Monday, May 31, 2010

The tiffin box- A food fiction featuring a deli egg salad

"Rice again? I don't like taking goopy and lumpy rice in my lunch." said her ten year old.
"Its good for you.The fried rice has chicken and vegetables in it." Sharmila retorted back.
"What's so good about it? It makes me feel sleepy. I am tired of Indian food. Why can't you make sandwiches like Christina's mom?" "What's wrong in porota and alur dom( pan fried flatbread and curried potatoes)? I used to love it in my tiffin box when my Ma packed my lunch." "Stop calling it a tiffin box! Everyone calls it a lunch bag. Why can't you buy me a good thermos from the store? Why do I have to carry that big box you got from India? It is so embarrassing! I hate opening it during lunchtime." "What can I do?I don't know how to drive around yet. I will buy you one when I go out during the weekend shona(sweetheart).I promise!" Her daughter wiped her tears and reluctantly carried the tiffin box with her backpack to walk to school with her.

After dropping her child at school, she walked to the nearby grocery store.She had heard from her neighbor that she usually bought lunch meat from the store deli and made sandwiches for her children.She hesitantly headed to the deli section. She saw a variety of beef, ham and turkey in big ovals.The person at the counter was asking what the shopper wanted and packing them in plastic bags for the customer. Sometimes, she was asking if someone wanted a sample. She walked to the counter and saw big mounds of salads.But this was not the salad that she had seen before. They mostly looked white and yellow and were called "potato salad", "chicken salad" or "tuna salad". "How can they make salad out of fish? Maybe it is like an achar(pickle).", she thought.She smiled at the deli person and asked ,"Can I have some sample of the egg salad please?" She was handed some in a small cup with a tiny spoon. It was pretty delicious. She could not ask for the recipe. "What is the white and green thing in the salad?" "Its parsely and mayo." She had heard about mayo.It was mainly made from eggs and vinegar. She thanked the person and bought some ingredients for the Egg Salad and headed home.
That night she boiled some eggs, shelled them and put them in the refrigerator for the next day.She woke up early next morning and started making the egg salad. She packed it in the tiffin box. Mou came down for breakfast and looked glumly at the tiffin box."What did you pack today?Some rice again!" She smiled conspirationally at Mou."Its a surprise!Let me know how you like it." She patiently waited for Mou to come back from school in the afternoon. Her daughter had a huge smile on her face "It was very tasty Mamma.Even my friends loved it! Christina was asking for the recipe for her mom to make. Can you write it down for her?" Sharmila smiled satisfactorily looking at her daughter's face.
2 eggs hard boiled
3 tablespoon Miracle Whip
2 chilli peppers
Few sprigs of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chop the eggs including the yolk into big chunks. The eggs have to be at room temperature.The yolks turn into a big mush otherwise.
  • Finely chop the chilli peppers and cilantro.
  • Combine the eggs, cilantro, chilli pepper and the rest of the ingredients and slowly mix them together with a spatula or a spoon.Be careful not to break the eggs too much.
  • Serve it on its own or as a filling in a egg salad sandwich.

I have tasted many egg salads and finally came up with one of my own.I don't add any mustard as the flavor seems to overwhelm the eggs. This is a submission for the second edition "Of Chalks and Chopsticks" hosted by BongMom this month.Hope you enjoy it!

Continue reading: The tiffin box- A food fiction featuring a deli egg salad...

Friday, May 28, 2010

An ode to Lassi- An all time favorite in our home

Some like it salty, some like it sweet
Anyway you like it , its a real treat
We love it in the summer evenings
When there's some backyard grilling
So how do I make this , you may ask
Will tell you, its such an easy task

What you do is take a handy mixer
Get some ice from the refrigerator
To that add two cups of plain yogurt
Cut some lime and add a few juicy squirts
Add a few tablespoons of sugar to the mix
And a final teaspoon of salt will do the trick

Turn the mixer into a spinning motion
You will soon have a frothy concoction
The resulting drink that is too thick
Will need some water to do the trick
Froth this up with just two cups of water
You finally have a hit drink for four to cater.
We enjoy the lassi every summer from the days my daughter would just call it "latsi". According to my family, I make the best lassi in the world. Since this was such a simple drink, I wanted to showcase another passion of mine -writing limericks.

Continue reading: An ode to Lassi- An all time favorite in our home...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Grilling Italian on a hot summer evening

When I was in Italy last year, I decided to do some shopping. You must think I am crazy, but I did not buy shoes in Milan.Instead I bought rosemary and tomato paste and of course a bottle of Chianti.:) I still use my rosemary and its potent with flavor even after a year.

I love baking potatoes instead of frying them as french fries. I also enjoyed a vegetable skewer at a nearby restaurant and got the basic recipe from them. I used it with my vegetables and salmon steak this week and it was AWWWWESOME! The salmon was well seasoned and juicy and the potatoes were crunchy on the outside and well cooked inside. So it was a well rounded dinner with rosemary baked potatoes, grilled salmon steaks and vegetable skewers.
For the potatoes:
4 red potatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
Italian Marinade:
1/2 cup Italian dressing
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/3 cup olive oil
Vegetable skewers and salmon:
1 yellow pepper
5-6 broccoli flowerets
1 tomato
1/2 onion
3 salmon steaks
  • Soak two or three bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven at 450 F.
  • Wash the potatoes and cube them with their skin on.
  • Add salt, pepper , olive oil and rosemary to the potatoes and coat them.
  • Put the potatoes in an oven proof dish and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Cut the vegetables to medium size.
  • Mix the ingredients for the marinade.
  • Coat the vegetables and the salmon with the marinade in separate bowls for 15 minutes.
  • Skewer the vegetable on the bamboo skewers.
  • Grill until vegetables are cooked.
  • Wrap the salmon steaks in aluminum foil and grill it for 10 minutes on each side.

This might not be a traditional Italian dinner or an American one, but this is what might be called fusion cuisine. Hey , who knows you might open a fusion restaurant someday and sell this as eclectic food.Keep following and you will soon see some Indian food here when I have some time to cook on the long weekend.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

The dish I got hooked to in Cancun- Creamy Guacamole

As mentioned earlier, I love Mexican food. So when the trip to Cancun came up six years ago, I was thrilled that I would get to taste some Authentic Mexican cuisine. I was happy with the variety of food and the spices that were used in them. But after four days of spicy food and the hot sun , my stomach longed for something soothing and smooth. Most of my last 6 meals in Cancun consisted of some Guacamole on the side. Guacamole is made from the flesh of avocado which many people avoid because of its high calorific content. But all the health benefits in avocado overshadow its high calories. When picking an avocado choose a dark one as you can scoop the flesh out easily. Serve it as a side with some tacos or fajitas. You can even serve it as a dip with any chips.

2 avocados
Juice from 1 lime
2 green chilli peppers
A handful of cilantro leaves
2 cloves of garlic
Salt to taste

  • Slit the avocados along the middle and twist it to make it into two pieces.
  • Take the knife and hold the pith and twist it out.
  • Take a spoon and scoop out the avocado flesh.
  • Process the avocado flesh with all the other ingredients into a smooth paste.

Note: Store the guacamole covered with a plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Use it withing 48 hours and do not let it go black.

Continue reading: The dish I got hooked to in Cancun- Creamy Guacamole...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Potluck and Chocolate covered strawberries-A Happy combination.

We have a Father’s Day tradition of visiting a nearby farm to pick strawberries as it is the perfect time for harvest. We have also picked sweet peas for the last few years. It’s a great experience and gives a perspective to your child about how fruits and vegetables are grown. We wake up early on that Sunday, have a sumptuous breakfast (preferable choices are pancakes or an omlette with toast J ). The drive is about 20 -30 minutes. They give us a few cardboard trays to use, and give us directions to the right location in the farm. The next couple of hours are sheer fun searching for the most juicy and clean strawberry and picking it.

I have tried many recipes with freshly picked strawberries in the past. I have made jams and sent them to my Mom and MIL. Last few years I have made strawberry cakes for my summer parties mostly using this recipe. I have added a strawberry and whipped cream frosting on the top. I freeze the rest of them to make smoothies and milkshakes all throughout the year. Last summer , as I was home and watched many recipes on Food Network, I decided to try making chocolate covered strawberries. The trick is to find the right chocolate. Chocolate chips do not melt as smoothly as Lindt which are expensive. Hence a bakers chocolate bar is a happy middle. You can choose the type of chocolate you want- dark, semi sweet or white. The texture is very different when you melt these chocolates. The dark is very thick as it’s the most pure form of chocolate with the least amount of milk in it. The white is very dilute as it does not contain cocoa at all. I use the semi sweet variety as children do not like the bitter taste of dark chocolate.
1 bar of semi sweet bakers chocolate
Two pound of strawberries with stems

  • Take a serving dish and cover it with was paper.
  • Wash the strawberries and let them dry on a kitchen towel.
  • Bring half a saucepan of water to boil and let it simmer.
  • Place a glass bowl on top of the pot to create a double boiler.
  • Break the chocolate bar into pieces in the glass bowl.
  • Stir it with a fork to melt it.
  • When it reaches a thick consistency with all the chocolate melted , dip the
    strawberry in it holding it by the stem.
  • Swirl the strawberry in the chocolate so that 2/3 rds of the strawberry is coated with
  • Place the strawberry on the wax paper covered plate.
  • If the chocolate gets a little thick add a tablespoon of milk to it.
  • Let the strawberries cool and refrigerate them for 24 hours before serving them.
As many foodies know, you cannot melt the chocolate on top of a stove. It results in burnt chocolate which cannot be used. Either use a double boiler or a microwave. I prefer the double boiler as the chocolate tends to harden if there is not a constant source of heat. Kids love it as a dessert and so do the adults. I have taken them to summer parties and made this as a dessert when I hosted potlucks, including the one tonight.

Continue reading: Potluck and Chocolate covered strawberries-A Happy combination....