Author: Pavani Tatikola

An Digital Marketer by profession, I love good food, gaming and traveling to places rich in history and culture. I’m not an experienced cook, but being in grad school and away from the cozy comfort of my mom’s home-cooked meals has forced me to up my culinary ante. This blog is mostly me recounting things I find interesting and documenting my journey in the kitchen.

Pokemon Go

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Remember that April fool’s joke Google pulled a while ago? Who would’ve thought it’d be such a major phenomenon. I started playing Pokemon Go a coupla’ days after it came out and boy am I addicted! You will be too, and if you’re not, its high time you join the bandwagon. I’m a newly minted 30 year old, with my child-at-heart and I-won’t-grow-up tendencies in overdrive so thats probably why I’m nuts about the game right now(?), and I’ll tell you why this is SUCH a great addition to my daily routine. (I wish I talked about exercising this way)

1. Bonding time with your Significant Other!

The husband and I are charting out elaborate Pokemon hunting plans and evolution strategies and are spending hours together walking around to catch these cute li’l critters. I gotta admit, that we’re mostly bonding over our frustration when the app freezes, but any bonding is good bonding, no? Also, I get the warmest hugs when I lose a high level CP Pokemon or when something upsetting happens. Bear hugs in the cold, foggy San Franciscan nights are a BIG deal you guys!

2. Exercise

If you are a lazy bum like me, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about going to or training at gyms. Also, you need to walk to hatch some eggs that might contain a rare Pokemon, and that pushed me to get off my couch and walk around and sweat it out. Also, I’ve found some wonderful spots in my neighborhood which I didn’t even know existed. More content for my IG feed y’all.

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3. SO many new friends!

This game facilitates a ton of social interaction amongst introverts and that’s amazing! I’m usually the silent type who’d much rather stay away from crowds and not be amidst loud people who talk too much extroverts. The other day, I was at the university, dropping lures and waiting for some Pokemon to show up and I can’t say much for Pokemon appearing, but a bunch of people started gathering at the lures. We chanced upon a Pikachu and in an instant, 15 strangers were cheering each other on and frantically resorting to throwing curve balls with index fingers to catch the li’l guy; and we were talking like we’re old friends. I never knew social gatherings to be more fun!

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4. Nostalgia, hello!

As a kid, I remember that red cartridge I put into my Gameboy and this game brings back all those memories. There’s nothing like a good dose of nostalgia to get your spirits up and I love how Pokemon Go does that; and the entire augmented reality aspect of it is so exciting!

5. The endless marketing possibilities!!

You can’t expect me to be a marketer and not think of all the creative ways in which businesses could use this app as an aide to boost business or spread buzz. With the app’s user base exceeding that of Twitter, there’s no question it makes for some good real estate for ads, but I’m loving seeing creative ways local businesses are using it to come up with some creative guerilla marketing tactics. Yelp has already started adding a search filter for restaurants that gives you results based on whether theres a Pokestop nearby. I’ve also seen a coupla’ local bars and eateries handing out some cool incentives to PoGo trainers and making most of foot traffic.!

I’m sure as with any game, there are downsides to this also (phone battery life and app crashes aside). Once life’s priorities take over, I might spend lesser time with it, but whilst its still fresh, fun and an active part of our daily routines, lets enjoy the madness 🙂

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Iced Green Tea Latte

A coupla’ days ago, I attended a Bikram yoga class near my place and after 90 mins, I got out of that place red as an apple and absolutely dehydrated. I don’t know if its just me, but what really got to me was the heat in that studio. The poses were relatively slow and simple, but that bloody heat! I swear if I could, I’d punch those idiot heaters in their grate-y little faces. Those last 10 minutes, I really thought I was dying.

I generally don’t lose my cool in public, and I somehow put up a brave front and got through the class, but I swear to you, I was almost about to break down and cry by the end of the class. Also, the fact that the instructor didn’t let another newbie get out of class didn’t help.

I guess it takes a lot of getting used to. I’m a person who loses their shit in hot weather, so yeah, I have a LOT of getting used to to do! Also, I enjoy my yoga sessions in places where’s some ventilation. Nice flow of light and air, and this Bikram yoga environment didn’t really cater to my senses, so I’m bidding adieu to that and am sticking to my Surya Namaskars at home or my local park.

*(I apologize if I’ve offended any bikram yoga lovers out there. I have nothing against the practice. Its me. I can’t do it)

Anyway, after that horrid exhausting yoga session, I ran to the nearest Starbucks to get a cup of the green tea latte, saw the long line and didn’t want to wait, so I quickly rushed home to make myself some. As long as you have some good matcha powder, making this latte is a breeze, way more tasty and less expensive than Starbucks’ version.

Ingredients:

Serving Size –  One 8oz glass full

  • 1.5 tsp Matcha Green tea powder (I’ve used DoMatcha. You can use any matcha of your choice. Got this one just to try it out. I’ve previously used One Organic’s Matcha and it was good too – less expensive, but slightly bitter)
  • 1 tbsp hot water (NOT boiling)
  • 1 cup Vanilla Soy Milk (Or any milk of your choice)
  • Agave Nectar (or any sweetener)
  • Chia seeds or your choice of fruit as a topping
  • Ice

Method:

  • Take some dry matcha powder and add some hot water to it. Whisk until its a lump free liquid
  • To this matcha, add some cold vanilla soymilk, agave nectar and mix. I sometimes use 2% milk, and add a dash of vanilla essence to it
  • Take a tall glass with ice and add the milk+matcha mixture to it
  • Top off with fruit of your choice, some chia seeds and enjoy!

Paneer Arancini

This summer, we’ve been swimming religiously and you know how you get these hankerings for protein right after a good swim? My favorite vegetarian protein source is Paneer. Its amazing as a kebab, or grilled with some spices with a salad on the side, and of course, as a curry! I generally eat an egg for protein or make myself lentil salads, but I’d made Paneer Butter Masala the previous day, and had half a chunk of the cheese left, which I didn’t want sitting in the fridge for too long, only to end up trashing it.

So, to salvage my paneer, I fried up these yummy Paneer Arancini balls to treat myself and here’s the recipe:

Ingredients (makes 10-12 balls):

  • 2 cups grated/crumbled Paneer
  • 1/4 cup Grated Carrots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cabbage
  • 1/4 cup coarsely crushed green peas
  • 1/4 cup coarsely crushed corn
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown or white rice (your main binding agent)
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tsp coriander powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch (also a binder)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

  • Steam the carrots, peas, corn and cabbage and squeeze out the water from the steamed veggies
  • In a bowl, combine the paneer, steamed veggies and all the condiments. Add or subtract spices according to taste
  • Mash the cooked rice and add it and the corn flour to the mixture and start forming balls. We’re making vegetarian balls, which is why I’m using rice and corn starch as a binding agent. You can totally substitute the rice for an egg also. Oh, cooked quinoa works too!
  • heat a pan with some oil and fry the balls in it. These don’t need to cook a lot, so as long as an even golden coloring appears on the balls, you’re good.

There you go, treat yo’ self to these golden beauties (and then go work out)! Quick note – If you’re vegan, you could try substituting the paneer for some firm tofu. You can have these just as is with some ketchup, or toss them in some szechuan sauce and pair ’em with some vegetable hakka noodles.

Typically, arancini balls  have gooey cheesy centers, which I’ve omited here. If you want a cheesy center, add a cube of mozarella or fontina when shaping the balls.

Veggie Frittata

Two weeks ago, I got in touch with an old middle-school friend who’s now a Beachbody Coach, so I can be religious about working out and be accountable to someone. I’m usually flaky about working out and was looking to get back on track with my exercise regime.  I’m so glad I’m doing it with my new coach @revamody! Also, she’s a vegetarian and I finally have a coach who understands how to up my protein content without binge feeding me eggs all the time!

I decided to embark on the 21 Day Fix journey with her and it’s been great so far. The program is not as intense as insanity, but is pretty good. I like how the workouts have some form of weight lifting involved and my favorite part of the program is the container system. The containers are lazy-girl friendly, and its easier for me to keep track of what and how much I’m eating. I also got myself a month’s supply of Shakeology. Its still too early to tell how good or bad Shakeology has been for me, but as of now, I’m liking having some kind of meal replacement shake. I hate spending all my time in the kitchen, and this is super easy to whip up and has protein and a bunch of superfoods in it. So, win-win!

Now, given my weight, my calorie target (per day) is 1,355 Cals. In the 21 Day fix world, that translates to 3 Green, 2 Purple, 3 Red, 3 Yellow, 1 Blue and 1 Orange containers. Since I’m vegetarian and get my protein mostly in the form of lentils/sprouts, I’m subbing 1 red container for 1 yellow one. (Click Here to calculate your calorie target.)

I need Indian food in my diet to be happy, so I usually substitute rice for quinoa and try to come up with easy to make stuff that cuts my time spent slaving in the kitchen to a minimum. Oats dosa is the new diet friendly fad I’m into these days and this is my version with some easy to find ingredients. Loaded with veggies, its healthy, high in fibre and protein and super easy to make. Also, its fussy husband friendly 😛

Ingredients

    • Steel Cut Oats or Multigrain Hot Cereal from Trader Joe’sP1050196
    • Unflavored Protein Powder. I used NOW Foods Whey Protein IsolateP1050200
    • Besan / Chick Pea/ Garbanzo Bean Flour (If unavailable, substitute with canned garbanzo beans)
    • Finely chopped onion, chillies, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers and other veggies of choice
    • Paprika, cumin powder, crushed pepper, Himalayan Salt as needed
    • 1/4 tsp Garam Masala
    • 1 tsp baking soda -or- Eno (fruit salt)

Method

Combine the steel cut oats, hot cereal mix and chick pea flour in a coffee grinder to make a fine powder. If adding garbanzo beans instead, add water to the mixer to make a batter.

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Combine the flour mixture with veggies, spices and protein powder of your choice. Add some baking soda or fruit salt to it, to make the batter fluffy.

Combine the veggies, spices and protein powder

Combine the veggies, spices and protein powder

Veggies combined with the flour mixture

Add the veggies to the flour mixture

Add water to the mix to make a batter. To make the batter fluffy, add 1/2 tsp of baking soda or fruit salt. I used Eno here.

Add water to the mix to make a batter. To make the batter fluffy, add 1/2 tsp of baking soda or fruit salt. I used Eno here.

Spread the batter onto a nonstick pan. Cover and cook until both sides are golden brown and dry.

Spread the batter onto a nonstick pan. Cover and cook until both sides are golden brown and dry. Add a coupla’ drops of oil on the sides to prevent it from sticking to the pan.

Voila, veggie frittata's ready!

Voila, veggie frittata!

And all done! Serve the dosa/frittata with a side of fruit and any chutney. Here, I have a creamy avocado-mint chutney. In the 21 day container system, two pancakes roughly make up –

1 Yellow – The flour mix

1/2 Red – Protein Powder and the chick pea flour

1 Green – Veggies

1/3 Orange – sesame seeds

*Note – To make this recipe vegan, just substitute the whey protein with plant protein

Veggies in Coconut Gravy (Avial)

I was at the Millennium, a vegan/vegetarian restaurant for our anniversary dinner, and this place has a ton of reviews on yelp hailing it as something of a mecca for vegan food and somesuch. I personally didn’t really enjoy the food so much. I do appreciate the chef’s varied menu, but whatever we got was bland, cardboady, and lost under a ton of raw leaves. Its more the kind of food the hipster food-snobs would like, I guess. What I was really disappointed with, was that the food brought out to the table didn’t really seem as ‘much’ as it did on the menu. Good thing we got a few rounds of drinks to wash our ‘ethically sourced’, ‘trade free’ and other fancy worded stuff from exotic sounding places down!

I wanted to make it up to my disappointed tastebuds and cooked up this really easy vegetable stew – Avial the next day. This is a recipe native to the southern state of India, Kerala, and is healthy, has a plethora of veggies thrown in and little to no oil, all in some amazing coconut and yogurt gravy! Here’s my take on this

Ingredients

  • Carrots
  • Beetroots
  • Winter Melon/ Ash Gourd
  • Peanuts soaked in water for 4-6 hours
  • Green Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Ivy gourd (This is my most favorite veggie and I usually find this either fresh or frozen in Indian Stores
  • French Beans
  • 5-6 Curry Leaves
  • Salt to taste

Masala

  • 1 heaped cup of fresh coconut
  • 1.5 tbsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
  • 1.5 or 2 Thai Chillies
  • Yogurt

Tempering

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida Powder (Available in most Indian stores or Here. Can skip this if you don’t have any)

The veggies listed above are what I used, you can either add to them or omit some.
Add all the cut vegetables and the curry leaves to a large pan. In this recipe, I have about 5 cups of vegetables. To the veggies, add about 1/2 cup water and salt as necessary. I’m using winter melon, which has a lot of water in it, so 1/2 a cup of water works for this recipe. If you’re not using a vegetable that has a lot of water content, you can up the water to about 1 cup.

Vegetables

Winter Melon, Peanuts, Carrots, Green Peas, Beetroot, French Beans and Ivy Gourd

Once the veggies are set to steam, we work on the masala. Lightly dry roast the cumin seeds and grind them along with the chillies, coconut and yogurt to make a paste. Add this masala to the veggies once they’re 3/4th done. Mix everything together and adjust salt accordingly.

Coconut, roasted Cumin and Green Chillies

Coconut, roasted Cumin and Green Chillies

Masala

Grinding the coconut, chillies and cumin with some yogurt

Once the vegetables are fully cooked, start preparing the tempering. Take a small pan, and add 1 tsp of coconut oil to it. Once it heats up, add the mustard seeds and wait for them to splutter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida powder and quickly pour the tempering onto the vegetable mixture. Cover the curry with a lid after adding the tempering.

Cooking the steamed veggies in the coconut and yogurt masala

Adding tempering to the veggies in the coconut and yogurt masala. Love the pretty pink color imparted by the beetroot!

Serve the curry with some hot steaming rice or rotis. This curry complements brown rice or quinoa extremely well too! To make this recipe vegan, simply omit the yogurt in the coconut masala.

chicken taco with mini naan

Mini Naan Tacos

I’m currently obsessed with the mini-naans we get at Costco these days. They’re adorably sized, quick to heat up and are extremely useful when you’re either trying to feed a fussy husband or are running short on time and want to whip something up real fast. I almost always make a punjabi curry when I buy this bread, but I mostly love these guys for the amazing sandwiches/tacos/pizzas they make.

Here’s what I’m talking about –

mini naan

Borrowed this picture from Pass the Peas Please blog where Camie has used these naans and some basil pesto to dole out an amazing pesto cheese pizza!

The only downside to these naans are that they’re made with refined flour(maida), so not much fibre in there; but I compensate for the lack of it by filling up the bread with some fibre-rich stuff.

In this post, I’ll be sharing a really quick and easy chicken taco recipe. I’m not a meat eater, so I can’t really say how they tasted, but the husband seemed to relish them, and I’m going to interpret that as the tacos being yummy 🙂

Ingredients(Makes 3 Tacos):

      Chicken Filling

    • Your Favorite cold cut. I use the Columbus Rotisserie Style Chicken Breast from Trader Joes
    • Mc. Cormick’s Taco Seasoning Mix
    • 1 tbsp Yogurt
    • Salt to taste
    • Half a lime

In case, you can’t lay your hands on the taco seasoning, you can substitute it with a mixture of ginger-garlic paste, pepper, paprika powder, salt, turmeric, cumin powder and a pinch of garam masala

      Avocado Chutney/Salsa

    • Quarter of an Avocado
    • One thai chili (less or more, depending on your ability to eat spice)
    • 1/2 Garlic pod
    • 8-10 sprigs of cilantro (or mint leaves -OR- both!)
    • 1 – 2 tsp lemon juice
    • 2 tsp yogurt
    • Salt to taste

You can make guacamole instead of this chutney, but my husband is not an avocado fan, so this is my way of feeding him some!

      Toppings:

    • Thinly shredded Purple or white Cabbage (remember the part where I said I’d up the fibre?)
    • Julienned white onion, and bell peppers (I love using the mini sweet bell peppers)
    • Chopped up cilantro
    • Alfalfa Sprouts
    • cucumber
    • Cheese (I love colby jack)

I usually marinate the bell peppers in a mixture of salt, paprika and lime for about 5 mins just to make them a little more juicy and flavorful. If you like eating them crunchy and raw, you can totally omit this step
Method:

  • Mix together the taco seasoning, lime and yogurt to form a paste. Rub it onto 4 chicken cold cuts and leave aside to marinate for about 5-10 minutes.
  • While the chicken is marinating, prep your veggies and sprinkle some salt and lemon juice on them, or just let them stay crunchy, depending on how you like ’em
  • Make the avocado chutney/salsa by blending all the ingredients listed above to a smooth paste in a blender. If the chutney feels too thick, add some water to thin it out
  • Time to cook the chicken now. Don’t worry if the cuts lose their shape and break off. We want the chicken filling to be chopped up into small shreds anyway. On a small skillet, add about 1 tsp of oil and once hot, add to it the marinated chicken. Add about a tablespoon of water, cover and cook for around 2-3 minutes, until you feel like the chicken’s done. The mixture usually takes on a nice reddish-brown color, and that should tell you its done. The cold cuts are already cooked, so this doesn’t need too much cooking. Add more salt if you like and taste to see if done. Make sure you don’t overcook it, or it’ll turn rubbery.

Assembly:

  • Prepping the naan: Heat the oven to 350F and sprinkle some water on the naan. Lay them on a baking tray and pop them into the hot oven for a minute and a half. 45 seconds on each side, and you’re naan is ready.Spread some avocado chutney onto the naan, add the chicken and top it off with the veggies and cheese.

There you have it, chicken ‘tacos’ ready to be dug into!

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To make Veggie Tacos, I substitute the chicken with some home made paneer cheese/ boiled potato salad and some peanut salsa. Recipe coming soon!

Tiramisu!

Tiramisu

Fourth of July weekend, the husband and I drove down to the Napa Vineyards and brought home our favorite dessert wine from the Robert Mondavi Winery, the Moscato D’Oro. I decided to make some zucchini pasta and some tiramisu to pair with the Moscato.

I don’t like the idea of raw eggs in my tiramisu, so I decided to make do without the eggs in this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of Mascarpone Cheese (softened to room temperature)
  • 1½ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 cup of Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 ½ cups of Espresso, cooled  (Tip – To make things easier, grab some espresso from your nearest coffee shop)
  • 1 Tbsp Kahlua
  • 1 Tbsp of Bailey’s Irish Creme
  • 2 Tbsp of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 30 Ladyfingers (preferably Italian Savoiardi, not the soft sponge-cakey lady fingers you get at the stores)

Method:

In a large mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream till it forms soft peaks and set in the fridge while you’re prepping the other stuff.

In another bowl, take the room temperature Mascarpone cheese and into it, add the sugar and vanilla extract. Mix them together. Now get the whipped cream out of the fridge and fold in half of it into the mascarpone mixture. Add the remaining cream and fold everything together. The cream must be airy, so be sure not to over-mix.

Pour the espresso into a bowl big enough to dunk the savoiardi into, and add to it, the coffee and alcohol. Take a 9″x 9″ square dish ( I used a Pyrex dish). Dip each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture and lay it in your dish. To make sure the lady fingers don’t get too soggy, make sure you dip them in the mixture only for a second.

After lining the bottom of the dish with the coffee and rum soaked ladyfingers, spread half of the mascarpone cream mixture evenly on top and sprinkle cocoa powder onto the spread mixture. Lay another layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers on top, and spread the remaining mascarpone mixture onto it.

Sprinkle the cream with some cocoa powder and shaved chocolate and refrigerate the Tiramisu for 4-6 hours or overnight. There you have it – Easiest dessert ever, and goes excellent with some Moscato 🙂

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*For a child friendly Tiramisu, omit the coffee and dip the savoiardi into a mixture of cocoa and milk.