Friday, February 26, 2010

Inspired by Food Network-Paneer Poppers and Capsicum Chutney

Being the foodie that I am , I love watching Food Network. There is a variety of food from different part of the USA and some from around the world.The international cuisine mainly varies among the popular Mexican, Italian , Chinese or Thai with a splash of Indian thrown in here and there. I am not sure why they use curry powder in anything Indian as it is rarely used in authentic Indian cuisine. I love Italian food and recently came across Giada's Deep-Fried Mozzarella Balls with Spicy Tomato and Garlic Chutney and I liked the concept. I decided to give an Indian flair to the recipe and made Paneer Poppers with Red Pepper Chutney. The Paneer was spongy and soft, coated with Indian Breadcrumbs( Hey, if it is Indian spices flavored breadcrumbs then we can call it Indian breadcrumbs -right!). The peppers gave a distinct flavor to the chutney and is spicy with hot chilli peppers. Combine this with a good book and a hot cup of chai, and you are all set for a cozy evening.Ingredients for Paneer Poppers:
Indian breadcrumbs( recipe follows) 2 cups

Eggs 2
All purpose flour ( Maida) 1/2 cup
Paneer cubed -About 20 cubes
Salt and Pepper to taste
Oil to Fry
  • Season the paneer cubes with salt and pepper. If you want them spicy , use some chilli powder instead of pepper.
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl.
  • Create an assembly line of flour , eggs and breadcrumbs.
  • Dip the paneer in the flour ,then eggs and breadcrumbs.
  • Dip the paneer again in the egg and breadcrumbs. This gives a strong coating so that the breadcrumbs do not fall off while frying.
  • Freeze the coated paneer for 15 minutes.
  • Fry them for 5 minutes in oil.Make sure that the oil is not too hot as that will only cook the breadcrumbs and not the paneer.
Ingredients for the Red Pepper Chutney:
Red peppers -2 ( You can use any color pepper)
Curry leaves 3-4,
Green chilli peppers -3
Whole cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Juice of one lime
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 teaspoon

  • Chop the red peppers and the chilli peppers.
  • Heat the oil in a wok and add the cumin and curry leaves.
  • Add the red pepper and the chilli peppers.
  • Add salt and fry till the pepper is tender.
  • In a food processor add the fried cocktail and add the lime juice.
  • Process the mixture till it is smooth.
To make the Indian breadcrumbs: In a cup of breadcrumbs add a tsp each of salt, turmeric, chilli powder, ground coriander, ground cumin and amchoor powder.

The Paneer Poppers can serve as a good vegetarian appetizer both for adults and kids. You can serve it with ketchup and the chutney goes well with South Indian fares like dosas , vadas or idlis.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Returning to the roots- A warm paratha for a winter day!

Its snowing here and we are predicting to get about 4 more inches of snow.Its been a balmy winter with only a few snowstorms this winter. On such a cold wintry night, you want to eat something that makes you feel warm like a warm bowl of soup, a cup of Darjeeling's Makaibari tea or some crunchy pakodas (fritters) with a hot sauce.

Winter is also the time when many vegetables are available back home.You don't feel the winter difference here going to the supermarkets.But you definitely get some winter greens in the Indian store like the methi saag (Fenugreek). Did you know that India is the largest producer of Methi in the world? I have grown myself some Methi Saag in our backyard from store bought methi seeds during summer.Usually Methi is eaten as a green cooked mainly with potatoes. Methi seeds are used for tempering many South Asian curries. Whenever Methi is in season here, I like to make Methi Parathas. They have that pungent methi flavor and can be enjoyed with an Indian pickle or yogurt. This year I made Methi Parathas for the first time last week. I went the extra length this time to add some extra spices apart from salt.
Methi leaves- 2 cups
Whole wheat flour - 3 cups
Chilli powder- 2 tsp
Whole cumin seeds- 3 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tsp and to fry
Water to mix the dough
  • Remove the methi leaves from the branches and wash them thoroughly.
  • Dry the methi in a kitchen towel and chop it coarsely.
  • Mix the flour and the methi together.You can use regular flour but white flour makes it more soft and less rubbery.
  • Add the oil, salt and the spices to the mix.
  • Add water to mix the flour into a soft dough.
  • If the dough gets watery ,add some flour.
  • Divide the dough into 8 balls.
  • Roll each ball into appx. inches bread.You will need some dry flour for your rolling board and rolling pin.
  • In a frying pan , first dry roast the bread .Then add a tsp of oil on both the sides and shallow fry the bread till bot the sides have brown spots on them.

The cumin adds a toasty flavor and the amchoor adds some tanginess to the parathas. Serve it with a pickle , a yogurt raita or even a tomato ketchup. Enjoy!

Continue reading: Returning to the roots- A warm paratha for a winter day!...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A desi touch to a Peruvian Shrimp Ceviche

I discovered ceviche while researching Peruvian cuisine for my daughter's Indiana Jones themed birthday party. I needed an entree from Peru, location of "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". Its a fun salad with some of my favorite elements-seafood, avocado and lime juice. The only part I was not sure about was marinating the raw seafood in lime juice and serving it without cooking it. I am not a fan of raw seafood and hence stay miles away from sushi. So I cooked my shrimp sparingly.The shrimp ceviche was a big hit and I have decided to make it again for you today. Since Shrimp Ceviche recipes are available all over the web, I decided to take it as my inspiration and give it an Indian flavor.

The original Peruvian ceviche uses avocado. I decided to use guava instead.Guava brings bac fond meories of growing up in India. Our garden had 5 guava trees, including the one sprawling one in the backyard.I remember spending many Sunday afternoons perched on the guava tree with a bowl of salt and chilli powder to dip my guavas in. Guavas here cost $3+/lb and are extremely rare to find. They are usually have a softer crunchy interior or the pink one. I prefer mine to be white and crunchy and it gave quite a crunch to my ceviche recipe.

20-30 raw shrimp
1 guava
1 pink onion
1 cucumber
2-3 green chillies
Juice from one large lime
2-3 sprigs of cilantro
2 tsp chaat masala
Salt and pepper to taste
  • Clean and devein the shrimp and put them in boiling water still they turn orange in color.
  • Cool the shrimp to room temperature and marinate it in the lime juice for 2 hours.
  • Chop the cucumber, guava , pink onion, chillies and cilantro and combine it with the shrimp and the lime juice.
  • Add salt, pepper and chaat masala to the salad.
  • Chill and serve.

You can serve it as a salad on its own or with any rice dish. It goes best with the Mexican Arroz con Pollo(Chicken Rice). You can substitute avocado for the guava if you would like an authentic ceviche. The avocado adds a richness to the dish though it maybe high in calories.

Continue reading: A desi touch to a Peruvian Shrimp Ceviche...

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Middle Eastern twist to a quick appetizer

I live close to Dearborn, one of the biggest Middle Eastern community in the US. They have some great Middle Eastern food and the baklavas(pastries filled with nuts and honey) to die for. In the 10 years that I have been here , I have ventured there for their yummy baklavas, but I have never been to a Middle Eastern restaurant yet. I think the Mughlai cuisine back home has its root in the Middle Eastern fare that I have seen here. For my daughter's last birthday, I had gone with the Indiana Jones theme and had done an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert from each of the four movies locations. For "The Last Crusade" theme I had hummus and pita bread for the appetizer, naan and lamb kofta for the entrees and the baklava for dessert. Today we have Hummus and Naan Chips for a quick appetizer. The hummus is an authentic one that I learnt from one of my former co-workers who is part Irish and part Lebanese. She learnt this from her grandmother. I loved it the first time I made it 10 years back.I still love making it and it has been a hot party food at my home. Ingredients:
(for the Hummus)

1 can of chickpeas
2 cloves of garlic
Juice from 2 limes
1 cup of extra virgin cooking oil
2 tbsp of tahini( sesame paste-found in any grocery store international food aisle)
Salt and pepper to taste

(for the Naan chips)
3 store bought frozen naans
Non stick cooking spray

  • Heat the oven at the broiling temperature.
  • Open the can of chick peas and rinse them.
  • Thaw the naans in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Cut the naans in as many pieces as you like.
  • Spread the naan pieces on a cookie sheet or an aluminum tray.
  • Spray some non stick cooking spray on the naan chips.
  • Put them in the broiler till they are light brown( partly crunchy and partly soft).
  • In a food processor, process all the ingredients for the hummus in a smooth paste.
  • Put it in bowl and garnish with a little olive oil and parsley.
Its a great vegetarian appetizer and the hearty chick peas make it a good sandwich spread. The tahini gives it a great nutty taste. The chewy naan chips are a great dipper with the hummus.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Prepping for SuperBowl Party-Dip in to a Mexican taste!

I am an ad fanatic and hence Super Bowl night supersedes Oscar night.In between watching the new ads and eyeing the cute Peyton Manning, I will not have much time to run around getting the food ready for the Super Bowl party for the family. Next week I will be featuring various quick dips and munchies that can be made ahead and sets the tone for a great appetizer party.

I came across this quick dip in one of my daughter's classroom parties and it takes only 5 minutes to make and present it. It is a Mexican Dip which you can serve with store bought or home made tortilla chips. I usually serve it with home made Naan chips ( recipe later).Today I decided to serve it with Wheat Thins to just keep in with a "healthy" theme of Wear Red Day.
1 box of Fat Free Cream Cheese( 8 oz)
1 box of Fat Free Sour Cream( 16 oz)
1 package(1.5 oz) Taco Seasoning( Use mild or medium based on your taste)
Chopped peppers and tomatoes to garnish
  1. In a food processor, combine cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning until they are well blended.
  2. Pour it in a bowl and garnish it with chopped peppers and tomatoes and serve it with your favorite chips.

Wasn't that so easy? It serves as a great appetizer for any party. I always have the bowl all clean by the end of any party. Here's a sneak peek of the recipes that are coming up- authentic hummus with pita chips, Naan chips, paneer poppers with spicy tomato chutney and chocolate covered strawberries.

Continue reading: Prepping for SuperBowl Party-Dip in to a Mexican taste!...