Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘Recipe’ Category

I am a little sad

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Our pineapple guava tree died this winter. We had it for the last three years of its long life (judging by the rings, 40-50 at least). In its last few years, it put up with California’s once in a lifetime drought. It also saw a rapid recovery from drought the last two years.

Our tree was the highlight of the patio. It stood alone in rain.

It mingled with our guests when we had parties.

It stood by when a friend knit us a minion.

It gave us a season of fruit

It gave the bees couple of years of nectar (and many decades more when it wasn’t ours).

Our wee little fig tree, that our neighbor gave us when we moved in 3 years ago, is taller than me now. Cycle of life goes on.

Written by Som

April 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Recipe

Charm of black walnut

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Eastern black walnut or American walnut, looks like darker version of walnut and that is where the similarity ends. These smell like forest floor after rain – earthy and spicy with a hint of blue cheese. Wild Black Walnuts are hand-foraged every fall in the Midwest and East-Central United States. Our neighborhood farmer’s market, Sigona’s, carries them in fall.

Pecan and black walnut mini tart

They did not feel right in the breakfast cereal. They were intriguing in the pecan/walnut tart. But  they blossomed  in a walnut pesto. Nowadays, recipes often define pesto as a combination of any herb and any nut. Walnuts, due to their strong flavor, pair well with parsley. Just replace some or all of the regular walnuts with black ones. It will elevate the commonplace “pasta with pesto” dish to a memorable one. And if you particularly wish to pat yourself on the back, combine with a robust wine like zinfandel.

Written by Som

March 26, 2017 at 5:01 pm

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Sprouted spelt bread for your nearly gluten free life

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At a recent microbiome conference, I learned something that has changed my diet around. Scientists have known for a while now that there is a close link between gut bacteria and our diet. And by not eating certain food groups, i.e., reducing the variety of food in our diet, we make the gut microbiome ecosystem worse. When we go gluten free or low FODMAP diet, we also take out whole wheat from our diet which can potentially lead to significant reduction in variety of food consumed. So if one can re-introduce whole wheat back in the diet, without increasing gluten content, it might make the microbiome in our guts fitter.

Oh, who am I kidding. I want a good gluten free bread to go with my soft boiled eggs in the morning and I am sick of paying $6.99 for a loaf a bread.

Looking through Monash University’s gluten analysis, I  had further learned that spelt has less gluten that modern wheat. And sourdough bread made with spelt is nearly gluten free. This got me thinking – while sourdough is not something I wanted to invest time and energy in, what if I could make raised loaf with sprouted wheat? I had also accidentally tumbled on a sprouted spelt flour from the excellent One Degree Organics folks (God bless them!). And in my other experimentation, I had found that sprouting made it easier to digest  legumes. So, putting two plus two together, I hypothesized that if I could make a loaf from sprouted spelt, I would have a happier gut.

Easier hypothesized than done, the real challenge is in the art of making bread from whole wheat. I consider Acme’s whole wheat bread to be the standard of bread making. And I had tried  Bittman’s no knead recipe and failed every time – the bread would  turn out wet inside. Some further research into no knead bread, led to this smithsonian article that  stirred a new hope. Just one  bake later, I knew I had tumbled on the right recipe.

Since then I have made this bread recipe a few times. The bread turns our airy, it is chewy and moist without being wet, and most definitely not dry or crumbly. And it is significantly better than my current commercial favorite, Whole Foods prairie bread. And best of all, my stomach is happy. And my soft boiled eggs have  a perfect companion.

Cross section of sprouted spelt bread using no-knead style

With my one degree organics sprouted spelt flour, I use  16 oz flour, 16 oz water, 2tsp salt, a tiny pinch of fast raising yeast (1/8th tsp), and I let the mixture rise overnight. So far, I have tried making loaf. I follow the temperature to the tee – 520F for  15 minutes, lowering to 470F for 20 and final 15 minutes with oven slighted open (at 470F).

Loaf from sprouted spelt flour

There is a  problem to be solved still. The dough is so wet that it is unclear how to make slits on top. The bread is splitting along the side in this case.

Addendum: Every gut is special. Please experiment with the amount you can handle. I have a very sensitive gut and it is perfectly happy with 1/8th slice of loaf made with 16 oz flour.

Home made gluten free flour for Indian style breads

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Every time mother visits from India, I turn her skills to experimentation of some sort. Current ongoing one is on home made gluten free flours that are perfect for desi style rotis and parathas. I am frankly sick and tired of what you get off the shelf for gluten free flours, they are too starchy and too white.

Here are a few combinations that have worked i.e. they deliver healthy balance of proteins and fibers, result in decent binding and tastes good.  These blends don’t necessarily look pretty…and need a little oil….and Bob’s Mills flours are definitely not cheap….and if you are gluten sensitive, you have probably accepted that life is collection of compromises.

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Written by Som

August 24, 2015 at 7:43 pm

Squash blossom pesto

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In Bengal, these blossoms are made into a paste, typically with mortar and pestle, with freshly grated coconut, green chillies, and mustard paste and eaten with hot white rice.

I made a pesto of lightly stir fried blossoms and goat cheese. Unfortunately, the flavor of the blossoms were overwhelmed by that of the goat cheese. Not what I would call a successful deployment of blossoms even though the pesto itself tasted great. Back to the drawing board.

Written by Som

July 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm

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Idli Dosa at Madurai Idli Kadai

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Paper dosa – crispy, tangy with fresh chutney accompaniments.

Tiny place, long queues and fresh food. Probably the nicest idli in Bay Area.

Written by Som

May 25, 2015 at 2:43 pm

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Be happy, bee happy

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A shrub that can grow as tall as a tree. Full of pink flowers during early spring and attracts bees.

Written by Som

May 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm

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Bacha fish curry, part I

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Freshwater catfish, about 10-12 cm in size like a small trout, soft fleshed, with flavor that of fish eggs.

  • Scientific Name: Eutropiichthys vacha
  • Common Name: Batchwa vacha
  • Bangla Name: Bacha
  • More fish info here, declining population since it is a tasty little fish

To clean, remove gills and guts and trim the fins. Rinse.

To cook, marinate 2 cleaned fish with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1/4 tsp salt for up to 1/2 hr at room temperature or overnight in fridge. Bring 2 tbsp mustard oil to smoking point in a wok, add fish and lightly fry for a few minutes on each side. Add 1/2 tsp onion seeds, 1 thai chili and add 1 cup hot water. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and salt to taste and cook for 5 more minutes. Add 1 tbs chopped coriander leaves and 1/2 tsp lime juice. Serve hot with plain rice.

For a very similar recipe with photos, check this blog out.


Written by Som

November 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Posted in Recipe

Prickly Pear jelly

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These are from Mexico, and pretty expensive at the local market. On the plus side, they are cleaned of the larger prickly thorns.

To eat, cut open and scoop out the flesh and eat. The color can vary, deep orange, purple or watermelon and matches the color of the fruit on the outside. Flesh is not too sweet, is subtly flavored and juicy. There are lots of small seeds that make for a nice texture – mouthfeel is like eating raspberries.

A dear neighbor recently gave us a large pail of prickly pear. He has the deep orange variety. These of course had the thorns unlike the ones from the store. I held each fruit using a tong, gave it a quick rinse in the kitchen basin to get rid of cobwebs and spiders, cut the fruit in half with a sharp knife on a cutting board, scooped the flesh out with a butter spoon and dumped the rest in my compost bin – assembly line style. I got about 6 cups from ~20 fruits.

I cooked the resulting flesh for about 45 minutes to release the juices, added a cinnamon stick at the end and let cool. Strained the resulting mass through a steel strainer to get rid of the seeds – if you just let the liquid drip, you will get a clearer jel but I let the pulp through. Finally, followed a low sugar jelly following instructions on Pomona pectin package for strawberries.

Made exactly 3 mason jars worth of jelly. Two of these will go to my neighbor who has a lot of grandchildren to share fruits of his labor with.

Enjoy with some plain yogurt.

Written by Som

October 11, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Posted in Food, Fruit, Recipe

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Frangipane tart

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This is based on David Lebovitz’s french tart dough recipe. The ratio of liquid to dough is critical in this one. After several failed attempts, the one that worked as advertised was where our chef didn’t really wait for the butter to brown at the edges – just enough for it to bubble.

After the tart is partially baked and cooled, add a layer of fresh made frangipane and add sliced figs on top. Let bake for another 30-40 minutes – during this time, frangipane puffs up and encases the figs. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. And Voila!

Frangipane tart with figs

The tart shell is delicate and buttery and holds up well to cutting and transfer to plate. Flavor of almonds becomes a lot more pronounced upon cooking. This has so much butter that the gluten molecules pass unnoticed through your system!

Written by Som

September 24, 2014 at 7:25 am

Posted in Dessert, Food, Recipe

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Chromatic coffee

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Chromatic’s cafe is located in Santa Clara. All their coffees are excellent but Keynote is our regular go to coffee. Their cold brew can’t be improved upon. For those who love coffee flavored sweet drinks, their latte with coconut milk is richly delicious. Currently I am trying their coffee with a very playful chocolate called “Pop Corn Pop” by Chuao. Chef Michael Antonorsi is a Venezuelan chocolatier based in San Diego. Chuao (pronounced chew-WOW) is named after the legendary cacao-producing region of Venezuela.

Chuao’s mik chocolate with popping candy, puffed amaranth and sea salt.

Written by Som

September 22, 2014 at 8:57 am

French Laundry, a dozen years ago

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French Laundry celebrates twenty years this year. While sifting through some documents, I found a copy of Chef’s Tasting Menu from our Anniversary celebration in 2002.

“Oysters and Pearls”: “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Malpeque Oysters & Osetra Caviar

“Terrine” of Moulard Duck “Foie Gras” with Perigord Truffles, Truffle Salad and Toasted “Brioche”

Seared Yellowfin Tuna “Niçoise”, Sweet Bell Peppers, Niçoise Oliver “Tapenade” and “Oeuf de Caille Poche'”

Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Black Shiitake mushrooms, Pan roasted Bone Marrow and Sauce “Bordelaise”

“Un Paquet Des Rillettes De Lapin” with “Petit Pois A La Francaise”

Whole Roasted Scottish Red Leg Partridge with Savoy Cabbage, Caramelized Salsify and Wild Huckleberries

“Soumaintrain” with Wildflower Honey Roasted Granny Smith Apples and Apple “Gastrique”

Ruby Red Grapefruit Sorbet with Grapefruit “marmelade”

“Délice au Chocolat” with Coffee “Anglaise” and Chocolate “Dentelle”

Mignardise (aka Petit Fours)

And a dozen years later, I still remember the taste of rabbit in pea sauce. I also visually recall the spectacular looking truffle salad – bits of truffle embedded in a wispy cloud of micro greens.

Written by Som

August 9, 2014 at 7:52 pm

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Stretching the pot roast

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Pot roast by Chef Alex Reccio

The pot roast sounded so delicious that we got two orders. It came with mashed potatoes which I swapped out for a farro salad.

The mashed potatoes ended up as potato tikki (aka cutlets) the next morning. And there ware at least four servings of tender beef. I converted the left over beef into ragu the next dinner and paired it with pasta. A little sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano and parsley and – the beef was even more delicious the next day.

Tender juicy beef with unctuous sauce. A single serving came with nearly twice the amount beef.

I had some cooked farro left over from an earlier meal which I converted into salad. The roasted vegetables came with the meal.

Written by Som

August 9, 2014 at 7:30 am

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Munch, munch, munchery munch

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Munchery has all entrees under $10 for 10 weeks. Menu changes every week which is nice. I am increasingly seeing mostly chicken dishes which is either a response to customer demand or rising meat prices. Combining gluten free and low-ish carb has always been difficult. Flavors have felt muted which is particularly noticeable in non-western dishes.

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Written by Som

August 9, 2014 at 7:13 am

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Here is to mother’s day!

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Above is post-lunch drink. Chill the fluids – Blanton’s bourbon and Fever tree ginger ale. Combine half a bottle of ginger ale, gingerly, with an ounce of chilled bourbon. Sit back and enjoy this  slightly sweet, slightly gingery, slightly heady cocktail.

Lunch was a gluten free but otherwise a very Indian meal, something any mom would be proud to serve to her brood – buckwheat fritters with potato curry and raita. Sorry no photos – food disappeared before I had a chance to wipe oil off my fingers!

Make a potato curry. If you have a pet recipe, go with it. What you are looking for are curried potatoes with lots of light gravy, not the dry kind. Make a raita – for this meal, plain yogurt with a good dose of black salt is perfect.

To make the buckwheat batter, to 1 cup of buckwheat flour, add a teaspoon of salt, tablespoon of mango powder and 1 tsp of dried pomegranate seeds. Mix, add one cup water and stir until smooth batter forms. Buckwheat and sour flavor are brilliant together, so don’t skimp on the mango powder. This can be made up to a few days ahead. Preferably let the batter sit overnight.

Bring 2 or more cups of oil to about 350F in your favorite deep frying vessel. I am loving rice bran oil. Any high temperature oil is fine. Keep a paper towel lined cookie sheet in 250 degree oven. This is to keep the fritters warm while they are made in batches. Drop a tablespoon of batter at time in the hot oil. Fry unti the bubbles minimize. Transfer to cookie sheet.  Depending on the size of your frying vessel, you may be able to make up to 6 fritters per batch.

Ideally you want to serve the fritters as soon as they are cooked. But you can indeed keep the fritters warm in the meantime. Serve fritters with potato curry and raita for a not run-of-the-mill meal.

Written by Som

May 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Whole crab for snacking

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Small crab as packaged snacks … mostly sweet. Very strong crab flavor. Probably fried whole? I was curious enough to try but this was too sweet for my taste.

Written by Sachin

February 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm

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One more reason to befriend a Canadian

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A good friend brought us this delicious jar of maple syrup. I am now wondering if they add artificial flavor in the maple syrup they sell in US?

Written by Sachin

February 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm

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Peethi ki Poori, lentil stuffed fried Indian bread

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Peethi ki poori served with potato curry

No pain, no gain. This is one of the more complex of Indian breakfasts that is better left to special occasions.

Peethi: Soak 1 cup dry Urad lentil, whole or broken with no husk, overnight, grind in a food processor so it is not a complete paste with no additional water. Add 2 green chilis, 1 tsp salt, roasted and crushed black peppercorn. In a heavy pan, heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add a pinch of asafoetida and 1 tsp cumin seeds. Cook for 30-45 seconds until fragrant and add the processed lentil. Cook until the mass becomes sticky dough like. Let cool. This can be made upto a couple days in advance.

Potato curry: Peel and chop one large Idaho potato, in 1.5 inch cubes. In 1/4 cup water, add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 2 Tbsp sour yogurt and 2 Tbsp of tomato paste and make into a smooth paste. In a pressure cooker, heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add 2 whole red peppers, 1 tsp dry urad daal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds until they splutter and add the tomato-turmeric paste. Stir until fried and add the potato pieces. Stir to coat, add 1 tsp salt and add 2 cups of water. Pressure cook at medium for 5 minutes after the pressure builds up. Switch off and wait for pressure to subside. You can keep like this this for upto two days. When ready to eat, warm up, crush some of the potatoes with the back of your spoon, adjust for salt and add 2 Tbsp of chopped coriander leaves.

Poori dough: Take 2 cups of whole wheat flour, add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp salt and necessary water to make into smooth dough. Let rest until ready to use. Heat oil for deep frying and maintain temperature while you roll out the poori’s.

Now get ready to put together the meal.
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Written by Som

July 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Aam ka achar, making mango pickles from scratch

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Cut and sun-dried green mangos, mixed with whole spices and topped with mustard oil.

What sells for pickles in Indian grocery stores is not particularly tasty or visually appealing. Often it is an over-salted,  pasty textured mass of disappointment.

Here is a young mango pickle recipe that is relatively easy to make if you have access to healthy dose of summer sun.

During early part of summer, you will find green mangoes in Indian grocery stores. Pick 4 mangoes that are super firm. Firmer they are, better they are for the purpose. Also gather some spices, you will need turmeric powder, coriander seeds, nigella seeds (aka kalounji), fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorn, and mustard oil.

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Written by Som

July 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Upside down banana buckwheat bread

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Banana Buckwheat Bread

This started with the David Lebovitz’s upside down banana bread but with following modifications:

  • Half buckwheat and half regular flour
  • A shot of espresso
  • No cinnamon
  • Reduced sugar in the bread (1/2 cup instead of 3/4) to make up for the extra sugar in the topping
  • Sour yogurt instead of the sour cream

Over the years, I have come to realize that banana bread is a very forgiving recipe. I keep the total amount of wet ingredients approximately the same but otherwise am not particularly fastidious. The only thing I am fastidious about is the ripeness of banana. I always go for the ripest version. Otherwise, a little less sugar, a little more espresso, a little more banana, a little less yogurt…. I am a lazy baker. The end product is always moist, always super banana-y, super chocolate-y.

And yes, I went with the water/sugar topping. It tastes perfectly fine.

Written by Som

July 14, 2013 at 11:46 am