Carrot Halvah

January 12, 2008 at 10:56 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, Dessert, Indian, Other, Other)

I’ve mentioned previously how much I love sesame seed halvah, and although it is bears only a hazy relationship to the middle eastern sesame dessert, I really like Indian-style carrot halwah as well. Derek adores the carrot halwa at Vatan in NYC, and we’ve tried a number of recipes without much success at replicating it. However, when I saw this recipe in my new cookbook Ajanta, I was certain it was authentic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kela Raita

January 12, 2008 at 7:40 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Indian, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing)

Kela means banana (in some Indian language), and although I’ve never heard of it before or had it at a restaurant, apparently banana raita is quite common; at least, I found lots of similar recipe when searching for it on google. This recipe is from the cookbook Ajanta, by Lachu Moorjani. A few friends of mine love the author’s restaurant Ajanta in Northern California, and bought me and Derek his cookbook as a present, along with a lovely box of Indian spices. When I first unwrapped the spice box I was a little concerned that I already had all the spices, but it turns out it contains lots of ones I don’t have: black cumin seeds, black rock salt, dried fenugreek leaves, nigella seeds, dried pomegranate seeds, white poppy seeds… And all the spices are very fresh. What a lovely gift! I looked through the cookbook and picked a few recipes to try first, and this recipe for banana raita instantly caught my eye. It sounded unusual, but easy to make and very tasty.

  • 1 Tbs. oil
  • 2 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chilies, cut into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch
  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp. ground toasted cumin

Heat the oil in a 1 to 2 quart saucepan. When it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and chilies. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop turn off the heat (should only take about 5 to 10 seconds). Mix in the banana, salt, paprika, and yogurt. Before serving, sprinkle with the cumin. Serve cold.

My notes: I used lowfat yogurt (1.5% fat) and it came out delicious. I also missed the bit about serving it cold, and served it right off the stove: not hot but certainly not cold. Finally, I missed the instructions to dice the banana, and just sliced it, but I liked the big slices. In fact, both Derek and I really liked this raita. The sweet banana and creamy yogurt were a welcome contrast to all the spicy Indian food we were eating, and the black mustard seeds, paprika and cumin give the raita tons of flavor. It was perhaps just a tad salty for my taste, so next time I might use a sparing 1/2 tsp., and if possible I’d cut down the oil since my other Indian dishes usually use a lot of oil. Other than that I wouldn’t change a thing, and I’ll definitely include this recipe in my next Indian extravaganza. It’s also a great recipe for using up very ripe bananas.

Rating: B+
Derek: B

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Sushi beets

January 12, 2008 at 1:34 am (My brain, Root vegetables, Starches, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I love avocado rolls, but even more than the rolls, I love the holy Japanese trinity of wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger. (Note: don’t confuse the holy trinity with the vegan triumvurate.) In search of a dish to make at home that would be simpler than avocado rolls, I came up with the brilliant idea for sushi beets. The sweetness of the beets is almost, but not quite drowned out by the strong Japanese flavors, but the silky texture is a surprisingly good base for these condiments. This isn’t so much as recipe as it is a cooking concept:

  • beets, boiled or roasted, peeled, and sliced
  • soy sauce
  • wasabi paste
  • pickled ginger
  • lime juice or rice vinegar (to represent the vinegar in the sushi rice)

If you want to make this even more reminiscent of a maki roll, you could garnish with toasted nori strips.

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One week of menus: January

January 12, 2008 at 1:15 am (Menus)

Derek was here last week and we did a lot of cooking, made lots of different dishes, and yet we still ended up eating lots of leftovers. Ours wasn’t necessarily the healthiest menu ever, but we had a lot of fun, and made lots of tasty recipes (as well as some disasters). Here’s what we ate for our meals over the week, to the best of my memory:

Saturday lunch: leftover spinach and mushroom lasagna

Saturday dinner

  • spanish potato omelet with roasted red pepper sauce
  • pan-roasted brussels sprouts w/ yellow pepper sauce
  • fennel, orange, and mint salad

Sunday brunch: sandwiches with seitan o’greatness and italian baked tofu (separately, not together), avocado, mustard, julienned carrots, and spicy yellow pepper sauce
Sunday dinner: roast vegetables (squash, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, …) with thai green curry paste

Monday brunch: apricot millet breakfast cake with warm milk
Monday dinner

  • broiled raclette served with sliced apples and farm bread
  • roast veggies w/curry paste (leftovers)
  • dessert: ice cream with almond hazelnut butter

Tuesday brunch: leek and mushroom spring rolls with fresh mint and thai basil
Tuesday dinner: seitan mushroom stroganoff over pasta

Wednesday lunch: leftover spanish omelet with pepper sauce
Wednesday dinner: dinner at Laloux

Thursday breakfast: more tofu and seitan sandwiches
Thursday lunch: chickpea salad and broccoli cauliflower salad (from the work cafeteria), and clementines
Thursday dinner: leftover stroganoff, sauteed asian greens, and mashed rutabaga

Friday breakfast: millet raspberry almond cake
Friday lunch: shmorgasborg of leftovers
Friday dinner: dinner at Madre

Saturday brunch: more italian tofu / seitan o’greatness sandwiches and celery root salad
Saturday dinner: pizza out
Sunday brunch: grapefruit, tempeh bacon, and leftover celery root salad

Sunday Indian extravaganza:

  • gujarati sweet and sour kidney beans
  • mushroom and spinach saag
  • banana raita
  • basmati rice with black cumin and mung beans
  • whole wheat naan (store bought)
  • carrot halvah

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