Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving - An Indian Table

I am not quite saying that the Thanksgiving table in our house resembles any other Indian Thanksgiving table. I make dishes that we like and try to incorporate Thanksgiving vegetables and roots that generally round out a Thanksgiving meal.

This time around we had Cranberries, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Carrots and Butternut Squash. Goat meat made up the meat component.

Cranberries are so versatile they can be twisted to take part in any Indian recipe I have come to realize.

The recipes for all the dishes are on the blog

Getting ready!


Ready!!


Clockwise from nearest,

  1. Mutton Biryani
  2. Masala Green Beans and Navy Beans Stir Fry
  3. Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Curry
  4. Carrot Kheer
  5. White Rice
  6. Cucumber - Onion Raita
  7. Cranberry Relish

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cranberry Relish - Sweet and Spicy

Every Thanksgiving like everybody else I get the urge to buy a bag of cranberries. Some years it is a month before I actually cook something with it. It was different this year they got cooked on Thanksgiving Day.

Cranberries I hear are very good for the digestive tract. Cranberry juice is very often prescribed for people with urinary tract infections. There are studies that show that cranberries don't really make a difference and it is just a placebo effect but I still swear by cranberries.

My grandmom makes mango pachadi with green mangoes and I tried the same recipe with cranberries.

Spicy Relish
While I made spicy cranberry relish DD made the sweet cranberry relish. The spicy relish goes well with rice whereas the sweet relish is great on crackers.

I have also tried making cranberry thokku like we do with tamarind for rice. That is a good recipe too. If you have fresh cranberries give these a try.
Sweet Relish
Cranberry Relish - Spicy Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of fresh cranberries
  2. 1/4 cup of chopped onion or shallots
  3. 6 green chilies
  4. 1/2 tbsp jaggery or any sugar
  5. 1 tsp of red chili powder
  6. seasonings: mustard seeds and curry leaves
  7. 1 tsp of oil
  8. salt to taste
Method
  1. In a sauce pan heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  2. Add in the green chilies and onions and saute till the onions are slightly brown.
  3. Add in the cranberries with the heat set to below medium high.
  4. Add in the chili powder and salt and cook smashing the cranberries with the back of the spoon.
  5. When all the cranberries are softened (take about 10 minutes) add the jaggery and turn off the heat in another 5 minutes.
Cranberry Relish - Sweet
  1. 1 Cup fresh cranberries
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 tbsp orange juice
  4. 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  5. a pinch of nutmeg
Method
  1. In a saucepan add the cranberries, sugar,cinnamon stick and 1 cup of water and let it come to a boil
  2. The cranberries should start popping, add in the orange juice and cook for 8-10 minutes till the water has evaporated and all the cranberries have popped and the mixture is smooth.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Curry

Happy Thanksgiving!
I was discussing Thanksgiving with a co-worker yesterday. She had purchased a 14 lb turkey and was looking forward to cooking it with family visiting her. She asked me what I was going to cook. She gave a laugh when I mentioned I might cook some goat biryani, thought I was joking but she quickly realized I was serious. The first Thanksgiving had deer on the menu so goat maybe not that far off don't you think?

.
Squash with white sweet potato
Cooking a whole turkey is a whole day job so unless I was real serious turkey is way too much. The dark meat turkey biryani maybe but a whole turkey? No!.

We also got around to discussing sides. I try to have sweet potato, green beans, cranberry for a thanksgiving dinner but with an Indian twist of course.

When I saw this pumpkin recipe on Veggie Belly I knew I was going to give it a try. I made it with butternut squash and sweet potato. I also tried it with acorn squash and pie pumpkin but was not too crazy about it because both tend to be stringy. The sweet creamy butternut squash or sweet potato is what suits this recipe best.

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Curry
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 butternut squash about 2 cups diced
  2. 2 Sweet potatoes (use the orange or white) diced
  3. 1/4 cup of diced onions
  4. 2 tbsp curry powder any brand - I used homemade Kuzhambu thool
  5. 1/2 tsp of red chili powder - optional as per heat requirement
  6. 2 tbsp of fresh coconut grated or 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
  7. salt to taste
  8. seasonings: mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves
  9. 1 tsp oil
  10. 1 tsp turmeric powder
Method
  1. Heat oil in a wide mouthed pan and add the seasoning. When the mustard starts to pop add the onions and saute till they are soft.
  2. Add the cubed squash and sweet potato and the curry powder, turmeric powder and mix well. Add about 1 cup of water and let it cook till the squash is almost cooked. Takes about 8-10 minutes. Do not overcook. Add salt.
  3. If using fresh coconut make a paste and add it to curry. Let boil for another 5-6 minutes.
Serve with chapathis or rice.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Snow Peas and Zucchini Salad with Pineapple

Have you heard of MOOCs? It seems they are all the rage among students now. It stands for Massive Open Online Courses. A couple of years ago I was looking to register for a course and went searching online and discovered a treasure trove of courses available for free from most major universities like Standford, MIT, JHU, Harvard and many more top rated universities. I had not heard of MOOCs then. Not all subjects and courses are available from all the universities but if the ones you want are available you are in luck. Gives you an opportunity to study from the comfort of your own living room. Can't beat that?

Some of these courses are available as video lectures which are obviously more fun than just reading through the course material. Unlike a classroom there is no interaction with fellow students of course and you need to have self discipline to start and complete the course on time which was the more daunting task once I had discovered what I wanted and saved perhaps a few thousand dollars in fees.

The possibilities are endless. Also a lot of these universities are debating whether to give credits for a course taken in a MOOC and how to evaluate them. This might be the way you finish your degree course requirements perhaps!

Compared to a classroom that serve between a 100 and 200 students these online courses serve tens of thousands of students from all over the globe. Pretty powerful stuff this online thing. Who knew!!

If you are looking to learn about something maybe MOOC has something.

Now on to the recipe,

Salads are important, eating green leafy vegetables is good and all that but eating uncooked greens every single day is no fun. I am OK with cooking green leafy vegetables but eating raw salads everyday is tough. Anyway if you are just like me (I am not the only one at home) try this salad. It was well liked and we will be making it often.

Snow Peas and Zucchini Salad with Pineapple Ingredients
  1. Pineapple chunks about 1/2 cup (substitute with fruit of choice)
  2. Snow Peas about a cup (substitute with green beans)
  3. 1 Zucchini sliced into rounds
  4. Pickled banana pepper 6-8 round chopped fine
  5. 2 tsp olive oil
  6. 1 tsp pepper powder + salt
  7. 1/2 tbsp dressing - I used Chipotle Raspberry dressing or make your own (see below)
For the dressing
Whisk together
  1. 1 tsp honey
  2. 1 tsp chili sauce or any hot sauce
  3. 1/2 tsp strawberry or raspberry jam or any jam
  4. 1 tsp lemon juice
Method
  1. Par boil the snow peas in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, drain and set aside
  2. Roast the zucchini with a sprinkle of pepper powder and salt till tender (has to have some crunch still)
  3. In a sauce pan heat the olive oil and add the pineapple chunks, let it caramelize for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in the snow peas, pickled peppers and the dressing and toss together.
  5. Toss in the zucchini and gently mix it in so it does not break.
  6. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Masala Green Beans(stir fried) with Navy Beans

Every trip to the grocery store is not complete without a bag of green beans. Seems like they are available year around. They are not as crispy and delicious in the winter months but they add bit of green to an otherwise orange Fall.

Green beans tend to taste blah but once they are hit with a bit of spice and heat from the chili pepper they undergo a transformation that makes you wanting more.

Other great thing with green beans is they play the perfect supporting cast in a lot of dishes.

If you are looking to cook something with green beans with an Indian twist for this thanksgiving that is different from the usual fare here are few recipes that might be of interest.

  1. Green Beans with Onion paste
  2. Masala Potatoes with Green Beans
  3. Green Beans with lentils(moong dal)


Now on to today's recipe. I have used navy beans but any beans that you like can be used. I am thinking black beans, white or red kidney beans, black eyed peas or even black chick peas. I like the navy beans because of their taste and for the color. As for the masala powder it is great to have this handy and can be used in Indian style vegetable stir fries with any vegetable.

Masala Green Beans(stir fried) with Navy Beans
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 lb of green beans or about 2 cups chopped. chopped into thin rounds
  2. 1/2 cup of chopped onions (I used shallots)
  3. 2 cups of navy beans soaked overnight
  4. seasonings: mustard seeds, cumin seeds, pinch of asfoetida and curry leaves
  5. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 8 red chilies broken in half and seeds removed
  7. 1 -2 tbsp of fresh or frozen coconut
  8. 1 tsp of oil
  9. salt to taste
For the Masala Powder
  1. 1 tbsp split urad dal
  2. 1 tsp of black pepper
  3. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 1 red chili
Roast the above and powder
Method
  1. Cook the navy beans till they are fully cooked but not mushy
  2. In a sauce pan add a tbsp of water and cook the green beans with a tiny bit of turmeric powder. They should be just about cooked. (see note)
  3. Heat a wide mouthed pan (kadai) and heat a tsp of oil and when hot add the seasonings.
  4. Add the red chilies and onions and cook till the onions are soft. Add salt.
  5. Add in the green beans and mix it in the onion mixture.
  6. Add in the drained navy beans and let them cook for about 5-6 minutes. They don't have to cook too long because the beans are already cooked.
  7. Sprinkle the masala powder and mix it in and cook for 3-4 minutes more.
  8. Add the coconut mix it in and turn of the heat.
Great as a side with rice and paruppu (cooked lentils) or with chapathis.
Note:
1. Green Beans can be cooked in the kadai just after the onions have been sauteed. I like to precook the beans separately as they tend to retain their crunch better this way.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Deepavali!

Dear Readers,

Wishing you all a Very Happy Deepavali!

Curry flavored Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Looks like those carving pumpkin can be put to a lot of edible use! The kids and DH like roasted pumpkin seeds and he had asked me to save the seeds. I did. They are a great snack especially if you are watching a movie like the latest Bond movie for instance.

This one has a few of my favorite actors the movie I mean like Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem and of course Daniel Craig. All of us enjoyed the movie while DD2 took a nap in the theater! Javier Bardem gave her the creeps. The last movie I saw of Bardem was "No country for old men" where he was at his creepiest best. This bond movie just adds to that. But he is no doubt a fantastic actor.

That was just a figure of speech, you can't take outside food inside the movie theater so you buy a big tub of popcorn and settle down to watch.


While we are on the topic of watching, do you watch 'The Good Wife'? That and 'Last Resort' are two of my favorite shows. Any other interesting shows that any of you are watching?

Now for the recipe, this is how DH makes it.

Curry flavored Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Cleaning the seeds
Once the seeds are out of the pumpkin, run them under water in a colander and remove the pumpkin strings and pulp. Once clean spread them on a kitchen towel and let dry.
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of cleaned and dried pumpkin seeds
  2. 1/2 - 3/4 tsp of sambhar powder or any curry powder
  3. salt to taste
  4. a sprinkle of oil or cooking spray
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. In the meantime mix together all of the ingredients so the oil and spices are coated on the seeds.
  2. Prepare a baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. Spread the seeds on the sheet so they are in single layer.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or till they start to acquire a slightly brown and toasted look. Let cool before transferring to a container.

Note: 1. If you are not using an oven use a skillet to toast the seeds. No oil is required, add the seeds when the skillet is hot and roast till the seeds start to turn color.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Kofta Curry - Light

The election results besides revealing who will occupy the White House for the next 4 years also revealed that I have to work on my English language pronunciation skills. I have a problem with people not understanding when I say the word 'vote'. I say 'vote' most people think I am saying boat, work or whatever but not vote. Looks like I never learned to pronounce the letters 'v' or 'w' properly. I have always had problems ordering a Vanilla ice cream without the person taking the order saying huh? multiple times. Anyways with proper training and help I vow to be a perfect pronouncer by the time the next election cycle rolls around.

The other thing I noticed the day after the election is the absolute silence on TV. The commercials which sell products are bad and loud enough but those selling a political candidate or message are thousand times more annoying. I am glad we will get a reprieve on that for now.


As promised here is the next recipe which uses the roasted pumpkin pulp. I had to improvise and use corn meal and bread crumbs while making the kofta you are free to use besan but the corn meal added a crunchy texture to the koftas. I had pumpkin pulp ready, the potatoes were cooked and found out I did not have enough besan.

The kofta curries are usually creamy and rich. This one is lighter and does not feel as heavy. I use yogurt instead of the cream to give the texture and taste.

Make it a point to make extra koftas to for a quick snack later. They freeze beautifully and with some ketchup or hot sauce they are a ready made evening snack.

Pumpkin Kofta Curry Ingredients for kofta (makes about 30)
(We will use about 15 koftas for the curry)
  1. 3 cups of pumpkin pulp>
  2. 2 potatoes cooked and mashed about 1 cup
  3. 1 tbsp grated ginger
  4. 1 tbsp of finely chopped coriander leaves
  5. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder
  6. 2 tbsp besan (see note)
  7. 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  8. 1/4 cup of corn meal
  9. 2 tsp of salt
  10. 1/4 cup of oil for shallow frying

Method
  1. In a mixing bowl add together all the ingredients and bring them together so they can hold together when made into small round balls.
  2. Make balls with a diameter of about 1 1/2 inches.
  3. Heat about 2 tbsp of oil in a saute pan and when the oil is hot place as many kofta balls as can fit with a bit of room to move around.
  4. Let them cook till they turn brown on one side about 3-4 minutes, flip and let cook on the other side another 3-4 minutes. Remove and drain on power towels. Save the oil for using in the curry.

For the Curry Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of roughly chopped red onions about 3/4 of a medium sized red onion
  2. 5 garlic cloves cut in half
  3. 2 inch piece of garlic peeled and chopped roughly
  4. 1 1/2 roma tomatoes chopped roughly about 3/4 cup
  5. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder (or as per taste)
  6. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  7. 1 tsp of cumin powder
  8. 2 tsp of curry masala powder (any curry powder will do)
  9. 1/4 cup of yogurt(made with 1% milk) whisked (for a vegan version skip this and add a 1/4 cup of thick coconut milk)
  10. 1 tbsp of cashews soaked in about a tbsp of water, for nut free use same quantity of poppy seeds
  11. salt to taste
  12. 2 tsp of oil
  13. 1 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves
  14. 1/4 tsp of cumin seeds
  15. 1 tbsp of finely chopped onions

Method
  1. Heat a bit of oil in a saute pan and saute the onions, garlic and ginger and when the onion starts to turn brown add the tomatoes and when they turn soft. Turn off the heat, allow to cool and blend to a smooth paste.
  2. Heat a wide mouthed pan and add about 2 tsp of oil. When hot add the cumin seeds followed by the onions and saute till they start to turn brown.
  3. Add all the masala powders other than the curry powder and mix it into the onions.
  4. Now add the blended masala with about 1/2 cup of water and let it cook on medium low heat.
  5. Blend the cashews and add it in. Let it cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Bring the heat all the way to low and add the whisked yogurt and mix it in. (see note). Add salt. The consistency of the gravy depends on how watery or thick you want. When the yogurt if fully mixed in raise the heat back to medium low and let cook for about 5-8 minutes.
  7. Add the chopped coriander leaves and the curry powder and cook for a couple of minutes more.
  8. Gently put the koftas inside the gravy. I used about 15 koftas. Let it cook for another 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for another 15 minutes before serving.
  9. Great with rice or any Indian bread.

Note: 1. Use about 3/4th cup of besan instead of panko bread crumbs and corn meal. 2. While adding yogurt if the heat is on high the yogurt will break. So bring the heat to low and then add the yogurt.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes (with roasted pumpkin)

I assume you put your Halloween pumpkin to good use and have roasted pumpkin and the pulp ready to go. If you already have or do plan to roast some pumpkin here is a quick breakfast recipe that is easy to make and is a great for freezing. They come in very handy for those rushed mornings.

Roasted pumpkin pulp

batter ready to go

Ready to flip, notice the bubbles



I started roasting the pumpkin in the morning and by evening I had used the pulp in 2 recipes one for breakfast and one for lunch. If you think that is an overdose of pumpkin for one day feel free to freeze the pulp and use on another day.


Pumpkin Recipes
Ingredients: Make 30 pancakes
  1. 4 cups of roasted pumpkin pulp
  2. 4 1/2 cups of White whole wheat flour
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 2 tsp of baking soda
  5. 2 tsp of sugar
  6. a pinch of salt
  7. 2 cups of milk (I added 1% milk) + enough water to make the batter
Method
    Whisk the eggs and milk and set aside. Mix together the dry ingredients and the pumpkin pulp and add the milk / egg mixture and keep mixing. If the batter is too thick add water to bring it to pourable consistency. Let it sit for about 20-30 minutes.
  1. Heat a griddle and when hot spray with oil and add a laddle of pancake batter. Let cook on one side till you start to see bubbles to appear on top. Flip cook on the other side.

Serve with just a bit of fresh butter on top.
Note:
Pancakes lend themselves to be frozen and reheated pretty well. Flash freeze the excess pancakes.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin - How to roast a pumpkin - a pictorial

Halloween time is synonymous with pumpkin and wondering what to do with all that pumpkin. When the DDs were younger they took visits to the pumpkin patch and brought home pumpkins but these days unless I buy them there is no reason for the huge pumpkins to make their way to our house. The huge pumpkins seem a waste to buy, carve and then throw away. Anyway these pumpkins huge, not as sweet and stringy but they do have a lot of pulp.

DD2 and I made a visit to the local grocery store the day before Halloween and day after hurricane Sandy had upended our lives (but not as much as they did to people in NY and NJ). I had to pick up a few essentials. DD2 looked at the pumpkins and wanted one for carving. As I was explaining to her why I will not be buying a pumpkin, the store employee said the pumpkins were free and gave me a look that said I had no reason to refuse anymore. So, I picked 2, one for the DDs to carve and the other to cook with.

The firs step was to roast the pumpkins. Save the seeds while cleaning the pumpkins and the roasted pulp will be used in 2 recipes coming soon.

How to roast a pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash the pumpkin before starting to chop.

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Clean the seeds and save them.

Cut the half of the pumpkin into 8 wedges.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the pumpkins on the sheet cut side down. Bake for 25 minutes.


The total baking time is about 50 minutes. Half way flip the pumpkin so the skin side goes on the bottom.


Bake skin side down for another 25 minutes.

The pumpkin is done roasting when you stick a knife and there is no resistance.

Use a spoon to scoop out the pulp.