Thursday, June 19, 2008

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thai Yellow Curry

Thai style vegetables (onions, carrots, broccoli, red and green bell peppers) in yellow curry sauce made with coconut milk and flavored with lemongrass, sweet basil and ginger.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cold Pasta Salad

-With baby broccoli, onions, red and green bell peppers, yellow squash and carrots and a zesty Italian dressing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My 'Taster" Arnav!

Its been a while since I shared pics of my bachchu here- so here is a recent collage that I put together!

He is performing a "taste test" here for one of my kid-friendly culinary creations and I can usually gauge whether a dish meets his approval by his various expression while tasting it! This one looks like a winner!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Customized" Aloo Chaat with "localized" spices!

I made this quick aloo mutter chaat for a snack with tea last evening. My husband took one bite of the aloo and said "There's too much salt!" Then before I could say or do anything, he ate another piece of aloo and said "No, its ok-I think the salt was localized on that one aloo!" So, I told him that it is a "customized" chaat and no two bites would taste the same becasue each piece of aloo has its own combination of spices!

2 potatoes. boiled and cubed
1 chunk of paneer (roughly that would yield half the number of slices of potato)
1/2 onion, chopped onti chunks
1/2 cup peas, boiled (I used frozen and cooked them in the microwave for 1 min)
1 green chili, chopped
cilantro for garnish
salt, red chili powder, chaat masala to taste
juice of half a lemon

1. Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the potato cubes till browned on each side.
2. Shallow fry the chunk of paneer on each side and then cut into cubes.
3. When the potatoes are almost done, add the onions and saute them for about 1 min, till they are slightly soft, but haven't completely lost their crunch. Then thorw in the peas, red chilis and cilantro. Turn off the heat and in the same pan, season the chaat by sprinkling salt, red chili, and chat masala all over the chaat and then put the lemon juice. Mix well and serve hot, with ketchup if you like.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chili Gobhi

Cauliflower florets 2 cups
1 medium onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 big jalapeno pepper, cut into rounds
red and green bell peppers, cut into strips, 1/2 cup
2 chopped green onions
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vinegar
salt and red chili powder to taste

1. Mix flour, corn starch, salt and red chilli powder and add water to it to make a batter (ketchup consistency)
2. Coat the cauliflower florets in the batter (reserve some batter) and shallow fry them in hot oil for about 3-4 minutes. (You can deep fry them for better taste) Drain on paper towels and keep aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onions. Fry for about 3-4 minutes, then add the ginger, garlic and jalapeno peppers. Fry for another 2-3 minutes and then add ketchup, say sauce, vinegar, salt and red chilli powder.
4. Add about half a cup of water and cook till the sauce is boiling. Then add the cauliflower florets, red and green bell peppers and chopped green onions (reserving some green part for garnish)
5. Adjust for tartness/heat/acidity by adding more vinegar, soy sauce and red chili powder. Cook for about 3-4 more minutes and if the sauce is too liquid, add 1 tbsp of the batter that was used to coat the cauliflowers, to thicken the gravy.
6. Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot with steamed rice.

The Garlic Naan Experiment

I tried making the garlic naan at home, in my oven, and it turned out pretty well for a first time!

For the dough:
2 cups flour
1 cup Bisquick
Ajwain/salt/red chili powder optional/to taste
Warm water for kneading

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Knead the dough using warm water and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
3. Roll in an oval shape for the naan, sprinkle some chopped garlic and chopped cilantro on it.
4. Put on a cookie sheet, lined with foil and put it in the oven very close to the top heating element (turn the oven on "broil" now)
6. Keep an eye on the naan and turn it, when it gets cooked from one side.
7. Spread butter on it and serve.

This dough is actually my friend Anjali's recipe for making soft bhaturas! I had made the bhaturas, which were yummy, and had some dough left over, so decided to try to make naan out of it. The naans were great too, though a little hard around the edges, I probably overcooked them, so next time, I will keep a closer eye on them.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Amy's Bake Swap and Spinach-Artichoke Lasagna

My co-worker Amy had a Bake Swap at her place this weekend. The idea was for all the guests to bring one baked dish, either sweet or savory, along with the recipe, and make enough quantity for us to eat over there and bring it back home with us (ie swap) There were about 10 guests and the party was great fun! Most of the guests decided on sweet items, so there were cookies, cakes, cupcakes and other goodies. I decided to make a lasagna and it was a big hit!

Here are some pics of the goodies- I have the recipes and will be trying them out myself when the fancy strikes.

Low fat Lemon pound cake (the only :low fat" item on the menu!)

Top-to-bottom crumbly cupcakes and apple struesel cupcakes

orange glazed cranberry spiced teacakes

chocolate chunk oatmeal-pecan cookies with cherries

Blondies (brownies with butterscotch instead of chocolate)

And here's my Spinach-artichoke-mushroom lasagna

(This recipe makes one 8”x 8” lasagna, which serves 4)

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups baby spinach
1 bottle marinated artichokes
1 cup white mushrooms, chopped
Ricotta cheese
Pasta sauce (approx 3 cups)
Barilla “No Boil” lasagna noodles
Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
Salt to taste
Red pepper flakes
Italian seasoning to taste
EVOO for sautéing
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup pepper jack cheese and cheddar cheese, grated

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté till it becomes translucent. Toss in the mushrooms and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
2. Take the marinated artichokes and roughly chop them up. Drain out most of the liquid, reserving about 2-3 tbsp for flavoring.
3. Add the artichokes to the skillet, followed by the baby spinach leaves. Cook for another 2 minutes and season with salt, red pepper flakes and the Italian seasoning. Taste and add the artichoke marinade, if needed. Set aside.
4. Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Spray a 8 X 8 lasagna pan with oil and then spread some pasta sauce at the base.
5. Put a layer of lasagna noodles.
6. Make a layer of the ricotta cheese on the noodles, followed by a layer of the spinach/artichoke filling, followed by a layer of the pasta sauce. Continue to make the alternate layers till you reach the top of the pan and then put in one last layer of the noodles.
7. Spread some pasta sauce on the last layer and then put the parmesan cheese, pepper jack and the cheddar cheeses.
8. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly, and the cheese is browning!

Here's what it looks like during assembly:

Just before baking:

After baking, when the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly:

1. The “No boil” noodles do not need to be precooked, but do need extra moisture, so if assembling the lasagna the same day, just before baking, soak the noodles in warm water for about 5 minutes before assembling and add some extra sauce.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Berry Vanilla Cupcakes

These are vanilla cupcakes, decorated with 3 kinds of berries- blueberries, blackberries and raspberries over peach/orange spread and dusted with some powdered sugar.

As pretty as they look, it was hard to make the berries stick onto the cupcakes! They just kept sliding off and I had to resort to some "cheating" and used orange icing color as glue to stick them (and even that wasn't very successful) I think next time, I'm going to try some sort of a cream icing on top.

Cupcakes are so versatile and you can do almost any kind of icing on them to decorate! Also, it is a great thing to involve kids in! Arnav loves to decorate his cupcakes with whipped cream and sticks color sparkles on them!

The cupcakes are great plain too!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bollywood Cooking - Mughlai Palak Malai Kofta

Another one of my favorite blogs What's for lunch, Honey is hosting the Monthy Mingle event and the theme for this month is Bollywood Cooking. The idea is to create a dish that is "dressed up" and fit for the red carpet! I thought about what I would cook that is a glamorous and rich dish and came up with Palak Malai Kofta in Mughlai gravy (Spinach and Cheese balls in a spicy gravy.)

One of my prized possessions, my "first" cookbook, is a diary of my mom's in which she has jotted down recipes when she took some cooking classes back in 1971, when she was in college. When I first started cooking, I used to follow those recipes exactly but now, I do feel confident enough in my cooking to use those recipes as a rough guideline and experiment with textures and flavors and do my own thing!

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in my Mom's 1971 diary!

For the Koftas-
2 cups of baby spinach- roughly chopped, blanched and drained
3 tbsps corn starch
salt and red chilli powder to taste
1 cup of grated paneer
1 tbsp very finely chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp finely chopped green chillis
2 tbsp coarsely chopped cashew nuts
1/2 tsp chat masala
salt and red chilli powder to taste
oil for frying

For the Mughlai Gravy-
1 tbsp oil
2-3 black cardamoms
1 pinch cinnamon powder
1 pinch cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 chopped green chilli
3 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
2 tbsp crushed cashew nuts
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup water
1 tbsp chopped cilantro


Making the Palak Malai Koftas-

- Take the blanched and drained spinach leaves and mash them. Add corn starch, salt and red chilli powder and mix to make a dough like consistency
- Take the grated paneer, add the onions, cilantro, green chillis, cashew nuts, salt and chat masala and mix properly.
- Make small balls of the paneer mixture and keep aside.
- Oil the palm of your hand and take some spinach mix. Flatten it out, put the paneer ball in it and wrap the spinach around it to enclose the paneer completely in the spinach.
- Deep fry in hot oil and drain on paper towels, slice into halves and save.

Making the Mughlai gravy-

- Heat oil in a pan and the onions, garlic, ginger, green chillis and black cardamoms to it one after the other and stir till onions are slightly browned.
- Add the kasuri methi (fenugreek) and then add the tomato puree.
- Fry till oil separates out and then add the cinnamon powder, cumin powder, garam masala, salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Add the cashew nuts also. Stir for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream and 1 cup water and cook the gravy till it becomes thick and glossy.
- Put the koftas in the gravy (reserving a few for garnish) and let it simmer for about 5-6 minutes, till the koftas absorb all the flavors and become soft.
- Serve in a shallow platter, using the reserved koftas as a garnish to bring out the colors of the dish- the yellow of the gravy and the green envelope of the koftas with the white insides.
- Serve with naan or rotis.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Organic Peaches

I have always been interested in photography. My favorite subject so far has been my darling Arnav, but recently, I have been become more and more fascinated with food photography (as if you couldn't guess that from my blog ;-))

I have been following the monthly photography event CLICK ever since its launch, but it's the first time I'm submitting an entry. The theme for this month is Au Naturel, and what could be more "naturel" than organically grown peaches, nurtured with love and care and photographed at each stage of growth!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Potato Mushroom Frittata

A frittata (pronounced free-tata) is an Italian omlette that is cooked in a pan first and finished off in the oven.

For this, you need a pan with an oven proof handle (I used a cast iron skillet)
2 eggs
1 small potato boiled and sliced into thin rounds
1 table spoon chopped onion
one small garlic clove chopped
chopped green chilli to taste
chopped mushrooms
some grated cheese
spring onions for garnish

- In a bowl, beat the eggs and season with salt and red chilli powder. Add some grated cheese to it, and some green onion pieces. Keep aside.
- Heat the pan and add a little bit of oil.
- Add the onions, mushrooms, green chilli and garlic and saute for about half a minute. (Garlic should not get browned)
- Pour about half the egg mixture and let it set for a little bit.
- Place the boiled and sliced potato circles on the egg in one single layer.
- Pour the remaining egg mixture to coat the potatoes.
- Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and some more green onions.
- Cook till the bottom of the eggs is almost set and just a small amount of uncooked egg remains on the top.
- Put the pan in the preheated oven on broiler setting, so that the eggs get cooked from the top in the oven. (That's why a pan with an oven proof handle is needed!)
- Serve sliced, with toasted bread and ketchup!

We enjoy this twist on the standard omlette which can get quite boring!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Masala Recommendation-MDH Tava Fry masala

This is a new discovery for me! I picked up this masala from our nearest Indian store out of curiosity. The name sounded yummy and reminded me of the Tava subzi's like bhindi, eggplant, karela and gobi that are invariably served in shaadi's in India. I have only been to 2 shaadis in India in almost 8 yrs and I frankly don't remember the taste of the food because its been too long! So, I got the MDH Tava Fry masala and I have to say that it is awesome! I have started using it in almost all of my indian cooking and it gives a very nice flavor to just about everything! I use it along with other masalas or just by itself and it tastes yummy each time! But to get the best of the taste of this masala, use it in simple arhar daal. Boil the daal, give it a tarka of onions, tomatoes, green chilli, dhaniya, some red mirchi and 2 heaped spoons of the tava fry masala and you're in taste heaven!

Pear Almond Bread (from One Hot Stove)

I made this Pear Almond bread using the recipe posted on one of my favorite blogs One Hot Stove. I followed the recipe exactly, with the only exception being that I didnt add any vanilla extract because I didnt have any on hand. The loaf turned out beautifully and the texture, moistness and crunch in the crust were perfect. For some reason, I was expecting it to be sweet(I dont know why!), but it wasn't sweet like a cake, rather, it had a nice sweet tinge to it, that's all.

The only issue with it was the whole wheat flour! It had that distinct "whole wheat bread" taste to it which is okay, but there is this contrast between how it looks (like a cake) and how it actually tastes (like whole wheat bread)

So next time I make it, I'm going to use the regular pastry flour and I know we will enjoy it even more!

Thanks Nupur for the lovely recipe!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Home-made Pizza

Whenever I make pizza at home, I get the Boboli pizza crust from Safeway. Recently, I saw that they had a whole wheat pizza crust too and I picked it up. I am trying to move away from all refined and processed grains like maida and trying to incorporate whole wheat and whole grain ingredients in our food. So, I was very excited to see the whole wheat pizza base and eager to use it.

To make the pizza, I spread some pizza sauce on the crust, then spread a layer of grated cheese. I use the pepper jack cheese on my pizza, because of its distinct flavor which comes across very well in the pizza. On the cheese layer is sprinkled some very finely chopped garlic and then go the veggies: onions, green chillis, tomatoes, red and green bell peppers and finally, some mushrooms. Add a dash of salt and red chilli powder and bake in the preheated oben at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Here's what it looks like before putting in the oven:

On Arnav's side of the pizza, since he doesnt want "mirchi", I use colby jack cheese and omit the red chilli powder and green chillis and add some paneer cubes.

We enjoy the pizza with coke and its the only time when Arnav is allowed a few sips of coke!

The verdict: Whole wheat pizza crust is GREAT! We couldnt tell the difference and its definitely more healthy!

Veggie Casserole in Mushroom Garlic Sauce


For the sauce:
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1T finely chopped garlic
1T finely chopped onions
1T maida
1 cup milk
Oil for saute

For the casserole:
chopped mixed veggies-
I used:
corn/peas/carrots/green beans
chopped broccoli rabe
handful of baby spinach leaves
chopped green chilis

For the topping:
1 boiled potato-cut in thin slices
Some grated cheese

For the base:
whole wheat bread, toasted and cut into cubes


-Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic, onions and mushrooms to it. Saute for about 5 mins and then add the maida and saute till the raw smell of maida goes away. It should not brown.
-Add the milk to it and stir, till the sauce thickens.
-Season with salt and red chili powder.
-Keep this mushroom-garlic sauce aside.

-In another pan, saute the onions and all the other veggies till cooked slightly, but they should still be crunchy.
-Add the sauce to the veggies and stir to coat all the veggies.

-For assembling the casserole, take an oven proof dish and line the bottom with the toasted/cubed bread pieces.
-Make a layer of the sauce-covered veggies over the bread.
-Finally, cover the top of the casserole with the sliced boiled potatoes and sprinle the cheese on it.

-Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 mins, till the cheese is melted and the potatoes start browning.

Vrat ke Aloo and Singhare ki roti

Last week was Navratre and I was fasting for the 7 days, eating only fruits and vegetables and then dinner was either sabudana khichri or aloo-tamatar ki subzi and singhare ke aate ki roti.

I found a very easy and yummy recipe for the sabudana khichri at one of my favorite food blogs "One Hot Stove". I have made this recipe several times now and it is just amazing!

Vrat ke aloo, made without onion and garlic, is a quick and tasty subzi, but the singhare ke aate ki roti is just a different ball game! The aata is supposed to be kneaded with very little water and adding a boiled, mashed potato to it for binding and even then, it is a very wet aata and a big pain making the rotis out of it!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

I just finished reading this book in one sitting, staying up till the wee hours, riveted, involved and mesmerized. It's a beautifully written book and one of the finest that I've ever read.

Look here for an excerpt.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Five Star Cutlets!

One thing that I am always on the lookout for, is interesting shapes of cookie cutters. My friends wonder why I search for cookie cutters when I have never baked a cookie in my life? The answer is because cookie cutters are a "Mom's Best Friend" in the kitchen! I use them to cut sandwiches, paranthas, rotis, even omlettes into interesting shapes to entice my little picky eater. I have served "butterfly rotis", "teddy bear paranthas", "heart omlettes", octagon sandwiches" and here is my latest offering, " star cutlets".


2 boiled and mashed potatoes
1/2 cup boiled mixed veggies-peas/corn/carrots/beans/lima beans
a hand ful of spinach leaves-chopped
1/4 chopped onion
2 slices of bread
1/2 cup of cubed paneer
salt/chat masala/a pinch of your fav garam masala

1. Add everything in a bowl and mash together with a fork.
2. Crumble the moistened bread slices into the mixture.
3. Add the spices--I added green chillies and red chilli powder to the "grown up" cutlets and skipped them for the "kiddo cutlets"--and mix well.
4. Take a ball of the mixture, flatten it to the desired thickness on the palm of your hand and cut it with the cookie cutter.
5. Heat some oil in a shallow pan and shallow fry the cutlets on both sides till brown and crispy.
6. Serve with ketchup and dhania chutney.

These are great for an evening snack and also to pack in little lunch boxes. And ofcourse, there is scope to sneak in some spinach, veggies and paneer into a tasty treat that little fingers can hold and eat without much mess.

Side note: Arnav hates it when the finger food makes his fingers messy--so I always make a "handle" for him to hold the food in, like a small foil jacket for the omlette roll or the wrap or a tissue paper covering for the sandwich.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Playing with MicroSoft Picture It!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Garlic Green Beans

My 3 yr old American loves this "All American" fare! He loves to smear the mashed potatoes on his crusty bread strips and munch on the green beans. "More please mamma..."

Mashed Potatoes:

2 medium potatoes-boiled and mashed
1 cup milk
half a stick of unsalted butter
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped green onions
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat the butter in a pan.
2. Throw in the mashed boiled potatoes and add the milk to it.
3. Stir so that no lumps are present.
4. Season with fresh thyme, salt and pepper and stir well. Cook for about 5 mins, stirring continuously, till the potatoes are creamy and well mixed.
5. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Garlic Green Beans:

2 cups of green beans
2 cloves of minced garlic
chopped parsley
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

1. Boil the green beans in salted water for 3 mins. Drain and rinse with cold water. Beans should be still crunchy. Keep aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a pan.
3. Add the garlic and saute for 1 min. It should not get brown.
4. Add the green beans, salt and pepper and stir well. for another 2-3 mins.

Daal Makhni and Bhindi ki Subzi

It's one of my favorite dishes to cook when we have company. Rich, elegant and very tasty, you can never go wrong with daal makhni! And it tastes great the next day too!

And here's another of my favorite subzi-Bhindi!