All posts by Zeba@Food For The Soul

My life was nourished and nurtured in the beautiful vale of Kashmir painted with mountains, lakes, running streams and meadows that know no end. Now in another beautiful part of the world in the US, I cook for the love of good healthy food…that feeds the soul. I recreate recipes that shaped my history and culture. For the love of discovering life and all things that speak to you and urge you on to evolve, touches your soul and make your journey through life a fulfilling experience.

Ladakh in Photos 2016

Ladakh (“land of high passes”) is a region Jammu and Kashmir, Indiain the area known as the Trans-Himalaya. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet.

A trip to God’s country….so much peace and beauty that it boggles your mind. I don’t have a lot of words for these pictures as they speak for themselves.

The trip was from Srinagar by road via Kargil to Leh and them Pangong Tso lake. We flew back to Srinagar

Jaw dropping landscape everywhere you look…the people the culture just melts your soul.

Enjoy!

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Continue reading Ladakh in Photos 2016

Meatballs with Eggplant puree and Radish pesto

After a hectic week I unwind with experimentation of ingredients and spices. Weekends that have nothing to do with my technology work are a way to meditate, unwind and reconnect with living a simple life with natural clean organic cooking.

IAS_0627The weekend is always a time for me to center my energy. Some music, some reading , some quality grounded time with my soul mate and some poetry. Here is my Rumi inspiration from the weekend

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

 

——Rumi

With some ground lamb  and free range turkey from the local market I found flavors that yet again favor Mediterranean and Indian spices. My food always needs to be kicked up with some tang and some spice 🙂

For vegetarians, this can totally be made with veggie or lentil meatballs – try black lentils and zucchini.

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Summer is also a time to play with you dips and chutney. The beautiful red radishes sprouted in my garden and are a base for this amazing pesto.

IMG_6112Ah and the bread, the bread. So the very creative and inspiring Suzanne posted this pita recipe promising it to be super easy. And easy it was!!  I have made it twice already. Thanks Suzanne 🙂 Please do check out her blog and the recipe here.

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  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

a true fusion dish with lebanese and indian flavors

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1/2 lb lamb
  • 1/2  ln turkey
  • Combine the minced lamb and turkey
  • Add 1 tsp pink salt
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2  tablespoon gluten free pancake mix ( secret ingredient)
  • 2 tablespoons of mustard oil ( or olive oil)

Eggplant puree

  • 3 Japanese eggplant
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 4 cloves whole garlic
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • Himalayan salt to taste

Radish Almond pesto

  • 2 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 5 fresh red radish with leaves
  • Handful of chives
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup soaked and peeled almonds
  • 1 cup walnut or olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Grated peel of 1 lime.

Directions

Meatballs

  • Combine the lamb and turkey and mix in the onion and ground spices with your hands. Add the oil, pancake mix and crack in the egg. Combine well.
  • With wet hands make the meatballs the size of golf balls and line them on a baking tray
  • Bake at 375 F for 20-25 mins. Remove from oven and set aside

Eggplant puree

  • Roast the eggplant over an open fire or on a broiler setting in your over until it is charred and the skin breaks.
  • Let is sit for a few minutes and remove the charred skin by hand collecting the pulp in a bowl
  • In a pan add butter or oil on medium heat and add the garlic and green chili.
  • In about 1 minute add the cumin and let the spices roast for about 2 minutes
  • Add the eggplant pulp and sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add chopped cilantro and remove from heat.
  • Blend this with the tahini and add any additional water needed to make a paste.
  • Set aside

Pesto

  • Blend the ingredients together with salt to taste and set aside

Plating

  • In a large plate, spread the eggplant puree and top it with the meatballs
  • Pour the pesto and some extra glugs of olive oil
  • I topped it with chives, my homemade Hibiscus spice mix with a side of Pita and some extra pesto

For the perfect Pita recipe, check out my friend Suzanne’s blog.

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I am bringing this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday. Co hosts this week are Monika, Everyday Healthy Recipes, and Juhls, The Not So Creative Cook.

Hibiscus Spice Mix

Hot spice mixes and sauce are just the thing for me…a jar of a hot spice mix is a start to many a delectable dishes. My spice closet ( yes closet!) overflows with amazing varieties from all over the world. I try and make a concoctions over the weekend that can be used in meat or vegetarian dishes or jus as a spice dip.

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My first time using Jamaican dried hibiscus flowers in a dry mix. Just amazing!!!

So with my Indian roots this mix had to be spicy so some good old fashioned dry red chilies did the trick.

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I had dried tomatoes from my harvest last year and was grateful to use them in this dish. They were dried and frozen at the end of the season

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Make sure you roast all the ingredients slowly on a low flame and not burn them. This will be perfect sprinkled over anything or add some hot water and glugs of olive oil to make a paste.

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  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2-3 whole star anise
  • 10 whole dried red chilies
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 7-8 dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 ½ tablespoon paprika 
  • A handful of dried tomatoes
  • 1tsp dried Lemon peel
  • Pink salt to taste

On a heavy bottomed on medium heat add red chilies, coriander, cumin seeds, whole star anise, garlic cloves and hibiscus until you start to smell the aromas. Use a wooden spoon to move them around to toast evenly.

Take off the heat and let the spices cool.

Add the rest of the ingredients and start blending in a spice grinder.

Serve sprinkled over anything (try breakfast boiled eggs ;)) or make a dip with olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of hot water.

Tagine: Chicken and Zucchini

Moroccan flavors favor the spices used in Indian cooking like coriander, saffron  and cumin. I love these aromatic spices and the heavenly aroma.  I own a beautiful clay tagine bought from a friend who carried it from Morocco,  It makes such a beautiful presentation and keeps the dish juicy and moist.

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A tajine or tagine is a Maghrebi dish which is named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. The pot has a unique  conical shape which helps make your dish moist by letting the steam rise, condense and trickle back down into the shallow base.

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I used my tagine right on the burner but have experimented with putting it directly in the oven at 300 degree F. Of course then you can’t see the beautiful pot simmering on your stove 🙂

 

The spices are simple, ground coriander, cumin, cayenne and some ras-el-hanout if you have it.

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Onions are a must in a tagine using them as a bed for the chicken. I have used organic chicken breasts here but bone-in chicken would be more moist.

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If you don’t have the preserved lemons, you can skip them. The marinated olive gives this dish enough tanginess.

 

Tagine: Chicken and Zucchini

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a beautiful spring inspired quinoa salad

Ingredients

  • 3 organic free range chicken breasts ( or 6 chicken thighs)
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly slicedIAS_0269
  • 2 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp fresh ground ginger
  • ½ tsp saffron, bloomed in a little warm water
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ras-el-hanout
  • 2 Green Zucchini cut in rounds
  • 2 small preserved lemons
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 5-7 Whole green olives in and couple of tablespoons of the juice
  • Pink salt

Directions

  • Marinate the chicken breasts for a couple of hours in 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp fennel powder, 1 tsp garlic and salt.
  • Heat the tagine shallow bowl on low/medium heat.
  • Add 2 tbsp oil and then the onions. Let the onions sweat for about 5 mins.
  • Add the crushed garlic and ginger and then add the chicken breast and brown them 5 mins on each side.
  • Add the remaining spices ( cumin, coriander, fennel, ras-el-hanout, saffron)
  • Add Olives and olive juice, and coarsely chopped pulp of one preserved lemon and the rind of both, cut into slivers.
  • Add cut zucchini
  • It should be moist enough that no additional water is needed.
  • Cover  with the dome and let it cook at low for 1 hr.
  • Serve sprinkled with parsley with a side of rice or bread
  • This is perfect for a weekend dinner party

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I am taking this to  Fiesta Friday #172  with Angie and our cohosts  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living

Quinoa Walnut Salad with Wasabi Dressing

Spring? Summer? Not sure what’s going on with the weather in Virginia but in spite of the incessant rain, the green trees and foliage lends a spark to life.

We have vegetables, herbs and trees we are planting and it is all very uplifting for our own being and the life of this planet.

This salad needs no recipe but here it is…. You should adjust the ingredients to your taste.

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The base ingredients are cooked quinoa, chopped cucumbers, chopped walnuts, cranberries, lots of chopped parsley, chopped mint and some arugula. You can really add and subtract what you like but keep some crunch( cucumbers), some carbs( quinoa), some  good fats ( walnuts)  and some sweetness ( cranberries).

I cooked the quinoa in a rice cooker with the setting of white rice. Please use any method that works for you.

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The dressing is another story. I love wasabi and found this dried powder version I am able to use in dressings. It has just the right amount of sharpness. The truffle oil adds an earthy dimension that will leave you craving for more.

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Quinoa Walnut Salad with Wasabi Dressing

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a beautiful spring inspired quinoa salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped chopped organic cucumbers
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup arugula

Dressing

  • 1 tsp wasabi powder
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons truffle oil
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • Pink salt  and black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Mix the salad ingredients together in a large bowl
  • Whip the dressing together and adjust the seasoning
  • Pour over the salad, toss and serve

I am taking this to  Fiesta Friday #170,  with Angie and our co-hosts Monika and Sue.

I have also shared this with CookBlogShare hosted  by Hijacked by Twins

saffron infused lamb meatballs and cabbage

This is a true fusion dish blending the flavors of Kashmir with Persian cooking. The fennel and dried ginger in the meatballs is so delicate yet intense. Good minced lamb is best but you can use any combination of lamb, beef and veal. I added a 1/2 amount ground turkey to make it lighter but you can make it all lamb.

Persian cooking gives us Kalam Polo which is a hearty meal made with white cabbage, beef meatballs and rice.  I have been inspired by this and the spices used in Kashmiri cuisine to make this dish.

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For readers who follow my blog you know I love saffron and often think of the fields in Kashmir that grow this beautifully purple flower harvested just within a few weeks for its incredible color and flavor. Check out Kashmir Box if you need to buy this right from the fields.

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Use white cabbage in this dish to absorb the golden saffron color, you will not miss the rice so this version is carb free. Cut the cabbage finely so it cooks quickly and evenly. The turmeric and saffron with give it the beautiful color and flavor.

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saffron infused lamb meatballs and cabbage

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a fusion dish inspired by kashmiri and persian cooking

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1/2 lb lamb
  • 1/2  lb turkey
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp hing ( asafetida)
  • 1 small onion grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of mustard oil ( or olive oil)
  • Pink Salt to taste

Cabbage

  • 1/2  head of white cabbage thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp saffron blooming in a tablespoon of hot water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons of mustard oil ( or olive oil)
  • Chopped Parsley and Mint for garnish
  • Pink salt to taste

Directions

  • Squeeze the water out of the grated onion through a muslin cloth or a colander
  • Combine the lamb and turkey and mix in the onion and ground spices with your hands. Add the oil and crack in the egg. Combine well.
  • With wet hands make the meatballs the size of golf balls and line them on a baking tray
  • Bake at 375 F for 20-25 mins. Remove from oven and set aside
  • In a pan, add 2 tbsp of mustard oil. Let it get to smoking hot temperature.
  • Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes until they barely get brown.
  • Add the cabbage and cook for about 10 mins until tender
  • Add the blooming saffron and the turmeric and continue to cook for 5 mins.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Add the meatballs and combine until heated through.
  • Garnish with chopped Parsley and Mint

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Sharing this at the fiesta at Angie’s with co-hosts Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Elaine @ Foodbod

Coconut Orange Cake

The beauty of a simple cake sweet and infused with grated orange peels and coconut. This recipe is perfect for a sunny weekend afternoon which I spent making this with my teenage daughter.

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This cake speaks to you with its simplicity and yet complex flavors. Use a organic whole fat coconut milk, really good grass fed butter and home dried orange peel and it will amplify the flavors. Butter can be softened at room temperature or a few seconds in the microwave. I much prefer the room temperature approach

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I personally don’t have much of a sweet tooth ( and therefore less sugary recipes on my blog :() but making this for my family is always a labor of pure love.

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You can frost this cake with whipped cream or coconut cream cheese frosting. I kept it simple and naked to its own glory. A dollop of fresh cream on the side will add the minimal right touch.

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Coconut Orange Cake

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

The beauty of a simple cake sweet and infused with grated orange peels and coconute

Ingredients

  • 2 cups organic cake flour ( Trader Joes)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut flakes ( unsweetened)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  •  ½ teaspoons kosher salt1 cup
  • 1 cup/1 can whole coconut milk
  • 1 stick of organic grass fed butter ( softened)
  • 1 1/2 cups organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 3/4 tsp ground orange peel
  • 3 large eggs

Directions

  • In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat sugar and butter on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each egg until well incorporated before adding the next one.
  • Add coconut milk, vanilla and orange extracts and beat for 2 more minutes.
  • The mixture should be pale and fluffy
  • Mix flour, baking powder, salt and coconut  in a bowl.
  • Add the dry ingredient in small increments to the wet ingredient and continue to blend with the mixer.
  • Using a 9 inch cake pan, grease with butter and dust with flour.
  • Pour the cake batter in the pan and bake at 350 for 45-50 mins until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Dust some fine sugar on the cake and serve with coconut flakes, whipped cream and berries or with orange slices.

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This cake is at the  Fiesta Friday #166 table withAngie and co-hosted by Mollie and Ginger.

Also sharing at