Cook's Hideout: August 2009

August 28, 2009

A.W.E.D-Morocco Announcement

Let me first thank DK for the opportunity to host A.W.E.D event. For the uninformed, A Worldly Epicurean Delight (A.W.E.D) is an event started by DK @ Chef In You where in every month a new Cuisine is chosen and all of us get a chance to cook and showcase the different recipes from that cuisine. After going around the world, this month’s A.W.E.D makes a stop in Morocco or North Africa.

Moroccan cuisine is redolent of exotic spices like saffron, ginger, cinnamon and vivid with the sun-drenched colors of a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables available throughout the year, thanks to the region's mild Mediterranean climate. It is also a cuisine based on ancient traditions that have been handed down through generations of home cooks.
Mediterranean cuisine, including Moroccan cuisine is generating intense interest among culinary professions, due in part to the increased awareness of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Current research has shown that the people of the Mediterranean have one of the lowest incidences of heart disease in the world, leading nutritional experts extol the virtues of a cuisine rich in fresh produce legumes, cereals, pasta and olive oil-all staples of the Moroccan diet.

With all that information, I hope I've inspired enough to cook a Moroccan dish for A.W.E.D-September and send them to me by October 2nd. Here are the rules:
  • Cook a Vegetarian dish, Eggs & Dairy are allowed.
  • Include a link in your post to this announcement and to DK's A.W.E.D Menu page (
  • If you have recipes that are already posted, re-post and include a link to this announcement and DK's menu page.
  • Use of Logo is optional, but much appreciated if used. (See the link bar for smaller logo)
  • Email me at with the following information.
  1. Name
  2. Blog Name
  3. Entry Name
  4. Course Name: Is it an Appetizer, Main course, Dessert, Salad etc
  5. Entry URL
  6. Picture of your creation: Pls resize, so the width of the pic is at least 580px, height doesn't matter.

Here are some very useful sites to help you find Moroccan recipes:
Moroccan Vegetarian Recipes
Vegan Sub Saharan African Recipes
Vegetarian African Recipes
Moroccan Cuisine
Moroccan Recipes

This month's A.W.E.D-German is being hosted by lovely Lakshmi @ Kitchen Chronicles. You still have 5 more days to send in your German dishes over to her.


August 26, 2009

Potlakaya Kura and a little helper

It’s been a week that we came back from our short trip to India, but nothing much is cooking in the kitchen yet. As with all the weddings, it was extremely busy and chaotic the whole time. I need another vacation to get some rest. But tough luck had to get back to work right away and with a toddler who’s half in Indian time zone and half in US time zone, and a cough-cold to add to the mix, it took us almost a week to get back to normal. But all in all we had fun in the wedding especially the little one and got to meet friends and family, which is always nice.

Coming back to reality and the dish on hand: I like simple veggies like sorakaya (doodhi), beerakaya (turai) and potlakaya (Snake gourd) that taste great with very little seasonings and minimum prep work, nothing fancy needed. But my husband is not a big fan of them, so I have to think of ways to jazz them up. That’s how this dish came about and he liked it and ate it without complaining, which is good for me.

Snake gourd – 1 pkg frozen, thawed
Shallot/ Red onion – 1 medium, chopped
Green chilies – 2
Curry leaves – 6
Tomatoes – 2, chopped
Sesame seed powder – 2 tbsp
Red chili powder – ½ tsp (or more to taste)
Rice flour - 1tbsp
Milk – ¼cup
Salt - to taste
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – ½tsp

  • Heat 1tbsp oil in a sauté pan; add mustard seeds and cumin seeds; once the seeds start to splutter; add curry leaves, shallots and green chilies; sauté until shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Then add tomatoes; cover and cook till they turn mushy, takes another 5 minutes.
  • Add the sesame powder & red chili powder; cook for a minute.
  • Now add snake gourd and ½ cup water; cover and cook till it turns tender, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt.
  • Whisk rice flour into milk and add it to the curry; mix well and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Enjoy with rice or roti.
And the little helper I mention in the heading is my 23 month old toddler who gets super excited as soon as he sees me take the tripod out for pictures. He wants to set up the lighting, set the dishes (or mess up the dishes; like in the coconut rice post, I mounded the rice nicely and before I realized he had to put his little touches and off toppled my little mound) and keeps running around me eager to help. I asked him to hold the dish while I take the pictures, so here are his little helping hands.


August 09, 2009

Coconut Rice

Before leaving to India I realized I still had some veggies and these 2 coconuts that need to be used up. So I asked my DH to break the coconuts for me, so I can freeze some of it and make this rice dish with the rest of it. We followed Alton's Brown's method of drilling into the eyes and removing the water and then baking the coconut in a 375degree oven to break the shell. It worked pretty well. Here are some pics of my DH.

This recipe is from Chandhra Padmanabhan's Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine From South India and we really enjoyed the final dish.
I never had decent coconut rice in my whole life; I don’t remember my mom making this dish at home and the ones in the restaurants are always below par (I’m not even sure if they use real fresh coconut). Well anyway, I found my favorite coconut rice recipe and I’m going to be making this more often now. To go with the saada (plain) coconut rice and to use up my huge onions, I made this onion+veggie curry.

Recipe adapted from Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine From South India
Rice (Sona masoori rice is preferred)– 2 cups
Fresh grated coconut – 1½ cups (from about ½ a coconut)
Sesame seeds – 2 tbsp (optional, but highly recommended by me :-D)
Cashews – 3tbsp
Green chilies – 2-3
Curry leaves – 6-10
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Cumin seeds – 1tsp
Urad dal – 1tsp
Chana dal – 1tsp
Dry red Chili – 2
Hing – ½tsp

  • Cook rice and set aside to cool.
  • Dry roast sesame seeds and grind to powder.
  • Heat 1tbsp ghee, add cashews and sauté till lightly browned. Remove and keep aside.
  • Heat 1tbsp ghee; add grated coconut and sauté till reddish brown. Keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add 2tsp oil, add urad dal, chana dal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chili and hing. Once the seeds start to splutter add the green chilies and curry leaves.
  • Add the rice, sesame powder, salt and coconut to the tadka. Turn off heat and mix well. Serve hot.

August 07, 2009

Banana Bread

Before I leave on my extremely short trip to India, I would like to tell you about the award that I received. I’m extremely happy that Sadhana & Muskaan duo, Shanthi & Jisha have passed on Kreativ Blogger Award to me. Thank you guys, you rock.

Here are the rules that come with Kreativ Blogger Award:
1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link the person who has nominated you for the award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated.

I would like to Pass the award to these lovely Bloggers, Congrats guys:
1. Vani @ Mysoorean
2. Priya @ Akshayapaatram
3. Divya Vikram @ Dil-Se
4. DK @ Chef in You
5. Trupti @ The Spice who loved me
6. Vaishali @ Holy Cow
7. Raaga @ Singing Chef

7 Interesting things about me:
1. I’m a textile engineer by profession and work for a children’s apparel retailer in NJ. My husband also a textile engineer and works for a children’s apparel. Some desi jantha find it quite fascinating that both of us are not in software.
2. I hate hypocrisy with passion and I hate politics (especially Indian politics & politicians) with even more passion.
3. I love cooking and trying new foods. I’m open to try any vegetarian dish at least once to see how it tastes.
4. I love grocery shopping, especially in specialty food stores & farmers markets. I tend to stock my pantry on a little heavy side, but I make sure that I use everything before the sell-by date.
5. I love reading fiction novels. I used to read a lot more before I had the baby, but I try to finish at least one novel in a fortnight.
6. I don’t like dirty dishes sitting in my sink, so you can find me cleaning them in between my cooking and I’m not a dish washer user unless it is absolutely necessary.
7. I’m mostly a calm-going person and I can take a lot before getting agitated; but once I reach that limit, then it’s hard for me to calm down.

Enough about me, lets head on to the yummy banana bread that I baked. I bought 2 big bags of bananas to be used for Vara Lakshmi vratam, but unfortunately my DH’s grand mother passed away and I couldn’t perform the pooja. All the bananas ripened in the matter of 2 days and I had to use them ASAP, so I made double batch of this lightly spiced banana bread recipe from King Arthur’s site. I used half AP flour & half white whole wheat flour, subbed raisins for walnuts and used I can’t believe it’s not butter sticks. I was skeptical of how the bread was going to turn out since this is the first time I’m using ICBINB, but the end result was just as tasty.

AP flour – 1 cup
White whole wheat flour – 1¼ cups
Light brown sugar – 2/3 cup
Butter – ½ cup (1 stick), at room temperature
Baking soda – 1tsp
Baking powder – 1tsp
Ground cinnamon – 1tsp
Ground nutmeg – ¼tsp
Salt – 1tsp
Vanilla extract – 1tsp
Ripe bananas – 3 medium, 1½ cups after mashing
Eggs – 2 large
Honey – ¼cup
Orange Marmalade (optional) – 3tbsp
Raisins – ½ cup

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease 9”x5” loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg, beating until smooth.
  • Add the mashed bananas, honey, jam (if using), and eggs, beat again until smooth.
  • Add flour and raisins, stirring just until smooth.
  • Spoon the batter into prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top. Let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  • Bake the bread for 45 minutes, then loosely cover the top with aluminum foil to avoid over browning. Bake for an additional 25minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean, some wet clinging crumbs is fine. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack.

August 02, 2009

JFI: Peanuts Round up

Let me start by thanking Indira for giving me this opportunity to host JFI. Thank you all for participating so enthusiastically and sending in so many delicious dishes with Peanuts.
For the round up I tried to categorize them by course, hope you guys will try these yummy dishes.

Let me start the round up with Ramki @ One Page Cookbooks' 10 Simple Peanut Recipes that has recipes for all the 5 categories below.

Peanut Chutney & Peanut Powders:

It's the brain behind JFI itself, Indira @ Mahanandi, she sent in her Spicy Peanut Butter which can be great as a chutney or a dip or even gravy for a fabulous Indian curry.
Jaya @ Jaya Space sent in her Peanut & Sesame Chutney which she says is a staple in her house. Looking at the picture, I would like to have some everyday too.
Kalyani @ Kalyani's Kitchen sent in her delicious looking Peanut Chutney which is super easy to make.
Lubna @ Yummy Food sent in her Spicy Peanut Powder that can be stored for 10-15 days and can make a boring breakfast, exciting.
Nivedita @ Nivedita's Kitchen sends in her Peanut Chutney Powder which she says is a staple in Northern Karnataka households.
Preeti @ Khaugiri sends in her Peanut Powder/ Danyacha Kut which is used in koshimbirs, stuffed curries and fasting foods like sabudana khichdi.
Sri Nithya @ Andhra Spice sends in her version of Spicy Peanut Powder/ Palli Podi. Looks like each state in India has its own version of Peanut powders.
Saritha @ My Kitchen Aroma sends in her Peanut powder/ Palli Podi.
Finally my two entries: Peanut Chutney & Peanut Chutney Powder.

Peanutty Curries:

Dipti @ There's a duckie in my kitchen sent in her easy Potato Bhaji with Peanuts.
Graziana @ Erbe in Cucina sends in a very unique dish with Curry Plant and Peanut Butter.
Kalyani @ Kalyani's Kitchen sends in a Hyderabadi favorite Mirchi Ka Salaan.
UPDATE 8/07: Nisha @ Nisha's Kitchen sent her delicious Beans Fry with Peanut. I apologize for missing your entries Nisha.

Muskaan @ A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine sends in a curry with very interesting combo of Okra & Peanuts that is good and also good for you.
Preeti @ Khaugiri sends in her Peanut Curry/ Danyachi Amti which is usually made as a fasting dish.
Priya Suresh @ Priya's Easy N Tasty recipes sends in my favorite curry with my favorite combo: Brinjal & Peanut Curry.
Sadhana @ A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine sends in yet another one of my favorite ways to eat brinjal & peanuts: Eggplants Stuffed with Peanuts & Spices.
Sanghi @ Sanghi's Food Delights sends in her Potato Peanut Poriyal (now that's an aliteration that's tasty too)
Sumi @ Sumi's Kitchen sends in one more of my fav. combo: Eggplant curry with Peanuts.
Suparna @ Mirch Masala sends in her Peanut Curry which is usually eaten on fasting days.
Finally its my Kakarakaya palli masala Kura/ Bitter Gourd in peanut gravy.
Rice/ Pasta & Grains with Peanuts:

Aarti @ Aarthi's Kitchen sends in her simple and easy Peanut Rice.
EC @ Simple Indian Food sent in her delicious Peanut Masala Bhath.
Jyoti @ Panch Pakwan sent in her Indian Style Pasta with Peanuts.
Muskaan @ A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine sent in her Indo-Thai Whole Wheat Noodles.
Vidya @ Humming in the Kitchen sent in her healthy and delicious Quinoa Pilaf with Peanuts.

Crunchy & Nutty Salads/ Snacks:

Faiza Ali @ Faiza Ali's Kitchen sends in her delicious snack mix: Poha Chivda.
Jisha @ Kerala Recipes sent in her yummy Boiled Peanut Salad.
Meera @ Enjoy Indian Food sent in her Peanut Stir Fry/ Danyanchi Usal.
Nutan @ Rice N Spice sent in her very innovative and delicious Peanut Butter Murku.
Pari @ Foodelicious sends in her Crunchy Mixed Veggie Salad with Peanut Dressing.
Prasu @ Prasu Kitchen sent in her Raw Banana Appetizer.
Sanghi @ Sanghi's Food Delights sent in her Kadala Paruppu Sundal.
Satya @ Satya's Cooking experiments sent in her simple yet delicious Boiled Peanuts.
Shanthi @ Shanthi Krishnakumar's Cookbook sent her Groundnut Sundal.
Sudha @ Malaysian delicacies sent in Special Rougail Style brinjal with is a West Indian delicacy.
Sujata @ Mere Chulhe Se... sent in my all time favorite Sabudana Khichdi.

Peanut Desserts:

UPDATE 8/07: Nisha @ Nisha's Kitchen sent her Peanut Til Ladoo.

Rekha @ Plantain Leaf sends her Peanut Brittle/ Palli Chikki.
Sadhana @ A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine sends her nutritious Oats N Peanut Butter Cookies.
Shri @ Tasty Touch sends her Peanut Toffee.
Let me know if I missed any entries. I apologize in advance if that happened.
Have a great week guys. Thanks again.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin
Blogging tips