Monday, August 18, 2014

A picnic and a birthday

I had this in my drafts and happened to read it today. It isn't half bad and it brought back pleasant memories so I thought I would publish.
Gubs turned 12 yesterday. Hard to believe that the baby of the family is growing up. Gubba planned his birthday very elaborately. He wanted a picnic with his cousins and aunt and uncle.
The menu was
Caprese salad
Pita chips with  Hummus, Mutabal, red pepper and cashew dip and tahini sauce
Rice paper rolls with peanut sauce
Pasta salad

The salad was assembled onsite with tiny Campari tomatoes and marinated fresh mozzarella.

The hummus and mutabal were made from scratch.

The chick peas were soaked and cooked then blended with cumin seeds, ground sesame seeds, garlic,lime juice and salt. Scoop into a shallow bowl; dot with za'attar and aleppo pepper, top with olive oil.

For the Mutabal, roast an eggplant over a gas flame. Char all over. Put in a bowl and cover for 15 mins. Peel off the charred flesh. Start with sesame seeds and half a clove of garlic in the blender. Blend well and lime juice. Add the eggplant and pulse. Serve dirzzled with Olive oil.
The red pepper dip was made with a jar of roasted red peppers, a smidge of garlic, juice of a lime, 1/4 cup of roasted cashews, Aleppo pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Pulse ingredients in a food processor and adjust to taste. Top with Olive oil.

Pasta salad was made with a whole bunch of marinated ingredients: Canned artichoke hearts rinsed and drained. Marinated mushrooms, rinsed and drained. Roasted red and yellow pepppers; drained and some green peas. Dressing was Katy's strawberry vinegar, olive oil, pepper and kashmiri lal mirch.

For the peanut sauce - Zest and juice of a lime, finely minced ginger and garlic,2 tbsps of hoisin sauce, 3 glugs of soy sauce, sambal olek, peanut butter. Add all ingredients upto peanut butter into a 12 oz glass jar and mix. Then add about 2 tbsps peanut butter and microwave for 45 seconds. stir to blend. Taste, add more peanut butter, water, sugar, salt to balance flavors.
For rice paper rolls:
Marinated tofu - Microwave 2 blocks of tofu. Drain the water, Slice horizontally in half and put on the grill. Dab sambal Olek and a little oil and flip when the first side is done. Repeat on other side.

Rice paper rolls made with, julienend carrots, cukes, lettuce, marinated tofu, cooked rice noodles, cilantro and mint.
Technique. Keep a big bowl of water ready that your rice paper will fit into. Dip the rice paper into it and lay it on a cutting board. Immediately begin assembling. Start with lettuce. Herbs, tofu, noodles, carrot and cucumbers in that order. Place on wrap on end near you. Start rolling. Wrap each roll in saran wrap to prevent sticking.
The food was eaten, games were played and a fruit tart with summer berries and a light custard filling was cut and wishes were made.

Monday, June 9, 2014


It almost seems  mandatory to write about Rhubarb and to be excited about it  when early summer rolls around.  You might wonder, and  rightly so, what  the big fuss about this humble - vegetable? fruit?  is. It is hard even to classify it - the pinkish stalks of a plant. It can't be that everyone is excited about its tartness. I think it is something bigger: The humble Rhubarb is the harbinger of summer's bounty and that is why it is given this warm welcome. I will admit, reader that I too hold the Rhubarb dear - I consider it a good omen to start off preserving season with Rhubarb.
So what does one do with Rhubarb? other than pie. The most creative ideas I have come across from some of my favorite blogs.
- Mousse
or embrace the tartness and pickle those stalks (which I am dying to do)
I bought the Rhubarb because I told myself it was tradition and with lofty aims to make these strawberry - rhubarb crisp bars. But the week went by and the stalks languished in the fridge. Left with 2.5 stalks of salvageable Rhubarb and 3 ripe tomatoes, I made this tomato - rhubarb sandwich spread/chutney/whatchamacallit.
Tomato Rhubarb Chutney - desi shtyle

2.5 stalks of Rhubarb cut into thin pieces
3 tomatoes diced
A thumb sized knob of ginger cut into matchsticks
1 tsp of canola oil
pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing
pinch of fenugreek powder
3 dried red chilies
1/2 - 1 tsp of chili powder
To taste
- salt
- tamarind or lime juice

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and the dry red chiliies. When the mustard splutters, add the hing and the fenugreek powder. Stir for half a minute. Now add the diced Rhubarb, the ginger and the tomatoes. Add a little salt and a splash of turmeric and the chilli powder. Continue to saute on a medium flame until the tomatoes break down fully and oil starts to leave the sides. Taste the chutney. Adjust the salt. If the chutney is not tart enough add about a 1/4 tsp of tamarind concentrate or juice of half a lime.

This made about 2 pint jars of chutney that lasted in the fridge for about 3 weeks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stir Fried Plantains

"The English are obsessed with the weather" was a strong belief that I held, growing up on a diet of Enid Blyton, P.G Wodehouse and Jane Austen. Living in God's Own Country, I really couldn't appreciate this English obsession:   The landscape stayed a beautiful lush green throughout the year. The sun always shone ; even if for a brief period between cloud bursts during the monsoons.There were hot days and hotter days and the brief period between the Southwest and Northeast monsoons was extremely pleasant.
Let me just say that Oregonians are way more obsessed with the weather than the English. And yay! spring is here and to celebrate there has been all kinds of cooking.

Carrot pickles and Spiced Almonds that got eaten before getting photographed

and  stir fries

 I present the humble plantain -stir fired with Sambal Olek and red onions. It is good enough to eat straight from the pan or served with some boiled rice.
If you have ever cooked with plantains, you know what a pain it is to prep and peel. The plantain skin has a sticky oily residue and you have to oil your knife and hands before prepping. But if you steam the plantains with the skin; it is a snap to peel and you can also reduce the amount of oil you use.

Stir Fried Plantains
3 large plantains
1/2 red onion sliced
2- 3 tsp of oil
1/2 tsp cumin
a few curry leaves
1 tsp Sambal Olek
Water or stock to baste.
Salt to taste

Cut each platain into 2 or 3 pieces along with the peel and put it in a microwave safe bowl that has a lid. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and steam the plantains in the microwave until the skin of the plantains turn black.( this took me 10 mins) in my microwave. Cool until you can handle. 
Use a paring knife to peel the plantains.The peel should come off easily in one segment. 
Slice the plantains into rounds.

Heat the oil in a large work. Add the cumin and the curry leaves. When the cumin splutters add the red onions. Add a little salt and fry until the onions just start to brown. Add the sliced plantains and stir to coat with the onion and spices. Add the Sambal Olek and cover the wok with a lid and let the plantains cook for 5 minutes. Check the plantains. They should feel dry. Add a teaspoon or tow of water or stock and cook until it is absorbed. Check and repeat again if necessary and adjust the seasonings as you go. 
The stir fry is ready when the plantains are tender and don't feel dry. Top with green chilies and serve.

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