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Category: Recipes (page 4 of 10)

A Steaming Bowl of Rasam

A steaming bowl of tomato-n-pepper rasam hits the spot on a cold winter day. It opens the sinuses, clears the nasal passage and throat, fires up the taste buds and creates a feeling of bonhomie that is so vital on a blustery and grey day in January. And my Mom’s recipe… A-ha, it is THE BEST. It is sweet and tangy, spicy (or mild) and piquant, verdant and attractive. Are you sold yet? No? Well, take a look.

Mmmm...Rasam!

Mmmm…Rasam!

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients
1/4 cup toor dal
1 large tomato, chopped into chunks
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon rasam powder (I use a local brand Madurai Foods. You can find many brands at your local Indian store)
freshly ground black pepper
Jaggery (to taste)
salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ghee (or less, if you prefer)

Method

  • Wash the dal, cleaning it of dust, stones, etc. Place in a pressure cooker vessel with 1/2 cup of water.
  • In another pressure cooker vessel, place chopped tomatoes, turmeric, rasam powder, pepper, jaggery, salt, 1/4 teaspoon ghee and 1/2 cup water.
  • Place both vessels in the pressure cooker. Cook for two whistles.
  • Take out the vessel with the dal. Mash well so as to get a smooth liquid consistency. Pour into a cooking utensil.
  • Add the tomato mixture to the mashed dal. Stir.
  • Add a couple of cups of water. Bring to a boil.
  • In a little pan, warm 1/4 teaspoon of ghee. Add black mustard seeds. When the seeds begin spluttering, add cumin seeds. Wait until the cumin turns red-brown. Turn off the heat. Add the mix to the rasam.
  • Check for salt.
  • Finish with a squeeze of lime. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Top with a little (or large) dollop of ghee if you like.

Rasam can be enjoyed as a soup by itself or eaten with steaming white/brown rice. No matter what your choice, belly-warming deliciousness, a runny nose and a feeling of ‘all is well with the world’ are guaranteed!

Cooking with Aurora: Tofu and Kale Stir-Fry

 

Aurora Nessly

Aurora Nessly

Aurora Nessly is an ICE (Institute of Culinary Education) graduate from NYU and works as a private chef and food writer. She is also a freelance writer for the Cook and Go Culinary Studio based in New York City.

“I have always had a love for cooking, even at a young age. Growing up, I have had the opportunity to build a cross-country palate through living both in the Pacific Northwest and in Eastern Pennsylvania. From the Pacific Northwest while living in Seattle, I have grown to love Dungeness crab and bare bone cooked salmon with just a little lemon, salt, and pepper. From Eastern Pennsylvania, I have learned to love the severe changes in season, while my food tastes have changed right along with them. In the heat of Summers, I would survive by the cool Italian ices and sweet corn. And in the Winter, every kind of meat and potato you could imagine would cross my plate.

These delicious experiences growing up have given me opportunities to try new dishes and explore my passions. This has led me to take my cooking to the next level by getting an education as a chef at the Institute of Culinary Education. Waking up every day, dressing for service, and pounding out recipes have given me all the preparation I needed to cook all of the dishes that I love. I hope you all enjoy this healthy and delicious meal that I have cooked up for you!”

Aurora’s team contacted me with an offer for content partnership. Here is a recipe from her – Quick Kale and Tofu Stir-Fry.

This is a great dish inspired for vegetarians, vegans and health-conscious eaters. If you’re looking for a healthy meal that is very quick and easy to pull together, this is a great recipe for you to try. The kale not only packs this meal with delicious nutrients, the tofu adds tons of protein. It takes only ten minutes to make, and is perfect for a light, filling lunch, or even for a dinner that you can throw together in a snap!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1 package (12 ounces) extra firm tofu, drained, medium diced
1 bunch kale (6 cups packed), chopped into bite-sized pieces, stems removed
salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon low-sodium teriyaki sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons sambal
1 tablespoon sesame seed

Method

  • In a large wok, or frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and bring to medium high heat.
  • Add tofu to form an even layer and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the kale and continue cooking for 6 minutes, turning from time to time.
  • Drain excess juice from tofu and kale and add remaining sesame oil, teriyaki sauce, ground mustard, and sambal.
  • Cook an additional 2-3 minutes then top with sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Option: For a fuller meal, serve on top of a mound of brown rice and make sure to spoon in some of the cooking juice on top. Delicious!

Raw Carob-Walnut-Coconut Fudge

Some desserts are destined for greatness. Take this one, for instance.

“The rich notes of coconut oil combine with the mild sharpness of carob to create a creamy and delicious raw fudge that is punctuated by little bites of walnut, the faintest whiff of vanilla and a smidgen of sea salt.”

I suppose that is how a seasoned food blogger would describe this dessert. Am I a seasoned food blogger? Not really. So I am simply going to say that this is a delightful little piece of sweet heaven. The taste is so memorable that I was reminded of it throughout my morning yoga and meditation. It lingered on in my mind, my taste buds, my nose… 🙂

Did I also mention that it is gluten-free, raw and vegan?

This excellent recipe came to be via AllGoneVegan. Oops, I made a slight change. I used carob powder in place of raw cacao and I am glad to say that the fudge does not suffer from the substitution, not even a little. I love it. In fact, it makes me doubly happy that I can avoid that hefty dose of caffeine.

Raw Carob-Walnut-Coconut Fudge

Notes

The fudge set in an hour or so. The coconut oil in the recipe is what makes it firm, I think.

After a couple of hours, I took the block of fudge out of the freezer, cut it into bite-sized pieces and put them in a plastic container. Back it went to the freezer and that’s where I stored it.

The coconut oil grants the fudge firmness but when you bite into a piece, it dissolves into a rich creaminess… Full marks for texture!

I think I’ll make this again and again… All my friends loved it unreservedly. I might add in a few raisins next time.

The flavor of coconut oil isn’t intense but it is unmistakeable.

Food, Rituals, and Kale and Coconut Dal

Rituals make our food more flavorful (NY Times)

Rituals make our life flavorful. They add detail to our mundane existence, making it extra-special. Food and the act of eating benefit greatly from little rituals. In traditional Indian homes, these rituals can run into long minutes (even hours!). They have their own significance and they add sacredness to an act that we undertake three times a day, every day of our life (yes, I realize that I am immeasurably blessed to be able to state that fact so blandly).

At my home, my parents were fairly casual about these rituals, so I didn’t grow up with many of them. However, I have incorporated a few into my daily meal routine. For instance, I chant the following verses before I begin a meal.

brahmArpaNaM brahma haviH brahmAgnau brahmaNA hutam ।
brahmaiva tena gantavyaM brahmakarmasamAdhinA ।।

(The act of offering is Brahman. The offering itself is Brahman. The offering is done by Brahman in the sacred fire that is Brahman. He alone attains Brahman who, in all actions, is fully absorbed in Brahman.)

annadAta pAkakartA taThA bHoktA sukhI bhava, sukhI bhava, sukhi bhava|

(The giver of food, the cook and the one who consumes it… may you be happy, may you be happy, may you be happy!)

Meal combinations don’t exactly constitute rituals, I know, but they gave a certain predictability to our kiddie days. Most often, Sunday lunches used to feature steaming white rice, tangy tomato rasam spiced with tamarind, fresh green cilantro, cumin and mustard seeds and sweetened with jaggery, leafy amaranth dal ground with coconut and cumin, a vegetable dish of green beans and suran (Elephant Food yam in English – who knew!).

I don’t have access to amaranth leaves, so I used Mummy’s recipe to recreate the dish using kale instead. Here is my take on a leafy dal and coconut concoction that made my childhood Sundays perfect in every way possible.

Ingredients
4-5 stalks of dark green lacinato kale, chopped
1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 cup coconut (fresh or frozen)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 green chilli
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon urad dal
1-2 dried red chillies
1 teaspoon oil (for tadka)

Method

  • Cook toor dal in the pressure cooker for two whistles until soft. Turn off the heat
  • Blend the coconut and cumin seeds into a smooth paste, adding adequate water to gain the right consistency.
  • Open the pressure cooker lid, drop in the chopped greens, turmeric and green chilli. Add a cup or so of water, turn the heat on and let the mixture cook. Stir intermittently. You can keep the cooker covered so as to hasten the cooking time.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • When the kale is cooked (tear off a little piece and check the taste and color), turn off the heat.
  • Add the coconut-cumin paste. Mix well.
  • Warm the oil for tadka. Add mustard seeds. As they begin spluttering, add red chillies and urad dal. As soon as the urad dal turns brown-red in color, turn off the heat. Add the mix to the kale-coconut dal. Stir well.
Kale-Coconut Dal

Kale-Coconut Dal

Notes

This is a simple yet hearty dal that ranks high on taste, nutrition and flavor. If your palate appreciates heat, go ahead and increase the number of red chillies in the preparation.

Fresher the kale, better it will be in terms of taste and texture. I have noticed that kale turns drier and tougher as it sits.

My preferred way of cooking dals, beans and legumes is in a pressure cooker. I add boiling water to the washed dal (2:1 proportion of water to dal), shut the pressure cooker with its lid, turn on the heat. As the steam begins to rise out of the top, I cap the whistle on. When the first whistle blows, I reduce the heat. Then I wait for another whistle. Right after the second whistle, I turn off the heat. In case of beans or legumes that are harder, I might wait for additional 2-3 whistles. This method is followed by my mother as well. I have seen that it results in soft and well-cooked dals.

Serve a bowl of this dal with steaming brown (or white rice), a smidgen of ginger pickle on the side and tuck in.