Thursday, December 17, 2009

Spinach and soba noodles with lemon-ginger dressing

Tangy and ginger-y and oh so yummy. This is adapted from Steamy Kitchen (, which was discovered by the lovely Lupe and is now one of my new favorite sources of inspiration!

For the dressing:
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 inch section of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

12 ounces dried soba noodles
1 bunch spinach
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles until just tender. Toss in the spinach for the last 10 seconds or so, just until it wilts.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba and spinach with the dressing and the sesame seeds. Toss until well combined.

Tofu-Stuffed Portabellos

Moosewood calls this a "showstopper" -- and it SO is. This is totally our new favorite recipe! We made it with the lemon-ginger noodle recipe that I'm about to post and the combination was fan-tabulous.

for stuffed mushrooms:
1 cake of firm tofu, 16 oz
1/2 cup diced red bell peppers
1/2 cup diced canned water chestnuts
1/3 cup minced scallions
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup peanut butter
3-4 tbs light miso (or to taste)
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
4 tsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tsp cayenne
4 portabello mushrooms, about 5 inches in diameter
2 tbs soy sauce

for sweet and sour sauce:
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs rice vinegar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbs cold water

preheat oven to 350. Oil a baking pan. In a bowl, crumble tofu with your fingers. Add the peppers, water chesnuts, scallions, rice, peanut butter, miso, ginger, 1 tsp sesame oil, cayenne, and 1 tbs soy sauce. Stick your hands in it and mush it all together. set aside.

Twist off mushroom stems and gently rinse caps to remove dirt. place the caps gill-side up on the oiled pan. In a small cup, stir together remaining 3 tsp sesame oil and soy sauce. Brush the mushrooms with the mixture, then mound one-quarter of the filling on each mushrooms. Bake for 35 minutes until mushrooms release juice and filling is firm. While the mushrooms bake, prepare the sweet and sour sauce.

sweet and sour sauce:
In a small saucepan, combine apple juice, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, sugar, and bring to a boil. stir the dissolved corn starch into the boiling sauce; reduce heat and stir for one minute, until sauce thickens. serve hot over mushrooms.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Poached eggs with roasted portabellas and tomatoes

My new favorite Sunday brunch recipe, swiped from :). If you're looking for a total egg-poaching adventure, google Julia Child's instructions for how to poach the "proper" way. It's fun, I promise!

4 (3-inch-wide) portabella mushroom caps, stems discarded
2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives

Preheat broiler.

Brush mushrooms and tomatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange mushrooms, stemmed sides down, and tomato halves, cut sides up, on a broiler pan. Broil 6 inches from heat, turning over mushrooms halfway through cooking, until tender and tomatoes are slightly charred, about 7 minutes total.

While vegetables are broiling, fill a deep 10-inch skillet with 1 1/4 inches cold water. Add white vinegar and bring to a simmer.

Break 1 egg into a cup, then slide egg into simmering water. Repeat with remaining eggs, spacing them in skillet, and poach at a bare simmer until whites are firm but yolks are still runny, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently transfer eggs with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle stemmed sides of mushrooms with balsamic vinegar, then put 1 tomato half, cut side up, on each mushroom and top with an egg. Grate cheddar cheese on top and sprinkle with chives.

Mediterranean Orzo

This is based off a recipe from Food & Wine . . . my dad served it with grilled swordfish, which was really yummy, but you could totally whip up some chickpeas or tofu to go along with it to make it completely vegetarian :)

3/4 cup whole-wheat orzo
1/2 cup pitted mixed olives (2 ounces), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped and toasted in a pan or in the oven

Cook orzo according to package directions; drain and combine with next 5 ingredients. Stir in almonds directly before serving.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Spiced-Up Hot Chocolate

This recipe is from Craigie on Main, a fancy-schmancy restaurant in Cambridge . . . the spices are a little Indian, a little Mexican, a lotta yummy.

about 1/2 cup dark (70%) chocolate
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup butter
4 teaspoons white sugar

Grind the following and add to taste:
approximately 3 green cardamom pods - toast the cardamom, crush and discard the green shell, and grind the black seeds inside the pod
1/2 stick cinnamon (Mexican if possible)
1/2 tsp chili flakes (preferably ancho)

Put all ingredients in a pot, stir and simmer constantly until it reaches the consistency you desire. The final yield will depend on how much you reduce the cocoa while cooking but the above recipe should make approx 10 espresso cup portions.

This cocoa is super-rich and smaller servings are usually enough.

Potato Leek Soup

. . . the vegetarian version!

I haven't loved most veggie versions of this soup I've tried, since I think it's often the chicken broth that gives it the most flavor. But this one has lots of onion, shallot, garlic, and spices that make it extra yummy. It's swiped from -- with revisions.

3 tablespoons butter
3 large leeks (white and light green parts only), sliced (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 medium shallot, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, diced
4 1/2 cups veggie broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
milk or cream
garnish: yogurt, grated cheddar, or chives (chopped)

Heat butter (or a mixture of butter and olive oil, if you're feeling healthy) in a large saucepan. Add leeks, shallot, garlic, and onion, and saute for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add potatoes. Cover and cook until they begin to soften, but not brown, about another 10 minutes. Add broth, bay lead, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until potatoes are soft -- about 30 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes, then stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to a blender (or use one of those nifty immersion blenders, if you've got one!) and puree in batches until it's smooth. Return to saucepan and heat, adding milk or cream until it's reached the desired consistency. Garnish with yogurt, chives, or grated cheddar cheese. Delicious served with some crusty bread :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Grown-Up Mac-and-Cheese-and-Greens Casserole

Welllll, we're not really casserole folks. But we have been on a comfort food kick and a use-up-the-leftovers-before-they-go-bad kick...and I think perhaps we struck genius with this one. So yummy!

1/2 pound noodles, cooked (we used whole wheat spaghetti!)
3 TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 large head broccoli, chopped
1/2 head escarole, chopped roughly
3 eggs
2 C low fat cottage cheese
1 C low fat sour cream
4-6 oz grated cheese (we used cheddar and parmesan)
1 1/2 C bread crumbs
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 x 13" pan. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms until soft and fragrant. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Toss in broccoli and escarole and saute another couple of minutes until broccoli is bright green and escarole has wilted.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, 1 C of the bread crumbs, about 2/3 of your grated cheese, and some salt and pepper. Add in the sauteed vegetables and the cooked noodles and toss everything together. Slide everything into your buttered pan and distribute noodles and vegetables evenly, pressing everything down into the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 C bread crumbs and reserved grated cheese across the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the casserole has set and the top is nice and browned.

Enjoy with a nice simple green salad!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cranberried Kale

Over the past two days, I've consumed two entire bunches of kale all on my own, because this recipe is so darned unexpectedly good. Also, it takes about 7 minutes to prepare, from start to finish. Thanks to Minda for creating this . . .

3 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
1 bunch kale leaves, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
handful of sunflower seeds, toasted
handful of dried cranberries

Saute the garlic in a little bit of olive oil; add the kale and cook for a few minutes, until it's no longer raw but still bright green. Add salt to taste, then throw in the sunflower seeds and cranberries; toss to combine.

Cheesy Mashed Potato-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Deeee-licious fall comfort food. Seriously. If I could eat this everyday, I would!

1 medium-sized acorn squash
5 medium-sized potatoes of your favorite variety
extra virgin olive oil
6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP butter
1/4 C milk
3 scallions, sliced
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 C chopped walnuts, toasted
parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste

Start by halving and deseeding the squash. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees until tender, about 40 minutes. Wash potatoes well and chop roughly. Add to boiling water and boil until very soft, about fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, get some olive oil heated in a skillet and saute the mushrooms, shallot, and garlic over medium heat until soft and fragrant, about ten minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and saute for another minute or two. Strain potatoes and return to pot. Add butter and milk and mash well. Add sauteed mushrooms, scallions, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, salt, and pepper, and stir until everything is combined.

When squash is tender, remove from oven. Fill cavities with mashed potatoes until overflowing. Smother with grated parmesan cheese. Return to oven for about ten minutes until cheese is melty and browned. Serve hot!


Squash and Lentil Soup

Mmmmmmmmm, this soup smells like fall. And tastes like fall. And will make you feel all warm and toasty on a chilly day.

olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch chunk ginger root, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
about 3 C veggie broth
about 2 C water
1 1/4 C red lentils, rinsed
1 medium sized squash (I used a kabocha!)
salt and pepper, to taste
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Quarter and deseed your squash. Arrange squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 400 degrees for about 40-45 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, heat several TBSP olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, add onion and garlic and saute until softened and fragrant. Add ginger and cumin and saute for another minute or two. Add veggie broth, water, and lentils - I wasn't precise with my fluid measurements so play it by ear. You might start with a bit less and then add some more later in the cooking process as the liquid evaporates. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for twenty minutes partially covered.

When squash is tender, carefully slice off and discard skins. Cube squash and add to soup. Cook over low heat for another twenty minutes. Using a potato masher, gently mash squash until you reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste and fresh chopped cilantro.

Serve hot, topped with a dollop of sour cream and garnished with more cilantro and toasted whole wheat bread.

Spinach-Corn-Feta Salad

If you're like me and want to hang on to those last few bits of summer, this salad's for you!

1 small bunch of spinach, chopped
1 ear of corn, boiled
3 scallions, sliced thinly
4 ounces feta, crumbled
2 eggs

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Place eggs in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Cover and remove from heat, allowing eggs to sit in hot water for 15 minutes. Cut the kernels off the ear of corn. In a large bowl toss together spinach, corn, scallions, and feta. In a small jar, whisk together all dressing ingredients and drizzle over salad. Cool cooked eggs in ice water. Peel, quarter lengthwise, and arrange on top of individually plated salads. Grind some fresh black pepper over eggs and serve!

ps - I just ate the leftover salad on a bed of leftover quinoa and topped it all off with some avocado slices...couldn't have been MORE delicious!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cheesy Summer Squash Pancakes

Here is a kid and boyfriend-friendly recipe to help you use up your summer squash surplus. Just like potato pancakes...crispy and fried and oh-so-yummy!

3 good sized summer squash, grated
coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 small onion, grated
1 egg
3/4 C cottage cheese
1/2 C cream cheese
1/2 C flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C corn meal (I used a mixture of coarse and fine ground)
1 TBSP fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
plenty fresh black pepper
vegetable oil for frying

Mix grated squash and sea salt and place in a colander for an hour or so - leave the colander either in the sink or over another bowl because the salt will pull water out of the squash. Squeeze the squash to get any extra water out.

Mix squash with remaining ingredients, using your fingers to squish everything together and disperse the cream cheese evenly through the batter. If your batter feels too wet feel free to add a little more flour or cornmeal to get a drier consistency.

Heat a frying pan with about 1/2 an inch of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, form squash batter into patties and carefully drop into hot oil. Fry for about three minutes on each side, or until pancakes are golden brown!

We served ours hot, topped with sauteed garlic scapes. Yummy! I bet they would also be delicious topped with sour cream or yogurt...

PS - We used cream cheese and cottage cheese because that's what we had in the house, but I imagine ANY cheese could be used for a variety of delicious flavors! Go get creative!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nutty Garlicky Caramelized Tofu

This is a Priya-and-Lisa re-interpretation of a recipe from We're pretty sure it would be amazing with blue cheese as a salad topping . . . although honestly, it almost didn't even make it onto our dinner plates, since we ate most of it right out of the pan.

1 carton extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces
a couple pinches of fine-grain sea salt
3 medium-large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup mixture of almonds and walnuts, chopped
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Saute the tofu in large hot skillet (or pot) with olive oil and a bit of salt until golden and slightly crispy. Add the garlic and nuts, and cook for another minute. Stir in sugar. Cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini Bowl

Another recipe . . . excited to try this one as well!

1 large avocado, ripe
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

3 large eggs

1 large zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch thick coins
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
couple pinches of fine grain sea salt

2 cups quinoa, cooked, room temperature
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish

Prepare the cilantro-avocado dressing by blending the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, yogurt, water, and salt in a blender (or us a hand blender). Set aside.

Hard boil the three eggs. Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so - long enough to stop the cooking. Set aside.

While the eggs are cooling start preparing the zucchini by tossing it with olive oil and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Prepare your grill (medium-high heat). If you are worried about the zucchini coins falling through the grill you can thread them onto kabob skewers (stab through the green skin). Grill until zucchini are tender and cooked through, roughly 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and cut each zucchini coin into quarters.

Crack and peel each egg, cut each egg into quarters lengthwise. Assemble the salad by tossing the quinoa with about 2/3 cups of the avocado vinaigrette. Top with the grilled zucchini, pine nuts, eggs, goat cheese, and a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish. I serve this family-style, but you could do individual platings.

Orange Pan-glazed tempeh

I stumbled across this on the absolutely lovely (whose author took it from chef Jude Blereau and her book "Coming Home to Eat: Wholefood for the Family"). With a few changes here and there, it's officially become my new favorite tempeh recipe. Yum.

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 large juicy oranges)
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (or ginger pressed in a garlic press)
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons mirin
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
roughly 10 ounces of tempeh
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lime
a handful of cilantro (coriander) leaves

Put the orange juice in a small bowl. Squeeze the grated ginger over the bowl to extract the juices, then add the ginger pieces as well.. Add the tamari, mirin, and maple syrup, ground coriander, and garlic. Mix together and set aside.

Cut the tempeh into thin-ish, bite-sized pieces.

Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tempeh and fry for 5 minutes, or until golden underneath. Turn and cook the other side for another 5 minutes, or until golden. Pour the orange juice mixture into the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a lovely thick glaze. Turn the tempeh once more during this time and spoon the sauce over it from time to time.

Serve the tempeh drizzled with any remaining sauce and a squeeze of lime, with the cilantro scattered on top.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grilled Greek Eggplant Rolls (a la Heather)

As the name suggests, Heather whipped these up at her impromptu Memorial Day barbeque, and they were a-ma-zing! No exact measurements, but you can tweak things to taste :)

1 large eggplant -- sliced lengthwise into broad 1/4-inch slices
olive oil
about 1 1/2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
about 1/4 cup mint, minced
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 chili pepper, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Brush the slices of eggplant with olive oil. Grill (or roast in the oven, if you're lacking in grill) until they're soft/roasted.

In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. When the eggplants are done, place about two tablespoons of the feta mixture towards the end of each slice, and roll it all up.

Seriously tasty :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spicy (or not) Yogurt Dip

Another swipe from, with tweaks :). I made this to go with the Zucchini Pancakes (below), and the pairing turned out amazingly. Would also be great as a dip for veggies/crackers/bread.

2 green cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cup loosely packed fresh sprigs cilantro
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 (3-inch) fresh serrano chile, including seeds, chopped -- this can be omitted if you don't like spicy things :)
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

Lightly crush cardamom pods with your thumb, then remove seeds, discarding husks. Toast cardamom and peppercorns in a dry small heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant and a shade darker, then cool. Grind spice mixture to a powder in grinder or mortar and pestle. Purée cilantro with spice mixture, garlic, chile, 2 tablespoons water, and 1 tablespoon oil in a blender until smooth. Stir purée into yogurt and season with salt.

Springtime Asparagus Soup

This soup is deceptively simple, but really amazing and super-quick to make. I found the recipe on and tweaked it a bit. This recipe makes enough for 6 folks.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup sliced shallots (about 6 large)
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 cups vegetable broth

1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and coriander; stir 1 minute. Add vegetable broth and simmer until asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Stir yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon peel in small bowl. Divide soup among bowls. Top with dollop of lemon yogurt and serve.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Texas Flour Tortillas

Amanda whipped these up as an accompaniment to guacamole and spicy fried tofu last night . . . and they were met with universal acclaim and then silence as we couldn't stop eating them. They are So. Frikkin'. Good.

This recipe was taken from, whose author adapted them from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison. It'll make 8 tortillas.

Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cups of warm milk

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil. Slowly add the warm milk. Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed. Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft.

Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes. After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)

After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. (If you roll out pie crusts you’ll have no problem with this.) Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.

In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.

Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat. Can be reheated in a dry iron skillet, over your gas-burner flame or in the oven wrapped in foil. While you probably won’t have any leftovers, you can store in the fridge tightly wrapped in foil or plastic for a day or so.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Crunchy Palak Paneer

Also courtesy of A-Dash . . . I need to try this one soon!

For the sauce:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 whole red or green chilli
1 tsp salt
14oz can tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
1lb 2oz fresh spinach, washed
2 tbsp water

For the paneer:
2 tsp garam masala
1¾oz semolina
7oz paneer, cut into 1cm/½in cubes
vegetable oil, for shallow frying

small handful coriander leaves, finely chopped, to garnish
1 tsp lemon juice

1. For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook for about three minutes until soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further minute.
2. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, whole chilli and salt. Stir over the heat to release the flavours of the spices.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar and simmer for ten minutes.
4. Meanwhile, for the paneer, place the garam masala and semolina in a large bowl and mix well.
5. Place the cubed paneer into the bowl and coat well with the spiced semolina.
6. Pour the vegetable oil into a deep frying pan to a depth of about 0.5cm/½in. When hot, add the coated paneer and fry until crisp and golden.
7. Add the washed spinach and two tablespoons of water to the tomato sauce, stir in and cook until the spinach wilts.
8. Fold the paneer into the sauce.
9. To serve, garnish with the coriander and squeeze over the lemon juice.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Zucchini Pancakes

So I haven't actually gotten to try this yet, but I just found it on and it looks seriously tasty. It's hovering near the top of my "to cook" list this week . . .

1 pound zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated

2 cups chopped green onions
4 eggs, beaten to blend
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried dillweed
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or 2 teaspoons dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (about 3 ounces)
Olive oil

Place zucchini in colander. Sprinkle zucchini with salt and let stand 30 minutes to drain. Squeeze zucchini between hands to remove liquid, then squeeze dry in several layers of paper towels.

Combine zucchini, chopped green onions, 4 eggs, flour, chopped dill, parsley, tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in medium bowl. Mix well. Fold in crumbled feta cheese. (Zucchini mixture can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Stir to blend before continuing.) Fold chopped walnuts into zucchini mixture.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Place baking sheet in oven. Cover bottom of large nonstick skillet with olive oil. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop zucchini mixture into skillet by heaping tablespoonfuls. Fry until pancakes are golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer each batch of pancakes to baking sheet in oven to keep warm. Serve pancakes hot.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kadala (Black Chickpea) Curry

Kadala Curry is a dish from Kerala, the southwestern Indian state known for its drop-dead gorgeous backwaters and its amazing food full of cocout. I ate this last night at a fabulous Keralan restaurant in Hyd and couldn't get enough of it . . . it was amazing with appam (Keralan dosas) and paratha, but would also be fan-tabulous with rice.

This recipe is courtesy of "Live to Eat" at

2 cups Kadala (black chickpes), soaked overnight
1 cup sliced onions
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup fresh/frozen grated coconut
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1 star anise
5 whole black pepper
salt to taste
1/4 tsp oil

To Garnish
1/2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp sliced shallots
a few curry leaves
1 dry red chilly
Mix the soaked kadala with sliced onions and turmeric powder. Add water to cover the kadala and cook till soft (or pressure cook for about 15 minutes).

In a shallow pan, heat oil and add cardamom, cloves, star anise & black pepper seeds and fry for a minute or two.

Add coconut and fry till brown.

Add red chilli powder & coriander powder and fry on low heat till brown.

Dry grind the fried ingredients in a spice grinder. The oil from the coconut will help form a smooth paste of all the ground ingredients.

Add this paste along with salt to the cooked kadala. If there isn’t enough water in the kadala, add a cup or two and mix well. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes till the gravy is thick.

To garnish, heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds start to splutter add shallots, curry leaves and red chilly and saute till brown. Pour this over the cooked kadala.

Serve hot with puttu or appam or steamed rice.

Chenna poda (Oriya cheesecake)

This recipe from Orissa is apparently the only cheesecake made in India. Really.

1/2 pound Chenna (paneer), freshly curdled - the recipe below makes exactly enough
1/2 cup semolina (cream of wheat)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/2 cup raisins
a sprinkling of cashew pieces

In a big bowl, mash paneer thoroughly. Add semolina, sugar, cardamom, raisins, and cashews. Mix it well using your hands.

To get a caramelized effect on the top, apply a tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter) or unsalted butter to the bottom of the baking dish; sprinkle with sugar and then hold it slightly above a gas stove for a few minutes to melt the sugar. Spread the melted sugar evenly.

Pour the paneer mixture over the sugar; Bake in a preheated oven of 325 for one hour. Insert a toothpick; it's done when the toothpick comes out clean.

For the "authentic Oriya experience," Anshuman says to pour sugar syrup over the cake as soon as you get it out of the oven, then pop it right in the fridge.

Cool for 2-3 hours, then turn it upside down. It should stay fresh for a week in the fridge.

Homemade Paneer!

again, courtesy of Anshuman, who can't believe that I don't know how to make cheese at home . . .

1/2 gallon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, or the water that forms over yogurt ("juaan" in Oriya . . . does it have a name in English?!)

Bring the milk to a boil, then take it off the heat. Add lemon/watery yogurty stuff, and mix it all together. Cover it and check after 5 minutes; if the milk hasn't started curdling, add 2 more drops of lemon juice/yogurt water. Leave it for 30 minutes or until the milk is fully curdled; the finished state will have paneer (cottage cheese) floating in greenish water. (For reals.) Strain it through cheesecloth -- and you have your own homemade cheese!

Cococut-Cocoa-Cashew Cake Cubes

Another amazing-sounding recipe courtesy of Anshuman . . . .

for the cake:
Cream of Wheat: 1.5 cup
Sugar: 1- 1.5 cup
Yogurt: 1 cup
Coconut: 1 cup
Butter : 1 cup unsalted
Beaten Eggs: 3
Baking powder: 1.5 tsp

Mix coconut and cream of wheat. In a separate bowl, mix sugar and butter
Now add yoghurt to the coconut-cream of wheat (sooji!) mixture. Add everything to beaten eggs and mix well. Keep for 1 hr in the fridge.

Pre-heat oven and bake at 350 till done.

Let the cake cool, then cut it into cubes.

for the frosting!
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
1 tbs butter

Combine all above ingredients in a saucepan and cook on medium fire till it gets an icing consistency. While still warm, dip the cake cubes into the icing mix and then roll them over a plate of crushed cashews.

Veggie Vindaloo

Apologies to my dear Anshuman for "f'ing up his recipe," as he so graciously put it. (The original first ingredient was "a whole buttload of lamb," if that gives you any clue). However, this sounded so tasty that I decided it would be worth it to try a non-carnivorous version anyway :). (He also conceded that you could probably also add sweet potato and bell peppers to mix it up a little).

1 Tbs cider vinegar
2 tbs tamarind pulp
2 large onions
15-20 garlic cloves
1 inch finger of ginger
2 Tbs grated Coconut.
6 potatoes, cut in 1 inch cubes.
1 tsp each of cumin, coriander, red Chilli powder, and black pepper.
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 paprika cut into 4s
Two red chillis
one inch of cinnamon bark
3 cloves
2 bay leaves.

Grind one onion with half the garlic, with a little water. Add the vinegar, tamarind pulp, cumin, coriander, red chilli, black pepper powder and make a fine masala paste.

Chop the remaining onion.
Crush the ginger and garlic in a mortar & pestle.

In a flat bottom pan, heat 3 TBS oil. Add the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamom,
two red chillis. Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add ginger garlic, and saute till golden brown. Add the masala paste, and add litle water, and fry till oil
separates from mixture. Add salt to taste and stir well.

Add the potatoes and other veggies, paprika and stir well. Add the grated coconut, and add 2 cups of hot water. Let it simmer in low heat till potatoes/veggies are cooked.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Moroccan-inspired Chickpea Stew with Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash, and Kale

This giant pot of stew will feed a small army...or you'll have leftovers for a week!

1 small butternut squash
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
3 TBSP olive oil
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch chunk garlic root, peeled and minced
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dill
2 cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 can whole tomatoes in juice, chopped
1 medium-sized head of kale, stalks removed and chopped

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place face down in a lightly oiled glass pan and bake at 400 degrees for about half an hour, or until tender. Remove from oven, carefully trim skin off, and chop into 1/2 inch chunks. Meanwhile, place chopped sweet potatoes in a pot with a steamer basket and steam for about 20 minutes.

Heat 3 TBSP olive oil in a large pot over medium flame. Add onions and saute until translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, tumeric, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne, and saute another two or three minutes. Add steamed sweet potatoes, roasted squash chunks, dill, chick peas, chopped tomatoes with their juice, and about a cup of cold water. Cover and let simmer over medium heat until the stew thickens and all flavors meld, about 20 minutes. While stew is simmering, steam the chopped kale for about five minutes until bright green. Mix steamed kale into stew. Taste and adjust seasonings.

This stew is delicious served over brown rice with chopped raisins. Top it all off with a spoonful of yogurt!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sujatha’s Karivepaku Podi (Curry Leaf Powder)

A tasty and spicy way to jazz up some plain rice! You should be able to find curry leaves at your friendly neighborhood Indian grocery.

My coworker Sujatha gave me this recipe using grams as a measurement . . . so it might take some playing around to get the right proportions.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
125 grams urad dal
10 – 12 dried red chilis
35 grams dhaniya (coriander seeds)
10 grams jeera (cumin seeds)
45 grams sesame seeds
Leaves from 12-15 stems of curry leaves
6-7 pieces of garlic
Salt to taste
20 grams dried tamarind

Head oil in a pan for 2 minutes; add ural dal and fry until it’s light brown. Add chilis, coriander, cumin, coriander, sesame, curry leaf and fry till it’s a light brown color. Make sure you don’t use too much oil here; you want the mixture to be fairly dry. Toss the garlic and tamarind in towards the end.

Dump all the ingredients in the food processor; add salt and grind. You want it to be a powder, but Sujatha tells me that if you let it get TOO fine, then it’ll get bitter. Stir it into rice, and eat with curry, raita, and other yummy Indian things.

Lemon-Caper Veggie Saute

I’ve officially discovered a new favorite ingredient: capers! (Thanks to Martha, for randomly having them in her fridge when I came over with a bag full o'random veggies and no plan for how to cook them). They give this really simple combination of ingredients an extra little salty kick to make an easy, tasty pasta dish.

Olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 small onion
1 cup eggplant, cut into cubes
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch of spinach
Juice from 1 lemon
About 1 tbs capers, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan; add the garlic and onion and sauté for several minutes over low heat, until they start to turn golden brown. Add the eggplant and sauté until soft, adding a little water or extra olive oil if needed. Add the capers towards the end, allowing them to cook with the eggplant for a few minutes. Toss in the tomatoes and spinach, and cook till the greens are wilted.. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat, and squeeze the juice from the lemon over the whole thing.

Serve over whole wheat pasta. It would probably be fabulous with some fresh parmesan grated over the top :).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Carrot halwa

One of my favorite Indian sweets . . . and it’s made with veggies, so you can even pretend it’s healthy! (Note: this is not to be confused with halva, the sesame sweet from the Middle East. I admit I wasn’t sure what to think when someone told me they were giving me halva and then handed me a bowl o’ carrots).

Carrots, finely grated
Milk – just enough to cover the carrots
Ground cardamom
Cashews, chopped
White raisins

Boil the carrots in the milk till they’re basically soft (they can have a bit of a crunch, for texture). Add sugar and cardamom to taste; toss in some raisins if you like. Boil for a few more minutes, to blend the flavors.

In a pan, toast the cashews; add them to the carrot mixture. Let it cool before serving.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eggplant (brinjal) curry

The eggplants here are TINY (like, the size of my thumb!) and really sweet . . . I think this would be best with the smallest eggplants you can find (maybe the long, thin Japanese ones?), though it might still work with the big ones. It's worth a try for this spicy curry that ends up being a little sweet as well, thanks to the coconut . . .

1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp moong dal
1 tsp urad dal
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp meat masala
10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbs fresh grated coconut
about 1 1/2 cups eggplant, chopped into bite-sized pieces or 2-inch strips
(optional: 1/2 cup potatoes boiled till about halfway done, chopped into bite-sized pieces)

Heat 1 tbs oil in a small pan; add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dals and fry about 30 seconds. Add onion and fry till brown. Add water to cover the onion, along with turmeric, chili powder, masala, curry leaves, and ginger-garlic paste; cook for a few minutes, adding water if it grows dry. Add coriander, salt to taste, and coconut; then, add the eggplant and potatoes.

Carrot or Green Bean Fry

A super-quick way of making veggies super-tasty . . .

1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp moong dal
1 tsp urad dal
2-3 red chilis, broken into 1-inch pieces
1/4 tsp turmeric
5-10 curry leaves
1 cup lightly steamed veggies, chopped into small cubes (for carrots) or slices (for green beans)
about 2 tsp grated fresh coconut (you can buy it frozen in the U.S., or try unsweetened dried coconut)

Heat 2 tbs oil in a pan; fry mustard seeds, cumin, dals, and chilis for about 30 seconds. Add turmeric, and curry leaves; fry for another 30 seconds before adding the steamed veggies, a sprinkle of water, and salt to taste. Cook for a minute or two before tossing in the coconut.

Serve with rice or roti, and a dal :)

Basic dal, three ways

Dal (lentils) is a major staple in India, especially in the South . . . supposedly there are HUNDREDS of different varieties grown all across the subcontinent. It's generally served with rice and some kind of vegetable curry. Here's a basic dal recipe that can be tweaked to make two different dishes:

#1: Tomato dal!

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp moong dal
1 tsp urad dal
3 dried red chilis, broken into 1-inch pieces
5 curry leaves
1 cup toor dal (little yellow lentils . . . though there seem to be endless varieties of little yellow lentils . . . ), cooked, mashed, then mixed with water till they're kinda soupy. (Note: the TOTAL amount of dal used after it's soupy should be about 1 cup)
1/2 of a small tomato, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 tsp turmeric

Heat about 2 tbs oil in a pan; saute the mustard seeds, moong dal, urad dal, and red chilis for about 30 seconds. Toss in the curry leaves and the tomato; add a bit of water to cook the tomato in. Throw in the turmeric and simmer till the tomatoes grow soft. Then, add the dal and salt to taste; cook for a few more minutes to blend the flavors.

#2: Lemon dal (my faaaavorite!)

Follow the above recipe, but leave out the tomato. After you remove the dal from the heat, let it cool for a minute before squeezing in some fresh lemon juice (to taste).

#3 Tamarind dal (a new favorite!)

about 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste (you can find it in Indian or Middle Eastern stores), dissolved in water to make a smooth liquid

Follow the recipe (including the tomato, minus the lemon). After you've allowed the dal to boil for a few minutes, add the tamarind and allow it to boil for another minute or so. This will give it a yummy, tangy/sourish kinda flavor :)

spinach curry . . . ish.

Also known as my new favorite way to cook greens. (Except maybe Priya's spinach-tomato combination with coconut oil and some other yummy ingredients I can't remember . . . Priya, can you post that, pretty please?)

Anyway, this recipe is deceptively simple, but comes out chock full o'flavor. And it's super-easy . . . Auntie calls it "shortcut curry" :). Unfortunately, I've got no real measurements . . . back to guesstimates for this one!

1 tsp urad dal (little yellow lentils)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
chopped onion -- maybe 2 tbs or so
minced garlic - 1-2 tsp
two or three fresh green chilis, sliced in half, lengthwise
a bunch of spinach (though I bet it would be awesome with kale or collards as well)

Heat about 2 tbs oil in a pan; add the dal, mustard seeds, and cumin and cook for about 30 seconds. Toss in the onion and garlic, adding more oil if needed; fry till they're soft and transluscent. Add the chilis, and fry for about 30 seconds. Toss in the spinach, adding a bit of water if needed. Cook till the leaves are at the desired consistency.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nikhat's Kadhi

A yummy (and bright yellow!) sour-spicy gravy. My coworker Nikhat tells me it’s something you make when you don’t have any meat or vegetables in the house and need something tasty to eat with your rice or roti!

Also, she gets SOOOOO many points for giving me exact measurements. Woot!

1 cup plain yogurt
3 cups water
2 tbs Bengal gram flour (besan)
3 green chilies
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
Salt to taste
½ tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder.
1 ½ tsp mustard seeds
1 ½ tsp cumin
2-3 dried red chilis

For the kadhi:
In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, water, and flour together to form a thick liquid. In a small bowl, mash the chilis, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and salt into a paste. (A mortar and pestle is great for this, if you have one. Otherwise, you could maybe do it in a food processor). Add the paste to the batter and mix well; stir in both the red chili powder and a pinch of turmeric (only enough to turn it a light yellow color – if you add too much, it’ll make the dish bitter). Boil the mixture for a few minutes, stirring constantly (so it doesn’t form lumps); adjust salt to taste. Remove from heat.

For the seasoning:
In another small pot, heat 2 tbs oil. Toss in a few mustard seeds; if they splutter, it’s hot enough. Add the rest of the mustard seeds, cumin, and chili; cook for about 30 seconds, till the chilis start to turn a darker red. (You can also toss in some curry leaves here, if you like). Add this to the kadhi (the thick yellow mixture) and stir.

I’m betting this would be amazing served over brown rice and steamed veggies. Mmm . . .

Monday, January 19, 2009

Three Pie Crust Recipes


This is the pie crust that my mom always makes. If you like a perfect, delicious, flaky crust, this is the crust for you. As far as I'm concerned, no other crust is worth the calories!

3 C flour
1 tsp salt
1-1/4 C shortening
5 TBSP ice water
1 egg
1 tsp vinegar

Sift together flour and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles course corn meal. Beat together ice water, egg, and vinegar. Drizzle over flour mixture. Gently stir all together and shape dough into a ball. Chill at least 15 minutes. Turn out onto floured pastry cloth and roll to fit pie pan.

Yield: Pastry for 2 - 2 crust 8" pies, or 1 - 2 crust and 1 - 1 crust 9 or 10" pies.

Leftover dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for up to one year. Just thaw before using!


For all you vegans out there...

1-1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C chilled safflower oil
1/4 C ice water

Mix flour and salt in bowl. Add oil and mix well with fork or hands to distribute evenly. Add ice water all at once and mix quickly to form a ball. Roll out between layers of waxed paper.

Yield: Pastry for 1 - 2 crust 8 or 9" pie.


For the days when you're feeling too lazy to roll out a pastry crust.

1-2/3 C graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C sugar
6 TBSP butter, melted

To make your graham cracker crumbs either throw a bunch of graham crackers in a food processor or put them in a ziploc bag and smush them with a rolling pin. Then mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until well-combined.

Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.

Preheat oven to 350 F and pre-bake crust for 7 to 9 minutes. Cool before filling.

Yield: One 9" crust

Carob Tofu Cream Pie

Posted for Eric so that he might impress a girl with his "tofu robotics"...(!)

2 lb soft or medium tofu
1/2 C safflower oil
1/3 C honey
2/3 C roasted carob powder OR cocoa powder
2 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp instant coffee
2/3 C hot water

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large mixing bowl mash tofu and mix with oil, honey, carob or cocoa, corn starch, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Dissolve coffee in hot water and mix with tofu mixture. Blend in blender until smooth (you might have to do this in two batches). Pour into unbaked 9" pie crust and bake for 35 minutes or until crust is done and filling has jelled.

NOTE - This would be totally delicious with any of these add ins: a couple TBSP peanut butter, a couple drops peppermint extract, a shot of frangelico or amaretto, etc...or just leave it as it and top with fresh whipped cream and raspberries! Yum!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Basic Roti

Tasty Indian flatbreads that’re actually really easy! This recipe will make about 10 – 15 rotis.

2 cups atta (coarsely ground whole wheat flour . . . but I think it might be ok with regular wheat flour too)
About 1 ½ tbs oil
1 tsp salt
A few tablespoons of water
More oil, for cooking

Combine flour, oil, and salt. Add water little by little, kneading until the dough becomes a soft, pliable (but not sticky) ball. Cover it tightly and set it aside for one hour.

After an hour, knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes. Unlike yeast breads, more kneading will actually make this softer! Break off 1-inch pieces and roll into little balls with your hands. With a rolling pin, roll them into very thin little flatbreads. It’s good to find a friend for this part, so one person can roll while the other can fry!

Heat a nonstick pan, and plop a rolled-out roti onto it. Holding a balled-up dishcloth on your hands (so you don’t burn your fingers!), keep turning the roti (as in, spinning it around in a little circle, not flipping it) for the first 30 seconds, so the whole surface cooks evenly. Then, still holding the dishcloth, press down on the edges of the roti while continuing to rotate it in the pan – this makes the middle puff up (so cool!). Continue cooking this way for about a minute, then flip the roti. Spread about ¼ tsp of oil on the cooked side, then flip again and do the same on the other. Flip back and forth till both sides are golden brown.

Hyderabadi-style omelettes

I've only eaten this made with egg, onion, and spices, but I bet it would also be seriously tasty with some chopped tomato and red pepper tossed in. Could potentially be served with aloo gadda (potato fry) for a spicy brunch :)

2 eggs
2 tbs chopped onions
1tsp ginger-garlic paste
½ tsp chili powder, or to taste
1 tsp meat masala
¼ tsp turmeric
Pinch of salt
about 2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
Splash of milk

Sauté onions in oil till translucent. While they're cooking, whisk all other ingredients together in a small bowl. Add to pan and cook as you would an omelette, or scrambled eggs.

Aloo Gadda (potato fry)

A little spicy, a little salty, a little crispy. This would be great served at brunch as a fan-tabulous way to kick-start a Sunday morning!

2 large potatoes, peeled, boiled (make sure they don’t get too soft, though!!), and cut into small bite-sized cubes. Should make about 2 cups of potato cubes . . .
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp moong dal
2-3 red chilis, broken into 1-inch pieces
A handful of peanuts (optional)
½ tsp turmeric
10 curry leaves
Pinch of salt
1 tsp red chili powder
½ tsp meat masala

Heat 2 tbs of oil in a pan. To test the temperature, toss a few mustard seeds into the oil; if they splutter immediately, it’s hot enough. Add mustard seeds, cumin, dal, chilis, and peanuts and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, and fry for about 3-5 minutes. Add turmeric and curry leaves; fry for about one more minute. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (about ½ - 1 tsp), and then add about ¼ cup water. Continue frying for another 5 minutes (so the water evaporates) before adding chili powder and meat masala . . . then just let it cook till it’s as crispy as you want it, adding extra oil along the way if needed.

Bendakai/Ladyfinger/Okra Curry

So I know that okra totally gets a bad rap above the Mason-Dixon line . . . but it is SO SO good in this curry. Also, in India it’s called “ladyfinger,” which I think is kind of cute.

About 1 ½ cups okra, chopped into ½ inch pieces.
½ of 1 small onion
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon moong dal
¼ teaspoon turmeric
10 curry leaves
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (literally, equal amounts of ginger and garlic mashed together with a bit of salt added as a preservative. Supposedly it’ll keep in the fridge for a month, and you could totally use it in stir-fries as well . . . )
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried coconut
Pinch of salt
½ tsp meat masala (a sweeter garam masala with cinnamon and cloves. You can buy it pre-made . . . Everest and MTR are good brands that you should be able to find in Indian stores in the U.S.)

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan; add the cumin, mustard seeds, and dal and cook for about 30 seconds. Add turmeric and stir. Toss in onions, then add about ½ cup water; let cook for about 5 minutes, or until onions are soft. Add curry leaves, ginger-garlic paste, chili, coconut, and salt and cook for about 5 more minutes, adding more water if the mixture starts to dry up; it should be somewhat watery and gravy-like. Add okra and simmer ‘till it’s tender; sprinkle on meat masala and serve with yogurt.

Alisentaloo (black-eyed peas)

In case you have some leftover black-eyed peas after cooking up a pot of Hoppin’ John, you can use them to make this quick and delicious protein-filled bhaji (snack). I’m also betting you could use canned beans, and whip this up in about 5 minutes!

1 ½ cups black-eyed peas that’ve been soaked overnight and then boiled until soft, but not mushy. You can also substitute chickpeas, regular ol’ peas, or kidney beans.
1 tsp moong dal
1 tsp urad dal
10 curry leaves
3-4 dried red chilis (broken into 1-inch pieces)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
2 tbs peanuts
1 tbs grated fresh coconut (you can get this frozen, but I’m guessing it would be ok with dried coconut, too. It’s also good without coconut at all, but it adds an extra layer of yumminess )
1 lime

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan; toss in the dals, curry leaves, chilis, mustard seeds, cumin and peanuts and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the peas and cook for about 5 minutes, until they’re heated through. Toss in the coconut during the last 30 seconds or so.

Squeeze lime juice over the top and serve.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chocolate Parathas

Um, yes.

My friend Anshuman invented these last weekend, and they were beyond fan-tabulous served with channa dal (yellow lentils simmered with onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and meat masala). Sound like the strangest combination, I know, but he was convinced that the sweetness and spiciness would be brilliant together, and it was. My friend Martha and I agreed that this kind of crazy combination can only work in India.

Whole wheat flour
Mashed potatoes (no spices added)
Chocolate (he used Cadbury milk chocolate, but I bet it would also be yummy with dark)

For the dough:
Place a cup or two of whole wheat flour in a bowl along with a healthy dash of cinnamon. Add water in small amounts, kneading with hands, until dough is a soft and manageable ball – about 10-15 minutes. It should smell deliciously cinnamon-y. Let it rest for about an hour.

For the filling:

Melt the chocolate, and mix with the mashed potatoes. Proportions are up to you. The ones he made weren’t very sweet; the potatoes turned a dark chocolate-y brown, but the taste carried more of a hint of sweetness than an overwhelming rush of chocolate.

From here, you can basically follow the directions for cooking Aloo Parathas (a few recipes down), with the following changes:

When you fill the parathas, add about a teaspoon of honey before closing up the little dough balls and rolling them out.

When frying them, brush the tops with butter (he used ghee, but I think butter should be fine), and dab tiny pats of butter around the pan so they melt and run into the edges of the paratha.

Martha and I agreed that you could also up the chocolate level and top them with ice cream and strawberries to make an amazing dessert. Also, she gets MAJOR points for making a salad, with LETTUCE, that we ate with this meal without getting sick! A-mazingness!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Buttermilk Cornbread

Delicious crispy buttery cornbread! Fast and easy to make and so yummy with hot soup or stew. This recipe is my own take on a recipe I found on

1/2 C butter
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C cornmeal
1 C whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 ear corn, boiled and kernels cut from cob

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a cast iron skillet and put it into the oven to get nice and hot.

In a saucepan on the stove, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Quickly, add each egg and whisk well. Measure out your buttermilk and whisk the baking soda directly into the milk. Add to the egg mixture and mix. Add in cornmeal, flour, and salt, and mix just until combined. Using a spatula, fold in the corn kernels.

Remove the skillet from the oven and quickly spread the batter into the pan. Place back in the hot oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Chris proclaimed this the best cornbread he's ever there you go.

Vegetarian Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John, a Southern tradition introduced to me last week by my friend Ryan, is a savory black eyed pea stew that is supposed to bring the eater health and wealth in the new year. This version, made without the traditional ham and with a few additions of my own, was full of spice and super tasty when served with a warm slice of homemade cornbread (recipe to follow)! This recipe makes a huge pot so either serve your whole neighborhood or plan to eat this for a solid week.

1 pound black eyed peas, soaked overnight
8 C water
1 medium onion, halved
2 carrots, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
3 cloves garlic, halved
2 tsp salt
2 bay leaves

Place all ingredients in a large soup pot, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 1 hour, stirring once after half an hour. (Careful not to over mix or your beans will disintegrate!) Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the chunks of vegetable and the bay leaves and discard.

1/2 C brown rice
1 1/4 C water
1/2 tsp salt

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add rice and salt, cover, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 45 minutes.

2 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced

Heat olive oil in a small skillet and add all vegetables. Saute until tender and fragrant. Add vegetables and cooked rice to the pot of beans and mix gently.

1 can whole peeled tomatoes in sauce
1/2 pound turnip greens (or collards), chopped
4 scallions, whites and greens chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
salt to taste

Roughly chop tomatoes and add (with juice!) to the beans. Add greens, scallions, and all spices. Stir gently and let simmer for five minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings as needed.

Enjoy with a big buttery slice of cornbread!