Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fusion - really?

I am all for fusion cooking except ( you knew this was coming didn't you) for Italian food. I love that cuisine so much, I refuse to do it any other way than how it's supposed to be. My dear husband wants me to experiment pasta with some garam masala to it or make chicken cacciatore with some extra red chili powder and I haven't given into his wishes yet. He realized it too and stopped asking me ( sorry hon). I think I am very biased when it comes to Italian cooking. My pesto will not have mint and my marinara will not have garam masala:). Hey Italians use bay leaves, pepperoncinis, cloves and cinnamon too you know;).

I think, I should start looking into fusion Indian cooking. That sounds more fun. We went to this restaurant called "The Rupee Room" in NJ. It's an Indian-American fusion restaurant and the 2 times I had food there, I was impressed. However, I am not sure if the "fusion" was in the decor and presentation or in the food. I actually have to go read up on what do you call "Indian-American". Baked potato with some Cabbage Pappu as topping or Grilled Shrmip with Masala Dressing? I am not sure yet but I don't think it hurts to try:).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cabbage with Yellow Lentils ( Cabbage with Pesarapappu)

This is one of my favorite dish. I never made it myself. I always had mom make it for me. I did today and I am patting myself for doing a good job;). You HAVE to appreciate yourself once in a while now, don;t you?


Cabbage - 4 cups Shredded
Yellow moong dal( pesarapappu) - 1 cup soaked in water for one hour or more
Garlic - 3 cloves crushed
Curry Leaves - 4
Green Chili - 1 cut length wise
Turmeric - pinch
Red Chili Powder - 2 tsps or per taste
Salt - to taste
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Oil - as needed


Heat oil in a shallow pan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds. Once they sputter add the green chilli, curry leaves and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds and add the cabbage. Add salt enough for the cabbage and stir. Turn the flame to medium low, add 1/4 cup of water and cover and cook for 10 minutes or till the cabbage is just tender. To this add the soaked yellow lentils and mix. Add the red chili powder, turmeric and little more salt for the lentils and let it cook on medium heat till the lentils are cooked to the tooth.

Remove from heat and serve with rice or make it a sandwich by adding this to slice of whole grain bread.

You say Tandoori Chicken, I say Suji's special Chicken

I made this dry fry yesterday. why? Because I just felt like it:)

Yogurt - 2 cups
Garam Masala - 2 Tbsp
Red Chili Powder - 1 Tbsp
Turmeric - 1/2 Tbsp.
Ginger and garlic paste - 1 Tbsp

Mix all the above ingredients and keep aside

Chicken - 2 lbs cut into thin strips
Oil - as needed
Salt - to taste


Coat the chicken well with the marinade (do not add salt ) and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

You can the grill them or even bake them in the oven. I stir fried it in the pan with olive oil and sprinkled salt towards the end that way the meat doesn't become too tough.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Random Thoughts

There are several tastes that you get when you prepare a dish. Sweet and sour, hot and spicy are not the only things to do. I was watching food network's All star grilling at south beach last night and something that Tyler Florence (I have a serious crush on this guy;)) did made me go, "Dhuhhh". He added honey to one of the coconut sauces he made and also some extra brown sugar. And then everyone complains as to how we are adding extra calories to our food and then they come up with another show called "low-calorie food".

I guess my point for this entry is this: Just because you have a sour sauce doesn't mean you HAVE to balance it with sugar and just because you are making a spicy sauce doesn't mean you have to have a big Chocolate cake as dessert. Back home in India when I was growing up, we didn't have the concept of having a desert every night after dinner. Sweets and cakes are made for special occasions and even if we did them for everyday use, it was more used as an evening snack instead of having it after 7.30 in the night ( which from what I read and hear is not good).

Let's talk about fruits for a second here. Eat the fruit the way it is. Don't make a fruit salad and add simple syrup to it. The fruit already has sugar in it and you are extra sugar to it. And strawberries can be eaten just the way they are. You do not HAVE to dip them in chocolate all the time. Let's just keep sugar for coffee and tea and chocolate for just once in a while indulgence now, shall we?

If you spend 5 minutes planning the menu, you can save minimum 30 minutes of time you spend in the kitchen and also can come out with a well balanced meal. It could be Indian, Italian, Mexican or Chinese. A cup of cooked brown rice with a side of lentil s with tomato and a beans and broccoli stir fry sounds like a good deal to me and I can promise you won't spend more than 30 minutes in the kitchen ( I am trying really hard not to sound like Rachael Ray here).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Beetroot Pulao

I wanted to do something different with beetroot this time and I remembered having this pulao at Prabu's friends place last year. So here it is.

Rice: 2 cups washed and soaked in water
Beetroot: 2 medium - grated ( use the bigger corer)
Onion - 1 small diced thin
Green chillies - 3 slit length wise
Mint leaves - few minced
Coriander leaves - few minced
Ginger and garlic paste - 2tsp.
Garam Masala - 2 tsp.
Red Chili Powder - 1 tsp.
Cloves - 4
Cinnamon Stick - 1 inch
Cardamom - 4 pods
Coriander seeds - 1tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp.
Dried Bay Leaf - 2
Salt - to taste
Oil - 5 Tbsp
Butter - 1 + 1 Tbsp


Heat oil and 1 Tbsp butter in a shallow pan. Add the dry masala ( cinnamon,cloves, cardamom,cumin,coriander seeds, bay leaf) and saute for 30 seconds till you get nice fragrance out of it. Add the chopped green chillies, mint and coriander leaves and saute for 30 seconds. Add onions and a little bit of salt. Add ginger & garlic paste to this and saute till onions are translucent. Add beetroot to this and saute for a minute. Add enogh salt for this, chili powder and garam masala and stir till beetroot is tad bit on the soft side. Add the rice to this and stir till all the rice and massala are mixed. Raise the flame to high and add 4 cups of water and cover and cook. Once water starts to boil, stir in the other Tbsp. of butter, check for salt and lower the flame and cook till rice is done.

You can serve it with onion raita:)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Beera Kaya Koora ( Ridge Gourd/Chinese Okra Curry)

You get this vegetable in most India and Chinese grocery stores. I haven't seen them in regular super markets as much yet. If you are more into having crunchy vegetables than soft ones, this might not be it for you:). However I promise, once you try it you will like it. It's a tad bit acquired taste. There are several million ways you can cook with this vegetable. Make a chutney, dal, stew, soup and what not. Today I am going to make a curry out of it so it can be used at lunch with rice and with some bread or rotis for dinner tonight.

You have to peel the thick skin and also gut the seeds out of this, then it won't be as mushy:).
You can use frozen coconut powder

In this recipe ( and most in general) whenever I have to grind onions, I cut them into thin strips, saute them in little oil till light brown and then grind them to a paste. This way ( this is just my opinion) I feel like I don't have too much raw onion smell going on and also easy to stir fry the masala.

You can add half cup of cubed potatoes, turnips or carrots to this dish. Adds a good flavor and also some more meatiness to it:)

Beera Kaya( Ridge Gourd) - 2 large cut into cubes
Onion - 1 medium - cut in thin slices
Tomatoes - 1 medium - cut into thin slices
Green chillies - 2 slit length wise
Curry leaves - 4 - 6
Garlic - 2 cloves
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Coconut Powder - 1/4 cup
Coriander seeds - 1 Tbsp.
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp.
Red Chilli Powder - per taste
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - as needed


Heat oil in a pan. Add green chillies and onions and stir fry them with little bit of salt till onions are light brown. Add tomatoes to this and sautee them till tomatoes are soft and start braking in oil. Turn the stove off, remove pan from heat and let it cool for a bit. To this add coconut, coriander seeds, ginger, garlic, turmeric and grind it to a smooth paste with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.

Heat oil in a shallow pan and add mustard, cumin seeds. Once they start spluttering add curry leaves. Add the ridge gourd pieces and sautee them till a little soft. Add salt to the pieces. Now add the ground paste to this and half cup of water and let it cook for 10 to 12 minutes covered on a medium to low flame. Keep checking in between to make sure the gravy is not sticking to the pan and you have enough water for the masala to stick to the vegetable.

Remove the lid and cook on high flame till all the water is evaporated and you end up with a gravyish dish:).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Chinese Chicken Fried Rice

I am not sure if I add the word "Chinese" in front of this because I really don't if this is how they make it. So if you think it's not my apologies:). This is the first time I made this and all the quantities are approximate:).

Couple of things:
I heard it tastes better if you use leftover rice. I didn't have any left over rice so I made a fresh batch and kept it in the fridge for an hour:).

I used all freshly chopped veggies but you can frozen mixed veggies. Experiment with it. You never know how you might like it:)

I used low sodium soy sauce.

I also used red chilli oil and red chilli flakes for the kick I like;)


Rice - 2 cups dry cooked with 4 cups of water
Chicken - 1 lb cut into thin strips
Carrots - 1/2 cup thinly chopped
Celery - 1/2 cup thinly chopped
Green Beans - 1/2 cup thinly chopped
Cabbage - 1/2 cup thinly chopped
Corn Kernels - 1/2 cup
Onions - 1 cup diced
Scallions - 1/2 cup chopped
Garlic - 2 Tbsp minced
Ginger - 2 Tbsp minced
Soy sauce - 1/2 cup
Red Chilli oil - as needed
Red chilli flakes - as needed
Sesame oil - as needed
Salt - per taste


Add 3 Tbsp soy sauce to the white rice, mix and keep it aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, add celery, carrots, beans, corn and cover with little water and microwave it on high for 2 minutes. Add cabbage and microwave for 30 more seconds. If there is any excess water drain and keep the veggies aside.

In a wok or deep pan, heat sesame and chilli oil. It should come almost to a smoking point. Add chicken and cook till all the pink color is gone. Add little bit of soy sauce to this and cook till the meat is cooked lal the way through. Keep it aside.

In the same pan, heat little more chilli and sesame oil and add red chilli flakes, ginger, garlic and scallions. Cook for 30 seconds. Add onions and a little bit of salt. Fry for 2 minutes. Add the veggies and saute for 3 minutes. The flame for the stove should be on high all along and keep stirring it if you think it's sticking to the pan. However, I suggest you not skimp on oil;) and add a bit extra so this doesn't stick:) ( we will worry about healthy eating later).

Add the chicken to this mixture, some more soy sauce and cook for 2 minutes . Add this mixture to the rice and voila we are done:)

My new Costco find

We made a trip to costco yesterday and apart from the usual stuff I also picked up some sushi and some veggie burgers. My review:
Sushi: hmmm not so great.
Veggie Burgers: very good.

I had the burger in between 2 big iceberg lettuce leaves instead of bread with some provolone cheese and tad bit of mayo. It was good. Low on sodium which is always a plus.

What did I have on the side. Now don't laugh when I tell you this. Well, mom and dad had their traditional Indian lunch with white rice, Eggplant stir fry and Senagapappu(Bengal gram). SO I had the eggplant stir fry as a side. Not so bad considering the spicy eggplant dish gave my veggie burger a nice kick on the side;)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tomato Baath - Ewww/ Tomato Upma - Niiice

Well it's not pronounced Bath but baath but still doesn't sound that great sometimes now does it. Upma is a traditional dish made with cream of wheat or rice and also cracked wheat or rice. There are so many variations and today I made it with tomatoes and onions. Goes well with some pickle and plain yogurt on the side.

Cracked wheat - 3 cups
White Onion - 1 medium thinly sliced
Tomatoes - 2 large diced
Green chillies - 4 minced or as needed depending on your spice level
Ginger - 1 Tbsp minced
Curry Leaves - 4 -6
cloves - 3
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch stick
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Chana Dal - 2 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Oil - as needed
Salt - to taste
Butter - 1 Tbsp
Water - 9 cups


Heat oil in a shallow pan. Add mustard, cumin,chana,urad and stir till the dals start to turn light brown in color. Add cloves and cinnamon. Add ginger, curry leaves and chillies and walk away from the pan:). They start to spit oil:). Stir for 20 seconds and add onions. Add enough salt just for the onions and stir with or without lid till onions are golden brown in color. Add tomatoes to this and a little bit more salt. Cover and cook till tomatoes are soft and wilted. Remove the lid and cook till the raw smell of tomatoes is gone.

WHile the tomatoes are cooking heat the water in a different vessel. As soon as the tomatoes are done add this hot water to the mixture and let it come to a boil. Lower the flame and add salt to this. The water should be a little salty. Add cracked wheat to this slowly and keep stirring it while adding. Make sure there are no lumps. Add the butter. stir, check for salt and cook covered on low for 4 - 6 minutes or till it's cooked soft.

Turn the stove off and dress it with coriander if you like.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

NY Times article

on kitchen essentials. Good read. Here is the link. If and when you have time do check out Mark Bittman's cooking series on PBS. He is funny and knows what he is talking about:).

Monday, May 7, 2007

Stir Fried Cucumber

This is such an easy fast recipe and soooo good. I was bored with just plain cucumbers in my salad so I usually make this a s a side.


Cucumber - 1 seedless ( or deseded if you get a regular one) - cubed
Soy sauce - 1 tsp
Red chilli flakes - 1 tsp
Garlic powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 Tbsp


Heat oil in a pan. It should be almost at the point of smoking. Add red chilli flakes and immediately add cucumbers. Keep the flame on high. Stir it for 30 seconds. Add salt, soy sauce and garlic powder. Stir it for 30 more seconds. Turn the stove off and voila your dish is ready:).

You can add fresh garlic instead of garlic powder too. I also make different versions of this. Today I made it with a splash of lemon juice and it tasted just fine. You can even try adding fresh asparagus or some baby bok choy too.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Tomato Pappu ( Yellow Lentils with Tomato)

Standard Mom's recipe:). If you have a pressure cooker it would be nice but you can do this without it:).

Yellow Lentils (Kandi Pappu/Toovarum paruppu/ToorDal) - 1 cup
Tomatoes - 2 small cut into wedges
Green Chillies - 3 slit length wise
Curry Leaves - 6 - 8
Mustard Seeds - 2 tsp
Asafoetida ( Ingva or Hing) - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - Pinch
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - as needed


In a shallow pan lightly toast the lentils by stirring constantly for about 5 - 8 minutes. They tend to burn fast.

Remove from flame and transfer the lentils, tomatoes, green chillies, turmeric and 2 cups of water into a pressure cooker.

Raise the lame on the stove to high and let the steam come out of the cooker. Then put the whistle on to the cooker and wait for one whistle. Turn the stove off and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Try not to remove the lid immediately. You have to wait for the whistle to come off nice and smooth without any pressure.

Mean while in a shallow pan heat oil. Add the mustard seeds, inguva, curry leaves. Once they start to splutter add the cooked lentil and tomato mixture. Add salt, red chilli powder and half cup of water. Adjust seasoning and cook for 5 minutes or till the water is evaporated. I like the consistency to be a little thick, but if you prefer a much liquidier (is that even a word) stuff you can add bit more water.

This tastes good with hot rice, ghee and some pickle. However, I have eaten it the way it is as a soup when I make it liquidy or like a stew when it's thick:).

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Salsa? Pico De Gallo? Say What?

I am not sure what I want to call this. It's just a mix of 6 things:)

Avacado - 2 minced
Tomatoes - 1 small finely chopped
White onion - 1 small finely chopped
Green chillies or jalapeno - Minced ( Per your spice level)
Lemon Juice - to taste
Salt - to taste

Mix everything in a bowl and serve it with tostito scoops. Tastes awesome for an evening snack or as an appetizer for your cinco de mayo party;). And no, no cilantro for me please:).

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Shrimp Scampi Suji's Style

I love Ina Garten and her recipes. I saw her Shrimp Scampi and decided to come up with my own version. I made this a little spicy because, well because that's just how I like it but you can adjust the spicyness per your taste:).

Extra Large Shrimp - 12 cleaned and deveined
Angel Hair Pasta - 1/2 lb
Shallots - 1/2 cup minced
Garlic - 3 Tbs minced
Juice of one lemon
Basil - 1tsp dried
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Red Chilli Flakes - 1 tsp
Parmesan Cheese - 1Tbs
Salt - to taste
Butter - 1tsp
Olive oil - as needed

Marinate shrimp with 1tsp minced garlic, little bit of lemon juice, salt and the red chilli powder and keep it aside. In a shallow pan heat olive oil and add the shrimp and cook :2-3 minutes per side. WHile you are cooking the shrimp, cook the pasta per package directions.

Take the shrimp out ( do not throw the marinade away yet). In the same pan, add butter. Add dried red chilli flakes and garlic and shallots. Add little bit salt and saute till soft. Turn the flame to high and add the shrimp and the marinade and 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and lemon juice.

Add the pasta to this and stir. Add parmesan cheese and basil. Remove from flame and serve with a side of garlic bread sticks.

I usually add freshly ground black pepper at the end just for the taste