Category Archives: America

Fall Colors on My Plate

Quinoa with curried carrot and chard

Quinoa with curried carrot and chard

My focus this Fall has been to create simple, hearty and nourishing meals that I can make in large batches and eat leftovers for at least a couple of meals. I’m noticing a certain pattern emerge when I need to cook this way. There’s a gluten free grain like quinoa, millet or rice that I cook separately. And I sauté whatever vegetables I have in the fridge. A bowl of the grain and sauteed vegetables, usually curried in some way, and a hard boiled egg makes for a very satisfying meal.

The awesome thing about cooking this way is that it gets much easier to accommodate food allergies! This dish is gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and FODMAP friendly for those with fructose malabsorption or fructose intolerance.

And this is absolutely my favorite way of making carrots!

So if you’re getting pampered with spectacular food or just over indulging at holiday parties, here’s a dish that looks stunning, tastes great but is also good for you. I must admit that my problem this holiday season has not been the food so much as the wine! Got any tips for me?

Curried Carrot And Chard Over Quinoa

Serves 4

  • 1.5 cups quinoa
  • 10 oz grated carrot (or 3/4 lb carrots, grated)
  • 1/2 bunch chard, sliced into 1/2 inch shreds
  • 1/2 piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 dried red chilis, ends removed and cut into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (optional, I didn’t have any but it adds a lovely earthy aroma and taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice (or lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Recipe

Put the quinoa, 2 cups of water  and a big pinch of salt in a pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low, covered for 15 minutes or till the quinoa is cooked.

Heat the oil in a skillet or pan over medium high heat till you see ripples on the surface. If the oil is hot enough, a mustard seed thrown in will sizzle. Sizzle the whole spices for just 15 seconds or till the mustard seeds start to pop.

Add the ginger and garam masala and stir for 10 seconds. Immediately mix in the carrot and chard and cook for 2 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add 1/3 glass of water, and cover the skillet. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes or till the carrot is cooked.

Stir in lime juice and salt to taste.

Form quinoa cakes by pressing some cooked quinoa into a small and flat bowl; ramekins are perfect. Upturn the bowl onto a plate and voila, you have a quinoa cake. Place some of the curried carrot and chard on the quinoa and serve. Or if you are eating by yourself and don’t care about presentation, just mix it all up in a bowl like a quinoa salad.

Quinoa salad fodmap safe and gluten free

Quinoa salad

Sauteed carrot and chard on a bed of quinoa

Sauteed carrot and chard on a bed of quinoa

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under America, India, Recipe

Thankful for Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is over but that certainly does not mean that Pumpkin Pie season is over.

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends and instead of turkey, made Fondue Chinoise, a holiday tradition in my husband’s family. This is a meat fondue where you cook individual slices of meat in hot broth and then dip into one of many yummy sauces. Typically Fondue Chinoise is served with veal and pork and the sauces usually involve cream. We changed things up a little by adding chicken, fish and shrimp and making a couple of sauces that I could eat. We had a mediterranean sauce, a South Indian sauce that was essentially coconut chutney, and a homemade mayonnaise with freshly ground black mustard among others. After a three hour feast and plenty of wine, there was still the apple crumble my friend made to look forward to. Did I mention I love thanksgiving!

So the next day, we had planned on eating lightly. However, I had a hankering for pumpkin pie. After some research and finding this pumpkin pie recipe, we gave it a try. It was soft, spicy and just made my day. The fact that the pie didn’t have a crust bothered me slightly but it also meant that it was much less work. It was already quite dark by the time the pie was baked and we just had pie for dinner! And unfortunately it was too dark to get any decent pictures. One of these days, I’ll get around to experimenting with a gluten and dairy free crust that I can eat. In the meantime, I wanted to share this recipe, bad pictures and all, as soon as possible especially with those of you who, like me, have a lot of food allergies. Life is so much better when you can eat pumpkin pie!

dairy free gluten free no crust pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie that I can eat!

 

no crust easy fodmap pumpkin pie recipe

Yay for pumpkin pie season

Crustless, dairy free, gluten free pumpkin pie

Adapted from gluten free easily’s recipe

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 can (16 oz) unsweetened pumpkin puree or 1 cup of homemade puree
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 inch pie dish with oil (or butter if you can eat it). Mix together all the ingredients and pour into the pie dish. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for another 25-30 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

*I used regular table sugar or sucrose since I can handle it in small quantities. Please note that I don’t like my desserts too sweet and vastly reduced the amount of sugar used. I’ll be reducing the sugar to 1/4 cup the next time I bake this pie. For those on a FODMAP diet, you can try substituting with dextrose or glucose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under America, Holiday, Recipe

Beyond the Beaches in Hawaii

Today, it’s pouring rain in Seattle. In fact it’s rained so much that we’ve set a new record and according to NPR, Nov 19th is officially the rainiest day of the year! I badly need a new pair of rain boots that are actually waterproof. Sigh.

I’m recently back from a 10 day trip to Hawaii. This was my first time! We were on the Big Island and Kauai. While I enjoyed the beaches and got to do some scuba diving while on the Big Island, there was a lot of other things to like about the Hawaiian islands. Here’s a photo essay of some of my favorite things: bananas, sweet potatoes, taro fields, lu’au, kalua pork and of course the flora.

I haven’t traveled much since getting hit with all the food allergies and I’ll confess that I was slightly worried about how it would all go. We rented cottages on Airbnb and made sure we had a kitchen for me to cook in if needed. This helped a lot. I ended up cooking about 50% of the time and you can see below some of the produce I found at local farmers markets.

Fortunately, there were a few things I could eat out. Plate lunches included meat and white rice and often came with a salad. I got the grilled fish, kalua pork or poke (raw fish salad dressed in sesame oil) options and skipped the salad dressing. Laulau was another wholesome meal where the meat was covered in taro and ti leaves and steamed. Simple, yummy and very filling with rice. It was great for me that meats are usually simply prepared without a lot of sauces by grilling, steaming or roasting.

I’m counting on the memories, the remnants of a tan and hopefully lots of stored up Vitamin D to get me through another Pacific Northwest winter! The thought of the ski slopes opening soon does help too.

 

Hawaiian bananas, pink limes and sweet potatoes big island farmers market

Hawaiian bananas, pink limes and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes had a very floral flavor when steamed. The local bananas were starchier and I liked them a lot bananas than what you normally get in the US.

quail eggs and hawaiian bananas

We treated ourselves to quail eggs one day! And those bananas went from green to yellow just in 2 days.

Taro field

Fields of taro, the starchy tuber used to make the Hawaiian staple poi. The leaves are used to wrap around meat and steam, adding flavor and helping keep the moisture in.

banana tree

Banana tree blossom

kalua pork cooked in imu

Opening up the imu – the pit constructed in the ground to cook a whole pig in

Kalua pork

Kalua pork when cooked the traditional way in the imu

After a luau

After the luau feast and show, very touristy but great show.

palm tree braids

Palm tree jewellery

 

1 Comment

Filed under America, General

Squash Soup, South Indian Style

south indian curried squash

South Indian squash curry

I posted a squash soup with spicy tahini recipe just last week. And I’m following up with a variation of it. You see,  that soup was inspired by a friend’s post. And while I was making that, my South Indian instincts took over and I had to make another version! You know what they say, you can take the girl out of South India but…

So here’s this ultra simple and awesome dish: Squash Curry. Simple, hearty and healthy! Living with food allergies does not have to be boring!

By the time this posts, I will be in Hawaii on vacation. Thank god for being able to schedule posts as this means I don’t have to take my laptop with me. This will be my first time traveling for more than a couple of days after being diagnosed with all the food issues. Fortunately, we were able to find places to stay with kitchens. So I’ll be cooking in Hawaii and hopefully learning more about its cuisine!

I made this with a mix of one squash and one small pumpkin each. For a sweeter version, use just the delicata squash.

South Indian Style squash and pumpkin curry

serves 3-4

  • 2 cups squash / pumpkin puree (cut into slices, brush with olive oil, bake at 425 for 40 minutes and then puree)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (coconut oil or vegetable oil works fine too)
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 green chilis, chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger cut into thin matchsticks (grated works too)
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime or to taste

Recipe

Heat the ghee or oil in a small saucepan. Sizzle the cumin seeds, curry leaves and red chilis. After 10 seconds, add the ginger and green chilis and saute for another 20 seconds. Remove from heat. This is your tadka or spice seasoning.

Thin out the puree to your desired consistency and warm up in the microwave. I like the consistency of this curry to be thinner than pumpkin soup but not too runny. Mix in the tadka. Add salt and lime juice to taste.

Serve with rice and cucumber.

tadka for the curry

Tadka for the Squash curry

dairy free, gluten free, fodmap, Squash and pumpkin soup, South Indian style

Squash and pumpkin soup, South Indian style

Simple, hearty and healthy! Living with food allergies does not have to be boring!

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under America, India, Recipe

Squash and Pumpkin Soup with Garam Masala Spiced Tahini

spicy tahini squash and pumpkin soup

spicy tahini squash and pumpkin soup

I’ve been complaining about my food allergies on this blog these last few months! It’s definitely been a challenge to keep cooking traditional Indian dishes at home that I can blog about. With every new addition to my list of food issues, I went through each of these phases: disbelief that you can’t eat that food, despair as to how you’re ever going to do without it, kitchen clean up where I get rid of all the offending ingredients and subsequent trip to the grocery store to stack up on things that I can eat, experimentation with new recipes and finally, finally feeling like it’s not that big a deal any more.

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with food allergies, how are you doing? Wondering what you can cook or eat when you go out? Please reach out and send me a note. I’d love to help if I can. Here’s the list of foods I’m avoiding and I’d be more than happy to fill you in on recipes and substitutions (Fruits and vegetables are listed because I need to follow what’s called a FODMAP diet):

Dairy (with the exception of ghee), all soy products, gluten, lima beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, peanuts, honey, corn syrup, agave, most artificial sugars, most vinegars, coconut, apples, pear, cherries, watermelon, figs, mango, avocado, nectarines, plums, prunes, bananas, cabbage, green beans, onions, shallots, garlic, beetroot, asparagus, artichoke, leek, spring onion, radicchio, chicory, and tomatoes. 

pumpkin soup with spicy tahini garnished with garam masala roasted squash seeds

Garam masala roasted squash and pumpkin seeds are the perfect garnish for this fall soup

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw this butternut squash dip recipe my friend Alli had posted! It was seasonal, spicy and different from other pumpkin or squash soups. I had to make a few adjustments of course including leaving out the yogurt. If I could do coconut milk, I would have loved to use that as a replacement.

I had a delicata squash and a small pumpkin at home that needed to get used up. I also had a jar of tahini that I hadn’t done very much with. Alli’s recipe not only inspired me to make a spicy squash/pumpkin soup but I loved the way she combines the butter with tahini and spices. I microwaved tahini, ghee (instead of butter), cinnamon, cayenne and salt together. This on its own is a great dip by the way! But it adds a wonderful depth to the dish that you don’t get with just the typical squash and cream soup.

I remade Alli’s recipe into this dish below (scroll down for the recipe) but came up with another really simple idea for curried squash puree that I will share next week! A hint, it’s made South Indian style.

Happy Autumn!

roasted pumpkin and delicata squash

Roasted pumpkin and delicata squash ready to be pureed

delicata squash soup with spiced tahini

Delicata squash soup with spiced tahini

Ingredients

Adapted from Alli Shircliff’s recipe on her blog An Open Cookbook

Serves 3-4

  • 1 delicata squash, sliced, brushed with olive oil and oven roasted for 40 mins at 425*
  • 1 small pumpkin, sliced, brushed with olive oil and oven roasted for 40 minutes at 425*
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Recipe

Puree the roasted squash and pumpkin in a food processor with some water.Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes on medium high power. Fold into the puree. Adjust for salt if necessary. I had to add another 1/2 glass of water to thin out the soup to my desired consistency. I think I could have easily doubled the amount of garam masala.

*Bonus: Rinse and pat dry the seeds from the squash and pumpkin. Toss with olive oil, 2 pinches of salt and garam masala. Roast in the oven (lowered heat to 300) for 10 minutes. Allow to cool down before eating. These roasted seeds are great as a garnish or on their own as a snack. If you like pumpkin beer, I’m sure these will pair really well.

2 Comments

Filed under America, India, Recipe

Just Label It, WA state

You might have already heard about the Just Label It Campaign. It’s about specifying which food ingredients have been produced through genetic engineering, information that more than 90% of Americans would like to see. I’m writing about this today because here in WA state, the Label It WA campaign is working to get 320,000 signatures in order to get I-522, Washington state initiative to label GMOs, on the ballot in 2013.

Registered voters in WA state: here’s your chance to do something. Please go add your signature to get I-522 on the ballot at any of these locations. Around Seattle, you can sign at any of the PCC locations in addition to many others. It must be done in person, it cannot be done online.
 

As a consumer and a small business, I think this is fantastic. Today, the only way to know for sure that you are not eating anything that is genetically modified is to buy organic. For many, this is unfortunately prohibitively expensive. For a small business owner like me, this labeling law would be more work initially. It may mean that my sourcing strategy will change. It will definitely mean that I will need new labels. But I’m happy to do this since it means better information and potentially improved food systems for all.

California will be voting on their initiative to label GMOs. Let’s make sure we can do the same next year! Thanks for reading and making a difference!

I wish you a fantastic weekend full of delicious food.

 

2 Comments

Filed under America, General

Curried Turnips and Cauliflower

curried turnips and cauliflower

Curried turnips and cauliflower

October 24th is National Food Day, a celebration of sustainable, healthy and more affordable food for all. Food Day was started as a movement to get America to eat better, to eat real food. Since eating is such a social act, Food Day is organizing events and parties around the country. So mark your calendars and check the Food Day website to find fun events in your area.

Here at Veena’s Market, we love great food! And great food starts with using the best ingredients. And where do you get the best produce? At Farmer’s Markets, of course. Other than growing vegetables yourself, it’s hard to find fresher and tastier produce than directly from the farmer herself.

Today, Food Day showcased my recipe for Aloo Gobi. What I made though was a version inspired by what I found at my neighborhood market. The recipe is on the Food Day blog.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, India, Recipe

A Friend at First Bite

spicy cashew coconut chicken thighs

Spicy cashew coconut crusted chicken

chicken thighs encrusted with spicy cashew coconut pesto

chicken thighs encrusted with spicy cashew coconut pesto

It usually takes years to become really good friends with someone. But every once in a blue moon, you meet someone who Just Is A Friend. It’s like falling in friendship. They might be much younger or older or dissimilar is every way from you. But you feel comfortable with them right away and just appreciate the moments you have together. Thinking about them brings a smile to your face however long it’s been since you last saw them. Kurt Vonnegut would have said they’re in your karass.

Last night, I met someone in my karass. She’s younger than me but feels so much more worldly. She’d come over for dinner and I had changed the menu last minute from making my company chicken curry to baking chicken thighs in a spicy coconut cashew crust. It was just so hot and it was boiling in the kitchen.

It might have been the spicy coconut cashew crust. Or the fact that we cooked together, in my opinion, the best way to meet people. That it was because she is just one of the friendliest people might have had something to do with it. In any case, we made this chicken. This post is for her and all my amazing friends, made fast or slow. I know I don’t keep in touch often enough. But I do think of you all. Often. And my life is so rich for knowing you. I hope you all know who you are. And thank you.

Now I have a confession to make. I used a magical spice blend that I was given by the lovely lady who owned the guest house near Ooty when I was traveling around South India. And I don’t know exactly what goes into it. As best as I can tell, it is called Uduka Maasu Hudi and you can find the recipe if you scroll down a third of the way on the page. One of these days, I will have to make it for myself as I’m almost out.

But you can always use a garam masala blend or even better, mix 50% garam masala with 50% store bought South Indian sambhar blend. *

The rest is very easy. Like the best friendships.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1/3 cup cashews or 1 handful
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  • 2 tablespoons spice blend of your choice*
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put all the ingredients except the chicken in a food processor and process till you achieve a pesto like consistency. Smear each thigh with a generous amount of your spicy paste. Line a tray with parchment paper and place the chicken thighs on it. Bake for 40 minutes or till the juices run clear. I like to turn over the chicken after 30 minutes.

Serve with roasted broccoli.

Enjoy and here’s to good friends.

 

3 Comments

Filed under America, India, Recipe

Meet My Herb Garden

curry leaf plant

Meet Gopi – my new curry leaf plant

apple mint and chili plants

Chilies and Apple Mint

cilantro plant with coriander seeds

The cilantro plant bolted. But I can plant these coriander seeds!

There is supposedly a green thumb gene that runs through my mom’s family. My grandmother’s garden used to be full of fruit trees, roses and different flowers every year. That garden bears witness to many childhood memories. We spent many summers there with my cousins playing Shark, a game we made up, climbing trees, enjoying tea parties on the lawn and getting bit by the biggest mosquitoes known to seven year olds.

I’ve never grown anything before. I mean I’ve watered potted plants and sprouted seeds for a Biology class experiment. But I’ve never really had a garden. I’ve even managed to kill cacti. Yes multiple ones. And we (here I share the blame with my husband) even managed to kill an indoor palm tree that was supposedly a pretty easy plant to take care of. It’s a long story, but we think the nursery was at least partially complicit.

So it was with some hesitation that I decided to start an herb garden this year. Where we live, we have access to a great backyard. Now, every time I *must* have curry leaves, it involves driving all the way over to the “Eastside” where the Indian grocery stores are. It’s such a chore. So I really wanted to grow my own curry leaves.

There are a few nurseries in the US where you can buy plant starts online. After one order fell through as the nursery had actually oversold their curry leaf starts, I found another source. They were fantastic, they shipped right away and the little plant arrived in a shipping tube all bundled up. I had to name him. He’s Gopi.

Once bit by the planting bug, I went further and planted apple mint, cilantro and two different chilies. The cilantro has already bolted (flowered) which means I won’t get herb from it. But, I can plant those seeds you see for new plants. The mint plant though is doing really well.

I’m crossing my fingers for chilies, cilantro and most of all for curry leaves. I hope I don’t kill Gopi in the weeks it will take for the plant to get well established and I can harvest the leaves.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, General, Spices

3 ways to spice up your Superbowl party!

Chips and salsa are great. And easy if you’re hosting a Superbowl party. And you could always throw in a big bag of popcorn.

But if you’re a foodie in addition to being a football fan, you might need something a bit more exciting! And who am I kidding? I’d be coming for the food, not the football! I confess that even after living in the US for a gazillion years, I still don’t understand football.

Anyhoo, getting back to things I do know, here are three recipes that would add great international flair to your table! The other bonus is that you can make all of these ahead of time and reheat before serving. Oh yeah, and it just so happens that they are also healthier than your typical party snack!

So here are my picks from the blog archives:

Rustic baked samosas

Recipe tweak – Cut down on time by using premade filo dough sheets instead of making your own dough.

baked samosas

Rustic Baked Samosas

Kimchi pancakes

Make whole pancakes and cut into eights before serving. If your friends are anything like mine, they will not get nearly enough bites.

crispy kimchi pancakes

Kimchi pancakes

Egyptian street food Koshary

More than a snack! You can buy most of the ingredients from the bulk products aisle and save yourself some $$. To save time, you can buy fried onions in a jar, the kind you’d get for a classic green bean casserole.

egyptian street food koshary

Fill 'em up with Koshary!

So there you have it! Have a fun Superbowl weekend and may the best team win!

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Egypt, General, India, Korea