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Thursday, January 27, 2011


While surfing the net recently, I came across a novel called 'Recalcitrance'. It's apparently about Wajid Ali Shah, who I've been obsessed with since I saw Shatranj Ke Khiladi So that's next on the reading list, if I can get my hands on it. Also, on the list- 'Mrityunjaya' by Shivaji Savant. IT's as elusive as REcalcitrance, but supposedly well worth the effort, so the next step is scour the net and see if I can get copies of either of those books. The toothless nawab kebabs are probably going to be on the dinner menu today.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shahi Paneer

I think Shahi Paneer is a joke. Indian restaurants cannot exist without having Shahi Paneer on their menus. I've gone to Chettinad restaurants that feature a Shahi Paneer! It's like Mushroom Methi Matar you simply have to have a Shahi Paneer. This one is a take off on the Shahi Paneer that was served in local restaurant when I was growing up in Flushing. Their specialty was being really mean to their desi patrons and telling the white patrons the roaches they found in their food were 'exotic Indian spices' but they sure made a kick-ass Shahi Paneer!

-1 block paneer, broken roughly (and baked till golden- optional)
- 1 cup peas
-2 tbs ginger/garlic paste
-1/2 cup tomato sauce
-1 cup mixed nuts (blanched almonds, cashews, pistachios, roasted & chopped roughly)
-handful of golden raisins
-1 cup heavy cream
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1 tbs butter chicken masala (I like Shaan)
-1 tsp sugar
-1 tbs dried fenugreek
-pinch of saffron
-salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a pan and sautee the ginger/garlic till golden. Add tomato and masala and stir till oil starts releasing from the sauce. Add paneer and peas and sautee for a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cover for a few more minutes. Uncover and garnish with fenugreek.

This dish is an indulgence so I do take some care in making it. This means broiling my paneer before hand and roasting both the spices and fenugreek. The flavors are extracted better this way and it does make a difference in the flavor of the final dish. Thankfully, the cooking time is quite short so I can put extra care in the prep. It's a rich dish that's very party appropriate but not too hard to make, so it works out well. Serve with naan and rice.


Pesto is so easy to make and the variations are endless! But I always start with a traditional base.

-1 bunch sweet basil
-2-3 cloves garlic  (I like to pre-roast mine to cut the bite)
-1/2 cup EV olive oil
-1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts)
-1/2 cup Parmesan
-salt and pepper

Puree in blender till all ingredients come together. I've made variations with red pepper flakes (for spicy pesto), lemon rind (for fresh summer pesto) half parsley, half basil or basil and arugula- there are so many ways of doing it. And it keeps well in the fridge and can be used on everything!

Shrimp Bruschetta

Easy, easy, easy- and a crowd pleaser to boot!! I have a huge family on the east coast and it's so hard to throw a dinner party and maintain a scrap of sanity too. Everything is done in jumbo portions which of course requires jumbo effort. Now the thing with main courses is that you can cook up a huge potful and put it away for heating when dinner time rolls around. Appetizers are much more difficult because:
A- You have to have them ready to go as your guests arrive
B- You have to make individual portions of most apps.

That's where these seriously low effort bruschettas come in. I used sliced Italian bread and store bought pesto but if I had to do it again I would make my own pesto, which can be premade and tastes infinitely better than the bottled stuff.

-1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined
-1 onion, chopped small
-2 tomatoes, chopped small
-1 cup pesto
-1/2 cup EV olive oil
-salt and pepper, to taste

Mix everything except shrimp in a bowl. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line up all the bread touching closely on a tray. Take some pesto and spread widely over the bread. This can be done roughly and will spare you the trouble of doing each toast individually. Follow with tomato mixture and put aside.

In a pan, heat some olive oil and drop shrimp in, sauteeing till pink. Arrange one on top of each toast and bake for about 5 minutes. Drizzle with some more olive oil and serve.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cheesey Gobhi

Okay, to put it bluntly, I don't like cauliflower. There is no vegetarian food I simply can't eat but it's not on the top my list. My sister in law recently visited India and she mentioned that she ate a maggi dish there that was made with cheese and garlic. We had a party coming up so I figured I'd give it a go.

- 1 cauliflower, florets only
-2 potatoes
-1 onion, sliced roughly
-5-6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
-1 cup any salty cheese, shredded
-1/2 stick butter
-1/2 cup half and half or milk
-2 packets maggi masala
-2 tbs flour
-salt and red pepper to taste
-any fresh green herb for garnishing ( I used cilantro but I think parsley or chive would work well)

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees. In the mirowave boil potatoes and blanch the cauliflower and put aside.

In a heated pan, melt the butter and sautee the garlic til golden. Add flour and stir a few minutes and add milk. When mixture thickens, add cheese and stir on ow heat til a cheese sauce forms that thickly coats the ladle.

Butter an oven proof dish and lay the onions on the bottom. Layer with vegetables and cheese sauce and repeat till finished. Bake till cheese bubbles. Stir once and repeat till browned lightly on top. Garnish and serve with naan.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Ceviche is a seafood dish that appears all throughout Latin America and other parts of the world where that Spanish explorers made their way. I think it's delicious but I think a lot of people are put off by the idea of uncooked seafood and meat. I had a task of convincing my sister to try it out. I mean, it really is cooked, just not in the traditional way. She was wary, but relented and tried it and even polished off her portion.
I really like the fact that ceviche has so many variations. I enjoy seeing how different places put their own twist on a certain dish; the way their land and history influences what goes into it. I wanted to do a very tropical version, with mango and coconut milk but I had already made some spinach- coconut rice on the side so I opted to have a fairly light ceviche. This one is made with red bell peppers, black beans and corn, more Southwestern than Latin American.

-1 pound shrimp, shelled, cleaned and chopped
-1 small onion, chopped small
-1 small red bell pepper, chopped
-1/2 cup corn, cooked
-few sprigs of  cilantro, chopped
-juice of one lemon
-2-3 tbs coconut vinegar
-salt and pepper, to taste

Throw everything in a bowl and wait about 10 hours or till the shrimp turn pink.
I suspect that this preparation is a universal theme. In Mediterranean and Indian sub-continental cooking there is are salads that are dressed with only lemon and salt and plenty of marinades use lemon juice or vinegar to tenderize the meat before cooking. As an Indian, the tastes of ceviche really appeals to my taste buds as it's quite close to the Indian 'Kachumbar' salad which is basically ceviche without the seafood. Oh, and it helped that I mentioned to my sister that some people finish off the ceviche liquid mixed with a shot of vodka. ;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gaucamole with Shrimp

Summertime brings a lot of urgency in the kitchen. In the fall and winter months I can spend hours in the kitchen, making slow cooked meals, popping a cake in the oven, brewing coffee after dinner.... In the summer I just want watery, clean tasting fare that gets me in and out of the kitchen fast. Pretty standard, huh?
So, this is what prompted me to make guacamole shrimp yesterday. I don't even know if that is a real dish. Basically it consisted of sticking some grilled garlicky shrimp in some guac and eating it with roti. Also, no photograph. Although the dish was a good enough eat, it wasn't exactly easy on the eyes. I've seen appetizing pictures of guacamole but this one was no beauty. And with some medium sized shrimp thrown in for good measure, this was not making it to the blog. :)

-1 avocado, pitted and cubed roughly (I got mine at Trader Joe's, frozen, pitted and vacuum sealed)
-1 small onion, chopped fine
-2 small tomatoes, chopped
-few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
-2 tbs lemon juice
-salt and pepper, to taste

Combine in a bowl and mash together. It's a pretty standard recipe but if I have time, I let my onions sit in the lemon juice for 10 minutes first so the acids can cut down their bite.
After that I jut threw some shrimp w/ minced garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a heated oiled pan and let them cook for a few minutes before tossing everything together. The whole thing took about 20 minutes to come together so it was a pretty painless process.