Pasta Primavera House Style and a Mixed Day

Today was guaranteed to be a mixed bag kind of day, and as I get ready to sleep, ok scribble some lines and sleep, I try and resign myself to its inevitable mixed quality. Pasta, especially a spring time Pasta Primavera is what works for such mixed days.

SP1medIt is on days like this I appreciate the words of wisdom from Scarlett O’Hara that promise that tomorrow is another day! It always is, especially in spring when the mornings are bright or rainy. I cherish both, I love the soft spring rain, walking through patches and puddles sometimes arriving with wet hair to work much to the chagrin of some of the people at work, mostly my lovely assistant. As I say, you can take the girl out of Kolkata, but not Kolkata out of the girl.

Pasta Primavera (House Style)

To this end, today’s offering is a simple pasta dish, that I wish to call Pasta Primavera (housestyle). Yes, it is my take on a very springy pasta dish, that I have cobbled together with the new tender asparagus, corn and new fresh green peas. Chopped in lots of chives and muddled all of these together with some parmasan, garlic and olive oil. If your mom is a pasta lover like me, this simple dish full of complex flavors might be what calls her name.

Either way wishing you and yours a wonderful weekend with fresh flavors, good food and lots of love.

 

 

Pasta Primavera (House Style)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A simple pasta toss with garlic and olive oil as a lot of yard to table vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dried pasta (any shape, I am partial to bow-ties)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 11/2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped tender asparagus
  • 1/2 cup fresh green peas
  • 1/2 cup corn fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives or garlic chives
  • 11/2 tablespoons minced thyme
  • 1 lime or lemon

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in plenty of water and salt for about 7 to 8 minutes or al dente per package instructions.
  2. Heat the oil and the butter and add in the garlic and gently cook stirring frequently until the garlic is a pale toffee color and very fragrant.
  3. Add in the red pepper flakes, stir in the asparagus, green peas, corn and cook for about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pasta, working quickly to let the pasta and the ingredients coat well. Add salt to taste.
  5. Add in the chives, thyme and squeeze in the lime or lemon juice.
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Onion and Kale Fritters – Mixed Up Piyanjee

Onion Pakoras with TeaI recently ended up as a part of a conversation somewhere in the facebook world on authenticity and after sort of supporting both sides of the arguement I am not really sure where I ended. Well, I am a Libra, I know when I was growing up following one’s zodiac was serious business. I will date myself even further and tell you that a popular book amongs me and the friendship clan was Linda Goodman’s Zodiac Signs, which it turns out was the first astrology book to make the New York Times Bestseller list, illustrating the fact that I had company in my silly reading. In case you are wondering, a the Libran symbol are the scales and they are supposed to always work towards balancing things. And whenever my equilibrium shifts a little I make some variation of onion fritters also called piyanjee in Bengali.

Well, while the bit on equilibrium is not entirely true, we do love these onion ring fritters in my house. My husband of course calls them pakoras. Actually, these classic naturally gluten-free and vegan-fritters are called different thing in different parts of India, but all tend to have the same lovely crisp and savory sweetness of red onions cloaked in nutritious and crispy chickpea batter.

Onion Pakoras or Piyanjees

 

 In fact, the line in our household is, you say pakora, I say piyanjee, lets call the whole thing off. Well, the interesting thing about these fritters is that they can take a whole assortment of variations, depending on the nuances of spices used. I have used some thyme from are garden in lieu of carom seeds to make this particular version. It is available in bounty and adds a nice and simple touch of freshness. I also added some curry leaves and tender kale leaves on a touch of whimsy. The kale was in lieu of spinach which is something that I normally add.

IMG_5637-horz

 

The only caution that I offer is to ensure that you are working with medium hot oil, ensure that the batter is not too thick, there should not be too much batter over the onions, as it will overpower the sweet crispiness of the onions.

Onion and Kale Fritters – Mixed Up Piyanjee

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: about 20 fritters

An variation of classic Indian onion fritters with kale, onions, thyme and curry leaves. Perfect with a cup of tea!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized red onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped baby kale leaves or spinach
  • For the batter
  • 1 cup of besan or chickpea flour
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 11/2 tablespoons thyme or 1/4 teaspoon carom seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon red cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Separate the pieces and layers of the onions and set aside with the kale or spinach.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the besan, thyme, red cayenne powder, salt, turmeric and cilantro.
  3. Stir in about 1 cup of cold water, this should be done gradually to ensure a batter that is slightly thinner than pancake batter, but thick enough to coat.
  4. Stir in the onions and spinach.
  5. In a heavy bottom skillet add about 1 and 1/2 cups of canolla oil, about 11/2 inches deep. Heat the oil until a crumb when tested dances up to the surface.
  6. Add about 2 tablespoons of the batter, gently allowing the onions to fan out in strands.
  7. Fry on medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, this should NOT be done on high heat.
  8. Turn and fry again, the color of the fritters should be a comfortable golden brown color.
  9. Remove from the fire, drain on paper towels and serve.
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Rice and Curry and Carrots?

 

I have been guilty of something! I have found yet another great cookbook and I have kept this news all to myself.

Well, today Ihave decided to come out and confess, before you find out and tell me that I do not share. In fact, I have been cooking a lot of seasonal carrots and the excellent Carrot curry recipe in this book, tipped the balance and promted me to finally begin talking about the book.

I got a copy of Rice and Curry over this summer. Rice and Curry, is a wonderful book on the cuisine of Sri Lanka, written by fellow Hippocrene author Skiz Fernando.

The lovely island nation of Sri Lanka has been on my list of places to visit, but it is unlikely that I shall be visiting the island anytime soon. At this time this book is the closest that I can get to experience and taste this lush tropical island. However, this book with its detailed introduction that offer you a good visual and cultural orientation to the island.

I met Skiz at the IACP blog and book fair in NYC earlier this year and loved the way he talked about his book and knew that I would definitely enjoy reading it.

It has been an integral part of my kitchen since I got it. The book is written in thoughtful prose, that is vivid without being overly sentimental. It interjects a picture of Skiz’s family thereby bringing to life the life in Sri lanka as well as family anecdotes that are narrated with a sense of humor. The cuisine is close enough to Indian cooking, for me not to have to add several additional spices to my already overflowing spice shelves, however there is enough differences for me to add diversity to out dining repertoire.

carrot curry_blog

 

The nicely illustrated pages show you spices, colorful scenarios and offer a personal perspective to Skiz’s take on Sri Lankan cuisine. He attributes recipes to family members, I found the story of their 80 something family maid Leela who had been with the family for over 32 years, beautifully presented and  very touching. I have marked Leela’s Chillaw Curry as something to try out sooner rather than later.

I have tried a few of these recipes and they all work well, over time you shall see these featured on this blog.

Skiz, emphasizes the essence of the cuisine in the form of two curry powders, a lighter raw curry powder and a stronger roasted curry powder. The is an extensive use of coconut in the cuisine of the island to use up the the fruit of the coconut tree that grows in prolific abandon all around the island. Since, the cuisine is generous in its use of cayenne pepper powder the coconut offers a good balance of depth and richness to balance the heat.

This post shares, the raw curry powder recipe as well as the carrot curry recipe that I have been making a lot, recently. Yes, you guessed it, there are still a lot of carrots that we dig up as we need them from the garden. The raw curry powder, being a lighter blend has been used in this recipe.

Sri Lankan Raw Curry Powder

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 11/ tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

Instructions

  1. Grind all the ingredients in a coffee blender and store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Notes

Recipe Source: Rice and Curry, S.H. Fernando Jr. Pg 41 Hippocrene Books, Inc 2012

BTW, this blend can be bought pre-made by Skiz from www.foodoro.com

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Carrot Curry - Karat Kirata

Ingredients

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, chopped (I used a medium sized red onion)
  • 2 to 3 green chilies chopped
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of raw curry powder (see recipe)
  • 1 dried red chili chopped (I actually omitted this)
  • 1 teaspoon Maldive fish ( 1 used 1 tablespoon of fish sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder (1 left this out)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (1 used 1/2 cup for a drier consistency)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. 1. Wash peel and chop the carrots (he recommends doing this in 1 inch long strips)
  2. 2. Heat oil in pan, saute the onions, chilies, and curry leaves until the onions are transluscent.
  3. 3. Add carrots, curry powder, maldive fish (see my substitution), fenugreek seeds and toss for a few minutes.
  4. 4. Add in the coconut milk and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Notes

Recipe Source: Rice and Curry, S.H. Fernando Hippocrene Books, 2012

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My Virtual Thanksgiving – 95 Recipes and counting!

I cannot get enough of Thanksgiving, it is my favoritest holiday of the year, however, I rarely end up doing any Thankgiving posts, because cooking the food ends up taking too much of my time, and then it is too late to post for Thanksgiving. One of my other challenges is also that, I find way too many good recipes, to cook them all.

I will share later with you some of the ones that will be on my table, some are linked here and the others are just a collection to keep me entertained.

This year I have decided to bookmark and tag the links just so that I do not feel deprived and yes, there are a 101 amazing recipes that caught my attention and there are countless others, but this is a good place to start.

The Turkey

Roast Turkey with a Cranberry Honey Glaze

Alton Brown’s Brined Turkey

Mom’s Roast Turkey from Simply Recipes

Nigella’s Roasted Spicy Turkey

Roast Turkey from Ina Gartner

Herb and Citrus Roast Turkey

Apple Cider Brined Turkey

Apple Poblano Roast Turkey

Spice Brined Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy

Five Spice Turkey

Other Options

Meatless

Veggie Meatballs

Seitan Picatta

Wild Rice Stuffed Squash

Cauliflower Gratin with Endive

Two Cheese Mousaka with Mushrooms

Latice Crusted Minestrone Pot Pies

Turkey Free But not Vegetarian

Goose with Corn Bread Stuffing

City Ham Recipes

Cranberry Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

Cornish Hen with Pomegranate Mollases

Roasted Fish with Rosemary

 Mashed Potatoes (stuff I a very serious about)

Alton Brown Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Elsie’s Mashed Potatoes

Lemon Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potato Cakes

Six Variations to Mashed Potatoes

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

Miso Mashed Potatoes

Sage and Brown Butter Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes Washington Post

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

Cranberries

My Spiced Cranberry Chutney with Dates

Cranberry Relish From Epicurious

Cranberry Sauce from Simply Recipes

Cranberry Jalapeno Relish

 Quick Cranberry Sauce

Healthy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Cranberry and Green Chili Pickle

Indian Cranberry Chutney from the Mistress of Spices

 Another Indian Cranberry Chutney

Gravies

Foolproof Gravy

White Wine Gravy

Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy

Alton Brown Gravy Recipe

Consistently Good Gravy

Easy White Gravy

Greek Inspired Pan Gravy with Oregano

Rich and Silky Gravy

Red Wine Turkey Gravy

Mushroom Thyme Gravy

Squash and Orange Foods

Winter Squash Gratin

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Maple Glaze

Butternut Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Sweet Potato Chat (Sivir Saran)

Mashed Sweet Potatoes (Rachael Ray)

Mashed Sweet Potatoes (Martha)

Four Variations of Sweet Potatoes

 Cardamom and Ginger Glazed Carrots

Skinny Carrot Ginger Soup

Classic Carrot Salad

Pomegranate Carrots

 Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

Risotto with Butternut Squash

 Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Carmelized Butternut Squash Recipe

Glazed Acorn Squash Recipes

Green Beans

Sauteed Green Beans and Mushrooms

Bacon Braised Green Beans

Green Beans with Almonds and Thyme

Green Beans with Toasted Mustard Seeds and Garlic

Fresh Green Bean Casserole

Monica’s Green Beans and Potatoes

 Salads

Warm Seafood Salad with Mushrooms

Roasted Beet Salad with Pistachio and Herbs

Red Cabbage Salad with Fennel and Pepitas

Lemony Beet and Beet Green Salad

Thanksgiving Green Salad Recipe

Stuffings (I love stuffing, too!)

Wild Rice and Cornbread Stuffing Recipe

Brocolli Wild Rice and Mushroom Recipe

Mom’s Turkey Stuffing Recipe

Ciabata Stuffing with Chesnuts and Raisins

Chorizo, Cornbread and Jalepeno Dressing

Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing Balls

How to stuff a turkey step by step

Thanksgiving stuffing 101

Apple, Cranberry and Turkey Stuffing

Wild Rice and Dried Cranberry Recipe

Vegetables

Corn Casserole

Basic Brussells Sprouts

Maple Roasted Vegetables

Turnip Casserole with Porchini Crumb Topping

Brocolli Cheddar Casserole with Leeks

Brussels with Apples and Shallots

Zesty Spiced Cauliflower

Curried Potatoes with Cauliflower and Peas

Desserts

Fresh Ginger Cake

Apple Pie Bread

Apple Brown Betty

Cranberry Clafouttis

Pumpkin Pie from Spabetty

Pecan Pie Recipe

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!

CTMblog

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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