Food

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.

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!

P1030980

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 🙂

P1030748

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

Aloo Paratha

" What's 'taters precious, what's 'taters, eh?
Po-tay-toes. Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew "

Well the one thing Sam Not-so-wise forgot to mention are Parathas! Good ol’ taters make for amazing, yummy bread aka Parathas. In India, we call ’em Aloo Paratha. Deconstruct the bread, and you have some yummy potato curry stuffed into whole wheat dough. Nutritionwise – you’ve got your daily dose of fibre and some good carbs. Yup, potatoes are good carbs. They have potassium, Vitamins B1 and B6, folates and even Vit C and  some fibre too! So eat my lovelies, eat your potatoes. (Just, er..don’t OD on them, too much of anything is bad *wink*)

Here’s my version of the good ol’ ‘Tater Parathas. How I go about making this yummy thing is to make the stuffing first and then some dough to stuff it into.

Ingredients for Stuffing:
Chopped Onions: 1/4 Cup
2 (or more) Green chillies
1″ Ginger
2-3 Garlic Pods
2 Medium sized potatoes, boiled and grated (roughly 1-1.5 cups)
Cumin Seeds (Jeera): 1 tsp
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Dhania (Coriander/ Curry Powder): 1 tbsp
Red Chilli Powder/Paprika/ Chili Flakes -and- Salt: According to taste
A pinch or half a pinch of Garam Masala (optional)
Some fresh Cilantro and half a lime/ lemon
(All the proportions of the ingredients are based according to my taste. If you want to up the onions, or the garlic, go for it! The paratha’s gonna be just fine)

For the Dough (Makes 4 Parathas):
Whole Wheat Flour (I used Aashirvad Atta we get in Indian stores, which I’m pretty sure is not entirely gluten free. So If you’re allergic to gluten, please use gluten free whole wheat flour)
2-4 tbsp of oil (any kind)
Lukewarm Water

Method:
Heat a pan and add about 1-2 tsp of oil to it.Once hot enough, add some cumin seeds and once they start spluttering, add in the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste.
P1030548

Stir this around till the paste is slightly golden brown and then add onions
P1030549
Once the onions are translucent, whip out the handy little masala box and add some cumin powder, turmeric powder, coriander(curry)powder, paprika and salt to taste. You can also add a very tiny pinch of Garam Masala to add some dimension to the mixture
P1030551

Saute the mixture for another 2 minutes till the onion is golden brown and then add in the grated, boiled potato
P1030552
Mix everything together, cover it and cook for about 2-3 minutes. (Adjust salt accordingly). Once done, turn off the flame, add some freshly chopped cilantro and add a dash of lime juice. Once cooled, make golf ball sized balls and keep aside (Keep tasting the mixture, and add/don’t add lime – remember, its all about how you want it to taste)
P1030554

Next, we prepare the dough. Get some flour (you can also use refined flour if you like, but you won’t get any fibre) and mix in 2 tbsp of oil and some salt to it.
P1030570

To the dry mixture, slowly keep adding lukewarm water till the dough is kneadable and soft. Coat on a dash of oil onto the kneaded dough, cover and set it aside for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and divide the dough into 4 golf ball sized spheres.
P1030575

Take the dough-ball and start rolling it out. Make sure the center is thick and you’re rolling out along the edges, so the edges should be thinning down as you roll out. Place the potato mixture onto the rolled-out dough and pull the dough upward to cover the potato mixture like a pouch and pinch off the excess like in the picture below. Once that’s done, the paratha is ready to roll (pun intended)
P1030576P1030578
P1030581P1030582

Sprinkle some flour onto the worksurface and place the pinched side of the ball down and start rolling it out. Keep dusting with flour so the paratha doesn’t stick to the surface and roll out till you can see the mixture peeking through the dough
P1030580

Heat a griddle and transfer the paratha onto it. As it cooks, brush some olive oil or ghee onto the side facing up and flip the paratha over. Brush the oil/grease onto the other side and let cook till golden brown spots appear on both sides. (Little oil/ghee is good for you, so put it on your paratha. Ghee speeds up digestion and is healthier than butter. It also works as a catalyst and helps your body absorb vitamins and minerals from food better. So a tablespoon a day of ghee is actually good. Ghee’s available in most Indian stores and even Trader Joes is carrying it these days. So, pretty easy to lay your hands on a bottle)
P1030572

And voila! your paratha is ready! Team this with a dollop of spiced yogurt or raita, mint chutney or even plain ol’ tomato ketchup!
P1030583