Friday, October 30, 2015

Spicy Squash Paratha - Roasted North Georgia Candy Roaster

There are squashes and then there are squashes. When I was looking for squash seeds to plant that is different from the usual squash varieties that are found here like the butternut and acorn and decided on 'North Georgia Candy Roaster'. With a name like 'candy roaster' what is there to lose? The only thing I knew about it was that it would taste just like sweet potatoes when roasted.

The plant was a joy to watch in the beginning until the weevil got to it. In spite of the pest problem we still got quite a few of them. The first few I tried were not fully ripe and the taste was nothing special, but once they reached the right level of maturity they turned out to be quite delicious.

Once roasted you could take a spoon and dig right in. I used the roasted pulp to make some parathas and those were soft and very tasty. The roasted pulp could very easily be used for some silky smooth soup.

The North Georgia Candy Roaster is not that common of a squash. So if you do not have it that does not mean you cannot try this recipe. Sweet Potato or Yam will be a perfect replacement for the squash. Butternut or Acorn squash will work perfectly in this well. Be sure to roast them for best flavor. The thing with this North Georgia squash is that it does not have to be roasted as much because the skin is much thinner than the Butternut or Acorn.

Roasting the Squash
Cut the squash, remove the seeds and place them on a lined baking sheet.
Roast first with skin side down for about 15 minutes. Flip and then roast for another 15 minutes or till the flesh is soft. Let cool and peel the skin.
Mash the pulp to smooth. Add the wheat flour along with the spices.
Mix the flour and pulp, sprinkling water only if required and bring it together to a smooth dough.
Take a small piece of dough and roll into a small ball. Dust with dry flour.
Using a rolling pan, press into a thin flat round.
Heat a griddle and place the rolled chapathi on it. Cook on one side.
Flip and cook on the other side, gently pressing so it puffs up.

Spicy Squash Paratha
Preparation Time:35 minutes (for roasting the squash)
Cooking Time:20 minutes
    Roasting the Squash
  1. 1 Squash slit in half, seeds removed.
  2. Rub a few drops of oil on the surface.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400F, line a baking sheet and place the squash and roast for about 15 minutes.
  4. Flip so the skin side is on top and roast for another 15 minutes.
  5. Check by piercing a knife and if it makes without any resistance it is done. Otherwise flip so the flesh side on top again and roast for another 5-10 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Peel the skin and take the flesh and gently mash so there are no LUMPS.

  1. 2-3 cups of roasted squash pulp
  2. 3 cups of whole wheat flour
  3. salt to taste
  4. 1/2 tsp omam/ajwain powder
  5. 1-2 tsp red chili powder
  6. approx 1/4 cup of water

    Take the pulp and add the rest of the ingredients and mix them together. Sprinkle water only if required to bring the mixture together to form a stiff dough that can be worked. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes (or longer).
  1. Take a small melon sized ball and roll between the palm of your hands till smooth.
  2. Gently pat the ball to flatten a little bit. Dust it in some flour and with a rolling pin roll gently to form a flat thin round of about 6 inches or so in diameter.

  3. Heat a griddle and when hot place the rolled chapathi on the griddle. Let cook for about 2 minutes on one side till you see small bubbles on the surface.

  4. Now flip to the other side and let cook for about 30 seconds. Gently press with the spatula so it begins to puff up. Remove from the fire.

  5. Continue till all the dough is finished.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Roasted Fish with Onions and black Pepper

Every Fall as we all know there is new prime time lineup on TV. Mostly I ignore because most of these serials are downright bad. This season one jumped out because it had a Bollywood actress in a lead role. So I tuned in more out of curiosity than anything else. Bollywood actress or not the show was not all that entertaining. So I stick to my old favorites 'The Good Wife' and the other mysteries on PBS. Sadly none of the new series this Fall seem to do the trick. Have any recommendations?

Well anyway if you have something interesting to watch on TV but also have the job of getting dinner or lunch ready, this quick and easy fish dish is what you need to have up your sleeve and can be put together in less that 20 minutes. I am using frozen fish which is what works best for me but if you have access to fresh fish by all means. With some steamed white rice or some tortilla or wraps you are in for a treat.

Marinate the fish. Heat oil in a cast iron pan and saute the onions.
Place the fish in the pan and cook on both sides.

You can add some grated ginger and garlic and saute them along with the onions.

Roasted Fish with Onions and Black Pepper
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 3-4 Fish steaks or fillets cut into 2 inch pieces (I used frozen Mahi-Mahi). Iff you are using fresh fish, clean and cut into steaks.
  2. 2-3 cups of sliced red onions
  3. 2 tsp pepper powder
  4. salt to taste
  5. 1/2 tbsp oil
  6. For the marinade
  7. 1 tbsp red chili powder
  8. 1 tsp salt or to taste
  9. 2 tsp of oil

  1. Thaw and clean the fish and pat dry.
  2. Mix together (the marinade ingredients) red chili powder, salt and oil and gently apply the paste on all sides on the fish and set aside.
  3. Heat a cast iron pan or a thick bottomed pan and add half the oil and when hot add the sliced onions and saute till they start to turn brown. Add pepper powder and salt and mix it in.
  4. Move the onions to the outer edge of the pan and place the marinating fish pieces in the center.
  5. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes or a little bit longer till the fish is completely cooked on one side. Flip and let cook on the other side. Add more oil if required.
Serve with rice.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Stuffed Jalapeno Chiles

Frankly I had no idea that Jalapenos can be used in this many recipes and there are still many that I haven't tried. By far the one recipe I look forward to when I have a few jalapenos on hand are these stuffed jalapeno.

This is a big favorite around here and it is enjoyed by the kids. I usually make 2 batches, refrigerate one and bake the other one. The convenient thing with this is I usually cook it in the toaster oven and not having to fire up the big oven makes things that much more simpler.

The most amount of time taken is for cleaning the jalapenos, meaning splitting them in half, remove the seeds and the ribs. I keep the potatoes just plain, add onions sometimes but otherwise keep it pretty bland. I usually only have spicy cheese, so adding no spice to the potatoes made the most sense. In case you are using plain cheese you can add a bit of spice to the potatoes.

Boil and mash the potatoes. Mix the grated cheese with the potatoes.
Stuff the potatoes into the jalapenos.
Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake in the toaster oven till crisp.

Stuffed Jalapeno Chilies
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Cooking Time:20 - 30 minutes
  1. 20-30 jalapenos, slit, seeds and ribs removed
  2. 2 potatoes (a drier potato like Russet works best)
  3. 1/4 cup of onions chopped fine (optional)
  4. 1 cup of grated cheese (I used pepper jack cheese)
  5. 2 tsp of oil

  1. Cook the potatoes whole in their skin. I usually use a pressure cooker. Once cooked drain the water and let it get to room temperature.
  2. Using a potato masher or with a back of a ladle mash the potatoes till smooth.
  3. If using onions, in a saute pan add oil and saute till the onions get soft. Mix the onions into the potato mixture.
  4. Take half of the grated cheese and mix it into the potato mixture as well.
  5. Take about 1/2-3/4 of the potato mixture and stuff into the jalapeno.
  6. In a toasting pan line with aluminum foil. Rub oil on the foil and arrange the stuffed jalapenos in the pan. You can sprinkle the cheese now on top now or do it later once the potatoes have started to brown
  7. In the toaster pan bake the jalapenos for about 10-15 minutes till the potatoes start to brown on top.
  8. Once the potatoes are brown sprinkle cheese on the potatoes and broil them them for another 8-10 minutes till they get crispy on the top.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jalapeno Spread - Quick Breakfast Toast with scrambled eggs - Breakfast Ideas

Mornings are busy for everybody especially if all members are heading out for the day. I get that. But nothing like having a hot and filling breakfast before heading out that door.

Serving breakfast is not that big a deal if you are willing to spend about 15 minutes. Scramble some eggs, toast some bread and have some favorite spreads ready and there is nothing much to it. My most favorite meal of the day is breakfast and so I do not mind spending some time on it. Even in the limited world of non sugary breakfast foods available there are plenty of variations that would make for a perfect meal.

The main reason I decided to dedicate a post for it. While I have used jalapeno spread for this you could use hummus, harrissa, cheese spread or just plain butter. While cooking scrambled eggs in the morning I do not add onions just because it takes a bit more time. If you have the time by all means add onions, mushrooms and even bell peppers.

Quick Breakfast - Toast with scrambled eggs
Preparation Time:5 minutes
Cooking Time:10 minutes
  1. 8 slices of bread
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1/4 cup onion chopped fine (optional)
  4. 1 tsp pepper powder
  5. salt to taste
  6. 2 tsp of oil
  7. a pat of butter to toast the bread.
  8. 1 tbsp jalapeno spread or tomato relish

  1. Heat oil and if adding saute the onions till they are translucent.
  2. Break the eggs one by one and add them to the hot pan.
  3. Stir continuously till the eggs are set and they are full cooked.
  4. Sprinkle pepper powder and salt.
  5. Toast the bread with some butter and then spread the relish and 2 slices of bread. Stack some scrambled eggs and breakfast is ready.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Jalapeno Thokku - Spicy Jalapeno Relish/Spread

I am one of those people who need a breakfast every morning but not the kind of breakfast that is normally eaten here in the US by which I mean cereal with milk, muffin, doughnuts, breakfast bars etc., I prefer my breakfast not sweet and fairly filling. Toast with omelet, bagel with omelet or veggie patty, oatmeal with yogurt and pickles etc., are what work for me on busy weekday mornings. The veggie patty or omelet don't work by themselves. I need a spicy spread to go with it. Of course I can buy a spicy spread like Harissa or even some of the Indian pickles.

The only problem with these store bought spreads/pickles is the amount of salt,sugar,oil that is present. While home made condiments on the other hand can be made light without too much salt or sugar and type of oil is the one that you prefer. I usually add sesame oil(nallennai) for most of my condiments. Use any oil that you prefer. The slightly higher the quantity of oil the longer the shelf life.

So what does one do when there are lots of jalapenos? It reminded me of the recipe that I found in one a book that ammayee had. That thokku recipe was made with bell pepper and I figured making the same with jalapeno might be worth a try and I was not disappointed. Don't for a second think this is only good as a spread for sandwiches. This is perfect to be mixed with rice or as a side for idli/dosai/chapathi.

I used tamarind paste for the recipe and realize that it works best than fresh tamarind. I used both red and green jalapenos. Its your preference reallt, use both or just one kind. The biggest time taker in this whole pickle making expedition is de-seeding and removing the ribs. The rest of the process hardly takes any time. I did not use any dried chilies or red chili powder for heat, used some of my ripe spicy chilies. You do not need too many of those chilies either.

As for sterilized jars which are called for storing any preserves I use a very simple method of sterilizing which is included below.

Recipe in pictures
Cut the jalapeno in two and clean the seeds and ribs. In a wide mouthed thick bottomed pan heat a bit of the oil and add the slit jalapenos and red chilies and let them sweat till they change color.
Roast the ingredients for the spice powder one and by one and make a smooth powder.
Once the jalapenos and chilies are cooked add them to the blender along with the tamarind extract and blend to a paste.
In a wide mouthed thick bottomed add half of the oil and when hot add the blended jalapeno paste, cook for about 8-10 minutes. Add in the powdered spice powder and salt and let cook for another 10-15 minutes adding more oil when the mixture starts to look dry.
The pickle is done when the mixture starts moving away from the sides of the vessel. Let cool and pack in sterilized jars.

Jalapeno Thokku - Spicy Jalapeno Relish / Spread
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Cooking Time:30-40 minutes
  1. 4-5 lbs of jalapeno (i used both green and red) 6 cups after desseding
  2. about 10-12 spicy green/red chilies (increase or decrease as per heat requirement)
  3. 1 1/2 cups of sesame oil
  4. 1 1/2 tbsp of tamarind paste (if not using a small lime sized ball of tamarind)
  5. salt to taste
  6. For the Powder
  7. 1 tbsp of split urad dal (ulundham paruppu)
  8. 2 tsp of bengal gram (kadalai paruppu)
  9. 1 tsp of coriander leaves
  10. 1/2 tsp of fenugreek seeds
  11. 1/4 tsp or a small piece of asfoetida
  12. 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds

  1. Dry roast the ingredients in the 'For the Powder' section one by one till they are browned a bit. Cool and make a smooth powder.
  2. In a thick bottomed pan, add oil and saute the jalapenos and the green chilies till they start to sweat and turn color a little bit (about 8-10 minutes). Let cool and come to room temperature.
  3. Add the tamarind to the jalapenos in batches to a blender and blend to a paste.
  4. Clean and dry the thick bottomed pan and add about half of the oil and add the paste. Let it come to a boil for about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Add the powdered spice powder and salt and in a medium heat continue to cook while adding more of the other half of the oil when the mixture starts to look dry and cook till the oil separates and the jalapeno paste is moving away from the sides of the pan. (this might take anywhere between 10-15 minutes).
  6. Let cool and pack them in glass jars.
  7. Sterilizing the glass jars
  8. In a big pot, boil water enough to hold all your jars and let them boil for about 3-4 minutes. Remove them from the hot bath and let dry completely.
  9. Just before putting the preserve in the glass jar put int the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute.
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