June 13, 2017

Tarkari diye chanar dalna (Paneer and vegetable curry)

Vegetable and paneer curry


When all the leaves fell down last fall, we discovered an abandoned nest in the red maple tree in our front yard. It was small and lasted through most of the winter. In the spring rain last couple of months, it almost disintegrated.

The leaves came back in the maple and we forgot about the nest. Then just yesterday, we found that the birds have come back to the nest, readied it and made it their home again. Now there are four little babies hanging out in the nest.

In other news, the veggie patch has been planted, the roses are blooming again and it is the last week of school.

The temperatures are soaring, we had a few days in the 90deg F. When it happens, I switch to light curries and this chanar dalna or paneer curry is one of them. With onion, ginger and tomatoes as the base, you can add any vegetable available. I added potato, carrot, peas and beans, but you could add some cauliflower, broccoli, summer squashes too.

Here is how I made it:

Ingredients:
(serves 4-5)
1 1/2 lbs chana or paneer, cut into cubes  
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped  
1 medium onion - sliced thinly
1 tspoon grated fresh ginger
2 green chillies
2  potatoes cut in cubes
1/2 cup green peas
2 carrots - cubed
1/2 cup green beans cut
2 tspoons  cumin and coriander powder
2-3 green cardamoms
1 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tspoon cumin seeds
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder  
4-5 tbspoon oil
1/4 tspoon sugar
Salt to taste
bunch of cilantro for garnishing

Method:
Heat all but 1 tbspoon oil and put in the paneer pieces and saute them till they start to turn brown. Then put them in salted warm water. 

In the same oil, add the potatoes next and saute them lightly. Keep them aside.

Now add the rest of the oil and temper it with cumin seeds, bay leaves, green chillies. Then add the cardamom and cinnamon. Saute for a minute and then add the onions. Story for 3-4 minutes till it turns translucent  Now add the ginger and the turmeric powder. 

After a minute add the vegetables - carrots, beans, potatoes and peas. Let it all salute together for a minute. Then add the tomatoes, cumin and coriander powder. 

Let it cook together for a couple of minutes till it starts to stick. 

Add the salt and about 1 1/2 cups of water. Let it cook for another 5-6 minutes till the potatoes and carrots are cooked.

Vegetable and paneer curry

Take it off the heat, garnish with cilantro (optional) and serve warm with rice or chapatis. 

May 28, 2017

Black beans and vegetables rice

Blackbeans & vegetables rice

School year is slowly coming to a close and as we near it somehow it increasingly get busier - class trips, holiday planning, activities for kids and summer planning. While it is exciting, it is a little nerve-wrecking too.

The local YMCA here has a bunch of kids camps that are fun but fill up quickly. Last year, I was on time and managed to sign up Lil A. This year, I didn't have the summer plans ready in February when the camps opened. By the time I went to register, the classes were full. I managed to find other camps.

But am curious, how do your kids spend summer holidays?

On the other hand, summer means lot of outdoor fun and grilling.

As the grilling season begins, I am always looking for sides to go with the entree - tandoori chicken, grilled veggies, kabobs, etc. Watermelon salad is a favorite. And I think I may have found a new favorite.

This black beans and vegetables rice will go with everything. I made it quickly over a weeknight dinner with some friends and served it with some chicken curry and a lettuce and cucumber salad. I used snow peas, cherry tomatoes and green beans, but you could put virtually anything. The flavor of the rice comes from the fresh vegetables, garlic and fresh herbs. I used cilantro and parsley but I could see dill and mint adding a bunch of flavors too.

April 28, 2017

Teriyaki Salmon curry with vegetables

Salmon Teriyaki with vegetables

Now that the weather is warming up, what have you been up to?

The Eberwhite woods are in front of us. When the weather is nice, I sometimes cross through the woods for Lil A's school which is on the other side. The woods is home to a pair of great horned owls. We hears the owls in the fall when Lil A had his soccer practice outside.

This spring the owls have babies - two little baby owls. They are high up in the tree and we could see them with a binocular. We have taken several trips to get a glimpse of the babies.  In the process we also met some western painted turtles who live by the swamp, and even saw a snake.

The babies are now learning how to fly. Here is a story that appeared in the local media about it.  

Coming back to the recipe. Lil A loves salmon and snow peas and peppers too. So I combined all of them together in a recipe. It was delicious. Except for the kids, I had to separate them and serve it.  I served it with some plain rice, but you could even serve it with noodles. 

I bought a bottle of teriyaki sauce and a pack of panko crumbs. I also added a small tomato puree in the sauce and the sweet and sour sauce was delicious. 

Here is the recipe:

April 13, 2017

Gajar matar er tarkari - carrot and peas

Carrot and peas curry


Aswin went to India in February for a short visit. While he was at my parents place, my mom made the gajar-matar er tarkari for dinner. A staple that is made during the winter months with the red carrots that are available during the season with simplest of phorons (tempering) and served with hot rotis.

You know where this is going. Aswin loved it so much that I was on the phone asking my mom the recipe.

I didn't have the red carrots, but I made it immediately with the orange ones available here. One bite and it took me straight back to the cold winters, when one is covered in a shawl constantly drawing the edges closer, the fog of the cold winter washing by as the auto whizzes through a street still waking up. And in the bag in the lap is a tiffin-box packed with parathas and this sabji.

Carrot and peas curry

That's the power of taste, and memories embedded somewhere deep inside.

March 26, 2017

Making jalebi from scratch

Making Jalebis - Indian sweet


I had an unusual request this week. Doing an Indian food demo for a class of undergraduate students learning about "Foods of Asia".

This was my first demo class ever and I was nervous. It was in a residence hall kitchen and the faculties are pretty spectacular. I chose to make - Chicken tikka masala, dal with dill and tomatoes and pulao.

I prepped and marinated the chicken before but other than that, we did the rest during the class. The students helped me chop the vegetables, stirred the dal and rice, and made the chicken tikka.

The funniest moment came when an Indian-American student in the class refused to eat dal saying he ate it every day growing up. I told him "that is what I do to my kids too. I hope they won't hate dal when they grew up."

It was a fun experience - interacting with the students, the professor and the graduate student. Tasting food with them and watching the interactions. Thank you for the opportunity.

Now I am interested in doing some cooking classes. Friends who have done it, will you give me some advice? What are some of the key lessons/tips?

Coming back to the recipe, it's one of the things I learned to make at home because the kids like it. Such a balance - making them eat what I want them to eat and what they want to eat.

Here is how I made it. I just searched the internet and used the recipe from the blog - Madura's kitchen.

February 13, 2017

Brownies for Valentine's Day

Brownie

Time for Valentine's Day, what are you doing? Any chocolates, cookies or brownies in the making? I love a good brownie. For years, I resisted making it at home and then caved in when Tiny M confessed to a major chocolate love. How can you not, right?

For recipe, I turned to the famous Browneyed Baker's Bake Brownie. I've like that it doesn't use any baking powder or soda like some of the others did. I tried it with only chocolate and only cocoa and the it tastes best when both of them are added.

I've made it many times and the brownie turns out just the way we like it, rich, dense, and fudgey. It is rich and indulgent, and just perfect for Valentine's Day.

Here is the recipe with my tweaks. For original recipe, click here.

January 27, 2017

Pikachu birthday cookies

Pokemon cookies


Pikachu, Charmander, Bunnelby and the list goes on. These names were alien to me just a year ago and now I hear them non stop as Lil A debates their power, damage and strengths. In case you were wondering, they are all Pokemon characters and Lil A is into collecting Pokemon cards.

Pokemon cookiesIt all started last summer when a couple of his older friends gave him a few Pokemon cards and he was hooked. Slowly he figured out the trading part. He was so excited when he got his first EX card. Yes, it is supposed to be a big deal!

So when his birthday rolled by, I decided to surprise him with some Pokemon cookies. I ordered a few Pokemon cutters and got to work. As this was a school treat, I decided to minimize glazing.

I put some food color in the cookie dough and just colored the eyes and mouth with sugar and food color mix.

It made the impact I was hoping it would make. Lil A was all excited and he and his friends enjoyed the treats.

Here is a small trick I learned with this cookie. For best results, refrigerate the dough before putting it in the oven as well.

Here is how I did it.

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