Tamara Blank and her friends won my cooking class at the Myrna Loy Auction. They wanted a gluten free class, what could be better than a dosa ( Indian crepe)? It was a fun group and I had met some of them before. Anyways, one can’t go too far in Helena without bumping into someone you know:)
This time I experimented with setting up stations for the different items and it seems like it worked out just fine….The Cucumber Raita(blended yoghurt) went well as a dip with crackers and so did the Cilantro-Coconut chutney…. The Alu ( Boiled potatoes) had just the right flavor with all the spices and a sprinkling of freshly chopped cilantro on the top. The Chai had a strong flavor of black cardamom. And Jeff’s Crepe griddles are the best for making dosas.
Everyone experimented making dosas of varying shapes and thickness, they all tasted good. I think!
Jeff was in the background prepping food for the next day, I saw him blending some delicious looking strawberries and blueberries for his crepes. I can’t wait to have them tomorrow…. yum!
Beautiful Altar & Table set up with steel Thaali & tumblers by VJ, Jeff Spurlin & Taylor – We are ready for our guests
And ….I forgot to take pictures of the food, as we got busy serving…… I got so taken in by the ambience and the lighting. VJ did an excellent job of setting up the Altar with pictures and idol of lord Ganesha with flowers, tea candles & lighting around them. It was nice of Taylor to help us, besides, he can tie a turban so well, after watching it being tied once. Jeff brought out his beautiful table clothes and Napkins.
When the guest arrived, all dressed in white ( as a part of the spiritual theme), I got busy making Naan. While VJ did a little ceremony and Taylor served tea. I was the only one not wearing white, while VJ wore a white saree. I just wasn’t thinking when I was getting ready….
All I did was make the food. It was the usual Langar ( community kitchen) kind of vegetarian food with Rajma Dal ( Kidney beans & Black lentils in a creamy sauce), Alu Gobi ( Caulifower & potatoes), Matar- Paneer Pulao( Rice dish with peas, nuts & homemade cheese), Raita & Halwa ( Semolina pudding with cashews & raisins) and of course Naan made right there on Jeff’s special griddles….All organic & made extra special with Ghee and coconut butter.
And everybody got to take a banana home as prasadam ( religous offering)
It was a TCEF fundraiser – “Indian dinner for 12 with a theme”-
” We never make Naan at home”, I would proudly tell any Naan- Indian food enthusiast. It is made of white flour, while the humble roti that is made of whole wheat flour is much more nutritious. But then, after making dosas ( Indian Crepes) on the griddles at the Creperie for six Indian dinners. I was ready to try something new… so why not try making Naan…
We had a fun cooking class at the Creperie today. The Creperie looks even more beautiful with all the Christmas decorations. It was a simple one hour + class. We made Chai tea and Alu Parontha ( potato stuffed flat bread) with whole wheat flour and gluten free ( rice flour and garbanzo bean flour) as well.
The first time I bought Orzo (rice shaped pasta) was at the Pike place market in Seattle. It was lemon flavored Orzo. I forget how I made it, but I remember it being easy to make and delicious. So I bought it again the other day and made a simple one pot meal . To a pot of about 4 cups of boiling water, I added the dehydrated vegetables that had been lying around for ages and a cup of Orzo. Continue reading “Quick Orzo stew with dehydrated veggies”→
Whenever people tell me that they find it intimidating to use spices, I am reminded of “Garam Masala” and turmeric; the oxygen of my mother’s cooking. Every dish started out with half a teaspoon of turmeric in the beginning and ended with a sprinkle of about 2 teaspoons of Garam Masala, be it Daal, a vegetable side dish or a Pulao – Rice dish.
I have so many peppers; Poblano peppers and Bell peppers. All freshly plucked from Stephanie’s kitchen garden. When she asked me if I wanted three dozen peppers, I wasn’t sure what I would do with them. Then I thought of my dinner and I knew I could use them for my next dinner at the Creperie. Yes! Peppers stuffed with flavored potatoes. Just like my mom made them!
Pepper sliced in halves
Washed under running water
Steamed for 2 mins in the pressure cooker
My mom would slice the top of the bell pepper and fill them with the spiced potato filing and sew back the top on with thread and needle. Then slowly roast them in oil for about an hour or so. It was one of my favorite dish to have. I like to slice the peppers vertically into four and fill them with the potatoes, and then bake them in the oven, it is easier and quicker..
Poblano pepper – Intense flavor
Filled with spiced potatoes and baked at 350 F for 20 – 30 mins
The Poblano peppers have an intense spicy flavor, we ended up eating them all. The peppers were so fresh that when I sliced them there was about a spoon of water inside them… I could feel the freshness and the love with which they were grown by Stephanie with no chemicals whatsoever…Thank You Stephanie!
Here is the recipe
6 Bell Peppers 6 Med sized Yukon gold potatoes 1/2 t turmeric powder 1 T Coriander powder 1/4 – 1/2 t Cayenne Pepper
2 t Cumin Powder 1/2 t Amchur ( dry mango powder) or 1 T lemon juice
Cut the peppers in half
Wash & Steam them for 3 -4 mins in a steamer or 2 mins in a pressure cooker
Boil the potatoes
Mash them & add all the spices …also salt to taste
Spread 1 Tbsp of oil on a baking sheet
Place the steamed peppers on the baking sheet
Fill the potatoes into the peppers
Bake them at 350 degree F until the peppers & potatoes get crisp & the peppers shrivel.. for 20 to 30 minutes…
Enjoy them as a side dish or a main dish with Pita bread or Naan
Hing or Asofetida is perhaps the smelliest of all spices. I had never thought of using it. “It is the worst smell on earth!”, according to my father, who endured smelly suits for a whole month – because of Hing! He was in Nigeria then, he had taken along a dozen bottles of hing in his suitcase, for a friend. As luck or ill-luck would have it, during the journey the hing sprinkled on his clothes, including his favorite suit. No amount of dry cleaning or washing helped him get rid of that “obnoxious” smell and he had to wear those smelly clothes for his business meetings.
My mother never used hing in her cooking, I did not feel the need either. Not until now. On our recent visit to India, I kept hearing about the medicinal properties of hing, it aids digestion, it can be substituted for onion, garlic and ginger. It especially helps make the daals and beans ( garbanzo/kidney) less gassy. I was sold.
I bought it freshly ground from a store just a day before leaving Bangalore. I put the bottle of hing in the outer pocket of the suitcase, which still smells of hing after two months. At first I was terrified that the smell would take over the entire house.
But then, it wasn’t that hard to isolate it, I encased it in a bottle containing lavender and tea bags.. Incidentally, I learned that used tea bags absorbed odors and smells of all kinds…I open the cap just a little bit, sprinkle it and snap it shut right away. All you need is “just a pinch.”
Now, that I have started using hing in my spice blends – Goda Masala, Sambhar Masala and daal & cholle, I have no idea how I lived without it. It adds a distinct flavor, and you can get away without adding garlic and ginger – makes life simpler!
Kashmiri Pulao is a rice dish with a difference. It has veggies, crunchy nuts, crunchy onions, saffron and fruit. Everybody likes nuts but nobody at home likes raisins, not even, if it makes an authentic Kashmiri pulao. So I made my pulao without raisins. As for fruits, I did not want to add apple, pineapple or grapes (that are usually added), but took a chance with some pomegranate and it turned out just fine in fact quite different from other kinds of pulao, that I have made before. Another thing I did different was to prepare a broth and use it instead of water to make the Pulao. The broth was simmered with spices for about 12 – 15 minutes and that added a nice flavorful touch.
Aamti is daal seasoned a little differently… or so I learned at Sujatha’s Kitchen. I was introduced to Kokum – (sun-dried Kokum fruit) that adds a tangy flavor to the daal. After adding the special Goda Masala…. The seasoning is a teaspoon of mustard seeds in hot oil with a pinch hing and 4-5 curry leaves…..Off course this is in addition to the regular addition of – roasted onions and diced tomatoes
Start with adding mustard seeds, curry leaves and Hing to hot oil….
Recipe for Aamti
Daal ( Pink & Yellow lentils)
1/2 C Masoor Daal ( pink lentils)
1/2 C Mung Daal ( yellow lentils)
1/4 tsp tumeric powder
1/4 tsp chilly powder
1/2 tbsp Goda Masala
1 tsp Black mustard seeds
a pinch of Hing ( asofetida)
4 -5 curry leaves
1 C chopped yellow onions
2 1/2 C chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp Chopped Coriander
Rinse the daal in water about 4 -5 times ( to get rid of the froth)
Soak the daal in water ( for about 15 mins)
Put the daal in a heavy bottom 5 quart stockpot
Add turmeric, cumin and salt to taste
Cook the daal in about 5- 6 Cups of water ( for about 30 mins)
Add salt to taste..
Prepare the Seasoning:
Heat 2 Tbsp of oil and add mustard seeds, add a pinch of hing and curry leaves
After the seeds begin to sputter, add tumeric and chilly powder
Add onions and roast them for about 8 – 10 minutes till golden brown
Finally add the tomatoes, blend well then cook covered for about 5 mins till tomatoes soften and the juices begin to flow
Add the Seasoning to the cooked daal
Simmer for about 5 minutes , Top it off with Goda Masala, Kokum & Garnish with chopped coriander………
Tip: I use a pressure cooker to cook daal and the cooking time is reduced to 4- 5 mins..