Salmon fried rice


DSC_0265

This is just the kind of food you want to indulge in from keeping your waistline into an ever expanding universe. Healthy, nourishing, nutritious and all too tasty..how often do you even read all these adjectives in the same sentence?

Well my darlings, if you’re still on about healthy eating this year (why?), then this fantastic recipe is the one for you. Packed full on with flavours, yet strangely subtle. This bowl promises to comfort without making you fat. It’s sustenance and all too easy to scarf down in heaping abundance. No guilt, only pleasure. Your taste buds will thank you and your insides will give a content round of applause. It’s so easy and quick to put together that you’ll see yourself tottering in smug satisfaction as you lay this humble yet celestially righteous bowl of gratifying health for all to see and eat.

This does a superb double take as not only a solitary lunch but also as a quick meal for many.

 

DSC_0224 copyA bit many ingredients, but they’re not a whole lot.paprika, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice, chopped onions, ginger and garlic as the flavour base. Salmon, peas and spinach, hard boiled eggs and that’s really it. (psst. use any fish you have available)

 

DSC_0227dry roast the cumin and peppercorns, until they’re just fragrant

 

DSC_0230These need to be crushed along with other spices

 

DSC_0231

DSC_0232In with the salt and paprika

 

DSC_0233and you crush it within an inch of their existence, or until they’re nicely crushed

 

DSC_0235like so..

 

DSC_0236now for a gentle massage or rub..however you prefer

 

DSC_0238an now for a bit of tasteful dismemberment..or you can just cut in to chunks

 

DSC_0239In a pot of choice, heat some oil and add in the chopped onions

 

DSC_0241casually throw in the chopped ginger

 

DSC_0244followed closely by lemon zest

 

DSC_0245and in with the fish chunks. Cook for a few minutes, until the fish is more or less cooked.

 

DSC_0247Add in the chopped garlic and stir for a minute more.

 

DSC_0248Plonk in all the vegetables (peas and spinach) and stir for just another minute until the spinach wilts. (I’m using frozen peas, so it takes just a minute for them to cook. If you’re using fresh peas, you might want to add them a bit earlier or pre cook them)

 

DSC_0251now for the rice. I used a rice cooker and steamed the rice with a clove and black cardamom pod (totally optional)

 

DSC_0252In they go

 

DSC_0253

mix it well and add in the lemon juice. taste for seasoning, you might want to add in a touch more salt.

 

DSC_0269Embellish with eggs if you please. This recipe has real oomph and wow factor. It looks simple, and it is simple, but the flavours manage to hit all the right spots without jarring your senses.

_________________________________

Ingredients

Salmon fillet: 170g

Onion: 1 medium sized. finely chopped

Ginger: 1 inch stem finely chopped

Garlic-2-3 cloves finely chopped

Paprika: 1/2 tsp

Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

Black peppercorns: 1 tsp

lemon:1 (zest+juice)

salt: 1 tsp + more

Cooked rice: 150g-200g (about 1 cup)

Peas: 100g (1/2 cup)

Eggs (optional) : 1-2 (hardboiled or to your preferred doneness)

Spinach: big bunch (it wilts down to almost nothing when cooked. Use a lot if you really want to see it in your dish)

Salmon fillet or fish chunks: 150g

Oil to cook: 1 tbsp

—————————————

Recipe instructions: Dry roast the cumin seeds and black peppercorns for a minute or so and crush along with paprika and salt. Rub the salmon fillet on both sides with this dry mixture and cut into chunks.

In a large pot, heat some oil and add in the chopped onions and ginger. Cook for a few seconds until translucent and add in the lemon zest and stir fry for half a minute. Add in the fish and cook for a couple minutes until fish is almost done. Add in the garlic and stir together for a minute or so.

Add in the peas and spinach and cook for another minute, until the spinach is wilted and fish is completely cooked.

Add in the cooked rice and stir it all together, until all rice is well incorporated throughout the mixture and each grain is coated with flavour.

check for seasoning, add more salt if you prefer.

Finally squeeze in the lemon and briefly stir.

Serve hot, flecked with chunks of hard boiled eggs.

Enjoy!!

 

Fat free granola


DSC_0127

This one’s for all you new year resolution junkies out there, those who think and believe that promising themselves to eat better for one whole year (gasp) will make them thinner. It will make you thinner if you eat better and healthier, but one whole year..who does that? and we all know these resolutions come with an expiry date, spanning anywhere between few hours to few weeks, so onto the bandwagon we go.. with health food for the new year.

Health food has such eew connotations, as it should and why not, but this fat free or almost fat free granola is really good. For starters it’s extremely easy, not to mention it’s also pretty tasty. So in case you’re a fridge/pantry pirate, looking for booty to snack on (that so didn’t come out right, but my new years resolution is to be wrong and not bother), then this granola is just the thing for you. easy on the waistline, high on the crunch and the best part is, you can fill it up with all your favourite nuts and dried fruits.

So here, we, Go!

 

DSC_0091 copy

easy peasy ingredients. almonds and walnuts (or nuts of your choice) raisins (or substitute with dry fruits..I tried to keep it fairly simple), vanilla extract, rolled oats (not instant oats), honey and sesame seeds.

  • please feel to use any seeds or nuts or fruits to your liking. You can use sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, melon seeds, dried apricots, dried blueberries etc. really up to you. This is the simpler easy to make version..also if you want absolutely no sugar in it, then use stevia instead of honey.

DSC_0095

DSC_0099into a very dry pan, roast the nuts and sesame seeds until the nuts and sesame seeds are just lightly browned and smell nuttier and sesamier (?)

 

DSC_0100then on a dry board, smash them with a weapon of choice, get rid of your daily stresses..no more tears..just smash these nuts to smithereens, you’ll feel better.

 

DSC_0101smash them until some is powder, some flakes and some chunks. We need texture.

 

DSC_0104

Into a large bowl of choice, add in the oats

 

DSC_0106and the sesame seeds

 

DSC_0107and the nuts

 

DSC_0109the raisins

 

DSC_0110honey

 

DSC_0111

and finally vanilla.

 

DSC_0112mix them all together. This will take a couple of minutes until each oat is coated with honeyed goodness.

 

DSC_0113

it will kind of clump together, maybe stick a bit but all for the greater good.

 

DSC_0114on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, spread them as evenly as you can.

 

DSC_0117something like this, and bake at 180°C for ten minutes

 

DSC_0119pull it out of the oven, and they’ll be very lightly scorched, but we’re not done.

 

DSC_0120turn them over as best as you can, and spread again evenly and bake at 180°C, again for ten minutes

 

DSC_0123you’ll know they’re done because the raisins will looks burnished and plumped up and the oats will assume a rosier hue, and of course your kitchen would be smelling divine. Leave these on the counter for at least ten minutes or until they’re completely cool, because when they’re hot they’ll be soft to the touch and you’d wonder what went wrong.

 

DSC_0126after they’ve rested, you can just scoop them out

 

DSC_0125and break into little chunks

 

DSC_0128and fill in your jars.

These make delicious health snacks, and once you’ve made them, you’d look for excuses to get healthier.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Ingredients

rolled oats: 1 cup

raisins: 1/4 cup

nuts: 1/2 cup

honey: 1/3 cup

sesame seeds: 1/4 cup

vanilla extract: 1/2 tsp

——————

Recipe instructions:

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together until throughly combined. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil and bake at 180°C for ten minutes. Pull the tray out of the oven, and using a large spoon turn them over, and spread in an even layer again. Bake at 180°C for ten more minutes and leave them out to cool.

Once cooled, store in airtight containers.

DSC_0131keep a jar where you work, and snack on ’em all day. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Korean style noodles


DSC_0746After binge eating and covering my innards with cheese, chocolate and butter, these Korean style noodles feel like an almost instant cleansing ritual. They taste fresh, spring like and the sharp spicy flavours almost feel like they’re exorcising all the fat away.

The reason I call these Korean style noodles and not Korean noodles is because they aren’t. This is a recipe that was created by moi, after I fell in love with and bought a big vat of Gochujang . It’s a Korean hot pepper paste, so vividly red and so flavourful that I’ve been adding it to almost everything I cook nowadays. After a stroke of greedy inspiration I came up with this noodles recipe, and as usual this is a recipe so forgiving and delightfully easy that you can make it your own using whatever ingredients you have handy and your fridge has to offer.

DSC_0709wthe ingredients are rather humble and easy to find. Chives, spring onions, chili, mushrooms, ham, chicken stock (I’m using powder you can use regular stock), gochujang and noodles. (also not pictured are soy sauce and sesame oil..sorry!)

These noodles here are something called (Hongshu Fen) sweet potato noodles. They’re a very popular noodles type from the Chinese province I live in (Hunan), but you can use any noodles that you have/find. I just happen to have/love these and that’s what I’m using.

DSC_0712begin by chopping your spring onions and chives and reserve the dark green parts and keep them separate.

DSC_0713chop your chillies.

DSC_0716chop your mushrooms and try to keep them into equal sized chunks.

DSC_0718nice pile of vegetables. I feel healthy already.

DSC_0719chop your meat..er.. ham! I shopped mine into fairly small squares because I was feeling so efficient.

DSC_0720now put your noodles to boil and here’s a close up of these noodles. They’re translucent and silky.

DSC_0722see what I mean. slippery noodles! yum!

DSC_0723once boiled, strain and remove them to your serving bowl.

DSC_0725add in the reserved greens from onions and chives and splash a bit of sesame oil. ah, this aroma.

DSC_0726find your favourite, most used, most tragic looking wok and pour in some oil

DSC_0727once it’s really really hot, throw in your vegetables

DSC_0728give them a good mix for a minute.

DSC_0730pour in some soy sauce

DSC_0732and finally, for the star of this show…our red as hell gochujang.. yummm

DSC_0733oooooh just look at this baby. There’s something rather poetic about the way it sounds and the way it gloops. oooh mama!!

DSC_0734mix it all until it’s red and looks dangerously tasty.

DSC_0735finally in with the ham.

DSC_0737add in your chicken stock if you’re using, I simply poured in hot water and added the chicken stock powder I had.

DSC_0739let it all come to a bubble like so.

DSC_0746and then pour it on your noodles to get this!! yes my lovers this is better than that, and any of that you were thinking of making because this has a kick, it’s a storm, it’s fire, it’s tangy, it’s full of such beautiful layers of flavours that you’d be reeling your head and wiping your tears of joy and some sweat.

Make this!!

Ingredients 

Gochujang: 2 tablespoons

mushrooms: 3-4 large

spring onions: 4-5

chives: 3-4

red chili: 1

ham: 3-4 slices (or use meat of choice, boiled chicken is good or leave out the meat and make it vegetarian)

chicken stock: 350 mls (1.5 cups)

soy sauce: 2 teaspoons

sesame oil: 1 teaspoon

noodles: 1 nest

oil: 2 teaspoons

salt to taste

Cooking instructions: chop the vegetables and ham into small dices keeping the mushrooms a bit chunky. Reserve the green parts of the chives and spring onions.

Boil the noodles strain the water and keep in serving bowl. Add in the reserved greens and pour over the sesame oil.

In a hot wok add oil and once it starts shimmering add in all the vegetables and cook for a minute. Add the soy sauce and gochujang and cook for a minute. Add in the stock and let it come to a boil.

Pour this over the cooked noodles and serve hot.

DSC_0743enjoy!!

Chinese fried rice


DSC_0983Zen, pure and a work of moments. These fried rice are a breeze to make and their savory, mellow, fresh taste makes it a delight to eat. They are nutritious, low-fat, versatile and catapult your leftover cooked rice into a delish meal.

This dish can be cooked using whatever leftover vegetables you have in your fridge and somehow it never goes wrong. This recipe was given to me by my Chinese friend and it is as much a pleasure to cook as it is to eat. Try this and you’d never want another recipe for your fried rice.

DSC_09441The ingredients are really up to you and what you have in your fridge, but this is as basic as it gets. Spring onions, Chinese chives, leftover mushroom & onion mix from my sandwich (this is optional), peas, carrot, red pepper, sugar, ginger, soya sauce & egg (not pictured)

I’m not using any garlic here, because my Chinese friends tell me that if a recipe includes spring onions there is no need for garlic.

DSC_0946Starting with pepper

DSC_0947De-seed, de-vein

DSC_0948and chop into about 1/4 inch dices

DSC_0949I used half of that carrot I showed in the picture simply because this was a solitary meal and how much can a gal eat?

DSC_0950carrot into two segments. each segment into three segments.

DSC_0951chopped into chunky small pieces.

DSC_0952ditto with green onions.

DSC_0953I reserve the white and light green part for the initial cooking as a flavour base and the green ones to put in later for flavour enhancement and garnish.

DSC_0954and these Chinese chives. I have a soft spot for these, and end up putting them in everything I cook.

DSC_0955As with the green onions, I use the lighter part for initial flavour base and the green part for second flavour layer and garnish.

DSC_0956Here we are with our chopped vegetables and the pictured egg.

DSC_0958Oil into your favourite wok, as you can see mine is pretty old and has seen many a burnt foods and adventures and I love it to bits. It’s my moms actually, I stole it from her and carried it to China.

DSC_0959while the oil is getting hot, here is my rice. It’s not much, but enough to feed me.

DSC_0961make sure the oil starts smoking before you add in your vegetables. The oil has to be ferociously hot. In a big swoop add in the peppers, carrots, white part of the chives,finely minced ginger and spring onions. It’ll sizzle and you’d salivate.

DSC_0963in with the peas

DSC_0966pepper, lots of it.

DSC_0967leftovers.. mushrooms in my case

DSC_0968pinch of sugar and this doesn’t sweeten anything but rather balances all the flavours.

DSC_0969finally half of the soya sauce

DSC_0971bring it all together and mix well for a few seconds.

DSC_0972add in the rice. I have here some beautiful jasmine rice, but use any rice you have.

DSC_0974mix well until most of the rice is slicked with vegetables and oil

DSC_0976now grab a handful of the green parts of the spring onions and chives and add to your hot wok. This boosts the flavours and brings together this entire dish

DSC_0977Now crack in the egg.

DSC_0978Mix until it’s scrambled and coated each rice strand.

DSC_0979Add in the remaining soya sauce

DSC_0980another handful of greens and mix and adjust for seasoning. If you need more salt and black pepper, now’s the time. My soya sauce was very salty and I really didn’t need any more salt but make sure this dish isn’t under salted. Mix well and it’s done.

DSC_0991how easy was this? rich rewards with minimum effort. You have to make this.

Ingredients

  • Rice: 1/2 cup
  • spring onions:  3-4
  • Chinese chives: 2-3
  • mushrooms: 4-5
  • egg: 1 large
  • peas: 60g (about 1/4cup)
  • carrot: 30g (scant 1/4 cup)
  • ginger finely minced : 1 teaspoon
  • red pepper: 1 medium size
  • soya sauce: 1 tablespoon
  • black pepper: 1 teaspoon
  • sugar: 1/4 teaspoon
  • salt: to taste
  • Vegetable oil: 2 teaspoons

(this recipe doesn’t really need measurements since it’s up to you, how much or how little vegetables you need. You can double or triple the amount of rice and ingredients to suit your needs)

Recipe: Chop the vegetables into 1/4 inch thick chunks. Reserve the green part of the chives and green onions for garnishing and later layer of flavours.

In a wok, heat oil and once it nearly starts smoking add in your ginger,vegetables, except the green parts of the chives and spring onions. Mix well. add the pepper, sugar and half of the soya sauce. Mix until well combined. Add in the rice and mix until the rice is slicked with oil and vegetables. Add in half the green part of spring onions and chives, crack in the egg and mix again until the rice is fairly coated with scrambled egg. Finally add in the remaining soya sauce and the remaining green parts of chives and spring onion, adjust for seasoning and serve hot.

This is not a very pungent, or overwhelmingly flavourful dish. It’s a very mild, subtle and fresh tasting rice dish. It’s pure and simple and a perfect light lunch or dinner.

DSC_0989Enjoy!!

Baked potato fries


DSC_0929

Potatoes!! Is there anything as comforting, as loving, as selfless, as versatile, as sexy, as sensuous as potatoes?? No, the answer is no!! Potatoes love you back they understand your feelings, they believe in giving and they care.

Sadly with modern times now, these beautiful spuds of love have been maligned as fattening food.. gasp! people are told to steer clear of them if they want to lose weight.. I say, what rot?? It’s not true. Potatoes aren’t bad for you, you’re bad for potatoes. Who thought of loading them with MSG and packing them into airy bags? you did! who thought of over salting them to the point of oblivion?? you did!! So please do not blame these humble vegetables for making you fat. Blame yourselves. Fried food WILL fatten you, it does not take a rocket scientist to know that, but when you bake these beauteous vegetables with the right amount of love, they love you back.

Case in point are these baked fries. They require no effort but give you all the love you need these winter months. Not only do they satisfy your spud cravings but they also don’t make you feel bad about it.

So for those moments of anguish when only a potato will do, bake these fries and get caught in the rapturous greed of smug satisfaction.

DSC_08521Just potatoes, garlic, olive oil (any oil really), mixed italian seasoning, paprika and sea salt.

DSC_0854before you start, line your baking sheet with foil.

DSC_0855wash and peel your potatoes. Remove any eyes and anything weird you don’t like seeing on your fries. You can keep the skin on the potatoes if you wish, just wash and scrub them really well.

DSC_0858Since my potatoes were not exactly equal in size, I cut mine to make three roughly equal sized potatoes. You don’t have to do this if your vegetables are symmetrically proportional.

DSC_0861I cut each potato segment into three, because I don’t exactly like very skinny fries, but if you do, please go ahead and make them as thin as you like.

DSC_0862So many potatoes.

DSC_0866I cut each segment in three’s.

DSC_0869I had almost equal sized fries, those which were a bit thick I cut them to size. Nobody messes with the size okay!

DSC_0870Into a pot of cold water to rinse away the starch. Let these be for a while now.

DSC_0871Now about their massage oil. Peel your cloves of garlic and mince them fairly well or chop, whatever you prefer.

DSC_0872add the seasoning mix. I’m using dry simply because It’s too cold and I have no fresh herbs left, but if you wish you could as easily use them fresh. Dried is just easier. These mixed Italian seasonings are pretty nifty.

DSC_0875in with the paprika. As little or as much as you like.

DSC_0876a glug of oil. This is about a tablespoon, but you could use more, you could use less.

DSC_0879stir with a spoon of choice until all is well combined.

DSC_0880Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or cloth of your choice.

DSC_0882give them a good pat. You want them completely dry.

DSC_0883tumble onto your lined baking sheet

DSC_0885make sure there isn’t a single wet spot. (snigger)

DSC_0887pour over the massage oil and this gets a little messy because you need to use your hands to evenly coat them

DSC_0888like so. Make sure the oil is distributed evenly and that every piece is well bathed.

DSC_0889sprinkle on the salt and into the oven at 200℃ for 35-40 minutes.

DSC_0906this is what they looked after 30 minutes of baking and the kitchen was smelling so divine. Garlic infused herbal incense. I was mesmerized and hungry.

DSC_0914

like this at 38 minutes of baking, and I turned on the broiler for about 2 minutes because I was getting impatient and I love it when they turn golden and crisp on the top.

DSC_0924like so!!

How were they? what can I say? see for yourself. They were beautiful, they were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I gave them a final sprinkling of salt before I served them.

DSC_0929A flask of masala tea and potato fries.. what more can I ask this winter?

Ingredients

Potatoes (as many as you want)

Garlic- 2 to 3 cloves

Italian seasoning – 1 teaspoon

Paprika – 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste ( I used 1 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt)

Olive oil/any vegetable oil – 1 to 2 tablespoon

RECIPE: Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Wash and peel your potatoes and cut each into 3 segments and each segment into two or three fries, depending on how thick or thin you want them. Soak them into a bowl of cold water to remove excess starch.

Into a separate bowl, mince your garlic, add in the Italian seasoning, paprika and oil and mix well.

Drain the potatoes and dry thoroughly.

Tip them on your aluminium lined baking tray and pour over the prepared oil mixture and coat every fry with the mixture, making sure they’re all evenly coated.

bake at 200℃ for 35-40 minutes until deeply golden. Depending on your oven the baking time will vary. In some ovens it might take longer in some lesser, so keep an eye.

Enjoy!!

 

Homemade Pita bread


DSC_0905I ta, you ta, we all scream for pita! ok, this makes no sense but these pillowy pita breads do! No, I haven’t gone completely insane and while you can buy perfectly fine pita breads in the supermarket, they wouldn’t be nearly as good as the ones you make at home. For starters these involve your blood, sweat and tears, or just some sweat or none.

Once you’ve made your own pitas you’d not bother buying one.

After many a failed attempts at baking pitas in the oven, I decided to give it another approach and now I’d want to kick myself for never trying this out.

Let’s talk a bit about pitas made in oven. Mine just never came out that good. They would puff up and beautifully brown, but they never had that softness and that cushiony thickness to it. They’d be hard, brittle and crack, unlike these, which can be stuffed with your furniture without as much as a tear.

These were just magnificent, soft, forming beautiful pockets and absolutely delightful. these are so incredibly easy to make that you’d rather make these than drive all the way to buy one.

DSC_0854such simplicity.. I cry. handful of ingredients:Warm water, yeast, high gluten flour, olive oil, sugar and some salt

 

DSC_0855Sugar + water = yeast love. Make sugar the water isn’t hot, or cold. It should be just warm, like warm to the touch. You don’t need any thermometers for this, just a finger.

 

DSC_0856Into the sugary water we add in the yeast. I’ve used the instant dry yeast, but please feel free to use whatever yeast you have handy.

 

DSC_0857Mix and let it be for at least 5 minutes. In which time we can prepare our flour.

 

DSC_0859add salt in the flour and mix it to disperse salt evenly.

 

DSC_0861Make a ridiculous well in the centre of the bowl and pour in the yeasty water. NOTE: the water should be foamy and frothy by now. If the water hasn’t foamed it probably means that the yeast hasn’t activated, in which case throw out the water and start again. make sure the yeast is fresh and the water isn’t very hot.

 

DSC_0862pour in the water

 

DSC_0863and the oil, and start kneading the dough.

 

DSC_0865Of course I didn’t take pictures while kneading the dough, I have but only two hands. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes and formed into a somewhat smooth dough ball. It should be slightly springy to the touch and not very dry. I also had to add a bit more water as I kneaded.

I also lightly oiled the bowl so that dough does not stick as it sits to rise. Cover the bowl and let it be in a warm place for an hour until it has doubled in size.

 

DSC_0867Magic!!!! the dough has become puffy and fat and I sort of want to rest my head and sleep on it. Ok, now punch the dough to release out all the air. you heard me, punch it like you’d want to punch your ex, ripping out its entrails and dancing on them… forget that last part. Just punch it ok.

 

DSC_0868Tip out onto a floured surface and make sure you knock out all the air from the dough.

 

DSC_0870form into some sort of geometrical shape, mine looks a rectangle. Make sure it’s evenly thick from all sides and edges.

 

DSC_0871now cut it in equal portions.

 

DSC_0873I ended up having about 8 equal portions, but you could have less, you could have more depending how big or small you want your pita, but I think this was fine.

 

DSC_0876form these into equal sized balls and let them rest on a floured surface. I floured the tops slightly and covered with plastic wrap. let these rise for another 30-45 minutes.

 

DSC_0877Oooooh, these have become fat yet again. No matter how many times I make bread, I can’t keep myself from getting amazed at what yeast does. It’s magic I tell you. Here’s your letter to Hogwarts!

 

DSC_0878Okay, now taking individual rounds, flatten them a bit and using your rolling-pin roll these out to form….

 

DSC_0889These!!!! ok, I admit they could have been rounder but once these have puffed up you wouldn’t care, also as you progress your rounds will keep getting better, in theory and in life. Let them rest for a couple of minutes.

While they are resting, bring out your skillet or in my case a non stick frying pan, and put it on a medium high flame. Let it get reasonably hot and put on the rolled out dough. Flip it after about 20 seconds and after giving the other side 30 seconds flip again and…

 

DSC_0885This!!!! It will rise, it will puff up, you will scream and shriek and you would want to embrace everyone. It actually puffs up. It forms a pocket. this really happens, in your own kitchen!!!!

 

DSC_0886Flip again to let the other side cook and brown a little and look at this little thing. It’s risen majestically. Bow down and pat yourself on the back, for you are now a proud owner of homemade pitas.

 

DSC_0901 DSC_0902 DSC_0890These are different pitas in different stages of puffing.

OK, now the first one would probably not puff up as much as you’d want because you’d still be getting a hang of it, the skillet/pan would be adjusting heat and perhaps your flipping would be either too fast or too late, but believe me, after the first two you’d know exactly what to do and there wouldn’t be a pita that wouldn’t rise. I promise!

 

DSC_0898Very soon your pita pile will get bigger,

 

DSC_0905and bigger, and now you’re a pro..

 

Ingredients

Lukewarm water: 250 mls (I cup)

Flour( High gluten): 400 gms

Yeast: 1 teaspoon

sugar: 1 tablespoon

salt: 1 teaspoon

Olive oil: I tablespoon

Recipe: Dissolve the sugar and yeast into the water and let rest until the yeast starts foaming. In the meanwhile into a large bowl, add the flour and mix in the salt.

Making a well in the centre of the flour mixture add in the yeast water and the oil and knead to form a soft dough. Depending on the humidity and the flour you might want to add in more water if the dough is dry or add in more flour is it’s sticky.

Once you’ve made a smooth ball it should be slightly springy to the touch, let it rest in a lightly oiled bowl. Make sure to cover it and keep in a warm place for at least 1-2 hours depending on the rising and how warm your place is.

After it has risen it should have doubled in size. Punch it to knock the air out and tip it on a floured surface. Even it out and cut into 8 equal sized portions.

Form them into balls and let them rest again for 45 minutes until they have puffed up and increased in size.

Using a rolling pin, roll them out to form about 1/4 inch thick rounds and let them rest for another 2-3 minutes.

Heat a skillet or a frying pan on medium high heat and place the rolled out dough and after every 20-30 seconds flip it over to evenly brown and puff. After about 2-3 minutes it would have cooked through and formed pockets.

Stuff these pockets falafels (recipe here), hummus (recipe here) and roasted red peppers (here)

Enjoy!!!!

Roasted Red Peppers : How to


DSC_0654What can I say about roasted peppers, except that they are divine. They’re the equivalent of a food poetry. They bring to life anything they are added in. Their subtlety of flavour livens up even something as meagre as a stale slice of bread. It’s like the rhyming word which makes a verse all the more interesting.

The slightly smoky, charred flavour is harmonious with almost everything.You can add this to a sandwich, throw it in a bowl of pasta, puree into a soup or just drizzle it with olive oil and serve as a side dish. This is guaranteed to brighten your table, your mood and your food. Also it’s really easy, and you could do this in a matter of minutes.

You don’t need a whole list of ingredients, except perhaps some peppers. You can roast any pepper of your choice, I’m doing red peppers, but you can go ahead with whatever suits your preference and your colour of the day. yellow, orange, green.. whatever coloured pepper is available.

I’m a stove top girl, when it comes to roasting peppers. You could just as easily pop this in a hot oven, but for me, this technique is better suited since it’s charred and burnt evenly on all sides.

DSC_0637Place the pepper on stove top like so. The flame should be high enough to not only roast it but blacken it.

DSC_0638Time for tong action!! You really do need a tong for this. keep rotating on all sides until it’s seriously blackened. Leave no side even a bit coloured, including the tip. You really need to blacken up these babies.

DSC_0642Once it’s coal-black, lose no time and put the peppers in a ziplock bag and seal it. This step makes it easier to take the skins off, and makes these peppers juicy. Let them be in the ziplock for at least 15 minutes, and you can get on with your life till then.

DSC_0651See!! I wasn’t kidding about roasting them to a nice shade of Hellish black. These peppers have had their 15 minutes in the ziplock, and it’s time to reveal the divinely delicious peppers that have metamorphosed into food poetry.

DSC_0653You need to get your hands dirty, and you won’t even complain. Just peel the skins and they will come off real easy. I do not like to be too fastidious with the skinning process, since a bit of charred remain is desirable, as it’s the bits of charred skin that gives these peppers their characteristic smoky flavour.

DSC_0656This is what I as talking about. Lipstick red but tastier, aromatic, jewel bright and oh so delicious. Just de-seed them before serving, also a few seeds don’t hurt nobody..

There are millions of serving suggestions:

-tear into shreds, drizzle some olive oil, crumble some feta and eat.

-tear them and throw into a bowl spaghetti lightly drizzled with olive oil and parmesan

– add it to your sandwich and watch the flavour go up a hundred notch

– puree along with some sour cream, salt and garlic and make a delightful pasta sauce.

– add it to your hummus, and make an electric red coloured bowl of greed.

Once you’ve made these at home, you wouldn’t want to buy an expensive jar of roasted peppers. It’s an easy process and it’s so much better when you do it yourself.

—–

Recipe: On a medium high flame of your stove top place the peppers and keep turning them every 30-40 seconds until they are all evenly charred. Make sure to roast the tip as well.

Once you’re satisfied with the colour, place in a ziplock bag and seal it. Let these peppers sit for 10-15 minutes.

Finally just peel off the charred skin, making sure some skin remains to ensure a smoky flavour.

De-seed before serving.

Enjoy!!!!

Minestrone di zucca aka Pumpkin Soup


DSC02336

 

Well, I think it sounds better in Italian than a plain old pumpkin soup…If you’re freezing your butt in your part of the world as well, then I think this is the best recipe to salvation.  Apparently !!!! this freezing weather has sort of motivated us to hit the gym more frequently than ever, simply because piles of warm clothing can’t act as a ruse forever..winters act as a catalyst to pile on the pounds as well.. which is why I came under a lot of pressure to cook something tasty and healthy.. we all know if it’s healthy it ain’t gonna be very tasty.. come on admit it.. So anyways.. I was going through all my recipe’s, my cook books and the internet looking for all the healthy/tasty recipe’s, which is when I stumbled on this recipe for ‘pumpkin soup’ by Ritu Dalmia. It’s in her cook book ‘Italian Khana’ and well, I gave it a try…… to a roaring success.. My husband couldn’t get enough of it, and since that day I’ve made this more than a dozen times.. You have to make this to believe it..

DSC02330

 

bwahaha..okay let’s be serious..

Ingredients

adapted from Minestrone di zucca | Pumpkin soup |Verona | – Ritu Dalmia’s Italian Khana

500 gms pumpkin peeled and cubed

1 large onion chopped

1 clove garlic minced

1 lt chicken stock/vegetable stock or just plain ol’ water

1 tbsp olive oil (the original recipe calls for 75 gms butter, but I adapted this to make a healthier version)

300 mls low-fat milk (use whole milk if you like)

1 pinch grated nutmeg

grated parmesan (optional)

salt & pepper to season

1/2 tsp paprika & 1/4 tsp chilly flakes (my addition. leave them out if you want)

Season the pumpkin cubes with salt, drizzle a bit of olive oil, place in a baking tray and roast in preheated oven at 200℃ for 20-25 minutes.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and cook the onions till pink and add the garlic. and cook for another minute. Add the roasted pumpkin and stock or water and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool a little.

In a blender puree the soup till it’s all reached a smooth consistency.

Pout back into the pan with the milk and heat again, seasoning with salt pepper, nutmeg and chillies if you’re using..

Ennjjjooyyy !!!!!

DSC02340

Okay, here’s another picture..

Schezuan Rice


 

Leftovers !!! the most dreaded word in a house. Nothing good ever comes out of leftovers they say. My fridge is full of so much stale food they say. Actually leftovers are just some food already cooked for you, and all you’ve gotta do is change something about it and make it into another meal.

In my case I had a bowlful of leftover rice. To me, leftovers can result in some of the most versatile snacks, dinners, meals. Just tinkering around with some random pulled out food from a fridge raid can result in creative meals you never thought you’d otherwise have.

I made a fabulous bowl of fiery Schezuan rice with green peppers.

You can either use the Schezuan sauce that comes out of jars or make some of your own. Of-course life is easy if it comes out of a jar but since I didn’t have any, I opted to make some for myself, and its piece of cake.

Ingredients for Schezuan sauce in case you’re not using it from a jar.

this might not be the authentic recipe (sorry Sichuan, China), but this is how I make… it’s ferociously hot and lip smacking tasty.

8-10 dried red chillies soaking in water for at least a couple of hours.

10 cloves of garlic minced

2 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp chilli sauce

1 tsp pepper

2 tbsp vinegar

2 tbsp water

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp oil

Drain the red chillies soaking in water and grind them into a fine paste. In a pan, add oil, mix in the garlic and saute until soft and golden, Now add the ginger and saute. Take a moment to die in the fragrance emitting from your pan and stir in the ground chilly paste.

add salt, pepper, sot sauce, chilli sauce, water and mix until bubbling and thick. finally add in the sugar and vinegar. Mix until fully incorporated and thickened. Allow to cool.

Ingredients for Schezuan Rice

Cooked rice – I had about a 1.5 cup

small onion diced

peppers sliced thinly. I had green, but you can use any colour you like.

2 tbsp Schezuan sauce (recipe above)

1 Tbsp oil.

1/2 tsp salt

The procedure is pretty straightforward. Heat oil in a pan, add in the onions and cook until softened. Add in the peppers and saute until the onions have caramelized a bit and taken on the peppery flavour. add the Schezuan sauce, and mix until the vegetables have turned red. Finally mix in the rice until coated with the sauce. Serve very hot..

 

 

South Indian Sambhar


Image

Sambhar is a very popular South Indian vegetable stew/broth/curry.. whatever you might want to call it..  Subtly sour, full of vegetables, low calorie, and the greatest accompaniment to rice

This dish has so many different ways of making depending upon where it’s made. This recipe right here is how my mother makes it, without using those boxed sambhar masala’s. I don’t really like that flavour, and this is how I have eaten this dish forever. No, I’m not some sambhar purist and It’s entirely up to you to use a packaged masala.. But this is the way I roll, or rather my mom did, and trust me you have to taste this to know how fantabulous this actually is.

Image

Vegetables!! The main ingredient. I have used beans, green peppers, brinjals. You can easily use any vegetables you like, drumsticks, cauliflowers etc etc.. whatever you want- the onions and tomatoes are a must.

Image

these are 200 gms of pigeon peas (split toor dal). These form the base of our sambhar.

Image

Into a deep pot, put in all the ingredients. The chopped vegetables, the lentils and add the water. This will be 600mls of water.

Image

Now the spices. 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder. (hing)

Image

1 tsp turmeric powder. It does bring out the yellow, and oh boy, yellow it is.

Image

salt- a little short of 1 tbsp. It’s a lot of sambhar, and under salted food is vile.

Image

Mix them all together now and put it on a boil. We need the vegetables to be well cooked, in fact softened and almost not blended. Also the lentils do take some time to cook. I boiled them for about 40 minutes.

Image

Now for part 2. and this is what makes this dish truly South Indian. These spices, sort of form the soul of this food. I have here 4 cloves of garlic. 1 tbsp of coriander seeds, 2 tsps fenugreek seeds, 1/2 cup shredded coconut.- If miraculously you happen to have fresh coconut, then nothing like it.

Image

Into a very hot tablespoon of oil, add in the garlic cloves

Image

Going next are the coriander seeds and the fenugreek.

Image

in goes the shredded coconut

Image

keep frying them all together until the mixture turns brown, like so. Now this is when your house house will smart smelling like a spice incense. It’s heaven I tell you.

Image

Into a blender they go. Mix in about 1 tbsp of water so that everything comes together beautifully.

Image

This is what the blend looks like.

Image

Now if you wish to make your dish more spicy, add in some ground red chillies (completely optional). usually one adds dried red chillies before blending, but since my husband is not a friend of the spicy stuff, I like to do this to control the chilli.

Image

The final blend.

Image

The last in line of taste and aromatics. I have some curry leaves. It’s a handful really. But in case you have the fresh stuff 8-10 leaves will do. Also 1 tbsp of tamarind paste. This tamarind gives the sambhar its distinct subtly sour taste.

Image

The unveiling of the vegetables and lentils. I cooked them for about 40 minutes and this is how they turned out. The vegetables were soft and mushy in golden yellow curry and the salt was just fine.

Image

Remember the blend from the coconut etc. .. well, it’s time for it to meet its destiny. In it goes in the lentil and vegetables mixture.

Image

the curry leaves go in.

Image

Finally the last ingredient- the sour tamarind paste. This all needs to cook again for another 10 minutes, before you serve it piping hot with rice.

Image

Here we go- the moment of TRIUMPH. Doesn’t this look gorgeous? It tastes even better. The best part about this recipe is that it’s not heavy, its not very oily and it can be eaten just like that- as a sort of soup. I love it, and so will you..Enjoy !!!!!

Ingredients

200 gms of pigeon peas (split toor dal)

chopped vegetables of your choice.

1 thinly chopped medium sized onion

1 thinly chopped medium sized tomato.

600 mls water

1/2 tsp asofoetida (hing)

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp coriander seeds

4-5 cloves of garlic

2 tsps fenugreek seeds

1/2 tsp crushed red chillies (optional)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 tbsp oil.

8-10 curry leaves

1 tbsp tamarind paste.

In a deep pan mix the chopped vegetables, onion, tomato, water, asofoetida, salt and turmeric. Cook them on medium flame for about 35-40 minutes (covered) or until the lentils are cooked and the vegetables mushy.

In a separate pan, heat the oil, tip in the garlic, fenugreek and coriander seeds, coconut. Fry until it’s all golden brown. Once these spices are golden and fragrant, blend them with a tbsp of water. Add crushed chillies as per taste- they’re completely optional.

Into the pot of cooked lentils and vegetables, add the blend of spices, the curry leaves and the tamarind paste.

Cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve warm.