Jun 20, 2011

Quinoa, barley and wild rice salad

another light lunch for Red Chilies

My five year old loves going to the museum and can spend hours roaming the corridors. Before you get any ideas about his artistic abilities, let me explain. It is a children’s museum which allows him and kids like him to play and experiment with things one doesn’t normally get to do at home. There are basins of water with toy boats to study water flow and mechanics of water dams. There are rooms filled with crayons and scissors and balloons and wooden blocks to build lofty buildings and break them down.
Water fun at the museum

For once, the parents trail behind the kids while they lead the way from one room to another. I have to admit sometimes we too get sucked into the excitement of building a castle with disposable plastic glasses. What kid would not like to spend hours in a museum built just for him and his friends?  We make a trip down to the museum at least once a month if not more.
Quinoa, wild rice salad with curly fries

For all the good things our city’s children’s museum offers, it lacks sorely on the good eats front. The cafĂ© offers greasy cheese pizzas and sad looking macaroni and cheese for the kids, both of which my kid refuses to eat (not that I am complaining). For the adults, especially if one is vegetarian, there is very limited offering and what there is of is loaded with grease and salt. They do make excellent curly fries and the kid will eat them happily with ketchup. To supplement the fries, I carry a healthy snack for him and he eats that with the fries. For the adults, I make a quinoa salad with lots of fruits, veggies and nuts. I vary the salad ingredients, sometimes adding wild rice to it, sometimes barely and other times, all three of them.

With strawberries

Jun 14, 2011

Gajar Mooli paranthas (Carrot, radish flatbreads)

First of light lunches for Red Chilies

So paranthas, those Indian flatbreads made by shallow frying them in oil, are not what you would call a light lunch, especially if it is paired by chole or a similar kind of gravy. But in my house, we like to eat them with a light sabzi of aloo mattar (potatoes and peas) or even with some yogurt or lassi. I am sure Supriya of Red Chilies will agree that this one qualifies for a light lunch.

Now, if you are a fan of  Red Chilies you must be aware of the month long event featuring light lunches being showcased there. If you are a regular of my blog you must be aware of my blog's irregular postings. Anyways, a couple of months ago when Supriya did her first event, Dosa Month at RC, I almost smacked myself in the head. I had been thinking of an idea along similar lines to increase my involvement with DSM but never got around to execute it.

The gracious host that she is, Supriya said I could do it with her. So here I am following her lead to announce that I too will be posting light lunches this whole month. If you have a recipe for a light lunch, anything from sandwiches, salads to rice preparation and anything in between, post it and link it to Supriya's announcement. Head on over to her blog to check for rules. She will do the roundup at the end of the month. Not only that, she has a Taste of Home cookbook giveaway for one lucky winner in the US or Canada.

With mango pickle

I grew up taking these paranthas to school in my lunch box and eating them rolled up and dunked in tea for an evening snack. You can make them in a big stack, wrap in foil and they will keep in the refrigerator for a week. I made these after a long time because of a radish, carrot surplus from our local organic farm. We have started buying produce from an organic farm in our area. Every Sat morning we go up to the farm to fill our grocery bag with produce the owner has picked up that morning. We never know what we will get and this time around he went and got a whole bunch of radishes along with red kale, broccoli, carrots, onions, turnips and a big bunch of herbs.

Plucked off the ground
American radishes do not have the sharp, almost pungent taste that the Indian mooli has but it comes very close to it. However, kneaded in the dough with carrots, cilantro and green chilies, they transform the humble parantha into a delicious, almost gourmet tortilla.

Gajar Mooli Paranthas

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups grated radishes and carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (add more if you like)
3-4 green chilies, chopped fine
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp ajwain (caraway seeds)
2 tsp sesame seeds
Salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying

Grate the radishes and carrots, add a little salt and keep aside. Radishes have some water content which is released if you salt them and keep aside for some time.

Meanwhile, finely chop the green chilies and the cilantro. Heap the whole wheat flour in a large, shallow, plate. Add salt, turmeric powder, sesame seeds, ajwain and red chili powder. Mix well.
Red, Yellow, Orange, Green of the kneaded dough

Add the cilantro, green chilies and grated carrot-radish. Use the rendered water from the radishes to knead the dough. If need be, add some more water to make a stiff but pliable dough. Cover and keep aside for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a cast iron skillet. Make slightly larger than golf sized balls from the dough, flatten with your palms and dredge it in some flour. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Slap the rolled out disc on to the hot griddle. Wait for a minute and then turn over. Spread about a teaspoon of oil on the cooked side, flip it over and spread another teaspoon on the other side. Press it down and cook till red spots appear on both sides.

Repeat with the rest of the doug and stack the paranthas like above. Once cooled, store in an airtight container or foil. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week and can be warmed up in the microwave or skillet as needed.

If you are not familiar with the art of making paranthas, here is a video which should give you a pretty good idea of how to make it.

Note: The videos of gajar mooli parantha I found were all for stuffed paranthas. I find stuffing and rolling out paranthas this way too tedious. I prefer to knead the flour very much the same way one makes a methi thepla. This video, which is for methi theplas, should give you an idea of what I am talking about. Just substitute the fenugreek for radishes and carrots.

Jun 1, 2011

Of eggs, onions, strawberries and hot dogs

She heard his audible sigh as he passed the dining room. She was busy taking pictures of juicy, fresh strawberries she had picked up that morning at the farmer's market. "How does he not get it still?" she wondered. She had been blogging for over a year now and as she had gotten more involved with her blog, she had started experimenting more with different cuisines, with photography techniques and with social media. She spent a pretty good amount of time on twitter and facebook and she had a respectable following.

How could she not get addicted to this wonderful medium? Living in a foreign land, this was her way to connect with people from all over the world. She had made friends, shared her frustrations and joys with them and a lot of times learned from them.

Just the other day, Supriya had taught her how to use manual mode on her point and shoot camera. She hadn't fully understood the technicalities of aperture and zoom, but she was excited and eager to experiment. The strawberries were the perfect subject.

She knew she sometimes got carried away and neglected to attend to everything else. Hence his deep sigh of resignation.  She realized she had been at it for almost an hour. It was past breakfast time and he was probably hungry. Come to think of it, she was hungry too.

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