Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ethiopian Sambussa -- healthy baked cousins of samosas with phyllo dough!

Don't you find it very interesting how two objects in two vastly different cultures still have such similar names! Origin of the words or its etymology as its called has always fascinated me. Particularly for words that were derived centuries ago when the means of sharing/communication about cuisines, spices and techniques was so limited (not like today where one can post a new ingredient and the rest of the world gets to know about it right then and there, thanks to the ever-spreading world-wide web!)

So when I visited a local Ethiopian restaurant a year or so ago and saw an appetizer named 'Sambussa' with the description of 'thin dough shell stuffed with lentils and spices" I was pretty sure that this was a variation of Indian samosas. A quick peek at wiki told me that the name samosa derives from the Persian name 'sanbosag' (having to do something with the crescent shape apparently) and from their many cultures have their own variation of a stuffed fried dough filled with spicy vegetables/meats with similar names such as sanbusak in Arab, samsa in Turkic nations, samosas in south-east asia and sambussa in Ethiopian/Somali regions.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Middle eastern stuffed lentil zatar bread with a cool yogurt dip and a book ravings!

Ever since Joanne announced her Middle Eastern regional cooking event I have been going over in my mind thinking about what to cook. To be fair, middle eastern cuisine is so rich in its flavors with all the aromatic spices and moist marinated meat and non-meat dishes that picking any one dish is a herculean task! For most part my mind was set on making Nupur's delicious Ful Medames because that's one dish I truly enjoy eating out everytime I go to a middle eastern restaurant; but after a weeklong fruitless search for canned or dried fava beans, I had to change my plans (by the way, any suggestions where I may find canned or dried fava beans -- ideally around SF bay area?)

Then I thought, rather than showcasing a recipe, why not showcase a middle eastern ingredient and let the recipes revolve around that! Voila, now I sure knew what I was going to be making. Ever since I saw these delicious recipes with zatar on Kalyn' blog, I have been itching to get my hands on this middle eastern spice blend! Her blog is such a wonderful treasure of so many delicious recipes made healthy that when she featured Zatar in so many different ways, I was sure I was going to love this spice! So the focus of today's middle eastern recipes is Zatar.

Now what is zatar, you may ask: Zatar is a middle eastern spice blend made from various spices most notable of which are sumac, thyme, oregano, paprika and white sesame seeds. Some zatar blends also include caraway seeds or cumin, coriander. Its a very unique and delicious spice with lemony, peppery and earthy notes -- typical of the taste that reminds me of good middle eastern food. If you get a chance, I strongly recommend you try this spice blend, it sure was the best $3 I spent last month! Otherwise, there is a simple recipe here or you can always use your favorite greek spice blend or just substitute with a home-made blend of oregano, thyme, cumin, coriander and sesame seeds.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Three bean vegetarian chili and low-fat cornbread

Today I am squeezing in another recipe that I wanted to make this winter season: chili and cornbread. I first had a really good chili and cornbread two years ago in the Curry Village dining lodge at the Yosemite valley. We love to visit Yosemite National Park during winter rather than spring or summer. During summer the crowd at the park is just so unbearable; you won't believe but I have actually been stuck in a traffic jam inside of that national park! Sure in winter its freezing out there and some parts of the park are closed but still the park is just so pretty and pristine with the fresh snow, alpine glow and colorful skies -- best hiking weather I say!

Anyway, one such winter evening we went to curry village lodge exhausted from hiking (mist trail). Needless to say our appetites were raging. We were served a simple chili and cornbread meal with a side of mashed potatoes. I am not sure if its the fact of being worked up and starving, but that chili-cornbread was one of the most satisfying meals I have ever had! My dad always says that the meal on a farm after a hard day of farm-work tastes the best, he may be right, because simple though it is, since then I have been craving to make this chili cornbread again and again..

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Curried roasted butternut squash soup


Time flies by so fast, doesn't it! It seems hardly a few weeks ago when the leaves started turning red and the chilly fall winds were blowing and now, look, end of winter is already in-sight (well, a bit distant sight.. but in sight neverthless, right!)! I know, I know, many of you particularly on the east coast are battered with snow storms after snow storms, but hey, look at the brighter side, there are just ten some weeks for us to endure these wintry days... I thought of this while on my morning stroll on a chilli Saturday morning (dreaming of the hot cup of coffee waiting for me at home - goes without saying :D). If a mere thought can make you warmer, happier then this was it...  but the next moment I was like what about all those winter vegetables that I planned to try this season? Back in November it seemed there was forever to try the winters bounty but with February halfway gone it sure feels like looking from the 'other' side of the winter :)  So in the next few weeks I am going to squeeze in some last minute winter's vegetables that I wanted to cook this season starting with butternut squash today.
(Follow the read more link below for the rest of the post.....)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Berry (Chocolate covered strawberry treats!)

(Okay, first of all, my last name is not Berry and no, I did not recently get married - if thats what the title made you think :D, just read ahead you will know... ) 

It has been raining very heavily recently. Last week I had a day off from work and I was hoping to spend it doing some outdoorish stuff that was pending for a while but instead the day turned out to be a rainy and windy day. So rather than being outdoors I was stuck on my bed reading a book (Drunkard's walk of randomness -- highly recommended read by the way). After a while I got tired of listening to the sound of rain splashing on my windows and the sight of a perpetual gray sky. My mind was not focused either (have you noticed how rain wanders your mind off sometimes?) so I decided to take a break from reading and got into the kitchen looking to spend a few hours making something delicious. I saw some really fresh strawberries and two chocolate bars (a white and a dark) in my refrigerator and an idea sprang to my mind to create some artsy things with chocolate dipped strawberry and I was suddenly all excited! After a bit of googling I knew what I wanted to make... this is the 'fruit' of my labor of a rainy afternoon! Hope you enjoy it too...

So for the very first time, here are Mr. and Mrs. Berry! Don't they just look like a very cute couple who has just taken their vows :D
(Follow the read more link below for the rest of the post...)

Monday, February 1, 2010

A peek into the world of citrus and a refreshing winter's bounty citrus salad!

You know I almost don't want to admit it but just a few weeks ago I was a self-proclaimed most ardent orange lover who had hardly tested any other orange varieties other than pure old navel oranges! All this changed when while browsing one day I came across this Mark Bittman winter citrus column.. listening to it somehow motivated me to go out and explore and experience the world of those 'other' citruses. Luckily for me being in California exploring citrus varieties is not much of a trouble. I just kept buying a new citrus every time I visited my farmers market. I talked to the vendor about its properties, growing seasons, hybrids and also got some samples in return for my curiosity! Sure, me and my husband we both have our favorites at the end of these citrus tasting weeks but in these weeks I learnt so much about these various relatively lesser-known (to me atleast) citruses that I thought I'll do a post noting each one I tested. Mind you though, describing a taste is nowhere near the refreshing burst of each of these citruses in your mouth. If say we were leaving in a Harry Potter world and I could take you in my memory to experience the flavors and smells of each of them I would so do that, but since my magic voodoo is not that good yet, lets just embark on a citrusy photo tour for the day :)
(Follow the read more link below for the rest of the post...)
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This page and all of its contents is copyright of Prajakta Gudadhe. All rights reserved.

This is a web catalog of the recipes that I have tried and tasted in my kitchen. While these recipes and instructions have worked well for me, please use all the information and the recipes from Ginger and Garlic at your own risk.