Crunchy Chickpea & Corn Cups

These savory appetizers are made with tortillas and are filled with either chickpeas or corn.

A tasty corn alternative for those who have a Trader Joe’s near by, is the Mexican Style Roasted Corn with Cotija cheese.

Make ahead: the cups can be baked up to 2 weeks in advance and stored at room temperature.

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Ingredients

Flour tortillas, to make the cups

Mini muffin pans

Chickpea filling:

1 cup chickpeas (approx 1 can)

3 tablespoons mint chutney

1-2 tablespoons oil

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 small tomato, chopped

1/4- 1/2  teaspoon red chili powder

1/2 teaspoon chaat masala (optional)

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon green chillies, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

Corn filling:

1 cup of boiled corn (or canned)

3 tablespoons cream cheese

3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon green chillies, chopped,

 

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray mini muffin pans with cooking spray.

Cut out large circles from the flour tortillas (even easier with a cookie cutter if you have one) and press into the mini muffin pans.  Bake for about 5 minutes until light brown.  Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Note: These can be made ahead and stored at room temperature in an air tight container for 2 weeks.

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Chickpea filling:

Heat the oil, add onions and saute till light brown. Add the tomato and cook for a minute.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until mixed well. Cool until room temperature.

Fill into tortilla cups and serve.

Corn filling:

Heat the corn in a pan, add the cream cheese and cook on low till the cheese is softened over the corn.

Add the remaining ingredients. Cool until room temperature, fill cups and serve .

OR

1 packet frozen Trader JoesMexican style roasted corn with Cotija cheese.”

Prepare according to directions, cool until room temperature and fill.

 

 

 

 

 

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Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil (or Cilantro!)

My tweaked version of the New York Times recipe was a big hit with my family and friends this summer when corn was in season.  The sauce was easy to prepare ahead of time and could be added to the pasta just before serving.

Ingredients

12 ounces of farfalle pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bunch green onions, chopped, keeping the green and white part of the onion separate

2 cups of corn, cut from fresh corn or frozen corn (reserve 1/4 cup)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup fresh basil or cilantro, more for garnish

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 green or red chili, cut fine

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

fresh lemon juice , as needed

Preparation

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

Heat a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of oil. Saute the white part of the scallions and cook until the onions are soft and then add the corn. Add 1/4 cup water, stir for a few minutes until the corn is tender about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the corn mixture to a blender and blend till a pouring consistency, adding a little water if needed.

Heat the same saucepan with butter, add the reserved 1/4 cup corn and cook till tender about 2 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, green chili, and corn puree. Cook till the puree is heated through.

Add the pasta to the corn puree, adding some of the reserved pasta water to thin the puree if necessary. Heat through and add  Parmesan cheese, green scallions and basil (or cilantro), a squeeze of lemon before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower with Red Pepper Sauce

I came across this delicious cauliflower recipe on FoodNetwork.com as I was looking for a new dish to try for a luncheon with a vegetarian friend. I added a slight twist and used ready made roasted peppers to make it even quicker.

You can use any spice seasoning that you have – on my most recent trip to Baltimore, I discovered McCormick’s new Jalapeño,  Sriracha and also Chipotle seasonings which would work well.

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Ingredients

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets (3-4 cups)

1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of black pepper

4-5 cloves of garlic

1 red pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped or (Jar of roasted red peppers, drained )

1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes   OR

1/2 – 1 teaspoon Mc Cormick Siracha seasoning  or cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons greek yogurt ( or plain yogurt strained in a cheese cloth or paper coffee filter)

2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

3  tablespoons chopped cilantro

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400.

Mix the cauliflower with 2 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper, and spread on a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring half way .

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Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan, add the garlic cloves and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the red pepper or (drained roasted red pepper )and the seasoning of your choice. Cool for a few minutes. Pour into a blender along with the yogurt and blend to smooth puree. Mix in 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.

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Before serving, toss the red pepper sauce with the cauliflower and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and sesame seeds, and heat through.

Garnish with remaining chopped cilantro.

Poha

Poha, also called Pohe, is beaten or flattened rice – a popular dish from the state of Maharashtra. Though traditionally eaten for breakfast or a snack, it is a super quick option for any meal.

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Ingredients

1 cup Pohe (raw beaten rice) – the medium to thick variety

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1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

2-3 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

1-2 small green chillies, slit

a few curry leaves (optional)

1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 small potato, boiled and cubed (optional)

1/2- 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)

1/2 lime

2-3 tablespoon cilantro leaves chopped

Preparation

Place the raw poha in a sieve and rinse it with water for a minute or two. Set aside.

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Heat oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds. As the seeds start to pop, add the onion and saute for a few minutes till it becomes light brown. Add the green chillies and curry leaves, and stir for 30 seconds.

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Add the turmeric, salt and potatoes and the rinsed poha Stir until combined and add one or two tablespoons of water, if the mixture looks dry.

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Cover and cook over low heat for about 3 minutes.  If adding peas, add the peas and continue to cook for another minute. Squeeze the lime  and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

 

 

 

 

Upuma

In the southern part of India, Upuma, a simple breakfast, snack or lunch dish is made from cream of wheat mixed with a few spices.

The cream of wheat used in this dish is of a finer variety, bought in the Indian grocery stores. The cream of wheat found in the supermarket can be used, it is just a little coarser in texture.

When my daughter was working in Atlanta I came up with this home made “upuma mix” which she could use when needed for a quick dinner.  Adding boiling water & some frozen or left over veggies,  it is also nutritious as cream of wheat has iron and some protein.

 

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Ingredients

Upuma Mix:

  1 cup cream of wheat

  1 tablespoon oil

  1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

  1 small red dry chilly, broken

  1 teaspoon urad dal

  1 small onion, finely chopped

  1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

  1 teaspoon salt

1 small tomato, chopped (optional)

1/2 cup cooked vegetables  (green peas, beans, carrots etc)

Preparation

Homemade Upuma Mix:

NOTE: When I’m making the mix, I typically make 4 times this recipe, and store it in the fridge. 

Heat the cream of wheat in a skillet over medium heat until it turns light brown, stirring constantly. Remove from pan and set aside.

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Heat oil in a skillet; add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop add the red dry chilly. Stir for a few seconds and add the onion. Cook the onion till brown, add the ginger and stir for 1-2 more minutes.

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Add the urad dal and nuts, if using, and stir until the dal turns brown (for a few more minutes). Add the toasted cream of wheat and salt and stir well until the cream of wheat is thoroughly mixed in.

If using as a “mix” cool and store in a container in the refrigerator.

Heat 2 cups of water to boiling, and if using vegetables add them now (I added beans that I had in the refrigerator, and a small tomato). Turn down to simmer and add 1 cup of your homemade upuma mix, stir until slightly thickened.

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Cover and continue to simmer for about 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is thick.  Upuma is usually served hot, with a little bit of Indian hot mango or lime pickle.

Swiss Chard or Spinach Focaccia

One of my weaknesses is bread! I enjoy looking for different types of bread recipes. Somewhere along the way I came across the idea of adding swiss chard to focaccia. I just don’t feel as guilty consuming so much bread when I am having something healthy along with it!

This focaccia recipe is great as an appetizer and also perfect for lunch with a bowl of soup. It freezes well – it’s a handy side to have on hand since it is so versatile with meals.

Best of all, the “No Knead Focaccia” recipe from the King Arthur Flour website is the simplest recipe I’ve come across since it doesn’t require kneading! I’ve adapted the recipe slightly below.

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Ingredients

Dough:

1 1/2 cup warm water

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 tablespoon instant yeast.

Topping:

2 bunches swiss chard , ( remove the thick stem) and  coarsely chopped ( 6-8 cups)  OR

6-8 cups coarsely chopped spinach

1-2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt ( preferably)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1-2 green chillies ( hot ) finely minced or ground (optional)

1/3 cup olive oil

Preparation

Lightly grease a large cookie sheet with about 2 tablespoon oil.

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a large mixing bowl and beat at high speed with an electric mixer or 1 minute.

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The dough will be sticky. Scoop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread with a spatula or greased hands.

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Let rise for about 45 – 60 minutes till the dough doubles.

In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for the topping .

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When the dough is risen, add the swiss chard to the dough and spread to cover the dough.

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Bake at 375  for about 20 – 25 minutes. Cool. Cut in squares.

Podi Gudu (Spicy Scrambled Eggs)

Podi gudu and puris were a typical breakfast of mine, growing up in Hyderabad.  For obvious health reasons, puris (fried puffy bread) aren’t the most popular breakfast item any more, and even I don’t feel like making them often because they are fairly time-consuming! I’ve found though, that this flavorful scrambled egg dish is a great lunch item  – as a wrap filling, using a chapati or tortilla- for us adults or kids. For those who do not eat eggs, using tofu is a great substitute.

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Ingredients

2 large eggs, beaten (OR 4 ounce tofu, drained and crumbled)

1 tablespoon oil

1-2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped

1-2 tablespoon bell pepper, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato, finely chopped

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon, each salt and pepper

1 tablespoon coriander leaves (cilantro), finely chopped

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Preparation

Heat oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes until light brown. Add the bell pepper and continue to sauté for another few minutes or till soft. Add the tomatoes, green chillies and seasonings.

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Stir for 30 seconds and pour in the beaten egg or crumbled tofu.

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Cook on low heat for one minute. Stir until the eggs are set; add the cilantro and serve.

Millet Patties

On my recent trip to India, my sister in law told me that she had recently started cooking with Millet. She explained that it has nutritional benefits similar to Quinoa and some other grains but cheaper and easier to find. Millet is a drought tolerant plant which has been grown in many countries pretty easily whereas Quinoa is pricier because it is mainly grown only in the Andes region of South America. Although not a complete protein like Quinoa, it still has quite a high protein content.

Millet is a leading staple grain of India – it is ground and used as a flour to make “rotis” (indian unleavened bread) and also eaten as “ragi” porridge. Though I remember as a child I was given this porridge and I did not like it at all!

Substituting millet for rice was an easy way to start experimenting with recipes, so I used the hulled millet which was available at Whole Foods. I toasted the millet and cooked it like rice. Everyone seemed to eat it though the consensus was that they preferred rice.

The next day I decided to do something different with the remaining cooked millet. After looking online at a few recipes for cutlets and croquettes, I decided to try making my own version combined with leftover vegetables which was a big hit!  It seemed like the perfect grain for making these cutlets, perhaps because of the starch in the millet, egg or breadcrumbs aren’t needed to bind or coat the patties.

I used my favorite frying pan which is my cast iron pan – very little oil is needed and it is practically non stick. (I use my cast iron pan daily… to make pancakes, grilled cheese, chapatis or dosas to name a few!)  The pan does take a little while to heat up – I usually turn it on to medium heat and then after 5-10 minutes or when it is hot, I turn the heat down to low. The patties turned out crisp using the cast iron skillet and I didn’t need to add much oil.

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Ingredients

1 cup hulled millet

2 1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup coarsely grated carrots

2 cloves garlic, grated

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

1-2 small green chilies, finely cut up

1/2 cup cooked corn kernels

1/4 cup finely diced green or red bell pepper

2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

oil for sauteing

Preparation

Toast the millet in a skillet for 3-4 minutes till the millet starts to pop. Add the millet to a saucepan and add 2 1/2 cup water and the salt and bring to boil, simmer till the water is absorbed and the millet is cooked.

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Using a potato masher , mash the cooked millet. add the remains ingredients.

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Take about a 1/3 cup of the mixture, flatten into patties.

Heat a cast iron ( or non stick skillet ) and add 1 tablespoon oil to it and add the patties. Cook on low to medium heat, and cook on low heat for 5-8 minutes till the patties and brown and crisp.Serve immediately or keep warm in a warm oven .

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Spicy Swiss Chard , Spinach and Corn

My very good friend from Spain introduced me to Swiss Chard. She told me she would buy it regularly, but the stores in Columbia didn’t carry it at the time. So, she asked one of them to stock it for her. Now I know why; it is a delicious leafy green vegetable which is full of antioxidants, Vitamin K, and Calcium. It’s easy to digest and all of the nutrition is great for bone health!

The first time I made it I combined it with baby spinach because I had some left over from a previous meal. It cooks quickly and is easy to make – Swiss Chard has become a frequent guest at our table. Instead of corn, you could add Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), tofu cubes, or mushrooms!

Ingredients

4-5 cups Swiss Chard leaves, chopped coarsely (discard the the thick stems)

4 cups baby Spinach (or regular Spinach)

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 green chillies, cut fine

1 cup onions, cut fine

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup corn, cooked

Preparation

Put a large pot of water on high heat. When it starts boiling, add the swiss chard and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Drain, saving about 1/2 cup of the water. Blend the greens with this water until smooth.

Heat oil in the same pan; add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir for 1 minute till the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onion and green chilies and cook until the onions become light brown in color.

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Add the blended greens , salt and turmeric; stir for 2 minutes.  Add the corn; simmer for a few minutes until done.

Indian “Tortilla”

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Many years ago we were invited to our Venezuelan friend’s house for dinner. Much to our surprise, the main course was Calamari. Since we’re not the most adventurous eaters and I don’t eat seafood, it was a very awkward moment!

They were, however, most gracious – the quickest item our hostess could come up with was Tortilla Espanola, probably the most common dish served in Spain. Needless to say, the “Indianized” tortilla became one of our favorite one-dish meals. Sometimes I make a quick potato omelet with a salad for lunch or dinner.  Its also a great meal to use up left over vegetables, versatile so you can serve it as a hot meal, or as a room temperature “tapa” as they do in Spain.

Notes: I prefer to use cooked potatoes as it uses less oil than if you have to saute the raw potatoes prior to making the omelet.  Sometimes I boil a few potatoes with the skin on and store them this way in the refrigerator for a few days and use them in various dishes as needed.

Ingredients

2 – 2 1/2 cups potatoes. cooked and sliced

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 cup diced bell pepper, red or green 

2 – 3 long green chillies, chopped fine

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine

6 -7 large eggs, beatenIMG_2205

Preparation

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium size cast iron skillet (or any other skillet). Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes until soft.  Add the potatoes, bell peppers and spices and continue to stir for another 3-4 minutes.

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Add this mixture to the bowl of beaten eggs along with the cilantro.

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Wipe the skillet and add a tablespoon of oil, and pour the egg mixture back into the skillet. Cook on low till the eggs are nearly set.

Take a large plate, cover the skillet and turn the eggs on to the plate.

Add a tablespoon oil in the skillet and slide the egg back into the skillet. Continue to cook the omelet for about 3-4 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Serves 4- 6.

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