Monday, June 4, 2018

Paneer, cauliflower and peas pilaf with sprouted green mung beans raita

Pilaf and raita are considered food for the soul in our family. Fragrant basmati rice is perfect for pilaf's. A Sunday lunch of pilaf with this delicious combination of crispy paneer, caramelized cauliflower and sweet peas and a protein rich raita of sprouted mung beans and yogurt, makes me very popular with my daughter. Basmati rice is cooked, and cooled before it is tossed with the rest of the ingredients. Leftover rice works well too. The raita needs a little advance planning as the mung beans needs two to three days to sprout especially during the cold weather. You could skip the mung beans and make a quick raita with canned chickpeas as well. Other options for raita are here.

Paneer, cauliflower and peas pilaf

1 cup long grain basmati rice
1 1/2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or canola oil
3/4 cup cubed paneer (homemade or store bought) **
2 green cardamoms
2 cloves
8 whole black peppercorn
1 one inch stick of cinnamon
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 teaspoon minced spicy green chile like jalapeno or serrano
1 cup cauliflower cut into tiny florets
1/2 cup frozen and thawed green peas
Salt to taste

  1. Wash and rinse the rice in two to three changes of water till the water run clear. Then soak the rice in a 3 qt pot for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain and add 4 cups water and boil the rice uncovered for 13 to 15 minutes till the rice is done but not mushy. For pilaf the rice should be firm. Drain the rice through a fine sieve and spread it out on a plate to cool.
  3. In the meantime, heat 1/2 tablespoon ghee in a 12 inch saute pan and fry the paneer cubes over medium heat till they are golden brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add 1 more tablespoon of ghee to the pan and add the sliced onions. Saute for 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat till the onion has caramelized, add 
** Available at all Indian grocery stores and Whole Foods and Fairways in New York. 


Sprouts Raita
1/4 cup whole green mung beans
1 cup whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1/4 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
Salt to taste
  1. Wash the beans in cool water and soak them overnight in a wide mouthed bowl, with enough water to cover the beans by at least 1 inch
  2. After 12 hours the beans should swell and begin to start sprouting. If not let it remain soaked for another few hours till you see the shoots beginning to emerge.
  3. Once the shoots have begun to emerge, discard the water and cover the container with cling wrap. Keep in  warm place for 12 to 24 hours till long white sprouts begin to appear. Then the sprouts are ready to use.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fresh fava bean salad with tomato and mozzarella balls

Another spring vegetable that has a short season is fava beans. It is a three step process before they are edible but worth it. Paired with cherry tomatoes and  bocconcini (mozzarella balls) they make for a great spring salad. The beans have a buttery texture, slight bitterness and lovely, nutty flavor. The tomatoes are slightly tart and sweet and the mozzarella balls just melt in your mouth. A handful of crisp greens and a lemony herb dressing brings this beautiful salad together.

Fava Bean salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella

1 1/2 cups peeled fava beans (You will need 2 lbs beans in the pod)
7 baby mozzarella balls, cut in half
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 cups salad greens (I used baby spinach)

Dressing
1 small clove fresh garlic, peeled and grated
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil)
1/8 teaspoons dried red chili flakes
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or a pinch of dried oregano leaves
  1. Bring a huge pot of salty water to a boil. How salty? It should taste like the sea. In the meantime get an ice water bath ready. Add the shelled fava beans to the boiling water. Let them boil for a minute or two. You will know they are ready when they are all floating in the top of the water.
  2. Plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. Now look for the reverse: When all the favas have sunk to the bottom, pinch them out of the jackets.  
  3. Add the cooked fava beans to the salad bowl with the cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella balls. 
  4. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing and pour half of it on the fava, tomato and mozzarella mixture. Let it marinate for 30 minutes. Then add the baby spinach leaves and add the rest of the dressing. Toss and serve immediately.
Serves 3

Monday, May 15, 2017

Potato and lentil salad with basil vinaigrette

I had seen a post of David Leibovitz where he is in love with basil vinaigrette as much he is in love with pesto. We used to eat a lot of basil pesto but then got bored of it, and I started making pesto with  baby arugula and baby watercress, but this vinaigrette looked interesting and I decided to give it a try. The vinaigrette has all the elements of a traditional french potato salad dressing with a little extra. Lentils added some bulk and a change in texture. Its a perfect vegetarian main course salad.
The creamy potatoes, with the earthy french lentils, mild pickled shallots and the tangy vinaigrette work beautifully together. Spring and summer are a great time to make this salad when basil leaves are easily available. Use the freshest basil leaves as the vinaigrette is the star of the dish!


Potato and lentil salad with basil vinaigrette
24 oz fresh new potatoes cut into quarters or sixth's depending on the size
1 cup French green lentils
1 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white vine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Basil Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  1. Add 3 cups of water and 1 cup lentils to a 3 quart saucepan and bring the water to a boil. Simmer over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and continue to simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes till the lentils are cooked but not mushy. If the water has not absorbed, drain the excess water. Transfer to the serving bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the potatoes in another large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes till the potatoes are cooked but not breaking apart. Drain and combine with the lentils.
  3. While the lentils and potatoes are cooking, in a small bowl, add the lemon juice to the shallots and let it pickle. 
  4. Drain the shallots to the potato and lentil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finally drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad.
 Serves 3 to 4

Basil Vinaigrette by David Leibovitz
1/2 cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 small shallot (25g) peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher or flaky sea salt
2 cups loosely packed (25g) fresh basil leaves

Combine all of the above in a small blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Makes about 1/3 cup.