Bright Beet-root pulav!

Growing up, Beet-root somehow was never a staple at our house. I was introduced to this colourful veggie by one of my college friends, who used to bring this divine beet-root rice for lunch often. I used to literally polish off half of her lunch especially when it was beet-root. Hence, the other day when I saw this veggie in the grocery store, it brought back pleasant, mouth-watering memories.So I immediately bought it to try and recreate at least the dish, if not the memories.So here goes my version of the beet-root pulav:

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 cups basmati rice

2-3 medium sized beetroots cut in 2 inch long, chunky pieces

1 large onion diced

2 cloves garlic chopped fine

1/2″ ginger chopped fine

1/4 box of button mushrooms sliced

1/2 a big bell pepper chopped

1 bay leaf

1 inch cinnamon

2-3 cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red chilli power

1/2 tsp shan curry powder(optional)

1/2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp vegetable/canola oil

salt to taste

Cilanthro for garnish

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Method

Pre-soak the basmati rice in water for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile in a pressure cooker or pressure pan fry bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves in oil for a minute, add the jeera, once it sputters, fry the onions. Add the ginger and garlic.After 2 minutes add the bell pepper and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms sweat. sprinkle the turmeric, red chilli and curry powders. mix and finally throw in the beets. Saute for a minute, salt it and then add the rice. mix thoroughly, pour 3 cups of water and close the close the pan, put the weight and cook in low for 15 minutes. Turn off the stove, wait for 15minutes, open the lid, add the garam masala,adjust salt for taste and finally garnish with cilanthro.

It tasted very nice but somehow didn’t have the same taste as my college friend’s did. The bright colour though very attractive, did stain most my utensils especially my cutting board:-)))

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Cooking from the Blogs: Vegetable Chow-Mein

When Coffee from My Khazana of Recipes announced International cuisine for the “Monthly Blog Patroling” event , I immediately thought of the Indian-Chinese Fusion dish:Vegetable Chow-Mein that I had made following the recipe from one of my favourite bloggers, Meena of Hooked on Heat. I lo—ve her blog and her mouth-watering pictures. Honestly they make me want to run to the kitchen and immediately try to replicate the delicious goodness there! That noodles are an all time favourite of both my hubby and I, was another major motivation to try this recipe. Anyway though I do say it myself, the result was pretty good especially since the proof of the chow-mein is in eating it which both of us did to our heart’s content.

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Well, I didn’t have cabbage in my fridge that day and hence used green beans instead. The other veggies I used are yellow bell peppers, beans, mushrooms, scallions and onions.One more difference is the flat vegetarian noodles instead of egg noodles. Otherwise the method is the same and can be referred here.

Thanks to Meena for the wonderful recipe and of course to Coffee for motivating me to reproduce this in my blog for the “Monthly Blog Patroling” event.


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Kozhukkattai—–Steamed rice dumpling filled with a Coconut-jaggery mixture

A Very Happy and Prosperous New Year to everyone! Since this day marks the beginning of another wonderful year, it seemed fitting to post this recipe which is a favorite dish to Lord Ganesha,who is worshipped for an auspicious and good beginning. Kozhukkatai in Tamil or Modak in Hindi, is a very famous sweetmeat in Tamil Nadu and is usually prepared for Ganesh Chathurthi, the special festival for Lord Ganesha. Since coconut shares the stage equally with jaggery in this dish I though that this would be appropriate for this months’s JFI for coconut kindly hosted by Ashwini of Food For Thought.

For the filling:

1 cup of grated coconut

2/3 cup of jaggery broken into pieces

1 tsp ghee

1/2 tsp of cardamom

Take the coconut in a wok, add jaggery and about 2 tablespoons of water.Keep stirring until the jaggery slowly dissolves and forms a sticky,semi solid mixture with the coconut. Turn off the stove,add the ghee and the cinnamon. Cool and store.

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For the rice flour wrap:

Rice flour 1 cup

1 tsp sunflower/corn oil

Salt to taste

Sieve the rice flour and keep aside.Bring 1 and 1/4 cup of water to a boil in a wok, add salt and the oil. turn down the heat to medium and add the rice flour slowly.Stir all the while to prevent formation of lumps . Transfer the dough to a white muslin cloth, cover it and start pounding it to remove any remaining lumps. After it cools down, knead the mixture and make small round boats as shown in the picture. The oil is used to prevent the rice flour from sticking to your hands.

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Now to assemble them together:

put 1 tsp of the filling in each of the cups, stick the edges of the flour with a drop of water. Cover a plate with a wet cloth, add these dumplings and steam cook in a cooker for about 15-20 minutes in medium flame. cool and remove. Viola, the rice dumplings are ready.

This is my entry to this month’s JFI for coconut kindly hosted by Ashwini of Food For Thought.

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A Fabulous Vacation in Dallas!

A Belated Merry christmas and an advanced Happy New Year to everyone!…The last week has been so– busy that I have been unable to even approach the computer leave alone blog !!! We had a blast with my sis and Bro-in-law at their place in Dallas. They had recently bought a house there which, in keeping with my sister’s favorite adage that “Everything is big in Texas”, was rea–lly mammoth and it being Christmas and all,they had made the place look very festive. We had a perfect, lazy, chatty weekend; of course the delicious food that my sis cooked added greatly to the general bon homie we were all feeling!

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A view of the Christmas lighting on one side of their house

Coming from a match-box sized one bedroom apartment in California,where we cannot afford to have even the word ‘personal space’ in our dictionary, we cherished every minute of living in the hu–ge house where you didn’t crash in to your husband if you moved too fast!!:-)) . They had a total of five bedrooms including the master and so my hubby’s favorite comment was that we could lock ourselves in a separate bedroom if ever we had a tiff!!!:-)))

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The Christmas Wreath was made by my sis

Ok, now for a few of the choicest foods that we all consumed heartily:-))

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She made this great Bruschetta topped with a mixture of tomatoes,olive oil,basil & salt,garnished with lemon juice.

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So don’t the golden and crispy vadas all artistically arranged by my bro-in-law,make you folks want to sink your teeth into them? That is exactly how I felt when I saw these lentil vadas fried and removed from the oil. This is made from toor dal but I found that she uses some rice flour also to get the crisp outside!!

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Another picture of the vadas along with the paal payasam(rice payasam. The colour is solely due to the saffron strands which my sister had ground and dissolved in the milk.

She also made the typical south Indian lunch of Rice, Sambar,rasam, curry, appalams, all consumed before I could click a photo.

Finally on the day we left, she made a very simple but delicious veggie noodle dish;the recipe I shall post soon. But for now below is the mouth watering picture.

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She garnished the noodles with scallions and lightly browned paneer.

So ended our Christmas vacation. Now we are back to our little apartment in California but with great memories of our time in Dallas.

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Couscous revisited!

When Hua, who rides the vanpool to work with me, said that though she loved looking at the colorful couscous recipe pictures in my blog, she didn’t know/use half the ingredients I used, my friend Pinal suggested this versatile couscous recipe with “American Friendly” ingredients!! It is a very simple and flavorful recipe, especially wonderful to cook if one is dieting, which btw we are supposed to be doing!!:-)).

I sort of adjusted Pinal’s recipe with whatever I had in my pantry. here goes the recipe:

Serves 4

1/4 cup onions sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup of frozen vegetable, I used Tuscan style veggies which had cauliflowers, bell peppers, mushrooms and celery

1/4 cup of broccoli (optional)

2cups couscous

2 cloves of garlic minced

1tsp olive oil

1/2tsp of dried oregano (can also use fresh/dried parsley,fresh/dried basil whichever you have in the pantry)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

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Cook the couscous according to the instructions in the packet. I used plain couscous, while Pinal used whole wheat couscous from Trader Joe’s. Fluff it up with a fork to prevent the grains from sticking.

To 1 tsp of oil taken in a wok throw in the onions,and the garlic. cook for a minute then add the frozen veggies. sautee in high for about 3 minutes taking care not to burn the garlic. Once the veggies are half cooked (the crunchiness should still be there), add the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix the couscous with this and garnish with dried herbs. Serve with soup.

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Our diet dinner:Couscous with Sweet corn soup

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A Sunny Sandwich from SunTV!

Yes, yes,when we first got the cable, we were guilty of being a slave to SunTV especially on Sundays; We used to be glued to the box starting at about 9:30a.m., and watch all the programs from movies to star interviews to other shows ,however gross/boring/junky they were. And the advertisements!! oh man I have to write about these. The ads are soooo colourful and vibrant that it was hard to take our eyes off the TV set even for a moment!!:-)) This went on for a couple of weeks until the novelty wore off and now except for the cookery show called sunday samaiyal (Sunday cooking!) which I still watch rain or shine!!!:-)) we have pretty much reduced watching Sun TV!!!. Anyway,the cooking show has four parts: A five star cooking which features a chef making fancy stuff, a village recipe by an old gutsy lady who is famous in tamil movies(More information about this section is given by Revathi of En Ulagum blog), a Healthy meal cooked by a dietician using low fat stuff for junta on diet or having diabetes etc. and a modern cooking section on the microwave by an actress who makes stove top recipes on the microwave. Some of the dishes are pretty nice and watching the show makes one realize how much globalization has impacted the cooking style in India!

Anyway last week after we returned from our Thanksgiving bash at L.A, we decided to go on a diet at least for a week to avoid the tyres of fat building up on our waists!!:-)) and viola this Sunday the dietician in Sunday Samaiyal made a veggie-sprout sandwich which was incredibly healthy, filling and most importantly low fat!!! It was as if she heard about our diet!!:-))So Below is the recipe.

Ingredients (for making 8 sandwiches)

1 loaf whole wheat bread

1 green/red/yellow bell pepper chopped fine

1 cup of mushroom chopped fine

1 cup onions chopped fine

1 cup sprouts cooked until soft

1/4 cup paneer cut into tinly pieces

1 green chilly chopped

1 tsp jeera

1 tsp vegetable/olive oil

1/2 tsp pav bhaji masala

1/4 tsp chat masala(optional)

1/4 tsp curry powder(optional)

salt to taste

Method

To the hot oil taken in a wok, add the jeera and once it sputters, add the green chilles. Fry the onions, then throw in the bell peppers and mushrooms. Once they are cooked, put the sprouts,paneer,Pav bhaji masala, chat masala,curry powder, salt and sautee for sometime. This is the stuffing for the sandwich.The rest is very simple. To one slice of the bread spoon in about 2 tblspoons of this veggie-sprout stuffing ,cover it with the other slice and cook in a sandwich maker greased with 1/4 tspoon of ghee. these can be served with ketchup or eaten by itself!They were tasty and filling.

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A Fantastic Thanksgiving Feast!

I have been really lax in blogging since Thanksgiving. We had been to our friends, Gayathri and Shankar’s place in L.A. We stayed with them and went around L.A. and San Diego. We had a fabulous time sight seeing and literally hogging the delicious meals that they cooked for us! On Thurday afternoon we had a sumptuous and mouth-watering south Indian lunch. We tucked it all in with gusto. Below is the picture of the spread that they cooked!!!

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Starting clockwise from the small bowl on the left: Potato curry, Moor Kuzhambu(like kadhi/Buttermilk stew) ,appalam(papads),Puli Kuzahmbu(Tamarind stew),kootu-curry,Cabbage-carrot curry with coconut,Tomato rasam and in the center is my favourite dish which is Taro root fry! We had rice which is not included in the photo.

Dinner was an Italian meal of mushroom ravioli in Alfredo sauce garnished with sun dried tomatoes,A huge,tasty veggie pizza and a light salad in the side. To top it all we had the scrumptious cheese cake ,which Gayathri had posted earlier here, as dessert. It was a wonderful,cheesy, meal. Man, we had an amazing time there and of course foodies that we are, the food added to our joy!!:-))

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Mushroom ravioli in Alfredo sauce garnished with sun-dried tomatoes.

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Veggie Pizza and the salad(you can see the edge of the salad bowl in the picture)

Added to these appetizing home cooked food we also gorged ourselves during our trip to San Diego the next day and so now we are strictly on diet of sandwich,soup and salad!!:-(((

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