Category Archives: Sides

Homeland roots: Grilled Butter Chicken, Okra Masala, Dal and Coconut Rice

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What’s preventing you from trying something new? Do you ever think about the movement in your body that physically prevents you from doing new things? Like, what is that invisible switch that I swear exists in everyone’s throat which prevents men and women, young and old people from saying that which they want to say but are afraid to evoke? What kind of magic do you have to conjure to turn that switch off and stand up for yourself or for something you want or to take a risk??

Well I’m really just trying to get you riled up for my first attempt at Indian food. Let me tie these two things together. I’m half Indian – what that means is that for more than two years in elementary school I had a cop out costume of wearing either a sheet as a sari or one of the Indian dresses my dad or relative brought back from India along with a Magic-markered henna tattoo on my hand and a bindi. What it means is that I grew up wishing my mom would make Uncle Ben’s rice when I tasted this new buttery sensation at school one day after only eating basmati rice with every dish (yes, gumbo, chili, you name it, it was basmati). What it means is that my racial ambiguity let me get away with telling my kindergarten teacher that I spoke Spanish (at least until parent-teacher conference). What it means is that I grew up learning to taste spicy, rich, curry-ful foods and had a pickle on the table most nights at dinner.

And NOW, what it means is that I was so spoiled growing up eating Indian prepared by mostly my dad or grandma, that I am so scared of ruining those memories by messing it up. So maybe this isn’t a huge thing for me to try new, but at its core what it means is I’m treading new territory. One of the worst things about starting something new is how daunting it is to think that it might take you a while to master it, right?

I’m here to tell you that these three recipes are good places for you to start with basic Indian recipes. The biggest step is making sure you can get the right spices and not being worried that your entire kitchen is going to smell like curry for a day or so.

My dear friend Kate is the one who encouraged us to make this meal as she LOVES Indian food and is a great friend to experiment with. Take these recipes on with your family member, someone you go on adventures with, or impress your co-workers with your attempt at a new cuisine. I was blessed to have my sister and two of my close girl friends cook with me for a lovely Sunday night dinner partay.

Lentil Dal – from the NY Times, serves 4 -6

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed

1 small onion, roughly cut up

2 garlic cloves, cut in half

1 bay leaf

4 cups water

2 TBS oil

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp curry powder

salt

yogurt and cilantro to top

  1. Make sure to start this recipe first, lentils take a while to cook! Combine the lentils, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add salt to taste (under-salt slightly because you will be reducing the liquid), and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes, until the lentils are falling apart tender and fragrant. Remove the onion and garlic and discard.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spices and stir as they sizzle for about 30 seconds, until very fragrant. Add the lentil with their liquid and cook, stirring and mashing with the back of a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, like refried beans. You may need to add some more water. Add salt to taste, once the mixture has reduced to the desired consistency.

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Grilled Butter chicken thighs, halved from this recipe – serves 4

1/2 onion, quartered

1.5 garlic cloves, chopped roughly

1.5 inch piece of ginger, chopped roughly

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika (smoked or sweet is fine)

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 tomato or 1/2 tin cherry tomatoes (I forgot these so just used half a tomato)

1 cup Greek or plain yogurt (make sure it has at least some fat content…you need the fat for flavor)

1 tsp salt

2 TBS melted butter

4 large bone-in skin-on chicken thighs

  1. A few hours before cooking (at least 1 hour and up to 6), puree all the marinade ingredients (all ingredients except the chicken) in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Put your chicken thighs in a large freezer bag or large bowl and pour marinade over. Ensure that the marinade covers all the chicken pieces and place in the fridge to marinate.
  3. About an hour before cooking the chicken, take out of the fridge so it comes to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350.

2015-08-09 19.02.554. Place chicken with marinade in a large baking dish and bake for around 20 minutes. During this time start to get your okra cooking. At the ten minute mark, light up the grill to med/high heat. You really need to be cooking on your friend’s porch – one which has a beautiful banana pepper plant, an OVERFLOWING mint plant, basil, as well as bell peppers.

5. After 20 minutes in the oven, take the chicken out of the oven and place each piece on the grill, shaking off the marinade.

6. Grill for about 7 minutes on each side, then put chicken on a clean plate and let rest for a few minutes.

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Okra (Bhindi) Masala from Veg recipes of India

12 oz frozen cut okra (look in the frozen veggies section of your local grocery store)

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 TBS minced ginger mixed together with 2-3 cloves of garlic minced to make a paste

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp garam masala (they sell it at Kroger I promise!)

salt

oil

  1. Heat a tablespoon of veg or olive oil in a large skillet until medium-hot. Add the frozen okra and cook for around 4-7 minutes until the okra is green and just cooked (can be a little undercooked you will put it back in the pan later). Place okra in a small bowl and add a little more oil to the pan.
  2. Add onions on med/high heat until they become soft and translucent.
  3. Add your ginger-garlic paste for another minute.
  4. Add tomatoes (don’t worry it will be liquidy) for a few minutes until the tomatoes break down and start to caramelize with the onions.

2015-08-09 19.29.025. Add spices and salt until they cover all the ingredients. Make sure to add a good bit of salt here.

6. Add the okra back into the saute and let mix with the spices for a few minutes.

 

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Last but not least, Coconut Rice!

Following the instructions on the rice bag, boil 1 part rice with 2 parts liquid – only substitute a little over half the liquid with coconut milk. Add a pinch of salt and reduce heat to simmering. Cover until rice is done. You may want to add in some coconut milk at the very end for extra flavor.

Serve everything together with lots of fresh cilantro, lemon slices, and yogurt to top! Have your favorite (and only) sister over to enjoy with you!

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Challah, Challah Bill Y’all – A Judeo-Christian culinary experience

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About a month ago, my expert challah-making friend Kate (who has a laundry list of talents I might add), taught our group of friends how to make challah! In school, Kate made challah every week with an extracurricular group to raise money for hunger relief and let me tell you, it was the highlight of my week. My roommates in our sorority house NOMMED every week on one savory and one sweet loaf – usually some herby garlic, cinnamon raisin, or the cherished pumpkin chocolate chip (life will never be the same without you).

Bringing back the college memories and teaching us a little about Jewish traditions, Kate brought the dough and we contributed the toppings. I learned that in the Jewish tradition, you always bless the bread, hence, the importance of the challah. Shoutout to our snazziest consultant travelling visitor, Chandler who contributed most of these pics. While I didn’t actually make this dough, I can show you a bit about the process and how to get to the pretty part of the challah baking process 🙂

First, we rolled the dough (that had been rising for a few hours), into tiny balls that would later be rolled out

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Then, you take two dough balls for your little challah roll and roll them into long thin flat rectangles. This is where you’re going to create a bed for all the fillings. In the pockets, you want to OVERLOAD on ingredients. This is one thing I hadn’t thought of – but apparently when you’re adding filling to these, since the dough expands so much, you always want to put more filling than looks necessary.

In this instance, we made chocolate chip-PB, chocolate cinnamon, sundried tomato garlic basil, peanut butter nutella, and I think cinnamon sugar. Delicious!

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After you put the fillings in, you want to start tucking them in. There’s a sort of braiding going on where you tuck the right bottom corner to the left side of the dough and up. Then you go the opposite way and press into the dough to seal it. Do this until the filling is completely enclosed. The one below is sundried tomato, garlic, olive oil, and basil.

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imagejpeg_1IMG_0003Once everybody’s sealed up, you want to make an X with the two pieces of dough. Then, carefully wrap the two strands around each other, seal the ends together, and spiral to make a round loaf.

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Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for around 25-35 minutes – seems to be an art to this timing! Serve the savory ones with some yummy soup and have the sweet ones for dessert! Here’s to faith-sharing and food. Cheers 🙂

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Indian Mulligatawny Soup

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The inspiration for this soup comes from a lunch date I had about a year ago with a fierce friend of mine, the lovely Katherine Selko. Katherine, the biggest soup fan I’ve ever met, came to Atlanta on the dreariest day ever and lucky for her, the perfect day for soup.

We ventured to my favorite and maybe the only place I know of with good soup in ATL, Souperjenny. Mulligatawny happened to be the special that day, and I was so intrigued. Apples in soup?? Curry, lentils, potatoes, coconut milk, apples?? It was a combination of my favorite Indian curry recipes from home and some North African/Mediterranean spices. Needless to say, I’m sitting here all perplexed with the flavors and Katherine’s all – “Girl, you’re thinking way too much into this.”

A whole year later, I finally tried a mulligatawny recipe on a night when 1) I felt sick and therefore craved soup and 2) my roommate was out so I could make a mess with a billion spices. One thing I’m going to recommend is that you make this when you can actually smell (I had a cold and it kinda messed with my cooking mojo) because most importantly the flavors are intense and smell amazing. But also because if you burn your almonds/peanuts in the oven and maybe light them on fire accidentally you’ll actually be able to smell the smoke….just a tip.

Indian Mulligatawny soup, adapted very slightly from the Wanderlust Kitchen

1/4 cup butter (half a stick)

1 chopped yellow onion

1 carrot, chopped (I didn’t peel mine but you can, otherwise just give it a good scrub)

1 green jalapeno, seeded and diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp peeled and minced/grated fresh ginger root

2 small Granny smith apples, peeled, cored, diced

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)

1 TBS curry powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/3 cup red or green lentils, dried

3 cups chicken broth (low sodium)

2/3 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1/2 cup chopped cashews or almonds

1. Wow there are a lot of spices here but don’t worry. You’ve got time to prep them. Start by focusing on your basic veggies. Melt your butter on low heat in a large Dutch oven/soup pot. While the butter’s melting, chop up the jalapeno, carrot and onion. Drop those into the pot and let them saute until the onions are starting to look clear and add a pinch of salt and pepp.

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2. While the veggies are starting to soften, go ahead and grate or mince your ginger and garlic. Chop up the apples and open the can of tomatoes. After the veggies have soften slightly, maybe 5-7 minutes, add the ginger, garlic, apples and tomatoes.

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3. Ok measure spices now!! Sometimes it’s easier to get a tiny bowl and measure out all your spices into it at once instead of having to scramble to add all the spices at the same time to the pot. If you’re going with the tiny bowl method, measure out the spices while the tomato mixture is bubbling and then add all the spices at once after about 3 minutes.

4. Add lentils and broth, give the pot a quick stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes – took more like 45 for me.

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5. After 30-45 minutes, really you just want to make sure the lentils are cooked, puree about 50-75% of the mixture in a blender or food processor. This is completely dependent upon how chunky you like your soup. After you’ve pureed however much you like, add it all back into the pot and add the coconut milk and adjust the flavoring with salt and pepp.

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6. Serve with scallions and some chopped toasted almonds or cashews (I think a little toast brings out the flavors of nuts).

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7. Brag to your friends and make soups that they like so they come visit you in Atlanta!! (Katherine see you soon!!)

Kimchi and Bacon Brussels Sprouts

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Ok so for Valentine’s Day I wanted to make heart-shaped brownies and sugary sugary cookies and drink wine and gab for hours. Well I did gab for hours on GALENTINE’S DAY! But for the amount that I’ve been baking lately, these brussels sprouts are a savory that really stands out. And it’s a secretly easy dish. Do you ever have those moments in your life where you stop breathing because you almost wonder if life could be that sweet…and you look over your shoulder to see if anyone else is going to burst your bubble? These brussels sprouts will make you look over your shoulder to see if anyone else is seeing just how simple the recipe is when it seems so exotic.

Usually I really like brussels sprouts with a sweet and salty hint, but these are more of a salty and tart combo, it’s complex! Sophisticated right?

 

Also, two things I realized this week that I hadn’t remembered: Joey Fatone is in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and that Butter Pecan is a way underrated ice cream flavor. Random side note aside, let’s explore these greenies.

Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi and Bacon, adapted from the New York Times

Ingredients:

3 slices turkey bacon

1 lb brussels sprouts

1-2 TBS butter

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup kimchi (they sell it at the grocery store it’s all pickle-y if you’re not familiar)

Turn on the oven to 400 degrees. I sliced up about 3 pieces of turkey bacon and fried them in a little bit of oil (due to their lack of a lot of fat they have been burning in the saute pan).

DSCF4586While chopping up the bacon, I sliced off the brussels sprouts’ “butts” and sliced them in half. The timing works out peeps, don’t be in a rush.

DSCF4587Ok, bacon’s cooked! Take it out with a slotted spoon and then add in your brussels sprouts. Add some oil to the pan if these guys are a little bit dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let them get a little golden browny in the pan then transfer to the oven. Here’s where I differ from the New York Times. I let them turn green and roast for around 15 minutes but I wanted them a little crispier, so I set the oven rack on the top rung and turned up the heat to broil for a minute or two. But if you don’t want them super crispy, I think 12-15 minutes is enough time.

While these are cooking, go ahead and puree your kimchi. Put it in a bowl and set aside for when the brussels sprouts are ready.

DSCF4591DSCF4589Bacon is added back in with some butter, mmmmm. Then off to the kimchi, hello Korean goodness!

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DSCF4593Serve aside this delicious slow-roasted salmon!

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Acorn Squash and other Christmas dishes

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It’s back to business, 2014-ers. I DON’T need to sample another gingerbread cookie, have two pieces of pecan pie, or make peppermint bark. But I do need to share with you my Christmas favorites this year 🙂

First of all, I am very in favor of having either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day low-key meals. It’s good to go all out for one meal, but I mean we don’t need to have the Tums bottle out all day. That being said, the afternoon nap is a must for both occasions!! Also, I have yet to experience the Christmas morning sweets breakfast as my family is more of a savory breakfast bunch. Get ready to experience an East Indian Christmas tradition!

We nixed lamb chops this year due to too many fatty lamb chops in years past. I made that fabulous Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Cardamom rice that we’ve had before instead of worrying about trying a roast chicken recipe. For the sides, I made these delicious Stuffed Acorn Squashes! Watch and learn. For dessert, it was a take on JoytheBaker’s dark chocolate ganache tart with sweet cream and mixed berries, made in individual ramekins. SOLIDDD.

Christmas day, we had fugias which are an East Indian tradition and what we eat every Christmas morning. Basically, fried puffy dough balls. Sides included scrambled eggs, berries, leftover stuffed squash, bacon, and we saved room for an easy lasagna.

Here’s how I made my stuffed squash! A very non-recipe kind of a dish – I’m still working on making a documented recipe for this one, but this was the first time I tried! And it came out great.

Start by setting the oven to 425 degrees. Cut your acorn squash in half length-wise, scoop out the seeds and scrape out all the inside stringy part. Use a regular spoon for this part. Then rub olive oil on both sides of the squash halves and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Roast face down in the oven in a roasting pan or other 9×13 pan for about 25-30 minutes until the inside is pierced easily with a knife.

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Meanwhile, heat half a stick of butter in a saute pan, add 1 chopped onion and 3-4 cloves of minced garlic until the onions are soft. Add in about 4 ounces of chopped mushrooms and let them soften as well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add in chopped thyme from about 10 sprigs, red pepper flakes, a bag of stuffing mix, and a few cups of chicken broth. Then drop in a few handfuls of kale until all the stuffing has absorbed the liquid.

After your squash is ready, remove from the oven and stuff the cavity with your stuffing mix. It’s even better if you let it overflow! Drop a few dobs of butter on top and some parmesan cheese if you’d like after adding the stuffing. Bake for about 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Serve immediately.

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Here are some pics of my tarts and the fugias!

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Mini-tarts yum!

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2013-12-24 19.35.47Fugias!!!

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