Monday, August 30, 2010

Food on the Road - Simple Potato stir fry with green chilies and onions

Most domestic airlines charge special fees where ever they can. Now that we have gotten used to buying/packing our own food to take on the plane we are hit with having to pay for checked baggage. The whopping fees make sure we downsize on our luggage which may even be a good thing.

On a short trip who has the time to deal with missed or late luggage. This trip we were quite a few people, making it possible to fit everything we wanted in just our carry ons.

Besides clothing the most important item in our luggage is our trusted electric cooker. Packing the electric cooker is usually worth the hassle. Skipped taking sambhar powder for fear of the TSA monster but we took our chances withparuppu podi and tomato thokku.

Yogurt, rice and some pickles got us through dinners when we had to get over the tiredness of all the stuff we had eaten during day. Soma's comments on the stuff she thinks are required stuff for a trip on the last post helped with the list. With just the items listed below it is possible to have a decent mealeven when in a a hotel room with no kitchen.

Required stuff for a road trip
1. Electric Cooker
2. Pickle
3. Paruppu Podi
4. sambhar powder
5. Dal of some kind

This quick and easy potato stir fry is multipurpose. Simple but can be used as a side for rice or as a filling for sandwiches or pita pockets.

Simple Potato Stir Fry with green chilies and onions
1. 3-4 potatoes of any kind peeled and cut into small dice
2. 4-5 green chilies chopped
3. 1/2 -1 cup onions chopped
4. 1 tsp cayenne pepper powder or sambhar powder (optional)
5. salt to taste
6. 1-2 tsp of oil

1. Boil the potatoes in salted water till soft but still holding its shape (10 minutes max)
2. In a wide mouthed pan heat oil, add the onions and saute till translucent
3. Add the chopped chilies and saute for a few minutes
4. Now add the drained potatoes saute for 10-15 minutes
5. Sprinkle the chili powder if adding and salt and saute for a few more minutes

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Garden Update - August Rule

August is by far the most rewarding in the vegetable garden. Most vegetables are starting to fruit and the tomatoes are ripening and everyday there is a few to be picked. I am seeing bitter gourd, snake gourd, ridge gourd and brinjals besides the occasional butternut or delicata squash.

Cooked delicata squash like its other name sweet potato squash, tasted very similar to sweet potato. Cooks very fast, very delicate and tasty.

Split delicata squash -

The August rules is not to buy vegetables other than onions, carrots and potatoes. We have been surviving on vegetables and greens from the garden.

Beans - long beans, string beans and broad beans

I have never tried growing squash. Zucchini is the only one I have tried and they were a disappointment this year. Squash has done pretty good considering the seeds are from god knows how many years ago. The ridge gourd which gave fruits like crazy a couple of years ago have lost their potency and are only flowering and fruiting very sparsely. The age of the seeds does matter.

Green Chili Time

The chillies are just starting to make their presence felt. The very tender green chilies are not spicy as the fully mature ones.

Produce from the Garden


August 16 - 25, 2010

10-20 everyday
Aug 15, 2010
Snake Gourds

Snake Gourd with split val beans
Aug 17, 2010
Ridge Gourd

Ridge Gourd with tomatoes chutney
Aug 18, 2010
Black Nightshade greens

8 packed cups
Stir fried greens with coconut
Aug 20, 2010
Swiss Chard and Mustard Greens

3 Cups
Greens with toor dal
Aug 21, 2010
Black Night Shade, Bitter Gourds

1 cup, 5
Chutney, Puzhikuzhambu
Aug 22, 2010

Brinjals with black channa

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spicy stir fried potatoes

Potatoes have a bad reputation albeit wrongfully. The famous, ubiquitous French fry is what gives them their bad name. Cook them any other way, boil, mash(not mashed potatoes mixed with gobs of butter), stir fry or broil and they are not all that bad.They roast,stir fry or boil beautifully absorbing all the spices. What more can one ask?

The potatoes from the backyard garden or more accurately DD's potatoes needed a good recipe to showcase their fresh hardy taste. One look at these delicious Spiced potato fries DD decided that's what her potatoes were destined to be. We are taking it along to Nupur's Blog Bite-6 potluck. What is a potluck without some potatoes?

These being brand new potatoes, they had to be cooked twice as longer than the regular store bought potatoes. A lone okra (RC, okras are finicky creatures so don't be discouraged) was added to the mix. Here is how I made the potatoes.

Recipe Source: RedChillies - Spiced Potato Fry

Spicy stir fried potatoes
1. 3 cups of cubed potatoes (I left the skin on)
2. 4-5 green chilies slit + 1 tbsp sliced garlic
3. 1 tbsp ginger grated
4. 2 tsp turmeric powder
5. 2 tsp red chili powder
6. 1 tsp pepper powder (or to taste)
7. seasonings: curry leaves, cumin seeds and mustard seeds
8. 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
9. salt to taste
10. 2 tsp oil

1. In a sauce pan filled with salted water,cook the potatoes fully but they should still hold their shape
2. In a wide mouthed pan (kadai) heat the oil and when hot add the seasonings. When the mustard starts to splutter add the ginger and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes. Garlic should not burn
3.Add the turmeric, chili and pepper powders and give a good stir. Add the okra and boiled potatoes, salt and toss them well.
4. Reduce the heat to below medium and stir fry till the desired roasting is achieved. (15 minutes)
5. Sprinkle the lemon juice, mix it in and then saute for another 10 minutes or so.

Serve with rice or chapatis.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bananas cooked in palm sugar ice cream

HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) as we all know has a notoriety that has made us all tread carefully around it. Does that mean eating cane sugar, refined or otherwise is like eating health food?

Do you remember the time when unsaturated fat entered our consciousness? Food companies who are never far behind in lulling the public into a fall sense of security immediately jumped into the wagon with claims of 'unsaturated fat free food'. I am not an authority on the topic but I bet they compensated by increasing the percentage of sugar. By now we all know fat free anything has a higher percentage of sugar than their full fat counterparts. Fat free makes us feel less guilty. There is nothing wrong with that as long as we fully know what we are getting in return.

palm sugar crystals

Now it is the turn of the cane sugar, with processed food packages claiming that they contains cane sugar and are HFCS free. Would HFCS have stopped us from buying Oreo cookie or the claim that it is made with cane sugar have induced you into buying Oreos if you were the type who did buy them regualarly? My kids would want them either way. That is the bottomline.

bananas cooking in palm sugar

I can't deny the fact the I am into this cane sugar fad in a big way.
Is cane sugar all that better compared to HFCS? Probably not is the verdict. Sugar in any form when eaten in large quantities is bad. We all knew that right? For a sweet craving it is better to eat fruits. We also knew that! This article, a consumer report insight - Which type of sweetener is best? is a good read. Not too long just to the point.

I had bananas and some palm sugar crystals and memory of seeing a reipe for roasted banana ice cream on Anita'a A Mad Tea Party. This was an ice cream that came to my mind immediately after I acquired my ice cream maker.

I would say the roasted bananas in the sugar is a delicious topping on any ice cream just by itself. If you are in go ahead and make the ice cream, it is rich and creamy even without all the cream. I stuck to the half and half and 2% milk like for the strawberry ice cream.

In a cup!

or in a cone!
Banana Ice Cream
1. 2 Medium sized well ripened bananas
2. 1 cup palm sugar crystals + 1/2 cup water
3. 1 1/2 cups half and half
4. 1 1/2 cups of 2% milk
5. 1/4 raw cane sugar
6. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a sauce pan combine palm sugar crystal and 1/2 cup of sugar (or enough water to cover the sugar) and heat till the sugar completely melts.
2. Filter the sugar through the cheese cloth to remove impurities and palm leaves that get left behind (if you are using regular sugar this step might not be necessary). Transfer the sugar back to the sauce pan
3. Slice the banana and add to the sugar and cook it till the banana is cooked and soft. Blend it with a hand blender. Leave a few pieces slightly bigger.
4. Cool the banana mixture completely and mash it or break it apart using a hand blender
5. Combine the milk, half and half, vanilla extract and the rest of the sugar and let it start churning in the ice cream maker (for about 25-30 minutes)
6. Add in the banana and let it combine and churn for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze overnight for 6-8 hours.

Using half and half and 2% milk compared to full milk and cream gives you a slightly lighter ice cream. The banana made up for the lack of fat.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Down home Punjabi style Channa (my friend's mom's way)

Around our house we call it channa masala, whereas in DD's friend's house it is simply channe with a 'e' at the end. Mine is orangish yellow a color that generally makes me very happy with a pungent taste. Well that was until I tasted channa at DD's friend's house. No better person than a Punjabi (DD's mom) for an authentic chickpeas recipe I thought. This is her mother's recipe cooked mild for the kid's benefit and to prevent heart burn.

Anyway her channa was a lot different, mild and not orangish at all but black. I tasted it 8 years ago to be precise when DD and her friend were in preschool. I have seen the black looking channa or chole as they were called only in restaurants. I wasted no time in finding out how it got its black color and was astonished when she said that it was tea bags that did the trick. Seemed like there was always a pot of this down home channa simmering in her kitchen as it is a kids favorite. If you are interested in the orange hued Channa Masala, the recipe is here.

It took me all these years to finally get the recipe and give it a try. If you are a pressure cooker person, it is tailor made for it.

For two cups of dry chick peas I used about 1 tbsp of tea. I should have used atleast 2 tbsp possibly more to get the black color that got me attracted to it in the first place. Without any of the usual spices this is very mild but nonetheless tasty. She prefers using tamarind pulp for aamchur powder which was a big surprise to me. My tomatoes were red and I did not use enough tea bags, hence the slightly reddish color.

Down home Punjabi style channa
1. 2 Cups white chick peas soaked overnight
2. 2 tbsp tea leaves + cheese cloth or 4 tea bags
3. 1/2 cup roughly chopped onions
4. 4 green chilies slit
5. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder (optional)
6. 1/2 cup tomatoes chopped
7. 1 tbsp grated ginger
8. seasoning: cumin seeds
9. Salt to taste + 1 tsp of oil
10. chopped mint leaves or coriander leaves(optional)
11. 1/4 cup Tamarind pulp from a small piece of tamarind (optional, if the tomatoes are sour leave this out)

1. In a pressure cooker add the soaked and washed chick peas with the tea leaves tied securely in a cheese cloth with the required amount of water (about twice the amount of chickpeas), onions, slit green chilies and ginger.
2. Pressure cook for 3 whistles till they are completed cooked and falling apart stage (if you like it whole cook for lesser time)
3. In a pan heat a tsp of oil and add the cumin seeds followed by the chopped tomatoes and saute it for 3-4 minutes till soft.
4. Place the cooker back on the burner, make sure the tea bags are removed add the sauteed tomatoes, salt, tamarind pulp (or just 1/2 cup of water) and let it boil for another 6-8 minutes.

Serve with chapatis or rice

Monday, August 16, 2010

Garden Update - I am proud! , Mystery creeper with yellow flowers

Growing eggplants were never easy when I started gardening. The bugs ate most of the plant and by the time they started flowering frost set in and took me a couple of summers if not three to actually have them growing and producing.

So even if I get a few eggplants from the garden fill me with pride. I got my first harvest of eggplants a couple of weeks ago and the next a few days ago.

This summer we tried a new vegetable - potatoes. I had a few potatoes sprouting and we or more precisely DD wanted to give growing potatoes a try. We followed directions of how to plant and when to harvest from DD's and now DD2's picture book "How Groundhog's Garden grew".

It is a great book if you have kindergarten age kids who are interested in gardening. The second proud moment came when we harvested our potatoes yesterday. It goes without saying DD was the one who did all the harvesting, cleaning and was proud as a peacock.

Mystery creeper
To round out the garden update I have a mystery creeper which has taken over my neighbor's fence and keeps growing and growing.

I had 3 or 4 of these plants (seeds of unknown origin as usual) but dug out all but one as they were smothering all other plants in the vicinity. Now finally I see a flower and hoping to see what it turns out to be.

The flower looks very much like a squash flower. Any of you know what the vegetable is?

Mistaken identity
What I thought was a bottle gourd (third picture) turned out to be a butternut squash. It revealed itself when the outer skin turned pale orange.

Produce from the Garden


July 29, 2010

Tomato Rice
July 24, 2010

Tomato Thokku
July 29, 2010

Tomato Rice
August 2, 2010

Frozen whole
August 4 2010

Frozen whole
August 4, 2010

Brinjals with dal
August 4, 2010
Potatoes, bitter gourd (3)

Bitter gourd with potatoes
August 6-13, 2010
Tomatoes,Green beans

100, 25
August 13, 2010

Brinjal Stir Fry

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Food on the road - a quick and easy chicken curry with potatoes (beans or cauliflowers with potatoes for a Veg. version)

What is it with Indian food? You go without the stuff for a few days and you start to crave it real bad. It certainly happened to us on our trip. Our folks are with us and you can imagine how it is for them. Luckily one of the hotels we had booked on the trip had a kitchen. After a few days of eating Chinese for the heat our my tongue started revolting. In the middle of a national park it is pretty difficult to find lunch so we tended to pack. Packing lunch meant bread, spread and some easy to use veggies. The stuff starts to get to you after a few days.

We are not picky eaters but even then spice - specifically Indian spice is what your tongue craves after a few days.

The easiest to cook in these situations is chicken curry. It is also one of those dishes that works very well for novice cooks and for those who cannot spare too much time for cooking. Drop by a grocery store and pick up a pack of chicken, a few onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, pepper powder and chili powder. The grocery store we happened to stop by had Pathak's brand curry paste. Good to have if you can find but not absolutely necessary.

For a vegetarian option, swap out the chicken and use any type of beans,cauliflower or any veggie you fancy. If using beans precook the beans and drain. I cooked the beans and cauliflower combination a day later and it tasted just as good.

Quick and Easy Chicken Curry with potatoes
1. 1 1/2 lbs chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken thighs) OR beans of any kind for a veg. version
2. 2 potatoes peeled and diced
3. 3-4 medium sized onions sliced
4. 4 cloves garlic chopped fine
5. 1 inch piece of ginger chopped fine
6. 1 1/2 tbsp curry paste/powder (optional) (* see Note)
7. 1 tbsp cayenne pepper (adjust accordingly if the curry powder or curry paste has chilies included)
8. 2 tsp pepper powder
9. 4 medium sized tomatoes pureed (chopped fine works)
10. salt to taste
11. oil

1. In a pan heat oil and add the onions and saute till translucent, add the ginger and garlic and let them saute for a couple of minutes
2. Add the curry powder or paste if using and give it a good mix (2-3 minutes)
3. Add the chicken pieces (or beans) and potatoes and let it brown for a few minutes (6-8 minutes)
4. Add the chili,salt and pepper powder and mix it in. Add salt to taste
5. Add the pureed tomatoes and 1 cup of water if required and give a good mix
6. Close the lid and let cook for 8-10 minutes, chicken and potatoes should be completely cooked (increase cooking time if chicken is not fully cooked)
7. Check for salt and heat and turn off the heat

Serve over steamed rice

* Note:
Curry Powder or curry paste is a blend of spices - cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, red chilies, cardamom. In case of curry paste garlic,ginger,tomatoes are also included in the mix

Friday, August 13, 2010

Spice Box - Winners

Dear Readers,

I appreciate the enthusiasm all of you showed in participating in the giveaway. I have 2 winners, one for the Indian spice box and one for the Western Spice box.

Drum roll please!

Gaile - Indian Spice Box
Sayantani - Western Spice Box

Congratulations Winners! Contact me at indosungodATgmailDOTcom to claim your prize. Don't forget to include your shipping address in the email.

PS: Thanks to DD who helped(cutting,folding, writing names) in choosing the winner.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Spicebox Giveaway is on and comments open for participation

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog but not on facebook, please don't feel left out. Go to the post and leave your comments on which kind of spice box you'd like and you will be included in the drawing.

Methods of participation:
1. Facebook
2. Leave a comment on the blog post
3. Send me an email

Giveaway details here.

See you all in a week.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Indian or Western Spice Boxes? A giveaway!

A Spice Box be it Indian or Western is very essential in every kitchen. I adore mine and everyone who has gotten it as a present loves it too (if you are the cooking type that is). The giveaway was in the cards from a long while ago so here goes. Rules! Yes there are a few.

Western Spice box

Western Spice box another view

1. The giveaway will be held on Facebook. Leave a comment below the link on facebook with your choice. Goes without saying that you have to like the page to leave a comment.
2. If you are not a facebook member, send me an email to indosungodATgmailDOTcom and I will include you in the drawing.
3. Drawing will be done the old fashioned way, names will be written on paper tags and a lucky winner will be drawn.
4. Give your choice of Spice Box, Indian or Western.
5. Two winners will be chosen one for the Indian and one for the Western.
6. Increase your chance of winning by spreading the word. If your friends leave a comment along with your name for recommending the page you increase your chance of winning by that many times.

7. Leave a comment on this post with your choice of spice box

Indian Spice box

Shipping Rules
1. Indian or Western Spice Box will be shipped to winners in the US and Canada.
2. Only the Western Spice Box will be shipped to winners in India
3. European winners will be given a choice of gift card of equal value if that is a possibility.

Giveaway ends Aug 13, 2010

Western Spice Box Pictures :

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Potatoes with minced turkey(paneer/cauliflower) - Caribbean Style?

It is final folks, this week I lost my freedom to blog as I wish and do the several things that I was at a liberty to do whenever. The new life is not something that I am completely unaccustomed to but one that I have to relearn the skills to survive. I am hoping the blog won't take a back seat. Let's see how that plays out. Wish the blog was like this blog or this one and help me be a blogger by profession. Fat chance y'all say and that is exactly it. So, for now I take the well travelled road.

Turkey meat is not something that I buy regularly. On the other hand I do tend to buy minced turkey a lot more often especially from the Amish Market. The quality of the chicken and minced turkey makes a ton of difference to the recipes. Minced turkey meat is very light with hardly any fat and my family members mistook it for cauliflower, paneer or eggs.

This recipe over at Tastes Like Home piqued my taste buds. I set out to read what corned beef was and a niggling doubt if turkey will work in the recipe. With Cynthia's encouragement that the same principles apply to minced turkey I set out to give it a try. It was more than a hit.

For a vegetarian version use minced cauliflower or paneer. Eggs will work well in the recipe.

Potatoes with minced Turkey
1. 1lb minced turkey (2 cups of minced cauliflower or paneer)
2. 1 cup sliced onions
3. 5 slit green chilies
4. 4 cups sliced potatoes + 1/2 cup minced potatoes
5. 2 tbsp chopped tomato
6. 2 tsp pepper powder
7. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
8. 2 tsp turmeric powder
9. salt to taste
10. 2 tsp oil

1. In a wide mouthed pan heat the oil and add the onions and green chilies and let them saute till they turn pink
2. Add in the sliced (just the sliced) potatoes and let them saute till they start to brown unevenly. Keep tossing so they do not stick to the bottom. (Make them as crispy as you want them) (10 minutes)
3. Add the turmeric, chili and pepper powders and give a good mix
4. Add the minced turkey and break them completely and saute for 8-10 minutes
5. Add the chopped potatoes, tomatoes, salt and close the lid and let it cook for another 5 minutes
6. Open the lid and saute for a few more minutes till any moisture if any is completely absorbed.

1. If adding paneer add them after all the cooking has been completed. The potatoes should be fully cooked when the paneer gets added
2. If using cauliflower, add them the same time as the turkey but a reduce the cooking time

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Garden Update - Butterfly Bush

If you live anywhere in the north eastern United States, deer are as much a part of the landscape as the trees. They roam without fear of predators, destroying anything and everything in their path.

The forest cover or what little of it that is left is at a danger of failing to regenerate with the deer munching on young saplings and the ones that manage to survive fail to thrive because the deer love munching on well young tender leaves and stunting their growth. Read this article for more information 'Humans invented suburbia, but it is deer who may be its most enthusiastic residents'

Any backyard or frontyard gardener will confess their hatred for the wretched deer if you ask. The backyard is fenced off but due to HOA (Home Owner's Association) regulations the front cannot have a fence.

There are lot of brave souls like my neighbor who has a pretty good bird garden in front with shrubs and bushes that are immune to dear and her yard attracts a lot of birds.

My front yard is overpopulated with mint which are flowering in profusion now and a few butterfly bushes which attract a lot of butterflies and an occasional humming bird.

Butterfly bush is one among the rapidly shrinking list of plants that the deer don't fancy. The bush pretty much grows everywhere and also spread like weed, yes that is the fear. The pretty purple flowers are well pretty and the bonus is that they attract butterflies. They escape much of the damage wrought by deer but the tender leaves still fall prey. The butterfly bush were the courtesy of another friendly neighbor.