SursWorld

Food and some stories....

Category: Vegetarian

Watermelon and Feta salad

Around the world, people are celebrating the arrival of cold weather and with it warm soups and rich food to warm the body and mind. Well we in Mumbai beg to differ from the world, so while everyone is preparing for fall, amchi Mumbai has been clocking 34 degrees every day, hardly fall you would agree!! Which is why I can still relish watermelon and feta salad; one of my favourites and probably the easiest things you will ever make. I’m not sure if it qualifies as cooking!!!

This salad is so refreshing, it’s better than ice cream in my book. It looks like a dream and tastes like heaven in your mouth. Perfect for those long hot summer months; when all you want to do is drink lots of water and avoid anything heavy. It’s healthy and delicious, perfect combination in my book.  And it works because of the contrast of the flavours, the sweet watermelon and the salty feta.

What do you need,  a watermelon, some feta cheese and some herbs. This salad needs to be eaten fresh, and by that I mean, make it and eat it. You cannot let it sit, as watermelon, releases a lot of water, the longer you wait, more watery it will become, and the flavours will be lost. So I would recommend that you assemble the ingredients but wait to make the salad; right before you eat it.

Let’s make it

Ingredients

1 small Watermelon cut into cubes (preferably deseeded)

1/3 cup olive oil

2-3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup chopped fresh mint

1 and ½ cup crumbled fresh feta cheese.

Salt and pepper to taste

Handful fresh parsley

Method

In a small bowl, mix together the oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to make the dressing. Pour it over the cut watermelon along with the chopped mint, toss gently to coat.

Add the crumbled feta cheese and the parsley and blend in gently to integrate without losing the texture of the cheese. Serve.

Watermelon and Feta salad

 

 

 

Salad days-Crunchy green salad

You know what I really enjoy in my travels through Europe, the amazing variety of salads in the menu, using fresh local produce. Eating healthy and clean has never been easier. Unfortunately my salad making skills were limited to mixing cucumber, onion and tomatoes together in a lime dressing, what in India we call kuchumber; nice but everyone gets bored with the same old! So I have been consciously trying to make new and fresh salads everyday at home, so eating clean doesn’t have to mean travelling to Europe!! 🙂 So in the  next few blogs I will share with you all the new salads that I have been attempting to make. And today we will start with the most simplest of them all, I like to call the crunchy green salad.

This kind of salad can be a great accompaniment to any meal, as a side; or add a protein like chicken or smoked salmon and you can make it a main too. It totally depends on what you are in the mood for; I am just equipping you with the basics, like the building blocks of a great salad.

I have used a mix of greens, like arugula, different kinds of lettuce, rocket and some purple cabbage leaves, as the base, you can choose any you like. Do remember to wash them well, dry with a kitchen cloth and tear them to bite size.

The secret to a good salad, and especially my crunchy green salad is some nuts to add the crunch element, and I have used some candied walnuts; you can use  roasted walnuts or roasted pine nuts for that additional zing to a simple salad. However I would recommend trying the candied walnuts, it takes the salad to another level. For how to make candied walnuts click here.

Crunchy Green Salad

Ingredients

100 gms of mixed greens

Finely shredded carrots

Candied walnuts

Handful mint or basil

Salt and pepper for taste

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp cider vinegar

½ tsp honey

Grated parmesan shavings

Crunchy Green Salad

Method

First  start by making the dressing, slowly pour the oil in the vinegar and blend in, add the honey. I usually add the salt and pepper after putting in the greens; you can add the salt to the dressing and taste it before proceeding.

Blend the vegetables with the dressing add the herbs, and finally the nuts and the cheese just before serving. Crunchy green salad is ready to be devoured.

 

Candied Walnuts-Diwali beckons

You know it’s Diwali around the corner when you suddenly notice twinkling lights everywhere around. Shops start screaming discounts, and all around there is lots, I mean lots and lots of sweets. But when it comes to food the traditional is becoming passé and more and more we are moving towards purchasing Diwali sweets. Traditionally our moms used to make mithai at home, and I know that with our busy lives its not always possible to do that all the time. But what if I told you could make something sweet at home literally in 5 minutes, sweet and unique! Candied walnuts; dry fruits anyways have become a part of gifting in Diwali. Yours would be different and way better.

Lights

Lights

The great part about this recipe apart from the fact that how quickly you can make it, is that it’s a great snack, is awesome with salads, can be put in small glass jars and can be a very thoughtful diwali gift too! And I like it better than caramel popcorn. You just cannot stop at one, I challenge you.

Recipe-Candied Walnuts

Ingredients

1 cup walnut
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp butter

Method

Put a non stick pan on the gas; add the butter, followed by the sugar and walnuts. Keep on stirring everything over medium heat for 5 minutes. When the sugar starts melting, stir well so that all the nuts are coated properly.

Once done, transfer immediately to a parchment paper, and start separating the nuts so that they do not stick together. You will have to move quickly otherwise you will end up with a big blob of nuts. And yes the parchment paper is a must, if you want to avoid a sticky mess.

Once it cools, you can store in an airtight container.

Candied Walnuts

Candied Walnuts

 

 

 

Bulgur wheat pilaf with chickpeas and tomatoes

We all would like to eat healthy but delicious food, I know for a fact that people are scared of healthy eating thinking it will be just be plain salads and soups. But we can eat healthy by incorporating more whole wheat grains in our diet. Epidemiological studies find that whole-grain intake can be protective against health conditions like cancer, heart disease, digestive disorders, diabetes and obesity. Bulgur wheat, sometimes also called cracked wheat, is a lesser-known type of whole wheat durum grain. Compared to refined carbohydrate foods made with enriched or refined wheat, bulgur wheat is a much better source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients.

The difference between bulgur and most types of wheat flours used in many packaged products is that bulgur hasn’t been stripped (or “refined) of its bran and germ, which are where many of the nutrients are actually stored within a whole grain. Also it’s naturally cholesterol free.

Now that we know it’s good for us, how do we eat it? Bulgur is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and used in salads, kebabs and pilaf. Readers of this blog will know that I have earlier shared the recipe of Turkish kebab using bulgur. Today I will show you how to make a pilaf. It’s a simple hearty recipe that can be eaten just like that or goes well with yoghurt or as an accompaniment to any meat dish as served in Turkey.

Recipe:Bulgur wheat pilaf with chickpeas and tomatoes

Ingredients

2 tbsp oil for cooking

1 red onion finely chopped

1 red pepper finely chopped( I used a green one as didn’t have a red one at home, red pepper just adds to the color of the final recipe)

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp cumin powder

¼ tsp cinnamon powder

Chilli flakes as per taste

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 cup bulgur

1 can chopped tomatoes (I have used canned for convenience, you can use fresh tomatoes)

¾ cup vegetable stock or chicken stock

1 cup chickpeas soaked overnight and boiled

Salt and pepper as per taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped mint

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Method

Heat oil in a pan and add the onion and pepper cook for 6-8 minutes till you can see the onion turning translucent. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, chilli flakes and the tomato paste, cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the bulgur and stir well so that it well coated in the mixture. Add the chickpeas, tomato, stock , and salt and pepper; let it come to a boil on high. Reduce the heat and cover it for ten to fifteen minutes. Before serving garnish with the mint and parsley. Tastes awesome hot, but goes well as a salad, cold too.

Bulgur wheat pilaf

Bulgur wheat pilaf

 

 

Fresh Basil Pesto

You all will remember from my earlier posts my fledgling attempts at organic kitchen gardening, and finally I have something ready that I can use for all my cooking experiments and I am over the moon. I always dreamt of having garden fresh herbs at my disposable, and I am proud to say that I now can use fresh basil and parsley from my garden. And fresh basil calls for home made basil pesto, better than any store bought jar of pesto. And once you have made it fresh, believe me; you will never buy a bottle of pesto from the supermarket.

Fresh Basil from the garden

Fresh Basil from the garden

For the past few weeks, I have also been kind of obsessed with my garden, if you can call all the balcony and window sill planters that ; well for future reference that’s what I would like to call them. And I am sure all my plants would be gravely insulted on hearing anything otherwise. Well on last count apart from the herbs, I am trying to grow, spinach, lettuce, tomato, eggplant, radish and carrots. I love to see the green shoots coming out when I wake up in the morning, and see them growing taller day by day.

Now over to the pesto, as basil is a very strong aromatic herb, what I have done is substituted half with baby spinach leaves, it will make the flavour less strong and also helps you retain the vibrant green colour, which is lost after a day when stored in the fridge if using only basil.

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can substitute half the basil leaves with baby spinach)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts (can substitute chopped walnuts)

3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Pulse the basil leaves and pine nuts in a food processor several times, add the garlic and the cheese and pulse several times.

Fresh Basil Pesto

Add the olive oil slowly and not all in one go, so that it emulsifies properly; season with salt and pepper. Thats it, fresh pesto is ready. Time for some pasta dinner maybe, also goes well with potatoes, or just like that with some crackers.

 

 

Tangy Potato Salad|For the love of potatoes

My husband loves potatoes, you ask him what he wants to eat, he will always say potatoes, always!! So obviously I know quite number of ways to make potatoes. In India, I think hardly there is any vegetable dish that does not get enhanced by the addition of potatoes, I consider it a staple food along with rice and chapattis.

Even in the western world meat and potatoes is considered a staple in many countries. In India, it was only in the 17th century that this vegetable was introduced by the Portuguese; imagine how the kitchens in India cooked before the arrival of this vegetable. Imagine the masala dosa without the aloo, or the vada pao without the aloo bhaji inside!!! No surprises, then it is the worlds most produced and consumed vegetable. I sometimes dread to think what if we had a potato crisis like the onion crisis we had a few years back, heads would roll!!

If you love potatoes and are tired of having only mayo based salads or just the regular aloo ki sabji then I have a potato salad recipe for you which is so simple that anybody can make it and also is so delicious that it gives the impression that you slaved for hours to create this flavorsome a dish. Anyways I personally think a few ingredients cooked simply have the potential to create massive flavours. A win win both ways wont you say? Over to the recipe.

Tangy Potato Salad

Tangy Potato Salad

Tangy Potato Salad

Ingredients

1/2 kg Potatoes(you can use new potatoes too)

Half a bunch green onions finely chopped

1/3 cup parsley finely chopped

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp Olive oil

Salt & pepper as per taste

Method

Cut the potatoes into quarters and boil in salted water. Note: you dont want the potatoes too soft, so I would recommend avoiding the pressure cooker. While the potatoes are getting done, mix in the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Wait for the potatoes to cool down and then mix with the rest of the ingredients season with salt and pepper as per taste. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to enhance the flavour, or untill ready to serve. Bon appetit!

Comforting Mac & Cheese

My food stories cannot be complete without talking about comfort food. One of my all time favourite is Mac & cheese. This is one dish I have been making since I was a child. I remember whenever my parents had to go out for parties and on asking what I would like to eat I would volunteer to make my own dinner, and this is what I would make. As I would sit on the dining table grating cheese, my two helpers, Danny & Ceaser(our pet dogs) would dance around me begging for cheese; I could make them do anything just for a piece of cheese. It was just not cooking dinner; it was a great adventure for all three of us. As today as I share this recipe it’s just not to relive those childhood memories but also to remember my partner in crimes Danny & Ceaser; whom I miss so much till date.

The beauty of this dish is that at the risk of repeating myself; a child can make. I don’t know from where I learned to make it, must have read it somewhere, but I make it without starting a roux. And over the years I have added and tried so many variants of it that I can’t remember. It’s truly a versatile dish, and can be the building block for your favourite dinner.

This is a version that I do when I want to add some veggies and some spice.

Ingredients (serves 3 people)

Macaroni (200 gms)

One onion

Jalapeno

One red bell pepper

Green chillies

Mustard powder(1 teaspoon)

Frozen sweet corn

Garlic (2-3 big cloves)

Cheese (any hard cheese will do)-100 gms

Salt & pepper

Cream-2-3 tbsps

250 ml milk

One egg

Olive oil

Butter

Method:

Start by boiling the pasta in water as per package instructions. Ideally cook to al dente as it will be baked further, so you don’t want it overcooked at all. Meanwhile chop the vegetables, the onion, garlic, jalapeno, green chillies and the red pepper all need to chopped finely. I have used pickled jalapenos in the recipe.

Next grate the cheese and leave a little aside for later. (You can add or modify cheese as per your taste) Mix together the milk, butter, egg, mustard powder and the cheese. You would wonder mustard and pasta, why? But this mustard makes all the difference, a heaped teaspoon is highly recommended. Grab a frying pan and heat some olive oil, add the garlic and the chopped vegetables, cook them slightly but you don’t want them mushy, the crunch should remain. Add the frozen corn, and last mix in the cream and take off the burner.

Now mix in everything; the pasta, the milk and egg mixture and the cooked vegetables; season with salt and pepper. Pour everything in an oven proof dish, sprinkle the set aside cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the oven at 175 degree Celsius.

This dish on its own is enough for many a memorable dinners.

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese

 

 

 

Aloo Tikki made healthier

When I think of Delhi, the first thing that comes to my mind is the chaat, the aloo tikkis and the bright colors of Lajpat Nagar. It’s a city which I think is quite misunderstood, and increasingly grabs headlines more for the wrong reasons than the right ones. My memories of Delhi are interspersed with some awesome food memories, for lets confess Delhi is synonymous with food and in its heart- truly a foodie city.

I stayed in Delhi when I was doing my summer internship and every opportunity I got in the weekends would be spent shopping and gorging on the various mouth watering delicacies of the city. While I am no expert on the city, have since then only gone for a couple of days each; I definitely have my list of must eats in Delhi. I start with Aloo tikki, then gol gappa, then the chaat, chole bature,dahi kulcha, paranthas, butter chicken, kakori kebabs, jalebi………..phew; you get the idea. Out of all this aloo tikki is my favourite. I don’t think anybody can cook potatoes better than Indians. The mind boggling ways that we cook potatoes in the length and breadth of the country is simply amazing and unparalleled in any other part of the world.

All this talk of food is definitely tempting but I am also one the few people who just puts on weight just breathing air. So it’s always a fine balance for me when I am cooking or eating. How much oil to put, what to eat and what not to eat; it’s a fine balance. So as I was preparing aloo tikkis and I thought how can I make them healthier and not feel guilty gobbling them down. I have added carrots and oats in my recipe; the benefits of oats are well documented and I don’t think I have to repeat them. And I fried them in ghee or clarified butter. Now you must be wondering if one is trying to lose weight why the hell ghee; well one of the lesser know benefits of ghee is that helps in losing weight; I am not saying it -The academy of culinary nutrition says so.

Here’s my recipe of a healthier aloo tikki.

Ingredients

3-4 potatoes

1 onion (finely chopped)

1 carrot (grated)

½ cup of rolled oats/quick cooking oats

Garam masala

Coriander leaves

Ghee/Clarified butter

Red chilli powder

Salt

Method

Boil the potatoes and mash them well with no lumps. Dry roast the oats and when it cools down make a fine powder in the blender.

Mix the oats with the potatoes in a big bowl. Blend in finely chopped onion, grated carrot, salt, coriander leaves, garam masala and chilli powder.

Make small round tikkis, and fry them in a non stick fry pan with ghee. Brown them on both sides. You can deep fry them too, but then we wanted a healthier version. Serve with any chutney of your choice.

P.S. Let me know whats your favourite Delhi street food.

 

 

 

Why Quiches are sexy

I have been fascinated with quiches even when I did not know how to pronounce them. It seemed like such a magical creation to the little me, everything put together in a neat little package, cheese, eggs, vegetables or meat, whoever invented the dish was a cooking genius. Although originally from France today it is cooked the world over and quite a party favorite whether as canapés or entrée.

The best part about this dish you can use any ingredients from spinach, mushrooms to seafood to make this; it’s flexible and versatile. And my favorite comfort food, it’s my go to recipe when I want something quick and sumptuous. However as you know being from the Nigela school of cooking and in my endeavor to make my food healthy I make mine crust less. Traditionally quiche is an open pie, so I make my pie without the crust. And if you remember from my last blog entry I have been trying to incorporate kale in my diet so this time I made my crust less quiche with kale. And to be honest this has been the best it ever turned out; the kale elevated the dish to another level. Another successful incorporation for my Kale challenge.

 

Recipe-Crustless Quiche

 

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil

2 onions thinly sliced

50 g chopped kale (spinach can be used as a substitute)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

4-5 eggs (to make it healthy use one egg and rest use just the egg whites)

Some cheese grated (quantity depends on your love for cheeseJ)

Assorted vegetables (use your creativity, use any you like, I use bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes etc,)

Some stale bread

Seasonings: red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and black pepper.

Method:

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onions and caramelize them for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, and let it simmer for some time. Add the kale along with 1 tbsp of water; cook for 5 minutes till the kale has wilted.

Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté for 2 minutes and take the mixture of the heat.

Grease the oven proof dish lightly, pour your vegetable mixture, beat the eggs with seasoning and add to this mixture. Add the cheese and the stale bread. Mix lightly. You can add some cheese on top for a nice crust.

If you want you can skip the bread and like I said add anything you want, I have not added any meat, but you can always add some chicken sausages or any leftover meats you may have in the fridge. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes at around 200 C. You can put the last 5 minutes in broil for a crisp surface. And voila a healthy sumptuous dinner is ready!

 

 

How to start using Kale

I started cooking when I was in school and started with basics like cheese macaroni and then graduating to stuff like shepherd’s pie. These recipes I would pick up from cutouts from old magazines like femina which my dad would keep in a scrapbook. Those days we didn’t have too much access to restaurants and cookery shows like masterchef that we do now.

Whenever our parents would entertain and a huge number of people were expected, the officers mess (dad was in the army) cook would come to chip in. Which meant me and my sister would spent the whole day observing the cook in the kitchen doing his prep for the party, he would open tins of exotic ingredients and give us scraps to eat. It used to be a great adventure for us.

It was very late in life that I discovered the phenomenon called food blogs. Why I like them over recipe books; is that blogs are like life experiences shared by the bloggers of their experiences with food, or if I can call them experiments with food; and as cooking is a science and an art. Science because the same set of ingredients with different permutations and combinations can create such varied recipes. And art because nothing is more beautiful or colorful than a table laden with good food and mouthwatering too!! I have learnt a lot from these blogs and they are my food inspiration. Will definitely, do a post one day of all my favorites.

Talking about inspiration, have been hearing and reading a lot about kale, and the other day when I was in Godrej Natures basket couldn’t help but notice their fresh stock of Kale. I had never cooked with Kale before and thought why not, let the experiments begin. So the challenge was not to make something exotic but try and incorporate this super food into our regular diet. So I cooked kale two ways one by incorporating it in Thai red curry and second in a crust less quiche that I love making regularly. Heres my recipe for Thai Red curry with Kale

DSC01153 (2)

Thai Red Curry with Kale

Thai red curry with Kale

Usually I make my Thai curry with prawns, but I wanted to try a vegetarian option and also wanted to incorporate kale in my recipe. For this recipe I used a store bought paste, I usually prefer THAI KITCHEN brand (but you can also make your own, it’s very simple) as I had to make a quick lunch. The beauty of this dish is that there is no standard list of vegetables that one can use, I like to change things up and have used from cabbage to pumpkin, depends on what you would like to eat.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil

1 small onion diced

Small piece of ginger grated

2 cloves garlic minced

1 red bell pepper cut in chunks

1 green pepper cut in chunks

Half cup of cauliflower cut in small florets

Half cup carrots chopped in small chunks

Half cup cabbage cut chunks

Half cup broccoli florets

Few baby corn chopped

2 Tbsps red Thai curry paste

One 250 ml coconut milk pack

One and a half cups of kale thinly sliced

One teaspoon palm sugar or brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce (or light soy sauce for vegetarians)

1 tbsp rice vinegar

Thai basil and kafir lime leaves for seasoning

Dried prawns spice seasoning (vegetarians can skip it)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet, add onion and sauté it with a pinch of salt till it is translucent. Add the ginger & garlic and stir well. Add the harder vegetables like cauliflower, carrot, broccoli etc. first. Cook them first for 3 to 5 minutes then add the bell peppers and cabbage, until they are slightly tender.
  2. Stir in the curry paste, cook for 3 to 5 minutes, add half the coconut milk and the kale along with some water and salt and sugar for seasoning.
  3. Bring the mixture to simmer till all vegetables and the kale is tender. It’s always nice to have some crunch in vegetables as you don’t want your veggies to be absolutely soft, especially the kale, a little bite gives great texture to the red curry.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut milk, add the vinegar and fish sauce, and give it a good stir.
  5. Add the basil, kafir and the prawn seasoning. Your curry is ready. Serve it with steamed jasmine rice.

P.S will share the other recipe in my next post.

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