Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Slow Cooker Curried Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cubed (approximately 1")
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure red chili powder
1 teaspoon madras curry powder
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water (or enough to cover the squash)
black pepper

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker.  The water should just cover the squash, so adjust amount accordingly.  Turn to the slow cooker setting to high and cover and cook for 4 hours. Turn off the cooker and and allow to cool.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop the cubes of squash into a food processor or blender and puree.  Return to the slow cooker and stir well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with a spoon of plain yogurt and a sprinkle of roasted pumpkin seeds.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Indian Grocery Essentials

This is part 3 of the Indian "Essentials" postings.  If you haven't already visited parts 1 and 2, you can find them here: Indian Pantry Essentials and Beyond the Indian Pantry Essentials.

These are the fresh items which I like to have on hand for Indian cooking, non-vegetarian and vegetarian.  

Grocery Essentials

Curry leaves, fresh (if possible!)
Coriander/cilantro leaves
Mint leaves
Coconut, grated (frozen)
Coconut, whole (fresh)
Assorted Vegetables (which I find are widely available in the USA and commonly used in Indian cooking)
    potatoes, okra, eggplant, leafy greens (i.e. spinach, fenugreek leaves), radishes (daikon or common red), cabbage, carrots, green beans, and more
Mixed vegetables (frozen)
Green peas (frozen)
Green chiles (I recommend serrano peppers)
Yogurt (plain)
Heavy cream
Chicken thighs, bone in, skinned (I do NOT recommend chicken breast for Indian cooking unless I specifically state so on a particular recipe.  It is too dry.)
Chicken drumsticks, skinned
Mutton (goat meat)
Shrimp (raw, deveined, frozen)
Fish (frozen catfish, tilapia, and salmon pieces are my favorites, but my husband loves kingfish)

Beyond the Indian Pantry Essentials

Due to popularity of my previous blog post on the Indian pantry essentials, this list is for those interested in the next level of Indian cooking!  Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and is based on the method of cooking I am most familiar with: south Indian cuisine.

The Indian Pantry Essentials part one is available here.

Now, onto the list.

Beyond the Indian Pantry Essentials:

Dried curry leaves
Ghee (clarified butter...substitute unsalted butter if necessary)
Cashews (raw, pieces, unsalted)
Almonds (raw, pieces, unsalted)
Cumin powder
Chaat masala (not really a must have, but I love the goes back to the 90's when I first tasted it when my dad brought some home from a business trip to India)
Urad dal (black lentil, outer skin removed to leave white interior)
Moong dal (mung bean)
Chana (chickepeas)
Fenugreek seeds
Coriander seeds (whole)
Poppy seeds (white)
Cumin powder
Chana dalia (roasted gram
Pearl tapioca
Rava (cream of wheat)
Golden raisins
Atta (whole wheat flour)
Gingelly oil (light sesame oil - the Asian sesame oil is darker and has a different flavor)
Coconut oil
Coconut milk (canned)

I hope to add to this list as items come to mind.

What about you?  Indian food lovers, what would you recommend? 

Coconut Chutney

An accompaniment to dosa, idli, vada, pakora, baji, and more...

1 cup grated coconut
2 green chiles, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1 quarter size piece of ginger
2 tablespoons rough chopped onion (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon urad dal
10 curry leaves
1 tablespoon oil

Combine coconut, chiles, garlic, ginger and onion in a blender (mixie).  Blend well, adding just enough water to keep the blender running smoothly.  (Or, add to your desired consistency, noting that the chutney will thicken slightly as it sits.)  Add salt, to taste.  When done blending, the coconut mixture should be just smooth.  This will take 3-5 minutes depending on the efficiency of your blender.  Put the mixture into a bowl, set aside.

Heat oil in a small frying pan - add seasonings: cumin, mustard, urad, curry leaves, red chiles.  When mustard seeds pop, turn off the heat and pour the seasonings and oil into the coconut mixture.  Stir until combined. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sweet Potato Fry

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/3 teaspoon urad dal
10 curry leaves
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2" cubes
1 teaspoon sambar powder (or substitute 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder)

Heat the oil in a shallow pan, add the mustard, cumin, urad dal and curry leaves.  When the mustard seeds pop and the urad turns golden brown, add the turmeric, then the sweet potatoes,  Stir fry for several minutes over high heat, then cover and turn heat to low.  Allow to steam-cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The potato should be slightly firm at this point.  (Fork tender.)  Add the sambar powder, stir fry for another couple minutes until potato is well coated. Switch off heat and leave it covered until ready to eat - the steam from the potato as it cools will finish cooking the potato.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

A fall vegetable medley...parsnips, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, beets, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, or any combination thereof, roasted in the oven, yield creamy interiors caramel-y exterior

2 parsnips, peeled and sliced diagonally
2 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
2 turnips, peeled and cubed
2 red potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
freshly grated black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine all ingredients in a baking tray and mix well.  Bake for an hour, until potatoes are cooked through.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Shrimp Masala

1 tablespoon oil
10 curry leaves
1 bay leaf
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods
1" piece cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 small roma tomatoes, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic + 1/2" piece ginger, pureed
1 green chile, slit lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon pure red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 scant teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 lb large shrimp - raw, shells removed and deveined

Heat oil in a frying pan, add the curry leaves. When they splutter add the whole spices: bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel seeds.  Saute for about 1 minute, then add onions.  Saute for almost 10 minutes, until onions brown.  Stir in ginger-garlic paste and saute for about a minute.  Add green chile and tomatoes, stir fry for another 7-10 minutes, until the tomato turns pulpy/disintegrates.  (You may need to add a half cup of water to this mixture if it dries out too soon.  This will depend on the juiciness of the tomatoes you used.) Stir in the powdered spices: chili powder, garam masala, fennel, turmeric, coriander and salt.  Add the shrimp.  Mix well and cook for 3-5 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through.  Switch off heat, garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve with rice. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Multigrain Waffles

My older son asked for waffles this morning, and I took the opportunity to give him the most nutritious ones that I could make with ingredients on hand.  He's such a little guy with more interest in moving around than eating, so I have to seize every opportunity he shows interest in food. :)

This is the healthy alternative to conventional waffles. This is actually packed with flavor and nutrition and has a perfect combination of crisp exterior and soft interior when fresh off the waffle iron. :)  Even the butter and sugar loving hubby approved! 

3/4 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cup milk + 2 tablespoons vinegar (OR lemon juice)
2 eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Gently whisk together the dry ingredients then set aside.

Stir the vinegar into the milk, set aside.  Break the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the melted butter.  Stir in the milk/vinegar combination (it should be slightly thickened). Stir in the dry ingredients to this and allow to stand while you preheat your waffle iron. 

Cook on your waffle iron according to manufacturers instructions.

Makes 8 count, 3inch by 3inch square waffles.

Nutrition Facts for 2 waffles, with 2% milk: 
316 calories, 14.9 g total fat, 123.1 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 363 mg potassium, 39 g total carbohydrates (7.9 g fiber, 8.5 g sugar), 11.4 g protein. 

Vitamin A (13%), Vitamin B-12 (4.2%), Vitamin B-6 (10.), Vitamin D (14%), Calcium (31%), Copper (8.3%), Folate (11.9%), Iron (16.4%), Magnesium (19.9%), Manganese (80.5%), Niacin (12.5%), Phosphorus (25.5%), Riboflavin (14.2%), Selenium (18.8%), Thiamin (14.8%), Zinc (9.5%)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ginger Spice Cookies

If you like soft and spicy cookies, these are for you. :)

2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh, grated ginger
3/4 cup salted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, gently whisk together: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg.

In a large bowl, stir the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  (If possible use an electric hand held beater for this.)  Stir in the egg and molasses until well combined.  Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the flour mixture.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a shallow bowl.  Pinch off a ping pong ball size amount of dough and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball in the bowl of sugar, then place on an ungreased baking sheet.  I could fit 16 on a sheet.  (Click on the link for my recommendation for baking sheets!)  Place on middle rack in the preheated oven and bake for exactly 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half way through.  Take out of the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. 

This will approximately make 36 cookies.

Masala Chai

A steaming cup of spiced, milky sweet black tea on a crisp fall morning...what could be better?  I am fairly certain that Indians sweltering under the hot equator sun cannot enjoy their masala chai as much as a Minnesotan on a crisp and cool autumn day...  :)

This recipe is for 4 cups of chai as the liquid will slightly evaporate during the process.  If you want to make more or less, I generally use the following measurements of tea leaves and sugar per cup of liquid: 2-3 teaspoons loose leaf tea and 2-3 teaspoons sugar.  I imagine that the quality of tea used will determine the amount you use, so adjust accordingly.  Also note that you will need a very fine tea filter/tea sock for this preparation - preferably one made with muslin, like this. You can use tea bags as a substitute for loose leaf, but authentic taste requires loose leaf.

The wonderful thing about masala chai is that it is easily adaptable...make it with just cardamom, just ginger, or almost any combination of the below spices.  In fact, every region and family seems to have their own variation of masala chai ... one family would never dream of adding cinnamon, where another family could not do without.

After a lengthy introduction, I give you my variation of masala chai. :)

2 quarter sized medallions of ginger, peeled
3 cloves
5 black peppercorns
6 crushed green cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 small piece of cinnamon stick (optional)
1 star anise (optional)
1/2 cup of water
4 cups of 2% milk (or better yet, whole milk!)
2-3 tablespoons sugar (or, per your taste)
2-3 tablespoons loose leaf black tea leaves (i.e orange pekoe)

Combine spices and water in a sauce pan and simmer over medium-lo heat for 5 minutes.  Add the milk and bring to a boil.  If you have time before needing to serve, reduce the heat and simmer the milk until very slightly reduced - 10-15 minutes should do it.  Then, stir in tea leaves, reduce heat and simmer for another 4-5 minutes - carefully watch the color during this time to achieve desired strength of tea. I can only describe my "perfect" color as rosy, milky brown (how's that for an oxymoron?)!  Filter the tea, add sugar to taste and serve steaming hot!

Note: I find that traditionally, my friends boil the tea leaves along with the milk, which allows them to serve the tea steaming hot.  "Science" says that this will make the tea slightly bitter and suggests adding tea leaves only after the heat has been switched off.  To be honest, I prefer the method of simmering tea leaves versus steeping, but please adapt which method you prefer.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banana Cake

Use this recipe for a moist, delicious banana cake or banana bread.  This will make one bundt cake or 4 mini loaves of banana bread. 

1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
4 well ripened bananas (preferably with black spotted peel), roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped dates OR chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup yogurt (or sour cream)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350F.   Grease a bundt cake pan with oil or butter, then dust the pan with flour.  Set aside. (Alternately, prepare 4 mini loaf pans, muffin pan or cake pan.) 

Beat together the butter and sugar, until well combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Stir in the bananas, dates and walnuts, and yogurt.

In another bowl stir together until well combined the flour, baking soda and salt. 

Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until well combined.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes.  Remove from oven, slightly cool then remove from pan and place on a cooling rack.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beetroot Fry

I was pleasantly surprised how yummy this was. :)

1 tablespoon oil
10 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon urad dal (optional)
1/2 teaspoon chana dalia (optional)
1 green chile, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
3 beet roots, ends cut off and grated
1/4 cup grated coconut
Heat oil in a frying pan, add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal and chana dalia.  When the mustard seeds pop add the green chile and onions.  Saute until browned and add the grated beet root.  Stir well, then turn the heat to low and put a lid on the pan.  Cook for 7-10 minutes or until the beet root is softened.  Take the lid off, stir in the coconut and salt (to taste), and stir fry for about 3 minutes over medium heat, or until any excess moisture evaporates. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Twisted Garlic Breadsticks

I love the cool weather fall brings to mind my favorite soups simmering on the stove and fresh bread baking in the oven.  (Things I try to avoid in a hot summer kitchen.)  In celebration of the season...

1 cup warm water
3 teaspoons yeast
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon softened butter
1 clove garlic, minced
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Mix together the water, yeast and sugar.  When the yeast starts to bubble add the oil and salt. Stir well then add flour.  Knead on a floured board for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Allow to rise in a warm place (i.e. oven with the oven light on) until it doubles in size.  Roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch in thickness.  Spread the butter over the rectangle and sprinkle with garlic and Parmesan cheese.  Make 10 cuts across the rectangle, horizontally.  Take one strip, put the ends together and twist it.  Lay on a greased baking sheet.  Repeat.  (You should have 10 breadsticks.)  Cover and allow to rise for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until bottom of breadstick is golden brown.  When it is done, remove from oven and, optionally, rub the top with butter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


As chicken noodle soup is to the American, so is rasam to the Indian.  This broth is served over rice or eaten plain as a "soup".  It is sour and spicy, guaranteed to clear your sinuses.  Reduce pepper and rasam powder as necessary!

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 whole red chilis
10 curry leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tomato, chopped
6 cups of water
1 teaspoon tamarind paste concentrate
3 teaspoons rasam powder **
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil.  Add mustard, cumin, fenugreek, red chilis and curry leaves.  When mustard seeds "pop" add the garlic.  Saute for a minute then add tomato.  Saute until tomato breaks down into a paste and add water.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stir into tamarind paste, rasam powder, black pepper, cilantro and salt, to taste.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, until flavors are combined.

**No rasam powder?  Substitute 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.



Pal payasam (milk payasam) with semiya and javvarisi.  Payasam is similar to rice pudding and can be served hot, lukewarm or cold. It is also known as kheer in other parts of India.

1/4 cup small tapioca (sabudana, javvarisi) pearls, soaked in water for 1 hour
1/2 cup vermicelli (semiya, in 1/2 inch long pieces)
6 cups whole milk
6 cardamom pods, crushed
1 teaspoon butter or ghee
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons raw cashew pieces (alternately, use pistachios or almonds)
1/2 cup sugar

Place soaked tapioca pearls in a large sauce pan.  Add milk and cardamom pods and simmer on medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes.  (If I am making a large batch I may simmer the milk for 60 minutes).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a shallow frying pan.  To this add the cashews and raisins and saute until cashews are golden brown.  Scoop the cashews and raisins out of the pan, leaving the melted butter.  Add the vermicelli to this and saute/dry roast until they turn golden brown and immediately remove from heat. 

When the tapioca pearls are cooked through, add the vermicelli, raisins, and cashews and simmer until the vermicelli is cooked.  Stir in the sugar and adjust per your taste.

The payasam will thicken as it cools.  If you prefer more liquid, stir in milk and/or cream, per your taste.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicken Fry

This is a basic marinade I use if I want to pan fry chunks of chicken breast or grill chicken breast for a spicy and flavorful Indian style chicken sandwich.  The Indian style chicken sandwich is becoming a beloved classic at Global Harvest Church camps/picnics thanks to Victor's marinating skills! Serve on a bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, freshly sliced jalapenos and a slice of pepper jack cheese for fire-in-your-mouth!  My mouth waters just thinking about it...

As in all my recipes, if you have a low tolerance for spice, please cut back the chili powder and pepper accordingly.

3 chicken breasts, cut into pieces (1" cubes for pan fry, palm size pieces for sandwich)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sambal oelek sauce (chili garlic paste) - the secret ingredient!

Thoroughly rub all ingredients into the chicken pieces and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours - overnight is better! 

If grilling, oil the grill grate and preheat the grill.  It will take about 10-15 minutes to grill a palm size piece of chicken breast, turning it over halfway through. 

If pan frying, heat oil in a frying pan - the pan should contain about 1/4" of oil.  Shallow fry the chicken pieces for 10 minutes, turning over halfway through.  The chicken pieces should brown on both sides. 

My family's favorite way to eat chicken fry is with sambar, a vegetable fry and white rice.

Tandoori Chicken

Method adapted from "Vah-reh-vah"'s tandoori chicken.  (Thanks to friends, Anita & Victor for referencing the site!  If you haven't seen Vah Chef's videos, you have got to check it out.  He is passionate - and emotional at times - about food!  At times I don't find the recipes accurate, but the videos are helpful.

All that to say . . . tandoori chicken.  So, this recipe omits the "red dye" that is used to get classic tandoori chicken look.  A typical recipe will use this red dye (similar to link above, but the red variety, not orange), but for health reasons, it's better to avoid it.  Paprika may be used to achieve a similar color, but personally, I don't like the taste. 

8 chicken legs (drumsticks)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste

Make 3 long slits into each drumstick, deep into the flesh.  Rub the lemon juice, chili powder and salt into the chicken, making sure to go into each of the slits.  Marinate for up to 2 hours.

Mix together the yogurt, coriander, cumin, black pepper, garam masala, turmeric and ginger garlic paste until smooth.  Thoroughly rub into the drumsticks.  Marinate for up to 8 hours.

To cook, choose one method:

1.  Grill.  Oil the grill grate well, then turn on the grill.  When it is hot, place the chicken on it.  Sear the meat by browning on all sides, then move away from direct flame to finish cooking.  It will take about 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the drumsticks.

2.  Bake.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Oil a glass baking pan (lining it with aluminium foil will eliminate difficulty in cleaning the dish later), and place the chicken in it.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  You will need to drain the juice that collects at the bottom of the pan as needed as it bakes.

Optional garnish: when the chicken is done, garnish with onions, roughly chopped cilantro leaves and lime wedges.  Also can sprinkle on chat masala.

Vegetable Biryani

Vegetable biryani for a crowd, rice cooker method.  (This would serve 10-12 people.  For a family of four I would cut the recipe in half and plan on having leftovers.)
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
6 cardamom pods
2 star anise seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 cups sliced onions
5 green chiles, sliced lengthwise
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
2 teaspoon fennel powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans and corn)
½ cup loosely packed chopped mint
½ cup loosely packed chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup yogurt (can substitute coconut milk for a variation)
7 cups water
5 teaspoons salt
5 cups basmati rice

Heat the oil and butter in large frying pan until the butter is melted.  Add bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, fennel and black peppercorns.  Saute for about a minute, then add the sliced onions and green chiles.  Stir fry over medium-high heat until the onions begin to turn brown in color (about 7-10 minutes).  Add the ginger garlic paste and stir fry for a minute.  Add the tomatoes and stir fry until the tomatoes are softened (another 7-10 minutes.)  Add the fennel, coriander, chili and turmeric powders, cilantro and mint leaves and stir until combined.  Add the frozen mixed vegetables and stir well.  Switch off heat.  Put the rice in the rice cooker vessel and add the vegetable mixture.  In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt with 1 cup of water until it is smooth.  Pour into the rice cooker along with remaining 6 cups of water.  Stir well, close lid and turn the rice cooker on.  When the cycle comes to an end immediately spoon the rice into a flat serving tray (i.e. 9x13 pan).  This will keep the rice fluffy and prevent breaking the grains. (If you leave it in the cooker it will compress and dry out).

Serve with: raita (yogurt salad), hard boiled eggs, any curry or kurma. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Indian Pantry Essentials

After a conversation with my sister Janna, wherein she was surprised I don't use curry powder, I've put together a list of pantry essentials I personally recommend for Indian cooking. :) 

Coriander powder
Turmeric powder
Pure red chili powder (an acceptable substitute is cayenne pepper)
Garam masala powder
Mustard seeds (black)
Cumin seeds
Fennel seeds
Cinnamon stick (whole)
Cloves (whole)
Green cardamom pods (whole)
Star anise (whole)
Bay leaves (whole cassia leaves)
Black peppercorn (whole and ground)
Red chiles (dried, whole)
Toor dal (yellow split peas)
Masoor dal (red/pink lentils)
Basmati rice

Monday, August 20, 2012

Beef Fry

2 lbs beef, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
6 cloves garlic
1" piece ginger
2 tablespoons oil
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 star anise
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 large onions, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 or 2 green chiles, cut lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 strand curry leaves
1/2 onion, sliced
1/4 cup coconut, roughly chopped OR shredded
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Puree the garlic and ginger.  Combine with coriander, garam masala, turmeric, chili and black pepper powders, salt and lemon juice and coat the beef.   Marinate for at least 1 hour.

Place the beef and marinade in a pressure cooker.  Cook for 6 whistles over medium heat and then allow to steam to naturally release.  The beef should be tender enough to cut with a fork.  Reserve the broth and keep the cooked beef aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot.  When it is hot, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, star anise and fennel seeds.  Saute for about 30 seconds, then add the chopped onions and green chiles.  Saute for 7-10 minutes over medium heat or until the onions are browned.  Add the tomatoes, and continue to saute until the tomato is softened. When this is done, add the cooked beef.  Stir fry over medium heat, adding beef broth as needed to keep the mixture just moist.  At this point, add per your taste: salt, chili powder, coriander powder.  Cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes allowing the flavors to meld together.  Switch off heat

In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil.  When it is hot add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves.  When the mustard seeds "pop" add the sliced onion.  Saute until the onion is browned, add the coconut.  Saute until the coconut turns to a golden color.

Stir into the beef mixture along with cilantro leaves.

Serve with: rice.  Traditionally also served with appam, idli, dosa.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flour Tortillas

Adapted from "Homemade Flour Tortilla" recipe.  After you have this you can't go back to the store-bought tortillas!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon shortening
3/4 - 1 cup warm water

Stir together until well combined: flour, salt, baking powder.  Add the shortening, and mix into the flour mixture until shortening pieces are the size of coarse bread crumbs.  (Use your fingers to help break up the pieces.)  Slowly stir in the warm water until dough is soft but not sticky.  Knead for several minutes, until dough is smooth.  Divide into 10 pieces.  Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Meanwhile, begin rolling the pieces out on a floured board.  Tortillas should be rolled into about 6" diameter rounds, and about the thickness of a dime.  (Remember tortillas will puff up while being cooked, due to baking powder.)  Place on hot skillet.  When it begins to puff up and turn golden brown, flip over and cook on the other side.  When it is done, keep in a tightly covered bowl, wrapped in a towel to preserve soft texture.  Continue process with remaining 9 pieces. 

Servings: 10 tortillas

Serving Suggestion: We use this for Chipotle-style tacos.  Fill tortillas with chicken, steak, or pork AND lettuce, rice, black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

Kovakai Fry

I recently discovered kovakai and fell in love with it!  Kovakai, tindora, ivy gourd.  It's a cute little vegetable resembling a cucumber, about the size of your little finger.  It is a good source of vitamins A & C and can be eaten raw, but is typically cooked in Indian cuisine.  Once cooked it retains some crunch, which I think adds a delightful texture to the palate. :) Here is a friend's method of stir frying this vegetable.

1.5 lb kovakai, ends cut off and remaining sliced in thin rounds
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 heaping teaspoons of coriander powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup of grated coconut
Lemon juice

Microwave the sliced kovakai in a bowl of water for 5 minutes to soften.  Drain well.

Heat oil in a frying pan, add mustard and cumin seeds and urad dal.  When the mustard seeds pop add the kovakai and stir fry for 5 minutes.  Stir in the turmeric, coriander, chili powder and salt.  Allow to cook over medium heat until it begins to caramelize and turn golden brown.  At last, stir in coconut and stir fry for a few minutes, then switch of heat.  Stir in lemon juice.

Serve with white rice and sambar.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Swedish Pancakes (Crepes)


6 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
2 cups flour

Beat the eggs, milk, sugar, salt together.  Beat in melted butter. Last beat in the flour (use an electric beater for best results) until thoroughly combined.  

Heat a frying pan over medium-lo heat (setting 3), lightly grease with oil.  When hot, pour about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter into frying pan.  Tilt pan to evenly coat the pan with the batter.  When the bottom of the pancake JUST starts to turn golden brown, flip and cook on the other side for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let sit for a minute or two until soft and pliable, then roll up.  Thoroughly stir batter each time before pouring into frying pan as the flour tends to settle on the bottom.

Serve with fresh fruits, marmalade, whipped cream. Another favorite filling of the hubby's is coconut, sweetened with sugar. 

Evenly spread the batter by tilting the pan

The pancake is ready to turn over

Gently lift with finger tips - it should be golden brown on the bottom.
Then, use a spatula to flip it over.

 Cooking on the reverse side

 The finished product prior to rolling up
A Swedish pancake, filled with fruits and whipped cream

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mutton Biryani

1.5 lbs mutton (goat), cut in 1" cubes
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon pure red chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons butter
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
6 cloves
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 or 3 serrano peppers (4-5 thai green chiles), sliced lengthwise
2 small roma tomatoes, chopped
1 head garlic, peeled
1" piece ginger, peeled and rough chopped

1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves, washed and rough chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed coriander leaves, washed and rough chopped
2 cups basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water mixed with 1/2 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons salt

Marinate the mutton with turmeric, chili, coriander, 1/4 cup yogurt and lemon juice.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a pressure cooker (or heavy bottom pan).  Add to this the whole seasonings: bay leaf, anise, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns, fennel seeds.  Saute for about a minute then add onion and green chiles.  Saute until onion is browned.  Meanwhile, make a paste of the garlic and ginger.  Add to browned onion and saute for a minute.  Add tomatoes and continue to saute for 5 to 7 minutes until softened.  Stir in mint and coriander as well as marinated mutton.  Cover and pressure cook for 6 whistles.  (Or, allow to simmer on low heat in a heavy bottom pan with a tightly fitted lid until tender.  This may take up to 1 hour.)  Once heat is released, open the pressure cooker, stir in rice, water/yogurt mixture and salt.  Cover and cook for 12-15 minutes on medium heat, switch off and allow the heat to naturally release.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Carrot Cake

Variation on All's Carrot Cake, based on ingredients in my pantry/fridge and slight variation of method... Makes one 9X13 pan (about 20 pieces)

3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chopped dates
3-4 large carrots, grated
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 to 2 cups crushed pineapple (I added 8 ounces, and up to 16 ounces with no problems)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9X13" pan.

In a bowl combine milk and vinegar.  Allow the milk to curdle (it will take just a minute).  Beat the eggs in a small bowl then add to milk mixture along with vanilla, oil and sugar.  Stir until just combined.  Add carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple.

In another bowl thoroughly mix together: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, raisins, dates.  When well combined, add to the milk mixture and stir until just combined. 

Transfer to 9X13 inch pan. 

Bake at 350 for about 60-70 minutes.

Frosting: Bring about 6 ounces of cream cheese to room temperature.  Beat until fluffy, then stir in about a 1/2 cup powdered sugar (or, to desired sweetness).  Spread over cooled carrot cake.

French Baguettes

Variation of All French Baguette recipe.  Makes 2 12-inch loaves.

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Combine warm water, yeast and sugar.  Let stand 5 minutes.  

Stir in salt and add flour little by little until dough is firm enough to knead.  Knead for 5-10 minutes, adding flour as necessary - goal is for a soft dough.  Cover, leave in a warm place and let rise until doubled. (1 hour)

Lightly grease a cookie sheet.  Punch down the dough, divide into two portions.  Roll the dough into an oblong, then roll until a log shape.  Pinch the ends together to seal it.  Make a slits diagonally across the loaf with a knife.  Repeat with the second portion of dough.  Cover the loaves and allow to rise for about a half hour. Preheat oven to 375.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until loaves are golden brown.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chicken Kurma

2.5 lbs chicken thighs, chopped in small pieces
2 tablespoons yogurt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon pure red chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon oil
4 cardamom pods
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 small piece cinnamon stick
1 star anise seed
2 onions, finely chopped
4 roma tomatoes, pureed
2 green chiles, sliced lengthwise
1/2" piece ginger
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup grated coconut
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoons cashews (raw)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut milk (optional)

Combine: chicken, turmeric, chili, garam masala, black pepper, salt and yogurt in bowl.  Set aside to marinate.

Heat oil in a large pot or pressure cooker.  Splutter the whole spices (cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise) for about 30 seconds, then add onions and green chiles. Saute until well cooked (golden brown in color).  Meanwhile, make a puree of the ginger and garlic, and add to onion mixture and saute for a couple minutes.  Add tomato puree and saute until well cooked and liquid evaporates.

Add to this the marinated chicken, cover and simmer until chicken is almost done. (If pressure cooking, 2 to 3 whistles.) 

Meanwhile, soak the cashews and poppy seeds in a little water.  Then combine with coconut and fennel seeds and puree.  When chicken is done, stir this into chicken mixture and cook for another 5 minutes.  Last, stir in coconut milk, bring to a boil, switch off heat and stir in cilantro. 

Serve with: rice, idli, parotta...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken Biryani

Chicken biryani for 8 people. 

4 cups of basmati rice
2.5 lbs chicken quarters, drumsticks, or thighs, skin removed and cut in 1-2" pieces
1/2 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fennel powder
1 tablespoon biryani masala (optional)
3 teaspoons salt
6-8 plump garlic cloves, peeled
1" piece of ginger, peeled
3 serrano chiles, sliced lengthwise (or 6-8 thai green chiles)
4 tablespoons of butter (1/2 stick)
1 tablespoon of oil
2 bay leaves
5 cardamom, crushed
5 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
1 tomato, rough chopped
2/3 cup mint leaves, rough chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, rough chopped
5 cups of water

1. Blend together ginger and garlic in a blender/grinder.  You should have about 1/3 cup of ginger/garlic paste.   Mix with yogurt and turmeric, chili, and fennel powders as well as biryani masala and salt. Rub into chicken pieces and marinate.  (Minimum 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.)

2.  Heat oil in a large pot.  Add butter.  When butter is melted add bay leaves, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, star anise, fennel seed and black peppercorns.  Saute until fragrant.  Add onions and saute until browned.  Add rough chopped tomatoes and saute until softened. Add chicken pieces along with marinade, and simmer for 7-10 minutes.  Switch off heat and stir in mint and cilantro leaves.

     Place rice in the cooker along with chicken mixture and 5 cups of water and salt, to taste.  Stir well.  Close lid and cook on "white rice" setting until done.  When it is done cooking, immediately remove from rice cooker and spread gently in a rectangle, shallow dish (i.e. 9x13" tray)
     Combine rice and chicken mixture in a pressure cooker along with along with 4 (FOUR) cups of water and salt. Fit the lid onto the cooker, place weight on and reduce heat to low to medium low setting.  When the whistle sounds one time, immediately switch off heat and allow the cooker to sit until pressure naturally releases.  When it is completely released, open lid and gently spread the biryani into a rectangle, shallow dish. 

Serve with: raita, boiled egg and apalam
                   meat curry
                   eggplant gravy 


1 lb hot Italian sausage (ground)
1/2 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, rough chopped
1 carrot, rough chopped
6 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1- 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
1- 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of water
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1 teaspoon each of basil, oregano, parsley (any combination)
pinch of red chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
9 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 - 15 oz container ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 egg
3 cups mozarella cheese

1.  Bring a pot of water to boil.  Drop in lasagna noodles and cook for about 7-10 minutes, until almost cooked.

2.  In a saute pan, brown the ground beef and sausage.  Drain excess fat.

3.  In a pot heat oil, then add chopped onions, carrot and garlic.  Saute until carrots are soft.  Add canned tomatoes and tomato sauce along with seasonings.  Simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Blend the mixture in thoroughly in a blender. Return to pot and stir in ground beef and sausage. 

4.  Stir together ricotta, parmesan, egg, seasonings.

5.  In a 9x13 pan ladle some of the sauce.  Lay 3 noodles side by side.  Spoon half of ricotta mixture over the noodles.  Sprinkle with some mozzarella cheese.  Ladle sauce.  Continue with noodles, remaining ricotta, mozzarella and sauce.  Lay last 3 noodles across, ladle sauce, and sprinkle with remaining ricotta.

6.  Bake at 400, covered for about 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.