Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Red Spinach Pomegranate Rice Pilaf/ Pulav

This iron rich vegetable can be used to make variety of dishes. Regular stir-fry or add in the dal curry, it always gives a nice aromatic taste. My mom would buy these fresh from the vegetable vendors who would come on his bicycle, and shout all the green vegetables names on top of his voice, so everyone in the neighborhood could hear him. They were usually really fresh and mom would end up buying whole lot than needed. But she would always end up using them. My love of greens comes from being used to so many greens all the time being cooked at home.

This particular variety of red spinach was rare to find in mid-west. But here I see them in abundance. I see a big fresh bunch at the grocers and I go for it. These have red stems and also red at the edge where the stem meets leaf. When added to the rice, it not only enhances the flavors, it gives a natural red color to the rice. Some of these are my tactics to get my kids introduced to as many vegetables as I can. :o)

Prep Time: 20 min | Cooking Time: 15 min | Serves: Family of 4

Cooked Rice (Preferably cold/ left over) - 3 Cups
Red Spinach - a bunch
Onion - 1 large (chopped)
Tomato - 1 large (chopped)
Garlic - 3 pods (chopped)
Soy Sauce - 1 tbsp.
Fish Sauce (optional) - 2 tsp.
Sriracha Chili Sauce - 1 tsp.
Salt to taste (1/2 tsp.)
Sesame oil - 2 tsp.
Pomegranate seeds - 1 Cup

Method of Preparation:
 ~ Wash and rinse the greens. Soak it in cold water for atleast 10 minutes for all the dirt to settle down.
~ Once cleaned, chop them fine and keep it aside.
~ In a wide pan, heat sesame oil, add chopped onion and garlic. Cook them until onion is translucent.
~ Add tomato and red spinach, fry for few minutes and add all three sauces.
~ Once tomato is cooked, add salt and rice. Mix them all evenly. Now add half of the pomegranate seeds and give a quick mix and switch off the heat.
~ Serve it topped with remaining pomegranate.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bhendi Subzi/ Okra Stirfry

Bhendi/ Okra/ Ladies Finger is a vegetable that you either completely hate it or you love it. Luckily my kiddos like it as much as us, so I make variety of dishes with it. Okra is has same nutrition as kiwi it seems! It goes in regular curry, special sweet and sour curry, stuffed kind and then this simple subzi or stirfry. And as I am writing this, I realized that I don't have a single Okra recipe on my blog. That's strange considering I do buy okra pretty regularly and never had probably thought of clicking pictures to actually post. This particular dish is my mom's recipe.

Now one thing you have to be careful with this vegetable is that when you wash and cut, HAVE to make sure that it's dry. Yes, completely dry. My older sister had told me that first time she made this dish, and she didn't now about drying. So she cut them immediately after washing it. Later all they had was one big blob of slimy stuff. So when you wash it, make sure to pat them dry (really dry) with a towel. I usually wash and lay them down on towel, let them hang out for about 10 minutes and then pat dry. Just cut the top off and you are good to start chopping.

Prep Time: 20 min | Cooking Time: 20 min | Serves: 6


Bhendi - 1 lb
Onion - large, chopped
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp.
Urid daal/ Split black gram - 1 tsp.
Garlic - 4 pods, crushed and chopped
Chili Powder - 1 tsp.
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp.
Tomato - 2 large, cubedGrated Coconut (optional) - 2 tbsp.
Salt - to taste (About 1 tsp.)
Oil - 1 tbsp.

Method of Preparation:

~ Chop the completely dried okra and keep it aside.
~ In a wide pan or kadai, heat oil and add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the urid daal.
~ Now add garlic, fry for few seconds and add the chopped onion. Add a pinch of salt and fry until onion turns translucent.
~ Keep the heat to medium high and add okra. Now keep frying until bhendi looses it's sliminess and is almost cooked.
~ Add chili powder, garam masala powder and tomatoes. Keep mixing them all until tomatoes are done.
~ Adjust the salt (remember we already added to onion) and sprinkle fresh grated coconut if using.
~ Mix and serve them hot with rotis or as a side for a rice.

- Buying guide: When choosing Okra make sure they are lighter green and smaller in size. If you could hold and break the tip, it should easily do so. The young okra pods are tasty and they cook fast. Once they are left too long to mature on the plant, they are hard to cut and cook.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Skinny Avocado Chicken Salad

Who wouldn't love a good chicken salad! And if it's light and fresh, all the more better right. The recipe doesn't use any mayonnaise in it. Avocado gives the nutrient while keeping the bad fat out of the equation. I buy a bagful of avocados, usually containing about 6, take one or two out and leave the rest in the refrigerator. This way all of them don't ripe at the same time. My kids don't really enjoy guacamole, which is my hubby's and my favorite. We both can sit and gorge on it. For the nutrient sake, I try to hide them in many forms. Especially one of my kids favorite curry base is avocado. Shhhh... don't tell them, they love it since it has paneer (cottage cheese) in it. I will post that recipe sometime soon.

Another exception is this chicken salad. They simply love them in wraps. Though several times they mention that they don't really like avocado, they always manage to finish them. It hardly takes few minutes to put together if you have cooked chicken ready. So it's easy lunch box idea. They do stay green for few hours, and then starts to darken a little. Here is how to make this delicious, healthy chicken salad.

Prep Time: 15 min | Cooking Time: 15 min | Serves: 4

Chicken - 2 (boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
Avocado - 1 (ripened)
Onion - 1/2 Cup Chopped fine
Red Bell Pepper (optional) - 1/ 4 Cup Chopped fine
Cucumber (optional) - 1/4 Cup Chopped fine
Lime juice - 1 tbsp.
Cilantro/ Coriander Leaves - handful (cleaned and chopped)
Salt and Pepper - to taste.

Method of Preparation:

~ Cook chicken breast until done. Let it cool and then shred.
~ Mash Avocado in a bowl and mix with all other ingredients.
~ Finally mix with chicken, adjust salt and pepper and place it in the refrigerator to chill for atleast half an hour.

You might also be interested in these Avocado recipes -
Corn & Potato Stuffed Sandwiches
Banana Avocado Breakfast Smoothie
Avocado & Bell pepper Muhammara

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mackerel Fish Curry/ Bangda Thaiphal Ambat

I love seafood. And out of all the fishes, I am crazy about mackerel or bangda as we call it. The curry or the fry any way you make it, you will win me over. In US it's very hard to find; forget fresh, even good mackerel. Since I don't take chances with seafood, I never bought after first try.

Recently we found a place that sells good quality mackerel. And I called my second sister for help. She is VERY good at making seafood, infact non-vegetarian. I love almost all of her preparations. Whenever I am at her place, she spoils us good with loads of non-vegetarian food. This is her recipe that I am holding on to now to make the bangda curry every time.:o)

Thaiphal/ Teppal is less known spice which is used in Konkani dishes. It has pretty strong taste. I don't grind it into the curry, but put it later, it makes it infuse the curry with nice Teppal aroma. You can always skip this in the curry.  To know more about Teppal, visit this link here.


Mackerel - 2 large (Cut into about 10 pieces)
Coconut - 2 1/2 Cups
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp.
Chili - Around 8 to 10
Haldi/ Turmeric - 1/2 tsp.
Tamarind - 1 1/2 tsp.
ginger - 1 inch
garlic - 2 or 3
Thaiphal/ Teppal - 5 or 6

Method of Preparation:

~ Clean and wash mackerel and keep aside.
~ Grind coconut, coriander seeds, chilies, turmeric powder and tamarind together.
~ When its almost grounded, add  ginger, garlic and continue to grind it fine.
~ In a wide thick bottomed pan, bring the ground masala to boil with salt and thaipal.
~ Add fish, cover 3/4th the pan and bring to boil again.
~ Serve it warm, at least after an hour so that the fish soaks in the flavors, along with rice.

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