Simple Food Recipes

I am no chef. I am a mom with three kids and who by sheer force and drive learnt how to embrace the nutrition that comes with the food, so I wouldn’t fail miserably as a mom. I learnt about cooking just coz I had to feed the kids. Then I learnt some more coz I wanted to eat better and healthy. Then I learnt even more coz I wanted to take cute food pictures, blame IG. Then I learnt a little more and slightly differently too, coz I wanted something quick and nutritious as long tedious cooking was so not my style.

So, what you see below and the kind of recipes that would follow are ones that you can put together quickly or something that would work well if you have an impatient temperament, or perhaps you are cooking for one or two, or you are the rare visitor in your kitchen. Maybe there is something for all, but this is just a disclaimer that you aren’t going to find long stories and detailed teaspoon measures of how long what stays where.

They will be entertaining and useful though, so try on some and let me know? ūüôā

*****

 

 

Bamboo-Mushroom Stir Fry #VegKetoByRads

Bold And Beautiful Bamboo Stir Fry { #atozchallenge }

BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL.

Yes, that daytime soap opera that drew me in every afternoon in Brussels and continues to enamor folks during lunchtime!

It's funny when I think about how I have always equated a soap opera to a train journey. Anyone can hop on and hop off at whatever station or town as the train chugs along, and you are most definitely promised entertainment and a good view as long as you are on that train.

It didn't matter if you missed an episode, coz it really did not matter in the long run coz the content and story line was just a support system to the main draw! The main draw that is human lives and emotions and drama that swirls and holds us all in its sway. Humans are so drawn to emotions and the stories that we create for ourselves, that we continue to come back to our most favorite pastime as a child.

Story Time.

Is it conditioning then?

Or is it something a lot deeper? To be drawn to something that is so ridiculous and incongruent that your logical brain is screaming "Are you seriously kidding me right now?" but there you are so glued to the idiot box and clapping your hands in mild ecstasy as you see the same story hashed and recycled in so many forms.

Made me wonder the number of times we get drawn into others' drama in the exact similar way despite all the sensors going off and our left (logical) side of the brain is trying real hard to steer us away from it all! We do not attract drama, but we are drawn to it. A subtle difference when you break it down.

It's not too far from how much our brain is drawn to sugar and carbs when you think about it.

As you ponder on that quick detour I took, here's the recipe for this awesome dish that I made. It's low carb and low calorie and bursting with flavor and is good for you! Yeah?

BAMBOO STIR FRY

Bamboo Stir fry #Vegketobyrads

See a B for Bunny there?

So yes, I used Bamboo shoots, Radishes, Tofu, Shiitake mushrooms and also threw in some Green beans.

Why bamboo shoot? This is why! It may look like it's gotten sugar, but when you are using 1/2 cup with other low carb vegetables it is not much in the grand scheme of ITFYM (if it fits yoru macros) lifestyle

 

Bamboo shoot stir fry, a simple low carb keto dish with asian flavor

You'll find bamboo shoot in the ethnic/asian grocery stores. Try and avoid the canned if possible. I've seen these pale yellow colored hollow cones floating around in a large bucket of ice cold water at my local grocery chain (Lotte)

Ive always walked past it quickly, not really knowing what one can do with it, but once Keto happened, every vegetable out there is fair game1 So today I picked up one little cone and bagged it. It is soft and mushy on the outside but felt it would be firm once dry. The checkout lady was from Nepal and she is an ever-smiling young thing, so naturally I asked her if she ever ate this bamboo shoot.

Oh yes, she declared excitedly. You eat spice no? Then just cut it up, keep it separate and then make your onion masala, add this and eat with roti!

Oh! How simple, I declared and headed home and promptly made a stir fry! I mean, if making it Indian style was so easy, we must explore and push boundaries right? So I did.

RECIPE FOR BAMBOO STIR FRY

Making faces is optional of course, but I would encourage you to play with your food. You will like them better. No kidding.

Chopped each of them in smaller bite sized portions.

In a pan, add 2 tbsp of coconut oil (for fat) and let it smoke. Add 2 dried red chillies, and then add the meaty mushrooms, radishes, and beans and push them all around and together for a few minutes. Then add the chopped bamboo shoots, the chives, and the tofu and mix it all.

bamboo stir fry keto

 

Add 1 tbsp of sesame oil, 2 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of chilli sauce. (I like it hot, you could temper it down if you'd like) bamboo stir fry keto

Mix it all in together, spoon into a bowl and dig in.

bamboo stir fry with noodles

If you have a partner or a kid who want to eat "normal" then add some leftover rice or make some noodles to the bamboo stir fry and fold in the vegetables together.

Done!

 

Like? If you do make it, let me know and/or tag me ūüôā

Other low carb vegetables that start with the letter B are:

Green Beans

Button Mushrooms

Bitter gourd

Will link recipes as I get to them.

Enjoy and always check nutrition values before you start cooking/eating them veggies! 

***

This is part of the #AtoZchallenge where I am posting a recipe a day mostly related to Keto or the low carb diet. If you are new and here the first time, these are the earlier posts:

A - Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Butter 

***

 

 

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Wednesday wonder woman series blog

New Exciting Things On The Blog This April

A couple of exciting things are brewing on my blog here and I wanted to share with you, so you know what to expect.

First off, am doing the April blogathon -

the A to Z Challenge that I mentioned previously in this post. What is also exciting is that I will be posting a recipe a day, mainly low carb and keto along with other fitness and fun stuff as I count down the alphabet.

So for example:

A could be an asparagus recipe.

B could be about how I make my bulletproof coffee. Or maybe It's about beans. You see how it goes?

Earlier I'd imagined I would just write, now I've upped the challenge and am throwing in a recipe every single day. I mean, if it's X, am quite unsure what I would write about or if there is a vegetable out there that can fit that bill, and those days, am going to neatly segway out to other fun recipes!

April blog recipes everyday #vegketobyrads

It's exciting and folks have been messaging me since I announced on Instagram and it promises to be a good month. It's a double whammy of work, and am also traveling not just once, but twice within the month! So thinking, planning, writing up the posts and then making the food and the pictures and scheduling the posts will get overwhelming for sure. Plus, all the other mom stuff that I have signed up for over the month, I need all the luck and patience I can muster.

I would really appreciate if you can holler and drop me a comment and some feedback if you do use any of the recipes I post. Would encourage me to do better?

***

Coming to the next big news!

Plenty folks have over the past year asked me why and if I have discontinued featuring women who make a difference. It was wildly popular (if I say so myself, the hits alone were crazy for a fledgling blog - Mschutzpah.com), people loved reading about simple, ordinary woman who showed grace, strength, and passion under their own circumstances. Hop on there if you'd like to read more, while I'll eventually compile it all together soon once I get some breathing room.

It fell through coz I got busy among other things (health being a huge driver) and primarily even the few women I approached didn't want to be featured! Can you believe that?!

So many accomplished women are incredibly humble and shy! Humility is all good, but shying away from what you truly are and to accept yourself in all your glory is a learned skill. I hope this little spotlight will bring an awareness within ourselves and how we see other women.

I have a more concrete version of where I want to go with this and why I want to do this. Plus, enough folks asked why I quit highlighting stories of women and girls who make a difference in some way, enough to make me feel guilty. It seemed to be something folks were enjoying, so it seemed only fair to take that effort again. Plus the timing: what with the world and society taking a sharp turn and the need of the hour is to not mellow down but to aggressively push through and assert our rights and privileges, hence, here I am.

It becomes our duty and responsibility to send that elevator down once we reach a higher place. This series is a small elevator coming down to you, if you so choose to get on.

Hope it makes a difference to a few of you. There is much goodness and grace and especially under pressure out there, and am only grateful that I have the opportunity and the means to also be able to bring this forward to you.

Wednesday wonder woman series blog

 

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The first one is spectacular. It's posted right up after this, so do stop by and read about how cool they are and what they do. feedback's always welcome! ūüôā

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Roasted broccoli with soy-ginger has the right flavor and taste for that quick keto meal or snack

Recipe: Roasted Broccoli With Soy-Ginger {Keto/Low Carb}

I know, I know, there are plenty of you going "broccoli? no thank you"  but seriously guys, it tastes just great when done right! I didn't care for it much either, then I started getting the frozen ones on a friend's recommendation and my kids fell in love with it!

This was their favorite afternoon snack, once they got home and as time went by, they learned to do it themselves too. Grab a few pieces, thaw it just a bit, add some grated cheese on top, and slip it into the microwave again and oh boy, it's pretty tasty alright.

Wait, that dish by itself is a great low carb/keto snack, right? Yep!

So, after eating a few of such plates, I wanted a change and so other dishes came along. I've made broccoli cheese bake, broccoli curry (Indian style) and even broccoli pan fry, but I still think broccoli baked is the best way to bring out its flavors. I also loved that this Asian flavor goes great with it, add some gravy in and it could be your favorite Chinese takeout dish!

This is what I made today:

roasted broccoli with soy and ginger

Roasted Broccoli with Soy-Ginger

Ingredients:

  • 1 broccoli head
  • 2 tbsp of soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp of oil (sesame would be great, but I use coconut oil)
  • a wee bit of sugar to cut some heat (or not if you are doing keto)
  • sesame seeds

roasted broccoli with soy and ginger for keto snack/meal

Recipe:

I grated the ginger and let it sit in the soy sauce for about 15 minutes.

Wash and chop broccoli into bite-sized portions. I like the meaty stalks, but if you'd rather not, feel free to chop them off.

Toss the soy sauce onto the broccoli pieces and coat well.

Pre-heat oven to 400

Place the broccoli pan in the oven for about 20-30 minutes depending.

Remove, sprinkle some roasted sesame seeds and dig away!

roasted broccoli with soy and ginger for keto snack

If you are into keto, then eat roasted broccoli as is.

If your family is not, then just make a large batch of the broccoli, make some rice/noodles and well, dinner is served!

I love how crispy it turns and that the soy and ginger flavor steeps right into the florets Yum!

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Low carb root jicama, recipe for fries and indian style curry - while staying keto and low carb

Recipe: Jicama Fries And Curry {Keto/Low Carb}

Jicama is a root vegetable. It has a nutty flavor to it and is firm and very cheap. It is a tuber, originally from South America/Mexico regions but unlike the other tubers (potato, carrot, and beets) it has very little starch. It is filled with fiber and makes for a great low carb vegetable. Not only is it good on the inside, but it also cooks great! It tastes a bit like a potato, and bakes, fries and even tastes great raw! The possibilities in the kitchen are plenty.

I've made jicama fries/chips earlier a few times and we've all loved them. I especially liked them with Mayo, but they taste great with any cheesy dip, mayonnaise, and ketchup or hot sauce. The kids had no clue that they were not eating the more popular potato either! So there's a win right there for all you mothers looking to try and cut some carbs and starch for the kids.

Low carb root jicama, recipe for fries and indian style curry - while staying keto and low carb

This vegetable has some serious perks to it from a nutritional standpoint. It's less starchy, has a low glycemic index (great for diabetics), aids digestion as it has all that fiber, has a ton of vitamin B and C, potassium, copper, and iron! Just google if you don't believe me. Here are the nutritional facts:

Jicama Fries recipe vegketobyrads keto lowcarb

Here's a quick recipe to make Jicama fries - in the oven and also a way to make the Indian style curry.

Jicama Fries

Low carb root jicama, recipe for fries and indian style curry - while staying keto and low carb

The tuber tends to be more sweet than bland and the taste stays despite cooking, so you may want to offset it with spicy dip. On the flip side, this could very well hit a diabetic's sweet tooth and satisfy those cravings.

Recipe:

  1. Peel and cut the root into small thin slices. You could either make them thin and long sticks or cut them into rounds, but the point is they need to be thin enough and evenly thin enough.
  2. in a bowl, add 2 tbps of coconut oil (olive oil for non-keto-ers) in a bowl, add salt, black pepper and mix well.
  3. Pour over the slices and mix well.
  4. Bake in a 325 deg oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Eat with hot sauce or guacamole or a cheesy dip. YUM!

 

Jicama Curry (Indian Style)

Low carb root jicama, recipe for fries and indian style curry - while staying keto and low carb

Looks like your typical potato fry done south indian style but it has a crunch to it, that's just so unique. The kid loved it. It also has that typical sweet taste to it that really won't go, so it really is a mesh of fine tastes all together. Pretty unique thing this vegetable.

Recipe:

  1. Peel and cut the vegetable into small blocks and pieces just like you would do with a potato or a potato hash. Put them in salted cold water. They do not turn black or brown, but this helps with some crispness to the curry
  2. Add some oil in a pan, add jeera (cumin) and hing (asafoetida) and let it heat.
  3. Add the Jicama pieces and fry on medium-high heat.
  4. Once they are half-cooked, add some chopped onions and cook it all together for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add salt and some chilli powder, mix it all together.
  6. Can be had with rice or plain. (Yes, you can eat a bowl of this plain and top it with some yogurt and it would taste great, I promise)

So, what do you think? Make it and come back and tell me? I'd love to hear from you!

I can think of a few other ways one could use Jicama ("Hicama" is how it's pronounced, coz it's originally from South America and Spanish language doesn't do J, but instead pronounce it as H)

Shall update as I go along on the blog and also on Instagram. Subscribe either here, on the blog or on instagram or even on Pinterest.

Thank you!

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Featured by Reshkitchen.com regarding me and keto lifestyle

Featured: Where I Answer A Few Questions About Me

So, I got featured, by Rekha S of the blog: Reshkitchen  and she is one of the sweetest food bloggers I've known. She has the most unassuming disposition, always is calm and collected and chugs at her work with due diligence while maintaining such decorum, friendliness, and absolutely no judgment. I've known her a couple years now, mainly on Instagram and on Twitter and not only does she makes awesome food, and blogs them all, but she also comments on others pictures and posts and duly replies to all the ones that come her way.

After being there awhile, I can tell you with great confidence, that's like perhaps 10% of the Instagrammers who would do that. It's not only cute, but it shows that as a person she treats everyone with the same amount of regard and values their time and effort. Something I can totally relate to in a few ways. In an age when everyone takes everyone for granted and insist on privileges that they expect the world to owe them, this is a breath of fresh air.

She has an Inspiration Series (much like my chutzpah.com series) on food bloggers and runs a feature on them on her blog. ...and she got me on there, so yeah, I did some fair amount of humming and hawing and delayed it so long and finally got the words down on paper and sent it to her.

Hop on over to see what she asked and what I said, about life, keto, my voluntary work and just being me. ūüôā

This is a preview. - Click on the visual below or here: 

inspiration series, rekha reshkitchen, keto, blogger

Disclaimer: I am not going to say am an¬†expert in Keto lifestyle, am learning as I go along, but it's been a great learning experience. Am more than happy to offer any kind of knowledge from what I know. All my posts related to Keto are here - under the¬†Category Keto - and include recipes and a few menu plans that I'll still add on based on how it works for me. I like to keep things simple, and it reflects in my food and I cannot stress that enough. ūüôā

Feel free to ask me any questions you have regarding low carb and I'll tell you what I know, and if I don't know, I;ll at least send you to a place where you could get your answer.

Thanks for reading, do click on the picture above and you will reach Rekha's post on me. Or you can click here! 

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Egg free breakfasts while on Keto diet/lifestyle #vegKetoByRads

Egg Free Keto (Low Carb) Breakfasts

My philosophy on breakfasts for keto is simple. Eat a meal. Period. It doesn't *have* to be similar to what you ate before you got on keto. Change your mind. Why do we have to stick to regular breakfasts like cereals or waffles or toast? Or the variety of Indian breakfasts that are out there?

There is a TON of variety out there. Here, I'll wait while you go check this link out and come back here and agree ūüėČ

So, here's my pitch.

Let it go. Take that leap. You decided to change for the better, so why hold on to older habits and conformations. Look at this journey from a healthier holistic angle. You are hungry. Your body needs food. You give it food. It will work for you.

Done.

Honestly, being in this mindset has not only worked great, but it has also removed massive pressure on "What to eat that is keto and still have protein and God, do I have to eat eggs again?" and such. It's made me listen to my body with just one goal and that is to feed it. No other rules and visuals.

With that bit of that crazy notion in place, have that cup of black coffee, or bullet-proof coffee and choose from these options:

  1. Eggs - Way many choices right? Omelets, boiled, poached, scrambled and so on. The variety one can make with sides and vegetables added in and then cheeses are huge, so there's that.
  2. Smoothies - Can't do without these. Protein powder and Almond milk as starters. The variations I add: either of the two berries and maybe some greens, or peanut butter or chocolate or coffee powder. It's yum, fills and is quick!
  3.  Chia - Soaked chia is just simply great! Two tablespoons of it soaked either in almond milk or coconut milk or cream and left in the refrigerator overnight, just becomes heavenly the next day! Add some berries for flavor. I've even added in some chocolate/cocoa powder and cinnamon at times. It fills you, has incredible protein and lasts you a while.
  4. Avocado - Now you could always add avocado as a side to any of the above, but by itself, it fills well too. I've had it as early morning guacamole (i skip the onion for obvious reasons) and slather some roasted broccoli with it and gobble it down. It's so tasty! I've also cut it into pieces and eaten it with a dip. You could also grill the avocado and have it warm. Possibilities are plenty.
  5. Paneer - Paneer is the Indian cheese and is quite hardy if you'd like to grate and make a scramble/hash out of it. I mostly just chop it and pan fry it in butter with another vegetable like some mushrooms or peppers and have it. I've also grated it when am feeling a little indulgent and then mix it in with some Indian spices and cook them all together in the pan.

There are variations and other plenty options, but these 5 different groups offer a good variety to choose from for starters. They are all low carb, and offer a good balance of protein and fats, which is a great start to the day!

I've made almost all the kinds that I've listed above and posted them on my Instagram, so if you want to follow me there, you'd see options. They too small and really basic that I don't really make a post here. If you are on Pinterest, then this is the board you may want to follow. All keto related posts from this blog and also my IG get fed into that board.

I'll update with pictures and a plan over the coming weeks. Subscribe and follow me on IG or twitter so as not to miss any posts

 

 

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instant pot rads lemon pickle

Recipe: Lemon Pickle in Instant Pot

So I also have an instant pot.

If you are one of the rare ones who are wondering what on earth an instant pot is, well, welcome to earth! Click the¬†link here and here and see you in a couple of hours or days. ūüėČ

That said, I wad introduced to it by a young friend last April. Am a relative noob as well. I bought it promptly, under her persuasion and then didn't open it until September! Am brilliant that way. Once I did, I fumbled and read and asked a few questions and watched in awe at the complete finesse and chutzpah with which ladies (and a few men) made this electric pot do some amazing stuff. From the usual Indian bean dishes to caramel and cakes and plenty more. Brilliant adaptation skills I must admit.

Thinking along the lines of how my young friend coached me, I got better with working the timings of various settings and I've been getting a bit bold experimenting.

Every spring/summer, I make a small batch of lemon and tomato pickle coz it's the season, so I chopped up a few lemons and on a whim made lemon pickle.

Since I bragged mentioned on twitter and a few wanted to know, here is a blog post with the recipe.

Confession: I try and not type much and long on the phone. I once had the beginnings of carpal tunnel syndrome and so limit my typing on the gadget, which also limits my commenting and interaction, but oh well! 

I had 5 lemons, so used them all. This is actually a simple, old way of making lemon pickle on the stove since maybe 10-15 years. I just replaced hours of slow cooking on the stove top with the instant pot and used the same measures of spices.

RECIPE FOR LEMON PICKLE IN INSTANT POT

  • 5 Lemons.
  • 3 tablespoons each of oil, salt and chilli powder.
  • 4 tablespoons of Mustard-Methi powder (explained below)
  • 1 instant pot!

instant pot rads lemon pickle

Dry roast 1 measure of mustard seeds with 1/4 measure of methi (fenugreek) seeds. Cool and powder.

instant pot rads lemon pickle

In the Instant pot, add the oil, and some mustard seeds in SAUTE mode.

Mildly peel the lemons if the skin is too thick. Chop into 8 pieces each.

Add the lemons, the salt and chilli powder and the powdered mustard-fenugreek mix.

Set it on slow cook, default setting being 2 hours.

I let it sit and didn't bother peeking in till about 1.30 and the I had to restart it for another hour. BUT, I think for just 5 lemons, 2 hours is plenty. Check taste and adjust spices accordingly. I had to add another spoon each of salt and chilli powder and the mustard mix powder. Instant pot tends to take in more spices than normal cooking. The pickle came together well, was the right consistency and taste and the smell was just divine!

instant pot, lemon pickle rads

It stays outside a few days for sure but keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of months. Try it and let me know?

I am cooking another pickle, and we shall see how that goes ūüôā

 

 

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zoodles, keto vegketobyrads lowcarb spiralizer zuchhini

Recipe: Tangy Zoodles With Walnuts {Keto/Low Carb}

Zucchini noodles are fondly called Zoodles. I know, it almost sounds like a character from a TV show from your childhood, but hey, the name fits! When I first came across it on Instagram by this awesome lady who runs Inspiralized - I balked. As fascinated I was about all the stringy gorgeous noodles that were coming out of that machine, and the stuff she was making, I couldn't bring myself to eat an ENTIRE DISH MADE JUST WITH ZUCCHINI!

Then there was this voice in my head going "How the hell would you know if you don't try it?"

The exact line I tell my kids when they whine about a new vegetable. So, like a good mom and a shopper, I promptly bought the Spiralizer off Amazon and have made a few zoodles here and there. I definitely didn't like the raw taste, so I'd occasionally stir fry or quickly blanch it and they were palatable for sure.

With the low carb phase and vegetables being my go-to, I dusted the spiralizer with gusto and started thinking outside the box. This particular dish I adapted it to have a higher fat content as the zoodles alone are low carb for sure but not high fat. Plus I like some tang in my dish.

Here goes!

INGREDIENTS

  • Zucchini - 1
  • Coconut Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Sun-dried tomatoes - 3-4 pieces
  • Garlic and Red Chilli Flakes
  • Roasted Walnuts (Peanuts) - 1 ounce or so
  • Salt

RECIPE

This is all that you would need

rads keto zoodles keto low carb

Nutrition check for Sun Dried Tomatoes - as this is purely a spice and not a necessary nutrient (fat/protein/carb) . Less than 1 g of net carbs!

rads keto zoodles keto low carb

Nutrition check for Walnuts. All nuts have a fair amount of fat in it, but walnuts, macadamia and brazil nuts have low carbs as compared to other nuts and hence are super keto friendly. An ounce has only 2 g of net carbs!rads keto zoodles keto low carb

Chop garlic fine. Add coconut oil to the pan, let heat, add garlic and red chilli flakes. Toss around and turn off heat. This is basically making your garlic-chilli oil. I like making it fresh, but if you have a store bought or already made one, then that works too.

rads keto zoodles keto low carb coconut oil

Chop sun dried tomatoes into smaller sized pieces and dry roast walnuts just a bit. Make your zoodles through the spiralizer. The handheld one works just fine too.

rads keto zoodles keto low carb

Bring the pan and oil back to the stove and heat. Add zoodles and stir fry on high. Do NOT salt yet coz that would just make the zucchini to start sweating and it will get mushy. Once you see that the zoodles are all coming together and they don't look as raw, add the walnuts and sundried tomatoes and switch off heat. Sprinkle salt and voila!

rads keto zoodles keto low carb

Disclaimer: The picture above has peanuts instead of walnuts, and that's also an option if you'd like. I used walnuts for the recipe as it provided a change in taste. I can't find the original pic with walnuts so using the one with peanuts, so please excuse ūüôā

My 12-year-old thought this was a pasta dish and went ahead and had a few forkfuls before asking me what this was. LOL! So yeah, this is vegan and low carb and high fat and kid-friendly (don't tell them though!) 

Lemme know what you think or how you liked it? If you are following me now and recently, check my Instagram page for the hashtag #radsgetsfit - mostly low carb recipes and also that occasional show off selfie coz of how am shrinking and we all love taking pictures when we start liking how we look!

Follow and subscribe the blog for quick low carb recipes for the body and other things that can make your mind a lot more tuned. Thanks!

 

 

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crispy brussels sprouts rads kowthas keto

Crispy Brussels Sprouts Recipe {Keto/Low-Carb}

I started off my life outside India there and it's been a great, loving place to me. It's strange but I never laid my eyes on the vegetable Brussels Sprouts until I got to the US. That's also probably coz I was busy looking at other yummy stuff like Haagen Dazs ice creams and cedar homes along the lake in between being pregnant and setting up home and changing diapers and hopping off trams and metros! It's only recently that

It's only recently that I've started exploring and liking the vegetable, and simple roast is what I usually stick to. Once it's done right, the sharp taste softens and its quite the filling dish! I've pretended it's cabbage and made some Indian curries and no one can really tell the difference ūüôā

Anywayyysss, I realized that Brussels Sprouts is also a low-carb vegetable with about 5g of net carbs in one cup, so woohoo! Made these crispy and spicy (so what's new) in the oven and they turned out so incredibly tasty!

crispy brussels sprouts keto low carb

INGREDIENTS

Brussel sprouts 1.5 cups
Coconut oil 1-2 tbsp
Garlic salt 1 tsp
Chilli powder 1 tsp
I used 6 of the sprouts, roughly 3 ounces or 100 grams (since Keto life initially stresses so much on weighing and counting every single thing we eat)
crispy-brussels-sprouts keto lowcarb rads
Used my small food processor and halved and shredded them to make about 1.5 cups.
crispy-brussels-sprouts keto lowcarb rads
Added 1 tbsp of coconut oil, some garlic salt and chilli flakes (you could also use any other spice you like, I prefer this and it did work well) and mixed it all well and let it sit a few minutes blending in.
crispy-brussels-sprouts keto lowcarb rads mcCormick

Threw it in the oven at 350 deg for close to 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on it, I like them all browned and crispy so I let it stay in closer to 20. ūüôācrispy-brussels-sprouts keto lowcarb rads Done! I just took this cup to my corner on the couch and ate it all up. :O) Was done so perfect and right and the taste was bang on. I was also quite full, and

Was done so perfect and right and the taste was bang on. I was also quite full, and didn't need another fix for another 2 hours.
crispy-brussels-sprouts keto lowcarb rads

For non-keto folks, make a large batch and you can eat this with roti/bread/rice. Nice?

I actually like Brussels Sprouts crispy more than any other way and I believe it makes a great snack too. Shredded and spiced, instead of just halves. It is really all about bringing in variety to the same vegetable yeah?

Subscribe to this space and also follow on Instagram for quicker and smaller ideas and tips on food, health, and lifestyle!
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Tzatziki, desi style, indian style. kowthas tunnelingthru keto

Recipe: Tzatziki, Indian Style {Keto-LowCarb}

So, am fat fasting, coz Ive been a bad girl and have not been too strict with staying in keto. Who am I kidding? I am not guilty at all, am okay with my indulgence and I refuse to beat myself up about it. The cheats are far and few and very worthy so, all's well as long as I am firmly back in the saddle and riding high.

Egg fast is one way of dragging your ass back into Keto after an indulgent cheat day. I just cant eat eggs all day. So, the alternative is Fat Fast. Which is really a huge misnomer, coz you aren't "fasting" but in fact you are "stuffing" your face and body with fat.
No, it isn't as disgusting as it sounds ūüôā (ok, maybe a wee bit, but hush!)

Why Fat fast? 

Once you are Keto-Adapted, sometimes you need a boost if you have stalled, or if you've had a cheat day and you want to get back on the wagon, you could do this for 3 days to get you on track. Helps. You lose a few pounds, but it is expected you gain back one or two once you get back to regular Keto diet. Please do read more on links provided! 
Click on these --> Egg Fast and Fat Fast <-- to know the sciences and philosophy behind why and how. (It's also an Atkins diet original)

What FAT FAST boils down to is to eat about 5-6 meals of 200 calories each OR eat 2 meals of 500 calories each, and with 80% of it coming from Fat, and done only for 3 days max.

The first time I Fat Fasted, I ate tubs of sour cream and eggs the entire 3 days. Ugh! It was HARD. Very Hard.
This time, I got smarter, and am improvising and so smug about it that am sharing!
Here's a recipe for a desi twist to the original Tzatziki - The Greek's famous yogurt-dill dip. Which works well during the Fat fast and also otherwise!

Recipe:

  • 1 cup full-fat hung curd (or greek yogurt)
  • 1 cucumber medium size
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1/4 bunch coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed

Procedure

  1. If you need to make hung curds, then take a cup of full-fat curds/yogurt and strain in a muslin cloth or even a tea strainer. Takes an hour or so based on water content. If you are going to use Greek Yogurt, then use as is. Greek yogurt does have some carbs, so keep an eye on that.
  2. Once the yogurt is drained and thick, remove into a bowl. Chop Cucumber fine or grate but grating would release water, so your call. Grind the 3 green chilies + coriander leaves and cumin seeds into a rough paste. 
  3. Mix the green chilli paste with the cucumber, add salt and mix well.
  4.  Add this entire mix to the hung curd/yogurt. Add some more coriander leaves for garnish. Let sit for a few minutes so flavors mingle happily.tzatziki indian style keto low carb
  5. Step into heaven as you lick the entire bowl clean! I kid you not.

Calories:

Calorie count would be very close to 200 calories as its just the hung curds mainly with another 15-20 for the cucumbers. Once you get the hang of the diet and how much each food group contributes to how many nutrients, it is easy to stay within limits.
Milk does have carbs in it, so I would say it comes close to the breakdown below. But keep in mind that you are allowed some carbs, if you are able to stick to just eating Fat the rest of the day to manage your Macros. 
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Menu Plan Keto vegetarian january 14

Menu Plans: Vegetarian Keto and Low Carb {January}

Am on Instagram and getting a message or two pretty much every week for help and tips and what to eat and some just ask for menu plans direct while following this way of eating (woe) or diet.

Keto diet is baffling from "what to eat" concept. It challenges years of conditioned way of eating. The foods that we eat at certain times of the day (and especially more so in the Indian cuisine) is pretty set and it takes concentrated effort to snap out of the regulated BREAKFAST, LUNCH,and DINNER and think of INGESTION and NUTRITION as 

HUNGER and FOOD. 

Keto is based on a concept that you eat when you are hungry. So, I've eaten omelets for dinner and Ive had coconut soup for breakfast and Cauliflower vegetable fry for brunch. It's all good. There is hunger and then there is food.

I didn't magically get there from Day 1 though, it's a definite learned skill and thought process and that's what works for me. I like to keep things simple and removing the constraint of thinking food in terms of WHEN you could eat them helped me.

Another fabulous realization I've had about low-carb or Keto lifestyle is that cooking is SO SIMPLE, and FAST, and EASY and No FUSS! Absolutely. You'll actually be wondering what to do with all the free time you suddenly have! (I don't have such luck, coz I cook regular fare for the family, but you'll see it's true!)

One more (last one I promise if you insist) fantastic thing is that you also eat less. So, leftover palooza is a great bonus! ūüôā That further reduces your time in kitchen!¬†

MENU PLANS

This takes some time and effort to put together, and a simple internet search does ive you plenty options, but since we do need plenty of certain food items, doing targeted grocery runs will help. I used to Keto Grocery shop one day and then go another day for regular stuff. My head was a mess trying to do both at the same time when I started this in April 2016. Am better now, but it doesn't hurt to split your grocery trips.

I am not promising menu plans on a weekly basis, but I'll aim to do a few different ones so you could make your own and pick and choose based on your dietary preferences. I know many who don't eat egg being a vegetarian and that's a challenge coz your protein levels are important, but it is possible, and I'll put something out next.

My diet boundaries:

I am a vegetarian (I don't eat anything that once moved, physically) and I eat eggs. So, my foods will have some eggs in it. I eat them only scrambled or in omelets (not boiled or sunny side up etc)

Here is a January Menu Plan that uses Eggs.  (Will do a Non-Egg one next)

DISCLAIMER: You are on your own regarding macros and calories. This is just an easy guideline to tackle the "what to eat?" whenever we get hungry!

Menu Plan keto vegetarian rads tunnelingthru grocery

and here's the grocery list for the above menu:

Menu Plan keto vegetarian rads tunnelingthru grocery

Download the January 14th Menu Plan and PDF here

I have a space just for Keto stuff - VegKetoByRads - but I will have to move out of that space soon, and will be adding them all on here, but until there, you can always check there.

I will be posting¬†pictures and recipes (or links to recipes) on my Instagram, so follow me there if you'd like, or just scroll down to see the widget and click on the link there. Also, don't forget to check Instagram Stories - coz well, it's fun and food related and all else I do with my day¬†and is easier to show how to put food together there. ūüôā

Hope this helps! Please comment here or let me know on Instagram or Twitter, coz If you tell me you find value in what I put out, you benefit, coz I can continue to put out more value, and share and also learn from you in the process. See, how it all works in the grand scheme of life?

May the Keto-Force be with you! ūüėČ

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Mango pickle andhra style instant spicy

Day 3: Instant Cut Mango Pickle - {Blogathon}

Mango Pickle - Mukkala Pachadi (Telugu)

My comfort food is what reminds me of home. The warmth that floats in to every cell and breath as you take a sniff and let the taste buds savor the food as it touches your tongue. I have a few, but this Mango Pickle is at the top of the list.

When we started getting mangoes all year round at the local Asian store, this was even more easier to make and missing home was not always that dreary or sad.

This is the green mango pickle, that one can make within a few minutes and it comes so close to the tastes and the smell of the original mango pickle of Andhra Pradesh. Of course the original calls for soaking and lots of oil and some drying etc, but there is this quick raw version which satiates just as awesome.

cut mango green chillies collage

How do I do it?

  1. Well, get the firmest green mango you can lay your hands on. Peel and chop it into small pieces.
  2. Chop a couple of green chillies as well. This is for the extra zing that your spice craving tongue needs. Skip if you don't care for it.
  3. In a pan, dry roast equal quantity (1/.2 tsp each) of Mustard seeds and Methi seeds. Cool and then powder and keep aside.
  4. Add 1 tsp of salt (or to taste) and also 1 tsp of red chilli powder to the cut mango pieces and mix well.
  5. Then add 1/2 of that powdered mixture to the mango pieces and mix again.
  6. In 3 tsp of oil (use any oilive/vegetable oil, but for best taste, use gingelly/sesame seed oil) - add Hing, and some mustard seeds and let it splutter.
  7. Add the oil to the mango pieces and mix it all together.
  8. Taste and adjust spices accordingly. The powdered mustard and methi seeds combo will have a strong pungent aftertaste, which is how it's supposed to be. In 24 hours, the taste settles in well, but it's good to go right from when you mix it. However, this powder can be skipped if you don't feel up to it. It just authenticates the pickle a wee bit more closer home for me.
  9. Done!

Mix it with rice and some ghee and you, I promise will be in heaven.

mango pickle food andhra instant cut

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Cranberry Chutney {Desi Style}

It's been 18 years since Ive set foot in this country and adopted it as my home. Ive always wanted to be here, so my mind was open to its customs and traditions and holidays and along with the society and friends we made, celebrating and observing these along with our Hindu/Indian customs came easily.

Come Fall, it's a mad rush to go through the motions.

Alternately flipping between the Indian calendar and the Roman, me and my family along with many other Indian-American families across the nation juggle our days, evenings between the various foods and ways of celebrations.

Thanksgiving is one such non-religious celebration that focuses so much on well, Thanks and Gratitude, which has become so much of a cognizant part of my thoughts and way of life these days, but also about some specific foods. Foods that we, cursed with the tongue that craves spices and scoffs on the bland fare that we grudgingly chow down coz of our kids, adapt to our palate.

Dishes like Asparagus curry, Red Chard stew, Dill Pulav, Tomatillo chutney, Quinoa pudding (payasam) and the Thanksgiving special, the Cranberry Chutney.

Most of it is really pretense. You taste a fruit or vegetable that is non-native to your land, close your eyes and parallel it nice and close to a fruit or vegetable from India. Then you tweak things a bit and go cook it pretty much like how you would the native dish!

Cranberries are tart. Sour and tart and cook really quick and easy. When I first tasted them, they reminded me of  Green Tamarind/Mango. Once I saw them go mush within minutes in teh pan, and knowing my love for all things spice and chutney, coming up with this was a no-brainer.

cranberry chutney

Here is how I made cranberry chutney, one that can go well with white rice and a dollop of ghee, or use it as a spread on some thick sandwich bread with cucumbers and tomato, or even with hot rotis.

Recipe:

  • Wash and clean cranberries. I use a 1 pound bag that's normally sold during this time of the year.

  • In a pan, take 2 tsp of oil. Add Hing, mustard seeds ¬†and let it splutter.

  • Add cranberries, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp sugar, 2 green chillies sliced and add a wee bit of water, reduce flame, shut it and let it cook a few minutes.

  • Check and all the berries should be squished and you'll see a pretty mess in the pan.

  • Open and cook till most water and juices are absorbed.

  • Once it's thick and come together, take off pan and let cool.

In a separate pan, roast 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp methi seeds and 3 red chillies. I like things hot, and also the spice goes down after a day, so it's okay to go a bit extra on the heat. Once this is cooled, dry grind them into a fine powder. Mix this powder to the cranberry mush nicely, and taste. It usually could use some salt at this point, so add a little more.

Done!

This is how I make cranberries for Thanksgiving. Indian style. Coz a blend of what we are and what we have adopted must come together in a fine delicious mix and we cannot have it any other way!

Enjoy and hope you make it. Come back and let me know! ūüôā

 

 

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Red Grape Chutney Recipe

Recipe: Red Grape Chutney 

Yep, the very same red grapes that one associates with red wine. I made a chutney of them. The idea, I must confess came from other friend(s) who promptly came up with a dozen different things one could do with these red grapes.

Why did I even ask you say?

Coz they turned sour, that's why. I am a bit of a picky nut that way. I like my grapes sweet. I love teh champagne ones, the tiny seedless ones in yogurt rice or for stuffing my mouth with them coz that many can actually fit in! I love the green ones more than the red though. The red's skin can get hardy. The kids love it coz it makes for an easy quick snack, and I also recently found that they are low in the glycemic index, so double yay indeed for these cute things.

So we had a box of grapes and I had conveniently forgotten to store them away the night we bought them, so well, the next day they sadly turned a wee bit sour. Did I tell you I was picky about grapes being sour? So in my book they were either sweet or sour, no matter HOW sour. So, they were sour and I got all sad. That was a nice 2 pound box and I was feeling hugely guilty getting rid of them. So I did the next best thing and turned to the crowds fo help, and help they did.

I got answers from Grape Thokku/Chutney, to Grape pie, to yes, red wine. :!

So, I defaulted and my eyes went all sparkly at the thought of chutney!

Then I said, wait, if cranberries could be made into a chutney, how far can red grapes be behind? So off I went. Chopped them up into halves coz these were large and also the skin was tad thick.

 

..and I got the stove on, and hey, presto, this is how the chutney turned.

It was D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!

The girlfriend came over and she took some home and later texted that it was close to heaven. ūüėČ

Now, with such a glowing compliment, I think I liked it even more and promptly ate a bucket of rice with it. :/

Anyways, you want recipe?

Never mind the picture below. As yummy as it tastes, you know compotes and chutneys and the likes are so horribly NOT photogenic and this is all that I could do! :-))

Here you go:

  • I filled to the brim of a corning bowl with cut grapes.
  • Then in a saucepan, added some oil, some hing and mustard seeds and let it splutter on medium.
  • Added the washed grapes, a wee bit of salt, and some water, shut it and let it cook.
  • It can cook¬†a good 30 minutes.
  • Kept stirring it occasionally so it wouldn't stick, and ultimately it became a fine squishy mush.
  • Added some more salt, and let it mix and cool well.
  • In a separate pan, dry roast 1/5 tsp of methi seeds, 1 tsp of mustard seeds and 2 red chillies, for a few minutes till u can smell the heat.¬†(if your grapes are REALLY sour, then up the chilli level or increase mustard heat, salt will go up too)
  • Cool and grind to a (not too fine) powder.
  • Mix this with the chutney and let it soak in. After one night, the spices blend in well, and the taste comes together nicely. Goes great with rice and rotis.

The taste is spicy, tangy, sweet and frankly, I was super thrilled and happy I found another fruit/vegetable that we can make into a fine pachhadi/thokku/chutney.

Enjoy!

If you do try, come back and let me know and we can both hold hands and jump with joy. ūüėČ

 

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thai style carrot-cucumber noodles

Carrot-Cucumber Spiralizer Noodles

Over the weekend, we returned from a week long trip to Peru, and after all that walking and hiking, and leapfrogging through hotels and towns and scavenging for food (am the lone vegetarian in the large group), we cam home wiped and sick and all everyone craved was some simple rice, rasam and the like.

This morning however, I woke up feeling guilty and the need to get back on track.

Routine's a good thing. I wanted schedule, and the regularity and I most definitely wanted to get back on track with clean eating and exercise.  So, this afternoon, I opened my refrigerator and stared. It was stock full of groceries, after this morning's trip to the store. Which posed another problem.

What do I make?

The question that haunts me when I have no groceries, and the same question that haunts when I have one too many vegetables looking at me from the bin.

I was craving something spicy, and we haven't had Asian for awhile, so I peered again with that intent, and well, of course I had carrots and the cucumbers, and decided I'd make noodles off them.

thai style carrot-cucumber noodles

thai style carrot-cucumber noodles

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Ridge Gourd Spice Powder: Beerakaya Podi 

South Indian kitchens are always stock full of various spice powders that complement certain vegetables that go with rice, the staple.
I grew up on a couple, thanks to my grandmom. Mom made a bunch and the same ones, but I somehow associate these with my grandma. She was this petite barely 5" frail lady with steel nerves and will power. She also was amazingly smart and economical about how she cooked and what she ut together to feed a large family with the barest of resources. This she learnt to adapt as she saw how the family's well to do reserves went down slowly during the independence struggle. A necessary frugal lifestyle that then became conditioned to pass through the genes to my father and well, I'd say to an extent to me too.

In any case, what was interesting was how one vegetable served a lot of purpose, and nothing went waste. Mostly.
I liked the Ridge Gourd, I liked the quick curry it makes, and the fairly bland nature it added to the daals we made. I also liked the chutney that's made of it. My more scarred memories are that tricky moment when mom or grandma would cut this open and yank one of us unsuspecting kids to their corner and hand them a piece to taste!
Gourds had the notorious habit of suddenly turning bitter while looking fresh and innocent on the outside. Many a meal had gotten spoilt when the bitter vegetable got added in without a pre-taste test! ūüėČ

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Tofu Bhurji

Tofu Bhurji

Made this for dinner last night, for me. In an effort to get some rein on the bulges that threaten to round me off (no pun intended) Ive given up on rice, which has always contributed significantly to the lethargy and the girth. A necessary lifestyle change, coz apparently we need switch gears from this to moderation every once a while.

Ok, so twitter helps in a few ways, and yesterday I posed a random question out. Bored out of my summer mind on what to feed the masses and myself and make it all palatable at once. A friend said she made Tofu Bhurji and flashbacks went off in my head on how much I used the very versatile tofu once and forgotten all about it. So yep, stole her idea and here is the pretty post, all dedicated to twitter and riffy ūüôā

It's really simple and quick, so read on.

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Quick Chutney for Idlis

Sometimes, I do all out and do the nine yards when I make idlis or dosa. Yeah, I do the potato curry and sambar and chutney or the peanut/molagha podi etc. Some days, I duck out and do this.
It's called the Bombay chutney in my house. Am sure it's called something else in your place or your neighbors' and am sure as hell they aren't calling it that in Bombay! ūüėČ

I learnt this from my aunt in Hyderabad.
I vaguely remember my grandma and mom do it too, but I wasn't paying attention most likely. Also, mom preferred the quick magayi perugu pachadi (telugu). I'll make that one day and post.

So, what is this you ask?
Well, it's besan or senegapindi, or gram flour.

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Chole

Slow Cooked Chole (Channa masala)

I love chole (Channa masala) and it;s a favorite at home. This with puri, and some days I get lazy and make rotis. Not a particular cook,but I tweak things here and there and occasionally surprise myself with what I manage to put on the table.

That said, I had pulled out the slow cooker from the top shelf in the pantry (where its been sitting for a few years now) to make some winter soups and I remembered how we simmer and slow cook many gravy dishes just so the flavor soaks in and it's rich with the spices and bursts on your tongue with the bite. On a hunch, I went ahead and made channa masala yesterday via this method. Here is what I did.

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quinoa dish 5: poha

Lost track of cataloging all what worked for me with respect to quinoa, so here I am back to writing them again. This is the search for the category: quinoa

So once I made this poha style. A good friend mentioned she does it this way, so I figured why not.

Recipe:

  • Cook quinoa, with just the right amount of water and let it fluff. Separately, on the stove.
  • In a pan, add oil, mustard seeds, green chillies, ginger and fry some onions.
  • Add chopped boiled potatoes, or some sliced carrots to up the vegetable ante.
  • After some softening, add the quinoa, salt and mix well.
  • Roast some peanuts and chop them up in the blender or otherwise, just don't make it too thin a powder. You must still see them as nuts and broken.
  • Add peanut powder to quinoa and mix well.
  • Have coriander leaves and lemon, squeeze a dash and it's a heck of a healthy and tasty option.

Tastes pretty awesome. Green chillies gives the heat, so add according to taste.

Tada! ūüôā

 

 

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desi noodles

Okay, recipe post! I'd posted a pic on Instagram¬†¬†and considering how much we all are slaves of food porn, folks salivated appropriately on there and on twitter. Just in case you wondering I always repay such favors too ūüėČ

So am not this perfect cook. I am your idea imperfect whining cook. Much to my chagrin, I occasionally hit pay dirt and the stuff that comes out of my kitchen appeal to many. With all honesty I can assure you that I do not try hard to get there. It's accidental karma.

These days Asian inspired recipes are becoming mainstream and now I have to go post this recipe coz of the below mentioned reasons:

1. I need a post today and am running in circles finding one. My son turned 17, and I wanted to record his birth story, but the mood isn't there. It's a journey into time and I need to be in a place to do that. I guess I will post it one of these days, coz its on my list to do.

2. Food appeals to all. A good picture of any food is a no-brainer for folks. They follow the sights, smells and taste of food.

3. Folks actually wanted a recipe, so here goes.

Noodles

I used Hakka noodles, 1 pack. The vegetable kind.

On a large pan and on high, I used a mix of sesame oil and olive oil and sauté on high heat the vegetables in this order

Carrots, Thin Japanese eggplant, Broccoli, Peppers, Mushrooms, snow peas. Once they look nice and shiny and sautéed well, I added in soya sauce. The rule of thumb and I have no measurements is that you take that bottle and go around the pan. Happily. Let the vegetables coat, not soak. Add 1/2 tsp of sugar.

You boil the noodles in the meanwhile on the other stove. Keep an eye and do not let it go more than 8-10 minutes. You don't want them mushy. Remove, drain, wash in cold water.

Drain well, add to the vegetable pan, and mix it all up, still o high heat.

Once all mixed in, add the chili sauce. 3 hefty teaspoons and you get to see the chili flakes and it's good to go.

I also occasionally scramble an egg or two and throw it in at the end.  If you have mung/ soya sprouts, add them in now.

Mix it all in.

Tada! Want fried rice, just sub rice instead of noodles. Done.

Like? Make and tell me in the comments, I'll come and drool appropriately? ūüėČ

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quinoa dish 4 (payasam)

Quinoa payasam:

That probably sounds ironical and counter-productive to what am trying to achieve, but hey, we own a tongue and that tongue needs to be tended to. So in any case, school came to a rushed crazy end and I figured we could celebrate the husband's homecoming and father's day and the end of an intense school year with some dessert. Okay, we did have cake with munchkin's birthday party with her friends, but it isn't like I could eat those delish cupcakes or the cuter bundt right?

So for lunch, decided I'd make some light payasam. The kids like it too, but since am now obsessed with adding in a handful of  "healthy" , this is what I did.

Pan roasted on medium, 2 tablespoons of quinoa with 1 tablespoon of broken wheat (ravva or sooji)

Once it started cracking (in 4-5 minutes) , I added in 1.5 cups of milk (1%is what we use)

Let it boil a bit, maybe about 10-15 minutes.

Added 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of powdered almonds mixed with some cardomom/ elaichi. You can also use MTR's Badam Kheer mix instead. Has essentially the same stuff just packaged neater.

Boiled it for just a bit more and let it cool.

I like to keep it liquid, so, one could just gulp it down quickly, if you'd like it thicker, equal the quantity of ravva (broken wheat/sooji) with quinoa.

It isn't much, and absolutely crazy healthy with the sugar, but it is what it is. An added way of getting some quinoa inside me. The quantity was perfect, we each got a small cup/bowl to gulp down and it did hit the spot. Plus, picky people aka daughter and son despite shrinking away from me couldn't spot the quinoa grains while drinking it, so neat huh?

No pictures sorry, but hey, here's Spongebob! Love the guy, so silly and so entertaining!

bundt cake

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quinoa dish 3 (sundal)

I soaked quinoa sometime this afternoon. I had already some soaked kaala channa from yesterday.

Cooked them separately, as I didnt want the kala channa to get mushy. Cooked the quinoa on the stovetop, as I wanted to keep the grain separate. The simplest way to do this is to reduce the water. So for 1 cup of quinoa, I used just 1.5 cups of water.On high till a rolling boil happens, then I shut it tight and turn the knob to the lowest setting, turn the timer on for 14 minutes and walk away. Timer goes off, stove gets turned off and I dont open till after a few minutes.

Quinoa is fluffy, separate and done.

In the meanwhile, added 1 tsp oil in a pan, added slit green chillies, lots of coriander and then the cooked kala channa. Then mixed in the quinoa with it and added some salt and some lime juice on top.

Time to prep: If soaking, just 30 minutes is good.

Cooking time: 20 minutes. (15 to cook and then a few to add it all in and stor)

It filled great and was a modified version of the sundal, without the coconut.Makes a good snack for betwene meals if you so choose. Protein content goes up a notch if you let the lentils(channa) sprout as well.

quinoa 3

So there u go.

Here's something I learned the hard way. Quinoa spoils if left outside after being cooked. Overnight. I had to throw a whole cup out, and it broke my heart. I hate wasting food and I didnt realize it was left outside till next day. So be careful.

Enjoy!

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quinoa: dish 2

Since I had just an hour to *think* of dinner between shuttle service began, I grabbed the first container in the pantry next to the quinoa and it was Toor Daal (kandipappu -Telugu)

  • Soaked 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1/2 cup of toor daal for 10 minutes or so.
  • A handful of boiled soya beans (picked up a box in Whole foods, so was conveniently handy) got added in.
  • 2 handfuls of spinach/kale/chard mix went in.
  • Cooked all together in pressure cooker.
  • Took some oil in a pan, added chopped onions, jeera and then some tamarind juice and let it boil. Added sambar powder, (some chilli powder as I like my food slightly on the spicy side), salt, some sugar and then added this cooked mix of daal and quinoa.
  • Cooked a few minutes till it mixed well.

Tasted great. Munchkin ate a smallbowl when I called it the stew. Daughter refused it coz she is smart. Son is not that perceptive,so he ate it when I added a dollop of yogurt on it. Husband claimed it was spicy (which it was, as I added a tsp of chilli powder too, to up the heat) but ate it anyway!

Here is how it looked:

Have just a bowl leftover for lunch tomorrow. Good stuff indeed!

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quinoa recipe 1

Going to do a quick cataloging of the quinoa recipes that am making. Decided on a whim (is there any other way I decide you may ask, and you will be justified) that I'll love quinoa and make an effort in my diet along with the workout that am slowly killing myself under.

You know that thing they say about metabolism slowing down once you hit a certain age, well, in my case it's come to a grinding sloppy stubborn halt. Yeah, all those experts sure know what they are talking about, so if you are under that brilliant umbrella of 30-40 and are smirking, o you are not gonna smirk long and I can bet my sweet extra pounds on it. So there!

Last night - June 6th - I started this quinoa regime and today I bugged a few folks on twitter and now I probably have recipes to last me through a week. So here's last night. No pic, so imagine away.

  • Soaked quinoa for about 15 minutes and then cooked it. One is to two water ratio.
  • In 1 tsp oil, fry jeera, slit green chilli, ginger and garlic.
  • Add a little onion, carrot, cherry tomato, and 2 handfuls of greens. (I had a bag of power greens - a mix of baby spinach, kale and chard)
  • Saute, add some salt and cover and cook till done.
  • Mix the cooked quinoa and vegetable mix.
  • Tasted just fine.Had a cup plain and then added in some yogurt at the end.
  • Had some leftover and I ate it with some rasam. Pretty yum if I say so myself!
That's South-Indian style (number1) for you. I guess I got my fix of carbs, protein, and some satiety and I was feeling quite full.

Pinterest, Food blog search and Twitter junta are quite resourceful, so if you are looking, ask and then tweak away.

Tonight, am cooking it in another South-Indian style. Will post later in the evening.

 

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avocado-cilantro rice

The name sounds slightly awkward. The way the two main ingredients rhyme together, but there is nothing awkward about the dish at all!

So there is this nice young girl I once knew a couple of years ago. All cute and fashionable and living the Indian graduate-student life near my place. Then one day she decided to get married. Then the switch turns on like it turns on in all newly-weds and she decided that she would conquer the kitchen and the man's heart. Not that the man needed any conquering, but this is making for a very nice story, so let's stick to the flow. (You do realize this is part-fiction in the way I write this don't you? You do?Good! Keep reading!)

So now, here she was cutting, chopping and cooking away all known vegetables to mankind and then some more. This is obviously hearsay coz she lives across the country now, and I can only conjecture all this from what facebook allows me. So I smiled and did a flashback on my own kitchen adventures a few (decades) ago. Then one day she decided to show off. Like any self-respecting child on technology and social media, she unleashes upon one too many unsuspecting friends a URL that would be the ultimate word if Scrabble allowed it. And then she started taking all these gorgeous pictures of all the gorgeous foods she was dishing out.

Suddenly, we are all awakened to the hidden talent she housed dormant (to the world) so long.

So here we are. Like my story? Good. I enjoyed scribbling it too. Just come to my rescue as gleefully when she decides to murder me and stash me away thus showcasing her other talent. Okay, I'll stop. The poor thing.

She apparently made this rice a full year ago. I have no idea why Facebook does what it does and pulls up skeletons from our very crowded online closets and displays it for all to see. I mean, If I created something wild and crazy and was proud, that's another matter, which it was in her case.

I read it - Avocado Rice -  and went, well, this is mighty easy. Let's do it.

In my defense, this kind of a reaction is rare. I am a strong example of Newtons law. A body in rest will continue to be at rest etc.. law.

So I got up and got these three together.

I blended the 3 green chillies and handful of fresh Cilantro well. Then added in the Avocado and gave it a spin. It was still chunky.

Then I added it to 1 cup of Basmati rice. Added in 1 cup of water and the green paste.

In a pan, I added some olive oil, half an (red) onion and jeera. I did not have tomatoes, so I skipped that and instead added a chopped carrot. Cooked it a few minutes, added the cooked rice, salted it and then squeezed half a lemon.

Since I did want it to be tangy and spicy, it was perfect and I had this plate with some some curds. Raita could be made, but I didn't have the patience.

Avocado is good for you. I totally loved the mild taste and the spices all came together well!

Little tweaks and likes:

  1. Substitute brown rice instead of white
  2. Add not more than 2 vegetables. You still want to taste the avocado. Carrots and peas re always fun.
  3. You could add nuts to boost in some protein value. Though just almonds could work well, peanuts may not, but try!
  4. Have it with raita - that's a true-blooded desi recipe for you!
  5. Or use a beans salad or some salsa for keeping it Mexican.
  6. Your choice, am out of ideas.

This blog is slowly becoming a cooking/recipe blog. This is truly shocking of me and what I have become. Blame Pinterest and my own obsession with health and fitness, which by the way is going on just fine. Will update soon.

If you aren't on Pinterest, this is where I am, and you must get on too. It's a great site and hardly social in the chatty way, which is why I love it!

Happy eating! Thanks Ne. ūüôā

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posh mushroom-lentil curry

Am on a roll these days after getting a posh fancy Blendtec for a whopping $400, and since am worried I'd quickly lose interest in this fantabulous machine that apparently everyone in the world owned (and didnt breathe a word about it!) I use it on a daily.

That combined with this renewed interest infeeding the kids healthy and keeping up with the demands that their body needs, am really working those brain cells to come up with slightly new variations to standard foods.

Today I made Methi (fresh) rotis, Mushroom-lentil curry and added a side of carrots (pickled in lime juice, salt and pepper)

Yesterday I added a tablespoon of ragi flour for every cup of wheat flour.

The day before I crushed zuchhini into pulp and made rotis with that.

Did I say I was on a roll? Yeah that.

So just to show off,I twitpic'd my dinner plate and tweeted it. 

So the details:

Rotis:

Loaded half a bunch of washed methi leaves into the blender. Pulsed it thrice. Pulp happened. I added 3 cupsof flour to it along with some salt. Pulsed it a bit, added some water, pulsed more and it became one big blob. Removed it, kneaded it like I was really pissed off with the UPS delivery guy (or you could imagine your spouse, works wonderfully too!), rolled them out and that was that.

Curry:

I soaked the lentils in teh afternoon. They are brown lentils. Called by that very same name at the grocers. They look like this:

Cute? I think so at least. They the brown masoor variety. They cook easy and don't need too long a soak. I was making a large batch and I wanted to feel useful at 3 pm, so I soaked them.

At 6 pm, I pressure cooked them for about 4-5 whistles.

In the pan, I added jeera and saunf to the oil, and then fried onion, garlic and green chillies (no ginger). Then I looked around the refrig, and instead of potato, I decided I'd use button mushrooms. So removed stalks, wiped them down, cut into quarters, and threw them into the pan. Roasted them all together. Then added tomatoes (i used 1/4 can of crushed tomatoes) and let it cook for a good ten minutes covered. Nice paste happens. Add your cooked lentils. Add salt. A little bit of sugar if the tomatoes are too sour, garama masala, (or use any of the bhaia-jeera powders) some chilli powder and mixed it all in. Cooked a few more minutes till it bubbled happily away. I then added a teeny bit of whipping cream. I like the flavor it's adding and also it brings the dish together so nicely. Just a teeny bit though. Any more and it messes the color and the taste up. Add coriander leaves, and bring it down.

Salad:

I like to call it pickled salad, but really they are not pickled in the true sense. I usually mix in couple of veggies, like tomato-cucumber, carrot-cucumber, tomato-onion, cucumber-onion - you get teh point. Veggies must go in. Today, I went solo. Cut them, added liberal dose of lemon juice, salt, pepper and let it sit for 20 minutes before dinner. Goes well with rotis.

That's it! Tada. No one knew there were methi leaves in the roti, and the kids liked it. That's a win in a mom's book! ūüôā

 

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stuffed eggplant (andhra style)

As a child I did not like eggplant/brinjal or vankaya. Mom used to say I was an insult to my roots. The Telugu roots. Maybe, I couldn't care. I found the cooked thing, slimy, tasteless, resembled the inside of a fish and the skin chewy. So I stubbornly refused to eat it, unless I was threatened, and then I'd scoop it out, hide whatever taste is left with some spicy dish and gulp it down. I would leave the skin out. So it would start with a juicy plump thing reduced to its skeleton. I still occasionally do that.

When you move to a country at a time when the nearest grocery store with familiar vegetables is a good 40 miles away, the adaptation part of our existence kicks in, strongly. You adapt by growing new taste buds to incorporate the new vegetables/cuisines, and then just to bring back the familiarity of home and mom's cooking, we start looking at the dishes (albeit grudgingly) that remind us of home.

Stubbornness or being picky about refusing to try narrows down our choices on our plate, and at the end of the day and how much ever we want to eat for that 6 inch tongue, the body wins the battle. Nourishment cannot be denied and our functionality is on line.

So we shut up and adapt.

I did the same, with eggplant, with cabbage, cauliflower, beans and even bittergourd. It may look like I was a picky finicky eater growing up, and you would be right. In India, one can afford to be picky with our foods. Things change when we cross oceans where the weather, environment and culture force us to rethink our choices.

Here is a recipe that I have grown to love, and I hope I lived up to my mom's expectations of a hearty Teluginti adapaduchu *meaning - a girl from the telugu household*

So, after loving it, I decided I needed to find a better, low-fat option, coz the taste depended heavily on slow roasting in some fair amount of oil. here is what I came up with and I'd say it's close to 80% as the original oily version. I can live with that.

Gutthi Vankaya:

Meaning - stuffed eggplant.

1. Choose small round/oblong eggplants. Try to keep them all similar size as they'd cook evenly. (I learnt it the hard way)

2. Wash and slit them lengthwise in a cross, like so. The stalk part should remain intact.

3. Shallow roast in 2 tsp oil and coarsely grind the stuffing *** (scroll down for a couple other kinds)

  • 4 tsp channa dal
  • 4. tsp dhania (coriander seeds)
  • 1 dried red chilli for each eggplant - may seem like a lot, but you'll need it.
  • 1/2 tsp jeera
  • Salt

4. Add the stuffing into cut pieces

 

5. Here is the fun part!

Layer the eggplants in a glass or plastic dish, drizzle 2 tsp of oil over the eggplants MICROWAVE the entire batch. Cover with saline wrap so they get cooked. Leaving them open will dry them up completely. So if you had say 6 eggplants, I'd nuke them for 6 minutes, stick a fork and test. They should be al dente. Firm on the outside and not shriveled, and soft on the inside. I usually add in another 2 minutes to make sure they cooked through.

Beats the time taken to prep this dish too!

6. When cooled, scoop the insides out and mix with hot rice and eat. If the eggplants are tender, the skin would be good too, as they are meant to be eaten, but I have my reservations, so do what makes you happy. The insides is where the juice is.

 

***

Stuffing 1 - original Channa Dal version

Stuffing 2 - Add garlic to the above mix

Stuffing 3 - Make a paste of green chilli and coriander leaves (not cooked)

Stuffing 4 - Add a few leaves of mint to the above stuffing 3

Enjoy!

 

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round, brown and crunchy vadas

As a teenager, I was cursed mildly with acne. Not something that overwhelmed my tanned hardly there cheeks, but enough to cause misery. So, as was expected, I was given tons of advice on getting rid of them and preventing them. Right there on top of the very long list was "do not eat oily foods"

Diligently I stayed away from all things submerged in oil. Not sure if it helped in any way with the acne issue, but it sure scarred me from eating or enjoying a hearty piece of a deep fried whatever, without waking up in the middle of the night and half seeing a very red angry eruption right on my bulbous nose. The irony was that I was not one of those beauty-conscious, pretty things as a teenager!

So for the longest of time, I don't recollect eating or even wanting to learn how to make any of those fried dumplings of various kinds, and the only person who sulked was the husband. Coz in the new kitchen I established, I was not making anything that I did not eat. Top 3, include Upma, tamarind Rice and then Vadas.

These days I cook them all, and have begun to enjoy them too. Life I tell you.

The story of Vadas or as my grandma would call Garelu. 

In our family, we just do the flat kinds. No hole in the middle. The hole was added on for just one occasion. The day when we thought of our forefathers and did the Shradh. So, it wasn't such a bad deal when I started attempting it when I started feeling guilty about denying the husband his food. The very first time I made them, he munched and nodded and then asked, why there wasn't a hole in there? Apparently, that's how a vada is done. So I tried. They looked like something you would find while scavenging Moon or Mars. I gave up after I wasted enough Urad dal.

The shapeless blobs of vada-like deep fried richness haunted me awhile. I did try, many times. I even bought that vada maker from Saravana Stores. It was blobby, and I hated standing there with the hot oil heating me up. Ichanged recipe, grinder, mixer, texture, I observed, like a hawk but it eluded me like crazy.

How does one manage the perfect round shapes, evenly browned, with the exact same diameter and with the width of the hole to fit your little pinkie exactly, so when you did, you looked like a triumphant, very sublime Maha Vishnu, who just conquered a demon? 

I made these last week. Delish? How?

Like so:

A quick run to pick up some school essentials, I walked  past the kitchen section, and usually I don't look much, but this really cute bright yellow wafflemaker sorts got my attention! So I stopped andlooked again, and this is what I saw.

With my daughter's obsession for donuts reaching new heights, a sudden overambitious spark ignited and I peeked in

ooo, how cute I thought. Then my head started spinning stranger ideas. Since when did I listen to rules and use a product just for what it was adevertised and meant for? There is a standing joke in our families on how when we did make that trip (ages ago)  home with toddlers in tow, who could eat their vacation on a diet of donuts, and how we'd get some vadas,  dunk it in sugar syrup and give them on a plate. No, we didnt try, but there was a thought.

The reverse worked its way in quickly.

I looked at the price $20. So if I use this machine at least for 10 times, I got my $ worth? I walked out with it.

This is what I tried, since am on a healthy streak:

  • 1 cup channa dal
  • 1 cup urad dal
  • 1/2 cup black eyed peas
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
Soaked overnight. Ground with 3 red chillies and 1 tsp jeera
Add in 1/2 cup of finely chopped onions, some coriander leaves, chopped, 2 tsps of self-rising flour to bind and salt.
Am sneaky these days, and tending to grate in carrots or beets into anything that cane be grated into, so add away if you like.
I turned on the machine, and since it was non-stick anyway, added in the ground paste, like so.
Now, this isn't donut, and not self-rising flour, that paste is not going to bake itself and turn out scrumptious vadas. So I got some oil heating up on the stove. I closed the lid, and as per instructions, let it sit for 3minutes. When I opened, the paste was now congealed (if I can call it that?) and I could pick each up by a fork or a pitchfork sorts that comes with it. I gently dropped it into the oil and within 2 minutes, they'd turned nice and brown and cooked.
It may look like an extra long process, and it could be, but I like it for the reasons below:
1. Any food has two aspects of it. It should taste good, and look good enough for us to want to taste it. The look good factor was addressed. I would never on God's green earth ever be able to get such assembly line production of cloning a vada to its perfection. So bingo.
2. I honestly and truly believe that the vada spends little time fried. I am no nutritionist, but after getting baked for 2 minutes, the vada is already 80% there, and deep frying for a real short time of another 1.5 minutes, than the usual 3-4 or more depending on how thick you got them going, was giving me awesome results.
Husband was super impressed. That's one off the checklist, woe is ours when we continue to look for acceptance and approval from near and dear! Kids loved it, especially munchkin who added in a  dollop of ketchup and seated herself with 6 of them and demanded more.
I bragged by loading it on facebook and got enough and plenty folks to drool over it.
I'd say that $20 is one wise investment in the times we live in for some difficult to get comfort food.
ps: all you established cooks can stop laughing now. ūüôā
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complementary

A few years ago I was reading a very forgettable magazine that one comes across while waiting endlessly at the dentists' office, and there was this one line that stuck and held its ground. The author and I paraphrase, was talking on dressing and color styles for that season and spoke about different ways to check to see if two colors would clash or gel when you lay them on your body, before you subject the world to fashion faux pas'. It was so simple and downright elementary, that if one would spend on the thought even for as long as a whole 60 seconds, they'd see how blind most of us have been all along.

When in doubt, turn to nature.
If the colors co-existed, it's a good to go. Think about it. Blue sky and green grass. The black seeded center on a sunflower. The orange, brown and green fall colors and so on..

Who knew Mother Nature would make a no-fuss fashion designer?

This assortment of fruits at a recent event I was at, reminded me of my wedding sari. A bright mango yellow with bright red silk border. Striking and complementary.

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bhel puri

Bhel puri's sweet and spicy taste always hit the spot for her. No matter the day's stresses, no matter what lay ahead after the long days. None of life's stresses and tensions could dampen the euphoria that accompanied every spoonful. There was a spring in her voice suggesting a relaxed, happy state of mind.

Even he noticed it from a thousand miles away.

"Please can you have bhel puri every time we talk?"
She grinned "But why? You like bhel puri too?"
He teased "No, I like you on Bhel."


*** Disclaimer - All pictures on this blog are copyrighted. Please do not "borrow" without checking with me. Ask and ye shall receive.***

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wish

‚ÄúPeople will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.‚ÄĚ- Maya Angelou


*** Disclaimer - All pictures on this blog are copyrighted. Please do not "borrow" without checking with me. Ask and ye shall receive.***

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phoolproof curry

We were at a picnic recently. Lovely place, lovely set of folks, lovely waters and well, great food and lots of it. Keeping with the tradition of all desi picnics, there were more gravy dishes than the dry kind. The kind that the rest of the world takes to picnics so that the maintenance is a no-brainer. We desis are the exceptions to all such rules. Rule-flounters and rebels no less. The size, folks, demographic can take long hikes, but there will be always be the dripping sloppy sambar, a few masala-drenched gravy-dishes, spicy red hot pickles and then the rest.

This time I was glad we stuck to tradition. I discovered this awesome tasting dish called Phool Makhani.

I placed a teeny bit on my plate and licked at it, and boy, the cells woke up and danced like they were unsupervised teens on soda. I hunted the cook down and without bothering to introduce myself asked her for the recipe and heaped praise on the dish she crafted. Very out of character for me I might add. As she giggled and blushed appropriately, I asked her what those soft round things soaked in all the goodness was. "Lotus seeds. Puffed lotus seeds." She explained with a tone seeped in a concoction of surprise and patience. Really, could there really be a full grown Telugu woman not knowing what a Hyderabadi famous lotus seed was? Then again, am not from Hyderabad, never mind the full-grown bit.

..and so I discovered that the pure white, light as a feather round things sold in packages in the desi store were lotus seeds (phool makhani) and not a desi version of fluffed popcorn on growth hormone. I come home satiated and with a determination to google this thing out and make it myself. No, not just for its taste, which I was sure I wouldn't be able to replicate (these were hardcore Hyderabadi top level chefs we talking about) but more excited that there was one other raw food item that I could incorporate into my cooking and thus saving me from death by boredom in the kitchen.

RawPhool

The package was duly purchased. One such package would last you through the great depression. A handful stretches a lot.

The menu: I searched and all I could find was the diligent kurma-based gravy that would eventually house these white round things. All with the coconut-poppy seed combination, which does taste heavenly as I know, but something that I was in no mood to grind up. Moreover, we aren't a huge fan of the ground masalas. Way too strong to make it frequently and also I avoid grinding stuff if I can.

Instead this is what I did. Considering that the lotus seed did not have a taste of its own much like tofu, soya curd; I figured the masala makes or breaks this dish, and thus there is so much room for growth. Make it your own, as they say! With this enlightened thought in my head, I went ahead and created thus:

  • Chop red onions (always red, they taste close to home), fry.
  • Add in jeera, bay leaves, green chillies (I used jalapeno) and then the secret ingredient - saunf.
  • Fry all together a bit, add chopped tomatoes and some amchur and let it all simmer and become a fine mush. Okay, it won't get fine, but more like an amalgamated harmony. It will be fine if you decide to grind onion and tomatoes. I didn't, but you could and it would most definitely increase visual appeal.
  • Dry roast (standard recipes asked to deep fry the white thingies, I didn't) those puffed thingies, and add it to the now mushed gravy.
  • Add salt, more of whatever you'd like (garam masala, red chilli powder or sugar)
  • Simmer for 10 minutes and serve with rotis or pulav.

PhoolCurry

Mine had a slight crunch to it after letting it soak for under 15 minutes. Strange considering everyone said it soaks fast, maybe mine were dry or perhaps they do soak quicker with deep-frying? However, we liked it that way, and the original picnic dish was mushy and slipped right into the gullet.

So go ahead, make your own gravy, add these up and you have a new dish! If you'd rather prefer the kurma based recipe, head over to Sia, or just foodblog-google for phool makhani.

crossposted at DC
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mint pulao

I post this ONLY for the prime purpose of checking out this "Rating" setting I noticed just this morning in the dashboard. I have been oblivious to it all along and true to my nature, once I see something new, I have this intense desire to try it out. Can't rest or sleep unless I do.

So after bugging Max boy on chat and giving him a gist of the mantra of my life namely: "if theres' sthing new, i gotta try it out i mean.. what a shame otherwise no?" I did. It didn't work. Puzzled and upset on not seeing my enabling not being enabled, I thought perhaps it's one of those mumbo-jumbo technical disadvantages that the feature is 'enabled' only henceforth and cannot go back into the past and enable itself.

No surprise since real world and life is such..and man is after all a lesser God or so I shall continue to believe unless some techy dude's gonna come up with something in the comments.

So anyways, here's a post that I came up with on a jiffy. I was cooking lunch then and instead of just doing  rant post and cribbing as to why the stars weren't showing up, I figured I'd do a recipe post. Befriend-ing foodie bloggers has that kinda effect and now that I've become the martyr and tested it out for you, you know whom to avoid. It's all a big trap. One minute you're drooling at the pictures and second there you are pursing your lips and clicking pictures between stirring chole on one and frying oily puris on the other!

Example in case follows.

Subject: Mint Pulao

Origin: Somewhere in Women's Era or maybe it was Tarla Dalal cookbook, I forget, but now healthily adapted by a good dose of my own imagination.

Cuisine: India. Or mine. Which isn't purely Indian, but who cares.

Ingredients: Loads of carbs. What? Oh okay, I'll give you the list. Basmati Rice, Bunch of mint leaves, Coriander leaves Onions, Tomatoes, Peas, Cardamoms, Bay Leaf, Cloves, Garlic, Cumin Seeds, Cashews, Raisins and Butter (or not) depending on how your last blood work came out.

Anecdote: There's always a story. No recipe is complete without a tale, and I am no less. I have a story.

As a young girl struggling between half-baked dreams of making it to the US and studying and peering into people's eyes, I also occasionally ventured cautiously into the kitchen. Much to my mother's chagrin, I scoffed at the daily rasam, sambar, daals, rice and potato fry. That doesn't mean she let me go and I had to learn them, but more like how one would learn multiplication tables. Early in the morning, and much against our brain's will. Then there's always the Mills and Boons' paperbacks. The mild version graduating to the then hotter Silhouette series. Where the TDH guy went beyond the kiss and you know things went south etc.. but I digress. So no one wants you to raed them. You want to read them. The exotic and forbidden. That's how I learnt Mint Pulav, Matar panneer, Parathas, Banana Bread and Pineapple upside down cake. Yes. These were the ones I was mighty proud about and swore when the day came I shall serve the husband delicious dishes with a flourish and some more.

When the day finally dawned I was left alone in a flathotel in the middle of busy Brussels while the man left me to fend with a coiled electric stove and paltry provisions and some veggies from the Sunday Turkish Market near Gare du Midi which is a DELIGHT; to shop, to gape, to eat, to take pictures and occasionally get looted to from what I hear. (O. M.Y G.O.O.D. L.O.R.D, I actually found the very same place we lived back in 1993! This is too exciting and am gonna take a few moments and then continue! Phew!!)

Over time, we figured if we went there by at noon, there would be parking available as well and also the farmers just give away tender sweet clementines, small firm red apples, juicy cherries and luscious tomatoes and such by the basket for a mere 100 BEF. Those days, that translated to 3 USD.

Picture 14So yes, bunches of coriander and mint leaves were aplenty. The rich beautiful greens were sold for an atrociously small monies, and that's where I developed a taste for the strong flavors. Coriander and mint chutneys became a standard at home eventually, and I realized with glee that mint could be put to use such apart from the only way I knew. Mashing it into a pulav.

The making of the pulao: This is how I make any pulao or biriyani. I cook rice separately and in a large pot, not rice cooker. So I add 1 cup of water less than twice the cups of rice, add some cloves and some turmeric, and a bit of salt and bring it to a boil. Once you see bubbles, I shut it with a good lid, lower it completely, and start the time for 15 minutes (if 3 cups of rice or less) and 20 minutes if more. While that's cooking, I take an onion, a bunch of mint leaves, coriander leaves, garlic, green chillies, cardamom, a pinch of cinnamon and make it into a fine paste.  In a pan, add butter/oil, fry another onion, add roughly diced tomatoes (optional) and let it cook a bit. Add this paste and roast around till the raw taste wears out. Once the timer goes off, shut everything off and go make some raita if you'd like.

After a few minutes of cooling, mix it all together. Garnish away and there's your mint pulao. I add corn, so the colors complement each other, but you could add peas, or vegetables, or potatoes alone.

I like the flavor of mint that comes through when less vegetables are added, so it gets to take center stage.

Ta Da! Add Chole and Puri with it and it was a good Sunday lunch. At least the usually quiet husband grunted a nod at it! So all's well in flavorland I suppose.

Mint Pulav

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gongura gola

Remember me pining for gongura in this post and my intense craving for the pachadi.

Sushma so sweetly offered me some to. I hope she did when she said, "my home" - coz that's how I understood ūüėČ

Went to Patels that weekend and saw some really sad frail dried up sorry pieces of gongura stalks that tasted worse than grass. No, don't even think of asking how I know grass tasted.!

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falafel

I absolutely love Falafels.

My very first experience of having one was in the true touristy style at one of those little, mediterranean cafes lining the narrow cobblestoned paths around Grand Place. A little history on Grand Place. It's a courtyard boxed in by the huge majestic Town Hall that provides the backdrop for showcasing the Sonne et Lumiere show every summer evening. Brussels is the city.

http://www.vesalius.edu/resource_files/files/grand_place_building.jpg

Spectacular? ..and that's just a regular evening with a lit up Broodhuis. Beer and wine flow in copius quantities and the mood is always cheery. Off these buildings, adjacent little spiked narrow paths lead away, not unlike he rays of the sun. One leads to the famous Manneken Pis Boy. I know, I didn't have to say it, but really, how could anyone talk about Brussels and not mention the pis boy!

So in any case, what's interesting is that Brussels is truly at the heart of Europe, not just geographically located [and being the capital of EU and all that] but more so of the liberal, relaxed [next to Swiss] and accommodative culture and lifestyle they allow. Each Rue (street) fanning out was filled, literally filled with teeny cafes, red geraniums from rectangular flower beds, and little chairs and tables on which sat the average built diner. Concept of space is a non-issue. It's only in the US do I find this whole 3 feet of personal space that we strictly adhere to, no matter where we are. So yes, these little cafes were so close and patrons sat almost on each other's laps, inhaling secondary smoke, and if necessary reaching out and grabbing a piece of bread from the next table with just a slight stretching of the elbow. Not that they do it, but the temptation is irresistable.

Each road served a cuisine. Mediterranean, French, Italian, Belgian, and so on.

That is where I partook of the only veggie option that the expressive little man offered me. He clucked his tongue, and wrinkled his nose, lifted his eyes onto the dark ceiling and with a waving of his hand, swished a picture of the flat round patties at me from the very soiled dog-eared menu card. I used my French on him and said "Merci monsieur, c'est perfect! Il n'y a pas de viande ou le poulet ou aucune animaux dans cette petite balle no?" To which he smiled indulgently at this complete goof ball chopping his language into fine bits that even his butcher couldn't make of his red meat, while I thought in my head, o why doesn't he have an egg shaped bald head, he'd have been my hero, Poirot!

..and that was almost my favorite thing to eat every alternate weekend, and decided next to the Gaufres, and the Haagen Daazs ice cream parlor on Avenue Louise, falafels were indeed God's blessing to my parched tongue! Impressionable 21 year olds and their carbon-laced cooking I tell ya!

..and then I moved.

..and then 14 years later, I discovered these at Costco's freezer.

...and then, I celebrate.

A primer for taste buds: Pick one and Enjoy!

  1. Eat plain with Hot-Sweet maggie ketchup.
  2. Pretend they are veggie cutlet, and continue on.
  3. Roll inside of tortilla, pita, roti, find some veggies lying around your refrigerator waiting to be rescued, dice, add and munch.
  4. Chop into tiny bits and add to any dry curry.
  5. Add to majjiga pulusu, mor kozhambu, or kadi, instead of pakoras.
  6. Stuff kids mouths. Not spicy, and they get some protein to boot.
  7. Perfect appetizer, serve with spicy tom chutney, coriander chutney, or plain ketchup. Added benefit, chickpeas fills folks up.
  8. Use instead of ragda patties.
  9. Perfect between buns as a sandwich to place in lunch boxes.
  10. ..and the most perfect one of all - use as koftas. I like the kofta idea and curries, but making a kofta and then the gravy just seemed a lot of work, which means that the frequency of preparation declines at a rapid rate. This way, all you have to do is make your gravy, while they roast in the toaster oven, and voila, kofta curry, and no one needs to know that they are healthy for you!

Nice huh?

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asparagus desi'd

It has been on my mind awhile to start recording the occasional surprisingly fine enough treats I manage to cook up. True indeed it is a surprise, as there have been more occasions Ive served carbon, and then hastily cooked more to cover the whiff in the air. Since most of my cooking is on the run and I am almost always altering recipes, there is obviously no standardization and no methodology involved, for replication. Of course as with any particular skill, work, or act, the more you do it, the more you pick up nuances and ways of doing it. Hence, I may not be perfect in giving the exact quantities down to the tsp. Also, this will no way hold a teeny little lamp to the gazillions of fine recipe blogs out there. This is just fun, so if you are a new inexperienced cook, you may want to check other places.

Asparagus was always like the haughty little snob I'd see at the grocers. Since we desis are famous for indianizing almost everything down to our palate, [the height was when my dad neatly applied gongura pachadi on a veggie pizza and next time drizzled avakaya oil on it yet again, coz apparently, it didnt have the zing!] I have tried to work with what was available, especially since we came into the country at a time when the nearest desi store was an hour's drive away. True to being his daughter, I have managed to cook almost all veggies you see in the regular grocers out here in the US, in a style that would go with rice and rotis. Except for Brussels sprouts. Oh that was a disaster. Probably the only "brussels" related thing I remotely can't stand.

So, in any case, here's what I did with the 3 lb asparagus bag I picked up at Costco. Sushma wanted the recipe for the chutney and thought I'd just record the curry one as well.

Prep:
Wash.
I found out that holding the thick end of the aspy and snapping it just a bit naturally cuts off at the thick and tender portions. So off I snapped. Then I pretended they were beans and I chopped them into neat litle circles. Frankly, seeing them you'd imagine you'd be making a large quantity, but it cooks small, so keep that in mind depending on how large a crowd you are feeding.

Curry 1: Oil in pan. Add urad dal, mustard seeds and sliced garlic. Roast a bit, add aspy pieces. Slit green chillies. Cover. You are done in 10 minutes.

Curry 2: Oil in pan. Add urad dal, mustard seeds, aspy pieces, salt and cover. Dry grind Jeera /cumin seeds, green chillies and coriander leaves. Add in the last few minutes. [Tried it just now, green chillies and coriander gives it a nice zing]

Chutney: Oil in pan. Add urad dal, mustard seeds, red chillies and sliced garlic [optional, I am not big on garlic, but I believe it goes well with aspy's taste.] Add aspy pieces and roast for a few minutes. Take it off stove and cool. Grind this mixture with a small soft ball of tamarind, a little bit of sugar and a bit of water. Mash it away to a pulp. Add salt, at the end.

Eat with rice and some ghee. Yum! I am quite sure it would make a great sandwich spread too.

I am projecting this would go well with spinach and daal, and even koottus [tamil style, just use instead of cabbage or zuchhini]

There, am done! Somehow this post lacks something. Yes! found it. I should end it with..

"dheyd sarey banaiye, khoob maja keejiye" Sanjeev Kapoor eshtyle!

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