4.06.2015

Paneer in Cardamom Bechamel Sauce


This recipe truly came to me on the fly. I had been thinking of using up some left over paneer for a few days. In the meantime, my husband who was on a hard cardiology rotation said he was coming home a few hours earlier than expected. I realized he was probably super hungry and I wanted to make something delicious but quickly made. Somehow in the randomness of mind,  I was thinking of Bechamel sauce. I know that really does not go with an Indian cheese such as paneer but with a fusion of flavors it worked perfectly. This sauce was delicate and with layers of flavor and became my instant favorite recipes. Usually homemade or restaurant Indian food has "in-the-face"spice so I would say this is definitely something different from the usual Indian delicacies. Its subtlety of flavor reminds me more of the French than the Indians but I surely did not mind creating a fusion for sure. If you have read this blog before you would know how obsessed I am with paneer and I will come up with as many ways as I can to consume it. 
I think the thick sauce of course is amazing but the star of the show is the cardamom. The flavor of the cardamom comes in about a second after you take the bite but is truly heavenly. I would recommend having this dish with toasted bread, naan or chappati. It really was hard to resist this dish for too long and we finished a large serving in just one sitting. I can tell you it was worth it. Usually I do not make a certain dish more than a few times but this will be a recurrence for sure. I made it in about 15 minutes and it was not any less than any restaurant delicacy. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. For the non-vegetarians reading this I am sure instead of paneer chicken can also be used and would create the same effect. 


Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of Salted Butter
2 Tablespoons of All-purpose Flour
2 Cups of Milk
1 Cup of Thawed Peas
1 Cup of Kale
14 Ounces of Paneer (Cubed 1 inch x 1 inch)
1 Tablespoon of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon of Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
10-15 Basil Leaves (Chopped)
6 Whole Cardamom Seeds (Opened and chopped)
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
1)In a saucepan on medium heat start by melting the butter.
2)When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the all purpose flour.
3)Whisk together the roux and do not let it get brown. 
4)When roux is mixed well (within 1-2 minutes), pour in the milk. 
5)Whisk for 3-5 minutes until a thick sauce appears. Set aside.
6) In a separate skillet on medium heat, pour in the extra-virgin olive oil.
7)Add in the peas & kale and stir. 
8)Sprinkle in cardamom, nutmeg and cumin. Add salt & pepper to taste. 
9)Finally, toss in the chopped basil leaves and mix well for 1-2 minutes. 
10)Pour in the above made bechamel sauce into the skillet. Toss in the paneer cubes. 
11)Simmer the sauce for approximately 10-15 minutes for all the flavors to come together.
12)Serve with bread or naan.

Bon Appetite!!










3.30.2015

Kung Pao Cauilflower


This is definitely a really fun and spicy recipe that fits in very well with "Why Not Spicy? theme". This can be considered a nice side dish with noodles, rice and other meat dishes. It is so perfectly sweet, sour and spicy that it makes my non-favorite vegetable cauliflower into one of my favorites. The key to this recipe is to try to make the cauliflower into the smallest possible florets. The sauce that goes into this is so easy to remember and transforms a boring vegetable into a super exciting one.

Just remember the 1/8th rule for  this one. It means 1/8th cup of ketchup, sriracha, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. This rule doesn't just work for this cauliflower recipe but can be used for noodles, fried rice or any other Asian stir fry. I love asian recipes because they are light and always add a new flavor to a normal weekday meal.

I cannot emphasize enough how awesome cooking for yourself/significant other/friend is. I promise it does not take too long on a normal everyday basis and makes such a difference in our health and is a money saver. I can tell you being a resident doctor I always have either work, research or studying to do but just taking out half an hour of my day to cook a meal makes me feel so productive and happy. Not only do I feel fulfilled because I cooked a meal for husband and I but I feel like we saved so much money just by eating in.

My husband is not a big fan of asian cuisine however this recipe was so light and flavorful that even he could not deny that kung pao cauliflower really does rock!!

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon of Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1 Head of Cauliflower (Chopped into smaller florets)
1 White Onion (Finely Chopped)
3-4 Cloves of Garlic (Finely Chopped)
1 Teaspoon of Ginger Paste (Fresh minced ginger can be used also)
1/8 Cup of Soy Sauce
1/8 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
1/8 Cup of Sriracha Sauce
1/8 Cup of Ketchup
1/4 Cup of Peanut Butter
2 Teaspoons of Crushed Red Pepper
3 Sprigs of Cilantro (Chopped)
1/4 Cup of Chopped Salted Peanuts


Directions:
1. Heat a skillet (preferrable cast-iron) on the stove on medium level.
2. Pour in the extra-virgin olive oil and let it heat up for 1-2 minutes.
3. Toss in the chopped onions and cook until golden brown.
4. Add in the garlic and ginger paste. Mix well.
5. Place the cauliflower florets into the skillet and stir well. Make sure the onion mix and cauliflower and well mixed.
6. In a separate bowl, mix in the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup and sriracha.
7. Once its well mixed, add in the peanut butter in the same bowl. Mix well and it will be chunky.
8. Pour the mix into the cauliflower still cooking in the skillet. Mix well and the color of the cauliflower should now change to orange/red.
9. Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper and chopped peanuts.
10. Finally add the cilantro and serve immediately.

Bon Appetite!





 

3.14.2015

White & Dark Chocolate Millionaire's Shortbread

I cannot get over how easy and delicious this treat is. It is originally from England and its called "millionaire's" shortbread for a reason. As you can see from the picture above, it has multiple layers of heavenly goodness. It starts from shortbread on the bottom layer (flour, butter, sugar thats it!), caramel in the middle and white & dark chocolate on top. How can you go wrong with these ingredients? It takes about an hour to make and can be stored up to two weeks. I made these for a lecture at work for all my co-workers and they disappeared quickly of course. They certainly are decadent and all you need is one piece of this to be satisfied (usually, lol).

I am certainly not a baker because I like to get creative with the ingredients.  I would call myself a savory cook, for sure. This recipe does not require a precise baker and is one of the easiest and delicious cookies you have ever had. I can surely make that guarantee!
My husband has a major sweet tooth so I had to keep these away from him as much as I possibly could.

Most of our weeknights I cook even with our busy schedule. There are many reasons for this- I love to cook (this may not apply to everyone and I understand that), it's cheaper than eating out or ordering in and its lower in calories. I am a 20 something year old girl and I can empathesize with anyone living alone and working hard jobs. I understand the difficulty of cooking after work. I am a resident physician, I can tell you this is the busiest I will ever get in my career but I found time to cook, not only to be creative but to create a time to cherish with my husband. At many times we cook  and enjoy the recipes together. I would encourage everyone to cook at home as much as they can to stay in shape, save money and keep a traditional dinner alive. We try to restrict ourselves with 1-2 weeknights to have dessert usually and I would not say we would eat this recipe everyday but its okay once in a while ;-).
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Please email me your additional suggestions or constructive comments on this recipe on shuchie.jaggi@gmail.com


Ingredients:
Shortbread:
1 1/2 Cup of All-purpose flour
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup of Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt

Caramel Layer
1 1/2 Cans of Condensed Milk (14 ounce cans)
1/2 Stick of Unsalted Butter

1/2 pound of  Dark Chocolate Chips
1/2 pound of White chocolate Chips

Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Using a hand mixer, mix together all-purpose flour, room-temperature butter, sugar and salt. They should resemble peas.
3. Set your batter on the bottom of a 8 x12 inch dish
4. Bake the shortbread mixture for approximately 20-25 minutes until it is golden brown on the edges.
5.In a saucepan, melt butter and then add in the condensed milk.
6. Stir until it appears to be amber colored (Approximately 15 minutes).
7. Layer your caramel mixture on top of the baked shortbread. Let it set for 10 minutes on room temperature.
8. Place a glass bowl on top of a saucepan and melt white chocolate.
9. Once the caramel layer is cooled, pour the melted white chocolate on top. Make sure it covers the entire shortbread. Cool for 10-15 minutes.
10. Repeat Step 9 with dark chocolate. Pour on top of the cooled white chocolate.
11. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.
12. Cut into 1 x 2 inch pieces and devour. It could be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



2.23.2015

Garlicky' Kale Chips


After coming back from work and before dinner is ready, I am always looking to eat a quick snack. It is a tough time when hunger levels are super high. This is the time when most of us turn to unhealthy snacking such as potato chips, ice cream, cookies etc. They surely are unnecessary and non-nutritious calories right before dinner. A great way to deal with the hunger pangs are through these super yummy, salty kale chips. We sometimes do not even realize that the behind these crispy chips lies a superfood; Kale. It is packed with vitamins and minerals and are low in calories. Sometimes, I pack them with me to work for the next day and it goes very well with sandwiches. Remember extra-virgin olive oil that was great for reducing cardiovascular risk? It is part of this recipe and contributes to the good calories.Try this easy recipe and store kale chips as your next snack!

Ingredients:
4 Cups of Kale (Coarsely Chopped)
2 Tablespoons of Extra-Virgin
1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
Salt to Taste (2 Teaspoons preferable)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. In a large Ziploc bag, add all of the above-mentioned ingredients together. Shake the bag well, until all the kale leaves are covered with the olive oil. Place the contents of the bag, onto a flat cookie baking sheet and place in the oven. The chips should be crispy by the end and will take approximately 30 minutes, flip them once in the middle. 

2.19.2015

Koshari (National Dish of Egypt)


My occasional cravings for Koshari do occur on a monthly basis when I feel like having a satisfying meal. Koshari is considered Egypt's street food. Street food just by its name has to be delicious. In New York it is the halal carts, with chicken and rice, Malaysia; curry puffs, India; Chaat  and if we have tasted any of these we know how delectable they are.  The reason  this one to be different is because no other meal has rice, pasta and chickpeas altogether. It is just not the usual combination of ingredients for us in the United states. Believe me it is so satisfying when topped with a mediterranean style thick tomato sauce and crispy fried onions, A huge burst of flavor in all honesty. It makes for a quick fun meal and is sure to be a great party dish as well.
The way I initially learnt this recipe was through one of my Egyptian friends when we held a "Koshari party". Yes, it is certainly worth a party! Our cooking party was so much fun with music and learning authentic cuisine.  She taught me the right way of making it and it was really a fun girl's night in. It ended with the satisfaction of delicious Koshari! As you can see from the picture there is nothing too complicated but it is an unusual medley of ingredients.
It is important to use long-grain rice in this recipe because the flavor profile is completely different. At the same time, we do not do this on a normal basis but the onion topping has to be stir fried until it is almost burnt. I hope you enjoy this amazing recipe as much as I do and bring a little taste of Egyptian street food to your house.

Ingredients:


Long Grain  Wild Rice (1 Cup)
2 Cups of Water
1 Can of Garbanzo Beans (240 ml) (Drained)
1 Cup of boiled pasta ( Spirals or Macaroni or Rigatoni)
1 Can of  Tomato Sauce (15 ounces)
2 Tablespoons of Salted Butter
2 Teaspoons of Paprika
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Teaspoons of Cumin
Salt & Pepper
1 Bouillon Cube (Vegetable)
2-3 Cloves of Garlic (Minced)
2 Large Onions ( 1 Onion Minced in very small pieces, 1 Onion in rounded slices)
(Optional: 1 Teaspoon of Garam Masala)

Directions:
In a saucepan on medium heat start by melting a tablespoon of butter. Once it appears semi solid, add in the bouillon cube and stir until well mixed with the butter. Pour in the wild rice( raw) and toast all the flavors together on low-to medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the water and cover with the lid for at least 15 minutes until the rice appears to be well cooked.  Check the rice by tasting it and if still appears to be raw, can add 1/2 cup more water and cook for another 5 minutes.
In the mean time, in a skillet start by adding 1 tablespoon of butter on medium heat. Cook the sliced rounded onions (stirring occasionally) until they appear dark-brown to black (5-7 minutes). Set aside once done. In the same skillet on medium heat add in the minced onions and cook until they appear translucent (2-3 minutes). Then add in the minced garlic, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, cumin (optional garam masala for extra depth of flavor).  Stir them well, if it appears dry, extra teaspoon of butter could be added. Now when it appears well mixed (pasty), pour in the tomato sauce. On low heat stirring occasionally, simmer the sauce until it appears to thick (10-15 minutes).
Finally in a bowl, place a layer of boiled warm pasta then the drained garbanzo beans. Place the warm wild rice on top of the garbanzo beans and finally top with the tomato sauce and crispy onions.

Bon Appetite!