Thursday, April 24, 2008

walnut and orange buckwheat pancakes (eggless)

the more i blog, the more i say to myself, 'this is turning into a breakfast blog by the minute'. while i do love dinner, i don't necessarily enjoy lunch. but well, who really likes to eat by themselves in a giant cube maze? i mean, you can't even crunch a potato chip or a carrot stick without people snickering and asking 'what you munchin' on?' .

if you go out, everybody and their mother wants to place an order like you're their personal admin and then not give you enough money to cover their bill on top of that. then you might say, well get your ass over to the cafeteria. then i would tell you there is no cafeteria. what there is, is a dark and damp storage room that houses a microwave and a dirty fridge and of course the favorite water cooler. but i won't even get into that now. the gross fridge is a post all of its own. and so is the water cooler. and so is the storage room come to think of it. do you know how many times rude people just leave the water bottle empty for the next person? that is so not cool.

well, you must know by now that i loves me a hot cup of tea in the mornings and something warm and toasty on the weekends. isn't there something nostalgic about being able to lazily take the time to actually crush the ginger into the water and letting it steep instead of making it half assed like on the weekdays? i love mornings, i really do, but having to go to work really messes it up for me. so on the weekends, i purposely take my sweet time and actually think before i make something instead of just grabbing the first thing thats dunkable for my tea.

usually i do prefer savory over sweet in the mornings, but sometimes you just want pancakes. i like to make my own because they're so easy, it's quite silly really and they just taste so much better because you can make so many combinations. i have made pineapple, dried cherries & pecans pancakes when i was craving a pineapple upside down cake one time. that was pretty awesome. another time i made one with banana and cocoa nibs - that was pretty awesome. sometimes i just keep it simple and grate some lemon zest and add blueberries. that's always good. i've even added grated carrots and walnuts in order to satiate a carrot cake craving. too bad i didn't have cream cheese frosting! oh man, that would've been killer.
so it's pretty straightforward and simple - make your favorite buckwheat pancake batter (use a box mix if you're not so keen on making your own) but substitute half the amount of milk with fresh orange juice. then add some grated orange zest and chopped pecans. and fold into the batter. no need to whip it and beat it up. this is a batter, be delicate or it will be tough chewin' for you.

Notes: i don't use eggs in my baking, so depending on what i'm preparing, i will substitute using Ener-G egg replacer which is basically potato starch (so don't use this if you're cooking for strict Jains). sometimes i just use applesauce. other times i use sour cream, which works really well but adds unnecessary calories. sometimes, i don't use anything and just add more liquid. you know, just wing it like i do.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

super spicy mushroom curry

we never ate mushrooms growing up. my mom never bought them and i'd never tasted one till i was in my twenties. never having tasted them, i thought they were horrible, nasty, mushy brownish gray things to top pizzas with. i had no idea i was just eating them prepared all wrong.

then after all those wasted years, i had my first portabella burger and that was all she wrote. it was mushroom love after that. i still prefer them lightly sauteed or fresh. more recently however, i had a mushroom curry at an indian wedding and it was outstanding. here is my re-creation of that dish.

spicy mushroom curry

serves 2-3

prep time: 10 min

cook time: 15 min


  • 1 pint. cleaned and quartered button mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • 1/2 cup yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2" ginger minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander-cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste

the play:

  • heat oil in nonstick pan
  • add onions and saute few minutes until transparent
  • add the garlic, ginger and all the spices, saute for a couple more minutes
  • add the tomatoes and salt and fry until mushy - about 5 min
  • add mushrooms, fry for another 5 min
  • stir in yogurt or buttermilk or sourcream until it comes to a simmer
  • garnish with cilantro and serve with roti, toasted naan, lavash or steamed rice

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Methi na thepla

Methi na theplas are one of the breakfasts we look forward to on the weekends. i've never been much of a person who craves donuts and pastries for breakfast, i'd much rather have something hot and spicy. methi na thepla are like whole wheat tortillas made with fresh fenugreek leaves.
i usually make enough to last for the next few days worth of breakfasts. it is best to store them in a ziploc and reheat them for 15 sec in the microwave.
i am giving a basic method, if you don't have access to fenugreek leaves fresh or frozen, just use any grated squash such as dudhi (opo squash) or zucchini. you could even use grated carrots and cabbage. use what you got, this is all about your own family's preference.
methi na thepla
serves 6
prep time: 10 min
cook time: 30 min
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour mix together with:
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ajwain (caraway seeds)

then add to the flour:

  • 1 cup fenugreek leaves, washed & chopped, or if frozen, thaw first
  • 3 tablespoons yogurt
  • crush together: 3 green chilis, an inch of ginger, 2-3 garlic cloves (optional)
  • add enough water to make a soft pliable dough and let rest for at least 30 min

the play:

  • after the dough has rested for 30 min, make into 12 small round balls and keep covered
  • take one ball of dough and roll out to about 6-8 inches, use extra flour for dusting
  • heat a tawa or a flat pan and on medium heat, cook the thepla on one side for a minute or two
  • flip thepla over and brush with oil and cook for 1-2 more minutes
  • flip again and brush other side with oil
  • cook until brown spots appear on both sides and is cooked through (approx 2 min on each side)

Listening to: soft groovy sounds of Stan Getz, 'I'm late, i'm late' off his album, Focus (1997, original recording, 1961).

Monday, April 7, 2008

kathiawadi bhakri and tea

if you know anything about the kathiawad region of gujarat, you will know this rustic peasant flatbread called bhakri. it is made from the most humblest of ingredients - flour, water, salt and ghee or oil. it is made on a round shaped clay pan. when it is cooked on clay, you will notice the texture and taste is very different than when cooked in a nonstick pan. it is slightly blackened in spots and has a nice slightly smoky flavor to it. it is generally served at breakfast with chai.

the method is simple enough - you just mix whole wheat flour with salt, rub in the ghee or oil until it's a little crumbly and mix enough water just to barely bind it together. this should be a firm, crumbly dough.

form into rounds the size of golf balls (about 1/2 cup) and roll into 6-8" rounds and prick with a fork. place on a heated nonstick flat pan on low until brown spots appear approximately for 2 minutes. flip and do the same, making sure the bhakri is cooked through completely. top with ghee or butter and serve.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

tea time

i was at central market the other day and stumbled right smack into these. i had to have them. i just had to. i coveted them for some reason.

i don't know about you, but when i see teas, i am just mesmerized. i want every flavor, every brand. oh, and God help me if it's loose tea. i am so onto that. currently, i have over 17 different teas in the house. i don't know why, it's not as if i drink them all at once, but like the rest of america, i'm a sucker for packaging and whimsy and the freedom of choice.

luckily, i do drink about 6-7 cups of tea daily. one cup of chai every morning and 4 cups of green tea at work, a cup of lychee tea when i get home and start cooking and then a final cup of ginger tea after dinner. needless to say, i spend half the day in the loo. for real. i wonder if my boss notices.

anyways, i picked up the tea in the pink canister because i've never seen rooibos packaged in tea bag form. i've always bought it loose in bulk. and the green one i bought, because i didn't want the pink one to be lonely in my pantry. no, i really bought it because i wanted to see how the "natural stevia leaf" was going to taste in my tea.
these are both grown completely organically and are fair trade to boot.

which i'm just reminded that i saw a stevia plant for sale at my local nursery. that is so awesome! i wonder how many leaves it will take to sweeten my tea? i didn't get it, and now i'm kind of pissed at myself for not buying it at the time. maybe i'll still go back and get it. have any of you ever used it before in it's plant form? i'm so psyched.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

fruits of my neighbor

there is this wonderful old soul who lives next door. this elderly gentleman, we'll call him Ed for now, is so sweet and he is so old school. my husband was working in the yard the other day - because we live in houston, because everything is growing, because it's already in the eighties here.

so while he was working, Ed and his lady friend call him over to their backyard. of course we can't see each other because we have a 6' wooden fence separating us. i was not dressed if you know what i mean, so i just hung back and my husband went off to visit Ed and said lady friend.

and what do you know? they've been quite the busy ones over there. they have a huge garden that's already producing. a beautiful orange tree with the cutest, tangiest little oranges you will ever see. there are flowers and greenery everywhere. anywho, he came back with this bounty. mind you it was just March. isn't he the most awesomest neighbor ever?
so let the composting and digging and renting tillers and buying earthworm castings begin, ooooh it's gonna be so great...