Tag Archives: garlic

Lima Bean Hummus with Spiced Pita Chips

5 Jun

Lima Bean Hummus with Spiced Pita Chips“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Anonymous

Traveling far and wide is truly an enriching experience. The sights, sounds, smells and tastes along the way help us gain a broader perspective of the rest of the world. I cherish every trip I take and learn so much from my travels. While everything about travelling is exciting it’s probably evident by now that I particularly look forward to tasting the local food on my trips.

We recently spent 10 fabulous days in Athens and the Greek Islands. My favorite island on the trip was Santorini, the southernmost island in the Cyclades archipelago in the Agean Sea. It is renowned for its spectacular beauty, breathtaking views and fantastic Mediterranean cuisine.  The local cuisine is characterized by flavorful, fresh ingredients and bright colors typical of the celebrated Mediterranean diet. Santorini is specifically known for the fava, (vegetable similar to a split pea) and a type of cherry tomato that only grows in Santorini.

Oia, Santorini

Oia, Santorini

Santorini Sunset

Santorini Sunset

We tasted several types of hummus on our trip and specifically loved a fava bean puree hummus.

Fava Bean Hummus in Santorini

Fava Bean Hummus in Santorini

My Lima Bean hummus recreates the textures and flavors that that I loved about that hummus with a few modifications. I use dried Lima beans as they are extremely accessible and brighten up the flavors with Greek Kalamata olives and parsley. I pair my hummus with spiced pita chips that are crunchy bursting with flavor. It’s not always feasible to travel to Santorini but one can certainly taste a small piece of it with this dish. Continue reading

Chinese Dry-Cooked Haricots Verts

23 Apr

Dry-cooked Haricot Verts

Green Beans never really excited me. I never craved them and yet I ate them ungrudgingly when they were cooked.  That was until I met Haricots Verts – French green beans. These stringless green beans are longer and thinner than most American and Indian green bean varieties. They also have a more complex flavor and are tenderer than the other green beans I have encountered. These beauties had me yearning for them right after I tried them!

One of my favorite preparations of Haricots Verts is at Mumbai’s acclaimed Chinese restaurant – Golden Dragon. Golden Dragon specializes in both traditional Sichuan and Indian-Chinese dishes. I recently stumbled upon Golden Dragon’s Dry-Cooked Haricot Verts recipe in the “Vegetarian Fare at the Taj Cookbook” and am tremendously excited to share a slightly modified version on my blog.  Continue reading

Crispy Chili Garlic Baby Corn

20 Dec

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My trips to Mumbai resemble a literal walk down a food memory lane. My nostalgia surges and I am on a rampant mission to eat at all the places I fondly remember eating at, in the late 80’s and 90’s. The Mumbai dining scene has evolved considerably in the last 5-10 years.  Celebrity chefs from all over have flocked here to gain a share of the growing middle and upper income groups wallets and palates. Yet, it is not the fine dining and eclectic cuisine that I crave to eat here. It’s the bold and tangy street fare, the ambiance and culinary marvels of the old Irani cafes, and the delectable seafood at the down-to-earth coastal restaurants that have me ALWAYS coming back for more.

One cuisine that’s unique to India and is a MUST EAT on each trip is “Indian Chinese” known as “Chinese food” in India.  Chinese food in India is essentially food that is an adaptation of Chinese seasonings and cooking techniques to Indian tastes. This cuisine is said to have been developed over a century ago by a small Chinese community that lived in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Indian Chinese is a bold cuisine that harmoniously unites Indian and Chinese spices to season vegetables, meats, noodles and rice. It’s a mainstream cuisine in India and can be found at every place from a hawkers cart for under $2 to a five-star restaurant for $50-100 a person.

One of my favorite Indian Chinese dish is Chili Garlic Potatoes. Earlier this week, I was at the Willingdon Club of Mumbai indulging in the garlicky and tangy flavor of Chili Garlic Potatoes when I decided to recreate the flavors  at home with baby corn. The recipe below is derived from a few modifications to Sailu’s Kitchen Chili Baby Corn. It’s a piquant appetizer, that’s sure to warm you up on a cold night.

Crispy Chili Garlic Baby Corn Recipe:
Recipe Adapted from Sailu’s Kitchen Chilli Baby Corn
Time: 35-40 minutes
Yield: Appetizer sized portion for 4 people

Ingredients:
Fried Baby Corn:
3 tablespoons of corn starch
½ teaspoon garlic paste
½ teaspoon ginger paste
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ – ¾ teaspoon salt (per taste)
3 cups baby corn cut into 1 inch pieces (washed and dried) (See note)
2-3 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil for pan frying

Sauce:
1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
¼ cup green onions (whites and greens), thinly sliced + extra for garnish
7-8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bird’s eye chilies/That chili (Optional) (See note)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
½ medium to large green pepper, diced
¼ cup tomato ketchup
2 ½ teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon Siracha sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste or Schezwan sauce (See note)
¼ cup of water
1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water

Notes:

  • I used fresh baby corn. If you cannot find fresh baby corn, large grocery stores and Asian markets carry canned baby corn. Drain, wash and thoroughly dry the canned baby corn before you use it.
  • Bird’s eye chilies, Chili Garlic Paste and Schezwan sauce are available in Asian markets and some large grocery stores. Eliminate the bird’s eye chilies if you do not want to make this too spicy.

Method:
1) In a mixing bowl combine the cornstarch, ginger paste, garlic paste, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of water and mix well. You want to have a thin batter that creates a thin coating on the baby corn.
2) In a large skillet heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. Coat each baby corn piece in the batter. Pan-fry the baby corn in batches until they are light brown. Set aside the fried baby corn on a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.
3) In the same skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Now add the green onions, garlic, ginger and birds eye chilies and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the garlic is golden brown.
4) Add the green pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes until the green pepper is tender.
5) Add the tomato ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, Siracha, and chili garlic paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
6) Add ¼ cup of water and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Add the corn starch and water mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes until the raw corn starch taste dissipates.  Taste the sauce and add more soy or chili sauce per your taste.
7) Add the fried baby corn and toss to ensure that all the pieces are well coated with the sauce. Cook for another 1-2 minutes before transferring the baby corn to a serving platter. Garnish with a few sliced green onions and serve hot as a snack or an appetizer.

Garlicky Green Mung Bean Soup

23 Oct

“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

My husband rides the overcrowded DC metro to and from work each day. Once or twice a year he brings home the cold and flu virus. Since we are together in sickness and health, it’s inevitable that I get sick every time he is just about recovering. The truth in our house is that I am a horrible patient. I do not accept the invasion of germs without grumbling and moping. I also become really finicky about food and refuse to eat anything short of hearty comfort food.

We recently just encountered a round of flu and to survive the week it was essential to have nourishing and cozy meals each day. This soup was developed to satiate a craving for green lentil soup. I did not have French green lentils in my pantry so I worked with green mung beans that I always have on hand. The addition of garlic, cumin, cinnamon and a bay leaf gives this soup a rustic and earthy flavor. Topping it off with fried onions and serving it with crusty bread or toasted pita crafts a meal that you will enjoy, both in sickness and in health!

Garlicky Green Mung Bean Soup
Serves: 4 people
Time: Active time: 15 minutes   Inactive time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:
Soup
1 cup green mung beans
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 bay leaf
½ cinnamon stick
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish:
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

Method:
1) Put the lentils into a medium sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a rapid boil and boil the lentils for 10 minutes. The lentils will start to change color.  Drain them and set aside.
2)  In a medium pot, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and the butter on medium heat.  Add the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and let it cook for 1-2 minutes till you get their aroma.
3) Add the diced onion and cook till translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until the raw garlic smell dissipates.
4) Add the cumin and turmeric and cook stirring for 1 minute. Add the lentils, water and broth and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
5) While the lentils are cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet. Add the sliced onion (for garnish) and cook stirringly frequently till the onions are golden brown. Do not let them burn. Remove them and place on a paper towel to drain off the excess oil.
6) Once the lentils are soft, remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Use an immersion bender or potato masher to achieve a soup consistency that consists of half ground mung beans (See picture above). You do not want to over-puree this soup. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
7) Pour the soup into bowls and top each bowl with the fried onions and cilantro. Enjoy with warm crusty bread or toasted pita.

Ginger-Garlic Fried Quinoa

9 Oct

One of my favorite restaurants in New York City is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s  Spice Market. It is a chic and sexy restaurant in the Meatpacking District that specializes in South East Asian street food. Over the years, my husband and I have worked our way through most of its food and cocktail menu and every taste is worth writing home about. Some of our all time favorites include the spicy Thai fried chicken wings, the Nonya seafood laksa, and the ginger fried rice. Spice Market’s ginger fried rice is possibly my favorite fried rice.

I recently came across an old New York Time’s post where Mark Bittman shared Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Ginger Fried Rice recipe with a few modifications to it. Bittman uses Jasmine rice but I decided to recreate this dish with quinoa. I have come to realize that quinoa works as a great rice substitute for bold Asian flavors as it absorbs the flavors very well.

The quinoa soaks in the flavors and aromas of the nutty sesame oil and savory soy sauce. It comes together with the crisped ginger-garlic and softened leeks to create a party of flavors and textures in the mouth. So go ahead and try this recipe with quinoa or use up leftover brown or white rice to make this. Either way you will be creating a scrumptious crowd pleaser.

Ginger-Garlic Fried Quinoa
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Ginger Fried Rice
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 3 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (See note)
2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
3 tablespoons vegetable, canola or peanut oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and green parts, rinsed and dried
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon sesame oil
3 large eggs (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Notes:

  • You can use leftover rice – brown or white rice work great in place of the quinoa. Just make sure the rice is a day old, otherwise you will have mushy fried rice.

Method:
1) Place the quinoa and broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. When it has reached a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and cover and cook till all the water is absorbed (10-15 minutes).  Quinoa appears soft and translucent when it is cooked and a ring is visible on the outer edges of the grain. Use a fork to fluff the cooked quinoa and set it aside.
2) In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook till it is crisp and brown. Keep stirring this so that it does not burn. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the fried garlic and ginger to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
3) In the same skillet add the remaining oil and add the leeks. Cook the leeks until they are tender but not brown. Make sure you stir the leeks occasionally to ensure that they do not burn.  Season them lightly with salt once they are cooked.
4) Now add the quinoa to this skillet and stir it with the leeks. Season this with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and ½ tablespoon of sesame oil. Taste the quinoa and adjust the soy sauce and sesame oil as needed.
5) If using the eggs in a small skillet fry them to sunny-side up, till the edges are set but yolk is still runny. Season the eggs with some pepper and drizzle with a little soy sauce and sesame sauce.
6) Divide rice among 3 plates. Top each with the fried garlic and ginger, followed by an egg (if you are using eggs).

Thai Noodle & Chicken Salad

1 Oct

If you roast a whole chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken for a meal, it’s extremely plausible that you are left contemplating about what to do with the leftovers. Leftover classic roast chicken is one of the most versatile ingredients that can be pieced into a multitude of recipes.

Last week I was working on creating a recipe of a fall inspired whole roast chicken (recipe to follow in a few weeks) and found myself with plenty of leftovers. I decided that we would use the leftovers in a chicken salad the following night. The next day I found myself overcome by an urge to indulge in some Thai food and opted to give the leftover chicken a Thai twist.

My favorite Thai salad is Yum Woon Sen Salad – a bean thread salad tossed with a tangy and spicy dressing and crunchy peanuts. The protein in the salad is typically shrimp and occasionally ground chicken or ground pork. I was confident that the cooked chicken would absorb all the wonderful flavors of the dressing and would make a great substitute for the shrimp.

I used Rasa Malaysia’s Yum Woon Sen(Thai Noodle Salad with Shrimp) Recipe, but made several modifications as I wanted to work with ingredients in my pantry and fridge. This is usually a first course, but it makes a delectable and well-rounded one pot entrée for 2 people.

Thai Noodle & Chicken Salad
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia’s Yum Woon Sen Recipe
Serves: 2 (as a main course), 4 (as a salad course)
Time: 20 minutes from start to finish

Salad Ingredients:

4 oz rice sticks/rice vermicelli (See note)
1 ½ cups of shredded cooked chicken
⅓ cup peeled and thinly sliced red onions (See note)
½ cup diced tomatoes
1 ½ tablespoon coarsely chopped mint leaves
1 ½ tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
2 peeled cloves of garlic, minced and fried
2 tablespoons of either roasted peanuts or fried noodles (See note)

Dressing Ingredients:

1 ½ tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of chili garlic paste (See note)
1 ½ tablespoons of lime juice
1 ½ tablespoons of light brown sugar
2 tablespoons of warm water

Notes:

  • Traditionally a Yum Woon Sen salad is made with cellophane or bean thread noodles. Feel free to use those, if you have them on hand.
  • If you do not like raw red onions, shallots are a great milder option.
  • Traditionally this salad is topped with slightly crushed roasted peanuts. I had a box of La Choy Fried noodles, so decided to use those instead. You can use roasted peanuts or fried noodles.
  • Chili Garlic Paste can be found in the international aisle of major grocery stores and in Asian markets.

Method:

1) Cook the noodles per the package instructions and set aside.
2) In a medium bowl, mix together all the dressing ingredients. Make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved.
3) Toss the shredded chicken in the dressing.
4) Place the cooked noodles in the bowl that you are going to serve the salad. To this add the onions, tomatoes, mint, cilantro, fried garlic, dressing and chicken.
5) Toss everything together to blend well. Taste and adjust the lime juice, chili garlic sauce or fish sauce as needed.
6) Top with the crunch of your choice (fried noodles or peanuts) and serve immediately at room temperature.

TANGY TILAPIA CURRY

25 Sep

“You are what you eat” – Nutritionist Victor Lindlahr

This commonly used phrase implies that to be fit and healthy you need to eat good food. Bearing this in mind, I ensure that we incorporate several of the “superfoods into our meals. “Superfood” is the marketing term often used to describe foods that are high in nutrients that bestow health benefits. Not only are these foods high in essential nutrients, but they are also very low in negative attributes such as saturated fats, contaminants and additives.

I choose to believe that eating “superfoods” which are lower in calories and high in rich and beneficial nutrients counteracts (at least to a certain extent) some of less healthy meals we devour.  It’s great to be a non-discriminating foodie, but it’s also essential to make healthful decisions along the way. This is why we eat fish for dinner at least once we week. Fish is often considered a “superfood” as it is a lean protein that is low in calories and high in Omega 3 fatty acids that are very beneficial for our bodies.

Since this is my first fish post, I want to share a fish recipe that reminds me of my childhood – one that’s made at my parents’ home on a regular basis. My mom uses Rawas (Indian Salmon fish) for this curry, but I use Tilapia as American salmon tastes quite different from the Indian kind.

Tilapia is a mild tasting fish and hence a great palette for the aromatic Indian spices and tangy tamarind. You can use any mild tasting white fish you like for this recipe. Traditionally, this fish curry is served with Basmati rice, but its bold flavors are delectable even when eaten by itself.

Tangy Tilapia Curry
Yields: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes from start to finish

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
1 large red onion, diced
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
2 small tomatoes, grated (See note)
1 ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon red chili powder (See note)
1 teaspoon ground coriander powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala (See note)
4-5 curry leaves
2 seeded and finely chopped green chilies
2 cups of water
4 skinless tilapia fillets (or any mild white fish)
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate or paste
1-2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro for garnish

Notes:

  • To grate the tomatoes cut them in half across the width and remove the seeds with a paring knife. Use the larger side of a box grater to grate the meat side of the tomatoes. Discard the peels once done.
  • If you do not have red chili powder you can use cayenne.
  • Garam Masala is found in major chain grocery stores and Indian grocery stores. If you do not have a store-bought Garam Masala, you can easily make and bottle your own. Here is an easy Garam Masala recipe.

Method:

1) In a medium non-stick pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat
2) Once the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté until golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Stir the onions while sautéing them to ensure even cooking.
3) Once the onions are ready, add the ginger paste and garlic paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
4) Add the grated tomatoes with a ¼ teaspoon of salt to the onions, garlic and ginger. Adding salt to the tomatoes helps them cook faster. Cook the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, till the oil separates from them. About 6-7 minutes.
5) Add all the dried spices and cook them for 2 minutes.
6) Now turn off the heat and let the above mixture cool a little. Once it’s cooled puree this concoction in a food processor or blender and set aside.
7) In a medium non-stick pot heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the curry leaves and green chilies and cook them for 2-3 minutes. Don’t let the curry leaves burn.
8) Add the onion-tomato puree that was set aside to this pot and cook till the puree turns to a reddish-brown color. This takes about 8-10 minutes.
9) Once the puree is the desired color, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of water and bring it to a rolling boil.
10) Once the water reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the tilapia fillets. Cover and let it simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the Tilapia fillets are fully cooked through and fork tender.
11) Turn off the heat and carefully stir in the tamarind paste.
12) Taste and adjust the salt, spice or tamarind paste. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with a side of Basmati rice.

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