Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chili and Turmeric Roasted Purple Eyed Peas

Have you heard of the book "Defense of Food" written by Michael Pollan. If you have not, don't fret you can watch the show based on the book here. I recommend watching the show if you have not already. It makes clear what you already know but reaffirms your belief that vegetables and fruits are good when Michael Pollan says "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Another important rule to remember is to use smaller plates and glasses. Serve the vegetables first.

Snack foods are usually a mine field if you want to follow the rule mentioned above because it is loaded with sugar, salt and fat. I personally prefer savory snack foods to sweet ones but they are not much better either when store bought.

The thing is tasty snacks can be made at home without too much effort. Roasted chickpeas are a big fad as we all know. The thing is I have a lot of dried purple eyes peas that were harvested this summer and when I saw this recipe I was more than happy.

I used chili powder, turmeric powder and a tiny bit of curry powder for spices. I guess any spices you prefer like Cajun seasoning or Italian seasoning might work as well.

Canned beans can be used. I prefer using dried and soaked beans. Black/Purple Eyed Peas do not require overnight soaking like the other dried beans, soaking for a couple of hours is sufficient. While I used the oven to do the roasting because I had about 2 cups of beans. If you are using a smaller quantity it can be quickly done in a toaster oven.

I roasted slightly longer than required so in the last 10-15 minutes keep an eye on it.

Soak and cook the purple eyed peas, drain and spread them on kitchen towel to absorb the water.
Prepare the spice paste. Whisk the spice powders together with the oil.
Toss the beans in the spice paste and get them coated.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum, grease and spread the beans and bake in a 375F preheated oven for about 50 -55 minutes till they are roasted to golden brown.

Chili and Turmeric Roasted Purple Eyed Peas
Preparation Time:Less than 10 minutes + 2 hours soaking time
Roasting Time:55-60 minutes
  1. 2 cups of dried beans
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  4. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1 tsp curry powder (optional)
  6. 1/2 tsp of salt or to taste

  1. Soak the black eyed peas for about couple of hours. Wash the beans and add salt and cook for 1 whistle if using a pressure cooker. Take care not to cook just enough to keep the beans whole. (see Note)
  2. Drain the beans and then spread them out in a kitchen towel to absorb any excess water.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  4. In a mixing bowl or a wide mouthed deep bowl tale the oil, chili powder, turmeric powder, curry powder and salt. Whisk it together.
  5. Toss the beans into the spice paste and gently mix so all the beans are well coated.
  6. Line a cookie or baking sheet with foil and grease it with oil. Spread the spice coated beans in a single layer.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven for about 55-60 minutes. Check once at 30 minutes and turn the beans around. Check again at 50 to 55 minutes to make sure the beans are ready. It is done when the beans are golden brown. Do not leave it longer than required.
  8. Cool and store in air tight container. Should last for couple of weeks.
  9. b>Note:If cooking beans in a pressure cooker be careful not to overcook because the purple eyed peas get cooked pretty soon. It can be cooked on stove top in a sauce pan.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Asian Style Noodles with Chicken meat balls

Hope all of you in the path of the blizzard have dugout of the snow. I for one am tired of the white mess and want it gone. Schools have been closed for the 4th day in a row. Though the kids are having fun, am worried that they are going to forget about how to go to school pretty soon. Our neighborhood has been lucky, the road has been cleared for at least a car to go by. There are neighborhoods which has not seen a snow plow so their snow misery joy continues.

In a town like DC which lives by scandals, even a snow event can't go by without a scandal. Looks like National airport lost its snow measuring tool a snow board apparently in the blizzard and whoever was responsible just came up with a number which was 10 inches lower than the snow totals in the other airports in the area. How is that for a snow scandal? Want to know more about the snow scandal, here is a link.

Enough of the snow story and to more interesting things like the recipe for the day,
I can't tell the number of times noodles have come to the rescue when I am on the hook for making a quick dinner. I occasionally buy chicken meatballs or chicken sausages which finds good use in either a noodle or pasta dish. In this cold weather a ragout with chicken meatballs or sausage is perhaps a great idea. If you are not into soups then the next best thing for a spicy kick are these Asian noodles with the chicken meatball or sausage providing the perfect accompaniment.

I like the curly Chuka Soba noodles for this kind of noodle dish but any noodles that catches your fancy is perfect. If you'd rather have a vegetarian noodle dish try this recipe for Yakisoba Noodles.

All you need to have on hand is an Asian stir fry sauce and hot sauce. I sometimes add soy sauce and sometimes don't if the stir fry sauce already has it which most do anyway. You can also add vegetables - bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage etc., I used Costco bought Sweet Basil Roasted Garlic Chicken meatballs.

If you'd rather make your own meatballs here is a recipe.

Chicken balls and vegetables cooked in the sauce

Asian Style Noodles with Chicken meat balls
Preparation Time:15 minutes + 30 minutes sitting time
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 10-15 chicken meat balls (store bought or home made)
  2. 1 1/2 packet of Curly Chuka soba Noodles
  3. 4 cloves garlic smashed and chopped
  4. 1/2 tbsp ginger grated
  5. 1 Red Onion sliced thin
  6. 1 Green Bell Pepper sliced thin
  7. 1/2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  8. 1 tbsp Korean Teriyaki stir fry sauce or 1 tbsp tom tom sauce (any Asian sauce is fine)
  9. salt to taste (all the sauces have salt in them too)
  10. 1 tbsp oil

  1. Boil the noodles as per package directions and set them aside.
  2. In a cast iron pan or a heavy bottomed pan add half the oil and saute the meat balls till they are browned on the outside. Set aside.
  3. To the same pan add the rest of the oil and the onions and saute till the onions start to get translucent. Add garlic and ginger and saute for a minute more.
  4. Add in the bell pepper and saute for 3-4 minutes. (I like them cooked but slightly crunchy so cook as long or as little as you want)
  5. Transfer the meat balls to the onions, add the sauces one by one on low heat and mix them well./li>
  6. Add in the noodles, taste and then add salt only if required.

  7. Serve hot.
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Monday, January 25, 2016

Pan Fried Indian Style Spicy Salmon

When the weather outside is stormy the body and the soul craves for spicy fatty foods. I had bought some salmon for the event over the weekend with the biggest dumping of snow the region has seen in recent memory.

The thing with Salmon is it has to be cooked right else it becomes dry and not so fun to eat. Over time I have realized grilling or baking Salmon is a tricky thing, if not done correctly the fish tends to dry out. The end result I rarely buy Salmon which is the easiest thing to do.

One day a colleague at work hands me a piece of the most moist, cooked just right and obviously well seasoned salmon fry. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the salmon being it is not my favorite kind of fish and al. Obviously I wanted to give Salmon another chance. She gave me the recipe and it was promptly tried out. No doubt pan frying the fish is the perfect and fool proof way to get the cooking of the fish correct.

I bought salmon fillet steaks and cut each steak into 3 equal pieces. Some of the pieces were about 1 - 1 1/2 inches thick. The thinner pieces cook much faster. The trick for the spices to stick onto the fish and not fall off while frying them is to use ginger and garlic powder instead of freshly pounded garlic and ginger.

This is a very quick and easy recipe to make. If you are fond of fish you have no excuse not to try it. If Salmon is not your thing then use any kind of slightly firm fish that you like.

Here is the recipe in pictures,
Get the fish pieces ready and the spice paste.
Whisk together the spice powder with the egg white and olive oil. Apply the spice paste on all of the fish pieces.
Heat a cast iron pan with oil and when hot add the fish pieces. Cook on one side first.
Cook on the other side and on the sides if required. Drain on paper towels.

Pan Fried Indian Style Spicy Salmon
Preparation Time:15 minutes + 30 minutes sitting time
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 4 fillet steaks of Salmon cut into 3 pieces
  2. 1/4 cup of oil
  3. For the Spice Paste (for about 4 fillets of Salmon)
  4. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  5. 3 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  7. 1/2 tbsp ginger powder
  8. 1/2 tbsp curry masala powder
  9. white of 1 egg
  10. 1 tbsp olive oil
  11. 1 tbsp rice flour
  12. salt to taste
  13. 2 tsp Italian seasoning (optional)
  1. First prepare the spice paste. Add all the powders under the Spice Paste in a wide mouthed bowl, add in the egg white and olive oil.
  2. Whisk together to form a paste. Drop the fish into paste and make sure all the pieces are well coated. Or take a brush and apply the spice paste on the fish on all sides. Let it sit for about 1/2 or so.
  3. Heat a cast iron pan or a flat pan and add the oil and let it get hot.
  4. Add the salmon pieces in a single layer without touching each other.
  5. Cook on one side for about 4 minutes or till the side touching the pan is well cooked and crisped. Turn over and cook for another 4 minutes or so. If the piece is thick, cook on the sides for 2 minutes each.
  6. Drain on paper towels.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blizzard 2016 - Digging out

All said and done the blizzard of 2016 one of the biggest for the DC area - Jonas dubbed Snowzilla dumped about 30 inches of snow give or take a few.

Snow storms are fun when we don't lose power, don't have to do any work and just have fun staying warm and watching movies and drinking Hot Chocolate. It mostly does not always play out this way. But it did yesterday. Once the snow storm passes the sun comes out, sometimes it is windy with the snow flying all over and we have to dig out which is the part I dislike the most. There is one more thing I hate even more, having to drive in the half cleaned roads slipping and sliding.

The schools are closed for the next couple of days. Working from home is an option so I won't risk going out on the roads.

Mustered every able body in the house and did some shoveling last night for couple of hours and then again this morning for 3 hours which cleared the drive way. Then another one hour or so for clearing from the from door. Now I am ready for a big rest :)

Snow mountains everywhere.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blizzard 2016 - Snowed In!

El Nino kept the cold weather away all through winter and even the beginning of January and then we get walloped with this blizzard prompting the #winterawakens hash tag.

We are literally snowed in. I have caught up on cooking some favorites on mine and going to spend the time watching movies and TV shows.

With snow still coming down and the roads and everything in sight under a blanket of snow, it will be a little while before we dig out and go anywhere.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Cabbage and Potatoes in a tomato gravy

I have been reading a lot about Mindfulness these days. I am a distracted person by nature. I do too many things all at the same time. Somehow I manage not to mess up the things I do all at the same time which is a miracle in itself. The amount of technology all around only adds to my problem of being distracted. Like most people these days I do most of my work on the computer which provides enough distraction in the form of the internet. Not only that I keep the idiot box blaring even if I don't pay much attention or listen to it.

Then realization dawned on me that maybe I will be better off if I manage to focus on one thing. duh! This is also when Mindfulness started getting into my consciousness. Mindfulness draws from the practices of Buddhism and its meditation practices. It is mindful awareness of everything you do and being in the moment and not worrying about the past or present. Mindfulness is practiced by sitting in a meditation position and concentrating on inhaling and exhaling of breathing and when practiced over time cultivates awareness and unity of the mind and body.

MBSR - Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program helps in practicing to relax the brain and cure a variety of illnesses. MBSR was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. While MBSR is used for patients but everyone can benefit from mindfulness in their daily lives.

We all know that stress in the mind can cause physical tiredness. By keeping the mind healthy our everyday activities and quality of life is bound to improve methinks. There is a lot information regarding mindfulness on the web for you to figure out if you want more information.

Snow 2016
I came to the DC area 20 years ago and that winter gave us close to 20 inches of snow. Who can forget the snowmaggdon in 2010 where the DC area again go walloped with about 20 inches of snow. We are again facing the prospect of just such a storm again. Like it happens with every snow storm bread, milk and toilet paper disappear from grocery store shelves. Unlike the Indian crowd which can subsist of rice and dal the rest of the folks need bread I guess.

As I am typing this with TV and radio with news only about the blizzard of the year with snow totals predicted to be in the 12-30 inches range. I am already cold and feel stuck in the house. So whoever on the eastern seaboard is in the path of the storm stay warm and don't get under your family member's nerves. I am trying my best not to! Snow is not my favorite things :(

Now on to the recipe,

Cabbage is one of those things that is not one of my favorite vegetables but I buy it regularly and and have it in the fridge almost always. When I am starved for ideas cabbage is almost always what I turn to. It can be paired with eggs in a stir fry - Cabbage stir fry with Eggs for a side, it is great in noodles and is great in any kind of fried rice.

This time I was contemplating one of the above when I decided to look at Maayeka, one of my favorite blogs for practical easy to cook Gujarati and North Indian recipes. It was here that I found a recipe for Cabbage with Potatoes in a tomato based gravy. Perfect because I wanted a side for chapatis. I had all the ingredients and it was done in just under 30 minutes.

Recipe in pictures,

Heat oil in a wide mouthed pan add the fenugreek and mustard powder, followed by the cabbage. Saute till it starts to brown.
Add the tomatoes and salt, cover and cook till the tomatoes are mushy. Add in the spice powders and the potatoes and a cup of water.
Cover and cook for about 6 minutes or so till the potatoes are fully cooked and soft

Cabbage and Potatoes in a tomato gravy
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 1/2 cabbage shredded or cut into thin strips
  2. 3-4 medium sized potatoes peeled and cubed
  3. 2 tomatoes diced (if you want more gravy add few more tomatoes)
  4. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
  6. 1/4 tsp fenugreek + 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (use whole or roast and powder)
  7. 2 tsp coriander powder
  8. salt to taste
  9. 2 tsp oil

  1. Roast the fenugreek and mustard seeds and powder them (optional).
  2. In a wide mouthed pan heat oil and when hot add the roasted fenugreek and mustard seed powder or the whole spices.
  3. Add the shredded cabbage and saute for about 6-8 minutes till the cabbage starts to brown.
  4. Add in the chopped tomatoes with salt and saute till the tomatoes get mushy. Cover with a lid to fasten the cooking.
  5. Add the potatoes, turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander powder and mix it in well.
  6. If required add about 1 cup of water. Cover and cook till the potatoes are fully cooked.
  7. Serve with rice or chapatis.

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