Wednesday, August 29, 2012

White Bass - Baked with Tunisian Fish Spice Mix

Prepare the marinade mix with Salt and Turmeric.

Add 2-3 tsp of fresh lemon juice to cut the "fishy" after-taste. I forgot to add this and the "fishy" after-taste was there in my preparation - don't like that! Maa said even Vinegar can cut that after-taste.

Add 4-5 cloves Garlic, freshly crushed.

Add about 3 tbsp Tunisian Fish Masala mix that my dear friend Kavita carried for me all the way from Tunisia - that was so very thoughtful and a perfect gift for me. Thanks, dear - I always cherish our friendship!

Marinade the fish in room temperature. Let it sit aside for 30 mins to 1 hr.

Heat the Oven at 375 degrees F.

Bake the fish for about 25 mins. Keep close watch if you need more or less time.

Broil the fish for the crunchy exterior for about 5-10 mins. Keep close watch if you need more or less time.

Fyi for DC suburb folks - We got the White Bass from Lotte Plaza - number 3 cleaning! 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Easy fix Puliogare aka Tamarind Rice

I should credit my dear friend Siri for introducing me to this quick and delicious dish. She had made it for my first road-trip here with her and a few other friends - that taste still lingers on. Thanks, Siri, for the camaraderie! :)

This is an easy-fix wholesome dish for lunch or work-tiffin box. Whenever I have leftover rice, this is another dish I like to whip up for work lunch-box. These days, I try to limit my rice intake for lunch hours and this dish works out perfectly.

I use the branded store-bought Tamarind Rice mix. I like the MTR brand because of their quality and authentic taste.

Heat 1/2 tsp of Canola oil.
As it warms up, add a few cumin seeds and chopped fresh 1-2 green chillies.
Add 2-3 tbsp of the Tamarind Rice paste\powder.
I usually add a half-cup of chopped Peanuts separately as well even though the spice mix usually includes a fair share of ground Peanuts.
As the flavors are imparted and the spice mix looks mixed well with the oil in 3-4 mins, add the room-temperature cooked Rice.
Mix well. Cover for 5 mins for the flavors to inter-mingle!

Serve with hot Cucumber Raita or Papad.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nadiya Rasa dia Chingudi Tarkari (Shrimp in Coconut Milk Gravy)


Shrimp (Chingudi in Odiya, peeled and deveined) - about 30-40
Salt - 1 tbsp
Turmeric - 1 tbsp
Chilli Powder - 1 tsp

Marinate the Shrimp with the above spices for atleast 30 mins. Depending on temperature outside, you can keep it back in the fridge after coating it well. Cover it with a seal-wrap.

Take a flat heavy-bottomed pan.
Heat 2-3 tbsp Canola Oil in Medium heat.
As it warms up, add the Shrimp in a layer and let it half-cook on one side. You will get a beautiful Orange color. Turn it over and let it cook the other side. You don't need to fully cook it since it will also cook in the curry later. Depending on pan size, you will never to shallow fry the Shrimps in multiple batches. To let you in on a secret, I sometimes fully cook a few of these babies and have them as-is. They taste awesome! Ah, if they are the fresh Prawns of Odisha, I can't imagine you not doing this... :)
Keep them aside. You don't need to place them on paper towel since it is tasty to add the oil back to the curry later.

I use my regular Onion/Tomato/Green Chilli/Ginger/Garlic curry paste to prepare this. It is roughly 2-3 Medium Onions, 2-3 Medium Tomatoes, 2-3 Green Chillies, 1 inch Ginger, 6-7 Garlic Cloves with as little water as possible.

No need to clean the pan used for frying the Shrimp. I reuse the same pan in order to not lose out on any of the flavors - that is why it is a good idea to use an appropriate dish when you start frying, something that can hold the curry while cooking.

Heat 1 tbsp Canola Oil or lesser if the pan still has some oil from the above shallow frying process.
Add 2-3 dry Bay leaves, 2-3 dry Red Chillies, 1-2 Cinnamon stick and 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds.
As the above whole spices sizzle, add the ground paste of Onion/Tomato/Green Chilli/Ginger/Garlic.

As the curry paste is half-cooked, add a little more oil if required. I try to add a dash of water instead and it usually helps continue the cooking process without burning the curry paste and without the need for the  added oil.

Add 4-5 tsp of Curry Powder, 1 tsp of Coriander Powder and 1 tsp of Garam Masala.
Adding a dash of Paprika Powder gives it a bright color.

10 minutes before you stop cooking, add 1/2 to 1 cup of Coconut Milk (I use canned ones and this is called Nadia Rasa and thus, the name) and mix well. The color is further enhanced with the addition of the Coconut Milk which gives it a nice golden color.

Enjoy with Rice\Roti\Naan anyday!

Funny note - Back home, little babies are also affectionately referred to as Chingudi! LOL!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Independence Day Chitrahar from back in the days...

Happy India Independence day..belated wishes!

Does anyone remember Chitrahaar from back in the days? I am sure anyone and everyone from my age-group definitely does - right? For the uninitiated, it was a bi-weekly movie song program that used to come in the Indian National Television Channel "Doordarshan". It was the only channel available back then - yes, I am from the pre-cable era (made me feel akin to dinosaur era, as I was writing!)

So every Wednesday and Friday used to be movie song night via this program .. 8pm and we were all hooked to the television. No 24-hour song channels in those days and anyways, don't think parents would have allowed that much TV-time back then! :) School lunch-break conversation would center around what were the new songs..and the thing was on special occasions, they would play the same songs!! Yes, same songs.. :)

Gandhi Jayanti meant a song from Ben Kingsley's Gandhi movie - that was the only Gandhi-based movie in those days, now we have a few more to the mix. Holi, Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Raksha name the occasion and they had a set of canned songs which played every year. As I was thinking of a special post for India's Independence Day celeb, I thought I should repost the songs from Chitrahar that were played religiously every Independence day. If anyone is enthued enough, mind checking in this year to see if they end up playing any of these YET AGAIN!! An informal Bingo game of sorts, you know! :)

So here they you remember any others? Let me know if you do..

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wine 101 - 'I am Modern' magazine

The other day while waiting for my 'much coveted' dentist appointment, I was flipping through the 'I am Modern' magazine. One article that caught my attention was a write-up on Wine.

What has always intrigued me about Wine is the food-wine pairing involved and it's use in cooking. As my close friends know, I don't drink (nothing wrong with drinking in moderation but alas, had to clarify here before some conservative friend and family members get their wild thought process going and make snide remarks!) but it's cooking use is something I want to be comfortable and conversant in someday! You have to agree it is a unique cooking technique and an interesting part of the palate. Who does not like the flame color when the spirit such as Rum or Wine is added to the food? Gorgeous, isn't it? :)

Am sure will use these clicks someday in determining the appropriate food and wine pairing. One thing to note here is that with Indian food, Pinot Grigio is recommended.

White Wine
Red Wine

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Khada Saga Bhaja

Ask any Baripadia (yes, I wear that hat too!) about Mudi - Saga Bhaja (Puffed rice with Stir-fried Greens), you will suddenly find them in a tranquil space! I can start smelling the garlic infused greens..and am transported to the mornings at my parent's house where this is one regular breakfast item!

But it is a bit of trouble for my mom and aunts..coz back home, my Dad and Uncles prefer to get the green freshly plucked in the morning which means they have to be delicately cleaned and individual leaves removed and cut (a time consuming process) quickly enough to prepare it in time! Maa - you rock! :)

I recently found these greens that look like Khada Saga at our grocery store with somewhat larger leaves but oddly enough, it tasted and felt just like Khada saga. I threw away the wrapper before noting the name and also forgot to take pic..but making a note to self to note the same in my next purchase!!

Heat 2 tbsp Canola oil.
Add 1 tbsp Mustard oil.

Peel and crush 1 pod of Garlic - this dish is only flavored by Garlic, so we add lots. It is not a typo - we do add one entire pod of Garlic - the more, the better!!
As the oil sizzles, add the Garlic and 5-6 dry Red Chillies. Mix it well with the oil and cook for about 2-3 mins till the Garlic turns slightly translucent.

Add the chopped greens in batches and mix them well. The greens reduce a lot. Cover them briefly to fasten the cooking process.

I will toss and turn them till they get evenly reduced. After I have managed to get all the greens in the pan, I will cover them in Medium heat for it to cook well and lose the raw taste.

Remember to add Salt as per taste when the greens are half-cooked.

Note - We do not use Turmeric in this stir-fry.

Maa likes to toast 'Badi' (Urad dal fritters hardened in sunshine and stored for later use) and add them to this.

Oh, I forgot but this tastes great if you chop Brinjal\Eggplant into tiny 1/2 inch pieces and cook them in the oil before adding the greens. It gives the dish more volume.

Since I was serving this akin to Collard Greens with my Burger dinner menu, skipping the Eggplants was ok. It tasted great either ways!! :)

Enjoy and have a great time!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bonsai & Penjing Museum, National Arboretum, DC

The Bonsai tree is an art-form which originated in China centuries ago. Japan grew this art and spread all across the world. I was first exposed to it when my Maiin (Odiya word for Mami, maternal Uncle's wife) who is an avid gardener had a Lemon Bonsai tree with tiny Lemon's growing on them. How delightful! Down the years, my mom also had a beautiful Banyan Bonsai tree.I should look in my past India trip pics and find a pic of my Aunt's Orange Bonsai.

During the weekend of July 21st, the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum @ Washington, D.C. had a "Bonsai Basics with Tropicals" class scheduled for the entire day. Prior to this event, I was not aware of this place - so it was quite a discovery for me. I have definitely added it to places to visit when friends and family are visiting us next, particularly my dad who most enjoys this type of places.

My friend Raji at work informed me of the class and since she had already enrolled for the same, I also went ahead and signed up. Our morning ride to DC was an adventure enough - what with the day starting off with my alarm cheating on me! I overslept but managed to meet her and also reach there just in time! Before I show you the wonderful exhibits they have, let me first show you the Ficus which I worked on and am now responsible to look after.

The class gives a good introduction to Bonsai basics and their care. Thanks to our instructor Jim for making the class so interesting with anecdotes from his experiences of over 20 years. We were each given a Ficus, a tropical tree to work on and apply all the different concepts such as tree design, pruning, wiring, root adjustment and re-potting. It was quite an experience and I look forward to learning more and growing these skills. Feel like I have a pet now which needs daily care and maintenance - for some strange reason have never felt this for the other plants I have owned in the past and present! Strange!

I so missed not having my SLR with me that day to capture these beauties. Enjoy the lovely exhibits from the museum - hope to someday have these types of trees in my collection and created by me. Long long way to go.. but proud that atleast I have made a start! :)

Different arrangements of multiple Bonsai trees are such an eye-pleased sight. They made me feel so peaceful. Needs such clarity and care in designing and executing the trims to result in an end-product such as these. Just wow.

They have divided the entire exhibition area into three separate areas and have plentiful of exhibits in each - Japanese Pavilion, Chinese Pavilion and International Pavilion. You should keep aside atleast an hour to view each of the exhibits and enjoy them in display.

Apart from the Bonsai Garden, there are quite a few other parks within the Arboretum such as the Herb Garden. It seems like a place to spend the entire day walking around and being with nature. Look forward to spending a day there in serenity...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bhendi Bhaja

Another one in the "Bhaja" aka "Shallow fried" series. Ladies-finger was not in my list of favorite foods for a long time. I tried making it once right after I arrived in DC after wedding and hated the slime associated with this veggie - of course I did not know how to work around it!

When my mom and dad were visiting me for the first time, Maa made it and I loved it even more than the non-veg preparations. Ever since, this is a definite item in my grocery list. So the trick to use it is to clean it before chopping and wipe it dry. Then cut it as required with quick brisk cuts and stir-fry them till the sliminess vanishes. I either cut them into pieces as shown in the pic or into long slices. Love it either way and keep making them inter-changeably.

  • Heat 1 tbsps Canola oil. 
  • Add 3-4 dry Bay leaves, 2-3 dry Red Chillies and a pinch of Cumin seeds and let them sizzle. 
  • Add the chopped Lady Fingers (about 20-30 medium-sized ones - I pick the soft to touch ones - Use your civic sense and please don't break them to select for shopping though that is the best way to determine good ones! If you break them, buy them - don't leave them for others - ewe!). 
  • Add Salt as per taste and 1/2-1 tsp of Turmeric Powder.
  • Stir fry in High Heat till it looks half-cooked and the spluttering of oil stops.
  • Cover them for 2-3 mins for it to cook well. 
  • Based on how you like them, cook in High heat for added crunchiness and Low heat for softer ones. 

Serve it as a side-dish with Rice or Roti. I usually like them with Rice\Dal or Rice\Mutton Curry or Rice\Fish curry. Enjoy!

A similar Bhendi Bhaja recipe was posted here earlier on.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Shell Pasta with Sauce Claire from Switzerland

Ingredients for Pasta

Shell Pasta - 2 cups
Salt - 1 tsp

Method for Pasta
Take a heavy- bottom vessel and boil about 6 cups of water.
After the water boils, add Salt and mix well.
Add the Shell Pasta and get it fully cooked. It took me about 15 mins.
Drain the Pasta and keep it aside.
Keep the strained water to use later as a thickening agent for the pasta sauce.

Knorr-brand bouillons from Switzerland

Ingredients for Sauce

Unsalted Butter - 1 tbsp
Knorr Sauce Claire / Sauce Risteretta - 2 bouillons provided in one box, as shown in the pic - including the other sauce mix "Sauce de roti liee" in the pic only. Note - "Sauce de roti liee" is not used in this recipe.
Cream - 3/4 cup
Salt - as per taste
Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Canola oil - 1/2 tsp - just a drizzle

Method for Sauce

Heat Canola oil.
Add Butter - the Canola oil prevents the butter from burning.
Add the Knorr Sauce Claire - both the buillions available in this box and mix well in Medium heat.
Add the cream and about 1/2 cup of water. Mix well to make a smooth sauce.
Add the boiled Shell Pasta and fold them in the sauce.
Simmer for about 5-10 mins.
Add the chopped red bell peppers and mix it. I like my Peppers to be crunchy - depending on how you like your's, cook them longer or lesser.
Just before serving, I simmer the pasta covered and warm it.

It goes great with Baked Potatoes and a nice warm bread.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Papdi Chat for London Olympics Inaugration!!

Papdi Chat is undoubtedly the Indian version of Salsa and Chips. The sweet and tangy flavors are always a pleasure to enjoy. Very easy to prepare and relish and thus, something I make when relaxing. While watching the London Olympics Inaugration last Friday evening, I was in the mood for some. Quickly boiled some potatoes and opened up a can of Garbanzon beans and the chat is ready to eat. I prefer to use the "soak overnight and pressure cook the Chana/Garbanzo" to get the cooked Garbanzo beans. However, I will always have some canned Garbanzo beans just for occasions/needs like these!

For clarification of people unfamiliar with the word Chat when used with a snack dish, it refers to a snack which is a mish-mash of various ingredients with sweet and tangy flavors. These are popular street-foods of India. With no concern for the hygienic quotient, we used to enjoy these in school and college days from the vendors right outside the campus gates. To be honest, no matter how much you try, you can never replicate those flavors! Even now when I reach India, Chat is one of the top items in my wish-list. And friends and relatives who try to make these at home to persuade me not to eat outside - well, that's a different story! ;) I am guessing Chat represent the Hindi word meaning "slurping away". Or that people catch up on gossip and exchange stories while eating it and thus, the name!


Cooked Garbanzo beans - 1/2 cup
Potato - 2 small, boiled and chopped
Onion - 1/4 of a large one
Green chilli - 1
Fresh Coriander leaves - few sprigs, chopped
Chat masala - 1/2 tsp

Salt and Chilli powder - adjust as per taste

Greek Yogurt - 2 tbsp mixed with 1/4 cup Water and Salt and Cumin-Chilli or Chilli powder (no need of Water if using regular Yogurt)

Papdi chips - 1 cup, spread in a plate (I use the store-bought ones, like the Garvi Gujarat brand for the same)


Prepare the  Yogurt mixture with the spices as mentioned in Ingredients.
Boil Potatoes to cook them. Chop and keep them aside.
Mix the Potatoes with the rest of the ingredients. Keep some of the Yogurt mix to add later if someone needs extra watery mix of Potato-Garbanzo for their Papdi Chips.
Garnish with chopped Coriander leaves and light sprinkle of Chilli Powder (optional).

To eat, pick one Papdi and add a spoonful of the Potato-Garbanzo mix.

Enjoy the London Olympics - root for your athletes but savor the undying spirit and hardwork of each one of them. Let everyone have a great time - no one loses here!