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.

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
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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

Coconut Flour Tostadas with Cilantro Steak

Spicy tangy flavors seem to make everything better for me….the sense of the spice, the heat and the sour is a dance on the taste buds.

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In a quest to make gluten free tostadas I have experimented with flours quite a bit which have resulted in as many fails as successes. A combination of coconut flour with some almond flour added in seems to hold it’s own for me. I have seen people add xanthan gum so the dough becomes pliable but I did not have any so went without.

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There are layers of flavors in this recipe.

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With the dough in place, I started with grated beets and carrots and marinated them with lemon juice and salt for 5 mins.

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The steak is grass fed organic and turns out just amazing

The Cilantro sauce is a staple in my kitchen and I have used it as a marinade and topping. You can find the recipe below and another version here.

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CilantroChutney-5702Now to the fermented red cabbage….just delicious and so good for you. This add the right amount of tanginess and crunch.

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This dish is topped with fresh watercress and a sprinkle of goat cheese.

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Coconut Flour Tostadas with Cilantro Steak

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a gluten free tostada layered with steak and fermented vegetables

Ingredients

Tostadas

  • 1 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Cold water for the dough

Beet and carrot salad

  • 1 beet and 1 carrot – grated
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • Pink salt

Steak

  • 1-2 portions of organic grass fed steak

Cilantro Sauce

  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro ( 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 serrano chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Watercress leaves and goat cheese for garnish

Cabbage Pickle: Recipe can be found here

Directions

  • Blend the ingredients for the Cilantro sauce adjusting the salt to taste
  • Marinate the steak in the cilantro sauce for an hour or overnight if you have the time.
  • Combine the ingredients for the beet and carrot salad and set aside
  • For the tostadas, combine the flour, oil salt, pepper and eggs. Add water in small increments, just enough for the dough to come together. It will be crumbly.
  • Using a tortilla press between plastic wrap, press the tostadas out gently. You have to be careful as the dough is crumbly with the gluten and it may take a couple of tries.
  • Pan fry in olive oil until both sides are browned.
  • Grill the steak, 5 mins on each side and let it rest for 5 mins. Slice in  2 inch pieces.
  • Using the tostadas as a base, top with the beet mixture, steak pieces, red cabbage pickle, cilantro sauce and watercress
  • Top with goat cheese or any other cheese you prefer.
  • Serve with a side of the cilantro sauce.

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Jhuls is the solo cohost this week at Fiesta Friday. Do check out her blog at  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook
Also linking up on Saucy Saturdays

Fermented Food experiments #2 -Beet Kanji

Fermented foods are just beautiful  not only for the taste buds but also for your gut.  Ancients culture have propagated fermented foods for preservation and taste through the centuries. The souring action if microbes that produced fermentation have been critical in our diets throughout  the globe.  Similar foods can be found in every culture,  just called something different.
Indian “Achar” or “Kanji” are great examples and so is the fabulous “Kimchi” from Korea.
My personal story takes me back to the late 1970’s where as a young girl spending lazy winters vacation in Lucknow, India  I would watch my grandfather ferment and pickle various vegetables in earthenware and produce the probiotic liquid called “Kanji” in India. It  was delicious, tart and healthy and the joy of helping my grandfather  while he worked on these beautiful foods is a memory that is permanent ink in my soul.
True to foods that nourish your soul and help you remember your history, in this series I am sharing different fermented food s I am experimenting with.
Click here for a previous recipe of Kashmiri Achar
Click here for a previous recipe of Red Cabbage Pickle

In this edition: Fermented Beet tonic – Kanji

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BeetKanji-5786This fermented beet pickle and tonic fascinates  and mesmerizes with its deep violet color and tangy taste. There many health benefits of both the beets and these are just amplified through fermenting.

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“Kanji”  is usually a pungent combination of water, mustard seeds, beetroot and carrots and is full of digestion-boosting friendly bacteria and enzymes. I have only used beets here so the color is quite intense. Beets are high is sugar but the fermentation breaks the sugars down and makes this drink a healthy tonic. Very similar to Kvass which is an eastern European fermented beverage commonly made with rye bread.

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Fermented Beets - Kanji

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a zesty beet fermented drink and pickle

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 large organic beets
  • 3 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 3 whole red chilies ( Serrano)
  • 2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 6–7 cups filtered water

Directions

  • Wash and Slice and dice the beets in bite size pieces. I like to leave to skin on for organic beets.
  • Crush mustard seeds with mortar and pestle just to a coarse grind
  • Place the diced beets and carrots into a half-gallon glass jar.
  • Add the Serrano pepper, mustard seeds and salt.
  • Add the water, leaving one-inch of air space between the top of the water and the top of the jar. Tightly cover the jar.
  • Ferment the kanji for 2-3 days at room temperature.
  • Stir with a clean wooden spoon and taste. If it’s tangy – it’s fermented and ready
  • You can transfer the jar to the fridge and store for a few weeks.

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Enjoy a cup or bowl of this delicious liquid and eat the pickles beet and add them to your salad.

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Divine!

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Sharing this at Angie’s Fiesta Friday

Fermented food experiments #1 – Red Cabbage quick pickle

Fermented foods are just beautiful  not only for the taste buds but also for your gut.  Ancients culture have propagated fermented foods for preservation and taste through the centuries. The souring action if microbes that produced fermentation have been critical in our diets throughout  the globe.  Similar foods can be found in every culture,  just called something different.

Indian “Achar” or “Kanji” are great examples and so is the fabulous “Kimchi” from Korea.

My personal story takes me back to the late 1970’s where as a young girl spending lazy winters vacation in Lucknow, India  I would watch my grandfather ferment and pickle various vegetables in earthenware and produce the probiotic liquid called “Kanji” in India. It  was delicious, tart and healthy and the joy of helping my grandfather  while he worked on these beautiful foods is a memory that is permanent ink in my soul.

True to foods that nourish your soul and help you remember your history, in this series I am sharing different fermented foods I am experimenting with.

Click here for a previous recipe of Kashmiri Achar

In this edition: Red Cabbage Pickle

https://foodforthesoul00.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/redcabbagepickle-5765.jpg?w=474

Continue reading Fermented food experiments #1 – Red Cabbage quick pickle