Sep 14, 2017

Caprese and Chhole

Mixing up Italian and Indian is not something to be done lightly. I will stop with political humor there (Indian politics), but get to briefly describing what I made for a Labor day barbecue event hosted by a British friend of mine in the US.

A simple caprese salad appetizer,easy hand held food.

A simple to make,but complex flavored chickpea rice dish. (Chana masala + sauteed veggies + basmati rice)

Sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh leaf basil, Virgin olive oil drizzle.

Saute the veggies in a small amount of hot oil. Red chili powder, salt, cumin powder go well here.
Note: the general procedure for most "curries" involves roasting cumin seeds in hot oil, let crackle, then add chopped red onions, sauteing those for 2 mins on mediumheat, add garlice, ginger finely chopped pieces, saute for a min, then add veggies,saute for 2 mins,add tomatoes, sprinkle turmeric and red chili flakes - cook for a min or two, then add chickpeas.
Throw in drained chickpeas (I used a can).If you cook chickpeas fresh, then drain and add.
Mix in the already cooked rice. I used basmati rice, added a spoon of ghee for flavor.

Mix it up to coat the rice well and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves or provide them at table for garnishing on serving plate.

Aug 23, 2017

Tuesday dinner. Homemade veggie tacos based off a texmex delight I love from a restaurant at pennstate area. Black beans were lightly sauteed with roasted cumin seeds, minced garlic, rock salt,  black pepper, turmeric powder.

Loved it though as it took under 30mins.

Bean and potato tacos
Taco Tuesday Ingredients
Cheddar cheese mixed in with Mashed potatoes. Fresh pico de gallo (fine chopped items on wooden board with lemon juice and salt). Shortcuts galore: beans from can, instant mashed potatoes from powder, corn tortillas are store bought.
Cooked and seasoned black beans
Ingredients for fresh salsa (pico de gallo)

Beans, Mashed potatoes etc.

Jun 29, 2017

Quick Cuboidal lunches

Wait, what? What is a cuboidal lunch.

Well, it's really just lunch tha's packed into rectangular tupperware. But using geometric words make things sound cooler for engineers!

Home made Indian lunch, placed in rectangular box tupperware, makes it easy to carry in another rectangular shaped lunch bag. That's all it is folks.

Pic 1: Assembled cuboidal lunch
Now, let's get on with the plan.

What you need already prepped/cooked:
  1. Dal (lentil dish) - green mung+split chickpeas featured here. (Recipe for lentils).
  2. Rice.
  3. Vegetable curry or some side (Suggestion: cooked plantains
  4. Fruits (your favorite). e.g. Peeled oranges, berries, chopped melon/cantaloupe etc.
  5. 1/2 cup yoghurt - plain, whole & with live cultures. (optional, but highly recommended)
  6. Chopped cucumber (optional) and radishes (optional, in season) or baby carrots. They add color!

Image of ruler embedded into pic 2 is sourced from

Starchy Vegetables - Crispy Indian Style


General method for a south indian styled curry, especially when working with starchy vegetables like potato, plantain (green unripe banana, yams, beet root, sweet potato etc:

SafetyUse a splatter screen or a partially closed lid for preventing mustard from jumping out. Keep all things dry of water, hot oil and water drops do NOT mix.

Sweet potato curry

- (Add to hot oil at medium/high heat in this order left to right) --> Mustard seeds (let it sputter for 1-2 mins), coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chopped cashews (can substitute with peanuts or yellow split peas - mainly for texture).. All of these sputter and splatter, so a half closed lid or splatter screen is useful at this stage.

Reduce the heat a little then..

If I have curry leaves and hing (a pungent edible resin) I add them at this stage...once these were browned, I added chopped onions, let it brown or caramelize depending on taste preference. and after this..

 I add chopped ginger..(and garlic sometimes).. after couple minutes I add the sweet potatoes (or any other vegetable).. after this I sprinkle salt, turmeric and also a little bit of black pepper. Turmeric's bio-activity is best when consumed with some pepper/chili powder etc.

if you do not want it spicy SKIP the red chili powder but do use some black pepper.
if you want it spicy, add red chili powder after you add turmeric. You can also supplement with chopped green chili peppers (

lime, lemon, peeled ginger, turmeric roots

Cook to tenderness and it's ready to eat!

Similar method can be applied to most root/tube or starchy vegetables like carrot, jicama, beets, potatoes, green plantains etc.  This method it can also be used with turnip roots but cook it for lesser duration

Fresh curry leaves will be there at many Indian grocery stores. Their aroma is amazing when added to hot oil.

if you like crisp green plantain curry specifically.. check out this recipe that I posted on my blog a while ago..

plantain curry with roasted lentils for seasoning texture

This is a recipe adapted from a live demo I conducted for my friends at New River Gorge when I had participated in a plein air painting workshop. I apologize for any errors in the language. Please let me know in comments or on my facebook page, and I will strive to fix it soon!

Thank you for your thyme :) ! 

Mar 22, 2017

Free Spice Jar Pittsburgh

Free Russian Style Seasoning at Penzey's till Sunday March 26
This is relevant to people in the Pittsburgh area. Now, the post that I am sharing from an email I received from Penzey's spices is quite political in nature. But, it has important points about how food connects us all at a human level. Bonus, it is a jar of spice FREE - till March 26, 2017.

Below post, coupon and burger images all belong to Penzey's spices, No copyright violation is intended!

Penzeys Tsardust Memories FREE Offer
America Matters.
This week we saw it announced that a sitting US president's administration is being investigated by the Justice Department and the FBI for colluding with Russia to steal an election. Let that sink in.
And really, for this administration in terms of politics, the investigation for treason was probably considered a welcome distraction from the sheer inhumanity they openly endorsed in the last week that had caused them to drop so dramatically in the polls. It would seem Americans don't really want to see millions of families losing their health care, the earth's environment polluted for a thousand years to come, all funding for the arts being cut, and of course eliminating funds for meals for disadvantaged students and for elderly shut-ins because this administration can't see the value in the humanity of these meals. 
At Penzeys we believe the value in the humanity of cooking and sharing food with those around you is beyond measure, especially when it comes to those in need. The humanity cooks add to the world around them through their cooking sets better, brighter futures in motion. At Penzeys we also believe America matters. Much like the caring, empathy, and kindness of cooks create better futures for those around them, the caring, empathy, and kindness of America has long been creating better futures for all those that share this planet. 
Sitting home in America it can be easy to be jaded and focus only on our failures and missteps. But the Spice trade really has taken me to the far corners of the Earth, and given me the chance to see America through the world's eyes. What we have in our country is very special. In a world where outrageous corruption is for billions simply a fact of life, the idea that there is a country that more often than not defends the rights of all of the people, and not just the privileged, brings real hope. This hope is powerful. In many ways it's the desire to undermine this hope that drove Russian leadership to intercede in our election in favor of what is now the current administration. 
So, a sitting US president's administration is being investigated by the Justice Department and the FBI for colluding with Russia to steal an election? We have a blend for that. It’sTsardust Memories, and it's tasty. And through this Sunday, if you can get to one of our stores, it's flat-out free. Online it's free too, but on orders under $30 shipping and handling will apply. After Sunday, both in-store and online the $6.95 value Tsardust Memories is free with $5 purchase. Simply show this email in one of our stores or bring in the coupon above. Or visit us online at and enter 28552C into the apply code box when checking out. 
At this point, no one knows how all this will shake out, but wars, really bad wars, have been started over a lot less. A big part of why this week is the right week for Tsardust Memories, is that now is the time to remember the humanity of even our adversaries. Tsardust is an amazingly good blend. These are flavors that, as Americans we are familiar with, but how, over the decades and even centuries, Russian cooks evolved the way they brought these flavors together to please those they cook for really is something worthy of our attention and respect. The Russian people are not our enemies. This time, if the allegations prove true, the enemies of Democracy are very much our own.
Get your Tsardust Memories now, and when you've used up the Seasoning inside, figure out something cool to do with the jar. This investigation is history in the making. Make this jar your souvenir of that time when American History was not just words in books about our past, but was something we all had a front row seat to experience. Here's to these times not being too exciting. 
Best wishes,
Tsardust Cheeseburgers made with Penzeys Tsardust Memories

Tsardust Cheeseburgers

Everyone loves burgers—they are simple and quick to make, and our Tsardust Memories makes the flavor even better.
1 lb. ground beef
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 crusty rolls or soft hamburger buns
condiments of your choice

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