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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Beet Lentil Feta Burger Patties

Beet Lentil Feta Burger Patties ethiopian mesir wat zelbo gomen leftovers vegetarian

It is comforting to recognize that I've always liked leftovers. Many fond memories surround the "new" foods I tried as a kid-- foods, as it turns out, that were reconstituted and repackaged leftovers, thanks to my mom who is quite adept at making dishes even more attractive each time she "recycled" them. No wastage in her kitchen.

And, no wastage in mine either. Although I tend to primarily serve portioned plated meals most of the time, there are some weekends that call for family-style meals to be savored over a couple of days.

The recent Injera bash with five sides certainly guaranteed some leftovers, which thrilled me to bits as I can find ways to repackage them.

Leftover Mesir wat (lentils), Zelbo gomen (kale), Yeqey Sir Qiqqil (beets) were perfect starting point.

Add in some leftover brown rice, some feta, and already it screams "Veggie Burger".

Since the leftover mesir wat and gomen can be a bit watery, best to strain out the liquids first, then add the brown rice and feta, minced garlic, and a generous sprinkling of berbere spice mix. Gently pulse to a coarse mass.

It still might need a binding agent to hold it all together. While eggs seem like the standard, I don't typically use it in my patties and cutlets.

So, I went with my favorite Coconut Flour.

kale flower home gardenMix in just enough coconut flour to be able to shape the patties. Just for fun, some Panko breadcrumbs got pressed in till the patties were happy to hold their shape.

Pan-cooking them first to seal both sides and then baking them till firmly set seems to work well for me, but, if preferred, can grill it or pan cook it all the way through.

Who needs buns? Patties are perfect by themselves.

I can't seem to ignore the kale flowers from my garden, they sneak into every food photo I've clicked since they bloomed. They are short-lived, of course, so, soon there won't be any, but at least I'll have these pictures to make me smile when I miss them.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera alicha wat berbere mekelesha mitmita

Much like the various Masala Spice Powders of India, I enjoy learning about the various spice mixes in cuisines around the world.

Having made Ethiopian foods for nearly a dozen years now, my go-to reference has been Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D.J. Mesfin.

While the book does not have gorgeous food photos, and the instructions are somewhat loose, I like the Society, Culture, Hospitality & Traditions explained in the introduction, as well as the cooking methods and general tips for "doing it right".

And, nothing beats tasting the foods at Ethiopian restaurants and getting a feel for its flavors and presentation.

The three main spice mix that I like to use are Mitmita, Mekelesha, and, of course, the most popular Berbere, which can be made into a paste rather than a powdery spice mix.

Mitmita is fiery hot spice mix that uses super hot chilies, along with the warmth and comfort of cardamom and cloves. A small dash of this goes a long way in stews/wats.

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera alicha wat berbere mekelesha mitmita

Mekelesha, made with a blend of 7 spices, reminds me of a combination of my favorite South Indian Sambar powder and Northeast Indian Panch Phoron spices. A combination of cumin, Indian cinnamon, cardamom, long pepper (aka pippili), nigella, ajwain/caraway, cloves and nutmeg bring a rich confluence of aroma and flavors to this mix.

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera alicha wat berbere mekelesha mitmita

Berbere, the staple Ethiopian spice mix, is not necessarily a set-in-stone recipe, much like the Sambar and Rasam powders of South India or the Garam masala and Curry powder that are popular all over India. The bright red color from paprika, plus, some chili powder, nigella, ajwain, fenugreek all add up to a fantastic base to flavor many of the Ethiopian dishes that accompany the soft and spongy injeras.

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera alicha wat berbere mekelesha mitmita

Every once in a while, I get these as ready-made mixes from Ethiopian store nearby, where I am told it is sold fresh in small batches so they don't sit on the shelf and grow stale. If I run out of store-bought, I make my own, and for sure each batch comes out a bit different from the previous one, and that's okay as I vary the proportions and don't measure out exactly anyway.

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera alicha wat berbere mekelesha mitmita

For a weekend dinner, Injera with a few sides is quite a satisfying spread. I went with 5 easy sides, along with Yedagussa Injera which is typically made with millet flour, but this time I did equal parts millet + all purpose flour.

Though Injeras are usually made with tef flour, they can be made with chickpea flour, buckwheat, millet, rye, spelt flours, even corn and rice flours. The consistency of the finished pancake will differ in texture and thickness, of course.

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera

Pretty much all of these recipes below are already shared in this blog over the years, so, am just linking to those. Of course, each time, I vary the proportions a bit and the dish comes out just a bit different and that is fine.

Yekik Alicha: Split Pea Sauce. Only, I used split pigeon peas (aka Tuvar dal, in India)

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera yekik alicha mesir wat yabesha gomen

Mesir Wat: Lentils stew using Berbere

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera yekik alicha mesir wat yabesha gomen

Zelbo Gomen: Kale Stew using Mekelesha, cooked much like Y'abesha Gomen

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera yekik alicha mesir wat yabesha gomen

Yeqey Sir Qiqqil: Boiled Beets in Lemon Vinaigrette

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera yekik alicha mesir wat yabesha gomen

Ayib BeMit'Mit'a: Spiced Cottage Cheese, using Mitmita

Ethiopian Spiced Stews with Injera ayib bemitmita cottage cheese

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Green Jackfruit Taquitos

Green Jackfruit Taquitos

Growing up with young green jackfruit as part of a vegetarian diet, I never gave it much thought, never felt it was supposed to be exotic or that it had the potential to stand in for meat. It was a fantastic element to be relished on its own right, especially in south Indian style cuisine that I was nurtured on.

There are quite a few jackfruit recipes shared here so far, and I've been finding ways to use them in more unconventional dishes as well.

Jackfruit is quite popular in Asian cuisine, especially in Indian cuisine. Not just the ripe fruit used for desserts, and chips, but particularly the young green jackfruit that is treated as a vegetable.

My mom's specialty is "Idi Chakkai" - a Palakkad term for smashed young green jackfruit dish flavored with coconut and chilies, and tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. I could not have enough of it when I was young.

Jackfruit seed - nicknamed "jacknut" - is another favorite at home, quite a special treat, even though tons of these get discarded every jackfruit season.

Green Jackfruit Taquitos

The raw green jackfruit when smashed into coarse chunks have the texture of shredded chicken. Being mild in flavor, these raw green jackfruit chunks lend themselves to a variety of deep flavoring, and quite easily make a good meat imitator.

In local Asian grocery stores, various brands of canned young green jackfruit are available at a reasonable price. I prefer the ones canned in water rather than in brine. But, the brined ones are not too salty so they work well insavory dishes.

I've sauteed them with a light coating of barbecue sauce and used them as pizza toppings, and in Sloppy Joes.

In this taquitos recipe, the green jackfruit is flavored with Taco Seasoning and used as a filling with beans and cheese to make scrumptious taquitos. Simply add beans cheese and seasoned green jackfruit into a corn tortilla, roll it up and bake it, or pan fry it.

Green Jackfruit Taquitos

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fattoush with Grape Molasses, Fenugreek, and Mango Powder

Fattoush with Grape Molasses, Fenugreek, and Mango Powder

Mediterranean foods are perfect for Spring and Summer... well, any time of the year, really, but as fresh produce is abundant around this time of the year, it makes it all the more easier to serve up these bursting-with-goodness options.

Fattoush is a wonderfully fresh salad if one can get the traditional spices, but, suitable substitutions are fine with me. I tend to go MediterrAsian or MediterrIndian with the spices that are handy.

Coating the pita with olive oil and lightly pan-frying them is an extra step I do sometimes to prevent the pita from soaking up the vinaigrette and ending up a soggy mess.

Grape Molasses, one of the original sweeteners, is still a favorite for me, especially in vinaigrettes. I try to keep an extra jar in my pantry, as these are not easy to find in the regular grocery stores. While I don't actively hunt for ethnic ingredients, I can't pass them up when I find them at specialty stores around town that I manage to visit on and off.

MedirrIndian Fattoush Dressing:
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon, plus its lemon zest
2 Tbsp grape molasses
1 Tbsp finely pressed/minced garlic
½ tsp dried mint leaves
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
¼ tsp dried mango powder
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, maybe a bit more...
salt to taste

For the salad:
English cucumbers (or burpless Persian cucumbers if available)
cherry or grape tomatoes
seedless red or black grapes
kalamata olives
scallions or red onions or both, thinly sliced
whole wheat pita bread, or naan

Served here with leftover Fenugreek Sesame Oregano Cumin Stuffed Eggplant, plus some wholewheat pita slices, and those gorgeous kale flowers that I am determined to enjoy for the short couple of weeks that they grace my garden.

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Saturday, May 06, 2017

Black Bean Hummus

Black Bean Hummus Dip

Cinco de Mayo is always fun, especially when it is close to a weekend, extending the party.

This black bean "hummus" dip is easy to whip up if using canned black beans. I usually have a stash of pressure cooked beans in the freezer, not just black beans, but pinto, mayo coba, chickpeas, kidney beans, white beans... plus, home-made refried beans as well, so kids can make a quick burrito for themselves.

Nothing fancy here, just used black beans instead of chickpeas, and followed my usual hummus method using garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and cilantro instead of parsley.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Fenugreek Sesame Oregano Cumin Stuffed Eggplant

Fenugreek Sesame Oregano Cumin Stuffed Eggplant delectable victuals

There is something beautiful in the shapely elegance, the careless asymmetry, and the deep velvety purpleness of the Eggplant that has always attracted me.

Of course, having grown these beauties at home for almost a decade now, and knowing that not all of them are purple (think orange!), and not all of them sport the same uniform looks, I'd like to think that their differences add to their charm, for sure.

They are not always in season, and I try to eat local, so, it doesn't always work out that I find the right eggplant for the price and origin I am comfortable with. But, when I found these young Black Bells at the market, I couldn't pass them up.

Stuffing vegetables is always fun, mixing up the spices and grains to suit the mood and the vegetable at hand:

Bitter gourd,

Bitter melon,

Ridge gourd,

Snake gourd,



Danish Squash,

Acorn Squash,

Scallop Squash,

 Bell Peppers,

Brussels sprouts,


Sweet Potato Skins,

Portobello Mushrooms,

and of course, Eggplant!

This time, I wanted to bring in the goodness of fenugreek and sesame to the mix. Simmered in a tomato-based sauce, these slit-and-stuffed eggplants were quite a treat, enjoyed even more as leftovers when flavors have had a chance to settle.

The kale in my garden has matured, flowered and gone to seed. Kale flowers get sprinkled on salads when they are handy in the garden. They make a fun garnish for spicy dishes, bringing in their sunny yellow to the dish.

Fenugreek Sesame Oregano Cumin Stuffed Eggplant

Medium eggplants that are easy to slit and stuff
Salt to taste

For the spice mix powder:
1 Tbsp sesame seeds (white or black is fine, I went with white)
2 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
1 Tbsp dry oregano leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 dry red chilies

For the sauce/gravy to simmer in:
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped tomatoes
6 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp grated ginger
2 Tbsp raw almonds, soaked in water for about 10 minutes


  1. Slit the eggplant cross-wise, like a plus sign, to separate out the quarters, but still held intact at the stem-end
  2. Rub the insides of the eggplant with some salt and let it sit
  3. Grind the spice mix to a powder; stir some of it with some oil to make a paste
  4. Slather this paste into the slits of the eggplant
  5. Grind the sauce ingredients to a fine paste
  6. Heat some oil in a pan, add this paste and a pinch of salt, saute till rawness of onions is gone
  7. Add some water and stir well to make a slightly runny sauce consistency, then, place the slit-and-stuffed eggplants into this runny sauce, cover the pan, and allow to simmer till eggplants are cooked and the sauce thickens
  8. Turn the eggplant partway, carefully, so, all sides get cooked evenly while still retaining their wholeness
  9. Serve warm with naan or basmati rice

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Refreshing Cucumber Mango Sweet Potato Salad

Refreshing Cucumber Mango Sweet Potato Salad

Come spring, I start dreaming about the various fresh vegetables that will start rolling into the market as the season progresses... and the salads I can make with them.

This refreshing cucumber mango salad is marinated in a zesty lime vinaigrette for that extra burst of flavor. Semi-ripe and firm mangoes that are not mushy work best for this salad as they bring the tangy-sweet flavor.

Sweet potatoes are optional, but, since the older child loves them, it gives another dimension to the salad with its texture, and its mildly sweet flavor.

English cucumber, diced chunky
Seedless red grapes, halved lengthwise
Grape or cherry snack tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Celery stalk with leaves, coarsely chopped
Kale leaves, ribboned
Orange bell pepper, diced
Semi-ripe but firm mango, sliced
Shallots or purple onions, sliced thinly

Lemon-Lime Sweet Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp ground paste of fresh jalapeno and cilantro**
1 Tbsp cilantro chopped finely for garnish
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chives
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 garlic clove squeezed through garlic press
6 Tbsp hazelnut oil or walnut oil
salt to taste

**Pulse some fresh cilantro leaves, some fresh de-seeded jalapeno, some oil and apple cider vinegar to make a coarse paste

  1. Massage the kale ribbons with some olive oil and let them sit 
  2. Combine the cucumbers, mango, celery, bell peppers, onions and toss with some salt and the cilantro-jalapeno paste from the step above; allow to marinate while assembling the rest
  3. Pan-roast the sweet potatoes and allow to cool before tossing into the salad
  4. Stir together the vinaigrette ingredients, adjust to taste
  5. Serve layered or tossed, with feta or goat cheese, if preferred

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Melomakarona-Inspired Honey Orange Walnut Cupcakes

Melomakarona-Inspired Honey Orange Walnut Cupcakes

Cakes not being my favorite, I rarely make them unless the kids ask for it as a treat on birthdays and other special holidays. So far, they've preferred the simple hearty flax-bran-loaded muffins or fruit tartlets or mini pies that I offer as desserts anytime they feel like having a sweet treat.

When I do make a few different kinds of sweets on and off, of course, fruit pies turn out to be one of the top favorites, especially during the berry season when we pick berries from local farms, and later in fall when apples and peaches and cherries rain from the sky.

Cupcakes being my daughter's favorite pastime, along with cake pops -- dreaming up the varieties and drooling over pictures of them in books and web -- I end up making a few with her, based on her current choice.

Speaking of cake pops, and birthdays, she made these Shaun and Shirley cake pops along with some oddly crazy chicks for her brother's birthday. As cloying as I find the candy melts for cake pops, it seems like an easy, quick, satisfying treat that kids can make and decorate on their own. Less work for me, and I don't have to eat it anyway. Microwave Mug Cakes are the easiest to make, which can then be used to make the cake pops.

cake pops sheep shaun ahirley

Back to the Honey Orange Walnut cupcakes, this time, it was the Greek delicacy Melamakarona that inspired them. Honey and Citrus. Fresh and sweet for a springtime indulgence.

Drizzling some freshly squeezed orange juice mixed with honey onto the cupcakes before serving make them moist, almost juicy. The cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg add that warmth and sweetness that enhances the sense of indulgence.

Typically, I don't have self-rising flour handy, so, I mix a small batch every time a recipe calls for it: simply mix 1 cup flour, with 1½ tsp baking powder, plus ¼ tsp salt.

3/4 cup self-rising flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8th tsp ground cloves
1/8th tsp ground nutmeg
5 Tbsp softened unsalted butter
2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
⅓ cup superfine sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp orange zest
¼ cup minced/chopped walnut pieces
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Melomakarona-Inspired Honey Orange Walnut Cupcakes


  1. Sift the Dry ingredients into a small bowl
  2. Beat the Wet ingredients until light and fluffy
  3. Fold in the dry ingredients into the whipped wet ingredients and mix gently till well incorporated
  4. Spoon into muffin cups
  5. Bake in a 375°F oven for about 20 minutes
  6. Remove from oven, allow to cool a bit, then prick the cupcakes with a toothpick so it can hold the drizzled toppings
  7. Topping: Stir the honey, cinnamon, and orange juice till well blended, and drizzle spoonfuls on each cupcake; sprinkle minced walnuts and serve warm or chilled

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Fiery Charred Szechuan-inspired Eggplant

Fiery Charred Szechuan-inspired Eggplant

It is no secret that I love eggplant. I may not make eggplant dishes every day, but, when it is in season, I bring home as many varieties as I can find at the market, plus I grow my own favorites in the garden every year when it gets warm enough in these parts: Ichiban, Black beauty, Cloud Nine, Casper, and some heirloom varieties that I can find.

Any variety will be fine for this recipe. The sauce glaze is fairly standard as well. The extra step that boosts this recipe is the initial brining, and then charring over open flame a bit before braising in the sauce.

Brine: ¼ cup salt in 4 cups water
1 medium globe eggplant, cut into thick pieces lengthwise

2 Tablespoon dry white wine
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp Zhenjiang vinegar
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp Nam Prik Pow if available, or Sambal oelek

Chopped Thai red chilies, sweet red bell peppers
4 to 6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sesame oil


  1. Soak the eggplant slices in brine while assembling the other ingredients, for about 15 minutes
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a pot, add the garlic and chilies and peppers and saute till aromatic
  3. Add the sauce ingredients and allow it to simmer
  4. Remove eggplant from brine, pat dry and char it over over flame: I use my roti grill for flame roasting
  5. Drop the charred/flame roasted eggplant in the simmering sauce, cover and allow to cook over low heat for slow braising
  6. Remove the lid when eggplant is mostly done but still firm, not mushy, toss it well till sauce thickens
  7. Serve warm with steamed rice

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Southwest Rice Stuffed Red Peppers

Southwest Rice Stuffed Red Peppers

Stuffed vegetables are always fun. And, not just vegetables, anything that lends itself well to stuffing seems a fair game.

Millet and Lentils Stuffed Golden Danish Squash is a particular favorite in autumn when these dainty squashes flood the local farm markets.

Kohlrabi Greens Dolma Bites is another favorite, especially during the Kohlrabi season when local farms and CSA showcase these lovely bulbs aka enlarged stems above the soil.

Stuffed Kohlrabi in Coconut Cream Sauce is another seasonal favorite much relished by the adults in the house

Stuffed Okra might be an acquired taste for some, but, it seems like another favorite at home.

Zucchini Mahshi, inspired by Lebanese-cuisine, is an easy summer favorite of stuffed zucchini served in a spicy sauce.

Nutty Fruity Rice-Stuffed Swiss Chard Dolmas are perfect when these lovely greens are in season in my home garden.

Anyway, the stuffing this time was rice, flavored with Southwest-inspired spices and vegetables -- corn, black beans, red peppers, onions, ancho chilies with some Taco seasoning mix.

Southwest Rice Stuffed Red Peppers

Brush the red peppers with oil and roast them in the oven for a short time, then stuff with rice and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Finally, top with some mozzarella and Parmesan and broil right before serving.

Southwest Rice Stuffed Red Peppers

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Parmesan Cheese-crusted Roasted Zucchini

Parmesan Cheese-crusted Roasted Zucchini

Zucchini "Pizza", much like Cheesy Eggplant Pizza, is a quick and easy side, sometimes the main dish, for the adults, kids are not quite into it. Yet.

Some tender zucchini were at the market at a good price, although it feels too early for zucchini in these parts it looks like they are yielding fine elsewhere.

Slice them up, brush with oil and pan sear them first. Much like Charred Summer Squash with Pipián Rojo. Then, spread some sauce and top with Parmesan or Smoked Gouda or other favorite cheese and broil for a few minutes and serve warm

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is a top favorite for the adults in the household, not the kids. Not yet. And, while Chicken Parmesan is enjoyed much by all but me, I do not make it often, mainly due to the labor involved.

This time, these easy Skillet Chicken Parmesan pleased the kids and the other adult taste-wise and suited me fine labor-wise.

Thinly sliced chicken breasts are breaded and pan cooked and then finished off in the same hot skillet, with oozing mozzarella for the stringy goodness.

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

2 chicken breasts, sliced thin, and cut in half if preferred, and marinated in red wine vinegar
Flour for dusting, egg white and Panko/breadcrumbs for coating
Tomato sauce
Parmesan, grated,
Mozzarella, thinly sliced
Olive oil as needed

  1. Drain and pat dry the marinated chicken, dust with flour, dip in egg whites and press into a plate of Panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan or coating
  2. Heat oil in a skillet, cook the chicken till crisp on both sides, remove and keep handy
  3. In the same hot skillet, add the tomato sauce, layer with some sliced mozzarella, add the chicken, place more mozzarella slices on top, cover and simmer till mozzarella melts
  4. Finish off under the broiler if preferred to get the cheese browned and crispy

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Chicken Xacuti

Chicken Xacuti Chacuti de Galinha Goan chicken curry

Almost a decade ago I spent a short few days in Goa, India, leaving much of the place to be explored on a later trip that hasn't materialized yet.

Possibly due to the tropical biodiversity and the cultural amalgam, Goa has a rich cuisine that was shaped by 400 years of Portuguese colonialism with nuts from Brazil, plus tomatoes, potatoes, chilies, as well as the locally abundant coconut which graces almost all savory curries.

Chicken Xacuti ("sha-kooti"), aka Chacuti de Galinha, is a Goan chicken curry with layers of flavors thoughtfully incorporated to tease and satisfy the palate, especially for the curry-lovers.

The dry roasted spices ground to a powder, plus the masala paste ground to a thick rich consistency with a base of onions, ginger, garlic and tomato combine to form a delectable gravy in which the marinated chicken piece are cooked till tender and juicy.

Instead of chicken, prawns or fish can be substituted with the same curry paste gravy.

The dry spices: coriander, cumin. caraway, poppy seeds, black peppercorns, star anise, Indian cinnamon bark

Chicken Xacuti Chacuti de Galinha Goan chicken curry

For the masala paste: Ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and coconut

Chicken Xacuti Chacuti de Galinha Goan chicken curry

Rub the chicken with turmeric powder and marinate in yogurt while getting the spices and masala paste ready.

2 chicken breasts, chopped, rubbed with turmeric powder, marinated in plain yogurt

Dry spices:
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 Tbsp black peppercorns
3-inch piece of Indian cinnamon bark
1 star anise
½ tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp poppy seeds

Masala paste:
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
8 to 10 cloves of garlic
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 medium tomato chopped

2 Tbsp coconut oil
4 to 6 Tbsp coconut cream or coconut milk

  1. Heat some coconut oil in a pot, add the masala paste and saute till aromatic
  2. Drain and add the marinated chicken pieces and stir to incorporate well
  3. When chicken is mostly cooked, stir in some of the dry ground spices
  4. Finally, as an option, add a few tablespoons of coconut cream to enhance the tropical flavors
  5. Serve warm with steamed plain basmati rice or naan

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Sunday, April 02, 2017

Kale and Southwest Veggies Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Israeli Cous Cous

Kale and Southwest Veggies Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Israeli Cous Cous ptitim

Simple saute of kale with southwest blend veggies like onions, peppers, corn, black beans, and maybe some mushrooms, is versatile as a base for many other dishes.

A good helping of this sauteed veggie blend wrapped in home-made rotis makes a fantastic lunch. And the leftovers come in handy for this chicken dish.

chicken breast, boneless skinless, thinly sliced
some red wine vinegar and Bragg Liquid Aminos for marinating

Veggies blend: Kale, corn, black beans, onions, red peppers, ancho chilies, mushroom, sun-dried tomatoes

Spices: either store-bought cajun seasoning or home-blend of favorite spices

A few tablespoon oil for pan-cooking

Ptitim, aka Israeli Cous Cous

Some toothpicks

  1. Thinly slice a medium chicken breast into three slices, pound to uniform thickness as needed 
  2. Marinate in some red wine vinegar and Bragg liquid aminos for a few hours to overnight 
  3. Saute the veggies with spices and keep handy
  4. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium low heat
  5. Assembly: Place a scoop of the sauteed veggies on a marinated thin slice of chicken breast; roll it up, pulling in the sides, and secure with toothpicks so it doesn't unravel while cooking
  6. Gently arrange the stuffed chicken breasts on the hot skillet, cover and allow to cook over medium heat till the bottom is seared and the inside is cooked
  7. Flip gently and cook the other side as well until the thickest part registers 165 ° F
  8. Cover and allow to rest before serving with cooked cous cous

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pan-Seared Yellow Eye Rockfish Infused with Hibiscus Tea and Tamarind

Pan-Seared Yellow Eye Rockfish Infused with Hibiscus Tea and Tamarind

Another small portion of the Alaskan Yellow Eye rockfish was in the freezer, caught by the other adult last summer.

For over half a dozen years now, I have been savoring hibiscus tea made with dried hibiscus flowers as my beverage of choice for a relaxing evening. I've used the thick steeped hibiscus tea for home-dyeing of small fabric projects with the kids.

While making the thick gravy-ish sauce/topping for the pan-seared yellow eye, I decided to incorporate some of the lovely flavor (and color!) of the hibiscus tea that I had steeping handily in the tea pot.

Some fresh baby kale leaves and arugula leaves from the home-garden was rubbed with a hint of olive oil and sprinkled with a dash of lime juice to make a quick side salad.

½ onion, diced
6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large tomato, chopped

½ cup thick rich hibiscus tea
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon tamarind paste
salt to taste

2 Tablespoons olive oil

fairly thin fish fillets, thawed and ready to cook

  1. Grind the onions, garlic, and tomato to a coarse paste
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil, add the paste, some salt, and saute
  3. Add some hibiscus tea and saute some more till the grave is rich and aromatic
  4. Rub the fish fillets with salt, cayenne pepper, and tamarind paste
  5. In another pan, heat another tablespoon of oil and add the fish fillets
  6. Flip when bottom side is golden brown, and a dash of balsamic vinegar and hibiscus tea
  7. Cook till fish is done

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Blanched Long Green Beans with Sambal Oelek

Blanched Long Green beans with Sambal Oelek

Long Green Beans are a favorite from childhood, especially the Indian-style with coconut and chilies.

This time, after blanching or steaming, just saute with some Sambal Oelek and serve warm as-is or with a side of Basmati rice

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Ptitim with Mushrooms and Peppers

Cous-cous israeli Ptitim with Mushrooms and Peppers

For the last month or so, I have been resorting to comfort foods like the usual soups and stews and casseroles. Plus, the usual round of viral influenza had us down one after the other, so, nothing exciting in the kitchen...

Now that Spring is in the air, and my kale and arugula have tender baby leaves perfect for a quick side salad, it felt like a good time to cook up simple and wholesome meals.

Ptitim, sometimes known as Israeli cous cous, has large pearls which when cooked al dente makes a fine accompaniment for sauteed or stir-fried veggies.

This time, I went with mushroom, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and kale, lightly flavored with Balsamic Vinegar and Bragg Liquid Aminos.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nopales, Chayote, Green Papaya Warm Salad

Nopales, Chayote, Green Papya Warm Salad

Nopales -- prickly pear cacti paddles -- was available in the Mexican market nearby, so I decided to cook it up in a quick and simple way.

Nopales is better when boiled in water for 5 to 7 minutes and then drained and rinsed before incorporating in recipes. It can get quite gummy and slimy otherwise.

Nopales, Chayote, Green Papya Warm Salad

Chop up the chayote and green papaya and some onions, plus some favorite seasoning and cook in a pan till mostly done. I went with Blazin' Blends New Orleans Seafood Seasoning Mix this time.

Meanwhile, boil the chopped nopales with a dash of salt for 5 minutes or so, drain and rinse to remove stickiness.

Add the drained cooked nopales to the pan and continue cooking till all the veggies are cooked tender but not mushy. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve warm garnished with chopped colorful peppers and spring onions.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Chicken

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Chicken

Nothing fancy or elaborate, just canned Chipotle in adobo sauce brings the flavor and slow cooker does the rest.

Add the onions, peppers, garlic, and chicken into the slow cooker, season with a dash of salt and brown sugar.

Blend the can of chipotle in adobo sauce and keep it handy. When chicken is part-way cooked, say after an hour or so in the slow cooker, add enough the chipotle sauce (to taste) and slow cook for another hour or till chicken is cooked through and the flavors meld.

Serve with fresh home-made corn tortillas or naan or home-made flour-tortillas or even brown basmati rice.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Stir-fried Portobello Mushrooms

Stir-fried Portobello Mushrooms tamari asian fusion

A simple stir fry with some custom-made marinade/sauce. Snap peas, peppers and onions add body and flavor to the meaty texture of the portobello mushrooms.

Ingredients for marinade/stir-fry sauce:
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp coconut sugar (or agave nectar)
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp water

Stir together the marinade/sauce ingredients and pour over the veggies, allow to marinate for 10 minutes or so. Then, heat a cast iron skillet or wok to high heat, add a tablespoon of sesame oil, then add in the marinated veggies with all the marinade; stir on and off till crisp-tender.

Serve on a bed of arugula, or with brown basmati rice.

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Teriyaki Halibut with Sauteed Garlic Gai Lan

Teriyaki Halibut with Sauteed Garlic Gai Lan gai lon chinese broccoli

Asian grocery store nearby had fresh Gai Lan (aka Gailon aka Chinese Broccoli) which is immensely tasty when sautéed with ginger and garlic and Asian flavors, particularly the stalk which gets tender in texture like steamed asparagus.

A small chunk of halibut caught by the other adult over last summer was handy as well. This time, the other adult requested for teriyaki-flavored fish. The home-made teriyaki sauce is customized with what was handy and what the mood called for.

Halibut 4 to 6 small portioned pieces
some sesame oil

For the teriyaki sauce:
2 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp white wine (I had some Sauvignon Blanc handy)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp low sodium vegetarian oyster sauce (aka mushroom sauce)
½ tsp brown sugar
4 Tbsp water

For the stir-fried gai lan:
1 lb of Gai Lan, washed and patted dry
a bunch of baby bok choy, washed
5 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce (aka mushroom sauce)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
¼ tsp brown sugar or agave nectar


  1. Gai lan stir fry: Heat the sesame oil in a wok; add the garlic and allow to brown a bit then add the ginger; stir well then add gai lan, the rest of the flavoring ingredients, cover and allow to wilt and cook till the stalks are tender
  2. Teriyaki sauce: combine the sauce ingredients and simmer over low heat and keep handy
  3. Halibut: Brush the halibut with some oil and cook in a cast iron skillet, flipping it over till the fish is mostly cooked; then brush generously with teriyaki sauce and broil till fish is fully cooked and the teriyaki sauce forms a rich coating
  4. Serve with a drizzling of the remainder of the teriyaki sauce

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Monday, February 06, 2017

Green Papaya, Chayote Squash, Jicama, Ginger Thai-Style Salad

Green Papaya, Chayote Squash, Jicama, Ginger Thai-Style Salad

Chayote Squash, or "chow-chow" as it was called when I was young, belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, like melons, squash and cucumbers. It has a distinct texture -- a bit crisp but fleshy like pears, and has a mildly sweet watery flavor, high in fiber and folate. Quite a few savory Indian recipes use this pear-like vegetable.

Jicama, aka "Mexican turnip" is another favorite that has a crisp apple-like crunch and a mild sweet flavor, high in dietary fiber.

Green Papaya, rich in fiber and antioxidants, is treated as a vegetable in Indian cuisine, cooked in curry sauce or with coconut cream and lentils; or in salads raw and fresh.

The three of them together make a perfect combination for crisp fresh salad, dressed lightly with Asian-fusion-inspired flavors. Optionally, I had pickled ginger handy, plus thinly sliced purple onions, colorful mini peppers, and crisp sweet snap peas.

Green Papaya, Chayote Squash, Jicama, Ginger Thai-Style Salad

Green papaya
Chayote squash
Snap peas
Pickled ginger slivers
Purple onions
colorful mini bell peppers

2 tsp Lime juice
1 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp Bragg liquid aminos
1 tsp Mirin
2 tsp Apple cider vinegar

Topping: roasted unsalted peanuts, crushed

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Friday, February 03, 2017

Slow Cooker Teriyaki-style Chicken

Slow Cooker Teriyaki  Chicken

Chop up a couple of organic free-range chicken breasts and throw them in a slow cooker with just enough marinade/liquids and allow to cook for  about 3 hours.

Marinade this time: tamarind concentrate, Bragg liquid aminos, plus a touch of honey

Then, stir in just the right amount of the warm Teriyaki sauce, top with Hemp Hearts and/or toasted sesame seeds, serve on a bed of kale ribbons, and garnish with julienned baby cucumbers, spring onions, and pickled ginger, if handy.

Teriyaki-ish Sauce:
2 Tbsp cup Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup Mirin
¼ cup Rice vinegar
2 Tbsp Fresh orange juice
1 tsp Honey
¼ cup water

Combine the liquids, simmer and reduce to thicker consistency, store any remainder in fridge.

Slow Cooker Teriyaki  Chicken

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