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Archive for October, 2007



A few days ago Mansi invited me for AFAM (A Fruit A Month) event. My crazy schedule doesn’t encourage me much to keep up with all the events that I want to, but then I couldn’t be discourteous and ignore the invitation away as well. I also wanted to make something to take to work on Halloween. Keeping up with the theme of the season wanted that to be pumpkin.With limited time on my hand here is my ingenious (?) idea to use one recipe to conquer two purposes if you will : )

            Some Peachy facts that I gathered via Google: Peaches originated in China and spread to the west during silk trades. In China it’s believed that peach has mystical characters and brings luck, abundance and longevity. Peaches have very thin and sensitive skin and bruise easily – hence I believe the expression “bruises like a peach”. When selecting peaches, don’t look at the blush on the sides, but look at the area close to the stems. Green color near the steam indicates that they may have been picked too far before their prime to ripen properly, while creamy yellow holds the promise of a succulent treat.
A medium size peach has about only 35 calories. Peaches are great sources of Vitamin A as well as C and E. They are also a good source of fiber. Peaches are rich in phytochemicals which act as antioxidants, ridding the body of free radicals.

            I have adapted couple muffin recipes to make this one. I use alternative ingredients like whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour and low measures of butter and oil to make it a healthier version.
Recipe here makes about 18 regular size muffins. Since I had to stretch the number I made mini muffins.
Instead of Ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon powder you can  use one tablespoon of pumpkin spice powder if you have that in the pantry.

            Here is a peachy Boo ya’ all : )

What you need
2 1/2 cups  whole wheat flour /all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/8 cup vegetable oil
2 cup finely chopped peeled peaches
Topping
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour / whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tablespoon butter to room temperature,
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

How to make
In  bowl, sieve flour, sugar, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin and oil.
Mix in in dry ingredients.
Fold in peaches.
 Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.
For topping, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and walnuts.
Mix in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle small spoonful over each muffin.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until muffins re done.
Cool in pan for about 5 minutes and remove to a wire rack for cooling.

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I have a very funny story behind this one. When I was very young (talking about when I was 6-7 years), me and my siblings would visit my aunts in Maharastra every summer. I remember eating these rolls during those visits. Then as my elder siblings got busy with their studies our visits stopped. Now after many years, a few weeks ago one night I was sitting and watching TV and out of no where had cravings for Khandvi. I could try and make it, but there was one problem- I didn’t know what it was called!? So I called my sis, described what was I craving for but neither did she remember eating them (she isn’t weird like I am 😉 ), nor did she know the name. It was too early in India to call anyone and ask for the name. What do I do now? Of course plunge into Google. Since it’s a popular Gujarathi / Maharastrian dish, it doesn’t take much expertise in Google pics to land the name. Name led me to recipe which led me to making it. It turned out pretty well and very close to what I remembered but wasn’t the same.
Then I called my mom as soon as it was a decent time back home, she understands my desperation of cravings which pop out from nowhere 🙂 She called my aunt and then I had the recipe which I had tasted many years ago 🙂 Ah! The simple pleasures of life!


What you need
For Rolls

1 cup Gram flour
1.5 cup sour buttermilk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon all purpose flour / maida
1 teaspoon cumin powder / jeera powder
1.5 teaspoon green chili paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
Pinch turmeric powder
Pinch sugar
Salt to taste

For Tempering
1/2 cup grated coconut fresh / frozen
4 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoon dry roasted sesame seeds
2-3 green chilies finely sliced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Pinch of asafetida / hing


How to make
In a bowl mix all the ingredients of the rolls without any lumps
Take the mixture in a thick bottom vessel and on low flame cook for 7-8 minutes
If you don’t have a non stick or thick bottom vessel then take 2 teaspoon oil, heat it before the mixture is added.
Keep stirring continuously while it is cooking
Turn off the heat
Don’t let the mixture cool off
Immediately With a large ladle spread the mixture as thin as possible (ideally it is as thin as couple of paper sheets) on the back of a big steel plate or a thick plastic sheet
Let it cool for a while
Cut the spread out into about 1 – 1.25 inch wide strips
Carefully roll the strips and lay them on the serving dish with the end side down In a tempering ladle or vessel heat the oil
Add mustard seeds and asafetida
When mustard starts to crackle add sesame seeds and green chilies
Turn the heat off
Spread the tempering evenly on the rolls
Garnish evenly with grated coconut and coriander leaves
My Aunt’s Trick
If you are looking at cutting the oil for the tempering and to avoid the oily feel in the mouth here is what you can do: when the tempering has cooled a little add few drops of water to it and mix well. Apparently this will also enable for an even spreading of tempering.

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I had seldom eaten Ash Gourd before I got married and moved to USA. Perhaps the only form I ever ate Ash Gourd would have been in Petha. This was just one of those vegetables that my mom tried all she could to have me eat.
I don’t make majjige huli much often only because when I do, I can gulp down a big bowl with even bigger bowl of rice and loads of mango pickle or ambodes. So, this is one of those indulgences which we enjoy only during festivals. Yes I am still covering the recipes I cooked on for Ganesha 😦
This may not be the most traditional majjige huli recipe out there. However I had made it many years ago backtracking the taste from what my mother in law had made. I absolutely love this version!. Do try it, am sure you will too.

What you need
3.5 cups of Ash Gourd (aka white pumpkin in Indian stress here) cut into about 1 inch cubes
For the Curry
4 tablespoon chana dal
1 ( cup pressed) fresh / frozen grated coconut
4 tablespoon of finely diced ginger
6-7 small green chilies ( adjust per your hot scale)
1.5 tablespoon cumin seeds / jeera
1.5 tablespoon mustard seeds
4 to 5 strands of coriander leaves ( whole strands)
1 quart buttermilk ( You need little shy than a quart)
6 to 8 black pepper corns
5-6 curry leaves – roughly torn
pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste

For Tempering
1 tablespoon oil
Small pinch of asafetida
1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
3-4 dry red chilies roughly torn into 1/2 inch long pieces

How to make
Soak chana dal in water for about 30 – 45 minutes
In a vessel take the ash Gourd pieces and water to just cover the pieces
Add salt to salt the ash Gourd pieces
Boil it till the pieces turn little translucent
Take it off the heat
Let it stay in hot water for 10-15 minutes then drain the pieces and discard the water
While the pumpkin is boiling, grind all the ingredients for the curry except curry leaves and turmeric to a fine paste
In a thick bottom vessel mix the ground masala, buttermilk, turmeric and curry leaves
On medium heat bring this to a boil while stirring in between
Add the boiled gourd pieces and bring to boil
In a tempering ladle heat oil
Add mustard seeds, asafetida and red chilies
When the mustards start cracking and chilies are done pour the tempering over the boiled huli

Things to note
This curry is also made with either of: cucumber, capsicum, beans and greens
Never use the water in which you boiled the pumpkin in the curry, it will leave the curry with a funky taste
While buttermilk made from yogurt works just fine, try and use the low fat buttermilk you get in stores here in USA. This in particular gives a nice tangy taste.

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Mavinakai chitranna
We had many mango trees in our back yard. I fondly remember spending all summers climbing the mango trees, eating raw baby mangoes with salt when elders were napping in the afternoon and nibbling on salt soaked mango pieces being dried for pickles. Ah the good old days! Well but I never remember eating mango rice though? May be because my dad didn’t like rice in these forms? I would always see mango rice in my friend’s lunch boxes during Ugadi time.  There is something in the aroma of that rice which casts a spell on ya J          

  Now that I have my own family and making my own traditions, I always make mango rice during Ugadi and Ganesha time. It’s my humble attempt to relive those wonderful summers and lunch box nibbling. I have tried making this one in many ways and this particular one is a winner. The simplicity of ingredients keeps the aroma of raw mangoes mixed with turmeric intact and taste is just perfect. 

What you need

3/4 cup grated raw mango (use the widest tooth on grater)
6 tablespoon peanuts
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
5-6 small green chilies (cut in to thin slices)
5-6 curry leaves (roughly torn)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 tablespoon oil
2 cup cooked rice

 How to make

In a wide pan on medium flame heat oil along with peanuts*
When the peanuts turn light brown, add mustard seeds
When mustard seeds start to crackle add green chillies, turmeric power, curry leaves and mango
Season with salt and fry for couple of minutes
Add the cooked rice, mix thoroughly and continue frying for another couple of minutes
Turn the heat off and serve hot.

* I have seen that many people have overdone / burnt peanuts in many dishes.To avoid that, add the peanuts along with oil. This way peanuts cook thoroughly without being burned and     turn perfectly crispy. Same goes for chanda dal or Urad dal  use. If you add peanut / chana dal / urad dal after the oil has heated then there is too little time for them to cook before they start burning. That yields undercooked but surface burnt peanuts.

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My apologies to those who came to this post for a recipe or anything food related. My musings worth publicizing are few and apart and hence doesn’t call for another blog. Also, the concerns I am about to share should matter to one and all of us, and we definitely need to be an active solution seeker for the concern. Hence after much deliberation I decided to go ahead with this post here.           

It was not long ago that my carbon footprint started worrying me. But when it did, it didn’t take an arm and a leg to reduce it! These days I hear and read a lot about going green, but wonder how many actually follow any of it? I have seen many educated so called aware people who ignore the near certainty of global warming and continue to live an irresponsible life, if you will.            
 

Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, increasingly warm temperatures, catastrophic storms, depleting resources – is this the home we call earth that we want to leave behind for the generations to come? Shouldn’t it be our responsibility to leave it in a condition at least as good as if not better as we got it? 

Now before you so easily dump a recyclable bottle/can in the regular trash or make that third trip for shopping in a day, few facts of the comfortable life that we enjoy in this developed country: 
1.      
US of A has 5% of world’s population, drives 1/3 of the world’s cars and emits almost 50% of world’s Carbon dioxide.
2.      
USA doesn’t fall behind garbage either – we consume 1/3 of world’s resources and produce 1/2 of world’s garbage.
3.      
Each year about 229 tons of e-waste gets dumped into US landfills.  This neither does biodegrade nor does harmlessly stay there. It contains substantial amounts of lead, cadmium, hexavelent chromium, mercury, and bromiated flame retardants. When improperly handled, these toxins can be released into the environment.
4.      
Any food that you buy in the grocery store / mega marts that makes your average meal travels about 1200 miles from where it was produced to your plate.
5.      
If fuel economy in the United States is increased by five miles per gallon, we could save approximately twenty-five billion gallons of gas a year.   
There certainly are ways small and big but doable that could be done. I just not preach but practice each one of them. Also, if me, a plastic and disposable material junkie can turn a hippie chick; I believe everyone can do their bit. 

To save energy
1.      
Turn down your heater couple of degrees and turn up the A/C. It just takes couple of weeks for your body to adjust to the new temperature. Use a fan for that one room you are in, instead of cooling the entire 1200+ sq. ft. or more area of the entire home.
2.      
Use energy save mode on your thermostat
3.      
Don’t ever wash a half filled dish washer.
4.      
Don’t turn on your washer / dryer to get that favorite pair of jeans or whatever else washed for right now! Run a full load please.
5.      
Wash with cold water instead of warm and warm instead of hot.
6.      
Air dry your clothes.  You will not only save energy used for dyer but will also save energy in ironing. My experience says air dried clothes are much crisper and wrinkle less. Many communities won’t allow drying outside but it still can be done. You will be amazed that a decent size clothes dry stand can hold a full load! Or you could use your basement / extra bedroom. Keep the stand near but with safe distance from the vent and you utilize that energy as well.
7.      
Say no to indulging long baths and take short showers.
8.      
Use energy efficient appliances.
9.      
Use energy saver bulbs.
10.  
Turn off lights when you leave the room and Unplug unwanted cords. For example the cell phone charger or toaster or hair dryer will keep draining electricity even when not running     but plugged in.
11.  
Use most powerful tool God ever made – your hands for tasks that could be done by it. Now seriously do you need that fancy electric can opener or that power knife or dough kneader to knead atta for a small family?  
12.  
For all of us cooks there – invest in a toaster oven and use it for any small amount cooking. Yes you don’t need to heat up the entire oven for making 6 tandoori chicken drumsticks or a small casserole. This will also save you time.
13.  
No more Ctrl+Alt+Del and lock computer – turn it OFF!
14.  
Make natural air fresheners. I used to be an air freshener junkie and had one plugged in every room. Now I get dried flowers and any natural oil like lavender lemon etc. I take small pouches ( you can find them in arts and crafts stores or make one yourself with a thin cloth) fill them with dry flowers and splash  few drops of oil. Amazing scent and aroma I must admit.
15.  
Weather proof and seal windows and doors.
16.  
Change the air filters of the heating unit regularly. 

 To reduce waste recyclable or otherwise 
17.  
Remember our moms bringing home groceries in that tote bag? It’s the in thing nowJ. Use such bags for you grocery shopping and don’t take the plastic bags. Many grocery stores are now are selling such bags in stores as well.
18.  
Use washable mugs in the office and encourage peers to use them as well. Assuming   you already use washables at home, if not start doing that.
19.  
Try using brown bags for you trash instead of plastic. Plastic wont biodegrade in the landfill.
20.  
Be frugal in using paper napkins and paper kitchen towels.
21.  
Invest in a reusable water bottle. I use the ones from klean canteen   Use them instead of plastic bottled water. It’s not only good for the environment, but also is good for health as you are avoiding the gases that get infused due to plastic bottles.
22.  
Recycle everything that you can – paper, plastic, cans etc. Living in an apartment is no excuse. All apartments have recyclable bins.
23.  
Never ever trash a plastic bag in the regular trash. Collect them and drop them at your local grocery store for recycling. Yes look closely just in the entrance there is a bin for bag recycling.
24.  
If you don’t need it don’t print it and when you do, print double sided. You will be amazed how much paper this will save!
25.  
Keep the paper size in proportion to the message memo you have. You don’t need an A4 size paper to write a line long message.
26.  
Opt for e-bills and pay bills online. Faster and green way to go. Opt out of retail catalogues; you can see all deals online these days.
27.  
Store leftovers in glass containers. Plastic will also do but glass is just much better for your health and in saving foods freshness and taste. Cut down on plastic wraps and aluminum foils.

To reduce green house gases 
28.  
Minimize driving – Use bicycle or walk the small distances. Plan your errands so you could drive less and achieve more.
29.  
Make an effort to Carpool or make use of public transit whenever you can.
30.  
Buy local grown and organic food. Visit here for list of farmers markets. . Please note there could be some local farms in the area that may not be listed here.
31.  
When you are thinking of buying that car buy a fuel efficient, small or a Hybrid.  You know there was a generation when kids were raised without the gigantic minivans and SUVs.
32.  
Don’t idle your car. If you are not stuck in traffic then don’t keep your car running idle for more than 30 seconds.
33.  
Do regular maintenance for your car and drive at the optimal speed. Apparently 45 mph uses lowest fuel.
34.  
Telecommute if your work allows for it.
35.  
Plant a tree or plants that you can in your surrounding.

 To make a difference 
36.  
Make green investments and buys.  Don’t underestimate the buying power a consumer has. Check out SRI and Ceres to learn about companies and products that care for climate impact.
37.  
Get your friends and family involved. Even a small change by each will count.
38.  
Live by this Mantra : Recycle – Reduce – Reuse   
There is a school of thought which believes that something can be done about the global warming when it is eminent. Please check out  to see how eminent is it? Even if you believe there is a long way before next ice age then consider this: if you are diagnosed with high cholesterol are you going to wait till your heart stops or are you going to turn around and ask your doctor what can you do now to stop it?                       

       All the small steps we could take to preserve earth can be a giant leap in saving generations to come – Think about it please. 

PS:  Even though I have been living a green life for a while now, My greatest inspiration to write this blog came after I watched Too hot not to handle on HBO.

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Gingery Cauliflower

Ginger Gobi
I have been completely oblivious of the existence of the blog world last few days. If you ask me why, I don’t have an answer, or do I? Let’s just blame it on the new fall line ups on TV which have been hogging most of my time: )

 Continuing with the Ganesha thali, this gingery cauliflower is my absolute favorite of cauliflowers in any form. In fact before I was introduced this recipe I hated cauliflower in any form except Pav Bhaji. About three years ago my bestest friend introduced me to this recipe, an authentic lucknowi rastogi recipe. She has now moved back home to India and I often miss the amiable time we spent together. 

What you need

1 average sized cauliflower head (broken into bite size florets and washed)
1 / 2 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 / 4 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
1/4 cup peas (optional)
2 ¼ tablespoon ginger (diced finely)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander (dhaniya) powder
2 tablespoon oil
Salt to taste
 

How to make

Heat oil in a kadhai on medium high heat
Add mustard seeds to oil
When mustard starts crackling add hing and haldi powder
Add the cauliflower florets immediately
Add salt and continue cooking while stirring in between till the florets have almost cooked ¾ of the way
Now add finely diced ginger
Stir for a minute and add the peas*
Add chili powder and dhaniya powder and mix well
When the florets have almost cooked, increase the heat to high and cook on high for couple of minutes

Things to note

1. Never cook in a small pan crowding the florets. That will make cauliflower sweat more and you just have a mushy blob on hand at the end. I have a 12 inch sauté fan tat works wonderfully. 2. Never cover the pan when you cook this, it will just increase moisture leading again to a mushy blob.

 * If you are using frozen peas, you can add them thawed and dried. If you are adding fresh peas, parboil them before hand.

My apologies for a bit out of focus picture.

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