Salad with strawberry vinaigrette and gorgonzola cheese.

It was Saturday night dinner with pizza and I wanted to come up with something light but healthy to balance the cheesy pizza. I had picked up gorgozola cheese the other day as I love the sharp flavor especially when added in salads with apples and walnuts. I didn’t have walnuts but had Pecans and decided to skip apples as my hubby is allergic to them.

Usually this combination of gorgonzola cheese goes well with a raspberry vinaigrette but didn’t have that either.. voila ! there were strawberries in my fridge! So I decided to try a new vinaigrette :-)

Ingredients for the dressing-

1 lime juice, 2 strawberries,  extra virgin Olive oil.
Finely chop the strawberries and add them to the lime juice. Let this sit for a while and squish the strawberries with a fork so that its flavor infuses into the lime juice. Add a pinch of salt to it. Drizzle olive oil into this while mixing it simultaneously with a fork so that it combines well with the lime juice. Here is your strawberry flavored Vinaigrette ready! Then toss in a bowl,  some  mixed Salad greens, one red bell pepper ( I like colour in my salad) about 1/4 cup of toasted pecans and gorgonzola cheese. Keep this in the fridge till you are ready to serve and then just drizzle the dressing over it.

Enjoy your salad ! Bon apetito !

Paneer chilli dry.

We were visiting one our friends for a potluck dinner and I was supposed to make a vegetarian starter. I wanted to make something different yet suitable to the Indian palate. I came up with this Paneer ( cottage cheese) dish which is Indo-Chinese and easy to make.

Ingredients-
750gm ( approximate) of Paneer ( found in Indian grocery stores)
1 green pepper,
5-6 small green chillies,
1/2 inch of ginger,
3 cloves of garlic,
2tbsp of all purpose flour,
1tbsp of corn flour,
2tbsp soy sauce,
1tsp of vinegar,
salt

Cut the Paneer into medium sized cubes . Make a batter combining the all purpose flour and corn flour. Dip the paneer into the batter so that they are well coated with it and deep fry them till they are golden brown. Let it cool down on a paper towel which will absorb the excess oil.

Cut the green pepper in long thin slices and the finely chop the ginger, garlic and green chillies. . Heat some oil in a wok and add the ginger-garlic and then the green chillies. Once the oil is infused with the above ingredients add the green pepper and saute on high flame for about a min. Then add the soy sauce and the vinegar, toss in the paneer and saute for another 1 min. Garnish it will spring onions and the dish is ready to serve.

One can make this as a side dish for a chinese dinner or it can be starter before a main course.

Smoky hot Chicken stir-fried with dried red chillies and scallions

Ever since we came back from Beijing we miss eating the authentic Chinese food. I have been experimenting with different chinese ingredients and vegetables found here in the South-east asian grocery stores to get that authentic taste. To my good luck, recently I came across a book in the library by the name ” MY CHINA A feast for all senses” by “Kylie Wong”. This book is not just about recipes but gives an insight of the different regions in China, in short a culinary journey.

There are lot of Vegetarian dishes in this book which I will put up on the blog soon coz many people associate Chinese cooking with only Meats and sea-food. The three basic ingredients in most recipes is “Shao hsing wine” ” brown rice vinegar” “Light soy sauce” and “Sesame oil”. I tried out this Chicken dish and it came out very well.
For this recipe-
600g ( 1 lb 4 0z) Chicken thigh fillets cut into 1cm cubes
2 tbsp cornflour ( I used all purpose flour)
2tbsp Shao hsing wine
10 small dried red chillies
2 tbsp peanut oil ( I used corn coil )
2 in piece ginger cut into thin stripes
1 tbsp brown sugar ( granulated sugar will also do)
2tbsp light soy sauce
1tbsp brown rice vinegar. ( I used rice vinegar found in south -east asian grocery store)
The orginal recipe has green garlic chives but since I didn’t find them I used a bunch of scallions cut into 5cm lengths

Combine the chicken with the cornflour and the Shao hsing wine in a bowl and marinate it for about an hour.
Place oil and chillies in cold wok or pan and then turn heat to low. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes till the chillies begin to darken slightly. Using a slotted spoon remove the chillies and drain on kitchen paper. Now the oil is infused with the chilli flavour. Leave it in the wok and turn the heat upto high and stir fry half of the chicken for about 3minutes till you see it turning a bit brown in colour. Remove it with a slotted spoon. If needed add extra oil to the wok and stir-fry the remaining chicken in the same way. Return all the chicken to the wok along with the ginger and chillies and stir-fry for 1minute. Add sugar and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the brown rice vinegar, soy sauce and scallions ( or garlic chives) and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

The cooking time in Chinese recipes is very less as you must have noticed and they taste better if served immediately. Once you have the ingredients in hand its very easy to make the dishes. This particular dish turned out to be very good, its hot in taste and the scallions added a freshness and colour to it. One can add other veggies like green pepper as well instead of chives or scallions. I hope you all enjoy this one, zai -jian !

Dried shrimps gravy.

This recipe is for Madhavi who commented that she wanted dry shrimp/ prawn gravy recipe. Beware my non-vegetarians friends that this recipe might suit your palates since its an acquired taste but  those who like it , they crave for it .

People along the coastal part of India dry different varieties of fish so that they can last longer. In the process of drying and ? curing the fish gets a pungent smell which can be hard to stand. My mom makes dry fish curries and dried shrimps called “sodey” in my native language is one of my favorites. I found dried shrimps in one of the local South-east asian grocery stores and decided to try it out.

Ingredients-

1 packet of dried shrimps ( roughly about 1 1/ cup) ,
1 large onion,
1 tomato( optional),
2-3 cloves of garlic,
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste,
1 tsp chilli powder,
1/4 tsp turmeric powder,
1 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp.
Salt to taste.

Break the shrimps in to halves and put them in luke warm water for a while so that they become soft. Wash them and keep them aside. Heat up the oil and add crushed garlic. Once the garlic turns brown add the chopped onion and saute well. When the onions turn translucent add the ginger-garlic paste and fry them well till them start turning brown. Add the chopped tomato and saute a bit more. Then add the dried shrimps and saute over a high flame initally. This will reduce the pungent smell. Then add the chilli podwer, turmeric powder and salt. Add some water depending on the consistency of the gravy and tamarind pulp. Cook the shrimps with a lid over a medium flame. This particular dish should have a good balance of spicy and tangy flavour. Once the shrimps are cooked, garnish with fresh coriander and its ready to serve.

It can be served with Rotis ( whole wheat bread) or Rice. I feel it goes best with Bhakris ( bread made of different kinds of flours) and thats how I had it for my dinner.

Sweet dumplings/ Modak

I had mentioned in my earlier post that this week is Food festival week so it was for me :-) Last Sunday was Ganesh Chaturthi one of the Indian festivals and I made a sweet dish called “Modak” which resembles a dumpling but with a sweet filling inside it. In the state of Maharashtra in India, Ganesh Chaturthi ( 4th day after the new moon day according to the Lunar calender) is celebrated with great enthusiasm and modak is synonymous with Lord Ganesha.

To make Modak one has to first prepare the filling.

Ingredients- 2 cup of fresh grated coconut
1 cup of jaggery / sugar. ( I took 3/4 proportion og jaggery and 1/4 of sugar)
Few raisins,
1/4 tsp of cardamom powder.
Saffron ( optional)
Heat up a pan and mix the coconut with the jaggery and stir it over medium flame till the water from the coconut evaporates. Add raisins and cardamom powder to it.
Once the filling is prepared we proceed to make the dough for the modaks. Boil about 2 cups of water , add a little oil and 1/4 tsp of salt to it. Once the water boils add 2 1/2 cups of rice flour to it and stir immediately on a low flame so that the flour forms a lump. Then switch of the flame and cover the vessel with a lid for about a minute or so. While the dough is still hot apply bit of oil on the hands and knead the dough well. Take a small ball of the dough and with the fingers make it like a cup. Keep the rest of the dough covered as it tends to dry up quickly . Add the filling in the centre of the cup and then with your fingers pinch the sides and then gather them together to close the dumpling. When finished it should look like a lotus bud. Once the modaks are steam them and they are ready to eat. Traditionally they are steamed over a base of banana leaf so that they retain the moisture and the covering doesn;t become too dry.

Making modaks by hand is a skill which I haven’t yet mastered thoroughly so some of my modaks don’t look dainty. One can also use a Modak mold so the process is less tedious. I recommend that use a fresh pack of rice flour when you make modaks otherwise the dough tends to break at the edges .

I hope you all enjoy making modaks and if anyone of you has a nice picture do send it to me and I will post it on the blog.

Food Festival Week!

Hi Friends since August is the festival month and Ganesh Utsav is right around the corner, why not make is a food festival  week? I will make something sweet and savoury on that occasion which will be posted on the blog but if you all have something to share please send it to me and it will be on the blog.

One of my friend has started an interesting blog on food which I thought some of you might like it. Its called “http://www.bigsrisfood.com”; We both probably might put some recipes on our blogs which we plan to make on Ganesh Utsav.

For people who are not aware of what Ganesh utsav is here is some information on “- http://www.geocities.com/lordganesh75/utsav.htm

So unleash your culinary talents and “Happy eating”!

Stuffed Banana / Bharli keli

The month of Aug in India is a month of festivals and for me that equates to yummy food. When I was growing up my mother always made special dishes on certain occasions. On Gokulashtami day ( Birth of Lord Krishna according to the Mythological tale) she used to prepare this recipe out of raw bananas. So this year I thought why not try out the same, ofcourse with variations because we don’t get those raw bananas ( rajali keli) in the US. For this recipe I took -

5 ripe Bananas,
1 cup of fresh grated coconut,
1/3 cup of jaggery ,
1/4 tsp Cardamom powder,
1/4 tsp Nutmeg powder,
some raisins,
1tbsp of clarified butter / Ghee.

Cut the Bananas into halves and then slit them but not all the way. To make the stuffing, heat up the pan and add the grated coconut and jaggery and fry it well till the water in the coconut dries up. Add the raisins, nutmeg and cardamom to it. Now stuff the bananas with this taking care that they don’t break. The ripe bananas are very soft and tend to break easily and if they do then tie them up with a thread so that they hold the stuffing well.

Heat up a shallow pan and the clarified butter or ghee, then arrange the bananas in the pan and let them become brown on both the sides. In the original recipe you have to let the bananas cook but since we are using ripe ones don’t cover the pan to cook them. Once the bananas have a nice golden brown colour on both the sides take them off the heat. Some of the stuffing will come out of the bananas and thats acceptable.

This dish can be served either warm or cold. Its quick and easy to make and something quite traditional. I hope you enjoy this recipe.