Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cheese Toast Triangles

Cheese Toast
Cut in Triangles
It was 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon and hunger pangs were gnawing and fighting for attention. I raided the fridge and came up with these quick, satisfying & delicious bites in a matter of 10 minutes! Instead of the pita pocket halves, regular bread slices would work just as well. Cut each slice of bread in half square triangles after toasting.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Burmese Baked Fish Stew

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Most of my Burmese dishes are inspired by what Mum cooked for us when we were growing up and more recently by friends on Facebook.  This dish comes together without too much fuss and is delicious due to its sour, spicy and salty overtones. When served over hot, steamed, white rice it is heart-warming and satisfying.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Burmese Sour & Spicy Shrimp & Potato Stew

Burmese Sour & Spicy Shrimp & Potato Stew
This stew is ideal for those days when there is not much time to put dinner on the table. The shrimp takes some time to peel, de-vein and stir-fry, but after that's done, it's a matter of putting all the other ingredients into a skillet at the same time and simmering until the gravy is reduced and oil resurfaces. The shrimp is added at the end and it's done! For variety, substitute shrimp with fish fillets, hard boiled eggs sliced in half or chicken thighs. Add chicken thighs along with potatoes at the start of the cooking process. Eggs and fish may be pan-fried like the shrimp and added back into the stew at the end. I've made this with baked fishground chicken and meatballs.

Mung Bean Lentils Tempered with Wild Celery Seeds

1 cup mung dal, toasted
3 carrots, diced
½ pkg. frozen peas
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. radhuni (wild celery) seeds
2 tsp. ginger paste
Salt to taste
¼ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ghee or melted butter
2–3 green chilies, left whole

1. Wash toasted lentils until water runs clear.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add radhuni seeds
3. When seeds start to sizzle fry carrots & peas for a few minutes.
4. Add lentils and ginger paste and cook until lentils are tender.
5. Adjust salt & sugar to taste and bring back to a boil.
6. Garnish with ghee and green chilies.
7. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with steamed rice or tortillas.

Burmese Shwe Htamin - Rice Dessert Bars

Burmese Shwe Htamin
This Burmese dessert was inspired by a Facebook member, Corinne Watson, of our Burmese food group (Burmese Food Lover's Kitchen). I made several modifications to her recipe because I wanted to make coconut a more prominent ingredient and also used roasted sesame seeds as an additional garnish.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tuna Fish Cakes

Pan-Fried Fish Cakes
Oven-Baked Fish Cakes
These fish cakes can be made from canned tuna fish or any flaked white fish, such as tilapia. They can be formed into patties and pan-fried or baked in the oven at 350°F on a greased baking sheet. In Bengali they are called Maacher Chop and served as an appetizer at the start of the meal, accompanied by tamarind chutney, tomato ketchup or a homemade tomato sauce and a simple Indian salad of chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies, and cucumber with a lime & salt dressing.

Monday, December 16, 2013

How to Cook Perfect Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice Cooked on the Stove Top
Basmati Rice Cooked in the Microwave Oven
Thanks to my Facebook friends on Kitchen Raagas for introducing me to the perfect way to cook Basmati rice in the microwave oven. Here are the instructions for cooking the rice on a stove top and in a microwave oven. The ingredients are the same for both methods.

It takes 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes resting time) to cook rice on the stove top and 18 minutes (plus 10 minutes resting time) in the microwave oven. The advantage to microwave cooking is that there are no pots & pans to clean. I was also surprised to find out that rice takes only 18 minutes to cook in the microwave oven as opposed to 40 minutes in a rice cooker!

Red Lentils with Capsicum & Cucumbers

Masoori Dal with Cucumber & Green Peppers
This dish of lentils came about because I needed to use up half an English cucumber and half a green pepper or capsicum.  Red lentils and most other lentils taste very good with vegetable. This is a great way to boost the consumption of vegetables in our daily diets.

Basa Fillets in Yogurt Sauce

Basa Maach-er Doi Maach
Basa is also known as Mekong catfish and Swai. The latter has recently become available in mainstream grocery stores in our area. It is a white fish that has a more delicate flavor than catfish.

When I begin cooking a meal, I raid the fridge and lay out all the vegetables on the counter. Then items get paired with the three or four, sometimes five, dishes I plan to make. That's how half a red pepper or Kashmiri Mirch/Capsicum made its way into this fish dish. Half a container of plain Greek (or hung) yogurt was used in this dish and the other half in a Beet & Cucumber Raita.

In this way, every vegetable plays an important part in the meal and rarely, if ever, do I discard one because it's past its prime.

Reduce and keep the heat on low before adding yogurt to the pan. Do not allow the yogurt sauce to boil as this may cause it to separate or curdle.

Stir-Fried Green Beans & Chickpeas

Green Beans & Chickpeas
My intention was to stir-fry green beans with diced potatoes, but this was made at the tail-end of preparing dinner last night. Feeling too tired to peel and dice a russet potato, I went in search of a can of diced potatoes in the pantry. 

Lo and behold, this can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans/chana) was staring me in the face! I figured the texture was pretty close to cooked potatoes and size similar to diced potatoes which resulted in a delightful stir-fry that was peppery and full of texture. 

The next time, I will add grated coconut for more flavor.

Beet & Cucumber Raita

Beet & Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dressing
After cooking dinner yesterday, there were half a tub of greek yogurt and half a seedless English cucumber left, so I prepared this quick and easy salad. It is refreshing and cools the palate during an Indian meal.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Eggs in Coconut Sauce

Deem-er Malai Curry
Bengalis make Malai Curry with fish and shrimp, so why not with eggs? It's basically an Egg Curry, which most Bengalis love, with coconut milk added to it. I've gven it a South Indian flavor with the use of curry leaves. 

I'm fortunate enough to have a curry leaf tree growing in a little container in the house, so it's readily available. Curry leaves may be replaced with cilantro.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Spicy, Sweet & Sour Chicken

This semi-homemade recipe was inspired by Tyson Any’tizers Mango Habanero Flavored Boneless Chicken Wyngz. It has a sweet and tangy flavor with a kick of spice which prompted me to try my hand at a spicy, sweet and sour chicken. For readers who live in places where this snacking chicken is not available, I’ve provided instructions for making fried nuggets of boneless & skinless chicken thighs coated in corn flour, but chicken breast would work just as well. The spiciness in the sauce comes from sweet chili sauce, the sweetness from pineapples, ketchup and brown sugar, and tanginess (sour) comes from pineapple juice and rice wine. Play around with the sauce ingredients to suit your taste.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Burmese Coconut Tapioca Pudding - Thagu Oh Noh

Coconut milk is a common ingredient in Burmese desserts such as this tapioca pudding. I used instant tapioca pearls, but the larger pearls would look a lot better in this dessert. I've given the recipe for cooking large tapioca pearls from scratch but, for a shortcut, a package of Jello Tapioca Pudding makes a great substitute. Just replace the two cups milk with two cups coconut milk and bring to a boil for a great dessert. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Chicken & Potatoes Divine

This casserole took about an hour to prepare which includes the 40 minutes of baking time. It is a twist on Chicken Divan which uses broccoli instead of the potatoes used here. I used skinless boneless chicken thighs, but I'm sure bone-in thighs would taste even better.