Watermelon-Feta Salad

It’s hot and sweaty where we live, bang in the middle of summer. And slices of watermelon are a welcome relief! Nevertheless, this salad is a good one to have for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients:

Watermelon, chopped – 2 cups
Arugula – 2 handfuls
Feta cheese – 2 tbsp
Lime juice – 2 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

Method:

  • Whisk together the olive oil and lime juice and set aside
  • Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour in the above liquid mix
  • Serve immediately

Note: You can play around with the quantity of ingredients as per your taste.
– You could even add chopped almonds or walnuts to the salad.
– If you do not have extra virgin olive oil, you can use regular olive oil.
– Feta cheese adds a lovely saltiness to the dish. But if you can’t find any, use grated parmesan or pecorino.

Summer Corn Salad

A friend of mine brought this salad to a potluck lunch last year and it is one of the best things I have eaten. Simple but packed full of flavor! It’s also versatile enough to play around with the ingredients. Toss in some cooked rajma or pasta. You can add some chaat masala or coriander-chilli chutney for an Indian twist. You can even throw in some shredded chicken. My friend recommends the use of black salt in this salad. I didn’t have any, so I ended up using regular salt. It’s a good salad to prepare ahead and perfect on a hot summer day. Thank you, V, for bringing this to school 🙂

Ingredients

Corn – 4 cobs
Bell pepper – 1/2
Spring Onions – 1/2 cup, chopped
Tomato – 1/2
Potato – 1/2, boiled
Lime – 1/2
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Yogurt – 3 tbsp
Garlic – 3 cloves
Tortilla Chips – 1 cup, crushed

Method

  • Place the corn in a pressure cooker with water. Cook for one whistle. Once pressure releases, remove the corn and slice length-wise such that you get the kernels.
  • Add chopped bell peppers, tomato and potato
  • Add spring onions (all of the white part and some of the green)
  • Refrigerate this mix

Assembling

  • Just before serving, add salt and black pepper to taste
  • Mince the garlic cloves and add to the yoghurt. Add this dressing to the salad
  • Squeeze the juice of half a lime
  • Toss in crushed chips 

Rajma Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Wild-Rice Stuffed Squash, this recipe, with an Indian twist to it, will make a great addition to your Thanksgiving meal and will be a delight for vegetarians. The rice itself is kept simple with minimal ingredients and the sweetness of the squash compliments the beans very well.

Rajma Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

Acorn squash – 2
Basmati rice – 1 cup
Rajma/ red kidney beans, boiled – 2/3 cup
Green chillies – 2
Onion, finely chopped – 1/2 cup
Garlic cloves, minced – 3
Coriander powder – 3/4 tsp
Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 3 tbsp
Olive oil – 3 tsp
Salt – to taste

Method:

  • Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 450°F
  • Cut the squash into halves lengthwise and remove the seeds
  • Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil that has been slightly brushed with oil
  • Cover tightly with another sheet of foil and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until tender and can be pierced with a knife
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan
  • Add green chillies and garlic and saute well
  • Add onions and coriander leaves and saute for few more minutes
  • Add coriander powder, cumin powder and pepper powder and mix well
  • Add the beans and rice
  • Add 2 cups of water and salt. Mix well
  • Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the rice is cooked well and fluffy
  • To serve, place the squash on a plate with the cut side facing up and fill the center with the rice

 

Rajma Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash Tips:

  • Slice off any pointy ends from the squash while still leaving the outer cover intact, so that it sits flat on the baking sheet.
  • The Rajma rice can also be served by itself with mint chutney or raita
  • Do not overcook the squash as you want the outer shell to be intact so that eating from with it easy

Hawaiian-style Shrimp Scampi

This dish is inspired by the Shrimp Scampi served at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Hawaii. We had visited two of the Hawaiian islands back in 2009 and this place, among other places serving the local cuisine, was recommended by my husband’s colleague, who grew up in Hawaii. This was our last meal in Hawaii during our trip and the most memorable one! It is such a simple dish with just a few ingredients but packed with so much flavor and I can still recall the taste and the butter literally flowing down our fingers as we made our way through the big serving of one of the best Shrimp Scampi. I recreated this with Indian flavors and it just brought back all the lovely memories. This recipe uses far less butter but tastes as good as the original one. 

Shrimp scampi

Ingredients:

White shrimp, deveined- 30, preferably with tail on
All-purpose flour – 1/2 cup
Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 3/4 tsp
Butter – 5 tbsp
Olive oil – 3 tbsp
Garlic, finely chopped – 12 to 15
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 3 tbsp
Lemon juice – 2 tsp
White rice, cooked – 2 cups

Method:

  • Clean the shrimp and pat dry
  • Mix flour, chilly powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt
  • Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture

            shrimp scampi 2  shrimp scampi 3

  • Heat 3 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet
  • Add half the garlic and place half the shrimp without over-crowding
  • Cook 3 minutes on each side until nice and golden brown

           shrimp scampi 4 shrimp scampi 5 shrimp scampi 6

  • Remove from heat, garnish with coriander leaves and lemon juice
  • Heat remaining butter and oil and add the remaining shrimp and repeat the process
  • While serving, drizzle any left over butter/oil from the pan over the shrimp and rice

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good Mac n Cheese. I sure do! It’s a comforting dish with a rich flavor, ideal for a weeknight supper. I took inspiration for this recipe from the book Foodprints by Priya Bala, a former colleague. You can make this dish even if you don’t have an oven. Just reduce the amount of milk you use and make a thick sauce instead and then combine with the pasta.

This post goes out to my nephew, who enjoys macaroni and cheese, and turned 10 last week!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Macaroni Pasta – 200 gms
Butter – 2 tbsp
All-purpose flour/Maida – 2 tbsp
Milk – 400 ml
Cheese – 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup
Red pepper flakes/Chilli flakes – 1 tbsp (optional)
Salt to taste
Bread crumbs – 2 tbsp

Method: 

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit or 230 degrees Celsius
  • Grease a round or square baking dish and set aside
  • To a pot of boiling salted water, add the macaroni and boil for about 8 minutes
  • Drain and transfer to the prepared baking dish
  • In a saucepan, heat the butter
  • Add all-purpose flour and stir on medium flame
  • Pour in the milk and whisk continuously
  • After a couple minutes, add salt to taste and chilli flakes
  • Keep whisking and add half cup of cheese 
  • Take off the heat after 2 minutes and pour over the pasta
  • Sprinkle bread crumbs and quarter cup of cheese
  • Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes till most of the milk is absorbed and pasta is bubbling
  • Serve hot!

Baked Mac and Cheese

Note:
– If you are making this for kids, you can leave out the chilli flakes. Personally, I like a little bit of heat in this dish
– You could use dried herbs like thyme or oregano as well
– I used a mix of cheddar and parmesan cheese. You can use any cheese that melts quickly and isn’t stringy
– You can leave out bread crumbs if you don’t happen to have it. But it does add a bit of crunch to the dish

Beet Burger with Basil Pesto

The inspiration for this recipe was the veggie burger I had at HopDoddy burger bar here in Austin. This place is rated as one of the best burger joints in the country and do try it if you are in Austin. The restaurant version is a black bean burger with cilantro pesto, arugula and goat cheese. I wanted to try something different using beets and came up with this recipe with what I had in my pantry at that moment along with some leftovers (see tip below). You don’t have to worry about it being too sweet plus the basil pesto is an amazing combination with these burgers. Healthy and filled with nutrients, you can prepare the patties well ahead and freeze them and use them as needed. You can also try different toppings and sauces. If you do not have pesto, a slice of pepper-jack or Swiss cheese goes well too.

Beet burger

Ingredients:

Whole wheat burger buns – 4
Baby spinach leaves – 1 cup
Basil pesto – 2 tbsp per burger, see recipe here
Onion, finely chopped – 2/3 cup
Garlic, minced – 2 tbsp
Serrano pepper, minced – 1 tbsp
Beets, grated – 2 cups
Potato, boiled and mashed – 1/2 cup
Brown rice, cooked – 1/2 cup
Garam masala – 3/4 tsp
Cilantro, finely chopped – 2 tbsp
Ground black pepper – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 3 tsp + for grilling the patties
Butter – 1/2 tsp per half bun

Yield: 4 burgers

Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan and add the minced garlic and serrano peppers
  • Add onions and saute well
  • Add the grated beets and saute for about 5 minutes
  • Add garam masala, cilantro, ground black pepper and salt and mix well
  • Continue to saute for few more minutes to ensure that all the moisure is absorbed
  • Add the rice and mashed potato. Mix well and remove from heat
  • Let it cool and transfer it to a food processor and pulse it a few times just to get a coarse mixture as shown below so that it will be easy to shape them into patties

Beet burger mix 2 Beet burger mix Beet burger patties

  • When you are ready to make the burgers, heat oil in a skillet and place the patties. Do not overcrowd them as it will get difficult to flip them
  • Cook the patties on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Cook extra 2-3 minutes to get a nice brown crust
  • Do not worry if they break while flipping. Just patch them up and shape them into a patty again. As they continue to cook, they will less likely break
  • Butter the halves of the buns and grill them slightly in the skillet
  • To assemble the burger, place few spinach leaves on one half of the bun, place the patty over it and top it with the pesto and cover with the other half. Serve warm

IMG_5082

Tip: You can substitute the potato and garam masala with leftover Aloo paratha filling. This is also a great way to use up leftover rice.

Hash Browns

My husband and I love the hash browns that is served in American breakfasts. He was the one who made them at home the first time and they turned out pretty good! We don’t cook with potatoes too often and on the rare occasion that we do, we enjoy going the extra mile to make something special. Hash browns are a delicious accompaniment to scrambled eggs or omelette and butter toast. If you make them really small, it can also be served as an appetizer. 

Hash Browns

Serves: 5

Ingredients:

Potatoes – 4
Butter – 5 tsp
Oil – 2.5 tsp
Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste

Method:

  • Peel and grate the potatoes using a food processor or a hand grater
  • Place the grated potatoes in a tea towel or muslin cloth and squeeze out all the water (you can do this in small portions)
  • Heat a pan with a teaspoon of butter and half teaspoon oil
  • Place the potatoes in the pan to form a thin layer and a rough circle (about 10 cms in diameter)
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper
  • Using a spatula, press down on the potatoes
  • Cook on high heat till the potatoes turn a lovely golden brown
  • Flip the potatoes and cook till the other side browns as well
  • Serve immediately

Note:
– This recipe makes about 5 hash browns, each having a diameter of approximately 10 cms. This size also makes them easier to flip
– I use a combination of butter and olive oil to cook the hash browns. You can use either
– It’s important to cook the hash browns on high heat as that helps the potatoes to turn a nice golden brown
– Do not worry about the shape of the hash browns. Just ensure you make a thin layer