Saturday, October 30, 2010

Batata rassa (Potatoes in curried gravy)

People deal with stress in different ways. I have a few friends who splurge on chocolates or sweets when they are stressed, then there are others who go nuts for snacks and still a few others (and now the pie-chart is dwindling) who work-out a lot or take walks during lunch-time to beat the stress. I have never been a sweets person (note the 's' in sweets, less you would think I am not a sweet person :D) I rarely if ever crave anything sweet and I like dark chocolate but don't really crave it either. For me it has always been savory comfort food from my child-hood which acts as an instant stress-buster.

It is unfair how a few regional cuisines (like Maharashtra for example) are just so absent in the array of cuisines featured under the global "Indian cuisines" tag. Even in the heart of the bay area, there is hardly any restaurant which serves authentic Marathi food that I can turn to. Anyway, so as a result of a few stressful work weeks, I have been craving and cooking a lot more that usual Marathi food at home, which is why you would likely see a larger share of Marathi recipes on this space, just in case you were wondering :)

Today's recipe is batata rassa or curried potatoes. Batata =potatoes and rassa=gravy. The one unique touch that makes it Marathi for me is the addition of Goda masala. This is a spice blend common to Marathi cuisine made out of coriander, cumin, sesame seeds, coconut powder and a few other spices. I have never tried to make it at home but thats just because my Mom is really good about sending me a couple of packets of our favorite brand of goda masala every so often that I never seem to run out of it. If you can't find goda masala, feel free to substitute with garam masala; it would still be very tasty, but perhaps won't be equally reminiscent of those idle school nights sitting around the dining table savoring batata rassa with the freshest fulka and nothing else to worry about except perhaps a Biology homework so something silly like that.... whenever did life get so complicated ;)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin dal

I have always been the one (shamelessly so you might add!) who sneaks in a new untested recipe on unsuspecting guests. It always scares my Mom whenever I tell her I am 'experimenting' on a new recipe when there are guests in-house. But really, for me, trying out a new recipe is like a cook's reward, something that keeps me going. Sure, there have been a few mishaps and last minute runs to Safeway to activate backups, but more than often the new dish has been a great hit and has kept the fun going for me in entertaining!

So we had an unplanned visit from a few close friends last night. As luck would have it all I had on hand was pumpkins - two small sugar pie pumpkins which I had picked up on my morning TJ's visit. Together we brain-stormed a lot about what to cook and finally decided to be brave enough to make it a pumpkin night.. afterall isn't Halloween just around the corner! I made the traditional Marathi lal-bhoplyachi bhaji (red pumpkin sabji) with some left-over butternut squash soup from a day before. Our sweet ending was the pumpkin kheer which I was fairly confident would turn out well considering I had just made it the week before... and now my experimentation began! I have been itching to try my hands on this pumpkin dal recipe for quite some time now and what better company to try this on than a few unsuspecting close friends who are always game to be the perfect guinea-pigs :)

On a stormy cold evening we gathered together in the dining room overlooking the pouring rain with a scrumptious meal of rice, pumpkin dal and lemon pickle with a side of a bold merlot and needless to say the freshest batch of gossip and a whole lot of giggling over nothing!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin kheer/pumpkin pudding

Nothing screams fall like the rows and rows of neatly arranged pumpkins and squashes! The pumpkin display in front of our local Trader Joe's stores is so adorable that no visit to the groceries is complete for me now a days without picking up a new squash to try.

Last weekend I bought a small sugar pie pumpkin for a pumpkin pie. I halved the pumpkin and roasted it for an hour and half until sweet and moist. Just when I was mashing up the pumpkin I realized I had no eggs at hand. A last minute change of plans and some scavenger hunt later, I thought why not try some pumpkin kheer instead...

All I had was non-fat milk at hand but the kheer was still extremely creamy and wonderful tasting due to the freshly roasted and mashed pumpkins. Trust me, I am not a person with much sweet tooth, but this kheer was so simple and tasty that I gobbled half of it myself for dinner and next day breakfast!

Afterall it is the festivities and what better way to celebrate than some sweet pumpkin pudding. Happy Dasara to all!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Roasted butternut squash soup

Fall has finally arrived! Leaves are turning red, evenings are just a tiny bit chilly, Starbucks is serving its pumpkin latte and what all that means for me is one things.. time to make lots and lots of soups again!

I bought a butternut squash on sale at Trade Joe's. I was thinking of making the curried butternut squash soup I had made earlier but feeling a bit adventurous with extra extra pumpkin caffeine, this time I decided to try a long lost Cooking Light recipe that I vaguely remembered reading a few years back at a dentist's office (have you noticed how you never forget a recipe that you read at dentists's office, guess its the pain of whats coming ahead or something...)

The recipe is very simple. Original one called for chopping the squash into cubes and then cooking with stock and then slightly spicing it up with nutmeg. When it comes to butternut squash I always prefer roasting rather than chopping (the squash is way too tough to cut using any of the knives I have in my repertoire! Once its roasted though then its really easy to scoop up the cooked squash out.

This turned out to be a simple and yet extremely flavorful soup. Its best served on a cold night as an appetizer with some garlic bread (regular whole wheat or sourdough bread toasted with a bit of olive oil and then rubbed with some fresh garlic for a light garlicky flavor)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Mexican fair.. tacos with sun sugar tomatoes and peach salsa

What do you do when life showers you with cherry tomatoes? Experiment with different versions of salsas of-course!

Last spring a very dear friend of mine gifted us this tiny sun sugar tomato plant which to my utter amazement has grown over 5' tall (yes, thats 5 feet!) and is bearing fruits like crazy! When I planted it I expected a regular sized tomato plant only to realize within a month or so that the plant is growing frantically crazy. I had to quickly research my caging options. A trip to Home Depot later, I managed to cage the plant but two months later is looks like we should have bought the larger cage. Who knew a tomato plant could grow that tall! 

A fun aspect of being a first-time gardener is you learn through mistakes. Now I know that there is something like an indeterminate tomato plant and the sun sugar variety falls into that - what it means is the plant will grow indeterminate only capped by the length of the season. In the world of indeterminate tomato plants, >5' tall plants are not that uncommon actually!

Sun sugar is a very sweet small tomato variety with a slight orangy flavor. Due to its sweetness and fruits tones its great for snacking as is or in salsas or salads. I made a roasted tomato pasta sauce, tossed it in salads here and there, snacked a lot on them and still the plant is laden with fruit! Got any cherry tomato recipes up your sleeve :) 

Today's recipe is a simple peach and sweet tomato salsa. I made this quick throw together Mexican meal recently with a spicy black bean filling and a tangy tomatillo salsa (both recipes upcoming soon) and this slightly sweet, slightly sour salsa was perfect with the meal. If you don't have sun sugar tomatoes, feel free to use any cherry tomatoes.
Vegetarian tacos with sweet tomato and peach salsa
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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.