Wednesday, January 30, 2008

vegetables in a yogurt curry

the origins of this dish like so many of my others happened because i never seem to have the proper ingredients around. i end up using what i always seem to magically have on hand - bell peppers and potatoes. did i tell you i'm trying to cut down on carbs?

this was originally made for me on my recent trip to india by my dear neighbor in bombay. auntie made it using fresh drumsticks (or saragvo in gujarati) picked straight from our building drumstick tree. i mean talk about eating local. she had the watchman get his big ole' bamboo pole and knock these suckers down. this is a huge deal guys. if you've ever seen a drumstick plant you know how tall those things get. it was taller than our 4 story building. props to the watchman.

i'd like to say this is more of what you would find peasants in a small village eating, but i added certain spices that are considered more "richer" or mughlai if you will. but hey, not to appear as the elitist food snob or anything, i'm sure they'll have access to all the same ingredients as soon as that Tesco's opens up... with the multiplex downstairs and the M.A.C. counter on floor 3. oh yea, and Rollback Wally. can't leave them out from all their corporate rape and mongering.

so folks, here's the deal - it looks long because of the ingredients (mostly spices), but i really did make it in under 30 min. if you have your mise en place, it's a quick 5 step process that can be done simutaneously. and unless you have a drumstick tree in your front yard, i would suggest using whatever vegetables you got goin on in the fridge. i urge you all to try it out because it's so spicy and fragrant, and at the same time not in the least bit pretentious.

Vegetables in a yogurt curry
serves 4-6
prep time: 5 min
microwave time: 15 min
cook time: 15 min

step 1:

  • put 2 cups of chopped veggies with some water in a microwave safe bowl and heat until the veggies are cooked about 10-15 min. others i suggest are peas, carrots, red bell peppers

step 2:

  • meanwhile grind the following: an inch of ginger, 4 cloves garlic, 2 green chillis

step 3:

  • heat about 4-5 tbspn oil in a nonstick pan and add a cup of besan or chickpea flour and saute for 6-8 minutes until the flour is cooked thru

step 4: the tadka or tempering of spices

  • in a little saucepan, heat 2 tbspn oil
  • add a tspn mustard seeds and after they pop, add the following:
  • tspn each of cumin, fenugreek and fennel seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cardamon pods
  • 2 dried red chilis
  • pinch of hing or asafeotida
  • 1/2 tspn turmeric
  • 1 tspn cumin powder
  • 1 tspn coriander powder
  • 1 tspn red chili powder
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • add the ginger-garlic-chili mixture saute this for 3-4 minutes

step 5:

  • in a bowl mix 2 cups yogurt with 2 cups water and add this to the roasted chickpea flour
  • mix well then add the above sauteed spice mixture from step 4
  • add in the drained microwaved veggies
  • add salt to taste
  • cook on low for 5-10 min until everything is incorporated well, mix occasionally
  • garnish with cilantro
  • serve with roti or indian flatbread

Listening to: my favorite - Bob Marley & The Wailers, 'Jah Live' from their album Rastaman Vibration

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

shout out to Sailu and friend

Deepest thanks to the wondrous duo of Sailu and friend for creating the indian food blog aggregator, taste of india ! I am now registered. late as usual but there nonetheless.

Monday, January 28, 2008

baked falafel and hummus with garlic & yogurt dipping sauce

I made falafel, hummus, red pepper garlic sauce and cucumber yogurt sauce this weekend. I want to send this over to Mansi of the delightful blog, Fun and Food who is hosting Game Night Party event.

This is very quick dish to make, it just requires a few steps. Plus no frying the falafel! You can put this together in 30 min or less as long as you soak the bulgur in advance. And although it is vegetarian, I promise the carnivores in the crowd won't be left hungry. It is a proven crowd pleaser. Please do give it a go.

serves 4-6
prep time: 1 hour 10 min(includes 1 hour soaking time)
bake time: 15 min

  • preheat oven to 375
  • soak 1/2 cup bulgur wheat for an hour in water just to cover in a big mixing bowl
  • mix in 1 can chickpeas rinsed, drained and mashed
  • add 3 chopped scallions and 2 cloves minced garlic
  • add salt, a teaspoon of coriander and cumin powder
  • form into approximately 30 small balls and place on a greased baking sheet
  • bake for 15 minutes turning once


  • drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and place in food processor
  • add 2 cloves of garlic
  • add juice of 1/2 lemon
  • add 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • add 1 tspn tahini
  • add salt to taste
  • puree and place in serving bowl, drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle cayenne pepper

red pepper & garlic sauce

  • wash and chop 12 red jalapenos and place in a small blender
  • add 4 cloves garlic
  • add juice of 1/2 lemon
  • add salt
  • grind together

cucumber yogurt sauce

  • peel and dice a cucumber in a large bowl
  • add in a chopped tomato and jalapeno
  • mix in 3 cups of yogurt
  • add a small handful of dill or parsley
  • add salt and pepper

Notes: serve the falafel in warm pita bread with lettuce

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Foodie blog roll!!

I am so happy and elated to announce that I have finally gotten my act somewhat together and am now listed in the Foodie Blog Roll!!!

I would like to take this opportunity to invite any other food bloggers to join by contacting amazing
Jenn of the Leftover Queen blog.

A big shout out to Jenn for the terrific job you do and for creating an exciting and accessible community for all food bloggers!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

take your baby to the disco and 10 minute donuts

On my way to work this morning i was listening to the radio and they were talking about this new club in houston. now would be the time to sit down folks. it's a baby disco. yes, i am not shittin you. it is what you think it is. this new generation club got started in the U.K. and is now ready to take on America. parents can now take their little ones clubbin' - in the afternoon. there is a bar for the parents where they serve drinks. there is an area where they serve snacks and non-alcoholic drinks for the kiddies. let's just hope. they play old school disco. groovy. so, for all you parents that want your children to be skanks and playaz-in-training, there is now a place for you in houston.

no, i don't have parasites of my own in case you're wondering.

on to the 10 minute donut. maybe for the post club munchies. so my parents used to own several donut shops a long time ago. on my first day working there, i tried every donut, cookie, eclair, crueller and artificial drink. needless to say i made myself gag. i couldn't stand the taste of them or the smell of them. i wanted nothing to do with donuts for a long time. years went by. and then slowly, once in awhile i started craving them. i got this recipe/method from a lady i used to work with and am passing it on to me of the wonderful blog, words are all i have.

the 10 minute donut
serves: let's just say 6
prep time: 5 min
cook time: 5 min

  • heat some oil for deep frying (350 deg)
  • take a can of biscuits (ya, so shoot me), not the flaky grand kind and separate out the biscuits
  • then take a mini cookie cutter or something the size of a nickel and cut out pieces from all the biscuits.
  • mix up some cinnamon and sugar and put in a paper bag
  • put some powdered sugar into another paper bag
  • deep fry the donut holes until golden brown
  • put some into each paper bag and shake until covered with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar thoroughly
  • place in serving bowl and enjoy warm with a cup of cafe au lait

Note: i don't know if canned biscuits are available in india yet. in the U.S. they are found in the refrigerated section near the butter and cheese. if you cannot find canned biscuits where you are, please email me at alpa_v at yahoo dot com and i will email you another recipe.

browse while you're satiating your tummy. pics to come...

Monday, January 21, 2008

spicy pepper pasta

I was reading Cynthia's brilliant post on different types of chili peppers a few days back and I thought to myself what a completely underrated vegetable it is. No one gives props to peppers. It's such an everyday ingredient, that you don't even realize what life would be like without it. So, taking cue from Cynthia I've devised this new version of my quick pasta using jalapenos instead of crushed red pepper flakes that I normally use.

Try this for a dark wintry weeknight supper that you can get on the table in 20 minutes.

Spicy pepper pasta

Serves 4-6
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min

The VIPs:

  • 2-3 tbspn olive oil
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic or a tspn of garlic paste
  • chopped red onion
  • 2 large jalapenos
  • 2 cups veggies of your choice - red bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, etc
  • large can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • salt and italian seasoning
  • handful of chopped cilantro (or parsley)
  • 16 oz. box of pasta

The play:

  1. boil water for pasta & cook per directions until al dente
  2. heat up oil and add onions, garlic and peppers and saute till softened, about 5 min
  3. add veggies and saute for 7 minutes
  4. add crushed tomatoes, salt and italian seasoning
  5. cover and let cook until pasta is finished
  6. drain pasta and combine with sauce and chopped cilantro

*** Notes: Use frozen veggies if you are low on time. You can also use bottled pasta sauce, just saute the chili pepper in a bit of oil and then add the sauce. Using cilantro may seem weird but do try it if you like a little bit of an "indian" twist. I used organic whole wheat spaghetti, but feel free to use what you have in the pantry.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Masala dosas

Due to my Indian holiday, it has been a long time since I've actually cooked a full meal. I really missed my teeny tiny green kitchen and moreover, missed wiping counters and peering into my pantry every 5 seconds. Does anyone else feel just a bit useless when not able to cook in your own kingdom? I have been dying to cook, however because of jet lag I can't muster up the energy past a one pot meal.

I've been waking up at 4am everyday since I've been back which is pretty cool because I get so much time in the mornings to do a lot of prep work for the evening.
Yes, you can call me a morning person.

So yesterday at 4am, with all this time on my hands, I soaked 2 different types of lentils along with parboiled rice and fenugreek seeds for something like dosa. I say this, because traditionally, dosa has around a 1:3 ratio of lentils to rice. In my case, however, the ratio was almost 1:1 with an extra cup of rice thrown in because I felt like it. Does anyone know the proper name for this? I wanted to say peserattu, but I believe that is made only of dal/lentils. And also different in the fact that this dosa I made requires no fermenting time. Just grind up the soaked dal and rice and get goin'.

When I got home from work I ground up the lentils (dal) and rice mixture in the blender with a little bit of the soaking liquid to make a thin batter and kept aside while I made the potato masala filling.

I heated up some oil and added a few cloves, some mustard seeds, asafeotida (hing), and a sprig of curry leaves and a little urad dal.

I then added 3 chopped red potatoes, a huge jalapeno, and half a red onion and salt. Cover and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes and stir in between. Towards the end, add a little turmeric. Don't let it get mushy, the vegetables should retain their shape.

These dosas need to be made on low-medium heat because of the even ratio of the dal to rice. Traditional dosas should generally be made on medium to high heat. Oil your pan well and pour a ladleful or two and swirl it around like a crepe or pancake batter. Add a few drops of oil around the edges and let cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly brown and then flip and cook for another minute more. Add a little filling in the middle and fold over. Serve hot. Pictures to come soon...

A sidenote to all the Indian restaurant owners/chefs out there - why do so many restaurants turn their dosa filling into mush? I am not a baby and I am sure most of your customer base isn't either. We don't want our masala potatoes turned into bland, tasteless, Gerber crap in a bottle.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Back home

Dear Readers,
Here is hoping that all of you had wonderful holidays! Just browsing through a few blogs, I'm already saddened by what I missed until I find time to go back 2 months worth of everyone's wonderful posts. I was so warmed by all your wishes for a delightful journey, so a big warm thank you to all.

My vacation was wonderful, beautiful, hectic and exhausting as I'm sure anyone who has traveled to India will tell you. It's one of the most complicated places you will ever visit as well as one of the most endearing and spiritual.

Visiting India is like having a personal time turner like Hermione's. You will see places and people who haven't the slighest clue as to any modern conveniences. What you see may shock you or enlighten you.

The first snap is of a modern Mumbai dwelling sadhu, the following is of a "ghanti" or a manual grain mill I found in an old home in the small village town of Ontharia in Gujarat. The third is a vegetable vendor in Mahableshwar and the final picture is of a homeless community who reside at a temple which I used to pass by everyday in Mumbai. They were so surprised and at the same time ecstatic that I wanted to take their pictures.