Cook's Hideout: January 2007

January 29, 2007

Potato Rosti and Tofu with fresh Tomato and Ginger Sauce

Its that time again for Jihva for Ingredients (JFI) and this time its being hosted by Rosie of What's the recipe today Jim? The ingredient for this month is Ginger.
My entry for the event is "Potato Rosti and Tofu with fresh Tomato and Ginger Sauce", thats a long name.. isn't it?? It also has various components, but it is not difficult to make and the finished results is well worth the effort. Make sure that the tofu is marinated for atleast one hour to allow it to absorb the flavors of ginger, garlic and tamari. (Recipe is from my 'The Greatest Ever Vegetarian Cookbook' edited by Nichola Graimes.)

Extra Firm Tofu - 1 14oz. package, cut into 1cm/ 1/2" cubes
Potatoes - 4, large, peeled

For the Marinade:
Tamari or dark soy sauce - 2 tbsp
Fresh Ginger - 11/2" piece, grated
Clear honey - 1 tbsp
Garlic cloves - 2, crushed
Toasted Sesame oil - 1 tsp

For the sauce:
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Tomatoes - 8, halved, seeded and chopped

  • Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a shallow dish and add the tofu. Spoon the marinade over the tofu and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Turn the tofu occasionally in the marinade to allow the flavors to infuse.
  • To make the rosti, par boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes until almost tender. When cool, coarsely grate and season well.
  • Take a quarter of the potato mixture in your hands at a time and form into rough cakes.
  • Heat a frying pan with just enough oil to cover the base. Place the cakes in the frying pan and cook for about 6 minutes on each side until nice and golden.
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the tofu from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Spread out the tofu on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden and crispy.
  • Meanwhile make the sauce. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan, add the reserved marinade and the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down.
  • To serve, place a rosti, scatter the tofu on top, spoon over the tomato sauce and enjoy!!!!
Serve with a simple mixed leaf salad dressed with lime juice and sesame oil.

January 25, 2007

Quinoa Medley with Black Beans and Corn

Yoo-hoo.. My 100th post.. this is really exciting. To be honest, a year ago, I didn’t have a clue that I would have my own blog. I was googling for a recipe and thankfully found Indira’s Mahanandi. I was so hooked onto her pictures and detailed recipe instructions that I used to visit her blog almost every day.

After a little research on blogging, I realized I can have my own blog for free. It took me almost 2 months to actually shake off my nerves and start my blog and after that, as they say, rest is history. My blog is like my little diary where I jot down the hits and misses occurring in my hideout (my kitchen).

I have to thank my husband for the encouragement and also for his willingness to be the Guinea pig (mishaps have occurred in the past year and lessons have been learnt.. so I thank him for his patience and sometimes courage too). My mom is a great contributor to my blog; she has a new recipe up her sleeve every time I talk to her. My MIL is another great resource and support. I have to thank all the friends I made in the past year (blogging might just be the fastest way to make tons of friends from all around the world) for their constant support via messages and email.

To sum it all up, in the past year, I think I have cooked dishes that I have never cooked before; bought and used ingredients that I never thought can be used; got to know so many wonderful people and cooks from all around the world that I have never imagined could happen so fast.

Thank you Haripriya of Sweet and Spice for tagging me to this three things Meme.

Three things I love:
1. My family
2. Kids, innocence
3. Good Healthy Food

Three Things I hate:
1. Back Stabbing
2. Hypocrisy
3. People being inconsiderate towards others

Three People Who make me Laugh:
1. My Husband
2. Paresh Rawal’s comedy
3. Telugu director Jandhyala’s movies

Three things that Scare me:
1. Horror Movies
2. Sudden ringing of the phone in a quite room
3. Cop car behind me in traffic

Three things I don’t understand:
1. Why some people enjoy hurting others (physically and mentally)
2. Reason for traffic jams in New Jersey
3. Software and electronic mumbo jumbo

Three things on my Desk
1. Desktop
2. Camera
3. Post-its with phone numbers, address and my mom’s recipes

Three things I’m doing right now:
1. Thinking about tonight’s dinner
2. Thinking about my annual review next week
3. Typing

Three things I want to do before I die:
1. Travel around the world
2. Help others as much as I can
3. Never do anything that I have to regret about

Three things I can do:
1. Cook
2. Embroider/ Crafts (been a while I’ve done these)
3. Shopping

Three things you should listen to:
1. Your heart
2. Your well wishers
3. Soothing melodious music

Three things you should never listen to:
1. People bad mouthing others
2. People who praise themself
3. Co-worker talking to their ex-spouse or ex-girlfriend/ boyfriend

Three things I would like to learn:
1. To be more assertive
2. More about human evolution and history
3. To make Sushi rolls (veggie of course)

Three Favorite foods:
1. All eggplant/ brinjal dishes
2. All egg dishes
3. Any veggie dish that is delicious and different (from what I cook)

Three beverages I drink a lot:
1. Water
2. Bournvita
3. Pepsi

Three Favorite book/TV show I read/Watched as a Kid:
1. Enid Blyton series
2. Telugu children’s magazines; Chandamama, Balamithra, Bommarillu & Balajyothi
3. Byomkesh Bakshi – Indian Sherlock Holmes on DD.

Three people I'd like to Tag:
1. Sangeeta of Ghar ka Khana
2. Roopa of Kitchen Aromas
3. Nav of Memories and Meals

Quinoa Medley with Black Beans and Corn

As a part of my eating healthy resolution, I have started cooking more with whole grains (brown basmati rice, whole-wheat pasta etc). I learnt about Quinoa from one of my cookbooks and I bought some a while ago. When I saw this recipe in the recent edition of ‘Vegetarian Times’, I just had to try it. The recipe is super simple to make and it takes fewer than 30 minutes to make which is perfect for a quick weekday dinner.

Here is some useful information about Quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a “grain” native to Central America and was once called “gold of the Incas”, as the Incas recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors. Quinoa is high in protein and the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Not only is quinoa's amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous, this "grain" may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Quinoa – 1 ¼ cups, rinsed
Black beans – 1 5 oz. can, rinsed and drained
Frozen corn – 1 cup
Chunky Salsa (home made or store bought) – ½ cup, divided
Chili powder – 1tsp
Cilantro - 1/4 cup chopped
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Salt and Pepper – to taste

  • Bring 2cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Stir in quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add beans, corn and 1/4 cup salsa and chili powder; season with salt and pepper.Return to a boil. Cover and cook 2 to 5 minutes more, or until quinoa is tender.
  • Stir in cilantro, oil and remaining salsa. Serve.
This is our dinner for today with stuffed zucchini.

January 23, 2007

Methi Chaman

This recipe is from one of the cook show I watched in India and jotted down in my little diary. The dish is rich with cashews, paneer (cottage cheese) and cream. I replaced cream with low-fat milk and it tasted just as rich and delicious.

Methi – 1 bunch
Spinach – 1 bunch
Onion – 1 large
Green chilies – 5
Cashews – ¼ cup
Grated Paneer – ¼ cup
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Tomato puree – ¼ cup
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – ½ tsp
Kasoori Methi – 2 tbsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Cream – 2 tbsp (optional)
Salt – to taste

  • Thoroughly clean and chop methi and spinach leaves. I use Rachel Ray’s method for cleaning my greens. I fill up my kitchen sink (scrubbed well of course) with cold water and put the greens (ends chopped off) in the water. I gently move them around in the water and after 5 minutes take out the greens into a colander for draining. The dirt on the leaves, being heavy, moves to the bottom of the sink and all you have to do is run water and clean up the sink later. Quick and efficient way to cleaning greens.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan, sauté onions, chilies and cashews till onions turn translucent. Remove and when cool grind to a smooth paste along with ginger-garlic paste.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the pan and sauté the onion paste for 2 minutes. Add tomato puree, coriander powder, red chili powder and half of the grated paneer. Cook on medium-low flame for about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add the chopped greens, cover and cook till the leaves wilt and don’t smell raw, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Add cream (or milk), rest of the paneer, kasoori methi (crushed with your fingers) and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Finally add the garam masala, cover to let the flavors mingle and take off the heat after 2 minutes.
Serve with rotis or rice.

January 19, 2007

Warm Soybeans Salad

I soaked soybeans yesterday morning to make a recipe that I got from Tarla Dalal’s site. By the time we came back home from work last night, it was late and I didn’t have the time or patience to make the dish. But I had to make something for today’s lunch and this was the quickest dish I could think of.

Soybeans – 1 cup
Onions – 1 large, chopped
Green chilies – 3, chopped
Cumin powder – ½ tsp
Red chili powder – ½ tsp
Chaat masala – ½ tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 5-6
Fresh mint leaves – 2 tbsp, chopped
Salt – to taste

  • Soak soybeans overnight. Rinse and drain the beans thoroughly.
  • Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves and when the seeds splutter, add onions and sauté till tender.
  • Add soybeans and sauté on medium high till they turn lightly brown.
  • Turn off the heat and add the powders, salt, lemon juice and mint. Mix well and serve warm or cold.
This is my entry to Pooja's: Creative Ideas - Vegetable of the week - Beans series.

Monthly Blog Patrol - Bhargavi's Fried Rice

This is my entry to this month's MBP event-"Around the World", hosted by Coffee from My Khazana of Recipes. Recipe is from Bhargavi’s Maa Inti Vanta, where she has a wonderful collection of recipes from her kitchen in Japan. I loved her Fried rice recipe and it has been a staple in our home ever since.

Thank you Bhargavi for the recipe and thank you Coffee for this event.

January 17, 2007


This is my entry to the FAHC campaign's group book project 'You can Cook' being hosted by VKN at My Dhaba. This was my contribution (actually my Mom's)for JFI-Jaggery for the month of December, but couldn’t get around posting it until now.

Chalimidi is a very traditional dish with only 3 main ingredients, but don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients. It requires patience and practice to finesse this dish and the end result tastes much like pala kova (milk khoya) with much less effort and time. (But patience and practice are the key words here). Chalimidi is usually given to Mom’s-to-be for baby showers. It is supposed to act as a coolant for the would-be mom.

My grand mother used to give chalimidi to my mom and my aunt every time they visited, even if it’s just for 2 days. That is a tradition that my ammamma started and my mom wants to continue it with her daughters now. It is also a tradition to see the correct thidhi (asterisms) and nakshatram (Star) before even starting the preparation for making the dish. I do not have a clear understanding of the reason behind the whole process and am still in the process of learning. This dish can be made with either jaggery or sugar. My mom always makes it with jaggery.
Rice - 11/2 cups
Jaggery - 1 cup
Elaichi (Cardamom) powder - 1 tsp
Dry coconut (Endu kobbari) – 2 tbsp, chopped
Ghee - 2 tbsp

  • Soak rice for 10 hours or overnight. Drain the rice completely and leave it to dry for about 30 minutes.
  • Grind the soaked rice into fine powder. Sieve the powder to remove coarser grains. Grind the coarser grains and sieve again. The end rice powder should have pretty smooth texture.
  • Combine jaggery with 1 cup of water and boil till the solution gets to a very strong consistency (Unda paakam). You will know that you got the correct consistency by testing the jaggery solution: add a drop of solution to water, and it should form a bead without dissolving.
  • Meanwhile saute dry coconut pieces in 1 tbsp ghee. Remove and keep aside.
  • When the jaggery reaches the desired consistency, remove from heat. Add the remaining ghee, sauteed coconut pieces and gradually stir in the rice powder. Add rice in small installments and keep stirring after every addition, until the mixture stops sticking to the spoon, but is still creamy like khoya.
  • Remove into a clean dish.

This keeps well in the refrigerator for almost a month.

January 12, 2007

Vegetarian Chili

With the untimely warm weather behind, it looks like winter is finally upon us. Great time to have a big bowl of soup to warm you up inside and out. Traditionally chili is a spicy stew like dish, the essential ingredients of which are beef, pork or other mature meat and chili peppers. You can totally omit the meat and make a vegetarian version.
This version has Veggie Ground round (soy protein). This recipe is from my ex-colleague Angela who was always in the look out for good vegetarian dishes because of her vegetarian daughter. One day she brought me a lunch box full of chili made with soy meat, I was a little skeptical to even taste it because of the texture. But she assured me that it is 100% vegetarian and healthy too. I loved it and got hooked on to soy meat. I changed the recipe to my taste and it is just hearty and perfect for a cold winter evening.

Veggie Ground Round – 1 package
Onion – 1 large
Green pepper – 1
Red pepper – 1
Garlic – 2-3, chopped
Tomato paste – 1/2 cup
Chopped tomatoes – 1 15 oz. can
Red Kidney beans – 2 15 oz. cans
Canned chipotle chilies – 2-3 (depending on taste)
Dried Basil - 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Bay leaves – 3
Vegetable broth – 2 cups
Salt, Pepper & Cayenne pepper – to taste

  • Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, sauté onions and peppers till soft but not overcooked. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add veggie ground round and sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Add the spices, tomatoes, broth and simmer for about 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the beans (you can use any variety of beans), salt, cayenne pepper and cook for another 10 minutes. Check the seasoning, remove bay leaves, garnish with green onions and serve warm.
I served our chili with brown rice with sautéed onions and mushroom and a dollop of sour cream.
Serve with white rice, Spanish rice, baked potatoes or nachos. It stays good refrigerated and also frozen (don’t add the beans if you want to freeze, just thaw and add in the beans when serving). Very versatile recipe, you can play around with the veggies, add mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash etc.

January 10, 2007

Bengaluru vankaya Gravy Kura (Chayote gravy Curry)

I never understood why chayote is called bengaluru vankaya (literally translated as Bangalore brinjal) in telugu. I know for a fact that it is no where close to brinjal family, but I’m not sure of its relation with Bangalore. May be one of you can let me know the connection if you happen to know.
Anyway, the only way I used to cook chayote was sautéing the pieces in little bit of oil (it doesn’t need a whole lot of oil) and add grated coconut at the very end. But I learnt from various blogs that it can be cooked similar to bottle gourd or zucchini.
This recipe is from the aunt who lives next to our home in India.

Picture Courtesy Gourmet Sleuth
Chayote – 2 medium, chopped

For the Masala paste:
Green chilies – 4
Red chilies – 2
Sesame seeds – ¼ cup
Coconut (fresh or dried) – 3 tbsp
Rice – 1 tsp, soaked in water for at least ½ hr
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Tamarind paste – 1 tbsp
Jaggery – 1 tbsp
Salt – ½ tsp

For Tempering:
Chana dal – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 6
  • Boil chayote pieces in water until tender. Alternately you can either pressure cook or microwave the pieces until tender.
  • Grind all the ingredients for the masala paste with water to make a smooth paste.
  • Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan, add dal and seeds and when the seeds start spluttering, add curry leaves, boiled chayote and masala paste. Cover and cook on medium-low heat till the flavors mingle. Add water if you it gets too dry.
  • Season with salt and red chili powder (if needed). Serve with rice.
Chayote curry, Tomatillo pachadi and Red Lentil dal with Rice (our weekend meal)

January 08, 2007

Watermelon-Banana Juice

This juice is extremely simple to make and loaded with nutrients. I'm not a big watermelon fan and have always avoided it as a kid. But I started liking the juice better the fruit itself. This time I added a banana to give watermelon little more flavor.

Watermelon cubes – 3 cups
Banana – 2, ripe
Lemon juice – 1
Sugar – 3 tsp (optional)

Method: Put all the ingredients in a blender and just blend till everything looks well mixed. Serve cold.

January 06, 2007

Green Tomato Pachadi

Uragaya or pickle, pachadi or chutney find a special place on any Andhraiite plate. It is a tradition in many families to have some kind of a pickle or chutney for almost every meal. It is not an exaggeration to say that a meal is not complete with either of above for these pickle aficionados.
Basic difference between a pickle and a chutney is the shelf life: pickles can be stored at room temperature for almost a year whereas chutneys are generally consumed within a day or two of making. Also pickles use raw veggies, more salt and oil for preservation purposes, while chutneys can be more "figure friendly". Pickles generally need almost 3-4 days marination before tasting, chutneys can be eaten right away.
There is another class in between pickle and chutney, also called pachadi for lack of another word. These resemble pickles because they use raw veggies and lot more chili powder and salt compared to chutneys. Easy to make, can be eaten after 1 day marination and last up to a month in the refrigerator or at room temperature (with enough salt).
The idea to make Tomato pachadi in Dosa avakai style (Cucumber pickle, a very famous Andhra pachadi) came from my mom. She tasted it recently at one of our relatives place and was very impressed with the new idea that she passed it onto me. I decided to use Green tomatoes or Tomatillos instead of the red ones. The reason being tomatillos have a more tart flavor and are crisper than regular tomatoes.
(Picture courtesy Gourmet Sleuth)


Tomatillos - 4 medium
Red chili powder - 2 tbsp
Mustard powder - 2 tbsp
Salt - 2 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Vinegar (Lemon juice)- 1 tsp
  • Remove the outer papery skin around the tomatillos and rinse them thoroughly. They tend to be sticky, so make sure to thoroughly clean them. Dry them completely, before finely dicing them.
  • In a clean, dry dish, add chili powder, mustard powder (grind mustard seeds in the spice grinder or blender) and salt. Mix well.
  • Add vinegar, tomato pieces and oil (you can use any oil sesame seed oil, vegetable, canola etc.). Mix well with a clean, dry spoon.
  • Let it sit for atleast 1 whole day and enjoy the spicy pachadi with plain rice and dal.
You can find Dosa avakai recipe from Sailu's Kitchen here.
I made the pickle in a steel dish and I transfered into a sterile glass bottle after 1 day. Vinegar is added to keep veggie pieces crisp longer (Mom's tip) and also for that extra zing (my tip :0)
This is my entry to Pooja's Vegetable of the Week series, over at Creative Ideas.

January 04, 2007

Ratatouille: WCC - Stew

As I was looking for a “Stew recipe” for this month’s Weekend Cookbook Challenge (WCC), I saw this colorful, full of veggies stew in my “Best Ever Vegetarian Cookbook” (edited by Nicola Graimes). Name of the dish sounded a little funny, Ratatouille, so I decided to do a little digging and this is what I found out from wikipedia.
The name of the dish appears to have derived from the French verb touiller, to stir, although the root of the first element "rat-" is a slang from the French Army meaning chunky stew. The word ratatouille has also come to be used in non-culinary contexts in English to refer to a (generally colourful) mixture of any kind. Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish which can be served as a meal on its own (accompanied by rice, potatoes, or simply French bread), or as a side dish.
There is a also a animated movie being made with the same name. More info and story here.

Eggplant – 1, roughly chopped
Zucchini – 2, roughly chopped
Onions – 2, sliced
Green pepper – 1, chopped
Red pepper – 1, chopped
Chopped tomatoes – 1 15 oz. can
Garlic cloves – 2
Red pepper flakes – 1 tsp (or to taste)
Fresh thyme – 1 sprig (I used dried thyme)
Fresh rosemary – 1 sprig (I used dried)
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp, crushed
Basil leaves - 8, torn
Salt & Pepper – to taste

  • Sprinkle eggplant and zucchini pieces with salt, then put them in a colander with a plate and a weight on top to extract the bitter juices. Leave for about 30 minutes.
  • Heat 4tbsp olive oil (recipe called for 2/3 cups oil, I reduced it to 4tbsp, you may want to use even less oil) in a large saucepan, saute onions for 6-7 minutes or until just softened, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Rinse the eggplant and zucchini pieces and pat dry with a clean dish towel. Add these to the pan along with the peppers, increase the heat and saute until the peppers are just turning brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the herbs and coriander seeds, cover and cook gently for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently for a further 10 minutes, until the veggies are soft but not mushy.
  • Remove the sprigs of rosemary and thyme herbs. Stir in the torn basil leaves and check the seasoning. Leave to cool slightly and serve warm or cold.
This recipe is adapted from The Greatest Ever Vegetarian Cookbook, Edited by Nicola Graimes.


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