Friday, November 28, 2014

Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Around this time of the year sweet potatoes are very popular and making pies with them seems to be the recipe of choice, which calls for adding about a cup of sugar. Won't this smother the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes? That is my opinion and pumpkin and sweet potato pies are not my thing anyway.

That reminds me of the Diabetes supplement that came along with the Washington Post. It had some sobering information that the number of people with diabetes has gone through the roof compared to the 50s especially Type 2 among young people. Type 2 diabetes among the young population has a lot to do with diet. Our sweet tooth combined with the stealth inclusion of sugar by food manufacturers, the per capita sugar consumption keeps going up. Doctors say that added sugar in the form of fructose is far worse than sucrose which comes from sugar beets or sugar cane. As expected the Corn Refiners Association says that it is unfair to single out one particular ingredient. So while each association argues for its own product consumers are the ones who suffer.

Though many of us know that added sugar in beverages such as soda, sports drinks and energy drinks and they are bad, there are other foods like pasta sauce, salad dressing and yogurt which have the reputation of being healthy but unfortunately are all stealth carriers of sugar and perhaps more harmful. The daily sugar limit for women is about 6 tsp and for men it is about 9 tsp (1 tsp = 4 grams) which can be had from a single serving cup of yogurt which I shockingly discovered. For more information read this article “Targeting Americans' sweet tooth” .

Sugar has no starring role in today's recipe but the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes is amplified when they are roasted and they taste much better than any sugar be it sucrose or fructose. Moreover sweet potatoes when compared to regular potatoes are considered to be better though it does not bear out by the nutrition profile. The big problem is how potatoes are usually cooked - french fries, deep fried, baked but smothered with sour cream and other cheesy topping which is usually the problem.

Because sweet potatoes are sweet, I am guessing they are eaten boiled or roasted which is perhaps why it is considered more healthier.

I make these Sweet Potato fries often which are very tasty but these roasted potatoes in some ways are easier and with the added garlic are also just as tasty.

Jersey Sweet Potatoes, with skin peeled.
Heat water in a pot and boil the potatoes till they are partially cooked. Take care not not to overcook them.
Add the oil and spices to the cooked potatoes .
Toss the potatoes in the oil and spice and spread in a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Broil for 4-5 minutes to brown the potatoes on the top.

To make roasted sweet potatoes be it fries or cubed I prefer the white fleshed sweet potatoes which are called Jersey White Sweet Potatoes. In texture they are very similar to the Indian sweet potato. They take a bit longer to cook than the orange fleshed sweet potato and does not get mushy that quickly.

Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:45 minutes
  1. 3 medium sized sweet potatoes (I used Jersey Sweet Potatoes
  2. 2 tbsp of basting oil (or olive oil)
  3. 4 garlic cloves minced fine
  4. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
  5. salt to taste

  1. Peel the sweet potatoes and dice them into bite sized pieces. (see Note:)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  3. Cook the diced sweet potatoes in boiling water for 3-5 minutes that is if you are using a sweet potato that takes longer to cook. They should be only partially cooked. Take care not to overcook them. If using the quick cooking orange fleshed sweet potato do not boil them.
  4. Toss the sweet potatoes in the oil, minced garlic, chili powder and salt.
  5. Spread the tossed sweet potatoes in a single layer on a baking sweet and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes till they start to brown. If required broil them for another 5 minutes.
  6. Note:After the potatoes have been peeled, they tend to discolor quickly, so keep them submerged in water.
  7. The basting oil I used had herb in them so feel free to add any chopped herbs of your preference.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Spicy Pan Roasted Cornish Hen

Thanksgiving is here almost. The holiday that all of America waits for. This year along with the anticipation of the holiday there is anxiety about the snow storm that is paying us a visit. From 8-9 inches to an inch of snow on just the grassy areas, the forecast is all over the place. While this is nothing compared to the 7 feet of snow that Buffalo got, I am a snow wimp and snow being snow bothers me. Whatever the weather in your neck of the woods have yourself a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving means turkey! But if you are like me and turkey is not your thing but you'd still like to cook some poultry I'd suggest giving Cornish Hen a try. Cornish Hens are young chickens that are grown for the meat specifically. Lighter and more tastier than the regular chicken, these cook really quickly.

Most recipes have seen for Cornish Hens call for roasting the bird whole which might work just as well for the Thanksgiving meal. Cornish hen can be used in all of the Indian recipes too. Cornish Hens are fairly new to me and I rarely if ever buy them. Got the urge to try them out after I tasted some fantastic pan roasted Cornish Hen at my friend's. Cut up and pan roasted with just chili powder and salt they were delicious. So following my friends recipe I gave Cornish Hens a try. They were delicious and they vanished without a trace as quickly as they were made.

As we are talking of food and giving Thanks for all that we have we could perhaps spare a few moments to think about those less fortunate among us and also the farm workers who live without the most basic rights that all of us take for granted. These are the people without whom we won't be enjoying the bounty on our tables. Even in the affluent county that we live in there is apparently food insecurity among record numbers of people. Food pantries that work in your local area could targets of your generosity.

With skin and skin removed.
Chop the chicken and add chili powder and salt and let it sit for sometime. Heat oil in a cast iron pan and the chicken pieces.
Cover and let it cook for 8-10 minutes. Open the lid saute till most of the moisture is gone, add the onions, garlic and green chilies if doing so.
Continue to saute till all the moisture is evaporated and the chicken is nicely roasted.

Cornish Hen is very tender so most of the bones and are also edible. If you want it roasted more add a bit more oil and continue till you reach the desired stage.

Spicy Pan Roasted Cornish Hen
Preparation Time:15 minutes (or 30 minutes if marinating)
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 2 Cornish Hens cut into pieces of desired size (see Note:)
  2. 1/2 cup sliced onions (optional see Note:)
  3. 4-5 slit green chilies (optional)
  4. 4-5 garlic cloves sliced (optional)
  5. 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  6. 1/2 tbsp of chicken masala powder (optional)
  7. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  8. salt to taste
  9. 1 tbsp oil

  1. Cut the Cornish Hen just like you would a normal chicken, separate out the wings, thighs and then slit the breast in half and cut that into half. Wash well with turmeric powder and water, drain as much water as possible. Add a portion of the chili powder and salt and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Letting it sit is purely optional and does not have to be done.
  2. In a cast iron pan or in a thick bottomed wide mouthed pan, heat oil and when it is hot add the chopped chicken pieces.
  3. In high heat let the outside of the chicken sear about 3-4 minutes, as the cooking process begins close with a lid and let it cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Open the lid, there will be a lot of moisture in the pan at this stage, add the chicken masala powder and the rest of the chili powder and salt if required and continue to saute in medium heat till the moisture has evaporated (about 6-8 minutes). Now add the onions, garlic and green chilies if adding and continue to saute till the moisture is completely gone and the chicken looks well roasted.
  5. Note:I removed the skin before cutting up the Cornish Hen. You can leave it on, it gets roasted as well. I left the skin on the wings and could not notice it.
  6. The onions, green chilies and garlic give a little bit of masala and it tastes great with the roasting. Can be left out if not desired.
  7. We like the chicken to be tender and moist, if you prefer a more drier version, add a bit more oil and continue to saute till it starts to brown on the edges.
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dried Seer fish dry curry - Karuvadu pirattal

I was listening to I think it was the CBS morning show. The segment was talking about everyday health. As I switched to the show I heard them talking about home cooked meals and how a family that eats at least 7-8 home cooked meals a weeks is supposedly healthier than one that doesn't. Eating at home and cooking like everything else is a habit. It is also about getting an interest in cooking so it does not seem like a chore.

So while there are dishes that I cook on a weekday nights there are certain others that are set aside for weekends. The recipe for today is one such. This is a recipe from my SriLankan friend. While she and I cook a lot of the same dishes, the way we cook them is very different. This recipe for dried fish is made as per her suggestion.

Heat oil in a cast iron pan and add the onions, chilies and garlic and saute till they get translucent.
Add in the chopped tomatoes and saute till the tomatoes become mushy. Add the turmeric and chili powder and mix well.
Once the tomatoes and onions are fully cooked and start to leave the sides add the dried fish and cook for another 6-8 minutes till it is well coated.

The dried fish I used was Larich branch Dried Seer Fish which already had chilies, of course salt and also lime. If you have just the dried fish you might want to add some vinegar or lime juice.

Dried Seer fish dry curry - Karvadu Pirattal
Preparation Time:5 minutes
Cooking Time:30 minutes
  1. about a cup of dried fish(I used Larich Seer Dried Fish) (see Note:)
  2. 1/2 onion - 1/2 cup thinly sliced
  3. 4 garlic cloves chopped
  4. 6 green chilies slit
  5. 1/4 cup of tomatoes chopped
  6. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  7. 2 tsp chili powder
  8. 1 tbsp lime juice or vinegar
  9. 1/2 - 1 tbsp of oil
  1. Heat oil in a pan - if using plain dried fish first fry the dried fish and set aside.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and green chilies and saute till the onion is translucent and is starting to turn brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes and saute till it soft and mushy.
  4. Add the turmeric and chili powder, mix well and saute till the oil start to separate from the sides (about 15 minutes).
  5. Add in the dried fish (If using just plain dried fish add in the lime juice / vinegar) and continue to saute till it is well coated - about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Note:I used pre fried dried fish, if using plain dried fish it has to be fried a bit first before using in the recipe.
Serve with steamed white rice.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dry Mushroom Masala

DD2 loves mushrooms and when my mother was here visiting she made a mushroom masala which seems to have become her favorite preparation. She called my mom got the recipe and decided to cook it herself and it did come out well.

The part that you have to be watchful about when making a dry masala dish with mushrooms is the moisture it releases once it starts to cook. You can add the masala after the water from the mushrooms has completely evaporated or add the masala in the beginning and then cook till most of the moisture is evaporated.

Wash and dry the mushrooms and cut into quarters.
Get the ingredients for the masala ready.
In a saute pan heat oil and saute the spices and when they start to turn color transfer to a blender.
In the same add more oil if required and saute the onions,garlic and ginger, transfer to the blender and blend to a fairly smooth paste.
In a wide mouthed pan heat oil add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add the mushroo, and saute.
Add the blended masala and continue to cook till the water is evaporated and the masala is well coated .

Dry Mushroom Masala
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 2 lbs of mushrooms washed and cut 4s
  2. seasoning: mustard seeds and curry leaves
  3. salt to taste
  4. 1-2 tsp of oil
  5. For the masala
  6. a little less than 1/4 cup of onions chopped (use more if you want more masala)
  7. 2 cloves of garlic
  8. 1 inch of fresh ginger
  9. 1/2 tbsp of coriander seeds
  10. 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  11. 5-6 red chilies
  12. small piece of cinnamon stick
  13. few cloves

  1. In wide mouthed pan heat oil, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add in the cut mushrooms and let it cook. While the mushrooms are cooking get te masala paste ready.
  2. In a saute pan, heat oil and saute the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and red chilies till they start to turn color and give a good aroma.
  3. Transfer to a blender and in the same pan saute the onions, garlic and ginger till the onions become translucent and start to turn brown on the edges. Transfer to the blender and let cool and blend the onions along with the spices to a fairly smooth paste.
  4. AS the mushroom cooks it will release a lot of water. Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes and add in the masala paste and salt. Continue to cook till all the water is absorbed and the mushrooms are coated with the masala.

Serve with steamed rice or as a side.

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