Tuesday, December 9, 2014


It is the daily dilemma - what goes into the lunchbox. I am not a planner ; so I have some hope that this hindsight will yield some wisdom

According to the boys, lunch should ideally include what they call a hot main dish, a piece of fruit, maybe a salad and sometimes a little treat. They take their lunch in an insulated lunch bag and  they each have a thermos. an 8 oz for the little one and a 12 oz container for the older one. In the fall and winter, the thermos either contains soup or some hot food and in the summer it is filled with fruit smoothies.  Leftovers that can be easily eaten with a spoon are highly in demand and eagerly anticipated. When there are no leftovers; there is bread. Lunch is  built around pressed sandwiches and pita, parathas,tortillas and Lavash. We buy a hearty bread: sourdough or a rustic wheat bread that holds up well to fillings. I vary it every week with another flat bread: some weeks it is Lavash, others it is Pita or parathas from the Indian store.
 The breads are spread with  nut butters(sunflower and chunky peanut are favorites) or bean based dips. I usually make some kind of a bean dip, spread or lentil based filling over the weekend and use it in their lunches through the week.

Last weekend I made some  hemp butter and an olive  tapenade. I also cooked a mix of wild rice and French Lentils in my rice cooker Sunday night.

Here is the lunch breakdown for last week.

  • Monday: Pressed sandwiches with Feta and  olive tapenade/hemp butter
  • Tue: wild rice and french lentil salad with tomatoes, cukes and bellpeppers
  • Wed: Pressed sandwiches with blackeyed pea and potato filling
  • Thu: Sunflower butter, cranberry chutney and cucumber sandwiches, Paratha spread with hemp butter, pineapple
  • Fri: Leftover poha made with tomato,bell pepper and cauliflower, carrot kosambri, plain yogurt

I will leave you with a recipe for the hemp butter. Please do share - how do you deal with the lunch dilemma?

Spicy Hemp Butter
The tepin peppers are spicy and full of flavor and are available at most Mexican grocery stores.Try a mix of dried ancho and Anaheim chillies if you can't find the tepins.
The hemp heart seeds came from Costco (1 giant bag that I am trying to go through)
1/2 tsp tepin peppers 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp olive oil

1 cup hemp heart seeds
salt to taste.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, peppers and cumin and cook for a minute or so until the garlic sizzles. Don't let the garlic brown.

Combine the hemp heart seeds and the pepper-garlic mix and process either in a food processor or a high speed blender. Add salt to taste.
Stays good for at least 10 days.

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.

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