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!

 

Asian pan seared tuna with peanutty soba noodles

So it’s been really long. Part of the delay was because I took a surprise trip to India. It was my grandfather’s 90th birthday and since no one else in my family has reached that milestone I thought it was important for me to be there to celebrate as he stepped into a brand new year. While I was in India my low GI/low carb diet went for a royal toss….I was eating rice for lunch and dinner and lots of other sweets. Since I got back a few days ago I am trying to get back on track. I must admit that the task was made more difficult since there was hardly anything left in my fridge 😛

I did have some Albacore tuna from Trader Joe’s in the freezer. I defrosted it and thought I would try an Asian twist with some soba noodles on the side. End result – an absolutely lip smacking tuna that I am definitely trying again! I must admit that the pictures in this post don’t look very good. I had forgotten to take pictures so I took some pictures after I had taken a bite out of it 😛 While I am at it I should give due credit to the recipes that inspired me. The pan seared tuna was inspired from here and the soba noodles from here.

Ingredients:

2 (6-8 ounce) Albacore tuna steaks (3/4 of an inch to an inch thick)

1 tbsp dark sesame oil

1 tbsp chili oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp lime juice

2 tbsp sesame seeds (for coating)

Method:

Mix the marinade ingredients and coat the tuna steaks with it. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

Heat a nonstick skillet on medium-high to high heat. When the skillet is hot, remove the tuna steaks and coat them with sesame seeds. Pan sear them for 3-4 mins on each side (or less if you want your tuna medium-rare or less).

Remove from pan and serve with soba noodles. Following is the recipe for the peanutty soba noodles

Ingredients:

2 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp water

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

Ground red chili powder – to taste

2 ounces cooked soba noodles

1/2 cup julienned carrots

1 green onion, thinly sliced

Method:

Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, water, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil and ground red chili powder.

Toss cooked soba noodles with the carrots and green onion.

Add sauce and combine to coat everything.

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. It is really good for a quick weekday dinner if you keep everything ready and simply toss it together.

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!

Low carb diet!

I know that I have not blogged in a while. Part of that is because I have been travelling. 2 conferences in one month. The experience was new and enriching. Sometimes I think I love my life so much that I will have trouble transitioning to a full time job! However, the life of a grad student is also inundated with stress. I’m at the proposal editing stage right now. To add to that the TX-DC commute is causing much stress in my life. It’s unsettling to be in constant limbo.

On another note, I had my regular check up. I have also been reading a LOT about hypothyroidism and insulin resistance. I am making a little bit of progress but I need to be making much much more. Outwardly, I feel fit and fine, but inwardly my system is a messed up and the only thing to show for that physically is my weight gain 😦 I am determined however to lose this weight. At least now I know why I wasn’t losing as much weight despite exercise! I am going to have to give up a lot of things that I love to eat *very sad*. However, I can still continue eating meat, fish and seafood. I am so so thankful for that. I need to be on a high protein and low carb diet.

Things that I won’t be eating in the near future include rice, flour, bread, potatoes, sugar, white wine and bananas. The only things that make me sad on this list are rice, sugar and potatoes. The rest I don’t care for so much. I think I can live without eating bread. I am hoping that after a few months I can use whole wheat flour to make rotis and have that when I cook an Indian meal. I love desserts so I am going to have to eat a lot of fruit to compensate for that 😦 And rice, that is a staple. There are some things you cannot eat WITHOUT rice *hint-curry*! Sigh. This transition is going to be difficult, but I am willing to stick with it if it means that I will be healthier and take care of the body that God has given me. I am hoping that my blood work will tell a different story after I have stuck to this diet and exercised. More importantly, I am hoping that in the long term I will be able to eat at least a few servings of rice and dessert a week 🙂

Easy-peasy key lime pie

Since I was cheating on my diet anyway, I decided to make a key lime pie as well. This is a real easy recipe that can be made quickly. It’s especially easy when you have guests over 🙂

Ingredients:

4 egg yolks

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup key lime juice

3/4 cup cold heavy cream

9 inch prepared graham cracker crust

Method:

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the crust in the oven until it preheats, about 5-10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, beat the egg yolks in a bowl with the condensed milk, and cream. Whisk in the lime juice a little at a time to thicken the custard. Pour the custard into the pie crust and return to the oven.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes to help the custard begin to set. Cool to room temperature before covering loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.

Our trip to Springfield butcher

A few months ago I was on a “buy groupon” roll! While high on this roll I bought a groupon to the Springfield butcher. It was a $13 groupon valued for goods worth $26. We went to redeem it today and while the items seemed a little pricey, I think it definitely beats the frozen meats available in the regular grocery store! Clive and I had no particular plans for lunch, so we thought we’d buy something that we could cook for lunch and also a few other things that we could freeze. We ended up buying venison kabobs, lamb cutlets and cajun sausages! I froze the sausages, but we had half a cutlet and the kabobs for lunch. You could definitely taste the FRESH meat. I miss eating fresh meat and am totally fed up with frozen stuff. Overall, Yum!! I’m definitely going back again 🙂 I might be waiting for the next groupon to come by though….

Tiramisu

I made tiramisu this past week in time for my birthday 🙂 I’d never made it before so I thought I’d try it out. I try not to make desserts on a regular basis simply because it’s so high in calories, but I thought it was OK to cheat on the diet for my birthday 🙂 After all it just comes once a year, right? Since I had no trusted recipe, I decided to go out on a limb and try one posted on Allrecipes. I omitted the liquer, but kept everything else – the mascarpone cheese and the ladyfingers are a must. It actually turned out pretty well. To top it, it isn’t very complicated either. No more buying tiramisu from the store now 🙂

One VERY important caveat to keep in mind is that the tiramisu needs to be kept in the fridge for at least 24 hours so that the flavors can marinate and seep in. If you eat it the same day, it doesn’t taste good. In fact, it doesn’t taste good at all. And the effort and money spent to make it seems like a waste. It’s best to make it a day or two before you have to eat it.

Ingredients:

3 egg yolks

2/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature

24 soft ladyfinger cookies

1/2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

Method:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils.

Turn the heat to medium-low. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

While the custard is chilling, keep a medium bowl and the beaters in the freezer. Remove the utensils from the freezer after an hour.

Beat the cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Keep it aside.

Whisk the mascarpone cheese into the custard mixture until smooth.

Put the coffee in a tall coffee cup. The next step is to soak the ladyfingers in coffee. I’ve heard that there are two kinds of ladyfingers available in the market. I found the soft ones and so used those. If you find the hard cookies, you might want to figure out how to soak the cookies. They should not get too soggy, that’s the tricky part. What I did was to quickly dunk the cookies in lengthwise and then turn them over upside down so that the coffee completely covered the cookie. If at all I felt it was too soggy, I carefully squeezed the coffee out. Be very careful in this step. I also found that it was easy to lay the cookies in the dish you want to use and then brush coffee over the cookies. It’s actually much, much easier and I will be using this strategy the next time I make tiramisu (which will not be any time before Christmas 🙂

Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a 7×4 inch dish. Make sure you use a dish with higher edges. Mine was about 1.5 inches high and it was quite a task to try and put in two layers. Spread half of the mascarpone custard mixture over the ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set.

I had a little more left after filling up the rectangular dish. I actually arranged  whatever was left in another little 3-4 inch bowl. While doing this I mixed the mascarpone mixture with the whipped cream and continued to layer it with the coffee-soaked ladyfinger cookies. While there were just two layers in this bowl, it was much easier, faster and in my opinion, tastier!

I should have taken the pictures before I proceeded to cut it 😦 I know it doesn’t look very pretty, but the taste was heavenly 🙂

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 🙂

« Older entries Newer entries »