Ridge Gourd with Poppy Seeds – Jhinge Posto

The ridge gourd is quite a classic featuring in the regional kitchens acrossIndia. It is used inNorth India, in light curries usually with ginger and tomato without a lot of seasoning. It tends to be a favored summer vegetable, since people feel that like the bottle gourd it has cooling properties. In south ofIndia, it is often cooked in lentils with a soupy spicy base not unlike the Sambhar, and the peel is often cooked up as a chutney or a relish. Finally, in easternIndia this is sometime cooked in a medley or with shrimp or in a nice and comforting sauce with crushed poppy seeds, that is called posto. The posto is a much loved creamy base that is full of all the goodness of seeds and offers a nutty and creamy vegan sauce.

 I often get the ridge gourd in the winter months, because that is the time of the year that we tend to start running out of the backyard supplies and I like to pick out something that we would not otherwise enjoy!. This recipe is really very simple and cooks up in about 15-20 minutes, the only planning needed here is the time needed to soak the poppy seeds, which is essential. The soaking allows the seeds to absorb the water so that they can plump up into soft creamy smoothness when blended. I usually engage in about 10 minutes of planning most evenings before I go to sleep, to do things such as soaking the lentils or soaking seeds that I need for pastes, almost along with cleaning the table. It is effortless and does not eat into meal preparation the next day. This recipe will work will with tender young zucchini to give you similar results, although a little lacking in texture since the zucchini peel is smoother than the ridge gourd.

 So, here is how you make this Bengali classic, that is comfort food in my house and when enjoyed with a serving of rice and lentils it is guaranteed to bring a smile to my husband’s face.

 

Black and Rainbow Peppercorns

  The most commonly used colors of peppercorn in my kitchen are black peppercorns. In most Indian kitchens the traditional color is the Black variety. Black Peppercorns are called Kali Mirch in Hindi and Gol Morich in Bengali.

Peppercorns are the fruit of a flowering vine in the Pipperacea family. The ripe fruit is the black variety, the unripe variety are the green peppercorns and are naturally nice and fruity and the white peppercorns are actually the black variety with the skin removed. The ground fruit is usually what we call pepper. I think that one of the most useful and practical things you can have in the kitchen is a peppermill or grinder. Of course, one can purchase a disposable variety from somewhere like Trader Joes, cheaper but not very earth friendly.

One of the reasons, I like having the peppermill around is because, we often tone down the seasoning in our foods because of the kids and the pepper add a nice touch of instant seasoning.

Some of the recipes on this blog, that features a generous amount of pepper are,

Chicken with Fenugreek, Cracked Pepper and Grape Tomatoes.

Medhu Vada

Sri Lankan Lentil Curry

Spicy Rosemary Pan Roasted Potatoes.

 

Lime and Poblano Marinated Fried Chicken Wings

Super Bowl Sunday is like a lot of other Sundays in our house, since I do not follow the game. However, I do love the idea of getting or going to someone’s how with the excuse to cook up my favorite kind of food – the savory snacking kind!

If you want to make that the fried kind, I am in heaven! Actually, in all fairness I like snacks in all shapes and flavors, the fried varieties, the grilled variety and dips and condiments. There is however an element of super bowl that somehow resonates with me, maybe it is my romanticized summation of the game, but there is always an element of the American dream associated with that young player who star shines unexpectedly or with a stroke of luck, such as Paterson’s Victor Cruz in 2012. There is an optimism that resonates and in turn stimulates several others in the town and around and the magic continues till the next year.

 This year, I am bringing some munchies over to mostly bother friends while they watch the game. Both my offerings are actually are made of chicken.

 The first is a very basic chicken tikka and the second is this fried chicken wings that I tested last week and I have to confess they were really good. The depth of flavor in this recipe comes from the marinade which has a spark of sharpness from Poblano chilies, black pepper and lots of tang from the citrus which softens the meat overnight. I toss the chicken with the marinade and juices clinging to it in a flour  dredge. The bits of chunkiness in the marinade will offer a slightly uneven coating. I wanted the coating light and so  I did not smooth it out, but if you want a neater finish, you should do that. We like the like tanginess in taste and I shall be serving this with additional lime and lemon slices.

 There will also be green bits peeking through the chicken and as I explain to my children, that is the good part of the dish.

Lime and Poblano Marinated Fried Chicken Wings

Prep Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

A tangy spicy recipe for chicken wings marinated with lime,cilantro and poblano peppers, tossed in flour and fried.

Ingredients

    For the Marinade
  • 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 Poblano pepper
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds of chicken wings
  • For the coating
  • 1 cup all purpose white flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Oil (such as canola oil for frying)
  • Paprika or a sweet chili powder such as an ancho for dusting

Instructions

  1. Cut the limes and squeeze in the juice into a blender.
  2. Add in the black peppercorns.
  3. Peel and in the ginger.
  4. Pulse the blender a few times.
  5. Coarsely chop the peppers and add in the cilantro.
  6. Add in the salt and blend the mixture into a smooth paste.
  7. Place the chicken wings in the marinade and toss to coat.
  8. Let this rest in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours.
  9. Mix the flours, coconut in a mixing bowl.
  10. Remove from the chicken from the refrigerator and shake place in the flour mixture. It is ok to have some marinade on the chicken since it gives it a deeper flavor.
  11. Coat the chicken wings evenly and shaking off the excess flour place on a plate.
  12. Place the coated wings in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.
  13. Place the oil in a wok and heat on medium heat and test with a small breadcrumb. The breadcrumb should sizzle and come to the surface as soon as it is dropped.
  14. Place the wings in a single layer on the oil 5 to 6 at a time without crowding the wok, fry on medium low heat for 7 to 8 minutes on each side. If you have a deep fryer it is extremely useful for this.
  15. Remove the wings from the oil, drain on paper towels. Dust with paprika or ancho chili powder and serve with extra lime.
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Red and Green Tilapia

 This really is an old, make that very old recipe. It is however, clearly one that I think is a keeper. I simplified it even further and re-made it today. I used our summer tomatoes for this. Actually, I do that in a lot of cooking for almost up to March.

So, the process is very simple, I chop the tomatoes and freeze them in ziplock bags, that I pull out as I need them. What you get after the bag has thawed just a little, usually about half an hour outside the freezer is something that looks like this picture of chopped icy tomatoes.

They tend to be more watery than fresh tomatoes, but work perfectly well in Indian cooking, since we tend to cook the tomato down till it is nice and saucy. I have generally learnt to adjust the liquid content in any recipe that I use that a little, but cannot be happier with having the simplicity of using garden produce a snowy January day.

Red and Green Tilapia

Prep Time: 35 minutes (mostly to marinate the fish)

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 small orange or clementine

1 large lime or lemon

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

Several Grinds of fresh black pepper

1 and 1/2 pounds of tilapia fillets

Cooking Spray

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 pods garlic

3 tomatoes, cut into a dice (I used 1 and 1/2 cup of the frozen variety)

1/3 cup white wine

1 tablespoon minced green chilies

1 tablespoon raw brown sugar

3/4 cup chopped scallions

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Method of Preparation 

1. Zest the orange and the lime.

2. Squeeze the orange and lime juice into a bowl.

3. Place the tilapia fillets and toss over the turmeric and the salt and generously grind the black pepper over the fish and let the fish marinate for 30 minutes.

4. Remove the fish and place in a single layer on a baking dish. Reserve the leftover marinade.

5. Spray with the baking spray and begin broiling on low. Turn once after about 3 to 4 minutes. Spray with the baking spray and cook for another 3 minutes, the fish should be lightly crisped at spots and be almost golden brown.

6. While the fish is broiling, place a skillet on the stovetop.

7. Heat the oil and add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic begins to turn golden.

8. Add in the tomatoes and stir lightly for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes releases its juices (note, if you are using fresh tomatoes, add in the white wine at this point of time).

9. Add in the chilies, brown sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Add in the reserved citrus marinade and the zest.

10. Add in the scallions and turn off the heat.

11. Pour this sauce over the hot fish. Let it rest for 5 minutes, the fish will absorb the moisture and the sauce will coat the fish.

12. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve.

 January is Citrus Love, month and there is a blog hop showcasing this. I am excited to send over this recipe for the blog hop.

 

 

Red and Green Tilapia
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A simple weeknight preparation of tilapia in a tomato, scallion sauce.
Ingredients
  • 1 small orange or Clementine
  • 1 large lime or lemon
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Several Grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1 and ½ pounds of tilapia fillets
  • Cooking Spray
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pods garlic, pressed
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into a dice (I used 1 and ½ cup of the frozen variety)
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon raw brown sugar
  • ¾ cup chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Zest the orange and the lime.
  2. Squeeze the orange and lime juice into a bowl.
  3. Place the tilapia fillets and toss over the turmeric and the salt and generously grind the black pepper over the fish and let the fish marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the fish and place in a single layer on a baking dish. Reserve the leftover marinade.
  5. Spray with the baking spray and begin broiling on low. Turn once after about 3 to 4 minutes. Spray with the baking spray and cook for another 3 minutes, the fish should be lightly crisped at spots and be almost golden brown.
  6. While the fish is broiling, place a skillet on the stovetop.
  7. Heat the oil and add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic begins to turn golden.
  8. Add in the tomatoes and stir lightly for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes releases its juices (note, if you are using fresh tomatoes, add in the white wine at this point of time).
  9. Add in the chilies, brown sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Add in the reserved citrus marinade and the zest.
  10. Add in the scallions and turn off the heat.
  11. Pour this sauce over the hot fish. Let it rest for 5 minutes, the fish will absorb the moisture and the sauce will coat the fish.
  12. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve.

Chicken with Fenugreek, Cracked Pepper and Grape Tomatoes

Chicken with Fenugreek and Cracked Black PepperOur neighborhood in Valhalla,NY is a quite place. Activities that are highlights of this little hamlet are the annual Christmas tree sale, the mother’s day plant sale both organized by small volunteer fire department. Spring and summer cluster around little league games, almost half the parents including myself are active in and enjoy the PTA.

It is however not the place where one would expect to find inspiration for innovative cooking, certainly not the kind featuring staples of my Indian kitchen and yet, my 30 minute Indian chicken recipe is born right here, in association with a neighbor.

Over the past five years, there has been a lot more movement into the neighborhood, even the property next to us has been sub-divided we have two new neighbors both with little children even younger than Deepta and Aadi. Like most of our other neighbors these are people we say hello to when we see them, chat with them when we are in the garden, I even included Juliana across us in my annual cookie and card list this year, but we do not actively socialize with them.

Fresh Fenugreek

This is also true for the several regulars that I encounter, when I take my evening walk. I know Dobby the dog and his owner, who combines dog walking with his evening smoking and I also know Ms. Wong, who tends carefully every evening to her well manicured flower garden. I do not see her in winter, since like our backyard there is not much action from her garden.  I usually walk later in the evening, after the kids have eaten. It is a time that is my own, outside the kitchen, away from work and outside the home. A time to think, refresh and re energize my body mind and soul. I do not carry an anything, except on occasion my camera. About a month ago, I met Mark, who also decided to make the 7 pm his walking time. It turns out, that he had heard about my cooking classes and general interest in food. I was rather intrigued, since I would not have pegged him to be the culinary sort. We met and chatted a couple of consecutive days and he asked me if I minded him occasionally tagging along with me, mostly because he wanted to talk to me about his food related questions.  I warned him about my slow pace of walking, (but was otherwise game). Mark, unlike my immediate neighbors is no stranger to this hamlet. He has lived here for over 30 years and raised his children through the village schools, even volunteered as a baseball coach in his day.

Black Pepper

I gradually learned that Mark’s wife Mary used to do all the cooking in the house and in particular, made a big effort on Sundays when the family (including their two children, who lived away from them) joined them with their spouses. Her Sunday suppers were elaborate and eclectic, when she often tried food from different parts of the world. She had died a year back.

Mark did his own cooking now, but also kept the Sunday ritual alive. It was important to him and to his children to have this sense of continuity. He also felt that it was his way of showing regard for something that was so important to his wife. In fact, his daughter had volunteered to take on this chore and continue the dinners at her house, but Mark still felt that he would like them to continue doing them in his house. It was important to continue this long standing tradition of connecting and reuniting the family in his home.

He found some of the exotic spices especially some of the Thai and Indian spices that his wife used confusing. He jokingly mentioned that he should join one of my classes. I felt that it might be more spontaneous and useful for him to spend time just watch me cook. My everyday cooking is relatively simple but still offers someone an insight to using and working with spices. Last evening, he joined us for dinner and he was pleasantly surprised by this simple recipe. He had asked me for the recipe, it was a spur of the moment creation but his request came me the incentive to write it down. This is a nice medley of greens, grape tomatoes and chicken with black pepper and ginger as seasoning. It makes a balanced one dish item, complete with protein and vegetables. Fenugreek, is a winter green that can be obtained in a ethnic grocery store this time or the year, it has a light maple flavor and mildly bitter taste. I also use arugula in this recipe, since that is easier to procure. It tastes great with toasted bread or a serving of rice.

Chicken with Fenugreek, Cracked Pepper and Grape Tomatoes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A healthy colorful and tasty chicken dish that gets done in under 30 minutes. The dish gets its flavors mostly from the addition of freshly ground black pepper.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely crushed cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 and a ½ pounds of boneless, skinless chicken cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 and ½ cups of chopped fenugreek or arugula
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about 1 minute.
  2. Add in the red onion and cook till the onion is soft and begins to turn translucent, this takes about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in the ginger paste and the garlic and sauté lightly. Add in the chicken and cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes to allow the chicken to sear and turn pale brown.
  4. Add in the salt, turmeric, black pepper and the fresh lemon juice and cover and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. Note, I use the pepper mill and keep grinding in fresh black pepper until the mixture is well coated with black dots.
  5. Add in the chopped fenugreek or the arugula and cook for 3 to 5 minutes
  6. Stir in the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes soften very slightly, stir well and serve.
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Channa Masala – Classic Indian Chickpeas

 During these winter evenings, right alongside soups and chillis, I often make a classic chickpea curry – Channa Masala. Interestingly enough, this traditional North Indian recipe, is one of the first Indian dishes that I learnt to make. My recipe has adaptations and most the addition of scallions and sumac (yes, sumac) to the recipe.

Both these variations started more out of necessity than choice. It was a multi-cultural pot luck in graduate school and I volunteered to make chickpeas. I was using canned chickpeas and figured from chatting with my mother the rest of the recipe was a cinch. This was until I realized that I did not have cilantro( two decades ago, cilantro was not such a regular in standard grocery stores and forget about getting dried crushed pommegranate seeds that added an extra layer of flavor and tang to this dish.

I remember the powdery stuff one of my persian classmate sprinkled on his food and I asked him if I could borrow some. Sumac, is not as sharp as dried pommegranate seeds, but usually sold in large quantities. It does have a tangy taste, which worked to a degree that evening and has worked ever since.

The scallions, filled in for the cilantro, not the same in taste but certainly added the green that I was used to seeing. We also add chopped onions as a garnish, so I like to use chopped green onions with the red. 

This recipe is however best made by cooking your own chickpeas, I realize that I say this so many times about chickpeas and beans, one might think that I have a partnership with the dried bean sellers. However, if you have to use the canned variety use a good organic variety and rinse the chickpeas out thoroughly.

Channa Masala – Curried Punjabi Chickpeas with an Accent

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes (does not include time for cooking the chickpeas)

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 red onion, cut into a fine dice

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

3 pods green cardamoms

1 large (about 3 inches) stick cinnamon

1-2 dried bay leaves

3 cloves

2 cups of cooked chickpeas, drained

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

3 tomatoes, finely chopped to a dice

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1 teaspoon sumac

For the finish/Garnish

½ cup chopped fresh scallions

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1 lime

Few red onion, rings (optional)

Method of Preparation

1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about 1 minute and add in the whole cumin seeds, they should begin to sizzle right away.

2. Add in the chopped onion and the ginger paste and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions soften and turn a pale toffee color.

3. Add in the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves and sauté lightly.

4. Add in the chickpeas and the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and cook for another minute, stirring well to allow the spices to coat the chickpeas.

5. Add in the tomatoes, red chili powder and the sumac to let the mixture cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the tomatoes to break down into a nice soft pulpy sauce that coats the chickpeas.

6. Add in the scallions and cook for another minute.

7. Garnish with the cilantro, and squeeze in the lime juice over the chickpeas and toss red onion rings if using.

This will make a nutritious dinner, with store bought flatbreads.

 

Idli – Steamed Indian Sourdough Rice and Lentil Buns

  

 Idlis are now in the list of family dishes that have been gracing our household table pretty frequently in the last month. I usually make these sourdough steamed rice and lentil buns more often in summer, when the weather is more conducive to the natural fermentation that the the base needs. However, this is one of the things in the shortlist that my daughter seems to be able to tollerate, so we have been enjoying these light and snowy creations with her. Actually, I have had a bunch of them left over from batches that I have used up in two creative recipes, that I am pleased about.

It is actually going onto month two with my daughter being under weather. We are finally scheduled to have an Endoscopy this Wednesday.  It has been a little unnerving to think of her going through a procedure where she needs to be anethesized, but I hope that at the end of the day, they are able to identify and fix the problem. In general, I have started the year feeling uneasy about health. I have been good about getting on the treadmill, ignoring the fact that it takes me a long time to even do a basic routine. Today, I was able to do the baseline 35 minute run/walk. It is not a marathon, but all races have to start somewhere.

Making an idli, is not difficult, nor does it need a lot of attention, the sourdough however, does need preparation time for soaking and fermentation. So, just plan for 36 hours before cooking them. Also, if you live in the northeast like me, you need to identify a warm place in your house. It can be your oven, assuming you are cooking on the stovetop. In our case, I the prepared batter in the boiler room and forget about it for 18-24 hours. I have played around with the composition as well, while using a proportion of the rice and lentils in this batter. While a basic proportion of using 2 parts rice to 1 part lentils is the best, I tend to like the texture and softness with about 2 and 1/4 cups rice to 3/4 parts lentils the best.

It is essential to use a short grain parboiled rice, rather than the long grain basmati rice, this can be found in Indian stores sold as Idli rice.

The recipe is otherwise relatively simple,

Idli – Steamed Sourdough Rice and Lentil Buns

Prep Time: 36 hours (mostly unattended)

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups shortgrained parboiled rice

3/4 cup white lentils (urad dal)

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1/4 inch fresh ginger

1 teaspoon salt

Water for soaking and grinding

Light oil for greasing the moulds

Method of Preparation

1. Soak the rice and the lentils separately overnight for at least 12-14 hours.

2. Wash and drain the grains.

3. Place the rice in the blender with about 1/2 cup of water and add in the fenugreek and ginger and blend in a blender for about 5-7 minutes, pausing if needed to ensure are smooth paste with just a hint of texture.

4. Place the liquid in a large container with a lid and enough space to allow the batter to ferment and expand, much like bread dough.

5. Place the white lentils with about 1/4 cup of water and blend, until smooth. This should not take very long.

6. Gently mix this into the rice mixture, the batter should have the consistency of thick pancake or waffle batter.

7. Let the batter rest undisturbed for at least 15-20 hours.  At this point the batter should smell yeasty, fruity and be a mass of soft frothy bubbles.

8. Lightly oil the idli moulds. Pour the batter into the mould till about 3/4 full, allowing a little room to let the buns rise.

9. Add about 2 inches of water in a large stock pot, or a pressure cooker (note, I use this because it is the largest pot with a lid in my house that fits the idli moulds.

10. Bring the water to a simmer, gently lower the filled idli moulds and cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the idlies rest for about 10 minutes, before gently un-molding them and serving.

 

 

 

 

 

Idli - Steamed Indian Sourdough Rice and Lentil Buns
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A steamed rice and lentil preparation of buns using a natural method of fermenting to produce a gluten free sour dough.
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups short grained parboiled rice
  • ¾ cup white lentils (urad dal)
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ inch fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water for soaking and grinding
  • Light oil for greasing the moulds
Instructions
  1. Soak the rice and the lentils separately overnight for at least 12-14 hours.
  2. Wash and drain the grains.
  3. Place the rice in the blender with about ½ cup of water and add in the fenugreek and ginger and blend in a blender for about 5-7 minutes, pausing if needed to ensure are smooth paste with just a hint of texture.
  4. Place the liquid in a large container with a lid and enough space to allow the batter to ferment and expand, much like bread dough.
  5. Place the white lentils with about ¼ cup of water and blend, until smooth. This should not take very long.
  6. Gently mix this into the rice mixture, the batter should have the consistency of thick pancake or waffle batter.
  7. Let the batter rest undisturbed for at least 15-20 hours. At this point the batter should smell yeasty, fruity and be a mass of soft frothy bubbles.
  8. Lightly oil the idli moulds. Pour the batter into the mould till about ¾ full, allowing a little room to let the buns rise.
  9. Add about 2 inches of water in a large stock pot, or a pressure cooker (note, I use this because it is the largest pot with a lid in my house that fits the idli moulds.
  10. Bring the water to a simmer, gently lower the filled idli moulds and cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the idlies rest for about 10 minutes, before gently un-molding them and serving.

Seven – My Fail Safe Favorite

 I cannot tell you how many times I have been to this surprising good restaurant tucked on the edge of Seventh Ave, in between 29th and 30th.

The first time I went there was when I software sales person took me out for a food induced sales pitch. It possibly worked, since we do own the product now. I later went there a couple of other times, including actually Christmas 2010, with my cousins.

So, why you wonder would this post be sitting in the archives for so long. Well, I do know what I have done with the food pictures of this place. Finally, I figured a good restaurant is a good restaurant, with or without pictures.

They have a good servicable menu, I have liked their crabcakes, there mac and cheese shells with a side of spinach. I have liked their potato cigars, calamari, tomato soup and fish specials. Lastly, I think that there cheese cake is quite amazing.

They tend to get busy, so I would recommend reservations or you might get seated right near the kitchen. That despite their white linen tablecloths would not be the greatest place to be.

If you are looking for something in Midtown west, that is predictably good without much to worry about, this place is definitely worth a visits.

 

Seven Bar and Grill

350 Seventh Ave

New York, New York 10001

 
Seven Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

The Koreatown Series – Shanghai Mong

 New York City is filled with amazing litte pockets of various ethnicities. I have to tell you, it is always a thrill for me to be able to try a new cuisine, without having to travel feeling a real sense of authenticity.

Koreatown, is a classic example of what I am talking about. I mean, nothing beats walking through two  blocks in this case between 5th ave and Broadway on 32nd Street, watching Korean Street signs in Korean. The segment is mostly a business area, with very few residences. There are plenty of great restaurants, an assortment of Korean and other restaurants. I ha

ve gotten to like a few of them and  would love to tell you about them. This eclectic group also includes an asian grocey that is my go to place for good Sushi and Miso as well.

Sanghai Mong, calls themselves a Chinese Fusion restaurant. They have a menu that has a small collection of asian dishes from Japan and Thailand along with the Chinese fare. You need to look beyond the somewhat cheesy decor and the weird music and allow yourself to walk in there.

Once seated, you are greeted with a small selection of Kimchi.

We have tried a bunch of stuff from the menu, but my favorites there are their Pad Thai, which they go out of their way to advertise on their window. I will tell you, this is not the real deal, in fact, they even use thin rice noodles. However, this dish with hints of peanuts and soft and fragrant basil rocks! It is comfort food on a cold day. I often like to order this as a grab and go lunch.

The other item that also falls in the category of bad good comfort food. Their large and well seasoned dumplings (yes, the fried variety are just too good to be true!)

I could finish a plateful just by myself. In fact, for people like me, they indulge with a mini order size of two dumplings.

So, next time you are in the area, pop into to this non-descript looking place with shiny neon signs and you will leave happy! Their pho and other noodle soups are also pretty decent as are their essential chinese specialties.

 The details on Shanghai Mong,

30 West, 32nd Street

New York, New York 10001

 
Shanghai Mong on Urbanspoon

Bollywood and Medhu Wada (Savory Lentil Dumplings)

 

Vadas or savory lentil doughnuts are a traditional item from the assortment of South Indian snacks that we group together as tiffin. We have lately been doing a lot of consciou breakfast eating, ranging from dosas to the more indulgent vadas.

Medhu Vada

This week, in general I have been pleased with myself. I have been a good girl about trying to get on the treadmill. I  Not all vadas are in this doughnut shape,  and not all vadas are food either. 

The recipe that I am presenting here is the vada that features in a lot of menus and is called medhu vada.

My first time trying these crisp creations was with a class with my friend Missy. It has taken me some effort to get the flavor and texture correct. I had also showcased this for one of my black and white features. The interesting thing about Susan is that when you get to one of her events, you thing of the other – MLLA. So, yes, this one will be getting to Chez Cayenne who is hosting the event this time. Vada is served with its two partners in crime, the coconut chutney and the traditional lentil soupy stew called Sambhar. Before the weekend is over, I promise to present you with recipe for the chutney.

 Interestingly enough I had made these wholesomely indulgent snacks earlier, but they would have been just especially perfect for this cold drizzly night. As I am writing I have Bollywood movie. It actually won hands down, on this Friday night to the political countdown, which leads me to wonder am I tired or just jaded.

 Ironically enough, I made the decision on the train, but before I progress on to the recipe (BTW, I never in my wildest dreams I thought I would write this), let me tell you tell you the top ten really inane reasons to watching a Bollywood movies,

  1. Somedays, I need something that enhances my mood without much effort.

 2. I want to observe how beautiful monsoon shots are crafted.

 3. I want to keep up with what is new in the Indian food scene (usually, I pick up tips like Italian food is in as is red wine, cigarettes are not trendy any more.

 4. It is a good way to see how contemporary Indian kitchens are set up.

 5. I want to sot of get the pulse on what city is entertaining besides mumbai, usually discerned by the locations the cast travels to.

 6. It is interesting to gauge, which western movie is worth Indianizing 3 years later.

 7. It is good to see the mapping between Indian and American actors/actresses, in that which Indian actor is playing the Hollywood counterpart.

 8. I need something that I can use as a backdrop while I write.

 9. We actually get these movies on Netflix.

 10. American politics isn’t what it used to be, it certainly is not very stimulating and the entertainment factor pales at times.

  Anyhow, down to the vada, there is only one key to getting the nice thick batter that is needed for these lentil snacks to hold their own that is loads of soaking of the white lentils called urad dal.

Bollywood and Medhu Wada (Savory Lentil Dumplings)

Prep Time: 4 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes

A classic South Indian tiffin item, great for breakfast or anytime.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of white lentils (urad dal)
  • Plenty of water for soaking
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Oil for deep frying

Instructions

  1. Soak the lentils overnight and drain well, in a colander. This will remain some residual water.
  2. Place the lentils with the ginger, salt, baking soda and peppercorns in a food processor.
  3. Process for about 5 minutes, with a few pulses, before turning on continuously for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove to a bowl.
  5. Heat the oil in a wok for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Take a small amount of the lentil mixture in your palm, insert a small clean hole in the center and gently lower into the oil.
  7. Do this with about 4 pieces, to fill the wok without crowding the wok.
  8. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden crisp and turn and fry on the other side.,
  9. Remove and drain on paper towels, until all the batter is used up.
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