Curried Chickpeas and Potatoes

Curried Chickpeas and Potatoes
This was my lunch today. Curried chickpeas and potatoes can be eaten with chapati, naan or puri. It is easy to make and all you need is a small can of chickpeas, a few potatoes, and spices that are found on most Indian kitchen shelves. You can adjust the amount of chilli powder in this recipe depending on your preference.

I will be taking a break from blogging to travel, to take some cooking classes, and to catch up with projects around the house. Have a wonderful summer!

Curried Chickpeas and Potatoes
Prep time: 10
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

4 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon nigella seeds, (kalonji)
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
1 15.5oz can (439g) chickpeas, (garbanzos)
3 medium potatoes, (boiled and peeled)
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder, (depending on heat and your preference)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 cups of water
½ cup plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Place a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add oil. When the oil is hot add mustard seeds and when they crackle add nigella. Add the ginger-galic paste and saute until the raw smell of ginger-garlic disappears. Drain the chickpeas and add them to the saucepan. Cut the potatoes into small cubes and add them too. Saute for two minutes. Then add the chilli, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, water, and salt. Cover with a lid, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling turn the heat down to medium-low and let the chickpeas and potatoes cook along with the spices for about ten minutes.

Beat the yoghurt until it is smooth and creamy. Turn the heat to low and add the yoghurt. Let the curry continue to cook for another ten minutes. The gravy should have thickened by now. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Sorry, I didn’t have any so you don’t see it in the picture!

Reposting – Fishless Tuna Cutlets

Fishless Tuna Cutlets Fishless Tuna Cutlets
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes: 10-15

3 Yukon gold potatoes, boiled, skins removed, and mashed, (about 3 cups)
2 cans (13oz/369g) Fishless Tuna, well drained
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped, (about ½ cup)
1 Roma tomato, diced
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
5 mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)
3 green chillies, finely chopped (depending on heat and your preference, optional)
3 teaspoons chilli flakes, (depending on heat and your preference, optional)
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander powder
3 teaspoons dry mango powder, (amchur, optional)
¼ cup Bengal gram flour, (besan)
1 egg, (replace egg with two extra tablespoons of Bengal gram flour for vegetarian/vegan)
Oil for shallow frying

Add the potatoes, Fishless Tuna, green bell pepper, onion, tomato, cilantro, mint, green chillies, chili flakes, whole cumin seeds, coriander powder, dry mango powder, Bengal gram flour (besan), egg, and salt into a large bowl. Mix well. Form the cutlets and put them on a small tray.

Place a medium-sized non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add oil for shallow frying. Add a few cutlets at a time. If you over crowd the pan, it will be difficult to turn the cutlets over. Wait until you see the bottom edges of the cutlets turn golden brown in color. Then gently turn them over. Fry the other side until golden. Remove and place on a paper towel lined baking tray.

1. Drain the Fishless Tuna and discard the water. Put the tuna in a sieve and press it with a wooden spoon so you can get all the water out before you use it.
2. Have all the ingredients ready before you mix them together, form the cutlets, and shallow fry them. If you mix the ingredients and leave it in the bowl to rest the onion, green pepper, and tomato will give out water which will make it difficult for you to form the cutlets.
3. Fry the cutlets on medium heat until you see the edges on the bottom of the cutlets turn golden brown.
4. If you like tartness, then add the dry mango powder (amchur).
5. Both Bengal gram flour and dry mango powder can be bought from an Indian grocery store.
6. These cutlets freeze well.
7. Replace the egg with two extra tablespoons of Bengal gram flour to make these cutlets vegetarian or vegan.
8. Fishless Tuna is a product of Atlantic Natural Foods Meatless Select. The cans are available at the Potomac Adventist Book & Health Food Store in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Fishless Tuna Burger1October 22, 2014 – Attaching a picture of the cans for those that asked. If you don’t have a store that sells this, you can contact the company directly: Atlantic Natural Foods Meatless Select at:
Fishless Tuna Can Pic

Mattar Paneer Pulao

Mattar Paneer Pulao1
When I go to an Indian restaurant for a meal, I often order mattar paneer. Mattar paneer is a North Indian vegetarian dish that consists of green peas (mattar) and cubes of fresh Indian cheese (paneer) in a creamy tomato based sauce. I enjoy eating mattar paneer with naan (Indian bread). That was my inspiration for the mattar paneer pulao recipe that I’m sharing with you today.

Paneer can be made at home by curdling heated milk with lemon juice or vinegar. Sometime soon, I will share the steps on how you can make paneer at home. Until then, you can buy paneer from the Indian grocery store. You will find it in the frozen food section.

Mattar paneer pulao can be made mild or spicy depending on your level of comfort. You can add the same number of spices that I’ve suggested or reduce them by half. You can also add green chillies or leave them out. This pulao pairs well with a simple cucumber raita or tomato chutney.  Try it out, and let me know if you agree.

Mattar Paneer Pulao
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

2½ cups Basmati rice
14 oz (400g) paneer
3-4 teaspoons oil
¼ cup ghee
1 large onion, (sliced)
1 bay leaf, (torn into two bits)
6 cloves
2 star anise
6 green cardamoms
1-inch piece cinnamon
10 whole black pepper corns, (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
3 large Roma tomatoes, (blanched and diced)
4 green chillies, (slit in half, optional)
½  teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
4 cups water
1 cup green peas, (fresh or frozen)

Place the rice in a small bowl and add enough water to cover it by two inches. Using your hands, gently swish the rice grains so that it releases starch. Pour the water out, leaving the rice in the bowl. Do this three or four times until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in fresh water for 15-20 minutes. Drain the water before you use the rice in this recipe.

Cut the paneer into bite sized cubes. Heat one teaspoon of oil in a medium non-stick frying pan, over medium heat. Fry a few paneer cubes at a time, until they turn light brown. Remove and put them directly into a bowl of hot tap water. Fry the rest of the paneer cubes in the same manner. Let them soak in the water until they are called for in the recipe.

Melt ghee in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add the onion and cook until softened, about four minutes. Add the whole spices – bay leaf, cloves, star anise, cardamoms, cinnamon, black pepper, and cumin. When you get the fragrant smell of spices, add the ginger-garlic paste.  Stir and cook until the raw smell of the ginger-garlic paste disappears. Add tomatoes, green chillies, turmeric, chilli powder, and salt. Cook until the oil separates. Add four cups of water. Turn the heat to high, and let the water come to a boil. As soon as the water starts boiling, turn the heat to medium, drain the rice, and add.

Drain water from the paneer and add it to the rice. Add the peas and stir everything gently just one time so the rice, paneer, peas, and spices are well combined. Let the rice cook on medium heat until you see bubbles appearing on top of the rice. Cover the saucepan with a lid. When you see steam escaping through the lid, turn the heat to low, and cook the mattar paneer pulao for 10-15 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Hearty Lentil Soup with Rasam Powder

Lentil Soup with Rasam Powder3
I pretend I’m on the TV show Chopped, when my fridge and pantry are down to their last few vegetables – one potato, one onion, one carrot, a few stalks of celery, tail end of the parsley, and lentils. That is how I came up with this recipe.

The rasam part of the recipe was included because both my daughter and I had sore throats. Rasam is a watery, spicy, tart Indian soup. The English called it mulligatawny soup. The name originates from the Tamil words milagu and thanni which translates to pepper-water.

Rasam powder can be bought at Indian grocery stores. Its spicy but you can adjust the amount you use to your own level of comfort. This soup is excellent when you have a cough or cold. It clears the sinuses, helps with digestion, and it is rich in vitamins. I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we did.

Hearty Lentil Soup with Rasam Powder
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8

1 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons oil
6 medium garlic cloves
2 teaspoons whole black pepper, (optional)
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1-2 tablespoons Aachi Rasam Powder, (depending on heat and your preference)
1 cup whole green lentils, (French green lentils)
1 cup whole brown lentils, (masoor dal)
3-4 cups water, (enough to cover the lentils by two inches)
1 cup carrot cubes
1 cup potato cubes
½ cup diced celery
14.5 can of diced tomatoes
32 oz (2 lbs) vegetable or chicken broth, (99% fat free, low sodium)
1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar, (optional)
2 tablespoons minced parsley, (optional)

Fry the onion in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent.

While the onions are getting translucent, crush the garlic, black pepper, and cumin in a mortar and pestle. Crush them well so the pepper breaks into tiny pieces. Add the crushed ingredients to the onion and cook until fragrant, about three minutes. Add the rasam powder, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add the lentils and enough hot water to cover the lentils by two inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook for 30 minutes.

Increase the heat to high and add carrot, potato, celery, tomato, vegetable broth, balsamic vinegar, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to low, cover partially, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the lentils have darkened. Add parsley and cook for another five minutes with the lid off. Stir well and serve hot. Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for two days. Warm over low heat until hot.

Reposting – Doughnuts – Indian Style

Doughnuts Usha
This picture was taken by my friend, Usha David, who made these doughnuts for her family recently. Thank you for sharing this picture with me, Usha.

Doughnuts – Indian Style
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable oil or melted ghee
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup milk
Peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

In a bowl, sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl whisk together egg, oil and vanilla. Add egg mixture into the flour and gently mix until crumbly. Add milk little by little until the dough hold together. Add a few teaspoons of flour if the dough is sticky. Knead until it forms a nice smooth dough. Cover with a damp paper towel, and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into two portions. Turn one portion out on to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a ten inch round. Cut using a doughnut cutter which is dipped in a little flour. This helps the doughnuts to slide off the cutter easily. Do the same with the other portion of the dough. Line a platter with paper towels.

In a deep, heavy saucepan, pour in oil to a depth of two inches, and heat. When oil is hot place a few doughnuts at a time in the hot oil. Using a slotted spoon remove doughnuts when they turn golden brown on both sides. Place them on paper towel lined platter to drain. If you like, you can use a fine mesh sieve to dust the doughnuts with confectioners’ sugar.

Red Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

Red Quinoa and Asparagus Salad
Quinoa comes in a rainbow of colors. You can even find a packaged blend in rainbow colors. When cooked, each color is slightly different from the other in texture and flavor. I find white quinoa is the best substitute for rice and it cooks a little faster than the others.

Red quinoa, in today’s recipe, works really well because it has a rich nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture. Check the package to see if the quinoa is pre-washed. If not, wash the quinoa in several changes of water to remove the bitter outer coating, before cooking. You can buy quinoa at Wegmans or Trader Joe’s. You can also purchase it on line from Amazon.

What’s your favorite way to eat quinoa? Please share your comments on my blog or on my Facebook page.

Red Quinoa and Asparagus Salad
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-6

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus, (about one pound)
5 radishes, cut into matchsticks
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
5 oz (142 g) sweet baby lettuce (or lettuce of your choice)

Cut the asparagus on bias into 1-inch pieces. Blanch the asparagus in a pot of salted, boiling water, for three minutes. Drop into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Wash the quinoa in a sieve under running water, until the water runs clear. Drain. Add the quinoa and stock into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to the lowest point, cover with a lid and let it cook for 20 minutes. Cool.

Juice and zest the lemon and add to a large bowl. Add asparagus, radish, tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the quinoa and toss to combine. Chill for five minutes.

Put a large handful of baby lettuce on a plate and top with the red quinoa and asparagus salad. No dressing required.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

Zucchini and Corn Fritters
There are several ways to enjoy these zucchini and corn fritters. You can put them in a sandwich, have them as a side dish, or pair them with a spring salad for a lovely, light lunch. You can make these fritters gluten free by using one cup of pure cornstarch instead of the cornstarch and all purpose flour listed in the ingredients. While reading about gluten free, I learned that anything can be contaminated with gluten during processing. If you want to be on the ultra-safe side, it’s always best to buy ingredients that are certified gluten-free.

When I made these fritters the first time, I did not squeeze the excess water from the shredded zucchini and it made my batter too thin. So, use a cheesecloth to squeeze the excess water from the zucchini. Save the liquid. You can always add a tablespoon or two of the zucchini water to make the batter a thick, pouring consistency.

Summer is a great time to experiment with fresh herbs. I used oregano in this recipe but you can use whatever herbs float your boat! Or, Indianize it with cilantro, whole crushed cumin or coriander seeds, and dry chilli flakes.

What are some of your favorites herbs and spices? Do you use herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, and marjoram to give your Indian recipes a new twist? I look forward to your comments on my blog or on my Facebook page.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes: 20

2 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup Argo cornstarch, (Argo & Bob’s Red Mill are gluten free)
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon pepper
1¼ teaspoons salt, (or to taste)
4 cups shredded zucchini, (squeeze water out)
1½ cups thawed frozen corn
1 cup finely chopped green onions, (white and green parts)
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeño, (optional, depending on heat and your preference)
5 tablespoons grape seed oil, (or oil of your choice)

In a large bowl add slightly beaten eggs, cornstarch, flour, baking soda, pepper, and salt. Use a cheesecloth to squeeze excess water from the shredded zucchini. Save the liquid. Add zucchini, corn, green onion, oregano, and jalapeño to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl. Mix well to combine. Stir in a tablespoon or two of the zucchini water if the batter is too dry.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil for shallow frying and when it shimmers, add half cup of the batter. Gently spread to form a three-inch pancake. Make three more fritters. When the edges start turning light brown, about three minutes, turn over and fry the other side for two minutes. Remove on to a paper towel lined sheet pan. Make the rest of the fritters.

Reposting – Black Eyed Peas Curry – Lobia Curry


Black Eyed Peas Curry – Lobia Curry
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6

3 15.5oz (439g) cans of black eyed peas, drained
¼ cup oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 bay leaf, torn into two
2 black cardamoms
1-inch piece of cinnamon, broken into bits
½ of one star anise
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
2 cups blanched, skinned, and diced tomatoes
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
1½ cups of water
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
2 tablespoons kasori methi, crushed
2-3 slit green chillies, (optional)

Place a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and when it shimmers, add the onion, bay leaf, black cardamoms, cinnamon, star anise, cumin, and cloves. Fry the onion and spices until the onion turns light brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Stir constantly and cook for about two minutes or until the raw smell of ginger-garlic disappears. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, and chili powder. Stir well and let the tomatoes cook until the oil separates.

Next, add the black eyed peas, water, and salt. Let it come to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Finally, add the garam masala, kasori methi, and green chilli. Stir and let it cook for another five minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro or whole green chillies.

How to Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

How to Season Your Cast Iron SkilletMy mother-in-law had two beautiful cast iron skillets that I loved to use when I cooked in her kitchen. When I moved to the U.S., I bought a couple of my own. Cooking in a cast iron skillet increases the iron content in food. The longer the food is in contact with the skillet the more iron it will absorb. Cast iron skillets can be used to cook on the stove, the oven or the grill.

You may ask, what is seasoning and why do I need to season my cast iron skillet? Coating your cast iron skillet with cooking oil or shortening and baking it in an oven at 350° F for an hour is called seasoning. This process makes the surface of your cast iron skillet non-stick.

This past weekend, I used my cast iron skillet to make a scrumptious apple pie. I will share the recipe with you soon. But first, I want to share some easy steps on how to season your cast iron skillet. If taken care of properly, a good cast iron skillet can last a lifetime. It can be passed down to your children as an heirloom. I bet they will be happy to inherit it.

Here are the steps on how to season your cast iron skillet:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Wash the skillet with warm, soapy water. Use a sponge or stiff brush to clean grime.
3. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
4. Use a paper towel or a piece of cloth to apply a thin coat of vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening to the inside and outside of the skillet.
5. Place the skillet upside down on the oven’s center rack.
6. Place a sheet of aluminum foil below the rack to catch any particles or oil that may drip.
7. Bake for one hour.
8. Turn off the oven and allow the skillet to cool completely, before taking it out of the oven.

Idli – Rice and Lentil Steamed Cake

Idlis are traditional South Indian steamed rice cakes that are eaten at breakfast or at tea time. Black lentils and rice are soaked, ground, fermented, poured into idli moulds, steamed, and eaten with sambar and chutney. There are hundreds of variations. Making idlis, when I lived in India, was easy. The climate was conducive to the fermentation process. After moving to the US, I had to learn some new tricks to get the batter to cooperate.

The table top wet grinder that my daughter bought for me as a birthday gift made the grinding process easy (thank you, daughter). Many of my friends still use their trusted mixies (powerful blenders) to do the job. I learned the most important secret to soft, spongy idlis is using the right amount of water while grinding the lentils and rice. So, in my directions below, I’ll go to great lengths to explain the process and to give you the approximate amount of water to be used.

Fermenting the batter in winter is difficult. I turn the oven on and bring the temperature up to 200°F. Then I turn the oven off, wait for about 15 minutes and then put the batter in the oven. I also leave the oven light on to ensure that the oven stays warm. To avoid accidents, I put a sheet tray under the pot just in case the batter overflows. Could I be more optimistic than that?

While experimenting with this recipe, I tested using a teaspoon and a half of fenugreek seeds which I soaked along with the rice to help with the fermentation process, but it changed the color of the idli. So, instead, I recommend using beaten rice (poha), or cooked rice. To get the light sour taste and smell in your idlis, the batter has to ferment well. Using three tablespoons of starter batter also helps to achieve this.

Try my recipe, and I hope your next batch of idlis will turn out perfectly. If you do try my recipe, please post a picture of your results on my Facebook page.

Prep Time: 8 hours (includes soaking time but does not include time to ferment batter)
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 8 (makes around 72 small 2.5″ idlis)

3 cups idli rice
1 cup whole black lentils, (whole urad dal)
½ cup beaten rice, (flattened rice flakes, poha)
3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons olive oil or sesame oil, (to grease idli mould)

Wash the rice in three changes of water. Place it in a large bowl and add filtered water to cover the rice by about three inches. Set it aside for four hours.

After the rice has soaked for four hours, soak the black lentils. Wash the lentils in three changes of water. Put it into a medium bowl and add filtered water to cover it by about three inches. Soak the beaten rice in a small bowl with one cup of filtered water. Let the rice, lentils, and beaten rice soak for one hour.

I used a table top wet grinder to make the idli batter. Clean the grinder. Drain the black lentils. Make sure that you save the water the lentils were soaking in. Use this water when you grind. I also want to tell you that the amount of water that I suggest works well for me. But it depends on the kind of rice and lentils you will use. It might require a little more or a little less water. But this will give you an idea.

Add the drained lentils and 1 cup of water into the grinder and turn it on. The whole process of grinding the lentils will take about 15 minutes. Let the machine run for five minutes. Scrape the sides and add ½ cup water and grind for another five minutes. You will see the batter turn light, fluffy, and increase in volume. Scrape the sides and add another ½ cup of water – one tablespoon at a time. Grind for five minutes. Turn the machine off and feel the batter. It should be light and when you rub the batter between your finger and thumb, the texture should be smooth and light. You should not feel any coarse grains, and if you put a spoon full into a bowl of water it will float. Remove the lentil batter into a large stainless steel pot.

If there is a little of the lentil batter remaining in the wet grinder, don’t worry. Add the rice and ½ cup water. Then, while the machine is running add another ½ cup of water. Grind for five minutes. Scrape the sides. Drain the beaten rice. Add it to the rice and add ½ cup water and grind for ten minutes. Scrape the sides, add salt, ½ cup water – one tablespoon at a time – and grind for the final ten minutes. Turn off the machine. It will take about 20-25 minutes to grind the rice. The batter can be anywhere from slightly coarse to smooth. Depends on how you like it.

Add the rice batter to the lentil batter in the large pot. The batter will rise during fermentation, so make sure that the pot is only half full of batter. Mix the lentil batter and rice batter with your hand. The warmth of your hand will help speed the fermentation process. If you live in a country where the weather is hot. You can leave your pot on your kitchen counter. However, if it is cold, turn your oven to 200°F. Wait for about 15 minutes. Cover the pot with a lid, set the pot in the oven, and turn the oven light on. The batter will ferment in about 8-10 hours. I leave it overnight and make idlis in the morning for breakfast.

When you are ready to start making idlis, fold the batter using a spatula. Just like you would do with a light, chiffon cake! The rice batter would have fallen to the bottom of the pot and the lentil batter would have risen to the top. Fold them together, gently.

Grease the idli mould with olive oil or sesame oil. Fill the idli mould leaving a little space for the batter to rise. Steam for 12 minutes. I use an idli steamer for this purpose but you can also use your pressure cooker (weight not required). Let the idlis cool down before you remove them with a wet idli spoon or butter knife.

The idlis turn out best on the first day. They freeze well. So you can use the whole batter to make idlis on the first day and then freeze them for use later. I usually make idlis on the first day and then use the remaining batter to make dosas. Store the batter in the refrigerator. Just add a little water to make the batter a pouring consistency before you make dosas.

To reheat idlis put them in a steamer. Or, if you are like me, put three idlis in a small bowl, put three drops of water in the center of each idli and microwave them for 20 seconds. You will have to eat the microwaved idlis right away because they get tough after a while. If you have ideas that could help me make better idlis, let me know. If you have questions for me, I’m only a phone call or email away.