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!
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
I’m well into the second week of P90X. I am beginning to walk like the hunchback (or is it hump back? I have a hunched hump) of Notre Dame when nobody is watching, dang that Tony Horton. I try to straighten up and look buff whenever I think I’ll encounter other people. I’m still laughing, joking and talking but it covers over some serious muscle pain. I don’t remember being THIS sore the last cycle of P90X. My daughter reminded me that was a few months ago and now I am OLDER. Thanks, Onjoli. My sister Rita is also doing P90X. We live hundreds of miles apart but found time to laugh on the phone together over how hard it was to even blow dry our hair after doing a bunch of pull-ups. I need something to look forward to at mealtimes while I get over the first few weeks of muscle pain (and misery). I want comfort food (or my mom to cook for me)! Comfort food that won’t destroy all the hard work of working out. Muttar Paneer has all the flavors of a richer meat dish, like a Rogan Josh curry (that’s an awesome beef or lamb curry) but is pretty low in fat while being high in protein. Since I make my own paneer using 2% milk, it’s a lower fat version than the ones available through my cheese monger or at the Indian grocer. The spices used are very similar to what is used in making a lamb curry, making the flavor profile much richer.
I know when you look at the long list of spices, it can seem daunting but there is another piece of good news. you can make the tomato and cashew based sauce ahead of time or in a bigger batch and freeze them in portioned freezer bags. When you’re ready to cook, you can take out a bag of sauce and add the garam masala and either lamb, beef or in this case the green peas and paneer to complete the rest of the currying process. I have done that in the past, I just didn’t have any sauce in my freezer this time!
I have used whole spices in my Garam Masala again. I beg you to use whole spices whenever you can, the taste is so much better, I promise. I hope you try this out. You’ll really enjoy the mini explosion of flavors in every bite and keep eating it and eating it….Oh, BTW, it goes great with Chappatis.
4 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
5-6 raw cashews
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 fresh green chilies
2 tsp Kasuri Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)
handful of cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup milk with 1/2 tsp flour mixed in or you can use 1/4 cup heavy cream
Whole Garam Masala:
5 green cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
5 whole cloves
salt to taste
Heat 2 tbsp oil and saute cashews, add in onion, salt, turmeric ginger and garlic and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes. Blend this mixture in a blender or processor until smooth. (Note: if you wanted to make extra sauce for future use, you could easily make a double or quadruple batch and freeze them in portioned freezer bags). In the same pan used earlier, add the remaining oil and the whole garam masala spices and cumin seeds and stir fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato mixture and simmer covered on low heat for about 8-10 minutes until all the flavors are well blended. You can adjust with a little water. Into the sauce add the peas, green chilies and the dried fenugreek leaves (fresh would be great if you can get it, not as pungent) cook for about 2 minutes until peas are tender then add the paneer, milk and flour mixture or cream and cilantro. Heat all the way through, should take another 2 minutes or so and serve hot with plain brown basmati rice or chappatis.
This Coconut Rice is super tasty and originates from the Southern part of India. Most places that grow coconut has some kind of a coconut rice recipe. Jamaicans have a coconut rice recipe where the coconut milk is used directly with the rice and it’s a rich, sweet rice. Marshall Islanders make shredded coconut and white rice balls that are very popular and eaten with savory foods even though the rice balls are quite sweet tasting. The tastes, styles and flavors are as varied as the locales coconuts are grown in. I really enjoy this South Indian version because it has a wonderful crunch not only from the nuts but from the lentils that are stir fried . The toasted coconut adds depth, texture and tastes heavenly. This rice is very versatile. I’ve paired it with Indonesian style chicken or with Chicken satay or with the 10 minute Tilapia curry.
4 cups cooked rice, Brown rice is great here (I used Basmati rice, any long grain rice will work)
2 cups desiccated unsweetened coconut (finely shredded)
4 dried red chilis
1 tablespoon split Urad daal (black lentils)
1 tablespoon Bangla Chana daal (yellow split peas)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/3 cup raw peanuts or cashews
3 tbs coconut oil
In a wok or large skillet heat the oil and add the lentils, mustard, cumin seeds, salt. Stir fry for a few minutes until flavors are released. Add the nuts and stir fry another minute or so then add coconut and cook about 2 minutes. Coconut will start becoming toasted and start smelling wonderful. Add the rice and stir fry gently to incorporate. Serve warm. Great as a leftover by itself or with other dishes.