Thursday, January 28, 2010

Soy Mushroom Pulao

The Lovely Pulao

What kind of a cook are you ? Are you the perfect kind, the ones who have perfected their techniques and recipes such that each time they make a Matar Paneer or Baingan Bharta, the outcome is exactly same. That the result does not vary if the quantity changes from 5 to 50, it remains exactly same day in and day out.

Me, I like to say I am a romantic cook, that sounds better than whimsical. I cook as my mood dictates, as the sun shines or the rain falls, as the kids torment or play happily. I will put a pinch of this here, a whiff of that there. I will put in ingredients that the recipe might not call for and skip something listed. I will smell and sniff and taste and depending on whether I have a cold or not, the dish might turn out to be
a) as delicious as last week
b) delicious but different from last week
c) un palatable.
Ok, just kidding, I will salvage most of the un-palatable ones but such things will happen.

It is blogging that has kind of restrained me, tried to straitjacket me, forced me to follow the recipes that I have jotted down here and so these days my Palak Paneer will turn out like before but only if the laptop has power and is not being used by the older kid.


Take last week for example. Sometime around mid last week there was Saraswati Puja( more here), the day we pay our obeisance to the Goddess of Learning. Learning anything, something being BIG in Bengali households, the Goddess Saraswati is paid due respect in every home on this day. I had plans for the same but mornings being very hectic around here, I postponed it to evening.

Though we are talking Halwa, this IS a Pulao

Come evening I realized that to do the Puja I need to offer Prasad, after all what is a Puja without some sweet prasad. In haste I set off to make a Sooji(Rawa) Halwa. Now guys, sooji halwa is not exactly the thing you need to learn at Cordon Bleu. It is supposed to be easy peasy and you should be able to sail through the process and create an aromatic halwa even with a toddler hoisted on your hip.

So that is exactly what I did. I picked up the toddler who was trying to climb up her Mom's legs, a child eager to learn techniques of "making sooji halwa" early on and with her perched on my ample hip, I proceeded to make the halwa. Before even I knew it, I could sense the halwa was going the wrong way. It wasn't roasted to pale brown, it had a freaking white color, the sugar was not enough and the milk was slowly making it into a lump.

It was a halwa that would have scarred the genteel Goddess. It was so bad that the rawa must have been ashamed to find itself in such a state.

I was having doubts 'bout offering it to the academic Lady of Learning. Who cares I thought ? I have learned all my life's lessons and there isn't much that Goddess Saraswati can help me learn more anyway. But then you never know. What if MIT offers me a scholarship for research on blogging tomorrow, I wouldn't refuse, would I ?

So we got rid of that halwa and got some sweets from the store and appeased the Goddess, hope she didn't mind and shall continue to enlighten me.

There I told you it IS NOT about the halwa, it IS the Pulao

But this post is not about halwa. It is about a Pulao, a pulao that has turned out well almost always. A easy One Pot Dish that saves me on many busy days, days when I have time to blog but alas no time to cook.

I have made it as the Soy Peas Pulao earlier, a version based on Tarla Dalal's Recipe. But this time I made some changes as is my nature and added mushroom and vegetables along with soy chunks. If you notice keenly, I have also changed the spices a little. This made the dish Soy Mushroom Pulao and it tasted so very good. I made it again this week and again I made some changes, I added asparagus, next week we shall see...

Soy Mushroom Pulao

What You Need

Uncooked Rice ~ 1 & 1/2 cup of Basmati Rice
Soya Chunks ~ 1/2 cup of Nutrela Soya Chunks
Peas and Carrots (fresh or frozen) ~ 3/4 cup
Mushroom -- 1 cup sliced button mushrooms

Onions ~ 1 cup chopped

For tempering

Cumin seeds (jeera) ~ 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon (dalchini) ~ 1" stick
Cloves (lavang) ~ 2
Bay leaf ~ 2
Cardamom (elaichi) ~ 2

For masala

Turmeric powder (haldi) ~ ¼ teaspoon

Garam masala ~ 1/2 teaspoon or fresh Nutmeg Powder 1/4 tsp
Coriander (dhania) powder ~ ½ tsp (You can use 1 tsp of this, but I kept it low)
Cumin (jeera) Powder ~ 1/2 tsp

Oil ~2 tbsp
Ghee ~ ½ - 1 tsp to smear the rice (optional)
salt to taste
Sugar -- 1/4 tsp

To be ground into a chilli-garlic paste

3 fat cloves garlic
3 whole red chillies
1" ginger peeled and chopped

How I Did It


Wash 1 & 1/2 cups of Basmati rice in several changes of water and spread it out to dry for 15-20 mins.

Make a smooth paste of
3 cloves of garlic,
3 Dry Red Chili( heat alert, use less if needed !!!),
1" peeled and chopped ginger
with little water

Soak 1/2 cup of soy chunks in hot salted water till the chunks swell and become soft. Once they are soft squeeze excess water out and keep aside

Start Cooking

Heat 2 tbsp of White Oil in a Kadhai or Saute Pan

Temper the oil with

2 Cardamom/Elaichi,
2 Clove/Laung,
1" stick of Cinnamon,
2 small Bay Leaf,
approx. 1 tsp of Cumin Seeds/Jeera

When the spices start dancing, add 1 cup of finely chopped red onion. Fry the onion till it turns a pinkish brown

Now add the chili-ginger-garlic paste and saute for couple more minutes till the wonderful garlic flavor hits you

Add 3/4 cup of chopped carrots and peas. I usually have a frozen mix of peas and carrots and use that. Saute for 2 minutes

Add 1 cup of sliced button mushrooms and follow with the soy chunks. Saute for next 2-4 minutes till there is no raw smell of the mushrooms and there is no more water released from the mushroom.

Now add
1/2 tsp of Cumin Powder

and 1/2 tsp of Corriander powder
and little turmeric.
With a sprinkle of water fry the masala till the masala coats the vegetables, mushroom and soy chunks. Note: Add more spices if you have more veggies and mushroom

Add the rice. Fry the rice till you get a beautiful aroma.

Now the rice needs to cook. For 1 & 1/2 cups of rice, I add about 2&1/2-3 cups of water. Add salt to taste. I also add about 1/4 tsp of grated fresh nutmeg. This lends a wonderful flavor. If you don't have Nutmeg add 1/2 tsp Garam Masala instead. Mix everything gently and let the rice cook .
Note: You might need little more water if the water has dried up and rice is not cooked.

When the rice is done, add 1/2 tsp of ghee to boost the flavor and 1/4 tsp of sugar and mix gently at low heat. Turn off the heat,cover and let it sit for 10 minutes and then serve with some cool raita.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mung Bean Soup -- Moong Dal Ayurveda way

Mung Bean is BIG in Ayurveda. As I read through I see whole green mung(moong) dal referred to having magical and powerful effects. It seems to be as magical as the magical bean of Jack and the Bean Stalk.

"Mung bean soup pacifies all three doshas and is nutritious yet easy to digest. Mung Bean Soup recipe is used to clear even the most chronic, troublesome digestive issues and used to enhance overall health and vitality."

Really ??? You say to yourself. Those tiny shiny green beans and they want you to make a soup of it, a dal actually, and that dal is supposed to get rid of the toxins in your body ??? Whoa, and you fall right into it and before you know you have this big pot of green moong dal bubbling on the stove and you are having a bowl full of it everyday. It does not exactly detox if you follow it up with cut mirchi bhaji and samosas with your afternoon chai but what the...

Actually the green mung(moong) dal is pretty delicious. Made the Ayurvedic way without the onions and garlic, makes it not rich but very tasty. I deviated from the recipe a little and followed my Mom's way,added vegetables like cauliflower and carrots. I think greens like spinach would be a very good idea too.

The split and hulled moong dal, which is the yellow moong dal has equal magical properties and you can use that instead of whole green mung beans. The yellow moong dal cooks faster and is also easier to digest.

When you are making the mung bean soup and you want to follow the Ayurveda detox regime you need to determine which category you fall in. Depending on the dosha you have you have to use different spices. The recipe I have here is loosely based on Kapha Balancing Mung Bean Soup. I have used whole green mung and also the pressure cooker. You can use yellow moong and do it in a regular pot.


Green Mung Bean Soup

Wash and soak 1 cup of whole green moong beans for couple of hours or overnight. You can skip the soaking if in a hurry.

Pressure cook the beans with double the water, little salt and 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder

Heat Ghee in a soup pot. I used Olive Oil about 3 tsp

Temper the oil with
1/2 tsp of Whole Cumin/Whole Jeera
1/2 tsp of Whole Fennel/Whole Saunf,
6-7 whole Fenugreek seeds/Whole Methi seeds
and a pinch of asafoetida/Hing

If adding vegetables add them now and saute for a few minutes

Add the cooked mung beans

Add 1" ginger grated or pounded in a mortar and pestle

Add 1/2 tsp of fresh corriander powder and salt to taste. Mix well. Add about 2 cups of water and let the dal come to a boil. At this point you can blend the dal to make a puree, I do not.

Adjust for seasonings. Squeeze juice of a lime quarter and enjoy hot.


Skip step 2 i.e. do not pressure cook the dal at the beginning. Instead start the whole process in a pressure cooker and pressure cook the dal after adding all the spices.

I am sending this off to MLLA -19 hosted by Simple Indian Food and the brainchild of Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Detoxifying Tea -- the Cleanse

Yesterday I had two uninterrupted hours to myself, bang in the middle of the day, a rare opportunity on a week day. I could have taken a much needed shower, cooked something more elaborate than serving up masoor dal, baked tilapia and aloo-gajar yet again or at least cooked something, anything. But did I do that ? No.

Instead I googled for "detox diet ayurveda 3 days". Don't ask me why. Maybe I overdid the Biryani that we got on Sunday and the body was sending toxic signals.At least I didn't ask for "detox diet in a packet". Ok hold on, let me google this. Guess what there IS a detox diet in a packet, what fun, packaged, processed and with all the chemicals.

But the ayurveda detox thingy is not easy. They don't do things fast, to do it the right way, you need 60 whole days, S-I-X-T-Y, who has that ? But they have a point, the body is like your child, no point hurrying it, it is best to go with the flow, to let things balance out gradually.
"A complete ayurvedic cleansing program includes 15 days of preparation and 45 days of actual cleansing. Ayurvedic healers recommend paying special attention to your diet during these two phases to avoid overtaxing your digestion and to enable purification to occur easily and completely. Maharishi Ayurveda does not recommend fasting or entirely liquid diets such as juices, because that may cause your digestive agni to become imbalanced."

Why Do You Need to Detox ?

According to Ayurveda, there are three different types of toxins that can impact the physiology: ama -- the waste product of incomplete digestion, amavisha -- the reactive form of ama i.e ama + other doshas and garvisha -- external toxins from the environment, exposure to chemicals etc..

Ayurveda recommends a program of internal cleansing at every change of seasons to clear the channels of the body of toxins that may have built up over the previous season. Detox is particularly recommended at the time when winter is phasing into spring.

The Detox Routine according to Ayurveda

The following is a general guideline of what to eat and to avoid during this phase.

To know more in details about the kind of fruits and vegetables that you can eat depending on your body type, check this Food Guidelines

Along with the diet you also need to follow a routine of sleep, exercise and massaging. And then there is the eating habit you need to follow, of never skipping a meal and eating slowly, chewing each morsel.

Basically "the Ayurveda Detox Diet is what your Mom has been telling you since you were six and you never listened until Google told you to".

But seriously what I like about the detox plan is the use of spices in cooking the vegetables.

"Ginger, turmeric, coriander, fennel and fenugreek help open up the channels of the body and support the flushing of toxins via the skin, urinary tract, colon and liver"

These were the main spices (along with Nigella seeds and mustard seeds) that were used in the everyday Bengali Food that my Ma made. She did not use garlic or onions much and neither does everyday home cooked Bangla meals call for that. Everyday Bengali food is light, subtly spiced, not much garlic, onion, red chili or cream and tends to retain the texture and taste of the vegetables. Ahh, if we could just add some fish to that detox diet, I could have sealed the deal

Main Reference: Ayurvedic Detox Diet -- Maharishi Ayurveda

Though I don't have the determination or resources to go on a sixty day detox diet right now and I need to use up the 20% discount coupons at the local restaurants, I decided to do my body some good by making and sipping the Detoxifying Tea throughout the day.

This is a very light and extremely easy to make tea. A big cup of this and small sips throughout the day will help you feel good about yourself and you will also get all the water. Just drinking this tea alone will do nothing to detox I am sure but here's to a better beginning.


Detox Tea

Original Recipe

Bring to boil two quarts of water in the morning.

Add 1/4 t. whole cumin,
1/2 t. whole coriander,
1/2 t. whole fennel to the water and let steep for ten minutes with the lid on. I also added some fresh grated ginger and 3-4 Tulsi(Holy Basil) leaves.

Strain out the spices and pour the water into a thermos.

Sip throughout the day.

Disclaimer: I am not a Doctor. Biology was not even amongst my main 4 subjects in High School

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kundru Posto -- Tindora in Poppy Seeds Paste

I am a sucker for Posto. Even as a kid, I loved Posto more than anyone at home. Posto or the tiny beige seeds of Indian Poppy(Khus Khus), ground and seasoned with mustard oil, green chili and little coarse salt, the Kancha Posto bata was a favorite. The fresh smell of the wet ground posto, ground with little water on the shil-nora the black pock marked stone, was like the smell of the wet earth after the first rain. When this ground paste was mixed with a liberal sprinkle of golden yellow pungent mustard oil and slit fiery green chilis the simple paste became filled with a sharp new taste. With white rice it was heaven. The bare wet ground posto formed the base of several other dishes in Posto loving Bengal. The mornings my Ma doled out those fine beige poppy seeds to be soaked in water and later to be made into a paste by the daily house help, I would be ecstatic. I knew there would be alu posto, posto'r bara(poppy seed paste mixed with rice flour etc. and made into fritters) and always a little posto bata waiting for me at dinner. My Probashi and Ghoti family teased me for my love of Posto. They said, that I should be married off to a Bangal and then I could have as much Posto as I liked.Being away from Bengal for long, they didn't know that Posto or Poppy seeds was not a staple for the Bangal, in fact for people from East Bengal(now Bangladesh) Posto is not even deemed as important as it is to People from West Bengal. Posto was actually the food of the people of Rarh, the "land of red soil" on the westernmost corner of West Bengal. More so for the people of Bankura and Birbhum district in this area. This region has a very dry and hot climate and they believe posto has the effect of a coolant and protects them against the heat. In the days when there was no restriction in cultivating Indian poppy and farmers in this area grew poppy in abundance, the posto seeds became an integral part of their diet. A mid morning meal of posto and bhaat protected the farmers from the searing, dry heat as they worked in the open fields. As the price of the posto or Indian Poppy seeds has been rising, the poor in Bengal can hardly afford an ingredient which once formed a key part of their meal.

Now to the Kundru Posto or Tindora in Poppy Seeds Paste

Kundru or Tindora was not vegetable common in Bengal. I can barely recall any Kundru-is dish from my childhood. In fact Tindora is or was as far removed from the Bengali Food Culture as is Posto Bata from the Punjabis. I started cooking Tindora or Kundru only after coming to the US, sometimes you need to travel miles to recognize something that was once close to you.But even then I made it not too often. 

When I saw Sharmila's Kundru Sabzi, I loved the idea of tossing the vegetable with so many spices and then cooking it. And then I also loved how a friend made fried Tindora with some whole poppy seeds sprinkled on top. 

So why not make a Kundru Posto I thought and as a fusion why not toss the Kundru with some spices before cooking ? And that is how we made Kundru Posto or Tindora in Poppy seeds paste, an inter-region marriage of a vegetable and a condiment from two different regions of India. A bowlful of this vegetable followed with a bowl of dal is a satisfying meal by itself. But to get the full flavor and taste you need to eat it with white rice Read more...

Kundru Posto

Sadly I have no measurements and will update this recipe when I remember to take measures next time

Chop Kundru or Tindora vertically in 4 longitudinal slices. 
Chop Potato in long half-moon slices

In a bowl toss the chopped kundru/tindora with little cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder , dry mango powder(aam choor), little turmeric and salt

Heat Mustard Oil in a Kadhai. 
Add the Tindora and saute for 5-6 minutes until it is soft. Remove and keep aside.

Now temper the oil with Nigella Seeds/Kalonji and Dry Red Chili When the spices pop, add the potatoes and saute with a sprinkle of Turmeric powder .
Saute for a 4-5 minutes. Add the sauteed Tindora. Cover with a lid and saute intermittently till kundru softens. 

Add poppy seeds paste, salt and a little sugar, and mix well. Add a little water and cook till the tindora is cooked and the water has dried up. Adjust for salt and seasonings.

Other similar Posto dishes: Alu Posto Jhinge Chingri Posto

Trivia:In 1757 the last nawab of Bengal was dethroned by the British East India Company, who concentrated on maximizing the cultivation of opium in Bengal. The drug promised to generate huge profits, not only in the local market, but also in a far bigger one—China. The company’s greed was so great that at one point they forced farmers in much of Bengal to devote all their arable land to its cultivation. So it’s not surprising that the posto seeds produced in this enormous poppy-growing zone became such an important element in the local diet. (From this lovely article by Chitrita Banerjee)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kundru Posto Not

Ok, so that 7 Day Challenge I was doing last week didn't work. I mean didn't work as in I fell off the wagon *THWACK* 3 days into it. Not my fault really, it was the hub.

He went and got goat meat on Day 4. Who does that, tell me ? If I am saying "lean meat" or "no meat" how does it point to this. But then again he did it for Baby A's nanny, who is going away on a vacation and so we wanted to have a special dinner for her before she left. On the aside, we also wanted her to cook that goat meat, 'coz she makes it real good. So long story short, I had goat meat with white rice on Day 4 which is a sacrilege if you are doing "7 Day of No Carb" and which thus declares the whole Challenge null and void.

But seriously we all need a lifestyle change. Boys in the age of 6 to 19 in this country, have an obesity problem and this year the data shows that though the obesity epidemic in the US had reached a plateau, boys in this age are an exception. Now why do you think it is ONLY boys in this age group are affected ? What about girls ? It is not that I want girls to go and eat junk and be obese but really what is the difference in their metabolism that is making the poor boys fatter ? I think teenage girls have a controlled weight more due to societal pressure than a healthier lifestyle and I really don't know which one is better.

One thing I have noticed though, other than the daily intake of unhealthy foods by kids here there is very little in terms of exercise in the schools, especially in the winter months. As a kid, our school had an hours recess and 2 huge playgrounds, not to mention the basketball court. Everyday after lunch we would play some game that required a lot of running and sweating.

In sharp contrast here in my daughter's school, the recess during the winter months is spent in the classroom doing sedentary work. There is little or no regular exercise at home either, now if you add McD to all this, what do you get -- OBESITY.

But all is not lost for the boys. The Y chromosome which appeared to be in "an evolutionary freefall" with just 70 or 80 genes left, is not receding. Even with the less number of genes that it has right now, Y chromosome is evolving at a faster and rapid pace. So Men do change, hmmmmmpf !!!!

I liked what one of the commenters said in this article "So, this means that female genes help us trace where we've been and male genes can tell us where we're heading to"

Now back to food. I had Kundru Posto in my draft today waiting to be posted . But I am not going to post it. Instead I will ask you to take a moment and spare a thought for Haiti. They need clean water, food and shelter. In short they need your help. If you want to make donations to charities involved in the earthquake relief effort at Haiti, you can select one from the list here.

To make donations to Haiti Earthquake Children's Fund go here

You can also donate for a shelterbox, more information at Jugalbandi.

The recipe, we will do that tomorrow. Oh and no pithe puli this Sankranti, maybe next time.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Dry Roasted Spicy Chickpea Salad -- Going local ?


I am the kind of consumer who is pro organic because my primary concern is safety in food. Though due to cost and restricted availability I do not buy everything organic.

I did not rely much on "local food" because I do not have access to good locally grown produce. The nearby Farmers market that I go to have lovely produce, very good price but produce is never ever seasonal. If I compare their produce to this Harvest Dates for Jersey, it can only mean produce there is NOT local. Neither is the produce there certified organic. I am confused.

During summer the only local vegetables that I have seen in limited quantity(as sold in Wegmans or Whole Foods) is Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Tomatoes and Corn.

So if I want to eat Local I have a choice of very few vegetables and that too only during 5-6 months of the year. Not practical.

After I expressed my own doubts about Local Food on reading Indosungod's very informative post, I read the comments and felt I needed to know more and re-evaluate my decision . I then ventured into a little more research. Disclaimer: The following is information that I have gathered over the internet and then my interpretation.

Why we should buy Local

Local is really important as a deep investment into your local economy and developing a relationship with the person who produces your food. Local food is also fresher and more richer in nutrients. Proponents of Local Food say "Local" is the new "Organic". In an ideal world food would have been "Local and Organic". There would be no other kind and no discussion.

Is Local Sustainable ?

While dreams of our future food system may rely on the romantic image of local farmers, the reality is: this model(Local or Organic or both) can't do what we need it to do, that is, feed billions of people. From TreeHugger. But really is there an alternative, organic farming method that is sustainable ?

But Is Local always Safe and Organic ?

This largely depends on where you are and also on the trust relationship you have with the grower. If I don't know the farmer or am not sure if there is a vigilant body checking the farmer's activity, I cannot be sure of his method of growing food. The CSAs or the CoOps are more trustworthy.(Read Times Article)
The trust and the local farming practice also also depends on the country where you are. We tend to think of only the Western World when discussing such stuff.

Local Farming and Environment

It is not necessarily true that Local Food has a lower carbon footprint. More than transport, methods of growing impacts "food miles". It is likely to be more environmentally friendly for tomatoes to be grown in Spain and transported to the UK than for the same tomatoes to be grown in greenhouses in the UK requiring electricity to light and heat them.(Read more)

Local Farming and Third World Countries

If people in developed nations are convinced to eat only locally grown food what happens to the farmer in the third world country whose income is from exporting his produce. Afghanistan produces some of the world’s tastiest fruits and nuts. If these do not reach the world market how does that country better its economy ?
Also take an ordinary farmer in India. The prices of locally produced food is usually higher because they are not subsidized. Because of WTO's free trade policies it will be very hard for a poor farmer in India to compete his local grown produce with imported ones. So then is local food only a privilege of people in wealthier nations ?
I don't have much knowledge on this and really would love to know more about how local farming works in developing nations

How does Local fare in a Global Flat world

Local had always been how produce was grown when I was a kid. Food was seasonal and my Mother did without tomatoes and cauliflower in summer and didn't make mango chutney in winter. We waited for the fruit and vegetable of the season and accepted nature's way. Now with world going flat food is not only non-seasonal, it has also gone global. So even if you have moved countries and shifted loyalties you can still eat your jackfruit curry for lunch and suck on an alphonso mango after dinner. How do you put a stop to that craving and go local ?

Conclusion as a Consumer

"If the average meat eater gave up meat once a week that would be the equivalent of eating all of your food local."
—James McWilliams, author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly. From The TakeAway.

Eat Organic and Local as and when you can but they truly might not be the answer to building a sustainable food system. For each of us eating local or organic may mean different thing and I think it is largely a personal choice.
I was reading a book by Bourdain and there he talked about a sushi place in New York, the most expensive restaurant where they fly in fish from Japan every single day. If patrons of this sushi place, the rich & the famous of NYC, drive a 3 hrs distance from the city to a farm to get their local produce because buying local makes them feel warm and fuzzy and "in with the crowd", I will think the idea is somewhere defeated.

References from

Wiki -- Local Food
Wiki -- Organic Food
Eating Better than Organic -- Times
Food That Travels Well - NY Times

Now back to these lovely dry roasted chickpeas spiced with Indian spices. They are great as a snack and also makes for a very healthy and satisfying meal. That they look pretty is an added bonus.


Inspired by Kalyn's Roasted Chickpeas with Moroccan Spice.

Dry Roasted Spicy Chickpea Salad

Wash canned chickpeas in several changes of water. I used a 29oz can of Goya Garbanzo

In a bowl toss garbanzo beans with
1 & 1/2 - 2 tsp Dry Mango Powder
1/2 - 1 tsp Red Chili Powder
1/2 - 1 tsp fresh Coriander powder
(grind coriander seeds in your spice grinder),
little Kitchen King Masala(optional),
1 tsp Olive Oil

Heat oven to 350F

Put the chickpeas in a single layer on a tray and bake for 30-40 mins or so.

To eat as a salad, toss together the roasted chickpeas with some peeled and chopped cucumber,chopped red onions and finely chopped green chili. Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil and combine. Add salt and pepper if needed

This made for a very filling and also satisfying packed lunch for work. Though I suggest that it tastes better when had fresh off the oven and tossed as a salad.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Mr. Pinto ? Bean there Done That

A couple of days back I was driving to the mall with Big Sis S in the backseat. A lot of things were going through my mind including how best to avail of the discount at Bath & Body Works.

When S from the back squeals: "What is WOW"?

Me: "That's a gym."

S: "Why does it say Wow ?"

Preoccupied Me: "Dunno". Actually it is "Work Out World"

S: "I know. Wow as in WOW you are so fat, you will become thin if you join me !!!"

Me: "!!!"

I need a WOW factor in my life. I need catcalls, to fit into skinny jeans, to wear fitted tees. I have a mid age crisis, I think I am sixteen. No seriously who am I kidding, I don't want any of those, I just want to be fit enough to survive, sitting down cross-legged on the floor 560 times, bending down to pick up toys 250 times, going up&down 100 times, kneeling down to mop a spill 90 times like any other Mom does. For all else there is Photoshop.

To achieve that I have two options. I either take Google Ad's tip that keeps appearing on my sidebar like a bad dream or I take this month to eat well, well as in healthy, more vegetables, more fish, more fruits, less meat, no sugar, no processed food, no grains well. Since I did this 7 Day Challenge last year, I keep going back to it every month or so. Even a week of this restricted eating helps me feel better about myself.

Pssst, but seriously how does Google know that I need tips and maybe more to get a flat belly ?

Whenever I have such healthy eating agenda on mind I browse through Kalyn's blog. She has wonderful SBD friendly recipes and so does Sig. This Pinto Bean recipe that I have today is adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen's this recipe.

Now I had never been to Rubios and so had no clue what she was talking about. But then again I had never tried cooking pinto beans either. But all that talk about creamy, "not refried" beans hooked me on. I loosely adapted her recipe and now am a big fan of Rubios, wherever it is. A creamy chunky bowl of these beans will fill you up and satisfy your hunger as well as taste cravings.


Creamy Pinto Bean

I have no measurements and you shouldn't really need any. Follow Kalyn's recipe to cook and mash the beans.

Soak Dried Pinto Beans in water overnight or for at least 12 hrs. Note: If not soaking, cooking time will be longer

Cook them in pressure cooker with salt, coarsely ground black pepper and little of finely minced garlic. I had to pressure cook mine twice about 10-15 mins each time. You need the beans to be really soft, falling apart kind so if it is not done after the first 15 minutes do it again in second stage.

With the back of a spatula or a potato masher vigorously mash the beans until they are almost mashed but about 25% of them are still chunky. You don't want to mash all of them. Note: You can make a big batch of this and freeze. When needed spice it up. I would suggest not to add garlic if you intend to freeze, it might become too garlicky

Now comes my own story of spicing up everything

Heat olive oil in a deep bottom pot

Add some sliced onions and minced garlic and fry till onion is soft and translucent.

Add Pav Bhaji masala and a little red chili powder. Add the cooked and mashed beans and mix well. Adjust for salt and seasoning. Add a little water and let the beans simmer and thicken. Stir in between till you feel the creaminess is perfect.

While serving garnish with roasted garlic pods and chopped coriander. You can squirt a little lime juice if you wish. That red sumac on top is just for the pictures, you don't really need it.

More healthy eats

Trivia:The pinto bean (Spanish: frijol pinto, literally "painted bean") is named for its mottled skin. It is the most common bean in the United States and northwestern Mexico.Rice and pinto beans served with cornbread or corn tortillas are often a staple meal for the poor where there is limited money for meat; the amino acids in this combination make it a complete protein source

Monday, January 04, 2010

Kolkata Egg Roll -- quick easy version

Vacation over for Big Sis S and kind of for us. Big Sis S proclaimed that it was her best vacation ever and why, 'coz she was allowed to stay up til midnight almost every day of last week. With a party almost every other day, a sleepover, a late night show of "The Princess and the Frog", dancing past midnight on New Year Eve and a birthday bash at her favorite jumping place, no doubt she had fun. It turns out Baby A likes a lot of hullabaloo and jumping. She was sleepy and yet dancing with the older kids on 31st.I had a very relaxed time too, watched "3 Idiots" and ate, ate and ate. Did I say I ate, a lot.

I seriously wanted to go on a diet of nothing but salads from Sunday but then D made these delicious egg rolls and I thought "the salad can wait to add woe to Monday morning blues, why spoil Sunday".

Egg Rolls are the most popular of all street foods in Kolkata. In fact "phuchka"(golgappa) and "egg roll" were the only street food that I was allowed to eat as an angsty teenager. "Phuchka" was more of a girlie kind of a thing and though some of my friends survived on a diet of "phuchka" and "tak water"(sour tamarind water), I wasn't one of them. When it came to egg roll it was another story. I can give anything for the authentic egg roll.

Even now when I go back home, the first thing I reach out for after the jet lag period is the egg roll at the street corner. That upsets my now mollycoddled tummy, I take entroquinols and after the dosage is done, again reach out for the egg roll.

All egg rolls or egg chicken rolls are not created equal and so do not spoil your senses by chomping on a egg roll at a tom-dick-harry place. If in Kolkata go out with a connoisseur to the right place. Hot Kati on the corner of Park Street was my personal favorite. Their rolls were oh so good. My Baba used to get egg roll from a place near home (some branch of Rahmania) which was also great. D's town has its own favorite egg roll stall and they swear by it.Every para(neighborhood) has their own famous egg roll counter and also their very own famous phuchkawala and you need to know the locals for that information.Update 01/07: Jhantu's Roll on the corner of NMC and Brabourne is another one that we would haunt often.

Here in the US, the Kati Roll Company in NYC makes great egg rolls. But everyone does not live in NYC so then what does one do ? You make your own of course. D makes great egg rolls, really really great. Not only me, everyone else who has had it, loves it. It is very close to the authentic one and his version is the quickest and easiest . He uses Kawan Malaysian paratha as the base and so no doubt he serves delicious rolls in less than 6 min flat.

Kolkata style egg roll is the perfect fast food in my imagination. Standing on the corner of a busy city street, biting into an egg roll, tearing the wrapper around, gulping a coke on the way back from work or college is something I would love to do maybe everyday. Ok, except the busy city part, that I don't like.

Get this recipe in my Book coming out soon. Check this blog for further updates. 

Follow this step by step recipe and you can make and enjoy yours too.


Kolkata Style Egg Roll

Buy Malayasian Paratha. This is really IMPORTANT. The quality of the Paratha plays an important part in egg roll. If making your own paratha, make the dough with Maida(All Purpose Flour) and enough shortening so that the paratha is very soft and pliable, You can use tortilla or the regular parathas, but it WILL NOT taste the same. The Malaysian parathas are very soft and make perfect rolls

Heat a tawa or a griddle on the stove. Put the paratha and cook both sides. Remove and keep aside

Beat one egg + 1 tbsp whole milk + little salt

Smear the tawa/griddle/frying pan with little oil and pour the egg. Spread it out in a circle.

Once the egg is a little cooked on the edges, put the paratha on top

When the edges of the egg starts browning flip the paratha + egg.Give it a couple of seconds

Remove and assemble the filing. The filling goes only on the egg side.The standard filing for a Kolkata egg roll is thinly sliced red onions, thinly chopped green chili and thinly sliced cucumber. Squirt a little lime juice on them and put the filling on the center. Add tomato ketchup in a thin squiggly line along the center.

Roll, wrap it up in a foil or any paper, even newsprint and eat.

Check out other egg rolls around the blogs:

Sudeshna's Egg Roll

Mandira's Tortilla egg roll

Egg Roll Hangouts in Mumbai -- Kalyan likes fried onions in his roll

Trivia:The egg roll with chicken or other such stuffing is also known as kati roll. Kati roll is street-food originating from Kolkata, India. Its original form was a kati kabab enclosed in a paratha, but over the years many variants have evolved all of which now go under the generic name of Kati Roll.