Kale chips

Ewwww…that is the reaction I get from the husband. But he is over-reacting! How do I know? Because I don’t remember him putting even put one of these in his mouth 😛 Most people I know don’t like kale. I must admit that I’m not super-fond of it either. However, I do enjoy them in this form.

Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale also contains sulforaphane, a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Need I say more about it’s nutritional value?

There are some people who claim that these chips are akin to potato chips. they are L-Y-I-N-G! It is sacrilegious to put potato chips and kale chips in the same category. They are both nice in their own ways. Ever since I start low-carbing, I’ve enjoyed kale chips as a snack. The best part is that they are really simple to make. I hope you take the step towards making these 🙂 Also, you must keep in mind that the more fresh the kale, the better tasting the chips will be.

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale (I get the triple washed packet from Trader Joe’s)

1 tbsp olive oil

salt, pepper and paprika – to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 300F.

If you have the washed and chopped variety of kale, it does take less time to put this together. I simply air dry the already chopped kale from the packet for a little bit before continuing with the rest of the recipe.

If you are buying a whole bunch of kale, make sure you remove the ribs, tear them into bite sized pieces, wash and THOROUGHLY dry them. This step is very important, because even if the kale has an iota of water, you will have soggy kale, no chips!

Once the kale is completely dry, put it in a bowl, drizzle it with olive oil and season it with salt, pepper and paprika.

Lay the leaves on a baking or cookie sheet and bake them until crisp, turning about half way through – approximately 10-20 mins. Every oven is different so make sure to keep an eye on it after about 10 mins. they do have a tendency to burn quickly.

You can serve these as snacks or finger foods. You can store these chips in an airtight container for a few weeks. The chips in the pictures are slightly darker because I had to bake them a second time, they got soft because I failed to notice that my airtight container had lost its seal 😛

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Tofu-mushroom-bell pepper stir fry

I’m not super fond of tofu (I know it’s healthy and all!), but I try coming up with interesting recipes in the hope that I will like one of them (secretly hoping the husband likes tofu too *fingers crossed*) ! While surfing www.foodgawker.com (officially my fave thing to do!) I found this recipe and I thought it was interesting. Finally after making it, since the husband did not complain while eating, I think I have a winner in the tofu section 🙂

Ingredients:

1 pack extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks

10 oyster mushrooms, sliced

4 shiitake mushrooms, stalk removed and sliced

1 tbsp tamari soy sauce (you can also use any other dark soy sauce)

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 cube chicken bouillon (use vegetarian bouillon if you want a completely vegetarian dish)

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

Cooking oil (not olive oil, sesame will do. I used canola.)

Method:

Stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken bouillon, cornstarch, and water in a non-reactive bowl.  Set sauce aside.

Remove tofu from package and try and drain as much water out of it as possible. Cut into ¾ inch chunks.

Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a skillet over high heat. When oil is smoking hot, add the tofu. Panfry, stirring occasionally, until tofu is browned on all sides, about 4-5 mins. Remove the tofu and set aside.

In the skillet add another tbsp of oil and reduce heat to medium-high. Stir-fry the mushrooms until they start to soften, and then add the green bell peppers and minced garlic. Toss the mixture around a few times to cook the peppers, but make sure they’re still crisp, between 30 seconds and 1 min. Add the fried tofu and stir-fry carefully, making sure you don’t break the chunks of tofu, just until heated through, about than 1 minute.

Add the sauce, and stir into the mixture until thick, less than 30 sec. If sauce is too thick, add a little more water and stir it in thoroughly.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Bon Appetit!

Kairi/Mavinakai/kaccha aam aka raw mango

I recently found raw mangoes at the Asian store. In Bombay they call it kairi, in Hindi it’s kaccha aam and in my mother tongue, Kannada, we call it mavinakai. They immediately made me reminisce spring time in India. There would be hawkers selling raw mangoes, tamarind, starfruit, bora berries etc on carts outside school 🙂 I hated fresh bora berries, never found them appealing, but I did somewhat develop a taste for the dried ones, they were tangy and that’s what I liked about them. I’ve found ripe mangoes in the US in almost every season. They are not the best tasting, but I was surprised to see them available year round. In India, ripe mangoes are available only during the summer. Needless to say raw mangoes are available in spring and late winter.  I love mangoes – raw or ripe!! I sorely miss the Alphonso mangoes also known as the king of mangoes. I have begged my parents to bring some, but they never do since the mangoes won’t pass through customs 😦

But anyways, back to my tryst with raw mangoes at the Asian store – my eyes lit up when I saw them and I picked up a few. I was very keen on making panha (sweet raw mango drink). I already made one batch, and the second one is underway. I’ll post the recipe of whichever one tastes better 🙂 The advantage of living in a cosmopolitan city like Bombay was being able to sample food from all over India. Panha is primarily a Maharashtrian drink. I also know of Gujaratis making panha, so maybe it’s a common drink in the West in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

After using up most of the mangoes, I had one left. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do with that one mango. Chop it up, sprinkle it with salt and chili powder and savor it 😀 That’s how the hawkers on the street would offer it. Tamarind, mangoes and starfruit sprinkled with salt and chili powder and probably some other secret ingredient that made those acidic and tangy fruits taste heavenly! I finished eating the pieces just before I started writing this post. My lips are still burning, after all I used the ‘extra-hot’ chili powder that I found in the Indian store. I have a propensity and high tolerance for heat. But I should probably use regular chili powder or cayenne pepper next time. It’s going to take a while for my lips to cool down 😉

Fish pakoda and kumquat salsa

I know, I know….it’s been very long since I posted a recipe. If you have as many deadlines and ‘things-to-do’ lists as I have, you would probably be posting sporadically as well 😛

Jokes apart, I had to post a recipe to get my mind off of everything that is going on. I have been working on too many word documents, and I simply had to work on something else! So here is what I made for dinner today. I knew before I started that I was taking a risk with the combination I was making. However, it turned out really well and both the dishes complimented each other. Even though one of the dishes has Indian flavors and the other one does not, they still go along really well! I had never used or even eaten kumquats before so that was completely new too. Now that I know what they taste like I will be buying them more often! I wish they weren’t as expensive though. For those who are not familiar with the fruit, kumquats are little citrus fruits, almost like oranges, but these can be eaten whole, skin and all.  The kumquat salsa was inspired from this recipe.

I have been waiting to make fish pakodas for a really long time. The one thing that kept hindering me from it was the fact that the pakodas have to be deep fried. While it does not really clash with the low-carb diet I have been following, I still wanted to be cooking low calorie food, for hubby’s sake, if not mine!! But I did give into temptation today and as a result of that here is a posting 😉

Without further ado here is the recipe for fish pakoda (fritters) and kumquat salsa.

Kumquat Salsa

Ingredients:

1 cup washed, dried sliced kumquats

1/2 chopped red onion

large fistful of cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

cayenne pepper – to taste

red chilli flakes –  a sprinkling

1/2 tsp powdered cumin

1/2 tsp coriander powder

kosher salt – to taste

Method:

Combine all the ingredients. Adjust spices and salt to taste. Let the salsa sit for a while as you make the pakodas so that the flavors blend.

Fish Pakodas

1 lb meaty fish (I used mahi mahi, you can use tuna, swordfish, or any other fish) – cut into chunks

1 1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour), sifted

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp powdered cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper powder

1 tsp baking powder

a pinch of carom seeds (ajwain)

1 green chilli pepper

1 heaped tsp dried mint

a fistful of cilantro leaves

2 tbspns lemon juice

salt – to taste

water – to make a batter

oil – for deep frying

Method:

In a non-reactive mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Crush the carom seeds between the palms of your hands as you put it in.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix again.

Gradually add enough water to make a smooth lump free batter.  The consistency should not be very runny or too thick, it should be of dropping consistency.

Add the fish chunks into the batter and set it aside for 30 mins.

After fish has been sitting for a while, heat oil on medium heat until it is hot, but not smoking. The temperature of the oil is important so that the fish is cooked and yet not burnt. Medium heat is essential, and at the same time it should be hot enough before you drop in the fish.

Slowly add the fish chunks separately, making sure that they don’t overlap.

Turn them once or a few times until they look golden brown.  Remove them onto absorbent paper and serve hot with kumquat salsa and tomato ketchup.

Bon Appetit!

Nan khatai

Happy New Year everyone! I know that I am really behind on updating this blog. I didn’t want to start the year by rushing things, so I thought I’d take it slow. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We traveled to the Northeast and took in the beauty as we drove up there. It was good to catch up with friends and share the joy of the birth of Christ with them.

Since we weren’t home for Christmas, I didn’t make any traditional “thindi” (snacks) we traditionally make for Christmas. After we got back from our trip, however, I decided to make at least one thing. I decided to try out some nan khatai. They are the Indian version of shortbread cookies. They even taste similar.

Here’s the recipe –

Ingredients:

Self-rising flour – 1 cup

Powdered sugar – 1/2 cup

Unsalted butter – 1 stick, room temperature

Nutmeg powder – 1/4 tsp

Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

Method:

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until well combined. You can use an electric mixer or you can use your hands.

Add the nutmeg powder and cardamom powder and mix well.

Slowly incorporate the self rising flour, little by little, until the mixture forms a soft dough.

Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it rest for 15-20 mins.

Knead the dough once again and divide it into 12 equal portions.

Pat each portion into a smooth circle with no cracks. The circle with be about 1/4 inch thick. Be careful not be make it too large and thin (I made that mistake and the cookies browned a little by the time they were cooked).

Place the cookies on a cookie sheet that is lined. Leave enough space between the cookies because they will expand while baking.

Bake them on the middle rack for about 20-25 mins. Make sure they don’t brown too much, they should maintain the color.

Remove from the oven and let them cool before storing them in an airtight container.

Enjoy! These scrumptious nan khatais were gone in a few days.

Khakhra

I love snacks of all kinds, but I try eating fruits instead so that I can stick to my diet. The husband, however, will hear none of that. He’d rather eat and follow it with exercise than show restraint 😛 Recently on my trip to India I went to Baroda to visit my grandma. While I was there my aunt bought me many Gujarati snacks. The Gujarati community is famous for its snack items. C and I enjoyed the khakhra, thepla, and other farsan..until they got over. After my khakhra eating episode I decided to make some of my own to see if it even came close. And I am proud to say that my husband gobbled the home made khakhras up 🙂 It is a little time consuming to make, so make sure you have enough time before making this yummy snack. The recipe makes about 6-8 large khakhras. The number of khakhras will untilmately depend on how thin you can roll them out!

Ingredients:

Whole wheat flour – 1 cup

Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – 1 tsp.

Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp.

Haldi (turmeric) – 1/2 tsp

Ajwain/oma (carom seeds) – a pinch

Salt – to taste

Oil – 1 tbsp to knead and more if reqd. to roast

Method:

Put whole wheat flour in a large bowl. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder and salt to it. Crush the kasuri methi between your palms and add them along with the carom seeds to the dry mixture. Go easy on the kasuri methi. You want the flavor to permeate the dough, but too much will make the dough bitter.

Add water to the bowl, a little at a time to make a fairly stiff dough. Add the tbsp of oil and knead it well.

Keep the dough aside for 10-15 mins.

Divide the dough into 6-8 equal sized balls and roll each one out paper thin on the rolling board. Using a stone surface might work better than a wooden one.

Apply a little bit of oil to the rolling surface before rolling out the dough. The thinner the khakhra is the better it will be. The oil makes the process easier.

After rolling it out, roast the raw khakhra on a nonstick pan or tawa on low-medium heat. You can add oil while doing this if you want. I kept it to a minimum. But, the oiled ones did taste better 🙂

The temperature is very important so that the khakhra cooks equally and becomes crisp.

When you see bubbles forming on the khakhra, press them down with a cloth or paper towel. Press the entire surface of each side of the khakhra as it cooks. Ultimately the khakhra is ready when the surface is golden brown and crisp.

Enjoy! I know my khakhras don’t have the prettiest shape, but the taste was pretty good 🙂 If you try the recipe please let me know how it turns out and provide feedback!

Spicy tofu

The past few weeks have been quite ‘busy’…I hate the word, but tend to use it a lot! Busyness in life makes me stressed. For the most part I am a laid back Type B personality. As much as I love rushing around getting things done, I do not enjoy the pressure that comes with it. When I am stressed I also cook…a LOT…so that’s good for the blog 🙂

I have been trying to follow some recipes I had requested from my mom and my MIL. They include spicy pork curry and roast beef. I did try all of them, but forgot to take pictures 😛 I will be trying them again soon, with a new twist. When I do, I promise to post the recipe and the pictures. I also tried lemon bars for the very first time and they turned out great!

A few weeks ago, I was on an Asian food roll. Here’s the recipe for spicy tofu that we had.

Ingredients:

1 pound extra firm tofu (cubed)

1 red onion, sliced

1 red green pepper, sliced

1 serrano pepper

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup water

3 tbsps vinegar

3 tbsps soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp red pepper powder

2 tbsps canola oil

Method:

Pat the tofu with kitchen towels, removing as much water as you can before you cube it.

Heat oil in a large pan or wok on medium high. Add cubed tofu and fry until golden brown.

After the tofu is browned, add sliced onion, bell pepper, serrano pepper and garlic. Toss it until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 mins.

In a different bowl combine the water, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch and red pepper powder.  Pour over tofu and vegetables to coat. Simmer everything together until the sauce thickens.

Serve either with rice or vermicelli

Bon Appetit!

 

Quinoa salad

I mostly peruse through recipes online when I’m cooking something new. That has changed a little bit in the past week. Ever since I got my membership at the local library, I’ve been using it to bring lots of low-carb recipe books home 🙂 However the recipe I followed for this lentil quinoa salad is from here.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cups water, plus 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (the one we use for sandwiches)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tbspns olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tbspns lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • A handful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Method:
Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a large microwave-proof bowl with a cover, add the rinsed quinoa and 1 1/4 cups water. Cover and microwave on high for 9 minutes. Let it sit for 2 minutes then stir. Quinoa should be tender enough to eat, but not mushy.
Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a saucepan, simmer the lentils in 2 cups water until the lentils are tender, but not mushy. This will only take a few minutes, if you are using other lentils, it might take longer. Drain and cool.
In a small bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar together, and drizzle in the oil as you continue whisking. Add the garlic powder, lime juice, salt, and pepper, to taste.
Assemble the salad by mixing the quinoa, lentils, green onions, and chopped cilantro. Top the salad with the dressing, toss to coat and serve.
Enjoy!!

Grilled eggplant and quinoa salad

In my quest to eat low-carb food I have been reading a lot and definitely changing the way the husband and I eat. One change that we had made even before this whole lifestyle change was shopping for organic foods. 90% of our dairy, vegetables and meat are now organic.

The past week we visited our favorite people in CT while we were there for a wedding. K told me that she has now been eating more vegan/vegetarian food. She represents what I would like to be – a flexitarian, eating a more plant-based diet rather than an animal-based diet.

I also told a friend of mine that I can follow a diet as long as it tastes good, so I am on a mission to cook good tasting low-carb food 🙂 My first foray into it was cooking a vegetarian meal without bread, flour and sugar. I chose to grill eggplant that K had given me. It was grown by her next-door neighbor. I made a quinoa salad as a side dish. I adapted both recipes from ones I found online here and here. This was a really great and quick dinner! I’ll post the quinoa salad recipe soon.

Grilled eggplant-

Ingredients:

1 large globe eggplant
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 mashed garlic cloves
1 tsp paprika (add some cayenne if you want it hotter)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Peel stripes of skin off the eggplant to create a zebra pattern of skin and no-skin. It makes it easier to eat. Slice eggplant into ½ inch thick circles.
  2. Sprinkle eggplant generously with salt on both sides and lay them in a colander. The eggplant will release some liquid. This will help get rid of bitterness and make the eggplant less watery after it’s cooked. After letting it sit for 15 minutes dry both sides well with paper towels.
  3. In a large bowl, mix honey, olive oil, garlic, chili, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Dunk both sides of each eggplant slice into this marinade.
  4. Preheat the grill to high (I use a stove top grill). Oil the grill.
  5. Place the eggplant slices on the grill and turn down the heat to medium-high. Grill until marked, about 3 minutes. Turn 90 degrees to make cross-hatch grill marks. Grill until marked, about 3 more minutes.
  6. Brush the slices with remaining marinade, flip and repeat the grilling procedure on the other side. Regulate heat so that the eggplant is browning, but not burning. Remove to a plate, and enjoy!

Stir fried soba noodles with lemon-ginger dressing

While I have always been fond of cooking, I started following recipe blogs only in the past 3 years. Mainly it was because I left all my recipe books at home in Bombay. But, ever since I discovered these blogs I have rarely felt the need to go look for a recipe in a book. Partly it’s because I know that the recipes in these blogs are made in a regular kitchen just like mine, as opposed to a hoity-toity chef’s kitchen 😛 Secondly, they are tested and tried recipes so I know that there is a lower chance of failing while trying them 😀

In my quest to eat healthy and to be on a low GI diet, I came across soba noodles, or buckwheat noodles. They are always available at Asian stores and are different from the regular noodles. Since they are, for lack of a better word, unique, in taste, I only made them once in a blue moon using ground meat or with beef and broccoli. Then I came across a blog that contains primarily Asian recipes. I rarely have all the ingredients available in my pantry, but when I do, I make it a point to try out recipes from the Steamy Kitchen.

Jaden Hair has done a fabulous job with her blog and I enjoy trying recipes from there. She also dabbles in a lot of fusion food, something that I enjoy doing too. So, here’s how I modified her tofu and soba noodles recipe:

Ingredients:

For the dressing –

Ginger, 1 inch, peeled and grated

1 tbsp. honey

1/2-1 tsp. chilli powder (or cayenne)

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

For the noodles –

Soba noodles – 3 bunches (they are normally packed in separate bunches in one packet)

1 tbsp. cooking oil (either olive or sesame oil)

1-1/2 assorted bell peppers, sliced (I use red, yellow and green, just because the end result looks colorful!)

Mushrooms – 1 small pkt, 6-8 oz.

Browned sesame seeds (optional)

Method:

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients except for the oils in a blender (hand blender is more convenient and easy to clean!) Run the blender for a few seconds, until all ingredients are combined. With the machine running, pour in the oils. Adjust the chilli powder to taste, we have ended up with really spicy noodles a few times 😛

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles until just tender, then drain.

While the noodles are cooking, heat a nonstick frying pan over medium high heat and when hot, pour in the cooking oil. Add the sliced bell peppers and sear them for a few minutes. Add the mushroom and stir fry together for another minute or two, until the mushroom looks cooked (make sure it isn’t over cooked). It’s important to have the heat on high while adding the mushroom. Toss gently and turn off the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba with the dressing, vegetables and the sesame seeds. Toss until well combined.

Enjoy 🙂

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