Category Archives: Recipe

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

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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.

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Upma with Pearl Millet

Millet Upma

Millet Upma

This was one of those dishes I threw together in 10 minutes because I was hungry and had leftover cooked pearl millet. It was an unexpected treat. Famished as I was, I realized I should probably take a couple of pictures before I ate it all up. So here they are along with a recipe.

If you’ve never cooked with whole pearl millets before, run to the grocery store, now and get your self some! It is that awesome. We eat millet instead of rice often. I first ate cooked whole pearl millets while visiting my in-laws. My MIL makes a very delicious crust-less pie with whole millets and slices of pears all baked together and served with apple compote.

What are millets? Millet is a collective term for tiny seeds from various grasses that are not even related to each other. They are used as grains and are typically highly nutritious, more so than wheat or rice. I use pearl millets as they are easily available in Seattle. There are however many kinds of millets. In South India, finger millets are widely used and I’ve shared a delicious rustic flat bread recipe before.

I’m calling this dish Upma though it’s a lot simpler than the real deal South Indian uppitu or upma. I’ve eliminated a lot of the typical upma ingredients such as onion and grated coconut and used millets instead of semolina because of my food issues. You are welcome to add those ingredients back in or follow my recipe as is. It will be delicious either way. Pearl millets are also a great gluten free substitute for couscous.

I would recommend serving this millet upma with a side of plain yogurt and spicy pickle. It’s perfect as a snack, savory breakfast or light lunch.

This recipe is vegan and gluten, onion and garlic free. It’s a FODMAP friendly recipe.

Millet Upma

  • 2 cups cooked millets, room temperature or refrigerated
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 2 dry red chilis, broken in half
  • 1 teaspoon urud dal (split black lentils, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds (optional, I added some for nutrition)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 cup cashews, roasted (or almonds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lime or to taste

Recipe

Heat the oil over medium heat. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, add a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.Sizzle the mustard seeds and curry leaves for ten seconds or till the seeds start popping. Saute the dry red chilis, urud dal and flax seeds for another 10 seconds.

Add the turmeric powder and stir in the millets and cashews. Add salt and squeeze fresh lime juice to taste. Serve with a side of yogurt if you can eat dairy.

Liked this recipe? Here’s another gluten free version of the Upma recipe.

delicious savory pearl millets

Savory “curried” pearl millets

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Easy Eggplant

easy eggplant recipe without onions or coconut

Easy Eggplant curry with idlis and spicy chili pickle

Alright, I’m just gonna say it. How can anyone not like eggplant?!?!

My favorite thing to make with eggplant is my mom’s South Indian style curry with coconut. And one of the dishes I’d love to get right one of these days is Ennegai (with a link to the good folks over at the Monsoon Spice blog). But, sadly, the doc has cut me off onions and coconut for  at least the next few months. In this period of mourning, I still need to eat eggplants.

So I came up with this simple variation of a curried vegetable dish. What I realized was that no onions actually meant less prep time! And you know what? My South Indian heart rejoiced when I had this eggplant dish for lunch with freshly steamed idlis and a side of green chili pickle. It hit the spot.

Among other foods, I avoid most ingredients on the FODMAP (a diet the fructose intolerance have to follow) list. If you want to make this dish 100% FODMAP compatible, just eliminate the lentils.

Easy Eggplant

serves 3-4

  • 1.5 lb eggplant (I used the small Indian eggplants but you can use the big kind)
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons urud dal (split black lentils, optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons sambhar powder (or curry blend)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

Cut the eggplants into roughly 2 inch long and 1/2 inch wide pieces. If you’re doing this ahead of time, place in a pot of water so they don’t brown.

Heat the oil in a large wok or pan over medium heat. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, throw in a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot.

Sizzle the mustard seeds for 5 seconds or till they start popping. Stir in the curry leaves, chilis and urud dal and let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Be careful, the oil may splatter. Add the garlic, eggplant, turmeric and sambhar powder and cook for 2 minutes while stirring frequently. If anything starts sticking to the pan, add more oil.

Add a cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes or till the eggplant is soft and cooked.

Add salt and lime juice to taste.

Serve with idlis or rice.

yummy eggplant

Yummy eggplant

easy eggplant

Easy Eggplant

 

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Sambhar – South Indian Lentil Curry

sambhar south indian lentil curry with vegetables

Sambhar, a hearty lentil curry

Do you have food allergies or intolerances? When you first hear about them, you feel really sad to have to cut out something you love to eat. And you wonder how you can do without. Well, I think when you don’t have a choice, you find a way to continue to eat food that tastes great and is nourishing.

I’ve mentioned my food allergies before. I now have fructose intolerance to add to that list and can’t eat onions, tomatoes or coconut anymore. If you know anything about Indian food, you know how often these are used. I’m following a FODMAP diet and have also eliminated soy, dairy, gluten, lima beans, and kidney beans. So I’ve been wondering what to eat lately and very importantly, what to blog about!

Do you have food allergies? How have you adapted your cooking to your lifestyle? I know completely changing your diet can be a huge challenge. And to make sure that what you eat is tasty and varied. To help those of you with food allergies, I’ve been trying to remember to tag recipes with allergy information where applicable. You can do a search on the left.

That brings me to today’s post. Ever had dosa or idlis in a South Indian restaurant? The lentil curry that always comes on the side is called Sambhar. Now I think it’s a delicious dish in it’s own right and can be eaten as a main meal. The best part is that you can easily make 2 or 3 times the recipe and have a big pot to last you all week. It’s one of those rare curries that I don’t get tired of easily. I made this sambhar without onion but still included tomatoes and green beans (also on the FODMAP list). But they were easy enough to pick out.

The other thing I love about sambhar is that it is so flexible. You can eat it with rice or other grains like millet. We often cook pearl millet instead of rice at home. You can also eat it by itself as soup. It’s delicious with a spicy Indian pickle on the side or with papadum.

sambhar

typical vegetables for sambhar

Typical vegetables used for sambhar

cooking the sambhar vegetables

Cooking the sambhar vegetables 

Serves 4

  • 1 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida
  • 10 curry leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sambhar powder (buy in Indian store or see below)
  • 1 scant teaspoon tamarind extract, dissolved in 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup vegetables (3 of any of green beans, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, tomato, etc), cut to 1 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish

Rinse the toor dal thrice. Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or till the lentils are soft and fully cooked.  Mash the lentils with a masher or large spoon.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a thick bottomed pot. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, throw in a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Sizzle the whole spices just for 5-10 seconds before adding the turmeric, sambhar powder, and tamarind extract in water. Stir well.

Add the vegetables, salt and enough water to just cover them. Bring to a boil, and simmer covered on low for 10 minutes or till the vegetables are cooked. Add water to just cover the vegetables if needed.

Transfer the vegetables to the pot in which you cooked the toor dal. Mix well. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.

Sambhar Powder 

  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons urud dal (dehusked, split black lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • ½ tablespoon black peppercorn
  • ½ tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 10 red chilis

Dry roast the whole spices and urud dal for 3 minutes on medium low heat. Grind to a fine powder in a spice blender along with the turmeric and asafetida.

a pot of sambhar

A pot of sambhar

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Baingan Ka Bharta

baingan ka bharta

Baingan ka bharta, smoky eggplant cooked with onions, tomatoes and garam masala

As summer draws to a close and the days shorten, I’m sometimes at a loss as to what I want to eat. Something cooling or something warming? Something light or comfort food? In a few more weeks, this won’t be a problem. In a few more weeks, I’ll be wanting Daal or a hearty stew almost every day. Till then, I want to enjoy what’s left of the sun before it disappears from Seattle skies for another eight months. Till then, I want something light and comforting.

That’s where this brilliant dish comes in. Once you make it, it’s up to you to eat it piping hot, scooped up in warm naan or eat it cold mixed with a swirl of yogurt and a bit of rice. It can be made into a light meal or a substantial one. It’s also great for weekend brunches as you can spread some of that smoky eggplant goodness on crusty slices of baguette and top off with gruyere.

In this Punjabi dish, the eggplant is traditionally smoked by placing it whole in a fire or on hot coal. At home, I roast the eggplant in the oven. You could also use the broiler.

Baingan ka bharta is easily one of my favorite eggplant dishes. I love eggplant. I have an unabashed and unapologetic desire for it’s taste and texture. If you’re not sure about this glorious vegetable, be warned, this recipe might not be for you!

And finally, here’s the recipe after the pictures.

Oven roasted eggplant

Oven roasted eggplant, shriveled up but oh so tasty

peeling the oven roasted eggplant

Peeling the oven roasted eggplant

 

Roasted eggplant curry served with pita bread

Roasted eggplant curry served with pita bread

pita bread with baingan ka bharta

Baingan ka bharta in pita! Served with a side of roasted cauliflower for a delicious vegan meal.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

(Printer friendly recipe for baingan ka bharta)

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 teaspoons + 4 tablespoons high heat oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • Roughly 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 a lime or to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Tomato slices for garnish

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse and dry the whole eggplants. Smear them all over with high heat oil. Place the eggplants on a tray lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes or till the eggplants are wrinkly and shrivelled up. Don’t worry, they’ll taste all smoky and rich! Broiling them should speed it up but unfortunately we have an old gas oven and the broiler is inconsistent. You can roast the eggplants ahead of time and refrigerate them if you like.
  2. Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and cut the ends. You can remove the seeds if you dislike the bitterness of eggplants. Chop roughly.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. The oil is hot enough if a cumin seed thrown in sizzles.
  4. Sizzle the cumin seeds for just 10 seconds before adding the onions, garlic and ginger.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently or till the onion is slightly brown.
  6. Add all the spices, tomatoes and 1/2 glass of water. Cook for another 10 minutes or till the tomatoes are mushy and the oil has separated.
  7. Add the eggplant, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  8. Salt to taste and squeeze half of a fresh lime. Garnish with chopped cilantro and slices of tomato.
  9. Serve with naan, pita bread, spread on baguette or with rice.

Have a glorious weekend!

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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.

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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.

 

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