Monday, February 15, 2016

Lentil Avocado Pita Pockets with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Ever since I saw this Mark Bittman's sloppy joe pita recipe in Cooking Light I have been itching to try it out. Honestly, what's not there to love when you have warm toasted pitas stuffed with spicy lentil stuffing, some cool mint yogurt sauce and crunchy fresh cucumber! This is a perfect early spring meal. Seems very California too :)

Have I told you that a well stocked pantry and fridge is the most well kept secret of eating more healthy meals at home? It really is. I always have a pack of Trader Joe's whole wheat pitas at hand and some dried or cooked lentils ready to go at a moment's notice.

One of these weekends we came home late from morning chores. The weather is unseasonably warm and turning spring, so I was craving lighter meals like salads, soups and sandwiches.

Quickly chopped some onions, tomatoes and garlic and put the lentils to cook (hardly 10min prep time). The lentil cooking time of around half an hour was largely unattended in which I made myself a hot cup of coffee with a slice of bread spread with fig butter as a side :)

Once the lentils were ready, the whole assembly took another 15mins and thats it, meal is served! I substituted fresh avocado slices for the cucumber slices and finished with a tangy sweet jalapeno sauce that I found at a local Afghan grocer for some extra kick.

You can eat them on their own but preferrable pairing is to serve with a warm light soup of your choice - my favorite combos are leek and potato soup or the roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Or as the guys will say, beer is a perfect pairing too :)

Source: Mark Bittman's sloppy joe pitas in Cooking Light
For the lentil filling:
3/4C French lentils (or brown lentils or masoor)
2C water (or per the lentil cooking instructions)
1 medium onion - chopped
3 cloves of garlic - smashed
2 tomatoes - chopped
handful of fresh thyme chopped (or dried thyme)
1.5tsp cumin powder
1Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

For Yogurt Saucee:
1/2C non-fat or low-fat yogurt
handful of chopped fresh mint
dash of red wine vinegar
pinch of crushed red chili flakes

For vegetables in the filling:
1 fresh avocado - sliced
OR 1 cucumber - chopped
some fresh mint

For assembly:
4 whole wheat pitas
hot sauce of your choice (I used an Afghan bolani jalapeno sauce)

Prepare the lentil filling:
Saute chopped onions and garlic in a Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. When the onions start to tender, add cumin powder and roast for a minute or two. Follow up with some chopped tomatoes, lentils, water and enough salt. Let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and simmer covered for 30mins or so or until the lentils have cooked through (but not turned mushy). Add more water if you need it during the cooking process. When the lentils have cooked through turn the heat off, add thyme and black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Prepare the raita:
Assemble all the raita ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings per taste.

Toast the whole wheat pitas and then cut them into halves diametrically. Using your fingers or a knife open the pitas up. Spread the raita on one side. Add few Tbsp of lentil mixture into the pita. Add a few avocado or cucumber slices, some chopped mint and finish with a dash of hot sauce.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake

I wanted to bake something special to bring to a new year's party we were invited to. Baking for a large gathering is always fun, because you can confidently add the sugar and the butter without worrying about the horrific outcome of you finishing all of it alone! (been there, done that, repented by hours on trademill :) ) 

So I was looking for something more elaborate and this chocolate swiss roll cake recipe which appeared on PW blog recently seemed perfect.

I skipped the chocolate ganache because I realized last minute I didn't have enough chocolate in the fridge but the cake was great even without it (though presentation would have been much better with ganache, going to try that next time!)

There were two mistakes I made while making this and both ended up with the same root cause of not whipping the batter long enough. Egg and sugar batter had not come to the ribbon stage, though likely a few more minutes would have done it. And the cream cheese filling could have used a few more minutees of beating too. I have a new hand mixer and there is still some getting used I need... particularly the high speeds. I tend to stick with lower speeds and the filling definitely needed high speed in retrospect.

But all said and done, it was a very tasty cake which finished off within minutes of opening. Next time I'll focus on getting the filling right consistency and also the ganache I skipped!

Happy baking!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tilapia Fish Curry - Bengali Style (v2)

Some recipes never seem to grow old no matter how many times you make them. They only age better with time and their v2, v3 and v4s are born. This is one such recipe for me - I have tried endless tweaks on this fish curry and tried perfecting it a little more every single time.

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.

I own a small bottle of mustard oil and all my Bengali recipes now start with mustard oil instead which I feel is great way to add flavor.

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
2Tbsp mustard oil

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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.