Cuban Black Beans

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Like always, my little break from the blog turned into a big vacation! I would love to tell you that I am back refreshed and energetic from my ‘break’, but that would be a big fat lie. The thing is, with the long weekend and an upcoming actual vacation, its been a little hectic here. The to-do list is long as always, but this time I am not working myself up too much over it. The mantra is to finish as much as I can and leave the rest as it is.

Coming to the recipe here, I was supposed to post it last month for the Latin American theme for Blogging Marathon 76. But though I was done with the cooking and clicking, I never got the time to sit and edit the pictures and upload it to the blog. The recipe is from the book The Cuban Table by Ana Pelaez and Ellen Silverman. We had some friends coming over and we served this in Chipotle burrito bowl style. The bowl had brown rice, black beans, grated Mexican cheese, tomato salsa, corn salsa, sour cream and some lettuce.  It was one of the best meals to date. The best compliment I received was the empty bowl of beans and rice and satisfied smiles :-).

Read on for the recipe, its one of my favorites already!1cuban_beans

Serves 8-10 people

For the beans

  • 1 pound black beans (~1/2 kilo)
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sofrito:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • salt as needed

 

Wash the beans thoroughly and soak it overnight. The next morning, rinse the beans and add to a big pot along with about 7-8 cups of water. Add one large chopped onions, one diced bell pepper, 4 crushed garlic cloves and a tablespoon of olive oil and cook for an hour. Since I used the electric pressure cooker, I cooked it for only 25 minutes. For the sofrito (onion garlic base for the beans), warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in a pan. Add one diced green pepper, 3 chopped garlic cloves and one large chopped onion.

 

Cook until the onions are pink. Add 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano and ground cumin, salt as needed and 2 teaspoons of black pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes.

 

Add the prepared sofrito to the black beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the beans to a low boil and let it cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is thickened and the beans is cooked well. For me, it took another 25 minutes to get to the thickness I liked. Add vinegar to taste. Take off the heat and serve with rice.

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This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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Strapatsada – Greek Scrambled Eggs with tomato sauce

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BM # 76: Week 3, Day 2
Theme : Flavors of Greece
Recipe:  Strapatsada, Greek Scrambled eggs 

Like I mentioned yesterday, my well stocked Draft section was of no use when it came to this week’s Blogging Marathon theme. So what you see here is what got served for lunch today. I picked up the book Cooking with Loula from the library last week and was looking for ideas for my posts. Strapatsada, scrambled eggs cooked in a tomato sauce was the first one I zeroed upon. The pictures in the book are really nice, especially the one for this recipe.

The recipe didn’t disappoint, I loved it on top of toast. There is a spoonful of sugar there, but that doesn’t sweeten up the dish. It just enhances the flavor of the tomatoes a bit. The next time I am making it, I would cut the water to half the quantity to reduce the cooking time. Feta is an acquired taste, so skip it if  you don’t like it. All in all, this is a simple recipe with basic ingredients and is quite filling when served with bread.

Read on for the step wise pictures and the recipe.

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Recipe source: Cooking with Loula book;  Serves : 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 3 medium tomatoes, grated or 3/4 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 75 gms crumbled feta cheese (about half cup)

Method:

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a thick pan. Saute one medium onion until turns pink. Add 3/4 cup canned tomatoes or grate three tomatoes and add it to the onions. Add salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar along with 1/2 cup water.

Bring it to a slow boil and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes until the liquid is evaporated and begins to caramelize.

Beat 6 eggs in a separate pan. Season with salt and pepper, keeping it in mind that Feta cheese also has salt in it. Add the beaten eggs to the tomatoes.

Cook, stirring continuously to distribute the egg evenly. When the egg is cooked completely, turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup of Feta cheese. Mix it in. Serve on top of toast.

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Ulli-Mulagu Chammanthi

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BM # 72; Week 1, Day 3

Theme : Dips, spreads and chutneys

Dish: onions crushed coarsely with chillieso

It’s funny when you look at your blog at times. I mean, there are so many recipes here that I am proud of, but a lot of them are not everyday dishes. The more I dig into it, the less I find everyday stuff. 

Take this onion chammanthi for example,this was one of the regular dishes back at home. My mom would take some onions and some chilies, pulse it a couple of times in the mixer with salt, add a bit of coconut oil to it and serve with Dosa for my younger brother. It was, and is still, his favorite. I add a tomato too while pulsing and eat as a salad with rice. It’s heavenly for me. 

Food is always an acquired taste and the dish might be a turn off for many people out there (raw onions with chilies, really!?), but I like it…a lot. It was simple food at its best. Traditionally, this chutney is served with boiled tapioca (kappa puzhingiyathu). The onions are a little more crushed in my mom’s version, but i stopped mine here way before that. 

Anyway, I have to make an extra effort to get the everyday dishes in here. Until then, read on for the recipe for ulli chathachathu(crushed onions). 

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Ingredients:

  • 10-12 pearl onions or 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 green chillies, or per taste
  • salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons coconut oil

Method:

  1. Pulse the chillies and onion with salt as needed in the mixer jar a couple of times. You shouldn’t grind it. The aim is to crush the onions and chillies together a bit, not to puree it. I used a mortar and pestle for this step instead of the mixie. 
  2. Remove the chammanthi to a small bowl, add in 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and mixing it in. Taste test and if you feel like it, add one more teaspoon of oil.
  3. Serve with kappa puzhingiathu(boiled tapioca), dosa or even with rice.

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Guacamole

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BM # 72; Week 1, Day 2
Theme : Dips, spreads and chutneys
Recipe : Guacamole

Given the fact that I had waited until the last minute for this week’s blogging and also that the theme was an easy one, I decided to prepare all the three recipes on the same day so that I can get the photo shoot done in a single session. That way I didn’t have to brave the cold outside three times.

The good part about the winter here is that its sunny even when its cold. In UK, the sun is overcast most of the time because of the frequent rains. The winter starts getting really gray and gloomy after sometime. But here its sunny, so its hard to be depressed even if its cold. Some silver lining, right?

Coming to the recipe here, its Guacamole. I love avocado and this is one fine way to enjoy it. The recipe is very simple with a few ingredients. Mash avocados, add a few things and tada…dish (dip) ready! We had it as a part of burrito bowl yesterday.

Read on for the recipe.
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Recipe source: All recipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tomato, chopped very finely

Method:

  1. Mash the flesh of the avocados with salt and lemon juice using a fork. Add the cayenne pepper, finely chopped onion and tomatoes. Mix with a spoon. Serve immediately or refrigerate until the time of serving.

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Peas Mushroom masala

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BM# 71: Week 3; Day 2
Theme: Make a meal
Dish: Peas Mushroom curry

We had frozen paratha with frozen readymade curry for lunch. And dinner was another short cut variety of food – not readymade, but not a wholesome thali as well. So looking at this thali, I feel jealous of the days where it was a feast on a platter for us :-)). I had made this North Indian Thali for last month’s Blogging Marathon event.

Anyway, today’s post is about one of the dishes in that thali – Peas mushroom masala. I learnt this single method curry from my friend Swapna long time back and till now that’s my go-to curry. You start off with sauteeing ginger garlic paste and pureed tomatoes. Then its time for adding the 4 masala powders (turmeric powder, chilli powder, ground coriander and garam masala). The vegetable or cooked dry beans of your choice goes in next with water as needed. And the last thing to add is one cooked and pureed onion. This basic method holds well for any kind of mix of vegetables. Today its peas and mushroom’s turn.

Check out the North Indian Thali page for the Dal Tadka recipe and here for Aloo Bhindi masala recipe.

Read on for the recipe.

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Serves 3 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi
  • salt

Method:

  1. Chop the onion roughly. Bring it to a boil in a separate small pan with enough water to cover the onions. Take off the heat once its cooked. Puree it once its cool enough to handle. Keep aside.
  2. Puree the tomatoes.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, add the ginger garlic paste. Saute it for a few seconds and add the pureed tomatoes.
  4. Let the tomatoes cook for 3-4 minutes. Now add the chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Add salt as well and saute well to cook the masalas. Add a tablespoon of water if the masalas seem to burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the sliced mushroom and saute until it releases the water. Once its soft and tender, about 4-5 minutes, add the green peas. Mix well and add about 1 cup of water. Cover and cook at a low flame for a few minutes.
  6. Its time to add the pureed onions. Add more water if needed to bring it to a consistency you prefer. Bring it to a boil after adding the onion puree. taste test, adjust seasoning. Add the kasuri methi and mix it in. Take off the heat and serve hot with rotis or rice.

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Chana masala

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BM # 71
Week 1, Day 1
Theme : One pot dishes
I am surprised that the oft repeated everyday dishes are hardly featured here in my space. I was sure that I had a recipe for chana and rajma here since its something I make regularly. Apparently not! Its been part of some thali meals in the past, but never been featured as a recipe post here. Since its a regular dish at my place, I will get a chance soon to update this post with better pictures sometime down the line.
I always use pav bhaji masala when making chana masala. Its something I started long back and I don’t remember how I decided pav bhaji is the masala for this curry. Kasuri methi also adds a wonderful flavor to this dish.
Now a days, I make this curry in the Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker). I use soaked chana directly and don’t bother with cooking it ahead or using canned beans to cut short the time.
Read on for the pictorial.

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Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • one teaspoon oil
  • one medium onion, chopped finely
  • two medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or per taste)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 can garbonzo beans (or soaked and cooked chana)
  • 1 tablespoon Pav bhaji masala
  • 2 teaspoons kasuri methi
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • salt

Pictorial

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Heat one teaspoon oil and saute one chopped medium onion. When it turns pink, add two chopped medium tomatoes. Saute till tomato is cooked a bit and is a little mushy. Add the masala powders (1/4 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp chili, 1 heaped tsp coriander, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tablespoon pav bhaji masala). I forgot to add it at this point, so added it later. Add the salt also.

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Mix well. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook in low heat for 4-5 minutes. If its dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to prevent the masalas from sticking to the bottom. Stir in between to ensure nothing burns.

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When the masalas are all cooked and the tomatoes are mashed well, add 1/2 cup water. Take aside 1/4 cup of cooked or canned garbanzo beans and make a paste out of it in a mixer jar. This paste step is optional, but helps in thickening the curry.

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Add the rest of the chana to the curry. Add water to cover the chana. About 2-3 cups. Let it come to a boil. Add the chana paste to the curry and mix it in with a ladle. This will help thicken the curry.

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Pav bhaji masala is coming to my mind only now :D. Better late than never, add a tablespoon of it to the curry.

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Now time for kasuri methi and chopped coriander. Add it and mix. Let it cook in medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, taste testing and adjusting it as necessary. Take off the heat when it reaches the desired consistency. Serve hot with rice or roti.

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Rajma curry for chawal

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BM # 71
Week 1, Day 1
Theme : One pot dishes
I bought Instant Pot sometime back and now I am a big fan of it. Its an electric pressure cooker and I end up making a lot of one pot dishes in it. The best part is that there is no need to babysit it, you can set the time and walk away without counting the number of whistles or worrying when to turn it off. I usually keep rice in the IP if I have to step out in the mornings, so that way when I am back the lunch is done.
My staples are dal makhini, rajma, sambar, one pot pastas, mujadara, pulao. Rice and dal using separators are also regular.
So for a one pot recipe, I turned to my Instant Pot and here it is!

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Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon jeera
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 2-3 green chillies, cut into two
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (or per taste)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 cup rajma soaked overnight
  • salt

Method:

  1. Wash and soak rajma overnight or for at least three hours. Set aside.
  2. The next morning, heat oil in a pressure cooker or Instant pot (electric pressure cooker). If you are using Instant pot, you have to use the ‘Saute’ function. Add cumin seeds and let it splutter.
  3. Add chopped onions and sliced green chillies to the pan and saute until pink. Time to add the ginger garlic paste. Saute for a few moments and then add the chopped tomatoes. Once it is mixed well, add all the masalas and salt. Let the tomatoes cook until they are a bit mushy.
  4. Change the water of rajma and refill with fresh water. Add this to the pressure cooker. Change the program to ‘Bean/Chili’ in Instant Pot and set the time to 25 minutes. In ordinary pressure cooker, wait for the first whistle and reduce the heat to minimum and let it cook for another 40 minutes.
  5. Let the pressure release naturally. Open the pot, stir everything together. Taste test and if you are adjusting the seasoning, let it cook for another 5 minutes for the flavors to mingle. You can mash the rajma a bit if the curry needs thickening up.
  6. Serve with plain rice or roti.

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Parippu thogayal

 

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My mother in law used to make poricha kuzhambu and keerai masiyal every Saturday for lunch. When we moved out, we started doing the same, but on Fridays and without the keerai masiyal. For us, it was poricha kuzhambu, pickle, rice and pappadam. If I feel fancy, I used to make a thogayal.

Poricha kootu or kuzhambu is a dish which uses up leftover bits of veggies. It takes all veggies in small quantities and is not spicy usually. A spicy pickle or thogayal makes an excellent side dish.

Read on for the pictorial recipe. This post goes to the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add 1/2 cup toor dal and fry until it turns slightly brown. Transfer into the blender. In the same pan, add 3 garlic cloves , 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns and 3-4 red chillies(these are the spice source, so adjust according to your taste). Saute for a minute until the chillis are dry. You can add 1/4 cup coconut to the pan now and fry for another minute. I added it at the time of blending though.

Transfer everything into a mixer jar and blend with 1/4 cup coconut. We like thick and spicy thogayal, so I add only a little water to get everything smooth and ground.

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Potato cheese balls in Palak gravy

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After a long blogging break, you need to polish up your typing skills and cannot write in long posts. So here with less talk and more pictures. This post is a simple story about what you can do to potatoes. You boil them, peel their skin, mash them up.Don’t stop there – spice them up, roll them over spiky breadcrumbs, drop them into hot oil and finally, serve them on a spinach sauce. That’s about the time you feel happy about my absence from the blogging scenario, rt ;-)?

Anyway, torturing potatoes wasn’t my idea. I was just following what Mrs. Vasantha Moorthy’s asked me to do in her Vegetarian Menu book. The book, which I successfully stole, erm..borrowed from my sister-in-law, is quite useful when you need to put together a meal and you are out of ideas. Some combinations from that book are regular repeats for me, like coconut rice and ginger pachadi.

For the past some months, the camera hasn’t been that friendly with me. None of my half hearted attempts at clicking pictures was giving good results.So it definitely was a pleasant feeling when the potato balls came out looking cute on the camera, despite all that I did to them.

Small steps first, when you are walking after a long time :-).

Enjoy the recipe as it goes to the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event. 

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Saute one big onion, 2-3 pods garlic, 1″ ginger piece and 2 green chillies in 1 teaspoon of oil. Once the onions are cooked, add two cups of spinach and salt as needed. Cook for a couple of minutes and let it cool. Once its cool, make a puree and bring it to boil adding some water if its too thick. Thats the gravy.

Pressure cook 5 medium potatoes. Peel and mash them well. Finely chop one big onion and 2-3 green chillies.

Add one tablespoon of kasoori methi (or chopped coriander leaves), minced onion-chilli combination and 1/2 cup shredded(or 2-3 torn slices)cheese to the mashed potatoes and mix it in.

Make lemon sized balls out of  the potato mix. I got around 22. Whisk 1/4 cup all purpose flour with some water (about 1/2 cup) to make a not-so-runny batter. Dip the potato balls in this batter and roll them over breadcrumbs. Deep fry in a kadai or appakuzhi.

To serve, add some spinach gravy to a plate or bowl. Top with the fried potato balls. Sprinkle some cheese or dot with fresh cream, if desired. Serve with chapati or basmati rice.

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The recipe goes to the second week of CCChallenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event. 

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Garlic pepper sambar

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Winter hits hard in these parts and along with it comes runny nose and scratchy throat. It was one of those cold nights that we were at a friend’s place and were served this wonderful sambar. This is perfect if you are feeling a little under the weather. Though none of us were actually down with a cold, it still felt so much better with the warmth of pepper running through your throat. You can now imagine me asking her to repeat the recipe (300 times at least) while I was noting it down.

So for the third week of CCChallenge, I am here with a recipe I noted down from my friend and tried at home later. Its special for me because I have never come across this recipe before. When winter comes around, along with the rasam, I am will have a yummy sambar also under my belt this time!

Check out the CCChallenge page for entries from other bloggers.

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Pictorial: (Scroll down for the recipe without the pictures)

Pressure cook half cup of toor dal along with one medium tomato and one medium onion, chopped roughly.Once the pressure is released, mash the dal and keep aside. Peel one whole garlic bulb.

Using a mortar and pestle (or a mixie jar), crush one tablespoon peppercorns. Transfer this into a small plate. Now crush the garlic using the pestle.

Heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil in a pan, add the crushed pepper and let it cook for a minute. Follow it up with the crushed garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add  2 cups water plus 1 teaspoon tamarind paste mixed well. Let it come to a boil.

Add the mashed dal, salt as needed and let it cook and come to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Take off the heat. For tadka, heat one teaspoon oil and add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 5-6 curry leaves and 1-2 dry red chillies. Once the seeds splutter, add this to the cooked sambar. Serve with rice.

Recipe source: My friend Purnima

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 small head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon pepper corns
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • salt and water as needed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2-3 dry red chili
  • one sprig (5-6) curry leaves

Method:

  1. Pressure cook half cup of toor dal along with one medium tomato and one medium onion, chopped roughly.Once the pressure is released, mash the dal and keep aside.
  2. Peel one whole garlic bulb. Using a mortar and pestle (or a mixie jar), crush one tablespoon peppercorns. Transfer this into a small plate. Now crush the garlic using the pestle.
  3. Heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil in a pan, add the crushed pepper and let it cook for a minute. Follow it up with the crushed garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add  2 cups water plus 1 teaspoon tamarind paste mixed well. Let it come to a boil.Add the mashed dal, salt as needed and let it cook and come to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Take off the heat.
  5. For tadka, heat one teaspoon oil and add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 5-6 curry leaves and 1-2 dry red chillies. Once the seeds splutter, add this to the cooked sambar. Serve with rice

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