Deepta’s Deconstructed Guacamole or Avocado Kachumber

Deconstructed Guacomole_Blog The weekend was about as perfect as it gets, although I am exhausted from being out in the sun on Monday. I know, I know, here I go complaining about the heat even before summer is officially here! I have to confess that I really am a spring and summer kind of girl however, summer seduces me with its gift of fresh produce. The garden is sprouting and blossoming and I could not be more excited!

I had whipped up a batch of veggie burgers that got us in the mood before I could fire up the grill. Our neighbor has dropped off a fresh bunch of rhubarb that shall be cooked in a couple of ways and I even saw the face of my first Kohlrabi, which was promptly cooked up into a curried kohlrabi dish from The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles.  Today’s dish however is a low key salad that was put together by one of the little chefs in my house, using the ingredients of a guacamole she created a dish that we are calling a Deconstructed Guacamole, named after the young lady herself. Actually, this recipe has a tiny but of name confusion as I am not quite sure whether to call it a Deconstructed Guacamole or a Kachumber which is essentially an Indian style chopped salad.

California Walnuts

This is a perfect recipe anytime of the year, and great as a side dish for almost any meal.

It is light and lively and gets a touch of crunch from the addition of some California Walnuts which came our way a few days ago. I usually like to add peanuts to my salads, however given the addition of the soft avocado, it made a lot of sense to add the softer textured walnuts to this dish. The soft gentle and earthy taste of the walnuts was a lovely addition to this fresh salad that will feature on my table a few more times over the course of the summer. The guacamole lover while pleased with her creations did say that she preffered to stick to the well constructed version of the dish.

California Walnuts

 

Deepta’s Deconstructed Guacamole or Avocado Kachumber

Prep Time: 30 minutes

A chopped salad with all the flavors of a guacamole.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of red or multicolored grape tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, very finely diced
  • 1 medium sized avocado, peeled and diced
  • I lime or lemon, halved and seeded
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 green chili, such as a Serrano finely minced
  • ½ cup fresh walnuts, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl add in the tomatoes, onions and the avocado and mix well. Squeeze in the lime or lemon juice and add in the sea salt and mix well.
  2. Stir in the cilantro and the green chili and the walnuts and mix well. Stir in chives, chill for at least 15 minutes up to an hour and let the flavors settle before serving.
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When it’s hot… Indian Mint and Maple Lemonade

Mint and Maple Spiced LemonadeEvery year I wait for the mint to reappear in the garden and just when it is truly hot, it is time for my kicked-up lemonade, this is a very traditional Indian recipe with some depth of flavor from my much loved maple syrup. This surfaces in my house when the mercury rises.

Well, if there were any doubts as to weather summer is here, I think today would have dispelled them for you at least if you lived in the New York area, we had the mercury soaring to the 80 degree mark truly heralding in the unofficial beginning of summer. Well every season does have its redeeming moments and the joy of summer among other things is the joy of savoring chilled wine and cool drinks. Then again you can try a classic Indian lemonade also called Nimbu Pani, which brings you all the refreshment without any alcohol.

Mint and Maple Lemonade

I actually made this kicked up lemonade, well kicked with spice rather than alcohol although I do not think that a splash of limoncello would hurt.  This totally hit the spot, I had some young and fresh ginger that I had initially grated in with the intention of straining out but the ginger was actually marinated and was not unpleasant to taste and I ended up leaving it in.

I have played around with a few older recipes and I have settled for this particular variation.

Mint and Maple Indian Lemonade

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 glass

A refreshing take on a very Indian lemonade, sweetened with maple syrup.

Ingredients

  • 4 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon black salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup mint sprigs
  • 3 cups of water
  • Lots of ice

Instructions

  1. Cut the lemons and remove the seeds and squeeze the juice into a glass. Stir in the black salt and the ginger and let it steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Strain the juice and mix in the maple syrup. Add in the mint and the water and stir well.
  3. Add ice to the glasses and pour the lemonade into the glasses and enjoy.
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Salmon Tikka Hariyali – Grilled Salmon Kebabs with Mint Chutney

Salmon Tikka Hariyali   It has taken a bit of time for me to get back into some blogging enthusiasm. The new cookbook is officially out as we speak, but, it has taken a little bit of time for this to feel real. In some ways, this has been a bumpy start in terms of mailing and getting things all lined up.  As with all projects there is sometimes a little but of an anticlimax to get things all straightened out. I think we are there though, folks! There has been a lot of energy and love poured into the pages of the cookbook and I do hope some of you will leaf through it to welcome it into your homes and lives.

California Walnuts

A group of six bloggers have cheerfully joined into the fray to get ideas started with my classic green mint chutney. They have has a wonderful assortment of ideas and everyone of them are giving away a copy of the cookbook. So, Susan Lester at Create Amazing Meals meshed this with Fresh Watermelon, very seasonal and very Indian, while Laura Tabbaca at The Spiced Life paired it with cauliflower to make a Cauliflower Chat and Susan Pridmore over at The Wimpy Vegetarian made a chutney infused rice dish that sounds oh so good! and Trish at In Fine Balance, made her own parsley based variation and tossed it with potatoes, now that is something I have to try soon. Felice at All That’s left are the crumbs, tried a Chutney and Cheese pairing, something that sounds as classic as the chutney itself because clearly Joy at Get Cooking had the same idea. All of this persuaded me to join the fun with something that we do very often, make it with Salmon Tikka or Tandoori Salmon Kebabs. I had recently received a bag of walnuts from Califorina walnuts and I made a fresh walnut salad to pair with the salmon along with of course the green chutney.

Salmon Tikka Hariyali

I shall post the salad recipe, one of these days! Hopefully today or tomorrow? The word hariyali essentially means green infused, and in this recipe I infuse the herbs in two ways, in the marinade and then with the chutney on top. For other chutneys and ideas I do hope you will take a look at the cookbook, that I have written with care for you and yours.

Salmon Tikka Hariyali – Grilled Tandoori Salmon Kebabs with Mint Chutney

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 20 minutes

A green and fragrant version of tandoori salmon kebabs.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup low fat yogurt
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint
  • 11/2 tablespoons of tandoori masala
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 11/4 pounds of salmon fillet, cubed or left in a large piece
  • 2 tablespoons of oil, optional
  • 2 tablespoons mint chutney to finish
  • Cilantro and sliced onions to garnish

Instructions

  1. Place the yogurt, fresh mint, tandoori masala, salt, ground ginger, kasuri methi in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Marinate the salmon for about 1 hour.
  3. Add the oil and place under a broiler and broil the fish for about 8 to 10 minutes. Alternately, it can be placed over the grill and grill for the same time. If you are cubing the fish, it is best to skewer
  4. Remove carefully and place on a plate.
  5. Carefully drizzle with the mint chutney and garnish with the cilantro and red onions and serve with a salad and if desired some rice.
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Mojito Salmon My Way

Mojito SalmonThis recipe that I am calling Mojito Salmon despite its rather authentic sounding name is really a figment of my imagination, inspired by a label on a Trader Joe’s Box. Well, it is sort of loosely based on the ingredients on the box and of course inspiration from what I think a Mojito gone savory would be like. It has rum and lime in fresh and generous proportions, and tasted pretty good!

If you really begin to dig deeper, you will realize that this post is really about my issues with Common Core and all the fuss about it. So, at this point our children are “all done” at least for this iteration. My two have forgotten all about the week, which for the most part was not as traumatic for them as it was supposed to be. I wonder, with all the fuss and concerns (including our esteemed county executive) master rather than join them in the fuss and convince them it is too difficult to overcome or depending on your perspective not even worth arguing over.

Dance Pic

The annual dance recitals for the children’s Bharatnatyam performances were also this weekend. I for one am completely wiped. Maybe a few days breathing the mountain air upstate will help. This week I go went up for the annual conference that I have been going to for the past three years for work, the beautiful and serene mountain air and the Otesega lake always helps!

Salmon_2

Mojito Salmon My Way

Ingredients

    For the marinade
  • 1/3 cup rum
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 6 pods of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro minced
  • 2 tablespoon mint, chopped
  • 1 lime or lemon
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • To finish
  • 2 pounds of salmon, cut into 4 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Mix the rum, coconut cream, garlic, jalapeno pepper, salt, poblano pepper, red bell pepper, shallots, cilantro, mint and stir thoroughly.
  2. Cut the lime or lemon, remove the seeds and squeeze in the juice and add the olive oil.
  3. Place in a large zip lock bag, add in the salmon pieces and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, place the salmon on a baking dish and bake for 8 minutes, broil on low for another 3 to 4 minutes until the salmon is lightly crisped around the edges.
  5. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped mint leaves and serve.
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Asparagus and Carrot Poriyal

CrocusesOne of those weeks, where spring is trying to make up its mind whether it is really or truly here. Easter weekend, was beautiful, we had friends and I even made Devilled Eggs, my way of course!  The garden was fully awake, with the crocuses all out right alongside the dafodills which were in play, recovering of course from the weird snow we had just a few days ago. Yes, the weekend was pure perfection and I cooked up a simple stir fry with asparagus and carrots. Last year, right around this time both the asparagus and carrots were out and about and I had made this wonderful dish – an asparagus and carrot poriyal or a South Indian stir fry, not unlike the cabbage version of the stir-fry that I had made earlier here.

Por_Sq2med

This has been a week full of myriad thoughts and emotions. It is getting close to the release of Spices and Seasons, and suddenly there seems to be just way too much going on. In particular, I am excited as I am working to put together a collection of appearances in local farmer’s markets, that we are calling Masala meets the Market. This is what the schedule looks like so far.

It has been also been a busy week at work and yet I have been thinking fifty miles a minute about different stuff. Mostly, triggered by a discussion on feminism. In a world where we have instances where an “educated” man can beat his girlfriend, I am not sure what this term can mean anymore. I can pontificate forever, but, at the end of the day I just hope that I am raising my two young ones with parity.

Asparagus Poriyal

The good news is that, despite all my rather complex thoughts today’s dish is really very simple. But, then again you knew that maybe, after all it is a weeknight dish in my household, and we all know that means under 30 minutes all prep time included.

Asparagus and Carrot Poriyal

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

A simple and colorful stir fry with asparagus and carrots, with fresh coconut and South Indian spices

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 3/4 teaspoon Bengal Gram Lentils (channa dal)
  • 3/4 teaspoon white split lentils (urad dal)
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 to 2 dried red chilies
  • 2 cups chopped asparagus (about 1 pound of asparagus, chopped and tough ends discarded)
  • 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of red cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated coconut
  • Optional chopped cilantro to garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil for about a minute on medium low heat, and add in the mustard seeds and wait until they pop! Add in the cumin seeds and the asafetida, followed by the Bengal Gram lentils and white split lentils and curry leaves. All of this is done is quick succession so it is a good idea to keep them organized.
  2. Lightly crush the red chilies and mix in with the asparagus and the carrots and salt and red cayenne pepper and stir well. Cover and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Remove the cover and mix the vegetables well. Stir in the grated coconut and the cilantro (if using) and stir well. Serve hot with other things or at room temp.
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Bohemian in Kolkata, Winter Travels

Unsettled Monday morning! Yesterday, we had a snag with our heatiIMG_8571ng, resulting in a somewhat awkward night. I wonder how people managed in the days before central heating, the portable heaters helped, but they were somewhat irregular. All too soon, the night gave way to a dark morning (the joys of setting the clock back) and finally there were the flurries – all ten minutes of them! On a March morning! There it was, I felt unsettled… to ground myself I began sorting through pictures, something that never fails to calm me and something that never gets totally organized in my life. This had been the proposed begining to my post on Bohemian, and it might have been serindipity that I picked it up again on an April day, when we were greeted with snow, not much, but enough to create a sense of light unsettlement!

Well, the pictures that I chanced on were not just any pictures, these were Kolkata pictures from a dining experience I had on this last trip that I wanted to talk about. Finally, IIMG_8572visited Bohemian! A South Calcutta establishment all set to shake up the flavors, just a little the Bengali way! There is so much about the look and feel, that takes me back to sounds and melodies that I remember, the age of classic rock…

Once you find the place, if you are a South Calcutta bred person like me, visiting her old digs rather infrequently, you will experience layers of familiarity and nostalgia. This small but interestingly set up restaurant could be one of the houses you spend several hours trying to figure out what is life… True to form, the window has an eclectic mix of spice jars and classic rock labels. It was too busy a day to talk to the Chef, but he was very much around, present and hands-on.

The general concept of Chef Joy Banerjee’s cooking is indeed very close to my heart, he is broadening people’s horizons and concepts about Bengali cuisine, its flavors, possibilities and potential. As I say in my book, Bengali food has been shaped by a multitude of influences, it is just often we do not feel that it is appropriate to showcase all of these dimensions of cooking. There are some very conventional ingredients that are favored on the Chef’s menu, the classic Gandhoraj or Indian style Meyer Lemon being one of them. He adds this to his sauces, his drinks and desserts, in well, joyous abandon.

IMG_8574The chef also has a penchant for the Bengali spice radhuni, something that is again, uniquely bengali and yet used in very interesting ways in both fish and meat dishes on his menu. All said and done however, it is spice that needs to be used with care and Chef Joy certainly does this well.  As a side bar, a more traditional blend of the Bengali Five Spices

Trying to scale the dining scene the every one or two years that I end up visiting Kolkata really is not possible. Kolkatta, much like NYC is a gastronomical continent unto itself. Every few months there are several new joints ranging from the hole in the wall to the ultra fancy, that mushroom. The food obsessed Bengali enjoys and partakes the pleasure of these eating places with enthusiastic gusto! A not so new trend are the restaurants that are specializing in Bengali cuisine, much like my favorite Six Ballygunge Place that I tell you about here. Bohemian as the name suggests is different, it is about mixing it up just a little and yet, if you are a product of my generation, you will find the vibe very familiar.

It is always difficult to plan schedules well ahead of time when on vacation, so while we had wanted to visit on Christmas day, I ended up calling the restaurant right on Christmas morning. It took some persuasion to get reservations (or bookings as they are called in Kolkata speak)! The fact that 12:30 is way too early for local lunchtime worked in our favor and I truly appreciated the juggling around done to accomodate us. Walking into the neat, compact and carefully done up restaurant is much like walking into someone’s house. It does not have a hackneyed or industrial feel to it and just for this, I would recommend making a stop to check the place and grabing a drink or so.

A delicate corn and spinach puff, a lighter take on a samosa, the joyous lamb chops and prawn cutlets were our appetizers. Make sure you sample all the dipping sauces, right from the mustard aioli to the sweet chili chutney like dip, each one presents a delicate and interesting dimension of flavor. In fact, as I write this, I am now inspired to try to make some myself, the mustard aioli that is.

Food is about the details and in the presentation there is plenty. The greens or shaag, while very typical and traditional have a lighter touch, and work well with the crushed bori or lentil nuggets, a refined version of this dish that I have shared with you here.

 

IMG_8576

 

Nowonto some of the others, mom and Anshul had both ordered fish dishes. Mom found the garlic in her dish a little too strong, but then again my mother is rather particular about her flavors. Anshul could have used a little more heat in his
cooking. I personally had to taste everything, overall I thought the gravies  could have been a little lighter on the firm fleshed and delicate bhetki, but  then again, I tend to cook fish in a very minimalistic way.

 

So, we had ordered two variations of the Bhetki fish, one in a galangal or aam ada sauce, and another with the radhuni seasoning. I ordered a green chili mutton, which was off their tweaked menu.

IMG_8578

The kids ordered a pizza, which was well done, but unfortunately something that they found spicy. All in all, we were a motley bunch and we all were so full, that there was no room for dessert. I shall have to return next year to check out his wonderfully nuanced dessert menu.

The Co-Ordinates

Bohemian

32/4 old ballygunge 1st lane,

Bondel Rd,

Ballygunge Park, Ballygunge, Kolkata, West Bengal 700019, India
+91 33 6460 1002

Kabocha Squash with Fresh Fenugreek and Coconut – Narkol Diye Kumro Methi

I have often used the morning of Poila boishakh to reflect, reground myself to a new beginning, a new sense of purpose. My favorite poet’s Bengali words in ringing in the New Year, Tumi Naba Naba Rupe Esho Praney (come into my heart in myriad new ways), ringing in my heart I regrouped in to a new morning, albeit a slightly disorganized one. Last night, was a wonderful Bengali meal of myriad colors and textures, the highlight was a new dish, a Kabocha squash and fenugreek stir-fry, laced with freshly grated coconut. This dish can be made with any kind of pumkin or squash, I find that kabocha is closest to the pumpkin found in Kolkata. Without, it sounding like a shameless plug for my cookbook, I really was thrilled to see that most of my cooking was from The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles. At the end of the day, it is important to see that it is a book that can be used for practical purposes, as and when needed. Our table looked a little like this, a classic Bengali meal as I always say is about eating the rainbow.

Table Poila Boisakh

The children have spring break this week, turning the house into somewhat slow mode, leaving me with a reluctance to leave. But, leave I did! In the train I realized that I had left my cell phone in my car, ugh! Let’s hope I make my 10am meeting to Brooklyn on time without any need for that creature called the i-phone.

Kcubes_1

Now, in a passed train, I promise myself that tomorrow will be another day, an organized day where I remember to exercise and drink my 8 glasses of water. It was a beautiful weekend, just the kind that whispers to you, it is a new beginning. There is so much life out and about the yard, very fitting of the beauty of a new year. It is time when the colors of Hudson Valley begin to sing! And the garden, that nourishes us and brings us so much joy every year deserves a name, more than just the garden, so in honor of a New Year, it has been named Curry Garden.

Cooking the squash

Well, let us get back to the kabocha squash, this dish is simple, mostly about the accents of fresh fenugreek or methi, which is a seasonal green if it is one of the greens on your horizon. The fenugreek in this dish can be effectively replaced with tender spring raab, which is almost here. I will strongly recommend using freshly grated coconut for this dish, I have to confess, after using the fresh coconut the last few times, I am spoilt for frozen coconut forever!

Kabocha Squash with Fresh Fenugreek and Coconut

The fragrant slightly bitter notes of the fenugreek, worked beautifully with the soft vibrant and sweet kabocha, offering a beautiful coupling of flavors. Right along with all the chives in the garden, and fat and healthy sprouts all welcoming the season and the new day in myriad and melodious ways. My kids sat on the table and totally savored the meal, and paused and high-fived each other to wish themselves Poila Baishakh or Bengali New Year. Hey! Whatever works! The post script on this was, while I did make the meeting on time, the visit to Brooklyn, made me realize that I need to be back to the bureau soon, it certainly gave me a glimpse of why it is touted as an unsung food story. On a very different note, there is a group that I watch with a tinge of jealously. It is the Kolkata blogger’s group, I watch them and salivate over their events. Their most recent event, I came by through Depashree’s beautiful space, her stunning photography will bring you back to her page again and again.

new year1 The event celebrates food, that is very close to my heart, the unsung and very delicious Bengali vegetarian dishes. So, I guess that the next best thing to not being able to actually visit them and join in all their fun, is to join in their virtual mingles. Here is wishing you and yours hapiness and celebration in every day of your life, spring or otherwise.

Kabocha Squash with Fresh Fenugreek and Coconut

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A delicate and fresh tasting stir fry made in the Bengali style of cooking, pairing kabocha with fresh fenugreek and coconut.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil (preferably mustard oil)
  • 1 teaspoon panchphoron (Bengali Five Spice)
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cups of cubed kabocha squash (about ¾ pound, half a medium sized squash)
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly powdered cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 11/2 cups of chopped fresh fenugreek
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated coconut

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil for a minute or two and add in the panchphoron. After the spice crackles, add in the onion and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in cubed kabocha squash and mix well. Stir in the red cayenne pepper, cumin and salt and mix well.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and cover and let the squash steam cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the cover, the squash should be fork tender at this point, add in the fenugreek and the greens wilt (this should take about a minute or so). Stir well. Add in the grated coconut and mix well. Cook for another minute and serve.
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Roasted Bengali Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

BRC_BlogI had an entire host of recipes planned for this weekend, truly, seriously, really. Life had other plans, as we ended up without internet over the weekend. Before, I talk about the silver lining, let me tell you that I am not one bit happy about this, and yes Verizon I am talking to you! Not to mention the fact, that we supposedly recently upgraded our service.  Now, that I am done with my ranting, the lack of internet and distractions actually led to an unplugged weekend and we had probably one of the prettiest weekends this year, to enjoy that distance.

Today’s recipe is a super simple one that I make all the time at home, with different variations – Roasted Potato and Cauliflower with Bengali spices. I was nudged to post this earlier this week by one of my facebook friends. While, the term facebook friends sounds trite, every once in a while I do find people that I connect with and share like minded thoughts with, yes, over facebook! I make this all the time, but when asked it did take me a little time to get my act together and actually write up the recipe, measure and test it, making me realize why all my recipes do not make their way into this blog.

BRC1_600

They often remain facebook friends, because of location and a host of other factors we cannot meet in person, but, you end up counting on them to support your book ventures, offering a pick me up on a random day and of course chatting with you on a night you just cannot get yourself to sleep. Because different locations often come with different time zones, right? Onto, the dish on hand it is a simple rendition of the ever popular roasted cauliflower with seasonings that remind you a chorchori or a Bengali Seasoned Medley.

Roasted Bengali Spiced Cauliflower

Now, at the risk of lecturing on an unrelated topic, I often hear of people talking about a typical chorchori, folks there really is no such thing. It is an everyday way of getting an assortment of vegetables and is totally at the discretion of the home cook. So, back to the dish on hand, I strongly encourage you to work with organic potatoes, as you will want to keep the skin on for the potatoes in this dish and they do roast up to lovely delicious crusty goodness and are a perfect foil to the delicate crisp cauliflower. The panchphoron (aka Bengali Five Spice Blend) is added a little later in the game, as I think the spices cook best that way! If you are pressed for time, go ahead and mix them all up, some of the bits might be just a little well done.

Spring Time in the Garden

A variation to this spicing is also to substitute nigella seeds (kalo jire) instead of the panchphoron, and of course, you are welcome to keep playing with all the possibilities that your heart fancies, it is spring after all and the birds and bees and flowers are all out in their glory and it is a time for spontaneity both in and out of the kitchen.

Roasted Bengali Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A Bengali Spiced take of roasted cauliflower that is easy and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into medium sized pieces
  • 3/4 pound of red skinned or other organic potatoes (halved or quartered, depending on the size)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (mustard or EVOO)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Pink, regular or sea salt to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of panchphoron (Bengali Five Spice)
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes or Cayenne to finish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 lime (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, toss the oil, red onion, turmeric, salt and garlic and toss and mix well. Place the vegetable in a large casserole dish (I find this works better than a baking sheet, even though it is spread out in both cases)
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes, scatter with the panchphoron and bake for another 8-10 minutes. The vegetables should be crisp and fork tender.
  4. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes or cayenne and the cilantro. Squeeze in the lime juice if desired and serve hot.
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Sweet Potato and Tapioca Cakes – Sabudana Vada

Tapioca and Sweet Potato CakesI have dealt with so many little things over the past couple of days, I cannot believe that it is Tuesday. The fact that my Monday started with a hangover, did not help my case. LOL! There is a lot of excitement and work building up to the release Spices and Seasons, and I do hope everyone is keeping it in mind for a gift or their next cookbook. Well, the highlight of my weekend was actually making a couple of recipes (two from the book) and a random sweet potato variation of these classic crisp and savory tapioca spiked cakes.

All of these were taken with care for a tea (yes, I know but there was a lot of good wine with the tea, and I got a rather early start). Well, all things considered, this tea thing happened because some of us were unable to cobble together any other time and what was a lot of fun was the fact, the offbeat time allowed us to enjoy a whole bunch of food items that may or may not work some other time of the day.

Sabudana Vada

Amidst all of this, I just heard some news about someone breaking up! It filled me with a sense of melancholy. Somewhere, it russtled back memories of the first time I had made these vadas. I had picked them up from an old cookbook, somewhere and made them from my father. Crisp, crunch filled with the citrusy flavors of curry leaves, nicely spiked with green chilies and fresh cilantro leaves. These were seved with ketchup, over paper towels as my father and I ate them together in the kitchen, chatting and cooking all at once. Today’s recipe modifies the original just a little to make it healthy enough to even be considered a side dish with a meal. I have added some chickpea flour as a binder since sweet potatoes are not quite as starchy as regular potatoes.

Sweet Potato and Tapioca Cakes – Sabudana Vada

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: Makes 15 to 20 potato cakes

A healthier remake of the classic potato and tapioca savory cakes, this one made with sweet potato.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup tapioca seeds or pearls (not instant)
  • 1 large sweet potato (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 medium sized russet potato
  • 1 medium sized red onion, diced
  • 11/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 10 -15 curry leaves, chopped
  • 3 green chilies, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons chickpea flour or besan
  • Canolla oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Soak the tapioca pearls in 1 cup of hot water for at least 1 hour.
  2. In the meantime, quarter the potato and the sweet potato and boil them for about 20 minutes, until soft.
  3. Drain the tapioca and place in a mixing bowl. Cook the sweet potato and potato, peel and place in the same mixing bowl and mash coarsely.
  4. Add in the red onion, ginger, curry leaves, green chilies, salt and the cilantro and mash well until evenly mixed. Mix in the chickpea flour and mix well.
  5. Shape the mixture into 3 inch cakes.
  6. Place the oil in a large skillet to a depth of about 3 inches and heat until a dropped crumb rises to the surface.
  7. Place the cakes in batches (leave enough room to turn without crowding). Cook each side undisturbed for about 3-4 minutes. Carefully remove the cakes, drain on paper towels and serve with chutney or ketchup.
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Simple Green Chickpea Pulao (Pilaf)

Green ChickpeasGreen, verdant, primavera! Spring just crept over the window sill, will mini blossoms and some cool and crisp days, it looks like this year we shall not be complaining about summer. Green chickpeas or garbanzo beans are very typical of spring in India and since it is very clear that we shall not really have our own vegetables for a while I have been picking them up to enjoy. I use them in soups, stews and salads. One of the simplest ways that they are enjoyed on the table are through a pilaf or pulao. Green Chickpeas are the fresh version of the dried beans that we see and they are usually found sold encased in husky green pods.

The freshness of these lovely chickpeas are just like the weather full of potential and promise, in fact, I can hear the birds chirping even as I am writing, telling me that Old Man Winter has overstayed his welcome.

Green Chicpea Pulao

Somewhere between this springy, green garbanzo post, spices and seasons, confusion and me a lot happened! It has been a mixed week with some unresolved partings. One of my pet peeves always is when people do not make a clean break, it does not take much to just pick up a phone or even shoot an email to bring some closure to things. At the risk of stereotyping I have found this more an issue in my forays in the food world. Although, I guess as with everything else, meshing and meandering into a new world has its cues, challenges and learning ropes.

I live vicariously through my brother, who is quite the jet setter, and is here for a day before he gets over to running the Paris Marathon. 

This simple dish provides him homey carbohydrate rich comfort in a box.

Simple Green Chickpea Pulao (Pilaf or Tahiree)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

A springy one dish meal with fresh green garbanzos.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 to 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamom
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced
  • 1 cup basmati rice, washed and drained
  • 1 cup shelled green chickpeas or green peas
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 cups of water

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat and add in the cumin seeds and wait until the seeds begin to sizzle, add in the cloves and stir well. Add in the onion and cook the onions until soft and beginning to turn a nice shade of toffee gold.
  2. Stir in the rice and cook for about 3 minutes, until the grains are well coated with the mixture.
  3. Add in the green chickpeas, turmeric and the salt and the water. Bring to a simmer and cover and cook for 15 minutes. Check to ensure that the water is mostly absorbed. The grains should be still moist.
  4. Let the rice rest for at least 15 minutes, before serving the rice.
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