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 🙂

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.

Spicy and Lemony Cucumber Corn Kosambari

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I have never eaten so much corn in my life as much as I have since I came to the US.

The all famous American sweet corn is quite sweet indeed. And that makes you just want to eat more of it, almost like candy.

The tender, juicy and sweet corn is a great accompaniment in the form of salad or  our desi version called Kosambari.

Kosambari is a South Indian version of salad. Typically, it involves some soaked lentils like Moong dal or Chana dal mixed with fresh raw vegetables like grated  carrots or crunchy cucumbers. The tempering involves a typical south indian tempering with mustard seeds, Asafoetida and green chillies. Finally it is topped of with fresh grated coconut and finely chopped cilantro. A generous amount of fresh lemon juice is a must .

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Kosambari is a very important part of a festive spread. Hence, in special occasions and festivals, Kosambari is served in the very beginning of the meal.

During the Diwali festival this month, I decided to make this Cucumber-corn Kosambari as a part of my traditional meal.

In my version I have avoided the lentils as well as the coconut. But tastes great!!!!

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What we need:

1 cup of fresh corn,scraped out from the cob

1 cup of finely chopped cucumber ( skin peeled)

5 green chillies finely minced

2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

1/2 a lemon, juice squeezed

1tsp mustard seeds

hing or asafoetida

2 tbsp oil

Method:

In a wide bowl, mix corn and cucumber. Sprinkle some salt. add in the cilantro. squeeze the lemon.

Next is the tempering. Heat 2 tbsp of oil, add the mustard seeds and Hing. when the seeds splutter, add the green chillies. saute the green chillies until it wilts . Then add this tempering to the salad.

MIx everything well and serve chilled or as it is.

Palak Rajmah- Spinach and Kidney Beans.

Tall cardboard boxes unpacked. Furniture set in place. Suitcases full of clothes slowly making their way into the large closets. All toys found intact, for the girls. The house is set. The kitchen’s got going.

We have moved!

Not very far from Cambridge though. It is the next town literally.we moved to  lexington,Ma.

This is our fifth move in 10 years. and our third move within Boston. All our moves have been for great reasons and have worked out well for us. Touch wood. We moved from NY to Boston for my husband’s Grad school. Once  he finished school, we had our second child, while our first one turned 5.

5 is a big number in USA. we realized! It is the age when the kids start school!!! The official, real life, mainstream, public school.

We have been hearing about the American school system, the public schools, the way it works, the school districts, the registration and all that from the past few years. But  just that , it was not our turn yet. We were just very relaxed and were enjoying our first born girl while watching other friends of ours frantically moving and changing homes and places. All for one reason. GSD! Good school district!

Little did we realize that time flies by so fast. Our daughter is already 5 and now it is our turn to find the GSD.

It is amazing how Kids take up all the priorities in life and suddenly we as parents are thinking everything from their point of view.

We did  our part of research, discussed with friends and neighbors and also paid attention to word of  mouth and we finally settled down for Lexington. Apparently, it is the good school district. We just do not know what it exactly means or what we have to expect from the school or even from our daughter,being in a good school district, here in the US. It is so different from our country, the curriculum, the system, everything.

As much as I am not sure about how this school might work for my daughter, I am  excited about  being introduced to the American system of education. I am curious to see my daughter getting blended and integrated into her school with great diverse set of students  and begin her lifelong journey of education. Starting now, from Kindergarten!

While we wait for the school to start next week and while we settle in our new apartment, I made this wonderful dish in  my new kitchen. It is my first dish in my new place.

PAlAK RAJMAH

This a spectacular combination of beans and greens. Double dose of health in one dish.

This is  a simple twist to the traditional Rajmah masala.

1 cup of cooked kidney beans

2 cups of finely chopped Spinach

1 onion (medium size) finely sliced

3 ripe tomatoes pureed

3-4 green chillis

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

3 tbsp oil

Spices: 

1 tbsp, good quality Garam masala, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 2 cloves, 1 stick cinnamon,  1tsp turmeric.

salt to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a wide pan. add cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, and green chillis and ginger garlic paste and saute for 10 secs. Next, add onion and fry till they turn translucent

Next, add the chopped spinach and cook until it wilts and becomes soft. Spinach cooks very quickly.

Once the spinach is cooked, add the tomato puree. add salt. turn the flame to low. Cook the tomatoes on a low flame, until the color changes to a bright red and until the oil separates.

Next add the garam masala and red chilli powder and mix well and cook for 5 minutes until the rawness fades. Finally add the cooked Kidney beans. Add some water. Mix well and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

While simmering, all the flavors blend well and the kidney beans soak up all the flavors from the tomato and the spices.

Turn off flame. Serve with rice or rotis.

Notes: Add water according to the consistency needed. If it tends to get too watery, then simmer for a longer time. Watch out for the salt, specially if you have already cooked the beans with salt. You may add a chunk of butter or heavy cream in the very end, if you please to do so. You may add the same water that you had used to cook the beans to get that rich dark brown color for the dish.

Believe it or not we ate this as a side dish with rice and rasam as we did not have any wheat flour to make rotis.  And yet, it worked out so well.

Chole stir fry

Chickpeas or Garbanzo

A chubby legume

Why the two names?

When you are crushed

You will turn into Hummus….:) LOL

This is the poem I remember time and again, whenever I cook Chick peas.

 

This poem was composed by an Undergrad student at MIT, during one of the Toastmaster’s club meetings. The task was to compose an instant poem or something of that sorts, which I don’t recall well. But I have always felt it is kind of funny and cute.

Anyways, I call this dish as Chole stir fry because unlike traditional chole masala, this one  is prepared like a stir fry. Which means there is no grinding or purees involved. You just dump one ingredient after the other directly in a pan, stir them all together into one lip smacking dish.

Here is how.

Chole stir fry:

1 medium onion chopped finely

3 ripe tomatoes cubed small

1 cup of cooked/canned chick peas( i generally do NOT prefer canned)

Spices:  1 tsp turmeric, 1 stick cinnamon, 3 cloves, 2 tsp Garam masala, 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp aamchur( dry mango )  powder, 2 tsp roasted cumin-coriander powder, 1 tsp crushed black pepper.

Lemon juice

Cilantro.

2 tbsp oil

Method:

To start, heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add cinnamon and cloves and turmeric and saute for 10 sec.

Next, add onions, fry until translucent. add ginger garlic paste and fry until raw smell fades.

Next add the chopped tomatoes and cook until it forms a paste and oil separates.  add salt.

Next add all the other spices and cook for 5 mins on a low flame.

Add 1/2 a cup of water and add the chick peas. Mix well and cook on a low flame for about 5 minutes or until the water evaporates and the mixture comes together.

Squeeze lots of lemon juice and serve.

String beans curry, Quickly in a microwave!

This is  a very simple dry curry which is very common in South Indian meals.

The curry concept or  as in kannada we call it ” palya”is very common and has a vital place in the south indian meal. As rice is the main course along with sambar or rasam, the palya is often prepared as a side dish to go with the rice.

Different vegetables and greens can be used to make the Palya, like cluster beans, Amaranth greens, Spinach, Okra etc.

In each case, the cooking process  is similar. The ingredients used are very simple . The coconut garnish is really important to enhance the flavor. Most cases a bit of Jaggery is added to sweeten the curry. But I have omitted it here in my recipe.

This simple stirfry is a great accompaniment with Rotis or chapathis.

The tenderness and the natural sweetness of the string beans , makes it melt in the mouth.

The tempering adds a little nuttiness and spice. My favorite way to enjoy this curry will be with some creamy yogurt rice!

String beans curry

1 big bowl of string beans, cut into 2 inch pieces

Salt

For Tempering:

2 tbsp oil

1 pinch Asafoetida

2 red chillies, dry

2 green chillis, chopped

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp black gram( urad dal)

Coconut for garnish

Method:

In a microwave safe bowl, put all the cut beans and fill the bowl with water, just enough to cover the beans.

Cook for about 5 minutes, closing the lid on the bowl.

Meanwhile, work on the tempering.

In a small pan, pour some oil. once it is heated, add mustard seeds, asafoetida, black gram, green chillis and red chillis.

Fry all of them for about less than a minute, on a slow flame. once the seeds splutter and urad dal turns a little golden brown, turn off heat.

Now take the cooked beans, drain excess water from the bowl, add some salt and pour the prepared tempering on top of it.

Mix well. Garnish with fresh coconut.

Butternut Squash Curry

This curry is simplicity at its simplest!

A small pre-cut butternut squash diced and sautéed in oil and basic Indian tempering. Salted and garnished with fresh coconut.

This is nothing but goodness. The vegetable has been treated and processed to a minimum to protect its natural color and flavor

served on the side with rice and a simple rasam this meal is utmost comforting and satisfying

1 cup of pre diced butternut squash

1 red chilli broken into half

2 green chillies finely chopped

1 tsp Mustard seeds

2 tbsp oil

salt  to taste

some  fresh coconut for garnish and to make it look prettier

In a pan heat oil. add mustard seeds. once it splutters, add the green and red chillies.

add the squash cubes and stir. sprinkle a spoon of water just so the squash does not burn and also to add some moisture. cover and set flame to low. let it cook until the cubes are soft and easily breaks with a fork.

season with salt. turn off heat

Garnish with coconut.

 

Mother’s day weekend: with a dish and a dash of love.

Good morning to you all wonderful people on this bright Tuesday morning from the beautiful city of Boston. Cambridge actually.

It was the Mother’s day weekend 2 days ago. A beautiful day to celebrate Moms all over the world.

I do not really believe in Mother’s day. I am not sure if it is really necessary. It was never in our culture back home to dedicate one day to Mothers and celebrate it formally. Back home, the status of a mother is supposed to be so much more higher and larger than just being a mother. Traditionally, culturally and religiously mothers have been described as the “visible God”. Our history and mythological stories have great examples and anecdotes about the greatness and the value of a mother in ones life. It is often quoted that ” Since God cannot be present at every place at the same time, He created Mothers”.

So our regard and respect towards our mothers has to be shown through our actions in everyday life. It has to be a part and our way of life to express love, admiration, respect and regard for her every single day.

But having said that, in reality what we see is that , mothers are humans. they are real. They are emotionally strong and emotionally weak. They make mistakes, they work hard, they work their way out, they have their moments, they laugh, they cry, they give love, they do what is best for their child.

So today, due to global impact, Mother’s day is being celebrated around the globe in much enthusiasm. Which is great. It does feel nice to be acknowledged, one way or the other 🙂

It has been 4 years in my journey as a mother. Been great so far. I cannot talk much experience. As my older one grows everyday I am calibrating myself every step of the way in communicating and interacting with her and trying to show her the best of me. There is no perfection. It is an experiment, an exciting one. It is highly demanding and a daunting task to be a Mother.

So,  to get a break from such task , we decided to celebrate our due of Mother’s day in our beautiful Boston Public Garden. It was less about Mother’s day and more about taking the kids out of the house to enjoy some Sun. I just love this place. The lush green just braces you and soothes your eyes. So refreshing,  so serene.

We had an early lunch,  a simple one, which you will see at the end of this post. We decided to leave home at noon and spend the whole afternoon out there. We took the train from across our street. I like the idea of how easy it is to get to Downtown Boston from our place. So we were there in about 20 minutes. We got off at Park street and just started walking across the Boston Commons and made our way into the Public garden. And wow, this Mother’s day thing was serious. we saw many many families scattered all over the grden and picnicking out there on the green lawns. Young moms, middle aged moms, old moms, grand moms ,all kinds of moms with their kids and husbands were out there celebrating the day  with great vigor.

Family pictures were being taken, with Moms in the center of course. We even saw a mom who was pleading his toddler son to join the family picture, since it was Mother’s day. The kid was running away from his family as far as he could. Guess he could not handle the stress of the day. His only interest was to get in line for the carousel ride 🙂

Every year, on Mother’s day there is a grand celebration held in the Public Garden. The celebrations are done through enacting the popular children’s book, Make way for ducklings, by the artists of the  Wheelock family theatre. Kids dress up in duckling costumes and go on a parade , there are balloon artists, face painting and whole lot of fun activities for the kids. Overall, a very festive air.

We skipped the actual celebration and decided to spend a much quieter and a slow paced afternoon with first a Carousel ride and then a Swan boat ride. Those two are the popular activities here in the summer.And rest of the afternoon we just spent walking around the garden, feeding the ducks in the pond, watching people around us, sat on the grass and just laid there feeling the fresh air and the lush green. All that greenness really calms you down .It is  very refreshing and reenrgizing.

Then we walked over the bridge, past the pond and headed back to the train via Charles street. The streets of Boston have the historical charm. They are peppered with vintage boutiques, icecream shops, gourmet stores, all in the narrow lanes and cobblestoned sidewalks of the streets. We made a quick stop at an Ice cream parlor for some chocolate and coffee almond fudge icrcream for my daughter and myself, the Mom:)

Finally we made it to the Train station and headed our way back home.

What a fresh day!

Now for the dish, A simple Bhindi/ okra stir fry:

What we need:

2 cups of okra cut into 1 inch thick

2 tomatoes chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp roasted cumin powder

1 tsp roasted coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala

2-3 red chillis

5-6 curry leaves

salt

2 -3 tbsp oil

Method:

In a wide pan, heat the oil and add cumin seeds. once the cumin splutters add the red chillis and curry leaves . Once the curry leaves splutters and red chillis become crisp, add the Okra and fry for about 10 minutes, until all the stickiness dissappears and the okra changes in color from bright green to a blackish green.

Next, add tomatoes and fry for few more minutes. Cover the pan with a lid and let the tomatoes cook until soft.

Add salt and rest of the spices one by one and stir the entire dish well with a spoon.

Turn off heat. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve with Chapatis or Rotis.

Jolly Cauli :)

 

A simple cauliflower masala make you fall in love all over again, with cauliflower of course 🙂

What we need:

1 small head of cauliflower florets

2 tomatoes, ripe and juicy, cut into cubes

1 onion finely chopped

Spices: turmeric, ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp Rajwadi garam masala( badshah brand), 1 tsp of Tawa fry masala( badshah brand), 1 tsp chilli powder, aamchur(dry mango powder- Optional)

2 tbsp oil

Cilantro, finely chopped to garnish.

 

Method:

1.Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Once hot. add turmeric and cumin. when it splutters add onions and saute till translucent.

2. Now add the ginger garlic paste and fry for few minutes

3. add the cauliflower florets and mix in. Sprinkle some water and cover the pan with a lid. Let the cauliflower cook until “aldente”

4. Now its time to add the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and stir fry for few minutes until tomatoes become soft and blend with the cauliflower.

5. Add the spices one by one. Chilli powder, garam masala, tawa fry masala, Aamchur( dry mango powder) and salt. Fry for few more minutes. turn off heat

6. Garnish with cilantro

 

Enjoy with rotis or rice!