Friday, December 27, 2013

Eggs in avocado

Eggs in Avocado

Breakfast never tasted so healthy.  A thoroughly satisfying and delish ensemble.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 Avocados (preferably slightly under-ripe)
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tbsp Olive Oil
4 Eggs
2 large tomatoes (sliced) OR 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
5-6 torn fresh Basil leaves or chopped fresh coriander
Zest and juice of 1 lime

  • Peel and half each avocado. Remove the pit. Press each half gently to flatten the bottom of each avocado. The idea is to make thick but flat slices, each with a hole in the center. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • To a preheated non stick pan, add 1 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the avocado slices cut-sides down and cook until they begin to brown, about 1 minute. Flip and carefully crack 1 egg into each hole. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the egg whites have set up but the yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. 
  • While eggs are cooking, make a tomato salad with halved cherry tomatoes, chopped basil, zest and juice of lime, seasoning. OR Slightly char the sliced tomatoes in the pan to warm up.
  • Top each avocado with the tomato salad OR warm tomato slices and coriander and serve. 
Recipe by Chef Michael Symon 

Friday, December 20, 2013


Moussaka with tomato-cucumber-feta salad and steamed green beans
This is the kind of food that fills you from head to toe and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling. Moussaka can be made with any kind of ground meat. I used chicken. Tastes even better the next day. So double the recipe and keep one for the day after.
Greek moussaka
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 lb ground chicken
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese or Parmesan or Romano

  1. Sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices and leave them to sweat for 20 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Cooking the potatoes: While the eggplant is sweating, heat olive oil in a large pan and add the potato slices and cook until lightly golden on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding. Transfer to a paper-lined plate to drain. Season lightly with salt.
  3. Cooking the eggplant slices: Place 1 cup of the flour in a bowl and dredge the eggplant slices in the flour. Shake to remove any excess flour. Heat oil in a skillet and, working in batches, fry the eggplant slices until golden on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add more oil as needed. Transfer to a paper-lined plate to drain.
  4. Making the meat sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet add the onions. Cook till slightly pink, about 3-4 minutes. Add the ground meat, garlic, and oregano and cook. Stir frequently and break any lumps, cook until meat is browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, water and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid is evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and set aside.
  5. Making the bechamel sauce: In a medium saucepan melt the butter and whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring so as to avoid browning. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth and thick. Season with salt, to taste, and whisk in the egg. Stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese and set aside, covered, while you assemble the casserole.
  6. Putting it all together: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large casserole dish and place the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the dish in an even layer. Then layer as follows:
Potato slices
A third of the meat sauce
Half of the eggplant slices 
A third of the meat sauce
3/4 cup of the bechamel sauce 
1/4 cup of the cheese. 
Remaining eggplant slices, pressing down gently to compress. 
Remaining meat sauce
Remaining bechamel sauce evenly 
Sprinkle with the remaining cheese

Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on the top and heated throughout, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares and serve.

Tomato-cucumber-feta salad
In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, basil, olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse (Food network)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Chocolate Fudge

Simple chocolate fudge

Here's a decadent treat for the holidays. Rich creamy simple chocolate fudge involves very less work without compromising the texture and flavor. I like to add walnuts, pecans, pistachios and almonds to mine to give it that extra crunch. You can add any combination of nuts you like. If you find the traditional way of making fudge a difficult task then this recipe is for you. It involves using condensed milk as a ready made sugar syrup base. Use the best quality chocolate you can find, because the final taste will depend on it. I used unsweetened chocolate, but you can choose between semi sweet and bitter sweet.

1 cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
1 can (300 ml) condensed milk
225 gm chocolate (bitter sweet, semi sweet or unsweetened)
1 tbsp butter(unsalted)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Toast the nuts in a pan or oven till lightly brown and fragrant. Cool and chop coarsely. Keep aside. 
  2. Line a square baking pan with foil or parchment paper. 
  3. Combine the condensed milk, chopped chocolate, and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate mixture, stirring frequently. Make sure the mixture doesn't get too hot or the fudge may be grainy. 
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and chopped nuts. 
  5. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Cool at room temperature for about 4-5 hours. 
  6. Remove the fudge from the pan and cut into small pieces. Store in the refrigerator.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Coconut shrimp

Golden, crispy, coconut battered shrimp served with a dipping sauce, a guaranteed party pleaser. Who can resist these bite sized beauties. Serve them as a starter or as lunch with a fruit or berry salad. The quickest easiest way is to deep fry these. The shrimps get cooked in a matter of minutes. Serve them immediately hot and crisp. If you prefer to bake them then follow the baking instructions below. Baked coconut shrimp will not be as golden as the fried version but they do turn out crunchy.  

35-40 raw shrimp, peeled, tail removed and de veined (defrost if using frozen)
1/3 cup all purpose flour seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper
1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 1/4 cup shredded dry unsweetened coconut
oil for frying
  1. Clean and pat the shrimp dry. 
  2. Create a breading station of three components. First seasoned flour, second egg whisked till frothy, third a mixture of panko and coconut well combined. 
  3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Oil level to be high enough for deep frying. Heat oil to about 350-360 F (medium heat). 
  4. Dredge the shrimp in flour and shake off excess. Dip them in egg and finally roll them over the coconut mixture to coat evenly. 
  5. Deep fry in batches till shrimp are crisp and golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. 
  6. Drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve hot with any dipping sauce of your choice. 
  7. To bake instead of frying, place the battered shrimp on a greased cookie sheet. Spray the top of the shrimp with more oil. Bake in the middle rack at 425 F for 10 minutes. Turn and bake for 6-7 minutes more. Serve hot with dipping sauce. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

General Tso's chicken

General Tso's Chicken on veggie brown rice

I am sure you all have seen this very popular chicken dish in every Chinese restaurant across North America. This deep fried spicy and slightly sweet chicken is named after General Tso, a famous Qing Dynasty military hero who is known in China for war not chicken. This dish was created by Chef Peng Chang-kuei in 1950s for a visiting US Navy Admiral, Arthur Radford.

Whatever the story behind it, I just love the taste and when I came across this recipe, I loved it. This version is the better-for-you version than the traditional one. Pair it with veggie brown rice and you have yourselves a complete nutritious delicious meal.

General Tso's Chicken
Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces)
1 Egg
6 tbsp Corn Starch
Vegetable Oil
For the sweet and hot sauce
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Sambal
1 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp frozen Orange Juice concentrate
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
4 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tbsp grated ginger
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and cornstarch. Toss the chicken in the mixture. The cornstarch makes the chicken crispy and keeps the breading from getting soggy. 
  2. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil and sauté the chicken pieces, about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until cooked through. Remove from pan and keep warm. 
  3. Stir together the soy sauce, sambal, honey, orange juice concentrate, and sesame oil. 
  4. Use the same pan. Wipe it clean, add the additional 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Sauté the garlic and ginger for about a minute, until fragrant, and then add the soy sauce mixture. Once boiling, add the chicken and toss to coat. Check seasoning and serve over veggie brown rice.

Veggie Brown Rice
Ingredients: (serves 4)

2 cups Brown Rice, cooked
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
Soy Sauce as per taste
1 tbsp hot sauce
  1. In a small sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and let them brown, untouched for 2 minutes. Turn and cook for another minute. 
  2. Add the green onions, carrots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the cooked brown rice, soy sauce and hot sauce. Toss to coat.

Adapted from Daphne Oz's recipe from The Chew

Friday, November 22, 2013



Chickpea fritters or falafels are well known Middle Eastern street food. Easy to make at home and these can be served in different ways. Serve them with a dip as party appetizers, inside a wrap or pita pocket with all the fix-ins, or just serve them over salad. These pack well for lunch, just keep the yogurt dip separately. A great vegetarian dish.

Falafel with yogurt tahini sauce
1 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
large handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
4-5 cloves garlic finely minced
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chilies, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
To serve
Lettuce leaves
Cucumber slices
Tomato slices
Onion rings
Yogurt tahini sauce(recipe below)
Tortillas for wraps
  1. Coarsely grind soaked chickpeas with very little water so that it forms a thick mixture. 
  2. Add all the other ingredients to this. If your mixture seems too loose to form falafel balls, you can add more than 2 tbsp flour. 
  3. Form round falafel balls for appetizers OR flat cutlets for the wraps. Deep fry or shallow fry and serve hot. 
  4. As a starter - serve falafel balls with a side of fresh salad and yogurt tahini dip. 
  5. As a wrap - warm the tortillas and layer lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion and falafel patties. Drizzle yogurt-tahini sauce and wrap it up, secure with a toothpick.

Tahini yogurt sauce
Falafel wraps
2 tbsp tahini (white sesame paste)
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 large clove garlic grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients and add a few teaspoons of water to get the desired drizzle consistency.

    Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Very Berry walnut salad

    Four berry salad with walnuts, feta and grilled chicken breast, drizzled with orange vinaigrette
    This platter of bright greens, juicy berries, crunchy walnuts, crumbly feta, drizzled with sweet and tangy orange vinaigrette is heaven on a plate. Who knew salads could be sooo much fun. Ever since I had the berry salad at Wendy's I wanted to make a version at home with only the good things. 
    You can customize this salad as per your taste. Use any berries of your choice. Use almonds instead of walnuts. Substitute feta with goats cheese or Asiago cheese. Use grilled shrimp in place of grilled chicken. And finally use any dressing that you like best. Raspberry vinaigrette works well. 
    A great way to enjoy summer (or hold on to summer) in a bowl and pack your body with vitamins and antioxidants.
    For a vegetarian option -  omit the chicken (of course) and pan fry extra firm tofu or paneer chunks and serve over the salad.     

    Ingredients: (serves 4)
    4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    salt to taste
    6 tbsp Cajun spice rub(recipe)
    6 cups mixed greens
    1 cup strawberries, halved
    1 cup blackberries
    1 cup raspberries
    1/2 cup dried cranberries
    1/2 cup walnuts, chopped in small pieces
    2 X 2 inch cube of feta cheese, cubed to bite size pieces 
    Orange vinaigrette (whisk well until combined)
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
    1 tbsp grainy mustard
    1/3 tsp ginger powder
    8-10 mint leaves, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried mint)
    Salt (optional)

    1. Wash and pat dry the chicken breast. Season with salt and then rub the cajun spice rub all over generously. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed, oven safe pan and sear the chicken on both sides. Transfer pan to the oven and bake at 375 F for 10-15 minutes till chicken reaches an internal temperature of 175 F, and is no longer pink. 
    2. Remove from oven and keep covered till ready to serve.
    3. To serve, spread a layer of mixed greens on the plate. Top with all four types of berries and walnuts. Add cheese cubes and fan out sliced cooked chicken breast in the center. Drizzle orange vinaigrette on top and enjoy.   

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Red chili pickle

    Red chili pickle

    Mazzitti variety of peppers are crisp bright red colored beauties, about 1 cm in diameter and 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length. They start off as green fruits and change color to bright red. They have a sun soaked flavour and are moderately hot measuring about 50,000 - 100,000 scoville heat units. Scoville is the standard for measuring heat in a pepper. So the green bell peppers are 0 scoville units and cayenne pepper is rated 35,000.

    One of the best ways to preserve these is to make a pickle. This has been my absolute fave since childhood. With flavors that explode in the mouth like fireworks on New Year’s Eve. My girls just love it. This pickle keeps well for a long time so you can enjoy these beauties throughout the year.

    Mazzitti plant soaking up the sun in our backyard

    250 gm red chilies
    1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds (धनिया)
    1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (जीरा)
    1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (सौंफ)
    1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (मेथी दाना)
    1 tsp onion seeds (कलोंजी)
    1/3 tsp turmeric powder (हल्दी)
    1 tbsp dry mango powder(अमचूर)
    2 tbsp salt
    1/2 cup mustard oil (I used olive oil)
    1. Wash, dry and de-stem the chilies. Chop them roughly into small rings. Add salt and mix well. 
    2. In a hot skillet lightly roast coriander and cumin seeds. Cool. 
    3. In a dry grinder coarsely grind coriander, cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds. 
    4. Mix the ground spices along with everything else to the prepared chilies. 
    5. Put the pickle in clean sterilized glass jar. Make sure the level of oil is till the chilies. If it seems less add a bit more. 
    6. Place the jar in the sun for 3-5 days. After that you can store it in the refrigerator. Keeps for a year.

    Friday, November 1, 2013

    Kumaoni Thali

    Tonight's Menu

    Black turtle beans (भट्ट की दाल)
    Spinach (पलक का कापा)
    Potato stir fr y(आलू के गुटके)
    Green pumpkin (भांग वाला कद्दू)
    Cucumber Raita (खीरे का रायेता)
    Radish and lemon salad (सनी हुई मूली और निम्बू)
    Fried Vadas (उरद के बड़े)
    Pomegranate chutney (दाड़िम की चटनी)
    Poori (पूरी)
    Rice (चावल)
    Kheer (खीर)

    Kumaoni Thali
    Snuggled in the foothills of the majestic Himalayas, Kumaon is located in Uttarakhand, the northern hill province of India . Its cool and fresh mountain breeze , the ethereal Himalayan scenic view , tall swaying Pine and Deodar trees , and the rolling cultivation of hill crops is a captivating sight. Kumaon has its own distinct and impressive tradition , festivals and culture.(source)
    Serving up a traditional Kumaoni thali for Diwali this year. Wishing everyone a very bright and prosperous Diwali.  

    Bhatt ki dal
    Bhatt ki dal
    Soak black turtle beans overnight. Drain and reserve liquid. Take oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and drained beans. Stir fry on medium high for 3-5 minutes. Add the reserved liquid and salt, turmeric, coriander powder and red chili powder. Bring to boil and simmer till beans are cooked through. Make a mixture of 1-2 tbsp rice flour in cold water. Bring heat up to high, Add the flour mixture while stirring to avoid lumps. This will thicken up the liquid. You can add more water and/or rice flour mixture to get the desired consistency of dal. Beans should be fully cooked but with a bite. Tadka - ghee, cumin seeds, pinch hing and jambu 

    Palak ka kaapa
    Palak ka kaapa
    Heat oil in a pan and crackle cumin seeds, hing and coriander seed. Add washed and finely chopped spinach and crushed ginger, green chilies. Add turmeric, salt, coriander powder, red chili powder and mix. Simmer covered till spinach cooks through. Increase heat to high and add 1-2 tbsp crushed tomato.  Cook stirring till tomato is incorporated well and roasted through. Add 3/4 cup water and bring to boil. Make a mixture of 1-2 tbsp rice flour in cold water. Add the flour mixture while stirring to avoid lumps. This will thicken up the liquid. You can add more water and/or rice flour mixture to get the desired consistency of spinach. Adjust seasoning. Tadka - ghee and jambu.

    Bhaang wala hara kaddoo
    Bhaang wala green pumpkin
    Chop green pumpkin into 1 inch pieces. Do not peel, since it is soft. Heat oil in a pan and crackle cumin seeds, coriander seeds, hing and few methi seeds. Add pumpkin, chopped ginger and salt, turmeric powder, dhaniya powder, red chili powder. Mix well and simmer covered till pumpkin cooks through. While this is cooking tame 2 tbsp bhaang seeds. Roast very lightly on hot tava and grind them. When pumpkin is cooked add the bhaang powder and lime juice to taste. Mix and serve garnished with fresh coriander.

    Aloo ke gutke
    Aloo ke gutke
    This is like regular zeera aloo. Heat oil in a pan and crackle cumin seeds and jambu. Add peeled and sliced potatoes. Add turmeric, salt, dhaniya powder, red chilie powder and mix well. Simmer covered and stir occasionally till potatoes cooked through. Increase heat and roast on high to crisp a little. Serve topped with fresh coriander leaves. 

    Urad ke bade
    Urad vadas
    Soak overnight dhuli urad dal. Grind along with ginger, green chilies and hing using very little water into a coarse paste. Add salt to taste , red chili powder and turmeric powder. Deep fry small sized vadas till cooked through. Serve hot. These are made for all the festivals and auspicious occasions in Kumaon and are absolutely yumm.

    Anardane ki chutney
    Anardane ki chutney  
    Grind together 3/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds, black pepper, 1 tsp roasted cumin powder, 1/2 inch piece of ginger, 2 green chilies, a handful each fresh coriander and mint leaves, salt, kala namak, and sugar till they form a nice paste. Adjust the flavor according to your taste. If you are using dry anardana, soak it in warm water for half an hour before proceeding.  The beautiful red color you see here is due to fresh pomegranate seeds. If you are using dried version then the chutney will taste just as good with a greenish hue from the fresh herbs.
    Sani hui mooli, nimbu
    Sani Hui Mooli and Nimbu. (Radish and Lemon with Spices)
    Peel and cut white mooli into thick batons. you need to get large sized lemons for this recipe (galgal). Peel and remove the slices of lemon, roughly chop them. Mix mooli and nimbu together. Grind salt, green chilies and fresh coriander in a hand grinder to get dhaniya namak. this shouldn't be runny. Add this to the salad. Take 2-3 tbsp thick yogurt and add some honey (or sugar). Add this to the salad. Taste to adjust the sweet, salty and sour flavours. Let the flavours blend in for a minimum 2 hours before eating.

    Kheere ka raita
    Kumaoni cucumber raita
    Beat curd till smooth, add grated cucumber, grated ginger, green chilies, salt, turmeric powder, roasted cumin powder, mustard powder(as per taste).

    Find this recipe here.

    Friday, October 25, 2013

    Green green Mutton

    Mutton hara masala
    Juicy and tender pieces of mutton are infused with aromatic spices and enriched with a large amount of greens and herbs to make this delectable curry. Fenugreek, spinach, mint, coriander and dill all contribute their earthy green flavors to the dish. Meat cooks in a gravy infused with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns till tender. Try to use all types of greens here as each has a unique taste. A very impressive dish to serve at your next dinner party with naan, roti or rice. 

    Ingredients: (Generously serves 4)
    2 lb Mutton
    1/3 cup kasuri methi
    1 lb spinach
    1 cup fresh mint leaves
    2 cups fresh coriander
    handful fresh dill
    4-6 green chilies
    2 medium Onions, chopped
    1 tsp garlic paste
    1 tsp ginger paste
    Red chili powder to taste
    1 tsp turmeric powder
    1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
    3 tbsp oil
    Salt to taste
    Whole spices (dry roast and grind coarsely)
    1/2 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds
    1/2 inch cinnamon
    5 cloves
    1 black cardamom
    2 green cardamom
    few peppercorns
    1. Microwave the spinach till it is lightly cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Grind all the fresh greens (cooked spinach along with its water, mint, dill and coriander) into a smooth paste. Keep aside 
    2. Marinate the mutton in yogurt, salt, chili powder and turmeric for 2 hours. 
    3. Heat oil and add coarsely ground spices, saute for 2 seconds. Add kasuri methi and onions and saute till onions turn pink. Add ginger garlic paste and continue to saute till the entire mixture turns light brown. 
    4. Add the marinated mutton and continue frying for another 5-10 minutes. 
    5. Add 1/2 cup water and pressure cook for 10 minutes on simmer after the whistle. 
    6. Once the pressure is released, put the cooker back on low flame and cook the meat until the oil separates, 
    7. Add the ground greens and cook for 3 minutes max to incorporate the green flavor in the meat. If you cook longer then it will change color. 
    8. Serve with roti or naan. 

    Friday, October 18, 2013

    Chicken burrito bowl

    This is a deconstructed burrito, largely inspired by Chipotle's burrito bowl. Rice is aromatic with a wonderful lime flavor, black beans are simmered in garlic and cumin, peppers have a charred grilled taste, corn adds the sweetness. I have listed several toppings and you can choose all or a few to make this your own. Omit chicken to make it vegetarian. 

    Ingredients: (serves 4 generously)
    For the Lime cilantro rice:

    1 cup cooked white rice
    2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
    1 tsp lime zest
    1. Toss the rice with the cilantro and lime zest. Set aside.
    For the Black Beans:
    1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 tsp chili flakes
    1 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp olive oil
    1. Heat olive oil in a pan and add garlic. Saute for 10 seconds and add the drained beans. 
    2. Season with cumin powder and chili flakes. Set aside.

    For the Fajita peppers:
    1 green pepper
    1 red pepper
    1/4 red onion
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    2 tsp oil
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    cracked black pepper
    1. Cut the peppers and onion in long strips. 
    2. In a pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Once hot add garlic and oregano. Saute for 10 seconds and add all the veggies. 
    3. Toss on high heat till they char a little. Season with pepper and salt(optional). Set aside.

    For the Corn:
    1 fresh corn (kernels stripped)
    1 jalapeno minced
    Juice of 1 Lime
    2 tbsp cilantro chopped
    pinch Salt
    1/2 tsp olive oil
    1. Heat oil and toss the corn, jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper together for 2 minutes. 
    2. Remove from heat and keep aside.
    For the Guacamole:
    1 avocados
    Juice and zest of 1 lime
    1 tsp minced garlic
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1. Mash the avocados with the lime juice, garlic, and salt. Season with pepper. Adjust with more lime juice if necessary to taste.
    For the Chicken:
    2 chicken breasts
    Salt to taste
    2 1/2 tsp paprika
    2 tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp black pepper
    1 tsp onion powder
    1 tsp cayenne pepper
    1 tsp dried leaf oregano
    1 tsp dried thyme
    1 tsp roasted cumin powder
    1. Season the chicken breasts with salt. 
    2. Mix all the other spices and coat the seasoned chicken breast generously with the spice mix. 
    3. Grill the marinated chicken on a moderately hot grill till crisp and brown on the outside and fully cooked to the inside. 
    4. Remove from grill. Let rest for 5 minutes. Slice at a diagonal.
    For pico de gallo:
    1 large diced tomato
    1/2 diced medium sized red onion
    1/4 bunch of cilantro (use more or less depending on your taste)
    juice of half a lemon
    1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
    1 tsp of salt
    1 jalapenos (or more if you prefer it hotter)
    1. Mix up all ingredients and keep at room temperature for half an hour to let flavors blend in.
    Other Toppings:
    4 tbsp Sour Cream (I used hung yogurt)
    1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
    Finely chopped Jalapeno pepper
    Hot habanero sauce (optional)
    Shredded iceberg lettuce

    To Assemble:
    1. In a bowl, add a scoop of rice, and top with a scoop of beans, fajita peppers, corn, chicken, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo. Use habanero sauce as per your spice quotient.
    2. Use all or some of the other toppings to make this your own. Many combinations are possible and each family member can get a customized meal.

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    Moong dal halwa

    Moong dal halwa is a traditional sweet dish popular in Rajasthan. It is made during the festive season (Rakshabandhan, Diwali, etc) and for weddings. This delectable combination of coarsely ground moong dal, slow-roasted in ghee with hints of saffron and pistachios makes for an ideal winter dish.

    This calorie dense dish requires a lot of preparation time including patience to roast dal on low heat, but the result is well worth the effort. When making this dish, here are some things to keep in mind.
    1. Grind the moong dal coarsely with as little water as possible to ensure a proper texture of the finished product. 
    2. Addition of a teaspoon each of semolina and chickpea flour, in the beginning, helps to prevent the moong dal from sticking to the bottom of the pan while roasting.  
    3. Always cook and roast at low to medium heat, stirring constantly and patiently. 
    4. Do not skimp on the ghee. It is required for proper roasting and correct texture of the halwa. 
    Ingredients: (5 servings)
    1/2 cup dhuli moong dal (dehusked, washed yellow moong dal)
    1/2 cup clarified butter (ghee)
    1 tsp semolina
    1 tsp besan (chickpea flour)
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup milk
    1 cup water
    Few strands saffron soaked in 1 tbsp milk
    5 green cardamom (skin removed and powdered)
    1 tbsp each almonds and pistachios (crushed)
    1. Soak moong dal for 4 hours. Drain and grind it coarsely using very little water. 
    2. Mix water, milk, and sugar together in a pan and bring to boil. Add saffron and cardamom powder. Keep aside. 
    3. Heat ghee in a pan and add semolina and besan. Roast for a minute, then add the moong dal paste. Roast the contents on a low flame, stirring continuously till it becomes golden brown and imparts a cooked roasted aroma. 
    4. This process requires a lot of patience. So take your time and roast it well. This is the most important part of this recipe. 
    5. Add the warm sugar mixture to the roasted dal and stir continuously to avoid any lumps.  Mix till all the moisture has been absorbed and continue roasting on low heat till ghee separates from the sides. 
    6. Remove from flame and add the chopped nuts. Serve hot.

    Friday, October 4, 2013

    Rajasthani thali

    Tonight's Menu

    Mint lemonade (पुदीना शिकंजी)
    Yogurt (मसाला दही)
    Besan ke gattey (गट्टे की सब्जी)
    Panchmel dal (पंचमेल दाल)
    Besan wali arbi (बेसन वाली अर्बी)
    Patori besani mirch (पटोरी बेसनी मिर्च)
    Garlic chutney (लहसुन की चटनी )
    Papad (पापड़)
    Bikaneri bhujiya (बीकानेरी भुजिया)
    Millet roti (बाजरे की रोटी)
    Rice (चावल)
    Moong dal halwa (मूंग दाल का हल्वा)

    Rajasthani Thali

    Located at the northwest side of India, Rajasthan, with its rich cultural heritage, is a land of vibrant colors, attractive palaces, breath-taking architecture and scrumptious cuisine. Primarily vegetarian, the food and cooking style is hugely influenced by the dry climatic conditions of this desert land and the traditional warrior lifestyle of its inhabitants. 
    Water and fresh green vegetables are at a premium. Most dishes are cooked in minimum amounts of water. Butter, ghee and buttermilk are used liberally. Spice levels are high and red chili both dry and fresh is used in large quantities. They say heat (मिर्ची) beats the heat (गर्मी). Gram flour (बेसन) is one of the key ingredient used in a number of dishes such as gattey (गट्टे की सब्जी), kadhi (कढ़ी), Mirch pakoda(मिर्ची के पकोड़े). Legumes and pulses are used in a variety of ways such as panchmel dal, mangori (मंगोड़ी). Popular veggies are ker sangri (केर सांगरी) and guar phali (गार की फली). Sweet dishes form a significant part of Rajasthani delicacies. In fact when the meal is served, sweets arrive first. Ghevar(घेवर) of Jaipur, mava kachori(मावा कचोरी) of Jodhpur, malpua(मालपुआ) of Pushkar, sohan halwa(सोहन हलवा) of Ajmer are the most well known. Spicy and tangy accompaniments to enhance your taste buds include garlic chutney(लहसुन की चटनी), tomato chutney (टमाटर लौंजी), mint chutney (पोदीने की चटनी), mango chutney (आम की लौंजी). 

    Besan ke gattey
    Panchmel dal
    Panchmel dal
    Ingredients: (serves 6)
    1/4 cup chana dal (Split Bengal gram)
    1/4 cup sabut moong dal (Whole green grams)
    1/4 cup dhuli urad dal (Split black gram skinless)
    1/4 cup toor/arhar dal (
    Split pigeon pea
    1/4 cup masoor dal (Whole red lentils)
    Salt to taste
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder 

    1 tsp coriander powder 
    1 tsp green chilli-ginger paste
    1 tbsp Oil

    2 tsp ghee
    Pinch hing (Asafoetida)
    1/2 tsp cumin seeds Cumin seeds
    4-5 whole cloves
    2 dried red chilies broken
    Red chili powder to taste
    2 medium tomatoes chopped
    1/4 tsp garam masala powder
    Fresh coriander leaves chopped

    • Soak dals in 4 cups of water for minimum two hours. 
    • Take soaked dals with the water in a pressure cooker and add turmeric, salt, oil,  coriander powder and chili ginger paste. Pressure cook till done (simmer for 15 minutes after the whistle).
    • Heat ghee in a pan. Add asafoetida, cumin seeds, cloves and dry red chilies  When cumin seeds start to change color, add tomatoes and saute till oil leaves the side of the pan. 
    • Add red chili powder and the cooked dals, and water if required. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring well. Add garam masala powder and serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.

    Besan wali Arbi (बेसन वाली अर्बी)
    Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
    1 lb Arbi (Colocasia - Taro Root)
    2 tbsp gram flour(बेसन)
    salt to taste
    1/2 tsp dry mango powder(अमचूर)
    red chili powder to taste
    1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    1 tsp coriander powder
    Oil for frying
    Lime juice to taste
    fresh coriander chopped to serve
    For baghaar (तड़का)
    1 tsp oil
    3/4 tsp carom seeds (अज्वैन)
    1/2 inch ginger julienne 
    fresh green chili (optional)
    • Thoroughly wash arbi and place in a pressure cooker with some water to boil. Turn off the heat after 1 whistle and let the steam escape on its own before opening the cooker.
    • Let the boiled arbi cool enough to handle comfortably.
    • Meanwhile in a shallow dish mix together gram flour, salt, chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and dry mango powder.
    • Peel boiled arbi and slice them into thin rounds. Dunk each slice in the prepared spice mixture and keep aside.
    • Shallow fry these slices on both sides till crisp. Do not overcrowd the pan.
    • At this stage you can serve these as a crisp snack. OR
    • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add carom seeds, roast for 2-3 seconds, add ginger and green chili followed by fried arbi slices. 
    • Turn off the heat and sprinkle lime juice. Mix well. Serve garnished with fresh chopped coriander.
    Patori besani mirch
    Bajre ki roti (pearl millet)
    Bajre ki roti
    Ingredients: (makes 8 large)
    1 1/2 cups bajra flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    salt to taste
    Extra dry flour to roll the dough
    Butter or ghee to serve
    • Take the two flours in a deep bowl and add salt.
    • Use water as needed to make a smooth and pliable dough. Knead for 2-3 minutes and let it rest covered in a damp paper towel for 5 minutes. 
    • Divide the dough in to 8 equal portions and roll them in in your palm into a smooth ball, flatten.
    • Press the dough in dry flour and using a rolling pin roll them into thick 6" diameter circles.
    • Cook these on a hot tava (griddle) till both sides turn golden brown. Press lightly with a spatula to help even heat distribution. 
    • Serve with a dollop of white butter and lehsun ki chutney (see below).
    Lehsun ki chutney (chillie garlic chutney)
    Lehsun ki chutney (chillie garlic chutney)
    5 fresh red chillies
    4-5 cloves garlic
    1 tsp olive oil
    Blend all the ingredients to make a fine paste.  If required use very little water. Enjoy with bajra roti (above).

    Friday, September 27, 2013

    Habanero Sauce

    Habanero Orange

    Look at all these gems I harvested from my backyard. It has been a chili-fest at home ever since the 10 plants started bearing green, yellow, orange and red colored fruits. We planted three varieties this year- Mazzetti, Habanero and Naga Jalokia.

    Habanero Orange variety of peppers are crinkled bright orange colored beauties, about 1 inch in diameter and 1 1/2 inches in length. They start off as light green fruits and take about 60-65 days to change the color to orange. They are also slow at the germination stage but oh! boy are they worth the wait. They have a distinct smoky taste and are dangerously hot measuring about 200,000 - 300,000 scoville heat units. Scoville is the standard for measuring heat in a pepper. So the green bell peppers are 0 scoville units and cayenne pepper is rated 35,000, just to give you an idea about the heat level.

    Storing and preserving these gems is important because it it impossible to consume these in a hurry. You can wash, dry and then freeze them in a heavy duty freezer bag for future use. Making a hot sauce is another way. This can be used in marinades, sandwiches, burgers, burritos, etc.
    Habanero plant in our backyard, soaking the sun

    15 habanero chilies
    1 small onion
    3-4 cloves of garlic
    250 ml white vinegar
    2 cloves(optional)
    1/2 tsp sugar
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1. Chop the onion and chilies (using gloves). 
    2. Take the first four ingredients and blend them together to form a smooth puree. 
    3. Transfer puree to a pan and bring to boil with whole cloves. 
    4. Cook on high for 4-5 minutes. Be careful to not breathe over the boiling liquid. It is extremely intense. 
    5. Adjust seasoning. Cool. 
    6. Transfer to a clean sterilized air tight glass jar. Will keep for 4-6 months.

    Habanero Sauce
    Use gloves while chopping chilies

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    Mango Shrikhand

    Mango shrikhand

    This creamy delicacy is made from hung yogurt and flavoring agents such as saffron, cardamom. A few simple steps transform this into a delicious indulgence making it a choice for weekend and festive meals. Add fruit for added variety. A must try for all.

    Ingredients: (serves 4)
    1 1/2 cup Hung yogurt (see below)
    3/4 cup mango pulp
    Sugar to taste (I added 3 tbsp)
    3-4 strands saffron in 1 tsp milk
    1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
    Handful almonds and pistachios to garnish
    Mix all ingredients together for a few minutes till sugar combines well with everything.
    Chill for 2-3 hours and serve garnished with almonds and pistachio.

    How to make hung yogurt
    Place a sieve lined with cheese cloth over a bowl. Put 2 cups of plain yogurt (yields 1 1/2 cups of hung yogurt) on the cheese cloth, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight (minimum 4-5 hours). All the water from the yogurt will filter out into the bowl leaving a thick creamy hung yogurt perfect for shrikhand.

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    Methi Thepla

    Methi Theple

    Thepla is a delicious nutritious flat bread inherent to Gujarati cuisine. It is a fave item for picnics and long train journeys as it keeps well at room temps for a long time. Soft thepla rolled up in mango pickle or chhunda with a cup of hot tea just hits the spot. Here's how you can make your own.

    Ingredients: (makes 12-15)
    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup besan (gram flour)
    2 tbsp oil
    1/4 cup plain yogurt
    1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
    1/2 cup kasuri methi OR 2 cups fresh methi chopped fine
    finely chopped green chilies to taste
    salt to taste
    Red chili powder to taste
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/2 tsp cumin powder
    1/2 tsp ajwain seeds
    1 tbsp sesame seeds
    Extra dry flour to roll the dough
    Oil to cook the theplas
    1. Take the two flours in a deep bowl and add methi, ginger, chilies, red chili, salt, turmeric, cumin, sesame and ajwain. 
    2. Add oil and yogurt and incorporate them evenly in the mixture. Use water as needed to make a smooth and pliable dough. Knead for 2-3 minutes and let it rest covered in a damp paper towel for 10 minutes. 
    3. Divide the dough in to 12-15 equal portions and roll them in in your palm into a smooth ball, flatten. 
    4. Press the dough in dry flour and using a rolling pin roll them into thin 5"-6" diameter circles. 
    5. Heat a non stick skillet on medium high. Place the rolled out dough on it. Turn after 30 seconds. The semi-cooked side should have a few brown spots. Spread 1/2 - 1 tsp oil on the top side and press down with a spatula to distribute the heat and ensure even cooking. Turn and spread oil on this side as well and turn again till both sides re cooked and golden. 
    6. Serve hot with Chhunda. 
    7. These will keep well at room temperature for 2 days. They also freeze well. 

    1. Omit methi and proceed for a plain thepla. 
    2. Add a ripe mashed banana to the dough while kneading and omit oil. This will keep the thepla soft and give a slight sweet taste. 
    3. Substitute 1 cup grated lauki(bottle gaurd), or 1 cup grated radish for methi. Be aware that these veggies will contain more water content than methi and you might need just a few sprinkles to knead the dough. 
    4. Substitute ajwain seeds with 1/2 tsp white sesame seeds for a flavor variation.