Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Need help!!

I have to make a quick interesting dish for a potluck...nothing exotic( the target audience in this case would consider ginger an exotic ingredient)...preferably appetizerish requiring minimum effort and having maximum impact..Any ideas? And yes I don't want to spend a lot and I don't care very much for the arteries of the said audience.

Another twist on the Rice Dal combination

This is a recipe for Hyderabadi khichdi which I got from a Pakistani colleague. Its simple and elegant and tastes quite different, though a little on the drier side. Try it with yogurt and green chutney. My forays into the kitchen this weekend were not very satisfying. My Sindhi kadi turned into a bland sambhar like dish. Will try to perfect it and post it some day.

Basmati Rice - 3 cups
Red Lentils ( Sold as Masoor Dal in Indian Grocery Stores) - 2 cups
Oil - 4 Tbsps
Cardamom pods -4
Whole Black peppers- 12
Cloves- 7-8
Minced Garlic - 1 tsp
Minced Ginger - 1 tsp
Salt -To taste
Water - 7.5 cups
Wash rice and lentils separately with water, drain and keep aside.
Heat oil in the rice cooker and add cardamom, black peppers, cloves and minced ginger and garlic to oil. Once the spices exude their aroma, add the pre washed lentils to it and stir for about 10 minutes. Then add the prewashed and mix . Add 7.5 cups of water and salt to taste .Turn on the rice cooker. Enjoy with some drizzled butter.

Simple Hodge-Podge

I usually consider this as comfort food. Very easy to make and very soothing for the mind and body. Have it on a rainy evening after a long and difficult day.

n cups of rice, n/2 cups of Dal (mussor works best, the orange one that is)
4 Dollops of Desi Ghee
Half an onion, sliced thin
Panch Phoron : 1 pinch
Some finely chopped ginger
A pinch jeera powder, dhanya powder, mirchi and haldi

Boil the rice and dal together in a pressure cooker (about 3 whistles)
In 2 dollops of ghee gently fry the panch phoron, onions and ginger (low heat) till the onions turn golden brown.
At this time add the jeera, dhanya, mirchi and haldi
Then add the boiled rice and dal.
Lighltly fry for a few minutes.
Add the 2 remaining dollops of ghee

Serve hot with a simple omlette. If you have some fried fish even better.

Enjoy that.

Dip, dip, dip

This is the recipe for a very simple dip that Theron and me tried last weekend. We had it with baked potates, but it can be used with chips, chops, pakodas, rotis, as raita, or just eat it with a spoon. Its YUMMY. The recipe uses yogurt which is very nutritious too!!

2 cups of plain lowfat yogurt (you can use non-fat/regular depending on your taste or calorie restrictions)

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (dhania leaves)
1 bunch green onions (pyaz-kali)

chop. chop. chop the green onions, and cilantro.
beat the yogurt with a fork to make it smooth. add the cilantro, green onions and mix.
Add salt, ground black pepper to taste.

Optional: In case you want to make it less healthy and more tasty (say for a party), replace 1 cup yogurt with 1 cup sour cream, or use full fat cream-topped yogurt.
Feeling more experimental: add finely chopped red bell peppers, shredded carrots, or any such shredded crunchy vegetable.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A simple Omlette

Sunday ho ya monday,
Roz khao ande.

I find eggs to be one of the most versatile ingredients, lending itself to so many different dishes, but one all time favourite is omlettes. While in India, I was used to only adding onions and green chillies to them, but here I have experimented with many more additions/fillings.
One awesome (not so rare, unique or original) is the following:

Chop onions, red bell peppers, and mushrooms.

Heat a pan. Add the onions (Do not add oil). Let them roast for about 2 minutes. Add the pepper and mushrooms. let them roast on the pan without oil for 2 minute. Add just a little drip of oil (preferably PAM spray). Sautee for till mushrooms are done.

Now you have two possible paths.
1. Take the veg. out of the pan. Spray a layer of oil. Add 2 beaten eggs (preferably use just one yolk and discard the other). Put the vegetables in the center, and fold the omlette. Let it cook through. Turn to brown either side.

2. While the veggies are still in the pan, spray a little oil and pour the beaten eggs on top of the veggies. Let the egg set, and cook. Then very carefully flip. (If you cannot flip an omlette perfectly, then as soon as you pour the eggs, put the flame on low, and cook with the pan covered. This way the omlette top will also get cooked without burning the bottom side).

Optional: You can add cheese, greenchillies etc also.

Enjoy with some whole-wheat toast and fruit.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ayush's Moist Abuelita Coffee Cake

If cooking is an art, then just reproduction is not satisfying to the artist.
Following this, I often do not use recipes but use my imagination. Even for things like baking a cake! So this weekend, armed with just my instincts, a few ingredients, and a very helpful boyfriend, I baked a cake! and it turned out so well, I might as well patent it.

But i will give you all a sneak preview:
Director: Ayush Gupta
The Cast:
1. cup sugar
1 cup butter (or 1.5 sticks)
2 tablets Abuelita (use this: its good! crush the blocks in a grinder/blender using a little of the milk if needed)
2 eggs (beaten)
2/3 cup milk
1.5 cups flour
2 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp vanilla flavouring
1.5 tbsp baking powder

Mix all ingredients in the order in which they are listed. Its best to mix in a bowl using a wire whisk, but the lazy ones can use a blender.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease and flour a baking dish (this means that you smear some melted butter/oil on the inside bottom and sides of the dish, sprinkle flour all over and shake out the excess; use PAM spray to make life easier)

Pour batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until done; To check done-ness stick a knife in the heart of the cake, if it comes out clean/almost clean its done.

Let the cake rest for some time at the counter. Let it cool down. Then take it out and enjoy!

Abuelita is a Mexican Hot chocolate Drink in the form of Tablets. It has various spices like nutmeg, cinnamon etc added that makes it so awesome. Use this, you will not regret. The leftover Abuelita can be used for making the best ever hot chocolate.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Noodle Pacifier.

Hello all,

When your girlfriend is angry with you, make dinner for her like this.

1. Boil a bunch of water with a couple of shakes of salt from a normal salt shaker.
2. Add some premium quality Japanese Somen Noodle. I bought mine at Han Ah Reum. . .the stuff that comes in neat perfectly sized packages of straight noodle, tied together in small bunches with little paper belts written with Japanese characters. No not that one. . .the other one. It says Somen on it. Next shelf to your right.
3. Undress the noodles belts, and let it slip into tbe boiling water delicately. Like a beautiful noodle having a bath.
4. Because the directions on the back of the packet say "boil for 3 minutes", leave them in there for 6 minutes. Such random acts of rebellion show how original a cook you are, and makes your recipe irreproducible.
5. Drain your noodle in a pasta strainer on the sink, and clean up the water that you have spilled all over the place, because you don't have any experience in the kitchen whatsoever.
6. In a Wok (or Non-stick frying pan) add a little (2 tbsp) Olive oil and start heating on a low flame.
7. Add 2 Fresh cut green chillies, half a teaspoon of chlli powder, tsp of Chilli-garlic paste (Sriracha thai stuff), and any other asian sauces that you have in your fridge. Just a half a spoon each. Be creative. For a really wonderful effect, throw in a spoonful of last year's A1 Barbecue steak sauce. The intention is that whoever is eating it will not know all the things you put in. . .and will therefore think of you as an experienced cook, and not a simpleton who uses 1 or 2 ingredients.
8. Black peppers. Life would be empty and meaningless without them.
9. When it all starts crackling in the oil think in your mind: "That's the oil phase. . .and you need an emulsifying agent like turmeric or something before you mix it in. . .but a recipe like this would not taste good with turmeric". Add a pinch of "Dhaniya" powder. Open the fridge to see what else you can add. Start drinking a beer that was lying around in the bottom of the fridge.
10. Add some coconut milk. Just to see what happens. 1 Tbsp.
11. Add the Somen. Stir. Open freezer and add assortment of frozen vegetables. . .especially oriental vegetables. just a little bit. Add some peas.
12. Clean up the kitchen from all the peas you have spilt all over. Have some more beer.
13. Keep cooking until the Somen starts getting a little stuck at the bottom of the Wok/non-stick pan. Remind yourself that noodle is mostly starch, and that it tends to clump upon heating.
14. Taste some of the veggies to see if they are cooked yet. Cook until they are.
15. Taste some of the noodle. If it's not spicy enough, add some ground pepper over the top.

Serve with a side of Bistro Chips, and Cut Tomatoes.

Your girlfriend will stop being angry with you because you made dinner for her. And she won't be able to eat much of it because it is very spicy. Even if she doesn't appreciate your efforts. . .at least you have the beer.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Captain's Delight

My housemate Bruce made this recipe a few weeks back. Its his Grandmother's recipe, and I must say we all enjoyed it. He sent me a copy afterwards and here it is.


Captain's Delight

1 cup mushroom soup (1 can Campbell`s)
1/2 cup milk (generous half cup)
2/3 cup grated cheese (I used Vermont sharp cheddar)
1 1/3 cups Uncle Ben`s rice (I suggest you use a Basmati variety, and soak it/semi boil it before hand)
1/2 tsp. Oregano
Dash black pepper
*1 can tomatoes drained (20 oz.); use 1 1/2 cups of juice + water
2-6 cans of tuna or chicken
(If you want with the tuna, put in a can of whole shrimp)
1/3 cup stuffed olives sliced
Crushed potato chips
*If you can only find 28 oz. can, that's fine.

Heat soup with cheese in low heat plus milk.
Put rice in bottom of casserole dish (a 1 qt dish).
Add oregano and pepper; cut tomatoes and spread over top.
Add enough water for 2 cups liquid (juice from tomatoes), add.
Mix tuna, onion slices, olives in bowl and put over tomatoes; then
Pour soup mixture over. Top with crushed potato chips.
Bake 350 degrees 30-45 minutes. If you have enough liquid, the
Casserole will not get dry if you overbake.
Test by sticking fork into it.

Pasta Dish with Indian Spices.

Amlan Mukherjee writes:
I tried to cook a pasta dish last night with Indian spices. Trader
sells a version that I have relished and was wondering if I could

Usually when I make pasta I use a prego alfredo/marinara sauce, but
yesterday I decided to use a pesto vinaigrette. It was a very nice
sauce and I augmented it and things turned out rather well. It did not
taste like the Trader Joe stuff, but instead had a very nice summery
to it. It definitely wasn't traditional italian, nor would you be able
guess the indian spices, but it was really interesting how everything
meshed together to form a rather subtle flavor. Try it out. I also
some baked red and green peppers and chicken drumsticks. Baked in a
marinade with a coating of sage, oregano and thyme. Heres the recipe
the pasta:


1. Mushrooms (about 15 of the small brown variety: a strain of the
Agaricus Bisporus family)
2. Panch Phoron - a pinch
3. 3 segments of garlic (chopped longitudinally and not too finely)
4. Half an onion (white: chopped longitudinally)
5. 1/4 tsp of cumin, correander and turmeric
6. A bottle of pesto vinaigrette (you can make it yourself if you are
particular about it (http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/pestosauce.htm)
7. Olive Oil (How much? figure it out)


A kitchen with a chopping board, knives and a deep cast iron skillet. I
have stopped using the non-stick stuff. Its way too toxic and cooking
non-stick vessels is far less involving than it is on a cast iron
skillet... and hey I don't mind the extra iron in my food.


Heat the olive oil and put in the garlic and let it fry a little.
As the garlic fries put in the panch phoron.
Turn the heat down a notch below medium and let them gently fry.
As they are almost done dump in the onions and let them fry till light
brown and slowly increase the heat.
Around this point put in the mushrooms and if necessary add a wee bit
more oil if its become too dry.
Soon the mushrooms will give out water and things will start getting
Keep the heat at medium and keep frying.
Add the correander, cumin and turmmeric.
Reduce heat and keep gently frying, be careful not to char.
In a couple of minutes pour in the pesto vinaigrette and you can wash
bottle with some water which you can add to the mix... or simply add
Increase the heat and let some of the water evaporate to the right
consistency (I like it medium dense)

Hopefuly by now your pasta is done boiling and draining (dont forget
olive oil and salt when boiling the pasta).

Mix the sauce with the pasta, gently.

I used one and a half packs of the shaped corkscrew pasta and had 6


Simple Thai Meal for Two

These recipes were initially adapted from the original Thai recipes so that I could use up some leftover basil. Then I realized that I did not have galangal either so I used plain ginger instead–worked just as well. And as some of the ingredients are common between both dishes the prep time goes down.

Rice Noodles with Thai Pesto


1⁄2 cup fresh cilantro
1⁄2 cup fresh basil
1 Tbs. garlic
1 Tbs. ginger
1 Tbs. Sriracha Chili Garlic Paste (any generic Thai Chilli Garlic Paste will do - though we love the Sriracha sauce))
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
4 oz. Rice Noodles


1. In a blender or food processor, purée the cilantro, basil, garlic, ginger, chilli garlic sauce, vegetable oil, salt, sugar and lime juice. Scrape down the sides and process until smooth.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes until noodles are soft, cooked through but still firm and al dente, not mushy. (Check firmness frequently, as you would regular pasta.) Drain water from the noodles.
3. Immediately place the warm noodles in a serving bowl and toss with the pesto mixture.

Sweet & Sour Tofu Stir-Fry


14 oz. firm tofu, strained and cut into 1⁄2” cubes
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1” piece fresh ginger, finely minced
1-2 Tbs. Sriracha Chili Garlic Paste (any generic Thai Chilli Garlic Paste will do)
1 Tbs. vegetable oil 1 medium sized onion, cut into 1⁄2” chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1⁄2” chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1⁄2” chunks
1 (8 oz.) small can pineapple pieces, drained (Optional)
3 Tbs. Brown Sugar

1. While you are cutting up the vegetables, place the tofu in a small bowl with the soy sauce, garlic, ginger and chili garlic sauce to marinate.
2. Heat the oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the tofu and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the green and red peppers and the pineapple (if using) and stir-fry for an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and let it caramelize. Stir and garnish with cilantro before serving.

Amlan's Cooking Algorithm.

This is pretty much my first and last word on the subject of cooking. Spoken by my cooking guru Amlan Mukherjee (who has since given up on cooking, and now lives on home grown pumpkins and hungry-man frozen meals). . .rarely have greater pearls of wisdom been handed down the generations.

Overhead almost for all dishes: (will be refered to as Ingredient x). Everything marked with a star (*) is optional.

1. Chop onions... (as fine as your laziness permits... finer the faster
they get cooked)
2. Chop main ingredient (this could be fish, meat, other veggies) This
is what you would call your dish, in case someone asks you what you have
3. Assimilate about 1-1/2 tsp full of haldi, laal mirch, jira powder,
dhanya powder, garam masala. (vary proportions to experiment on
taste...but typically all these go into whatever you cook)
4. Jira (cumin) seeds (about 3-4 pinches)
5. Rye (mustard) seed (about 1-2 pinches)
6. Tomatoes (chopped fine) (1 small for 1 big onion) *
7. Cloves, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Bay Leaves*
8. Vegetable oil (amt: depending on your health)
9. Ginger and garlic paste * (usually half a tea spoon... creates
pungence... a definite for non-vegetarian dishes... optional for veg
dishes... only ginger paste may be used for veg dishes)
10. chopped halapeno *** (at your own risk)


1. Heat oil (test oil temp by dropping 1 cumin seed. if it crackles
open then oil is ready)
2. put in Ingredient 7 into hot oil (cloves et al.) and wait for about
10 secs... look for crackling with loud report (optional step)
3. put in Ingredient 4 and 5 and fry for about 10-15 secs... be careful
to fry them but not to burn them.
4. put in all onions...(and ingredient 10 if you so desire) and reduce
heat to medium-high. Keep stirring and frying till onions turn light
brown in color.
5. after onions turn mildly brown... put in Ingredient 9 (ginger
et.al.) if you want to... and fry till onions are golden brown
6. put in Ingredient 3 + salt to taste (put in half tsp at this point
and adjust later)
7. fry for about 30 sec to 1 min
8. put in chopped tomatoes.. keep stirring and frying the whole thing
till it becomes mashy and forms a gravy... if you make a separation and the
oil sepaprates from the gravy you know that your gravy is ready.
9. now you put in Ingredient 2 (your main ingredient) and fry for about
a minute in gravy.
10. If you are cooking meat... Then first add water to submerger meat
and then on medium high heat keep stirring and cooking meat in the
gravy for at least 10-15 minutes till water evaporates to desired consistency
or at least till meat takes on deep brown cooked color (ideally you should
marinate the meat from before).
If you are cooking vegetables which don't need boiling or vegetables
which are already boiled, then add the vegetables to the gravy... with very
little water and simmer for a while till you reach necessary
consistency and salt content. Vegetables which need boiling will proceed in the
same way as meat... water + simmer cook till veggies are boiled (typically
for aloo)
If you are cooking meat... same process as meat, but you don't need to
add too much water... fish is soft, and does not need intensive
11. Check for salt... and serve hot.
12. season with correander leaves.

Meat/fish may be marinated in following:

1. 1-2 tbsp of plain curd
2. Ingredient 3
3. some lime juice
4. salt
5. Any optional sauces (teriyaki, stir fry, NOT KETCHUP, sweet and sour