Sunday, February 23, 2014

Grab them before they go - oranges are in season (citrus salad and orange marmalade)!

(Starting off a new series on G&G - "Grab them before they go". In this series we feature a seasonal produce or fruit our family is enjoying thoroughly these days. Infact it's so good that we think it deserves you opening another tab on your browser right now and finding out your nearest farmer's market to visit! 

We at G&G strongly believe in simple & quick recipes with local and seasonal produce and fruits; not only you will be enjoying fresh bounties of the nature without the preservatives and 100s of food miles, you will also be helping the local farmer's ecosystem and sustainable growing)

It's that time of the year again when citruses are everywhere in California. Farmer's markets are filled with rows and rows of navel oranges, satsumas & mandarins (peelable oranges), cara-cara oranges (rose color flesh), blood oranges, grapefruits and pamelos and meyer lemons too!
I have a detailed post here going over different citrus varieties and their taste differences.

We know it can be over-whelming at first to know that "orange" is not just "one variety", but fret not, it's as simple as trying out a piece of each and taste testing at home!

Oh, and while you are at it, try out this winter citrus salad.
It's so pretty, you can substitute this salad for a table centerpiece for the next gathering you host! A centerpiece which is so yummy you can eat it off the table, now that's something :)

Recipe is very simple and extremely adaptive. 

Recipe: Winter's bounty citrus salad
1 navel orange
1 cara cara orange
2 blood oranges
1 meyer lemon (sweet lemon)
1 grapefruit
1/2Tbsp chopped mint
1/2Tbsp very finely chopped shallot or red onion
handful of toasted slivered almonds
2Tbsp olive oil
1tsp lemon juice
salt & pepper.
Salad dressing:
  1. Zest one navel orange to get 1/2Tbsp orange zest.
  2. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, orange zest, red onion, mint, salt & pepper. 
  3. Mix well. Taste, add more lemon juice if not acidic enough; add more olive oil if too acidic. 
  4. Set aside.
Assembling the salad:
  1. Using a knife remove the tops and bottom parts of the citrus so they stand well.
  2. Peel the orange using a knife. Cut as much of the white skin as possible.
  3. Dice the citrus into equal thickness disks.
  4. Arrange the various colored citrus disks.
  5. drizzle the dressing on top.
  6. Sprinkle some toasted slivered almonds and enjoy!
And while we are on the topic of oranges, I have got to tell you about this orange marmalade I made! I don't make it as often as I should now a days, but it's so wonderful to make a big batch - you and your family can enjoy spreading on a piece of toast, or as a marinade for chicken pieces or homemade marmalade makes great gifts too you know! Free up one of your Sunday afternoons and cook a big batch of these...
Anyway, however you like to enjoy your oranges, be sure to grab them before go out of season!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Easy Breezy Chicken Tandoori (v2)

This tandoori chicken recipe is a favorite one at our home! The reason it's named v2 is because I already have one tandoori chicken post on this blog - however I have been recently feeling that there is scope of improvement there. In particular chicken could be more moist while keeping the skin still crunchy.

The v1 was made when our oven did not have a broil function but now that we have a working broiler I thought I would give it a few tries and tada, there comes v2 - better and improved but still the same easy breezy!

After many attempts, this is the recipe I narrowed down on. The skin will be crispy with a slightly burnt taste (which I love so much!) while the inside is still very moist and juicy. I have had success with this recipe 3 times in a row, so I feel pretty confident calling this a blog-worthy recipe now :)
Do you enjoy Tandoori chicken at restaurants? Have you tried making tandoori chicken at home? If not but if you enjoy eating it out, I highly recommend giving it a try. Contrary to perceptions, it's a very straight-forward recipe with lowest run to run variation of most Indian recipes!

It's super easy to put together and once you get the formula down, making 2 or 10 or 20 take nearly the same amount of prep and cooking time - making it a perfect party or a large gathering dish. I made this for my little one's birthday we hosted at home this year and it was a smashing hit - everything gone within minutes and guests were still craving for more :)

This is also a good recipe if you are inviting spice sensitive friends for dinner. It's a good recipe to introduce someone to Indian food and it's spices without making it too hot so that tears run down their eyes while eating - we don't want anyone to cry eating this, do we? ;)

Another change I did in v2 is reduced the spice list and added pre-made spice mixes indtead. You can always buy tandoori mix sold at most Indian markets, but I find putting one together is quite easy and the variations are endless. This is another recipe which could greatly benefit from a good quality curry powder (such as Trader Joe's or Penzy's Maharaja blend) and garam masala powder.
So anyway, enough about the background, let's dig in!

Serves: 2
5 pieces chicken drumsticks - skin on
1C yogurt
1Tbsp curry powder
1tsp garam masala
1tsp cumin powder
1/2tsp turmeric powder
1/4tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1Tbsp paprika (for color)
2Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

Beat yogurt lightly in a large pot. Add all the spices, 1Tbsp oil and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well.

Wash and clean the chicken pieces. Using a sharp knife, make deep gashes (3-4 a piece) to the chicken pieces and add the chicken to the yogurt pot and mix well making sure every piece is well coated with spiced yogurt.

Cover and leave in fridge for upto 2-4hrs to marinate. (this step is critical for a moist and a tasty tandoori taste)

When it's time to cook, take the chicken out. Preheat oven to 375F

Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and place chicken pieces gently. Drizzle remaining Tbsp olive oil over the pieces and sprinkle some salt & pepper.

Bake at 375F for 45-50mins until chicken is well cooked.

Then turn the broiler to high and broil for 5-10mins or until black-brown spots start to appear on the outside. Turn the heat off. Take off chicken from oven and cover with another foil and set aside for 15mins.

Serve with some sliced onion, lime wedges! Enjoy!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Soba Noodles with Stir-fried Vegetables

Do you cook with soba noodles? If not, I definitely recommend giving them a try! You won't be disappointed. Soba noodles are native Japanese noodles. They are made of buckwheat flour and are about as thick as spaghetti. Buckwheat is an ancient and a very healthy grain - but more importantly for me it just tastes awesome and cooks in 4 minutes! You can't beat that on a busy weeknight! These noodles when properly cooked have a really good bite to it and can withstand sharper flavors of soya, chili-garlic paste etc with commendable integrity :)

Buckwheat noodles can be served cold or hot - this preparation I am sharing with you today is best eaten while the noodles are hot.

This dish rotates almost every week at our home. The little one loves noodles and tofu and is always happy to munch along picking noodles one by one :) We try many ingredient variation from tofu, broccoli, carrots, yellow papers, mushrooms, babycorns, water chestnuts to chicken. I prefer extra firm tofu for this dish. If tofu is not your thing, feel free to skip it - dish tastes great just with vegetables too.
Serves hungry 3
9.5 ounces Soba noodles (1 packet with 3 rolls of soba)
Quarter of red onion -sliced thinly
2 carrots - chopped
half of yellow paper - sliced thinly
2C mushrooms - chopped
1/2inch piece of ginger - grated
2 garlic cloves - grated/minced
2 green onions - thinly sliced
handful of cilantro leaves - minced (optional)
4Tbsp soy sauce
2Tbsp rice vinegar
dash of your favorite stir fry sauce (I used Trader Joe's) (optional)
2Tbsp canola oil
dash of sesame seed oil
pinch of crushed chili flakes
chili garlic paste as condiment
salt & pepper

First, start cooking the noodles per package instructions. Mine required 4 mins of cooking time in boiling hot water.

While water is heating, prep all the vegetables.
Then mince ginger and garlic and chop green onions & cilantro
Heat 2Tbsp canola oil in a large skillet till very hot (stir-fry temperature).

Add sliced onions and cook on high-heat for a few minutes. Then add ginger & garlic and cook another minute.
Then add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have oozed out all the extra water
 Add rest of the vegetables:
and soy sauce, vinegar, stir-fry sauce (if using)
Turn the heat off.

Meanwhile rinse the cooked noodles with cold water
Add noodles to the skillet. Add dash of sesame oil, green onions and cilantro, salt & pepper and mix well.
Dinner is served! Provide chili-garlic sauce (commonly available in asian aisles of supermarkets) as condiment for a spicier version. Make yourself a hot cup of green tea or jasmine tea for the hard work (or not ;) ) and sip along and enjoy your dinner!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mystery ingredient's mystery solved: Amaranth leaves sambhar!

I have this most weird habit of picking up a new vegetable or a new grain without any slightest idea of what I am going to do with it or how to use it. If I see something new, it peeks my interest and draws me like a magnet and the next thing I know its somehow sitting in my grocery cart! 

It was one level of craziness picking up things that are new but this time I crossed a line: I actually picked up something without even knowing its name. Okay, now I am not this crazy person who would feed anything to my family; I mean, the leaves were sitting next to the spinach, anything that sits next to spinach has to be eatable and tasty too, I bet!

So I picked up these most unique looking green leaves (size of small spinach leaves) with red veins running into them. I had no idea what they were, the store did not have a name-tag next to it. I called the store people and asked them what it was, they said they had no idea. I picked them up anyway, thinking I would google them.

I come home, try a lot of Google image search first (Green leaves with red veins), nothing that looks even remotely to what I have turns up. More Google search, nada. It gets to the point that I am thinking I would have to take a picture and send it to my mom in India for identification when I try the last search criteria "indian grocery green leaves red" and voila, there comes an entry from Mahanadi with a picture of the exact leaves that I have!! Score! So, today's mystery ingredient is amaranth leaves.

Not knowing how they taste, I made a quick hard-to-go-wrong sambhar (with store bought sambhar powder it's a jiffy -- sorry Sambhar police.. just didn't have the patience to start from scratch today, it happens, you know). The sambhar was yummy delicious with freshly made rice and a side of lemon pickle. 
So turns out my so-called weird habit of picking up mystery ingredients isn't too bad afterall!

3C loosely packed washed and dried amarnth leaves
3/4C toor daal
5C water
1/2C tiny shallot onions
1 tomato - chopped
1tsp sambhar powder
1.5tsp tamarind paste
1/4tsp turmeric powder
salt & sugar to taste

For tempering:
vegetable oil (may be 2Tbsp)
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1/2tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1 large chopped garlic clove

  1. In a large pot, add amarnath leaves, water, toor daal and salt. Cover and let cook until the daal turns mushy.
  2. Add onions, tomato, tamarind paste and sambhar powder to the daal. Cook covered for 10more minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil for tempering in a small pot. When hot, add mustard seeds. When they start popping add cumin seeds; followed by garlic and asafortida.
  4. Add the tarka to the toor daal. Mix well, adjust the seasonings and serve hot with rice!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tilapia Fish Curry - Bengali Style

This is one of my favorite fish curry recipe. I have tried it before with Salmon and posted here. I have been meaning to try it with tilapia. Tilapia is a more delicate fish so I was worried whether it would stand up to the pan frying and then steaming with the curry gravy and also whether the kalonji and curry flavors of the recipe would overpower the delicate light fish. I am happy to report however that the fish curry was just the same tasty with tilapia as with salmon.

I also managed to take step by step photos this time and made the recipe slightly simple. Original version called for various spices, this time I substituted all the spices with curry powder instead. Result was equally delicious! The trick is to find a good quality curry powder if you don't make one at home. I generally use Trader Joe's curry powder and I am quite satisfied with it; it's a very mild version heat-wise but packs a lot of punch. Home-made has it's benefits but using a good quality store bought one is a very useful time saving arsenal of a busy mom. Another good one I like is Maharaja curry powder from Penzy's spices.

We devoured the fish curry with rice and lime wedges.
This photo is from the time I had made it previously - we were too busy eating our dinner this time to stage a good one :)

Serves 3
3 tilapia fillets (preferably fresh)
quarter of a large onion - finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic - grated
1/2 in piece of ginger - grated
2 tomatoes - chopped
1 small potato - sliced
1/2tsp kalonji/nigella seeds (substitute with mustard seeds if you don't have kalonji - but try to use kalonji if possible, it gives it that Bengali taste!)
1tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp curry powder
2Tbsp yogurt
juice of 1 lime
canola or vegetable oil

Clean wash and pat dry tilapia fillets and cut each fillet into 2 or 3 large pieces. Add juice of half a lime, 1/2tsp turmeric powder and salt to the fish pieces and mix well. Let marinate for half an hour or so.
Heat 2Tbsp vegetable oil in a non-stick pan or a cast iron pan just until the oil starts to smoke slightly. Then add fish pieces one by one in a single layer. Do not crowd. 
Let cook for 3-5 mins depending on size and then flip them over. Pieces should  be slightly browned but not charred which otherwise will give them a chewy consistency.
Flip them over carefully and let cook on the second side for 2minutes. Take them off heat and keep aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a pan and add kalonji/nigella seeds. When they start to splutter add chopped onions. Let cook until onions start to brown.
Then add grated ginger and garlic and cook a few more minutes. Then add 1/2tsp turmeric powder and curry powder. Cook for a minute.
Then add chopped tomatoes and cook on low flames until oil starts to separate (~5-7mins)
Then add sliced potato and let cook for a few more minutes
Keep adding 1C of water at a time and stirring until you reach your desired gravy consistency. Do not add more than 4-5C of water. Let it come to a boil and then simmer of medium low.
Then add 2Tbsp yogurt and mix well. Yogurt will give the curry a thicker consistency and also will bring sourness to it. Add salt to taste.
Add fish pieces back to the curry. Let everything simmer together for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle more lime juice and serve with rice!

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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.