Tandoori Tofu Tikka – Smokey Tofu with Tandoori Spices

Tandoori Tofu TikkaDespite having cooked tofu in a multitude of ways, I have been hesitant about actually grilling it over open flame. Something about its delicate composition has daunted me just a little. However, this year, I seem to have re-discovered my grill and have been experimenting all kinds of things on it. So, there came tandoori tofu. This needs a little bit of care in basting, and the well-spiced basting seasoning is important, but I promise you the result will be well worth it. I had my meat loving son, opting for this over other choices.

This recipe also uses an extra dose of ginger, something I had created by accident in one of my first cooking classes. I have to confess, I liked the spontaneity of developing those classes and recipes on the fly! I do like doing all these classes in more organized environment, love being able to refer people to my own cookbooks, but I do realize that it does come with a slight compromise in freedom and this is why I love this blog and love the fact, that I can cook everyday in my home kitchen rather than in the more structured confines of a restaurant kitchen. I think it would take too much away from me. I was so surprised to hear the other day, that the student who this dish had been constructed for is now the mother of two lovely young children and often makes this recipe for her omnivorous husband. Recipes and food have a life long beyond the meal.

Happiness, rests in the sheer joy and sharing of food ideas, not so much creating it on a more mass scale. The blog transfer project continues.

It has not really been moving along as quickly as I would like and I am not sure that I like this limbo state, I am not sure I necessary like the idea of change, it is unpredictable and sometimes unsettling! If you are looking to through your hat into the ring for a free copy of Spices and Seasons, head over to, This American Bite.

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Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus and a Cilantro Variation

Roasted Red Bell Pepper HummusThis recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is a Monday post that you will probably see on much later in the week or may be even next. Well, looks like I just made it in the nick of time to all it to pass as this week’s post.

 

 

Between everything, here and there, it takes a couple of days to get posts all ironed out and pressed (to use a wordpress cliché).  I now have a new Spices and Seasons pinterest board out, please do take a look and of course check out other board while you are visiting me. I shall be filling it gradually as the days progress. I do hope you will check out the book and keep it in mind as you plan your summer cookbook shopping.

Hudson Valley Daffodil

Since, it is a Monday post, there will be some introspection and self challenging! Well, come-on don’t you feel a little introspective on Mondays? Actually, it really is about talking to myself to recognize my stress triggers, when there are too many balls up in the air. The balls in the air part of the deal, I have made my peace with, I realize it is part and parcel of this business of super-mom hood. I have however, realized and acknowledged that I deal with these things and periods worse than the next person. I work myself up even further, rather than allowing myself to breadth, the net result is often fewer balls dropped but at the cost of complete havoc on my emotional balance. So, I have told myself drinking more water is the answer to my problems, why more water? Well, for starters I love this group in facebook, secondly it is one thing that had no downsides, water the totally hydrating zero calorie drink, and folks I do stick to free running NY tap water, not bottles for me.

Cilantro Hummus

In the spirit of this no stress eating, today’s recipe is a super-simple no fuss recipe, however, one that brings most people who try it to a very happy place, who knew that hummus would be everywhere from kids parties to more sophisticated dos. It is a simple homemade hummus, with roasted bell peppers and a cilantro chutney variation that is a nicely spiced variety and has notes of the classic Indian mint chutney.

If I am dealing, with too many unknown kids, I skip the cilantro, as I have been advised by the children’s squad, most of our friends do not like to see green.  Well, let me tell you, most of your friends are judgmental! I mean, we can give green a fighting chance, right? Or, I guess we need to save something for those 40 something years, yes, the green smoothie! Now, back to the hummus, here it is up straight, no fuss, with just a couple of variations. The grounding highlight of this week is the dandelion greens all over the yard, they make me happy and while I am at it, creative, too! This recipe is a staple that is much loved by everyone, and is being finally blogged at the request of my friend Marie.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus and a Cilantro Variation

Prep Time: 24 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 24 hours, 30 minutes

A delicate and fresh tasting recipe for hummus with roasted red bell peppers.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized bell pepper seeded and quartered
  • ½ cup of dried chickpeas soaked overnight
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt for cooking
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons (use a good fruity variety, the kind that you would use for dipping and enjoying in its most natural form)
  • 2 pods of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon red cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 lemon, halved and seeded
  • Sumac for dusting

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the bell pepper in a small casserole and drizzle with the tablespoon of oil and roast for 20 minutes.
  2. While this is cooking place the chickpeas in a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water and salt and cook under pressure for 25 to 30 minutes, it is longer than standard cooking as you want the chickpeas to be very soft.
  3. Remove the bell pepper from the oven, drain the chickpeas reserving about ¾ cup of the liquid.
  4. Place the chickpeas and the bell pepper in a blender. Add in the 1/3 cup olive oil, pods of garlic, red cayenne pepper, sea salt and tahini and blend to a paste. Add in up to 1/3 cup of water to get a smooth soft consistency.
  5. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix well. Place in a serving bowl or platter, gently swirl over the remaining olive oil, dust with the sumac and serve.

Notes

The prep time is mostly about soaking the chickpeas overnight.

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Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Cilantro Chutney Hummus

Prep Time: 24 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

A nicely spiced fresh tasting recipe for hummus with loads of fresh cilantro

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized bell pepper seeded and quartered
  • ½ cup of dried chickpeas soaked overnight
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt for cooking
  • 1 cup of cilantro leaves washed and prepped
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon of yogurt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons (use a good fruity variety, the kind that you would use for dipping and enjoying in its most natural form)
  • 2 pods of garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 lemon, halved and seeded
  • Sumac for dusting

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the bell pepper in a small casserole and drizzle with the tablespoon of oil and roast for 20 minutes.
  2. While this is cooking place the chickpeas in a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water and salt and cook under pressure for 25 to 30 minutes, it is longer than standard cooking as you want the chickpeas to be very soft.
  3. Place ¾ of the cilantro leaves, ginger, green chilies, yogurt and blend to a paste. Finely mince the remaining cilantro and set aside.
  4. Remove the bell pepper from the oven, drain the chickpeas reserving about ¾ cup of the liquid.
  5. Place the chickpeas and the bell pepper in a blender. Add in the 1/3 cup olive oil, pods of garlic, red cayenne pepper, sea salt and tahini and blend to a paste. Add in up to 1/3 cup of water to get a smooth soft consistency.
  6. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix well.
  7. Add in the prepared cilantro chutney and pulse a few times and stir
  8. Place in a serving bowl or platter, gently swirl over the remaining olive oil, dust with the sumac and serve.

Notes

The prep time mostly entails soaking the chickpeas overnight.

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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.

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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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Blackbean Soup and a bit of excitement for Bengali Five Spice

Blackbean Soup with Indian SpicesAs I had guessed, the odds were that I would be away from this space while on vacation. I have to confess that it really is a great thing to sometimes shut out all connectivity and spend time with people, talking and savoring the moment. We had a lot of fun, and you will see some glimpses as I sift through my pictures. I came back to a bit of excitement to find out that The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles had won the Best India Cookbook (2013) in the Gourmand Awards. Now, while that does not change the book, it feels good to see some recognition for the book, especially since I stink at promoting the book. Returning to Kennedy on a bleak dull day, I missed the sounds and colors of Indian almost instantly. India is a treat for the senses in almost every possible way, it takes me just an hour in my mother’s kitchen seduces me with the tantalizing fragrance of mustard oil, panch phoron and the visual delights of freshly chopped winter vegetables. The streets echo with vendor sounds, and busines, ambience and commerce all blend together into a happy marriage. The good news is that you get spared the New Year’s recap and resolutions post, since I am trying to cope with these super chilly temperatures and jet lag.  I really wish we could spend all of January in India. At the end of the day, my Bengali blood is just not thick enough for these super cold temperatures. So, yes it really is pretty obvious that I am moving onto to soup, I mean let’s face it, nothing warms and comforts better than a good bowl of soup. This one is a kid tested and approved version of blackbean soup that will nourish you and warm your cockles.

Hopefully, it will also persuade you to check out some more recipes such as this Beef Barley Soup, a collection of ten from Small Bites and of course today’s recipe which as I told you about is soup. Adding some trusted ingredients from my spice closet certainly makes this blackbean soup sing, amazing what some ginger and cumin can do. As you might have guessed by now that I do not really have any new year resolutions, so you might as well tell me about some of them.

 

Blackbean Soup with Indian Spices

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

A thick and satisfying black bean soup with a good hint of spices.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 2 pods garlic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 11/2 cups black beans
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • To Finish and Serve
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Grated Carrots
  • Sour Cream if desired

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil at the base of a pressure cooker and add in the onion and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until soft and turning softly crisp at the corners.
  2. Add in the garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute.
  3. Mix in the cumin and cayenne pepper.
  4. Add in the black beans and the stock and bring to a simmer.
  5. Cook under pressure for 25 minutes, or cook on the stove top for 11/2 hours.
  6. Remove the cover and stir well. The beans should be soft and fairly thick.
  7. Stir in the lime juce.
  8. Garnish with the cilantro and grated carrots and the sour cream if desired. Enjoy hot.
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Stir Fried Brussels Sprouts with Ginger and Curry Leaves

Brussels_blogI have a feeling, if you like Indian flavors and are not very sure about Brussels Sprouts, this might be the recipe for you. My friend Susan Thaler, can never tell me enough times how much she likes this simple dish. Honestly, I have never quite understood the fuss about Brussels, and why people give them such a bad reputaion. But then again, I also love broccoli (another controversial vegetable), the tender young variety. I guess, I can say the same about these sprouts, it is important to find them young and tender. There is something disappointing that happens to veggies that happen when they stay around and loose their natural crisp and crunchy freshness.

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So, I had started this recipe and a bunch of others with the hope that I would get them to you in time for Thanksgiving, but life as they say is always unpredictable. We had loads of rain last week, looks like the storm had a name as well. BOREAS, took with it our telephone and internet service for the weekend, leaving me with more time to cook and chat with friends but no real means to share my adventures with all of you, dear readers.

Hopefully, I will cull out the best of the dishes that we enjoyed and will have them up and going to enjoy through the rest of the season and ready for you should you wish to try them for next year. This particular recipe is inspired by my mother-in-law’s recipe for cabbage and what after all is a Brussels Sprout, if not a mini cabbage.

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Stir Fried Brussels Sprouts with Ginger and Curry Leaves

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

A simple Indian transformation for the wintery Brussels Sprouts, that will brings color and spark to your table.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound young brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced or freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 11/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Remove the tops of the Brussels sprouts, cut them into half and then into fine slices. Set them aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan on medium high heat for about a minute.
  3. Add in the ginger and the black mustard seeds and wait until the mustard seeds crackle.
  4. Add in the curry leaves or thyme and add in the Brussels sprouts and mix well.
  5. Add in the salt and the onion and tomato and mix well and cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in the cayenne pepper and the turmeric and stir well.
  7. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro and serve immediately
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Linguine with Greens, Chickpeas and Almonds

Linguine with Chickpeas, Almonds and GreensI love a simple bowl of pasta! In fact, if I had my wish, I would live on pasta!

Other than the fact, my husband does not necessarily share my love for this wonderful carb rich and comforting creation, (in fact, he has actually condescended to have it as a regular staple in the house after the kids), I unfortunately do not think my ever expanding waistline can stand it.

My best kind of pasta dishes are those that are inspired by something simple tossed together, tomatoes and basil in a spicy rustic sauce in summer, garlic and bitter greens in fall and may chicken and squash in winter… Now, I usually add a nice dose of crushed pepper, usually while I am heating the olive oil this keeps my Indian palate happy!

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Pasta for me is also a good base for legumes, they often make the essential protein that completes the dish. I often have chickpeas or white beans hanging around. They are so handy to add to anything, nutritious and comforting just perfect for this cool fall that we have been having. This week is probably meant to test my patience… I am working late for quite a few days this week, and the cold and windy weather is not helping!

I am happy that I have been walking to work most of these days, rather than wimping out, however, I have all but given up on the morning walk to the station.

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In an interesting turn of affairs, my daughter has suddenly seemed to develop a social life of her own. So, this week she has scheduled two play dates and the Friday date has happily declared she loves chicken curry! So, part of me is really thrilled about this, this whole thing about others getting excited about Indian food makes my kids very happy. It sends them on a general Indian exploration spree, as I always say food and culture are so interrelated. So, at least that helps me get somewhat motivated about cooking a meal for the ten-year olds after a long day of work.

Of course, if mom is reading this blog, she will be shaking her head going, looking how smart these foreigners are getting! Yes, she call anyone anywhere who is not of Indian origin a foreigner. They have realized the value of eating and enjoying a good chicken curry while you have been feeding your family pasta. So, back to the pasta, today’s edition was all about chickpeas, almonds and bitter greens (kale and rapini from the garden).

 

Linguine with Greens, Chickpeas and Almonds

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

A weeknight pasta dish that is healthy, hearty with some lively crunch from almonds.

Ingredients

  • 41/2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 4 pods of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 11/2 cups of chopped mixed greens (I used chopped rapini/broccoli rabe)
  • ¾ cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 8 oz dried linguine (cooked per the directions on the package) I start this while I work on the rest of the stuff.
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ¾ cup of coarsely chopped almonds (I chopped them with the skin on)

Instructions

  1. Heat the about 4 tablespoons of oil in a large pan and add in the garlic and gently cook the garlic for about a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant and turns into a dark shade of toffee. Watch this as garlic moves from delicious to burnt within seconds.
  2. Add in the cumin and the red pepper flakes and stir well.
  3. Add in the greens and cook until they wilt.
  4. Stir in the chickpeas and the cooked pasta and mix well.
  5. In a separate pan, heat the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil and add the almonds and stir lightly for a couple of minutes to allow them to gently toast.
  6. Mix in the almonds and serve with the pasta.
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Green Tomato and Peanut Chutney

This time of the year, brings with it that frosty night when we know the garden has to be wound down least the tomatoes and peppers. I end up with loads of peppers, usually in our case a combination of spicy ones and the colorful fragrant bells, a few eggplants and loads of green tomatoes.

Green Tomato and Peanut Chutney

 

My husband would have liked a few more weeks of the season, at least up to Thanksgiving. I am happy that this year feels more normal than the previous two years, where we ended our garden with storms like Irene or Sandy.

I have learnt however that nature has its own pace and cannot be questioned, I accept its ways and go with the flow in life and of course in the kitchen. As we braced a week with super cold temperatures, the house was filled with loads of comfort food. The children are now into Indian style breakfasts and brunches, it is all about dosas, poha, upma and such.

Green Tomatoes

I am so delighted about their interest in anything Indian especially in the food arena, I am more than willing to bend over backwards to oblige. One of the key ingredients that make a good Southern style Indian tiffin complete is a chutney, usually a savory one. Now, this is where I use some of my green tomatoes this time of the year, as I say, there is more to a green tomato’s life than being breaded and deep fried. Not that they do not taste great that way! Now, back to the chutney on hand, this is cooked and seasoned much like a South Indian chutney, and tastes pretty good. I add a touch of tamarind and some fennel as an unusual note of flavor.

As I wrote this up, I realized that peanuts were a legume and so I could actually send this over to MLLA (my legume love affair) #65, which is hosted at Oh taste and see, an event that is originally the brainchild of Susan and now being housed at Lisa’s kitchen.

Ingredients

In what is beginning to look like an insanely busy week from hell, breakfasts and weekends like this one are important for preserving and keeping my sanity. Well, the good news is after the crazy busy week, we have Thanksgiving which is my favoritest holiday!

 

Green Tomato and Peanut Chutney

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

A savory chutney made with South Indian seasoning with seasonal green tomatoes and peanuts.

Ingredients

  • 2 green medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste or juice of a lime
  • For the tempering
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • a pinch of asafetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon while lentils (urad dal)
  • 1 to 2 dried red chilies
  • a few curry leaves

Instructions

  1. 1. Place the tomatoes, peanuts, cilantro, ginger, green chilies, salt, fennel seeds, tamarind or lime juice with 2 tablespoons of water in a blender.
  2. 2. Pulse a few times to coarsely mix the ingredients and then process into a smooth puree.
  3. 3. Place in a bowl.
  4. 4. In a small container heat the oil and add in the asafetida, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, white lentils and cook until the mustard begins crackling.
  5. 5. Add in the dried red chilies, stir well and add the curry leaves and turn off the flame.
  6. 6. Pour the seasoned oil over the chutney and stir lightly. Cover and let the flavors settle for at least 15 minutes before serving.
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Cranberry and Apricot Chutney

ChutneyThe weather outside is frightful! Gosh, once the mercury dips, I am ready to turn into a pumpkin, well in many senses of the word. Given how much of snacking I have been indulging in, I think I am perfecting the pumpkin look! Even as I write this, I am sitting under a couple of cozy comforters.

Snacks and fritters in the Indian kitchen have to have their share of dips and relishes, that which we collectively call chutney. Every year, I have to sneak in a couple of Bengali style chutneys. The Bengali chutney is really what inspired the British to adapt ruin to the modern day mango chutneys. As everyone knows, my quest is to find local solutions to childhood flavors, and the cranberry is definitely a winner in the chutney department. I have a variation of this recipe in my cookbook, and this one was different enough for me to document for posterity.

I had meant to do this earlier in the week, but was interrupted with the various activities that are collectively called life. This autumn has been an exceptionally cold and beautiful one. I was lucky to wander and capture a few beautiful moments while waiting for Deepta at her scouts meeting.

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Life with its pace does not afford me a lot of time for repose, however, I am grateful that I am able to cull through the simple moments of life to find color and beauty.

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We are often caught up in the chase, without realizing how lucky we are. It is indeed a privilege and gift to enjoy so much beauty in the daily meanderings of life. This recipe, works well on a typical Bengali table, works as a condiment, will work on your Thanksgiving table and in moderation will work well in a seasonal grilled cheese sandwich.

Cranberry and Apricot Chutney

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Makes 11/2 cups

A simple colorful and lightly spiced cranberry and apricot chutney.

Ingredients

  • 11/2 tablespoons of oil (preferably mustard)
  • 11/2 tablespoon very finely diced or grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1 cup of cranberries
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 11/2 cups of water
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 11/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of slivered apricots

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat the oil and add in the ginger and saute lightly for a minutes.
  2. 2. Add in the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Add in the nigella seeds.
  3. 3. Add in the cranberries and the bay leaves and the water and sugar and the red pepper flakes.
  4. 4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until the cranberries pop and soften, you will actually hear the cranberries pop! My kids have a lot of fun with this.
  5. 5. Stir in the apricots and cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. 6. Cool and serve. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
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Creamy Tofu and Red Grape Kebabs

It certainly is the season for comfort foods. It is also the season for a lot of action on the calendar, in addition to the usual try adding some Indian festivals to the mix. It is for times like this my tofu and red grape kebabs come in handy.

MT blogThese kebabs are surprisingly simple and works well either as an appetizer or a main meal. Leftovers can be tossed up with tomatoes, cilantro and onions to make a quick and fragrant stir-fry. With my kids it’s all about the bamboo skewers. Despite their creamy texture and appearance, these kebabs are vegan and gluten-free to boot.  The secret ingredients in this marinade are maple syrup and tahini. The base made with wonderful thick sesame paste offers a deep rich texture for spices and clings well to the tofu. These kebabs with their gentle golden colors melded with the delicate red sweetness of the roasted grapes brings a recipe that is perfect for these cool and sunny fall days that we have been having. The golden yellows, deep oranges and bright reds all make me think of the holidays.

The real reason why this recipe works on a weekend is because of how flexible it is. It marinates by itself and gets done in less than 15 to 20 minutes. It works either in the oven or on a cast iron pan and of course works fine on a grill, but looks like our grilling days are over for the season.  The kids are always disappointed if they do not have essential comforting food on weekends. They usually like to sit down and chat over food, with each other and with us.  It is very inspiring for me to realize how much they have come to appreciate the comfort of eating, the act of sharing, caring and breaking bread together.

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The challenge for me to recreate this in a world that is on the go, in between rituals of dance, homework and other activities and not to mention hustling and trying to sell books, LOL one can never forget that!  Earlier this week I was invited by the Canadian maple folks to join their contest, you think someone might have told them of my maple syrup obsession affection.

Maple and Red Grape Tofu

Creamy Tofu and Red Grape Kebabs

Prep Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

A creamy sweet and savory creation with tofu, maple syrup, red grapes and comforting seasonings.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup tahini
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon powdered coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (powdered)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 limes
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons pure dark maple syrup
  • 10 – 12 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
  • 25 to 30 red grapes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • Chopped Chives to garnish

Instructions

  1. Place the tahini in a blender. Add in the coriander seeds, ginger, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, grated nutmeg and the fenugreek leaves (if using). If you find it difficult to get the fenugreek leaves you can leave them out, otherwise the maple like fragrance of fenugreek leaves will actually complement the deep notes of the maple syrup.
  2. Add in the salt, squeeze in the lime juice and add in the maple syrup. Blend this to a smooth marinade.
  3. Cube the tofu and add to the tahini maple marinade and set aside for 2 hours. This mixture can be left overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Mix the thyme with the remaining two tablespoons of the maple syrup.
  5. Lightly toss the grapes in this mixture.
  6. To assemble, skewer the tofu and the red grapes alternately.
  7. Either pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and drizzle a baking dish with the olive oil.
  8. Place the skewers in a single layers and bake for 10 minutes and turn and add the onions and bake for another 6 to 7 minutes and finish by broiling on low for a couple of minutes.
  9. Alternately heat a cast iron skillet and drizzle with oil place the skewers in a single layer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, letting the cubes turn gently golden. They need to be turned 4 times and halfway into the process you can add the onions in a corner to allow them to cook a little.
  10. Arrange the skewers on a plate and serve them garnished with chopped chives.

Notes

The prep time includes 2 hours for marinating.

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Simple Sauteed Broccoli Raab with Red Chili Flakes

Simple Sauteed Broccoli Raab The evening light fades significantly earlier, leaving me practically no time to document the activities of a fading garden.  Yes, it is the time of the year, when the garden is singing its final notes, a weak chorus of greens – mustard, spinach and dandelion to name a few. We have lots of peppers bell and hot varieties and some bits and pieces of eggplants and even got a spontaneous batch of okra. A few loose tomatoes keep the sauces flowing.

It is that time of the year when the cat seems to want to stay indoors rather than run around chasing mice and other neighborhood creatures.

The following couple of weeks see the face of a few important projects at work and at home. So, at home, I am tackling a serious bit of organizing the pantry.

If the MIL heard, she would heave a sigh of relief. Her closets and pantry is always impeccable. Some of it reflects her rather neat and fastidious housekeeping and some of it does reflect the just in time ways of shopping in India.

We do have enough stores around for everyday, but I like to make a quarterly trip to Patel Brothers to stock up on big items. I am realizing that all of this however, does need a better inventory control system.

Broccoli Raab

Speaking of greens, one of my all time favorite bitter greens is Broccoli Raab. We have just begun harvesting them this year. A cool and bitter green, they remind me of fresh fenugreek. Broccoli Raab or rapini does not have the bitter sweet maple like scent of fenugreek but works well in a lot of recipes as a substitute. Freshly harvested, I cooked them very simply and we enjoyed them straight from the pan.

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Even as I look out of my window, I see leaves, colors and something a lot like Halloween.  I realize that we should have celebrated Halloween this family dinner, and in case you are wondering what family dinner is, stay tuned and someday I shall tell you all about it.

Simple Sauteed Broccoli Raab with Red Chili Flakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 3 servings

A lovely rendition of broccoli rabe with golden onions, a hint of spice and sweetness and some coconut milk to round it off.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 3 pods of garlic, minced
  • 3 medium sized cipollini onions, finely chopped or 1 medium sized red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped broccoli rabe/rapini finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 11/2 tablespoons coconut milk (optional)
  • Lots of crushed red pepper flakes to finish

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about a minute.
  2. Add the black mustard seeds and wait for the seeds to crackle.
  3. Add in the minced garlic and cook for a minute until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
  4. Add in the onion and cook for 6 to 7 minutes until the onion is beginning to turn golden brown.
  5. Add in the rapini an mix well.
  6. Add in the sugar, salt and the coconut milk if using and cook for a minute or two.
  7. Add in plenty of crushed red pepper flakes and serve immediately.
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