Friday, January 27, 2012

Cilantro Lime Rice for a Fish Burrito Bowl

I have posted the recipe for a Burrito Bowl in fact a Fish Burrito Bowl earlier. This recipe deserves another post not only because I like it a lot but also because it is perfect for a cold or rainy winter's day meal. The colors and the flavors that go to make this bowl brightens up the day for sure.

The list of ingredients seem long but it is quick to put together. I used frozen Cod filets but Tilapia or Cat Fish will also work.

Do not be put off by the long list of ingredients. There is not much cooking involved and very easy to put together.

Fish Burrito Bowl
1. 4 filets of Cod washed and patted dry- Sprinkle cayenne or red chili powder salt or any masala powder and set aside for a couple of hours.
2. 1 cup of black beans soaked overnight
3. 1 Green or Red Bell Pepper seeded and cut into thin strips
4. 1 Vidalia Onion cut into thin strips
5. 2 Zucchini cut into strips (optional)
6. 1 cup of corn (I used frozen corn kernels)
7. 1 - 2 tomatoes chopped
8. handful of coriander leaves chopped
9. 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
10. 1 inch ginger pounded + 2 tbsp of onion + 2 cloves garlic
11. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder + 2 tsp of cumin powder (for the beans)
12. salt to taste
13. shredded cheese (optional)
14. Sour Cream
15. 2 tbsp of oil

For the Rice
1. 1 1/2 cups of jasmine rice
2. 2 handfuls of chopped coriander leaves
3. 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
4. 1 tbsp butter
5. Water as required

Black Beans
1. Cook the black beans with about 3 cups of water along with the onion, ginger and garlic till soft ( I used a pressure cooker)
2. Open the lid, add chili powder and cumin powder and salt and let the liquid cook down till desired
3. Boil the corn kernels and set aside
4. Mix the chopped tomatoes, coriander leaves and squeezed lime juice with salt. Add a few tsp of chopped raw onions if desired and set aside.
5. In a wide mouthed pan, saute the onions followed by the bell pepper and zucchini, season with the chili powder and salt and chili powder. Set aside when the veggies are cooked.
1. Add the rice, cilantro, lime juice and butter to an electric cooker and let cook.
Fluff once the rice is cooked and set aside.
Shallow Fry the Fish
1. In a wide mouthed shallow pan heat the oil and shallow fry the fish and set aside.

Assembling the Bowl
1. Take a bowl and add the rice, followed by the black beans and corn kernels.
2. Add the vegetables and the tomato salsa.
3. Top with the fish and a dollop of sour cream.
4. Sprinkle any of your favorite cheese.

Perfect meal while watching a movie.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Spicy Paratha with Lentils and Greens (Methi leaves)

I registered DD when she was about 5 in soccer hoping she'd one day become a David Beckham. Just saying. Anyway throughout the season she aimlessly ran behind the ball and some days just refused to step onto the field. Little did I know that for all that trouble she'd be a proud owner of a medal at the end of the season. As the seasons rolled by the medal tally started getting higher and higher and finding a place to put the useless medals was getting to be a problem.

Back home a medal is a precious thing given out only to winners who had accomplished something. Nobody got a medal just for showing up. Sorry that was not how things were done and there was a certain respect for accomplishment. Notion like everybody is a winner, medals for self esteem was something that was unheard of and we were all better for it.

The other thing that I couldn't quite understand was whenever a scribble was made on a piece of paper it was celebrated as high art and hung on every available space in the refrigerator.

In an effort to conform to behaving like how a mom is expected to behave around her children, I am guilty of esteem boosting as well. But as the kids got older I consciously avoided giving out empty praise.

Well my action has not seriously damaged my kids nor am I the worst mother there is. I don't say it research says I may have been onto something. Research done for the past 30 years when esteem boosting became big, shows (well here you always need research to show something that everybody knows) that unearned praise actually harms more than does good. Read this article in the Washington Post - Telling kids they're great isn't so good ...

Thought I'd share and hear how parents feel about esteem boosting.

Now onto the recipe,
This recipe comes from a TV program via my mom. This recipe is a sure fire winner and a keeper. Parathas that are soft and tasty to boot. Rolling out also becomes much easier with the addition of lentils.

Spicy Paratha with Lentils and Greens
1. 1 bunch of methi leaves picked and washed
2. 1/2 bunch of coriander leaves picked
3. 2-3 tbsp of yogurt
4. 1 tsp pepper corn, a few methi seeds, a few mustard seeds
5. salt to taste
6. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder
7. 3 to 4 cups of wheat flour (atta)
8. 2 tbsp of channa dal (Bengal gram)
9. 2 tbsp of moong dal
10. 1/2 tbsp of grated ginger (optional)

1. In a pan heat oil and add the pepper corn, methi and mustard seeds, saute for a minute. Add in the methi leaves and coriander leaves and let them saute till they are wilted. Cool and blend to a paste.
2. Roast the channa dal and moong dal till they start to turn golder brown. Cool and blend to a powder. (I use the coffee grinder)
3. Take the whole wheat flour, the dal flour, chilli powder, salt in a bowl. Add in the blended greens and mix it into the flour. Add in the yogurt and mix it in.
4. Add water only if required to bring the dough together. The dough is not as sticky as the regular dough and comes together pretty easily.

5. Take lemon sized balls and roll out the dough like you would a normal chapathi.
6. Heat a griddle, place the rolled out dough, cook on one side till brown spots start to appear. Flip and cook on the other side. Brush some oil if required.

Serve with raita and pickles.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rustic Chicken Curry

Over the holidays we attended a few parties. It was heartening to hear that a lot of youngsters(meaning people in their 20s and 30s) are cooking. One of them even said she found her boyfriend rather cute because he learned to cook from his mom. So young men out there that is an incentive to learn cooking yes?

Quite a few of them say they love Indian food but don't know where to start. These are not novice cooks but cooks who are good at cooking good food in their own way of course. I try explaining to them how easy it can be. Most have glazed eyes after a few instructions

I am not exactly sure, is it the name of all the exotic spices or the sauteing part that gets to them. Or maybe it is the blending of spices that throws them? Let me know what makes you run scared of making an Indian dish? Maybe I can help.

Not all chicken curries are made equal. I am splitting them into two broad categories as North Indian and South Indian for now. They are multitude of variations but the difference is in the most broadest sense. Add in regional variations and favorites like Vindaloo and Chicken Chettinad the tastes and textures are indeed mind boggling. One basic difference between the two major ones is the usage of tomatoes for the curry/gravy. In the North style a lot of tomatoes and onions are cooked down to make the curry whereas in the South Indian, onion is used tomatoes are used are not used and if used they are smaller in quantity. Coconut is used a lot to make the curry.

When coconut became an unhealthy food for a while what with the fear of cholesterol and such I started adding tomatoes to the chicken curry to reduce the quantity of coconut but now armed with better knowledge I use coconut as much as is required.

Rustic Chicken Curry
1. 4 Chicken Thighs with the drumstick approximately 1 1/2 pounds
2. 1 medium sized red onion chopped fine (separate about 2 tbsp for the paste)
3. 8 garlic cloves chopped (separate about 6 for the paste)
4. 1 1/2 chopped (for the paste)
5. 1/2 tbsp chicken masala powder (any brand)
6. 1/2 tsp garam masala powder (recipe below)
7. salt to taste
8. 2 tsp of turmeric powder (see Note)
9. 3 tsp of oil
10. seasonings: bay leaves, fennel seeds , cumin seeds and curry leaves

For the Paste
1. 3/4 tbsp coriander seeds
2. 1 tsp cumin seeds
3. 1/2 tbsp pepper corns
4. 6 dry red chilies (substitute with 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper)
5. 1/4 grated fresh or frozen coconut

In a pan heat about 1/4 tsp oil and add in the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, pepper corn and saute for a minute followed by the red chilies saute for a minute more. Set aside.

Add a bit more of the oil and add in 2 tbsp of the chopped onion, 5 cloves of the garlic and ginger, saute till the onions start to get a bit brown on the edges. Now add in the coconut and saute till the coconut starts getting a tiny shade of brown.

Cool and blend to a paste with 2 tbsp or less of water.

Garam Masala Powder
1. 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
2. 4-6 cloves
Roast the above and blend to a powder

1. In a heavy bottomed pan add in the rest of the oil and when hot add the seasonings. Add in the garam masala. Let them sit in the hot for about 30 seconds.
2. Now add in the onions and let them get translucent. Add in the garlic and ginger. Saute for a minute more.
3. Add in the washed chicken, sprinkle the turmeric powder on them and saute for 4-5 minutes till the chicken loses the pink color.
4. Add the chicken masala powder and cayenne pepper if using and stir to coat.
5.Now add the blended paste with 1 1/2 cups of water. (see note)
6. Add salt and let it cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Serve with steamed white rice.

1. Wash the chicken with turmeric in water.
2. Store bought garam masala has a few more ingredients. I like the milder one.
3. The amount of water to be added depends on how thick or thin you want the curry to be.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mixed Winter Vegetables Pickle - Radish,Turnip, Carrots

Pickle lovers are not to panic that summer is over and pickle making is just a happy memory. Vegetables like radish, turnip, carrots, cauliflowers which are not pickle material generally can be put to good use.

Saw this post on Mad Tea Party and realized I have not partaken in one of winter's happy activity, namely to make this relishable pickle. Not too spicy but just enough to make the tongue come alive.

I saw some fresh crisp turnips and radishes at the store and that sealed the deal. I did not use cauliflower this time and though the inspiration is from Anita's recipe I have modified mine to suit the South Indian in me. Please jump on to her blog for that version.

In the US it is more likely a Spring time affair when these vegetables are at their freshest but in India now might be the perfect time. If you find green peppers (the raw green ones of the familiar black counterpart ) you should definitely add that in.

Follow this link for the RECIPE.

Sun is an important part of the pickling process but with the unreliable Winter Sun in the Northern Hemisphere put the oven to good use.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fresh Cranberry beans with Coconut masala

Here is an interesting article I saw here on WSJ. The article says that the amount of food we eat and how we eat is linked to our personalities.

I like to eat when bored or watching movies or reading. A good movie is never good enough unless I have a bag of junk food to go with it. Whoever came up with selling popcorn at the movies is a genius.

As I was heating my lunch at work in walked a colleague who had a plate of some good looking but fatty food (his words not mine). He accidentally dropped something. As we were talking about the 5 second rule he quickly dropped it in the trash. His comment was though the food his wife had cooked tasted great the less he eats the better. Portion control is of course key and where most of us stumble. With our sedentary work conditions burning of calories is a big ask.

My brother on the other hand thinks that perhaps cutting short the time between meals and having 6 small meals instead of 3 big one is the key.

When do you have the craving for junk food?

The recipe for today is cranberry beans. I find these fresh cranberry beans usually during November or December. Nothing like fresh beans. They taste very different from the dried ones and the biggest is the absence of the flatulence tendencies. I found these beans in my local International market (how is that for an oxymoron?). The recipe is from an amazing blog which is one of my favorites - Rak's Kitchen, the blog I mean.

I added grated ginger and a tiny bit of tamarind for blending and skipped garlic but otherwise followed the recipe.

Fresh Cranberry beans with Coconut Masala
1. 2 Cups of shelled fresh Cranberry beans (soaked dried beans can be substituted)
2. 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
3. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
4. 1 tbsp grated ginger
5. seasonings: curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp of urad dal
6. 1 tsp of oil
7. salt to taste

For the Paste
1. 1/2 tbsp of coriander seeds
2. 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
3. 4-5 red chilies
4. 2 tsp of black pepper
5. 2 tbsp of grated fresh or frozen coconut
6. a small tiny bit of tamarind
Saute 1-4 in a tiny bit of oil and finally the coconut without letting the coconut burn. Add in the tamarind and turn off the heat. Blend to a coarse paste with a couple of tbsp of water.

1. Boil the beans on the stove top till cooked. (just barely because the beans will continue to cook in the masala).
2. Heat oil in a wide mouthed pan and when hot add the urad dal. When brown add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds followed by the curry leaves.
3. Add the chopped onions and saute till translucent.
4. Add in the ginger and saute for a minute.
5. add in the drained cooked beans and turmeric and give a good mix.
6. Now add in the masala, mix it well into the beans and cook for another 10 till the masala is dry and coated well on the beans. Add salt and cook for a minute more.

If you'd like a slightly wet curry, add a bit more water. The gravy tastes great with rice.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Shrimp stir fry with Red Bell Peppers and Snow Peas

It is the New Year and resolutions are the in thing. I read that resolutions regarding eating and exercising are 60% of all resolutions that people make in the beginning of the year. There is plenty of advice regarding eating right if you look around. The problem is most advice in terms of amount of food required is in terms of calories. The max calories required, the optimal fat calories, protein calories etc.. I find calculating the calories I consume hard to keep track of and I bet it is for a few of you as well. Unless it is prepackaged food calculating calories is a hard task I have realized.

A slightly easier way to keep track might be in terms of cups and table spoons I would think. It has helped me control my food intake. Though the Indian diet is carbohydrate heavy it is easily adaptable to keep be it carbohydrates, protein, sugar or fat in check. Since vegetables play a predominant role a slight decrease in other groups and a proportional increase in the vegetable intake is always a good thing and with some work a possibility.

The best advice I have heard regarding food control is writing down the time and the amount of food consumed in a measure that works. This would show the times we tend to overeat and also the different categories of foods - proteins, carbohydrates, fats etc. and their amounts. This tracking over a period of time will help in revealing how we can control what should be controlled.

Today's recipe is one that lends itself to any kind of diet. Stir fries are very popular in our household especially the Indo-Chinese variety. Shrimp along with bell pepper and snow peas are perfect as these vegetables seem to be made for stir frying.

The recipe is one I saw on America's Test Kitchen. The vibrant colors are what attracted me to the stir fry. A very simple recipe with ingredients that are found in most pantries and along with some Jasmine Rice this is one very quick and satisfying meal.

Shrimp stir fry with red Bell Pepper and Snow Peas
1. 18-20 Medium sized shrimp
2. 1 Red Bell Pepper seeded and cut into cubes
3. 1 1/2 cup of snow peas
4. 1/2 cup of chopped green onions
5. 2 tbsp of sliced shallots
6. 2 garlic cloves sliced
7. 2-3 tsp of oil

for marination
1. 1/2 tbsp of oil
2. 1/2 tbsp of minced garlic
3. 1 tbsp of minced ginger
4. 1/2 tsp of salt
Marinate the shrimp with the ingredients mentioned above.

For the Sauce
1. 1/2 tbsp of jaggery
2. 1 tbsp of lime juice
3. 1/2 tbsp of white vinegar (see note)
4. 1 tbsp of chilli sauce (or chilli garlic sauce, I used Sriracha chilli sauce)
5. 1/2 tbsp of oil
6. 2 tsp of corn starch
7. 1 tsp of soy sauce
8. 1 1/2 tbsp of ketchup
Whisk the above together and set aside

1. Heat 2 tsp of oil to smoking and saute the bell pepper and snow peas till they start to blacken around the edges. Set aside.
2. Add the sliced green onions, shallots and garlic and let them saute till they turn brown.
3. Bring the heat to low and add in the shrimp, let it cook for a minute on aside, flip and cook on the other side for a minute. (see note)
4. Add in the sauce and let the shrimp poach and cook for a couple of minutes till the sauce gets nice and hot.
5. Stir in the vegetables, toss to coat the sauce and turn off the heat.

1. Just White Vinegar could be used instead of the lime juice. I do not like the overpowering taste of vinegar, so I use a combination.
2. Not cooking the shrimp in very high heat is also important so the shrimp don't get tough and rubbery.

Serve over steamed Jasmine rice.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nutella Cookies for the New Year

Wishing all readers once again a Very Happy New Year! Hope the New Year started off well for all of you. Mine did. It is only customary for every New Year to start off with resolutions and this year is no different. Here goes the resolutions for the year,

First a few personal goals for the blog.
1. To provide better quality pictures.
2. To present food better.
The above two are tough but I am willing to try.

Public goals for the blog.
1. To get better reader participation.
2. To get readers to provide recipes on the blog.
3. Provide easy to prepare meals for a healthier lifestyle.
This is even harder because I need support from you the readers. Hopefully with your support I can move towards making this blog a lot more interactive and useful.

1. Readers can get updates by subscribing to the blog using one of the methods available from the right side bar.
2.If you would like to showcase a recipe on the blog you can contact me at indosungod AT GMAIL DOT COM.

Now on to the first recipe for the New Year - Nutella cookies. Baking is not an inherent or easy skill for me. The hardest thing is to follow the recipe step by step as it is a skill that does not come naturally. I have kept away from baking cookies as I considered it a hard thing to do. That impression is not exactly true after this most recent attempt.

I found this recipe in the 'Vegetarian Times' magazine I was browsing in the library. DD who was looking over my shoulder whipped out a paper and started jotting down the recipe. Nutella and cookies in one sentence and there is no stopping the kids. With the holidays and time on hand these cookies saw the light of day.

Home baked warm cookies are a delight so give this a try.

Tips to note while baking:
The only mishap happened because I was impatient and put two trays in the oven at the same time. It still would have been ok if the trays were placed on a higher rack than a lower rack close to the burner.
Best to put the cookie trays in the middle rack. Or even better bake one after the other. Remove them from the oven at the specified time.

Recipe Source: Vegetarian Times
Nutella cookies
1. 1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2. 1/4 cocoa powder
3. 1/2 tsp of baking soda + 1/4 tsp of salt
4. 1 cup Nutella
5. 4 oz/1stick unsalted butter
6. 3/4 cup of sugar
7. 1 large egg
8. 1/2 tsp of hazelnut extract
9. 36 whole blanched hazelnuts roasted (optional)

1. Sift together flour,cocoa powder salt and 1/4 tsp of salt and set aside
2. Beat Nutella and butter till smooth (I used an electric hand blender)
[Make sure you have a big enough vessel to hold the wet and dry ingredients]
3. Add the egg and sugar to the above mixture and beat till well combined
4. Now slowly add the flour and in low speed incorporate into the wet mixture till dough forms.
5. Transfer the dough into a plastic wrap and shape into a 2inch diameter log and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
6. Heat oven to 375F.
7. Cut log to 1/4 inch thick rounds and place on a cookie sheet.
8. Bake for 9 minutes and remove from the oven and let cool for 30-45 minutes.
9. Once cooled pipe Nutella on to the cookies and place a hazelnut on top. ( I skipped this step)

1. The roasted hazelnuts can be powdered and added to the dough for an even more nuttier taste.