Friday, April 21, 2017

8 hearty Buddha bowls

Macro bowls, hippie bowls, Buddha bowls, rainbow bowls...... many names for this amazingly beautiful, colorful and delicious assembly of nutritious food. Make one of these versatile bowls for any meal - breakfast, lunch or dinner. Start with a healthy grain and top with some protein, add some colorful roasted/sauteed veggies, add something raw for freshness, and drizzle with a dressing or dip to tie all the flavors together. Lastly sprinkle something for texture. 

There are actually no rules to assembling these awesome bowls. Choose foods from several food groups and be sure to include a variety of colors and textures for a nutritious and aesthetically pleasing ensemble. So you can add all your favorite ingredients and incorporate flavors you love. Experiment with herbs, spices and dressings and design combinations that suit your family's taste buds. For dinner you can lay out all the different components on the table and allow each family member to assemble their own meal. This is especially fun for kids. 

Here is a simple guide to get you started on making your very own Buddha Bowls.
Grains - Choose from wheat, oats, any type of rice, barley, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, couscous and corn. Great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. 
Protein - Choose from Chicken, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, etc. 
Cooked veggies - Roast, steam or saute leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens), broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, eggplant slices, peas, carrots, cauliflower. Flavor with garlic powder, paprika, ground cumin, herbs, salt. For extra filling roast sweet potato, potato, yams, pumpkin, raw banana or plantain.  
Raw stuff - Add freshness by choosing fresh fruits and veggies. Cut up veggies such as radish, tomatoes, celery, avocado, beets, cucumber, carrot, bean sprouts, baby spinach, mixed salad greens. Include seasonal fruit like mango, berries, orange, pineapple, grapes, pomegranate, kiwi, fresh figs and apple.
Extras - Add toppings for varied texture and flavor. Include any of these - nuts and seeds; dried fruit like apricots, figs, cranberries; your favorite cheese such as feta, cheddar; pickled stuff like olives, peppers. 
Dressing - Any dressing and/or sauce of your choice. Some examples are simple vinaigrette, hummus, guacamole, tapenade, pesto sauce, salsa, mint chutney, maple syrup, honey.    
Here are some that I created for my family in the past weeks. Get assembling and have fun. Enjoy your healthy and delicious bowl.

Quinoa Buddha Bowl
Green Quinoa with kale, roasted yam slices, baby spinach, pineapple, beets, olives and jalapeno peppers with hummus and a sprinkle of lime juice. Healthy hearty lunch bowl.
To make the quinoa, add some chopped kale to the boiling quinoa pan along with seasoning and a drizzle of olive oil. Peel and slice the yams, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and oregano and roast them in the oven at 400 F for 20 minutes.

Soba noodles Bowl
Soba noodles are spaghetti like Japanese noodles made of either all buckwheat flour or a combination of wheat and buckwheat. Cook them according to package directions and then flavor them with sesame oil, soy sauce and sriracha sauce. In this lovely and delicious bowl I have soba noodles with shredded carrots, sauteed mushrooms and roasted broccoli, steamed edamame, roasted peanuts and a small hot Thai chili, all drizzled with a heaped tablespoon of teriyaki sauce and sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds. This one will satisfy you to the core.

Falafel Buddha Bowl
Chick pea fritters or falafels, the well known Middle eastern street food. Easy to make at home and 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. In this bowl I have mixed greens, carrots, cucumber, tomato slices, avocado and kiwi.
A healthy wholesome vegetarian lunch option.
Detailed recipe for falafels here

Zucchini Fritters
My take on the zucchini fritters, using ingredients from the Indian pantry and keeping it strictly vegetarian. These quick and easy savory pancakes are perfect for breakfast or snack or as a component of my vegetarian Buddha lunch bowl. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream flavored with garlic and herbs. A few handful of ingredients and you get yourself a wholesome platter of goodness.
Detailed recipe here.

Cedar planked Tilapia
Fish cooks in its own moist juices, infused with the sweet smokiness of the cedar plank. A must try recipe this summer. Here I marinated tilapia fillets with olive oil and mustard. To balance the tartness of the mustard I drizzled a little ice wine syrup. The light sweetness of this syrup tastes awesome on this smoked grilled tilapia. Serve over crisp lettuce with grilled broccoli and mushrooms and a side of pineapple wedges. A totally wholesome and delicious lunch Buddha bowl.
Detailed recipe here.
Tofu Buddha bowl 
This here is an assembly of all things you love. Pan fried seasoned firm tofu flavored with your favorite spice/marinade and a bunch of raw produce. I have cucumber and carrot sticks, ripe mango chunks, sauteed corn and figs with guacamole and peanut garlic hot sauce. 
Fish in ginger garlic sauce, braised Bok choy
If you like Mandarin style Chinese food then this is a fare you will love. The simplicity of the dishes and the combination of flavors just delights the palette. Makes you feel good about consuming so many veggies. The crunchy stalks of Bok choy are crisp with a subtle peppery flavor. A great source of vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. Use a firm white fish for this recipe catfish, snapper, tilapia or halibut. 
Find the detailed recipe here.

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. Tangy salsa, creamy guacamole and a dollop of sour cream makes this a meal to relish. Don't forget the pickled banana peppers. For a taste variation try a different cheese such as feta or Havarti. 
Detailed recipe here

Vegetarian Burrito Bowl
This one here has herbaceous brown rice, garlic and cumin flavored black beans, grilled multi colored peppers, pico de gallo, few slices of tangerine, cubed feta and hot pickled banana pepper. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Salsa all the way

Spring is the season for warm sunshine, charming sounds of twittering birds and humming bees, colorful blooms, green leaves and little shoots on the bare branches. It also marks a start to the barbecue season. So while you prep your yard and grill, here are a few recipes to get you started this spring. These salsas will complement any grilled meat, fish and veggies.

Salsa is Spanish for sauce. Chunky or smooth, it is a great accompaniment to grilled fish and meat, wraps and fajitas, and tastes awesome with chips. There are many types of salsas. Tomato based salsas, fruit salsas and vegetable salsas. Make them mild or hot, based on your spice quotient. Here are a few of my faves.

Types of salsa
Salsa Ranchero: Red, tomato-based with taste of cilantro and garlic. Spice can vary from mild to very hot. Usually served warm to provide full flavor.
Salsa verde: Tomatillos give the color and flavor for this salsa. Can be prepared with raw tomatoes or with roasted for an enhanced flavor.
Tomato-based chunky salsas: Most tomato-based salsas are a mixture of tomatoes, onions, peppers and spices. Cilantro and jalapenos are used to spice it up.
Vegetable Salsas: Popular vegetables for salsa include corn, dried beans and peas, sweet peppers, avocados, sweet potatoes and olives. Use them as starters or as a salad, serve over rice or inside a wrap.
Fruit Salsas: The combination of hot and sweet is a fave with our family. You can use just about any fruits for the fruit based salsas but the tropical fruits taste the best (e.g. pineapples, mangoes, citrus fruits and papayas). You can also use fresh berries such as strawberries and raspberries, and other fruits such as pomegranate, watermelon, pears and peaches. I do not recommend using frozen fruits because the texture will be affected and the flavor dilutes as the fruit defrosts. Fruit salsas should be served cold.

Pico de gallo (or salsa fresca)
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)

Mix up all ingredients and keep at room temperature for half an hour to let flavors blend in.

Spicy fresh pineapple salsa

1/2 a pineapple cored, chopped to bite sized pieces
1 large red pepper chopped
1/2 red onion chopped
Handful of fresh mint leaves chopped
2 jalapeños, stemmed and minced
1⁄4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Mix all the ingredients together and chill for 2 hours. Serve at room temperature over the grilled fish.
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.
Mango salsa

3 mangoes cubed into ½ inch pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
1 Thai chili, finely chopped
Handful fresh coriander , chopped roughly
1 red pepper, chopped into ¼ inch cubes
bunch fresh mint, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything, cover and chill for an 30 minutes before serving

Citrus Salsa

2 ruby red grapefruits
2 navel oranges
1 small red onion
Handful fresh mint and coriander
1 jalapeno pepper
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Peel and chop the grapefruit and oranges into small bite sized pieces. Do this in a bowl to catch all the juices that will flow as a result of chopping.
  2. Chop onion, jalapeno, mint and coriander.
  3. Add these to the chopped citrus fruit. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  4. Taste. If the fruit is sour enough then your salsa is ready. Sometimes the oranges and grapefruit are sweeter than you want. In that case add some lime juice to taste. Cover.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Salsa Ranchero
This earthy salsa is traditionally pounded to a smooth paste in a mortar and pestle, but a food processor works just as well.
1 lb tomatoes
4 hot chilies (serrano/jalapeños)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt to taste
Handful finely chopped cilantro
1⁄2 onion, chopped fine
1 lemon, juice and zest
  1. Use 4 or less chilies based on your spice quotient.
  2. Place tomatoes, chilies and garlic on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil on high. 
  3. Turn them often. Cook till you see charring (blackened spots) and everything cooks through about 10-15 minutes. 
  4. Chilies and garlic will be done before the tomatoes. Remove as each ingredient is done. Cool.  
  5. Place everything in a food processor and puree until smooth. Small chunks are okay if you like your salsa a bit chunky.
  6. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week. Serve warm for an enhanced flavor.
For a detailed recipe click here
Salsa verde
This salsa has 2 versions. Raw and roasted. Both taste great. Choose based on prep time available as the roasted one takes some cooking time. I must say the cooked version has an earthy smoky flavor.
1 lb tomatillos (husks removed)
2-3 cloves of garlic
3-4 hot chili peppers (serrano/jalapeños)or less based on your spice quotient
Handful finely chopped cilantro
1 lime, juice and zest
1⁄2 medium onion, roughly chopped
Salt, to taste

Black bean and corn salsa
For a detailed recipe click here
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
1 can black beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 red pepper
1 large tomato
1/2 large red onion
Few sprigs fresh coriander
1 jalapeno pepper
1 tsp roasted and ground cumin
1 Lime, juice and zest
Salt to taste
1 tsp oil

Tomato olive salsa
This pico de gallo gets a briny boost from olives. Serve it spooned over grilled fish or chicken.
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

In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients.
Let sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Friday, April 7, 2017

9 scrumptious recipes using Potato

Potatoes are a staple at any table. Whether you are hosting a get-together, or enjoying dinner with friends, or simply hanging out with your family, this comfort food favorite is sure to satisfy every taste bud. So versatile, you can roast, bake, stir fry or boil them. Having a neutral starchy flavor, they complement almost any meal. From starters to side dish, main dish to dessert, potato never fails to disappoint.
There are about about 100 varieties of edible potatoes grown around the world. These range in size, shape, color, starch content and flavor. Besides being a world staple, potato has an impressive nutritional profile. It is a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid.

Here are some of our family faves.

Grilled Potato wedges
Crisp crunchy exterior with soft fluffy insides, flavored with spice mixture of your liking and a little char from the grill. These perfectly seasoned grilled potato fries/wedges are one of my favorite sides to serve with any BBQ dish. They are quick and delish and pair wonderfully with most meats coming off the grill.
Find the detailed recipe here.

Sweet Potato Wedges
These grilled wedges make for an excellent side dish alongside grilled salmon or chicken. Sweet and soft on the inside, charred and crunchy on the outside – what’s not to love here? And I love that all components for dinner can be cooked outside and there is practically no clean-up to do in the kitchen.
Find the detailed recipe here.

Aloo chaat
Diced potatoes are fried in generous helpings of oil on large griddles or tava and drizzled with tamarind, mint chutneys and an array of ground fragrant spices.
This version is much lighter without compromising the taste. Roast the half boiled potatoes in the oven with just a drizzle of olive oil to get the crisp delish spud. If you prefer, you can shallow fry your diced potatoes and flavor them with chaat masala.
Find the detailed recipe here.

Batata Vada
Battered, deep fried potato fritters typically served as a tea time snack is a popular Maharashtra street food and is served with a bunch of condiments such as green mint coriander chutney and the red chili garlic chutney. Flavored mashed potatoes are shaped into round balls and dipped in a thick chickpea flour batter, then deep fried to get a crispy exterior with a soft interior.Find the detailed recipe here.

Aloo tikki
The evergreen Indian street food is loved by all, big and small. Spiced potato cutlets fried to perfection to give a crispy exterior and a soft interior. This versatile dish can be served in several ways and is a real comfort food for those cold and wet evenings.
Find the detailed recipe here.

Dum Aloo
This fried potato curry is an Indian dish from the Kashmiri kitchen. Small baby potatoes are cooked in a tangy spiced gravy of ginger, garlic, tomatoes and yogurt. The beautiful reddish hue comes from Kashmiri chili powder which have a distinctive flavor, though not very spicy. I like it with roti or naan. Dum aloo can be served on special occasions and looks as beautiful as it tastes.Find the detailed recipe here.

Sesame potatoes (til wale aloo)
My mom's recipe, this dish is from Nepal and is always a favored item in gatherings. This spicy vegan fare takes multiple steps but is well worth the effort. As the flavors blend it, taste enhances after 24 hours. So I always make a double batch to ensure left-overs for later. This dish is suitable for a fasting meal.
Find the detailed recipe here.

Aloo Posto
A simple and delicious stir fried potato dish, aloo posto is a staple in Bengali households. Using just a few ingredients you can make these spicy potatoes and they taste awesome with dal and plain roti. The main flavor comes from poppy seeds.
Find the detailed recipe here.

Sweet potato fudge (shakarkandi halwa)
Shakarkandi ka halwa or sweet potato fudge makes for a delicious prasad and dessert for the day of fasting. A must try for everyone with a sweet tooth.
Find the detailed recipe here.