Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chicken Saag

Last night I went to see a collection of short films that were showing as part of the Tribeca film festival. Each film was inspiring in its own way and covered all sorts of topics. Two films especially stood out. One was about difficulties faced by young kids with diabetes in poor countries and a program whereby they are provided with free insulin and education. The other was about a young guy who started a business where he sells shoes and donates a pair of shoes to poor kids for every pair of shoes he sells. In two years he sold 65,000 pairs of shoes and also donated 65,000 pairs of shoes.

Anyhow, the screening started at 7:30pm and I did not have a chance to eat before, so I was starving throughout the films! And so, while the films were playing, my hungry tummy could not help but conjure up images of food! I thought about chicken saag a lot for some reason.

This is how I made it.


3 skinless and boneless chicken breasts washed and chopped into about 1 inch pieces
1 package of chopped frozen picture
1/2 medium size onion chopped finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tomato chopped finely
1 clove garlic chopped finely
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 or 4 cardamom pods
3 or whole cloves
salt and freshly crushed black pepper
1 cup water


Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and fry in 1 tablespoon of oil till the outside is slightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Pour the remaining oil in the pan and on low heat cook onions till translucent. Next add the garlic and ginger paste and stir and cook for a minute or so. Then add chili powder, turmeric and garam masala and cook for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and stir. Next place spinach in the pan and cover with water. Break down the spinach and mix together. Add cloves and cardamom. Then place chicken in pan and mix together with spinach. Season with salt and pepper and then out on high heat for a minute and then simmer with the lid closed for about 10 to 15 minutes or till chicken is fully cooked. Taste and adjust salt accordingly.

I ate this with pita's which I warmed on the stove. Yum!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Arugula Salad

I made this Arugula salad for a quick, light and healthy dinner this Sunday evening. This salad along with some soup was perfect. This salad while it was yummy, I must admit was a bit of a cop out. My mother is visiting and I wanted to impress her, but she is such an amazing cook, I thought I would start with a simple salad and then eventually move on to an actual cooked item!

Mother dearest loved the salad, and I also picked her brains, and now have many ideas and recipes I want to try out, so looking forward to cooking with Ma and sharing!

This is how I made or I should say assembled this salad!

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):

1 package of baby arugula, washed and drained
1 small red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
8 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese
1 green apple, cored, cut in into quarters and thinly sliced
4 tables spoons sliced almonds
4 table spoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Place about 2 to 3 handfuls of arugula on a plate. Form a small circle with the sliced apples, overlapping the pieces of apples. Place a about a tablespoon and a half of the red peppers in the center of the apples. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sliced almonds and about 2 tablespoons of feta cheese on plate. Season with salt and pepper. Pour a table spoon of olive oil slowly trying to cover most of the plate. Serve immediately.

I am sending this to Sweetnicks who hosts ARF/5-a-day every Tuesday. I think its a great way to stay focused on eating healthy. Check out details here.

You can also see the round up here.

Poached Eggs Jazzed up in a Jiffy

It was Sunday morning and I needed to make breakfast quick and without using a gazillion dishes like I usually do! I decided to try poaching eggs, I had tried once before and it was disastrous! I did some research on the Internet and saw that I needed to make the water hotter so the eggs would cook quickly and set instead of feathering out like they had the last time. The poached eggs came out pretty good although I lost a wee bit of the whites.

How I poached my eggs.

I heated water in a pan (about 2 inches of water) till the water was almost boiled (quite a few bubbles had started to form). I cracked an egg in a small bowl and then poured in to the hot water. When the whites were well white! and when the yolk was a light pink color I used a flat slotted spoon to remove the egg carefully. I let the egg drain on the spoon over the sink for a quick minute and then placed on the matza.

This is how I jazzed up my poached eggs in a jiffy!

Ingredients (makes 1 serving):

1 piece of matzo
2 eggs poached
2 tablespoons of your favorite pasta sauce
2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste


Spread pasta sauce on matzo. Place poached eggs on matzo. Sprinkle with cheese and then microwave for 20 to 30 seconds, until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

It was a huge hit and I will definitely make these again. I loved how the matzo was still crisp and that you could lift it up and enjoy crunchy and gooey mouthfuls! Great with a cup of hot steaming coffee!

Matza Meal Pancakes

This week was Passover and so I tried these pancakes for Saturday morning breakfast made with Matzo meal, which is basically whole wheat flour. I saw a bunch of recipes on the Internet and decided to try one. Unfortunately I do not remember the site where I found this recipe!

The pancakes came out surprisingly fluffy and good and they absorbed the maple syrup well. I only wish I had made more of the batter as these went really quick!

Ingredients (makes about 6 to 8 small pancakes):

1/2 cup matzo meal
3 eggs separated
1/2 cup of warm water
A pinch of salt
Butter/oil for frying


Mix matzo meal and salt and place in bowl and mix with water. Beat egg yolks till light yellow. Mix beaten egg yolks with matzo meal, salt and water mixture. Next whisk egg whites till soft peaks form. Fold in egg whites with matzo. The mixture will be lumpy, do not over mix. Fry pancakes for a few minutes per side on high heat till golden brown and cooked on the inside. Serve with maple syrup.

Friday Night Dins:Indian Matza, Aloo Saag and Spicy Potato Fritters

It was Friday evening and I was feeling ambitious. I usually make just one dish and then devour it. But I thought I would make a full meal for a change. I was also craving home cooked Indian food, so with that in mind I set out to cook. I made aloo saag, which is spicy potatoes with spinach, spicy potato fritters and I also tossed some Greek yogurt with chopped cucumbers to cool off with after all the spicy food! I also tried making rotis (Indian flat bread) with matzo meal, and they turned out more like real matzo! I thought I would call them Indian Matzo.

Everything came out surprisingly good! I was hoping the Indian Matzo could have been more uniform shapes, but it turned out to be fun and entertaining to have random shaped pieces instead!

Aloo Saag (Potatoes with Spinach)


1 bag of chopped frozen spinach
1 medium sized red potato chopped into small chunks
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 dried chili
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a sauce pan and cook onions on a low fire till translucent. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Next add turmeric, chili powder and dried chili. Stirring cook for a minute or two. Add potatoes and stir. After a couple of minutes add the frozen spinach and add water. Season with salt and pepper and stir all together. Simmer on slow fire for about 10 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm.

Spicy Potato fritters


3 to 4 Idaho potatoes boiled and peeled
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt to taste
oil for frying


Mash potatoes and mix with turmeric powder, chili powder and salt. Form small balls in your fist and then flatten into patties. Fry for a few minutes per side and serve hot with ketchup or hot sauce.

Indian Matza


1 cup matzo meal
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons yogurt


Place matzo meal in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add water and oil and mix forming dough. Add yogurt and more water and knead dough and then cover with a damp cloth. Form small balls, flatten and then roll out using a rolling pin. I was aiming for square shapes but got a rectangle with feathered edges! Heat pan till hot and place rolled out dough in pan. Let cook for a minute, or till brown spots form on one side and then flip over. Dot with a few drops of oil and then flip over again. Keep in pan till cooked. Serve hot.

Great news! Cooking 4 all Seasons is hosting an event called Roti Mela. Check out details here. I am sending in this post, Indian Matza and also excited to try out some other types of roti.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mango Yogurt Parfait

Have I mentioned that I love mangoes yet! The trouble with mangoes is that I can never usually make anything out of mango, once I smell one and then cut it, that's it, I have to devour it! So when I saw two food blog events that had mango as a theme, I thought I would try something different.

I thought of making something like a shrikand, which is an Indian dessert made out of yogurt and sugar, but it is strained using a cheese cloth to get a rich creamy texture. I was feeling impatient so I used Greek style yogurt instead, and made a parfait using cashew nuts toasted with cardamom and brown sugar for the crunchy part.

I really like how this came out and how it smelled. The cardamom cashew mixture was very aromatic and the saffron in the mango and yogurt gave it that extra something. Next time, I would perhaps use a single layer of plain yogurt to bring out the mango color and make it look more interesting.

Here is how I made it.

Ingredients (makes 1 big serving):

1 ripe mango
1/2 cup of Greek style yogurt (I used fage yogurt - the non fat kind)
3 to 4 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cashew nuts
1 teaspoon butter
a few strands of saffron


Peel and chop mango into small pieces. Put about 2 table spoons of the chopped mango in the freezer, and blend the rest into a puree and set aside. Soak saffron in about a tablespoon of warm water. Peel cardamom and discard shells, grind the seeds into a powder using a mortar and pestle. Mix ground cardamom with brown sugar and set aside. Melt butter in a small pan and toss in chopped cashew nuts, stir to cover cashews with the melted butter. After a minute or so, add the sugar and cardamom mixture and stir to cover cashews, take off heat and let cool. Place yogurt into a bowl and stir using 2 or 3 quick strokes to get a consistent creamy texture. Pour in saffron along with water. Use a spatula to fold in the saffron, when incorporated fold in the pureed mango. Next, layer a tall glass with cardamom cashews, mango saffron yogurt and fresh mango from freezer. If you can resist, refrigerate for a couple of hours before eating. I could not and devoured it right away!

I am sending this post to Chris at Mele Cotte, who is celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Cinco de Mango! Check out details here.
Also check out this site for other mango ideas.

I am also sending this to The Left Over Queen for April's Royal Food Joust where this month's ingredients were, mango, cardamom and brown sugar. Check out details here.

Update: Chris has created quite a buzz with the Cinco de Mango event. Check out the round up and all the great mango ideas!

Cardamom ready for grinding.

Saffron soaking.

Can you see my parfait layers?

Monday, April 21, 2008

LiveSTRONG with Mango and Quinoa Salad

I saw this recipe in a New York Times article (April 16, 2008 in the Dining and Wine section) and could not wait to try it out my way, especially since I like both the key ingredients, quinoa and mango. I was first introduced to Quinoa, about three years ago when I was in Peru. I really liked it and am so happy that quinoa is all the rage now and easily available. Mango, well mango I have loved all my life. Mangoes are a huge part of life in India, and you get many different kinds, each with its own distinct size, flavor and texture. However, I live in New York city so I settled for a Costa Rican mango which was yummy as well!

I am submitting this dish to Winos and Foodies who are hosting LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow - 2008, check it out.

I thought this was a great way to raise awareness and create solidarity for all those affected by cancer in some way or another. This one goes out especially to a family friend who is battling cancer at the moment.

I made a few changes to the orginal recipe. I added more mango than the original recipe asked for and I used dried basil leaves instead of fresh ones. I loved how this came out and I think would be great for a picnic or even a side dish for a barbecue. Yay summer is almost here!

This is how I made this dish.


1/2 cup of quinoa
1 ripe, yet firm mango
1 small jalapeno, finely chopped (I used about a 1 1/2 inch piece of the pepper you see in the picture. Not sure what kind it is but it was pretty hot!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly crushed black pepper
juice of half a lime
a hand full of cilantro finely chopped.
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves


Rinse quinoa 3 or 4 times, this apparently gets the bitterness out. Cook quinoa in about 3 cups of water (less if you want it crunchy) and then cool for 5 minutes. While quinoa is cooling, peel and chop mango into smallish chunks. Toss mango with olive oil, lime juice and jalapeno. Next mix in the quinoa, season with salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning according to taste. Add in cilantro and mix. Serve at room temperature.

Mini Matza Pizza for March of Dimes

I was introduced to Matza about a year ago. Matza is easily available in New York city and especially during the week of Passover. Matza is basically unleavened bread. I love the shape and look of a whole Matza. They are so precisely square. I also like the crunch you get when you bite into a piece.

A Mini Matza pizza takes about 5 minutes to make, 7 minutes if you have an unopened box of Matza! I am submitting this to Holly at Holly is increasing awareness about March of Dimes through this event. March of Dimes focuses on stuff affecting babies. I love babies, and my sister just had a baby, so I liked the idea of the event.

Check out all the other entries for this event at Holly has done a lovely round-up of all the entries.

This is how I made this yummy and easy snack.

Ingredients (for each mini pizza):

1 piece of Matza broken into 4 some what equal pieces
A tablespoon of your favorite pasta sauce
A tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese


Spread sauce on Matza, sprinkle with cheese, microwave for about 10 seconds or until cheese melts. Serve immediately, keep making more till you are satisfied!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Licuados and Lake Atitlan

CLICK: Papaya

I am sending my photo of fresh and yummy papaya to "CLICK: the photo event". Check out details here. April's theme is CLICK: Au Naturel.

I tasted my first Licuados when I was in Guatemala and spent about a week by Lake Atitlan. In general I love smoothies and milkshakes, but am always wary about the ingredients and yes the calories too! So when the waiter explained that I could have a Licuados and that it would be just fruit and ice blended into icy peaks, I was sold, doesn't get any better than that! Plus you could pick from yummy fruits like, papaya and water melon.

Lake Atitlan is about a 3 hour drive from Guatemala City airport and then depending on which town along the Lake you stay at is another 15 to 20 minute lancha (boat) ride. Getting there is quite an experience, and the views are fabulous as the lake is surrounded by three volcanoes. It is a fresh water lake, and great for swimming and kayaking too. It is one of the most serene places I have been to, and hope to go back soon. In the mean time, I will be enjoying icy mouthfuls of papaya licuados imagining those lake views in front of me!

I also have to share an aside if you will about papayas. I grew up in India and spent a lot of time with my grandparents in Bangalore, who grew all kinds of stuff in their "kitchen garden". They had a papaya tree as well, and back then had to force my sister and me to eat some for breakfast. We would whinge and whine as my grandfather goaded us on and explained the nutritional benefits of this fruit we loathed. Well, I now love papayas, and I'm still trying to figure out when the shift happened!

Anyhow, this is how I made this delicious treat.


1/2 a papaya

juice of 1/2 a lime

about a cup or more of ice


Remove seeds from papaya using a spoon. Cut papaya into manageable slices and then slice the skin off carefully and dice into chunks. Blend, ice, papaya chunks and lime juice till smooth but still icy. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy icy spoonfuls! This probably makes two servings, but I had no problem finishing it just by myself in one sitting!

Views of Lake Atitlan and the three volcanoes

Volcano Fuego smoking in the background as the sun is about to rise.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spicy Mushroom and Green Pepper Pie

This dish was inspired by a food blog event I came across called Left over Tuesdays. I usually struggle with left overs, they slowly rot in my fridge and I feel awful when I have to throw food out. So this seemed like a good opportunity to try to make use of them. I had, half a green pepper, some mushrooms, some shredded cheese, milk and a pie crust. So I thought may be a quiche would work. I did some research and and figured I could pull this off. Although with ingredients like mushrooms, green peppers and cheese how could I go wrong ! My living room cum kitchen smelled so good when the pie was baking in the oven. The mushrooms and red peppers mmmm.... could not wait to eat my creation.

It turned out surprisingly good. I like to call it a pie because unlike a quiche it was a bit mushy, I guess this could be because I used skim milk instead of whole milk? Anyway I was glad I used up my leftovers!


1/2 a large green pepper diced
About a cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup skim milk
About a cup of shredded cheese
3 eggs
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Mrs Dash Italian seasoning
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon olive oil


Heat oil in frying pan and add mushrooms. Cook on low heat till mushrooms are soft and fragrant. Add green pepper and stir. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Take off heat. I like my green peppers crunchy so I just barely cooked them. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk eggs and add Italian seasoning, stir in milk till mixture is uniform. Grease a pie dish and place pie crust in and flute edges. Spoon mushroom and green pepper mixture in to pie dish. Pour any excess liquid from mushroom and green pepper mixture into milk and egg mixture and stir till incorporated. Sprinkle cheese on mushroom and green pepper mixture. Pour egg and milk mixture over cheese. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or so. Cool for about 10 minutes, slice and enjoy!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Corn bread and Turkey Chilli Bake

This is my adaptation of Whole Foods Easy Tamale Casserole recipe that my sister had tried out recently. She had made a vegetarian version, and I thought I would try it using ground turkey. I love chili and corn bread so to make them both in one dish sounded almost too good to be true!

While this turned out good, I think the cornbread layer might have been too thick. If I had a bigger baking dish I would have used that and it might have worked out better. Although I had some of the chili left after I transferred it to the baking dish and continued to let that simmer on a low flame, which then turned out more sauce like and tasted great with the corn bread and turkey chili bake.


For the Turkey Chili.

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 onion chopped finely
1 can red kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 a jalapeno pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic chopped finely

1 smallish green pepper chopped into small pieces

For the corn bread.

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup milk
1 egg beaten


For the corn bread topping.

I used stoned ground yellow cornmeal and used the recipe the package had for cornbread.

Combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cut in softened butter. Whisk egg and milk together and add to dry ingredients. Mix together using a few swift strokes.

For the Turkey chili.

Heat oil in deep pan and onions and cook till translucent on a low fire. Add garlic and cook stirring for about a minute. Next add chili powder and cook for another minute. Add ground turkey, using a masher break down turkey as it cooks. When turkey is slightly browned or whitish in color, add red kidney beans and diced tomatoes and jalapeno. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Use the masher to meld all the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then to a simmer. Add green pepper and continue to simmer, covering with a lid. Let simmer for atleast 10 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Scooping more solid than liquid, transfer turkey chili to a baking dish to fill about 1/2 an inch of the dish and let cool for a few minutes. Add corn bread mixture carefully spreading to cover the top. Bake in oven at 35o degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes, till top of cornbread is slightly browned and chili is bubbling below. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Corn bread and turkey chili baking in the oven.

Was that seconds or thirds?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Simple Salsa with Sunchips

It had cleared up in the afternoon I went for a run by the East River. As usual I was struggling. Like running, food blogging is still new to me, so I used it as a distraction when I was running. Instead of focusing on how I just wanted to walk, I thought about all the recipes I wanted to try out and all the stories I wanted to write about and it made my run go by a lot quicker.

Back at my apartment, as an after run snack I made some salsa which took about five minutes, maybe seven at the most!

This salsa tastes great with Sunchips, well at least to me!


1/2 a small onion
1 tomato
1/2 a lime
Handful of parsley
Salt and freshly crushed pepper


Chop onion and tomato into small pieces and place in bowl. Squeeze juice of half a lime on onion and tomato. Wash parsley and chop finely and add to bowl. Sprinkle with salt and freshly crushed pepper. Now the important part. Use your hand to grab fistfuls of the mixture and squeeze. Do this about 3 to 4 times. Taste and adjust salt pepper and lime accordingly. Serve with chips.

Banana Stuffed French Toast

I love weekends and weekend breakfasts. I take time to grind some coffee beans and use my french press, and try and make something yummy to go along with my delicious cup of coffee. This weekend I made Banana Stuffed French Toast. I had only made a quick french toast before with no overnight soaking required, so I thought this weekend I would it take it one level up! I found various recipes for stuffed french toast, but adapted the one I found on Real Simple's website. The recipe asked for the stuffed bread to be soaked in the egg and milk mixture overnight, so I did that on Friday with plans to make it for Saturday morning. But I got a last minute call from a friend I had not seen in a while to have brunch on Saturday morning, so I left the stuffed bread to soak for another day and night, and was a bit wary as how to they would taste on Sunday morning. They came out great, and were moist and tasty. I ate them with maple syrup and fresh fruit.

I am new to the blogging world, and came across "Weekend Breakfast Blogging" hosted by Saffron Trail. So I am submitting this post. Here is the link.


Half a loaf of Italian bread (I used a semolina loaf)
1 and 1/2 bananas
Juice of half a lime
1 cup skim milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter for frying


Mash bananas and mix with lime juice. Cut bread into thickish slices, I got five slices. Cut a slit in the side of each slice and stuff with banana mixture, try and get as much as you can in. I managed to squeeze in about 2 teaspoons. For the end piece cut a slit in the soft part of the bread and stuff with banana mixture. Whisk eggs and add milk and vanilla extract and mix well. Pour egg and milk mixture into a dish and place stuffed bread slices. Turn over the bread slices after five minutes or so, and then cover tightly and store in fridge overnight.

Next morning, take out stuffed bread and leave out for about 10 to 15 minutes to come close to room temperature. Heat butter in a frying pan, and when warmed add the stuffed bread slices. They will be mushy, so you may need to use both hands to make sure they don't break. Pour any excess liquid over stuffed bread. After 1 day and 2 nights of soaking I did not have any! Cook on each side till golden brown and when pressed no liquid seeps through. Serve hot with maple syrup and fresh fruit.

The Dhokla Demystified

Last night for some reason I got the urge to clean out my spice cupboard, which is very tiny and about two shelves in my kitchen cabinet. I took everything out and found a packet of instant Dhokla mix, well it was expired, but I thought I would still try it out!

The instructions seemed simple enough. I had to mix it with water and oil and it was ready to bake. The mixture started to form bubbles which I guess is the reaction of the baking soda. Dhokla's need to be steamed and I do not have a steamer so I steam baked mine. I used my baking tray, which is about 1/2 an inch deep and filled it with water and then placed my square Pyrex dish on it carefully. Remember to grease the dish you are using or else the Dhokla's I imagine will stick to the dish. I left it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes I think.

I am so paranoid and curious at the same time, I kept peaking in to see what was going on. When I thought they looked ready, I stuck a chopstick in and it came out clean. I put the oven off, took the Pyrex dish out and left the baking tray with the water in the oven to cool, making a mental note to take it out later. I then made the topping, but before I could get there, I had to have a taste, that is why a small piece in the bottom left corner is missing! It was surprisingly good, and would taste even better with the topping.

Dhokla's are the perfect snack, but they became dinner for me! Dhokla's are a delicacy that orginated in the State of Gujurat in India, and they are gaining popularity in the rest of the country. My best memory of Dhokla is from small shop in Flushing, Queens. The shop sells all kinds of Indian snacks and sweets. Their Dhokla's were especially good. Dhokla's are made out of chickpea flour, semolina, spices and the mixture has to be fermented, to get that spongy light fluffy texture. One of these days I will try making them from scratch! But atleast I got to make my own customized topping. With the topping it tasted tangy and fluffy and just good!

Ingredients for topping:
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 dried chili
juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon chili powder
handful of parsley.

Heat oil in a frying pan, add mustard seeds and dried chili cut in half. When the mustard seeds start to pop, take the pan of the fire and stir. Pour evenly on Dhokla tray. Sprinkle chili powder on Dhokla tray. Squeeze juice of lime over Dhokla tray. Garnish with chopped parsley.

First Date and Almond Samosas

The idea for Date and Almond Samosas came to me after I saw a posting on the Real Simple website.

Real Simple had a recipe for making the regular kind of samosas usually with a potato filling using refrigerated pie crust. So I was contemplating all kinds of alternative fillings. I love dates, the eating variety and other kind! I usually have a little jar of dates on my kitchen counter that I snack on when I have a sweet craving. I am new to the blogging world as well, and came across Sugar High Friday's Asian Sweet Invasion. So the idea for Date and Almond Samosas were born when trying to come up with an idea for a sweet with an Asian Twist as well as my love for Samosas! I will be submitting my creation and am excited to see what happens as this is a first for me... it's ummm... like a first date!

Here is a link to April's Sugar High Friday theme.

The Date and Almond Samosas tasted great I thought. The crust was a bit salty, and then when you bite into the date and almond filling, its sweet and crunchy and salty all at the same time. When I was taking this picture I wanted one with the filling showing, so I bit into one and then kept eating till there was just a tiny piece left! I can't wait to experiment with other tasty fillings.


Refrigerated pie crust
1/2 cup peeled and chopped dates
1/4 cup sliced almonds


In a bowl mix dates and almonds so that almonds are incorporated into the dates. Preheat oven to 400 degree. Unfold pie crust slowly as not to tear. Cut in half, then into fours, and then eight triangular pieces. Scoop about 2 teaspoons of the date mixture onto a triangular piece of dough using two spoons to make a ball. Fold up two corners and join the dough by pinching. Fold the other edge and join as well. Complete this process for all eight triangular pieces. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place samosas on baking tray and bake in oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or till samosas are light brown in color. Cool Date and Almond Samosas for 10 minutes and serve warm.

Pie crust cut into eight triangular pieces.

Filling the dough with date and almond mixture

Ready for the oven.

Tzatziki Efharisto!

I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks in Greece last summer. Summer in Greece is a great time to visit especially as the sun sets around 8:15ish and so you still have some sunshine when you leave work! When I was in Athens I enjoyed strolling through Plaka and then would pick a random little family restaurant to feast at. A couple of restaurants that I frequented usually served a few standard dishes which they brought out for me to have a look at before I ordered. One of my many favorites was Tzatziki, a yogurt and cucumber dip with lots of garlic. The yogurt though is what makes it so delicious, it is creamy and rich. You can get this consistency with regular yogurt sold in the US when it is strained through a cheese cloth. Luckily for me I found some Greek style yogurt in the supermarket. Plus I had read that one of yogurt's many health benefits is that its is cooling and helps the body deal with hot environments. Since I knew the basic ingredients in Tzatziki I gave it a go. It came out pretty good, and now seems to be staple especially in the summer time.

Ruins of one of the many buildings at the Acropolis.

1 cup of Greek style yogurt
2 or 3 cloves of garlic (more or less depending on taste)
1 Cucumber
Half a fresh lime or lemon
Olive oil
Salt and sugar
Dill for garnishing


Chop garlic into small pieces and set aside. Chop cucumber into small rectangular sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Scoop Greek style yogurt into serving bowl and run a fork through it a couple of times for the creamy consistency. Stir in garlic and and cucumber. Add juice of lemon and about a tablespoon of olive and stir. Taste and adjust salt and pepper accordingly. Garnish with chopped dill. Serve Tzatziki with warmed pita bread. Enjoy!

Views of Mount Lycabettus and Athens from the Acropolis.

Views of the Temple Olympian Zeus from the Acropolis.

Views f
rom the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.

Enjoying one last swim on the coast of Athens at past 8:15pm!

Piccarones a Peruvian Treat

Peru happens to be one of my favorite countries. It has such varied terrain, including lakes, mountains, rain forests and delicious food! One memory that especially stands out is my visit to Lake Titicaca and an overnight stay on the island of Amantani. Since our next stop after Lake Titicaca was going to be the four day Inca trail, our guide made sure we got in some walks on Amantani island that would help us acclimatize to the high altitude.

Soon after we landed on the island by boat after visiting Taquile island, we were greeted by our "Mum" who was hosting us on the island. Our 'Mum' showed us our room and after we had settled in and freshened up, we met our guide. We then began a short hike up to Pachatata which was one of the two highest peaks on the island. Pachamama was the other highest peak. Pachatata means Father Earth and Pachamama means Mother Earth and each of the sites have temple ruins that can be viewed. While it was a short walk up, we were breathless because of the high altitude.

Close to the top, we were delighted to be treated to Piccarones! Piccarones look like donuts, but are made with pumpkin and served with a bitter sweet syrup. This made for a delicious snack along with some Cocoa tea which is known to help with altitude sickness. In addition, the 360 degree views we were rewarded with were amazing. This was something I wanted imprinted in my permanent memory.

In Cuzco, I managed to buy a box of Piccarones mix, which also included the syrup. Back home, one lazy Sunday afternoon I followed the instructions on the box and made this lovely treat. I then started looking up recipes to try and recreate the Piccarone. Here is a link to a recipe I found. I am hoping to try it out soon and will be sure to report back!


1/2 cup pumpkin cooked and strained
1/4 cup water in which the pumpkin was cooked
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
Frying Oil


In a beater mix the pumpkin puree gradually adding the milk. Then add the flour and cornstarch beating constantly. Add the yeast (Which has previously been dissolved in the hot pumpkin water with the sugar). Mix to a smooth paste and place in a bowl. Heat the oven to 300 F. and place the bowl inside the oven for a minute. Turn the oven off and leave the dough inside the oven for 45 minutes giving time to raise. In a large skillet or deep frying pan add plenty of oil to heat. Dip the fingers into the mixture and drop it into the hot oil trying to shape them as a doughnut. Fry until golden and well puffed up. Serve with a syrup made of sugar loaf, orange peels and cinnamon sticks.

Approaching Pachatata

Piccarones being made on an outdoor stove.

Views of Lake Titicaca from our Mum's house.

Presto its Pesto!

It was another cold and rainy winter evening after work and all I wanted to do was to be outside where the sun was shining and have a picnic! Then I started envisioning what would be included in my picnic lunch. Bread and cheese of course, perhaps a pasta salad with possibly a pesto sauce? Mmmmm... I could now taste the pesto, I frantically did some googling to get some recipes and made a quick trip to the supermarket close by. Most of the pesto recipes I came across required pine nuts and I didn't have any and could note seem to find any in a rush. But I have Almond Butter which is divine on bread with jam. So I thought replace pine nuts with almonds... and soon started on my adventure creating Pesto my way!

Rhode Island where I might have had my imaginary picnic!


3 or 4 cloves garlic (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
1 bunch of basil (about a cup, once washed and chopped)
Olive oil (a few tablespoons)
1/4 cup almond butter (more or less depending on the consistency you want)
Grated Parmesan cheese (a few tablespoons)
Salt and freshly crushed black pepper


Chop garlic into smallish pieces. Wash basil leaves and coarsely chop. Put garlic and basil into a blender and give it a few pulses. Season with salt and pepper. Add almond butter and Parmesan cheese and give it one or two pulses. Next through the small opening of the blender pour the olive oil in a slow steady stream as the blender is on low to medium speed. Do not pour all the olive oil in at once. Taste and adjust seasoning. Please note that this was an experiment so the quantities for the ingredients I have listed are approximate!

I enjoyed my pesto sauce with whole wheat linguine pasta. The pesto sauce seemed to coat each string of pasta. It was delicious. When I serve this to friends, I will probably add some cherry tomatoes sliced in half for color. I think a crisp white wine would go well as well. I also used the leftover pesto sauce the next day as a spread on bread for a quick cheese sandwich.

Morroccan Nights

A couple of years ago I went on a trip to Morocco with a group and our main objective was to climb Mount Toubkal. It took us about 5 or days of trekking through Berber villages before we reached the top (see pictures below). We enjoyed beautiful scenery each day as well as a great sense of fulfillment having reached the summit. We were lucky to have a cook accompany us, and he and his team prepared healthy yet delicious meals for us every day. It was during the month of Ramadan and the cook would prepare all the meals without even tasting them! I especially remember the tagines we would feast on almost every night. I wish I would have asked for recipes before I left, but thank goodness for the Internet! After some research, I was able to find recipes and a real tagine as well.

My tagines! The one on the left I got on and the supplier was Casablanca Market. I used the one on the right for this recipe.

The tagine I used for this recipe was my first tagine and I bought at Sur La Table - its a medium size tagine and serves 3 very hungry people, or else 4 pretty substantially. I love making tagine, because after all the prep and once everything is in the tagine, you just wait patiently as the delicious aromas fill the air! In addition to the yummy tagine and couscous I also subject my friends to Moroccan CD's that I picked up when I was in Marrakesh. All of this and a bottle of red wine and I am transported right back to those magical Moroccan nights!

I googled and found several recipes for making tagine, but the one that I tried and adapted was Bobby Flay's tagine recipe from foodnetwork.

4 smallish chicken thighs with bone (skinless and boneless work as well)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoons chilli powder (more or less according to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
A few strands of saffron soaked in 1/4 cup luke warm water for about 10 minutes
1/2 cup of dried apricots cut in half
handful of parsley or cilantro finely chopped
salt and freshly crushed black pepper

Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper evenly on both sides and set aside. Next, dice garlic and onion finely, but keep separately. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and pan fry chicken thighs skin side first for a couple of minutes per side till golden brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Lower the heat on pan to low to cook the onions. Cook onions till translucent (do not let them brown) stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for a minute or two. Next add the turmeric and chilli powder and cook for a few more minutes. Turn the heat off and put the tagine on low heat on stove. Add the cooked onion mixture to the tagine. Add the can of diced tomatoes, soaked saffron with the water and stir together. Next add, the cinnamon stick, and canned chickpeas (washed and drained) and apricots and stir together. Nestle the chicken pieces in the tagine, making sure they are covered and also not touching the bottom of the tagine. Increase heat to medium until you see bubbles in the liquid. Next add the tagine lid and lower heat to simmer. Leave on low heat for at least 45 minutes or till ready to eat (not longer than about 1 1/2 hours). Garnish with parsley and serve with couscous. Enjoy!

My first tagine.

Enjoying a lovely picnic lunch while our colorfully dressed donkeys take a rest.

A small town where we enjoyed tagine under the stars while being entertained with traditional berber folk songs being sung by our cook and his team.

Views of the Atlas mountains from the top of Mount Toubkal