Pizza with spinach and red bell pepper

This is not any tough task, pizza is often an easy option no matter what. Among the plethora of flavors, spinach outshines everything. The delicious contrast offers a rather quality touch. So, for a change I decided to add only vegetables and cheese. My ruse to maintain the balance without hindering the taste or the texture.

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The picture I had in mind till date is the one that I happened to watch on Food Network a few years ago. But, to be honest it wasn’t that appealing at all to the eyes except the celebrity aha moment 🙂 Something then clicked though. I don’t know what. It’s the idea of adding loads of greens, may be.

Anyways, the colors and the charm, ‘two birds in one shot’  allows you to have a carefree and relaxed time! Recipe here.

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A healthy leisure time snack!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re from England or Emirates or Canada or Caribbean, this Indian treat has an amazing power to keep your sacred tummy intact whilst it delivers some medicinal protection to your system since there is no hint of the term ‘junk’ in this leisure time snack.

Jhalmuri

In Mumbai it’s known as Bhelpuri, Jhal muri in Kolkatta and Churmuri in Bangalore. Well, whatever it is, Jhalmuri has all the ingredients to make you happy. It is one of those perfect savory snacks to enjoy any time.

Well, while watching Eat St. on Food Channel I came across a British guy preparing the same treat on street corners in London surrounded by bunch of folks to boast about it. His way of incorporating everything from dicing the veggies to sprinkling the spices were all fun to watch. Each ingredient in that recipe made me literally drool. I know how tasty it is when you bring together rice puffs, roasted peanuts, cucumber, fresh tomato, ginger and a hint of red onions. Well, finally I ended up making two times the same evening….

Jhalmuri..

Here’s the recipe to pamper you with a simple yet awesome treat.

Ingredients
2 cups puffed rice
1 ½ cup cucumber, finely chopped
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 ½ cup roasted peanuts
¾ cup Coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
1 ½ tbsp chaat masala
Salt to taste

In a medium bowl, mix together all the chopped vegetables: cucumber, tomato, onion, ginger and coriander. Add lime juice, honey, chaat masala and salt. Mix well. Add puffed rice and roasted peanuts to the vegetable mixture. Enjoy!

 

 

Quinoa with green gram and cheddar salad

Ever since I learned about the rich benefits of quinoa and green gram, these two are sort of quintessential to me. There is some interesting advantages as well if you have these two already cooked  and kept in the refrigerator. Ideas are awash. It allows you to fix something in a jiffy.  So, based on the availability of the ingredients you could tap in your imagination to come up with some ideas to fill the bowl 🙂

This time though quarter portion of cheddar in the refrigerator was the guest star. I wanted something different. My mind was very much fixated on contrast and cubes of cheddar roughly on the top. As I started to incorporate things, thai chili came in mind to spice it up. Hmmm, the flavor was amazing. I enjoyed a good meal !

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Preparation of quinoa is simple. Soak quinoa for 5-10 minutes. Rinse and drain the water off. Boil one & half cups of water for one cup of quinoa. When it boils, add salt to taste and 1 tsp of oil to it. Add quinoa to it. Cover the lid and cook until it’s tender and sort of fluffy with no hint of water. Any leftover goes in the refrigerator for the later use.

Preparation of green gram is simple as well. You could follow the same method as of quinoa. But it takes bit more time than the quinoa. If you pressure cook it, then takes only less time. Keep your instincts handy here.

1 cup cubed cheddar cheese
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 cup of cooked green gram
1/4 cup minced carrots
1 English cucumber, diced
1/4 red onions, minced
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped spring onions
2 Thai chilies, minced
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp horseradish paste
1 tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste

In a big bowl, add all the ingredients except the cheddar. Gently combine well. Refrigerate it. When it’s ready to serve, add the cubed cheddar and enjoy!

Palak Paneer

Best loved and popular Punjabi Palak Paneer !

Originated in Punjab, this simple green textured dish outshines all the expensive and spicy spread on the table. Palak (means ‘Spinach’) paneer (Cottage cheese or Indian cheese) does it a lot ! Oh, yes, it grabs our attention pretty fast as we give special place for greens when it comes to food. As it says, necessity is the mother of invention, it occurred to me that definitely the excess amount in growth may have nudged them to try the paste form of this green grace. Luck would’ve it, the idea clicked and became one of the star dish…I’m a super fan of this ever since I tasted it:)

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Travelled from Punjab to various corners of the world , palak paneer has become everybody’s favorite -one of the best loved dishes and popular among all. Spinach packed with vitamins while paneer does the job to provide protein and calcium, equally good and healthy – yet delicious – for children and grownups alike. 

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In Atlantic Canada, I’ve couple of my non-Indian pals asked me about the blending of paneer and spinach. They wanted to learn the recipe and if possible they wanted a serious cooking lesson in my Indian kitchen. Since I had to show the preparation, I chose the best and easiest way to prepare this dish, slightly different than my normal approach. Well, things went well!  I was so darn surprised to see the outcome. So glad to know our Indian dish is so popular and well loved outside India as well.

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That being said, when it comes to food, I adore Indian cuisine, cherish everything about it. I respect the invention of special dishes like palak paneer or saag paneer and such. It’s such a delightful dish. The delicate cubes of paneer in velvety green sauce outshines all the non-vegetarian dishes. Pureed spinach provides a soothing as well as healing touch to the tummy if you’re more of a meat eater and adore spicy foods. This recipe is indeed a keeper.

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First and foremost, keep ready – 1 cup of cubed paneer – gently shallow fry for few seconds and keep it aside. This approach would give a nice texture and enhance the flavor of the dish.

Then the spinach. If you get rinsed and ready to eat spinach, even better since it reduces the rinsing and cleaning part. Just grab 3-4 handful of spinach and keep it aside.

Second step:
Oil 1 tbsp
Garam masala 1 tsp
Green chilies 2
2 tomatoes
3 – 4 handful of spinach, rinsed well

Heat oil in a pan and add garam masala and green chilies. After a few seconds once it’s aromatic, add green chilies. Saute it for few seconds. Add tomatoes, and then add the spinach. Cover it and cook it for few minutes until everything well blended and sort of like soupy texture. Turn the heat off. Allow it to cool down. Then puree the mixture.

Third step:
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp minced ginger/garlic
1 tsp kasuri methi, crushed finely
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1 tbsp cream

Heat oil in a pan; add the spices including ginger/garlic. Saute it for few seconds in low heat. Add the spinach mixture. Stir well. Once it started bubbling, add the paneer cubes and adjust the salt. Just sprinkle some garam masala over and garnish with cream.

Fried banana peppers

These are otherwise known as yellow wax peppers, banana chilis or banana peppers. They are rather mild, less spicy and more on the sweeter side. The waxy texture and the sweetness are perfect for snacks, especially when the day seems sort of dull and down or to enjoy with your friends…

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Chili fritters or bajjis or fried banana peppers, vendors rock this. It’s very popular in India! When you flour coat and deep fry any peppers like these, then it becomes chili bajjis, an Indian name for fritters. But I would comfortably call it fried banana peppers, sort of simple and easy to understand.

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Fortunately, I have eaten quite a lot when I was darn carefree and diet free 🙂 .  So, as I sighted these at the store, the whole vendor scenario back in Bangalore crossed my mind, so I bought them to prepare  fritters at home. Listing it here for the love of fellow foodies 🙂

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For the batter:  A cup of all purpose flour, salt and ground pepper. Add water little by little till it reaches the consistency of pancake batter.

First step – Prepare the peppers. You could leave the seeds as is or remove them – by slitting vertically – if you wish to avoid any hint of spiciness. As you remove the seeds, make sure to leave the outer case intact.

Second step – Dip in the batter and coat in bread crumbs

Third step – Deep fry

Feel free if you need any further clarification.

Enjoy!

From florets to fritters – Cauliflower Manchurian

Cauliflower manchurian or otherwise known as ‘Gobi manchurian’ is a widely popular and sought after Indo – Chinese dish inspired by the Chinese cuisine.  Thanks to the Chinese immigrants living in Calcutta, in the eastern part of India, for many generations. Their influence helped us to develop few delicious dishes with our own signature on it:) Cauliflower manchurian is one of them. Everything about this dish is simply delicious. Personally its one of my favorites and till date it stays the same. Hence the rave and the recipe 🙂
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From florets to fritters, the delicious texture and the tender yet crunchy florets combined with sautéed onions and the green tinge from the green onions  nudge us to rave about it. With the right condiments, these fritters ace as an appetizer. It balances the gap between vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The dry spicy version is a best fit to go with drinks!

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It’s very easy if you ever want to prepare this dish at home. When you prepare it at home it would be nice if you follow through few minor yet core steps. Otherwise, it would be a disaster if by any chance the florets are not evenly coated.  Well, luck would have it, when it was my turn to try it at home,  my instincts kicked in and provided the needed ideas how to incorporate the ingredients perfectly   The taste, texture and the aroma were in perfect pitch..

In order to ease the process, I would fry and keep the onions ready!

For the fried onions

Minced onions – 2 large
1 tbsp minced ginger and garlic
1 t minced green chillies
2 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried red chilli flakes for a contrast and texture
Few whole dried red chillies

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The main ingredient here is; clean & dry cauliflower florets, preferably bite size pieces! I would suggest to flour coat the florets before it goes in the batter. It helps to stay the skin intact when you fry. You’ll need close to one cup of extra flour to coat the florets.

Ingredients

Clean & dry cauliflower florets
One cup extra flour to coat the florets
Oil for deep frying

Ingredients for the batter

All purpose flour – 1 cup
2 tablespoon corn flour
Enough  water
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper [optional]
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds – again optional.
Salt to taste
Food color [Optional] if you enjoy the orange texture

Combine everything together by adding little water at a time.

Combine all the ingredients for the batter by adding water – little by little – till you get the right consistency, neither too watery nor too thick. Add the florets to it. Mix well.

Deep fry separately. Stir occasionally and fry until crisp. Drain it on paper towels. Set it aside.

Garnish with (finely chopped) fried onions as well as spring onions. Enjoy with any of your favourite sauce!

spinach falafel cutlets

Indeed a feast to the eyes; falafel fulfills everything you want for a meal or best to whomp up your weekend with family! It fits easily and comfortably both as a snack or even by itself as a meal. Delicious addition of vegetables and pickles on the side simply enhances the whole beauty and gives a healthy touch as well. Hence it makes falafel a must have in vegetarian menu. It  also provides sufficient protein portion.

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Unlike other fritters, the interesting fact I like about is its delicious dual texture. The consistent dark brown texture on the outside and the graceful green texture inside was quite intriguing to me. Honestly it took a while to get a good grip of processing the beans to frying some fantastic looking falafel cutlets. I would say, replacing parsley with spinach seems to be a great option. Two handful of fresh spinach is a big deal, indeed 🙂

Anyhow, now I’m quite good at preparing falafel at home. This post is purely intended to save the recipe and share the joy!  That being said, feel free to comment if you find anything less or more 😉

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Let me tell you, it won’t tolerate if you bend the rules – as I did in my earlier attempts – by adding more water to ease the stiffness and heedlessly adding flour to correct the discrepancies. Even though adding flour helps to some extent, the flaw reflects in the end result.

Instead, gently process the soaked chick peas batch by batch without adding water in the food processor and treat it nice and easy. If you wish you could switch spinach instead of parsley as I did. Hint of onion, ginger and green chilies, to spice it up a bit. As to give the shape, simply use your palm to give the beautiful falafel cut. It’s neither hard nor fun, but in the end it’s worth the effort. 

1 cup dried chick peas

2 handful of fresh spinach

1 small onion, sliced

2 green chillies, halved

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp baking soda, optional

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

In a large bowl, rinse and soak 1 cup of chick peas. You need enough amount of water to completely submerge the chick peas. Also, remember to level up the water every few hours as the beans tend to increase in volume. Soak it up around 8 hours or so.

After a quick rinse, drain the water off. Transfer the beans in a food processor or mixer, adding along fresh spinach, onion slices, green chillies, ground pepper, cumin seeds and salt. Pulse it until the mixture blends well to a coarser texture yet sort of smooth overall. Add just a hint of water when necessary. Too much water would hinder the right forming of the fritters while frying. Adjust salt and spices according to your taste.

Shaping into small patties are simple. Using a spoon, scoop spoonful of mixture, gently roll and shape the mixture in your slightly grease wet palm. Deep fry the patties in oil until golden brown. It may look green in the beginning after you dropped the patties in the hot oil. Allow it to reach the right texture and in the process it get cooked through as well.

Drain them on a paper towel. Serve with lots of greens and pickled vegetables and sides. Enjoy!