Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What colour does your Coffee Lid boast today?

The daily dose of caffeine that lies on everyone's desk unnoticed has now been revolutionized!! I recently read an article in a business magazine which was titled "Coffee gets a colour correction" and it spoke about a new innovation from a Sydney-based company called Smart Lid Systems. It has come out with a new genre of coffee lids which act as "mood rings" for your caffeine. It changes colour with the temperature of your beverage, boasting a bright Red when its too hot to handle, and a calm deep and rich Mocha Brown when its just perfect!! It also shows a mottled red when the lid is not properly secured to the cup.... Wow, can you believe that???!!!

Apparently, its not just "chick and cool", but an efficient safety measure too, and priced at just 5c a piece, the coffee-lovers are creating a huge demand for these not just in Australia, but in US and UK markets too. And these are not the only gadget-gizmos honouring this beverage. There are gifts like "Auto-Stirrer Coffe mugs" and temperature-sensing mugs too which maintain the heat or coolness of your drink as long as you like it. Its like an electronic butler, who would ask for anything else???


Well, as I get back to enjoy my cup of caffeine for the day, you can comment about this post and tell me what you think. Also, if you have a new idea related to food or an interesting venture, email me and I'll be glad to post an article for you. After all, a great idea can be born from a "burning" need, right??

Monday, July 30, 2007

Batata(Potato) Vada

Though high in calories, fried food is no doubt the best-tasting snack ever, and the recipe I describe below is our favourite one. Batata Vada is considered to be staple food for people in Bombay(Mumbai) and you are sure to see vendors selling them in trains, buses or roads. An ideal snack for people-on-the-go, it tastes as good as it looks appetizing. Anything to do with potatoes can seldom go wrong, and this by far is a winning concoction!! try it and let me know how you like it.

Ingredients:
Potatoes-3 large ones
Besan (gram flour) about 1 cup (for batter)
Onions 1/4 cup-chopped
1/2 clove
Spices: Asafoetida(hing) a pinch, Turmeric a pinch, Ginger-garlic paste 1 tspn, lemon juice to taste, garam masala powder 1 tspn, dhana-jeeru powder 1.5 tsp, sugar(optional) 1 tsp, Green chillies 2, Red chilli powder 1/2 tspn, Mustard seeds 1/4th tspn, Jeera (cumin) seeds 1/4th tspn, Coriander leaves, Curry leaves 4-5
Oil for frying
Salt to taste

Method:
Boil the potatoes, peel them and mash with hand. Add salt, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, dhana-jeeru powder, ginger-garlic paste, sugar, and lemon juice and mix well.

Heat some oil and add mustard and cumin seeds. When they start spluttering, add asafoetida, green chillies and curry leaves. Then add the chopped onions and cook till golden. Now add the mashed potatoes, finely chopped coriander leaves and mix well. Remove from flame and set aside.

In a bowl mix besan, chilli powder, a little salt, and a pinch of asfoetida with sufficient water to make a thick paste that can coat the potato mixture. Heat oil in a kadai. Take a ball of potato mixture, dip it in the besan paste so that there is a thick layer of besan paste on potato ball and deep fry in oil. Fry till it gets a slight brown color.

Serve the Batata Vadas with hot with green chutney and date-tamarind chutney or simply with ketchup!

Celebrating something that stinks!!!- Gilroy Garlic Festival

Few herbs or plants would share the glory that is bestowed upon this king of spices which stinks!! Yup, I'm speaking about none other than our dear friend "Garlic", and how it deserves a 3-day long celebration at Gilroy CA, the largest producer of quality garlic in California.

For anyone who's not heard about the Garlic Festival at Gilroy, its held on the last full weekend in July every year by a non-profit organization to support charity work in the town of Gilroy. You'll find more than 2-3 tonns of fresh garlic in that area that day, making it a garlic-lover's dream destination. The festival boasts of 3 stages of musical entertainment, various arts and crafts booths, a nic children's are, interactive displays about the herb, some fine wine-tasting booths, and rows and rows of booths brandishing garlic food entrees ranging from appetisers to main course to desserts!!! yes, you heard it right, the Vanilla Garlic icecream is sure to cath your attention, as it did mine....They also have a Garlic Cook-Off Contest featuring authentic and out-of-this-world garlic recipes. But what surprised me the most was the Miss Gilroy Garlic contest, and fortunately, it wasn't based on who smelt the most like garlic:), but is judged like any other pageant.

This might not be a place for vegetarians who cannot taste most of the dishes, or for people who cannot stand the strong smell of garlic for more than a few minutes. But most people have commented on this with words like "Fragrant and Intoxicating"

http://www.gilroygarlicfestival.com/index.html

So give it a try and plan to visit it next year if you missed this one, and for people who've already been there, please comment on this post to let others know your reviews about this Gilroy Event.

Eating Local, Buying Local

farmers and produce
Not long ago I was in North Carolina visiting a beautiful garden at the Biltmore estate. I asked the gardener if it was organic and he got very agitated. "Let me get on my soap box" he said. He then proceeded to explain that most pesticides in the US were organic and that just because something is organic doesn't mean it is free of pesticides and that some organic pesticides are not very effective. He said that sometimes he would have to use an organic pesticide 6 or 7 times instead of using a non-organic pesticide once. The gardener then told me about an integrated insect approach that he used, attracting beneficial insects to do the work to help keep his garden as healthy as possible. But when he must resort to pesticides he chooses whatever he thinks is best, organic or not. Is organic always best? Clearly, it's not that simple.

Because a few years back I was critical of a campaign to "eat only local food", I left some people under the impression that I disagree with the principles of eating local. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, some of the reasons I felt it wasn't sustainable then are now changing. Here are the main reasons why I like "eating local" and why I have subscribed to a local CSA for over 5 years.
* Local food is likely to be fresher and fresher food generally tastes better and is healthier
* Buying local helps support local farmers and producers

But as with eating organic, it's not that simple. Here are the reasons I doubt I will ever limit myself to eating ONLY local food.
* Many products I love (such as mangoes!) can't be grown in my region
* The quality of local products is not always acceptable to me
* Some local products are just too expensive for my budget
* There are too many non-local ingredients that increase the diversity in my diet such as spices, imported cheeses, grains, wines, etc.
* Buying local doesn't necessarily mean saving resources--a recent story in the Boston Globe called The Localvore's Dilemma explored the issue of energy costs associated with local produce and found sometimes more energy is used than when food is imported.

A few weeks ago I did a taste test with Sonoma lamb versus New Zealand lamb and not only was the New Zealand lamb cheaper, but it tasted better to me. As far as I'm concerned, taste trumps everything. I hope one day the local lamb will be tastier not to mention cheaper than the imported lamb. But until then, I'm sticking with whatever tastes best to me and fits my budget. Diversity in my diet is too important to me to forgo eating foods that aren't produced locally. But will I seek out local fruits, vegetables, meat? Yes. I will and I do!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Avocado - Good or Bad???

Eating a Veggie Delight at Subway is part of my staple diet, and most of the times I get tempted to add some avocado onto it, but I hold myself back thinking its a very high-calorie food....Anyways, I've heard so many positives and negatives about this interesting fruit that its hard to catgorise it as Good or Bad. I set out to explore that thin grey line and this is what I found. Though high in calories, avocado has a lot of health benefits to offer. Plus, it is way more healthier than the mayonnaise or ranch that you put on your sandwiches or use as salad dressings. So ake a quick look at the good and bad facts of an avocado.

One medium-sized avocado contains a little more than 300 calories, most of them coming from Fats (77% Fat, 19% Carbs, 4% Proteins) This definitely sets you to say NO to frequent helpings, but there's more to this fruit than what meets the eye. Here's a detailed pros-cons list to help you decide better.

The Goods:

Low in Cholesterol
Low in Sodium
High in Vitamins C, E and K
High in dietery Fiber and Folates
Most of the fat is mono or poly-saturated improving ration of good vs bad HDL
Good source of potassium, phosphorous
Acts as an anti-oxidant
Great taste and texture

The Bads:

High caloric value
High in saturated fats omega-3 and omega-6

I have to thank a lot of people and their inputs in compiling this list, but its a good estimate of the general consensus for this fruit. So it looks like the Good outweighs the Bad by far, yet there was a time when the Bad, which are major points for people who aim to remain fit and agile, prevented a lot of individuals from picking up this pear-shaped fruit from the rack. But majority of nutritionists agree that "Avocados add great variety to a well balanced, low-fat diet, but you have to eat them in moderation." Overall, avocado is considered a complete food, with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, calories and fiber with no cholesterol and no sodium.

Its a recommended substitute for the mayonnaise that goes on my subway, so I'm all for spreading a quarter of an avocado (about 55 cal) on my sub 2 days a week. That sounds like a balanced intake, right? What do you have to say???

A Super Market


What did you do during Summer vacation? I went to a supermarket. Actually, I seek out all kinds of markets every time I travel. I try to visit farmers markets, covered indoor markets, tailgate markets, you name it. I like seeing what's on offer, what people are buying and I usually find some great souvenirs. In France I bought rhubarb and prune jam, in Mexico dulce de leche, in Vietnam lotus-scented and flowering teas, in Spain bitter orange marmalade, in Asheville sourwood honey.

The last supermarket I visited was nothing like any supermarket I'd ever seen before. While I didn't actually purchase anything, I did check out every department. What sets this supermarket apart from the rest was that it's an interesting reflection of where many supermarkets might just be heading.

So what does the supermarket of the future look like? It looks a lot more like a high-end specialty market. It features many distinctive departments such as a bakery that continually bakes fresh breads, a wood-fired pizza oven, 300 cheeses, a wine section with over 2,000 wines and a tasting bar with noted guest winemakers stopping by such as Mike Grgich and Suzanne Groth, a gelato bar, sushi made to order, coffee blended and roasted to order, a nut bar with fresh roasted nuts, a Callebaut chocolate dipping bar, Riedel glassware, Williams-Sonoma cookbooks, a beautiful fresh seafood display and a particular emphasis on local products. Store executives explained that in every region there are some specific local products that shoppers seek. At the Livermore store there was an impressive section of Livermore wines, olives and olive oils, not found in any other supermarket. There was local honey too. Not your typical supermarket experience! But maybe someday it will be.

For more about local produce showing up at traditional supermarkets, check out this podcast on NPR

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chaat Paradise - Indian Chaat place ( Bay Area, CA)

Anyone who's spent even one day in India knows what "chaat" means....The first drops of rain would send people flocking to the chaat places, and now the craze has reached such a crescendo that be it any season or any time of the day, chaat-mania never dies!!! The mouth-watering taste of the "chutneys" (tamarind and green chilly sauces) and the mind-boggling smell of the entire concoction is sure to leave its mark on anyone, not just an indian!!

So here's an ode to one such eating joint called Chaat Paradise, located in a small corner of a huge complex in mountainview. The restaurant is hardly noticeable from outside, yet it draws huge crowds during lunch and weekends simply based on the word-of-mouth of its delighted and satisfied patrons like me. Its menu is pretty extensive with a large variety of appetizers and chaat dishes, and you'd be happy to pick out any one of them from the list. but my favourites are the "Hara-Bhara Sprout Bhel" and the "Chaat Baskets" The paneer pakodas are a great finger food, and the parathas (wheat bread filled with different veg stuffing) are out of this world. The Aloo parathas, Hara-bhara paratha, Mooli paratha are highly recommended, along with malai Kofta and Paneer masala. For a first-timer, you can try the "chaat thali", which will act as a sampler of all the delicacies. Both me and my husband are food enthusiasts and critics, and this place is by far the best chaat place in the Bay area what all items on its menu.

The only drawbacks could be the small place, rendering long wait times on weekends, and the location. It's not a high-end restaurant by any means, yet if what you are looking for is an authentic taste of indian chaat delicacies at affordable prices, this place is bound to find a place in your favourites' list. The owners could definitely try to be a bit more sophisticated and hire better waiting staff. I might not visit this place so often if the food quality deteriorated even a bit! But as for now, its our favorite chaat place in bay area, so check out the menu at Chaat Paradise below. I am sure you'll find yourself going there again and again!

Address
165 E El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 965-1111
Chat Paradise

Chaat Paradise in Mountain View

Shiva's Indian Restaurant - Mountainview CA

As the weekend approaches, let me share with you the name of an Indian restaurant that's my family's favourite!! Its called Shiva's Indian Restaurant, located in the heart of Mountainview downtown in California. It features a varied range of Indian delicacies from every region of the country, and will be a treat for Indians and non-Indians alike! Its not the just the food that draws you here, though food is defnitely a major attraction, but in an area flooded with a lot of inviting foo-joints, Shiva's stands out for their ambiance, food, location and customer-service!
The first thing that catches your eye as you get out of your car is the entrance to this grand mountainview restaurant, especially if you've come here for dinner. As a courteous lady pleasantly asks you to wait as they prepare a table for you, the colourful and psychedelic lights creating an intricate pattern on the entrance floor are sure to keep you engrossed. And when you enter inside, its like "apparating" into an ethnic part of the country. The earthy and bright colours on the wall are accentuated by the matching glow lighting, and the arts and crafts on the walls, alongwith the carved wooden windows famous as "jharokhas" in India create a serene and peaceful atmosphere that is sure to lift your spirits.

And now about the food! The menu, filled with veg and non-veg entrees, is a delight on its own, with a large choice of appetisers, curries, breads, rice, drinks and desserts. Other than the hot favourites like "Malai Kofta" and "Paneer Tikka", you will also find some interesting entrees like "Bharwaan Shimla Mirch", "Dum Pukht Aloo" and "Hariyali Kababs". Their Tandoori Paneer is out of this world, the best I've eaten in the bay area, and their Naans are really soft, fluffy and well-cooked. The non-vegetarians also have a vast range of choices, again not mainly found in other Indian restaurants. They also boast a full-serviced bar with an extensive wine list and exotic cocktails to make that date an extra special one!! They also have a banquet hall for family caterings.

This indian restaurant is a sure hit due to its wonderful location, excellent choice of food and matching service. It is kid-friendly, and though is a bit upscale, it is highly affordable and you would be sure to leave feeling happy and satiated. I urge you to check it out on your own, and please come back here to share your experience with us!

Address
800 California St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 960-3802
Shiva's Indian Restaurant

Shiva's Indian Restaurant and Bar in Mountain View

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

One Local Summer Vegetable Salad: Recipe

Grilled Vegetable Salad
Today is National Salad Day. Would I make that up? Actually I got several emails reminding me about it. I was going to post a vegetable salad when I realized, it was also an all local dish which fits nicely with the One Local Summer event where participants make one meal a week with local ingredients. It's an early version of a recipe I made for my recipe development client. The vegetables--zucchini, corn, peppers and eggplant all came from Capay Organic, the lemon from Los Gatos and the olive oil from Napa. Voila! One local Summer Vegetable Salad. I served it with Sonoma lamb chops.

While the idea is to eat at least one local meal a week, I actually had another meal that was primarily local this week. Ok, the rice and spices weren't but the Spicy Eggplant and Tomatoes dish had Capay Organic eggplant and Greenbrae backyard-grown tomatoes. Delicious stuff and so fresh tasting. I got the recipe from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, a terrific book written by local food writer and cooking instructor Ruta Kahate. Last week I posted an interview with Ruta over at Bay Area Bites. This week you can read my review of her book and see a recipe for a scrumptious beef curry.

The recipe for my One Local Summer Vegetable Salad is as easy as it is versatile. Serve it as a salad or a side dish. I could see adding some crumbled cheese to it and calling it a main dish, and any of the vegetables could be swapped out for something you prefer--tomatoes, patty pan squash, red onions, whatever you like. Change up the dressing too if you prefer something different.

Grilled Vegetable Salad
serves 4

2 Japanese eggplants
2 ears of corn
2 zucchini
2 bell peppers
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Dressing
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Cut and core the bell peppers into 1 - 2 inch pieces. Cut the zucchini and eggplants lengthwise into three strips then cut each strip into 1 -2 inch chunks. Toss the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill for 8 minutes over a charcoal grill or in a cast iron grill pan, turning once. Cook the corn on the grill for 20 minutes (husks will burn) then husk and slice kernels off the cob (or husk the cobs, wrap in foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes) Toss all vegetables with the dressing and warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

READ MORE
Over at Bay Area Bites is my review of Ruta Kahate's book 5 Spices, 50 Dishes


Monday, July 23, 2007

Around the east coast in 7 days!!

I have been harbouring a dream to take a trip to the east coast for some years now, and we finally managed to realize it 2 weeks ago. We went with our whole family, and as we had our parents with us, we didn't get a chance to roam around Manhattan on foot, but neverthless, we enjoyed the trip a lot....Here's a short summary to help you reminisce about your trip or help you plan a new one. Its a part of the world you wouldn't want to miss visiting!!

We took a flight to Washington DC straight from SFO and landed on the capital right on the eve of Independence Day....we roamed around that evening, exploring vegetarian food options on foot and taking in the feel of the city at night. The next morning we had a nice breakfast at marriott and set on for our Metro ride to the Smithsonian centre, where all the fun & excitement awaited us....we saw some famous museums, and I have to cite the Natural Art and History museum, the Air & Space museum, and the Smithsonian Castle to be must-see's, and then we trodded down the enchanted city, taking in the well-planned architecture, the nice gardens, the White House, the endless memorials and monuments and the throng of people who had flocked into the city to witness the highly-talked-about Fireworks at Night, and believe me, they were truly spectacular !!




Our next stop, where we headed by car, was New Jersey, where we stayed with our friends and took daily trips to the New York City. We took the CitySights bus tours which are hop-on-hop-off guided tours that take you around the 4 loops of the city, and besides the Empire State and other wonderful buildings, the Central Park and the manhattan Downtown at night deserve a worthy mention.....The city glittered at 12 am truly proving itself to be the "City that Never Sleeps!!" The view of the Brooklyn Bridge from south seaport at twilight was amazing, reminding me of Bombay's queen's necklace road, and so was the lovely Lady Liberty holding the distinguished torch of freedom....Little Italy, Chinatown and Greenwich Village are truly a gourmet's paradise!!




Edison, a town in New Jersey has great culinary choices that appeal to an Indian's palette very well, and we relished the vast variety of indian delicacies in 3 days' time. We then flew out to Buffalo Int'l airport where we had a brief rest, then drove to the coveted natural miracle of the world, the Niagara Falls....This, by far, was the best part of our trip, as we saw the water from the 5 lakes create an enigmatic view across the border of USA and Canada. But the absolutely perfect culmination to our trip was the colourful view of the Falls at night, as they were brilliantly lit by lights focussed from the canadian side...the water sparkled and glittered with ever-changing rainbow colours as we speechlessly took in the sights and sounds of this eternal wonder.



With this we came to an end of our journey as we flew back into SFO....but its always great to be home, and being away from it makes you appreciate it even more!!! Hope you'll enjoyed this journey through my words and pics, just as I enjoyed reliving every moment of it.....

Gujarati Dal and Kadhhi

I have a friend who comes from the southern part of India, and the first thing he ever asks me to cook when we meet is the Gujarati-style Kadhhi....yeah, for people who know it and have relished it tons of times, it would sound like a joke, for its probably the easiest things to make!! However, these happen to be favorite gujarati recipes for a lot of people, and not just gujaratis! I'd like to dedicate this post to my friend who savours this simple recipe the most, and also the Gujarati dal, which perhaps requires a little more skill...

Kadhhi

Ingredients: 3 cups buttermilk, 1 cup chickpea flour (besan), 2 tbsp ghee, 1 tsp each of cumin, mustar and methi (fenugreek) seeds, 5-6 curry leaves, 2 green chillies, sugar or jaggery to taste, water

Method
Take 3 cups sour buttermilk and add one cup chickpea flour (besan) to this while you keep stirring continuously to avoid making any lumps. When the buttermilk and flour have blended well, heat a saucepan, add 2 tbsp ghee, some jeera seeds, methi seeds, 2 green chillies cut into small pieces and 5-6 curry leaves (limdo). When the seeds splutter, add the buttermilk mixture to it. Then add some jaggery or sugar, salt to taste, and some lemon juice if needed. Add some water if you need to make it thinner in consistency. Let the mixture boil on low flame. Keep stirring occasionally and cook uncovered for 8-10 mins. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with Jeera Rice or Khichdi!!

Gujarati Tuver Dal

Ingredients: 3 cups Tuver Dal, 10-12 raw peanuts, 1 tsp each of mustar, cumin and methi seeds, 5-6 curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetids, salt, sugar/jaggery, red chilli powder, dhana-jeeru powder (dry coriander and cumin powder), lemon juice to taste, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 chopped tomato, chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Method
Take 3 cups tuver dal and pressure cook it (covered upto 5 whistles) with a little extra water to make it soft. Add the peanuts to the dal while cooking. Now take a saucepan, add some mustard and jeera seeds, a pinch asafoetida and when seeds splutter, add the cooked dal in the pan. Add water to reach desired consistency; you can mash the dal partially to create a thick dal. Then add salt, turmeric powder, red chilly powder, dhana-jeeru powder, sugar or jaggery, lemon juice(to taste), half chopped tomato, 5-6 curry leaves, and bring the mixture to a boil. Then lower the flame and let it cook for 2-3 mins. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with Rice!!!

Tip of the day: If you manage to find "Dry Kokam" in an indian grocery store, use that instead of lemon juice to introduce tremendous flavour to your dal or kadhhi.

Veg Grilled Pesto Burgers

Hey folks, me and my husband both love italian food. It's a great cuisine with simple spices, delicate flavours, and an amazing use of herbs. So, inspired by our indian tradition and lovely italian spices, we tried to create something new at this awesome barbecue event we had at a friend's place. None of us are pros, and most of us were new to this unique experience of cooking and eating grilled food... we were all so excited, and let me tell you, the end product was also no less!! The indian-italian fusion was an instant hit with elders and kids alike....lo and behold, as I share my grilled veg burger recipe with you which is sure to scintillate your taste buds.

Ingredients:
4 Round burger Buns
1/2 slab of Paneer (cottage cheese)
2 large potatoes - boiled and mashed
1 carrot - boiled and mashed
1/2 cup peas - boiled and mashed
3 large tbsp bread crumbs
salt-pepper, red chilly powder, lemon juice - to taste
1 cup Pesto sauce, (recipe below)
1/2 cup Tangy Tomato sauce (recipe below)
4 cheese slices
Lettuce, tomato, avocado(optional), parmesan cheese for the burgers

Pesto Sauce: Take 2 cups of fresh basil leaves. Add them to a mixer, add some salt, black pepper powder, fresh garlic cloves(3-4 buds) and a tiny splash of lemon juice(optional). Also add 1 cup fresh parmesan cheese. Now keep adding a tbsp of pure olive oil slowly while blending the mixture. When its half crushed, add some pine nuts to it, and blend again to form a thick yet spreadable pesto paste. keep adding EVOO as required.

Tangy Tomato Sauce: Take 2 huge tbsp tomato puree, add a small tsp vinaigrette dressing to it, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp sugar, black pepper powder, and parmesan cheese.

Patties: Boil all the veggies, mash them and mix them with the grated paneer. Add salt, black pepper, red chilly powder and lemon juice to this mixture according to your taste. Now add some breadcrumbs or all-purpose flour to bind the mixture. Form well-shaped patties with it.

Start your grill and let the coals burn thoroughly. Now take the patties and grill them on both sides till smoky flavour emanates. Spread the pesto and tomato sauce on 2 sides of a bun, put the cheese slice on it and grill the bun till cheese melts. Add the patty on top of it, with lettuce, tomato and avocado and savour the succulent indo-italian grilled burgers!! Who says veggie bbq can't be fun!!!

Tamarind (Imli) Chutney

This sweet and sour chutney made with tamarind, dates and jaggery is a staple in many indian houses. Sweet and tangy at the same time, it is mainly flavored using Tamarind, or "Imli" as it is called in India. Though you can buy it at an indian food store, making this at a home is simple and easy, and homemade chutney tastes much better than the store-bought ones! Its a universal sauce that can be used to spruce up almost all chaat recipes, and as a dipping sauce with any fried finger food like pakoras and vadas. The addition of jaggery makes the chutney sweeter, but you may lessen the quantity to suit your taste, or even substitute it with sugar if jaggery is not available.

Ingredients
2 cups dates (khajur) - deseeded
1/4 cup tamarind (imli) - deseeded
1 cup jaggery - crushed
1 tspn chilli powder
a pinch asafoetida (hing)
salt to taste
4 cups of water

Method
Wash the dates and tamarind and place them in a saucepan.

Add the jaggery, chilli powder, asafoetida, salt and 4 cups of water and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and strain the mixture through a sieve.

Now blend this in a mixer to form a smooth paste; add more water if you need a thinner consistency. Check for taste, then store in an air-tight bottle.

This Tamarind-Date Chutney can be stored in a refrigerator for at least 6 months. Serve this with Paneer & Potato Cutlets or Lilva Kachoris

Hariyali Koftas - Paneer Koftas in Spinach Gravy

As we kick into the summer, its nice to use more green leafy vegetables as part of your diet. I tried eating salads for a few days, but then my heart craved for something nutritious yet appealing to my palette, and that's when I started preparing a concoction called the Hariyali Koftas. They are not only tasty, they have a high fibre content, high protein, vitamin A and calcium, and the dish blends perfectly well with bread or rice. Hariyali koftas are basically vegetable and paneer koftas cooked in thick and creamy spinach gravy. It's easy to make, and sometimes provides a welcome change from the traditional Malai Kofta Curry.

Ingredients:
Spinach (2-3 cups for the gravy)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp oil
2 tsp each turmeric, red pepper, garam masala, ginger-garlic paste
1/2 onions(finely chopped)
1/2 cup tomato puree
4-6 tbsp heavy whipping cream
salt and lemon juice - to taste
chopped coriander - for garnish

For the koftas
4-5 potatoes - boiled and mashed
5 tbsp grated paneer(cottage cheese)
2 tbsp grated cheese
salt, garam masala powder, lemon juice - to taste
half-cup assorted dry fruits-cashews,almonds and raisins, chopped finely
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Method:
Mash the potatoes for the koftas and add all the spices and lemon juice in it. Mix the grated paneer and cheese together. Now make a small ball with some of the potato mixture. Flatten it a bit to make a small hole in the centre and fill it with the paneer/cheese mix, and put some dry fruit mix in it too. Then roll the ball again so as to make a smooth even oblong-shaped kofta ball. Make as many koftas as you need and store them in the referigerator for some time. Now fill the saucepan with some oil and fry the koftas 2 at a time, after rolling them in the all-purpose flour so that they stay firm and do not disintegrate in the oil.

For the gravy, take some oil, add cumin seeds, ginger-garlic paste and onions and saute for a minute. Then add the dry spices-garam masala, red chilli powder, and turmeric and let them mix with the onions. Now add the tomato puree, salt and let it cook for some time. Boil the spinach and blend it, then add it to the pan. Lower the heat and let it cook with the spices for 5-7 mins. Slowly add the whipped cream and keep stirring continuously till the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Now cook this covered for another 5-10 mins.

When you are ready to serve, arrange the koftas in a serving dish, then pour the gravy on the top, and garnish with shredded cheese or paneer and chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with chapati, bread or jeera rice!!!

Similar Recipes:
Methi-Malai Mutter
Stuffed Capsicum with Tomato Gravy

All About Mangoes

basket of mangoes
Did you know that mangoes are the most popular fruit in the world? There are more than 2,500 varieties of the fruit and when you consider where they are grown it's really no surprise. Mangoes are grown throughout Asia and Southeast Asia, India, Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, and Latin America as well as Florida, Hawaii and California.

Mangoes come in a variety of shades including red, orange, yellow and green, so you can never tell by color alone if a mango is ripe. Some are tiny as plums and others are big as pineapples. Some mangoes are best eaten firm, though most should be slightly soft to the touch. In many parts of the world mangoes aren't exported much, because the locals eat them all. Mangoes can be challenging to grow commercially and are never grown on a large scale. Filled with vitamins A and C and many trace minerals, they are healthy, refreshing and sweet, and their orangy colored flesh is uplifting and cheery.

During a recent visit to the Fairchild Botanic Garden during the International Mango Festival I saw 230 different mangoes all displayed in one room. I got to taste around 15 different kinds and it became clear to me that while all mangoes are delicious, some lend themselves to certain recipes more than others. If you've never purchased a mango before all you really need to know is how to cut it open. An instructional video is available here. But basically you want to cut off the two flat "cheeks" of fruit on either side of the long pit. By scoring the fruit you can remove it in chunks. Never eat the skin! Very fibrous mangoes are sometimes used for juice alone.

You may have heard about the famed Indian mangoes lately. As of just a few months ago they were approved for import to the US. The Indian varieties I've tried are considered "dessert mangoes" and are super sweet and low in fiber. But mangoes can be hard, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy. Some mangoes have no aroma and others can be detected yards away by smell alone. Flavor-wise you may be able to detect notes of tropical fruit, pineapple, melon, citrus, spice, vanilla, caramel, coconut, turpentine, musk, nuts and more depending upon which mango your are tasting. Some of my favorite varieties are the Palmer, Bombay, Nam Doc Mai, and Keitt. Whether eating them out of hand or in recipes, mangoes are a feel-good delicious treat.

A few ideas for using mangoes:

* Make a mango smoothie with mangoes and yogurt or milk

* Frozen mango lassi is an ice creamy version of the Indian drink

* Add chunks of mango to tomato, jalapeno, onions and cilantro to make salsa

* Shred a green mango to make a refreshing salad

* Serve slices of mango with Thai sticky rice

* Chunks of mango add tropical sweetness to a simmering curry

* Try mangoes with seafood, especially shrimp as in these Shrimp and Mango kebabs

* Roast mango chunks in the oven and serve with foie gras or chicken

* Eat mangoes Mexican style by dipping slices in lime juice and sprinkling with chili powder

* Try Chef Allen's mango ketchup

* Use pureed mango or mango nectar in cocktails

More mango recipes can be found here.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Barbecues - How they originated and why are they tied to July 4th?

Though Americans grab any available opprtunity to turn on their BBQ grills and start grilling, the act has been tied to July 4th since a long time now, and most people keep following the tradition, without realising why....So, here's what I discovered when my curiosity got the better of me and I set out on a mission to find the history behind bbq's....

North-easterners are the biggest barbecuers in the nation, followed by those in the North Central, Southern and then Western parts of the country. However, it turns out that Barbecues have been a White House tradition since the times of Mr. Thomas Jefferson. What started as a mere celebration tactic by the president, later turned into a symbol associated with any national holiday. Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, hosted the first bbq at the White House that featured Texas-style barbecued ribs. Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter hosted a “pig pickin’” for about 500 guests including foreign visitors, while Ronald and Nancy Reagan invited ppl on their ranch. George H. Bush followed by his son, held a barbecue for Members of Congress annually on the South Lawn of the White House, a tradition that was interrupted on September 12, 2001, the day after the terrorist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon. Secret Service agents, who had evacuated the White House a day earlier, cancelled the bbq and the White House kitchen released 700 pounds of beef tenderloin to feed the hundreds of rescue workers who had traveled to DC.

Neverthless, the grills and pots and pans and coal have become our beloved friends, and would continue to be so for a very long time....I'll share a veg bbq menu so the vegetarians can live the grilling experience too!!!

Veg Paneer BBQ Recipe

Barbecue Sauce- Mix tomato puree, ginger-garlic paste, mustard powder, sugar, butter and salt with Worcestire sauce to make the traditional bbq sauce. Alternately, you can also use a marinade for your vegges by combining lemon juice with oil, salt, pepper and Tandoori bbq masala available at Indian grocery stores.

Veggies on a Skewer- Marinate different veggies like capsicum, tomatoes(only skin, no pulp), boiled potates, onions, boiled cauliflower florets and paneer cubes in any of the above sauces for an hour or two. Then arrange them on a skewer and grill them till done. Sprinkle chaat masala and more lemon juice if required and serve hot

Handvo and Khandvi - 2 must-know Indian gujarati recipes


I thought I'd start off with 2 brilliant gujarati recipes that even native gujaratis find hard to master. Gujarat is a huge state on the west coast of India, with a large variety of tasty and spicy food. Each part of India has a unique flavour and taste associated with its cooking style, and Gujarat is no different. Here I talk about two delicious recipes that are sure to hit on the right note with your culinary appeals, no matter what region of the world you belong to!!


Handvo (Baked lentil cake)

Ingredients
vegetables of your choice: bottle gourd, carrot, cabbage,peas, tuver(u can get it in indian store in frozen foods section), coriander
green chillies finely chopped
3 cups buttermilk
3 tsp soda bi-carb
1 tsp each urad and channa dal
Spices: 1 tsp each cumin and mustard seeds, 4-5 tbsp oil, salt to taste
You can use the Handva Mix that you get in all indian grocery stores, or you can make the batter at home by grinding together1 cup rice and 1 cup yellow moong dal

Method

Take butter milk in a large vessel. Add salt, soda and flour and mix well. Keep aside for 6-7 hours. Grate bottle gourd or carrot and squeeze out excess water. Add the veggies, coriander and green chillies. Heat oil in a pan, add urad & channa dals, and the cumin and mustard seeds. Allow to splutter, pour half in the batter and mix thoroughly. Put in a greased oven proof deep container. Pour remaining seasoning on top. Place in a preheated oven at 280oC for 10 minutes. Reduce to 200 C or 180 C for 40 minutes or till done. Check by inserting a skewer, which should come out clean. Slice into wedges and serve hot.

You can even make individual pancake-type portions in a covered cook-top sauce pan instead of the oven. This is best served with Green chutney or tamarind chutney and masaledar Indian tea!!!


Khandvi

Ingredients

1 cup gramflour
1 cup sour yoghurt
3 cups water
Spices: 2 tsp ginger-chopped, 2 green chillies, 1/2 tsp salt, a pinch asafoetida(hing), a pinch of turmeric powder,
For the tarka: 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2-3 whole red chillies, 8-10 curry leaves, 2 tbsp coriander leaves-chopped, 1/2 cup coconut-grated

Method

Put gramflour in a deep, heavy based pan. Grind the ginger and green chillies together to a paste and add to a pan. Mix-in the chilli powder, salt, asafoetida and turmeric. Gradually add the yoghurt, stirring continuously to make a smooth and lump-free paste.Add water and place pan over high flame. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Continue stirring in the same clock-wise or anti-clockwise direction, otherwise you'll end up in making lumps in the batter. Keep doing this till you reach a paste-like consistency, adjusting the flame to avoid scorching. The mixture splatters a lot, so be careful. Now take a spatula and spread the mixture on an un-greased surface in thin layers and leave it to cool. When cool, cut this layer into strips of your wish. Roll up each strip like a scroll, as firmly as you can, without breaking them, and arrange on to a serving dish. Heat oil in a small pan, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and whole red chillies. Stir a few times, then sprinkle over the rolls, alongwith coriander and coconut and serve hot!!

Learning Made Easy!!

Cooking is an art and an outcome of a lot of fun experiments! But sometimes, given the vast variety of dishes available, it helps a lot if you actually see someone making something you've never made before, but would love to try. This section on Food Videos is an attempt to help make your cooking experience easier and more fun!! We'll try to update these every week, so keep coming back !!

Baking - Molten Chocolate Lava Cake


Video courtesy of "Foodwishes"

Breads - Aloo Parathas


Video courtesy of "show me the curry"

Microwave Cooking - Chana Masala

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Indian Sweets and Ice Cream Recipes



ICE CREAMS & PUDDINGS

Anjeer(Fig) Ice Cream

Berries and White Chocolate Pudding

Baked Strawberry Shortcake Pudding

Banana Bread n Cream Cheese Dessert

Plum Compote with Cardamom

Chocolate Pudding with Strawberries

Sweet Carrot Pudding

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Carmelized Almond-Strawberry Cream Dessert


Thai Fried Ice Cream

Mango & Mascarpone Mousse

Peach Melba with Cardamom Ice Cream

Raspberry Coulis with Creme Fraiche

Tiramisu-Eclair

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries



INDIAN SWEETS

Badam/Toor Dal Halwa

Badam Kesar(Almond) Burfi

Coconut Laddoos(Coconut Burfi)

Churma na Ladoo

Dry-Fruit Basundi

Gujarati Adadiyapaak

Eggless Almond Nankhatai

Gajar ka Halwa

Gulkand and Khoya Burfi

Malpua with Rose-flavored Rabdi

Mango Kulfi

Kesar Rasmalai

Kesar-Elaichi Shrikhand

Puran Poli

Rasgulla - Bengali Sweet

Sukhdi or Golpapadi

Cake-Muffin-Brownie Recipes

CAKES & BROWNIES

Basbousa - Semolina n Rose Syrup Cake

Banana-Walnut Fluffy Cake

Chocolate Lava Cake(Molten)

Chocolate n Strawberry Heart Cake

Chocolate Banana Bread or Cake

Coconut-Poppy Seed Cake

Cranberry Orange & Pecan Bread

Chilled Strawberry Cheesecake

Eggless Wheat-Flour SpongeCake

Espresso & Kahlua Brownies

Hazelnut-Mocha Coffee Cake

Layered Coffee Cheesecake

Low-Fat Strawberry-Vanilla Cake

Marbled Cream Cheese Brownies

Mango Truffle Cake

Mango Cake with Streusel Topping

Mini Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

Mixed Berry Pavlova - Meringue Cake

No-Bake Mini Cheesecake - Orange & Pistachio

Pear-Almond Yogurt Cake

Persimmon-Choc Spice Cake

Peach-Cream Sandwich

Raspberry Jelly Swiss-Roll Cake

Sour Cream Raspberry Brownies

Raspberry-Coconut Breakfast Cake

Tres-Leches Milk Cake

Traditional Vanilla Cake

Spiced Apple Bread



CUPCAKES & MUFFINS

Apricot-Ginger & Cranberry Muffins

Chocolate Spider Cupcakes

Chocolate Muffins with Strawberries

Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Cream Sauce

Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins

Molten Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

Spiced Vanilla Tea Cupcakes

Savoury Paneer & Tomato Muffins

Vegetable Cheese Muffins

Cookie and Pie Recipes

COOKIES & CHOCOLATES

Nankhatai - Almond Cookies

Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Choc-dipped Orange Madeleines

Cranberry and Pistachio Biscottis

Coconut Cookies with Vanilla Icing

Cranberry-Walnut Scones(Eggless)


Instant chocolate Truffles

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Marshmallow-Chocolate Mud Cookies

Chewy M&M Cookies

Peppermint-Vanilla Butter Cookies



PIES & TARTS

Almond-Pistachio Icecream Pie

Apple and Pecan Cobbler

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Mango-Mascarpone Cheese Tart

Mini Chocolate & Fruit Trifles

Pineapple Fritters n Strawberry Sauce

Raspberry Almond Crumble

Parathas-Chutneys-Dips & Sauces

PARATHAS & FLATBREADS
Cheese and Vegetable Parathas
Makkai(Sweet Corn) Parathas
Moong-Dal Parathas
Paneer-Ajwain Parathas

DIPS/JAMS/SAUCES
Cilantro and Cucumber Dip
Cilantro-Corn-Walnut Pesto
Date-Tamarind-Raisin Chutney
Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing
Green Cilantro Chutney
Sweet Tamarind(Imli) Chutney
Grape n Green Tomato chutney
Homemade Mexican Salsa
Mango and Grape Salsa
Plum Compote(Jam)
Raspberry Coulis
Roasted Tomato n Peanut Chutney
Saffron Cream Sauce (for pasta)

Note: The recipe links will open in new windows

Gravies and Rice Recipes

CURRIES & GRAVIES

Akbari Paneer

Bhindi Masala

Bharwan Shimla Mirch (Stuffed Bell Peppers)

Beet-Carrot-Peas Curry

Chatpate Chhole

Dum Aloo

Lauki Koftas in Almond Gravy

Egg Curry

Gujarati Dal

Gujarati Kadhhi

Hariyali Koftas

Hyderabadi Baghare Baingan

Hyderabadi Mirchi ka Salan

Shahi (Kashmiri) Dum Aloo


Kadhai Paneer


Malai Kofta Curry

Methi Malai Mutter

Paneer Butter Masala

Punjabi Kadhi with Pakoras

Panchvati Garlic Dal

Stuffed Capsicums with Gravy

Shahi Paneer

Sweet-Sour Potatoes with Mango

Veg Manchurian Gravy



RICE DISHES

Cheese & Bell-Pepper Pulao (Pilaf)

Gujarati Khichdi-Kadhhi

Lemon and Coconut Rice

Spinach n Corn Pulao

Tofu Stir-Fry with Jasmine Rice

Veg Fried Rice





Note: The recipe links will open in new windows

Snacks and Main Course Recipes

ENTREES

Achari Paneer Tikka Wraps

Baked Rigatoni in Homemade Sauce

Chilli Paneer

Crunchy Mexican Tacos

Cheese Ravioli with Tomato-Basil & Cream Sauce

Cabbage Rolls and Salsa

Chana-Masala Sandwich - Indian Bruschetta

Fettuccini Alfredo with Basil and Rosemary


Fettucini with Almond Pesto

Grilled Marinated Tofu Wraps

Mandarin Tofu Satay with Jasmine Rice

Ragda Patties

Schezwuan Hakka Noodles

Sphagetti with Garlic & Cilantro

Spinach and Cheese Souffle

Sphagetti with Cilantro Cream Pesto

Spanish Tortilla Omelette

Spinach Fettucini With Garlic & Cherry Tomatoes

Stuffed Ravioli in Saffron-Cream Sauce

Sev Usal Chaat

Stuffed Capsicums

Stuffed Tomatoes (Pesto&Cheese)

Stuffed Bell Peppers (Shimla Mirch)

Tandoori Paneer Tikka & Mango Dressing

Veg Pad Thai with Tofu

Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza



BITES & SNACKS

Bread Rolls

Batata Poha

Fluffy Khaman or Sev-Khamani

Green Rava Dhokla

Grilled Veg Cheese Toast

Hot and Spicy Samosas

Italian French Toast

Lilva ni Kachori

Moong Dal Kachori

Methi-Palak na Muthiya (Steamed Dish)

Khasta (Daal) Kachori

Methi Pakodas (Fenugreek Fritters)

Moong-Dal Kachori

Instant Microwave Khandvi

Spinach & Paneer Cutlets

Sabudana (Sago) Khichdi

Spicy Mix-Dal Vadas

Spinach-Onion Dosa (gluten-free)

Spicy Rice Bhajias(Fritters)

SunDried Tomato-Cottage Cheese Muffins

Tirangi (Layered) Dhokla Sandwich

Veg Grilled Sandwich

Vegetarian Potato Cutlets

Vegetable Handvo - Savoury Lentil Cake

Zucchini Crab Cakes (Vegetarian)



Note: The recipe link will open in a new window

Appetizers and Hors'Douvres Recipes

APPETIZERS
Bread Baskets
Colorful Dhokla Sandwich
Cheese & Rice Croquettes
Fruit & Cheese Sticks

Grilled Veg Cheese Toast
Hot & Spicy Samosas
Italian Bruschetta
Paneer Tikka with Mango Dressing
Rice Bhajiyas(Fritters)

Shiitake Mushroom Crostini
Spicy Chilli Paneer
SunDried Tomato-Cottage Cheese Muffins
Vegan Rice Paper Rolls (Thai)
Vegetable Timbales

Note: The Recipe links will open in new windows

Drinks and Cocktail Recipes

COCKTAILS
Blue Hawaiian
Cuban Mojito
Chocolate-Coffee Martini
Hot n Spiced Vanilla Rum Drink
Lychee Martini
Strawberry Margarita

SMOOTHIES/SHAKES
Banana/Peanut Butter Smoothie
Cranberry-Soymilk-Green Tea Smoothie
Mango-Raspberry Thickshake
Raspberry Lassi (Smoothie)
Strawberry Colada Smoothie

VIRGIN/NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
Almond-Mocha Frappucino
Beetroot-Cucumber-Ginger Juice
Gingerbread Latte
Grape n Watermelon Soda
Lychee Martini (Virgin)
Orange Creme Soda
Tropical Paradise
Tropical Fruit Punch Lemonade

Note: The Recipe Links will open in new windows

Breakfast and Brunch Recipes

SWEET

Banana-Walnut Pancakes

Blueberry Muffins

Cranberry-Walnut Scones(Eggless)

Chocolate Muffins and Strawberries

Cherry & Almond Sour Cream Scones

Fig and Date Cereal Bars


Green Coconut Pandan Cake

Hazelnut-Mocha Coffee Cake

Mango Streusel Cake

Spiced Apple Bread

Wheat Chocolate-Chip Pancakes

Wholegrain Blueberry Pancakes



SAVOURY

Batata (Aloo) Masala Poha

Italian French Toast

Moong Dal Parathas

Spanish Tortilla Omelette

SunDried Tomato-Cottage Cheese Muffins

Savoury Cheese Breakfast Muffins

Sabudana(Sago) Khichdi

Tomato-Herb-Cheese Bread

Vegetable Cheese Parathas

Recipe Index

Here's a complete Recipe Index for all the recipes that I have posted on this blog. Clicking on each link will open a new browser window for that category. You can also find these on the right sidebar of the blog. Hope you enjoy browsing through all my recipes at Fun and Food! If you are looking for a specific recipe, just enter the name in the "Search Box" on the right side bar of the blog.