Winter Soup

Winter Soup1

Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup on a chilly night, and we’ve been having a lot of those recently. This recipe is sure to become one of your staples. It calls for vegetable stock – a recipe I shared with you last week.

This is a hearty vegetable soup with earthy garbanzos, potatoes, and kale. I’ve browned  the potatoes lightly to deepen their flavor.

I use only the green part of the kale leaves. An easy way to prepare the kale for this soup is to hold each kale leaf upside down by the stem and pull the leaves off, then stack the large greens one on top of the other, roll them into tight bundles and slice them into thin strips.

Hope you get a chance to relax, sit by the fire, and enjoy this delicious soup this winter.

Winter Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

2 tablespoons oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 cups 1-inch cubed potatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon chilli flakes, (optional)
salt to taste
3 cups chopped kale leaves, (tough ribs and stems removed)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can garbanzos, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable stock, (check my recipe or use low sodium store-bought vegetable stock)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and potatoes. Cover and cook for four to five minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, pepper, chili flakes, and kale. Stir and let the kale wilt. Add tomatoes, garbanzo and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Once the soup starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.

Potato Salad

Potato Salad3
America’s independence day is around the corner and one of our family favorites for 4th of July celebrations is potato salad. I usually use Russet potatoes for my salad but this time I experimented with Yukon gold potatoes instead. I’m happy to report that I really liked the flavor and texture it added to my otherwise simple recipe. The smoked paprika also added great depth of flavor. Try it and let me know if you feel the same as I do.

Happy 4th of July.

Potato Salad
12 medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 3 lbs)
5 eggs
6 cornichons (small pickled gherkins), chopped
3 whole green onions, chopped (use white and light green parts only)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1¼ cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon black pepper

Wash and boil potatoes in salted water until they are tender when tested with a fork. Drain, cool, peel and chop into bite sized cubes.

Place the eggs in a pot and cover them with cold water. Once the water comes to a boil, cover the pot with a lid and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Cool, peel and chop them into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, cornichons, green onion and celery. Add mayonnaise, salt, paprika, and black pepper. Gently stir so that it coats the potatoes, eggs and other ingredients evenly. Refrigerate for at least three hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Tuna Cutlets

Tuna Cutlet3Tuna cutlets used to be a popular item on my menu several years ago. I made some over the weekend so I thought I would share my recipe with you. The list of ingredients may look daunting but this recipe is a keeper and you will be happy you tried it. Sometimes I add a handful of chopped walnuts into the mix and it adds a great crunch to the cutlet.

You can use these cutlets as a side dish, an appetizer, or a snack. I have used them in sandwiches with a chipolte mayonnaise spread or cilantro and mint chutney. I’ve also eaten them just rolled up with some chopped onions in a naan or paratha. Eat them any way you please!

Tuna Cutlets
3 7oz cans (I used white tuna in water)
2 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed
2 cups finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
6 finely chopped green chillies, optional
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon pepper powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ cup all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Oil for seasoning and shallow frying

Drain and flake the tuna using a fork. Set aside.

Heat a non stick pan over medium high heat. Add three tablespoons of oil and when it shimmers add the chopped onion and fry until the onions turn light brown. Add ginger, garlic, and green chillies. Sauté for two minutes. Turn the heat to low and add the chilli powder, pepper, turmeric, garam masala and two teaspoons of salt. Sauté for a minute and then add the tuna. Fry until the pieces of tuna turn light brown. Add chopped cilantro and lemon juice and turn off the heat. Let the tuna mixture cool for 10-15 minutes and then add the mashed potato. Mix well with a potato masher. At this point you might want to taste to see if you need more salt. Form the cutlets into whatever shape you desire.

Arrange the breading ingredients in an assembly-line fashion. First, in a shallow dish season flour with ¼ teaspoon salt. In another shallow dish, whisk eggs with one tablespoon water and ¼ teaspoon salt. In a third shallow dish put the panko bread crumbs. Working with one piece at a time, dredge both sides of the cutlet in the flour, knocking off the excess. Then dip both sides of floured cutlet in the egg mixture. Finally, coat both sides of the cutlet with panko bread crumbs.

Set a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and pour in enough oil for shallow frying, about one and a half inches. When the oil is hot, about five minutes, add the cutlets. Fry them in batches rather than over crowding the skillet. Fry the cutlets until golden brown on both sides. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined tray. These cutlets can be served with a cilantro and mint chutney. The recipe for the cilantro and mint chutney can be found at the bottom of the Bangalore Vadais post.

Potato, Leek, and Jalapeno Frittata

Potato, Leek and Jalapeno Frittata2

This is an easy egg dish to make when you have guests for breakfast or brunch. The recipe is so versatile, you can add just about any ingredient you fancy and it makes an impressive main dish or side for your table. In fact, the combination of eggs, grated potatoes, and cheese, makes this an all-in-one full breakfast. Add some blueberry pancakes, and you can skip the trip the your local diner!

If you try this recipe with a combination of ingredients that you love, please share the recipe with me and the rest your fellow readers.

Potato, Leek, and Jalapeno Frittata
3 tablespoon butter
3 cups grated potatoes
3 cups sliced leeks, white and light-green parts thinly sliced
3 jalapeno peppers, seeds and membranes removed and finely chopped
8 eggs
¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Grease a nine-inch pie dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Heat butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add potato, leek, and jalapeno. Stir and cook for about eight minutes, until potatoes are softened. Cool for a few minutes and then spread evenly on the bottom of the pie dish. You can even do this a day ahead. Cover with a saran wrap and keep refrigerated until you are ready to make the frittata.

In a large bowl beat eggs, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over the potato, leek and jalapeno mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Test to make sure that the eggs are set and the top is golden brown. Garnish each slice with a leek knot as seen in the picture. This frittata makes a beautiful dish for brunch.

Nutrela Curry

Nutrela Curry2I’m lucky to have one of my nephews living close by. He recently dropped some groceries to my home and said, “Aunty, I see that you are cooking a lot because of your new website, so I thought I would bring you some ingredients!” Thank you, Eddy!

Among the ingredients he brought was a box of Nutrela Soya Chunks. It is made by Ruchi and comes in three variations – soya chunks, mini-chunks, and granules. It is known in India as Soy Mealmaker and it can be purchased at Indian grocery stores or even from It is an excellent source of protein and a great alternative to meat for vegetarians. I use soya chunks to replicate non-vegetarian dishes. I find that it takes on the taste and flavor of the spices and vegetables that I add.

The first step in preparing Nutrela for cooking involves soaking the chunks in warm salt water for ten minutes. You can omit the salt if you intend to make a sweet dish or if you have salt restrictions. The second step involves draining the water and washing the chunks until the water runs clear. Squeeze the excess water from the chunks and it is ready for you to use in your curry. Here is a recipe that I tested yesterday.

Nutrela Curry
1 cup chopped onions
1 inch piece of ginger
5 cloves of garlic
3 green chillies
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 tablespoons oil
4 cloves
4 green cardamoms
2 bay leaves
2 black cardamoms
1 inch piece of cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 cup diced potatoes
½ cup frozen peas
2 cups soya chunks (soaked, drained, washed per instructions on the Nutrela box)
2 cups vegetable stock
salt to taste
½ cup yoghurt

Pulse onions, ginger, garlic, chillies, and cilantro in a blender and process until it is ground. Scrape down the sides of the blender once during the process. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the whole spices (garam masala) – cloves, green and black cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cumin seeds. When the cinnamon stick unfurls and the cloves and other spices pop add the ground onion mixture. Cook stirring until fragrant, about five minutes.

Next add the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates and the oil separates. Add the chilli, coriander, turmeric powder and salt. Stir for 30 seconds and then add potatoes, peas, soya chunks, and stir in the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes and peas are done and the curry begins to thicken. Add the yoghurt, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another seven minutes. Your delicious, protein-packed curry is ready to be served with steaming hot rice.

Puri and Bhaji

Growing up in Pune, Maharashtra, my family often traveled by train to Mumbai. Traveling by train was always exciting. Whenever we stopped at a station, I would scan the platform, looking for the puri-bhaji and aloo bonda walas (vendors). Puri-bhaji is a quick and satisfying fix for hungry travelers! I remember relishing every bite – an integral part of our trip’s adventure. And as the train pulled away, we eagerly awaited the next station for dessert – the famous Lonavala chikki. Simple pleasures are what some of my memories are made of.

Today, I am sharing a recipe for puris and bhaji. Puris are whole-wheat deep-fried bread, and bhaji is a potato side dish that often accompanies puris. Puris and bhaji can be served as a meal by itself or individually as side dishes. The main ingredients for bhaji are potatoes and onions. I’ve spiced my bhaji recipe with a twist on the train platform offering. Hope you like my version!

For the Puris
2 cups wheat flour (Indian wheat flour or Pillsbury Chakki atta)
2 teaspoons oil
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon of warm water (approximately)

Put the wheat flour in a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the center of it. Add two teaspoons of oil. Mix the flour, and oil well. Add salt to the warm water, and add it to the flour. Knead to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into 20 equal sized balls. Cover with a damp paper towel, and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

Heat oil for deep frying in a heavy bottomed wok.

With the help of very little dry flour roll each ball into 4” diameter diskettes. Cover them with damp paper towels until all the puris are made. Deep fry on medium-high heat until light brown on both sides.

For the Bhaji
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon yellow split peas (Channa dal)
1 teaspoon split black gram (Urad dal)
1 stalk curry leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
3-4 finely chopped green chillies (adjust to your taste)
3 cups sliced red onions
3 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 diced tomato
4 cups diced boiled potatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large pan. Add mustard seeds, and when they splutter add cumin seeds. Lower the heat to medium, and add the yellow split peas, and wait for a minute until they they turn light brown. Add the spit black gram, stir until they also turn light brown. Then add the curry leaves, ginger, green chillies, onion, salt, and turmeric. Saute until the onion turns transparent. Add the tomato, and saute for another two minutes then add the diced potatoes. Mix gently, cover the dish, and let it cook over low heat for five minutes. Serve garnished with chopped coriander.

Lomo Saltado

As a farewell gift to me, my colleagues at the World Bank compiled a cookbook of recipes from each of their home countries. This is my first blog post and to honor them I am featuring one of my favorite dishes from Peru, Lomo Saltado. Thank you, Ruth Delgado Flynn, for sharing your recipe with me. I have made some changes to the recipe because I could not find Aji Amarillo (Peruvian yellow hot pepper). So, I replaced it with Aji Amarillo paste and Panca Pepper paste.

The dish tasted authentic, with just the right amount of heat from the aji pepper paste and I was thrilled that I could make it at home! I made the French fries from scratch but you can use store bought frozen fries. If you like Lomo Saltado, give this recipe a try. You will not be disappointed.

Keep checking my blog because you never know when I will feature another recipe that you shared with me!

Lomo Saltado (adapted from Ruth Delgado’s recipe)
1 ½ lbs beef sirloin or tenderloin
1 tablespoon grated garlic cloves
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons Aji amarillo paste
2 tablespoons Panca pepper paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon pepper powder
1 large red onion, cut into strips and separated
3 plum tomatoes, de-seeded and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
2 large Russet potatoes
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste

For the French fries (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook)

Peel potatoes and cut them lengthwise into ¼ inch thick fries (French fries). Rinse fries several times until the starchy water turns clear. Cover them with cold water and with three cups of ice cubes. Leave them in the water and ice for about 30 minutes.

Heat oil for deep frying in a large wok until the temperature reaches 325 degrees.

Pour ice and water off and wrap fries in a clean towel and pat completely dry. Add a handful of fries at a time to the hot oil and cook until the fries turn light golden in color. About 8 minutes. Remove fries with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Drain for ten minutes. Cook remaining fries.

When you are ready to serve the Lomo Saltado, reheat the oil to 350 degrees and fry the French fries again until light brown and crisp. Remove fries and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over them. Gently add them to the prepared Lomo Saltado just before you serve.

For the Lomo Saltado

Cut beef into ½ inch thick strips. In a bowl add garlic, ginger, aji paste, panca paste, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, cumin powder, pepper powder and beef. Stir so beef is well coated and marinate for 20 minutes. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan until very hot. Place half the pieces of beef and let it get brown on one side before you turn it over (about three minutes). Do not add liquid from marinade. Stir fry until all the beef turns brown. Remove and add another tablespoon of oil and repeat the above process with the rest of the beef. Remove from the pan. Add the last tablespoon of oil and add red onions and stir fry for two minutes. Add tomatoes, a pinch of salt and the beef and stir fry for another two minutes. At this point if you want a little sauce sprinkle two tablespoons of water and stir fry for a minute. Add French fries and cilantro. Serve with white rice.