Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ga Ga for Gobi (Aloo Gobi That Is)

My hubby returned from a weeklong trip to Houston last Friday. After five days of Texas BBQ and chicken ‘n’ waffles, I figured there was nothing he’d be wanting than a home cooked motha-land-inspired meal. I slaved over the stove and made a delicious pot of beef vindaloo (recipe coming soon!) with some brown rice and a side of aloo gobi.

Aloo gobi is one of the most classic Indian dishes around. It’s the perfect hearty and healthy side to just about any Indian meal. I adapted this recipe from the Food Network’s Aarti Sequeira (my new fave Indian chef!) and it was a total hit. Hubby said if he’d be coming home to meals like this, he’d travel for work every week . . .

What You Need:
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (can be bought at the store or made by blending equal parts garlic and ginger in a food processor with a drizzle of vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup water, divided
1 jalapeno pepper, cut in half length-wise (optional; 1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder can alternatively be used)
1-teaspoon cumin seeds or ground cumin
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large potato, peeled and diced into inch cubes similar in size to cauliflower
1/2-bunch minced cilantro to garnish
Salt, pepper, and lemon wedges
Oil for sauteing (about 1–2 tablespoons)

What to Do:
Combine the ginger-garlic paste and ground coriander with 1/2 cup of water and set aside. Drizzle oil in a warmed skillet over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add the pepper and then the cumin seeds. Saute for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the ginger-garlic mixture and stir for about two minutes. Add cauliflower and potatoes, coat veggies with masala. Season with salt and pepper and add remaining water. Cover covered over medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove lid and cook another five minutes until potatoes are soft. Garnish with cilantro and a spritz of fresh lemon and serve hot.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pretty and Perfect Portobello Fries

My fry-ophile obsession continued this evening with homemade Portobello mushroom fries inspired from a recent brunch at Bottega Louie in Los Angeles. (Even though SF is the best city in the state, this place is worth a visit if you ever find yourself lost and hungry in Lala land.) 

I found this dee-lish recipe on A Cozy Kitchen and used it for inspiration for my very own oven-baked mushroom magic. (Even though they are doused in breadcrumbs, they’re still pretty darn healthy.) Between hubby and myself, we just finished the entire plateful and are scrumptiously filled to the brim.

What You Need:
1/2-cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
Pinch of red chili powder
Pinch of oregano
Salt and Pepper
3 Portobello mushrooms
2 large eggs (whites work fine too) beaten

Mint Yogurt Dip:
2 teaspoons olive oil
Fist-full of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped cup packed basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, super-finely diced
Salt and pepper
1/2-cup Greek yogurt

What to Do:
Slice mushrooms into 1/2-inch thick slices. On a large plate, mix together breadcrumbs, cheese, and spices. In a bowl, whisk together eggs. Dip mushroom slices in eggs and then breadcrumbs. Place on a wax paper-lined and Pam-sprayed baking sheet. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12 minutes; flip once.

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. Serve fries warm with a bit of salt and dash of lemon to finish.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fiery and Fabulous Parsnip Masala Fries

When it comes to foods I can’t resist, French fries top my list. I’d choose fries over ice cream, Girl Scout Cookies, krispy kreme donuts—basically pretty much everything. While this is excellent news for my taste buds, it’s not as jovial for my waistline. You can imagine the immense joy I felt when I discovered an Indian-inspired recipe for parsnip fries courtesy of Aarti Party on the Food Network. (Woo hoo!)

Parsnips are the albino cousin of carrots. They’re naturally buttery, a bit sweet and taste slightly of cardamom and honey when cooked. Parsnips are packed with fiber, potassium, and vitamins. These babies have half the calories of potatoes too, making them the perfect healthy addition to my fry-ophile lifestyle.

(Note: I modified it slightly from Aarti, her’s were a bit too spicy and could do with a bit less oil and more salt.)

What You Need:
4 large parsnips
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

What to Do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Peel parsnips and cut ’em into fries. Toss olive oil and spices in a large bowl. Add in parsnips and toss to evenly coat. Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet evenly spaced in a single layer. Roast for 40 minutes, tossing once at the halfway point.

Serve warm with light sour cream or ketchup as a dipping sauce.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Breakfast of Champs: Bananas for Banana Fritters

I'm b-a-n-a-n-a-s for bananas. Gwen Stefani- and Rachel Zoe-style bananas. My mom, on the other hand detests bananas. She hates them so much that she made me peel my own as soon as I had enough dexterity in my 'lil fingers. With that being said, it's pretty ironic that this ye olde recipe for banana fritters comes from my mama. They are the perfect Sunday morning breakfast and a great way to salvage those bananas rotting in your fruit bowl.

What You Need:

2 bananas, the riper and rottener the better
2 eggs
1/2-cup milk
3/4-cup flour or whole wheat baking mix (I used Arrowhead Multigrain Pancake and Waffle Mix.)

What to Do:

Mash bananas with a fork in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed. Heat pan on medium heat with butter (or Pam if you're on the healthy train). Pour a 4-6 inch sized fritter onto hot frying pan and let 'er go. Cook 3 minutes each side. Serve warm and crispy.

Yum. So wishing it was breakfast not dinner time right about now ...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Epic Eats: Ad Hoc in Yountville

I'm a firm believer that there's nothing a night of good food, good drinks, and good company can't cure. (We had one of those nights last night at Garcon on Mission and 22nd. In a word, ah-maze-balls … a must try.) To celebrate the one-year anniversary of our Bombay wedding, hubby and I dined at Ad Hoc in Yountville. Put simply, Ad Hoc is the poor man's version of French Laundry. (At $52/ahead, that's one rich poor man.)

It was one of those rare dining experiences when every little detail was perfect. It wasn't fancy—no white gloves, no snobbery. The waiters wore converse and jeans and didn't laugh when I asked them what exactly a "sweet bread" was. (F.Y.I. It's thymus gland, an epicurean treasure that tastes kinda like chicken.)

Here's what we ate:
Butter Lettuce Salad with Bacon, Olives, and Blue Cheese
Beef Prime Rib with Buttermilk Onion Rings and Crispy Potatoes
Fried Sweetbreads with Egg
Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

There was some crispy asparagus, a cheese course, and of course a wine pairing. (I used to think wine pairings were for snobby, pretentious mo-fos, but they're actually quite transcending if done right.)

It was a meal that made me feel so happy and so fulfilled that I just had to share the experience. If you're ever in Yountville, and don't have $800 to spend at French Laundry, try Ad Hoc for a night you'll never, ever forget.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kra ... Kra ... Krazy for Kale Chips

I decided to go vegan this week. It's been surprisingly easy and I can already feel my pants getting looser. (Woo hoo!) While I this won't be a permanent thing, I'm def gonna try to limit my meat intake in the future. The best part of going meatless is discovering the immense variety of non-meat stuff that's out there. Kale! Swiss Chard! Tempeh! Yum. One thing I crave when I'm on the healthy train is a bite of something crispy and crunchy. I found this recipe for kale chips and it totally satisfies that craving. Enjoy!

1 bunch kale
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoons olive oil

(Optional: Red chili powder and cumin powder.)

Pre-heat oven to 350°F Rinse and thoroughly dry kale. Pull leaves from stem and tear into bite-sized pieces. Toss kale, salt, olive oil, and optional spices in a bowl. Place on cookie tray (be sure they are evenly spaced and not overlapping). Cook for 20 minutes until crisp. You'll know when they're ready when they turn a dark green and the sides turn up.

Who needs movie popcorn and Cool Ranch Doritos when you got kale chips? (Let's be honest, everyone. But these make a great, delicious, crispy 'n' salty substitute.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chai Time

It's been a rainy week in San Francisco and I've been hiding in my apartment sipping copious cups of tea trying to stay dry. In almost every Indian home, when the clock strikes four, the kettle goes on and life stops. If you're lucky, chai time comes with snacks. If you're really lucky, it comes with samosas. (I've been dying to try this recipe from Arthi Party for chicken and mango samosas.)

A classic cup of Indian chai is made from black tea (my favorites are Lipton Yellow Label or Taj Mahal), milk, and sugar. Masala chai (a version of which you get at a coffee shop whose name rhymes with Shmarshucks) includes a mixture of spices, mint, lemon grass, and ginger.

For the name-cards at our wedding, I made individual packs of tea bags and spices for each guest. I attached a note that read:

Tea for Two

There are few things better then chatting with somebody special over a cup of chai. We fell in love sitting on Danoosh’s balcony in Houston sipping cups of tea (or whiskey, vodka, or wine depending on the day).

6 whole cloves 

4 cardamom pods 

2 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces 

2 cups water 

1/4 cup milk 

1 tablespoons granulated sugar 

Crush the cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon. Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan, add water bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for five minutes. Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and drop in the tea bags. Cover and let steep for three minutes. Stir the chai, strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups. Spice it up with mint, lemon grass, black peppercorns, or ginger. 

It's 4:12 pm. Chai time!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baked Butternut Squash, Bollywood Style

Since I'm attempting to be on the healthy train (it's true, marriage does make you a chubber), I've been having fun experimenting with different veggies. (My attempt at kale chips coming soon.) I'm madly in love with butternut squash. It's buttery yet hearty and sweet yet savory. I recently tried a recipe for butternut fries from, deeelish! I used that recipe as inspiration for this spiced-up Indian version. The results were addicting and amazing. 

What You Need:

One butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon red chili powder

What to Do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove peel and cut butternut squash into bite sized pieces. (If you're not comfortable cutting one, take a peek at this article for a quick how-to guide.) Toss squash in bowl with olive oil, salt, cumin, and chili powder. Spread squash on cookie sheet and cook for around 30 minutes, tossing once.

It's an exercise in simplicity, health and deliciousness. YUM!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Doin' It on a Banana Leaf

I just returned from a three-week trip to India and Singapore. During the first week of my trip, I ate on a banana leaf three times in three different cities. The first time (pictured here) was for Christmas brunch in Singapore with my best friend Rikki and her boyfriend Rav. We ate at Samy’s Curry House, a South Indian Singaporean institution. Despite our hangovers (Christmas Eve in Asia is similar to New Years Eve in the rest of the world. You drink all night and countdown to Santa’s arrival) we devoured delicious chicken curry, fried cauliflower, crispy chicken, tender lamb … you name it.

The second banana leaf incident occurred at a friend’s wedding in Bangalore. It was a traditional South Indian wedding. We ate on a banana leaf in typical South Indian style ... with our hands. The food was to die for. Completely vegetarian and utterly delicious. We were served over twenty items and I tried every single one of them. Hubs and I aren’t used to eating with our hands, so it was a bit of a situation. I used my noodle and substituted the papad and uttapam as utensils. The hubby didn’t take to the whole no-fork thing as easily and after an awkward incident with some yogurt a server ended up throwing a spoon at him.

The third banana leaf sighting was at the Parsi wedding of our very good friends Shenaya and Pirzad. They had a beautiful New Years Eve nuptial celebration at the same place we wed nearly one year prior. (This spot, called Colaba Agyari, is THE spot for Parsi parties in Bombay, FYI.) Their banana leaf dinner, called a patra or lagan nu bhonu, included like sarya (crisps), achaar/rotli (pickle and rotis), patra ni macchi (steamed fish), salli margi (chicken with potato crisps), lagan nu custard, and pulao-dal (rice and lentils).

All these banana leaves got me thinking … why don’t we ever eat on banana leaves stateside? Word on the street is that banana leaves add to the flavor of the food. While I’m not sure about all that, it definitely adds to the funness of the meal. I’m considering opening a San Francisco spot that forgoes plates ...