Veggie/Fruit a Month – November 2012 Announcement

Hello,

I am really excited to be hosting, the Veggie/Fruit a month event this month!

Veggie/ Fruit a Month is an event which is the brain child of talented Priya Mitharwal of Mharo Rajasthan Recipes. Her blog showcases a very interesting collection of regional Indian recipes and is certainly worth checking out.

The vegetable of the month is winter squash, that includes orange squashes such as the delicata, acorn squash or butternut squash.

The rules of the event are as follows:

  • The chosen veggie or fruit has to be the STAR of the recipe.
  • It can be cooked in any way or can be in its raw form in the recipe.
  • It can be any course of the meal (appetizer/main course/side dish/dessert/beverage or breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack).
  • Recipe has to be strictly vegetarian (eggs are allowed). This is simply to re-enforce the fact that we can eat veggies without any meat and also for all our vegetarian friends, who do not eat meat.
  • You HAVE to make new recipes and old archived posts are not allowed, so that we try and make new fresh recipes :)
  • Try to get your recipes in by the end of November, however given the late announcement, I will accept them a few days late.
  • If you are a blogger, you can simply send your Name and URL of your recipe and a pic of 300 pixel size of the preparation to Rinkub@aol.com with the subject of “Veggie/Fruit A Month – Winter Squash”.
  • Non bloggers can email me your name, recipe and picture at rinkub@aol.com and I will include your recipe in the round up.
  • Link your post to the original event post along with the event announcement for this month.
  • Use of logo is appreciated as it helps spread the word.

I hope that you are inspired by these seasonal orange beauties, and I look forward to recieving your entries!

Shredded Chicken with Cilantro, Lime, Tomato and Bell Pepper

This recipe for Shredded Chicken with Cilantro and Lime, tossed up with late season tomatoes and green bell peppers, was pure and spontaneous inspiration. It worked  to get the protein component together for our Sunday family dinner, with some added color and nurtrition. This Sunday dinner thing is new for our family. We really do not get much time to eat together as a family, during the week, with all our varied timings that life imposes upon us.  Also, it is very important for me to watch what the kids eat and also unwind with Anshul as we eat, ok, sometime maybe just unwind, but it often has made sense to let them eat separately from us.

So, we have decided to make it a point to do this on Sundays. The kids are finally at an age, where they can enjoy a lot of the flavors we eat, sans the heat of course. They inspire so much, food, thoughts and memories. I have not been to pleased this weekend, since at work we seem to have traded Columbus day for a Jewish Holiday, clearing without any real votes from me. Although, lets face it, I enjoyed the four day Rosh Hashanah weekend as well, so I should not really complain.

It is generally a very busy time of the year and not really condusive to working at home, so I do have to get in to work tomorrow. I will enjoy the quieter train and the hazy misty fall colors on the drive in.

I shall be heading to Kolkata, for a week to close out the year of mourning for Dad, with the rest of the family. Well, my mother and brother, at least. This family stays here. I have promised myself, that I shall capture a lot of sights and sounds with my camera. It will be a while before I get there alone again.

This recipe is fairly simple, since it is made with pre-cooked shredded or pulled chicken, which I had cooked in the slow cooker and as I was setting it together, inspiration struck. To get the recipe for the slow cooked chicken, please check out my small bites post, tomorrow. It is absolutely wonderful to be able to still just pull out the vegetables on demand. I still have loads of peppers. We tend to close the garden with these peppers.

Garden closing is always, such a big deal, I hope this years produce hangs in there until I return. It is almost like the official wrap -up notice for the year. It tells me when to plan for the holiday cards, and just generally wrap up unfinished business.

Shredded Chicken with Cilantro, Lime, Tomato and Green Bell Pepper

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4

A simple and flavorful recipe that gets done is less than 20 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped into eights
  • 11/2 cups shredded chicken
  • Additional Salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about 1 minute and add in the bell pepper.
  2. The bell pepper will sizzle and then begin to release some moisture. Cook the bell pepper, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes, until the pepper softens a little.
  3. Add in the tomato and cook until it barely begins to release its juices.
  4. Add in the chicken, salt, red cayenne pepper and the roasted cumin powder. Please see note on roasted cumin powder below.
  5. Cut the lime and squeeze in the lime juice.
  6. Mix in the black pepper, this is something I do over the top with the peppermill.
  7. Serve at once

Notes

Note: For the roasted cumin powder, dry roast the cumin until it is arromatic and a few shades darker, place in the spice grind and grind to a powder, I use about 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds for this recipe.

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Summer Intertia – Eggplant and Purslane Pilaf

This time of year, I move into Fall, with anticipation and joy at the colorful translation of the landscapes. It is also the time of the year, when I do not want to lose sight of some of the good summer recipes that I did not have time to share with you. So, here is my Eggplant rice with Purslane. It is an adaptation of the classic Vangi Bhaat or South Indian style Eggplant Pilaf. The outside is slowing down, but we still get a steady supply of greens and enough lone vegetables to keep us going.

This week seems to have been all about the book, even though I had promised myself when the time came I would not lose focus. I guess, the book is much like a new baby that steals the show from everything else in the house. I remember how unprepared I was for the older one, anxious, nervous and hard on myself. My son Aadi, though more of a handful, had been easier just because I was more prepared and also more willing to be easier on myself.  Being a good learner most of the time, I have realized that the it is ok not to be perfect and also learnt to forgive myself for mistakes as a mom.

This has helped me make peace with the fact that I will not be great at promoting the book baby. This being said, it will be special to me.

Now, back to cooking, this time of the year I often have several residual summer dishes, that I have to decide whether to blog and share for posterity or just forget and let them meander into nothingness, this fresh and lively pilaf, a riff on the classic version called Vangi Bhat, was certainly worth bringing out and saving for next summer when both the eggplants and purslane will grow.

Purslane, grows on its own terms a colorful and nutritious weed. I was exceedingly surprised when I realized that it is quite popular in Southern India, and aparently was also liked and eaten by Gandhi. The taste of this plant varies with the time of the day, it is eaten and usually tends to be tarter in the mornings and more mellow and almost sweet in the evenings.

So, it was a happy and colorful marriage, when I paired it with eggplant and peanuts in this colorful rice dish. Given how much we all liked it, chances are this will be a long lasting late summer marriage. In that, we shall see the duo and welcome them again, next summer.

Summer Intertia – Eggplant and Purslane Pilaf

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6

A brightly colored light and nutritious one dish meal.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup raw shelled peanut
  • 2 tablespoons oil (olive or mustard)
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 11/2 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1 medium sized eggplant, diced
  • 1 cup of basmati rice, washed throughly
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped purslane

Instructions

  1. 1. In a skillet, dry roast the peanuts until they are a few shades darker and are fragrant, this will take about 5 minutes, and needs to be watched and shaken while cooking.
  2. 2. Set the peanuts aside.
  3. 3. In a cooking pot add the oil and heat on medium heat for about 45 seconds.
  4. 4. Add in the black mustard seeds and wait unitl the mustard seeds begin to pop.
  5. 5. Add in the red onion and the red chilies and stir well and saute for about 4 minutes until the onion melts and is transluscent.
  6. 6. Add in the eggplant and stir well. Cover and lower the heat and let the eggplant cook for about 4 minutes, it should be somewhat tender at this point.
  7. 6. Add in the rice and the water and mix well.
  8. 7. Add in the turmeric and the salt and when the water is simmering, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
  9. 8. Remove the cover, at this point the water should be almost absorbed and the rice fluffy and yellow.
  10. 9. Stir in the purslane and the peanuts and mix with the light hand.
  11. 10. Cover and cook for another 3 minutes and turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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Butter Chicken or Chicken Tikka Masala – Chicken in a Fenugreek Laced Tomato Cream Sauce

I have a pot luck on Monday, as since Monday is a work day, I have to get the food all ready by tomorrow. I had decided to make the classic butter chicken as one of my choices. It is hard to go wrong with what I think is India’s signature curry. For some of you who know this dish as Chicken Tikka Masala, do not despair, at the risk of appeasing all, I believe my recipe can be called by either name.

I have probably made variations of this recipe for countless number of cooking classes, I was a little startled to realize that I actually do not have this recipe on this site. Seriously!!!  I had to simply correct this error. One of my biggest challenges, is to track and keep up with popular recipes, I tend to blog with the seasons and what inspires me to cook. Simple homestyle dishes rather than the ones that are most requested by people, so I am often at a loss when I am asked to forward or provide a recipe.

I will emphasize that what I am doing is a little blasphemeos, in the butter chicken circles. Butter chicken, is a dish of North Indian origins, it is essentially tandoori chicken or chicken tikka that is later bathed in a rich tomato cream sauce, finished with some butter. This is not hugely different from a Chicken Tikka masala, however the pundits insist that there are differences. The reality is that the chicken tikka is the westernized child of the butter chicken that was created by Indian chefs in England. Where the dichotomy lies is that there are more variations to the Tikka masala formula, than there are to the Butter chicken recipe, and hence it is dubbed as less authentic. On a different note, I always think that authentic really is a difficult concept to nail down, since strictly speaking, when it comes to Indian cooking, small variations in spices will change the nuances of the flavor and depending on the judges perspective render the dish non-authentic.

Talking about a completely different dish, a coconut based Bengali shrimp dish, Sandeepa here is rather surprised that this dish can have mustard and still be considered authentic. Interestingly enough, while my mother would never use mustard in the malai curry, I have myself run into versions where people do add the mustard paste and call it authentic, so the point being with Indian cooking, authentic does become a tricky concept!

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Well, call it what you will, this recipe is my go to recipe for days when the sun is just not bright enough, the work day is longer than I like, for company whose tastes I am unsure of, or when I want to present an Indian dish that I know is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. Even the health conscious husband seems to forgive that this dish has both butter and cream.

On yet another sell, for this classic, it freezes well, without the cream. So, I often freeze the dish and then re-heat it and add in the finishing touches of the cream and butter and this makes it almost as good as new or freshly made. This is recipe is a two-in-one recipe, if made from the scratch, because it is essentially using grilled boneless chicken tikka and simmering it in the curry sauce.

Now, a recipe for chicken tikka, I do have, so I have linked it right here rather than re-writing it again for you. This can also be made in a larger quantity and then frozen. So, it really does work ok, when simmer in the curry sauce. A note on frozen, I have finally learnt that my frozen may not really be my style, but it certainly beats something commercial and so when life give you a little extra, rather than boring the family with it for a week, it is ok to freeze it for that late evening at work day. I promise you, the husband will be surprised that you pulled out dinner from nowhere without his help.

Butter Chicken or Chicken Tikka Masala – Chicken in a Fenugreek Laced Tomato Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: 6

A delicate flavorful and creamy creation of possibly one of the best known Indian curries in the Indian international lexicon.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into a small dice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger garlic paste
  • 11/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 3 green chilies finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
  • 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 recipe prepared chicken tikka
  • 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 11/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat and add in the onions and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions soften and begin to turn a soft share of golden.
  2. Add in the ginger garlic paste and stir well and cook for another two minutes.
  3. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and the green chillies and cook for at least 7 to 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and pulpy.
  4. Stir in the cumin-coriander powder and the sour cream and mix well.
  5. Add in the sugar and salt and the water and bring the mixture to a simmer for 3 minutes.
  6. Cool slightly and blend into a smooth puree.
  7. Return the mixture to the cooking pot, add in the garam masala powder and the chopped chicken tikka and stir in the dried fenugreek leaves.
  8. Simmer for about five minutes.
  9. Stir in the cream and cook through, melt the butter and serve with warm rice or bread.
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Stir Fried Beetroot with Ginger, Lime and Toasted Spices – Beetroot Sabji

 Beetroots and Carrots grace our backyard almost all the year round. Since, they stay under the soil, we have them through early winter too. My usual treatment with beetroots has been to roast them, and then enjoy them usually in a salad.

One of the main reasons I have not thought of cooking them, the way I would most other vegetables is really based on a predisposed idea that I have where I am convinced that beetroots are hard and take a long time to cook. This year, mostly, inspired by several of my friends from Southern India, I took the plunge of inviting this vegetable into the mainstream.

Well, one of the things that I did find, as with other vegetables, fresh dug from the soil beetroots are different from some of their other counterparts that I have found in the stores. They tend to slice and chop up easy. I have also learnt to love and enjoy  the many colors of this vegetable. They offer a beautiful contrast of reds.

I of course, love them in stews, which actually I have been using for a long time, so stet that first sentence where I tell you I do not cook them without roasting them. I do not cook them solo, without roasting them.

What I did with them as usual, is very simple, befitting the rush and run Saturday routine. Yes, we are back to school, with a gusto! I am grateful that the kids love their soccer coaches. Aadi is enthusiastic about going to games for reasons other than just meeting his friend Brian. I am also accepting of the fact, that all of this means a very packed fall. The pace at Anshul’s work has been rather hectic, he has been good about mandated Daddy duties but pretty much left all husband niceties on the table, since outside of the kids weekday routine, he has to catch up with work. So we have not had as much family time as I would like the past couple of weekends.

If your life sounds like it could use a quick fix dish, for any reason or just because, you might want to give this colorful, antioxidant rich stir fry a try.

Stir Fried Beetroot with Ginger, Lime and Toasted Spices – Beetroot Sabji

Ingredients

  • 6 medium sized fresh beetroots (if your beetroots are larger you can use 4)
  • 3 tablespoons walnut or olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 lime
  • 11/2 teaspoons finely minced cilantro

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut the beetroot into sticks about 2 inches by 1/2 cm.
  2. Heat the oil on medium low heat for about 1 minute and add in the mustard and cumin seeds.
  3. When the mustard seed, begins to crackle add in the shallot and ginger paste and cook for about 4 minutes until the shallots are soft and wilted and the ginger is fragrant.
  4. Add in the chopped beets and the chili powder and sesame seeds and mix well.
  5. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes on medium low heat, until the beets are tender crisp.
  6. Cut the lime and squeeze in the juice and stir in the cilantro and mix well.
  7. Serve as a side to any meal of your choice.
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Emily’s Red Wine and Sweet Sausage Pasta

Cooking and posting pasta twice in quick succession will tell you two things, one that I am pressed for time and secondly that I am craving comfort food. My husband though is almost reaching the end of his pasta meter, he is good with pasta about once a week more than that he starts thinking he is a neglected spouse. This pasta recipe is one of my comfort stock recipes that I like to call Emily’s Red Wine and Sweet Sausage Pasta. Of course, given how many variations I have had of the recipe, chances are today it is more of a Rinku’s Red Wine and Sweet Sausage Pasta. To be fair, like most of the recipes that I attribute to people, this is something that I saw being made rather than actually recieved a recipe for, but even from my memory over the year’s I have fussed and strayed. Swapped the butter for more olive oil, added some more vegetables, generally, I think you get the picture.

To tell you about Emily, I have to tell you about my uncle. He was my third uncle, or my grandmother’s third son, my father being her fourth. I am often likened to him by family and they call me a prodigal like him. I shall tell you my story some other day,  today let us stick to my uncle. He was the first of our family to venture overseas, he went to England for a medical degree and came back to India with both the degree and an English wife much to my conservative grandmother’s shock. Well, just as she was begining to make her peace with the foreign daughter-in-law they decided to leave for the new world – America.

This sort of put me out of touch with them, until I later moved to come and study here. I got quite attached to them and did marvel at their courage in forging their own identity. They lived happily together for 33 year, with a love all the more stronger for surving the odds. However, after this my aunt died unexpectedly from cancer. This was painful and heartbreaking for my uncle and not really something that he could recover from.

Left with a broken heart, he retreated to his own vacuum and eventually died himself three years laters. I did visit them and later him, frequently, his large and peaceful home in small town Ohio, offered me a taste of home and solace when I needed it the most.

Somehow, in these last rather reclusive years, he managed to befriend Emily and her quite gentle friendship helped him with his sadness. I do not know where she is today, but somewhere I often say a silent prayer for her and thank her for keep my uncle company when he needed it.

One of my visits, Emily had invited me for dinner and was making pasta, at that time my kitchen and pantry was rather sparse and uninitiated so I was amazed and intrigued at her use of ingredients like foreign pasta, olive oil and red wine in cooking. Well, these today have become such staples that this pasta dish as become one of my summer fixes in late summer, when the tomatoes are still in their bounty and the herbs are plentiful and as for the red wine, that too is free flowing in all seasons.

Depending on the pantry, I have added bell peppers to this sauce as well, I used to add tomato paste to it at one point of time, I have now given that up in favor of cooking it a little longer.

 

 

Red Wine and Sweet Sausage Pasta

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

A well seasoned thick and chunky pasta sauce, that makes a hearty and satisfying dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pods garlic, pressed
  • 1 red or white onion, finely diced
  • 6 ripe red tomatoes, cut into a dice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaved, miced
  • 3/4 cup of red wine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound of sweet fennel sausage cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup ground lamb (optional, but helps in the thickness and flavor)
  • 1 zucchini, cut into a small dice
  • 21/2 cups of prepared al dente pasta, I like radiatore
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat the oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan for about 1 minute, add in the garlic and cook until it is pale golden and add in the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until it is soft and transluscent.
  2. 2. Add in the tomatoes, oregano and thyme leaves and cook on medium low heat until the tomatoes reach a soft, gentle simmer.
  3. 3. Continue cooking the tomatoes for 10 minutes, stirring and breaking the tomatoes with the back of the spoon to form a thicker sauce.
  4. 4. Gradually add in 1/3 of the wine and the sugar and red pepper flakes.
  5. 5. Stir in the sweet fennel sausage and ground lamb and continue simmer the sauce for 20 more minutes.
  6. 6. Add in the zucchini and simmer for 10 minutes, stir in salt as needed and mix in the pasta and serve.
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Green Beans with Toasted Mustard Seeds and Garlic

 I should probably re-label this the determined Green Beans with Toasted Garlic and Mustard seeds, because for some reason this site has been a little resistant in allowing me to post this recipe. It pretty much wiped it out the first time around.

Maybe it is upset at being the second fiddle to this whole foods contest, where this recipe ended up winning and paying for itself. Ha! But seriously speaking, I like to think that my seasonal take on Indian cooking could use all the endorsement it gets and a contest like this helps! The feedback and emails from my weekly small bites column also helps!

Down to other thoughts and speaking of small bites, my fellow columist JL, wrote a post about how she accidently ate food that was well, non-vegan. This generated a lot of controversy and while the traffic for the blog was good news it got me thinking. about opinions and food preferences. I realize that as someone who in my small way am espousing a choice and preference (seasonal eating is a choice), and writing about it in an open forum I too am voicing an opinion, but do I really have the right to impose this choice or speak about someone who eats and feels differently.

Growing up in a country where more than half the people still lead a vegetarian lifestyle, I cannot help wondering why we have disected food into so many categories – vegan, paleo, you get the drift. Worse yet, why do we feel when we have decided to eat a certain way for phillosophical, ethical or even health reasons that our way is the right way? And by the way what about taste? I bring this boring concept into the equation, mostly because I have realized that over 50% of the recipes on this blog, interestingly enough happen to be vegan. This just happens to be the preffered way of cooking them. Of course, you can ask why the hell do I even tag them in these categories? This is for a lot of my students and the few followers who express an interest in this kind of cooking. I guess, what I am trying to say in my own special way is why can’t we live and let live? Well, now that you have my unwanted and strange ramblings on a rainy summer night, here is the very simple and fresh tasting recipe, which yes, is vegan, vegetarian and guaranteed to offend my MIL. I shall tell you after the recipe why.

 

 

Green Beans with Toasted Mustard and garlic

Prep Time: 12 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 27 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6

A light and lively rendition of green beans, garlicky with a nice dose of mellow tempered heat!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 11/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (about 4 pods)
  • 3/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes or to taste
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Trim the beans and finely chop the beans (I like to cut them into small breadth wise slivers).
  2. Heat the oil and the butter on medium heat for a minute and add in the mustard seeds and wait for them to crackle and pop, this takes about 30 seconds.
  3. Turn off the heat for a minute or so and then turn back the heat on low and add in the garlic and gently cook until the garlic is pale golden and fragrant. This takes less than a minute and it is important to make sure that the garlic does not get burnt or it will taste bitter and ruin the dish.
  4. Add in the green beans and stir well with the red chili powder and the salt and stir well.
  5. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the beans are cooked through.The beans are soft with a slight hint of crunch in this recipe.
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Ok, just in case you are interested, back to the MIL…

She does do milk and dairy, why because you are not killing anything but simply using milk, to her this is as natural as nursing your child. However, anything in the allium family, onion and and garlic to be specific is live, potent and if you are to subscribe to a certain variety of hindu thinking, bad for life. So, there you have it, I have honestly concluded, it is really not possible to eat and please everyone.

However, eat, cook and do what makes you happy!

TGIF – Masala Mushroom Bhuna

If you are are looking for a friday night dish that tastes like it was cooked on a slow, relaxed sunday with loads of attention and affection, I think that you will agree my Masala Mushroom Bhuna, or flash cooked spicy mushrooms might do the trick. The term Bhuna is a reference of slow sauteeing of the spice base or masala, until it reaches a well balanced carmelized perfection. All of these conjure images of long well attended cooking, these mushrooms evoke and bring to your table all of these, except that they are cooked in a relatively short period of time.

Technically, today marks the begining of my short summer vacation. I have to confess, it has been a well earned one. I have worked extremely hard the past couple of months at work, on the book and at home (since the husband fell sick). I have not even had time to think through the visit to Yellowstone, but the kids are happy and excited.

I wrapped up most things at work with the exception of getting my out of office mail organized and came home. Made a last ditch trip to pick up a few essentials and then had to fix dinner. Friday night dinners for me are rather tricky. I am usually rather tired and ready to wrap up the week and recharge for the weekend. I have usually done away with going out on Friday’s, but then the husband usually expects something weekend like (I know, the man is spoilt and does not know it).

Ever so often however you get lucky with your kitchen exploits. What makes this dish special are the full flavored summer tomatoes, that have been cheering me with their beautiful, brightly colored beauty and filling the table with with their vivids hues. On the other hand, yes, the tomatoes help, but what really seals this dish is the fact that it is a dish that is a friday kind of dish in terms of cooking time and efforts but almost convinces you that it is a Sunday afternoon kind of flavor.

The dish is quick cooked with constant stirring (I know, constant does not sound easy, but only for aboout 15 minutes) and tastes like it has been cooked to slow perfection for hours. The general technique here is what we in Bengali call kasha and in Bangladesh or North India bhuna, or cooking without water, and it essentially yields a slow cooked rich tasting gravy. The catch here is that, since I am doing this with mushrooms, I do not actually have to wait till the dish cooks down or until the meat is down to a super tender consistency, but it still offers a nice and satisfying taste. Just the kind that you would expect from a Sunday kind of dish.

As I run through the rest of the refridgerator cleaning ritual that is typical, I am sure I shall cook up more fun. I shall brace myself before I can get ready for another season of rehersals, dance and soccer practice routines and a full and bright flavored welcome to my favorite season – Fall.

On to the recipe,

TGIF – Masala Mushroom Bhuna

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion, peeled
  • 3 pods garlic
  • 1 inch piece of peeled ginger
  • 2 fresh green chilies
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
  • 3 cups of cremeni (baby bella) mushrooms, halved
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 11/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Quarter the onion, place in a food processor with the garlic, ginger and green chilies.
  2. Process until finely chopped.
  3. Heat the oil on medium heat for 1 minute.
  4. Add in the cumin seeds and wait until they begin to sizzle, this will take a few seconds.
  5. Add in the onion mixture and began cooking on high heat, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. At this point, the onion should turn dry and begin to turn translucent.
  6. Add in the tomatoes and cook on high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken.
  7. Add in the cumin coriander powder and cook for another one or two minutes.
  8. Add in the mushrooms, salt and the sugar and continue cooking the mixture, stirring frequently until the mixture forms a thick fairly dry sauce that coats the mushrooms. This should take another five minutes.
  9. Stir in the cilantro and serve.
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Sunday Raspberry and Sour Cream Crepes

A fresh tasting crepe recipe, for a Sunday morning Raspberry and Sour Cream Crepe, fits with my dreamy imagination of Sunday. 

In my dreams, I imagine a life filled with orderly mealtimes, where the food looks perfect, the table is organized and well set and I am supervising the eating of two well behaved and calm children. Well, this is not everyday in our household, while for the most part we eat well and I will go as far as saying the kids appreciate what I cook for them, the ongoing and everyday is more chaotic than calm, filled with school, work, piano and the usual that makes the hustle and bustle complete. In the middle of these we fit in the garden, that is now filled with berries, specifically raspberries that we enjoy in the mornings and evenings.

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Baigan Bharta – Char Roasted Eggplant Puree

I am grateful for various reasons that I actually waited until this morning to truly formulate this post. Heading out this morning, taking in a truly beautiful day allowed me to pause for a few moments, breathe and remember what was important. Just as grateful as I am for the heady bounty of summer eggplants and tomatoes. The small expanse of the yard as I walked through was a riot of bright yellows, squash blossoms and these pretty black-eyed Susans that are hardy and a consistent harbinger of summer at its peak. I was initially drawing a blank at the name, I guess, I needed that espresso shot in this morning’s coffee.

BBmed

 

My friend Julianna’s quiet comment to me had been, not easy, I actually could not size it up better. The weekend just had not been easy. There I said it!

Baigan Bhartha

Anshul has been sick for over a week. It also coincided with a deadline for the book. Thank goodness, I never wait until the last minute, usually. It gets a little scarier for me with every step, wonder if this is a weird reaction. In fact, this weekend was so crazy I did not have the energy to open the manuscript. To add to the craziness, Deepta to coincide with the fun has a ear infection and since her doctor feels that she should not have fever with this, she just might have introduced a totally different bug to the household. So much for the rest of August!

To smooth out the weekend, I made a whole bunch of comfort meals, one of them includes this baigan bharta, or fire charred, spicy pureed eggplant. There are no set rules to these recipes, so I vary them from time to time, in summer, I tend to add more tomatoes so the dish tends to be darker in color, however one of my favorites. I actually made a stack of tandoori rotis, to go with these and was quite pleased with the results.

Ironically enough, char roasted eggplants are more of a winter specialty in India, and once upon a time I was ok with cooking them in winter, the problem is that the tender summer eggplants have spoilt me, the seedy eggplants usually found off season in the supermarkets do not cut it. Sorry, A&P, even your loyalty percentage off cannot fix this one. The husband has been also very sad that his garden has been withering, well, unfortunately, I cannot help with that one.

Too exhausted to even try, thank goodness for all these automated sprinklers. We have a fridge full of food, well, anyone who knows me does know that I cook to de-stress. I just wish it burned more than fuel, some calories, maybe?

My dear friend Dawn, has been asking me for this recipe for a while. I will say that like with all dishes such as this one there are several variations. In fact, my own kitchen has at least three. The first two are close cousins, I sometimes add the bell peppers and other times I skip that out.

Baigan Bharta – Summer Eggplant for the Soul

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4

Char Roasted Pureed Eggplants in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized eggplants
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ¾ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tomatoes, blended into a puree
  • 2 green chilies, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro

Instructions

  1. Place the eggplant on an open gas flame on a corner of the grill if you are grilling. If neither of these are options then place the eggplant in a 350 degree oven and bake until soft and then broil until the outer skin is charred. Back to the open flame eggplant, cook until it is soft and the outer skin is completely charred. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat the oil on medium heat for about 1 minute, and add in the cumin seeds and when they begin to sizzle, add in the red onion and sauté lightly until the onion softens and wilts and finally gently turns pale golden in corners.
  3. Add in the ginger-garlic paste and sauté lightly until the paste is somewhat dry and begins to turn fragrant.
  4. Add in the tomatoes and the chilies and begin to cook this mixture to allow the tomatoes to turn into a thick fairly dry sauce, you should begin to see the oil leaching again from the edges.
  5. While the tomatoes are cooking, peel and discard the charred skin from the eggplant and mash lightly.
  6. Add into the tomato spice mixture and mix well.
  7. Stir in the cilantro and mix well.
  8. Enjoy with your choice of bread or rice.
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