Turkey Gola Kabobs in Gravy

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!

Toast the coconut along with spices in a dry skillet and grind up in a coffee grinder
Mix ground turkey with cilantro, garlic and ginger paste along with ground up spice mix. Form into round balls
Begin the gravy by sauteing onions, garlic and ginger
Add paprika and the gola kabobs
Add yogurt and right before finishing add toasted coconut and cilantro
Serve with brown rice and red lentil Kitchuri

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

chopped cilantro

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.

Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette

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!

Mix together the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk together
Thinly slice all the veggies
Let it sit for a few minutes before enjoying

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

Vinaigrette

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!

Balinese Style Eggs with Keffir Lime Leaves

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.

Place all ingredients except for eggs, sugar and keffir lime leaves in a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour tomato puree into hot oil
Add keffir lime leaves and simmer for about 10 minutes
Add eggs and simmer for another 5-6 minutes
Sauce will continue to thicken as it simmers
Balinese style eggs with Keffir Lime Leaves

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.

Mushroom and Garlic “Smothered” Pork Chops with Garlic Smashed Potatoes

We’ve just gotten back from an anniversary trip.  We went away to Vegas for a couple of days to celebrate.  On Thursday night we were at B B King’s Blues Club for dinner and some great live music.  Right in front of us in a table for two was a couple, who I’m guessing is still dating.  She was a very tall and shall I say, a robust woman.  About 6 foot tall and weighing in at over 200 pounds and he was a slim man about 5 foot 9 inches tall.  Throughout their evening, she kept patting and smoothing his back, running her fingers through his hair, whispering to him and when their food came, she promptly pulled a box of birthday candles out of her giant purse along with a lighter and stuck it in the middle of his Shrimp Po’ Boy sandwich and lit it. As soon as he blew it out and she got a picture on her iPhone, she reach out and hugged him to her bosom, smashing his face in.  We watched the man flap his arms a few times and then they hung limply to the side.  I don’t know if he ran out of air, passed out or surrendered.  After 26 years of marriage, Grantley and I have mastered the silent conversation.  I looked at him and he looked at me and we had an entire conversation which resulted in some snorting on my part as I tried not to laugh out loud.  Ahhhh, Smothering…not a good idea for any relationship but fantastic when it comes to food!  Consider the “smothered” burrito (yum!), “smothered” cheesecake (double yum), and now the “smothered” pork chop!  So good!  It’s surprisingly easy to make and hits the spot after the end of a long day.  We’re having  this for dinner along with garlic smashed potatoes, spring salad with radicchio and feta and grilled pineapples.  It makes any night feel like a party with birthday candle and all!

Dredge pork chops in flour and brown in olive oil
In the same pan saute mushrooms and onions
Add spices and flour to the mushroom mixture
Add chicken stock to the mixture and let it simmer for 5 minutes
Add milk to the sauce and cook an additional minute
Add pork chops back into the pan. Cover and cook for 40-45 minutes until tender
Boil potatoes with garlic cloves for the smashed potatoes
Add yogurt, salt and pepper to cooked potatoes and garlic and smash together
Add flat leafed parsley at the very end before serving

Mushroom and Garlic Smothered Pork Chop

6 boneless loin pork chops

1/2 onion

1 1/2 cup button mushrooms, chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

1 cup flour

1 tsp salt

4 cloves garlic

fresh cracked pepper

1/2 tsp Cheyenne pepper

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 bunch fresh flat leafed parsley, chopped

1/2 cup milk

1 can low sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

6 medium potatoes, peeled

3 – 5 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup greek yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp chopped chives

To make the potatoes:

Peel potatoes and cut into chunks.  Place potatoes, garlic cloves and 2 tsp salt in a large pot and bring to boil.  Cover and simmer until tender.  Drain the potatoes.  Add yogurt, salt and pepper, milk and smash with potato smasher.  Add in chives.

To make the Pork Chops:

Wash and dry pork chops.  Season each side of the pork chop with a little salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Dredge each chop in flour and sear in the hot skillet until golden brown on each side.  Set aside.  In the same pan, add chopped onions and mushrooms and cook until tender.  Add in spices, garlic, ginger and stir fry until fragrant.  Add a couple of tablespoons of the flour leftover from dredging the chops into the mushroom mixture and cook for about a minute.  Add in the chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick.  Add milk and cook an additional minute.  Add the chops back into the gravy and cover.  Simmer on low heat covered for about 40-45 minutes.  Add chopped parsley right before serving.  Serve warm with garlic smashed potatoes.

Mediterranean style chicken and artichoke whole wheat pasta

Sometimes the best dishes are those that I’ve cooked quickly.  I came home kind of late last night and needed to make a fast and healthy meal.  I was pretty much throwing ingredients together that I thought would make tasty combinations.  It came together in less than 30 minutes and the whole family along with a friend who happened to be hanging out all enjoyed dinner together.  I love that.  There’s nothing like eating a meal together and chatting and talking on a cool summer evening when the sun takes a long time to set.   The tangy taste of the feta and artichokes with the hint of rosemary really makes this dish taste like summer….all bright and sunny!

Saute the boneless, skinless chicken thighs with some fresh garlic
Added in marinated artichoke hearts, tomatoes, flat leafed parsley and fresh dill to the chicken
Add some dried rosemary and feta cheese to the sauce
Few handfuls of fresh spinach tossed in at the very end
Add whole wheat pasta and serve

Mediterranean style chicken and artichoke whole wheat pasta

3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, coarsely chopped

1 cup of marinated artichokes, rough chopped

1/2 cup feta cheese

1 tbsp fresh dill

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp salt

1 can italian style stewed tomatoes or 2 Roma tomatoes chopped

2 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach

1/2 pound of whole wheat pasta (linguine, fettuccine or egg noodles)

Cook whole wheat pasta to al dente.  In a large skillet or wok heat olive oil, add chicken,salt and garlic and saute for a few minutes until chicken is no longer pink.  Add in tomatoes, artichoke hearts, dill and parsley.  Let simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add in dried rosemary and feta cheese and cook for about 1 minute.  Add in spinach and let it wilt into the sauce.  Turn off heat.  Toss in cooked pasta and serve immediately.

Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken and henna tattoos

We had a little party last night.  It was only about 19 people if you counted all the kids.  For our house that’s not a lot of people. We almost always have more people than we actually invited. One year for Thanksgiving I invited 15 people and 55 people showed up.  How does that happen, you wonder?  Well, people bring people.  They know they’ll be welcome at our house so they bring their friends.  The only problem it sometimes poses is that I don’t know about it in advance.  It’s hard to feed 55 when you’re cooking for 15-20.  I have learned to always make extra for those unexpected (but welcome) guests.  Now my friends from the Marshall Islands, they know how to “partay”.  They routinely have get-togethers for large crowds.  There is no such thing as a small Marshallese gathering.  They celebrate EVERYTHING.  Oh, it’s Tuesday…let’s have a party.  They never miss a chance to live in community.  I love that about them as a people group as much as I love their grilled chicken.  Of course when I asked around for a recipe nobody could really quantify anything.  So, I decided to come up with my own concoction.  You’ll be happy to know that many Marshallese have eaten my chicken and given it the “NOD” of approval!

Come on over for some good food, good times and mehndi (henna tattoos).  There’s always room for a few extra people…

Flat leafed parsley, garlic, ginger, onion and brown sugar
Add toasted sesame seeds, a dash of chilli flakes, soy sauce, honey and mix
Marinate the chicken thighs in the refrigerator overnight
Grill at a medium temperature
They are sooo good!

Mehndi is an ancient art form using crushed up leaves from the henna tree. It is non-toxic and leaves a stain behind for 2-3 weeks.
My little effort on my friend Abbie’s shoulder

I always have a hard time doing designs on myself, never turns out good

Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken

10-12 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin off and visible fat trimmed

1 1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, chopped

1 whole garlic

2 inch piece of fresh ginger

1 small onion

dash of chilli flakes

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Take the skin off the chicken thighs and trim all visible fat.  Wash and set aside.  Blend in a blender or processor garlic, ginger and onion  together.  In a bowl, mix together all ingredients before pouring in soy sauce, stir to incorporate well.  Pour over chicken and either place in a large ziplock bag and seal or put in an airtight container.  Marinate overnight in refrigerator.  Grill over medium heat and serve!

Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

Back in March when I started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing.  I still don’t.  But one of the fun things about blogging has been reading other blogs whether food related or not.  I’ve learned new things, added new foods to my repertoire and improved my culinary skills.  Who knew it would turn out to be so much fun?  One of the blogs I fell in love with has been Tasha’s Foodashion’s blog.   I saw  her post on artichokes and the gorgeous pictures and I was hooked.  I finally made a variation of her original recipe and I gotta tell you it was delicious.  Mine was not nearly as visually stunning as Tasha’s but we ate them up in record time!

Trim off the sharp edges with kitchen shears
Trimmed artichoke
Cook or steam them for about 25-30 minutes until tender
Take out the sharp middle leaves
Clean out the choke
Stuff liberally with filling and bake

Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

4 Fresh Artichokes

1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup Camembert cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped flat leafed parsley

2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 onion, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, zested and juiced

4-5 kalamata olives, finely chopped

Wash and trim the artichokes with kitchen shears.  Smash them down a little on your counter or cutting board (leafy side down) so they open up a bit like a flower and place them in a pan with water and lemon juice, (save the zest of the lemon in a separate bowl)and cook covered for about 25-30 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile assemble the stuffing.  Heat olive oil and saute the onion and the garlic together, add in kalamata olives and take off the heat.  Mix the cheeses with lemon zest, parsley and add to the onion mixture in a  small bowl.  When artichokes are cool enough to handle take out the middle part and clean out the “choke” with a spoon.  Divide the stuffing between all four artichokes making sure to stuff between leaves as well.  Bake at 425° for about 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly and dive into the gooey goodness!

Daal Makhani and exploding pressure cookers

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.

Split Urad daal (black lentils)
Cook the urad daal and kidney beans with water, salt, turmeric, onion and ginger for about 40-50 minutes and mash lightly with a potato masher
Add dry mango powder, garam masala powder and half and half to the daal and cook a few more minutes
In a little hot ghee add cumin seeds, red chilies and red chili powder. Stir to incorporate
Add hot, aromatic ghee to the daal. Mix and take off heat.
Serve hot with fresh chappatis

Daal Makhani

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.

Thai style beef with basil and death to snails…

I really, really enjoy the flavor of Thai Basil.  It’s such a fresh tasting herb with a slight almost licorice kind of flavor to it.  I try to grow it every summer along with a wide variety of other basil plants.  Last year, I had a huge snail problem in my garden and they began to feast on my Thai Basil before I could. It made me so mad.  I tried all kinds of tricks without having to use harsh chemicals.  Like beer.  Yes, beer.  I heard that snails were attracted to beer.   According to a friend of mine, if you put some beer in a shallow pan near plants you want snails to avoid, they climb into the beer and drown.  So, I went to the store, bought some really cheap beer in several 6-packs because I wanted to really drown the suckers.  I had pie pans all over my yard with beer in them.  I found a few drunken snails but not the horde that I was expecting.  My friend suggested that my beer was too cheap.  Seriously?  They were expecting micro brewed ale? I was not about to throw a Keg party for the snails.  I tried “organic” snail bait and ground glass, didn’t work.  This year, I’m planting basil in flower pots all over my patio.  Maybe that will work.  Snails are gross, but this recipe rocks.  Hey, if you have any snail genocide ideas, please let me know. …

Add soy sauce and corn starch to beef and mix well
Had to share the directions on the back of the noodle package. LOVE IT!
Thai Basil
Stir fry beef with garlic and ginger
When meat is no longer pink, add in onion, red pepper, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, sambal olek and coconut milk
Add Thai Basil after heat is turned off
Thai style beef with basil!

Thai Style Beef with Basil

1/2 pound beef, thinly sliced ( I used chuck  roast)

2 tsp corn starch

2 tsp soy sauce

1 big bunch of Thai basil

2 tbsp sweet soy sauce

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

5 whole garlic cloves, minced

Red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1/3 cup coconut milk

3 tbsp oil

1 1/2  tsp sambal olek

2 tsp fish sauce

Vegetarian thin noodles or you can use glass noodles

Thinly slice some beef.  Half frozen beef is great because then you can really slice it thin.  Mix beef with soy sauce and corn starch and set aside.  In a wok or large skillet heat the oil.  Add garlic and ginger and then add the beef.  Stir fry for 2 minutes or so until meat is no longer pink.  Add bell pepper and onion and continue to stir fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add in sambal olek, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce and 1/3 cup  coconut milk.  The sauce should be thickening up within a minute or two.  Take off heat and add in Thai Basil.  Stir to mix in and wilt all the basil.  Serve over noodles or with some brown rice!

Radish Cucumber and Mango Salad with honey lime dressing

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.

Thinly sliced radishes, english cucumbers and some mangoes
Added the vinaigrette
Toss, chill and serve

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

Dressing

1 lime

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.