Chestnuts – defies crunchiness!! :)

My my!!! these are little surprise packages…little treats :)

Started seeing them in the grocery store from mid-october , everytime I will give them a curious glance and pass off…I am glad I finally picked up the courage to try these.

In certain parts of North India, water chestnuts, otherwise called ‘Singada’ in hindi is pretty common. It is used in making subjis , tikkis etc., Tastewise these are somewhat similar to them. Unlike other nuts, these do not have crunchy texture and are more starchy, like a sweet potato.

There are lot of methods available on internet to roast them, I chose to follow the below steps and they worked very well.

Roasting Chestnuts

scored chestnut

scored chestnut

1.Preheat oven to 400 F

2.Using a small knife,make an ‘X’ scoring, as shown in the picture, on the flat side of the chestnut and dump them in cool water for 15-20 minutes

3.Line the chestnuts in a baking sheet, with the scored side facing upwards and roast them for 13-15 minutes.

4.Take them out, wrap them in a kitchen towel when warm, rub them hard, allow to cool and crack open the skin. ( what I did was , beat the kitchen towel hard on the ground, like how the dhobis back in India do and it worked like a charm :P )

Chestnuts come with zero cholestrol, has a high fibre and calcium content. These are the perfect munch-ons or the in between meal snacks

Serving suggestions

They are pretty much good on their own

Heard they go well with sour cream….but you really dont want to bring in the cream I guess!!!

Should be good in salads and soups I guess

Green Palak Paneer without tomatoes!!!

I was longing to have spinach from last couple of days and so today bought this big bag of fresh organic baby spinach.

Somehow the usual palak paneer with lots of cream did not appeal to me,its more in off-white color and hardly seems like spinach . I craved for some puply green spinach which can go well with rice and roti both.Had a big can of whole milk in the fridge, so I made the paneer at home. The result was a very green , delicious curry which you cannot get enough of. I used up the whole bag of spinach and…ah!!I swear it will not last for more than 2 people!!!

Ingredients

fresh or frozen spinach – 2 or 3 cups

1 big red onion

3 cloves garlic

1 inch piece ginger

Paneer cubes  - half cup

cumin seeds – 1 tsp

coriander powder – 2 tsp

green chillies – 5

a pinch of turmeric powder

salt to taste

whole milk/Cream – optional

oil – 2 tsp

Method

1.Wash the spinach and blanch them by dropping them in hot water for 30 seconds, immediatly drop them in cold water and then strain in a colander. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before pureeing. ( If using frozen spinach, defrost them , strain and puree)

2.Chop up the onion to big chunks and puree it with the green chillies. Make a paste of ginger and garlic and keep it aside.

3. Heat up a wok with oil, crackle cumin seeds, pour the onion-chilly paste and ginger garlic paste and saute it till the raw onion smell disappears.

4.Add the turmeric powder and coriander powder and pour in the spinach puree. Let it cook on a low flame for 5 minutes

5.If adding heavy cream , a spoonful would be more than enough.Another low fat option is microwave quarter cup of whole milk for 7 minutes allowing a standing time of 30 seconds in between and add this little by little to the spinach. Coconut milk would also work I guess, though I never tried it. (yes….the green colour stays even after adding cream!!)

6.Broil the paneer cubes for 2-3 minutes and add it to the spinach. Take care while broiling , else you will end up burning them.

Serving suggestions:

Spinach with paneer pieces goes with with warm rotis, parathas, naans etc.,

Spinach minus paneer goes awesome with hot plain rice + ghee

It tastes even more heavenly with curd rice!! :)

Carefree Cracked wheat Upma

This was a very common breakfast at my home, simply because it is very easy to prepare , wholesome and very yummy.With some salad and yogurt, can be had at lunch or dinner too.

Upma is usually made with Sooji or Semolina in most parts of India and most are not aware that cracked wheat can be an awesome substitute in this recipe.

Why cracked wheat upma?

Sooji is a refined product and cracked wheat is not

Cracked wheat need not be pre-toasted, this reduces the cooking time considerably

Cracked wheat does not form lumps when you cook…so you can make a Carefree cracked wheat upma!!! absolutely zero concentration required.

Now to the recipe…

Ingredients

Cracked wheat – 1 cup

Water – 2.25 cups

green chillies – 3

red chillies – 3

carrots+peas – 1 cup (if not using veggies reduce the water to 2 cups)

1 mediu onion sliced thin

Mustard seeds – tsp

Channa dal aka broken chickpeas – 1 tsp

chopped ginger – 1 inch piece

Salt

oil – 2 tbsp

Method

Heat a wide thick-bottomed vessel with 2 tablespoons of oil and let it reach smoking point. Now crackle the mustard seeds, fry the channa dal to a light pink, add the chillies , ginger and onions.

Once the onions are translucent add the veggies, saute for a minute, add the 2.25 cups of water, season with salt and close it with a lid. It is important that the water is slightly salty than how you want your upma to be. Once the water starts boiling, add the cracked wheat, give it a stir, close the lid and cook it for a couple of minutes till it is done. Once you feel the upma is done and soft, switch off the stove, close it with the lid and leave it to rest for 5 minutes. This step is very important if you do not want a gooey upma. Enjoy the wholesome upma with some pickle and yogurt or coconut chutney.

Golden Temple(GT) Aata Pancakes!

I strongly believe “Necessity is the mother of invention”, otherwise why would I make pancakes and not rotis out of GT durum wheat flour?? For one thing, it does not turn out to be rotis, but something like a flattened bubble gum…eh! guess no one will prefer such a huge gum to chew on that too with some Indian dal and subji!!

I had some yummy homemade cranberry orange preserve , some leftover Kefir and an ultra-ripened banana…perfect to whip up some pancakes.

Ingredients

pancake batter

1 cup GT durum flour

a pinch of baking powder

5 pods of powdered cardamom

1.5 cups of kefir/buttermilk

1 banana cut to small pieces

1 egg (optional)

a pinch of salt

2 tbsp of  sugar (I used raw brown cane sugar)

Method

Mix everything together and leave it for 10-15 minutes.The batter should not be too runny and it should be more or less like a cake batter.Heat a griddle with few drops of oil and pour the pancake batter into a half inch thick circles. Cook it on both sides till lightly brown.

Serving options:

I served mine with some wildflower honey and some homemade cranberry preserve

Can be served with some sliced stawberries & maple syrup.

Goes wonderful with whipped cream too, if you do not mind the calories.

P.S Usually pancake recipe calls for milk or buttermilk, but I refrain from using milk and salt together in any recipe for the reasons mentioned here . Friends who are regular on cereals, take note whether it has salt in it or have your cereal with beaten yogurt or Kefir.

With cranberry jam, honey & frozen strawberries

Poha – all time fav brkfst/lunch/dinner…period!!

Yes, it is  because of the following reasons

1.It can be made in 15 min flat

2.It tastes good

3.Very apt for lunchbox

4.It can be made with normal  ingredients

5.It can be made nutritious  and it still tastes good!!!

It was a sin not to post this recipe for so long, since I end up making it atleast twice a week, today I did the photo shoot and hence thought will post it before I procrastinate.

Ingredients

Poha(thick variety) – 1 cup

grated carrots – 1/2 cup (diced carrots take little longer to cook)

frozen peas – 1/4 cup

chopped onions – 1 small

finely chopped chillies – 4 or 5

salt & sugar

Half a lemon juice

Haldiram’s bhujia / Grated coconut for garnish

Method

Well…cooking poha is pretty simple, it does not involve a process, just a few tips. Whenever I skipped one of these tips, my poha did not turn quite right. So you can skip the steps and just read the tips and that will suffice.

Tip #1 Make sure the poha is of thick variety and make sure you wash it nicely till it is little soft to touch , drain it in a colander and leave it for 10 minutes. This 10 minute wait time is very important, after all cooking it takes only 5 min.

Tip #2 Please try to add the mentioned number of green chillies, because somehow red chilly powder does not go well with this dish and without green chillies this dish will turn out bland

Ok, now coming to the steps…the usual

1.Heat oil in a wok and splutter some mustard and cumin seeds.

2.Add turmeric , green chillies and onion and saute for a couple of minutes till the onions soften

Tip #3 It is important to add turmeric to the oil, else the poha does not get a uniform color!

3.Add the grated carrots & peas and cook them for not more than 2 mins.

Tip #4 Season the veggie mixture with sufficient salt & sugar before mixing in the poha. If you try to add salt in the end, it never mixes up properly and you will salty & bland poha in the same bowl!!

4.Season with salt & sugar, mix in the poha immediatly and switch off the stove. Pour in the lemon juice,some chopped coriander and mix it up well

Tip #5 Make sure the contents in the wok have little bit of moisture when you mix in the poha. Otherwise sprinkle few drops of water. The poha soaks up that little moisture and it stays soft , without this moisture it ends up dry and hard.

I know…there are more tips than the actual steps!!

Options

Garnish with bhujia/coconut depending on your undying love for whichever

You can add raw peanuts/finely diced potatoes while sauteing onions

Spanish rice and beans

Made this for lunch today. It was a breeze to prepare this , delicious , somewhat similar to the Chipotle rice bowl.

There are three recipes here, the spanish rice, beans and the guacomole. I am listing the ingredients and recipe for each of them one by one

Spanish rice

Ingredients

Rice – 1 cup

Tomato puree – 1 cup

Water – 1 .5 cups

Oil – 1 tsp

salt and chilly powder to taste

Spring onions chopped to garnish

Method

Wash and drain the rice. Heat the oil in a wok and throw in the washed rice and saute for a few mins. Add the tomato puree , water, salt and chilly powder and cook till the rice is done. Garnish with green onions. If you like it more spicy, can add a couple of chopped green chillies.The rice has to have a little gooey texture.

Beans

Ingredients

Canned Pinto beans (Rajma soaked & cooked would work too)

Chopped green chillies – to taste

a medium onion chopped

Oil – 1 tsp

cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Garlic minced – 1 tsp

Salt and chilly powder to tasta

Method

Rinse out the canned beans and keep it aside. Follow the normal seasoning drill, heat oil, add the cumin seeds and allow it to splutter. Saute the onion to translucent, add the garlic and green chillies. Now add the washed beans , salt and chilly powder. Add a little water and allow it to come to boil.

Guacamole

Ingredients

Avacado – 1 ripe

Tomato – 1 chopped

lemon juice – 2 tbsp

Chipotle chillies/Jalapenos – 2

salt and pepper to taste

Method

If using chipotle chillies, cut them to halves and soak them in warm water for 10 mins. Squeeze out the bitter water and chop them fine. Scoop out the avacado pulp and mash fine. Add chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, chillies, salt & pepper and give it a good mix and guacamole dip is ready.

The chipotle chillies give a smoky flavour whereas Jalapenos give a sharp kick to the guacamole, so it is a personal choice.

Assembling the spanish rice

Spoon the spanish rice onto a plate with a generous amount of beans.Top it off with the guacamole , sour cream/whipped yogurt and some grated cheese. Dig in when it is warm :)

IMG_4897

Indian tweaked Thai Red Curry

Wow!! it feels to wow blog again. It has been nearly a year and lots of things have happened. Hubby dear decided to pursue his b-school dreams and before we could realise we have relocated all the way from Hyderabad to North Carolina.

Though the change was not a shocker, it was hell a lot of work. I pounced upon this chance to take a break from work and I do not regret a bit about the decision. Durham is a nice little place and with universities around, its bustling with activities.I hope to have lots and lots of fun for the next 20 months :)

Ok coming back to our thai curry, it was a weekend and we both were as usual lazing around and before we could realise it was lunchtime and the fridge was devoid of any vegetables except for frozen stuff. Hmm…did i see a can of coconut milk in the pantry?? After Amit’s approval for rice and thai curry, I got into business with my first attempt at thai cuisine.

Rice & warm red curry sauce

Rice & warm red curry sauce

Well, I have always read about homemade thai curry paste , but then my pantry did not have the authentic ingredients like galangal, lemongrass etc., so I decided to tweak it with some Indian touch…so voila!! here is the recipe and it sure did turn out delicious that we devoured bowlfuls of rice with this awesome stuff.

Ingredients

For Thai Red curry paste with Indian touch!!

Red Onion – 1 medium sized

Garlic – 2 pods

Ginger – 1 inch long

Red Chillies – 5-7 depending on your spice level

Coriander powder – 3 heaped teaspoons

Black peppercorns – 2-3

Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

For Thai Curry

Frozen Veg – 1 cup ( I used the summer blend with squash, carrots & string beans)

Tofu – a pack

Coconut milk – 2 cups

Method

First I prepared the Thai curry paste. Heat up a teaspoon of oil in a wok and toast the cumin seeds,peppercorns, garlic,ginger and the red chillies. Add the cut onions, sprinkle a little salt and cook them till the onions get little tender and change to a pink color. Once the onions are done, switch off the stove and add the coriander powder, give it a mix and leave it to cool down before pureeing them in a blender. It is important to cool them, else the flavour would not be the same.

When the toasted ingredients are cooling, heat little oil in a shallow pan and roast the tofu.Once it is nicely browned on both the sides, cube them and keep aside.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a wok, when its hot, add the blended red curry paste, saute for a minute and add all frozen vegetables. Give a good mix , cover the wok and let the vegetables cook for a couple of minutes until they are tender.Now add the browned tofu cubes and the 2 cups of coconut milk, season with salt , cover and cook till the gravy comes to a boil.

Its done….thai red curry was awesome!!!

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