Monday, November 14, 2016

Lentil salad with haricot vert and peppers

This is another great colorful vegetarian main course salad with lentils as the base. The haricot vert is simply sauteed with garlic and the peppers are roasted and marinated in a delicious marinade of fresh garlic, vinegar, olive oil and oregano. The combination of earthy lentils with the slightly al-dente haricot vert, soft peppers and tangy goat cheese makes for a great salad!

Lentil salad with haricot vert and peppers
3/4th cup French green lentils
6 oz trimmed haricot vert
1 medium sized red bell pepper
3 oz goat cheese
2 tablespoons good quality red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
1/8th teaspoon dried oregano
1/8th teaspoon dried red chili flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the pepper on a sheet pan lined with foil and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn and cook for another 15 till all sides are blistered. Remove and cover with foil till cool. Peel and seed the pepper, and marinate with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, dried oregano, red chili. 
  2. In a 3 quart saucepan bring 3 cups of water and the lentils 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 a glass bowl. Add 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil to the lentils and mix. Set aside.
  3. In a 10 inch saute pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon chopped garlic. Saute for a minute and add the haricot vert. Toss it around to mix well. Add 1/4 cup water and 1/8th teaspoon salt, cover and cook for about 8 minutes till the beans are tender but not mushy.
  4. Before plating, warm the lentils in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Taste for seasoning. You might need to add a little more vinegar, salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Spread the lentils on the serving platter, topped with the haricot vert. Chop the pepper into 1/2 inch pieces and arrange it evenly on the salad. Finally crumble the goat cheese and scatter it on top with a good drizzle of olive oil. 
Serves 3 as a main course or 4 as a side.

Note: The peppers taste best marinated for at least 4 hours. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Chettinad style egg curry

This Chettinad style egg curry is a riff on Chettinad chicken curry. I really like the spices used in the chicken curry and decided to replicate it for my vegetarian family. Fennel and coconut milk as well as a high level of spice makes this dish delicious. The Chettinad dishes are spicy and flavorful. If hot and spicy food is not your thing, you can add a little sugar to the dish or increase the quantity of coconut milk and you could of course reduce the cayenne, but it will not be the same. This curry tastes best with any flatbread to mop up the gravy, like a paratha, naan or pita. In a crunch steamed rice will work as well!

Chettinad style egg curry

3 large organic eggs
1 cup packed finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon garlic slices
1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
One sprig of curry leaves (fresh is best)
1 cup chopped tomato
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
Salt to taste
  1. Place the eggs in a small saucepan covered with water and one teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, shut off the heat. Cover and let the eggs cook in the residual heat for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes are up, place the eggs in ice water to cool. when cool, crack the eggs and remove the shells. Give the eggs a couple of slits and keep aside.
  2. In a 10 inch saute pan, heat the canola oil over medium heat and add the fennel seeds, onion and garlic and curry leaves if using. Saute for about 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat till the onion has softened and is light brown. Now add the chopped tomato and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat till the tomatoes have softened and a sauce is formed. Now add the ground fennel, ground cumin, ground coriander and cayenne. Cook for a minute or two so that the spices are incorporated into the sauce. Add the eggs to the sauce and toss them around so that they are well coated with the sauce.  Finally add the coconut milk. If you don't want to open a whole can just for this recipe, use coconut milk powder mixed with water. Stir over low heat so that the coconut milk is well mixed for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Serve with flat breads.
Serves 3.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Butternut Squash and bell pepper soup

The beauty of this soup is in its simplicity. I first tasted it at my mother-in-laws in India, earlier this year. Very skeptically nevertheless, since  I like my soups to have some texture and this is a velvety smooth soup. Contrary to my expectations, this soup was extremely flavorful and very satisfying. The addition of green bell pepper adds a subtle spice which is a good counterpoint for the sweetness of the squash. My mom-in-law also added grated Amul cheese. This is the most famous cheese in India - a pasteurized cheddar with a fair bit of saltiness. You can substitute cheddar cheese for the Amul cheese, but I stuck to Amul cheese since I was craving the version that I had eaten in India.

We had this soup for dinner with a small salad and an egg sandwich. Will also be great as a first course for your Thanksgiving menu!

Butternut squash and bell pepper soup 

1 lb peeled, seeded butternut squash, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/2 large green bell pepper, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoon chopped Amul cheese
3 cup stock or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat a 3 quart stock pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes and then add the butternut squash and peppers. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes, add salt and the stock or water.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cook covered for 15 to 20 minutes till the squash is soft.
  3. Remove the squash and peppers with a slotted spoon and blend. Add the remaining soup from the stock pot to help in blending. Once the squash has become a puree, add the cheese and give it one last spin. 
  4. Pour the contents of the blender back into the stock pot and adjust the seasoning. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Serves 3.