April 27, 2009

A-2 Farmer's Market and Bhindi Masala (Okra Fry)

plant-2

This past weekend, when the weather was nice and it seemed like the entire city was out, I decided it was time to go back to the Farmer's Market. And of course, everyone had the same idea... it was great being back in that setting. I picked up large brown eggs, placed my order of chickens and hold your breath... picked up vegetables plants! From now on, I am going t0 wander there and restart my Farmer's Market series.

I have started a few at home and in the backyard - cilantro, chillis, mustard greens, spinach and carrots. From the Farmer's market, I picked up a variety of tomatoes:

tomato-1

cherry tomatoes hanging down, beefsteak tomatoes, purple cherokee and pink tomatoes, along with chard and cauliflower. This summer there won't be flowers hanging in the front yard, rather it'll be juicy cherry tomatoes, enough to make everyone drool.

After all the work of potting and planting the veggies, I was in the mood for something simple. So I made some khichudi, bhindi masala (okra fry) and cucumber and mint raita. After this great meal, I was ready to go out again in the afternoon.

Here is how I made the bhindi masala (okra fry).

bhidi-bhaja

Ingredients:
1 lb okra - chopped
1 red onion - sliced thinly
1/2 tspoon mustard seeds
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
1 dry red chilli
1/2 tspoon grated ginger
1/4 tspoon turmeric powder
1/4 tspoon red chilli powder
1/2 tspoon coriander powder
1/2 tspoon lemon juice
1 tbspoon oil
Salt to taste

Method:
Heat the oil in a pan and temper it with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chilli. Then put in the onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add in the okra, and let it cook on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then add in the spices and lower the heat to medium low and let it cook till it is almost done. Add 1/2 tspoon water if needed.

Here is a cool trick that I've learned. Add in the lemon juice and stir it around for a couple of minutes. It cuts some of the stickiness of okra and brings out the flavors.

Serve warm with rice, kichudi, or chapati.

Here are some of my other okra recipes:
Okra and Shallots Fry
Oriya Bhendi Masala

April 19, 2009

An Ann Arbor find: Durham's Tracklements and smoked salmon pizza!

This is a different kind of review. This is unsolicited endorsement of one of my favorite places in Ann Arbor: Durham's Tracklements! I stumbled upon this store, and have enjoyed going there ever since. Not to mention the easy friendship with T. R. Durham, who owns the store!

Through TR (as we all call him), I was introduced to smoked fish and meat, and to pairing different fish with varied spices. There is tandoori-spiced salmon which is absolutely fabulous. My other favorites are kippered salmon, Gauri's garam masala mackerel and my own panch phoron mackerel!

TR's smoked fish has won praise from The New York Times, Washington Post and many others, and I can tell you that each and every bite of any fish that you get will be delicious. They ship smoked fish and meat across the world and in the US, selling up to 7 tons of cold smoked salmon in 2007.

TR has recently written a book titled
The Smoked Seafood Cookbook, published by the University of Michigan Press. The book includes many innovative recipes to try (there are recipes by Mario Batali, Sara Moulton among others) as well as detailed notes about the process of smoking.

I was in the store this weekend and sampled some delicious pizza fresh out of the oven. I loved the flavors and told TR I am going to try it at home. Being the generous person that TR is, not only did he give me some delicious kippered salmon, but also all the ingredients that went into the pizza. I made the pizza last night and it was gone in no time (before I could click a picture of the finished pizza).

salmon-pizza

This picture is of the pizza before I put it in the oven! I used mustard paste, olive oil and white wine vinegar as a first layer, then a layer of caramelized onions. On top of that went the cheese and smoked salmon. After cooking it in oven at 400 deg F for 10 min, I topped it off with some fresh arugula and small lemon skin pieces. It was fantastic!

salmon-salad

We enjoyed the rest of the salmon in a fresh salad today along with some pomegranate juice and sparkling water.

Durham's Tracklements
212 East Kingsley Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
734-930-6642

Hours
Wednesday & Friday 10-3
Saturday 8-3 & by appointment
Best selection & Product tastings on Saturdays

April 14, 2009

Shubho Nabobarsha

carrot-halwa1


Wishing everyone sweet beginnings this new year!
Shubho Nababarsha... Happy New Year!

April 13, 2009

Chicken, salad & couscous done right!

pomegranate-chicken

Last week I received a case of 100% pomegranate juice from Pom Wonderful. On the way to pick up Aswin from the airport and back, I decided my menu with what I had at home to avoid a trip to the store: pomegranate juice marinated chicken, mango and avacado salad, and Israeli couscous & red quinoa mix.

I marinated the chicken with 1 1/2 cup pomegranate juice, fresh ginger, red chilli powder, salt, coriander powder, & black pepper. The chicken was caramelized on stove top and finished in the oven. While the chicken was cooking, I reduced the leftover marinade with some white wine, and used it as a glaze for the chicken. It was tart, smoky, spicy and fantastic!

We had our delicious dinner and topped it with some dark chocolate and a movie. :)

Here is how I made the pomegranate juice marinated chicken:

Ingredients:
3 chicken thighs
1 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
2/3 tspoon red chilli powder
2/3 tspoon coriander powder
1 1/2 tspoon fresh ginger - ground
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tspoon fresh ground pepper
salt to taste
1 small onion - chopped
fresh cilantro - chopped for garnish
1 tbspoon oil
2-3 tbspoon white wine

Method:
Marinate the chicken with the juice and the spices and set it aside for 1 - 2 hours.

Then, heat oil in a nonstick pan and saute the onions for 2-3 minutes. Add the marinated chicken in the pan and let it cook on each side for 1-2 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to 380 deg F and bake the chicken 6-7 minutes on each side or till it is completely cooked.

Add the rest of the marinade along with 2-3 tablespoon white wine in the pan and let it simmer on low heat to a thick sauce.

pomegranate-chicken2

Once the chicken is done, pour the sauce over it, garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

April 08, 2009

Methi Matar Malai

methimatar

For the last few weeks, I have been picking up fresh methi leaves from the Indian store. The only ways I have had methi before is in methi saag or methi paratha. But, I wanted to try something new. So I searched around for methi recipes and came across Sanjeev Kapoor's Methi Matar Malai.

I tried it with some changes, and have been hooked ever since. The slight bitterness of methi leaves is complemented perfectly with the natural sweetness of peas. I omitted out garlic and amchur powder while replacing cream with some non fat yogurt. I loved how it turned out - mild, flavorful - and have made it a few times now.

Ingredients:
(adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's Methi Matar Malai)
1 pack fresh methi leaves
1/2 pack frozen peas
1 medium onion - chopped
1 tspoon ginger - grated
1/2 tspoon red chilli powder
1/4 tspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 coriander powder
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
3 tbspoon yogurt - whipped
1 tbspoon oil
Salt to taste

Method:
Clean and chop the metho leaves coarsely. Heat oil in a pan temper with cumin seeds. Then add the chopped onions and saute till they turn soft and translucent. Then add grated ginger and saute for a minute Then add in the methis leaves and let it cook with closed lid for 3-4 minutes.

Then add the peas, chilli powder and salt and let it cook together for 3-4 minutes. Then add the cinnamon powder and mix well.

Reduce the heat to low, and add the yogurt, stirring it well. Let it cook for 1-2 minutes and then take it off the heat.

methimatar2

Serve warm with some naan, roti or chapati.

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