Friday, July 29, 2016

Fish cakes

This simple recipe calls for the simplest of ingredients. Combine cooked salmon with some mashed potatoes and herbs, shape into round cakes and pan fry till golden brown. Tastes awesome with tartar sauce and hot sauce if you like it spicy.
A versatile dish, it can be served as a starter, as a light lunch with a green salad, inside toasted buns with veggies and tartar sauce as a burger. Here are some serving suggestions and variations of the basic recipe.

  1. Add mashed peas and leeks to the mixture before shaping and cooking, for a flavor variation. 
  2. Substitute chives for dill, omit ginger and add some Parmesan cheese to the mixture.
  3. Dust the fishcakes with flour, dip in some whipped egg and then coat with some flaked almonds before frying. 
  4. Make these with tuna, haddock or cod instead of salmon.
  5. Make small sized fish cakes and serve as a starter with your choice of dip. They taste awesome with tartar sauce or if you like it spicy, sriracha sauce. 
  6. Serve with a poached egg on top drizzled with Hollandaise sauce.
  7. Serve these inside toasted buns with onion, tomato and lettuce with a drizzle of tartar sauce as a burger. 
  8. Serve alongside salad greens as a light lunch. 
  9. Cooked fishcakes are perfect for freezing. Put them in a freezer friendly box with parchment paper separating the layers. When you defrost them, lay them out in a single layer so that they don’t get soggy. Heat them in the oven at 400 F till heated through and crisp.
Basic Salmon Fish Cakes
Ingredients: (Makes 10)
1 lb cooked salmon
2 medium boiled potatoes
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated garlic
3-4 Thai chilies, chopped fine
1 egg
1 bunch green onions, chopped fine
1/2 tsp lime zest
1 tsp fresh dill (optional)
Handful fresh coriander, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp panko
Oil for shallow frying
  1. For the cooked salmon you can poach fresh salmon fillets and then flake them or use canned salmon. 
  2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and gently mix together to blend all the flavors. Do not over mix. 
  3. Divide into 10 portions and shape into 1/4 inch thick patties. 
  4. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the fish cakes in batches until they are golden brown on both sides, and the fish cakes are hot in the center, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  6. Serve hot with your choice of dip. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tequila lime chicken tacos

It is always great fun to cook with alcohol and this tequila lime marinade is super flavorful and super quick to make. You can play around with the ingredients to change the flavor profile as per your taste. The fresh ingredients in the marinade - jalapeños and coriander, give the green summer feel. Tequila lime chicken is a very versatile ingredient to have at hand. You can use it in tacos, burritos, sandwiches and it goes great as a topping for those lunch salads or light meals.
Olive and tomato salsa gets a briny boost from the olives and the red cabbage slaw gives a color boost to the tacos. All together wrapped inside a crisp corn tortilla - a quick and easy delish taco meal.

Tequila lime chicken Tacos
Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 small corn tortillas
Tequila lime chicken, sliced
Red cabbage slaw (Recipe below)
Tomato olive salsa (Recipe below)
Shredded cheese (optional)
Jalapeno pepper rings
  1. Warm the tortillas till lightly crisp
  2.  Pile on chicken strips, slaw and salsa on the tortilla
  3.  Top with cheese and jalapeno pepper rings. Serve hot.

Tequila lime chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp tequila
1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 jalapeno pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated
4-5 stalks of fresh coriander
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend to form a smooth marinade.
  2. Pound the chicken breasts to an even 1/2-inch thickness. You can do this in a zip-lock bag or between two sheets of plastic wrap. This helps tenderizes the meat and ensures it cooks evenly.
  3. Marinate the chicken breasts in the prepared marinade for a minimum of 4 hours.
  4. Grill on medium high till cooked through.
  5. Rest covered for 10 minutes. Slice and keep aside till ready to serve.

 Red Cabbage slaw
1/4 medium red cabbage
2 small carrots
1/2 medium red Onion
Handful fresh coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large clove of garlic, grated fine
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1-2 tbsp olive oil
  1. Core and shred the cabbage fine and chop coriander. Grate carrots and thinly julienne red onions. Toss together.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lime juice and zest, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Add the dressing to the veggies and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Fresh tomato and olive salsa
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander
1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
1 garlic minced
5-6 green pitted olives, chopped
Salt and pepper
Juice and zest of 1 lime
  1. In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients. 
  2. Let sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fish tacos with mango avocado salsa

Tonight's dinner
Cajun grilled fish tacos
Mango avocado salsa
Sour cream topping (optional)

Tacos are by far my favorite things to serve during summer. There is less cooking involved, only a whole bunch of chopping and prepping. All the things can be made in advance and then assembled just before serving. If you have to feed a crowd, just prep it all and create a taco bar for everyone to assemble their own tacos. Don't forget the margaritas.  
I love serving sweet fruity salsas with spicy grilled seafood and during summer and there are a lot of delicious fruits to choose from. These Cajun spiced fish tacos with mango avocado salsa are spicy, full of awesome flavor and totally delicious. The Cajun spice rub gives the fish an incredible smoky and spicy taste. The sweet and sour mango avocado salsa adds the summer to the dish. If you have a high spice quotient then add extra jalapeno pepper rings and a few extra dashes of lime juice. really brings out all the flavors.    

Fish tacos with mango avocado salsa
Corn tortillas
Cajun spiced Salmon fillets (recipe below)
Shredded cabbage
Mango avocado salsa (recipe below)
Sour cream (or plain hung yogurt)
Lime wedges 
  1. Heat the tortillas till lightly toasted.
  2. Place shredded cabbage inside the tortilla, followed by Cajun spiced fish.
  3. Top with mango avocado salsa and sour cream.
  4. Give a little sprinkle of lime and serve with extra salsa.

Cajun spiced salmon
Salmon fillets 
Salt to taste
Olive oil
Cajun spice (recipe here)
  1. Season the salmon fillets with salt on both sides. Rub the fillets with cajun spice rub and keep aside for 10 minutes. 
  2. Spray with olive oil and grill till cooked through. Serve inside corn tortillas with mango avocado salsa. 

Mango avocado salsa

2 ripe mangoes
2 avocados
1 small red onion
Handful fresh cilantro
Few leaves of fresh mint
2-3 jalapeño peppers
Salt to taste
Lime juice
  1. Cut mango and avocado into small bite sized pieces. Thinly slice onion and chop jalapeño, cilantro and mint fine. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients. Chill for an hour to blend the flavors. Serve cold.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Jerk chicken skewers

Tonight's Menu
Jerk chicken skewers
Grilled pineapple slices
Veggie kebabs
Cilantro lime rice

Jerk style of cooking means Jamaican BBQ. Traditionally chicken and pork are cooked with the jerk seasoning which gets its distinctive taste from allspice and scotch bonnet peppers. Jerk seasoning could be made as a dry rub or a wet marinade and uses several spices as listed below. Traditionally Jerk meat was cooked in smoked pit fires imparting a distinctive smokey taste. Over time this technique evolved and oil barrels were used as smokers to save time.
You can use jerk seasoning to marinate any kind of meat. The longer the meat sits in the marinade the better it tastes. If using fish marinate only for 15-20 minutes. For chicken I recommend a minimum of 4 hours.
Serve the jerk chicken kebabs on lime cilantro rice. The addition of fresh herbs and lime zest really makes the rice aromatic and taste awesome. Add some seasonal grilled veggies flavored with mint and some grilled pineapple for that tropical feel. 

Jerk chicken skewers
2 lbs chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
2 scotch bonnet peppers (or less as per your spice quotient)
1 stalk green onion, chopped
1 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp allspice
1 tsp dry thyme
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sugar
salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Take all the ingredients for marinade in a food processor and blend to form a smooth paste. Add a splash of rum (optional) and mix well.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into small bite sized pieces and pour the marinade over them. Mix well and cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. 
  3. If you are using wooden skewers then soak them for an hour before threading the marinated chicken into them. 
  4. Grill on medium high till all cooked through. Serve hot over rice alongside grilled veggies and pineapple. 
Grilled Vegetables and pineapple
Veggies of your choice. I used
Yellow zucchini
Cherry tomatoes
  1. Cut the veggies into chunky pieces. 
  2. Marinate them in a concoction of olive oil, lemon juice, pinch salt and pepper, dry mint and dry oregano. 
  3. Thread these on to the skewers and grill on high till tender crisp. 
  4. Grill chunky pineapple slices on the hot grill and serve alongside the vegetables. 
Cilantro lime rice
2 cup white rice
4 cups water
Salt to taste
Handful cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp lime zest
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Wash and drain the rice.
  2. Place in a saucepan and add all the other ingredients. Stir to mix well.
  3. Cook till water comes to a rolling boil. Simmer and the cook covered for 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff up with a fork. Keep covered till ready to serve.
  4. Microwave method - Put all the ingredients in a large microwave safe dish. Make sure the dish is large enough so that the starchy liquid  does not to boil over. Cook on high uncovered for 16-18 minutes. (These guidelines are for a 1000 watt Microwave, so cooking time can vary). Remove from heat and fluff up with a fork. Keep covered till ready to serve.

Friday, July 1, 2016

20 delicious recipes for the Year of the pulse

Image source
The United Nations declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses with the aim to increase the awareness of the innumerable benefits of pulses. Pulses, also known as grain legumes, are a group of 12 crops that includes dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils. Pulses have an excellent nutritional profile, are extremely affordable, environmentally sustainable and have the potential to address the global food security. Here is a peek into the world of pulses.

Nutritional profile
  • Lentils are a good source of protein (deliver double the protein per serving of quinoa). So they have the potential for being the primary source of protein for those on a vegetarian and vegan diets. Sprouted pulses and beans have even an higher protein content than non sprouted.  
  • Excellent source of fiber (all pulses have four times more fiber than brown rice).
  • Rich in folic acid, iron and potassium. 
  • High in antioxidants (per serving, red kidney beans have higher antioxidant content than blueberries and pomegranate juice)
  • Are gluten-free, so great for those on special diets.
  • Sodium and cholesterol-free.

Environmental benefits - Lentils and pulses are environmentally sustainable crops. Have a look at the following benefits of farming these crops.
  • Pulse crops are natural fertilizers. They enrich the soil by fixing the nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. 
  • They can grow in harsh environments (drought tolerant and frost hardy). 
  • Have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any food group.
  • Require little or no irrigation - so very water efficient.

Pulses are one of the most cost-effective proteins around, enjoyed by people around the world as a food staple. India has over 60 varieties of pulses which provides the primary source of protein for her millions of vegetarians. Pulses have a long shelf life, so can always be at hand regardless of the season.

Versatile and delicious
Pulses and legumes make for extremely versatile ingredients for curries, stuffing, appetizers and more. Here are 20 delicious recipes using beans and legumes ranging from appetizer dishes to lunch bowls, dinner dishes and more. In case of whole beans and pulses, soaking overnight is recommended. This considerably reduces the cooking time. Use of pressure cooker can also help cook beans very fast. Rinsing the soaked beans can get rid of some of the starch content (also some nutrients). Adding aromatics such as ginger and garlic while cooking can not only enhance flavor but also combat flatulence.


1. Green beans and Bengal gram stir fry (बीन्स और चना दाल)
This recipe here is a combination of green beans and split Bengal gram. The soaked and toasted pulse adds a wonderful texture to the dish and tastes great with roti. Make a wrap with this stir fry ans salsa and a hint of cheese for a delicious lunch.

2. Skinned black gram and green onion stir fry (धुली उरद और हरा प्याज़)
Ivory White Lentils are split and skinned Black Lentils. These creamy white tiny seeds have a mild, earthy flavor. They are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. There is no need to soak them as they cook quite quickly. Use them in soups, stews, stir-fry, spreads and dips.

3. Long squash and split peas curry (घिया और चना दाल)
This dish is a combination of split peas and long squash. This cylindrical-shape vegetable has a smooth light green skin and encases a creamy white flesh with petite seeds. Cooked with herbs and spices in an onion tomato curry base this is a hearty dish paired with steamed rice and is perfect for those cold winter eves.

4. Fenugreek and mung dumplings (मेथी मंगौड़ी)
A unique very earthy and rustic dish from the Marwadi kitchen. This lip smacking stir fry can be made in minutes and adds a multitude of flavor to the dinner table.

5. Cabbage and Bengal gram stir fry (पत्ता गोभी और चना दाल)
Combining cabbage with a pulse ups its protein and fiber content and enhances the flavor. Pair with roti and a side dish of raita.

6. Split red gram with spinach and fenugreek (पालक मेथी वाली अरहर दाल)

Earthy with the goodness of leafy greens. Serve with rice and plain yogurt for a very satisfying lunch. A real comfort food for those lazy days.

    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. Omit chicken to make it vegetarian. 

    Sprouting beans increases their nutritive value by decreasing their calorific content by 15%, increasing their protein availability by 30% and increasing their vitamin A, B, C content by an astounding amount. Sprouts are rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Sprouts should preferably be eaten raw or briefly steamed lest they loose much of the vitamins.

    This salad has nutrition galore and makes a great lunch or side dish. Add some lime juice to avocado to prevent discoloration. Prepare the salad complete with dressing and pack for lunch with an ice pack or prepare salad and dressing separately and pack for lunch in separate containers. Toss with the dressing just before eating . 

    This salad recipe makes for an excellent lunch for school and work. Can be eaten cold, warm or at room temperature.

    These Mexican - inspired stuffed green peppers are filled with a blend of brown rice, black beans and corn. They are hearty, delish and a great option for a vegetarian meal. You can use Poblano peppers instead of the sweet green ones or even multi colored peppers for a pretty presentation. 

    This recipe here has a great blend of flavors with mint and lime juice. The sweet and tart cranberries add the perfect punch and color.  

    13. Falafal 
    Chick pea 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.

    Savory, tangy, spicy little fried dumplings. Moong dal pakoda or ram laddoo, a popular street food in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, are fried nuggets made of moong dal, served with a generous helping of grated radish, sweet tamarind chutney and spicy mint coriander chutney. A great starter to serve at your next party. 

    Rajma chawal, the famous duo is a Punjabi (North Indian) comfort food. Curried red kidney beans served on a bed of steamed rice hits the spot on a cold wet evening. A perfect one dish meal for Sunday lunch.

    Curried dry yellow peas smoking hot with an assortment of sides - onion tomato salsa, green chilies, lemon slices served with baked kulchas. 

    17. Curried Black gram
    Fibre rich, high in iron and protein. 
    1 1/2 cup Black bengal gram whole soaked overnight
    2 large tomatoes pureed
    1 inch ginger grated
    salt to taste
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1 tbs coriander powder
    red chili powder
    2 tbs canola oil
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    2-3 whole cloves
    1. In a pressure cooker pour oil. whet hot add cumin seeds and cloves and let them sputter for 10-15 seconds.
    2. Add tomato puree and ginger and all the spices. Mix well and stir for 2 minutes till tomatoes cook a little.
    3. Now add the chane along with the water. Since its a dry dish make sure water is levelled with the chane in the pressure cooker so that its enough to not burn the dish but isn't too much to make it runny.
    4. Mix well and close the lid. When the pressure cooker whistles, reduce the heat to low and cook for 25-30 minutes.
    5. Remove from heat and carefully open the lid. If there is excess water then cook on high while constantly stirring till the water evaporates and chane leave some oil along the sides.
    6. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with poori or roti.

    18. Curried Chickpeas (Pindi choley)
    Named after its city of origin "Rawalpindi" this dish is a big favorite in our house. Original recipe calls for a lot more oil and very little water. I have modified it a bit to suit our needs without compromising the taste. This curried dish is different from other Indian curries as in the absence of onion and tomato. The dark color is due to the anardana (crushed pomegranate seeds) which also gives it a slight sour flavor.
    Ingredients: (serves 4)
    1 cup Chickpeas soaked overnight and drained
    3 cups water
    salt to taste
    11/2 tbsp coriander powder
    1 tbsp anardana (pomegranate seeds) powder 
    1 tsp cumin powder
    1tsp garam masala
    1/4 tsp black pepper powder
    red chili powder to taste
    1 tbsp oil
    2 cloves whole
    1 small cinnamon stick
    1 black cardamom whole
    1. In a pressure cooker put soaked and drained chickpeas along with salt. Cook on high till the first whistle, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
    2. While the chickpeas are boiling take the rest of the powered spices in a moderately hot pan and dry roast on medium high heat till the color changes to a darker brown and the spices impart a gentle roasted aroma.
    3. Wait for 10 minutes before opening the pressure cooker. Now add the roasted spices to the boiled choley and mix well. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors blend in.
    4. In another pan heat oil and add the whole spices. Let sputter for 30 seconds and carefully add the spiced choley to it.
    5. Cook on high while stirring constantly for about 5-7 minutes. If the dish looks too dry add some water. Remember that chickpeas are very high in fiber and absorb a lot of moisture. So if you serving the dish after some time make sure to adjust its consistency before serving by adding some boiling hot water.
    6. Garnish with sliced red onions and slit green chilies.
    7. Serve with Naan, poori or roti.

    A wonderful dish for Sunday lunch. This one pot meal is sure to be a hit around the table as it combines the earthiness of chickpeas with the rich vibrancy of achari (pickle) flavors. Addition of fennel and nigella seeds adds the pickle like taste while the bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon add the pulao flavors. Serve with a refreshing mixed salad raita and a crunchy papad.

    This is a very simple lunch idea but is a complete meal on its own.  Serve with plain yogurt for a refreshing and wholesome combo.