Blackbean soup

blackbean_soup2

I am a pretty lazy cook in general, but come winter and the equation changes completely. I am always looking for reasons to cook and bake. I give the stove so much of love and attention during these three months that I am sure it doesn’t mind the negligence for the rest of the year. The reason is that its biting cold here now and the stove is almost like a fireplace.

So now onward, anytime is tea time.

But the past ten days, the oven’s been extremely busy, but the stove top been inactive. Its been like the stove has been given a good Christmas break. And the times when the stove’s been active, its been dishing out simple soups and sandwiches. Like this one here – A filling, healthy and an easy to put together soup.

Can we ask for anything simpler when there are so many cakes to bake?

Read on for the recipe and the pictorial.

blackbean_soup1 

Pictorial:

IMG_6936 

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan and saute one chopped onion and three minced garlic cloves.

IMG_6937

Once the onions turn pink, add one diced capsicum/bell pepper. Saute for 2-3  minutes.

IMG_6938

Season with salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin. Add 3 diced tomatoes or one can of diced tomatoes.

IMG_6939

Reserve 1/4th of the cooked black beans and add the rest to the soup along with 3-4 cups of vegetable broth or water. If you prefer the soup to be thick, you can mash the reserved 1/4th beans and add it. Else add them as such.

IMG_6941

Let it come to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Take off the heat and serve with toasted bread.

BM Theme : Healthy/Diabetic friendly food

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons of oil
  • one onion, chopped
  • 3 pods garlic, finely chopped
  • one bell pepper, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced fine or one can of diced tomatoes
  • one can black beans or 1.5 cups of cooked black beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan and saute one chopped onion and three minced garlic cloves.
  2. Once the onions turn pink, add one diced capsicum/bell pepper.
  3. Saute for 2-3  minutes.Season with salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin.
  4. Add 3 diced tomatoes or one can of diced tomatoes.
  5. Reserve 1/4th of the cooked black beans and add the rest to the soup along with 3-4 cups of vegetable broth or water. If you prefer the soup to be thick, you can mash the reserved 1/4th beans and add it. Else add them as such.
  6. Let it come to a boil and taste and adjust the seasonings. Take off the heat and serve with toasted bread.

blackbean_soup3
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#60

12 Comments

Filed under Beverages, Soups and Salads

Minestrone soup

minestrone

Another year has begun and its time to start afresh and wipe off the unfinished resolutions from the past year. The good thing about my resolutions are that they are the same as last year…and the year before that. Oh well, its been the same for the past 4 years!

Regular blogging, concentrate more on food photography and reduce weight to the doctor recommended number. And of course, it’s never been completed. Not even one of the three, not all these years.

Unfulfilled resolutions have become the tradition for me. Will I keep up the tradition  or will I really get something done this year? I don’t know. But I do know that I always start fresh in the new year. It’s the keeping it up later that’s the problem.

So here is the first post of the year, under the BM theme: Healthy/ Diabetic diet recipes. That checks off the regular blogging and the weight off the resolution list! Good start, would you not say?! :-)

minestrone1

Pictorial:

IMG_5916

Saute one chopped onion, one sliced carrot and one stick of sliced celery in two teaspoons of butter.

IMG_5917

Add a sliced zucchini and saute for a further 2-3 minutes.

IMG_5920

Add 2-3 diced tomatoes and about 6 cups of water or vegetable stock. Add cooked beans of your choice and/or cooked pasta, if using.

IMG_5925

Season per taste and let it boil for 4-5 minutes. Check seasonings and take off the heat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • one onion, chopped
  • one carrot, sliced
  • one stick celery, sliced
  • 2-3 tomatoes, diced
  • 6 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup cooked beans or pasta, optional
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Saute one chopped onion, one sliced carrot and one stick of sliced celery in two teaspoons of butter.Add a sliced zucchini and saute for a further 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add 2-3 diced tomatoes and about 6 cups of water or vegetable stock. Add cooked beans of your choice or cooked pasta, if using.
  3. Season per taste and let it boil for 4-5 minutes. Check seasonings and take off the heat. Serve with bread toast.

Note: There is no one way of preparing the soup and there are many versions with many ingredients. This one was prepared with what I had in my fridge.

minestrone2

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#60

12 Comments

Filed under Beverages, Soups and Salads

Bye bye 2015, Welcome 2016

snow

Sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult to pin down. As another year rolls pass by, I am finding it difficult to reflect on it. 365 days of happenings can hardly be fit into a small blog post.

As the year fades away slowly into the past, it brings out memories that hurt, some that bring joy and others that bring peace. Like a video tape stuck in a particular place, the mind just goes to those significant moments that defines the year for me.

spring

One of the major events was the Chennai floods which happened in December. It had me praying for so many people I knew and so many more I didn’t. Having spent many years in Velachery and OMR, a lot of people I care for were affected by the floods. It was a moment where man was nothing before Mother Nature.

But then, let’s not talk about Mother Nature.

summer

It’s about the New Year now. About new hopes. New resolutions. New dreams.

A whole new beginning.

It’s about letting go of the year past and moving forward. The circle of life will continue. Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter all over again..There is some comfort that pattern, it’s the way mom nature tells us that this too shall pass!

Happy New Year everyone!

fall1 2015

4 Comments

Filed under This, that and the other

Kosambari/ Kosumalli

kosambari1

Some of my staple recipes come from my sister-in-law. My regular pulao is her take on the dish. I still remember her pasta salad, which I used to make regularly for a long time.

Another recipe which comes out perfect from her kitchen is this – Kosumalli. This one doesn’t have many fans in my place, my raw food hating husband stays away from it, but my enthusiasm makes up for others lack of it. The softness of cucumber, the bite from the coconut, crunchiness of carrots and dal, the slightly tangy touch of lemon and the wonderful aroma of the seasoning….mmm…oh,YUM!

Try this simple recipe if you are a fan of crunchy, raw food. I know I am!

kosambari2

Recipe source: My Sister in law

Serves : 2 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Moong dal, soaked for 2-3 hours
  • 1/4 cup cucumbers, peeled and chopped very fine
  • 2 tablespoon carrots, grated or chopped very fine
  • 1 teaspoon coriander leaves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons coconut, grated
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil
  • salt, lemon juice as needed

Method:

  1. Wash and soak the moong dal for 2-3 hours at least.
  2. Once they are soaked enough and not tough inside, prepare the vegetables.
  3. Peel and chop the cucumber finely. Grate the carrot.
  4. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a pan and add one teaspoon mustard seeds and a sliced green chili to it. After the mustard seeds is done popping, add it to the moong dal.
  5. Now add the vegetables, moong dal with tadka, coriander leaves, grated coconut and salt & lemon juice for seasoning. Mix well so that everything combines evenly.
  6. Serve as a side dish to serve with rice.

kosambari3

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

10 Comments

Filed under Beverages, Soups and Salads

Everyday, everything salad

salad

My son tolerates pasta, dislikes dosa/chapati and hates rice! That list strikes out all the items I know to cook. But thankfully, he likes salads. And luckily, I know the easiest salad recipe in the world (in my world, at least!).

I got this recipe from a friend of mine. You can adapt it according to what you have in your fridge. I always have apples, tomatoes and cucumbers in fridge, so these are the key ingredients for me. If you have lettuce or salad greens, the salad gets even more interesting. The quantity and the proportion is all left to your taste and what’s available in your refrigerator.

If you add some cooked beans (red kidney, chick pea or black beans), then you can graduate the salad into a meal. And that’s what I usually do.

For seasoning, a little mayonnaise mixed with 2 teaspoons of yogurt is what my friend recommends. After coming to US, I have started stocking up of various salad seasonings. I use any of those for convenience. Add salt and pepper and that’s it. Your meal is ready.

The recipe below is just a guide line as to what can go into the salad. These are my preferences and I have used these in many combinations according to what’s there on the fridge.

salad2

BM Theme : Salads

Recipe source: My friend Swapna 

Ingredients:

Choice of Fruit – 1 cup altogether ; pick one at least

  • apple
  • grapes
  • pomegranate
  • pear
  • orange
  • plum
  • strawberries or blueberries
  • NO mangoes, NO bananas

Choice of vegetable – (pick 2 at least) 1 cup altogether

  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • capsicum
  • lettuce or salad greens
  • corn
  • cauliflower (steamed or microwaved)
  • avocado
  • NO carrot, NO cabbage

Choice of protein -pick 1 (optional) 

  • 1/2 cup cooked beans – any variety (chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans etc), canned is fine
  • 1 boiled egg, cut into small pieces
  • handful of cheese like feta
  • handful of sprouts (steamed)

Choice of dry fruits/nuts – pick 1 handful, Optional 

  • toasted peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, cashew nuts or almonds
  • raisins, cranberries, apricot

Choice of dressing – pick one and season with salt and pepper

  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise mixed with 1 teaspoon yogurt
  • honey mustard and mayonnaise
  • any ready made salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Method: 

  1. Choose at least 1 fruit and 2 vegetables and cut them into small pieces.
  2. Pick a protein to make it a meal.
  3. Add a handful of toasted nuts or dry fruits. Optional.
  4. Make your dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the salad, toss well and serve.
  5. My regular salad would have an apple, handful of grapes, 2 tomatoes, 1/2 medium cucumber and 1/3 cup of thawed corn. I go on and add a boiled egg or 1/2 cup of canned beans if its a meal. I add pistachios or cashews or raisins (my pantry staples) when in mood. I like the combination of mayonnaise and honey mustard for dressing. Another favorite is mayo+yogurt+ salt n pepper. This quantity is sufficient for one.

salad1

 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

8 Comments

Filed under Beverages, Soups and Salads

Tortellini Salad

salad1

My son’s resistance against food is growing everyday and meal times are war zones in our place. I still have the upper hand in everyday battles, but slowly I can sense defeat.

My tactics include diverting him and feeding him when he is really hungry – like right after he comes from school. But God knows how long I can keep that up. The minute he sees a bowl of rice, he starts howling. The problem is, with rice being the predominant grain in our cuisine, it would be a huge problem if he turns his back on it.

I have right now cut a deal with him – he has to have a typical Indian meal once a day and in return, lunch and dinner would be his choice. Funny thing is, it’s always been that way – just that he never realized it ;-). Good for me!

Salads are his choice for dinner many a days. I am happy because of the amount of vegetables I can feed him and he is happy that there is no rice in the plate. A perfect win-win situation!

Read on for this recipe.

salad2

BM theme : Salads

recipe adapted from all recipes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet tortellini ( or 2 cups cooked pasta of your choice)
  • 1 cup sliced olives
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

salad dressing*:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning ( I didn’t have any, so skipped it)
  • salt and pepper

* Alternative dressing would be 2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixed with any other salad dressing and seasoned with salt and pepper

Method:

  1. For the dressing, mix everything listed and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta or tortellini per the package instructions.
  3. Slice the olives and artichoke hearts and halve the cherry tomatoes.
  4. Drain the pasta and let it cool. Once cool mix everything and add the dressing.
  5. Check the seasonings and adjust per taste. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

salad3

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

9 Comments

Filed under Beverages, Soups and Salads

Chilli Gobi

gobi_chilli2

The tea time snacks I have been bringing to the blogging table started off with a healthy cucumber sandwich. Next was a shallow fried potato and broccoli patties and now I am here with the big bad deep fried chili gobi.. And yes, it was a success because I managed to make it without any incidents. No burns, no spills, no howls from the kitchen, so that’s a definite success for me!

Coming to the chili gobi here, there is it’s almost the same as gobi Manchurian. This is a little bit more on the spicier side and is not usually served as a gravy – but other than that I don’t see any difference between the two.

Winter has set its foot here in US and now clicking pictures needs a bit more of planning than before. I never thought I would see a day where I would check the weather before cooking for the blog!! These were taken at 5 PM and it was already getting dark. It made me realize that I need to plan better from now on wards.

Winter is here and lets all warm up to that…with some chilli gobi, to begin with :-)!

gobi_chilli

Recipe source: Yummy Tummy

Blogging Marathon theme: Tea time snacks

Ingredients:

For the cauliflower part:

  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
  • pinch turmeric powder
  • salt
  • water
  • oil to fry

For the batter to dip:

  • 1/2 cup maida/ all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • water to make the batter

For the sauce:

  • 1 medium onion or 4 spring onions
  • 1 small green capsicum, diced
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2-3 green chillies, sliced into half (optional 0r adjust per taste)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • salt
  • oil

Method:

  1.  Prepare the cauliflower : Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt as needed and a pinch of cauliflower. Add the cauliflower florets and let it boil for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and drain the water off.
  2. In a wide bowl, add 1/2 cup maida, 1/2 cup corn flour, 1 teaspoon chili powder, salt as needed. Add enough water to form a batter of cake batter or dosa batter consistency. When we dip the cauliflower in the batter, it should coat it and not drain off completely.
  3. Heat oil for deep frying. Dip the cauliflower in the prepared batter and deep fry. Once all the florets are fried, set it aside.
  4. Remove all but one tablespoon of oil from the pan. We are going to prepare the sauce for the florets.
  5. Add one medium chopped onion and 2 sliced green chilies and let it cook. Add 2 teaspoons of ginger garlic paste and saute until the raw smell goes off. Add one tablespoon of soya sauce and one tablespoon of tomato ketchup.
  6. Tip in one finely diced capsicum. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon (or per taste) chili powder and required amount of salt.
  7. Let everything cook together for 3-4 minutes. Taste test and adjust seasonings.
  8. Add the fried cauliflower florets and mix gently without breaking it. Take off the heat.
  9. Garnish with spring onions and serve as an appetizer of a tea time snack.

gobi_chilli1

9 Comments

Filed under Any Time Foods

Potato broccoli patties

broccoli patties

Tea times are far more interesting when there is something to nibble on. The unhealthier the nibble is, the happier I am :D! It doesn’t mean that the healthy ones don’t satisfy the craving, but the deep fried ones hit the taste buds faster.

Here is something that isn’t quite healthy as a sandwich, but something that isn’t dripping in oil as well. These patties make their way into my son’s snack box frequently. Its a great make ahead dish. You can make and even shape the patties and refrigerate until the time to prepare.

I have been trying to take pictures with darker backgrounds and this was one of the first successful attempts. There is a picture of the setting below in case you are interested in checking it out. All you need is some black cloth, a salwar top in this case, and you have your dark background! I didn’t try to diffuse the light, that’s for the next trial.

Read on for the recipe.

broccoli patties4

Pictorial:

Pressure cook 2 medium potatoes and 1 cup broccoli together for 2 whistles. Once its cooked, drain the water completely.

IMG_4710

Dip one bread slice in a plateful of water. Take out immediately and squeeze out excess water.  Add this bread piece (or 1/4 cup bread crumbs) and 1/4 cup of thawed spinach or methi with salt and pepper as needed to the potatoes and broccoli.

IMG_4712

Mash everything well together until no lumps remain. Check the seasonings and adjust if needed.

IMG_4714

Make patties and keep it ready.

IMG_4713

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a shallow pan.

IMG_4715

Add the patties. Let it cook and become golden brown on the bottom.

IMG_4718

Flip over and cook the other side.

IMG_4720

Take off the heat and place on a paper napkin.

Recipe adapted from Always Hungry

Makes about 10-12 medium patties

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • one slice bread
  • 1/4 cup spinach or methi
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Method:

  1. Pressure cook 2 medium potatoes and 1 cup broccoli together for 2 whistles. Once its cooked, drain the water completely.
  2. Dip one bread slice in a plateful of water. Take out immediately and squeeze out excess water.
  3. Add this bread piece (or 1/4 cup bread crumbs) and 1/4 cup of thawed spinach or methi with salt and pepper as needed to the potatoes and broccoli.Mash everything well together until no lumps remain. Check the seasonings and adjust if needed.
  4. Make patties and keep it ready. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a shallow pan.
  5. Add the patties. Let it cook and become golden brown on the bottom. Flip over and cook the other side.
  6. Take off the heat and place on a paper napkin. Serve with ketchup.

IMG_4830

The set up for the photo shoot. Black cloth is the background and a brownish black table on the front.

broccoli patties2

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

8 Comments

Filed under Any Time Foods

Cucumber sandwiches

cucumber sandwich.jpg

When we were kids, the concept of tea time was heavy tiffin like ada dosa, idli or upma. Because that’s the time you come back from school and you will be hungry enough to eat horse even! But as we grew up, the weekend tea time grew into a more elegant, enjoyable and lighter treat time. It was initially just biscuits and then slowly graduated to hot vadas, pakodas and stuff. Well, the treat lasted as long as some one else was in charge of the kitchen. My definition of tea time specials are ready-made snacks :D.

Anyway, I am trying to get back in shape blogging wise – so I thought its a good idea for me to start blogging 3 times a week. And the choice of theme for the second week is tea time snacks.

Most of the snacks that pair well with a cup of tea are deep-fried. I bear enough burn marks in my hands to be banned near hot oil. If I am really being honest, I may be a little apprehensive about it, but mostly I am too lazy to deep fry.But the story to the public (OK, just to my man) is that I am scared of oil and I stick to it ;-).

An easy tea time snack is a simple sandwich.  You would be surprised to know that these humble cucumber sandwiches are a popular tea time favorite! Read on for the ..erm…recipe (well, if you can call it that!)

cucumber sandwich1

Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 8 bread slices, crusts removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream cheese per sandwich (or more per taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mayo per sandwich (or more per taste)
  • 4 thinly sliced cucumber pieces per sandwich
  • salt and pepper

*Instead of cream cheese and mayo, you can use butter

Method:

  1. Cut off the crusts of the bread. Slice cucumber into very thin slices.
  2. Spread cream cheese on one slice and mayonnaise on  another.
  3. Layer 4 cucumber slices on one slice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover with the other slice of bread. Cut it into half and serve with tea.
  5. Make more sandwiches with the rest of the bread.

cucumber sandwich3

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

8 Comments

Filed under Any Time Foods, Break Fast Recipes

Tamil Nadu meals

thali2

A balanced meal should have grains, vegetables, fruits and protein worked into it. A typical South Indian Tamil Nadu meals consist of rice, served with a lentil based gravy like sambar with vegetables on the side. Yogurt is an essential part of the meal. A banana after the meal is not at all unusual. So, without knowing the definition of a balanced meal, our ancestors have provided us the same!

In olden days, families were much larger in number and there weren’t any appliances to make life easy.  A simple meal presented in a plate had a lot of effort behind it. This explains the bigger meals as appetite is worked up because of a labor intensive lifestyle.

The meals were three course. Rice is the staple food and star of the meal. The first round is rice served with sambar. The second course is rice and rasam.  The third course is rice and yogurt with which you wind up the meal. For the first two courses, one or two simple vegetable preparations are on the side. Potatoes are treated like vegetables, but people are conscious of the use and don’t make it for everyday meals. It’s almost like a treat now a days. Fried papads or appalams are also served as a side.

In the picture here, I have gone back to the meals we grew up eating. It shows rice, sambar, rasam, cluster beans porial, potatoes, yogurt, pickle and appalam.

With smaller families now, the meal has simplified a lot. Most of the days, rice is served with sambar or some other gravy with a vegetable on side. Tamil Nadu is incredibly hot and so the rice and yogurt course, which helps in cooling the body, still continues. So, to this day, the meal has rice for carbs, lentils and yogurt (and meat, in case of non vegetarian meal) for proteins and vegetables and rounds up as a balanced meal.

potato_fry

If you are wondering why I am preaching about a balanced meal here, the thing is I wrote the above as an article for Travel Secrets Magazine. It was published in Oct 2015 edition and I thought its a good idea for me to note it down here as well :D.

thali

BM Theme: Dry vegetable side dishes

Potato fry recipe:

Serves : 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or per taste)
  • good pinch turmeric powder
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoon oil

Method:

  1. Cook the potatoes until its just done. Peel and let it cool completely.
  2. Dice into pieces and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Add salt, turmeric powder and chili powder to the oil. Mix it in.
  4. Wait for a few moments, until the chili powder starts to change color from red to brownish.
  5. Add the diced potatoes. Let it get coated with the spiced oil and cook on low – medium flame until its roasted and has a crispy coating.
  6. Carefully keep turning it in between so that all the sides are fried equally. Serve with rice and sambar.

thali1

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

11 Comments

Filed under Thali