Sweet Potato – Daal Soup

sweet potato soup
Here are all the ingredients!

I made this soup for the Indian dinner at the Creperie tonight, it was flavorful, sweet, salty, and creamy with just a touch of ginger and cayenne pepper. And happens to be Vegan too! No wonder it was a hit at the dinner. Continue reading “Sweet Potato – Daal Soup”

Beet ~ Flat Bread (Paronte)

I usually roast beets to make a salad or soup.  Roasted beets with roasted walnut and goat cheese, seasoned with honey, balsamic vinegar and pepper for salad. As for Borsht Soup, how can it be made without beets? I pressure cook Celery, onion, garlic, potato and tomatoes along with roasted beets. It is ready in about 15 minutes. Then, all that is needed to enjoy it is a dollop of sour cream and and some freshly ground pepper

But this fall, I have been making a lot of  beet ~ paronte (flat bread) ….

Continue reading “Beet ~ Flat Bread (Paronte)”

Instant “Kichdi” Soup

What does one do with a plethora of fresh green onion tops ?  Having no patience for blanching and freezing, I decided to chop them and dehydrate them in the lowest temperature in my oven for about 5 hours. Now that I have green powder, I wanted to make a delicious, wholesome soup  mix,  the Instant kind, that can be cooked by just pouring hot water… When it comes to wholesome food, nothing like a combination of rice and dal ( carbohydrates and protein).. So here goes!!! Continue reading “Instant “Kichdi” Soup”

What is Curry?

“Can you name some spices that are native to India?”, whenever I ask any class at school, Instantly a couple hands shoot up and I hear, “Curry.” I have heard it so many times  over the last seven years, that now….whenever I am  talking about food and spices from India, my opening line is, “Curry is not a spice!” Now lets talk about the real spices – Pepper, Tumeric, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Mace and so on……

 

Continue reading “What is Curry?”

Just half a spoon of Haldi (Turmeric)

“Half a spoon ( about 1 teaspoon) is enough!”, my mother would say. The first thing I learned about cooking veggies was “add some haldi ( turmeric)”  after about two – three minutes of sauteing, be it potatoes,  peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, they all needed that little bit of haldi, followed by a dash of salt. Cook on low heat for about 20 – 25 minutes until done, finish with a sprinkle of garam masala. Simple, easy & delicious!

 

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Namak Daani ( Traditional spice box)

My mom’s spices were all freshly ground and stored in this Namak Daani ( spice box) a standard feature at many North Indian homes. She could whip up 5 – 6 dishes for a crowd coming over for dinner in a couple hours. Be it 15 people or 50 people, her estimate on how much to make was always perfect. And the food always delicious!!! She  kept it simple, by using Haldi and Garam masala as her primary spice agents. To get that touch of tanginess in Cholle ( garbanzo bean masala) she would add freshly crushed Anardana (dry Pomegranate seeds), or raw green chillies to spice up the saag( steamed greens) or raw chopped red onions on the side to add that crunch to the daal.

Quick Cabbage Stir Fry

 

Ingredients

4 C chopped Cabbage
1 Banana Pepper
1 t tumeric
1 t Garam Masala
2 T oil

Method

  1. Put the chopped cabbage and banana pepper on a non stick skillet
  2. Saute for 2 minutes
  3. Add Tumeric and Salt and blend well for 2 more minutes till it is soft and slightly cooked
  4. Drizzle oil and blend for another 2 minutes on high heat
  5. Sprinkle Garam Masala
  6. Enjoy it with some Roti/Pita or flat bread…….

Dry turmeric  would always be spread out in the sun before being taken to the mill to be ground into a fine powder. After I moved away from home,  I always got to bring a jar back, each time I visited them, for the next 20 years. My father dutifully made packets for me to take along, even though I had plenty of stock. So, I could share fresh turmeric powder with my friends as well – the abundance of it all.

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Now, I look at the few jars I have left  and wonder if I should leave them as keepsakes, as this tradition of drying and grinding turmeric at our home in India has come to an end….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squash Blossom – Dolmas

I made Squash Blossom – Dolmas today! Thanks to my friend who plucked 50 blossoms from her garden and a suggestion by Ronit Penso of Tasty Eats. They were super delicious and easy to make. It reminded me of the time, we soccer moms stood around the  kitchen counter making samosas for a fundraiser!  Dolmas would be fun to make in a group, they would be healthier and quicker to make too… maybe next time.

All I did was, wash the blossoms, fill them with the rice filling, fold them, arrange them in a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and bake them at 400 F for about 20 minutes till the edges turned crisp.  As for the filling, I added chopped Parsely & Mint ( 4 – 6 tbsp), Lemon juice ( 3 – 4 Tbsp), Red pepper flakes ( 2 Tbsp) and Sesame oil ( 2 Tbsp) to about 2 cups of cooked Basmati rice.

 

I baked some of the Blossoms plain, and they were good too, nice and crisp. Either way, a good Appetizer….

 

 

 

 

 

Steamed rotis – Auntie Trejavathi’s Kitchen

Soft, moist and yummy is how I remember Bilavalege – a steamed roti of sorts with tomato gojju, a spicy, tangy, sweet sauce.  It was one of my favorites at Auntie’s kitchen. Even after 25 years, the warmth and her immaculate kitchen remain unchanged! She was really happy to show me how she made them.

 

To a steel tumbler (cup) of hot water, she added another tumbler of flour and let it cook on low heat for 2 minutes in a beautiful brass pot. Then blended it well with a wooden ladle before shaping handfuls of the dough into balls and flattening it into little discs.

Then she proceeded to roll out the dough disc on a plastic sheet, as the dough is sticky, before cooking it on a hot griddle

It used to be Mamatha’s house for me. Back then, Mamatha and me would take turns visiting each other’s houses to just chat or study together. Visiting also entailed a warm welcome and warm homemade food at both the houses. That was the beauty of going to a friend’s house, especially of a different culture, you got to eat something really different and delicious!!! Besides, every kitchen in India has a flavor of its own, own spice blends and flavorings that have been passed down in the family from one generation to another.

At Auntie Trejavathi’s kitchen, I was introduced to so many different kinds of food & different flavors. So going to her house was always a treat. The kitchen was always spic and span with everything beautifully organized and arranged. We would sit on the marble kitchen floor, while she served the food to us and everyone else, before eating herself.

The gojjus, saarus ( lentil based sauce) and the rice dishes (eggplant, peppers, mango) were super delicious and super spicy, even though she would tone down the spice level for me. I enjoyed her green pepper rice, Obbatu( jaggery stuffed wraps), Mulangi Sambhar (radish & dal), Mango rice and bilavalege – steamed roti.

As usual, I couldn’t leave without eating, so I got to eat the  Bilavalege -steamed roti that I had watched her make with a side of French bean- coconut, seasoned with black mustard seeds and Obbatu as well! It was a nice visit, as we talked a lot – she about Mamatha and her grand daughters and me about my sons as we pulled up pictures on the phones & ipad. Back then, it used to be about classes, exams & grades.

 

As I was leaving, I said “Barteene Auntie” ( I will be back)……. another way of saying goodbye!!!

Ingredients:
1 Cup Wheat/Rice Flour
1 Cup Water
1/2 tsp Salt

 1 tsp Oil
Directions: 

1. Boil the water in a saucepan or pot, add salt.
2. Place a wooden spoon in the pot and then add the wheat/rice flour.
3. Do not stir.
4. Reduce heat to low and let it cook for 1 – 2 minutes.
5. Turn off heat and stir quickly using the wooden spoon to make a lump free soft dough.
6. Knead the dough while its hot.
7. Apply a little oil to your hands, as the dough is sticky
8. Take a handful of dough and shape it into round ball then flatten it into a disc
7. Roll the round disc (on a plastic sheet/parchment paper) till they are about 6 to 8 inches in diameter
9. Cook the round disc (roti) on both sides ( about a 75 – 90 seconds on each side) – Medium heat 
10. You can have it with a dip/roasted veggies of your choice

 

Alu Parontha at the Creperie

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.

Continue reading “Alu Parontha at the Creperie”

Quick Orzo stew with dehydrated veggies

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”

It is raining Peppers……..stuff them with potatoes

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!

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..

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

  1. Cut the peppers in half
  2. Wash & Steam them for 3 -4 mins in a steamer or 2 mins in a pressure cooker
  3. Boil the potatoes
  4. Mash them & add all the spices …also  salt to taste
  5. Spread 1 Tbsp of oil on a baking sheet
  6. Place the steamed peppers on the baking sheet
  7. Fill the potatoes into the peppers
  8. Bake them at 350 degree F until the peppers & potatoes get crisp & the peppers shrivel.. for 20 to 30 minutes…
  9. Enjoy them as a side dish or a main dish with Pita bread or Naan