Friday, April 30, 2010

Ole` Chipotle`!

Ever feel like ugggh, what do I eat? I know I feel that way pretty much every afternoon. So today I just thought heck, why not just get something from out? Contemplated on soup from the nearby grocery store but didn't feel like it. I had to go buy some potatoes, onions etc and so just thought once I'm done shopping, I'll figure out what to eat. Drove by Chipotle and immediately I knew what I wanted to eat! A burrito bowl!

I prefer a burrito bowl to a proper burrito. The latter is just too heavy per me and I don't really like the idea of a mish-mash of rice, beans, meat, veggies, salsa etc etc wrapped up in a humongous tortilla. The tortilla gets all mushy and unappetizing. If they fried the tortilla with all that mish-mash inside, it'd probably taste better. But then, it would be way too greasy and with too many unnecessary calories (Hey, I too worry about those darn calories on and off!).

I entered the place and what timing! There was absolutely nobody in the line--- well, there was no line! It was a bit late for lunch actually and that explains why there was nobody there. Ordered the burrito bowl with chicken, black beans, corn salsa, pico-de-gallo & hot salsa over some rice and took some guacamole on the side. Notice I skipped the sour cream and the cheese? Paid the 8 bucks and I was outta there! Very fast, very convenient and pretty healthy too. Came back home, re-heated the food (I like my food nice and hot) and thoroughly enjoyed my late lunch.

The burrito bowl

Holy Guacamole(e)!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You make salsa, I make chutney!

The other day I picked up some tomatillos from the store with the intention of making some fresh salsa verde. Today I thought why not make some good old chutney with it instead? I usually make a chutney with tomatoes and peanuts that turns out really tasty. If I am having someone over who is allergic to nuts, well, I just use sesame seeds instead.

I just think that a tomatillo is basically unripe tomato! I mean, a tomatillo is green and then it ripens into a red tomato! Just like a mango is green and then ripens into a yellow-red-orange colored sweet mango.........makes sense, right? I do see a difference between a tomatillo and a tomato though--- the former has a green paper-like husk around it while the latter has no such thing. Also, when you peel that husk off, the inside is kind of sticky. And of course, the inside of a tomatillo is hard compared to the inside of a tomato. If you want more info on a tomatillo, please google or err, bing (but its not google!)! ;)

 See the husk around the green tomatillo?

After peeling off the husk

See the inside? Resembles a gooseberry, don't you think? 

Making this chutney is very simple. Took a handful of peanuts and spread them onto a m-wave safe plate and popped it in the m-wave for about a couple minutes. I used peanuts with skin off. More convenient, I think. Meanwhile after cutting the tomatillos (see above picture) I sauteed them in a couple teaspoons of oil in a pan, along with 4 thai green chillies and a pod of garlic (the garlic is not really needed). The result looked like this:

Perfectly cooked tomatillos- took about 4 minutes and with the addition of salt, released some water.....

Then I ran the peanuts through the food processor till they turned into a powder. Added this cooked tomatillo into the peanut powder. Ran the food processor once more. And presto! the chutney was ready! I garnished with some splattered mustard & cumin seeds.

 Tomatillo Chutney ready!!

What did we eat the chutney with? AHEM! The plan was to eat the chutney with "Idlis," a south indian rice cake, supposedly very healthy. I don't  know what the issue is, but I SUCK at making idlis! I have been trying for the last 12 years and if I remember correctly, I have been successful only about twice or at the most, thrice! Today's attempt was yet another disaster. They were idlis, but well, not good (I did not even bother taking a picture)............but hey, in life, we gotta make some compromises! ;)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When in doubt...........

.........make some Pilaf!

I must admit that even though I love to cook, honestly, it gets to a point where I go, "OK, what the heck should I cook tonight?" This especially happens on a Wednesday. After thinking for about a couple minutes, I got the bright idea of whipping up some easy pilaf with veggies and nutrela, i.e. soy nuggets. Now I know that my husband simply hates this stuff and I bet a lot of vegetarians as well as meat-eaters hate soy and frankly speaking, I do not understand their hatred for soy! Well OK, I sorta understand--- to a staunch vegetarian, it probably looks like meat and to a meat-eater, it probably is not real meat..........hence the hatred for soy. But really, it is not that bad. In fact my brother and I have loved nutrela since childhood. To my joy, my kids quite like it too! That's always a plus point!

So once again, I opened the fridge. Took out a couple carrots, half a green bell pepper, some tomato, even some eggplant--- basically whatever vegetable I caught hold of! Chopped them up. Oh I did slice a medium onion and minced 3 cloves of garlic. Also grated an inch of fresh ginger. Now a days I don't peel ginger- just wash it well and leave the skin on. It just imparts a better flavor, I think. Washed a couple cups of rice. Any kind of rice will be fine, really. Meanwhile prepared the soy nuggets by soaking a handful in hot water and then squeezing out the water. Then started with the pilaf preparation. Put 4-5 teaspoons of oil into the cooker, heated, put in some cardamom (the big black kind) and cumin and put in the onions, garlic and ginger. Sauteed a little bit and threw in the rest of the veggies. Decided to exclude the bell pepper and eggplant (to my husband and kids' relief!). Stirred everything and then added the washed rice as well as the soy nuggets. Added salt, red chilli powder and a wee bit of garam masala (the famous Indian curry powder). I put in a tablespoon of tomato paste as well--- I just love tomatoes- I can put tomatoes into pretty much everything! Finally added water and closed the cooker lid. Cooked for 3 minutes- that is how long my cooker takes. Allowed the cooker to cool. Once all the steam was gone, opened the lid and threw in a cup of frozen peas. I love frozen peas since you don't really have to "cook" them. They become nice and tender if you just put them into something hot, like in this case, the pilaf.

In the end, I took a teaspoon of coriander seeds in a microwave-safe bowl and popped it into the m-wave for a minute to release the aroma. Then quickly ground it in my coffee-grinder (that I of course use for purposes other than grinding coffee itself!) and sprinkled this powdered coriander on to the pilaf. This kicks up the taste by at least 10 notches, if I may say so!

Finally, garnished with cilantro and finely chopped green onion and voila! another tasty dinner was created!

 Pilaf cooking inside the cooker

Coriander seeds ready to be powdered

The final creation. We had some simple cucumber salad on the side too. Beautiful!

Quick yummy Tuesday night grub

Last evening kids wanted to eat mac'n'cheese. Sweet! Perked it up a bit by adding spinach, you know, for the  vegetable part.......however, wasn't sure if hubs and I would want to eat the same. Then suddenly an idea struck!

So I opened my freezer, took out the Samosa pack, spread a few on a baking sheet and put it in the oven at 400 degrees. Meanwhile I opened a can of Garbanzo beans and gave a quick wash (I always like to wash canned items just to remove the "canny" taste that I think canned items carry). Put a teaspoon of oil into a tiny pot, heated, put some cumin seeds and some red chilli powder (paprika) and then put the washed garbanzo beans into this. Added some tomato paste and a tad bit of water. Jazzed it up with some "aamchur" (i.e. dry mango powder) and "anaardaana" (i.e. dry pomegranate seed powder) and salt per taste. The idea was to convert the bland garbanzo into something nice and hot and tangy. Brought it to a boil and simmered for 5 minutes. Then switched off the stove. Meanwhile, the samosas were baked to perfection (took only 10 mins- though the packet calls for baking for only 6 mins. I think 10 mins works better). I also finely chopped some onion, tomato and cilantro (some green chillies would have been good too).

And now I was all set to create some awesome "samosa chaat!" Mmm! So I took 3 samosas and gently smashed them with a spoon. Then spooned some of that tangy garbanzo mixture onto the smashed samosas. Topped with some of that onion-tomato-cilantro salad and voila! time to eat!!! I added some tomato ketchup to my samosa chaat while hubs added some hot habanero sauce to his. Ohhh, it was simply delicious!

If I were upto it, I would have made some mint chutney, but hey, the samosa chaat was pretty tasty without it! I shall create something amazing with the mint I have lying in my fridge another day.

Enjoy the snaps:

The samosa packet I got from the local Indian store a couple weeks ago.

The baked samosas ready to be smashed! ;)

The final creation!

Relishing! YUM-O! (Pl disregard the paper beside the plate-- that is a whole other topic to be discussed in another blog..........)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

That title picture.........

My dear friend, P, was wondering if the picture I put up for my blog title is somewhere from the net........ well, actually it is my own picture. One of my lunches--- it was broccoli with some shredded sharp cheddar cheese & salt & red crushed pepper on top............ ohhh, it was delicious with the nice ooey-gooey melted cheese on top of the fresh beautiful green broccoli. Check it out:

 So I took some broccoli florets, gave them a quick wash, put them in a microwave-safe bowl. Grated some sharp cheddar cheese on top, sprinkled some salt and red crushed pepper. Popped it in the microwave for about a min and then another minute--- depends on individual choice. I like it crunchy and with that beautiful green color. Done! Excellent in appearance, taste and darn healthy!! On the side there's a couple tapioca chips--- YUM! :)

Parle-G- Original Gluco Biscuits

Didn't know what to do for breakfast this morning. You know, one of those days........Then suddenly I thought, hey, why not some chai (tea) or coffee with some good old Parle-G on the side?!

I have known PG ever since I was a kid. I ate PG back then, while growing up and even today! Funnily enough, my husband seems to be a major fan of PG. Every morning, very diligently, he places the PG box (yes, we have one box exclusively meant for PG, nothing else can be placed inside that box!) on the table, takes his cuppa and then dunks each PG into the coffee and eats for me, I don't do that every single morning. Just once in a while. Interestingly, the kids have come to enjoy PG too! How cool it that? Passed on from generation to generation..........sorta!

OK, so for those of you who have no clue as to what this stuff is, here's a brief description: PG stands for Parle-G, the G meaning Glucose and some say that the G means "Genius," the company slogan. I must agree, it IS in fact a genius glucose biscuit. Healthy too! Made of wheat. The company was started in 1929 in British India in Mumbai, then Bombay. So this is in fact its 81st year of existence and still as popular as ever! Wow!

I go to the local Indian Store here and pick up the pack--- we get this big "Export Pack." Look at the picture:

See that little girl on the packet? I had told my kids that I was that little girl! And they actually believed me until they saw my real baby pictures at my parents' place in India. HAHAHA! ;)

And here's how I eat the biscuits (not unique, pretty much everybody eats the same way):

Step 1: Arrange biscuits and coffee/tea. This was coffee.

Step 2: Dunk biscuit into coffee and take it out immediately. You want it soggy, but not too soggy that it falls into the coffee.

Step 3: See that soggy part? That will go into my mouth and then finally the biscuit will be gone! It WAS all gone anyway! ;) 

Parle-G rocks! I wonder if I will be able to share this "legacy" with my grandchildren too......... hahaha! I know, that is quite a stretch, but hey, I bet it'll happen! This biscuit is SO GOOD and SO ADDICTIVE!
Hail Parle-G!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thai Red Curry- from a bottle!

Today I found THE ultimate Thai Red Curry sauce at Uwajimaya. Finally!! And it does not even contain fish sauce! Perfecto! Madame Pum Thai Curry sauce (picture follows). I decided to try this one because the other stuff I have used so far never really imparted a proper Thai flavor to the curries I made. So this time I thought how about use a product of Thailand, rather than the same old "A Taste of Thai" packet.

So got the little bottle home, threw in some potato, carrot, eggplant, baby corn, green bell pepper, green peas and some excellent baked Tofu that I got from Fred Meyer the other day. The instructions called for adding 2 cups of water to the entire contents of the bottle. Did that. Tasted it and was taken aback by punch it had! Oh my goodness! I have finally found THE perfect Thai sauce for my Thai creations. So the punch was so high, meaning, it was spicy like heck, that even I couldn't take the spice (I am sure, now that I have said this, some of you, especially my brother, will go--- aaah, no way, it is not spicy in the least!) and so I toned it down by adding 1 can of light coconut milk and then a little bit of salt and there, my beautiful Veggie Thai curry was ready. Now I got this idea to add some peanut powder to it, just to thicken it a lil bit and also impart a nice peanut flavor (I LOVE peanuts!). Finally garnished with fresh basil and cilantro. Turned out awesome! Cooked some brown rice on the side. What a lovely creation!

We all had some wonderful Thai dinner tonight.

The Final Curry! (the addition of that extra can of coconut milk turned the color from red to sort of yellow- more like a Massamun curry--- amazingly tasty, nevertheless!)

That Thai sauce I was talking about!

Peanuts and Stones

This morning I felt like eating some "pulsu-atakalu" or "huli-avalakki" or in layman terms, the south indian version of rice flakes. Pretty darn simple to make; in fact, in this case, extremely simple to make. All that I had to do was to wash the rice flakes in warm water (to moisten the flakes of course), mix it up with some of the "avalakki pudi" (powder) that my mom sent from India and voila! ready to eat!

As I was enjoying my avalakki, sitting on the couch, looking out of the window, enjoying the sun's rays entering into my living room, I found this attractive looking piece, that looked like a peanut (the powder has peanuts), but a tad bit darker and it seemed as if the peanut was coated with some kind of a, well, coating (maybe chilli powder or just some flour etc). Usually I would be in a great hurry to put it in my mouth and bite--- this time, thankfully, I was very cautious (no idea where I got that cautiousness from!) and gently put it into my mouth and as soon as I tasted it (with  my tongue of course), I spat it out back into my spoon. It was a horrible piece of red colored STONE! Literally! Uggh! Just imagine if I had bitten into it--- ohhhh, my poor teeth! Well, I am glad I saved my teeth the trauma of biting into that horrible piece of stone!

But I am amazed that even after all these years, food adultery is still happening! I find this even in case of lentils (the yellow kind- you know, toor dal, mung dal etc). I have to wash those lentils at least 4 to 5 times before the metanil yellow (I remember this from way back in elementary school where we studied about food adulteration and various food adulterants) is washed off from the lentils. Really, I mean, when on earth will this stop? Look at the picture of the stone I found in my breakfast this morning and see for yourself!

 Identify the real one! (I put this up on my fb profile pic this morning too! haha!)