Tuesday, February 26, 2008

West Indies Black eyed Peas with Pasta

Today I went to the library and got myself a vegetarian cookbook. I wanted to try making some fancy new dishes that were healthy as well.I brought home "The complete Vegetarian cookbook" by Chris Hardistry. In this book I found a spicy black eyed peas recipe that I was drawn to for two reasons. One, it said spicy and being Indian that draws me to it right away. Secondly it said black eyed peas and I had a can on hand. I read the recipe and knew I might have to change the spice proportions a bit and also add an extra kick to it. So here is my modified version of the recipe served with healthy high fiber pasta (I prefer Smart Taste pasta as it tastes a lot better than whole wheat pasta). This is a delicious, simple and super easy recipe.


Smart taste Rotini
Water and salt to cook pasta.

1 small can black eyed peas, drained and washed. Reserve drained liquid.
1 tblsp olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground pepper
salt to taste
2 tbslp tomato paste
2/3 cup drained bean liquid plus added water
1 tblsp soy sauce
chopped parsley


Fill a large pot 3/4 with water. Season water with salt. This is the only chance you can actually season the pasta so add salt to the water. Bring water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. I use 3/4 package of the pasta. Meanwhile heat oil in a non stick pot. Add onions and garlic and saute till onion turn transparent. Add all seasonings and black eyed peas. Saute. Add tomatoes, soy sauce and tomato paste. Stir and heat through.Then add liquids and cook till sauce thickens up. Add chopped parsley. When pasta is cooked, drain the pasta. Add pasta to a large bowl. Pour a generous helping of the sauce onto it and serve immediately.

Green Peas Pulao

This month my husband and I became extremely health conscious. We realized our lifestyles had become too stressful and unhealthy and we could feel it in our bodies. So we made a dramatic change to our lifestyles. We have started waking up early and getting to work early. We have incorporated an hour of regular exercise at the gym. Most importantly I have focused on the meal time. We started eating at the table(no more tv watching while eating) and eating healthier. The first thing we both saw was that we were eating too much meat. We actually felt a little sick of it. So for the past many days I have moved to vegetarian diet.No, i'm not becoming a vegetarian, I'm just going to eat meat occasionally preferring seafood and avoiding red meat.I want to enjoy meat when I eat it. You know that occasional perfect steak is unbeatable!! Anyways, so for the next few days I'm going to post mostly vegetarian recipes. I promise you these recipes are delicious and healthy. I begin the series with a recipe for green peas pulao (pulao is a flavored rice dish made in many different ways in India). It is known in my home as "GPP". Served with a mild vegetble curry it makes a perfect meal.


1 cup green peas
1 cup rice, washed and soaked in water for atleast 1/2 an hour
One large onion sliced
a large bunch of cilantro leaves
1 green chilly
1 pod garlic
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
2 cups vegetable broth
oil 1 tblsp


Grind together cilantro, the green chilly and the garlic into a smooth paste using water as needed.Keep aside. Heat oil. Add cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds. Add sliced onions and saute till golden brown. Add ground cilantro paste and rice without any water. Stir. Add 2 cups broth. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer on medium low heat covered for 15 minutes. Rice will be perfectly cooked. Serve hot.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Today our friends L and D have invited us over for dinner. D is a really great bread maker. He enjoys baking breads of different kinds. Today he's going to make homemade pizzas making the dough from scratch. We are taking dessert and wine. The french wine my husband picked is called Brouilly, a red Beaujolais wine. Its really really good. For dessert I settled on Tiramisu (sticking with the Italian theme of the dinner although the wine is French--oops!). This recipe is fast and easy to make and I chose it because I had only 3 hours to make and take this.


1 8 oz package of mascarpone cheese
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 packets Ladies finger cookies
1 cup dark roast or espresso coffee
3 tsp brandy or dark rum
cocoa powder 1 tblsp
chocolate shavings to decorate

Beat egg yolks with sugar using a whisk attachment on an electric mixer. Add 1 tsp brandy and 2 tblsp coffee. Beat till well blended.

In a trifle bowl, arrange cookies to line the side of the bowl.

Mix remaining coffee with 2 tsp brandy. Dip each cookie in the coffee mixture for about 3 to 5 seconds. Don't dip too long or the cookie will fall apart. Place in the center of the bowl. Break cookies as needed to fill the bottom. Add a layer of the beaten cheese mixture. Repeat with another layer of cookies and cheese mixture. This recipe makes three layers. On the last cheese layer, sprinkle cocoa using a sieve and decorate with chocolate shavings. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sweet Corn Chicken Soup

I've made sweet corn chicken soup many times, but never this way. I found this recipe in my Chinese and Wok cooking book by Shirley Gill. Its quite different from the ones i've seen and it turned out really really good. So how did I come about making this soup? Well, my husband has this really horrible sore throat and wanted some hot soup. Looking in the pantry I saw the ingredients for a sweet corn soup so thats what I made. I just wanted to look up some more recipes instead of making my standard plain version and I came upon this recipe. The amounts I used are different from the book. For a vegetarian version just replace the meat with vegetables and marinate just the same. Replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Here it is--enjoy it on any cold day!


1 cup ground chicken
1 to 2 tsp thin soy sauce
a dash of sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tblsp corn flour
One carton low sodium chicken broth
One can cream of corn
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 inch ginger crushed
1 tblsp oil
2 large eggs, beaten
Scallion greens (1 stem) chopped (optional)


Mix ground chicken with soy sauce, sesame oil, corn flour, salt and pepper. Keep aside for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pot or a wok. Add crushed ginger. Stir. Add chicken broth, corn kernels and can of creamed corn. Bring to a boil. Take a cup full of hot boiling soup and add to the chicken mixture. Mix and then add the chicken mixture to the rest of the soup in the pot. Stir continuously. Once the chicken cooks season with salt as needed. Then add the beaten egg in a thin stream very slowly stirring in a circuitous pattern. The egg should form threads. Serve hot garnished with chopped scallions or with a dash of soy sauce as I did.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ragda Patties for my Valentine

For valentines day I wanted to make something "hearty" for my husband. He loves this snack/street food called ragda patties that we get in the state of Maharashtra in India. Its essentially a potato patty served with cooked lentils, yogurt and a blend of sauces. Its absolutely delicious. In the north of India you get a similar dish called tikki and that essentially is the same with a different type of legume. So to "hearten" it up I made the potato patties in a heart shape and he thought that was cute.

For the Ragda

One cup dry green/yellow peas soaked in water for atleast 2-4 hrs.
One teaspoon garam masala / whole spice mix
One teaspoon red chilly powder
one teaspoon cumin
one teaspoon guda masala (a maharashtrian spice mix: totally optional)

For the patties

7 to 8 potatoes cooked and mashed
One teaspoon turmeric
chopped cilantro
Heart shaped cookie cutter

For the toppings

1 cup plain yogurt beaten with a little water, 1tsp sugar and 1tsp salt.
1 cup date and tamarind sauce (from the Indian store). Add 1/2 cup water to it and stir.
1 cup green corriander chutney (from the indian store).Add 1/4 cup water stir.
Some ground cumin
Some red chilly powder
One large onion Chopped
Chopped cilantro

All above chutneys/sauces can be made at home very easily but I had these on hand.

Mix all ingredients for the potato patties together. Fill the cookie cutter with the potato mix. Press down and lift the cutter leaving behind a heart shaped patty. Oil your hands to make handling easier.

Pan fry patties in little oil on both sides till golden brown.

Cook the peas with all the spices either in a pot or in a pressure cooker till the peas are well cooked. Take a few patties in a bowl. Add ragda (peas) over it. Add yogurt, then the tamarind sauce, the corriander chutney. Sprinlkle chopped onions, cilantro and a pinch of cumin and red chilly powder. Serve.

Gobi (cabbage) Manchurian Golden Dragon Style

So this past super bowl weekend our friends had us over for dinner for the game and the food theme was Indian Chinese food. If you're not from India you're probably wondering what that is. In India, Chinese food is very popular and the recipes have been spiced up to suit the Indian taste. I absolutely love it and Chinese food in India is one of the first things I want to eat when I go back home.Well anyway my friend Amit made amazing chicken lollipops just like we get back home and I am currently pestering him to give me the recipe to post on my blog. So this reminded me of trying out Indian Chinese dishes. One of my other favorite dishes is gobi manchurian, a vegetarian version of chicken manchurian. I have made this dish many times before but it was never like what we get back home. There is this Chinese food shack called Golden Dragon right by my home in India and I wanted to make gobi manchurian just like that. I tried a variety of combinations and came up with this semi-homemade combination that tastes EXACTLY how Golden dragon served it. You need the two store bough sauces together to get it to taste just right. So here it is:


For the cabbage balls

Half a cabbage very finely chopped
2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1 pinch baking soda
1 egg

For the sauce

3 scallions (spring onions) finely chopped
Half to one green pepper finely chopped
2 pods garlic chopped
one green chilly chopped
one packet knorr manchurian mix (you get this in Indian stores or ask someone from india to send it to you)
One bottle Chings secret manchurian sauce (again get it in Indian food stores)


For the balls: Mix all ingredients together to form a sticky thick mixture. Make balls or drop spoonfuls into hot oil and fry till golden brown. Remove and keep aside.
For the sauce, heat oil, add garlic, scallions, chilly and the green pepper. Mix. Add knorr spice mix, 2 cups water, the whole bottle of Ching's manchurian sauce and mix well. Let it come to a boil. Add cabbage balls. Mix and serve immediately.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pork Dumplings (Jiaozi )

Chinese new year begins February 7th. I wanted to make something that is made in every chinese home during this time of the year. So I aksed my colleague Yan for a recipe. She gave me this recipe for pork dumplings or Jiaozi. Reading up a little more about Jiaozi, I read that during the new year families in China gather and wrap dumplings together. Some believe that wrapping dumplings is equivalent to packaging luck for the new year. Dumplings are also very popular here in N America. Pan fried Jiaozi in America are known as potstickers. Here's my first attempt at making dumplings at home. Happy year of the rat everyone. Thanks to Yan for this recipe!


Dumpling wrappers 1 package from the Asian store (50 count)

Ingredients for dumpling filling:

ground pork 1 lb (can be substitute with ground beef, ground shrimp or turkey)
nappa bok choy cabbage about 5 leaves,chopped
chopped green onion, 4 chopped
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 garlic crushed
a dash of crushed ginger

Mix all filling ingredients well. Make sure the mixture does not have much water. If during mixing, water comes out, add a little flour (I did not have much water release). This is the filling.

To wrap the dumplings wet the edge of each circular wrapper with water. Add 1 heaped tsp of filling to the center of each wrapper.

Close edge in the center forming a half moon. At the edges make inwards fold and press edges together. To understand how to fold dumplings check out these two youtube videos. Wrapped dumplings can be frozen for future use.


Boil a pot of water. When water starts boiling, add dumplings as shown in the second video using a ladle. Don't add too many, dumplings or they'll stick together. When the dumplings emerge onto the water surface, add 1 cup of cold water. When the water boils again, add another cup of water. Wait till the water start boiling. Dumplings should be fully cooked!

Remove dumplings to a pot of cold water, then quickly remove them into a serving dish. This is to prevent the dumplings from sticking together. Remove onto a platter and serve with soy sauce. Optionally to make the dumplings taste like potstickers, pan fry cooked dumplings to give it a crispy crust.