Kadhi / Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

I visited an Indian friend this past weekend in a city south of me. We don’t know each other a long time but it is always so much fun with her. She is mad, crazy like me! It is so relaxing to be around people that you don’t have to watch your words with. We were supposed to meet somewhere between where I live and she does but the bitter cold got to my friends lazy Indian bones and she decided to lure me to her house (considering that I have the laziest Indian bones too!) with a home cooked Indian meal.

She didn’t have to say much more. I would go to the ends of the world if I could get a home cooked, delicious Indian meal! And she does cook well. I know this from a previous time, so I had tasted the goods before!

She served me something that mom used to make a lot when I was growing up. And I used to hate it! But with my new found love for food, I did not go all sulky at the thought of eating something that clearly I had bad memories about. That in itself is a thing to be proud of if you are me.

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

The dish in question is called kadhi and it is a dish that is specific to a state in India called Gujarat. Of course like most dishes in India, you go to a different part of the country and it is made entirely differently. That is the most wonderful thing about India. How varied it is. Kadhi is made from sour yoghurt or buttermilk and chickpea flour. It is infused with a ton of spices and usually will contain dumplings which are generally made just with chickpea flour (or at least that’s how mom made them). It really is a delicacy in India.

And the way Shalini, my friend made it was delicious!

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

Mom’s recipe had to be revisited, since I love her cooking, and for any future I-want-to-put-this-on-my-blog occasion, I called her and got her version. I couldn’t imagine that if I had her kadhi now, that I would still hate it. And then I wrote it down and left it for another time, only to hear that while Obama visited India, he was served kadhi!!! When the universe gives you a sign to do something, you do it!

I have changed up mom’s recipe a little bit and mine is very different from Shalini’s, but it is delicious. And if you like chickpeas or anything related to chickpeas AND spicy curry, this is your recipe.

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

for the curry
3 cups buttermilk
4 tbsps chickpea flour (besan in hindi)
3 cups water
1/4 tsp asofetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

for the first tempering
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp oil

for the second tempering
1 tsp cumin seeds
15-20 dried curry leaves (if they are fresh 4-5 will be ok)
4-5 whole dried red chilies
1 tsp oil

for the dumplings
1 cup chickpea flour
2 cups kale, washed and chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder
pinch of black nigella seeds
pinch of ajwain seeds
pinch of baking soda
1 tsp salt
oil for deep frying

to prepare
In a mixing bowl whisk the buttermilk and chickpea flour till completely smooth. Make sure there are no lumps. You can sieve the mixture if you cant get rid of some of the tiny lumps. mix in the turmeric and the red chili powder and salt. Keep aside.

In a pan (I did it in a dutch oven), heat the oil and add the asafoetida. Let it heat up for around a minute and then add the buttermilk chickpea flour mix and on high heat bring to a boil while stirring continuously stirring. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

While you let the curry simmer, you can prepare the dumplings. In a wok heat enough oil to deep fry the dumplings. The oil needs to get very hot. While the oil heats up, in a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients and pour enough water for it to come together. The mixture should not be runny. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop some of the dumpling mix into the oil. If it sizzles and rises, the oil is ready.
Pour, with the help of a spoon, small amounts of the mix into the hot oil. Fry each lot for a few minutes or till the dumplings take on a nice dark brown coloring. We need it to be cooked through and through. Once done, place on a plate lined with some kitchen towels to soak up any excess oil.

In a separate small pan, heat the oil for the first tempering and add the fenugreek seeds once the oil is a bit hot. As soon as the seeds start turning color, take off heat and pour into the curry mix. Let the curry cook for another 10 minutes.

For the second tempering, heat the oil and thrown in all the other ingredients. As soon as the cumin seeds begin to sputter, take off heat and pour into curry mix. Cook the curry again for 10 minutes and then add the dumplings.

Adjust the salt as needed and serve with hot basmati rice or naan.

 

Spaghetti with Beetroot and Baked Ricotta and Pears

Spaghetti with beetroot and roasted ricotta and pears

Today I learned about an ancient Egyptian mythological deity called Bennu. He is bird like, self created and is linked to the the sun, creation itself and rebirth. He is probably the inspiration for the phoenix I read and is also the name chosen for the asteroid that ranks as the second greatest threat to Earth.

Now that is what I’ve always expected asteroids to do. They are the carriers of destruction. At least till earlier today. Now, of course if any one of these bodies hits us, they will cause massive destruction and may even wipe us out but they are so fascinating too! I never knew that they are the remnants left behind after the creation of our planets. That they hold the very materials of our creation. Some contain massive amounts of water and could serve as service stations in the future for our space crafts! Now I could talk about this stuff all day. I don’t tire of watching shows on the mind bending concept of our universe and what a speck I am and how small my worries really are. It is enough to love big, very big and enjoy every second of our amazing moment in the time and history of our world.

Now this recipe is simple but IT IS out of this world. Clean, simple, beautiful and super healthy.

Spaghetti with beetroot and roasted ricotta and pears

I just love beetroot and how it just bleeds its color onto everything. Your pasta will turn red in less than a minute. I mean how cool is it to eat red pasta?! The beetroot is cut small enough to look like red pearls floating in a sea of red weed. The creamy salty baked goodness of the ricotta and the sweet sweetness of the pears. This is a dish that is so fresh, you will want more and more.

Spaghetti with beetroot and baked ricotta and pears

Spaghetti with beetroot and baked ricotta and pearsSpaghetti with beetroot and baked ricotta and pears

 

2 servings (adapted from aller hande)

150 grams spaghetti
200 grams ricotta
2 medium size beets, around 250 grams (cooked and peeled)
2 pears
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp rosemary + some to sprinkle on the prepared dish
200 grams baby spinach
4 tbsps olive oil
handful of walnuts
salt and pepper to taste
splash of balsamic vinegar

to prepare
Preheat oven to 220°C/430°F.

Slice each pear into 6 parts, Remove the core. Place the ricotta on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Surround the ricotta with the pears. This way the ricotta will keep its shape. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the ricotta and the pears with the rosemary and coarse salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 30 minutes till golden brown.

In the meantime, cook the spaghetti as per instructions on the package.

Cut the cooked beetroot in small squares. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a pan and drop the sliced garlic. Fry for about 3-4 minutes and then add the beetroot. Fry for another 10 minutes.

Add the cooked spaghetti (making sure you let all water drain out) and mix well with the beetroot. See your pasta turn a beautiful red! Mix in the baby spinach.

Serve with a quarter slice of the ricotta and a few slices of the pears. Sprinkle some more rosemary and salt and pepper and a splash of the balsamic vinegar. A glass of wine and you’re all set!

 

 

 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Sesame Seeds and Goji Berries

brussel sprouts with sesame seeds and goji berries

I go through periods when I can eat the same food, months on end. I grew up on an Indian diet and I loved it. Indian food is one of the most varied food on the planet I think. But, even if it wasn’t, I could not get enough of it. And when the cook is mom, then well, what’s to complain.

And then I went to America! By myself for the first time, all alone, never cooked in my life, I discovered pasta. And I’m not kidding, but I ate pasta for an entire year! No jokes. I loved it that much. I think I have an addictive personality, only the funny thing is that it doesn’t extend to the smoking drinking area but only with certain kinds of food. Who knows what that is all about!

These days the food hero in my life is the brussel sprout. I had never seen it before I came to Holland (maybe because I was only in the pasta section in the US!) and like the un-adventurous person in food I am/was/continue to be, my first reaction was to turn up my nose to it. I mean its green for Gods sake. Everything green, growing up was evil!  Since then, however, I have fallen in love with it and you will see me using it more and more. I mean I used it in a smoothie!

It is a super food in its own right and I added another super food to it to make it super super healthy. You can eat it as a side dish but it is quite filling by itself. Make a large batch and save for lunches or eat it in one go, whatever you please.

My taste palette runs towards the bitter and I love my food a little charred. So I decided to roast/grill my brussel sprouts, threw in a very Indian spice (sesame seeds), a few glugs of olive oil and a sprinkling of goji berries and I was good to go.

brussel sprouts with sesame seeds and goji berries

brussel sprouts with sesame seeds and goji berries

250 grams brussel sprouts
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup goji berries
4-5 tbsps olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

to prepare
Wash and half the brussel sprouts. Dry roast the sesame seeds in a non stick pan on medium high heat, for about 3-4 minutes. When you see them brown slightly, immediately remove and put in a bowl.

In a pan, heat one tablespoon of olive and fry the onions, till golden brown and nicely caramelized. This will take some 5-7 minutes on high heat. Keep a close eye or they could get burnt. Set aside.

In the same pan add some more of the remaining olive oil and roast the brussel sprouts face down and then flip. Each side should take about 3-4 minutes on high heat.

Once all the brussel sprouts are done, add the onions back in. Add the toasted sesame seeds and add the goji berries last. Toss and stir for a minute and its done!

Season with salt and pepper.

 

Cinnamon Cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

It was only yesterday that we were all scared of the year 2000 arriving and frying our computers. And now suddenly, it’s 2015. I can honestly say that I don’t feel a year older!

An astrologer once told me that I would never grow old. I didn’t quite understand it back then when I was a 20 something but I do now. I think he was right. I will never grow old on the inside. And I love that.  This year I intend to embrace that.

I often get called a pain in the ass by the people that are close to me, maybe because I still have that childlike passion for things. I’m always on full steam. I think its such a shame that we lose our ability to do things with passion as we grow old. The downside to being like me is being called childish and juvenile but that’s ok! 2015, I intend to love more. Give more. Be myself more.

And that’s where cupcakes come in. Cupcakes is what you serve at a mad hatter’s party when Alice drops by. Cupcakes are what is served at any pixie party going on in your backyard. Cupcakes are so powerful because if they’re good they can alter your day. Cupcakes are never grown up. And I love that!

Now I don’t want to beat my own trumpet, or why the heck not, but these are quite delicious. Enough to make you want to eat at least 5 in one sitting! And my baby girl did! They are light, fluffy, have a secret extra layer of that incredible cinnamon-y goodness…

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

makes 12-14 cupcakes. adapted from here.

1 2/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 egg white
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

for the extra cinnamon layer within!
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar

for the cinnamon sugar frosting
1 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/4 tsps cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsps milk

to prepare
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F.

Mix the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder in a small bowl for the layer inside the cupcake.

Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites till stiff peaks form. While still whisking add the vanilla extract slowly, then the sour cream, the butter, a little at a time and finally the milk. Whisk till smooth.

Add the egg white mix to the flour mix and mix till you get a smooth batter.

Place one tablespoon of the batter into each of your cupcake liner, then sprinkle the cinnamon, cocoa sugar covering the whole surface. Then add another tablespoon of the batter. Sprinkle a teeny bit of the cinnamon cocoa sugar on top. (My cupcake liners were pretty small, if yours are a little bigger you can add another layer.)

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

to prepare the frosting
Whisk the butter till smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Mix in the cinnamon, vanilla extract and milk.

Pour into a piping bag and decorate as you desire. Sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon or cocoa powder.

 

 

 

Walnut Coffee Cake

Happy New Year!

walnut coffee cake

walnut coffee cake

walnut coffee cake

for cake
6 eggs
200 grams sugar
180 grams + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsps cocoa powder
a pinch of salt

for butter cream
175 grams sugar
250 grams butter, at room temperature
5 egg whites
4 tsp instant coffee
120 ml water

200 grams walnuts, roughly chopped
100 grams walnuts kept whole for decoration

to prepare
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.

Whip up the egg yolks with 150 grams sugar till light and fluffy.

Whip the egg whites till stiff and then slowly add 50 grams sugar.

Fold in half of the egg whites, carefully. Then fold in the rest. Sieve the flour and the cocoa with the pinch of salt and carefully fold everything in.

Pour the batter into a prepared tin which has been buttered and floured and bake for 20-25 minutes till golden brown.

Take the cake out of the oven and let cool completely.

For the buttercream
In a pan, on medium heat, cook the water and sugar till the sugar is dissolved. Add the instant coffee and mix well. Set aside.

Meanwhile whip the 3 egg whites till stiff. Slowly add the hot water sugar coffee mixture. Keep whipping till the egg white mix cools down. Then slowly add the butter till your buttercream is completely cooled down.

to put together
Once the cake is completely cooled down, slice into three layers.

Lay one layer down and add 1/3 of the buttercream. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the chopped walnuts. Place another layer on top and repeat. Finish off with covering the entire cake with the buttercream. Decorate with the whole walnuts.

 

Brussel Sprouts and Raspberry Smoothie For Williams-Sonoma Smoothie week

brussel sprouts and raspberry smoothie I boxofspice

brussel sprouts and raspberry smoothie I boxofspice

Everyone knows that if your kid doesn’t eat vegetables or fruits, you hide them in all sorts of creative ways, one of which is popularly done in smoothies. Now, I haven’t had this problem. My child loves fresh, healthy, nutritious food! What? huh? you say… believe me I kid you not. Take her to McDonalds two days in a row and she will complain where her vegetables are. Her favorite vegetable is broccoli for Gods sake!

Now when Williams-Sonoma contacted me to create a smoothie for their smoothie week I was delighted. Its not often that I think of creating smoothies. Though the Persimmon Lassi was refreshing, I wanted to try a vegetable smoothie this time. Clean, energizing, powerful.

The smoothie week by Williams-Sonoma needed me to choose an unusual ingredient. So I did. With glee. Its a super food, hugely popular these days and the one vegetable my daughter refuses to eat. That’s enough for me to at least try and get it in her tummy. And, it worked! I feel like supergirl! :)

I also got lucky because the vegetable of the month at my supermarket happened to be purple brussel sprouts! How cool is that?!

This smoothie has only three main ingredients, but you can (like any smoothie) add whatever fruit or leafy vegetable you feel like. I was nervous trying it but let me tell you this is one smoothie you will be making again and again. It will transform you into Mr. Popeye himself, is pretty enough to serve at Christmas AND, is a meal in itself.

Don’t forget to check out the blenders at William-Sonoma. They are to die for and worth treating yourself to during this festive season.

Enjoy!

brussel sprouts and raspberry smoothie I boxofspice

brussel sprouts and raspberry smoothie I boxofspice

brussel sprouts and raspberry smoothie I boxofspice

makes 4 large servings with pulp or 2 large without

300 grams brussel sprouts
250 grams frozen raspberries
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups water
2 tbsps raw honey

to prepare
Blend all ingredients in a blender or with a hand held blender in a deep bowl. (It might help to shred the brussel sprouts beforehand).

Try not to run the machines too long as you will lose vital nutrients.

I sieved my smoothie (which is done in 2 minutes!), for my daughter but you can go ahead and drink up the pulp too or you could sieve and add a little pulp later. Whatever you fancy!

Serve immediately.

 

 

 

Oliebollen / Dutch Donuts with Saffron and Cardamom

oliebollen I dutch donuts

I was watching television the other day and happened on a show on the Dutch donuts. Now a few years ago I might have laughed at the silliness of it all. But not today. For one food is a cause of joy for me. It has saved me in this strange (but wonderful) foreign land.

All over the country, at this time of the year, oliebollen stands will pop up at every nook and cranny. It is a tradition and a wonderful one and if you have ever been to Holland you will know of it. The show was about judging the quality of the oliebollen sold at these hundreds of stands in Holland. And they took it all so seriously!

It is so important to have that purpose in life, let it be making the best donut if it may. To find that joy in eating one even if you can’t make one. For so long I was in that stride to make some sort of career but after coming here to Holland I was suddenly at crossroads without a choice. Suddenly that purpose or at least the illusion of it was taken away.

I have long sought the meaning of life. Could it be that I am missing life itself as I strive to understand it? My dearest friend warned me of that today. As a woman having grown up in a society that fundamentally sets all sorts of morals only on women, I have also striven to break free of sets of rules that make no sense to me. Yet, I somehow seem to also fall back on them. The constant battle between my heart and mind.

My quest for the meaning of life and my place in it.

As my very favorite author Albert Camus says, “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Till today my happiness has comprised of all those tiny principles I have built up over time and stored so preciously and shielded my heart with. I don’t think I can just shed them away. I don’t even want to. But could it really be as my best friend pointed out that I’m looking at it all wrong? If it really does end one day, is it really smart to let principles win over me?

In my strive for a perfect scenario constructed by me, I have missed not only making but also eating that perfect donut. Lets change that today…

dutch donuts

Some people believe that the oliebollen are the predecessors to the present day donuts. That Dutch settlers left the recipe behind in America and over time it got morphed to what the traditional donut looks like today. I like to believe that story! It has so much romance in it. :)

I of course needed to make it a little Indian. So, I added some saffron and some cardamom to them. They came out delicious!

dutch donuts

makes 20-25 donuts

500 grams all purpose flour
125 grams raisins
1/4 tsp saffron
seeds from 4 cardamom pods, crushed
500 ml buttermilk
14 grams active dry yeast
3 tbsps sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 liter oil, for deep frying

to prepare
In a bowl, soak the raisins in hot water for 15 minutes.

In the meanwhile carefully warm the buttermilk in a non stick pan, till lukewarm. In a small bowl take a tablespoon of the buttermilk and soak the saffron and cardamom for a few minutes.

In a separate bowl mix the yeast and the sugar. Pour the warm buttermilk over and mix.

Sieve the saffron infused buttermilk into the yeast mix.

Sieve the flour over (yet another) bowl. Make a hole in the center of the flour and add the egg and the yeast mix. Add the salt as well. Mix with a wooden ladle, till it all comes together.

Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for an hour.

Heat the oil (on high) in a big pan or wok till it reaches about 180°C. I didn’t use a thermometer but just tested it by dropping a bit of the donut mix. If it sizzles and rises it is ready. Then lower the heat to medium. This way it will keep a steady temperature and not get too hot.

Form a rough ball with a serving spoon and drop into the oil. The dough with puff up and roll around in the oil. A few minutes on each side are plenty. Make sure they are nice and golden brown.

Once done let dry on some paper towels and serve with lots of powdered sugar!