Extreme Nachos!!!

Super bowl is around the corner right? Actually, I am not a big fan of football . Also I don’t need a good reason or logic ¬†to have these loaded Nachos ūüôā

I call them loaded nachos or supreme nachos. Its loaded with veggies, beans, cheese and all the good stuff and is extremely flavorful and juicy.

 

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So, here is the recipe:

A bag of sturdy corn chips ( Tostitos and the like)

1 Large Bell pepper

1 Sweet onion

1 Cup of Black Beans

1 Cup of Sweet Corn

1 Jalapeno

Sweet pickles(  round slices of cucumber pickles)

1 Packet of Mexican Cheese Blend ( Cheddar, Monterey jack)

For Salsa:

2 Roma Tomatoes

1 Red Onion

1 Jalapeno

1 Lime

1 Cup of Finley Chopped Cilantro

Other Condiments:

Salt, Pepper, Sour Cream, Sriracha Sauce

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating prepare the chips.

Take a baking sheet. Lay the chips all across the sheet in a single layer. Spread the sliced onions, Bell pepper, sliced Jalapeno, sweet pickles, corn and black beans evenly on the chips. Next, cover the chips with generous amount of cheese.

Next, prepare the salsa. Finely dice the Roma tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Mix all in a bowl, sprinkle salt, freshly ground black pepper and squeeze a generous amount of lime juice.

When the oven is ready, place the baking sheet in the oven and wait for the cheese to ¬†melt evenly. When the cheese is all melted, remove the chips from the oven and place it on a rack to cool. Make sure you don’t burnt the cheese.

Next, spread the fresh salsa mixture evenly on top of the chips. Sprinkle a dash of salt and ground black pepper. Drizzle a spoonful of sour cream and Sriracha sauce. Squeeze lime juice on top and garnish with cilantro.

Serve it warm.

ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

No books this time

Often, these days I am finding myself reaching out to Google for help. I am finding my self typing keywords like parenting tips, rebellious child, bored child, how to deal with 9 year old girls etc.

 

It makes me very sad and nervous at the same time. Because I feel that my little girl, whom I think is still a baby, a kindergartner, has already reached that dreadful phase of pre-teens.

 

She is only 9. Yet, I feel she is going through a phase of emotional upheavals. I find her getting upset, angry, sad, moody and disinterested in her usual activities.

A zillion questions rushes into my head. Is she having school troubles? Is she having friend troubles? Is she not eating enough? Did I say something mean to her? Is this a developmental change? Is this hormonal? And the worst thought is she depressed?

 

I don’t feel like heading to the library and grab all the parenting books for help because I still believe it is just a passing phase. She has found out a new video game, which she is obsessed with. So she is on the computer all the time. And for that reason we have been having tug of war, ego wars, power struggles between us. (BTW, I have newly discovered these words and phrases while searching for parenting tips)

 

I am trying to discipline her with many strategies that I can think of. I admit I have not been very nice to her lately. I want her to learn responsibilities, understand the concept of time (5 minutes is not equal to an hour) eat on time, sleep on time, be nice to her sister, be nice to her parents and the list is long. So as you can see my expectations from her are quite a lot. While I am in this phase of teaching her things I feel she is going through a completely different phase where she does not want to listen to anything I say or ask her to do. Much worse she is talking back to me and pointing out at my so-called mistakes. She has been the opposite of everything I expect of her! At this point a doctor might help? No, I believe things have not gone that out of control.

 

So here I am Googling about parenting tips. And thankfully I found some help. Words which I want to hang on to and be consistent with them. Of course I am learning too. I want to be sane and act sane in front of my daughter. I don’t want to have the ego wars, power struggles with a child. I have come to terms with the fact that she growing. She is not a baby anymore. She is developing her individual personality and this growth and development phase of hers is going to affect me.

 

I love my daughter and I want her to feel loved. And hence the three words which I Vow to stick with from now on. They are Kind, Firm and Authoritative.

I am going to exercise kindness, express love and affection through words and action.

I am going to be firm with my decisions in setting boundaries and expectations and learn to communicate that to her in a kind and effective way.

I am going to be authoritative and make her realize what to expect from the family and vice versa.

 

This is the first step, which I am willing to take in helping my daughter grow into a beautiful, strong and a confident woman.

Madras on rainy days -Samina Ali

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Exhausting! Not in a bad way!

The book is in the voice of the protagonist. A young girl. The age which you only realize when you are at almost three-quarters of the book.

It is thick , heavily weaved and braided narrative where the protagonist almost drags you along through her journey from her engagement to her marriage. the chapters are named after each ceremony from the Mungni to the nikkah

There is this deep sense of sorrow in the voice that lugs all along and hence no matter how hard you try to take the book lightly , you cannot.

The narrator touches all topics in the course of this journey about Society, religion, emotional conflicts, the hypocrisies, the double standards,  gender discrimination and the political scene.

The two different worlds that the protagonist experiences one inside the chador and the one outside of it, the conflicting beliefs, the deep conflicting chaos that occurs within the soul of the narrator has been in-depth laid out there in a exhausting beautiful way by the author.

The women in the story are both powerful yet powerless. It is a weird state of mind which is almost insane like the author herself has portrayed the characters.

Despite this, the climax just gets you . I was all teary eyed. i felt deep sorrow for the young girl and by this time you are so entangled in the web that even the reader feels helpless.

And the ending leaves us with the question? why did she chose to stay?

And we know the answer.

The Apartment- By Danielle Steel

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Dear friends,

I am starting my first book review with The Apartment by Danielle Steel.

I had an hour of free time between dropping off and picking up my kids from an Thursday  night art class. So I headed to the library. I straight  ahead stood in front of the New Fiction section, browsed the rows of books from top left to bottom right and I stopped at this book.

I usually glance through the jacket  to get a summary of what the book is about.

Four independent women, friends living in NewYork City. That sold me the book. I flipped through the first couple of pages right there in a quiet corner of the library and then by the end of the hour I brought the book home.

The book is neither thumbs up nor thumbs down. It is pretty much about Life, As we know it. It is about friendship, love, heartbreak, family and in the end friends becoming family!

The story is set in NewYork city in the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen. I am aways excited about NYC, and the whimsical feeling that you get when hearing about the great city. So, I was expecting the author would take us deep into the city life in much great detail but I was disappointed. The story mostly focuses on the four women sharing a Loft in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen. The author ¬†dives right into the characters, their busy lives, their aspirations, dreams, commitments and how everything goes wrong and then yet everything will become alright.

My favorite character is Sasha, the OB/GYN. I could relate to her more easily than anyone else. I admired her character where she is beautiful, intelligent and is very sure of what she wants and also I admired her values as opposed to her erratic sister/model Veronica. Mostly because of my upbringing and my culture. I was hoping that my daughters would one day be like Sasha. I also loved Sasha’s man Alex and his relationship with his parents.

The book takes you through the journey of these four beautiful, independent and intelligent women who have shared the loft and have lived together for 9 years.

In the course of 9 years their life goes through ups and downs. There is happiness and heart break. There is this unflinching bond among friends, friends who are more like family. The male partners who truly love and worship their women and then a couple  who subject them to deceit. There is tears, there is joy, there are fun moments where the whole gang have just simple good fun. As a reader I was looking forward to their Sunday night dinners and guessing what Max might cook that night.

In the end the book made me happy. It is about life as we know it. It made me wonder if there could be anywhere in the world such strong friendship among women where there is no jealousy, no judgement. Just pure friendship.

Weekend brunch. ALC Sandwich

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Simple weekend brunch with coffee.  My new Avocado-lettuce-cucumber sandwiches.

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Easy preparation, tastes so good and puts me back on my lounge sofa with coffee and my smartphone checking facebook pictures:)
Oh yeah, my kids loved them too. In fact, they had fun building their own sandwich:)
You should definitely try  them .

I used:
Slices of regular bread toasted lightly with oil
Cucumber roundels
Avocado slices
Leaves of boston lettuce
Some ketchup
Some pesto sauce from a tube
Salt n pepper

Preparation:

Just prepare and keep ready the above ingredients.
Start building your sandwich. 
Take the bottom piece of the bread and spread some pesto sauce .
Layer with a large leaf of lettuce .
Add the cucumbers and Avocado slices.
Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Squeeze some ketchup.
Close the sandwich with a top piece of bread also smeared with some pesto!!!

Food Truck Adevntures

I have always loved food trucks. I love the whole experience of eating at a food truck. I love the whole casual vibe that comes with it. No frills. And the food tastes SO GOOD!

Recently I have embarked on this new adventure of trying out food at different food trucks.

Lexington, MA had a food truck festival recently and I fell head over heels with this vegetarian/vegan truck rhythmnwraps.com.

OMG their vegan wraps are to die for. The smoky flavored tempeh with their unique dressing and sauces the wrap tasted out of this world. At least ¬†I have never eaten a veggie wrap that is so good ever before. I tried out their fire wrap and Gangsta wrap and I can’t wait to go back to this truck again!!!

Clover is another truck which has been on my list from the past 4 years. I first heard of it when we lived near MIT in Cambridge,ma.

My friends raved about their chickpea or eggplant sandwich or something like that…Don’t know. I have to try it out yet!

Now Clover has spread out across the neighboring towns with even their restaurants. I still would love to go to one of their trucks nearby!

My latest discovery is the food truck festival at Arsenal mall, Watertown,ma. Can’t wait to be there one of these Wednesday, to grab a bite from a Mediterranean truck!

Will write more about these adventures soon.

Until then Happy eating!

Minty Aloo Tikkis (Potato cutlets)

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At a time of crisis, Like a good friend, A potato is there. Always there. Anytime everytime.

Those brown muddy spuds are lifesavers for me . I feel desolated without their presence  in my kitchen.

And all that thoughts and talks about starch and carbs does not matter, when you are hungry and every member of your family is restless and asking for something to “EAT RIGHT NOW” !!!!

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for those potatoes that saved my evening the day before. It was seemingly a long day. The heavy rains would not stop. They started the moment I opened my eyes  in the morning  and persisted the entire day.

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The rains would not stop, but the rains would not stop our day either. Life has to go on.

Wake up time, brush, breakfast, backpack, lunchbag,off to school, with an umbrella- That was my 5 year old.

wakeup time, breakfast, bath , off to work- that was my hubby.

Wakeup time and hang around with me , on me, all over me, make a mess of the house and bring the whole house upside down, no nap, just play, play with kitchen utensils, play with gadgets, play with dangerous objects, making my heart skip a beat and almost making me collapse by noon- That is my 18 month old.

So I take a deep breath and look at the clock, and it  is already time for my kindergartener to come back from school. I am startled but  gather myself up, with my 18 month old still lurking by my side, grab my coat,slide into my shoes when I suddenly heard a knock on the door.

It was my hubby !!! “Oh thank god you are here. Ok here is Sahana. ¬†I am leaving. I have to take Mahati to the piano class”. I dashed out of the door.

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The rain did not cease. I picked my daughter from the bus stop, drove her straight to the piano class, which lasts for about two hours.

By the time we came back home by  evening, every single person in the house is STARVING. Remember, I did not feed my hubby when he came home?

So now it calls for quick action. I peered inside the fridge and what did I see? Some boiled and mashed potatoes from last night. Problem solved!

I decided to make tikkis. Darn that rain and darn those cravings for spicy tangy chaat. When I announced what I was making , my husband raised his eyebrows and sat up straight on the couch almost ready to eat. My daughter said ¬†“yaaay, but Amma this time can you make it Yummier?”

I rolled my eyes, but smiled and promplty said “I will try” ūüôā

Thus, these tikkis, which I very quicky put together for our evening chaat. Then there was dinner time. But that is another story :).

Minty Aloo Tikkis:

2 potatoes boiled peeled and mashed without lumps.( any kind. I used 2 big russet potatoes)

3 slices of bread (i used just white bread from pepperidge farm)

1/2 a cup of mint finely chopped

Oil for deep frying

Seasonings:

1tsp Jeera, 1 tsp Chaat masala, 2 tbsp lemon juice, salt, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 cloves of garlic-grated, 1 green chilli finely minced.

Method:

In a wide bowl, combine mashed potatoes, mint, salt and all the  seasonings.

Take the bread slices,  dunk them in luke warm water. squeeze out all the water and throw them in the bowl with potatoes.

oil your palms and start kneading the potato bread mixture. After kneading for a few minutes, the whole mixture comes together like a nice firm dough.

Next divide the dough into equal portions. Roll them into a ball and pat them flat on your palms.

Frying:

I chose to deep fry them because they will cook evenly inside out. Alternative is to shallow fry them on  a griddle.

( if the dough gets too sticky or has some water content , then sprinkle some all purpose flour(maida) to the mix)

Methi Thepla

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Methi or Fenugreek is often considered as a superfood in India. It is believed to have cooling properties. It is very therapeutic. Breastfeeding moms are often seen consuming fenugreek seeds in quite high amounts, as it is believed to increase milk supply. I have tried it too , and I must say it works!

Because of its cooling properties fenugreek powder is added in spicy pickles  to compensate all that heat from the chilli powder. I remember my grandmother using fenugreek to help her digestion. Just before bedtime she used to make herself a glass of cold buttermilk with little salt and  adding some freshly powdered fenugreek seeds.

I just so love methi too. It is so fragrant and therapeutic. Be it the seeds or the leaves, I love to use them quite often. The leaves are very tender and fragrant and hardly bitter . The seeds carry a nutty and ¬†quite bitter taste but the bitterness subdues when we dry roast them . And that aroma!!! ….

I always wish that methi was available in American supermarkets. Unfortunately it is not and I always have to visit the Indian store to grab a bunch or two and always will have to make a choice of what to make out of Methi. Those are hard choices to make, as anything made out of Methi  leaves is absolutely delicious.

There is a whole array of dishes both South and North Indian that uses fresh Methi leaves in its cooking. Parathas, rotis, gravies,curries, fritters, dals you name it!

This time I chose to make Theplas out of Methi. Theplas are similar to rotis or parathas. They have all spices incorporated in them and typically needs no side dish to go with it. They can be enjoyed as a snack, brunch, lunch or dinner. Kids Love them too. Just pay attention to the spice levels when making for kids. It makes a great lunch box recipe too.

The process is quite simple and here is how to make theplas out of these ever green Methi:

What we need:

2 cups of whole wheat flour

2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour

1 cup of finely chopped fresh methi leaves

2 green chillies

1 tsp cumin/coriander powder( optional)

1tsp turmeric

salt

Method:

Combine all ingredients together.

With little sprinkles of water, knead into a soft dough.

Divide into equal sized balls

roll them into round rotis

On a hot griddle roast them by sprinkles of oil.

Serve warm or not so warm with yogurt.

 

 

Tawa Pulav with Pav Bhaji Masala

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Tawa pulavs are quick fixes and a delicious alternate to the much time consuming Biriyanis.Although,the way I make Biriyani is not often very elaborate or time consuming. check it out here.  For this recipe, All we need is some cut vegetables and precooked rice. The rest of the proccess goes very easily by adding our favorite masalas.

This time I just wanted to try it out with the Pav Bhaji masala(store bought). And it turned out pretty darn good!

Check it out!

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Ingredients in order of appearance are:

Oil 2 tbsp

turmeric- 1/2 tsp

Jeera – 1 tsp

Ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp

finely chopped onions

finely chopped toamtoes

finely chopped capsicum

fresh corn kernels

fresh peas

fresh carrots cubed.

Pav Bhaji Masala 2 tsp, garam masala and red chilli powder 1 tsp each

Pre cooked rice,( basmati preferred)

Salt to taste.

Method:

Heat oil in a wide skillet or tawa on a medium to high heat. Add ingredients in the order above. Mix well to make a thick curry. FInally add rice and mix.

serve with raita.

About being authentic.

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It is very natural to imitate. That instinct to be wanting to be “like” someone else. Someone who is better than us. We all do that. Try to be like someone else. Mostly because, when we are surrounded by people who are doing better than us, we often feel low and inadequate and the pressure builds to be good and achieve success “like” others.

This is so true especially in the world of blogging. I will tell you my story.

I started a blog because I wanted to have a blog. Not because others have their own blogs.

But over the period of time, when I started browsing hundreds of others’ blogs and noticing how great they were, be it their writing , be it their photographs or just their post titles, I felt awful. I felt ¬†” I am pathetic”. This feeling is strong, especially when your readership is so low and when the clicks on your blog is almost close to zero.

 

But then something happened. Something dawned on me. And it happened TODAY.

In today’s morning show, the popular blogger of Smitten Kitchen was featured on TV. She is the famous food blogger with her famous site, I realized. I was further intrigued when the TV segment featured her famous kitchen on TV. Her kitchen is famous, famous for being teeny tiny!!! Her kitchen looked like a warm, cozy place where you can find solace by making your favorite comfort foods and just enjoy them even if you are alone!

My curiosity rose and  in the afternoon I visited her site. This was the 10th time I was visiting her site. 9 times before the TV feature!

And what I read there caught my attention. She writes, “food has to be accessible”. And “she does not believe in fancy ingredients like an expensive bottle of pink Himalayan salt”.

I realized there was a song beneath these lines. A song of authenticity. A song of originality. A song of what she believes in. And that is what differentiates her and makes her unique. So unique to be featured on the TV show!

I took a deep breathe, refreshed my thoughts and came to a conclusion. Imitating, trying to BE Like someone else due to mere pressure to succeed, will not take me anywhere.

There is great strength in being original, being authentic, being yourself. Drawing inspiration from others is one thing, but completely trying to live other peoples lives while losing complete focus on yours is nothing short of ridiculous.

SO here I am. The new me. Trying to be myself again. In this humble blog of mine. Renewing and reflecting in what I believe in related to food and life. Mainly because when food and taste  is such a personal thing, it does not make any sense to imitate others.

Cilantro rice with Vegetable Blend

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I would like to call this dish as a perfect blend of the two most beautiful seasons: The spring and the Fall.

The bright fresh green of the cilantro and specks of brown , orange and green of the vegetables and beans combine together to form this visual treat.

Just as I finished grinding the cilantro, its fresh scent wafted and swept across the kitchen and hit my nose and got into my head :). It took me hours to get the aroma out of my head. And, It tasted as good as it smelled.

On a typical day, my lunch menu includes a rice item with combination of rasam and raita. Hence I always have a bag of frozen vegetable in the freezer, as they come in handy when I need them.

So this time I had this bag of frozen veggies which was a combination of both vegetables and beans. It’s ¬†called the¬†Mediterranean Blend.¬†¬†It had broccoli, snap peas, kidney beans, lima beans, chick peas, carrots, cauliflower , all of ¬†it in one bag!!!

That  mixed with fresh ground cilantro resulted in this beautiful and tasteful rice dish which I relished ( and I am sure you will too!) for the rest of the day. Yumm!

What we need:

2 cups of rice cooked and cooled( preferably Basamati)

2 cups of mixed veggies ( fresh or frozen)

To grind:

2 cups of fresh cilantro

1 medium onion

5-6 green chillies

Masalas:

1 tsp Jeera (cumin)

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp biriyani masala ( home made or store bought)

oil

Method:

Cook the rice and spread it out to cool.

Next grind everything under “to grind” section above. Add very less water to form a thick paste.

In a pan pour 3 tbsp of oil. once hot, add cumin. When the cumin crackles add the mixed vegetables and fry them until they are tender.

Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute more.

Add the rest of the masalas and salt  and cook for a minute more.

Then add the ground coriander paste to the mixed vegetables and fry until the raw flavor of the coriander paste fades away and the whole mixture cooks through and separates oil. The final mixture is dark green with vegetables.

Turn off the heat.

Finally mix the cooled rice with the vegetable mixture. adjust salt.( I usually add a tbsp of oil while mixing rice. taht gives a nice shine and texture to the rice, which otherwise might look dry).

Serve with raita or just plain yogurt.

Crispy Karela/ Bittergourd Fries/Chips(haagalkaayi chips)

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Would you make a resolution for the  upcoming New Year to add some bitterness into your life?

Whoa , that is crazy. Who would want  bitterness in life when all we crave is for sweetness and more of it ?:)

May be you DO. When you try this recipe of Karela or bitter gourd chips ūüôā

It is just the perfect thing for the deep winter that sets in at the dawn of the New year.  The crisp, the crunch and the spice will definitely makes you crave for more and more of it.

 

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One of the key things a food blogger does is the Blog Hopping. Just sit for hours in front of the computer and just flip, scroll, sway and hop from one blog to another. That is how we learn new stuffs and new recipes and get inspired by amazing photographs.

One good afternoon while I was browsing through my favorite blogs and more, I found this amazing food site. By far, for me,  this is the only  site loaded with great vegetarian dishes that are simple and delicious to make.

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When I browsed across the site it was unbelievable, as each and every recipe was simple and tasty enough to tempt me to try them all at home.

Believe it or not, I visit this site every single day!!! It has amazing tamil recipes, different dosa recipes, the chutneys and poriyals that are so so tempting to make them all at once.

And this where I also found this sweet gem, the bittergourd fries!

And that website is none other than, Raks Kitchen.

Please find the recipe for crispy karela fries here.

A Simple Tomato Chutney

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A very simple recipe of tomato chutney that tastes great with Dosas, Idlis or just plain rice and ghee.

Here ,ripe red tomatoes sauteed in oil and cooked until smooth paste with red chilli powder and salt. A generous amount of Hing is a must in this recipe.

This dish is a keeper. Meaning it stays good without refrigeration for about 2 days as it is cooked in just oil and there is no extra water content.

What we need:

4 Juicy red tomatoes, diced

2 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 big pinch of asafoetida

salt per taste

3 tbsp oil.

Method:

In a pan, heat oil.  Once hot add mustard seeds and Hing. Once it splutters, add the diced tomatoes. stir a couple of times, bring the heat to simmer. Cover the pan and let the tomatoes cook in its own juice and oil until completely soft and mushy.

Keep stirring once or twice in between. Do NOT ADD ANY WATER.

After a while , check the tomatoes. By now the oil would have separated from the tomato paste. At this point add salt and red chilli powder. stir well. cook for 5 more minutes.

turn off heat. Serve hot or cold.