Couscous with Avocado & Chickpea

Couscous with Avocado & Chickpea

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Couscous with Avocado & Chickpea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel that the beauty of couscous lies in its sheer versatility. It can be used in lieu of rice as a base for stews, it can go in stuffing vegetables, it can be turned into a pilaf  or used in a salad.

Although I haven’t explored another option, I am sure that couscous would play a relevant role in some puddings.

here’s another couscous salad-y recipe from my repertoire which can be had either warm or cold

Couscous with Chickpea & AvocadoI had two heavyweights by way of chickpea and avocado and wanted to pair them with an ingredient which would compliment them, complete the meal while being light. This is where couscous came into the picture.

The recipe is dead easy, specially if you are using canned chickpeas.

If you plan to soak and boil chickpea to make this, don’t throw away the water in which you boil them. You can use that water to cook couscous with (this is what I did).

Ingredients

1 Cup dry couscous

1/2 Cup cooked chickpea

1 Avocado, ripe

2 Onions

1 Head of garlice

10-12 Cherry tomato

1 Red Pepper

1 Tablespoon raisins

3-4 Dry birds eye chilli

2 Tablespoons pumpkin/sunflower seeds

1 Teaspoon paprika

1 Tablespoon mixed herbs or seasoning of your choice*

10-12 Basil leaves

3-4 Spring onion, white part only

1 Tablespoon oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Peel, wash and chop the onion.
  2. Peel and slice the garlic.
  3. Wash the cherry tomato.
  4. Wash, de-core, de-seed and chop the pepper.
  5. Wash and chop the basil leaves.
  6. Slice the spring onion.
  7. Dry roast the seeds till they turn a couple of shades dark.
  8. Heat oil in a frying pan.
  9. Add the dry birds eye chilli and raisins.
  10. Stir for about 30 seconds on low heat till the raisins plump up.
  11. Throw in the chopped onion, garlic and red pepper along with whole cherry tomato, paprika and salt to taste.
  12. Add the mixed herbs.
  13. Stir well, cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  14. Uncover, add the chickpea and basil, cover and cook for 5 more minutes.
  15. When the vegetables are cooked, take the pan off the heat.
  16. Prepare couscous according to instructions on the packet.
  17. Tip the cooked vegetables into the couscous and mix well.
  18. Transfer to a serving plate.
  19. Scatter with chopped spring onion and toasted seeds.
  20. Peel and chop the avocado.
  21. Place it on top of the spring onion and serve.

Note:

  1. In terms of seasoning, I used Laura Santini Umami Paste No. 5, the Mediterranean variant. You can use mixed herbs or any seasoning of your choice.
  2. You can use either smoked or plain paprika. I used the smoked one which gave the dish a nice aroma and a touch of sweetness.

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Finger Millet Pancake

Rice-free Ragi Grain Uttapam

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ragi Grain Uttapam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a long time, my knowledge and appreciation of South Indian cuisine was confined to non-vegetarian fare like Mangalorean seafood gassi or Chettinad chicken or Kerala beef fry.

All that changed when I embarked on my weight loss journey and reassessed my approach to food, ingredients and cooking.

I am not saying that non-vegetarian food is bad or leads to obesity. On the contrary, fish and lean meat are very good for us. In my books, no food category or diet is bad; conversely, all food is good provided it is cooked or consumed in a healthy way and eaten in moderation.

As part of my new South Indian food discovery, at home I have made idli, dosa, paniyaram and idiyappam. So today’s recipe of uttapam is first for me and for my kooky readers.

The best way to describe uttapam is to call it a pancake with toppings or an Indian pizza without cheese (although nowadays you do get cheese uttapam).

Finger Millet PancakeThe batter is the same as that for dosa but while dosa tends to be thin and crisp (although not always), uttapam is thicker and spongier.

Traditionally, the batter is made of black gram (urad dal) and rice. In my kooky (aka, healthy) version, I have done away with rice completely. Again, I have nothing against rice but, as far as possible, I try to find a substitute and, fortunately, this recipe works perfectly well without rice.

The main ingredient in the batter is whole finger millet (also known as ragi or nachni) with a bit of black gram and some instant oats. I also added grated carrots in the batter to up the nutritional content (cooked carrots are healthier than raw)

The topping includes onion, tomato, green pepper and fresh coriander. So two uttapams will provide you with your 5-a-day.

yummy and satisfying is how I would describe these pancakes

This recipe does call for some advance planning. For example, if you plan to have this for dinner, plan as follows:

Night 1: soak finger millet and black gram

Morning 2: grind the millet and gram and leave to ferment

Now at this stage, depending on how warm the weather is where you are, the batter may ferment by Evening 2. But if it is cooler, you may have to let the batter sit for longer period (so that it can ferment) in order to cook uttapams on Day 3.

The actual cooking procedure is straightforward.

Goes well with coconut chutney and/or sambar.

Ingredients

1/2 Cup ragi grains

2 Tablespoons black gram (urad dal)

1 Teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 Large carrot

1 Large onion

2 Tomatoes

1 Green pepper

1/2 Cup fresh coriander

2 Green chillies

10-12 Curry leaves (optional)

2 Tablespoons instant oats

1-2 Teaspoons oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash and soak the finger millet, bengal gram and fenugreek seeds for 10 hours.
  2. Grind them in a food processor till smooth. Some of the finger millet grains may remain whole, that is okay. While grinding, add water judiciously. You want the batter to be of pouring consistency.
  3. Now leave the batter to ferment in a warm place. Make sure that the batter is sitting in a large pot (so that it has room to rise).
  4. Check the batter after 12 hours. If not fermented, leave it for 12 more hours.
  5. Once the batter is fermented (it will have risen and bubbles may also form on the surface), you are ready to make the uttapams.
  6. Wash and finely grate the carrots.
  7. Wash and chop the curry leaves (if using).
  8. Add the grated carrots, chopped curry leaves and instant oats to the batter along with a pinch of salt. Mix well and set aside for about 30 minutes while you prepare the vegetables. This will give the oats some time to get soaked.
  9. Peel, wash and finely chop the onion.
  10. Wash and finely dice the tomato.
  11. Wash and chop the coriander leaves.
  12. Wash, de-core, de-seed and finely chop the green pepper.
  13. Wash and finely slice the green chilli.
  14. Now divide the batter into two (I find it easier to separate them in two bowls).
  15. Put the chopped onion, tomato, green pepper, coriander and chilli in a mixing bowl.
  16. Add a pinch of salt and mix well.
  17. Divide this vegetable topping into two separate bowls as well.
  18. When you are ready to cook the uttapam, take a non-stick frying pan and put it on high heat.
  19. Once the pan is hot, reduce the heat, take one portion of the batter and spread it in the pan in a circular motion. Don’t pat it too thin.
  20. Spread one portion of the vegetable toppings and drizzle a little bit of oil around the uttapam,
  21. Cover and let the uttapam cook for about 10 minutes.
  22. Uncover and see if you can loosen the bottom of the uttapam with a spatula. If yes, flip it over. If no, let it cook for a couple of minutes longer before flipping over.
  23. Once you have flipped the uttapam, let the underside cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  24. Flip over one more time so now, again, you will have the topping side up.
  25. Remove to a serving plate and repeat with the second portion of the batter and topping.
  26. Enjoy hot.

Note:

  1. Fenugreek seeds are added to help with the fermentation process.

Savoury Aebleskiver of Split Chickpea, Cauliflower & Green Pea

Chana Dal Paniyaram with Cauliflower & Green Pea/Non-fried Dal Vada

  • Difficulty: easy
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Savoury Aebleskiver of Split Chickpea, Cauliflower & Green Pea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

This conversation between Alice and the Cat from Mr. Carroll’s ingenious book is my favourite.

When standing at a crossroad, it is best to let go, to just go with the flow and see how things pan out.

Today’s recipe is a result of this proverbial crossroad I reached while planning for it.

I had some cauliflower and green pea remaining after making the pohe. I had also not made use of my paniyaram pan for a while so thought of experimenting with non-fried pakoras using the remaining vegetables and split chickpea.

Had no idea what the end result would be like so imagine my surprise when the destination turned out to be familiar tasting dal vada (lentil pakora).

Paniyaram PanFor those who are not familiar with paniyaram or aebleskiver, here is some explanation. These are small, round balls made in a special pan which has holes.  These balls can be sweet or savoury.

The Dutch have a similar dish, Poffertjes and the Japanese have something called Takoyaki.

In all these, the concept is the same – batter poured in the holes of the pan and cooked over a stove. If you would like to try today’s recipe and don’t have a paniyaram pan, you can use an aebleskiver, a poffertjes or a takoyaki pan.

My kooky version of these savoury balls involve split chickpea, cauliflower, green pea and onions. So you are getting your 4 out of 5 of the day from these healthy, non-fried “pakoras” :-).

Savoury Aebleskiver of Split Chickpea, Cauliflower & Green Peadelicious with some hot sauce

Ingredients

1 Cup split chickpea (chana dal)

1 Tablespoon rice (optional)

1 Cup cauliflower

1 Cup green pea

1 Tablespoon fennel seeds

1 Tablespoon whole coriander seeds

1-2 Teaspoons whole black peppercorns

1 Teaspoon turmeric

10-15 Curry leaves (optional)

3-4 Green chilli

Fresh ginger, the size of your thumb

1-2 Teaspoons oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash and soak the split chickpea (and rice, if using) for 10 hours.
  2. Once the soaking time is up, peel, wash and chop the onion.
  3. Wash and chop the green chilli.
  4. Peel and chop the ginger.
  5. Chop and wash the cauliflower.
  6. Wash the green pea.
  7. Wash the curry leaves (if using).
  8. Drain the split chickpea. Reserve water.
  9. In a food processor, put the drained split chickpea, onion, green chilli, ginger, cauliflower, green pea, curry leaves, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric, black peppercorns and salt to taste.
  10. Using the pulse function, break up all the ingredients.
  11. Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved water to make a batter. Add more water if needed but cautiously. You want a thick (not watery) batter.
  12. Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl and check for salt.
  13. At this stage, you can leave the batter for a couple of hours or start making the savoury balls straight away.
  14. Heat the pan, lower the heat and add a drop of oil in each mould followed by a spoonful of batter.
  15. Again put a drop of oil on the top side of each ball.
  16. Cover and let the batter cook for 10 minutes.
  17. After 10 minutes, uncover and flip over the balls.
  18. Cook the other side, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes.
  19. Remove to a plate and serve hot.

Red Rice Flakes with Cauliflower & Green Pea

Red Rice Pohe with Cauliflower & Green Pea

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Red Rice Pohe with Cauliflower & Green Peas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it amazing that you can eat a particular food all your life not knowing how it is made?

One of the many advantages of food blogging is the number of new things I learn on a regular basis.

When I sit down to write a post, I like to look up information about the dish or its key ingredients on the internet. Although most times this research is retrospective – after the meal has been cooked and consumed – it is still useful to know and share with fellow kooky cooks.

today’s recipe is one such example of new learning

Rice flakes are also known as flattened rice or beaten rice or pohe. For convenience’s sake, I will refer to them as pohe in this post.

Pohe is a staple across India and in Bangladesh and Nepal. It can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.

Till now, I had assumed that pohe was nothing but unprocessed rice which was beaten or flattened. Not so.

According to LiveStrong, “Rice flakes undergo more processing than any other type of rice. Processing begins by parboiling to partially cook the rice via steaming, followed by a process of rolling, flattening and finally, dehydration. The result is “rice” with a soft, mushy texture when cooked and a taste so mild it borders on bland.”

So pohe are processed after all which explains why they cook so fast. Have just experienced one of those “doh” moments!

Previously, I have posted an unconventional pohe recipe so today, I would like to share a traditional Maharashtrian one (except for my kooky addition of cauliflower and green pea) and also a simple trick to avoid lumpy pohe.

A friend told me that to ensure that your pohe doesn’t clump while cooking, put them dry in a colander, give the colander a good shake to rid the pohe of any floury bits, rinse them in the same colander and let them drain. I have been cooking my pohe this way ever since and each flake stays separate.

Today’s recipe was made using red rice pohe but you can use white or brown pohe or even try it with leftover boiled rice.

The list of ingredients may seem long but this is one of those quick cook meals.

Ingredients

1 Cup dry pohe

1/2 Cup green pea

1/2 Cup chopped cauliflower (including leaves and stalk if tender)

2 Onions

10-15 Fresh curry leaves

1 Cup fresh coriander

2-3 Green chillies

A piece of fresh ginger the size of your thumb

2 Tablespoons grated coconut

1 Teaspoon mustard seeds

1 Teaspoon cumin seeds

1 Teaspoon asafoetida

1 Teaspoon turmeric powder

2 Tablespoons raw peanuts

Juice of a lime or lemon

1 Tablespoon oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Put the pohe in a colander. Give the colander a good shake and rinse the pohe under running water.
  2. Set aside and make sure there is enough space between the bottom of the colander and the kitchen platform for any excess water to drain away.
  3. Wash green pea and cauliflower.
  4. Peel, wash and finely chop the onion.
  5. Wash the curry leaves.
  6. Chop and wash the fresh coriander.
  7. Wash and finely slice the chilli.
  8. Peel, wash and grate the ginger.
  9. Heat oil in a wok-like pan.
  10. Lower the heat and add mustard seeds and once they start crackling, add cumin seeds.
  11. Next, add the asafoetida, peanuts and curry leaves.
  12. Stir for about a minute or so.
  13. Add the chopped onions, chilli and grated ginger.
  14. Sprinkle turmeric powder and salt to taste.
  15. Cover and cook on low flame for 5 to 7 minutes till the onion turns translucent.
  16. Add green pea, cauliflower and lemon juice.
  17. Once again, mix well, cover and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. At the end of this cooking stage, you want the cauliflower a little undercooked. It should have some bite to it because it will be cooking a bit more once the pohe have been added.
  18. Next, add the pohe, coriander and coconut to the vegetable mixture.
  19. Mix well, cover and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  20. Serve hot.

Note:

  1. You can adjust the quantity of green chilli and lemon juice according to personal preference.
  2. If you can’t get hold of fresh coconut, use dessicated coconut.

Salmon Fishcake With Oats & Quinoa

Salmon Fishcake With Oats & Quinoa

  • Difficulty: easy
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Salmon Fishcake With Oats & Quinoa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love all sorts of seafood and considering the fact that I live near a sea, it is kind of ironic that it has taken three months of blogging for fish to finely make an appearance on Kooky Cookyng.

The reality is that it is really difficult to find good quality seafood where I live and so I am not able to eat it as often as I would like to.

I have finally resorted to buying canned tuna and salmon in order to incorporate fish in my diet. So you can expect more fishy recipes in the future.

Salmon Fishcake With Oats & Quinoa UncookedToday’s salmon fishcake were made using John West pink salmon.

to give them a healthy twist, I replaced mashed potato with oats and quinoa

I also decided to incorporate some vegetables to up the nutritional value.

The fishcake were finally dusted in semolina as I didn’t have breadcrumbs.

Since I was also out of tartar sauce, I had these with some Colemans mustard and sriracha hot chili sauce (as can be seen in the photo above). Maybe a bit of an odd partnership but it totally worked.

You can also serve some steamed vegetables on the side if you like.

Ingredients

200 Grams cooked, deboned flesh of salmon

1/2 Cup quinoa

3 Tablespoons quick cooking oats

1 Egg

2 Onions

1 Head garlic

1 Yellow pepper

1/2 Cup peas

2-3 Red chilli (optional)

1  + 1 Teaspoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Semolina or breadcrumb for dusting

Method

  1. Make sure that the salmon flesh doesn’t have any bones.
  2. Cook the quinoa according to instructions on the packet. Cool and set aside
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, peel, wash and finely chop the onion.
  4. Peel and slice the garlic.
  5. Wash, de-core and de-seed the yellow pepper. Chop it finely.
  6. Wash the green peas.
  7. Wash and slice the chilli (if using).
  8. Heat one teaspoon of oil in a frying pan. Add the chopped onion, chilli (if using) and garlic. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  9. Uncover, throw in the yellow pepper and peas. Cover and cook for further 5 t o7 minutes till both are soft.
  10. Let this vegetable mixture cool down.
  11. Beat the egg.
  12. In a mixing bowl, combine the salmon, cooked quinoa, cooked vegetables, beaten egg and oats. You can use your hand or a spoon. I find it easier to mix with my hand since it gives me an idea as to whether the mixture is stiff enough to form balls.
  13. If you find that the mixture is too moist, add some more oats.
  14. Shape the cakes according to the size you like.
  15. Refrigerate them for a couple of hours. This will allow for the oats to absorb any excess moisture and for the fishcake to firm up a bit.
  16. When you are ready to cook them, dust them in semolina or breadcrumb.
  17. Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan, making sure that it is spread across the entire surface of the pan.
  18. When the oil is hot, gently place the cakes. Be careful that they don’t touch each other.
  19. Lower the heat and let them cook for about 20 minutes.
  20. Flip them over, again with gentle hands. I find a table knife better for this task than a spatula.
  21. Cook the other side for 20 to 25 minutes.
  22. Serve hot with wedges of lime/lemon and sauce of your choice.

Souffléd Aubergine Boats

Stuffed Aubergine Boats

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Souffléd Aubergine Boats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First off, a clarification. The black crust you see in the photo is not burnt soufflé but aubergine skin. I cooked these boats in a frying pan instead of baking them in an oven and had flipped them over to brown the top side which is when any residue skin of the aubergine from the pan got stuck to them.

I suppose I could have cooked the aubergine side for less amount of time to prevent the skin from getting charred but I got so engrossed in Steve Buscemi’s entrance second episode into the fourth series of The Sopranos that I cooked them a bit longer than needed. Honestly though, when you have two great talents like Mr. Buscemi and the late great Mr. Gandolfini sharing the screen space, for once, it is easy to forget the stove (at least, that’s what happened to me).

Coming to today’s recipe of souffléd aubergine boats, it was an experiment which I thought should work but was also aware that it may not. Specially because I was making these in a frying pan…

if you like aubergine and are fond of eggs, I think you would like these

They are surprisingly very light on the stomach and are good with some steamed vegetables (as you can tell from the photo, I had mine with french beans and sweetcorn).

If you plan to bake them in the oven, put them in an ovenproof dish and cook uncovered for about 40 minutes.

Ingredients

1 Medium sized aubergine

2 Onions

2 Tomatoes

1 Head of garlic

2-3 Red chillies

2-3 Fillets of anchovy in oil (optional)

2 Medium eggs

1 Tablespoon grated cheddar cheese

1 Tablespoon pine nuts

1 Teaspoon mixed herbs

1 + 1 Teaspoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Peel, wash and finely chop the onion.
  2. Wash and finely dice the tomato.
  3. Wash and finely slice the chilli.
  4. Peel and chop the garlic.
  5. Dry roast the pine nuts till they turn a couple of shades darker.
  6. Take a wide based frying pan and heat 1 teaspoon oil in it.
  7. Add the chopped onion, tomato, chilli, anchovies (if using) and salt to taste.
  8. Mix well, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  9. While the vegetables are cooking, get working on the aubergine.
  10. Wash it and slice it horizontally from the tip to the stem.
  11. Scoop out the flesh leaving 1/2 inch wall of aubergine skin.
  12. Finely chop the flesh and add it to the onion mixture along with the mixed herbs.
  13. Cover and let it cook for 5 minutes.
  14. Rub a little bit of salt inside the aubergine boats.
  15. Rub 1 teaspoon oil outside the aubergine boats. Set aside.
  16. Once the aubergine flesh and onion have cooked, take the pan off the heat and let this mixture cool down.
  17. After the mixture is completely cool, add the toasted pine nuts and cheese. Mix well.
  18. Now gently beat the two eggs and fold them into the aubergine mixture.
  19. Combine everything together and stuff the aubergine boats with this mixture.
  20. Heat a frying pan and place the aubergine boats, skin side down.
  21. Cover, lower heat and let the aubergine cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  22. Uncover and if you see that the eggs have set and the soufflé risen, flip the boats over gently.
  23. Cook the other side for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  24. Flip over once again so that the soufflé side is up.
  25. Serve hot.

Split Green Gram with Dill Leaves

Moong Dal with Dill Leaves

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Split Green Gram with Dill Leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, my laptop decided to call it quits. Can’t say I didn’t see it coming since it had been behaving suspiciously for a while but I felt (or hoped) that we still had a few more months together. IT thought otherwise. So you can imagine the sort of tense day I had trying to find myself a new companion at such a short notice.

In midst of all the ensuing chaos and madness, this recipe was a very calming influence. While the new companion was settling in and preparing itself for a fresh start, I rustled up this dinner fairly easily. Most of the time goes in cooking the dal but you can leave it to do its job while you are busy with other stuff (like becoming familiar with your new partner as was the case with me!).

Dill leaves provide many health benefits including protection against free radicals and carcinogens, prevention of bacterial overgrowth and, given their calcium content, prevention of bone loss.

In this recipe, I decided to partner dill with moong dal (moong bean split and skinned, also known as split green gram).

requires very few ingredients to make a fragrant and flavoursome dal

The ratio of raw moong dal to dill leaves is 1:2. It may seem like that’s an awful lot of dill leaves but once cooked, the dal will expand and accommodate all of the dill.

You can have this with rice or any type of bread/roti/naan/paratha.

Ingredients

1 Cup uncooked moong dal

2 Cups Dill leaves

2 Tomatoes

1 Head of garlic

1 Tablespoon fenugreek seeds

1-2 Teaspoons Mustard Seeds

1 Tablespoon fennel seeds

2 Dry red chillies

A pinch of asafoetida

1 Teaspoon turmeric

1 Teaspoon chilli powder

1 Tablespoon oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash and soak the moong dal and fenugreek seeds before you make a start on the vegetables.
  2. Wash and grate the tomato.
  3. Peel and slice the garlic.
  4. Chop and wash the dill leaves.
  5. Heat oil in a a cooking pot.
  6. Add the mustard seeds.
  7. Once they stop crackling, add the fennel seeds.
  8. After a few seconds, add the dry red chillies and asafoetida.
  9. Stir for a few more seconds and throw in the grated tomato.
  10. Mix in salt, chili powder and turmeric powder.
  11. Cover, lower heat and let this cook for about 3 minutes.
  12. Uncover, add the dal with about 2 to 3 cups of water.
  13. Turn the heat high and once the dal starts boiling, lower the heat, cover and let the dal cook for about 15 minutes.
  14. Uncover, throw in the dill leaves, combine well, cover and let this cook for about 10 to 15 more minutes till the dal is soft.
  15. Serve hot.

Fragrant Garam Masala

Aromatic Garam Masala

  • Servings: see below
  • Difficulty: easy
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Aromatic Garam Masala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As regular followers of this blog would know by now, I love experimenting with new ingredients or getting creative in the kitchen to make healthy versions of conventional ones.

Yet there are some recipes in my repertoire which are sacrosanct, which I would not tinker with and which I have been following for years without the slightest bit of modification. This signature aromatic garam masala is one of them.

Spices have many health benefits and according to Wikipedia, “Garam masala contains several micronutrients. Ten grams have about 75 milligrams of calcium, 3 milligrams of iron, 150 milligrams of potassium, and 0.3 milligrams of zinc.”

My recipe of this famous powdered spice mix is different from others because I don’t add any black pepper. For me, when I add some garam masala to a dish I do so to enhance its taste and fragrance, not to make it spicy (for that, I let the chillies and peppercorns do their job).

the focus of my mixture is on fragrance and aroma

The following will stay good for several months in an airtight jar.

Go here for my recipes which calls for this spice mix (including chicken and mince meat curries).

Ingredients

10 Grams cloves

10 Grams cinnamon stick

10 Grams green cardamom

10 Grams black cardamomm

10 Grams mace

20 Grams black cumin

2 Nutmeg

Method

  1. Blend all the ingredients till you get a fine powder.
  2. Store in an airtight jar.

Ratatouille, The Kooky Way

Ratatouille, The Kooky Way

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ratatouille

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is an interesting news story doing the rounds about how angry French chefs want people to stop taking photos of food in their restaurants.

According to Alexandre Gauthier, chef at La Grenouillere in the northern town of La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, “with each dish it’s ‘stop everything’, or the photo has to be retaken three times. It’s Tweeted, liked, comments are made and replied to — by then the dish is cold.”

Although this may sound strange coming from a food blogger, I have to admit that I agree with Mr. Gauthier and his colleagues.

I know that this goes against the widely held belief that food blogs should have delicious looking photos in order to attract visitors but, somehow, I don’t subscribe to that view.

Personally, I truly enjoy the process of thinking up a recipe, planning my dinner, cooking, eating and sharing the experience here but photographing the final dish is the task I least like and look forward to.

By the time the food is plated, I want to eat it, not spend hours trying to get the lighting and the background and the props and everything else right. If I were to do that, my food would be stone cold!

The reason I am writing this is because the article struck a chord when I prepared this ratatouille last night. Once it was cooked, I tried taking several photos of the final dish but they just wouldn’t come out right. And the rice was getting cold… In the end, I got so fed up that I sat down to eat. The photo above was taken this morning of the leftover stew :-).

Herbs for RatatouilleVegetables for RatatouilleWhat defines a recipe and when can a dish no longer be called by its original name are the two thoughts which kept going through my mind when I was cooking this dinner.

Traditionally, ratatouille is made of onion, garlic, tomato, aubergine, pepper and courgette along with Herbes de Provence or a mix of basil, marjoram and thyme.

In my kooky version, I used a yellow courgette instead of the green one and cooked with two types of aubergine, neither of which are European varieties.

As for the herbs, I added some dried sage, rosemary, thyme and tarragon along with fresh basil.

the end result is a really satisfying and pleasing “ratatouille”

I had mine with some brown rice. It would also go well with couscous or some crusty bread.

Ingredients

1 Aubergine

1 Green Pepper

1 Courgette

2 Tomatoes

2 Onions

1 Head of garlic

3 to 4 Tablespoons tomato puree

1-2 Teaspoons herbes de provence OR a mix of dried herbs you have

12-15 Fresh basil leaves

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Peel, wash and chop the onion.
  2. Peel and slice the garlic.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan to which add the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt.
  4. Lower heat and cover.
  5. While the onion and garlic are cooking, wash and dice the tomatoes.
  6. Uncover and add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and herbs. Mix well and cover.
  7. Next, de-seed, de-core and chop the green pepper.
  8. Add it to the onion tomato mixture. Once again mix and cover.
  9. Now, wash and dice the courgette into bite size pieces.
  10. Add it to the vegetables being cooked, mix and cover.
  11. Lastly, wash and chop the aubergine into same size as courgette.
  12. Add the aubergine to the stew, add some more salt, mix well and cover.
  13. Cook for about 20 minutes till the vegetables are tender.
  14. Serve hot.

An Incredibly Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta & Pizza

An Incredibly Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta & Pizza

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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An Incredibly Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta

 

 

 

 

 

We kick-start the week with my signature tomato sauce which can be stirred into some hot pasta or used as a base for pizza.

it is fuss-free, simple to make and requires only a handful of ingredients

The only time consuming element of this recipe is the actual cooking time.  The longer you let the sauce cook, the better it tastes.

The photo above shows the sauce over a bed of spaghetti which was our salvaged dinner after the gnocchi disaster. The cheese that you see is cheddar. I thought I had some grated Parmesan in the refrigerator but turned out not the case. I was not in the mood to grate some and so made do with grated cheddar which was handy. It made the spaghetti taste quite nice and comforting and the tomato sauce lived up to its reputation.

For the sauce, I blend the tomato but if you don’t want to bother with getting the food processor out or whatever, finely chop the tomatoes and the recipe will work just as well. Instead of fresh tomatoes, you can also use canned plum tomatoes if you prefer.

The inclusion of red chillies is optional. Personally, I like a little bit of the oopmh they provide but you don’t have to add them if you don’t want to.

Ingredients

4 Large, ripe tomatoes

3-4 Tablespoons tomato puree

2 Onions

1 Pod of garlic

1 Cup fresh basil leaves

1-2 Red chillies OR 1 Teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash and either blend or finely chop the tomato.
  2. Peel, wash and finely dice the onions.
  3. Peel and chop the garlic.
  4. Wash and chop the red chillies (if using)
  5. Wash and chop the basil leaves.
  6. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  7. Add the chopped onion, garlic and chilli with a pinch of salt.
  8. Stir, cover and let this cook for 10 minutes.
  9. After 10 minutes, add the tomatoes, tomato puree, basil and some more salt to taste.
  10. Add half cup of water.
  11. Bring to boil, lower heat and let the sauce simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  12. Serve hot over pasta or let it cool down and bottle it. Will keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week.