Monday, July 07, 2014

Keerai Sambar - Spinach Sambar


One of good things we had going during our short stay in Madras, was the proximity to good restaurants. It was also the first time I had paneer butter masala and chhole with kadi patta in them but let's not go there! :) (Though not autehntic, I didn't mind it btw) One of the restaurants, called Grand Foods, also sold fresh masala powders. Their sambar, kolambu and rasam powders were the authentic Tamil version. (They also made the yummiest paddus (guntpungulu) loaded with ghee - so, so good!!). Here I have the Aachi sambar powder for when I want a Tamil sambar. Our Huli is similar to sambar but there are differences in the ingredients in the powder (here is the huli pudi) as well as the fact that we use jaggery and coconut in ours and is thicker.




Ingredients:

1 big bunch spinach (or amaranth greens), chopped
1/2 cup toor dal
1 medium tomato, quartered
1 tbsp homemade sambar powder (or Aachi brand)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate/paste
Salt to taste

For the tadka:
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
A few pinches of asafoetida
1 green chili, split
a few curry leaves

Method:

Pressure cook toor dal in 3 cups of water, along with chopped spinach, tomato and turmeric powder. Whisk a little to blend the dal and the tomato.
In a pot, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and allow to pop. Add the remaining tadka ingredients and saute for 10 seconds.
Add the cooked dal, sambar powder, tamarind paste and salt and bring to a boil.
Serve hot with rice, topped with ghee.

A quick look at some of the lunches from last week. The amazing corn-black bean salad and the Karnataka style vegetable pulav. Plus a black bean burger with cheese (and mayo!) but hey, I skipped fries and I had roasted brussel sprouts on the side!





Monday, June 30, 2014

"Eating Better" Updates


Since last week, when I started watching my food intake, things have been going pretty well. All lunches have been healthy and vegetable heavy - no fried stuff at all. Had friends over for dinner one night - managed to not overeat. Had a birthday party last evening - ended up having two slices of cake though (I'm like the general dumpyard for the food that my kids don't eat - "Love ya, Mom. Here, some more cake for you!" and I don't even like sweets that much!)

Did I mention my office cafeteria generally rocks? Here is my lunch from today. Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken with roasted potatoes and broccoli on the side. Yummilicious! (The Indian in me would have sneaked in some red pepper flakes in it though!)




And here are some more pics from last week. Chicken Salad on Wheat and Bhindi Bhaji and Stuffed Eggplant curry with rotis on the one off day when I was home for lunch. For those, like me, who thought pickle had zero nutrition, check this - let's not talk sodium though :)





Have a great week ahead!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eating Better Challenge 2


I’ve been MIA for a while now. I’ve fallen off the tracks in many ways – including food and exercising. I had been doing great on both counts but once I had the excuse of family visiting, I have not seen the face of my gym since (almost 2 months now!). Another excuse for not exercising regularly – I signed up for a group dance for the Indian Independence day celebrations here. It involves practice sessions 4 times a week – perfect reason, right? I do burn some calories during practice – so there! I may have to do some exaggerated moves though, just to break into a sweat and really get some good going! I love to dance but this is the first time I’m participating in something like this – a group, on stage etc. The group dynamics is mighty interesting. I’ll be wearing a lehnga choli after 15 years – God help the folks who have to see me in one!

Now I have to fix my food choices and stress eating habit. I once did a Eating Better Challenge on myself when I was in a similar situation and that got me back on track. So for the next few days (hopefully, weeks), expect to see pictures of food, mainly lunch pics. I may make them wordless posts too – better chances of me posting regularly then.

So to kick start “Eating Better Challenge 2”, here’s my lunch from yesterday – mesclun greens, spinach, beets, peppers, carrots, dried cranberries with pasta salad and black beans, dressed with raspberry vinaigrette. (Our cafeteria had a great salad bar!) I will have to work on skipping shredded cheese and croutons…but gosh, do I love them!


PS: Wanna join in?

Monday, May 05, 2014

Breakfast Quesadilla


Had this in my drafts – perfect post for Cinco de Mayo. I must have mentioned this umpteen times but will do so again. I love breakfast stuff for dinner! I do, I do! It makes perfect sense too. Most weekdays, there’s hardly any time to even think of breakfast that requires preparing. It helps greatly that kids like cereal too. In fact, given a choice between cereal and dosas, Miss M chooses cereal! It’s a different story with the fellow, of course! He will happily consume idlis and dosas and akki rottis everyday! He does like cereals too though, thankfully.

So anyway, this breakfast quesadilla was another of my weeknight dinners. It can easily turn to a breakfast burrito too, with even less effort. The kids love sausage and I’ve included here but it’s easily skippable or can be substituted with bacon. I make it more gooey with cheese for the kids.




Ingredients:

4 8” flour/corn tortillas
6 eggs, scrambled
3 turkey sausage patties, fully cooked and diced (optional)
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small bunch spinach, chopped (optional)
Taco sauce
Salsa for dipping or filling (optional)
Oil for spraying
A dab of butter for scrambling eggs
Salt for seasoning


Method:


Heat a small skillet and fry the onions, peppers and spinach for a couple minutes. Keep aside.
In the same skillet, scramble eggs with a little bit of butter, season with salt and keep aside.
Heat a griddle or a skillet over medium heat. Spray with non stick spray. Place a tortilla over the skillet and sprinkle one half of the tortilla with cheese. Then top with scrambled eggs, onion, peppers, spinach and drizzle with taco sauce. Cover with the remaining half and press down.
Let the bottom side of the tortilla cook for about 2 minutes on medium heat, until crispy. Spray on the top and flip to cook the other side. Cook until crispy brown.
Transfer to a cutting board to cool, then slice and serve with salsa (or guacamole and sour cream) on the side.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Of Kids and Pets



I was in the middle of a long post when I lost it - the data, I mean! :) I do not have the patience right now to re-type. But I don't want to go MIA for too long too.So I leave you with this picture of M and S playing with “their” dog. This is my neighbor Chloe, whom they both call their own. Miss M loves dogs. She is fearless when it comes to dogs and that scares me. Not all dogs are friendly, but she tries to pet all of them anyway. She drops everything to run down to play with Chloe, when she sees her in the backyard. S on the other hand, is a bit of a scaredy cat – likes to admire them from far usually and make brave statements like "Chole is my dog. She loves me more than Akka". This picture was taken the first day he went up to Chloe to pet her and found out there was nothing to be scared of. I am certainly happy to have Chloe as my neighbor. The kids get to play and sorta have a pet, while I don’t end up with the responsibility of taking care of it. Great, na?


Friday, March 28, 2014

Bedmi Poori with Aloo Sabzi


This is an Old Delhi specialty – pooris made with wheat and dal, with a side of a spicy potato curry. It is very heavy on the stomach as ghee is used very liberally here. And as if that isn’t enough, it is usually accompanied with a sweet dish. For breakfast, no less! I had it for the first time in the bylanes of Old Delhi while visiting with a friend and it was one of those unforgettable things. You know, the kind where you can actually feel the taste of it just thinking of it.

The first few years of my life were spent in Delhi, though I have no recollection of the time then. Visited again in my early 20s with my friend A, when my sister and BIL lived there. We had a blast then. Wasn’t much of a foodie back then. It’d be a totally different story now. Our thing then was shopping - shopped like crazy...that is the thing I remember most vividly about our trip. We bought all sorts of things, required or not. My friend was great at bargaining, something I totally suck at. So at Palika Bazaar, we both were drooling over these beautiful leather bags. The vendor quotes Rs 750 each for them. She starts her bargaining at Rs. 100! I was gaping when I heard her. But guess what, we got those bags for Rs. 150 each! That was first I saw her in action. Since then, anytime we shopped at Commercial Street in Bangalore, we all knew to take A with us to get fair prices! I caught up with an old college friend of mine, V, that Delhi visit too.  He chaperoned us around Delhi one day - some touristy spots, some local food and shopping (I recently found a pic of the three of us from the Qutub Minar visit). He was the fun localite friend that one should have in every trip.

This recipe comes from V’s wife, M, who loves to cook and has turned her passion into a catering venture in Delhi - MV's Vyanjan. How neat to pursue your passion, right?  I know many folks, including the spouse, that just don’t dig Facebook. He does not even log in for months! I am the opposite. I have caught up with so many friends from the past and re-connected with relatives through FB. Some relationships have become closer now that we are in some way a part of each other’s lives. Well, long story short...I caught up with my old collegemate, V, on FB and through him, M. Even though we have not met, M has become a good friend too. You know how easy it is to connect with some people sometimes...it was that way with her. Her recipe for Bedmi puri was spot on and the aloo sabzi, spicy and delicious! Here is how I made it, following her recipe.



Ingredients:

1 cup urad dal
2.5 cups wheat four
2 tbsp sooji
1 tsp grated ginger
½ tsp each jeera, ajwain and saunf (cumin, carom and fennel seeds)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
A few dashes of hing (asafetida)
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method:

Soak urad dal for 2 hours and grind coarsely. Mix with the remaining ingredients and make a slightly stiff dough with some water. Add more flour if it is sticky. Knead for a couple minutes. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Heat oil for deep frying. To test for the correct temperature, drop a small bit of dough into the oil. If it rises immediately, the oil is ready.
Knead the dough again and make them into small balls the size of a small lemon. Roll out into discs, not too thin.
After the oil test, drop them in the hot oil one by one until the puff up. Turn over and let fry for a few seconds more.
Drain on a paper towel.

For the Aloo Sabzi

4 large potatoes, boiled and peeled
1 tsp cayenne/red chili powder
1 tsp jeera powder (ground cumin)
1 tsp dhania powder (ground coriander)
½ tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kasuri methi

Tadka:
1 tbsp (or more) ghee
1/2 tsp jeera (cumin)
¼ tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
A few pinches hing
Salt to taste

Method:

Chop the boiled potatoes into thick chunks and mash 2-3 chunks.
Mix all the spice powders in one cup of water.
Heat ghee in a pan and do the tadka.
Add the spiced water and bring to a boil.
Add the potatoes, both the chopped and the mashed ones.
Mix in the kasuri methi and salt to taste.
Cook until you see ghee floating on the top.

Note: The consistency of this curry is runny. It does tend to thicken up with time (like in the pic). 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Veggie Crescent Dough Pizza


My baking only involves pre-made dough - frozen or refrigerated kinds. I usually have a few cans of croissant, dinner rolls and/or biscuit dough lying in my fridge. When I saw two cans of Pillsbury crescent about to expire, I turned them to four personal pizzas. And I must say, fresh off the oven, I liked them much more than with refrigerated pizza dough. I used leftovers from a fajita dinner the previous night - grilled onion, green pepper, jalapenos, cheddar - for topping.


Ingredients:

2 cans crescent dough
1/2 cup pizza sauce or marinara
1 medium onion, cut
1 small green pepper, cut
1 jalapenos, de-seeded and cut
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar (or mozzarella or any cheese of your choice)

Method:

Heat oven to 375F. Grease a cookie sheet. In a skillet, heat oil and cook onions and both the peppers until lightly browned.
Unroll dough and separate each can of dough into two rectangles on the sheet. Firmly press to seal perforations.
Spread sauce on each pizza, top evenly with cooked vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 13-15 minutes until crust is golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie cheet and serve warm.