Niramish is the Bengali word for mixed vegetables. There are of course, a million ways to cook niramish depending on the cook. I decided to make some last night using frozen mixed veggies because I was in a hurry. Normally, I love using a variety of fresh vegetables, especially picks from the local farmer’s markets. There are some nights though, speed is of the essence. Given the choice of eating something unhealthy or making something fast and tasty out of frozen veggies…Well it’s no contest. It ended up tasting great and it was quick!
There is nothing I like better than making and eating fresh spring rolls. They are tasty, they are healthy, they have delightful textures AND they are portable. But what I really, really, absolutely LOVE (as in a twirl my dress and spin around kind of giddiness-love) is the peanut dipping sauce. I could eat it by the bucketful. To tell you the truth, the spring rolls for me are sort of a Peanut Sauce delivery system. I have been known to eat the peanut sauce on ice cream (try it, you will love it, I promise), with apples and pears, even bananas. Sometimes, if I think nobody is watching, I will lick my plate of any residual peanut sauce (don’t judge me). It is my “green eggs and ham”
Let’s start with the recipe for the sauce:
Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 tbsp canola oil
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
½ inch piece of ginger grated
OR just one tablespoon of ginger garlic paste you’ve blended together
5 tbsp water or chicken broth—may add more as needed
5 tbsp hoisin sauce
½ cup peanut butter
1 tbsp Sirarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek
1 tbsp Palm sugar or brown sugar (Palm sugar adds a wonderful depth of flavor that is not to be missed)
Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in the hoisin sauce and water or broth and stir for a minute or two. Next add the peanut butter, Sriarcha or Sambal Oelek and Palm sugar and stir until well blended and sugar dissolves. Add additional water if needed. Sauce should be smooth but thick. Take off heat and top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai chili if desired or more Sambal Oelek.
To make this sauce Vegan or soy free:
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ inch piece of ginger grated
5 tbsp vegetable broth or stock
½ tsp salt
½ cup peanut butter
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp Sriarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek
1 Tbsp Palm Sugar
3– 4 tbsp of water
Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the water. Stir until well blended and heated through. Add the water (more or less depending on consistency). Sauce should be slightly thick and smooth. Top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai Chillis if desired.
Rice spring roll paper (12 sheets)
Warm tap water (several cups in a bowl to soften rice paper)
Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
1/3 package of thin rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
cucumbers, thinly sliced horizontally
1 Shredded carrot
1 cup bean sprouts
twelve pieces of long chives
handful of Cilantro
handful of fresh mint (peppermint variety – found in Asian markets)
Cooked shrimp, deveined and sliced in half
Or you can use Chinese style BBQ pork (Char Shu)
Or use only vegetables without any proteins
Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and prepare them as listed above. Soak the rice vermicelli noodles for 6 to 10 minutes in hot water then rinse them under cool tap water. I buy the pre cooked shrimp that’s already deveined and cleaned and then slice them in half (usually at Costco). I also buy all my produce at the Asian Market because they are a LOT cheaper.
There are a million brands of rice paper. Choose the cheapest one. They are pretty much the same.
Dip the paper in warm water, turning it in a circle as you dip and gently press in the middle to get the whole paper wet. Avoid sticking the whole paper in a bowl and letting it float around. It just needs to get wet – not soaking wet. Gently shake off excess water and place the sheet on a cutting board or plate in front of you. On the top third of the paper closest to you, place a small bundle of romaine lettuce and cabbage, next put the vermicelli noodles on top followed by the carrots, sprouts, cucumber, a few leaves of mint, one frond of chives and two small leaves of cilantro. Fold the paper closest to you over the vegetables and tuck tightly under. Once you’ve rolled one revolution, tuck the left and right side into the roll. There should be some paper still left in the front, place the shrimp cut side facing up (like inverted “u”) next to the roll and finish rolling up the spring roll. You should be able to see the Shrimp from the outside . Serve with peanut dipping sauce. Serve at room temperature. Avoid making ahead and refrigerating since the rice paper dries out or gets too soggy. If you must take it somewhere to eat/serve it, wrap each roll in plastic wrap so they do not stick to each other and serve within 2-3 hours.
Hummus has been around for a long, long time. It was the ultimate “fast” food that was easy to carry. When Bedouin tribes traveled with their herds from place to place, carrying dried grains that were ground up was a lightweight and economical option. It also was a great source of protein. I am so glad that it has become one of the “in” foods. High in protein, good quality monounsaturated fats and delightful flavor…what’s not to like? Here’s a fast, easy and very budget friendly version.
What makes it especially economical is the use of whole sesame seeds instead of Tahini in a jar. Tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds that adds tremendous flavor to this dish and It’s rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron, not to mention essential amino acid Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. It is also high in Vitamin E and a host of B vitamins and calcium. It’s the ultimate brain food.
So let’s get to the recipe.
2 cans (15 oz) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
juice of half a large lemon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, roughly chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
In a food processor, dump in the garbanzo beans and pulse a few times. Add the sesame seeds (you pulse the garbanzo beans first so the sesame seeds don’t fall to the bottom of the processor) and garlic and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add in lemon juice and turn on the food processor. As the processor is doing its work, begin to drizzle in the olive oil through the lid opening until the mixture begins to get nice and smooth. Add salt to taste and pulse a few times. Pour into a bowl and drizzle a bit more good quality olive oil. Serve with Pita bread, vegetable strips or Pita chips and enjoy. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Serving size 1/2 cup. Cost per serving 48 cents.
I’ve never put together this particular combination together before. I was adding spices as I went along. The combination of the brown rice and red lentils go pretty well together because they cook for the same amount of time. The red lentils almost disappear, adding a richness to the texture of the rice. It had a nutty flavor from the rice and a touch of sweetness from the raisins that goes really well with the cardamom flavors. A great rice dish that goes with so many proteins like pork chops, gola kabobs (that’s how we ate them) and as a light meal by itself.
Gola Kabob literally means round kabobs. Kabobs can be made dry, in a gravy or skewered on a stick (that’s where the word “shish” comes in handy, it means to skewer). Gola Kabobs originated in Pakistan. The dry version can be eaten with Naans, Parathas or Rotis, while the “wet” version can be eaten more easily with rice. I love making a Naan sandwich with Gola Kabobs, some fresh greens and topped off with a little Raita. I think of it as a Pakistani Gyro. Gola Kabobs are traditionally made with beef or lamb. I decided to make mine with ground turkey and pair it with a brown rice and red lentil kitchuri (bengali for “hodge podge”). I’ll have to post that separately to make it easier on everyone. It was a tasty and hearty dinner that doesn’t cheat on flavor but it’s really low in fat. My kind of meal!
Turkey Gola Kabob in Gravy
For the Kabobs:
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 dried red chilis
1 bay leaf
4-5 whole green cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
4-5 whole peppercorns
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 small stick cinnamon
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tsp garlic and ginger paste
For the sauce:
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 tbsp oil
3 tbsp greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp toasted coconut
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium cast iron skillet heat the first 8 ingredients listed under Kebob until toasted. Put in a coffee grinder that is dedicated to spices and NOT coffee and grind until it is powdered. Add this to the ground turkey along with garlic, ginger paste, cilantro and salt. Mix well and form into round balls about 3/4 inch in diameter. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat oil and add chopped onions, salt, paprika, garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add in water and simmer for a few minutes. Add the gola kabobs and let it simmer gently covered for about 8 minutes. Add yogurt and cook another minute or so. Add toasted coconut and chopped cilantro right before taking off heat. Serve with Kitchuri or plain rice.
We eat a lot of chickpeas in South Asia. In cooked food, in fried fritters, in sauces and especially salads. I wanted a quick and easy salad with a little crunch and some protein in it so it could double as a filling lunch and not merely a side dish. I loved how this salad came together. Perfect for a summer Saturday after a killer workout!
Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette
1 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup of sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3 tbsp pomegranate vinegar
1 tbsp honey
lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
2 tbsp flat leafed parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh cracked pepper
salt to taste
Whisk together all the ingredients of the vinaigrette until an emulsion forms. Toss together all the salad ingredients and pour dressing over the vegetables. Let it sit for a few minutes before eating!
There are many ways to cook eggs and I think I love every one I’ve encountered. I like eggs. They come through in a pinch, they are cheap and taste amazing in pretty much any type of dish from savory to sweet. This particular recipe came from my older sister Rita. She and her husband have lived in some amazing parts of the world. Along the way, she’s picked up languages and recipes. On our frequent phone conversations we often find ourselves discussing food and our various body parts and why they won’t defy gravity any longer. This is one of the recipes that she insisted that I try, telling me that it was “soooo good and soooo easy”. I trust her judgement so I cooked it up following her directions and she was right. It was delicious and very easy to make. The Keffir lime leaves are the key ingredient in this dish. It makes it rock and roll in your mouth. This was such a hit at our house that Ryan, my eldest, wanted this to be one of menu items at his Mehndi. Mehndi means “henna” and can also refer to the parties we have before a wedding. Ryan and Marie’s Mehndi was the day before their wedding and we had a little over a 100 guests coming to our house. So I found myself making a batch of this recipe with 190 eggs. I have never peeled that many eggs in my life and I hope to never do it again (even though I had help!). You can pair this with some rice, pita bread or I’ve even mashed up the leftovers into a killer “egg salad” sandwich.
Balinese Style Eggs with Keffir Lime Leaves
1 dozen eggs, boiled and peeled
4 roma tomatoes, rough chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
5 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 large onion
1 green chili
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
8-9 keffir lime leaves
1/4 cup sugar or to taste
1/4 cup oil
In a blender mix together tomatoes, tomato paste, turmeric, garlic and ginger, onion, green chili and chili powder and blend until smooth. Heat oil in a large saucepan and pour in the tomato mixture along with the keffir lime leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes until the oil begins to separate out from the tomatoes. Add sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, add in the water. Cook another minute then add the eggs. Cook another 5 minutes until all the flavors marry together. Take off heat. Serve with rice, pita bread or naan.
I kind of have a soft spot for Granola. You see, I had just stuffed my mouth full of some yogurt and granola in the university dining room. I had misjudged how much my mouth could handle and the extreme chewiness of the granola so I was trying desperately to gnaw my way through like a chipmunk….when I saw HIM. He had hazel eyes and long eye lashes and was wearing a dark green sweater. It’s funny the memories that come up with certain smells, sounds or foods. As I was getting all the ingredients together for this granola for Onjoli and I to have with our yogurt or just as a cereal, I was grinning to myself and thinking about that first “meeting”. The best part of that encounter was what happened a few minutes later. I finally gulped down the granola and decided that I should make myself memorable. Earlier that week I had learned the English word “saunter” (I was trying to improve my English by learning and using new words everyday). I understood “saunter” to be sort of like a supermodel walk down the catwalk. Not accurate, but hey, I was 17 years old. In my head I planned to “saunter” past this hunk of manhood in my female glory so he’d be amazed and wonder “who was that gorgeous woman?” I was so busy “sauntering” that I ran into one of the closed doors of the cafeteria. I mean a serious face plant on the door.
The plan did work, he did notice me, just not exactly in the way I was planning. Something must have worked, because that was 28 years ago. Next week we will celebrate 26 years of marriage!
I was inspired by the awesome Chef Connie and her recipe for granola (she has a great blog!). The granola turned out fantastic and I know that each time I take a bite, I’ll smile just a bit. Do you have food that brings back a flood of memories? I’d love to hear it!
5 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans, rough chopped
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup raw peanuts, rough chopped
1 cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of any type of dried fruit you like—I used dates, apricots and dried cherries
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea or kosher salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp oil
Mix all the nuts, oats and seeds together (reserve the dried fruit for later) in a large pan or big bowl. Add the spices, brown sugar and salt. In a saucepan mix the applesauce, honey, maple syrup and oil and heat all the way through. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread the mixture evenly on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350° oven. Cook for 40-45 minutes but make sure and stir it every 10 minutes to brown it evenly. Remove from oven and add in the dried fruits and mix well. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
This is a hearty and creamy main dish kind of daal. Almost like a chili. It is made with black lentils or Urad daal. I used the split Urad daal which cooks a tad bit faster than the whole urad daal. Most people who make this dish use a pressure cooker. I don’t happen to own a pressure cooker because they scare me. When I was about 12 years old we lived in Yemen. My mom, unused to the altitude of San’aa (capital of Yemen) would often use a pressure cooker to make most of our meals to save time. She did not understand the mechanics of the release valve and one day when the pressure cooker release valve broke, being a thrifty housewife, she decided to make a make-shift one out of flour and water paste. This created a miniature steam fueled bomb in the kitchen. I was just coming home from school when the giant explosion sent me running into the kitchen area. I found my mom among the carnage of raw goat meat, broken windows and dishes. She looked at me with dazed eyes and said, “did we get bombed?” She only suffered minor injuries but I have been scared of pressure cookers and certain types of goats ever since. Even the sound is ominous like a large snake getting ready to strike….
Save yourself and make this daal in a plain old pan, just keep an eye on it and check the water level to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
The nutrient contents of the black lentils and kidney beans are tremendous. Both are high in protein and the flavors can’t be beat. It is fantastic served with fresh, hot chappatis. There is nothing quite like the combination. You won’t miss the meat or the pressure cooker, I promise.
1 cup split black lentils (urad daal)
1/4 cup kidney beans, dry
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Amchur – dry mango powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 whole dried red chilies
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 cup half and half
2 tbsp ghee – clarified butter
1/2 tsp garam masala
5-6 cups water
Wash the kidney beans and daal. Soak in about 5-6 cups of water overnight. Soaked daal will almost triple in volume. In a large heavy bottomed pan add Urad daal, kidney beans, onions, salt, turmeric and ginger. Add about 5 cups of water bring to boil. After mixture has come to a boil, turn heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30-40 minutes on a back burner, checking occasionally for water level and to stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. When the daal and the beans are soft and tender, lightly mash it with a potato masher, you don’t want to use an immersion blender since the texture doesn’t need to be a puree, just slightly mashed. Add a little more water if needed and cook an additional 5-6 minutes. Add garam masala, dry mango powder and half and half and cook another 10 minutes on low heat. Take daal off the heat and in a separate, small pan heat the ghee. When ghee is nicely heated, add the dry red chilies, cumin seeds and red chili powder. Stir quickly and pour the hot, aromatic ghee over the daal. Stir to incorporate and serve with hot chappatis.
I remember when I first came to live in the United States. I was living with a wonderful American family on a farm in Idaho. A big, huge change. There were lots of fresh produce available of course, especially in the summer. That’s when I was introduced to salads. Don’t get me wrong, salads are eaten all over the world but usually not as a meal. It’s almost always eaten as part of a meal, like a side dish or even a palate cleanser or like a condiment. In North America the salad reigns as a meal. That was a strange thing for me. To eat an entire meal that was mostly raw. I remember telling my mom about having a salad for dinner and she exclaimed in dismay, “can’t those people cook?”. After I got over the initial shock, I grew to love salads. I love the textures, the freshness and the variety. They are never going to go over big in any part of South Asia as a meal but I’m winning people over, one at a time.
I had this just the other day. It was great and refreshing after a hard workout! Yes, Ma…I ate it as a meal.
Radish Cucumber and Mango Salad
4 fresh radishes, thinly sliced
1 English Cucumber, thinly sliced
1 Mango, cut into small bite sized pieces
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp spicy brown mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
Thinly slice cucumber, radishes and mangoes and place in a medium sized bowl. Add chopped cilantro. In a separate bowl zest the lime and then juice the whole lime. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk until a thick emulsion is created. Pour over salad and toss. Chill and serve.