Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Exploring Ethiopia -- cuisine and food traditions of a country..

Have you ever been to an authentic Ethiopian restaurant? My favorite place in south bay has this cozy dining room where friends and family gather around a dining stool sharing the food and the laughter! Its walls are drepped with native art and the tables are adorned with various artistic earthen and wooden-wares with a background native music tune humming along! The large wooden serving-wear has a spread-out injera (famous ethiopian bread or 'dosa' made from teff) decorated with very delicious and spicy currys to be scooped up with the injera and on the side is a nice hot pot of coffee! Hmmm, see, now I made everyone hungry (including myself!)

Through a happy coincidences of many things I recently ended up reading a lot about Ethiopian food. A friend lent me a book on Ethiopian cuisine, at the same time I happened to have rented an africa cookbook from library and while Googling on Ethiopian cuisine I came across this site with a wealth-load of information about the cultures and food traditions of this old society. It is amazing how similar ethiopian cuisine is to Indian cuisine and I hope like me you enjoy reading and cooking up some ethiopian food today! Would you like to go on a culinary tour of Ethiopia?!! You don't need an air ticket or a visa just bring along an empty tummy and a creative curiosity to explore this world of rich cuisine!
(Follow the read more link after the related recipes for the rest of the post...)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mathematics on your plate -- Romanesco with potatoes!

Now I know the title has your interest peaked! Mathematical equation on your plate! you are probably thinking you don't want the plate if it comes with an equation... or if you are more like me, then you are torn between two of the things you like a lot - mathematics and cooking! But don't worry this is a very beautiful mathematics equation which is super tasty and is not intimidating at-all.. okay okay, before you think this girl has lost her mind, let me explain :)

Have you ever heard of fractals? I first learnt about them a few years ago when I happened to stumble across a TV documentary (NOVA) about fractals and since then I have been so amazed with these little known mathematical phenomenon that even on my food blog I can't stop ranting about them :) Fractal is any geometric shape that can be split into multiple small shapes and each of the smaller shape will be an exact replica of the original shape! Now you can inturn split the smaller shapes into even more tinier shapes and they will still be the replica of the original image.. fractals have this recursive self-similarity which makes them so very unique and so very beautiful! Wikipedia has a very good article about fractals here with some of the most beautiful fractal images. If mathematics has ever come so close to beauty, this is it!!!

Now before you wonder where exactly this girl is going with fractals and dry sabzi, let me tell you the connecting link: today's ingredient, romanescos, are among the most admired natural fractals (others are snowflakes, cauliflowers, tree leaves)! There are just so many examples of fractals in the nature, only if we know to look for them :) Look at the picture of romanescos at the end of this post (its a cross between broccoli and cauliflower) and you will know what I mean! Food on your plate can be derived by a mathematical equation, food for thought indeed, right!

(Follow the read more link below for the rest of the recipe...)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sweet orange marmalade and some equally sweet awards!

Have you ever smelled an orange blossom in an orange field? If you haven't let me tell you that it is one of the most delicate and refreshing scents ever! I stayed in southern California for a couple of years and our winter weekend gateway there used to be hiking in the nearby hills where due to the elevation it would somehow seem more wintry (well, relatively atleast :D). We used to start early in the morning; hike during the day; grab a cup of coffee and then head back down in the evening. While driving back to the city we would pass through these gigantic orange fields in bloom and oh boy, I would just open up the car windows and let the most refreshing citrusy scent fill up my nose and my mind!

Its amazing how our mind associates foods with memories! Last weekend local farmer's market carried such fresh and sweet varieties of navel oranges, satsumas, mandarins, meyer lemons that for a moment unknowing to myself I flashed back to those SoCal winter evenings! I couldn't resist picking a few navel oranges for some home-made orange marmalade. The store-bought marmalades are okay but I feel they are a tad too sweet and not orangy enough. So I usually make my own take on it. Contrary to perception orange marmalades is one of the easiest things to make. I usually make a very small amount that I can finish off in a couple of weeks, so I don't need to worry about the nitty-grittys of canning.

(Follow the read more link below for the rest of the recipe)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sweet sesame tikkis and a wish for a very happy sankrant!

For a third year in a row I made the same distressed phone call to my mom yet again "but may be its a really tiny step in the recipe that you missed telling me last time! Why doesn't my til-gul ever turn out like yours?!?". You probably got the context right, after tries and tries of tilgul (til=sesame seeds, gul=jaggery/unrefined sugar, tilgul is a traditional Indian sweet made from sesame seeds and jaggery) somehow my tilgul just never comes out right (officially I have blamed it on the quality of jaggery available here btw :D)! My mom makes the best tilgul ever and I have taken her recipe, read and re-read it, even double-checked the instructions from Ruchira! (For all the non-Marathi folks out there, Ruchira is like a bible of Marathi cooking! I got my copy as a wedding gift from my grandmother who was sleeplessly worried of how I'll ever manage cooking an eatable dinner for my husband :D). Anyway, so I tried and tried but always the jaggery would make the tilgul either too soft or too hard! Now mind you it would taste yummy just the texture would suffer and my poor husband would always encourage me by saying "stomach knows only tasty" :)

So, this time when I made the same phone call last weekend my mom had her answer ready "Just skip gul, use sugar, that will surely work". Hmmm, tilgul without gul! Then she told me a recipe of a tilgul that I had very much liked as a kid and seeing as that one did not have jaggery, I decided that may be it wasn't the craziest of ideas to make tilgul with sugar! And what do you know, this was by far my best til-gul.. ever! In all fairness though it should be called sesame tikki or sesame snaps but hey, today is Sankranti and I have a til-sweet for you, thats all that counts, right?!

(Follow the read more link below for the rest of the recipe...)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Parsnip soup with kale and roasted garlic

Have you ever had it happen to you that you are roaming in a grocery store picking up your onions, chilis and potatoes and all-of-a-sudden a packet of an unknown vegetable or a spice jumps into your cart and won't take no for an answer :D Well, that happens to me a lot! My husband calls it 'impulse-buy' but tchk-tchk I know better than that.. see, its a divine intervention! Okay, okay, I know I am an addict for buying new (to me) fruits and vegetables that seem to be in season without having any idea of what I am going to do with it. Then they sit in the fridge patiently waiting to be used up. A week goes by, no super-great cooking idea strikes me, and at the end of the week, I end up using them in my sure-fire way: by soupifying them!

Parsnips were my last week's impulse buy. They are in season now. I have tasted parsnips long back but this time they looked so fresh and crunchy that I had to have it! To be honest a parsnip soup was not on my mind when I bought them but it turned out to be great! I added kale purely for some color zing as parsnips are relatively pale in color but roasted garlic and rosemary are the main flavorings. This is a light soup and has more delicate flavors than my usual hearty soups. I enjoyed it with a bowl of leftover spaghetti and it turned out to be a great combination!

(Follow the read more link below for the rest of the recipe...)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Raspberry Flavored Applesauce

When life gives you an overload of apples what do you do? Don't sweat it -- just make applesauce! Last week we had a situation where we ended up with lots and lots of apples sitting on the counter-top waiting to be used! Good part about my lack of sweet tooth is that I am always looking for some not-so-sweet ways to prepare a light fruit based sweet dish which we'll love and won't seem like a mere idea of a dessert to our guests :) This one fits the bill perfectly!

Raspberry adds a nice pinkish red hue to the sauce which I loved! Surprisingly it also paired really well with apples. Lemon juice is necessary to bring out the apple flavor and cardamom just puts the whole dish together for me! Next time I want to try this with some apple liquor, I bet it will add a nice edge to this dish :) I did a test taste and was so pleasantly surprised by these apple-raspberry flavors that in a hurry to eat it all I did not even care much about the picture!

(For rest of the post follow the read more link below...)

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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.