Asparagus in disguise

I belonged to the asparagus hater club until recently when I discovered this recipe by pure trial and error and out of necessity to be a good role model for my kids. I mean if I tell them “you better eat your greens” and I make a face at asparagus that wouldn’t be any good would it?
Hence, this recipe was born out of desperate measures to eat my greens.
Alright! I think you got the point that I utterly disliked asparagus. But not any more! I love it! Well, that is probably an exaggeration but I sure don’t turn my nose up at it anymore.
Why don’t you try it and let me know if it was worth the trouble or not?

Ingredients

1 bunch of asparagus ( diced)
A handful of of sliced baby carrots
3-4 rooster potatoes (sliced long or cubed)
Small onion ( diced)
Small tomato (diced)
Garlic powder
Black Pepper powder
Soy sauce ( a tsp)
Salt to taste
1 tsp oil of your choice

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Instructions

Toss all the cut vegetables into a frying pan and add a pinch of garlic powder, a dash of black pepper, the soy sauce and salt to taste. Mix well.
Cover the pan on high flame for a minute and then lower to low flame for the vegetables to cook uniformly.
After 5-10mns or when cooked ( I check by pricking the potatoes with a fork), uncover and add the oil.
Now coat the vegetables with the oil and cook on high flame for a couple of minutes making sure the vegetables don’t stick to the bottom of the pan by turning/tossing often.
Hey presto, the asparagus in disguise is ready.
Enjoy with some garlic bread and meat or fish of your choice!

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Shrimp theeyal

I love shrimp! Nothing beats my moms spicy red shrimp curry complete with “thenga kothu” or fried coconut slices in it. I also love “theeyal” made with browned coconut powder or grated coconut. So I thought why not combine both and kill two birds with one stone and make shrimp theeyal.
Here is my quick recipe I made for Fathers Day. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Ingredients
Shrimp – 2-3 cups
Onion – 1 medium
Tomato – 1 medium
Dry coconut powder – 1 cup
Chili powder – 1/2-1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Jeera powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste (3/4 tsp)
Oil – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – 5-8

Instructions
1. Heat coconut powder and 5 curry leaves in a pan and continue stirring on medium flame till all the coconut powder is uniformly browned. ( Raising pan off flame helps if it gets too hot and you feel the coconut is going to burn)

2. When done switch off the flame, add the chilli powder, coriander powder and jeera powder to the pan and stir for a minute. You can add salt any time you want. I added it to the mixture.

3. Now grind the mixture and then blend it with water in a blender.

4. Sauté the diced onion and tomato and remaining curry leaves in the pan with the oil till it forms a paste.

5. Add the shrimp and mix it in for a minute.

6. Now add the coconut blended mixture to the pan. Use water to wash out the whole mixture from the blender.

7. Cook on medium flame for 5 minutes and check if shrimp has cooked. If it has then bring the curry to boil till the gravy thickens.

Enjoy over some white rice!

Shrimp Theeyal

Shrimp Theeyal

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Salmon Biriyani

Enjoy your Salmon Biriyani!

Salmon Biriyani

Ingredients

  • 2lb Salmon fillet, cubed
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 inch of gralic.
  • 2 medium size onion
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1.2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • cilantro leaves diced
  • 2 small small tomatoes diced
  • salt to taste
  • oil to shallow fry
  • cardamom pods, pepper pods, star anise, cinnamon sticks for flavor
  • 4 cups Tilda Basmati rice (soak for 30minutes to an hour)

Instructions

Cut the fish into good sized chunks or cubes and wash. Pat dry. Add 1/2 tsp chilli powder and 1/2 tsp salt to the fish and coat with hands. Heat oil in a pan to brown the fish on both sides to prevent crumbling when mixing and layering later on. When oil is ready, add fish and brown both sides. Set aside on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Browned Fish

Browned Fish

Grind the garlic, ginger and onion to a paste. Slice the green chilli and add to paste along with a few pods of cardamom, pepper and star anise. Saute the paste till it turns brown. Turn flame to low and add the chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric powder and salt to taste. Add oil enough to coat the spice mixture and continue to saute on medium flame until the mixture is browned as well.  

Next add the tomatoes and diced coriander leaves and saute again on medium flame until tomatoes become a pastey texture.

Sauteed Fish Gravy

Add a glass of water and mix well. When the mixture boils, add the fish gently to the mixture taking care not to crumble the fish.

Salmon with gravy

Salmon with gravy

When the gravy thickens, turn it off and keep it covered till the rice is ready.

In the meantime, while the paste is being sauteed, fill a 5 quart pot with water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, few pods of cardamom, pepper, star anise and cinnamon sticks along with salt to taste. Cover with lid and wait for the water to boil. When water boils, drain and add the rice that has soaked for at least 30 minutes. Cover again with lid to get the water boiling again. When water boils uncover and set timer for 4 minutes. Test the rice to check if is almost cooked. You don’t want it to overcook or the rice will not retain its shape after layering and baking.

Rice Boiling

Rice Boiling

Drain the rice and now you are ready to layer the biriyani. Preheat the oven at 200 F while you start layering. It is best to layer in a wide heavy bottom pan. Add a thick layer of the boiled rice.

First layer of boiled rice

First layer of boiled rice

Next gently layer with the fish without any additional gravy. Leave the gravy for the third layer.

Second layer of fish

Second layer of fish

The last layer is the remaining boiled rice. Then add the gravy evenly on the rice. This will seep to the rest of the layers when you bake. If the gravy happens to be too loose after you transfer the fish, just put it back on the stove and simmer for a minute to thicken gravy again.

Last layer of boiled rice with gravy on top

Last layer of boiled rice with gravy on top

Now the Salmon Biriyani is ready to be baked for 20 minutes at 200 F. After baking, serve with garnished roasted cashews, raisins  fried onion, coriander leaves, boiled eggs and of course raitha, pickle and some crunchy papaddams. I skipped the fancy garnishing as I was making this as a quick fix.

Enjoy your Salmon Biriyani!

Enjoy your Salmon Biriyani!

Tip: This Salmon Biriyani was made as a healthy option. To make it the traditional artery clogging but nevertheless tastier way, you can add ghee(Indian butter), butter and any other grease you feel comfortable with. 🙂

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Beth’s Healthy Banana Muffin

There was a time when I would toss over-ripe bananas into the garbage until I discovered this heavenly recipe for banana crumb muffin. Being the health freak that I am, I altered and added to the recipe to make my very own healthy banana muffin. I usually add the brown sugar crumb topping or leave it out depending on whether I crave a few extra calories or not.

So, now I have gone from being a banana tosser to a banana hoarder. Seriously, I hover over my bananas and wish them to ripen fast simply so I could make some divine banana muffins.

If I don’t have time to make them right away, I just cut them up and freeze them and I gloat over them with glee each time I open my freezer. Guess you could call me ‘banana over bananas’. Alright, so lets start going banana! (Ok, I am going stop the puns. Mash it before it starts. Oops I did it again. Anyways, I tried. 🙂 )

Ingredients for banana muffin

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1/3 cup melted Smart Balance ( or any Butter substitute) or vegetable oil

3/4 cup brown sugar ( or white is fine too)

3 mashed or pureed ripe to over ripe bananas

Ingredients for crumb

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

2 tablespoon Smart Balance or as needed

1/3 cup brown sugar or as needed

Instructions

Beat the egg in a small bowl and mix in the brown sugar and melted butter.

Add the mashed or pureed bananas and mix well.

In a bigger bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda.

Now, add the banana mix to the bigger bowl containing flour and mix gently.

Preheat the oven to 375 F, and spoon banana muffin mix onto greased muffin cups.

If you want to make banana crumb muffin then follow the next steps as well. If not, continue to bake the muffins for 20 minutes. The muffins are ready when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Instructions for Crumb Topping

Mix the cinnamon powder, flour and Smart Balance and brown sugar until it forms a coarse mixture. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins for a delicious sticky crumb topping.

Enjoy Beth’s Healthy Banana Muffins with or without crumb topping !

Beth’s Healthy Banana Muffins

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Beth’s Perfect Pumpkin Pie

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Fall is finally here! What better way to welcome it into my home than with a homemade perfect pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin anything and my love affair with pumpkins started two years ago and it’s still going strong. I just renewed my vow to wow you all with my new pumpkin recipes. Stay tuned for them all.
So let’s start pumpkin.
There are tons of recipes on the internet and I have made a recipe with the best tips from them all.

Ingredients
One 15 ounce can of pumpkin purée. Recipe for fresh pumpkin purée
One 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
One 9 inch readymade pie crust
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1/4 tsp cloves powder
1 egg

Instructions
Beat the egg in a big bowl. Add the pumpkin spice powders ( cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg ). Add the pumpkin purée and mix well. Finally add the sweetened condensed milk and mix uniformly.
Now you can pour the mixture in your waiting pie crust.
Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes to brown the crust. Then continue baking for 45 minutes at 350 F. Insert a toothpick in the center to check if the pie is done before you take it out.
Inhale the sweet smell of your perfect pumpkin pie. Let the pie cool while you drool.
Enjoy a slice of your warm or cooled perfect pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream and a cup of coffee.
Don’t forget to write and let me how it went and of any changes you made to your recipe.

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October 11, 2012 · 8:35 pm

Uzhunnu Vada alias Indian donut

Uzhunnu Vada – the Indian Donut

It has been raining outside for the past week continuously. Made me nostalgic for moms cooking. Since it was tea time, I had this sudden craving for Indian tea time delicacies. What better yumminess than devouring crispy uzhunnu vadas with hot tea. Ah! Life is good. I want you to experience the same enjoyment and therefore, wait no more. Go ahead and start this journey of crispy crunchiness!

Ingredients
1 cup urad dal
1/4 onion diced
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida
a pinch of  baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp grated ginger ( optional )
Few pepper pods ( optional )
Oil to fry

Instructions
Soak the urad dal for at least an hour. The more you soak, the easier it is to grind.  Grind it with as minimal water possible till it becomes a fine paste.  I used about half a cup of water.
Add the grated ginger, diced onion, chilli powder, asafoetida, baking powder, pepper pods and salt to the paste and mix well.  Add more salt if required according to your taste.
Heat oil in a saucepan. Place a bowl of water nearby to wet your hands. When oil is ready ( you can test by dropping a pinch of the paste and if it sizzles and rises immediately, then oil is ready ) wet one hand from the bowl of water, scoop some paste onto the wet hand. Make a hole in the middle with your finger and slide it off your hand and into the oil. I will post some more pictures next week of the sliding off into oil process. Turn the vada when it is browned on bottom and take it out when equally browned on both sides.
Enjoy the delicious crispy uzhunnu vadas with some sambar and/ or coconut chutney!

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Pumpkin Pancakes

Fluffy, soft and yummy pumpkin pancakes are the best breakfast you can have to get into the fall season mode. Not to mention the fact that pumpkin is rich in antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties ( good for those arthritic joints) and has fiber. What more could you ask for? Make a batch for your family today and they will love it!

Fluffy, soft pumpkin pancakes

Ingredients for Pancake mix

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Salt to taste

Ingredients for Pumpkin Spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1/4 tsp cloves powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
Tip: 1/4 tsp is about a pinch

Ingredients for Pumpkin Pancake

1 cup pancake mix
1/2 cup fresh ( see recipe to make fresh pumpkin purée) or canned pumpkin purée
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tablespoon sugar ( optional)
1 egg or 2 egg whites
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk ( fat free milk or 2% milk)
1 tablespoon oil (optional)

Instructions
Blend the egg or egg whites into the pumpkin puree with a whisk.
Add the pumpkin spice ( I skipped the ginger powder because my kids are not too keen on it and it turned out just fine without it), sugar, pancake mix and the oil. Add the milk slowly and use as required. If you want thick pancakes add less milk. If you like thinner pancakes add the whole milk until you get the consistency you like. This batter makes about six medium size pancakes.

Tip: For those of you who are not familiar with making pancakes, the batter should not become runny. Stop adding milk once you achieve the consistency of cake batter. Use a ladle or measuring cup to pour the batter onto the griddle or dosa pan on medium flame. When you see bubbles appear on the batter, it is ready to be flipped over. Hey presto! Your pumpkin pancakes are ready. Serve them with a chunk of your favorite butter or smart balance or any other butter alternative and smother in syrup. Now its time to indulge yourself!

Don’t forget to let me know how it turned out. 🙂

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber to name a few of its benefits. Here is an easy recipe to make use of the pumpkin seeds that you may have left over from carving pumpkins or making pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkins.

  • Toss the pumpkin seeds with 2 teaspoon melted butter or smart balance or any other butter alternative of your choice and a pinch of salt.
  • Sprinkle some garlic powder if you have or one or two cloves of crushed garlic for garlic flavor.

  • Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

  • Bake at 350 F for about 20 mins.
  • Stir occasionally to prevent burning on one side.

Delicious roasted pumpkin seeds!

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Fresh Pumpkin Puree

How to make pumpkin purée from a fresh pumpkin?

If you are like me and have pumpkins that your kids brought home from their field trip to the pumpkin patch, then you probably are wondering what to do with them. I used to think it was very hard to make pumpkin puree until I actually tried it out. It took me only less than 2 hours for the whole process. Check it out!

  1. Wash the fresh pumpkin thoroughly.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom with a serrated knife.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and the stringy flesh.
  4. Separate seeds and set aside to make roasted pumpkin seeds. (Recipe in another post)
  5. Bake with shell side up on a cookie sheet or cake pan at 375 F for one hour.

Tip: I happened to cut one of the pumpkin halves again as you may be able to see in the second pan and found out that the insides were not as mushy as the first one which was completely face down. I think it retains heat better that way and therefore cooks better. Please forgive the glaring light in my oven.

6.  Scoop out the insides with an ice cream scooper or any other curved ladle/spoon.

Cooked pumpkin scooped out.

7. Puree the scooped out cooked pumpkin balls in a food processor.

Four and half cans worth pumpkin puree (72 oz)

8. Measure out 16 oz or 2 cups into ziplock bags and freeze for later use.

Four 16oz bags of pumpkin puree ready to go in the freezer.

Recipe for pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds to follow.

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Charming Channa Masala

Charming Channa Masala

Channa or garbanzo beans is very high in fiber. Just 2 cups of channa can meet your entire fiber quota for the day. It also helps in lowering LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol in our blood. Even more good news is that it keeps you fuller for a longer time and therefore is an excellent food for diabetics as it keeps the blood sugar low. It is also your best friend if you need help cleansing out your colon. Because of the high fiber content and due to its breakdown mechanism in the gut, it helps in completely cleaning out your intestines. So whadya waiting for? Prepare and dig in!

Ingredients

2 cups channa (garbanzo beans)
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic diced
1 inch ginger diced
1 green chilli (optional)
2 tomatoes diced
3 tbspn olive oil
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp chilli powder
3 tsp coriander powder
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp garam masala powder

Instructions

Soak the channa overnight. Transfer the washed channa to a pressure cooker and fill water to about an inch above the channa. Cook the channa in the pressure cooker until 3-4 whistles are heard. Switch off and wait till the steam has completely escaped.

In a separate pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute the ginger, garlic for a minute before adding the onion and green chilli. Add the salt to the mixture and turn down flame to medium. The water will ooze from the onion, thereby eliminating the need for oil. When the mixture is browned, turn flame to lowest and add chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala and turmeric powder. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and stir till the sautéed mixture is well coated with oil. Slowly raise flame to medium and keep stirring till oil rises. Add the tomatoes and lower flame. Keep stirring till the tomatoes blend and become a paste with the mixture. Add 3 tbsp water if needed to make the paste.

Open the pressure cooker and add the paste. Rinse the pan with channa water to make sure all the paste is transferred. Add one or two tea bags which will give the channa masala its deep brown color. I got this tip from Vahrehvah Chef Sanjay who is an awesome chef who shares all his recipes wholeheartedly. Cook on low flame till the channa boils. If the gravy is thick, turn off the flame or else turn flame to high till gravy thickens to your liking. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy with Indian bread of your choice like poori, chapathi or naan.

If you need more information about how nutritious channa is read this article http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?dbid=58&tname=foodspice

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