Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Semiya Usli - A Rice Noodle Snack

Time flies. Before I knew it, the lease on my old apartment expired and LWTT and I had decided to move in together. Packing, moving, unpacking, a 3 week trip to India and then finally settling in to our new apartment and more than three months have gone by! Blogging has been at the back of mind through all of this, and today I decided to jump back in!

I had the day off and the apartment all to myself, so perfect for some experimenting in the kitchen I thought. Last month, my parents had visited from India, and had stocked my kitchen with all kinds of stuff. I rummaged through my "pantry" (or one shelf in one of the kitchen cabinets) and saw a packet of semiya (thin rice noodles). I was going make Semiya Usli, a perfect tea time snack! Spicy, salty, crunchy perfect with a cup of steaming hot tea!


1 onion finely chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup of cashew nuts
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
3 or 4 dried curry leaves
3 dried red kashmiri chilies (typically I would use green chilies, but didn't have any)
2 cups semiya
2 to 3 tablespoons of dried coconut (freshly grated coconut is way better if you have it)
Salt and pepper to taste


Boil six cups of water in a pan and then add the semiya, stirring and cooking for 5 to 6 minutes. When cooked, drain water and set aside. Then, heat 1 tablespoon oil in pan and add mustard seeds till they start to splutter. Next add the rest of the oil and the onions. Cook on low till the onions are soft and translucent. Next add the cashews, curry leaves , coconut and chillies and stir together. Stir in the cooked semiya and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy as a tea time or any time snack!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Coffee Walnut Layer Cake

This week, when I came across an article in the New York Times featuring this Coffee Walnut Layer Cake, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would be making and indulging in it over the weekend! Check out the article by Nigella Lawson, she also shares her Banana Chocolate Chip Tea Cake recipe (yes its from Nov. 2004, but new to me!). http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B06E7DF163EF937A15752C1A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=

The cake was moist and delicious, flavors of coffee and walnuts were so great together. I was surprised that with just a tablespoon of instant coffee that the cake actually had a distinct coffee flavor.

I followed the recipe for the cake religiously. I don't have a food processor (yet!), so I used my blender, which was a bit messy, but worked just fine. Plus the batter was yummy too, so I offered LWTT some, even after protests that it contained raw egg and I could get salmonella etc etc I found myself standing over the sink licking my blender clean! I am not a huge fan of frosting, so for the frosting part I halved the sugar and butter and added about two tablespoons of milk. Even with half the amount of frosting, I had plenty for a layer and also to cover the entire cake.

Taco Nights get a Makeover!

One of the first things that LWTT made for me were Tacos, and soon we would have Taco Night every now and then. While the tacos were great, they were usually from a "taco dinner kit" and reading all the unnecessary items on the ingredients list would give me heart palpitations, so I was on the look out for a healthier option.

I found Blue Corn Taco Shells, and was pleased to see that it was made of blue corn flour and canola oil and nothing else! They are made by Garden of Eatin, I have never heard of them, but will keep an eye out from now on.


For the taco filling, I cooked up some ground turkey (about a pound) in about a tablespoon of olive oil with 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic chopped, 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes and seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder, salt and pepper with 1/2 a cup of water. I also added some jalapeno. I usually also add parsley or cilantro, but turned out I bought basil as I was in a rush instead. I also made my quick and simple salsa.


Heat taco shells in the oven for 5 minutes or so to make them crispier. Then fill with turkey, salsa and top with cheese (or not).

We enjoyed the tacos with chips and guacamole and some yummy corn that LWTT simply nuked for about 40 seconds or so, and then went on to claim that he made corn! My supermarket simply did not have good avocados, so I found these packets of avocado pulp instead, and the packaging said that all it contained was avocado, lime juice and cilantro. To the pulp I added some chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapeno, lime juice and salt. In taste, the guacamole was close to what I would have made, had I used real avocados, but in texture a lot smoother than what I like.

Overall a great meal, and from now on some what Healthier Taco Nights!

Monday, June 23, 2008

French Breakfast Puff's for Taste and Create

I made these French Breakfast Puff's (aka Pouf's) for Taste and Create's June Edition. I was paired up with Temperance of High on the Hog, check out her "poufs" here. http://hoghigh.blogspot.com/2008/05/french-breakfast-puffs.html
Also check out For the Love of Food at http://forfood.rezimo.com/?p=626#comments, Nicole is so kind and hosts this fun event!

The poufs came out great, they were fluffy and cakey, but not cake like. They were so easy to make, I will make these again for brunch perhaps when I have friends over. I got 12 out of the batter, with 4 smaller ones. I have devoured three of them already! I am going to force myself to share the rest with co-workers!

I pretty much followed the recipe, except:

1. Used a tablespoon of mayo instead of 1 egg (I thought I had eggs turned out I didn't!)

2. Used butter for the shortening part

3. Used self rising flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder

4. Used the nutmeg

5. Used a tablespoon of water to thin the batter down a bit.

6. Baked in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, till the edges were browned and a knife in the center came out clean.

7. Used a melted tablespoon of butter and poured a bit on each, and then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar (1/2 cinnamon stick ground and mixed with about a tablespoon of sugar).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Indian Alphonso Mangoes

My brother sent me a link to this article mentioning the arrival of Indian Alphonso Mangoes in the US. http://nymag.com/daily/food/2008/06/king_of_all_mangoes_returns_th.html
They were to be available in select Food Emporiums, including one right by me. After dinner, I dragged a curious LWTT and strolled into the Food Emporium by me expecting it to be mobbed by Indians desperate for Alphonso mangoes! But no that is not what I saw. I walked around the fresh produce section, and saw the usual mangoes that you get here. No sign of the Indian Mangoes. I literally scoured the place, and then ...in a basket, with no signage whatsoever, I saw them! They were green and needed to ripen, but each mango was wrapped in white packaging to protect them. I was so ecstatic to find them, and then was also shocked by the price - $4 each! Ahhh... the dilemma! After some soul searching and explaining to LWTT, I picked out 2 and decided to splurge! The lady behind the check out counter reminded me that they were $4 each, I said yes I know, but they are really special and delicious. She laughed at me like I was a fool. She then asked me what was in there, "...gold?". Another woman said "...No, curry!". What a spectacle I was creating. Anyhow, I rushed home with my treasures and nestled them on a nice dish to ripen.

After watching them for about a week, as they were slowly changing color from green to a light yellow, I decided one was ripe and ready to be devoured. I sliced it in the typical way, leaving me with two "cheeks" and the seed in the middle. It smelled divine. I then sunk my teeth in one of the "cheeks" as the juice went running all over my hands, down my wrist, reaching my elbow! Oh I was in heaven, and I tried to savor each bite, reminiscing about my childhood feasting on mangoes every summer, but before I knew it, it was gone! Oh well, I still have one more to enjoy!

And... I peeked into the Food Emporium today and saw Indian Mangoes boldly displayed and were selling 3 for $5! Hmmm... wonder if I will submit myself to this decadence again!

Upma: A quick meal for those hectic days!

We would usually eat Upma at home for breakfast and also for tea. But I made some for dinner. It is quick and simple and you can put in whatever vegetables you have on hand. Upma is made by roasting sooji, which is semolina, although semolina is finer than sooji, which makes this Upma a lot creamier in texture.

My mother makes it with cashew nuts and garnishes with coriander and freshly grated coconut, I didn't have any of those so made a less grand version. It was creamy, spicy and delicious!


1 cup semolina
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water
1/2 an onion chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 tomato finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste


In olive oil saute onions, garlic, tomatoes and peas with spices till well cooked and set aside. Roast semolina in a about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil stirring constantly to not burn for about 10 to 15 minutes. Next stir in onion mixture and stir, pour in water and stir to remove lumps. Season with salt and enjoy warm!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mini Key Lime Pies

Growing up in India, we would eat condensed milk on toast every now and then, and it was such a treat. Condensed milk is sweet, rich and delicious! I bought a can of condensed milk with the intention of eating it with toast or just licking off my fingers, but saw a quick and easy recipe for key lime pie on the can and decided to try it. I also had mini graham cracker pie shells which I used as well. I was going over to a visit a friend, she has a lovely deck (a rarity in New York city) and was going to grill for me, what a treat! I took the mini key lime pies for dessert.

The mini pies were really good. They were cool, tangy, sweet, and with the graham cracker crust even better!


1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of lime juice (about 3 to 4 limes)
1 teaspoon zest of lime
graham cracker mini pie shells (I made 6)
lime slices for garnishing


Mix condensed milk and lime juice till incorporated and then fold in the zest. Pour into pie shells, garnish with lime slices and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. I made them last minute, so chilled in freezer for about an hour and then in fridge till we ate them.