Bhindi Bhaji – Indian Spiced Okra

Happy New Year! 

Another year, another set of resolutions. This year I made very few as I was keen to follow them all year round and thought having only a few easy ones would be the key to my new year resolution success. Sadly, it is not even the end of January and almost all of them have been broken.  

There are three I have and break every year :
  • Eat a healthy diet. (less/no sugar)
  • Drink more water (8 glasses a day)
  • Exercise more (4-5x per week)
I sincerely thought this was my year to achieve them, but it is my birthday this week and since I intend to celebrate it wholeheartedly (gluttonously and tipsy) these 3 will be out the window by the weekend.

But there is some hope. I do have a few resolutions left and definitely one that I intend to keep:  Blog more.  So here we go with my first post of the year, with hopefully many more to come.  

Happy 2013 everyone!
Bhindi Bhaji – Indian Spiced Okra


INGREDIENTS:
1 pound okra trimmed and cut into ½ inch pieces 

NOTE: It is important you get the small short tender okra, not the long hard one. The hard one never tastes as good. I usually find good okra in the organic markets or organic section of the grocery store. If you cannot  find it, perhaps try the Indian grocers.

1 cup chopped onion  (I like to use Indian onions as they are spicier but can use any you prefer)
2-3 teaspoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½  teaspoon salt or to taste
1-2 chopped medium tomatoes

PREPARATION:
1. Saute onion in oil until soft and translucent  on medium high heat(do not brown).
2. Add turmeric, chili and salt.
3. Add tomato and sauté for few minutes until becomes a paste
4. Add chopped bhindi and cook uncovered until soft.  My hubby prefers it quite soft so cook at least 10-15 minutes stirring every couple minutes.

Serve with any Indian bread such as tandoori roti  or paratha. Serves 2.

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Zaatar Marinated Lamb with Crushed Lemon Potatoes at Treat:The BurJuman World Food Fest 2012

I still remember one of my first breakfasts in Dubai. It was an early summer morning,  but still boiling hot outside. Desperately wanting to get into air conditioning, I quickly ducked into a café and ordered my cappuccino and croissant. The staff told me they only had zaatar croissants left. Hmmm… Zaatar I thought. I was intrigued by the name and excited to try something new. I asked what zaatar was, and the the staff just giggled. After realizing I was serious, they finally said, “Arabic spices madam. You try.” I did and it was delicious. I soon found out zaatar is a blend of dried herbs such as thyme and oregano, sesame, sumac and salt. It can be used to flavor vegetables, breads, and meats.

After living in Dubai for almost 7 years and seeing zaatar on nearly every menu in the region, I understand why the café staff thought I was crazy for not knowing what it was. Although I have eaten it countless times, I never imagined I would be cooking with zaatar in the middle of a crowded mall! But there I was in Burjuman, on stage at the Teka Chef’s Theatre. 



I was lucky to be a part of a blogger masterclass, one of the many events put on by Treat, the Burjuman World Food Fest 2012.  Our masterclass was led by Executive Chef Ron Pietruszka of the Ritz Carlton DIFC, and I was among a group of bloggers cooking Zaatar Marinated Lamb with Crushed Lemon Potatoes. 

Chef Ron Pietruszka in action

Initially I was a bit nervous standing in my little Teka cooking station,  but the dish was surprisingly simple, made even easier by the pre-measured ingredients, my own personal kitchen assistant, and Chef Ron’s step-by-step instructions. The final dish was both beautiful and delicious. (Recipe is below).

My final dish. Not as pretty as Chef Ron’s, but delicious nonetheless!
Chef Ron’s beautiful Lamb
Treat – The BurJuman World Food Fest 2012, running from September 11-22 2012 has something for everyone. The events are all free of cost and run by leading food industry experts and chefs from Dubai’s top hotels. Some highlights are: a series of masterclasses, cooking demos, dining etiquette workshops, audience competitions, cupcake decorating for the kids, exciting gift giveaways, and much more. Treat culminates with the BurJuman Junior Chef 2012 Competition and a fantastic gift hamper giveaway worth 25,000 AED. 

For more information on events and timings, 
please visit the BurJuman website and facebook page.  



Zaatar Marinated Lamb with Crushed Lemon Potatoes


INGREDIENTS for Lamb:
6 pcs Lamb Rack
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup Olive Oil
½ cup Tahini Sauce
½ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
2-3 tablespoons Zaatar (if you can’t find zaatar, check Middle Eastern supermarkets)
 Pomegranate Seeds for garnish

PREPARATION for Lamb:
1. Marinate Lamb in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper for at least 1 hour.
2. Sear lamb  in hot pan; use tongs to sear all sides.
3. Brush tahini on all sides of lamb.
4. Combine panko and zaatar. Roll lamb in panko mixture.
5. Bake lamb in a 190C (375F) oven until desired doneness.

INGREDIENTS for Crushed Potatoes:
2 large cooked potatoes, skins on, crushed (can substitute any potatoes of your choice)
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of ½ lemon
1-2 Tablespoon Butter

PREPARATION of Crushed Potatoes:
1. Melt butter in pan. Add garlic and cook until soft and aromatic.
2. Add cooked potato, lemon juice and zest.
3. Mash with fork to desired consistency.
To plate dish, first add a serving of potatoes. Add lamb rack on top. Garnish with few pomegranate seeds if desired.

**Thank you to the organizers of TREAT for the recipe, which I modified a bit based on my experience in the masterclass and also for some of the images on this post. 

Masoor for my Monsieur – Masoor Daal Recipe

A miracle happened today that brought me out of my blogging hiatus. My eternally picky husband who only likes his mother’s cooking complimented my masoor daal! His exact words: “Wow, this tastes just like back home, maybe even better.” I just stared at him in disbelief for a few seconds. After the initial shock wore off, I ran to the computer to instantly document this moment so it would be immortalized forever. My husband has always been my biggest food critic, particularly for desi food, so this was a huge personal achievement.

Indian food had always been a culinary obstacle for me. I guess I never learned how to make it since my mom was an amazing cook and it was always perfect and readily available.  Also I somehow wasn’t interested to learn about turmeric and cardamom with the same zest I wanted to learn about oregano and rosemary which seemed so much more exotic. So I ended up learning to make many international cuisines, but not my own Indian one. But then I met my biggest food critic who only enjoyed eating the one cuisine I couldn’t make!  He was not impressed with my existing culinary arsenal, and I resolved to one day win him over.

After many foodie battles and take-out dinners, I somehow ended up marrying my food adversary. Strangely enough, some well meaning Auntie gave me an Indian cookbook for a wedding present, and it was from that book that I tried making Indian food for the first time. I just followed the recipes blindly and they kept coming out flat. And my personal food critic was always there to point out the flaws.

Looking back, I now realize my weakness was my inability to understand the common Indian spices and how each spice enhanced or affected the taste of the dish. If I wanted to fix the flavor of my dish, whether I needed to add coriander powder, or cut down on the cumin were a mystery to me.  I also realized my ignorance was partly due to my lack of any previous guidance making any desi dishes. In many Indian kitchens (including my home), there is a round metal container, with smaller round containers inside for each individual spice. Whenever a meal is to be made, the matriarch of the family will take out this container and to the untrained eye, just haphazardly throw all the necessary spices into the dish, and before you know it, the dish is done and seasoned beautifully. No matter how many times you observe this phenomenon, you will never learn to cook Indian food this way! Trust me I have tried.

But then I practiced. After a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned quite a bit, and on my way to becoming the lady with my own round metal spice container. But the best measure of my success with Indian food is that my food critic finally gave a glowing review.

Masoor Daal



INGREDIENTS for Daal:
1 cup Masoor Daal , soaked in water for a couple hours.
*If you do not soak daal first, cooking time will be significantly longer, unless you use a pressure cooker to cook daal. My method is for stovetop only.
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic, grated
1 teaspoon tamarind (imlee) paste – Can be found in most supermarkets or Indian grocers. I used Priya brand

INGREDIENTS For Tadka to add in daal:
1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1-2 green chilis
1 cup cilantro, chopped

PREPARATION:
1. Add soaked daal and turmeric, chili, salt, and garlic in a pot with 5 cups water and bring to boil.
2. After boils, partly cover and lower heat and cook until soft.  Add additional water as necessary.
3. When done, mash or blend to desired consistency, (My hubby likes it quite blended) and add tamarind paste until fully incorporated. Set pot aside.
4. Heat oil in separate pan. Add onion and lightly brown. Add cumin seeds, ginger, green chilis and coriander.
5. Fry all together and add to hot daal. Mix.

Serves 2 generously. Serve with basmati rice.

Easy Broccoli and Spinach Quiche

There is a PQ near my son’s nursery and we often go there for lunch after I pick him up. We have our own little ritual. As we walk in, the negotiations immediately begin.  Rayan wants to eat either a chocolate tart or éclair for lunch. I then attempt to talk him down to something with a bit more nutritional value such as a croissant or blueberry muffin. We then come to a deadlock which is broken by Rayan screaming “Mommmmyyy Peepeeeeee” and then running through the café to the bathroom. Aadam also likes to chime in at this point with a little screech of his own.  

The good thing about the bathroom break is that it serves as a distraction, and I can sneak in my order of a healthier lunch option. Today I ordered the salmon and spinach quiche du jour, and quickly found some seats outside so the eating (flinging) of food could commence.  The quiche was light and fluffly and amazingly more ended up in my kids’ mouths than on the floor. We were soon finished and a small team of waiters was dispatched to clean our table and its surroundings. As waiter no. 1 was removing my plate she said, “Madame tomorrow we are starting our new kids menu.” Waiters nos. 2 and 3 quickly shot her a sharp glance and she knew she had said too much. The last thing they wanted was to give us any more incentive to frequent their restaurant. But luckily for everyone, I have a quiche recipe that is easy to make at home. My kids love it, so I foresee more quiche at home and less at PQ. Although I do love their lemon tart so I cannot stop going there altogether…
Easy Broccoli and Spinach Quiche


INGREDIENTS:
Puff pastry sheet ** OR make own quiche crust. Recipe below.
3 eggs
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 large red onion
¾ cup grated emmental (or any cheese you prefer)
1 -2 cloves garlic
1 ½  cup cooked broccoli
½ cup cooked frozen spinach, thawed and drained

PREPARATION:
1.  Roll out puff pastry to line round 9” tin up about 1 ½ inches on sides.

2.  Pulse onion in food processor and add on puff pastry.

3. Pulse broccoli, spinach, and garlic in food processor. Add in oregano, generous amount of fresh pepper and salt to taste (about ¼ tsp salt). Mix well.

4. Layer vegetable mixture on top of onion.

5.  Layer ½ cup cheese on top of vegetable mixture.

6.  In separate bowl mix eggs, milk, cream, and some salt and pepper with electric mixer. Add on top of other items in pan.

7. Top with remaining ¼ cup cheese.

8. Bake in oven at 350F (180C) for 50 minutes. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting.


**Just found a recipe here for a homemade quiche crust. See below:


Homemade Quiche Crust


Ingredients:

  • cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup ice water (I use refrigerated water)

  • Preparation:
  • 1. Mix flour and salt with fork.
  • 2. Beat oil and water with whisk or fork to thicken.
  • 3. Pour into flour and mix with fork.
  • 4. Press into 9″ pie crust.
  • 5. Fill with quiche mixture and bake at 400F until done.






  • Dad’s Chicken Curry

    Several  of my friends have recently had little girls. I especially love to watch the otherwise super macho fathers coo and babble at their little bundles of joy.  My dad has always been a guy’s guy. He loves to watch football and doesn’t like the idea of men wearing wedding rings since “jewelry is for women.” 

    He ended up having two daughters and ironically the same man who thought pink was a “girly color” would pick out our cute frilly dresses for our birthday parties or paint our nails with nail polish if mom was too busy.
    More recently, my dad  discovered his talent for cooking and made me a great chicken curry on my last trip home.  I asked him for the recipe, but my version turned out nothing like his. (I mean not at all like his. Dad if you are reading this…are you sure you gave me the right recipe?? 😉   Anyway, I did make a chicken curry inspired by his, and it turned out great. Even the picky hubby enjoyed it, especially with parathas.
    Dad’s Chicken Curry
    Ingredients:
    8 skinless chicken thighs, approx 500g
    3-4 red onions finely chopped (about 1 cup)
    3 tbsp garlic, shredded
    1 tbsp ginger, shredded
    1 tbsp salted butter
    1 tbsp cooking oil
    1 teaspoon turmeric
    1 14oz can of peeled chopped tomatoes
    1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon red chili powder  (to taste)
    ½ cup plain yogurt
     ½ teaspoon salt (to taste).
    Preparation:
    1. In a large pot add butter and oil on medium high heat. In the melted butter add the finely chopped onion and the garlic and ginger pastes. Stir continuously for a few minutes until onions are soft and the contents become a paste.
    2. Add the chicken pieces and cover them with the mixture in the pot. Cook for few minutes until chicken just about cooked.
    3.  Add the chopped and peeled tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder and yogurt. Mix well.  
    4. Cover the pot and let cook for additional 10 min, or until chicken is fully cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. 
    5. Remove from heat, add chopped cilantro and stir.
    6. Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro and serve with paratha. Makes about 2-3 generous servings.

    Mixed Vegetable Sabzi

    I am always looking for cooking shortcuts. My hungry boys eat 6 times a day so if I don’t cut some corners I will never leave the kitchen. My latest creation is the “Arabic Pizza” for those days when I am really in a time crunch. I get some Arabic bread, and quickly warm it on the skillet.  I then add some ketchup and oregano and grate some cheddar or feta on top and blitz it for a few seconds in the microwave. The finishing touch is to cut it into pizza slices using the pizza cutter so it looks more “real”.  But I knew I had gone too far when we went out for pizza and my kids actually preferred mine! I was shattered that I had ruined their developing taste buds. At this rate we will never enjoy a true NYC slice together and I absolutely cannot have that.

    So, I decided to make something more  interesting, more spicy, and to incorporate vegetables. I came up with this mixed vegetable sabzi that uses ingredients I always have on hand and I can make in a flash. (Although not as fast as the Arabic Pizza!).
    MIXED VEGETABLE SABZI




    INGREDIENTS:

    1 large chopped onion (Indian red onion)
    1 peeled chopped potato (can microwave for couple minutes before if you prefer for faster cooking time in sabzi)
    2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
    1 chopped green chili
    1-2 tomatoes
    1 tsp salt (or to taste)
    ¾ tsp turmeric
    ½ tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
    1-2 teaspon coriander powder (you can roast whole coriander seeds and finely crush for a bolder flavor if you prefer)
    2-3 tsp cooking oil
    1 tbsp garlic, grated
    1 teaspon ginger, grated

    PREPARATION:

    1. Heat oil in pot. Add onion and cook until softened. Keep on medium high heat.

    2. Add in ginger and garlic and sauté for a couple minutes. 

    3.  Add potato and sauté for a few minutes. Add the vegetables and the tomatoes and green chili and sauté. Add salt and all spices and mix.

    4. Cover and put on medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes or until all veggies cooked and flavours incorporated.  Season to taste. Garnish with fresh coriander if preferred.

    Broccoli and Tofu Stir Fry

    I was doing so well. These past months have been spent eating (relatively) healthily and exercising (Zumba!) pretty regularly. 

    But then it happened. The holiday season started. And with each holiday came one calorie filled delicacy after the next. First came Diwali. By the light of the little diyas, I happily ate one mitai after the next, only pausing for a savory chakli break, and then resuming on the gulab jamun.

    Then came Halloween. I actually tried not buying any candy this time. I even made Ry take a healthy dish of hummus and veggies for his school Halloween party. But despite my self control, the candy and chocolate flowed into my home from various parties and events and friends. And I am ashamed to admit, when the kids went to bed after trick or treating, I raided their candy bags to my heart’s content.

    Now it is almost Eid, and my dear hubby has already bought some chocolate and sweets to celebrate. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, it is unlikely I can control the glutton within.

    So even though chocolate and cupcakes are on my mind, I am instead going to post a super healthy and tasty recipe I found on EatingWell to help me get back on track. I just started fitting into some of my old pre-pregnancy jeans and as comfortable as they were, I am not going back to the elastic waistbands of maternity wear!

    Broccoli and Tofu Stir Fry with Brown Basmati Rice



    INGREDIENTS:

    1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth (I usually steam my frozen broccoli beforehand, so just reserve some of that water)
    1/4 cup dry sherry (see Note) or rice wine or few teaspoons of rice vinegar (non-alcoholic version)
    3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
    3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
    2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more to taste
    1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
    6 cups broccoli florets (frozen ok too, just cook beforehand)
    3 tablespoons water
    ·          Tilda Brown Basmati rice , cooked

    PREPARATION:

    1. Combine broth, sherry (or rice wine), soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, sugar and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
    2. Cut tofu into 3/4-inch cubes and pat dry, then sprinkle with salt. Place the remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a large bowl. Add the tofu; toss gently to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the tofu; cook, undisturbed, until browned, about 3 minutes. Gently turn and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
    My tofu is somehow never crisp, but still a bit soggy, although it is hard enough to not break apart. Any tips on getting a nicer crust on my tofu would be much appreciated.
    3. Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and ginger, few chili flakes; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broccoli (and water  if fresh broccoli); cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until tender-crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir the reserved broth mixture and add to the pan. Cook until the sauce has thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the tofu to the pan; toss to combine with the broccoli and sauce.
    4. Serve over brown basmati rice and a bit of Sriracha sauce.

    Chicken Tacos with Charred Tomatoes

    Hi, my name is Archana and I am allergic to chicken.

    This was my burden to bear for most of my life.  And instead of sympathy, the usual response was: “Really? I’ve never heard of that. No you’re not. Here, have some chicken.”

    As a child I was chicken’s number one fan, from chicken McNuggets to chicken tikka masala and everything in between. But I especially loved my mom’s tandoori chicken.  One time, my mom cooked a huge batch of tandoori chicken for a dinner party.  Being a portly 4th grader, I piled several pieces of breast, thighs and drumsticks onto my plate and chomped away. Then I went back for seconds, and eventually thirds. The next day, despite my gluttony, there was actually some left over that my mom made into a chicken biryani which I also heartily devoured.

    That was when something went horribly wrong. My face started burning. When I went to the mirror my face and  body had turned the same crimson hue of the tandoori chicken I had recently injested. Of course my parents were alarmed at their ruby red child and we rushed to the doctor, who gave me a series of injections to find out why I was so sanguine.  25 pricks later the culprits turned out to be chicken, eggs, and chocolate.  That was the day my chicken boycott started. (I conveniently disregarded the eggs and chocolate).

    It took me over twenty years to get past my chicken phobia. Only after having kids and reading more about child allergies (and how kids usually grow out of them) did I find the strength to take a bite of my feathered friend again.  Unfortunately, I had so eagerly anticipated my chicken reunion that when I finally had my first taste, I was bitterly disappointed. This can’t be right. Everyone told me all these years that  I was “missing out”. But missing out on what?  I tried chicken again baked, broiled, fried, curried, and breaded, but nothing really amazed me. After years of substituting beef, lamb, fish, and even turkey in my diet,  chicken paled in comparison.  I couldn’t find any preparation to justify reincorporating chicken into my menu…until now.  I finally found a bold and flavorful recipe to combat chicken’s blandness. My version of Eating Well’s chicken tacos has definitely got me believing the bird is the word!

    Chicken Tacos with Charred Tomatoes




    INGREDIENTS:

    • 4 medium tomatoes
    • 500g chicken breast, cut into small pieces
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
    • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 1 teaspon ground cumin
    • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
    • 1 chopped white onion
    • 4 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/8 cup pickled jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (to taste)
    • 2 teaspoons lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnish
    • ¼ – ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    • I bunch scallions, chopped
    • 6 small corn or flour tortillas
    • Cheddar cheese, grated (about ¼ cup per tortilla)
    • Sour cream or yoghurt as garnish.


    PREPARATION:

    1. Heat a medium skillet over high heat until very hot. Add tomatoes and cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until charred on all sides, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly, then chop.
    2. Cut chicken into 1-inch chunks; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 2 teaspoon oil to the pan and heat over high heat until very hot. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is browned and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
    3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining  2 teaspoons oil. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add lime juice, cumin, the chicken and tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and scallions.
    4. Heat small skillet and warm the tortilla on both sides. Put ¼ cup cheese on tortilla and heat until melted. Top with chicken mixture. Serve with lime wedges and dollup of sour cream or yoghurt on top. 

    Dal Tadka

    It’s all relative. When it comes to things like camping, I am not very adventurous. If we aren’t staying in a 5 star hotel, I am not pleased. But when it comes to food, you might as well call me Indiana Jones. I am happy to try any cuisine, be it from Ethiopia, Yemen, Korea, Sri Lanka, or anywhere really. I have eaten  from the (probably Hepatitis infected) Pani Puri stands on Chowpatty beach in Mumbai, to Gordon Ramsay’s elegant cuisine at Verre, and even tried garlic fried mealworms in my college Entomology class.
    I feel that food tastes even better when you are enjoying it with someone who shares your passion for it. So imagine my agony when I found out my true love did not share my same palate. He thought foie gras was foie-gross and unagi was u-nasty. And needless to say, he was horrified at the fried insect “snacks” from the food carts we saw in Bangkok.  
    After we got married, I tried to tempt him with my savory salmon cake draped with caviar and dill, or attempted to entice him with my Moroccan pumpkin tagine. But alas, he was not impressed. No matter what I did, it did not remind him of the taste of “home.”  Then I realized I was going about it all wrong. It wasn’t about being grandiose or fancy, it was more about simplicity and comfort and familiarity. And what would bring him that gustatory satisfaction? A mere dal chawal. Dal and rice. The most humble dish.
    At first I turned up my nose. Dal? That’s it?? But then I realized how perfect this simple dish was. All at once it was healthy, tasty, budget friendly, and finally with some training, easy to make. Because dal is so versatile, and there are so many varieties, nearly everyone makes it differently. So the last time I was in Lahore, my hubby’s talented sister showed me how they made it in their home. I stood by with a notebook in hand trying to jot down approximate measurements, and after a lot of practice, have made this dal so that even my picky Lahori munda asks for seconds.
    It’s funny how food really connects two people. Now after ten years of knowing each other, I can easily tuck into a hearty biryani at Daily Restaurant and he can have black cod with me at Nobu.  In fact, just the other day, we went to Laduree and he ordered the Madagascar chocolate macaron. After taking a bite, he looked at me, and said, “These are good. But yours are much better.”
    And he meant it. If that isn’t true love, then I don’t know what is. 


    Dal Tadka




    INGREDIENTS:

    1 cup Moong dal (rinsed – on left, see picture below)
    1 cup Masoor dal (rinsed – on right, see picture below)
    1 tsp salt (or to taste)
    1 tsp turmeric
    1 tsp red chili powder (to taste)
    1 tbsp grated garlic (to taste)
    1 tsp grated ginger
    2 small Indian red onions (finely sliced)
    2 small tomatoes (chopped finely)
    1-2 green chillis (optional)
    1 bunch fresh coriander (chopped finely)
    3 tbsp vegetable oil
    water
    PREPARATION:

    1.  Add in large pot:  Both Dals, Garlic, turmeric, chili powder and 6 cups water. Bring to boil. Lower heat to medium to medium high and partially cover. Check water level periodically and add additional water as it cooks. Cook for approximately 25 minutes.  (Dal is cooked after tasting,  it should be very soft and liquid is not clear.)
    2.  While dal cooks, chop vegetables. In separate hot skillet add 3 tbsp  oil. Add onion and cook until golden brown. Add ginger, then tomato, then green chilis (if using). Add coriander and fry until becomes a paste. You may have to add a little water so it doesn’t stick to pan. When all a paste, add into hot (already cooked )dal and mix.
    Serve with steamed basmati rice. Garnish with lemon if desired. Generously serves 4 people.

    NOTES:
    If you let this sit around for a bit before serving it, it tastes even better as the flavors come together. Dal tastes really good the next day, and is suitable for freezing.
    I also serve this to my babies. It is a bit spicy, so I usually add in a couple scoops of yogurt  to the dal and rice and blend it all together. You can also make a separate batch with no chili powder if your kids are very sensitive.
    This version is done on a stovetop instead of a pressure cooker since both my husband and I are afraid of pressure cookers exploding. Even with this stovetop method, from start to finish the whole process takes me about 45 minutes max.

    Breakfast Burrito and Salsa

    My baby has the most delicious thighs. Little pudgy rolls of yummy goodness. As I pulled him out of his highchair after breakfast today, a piece of strawberry and a couple of cheerios fell out from between his thigh rolls! At first I was amused. But then I silently prayed,  Oh God please don’t let me ever get that fat so that could happen to me.

    Truth be told, I did look at the positive side in case I did get in that condition. For example, suppose I had to work through lunch. Instead of starving, I could just lift up my skirt, give my leg a little shake,  and out would pop a pizza and a few fries. Pretty convenient, yes?  But no, the social and health problems would definitely outweigh (haha) any advantages.

    So, out of fear of raising the next generation of thunder thighs, I am always challenging myself to find healthy but tasty meals to feed my family.  Breakfast in particular has always been a hard meal for me to cook since I was never much of a breakfast person myself. I never knew what to make. Then one morning, I came up with this breakfast burrito with tomato salsa recipe that is extremely satisfying and my go-to recipe for when I’m stumped on what to cook. It is also versatile, you could eat it for any meal of the day, and it can even be made with store bought salsa if you are in a time crunch. 


    Easy Breakfast Burritos with Fresh Tomato Salsa  (Makes 2 Burritos)



    INGREDIENTS for Burritos:

    2 soft corn or flour tortillas
    ¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
    Prepared tomato salsa (recipe to follow)
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    Fresh black pepper and salt to taste
    Avocado, Sour Cream, Spring Onions for garnish

    PREPARATION:

    Heat a skillet on high, then coat skillet with cooking spray. Add the eggs, 2-3 tablespoons of salsa, and ¼ cup cheese. Add some fresh black pepper. Scramble all together until eggs scrambled and most of water is evaporated.  About 2 minutes. Keep aside and keep warm.

    Heat a clean skillet on high heat, then coat skillet with cooking spray.  Lower heat to medium and add tortilla and flip a couple times,  about 3 seconds per side until tortilla is hot.  Put ¼ cup cheese in a line down middle of tortilla and heat until cheese is melted.  Transfer tortilla to plate.  Immediately add half the egg mixture on top of the melted cheese and fold over both sides of the tortilla so it looks like a burrito. Top with salsa, sour cream, spring onions and avocado slices, or garnish as desired. Repeat whole process using rest of egg mixture and other tortilla.





    Fresh Tomato Salsa  (Makes approximately  1 ½ cups prepared salsa)


    INGREDIENTS:
    3-4 medium tomatoes
    1 small piece white onion  (approximately one square inch)
    1 small cilantro bunch (stems removed, about ½ cup)
    Few sprinkles Garlic powder
    2 – 3 slices pickled jalepeno (more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
    ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)

    PREPARATION:   Halve tomatoes and put in food processor (NOT blender)  with the rest of  ingredients. Pulse until desired consistency.  Adjust seasonings to taste.