Vegetarian Mexican delight..!

Guacamole

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Print

If there is one thing that Mr. A loves and can dish out personally, then it has to be that One-mean-Guacamole..!! He makes it sound like rocket science but going through our recipe here, you would realize that it is child’s play. Excellent as an evening dish. Completely vegetarian and easy to prepare. Traditionally used as a dip (along-with Nachos), you may just go ahead and eat it all out if you don’t have chips.

Ingredients

  1. Avocados – 2
  2. Green Chillies – 1
  3. Chopped Onion- 1 medium sized – required half
  4. Tomato – 1 medium size – required 3/4ths
  5. Coriander (Cilantro) – One fistful
  6. Lemon – Half
  7. Salt

Directions

Step One

Wash the avocados and scoop out the fruit into a steel or glass bowl. Discard the seed. Steel or glass bowl – because we need to mash the fruit with a masher or spoon and you don’t want to spoil or leave scratches on your non-stick or ceramic vessels.

Tip:

(a) Picking out Avocados can be tricky. In order to prepare a Guacamole, we need the fruit to be slightly ripe. Extra-ripe means the fruit has already darkened and softened beyond our taste and Under-ripe means that the fruit is very hard inside and we wouldn’t be able to scoop it out  completely. It wouldn’t even mash well. Picking the right fruit comes with experience of picking it several times. So don’t fret if you get it wrong the first time. The Avocado needs to press slightly when you buy it from the market.

(b) After scooping out the fruit do not leave it open for too long as Avocados have a tendency to darken when kept in the open just like Apples. The oxidation turns it brown. Hence we need to be quick here.

(c) Choice of Avocados is really important. I have personally experienced that Mexican or American Avocados taste better than the Kenyan or Ugandan ones. However, the former are thrice as expensive than the latter. 

Step Two

Mash the Avocados until they are slightly chunky. Do not over-mash them into a smooth pulp.

Step Three

(a) Take the Onion – half as suggested in the ingredient list and chop it finely. Do not leave big chunks.

(b) Similarly Chop 3/4th of  a Tomato into a similar size. Make sure of discarding/ draining the liquid and the seedy part of the tomato away.

(c) Take a fistful of Coriander and chop them into tiny pieces as well.

(d) Cut the single green chilli into tiny pieces.

Step Four

Empty the chopped Ingredients into the bowl where we have kept the Mashed avocados ready. Mix well to ensure consistency of the chopped ingredients spread all over the mashed avocados.

Step Five

Squeeze the juice out of half of the lemon into the mixture. This splash of acidity balances the richness of the Avocado.

Step Six

This is important. Avocados are bland. It doesn’t have a heavy flavor unlike all other fruits and in addition it is pretty heavy/rich. Hence, we need to supplement it with a good dose of salt. This could be more than what we use for preparing other foodstuffs and at the same time different people would have different tastes.

My suggestion would be to sprinkle a full tea-spoon of salt > Mix the mixture well > Taste it > Add more salt if you cannot taste the salt yet > Stop when you are satisfied.

Step Seven

Serve with some Nacho chips. If not, take that spoon and dig in..!

Tip:

(a) The most important aspect in preparing a Guacamole is “Ratio”. If any of the ingredients increases then it may result in a lop-sided flavor. So make sure that you don’t add extra tomatoes/onions/lemon juice or chillies. It HAS TO be just right. 

(b) One Avocado serves one person.

A south Indian shrimp recipe..!

Mangalorean Prawns Gassi

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

The south of India is well-known for its natural beauty and for the abundant availability of coconut plantations, especially having long coastlines. Needless to say coconut in its various forms like oil, milk, fresh and dried form is put to excellent use in its cuisine. The Manglorean Prawns Gassi is a recipe from the south of India which encompasses two important aspects of the region – Coconut and Sea-food! Since the months of August and September are the ones when the best shrimps are found here in the Middle East, I decided to make this curry with the best quality Raw materials available for the season.

Ingredients

  1. Prawns (de-veined and shelled)- 500 gms
  2. Cubed Potato- 1 cup
  3. Chopped Onion- 1 medium sized
  4. Coconut milk- ½ cup [1 tbsp of maggi coconut milk powder dissolved in water]
  5. Mustard Seeds- 1 tsp
  6. Oil- 1 tbsp
  7. Water
  8. Salt

For the masala paste:

  1. Coconut- 1 cup
  2. Ginger-garlic paste- 2 tbsp
  3. Onion- ½ cup
  4. Green chilli- 2
  5. Tamarind- small sized ball
  6. Red Chilli powder- 1tsp
  7. Coriander powder- 1 tsp
  8. Turmeric powder- ½ tsp

Directions

Step One

The first step would be to clean the prawns; remove the shell and de-vein them. Wash well for about 7 to 8 times.

Tip: Squeeze some lemon juice on the prawns and keep it aside to reduce the smell. Cleaning prawns calls for caution. For those who are doing this for the first time need to know that de-veining the prawns, removing the shells releases a smell that lingers in your kitchen and hands which you want to avoid. So make sure that you clean well and dispose the waste as soon as possible. 

Step Two

Grind the masala paste using coconut, onion, ginger-garlic paste, green chillies, tamarind, red chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder, with a little water to form a smooth paste. Keep aside.

Step Three

In a medium sized non-stick pot, take a spoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and allow it to splutter on medium heat. Then add the chopped onions and season with salt. Once the onion is golden brown, add the cubed potatoes and saute till it changes color. Add in the ground masala paste and allow it to cook. Simmer till the gravy starts to bubble and thicken.

Step Four

Add the clean prawns and some salt, as per taste. Add ½ cup of water and allow the prawns to cook for about 15 to 20 mins.

Step Five

Reduce the flame and now add ½ cup of coconut milk.

Tip: Coconut milk is likely to curdle/ split on high heat, so keep the flame low.

Step Six

Serve with some Jeera rice or plain rice or appams.

Keep Calm and Eat Meatballs..!!

Chilli Lime Meatballs

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Ingredients

  1. Minced chicken- 500 gms
  2. Spring onion- finely chopped- 1 cup
  3. Green Capsicum- finely chopped- 1 cup
  4. Cilantro- finely chopped-1 cup
  5. Green Chilli- finely chopped- 3 tsp
  6. Garlic powder- ½ tsp
  7. Lemon juice- 3 tsp
  8. Cheddar cheese- 3 tbsp
  9. Salt- as per taste
  10. Extra virgin Olive oil- 1 tbsp

For the Simple Guacamole/ Avocado base:

  1. Avocado- 1
  2. Lemon juice- 2 tsp
  3. Pepper
  4. Salt

Directions

Step One

Finely chop the capsicum, spring onion, cilantro and green chillies. In a mixing bowl, mix minced chicken, spring onion, capsicum, cilantro, garlic powder, cheddar cheese and green chillies. Add the lemon juice and salt, and mix it well

Step Two

Roll small sized balls of the chicken mix and keep it aside. Freeze it for about 15 mins so that the balls are well set.

Step Three

In a medium skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, place the balls carefully into the pan, cover the lid and cook for 15 mins on each side. Keep aside, once the meatballs are cooked.

Step Four

Wash and peel an avocado. Mash it into a pulp. Squeeze 2 tsp of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. The Avocado preparation can be used as an accompaniment. See Tip below.

Tips:

  1. Avocados are generally very bland and need external flavoring like salt. In fact, it needs a generous amount of salt. Add salt to the Avocados after measuring the amount of salt that you have already used in the meatballs and as per taste. This is so that you don’t over or under-utilize salt. 
  2. This is a simple Guacamole, more like mashed avocados. The usual and main ingredients of a Guac are missing in action here as we don’t want to take the attention away from the meatballs and maintain the balance of flavors here. We’ll do a separate post on how to make an Guacamole soon!  🙂

Step Five

Serve it as a starter or convert it into a low carb meal.

Vapiano – Bahrain

Last weekend, we decided to go shoe shopping for Mr. A at the City Center Mall (Bahrain). To our huge disappointment, we failed to find a pair for him that he would absolutely love. Nevertheless, that didn’t curb our hunger from taking us to Vapiano. Keep Reading..!

An Indo-Chinese Veg Rice preparation!

Hungry? Care to have 5,000 of something ? Try this Fried Rice recipe with all your favourite veggies..!!

Vegetable Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Ingredients

  1. Rice- 1½ cup
  2. Ginger-garlic paste- 1 tsp
  3. Finely chopped Onion- 2 medium sized
  4. Finely chopped Capsicum- ½ cup
  5. Finely chopped carrots- ½ cup
  6. Finely chopped beans- ½ cup
  7. Finely sliced Baby Corn- ½ cup
  8. Sweet Corn kernels- 1 cup
  9. Green Peas- ½ cup
  10. Oil- 1 tsp
  11. Vegetable Stock cube (Maggi)- 1 cube
  12. Soya sauce- 1 tbsp
  13. Pepper- 1 tbsp
  14. Salt

Directions

Step One

Cook the rice in about 3 to 4 cups of water for 15 to 20 mins. Add quarter tsp of salt. Once the rice is cooked, set it aside to cool.

Step Two

In a non-stick pot, heat 1 tsp of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 10 seconds on high heat till the raw smell disappears. Add the finely sliced baby corn; allow it to cook for about 10 mins.

Step Three

Simulataeneously, in a separate vessel, boil both green peas and sweet corn kernels with a pinch of salt. Once it is cooked, drain the green peas and sweet corn and set it aside.

Step Four

Once the baby corn is partly cooked, add the finely chopped beans and carrots. Saute for about 2 mins. Add in the cooked green peas and sweet corn. Then, add the finely chopped capsicum and onions. Add in the vegetable stock cube and season with pepper. Add a tablespoon of soya sauce.

Step Five

Add the cooked rice and mix well. Garnish with finely chopped spring onion (optional) and serve along with some Cauliflower or mushroom manchurian.

Tip: Fried rice must always be cooked on high flame to help retain the crunchiness of the vegetables. Squeeze ½ lemon or add salt to avoid the rice from getting mushy. A wok is the most appropriate vessel to make fried rice; alternatively use a pot. Couple the vegetable fried rice with some cauliflower (gobi) or mushroon Manchurian.

Blast of Italian flavour!

Are you craving some baked and bubbly cheese and meat? Here is a quick recipe for some simple Italian food with a spicy twist, using ingredients that are easily available in your kitchen. This low-carb recipe makes for about 10 to 12 Rollatini, happily serving your family a meal or an entrée for a party.  This is a dish that has made quite a few guests go “Wow!”

Italian Rollatini

  • Servings: 4 (12 pieces)
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Ingredients

  1. 1 Egg plant- Thinly sliced, lengthwise
  2. Extra virgin Olive oil- 1 or 2 tbsp
  3. Minced meat (or Italian sausage)- 2 cups
  4. Pickled Jalapeno slices- ½ cup
  5. 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  6. ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  7. 1 cup cream cheese
  8. Parsley- for garnish
  9. Spicy Marinara sauce
  10. Salt
  11. Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Step One

Slice the eggplant lengthwise (quarter inch thickness), to about 10 to 12 slices. Lightly salt the slices and leave it aside for about 10 mins. Remove the excess moisture released from the slices with a tissue paper. Once the eggplant slices are pat dried, brush or spray some olive oil on both sides, season with salt and grill both sides for about 10 mins. Remove the grilled slices and keep it aside to cool.

Step Two

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Step Three

In a medium skillet, heat some olive oil to brown the minced meat, for about 5 minutes on medium heat or until it is cooked. In case of using a sausage, use a wooden spoon to break it up as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the meat into a bowl. Once it cools, mix in the cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and some chopped jalapeno.

Step Four

Take a baking dish and create a base using the spicy marinara sauce. Roll up a grilled eggplant slice by placing a heaping tablespoon of the meat and jalapeno filling in the center; repeat the process to form 10 to 12 rolls.  Place the rolls in rows, seam-side down into a baking dish. Put a teaspoon of marinara sauce on each roll. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese on the rolls. Place a slice of jalapeno on each roll. Bake for around 20 minutes; until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

Step Five

Garnish with some parsley and serve.

Please Note: The Rollatini is a dish that is slightly on the heavier side. If you are planning this as a part of the menu, then make sure that the other dishes are chosen accordingly.

Preparing this dish can get slightly messy as the egg-plant and cheese need to hold up together.

Egg-plant can be replaced by Zucchini for those of you who are looking for other options.

Make sure that the dish is served and consumed while it is hot. On cooling, the cheese may harden and reduce the “burst-of-flavour” impact that it usually has.

Fishy ..!

August 3- My husband’s birthday.

It was the first time we were together in one place for his birthday, and so, I decided to surprise him with a small family get-together. Amidst all the tension of a successful surprise, happy guests, smiling faces, balloons and a wonderful evening, I managed to COOK. Sure to be a family favorite, I decided to serve Chilli Fish as one of the items on his special day.

Chilli Fish

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Gather round the dining table and feed your family with this fresh, home-cooked dish that serves around four or more. Here is an easy version of this recipe.

Ingredients

  • Fish Cubes – 500 gms
  • Maida (plain flour) – 4 tbsp
  • Cornflour – 4 tbsp
  • Green chilli – 3 or 4
  • Soya sauce – 2tsp
  • Ketchup- 2 tsp
  • Spring onion – 3 tsp
  • Capsicum – 1 small
  • Ginger garlic paste – 3 tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder – 2 tbsp
  • Pepper powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Egg – 1
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water
  • Oil

Directions

  1. Marinate the fish cubes with maida, cornflour, ginger garlic paste, pepper powder, chilli powder, salt & egg.
  2. Keep the marinated mixture for 20-30 mins and thereafter, deep-fry the fish pieces.
  3. In a separate pan, heat some oil.
  4. Add garlic- ginger paste, green chilli, capsicum.
  5. After that add the fish pieces.
  6. Add soya sauce, tomato ketchup & stir. Add some water, if required.
  7. Garnish with spring onions.

Vegetarian appetizer 

Weekends are a prefect time to host friends for dinner. However, this dinner plan was rather interesting as it was going to be a complete vegetarian menu. I spent days thinking what the menu should look like. After a couple of hours of serious contemplation, I remembered the Subz Kadak Seekh Kabab that I had at Sahib Sindh Sultan Restaurant in India. Voila, I got my first starter..!

Vegetable Seekh Kebab

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Finely chopped French Beans- 1/2 cup
  • Finely chopped Cabbage- 1/2 cup
  • Finely chopped Carrots- 1/2 cup
  • Corn kernels- 1/4 cup
  • Green peas- 1/4 cup
  • Ginger- garlic paste- 1 tbsp
  • Green Chilli paste- 1 tbsp
  • Boiled and mashed Potatoes- 2 medium sized
  • Finely chopped Coriander Leaves- 1/4 cup
  • Caraway seeds (shahi jeera)- 1 tsp
  • Gram Flour- 2 tbsp or as per requirement
  • Oil- 1 tbsp
  • Salt- to taste

Directions

Step One

Boil the medium sized potatoes in a pressure cooker. Keep aside till it cools a bit and then peel the potatoes. Roughly mash the peeled potatoes and keep it aside.

Tip: The potatoes should be mashed before it cools down completely; the potatoes need not be smoothly mashed.

Step Two

Take a medium sized pan and heat a teaspoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, crackle a teaspoon of Caraway seeds. Add Ginger- garlic and green chilli paste.

Tip: Excess oil can alter the dryness of the kabab. This Kabab is shallow fried with very less oil.

Step Three

Once the rawness of the ginger-garlic paste reduces, add all the finely chopped vegetables and saute till it is cooked. Season with Salt. Keep aside for a while till this mix cools down.

Step Four

Coarsely grind the cooked vegetables and check for seasoning.

Step Five

In a small sized skillet, roast 2 tablespoons of gram flour on medium heat, so that you get a nutty flavor.

Tip: Use medium heat while roasting the flour as it may burn quickly. Increase or decrease gram flour as per the requirement to roll the kababs into a tight shape.

Step Six

In a bowl, mix the coarsely ground vegetables, mashed potatoes and gram flour. Add more salt, if required. Roll the kababs into any shape, either into small flattened balls or cylindrical rolls. Lighly brush some oil on a skillet and fry the kababs.

Step Seven

Serve the kababs with either ketchup or green chutney.

Green delight!.. with some chicken!

Summer has kicked in.. What better to have than a refreshing Caesar’s salad. This is again Mr. A’s favorite salad. Since I had no mayonnaise in my kitchen, I managed to find my own variation of the recipe, with Cream Cheese. I was skeptical about this variation but the end result was perfect..!

Chicken Ceasar's Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium romaine lettuce
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Parmesan (to sprinkle)
  • 5 tbsp cream cheese
  • Croutons
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Drizzle some olive oil. Place pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Lay the chicken on the pan and cook for 4 mins on either sides.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, minced garlic, olive oil. Add one or two tbsp water, if the mix is too thick.
  3. Cut lettuce into medium pieces and put in a large bowl. Once the chicken cools, cut it into thin, long slices.
  4. Add most of the dressing and toss the salad. Scatter the croutons, then drizzle with the remaining dressing. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and serve immediately.

Spicy Couscous and Chicken

In my attempt to have a healthy, nutritious meal with my family, here is a simple one-pot dinner recipe.

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 900 g diced chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 cup couscous
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 375ml (1 1/2 cups) boiling water
  • 1 finely chopped capsicum
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced cabbage
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 thin sliced onion
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander
  • Lemon juice, to taste

Directions

  1. Marinate chicken pieces in the spices, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook till its about half done.
  2. Add onion, garlic, veggies and chicken stock. Cover and cook  for 25 mins until the chicken is tender.
  3. Add the couscous. Stir and cook till the liquid absorbed.
  4. Garnish with coriander leaves.