Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘Snack’ Category

Popped lotus seeds

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Puffed lotus seed have been part of Indian snack scene for as long as I can recall.I recently found this product at neighborhood market, Sigona’s. They are made here, right in Palo Alto! These have a little clarified butter, a touch of salt and a hint of heat. The entire 1 oz content is 130 calories. They are more substantial than rice puffs, very unlike popcorn, mostly crunchy and a little chewy. Closest in texture is perhaps pork rind Chicharrón. They do not appear to have a strong taste of their own, essentially picking up the added flavors. You can get these puffed and unflavored lotus seeds in Indian grocery stores but they often smell rancid. If you can find good quality unflavored version, then just toss them in hot butter, salt and perhaps some pepper, chili powder or lime. Enjoy with chai or beer.

Written by Som

October 9, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Bengali fish fry and Kentucky bourbon

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Batter fried small river fish

Kentucky bourbon in a Kolkata home

Fish fry continues to be part of Bengali “afternoon/low tea”. The type and style of fry depends really on the season and availability.  Bigger pieces are typically fried lightly coated in turmeric and salt and served with a dash of lime. Smaller fish are dunked in a a spicy wheat flour or besan (can be substituted with garbanzo bean flour) batter before frying.

My father’s generation can perhaps tell the taste and texture difference between 30-50 different varieties of fish. Most of these varieties have now disappeared from the local markets. Now when I visit Kolkata, there is at least a once a week story about the good old days when fish were plentiful in the rivers.

To be honest, I like the ritual more than anything else. Family gathers at the table waiting for freshly fried fish to be served. My mother’s kitchen is only a few feet from the dinner table so we eagerly watch her as she heats up the mustard oil and fries for a good few minutes until the outside is fried crisp but the flesh is flaky. The pungent aroma of mustard oil mixed with the fresh fish oils is perhaps the best pick me up even on a muggy summer day.

I have developed a fondness for Kentucky bourbon and I think it goes really well with family and fried fish. And my family agrees one hundred percent.

The fish disappears rapidly leaving behind folks licking fingers. A few fish bones on the plate and aroma of fish and bourbon is all that is left behind.

Written by Som

June 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Posted in Food, Snack

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Pimientos de Padrón with a touch of sesame oil and flower peppers

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Padrón peppers tossed with smoked salt and sichuan peppers

These Spanish peppers have caught on in San Francisco Bay Area. Last few years they were expensive and scarce at the farmer’s market, a small basket for $5. This year, our neighborhood Asian market has a large bag of these for $5. Last year, I fried these peppers in oil until blistery. This year, I got lazy and decided to push these under the broiler. Surprisingly enough, they came out at least as good as fried if not better.

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Written by Som

October 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Yet another Delhi street food

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This is one of the great street foods of Delhi – daal pakodas (fried lentil balls) served with grated radish and carrot and  topped with chutneys. Like a small plate of chaat, this is a multi-dimensional exploration of tastes and textures. The pakodas are crunchy and the lentil is tangy. The pakodas are neither too dense nor too fluffy and provides a nice bite. Grated radish and carrot adds a refreshing crispness. Horseradish overtones and bitterness of radish and sweetness of carrots adds to the dimensions of taste. Coriander/mint chutneys are savory, tart, and gingery. Tamarind chutneys bring the taste of molasses, and dates.

Home grown radishes

Frying lentil balls

Fried lentill pakodas

Add grated carrots and radishes

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Written by Som

August 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Desi style Okra fritters

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Following recipe serves two –

  • Start with a dozen tender okra. Wash and dry thoroughly.
  • Slit open with a paring knife and stuff a pinch of the following spice mixture – 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder), 1 tsp anardana (dry pomegranate seeds), 1 tsp toasted and crushed cumin, 1 tsp red pepper powder
  • Prepare a thin cake like batter by mixing 1 cup of besan (bengal gram flour) or chickpea flour with sufficient water, a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp cracked pepper, 1/2 tsp anardana, 1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp nigella seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp of red pepper powder/flakes
  • Prepare a mustard oil bath for frying – 1-2 cups depending on your fryer.
  • Heat mustard oil to smoking.
  • Coat the okra in batter, a few at a time, and fry until golden.
  • Drain on a paper towel and serve with chutney.

 

Stuffing Okra with spices

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Written by Som

August 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Samosa sandwich

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Samosa sandwich – hot crisp samosa sandwiched between sliced white bread with some mint or coriander chutney. Conceptually, this is not far from chip butty.

In a pinch, ketchup can be substituted for chutney. Or Sriracha. In a pinch, wheat bread can be substituted for white. And by the time, you have substituted Trader Joe’s frozen samosa for the real ones, the purists will cringe. But it will satisfy the Punjabi-ness of your being.

Written by Som

February 16, 2011 at 6:28 am

Buckwheat tea cake

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Buckwheat tea cake

Buckwheat tea cake

Somewhere between lunch and dinner, I often find myself craving for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. Mostly I make do with a health bar. Some weekends, when all the chakras are in alignment, a cake is born in my kitchen. This one started out being yet another banana bread variation but the nutty taste of buckwheat overtook the tropical taste of banana. The end product was so moist and nutty that I decided to call it a tea cake, perhaps the best tea cake to come out of my kitchen.

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Written by Som

February 13, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Homegrown la ratte potatoes

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Freshly harvested la ratte potatoes

Freshly harvested la ratte potatoes

This year’s potato crop is a bit of a disappointment. We got La Ratte seed potatoes from Seed Savers Exchange but the yield hasn’t been very encouraging. Perhaps the unusually cool weather is the culprit.

Slow cooked la ratte (serves 2-3)

  • 40-50 of the small potatoes (~ 1/2 lb) scrubbed clean but skin on
  • 2 Tbsp of European style unsalted butter
  • Fleur de Sel or other flake salt to taste

Melt butter in an omelette pan. Cover and cook the potatoes on lowest setting for 20-25 minutes. Pick up the potatoes with a slotted spoon and serve hot with sprinkling of salt. Typically, fleur de sel is used in this quintessential french recipe but I didn’t have it handy. The flesh is buttery and nutty. I found the skin a little peppery. Fantastic with a glass of chilled white wine.

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Written by Som

August 13, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Taquerias – where vegetarians fear to tread

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Little Mexico in Bay Area

Little Mexico in Bay Area

Middlefield Road in Redwood city, somewhere between 5th Avenue and Douglas street is a little Mexican island. Unlike neighboring Palo Alto and Menlo Park,  here there are no cute million dollar homes. Instead, the street is barren of trees and populated by run down yet colorful stores, taquerias, roach coaches and body shops. There is never a lot of crowd on the street and on hot summer afternoons, the emptiness against the stark background is noticeable. When you do see people, you see teenage mothers pushing babies in carts, dilapidated older women in bling, and groups of men standing around in grimy T-shirts, chatting and visually undressing all women walking by.

What brings me here? Yes, the tacos. A plate of tacos is a small meal – it costs practically nothing and can slide in between your normal meals with perfect ease. The salsas excite your tongue, the fresh corn tortillas arrive charred and soft and, the meats here don’t stop at perfectly done carnitas and pastor. You can get tongue, head cheeese, brain, cheek, and tripe too.

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Written by Som

August 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Heart healthy breakfast bars

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Banana-chocolate bar

Banana-chocolate bar

I am sick of store bought bars – I don’t know what it is about them that makes them repulsive after one bite. So, I have been asking my husband to experiment with home made bars. The first one  he made was David’s fruitcake bar with a minor modification – an added teaspoon of fennel seeds. It turned out delicious of course, perhaps a little crumblier than a breakfast bar and a little sweeter, but delicious all the same.

The next one he attempted was Clotilde’s banana chocolate breakfast bars. This turned out great as well. For some reason, we always seem to have overripe bananas at hand, so we have made the banana bar a few times already. The recipe is highly tweakable and easy to make. In fact we put together the last batch at the end of a 14 hr long work day! The basic idea behind these banana bars is to make a matrix of solids – oatmeal, coconut, chocolate chips and nut flakes, then make a gooey mix by adding in the wet components –  mashed ripe banana. In the last batch, we added a dollop of chestnut puree. Yum! To avoid the bars from drying out, I wrap individual size portions in stretch plastic and store in airtight container in the fridge. It makes them easy to carry to work for breakfast or snack.

A taste of London and Paris

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Brioche with marmalade

Brioche with marmalade

A slice of brioche with a drizzle of Seville orange marmalade…..

Local citrus growers have started bringing their Seville oranges to markets now. Made a batch of marmalade this spring following David Lebovitz‘s recipe. We did only one alteration – removed the white pith from the rind before chopping them up. Result – absolutely the best Seville orange marmalade ever. And I am glad we canned the batch – if used in moderation, this should last us the year.

The Brioche was from Acme stand at Mountain View Farmer’s market – a citrus and almond brioche with candied orange and lemon peel and orange blossom water.

Written by Som

June 2, 2010 at 7:49 am

Scream Sorbet

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Evolution played a cruel trick on me by giving me a sweet tooth and then robbing me of the ability to digest lactose – a common component of milk. As a result I look longingly at ice-creams and then have to console myself with a chocolate souffle or two. But no more. Human ingenuity trumps nature again. A sorbet company based in the San Francisco Bay Area makes sorbets that are as creamy textured as ice creams, and have purer flavors to boot. Various organizations that give out awards to geniuses and what not, please take note.

The ingredients are high-quality and fresh, largely bought from local farmer’s markets, which is reflected in the clean flavors of their sorbets. It is also reflected in the sometimes unusual flavors, such as Anaheim Chile and Beet Lemon. They didn’t have Chile or Beet this weekend at our local farmer’s market. But they did have Sweet Potato and Coconut, which was intensely coconut-ty and sweet potato-ey. No fillers, just the taste ma’am. Peanut butter and caramel had that fresh roasted peanut flavor and was mercifully not cloyingly sweet. Hazelnut and Blanxart cocoa sorbet was just heavenly. As each little spoonful melted on my tongue, the perfume of hazelnuts and the lush flavor of cocoa made me want to go back and get a few gallons of the stuff for the week. Good sense prevailed as usual. I shall instead spend this week in anticipation of next week’s farmer’s market and a new set of wonderful tastes.

A note on the texture of these sorbets: I had expected hazelnuts to impart a slightly gritty texture to the sorbet, but it was as smooth as a gelato or ice cream. (Perhaps a Pacojet is involved in the process.)

Written by Sachin

November 15, 2009 at 10:51 am

Banana bread – be happy and healthy

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Chocolate buckwheat banana bread

Chocolate buckwheat banana bread

Growing up in India, soft ripe bananas usually translated to sweet and savory banana fritters. Now, they also end up in banana bread.

Yesterday, instead of the tried and tested banana bread recipe from Joy of Cooking, we decided to go for a new one. So, we substituted whole wheat pastry and buckwheat flour in David Lebovitz’s banana bread recipe, and added 1% homemade sour yogurt instead of sour cream.

Result: A dark, nutty and moist banana bread with only 120 calories per generous slice.

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Written by Sachin

October 18, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Meal replacement cookies

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Bean cookies

Bean cookies

Maybe I should have done a calorie analysis beforehand,  the name itself should have provided that hint. We made smaller cookies than Heidi recommended and got 34 cookies from her recipe. Each one  is about 100 calories; Heidi’s would be 200 per cookie. Now I know why she calls them marathon cookies. The original recipe can be found here.

This has an interesting array of cookie ingredients – white kidney beans, dates, sesame seeds, and aniseed.

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Written by Som

October 12, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Is it bread or is it cake?

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Spice cake/bread

Spice cake/bread

Here is a link to a cake recipe that is not only great tasting but it not too bad for your arteries.

We have made it several times now with multiple variations and it turns out great every time.

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Written by Som

September 25, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Chocolatey chocolate biscotti

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Chocolate biscotti

Chocolate biscotti

Here is a link to our favorite chocolate biscotti recipe from David Lebovitz. When had along with an excellent cup of coffee (e.g. Blue Bottle), this is chocolate and coffee heaven.

We rarely make variations on this one but for this batch, we used dried apricot kernels (source: Trader Joe’s).

Written by Som

September 25, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Why not a chaat truck?

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A plate of papdi chaat

A plate of papdi chaat

Everyone knows a taco truck in California – the truck that come rolling around with sounds of simple jingles and sells fresh Mexican staples with their mouthwatering salsas. Fresh, yummy and cheap is what a good taco truck fare is.

My question is this – what not an Indian version of the same serving chaat and tea?

In the afternoon, when my vampire’s nest (I call my windowless, sunless, fluorescent tube lit, office cubicle that) is at its dullest, I often find myself craving for some samosa and chai. On a winter afternoon, when the incessant rain is doing its worst damage to your mood, a plateful of samosa is the only escape. Sex would be better but samosa is safer. Surely.

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Written by Som

November 7, 2008 at 2:56 am