Veggie and Quinoa Salad with garlic chili Oil

The summer heat here is killing and we were showered with a bit of rain due to the Jimena hurricane hitting Arizona and New Mexico.  Its hard for me to step into the kitchen , especially when its raining . I dont want to miss even a teensy weensy bit as rain is a rarity in this part of the world. However , the rumbling in my stomach reminded me that I had to make a meal for us. I set about throwing almost everything I had in the pantry as we are going away for the long weekend and I want to empty the crisper. I dislike coming back from a vacation , just to realize the stale veggies in the crisper. I threw in whatever I could find , the end result was a beautiful spicy faux grain and veggie salad. Quinoa is actually a fruit seed.

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Sunshine Bread

Corn Bread is a regular and a big hit in my house. Often served with soup or a chunky tomato dip , it is a quick dish to make , especially on days when I have to work with a limited stuff available in the pantry. I love the golden bread specked with reds and greens sparkling on my plate. To my eye  it seems like an exquisite piece of art . I make these in the form of mini  cakes . K calls them Sunshine cakes ! This recipe was given to me by an ex colleague G , who would bake it for us on a large cast iron skillet every other week.

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Pinto Bean Stew

I dreaded Pinto beans until I made this stew… I picked the can on an impulse from wild oats because it was on sale for $0.99 and was lying in my pantry for a couple weeks now. I refused to acknowledge its presence until I realized that my refrigerator was almost empty and I had less than an hour to whip up a decent meal for lunch.

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Hyderabadi Qaabooli and Mirchi ka salan with Bell Peppers

According to me Hyderabad is one of India’s finest cities where cultures mix and blend wonderfully. Hyderabad a cosmopolitan city on fast track somehow still retains its leisure. I can still recollect Laad bazaar in my mind’s eye where pearls, the famous hyderabadi glass and stone bangles, the smells of attar and of course Madina hotel which was opened in 1947. Those days we would go shopping for clothes and other goodies near the madina hotel, eat the hyderabadi qabooli with mirchi ka salan and of course the famous sweet double ka meeta and come home happy with bagfuls of goodies and the purse still half full.

Hyderabadi Qabooli is made as dum ka biryani is made, but there are no vegetables used and instead chana dal is used.Onions are used for garnish though.

Ingredients :

1 cup of uncooked basmati rice
1/3 cup of chana dal
1 tsp of finely chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon og garlic
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
A pinch of turmeric
3 tablespoons of yogurt
1 green chilli finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon of chilli powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon of milk
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
A few sprigs of cilantro
Mint leaves for garnish
Oil, Salt to taste.

Method :
1. Pick the chana dal. soak in water for at least half hour and cook until the grains are tender and whole
2. Cook the basmati rice in the microwave for 2o minutes or in a rice cooker by adding a pinch of salt and oil so that the grains seperate.
3. In a wok , heat oil and saute the onions until brown and keep aside
4. In the same oil, saute garlic and ginger for a minute and add 1 tablespoon of yogurt first until the water is evaporated, keep adding one tablespoon at a time and add green chilies, garam masala, chili powder,salt to taste, cooked chana dal and saute until the dal is coated with the masala.
5. In a large oven proof baking dish , first layer the rice and then pour this mixture and then again cover with another layer of rice and pour milk and lemon juice.
6. garnish with mint and cilantro and cover first with an aluminium foil and then with the baking dish cover .
7. Pre-heat the oven to 375F and bake the rice and mixture for 15 minutes and the dum qabooli is ready.
8. remove the cover and garnish with the brown onions and serve with your choice of raita or Mirchi Ka salan , the best combination you can ever eat!

Mirchi Ka salan with Bell Peppers :

Well, it was ok to give it a shot with sweet bell peppers . There are 2 reasons I would go for this, I love the combination of sweet and sesame and secondly, it looks beautiful. its not at all hot and spicy. Its a mildly sweet dish.

Ingredients :
3 bell peppers
1 cup roasted and ground sesame seeds
1 tablespoon of roasted and coarsely ground peanuts
1 tablespoon of dessicated coconut
1 medium sized finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon of dhaniya powder
1 tablespoon tamarind juice
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
Oil, salt to taste

For the tadka/popu/seasoning
1 teaspoon of Kalonji( nigella seeds)

1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds

Method :
1. De seed the bell peppers and chop into medium sized chunks, heat oil in a wok and fry until crisp and done .
2. In a wok, heat the oil again and add the nigella and cumin seeds and then add the onions and fry until translucent.
3. Add the bell peppers and then add the sesame peanut and the coconut powder, mix well.
4. Add a cup of water, red chili powder, salt to taste and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Add the tamarind extract and simmer for another 5 minutes
6 . Remove from heat and serve hot.