Monday, February 25, 2013

#266 Bombay Toast

I'm sure you've all heard about French Toast --a soft and sweet breakfast food that is absolutely buttery moist with a crispy skin. Who doesn't like French toast with some Maple syrup poured all over? This toast is equally good and has a different flavor in the egg mixture used to drown the soft slices of bread. Did I throw you 'off-track' with the recipe? It is not a new recipe of any sort, instead it's one of the simplest  savory versions of the French Toast. One very common in most households in Maharashtra... and so the name "Bombay Toast" and I can eat this at any time of the day. For one, the savory onions, ginger and cilantro have such a lovely aroma together, and while you toast the bread in the butter its a whole breakfast that tastes of an omelette ...Mmmmmm love it!!!

Shallots chopped fine- 1/4 cup
Cilantro chopped fine- 1/4 cup
Green chili chopped fine- 1 Tspn
Ginger chopped fine- 1/2 tspn
Pepper and salt to taste.
White Bread -4 slices
Butter for pan roasting.

1. Break the eggs into a shallow bowl. Add salt and pepper and beat well with eggbeater.
2. Add a Tablespoon of water and mix well.
3. Add all the ingredients except for bread and butter to the egg mixture, beat well until fluffy.
4. Place  skillet over a medium to low fire and add small dabs of butter.
5. When butter just melts, dip each slice of bread gently in the egg mixture coating all sides of the bread distributing the onions, cilantro all over evenly.
6. Gently place the soaked bread onto the skillet add a few more dabs of butter around and over the slices.
7. Toast until the egg is cooked and bread is lightly browned. Turn over and let cook in the same way on both sides. Remove and serve with ketchup.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

#265 Greens and the Chopped Challenge !!

The Chopped Season 12 episode 3 on FoodNetwork was one of great interest to me. For those of you who have not watched it, Chopped is a competitive cooking challenge and all about presentation, taste and creativity. The expertise of a chef is determined by how an ingredient is prepared and not whether he/she knows enough about it's background.  Fatima Ali who was once eliminated from Chopped, took upon the challenge once again and this time she won! Congratulations and Hats-off to her for winning despite the fact that she had never tasted Olive loaf (being made out of pork she could not even taste it for religious reasons). However, she crisped it up and made it into bacon cubes and it was ultimately the perfect technique which got her points towards her topping the competition!

While the secret ingredients for the entree round in this episode, offered duck breast, red malabar spinach, cherry cola, and olive loaf, another contestant was completely thrown off by Malabar spinach. He was in fact asking himself what "Malabar" meant... was it some kind of "Bar"? This is the trickiest part of the Chopped competition. To be able to utilize surprisingly strange ingredients, to plan within seconds and come up with a delicious and beautifully served meal in 30 minutes is no joke!!  It may not have occurred to him in that nervous moment, that they're greens adaptable in many ways whether it is spinach or bok choy or Malabar spinach. What makes the show so challenging is the fact that in a short time these chefs are required to create a dish and be absolutely perfect to get to the top!

Although to a much smaller extent,  sometimes we all face a similar situation in our own kitchens too, don't we? Just like the "Chopped" show, we find a few ingredients in the fridge at the end of the week and look in the pantry for others that we try to combine to suit our taste buds and come up with an edible dinner. I do feel lucky that the end product doesn't matter since I'm not being judged in any way.....or am I?

Like last night for example I peek in my fridge and think --What can I do with a few random Bok Choy bunches that never made it to the Chinese soup I intended to make this week? Did a can of Black beans and a cup of Besan/Chickpea flour in the pantry catch my eye? Is it just me or has anyone else been in a similar situation at some point and time?  The family has voted for an Indian meal tonight so it will be tough.
Anyhow, let's see if I'll be Chopped by the toughest judges-----my family?

Bok Choy Zhunka

1/2 cup Besan/Chickpea flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tblspn ghee
1.2 cup thinly sliced Onion
1 green chilli minced
3 garlic minced
1 Tspn grated ginger
1 cup cilantro chopped
1/2 cup mint chopped
3 medium sized Baby Bok Choy
1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric
1-2 tspn lemon juice
Seasoning: 1/2 tspn mustard seeds, 1/2 tspn cumin seeds, a pinch of hing (Asafoetida)
1 red chilli.
Olive Oil and salt to taste

1. Roast the Beasn until it heats through well and gets a nice aroma. remove and cool.
2. Mix together buttermilk with just enough water, Besan and 1/2 tspn salt to make a smooth mixture without any lumps.
3. Heat the ghee in a non-stick pan, add mustard seeds, red chilli,cumin seeds, a pinch of Hing.
4. When the mustard splutters add the onions, green chilli, garlic and ginger and saute until the onion is light brown or reddish.
5. Add turmeric, chopped Bok Choy and stir until is wilts. Add salt to season and then toss in the cilantro and mint.
6. Right after that add the Besan-buttermilk mixture and turn the stove down a bit, simmer stirring well until the raw smell is gone and the zhunka thicken well keep seasoning to taste with salt and pepper(if needed). It will get thicker as it cools so remove the mixture from fire when it has reached a semi- thick state.
7. Add more water if it is too thick before removing from fire and then add 1-2 tspn of lemon juice stir well and serve.

Three Bean Dal Makhani


1 cup channa dal
1 cup moong dal
1 can black beans (15 oz can drained)
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 tomato chopped
garlic/ginger paste- 1 Tblspn
Ghee- 2Tbslpn
Coconut Milk- 1/2 cup thick milk
Cilantro chopped
1/4 tspn Asafoetida/Hing
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tspn
1/2 teaspoon halid /turmeric powder
4 green chillies

1. Place a pressure cooker pan(without the pressure seal). Heat ghee and add cumin seeds.
2. Add onions, tomato, asoafoetida, green chillies, turmeric, salt and ginger-garlic paste,
3. Saute for a minute add channa dal, moong dal and 1 cup water. When the mixture comes to a boil, cover with pressure, seal and cook for a whistle or two and remove from fire.
4. Take the lid off of the pressure cooker. add cilantro. drained black beans and enough salt and water.
5. Boil the dal until the mixture has absorbed the flavors for a minute or two and remove from fire.
6. Quickly add coconut milk and stire well. serve with rotis and rice.

Sometimes the challenge opens up a whole new world of cuisine and you find new dishes with unfamiliar ingredients that you would otherwise never deem compatible!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

#264 Melting Pot Sliders and Dip for Celebrating the Win

I know I know, its way past Super Bowl XLVII but the game ended  with the big win by Baltimore Ravens from the East Coast!!! Yay.... and through the Superdome Poweroutage that hit the game after the Half -time show. All the same, Beyonce put up a fantastic show anyway. So this calls for a celebration for all of us East Coastians and here's a dip to represent the melting pot of the East Coast of the US.  There are 7-layered dips to cream cheese dips and more but this one was just a crazy idea that bloomed in my head on Super bowl sunday. It's not of one flavor -neither Mexican nor American, but you can take it from East to West a melting pot of different layers enjoyed as you dip your chip into the multitude of layers and wonder what the original flavor come from?? Mmmm... keeps you thinking! and the taco mini sliders are awesome with nothing but caramelized thyme onion relish and simply makes you feel like there's a party in your mouth....:)


Bush's Maple Cured Bacon. Baked beans-2 cans
Avocado- 1
Green chilli chopped-1
Onions chopped-1/2
Tomato chopped-1
Mint and Cilantro chopped fine- 1 Tablespoon
Chaat Masala- 1 tspn
Store Bought Salsa- 1 cup
Sour Cream- 1-2 cups
Doritos or Tortilla Chips

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake the baked beans until the water is evaporated and well heated.
2. Take a glass bowl and pour the baked beans in the dish. Sprinkle with Chaat masala.
3. Top with chopped onions. Top with salsa spread over into a thin layer.
4. Sprinkle some chaat masala over the salsa/
5. Now scoop the avocado and lime in a bowl and mix well adding salt and pepper to season.
6. Spread the avocado mash in over the layer and sprinkle green chili.
7. Spread the Sour Cream over the top most layer and then sprinkle tomato and herbs over the top.
8. If you love dairy, grated cheese may be added to the topmost layer for color. Sprinkle with Chaat masala.
9. Serve with Tortilla chips.

Mini Taco Sliders with caramelized onion topping.

Simply mix ground beef with any taco seasoning and mold gently into burgers. Serve with Cheddar cheese, and top with caramelized Spanish onions slowly sauteed in butter, salt and thyme.  Enjoy them between potato rolls!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

#263 Super Bowl Sunday..and a must-have street snack from Western India- Bhelpuri

Super Bowl Sunday is here again and New Orleans will host its 10th Super Bowl today. I'm making a snack as we watch the Baltimore Ravens play the 49 ers taking you all the way to Bombay for Super Bowl Bhel!!!

One of the tastiest street foods I associate with the beaches in Mumbai(Chowpatti) is the Bhelpuri but I've also had the pleasure of snacking on this food while I was in Pune. The Bhelpuri is from the "Chaat" family which in turn is a salty-spicy crunchy mix sold on carts throughout India served up in a newspaper sheet folded in the form of a cone and eaten with a spoon. Although it is a simple indulgent snack there are innumerable variations of Bhelpuri some of which are unaccounted for, but the most common one always starts with puffed rice and sev,  and then you add layers and layers of different ingredients as you go  with chutneys or masalas.

Normally there is either potatoes or chick peas but my version does not include the starchiness of potatoes or chaat masala(lets leave the masalas in curries). I've even made a version with potato chips which is awesome. Let me mention that this is also not a typically healthy snack. Although it looks like a semi-salad, most of the store-brought ingredients are deep fried snacks.

Servings: 3
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins

3 cups puffed rice
1 cup of sev(vermicilli like fried strips of flavored chick pea flour)
1 cup of papdi and peanuts (may substitute with a spicy Indian mixture)
Indian Mixture is a mixture of fried snacks mostly made of chick pea flour
you may even find potato sticks, chick peas, peanuts, raisins, curry leaves in some mixtures.
1 onion chopped fine
1 tomato-chopped
1 green chili chopped fine
Date-tamarind chutney to taste
Mint-Cilantro chutney to taste
2 Teaspoons yogurt
1/2 cup cilantro chopped

1. If you decide to make the date/tamarind chutney or mint chutney it may take at least 20 mins.
2. For a green chutney grind together mint, cilantro, garlic and green chillies with salt and lemon juice to taste.
3. For a sweet chutney cook and puree dates, add chili, salt and dried ginger add a little tamarind and mix.
4. I've taken short cuts to use storebought mint chutney. add a few tspns of yogurt to the mint chutney and lime juice
to freshen it up.
5. Mix together the dry ingredients and toss with cilantro.
6. When ready to eat, mix in the onions, tomatoes, green chili and the two chutneys to taste.
Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to incorporate the dry ingredients with the wet ones.
7. Serve topped with additional chutneys, yogurt, cilantro and sprinkle with additional chili powder for a spicy kick.

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