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Yes, I finally got it done. Hope you’re enjoying the recipes, and I promise, I promise I will be back with more soon. It’s been a rough couple of years 🙂

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Savory Cornbread Muffins

I love cornbread. It has such an excellent taste, and then, when you top it with golden, slightly-melted butter, it’s ambrosia! I still had some dill leftover from when I made the Poppyseed/Dill Kohlrabi, and we bought some hot banana peppers at the Farmer’s Market. So here are two kinds of savory muffins. I adapted the cornbread recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook.

For the cornbread:

You need: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda; 1/4 tsp salt; 1 egg white; 1 cup yogurt; 1 tbsp honey; 1.5 tbsp melted butter.

How to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients well.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  4. When you are ready, add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, and mix just enough to combine well. Do not stir aggressively.
  5. Pour into a greased muffin pan or square baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. If you are pouring into a muffin pan, do not fill the cups more than halfway.

Dill and Hot Banana Pepper Muffins:

  1. Proceed to prepare the cornbread as above, but do not mix wet and dry yet.
  2. Add 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill and 2 very finely chopped hot banana peppers (or jalapeno, or whatever hot peppers you like) to the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients, mix as above, and bake for 20-22 minutes.

Celery and Onion “Stuffin’ Muffins”:

A variation on a traditional holiday stuffing.

  1. Finely chop one stick of celery (or two) and one small red onion.
  2. Add 1 tsp butter + 1/4 tsp oil to a pan. When hot, add the onion.
  3. When the onion is pink and translucent, add the celery.
  4. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Prepare cornbread mixes, keeping wet and dry separate.
  6. Add the celery and onion to the dry mix.
  7. Add the wet ingredients and mix well as above in the cornbread recipe.
  8. Bake in a hot 350F oven for 20-22 minutes as above in the cornbread recipe.

Kohlrabi with Poppyseed and Dill

I’m always game for trying new ways to cook kohlrabi (knol-khol), which I absolutely adore. And then I thought…marry it with dill! A match made in heaven! As you probably gathered, dill is another one of my favorites. Do try it and let me know what you think.

You need:

5-6 small kohlrabi; 1 small red onion; 1 tbsp poppyseed (khus-khus); 1/4 cup finely chopped dill; 1 small tomato (red).

How to:

  1. Finely chop the onion and tomato.
  2. Dice the kohlrabi.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadahi or wok.
  4. Add the onions. Cook until they are pink and translucent, on medium heat.
  5. Add the poppyseed and stir well.
  6. Add the kohlrabi and stir. Then add 1/4 cup water, stir and cover.
  7. Cook until the kohlrabi is cooked, but not soft (about 10 minutes or less). The easiest way to figure this out is to taste it when it is raw. If it still tastes raw, then it is 🙂
  8. Turn off the heat. Add salt and stir well.
  9. Add the tomatoes and stir.
  10. Add the dill and stir again.

Bharva Karela (Stuffed Bitter Gourd)

I suspect I’m in a small minority when I say I love stuffed karela. I’m not a fan of karela in general, but stuffed…mmm! Here’s how I like to cook it.

Prep time: 3 hours plus 30 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes plus 30 minutes

Don’t get confused. There are three steps to this recipe. Prep the karela (3 hours). Boil the potatoes (40 minutes). Cook the stuffing (15 minutes). Cook the stuffed karela (15 minutes). You can save time by boiling the potatoes while the karela is prepping.

You need: Two karelas; 1/2 a red onion; lots of salt; 1/2 tsp each turmeric (haldi), cayenne (lal mirch), ground coriander (dhania powder), garam masala; amchur; some white cotton string

How to:

Karela: Cut of the tip and end of the karela. Using a knife, scrape off the skin. Cut a slit from tip to end on one side, but do not cut all the way through. Using your finger, scoop out the seeds and flesh. Wash the karelas. Rub well with lots of salt inside and out and set aside for three hours. After three hours, rinse well and stuff.

Potatoes: Two hours after salting the karelas, put the potatoes on to boil. Let them cool. Peel and mash coarsely.

Stuffing: Cut the onion finely. Heat two tbsp oil. Add the onion. Cook until the onion becomes soft, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the potatoes and stir. Cook for three or four minutes.

Stuffed karela: Pat dry the karelas. Stuff them with the stuffing mixture. Tie them shut with thread. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan (one which has a lid). Put the karelas in the oil and cover. Cook for ten minutes or until cooked, turning once or twice so it cooks evenly.

Let it cool, untie the thread, and enjoy. This tastes wonderful with rice and dal.

Tips: Use tongs to turn the karela over. Also, you might need to add a little water to the pan so the karela doesn’t burn. Do not add salt to the stuffing.

Vegetarian Barbecue

We have two grills at home. One for veggies, and one for meat. Now, I’m always disappointed when I go to a barbecue and there is no veggie food, or it’s cooked on the same grill as the meat, or it’s all those fake-meat burgers. So, we have two grills, and lots of vegetables.

We had a grill-out on the weekend to celebrate our successful defenses (the OH and I are both going to be PhDs now!) Here’s what I grilled. These work best if you have a grill tray, so the vegetables don’t fall through the grill.

Grilled eggplant: This is basically the same recipe as Baigun Bhaja, except grilled. You take one of those big round eggplants, the kind you make bharta with. Cut it into slices about 1/4″ thick. Make a mix of oil, turmeric, and cayenne (lal mirch). Paint it onto the eggplant slices with a basting brush. Throw on hot grill and close the grill. You might need to baste it again on the grill so it doesn’t stick. Turn it over after five minutes. It’s done when it goes soft and turns a pale brown. It’s also great as a “burger”.

Grilled Asparagus: Wash the asparagus. Trim by holding the ends and bending gently in the middle. It will snap at the point of tenderness. Discard the ends, it’s the tips you want. Pat dry. Place on a grill tray, or cross-wise on the grill so they don’t fall through. Spray with oil (if you’re using a tray) or baste with some oil, if you’re not. Cover and cook for five minutes, turning occasionally. They are done when they are bright green and “sweating” just a little. They should still be crunchy. Season with salt and lemon pepper for a lovely flavor.

Grilled vegetable skewers: Cut red onions, bell peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash into 1″ pieces. Soak some bamboo skewers in cold water for a couple of minutes. Add a couple of pieces of each vegetable to the skewers. Place on the hot grill. Cover. Turn a couple of times while cooking. Cook for ten minutes, or until the vegetables shrivel up ever so slightly and char on the edges. Season with salt and whatever spices you like.

Grilled corn: There are two ways to grill corn. If you are using dehusked corn, rub it with butter and wrap in foil. Place on the hot grill, cover and cook for about twenty minutes, turning a couple of times in the middle.

If you are using corn with the husk, it will take a little longer. Peel the husk down almost to the end, but do not take it off. Remove the silks (the threads on the corn). Pull the husks back up. Damp the husks slightly, and place on the grill. Close the grill and cook for twenty minutes, turning a couple of times as it cooks. Remove the husks (they will be hot!), rub with butter and salt, and eat. You can also try rubbing it with lemon and salt or kala namak (rock salt).

Grilled paneer: You could make paneer tikki. Or, you could just cut some paneer into 1″ cubes and marinate it. Place two tbsp Kitchen King in a large Ziploc bag. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well. Add the paneer and coat well with the mixture. Place in fridge for four hours. Oil the vegetable grill tray, and place the paneer on it. Cook for five to seven minutes, turning once in the middle.

Roasted garlic: Take two or three whole garlic heads (the entire thing, not just a couple of cloves). Now you can go two ways. Turn an oven to 400 F, wrap the garlic in two layers of foil, and bake for twenty minutes. OR, wrap in two layers of foil and place on a hot grill for twenty minutes or until soft. If you use the oven, about ten minutes into the garlic roast, butter some pieces of french bread and wrap in foil and bake in the oven until the garlic is done.

Let the garlic cool, then squeeze it. The garlic will come out, leaving the skins in your hand. Mash a little more, then spread on the french bread. Add a little salt if you like.

Other grilled vegetables: In general, you can’t go too far wrong if you cut the veggies up, spray them with oil, season with salt and pepper, wrap in foil, and cook on the grill. How long they will take to cook depends on the vegetables.

Have fun grilling, and have a great summer!

On Returning

So I have successfully defended, and the PhD is now a mere matter of filing paperwork. It’s a great feeling! Thank you all for your patience, and I will soon be posting more regularly. I am moving to a place I anticipate I will have to do a lot more cooking than I currently do, so hopefully some good recipes will come out of that.

On Silence

Just in case anyone was wondering why there are no new posts, I’m working on my PhD thesis, and it’s crunch time.

Thank you for your patience! I’ll be back.

Cabbage Sabzi

Use a large, wide pan like a wok or kadhai and keep the heat on high for best results. Do not cover the pan, or you will have too much water in the pan.

You need: 1/2 a head of cabbage; 1 tbsp oil; 1 tsp mustard seeds; 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper; 1/4 cup shredded coconut; salt to taste

How to:

  1. Shred the cabbage.
  2. Heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and cayenne pepper. Stir quickly and add the cabbage.
  3. Add the salt.
  4. Stir the cabbage until it is just wilted.
  5. Take off the heat.

This Curry Powder Business

I have to say this. I’ve said it before, and now I feel the need to say it again, in its own post.

Indian food (as cooked by Indians) doesn’t use “curry powder”. Curry powder is not an Indian spice. It’s probably something the Brits came up with to mimic the flavors of Indian food. But I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t. (So you can’t say I’m saying all this without even trying the darn thing). And no self-respecting Indian cook will use it either. Don’t believe me? Ask a chef. Suvir Saran was quite contemptuous of it on the Next Iron Chef.

So. If you want your food to taste ‘authentically’ Indian, or at least not taste like you’re trying to cook Indian food but you don’t really know what you’re doing, throw out the curry powder. Please. Here are two possible replacements, depending on what you’re trying to cook. For most North Indian dishes, garam masala is your basic masala. For South Indian dishes, you can use a variety of spices, but sambar masala (recipe forthcoming) or rasam podi are good bets. Unless you’re making kootu.

So yes, I’m snooty about this. So should you be. And if you use curry powder just because it’s easy to get, make your way to an India store and buy some garam masala. Or buy it online at http://www.ishopindian.com/.

And make that solemn promise – no more will you desecrate your Indian food by adding curry powder.

A Vegetarian Christmas Dinner

Merry Christmas to all of you!

It’s the 24th! What’s the plan for Christmas dinner? The OH has got plans for ham, but my plans are a little more elaborate. And yet, so simple!

Here’s what’s on the menu:

  1. Cornbread dressing (because it’s so good and one shouldn’t have to eat it only on Thanksgiving)
  2. Stuffed Acorn Squash

There’s only the two of us, so that’s quite enough for me. If you’re looking for other options, try some Celery Soup (you can also cook it on the stovetop), Delicata RiceVeggie-Feta Pot Pie, Baked Brie with Blueberry Chutney, or Paneer cutlets with Mango Chutney.

Happy Eating!