Spicy cauliflower and chickpea salad

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A nice, warm winter treat (though this is good cold, too)! I know cauliflower is making a comeback, as it should! I’m particularly fond of it roasted, a little charred, smoky, but still sweet. This has just the right amount of spice without being overwhelming. Enjoy it with some tapas, bread, and a glass of wine (that’s what I’m going to do right now. Oh yes, and binge watch Project Runway).

Adapted from: Simply Nigella

Prep time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4-6 as an appetizer or 2 for dinner

Ingredients

1 small head of cauliflower

3 tbsp. regular olive oil

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. cumin seeds

1 can (approx 400 gms.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed well

2 tbsp. harissa

2 small, vine ripe tomatoes

Salt, to taste

Bunch of cilantro OR parsley, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or 425 degrees F. Trim the cauliflower into small florets. gobi1
  2. Whisk the oil, cinnamon and cumin seeds together in a bowl. Tip in the cauliflower and toss to coat. Pour the contents into a baking tray or dish and bake for 15 minutes.gobi2
  3. In the ‘dirty’ bowl that you used for the oil, add the harissa, tomatoes and chickpeas and mix together well. chickpeaharissa
  4. When the cauliflower has done its 15 minutes, take it out and add the harissa, tomatoes and chickpea mixture to it. Mix everything and put it back into the oven for another 15 minutes.roastedcauliflower
  5. Once the cauliflower is tender, sprinkle with salt. Garnish with cilantro or parsley leaves and serve!chickpeafinal

Pearl couscous salad with paprika and mint dressing

We’re back to school, lovelies! And what a back-to-school dramaturgy it’s been. We’ve been having a record-breaking heatwave here in southern California, no joke, temperatures reached 100+ with nasty Santa Ana winds (the equivalent of the Delhi ‘loo’) blasting in from the desert.

This salad has been a lifesaver in this unseasonably hot weather. Not only does it keep well in the fridge for days (making a most delicious lunch indeed), but it is easy, quick, cooling, and manages to strike that magic balance between being both light and filling (perfect for teaching days). Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients – almost everything is replaceable and substitutable – you can replace the couscous with quinoa or another grain, you can replace the chickpeas with white or kidney beans, and you can replace the mint with basil or parsley. Etc. Etc. Etc. Whatever you’ve got lying around, I promise it will work. The toasted almonds add such a nice crunch and depth of flavor, you really do need the crunch, so if you have to substitute them, use something crunchy!

You get a hint of cinnamon and smokiness from the bay leaf in the couscous, which adds that subtle vacation-y feeling to this. So we can pretend like summer’s not really over.

Bon appetit!

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cherrytomatoes

dressing

Prep time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2 as generous lunch portions, or 4 as a side

Ingredients

2 cups pearl couscous (sometimes called “Israeli couscous”)

1 15 oz. can (about 430 gms) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1 stick cinnamon

2 small or 1 large bay leaf

1/2 cup black olives, halved

2 cups cherry/grape/heirloom tomatoes, halved

4 small Persian cucumbers, chopped

4 cups boiling water

3/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds, lightly toasted

3 oz. crumbled feta cheese (or any cheese you like, or omit if going vegan)

For the dressing:

4 sprigs of mint, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. paprika

2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar is fine too)

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Dry roast the couscous in a saucepan until the pearls start browning, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. To the couscous, add 4 cups of boiling water (double the amount of couscous you are using), the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, onion and a pinch of salt. When it starts to boil, lower the heat, put on a lid, and cook for about 12-15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, assemble your other ingredients: chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives.
  4. In another small pan, toast your almond slivers and set aside.
  5. Prepare the dressing.
  6. When the water from the couscous has evaporated and the pearls have puffed up, set aside and let the mixture cool down for a few minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves carefully. Lightly fluff the couscous with a fork.
  7. Add the dressing. Gently combine everything with a fork.
  8. Sprinkle the cheese and toasted almonds on top. Serve!

Note: if you will be eating this as leftovers, don’t add all the almonds now – just add them to your own bowl. Save the rest and add them just when you are about to eat so they stay crunchy.

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Sugar snap peas with breadcrumbs, chili and garlic

Happy spring! Apologies for the radio silence, lovelies….what can I say? First year on the TT is kicking my butt. But believe me, I’m determined to make time to blog again. And just slow down.

This week in my CSA, I got a beautiful bunch of sugar snap peas–bright, green, sweet, and crisp. In fact, when I was trimming the peas, they actually exuded this sweet fragrance. How amazing is that?

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This recipe, which I read and slightly adapted from food52.com, is super fast, super easy, and super delicious. It blew me away and I hope you enjoy it too. It makes a great side, light lunch, or appetizer. And now is the perfect time to enjoy them! I love how the crunch from the breadcrumbs complements the crunch of the peas. The heat from the cayenne and slight tanginess from the lemon zest work really well together here too.

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SUGAR SNAP PEAS WITH BREADCRUMBS, CHILI AND GARLIC

Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2 (as a side)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

3 cups sugar snap peas, ends trimmed

Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or red chili flakes

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or any breadcrumbs)

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan on low heat. When the oil is hot, add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes). Add the garlic clove, cook for another minute, then turn off heat. Put into a mixing bowl and zest the lemon into the mixture and add the cayenne pepper or red chili flakes. Set aside.
  2. In the same saucepan, add another tbsp. oil and add the sugar snap peas. Saute for about 2 minutes, until they are still bright green but cooked through. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Mix everything together; squeeze some lemon juice on top. Serve immediately.

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Fall roasted veggies with haloumi

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Tonight, I’m attending a moveable feast in my neighborhood. Each person is responsible for serving one course in their home, and then we move to the next person’s house, and so on. Theoretically, anyway. My guess is that somewhere around the second or third house, we might all fall down with the wine and good food buzzing in our bodies, but who knows? Maybe we actually will make it to dessert.

My friend Denise and I are co-hosting the second course of the evening, appetizers. She is making a mushroom dip and I decided to make these roasted vegetables with haloumi, which I once saw on Nigella Bites. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of cheese on the menu tonight, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. This is also a great recipe for a weeknight dinner – just pop it into the oven and forget about it until five minutes before its ready to eat. Rewarding, rustic, delicious, easy.

If you don’t have/can’t find haloumi, you can substitute with feta or with another salty, crumbly cheese. Or you can also make your own haloumi, which I am going to attempt to do, thanks to this recipe: http://wholesome-cook.com/2012/07/18/homemade-haloumi-cheese-in-an-hour/

Prep time: 1 hour

Ingredients

One large sweet potato

1-2 yellow or red potatoes (whatever you have on hand)

1 red bell pepper

1 red onion

1/2 head of garlic (about 6-8 individual cloves)

4 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. red chilli flakes or cayenne pepper (optional – I feel it adds more flavor)

Grind of pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the potatoes into slightly smaller cubes than the sweet potato (the potatoes are denser than the sweet potatoes, so need slightly more time to cook). Add each ingredient to the pan as you go.
  3. De-seed and cut the red peppers into approximately the same size cubes and add to pan.
  4. Half the red onion and then cut each into 4-6 segments. Discard the outer skin. The onion chunks should stay together.
  5. Separate the cloves of garlic but you don’t need to remove the skins (yay).
  6. Drizzle your olive oil on top and mix everything together with your hands.
  7. Season with pepper and/or red chili flakes if you wish. Don’t add salt because otherwise your vegetables will get mushy.
  8. Arrange all the vegetables in a baking dish. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Gently turn the vegetables about halfway into the baking process.roastveg2
  9. About five minutes before the vegetables are done, slice the haloumi cheese and lay on top of the veggies. Turn your oven on the broiler, and broil for 5 minutes. The cheese should get brown on top (if you don’t want to use cheese, just add salt at this stage).roastveg4
  10. Serve!

White bean, garlic and basil spread

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In continuation of my quest for hearty, delicious lunches, here is a quick and delicious white bean spread, perfect on a wholegrain toast with some avocado and tomato. The basil flavor really comes through and makes this pop as a dip or spread. I had it today for breakfast and now, I want it every day.

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Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 15 oz. can (approx. 425 gms) white, cannelini, or great northern beans

10 basil leaves

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (don’t worry–its going in the food processor)

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Drain the can of beans and rinse well, until the foam disappears from the beans. Add to a food processor. whitebeansrinsed
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients into your food processor and blend everything until smooth. Add more water if you want a smoother or creamier consistency. whitebeanprep
  3. Taste and adjust for sourness, salt and pepper.beansblender
  4. Eat as a dip with pita chips or use as a sandwich spread. Bon appétit! whitebeantoast

Mango and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Mustard Seed Dressing

arugulumango5Summer is officially here! My mum is visiting from Delhi, and today’s recipe is hers (although she says it’s not really hers, but she doesn’t remember where its from).  It’s a salad I’ve eaten many times while visiting my parents in Delhi, and it seemed perfect for the humid, sweltering day we had in Durham today.  Luckily, my mum agreed to model for me (those lovely hands in those photos, hers!), so today’s entry is truly collaborative.

For Indians, nothing symbolizes summer more than the appearance of mangoes in the market.  A sweet, juicy, dripping mango is what makes summer bearable, many would say.  This recipe is all about celebrating those incredibly sweet, ripe mangoes of summer, but contrasting them against some peppery arugula and two different dressings, one sweet and one sour.   You do need ripe, sweet mangoes for this recipe, so in the grocery store, look for mangoes that are a little soft and that give a little when you squeeze them (just like a ripe avocado).

You should prepare the different components of the salad separately: (i) the mango and arugula; (ii) the balsamic dressing; (iii) and the mustard seed dressing.

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arugula1I love the way this salad looks: the bright marigold of the mangoes, with dots of black, against the green.  And it couldn’t be easier. I hope you’ll try it! x

Prep time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 ripe mangoes, cubed (discard the center portion with the seed)

1 bag washed arugula (about 8 cups)

For the balsamic dressing:

3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. honey

Pinch of salt and pepper

4 tbsp. olive oil, whisked in

For the mustard seed dressing:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds

12 curry leaves (approximately)

  1. Wash the arugula and dry it with a dish towel.  Put it in a large bowl leaving a hole in the center for the mangoes.  arugula2
  2. Cut the mangoes into cubes – they don’t have to be exactly the same size.  Place in the center of the bowl with the arugula and set aside.mangoes3
  3. Make your balsamic dressing: add balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk in about 4 tbsp. olive oil.  Taste and set aside.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small saucepan on medium-high heat.  When the oil is very hot, add the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter for about 30 seconds.  mustardseeds1Add the curry leaves, but be careful, the oil will sputter, so be sure that you are not too close to the stove.  When the curry leaves become crisp and fried, turn off the flame and pour the mixture immediately over the diced mango.
  5. Pour the balsamic dressing over the arugula leaves.  Mix everything and serve immediately.arugulamango2

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Avocado, orange, and radish salad with poppy seed dressing

Its been too long.  Despite having pretty good reasons for the hiatus (job applications and interviews and whatnot), believe me, I’ve seriously missed having the time to write out recipes, cook, photograph, and leisurely eat said goods. These last few weeks, I’ve haven’t had much energy to cook, except to throw some lentils into the pressure cooker for a quick dal.

To make up for all that, today I did double duty and cooked all afternoon. It was so good to take a day off and be completely unproductive and selfish.  This salad is perfect for when you need a palate cleanser after a weekend of hedonism (what’s that?) or just a simple but nourishing appetizer or light lunch.  This salad is crisp, fresh, and what is crucial in my book for a good salad: it keeps you interested because every bite is a bit different.  On another note, I was watching a hilarious Portlandia skit in which Fred Armisen’s character develops an addiction to pasta, which they analogize to a drug or alcohol addiction.  In an interview, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein described how the inspiration of the skit was the thought that on our deathbeds, none of us is likely to say that we’re so glad we ate so many salads.  Anyway, this salad is one of those that you won’t regret so much.

PS–If you want to make the dressing vegetarian or vegan, just omit the egg.

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Fruity bedfellows
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Is there anything more satisfying than cutting open a ripe avocado and scraping that creamy goodness out with a spoon?

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Serves: 2

Prep time: 15 minutes

1 ripe avocado

1 orange, peeled and segmented

2 red radishes, sliced

1 bunch rocket or arugula leaves

For the dressing:

1 egg

1 tsp. poppy seeds

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 glug of olive or rapeseed oil

2 tsp. sugar

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

  1. Peel and segment the orange.
  2. Slice the avocado and arrange it and the orange over a bed of rocket or arugula leaves.
  3. Slice the radishes and arrange them on your bed of greens.
  4. Blend together the ingredients for the dressing: the poppy seeds, red wine vinegar, onion, egg, sugar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
  5. Pour over the salad and serve.

 

Okra chips

A lot has been written and said about kale chips (2014 was apparently the year of kale), but I strongly recommend giving okra chips a try. I know some people don’t like the slimy quality that okra sometimes has, but by frying it, you change its texture completely.  These chips are crunchy, crispy, salty–the perfect replacement for a potato chips craving (I have a lot of those).  The chaat masala (easily available at any Indian grocery store) and squeeze of lemon at the end add a salty and sour note which make this the perfect snack, appetizer, or side dish.  From start to finish, your chips will be ready in 15 minutes. Eat ’em hot.

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bhindifry

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A squeeze of lemon at the end and a few coriander leaves, et voila.

Serves: 2

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups vegetable oil (for frying)

4 cups okra, sliced lengthwise, and then halved

2 tbsp. chickpea flour

1 tbsp. chaat masala

1 tsp. coriander powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. turmeric powder

Squeeze of lemon

Coriander leaves (for garnish)

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat up 2 cups of vegetable oil.
  2. Cut the okra in half, lengthwise, and then into half again, as shown in image 1.
  3. Mix the chickpea flour, chaat masala, coriander powder, salt, and turmeric powder together, and then pour over the okra.  Mix well.
  4. When the oil is hot, add about half your okra mixture in.  Fry for about 2-3 minutes, until the okra turn brown.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the okra from the pan and transfer to a paper towel, to let the excess oil drain.
  6. Repeat with the remaining okra.
  7. Once the oil has drained, add a little more chaat masala on top, a squeeze of lemon, and garnish with coriander leaves.  Serve immediately.