Saturday, February 28, 2009

Idli Podi II - with 3 4 dals (Spiced lentil powder)

"Love Thy Neighbor" is not only a phrase from the bible but in daily life a very important one. I consider my neighbors to be the first line of defense and would try my best to be friendly. But not everyone thinks that way was evident when I was an unwitting witness to some fights for unimportant things.

I was kind of surprised when one of my neighbors came complaining about another neighbor, lets call them N1 and N2. N1 complained that N2 cuts grass on his side of the property. It reminded me of land disputes back home among relatives who fight over few feet of land and on whose land the foot path should go and so forth. Sometimes knives and fists are involved. Well anyway this was not anything like that but a few feet of extra lawn that was getting mowed. N1 settled the affair by planting some border plants. Another neighbor got annoyed that his neighbor had an unused tire lying around for a few days. These are incidents that are too small to sweat over, relationship with the neighbor is far more important don't you think?

IMHO, neighbors are our eyes and ears when we are not around. I am grateful to have some neighbors who really pitch in and help when needed. The water my plants when I am away, feed DDs fish, pick up the newspapers. What if we needed a lift to the doctor and can't dirve by ourselves? Not only for the help they are also what make a street a community. To steal the popular saying "No man is an island".

The other day one neighbor found a person loitering near her neighbor's door when she took the dog for a walk. She immediately called the neighbor to alert her. Imagine if the relationship was strained, would the same effort have been taken?

I have also seen neighbors clean the sidewalks for other during winter time, it is against the law to leave snow for more than a day. Small actions but they speak much louder than words.

This is not to say that all neighbors are good, there are some really obnoxious ones too. One of them who lives a few houses further away from us was putting up a fence and he was setting up the fence further inside his adjoining neighbor's property. So when that neighbor approached the offending party his reaction was "lets settle this with a gun". The neighbor on the receiving end was hopping mad. I would have lost it too.

I have learnt over the years not to sweat the small stuff, good relations with neighbors has paid for itself many times over for which I would be ever grateful.

What is your philosophy in dealing with your neighbors? And do you consider it important to have good relations with them?


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I think I hit the publish button a little too soon without posting the recipe. If you have noticed I usually quote my mom and ammayi(mom's mom) cooking a lot but not so much my MIL. This is not because I don't consider her a great cook but because I have not watched her cook at close quarters much. I did when she visited us but not enough, but I still have learned a few recipes. There are a lot of tiny ideas and influences that I remember and incorporate in my daily cooking. One thing that stands out in my MIL's, mom's and grandmoms's is the simplicity of the cooking process itself. No grinding masalas or rich sauces just simple flavorful food that makes for a very tasty meals albeit light and easy on the stomach affairs. If Kollu Paruppu Podi was a recipe from my mother, this idli podi recipe is from my MIL. When we visit she alwasys packs us a substanstial bag of idli podi to last till our next visit home. She uses three dals - kadali paruppu (channa dal), urad dal and moong dal, also mentioning that some people add a bit of horsegram as well and that was just what I wanted to hear to add a handful of horsegram. MIL suggested I add all the dals together and roast.


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Idli Podi
Ingredients
1. 3/4 cup of Chana dal (original recipe calls for 2 cups)
2. 3/4 cup urad dal
3. 3/4 cup moong dal (I used the split one with the skin on)
4. 3/4 cup horsegram
5. 1 cup red chilies
6. 20 curry leaves
7. a tiny piece of asfoetida
8. 4 tsp kosher salt or 2 tsp regular table salt (add more if required after blending and tasting)
Method
1. Heat a wide mouthed pan and roast the dals one by one till they turn a slight brown or
Combine all the dals and roast them together.
2. Microwave the curry leaves for a minute till crisp
3. Microwave or heat the asfoetida for a few seconds
4. Microwave the red chilies for about 3-4 minutes or roast, till they start to turn color or become completely dry
5. roast the salt for a few minutes.
6. Cool and blend to a fine powder


Goes well with rice, idli, dosai or even chapatis.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quick Kofta Curry with ready made falafel balls

Regular readers of this blog know I am a political junkie and cannot keep myself away from the political happenings. So here are my unsolicited opinions on the stimulus bill or in other words "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act". I have no idea what it is about even with my prodigious news junkie habits. I know I know this stimulus is supposed to help people who are suffering but I am afraid the money is again to line the pockets of the same people who got us into this mess in the first place. Call me a cynic if you must. If you are an unabashed fan of the president, please stop reading and go straight to the recipe.

Increasingly the bailout is making a lot of responsible people feel like succors. By responsible I mean fiscally responsible - you did not buy a house that you could not afford, saved regularly and made sound financial choices. But you see your neighbor who made the exact opposite choices being helped by the stimulus whereas all you are left with is your shrinking net worth. If I sound resentful that is how a lot of people I have been talking to are feeling. Don't for a minute think I am suddenly Ann Coulter's best friend. And even though it is not a 100 days since we had our new president it feels like it has been ages. Does not help when you have an election cycle that runs for more than 2 years. I am not really sure I am going to be a very happy camper. At least with the previous president we always knew where his loyalties lay. And the fashionista exposure of the first lady makes me think she should be out there putting her weight behind more lets say weighty issues of which there are many. If you saw the Oscar awards yesterday you know exactly how many people are available to do what she has been doing recently. Sorry if I am jumping to conclusions too soon but I belong to a generation for which patience has never been a virtue. The Republicans who voted against the bill have been sounding like they are concerned about the future generations but the truth just a few months ago when they were in the majority, they did not any qualms about giving billions to their friendly contributors(read Wall Street) but now they seem to have become responsible and worried about the future generations. Well I am not exactly in a forgiving mood these days either and being reasonable is the furthest on my mind.

If I am in a bad mood blogging usually made me relax and calm down. I am talking about food after all. But the last few days I have been needing to seriously vent and I just did. Now that I am done I feel lighter already.


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Let move on to more pleasant topics like this quick kofta curry. I always have some frozen ready to eat Falafel balls. They are available in Costco and I freeze them as soon as I get them home to be used in pita pockets, quesadillas or eat them as is as snacks with some ketchup on the side. I saw this wonderful recipe on Alka's Sindhi Rasoi and I didn't have the self control to resist trying it for too long. What pushed me further was how easy the gravy was. The premade falafel balls gave me hope for a quick end to the longing. I had only a few balls and the bag of fresh shelled peas came handy.

Recipe Source: Vegetable Kofta Curry

Quick Kofta Curry
1. 8 premade falafel balls
2. 2 Cups of Green Peas
3. 3/4 Red Onion Chopped fine
4. 2 Tomatoes chopped fine
5. 1/2 inch piece of ginger grated
6. 4 green chilies
7. 1 tsp red chili powder
8. 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
9. 2 tsp chicken or garam masala powder
10. salt to taste
11. 2 tsp oil

Method
1. In a pressure cooker heat oil, saute the onions till translucent
2. Add the ginger mix, coriander, chili powder and green chilies saute for a minute
3. Now add the tomatoes and saute till it is soft.
4. Add salt, masala powder and about a cup of water and close the lid and cook for 2 whistles
5. Let cool and with the back of a spoon or a hand blender make a smooth gravy.
6. Now add the green peas and let it cook till the peas are cooked.
7. Towards the end add the falafel balls check for salt and let it heat through for 2-3 minutes


Serve with chapatis or parathas. These were as tasty as koftas made with the traditional ingredients.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Swiss Chard Sambhar

I started noticing a new label on the milk containers recently about a year perhaps. Most of them now have "rbgh free" and "antibiotic free" stamped on them and it reminded me of why I started buying organic milk for the kids. I was discussing this with a friend recently who asked why I should be buying oraganic at all because the regular milk has (or does not have) what I wanted anyway. It spurred me on to do more research about the difference between the two. CSM to the rescue. Organic labelling is a mandated and enforced whereas those with rgbh free the respecting the labelling is pretty much honrary is my understanding. Does anybody know about the use of these hormones on cows in India? I would love to know more.


If you had asked me if I liked sambhar about 20 years ago, the answer would have been a resounding No. This was when I had access to an amazing range of sambhar cooked up by some of the best cooks. When access is limited attiudes change, now I crave for sambhar and cannot go without it for more than 2 or 3 days. Some vegetables lend themselves to be added to sambhar and are very commonly used like drumstick, radish, beans-carrot-peas-potato, green mango, okra, brinjal and vegetables in the gourd family but for bitter gourd. There is no sambhar police and if you add zucchini or cabbage or spinach or chard leaves you are not going to be arrested.

For me drumstick had been a clear favorite for a long time till recently when another candidate is slowly inching to take that spot. Even the aroma from a drumstick sambhar is enough to satisfy half your hunger. Do you agree with me folks that drumstick sambhar is the best? But this post is not dedicated to drumstick sambhar but its close competitor the Swiss Chard sambhar. If you have not tried it you should and I guarantee it you would be rearranging your favorite list too.

Green Earth
Are you eager to reduce the carbon foot print? Do a small part and join the Swiss Chard Challenge . Don't be taken aback by the word challenge and by Swiss Chard if you are not familiar with it. Greens of any kind have to be grown that is all. Hop over to the link to see what it is all about.

Have you purchased the seeds?
Yes you have to hop on to the dreaded automobile to purchase those seeds but if you combine it with other trips, it is going to be green isn't? Most stores have put out the seeds for sale and I picked mine a few weeks ago.


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The recipe is quite simple if you make sambhar but here it is. I have used the pressure cooker to complete the entire sambhar.


Vegetables cooking in tamarind extract along with the sambhar powder


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Swiss Chard Sambhar
1. 1 Cup toor dal washed, turmeric powder, drops of sesame oil
2. 1/2 onion chopped fine (or shallots sliced fine, these are the ones used back home)
3. 2 Cups Swiss Chard cleaned and chopped (I used a combination of swiss chard and beet leaves) [any other vegetable can be substituted. See Note:]
4. 1/4 cup tamarind extract from small lime sized ball of tamarind. If using tamarind paste use 3 tsp mixed in a 1/2 cup of water.
5. 1 tbsp sambhar powder
6. seasonings: curry leaves, mustard, asfoetida a tiny bit, cumin and methi seeds
7. 1 tsp oil, salt to taste
Method
1. Add toor dal to the pressure cooker with 2 cups of water, a pinch of turmeric powder and few drops of sesame oil and cook for 2 whistles or till soft.
2. Transfer the contents to a container, now in the same cooker heat the oil add the seasoning, saute the onions till translucent.
3. Add the chard leaves (or any other vegetable) and saute them for about 4-5 minutes and add the sambhar powder.
4. Now add the tamarind extract and mix well. Let it boil for about 3-4 minutes or till the vegetable is almost cooked and soft. Greens cook fast so if you are using any other vegetable boil till the vegetable is soft.
5. Mash the toor dal and add it to the tamarind extract and vegetables and if required add a cup more of water.
6. Add salt.
7. Place the lid and let it cook for another whistle or if without pressure cooking on the stove top for about 6-8 minutes.
Note: If using drumstick which takes a slightly longer time to cook, precook for about 8-10 in about 1/4 cup of water and then add to the sauteing onions. Do not discard the cooking water. It can be added in as well along with the tamarind water. If using okra they have to be cooked differently (required its own recipe).


Serve with rice, rotis, idlis or dosais. It tastes good with pretty much anything.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vegetables and Egg Fried Rice

Going Green is not easy isn't? The Sunday magazine had this really interesting article Can One Small Household Help Save the Planet?. If you are trying to go green and finding it hard, this article is sure to give you a sense of deja vu. The article made me think of changes that I have imposed on myself and the family to do our part to reduce the carbon footprint. What are they?

  • Use cloth bags 90% of the time. The 10% I get plastic bags to use as liners for the trash cans around the house. It tooks us a while to remember carrying these bags while grocery shopping till we devised a method that has worked well so far (thanks to DH). We alwasy keep the bags in the car and when we bring them indoors after a shopping trip, the minute they are emptied they are hung on the door knob as a reminder to be carried to the car.

  • I compost all kitchen waste (besides when it is full and on cold winter days a running argument on who is going to empty it, has been going smooth)

  • Recycle as much as possible, switching of lights

  • I try to hyper mile on my vehicle and use public transportation whenever I(other members of the household still rely solely on the car) can

  • use only cloth napkins and vastly reduce the use of paper towels

  • Pack steel cutlery in lunch boxes to avoid using plastic ones (makes economic sense as well)

  • We have tried to use CFL(compact fluorescent lamp) as much as we can

  • I use a power strip on to which I plug in my rechargeables and switch off every night (there are days I forget to do it). I have still not attempted plugging out the microwave, TV etc

  • I would love to have an energy audit done on the house, though it is not that old, but it was built in the go go 90s when energy scarcity and global warming had not made their presence felt, my appliances and windows and insulation do not carry the highest energy star rating


  • It took us a while but now we are all in the same page with most of the things but we could still do more. I get frustrated when I see people all around not paying the minimum regard to what they can actually accomplish without major changes to their lifestyle. I also begin to have doubts if at all the small changes I do are going to have any postive effects and the strains I have put on my family is worth it. But these are nothing compared to what people of this Japanese village have been doing. Watch the video on this article Japan as ground zero for no-wast lifestyle, it is amazing what people can accomplish if they put their minds and hearts to it. Sorting the recyclables into 34 different categories? Can we get a whole village in the US or India to do something like this?

    Well anyway there cannot be two differing opinions regarding fried rice, be it egg, chicken or shrimp. I have not met anyone who does not like fried rice. Fried rice also gave me a good opportunity to use some of the brown rice that I have been hoarding for a while now. I saw this recipe for Indonesian Vegetable Fried Rice on a food blog that I discovered recently and having been following regularly with mouth watering results. I did not have day old rice. I had about 4 tbsp of white rice from the previous day, not enough. So cooked 1 1/4 cups of brown basmati rice in a electric rice cooker and let it cool.

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    Egg Fried Rice
    Ingredients
    1. 2 Cups of Cooked preferably day old rice
    2. 3 eggs, salt and a pinch of red chili powder
    3. 1 Cup of chopped vegetables, thinly sliced carrots, peas, thinly sliced capsicum (red would be good, I used green)
    4. 1 bunch green onions chopped into small rounds
    5. 4 tsp soy sauce
    6. 2 tsp fish sauce (optional)
    7. 2 tsp harissa (moroccon hot chili paste)
    8. 2 tsp chili garlic sauce (optional)
    9. salt to taste
    10. 2-3 tsp of oil
    Method
    1. Beat the eggs together with salt and chili powder
    2. Heat the wok, add a bit of oil and make 2 omlettes and set aside
    3. Now heat the rest of the oil add the green onions and saute for a bit, now add the rest of the vegetables and let them cook for about 4-8 minutes or cooked
    4. Add the sauces and mix well.
    5. Now add the rice and mix it well.
    6. Cook for a minute or two and add salt and more seasonings if required
    7. Switch off the heat.
    8. Roll the omelette and cut into thin strips.
    9. Mix the omelette pieces and serve

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Vermicelli, Javarisi (tapioca pearls) Payasam (Pudding) with almond paste

    I have kept up my resolution for this year so far. I bake a loaf of bread every other week. I am still amazed at how easy the process is. Mix the dough in the morning, let it rise, knead and shape it in the evening, let it rise in the pan and bake at night when I am watching one of my favorite TV serials. While I am on the subject of serials, the one that has impressed me most this season is on Fox TV "Lie to Me". I was listening to NPR one evening when I heard the advisor to the show psychologist Paul Ekman professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco, on whose work the TV show is based on discussing the show and decided to watch it. I had missed the first episode but watched it on Fox web site. I would so love to have this skill and detect from facial expressions who is lying. But then again you really don't want to catch lies all the times right, living like an ostrich helps sometimes.

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    Do you pay bribes to your kids for being good or for them to forget the nagging they got from you? I seem to do it all the time. One such let's call it ahem difference of opinion happened a few days ago in the morning before getting ready for school. I can't remember exactly what the argument was about but after DD had left for school I started feeling bad about it. Once I decided I'd have something special when she comes home in the evening the feeling disappeared almost immediately. I had caught sight of this delcious Firni earlier and it seemed just the right candidate for any hard feelings. Payasam or pudding as you will read is a universal dessert cooked in every part of the world. I am strange and I am not fond of rice in payasam. Though payasam has been one of my favorite desserts, my mind does not say yes to rice payasam. You have the right to call me crazy. The Rice Pudding was delicious and creamy and I enjoyed it thoroughly but if it is called payasam it cannot have rice. Vermicelli and tapioca pearls are in my mind the parts that make payasam whole and DD loves spooning the floating pearls. Needless to say the DDs enjoyed the payasam thoroughly and the almond paste added made it doubly rich and creamy.

    Vermicelli, Tapioca Pearls Payasam
    Ingredients
    1. 1/4 cup vermicelli roasted (roast the vermicelli in a drop of ghee till it turns color)
    2. 1/4 cup of tapioca pearls cooked in about a cup of water for 5-8 minutes
    3. 10-15 almonds soaked in water and peeled
    4. 2 tbsp cashews and raising roasted in ghee
    5. 2-3 tbsp of sugar
    6. 3 cups of milk (I used 1% milk, did not have whole milk handy)
    7. 1 tbsp MTR badam mix (optional) or 1 tsp powdered cardamom and a pinch of saffron
    Method
    1. In a heavy bottomed pan add the milk and let it come to a boil
    2. Blend the almonds to a paste with a bit of milk and add it to the boiling milk
    3. Now add the roasted vermicelli and cooked tapioca pearls
    4. Let it continue to boil till the milk reduces to one third.
    5. Add sugar and badam mixand let it dissolve completely
    6. Now add the roasted cashews and raisins


    Serve warm or chilled. Add chopped nuts on top before serving.

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    The Chard Challenge - Calling all Gardeners!

    Are you tired of the cold, the wind, the overcast gloomy days and ready to welcome spring (the last few teaser days were a delight) here is your chance to chase the winter blues and start thinking green.



    The latest bit of change that the local food and environment groups are asking the incoming(already in) Obama folks to dig up the South Lawn of the White House and turn into a vegetable garden(I am not sure if they are asking for a garden czar and keeping up with the nominee qualification have tax problems :) . I bet this requires a political will like everything else the President is expected to do. But we do not have to wait for the White House to show us the way. Here is your chance to show off your gardening skills if you are an expert gardener, learn a few skills if you are a novice willing to get your hands dirty and if you are some where in between now is a perfect time to sharpen your gardening skills and maybe learn a few new tricks.

    Is It really a challenge?
    Not exactly! There won't be any prizes for growing the biggest Swiss Chard Leaf or maybe there will be. All you need to do is grow some greens in your backyard, patio or even indoors and of course show off.


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    Pink, yellow and white stemmed swiss chard and beet greens


    Why Swiss Chard?
    Ever since I picked up that first bunch of Swiss Chard some 3 years ago I have been in love with it. I started growing them 2 summers ago and they have been the most profilic and highly satisfying green to grow. Chard are well suited to growing in pots, 2 pots supplied us with greens from late spring to early fall almost every week so not having a backyard should not be a reason not to grow them. It is one of most easiest greens to grow with a kind of live let live attitude. It can grow in direct light or shade, a few frosts or a slight cold weather is not going to damage it much. Water regularly, trim of the grown leaves regularly and new growth happens till the plant dies of completely. As far as I have seen very few pests other than the occsional slug coming to eat the dead or rotten leaves and make its way up to the fresh leaves.

    If swiss chard is not your favorite green, grow a green that you are most fond of. If chard is not found in your neck of the woods, you are welcome to grow a green that grows in your area best.


    What is Swiss Chard?
    Swiss Chard belongs to the beet family but unlike beets that are grown for the edible root these are predominantly grown for the leaves. Chard have stalks of different colors, purple, green, yellow to name a few. The leaves are peppery tasting and don't taste good when eaten raw. They taste great in stir fries, in sambhar - it is my favorite right next to drumstick sambhar, kootu, parathas.
    More info in this article on NPR - Letting Leafy Greens into Your Life

    Rules for the Challenge
    Just like everybody else I hate rules. So there are no rules really. Just let your green thumb run wild. Post your gardening stories, tricks, ideas and if you are generous share your secrets as well.

    1. Send the URL of your post to indosungod[AT][GMAIL][DOT][COM] with the subject "Chard Challenge"
    2. If you have pictures, I'll just link to the picture on the roundup post. (If this is not OK please mention in the email.
    3. A link to this post would be nice
    4. The challenge runs all through Spring and Summer and will stop when Fall hits.
    5. If blogging is not your thing but would like to share your story you are welcome to send your entries. They will be posted on this blog as a post and will be included in the roundup.

    Roundups will be done every month from May through October. So if you are game for more than one entry you are welcome.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Okra with Taro Stir fry

    Do you fast? I have never fasted in my life. Not that I do not respect the practice just the opposite saw it practiced regularly, just that I never took to it. Fasting is a common practice done on auspicious days. In my maternal grandparents house on amavasai or no moon day fasting was observed as a mark of respect for the dead. The kitchen was cleaned and an amavasai special meal was prepared, (if memory serves me right was one of the best, make a mental note to record the foods and customs on my next visit) and lunch was served on banana leaves after offering and prayers were done. It is customary for the people on a fast to break the fast before the others can eat.

    An article(Why not just stop eating?) in my local paper (can't find the article online) says that fasting is a also used for weight loss. Intermittent fasting or avoiding eating during certain times of the day tricks the body into thinking it is starving thereby making it burn calories. Intermittent fasting the article goes on to say, offers the same advantages as long-term calorie reduction. I thought it was interesting.

    Most practices written off today as superstition had a scientific reason behind it though at the time it was not thought as such. The pomp and show that have accompanied some of these traditions is a later day addition which is what puts off a lot of people. Fasting I have heard cleanses the body of toxins. So it makes perfect sense to use fasting as a health tool. It helps to know that tests on animals have shown that intermittent fasting or calorie reduction has helped to reduce cognitive decline in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.


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    Okra with Taro Stir Fry - Just for You


    Alka of Sindhi Rasoi has this wonderful Just for You event and this dish goes off to her event. This dish is dedicated to friends who I have lost contact during the course of life. I have been thinking about this friend a lot lately, she was in the room next to mine (she was a year junior) in the hostel during higher secondary (read 11 and 12). Her parents lived in a town close by, so they would visit her every weekend with home made goodies. She was a sweet heart and I always got a big share of it. Some of my other friends even considered me lucky! What I remember most about her was she was a devout Christian and Sunday was a day for God, she would not study even if it were exams the next day. She would just wake up at 1.00AM on Monday. She even avoided watching TV and rarely if ever watched Oliyum Oliyum (songs from movies) and movies. These were days before the proliferation of satellite TV channels so these were sought after TV programs. What amazed me most was her discipline and self control. For a TV junkie like me I could not even dream of such discipline. Well to make a long story short,one weekend her parents brought chips made from elephant yam that looked really delicious and spicy. I know I am not exactly allergic but intolerant of that particular yam. Get a severe stomach pain after consuming them. Not known for discipline or self control and with something that is spicy and looked so tasty I was a goner. I not only tasted but ate quiet a few and suffered from the worst stomach pain ever. Nothing serious happened just a lesson in holding the tongue and I was fine the next day.

    On a recent visit to DH's friend's house (his wife is an amazing cook) I saw some okra stir fry and it looked very inviting so I helped myself to of course a huge helping. As I was eating it along with the crunchy okra I bit into something smooth and soft. She revealed that it there were elephant yam pieces, don't think that stopped me enjoying the okra nope continued eating and waiting for the stomach pain to hit but thankfully nothing. She had used frozen yam, the freezing process probably blunted the enzymes that I was intolerant to. Ever since I have been thinking about my afore mentioned friend (I am all set to scour the networking sights to see if I can spot her somewhere) and also cooking the okra stir fry with taro root. Taro root when cooked has almost the same texture.

    So dear friend this dish is for you and I hope to find you soon and Alka hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


    Okra with Taro stir fry
    Ingredients
    1. 1 1/2 Cups of okra sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
    2. 4-5 Taro root cooked peeled and cubed
    3. 1/2 onion chopped
    4. 5 green chilies slit
    5. 2 Red chilies deseeded and torn in half
    6. seasonings: curry leaves, 2 tsp urad dal a pinch of mustard seeds and cumin seeds
    7. 1 tsp amchur powder (to remove the slime)
    8. 2 tsp turmeric powder
    Method
    1. Heat a kadai or wide mouthed pan and add oil when hot add the seasonings, urad dal first followed by curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds. When the mustard starts to pop
    2. add the chilies and the onion and fry till translucent
    3. add the okra and stir fry for about 5 minutes, now add the turmeric and amchur powder
    4. Add the taro root pieces and salt, continue to stir fry on low medium till the okra is completely cooked and the taro root turns brown on the outside (about 20 minutes)


    Tip: To reduce the okra slime, make sure the okra is well dried after washing. Once chopped again leave them in the sun to dry for a little bit. The amchur powder aids in removing the slime quickly, lemon juice or a tsp of yogurt helps as well.

    Serve with rice or chapatis. The kids absolutely loved it.

    Saturday, February 7, 2009

    Smoothie with cereal and fruits

    I made my peace with using frozen vegetables and fruits a while ago. Frozen vegetables and fruits I hear are sometimes fresher than their fresh counterparts available in grocery stores. Frozen vegetables are also sometimes the only way to enjoy some of the vegetables like peas, even though I believe there are grown here they are mostly available only frozen and occasionally I have seen fresh shelled peas but never sold in their pods. Wonder why?

    I sometimes make myself a smoothie for breakfast when I want something different from the usual smoothies are the first thing that come to mind. I don't particularly care for cereal and milk but the rest of the family enjoys them so there is always serveral different types lying around. I love the banana nut crunch but by itself like a snack. So if I could powder some of these along with the fruits and the milk, that would make for a substantial breakfast. It turned out to be pretty good and something I turned to often. The kids who love smoothies are not too fond of the cereal in their smoothie so this is strictly my breakfast alone. Besides the taste I like the color berries add to the smoothies be it strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries. During the winter months I have a couple of packets of these berries in the freezer just for the smoothies.

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    Fruits and Cereal Smoothie
    Ingredients
    1. 1/4 cup banana nut crunch cereal
    2. 1 ripe banana
    3. 1 apple
    4. 1/4 cup of berries (I used frozen strawberries and blackberries)
    5. 1/2 cup milk
    6. 2 tsp honey

    Method
    1. Powder the cereal in the blender first
    2. Now add the fruits,milk and honey and blend

    I had it around 8.30 AM and had me going till about 12.30 PM

    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Fish & Mushroom Noodle Soup

    "Health is Wealth". If you were a kid growing up in India, you must have heard the statement mentioned atleast once if not numerous times. It does make a lot of sense in the current political scenario as well. Daschle, the HHS (Health and Human Services) is a walking example of this saying or shall we say more appropriately chauffeur driven example? If you are a very rich (monetarily) and of poor health obviously the wealth is of no use. Yes? Poor joke. perhaps, but health(care) did make him wealthy and too much got him in trouble just like too much food even good food often makes people sick.


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    Michael Pollan in, In Defense of Food quotes Joan Gussow a strong proponent of unprocessed food as saying in a speech to "just eat food" and how items masquerading as food have taken over our grocery shelves. It is very important and makes lot of sense to follow the advice "Don't eat anything your grandmother would not recogonize". If this test is applied to food available in the grocery stores today, a whopping 80-90% would fail. Flavored yogurt and bread which used to be a regular in my cart is not there anymore, they woefully fail the grandmother test. I am not sure why I had been graviating towards buying flavored yogurt when homemade yogurt with a dash of sugar, fruits or honey is far more fresh and flavorful than the packaged stuff. If you have not read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan please do, it will open your eyes to food matters real quick.


    This soup is something that my grandmother probably would not recogonize perhaps, but there is no preprocessed stuff - which is in essence what the grandmother test is all about.

    Recipe Source: Taste of the East - Deh-Ta Hsiung, Rafi Fernadez, Steven Wheeler

    Fish and Mushroom Soup
    Ingredients
    1. 3 filets of tilapia (or any white fish) - replace with tofu for a vegeterian version
    2. 4 caps of portabella mushrooms cut into thin strips
    3. 1/8 package of rice noodles
    4. 2 1/2 cups of low-fat, low sodium chicken stock
    5. 2 tsp corn starch
    6. 2 tsp chili garlic sauce (I used maggi)
    7. 1 egg white
    8. 1 fistful fresh coriander leaves
    9. 2-3 tsp soy sauce
    10. 1 tsp sambhar powder (or chili powder or pepper powder)
    11. 1/2 tsp oil

    Method
    1. Cut the fish/tofu into small cubes and toss with the corn starch, chili garlic sauce and the egg white and let it sit for 20 minutes
    2. Cook the rice noodles according to the packaged instructions
    3. Heat a wide mouthed pan (or pressure cooker) and heat the oil and toss in the mushrooms and saute, add the sambhar powder and a bit of salt and let it cook.
    4. Now add the chicken stock and bring it to a rolling boil
    5. Add the fish pieces and poach them for a minute or two, followed by the cooked noodles, let it cook for a minute more
    6. Add the soy sauce and coriander leaves and turn off the heat.