On a recent visit to Borders I chanced upon a cook book titled "Soups and Breads" and the book was priced at 3 dollars and the pictures were irrestible which alone was well worth the price. There are several easy and mouth watering recipes but the one I wanted to try was the Cuban Black Bean Soup. Few ingredients but a filling meal by itself. The recipe called for Bacon bones which I omitted and substituted with Shrimp but it can be left out too.

Recipe Adapted From: Kitchen Library Soups and Breads



Ingredients
1. 1 1/2 Cups of Black Turtle Beans soaked overnight and cooked till soft in a pressure cooker with just enough water.
2. 8-12 Medium sized Shrimp washed and marinate in turmeric,salt,red chilly powder and a bit of lime juice
3. 1/2 Red Onion sliced thin
4. 1 bunch scallions chopped
5. 3 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
6. 1 1/2 " ginger piece julienned
7. 2 tsp corriander powder
8. 1 tsp cumin powder
9. 1 tbsp Red chilly powder(adjust to taste)
10. 1/2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
11. 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
12. 1 cup of shredded cheese
13. 1/2 cup corriander leaves chopped
14. 2 tomatoes chopped fine. (optional)
15. 1 tbsp oil (or oil + ghee)

Method
1. In a stock pot (heavy bottomed) add half the oil and when it is hot, add the shrimp and fry them a little bit. When they start to change color remove from pot and set aside
2. Add the remaining oil to the pot and add the onions and fry till translucent.
3. Add the garlic, most of scallion(preserve some for garnish) and ginger and saute till soft.
4. Now add the corriander, cumin and chilly powders and mix well.
5. Add the tomatoes and cook till they are mushy.
6. Add a cup of water and let them come to a boil.
7. Now add the cooked beans cover the lid partially and let simmer for 10 minutes
8. Add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar and corriander leaves and cook for a few more minutes.
9. Add the shrimp and after a minute or two turn of the heat.

Serve hot with shredded cheese and scallion sprinkled on top and some warm croissants.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

'Daughter in the Kitchen' and Thattapayar Kathrikkai Kuzhambu

Cowpeas (a.k.a Black Eyed Peas) and Brinjal in a Spicy sauce

I learned most of my cooking from cook books and seeing friends cook. Thanks to friend G who taught me how to cook sambhar and rasam, once I learned those the rest came easy. Back home I hardly stepped in the kitchen even after repeated appeals from my mom to learn cooking to which I hardly paid any attention or just plain ignored them. I had to learn it the hard way. But now whenever I see my mom, grandmom or for that matter anybody cook I pay a lot more attention. So it is really astonishing and also a source of pride when my daughter tells me that she wants to help in the kitchen. There are certain dishes you can learn from cookbooks but there are certain others that can be learned by watching someone else. Thattapayir Kuzhambu is one such, I have never come across this recipe in any cookbook. I learned it by watching my mom make it. Thattapayir is also one thing that I never forget to bring back with me from India. It is roasted a little bit so it won't get any bugs.

When I mentioned about the Little Chefs In the Kitchen event hosted by TRS of The Spice Who Loved me (what a neat idea!) daughter was mightly pleased. She loves to cook the Chappathis as I am rolling them. She draws a stool close to the stove and helps me cook chappathis all the time yakking away, you know how eight years olds are. Everything has to be analyzed to the last detail. My fond hope is to teach her as much of Indian cooking as possible so she can enjoy cooking good food.









Thattapayir Kathrikkai Kuzhambu





Ingredients
1. 3/4 Cups Thattapayir (cowpeas) cooked to one whistle in a pressure cooker and drained (should not be mushy)
2. 6-8 small purple brinjals slit in 4 but ends intact
3. 1/2 onion chopped
4. 1/4 cup tamarind pulp
5. seasonings curry leaves, mustard and cumin
6. Oil and salt

Paste
1. 1/2 red onion + 20 pearl onions
2. 1 1/2 tbsp Corriander powder (Original recipe use corriander seeds and cumin)
3. 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
4. 3-4 red chillies

Saute the onions in a little bit of oil and when they are brown add the red chillies let them brown add corriander and cumin powder mix well turn off the heat cool and make a paste.


Method
1. Heat oil in a pan, add the seasonings, cumin, curry leaves and mustard and when the mustard starts to pop add the onions and saute till translucent
2. Add the brinjals and saute till the skin starts to blacken,
3. Add the thattai payir and mix well.
4. Add the Paste and the tamarind water and salt, check for salt cover the lid and cook till the brinjal turns soft. Should not be too watery or too thick so adjust water accordingly

Serve with rice and a little bit of ghee. The ghee brings out the taste like no other.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Vendaikkai Poriyal (Okra Stir Fry)

Lady's Fingers bring fond memories of childhood, nunching them raw and hearing advice from elders that eating lot of lady's fingers would sharpen your Math skills. I rarely munch on them raw here because of the slime. I either did not notice them when I used to do that back home or the ones we get here have more slime or most probably they are not as fresh. Anyway it is one of my favorite vegetables cooked in Sambhar, kara kuzhambu, puzhikuzhambu or poriyal the taste is always amazing. Here is a simple but a really tasty recipe for vendaikkai Poriyal. The amchur powder helps in getting rid of the slime quickly.



Ingredients
1. 1 1/2 lbs Okra
2. 1 Medium sized onion cut lengthwise
3. 3 green chillies slit
4. 1 tsp of amchur powder or 2 tsp of lemon juice
5. 2 tsp Sambhar powder
6. 1 tsp turmeric powder
7. seasonigs, cumin,mustard,urad dal, curry leaves
8. 1 tbsp oil

Method
1. Wash the okra and let them dry or pat dry then slit them in half and cut into lenghtwise strips.
2. In a saute pan heat half tbsp oil, add the urad dal when they start to brown add the cumin and mustard seeds, when they start to pop add the onion and saute till they turn brown. Add the green chillies.
3. Now add the turmeric powder, salt and amchur powder and mix welll.
4. Add the cut okra and mix them well.
5. Lower the flame and let the okra cook, the okra start to turn a dark green when they are cooked. Do not over toss the okra they get more slimy.
6. Now add the remaining oil, check for salt add the sambhar powder and let them cook for a few more minutes.

Serve warm with Rice or with chappathis.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Vegetable's Soup

I read two articles which were pretty interesting, one was forwarded by a dear friend and the other I found in one of my favorite news sites.
If you like your food hot and if you really would like to add that extra chilly pepper this news is for you "How spicy foods can kill cancers." Looks like pretty soon we might be eating farmed fish from a Sea near by don't know if this is a good or a bad development. In a way it would give the over fished fish stock a break but what about the environmental damages of farming fish in seas?

Vegetable's Soup
Now on to my soup. Soups are a wonderful when you want to cut carbs and during the winter months nothing better to warm your insides. It is a good soup to make at the end of the week when you only have a few number of all the different veggies but quiet not enough for making a full dish but just enough for making soup.

DSCN1762


Ingredients
1. 10 -15 green beans cut lengthwise into 1 1/2 inch
2. 2 Carrots cut lengthwise
3. 6-7 brussel sprouts chopped (and feel free to add any veggies you prefer)
4. 1/2 Red onion cut lengthwise
5. 3 garlic pods crushed and chopped
6. 1 1/2 tsp of Bragg Liquid Aminos (substitue with light soy sauce)
7. 1 tbsp Tomato Chilli sauce
8. 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock or Vegetable stock
9. Salt and Pepper to taste
10. 1 tsp of oil and 1/4 tsp of ghee
11. 1 Egg
12. 1/2 Cup of cooked rice

Method
1. In a Wok or pan heat a tsp of oil and saute the onions till about brown, add the crushed garlic and saute for a few minutes
2. Add the beans and carrots with salt and saute till they are about 3/4 cooked, should still be crunchy. Add the cup of rice and mix.
3. In a stock pot add the ghee and saute the brussel sprouts,when they start to wilt transfer them to the pan with the other veggies.
4. Now to the same stock pot add the stock and bring it a boil, add the cooked veggies and the sauces and mix.
5. Now break an egg and add it to the soup all the while stirring.
6. Season with pepper and salt.

Serve with some crunchy 7 Grain Cracker Bread.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Best Breakfast in the Whole World! - Egg Cheese Dosai, Coconut Chutney

Dosai and Coconut Chutney / Egg-Cheese Dosai

Kids! don't they like to dramatize everything! DD considers Egg-Cheese Dosai and Dosai with Coconut Chutney the best breakfast in the whole world and for that matter so do the big kids in the household. This combination wins all others hands down. I usally make the dosai on a nonstick pan so most of the time no oil, so when we went to India and oil was liberally used to cook dosai she made here grandmas blush with praises heaped high. She also gobbled 3-4 this was amazing for someone who takes a while....... to eat anything. So once in a while coconut chutney makes it entry during the weekend breakfast and pleases everyone.


DSCN1755
Egg Cheese Dosai
This is a favorite among kids, whenever I have offered this to any kid the plate is clean of even the crumbs. Very simple if dosai batter is available.

Ingredients (for one dosai)
1. Idly/Dosai batter (See Sugar and Spices for how to make batter)
2. Shreeded Cheese
3. Egg5
4. Optional Roasted Vegetable cut into strips (did not add them)


DSCN1756
Method
1. Heat a dosai pan/ griddle and pour the batter and spread it
2. Break the Egg and pour over the dosai cover with the lid and let the eggs cook.
3. Flip the dosai and let the egg cook completely.
4. Step 3 can be skipped if you like the eggs over easy, now sprinkle the cheese and
cover the lid again for the cheese to melt.
5. Fold the Dosai over.

Coconut Chutney
The recipe has many variations, here is my version



Ingredients
1. 1/2 coconut scrped
2. 2 green chillies
3. Corriander leaves from 4 -5 stems
4. 1/4inch piece ginger
5. a handful pottukadali (dahlia)
6. salt
7. 1 pod of garlic (I forgot to add)
8. salt to taste

Blend the above to a smooth paste, I like mine a little watery so I wash out blender after blending with a little bit of water and add that to the chutney.

seasonings: 1tsp of oil, 1/4 tsp each of urad dal,mustard and cumin and curry leaves
heat the oil, add the urad dal let them brown, mustard seeds and when they sputter add the cumin and curry leaves and pour them over the chutney.

Serve with crispy dosais.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

It is January really, Time for a Smoothie .....


Early Saturday morning opened the door to get the newspaper, usually run out bare footed and by the time the paper is retrieved from the end of the drive way and back, my legs are freezing and my ears are starting to hurt from the cold. But not on saturday opened the door to a blast of warm air and it was already 58F and expected to reach the 70s it made it to 73 and the last time it did that was way back in 1950. Something to do with El NiƱo and the warm air from the Pacific being trapped as opposed to the brrr cold air that blows in from Canada. And that is fine by me and a good opportunity to be outdoors. We went to Great Falls which is on the Potomac.



I have professed my love for DC and the Potomac river is an important reason why. Waterfalls and rivers amaze me no end and probably why Victoria Falls is one of the places that I want to visit really bad. Yup! I have visited Niagara Falls a few times 4 to be exact and was awed every time. I am lucky that my family also shares this love of water and watefalls. So a visit to Great Falls was on the cards. I think half of the DC suburbs also had the same plans, it took about half an hour to enter the Park but Boy did it feel good or what?



Families strolling along the path which runs along the C&O Canal and spectacular views of the Potomac along the way. Did'nt want the day to end because it was going to get 20 degrees colder the next day and it is. Kiddies each collected a bag of pebbles and had fun running, skipping, and the ageless game of throwing stones in the river..



Do you spot the lone what we think is the Great Blue Heron shot by DD



And to quench our thirst, some homemade Fruit Smoothie. Banana (2), Apple (1), Mixed Berry(1/2 cup), Milk (1/4 cup) sweetened with Honey and topped with Frozen Yogurt.

DSCN1751

Saturday, January 6, 2007

One Pot Meal - Bean Rice

Meme first.....
Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook has tagged me for this intriguing Meme "What Your Blogger Friends Look Like and Why". I thought I'd give it a shot. It would be interesting to give some thought and face to the person(s) who are writing the blogs I frequent. My familiarity with the blog owner is through their writings, Do I give a face to them? sometimes and it easier when the name is same as someone I know of in real life and which in itself is going to be wrong 100% but that is how I associate them. Am I calling blog writing Reel life? In a way yes. I think I know the character of the blog itself but never the person writing it most of the time. Some blog friends share their family information some of them just give few tidbits like "I have kids", "I have twins", "I have pets" "I love gardening" etc., Connections and assumptions are made based on what the blogger writes about like

1. That blogger is a fantastic cook and is passionate about what she writes.
2. That blogger is an excellent photgrapher.
3. That blogger is an excellent cook and super photographer.
4. That blogger has a wicked sense of humor.
5.That blogger writes so eloquently.
6. This blogger I know a bit more because she shares more and makes me feel at home
7.These bloggers are they professional caterers.
8.This blogger cares a lot about food and health.
9.This blogger does a lot of stuff with her kids.
10. This blogger has the same name as a dear friend
11. This blogger lives in a place I would love to visit
12. This blogger could have been Indian in her previous birth
13. This blogger is lucky to live so close to .... she can visit home often
14. This blogger revealed she was an architect, something clicked.
15.This blogger should be a professional baker.
16. I have reads this blogger's article in a magazine.

and so on ............... and when some of them stop writing for an extended period of time you start to miss them, do I miss them as real people or their writing not sure but sure hope they are doing alright.

The connection I made with Sandeepa was love of listening to NPR and when she talked about a show she had listened to on NPR "And this mention sent a shiver of happiness down my spine, and I felt how I miss my country and how a simple mention of its river made me all proud. Would my daughter feel the same hearing about Hudson River, ok at least Niagara on AkashVani?" I had the exact same feeling when I listened to the very same show, there a connection was made and she being a Bong with a natural love for cooking Fish it was even better and maybe we code too...

Would like to invite Asha, Priya S&S and Krithika if they feel like it.


Now on to my recipe.
Bean Rice
This is to keep up with my theme of reducing carbs and increasing protein. My husband called it a fancy arsim paruppu (dal rice) so be it. Handy when you want something quick and also excellent if you want to pack lunch for the next day.



Ingredients
1. 1 1/2 Cups rice (I used basmati Rice:Water:: 1 : 1 1/2)
2. 1 1/2 Cups of Beans (Butter beans, Garbanzo and White Northern Beans) soaked overnight
3. 1/2 Cup Green Beans and Carrot cut into strips
4. 1 Onion Cut lengthwise
5. 4 Garlic cloves chopped
6. 1/2 inch piece ginger chopped
7. 1 tomato chopped
8. 4 green chillies slit
9. Seasonings -cumin, curry leaves (cloves, cinnamon, fennel optional)
10. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
11. 1/4 cup corriander leaves chopped

Method
1. Saute 1/4 of the onions, garlic, ginger and blend to a smooth paste. If you do not want to do this saute them with the onions after step 2.
2. In a Pressure cooker heat a tsp of oil, add the seasonings, add the onion and saute till translucent. Add the green chillies. Add the tomatoes and saute till they are become mushy.
3. Now add the blend mixture and cook for a few minutes.
4. Add the turmeric and the fresh veggies and the beans, add a cup of water,cover and cook for 8-10 minutes till they are half way cooked.
5. Now add the rice and mix well. Add required amount of water, salt. Check for taste.
6. Cool till the rice is almost cooked and there is only a little bit of water.
7. Now cover the lid, put the weight on and keep on medium low for 5-6 minutes.
8. Remove from fire, don't have to wait for the whistle.

Serve with Onion Raitha or just plain Yogurt.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Moong Dal Spinach Sundal

The New Year has arrived, and time for New Year resolutions. Mine does change year to year, some years there is only one that being - lose a few pounds and eat healthy. Reducing carbs is also high on the list but going cold turkey will not work for sure, end result craving which will do more harm. So find ways to add more protein and cut down the carbs and weaning slowly from rice. My first attempt on New Years was this Moong Dal Spinach Sundal(poriyal). Nothing fancy but to borrow Vaishali's phrase a Ton of Protein. So Ton of Protein is what came to my mind and it tasted, well a 8 and 2 year old polishing it off without a murmur should speak for itself.

Spinach Moong

Ingredients
1. 2,10oz boxes of frozen spinach thawed(substitue with Thandu keerai or any greens)
2. 1 medium sized onion chopped
3. 1 or 2 cups moong dal cooked and drained(should not be mushy mine turned a little mushy)
4. 2 Red Chillies split in half and seeds removed.
4. seasonings (1 tbsp urad dal, cumin, mustard ,curry leaves)
5. 1/2 tsp of oil
6. 1 tbsp coconut (optional) (I did not add)

Method
1. Heat oil in a wide mouthed pan, add urad dal when it starts to brown add cumin, mustard and curry leaves.
2. When the mustard starts to splutter add the onion and when the onions starts to brown add the Red chillies and the thawed spinach and cook for a few minutes
3. When the water is almost gone add the Moong dal, enough salt and cook till all the water is gone.
4. When you are ready to turn off the heat add the coconut if doing so.

Serve with chappathis or just by itself.