Last weekend I did something quite ridiculous. (I’m really loving the word ‘ridiculous’, aren’t I) Can you guess? Give up?
I WENT SKY-DIVING! It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, but couldn’t quite muster up the courage to do it. With all the ridiculously (there it is again) amazing things that have been happening in my life this year, I said to myself – “Why not jump out of a perfectly good plane, 10k feet above the ground?”And so I did. What followed was the time of my life, scared sh****ss, screaming like there’s no tomorrow, insane experience of my life that I will be definitely repeating a few times again. Yeah
So, when I got back home from the ‘event’ and it was time for dinner, I needed something light, comforting, and easy to put together to counter the adrenalin rush from the morning. With a few simple ingredients and a bowlful of assorted veggies, this curry is easy, healthy, low-fat, and very delicious. This is what I did:
Cube up some assorted veggies you can find in your fridge. I had some zucchini and yellow squash in mine. If I had some, I’d also include carrots, broccoli, and sugar-snap peas. Then, finely chop up some onion, sautee on medium heat with some olive oil until translucent, add in a dollop of tomato paste, mix, spice, mix, add the veggies, stir, add a can of coconut milk, simmer for a bit, and… DONE! I garnished the curry with some chopped cilantro but you could add parsley or chopped thai basil too.I also cooked up some quinoa in the rice cooker to go with it, but basmati or jasmine rice would go beautifully too.
Here’s the whole recipe:
Ingredients: (serves 2)
- 1 yellow squash, 1 zucchini (or other assorted veggies in the fridge)
- 1/4 large onion, very finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp Cumin-Coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp chili powder (or less, per taste)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 can low-fat coconut milk
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Chopped cilantro, parsley or thai basil for garnishing
- Optional – lemon juice to taste
- Heat the oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Sautee the minced onion until it is translucent and beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and mix well.
- Add all the powdered spices, mix, and then add all the cubed veggies. Allow the veggies to simmer for 30 second or so before you add the salt
- Add the coconut milk, mix well, and let the curry simmer for about a minute.
- Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon juice, and serve immediately over a bed of freshly steamed rice or quinoa
After over 3 months of no updates here, it feels strangely comforting to be writing another post. Over these 3 months, while I craved preparing a creative meal, lovingly plating it, and then carefully photographing it, there was so much going on… I never had the time nor the right frame of mind to do all the things I enjoy doing so much. I come here after this short hiatus, feeling like a renewed woman. So much is different, yet so much is the same. This time away from OneLifeToEat and my lovely readers has taught me so much – I realize now the strength of my family, their faith and love in me, and the surprising reservoir of strength I seem to have in myself. I cannot thank them for all the support they have given me, enough. I stand here today strong and positive, only and only because of the love of my family. I want to do a special call-out to my two amazing, beautiful sisters who have been my rock, my conscience, and my courage this past year.
Challenging life situations have a way of testing true friendship. People who I thought would stand by me have fallen away, and strength and support has come from some of the most unexpected places. Friends who I hadn’t known for long have gone out of their way to show solidarity, and welcome me in their homes when I needed an escape. One such friend is Shruti. Shruti and I met through a common friend, who has also been such an amazing support to me. As fellow foodies, Shruti and I decided to do a fun cooking project together. We decided to make something that I don’t know how to prepare, and something that she loves to make – Kathi Kebab rolls.
I remember eating Kathi kebab rolls for the first time on the Churchgate train station in Mumbai. The Churchgate station is a busy metro transit station in downtown Mumbai, and the final stop for many office-goers. A multitude of small food stalls and vendors are at the station, selling every type of food from the mundane to the phenomenally interesting. One such stall was a small ‘frankie’ stall that made mouth-watering chicken, paneer and vegetable rolls wrapped up in Indian flatbread. Soft Indian flatbread is coated on one side with cooked egg. Then, a spicy chicken or paneer mixture is placed in the middle of the flatbread, which is topped with an assortment of tangy, spicy chutneys. The whole thing is rolled up and served piping hot in parchment paper! It tasted like the perfect remedy after a grueling day at the office.
When I moved to Pune, India to pursue my MBA degree, I had a slightly different kind of Kathi kebab roll – it was spicier and certainly had much more character. Later, when I visited Delhi, I had a third type of Kathi roll, that had more of a charred, tandoor flavor to it and the chicken was wrapped in naan instead of flatbread.
Shruti, being from Pune, taught me how to make the Pune style of Kathi rolls. Her method is incredibly simple and quick to prepare and I would highly recommend you giving it a try if you’re in the mood for an innovative cooking and eating experience. Here’s Shruti’s Kathi Kebab roll recipe:
Ingredients: (makes 5 rolls)
1. For the Chicken Kebab mixture: (all spices available at any Indian grocery store)
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, washed and cut in 1-inch cubes
- 4-5 tbsp canola oil
- 1 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
- 1 tsp Dhania-Zeera (coriander and cumin seed) powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 3/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp Chaat masala
- 1/2 tsp Tandoori Chicken Masala (This will add an interesting tandoor flavor to the chicken. I like the MDH brand the best but you can pick up any brand available at your local Indian grocer)
- Salt to taste
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion for garnishing
2. For the egg coating:
- 2 eggs, whipped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Whip the egg, salt and pepper together in a bowl and set aside.
3. For the roll:
You can make Indian flatbread using fresh wheat dough from scratch, or you can buy it ready-made from any Indian grocery store. Most Indian grocers sell frozen Indian flatbread.
You will also need mint and coriander chutney – you should be able to find this at any Indian grocer.
- First prepare the Chicken stuffing – Heat the oil in a large shallow pan and when well heated, add the finely chopped onions. Cook on medium heat until translucent and slightly brown
- Add the ginger and garlic paste, mix well, and then add the tomatoes. Mix again, and cook on high heat until the tomatoes are soft. The idea is to let all the water from the tomatoes and onions evaporate
- Now add all the powdered spices as well as the salt to taste. Mix well, allow to cook for a minute or so, and then add all the chicken. Mix to envelop the chicken in the onion, tomato and spices mixture
- Lower the heat, put a lid on the pan and allow the chicken to cook. When cooked through, check if any water has released – if it has, continue to cook until the mixture is fairly dry. Garnish with coriander leaves and a handful of sliced onions. Set aside.
To assemble the roll –>
- Heat a large, circular pan and place one cooked Indian flatbread on it. When the flatbread is heated on one side, place a small ladle-ful of the egg mixture on one side. Allow the egg to cook over the flatbread over medium heat. When you can see that the egg is partially cooked and begun to stick to the flatbread, carefully flip it over to let it cook completely.
When the egg has cooked through, remove and place the flatbread + egg, egg-side-up, on a plate. Place a small strip of the chicken mixture in the middle, spoon a dollop of the mint and coriander chutney, sprinkle some of the sliced red onion, roll up and eat!
Special thanks to Shruti and her daughter Niassa, who made this cooking project so very special for me. Isn’t Niassa totally huggable?
Hello dear readers! As Sabera is busy with her hot and happening life (that was sarcasm. she’s drowning in class assignments and some pretentious business school stuff ) I thought I’d drop by here and share a recipe I hold quite dear to my heart. The reason I do is because this Mango Fish Taco recipe is a culmination of several hours of experimental cooking in my kitchen, not to mention the winner of the last Iron Chef cooking competition my friends and I organize and participate in!
I’m quite proud of this recipe because it has so many yummy flavors that I love all combined together – the fresh meaty flavor of Mahi-mahi fish, the tang of mango, and the spicy flavors from different types of seasonings and spices such as Caribbean jerk seasoning. While my recipe involves making every separate component from scratch, you can most certainly substitute some components with the store-bought variety. You can also use the exact same recipe and serve with soft tortillas as a main dish or with tortilla chips as a snack. This is a very very good recipe for entertaining and I strongly suggest you make it if you’d like to delight your guests. My tip is to make the condiments a day in advance so all you have to do the day of is grill the fish. So, here’s my recipe for yummy yummy Mango Fish Tacos!
Step 1: Make the slaw (make this a day in advance)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup diced red peppers (roasted preferred)
- 1/4 cup diced green peppers
- 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
- 1/4 cup diced carrots
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 1 head green cabbage, quartered and sliced into thin strips
In mixing bowl mix all ingredients together except the cabbage. Once evenly mixed add the cabbage and turn with your hands or spoons until the cabbage is evenly coated. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Should be made 24 hours in advance.
Step 2: Make the BBQ Sauce (Can also be made a day in advance)
Mix all of the following ingredients in food processor and puree. Pour into a bowl or jar and refrigerate.
- 1/2 cup mango chunks
- 2 roasted red bell peppers,
- 2 tablespoons brown balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon Caribbean jerk seasoning or any BBQ seasoning
- 1/4 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
Step 3: Make the Cilantro White Sauce (Make a day in advance)
Mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp white vinegar
Step 4: Make the Guacamole!
Mix all these together. Cover and refrigerate.
- 2 fresh avocados, halved, pitted and flesh diced
- 2 fresh jalapenos, diced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/4 cup diced red onion diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
- ¼ cup of roasted corn
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Step 5: Make the fish
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds mahi mahi or talapia skinned and cleaned
- Blackening seasoning
- Olive oil
- 1 dozen (6-inch) flour tortillas or taco chips
- 1 cup shredded cheese of choice
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the mahi mahi with blackening seasoning. Add some olive oil to a saute pan and add the mahi mahi. Cook until flaky, about 3 to 5 minutes. When the fish is no longer pink in the center, add 1/2 cup BBQ sauce on top of the fish and crisp up the fish on both sides for a nice crunch! Heat the tortillas in the oven for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Shred the fish with a fork or a spoon and keep aside.
AND FINALLY! To serve:
- Spoon the guacamole down the center of each tortilla then add a layer of shredded cheese and diced tomatoes. Add the slaw and the mahi mahi. Top with the white cilantro sauce. Arrange on a serving platter, get a napkin and dig in.
- Alternatively as a fun appetizer, you could spoon some guacamole in the center of a taco chip (I bought the triangular large chips), then the cilantro sauce, place a small piece of the fish on top, top with slaw. You don’t need the cheese or tomatoes.
My mother is in the habit of making every ingredient she uses in her cooking from scratch. In recent years, while she has ‘outsourced’ a few items such as paneer (cottage cheese) and a few spices from local stores in Mumbai, for the most part, she uses from-scratch ingredients. One important ingredient she makes at home is the ginger-garlic paste.
Ginger-Garlic paste is an essential ingredient in North Indian cooking and is used to put together curries and sabzis. The place where I have personally found it most useful is in meat marinades; as ginger is a tenderizer, having the paste on hand helps put together a quick marinade for a non-vegetarian dish. If you’ve been following OneLifeToEat, almost all my recipes use this paste.
Many of my friends use ready made ginger-garlic paste available at all Indian grocery stores (and I did too for a while). However, those pastes tend to have a lot of preservatives as well as sodium in them. The biggest advantage of making this paste at home, is controlling exactly what goes into my food. It’s really quick to make and a little goes a long way.
The one thing that held me back from making my own ginger-garlic paste at home, was the lack of appropriate implements. Now that I have a very good Cuisinart grinder, the first thing I did with it was to make my own ginger-garlic paste. Here’s how you make it:
- 1lb garlic, peeled
- 1lb ginger peeled
- 2 tbsp good quality olive oil, or any vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
Blend all the above ingredients until it is a well-ground paste. Add 2-3 teaspoons of water if necessary, to loosen the solids in the blender. Store in sterilized glass jar in the fridge. This paste should easily last you a couple months.
Happy happy new year to you! What a year 2011 was… I started my second graduate program here in Minneapolis, made more friends in one year than I did in the two years before that, learned a whole ton about myself, and of course, tried many more types of food and cuisines!
A big part of 2011 was doing things a little differently here on OneLifeToEat. In the midst of being busy with a graduate program, I slowly but surely started trying to take better pictures of the blog. A few even made the cut on TasteSpotting! Although that is something I wasn’t hoping for, it felt fantastic when I got the approval email. I also added a new header to the blog, and redid the layout to make it look cleaner, and more easy to navigate.
I leave you with links to the top 5 most-viewed posts last year. It was my goal through this blog to simplify and demystify Indian cooking, and the top posts show that visitors come to my blog to learn about the basics of this exciting cuisine. So, if 2012 is the year you want to learn how to make Indian food, look no further! Here’s to more food, more photography, more blogging and more fun in the kitchen!
Top 5 OneLifeToEat posts in 2011
There’s something about simplicity that is so attractive. A living room done up with simple furniture and accent pieces. An outfit put together with simple clothing and accessories. And a dish put together using simple, easy to find and use ingredients. This bread pudding recipe I discovered on Steamy Kitchen’s website is just that; It uses a few simple ingredients and voila! You have a decadent, delicious dessert that looks like it took a long time to put together.
So recently, when I was invited to an impromptu dinner at a friend’s home, and all I had at home were a few croissants, nutella and the usual suspects – milk, cream, eggs and sugar – I quickly put together this bread pudding. Day-old croissants are sliced in half lengthwise, slathered with yummy nutella, sandwiched back together, cut in chunks, and baked with a creamy custard made with eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla. I never thought the taste would be so so good.
Check out the original recipe here on Steamy Kitchen’s website. I mad a few modifications to Jaden’s recipe by using half and half instead of whole cream. I also added a big pinch of powdered cardamom to the custard, to add an extra layer of interesting flavor. This whole dish took under 10 minutes of prep time, and all I had to do after that was put it in the oven and let it cook, while I tackled other things around the house. Make it for Christmas eve dessert, or for Christmas day breakfast – you decide! I think it’ll be a hit either way. I know it was at the party I went to!
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!
I’ve been missing home particularly a lot lately. Maybe it’s the freezing winter here, or the Christmas spirit that’s all about families… or maybe it’s also because it’s been a while since I visited home. As my semester winds down to an end and I look forward to 6 weeks of no classes, I am craving a trip home and catching up with my friends and family. As a substitute, I’ve been trying to replicate a few dishes from home.
Tandoori chicken wasn’t that big a part of my childhood; however the few times my family ordered it from the local Mughlai restaurant, we relished it thoroughly. I loved the deep red color of the tangdis although I knew I was shoveling tons of artificial color down my body, and loved squeezing lime juice over the chicken pieces, then nibbling on the charred bits (my favorite). What I probably enjoyed more than the chicken itself, was the yummy kachumbar or sliced onion salad that they packed with the chicken. There was something about the way the onion was sliced super thin, that made it all the more yummy.
Tandoori chicken is India’s answer to Barbequed meat. As many of you may know, the name tandoori chicken comes from the clay oven called tandoor, that it’s made in. While I don’t have a tandoor, and an American grill wouldn’t cook the chicken the way tandoori chicken is supposed to end up tasting, I searched for ways I could replicate the same tastes by cooking the chicken in an oven. The answer lied at the back of pack of tandoori spice mix
I used the recipe from a tandoori spice mix pack as the foundation, and made several changes to achieve the taste I was looking for. I started the recipe, thinking it would take a long time to make, but the chicken was fairly quick to prepare. The recipe starts with cleaning the chicken and removing the skin. Then, a quick ginger-garlic paste marinade makes sure the meat is tenderized. The chicken is then pressure cooked… yes, pressure cooked, for just one whistle. I found this step quite interesting, as in the past, when I have marinated chicken and tried to cook it on a grill, it takes a long time to cook through, which leaves the outer part of the chicken tough and hard, and the inner part, cooked through but dry.
Pressure cooking the chicken makes sure it is partially cooked, so when it is broiled in the oven, it cooks faster, but the result is perfectly charred from outside, and soft and juicy from inside. After this step, the chicken is basted in a mixture of spices and yogurt, and then baked in an oven. The whole process takes under 90 minutes from the time you start cleaning the chicken! Here’s my recipe for a really simple, oven-baked tandoori chicken, and a tangy onion kachumbar, to go with it. Serves 4 people.
For the onion Kachumbar -
- Thinly slice 1/2 a red onion and place in a glass bowl. Spritz juice of 1/2 a lime, add 1 tbsp of white vinegar and 1/4 tsp salt
- Sprinkle finely chopped cilantro, mix well, and place in the fridge
For the Tandoori Chicken -
- 12 chicken drumsticks or equivalent quantity in bone-in chicken, skinless, cleaned, washed thoroughly, and patted dry
- 2 spoonfuls yogurt (a little more or less doesn’t matter, use your regular soup spoon)
- About 50 gms Tandoori spice mix (available at any Indian grocery store. Measurement is in grams because these spices come from the Indian sub-continent)
- Juice of 1/4 lime
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- A pressure cooker. If you don’t have one, cook chicken in boiling water.
- Baking trays with aluminum foil
- Vegetable oil and a basting brush
- Rub ginger-garlic paste well over all the chicken and allow to marinate in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Then, place in a pressure cooker with about 2 cups water, and cook for only one whistle. Alternatively, cook chicken in boiling water until it is 1/2 cooked. Do not fully cook the chicken
- While the chicken cooks, mix together all the other ingredients in a bowl. When the chicken is cooked and cooled, rub this mixture well all over the chicken pieces. Rub inside any cavities and below folds of flesh too. Allow to marinate for another 10 minutes
- In the mean time, prepare the baking trays; line with foil. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken on the trays and bake for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Then, remove from oven, baste with vegetable oil or melted butter, and place back in oven for 5-6 more minutes or until the right amount of char is achieved. This step helps the chicken get the appearance of authentic tandoori chicken.
- Serve immediately with the ‘pickled’ onion and slices of lime.