Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chipotle Veggies with Black Beans Rice

This is now a new family favorite. Thanks to my colleague Alex who shared his mother's recipe for this delicious chipotle sauce. These chipotle chillies in adobo sauce are available quite readily in the US and even this specific brand is easy to get. The kids also really loved the different flavor and I've made it a few times since I got back. Last time I served this with some tasty guacamole 
A salad, as pictured, also works well as a side. It's also easy enough to be a weeknight dinner.



Chipotles in Adobo Sauce (canned) - 2 chillies and some sauce (the rest can be transferred to a glass container and refrigerated for use later)
Mushrooms - 16 oz, wiped with a moist towelette and quarter (can substitute with boiled potatoes)
Paneer - 200g, cut into cubes
Onion - 1 medium one,  peeled & chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, peeled
Tomatoes - 1 medium, chopped
Butter - 3 tsp
Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt - half cup

Tequila - 1 shot (as per the original recipe but I skipped) :)
Salt - to taste

1) In a pan melt 2 tsp of  butter and saute onions, garlic and the chopped chipotle chillies, saute for a few minutes. then add tomatoes and a bit of salt. Allow this mixture to cool a bit.
2) Grind together  the onion-tomato-chili mixture with some sour cream or greek yogurt to a smooth sauce.
3)  In a pan, melt 1 tsp of butter and add mushrooms (or boiled potato cubes) in a single layer. Allow to cook down - no need to stir. sprinkle some salt and saute for a few more minutes before adding the chipotle sauce with some water to thin it down.
4) Allow this to come to a boil and simmer together for about 10 minutes or so until it thickens. Add in the cubed paneer and allow to cook for 5 more minutes.



Basmati Rice - 2 cups, rinsed
Black beans - 1 can, drained and rinsed
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Carrots - 1 small, chopped
Corn - half cup, frozen
Tomato - half, seeded and chopped
Garlic cloves - 3 to 4, chopped
Jalapeno peppers - 1, seeded and chopped (optional) 
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - half tsp  (reduce if using jalapeno)

Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Vegetable Broth - 2 cups OR  1 heaped tsp of Vegetarian Bouillon paste
Water - 2 to 4 cups (adjust based on whether broth is being used - total must be 4 cups) 
Coriander/Cilantro leaves - 3 tbsp, chopped
Lemon juice - to taste
Salt - to taste
Olive oil - 2 tsp 

1) Heat oil in a pan, and add cumin seeds, toss in chopped garlic, jalapeno (if using)  and onions and saute for a few minutes.
2) Next add chopped carrots, corn, tomatoes and continue to saute with some salt & turmeric powder. Add chilli powder at this point and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
3) Next add the basmati rice and keep tossing for another 5 minutes on medium flame until well toasted.
5) Transfer to a rice cooker, and add vegetable broth and water combination (or veg. bouillon paste + water) - the total must be 4 cups. Adjust salt as needed and cook till done.
6) When rice is cooked, stir in the drained and rinsed black beans, coriander leaves and lemon juice to taste. Cover and let the flavors come together for about 15-20 minutes before serving.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lemonade Syrup / Concentrate

Summer is here and the kids are often clamoring for something cold.. Though I now make quite a few fresh fruit/veggie juices (thank you Blendtec), lemonade is always a favorite at home and with the abundance of lemons one sees in the market at this time, it's hard to resist. I like to make a lemonade concentrate so it's easy to whip up lemonade in a jiffy...

My favorite method to get the most juice is to whack each lemon with a hammer on all sides (really, I kid you not). What this does is, it breaks down the cell walls and the lemon turns softer and it makes it super easy to get maximum juice out of it. For my carpal tunnel afflicted hands, this is an important step... Whatever juicing method works for you is fine but this is mine...


Fresh Lemon juice - 1.5 cups (about 10 lemons or so, depends on size)
Sugar - 1.5 cups
Water - 1.25 cups
Ginger - 1 inch, grated (optional)
Zest from 1 lemon
1) Combine sugar, ginger & water in a bowl, bring to a boil, stirring until all the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and remove from the stove. Allow to cool.

2) Meanwhile juice the lemons and measure so you have 1.5 cups.

3) Strain the cooled ginger flavored sugar syrup and mix in the lemon juice. 

This can be refrigerated for several weeks.

To make lemonade - add about 1/3 cup of the prepared lemonade concentrate, add ice cubes as necessary and top the glass with cold water. 

Variations: Add orange juice (pictured) with water and lemonade syrup for an orangey lemonade. Or mix with Pomegranate juice or brewed and cooled tea. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Baby Potato Roast

I'm sure I've said this before but baby potatoes are the cutest :) Potato fry or roast is an eternal favorite but when made with baby potatoes it is extra special. Peeling them can be a bit laborious but it's worth it to bite into tender, spiced potatoes with a crisp crunchy coating... The kids love this too and using sambar powder instead of chilli powder lends flavor without it being too spicy for them.

My MIL gave me this tip to add some bread crumbs and it lends a lovely crunch to this dish.


Baby Potatoes - about 35
Sambar powder - 1 to 1.5 tsp (I use Shakthi brand - you could use chilli powder for a spicier version)
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Bread crumbs - about 2 tbsp (optional)
Oil - 1 tbsp

1) Pressure cook baby potatoes with some salt - I followed the same method I use for sepakizhangu, allow to cool a bit and peel.

2) Heat oil in a wide pan on medium  preferably non-stick/ceramic, add turmeric, salt and sambar powder to the oil, stir for a few seconds (ensuring they don't burn) before adding the potatoes.

3)Toss on medium flame until well coated with spices and cover and keep for about 10 minutes or so.. stirring every once in a while. This will allow the salt and spices to penetrate the potatoes.

4) Remove cover and allow to toss until it crisps up on the outside.  Add bread crumbs if using.. it lends a crunchy exterior to the potatoes.

NOTE: The key is to not increase the flame or rush the process but continue roasting on a medium flame until done.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Jicama Cucumber Mango Salad

I mentioned jicama (pronounced hicama) in my previous post  as one of our snack items when in Mexico... sprinkled generously with tajin which is a Mexican spice powder and with a squeeze of lime a lot of things taste great! I've always seen jicama in the global food store near our place so bought some to make a salad. The friend who introduced me to jicama told me that people who want to lose weight eat it because it is high in water and fiber. Infact, 1 cup of jicama has about 50 calories,  approx 12 grams of carbs, 7 grams of which is fiber.  It doesn't have a very strong taste.. but it's more neutral, crunchy and juicy so blends well. Looking it up in wiki reveals that it's the veggie used in popiah and rojak in Singapore as well.. interesting!

Coming back to my salad recipe...



Jicama - 1small one OR half of a big one, peeled &  cut into thin matchsticks
(English) Cucumber - 1, washed and cut into thin matchsticks
Mango - not too ripe or raw (refer to this post on how to pick), peeled and cut into strips
Coriander/Cilantro Leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
Tajin (mexican seasoning) - chilli lemon powder - to taste
Honey - 1 - 2 tsp
Olive oil - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste


1) In a large enough bowl, toss together thin strips of  jicama, cucumber and mango with the coriander leaves.

2) In a small bowl, combine the honey, olive oil and the tajin seasoning (you can use some lemon juice with a combination of chilli powder & chaat masala as a substitute)

3) Mix this in with the veggies. Taste and add salt as needed. Allow to marinate (I put it in the refrigerator) for an hour or so before serving.