Crispy, battered, fried green tomato with a spicy dip --- mmm! I know it’s an all-time favorite for everyone. We make a lot of these deep-fried snack, especially when we have a good harvest of fresh green tomatoes from our home garden.
Last year, we had a very good tomato production in our small garden; we shared them with all our neighbors and friends and still had a plenty for ourselves! While some of the tomatoes were ripened on storage, I planned to use the rest of the green tomatoes in some other way. But how? I couldn't think of anything at that time.
Then came the summer gift market at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, where I participated as a vendor representing Curry’s. My neighbor vendor was from a family farm bringing all sorts of goodies made from their own farm produce. I bought quite a few items from them and one of them was Green Chili Jam. I was actually drooling over the taste of the jam.
The jam did not last for very long since we used it in almost everything, from our sandwiches to the roasted chicken. I started to worry about what I was going to do without this staple jam if I didn't find anything close as to its taste? I even tossed around the idea of making it myself and started to look for recipes online. I found a few very good recipes that I modified slightly with my own ingredients and spices.
Most of the recipes used green pepper along with green chilies. I couldn't think of any reason why I couldn't use green tomato instead of green pepper, so there we have it! I substituted green tomato for green pepper and much to my great expectations, it was a success! The green tomato also added sufficient body to the jam, just like the green pepper. Additionally, I chose very hot Thai green chilies for my jam so that the tanginess of the green tomato would adjust it to a desirably milder taste. Finally, I used green apple for its high pectin content to help in the gel formation but you can always use ready-to-use, commercial-grade pectin to make your cooking process faster.
My first recipe was a quite successful one but I still kept trying to modify it further so that it became easier to make and tasty at the same time, and so I’ve shared the ultimate recipe with you all. Hope you’ll like it too!
4 Thai green chilies, thinly sliced (remove the seeds, if you prefer)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp ginger powder
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 cups green tomatoes, chopped
1 green apple, chopped
3 cups sugar
1½ tsp Curry's Garam Masala
1. In a stainless steel saucepan, cook the green chilies, garlic, and ginger powder in cider vinegar for 2-3 minutes, until the vinegar is infused with chili and garlic.
2. Cool it and transfer to a food processor.
3. Add the tomato and apple to the vinegar mixture.
4. Pulse the mixture for couple of minutes. Note that you don’t want the mixture to be pureed completely.
5. Transfer the mixture to the saucepan.
6. Add the sugar and Garam Masala and cook the mixture while stirring, until it reaches boiling temperature.
7. Bring the heat to simmer and cook with continuous stirring until the mixture thickens, about 35-40 minutes.
8. Remove the jam from the heat and cool completely before you fill up a clean, heat-sterilized glass bottle with the jam.
[Recipe courtesy of Mary’s Wholesome Living]
4 cups skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts), cooked and cubed
1 cup celery, chopped
½ cup golden raisins or dried apricots, or both
1 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
½ cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
½ cup mayonnaise (plus 1 tbsp. if desired at end)
½ cup plain Greek yogurt (plus 1 tbsp. if desired at end)
1 packet (1.5 tsp) of Curry’s Curry Powder
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1. Toast the almonds.
2. Mix chicken, celery, raisins, grapes, apricots, and toasted almonds.
3. In another bowl, mix mayonnaise, yogurt, and Curry Powder.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients together until well mixed.
5. If you desire a moister chicken salad, mix up an extra tablespoon of both mayonnaise and yogurt.
6. Serve on a romaine lettuce leaf, sandwich, or fill up a pita bread with other fixings.
You can try adding other fruits such as chopped apple, dried cranberries, etc.
Okra! A beautiful pointy summer vegetable also known as “lady’s finger” loved by many people. Especially in southern cooking you will see a number of recipes of this vegetable such as battered fried okra, okra hush puppies, or gumbo. While many people enjoy it, it’s definitely not welcome by a home cook. Why is that? We’ll be talking about that today and showing how cooking okra can be made enjoyable.
Recently, when I was in a local grocery store picking up my okra supply, a lady approached me and asked me how I cook them. Does its sliminess not bother me? I briefly explained how to avoid that “slimy stuff” she was referring to but she did not seem to be interested in my story. It’s amazing that just because of a special attribute, a whole vegetable can become totally unforgivable to people.
Another memory of okra: A few years back, at one of my dinner parties at home, I prepared Indian-style fried okra. Everyone enjoyed it a lot and also asked me for the recipe, but all of them agreed that it was too hard to prepare due to okra’s slimy nature. So, I thought of including a very simple recipe here to show how to handle this little vegetable that creates havoc in everyone’s kitchen.
Okra has been my favorite since I was little as my mom used to prepare it in several different ways. In Indian cuisine you’ll see a number of recipes where this little veggie becomes the star of the dish, including whole grilled okra, simply sautéed okra, spiced-up okra, okra in a spicy tomato sauce, stuffed okra and many more. I never thought that this vegetable, although I loved it so much, was worth mentioning in a recipe book or a blog. It always seemed like a common staple to me and very easy to prepare. But once I started cooking okra myself, I found that a few careful steps were needed to avoid that slimy annoyance while cooking!
Remember that okra tends to get slimy when it comes into contact with water or is cooked under steam. To prevent this, follow the steps below:
Wash and dry before cooking: Wash the okra, pat dry, and spread it on a paper-lined tray. Once it is dry (about 30 minutes), cut the vegetable in your desired size and spread it again on a paper towel to dry for at least 30 more minutes before you start cooking.
Do not cook it covered: Make sure that you cook the okra uncovered. Cooking with a cover will steam the vegetable and the added moisture will make it slimy.
Add salt and spices at the end: Do not add any salt or dry spices until the okra are half cooked. The dry spices and salt draw out the moisture from okra and make it slimy. If you are making dry fried okra, add salt and spices at the end of cooking, after the okra is almost cooked and browned. This is the same concept as browning mushrooms before adding salt to it.
So, let’s begin with a simple recipe of sautéed okra!
½ lb. okra
2 tbsp. coconut oil/ghee/butter or any fat of your choice
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. Curry Powder
½ tsp. Garam Masala Powder
¼ tsp. red chili powder/cayenne pepper powder (optional)
1 tsp lime juice or raw mango powder (available in Indian grocery stores)
1. Wash the okra and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Spread the okra on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to dry completely. The okra must be dry before it is cut.
2. Cut okra into medium thick slices.
3. Heat oil/ghee/butter on medium heat in a heavy skillet.
4. Add cumin seeds and let it sizzle.
5. Add onion and fry until it is lightly brown.
6. Add okra, minced ginger, and turmeric. Stir once and cook uncovered without stirring for about 2-3 minutes until the okra starts browning. Flip them carefully without stirring too much which may cause it to become slimy. You may see very few slimy strings developing which you can ignore. They'll disappear once the okra is well cooked and browned on all sides.
7. Add salt and all the other spices and cook for a couple more minutes until the okra is coated well with the spices and is slightly crisp.
8. Sprinkle the lime juice/mango powder and stir once. This adds a refreshing tanginess to the dish. Serve it hot as a side dish.
This dry fried okra goes very well with rice and Indian flat bread such as roti, chapatti, or paratha.
Munching on fresh, beautiful, red-colored beets is one of my childhood memories but I am not sure how I was so fond of eating small pieces of fresh beet that was grown in my grandparent’s home garden.
I was brought up in a hilly place and I still remember when we used to travel to the plains where my grandparents lived during the winter holidays. All kinds of colorful veggies were in season and available in the markets as well as in home gardens.
I used to follow my grandfather everywhere and helped him to pick fresh veggies from his carefully tended garden. I even got up extra early to see my grandpa milk the cow in the morning before she was let go for grazing on the field. The little calf that always followed the mother looked so adorable. Every evening I waited until the cow came back home, with her calf still following her. Still today I wonder how they came back to the right house every night.
When I reached my teens, I was no longer fond of eating fresh beet anymore. Just lately, I started to eat them again because they are so healthy but I always think twice before buying them in the market. I usually try different recipes to which I can add these beets without having to taste it (Yes, I know, sounds like trying to feed hidden veggies to a child!).
In my family, we like only one recipe made with beets and that is beet raita – a yogurt sauce. The raita looks gorgeous with a light pink color from the mixing of red beet and white yogurt. We usually make it a little sweet by adding sugar to complement the natural sweetness of the beet. Addition of roasted cumin seed powder and lemon zest to flavor it makes it more inviting. The beet raita goes very well with any savory snack, biryani, or rice pilaf.
This recipe was a result of the need to use leftover grated beet. After making beet raita, I thought about how to use the remaining grated beet instead of saving it in the refrigerator.
I had some boiled potatoes in the fridge, which I usually keep as a last minute savior ingredient. Boiled, mashed potatoes are very useful to add to anything to make a quick snack or a side dish to accompany any meal of the day. So, I added my leftover grated beets to some mashed potatoes and some spices that I had in my pantry and my quick, yummy snack was ready in no time. I was very happy with the result and was delighted to have everyone raving about them.
In our case the beet burgers were an afternoon snack, dipped in some beet raita. But you can use them on a bun and serve with your choice of other burger fixings.
½ cup beet, grated
1 large potato, boiled and mashed
¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
½ tsp chili powder (optional)
½ tsp garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped or ½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp ginger, minced or ½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp Curry’s Garam Masala (optional)
Salt to taste
¼ tsp black pepper powder
½ tsp granulated sugar (optional)
1 tbsp corn flour
1½ tbsp water
1. Mix all the ingredients except the cornflour and water and make 3-4 small portions.
2. Shape these portions into smooth patty.
3. Cover them with a cling film and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
4. Make a paste with corn flour and water and keep aside.
5. Take the breadcrumbs on a plate and keep ready.
6. Take the patty and first dip it in the corn flour paste and then dredge in the breadcrumbs. Press the breadcrumbs well on all the sides of the patty.
7. Shallow fry the patties until all the sides are nicely brown.
8. Serve as a snack with beet raita (recipe follows) or as a burger with all the other fixings of your choice.
¼ cup thick plain yogurt, beaten
1 tbsp beet, finely grated
½ tsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp roasted cumin seed powder
1 tsp lime juice
1. Mix all the ingredients and chill until serving time.
Ghee is the traditional cooking fat used by people from India. It’s the most delicious, as well as healthy, fat that is used as medicine in Ayurveda to cure many ailments. Ghee has recently been popularized all over the world and is available in every ethnic grocery store, but many people make it at home. That sounds like too much work, you say? The task of ghee-making is not as difficult as you may think, however.
If you are making ghee from grass-fed cow milk, then the ghee will be rich in vitamin A, D, E, and K as well as the beneficial fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid.
Apart from this nutritional value, those who cannot digest lactose and casein (the milk protein) can also use ghee because these compounds are removed from milk while you make ghee.
Moreover, the high smoking point of ghee makes it a stable cooking medium and you can use it to stir fry, sauté, or deep fry your foods.
Prepared mustard is very rarely used in my family, although ground (fresh or store bought) mustard powder is a very common ingredient in my kitchen. In many regions of India, freshly ground mustard and mustard oil are popular for their pungent taste. It creates an interesting flavor combination together with the zesty heat of green chili, which is a must in gravy made with mustard powder because it cuts back the slight bitterness of the mustards. Freshly ground mustard is commonly used in India to make many flavorful dishes like steamed fish, chicken curry, potato gravy, and many types of vegetables curries.
That being said, prepared mustard is definitely a good addition for snacking. It’s really impressive to see so many unique flavors that are now available in the market. I am not a very big fan of pretzels but I was kind of hooked to these slender sticks when I ate them dipped into Chipotle Honey Lime Mustard when I was in a demo at City Olive in Roscoe Village. I was really impressed by the taste of the prepared mustard because it did not have any vinegary taste that is always present in common mustard jars. Moreover, I liked the heat from the chipotle chili, which was quite prominent but mild enough to enjoy the pungent mustard taste. I was sure that I was going to buy one jar before I left City Olive that evening.
Afterwards, I kept thinking about how to use this mustard to bring a new twist to my usual cooking. So, this recipe was evolved and was accepted by everyone in my family. We really liked the taste of this mustard with our chicken and also did not miss the green chili that we use invariably with our mustard gravies. I used 2 tbsp. of the mustard and it was perfectly spicy to our liking. However, I would suggest you use 1 tbsp. of the mustard to start with and taste its spicyness. If you need more you can always add later but it will be difficult to mellow down the heat of the chipotle in the mustard once it's already added. The Garam Masala I used in this recipe also came out very well and complemented the zesty flavor of the mustard.
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Pinch of salt and black pepper powder
2 tbsp oil, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 - 2 tbsp Chipotle Honey Lime Mustard from Earth and Vine Provisions
1 tbsp Curry's Garam Masala
1 ½ tsp sugar or other sweetener
Salt to taste
2 cups half and half
Fennel fronds for garnishing
1. Heat the oven to 375 degree F.
2. Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts.
3. Season the breasts with salt and pepper powder.
4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a cast iron skillet or any pan that is oven safe.
5. Sauté the breasts until it is lightly brown on both sides.
6. Remove the breasts and heat remaining oil.
7. Sauté minced garlic until it is fragrant.
8. Add the other ingredients except the fronds and sauté for another 1-2 minutes
9. Add the half and half and cook for another minute.
10. Add the chicken breasts and coat them nicely with the sauce.
11. Put the skillet in the oven and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is slightly thickened.
12. Remove the pan from the oven and cover it to rest for about 5 minutes before you serve it warm.
13. Garnish with the fennel fronds.
These days I am breathing pumpkin everywhere I go and it seems like it’s in everything I cook: Pumpkin Paratha, Pumpkin Rice, Pumpkin Chai Latte, Pumpkin Café Latte, Pumpkin Bars, Muffins, Ice Cream and the list goes on. I love this time of year because it's full of colors everywhere and the fresh aroma of fall harvest is in the air. I also enjoy trying seasonal goodies in the cafes and restaurants during this time. So today I am writing about my pumpkin pancake recipe and homemade syrup.
I don’t fancy pancakes too often but I do make them occasionally for my daughter who loves pancakes and waffles soaked in lots and lots of syrup. I guess the very sight of fully soaked pancakes is what sends me away from pancakes. But when I do make them I try to add stuffs in the batter so that I can make it healthier.
When you order pancakes in a pancake house, you probably have noticed that they are all very thick but fluffy. This fluffiness usually comes from lots of baking soda/powder and eggs that go in to the recipe. One serving includes two to three thick pancakes that usually get drowned in commercially-made thick syrup which fills you up to your neck even before you’re finished eating.
I usually prefer to use yeast to leaven any batter if time permits. This is similar to dosa, Indian-style savory pancakes that need natural fermentation by soaking the rice and black lentil batter for at least 12-24 hours. That way of leavening a batter is a healthier way to get more nutrients out of your food. But baking powder/baking soda comes in handy when you need to make something in a hurry.
As a nutritionist, my cooking always involves an on-the-spot mental calculation about how much fat, protein or carbohydrate I’m using in my cooking and what will be the menu for the rest of the day. As a result, I often omit eggs from my pancake recipe (but without sacrificing the taste) in order to make a balanced menu for the whole day. You might find this eggless recipe useful if you are someone that prefers to control your cholesterol level or are allergic to eggs.
This pumpkin pancake recipe with simple, homemade, but flavorful syrup is great especially in the fall with locally picked fresh pumpkins.
(Yields 8 hearty sized pancakes)
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1½ tsp Chai Spice
1 cup milk
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
Coconut oil, or any other oil to cook pancakes
(Serves 2 to 3; you can expand the recipe to serve more)
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup water
1 tbsp butter
¼ tsp Chai Spice
1. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and the spice blend. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and pumpkin puree until smooth.
2. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and blend until the batter is smooth and does not have any lumps.
3. Pour ¼ cup batter onto a greased pan and spread slightly to make around 4" to 5” diameter circle. Cook the pancakes using oil until they are cooked and nicely brown in color.
4. Serve warm with the Chai syrup.
1. In a small saucepan, mix the brown sugar and the water and cook on a medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
2. Add the butter and cook until it reaches a rolling boil. After 1 minute take it off from the heat.
3. Add the Chai Spice and stir well until the spice blends well with the syrup. Let the syrup cool (It will be thicker when it is cold).
It might sound like these brownies have a very complex flavor, as I have combined a lot of different ingredients in this recipe. But I definitely didn't plan this recipe just to make another big hit in my test kitchen.
We have a Hot Cocoa beverage mix available in our online store as well as in retailers in downtown Chicago. The product is a combination of 75% dark chocolate and our signature spice blend Chai Spice, which is a blend of highly aromatic spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise, and more!).
Spices like those especially release their aroma when they are infused in something containing high fat. So when our Chai Spice is combined with dark chocolate (high in cocoa butter) they meld so well that the result is a hot drink that will leave you with a taste of creamy, chocolatey, highly-fragrant goodness.
So I always wanted to try a brownie recipe combining these two winning ingredients together.
A few weeks ago, I happened to see a recipe for brownies that had avocado in it. It sounded strange but I was quite sure that the result would be awesome since I often make Indian flat-breads with avocado for its high content of good fat . This fat keeps the bread soft and fresh for a long time as opposed to regular bread containing no avocado.
I decided to incorporate this good fat in my recipe so that it will be little less guilt when I indulge and also would result in a soft, melt-in-your-mouth brownie with rich dark chocolate taste plus my favorite Chai flavor. I am sure you will love the recipe as much as I did!
1 cup Flour
¼ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 tbsp Butter, melted
½ cup Dark Chocolate Chips
1 medium-sized Avocado
¼ cup Water
¾ cup Sugar
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
1 ½ tsp Chai Spice, divided
½ cup Milk
½ cup Walnuts, roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Use butter to prepare a baking pan.
2. In a small heat-proof bowl, mix butter and chocolate chips. Cook in double boiler method until the chocolate chips are melted completely.
4. Peel and deseed the avocado and puree it with water until it is smooth.
5. Add the puree to the melted chocolate-butter mixture and mix well.
6. Add sugar, vanilla, and half of Chai Spice to this mixture and mix well.
7. In a medium bowl, sieve together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
8. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently mix. Add milk and mix until the batter is just wet. Take care not to over mix it.
9. Pour the batter on to the pregreased pan and smoothen the surface. Sprinkle the remaining Chai Spice over the batter.
10. Sprinkle the chopped nuts on the top and bake it for 25 – 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean when inserted at the center.
12. Let it cool completely before you cut it in your desired shapes.
Dr. Gayatri Borthakur, a nutritionist turned entrepreneur, has a PhD in nutrition and a passion for delicious but healthy foods.