Sunday, August 17, 2014

Achari Vegetable Curry


Shan Achari Masala - 1 pack (Shan Achari Gosht also works, but it is less spicy)
Cauliflower (aka Gobi) - 1, chopped into florets
Mushroom - 1 large pack, remove the stem of the mushroom and chop into 3-4 pieces each
String Beans - 1 bunch, chopped into 2 inch pieces
Dry Green Chana - 1 cup, soak overnight and pressure cook with an inch of chopped ginger and Salt for approx. 2 whistles
Potatoes - 2-3 medium, chopped to match the cauliflower florets size
Paneer - a few pieces, as per taste
Canola Oil - 2 tbsps
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry Bay Leaf - 3-4
Dry Red Chilli - 2-3 (optional)
Salt - 1 tbsp (or as per taste)
Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Tomato - 2 medium, chopped into small pieces
Onion\Ginger\Garlic paste - 12 tbsp (grind 1 large Onion, 1/2 inch Ginger, 7-8 Garlic cloves, 2 Green Chillies is optional)


Grind Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies together
Heat Canola Oil.
Season the oil with Cumin Seeds, Dry Bay Leaf and Dry Red Chillies.
As the spices start browning, add the Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies paste. If there is any of the paste remaining, freeze it to use later. I keep it in refrigerator if I intend to use it within the next day or two in a tightly sealed container.
Mix the paste with the seasoned Oil and stir till the paste is cooked and the Oil separates. Takes about 5-10 mins.
In the meanwhile, heat another pan and start frying the veggies one-by-one. I do one veggie at a time since that will make sure the veggies are uniformly cooked. If you don't have one or more of these veggies, don't worry - it is perfectly okay to skip them. Different combination of veggie stuff will give it a slightly different taste - not that much of a difference though! I leave them half-cooked so that when mixed with the Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies, they can cook together completely.
As the Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies paste is cooked, add the Shan Achari Masala. Mix together and stir for 2-3 mins.
Add the fried veggies and mix well.
Cover and cook for a few mins, particularly if the veggies are half-cooked.
Serve this hot with Rice\Chapatti.

Achari Vegetable Curry with Peurto Rican Beans in the background

Fried Plantains (Puerto Rican)

One of my friend's mother-in-law and a very dear friend of mine was recently in town. She very sweetly remembered that I had expressed an interest in learning more about the Puerto Rican cuisine and maybe a recipe or two. We ended up meeting last Sunday and cooking together. That was one of the most memorable get-togethers that I have had. We ate, drank, laughed and cooked some. "Life is good" because of such moments that we share with near and dear ones. Thank you, Beita ... love you and always count my blessings that I have you as a friend. Amen to many more such moments to be blessed on all of us.

She taught us Puerto Rican Beans and Rice (will post later) and Fried Plantains. Both were delicious, full of flavors and the best part - easy peasy to make. The whole house smelt so good when both these dishes were being cooked.


Plantains - not too ripe, just perfect
Canola Oil - for frying one side at a time (not as much as one would need for deep frying)


Cut the plantains as shown in the pic.

Heat the oil.
Place the plantains in a layer so that one side gets cooked.
As it slightly browns, turn over the other side.
It is meant to be slightly cooked, but we also liked a batch that was slightly overdone and crispy. Or as Beita said "If you kids like it, go for it!" :)

As we kept making these, they kept disappearing. So you can imagine! Even the kids love plan the portions accordingly when preparing. We had it as a side with the Rice & Beans as well. The sweetness of the fried plantains gave a nice twist to the savory Rice & Beans. Bon appetit.

Thank you, Beita, for the wonderful recipe and the memories. A shout-out to my fellow learners in this cookout - dear A-Chau and Huey :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mediterranean Restaurant Zeitoon @ Sterling, VA

Different types of Olives
Note - This is not a paid post!:)

We tried out a local Mediterranean restaurant and loved it - so I thought I should share. Loved the food and the service. Can't wait to try it again. Every dish was fresh and flavourful. The lamb was perfectly cooked - just the right amount of spice without being overwhelming. The plums in the dish were a unique addition to a meat dish for me and gave a nice twist. Actually if it were not for the plums, it would have been very much like the good ol'  Odiya Mangso Tarkari (Goat Meat curry). Hummus was one of the best I have ever had. I dont have (or thought so) the taste buds for Olives but liked the different varieties they served.

Sharing a few pics.

Note: They make Baklava every few days (I forget the exact days) but it was sold out the day we visited - will def try it the next time we are there. 

Appetizer samplerLamb Tajine - loved the plums in it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lotus Root Crisps


Lotus Roots - fresh or frozen defrosted 2 cups
Shan Tandoori Masala - 2 tbsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp, or as per taste
Rice Flour - 3 tbsp, for crunchiness


Cut the Lotus roots into pieces as shown in pic. If frozen, they come pre-cut; make sure to defrost.
Mix with the rest of the ingredients
Deep fry in hot oil.
Serve hot with Rice/Dal or eat as-is.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tuna Dip


8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1/4 teaspoon Hot Sauce, to taste
1/4 teaspoon Salt, or as per taste
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
2 (6 ounce) cans Albacore Tuna in Olive Oil, drained and flaked
2 whole Green Onions, minced
3 Celery Stalks, chopped fine
A pinch Sugar


Remove the oil from Tuna and put in a paper towel to wring out as much of the liquid as possible.
Mix everything together.
Keep it refrigerated till ready to serve.
Like it room temperature.

Can serve as appetizer with Crackers or Chips.
Also liked it on subs or breads as sandwich - a multi-purpose dip, for sure!

Inspired by the recipe here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Posto Bara (Poppy Seeds fritter)

In most Odiya households, there are certain days of the week that are followed as vegetarian days (Mondays and Thursdays are the most commonly followed ones). I am not sure but this may be an entirely unique trait of the Odiya culture. That is in comparison to most other cultures where people are either vegetarian or not. So in those vegetarian days, my mom had to be really innovative to keep us happily fed (us being me and Baba - my dad). Posto Bara was a favorite for those days. It is one of those dishes which is made widely in Odiya and Bengali households.

My dad is from Mayurbhanj and they use poppy seed a lot in their cuisine. Patua also known as Patrapoda is a delicious flavorful poppy seed and mustard seed paste-based dish with tiny fishes cooked in leaf-wrap in the clay oven. My mom can make it in a regular pot as well. I have tried but can never get the same flavors. It is an intricate and careful preparation. My Didi (my paternal grandmom) also used to make it really well. Some food memories for sure...

Posto Bara is something I have been planning to make since ages. However, my last few attempts at making anything using poppy seed has been a disaster - too much mustard leading to bitter taste, coarse paste texture due to incompetent blender, etc, etc. So finally I turned around and got enthu to take another stab at it. Voila - it was a success. We loved it! Friends visiting us loved it! Got another friend who was missing her mom's food to try it - She also loved it! :)

My childhood friend Sonali's preparation - One of the best cooks, for sure! :)

This is so easy to make - I am pretty sure I will make it more often now.

Ingredients (makes about 60 small fritters)

Poppy Seeds - 2 cups
Maida - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 medium, chopped finely
Potato - 1 large, chopped finely
Green Chilli - 3-4, chopped finely (optional)
Garlic or Onion-Ginger-Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp
Cumin-Chilli Powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - as per taste
Canola oil for shallow frying


Soak the Poppy Seeds overnight. I add warm water to begin with.
Take 1/2 tsp Canola oil and fry the finely chopped potatoes to cook it. It can be added as-is to the batter but I did not want to take the chance of it remaining raw.
Grind the Poppy Seeds to a fine batter - not too watery. As you take the batter in your hand, you should be able to mould it to the shape you want.
Add all the ingredients with the Poppy Seed batter and mix well.
Heat oil for shallow frying. Add the prepared batter to the hot oil as shown in pic below.
Cook one side. As it turns crispy and browns, it will easily move. Turn it upside down so that the other side can cook.
Place them in paper towel to pull away the extra oil.
Place them in a wax paper lined container.
Serve hot. Goes well with Rice-Dal as well as an appetizer.

Let me know if you get to try it. Have a great day!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Interesting brown bag..(Thanks, Chipotle!)

Just as I was about to garbage this bag, chanced upon the writing on it and enjoyed reading it in detail. Being mindful is important to not lose out on these small surprise packages, literally! :)