Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tomatoes are to Pasta what Peas are to Carrots

Pasta and Pomodoro go together like peas and carrots (a la Forrest Gump). The sweet tang together with the chewy goodness of pasta is often a quick meal. Most pasta sauces are so forgiving that you can use canned diced or crushed tomatoes. Leftover sauces can be creatively used in any Indian gravy recipes inplace of tomatoes or tomato puree.

I remember seeing this recipe on a TV cooking show long back, I don't remember which one. Reconstructing by memory, here is Pasta with Three Tomatoes (fresh, canned and sun dried)

Pasta With Three Tomatoes
1 lb spaghetti
Plenty of water
salt to taste
Bring plenty of well salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti according to package directions, until al dente
2 tbsp tomato olive oil (from oil packed sun dried tomatoes)
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes halved
Add crushed tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes, cook down for 15 mins. Then, add the halved cherry tomatoes and simmer until the cherry tomato just turns soft. Drain spaghetti, add to the sauce. Add some retained pasta water to dilute sauce if desired. Top with grated Parmesan cheese (optional).

Each tomato sauce recipe has its signature - play with herbs, add a dash of vodka or wine or in this case, work with different flavors of the tomato. If you don't like the sour taste of sun dried tomatoes, you can reduce the amount used in the recipe.

This is an entry to ARF/5-a-day at Sweetnicks.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Snack Happy!

Don't we all love to snack once in a while or several times in a while? Unfortunately, most sought after snacks in the Indian cuisine are heavy for the belly - being deep fried most of the time.
Chivda is a wonderfully crispy and delicious snack made from crunchy beaten rice flakes (Poha). It can be considered healthy with oodles of peanuts, dry coconut and seasame seeds. It is not deep fried, but you may decide to add more oil to crisp up the dish more.

The list of ingredients may seem long, but it comes together before you can say ... it's tea time. Ok not that quick, but you know what I mean :)

Traditionally the beaten flakes are sun dried inorder to crisp them. Us urbanites can achive a similar effect by roasting in the oven. I personally prefer the toaster oven, where the heat is more uniform and is faster than the regular oven. I usually divide the poha into small batches and toast in the oven for about 2.5 mins each batch

Roasted rice flakes batch

Roast them twice for an extra and long lasting crunch.

Bringing the ingredients together - Clockwise from the top - minced green chilies, dry coconut, peanuts, broken cashews, curry leaves, dalia. In the center, sesame seeds and mustard seeds

2 lbs thin Poha (beaten rice)Roast in small batches in a toaster oven. About 2.5 mins per batch.
6 tbsp oilHeat oil in a big pan (enough to fit all ingredients)
1 cup roasted chick peas (dalia)Fry till brown in the oil, remove all set aside with the poha
1 cup peanuts and cashews (together)Fry till brown in the oil, remove and set aside
1 cup thinly sliced dry coconutFry till brown on low heat, remove and set aside
2 tbsp oilAdd extra oil to the remaining oil in the pan, and heat.
2 tbsp mustard seeds
3 tbsp sesame seeds
several sprigs of curry leaves
4-5 green chilies minced
Add the seeds, allow to sputter, then add the curry leaves and green chilies. Fry till nicely browned.
1 tsp asafetida
2 tbsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
Add the spices to oil and cook for a few seconds. Add the poha and the other prepared ingredients and mix really well on a slow flame.
2 tbsp sugarAfter the ingredients are well mixed, turn off heat, take the pan off the stove and add sugar. Mix well to incorporate.

Of all wierd and wonderful food combinations, this ones seems outrageous. But Chivda makes a great side to left over cold chappatis :) Enjoy.

I'll be bringing over some Chivda to Meeta's Monthly Mingle and snack while watching the game.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dash 'n Dine Meals

Yes, how awfully long since my last post! But, I've been busy with work lately and had to resist any blogging temptation. Thanks for all your enquries while I was gone! It is certainly appreciated.

During my busy phase, several delicious quickie, dash-in and dish-out meals courtesy of fellow bloggers were presented at the dinner table. (Sorry no pictures)

1. Mango Rice , Indira - This was one of the many recipes from the decadent Jhiva for Ingredients (JFI) spread that I must try this Mango season. Preparation of this meal was less than 15 minutes (excluding cleanup, of course :) ) Keep the rice to cook while you grate the mango, saute the ingredients and finally mix with rice. Perfection!

2. Wheat Dosa, Indira - I once said that you can make a paratha out of anything. On a similar note, if you are bored with parathas, make a dosa out of that something. Check out Shilpa of Aayi's recipes fame, for her excellent collection of dosas. Back to Wheat dosas, they were delicious and satisfying. Each dosa takes about 5 mins to cook (on my electic stove, *sighing and moving on*), but that is good news if you have to multi task. Just put each dosa to cook, go about your business around the house, come back to turn it over and so on. Will be making this often. Unlike rava dosa, this one seemed to take less oil to cook too.

3. Tamarind Rice, Sailu - I've had a eye on Sailu's Bisi Bele for the longest time, but never got around to making it. Why? because the recipes asks to let the rice and spices sit together for 45 mins. One of these days, I want to try the recipe the traditional way. Anyway, another recipe that should go in the 'recipes to keep' folder is her Tamarind Rice. Simple to prepare and such a satisfying meal along with some vegetable, this one was a hit at dinner and also a thumbs up by Hubbie to pack for his lunch the next day. This was my first time making tamarind rice 'from scratch'. I didn't realize it was this easy.

4. Dahi Baingan, Saffron Hut - Simple to execute yet looks like you have slaved in the kitchen to prepare this dish! I baked/broiled the baingan, and in the mean time prepared the rotis. Now thats a 30 minute meal(cleanup not incuded)

5. Saar Upkari, Happy Burp - A ton of protein, yet so simple. I used canned chickpeas and frozen yams for this one. As Vaishali says, the recipe is so forgiving, go ahead and add your signature to it :) A simplistic meal is a perfect end to a whirlwind of a day.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Dash 'n Dine meals!