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November 14, 2009

We have moved

We have redesigned our website and moved to a new domain and new look. Clicking on the image will take you to the new website if you are not automatically redirected in 10 seconds.All posts have been transferred to the new site.


November 08, 2009

Sunday's with Marlena Spieler - Libyan Spicy Pumpkin Dip

Sunday's with Marlena Spieler is a fun project that three of us will continue till we finish cooking the complete cookbook called Jewish Cooking by Marlena Spieler. The cook book is educative to start with, giving the reader a peep into the history and tradition of the Jews.

This is a Sephardi dip from a Libyan Jewish restaurant. I have made a few changes to the recipe- can I restrain myself from doing that, Nah!.

Jews who settled in lberian peninsula (Modern Spain & Portugal) are called Sephardi Jews. Living in distant lands and mingling with different cultures, a cuisine emerged with influences from these regions. Sephardi cooking uses olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs.

The original recipe called for ground ginger,cumin and curry powder. I decided to use fresh ginger. When I saw curry powder, I started researching on what spices make a curry powder and some of the common ingredients were cardamom, turmeric powder, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and cayenne. I made my own :), ( 1 T- cardamom seeds, 1 T- Cumin, 1/2 tsp- Coriander seeds. Dry roast the three spices and powder along with cayenne and turmeric)

This recipe is perfect for Thanksgiving and to use your left over pumpkin from Halloween.

Olive Oil- 2 T
Red Onion - 1/2, finely chopped
Garlic- 5 pods, minced
Pumpkin- 1 1/2 lbs, peeled and chopped
Fresh ginger- 1/4 tsp, minced
Curry Powder- 1 tsp
Canned Tomatoes- 1/4 cup
Jalapeno- 1, finely chopped ( I did not remove seeds)
Lemon Juice- 2 tsp
Cilantro - 1 tsp, finely chopped
  • Heat oil in a saute pan, add onion and garlic.
  • Cook until the onion turn soft, immediately add the pumpkin and cover with a lid. Let it cook on medium low for about 15 minutes.
  • Add rest of the spices and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in the canned tomatoes and cook until the water has completely evaporated.
  • When the pumpkin is tender, mash the pumpkin coarsely with a masher.
  • Squeeze lemon juice over the pumpkin and stir well.
  • Check for seasonings and adjust per taste.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro.
I served the dip with pita bread. We simply loved this dip. I would eat this even with a steaming cup of rice.

You can buy Marlena's cookbook here. For more fun recipes from Marlena's cook book , check Mel & Eileen's blog.

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November 01, 2009

An Update

Hello Everyone, There are no good reasons for our laziness to blog. We enjoyed the warm summer with a few trips- Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe, Camping@ Burney Falls, a weekend getaway to Mammoth Lake. Each of these trips were memorable and loads of fun.

I am not making lame promises of "trying to be more regular", because now I have made a commitment to blog every Sunday with two of my good buddies. This is how it started ..Mel posts on her FB (
Melody- Beginning my effort to cook my way thru this cookbook...and blog about it. Bet that is a new concept!) , Eileen & I start talking with Mel and we decided to do it together,that simple! So the cookbook we are going to cook our way through is Marlena Spieler’s Jewish Cooking . Thanks Mel, for letting us join you:) in this culinary journey and lessons about Jewish culture and cuisine.

This is going to be fun learning experience for all of us and a fantastic way for our friendship to grow. We have all gone through the cook book, devoured every page with our eyes and have divied up the recipes amongst us. The cook book is truly enjoyable and while some are familiar, there are a few I have never heard about. So watch for our posts every Sunday. More about it here & Eileen will post soon after she takes care of the newest addition in her daughter's family. We will try to make you proud, Marlena!

An update from Rajesh

My attempt at gardening this year started quite late in the year , and was using some seeds that I had saved off a heirloom tomato that Shankari's student gave her last year. This was my first attempt at saving the seed, and as I was quite unsure of the germination rate to expect I used all the seeds that I had saved off. I think I had a 100% success rate and replanted seedlings. We also picked up a few thai pepper plants from the farmers market for a buck and I experimented with DIY grow bag made out of recycled juice containers.

I am harvesting both tomatoes and thai green chillies now. Not too bad for the minimal attention I have given the plants. Watering regularly was the only work done.What surprises me that the plants are still flowering and producing new fruit. I did get some unwelcome visitors. No pesticides were used to keep pests out. I might use BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) next year. The size of the crawler was quite amazing, some how the pic I uploaded through picasa did not make it and I will need to manually upload the pics.

I neglected the real plants & blogging playing farmville, but that is now past.
Look at the size of the green bugger, I have a quarter as reference. He It (If I said he BEE from jugalbandi would be sure to ask how I could be so sure its a he) was quite fiesty when I plucked it off my plant.

In any case, I am still having some chillies and tomatoes inspite of the weather fluctuating between 40 and 75 and this is real harvest compared to virtual crops on farmville.


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October 14, 2009

Spicy Corn Soup with Jalapenos & Roasted Bell Pepper

When the weather is stormy, winds blowing and leaves are strewn all over the place., the only type of food that beckons me is soup and mind you, it should be spicy and hot. Soup has the tendency to warm your heart and soul. I am trying to empty my refrigerator before I buy the next round of veggies. I had four cobs of corn, one bell pepper, one green tomato and a couple sticks of celery. So here is the recipe. You don't have to worry about the size and shape when you chop them, coz they are going to blended anyway :) Olive oil- 1 T Garlic- 1 tsp, chopped Corn- 4, scraped from the cob Red Bell Pepper - 1 Green Tomato- 1 Celery- 1 cup, chopped Thai Red Chilly- 2, chopped Pickled jalapenos- 1 tsp Stock or water- 4 cups Basil- 1 tsp, finely chopped Salt & Pepper- to taste
  • Roast bell pepper or use the bottled kind, if you are in a particularly lazy mood ( I roasted mine directly over the gas stove flame and then let in rest in a brown bag, before I removed the skin off)
  • Heat a saute pan and add oil. When the oil is hot, saute garlic for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the corn, green tomato, celery and red chilly and stir well.
  • Allow it cook for about 5 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile, peel the skin off the bell pepper and roughly chop it.
  • Add the pickled jalapenos, roasted bell pepper , salt and pepper.
  • Add the stock and bring it a boil.
  • you can either use a hand blender or transfer the contents to a blend and blend until it is smooth in texture.
  • Transfer back to the saute pan and let the soup simmer for another 5 minutes, check for seasoning and garnish with basil.
  • Serve with warm garlic bread.

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August 14, 2009

Curried Chicken Salad

The first time I had this kind of a salad was when my friend, Cyndi made this for July 4th block party. R & I both loved it and as always, I asked for her the recipe. She gave it to me, I made it a couple of times and then lost the recipe. This is what I came up with . And yes, I know this recipe calls for curry powder, but who claimed this recipe was Indian??:) wink wink

Curried Chicken Salad

Oil – 1 T

Onion – 1 cup, Sliced

1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat chopped or shredded & chilled

Celery- 1 cup, chopped

Grapes – 1 cup (mix green and purple)

Mango- 1 cut in small cubes

Ginger- 1 tsp, grated


1 1/2 cups plain Greek Yogurt

Mango Chutney- 1 tsp

Curry paste/powder- 2 tsp (add more or less per your taste)

Salt & pepper – to taste


Slivered Almonds- ½ cup

Roasted Sunflower seeds- ¼ cup

  • Heat a sauté pan with oil and cook the onions until they turn golden brown.
  • Set it aside in a bowl and let it cool.
  • In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk well.
  • Add the onions and the rest of the ingredients and stir gently.
  • Garnish with almonds and sunflower seeds and serve chilled or at room temperature.

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July 20, 2009

Jicama,Cucumber, Watermelon and Orange Salad

The temperatures have been soaring here ( we are talking triple digits here) and I have no inclination to stand in front of the stove. We try to cook early in the morning and if we miss that, then we make do with salads, sandwiches, fruit juices etc.

We love the crispness of Jicama, but have never used it myself. This is a refreshing salad and I love that Jicama does not turn soft or soggy even after you refrigerate the salad and have it after a day or two.

English Cucumber - 1
Jicama- 1 cup
Watermelon- 2 cups, Chopped in large chunks
Orange - 1/2 an orange, cut in segments
Orange Juice- Juice the other half
Orange Zest- 1/4 tsp
Basil- 2 tsp ( I used Daregal)
Sugar- 1/2 tsp
Sea salt - to taste

We used the pampered chef Julienne peeler to peel Jicama and English cucumber. It has perfect texture, size and consistency when you use it and most importantly looks pretty!

  • In a bowl, whisk orange juice, orange zest, sugar, basil and salt well.
  • Toss all the other ingredients and stir gently.
  • Check for seasonings and adjust to your taste.
Serve chilled!

Can a recipe be even simpler?Stay cool!

I missed my early morning mark to cook since I was blogging, so leftovers today:)
Updated with link to what Jicama is for those unfamiliar to this tuberous root.
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