Friday, November 4, 2011

Kheema Mattar

Happy Diwali and Happy New Year to all!  This past weekend, we had family over for a Diwali celebration.  We had lots of great food, but one of the favorites was this Lamb Kheema Mattar.  First you pan roast all the spices then add the lamb and simmer to tender perfection!  It is quick and easy enough for a busy weeknight dinner, but is so delicious it is worthy of your most discerning guests!

If you can’t find ground lamb, you can easily use ground beef in this dish.  I haven't used ground turkey or chicken, but I don't see why they wouldn't work.

1/4 c. Ghee or Oil
1 large Onion, finely chopped
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1" Ginger, grated
1 stick Cinnamon
6 Cloves
1/4 tsp. Chili Powder
Salt, to taste
1 tsp. Turmeric Powder
1 Tb Cumin Powder
1 Tb Coriander Powder
2 Tb Plain Yogurt
3 Tb Tomato Paste
1 lb Ground Lamb
1 c. Water
1 c. Peas

In a pot heat the clarified butter or oil. When it gets hot add in the onions and sauté well to golden brown. Add in all spices and stir well. Add tomato paste and yogurt, stir and sauté on medium heat for about 10 minutes (you may add a little water in between to prevent spices from burning.)

Add the ground beef and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in water and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes or until lamb is cooked through.  Add peas and simmer to heat thoroughly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kobi Gaajar Shaak (Delicately Spiced Cabbage & Carrots)

This is a simple (and healthy), yet delicious vegetable that Gujaratis eat with rotis.  This is one of my favorite vegetable dishes from my childhood.  Something about the simplicity of it and the delicate flavors coming together without overburdening the cabbage just makes this so right.  Forget coleslaw!! This is how you eat cabbage and carrots!

2 Tb Oil
1/4 tsp. Asofoetida (Hing)
1/2 tsp. Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
1 head Cabbage, shredded
3 Carrots, shredded
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
1/4 tsp. Red Chili Powder
1 Tb Toasted Coriander Powder
1/4 tsp. Toasted Cumin Powder
Salt, to taste
1/2 Lime

Heat oil in large pan.  Add asofoetida, mustard seeds and cumin seeds and let sizzle for a few seconds.  Stir in cabbage and carrots.  Add turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and salt.  Cook down, stirring often, until cabbage is wilted and carrots are tender.  Squeeze lime over the cabbage and stir.  Adjust seasoning as desired.  Serve hot with warm rotis or parathas.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lamb Gyro Platter with Tzatziki Sauce

Ever since we moved away from the city, and access to just about every kind of cuisine possible, I have been learning to recreate some of my favorite restaurant foods in my kitchen.  Something that I crave often is NYC street food.  A plate of lamb on rice with grilled onions; lots of white and lots of red sauce, of course.  I'm salivating just thinking about it!  This is my version of this NYC classic and I have to say it's pretty darn close the real deal!  I must admit, this does take some time (mostly oven cooking time) but it is so worth the wait!

1 med Onion, finely chopped

2 lbs Ground Lamb
1 Tb Minced Garlic
1 Tb Dried Marjoram
1 Tb Dried Ground Rosemary
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tb Olive Oil
1 med Onion, thick sliced
1/2 tsp Dried Marjoram
1/2 tsp Dried Ground Rosemary
Tzatziki Sauce (Recipe Below)
Sriracha Sauce
1 Tomato, diced
2 c. Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
1 Cucumber, diced

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Process the onion in a food processor for 10-15 seconds then place on a towel and squeeze out almost all of the juice.

Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Process until it is a fine paste, about 1-2 minutes, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides.

Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60-75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 degrees F.  Remove from the oven and drain off any fat.  Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Slice and set aside.  In a large skillet, fry the onion slices in the olive oil and add the sliced lamb, marjoram, and rosemary.  Fry until well browned.  Serve on rice with tzatziki sauce, sriracha sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumber.

Tzatziki Sauce

8 oz Plain Yogurt
Kosher Salt, to taste
2 cloves Garlic, finely minced
1/2 Tb Olive Oil
1 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
2-3 Mint Leaves, finely minced

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quick Pasta Bolognese & Bolognese English Muffin Pizza

Today I share with you two quick and easy weeknight meal ideas.  This bolognese sauce takes about 30 minutes to make…that's right, half an hour!  And you can stretch it out to make a second meal!  My kids and I love having the leftovers toasted over english muffins.  It's like pizza, but a bit healthier.  The sauce has veggies and protein in it and I use much less cheese than would be on a typical pizza.  You get 2 healthy, kid friendly meals in one shot!  What's not to like about that!

I have to admit, I do cheat on this bolognese sauce.  I know some would say that it's not a real sauce if I use a ready-made jarred sauce in it.  Most foodies would stop reading about here because it's just not authentic enough.  But come on, a mom's got to take a couple short-cuts here and again!  Plus, I have to say this comes awfully close to some of the best bolognese sauce I've ever had; and it takes so much less time to make. 

I like to use Rinaldi's Meat Flavored Sauce in this dish for a few different reasons.  First and foremost I like the taste of it.  It is very well-balanced - just the right amounts of salt, sweet, tart - and is a nice round, full-bodied sauce.  The second thing I like about the sauce is that it contains no preservatives or flavor "enhancers" (MSG); its about as wholesome as something in a jar can be so I don't feel too bad serving it to my family.  And third, it is CHEAP!  I stock up on the jars when they are on sale for $.99.  Typically, I would choose to buy an organic brand of sauce for 5 times the cost, but this sauce tastes better and doesn't have the added "junk" that some of other the sauces may contain.

Quick Bolognese Sauce

3 Tb Oil
1/2 c. Onion, finely diced
1/4 c. Carrot, finely diced
1/4 c. Celery, finely diced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/3 lb Ground Beef
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 Tb Thyme
1/2 Tb Basil
1 jar Rinaldi Meat Flavored Sauce
1/4 c. Grated Pecorino Romano

In a large pan, heat oil and sauté onion, carrot, and celery. Once cooked through, add garlic. Cook for a couple minutes, then add beef, salt, pepper, thyme and basil.  Brown beef and break down to as small as possible. Add sauce.  Stir in 1/4 c. water into the jar to completely empty the jar and pour into meat mixture. Simmer to desired consistency.  Stir in the pecorino romano just before serving.  Serve with your favorite pasta.

Bolognese English Muffin Pizza

This one's pretty self explanatory, so I won't get into details.  But basically, I fork-split the english muffins and toast them for a couple minutes in the toaster oven. Then I spoon some of the bolognese sauce over them and sprinkle with either mozzarella or cheddar cheese.  Toast in the toaster oven until the cheese is bubblling.  Enjoy the yummy goodness!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rus Malai

If you are familiar with Indian sweets, you are probably accustomed to them being sticky, sugary, and spongy; all the things I don't like about them.  So needless to say, I'm not a huge fan of Indian sweets. At least not unless my mom's made it for me.  She seems to know just how to adjust her sweet recipes so that I like it.  I have such a great mom!  Her Rus Malai is one of my favorites and is SO EASY! 

Imagine cheesecake, without the tanginess, soaking in fragrant, sweetened milk.  So good!

2 lb Ricotta Cheese
2 1/2 c. Sugar
1 qt. Half & Half
1/4 tsp Saffron

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix ricotta and 2 c. sugar and pour into baking dish.  Bake in oven for about 20-30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, combine half and half, remaining sugar, and saffron.  Bring to boil on medium heat, then let cool.

Remove ricotta from oven when edges are golden brown and let cool.  Cut into squares.  Pour half and half over the ricotta and refrigerate for a few hours.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Besan Poodla (Savory Chickpea Pancakes)

Earthquakes, tsunami watches, hurricane, tornado watches, 2 kids with fevers, baby with croup…wow, what a week its been!  Thankfully we were lucky enough to be spared any weather-related crises, but it's surprising how much time and energy it takes to comfort and entertain 2 sick kids.  It's a lot of hard work lying on the couch with them watching hours of Toy Story! 

So today I share with you a simple oldie-but-goodie from my mom, Besan Poodla.  She used to make these poodla for me when I was a little girl.  (Actually, she still makes them for me.)  Besan Poodla are savory pancakes made with chickpea flour.  They are super easy to make and are great for lunch or a mid-afternoon snack.  We used to even have them for a savory breakfast.  Of course when I make these for my kids, I cut back on the chilies and I use cilantro instead of methi (methi has slight diuretic properties). 

I love the flavor combination of the ajwain (carom), methi (fenugreek) leaves, and garlic with the heat of the chilies.  There's just something very comforting to me about the flavor and aroma of these poodla.  I suppose it takes me back to my childhood.  I hope you enjoy these poodla as much as I do!

1 c. Besan Flour
7 oz. Water (just short of 1 cup)
1/4 tsp. Turmeric Powder
1 Green Chili, minced or 1/4 tsp. Red Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Ajwain (Carom) Seeds
1/2 c. Diced Onion
2 Tb Fresh Chopped Methi (Fenugreek) Leaves (optional)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Salt

Slowly stir together the besan and water to make a smooth batter.  Add the spices, onion, methi, and garlic.  Heat a little oil in a frying pan on medium/high heat and pour batter onto the pan to make a pancake of desired size.  Flip when it is golden brown on the bottom and cook on the second side until golden brown.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Egg-Free Meatloaf

Ah, meatloaf…such an elusive dish for me…but finally, victory is mine!!  Meatloaf is a favorite for my husband, however growing up in a mainly vegetarian home, I had absolutely no experience with meatloaf. I hadn't even eaten it until my first attempt at making it after my wedding.  I've attempted to make meatloaf many times since then, over the last 8 years, and have never liked the results.  Even with compliments from my husband, I couldn't understand what about it he liked, so I assumed meatloaf was just not for me.  Then last week I decided to make a meatloaf that my oldest son could eat, meaning without egg. (He's no longer allergic to wheat and dairy!!!) I tweaked my current recipe and crossed my fingers…and to my surprise, it was the best meatloaf I had ever made!  Everyone in the house agreed! Even the picky 3 year old had 2 servings!

NOTE: You can substitute Brown Rice Crumbs for the Plain Dry Bread Crumbs and Rice Milk for the Milk for a more allergen-free recipe.

1 1/2 lb Meatloaf Mix (Ground Beef, Veal, Pork)
1 c. Milk
1 Tb Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp. Chopped Fresh Basil or 1/2 tsp Dried Basil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Mustard
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 c. Plain Dry Bread Crumbs
1/2 c. Chopped Onion
1 c. Diced Roasted Red Pepper
1/4 c. Maggie Sauce (or Ketchup)

Heat oven to 350F.  Mix all ingredients except Maggie Sauce.

Shape mixture into a loaf on an ungreased pan.  Spread Maggie Sauce over top.

Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is in center of loaf.  Bake uncovered 1-1 1/4 hours or until beef is no longer pink in center and thermometer reads at least 160F.  Let stand 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicken Piccata

I made this dish for the first time about 4 years ago. I was in one of those situations where I had nothing planned for dinner and needed to go to the grocery store badly. So I dug around my cupboards and freezer and came up with this yummy dish! Little did I know at the time that this is a recipe for Chicken Piccata, but I was quite proud of myself for creating an amazing dish out of blue.

4 thin-sliced Chicken Cutlets
1 tsp Dried Thyme
Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
4 Tb Olive Oil
1/4 c. Flour
1 Onion, thinly sliced
1 sm. jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts
1 sm. jar Capers
1 sm. bunch Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 c. Chicken Broth
1 Lemon, juiced
1 Tb Butter

Season chicken with dried thyme and salt and pepper. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the oil. Dredge the chicken in flour, add to the hot oil and sauté until cooked through. Set chicken aside to rest on plate tented with foil.

In same sauté pan, over low heat, add onions, fresh thyme, artichokes, and capers and cook until aromatic.

In a cup stir together the broth the lemon juice. Turn the heat up to high, and deglaze the pan with the broth mixture and simmer until starting to reduce.

Remove the pan from the heat and finish the sauce by whisking in butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve on a bed of rice, spooning the sauce over the chicken.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The boys and I have just returned from a 5-week trip to visit my parents. We had a wonderful time! The boys spent their days playing "soccer" in the huge backyard, feeding the fish in my parent's Koi pond, and visiting various playgrounds in the area.  I was able to relax a bit and find some time to start working out! It felt so good to work out on a regular basis!  I hope I can fit working out into the usual routine soon now that I'm back home.

After being away from home for so long, it was nice to make a comfort food that everyone in the family loves, Noodles.  Now, when I make it, I don't follow a recipe.  In fact, I don't actually have a recipe at all for it.  This is my attempt to put down in writing the typical steps that I take to making the Noodles to share with you all.

1 lb Spaghetti (or Rice Spaghetti)
1 pkg Premio Spicy Italian Sausage (or any sausage of your choice), cubed
Oil, as needed
1 large Onion, sliced
16 oz Frozen Mixed Vegetables, thawed
1 Tb Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp Sesame Oil (optional)
1/2 tsp Chili Oil (optional)
Sriracha Chili Garlic Sauce, to taste
Low Sodium Soy Sauce, to taste

In large stockpot, boil water for spaghetti.  When water is boiling, add salt and some oil.  Break spaghetti into halves or thirds and cook to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large wok, brown sausage.  Set aside when browned on all sides.  Then using the fat from the sausage, fry onions until tender.  Add more oil if necessary.  Add mixed vegetables and fry until caramelized.  Add rice wine vinegar and fry for a couple more minutes.  Stir in spaghetti, sesame oil, chili oil, Sriracha, and soy sauce.  Fry a few more minutes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gnocchi with Grilled Chicken and Spinach

A few weeks ago, a friend and I decided to start a dinner co-op. Alternating weekly, one of us cooks dinner for both families while the other comes over to watch the kids. The kids get to have a playdate; the visiting mom a home-cooked meal to take back; and the hosting mom gets to make a dinner without being interrupted by toddlers every few minutes. It’s a win-win-win!

This is one of the dishes I made a few weeks ago for our co-op. I first made it for hubby & me when he brought home a package of gnocchi from the store. I wasn't sure what to serve it with so I started looking for recipes online. I found one recipe that was for home-made spinach gnocchi with a cream sauce. That was the inspiration to this dish; I decided to take the spinach portion of the gnocchi and add it to the sauce. I'm always nervous when I developing a new recipe, but this turned out amazing on the first try! I hope you enjoy!

3-4 Tb Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced PLUS 1 clove Garlic, minced
2 10-oz pkg Spinach, thawed
2 Tb Butter
1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
2/3 c. White Wine
2 c. Chicken Broth
1 c. Half & Half
1/3 c. Grated Parmesan
1 tsp. Ground Pepper
4 thin sliced Chicken Breasts
2 pkg Gnocchi

Heat oil in pan and sauté onions. Once tender, add 2 cloves minced garlic and spinach and sauté for a few minutes. Set aside and wipe pan clean.

In same pan, heat butter and add remaining minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with wine and reduce for 4-5 minutes. Add the broth, half-and-half, and cheese and reduce an additional 3 minutes. Add the pepper and spinach mixture and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Set aside.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions.
Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and grill until cooked through. Let sit for a few minutes, then slice against the grain. Add chicken to the sauce then pour over gnocchi when ready to serve.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Begun Posto

Last night my husband and I hosted a dinner party for a few good friends. We had a couple families over and everyone had such a great time! The kids loved playing with their friends and the grown-ups enjoyed great food and conversation along with a few bottles of great wine. It took me back to my childhood when my parents and their friends would have dinner parties. The children would get to stay up late playing or watching movies and the parents would play cards. It’s a very fond memory for me and I hope to be able to give my boys the same feelings of camaraderie and friendship. Through these dinner parties, my parents have forged life-long friends and I hope that my children and I can do the same.

One of the dishes I made for the party was a take on one of my mother-in-law's amazing eggplant dishes, Begun Posto, eggplant with poppy seeds. Unless you are familiar with traditional Bengali cuisine, this dish is nothing like you've ever had. My first experience with it was when my mother-in-law made it for me and it was the first time that I ever liked an eggplant dish. The one change I made from the original recipe is rather than deep frying the eggplant, I roast it with a light coating of olive oil. My husband says that even with the change, its as good as his mom's, which is a HUGE success in my book! No matter who the cook is, it is always hard to live up to someone's childhood foods…and all the more difficult when you're comparing yourself to someone who has spent a few years perfecting her dishes. I hope you all enjoy!!

1/2 c. Poppy Seeds
1 lg Eggplant, cubed
2 Tb Oil
1 tsp Nigella Seeds (Kalonji)
2 Bay Leaves
2 Dry Red Chile
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
1/4 tsp. Red Chile Powder
1 c. Peas
Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. Roast eggplant on a greased cookie sheet for about 35-45 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, grind the poppy seeds, and add water to make a paste.

Heat the oil in a kadai or non-stick wok and add the nigella seeds, bay leaves, and dry red chiles. When they are toasted, add the poppy seeds. Add turmeric, red chile powder, and peas and cook for a few minutes.

Then add eggplant and salt. Cook until eggplant is well incorporated and flavors have had a chance to marry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Powa Bateta

Wow! Has it really been 10 months since my last post?! I hope I've gotten to a place now where I can start making weekly posts. The past year has truly been a whirlwind! It's been filled with lots of laughs, smiles, and tears (both baby and mommy!), but I can't believe it's been a year now since little brother joined our family! It seems like I was just pregnant with him, but at the same time it seems so long ago when I was carrying him all hours of the day and night trying to sooth him.

Today I am going to share with you a dish from my childhood, Powa Bateta. Rice flakes with potatoes and onions with a great balance of flavors. It's something that my mom used to make for me and I now make for my family. Both my boys and hubby love this dish! It makes a great lunch or snack…my parents often have it for breakfast too! Recently my older son had an international luncheon at his preschool, and I sent this with him. All his friends loved it! I hope you enjoy!

2 c. Thick Powa (Rice Flakes found at an Indian Grocer)
2 sm. Potatoes, diced in 1/4" pieces
4 Tb Oil
1/4 tsp. Cumin Seeds
5-6 Curry Leaves
1 med. Onion, diced
1/4 tsp. Grated Ginger
1/8 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1/2 Lime, juiced
1 tsp. Sugar
1/4 c. Chopped Cilantro
Salt, to taste

Thoroughly rinse powa in a strainer and let drain.

Heat oil in a kadai and add cumin seeds. When cumin sizzles, add curry leaves. Then add onions. Sauté until tender.

Meanwhile, put potatoes in a microwave safe bowl and cover with water. Cook in microwave for 8 minutes, stirring midway through.

Once potatoes are tender, drain and sauté briefly with onions. Stir in salt, ginger, turmeric. Add powa, red chilli powder, lime juice, sugar, and cilantro. Stir together and sauté briefly; adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve immediately.