Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hari (Green) Chutney

My mother used to make this chutney occasionally, as a dip for samosas and pakoras (fritters). I also remember her making this as a salad dressing for chopped radish (mooli, in hindi), especially during the summers. The mint, combined with the heat from serranos and the lingering flavor of garlic and cilantro is just heavenly.


1 bunch cilantro leaves
½ bunch mint leaves
5 leaves of spinach
2 cloves garlic
2 serranos (or more if desired)
juice from half lemon
salt to taste
¼ cup water (or more based on approximation)

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until you get a puree with a slightly chunky consistency.
2. Transfer the contents to a bowl and it’s ready to serve.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Welcome, 2009!

2008 was an interesting year for us. It had its ups and downs. Now its time to welcome 2009 and hope it will bring everyone peace, joy and prosperity. Here are some pictures of the last setting sun of 2008 in the Pacific.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Baked Samosas

The other day I made a meat-pie and I really liked the crust a lot. I had found the recipe for the crust online and it was very simple. As I was appreciating the crust, it suddenly struck me “boy, wouldn’t this make good samosas?!”

So, my next experiment was to
try making baked samosas with this delicious crust recipe. I am not a big fan of frying food – for health reasons and also because it gets messy and well, I just don’t know what to do with the leftover oil, so it sits on my kitchen counter until I throw it away. I don’t know if these baked samosas are much healthier than their fried counterparts – I hope they are. But you sure don’t have to stand around a hot frying pan!

There is a little bit of history about these too. The first trial run for the baked samosas was during the first presidential deba
te of 2008 “J-Mac Vs. O”. We were both eagerly waiting to hear what the candidates had to say for themselves, so I pre-prepared the samosas and arranged them on the baking sheet, so that they were ready to be stuck in the oven and baked, while I sat and watched the debate. As for the results? Well, O won the debate hands down and, sigh, I had to make the samosas again for Dan, for the next vice-presidential debate, between Sarah six-pack and Joe the Biden!

Do try them out and let me know if they are any good.


*Recipe for the pastry can be found here, many thanks to them. I have also written it out for convenience.

For the Crust/Pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup cold water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

For the filling:

6 medium potatoes (boiled)
11/2 cups peas
1 inch ginger (minced)

2 serrano peppers (chopped)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp oil

1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ cup chopped cilantro

salt to taste

Pastry “glue”:

½ cup flour + water (your own approximation), stirred to form a thick, sticky slurry (mixed evenly to get rid of flour clumps)


Pastry Dough:
1. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in tiny pieces of butter and add to the flour mix. Start kneading the dough till it gets evenly crumbly.
2. In a small bowl beat the egg, along with water and lemon-juice. Add thyme and beat some more. Add this mix to the doug
h, while kneading constantly, one spoon at a time. Set the dough aside.

1. Boil 6 medium potatoes, till they are soft at the center, but still quite firm. Peel off the potato skin and mash using a fork
till you get small chunks (do not mash evenly, as you would for mashed potatoes).
2. In a wok heat oil and add cum
in seeds. When the cumin starts sizzling, add ginger, followed by potatoes and peas. Add turmeric, coriander, salt, cumin powder, black pepper along with the chopped serranos and cilantro. Stir the mixture and cook with the lid on for about 3-5 minutes.

1. Take a small ball of the prepared dough, (roughly an inch and a half in diameter) and roll into a circular disc, approximately 5-6 inches in diameter.
2. Cut the disc in half, as s
hown in the picture and add about 1/3 cup filling to one side of each half. Apply the pastry glue along the edges of each half, as in the picture.
3. Lift the other end of the “half disc” and fold over the filling. Pinch the ends around the filling to “seal” the samosa. Repeat the
same for the other half-disc.
4. Arrange the samosas on a baking sheet.
5. Bake the samosas in the oven at 400F for 20-25 minutes, till golden brown.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ksra: Moroccan Bread recipe

We’ve been baking a lot of bread lately. So much so that I’ve considered the idea of starting a separate blog dedicated to bread baking. Anyone interested in a bread blog? What started as a one time attempt to make bread has now turned into a rewarding weekly event. Lets face it, home baked bread is so much better then the store bought variety. The following recipe for Ksra evolved out of our interest in Moroccan cuisine. It develops an amazing thick crust with the addition of anise and caraway provides a lovely aroma and unique flavor. While the bread is a natural complement to Moroccan foods like chicken or lamb tagine, it is also delicious on it own or served toasted with scrambled eggs.


3 cups unbleached bread flour

½ cup rye flour

2 tsp active dry yeast

1½ tsp sea salt

1 tbsp Caraway Seed

1 tbsp Anise Seed

1½ Cups lukewarm water

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Coarsely ground corn meal (for coating)


  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the water, and mix until well combined. You should end up with a sticky, choppy looking dough that initially will seem quite unmanageable. At this point add the oil and begin kneading the dough in the bowl until the oil is incorporated.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a clean unfloured countertop and begin kneading vigorously for 8-10 minutes to develop the gluten. The dough will stick a little to counter top. That’s okay, just scrape off any stuck dough and continue kneading. You don’t want to add any additional flour at this stage as it’ll change the water content of the bread. With continued kneading the dough will stiffen up significantly and have a glossy appearance.
  3. Place the dough in a large bowl at least three times the bread volume, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the bread ferment for about two hours, or until doubled in volume.
  4. When the first rise in completed set the oven to 425ยบ and turn the dough out onto a clean countertop. Now the dough can be shaped into a tight round in preparation for baking. To shape, flatten the dough slightly, and then fold the top down, and then the bottom up, so it is folded like a business letter. Then fold in the sides in the same way as before. Now flip the dough so the largest seam faces down and begin stretching the dough in towards the bottom seam to form a tight ball of dough.
  5. Place the shaped dough seam side down onto a baking sheet sprinkled with coarsely ground corn meal and then cover the dough with a well floured tea towel. Let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Remove the towel and bake in the oven 35-40 minutes until the bread reaches a rich brown color and sounds hollow when tapped with a spoon.

A Not-So-Traditional Christmas Menu

This was our first Christmas together and also our first without snow!! Although, we did drive 50 miles east of the city, up to the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, where there was about 5-6 inches of snow on the ground!! San Diego has its own special Christmas charm. The red berry-bushes are in bloom all over the county and makes a pretty site.

My parents sent us a nice flower arrangement and chocolates. And we got few more goodies from Dan’s family. Craving Snicker Doodle cookies, Dan made a small batch, which we had on Christmas eve. So, for our Christmas meal we cooked Moroccan Meatloaf accompanied by Moroccan Bread, Pomegranate BBQ sauce and Mashed Potatoes. I baked an Almond-Chocolate Cake. My mother-in-law was slightly perplexed by our not-so-traditional Christmas menu.

Here are some pictures.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Spicy Korean Beef Curry

The inspiration for this recipe is our wonderful Korean friend’s wife.

It was to be our last summer on Long Island. Both Dan and I were stuck in our own terrible housing situation. The only affordable housing in and around Stony Brook is to rent garages (converted into studios) from people living close to the University, unless you want to share a house with a handful of *extremely clean*, like minded individuals. So, anyhow Dan was having fun in his spider-infested garage, when one day his land-lady informed him that he was being traded in for a Korean art-professor. In retrospect, that was one of the best things that happened during his stay there. Dan made friends with the Korean Professor. We had quite a few-get-togethers including an Indian dinner (prepared by Shiva), Mexican night (by Dan) and several Sushi dinners accompanied by several bottles of Soju (hosted by our friend). But one of the most amazing meals we had was the Korean pork curry with sesame leaf and Ramen noodles made by our friend’s wife. It was something very unique from the meals you get at most Asian restaurants in this country.

Recently, one of our friends introduced us to a lovely Korean market in San Diego (Zion Marketplace). We decided to try and recreate the Korean curry. So, after some internet-research and couple of trial rounds, we came up with this recipe. We can only hope that it as good as our friend’s. Combat!


3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp canola oil
3 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp chili sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
½ tsp black pepper (ground)
3 tsp sugar
4 cloves garlic (minced)
½ inch ginger (minced)
½ c scallions (finely chopped)

1 lb beef (thinly slices, cut into strips)
½ lb broccoli (small to medium sized florets)
1pkt noodles

1. Add the beef to marinade and refrigerate overnight.
2. In a wok combine the broccoli along with the marinated beef. Cook for about 8-10 minutes till beef is browned and the broccoli is tender.
3. While the beef is cooking, prepare the noodles as per the directions on the packet.
4. Serve the beef along with the sauce (from marinade) over a plate of steaming noodles.

Notes: For my vegetarian friends: substitute beef with fried bean curd or steak tofu.
Make a wrap, filling the sesame leaf with beef curry. The leaf has a characteristic anise-like flavor that complements beef very well.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Pictures: Dan’s Weaved Apple-Cherry Pie Crust

Last week was Thanksgiving – it felt more like early New York fall here in San Diego. The leaves have barely turned and the highs are in the 70’s. I miss the crispness in the air and the falling yellow, red and brown leaves (although it’s way past that time in New York) – they are probably now talking about snow there. Well yeah, grass is always greener on the other side. I shouldn’t be complaining about San Diego – the fabulous sunsets we’ve had this month, have been absolutely breathtaking.

So, its day before thanksgiving and Dan suggests we make an apple-cherry pie with a weaved pie top –and I 'm like “yeah, I’m not doing this, it’s too difficult!!” So, move away Shiva, Dan’s in charge of the pie. Wow, just look at that pie top (and this is the first time he did it). Amazing!!!