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April 26, 2009

Fresh produce

After my last post on broccoli, I was quite sure it would take atleast a few weeks before I ventured to get more broccoli. Well I couldnt have been more wrong.

This morning Shankari & I went shopping for our veggies and fruits, the farmers market was busier than in the past weeks, with more stands and choices. The first broccoli I saw looked quite fresh, and I could not resist picking it up and searching for u know what, if you have seen my previous post. well since it looked great I picked up a couple.

The nice thing about this place is the chit chat with the friendly vendors, whose faces are now familiar after few months of our bi-weekly shopping trips.

Here is all we got this morning for a grand total of $18.85
20 lemons -$3.00
Cherries $3.00
Broccoli $0.85
Fava Beans $1.00
Cauliflower $1.00
Chives $1.00
Shallots $1.00
2 Large red onions with the sprouts $1.00 ( this was not on the list, but I thought this would make a great picture
apples $1.00
radish $1.00
Kiwi $1.00
oranges $2.00
thai bird chille plants x 7 $2.00
total $18.85

Well hope this makes up a bit for the gross pics of the bugs I put out yesterday. The trick to farmers market shopping is to going there with plenty of time to be able to check and examine the produce patiently.

Enriched broccol

April submission for the jugalbandi click event, this is a broccoli floret taken with my home made macro. Carrot slices were intended to complete the salad, is the orange in the background.

While I was really happy with the rich color and contrast I got on my XTi and home made macro, I was not too pleased to find the extra protein source that came free. BTW I am recently a lacto-ovo-veggie some times I am a "social veggie" dont mind sampling the sauce of a meat dish, or pick the meat off a dish. We this broccoli from our local farmers market.

While I am a fear factor fan, I do not fancy these for my protein, I am content with soy, cheese & lentils. The broccoli was rinsed thoroughly after separating the florets, and soaked in warm salt water, and the bugs below are from just one tiny floret which I pushed off the floret using a toothpick, as they were quite stubbornly stuck to the floret. Needless to say that the entire batch of broccoli went to my compost bin. Now whether I want to choose between pesticide laden bug free produce, or "protein enriched broccoli" for future is quite simple. No more broccoli for me, and definitely not from a restaurant. Sorry broccoli growers, this simply grossed me out to the core. So broccoli fans, examine your broccoli when you shop. You might get more than you were expecting !
Update => Today was the usual farmers market day, and the first broccoli I saw looked fine, and had no bugs and needless to say I picked up some. Yes I am very forgiving and like Shankari say's never say never.
For those of you interested in the details of how I took these pictures, it was using my home made macro. Focus is by moving distance between the subject and the lens, and the camera is set to Tv mode where I can control the shutter speed. The lens has manual aperture setting ring and was set to 11 (quite narrow aperture, almost at minimum setting). I did not mind the really small aperture, as I had the camera on a tripod and was using a cable release. My camera was at ISO 400 and shutter was at 1/5s. I had 2 florescent 5k lamps for lighting up the broccoli. None of these pictures are cropped.

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April 24, 2009

Gobi Manchurian

Indian Chinese cuisine is the adaptation of Chinese seasoning and cooking techniques to Indian tastes. It is said to have been developed by the tiny Chinese community that has lived in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) for over a century.Indeed, in a curious twist, Indian Chinese has followed the mainstream Indian expatriate community as they have spread across the world, providing expatriate Indians with a taste of authentic Indian Chinese.- Wikipedia

Gobi (Cauliflower) Manchurian is one such dish which has a slight Chinese influence with the use of soy sauce and garnished with scallions.

I first had Gobi Manchurian in Salem, India in an Indo-Chinese restaurant and was hooked to it. Mom never made it at home and in Chennai, Chinese road side vendors sold Gobi Manchurian along with Chowmein. I have tried various recipes and we personally like this one the best.

When we started breaking the cauliflower into florets we realized we did not have tomato ketchup, scallions or bell pepper which are some key ingredients, but we made do without it, and did not miss a thing.

All purpose flour – 4 T
Corn Starch – 4 T
Farina/Rava - 2 T
Chill Garlic sauce – 1 T (use sparingly, if you want it less spicy)
Ginger – 2 tsp (finely minced)
Garlic – 2 tsp (finely minced)
Salt to taste
Water to make a batter – ½ cup, approx
Large Cauliflower – Broken into florets.
Vegetable oil for deep drying

For the Sauce

Oil – 3 T
Onion – 1 cup, thinly sliced
Serrano chillies – 2, thinly sliced (remove seeds if you can’t take the heat)
Ginger – 1 T, chopped finely
Garlic – 3 pods, chopped finely
Tomato paste – 2 T
Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 tsp
Jaggery – 3 T ( use brown sugar if you don’t have jaggery)
Chilli Garlic Sauce – 1 T or more to suit your taste.
Soy Sauce – 2 tsp

We prefer making the sauce first and then went on to deep fry the cauliflower.
  • Heat oil in a wok or a pan and when the oil is hot, start sauteing the onions and after a minute, add the chillies, ginger and garlic and saute until the onions turn translucent. This takes about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir well, so that you have no lumps of the tomato and it is well incorporated with the onion.
  • Stir in the cides vinegar, jaggery, chilli garlic sauce and soy sauce and cook on medium low until the jaggery has melted and your house smells divine.
  • Check for seasoning, if you want more heat, add some more chilli garlic paste.
  • Set this aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and while the oil is getting hot, start working on the cauliflower.
  • In a medium sized bowl, add all the dry ingredients first, followed by ginger, garlic and red chilli paste. Mix well and slowly start mixing in little water at a time to make a smooth batter.
  • Dip the cauliflower in the batter and immediately start deep frying. Add as many florets as your pan can hold.
  • Deep fry until they tirn golden brown and set it on a paper towel to drain all the oil.
  • After you complete frying all the florest add it to the sauce and saute on medium high for about 3 minutes.
  • If you have scallions, you can garnish with them.
This is a great appetizer to serve, but I don't think I have the patience to deep fry a whole batch :). Gobi Manchurian taste best when it served piping hot!

Eileen and Sue, this is for you. Thank you for all your support and your friendship.

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April 17, 2009

Mirch Paneer- Paneer in Bell Pepper gravy

When we begin to enjoy cooking, the tendency is to start experimenting and throwing ingredients together to create a dish which warms your palate and your heart. I truly believe that this recipe from Raghavan Iyer is one such recipe. This is from his cookbook 660 Curries.

The recipe is simple, easy to follow and it makes you wonder how a dish can taste so good with just a few ingredients. I taught this in my class last night and everyone loved it. One of my students who ardently hates bell pepper, tried it and she is making this again at her home. There is not a thing you want to change.

Water – 2 cups

Raw Cashew Nuts – ½ cup

Red Bell pepper – 1 lb, cut into 1 inch pieces

Green Cardamom pods- 6

Green Chilies (Thai or Serrano – 2 (do not remove seeds)

Salt – 1 ½ tsp

Chilli powder – 1 tsp

Paneer – 8 oz, cut in 1 inch cubes and fried.

Cilantro – 2 T, finely chopped

  • Pour 2 cups water in a medium size saucepan, and add the cashews, bell peppers, cardamom pods and chilies.
  • Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pan with a lid and cook until fork tender – for about 20 minutes.
  • Blend the peppers along with the water to a fine puree until smooth in texture or you can use an immersion blender as well.
  • Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and stir in the salt, cayenne and paneer and cooked covered over medium low heat for 5 minutes until the paneer is heated through.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve with plain or flavored basmati rice.

Optional: Make this a completely OIL FREE dish by not frying the paneer.

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