Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Avocado & Bell Pepper Muhammara - Syrian Dip

Time sure flies. Whether you like it or not it goes on ticking. I am loving it, coz next weekend I will be visiting India. Yey.!! We had booked our tickets in April and I remember thinking, oh, that's a long way to go. But here I am trying to go through last minute shopping and packing. I might have completely ignored my blog if it wasn't for blog hopping event by Radhika of Tickling Palates.

This week I am paired with Ayeesha's Taste of Pearl City. I have known her since I started blogging. Her "Anyone Can Cook" series are great for beginner cooks who are looking for some easy to do recipes. With so many things going around me, I decided to pick an easy recipe too and I found it in Muhammara. For original recipe and other great recipes visit Ayeesha here.

Muhammara is a syrian dip, which can be used to top warm biscuits (US kinda biscuits), pita bread, pita chips, toast or crackers. I think they are wonderful with Kebabs and Grilled fish or vegetables too. The original spicy muhammara doesn't call for avocado, but since Ayeesha had used it I gave it a try too, actually doubling it.

Avocados are not only rich in fiber, potassium and Vitamin E, it is also contains a good dose of heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats. Looking some more online to give information to my readers I came across this study find on world’s healthiest foods - Recent research has shown that absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidants—lycopene and beta-carotene—increases significantly when fresh avocado is added to diet. What does that mean to us? These carotenoids are fat-soluble and would be provided with the fat they need for absorption from the addition of avocado. So show some love for these beauties.. :o)

I love making Guacamole with it, Muhammara was a good change. Also, since they are so creamier, I didn't have to use olive oil in the recipe. Read on and try this simple recipe and tell me what you would like them on. 

Serves: 6| Prep Time: 5 min. | Cooking Time: 25 min. (for roasting bell peppers)

  • Red Bell Peppers – 2 [Or 2 Canned roasted Bell peppers. I used one red and other green one from my veggie garden. That's why it's more greener in color than red. ]
  • Avocado - 2
  • Bread crumbs – ¼ cup
  • Walnuts – ¼ cup – Coarsely chopped
  • Molasses – 1 tsp. (Original calls for pomegranate molasses. I had cane sugar one, which tasted perfect)
  • Red Chili flakes – 1 tsp. (Or Cayenne pepper – ½ tsp.)
  • Cumin/ Jeera powder – ½ tsp.
  • Lime juice – 1 tbsp.
  • Olive oil – 1 tsp. for roasting.
  • Salt as needed.

Method of Preparation:

~ Skip this part if using canned roast bell peppers. Preheat the oven to 375 deg. F. In a baking dish, place washed and cut into half bell peppers (cut side down). Apply olive oil on top (you could use olive oil spray). Roast for about 20 minutes. Then turn the broil on and continue to roast for another 5 min.

~ After the bell peppers are cooled down, remove the roasted skin and place it in a blender.

~ Cut the avocado’s lengthwise. Hold both sides and twist in opposite direction, to pull out one without the seed. Now poke a knife in the seed, twist to remove the seed. Spoon out the flesh into blender.

~ Add all other ingredients in and blend until smooth. Yummy dip is ready to be devoured!

Check out my previous blog hop entries


This is off to Radhika’s blog hopping event.

I am also entering this for Ayeesha’s event Eat Well Live well. If I win the giveaway I would love to add this Cuisinart blender to my kitchen

I wanted to also thank my fellow blogger Christy and Julie for sending these awards my way. :o)



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vegetable Shahi Kurma

As I have previously announced to the world mentioned (several times over and over) that I am a huge fan of coconut based recipes, here is another recipe of mine with fresh coconuts in it. I really love the rich flavour of spices in it. Whenever I make this, the whole house fills with nice aroma. I would love to call this shahi kurma, coz of it's richness & glory. :o). I have changed it up from my mom's version. It's very close to saagu that kannadiga's make (I think). It goes really well with Indian flat breads, especially pooris. Try this one out and let me know what you think of it.

Serves: 6 | Prep time: 20 min. Cooking Time: 30 min.

Mixed vegetables – 5 cups (carrots/broccoli, cauliflower, yellow carrots - I used frozen)
Onion/ bell pepper (optional)
Potatoes – 2 big ones (About 1½ cup)
Bay leaves
coconut milk/ heavy cream
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp.
haldi - 1 pinch
Salt to taste

For Green masala
Green chilies - 4
Coriander leaves - 1 cup
Mint/ Pudina leaves - 1 spring (optional)
Ginger - lime size
Garlic - 5 cloves

For Coconut masala
Freshly grated coconut - 2 tbsp.
Cashew nuts - handful
Poppy seeds - 1 tsp.
Cumin/ Jeera seeds - 1 tsp.
Clove/ Lavanga - 3

Method of Preparation:

Preparing for Kurma –
~ Clean and Cut all the vegetables. Cut potatoes in square cubes and place it in water with some salt.
~ Microwave frozen vegetables on high for 5 to 7 minutes.
~ Dry roasts everything under coconut masala and keep aside to cool.
~ Using a blender or food processor, make a paste of everything under list of Green masala. Take it out in a bowl and set aside.
~ Now grind all the dry roasted ingredients, make a fine paste using little water. Take the paste out and keep it aside.
~ Clean the grinder with some water and set it aside to cook vegetables later.

The Making
~ In a heavy bottomed vessel, heat some oil and add bay leaves.
~ Add Onions and fry till translucent.
~ Add in the green masala paste and fry till the raw smell is gone.
~ Drain the water from potatoes and add it in the pan. Fry for a minute and add the coconut masala paste. Mix thoroughly and cover the pan. Cook until potatoes are little over half done.
~ Now add the microwaved vegetables and water from cleaning the grinder. [If you are using fresh vegetables, it’s better to half cook the vegetables separately and add it at this point]
~ Mix all the ingredients gently and add salt to taste.
~ After cooking for about 5 minutes, add coconut milk, reduce the heat to medium, cover and continue to cook until all the vegetables are done.
~ Serve it hot with puri/ chapati’s.

Sending this to Radhika's Let's Cook - Mughlai Cuisine event, Pari's event hosted by Janaki called Only Curries , Kavi's HCC - Lunch event,and Sreelu's Thanksgiving Recipes

Thursday, November 24, 2011

French beans with Mushroom

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Beans is one of the main sides that is served during thanksgiving. But I am making my beans special with mushrooms. This is a variation to my previous preparation of French beans with Artichoke. Mushroom and beans combination turned out to be great and very different in taste. Whenever I have prepared this it was instant hit. Espcially for the fact that the green beans have their color intact. This what I am taking for thanksgiving potluck at our friend's place today. So enjoy the holiday, count your blessings and show your gratitude to your loved ones. :o)

Serves: 6 | Prep Time: 5 min. | Cooking Time: 15 min.

  • French beans     – 1 Lb. (About 2 ½ cups)
  • Mushrooms  – 3 Lb. (About 4 cups when chopped)
  • Onion               – 1 medium (About 1 cup. Finely chopped)
  • Garlic               – 1 tbsp. (Finely chopped)
  • Cumin seeds     – ½ tsp.
  • Olive Oil           – 2 tsp.
  • Salt                 – to taste
For Sauce -
  • Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce – 1 tbsp. (or more if you like it hot :o))
  • Lime juice    - 1 tbsp.
  • Besan/ Chick Peas flour – 2 tbsp.
  • Tomato Paste (1 tbsp.)/ Tomato Ketchup – 2 tbsp.
Method of Preparation:
Prepare Beans -
~ Heat a pot of water with salt to bring it to boil (around 4 cups).
~ Wash and trim the ends of beans. Cut them two inch long.
~ Put them in the boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes on high. (Until the raw smell of the beans goes away and little froth starts around the beans and settle in 2 minutes.) Do not overcook and make the beans soggy.
~ Drain the water and immediately rinse the beans with a cup of cold water. Keep it aside.

Prepare Mushroom
~ Wipe and clean mushroom with a wet paper towel. (You can wash, but be sure to dry them well; they soak quite a bit of water when washed)
~ Discard the hard stem part and chop mushrooms in chunks.
~ Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and garlic.
~ Once they splutter, add Onion and fry until translucent.
~ Increase the heat and add mushrooms. Fry for few minutes on high, (about 5 min.) reduce the heat and cook mushroom till half done.
~ In a small bowl add everything that’s under sauce, and mix to make a paste. If required add very little water.
~ Make space in the middle of the pan between the mushrooms and add the sauce that you prepared in above step. Cook the sauce while constantly stirring.
~ Mix it all up with mushrooms.
~ Once cooked mushrooms reduce in size, so now add the salt and switch off the heat.

Putting it all together
In a serving dish, place beans at the bottom. Pour hot mushroom gravy on top. Cover tightly with a lid or foil and leave it for atleast 15 minutes or until ready to serve. Mix it up and serve it warm.

Sending this to Radhika's winter carnival event and Sreelu's Thanksgiving Recipes

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tomato Basil Sauce for Ravioli

Several days back I had bought these spinach ravioli’s from Sam’s and instead of just topping them with parmesan I thought tomato sauce would be good. I started looking online and found my inspiration here. I have tried it few times with variation and below recipe is the best of the lot. With Jalapeno’s kick it turns out really delicious.

Serves: 5 | Prep Time: 5 min. | Cooking Time: 15 min.


  • Tomatoes – 3 large (I mostly use green tomatoes if available)
  • Onion – Small (About ½ cup - Finely chopped)
  • Garlic – 4 Cloves (minced)
  • Canned Tomatoes with Jalapeno  – 1 can (I use Ro*tel brand Hot ones)
  • Butter - 2 tbsp.
  • Parmesan cheese – 4 tbsp.
  • Basil – 2 tsp. (I use dry flakes, but if you have fresh, YUMMY)
  • Oregano – ½ tsp.
  • Olive Oil – 1 tsp.
  • Salt - to taste
  • Pepper – ½ tsp. (Add if NOT using Jalapenos. I didn’t use any.)
  • Parmesan cheese - to garnish

Method of Preparation:
~ Clean and cut chunks of tomatoes. Place them in a microwave safe bowl and microwave high for 5 minutes.
~ Meanwhile heat oil in a pan and add onions. Sauté them until translucent.
~ Add garlic, canned tomatoes and fry for another minute and take it out from heat.
~ Blend this onion with cooked tomatoes to make a smooth paste.
~ In the same pan that you sautéed onions, add butter and ground paste and bring it to boil.
~ Add basil, oregano and salt. Simmer for another 3 minutes.
~ Switch off the heat and add parmesan cheese and give it a nice stir.

To serve it   

~ Cook ravioli according to the instructions, in boiled water.
~ Drain the water, place them in serving dish and top it with sauce.
~ Alternatively, keep them separately, like I usually do, so you can choose how much sauce you want on the ravioli.

 Sending this to Anu's LGSS- Tomato event started by Vatsala, Kalyani's 100-day Global food festival

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Malabar Fish Curry

My friends at blog hopping must be wondering about my second blog hop post for today.! Am sure Radhika is smiling reading through this. Hope it’s a pleasant surprise to her. :o). The story is that I was scheduled to hop to Shireen’s blog this week. But due to lot of enquiries Radhika who hosts the blog hopping, decided to make tweak to the schedule and I got assigned Rinku’s kitchen. Problem was I had already prepared my bloghopping for this week and didn’t wanted my whole post and clicks go waste. So I requested Radhika to excuse me from changing my schedule. She being so understanding agreed to it, but I did promise her that if I get time, I would try Rinku’s blog too. After all I have blog hopped her before and would have loved to give some more try.

And time did I get over the weekend. Since I was getting ready to prepare fish curry, I remembered seeing this recent post of Nandan Meen curry on Rinku’s blog. The content and the outcome were so very close to what we make at home. I did little tweaks here and there. For original recipe visit Rinku and her wonderful blog. I have almost started to think konkan and kerala dishes are very similar. So here I present to you my second blog hopping for the day, Malabar fish curry.

Serves: 4 | Prep. Time: 10 min. | Cooking Time: 15 min.

  • For masala -
    • Coconut – Grated 2 cups
    • Chili powder - 1 tbsp.
    • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp.
    • Cumin/ Jeera powder - 1/2 tsp.
    • Tamarind extract - 1/2 tsp.
    • Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  • Tilapia fish fillets – 4
  • Green Chili - 3 slit
  • Ginger - 1 tbsp. (minced)
  • Onion - small (minced fine)
  • Curry / Kadipatta leaves - 1 spring
  • Garam masala powder - 1tsp.
  • Water as required
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil - 1 tbsp. 
Clockwise from top - Garam masala, coconut paste, salt, oil, curry leaves, ginger, chili (from my Garden!), onion

Method of Preparation:
~ Wash and clean fish fillets. Cut them to required size and keep it aside to drain out the excess water.
~ Grind everything listed under masala to a fine paste. (Coconut and tamarind with turmeric, chili powder, cumin and coriander powder).


~ Heat oil in a pan, add curry leaves.
~ After few seconds add, green chilies, onion and ginger. Fry till onions turn translucent.
~ Add coconut paste and add required amount of water and salt. Bring it to boil.
~ Now add fish fillets gently in and cook until it boils again; in about 4 to 5 minutes. Check to make sure all the fillets are done (They would turn white)
~ Serve this yummy dish hot with some rice.

Check out my previous blog hop entries

This is off to Radhika’s blog hop event.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Afghani Chicken Pulao - Qubuli Uzbaki

Here we have some nice restaurant’s closer to the downtown area. Since it’s pretty far, we would hardly go try any. One day after a zoo visit, we thought we will visit one of the Thai restaurant’s that some of our friends rave about. But we couldn’t figure out where it was (later found out it was just two blocks down), and being very hungry we entered this very traditionally decorated restaurant, which looked like a middle-eastern. It was Sameem, an Afghani restaurant. The food over there was amazing. Very flavorful and but not too heavy. We still thoroughly enjoy our rare visits there, though they have very limited menu.

So why am I talking about this restaurant? Well, today is blog hopping day and I have been assigned Shireen's Ruchik Randhap. When I saw the schedule itself I was nervous, coz of my dilemma. Out of so many beautiful dishes on her blog, I started listing the dishes I would love to try. It became quite big, and was sitting and wondering when my DH came to my rescue. I showed him the list and asked him what he would like to eat. After he narrowing down to biryani/ pulao, I chose her Qubuli Uzbaki - Afghan style Pulao. The outcome was just delicious. It was very light and almost authentic as what we ate at Afghan restaurant. I say almost, coz I did make variation to add more spices. J. So go on, try this one and you won’t regret your choice of meal for the day.

Serves: 5 | Prep Time: 30 min | Cooking Time: 40 min

Basmati Rice – 1 ½ cups
Chicken - 1 KG. (little over 2 LBs) 
Onion - One large - sliced lengthwise
Chili powder - 2 tsp.
Turmeric powder - 2 pinch
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp.
Garam masala - 1 tsp.
Peppercorns - 10
Saffron - 1 pinch
Milk - 1/4 cup
Baby carrots - 15 - Cut julienne (size of a matchstick)
Raisins - handful
Pistachio - handful 
Almonds - handful
Salt to taste
Olive Oil - 4 tbsp
Water – About 3 cups

Method of Preparation:

Prepping -
~ Cut and clean the chicken. Wash thoroughly; set it aside to drain the excess water.
~ Soak saffron strands in milk and set aside.
~ Wash rice thoroughly once. Soak it for 10 min. Drain and set aside.
~ Cut Onions and Carrots and keep aside.

Getting to serious business -
~ In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 tbsp. of oil.
~ Add onion and fry them till translucent.
~ Add ginger, garlic and fry until the raw smell goes away.
~ Add Turmeric, Chili and Garam masala powders. Mix them thoroughly and add peppercorns.
~ Add chicken, salt to taste and fry on high for 5 minutes.
~ Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 cup of water, cover the pan and cook till chicken is done. It took me about 10 min.
~ Switch off the heat, take out the chicken and set aside. Reserve the stock.
~ In the same pan, heat remaining oil and fry raisins until plump. Take it out and set aside. Same way fry Pistachios and almonds for few minutes and set aside.
~ Add julienne carrots and fry for 2 minutes and spread them at the bottom of the pot. (Idea is to avoid burning the rice!)
~ Now start layering on top. Put half of the rice, pistachio & almonds, chicken, remaining rice and finally raisins.

Ain't this layer BEAUTIFUL!!!
 ~ Top with saffron milk, chicken stock. You will have to add another 2 cups of water. The level of the water should be just 1/2 inch above the rice layering.
~ Bring water to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer/ low (about 2 or 3 on electric stove), Cover with a foil and close the lid tightly on top, so the steam doesn't escape.
~ Leave it on the heat for about 15 min.
~ Switch off the heat and leave it for another 5 minutes.
~ Once open check if all the water has soaked in, if not, keep it for another 5 minutes. Mine was done properly by this time.
~ Enjoy this delightful dish with a cool raita on the side.


Check out my previous blog hop entries
This is off to Radhika’s blog hop event.

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