Paint the World Red with La Tomatina Festival

The great cultural extravaganza Spanish food fight festival, La Tomatina is here. Hope you enjoyed my last year’s tomato and meat recipe, Meatballs with Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce. The fest gets popular from year to year with the streets of Bunol running blood red with juicy tomato. The festival is welcomed by singing, dancing, parades, fireworks etc.

The festival is complete fun but let’s adhere to the rules as well. Just have a look:-

-Bring your goggles to avoid acidic tomato pulp going into the eyes

-Squish tomatoes before throwing on one another such that it does not hurt anyone

-Avoid bottles and other sharp objects

-Girls must wear bikini underneath clothes

-Wear tight and strong shoes.

Let’s add some more spice to La Tomatina with Spicy Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Tortellini Soup

Spicy Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Tortellini Soup
Spicy Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Tortellini Soup

Ingredients:-

1 Clove Garlic,

Salt as required,

6 oz. fresh Tortellini,

1 quart Chicken Broth,

8 leaves chopped Basil,

1 chopped Green Chilly,

10 oz. chopped Spinach,

Black Pepper as required,

2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter,

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano,

14 oz. canned diced fire Roasted Tomatoes with liquid.

Preparation Method:-

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan. Put over medium-high heat. Add garlic, chillies and saute until fragrant. This takes two minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

  2. Now add tortellini and cook halfway for two minutes. Add canned tomatoes and their liquid. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook until the tortellini is soft.

  3. Stir fry spinach and basil in butter for five minutes on simmer. Add this and cheese in soup and cook for 2 minutes.

  4. Serve hot! I love pairing the soup with cheese and garlic bread. What do you pair it with?

Tomatina Festival, Bunol, Spain
Tomatina Festival, Bunol, Spain

Enjoy La Tomatina!

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Add Colors on Independence day with Chicken Dopiaza

Hey pals! How are you doing? Hope you have enjoyed my vegetarian recipe, Dal Makhni (Black Lentils, Red Kidney Beans and Indian Spices Gravy). India is not only popular because of it’s vegetarian recipes but non-vegetarian delights equally rule over the heart of millions. I am preparing Chicken Dopiaza today, wherein Hindi language “Do” means two and “piaza” means onion. Nevertheless Chicken Dopiaza is all about the rich chicken gravy with prominent flavors of onions. Not only this but “Lamb Dopiaza” is one of the most demanded curries in Indian homes and restaurants. I have used Garam Masala (Indian Powdered Ready-made Spices) here. It is available on general stores pretty easily. I also have a remedy for it if it isn’t available.

Spicy Chicken Do Pyaza!
Spicy Chicken Do Pyaza!

Garam masala is powdered mixture of black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and mace, black and green cardamom pods, bay leaf and cumin seeds. Hence you can prepare it easily at home to enjoy real flavors of any spicy Indian recipe. I have already kept a bottle at my home, you don’t require grinding these ingredients each time. Just like Dal Makhni, this recipe is best paired with Naan (oven baked flatbread), lacha parantha (multi-layered fried North Indian flatbread) or steamed rice, if you are a rice eater just like me. I also like pairing it with Dry Fruit Fried Rice or Kashmiri Pulao. You must try this recipe also, rice lovers are gonna love it, I can bet. Let’s add some more colors and spice on the India’s Independence day with “Chicken Dopiaza”.

Ingredients:-

4 diced Onions,

1 teaspoon Salt,

8 Chicken Thighs,

2 chopped Tomatoes,

4 tablespoons Yoghurt,

3 chopped Garlic Cloves,

½ tablespoon Chilli Powder,

1 tablespoon of Mustard Oil,

1 teaspoon ground Turmeric,

½ tablespoon Garam Masala,

1 tablespoon Coriander Seeds,

1 1/2 tablespoons grated Ginger,

1 tablespoon Cumin Seeds Powder.

Preparation Method:-

  1. Blend onions, ginger and garlic. Set aside. Take a pan and heat oil. Put in the sliced onions and fry until golden brown. Remove the onions and set aside.

  2. Remove pan from the heat. Add the blended onion paste. Place the pan back on heat. Keep stirring the paste for 3 minutes, till it turns golden brown.

  3. Add coriander, cumin, turmeric plus chilli powder. Stir well. Add in two tablespoon of yogurt. Mix well. Add chicken. Stir for a minute. Let chicken be well coated with the spicy mixture in the pan.

  4. Add in tomatoes and salt. Stir thoroughly. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Sprinkle over garam masala and fried onions. Cook till the chicken is completely cooked.

  5. Serve with naan, lacha parantha or steamed rice.

Happy Independence Day!
Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Celebrate Independence Day with Dal Makhni

15 August plays very important role for Indians. Overthrowing colonial British rule led to India’s tryst with destiny, which was a major speech delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. Independence day is also celebrated in New York and other major cities in US. It is observed that more than 50,000 Indians showcase and enjoy the colors of their cultural extravaganza in New York City wherein dance performances are among the highlights of the programme. The atmosphere is nevertheless charged with vibrancy and festive spirit of Indian culture. If such is the spirit of Indians in US, imagine the celebration throughout India.

Dal Makhni
Dal Makhni

We may not be present there but we can definitely taste popular delicacy of India and cheers for Indians. So let’s prepare Dal Makhni or Daal Makhni. To add onto this, I am very fond of Indian recipes. Hope you have tried Traditional Rajasthani red meat recipe. Dal Makhni is a spicy and heavy vegetarian recipe prepared of black lentil, red kidney beans, butter, heavy cream and lots of Indian spices. It is best paired with Naan (oven baked flatbread), lacha parantha (multi-layered fried North Indian flatbread) or plain boiled rice, if you are a rice eater just like me.

Dal Makhni (Black Lentils, Red Kidney Beans and Indian Spices Gravy)

Ingredients:-

4 cups Water,

Salt as required,

1 chopped Onion,

2 chopped Tomatoes,

6 cloves minced Garlic,

1 tablespoon Salted Butter,

1 teaspoon Cumin Powder,

½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder,

½ teaspoon Red Chili Powder,

3 tablespoons Full Fat Cream,

1 tablespoon shredded Ginger,

½ cup Red Kidney Beans (Rajma),

1 cup Whole Black Gram (Urad dal),

3 tablespoons Clarified butter (Ghee),

1 tablespoon Garam Masala (Indian Powdered Ready-made Spices).

Preparation Method:-

  1. Soak whole black lentils and red kidney beans overnight. Take a pressure cooker. Add all the ingredients with water.

  2. Pressure cook with 15 whistles. Let the cooker cool. Check if the lentils are cooked. Check by mashing them up with spoon. They must easily mash.

  3. If not cooked thoroughly, again pressure cook for 3 whistles more with 2 cups of water. Now again open the cooker, after cooling. Let the dal simmer in the cooker for 15 minutes. By this time, you achieve smooth and creamy consistency.

  4. Add one tablespoon of cream if desired. Simmer for 5 minutes more. Add on salted butter while serving.

  5. Serve with Naan, Lacha Patantha or Steamed Rice.

Happy Independence Day!
Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Enjoy Chicken Korma on Eid-ul-Fitr

Hey pals! What’s up? Hope you enjoyed my sugar feast, Baklava for Id-ul-Fitr. Here I come with a special dinner recipe called Chicken Korma. Korma is a Muglai specialty. DYK it is AKA (also known as) qorma, kormaa, khorma or kurma. Meat braised in extra spicy sauce and mixed with yogurt, cream and nuts, makes the family dinner table really tempting with this exotic treat. The recipe can be best paired with Naan or Kashmiri Rice. There are many more recipes related to this special occasion like Mutton Biryani, which is definitely an ace and the one I have already shared with you. Other delights include:-

-Sevai Kheer (Dessert)

-Haleem

-Chicken Tikka

-Roasted Chicken with Cranberries Rice

-Lamb Bhuna (Roasted Lamb Curry)

Reshmi Kebabs

So I guess you have a bundle of meaty and sweet treat which you can definitely try on this long weekend.

Chicken Korma

Chicken Korma
Chicken Korma

Ingredients:-

2 Onions,

3 Tomatoes,

2 Green Chilies,

2 teaspoons Salt,

1 kg diced Chicken,

5 Black Peppercorns,

2 tablespoons Yogurt,

2 tablespoons Cream,

1 teaspoon Lemon Juice,

2 teaspoons Garlic Paste,

2 Black Cardamom Pods,

2 teaspoons Ginger Paste,

1 teaspoon Garam Masala,

1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder,

1 tablespoons Mustard Oil,

2 teaspoons Almond Paste.

Preparation Method:-

  1. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. The heat must be medium high. Saute the sliced onions till they turn out to be golden brown.

  2. Add ginger, garlic, chili, mixed spices, salt, cardamom, and peppercorns and mix well. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the mixture. Also add almond paste. You can add tomato paste as well.

  3. Stir this mixture well for three minutes. Add the chicken and fry on high heat and coat the chicken mixture with the spices.

  4. Reduce heat to low and cover. Let the chicken cook for 25 minutes. Add yogurt, lemon juice and chilies. Let cook on low heat for another 20 minutes.

  5. Serve with Kashmiri Pulao or Naan!

Best Wishes!
Best Wishes!

Happy Eid-ul-Fitr!


Celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with Baklava

A much awaited Muslim festival is here. DYK that Eid is known by different names in different countries? It is known as Ramazan Bayram which means Ramadan Feast or Seker Bayram meaning Sugar Feast in Turkey. People chiefly enjoy the dessert called “Baklava”, which is also our recipe for this auspicious occasion. Elder people are kissed on their right hand denoting special regards and respect for them. In  Philippines, which is basically a Christian country, Eid is considered as a national holiday and is known as Wakas ng Ramadan.

Yummy Baklava!
Yummy Baklava!

In Indonesia, Eid-ul-Fitr is called Idul Fitri or Lebaran. Muslims pay visit to the resting place of their dear ones and pray so that their souls can rest in peace. Muslims in Africa also celebrate Eid with great pomp and show, feasting throughout Ramazan with their family, friends and ofcourse delectable food such as Mutton Biryani. Now I’m hungry 😛 . Baklava is a popular dessert of  Middle East. It is basically a sweet and rich pastry made up of layers of filo. It is stuffed with chopped nuts. It is assembled or held together by honey or sugar syrup. So without any waste of time, let’s start the sugar feast with a sugar dessert. Here we go!

Ingredients:-

¾ cup Water,

½ cup Honey,

2 sticks Butter,

1 cup granulated Sugar,

4 cups chopped Walnuts,

16 oz thawed Phyllo Dough,

2 tablespoons Lemon Juice,

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

For Garnishing:-

2 tablespoons chopped Walnuts for garnishing,

2 tablespoons chopped Pistachios for garnishing.

Preparation Method:-

  1. Thaw baklava as per package directions. Refrigerate overnight. Place it on the kitchen slab for 1 hour before you start preparing the recipe.

  2. Trim phyllo dough for fitting the baking dish. You can trim one stack at a time. Then cover it with a damp towel to keep it from drying out. Moist bottom and sides of dish with melted butter.

  3. Prepare honey sauce now. In a saucepan, add ½ cup honey, 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and ¾ cup water. Bring it to boil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes. Let it cool.

  4. For Preparing Baklava:- Preheat oven to 325 D. F. Grind walnuts in a food processor till finely chopped. Take a bowl and add 4 cups walnuts and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

  5. Place 10 phyllo sheets in baking pan one by one. Brush each sheet with butter. Keep phyllo covered with damp towel. Spread ⅕ of walnut mixture over phyllo dough.

  6. Add 5 buttered sheets of phyllo, then layer of nuts. Then add rest 5 sheets. Brush the top with melted butter. Cut pastry into 1½ inches wide strips, in rectangular shape as shown. Bake at 325 D. F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

  7. Remove from oven. Immediately add the cooled syrup uniformly over the hot baklava. Let baklava cool completely. Keep overnight as such so that syrup is fully absorbed.

  8. Garnish with walnuts and pistachios. Serve!

Best Wishes!
Best Wishes!

Happy Eid-ul-Fitr!

Stubborn Food for a Stubborn Lady – Khichri

Think of a word for those who don’t leave their house. Most of us or I should say almost all of us will go for “Lazy”. But, under different conditions, when a person says “I am not leaving this God Damn House” then that person is known as a “Holdout”. Government or private firms try to woo such people by offering them millions of dollars for their land. That piece of land might not be large enough but crucial enough for that project. Many go for those million dollars but a few become “Holdouts”. One such story is of Deepti Sen living in West Bengal, India. Deepti stayed on rent at our place as she had her project for 6 months (in the year 2011). She became a good friend of mine and has an interesting story associated to her. The girl and her parents were offered huge money for their house in Bengal. Builders wanted that piece of land for a commercial project. However, she was least interested in money and said “No”. This was her 108 year old ancestors farmhouse. She has seen a lot of in this house. This house must be more living for her than other things. In the end, what we cling on to are the memories. They may be good ones or bad ones but once you are over them, they are memories, beyond good and bad.

Khichri
Khichri

Deepti had been to many places, but that farmhouse was always something she looked forward to. The most living thing among the living ones. She said that she won’t leave that house until her death. She was stubborn enough and didn’t leave that house and so is this food for today’s menu – Khichri. That’s a good recipe I learnt from her. Khichri has been in South Asian meals, especially India for centuries and will be there forever. With Eid-ul-Fitar coming ahead also check my recipe Mutton Biryani. For today, let’s try vegetable Khichri, loved by Asians especially Indians. Khichri is served with papad. Papad is a thin and crisp disc shaped Indian and Pakistani food. It is based on seasoned dough which is made up of black gram flour (urad daal flour). It is fried or prepared with heat. Many kinda flours are used for the same eg. lentils, rice, tapioca, chickpeas, potato etc. We get prepared papad in markets of India and Pakistan. All we needa do is fry or heat the discs and serve immediately. It’s chiefly popular in India. Nevertheless other countries enjoy it too. If you ask me why South Asian recipe? It’s because my research for Dragon Boat Race festival showed me a lot of new recipes.

Ingredients:-

4 Cloves,

1 Bay Leaf,

2/3 cup Rice,

4 Curry Leaves,

3¼ cups Water,

Salt as required,

1 chopped Onion,

1 small Cinnamon Stick,

1/3 cup Split Yellow Gram,

1/4 teaspoon Cumin Seeds,

2 tablespoons Clarified Butter,

1 cup chopped Mix Vegetables,

1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder,

Black Peppercorns as required,

1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder.

Preparation Method:-

  1. Wash and soak rice plus split yellow gram (Chana daal) in water for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain and keep aside. Dice mix vegetables (carrots, beans, potatoes). Also use peas.

  2. Heat clarified butter in a deep pan over medium flame. Add 3¼ cups water to boil. When clarified butter is hot enough, add cinnamon, black peppercorn, curry leaves, cumin seeds, cloves and bay leaves. Stir for 40 seconds.

  3. Add chopped onion, saute until it turns golden brown. Add mixed vegetables. Saute for 3 minutes, reducing the heat. Now add soaked rice, daal, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well and saute for another 3 minutes.

  4. Add water and cover it with a lid. Simmer for 20 minutes over low flame. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Keep the pan after turning of the flame for 5 minutes to cool a bit. Serve hot.

  5. You can also prepare the recipe in pressure cooker, using 2 whistles such that it is completely cooked. Cool the cooker for 5 minutes after the second whistle.

  6. Garnish with tomato as shown. Serve hot with Papad and Pickle!

Services_Main_Amazing-India_Collage
Indian Culture

Enjoy the treat!


Dragon’s Zongzi – Food for Health

Name a festival celebrated by many but with different stories of its evolution? There are a lot of them and this goes on to prove that though we have different stories, we reach the same end or a beginning, may be. However, in China you call it “Duanwu Festival” AKA The Dragon Boat Festival. Chinese have this ancient thing with Dragons – I guess we all do. According to Chinese mythology, Dragons are evolution ancestor of humans and control Water, Rainfall, Hurricanes and Floods. They are the symbol of power, strength and good luck. If we look closely, we realise that every important thing which can affect our lives is either controlled or represented by Dragons- they do matter a lot. Stories behind Dragon Boat Race fest are quite amusing. One story says, “Qu Yuan”, a poet and minister committed suicide by drowning in river due to a disagreement with the King.

Zongzi
Zongzi

His followers searched for him with their boats – hence the Dragon Boat race- and threw rice dumplings – the food of this blog- so that fishes won’t eat Yuan and go for rice instead. Other one says a girl named “Cao E” jumped in river to save her drowning father but both of them drowned instead. So this day is to remember her sacrifice. I see Duanwu as a festival to celebrate and respect sacrifice. On this day people go for the Dragon Boat race(obviously!), wear perfumed medicine bags, MAKE AN EGG STAND at Noon and eat ZONGZI with realgar wine. Even you should try to make an egg stand at noon and get good luck for the next year! All in all people pray for a healthy and happy life. Chinese food is my all time favorite. Since this festival is in June, let’s try Zongzi for a healthier, safer and a ‘Food Full’ year.

Ingredients:-

4 Strings,

4 Mushrooms,

100 gms Abalone,

4 salted Egg Yolks,

4 Japanese Conpoy,

600 gms Green Beans,

600 gms Glutinous Rice,

4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce,

280 gms chopped Pork Belly,

1/2 Tablespoon Five-spice Powder,

4 dried round large size Lotus Leaves.

Preparation Method:-

1. Soak rice and green beans for 5 hours. Then drain. Now soak mushrooms and Japanese conpoy for 2 hours. Drain well.

2. Marinate the pork belly with five-spice powder plus soy sauce for 2 hours. Lay down the lotus leaf on table with stem side facing down. Place rice in the centre of the leaf.

3. Add the marinated pork, Japanese conpoy, mushroom, abalone, salted egg yolk and green beans on top of rice. Add glutinous rice until the filling is covered.

4. Carefully wrap four sides of lotus leaf over the filling in a cone shape. Tie tightly with help of a string. Place zongzi in boiling water. Cover and cook for 3 hours. Serve hot!

Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival

Enjoy the fest!

Buddhism and Thukpa – Keep it Simple

The fundamental precept of Buddhism is Interdependence or the Law of Cause and Effect. This simply states that everything which an individual being experiences is derived through action and experience. From this understanding are derived the Buddhist theories of consciousness and rebirth”. That’s how the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso explains Buddhism in his autobiographical book “Freedom in Exile”. If I were to simply decipher those lines written above, it’d be – whatever you do, its consequences will follow you. If you do good, then you’ll meet good and if you do something bad, then of course you know what. It’s Karma. Since this blog is about food – well I should say since I am a foodie – we’ll diverge slowly towards food.

Thukpa Recipe
Thukpa Recipe

The way he described Tibet and its beauty is exceptional. Though I have never been to Tibet but I can somehow get a feel of that place – Mountains, snow, people still living that simple life contrary to their neighbor. Though Tibet has changed, thanks to China. I won’t get into political things. Tibet’s temperature – which is quite cold – gives it a unique cuisine. It’s mainly meat and butter – you need calories, a lot of calories and heat. Being Dalai Lama is about being simple, keeping simple and at times eating simple and healthy recipes. As a kid, the 14th Dalai Lama loved the visits from her mother to the Potala Palace. This is a palace where he was kept separated from his family to become a spiritual leader in the future. Apart from motherly love, there is one more reason he loved such visits – Thukpa. Best part is that you can add in veggies of your choice. Let’s make this Tibetan noodle soup and try to make it good else Karma will haunt us!

Ingredients:

For Thukpa:-

Salt as required,

Pepper as required,

Coriander as required,

300 gms Rice Noodles,

100 gms sliced Carrots,

½ sliced Red Capsicum,

1.5 litres Chicken Stock,

300 gms diced Chicken,

2 pieces Green Onions,

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice,

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil.

For Spice Paste:-

1 chopped green chilli,

1 chopped small onion,

2 chopped garlic cloves,

1 teaspoon ground cumin,

1 pinch asafoetida powder,

1 teaspoon chopped ginger,

½ teaspoon ground turmeric,

200 gms chopped tomatoes,

¼ teaspoon ground timur powder.

Preparation Method:-

  1. First of all make spice paste. Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Set aside.

  2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add spice paste and cook, stir for 7 minutes. Pour in chicken stock. Bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add chicken thigh and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from stock and shred roughly.

  3. In the mean time bring 2 litres of water to boil in a large saucepan. Add rice noodles. Cook for 2 minutes. Place in huge strainer and pour cold water over it such that noodles don’t stick to each other. Drain water and set noodles aside.

  4. Add carrot and capsicum to stock. Simmer for 3 minutes until vegetables are a bit tender. Add lemon juice and season to taste.

  5. Divide the noodles in bowls. Top with chicken. Ladle stock and vegetables over the noodles. Serve!

Kathmandu Temple
Kathmandu Temple

Healthy and Happy Eating!

Food for A Soldier on Memorial Day

John F. Kennedy says, “my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. This reminds us of nothing but Memorial day. I was watching this movie Saving Private Ryan and like always, cried. Whenever I watch war movies – though I don’t watch frequently – I feel angry as well as sad. Angry because we lose young soldiers to a war which has no end. Sad because we just lose them forever. Not only here in America, I guess this is the story of most of the countries where soldiers sacrifice their life. However, their death never goes in vain. We feel proud of our soldiers who die for their country so that we can live on to sing songs for them.

Beef and Pasta Salad
Beef and Pasta Salad

We actually do that by celebrating Memorial Day every year on the last Monday of May. This day has become a part of America’s culture with its long history. It is an emotional day as we remember those soldiers who came back home, with the national flag over their coffins. But we humans are so good at getting adapted to situations that we remember them with smiling faces. We adapt, we accept and we survive. This is good, isn’t it? Soldiers leave home for months and sometimes years. They are away from home, family and that “homely” food – I hate stuffing my food love everywhere. Let’s try this simple and healthy recipe for not so simple soldiers.

Steak and Pasta Salad

Ingredients:-

8 ounces Pasta,

1 teaspoon Basil,

2 tablespoon Butter,

1 pound Beef Steak,

2 tablespoons Olive Oil,

1 cup chopped Spinach,

1 tablespoon Soy Sauce,

1/4 cup chopped Shallots,

1 teaspoon minced Garlic,

1/2 cup sliced Black Olives,

1/2 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes,

1 tablespoon chopped Parsley,

1/2 cup crumbled Feta Cheese,

3 tablespoons Sunflower Kernels.

Preparation Method:-

1. Take a pot. Add in water and bring the water to boil. Add pasta and cook till done. When cooked, drain. Then toss with olive oil and keep warm. In the mean time, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat.

2. Broil the rib-eye from both sides. Make sure it is cooked well depending on the thickness of the meat. Remove steak from skillet. Cut into bite size pieces. Melt remaining butter in the skillet. Stir in garlic and shallots.

3. Cook for 12 seconds until fragrant. Then return the steak to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes till done. Stir in the soy sauce. Cook till steaks are well coated with sauce.

4. Remove the skillet from heat. Stir in the sun-dried tomato pesto, spinach, basil, parsley, olives, feta cheese and kernels. Toss with the pasta. Serve in large family bowl.

Memorial Day
Memorial Day

Let’s salute our brave soldiers.

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