Subscribe: Musical's kitchen
http://musicalskitchen.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
add  chillies  chopped  cook  cup  dish  enjoy  ginger  green chillies  green  minutes  oil  powder  salt  taste  tsp 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Musical's kitchen

Musical's kitchen



Recipes, thoughts and trivia about food and cooking.....and a lil' chit-chat :)



Updated: 2017-11-05T23:53:00.435-08:00

 



Just for the party: Shimla Mirch and Paneer :).

2009-09-16T01:55:43.778-07:00

Yeah, there is an actual new post here :). Gone are the days (months?) of being greeted by the same old batata-vada, in case you happened to visit this blog in the past year ;). I'll be honest, it's not been an easy post to write-there is more than year's worth of laziness to shrug off :).But, the occasion demands it. A Mad Tea Party has been organized and our gracious hostess has been kind enough to allow late comers to be a part of the fun fiesta. After having two crazy parties which involved lots of frying, she has chosen the theme of instant gastronomic gratification, desi ishtyle. Make something quick, easy, delicious. Something that does not exotify Indian cooking, but rather highlights the vast variety that Indian food boasts of, with the myriad regional twists and flavors.I debated a lot on what to prepare for this event. It had to be simple, amenable to adaptations and quick to make. I chose a simple combination of bell peppers and Indian cottage cheese, the two ingredients i had available at hand. The dish is very quick and easy, and you can play any number of combinations on it. The main reason, though, is that this was one of the first few dishes I ever prepared :). Besides, there is a lot of nostalgia factor involved. This is also the dish that a dear teacher of mine fondly mentioned in several conversation.Trivia: Since this recipe involves paneer, it has some Punjabi flair. This is a slightly unusual combination for a Punjabi meal though. Bell peppers in Punjab are a summer vegetable, while paneer dishes are usually either reserved for special occasions or winter/autumn/spring season. So this is not something you would typically find in rural Punjabi homes for an everyday meal, though it does make an popular choice for special occasions. However, where I currently live, bell peppers are available all year round and the weather is usually mild, making this an appropriate everyday dish for my kitchen.As for versatility, the bell peppers and onions combination is one of my favorites. I have tried this dish replacing paneer with tofu, eggplants, zucchini and crook-neck squash, and replacing cumin with mustard seeds/nigella/panch-phoron and the results have always been delightful! Sometimes I've just used ground Sichuan-peppers/Teppal and enjoyed it immensely. I recommend each of these variations.Here is how we prepare this dish:Key ingredients:1 onion,sliced thin2 bell peppers, diced20-25 bite size (1") cubes of fresh paneerSeasonings: 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp. turmeric, salt to taste1-2 tsp. oilOptional ingredients: Kashmiri red chilli powder (for color), 1/4 tsp. amchoor or one tomato (cubed) for a tangy twist, crushed garlic/garlic salt or garam masala for a different flavor.Preparation: Let's begin with the stereotypical "heat oil in a pan". While the oil is heating, we cut the onion into two halves and chop each half into thin slices. Next, we splutter the cumin in hot oil, saute' the onions for 2-4 minutes. During this time, we chop the bell peppers and prepare paneer cubes. Add the paneer cubes and pan fry them next on medium to high heat. They should turn golden. Next, we add the bell peppers and stir-fry some more (4-5 minutes). We then add salt and turmeric, reduce the heat, cover and cook an additional 10 minutes (or till the bell pepper pieces are tender). This is the basic version of the recipe and can be jazzed up with additional seasonings mentioned in "optional ingredients". Total time involved in preparing this dish was close to 25 minutes or so. This is a great everyday and party dish. I enjoyed this dish along with a simple matar kadhi and plain rice, for dinner with my friend Ms. AK and sent some over to buddy MD via pictures. My friends loved it, and that's what counts :). I hope you will love it too.Here's to fun-times! Thank you, Anita![...]



Batata vadas, at long last :-D.

2008-08-31T22:50:45.074-07:00

Yay!! I finally made it. I mean, the batata-vadas and the blog-post :). I am out of my hibernation, atleast right this moment ;). Sorry for having left with that spider/star-anise staring at you :-D.By now, you all know that i love playing hide and seek :-D. But every, now and then, you do come up with stuff, that's simply too tempting to resist, stuff that totally wakes you up. Our dear host of the Mad Tea Party, Anita, is the master-mind behind one such idea. Her love for potatoes, deep-fried goodness and mad tea parties is well known. Aloo+deep-frying+madness translated into poori-bhaji last year, and it's batata-vada this time around. So, Anita, Happy Blog Anniversary to you, and thank you for these rocking mad tea parties. Thank you for putting up with my lazy ways and for the enjoyable evening tea :).Here's to madness and deep-fried goodness: batata-vadas.Batata-vadas:My recipe takes shape from the different versions I have enjoyed. Here's how I made it:Batter:Chickpea flour (1 cup)Rice flour (1 tbsp.)1/4 tsp. cumin powder1/4 tsp. coriander powderSalt (to taste)Red chilli powder (to taste)A pinch of baking soda or baking powder (optional)Mix these ingredients and make it into a thick batter with water.Potato mix:Two big potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed)Ginger-garlic paste (1 tsp., I used 1 tsp. grated ginger and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder )1 serrano pepper (chopped fine)Cilantro, finely choppedSalt (to taste)Juice of half a lime/lemon1/2 tsp. mustard seeds5-6 curry leavesA pinch of hingA pinch of turmeric1 tsp. oilAdd ginger-garlic paste, chopped chilli peppers, cilantro leaves, salt and lime juice to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Spultter mustard seeds in hot oil, add hing, curry leaves and turmeric to it and add to the potato mix.Frying and savoring:Heat oil in a kadahi. Meanwhile, make round balls from the potato mix, dip it into the batter and fry them to golden, crispy perfection. Enjoy with a chutney of your choice. I love them with hot coconut chutney, thecha, or simply with salted small green chillies soaked in lime juice. But these ones, i had them with Sriracha sauce and a slice of toasted sourdough bread.A perfect accompaniment to my evening tea. Best enjoyed when you share them with family and friends. When you can't, just think of all the good people around and have some on their behalf too :). Friends, this one is for you all. Anita, hope you enjoyed these. Sorry for the late entry-i promise i'll make up for it by singing and dancing to my heart's content :).[...]



Eggplants and tomatoes: a starry combination :)

2008-03-30T11:29:03.693-07:00

This has to be the post that has enjoyed the cozy comfort of draft-box for the longest ;). Originally meant to be posted more than a month ago, it was lovingly forgotten there as i switched from a "cough", through an "achooooo" (and finally), to my everyday life :-D. But here it is, finally!

Tomatoes and eggplants are a very regular combination in my kitchen and i enjoy them together in many different ways. The title of this post says that this combination is really starry, so that should give you a hint of what is to show up next ;). Yup, a very simple recipe, where the main spice is the pretty, starry, Star Anise. Don't get me wrong, the intent of the following picture is not to scare anyone ;). Just that this piece of star anise was breaking all stereotypes for the said spice and looked more like a spider :-D.

(image)
This sweet and tangy combination is very quick to make and super delicious.

(image) Here is how we make it:

We need:

  • 2 long eggplants (Chinese ot Japanese variety), cut into 2" long pieces
  • 2-3 big and juicy tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 piece star anise (one whole and the other ground into powder).
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar (or as per taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • Red chilli powder (to taste)
  • 7-8 basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp. oil

In a pan, heat the oil and splutter the cumin. Add the eggplant pieces and stir-fry them on high-heat. Set the eggplant pieces aside. Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook till tender. Add the sugar, turmeric, red chilli powder and star anise powder. Add 2-3 tbsp. water, if needed. Add salt, and the stir fried eggplant pieces. Reduce the flame and cover to cook another 10-15 minutes or so, till the eggplant pieces have absorbed the flavors. Add the basil leaves. Garnish with the whole star anise and enjoy hot with rice or chapatis :).

(image)

And you are so right, the inspiration for this dish is from Chinese sweet and sour eggplants. Oh, and before i forget, do try out Star Anise in your chai, its the best!



Going green: Chard and mushrooms :)

2008-02-23T21:16:47.489-08:00

Having gotten back to blogging very recently, i have been full of enthusiasm :). So after posting the recipes celebrating kokum, the plan was to post another recipe the very next day. That would have made it a hat-trick :-D. A post a day, i would have been onto a blogging spree! But how could i, Ms. Musical (the lazy one), get around doing that :-D. So, here i am, after having put the pictures in draft a cpl. of days ago, finally typing the recipe ;).

This is a quick one, but immensly delish! A hearty combination of the beautiful chard and the delectable mushrooms,
(image) something that can be prepared in a matter of minutes and is a great accompaniment to any meal :).

I've used rainbow chard and baby-bella mushrooms here, but other varieties also work fine. Here's how we go about it.

Chard and mushroom sabzi:

(image)

We need:

  • 1 bunch (7-8 leaves) Swiss chard (regular, red, rainbow-they all are good. I love red and rainbow varieties though, because they look so pretty)-chopped coarse.
  • 1 and half cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion, sliced fine
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • red chilli powder to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • A pinch of garam masala (equal proportions of cinnamon, cloves and fennel seeds: roasted, cooled and ground into a fine powder. This recipe is one of my favorite masala recipes and works really well with green leafy vegetables. Its a very typical Kerala style spice recipe and i was first introduced to this one by my very dear friend, Ms. Moon).
  • 1 tsp. oil
We start by the obligatory (ahem!) step of heating the oil in a pan and spluttering the cumin seeds (which can be replaced by mustard seeds for another delicious variation). Next, sliced onions are added and saute'ed. We then add the chopped mushrooms and stir fry them till tender (takes about 4-5 minutes). Next, we add the chopped greens and stir in the salt, red chilli powder and turmeric. We let the veggies cook on low heat till done.
Finally, we sprinkle a pinch or two of the garam masala powder and enjoy this dish with chapatis and dahi or sambar- rice or (you guessed it right) as a sandwich stuffing :).

(image)
Other variations:

Add a lil' bit of grated coconut to this dish (use some chopped green chillies in this case, instead of red chilli powder). Try eggplants (the Chinese and Japanese varities) instead of mushrooms, or even green peas or corn. Each results in a delicious quick fix side-dish. Enjoy :).



Kokum: celebrating the surprise and a wonder ingredient :).

2008-02-21T15:46:20.572-08:00

Time to flaunt the lovely surprise in my mailbox :). The lovely surprise that i got from Nupur is the tangy, beautiful and fragrant kokum. Kokum (botanical name: Garcinia indica) is also known as amsul/amsool and mangosteen (English). It is widely celebrated in Marathi, Konkani, Mangalorean and Coorgi cuisines, to name a few and adds a mellow tanginess and a beautiful pick blush to the dishes :). The kokum seed oil/butter is considered to be very good for the skin and has found immense use in the cosmetic and food industry. Several health food stores here in the US now flash products using kokum butter :). Read more about its myriad uses here.Sra brings an interesting question to fore: The Wiki link claims that Kokum=Mangosteen. However, as it turns out, Mangosteen is Garcinia mangostana. Close cousins, but not the same. Her question is: Can we make kokum from Mangosteen? It should be theoretically possible-i guess they have similar fruits, and its a matter of drying the peel. I am very positive on this, because apparently kudampuli (a prized ingredient in Kerala cuisine) is also from genus Garcinia (Garcinia gummigutta, Garcinia combogia) ! No wonder they look quite similar :). So, if anyone knows here how to prepare kokum from the fruit, please do share the information :). Sra kindly shared the following links, do check them out:MangosteenTalking about kokumKokamThe two yummy dishes i associate kokum most with, are amti and sol kadhi :). The former is daal (mostly toor daal) cooked with kokum extract (prepared by soaking kokum in water), gul (jaggery)/sugar and phodni (tempering: includes asfoetida, mustard seeds, curry leaves and turmeric) and the latter is a delicious blend of coconut milk, kokum extract, gul, green chillies and cilantro :).And surely i am going to use this lovely surprise to make amti and sol kadhi. But i wanted to enjoy this present by trying it with something different :). So i went ahead and though of the following:Chayote squash curryQuick aloo-matarI chose these dishes randomly, the former because of what i fancied in the grocery store and the latter to fit my plans to make a quick fix dinner :). Hope you'll enjoy these!Chayote squash curry:There is something about the kokum-coconut combination.....it reminds me of Goa, each time i think of it, each time i relish it! I took the chayote squash, paired this lovely vegetable with coconut milk and dressed up the combo with kokum. The result was a delicious curry, which totally made me nostalgic about my Goa trip and the food i enjoyed there. Here is how i made it:We need:Two chayote squashes (cubed into bite sized pieces)1/2 can coconut milkKokum extract (4-5 pieces kokum soaked for 20-30 minutes in 1/2 cup water)1/2" piece of ginger, grated (optional)1 clove garlic, grated (optional)A pinch of turmeric7-8 curry leaves1/2 tsp. mustard seedsSalt to tasteRed chilli powder to taste1 tsp. sugar1 tsp. oilBoil the cubed squash pieces in water (enough to completely cover the pieces) along with turmeric and salt, till tender. Add coconut milk, grated ginger, garlic, kokum extract, red chilli powder and sugar. Bring to boil. Prepare the tempering by heating the oil, spluttering the mustard seeds and adding the curry leaves. Add the tempering to the curry and simmer to desired thickness. Enjoy hot with rice and pickles :).If you are short on time, you can also cook the kokum pieces directly with the vegetables, after addition of coconut milk. I leave the kokum pieces in, they add a certain flavor to the dish. It is really fun to chew on a fruity piece of kokum as you relish the curry :-D. If you want the curry to have a subtle flavor, you may omit ginger and garlic. I have to add; this kokum was so good, that despite using ginger and garlic, i could feel the distinct aroma from these purple-pink fruits. Do include sugar in the preparation to balance the tangy flavor, it adds a lot to taste.Quick aloo-matar:This is quick indeed and involves use of m[...]



Here's to fun and friendship :)

2008-02-20T01:03:00.789-08:00

Hi, friends! I finally am back from my hibernation :). Now, haven't you heard similar stuff on this blog before :-D. This probably could have ended up as one more of those posts :). But what makes this one different is a very special word called "Friendship". Its the power of friendship that's finally brought me back.....I'll narrate you a lil' story. Sometime ago, i prepared a simple soup for dinner-a simple fair, yet something that tasted great! It was then, that i felt this sudden urge to share.....share that bowl of goodness, that thrill of enjoying good food! It was then, that i felt that i would love to get back here again.....Several days later, i received a heart-warming note in my mailbox, from a person whose enthusiasm and passion for food is infectious. She, who weaves foodie dreams at her "One Hot Stove", wanted me to send a foodie surprise. The note had "hello friend" written all over it. The spirit behind the Arusuvai Friendship Chain is to share foodie surprises and extend a hand of friendship through blogosphere. This exchange of lil' surprises first started in India, and is the brain child of Latha ji and her daughter Lakshmi from from The Yum Blog. Dear Latha from Masala Magic has now brought this wonderful concept here.And the surprises now travel from one kitchen to another, carrying along smiles, thoughts, flavors and fun :). Nupur, thanks for thinking of me, dear friend.....Also, thanks Sunita and Sia, for the tempting events that totally got the better of me. I'll be sending my entries soon :).Last weekend, i received a package, full of lovely surprises :). I now take you through those beautiful surprises, one picture at a time :).The surprise:This had to be the freshest, tangiest and most fragrant and vibrant kokum i have seen in recent time, paralleled only by what i relished at my friend Golden Girl's house, a home grown treat, which her Aayi had brought all the way from India :). It was so tempting that soon as i opened the package, i popped a cpl. of pieces in my mouth :-D. And i knew that the meals in the coming few days would be livened up by this beautiful surprise :). Watch out for the recipes tomorrow :).The sweets:Trust Nupur for her innovative creations. The tangy kokum was accompanied by what has to be one of the best chikkis ever! The caramel treat loaded with almonds was topped by chocolate and more nuts :). YUMMY!The suvenir:This chappal has to be special :-D. Guys, this is no ordinary slipper i am talking about. Its a lovely suvenir from Kolhapur, the place where our buddy Nupur comes from. Yes, the famous Kolhapuri chappal :). The miniature is just as gorgeous as the real deal!The thoughts:And all this, along with a beautiful note on a pretty card, made from hand-made paper :). Thanks again, Nupur......for all the affection, for all the goodness you packaged in that envelope and for all the yummy foods that you've shared through your hot stove. Above all, for thinking of me as a friend. Here's to the power of friendship :).From my kitchen to yours:The Arusuvai Friendship Chain would like the fun to travel along. So, time for me to mail lil' surprises to few friends. It really means a lot me, dear friends:Sig, Richa and Pel, thanks for all the affection and for being the great friends that you are. Hope you enjoy the lil' surprises. This is so exciting and am really looking forward to the yummy creations from your kitchens. Let the fun times roll :).And now a special recipe. Remember that soup i mentioned about in the beginning. That is the friendship soup, my friend and embodies the warmth of friendship :). This one is to friendship :).Coconut milk-beans soup:This soup combines the milky sweetness and aroma of coconut, with the hearty and comfortingtexture of beans. Topped with the lively and fragrant ginger, flavorful garlic and spicy sambal, this one is perfect for relaxing after a long day :).We need:2 cups cooked (boiled) beans, i used [...]



Sweet-potato stew (Thai-style) :)

2007-11-16T14:36:56.804-08:00

Hi! all :). i am back after my hiatus ;). I apologize for not posting, late replies to the comments and lazy blog-hopping. Not that i didn't have any time, i probably did, atleast on some days.....but may be, i was tired.....and not in the right mood to post. If i would have posted something in a rush, it wouldn't have come out well :-D. And when i did feel like posting, i got sick. Hmm, so today i am back, hoping that i can post something :). I am sure you understand :).What i want to share today is a lovely stew made out of sweet-potatoes, prepared in Thai style. Yup, Thai style (and not Thai, because i have only had it in a restaurant and have approximated it from an online recipe, so am not sure if its authentic Thai or not, but it definitely does use a lot of popular ingredients from Thai cuisine). The sweet potato cubes are simmered in coconut milk with green peas (which are either used as such or as a replacement for Thai pea-eggplants when they are not available. The restaurant dish used green peas), ginger, red chillies paste and basil. The result is a yummy, creamy stew :).As i mentioned, i first had this dish at a restaurant and really loved it. So, i looked up the recipe online, and modiefied it to include similar ingredients and get a similar taste. The original recipes can be found here. I've mostly relied on the second recipe, and included basil and peas.Yup, and ginger plays a key role in this recipe. You now know where this recipe is heading to :). Yup, for the thoughtful get-together celebrating ginger, at Sunita's place :). Now, if you really look around this blog, you'd notice my love for ginger :-D.Majority of the recipes here rely heavily on ginger, especially the daal/beans recipes :). If you are all for ginger, you'll enjoy those too :). So, most of my regular, everyday food does celebrate ginger-that's why i thought to write about something different, using ginger. Since its a Thai recipe, galangal would do well here. But from the taste, i guess the restaurant used ginger.So, here is how i made it:Thai style sweet-potato stew:We need:1 big sweet potato, peeled and cubed in to 1/2" cubes (i used garnet sweet-potato)-gives about 30-35 cubes.3/4 can of light coconut milk ( i use Chao-Koh or thai Kitchen brands)1 cup green peas1/2 onion (chopped-optional)1 heaped tbsp. grated ginger2 cloves garlic (crushed)1 heaped tsp. red chilli paste (you can use sambal oelek)1 tsp. lemon grass (pounded into paste)Salt to taste1 tsp. oil5-6 basil leavesFirst, prepare the sweet potato. Its difficult to cube, so you can soften it a bit by microwaving it for 1-2 minutes. Make 1/2" cubes out of it, and to reduce the preparation time, drizzle the cubes with some water and microwave an additional 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep pan and saute' the onions. Now add the crushed garlic and grated ginger and saute' for another minute. Add the lemongrass paste and red-chilli paste next and mix well. Add 1 cup of water and cubed sweet potatoes (original recipe calls for vegetable broth, water is good enough) and bring to boil. Next, add the coconut milk, salt and 1-2 basil leaves and simmer on low till the stew thickenes a bit. Garnish with remaining basil leaves and serve hot with plain boiled rice of your choice. Enjoy :).As i said, i am taking this to our ginger themed potluck hosted by the lovely Sunita. Thanks, Sunita, for celebrating my ever favorite spice :). And did i tell you, that ginger is really good to relieve minor coughs and colds and body-aches :). Not to mention that it smells "oh, soooooooo fresh" :). Hope you all enjoy this and will pardon me for being a not-so-regular blogger :-D.Love,musical.[...]



Salad, sabzi, or both and a weekend brunch idea :)

2007-10-28T17:13:11.116-07:00

I am sure you are all familiar with the days, when you get back home tired and really hungry: the times when you don't have much energy to do some elaborate cooking, but would still love to have some yummy food! On one such day last week, i felt really lazy to cook much, yet craved something spicy and filling. In this bus, i had been dreaming about making some baked vegetables in some cilantro based marinade. When i got home, i checked out the vegetables in the fridge and wondered what all to use. Finally, i decided to go for some bell peppers, some mushrooms, a lil' paneer and some spring onions and marinate them in a cilantro based marinade. The cilantro chutney/marinade was made by simply blending together cilantro, green chillies, ginger, garlic salt, salt and lime juice. I mixed the marinade with the veggies in the baking dish and the whole thing looked really appetizing. I then wondered, if i should go for a salad, a sabzi or both :-D. I decided to take some in a bowl as a salad, which was yummy! and put the rest in the oven. As i feasted myself upon the lip-smacking chutney-vegetables combo, i simultaneously had been making some baked vegetables, which turned out to be equally delicious, if not more :-D. I am sure you all have your own variations on this theme, here's my version:Baked vegetables in cilantro marinade:We need:1 big bell pepper (chopped into bite-sized pieces)2 Roma tomatoes (sliced)20 or so bite sized pieces of paneer1/2 cup sliced crimini or baby bella mushrooms1 bunch spring onions (chopped)For marinade:1 small bunch/3/4 th cup equivalent chopped cilantro1 serrano pepper or 2 green chillies (adjust chillies to your taste)1 inch piece of ginger1 tsp. lime/lemon juice1 tsp. garlic saltSalt to tasteGrind together the ingredients for the marinade. Mix these with the chopped vegetables. In case you are making the salad, leave the spring onions and chill the salad in the fridge. Mix the chopped spring onions before serving.The salad :)For making baked vegetables, mix the marinade with all the chopped vegetables and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F meanwhile. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, mixing once in between (or till the bell peppers are tender-rest of the stuff doesn't take long to cook). The end result should have slightly crisped paneer and well done bell peppers, with some thick gravy. If you want grilled vegetables, add less marinade, and bake a lil' longer. Enjoy the baked vegetables with crispy toast :).The sabzi :)As i was having the salad, i wondered about all those laments that one gets to hear from time to time, as to how Indian food doesn't have much to do with salads! Indian cuisine boast of such an enormous variety of salads, from the lovely koshimbirs, to kosumbari, to the sundals, raitas and pachidis and the regular kheera-tamatar with lime, salt an pepper and many many more. Just that we don't label them as "salad" :-D.Oh, and here's a quick weekend brunch idea. i am sure again that many of you make this in your own way as well. i am talking about the sandwich made with (aloo ki) sabzi :-D. i use left over aloo sabzi (dry) or any dry sabzi, stuff it in the sourdough or rye bread, along with a lil' skim mozzarella or five cheese blend and toast it on tava/griddle. i'll be honest with you, i use a lil' ghee (just a cpl. of drops) to toast :-D. It gives such a heavenly aroma!Here's a quick aloo ki sabzi-a zero oil version:We need:1-2 potatoes (boiled/microwaved and mashed)1/2 tsp jeera/cumin1 ripe tomato1 bunch spring onions (optional)1 tsp. grated ginger1 clove garlic (chopped fine, optional)1 chopped green chilliSalt to taste1/2 tsp. lime juice or 1 tsp. sour curdsChopped cilantro for garnishWash the potatoes and keep them in the microwave for cooking. It takes about 4 minutes per potato, and 7 minutes for two potatoes in my micrwave. Alternatively you can boil the pot[...]



Food, festivals and memories :)

2007-10-20T16:36:00.828-07:00

For people like me, festivals, food and memories form a heady combo :). Food and festivals go hand in hand and create everlasting memories. The celebrations one enjoys together with the family, the meals on cherishes with the loved ones, they all hold a special place in our book of memories :). Navaratri time is one such festival in India, when people celebrate togetherness, weave memories and have lots of fun. Food ofcourse plays a central part here too, like any other Indian festival. The word Navaratri blends the word Nava, meaning nine and new (the two meanings of the word "nava" blend well together here) and, ratri meaning night. The nine new nights, the beginning of a new season.....There are two navaratris, one celebrated during the month of Ashvin (Assu in Punjabi), leading to Mahanavami and Vijayadashmi and another one during the month of Chaitra (Chetar in Punjabi), leading to Ram Navami. The Ashvin Navaratri is one of the most popular Indian festival, celebrated across different Indian subcultures.In Punjabi, Navaratri time is referred to as Narate/Navratre. Both Assu and Chetar Narate are celebrated with equal fervour. People f(e)ast through the Narate and celebrate Sri Durga Ashtami and Maha Navami with lots of festive foods. Throughout the Narate, people worship the various forms of Mother Goddess. To me, this festival reflects the celebration of womanhood.During fasting, ideally one is supposed to eat light, stick to mostly fruit diet or "phalahaar", no whole grains, no salt etc. However, that usually makes way for the alternative sources of yumminess :-D. People enjoy goodies made out of swaang (literal meaning, pretend) da chawal (samo), singhare da atta (water chestnut flour)-relished as rotis, choora and halva, kuttu de atte di roti (rotis made out of kuttu flour) etc. Salt is replaced by kala loon/kala namak/sendha namak (black salt). The sabzis, daals and kadhis are made sans and onion, garlic and even tomatoes! People enjoy the laddoos/pinnis made out of jaggery and red amaranth seeds (boor, seel, rajgira). Read some notes about samo and rajgira here.I'll confess, i used to fast when i was a lil' kid :). The fun of doing things together with my friends was what drove me to sustain on bananas and other fruit for the whole day, with an occassional treat in the form of khatte wale aloo :).Its a simple dish, made out of potatoes, dry spices and tamarind. Really yummy and tangy, and has a lovely deep brown color! I recently made it as an ode to good old times :). Here's how we make it:Khatte wale aloo:We need:3 potatoes (peeled and cut into big cubes. I use Russet/Idaho varities)A pinch of hing/asfoetida1/2 tsp. cumin (jeera)1/4 tsp. kalonji (nigella seeds)1/2 tsp. coriander powders (dhania powders)1/4 tsp. turmericRed chilli powder (to taste)1 tbsp. thick tamarind pulpSalt to taste (people who fast traditionally use black salt)1/2 tsp. oil (preferably mustard) or gheeIn a deep vessel, heat the oil/ghee and temper the hing, followed by cumin and nigella seeds Now add the coriander powder and turmeric and mix. Add one and half cup water to this and bring to boil. Now add cubed potatoes, salt and chilli powder, cover and cook the potatoes on low heat till done. Stir in the tamarind pulp and cook for another 4- 5 minutes. Serve hot with thin phulkas. Enjoy :).On the Durga Ashtami day, or Jyot, as it is known in Punjabi, people invite lil' girls home for a feast. This is called Kanjak Pooja. Kanjak literally means lil' girl. The lil' girls are literally worshipped and enjoy a great feast and are given really pretty presents including beautiful bangles, red chunnis/duppattas/scarves with golden/tilla boder, toys and some pocket money. As lil' girls, my friends and i used to get together and the night before Durga Ashtami, we would apply mehndi and have lots of fun together. The traditional [...]



A really different, really healthy aloo-gobhi :).

2007-10-18T00:00:04.023-07:00

Yes, indeed-its different! One, its really simple to put together (the only things you chop are aloo and gobhi) and two, its a zero oil recipe! And it packed with flavor! I have previously posted Mom's aloo-gobhi recipe, which ofcourse is an all time favorite. Today's recipe, retains the key spices from that recipe: ginger and green chillies and combines them the tangy taste of sour curds. I made it this weekend, and i had to share it with you :). Oh, talking about sharing: here's a cute piece of news.....my diary turned one y'day :-D. Blogging has been fun. So, here's to blogging and fun :).Dahi wali aloo-gobhiThis dish is a simple one, but really yummy! We marinate the aloo and gobhi in a mix of sour curds, grated ginger, garlic salt, green chillies, cumin and coriander powders and salt, cook the aloo-gobhi first on low heat and then on high heat, and there it is: zero oil, flavorful aloo-gobhi.We need:One Cauliflower (cleaned and cut into big florets, check the recipe mentioned above)2 Russet/Idaho Potatoes (peeled and cubed)1 cup sour curds (i used store-bought fat free yogurt, to make it almost completely fat free)1 tbsp. grated ginger1/2 tsp. garlic-chilli salt ( i used Cholula brand, you can use any other brand garlic salt or 1 clove crushed garlic, which should work just as well)1 tsp. each cumin and coriander (jeera and dhania) powders1-2 green chillies (chopped)Salt to tasteFresh cilantro for garnishingIn a bowl, mix all ingredients except aloo, gobhi and salt, to make the marinade. Coat the aloo and gobhi pieces with this marinade and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Now you can choose one of the two ways to cook this dish:Either tranfer these pieces and any remaining marinade into a pan. In this case, cook on low till the cauliflower florets are tender (takes about 25-30 minutes). orPlace the aloo-gobhi in a baking dish and cover with aluminium foil. IIf using the baking method, bake the aloo-gobhi at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes and transfer the contents to a pan.From here on, the method is the same:Now add salt to the aloo gobhi and cook on high heat to dry all the liquid. This takes about another 10 minutes. The end result should be a well done, non- soggy, non-mushy aloo gobhi. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy with chapati or paranthas. Trust me, you won't miss the oil!Notes: 1.Baking with yougurt/curds retains some liquid even after 30 minutes, hence cooking in the pan is essential. It not only dries up the liquid, but also makes the aloo-gobhi firm yet well cooked.2. The marinade is really yummy! Add some boiled and mashed potatoes or some fried eggplant slices to it and enjoy a yummy raita![...]



FAHC: Share a smile :)

2007-10-16T15:43:42.663-07:00

Words synonymous with food/khana are integral part of our vocabulary, they indicate sustenance, comfort, connection, affection and whole lot more to all of us. A lot of fond memories are woven around food and eating. However, food also indicates survival, the most basic necessity of life.....It always gives one immense satisfaction to feed someone, to share some food.....because your share the spirit of life, the spirit of survival.By extending your hand to help feed children, you can share smiles, and this instinct to live.....By contributing whatever lil' you can, you can help a great cause. Nothing is too lil' or too small to share. Every bit counts-do your bit today. Share a smile.....Fellow blogger V.K. Narayanan (VKN), from My Dhaba has taken up a wonderful initiative, called Feed A Hungry Child (FAHC).feedahungrychild.org is a not-for-profit charitable organization formed in a collaborative effort of the like-minded people from all around the world. It aims to replace the empty plates of the underprivileged children and replace them with ones of food. While FAHC addresses the holistic needs of each children it supports, it believes illiteracy, malnutrition, and other concerns can only be addressed when hunger is appeased.Immediate Mission:Join the fight against global poverty.Help feed hungry children one by one.Larger Vision: feeahungrychild.org aims to improve the lives of a good many underprivileged children in their efforts to support themselves, their families, and their communities by giving them the chance for better food, better education, better healthcare, and other welfare.Lets join him in his effort and extend whatever help we can. VKN and Indira (Mahanandi) have together invited everyone to come, join and share.Along with Indira, Sh. Suvir Saran (well-known chef), Anjali Damerla (Supreme Spice), Bee and Jai (Jugalbandi), Manisha (Indian Food Rocks), Shilpa (Aayi's Recipes), Padmaja (Spicy Andhra), Mythili (Vindu), Siri (Siri's Corner) and Richa (As Dear As Salt), have come up with some great raffle prizes for the participants too! The prizes include Ammini Ramachandran's great book (Indira), Suvir ji's lovely books (Suvir ji), a beautifully packaged set of spice extracts (Anjali), a fantastic book on digital photography (Bee and Jai), beautiful ready-to-wear saris for lil' girls (Manisha), a fair-trade gift hamper from the UK (Padmaja), a beautiful painting, which is Shilpa's own breathtaking creation, a gorgeous, customized platter, hand-painted by Mythili Rachel Ray's "30 minute meals" by Siri, and lovely gourmet dark chocolatefrom Richa! The list is growing fast. Find out on how to enroll for the raffle at Mahanandi/Jugalbandi.Fellow bloggers, if your read this, please support the FAHC cause on your blog. Readers, friends, lurkers, please share whatever you can through the Chip-in button in the side-bar, or contribute in other possible ways. Sharing always feels good :).[...]



A chutney, strange lemons and a meme :)

2007-10-15T08:43:38.548-07:00

A cpl. of days back, dear Mansi lovingly said, "Your next post better have some peach in it" :). So, here i am, with some peaches. I have a question for you, dear reader-how many people do you know who purposely pick sour/tangy/un-ripe peaches :-D. If you are reading this, you sure know atleast one: moi! I love peaches, actually i LOVE peaches. When i have peaches in my kitchen, i just have them as such-i don't even wait to cut them ;). I prefer yellow peaches and ectarines to white ones, because of their sweet n' tangy taste. To be honest, i don't have enough self-control to cook with fruits. The best dessert for me is to peel/cut a fruit and enjoy it. At the most i pair it up with some home-made frozen yoghurt/ice-cream. Mansi, then, had me real worried. I had to make something out of a fruit. That demanded a lot of self-control. Hence, i decided in favor of semi-ripe peaches/nectarines, hoping that i won't finish this dish even before i began making it, by gobbling up the fruit :-D.The next worry was, what to make with tangy nectarines.....i looked up Google, and saw the words "Peach" and "Chutney". I felt grateful, immediately headed for the kitchen, prepared my version of the chutney (which included finishing up half of the fruit as i was dicing it!), got back, read the recipe from Google, decided to add a lovely ingredient (roasted walnuts) from it to jazz up my version a bit. The end result was great, a khatti-meethi (sweet and sour) chutney!Here's the original recipe (It uses tomatoes, raisins, Vanilla syrup, and a lot of ground walnut-more sweet relish like chutney. Kids would really enjoy it). And the following is my version:Nectarine chutney:We need:2 yellow nectarines, diced (i started with three, but ate one!)1/4 onion (chopped)1 tbsp. grated ginger1-2 green chillies (chopped)1/2 tsp. each cumin and coriander powderSalt to taste1 tsp. lime juice (optional, to be used if you use really sweet peaches)2 tbsp. coarsely ground walnuts1 tsp. oilIn a pan, heat the oil and saute' onions and ginger. Add the cumin and coriander powders and the chopped green chillies. Stir and add 1/2 cup water. Now add the diced peaches and salt. Stir, cover and cook the peaches on low till they are tender.Cool down the peaches (at this stage, it makes a nice side-dish too). Grind into a smooth paste. Add coarsely ground walnuts to the chutney, mix and enjoy :).When i had a spoonful, the taste reminded of the traditional sweet aloobukhara/plum chutney.....which gets a lot of its flavor from the ground walnuts too. So plz. don't miss out on this ingedient. I thank the chef Mr. Frankenthaler for this ingredient. I finished this in one sitting :-D.This goes to Mansi for AFAM:Peach/Nectarine. AFAM is a great, fruity get-together envisaged by Maheshwari from Beyond the Usual.Now over to some interesting stuff from the supermarket:I was at the Whole Foods Market in Westwood to pick up some vegetables when i sighted the following.....Needless to say, it was spellbinding.....i looked around, with my cell phone ready to take a picture, trying to find someone to get permission for the same. One of the staff saw me, gave me a broad smile and said,"it is worth a picture, really" :). Now, i won't keep you guessing about it.....look right below to find the answer!Buddha's hands.....thats the name for this grogeous beauty.....its actually a citron and apparently originated in northeastern India. I had never seen this one before, so it was quite a pleasant surprise.....I also saw these cute looking fruits, the tamarillos. They really look like eggplants....(i actually did buy some golden eggplants y'day, will post pictures next time i write about eggplants). I think i'll buy them once to see how they taste. From what i read, seems like they would be gre[...]



Thoughtful paneer :)

2007-10-12T19:17:49.752-07:00

Isn't that a thoughtful and lovely name for a dish :). How else could i have named a dish, that was born out of deep thinking ;). This month, dear Sunita wants us to think about saffron/kesar/zafraan/kong/keshar/kumkuma, a really pretty, fragrant and alluring spice. So, i had no choice, but to put on my thinking cap and dish out something that would celebrate this spice :). Saffron usually graces a lot of Indian sweets and rice dishes such as pulaavs and biryanis. Now, i usually make sweets only when i have friends visiting and i had already prepared some plain rice for dinner. So, i was more and more inclined to prepare a savory side dish featuring saffron, to go with my rice :). A look into my fridge had some paneer waving at me.....and we all know how well saffron goes with dairy :). Hence the thoughtful paneer :).This thoughtful dish brings together paneer, sour curds and a blend of spices, with saffron playing all the three major spicy roles: as an aromatic spice, a pretty garnish and a gorgeous coloring agent :). This dish also brings together the different flavors: saffron and shah-jeera for the warm, fragrant and bitter-sweet note, sour curds for the tangy taste, black pepper for the hot factor and a combination of cinnamon and star anise for mellow sweetness. The spices used along with saffron here complement its flavor, rather than overpowering it. I didn't have Indian saffron with me (which i consider to be the best), so i used whats available locally (which is quite good too). The end result was a really flavorful, fragrant and delectable side-dish :).So here is how i thought out this dish:Thoughtful paneer:We need:25-30 bite size paneer cubes ( i am not sure about the weight of the paneer block i had, hence this measure)1 cup sour curds2 tbsp. milkA pinch of asfoetida/hing1/4 tsp. black cumin/shah-jeera1 star-anise/badiyun-khatai1 small cinnamon stick/dalchini1/2 tsp. black pepper/kali mirch powderSalt to tasteA few strands of saffron1 tbsp. oilIn a deep, flat pan, heat the oil and pan-fry/toast the paneer cubes to light brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside. Next, splutter hing and shah-jeera in the hot oil, followed by star-anise and cinnamon. Roast the spices till a mild aroma is released. It takes about a minute-take care not to burn the spices. Now add one cup water to the pan and bring it to boil. Add the toasted paneer cubes and cook for 5 minutes on high. Meanwhile, mix the black pepper powder and salt with curds and whisk it well. Reduce the flame and slowly add this mixture to the paneer while stirring (to avoid curdling). Simmer on low heat for another 10 mins. The gravy should thicken at this point. Switch of the flame. Dissolve 4-5 strands of saffron in 2tbsp. warm milk and mix well with the paneer. Top the dish with few more strands of saffron and cover and let rest for few minutes before serving. Goes very well with plain rice and a spicy side dish/pickles of your choice :). Tastes even better the next day.Do not use too much saffron. Its a garam taseer (heat producing) spice. A few strands are more than enough to get the desired color and aroma. Kala jeera should also be used in suggested amounts, excess leads the dish to taste slightly bitter. I like that taste actually, and hence the excess in the picture :). But if you like it mellow, then stick to 1/4 tsp. kala-jeera.Good show Richa and Pel, this indeed drew influence from Kashmiri cuisine :)Here a few saffron flavored favorites from blogosphere: do check them out.Zafraani zamodod and kheer (Anita)Kesaria (Richa)Kesari bhath (Ashakka)Zafraani Pulav (Manasi)Enjoy :).[...]



Plantain-Palak sabzi :)

2007-10-01T23:52:33.769-07:00

Huff-puff! I am finally here :-D. I had promised dear Mandira that i would be posting my entry for JFI-Banana over the weekend.....which just flew by ;). So, here i am, i my usual late-lateef avatar, posting a last minute entry for JFI, one of my favorite events. JFI celebrates one special ingredient each month and was envisaged by dear Indira from Mahanandi.I love bananas as a fruit, they are just yummy! They help energize a tired mind, as they boost the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. My favorite way of having bananas is as a chaat, with cut bananas, guavas, with some cayenne pepper, salt and lime juice thrown in to jazz it up :). Or as spicy banana raita. Or as such! I particularly love the lil' Yellaki bananas that we used to get in Bangalore. And as a vegetable, the plantain and raw bananas make my day as a part of Kalan, Undhiyu, Mocha ghanto and many more dishes :). Even the banana stem is edible and delicious. Read more here about bananas and plantains :).My first experience of eating banana as a vegetable was really unique (kinda'). I was in fifth standard then, a lil' girl who would only think of school, playing and her cats, besides ofcourse food :-D. One of those days, the normal daily routine in our village came to halt, there was a curfew in the village.....for fifteen days, with just half an hour allowance time a day to buy essentials! No fresh vegetables and fruits would be in sight. Fortunately, we had a Kalpvriksha (as its been rightly referred to in ancient texts) planted in our haveli.....the banana tree came to our rescue, supplying us with the much needed freshness.....For those few days, we cooked and ate raw banana, enjoyed the ripe fruit and felt fortunate and blessed.....I am pretty sure that the particular banana preparation that Mom made was more or less like arbi sabzi with gravy, somewhat like this. And indeed raw bananas and plantains work well like that, with or without eggplants. They also make yummy khatte kele ki sabzi, like here. Or a quick and delicious sabzi with Punjabi wadis. But all said and done, had it not been for the necessity driven consumption of raw bananas as a sabzi, i would not have discovered this goodness in life that early, certainly not in a Punju culinary way!For JFI though, i wanted to make something different.....so i combined greens with raw plantain and gently spiced them. The result was delicious!So here goes:Plantain-palak sabzi:We need:2 green plantains (cut into discs/circles)1 (9 oz.) bag baby spinach (chopped)1 heaped tsp. grated ginger1/4 tsp. Shah-jeera (black cumin)A pinch of strong hing/asfoetidaA pinch of turmeric (optional)Red chilli powder (to taste)Salt to taste1 tsp. lime/lemon juice1-2 green chilliesA pinch of garam masala2 tbsp. oilFirst, lets peel the plaintains and cut them into 1/2 cm. thick circles. In a pan, heat oil and splutter the shah-jeera. Add hing and let it release the aroma. Add the grated ginger and saute' for a minute or so. Add the plantain slices and stir fry till they change color into slightly pale/brown. This would help avoid the raw and slimy feel. Add the chopped spinach, salt and chilli powder. Stir and cover to cook on low heat till the plantain slices are tender. Add lime juice, 1-2 broken green chillies and a pinch of garam masala. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot with chapatis or rice. Enjoy :).Sending this with lots of love to dear Mandira. My apologies to you, sweetie, for the delay. Hope you'll enjoy it :).[...]



Kara baath and Mangalore bajjis :)

2007-09-25T22:34:04.240-07:00

Every week, on a certain day, the hostel mess used to serve something sumptuous for breakfast: the Kara baath (or upittu), and i would always ensure that i had breakfast in the mess on that day. On the days that the mess didn't serve kara-baath, i would get my fill from the coffee-board. It used to be particularly exciting when the mess would serve kara baath or shavige or chow-chow (in the mess it meant a mix of shavige and rave upppitu; not to be confused with THE chow-chow baath, which is an equally delish platter of kesari and kara baath served together, or chow-chow, the chayote squash) for evening tiffin! Those would be the days, when i could have kara baath for both breakfast and thindi (tiffin)! I still feast on kara baath every single weekend :-D.There are bajjis, and then there are Mangalore bajjis! Piping hot, best enjoyed with hot coffee, this yummy snack can totally uplift your mood :-D. What with all the green chillies and ginger! Mangalore bajji is the name Bangaloreans use to refer the much beloved Goli Baje :). When it comes to fried food, they are definitely a must have!Together, Kara baath and Mangalore bajjis represents two different wheat preparations: one with rava, the coarse one, and the other one with maida, the really fine wheat flour. There's something about Bangalore style Kara baath! Those who have ever enjoyed it in small, but great corner eateries like my ever favorite Veena Stores would easily vouch for that! Kara baath, whether with or without that dash of turmeric, comes with certain must adds! Like chillies (dried or green; how else is it gonna' be kara), an occassional ginger, and often with the heavenly aroma of curry leaves or sometimes even coriander leaves, besides vegetables like carrots, beans, tomatoes and bell pepper etc. The things make it different from the usual upma. There's a pleasant tangy taste to it, courtesy tomatoes and lemon juice. All this makes this wonderful snack what it is! And if you use roasted rave (or Bansi rave, like its popularly known as), it just is pure bliss! Goli baje too is made out of wheat (maida), with a lil' besan and sometimes, a lil' rice flour too, with ginger and green chillies and ofcourse, buttermilk. So here goes:Kara baath: Kara baath with turmericWe need:1 cup rava/sooji1 small onion (chopped)1 cup mixed vegetables (chopped: i used bell peppers, beans, carrots and tomatoes)8-9 curry leaves1 tsp. mustard seeds1/2 tsp. each urad and chana daalsA pinch of turmeric (optional)Salt to taste1-2 green chillies (chopped)1 tsp. lime/lemon juice1 tsp. oilIn a pan, roast the rava to very light brown (to a point when it starts emitting a warm aroma) and set aside. If using Bansi roasted rave, omit this step. Heat oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds and add the daals. Toast them till light brown and add the onions. Saute' the onions and add the chopped vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes. Add turmeric (if using) and salt, and stir. Add 3 cups water and bring to boil. Now slowly start adding the rava, while stirring (to avoid lumps). Add some lime juice, chopped green chillies and may be some chopped cilantro. Enjoy hot with your favorite chutney.Sometimes, when i am in a hurry, i mix the roasted rava with vegetables and then add boiling water slowly (its quicker because you keep some water for boiling on another burner as you cook the vegetables). The end result is the same in both cases. Occassionally i add some chopped ginger to the seasoning. It gives a distinct flavor.Goli baje/Mangalore bajji:We need:1 cup maida1 tbsp. besan1/2 sour curds1" piece ginger (grated)2 green chillies (chopped)4-5 curry leaves (chopped)Salt to taste1/4 tsp. sugar1/4 tsp. baking sodaOil [...]



Hot and spicy stuff!

2007-09-22T15:07:10.279-07:00

Despite it officially being the fall season now, i have shamelessly decided that i'll be posting some summertime vegetable recipes in the coming few days! But before i do that, i want to placate the audience by sharing something season appropriate ;). As if i haven't bragged enough about it to everyone around me, i'll say it again: It rained here last night, after a long time! And i enjoyed it quite a bit :). So i thought, may be i should share some hot and spicy stuff! Stuff that goes well with the mood of the season: like hot pakodas and bajjis and some spicy pasta!How could i not be frying some pakodas! Few days back, my dear friend Ms. Wisdom, who's currently visiting home in Hyderabad, chirped that it was raining there. Before i could say it, she had already typed it clear "and that makes it perfect weather for chai and pakodas, why don't you post some" :-D. Such a loving suggestion, no reason not to fry some! Thus the pakodas! But where does this pasta thing come from? Answer lies in another evening, when moi was looking for some hot comfort food, preferrably spicy :-D. So here they are: the pakodas n' bajjis platter and the hot n' spicy pasta!Pakodas and bajjis:Hmm, even though in Punjabi the term "pakoda" refers to both these goodies, they are actually different! While pakodas imply fried stuff made from besan mixed with chopped veggies, bajjis indicate vegetable pieces dipped in besan batter and fried. Pakodas are crispier, crunchier and bajjis on the softer side. But to a Punju, they are all pakodas, they get specified by prefixes like khasta te karare (crispy/crumbly and spicy hot) vs. naram/polle (soft). Whatever the name may be, this dish is a favorite all over India, in its myriad varities. I am sharing one the multiple kinds of pakodas we enjoy !Clockwise: Palak, mirchi and gobhi pakodas and bajjisThere is this signature Punju style batter which is spiced with anardana (pomegranate seeds), ajwain (carum), dhania (coriander), jeera (cumin) and yes, hing, a must for palak pakodas! The bajjis don't use hing, nor do onion pakodas. Onion pakodas are made out of either sliced onions alone, or along with chopped potatoes. There exist onion bajjis too! A cpl. of really famous shops in Hall Bazaar, Amritsar, make whole onion bajjis out of small red onions. Potato and eggplant bajjis are made from sliced potatoes and eggplants. Sometimes poeple make bajjis from whole baby potatoes too. Then there are methi pakodas and the paneer pakodas (err, techincally bajjis!). Paneer pakodas deserve a separate post, because there are many ways to make them! So i'll post them along with onion pakodas sometime soon. Often these pakoda shops in Punjab sell an aloo-bonda kind of stuff too, with a potato filling dressed up with red chillies, ginger and garlic. Punjabis traditionally use mustard oil, but that tradition is fast fading! I stick to it though! It gives a certain flavor to the pakodas. Today's platter here has two kinds of bajjis: Gobhi and Anaheim pepper and the palak/spinach pakodas. So here goes:For basic batter, we need:1 cup besan (gram flour)Salt to tasteRed chilli powder (to taste)1/2 tsp each ajwain (carum), jeera (cumin) and dhania (coriander) seeds,1 tsp. anardana (pomegranate seeds)a pinch of baking soda (optional)a pinch of strong hing (must for palak pakodas)Oil for deep fryingHeat mustard oil in a kadahi/deep pan to smoking point. Cool it down for 2-3 minutes and keep it for heating again (medium heat). This would be the right temperature for deep frying. As the oil heats, prepare the batter.Add the salt, chilli powder to the besan and sift the besan through a sieve or remove all the lumps with hand. Add[...]



Beans, greens and the magic of mustard :).

2007-09-19T20:03:15.030-07:00

Yes! that sounds quite poetic, isn't it :). Time to share something yummy made out of beans, greens and mustard. Ahem! Sorry, if that is a lil' misleading, but the beans here refer to the dried beans :-D. And which dried beans at that? The ones that poets have described as "beans wearing kohl", the ever pretty, easy to cook and experiment with: white lobia :-D. I must repeat that by itself lobia to me would taste a bit bland, though it has a unique subtle taste.....it needs something else.....some spicing up, to bring out the real taste. Addition of bell peppers or ginger and garlic do wonders to these humble beans. It even works wonders in khichdi. And now, i pair them up with greens, the lovely beet greens, which add another dimension to this dish. The final touch is the magic of mustard.....I am ever thankful for the e-potlucks and their lovely themes. But for them, i would usually not be as adventurous :). Sunita hosts one such cute get together, where we are supposed to think, about spices :). I enjoy that kind of thinking, the spicy thinking ;). This month, she wants us to think about mustard. As for an idea on mustard, i kept wondering.....and then finally decided to go to the good old mustard and garlic seasoning that i used for saru besara, with some modifications. So here's to the power of spices :).Lobia-saag with mustard:Today, lets bring together the pretty and subtle lobia and the gorgeous, delectable beet greens and spice them up with mustard, garlic and ginger. This topped with green chillies makes a yummy meal :).Pretty looking beet greens :)We need:1 cup lobia 2 cups greens (chopped, i used beet greens)2 heaped tsp. mustard seeds (gorund coarse)2-3 cloves garlic and a 2" piece of ginger (both chopped or crushed)1 big ripe tomato (chopped)1-2 green chillies (slit)1/4 tsp. turmericSalt to taste1/2 tsp. amchoor or 1 tsp. lime/lemon juice1 tsp. oilPressure cook the lobia and beet greens for 4-5 whistles with 1 and 1/2 cup water (soaking is not necessary). Grind the mustard seeds into a coarse powder and prepare the chopped ginger and garlic. In a pan, heat oil and add 1 tsp. equivalent of ground mustard powder. Once the ground mustard leaves an aroma, add the ginger and garlic and saute'. Add the tomatoes and turmeric, and cook for 5 minutes. This should result in a thick paste. Mix the remaining mustard powder with this masala and add to the cooked lobia with greens. Add salt and amchoor/lime juice and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes (till the gravy thickens). Top it with slit green chillies, cover and let rest for 5 more minutes before serving.Enjoy with chapatis, paranthas or rice :). Equally yummy with a nice dinner roll or Ciabatta bread :).The greens add body and their unique flavor to the beans. While whole mustard seeds in a tempering primarily provide aroma and warmth, the ground mustard used here gives a spicy and pungent flavor to any dish. This magic of mustard, paired with ginger and garlic, uplifts the mellow beans and greens combo to a totally different level :).[...]



Majjige huli and beans palya: a simple, homestyle meal :).

2007-09-19T20:21:58.204-07:00

It happens to me a lot! You know how, sometimes we meet other people of Indian origin and the question comes up, "Which city are you from?" :). I usually answer after a lil' pause, for i can not single out just one city! I feel i belong equally to Amritsar, New Delhi and Bangalore (and all the other cities here i have lived in) :-D. But many a time, i just end up saying "Bangalore", because thats the city where i had my first taste of independent (well, almost) living :-D. I simply love the city!When Ashakka announced RCI-Karnataka, i was really thrilled! For, here was my chance to write about some of my ever favorite comfort foods :). That brought back fond memories of my time in Bangalore.....Back in New Delhi, i had a few Kannadiga friends in the college and like it usually happens, we sampled each others lunch boxes quite often ;). I got even closer to the delicious Karnataka cuisine when i moved to Bangalore for my graduate school. It was here that i learnt about the myriad sub-regional varieties of Karnataka cuisine. The A-mess in IISc provided decent food most of the times and included a lot of preparations from our theme cuisine. I learnt more from my friends and colleagues, about the preparations, the Kannada names for spices and vegetables etc etc. :). Most of my "recipe learning" was from tasting good food and asking "so how do we make this" :-D. This usually left me with a decent idea, though not the exact proportions. I stored all this information in my mind and once i moved to the US and began cooking myself, i tried out many of these recipe ideas.....surprisingly, they turned out decent enough :-D. A senior colleague in my lab in Bangalore, Mrs. R, would often treat us, the graduate students, with yummy home cooked meals. Courtesy her, we sampled great food, and i had many of my "how to" queries answered. Her face would have this really nice glow as she watched us eat.....and ofcourse the lil' tid-bits from many friends.....So in a way, this lovely cuisine is my own.....the yummy goodness that nurtured me through those years :). Ooh, the thoughts of good food.....the fiesta is on!For RCI, i decided that first and foremost, i should share one of my most favorite comfort meals with you.....its my everyday kind of food.....a combination of majjige huli, beans palya and rice.....So, here is to yummy food :-D.Majjige huli:Majjige huli takes its name from majjige (buttermilk) and is one of the best ways to enjoy the flavor of a single vegetable! With the warm aroma and smooth texture from coconut and the tangy taste from buttermilk, this one is surely a comfort food! Traditionally, the vegetables chosen are: Ash-gourd (kumbalakayi), chayote squash (seemebadnekayi), bottle gourd (sorekayi), bell-pepper (dodda-mensinakayi; the big pepper) and long eggplants (badnekayi).....but hey, nothing should stop you from trying this out with other vegetables. I especially recommend the squashes and gourds! This is surely one the best ways to enjoy them! For RCI, i have prepared majjige huli with dodda-mensinakayi and another one with the pretty looking patty pan squashes.So pick your vegetable of choice and lets start :-D.We need:1 big bell-pepper or 4-5 pieces patty pan squash (chopped into bite-size pieces)3/4 cup grated coconut (fresh/frozen)1 tbsp. soaked bengal gram/chana daal1/2 tsp. cumin seeds1-2 small green chilliesTurmeric (just a pinch)1 cup sour buttermilk (or sour curds, diluted to 1 cup)Salt to tasteA pinch or two of sugar (~ 1/4 tsp., almost mandatory)For seasoning: 1 tsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds, a lil' asfoetida, 5-6 curry leaves and 1-2 dried r[...]



Enjoying eggplants and mushrooms :)

2007-09-08T00:49:15.826-07:00

Eggplants are really good, so are mushrooms. What's even better is the two of them together! Few days back (actually many days ago, when we were enjoying poori-bhaaji. Yes! that long back!), i had mentioned about an eggplant-mushroom recipe :). And then i just waited and waited to post it.....and came up with another eggplant-mushroom recipe, and still kept on waiting.....and finally, i am posting these :). and did i tell you that like many of the recipes here, these recipes originated while i was enjoying my bus ride ;).Today, we'll enjoy the eggplant mushroom combo two ways: a yogurt based gravy dish and a coconut based dry sabzi! So yes, eggplants rule, as do mushrooms and together they are just divine!Eggplant-mushrooms in yogurt gravy:We need:4-5 small eggplants or 2 Chinese or Japanese eggplants (cut into 2" pieces)1 cup baby bella or crimini mushrooms (diced, i used dried crimini mushrooms, soaked. Fresh mushrooms work equally well).1/2 tsp. each jeera/cumin and dhania/coriander1 big, ripe tomato (chopped)1 heaped tsp. chopped gingerTurmeric and red chilli powder (to taste)Salt to taste1/2 cup beaten curds (preferably sour)1 and 1/2 tbsp. oilA pinch of garam masalaCilantro (for garnishing)In a pan, heat oil and splutter the cumin and coriander seeds. Add half of the chopped ginger and saute'. Now add the eggplant pieces and stir fry. This should take about 6-7 minutes. Add the diced mushrooms and stir fry another 5 minutes. Add rest of the chopped ginger and tomatoes, salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Stir , cover and cook on low flame with 1/4 cup water to allow the vegetables to abosrb the flavors of the spices. Now add the curds slowly and mix. Cook another 5 minutes for the gravy to thicken. Add a pinch of garam masala. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!The brown color of this dish is from dried mushrooms and tomatoes. I enjoyed this dish with pooris and also with rice.Eggplant-mushrooms stir fry:We need:4-5 small eggplants orr 2 Chinese or Japanese eggplants (cut into 2" pieces)1 cup baby bella or crimini mushrooms (diced)2 bunches (8-10 pieces) spring onions (chopped)1/2 cup grated coconut1 tbsp. Sriracha chilli sauce (or any hot sauce, my favorite substitute is green chilli chutney)Turmeric (a pinch)Salt to taste1 tsp. lime/lemon juice1 and 1/2 tbsp. oilIn a pan, heat 1/2 tbsp. oil and saute' the spring onions, followed by grated coconut. Now add the eggplant slices and stir fry till crisp. Add the mushrooms and stir fry another 8-10 minutes. Add the turmeric, salt, chilli sauce and lime/lemon juice. Cook for another 5 minutes. Enjoy the heavenly aroma of coconuts and chillies. Serve hot with chapatis, paranthas or as a side dish with rice. My favorite way of enjoying this: as a sandwich stuffing!I decided to make this dish, because i still had some eggplants and mushrooms in my fridge and wanted to enjoy these vegetables in a different way. I am glad i thought of this! The taste and aroma of this dish was amazing, so was the texture: soft mushrooms and eggplant pieces and crunchy grated coconut and spring onions! Oh and if you don't enjoy eggplants as much, chances are that you will, after this :)). And yes, it works well with just mushrooms or eggplants too :).Don't go by the pictures, this one is really yummy![...]



Lobia-black beans khichdi :)

2007-09-02T10:57:19.084-07:00

Hi, everyone! Today i'll share another simple yet delicious khichdi with you. Khichdi is the ultimate comfort food to me, and thats what i crave for now.....This one is a twist on the most regular khichdi in my kitchen, which is moong and masoor daals cooked with white rice, usually Basmati, along with vegetables like matar/peas and a whole bunch of frozen vegetables, along with cumin, black pepper, cloves, ginger, turmeric and yes, ghee! Instead of using moong-masoor daal mix and white rice, i have used a mix of white lobia and black beans along with brown rice. The result is really yummy! So, here is how i make it:

We need:

  • 1/2 cup soaked beans (i used black beans and lobia)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh/frozen vegetables (your choice, i used cauliflower, broccoli and carrots)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. of black peppers (whole) and cloves each
  • 1 tsp. ginger (julienned)
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. ghee

Wash rice and mix with soaked beans in a pressure cooker. Add the vegetables and 2 cups water, followed by the spices and salt. Mix and add the ghee. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles. Let the pressure cooker cool off. Enjoy the khichdi with dahi/curds and pickles of your choice.

(image)
You might like to try this preparation with moong-masoor daal mix as well. Its even simpler to prepare, the cooking time is only two pressure cooker whistles.

(image)
This khichri is my contribution for JFI-Rice, hosted by dear Sharmi at Neivedyam. JFI is an event that celebrates one special ingredient each month and is the proud brainchild of dear Indira from Mahanandi.



Saru besara, dahi baigana and mixed vegetables: Culinary trip to Orissa and the warm aroma of cumin :)

2007-08-25T11:31:31.803-07:00

The title tells you all, doesn't it ;). Has it ever happened to you that you plan days in advance before a certain event that you really want to enjoy, and then suddenly you get all busy and have almost no time to prepare the much planned khana, let alone blog about it :-D. Why o why, does it happen just before the events :-D. What do you do then? Ah! you day dream, cook those delicacies in your dreams, think of them during the bus rise, during lunch time, write imaginary posts in your mind ;). You also try to sneak some time out, get disappointed, etc etc. when that doesn't happen. and you look for simple, quick and yet delicious recipes to come to your rescue! This certainly was my story this week :)). I had been thinking and imagining about RCI:Orissa since the day it was announced.....and now its the 25th, and i am yet to post anything :). Same for my love for Cumin :). But i decided that i won't give up ;). So last night, i went all out: it took a lil' effort, but it was totally worth it :).So here are the lovely, easy breezy dishes for RCI:Orissa (being hosted this month by dear friend Swapna of Swad. RCI is an event celebrating the myriad lovely regional cuisines of India, conceptualized by the creative Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine), and for Think Spice:Think Cumin, the spicy event at Sunita's World, a brain child of Dar(l)ing Bakerina Sunita :).As i looked for dishes for RCI, i wanted something that was quick and easy and yet something that would convey the flavors of Oriya Cuisine. So i zeroed on to Saru besara, a yummy taro and mustard based dish and Dahi Baigana, a culinary meeting of eggplant and curds: the result was fantastic! I loved the Dahi Baigana even more, because it boasted of cumin and hence i could take it to two e-potlucks :). Talking of cumin, how about a really easy mixed vegetable preparation, that primarily derives it flavor from cumin? So friends, here goes: my recent tryst with Oriya cooking and enjoying cumin:Saru besara:It is a simple dish made out of taro/arbi (saru in Oriya) in a mustard base (the besara). I adapted the recipe from Oriya Kitchen. Here's my version of Saru besara:We need:6-7 taro roots, peeled and cut into 1" long piecesMustard paste (2 heaped tsp. mustard+ 2 cloves of garlic: ground into a coarse paste)2 tomatoes (cubed)Chopped green chillies (to taste)1/4 tsp. Panch phutana (cumin, mustard, fennel, nigella, fenugreek seeds spice mix)1/4 tsp. TurmericSalt to tasteOil (1/2 tbsp. for cooking, 1 tsp for tempering)Peel the taro roots and cut them into 1" long pieces. Microwave these for 4-5 minutes and set aside. In a pan, heat 1/2 tbsp. oil and add the mustard-garlic paste. Saute' for 1-2 minutes and add the taro pieces. Stir fry for about 5-7 minutes till the pieces are slightly toasted/golden brown. Now add the tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Add 1 cup of water and stir. Bring to boil and cook on low heat till the gravy thickens. In a small pan, heat oil and splutter the paanch phutana. Add the cut gbreen chillies and saute' for 1/2 a minute. Add this to the besara and cook another 1-2 minutes. Serve hot with chapati or rice :).Dahi Baigana:This is one of the favorite combinations in Indian cuisine, this pairing of eggplants and curds :). Sample e.g. Dahiwala baingan bharta, Baingan Boorani, Buzwangun, Kathrikai pachadi etc. This is the delicious Oriya version of this national favorite. I adapted the recipe from Oriya Nari.We need:2 Japanese or Graffiti or Chinese eggplants or 4 small eggplants(cut into 2" long pieces)1 and 1/2 cup curds (b[...]



The mad, mad tea party with poori-bhaji ;)

2007-08-19T02:22:18.065-07:00

Hello everyone :). Am back again! Its been a couple of weeks since i posted anything :)). Ah! there are those days when you just feel tired.....That's when friends come into picture :). With their liveliness, they nudge you out of this tiredness, this slumber-sometimes with an invitation to A MAD TEA PARTY :)). Really, it was an invitation that i could not say no to! There she was, with enticing pictures, wielding the baton, err.....the belan, nudging everyone to get up and enjoy some poori-bhaji :). Ooh, in the last week, i have fried my pooris in two different styles and enjoyed them with three(no less!) delicious bhajis :). A clear case of going overboard? Nah! I made two different doughs-which gave me 8 or so pooris, two of which were snack time savory treats ;). Oh, and before i forget, poori bhaji (or poodi sabzi in my Majha Punjabi accent) to me is a symbol of travel time food-how can i forget the countless pooris i gobbled on Railway Stations and Bus stops on numerous occassions, or the home made poori-aloo and karelas packed for the trip :). So, here is my journey with the pooris and bhaji. Here's to the spirit of the really mad tea party, with countless varieties of poori and sabzis/sagus i have been enjoying this past week!1. Poori with besan and ajwain with station style aloo bhaji These pooris have whole wheat flour (3/4 cup), 2 tbsp. besan, 1/2 tsp. ajwain, a lil' bit of salt (to taste) and 1/4 tsp. sugar kneaded into a stiff dough, rolled into small discs and deep fried! Bliss :). The bhaji recipe is even simpler, almost like Anita's classic Railway Station bhaji. For this, we just microwave two potatoes for about 7 minutes, this is equivalent to boiling. Next, we splutter jeera/cumin (1 tsp.) in 1 tsp. oil, add a cpl. of pinches of strong hing/asfoetida and turmeric-then add the peeled, mashed potatoes, followed by 1 glass of water. Add salt to taste, dhania/coriander powder, bring to boil, add chopped green chillies (as much as you want) and a lil' chopped cilantro. I love the aroma of hing here, so i don't use too much cilantro. Hing is really the key spice here-for the authentic Railway Station style bhaji.2. Same pooris (with red chilli powder added to the dough this time) with some khatte kadduDisclaimer: no poori pictures here, i was too hungry to take pictures ;). Really, i LOVE khatte kaddu: so here's the recipe.We need: Halwa kaddu/pumpkin cut into big chunks (2 cups-i used banana squash for this recipe)-the chunks are put in a microwave bowl and microwaved for 10 minutes after adding 1/4 cup of water. Meanwhile, we heat oil (1 tsp.) in a wok, splutter jeera and kalonji/nigella (1/2 tsp. each), add a pinch of hing, stir in 1 tbsp. chopped ginger and saute', then add turmeric and stir. Add 1 cup of water and bring to boil-now we add the microwaved pumpkin and mix-this should be mushy now :). Add salt, red chilli powder (optional) and bring to boil. Stir in the juice of one lemon and add some chopped green chillies.Enjoy the khatte kaddu with poori, chapati or paranthas :). Oh, and this is almost traditional style khatte kaddu, UP style :). Almost, because nigella is not common in this dish, and the real deal is chunkier. I like mine mushy :)).3. Achaari Pooris with baingan-mushroom sabziThe pooris here had masala from a mango pickle-you can pick any pickle and it would be equally yummy. So we roll a poori, spread the masala, bundle it up and roll again. The baingan mushroom sabzi was not made to go with pooris, but when i got back h[...]



Z for zucchini-paneer sabzi :)

2007-08-04T22:50:03.106-07:00

Hello everyone! As usual, i am making an eleventh hour appearnace for the A-Z event :). Z to me signifies a lot more than just the culmination of this wonderful potluck that has been going on at Nupur's place as a weekly tradition.....it signifies hopes and expectations of many more "Zaaykedaar (flavorful)" get togethers in the days to come :). So here's to one of my favorite events :).Today, i just pair up the crunchy zucchinis with soft paneer to make one of my favorite dishes. Its simple and its quick! The dish takes inspiration from the traditional pairing of bottle gourd (Al) and paneer (Chaman) in Kashmiri cuisine (paging Anita!). But the preparation style, in this case, is very different.So here it is:Zucchini-paneer sabzi:We need:4 zucchinis (chopped into semi-lunar shape)1 cup fresh paneer1/4 tsp. jeera (cumin)2 bunches spring onion (chopped)1 small Roma tomato (optional, i added it for color)1/2 tsp. amchoor/ squeeze of 1/2 lemon (if you like it tangy)Turmeric and red chilli powder (to taste)Salt to taste1 tbsp. oilChop the zucchinis in semi-lunar shape (for variation, try 2" long pieces) and set aside. In a pan, heat oil and splutter the cumin. Fry the chopped spring onions and add the paneer and stir till the paneer is toasted a bit (if you are using fried/grilled paneer cubes, then proceed to the next step). Add the zucchinis and stir fry them on high heat till a lil' crisp. Now stir in the tomatoes, add the turmeric, red chilli powder, amchoor and salt.Stir, reduce the flame and cover to cook till done when the raw vegetable smell goes). Serve hot with chapatis and dahi, or as a side dish with rice and daal. It tastes quite good as a sandwich stuffing too.Variations: Instead of jeera, use any other seeds like coriander or kalonji/nigella or fresh methi leaves as a flavoring agent.More fun with zucchinis here and here.[...]



Mirchi etc ;)

2007-08-01T08:32:26.089-07:00

Precisely! because when mirchis make an appearance, everything else becomes etc! (sorry Pel, that was really tough to resist) :-D. Its all about mirchis this months, folks :)). As i wondered if i would be able to participate in this month's JFI, i simultaneously made plans of having a quick dinner.....i was home quite late, again! And then, news flash, how about using mirchis as a key ingredient to spice up a quick meal!! I got home and.....what did i do? Jazzed up a simple parantha with gorgeous looking Anaheim chillies and even got the energy to dish up a delicious daal with chillies for my lunch tomorrow :)). I can see the wink-wink, folks, Musical makes paranthas and kadhis with everything :-D.So these two quick recipes go to the very creative Nandita (of Saffron Trail fame) who is hosting this month's JFI:chillies, a lovely blog event created by dear Indira (Mahanandi).On to the food.....Mirchi-pudina-cheese parantha:We need:1 cup whole wheat flourA pinch of salt3 big Anaheim chillies (chopped fine)1 tbsp. dried Pudina leaves (crushed)Water to make a doughFresh mozzarella cheese for fillingGhee for fryingMake a dough with whole wheat, salt, chillies and pudina leaves. Roll the paranthas and fill them out as shown here. Fry on the griddle with lil' bit ghee. Serve hot with plain dahi for a nice filling breakfast, lunch or dinner.As for variations: Try dried Rosemary or Oregano :). Try some of your other favorite cheese variety. And trust me, this parantha wouldn't taste the same without MIRCHI :-D. If you want to make a kulcha with these ingredients, simply make the dough with curds instead and let it rest for 2 hrs. or so. Knead again and proceed to make the kulchas-which are paranthas from raised dough.Masoor daal with mirchi:This is my friend MD's all time favorite daal and is based on her Bengali recipe :).We need:1 cup masoor daal1/2 tsp. panch-phoron1 inch piece of ginger, chopped (my addition)1 small tomato (chopped, optional)6-7 green Thai chillies (slit) or 2 big Anaheim chillies(chopped into 1" pieces)1 tsp. oilA pinch of turmeric (not more)Salt to tastePressure cook the masoor daal for 2-3 whistles. For the tadka, spultter the panch-phoron (mustard seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds). Add the ginger and chillies, saute' and add the tomatoes, followed by the turmeric. Cook 2-3 minutes and add to the daal. Stir the tadka in, add salt and bring the daal to boil.Enjoy with some plain boiled rice :).[...]



Y for Yam with black-beans :)

2007-07-28T23:19:07.118-07:00

Yes, Y is for Yam, a name that's been claimed by both Amorphophallus (Suran) and Dioscorea (Sweet potatoes), depending on the place on the globe :). Since where i live, Dioscorea is easily available and is called Yam, i am using this in my recipe (was that a disclaimer?). Now, i do have my thoughts on what we calls Yams here in the US. These are also referred to as sweet potatoes, but to my palette, they are not nearly as sweet and starchy as the desi shakarkand (sweet potatoes)-and i am thrilled about it, because that makes them a perfect replacement for the Amorphophallus (the stuff we call Yam in India)! Today, i am pairing the yams with black-beans, and folks, let it be known, i am thrilled with the outcome :)).The plus is that if get lazy while making this dish, you'll end up with something good half-way through still (ahem, that was kind of a note to self), he he ;). Feel free to try this with raw plantain, cassava or any starchy vegetables/tubers etc., and yes, that includes potatoes :)). Black beans may be replaced by lobias, fava beans, rajma/kidney beans or chana/garbanzos. And this dish is for the A-Z e-potluck at Nupur's place :).So, here's the how-to:We need:1 cup cubed yams1 cup black beans5-6 mild green chillies-crushed/equivalent amount of bell peppers-chopped (optional, i used them and love them)1 onion (finely sliced)A 2" (atleast) piece of ginger (julienned)1 big, ripe tomato (chopped)1/4 tsp. each shah-jeera (black-cumin) and dhaniya (coriander seeds)Turmeric (very little, as a spice) and red chilli powder (if you are not using green chillies or settle for bell-peppers)Salt to tasteAmchoor/lime juice to taste (if you like it a lil' tangy)1 tsp. oil/melted gheeA pinch of garam masalaKasuri methi or Chopped Cilantro (for garnish and aroma)First, lets peel and cube the yams-this may be a lil' difficult. So, we can put the yams in boiling water for a few minutes or microwave the tubers for 2 minutes. After cubing them, we microwave the cubes for 3-4 minutes. While we are doing this, we also have soaked the black beans in warm water (though its not necessary, just pressure cook them an extra cpl. of whistles if you choose not to soak them). These beans are pressure cooked atleast 5 whistles, if soaked before. And the action begins now! We heat the ghee/oil, splutter the jeera and dhania and saute' the onions. This is followed by adding ginger, and after 2-3 minutes adding the chopped tomatoes-all this while we are stirring this stuff :). We now add the crushed green chillies or chopped bell peppers and cook for 2-3 more minutes and then add turmeric and (if using) the red chilli powder and souring agent like amchoor or lime juice. The next step is to add the microwaved yams, stir them in and cook 5 more minutes.What next? From here, either we choose to cook the black beans and yams together or cook yams for 5 more minutes, add salt to taste, add some cilantro and have it with parantha or chapati or even roll yourself a nice burrito with this sabzi and cooked black beans plus some cheese-or may be a quesadilla :). I did the former (although many a time, i settle for the latter). To do that, we just add the cooked yams to the pressure cooked black beans and simmer on low heat till the gravy thickens. Lets garnish this with cilantro and enjoy! The chunky, cubed, bordering on sweet yams in the luscious dark black beans gravy is just bliss! I had this combo for dinne[...]