Red Bean Vegetarian Burrito and Why not to kill a Mocking Bird.

COURAGE is not a man with a gun in his hand. It is knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through, no matter what – Atticus Finch.

Red bean burrito

Red bean burrito

Some writers impress, some inspire while some simply fade away in the light of day. But Harper Lee, with just one glorious book under her belt, sits firmly in my head – bag, baggage and all. I just can’t seem to replace her. A lot many others try to occupy the coveted seat, but she just won’t budge.

‘To kill a Mocking Bird’ is not an ordinary book. And Atticus Finch is no ordinary hero. The book is a bolt of lightning. A revelation. And Finch’s kindness, courage and tenacity – invigorating.

To each his own

To each his own

Now what does a burrito have to do with Finch, courage or any mocking bird. Well.

I introduced the story to my eight year old this summer in her holidays. And although she seemed more fascinated with Scout and Boo and the title itself, it was Atticus Finch’s character that the relentless mother chose to dissect. Now, at our own very personal level thus began a truly interesting character dissertation of Mr. Finch. All this, while we prepped lunch using whatever we could find in the pantry. The detailed explanations were simplified for her unpolluted mind. What does an 8 year old know about racism or tolerance or black or white or courage without a gun? Though exhausting, the discussion was a revelation.

Tomato salsa

Tomato salsa

Untainted, pure minds have the most basic humane questions, to which, mostly you will have no answers. It is the way it is, was all that I could say. Their usually winged imagination falls short when human nature is in context. To explain that it takes more courage to stand up for your beliefs than to hold a gun was an insightful discussion for both of us.
At one point, I felt I rather stop, maybe I’m destroying her innocence. But I wasn’t.

Innocence is not crushed by an honest dialogue, rather it is enlivened and enlightened. It was a good thing that the deep discussions were laced with good food. This way you make happy memories and remember things for a longer time. She associates salsa and beans and guacamole with so many aspects of the book. Somehow, the food rendered the analysis less morbid, less sad and more hopeful. While little hands assembled the wrap, the mind too voiced it’s own opinions. How she would have punished Bob for being ‘so bad’ and how Tom would not die and how she would like to smack some more sour cream if I let her.

As you like it

As you like it

A red bean burrito is as satisfying to prepare and enjoy as it to read a well written book. Well, almost 🙂

The recipe:

To make 4 burritos –

Ingredients

4 flour or corn tortillas
8-10 tablespoons of red beans corn mix(recipe below)
4 tablespoons of guacamole
4 tablespoons of sour cream
4 tablespoons of tomato salsa
4 tablespoons of cabbage onion salad
a handful of olives and jalapeños for taste.
lime wedges, tomato salsa and hot sauce to serve

For the Red Bean Vegetable Mixture:

1. 1 cup boiled red beans or rajma
2. 1/2 cup sweet corn
3. 1/4 cup chopped peppers
4. 1 tsp minced garlic and ginger
5. 1 big onion, chopped
6. salt, pepper powder and paprika according to taste
7. 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

For the red bean mix –
In a skillet, heat oil, sauté ginger garlic and onions, till they sweat and turn pink. Add chopped peppers and corn. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Then add boiled beans along with salt, pepper powder and paprika. Mix well. Coarsely mash with the back of the ladle. Remove from flame. Keep aside to cool.

To assemble:
Take one tortilla, spread 2 tablespoons of red bean mix lengthwise in the centre. Top with guacamole, salsa, red cabbage salad and sour cream – all one tablespoon or more. Garnish with olives, jalapeños and a dash of lime. Fold and serve immediately with more salsa n cream!

stack, smear, dollop

stack, smear, dollop

Note: You can add any other vegetable with red beans if you like. Broccoli, zucchini or tofu will be equally delicious

Note: Cheese lovers – grate some up before the final folding.

Note: The cabbage onion salad is nothing but thinly sliced veggies marinated in little salt and lime juice for an hour.

A bit of hot sauce to liven it all up

A bit of hot sauce to liven it all up

I asked for the moral of the story in one or two lines only.
And this is what she said – To not be bad like Bob and to be good and courageous like Atticus. Hmm…. I think she got that right?

Good to go

Good to go

I painted a pretty decent picture without stressing on the heart breaking pathos of the story but I’m glad I introduced it to her this early. Later at every stage when she reads it, the book will reveal something new to her, as it still does to me.
It’s quite magical, isn’t it?!… This process of reading.

Baked Falafel Wraps

Falafels in a wrap!

Falafels in a wrap!

The food fever has caught on. Baklava and hummus was always a rage, and as people are turning more global, the wonder delights of any new cuisine follows. Lebanese is my latest viral.
After my tryst with baking pita, next on the list was Falafels. The baked version. I’ve made them before but a baked one was to be my experiment. I waited for a Sunday.

Loaded with grilled veggies and hummus and tzatziki sauce

Loaded with grilled veggies and hummus and tzatziki sauce

A rainy dull gloomy beautiful sunday which wrecked the cable connection, home bound the inmates and re-ignited the love for board games. They removed a new one, in spite of me yelling not to. But the rapid commencement of outwitting each other at word formations, though mainly with my help, was contagious. Along with grinding chickpeas, rolling dough and chopping vegetables, my mind raced to form words! The joy of letters. Inexplicable.

Falafels are small round deep fried bullets made from highly spiced chickpeas. But if you want to ditch the oil, we bake or roast them on a griddle and it works just fine. A wrap with these spicy bullets, a bit of hummus, some tzatziki and grilled veggies makes any meal complete. A bit of planning is required, the chickpea need to be soaked for 6-7 hours and you need hung curd to make tzatziki. So yes, please plan and initiate.

FALAFEL WRAP

Lotsa layering

Lotsa layering

To make 6 wraps:

Ingredients

  • 18/20 Falafel bullets or discs or patties, recipe below.
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 6 heaped big spoons of hummus – one spoon each for every wrap
  • 6 heaped big spoons of tzatziki – one spoon each for every wrap
  • torn lettuce leaves
  • 6 tbsp of grilled vegetables, I used mushrooms, zucchini, coloured peppers and onions.
  • A bit of vinegary onions for each wrap
  • Sprinkle of lime juice
  • Sprinkle of chaat masala – optional

Method

Take each tortilla, spread one heaped tbsp of hummus on it. Place torn lettuce leaves covering half the tortilla. Now place 3 or 4 falafel discs in a straight line in the middle of the tortilla. Drop spoonful of tzatziki on the cutlets. Place grilled vegetables and pickled onions. Sprinkle lime juice and chaat masala. Cover both sides. Grill on a flat griddle/tawa if desired or serve as it is with more hummus and tzatziki by the side!

Ready to fold

Ready to fold

FALAFELS – BAKED

Chickpea Cutlets

Chickpea Cutlets

Ingredients

  • 2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight or for 6/7 hours
  • 1 red onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 green chillies
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp ground roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 4 tbsp washed coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp flour or maida
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Oil for greasing

Method

Put all ingredients in the mixer, except flour/maida, baking powder and sesame seeds. Coarsely grind everything till everything is mashed yet not very smooth. Do not add any water. This is very important because you don’t want your splitting cutlets.

Once done, remove. Mix in the flour, baking powder and sesame seeds. Shape small balls of the mixture, flatten them slightly to form discs. Place them in a box or on a tray. Refrigerate for 2/3 hours. This step is crucial if you want firm well shaped falafels. Especially if you are deep frying them.

Once well chilled. Pre heat your oven to 175C for 10 minutes. Grease a baking tray well with oil. Take each falafel discs, slightly coat them with oil and place evenly on the tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes then flip and bake the other side for another 5-7 minutes.

If you do not want to bake or deep fry, then you can roast them on a non stick pan with a bit of oil till the sides turn golden and crisp. This works beautifully but uses a bit of more oil than baking.

Remove and use as required.

Lots of flavours!

Lots of flavours!

Note: Deep frying produces the best results. They are crunchy out and soft inside. But baking works well too, so please don’t forget the baking powder. It helps the cutlets with soft insides.

Note: Original recipe did not add any green chillies or mint. I used them generously because we love the flavour of mint and heat from the chilies. You can avoid them if you like.

Healthy snack option

Healthy snack option

I am not so neat with shapes and sizes… all my cutlets varied in diameter 😀 Mother would have been horrified 😉

Not so perfect in size :)

Not so perfect in size 🙂

GRILLED VEGETABLES, FLOUR TORTILLAS AND VINEGAR ONIONS

The add-ons don't stop!

The add-ons don’t stop!

For the Veggies – Julienne all the vegetables. I used zucchini, mushrooms, coloured peppers and onions. In a tsp of olive oil, sauté them till 3/4th done. Season with salt, pepper and red chill flakes.

For the Pickled Onions – soak sliced onions in 1/2 cup of vinegar, juice of 1/2 a lime and some salt. Keep aside for an hour. The colour of the onions and solution changes to pink.

For the Flour Tortillas – Take half and half wheat and all-purpose/maida four. Season with a bit of salt. Knead using half n half milk and luke warm water. Knead well. Keep aside covered for at least 30 minutes. Then grab portions of dough, roll into thin flat rounds, roast both sides on a hot griddle. You can make them before hand and use as required.

Grilled veggies and pickled onions

Grilled veggies and pickled onions

As you must have noticed, I put more pictures here than in any of my posts. Well. Thats because I took so many!! And then, spent almost half a day editing them. So they had to be used. don’t they?
A few more won’t hurt, I presume. 🙂

Protein rich Chickpea makes one delicious cutlet

Protein rich Chickpea makes one delicious cutlet

She is one big sucker for dips and spreads. Every bite was relished with more hummus and more tzatziki. It also rendered the scrabble board quite messy and her clothes.. oh! they are best not discussed. So, beware.. this humongous wrap is not so easy to hold and a lot more messy and delicious to eat 🙂

One satisfying meal, this.

One satisfying meal, this.

My entry to Angie’s Friday Fiesta #27. A must see for many more gorgeous mouth watering entries!

Spicy Sprouts Vegetarian Fajitas

He doesn’t get the difference between a burrito and a fajita.
‘Why have different names, when they have essentially the same stuff in it’….. I don’t have any witty piquant rhetoric for it. So I try to elucidate the serving styles which are remarkably different. Also the analogy that we have million names for chappathis which are made in slightly varied way doesn’t convince him either.

Spicy Mexican Fajitas - Vegetarian!

Spicy Mexican Fajitas – Vegetarian!

I go back to assembling my warm fajitas. I know before making them they would be appreciated because … I know the kind he likes 🙂

He absolutely loves Guacamole, then top with some sour cream and a bit of more lime and I know for sure, the lunch is good. But its the stuffing that I am weary about. To substitute the meat, I sauté mixed sprouts with some julienne veggies. Ah.. this was going experimental. I add another succulent sweet sour salsa to top – the mango salsa. What am I doing??….I am combining disparate flavours and hoping for it to be devoured like never before. Sigh! Wishful thinking this.

Guacamole and Mango Salsa by the side

Guacamole and Mango Salsa by the side

SPICY SPROUTS VEGETABLE MIX

Ideally beans/rajma is used in the vegetarian version of Tex Mex cuisine. But I had a bowl of sprouts to finish before they went bad. Bored of its presence in salads and currys, the family ostracized these protein rich germinated grains. But when you throw them in a wok full of thinly sliced veggies, and season with herbs they are so delicious, you forget that you hated them a while back.

My meat substitute!

My meat substitute!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup julienne vegetables, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, corn etc
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 green chillies, minced – optional
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Method

Heat oil in a wok, stir fry garlic, green chilies and onions till they turn translucent. Throw in the other veggies, along with salt and pepper. Cover and cook till almost done. At this stage, add the parboiled sprouts along with oregano and chopped cilantro leaves. Mix well. Keep aside.

SOUR CREAM

Another surprise that day was the sour cream. I made a faux one with yoghurt – its fat free and healthier! Tis so easy peasy, that I find myself making it every other day now.

Sour Cream substitute, made with yoghurt

Sour Cream substitute, made with yoghurt

In a cup of hung curd, add juice of half a lime, crushed garlic, bit of pepper powder and salt. Mix in a tbsp of cream. Churn or mix well for a creamy consistency – Thats it!!

ASSEMBLING THE FAJITA

To assemble 4 fajitas:

Ingredients

  • 4 flour tortillas, I used whole wheat. You can use flour or corn, anything you like.
  • 8 tbsp sprout veggie mix
  • 4 tbsp guacamole
  • 4 tbsp mango-salsa
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • sprinkle of taco seasoning on each fajita
Assembling the Fajita

Assembling the Fajita

Method

Warm each tortilla, place 2 table spoons of the sprouts veggie mix, top with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Sprinkle taco seasoning. Serve immediately.

Warm tortillas

Warm tortillas

Note: Go experimental by replacing mango salsa with tomato or peach salsa.

Note: Replace the sprouts with beans or cheese or meat

Sweet, spicy and the tartness intact - all at the same time

Sweet, spicy, sour, tart – all at the same time

Vegetable Cutlets and a Spicy Yummy Wrap/Frankie

Cold chilly breezy evenings. Misty days and long nights. A hot cuppa cradled between your palms. And the aching desire to eat. To crave something savory, spicy and mostly deep-fried! Yes, winters does this to you.

Vegetable Cutlets

Vegetable Cutlets

Tis the time for comfort, warmth, joy, love and food. But amidst such wonderful warm thoughts comes an annoying impression of the husband holding a big placard which yells .. ‘take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live in!’

Sigh. This so dissolves all the cravings and transfers me back to hard ground. Matching up to his athletic skills or health agendas is not on my to do list – EVER. But we do call it a truce most of the times, we somehow make it work.

Hence one wintery cold beautiful evening, when I fancied some vegetable cutlets, he hid the oil. There! that’s how it works in our house. I crave. He improvises.

Here are some delicious vegetable cutlets or patties made in minimal oil and crunched with some slices of bread and semolina. Enclose these yummy rounds between tortillas, flavor it with green coriander chutney and what you will have is the famous wrap of Mumbai, called “frankie” in your hands.

Spicy yummy Wrap

Spicy yummy Wrap

They both love lime and I for one cannot tolerate the tartness, my teeth turn sour at the mere mention of it. Copious amounts drizzled over the cutlets and a wee bit of rock salt sprinkled, and how they both licked their plates clean! I stuck to what they call the thakela lame version of the dinner.

Taste Enhancer

Taste Enhancer or what?

VEGETABLE CUTLETS

Crisp and Yummy

Crisp and Yummy

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped vegetables, like carrot, beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli and potatoes
  • 2 medium sized onion, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 3-4 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 3 tbsp chopped capsicum
  • 2 tbsp grated beetroot – for the red color
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • Dry spices like – 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1-2 tsp amchur powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp red chili powder – all spices can vary according to your tastes.
  • salt
  • oil for pan frying and 1 tsp oil for sautéing.
  • 2 tbsp of semolina – optional
  • 3-4 slices of bread crumbled – optional

Method

Boil the vegetables in minimal water, along with little salt. I used 4 tbsp of water for 2 cups of veggies in a pressure cooker. This way you do not lose the essential vitamins of the greens to water. Once done, mash the veggies with a potato masher to a coarse consistency. keep aside. In a wok, heat oil, saute onions, ginger garlic paste and green chilies till the onions turn pink. Now throw in the capsicum and grated beet. Saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add the mashed boiled vegetables. Throw in all spices/masalas. Saute on high for about 4-5 minutes, stirring and mixing in between. The water if any from the veggies should be dry leaving the mixture to a coarse water free dough. Now add coriander leaves. Mix well. Leave it to cool.

Once the mix has cooled, try shaping them into flat patties. If you have difficulty then add crumbled bread to give the dough some firmness.

Once all the rounds are made, heat a flat griddle, sprinkle oil. In a bowl take 2 tbsp of semolina, coat each cutlet with semolina and roast on the griddle till crisp and golden.

Great with Chutney

Great with Chutney

Note: I did not use semolina as I used very very little water to boil my veggies, hence the mixture was firm enough to shape into cutlets and roast.

Note: You could alternatively, dip them into a mix of flour-water and deep fry/roast.

Note: Those who eat eggs, can dip the rounds into beaten eggs before frying/roasting.

Delicious and healthy

Delicious and healthy

MUMBAI STYLE FRANKIE / VEG CUTLET WRAP

This is a popular cheap version of the high-end wraps and rolls, usually available on the streets of Mumbai. Hawkers sell various versions of this roll, usually/mostly, wrapped in all-purpose flour/maida tortillas.

Served hot and crisp

Served hot and crisp

It is simple, really.

Take a tortilla or chappathi or any flat bread. Smear some green chutney, place 2-3 cutlets in the middle of the tortilla. Top with some julienne onions-peppers and cabbage. I also used some minced green chilies. Sprinkle lime juice and some chaat masala. If you like, some grated cheese for the final touch is also great. Roll it up tightly, and dry saute on a flat griddle or use little oil to roast till crisp.
Serve with extra green chutney, ketch up and some salad on the side.

Classic Veggie Roll

Classic Veggie Roll

Mexican Red Rice and a Burrito

Mexican Red Bean and Corn Rice

Mexican Red Bean and Corn Rice

Mexican Rice is basically white rice simmered in a tangy tomato gravy – I lectured to my rapt mother. It’s a different feeling when you are educating someone who has actually tutored you all their life. The scene was no different from my 6-year-old playing teacher-teacher with me. Well.

‘Ah! Tomato bhaath’, mom said. I took a deep breath, ‘yes, tomato bhaath made a little differently’. Mom likes to relate anything she eats for the first time to something that she is familiar with. She does that a lot! For instance, Mexican chili is nothing but rajma rice with lot of vegetables for her or all our fancy dips are chutneys or Thai green curry is Kerala stew! But my almost 60 year old mum is game to new cuisines with such an infectious zest that she usually leaves you smiling and wondering what else could she come up with. 🙂
Sweet mother of mine!

I used corn and beans in my rice, topped with jalapeno and cheese.. umm yum! Wait, there is more. Layering with guacamole, fresh veggie salsa and loads of rice on soft tortillas – the lunch was a massive crowd pleaser and for once mother found nothing to compare it with. Yay!

Mexican Red Rice Burrito

Mexican Red Rice Burrito

Mexican Red Corn Bean Rice

Simmered in tangy skewed tomatoes

Simmered in tangy skewed tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes. I used white, can use brown rice too.
  • 1/2 cup boiled red kidney beans/rajma beans or any beans of your choice.
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 3-4 tomatoes, washed
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil, or any oil
  • 4-5 pods of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder/paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: chopped jalapenos, corinader leaves and grated cheese

Method

In a pot of hot boiling water, make half way incisions on whole tomatoes, drop them in boiling water. After a couple of minutes. Remove the tomatoes, peel the skin, liquidize in a blender to get about a cup of tomato sauce.
Now, in another pot, heat oil. Fry garlic and onions till they turn translucent. Then add corn and beans, along with the soaked rice(no water). Saute the rice, corn and beans for a couple of minutes. Now add tomato sauce, sprinkle cumin powder, salt, pepper, paprika and oregano. Simmer for another minute or so. To this add another 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook till the rice is almost done. If required, add more water. Once done, cover and keep for some time, say 10 minutes. The covering makes the rice fluffy and soft.
Garnish with cheese, chopped jalapenos and coriander leaves.

Melted Cheese, Jalapenos add magic

Melted Cheese, Jalapenos add magic

Mexican Rice Burrito

This burrito is healthy, filling and so tasty! I made it with whole wheat chappathis/Indian flatbread, you could use corn tortillas too.

Corn for a bite, beans for the texture

Corn for a bite, beans for the texture

To make 2 burrito:

Ingredients

  • 2 tortillas, any kind. Corn, Maida/Flour tortillas can be used. I made mine with chappathis.
  • 4-6 tbsp of mexican rice, or as much as you want.
  • 2 tbsp of guacamole
  • 2 tbsp of tomato salsa OR 2 tbsp of freshly thinly sliced veggies like carrots, onions, cabbage, peppers – all mixed with salt and lemon juice.
  • 2 tbsp of jalapenos, minced
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese
  • sprinkling of mexican spice mix – I used a mixture of dried herbs like oregano and some chaat masala. Feel free to add any flavor you like.

Method

On a tortilla, spread 1 tbsp guacamole. Line your salsa or veggies in the center of the tortilla. Place 2 tbsp of mexican rice on the bed of veggie-guacamole. Now, top with jalapenos, cheese and mexican spice mix. Try to make a tight roll. Place a toothpick to hold it in place if required. Serve immediately.

Note: The original recipe called for tomato salsa, I didn’t have any, so I substituted with mixed thinly sliced vegetables.

Note: Mexican Spice Mix is readily available in stores, but since I had none, oregano and chat masala came to my rescue.

Note: Serve the burrito with sour cream by side – divine!

Note: The husband likes things crisp and extra roasted. So I roasted the filled burrito on a hot flat griddle again, with the help of little olive oil. You can serve the burrito as it is too.

Makes a beautiful burrito

Makes a beautiful burrito

Pita Bread, Tzatziki and a Vegetarian Gyro Sandwich

Tzatziki in pita bread is divine

khaboos/khubz/khabooz – pita bread

Just when there’s a huge amount of work to be done, tons of cleaning and washing, two back to back classes for the child to attend, maids giving a miss.. it’s just in these times, that I usually cook something fancy. Its like, I already have so much work, a little more would not hurt.

Khabooz/ Pita Bread

Recipe Success

And then there are those times, when I can get so lazzy…. that I don’t clean or cook or run mad for classes and the maids also turn up. In those beautiful moments I *sigh*, I loiter, procrastinate, laze, enjoy a sleepy happy nap in the afternoon sun(Yea.. I love sunny naps.. when my eyes squint and thoughts dreamy and quixotic). I am like that.

Gyro Un wrapped!

Gyro Un wrapped!

So, on yet another busy harried day, I tried my hands at baking pita bread. And when you’re on a roll, you just can’t seem to stop. In effect, a greek yoghurt dip and a Gyro sandwich was churned up. You know how it is when one thing leads to another. Thats what happened to me too.

With pita read, some tzatziki, hummus, tandoori paneer and potatoes, we assembled a vegetarian version of the famous Gyro Sandwich! Yumm!

Pita Crispies served with Hummus

Pita Crispies served with Hummus

Also for dinner that night: Baked crisp pita bread served with oil loaded hummus. Cool eh?

Now getting down to some serious business.

PITA BREAD

Soft and Pillowy

Soft and Pillowy

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • about 1 1/2 cups water
  • Optional: 1 tsp toasted flaxseed and sesame seed for topping

Method

Proof the yeast. Take both flours, salt, honey, oil and proofed yeast in a bowl. Using water, knead into a soft dough. Knead further until the dough is very soft and elastic, but is not sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, rolling the dough in the bowl so it is well coated with the oil. Cover and keep aside to rise till double, for about 1 1/2 hours.

Once doubled, punch the dough to release some of the air and divide it into 8-10 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out the ball to about 1/4″ to 1/8” thick (not as thin as a chappathi). If your dough does not roll out well let it rest for about 20 minutes and the roll it out again.

Let the rolled out pitas rest for about 10 minutes, if you are using flaxseed and sesame seed, sprinkle on the bread before baking and then bake them on a baking sheet at 220C (430F) for about 5 to 6 minutes till well puffed up and cooked. If you want crisp pitas you can bake them a little longer, but for making Gyros you need the pitas to be soft.
Place them on a tack or a clean cotton towel to cool so they do not become soggy.

Note: I used exactly half the aforesaid quantity and it was good enough to feed 3 people.

Crisp pita dotted with flax seeds and sesame seeds, served with hummus.

Appetising!

Appetising!

TANDOORI PANEER AND POTATOES

Tandoori Paneer

Tandoori Paneer

Tandoori Potatoes and Paneer

Tandoori Potatoes and Paneer

Ingredients

  • 200 gms paneer, cut into cubes.
  • 2 large potatoes, parboiled and cut into long fingers
  • 1 cup thick curd
  • 2-3 tbsp chick pea flour or besan
  • spices in tsp – turmeric-1/2, coriander powder-1/2, red chili powder- 1, salt, tandoori masala-1, ginger garlic paste-1, amchur powder(dry mango)- 1/2)
  • oil – 1 tsp
  • chopped coriander leaves

Method

Mix together curd, chick pea flour, spices and coriander leaves. Marinate the paneer and potato in this spicy tandoori marinade. Leave for at least 30 minutes. I kept mine for 2 hours.
Once done, preheat an oven or a flat griddle, and bake these beauties on parchment lines paper till golden brown. Take care not to over bake or cook else the paneer will turn rubbery. Serve as required.

TZATZIKI

Greek Yoghurt made with cucumber

Greek Yoghurt made with cucumber

Ingredients

  • (1/2-3/4) cup chopped deseeded cucumbers
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup thick curd
  • 1 tsp of lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped dill leaves-optional
  • 1 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Mix together all the ingredients except the cucumber till blended well. Sprinkle some salt on the finely chopped cucumber and keep aside for about 20 minutes. Squeeze out the water from the cucumber to dry it out as much as possible. Fold in the drained cucumber, garnish with more mint and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

Note: Please don’t skip the honey, it adds much taste to this dip.

GYRO SANDWICH

Popular American Greek Street Food

Popular American Greek Street Food

A Gyro is a popular American-Greek street food, thought to have its origins in the Turkish Doner Kebab or Shawarmas.the name Gyro comes from the spiced meat for the sandwich, which is cooked on a revolving vertical spit from which thin strips are sliced off. Pronounced as “Yeer-Oh”, what I have here is a veggie version of it. You could even think of this as a paneer shawarma.

Method

Take one pita bread, on one half of it, the drama enfolds: Spread a tablespoon of hummus, some fresh Julienne veggies like cabbage, capsicum, onions and tomatoes. Place your tandoori paneer and potatoes. Top with Tzatziki – add as much as please. Fold the other half bread over it.

Serve!

I know the post is long, bear with me. I have been terribly busy lately. So, to publish 3-4 different posts seemed much harder than making a single one. I have a whole line of recipes coming soon(cooking a lot lately), so clubbing two-three smaller ones seems like the correct thing to do. Do drop a line if you think otherwise.

So easy to make

So easy to make

Take a bite

Take a bite

This recipe is my entry to Vardhini’s Bake Fest #25.

Creamy Spinach Corn Spread/Dip, a Sandwich and some very cute Canapes

Its creamy. Its colorful. Its versatile. It has spinach! so yes. Its healthy too. Is it dip? Or a spread? or a side… call it whatever you wish, doesn’t matter. Its yummy and your family and friends will digg deeper into the bowl for more, is what matters. 🙂

Spinach Corn Creamy Spread

Spinach Corn Creamy Spread

So, I cooked a good deal one morning. Made this creamy spread, fixed sandwiches and canapes, roasted healthy parathas, potato saute, baked a simple eggless chocolate cake with a divine ganache(the cake was too soft so it fell apart, but that didn’t deter us from grabbing mouthfuls!). I am not making a post of the cake. Fabulous to taste but a dud to look at, so would you call that a recipe failure or what?

Not posting this one

Not posting this one

My girl absolutely abhors peas and corn in her food. Corn on the cob is ok, but none of the sweet corn kernels in her parathas or rice or pasta.

I had to make her like it. Somehow. Simply because it was turning to be a pain, to cook separately for Miss finicky or sometimes remove the bits that sneaked in. Pain.

Wonder Veggies

Wonder Veggies

So here my new little helpers, cookie cutters helped me draw Milee’s attention to corn and wonder veggie spinach.

Using the cutters, scooped different shapes of bread, dabbed little bit of the spread, sprinkled cheese and baked to golden perfection!
No bribing, No threatening, No screaming. It all worked like a charm. Gone in minutes, she comes back for more. Yay!

Kids love it

Kids love it

The dip also turned into a wonderful spread when combined with green mint chutney(my favorite! I put it on everything) and some ketchup on the side.

Creamy Sandwich

Creamy Sandwich

A steaming cup of hot masala tea/chai is all that I needed to complete my breakfast. Tea with milk and sugar, enhanced by crushed pounded ginger, guest appearance of cardamom and cinnamon is our very own Indian masala chai. Although I try not to start my day with a cup of tea, but with breakfast it’s mandatory.

Perfect Breakfast

Perfect Breakfast

For the Spinach Corn Dip/Spread:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup corn kernels, coarsely cut. Just place them on the board and using a knife, roughly chop them.
  • 1/2 cup spinach, washed, blanched and chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil.
  • 1 tsp oregano or any mixed italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp flour, any – plain or whole wheat
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp red chili flakes – or as much as you need
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • Optional: 2-3 tbsp cheddar cheese or fresh cream

Method

In a wok, heat butter/oil. Saute garlic and onions. Add corn kernels along with the salt. After 2-3 minutes, throw in the flour. Let it coat all the veggies. Now add milk, keep stirring, till the milk thickens. Mix in the spinach. Season with oregano and red chili flakes. If using cheese or cream. Mix in now. The sauce should be creamy and thick. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Use as required.

Note: If you wish to use the sauce as a dip for your croutons or cucumbers, then add more milk to get the consistency a little runny. If using as a spread on bread or parathas, then you might want it to be a little thick, so in that case, reduce the quantity of milk.

Note: Garlic and onions can be avoided. I just used them as flavor enhancers.

Note: Spinach is best blanched in wilting the leaves in hot water for 3-4 minutes, then immediately running them in cold water. This retains the fabulous color.

Note: To not wash away the essential nutrients of spinach. I suggest: wash the leaves well, chop them roughly, then blanch the leaves in very little hot water. Do not throw away the water, use them in boiling lentils/pulses or in your daily dough.

Tasty Finger Food

Tasty Finger Food

For the Canapes:
Using cookie cutters of different shapes, scoop out bread slices, dab with sauce, top with cheese and bake till brown. So simple. Serve with tomato ketch up. Simple 🙂

For the Sandwiches:
I applied a layer of green chutney on both slices of bread, spread the sauce, cover with the other slice and roast or grill or toast.

Spread/Dip/Side.. whatever you wish to call

Spread/Dip/Side.. whatever you wish to call

Chili Garlic Roasted Potatoes, Veggie Coleslaw and a Super Yummy Wrap!

Yummy Wrap

Yummy Wrap

I’m having a writer’s block. Yet here I am posting this.
Its been quite sometime since my fingers moved on the keyboard. And now as I sit staring at my computer screen, the mind goes blank. Words fail to combine. Interesting anecdotes refuse to flash in my morbid mind. Ah! so frustrating and de motivating.

“Blank is good, its like a fresh canvas”, is my guy’s way of galvanizing my vacuous wit.
“Yeah…?”, I yawn apathetically.

Spicy garlic roasted potatoes

Spicy garlic roasted potatoes

I suppose it’s the mind numbing lunch that I made. Maybe all those flavors suddenly dimmed my senses.. Maybe the divine garlicky potatoes and creamy veggie coleslaw had something to do with my comatose state.

“Go sleep..”, again he piqued. “You ate too much…”
What?! Did I just hear that? Did he just say that?!
Well, that was enough to wake me up and put my languid senses back on track.

No Mayo, Veggie Coleslaw

No Mayo, Veggie Coleslaw

Men say the darnest things at the darnest times. Just when I was half sleepily glorifying my culinary skills, attributing my lackadaisical writing attempts to the “supposedly” gorgeous lunch I made, he had to say that!

In an arduous pursuit to prove him wrong, I fret, fume, wash my face and make myself a super strong coffee. It works. It all does. His mindless opinion, the cold water on my face and of course the coffee!

All ready to wrap

All ready to wrap

Now to lay some facts straight: The lunch was gorgeous. Every bite was flavorful and whole.
And maybe I ate half a wrap more than I should have. 😉 But then we all did. He too. Just that he didn’t drowse after that and I did.

Well, coming to the recipe. This is an improvised last-minute attempt. You cannot really go wrong with potatoes, garlic, butter and coleslaw. Can you?

spicy potatoes, coleslaw and some vinegary onions

spicy potatoes, coleslaw and some vinegary onions

I made some roasted baby potatoes the other day. From there my imagination spewed to the various ways of incorporating the yumminess in our daily diet.
Thus, a no mayo simple easy crunchy creamy coleslaw, along with some vinegary onions, green mint coriander chutney and chili garlic roasted potatoes, all put together on a tortilla/chappathi was the lunch that I am raving and ranting about.

Potato Delight

Potato Delight

The Recipe –

To make 4 wraps:

Ingredients

4 whole wheat chappathis/tortillas
4 tbsp green chutney
sliced onions, dipped in vinegar and salt – according to taste

For the chili garlic potatoes:

  • 4-5 medium-sized potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into fingers.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced and smashed
  • 2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tsp dried parsley leaves or fresh
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Veggie Coleslaw:

  • 1 cup thinly sliced veggies, I used carrots, cabbage, bell peppers, onions and scallions
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp plain flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 glass milk
  • 2-3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 green chili, minced – optional
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup greek yoghurt/hung yoghurt or sour cream – optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

For the potatoes:
Get the oven pre heated and ready. Throw the potato fingers in scalding hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and remove on a clean kitchen towel.
Pound the garlic and red chili flakes in a mortar and pestle. Mix with olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Coat the potatoes with this heavenly oil. Spread them on a baking tray and bake at 180 C for 15 minutes or till they turn golden and crisp.
Alternatively, you could roast them on a huge flat frying pan, sauteing all the while till they turn golden and crisp.

For the Coleslaw:
Heat butter, saute garlic, green chili(if using) and bell peppers, Once done, add the flour. Then in goes the milk. Stir all the while to make a creamy white sauce. Season with salt, red chili flakes and pepper. Switch the flame off. Now mix in the sliced veggies like cabbage, onions, carrots and scallions. Mix well. Check for seasoning. Keep aside.

For the Onions in vinegar:
In a small bowl of vinegar, add a tsp of salt and some sliced onions. Keep aside. They turn pink after sometime because of vinegar and salt reaction.

For the wrap:
Take a tortilla/chappathi. Spread a tbsp of green chutney or as much as you desire. I added this Indian twist to it, cause we are a family of coriander chutney lovers. We like it on everything. You can omit it you like.
Next spread a tbsp or two of coleslaw. Top with garlic potatoes. Sprinkle some vinegar and finish off by placing the tart vinegary onions.

Wrap and serve by some more coleslaw on the side.
Best enjoyed with some chilled drink.

Yumm

Yumm

For those who want to avoid potatoes, maybe you could try this wrap with some roasted broccoli or cauliflower or paneer(cottage cheese/paneer wrap). My penchant for these quick fixes is quite well known. I love making wraps with whatever the pantry and refrigerator have to offer.

Spicy Wrap

Spicy Wrap

Other Options with Coleslaw:

1. Sandwiches! They make awesome sandwiches. Add a layer of cheese and some spicy chutney for that extra kick and you have yourself a fancy looking bite!
2. Salads. Add some tangy citrusy fruit like pomegranates, oranges and strawberries and a very interesting salad is born.
3. As a side to burgers and hot dogs
4. On potato/corn/mushroom or any type of pattice.

Sunday Lunch

Sunday Lunch

Gourmet(or gluttony?) remarks and a very strong coffee revived my dwindling spirit and mind. And he ate his own words 🙂

Healthy Delicious Cottage Cheese Wraps

Wrap of goodness

Wrap of goodness

I was bored. Bored out of the routine which had not altered for the past few weeks. Bored out of doing similar things at similar timings – daily. I needed a break. Taking a sabbatical from work and home means going out and enjoying a scrumptious meal with family… but I was bored of that too! Fussy me.

Scrumptious

Scrumptious

Lethargic dull company can have widening effects on you. So said the husband. Woken up all peppy and permeated with new found vivacity, he thought he could infect me too with it. It didn’t. I stay as dull as dishwater. After much coaxing-haggling we decide to role reverse for the day.

Great as a take away.

Great as a take away.

The guy would chip in with Milee, make lunch, do laundry, get the house to sparkle and I? Oh I was to just lie on the couch, watch TV, lick Nutella, make a mess around me and then doze off to candy land. (I secretly wish for a place really made out of chocolate – where ganache flowed, trees sprouted choco bars, flowers bloomed into candies, clouds were made of cotton candy and houses of dutch truffle – sigh!).

But somethings are just not meant to be.
Just when I put my feet up, just when I start to enjoy the reruns of Suits(Harvey Specter — I love you). Just when I haven’t even licked the spoon clean… dishes fall, water spills, kid goes hungry, maids lament…the kitchen turn into a mini battle field. Oh! my insouciance go-to-hell. Drowsy my foot! Husband has a knack of waking me up even if I were in a grave.

Fresh, cheesy warm yet crisp

Fresh, cheesy warm yet crisp

Shutting the TV off, I return to my territory with such a look that puts the inept to shame. Taking in all the annihilation, seething with rage, secretly cursing my diminutive brain for not foreseeing the future. I set to work.

Resolved not to forgive, I plotted to desecrate our Sunday. But fate was not on my side that particular day. Again.
The lunch turned out fabulous. I didn’t want it to be. It turned into a treat. I didn’t want it to be. I Sulk. And more sulk.
The dad daughter duo enjoyed every last bite, while I scowled to the last bit.

Crunch from the veggies and the melt from the paneer... goodness in every bite!

Crunch from the veggies and the melt from the paneer… goodness in every bite!

To make 6 wraps:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of paneer bhurji (recipe at the end)
  • 6 whole wheat tortillas/Chappathis
  • 6 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 cup thinly shredded salad vegetables like onion, cabbage, carrot, capsicum and spring onion greens
  • 7-8 fresh lettuce leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • salt and pepper powder to taste
  • Chaat masala to sprinkle – optional
  • 6 tbsp grated mozzarella – optional

Method

Soak the salad veggies in lime juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Keep aside.
Now its just assembly basically:
Take a chappathi, place lettuce on it. Smear a tbsp of mayonnaise on the lettuce. Place a table spoon or more of paneer bhurji in the center of the tortilla. Now, top the bhurji with shredded soaked salad veggies. If using chat masala and cheese. Add it on the salad veggies now. Fold from both sides tightly. Pick the entire assembly up with a flat spatula. Roast on a hot flat griddle till toasted and crisp. If you like you can use a little bit of olive oil for toasting it.

Serve hot with a lot of extra salad and something cool to sip on.

Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch

Paneer Bhurji –
Bhurji is a term used for crumbled paneer in a tangy spicy tomato onion gravy. The paneer is mashed and soft. It serves as a great side to chappathis/wraps and on breads.

You need –

  • 1 cup crumbled paneer/cottage cheese
  • 1 tomato, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 green chilies, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • juice of half a lime
  • coriander leaves to garnish
  • salt

Method-
First, crumble the paneer(FUN!!) and keep aside. I didn’t crumble actually, I minced it. Little tiny perfect squares. But it doesn’t matter if u crumble or mince them.

Heat oil in a pan. Crackle cumin seeds. Saute ginger garlic paste. Add in onions-green chilies. Saute till pink. Next throw in the chopped tomatoes, along with the turmeric, chili powder and coriander powder. Cover and cook till oil separates from sides. Once done. Add the paneer. Give it a good mix. The end is a cohesive mix of the gravy and the cheese. turn the flame off. Add garam masala, lime juice and coriander leaves. Mix well. Use as required.

The onion turns red with vinegar and salt.

The onion turns red with vinegar and salt.

Sometimes I think it’s my man’s tactic to avoid doing things that he doesn’t want to do. What I mean is, Do it badly, chances are she will never ask again. Ah! well. Whatever it is. Lesson learnt. Kitchen cleaned. Lunch done. Peace regained. All that matters.

Yummmmmmmm

Yummmmmmmm