Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Raw Plantain (Banana) Pepper Fry

Does chronological age increase the mental maturity? We all assume that as we age we get better at dealing with problems in a calm and measured way. Personally for me this is not the case and more often than not continue on with old habits without realizing. Learn not to react right away and ponder over the situation a bit before responding or in some situations not respond at all. How? By being mindful of everything around you.

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment by calmly accepting and acknowledging one's feelings, thoughts and bodily functions. Stress brought on by doing too many things at the same time both physical and mental can be offset by being mindful. Setting aside a few minutes to practice mindfulness is what I am trying to do albeit unsuccessfully. I first started with the 3 minute Body Scan to Cultivate Mindfulness and that is the first 3 minutes that I had spent doing one thing fully without multitasking. While it is easy to tell DD2 to focus trying to do it myself has been a challenge.

We often find people complaining that they are not being listened to. While it has a lot to do with the person who is talking, the person who is listening has a part to play by putting effort at being mindful of what the person in front of them is saying. This simple interaction that takes place every single day in our homes and work places can be made better by being aware or in other words mindful.

I have heard lots of friends tell me that cooking is for them the act that brings them a feeling of well being. If you are one of those people good for you. While cooking is a much enjoyed event for me there are some days all I want to do is get it done and out of the way. The most annoying part of any activity are the deadlines that get put to accomplish simple things. I digress a bit but,

I worked on a project where the management did not believe in deadlines. Needless to say it was one of the most enjoyable projects that I worked on and it was the only place where most projects were delivered on time. Moreover people were more mindful about what was going on. All this planning for what? Go Figure!

Anyway when there is no deadline staring you down in the face and you have a some time to do some relaxed cooked, here is a recipe. It is quick and easy so it can be done when you are rushed for time but it might not be as enjoyable ;)

While green plantains are common in most grocery stores here, raw bananas are not that common a sight. Have to go to the Indian
grocery stores to purchase those. But for purposes of this recipe both kinds work very well. Simple and very easy recipe but with some impressive results.





Cut the raw banana in half and steam for 6-8 minutes and peel the skin.
Slice the cooked banana. Meanwhile heat a wide mouthed pan with oil.
Add the sliced bananas and the spice powder and mix them well.
Roast till the bananas are well coated.




Raw Plantain (Banana) Pepper Fry
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients
  1. 3-4 raw plantain or banana
  2. 2-3 tsp finely ground pepper powder
  3. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  4. 1 tsp red chili powder (optional)
  5. salt to taste
  6. 1/2 tbsp of oil
Method
  1. Cut the banana into half, edges trimmed and steam for about 6-8 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Peel the skin and cut into rounds or any shape you prefer.
  3. Heat a wide mouthed pan add oil and when hot add the sliced banana and let it saute for a about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the turmeric, chili and pepper powders and salt and mix it in.
  5. Continue to roast, adding a tsp or 2 of oil, till the outside gets crisp and the banana slices are well roasted.
  6. Serve as a side dish.


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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spring Flowers - 2017 Update

Spring means allergies - watery eyes, scratchy throats and runny noses. All not from being sick but from the pollen these beautiful flowers put out. Thank my lucky stars that allergies have not been a problem all these years but this year either the pollen is very bad or my immunity to pollen is slowly reducing.

But admiring these flowers is still allowed :)


Look at the color! Want to take a guess what flowers these are - Flowers of a PawPaw Tree!


Closer Look!



These - Pink Cascade Weeping Peach!


Beautiful aren't they?



How about These - Purple Lobe Locust!


Brightens up the area!







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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sweet Potatoes in a Spicy Tomato Gravy

How do you deal with events that are beyond your control? Especially when you live far away from close family. Dealing with unexpected life events requires a certain acceptance of fate and what it hands to you. 2017 has already been a tough year, hopefully the later part of the year will turn out to be better.

Events this year has taught me not to postpone meeting people be it visiting or at the least calling. It might sound old fashioned in this age of texting and snap chatting but most of you know what I mean. And moreover nothing like doing it today. I got retaught not to take things for granted and being aware and cognizant of people's generosity. Keeping these things in mind all the time is hard. Anyway...

Being glued to the idiot box is something I do a lot though I tell my children that it will make them more idiotic. But advice is to give but not to take right? TV is just made for those nights when jet lag makes sleep impossible when everybody else is sound asleep, add to that a mind that is not at ease with 1000 things swirling around. For just those days thanks to whoever came up with 24 hour TV.

It was during one of those mind numbing TV watching days that I stumbled on to this recipe. The name of this recipe is what caught my attention "Silakadi Thamba Kari". I don't remember if the lady who demonstrated the recipe telling why such a name.

Sweet Potatoes seem to be all the craze even in India. Filled with vitamins and also extremely tasty what is not to like? If you live in the US look for Japanese Sweet Potatoes or the Jersey White Sweet Potatoes to make this recipe. Both of these have a white flesh and is much firmer than the orange sweet potatoes that you normally see in most grocery stores. If you are using the orange fleshed yams just be careful not to overcook it.

I used Jersey White Sweet Potatoes which works perfect in this recipe. The gravy works well with either chapathis or rice.



Recipe in pictures,

Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Make 1 1/2 inch dice and put them in a bowl of water to prevent discoloration.
Heat a wide mouthed pan and heat the oil. Add in the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add in the onions and green chilies. Add in the spice powders - turmeric, coriander and chili powders.
Add in the tomatoes and let cook till the tomatoes become mushy. Add salt.
Add in the sweet potatoes and mix it into the gravy. Cook for about 10 -12 minutes or till the sweet potatoes are tender. Do not overcook.



Sweet Potatoes in Spicy Tomato Gravy
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Ingredients
  1. 4-5 medium sweet potatoes peeled and diced into 1 1/2 inch dices.
  2. 1/2 red onion finely chopped or 1/2 cup of diced shallots
  3. 5-6 green chilies slit
  4. 1 cup of finely diced tomatoes
  5. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  6. 2 tsp coriander powder
  7. 2 tsp chili powder
  8. salt to taste
  9. seasonings: mustard, cumin and curry leaves
  10. 2 tsp of oil

Method
  1. Clean and peel the sweet potatoes and make about 1 1/2 inch dice. Place them in a bowl of water till ready to use. They tend to turn black otherwise.
  2. In a wide mouthed pan heat oil and when hot add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the mustard starts to pop add the curry leaves.
  3. Add the onions and green chilies and saute till the onions turn translucent. Add in the spice powders, turmeric, coriander and chili powders and give a good mix.
  4. Add in the tomatoes and let it cook till it becomes mushy. Add salt and cook for a few more minutes.
  5. Add in the diced sweet potatoes. Let it cook for about 10-12 minutes till they are soft. (see Note:) Turn off the heat.
  6. Note:Adjust the cooking time based on the sweet potatoes you are using. Some cook quicker than the others.


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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Steel Cut Oats - Using a Pressure Cooker - Sweet and Savory

My presence here has been few and far between. One reason being life happens and some things fall on the way side. Life sometimes throws unexpected curve balls. How we come out on the other side depends a lot on our personalities, our support networks and what we do to unwind. My biggest relaxation is this blog. So keeping away from it means losing that and it has been hard.






We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but in the mornings time is at a premium and preparing breakfast might even sound like a luxury. But it does have to be that way. Pressure cooker has been invented just for this purpose. Seriously.

Something happened around here, kids who complained about eating oatmeal actually started enjoying it. The reason? we switched from quick oats to steel cut oats. I have been avoiding using steel cut oats because it takes longer to cook and 45 minutes in the morning is a luxury that I don't have. This is until my mom cooked steel cut coats in 8 minutes - how? In the pressure cooker of course. So now steel cut oats is the only kind of oats we all eat. The crunch and texture is what has made it an acceptable choice. No need of soaking and prepping the previous night.


Steel Cut Oats with yogurt and pickles

The DDs and DH eat steel cut oats with milk and slightly sweet with nuts, dried and fresh fruit. You might even mistake it for dessert. I eat it with yogurt and pickles because sweet in the morning is not my thing.

Here is the recipe in pictures,

Add the steel cut oats to the pressure cooker along with water.
Close the lid and let it cook for 3 whistles.
Prepare the dried fruits and the palm sugar ready.
Add the dried fruit/nuts, fresh fruit and sugar/honey.
Turn on heat to medium low and add the milk. Turn off the heat in 2 minutes. Spoon into bowls and add more fresh fruit if desired.



Steel Cut Oats - Using a Pressure Cooker
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups of steel cut oats
  2. 4 cups of water (or as per cooking directions on package)
  3. 1-2 cups of milk
  4. 1/4 cup of roasted nuts and dried fruits - almonds, cashews, raisins, dates - chopped
  5. Fresh Fruit - apples, pears, mangoes cut or berries(optional)
  6. 2 tsp of palm sugar or honey (optional)

Method
  1. Wash steel cut oats and add it to the pressure cooker along with the water and cook for 3 sounds. I like the oats to be a bit soggy but if you like it just cooked reduce the water by a cup.
  2. Let the pressure release. Open the lid and set aside some of the cooked steel cut oats if you desire to eat it with yogurt and pickles.
  3. Add the dried fruits/nuts, fresh fruit and sugar, mix it in, start the heat to low medium and add the milk and mix it well. Turn off the heat.
  4. Add more of the cubed fresh fruit and breakfast is ready.
  5. Note:Palm sugar needs to be powdered a bit before adding. Cut fruits are optional.
  6. Note:Place the palm sugar in the microwave to soften it a little bit to powder it.

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