Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mango Chutney

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The one thing that I am worried about these days are the gas prices. My oh my.. are they jumping high every day. Seems like there is no ceiling on them.And so the cost of everything else also seems to plummet.  Specially the fresh produce. At such times I try to look for in-season produce. Like these gorgeous mangoes that I picked up last week. They looked neglected sitting in one corner of the aisle. Apparently they are not very popular amongst the local folks, out here at least. But me, I love mangoes - both the ripe and unripe ones. Fortuantely Vijay also shares this love with me. The ripe, juicy ones are almost immediately enjoyed while the unripe ones take their place in chutneys. Like the one here...

 This recipe comes from my mom. She would make it frequently during the Mar-April months with the raw, green mangoes (called "kairi" in marathi), found just before the ripe alphonsos or haapus hit the market. So when I asked her for the recipe this week she was pleasantly surprised."Its only Feb, How have you got the mangoes so soon" she asked.
Back to the recipe for today. I used a special pickle masala blend from K-Pra. Its just a mix of chilli powder, mustard powder and asafoetida. But it will taste great even without it. 

Mango Chutney

1 unripe mango grated ( one that is slightly sour would be perfect )
1 red onion finely chopped
1 tsp pickle masala (optional)
2 tsp chilli powder ( reduce for less heat )
salt to taste
1 tsp grated jagger or gur (substitute brown sugar if gur is not at hand)

For tempering :
1 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 tbsp vegetable/canola oil
pinch of hing or asafoetida

How to :-
  • Mix the grated mango with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Over medium heat combine the ingredients for tempering and wait till mustard seeds pop. Let this mixture cool down.
  • Then pour it over the mango mixture. 
  • Taste and adjust spices. Serve with parathas.

My mother generally grates the onions. But I like the crunch from the finely chopped one and more so its easier for me. We loved the freshness from the mangoes and the kick from the spices.So much better than having the jarred stuff that is packed god knows when... :) 

I served it with methi parathas for a healthy lunch.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Navy Bean Soup

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After the extreme temperatures of the past few weeks its finally warmed up here. It feels so nice to step out without the woollies. No concerns about the temperature outside. Its not too hot either. Just right for us to enjoy a stroll round the neighborhood and some play at the gazebo at any time of the day :).Well almost !. Knowing that this will not last long is all the more reason to enjoy it. Needless to say this does not leave enough time to make an elaborate meal. In times like these I like to make soup - glorious soup. 

 Like this curried navy bean soup.Spicy,filling and really quick to make. I usually make it in the rice cooker.

Curried Navy Bean Soup 
(Inspired from this recipe on

1 C dried navy beans soaked overnight
1 onion chopped
2 medium carrots chopped
2 handfuls of spinach chopped (optional)
1 small tomato chopped ( or 2 tsp tomato paste )
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tsp red chilly flakes ( crushed dried red chillies can be used here)
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
5-6 C vegetable stock(or use 3C stock and rest water)
pinch of pepper
salt to taste
  • In a pan combine the olive oil and the cumin seeds. When the seeds sizzle add the ,red chilly flakes,garlic and the onion.Saute for 2 min till onion is soft and garlic is fragrant.
  • Add the spinach,carrots, tomato and rest of the spices. Mix and continue cooking for 5-6 min.
  • Then add the navy beans, stock/water. Check for seasoning. The stock is slightly salty so add the salt accordingly.
  • Transfer to rice cooker set it uncovered in cook mode.When it comes to a boil then, set it to warm and cover. Leave alone for 1 hour at least. 
  • The soup will continue to thicken so ensure that you have enough water in the rice cooker.
  • Serve with crusty bread.
 We really look forward to a soup and bread meal. And this soup was very filling because of the protein in the beans. I was a doubtful if the beans would cook fast enough. But that wasn't a problem at all. They cooked in the spicy broth and absorbed all the great flavor. A perfect meal to take in that very last bit of winter.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rice Cooker Egg Pulao and a Broccoli Coleslaw

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The past few days have been very cold out here. The weather forecasts promised snow but then later changed their minds. So what we got were really low temperatures. Not bad, as long as we got a day-off from work.;)

On warmer days I take Aamod outside, to play with other kids though a bit older to him. He loves their company and is always delighted to see them. But days like this force us to be indoors. He finds some other activities like these blocks.

As for the food, we crave for something warm and comforting , something homely. Usually I will make some soups or one-pot meals on such occassions. Egg pulao is one such meal.

I always make the pulao in my rice cooker. I mix up everything and turn on the cooker an hour before dinner time. That way we having a steaming pot of pulao just in time for the meal. I accompanied this by a broccoli salad. This salad is so easy to make with store-bought broccoli slaw. You will be surprised that without any oil or mayo it still tastes so good.
For my totally vegetarian friends egg can easily be replaced by chickpeas or could be omitted altogether.

Egg Pulao

4-5 hard boiled eggs (peeled and sliced)
1C basmati or sona masuri rice
1 heaped tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 onion sliced thinly
1 bell pepper chopped (optional,I used combination of green and yellow)
1/4 C or few handfuls of cashews
1/4C or few handfuls of golden raisins
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt to taste
5-6 tbsp of olive oil

How to :-
  • Wash the rice and set aside.
  • Combine the oil and the cumin over medium heat.
  • Once cumin sizzles add the onion. Saute till its golden brown. This step gives lot of flavor so do not skip it.
  • Then add the ginger-garlic paste and cook it for a 1-2min.
  • Add the bell peppers,chilli powder, turmeric, salt,garam masala,cashews and raisins. Mix and fry for 2-3 min.
  • Finally add the rice. Give the whole thing a good stir.
  • At this point I transfered the whole thing to a rice cooker. Added 2C of water to it and turned it on.
  • Add water as needed by the type of rice you use. Basmati may not require twice the amount.
  • When rice is cooked add the eggs and mix gently.Or serve as without eggs for a truly vegetarian version.

Broccoli Slaw

1 10oz pack of broccoli slaw (find it in salad section)
3/4inch piece of ginger grated
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp cumin powder or coarsely crushed cumin
1 -2 green onions sliced thinly
1 green chilly minced finely ( can be omitted for a milder version)
5 tbsp or more of peanuts crushed coarsely (not powdered)
handful of cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

How to :
  • Mix all the ingredients except the broccoli and peanuts to get the dressing.
  • Add it to the broccoli slaw and toss well to coat. You may require more lemon juice.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with peanuts and then serve.
  • This salad can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated to serve later.

The sweetness from the raisins and the onions, crunch from the cashews all add up to provide the homely meal that we were looking for. It was the first time that I made the broccoli slaw but I am sure to make it again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Roasted Root Vegetable Jumble

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The accompaniment to the dhansaak I made the other day was this root vegetable jumble. Its a very simple recipe and almost cooks itself.

Roasted Root Vegetable Jumble
(Adapted from this recipe on Food Network)

Vegetables - Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Daikons, Fennel,Butternut Squash,Red Onion ( Any combination of these, sliced 1/4inch thick)

For the marinade :
2 lemons cut into wedges ( or use readymade lemon juice )
5-6 tbsp of oil (may need some more if you have more veggies)
2-3 tsp cumin powder
2-3 tsp coriander powder
handful of cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

feta cheese to sprinkle on top

How to :
  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Mix the ingredients for the marinade and set aside.
  • Spread the veggies on a baking tray lined with foil (for easy cleanup).
  • Pour the marinade on the veggies making sure it coats the veggies well. Take care not to overcrowd the veggies though.
  • Transfer to oven and roast for 30min.
  • Check back and spread the feta cheese crumbles and bake for another 10min until the cheese melts.
  • Serve warm.

This is one of the dishes that I cook when I am in a time-crunch. Healthy and highly satisfying. I find that the baking process makes the root vegetables sweeter and highly flavorful. We are loving the carrots, daikons and squashes in a all new way.
Like me ,if you have never worked with fennel before do give it a try. I am sure you will love its sweet and nutty flavor.

Friday, February 4, 2011


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My earliest association with parsis was when I was in school in std vii. We had an english teacher Mrs Jaru Dinshaw -  a very unique personality. Tall, fair and classy - very modern for the times. We girls loved her pretty saris, her perfume and more importantly - her  love for literature. 

Her image still sits pretty in my childhood memories. She with her text book, and all of us huddled around her. The poems she recited, the dramas(Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night,...)  that we enacted and short stories explained by her have become a part of me. Like these lines that I think of each morning -

                          The woods are lovely dark and deep ,
                          But I have promises to keep,
                          And miles to go before I sleep,
                          And miles to go before I sleep. 

I love them all because of her.

The recipe for today is dedicated to this teacher of mine.  It is a bowl of piping hot lentil stew - Dhansaak. Every parsi family have their own version of it. Most of them will have meat. I got mine from the Suvir Saran's book - American Masala. This one is made with winter vegetables - squash, daikon and radishes.


For the spice blend  (Dhansaak Masala) -
1 inch piece of cinnamon
6 green cardamom pods
1tbsp coriander seeds
2tsp cumin seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp turmeric
1/2tsp peppercorns
1/4tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4tsp whole cloves

For the herb paste - 
handful of cilantro
1 inch piece of ginger
1 green chilly
3 dried red chillies
2 garlic cloves

For the stew
1/4C red lentils  (You can use mixture of toor dal and red masoor dal but toor dal takes longer to cook)
1tsp cumin seeds
1/2 an onion sliced
5-6tbsp oil
1.5C (Any combination of radishes,daikon and butternut squash sliced)
water as required
salt to taste

How to :-
  • Pulse the ingredients for the herb paste and keep aside
  • Similarly finely powder the ingredients for the spice blend and set aside. This is the Dhansaak masala. You can use store-bought too.
  • Combine the cumin seeds and the oil in a pan and wait till cumin is brown.
  • Add the onions and saute till brown. Add salt in between. Do not skip this step. It might take a 5-6 mins but its worth it.
  • Then add 2tsp of the dhansaak masala and allow the oil to separate.
  • After about 1 min add the vegetables (radishes, daikon and squash. Saute on medium heat for 5-6 min till fragrant.
  • Then add the lentils and around 3-4C of water. Bring to a boil and cover, simmer for 30-35 mins.
  • Check back to see if the lentils are cooked. 
  • Meanwhile heat a 1tbsp of oil in another pan and add the herb paste. Saute for a minute or two till the raw smell of garlic leaves the mixture.
  • Once the lentils have cooked add the herb paste and 2tsp of the spice blend.  Check for salt and seasoning. 
  • Bring to a boil and serve hot with rice or rotis.

I served them alongside a vegetable root jumble (recipe in another post) with some rotis and rice. A very tasty meal. You might not need all of the dhansaak masala though. I made twice the give amount and saved some for later. 

Dhansaak is traditionally seved with brown dhansaak rice. I will make it next time may be. 
Have a great weekend !