Category Archives: Food

Fermented Food stories – Okra and Carrots

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 of microbes that produce 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 Kashmir Achar, Red Cabbage and Kanji

PicklesOkraCarrot-6-3

chutney

In this edition: Okra and Carrots

Continue reading Fermented Food stories – Okra and Carrots

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Chutney

It was a surreal summer filled with travels, sorrows, beauty, love and new perspectives. When I got back to my veggie garden after weeks of being away the tomatoes ( among other vegetables) were screaming to be picked turned into something divine.

My first instinct was to get all of them out to friends and family ( which I did for some), but….the rest went in preparations like this amazing tomato chutney.

fullsizeoutput_5877

The tomatoes were halved and roasted whole in a 375 degree oven for about 30 mins to bring out the flavor.

The chilies are whole and dried and are a staple in the pantry.  The oil is a mustard oil which brings out a beautiful flavor.

IMG_7245

This chutney will last a while in the fridge, my teenager has been using it to smear her morning bagels.  I have used it on top of my grilled chicken for a workday lunch and topped my sandwiches.

fullsizeoutput_5872

You can adjust the heat and seasoning  to your taste but my recommendation would be to keep the heat elevated 🙂 😉

fullsizeoutput_587a

Roasted Tomato Garlic Chutney

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a versatile chutney that goes with everything

Ingredients

  • 10-12 red tomatoes
  • 10 red dried chilies
  • 1 pod of whole garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Mustard oil
  • 1 tsp onion seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Himalayan Salt to taste

Directions

 

  • Slice off the very top of the garlic and wrap the garlic pod in foil.
  • Layer the tomatoes along with the pod of garlic on a sheet pan.
  • Roast  in the 375 degree oven for 30 mins
  • Cool and remove the skin from the tomatoes and the garlic
  • Heat mustard oil in a pan until smoking
  • Add the seeds and let them splutter
  • Add the chilies for a couple of minutes
  • Next add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, and turmeric
  • Once bubbling, cover the pan and let the mixture cook for about 5- 7 mins.
  • Do taste the seasoning and adjust.
  • Cool the mixture and run it through your Vitamix or any other processor.
  • Bottle in jars. It will stay in the fridge for a couple of weeks if it lasts that long.

fullsizeoutput_5875

Come join the party at Fiesta Friday!

 

Chicken Thai soup with Forbidden Ramen

Thai cooking has always been a passion, with fresh aromatic ingredients like lemon grass, cilantro, chilies and ginger the possibilities of creating dishes in endless. This cuisine brings to world  the 5 flavors of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and hot. The  subtle variation in proportions of ingredients used highlights these flavors.

ProfilePhoto-5843

Soup is always the best when the stock is of ultimate quality. Make your chicken stock at home with bones and vegetable or buy a good organic variety.

With Thai cooking you need the sour with the sweetness of creaminess. In this soup I have used low fat coconut milk and no oil, the ingredients lend their flavors beautifully.

IMG_7225Use dried shitake mushrooms instead of fresh ones and they are more intense. Just soak the in warm water for 30 mins and use the liquid as well.

The spark comes from the kaffir lime leaves which I have bought dried ( I can’t find the fresh ones here so far)

IMG_7234Now to the starch, the Lotus Food forbidden rice noodles are so good, healthy and add that intense purple color.

IMG_7222Chicken and Stock

  • 4 whole organic chicken thighs
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 anise seed pods
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 whole black cardamoms
  • 2 cups water

Soup

  • 5-7 Shitake Mushrooms soaked in warm water for 30 mins and then sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • One yellow zucchini sliced in thin slices
  • 1 can low fat coconut milk
  • 1 full tablespoon  red thai curry paste
  • 4-5 dried kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 serving of forbidden rice ramen ( Lotus Foods)

Putting it together:

  • Add all the chicken ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook for 10 minutes. Your can also cook in a slow cooker for 3-4 hours but I much prefer the pressure cooking.
  • Cool and strain the chicken. Save the broth and shred the chicken.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat combine curry paste with coconut milk. Stir until it come together.
  • Add turmeric and chili powder
  • Continue cooking and add the stock. Also add the fresh stock from the chicken cooked above.
  • Once the soup base has come together add the lime leaves, zucchini, mushroom and the chicken. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add 1 cube of rice ramen and cook through pulling the ramen apart for 4 minutes.
  • Turn of the heat and add the lime juice.
  • Dry roast the desiccated coconut and sprinkle over the soup before serving

IMG_7225

Sharing at Fiesta Friday! Thanks  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Nimmi @ Adorable Life for co-hosting

Figs with walnuts, yoghurt and honey

Figs, one of the oldest fruit cultivated and consumed by humans traverses global cultures and complex history. Fresh, dried and preserved figs have carried many a generations through culinary experience of reaping its sweet benefits.IMG_7171

 

When I saw my parent’s fig ( Anjeer) tree in Kashmir this summer, I was in complete awe. It took my dear friend Imtiaz a fair amount of effort to climb up and get me a basket. My newly planted tree in Virginia seemed dwarfed and needed way too much maintenance.IMG_6923

I am not giving though, my Virginia tree now is freshly fertilized and nurtured and although just a few months old has delivered a few fruit.

When you don’t have enough figs growing, there is always the local market. Beautiful figs were calling me and I brought them home.

IMG_7164

This recipe is simple with drained thick yoghurt, toasted walnuts and a drizzle of saffron infused honey. The walnuts and saffron are from Kashmir which are the absolute best. Be careful not to burn the walnuts and just lightly toast them.

Please note that I used drained coconut yoghurt so this version is DF. Experiment to your taste.

IMG_7182

I have paired this with my coconut orange cake.

IMG_7181

 

Figs with walnuts, yoghurt and honey

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a simple summer dessert

Ingredients

  • 5-6 fresh figs slices
  • 1 cup drained Greek yoghurt or drained coconut yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup toasted  walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw organic honey
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp orange blossom water
  • Squeeze of 1/2 lemon

Directions

  • Warm the honey over low heat with saffron, lemon zest, orange blossom and lemon juice for 5 mins. Don’t not let it boil. Let it cool to room temperature.
  • Toast Walnuts in a dry small skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Let them cool
  • Serve yogurt and figs drizzled with warm honey mixture and topped with toasted walnuts. A slice of cake pairs perfectly.

IMG_7178

It’s been a long time since I shared with my friends at Angie’s Fiesta Friday so here goes. Thanks to the cohosts this week  Colleen @ Faith, Hope, Love & Luck and Alex @ Turks Who Eat

 

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.

IAS_0613

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.

IAS_0642

IAS_0630

  • 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.

IAS_0622

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.

IAS_0461

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.

 IAS_0455

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

IAS_0472

 IAS_0544

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.

 IAS_0526

  • 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.

IAS_0271

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.

IAS_0269

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.

IAS_0263

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.

IAS_0265

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

IAS_0266

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