Lunch/Dinner

Lettuce Wraps with Mango and Tofu

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I have been meaning to make Lettuce wraps at home for ages. Whenever we all go to CPK, my all time order is Lettuce Wraps. They sound healthy, not sure how many calories they are but I make sure never to ask.  

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The ones below are adapted from Cookie and Kate. I added Mint for the flavor and because I have abundance of it right now on my kitchen counter. I also added Cumin Powder and Chili Powder because that’s the way we like it. Add a bit of spice to life, right?

You can totally pack all the ingredients and take them to your next outing and have everyone assemble them for themselves. Less work for you.

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Ingredients:

  • Lettuce (Boston )4 leaves
  • Tofu 1 box extra firm
  • Soy Sauce 2 Tbsp (low sodium preferably)
  • Corn Starch 2 tsp
  • Mangoes  2 small Ripe cut in small pieces
  • Red Bell pepper 1 medium chopped fine
  • Mint Leaves 4 for each wrap – about 16
  • Red Onion chopped 3/4th cup for all four wraps
  • Salt as needed

Sauce

  • Soy Butter 2 Tbsp
  • Soy Sauce 2 Tbsp
  • Apple Cider Vinegar 1 Tbsp
  • Maple Syrup 2 Tbsp
  • Red Chili Powder ½ tsp (optional)
  • Cumin Powder ½ tsp
  • Mustard yellow ½ tsp
  • Hot Water 1 Tbsp

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Tear the leaves from the Lettuce head and keep aside. Make sure not to use the knife otherwise Lettuce will start turning brown.
  • Cut Tofu into small pieces and remove all the excess water. Squeeze the Tofu if you need to but make sure not to crumble it. Mix Corn starch and Soy Sauce well. Cover the Tofu pieces properly with this mixture. It may appear to be very little but it goes a long way. Place the Tofu pieces on Cookie Sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes
  • Mix all the ingredients for the Sauce and whisk until incorporated. If you think it’s thicker than you would like, add a bit more hot water.
  • When Tofu is ready, divide all ingredients in 1/4th
  • place Tofu, Red Onion, Red Bell Pepper and Mangoes on each Lettuce leaf. Top with Sauce or serve the sauce on the side. Add some Mint leaves.

You could also top this with Tortilla strips.

Enjoy.

Spring time Asparagus and Tomato Salad

Spring is in full bloom around here in my beautiful Chicago. Although we have had a few rain soaked week-ends, I am enjoying this new bloom of life. Getting the garden ready and more so the Sun-room ready where we will soon be having almost every meal of week-ends.

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A spring time salad to go with this fresh new life. Delicious, healthy and home-made. We are making a concerted effort at eating healthier. That does mean cooking at home almost exclusively. It never fails to amaze me to see not only food is so much healthier but it also tastes so much better. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple salad like this Asparagus Salad is so easy to come together and adds so much value to your meal.

3Ingredients

  • Asparagus 1 bunch ( for 2 persons)
  • Grape Tomatoes cut in half about 3/4th cup per person 
  • Parmesan shaved per taste about 2 Tbsp per person
  • Radish 2 small per person cut in thin stripes or pieces
  • Walnuts toasted 3 Tbsp person
  • Spinach 1 cup per person cut roughly
  • Dressing – Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe here)

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Directions:

  • Prepare Asparagus – Hold each Asparagus stalk in both your hands at the ends. Bend the stalk. Let it break where it breaks. Keep the end towards the top for Salad. Use the other end for making stalk.
  • Boil water in a large sauce pan. Add the Asparagus tops to the water and let it boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately, remove the water and dump the Asparagus in Ice water bath. This will retain color of the Asparagus and will prevent further cooking.
  • In a separate Salad bowl, mix Spinach, Tomatoes, Asparagus, Radishes. Top with Walnuts and Parmesan. Drizzle the dressing and enjoy.

xo

Amita

Brown Rice and Millet Pancakes

I don’t need to give much introduction for this healthy and versatile item.  There are end less possibilities with what vegetables you can add to this yummy pancake. Add grated carrot or beets or tomato. Simply anything you fancy.

This is one of our go to week-night meal when Mommy gets home late and everyone is ready to eat the kitchen.

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Ingredients:

  • Brown Rice flour 1/2 cup
  • Millet Flour 1/2 cup
  • Egg 1
  • Onion 1/2 chopped in small pieces
  • Green Pepper 1/4 chopped in small pieces
  • Green Chili (optional) per taste grated. I used about 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger grated 1/2 tsp
  • Mint about 5 leaves chopped very small
  • Salt per taste. I used 1/8th tsp

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Directions:

  • Whisk the egg in a separate bowl and keep aside
  • Mix Brown Rice Flour, Millet Flour, Onion, Green Pepper, Green Chili, Ginger, Salt and Mint in a large bowl. 
  • Add the Egg to the above mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Adjust Salt and Green Chili
  • Thin out this mixture to a thinner than Pancake batter (or Uttapa batter) by adding water.
  • Spray non stick spray on a skillet.
  • Spread the batter on the skillet that should thinner than pancake consistency.
  • Let Cook and turn over. Both sides should be golden brown. Keep the heat to medium throughout cooking.

Enjoy

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Ragda Pattice – White Peas with Potato Fritters – Indian Street Food

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I don’t recall exactly when was the first time I had Ragda Patties but I think it was during one of our yearly summer vacations to our Grandparents house. There is one park that was close to my Grandparents house where the street vendors sold this yummy and spicy street food. When you think of a park in U.S., you think of may be an ice Cream truck but if you think of a park in Indian city, you think of all chaat items plus Ice cream. All the vendors shouting over the traffic noise to convince you how their item is the best in the city. When I had never visited U.S., I never realized how much I would miss these scenes but now after spending 15 years here, I miss it so much that I play the scene often in my mind’s eye and decide which vendor I will be visiting first when I am back to my beloved city of Pune. 

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The recipe looks long and tedious but believe me when I say it’s easy. Just soak the Peas night before and it’s practically ready in no time. Hmm, not exactly, but all I am saying is it’s easy. Almost all of it is make ahead. You could make the Ragda the day before and refrigerate. When you want to serve, make the patties and serve as directed below. 

I was running short on time as you know our Saturday mornings are dedicated to the various classes my girls take. I started cooking around mid afternoon for guests coming for dinner. Since my pressure cooker is small, I used Instapot for making Ragda. My original plan was to make Ragda in the slow cooker setting so it will be ready by the time guests arrive for dinner but at the last minute, my nerves gave in and I used the pressure cooker setting to make sure it was really done. I used 20 minutes in Pressure cooker setting and then switched it off. An hour prior to the guests arrival, I added just a little water and kept it on Keep Warm setting. You could always make it on slow cooker setting.

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For Ragda

  • 2 cups white Peas – dry measurement
  • Potato 1 large boiled and cut into pieces
  • Bay leaf 1
  • Cloves 4
  • Chili powder 1 tsp (more per taste)
  • Garam Masala (I used Kitchen King since that’s my favorite and its slightly mild)
  • Jaggery 3 inch piece cut into smaller pieces
  • Tamarind concentrate 2 tsp (make sure you know the strength of the concentrate you are using. Increase or decrease based on your taste and the brand you are using)
  • Salt per taste

For Tempering of Ragda

  • Oil Canola or other neutral oil – 3 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds ½ tsp
  • Curry Leaves about 5
  • Asafetida 1/8 tsp

Patties

  • Potatoes boiled 6 large ( I used yellow potatoes)
  • Mint leaves 6-7
  • Ginger grated 1 ½ tsp
  • Onion cut very small about 1 1/4 cup
  • Chaat Masala  1 tsp
  • Sugar 1 tsp (optional)
  • Salt per taste
  • Oil for shallow frying (I used nonstick cooking spray – 2 sprays per batch)

To serve

  • Onion ½ cut into small pieces
  • Tomatoes 2 cut into small pieces
  • Sev a handful for each dish – available in Indian stores
  • Cilantro a handful
  • Date tamarind Chutney 2 tsp per dish
  • Green Chutney 1 tsp per dish or more per taste
  • Garlic Chutney per taste

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Directions:

  • Soak Peas in a container with about 3 inches water above the peas level, the night before.

To make Patties

  • Boil potatoes in pressure cooker. I have a small cooker so sometimes I have to do it 2 batches. Boil them a little bit more than you would for a potato curry.
  • Cut the Onion and grate ginger.
  • Mix Potatoes (smashed), Ginger, onion, Salt, Sugar and chopped Mint and mix well. Form Patties about 2 inch in diameter.
  • Spray Nonstick Spray on your pan and shallow fry the patties until browned. Flip and brown on the other side. It should take about 3 minutes on each side. The potatoes are already cooked so it doesn’t really need the cooking but the process will bring all the flavors together and add some smokiness to it.

To make Ragda

  • If you are using the pressure cooker, add the soaked peas, Bay Leaf and Cloves. Add enough water and Pressure cook for 20 minutes with no venting. Pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles.
  • If you are using Instapot, use closed vent and pressure cook for 20 minutes. I think you could use less if you do not like Peas that are too soft.
  • Once done, make tempering. Heat oil in a small kadai, add Mustard Seeds, Asafetida and Curry leaves. Wait for Mustard seeds to crackle before adding the rest. Pour this mixture over Ragda directly in the Instapot and leave it alone until an hour before the guests arrive. Keep it on “keep warm” that time.

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To serve

Place two or three patties on a plate. Pour 1 cup ragda (for 2 patties) over the Patties. Add  handful of Sev. Sprinkle Tomato, Onion and Cilantro. Top with Tamarind Chutney and Green Chutney.

Enjoy.

xoxox

Pear Walnut Salad with Blueberries

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Abundance of Pears and Apples in the Winter months can be overwhelming. Especially after the calendar declares that it is Spring but the weather makes you wear a winter coat. I am still making the best I can with Pears. This yummy salad has been making rounds of my dinner table lately but it is so simple that I didn’t think about posting it. Then I thought, why not?

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This salad is also making a good use of a Parmesan block that I bought on a whim.

Ingredients:

  • Arugula a handful for each plate
  • Pear medium sized ripe but not fully ripe
  • Blueberries organic
  • Walnuts a handful
  • Parmesan cheese as much or as little as you want
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Lemon juice 11/2 tsp for each plate

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Directions:

  • Peel and cut Pear in cubes.
  • Roast Walnuts in a pan. Takes about 6-7 minutes on medium flame. Make sure to stir them.
  • Place Arugula in each plate. Top it with Pears, Walnuts and Blueberries.
  • Grate some Parmesan cheese on top.
  • Pour the Lemon juice and adjust Salt and Pepper.

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Roasted Chickpea Salad

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Almost the entirety of my 20s, I believed that cabbage was to be eaten only in one way, the way Maharashtrians make a simple Cabbage Saute. There was no way I would have believed that several years later, I would devour Cabbage in its raw format such as this salad. This Salad is great as a meal or as an accompaniment to a wonderful soup such as Butternut Squash soup is its cold where you live or Avocado Cucumber Soup if its rather Hot where you live.

Serves 1 for Lunch or 2 as a side salad

Ingredients:
  • Purple Cabbage chopped 1/2 of small head
  • Chickpeas 1 can rinsed
  • Cherry Tomatoes about 12
  • Onion chopped 2 Tbsp
  • Corn Tortilla 2
  • Adobo Chipotle Chili powder – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Olive Oil 1 1/2 Tbsp
  • Cucumber cut small (optional) – 1 mini
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper as needed

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Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove Chickpeas from the can and rinse them well. Gently pat with a Kitchen towel to remove excess water and spread on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle Adobo Chipotle Chili on top and mix well using your hands. Pour over the Olive Oil so that all of the chickpeas are coated. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until medium Crisp.
  2. Cut Purple Cabbage, Cucumber, Onion and Tomatoes and set aside.
  3. Remove the Chickpeas from oven when done.
  4. Place the Tortilla in the oven. Let the oven be in the off stage. Remove after about 5 minutes when its crisp. Cut Strips.
  5. Mix all the ingredients above and garnish with Cilantro.
  6. You can eat the Salad as is or pour choice of dressing such as Cilantro Vinaigrette or Thai Peanut Dressing

Enjoy.

xo

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Basil Fried Rice

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When you look at the list of ingredients, you are going to think this sounds like a Thai Fried Rice then why didn’t she say so. Well, look at it again. It says, Duck Sauce. Duck sauce is Chinese-American sauce so I couldn’t call it Thai Basil Fried Rice. When I started making the rice, I mentally scanned my pantry and thought I definitely have some Oyster sauce in the fridge. I made the Rice and then started taking out the sauces and…. no….Oyster…Sauce. Frantically thinking about options, I figured I could use, Duck sauce. The result was great though so you are seeing this recipe.

Also, just for my worried vegetarian friends, Duck sauce is not made of Duck. It is just a sweet and sour sauce, originally made to go with Peking Duck. That is where it derives the name from.

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Serves 2 and a Toddler (just being specific)

Ingredients:

  • Jasmine Rice cooked about 2 1/2 to 3 cups
  • Onion 1 medium cut in thin strips
  • Red Pepper 1 small cut in thin strips
  • Basil leaves 1 1/2 cups
  • Eggs 2 beaten
  • Garlic 2 large cloves minced
  • Duck Sauce 3 Tbsp
  • Soy Sauce 3 Tbsp
  • Fish sauce 2 Tbsp (skip if you are a vegetarian and increase quantity of Duck Sauce and Soy Sauce to make up)
  • Sugar 1 tsp
  • Salt as needed

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Directions:

  • Mix Duck Sauce, Soy Sauce,  Fish Sauce and Sugar and keep aside
  • Heat the woke on medium high heat. Add Oil and heat.
  • Add Onions and saute for a minute.
  • Add Garlic and saute until cooked but not burned
  • Add Red pepper and cook until almost done. It should still stay crisp.
  • Add the sauce mix and let it warm through.
  • Add the cooked Rice and using one fork in each hand, quickly but gently mix the sauce and rice together.
  • When mixed and hot, remove from heat
  • Add the Basil leaves. Keep some of them torn and some of them whole and mix again.
  • Check for Salt and add as needed.
  • Serve warm with a simple salad

Enjoy.

xo

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