Monsoon Medley

Monsoon Medley

This dish, if it can be called that was arrived at/created one muggy monsoon evening, when I wanted something hot and filling and slightly tangy, but not very heavy. It is actually, a soup, more broth-ish because of its thick consistency…but hey…it was good, and yes, it was appreciated by the friend who was over for dinner {thanks for the appreciation, @Kaalika: http://twitpic.com/29qnr7 }

Ingredients (this serves 2):

Spinach: 1 bunch (fresh, small leaves) about 250-300 gm: washed, chopped

Onion: 1 medium sized, finely sliced

Garlic cloves: 4, peeled, grated

Garlic: 1/2 inch piece, peeled, grated

Mango: small, half ripe, peeled, grated

Milk: low fat, 1 cup

Water: 1 cup

Olive oil to cook: 1/2 tsp

Salt and pepper to taste/ herbs, optional

Method:

Heat a wok/saucepan, add the oil, add finely sliced onion, grated garlic and ginger and saute till onions are transparent; take off heat, put aside
Wash spinach well, chop or tear into pieces, boil; cook till most of the water that coats the leaves has evaporated; cool; blend in a mixer with grated mango, onion-garlic-ginger.
Return to fire, add 1 cup each of of milk and water, bring to boil; once boiled, reduce heat, simmer. Stir, add in pepper, add salt, (add herbs if wanted) simmer for a couple of minutes more, remove from flame, serve hot.

Garnish with sour cream or butter; serve with toasted bread or by itself.

Note:

The mango added a tangy twist to the spinach soup; you can remove the mango and replace with 150 gm peas/carrots, lightly sauteed when blending. You can also opt to leave a few peas or pieces of carrot whole in the soup, if you so desire.

Please feel free to tweak the recipe (for 4 serves, you would need two bunches of spinach, quantities for other ingredients remain unchanged); some might want to blend the spinach before cooking, but that can at times allow the bitterness of spinach leaves to seep through. Milk gives it a unique flavor, almost cream like consistency. Pls do note that if using milk, salt should be added last.

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Indian Cuisine: Veges, fruits, spices, preparations -Indian and English names

Quite some time back (about 6 years, to be precise) I contributed recipes and notes to a healthy cooking group over at http://www.Care2.com. Just migrating some of the stuff here, mainly, English and Indian ingredient names. The lists below are not exhaustive, by any means.

A rudimentary explanation of certain Indian dishes/basics:

Biryanis: an exquisite oven preparation of rice layered with meats/vegetables, herbs and seasonings

Kormas (also curry): a spicy meat or vegetable preparation, usually with a little thick gravy

Kebabs/tikkas: meat and vegetables marinated and cooked in small pieces on a skewer in a tandoor or on the tava or grill

Dals: preparation made from a variety of grams (whole and shelled), lentils and pulses

Pulao: preparation made from fine Basmati rice, usually has vegetables pieces or (meat/chicken) cooked with it. Usually served accompanied by a Raita.

Tandoor: an oven made out of mud and heated by a slow charcoal fire (you do get the gas and electric versions now, obviously they are not made out of mud, but stainless steel)

Naan: Breads made in the tandoor using maida; common ones are the plain naan, butter naan (with butter applied on top); garlic naan, pudina (mint) naan and many other combinations

Roomali roti: a round shaped bread usually cooked on the reverse side of the tava, made from maida (refined flour) usually had with meats or served as a wrap around kebabs

Tandoori roti: Bread usually made out of aata (whole wheat flour, though these days, it is made from maida as well) cooked in the tandoor

Parantha: bread made out of whole wheat flour or maida, cooked on the tava, with generous helpings of butter/ghee to roast it; can be made plain or with stuffing (potato, Cauliflower, radish, peas, paneer, egg, mutton/chicken)

Tava: girdle, usually made out of iron, these days they come in anodised and non-stick versions, too

Masala: a combination of dry spices or wet ones like ginger, garlic, onion, chillies and/or tomato paste

Herbs/Seasonings/Spices

  1. Saunf (moti) : Aniseed
  2. Bari elaichi: Black cardamoms
  3. Kali mirch: Black Pepper
  4. Laung: Cloves
  5. Shahi jeera: Caraway seeds
  6. Bhuna jeera: Roasted, ground cumin seeds
  7. Rai: mustard seeds
  8. Kalonji: Onion seeds
  9. Jaiphal: Nutmeg
  10. Javitri: Mace
  11. Jeera: Cumin seeds
  12. Dhaniya: Corriander
  13. Haldi: Turmeric
  14. Dalchini: Cinnamon
  15. Kasoori methi: Dry fenugreek
  16. Til: Sesame seeds
  17. Safed mirch: White Pepper
  18. Choti elaichi: Green cardamoms
  19. saunf: Fennel
  20. Sirka: Vinegar
  21. Pudina: Mint
  22. Lasun/lasan: Garlic
  23. Adrak: Ginger
  24. Anardana: pommegranate seeds (dried)
  25. Hing: Asafoetida
  26. Meethi neem ke patte: Curry leaves
  27. Gur: Jaggery
  28. Tej patta: Bay leaves
  29. Khus: Poppy seeds
  30. Amchoor: Dried Mango Powder
  31. Sondh: Dried Ginger powder
  32. Nariyal: Coconut
  33. Imli: Tamarind

Vegetables

  1. Aloo/batata: Potato
  2. Bund Gobi: Cabbage
  3. Gajar: Carrots (the pink/red variety is preferred up north)
  4. Hari saijan ki phalli: drumsticks
  5. Jimikand (suran): Yam
  6. Kadoo: Pumpkin (squash)
  7. Khira(kakdi): Cucumber
  8. Lauki, Dhoodhi: Squash Family
  9. Mooli: Radish (two basic varieties, the long white ones, and the small pink turnip-like ones)
  10. Methi: Fenugreek leaves
  11. Phool gobi: Cauliflower
  12. Pyaaj/Kaanda: Onion
  13. Tamatar: Tomato
  14. Fransi beans: French Beans
  15. Shimla mirch: Capsicum (green bell peppers)
  16. Pahari bund gobi: Purple/red cabbage
  17. Makkai (bhutta) Corn (maize)
  18. Kamal kakdi/bhey: Lotus stem
  19. Baingan: Brinjal/Aubergine
  20. Bhindi: Lady Finger/Okra
  21. Palak: Spinach
  22. Shalgam: Turnip
  23. Sarson:  Mustard Leaves
  24. Hara Pyaaz: Spring Onions
  25. Sem: Runner beans

Fruits

  1. Kela: Banana
  2. Aam: Mango (at least 50 major varieties)
  3. Amrood/peru: Guava (pink and white)
  4. Tarbooj/kalingar: Water melon (deep pink/red)
  5. Kharbooja: Melon (white)
  6. Phut: Honey melon (orange)
  7. Seb: Apple (at least 10 major varieties, ofcourse many more are hybrids)
  8. Angur: Grapes (green and purple)
  9. Sitaphal/Sharifa: Custard Apple
  10. Annanas: Pineapple
  11. Chikoo: Chikoo
  12. Aadhoo: Peach
  13. Khumani: Apricots
  14. Aamla: Indian Gooseberry
  15. Ber: Indian Berry (2 common variety, red/orange small, big and yellow)
  16. Karaunda: Currant (red sour)
  17. Santara: Orange
  18. Narangi: Mandarin/Chinese Orange
  19. Mosambi: SweetLime
  20. Galgal/Chakotra: Gapefruit
  21. Papita: Papaya
  22. Nimbu: Lemon
  23. Ganna: Sugar Cane
  24. Bel: Indian Passion fruit
  25. Nashpaati: Pear (melt-in-mouth variety)
  26. Naakhe/Naakh: Another variety of pear-green not too soft or creamy
  27. Kaamrang: Star fruit
  28. Kadhal (Ripe): Jackfruit
  29. Shehtood: Indian mulberry (purple, dot like clusters)
  30. Anjir: Figs (in fruit form is greenish-purple in color)
  31. Singara/Singhara: Water Chestnut (purple-green thick skin with about 4 spines/thorns-heart shaped-creamish inside)

Dry Fruit (nuts and company)

  1. Badam: Almonds
  2. Kaju: Cashew nut
  3. Akhrot: Walnut
  4. Kishmish: Raisins
  5. Manakka/Sultanas: Big black raisins
  6. Khumanis: Dried apricot
  7. Anjir: Figs (dried is blackish-purple)
  8. Khajoor: Dates
  9. Moongphalli (in Mah/Guj (those from Baruch in Gujarat are famous): also known as Seeng/SeengDana): Groundnuts/peanut
  10. Pista: Pistachio

Flours

  1. Besan:Gram flour (made out of Bengal Gram)
  2. Aata: Wheat flour (whole) used for chapattis, puris
  3. Makkai ka aata: Maize flour (not to be confused with the refined version of corn flour, that is used as a thickening agent for soups and icecreams)
  4. Jowar and Bajra: Classified as millets (notably used in Rajasthan, and traditional Maharastrian cuisine)
  5. Maida: (also Self raising flour) refined flour (used for cakes and the like, for bhaturas, luchis (small puri like-made in bengali home typically seved with sweet bengal gram) samosas, naan (tandoor baked bread), etc
  6. Sooji/rawa: Semolina
  7. Rice Flour: (different variety of rice are used) used for idlis & dosais

For more information on multi-lingual names for edible Indian plants, pls browse across to the Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multilingual_list_of_edible_plants_used_in_Indian_cuisine

Chicken with Olives (curd-based marinade)

Chicken with Olives (curd-based marinade)

Chicken with Olives

I used to make non-veg dishes on a regular basis earlier, but am quite tardy now. This is a chicken dish I used to make often earlier. Hope you enjoy it.

The trick with marinading meats is the time and the marinade; chicken needs no more than 10 hrs marinade, esp a curd-based one; of these, 1 hr to be outside the fridge. Additionally, take marinaded chicken out of fridge and bring to room temperature at least 1 hr before cooking. Don’t take cold chicken directly into heated pan.

Wash and clean chicken, if using frozen chicken, take out in advance and thaw. Cut into pieces, boneless is preferable for this dish. Once chicken is ready, prick with a fork or make light cuts with a sharp knife on the pieces, this will help the marinade to soak in.

Ingredients:

Chicken, marinade, oil for cooking (about 2 tsp), green olives (10-12 whole); cumin seeds: 1 tsp, salt to taste

For the marinade:

Low fat curd: 300-350 gm
Onions: 2 medium sized, cut,
Garlic: 4 cloves, peeled, chopped
Ginger 1″: peeled cut
Tomato: 1 medium sized chopped
Garam masala: 1tsp /or 1 1/2 tsp (depending on taste)
Red Chili powder: 1/2 tsp; green chillies:  2  (i used jalapenos instead of green chillies)
Oil: 1/4th tsp oil (i used olive oil)
mix all the above and grind/blend in the mixer, add salt to taste

Method:

Use chicken pieces which have been pricked with a fork, place in a pan big enough, pour out marinade on top, coat, mix ensure all pieces are covered, cover pan, allow to stay 1 hr outside, then refrigerate.

Do not use entire marinade, keep about 1/2 cup aside for cooking.

The next day (or after the 8-10 hrs are complete) remove marinaded chicken from the fridge, allow to return to room temperature (will take about 1 to 1.5 hr)

Take a pressure cooker, place on flame, heat, add some whole cumin seeds, allow to roast without oil, once seeds turn brown, add in the oil (1 tsp). Now add the chicken pieces in,  do not add the marinade left in the pan into the cooker, pls discard. Once chicken pieces have been added to the cooker, cook on high flame for about 3-min, stirring occasionally, then lower flame and allow chicken to roast till you see oil separating from the chicken.

Whenever you find the mixture going too dry and sticking to the pressure cooker, spoon some of the kept aside marinade and cook. Add olives. Continue spooning marinade and roasting until chicken is tender to touch and knife/spoon goes through the piece. If any of the kept aside marinade is left, pour it in (should not be after you have spooned it in for roasting), allow to simmer for about 2-min more.

Add about 1/2 glass or standard cup of water to the chicken, increase flame, bring to boil. Check to see salt is sufficient, place pressure cooker lid, allow to steam, once steam is out place control/weight. Cook on high heat until the first whistle, turn down heat after whistle and cook for 7-10 minutes; turn off gas, allow to cool naturally.

Serve hot garnished with freshly chopped coriander with rotis or buns or bread. This does not have too much of gravy, so may not combine well with rice.

Coming up next, chicken cooked with wine 🙂

Cabbage with Capsicum

Nothing earth shattering about this combo, just making the dull cabbage a lil more interesting.

Ingredients:

Cabbage small: washed, finely sliced

Capsicum: 1 medium, washed, finely diced

garlic: 2 cloves, finely diced or grated

Salt to taste; red chili powder and coriander powder: 1/4 tsp each

Sweet neem (curry patta) leaves: 4-5 (if fresh, finely chopped, if dry crush)

Mustard seeds: 1/4 tsp

Method:

Place a wok/kadhai on flame; sprinkle in mustard seeds, allow to roast till seeds crackle, add the curry patta, roast for 1/2 min. Add garlic, roast for another 1/2 min till garlic turns light brown. Add sliced cabbage and capsicum, add the dry masala (leaving salt aside), stir well, drizzle the oil, stirring well. Allow to cook on high flame for 1 min, then turn flame low, stir gently, allow to cook for 2 mins. Add salt, stir and allow to cook for another 2-3 mins on low heat. Turn off heat.

Serve with rotis/chawal (rice) as a side dish.

Chatpata Baby Potatoes

Baby potatoes are in season; I remember mom making them in their jackets as a vegetable with the main meal, of course for hungry kids, they did well as fillings between slices of bread.

Ingredients:

Baby potatoes: 250-300 gm

Cumin seeds whole: 1 tsp

Cumin/coriander powder: 1/2 tsp each

Roasted cumin seed powder: 1/2 tsp

Garam masala: 1/4th tsp

Red Chili Powder: 1/4th tsp

Amchoor: 1/2 tsp

oil: 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Method:

Wash baby potatoes thoroughly under running water, scrubbing gently if required; place in pressure cooker, add water to cover, place pressure cooker on flame and cook on high flame until 1st whistle, turn flame to simmer, cook for another 2-3 mins, turn off flame.

Once pressure cooker has cooled down, open, drain water, allow potatoes to breathe awhile, then halve. Set aside. Place a wok or kadhai on flame, spoon in whole cumin seeds, allow to roast and crackle. Then add in cumin and coriander powder, add 1/4th tsp oil, allow masala to roast, then add in halved potatoes, garam masala, roasted cumin seed powder, red chili powder and the remaining oil, stir gently to allow potatoes to be coated with masala. Lower heat and continue roasting, turning ever so gently (or if you prefer toss). Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then add in the salt, continue to roast, tossing/stirring gently. Add amchoor, stir in fully, allow to roast for another 2mins on low flame, turn off flame.

Can be served as a side dish, as starters, or used as filling for sandwiches. If serving as a starter, you may want to sprinkle juice of half a lime before serving.

Dhudhi-wali Dal

A sunday lunch

Was speaking to one of my team members earlier today; asked her how her cooking was coming along, since she hadn’t cooked before marriage and now has to. Struck me then that some simple recipes may help people like her. Also, this dal-dhoodhi combination is regularly appreciated – thought i would share how i make it:

Ingredients:

Channa Dal: 1 katori (washed well and soaked at least 30 mins in advance)

oil for cooking: 1/4 tsp

Onion: 1 finely sliced; garlic 2 cloves, finely diced; tomato: 1 grated

Garlic: 2 cloves, finely diced

Green chillies: 1 roughly chopped

Haldi (turmeric): 1/4 tsp, red chili powder: a pinch, ground coriander & cumin: 1/4tsp; salt to taste.

Dhudhi (lauki/ghia): about 250-300 gm, peeled and diced <http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/vegetables/lauki.html&gt;

Water: 2 katoris (i usually add an approximation, covering the contents)

Garnish:

Fresh coriander: a small bunch, well washed, finely chopped

Method:

Place a pressure cooker on the gas, spoon in 1/2 tsp of whole cumin seeds, roast till seeds start crackling, turning brown, add onion-garlic, roast further until onion turns light pink; add grated tomato, roast further until slightly sticky and dry, add the ground cumin and coriander, add diced dhudhi, roast for another 2-mins. Add the washed/strained dal, stir in with the roasted dhudhi-onion-garlic combo, add the green chillies, drizzle the oil on this, stir and allow to roast on medium flame for another 2 mins.

Add water, stir, add in haldi, red chili powder, salt. Stir, turn up heat, allow to simmer, once bubbles appear close pressure cooker lid, wait for steam to start escaping from the snout, add control/weight. Allow 1 whistle on full heat, turn down flame to simmer and cook for another 5-7 mins. Turn off flame, allow cooker to open naturally.

To serve, garnish with fresh coriander finely chopped can be had with rotis or chawal (rice).

Fruit Medley

It is hot and sweltering, humid and sticky, I want something long and cool to drink, but don’t want cold coffee or a milkshake, would be too heavy pre-lunch. So, a fruit medley: a couple of fruits, a dash of black salt and some ice cubes.

The result is a long tall cool glass of a lovely diffused orange, not overly sweet and easy to make.

Ingredients:

1 medium sized orange

Melon ripe (i used honey dew): 2 slices

Watermelon: 1 slice

Cold water: 100 ml

Ice cubes: 4-5 crushed

Black salt to taste

Method:

Peel, de-seed and dice melon and watermelon, peel, de-seed orange, put all in a juicer/blender with filtering mesh, add crushed ice, salt and juice/blend.

If your blender does not have a filtering mesh, you may need to strain concoction. Pour into a tall glass, add additional ice cubes, if wanted, sit back and enjoy 🙂

The one above is a simple combination of an apple+orange+black salt+100ml Cold water. Method as above. Cheers 🙂

Yet another summer salad (this time with Avocado)

Yup, I have an overwhelming fondness for salads! Come summer, when appetites seem to go out of the window for a long, long stroll, greens and salad vegetables are so attractive 🙂

Ingredients:

Avocado: 1 medium sized, halved, pulp extracted and diced fine

Capsicum: 1 medium sized, sliced lengthwise finely

Onion/Cucumber/Tomato: 1 medium sized each; onions finely sliced, cucumber and tomato, cubed.

Leek: 1 sliced into medium sized rings

Lettuce small: 1 finely sliced

Low fat Cottage Cheese (there we go again): 50 gm finely cubed

For the dressing:

Red wine/balsamic vinegar: 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste; Pepper a pinch

1 orange

Method:

Assemble all the salad ingredients in a bowl, toss to mix them well, add dressing ingredients in the following order: vinegar, salt, pepper; toss once more to allow dressing to percolate into salad ingredients.

Halve the orange, and squeeze juice over assembled salad, toss once more, refrigerate for 20-30 mins, to allow dressing to seep through.

Serve with lightly toasted bread.

Avocado is an acquired taste, you may replace it with a fruit, say apple, or add mushrooms.

Basic Sandwich

My apologies for not having put up any more posts. Currently, recovering from a foot inflammation {that precludes standing for too long; under medication, it is returning to normal behavior 😉 }

Heading to the kitchen one evening, I discovered that communications between me and the maid seemed to have gone haywire: the desired vegetable had not been readied for cooking. Since, foot still seemed to have a mind of its own, recourse had to be taken to an easier but equally filling and hopefully nutritious dinner.

Ingredients:

Brown Bread: 3/4 slices (depending on your hunger)

Olive oil: for the toasting

Low Fat cottage Cheese: 50 gm

1 each medium onion/tomato and cucumber: finely sliced rings

Green olives: 3 halved; Jalapenos: 6 slices

Method:

Place a girdle (tava) on the flame, allow to heat mildly, sprinkle olive oil onto the bread slices and toast lightly. Take girdle off flame. (If you find the slices too dry, you can layer with a dip/spread.) Cut the paneer into medium thickness slices. Onto one slice of toasted bread, lay out the onion rings, followed by cucumber, lay on the paneer slices, layer with tomato, add olives/jalapenos, sprinkle salt with a very light hand, add pepper if desired, cover with another slice. Layer again as the first slice, here replace the cucumber layer with tomato and tomato with cucumber, finishing with olives-jalapeno combo. Top with another slice of bread. My sandwich was a 3-slice one. Drive a toothpick through the center and grill lightly. You can also use the sandwich maker for this. Serve hot with sauce or dip. Serves only 1.

Don’t begin the layer with the tomato, your sandwich will fall apart faster than you can say hello! (tomatoes give off water once cut, this seeps into the bread and makes it soggy) If you want to make this sandwich for later consumption, slice tomatoes, lay out on a muslin cloth and gently squeeze excess water out, then use in layering.

Sorry, folks, by the time this was assembled, i was ravenous, forgot to take a snap 🙂