Friday, March 20, 2015

Cilantro Lemon Soup

First Day of Spring 2015 is "special" because I have officially hit 40! That dreaded number 40. The whole mid-life crisis 40. Yeah, yeah, I have heard that age is just a number and that 40 is the new 20, etc. A few important lessons learned in the last year:

1. We no longer want physical interaction- it is all virtual, baby!

2. We humans are ridiculously amusing- everybody is chasing somebody or something else. And everybody is trying to avoid everybody else!

3. You love somebody who doesn't love you back. Somebody loves you but you don't love them back!

2 and 3 are pretty much extrapolations of each other.

4. Everybody is pretending to be somebody else. Yeah, me too! Basically it is all a facade. So then since we are all anyway fake, what now? Continue with the act, I suppose..... *Shrug*

With that very profound prologue (for someone like me, this kinda stuff IS very deep), I shall now move on to more pleasant and real things, aka food! ;)


Fresh cilantro- mm! Fresh lemon- ah! Garlic- oh yeah! Thai green chilies and freshly ground pepper- now we're talkin'! Yep, that's all the ingredients you need to whip up this lovely tongue tickling soup. 

Ingredients, properly this time: 

Yield: 2 cups

1. Fresh cilantro- 1 bunch, cleaned, and chopped fine

2. Garlic- 5-6 cloves, smashed

3. Lemon- freshly squeezed or ready-to-use lemon juice- 1 tbs (or per taste)

4. Thai green chilies- 3-4

5. Cumin seeds or powder- 1/2 tsp 

6. Salt and freshly ground pepper- per taste

7. Corn flour or All Purpose Flour- 1 tbs

8. A pat or two of butter, plus 1-2 tsp of cooking oil 

9. Water- 2 cups


1. Take a pot, add a pat of two of butter, plus 1 or 2 tsp of cooking oil. Get the heat going, and splutter half a tsp of cumin seeds (or powder).

2. Add the chopped cilantro, thai chilies, and smashed garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes. If using all purpose flour- add 1 tbs of the flour to this and stir and cook for 5 minutes to get rid of the raw taste. If using corn flour, hold off until towards the end. 

3. Pour in 2 cups of water. Stir and make sure to get rid of any lumps (if you added all purpose flour). Add salt and freshly ground pepper per taste. 

4. If using corn flour- now is the time to add that in. Mix up 1 tbs of corn flour with a little bit of cold water to make a smooth paste, and add to the above. Stir it up, and bring to a boil until it slightly thickens. This soup is a bit on the thinner consistency side. Taste, and adjust salt pepper if need be. Boil for about 5-7 minutes. 

5. Turn off heat. After about a minute or so, add a tbs (or more if you like) of freshly squeezed or ready-to-use lemon juice. Stir and enjoy! 

The lemon, cilantro, garlic, pepper, and cumin are all going to do the tango on your taste buds- yeah! 

Cilantro Lemon Soup- mm!! 

Epilogue (gotta have one): 

Yes, it is official- I am 40, and still in denial. In my head however, I am stuck at 20. I have got to get my act together now, don't I? Oh! But wait- that means age is in fact just a number, and 40 is in fact the new 20! Recently, a loved one said these three words to me: "Take it easy!" I guess it is not that bad an advice after all! ;) 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Quinoa Pilaf

I am surprised that I haven't posted this before. Quinoa pilaf, with vegetables and all the works, is a complete meal, and oh-so-healthy and delicious! Best of all, it is so easy to prepare, and is ready in just under 30 minutes!

Quick nutrition facts about quinoa: 

*Guten free
*Low Glycemic Index (diabetics- take note!) 
*Provides all 8 amino acids, thereby becoming a complete protein 
*Zero Cholesterol
*Zero Sodium
*Rich in Dietary Fiber
*Rich in Iron, Phosphorus, and Riboflavin (Vitamin B)


Closer look 


1. Quinoa- 2 cups

2. Leek- 1 cup 

3. Garlic- 4-5 crushed

4. Ginger- 1 inch grated

5. Carrot- 1 big, chopped per liking

6. Tomato- 1 medium, chopped

7. Kale- 1/2 bunch 

8. Cumin- 1/2 tsp

9. Turmeric- a pinch

10. Cooking oil- 3-4 tsp

11. Salt and pepper per taste

12. Water to cook- 4 cups


*4-5 Thai green chilies for some kick

*Garam Masala powder- 1/2 tsp  

Note: Any and every vegetable will work well in this recipe. 


If you get pre-washed, ready to use quinoa, you are good to go. Else, give it a good rinse in cold water before cooking, to get rid of its natural bitterness. 

1. Put 3-4 tsp of oil into a pot or pan, get the heat going. Splutter 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds. 

2. Add leek, garlic, and ginger into this, followed by a pinch of turmeric powder, and quickly stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Then add chopped carrot, tomato, and any other vegetable that you might be using. Save the greens such as swiss chard, kale, collard greens, spinach, etc to be added towards the end. 

3. After 3-5 minutes of stir frying, add quinoa to this, and mix everything together. Also add salt and pepper per taste, as well as the chilies and garam masala powder, if using. And then add 4 cups of water. Quinoa:Water= 1:2 Give it all a good stir. Also give it a quick taste, and adjust salt pepper etc if need be. Cover and bring it all to a boil. 

4. Once it starts boiling (about 3 minutes on high), lower flame, and simmer away covered for 15-20 minutes. At about 10 minutes, add the greens, and cover again and continue cooking. At the end of 20 minutes, all the water will have evaporated and the quinoa will have cooked to perfection. 

5. Garnish with cashew nuts and fresh cilantro. Enjoy! 

Deliciously Healthy Quinoa Pilaf

Friday, March 6, 2015

Paneer Tikka, Tandoori Chicken- in the panini maker

The Alton Brown effect still lingers over me from two weekends ago. He mentioned his panini maker that he in fact has never used to make panini! He uses it to cook cornish game hen, and other meats, and veggies. Taking cue, I attempted to make paneer tikka (dry) the other day, and got the husband to cook some tandoori chicken- all in the panini maker, that was gifted to us by the bro and his wife last year. And it turned out pretty darn good!


1) The Marinade (adjust qty according to amount of paneer and chicken, and your personal taste of course). The following is for a pack of 400 g (14 oz) paneer slab, and 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs: 

1. Yogurt- 1 cup 

2. Garlic- 8-10 cloves smashed (or garlic powder- 1 tsp)

3. Ginger- an inch, grated

4. Turmeric- 1/2 tsp

5. Garam Masala powder- 1/2 tsp to 4 tsp (per spice level)

6. Red Chili powder- 1/2 tsp- 4 tsp (per heat level)

7. Lemon juice- 1 tbs 

8. Oil- a couple good drizzles

9. Salt- per taste

2) Paneer cut into cubes

3) Chicken- boneless skinless thighs and/or breasts

Don't forget: 

A Panini Maker! Cranked up all the way to max heat setting. 

Crank it up all the way to max

All heated up


1. Whisk the yogurt and other ingredients altogether in a mixing bowl. Give it a quick taste and adjust accordingly, if need be. 

2. Marinate the paneer cubes and the chicken in separate bowls (you don't want to mix raw poultry with paneer or veggies) for at least 2 hours. 

Note: When marinating the chicken, make sure you give it a lot of love, by thoroughly massaging with the yogurt and spices so as to get all the flavors going.  

3. After marination is done, and the panini maker is all heated up, cook as you would a panini. 

In this case, our panini maker took 5 minutes for the paneer, and 12 minutes for the chicken. 

The paneer is easy- you'll know that it is done when it looks like this. 

Paneer Tikka in the making

Paneer Tikka- mm mm! 

Cooking the chicken in the panini maker could get a bit messy, but it is super easy to clean up later. So it is worth it. You do want to make sure that the internal temperature of the chicken is between 165-175 degrees F before you consider it done. A little cooking thermometer will work fine. If you don't have one, just cut a bit off from a corner, and check for doneness. 

Internal temperature 165-175 degrees F

Tandoori Chicken mm mm! 


1. Paneer Tikka and Tandoori Chicken, with a side of lovely green salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette, turned out pretty darn tasty!

2. The clean up later was easy-peasy.

3. Only flip-side- because we could fit barely two chicken thighs at once, the time spent in cooking the chicken ended up being longer. If you are pressed for time, I'd say broiling in the oven is a better option, as you can stick all the chicken in, and be done in one shot. OR own a large panini maker!


The panini maker (or panini press) is certainly a versatile kitchen equipment. I think every kitchen must have one decent panini maker. Or two!

My opinion about charred meat:

*I personally don't worry too much about the health risks of eating charred meat because for starters, I don't eat charred meat on a regular basis.

*If it is of concern to you, just remove the charred parts, and eat the rest!

*Car exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke contain Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).....!!