Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cashew Chicken & Away - On A Vacation

My family absolutely love this dish. I serve it with jasmine rice. We like to eat out at the Chinese restaurants that serve Indian style Chinese. We have a few good restaurants here but the main problem while eating there, is the grease. They use so much oil in almost all their dishes and God knows if the use MSG, we always complain about getting thirsty and our throats have this lump sticking inside that is difficult to get rid of. Or at least it seems that way. So I try out different dishes at home. So far, I have made chili chicken, Manchurian, chow mein, spring rolls, hot n sour soup, and other easy stir fry dishes. I particularly like this dish as it doesn't call for the corn starch slurry. That's something else I can't have often. So, presenting Cashew chicken from my kitchen to yours!

Cashew Chicken
1 lb. chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
1 large onion,sliced
1/2 cup cashew
1/2 medium red pepper,cubed
1/4 cup each snow peas, green beans(blanched)
Ginger, garlic per taste
Sriracha sauce per taste
1 tbsp tomato paste

How to:
Brown chicken pieces in oil. Keep aside.
In the same oil, add ginger-garlic paste, sauté till fragrant.
Now add all the vegetables and cook till they are crisp tender.
Add chicken pieces to the vegetable mix and pour the sauce and tomato paste.
Adjust the seasoning with salt.
At the end, add cashews and toss well.

Hi friends

It's that time of the year! The much needed vacation awaits. Ciao and keep blogging! Will meet you all soon, right here

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Little Garden N Oregano Sauce & A Problem!

My little garden is in full bloom. Roses are so beautiful, so is the jasmine. Mint is not that good this time as oregano has taken over the space! A co-worker of mine gave me a few plants of raspberries early in the spring and looks like I will be enjoying the fruit this year! I wasn't really hoping for it. I usually dry my mint to use it later in the year but this year, since there is not much mint came out, I need to buy it from the store. And I absolutely have no idea what to do with all the oregano. I have 2 big bottles of dried stuff and in the past, I tried to dry oregano but it didn't work. It did get dried but the flavor was lost. So this year, I am not even thinking about it. I am using it in sauces, chickens-as much as I can. This sauce was just one of those recipes. It served as a very good dipping sauce for the grilled potato wedges and the grilled chicken. I also used it over usual potato and peas sandwich and it tasted so much better.

Oregano Sauce
1 cup loosely packed oregano leaves
1 tbsp mint leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
4-5 tbsp mayonnaise

How to:
Throw everything in the food processor and get yourself a good puree! You can add heat if you want, why not try minced jalapeno?!

Now let's talk about a problem that to me, seems so big.  I can't open Sanyukta, Aipi, Satya and so many other blogger friends' blogs.  My computer gets frozen or so many tabs get opened and that's it.....  I've tried to open up the blogs at work also. Not working...  Any suggestions???

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Independence Day & Tri Color Spread

I've seen so many beautiful tri-colored dishes on all blogs! Mind blowing. I decided to participate in this event by Akila. I haven't been to India in over 13 years! The first and the last time I'd been there with baby Mark was in 1997! That's it. Never got a chance to go back there as my sister moved to the US and my parents came to Canada first as visitors and then as permanent residents. I believe the most important factor of being and feeling an Indian is the love of food-multi layered, colorful Indian food. Love to see all the Indians out and celebrate Independence day and other holidays here in North America. I fondly remember my mom, making different sweets on Diwali, Sheer Korma on Id and cakes and other sweet and savory treats on Christmas. There in India, really Independence day didn't matter much! Only to go to school in the morning and do the salutation to the flag, come home and enjoy the rest of the day! It was only a simple day off for most of us. Well, things changed after I left India. Even though being a Canadian now myself, and having met with people with so many cultures around the world, I think of myself as a global citizen! But the Indian roots are still there. Can't deny it. The love of food, clothes, mehndi, gajra-everything is still alive after all these years! And that way, I've been trying to show Mark the heritage of India.

When I first read about the event, my mind was racing at jet speed. I wanted to make Indian food, Mexican food, Italian food-all with similar colors. The other day I was at the super market and I was checking out the vegetables, I saw the matching colored veggies and thought I could use these in so many dishes! Finally, I landed on cheese! That wasn't easy either. I thought about using a cream cheese. Stepped back,  not only that cheese. Again, thought about using sour cream, nope, not good. Then I saw the layered ice cream I made and the light bulb flashed! I thought, why not make a cheese spread. That's it. Everything got shaped up in my mind and here it is! My cheese spread with pestos. I just added the olive spread because I liked the color and it reminds me of the Ashok Chakra in the flag.

Tri Color Spread
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil)
6-8 large Kalamata Olives, finely chopped
thinly-sliced baguette bread

How to:
Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with clear plastic wrap.
In a food processor, combine cream cheese, goat cheese, garlic, oregano, and pepper; stir until well blended.
Spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture onto the bottom of prepared pan. Top with pesto, spreading evenly. Layer with another 1/3 of the cheese mixture.
Drain sun-dried tomatoes, reserving one tomato for garnish. Cut remaining sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces; spread evenly over cheese mixture in pan. Top with remaining cheese mixture.
Cover with plastic wrap and press gently to pack cheese. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Uncover and invert onto a serving plate.
Garnish with cut reserved tomatoes.
Serve with crackers or baguette bread.

NOTE: This can be made 5 days in advance and refrigerated , or it can be frozen up to 2 months.

This is my entry for Akila's CID event.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spring Rolls

Where the heck have I been?  Well, took a little break from blogging! This doesn't mean that I stopped cooking and making new dishes. So here's another one.
Spring rolls! As popular as pizza and much so universal. We love to have spring rolls any time, with any meal. You can say that my family is a sucker for spring rolls as much as we are for pizza! And you might thing of making spring rolls as a daunting task but seriously, it isn't! It's quite the opposite. Making spring rolls is just so easy with storebought sheets, coleslaw mix(!) and a few spices of your choice. I am not kidding! Don't believe me? Just read on!

Spring Rolls

12 sheets of storebought spring roll pastry, thawed, covered with a wet kitchen towel
2 cups coleslaw mix
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 green onions, white stalks only, julienned
1 green chili, julienned
1 tbsp ginger, grated
oil for frying
slurry of all purpose flour and water(equal parts)

How to:
Heat oil in a wok.
Saute ginger and green chili till fragrant.
Add coleslaw mix, green onion stalks, hot sauce, salt and pepper and stir till veggies are crisp tender.
Now add bean sprouts and take the wok off the heat.
Let it cool down completely.
Take one sheet, place about 2 tbsp of filling on the sheet, about 1" from the bottom side.
Now, roll from the bottom into a cylinder.
After a couple of rolls, start tucking in the sides and then keep on rolling tightly to form a log.
Make rolls using all the sheets.
Heat the oil in a sauce pot to 375 degrees. 
Fry the rolls till golden brown and enjoy with the sweet and sour plum sauce or even better, Maggie Chili Garlic sauce!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Achari Paneer Tikka Masala

Last night I grilled a lot of food, like chicken, veggies and paneer. We were stuffed with chicken, veggies and burgers! So I just stashed the paneer tikkas in the fridge. I was making eggplant bhartha for supper tonight and it just crossed my mind that why not use up that paneer? I didn't want to make the usual paneer butter masala etc. and since this one was already grilled and cooked, I had to quickly come up with something. And bingo! I saw the mixed pickle bottle! Achari paneer.... that's it! I quickly heated up the oil, added some of the masala from the pickle(not the oil), let it simmer for about 2 minutes or so and added paneer, pepper and onion pieces. I sprinkled some chaat masala powder at the end, right before serving. This was so delish!

Paneer and peppers were grilled with salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil. That's it. And who needs a recipe when we all know how to cook?! All we need is an idea and we can make any recipe our own! Am I right or what?!

And this is my entry for Jay's Paneer event.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sprouts Curry

My sister also is in love of sprouts! She uses different beans and makes this delicious dish that is finger licking good. Normally we have it with chapatis, but this one is good enough to eat spoonfuls. And look at those sprouts! Who even needs to cook them? Certainly I won't. I would just eat them up like that.

I mentioned to her about Priya's let's sprout event and she said she would love to participate in it. Since she doesn't have a blog, I was ready to provide her a platform, my blog.

This is so good, even her 2-year old jumps to eat this dish!

Mixed sprout curry
1/2 cup each of sprouted green gram, black chick peas, green peas
1/4 cup sprouted fenugreek
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup oil
Ginger-garlic paste to taste
2 green chilies, coarsely crushed
Salt to taste
Enough water to cook the sprouts
Red chili powder, coriander poweder and turmeric powder to taste

Garnish: cilantro leaves and lime or lemon wedges

How to:
Heat oil in a sauce pot. Add chopped onion and fry till lightly brown.
Now add tomato paste and all the spice mix with ginger garlic paste and salt and cook till tomato paste is dissolved. Now add sprouts and water,cover and cook till sprouts are at desired doneness. Squieez some lemon juice on it and serve.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sprout Bhel!

I love to sprout and eat them too! As I mentioned earlier in my Sprouts salad_ post, I sprout once a week and have those sprouts as a mid-morning snack. Plain sprouts with a little bit of chat masala sprinkled on them. That's it.

So when Priya announced sprouts event, I flipped out of my chair! I was like, this is my kind of event. I like to keep and taste the sprouts in their natural state most of the times. So I wasn't going to be making dumplings or pan cakes or burgers or curries! I use sprouts for my salads usually, so this time, I thought about making Bhel out of them! I know my other foodie buddies might come up with the same idea but hey, great minds think alike! This bhel is very flavorful, much colorful and so packed with nutrition. Go ahead, give it a try. You'll find it hard to stop devouring it.

Sprout Bhel
1 cup sprouted green gram(moong)
1/2 cup each sprouted black chick peas,moath(matki) and peanuts
1 medium potato, cubed and boiled
1 small raw mango, cubed
1/2 jalapeno, seeded(keep the seeds if you like intense heat!), chopped finely
1 small red onion, chopped finely
Date & tamarind sauce
Cilantro and mint sauce
Chaat masala powder
Fine sev, cilantro leaves & Pomegranate seeds for garnish

How to: Toss all the ingredients with sauces and chaat masala powder. Garnish and enjoy right away with a glass of cold jal jeera! Yum!

This is my entry for Priya's Let's Sprout event.
I was so hungry just by looking at the chaat mix, grabbed my bowl and finished the whole thing! Totally forgot to take the picture with all the yummy sauces on top! SORRY!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Almond Biscottis

I am reposting this recipe in order to participate in Akila's event Dish Name Starts With - A. That's a neat idea, Akila!  Since this event is posted in August, hence the letter "A"! I had something else in mind but then I decided to use that recipe for Cooking on Independence Day event by Akila also. My brain is bursting with recipes right now but I want to keep it simple. Hence this repost.

I absolutely love biscotti! These cookies sound a lot more difficult to make but trust me, it is not. This recipe is really easy to make and will keep for up to 3 weeks. It tastes so great when eaten just like that but even better when dunked in a good cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa. Give it a try. I am sure you won't be disappointed and these are much better cookies than the one you get at your local barista!

Almond Biscotti
Makes about 36


3 cups All-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon Baking powder
3 Eggs, large
1 cup Granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or butter.
Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a large bowl; set aside.
Use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and sugar in another bowl on medium speed.
Add the melted butter and vanilla.
Mix on medium speed until combined.
Gradually add the flour mixture in three batches.
Blend well after each addition.
Use a rubber spatula or mixing spoon to gently stir in the toasted almonds.
The dough should be stiff enough to hold in your hands without being too sticky.
If it is too sticky, add a small amount of extra flour until it is workable.
Turn the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.
Divide the dough into two equal portions.
With lightly floured hands, shape each portion into a flat rectangle about 5-inches wide and 12-inches long. Space the "loaves" at least 2-inches apart.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown.
Allow them to cool on the pan for 5 minutes.
Gently transfer the loaves to a cutting board and use a serrated knife to slice them into 1/2-inch slices.
Place the sliced almond biscotti cookies back on the cookie sheet; placing them cut-side down.
Be careful, they will be fragile and could break in half.
Bake the almond biscotti cookies for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and turn the almond biscottis over so the other cut side is now facing up. Bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.
Place finished almond biscotti cookies on a rack to cool.
Store in an air tight container.

This is my entry for Akila's event.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Remember the leftover Chicken tikka from the other night?! I saved some to make chicken tikka masala to go with home made naans. My family enjoys this dish very much. And once the tikka is done, the rest is so easy to prepare. I can't wait to make this dish once mom and dad get back here with us. They both love it as well. And for my vegetarian friends, you can prepare the same dish with paneer, making it paneer tikka masala. I tried to make tofu tikkas, didn't taste good! May be I should start a yucky!(!) section on my blog and dump dishes like that there! And to be truthful and honest, not every new dish we try out comes out tasty! We are not Food Network chefs who would just prepare the best of the dishes for the shows!

Chicken Tikka Masala
About 1 lb Chicken tikkas
1 large onion,finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp grated ginger
Salt to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp or more(to taste) tandoori masala powder
1 medium tomato, chopped
3 tbsp Oil
Cubed green pepper for garnish

How to:
Heat oil in a sauce pot. Fry onion till golden brown. Add tomato puree and chopped tomato and cook till tomato pieces are soft. Now add ginger, garlic, salt and tandoori masala powder and cook on medium heat till oil starts to separate. Add chicken pieces and green pepper cubes, stir fry for a few minutes and serve hot.