Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Kuvale puli koddel ( Wintermelon/ ash gourd curried in a tangy coconut-based sauce)



Ash gourd is known as kuvale in konkani. It is one of my favorite vegetables since I was little. My two favorite dishes made from kuvale are kuvale sasam and kuvale pulikoddel. Ok there are nore: I like kuvale sambar and kuvale halwa! How could I have forgotten the halva!! That is a yummy treat. But today I am going to talk about kuvale puli koddel which is another one of those dishes that I started liking as I grew older. This is also one of the traditional dishes that is served as part of the famous 5-day festival, Kodial Theru(Mangalore Car festival ).




Servings: 4


Ingredients:


Ash gourd/ Wintermelon: 1 piece weighing about 1 lb
Jaggery: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Water: 1 cup

For roasting and grinding:

Dried red chillies: 4
Urad dal: 1 tsp
Chana dal: 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp
Raw rice: 1 tbsp
Grated coconut: 3 tbsp
Hing: pinch
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Sesame seeds: 3 tsp


For tempering:

Coconut oil: 1 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves : 1 sprig

Method:


Peel and cut the wash gourd into bite size pieces. Cook it with salt, jaggery and one cup water until tender. Keep aside.

Dry roast all the ingredients listed under " for roasting and grinding". When cooled grind to a medium fine paste using a little water.

Add the ground paste to the cooked ash gourd.

Tempering:

In a small frying pan, heat coconut oil, add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the curry leaves. Turn of the flame. Add this to the above pot.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Enjoy!


Cooking made easy:


This dish can be made with any green gourds or green squash, zucchini or cucumber.

The best way to peel any squash is using a peeler. Using a knife to peel can prove tedious!

Tip for healthy living:


All green gourds/ squashes are great for good health. They can be used during any elimination diet as they are soothing to the gut. However they have to be cooked without too many spices!


Food for thought:


A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work. John Lubbock

Roasted potatoes & carrots with herbs



There are very few people on this planet who don't like potatoes. Almost all cultures, cuisines have potatoes as a staple or use it in one form or the other. It can be had for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be a side or a main dish. Roasted potatoes is  a very popular side in the western world. The version I am sharing with you today is the quick, cheat version. This version was taught to me by my host-family when I first visited this country. Barbara is a girl after my own heart! She rustles up quick healthy meals without spending too much time in the kitchen! This dish is great when you are having people over or have to take a dish for some potluck. It could be a side at a grand meal or be perfect for a simple meal. You could make it rich by topping it with shredded cheese just before serving or keep it simple and serve it as is straight out of the oven. You could add carrots as I did or make potates alone. The choice is yours. Either ways, this recipe is a no-brainer, fool-proof and a keeper!

Servings: 4-6


Ingredients:


Lipton onion soup mix: 1 packet
Potatoes: 4-6 medium potatoes
Carrots: 2 medium
Onion: 1 big, cut into quarters , and layers separated.
Italian herbs: 1 tbsp ( fresh, chopped or dry)
Olive oil: 1/4 cup
Salt: as needed( if needed only as the soup mix has salt in it.
Black pepper: 1/4 tsp( freshly ground).
Grated mozzarella cheese: 1/2 cup( optional).

Method:


Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Grease a baking tray and keep ready.

Wash the potatoes well, scrub the skin lightly to ensure all the dirt has been removed.



Cut it into quarters and put it in a bowl. 

Peel the carrots and slice it into big chunks.Add this to the bowl along with the chopped onions.

Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes, add the soup mix powder and the fresh/dried herbs, black pepper powder and mix well.



Transfer the contents of the bowl onto the greased baking tray.



Place it uncovered on the middle rack of the oven for 40-45 minutes or until it turns golden brown, tossing once halfway through the baking time.



Sprinkle shredded cheese if you wish.

Serve hot.

Cooking made easy:


This dish is pretty versatile. You could add fresh herbs or dried herbs. Whenever possible, I use fresh herbs but I always keep a bottle of Italian herbs handy in my pantry. This is very useful as the addition of it makes any dish flavorful. Of course, for this particular dish, you could skip the addition of herbs entirely!

Tip for healthy living:


Whenever possible use organic potatoes as potatoes are reported to have the highest level of pesticides in them. It's like double whammy! Being a root vegetable, they already absorb the pesticides present in the soil and they also receive a fair share from the pesticide sprayed on the plant.

Food for thought:


Experience is the teacher of all things. Julius Caesar



M & M cookies; Meatless Monday


This post was meant to be posted on Monday.The last Monday of 2014.Unfortunately, I could not get to it.But I still want it to be dedicated to the wonderful team at Meatless Monday, here in New York. I believe that they do remarkable, rewarding work.A special mention of Vanessa Protass and Diana Rice, the wonderful ladies who made it possible for my Cornmeal Upma recipe to be published in their "The homecook breakfast book"sponsored by Earthbound Farms. That was my accomplishment in 2014! I shall therefore go ahead and label this post "Meatless Monday".




Which kid says no to cookies? None that I know of! Holiday season is incomplete without baked goodies! My kids are not too fond of cakes and pies. But they love cookies. I always make their favorite chocolate chip cookies for them. My daughter has been asking me to bake some M&M cookies for a while now. Other day when my husband was about to grab a bag of M&M cookies, I told him, "don't bother;I will bake a batch ". That gave me the necessary impetus to bake this batch. I have also been meaning to try this recipe that I came across that uses a little corn flour with the regular flour. I must say the result was good. The cookies were nice and decadent with a kind of soft, cakey texture in the middle.The soft texture is also due to the addition of more baking powder than baking soda. The cookies rise well and don't spread as much. Baking is such a science! Little bit of variation in the rising agent, the type of flour used and the type of sugar used can make such a huge difference in  the texture of the cookies. Anyways,the cookies were all gone within a couple of days! You can find the original recipe here.



Servings: makes 24 medium-sized cookies.


Ingredients:


Flour: 2 cups
Corn flour/corn starch :  2 tsp
Baking powder: 1tsp
Baking soda:1/2 tsp
Salt: a pinch
Unsalted Butter/ coconut oil: 1/2 cup or 1 stick
Flaxmeal: 2 tbsp  mixed in 6 tbsp water ( or use 2 eggs)
Brown sugar: 1/3 cup
White sugar: 1/2 cup
Vanilla essence: 1 1/2 tsp
M&M candies : 1 cup
Chocolate chips: 1/2 cup

Method:


Mix Flaxmeal and water and keep aside.

Cream the butter/oil  and sugar together. Add vanilla essence, baking powder, baking soda, salt, Flaxmeal and water mixture and mix well. Now add the cornflour and the flour little by little until combined. Do not overmix!


Stir in the M&Ms and chocolate chips. Keep it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.



Preheat the oven to 350 deg F or 180 deg C.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and keep ready.

Use a spoon or ice cream scoop and place small balls of equal size on the baking tray at least 2 inches apart.



Place the tray on the center rack of the oven an bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cookies.



Take the cookies out and let it cool down on a cooling rack. Don't worry if the center of the cookies seems a little soft. They harden upon cooking down.

Enjoy with a glass of milk or just like that!



Store in an airtight container. Stays fresh or up to 1 week.

Happy Holidays!

Cooking made easy:


Keeping the cookie batter in the fridge for at least an hour, keeps it from spreading upon baking.  If in a hurry, keep the cookie dough in the freezer for 20-30 mins and then bake.

Most cookie batters ( dough)can be made ahead of time ( read leisure) and baked in portions as needed. This way you can have freshly baked cookies within 10 mins when your heart desires!! How cool is that!

Tip for healthy living:


Store-bought cookies have several ingredients that have been added to increase the shelf-life of the cookies. When consumed in excess, this  may have a detrimental effect on the health of the children. Also, shortening is often used instead of butter. Shortening has saturated fats and again can have a deleterious effect on our health. Hence it is best to consume less processed locally made foods. Even better, make it at home. Remember, the longer the shelf-life of a food product, the more processed it is!

Food for thought:


He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.Thomas Carlyle

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Special: Eggless Fruit cake / Tutti-Frutti cake








Time for me is a very scarce commodity with me being out of the house for 12 hours a day! Although, we do not celebrate Christmas, we DO celebrate the spirit of it. Therefore, I definitely wanted to make something special for this very special Holiday. It was also my mother-in-law's birthday this week, and in her honor I wanted to bake a cake. Well, I did however get a chance to do this only on Christmas Eve! I decided to bake a tutti-Frutti cake which I came across here. I however made some changes by adding a little cinnamon, nutmeg , cranberries and making it more like a fruit cake. I love the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the house! I also made it more healthier by using a 50: 50 ratio of whole wheat and all purpose flour. I add corn flour to give it the nice texture and the resulting cake was truly amazing! It was moist, flavorful and the most important part: the kids loved it! As usual, it is very simple and easy to make!



Servings: makes one 9x5 loaf


Ingredients:


Flour : 1 cup and 2 tbsp+ 1 tsp ( I used a 50:50 mix of whole wheat and all purpose flour)
Corn flour: 3 tbsp
Yogurt( curd): 1 cup
Sugar: 3/4 cup
Baking soda:1/2 tsp
Baking powder: 1 1/4 tsp
Vanilla essence: 1 1/2 tsp
Oil: 1/2 cup ( I used olive oil, any cooking oil without strong flavor can be used)
Tutti Frutti : 1/2 cup
Dried cranberries( Craisins): 1 tbsp
Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg: 1/8 tsp
Milk: 1 tbsp ( for brushing the top)

Method:


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9x 5 loaf pan and keep aside.

Sieve the flour and keep aside.

Mix 1 tsp flour with the tutti-frutti and keep aside. This is to prevent the tutti- frutti from sinking to the bottom of the cake.

Whisk the yogurt and sugar together until the sugar dissolves. 

Add baking soda and baking powder to this and keep aside for 5 mins. You will see bubbles appear. 

Now add the oil, vanilla essence, cinnamon, nutmeg powders and mix. 

Add in the flour little by little and gently mix. Do not overmix. The cake will become hard. 

Fold in the tutti-Frutti and cranberries.

Pour it into the greased loaf pan. Tap once against the kitchen counter to get rid of any air bubbles.

Place it on the center rack of the oven at 375 deg F for 10 mins. Then, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 mins.

Ten minutes before that time, take it out and brush the top with milk and put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.

Check  if the cake is done by inserting a tooth-pick. Mine took 40 minutes total.



Take the pan out and let it cool for 10-15 minutes before taking the cake out of the pan. Let it cool down on a wire rack for 1-2 hours.



Slice only when the cake has completely cooled down.



Enjoy with a cup of tea/coffee or just like that the way my kids did!

Happy holidays!! I am bringing this to my special friends and Fiesta Friday!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Black bean chili garlic spinach; Meatless Monday.

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I think this post is all done.I have said it all in the title of the title!Really, there is very little left to say after that! It truly is as simple as that! This is a very simple, flavorful dish wherein the steamed spinach is sautéed with some black bean chili garlic oil. There is nothing else that you need to add. This dish makes for a great side during the holidays when there is so much indulgence in rich, fatty food and most of the dishes are  non-vegetarian or meat. This gives the meal the much needed balance by adding plant-base nutrients and fiber. This is a quick and super-easy dish.



Servings: 4


Ingredients:


Spinach: 1 bunch
Sesame oil: 1 tsp ( you can use any cooking oil if you don't have sesame oil).
Garlic: 2 cloves, chopped
Black bean chilli garlic oil: 1-2 tbsp
Salt: to taste 
Sugar: 1/4 tsp



Method:


Wash spinach thoroughly to get rid of any residual sand/dirt in it.



Steam it for 6-8 mins.

Heat sesame oil in a sauté pan/ frying pan.



Add the chopped garlic and sauté for a minute until it sweats.


Now add the black bean chilli garlic oil. Then add in the steamed spinach, a little salt( as needed) and a pinch of sugar. Sauté for 2 mins so that it all comes together.



Serve hot with rice/ potatoes/pasta .

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


You can make the above recipe with most greens, for example: Bok Choy,  broccolini, mustard greens etc.

Tip for  healthy living:


Even one serving of leafy green vegetable in your daily diet goes a long way towards maintaing a healthy body.Leafy green vegetables are rich in fiber therefore adding bulk to your meal, making you fuller faster. The roughage helps prevent constipation and helps keep the GI system optimally functioning. All this also helps lose weight, lower cholesterol and maintains blood sugar levels. Leafy green vegetables are rich in calcium and potassium thereby keeping the bones strong. They are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin which help keep the skin and hair healthy. Leafy greens are also rich in vitamins A,B,CE and K.

Food for thought:



The secret of business is to know something that nobody else knows. Aristotle Onassis




Friday, December 19, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Winter is synonymous with the oven for me. Like I have said before, I find even the flimsiest reasons to switch on the oven. Last night, while preparing dinner, I felt like making brownies and so I popped in a tray to make brownies. Coming back to the topic on hand, I love to use seasonal produce; not only is it light on my pocket, it is more fresher and therefore better for you. Brussels sprouts is a fall/ winter vegetable.


While most people do not like Brussels sprouts, we, in my home, love it! To me it looks and tastes like miniature cabbage. I cook it several different ways: I steam it, stir fry it, sauté it, put it in my salads. One of my favorite is to roast it. I love roasted Brussels sprouts. Not only is it easy to make and healthy, it makes for a great side-dish amidst all the rich food during the holiday season.



Servings: 4-6


Ingredients:


Brussels Sprouts: 1 medium stalk ( around 2-3lbs)
Olive oil: 2 tbsp
Salt: to taste
Black pepper powder: freshly ground

Method:


Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Prepare a baking sheet/ tray. Grease it and keep aside.

Separate the Brussels sprout from the main stem. Remove any yellowed outer leaves.Wash, drain and dry the Brussels sprouts.



Slice the Brussels sprouts lengthwise into 2 pieces ( 2 if small, 3 slices if big).

Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well.

Arrange it on the baking sheet, preferably in a single layer. Avoid overcrowding.

Bake for 20-30 mins or until golden brown, turning it over once in between.



Serve hot. Enjoy! I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday just in time for the holidays!



Cooking made easy:


Washing the baking trays and pans can be a tedious affair. This could be a breeze if you just line the tray/pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and then grease it. When baking is done, just remove the foil/parchment paper and toss it in garbage. Now all you have to do is gently rinse the tray/pan with mild soap and water. No scrubbing/ brushing. Good for the pan; good for you!

Tip for healthy living:


Brussels sprouts is considered to be one of the superfoods. It is extremely nutrient dense being a rich source of vitamin C,Vitamin K, folate, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.It is one of the foods that is known for it's anti-cancer benefits and cholesterol lowering ability. It is known to have a DNA-protective effect.

References:
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=10

Food for thought:


There is nothing man will not attempt when great enterprises hold out the promise of great rewards. Livy



Monday, December 15, 2014

Squid Chilli; Meatless Monday





Today when I went to the fish market, and saw squid, I felt like getting it and making it. I have not made squid in a long long long while! Why??? Mainly because nobody else but me eats it at home. I am loathe to make something for me alone... unless I develop a sudden yearning for the same! This evening was one of those evenings when I felt like eating squid! I decided to bring it home, make mushroom chilli for my husband and squid chilli for me!! The other reason that I don't bring it is because I am not entirely sure that I know how to cook it!!! Funny?? Well, previously mine didn't turn out soft and melt-in-the mouth types that they serve at the restaurants! Mine was more like.. well .. rubber! Hence the apprehension!! I decided to give it another try.. And I am glad that I did!! The squid chilli was not only delicious, it restored my faith back in my  ability to cook it!! Yay!! It was soft, succulent, melt in the mouth.. Just purrfect! Mmmm..



Servings: 2


Ingredients:


Squid: 1 large
Onions: 1 medium,  diced medium
Garlic: 4 cloves,cut julienne
Ginger: 1 inch, cut julienne
Green chilli:3,chopped fine
Bell pepper:1 large,diced medium( can use any color)
Soy sauce:2tbsp
Oyster sauce: 1 tbsp
 Vinegar: 1 tbsp
Corn flour/ corn starch:1 tbsp
Spring onions: 2,chopped fine
Sesame Oil:2 tbsp
Sugar: pinch
Salt: to taste


Method:


Clean the squid, cut it into 1 inch length strips, marinate with 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce and keep aside for 10-15 mins.

Mix  corn starch with 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce and 1 tbsp soy sauce and keep aside.



Heat a wok on high heat,add oil. When oil  is hot, add garlic , then ginger. 

Sauté for 30 secs, then add chopped onions, sauté for 2 mins. 

Now add green chillies, bell pepper and then the squid. Saute for 2 minutes,

Now add salt, sugar and the cornstarch-sauce mixture and mix well. Let it cook for another 2-3mins. 

Add vinegar and mix well.






Garnish with chopped spring onions.



Serve hot with jasmine rice!

Cooking made easy:


The trick to cooking squid is to cook it for just 2-3 mins until it is just cooked/ tender.You can see the color change. Overcooking squid makes it rubbery and difficult to eat. Even when you reheat any squid dish, make sure you don't overheat it.

Tip for healthy living:


Smooth shiny silky hair can be achieved by regularly applying aloe Vera sap. Keep the sap on for 30 mins and then rinse it thoroughly.


Food for thought:


A lean compromise is better than a fat lawsuit. George Herbert

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Watermelon Dosa ( Watermelon pancakes);GF

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This is one of my favorites to make during the summer as there is plenty of watermelon lying around!! Yes, I had written this post during the end of summer but never got around to posting it!! Well, one is allowed to be nostalgic about the warm days on cold evenings! Also, in certain parts of the world like Australia it is summer ! Anyways, coming back to presents,when it comes to food, I hate wasting food. You surely have noticed that when we cut watermelon, we tend to throw out quite a lot of the red part of then watermelon with the peel/ rind. This recipe uses that part that you discard, the white fleshy part that you tend to throw out with the green peel. I also use the overripe watermelon to make this dosa. It gives it a nice, pretty pink color to the dosa which the kids absolutely love! This dosa is not only super-easy to make, it is a joy to eat! It is soft and fluffy with a hint of sweetness to it. You could pair it with a spicy chutney or eat it with honey/syrup/molasses like my kids do!



Servings: 4-6


Ingredients:


Rice: 1 1/2 cups
Urad dal: 2 tbsp
Methi( fenugreek seeds): 1/2 tsp
Watermelon rind and pieces : 1 cup
Beaten rice( poha):1/2 cup
Salt to taste.
Water : 3/4 cup for grinding the batter.( you may not use all of it).
Oil : to grease the tawa( skillet).


Method:


Soak rice, urad dal & methi together for 3-4 hours atleast or overnight.

Soak poha( beaten rice) for 10 mins ( just before you begin grinding the batter )and keep aside.

Grind the rice-dal mixture to a fine batter in the blender using watermelon pieces to it instead of water.Add water only as needed if it becomes difficult to grind.Once the rice is ground finely, add the soaked poha and blend it with the rest of the batter in the blender.



The batter should be slightly thick as in fermentation it tends to get a little thin..The batter has a faint pink hue.It is NOT bright pink or red in color!




Allow the batter to ferment overnight ( at least 6-8 hours).



Add salt  to the batter when you are ready to make the dosa.

Heat the skillet to medium hot, take a ladleful of batter and pour it on the skillet ( just like you would do while making pancake).



Cover with a lid, reduce the flame, and cook until you here a sizzling sound. Open the lid and see if you see any wet patches. If not, the dosa is done!



Remove from the skillet and serve hot! This dosa is cooked only on one side. DO NOT FLIP THE DOSA!



You can eat these soft fluffy dosas with wet or dry chutneys of your choice or with honey/ syrup/molasses!



Enjoy! I am taking these to Fiesta Friday as well, in case the Surnalis are all gone!

Cooking made easy:


Make sure that the flame is low while cooking this dosa or else the underside of the dosa will burn.

Once you have removed the dosa from the skillet, you can increase the flame to heat the skillet.Reduce the flame again, once the batter has been poured onto the skillet.

Tip for healthy living:


Not only is watermelon full of water and refreshing during the summer months, it also has several health benefits.It is rich in Vitamins A, B6 and C, lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. It is also fat-free and low-calorie food. The lycopene in it makes it a heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory food.

References:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266886.php
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=31
http://www.livescience.com/46019-watermelon-nutrition.html

Food for thought:


You change your life by changing your heart. Max lucado