Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Nice Vegetarian Meal

The first sentence is always the hardest for me to write. I sit and stare at the screen for a few minutes, type in something, delete, type again and then out of frustration just say something lame like "here is a nice recipe". There are many posts of mine which are just like that: sooooo flat. I like blogs where the writer spends time giving each post a personal touch, giving its readers a view into his or her life. Mine on the other hand can be a bit disappointing at times. I think the reason that happens is that unlike today, most times i'm blogging during a very busy schedule, after work, late at night trying to check everything off my list. What I need is a repertoire of recipe drafts with pictures ready to go. Then all I have to do is write how that recipe came about, a funny anecdote and post. Blogging is my favorite pass time, a great hobby. I don't want it to become a chore. Every new recipe, pictures of food and just everyday cooking has found new light in my world since I started this blog. When i'm stressed out I can just get onto my blog and go through my recipes and I feel nice recollecting the dishes i've cooked.

O.K with no connection to the blabber above i'm getting down to this meal. Yesterday, my husband's friend and his wife were supposed to come over for dinner and stay the night with us on their way back from their vacation. So I wanted to make a nice vegetarian meal kinda thali style.Thali means plate in india and a thali meal has lots of dishes served making a complete meal. So here is what I made. Most of these dishes i've already posted on this blog so i'm linking back to them. For others i'm posting the recipe below. You know what the sad part is though. Our guests got delayed and couldn't make it to our place till 1 am and didn't eat dinner!! Anyhow Nits and I really enjoyed this wholesome meal.

Bharleli vaangi (stuffed eggplant)
Mixed vegetable
Carrot Koshmibir (carrot peanut salad, recipe posted here)
Gulab Jamun (from the box: I cheated)
Aamras (recipe posted here)
a wedge of lime (recipe posted here...ha ha...just kidding!)

Here are recipes to a few things on my list


What do you do with a ton of mangoes from going bad: make aamras!! Aamras literally means mango juice and this is served with the meal.


3-4 large mangoes (I used the south american mangoes you get in the Indian store: Marathon or Kent or Hayden)
1/2 cup milk
cardamom seeds 3-4
3-4 tbslp sugar

Wash mangoes well. Then peel the mangoes. Don't throw the peel. Place peel in the milk. Meanwhile using your hands (yes gets pretty icky so make sure before you start you clean your hands well) and squeeze out all the pulp into a bowl. The big mango seed: add that to the milk as well and get as much pulp out of the seeds and peel into the milk. Throw out the peels and the seeds. Add the milk to the mango mixture. Crush the cardamom seeds. Add sugar and cardamom to the mango. Blend the mixture using a hand blender to make a smooth pulp of mangoes. Strain the mixture through a sieve to get ready of most of the fibrous stuff. Place in a serving dish. Sprinkle some ground cardamom on top and refrigerate. Serve cold.

Carrot Peanut salad

You'd be surprised how many people like this salad. Although common in the maharashtrian community not a lot of other people have eaten this kinda salad. I love the peanut in this salad combined with the sweet carrot and tomato.My favorite!

1/2 packet baby carrots
1/2 cup ground roasted peanuts
1 tomato chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 green chilly
lime juice
sugar 1 tbslp

In a food processor finely shred baby carrots. I use baby carrots coz they're sweeter. Add to a bowl. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix well and serve immediately. You can make the salad minus the salt, sugar and lime juice beforehand. Just add the seasonings before serving.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shrimp Chilly Fry and Batman (The Dark Knight)

Continuing with my dinner and a movie theme here is my review of Batman that we saw this weekend. To go with that here is a really yummy shrimp dish that I like a lot. I especially like to eat this with steamed rice. One can adjust the sweetness by adding more ketchup. I sometimes add a tblsp of vinegar also to make it a like a sweet and sour sauce.This dish is very similar to one I saw on Sig's blog but she makes hers with chicken and adds other things to it. I used to add an egg to my flour mixture but after seeing Sig's recipe without egg I omitted the egg and it worked just fine without it.

The recipe first

One bag uncooked deveined peeled shrimp (30)
1 cup all purpose flour
One pinch Chinese five spice powder (optional)
One pinch pepper
salt to taste
Oil to fry shrimp
One large onion diced
3-4 pods chopped garlic
3 stems green onions chopped
2 tbslp Sriracha sauce
3-4 tbslp tomato ketchup
3 tbslp soy sauce
1 tsp ajionomoto (optional)


Add salt,pepper and chinese 5 spice powder to the all purpose flour. Add water to the flour to make a thick paste. Coat each shrimp with the flour paste and deep fry in oil. Meanwhile heat oil in wok. When the oil is very hot working quickly add garlic and green onions and diced onions. Stir fry. Add all sauces and ajinomoto. Taste the sauce now and adjust sweetness/sourness as needed. Add deep fried shrimp and mix till the saucy mixture has coated the shrimp. Serve hot as an appetizer or eat with rice.

Batman (Rating 5 star: Violent, scary, funny, good acting, great stunts)
So finally this weekend Nits and I managed to get tickets to Batman: the dark knight. Oh and was it worth it or what!! This is definitely NOT a kids movie so if you were planning on taking your kids, forget about it. Christian Bale returns as Suave billionaire Bruce wayne aka Batman at night. However the person who definitely steals the show is Heath Ledger as Joker. He's funny yet scary and given this mentally deranged psychoanalytical side to Joker. There are scenes where I cringed but the scene moved so fast that it was not gory but violent none the same. I had heard a lot about Heath's joker performance but it really was as good as they said it was. A very nice twist to the joker character. I seriously had a nightmare with the joker in it that night!! The plot is typical batman style where batman tries to save Gotham city from the evils of Joker. It has some underlying mafia angle added in which I didn't much care for. Aaron Eckhart plays the good DA who is in love with Rachel (Not Katie Holmes in this movie but Maggie Gyllenhall) . Batman has all the action, stunts and amazing gadgets/tricks. My favorite part was when the batmobile transforms into the Bat bike and he rides it out with his cape flying behind him:AWESOME! The movie is a bit long and may be its one downside. I think it could have been shorter by half an hour. All in all a fun blockbuster which unlike other previous summer flicks had some really good performances. I definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nargisi Kofta (Scotch Eggs in Gravy)

This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe from my Just Chicken cookbook by Sharda Pargal. Essentially nargisi koftas are scotch eggs served in a gravy. The gravy is mild and not too spicy. There are some tricks to making the scotch eggs so follow those steps carefully. The recipe is long and complicated so its not something you might make after a long day but when you have the time do try it.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the scotch eggs

1 pound minced chicken
2 tbslp chana dal/bengal gram (soaked in water for 30 min)
1 medium onion very finely chopped
1 large garlic minced
1 inch piece ginger minced
Green chillies 2
cilantro leaves 1/2 cup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 egg, beaten lightly
8 eggs, hard boiled,peeled
Oil to fry

For the gravy

1 tsp ginger minced
1 tsp garlic minced
1 onion chopped finely
1 tblsp powdered cashew nuts
1 tbslp khus khus/poppy seeds
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tblsp ground dry coconut
1 cup tomato puree
2 cups chicken stock
2 strand saffron
1/4 cup heavy cream


Wash the meat. Add meat, dal, onion,ginger, garlic,salt,chilly powderand garam masala to a pressure cooker. Cook under pressure till dal cooks (about 8-10 minutes under pressure/2-3 whistles). Let the cooker cook before opening. Once opended dry out all liquid in the meat by heating till all the water evaporates. To a food processor add the meat mix. add green chillies and cilantro. Grind to a fine paste. Add the beaten egg and mix well. The egg will act as a binder.

Take some meat mixture in your hand. Flatten it. Add a boiled egg to the center and start rolling the egg with the meat coating. Coat with the meat mixture working evenly to form a nice shell around the egg. Don't add too little or too much covering of meat. Let it sit uncovered for any moisture to evaporate.

Heat oil in a pot. It is critical that the oil be very hot.. This is important because the eggs are fragile so the meat has to instantly brown up when added to oil to prevent breaking. Add each egg to hot oil. Roll gently to get all the meat browned all over. This should take no more than 30 seconds. Remove and drain all excess oil on a paper towel. Repeat for all remaining eggs. Let eggs cool. Then cut horizontally in the center into two halves.

For the gravy, heat oil in a deep pan/pot. Add onions, ginger and garlic. Fry till onions turn golden brown. Add all spices, salt, cashew nuts, poppy seeds and coconut. Fry for a minute. Add tomato puree and fry till the mixture releases oil. Add chicken stock and cook covered for 15 minutes on medium low heat. The gravy should be thick. Add cream and saffron. let it heat through. Transfer the hot gravy to the serving dish. Place eggs very gently into the hot gravy with the yolk side up. Garnish with chopped cilantro and swirls of heavy cream. Serve with rice or naans.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

DINNNER AND A MOVIE: German Noodles with Brown Gravy AND In Bruges

Here is the first of the new feature I'm starting: Dinner and a Movie. Every weekend I'll post one recipe and the review of a movie I watched this week. Mostly its going to be movies that I enjoyed and you can give it a try as well. My husband and I watch a lot of movies. We hardly watch any TV. We have the blockbuster online subscription and we keep it going all the time.We love anything as long as its good: foreign films, action, comedies and I'm also a sucker for chick flicks. And of course how can any movie be watched without something hearty and comforting to eat. If its Friday night mostly I make something super easy (i.e when i'm not getting take out) and the german noodles featured here fall in that category.

O.K so first with the dinner:
This is not a recipe. Its an idea for a very easy yet comforting dinner. My boss is from Germany. When he had Nits and me over for dinner he made these traditional german noodles with gravy. It turns out these noodles are made in his home town of Spaichingen and sold here in the US in our grocery store, which pleased him immensely by the way. I had never eaten these noodles and especially never with gravy. His gravy mix was from Germany but I think our gravy mixes taste pretty much the same, at least to my taste buds. I really liked the combination. The noodles will go well with steak/chicken and a salad. I prefer to eat it just like that as a meal.

Serves 2
Black forest Girl brand German noodles (egg noodles,extra broad)-1
Brown gravy mix package-1

Cook noodles according to package directions in water with salt and a little bit of oil. Make gravy according to package directions while noodles cook. Add noodles to a bowl. Drizzle with gravy. Eat away! Isn't that easy?

Next up: The Movie

In Bruges is the movie of the week. It stars Collin Farell, Brendan Gleesan and Ralph Fiennes. Movie is set in Bruges (pronounced Brooje) in Belgium and is the story of two assasins hanging out in this small quaint belgian town after a kill. Both are awaiting a call from their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) for another job.

The movie is a dark comedy and the dialogues are exceptionally hillarious at times. The acting was amazing by both Collin farrell and Brendan Gleesan. I think the reason we enjoyed this movie was that we had not heard of it and had very little expectations from it. It turned out surprisingly enjoyable. Collin Farrell cannot stand Bruges and sees nothing in the town contrary to his partner Brendan Gleesan who loves historic architecture. However Collin Farell has a sad history which he can shift to from his annoying brooding character and you find yourself feeling sorry for him. Well I can't give everything away here or you won't watch it. If you're into these kind of NON BLOCKBUSTER kind of movies do give it a try. It was a welcome change from the usual. I give it a 4 star rating!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cheese Pineapple Appetizer

Talk about a super easy and a nice center piece appetizer. This makes great finger food for a party and also a nice palette cleanser if you have other spicy appetizers going around. I bet you to try it: your guests will find it very appealing.


One can pineapple chuncks, drain juice and reserve chunks.
One small block of cheddar/muenster cheese; cut into 1 cm cubes
One large orange
party toothpicks


Cut the orange into half. Place peel side up on the serving plate. Take a toothpick. Skewer cheese and the pineapple onto each toothpick. Poke the toothpick into the orange. The key is to keep the cheese piece small. Too much cheese can be hard to complement the pineapple. Repeat until the orange is covered with toothpicks. I used party toothpicks which had orange cellophane cover that made the toothpicks look prettier. Keep in the center of your table so that people passing by can pick one and enjoy. Easy to have ready when guests start arriving.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mango Panna Cotta

I made this dessert when I invited SDs family over for dinner. We were 8 of us in all, so I wanted to make a dessert that was special yet easy to make for many people. I developed this love for panna cotta after eating a pistachio panna cotta at a restaurant. It was heavenly. I wanted to make some right away especially when Meetas' Monthly Mingle had a mango theme. This event also turned out to be ideal for my trial.

I looked up a couple of recipes from other blogs to help me make this. Most useful recipes were from Sig's live to eat and Pamela's kitchen. So here is my entry. My mango panna cotta turned out creamy and best of all it was so easy to make. I also drizzled some mango pulp around the fresh chopped mangos but didn't get time to click a snap as I had guests over and wanted to serve these right away. Anyway if you haven't tried panna cotta yet, do so. It can be made plain or with any flavor you prefer.

Ingredients (Serves 8): increase or decrease proportions as needed

2 Cups mango puree (I used alphonso mango pulp)
8 tsp mango puree (reserve to decorate)
1 cup chopped fresh mangoes
2 cups heavy cream
3 cups Low fat buttermilk
10 tablespoons sugar (add more if you need)
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 packets unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water


Add the gelatin to cold water and let it soften. Meanwhile whisk together buttermilk and mango puree in a bowl till they are combined well together.

Heat cream in a pot. Add vanilla essence and sugar. Whisk very lightly to mix. When the cream comes to a boil, remove from heat and add softened gelatin.

Stir well till all the gelatin is dissolved. I still had a few tiny pieces of undissolved gelatin and therefore I strained the cream at the next step. Add the cream to the mango buttermilk mixture and whisk well. At this step I tasted the sweetness of the cream mixture and added more sugar as the buttermilk added a lot of tang which I wanted to neutralize. Mix well till any extra sugar you add is well blended. Pour into tall glasses(I used margarita and martini glasses) and refrigerate for 4 hours. To serve place chopped mangoes in the center on top of the panna cotta. Swirl some mango puree around the mangoes.