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Monday, December 21, 2009

Beef and Black Bean Chili.........A perfect winter indulgence.

I love when it starts to get cold and chilly outside, a perfect excuse to get lazy, stay cozy inside and of course watch movie which i hardly get time for. So today I decided to watch "Sex and the City" again. There is something about the character of Carrie Bradshaw( Sarah Jessica Parker) strong, sexy and witty which i really enjoy, not that i want to relate myself to her in any way. And of course the wardrobe which Mr.Big builds for her is to die for... Does such luxuries really happen and do men really built that kind of closet. Hmm just a thought......

OK we are not here to discuss movie that too some old one but actually this is what I did on a chilly winter day. Hey my story is not over yet, my biggest indulgence of the day has not been screened yet."Beef and Black Bean Chili" Taddaa...... Now thats what is a perfect chilly day indulgence for me. Totally comforting and a complete soul food. I am sure every household has their very own recipe, actually the way my mom made this is a very different and lengthy process(which I will share with you all soon) but I came up with this recipe not so time consuming and lengthy but very satisfying and comforting flavors.


  • Beef minced 1 lbs
  • Tomato chopped 1 cup
  • Canned diced tomato 1 can 15oz
  • Tomato paste 2 Tbsp
  • Onion chopped 1/2 cup and for garnish
  • Garlic chopped 1 Tbsp
  • Ginger chopped 1 Tbsp
  • Serrano pepper 1
  • Black bean 1 can 15oz(drained)
  • Coriander powder 1 Tbsp
  • Paprika 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder 1/2 tsp
  • Salt 1 tsp or as per taste
  • Mustard 1 Tbsp
  • Brown sugar 1 1/2 Tbsp
  • Worcestershire sauce 2 Tbsp
  • Cilantro chopped 2 Tbsp
  • Chicken stock 1 cup
  • water 1 cup
  • Oil 2 Tbsp

Throughly wash the canned black beans and boil it with ginger, serrano chili, chicken stock and water for about 15- 20 minutes covered on medium low flame. Boiling the beans like this add lot of flavor to otherwise bland beans. Heat the oil in a pot and add onions, once they start to get translucent add the beef and garlic and cook till the beef get brown.
Now add the tomatoes both chopped and canned and tomato paste with coriander,cumin and paprika powder and cook for 4-5 mins till everything blends well. Keep stirring it while cooking to avoid anything sticking to the pot and getting burned. Add the boiled beans with mustard and Worcestershire sauce, salt and sugar to the beef mixture. Stir everything together cover the lid and cook it on simmer for another 15 minutes if it get too thick you can add little more water as per your desired thickness. Mash the beans with bean masher before serving. Add cilantro and serve with onion and chopped Serrano(if liked) on top as garnish. Enjoy both the Chilly weather and the yummy Chili.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sloppy Sandwiches

Christmas is right here, the tree is out and sparkling with lights and ornaments, stockings are monogrammed and hanging, gifts are wrapped to perfection, menu has been decided, in short everything is organised. Honestly apart from the tree nothing absolutely nothing is done, yes I am getting my panic attacks but still why on the earth its so hard for me to become picture perfect organised human around holidays. Don't get wrong ideas I am a pretty organised person in everyday life but for holidays I have to blame my holidays hormones, yes believe me we women have different hormones for every moment in our life. I don't care whether the whole medical fraternity totally prove me wrong on this, ask my husband he is living proof of my hormonal moments and will never argue on this with me.

Anyway among all this last moment craziness I still crave all kinds of favorite food of mine, yes the more crazier it gets the more favorites are added to my already enormously long list of food. So I decided to indulge in everyone favorite today " Sloppy Joe's", yummmmmmm. I added green to my beef and had it with whole wheat bread. Trust me these one are good not only to taste but also good for you and come together really fast.

  • Beef Minced 90% lean 1/2 lbs
  • Diced Tomato 3/4 of 14.5 oz can
  • Tomato Paste 1 Tbsp
  • Onion Chopped 1 Cup
  • Celery Chopped 1/2 Cup
  • Spinach Chopped 3 cups
  • Ginger Paste 1 tsp
  • Garlic Paste 1 tsp
  • Paprika 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander Powder 2 tsp
  • Salt 1/2 tsp or as per taste
  • Black Pepper 1 tsp
  • Oil 2-3 Tbsp
  • Whole Wheat bread ( you can use anything here.)
  • Water 3-4 Tbsp
  • Lime juice 1 tsp (optional)

Heat oil in a saute pan and add chopped onion, let the onion get little translucent then add celery and keep sauteing both till celery also start to get little pale. Add beef and let it cook with onion and celery till it start to get brown, add ginger and garlic paste, salt and cook everything on low medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Keep stirring the beef and make sure nothing stick to pan. Now add coriander powder, paprika and black pepper and stir everything for about 1 minute. Put diced tomatoes, tomato paste in the pan and cook everything stirring all the time for 2-3 mins. Finally add spinach and water, mix everything together and cook it on medium low heat covered for about 10 mins keep checking and stirring 2-3 times while its cooking to make sure nothing is sticking to bottom of pan and getting burned. When done the water will almost dry out, turn off the heat I like to sprinkle little lime juice but this is totally up to you. I like to eat it with whole wheat bread, I slightly toast my slices again this is also as per your choice, you can use burger buns, hot dog buns anything. Serve hot and Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Flat Bread with Spicy Vegetable Topping

Fresh baked beauties are loved by all whether its cake or pizza, muffins or flat bread the list is endless and the admirers for these are infinite. Yes you all have guessed it right today the star of the show is my oven, upon whose performance my results are depending. So I decided to make a flat bread today, Simple flat bread with spicy vegetable topping. Traditionally these types of flat breads are baked in Clay Oven (Tandoor) in eastern countries. The temperature in these Tandoors can reach up to 900F making the food cook really fast because of such high temperature the surfaces cook really fast sealing all the moisture and juices inside the food keeping it moist and succulent. The food cook in these oven has unique flavors and aromas, once you taste them you will get hooked. Tandoori food can also be very healthy as they can cook with minimum fat and still remain juicy.

So I decided to challenge my trusted "Oven" to compete with the fiery hot Tandoor and produce if not more but almost same succulent and juicy creations with a taste of perfection in every bite. As always my very simple domestic oven, my faithful companion in the culinary world proved that it is capable to making almost any dish to its perfection. The main catch here was heating oven to highest temperature and maintaining the temperature. I started by preheating the oven to 525 on bake and after about 45-60 minutes, I switched to broil, why because in baking mode oven shuts down after reaching the temperature set but in broil mode the oven does not shut, so the heat source is constant which helps in controlling temperature fluctuation. Secondly when baking bread I use pizza stone as it retains the heat well, placing the stone on the lower most shell also helps it to heat up quickly and evenly.

I made Flat Bread with Spicy vegetable topping. If you want you can call it pizza as there isn't really a precise difference between flat bread and pizza and both seems to jump into each other boundaries. I baked my bread in 2 steps 1- On the pizza stone for about 3-4 minutes till the bottom was crisp and started getting brown spots. 2- I switch the oven to broiling mode from baking and broil the bread with topping for about 1 minute or so to get even browning on the top too. The dough rest in a warm place for about 1 hour after a good kneading of about 15-20 minutes and then I keep it in refrigerator for overnight after shaping dough into portion to rise again this time slowly, this process is called retarding and adds more complex and deep flavors to the final product. The topping is cooked before adding on the of the bread.



  • 4 cups Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp Active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup Milk warm(100-110 f)
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Nigella seeds
  • Water warm around 1-1/2 cup to knead dough
  • Olive oil to be used at the time of baking
  • 1 Cup Red Onion( white/yellow can also be used) coarsely diced
  • 1-1/2 Cup Eggplant coarsely diced
  • 1 Cup Zucchini coarsely diced
  • 2 Large Tomato chopped
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Mint finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt or as per taste
  • 2-3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 4-6 olives per each bread


  • Mix yeast in milk and add sugar and set aside for 10-12 minutes to proof.
  • Mix the dry ingredients for flour and add the milk and yeast mixture and start kneading the dough. Add warm water to help in kneading do this slowly and add enough to make a nice clean dough not hard and not too soft.
  • If doing by mixer then too add water slowly as needed to make the dough with a clean bowl and dough leaving the side of the bowl clean after around 5-7 minutes of kneading.
  • We need to knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, more time given to kneading will help in formation of gluten.
  • Set the dough aside cover with damp kitchen towel for about 1 hour in warm place before dividing into portion and refrigerating. Divide the dough in 4 portion.
  • Refrigerate the dough overnight loosely wrapped in plastic wrap for slow rising but in case you need to use dough same day then let the dough sit for another 1 hour after dividing to rise for second time.
  • Heat oil in the pan and add onion and garlic, saute it till the onion start to get translucent and add tomato,tomato paste, coriander powder, turmeric, paprika and salt and cook it on low till everything blends and oil start to separate from the tomato and onion mixture.
  • Add chopped eggplant and zucchini and water and cover the pan, let it cook on low medium till both eggplant and zucchini are done and start to break down and blend with tomato mixture. Remove the lid and cook for little more on high to let any excess dry out and once again the oil separate from the vegetables. Make sure to keep stirring the vegetables while cooking and you can add more water if the water dry out before vegetables are done. If the heat is low medium the water will not dry out quickly and vegetables will be cooked.
  • Add chopped cilantro and mint also add red pepper flakes stir and remove from heat. Topping is ready.
Assembling the flat bread-

  • Take the dough out from the refrigerator and rest it in room temperature for 2 hours before making the bread.
  • Preheat the oven on bake on the highest temperature, my oven goes up to 525F for about 45 minutes to an hour with the pizza stone. Adjust the 1 shelf to lower most for pizza stone and 1 to top most for broiling the bread later before preheating.
  • Take 1 portion of the dough and place it on lightly dusted surface and start stretching it into a disc or oblong shape with 1/4 inch of thickness. Avoid using rolling pin and do it with fingers as over pressing the dough will harden the bread. Keep dipping your fingers in dry flour to help with streching aslo keep dusting the dough with little flour.
  • Take a flat cookie sheet and sprinkle some semolina flour or corn flour and place the stretched dough on it.This will prevent the stretched dough from sticking on the sheet and easy sliding onto the stone.
  • Sprinkle the streched dough with olive oil and slide it onto the pizza stone and bake it for 3-4 minutes till the bottom start to get golden brown spots. Take out.
  • Add the desired amout of topping to the pre- bake falt bread, sprinkle chopped olives and put it back in the oven on the top most shelf switch the oven from bake to broil and broil the flat bread for 1-2 minute till the top is done.
  • Take out sprinkle with little drizzle of olive oil if you like. Serve straight from oven. Enjoy

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs in Spinach and Tomato Sauce

I know you all must be thinking that i don't have anything else to do, all I do is cook, eat and post about it and of course before eating I click the photographs of my creations. Well yes I am doing this everyday but I was cooking and eating before too the only addition to my daily routine is photography and writing. And I am having a blast, but trust me this is not all what i do. Cooking is not only a hobby for me its my profession too yes I am a Chef and a mom of 2 toddlers and a wife of major foodie hubby and friends of all the wonderful people including you all my readers. So my life is pretty busy as you can see but this blog is becoming major love of my life, I love the way I can share things here by being myself and write my heart out without living in fear of being judge. I wait for comments as they encourage me to carry on, what else can be more satisfying tell me. And all this is possible because of you all my wonderful readers, Thank you all so much.And Thanks for being such a great listener (reader) to me.

Lets get back to food, today i was craving a complete food. Yes i wanted it to be tasty and also healthy, comforting and also quick. I wanted my meat but also wanted my greens . Not difficult combination but somehow our palate has become such that satisfying all these demands in one dish sound little difficult. So i decided to add a little twist on my favorite food " Meatballs and Spaghetti".

Spicy Herb'ed Meatballs in Spinach and Tomato Sauce, meat, greens and pasta all together now thats what is called WOW. Spinach is not only a very healthy vegetable but also an excellent source of Folate and other vitamins and minerals.It is very tasty and versatile, I add spinach to many of my dishes, it really blends well with meat, poultry, vegetables, fish and lentils/beans. As a puree or sauce its flavors come out to a different level. I used only beef for meatballs and added fresh chopped herbs and spices. I also added a slice of white bread which was soaked in milk to make the meatballs more tender and juicy( I got this trick from Tyler Florence show, he is such an amazing cook, an absolute charmer). All in all the dish came out really well, the sauce which is tomato and spinach puree cooked with spices in olive oil is delicate but has so much layers of texture. I added boiled spaghetti and my kids loved it an ate without that face which they make for veges, I am sure u all know that face.Try it it wont be a disappointment.
Ingredients- servings 4-6

Meatballs -- Makes 16-18 Meatballs

Minced beef ( I use 90% lean) 1 lbs
Garlic 1/2 tsp fine paste
Ginger 1/2 tsp fine paste
Jalapeño 1 medium( optional )
Cilantro 2 Tbsp finely chopped
Parsley 2 Tbsp finely chopped
Spring onions 2 both green and white part finely diced
Cumin powder 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder 1/2 tsp
Paprika powder 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp or as per taste
Eggs 2
White bread 1 slice soaked in milk for 5-6 minutes
Oil for frying meatballs 2-3 TBSP

Spinach 4 cups loosely packed
Tomatoes 2 medium size
Garlic 3 cloves
Tomato paste 1 TBSP
Bay leaf 1 leaf
Cinnamon 1 inch piece
Paprika 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder 1/2 tsp
Black pepper powder 1/4 tsp
Ketchup 1 TBSP
Sugar 1 TBSP
Salt 1/2 tsp or as per taste
Finely chopped Cilantro and Parsley 2 TBSP
Olive oil 2-3 TBSP ( can be drizzled over sauce more once sauce is made )

Spaghetti 1/2 packet ( will make 4 servings) cooked as per instruction on box

Finely chopped Cilantro and Parsley 2 TBSP
Parmesan cheese some sprinkle
Red pepper flakes again as per choice


  • Mix all the ingredients for meatballs except bread and eggs. soak the bread in milk, beat the egg in separate bowl and mix it with the meat mixture. Now take the slice of bread out from the milk and slightly press it between palms to take out excess milk and add it to the meat mixture. Mix everything throughly cover and refrigerate for minimum 15- 20 mins to let everything blend together. Refrigerating will also help the meat in absorbing all the flavors.We can make meat mixture ahead and refrigerate it for day also. Let it sit in room temperature for 5-10 minutes before frying it. Never leave it in room temperature for more than 30 mins, remember it has raw egg and beef, we don't want nasty Salmonella, E Coli or any other bad bad food borne disease getting us.
  • Now we can get started with the sauce.
  1. Boil water in a large stock pot add spinach and cook it only for 3-4 minute we just need to blanch them. Take them out in a colander and rinse throughly with cold tap water just to stop cooking process. Add them to the blender and puree them and keep them aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a sauce pot and add diced tomatoes, garlic and tomato paste, cook it on medium high till the tomatoes are tender.Add them to blender and puree them too.Add little water if needed when pureeing the tomatoes
  3. Add little drizzle of oil to the same sauce pan in which we cooked tomato and add bay leaf, cinnamon,tomato puree, spinach puree, paprika, coriander powder, black pepper powder, ketchup, sugar, salt, 1/2 cup of water and let it cook on low simmer for 15-20 mins.
  4. Check for the seasoning and once the sauce is done to required consistency adjust the flame to minimum heat and let it slowly simmer.Its an old saying the longer the simmer the tastier the sauce.
  • Getting back to meatballs make around 16-18 meatballs and heat around 2-3 tbsp in a pan and shallow fry these meatballs. Keep shaking the pan slowly while the meatballs are frying to prevent them from getting too dark on one side. It will will take approx. 10-15 mins for the meat balls to get get throughly cooked in 2-3 batches. These meatballs will also simmer in the sauce for 10-15 minutes, so they will be cooked throughly.
  • Once the meatballs are fried add them to the simmering sauce and let it simmer in sauce for another 10-15 mins, add water if the sauce is too thick but only so the sauce get to desired consistency.
  • Add the cooked spaghetti to the simmering pot of meatballs and sauce. You can add little bit pasta water just a spoon full if only the sauce is thick and also drizzle olive oil if u prefer. Before anything check the seasoning, Yummooo right. Shave some Parmesan and sprinkle chopped cilantro and parsley and some red pepper flakes.Serve hot and Enjoy

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mung Bean Pilaf

We all know the goodness of whole food, it has become a new hot trend today. Everyone wants to eat the whole natural food, preservatives and additives are becoming big NO. But with all this awareness and knowledge there is also a fear attach about cooking them. Being born and raised in Southern Asia I was lucky enough to grow eating the authentic all natural, organic and whole food that too home cooked, but somehow food always meant delicious and these big term were never used to define food. After moving to US, I was exposed to different cultures and their cuisine, same goodness of homecooked meals which were delicious to eat, but along this also came an option to choose between natural food and artificially preserved foods. The later being easy and quick is an option for anyone to choose, but its not a healthy option. There is nothing wrong in indulgence once in a while but making healthy choices is not only good for us but can also be fun. With just little planning we can make delicious meals.

For lunch today I made Mung Bean Pilaf, it is a very delicious and easy recipe. Mung Beans should to be soaked in water preferably overnight or for 4-6 hours before cooking for easy cooking, this is where the most time is consumed when cooking with beans. If the beans are not soaked overnight or for 4-6 hours before cooking we can soak them in hot water for 1 hour before cooking them and they will be good to use. Soaking the beans is common procedure with any kind of raw beans to help them in cooking.In the end I would say Natural and Whole food is the way to go.


Mung beans 1 cup
Rice( i used Basmati but any long grain rice can be used) 1 1/2 cup
Green Cardamom 2
Cinnamon stick 1 inch piece
Onion thinly sliced 1/4 cup
Garlic finely chopped 1 tsp
Salt to taste 1/2 tsp( when adding salt to rice dish add little extra then what used otherwise)
Water 4 cups
Oil 2 + 1 TBSP
Cilantro chopped 1 TBSP


Soak Mung beans in water for 4-6 hours preferably overnight, this is crucial as it will help the beans with cooking. Before starting to cook the pilaf drain the water off the beans and boil beans in fresh water for 5-7 minutes till the beans just start to get tender. Drain the beans again and keep aside.

Heat oil in a sauce pot and add green cardamom and cinnamon stick to it, after 30 seconds add garlic and stir it for another minute. Now add rice and the partially boiled beans and fry them in oil for 2-3 minutes. Once the rice start to get little translucent add salt and water. Bring to boil on high heat and cover pot, lower the heat immediately. Let it cook covered on low simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile heat 1TBSP of oil( in India clarified butter Ghee is used to brown the onion) in small fry pan and fry the sliced onion in it till they turn dark brown but they should not burn. Drain the oil from onion if u don't want to add extra oil, although this oil is full of flavor. Take the pilaf out in serving dish and sprinkle the brown onion and cilantro. Serve hot and Enjoy......

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes....

I had to share this recipe with you all right away. I made Brussels sprout and potatoes for dinner, its so simple and delicious.Brussels sprouts belong to the family of Cabbage but are little bland in taste as compared to raw Cabbage. So i was thinking how to cook them, most common methods used to cook these are steaming, boiling and roasting but i decided to play a little different with them. I cooked them with potatoes by sauteing them with spices to add a little Indian flavors to it and they turned out amazingly delicious.Potatoes paired really well with Brussels sprouts, i also added a dash of lime juice for that fresh tangy flavor and the rest was history.


  • Brussels sprouts 2 cup (slit in halves)
  • Potatoes 2 medium size cubed
  • Nigella seeds 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds 1/4 tsp
  • Turmeric 1/4 tsp
  • Red pepper flakes 1/4 tsp
  • oil 2-3 tbsp
  • Cilantro 1/2 tsp
  • Lime juice 1 tbsp
  • Salt as per taste

Heat the oil in a saute pan and add nigella seeds, once the seeds start to splatter in a minute or so
add Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Stir them all together and add turmeric and salt, stir it once again and cover the pan, let them cook on medium low heat for 10 minutes till both sprouts and potatoes are done.Make sure u keep stirring the pan time to time while its cooking to prevent them sticking to pan or getting burned.Lower the heat if needed, these will be cooking in the steam so no need to add any water. While its cooking, heat another pan and roast cumin seeds in they will roast really fast so keep an eye and make sure they get deep brown but don't burn. Make a coarse powder of cumin by crushing them roughly. Once the sprouts and potatoes are done sprinkle the cumin powder, red pepper flakes and lime juice.As always check for the seasoning and add chopped cilantro. Serve hot Enjoy

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chicken Soup... same old comfort with new flavors

I don't know about you all but i can find 1001 or even more reason why i love food, OK i got little carried away with numbers here but i can totally find lots of reason why i love food. The most precious of all is the memories which food brings along with it.

Chicken Soup is one such food which has one of the most beautiful memory of my life attach to it. Yes it was the first thing i had holding my newborn baby in my arm.Trust me the Soup in the hospital was not the greatest work in culinary field and neither my labor was easy. After an extremely long and painful labor, my baby was born(Thanks to my wonderful Doctor and Nurses, I knew i was in safe hands). Exhausted and hungry, the completely bland Chicken Soup did tasted like a masterpiece. But what made it so special was the fact that i had my baby in my arms and i was a MOMMY now. Even now whenever i have Chicken Soup i re-live the day my elder son was born. Now i am a mommy of two toddlers who run my life, sometime my days are crazy and everything gets upside down, but i wont trade my life for anything else.

I add few Asian ingredients to the pot of Chicken and Vegetable simmering together making it even more satisfying and delicious bowl of soup.


Chicken Breast 2 diced in small cubes
Carrots 2 medium sliced
Celery Stalk 3 medium sliced
Chicken Stock 2 cups
Garlic 2 cloves finely chopped
Ginger 1" finely sliced
Coconut milk 1 cup
Cilantro finely chopped 2 tbsp
Fish Sauce 2 tbsp
Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
Salt as per taste
Black pepper 1/4 tsp
Lime Juice 1tbsp
Water 1 cup
Vegetable Oil 1 tbsp


Heat oil in a large pot, add ginger and garlic, stir for 1 minute. Add Chicken and cook it by stirring it for 2-3 minutes on high heat till it start to get little color but don't let the Chicken get brown. Add Celery and Carrots and cook them for few seconds, keep on stirring everything so all flavors blend well. Now add soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, pepper, lime juice, chicken stock and water, cover and let it simmer on slow for 10-15 minutes till the Chicken is completely cooked and vegetable get tender.

Add coconut milk to the pot with cilantro and let the soup simmer on very low for another 5 minutes. Check the seasoning, if needed add more salt or lime juice as per taste. Serve hot.

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