Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tortilla soup with a twist

Cold Minnesota winters always see me making warm, comforting and filling soups. Usually, the ingredients are whatever is in the fridge or pantry - thus saving me from making a trip on treacherous roads. Though we are now blissfully enjoying the summer sun while it lasts, we know what's coming soon. This soup is popular at Mexican restaurants and is one that I made last winter, with an Indian twist.

What you need :

Tortillas - 4, cut into wedges to resemble tortilla chips. This is where the twist I mentioned comes into play. I used leftover rotis instead of tortillas.
Red kidney beans - 1 can (Can be substituted with black beans)
Frozen green peas - 1/4 cup
Carrot - 1
Tomato - 2
Celery - 1/4 cup, chopped
Red onion - 1, chopped fine
Butter/oil - 2 tbsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Soup seasoning - to taste
Salt & pepper - to taste

Spread the roti wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, keeping a close watch so that you can stop baking once they start to harden and brown. Another way to do this is to spread some oil on a frying pan and then roasting the roti pieces over a slow flame until they are crisp on both sides. Set this aside.

In a large saucepan, heat butter/oil. Add the onions and saute till they start to turn translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes, and carrots and saute till tomatoes become soft and mushy. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except seasoning) along with 4 cups of water. Since most of the ingredients I have used are canned or frozen, it doesn't take much time for the soup to come together. Let it boil for 10-12 minutes on a medium flame. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Add in soup seasoning. Use a potato masher or a ladle to mash some of the ingredients to give the soup some thickness. If you want to, you can use a hand blender or a regular blender too, for a smoother soup, but I like this soup chunky.
To serve, put some of the tortilla strips in a bowl. Pour the soup on top of it and then top it with more tortilla strips.

This is my third post for Week 2 of BM#78 under the theme Oceanic Cuisine - dishes from countries that are bordered by two or more oceans.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM# 78

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


A Mexican dish which is very popular , nachos in its most basic form, consists of tortilla chips topped with lots of melted cheese. To this basic form, you can add ingredients of your choice like black beans, roasted corn, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos and onions. No matter what ingredients you choose to add, this snack is a crowd pleaser. Here is my version of this dish.

What you need:

Tortilla chips
Black beans - 1 can
Red onion - 1 small, chopped
Corn - 1/2 cup
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Grated cheese - a generous amount

Spread the tortilla chips in a single layer on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the drained beans, onion, corn, cumin powder and salt. Mix well. Spread this mixture evenly over the chips. Top with grated cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until the cheese melts.
Serve with guacamole, sour cream and salsa on the side.

This is my second post for Week 2 of BM#78 under the theme Oceanic Cuisine - dishes from countries that are bordered by two or more oceans.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM# 78

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pineapple fried rice

When I lived in Chennai, I used to love the Thai food restaurant - Benjarong. I am not sure if the restaurant is still around, but the taste and the presentation of their pineapple fried rice is something that I remember fondly. A mildly spiced rice served in the shell of a pineapple - this is how the dish was brought to the table at the restaurant. I've tried to recreate this dish (not the presentation part of it, though) from memory and I think I've come fairly close to the original.

What you need:
Rice - 1 cup, cooked and
 cooled (I used regular raw rice, cooked with 2.5 cups of water)
Oil - 2 tbsp.
Green chilli - 3 or 4, slit lengthwise
Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
Ginger - a one inch piece, julienned
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Carrot - 1, chopped fine
Pineapple - 3/4 cup
Green onion - 3, chopped fine
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp.
Red chilli sauce - 1 tbsp.
Cashew & Groundnuts

Heat oil in a pan. Add the chillies, ginger and garlic. Saute for a minute. Add cashew, groundnuts and saute till reddish. Stir in the chopped onion and carrot. Saute over a medium flame until the carrots are cooked, yet crunchy. Now add the pineapple and heat till they start to brown slightly. Stir in the sauces. Increase the flame to high and quickly stir everything together. Add the chopped green onion. Stir to combine. Lower the heat and add the cooked, cooled rice and salt. Mix everything together.
Serve hot.

This is my first post for Week 2 of BM#78 under the theme Oceanic Cuisine - dishes from countries that are bordered by two or more oceans.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM# 78

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pressure cooker pasta

This is one of our favorite lunch box recipes. The type of pasta, the sauce, the veggies that go into it - these change from one time to the next, but our love for this dish doesn't diminish no matter what avatar it takes.

What you need:
Pasta - 1 cup
Onion - 1 small, chopped fine
Tomato - 1, chopped fine
Capsicum - 1/4 cup, chopped fine
Pasta sauce - 1/2 cup + more, if desired
Butter - 2 tbsp
Italian seasoning
Grated cheese

In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp. of butter. Add pepper corns followed by onions. Saute till they start to brown. Add tomato and capsicum. Saute well. Add the pasta, pasta sauce, salt and just enough water to cover the pasta. Cook till one whistle. Then reduce the flame and cook for another 3-4 minutes. When the pressure settles, add Italian seasoning, grate cheese and more pasta sauce if desired. Stir well. Serve hot.

This is my third post for BM#77 under the theme Healthy lunch box recipes.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ven Pongal

Growing up, I wasn't very fond of Pongal - mostly because it was only made once a year in my home - typically during the Tamil harvest festival of Pongal. However, the ease of making it and the fact that paired with a good gothsu and chutney, it is a complete meal in itself, has made me rethink my opinion of this humble dish. Though it is considered a breakfast dish, whenever I make it, I make a little extra so that I can carry it in my lunch box.

What you need:
Rice - 1 cup
Split moong dal - 1/2 cup
Water - 5 cups
Ginger -  a small piece, julienned
Peppercorns - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Ghee - 3 tsp
Cashew - a few (optional)
Salt - to taste

Wash the rice and dal well to remove starch. Add water, salt and ginger to it and cook on a medium flame in a pressure cooker until one whistle. Reduce the flame to low and cook for another 5 minutes.
Switch off the flame and set aside. In  a separate kadai, heat ghee. Coarsely crush the pepper and cumin. Toast the cashews in ghee until they turn reddish. Add the curry leaves and crushed spices. Saute and switch off the flame.
Once the pressure settles, open the pressure cooker and mix in the ingredients in the kadai. The pongal should not be too dry. It should be mushy and well cooked. If you feel that it is dry, add some hot water and stir.
Serve hot with chutney.

This is my second post for BM#77 under the theme healthy lunch box recipes.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quick Veggie Sandwich

Sandwiches are some of the easiest lunches to put together. With a good, hearty bread on hand,, there's nothing to not like about a sandwich. To me, a good sandwich is one that doesn't get soggy in the lunch box. I've found that a layer of thick dips like hummus/guacamole usually keeps the liquid from the vegetables from seeping into the bread and making it soggy. This sandwich is one that I often pack for myself on week days to work. This is a highly adaptable recipe, and you can use any choice of fillings as per your taste.

What you need:
Bread (I love tomato basil bread and that's what I've used)
Vegetables (I've used, red onions, tomatoes and cucumber) -sliced into thin rounds
Grated cheese (I've used white cheddar)

Spread a thick layer of guacamole on one slice of bread. Top it with vegetables and grated cheese. Close with another slice of bread and if you like, slice it into half.

A week day lunch cannot get simpler than that, can it?

This is my first entry for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #77, under the theme Healthy Weekday lunches.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Monday, March 20, 2017

A simple dinner thali and the recipe for Peas Masala

BM #74 Week 3 Day 3
Theme : Thali/Platter
Dish : Peas Masala

The husband and the daughter have loved this theme that I chose. They were very, very happy to help with and polish off the breakfast thali and the lunch thali. The final thali that I have for this Blogging Marathon is a simple North Indian thali that we had for dinner.

In this thali are :
Stir fried French cut beans
Cucumber raita
Peas masala

To make the peas masala, you need the following :
Green peas - 1 cup (I used frozen. You could use fresh peas or dried ones soaked overnight and cooked)
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Butter - 2 tsp
Cumin seeds/jeera - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Jeera powder - 1 tsp
Dhania powder - 1/2 tsp
Almonds - 12, soaked in hot water and de-skinned
Tomato - 3
Salt - to taste

Grind the almonds and the tomatoes to a smooth paste. Keep aside.
Heat butter in a pan. Add cumin seeds, green chillies and onions. Saute until the onions start to brown. Add all the masala powders and then the ground paste along with salt and half a cup of water. Let it boil over a low flame for a few minutes. Stir in the peas and let boil for a few more minutes. Adjust the consistency by adding some more water if required. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and switch off the heat.
Serve hot.