Friday, February 21, 2014

Mung Dal with Zucchini

Mung Dal with Zucchini
Mung dal is most often roasted before cooking, but it cooks and tastes very good without roasting. I try to add vegetables to any lentils I cook to increase my family's intake of vegetables.

Cauliflower & Potatoes in White Poppy Seed Sauce

Phool Kopi Alu Posto
White poppy seed sauce (known in Bengali as 'posto') is very versatile and can be used to dress practically any vegetable. Adding a little green chili to the poppy seed paste gives this dish quite a zing!

Burmese Eggplant & Fried Achovies

Khayun Thee Nga Chauk Chet in Burmese
Begun Shutki in Bengali
Eggplant is an all-time favorite vegetable in our family and adding anchovies to the mix takes it up several notches.

Burmese stir-fried dishes begin with a base of onions, garlic and dried chili paste. I used oriental eggplant in this dish and to reduce the amount of oil that is absorbed in the frying process, I decided to toss the pieces of eggplant with oil & salt and bake it in the oven. This also freed me up to prepare the base while the eggplant was baking. 

These fried anchovies are available in the Asian stores, preserved in soya bean oil. They're tossed into the pan when the eggplant is fully cooked and simmered for a few minutes more. They add a ton of flavor.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Eggs in Red Pepper Rings for Two

In the Pan

A unique and delicious way of preparing eggs for breakfast or any time of day.
The red pepper slices can be replaced with or served along with green, orange or yellow peppers. 

Cucumber and Shrimp Bites

Cucumber & Shrimp Morsels
These crunchy morsels are very quick and easy to assemble and make the perfect side dish at any meal. I used ready-cooked salad or baby shrimp, English (seedless) cucumbers and jalapeno flavored cream cheese. The drop of Sriracha sauce gives the perfect touch to these yummy appetizers.

Slow-Cooked Apple Raisin Oatmeal

Left: Apple Raisin Oatmeal in Crock Pot
Right: Plated Apple Raisin Oatmeal
This is the easiest ever crock pot recipe for downright delicious oatmeal! The only problem is that I have to manually turn on and off my crock pot, so had to stay awake until midnight the night before to turn it on. It cooked for 8.5 hours overnight and it's so hard to describe the incredible aroma that permeated throughout the house this morning.

Oatmeal has always been a favorite breakfast item going all the way back to our childhood in Darjeeling, India. The weather in Darjeeling was often cold and damp and the luxury of having a hot bowl of oatmeal was an infrequent affair because it was reserved for uneventful weekends which were few and far between. 

Mum always salted her oatmeal as it was cooking that adds a special touch to this dish. I left the peel on the Fuji apples which cooked down to a super soft consistency and yet managed to retain some texture and shape. The raisins absorbed as much liquid as they could and came out plump and juicy. And there's no describing the texture of the oatmeal which was soft and totally delicious! 
It's so easy to do that there's no excuse not to cook oatmeal this way from here on out and you can look forward to a most aromatic oatmeal breakfast the next morning.

2014 Valentine's Day Brunch

Brunch for Two
Clockwise from top left

Slow-Cooked Apple & Raisin Oatmeal
Plated Eggs & Shrimp

Cucumber & Shrimp Bites
Valentine's Day Vignette

Eggs in Red Pepper Rings 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chocolate & Dried Fruit Truffles

Chocolate & Dried Fruit Truffles

Sweet Treats for my Valentine

It was my turn to take goodies for our quilt guild meeting this month which I’d forgotten until my hubby reminded me right around dinner time the day before. I was panic-stricken and was tempted to pick up something from a bakery , but that wasn’t a good idea first thing in the morning. Looking around the kitchen, I realized that making these dried fruit truffles would be quick and easy to do. 

The original recipe called for almond butter but we meet in a nut-free facility, so that was out of the question. It also used only dates, but we have quite a crowd at these meetings, so I added all the dried fruits in the house (except prunes). 

These truffles are simply delicious, are dense and very filling. One is all I could have. This type of dessert is ideal for the winter time or for women who are pregnant to provide strength and energy.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Toor Dal with Vegetables - Simple Sambar

Simple Sambar
Sambar is a South-Indian dish of lentils & vegetables that is usually fiery & spicy and I love it. Hubby, however, can't tolerate spicy food so when I cook this at home it is much milder with the spices toned down several notches, which is why I refer to it as Bengali or simple sambar. This dish is generally made with toor dal or yellow split pigeon peas, and any vegetables you have on hand.

Stir-Fried Okra with Onions - Bhindi Bhaja

Bhindi Bhaja
I love how easy life is in North America if you have an interest in cooking at home rather than eating out. Okra, also known as bhindi in Hindi or dharosh in Bengali, is delicious any which way it's cooked. It is, however, a pain to prep in its fresh form. It needs to be washed first, then each of them needs to be dried with a paper towel before cutting. In North America, okra can be found in the frozen foods section of most supermarkets, already cut into bite-size pieces. I take them straight from the freezer to the frying pan without thawing.

Bengali Egg Curry - Dimer Dalna

Dimer Dalna
The eggs in this Egg Curry are sometimes halved before simmering in the tomato gravy. It is, however, more conventional to leave them whole when cooking them in the Bengali way. After hard-boiling and peeling, the eggs are slit vertically five to six times around the circumference, so that the gravy penetrates through to the core.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Garlic Shrimp Puffs

Garlic Shrimp Puffs
Just Baked Garlic Shrimp Puffs
I made these for lunch today and was very pleased with the way they turned out. Using just 4 ingredients and half an hour to prepare, these puffs were perfect because I was pressed for time. It’s worth experimenting with the flavored cream cheese varieties, such as chive & onion flavor, which will allow you to omit garlic powder to make it a 3-ingredient recipe! There was no need to add salt because the cream cheese and shrimp naturally contain salt.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Very Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala
The Chicken Tikka Masala I've had in Indian restaurants look wonderful but seems unattainable in one's own kitchen. The inspiration for this dish came from the Internet and it was so easy to make. The chicken can marinate in the freezer in a Ziploc bag until it's ready to be cooked. I used Campbell's tomato soup because it's well-seasoned and less tangy than pureed tomatoes and the coconut milk gave it a creaminess that was delectable!

Corn Salsa

Corn Salsa

A popular accompaniment to an Indian meal is a chopped salad of cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, green chilies and cilantro tossed with lime juice and salt. I added corn kernels and green onions to the mix and came up with this colorful salad.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Tilapia & Potatoes in Tomato Gravy - Tilapia Maacher Jhol

Tilapia Maacher Jhol
This is a popular Bengali dish and tastes good with any white fish. Tempering nigella seeds with diced green chilies or jalapeno peppers adds a unique flavor to this dish.

Lau Chingri - Bottle Gourd/Chayote Squash with Shrimp & Potatoes

Lau Chingri

This is a Bengali recipe that traditionally uses bottle gourd, which I often replace with chayote squash because it's more readily available. Zucchini also works well in this recipe.