Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spicy Curry with Lamb Riblets - Using a Pressure Cooker

While I am extremely adventurous while buying vegetables, fruits or grains as is evidenced by this multigrain experiment, meat is another matter altogether. I rarely venture out of my comfort zone. DH on the other hand is a bit more adventurous and willing to try something new. I am not too enthusiastic afraid that I will be entrusted with the job of cooking it in the last moment. That is how this rack of lamb came home.

While on that occasion, the rack of lamb was cooked by him with recipe he found. The riblets on the other hand though were bought by him but ended up being my responsibility in the last moment. Every recipe I stumbled upon required overnight or more than 8 hours of marination. When I complained he found this recipe that required only just enough time we had for marination and better yet a pressure cooker could be used. Pressure Cooker Indian Curry Lamb Spareribs from nom nom paleo.

The marination was done in curry powder. Easy.

Marinate the riblets with curry powder and salt. Mince the onions, garlic and ginger. Puree the tomatoes.
heat oil and brown the meat on both sides. Set aside.
Use the leftover oil from browning the meat and saute the onions, garlic and ginger till they are brown and add in the pureed tomatoes.
Add in the browned meat. Close the lid and pressure cook for 6 whistles - takes about 10-15 minutes.

What exactly is a riblet?

Lamb breast riblets are cut from the breast and contain ribs with meat and fat in layers. The cuts are long and narrow and are usually prepared by braising or by cooking in liquid.

Spicy Curry with Lamb Riblets
Preparation Time:3-4 hours marination time
Cooking Time:20-25 minutes
  1. 1 pack lamb riblets (has about 7-8 riblets)
  2. 2 tbsp curry powder
  3. 2 tsp red chili powder
  4. 1 red onion
  5. 3 medium size tomatoes
  6. 5 garlic cloves
  7. 2 inch piece of ginger
  8. 1 tbsp oil
  9. rock salt for marination
  10. 1 handful coriander leaves
  11. 1 tsp cumin powder
  12. juice from 1 lemon
  13. Note: I usually mince garlic, ginger and onion rather than blend it to a paste because the paste takes longer to cook. Do whatever is your preference.
  1. Wash and rub the riblets with the curry powder and rock salt and let it sit in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
  2. Using a food processor mince first garlic and ginger and set aside. Now mince the onions separately. (OR) Knife chop ginger,garlic and onions into small dice OR just blend all three in a blender to a fine puree.
  3. Cut one tomato into small dices. The other two using the same kitchen processor and make a puree so there is at least 1 1/2 cups of pulp.
  4. When ready to cook, heat a wide mouthed saute pan, add oil and when hot, brown the riblets on both sides. Do not use too much oil for this as the riblets themselves are very fatty. Set aside.
  5. In a pressure use the oil from browning the meat and when hot add the onions and saute till they become translucent. Add in the ginger, garlic mince and saute for another 2 minutes or so.
  6. Add in the chopped tomatoes saute for another couple of minutes. Now add the tomato pulp, cumin and chili powders and let come to a boil.
  7. Add in the browned riblets and most of the coriander leaves. Add 1 cup of water which is required for the lamb to cook and also the pressure cooker to function.
  8. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
  9. Close the pressure cooker and let it cook for 5-6 whistles. Takes about 10-15 minutes.
  10. Serve with some steamed white rice. Very tasty and glistening with the fat :)

Like what you are reading? Subscribe!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Grain of the Week -9 - Amaranth Grain - Rajgira - Punkirai(பூங்கீரை)

This quest for new grains has been interesting. I scan the grain shelves with much more interest and it is surprising the number of grains and seeds that I have never heard of before waiting to be found.

One such find was Amaranth grain. Nutty and tasty and can be easily used in place of rice. It is the seed of a variety of Amaranth plant which has bright red flowers. The variety of Amaranth that is most familiar to us is the perhaps with the tiny black seeds. I am not sure if they are used the same way as the white seeds.

Amaranth grains are gluten free. It is eaten during fasting in Northern India. I is an ancient grain and was the staple food of the Aztecs. It grows even in poor soil and spreads like weed.

Amaranth grain when cooked has a bright sheen. Check this link for the beautiful flower.

Like what you are reading? Subscribe!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ragi, Sorghum and Moong Dal Adai (Pesarattu) (Lentil and Millet spicy pancake)

Whole Ragi dosai, while it takes a little bit of planning and time tastes much better than dosai made with ragi flour. The sticky mealy feel of the dosai when it is made with ragi flour is completely absent. Truth be told after my mom introduced me to these whole ragi dosais I have not had the heart to buy ragi flour anymore even though I do not have ready access to whole ragi. End result far less usage of ragi. Sad. I know.

Anyway I had the last stash of whole ragi and sorghum which I wanted to put to good use. Adai is one of those dishes that is filling and also tasty. I have tried making Adai with several lentils like this one here. The Andhra style adai or pesarattu is made primarily with moong dal and that is what I decided to cook. Instead of the small amount of rice that is used I decided to use the whole ragi and sorghum.

Also Adai has been on my mind ever since my friend mentioned about the Adai/pesrattu she tasted at Whole Foods in DC. While these adai dosais are sometimes thick like uttampam/oothappam they can made crispy like a regular dosai roast.

I prefer them to be crispy and the side that goes best with this is just a simple coconut chutney.

Note:If you do not have ragi or sorghum try brown rice or just white rice.

Ragi, Sorghum and Moong Dal Adai - Lentil and Millet Spicy Pancake
Preparation Time:8 hours + 30 minutes + 8 hours (for presoaking the grains and lentils, grinding and fermenting)
Cooking Time:20-25 minutes

  1. 1 cup split Moong dal (paasi paruppu)
  2. 1/4 cup Sorghum
  3. 1/2 cup Whole Ragi
  4. 5 Red Chilies
  5. 2 inch piece of ginger
  6. small piece of asfoetida (a couple of pinches worth or slightly more)
  7. salt to taste
  8. oil to make the dosa
To Make the Batter
  1. Soak the Ragi, Sorghum and the Moong Dal overnight after they have been washed till the water runs clear. The next drain the soaking water and rinse once.
  2. Using a wet grinder or blender blend the grains and lentils. Start with the sorghum and when it is partially grounded add in the ragi and let them blend to a nearly smooth paste.
  3. At this point add in the soaked moong, red chilies, ginger and asfoetida and let them grind to a fairly smooth or slightly coarse paste.
  4. Add salt and remove to a container. Do not add too much water, just enough to be pourable consistency. Should be fairly thick.
  5. Set it in a warm place to ferment. I left it in an oven with the light on for about 8 hours.
  1. Heat a dosai pan or griddle and add a laddle full of the batter and spread fairly thin in a circle. Drizzle oil on the sides. Let cook on one side. Flip and cook for a minute on the other side.
Serve with coconut chutney or any coconut/yogurt based gravies for best taste.

Like what you are reading? Subscribe!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Barley Bowl with lentils and Avocado

I usually decide what to cook for dinner while sitting in traffic on the way home. I had planned on making a sambhar and a poriyal. Chard Sambhar and Green beans with canary beans poriyal to be exact. I reached home and the tiredness and this urge to just stretch my legs and do nothing took over. So the sambhar and poriyal combined themselves and became a Swiss Chard, Green Beans and Canary Beans sambhar. Nothing wrong is there?

Anyway on days like this one, recipes like this California Barley Bowl will surely come in handy. The inspiration for this recipe came from 101 Cookbooks - California Barley Bowl. I had replaced too many ingredients I thought that using the same name was just not fair. Moreover I am not the green salad leaves eating kind anyway. Around here we are not fond of cold salads rather warms salads like these are much preferred.

Barley Bowl with lentils and Avocado
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:15 minutes
  1. 1 cup of barley cooked
  2. 1 cup of lentils (I used whole Masoor) - puy lentils or any other lentil can be used - if preferred substitute with roasted nuts
  3. 1 Avocado
  4. 1 lemon/lime (I used Meyer lemon)
  5. 1 tbsp of chopped pickled jalapeno pepper
  6. 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  7. 1 cup of snow peas + 1 tsp of olive oil + salt and red chili powder
  8. Greek Yogurt
  9. Feta Cheese (we did not use any)
  10. 4 small Cucumbers sliced into rounds
  1. Cook barley till soft.
  2. Cook the lentils till soft and drain
  3. .
  4. Toss the snow peas with the olive oil, salt and red chili powder and roast till the peas are soft, I broil them till they are a bit dark and crunchy
  5. Roast the onions tossed with some oil
  6. Cut the Avocados into thin slices.
  7. In a bowl take some barley, some of the lentils, add some of the pickled jalapenos,roasted onions and snow peas and cucumbers. Squeeze the lime over the mixture.
  8. Serve with a dollop of Greek Yogurt. Sprinkle the feta cheese if using.

Like what you are reading? Subscribe!

Grain of the Week - 8 - Buckwheat Groats

I had started using buckwheat pancake mix long before I knew what buck wheat was. I also saw buck wheat advertised as gluten free and got a bit confused. Buckwheat is not wheat and is not related to wheat. Buckwheat is gluten free and the flour is used to make gluten free pancakes,cakes, cookies and noodles.

In the whole grain form the buckwheat is referred to as groats and is slightly greenish in color. The ones that are darker brown in color are toasted buckwheat called kasha.

Buckwheat is also a starchy grain and can be used as a substitute to rice. With a fairly low glycemic index it can also help to control sugar in the diet.

Like what you are reading? Subscribe!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Spicy baked fish (roasted) Sandwich

Every time I fell the urge to complain about having to cook after a boring hard day's work I try and bite my tongue. Increasingly as the kids grow up I realize that unlike religion, social habits or language which can be picked up later in life, food culture is something if I fail to impart early in their life they will be unwilling or rather unaware and will never learn it later in life.

I am glad I grew up with a food culture. It has given me a solid foundation on which to build on. Kids have to acquire the taste of a variety of foods and flavors early on. It is rare that someone picks these tastes later and sticks to them especially if you had a bad food culture at home to begin with.

When I came to the US I hardly knew how to cook a proper meal but my tongue accustomed to a certain food culture found it hard to adapt to a totally different food culture in which meat played a predominant role in any meal. Though I grew up eating chicken, fish, goat - all the meats that a non-vegetarian in India would eat, I cannot eat meat every single day leave alone every meal. Adding to that food that was available was bland and the taste too subtle for me to even call tasty.

I got baptized by fire literally and quickly learned to cook meals that fit in to my food culture. The home made foods that we grew up eating were varied and prepared with fresh ingredients were not loaded with salt or fat or any unsavory (no pun intended) elements. I strongly believe that it was the food culture that kept me on track and prevented me from falling into the fast good, packaged meals trap.

I also want the kids to learn that eating healthy foods does not have to be hard and require long cooking time. It can be done quickly and it can be tastier than fast food or take out.

Marinated fish ready for baking
Prepared and ready to eat.

Take this baked fish for example, it requires minimum effort and the results are very tasty. Any white fleshed fish will work. I have tried it with fresh trout that I picked up Whole Foods, with Tilapia - though I am not fond of this fish and with Hake (frozen from Costco. As long it is a firm fleshed fish, but a very strong flavored fish like Salmon will not work. Marinate the fish for at least 4-5 hours minimum. I usually marinate the fish in the morning if I was going to cook it that evening.

Also make sure you pick up a loaf of crusty bread. We like eating them with a baguette or a torta bread. Mayonnaise and fish go very well together. My favorite kind of mayonnaise is Duke's with an ingredient list that does not make me freak.

Spicy Baked Fish Sandwich
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:15 minutes
  1. 4 loins/filets of a firm white fleshed fish of your choice (I used Hake loins)
  2. 1 tbsp of basting oil (this was a store bought graped seed - canola oil with herbs - perfect for roasting vegetables and fish) (see Note:)
  3. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder or pepper powder
  4. 1-2 tsp of turmeric powder
  5. 1/2 tsp of salt or to taste
  6. 1 red onion sliced
  7. Bread for the sandwich - baguette or Torta or Ciabatta
  8. Mayonnaise
  9. Marinating the fish
  10. Wash and pat dry the fish.
  11. Mix together the oil, red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt to make it to thick paste. Just enough oil to completely moisten the powders.
  12. Apply the spice paste on each of the fish on the top and sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-8 hours
  13. Note: If you do not have basting oil, use olive/canola/grape seed oil and dried thyme, dried parsley and garlic powder
  14. If using frozen fish filets/loins thaw them first before marinating.

  1. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare the cooking sheet lined with aluminum foil, apply some of the same oil on the surface, and place the fish pieces all separate.
  2. Toss the onions with the oil and arrange them alongside the fish.
  3. Bake for 6 minutes, check the fish and if required bake for another 6 minutes. Ours took the full 12 minutes. The fish has to be flaky and white not glassy when it is completely cooked.
  4. Split the baguette or any of the sandwich bread you are going to use, apply some olive oil or butter and let it heat in the oven for 2-3 minutes along side the fish or after the fish is baked.
  5. Apply mayonnaise on both insides of the bread, line with onion, sauteed mushrooms and the baked fish. Close the bread slices over the fish.

Sauteed Mushrooms
  1. 2 cups of sliced mushrooms (any kind)
  2. 4 green Thai chilies chopped into thin rounds
  3. salt to taste
  4. 1 tsp oil
  5. Heat oil in a pan and when hot add the green chilies and let it fry for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and salt and let them cook till the water let out by mushrooms is completely evaporated.

Like what you are reading? Subscribe!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vegetarian Yakisoba Noodles

The last two winters were mild that we had gotten used to it. So when the severe winter storm that came last night dumped all that snow (15 inches based on our non-scientific measurement) it shook us into getting ready for the shoveling. Luckily when we got out to shovel the snow it was not windy or too cold.

The roads are unplowed and this is the time I feel acutely about being cooped inside. Looks like some more snow is on the way and I am already tired of it. There is nothing much that can be done about it. Just grin it and bear it. But there is something that can be done about what I want to eat in the cold weather.

Chuka Soba Noodles
Chopped green onions and vegetables.
Saute the vegetables once the green onions are sauteed.
Add the noodles and all the sauces.
Toss the noodles well so the noodles is well coated with the sauce.

Yakisoba noodles - the first time I heard of it was when I tasted some at Costco and picked up a box of frozen Yakisoba. It was well liked and enjoyed thoroughly. The only problem, it was very oily and a bit sweet. Then at our local newly opened Wegmans I found packets of some Chuka Soba Curly Noodles, just what I wanted to try my own version of the yakisoba. These noodles are tasty all by themselves so whatever you do with them will turn out tasty as well.

Vegetarian Yakisoba Noodles
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:20-25 minutes
  1. 1 packet Chuka Soba or any Japanese style noodles 5 oz
  2. Shredded Vegetable 2 Cups (or 3). I used carrots, green beans, cabbage, green bell peppers
  3. 1 green onion bunch (end cut off) and chopped
  4. 2 tsp pepper powder
  5. 1 tbsp soy sauce
  6. 1 tbsp chili sauce
  7. 1/2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  8. salt to taste
  9. 1/2 tbsp oil
  1. In a wide mouthed pan or a wok heat the oil. Add the green onions and saute till they are wilted.
  2. As the vegetables are getting cooked, get the noodles ready as per instructions on the package. Drain and run cold water, drain completely and set aside.
  3. Add in the carrots and green beans and saute for about 6-8 minutes till they are half way cooked, add in the bell pepper and cabbage,sprinkle salt and the pepper powder and let them be cooked. Takes another 4-5 minutes.
  4. Now add the noodles, soy sauce, chili sauce and the garlic sauce and toss them around on low medium flame till the noodles are well coated.
  5. Add more salt if required.
  6. Note:Scrambled eggs and shrimp could be added. Cook the shrimp before adding the onions, remove and add them back in after adding the noodles.

Like what you are reading? Subscribe!