Sundried Tomato Hummus

The mission: empty out the pantry.  The challenge: don’t buy anything else to fuel the possible recipes gallivanting through your head. The struggle: but what the hecks do I do with cream of wheat, curry leaves, and light brown sugar? (answer: nothing… yet).

While certain combinations won’t see the light of existence, some other medleys worked out far better. Although every minute that I spend inside my apartment is overlaid with the mantra, I need to pack I need to pack I MUST NEEDS PACK, I find myself cooking instead.  Call it stress relief. Or denial.  Whatever. I need to get rid of my groceries too, okay? (technically it’s not that big of a deal, as we are moving into his sister’s place close by first, and then the ALL IMPORTANT MYSTERIOUS SHIFT SHALL OCCUR IN THE MIDST OF RAMADAN AND FASTING. Nevertheless, would rather clear it all out now.) Continue reading

A Corny Bean Mash

20120423-203856.jpgSometimes I just don’t want to cook. Except I also don’t want to eat outside, nor do I crave take-out or prepackaged stuff. Yes I’m spoiled, I like homemade food. It’s just unfortunate that it’s my home and the husband, while an amazing cook and spice master extraordinaire, hasn’t really made the kitchen his full-time home. More like a timeshare.

In instances like this, simple mash ups are my best friend. Like tonight: I had a nice fajita style medley of peppers sauteed the night before, along with some other goodies, but I needed something with oomph to knock it out of the park and really fill us up. So you play with what’s on hand: corn and beans. Continue reading

Baked Broccoli Crisps

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Another quick treat for you, for those days you want to pretend you are cooking and still come out with something exquisite. This recipe is part of my unofficial series of ‘no work, just bake’ recipes, wherein I literally toss random spices together to zest up a vegetable and let the oven do the work. What? Have I never shared my fall back recipes with you? Sumptuous cauliflower? Melty garlic? Succulent brussel sprouts? Yes indeed, brussel sprouts are actually in my top 5 list here folks, completely eradicating years of conditioning hearing young ignorant children harp on their fear and loathing of the cute little cabbage thingies.

Anyway, for today’s special, we are offering baked broccoli to a crisp, utterly divine and un-broccoli-ish by the end of it all. I had to do something as my sister in law gave us a beautiful bunch of fresh broccoli, but the challenge fell on the fact that the husband more or less can’t stand it most times. Great. Baked it is then!

Ingredients

  • one large bunch of broccoli florets, stemmed and chopped in half if needed (don’t want them to be too large)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Amazing curry powder husband made (Roasted coriander, curry leaves, a little cumin and lord knows what else)
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp Red chili powder if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease it with olive oil. Rinse the broccoli (goes without saying, right?) and drizzle some olive oil until the are fairly coated. Then add the curry powder. Now I used some crazy concoction the husband made, and once I know what it is I will share with you. But you can use a standard curry powder, or just some coriander and cumin powders. Better yet, experiment with flavors. I didn’t use any garlic for example, but you might.

Anyhoo, lightly sprinkle with salt and add the chili powder if you like. Spread on the baking sheet (i sprinkled a little more salt for good measure because I’m notorious for never putting enough to be honest, although I like it that way. Its a touchy subject in this household. Some people tend to overdo it. Just sayin’.

Loosely cover the pan with foil and bake for about 20 min. Once the broccoli have darkened considerably and have a lovely crisp, you’re done. Remove and eat quickly before the husband nabs it and eats the whole bowl. Fatty, Yeesh.

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Spicy Baked Okra

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Quick treat for you: spicy baked okra!
A simple treat that is sure to convince even the okra-fearful that their sticky uncooked traits are always short lived. These delectable crunchies are the perfect complement to a night filled with daal and rice (kichdi), paneer and raita… Or with anything. I’m just trying to make you envision my dinner. And then salivate.

In a large bowl mix in 2 tbsp olive oil with:

  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste, each
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp chaat masala (found in indian groceries. Barring that, use some clove powder, black pepper, and dried mango powder)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp of gram flour (besan)
  • fresh squeeze of lime, or a drizzle of lime juice

Mix it up and adjust the olive oil, lemon juice and besan to reach a desired pasty consistency ( not too runny, should be thick) and also adjust the seasonings as you wish for taste.

Take a pound or so of fresh okra, slice off the tops and ends and then slice lengthwise in quarters, making long strips rather than the typical circles.

Mix into the paste vigorously, trying to coat every piece with some masala. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees but first quickly pan fry the okra in 1 tbsp extra light olive oil on medium/high heat. I did this just to rid the okra of any major stickiness, for no more than 2 minutes. The okra will gently brown, after which immediately spread it on a baking pan (carefully, it’s hot!) and bake for 20-25 minutes. Check occasionally and lightly mix it once or twice for even baking.

Remove and crunch away with yogurt! Enjoy!

French Onion Eggplant

Does this happen to you? Do you stare into the fridge thinking you’ll make some simply fun dish—Spanish rice maybe, or shrimp curry, maybe a sweet and spicy dressing for salad even—only to discover one key ingredient is missing? Just one! Not even two or three, but the one single item that means everything. You figure, Ok fine! I’ll just run to the store get that single item (and maybe a few other things, since of course I’m making the trip). And just as it happened before and will happen for the rest of time, you walk into the market with 4 things in mind and walk out with 40. There must be some law of physics for this type of phenomenon. You may happily name it after me, if you so choose, as I’ve lived it for years now.

I’m trying to rein in my spending habits, though I’m no frenzied shopper to be sure. I don’t care about shoes, I don’t get carried away with clothes, I have a decent amount of self discipline with accessories. I’m working on the books addiction I have, but aside from that I’m a good girl. Except for food. New spices, fresh veggies, yummy breads breads breads galore! I love food! But like I said, trying to quell the spending. We needs to be savin’ some money yo, we gots plans, big plans! If such plans come to fruition, then you get to hear about it. For now, we continue to dream our illustrious dreams (I mean, this is Coriander Dreams, so that’s fitting). Continue reading

Gluten Free Chocolate Yogurt Cake

Yogurt gluten free cakeOut the window burns a luminous horizon, burgeoning with new opportunities on the brink of fruition. Which will evaporate and which will blossom in my grasp, I cannot say, but it’s exciting all the same. Among the not-so-likely is my upcoming trip to India with the husband, contingent upon a travel visa the country does not seem to want to grant me. I will not dwell on it, despite the fact that I’m supposed to be going in less than a month. POSITIVITY! Thy name is ALYA!

Right.

Among the more promising excursions into the promised land of the future is my newest endeavor with a local writing group sponsored by our library system. If you know me, you know I would do anything to avoid spotlight on most things, most notably direct attention upon me and my most personal ambition of becoming a novelist. But the husband dragged me kicking and screaming and heart palpitating and hyperventilating I went all the same, and it turned out to be fruitful, full of supportive people of all ages, not any of whom were likely to eat me alive with their carnivorous wit and bloodthirsty critiques.

Another promising activity was my first endeavor into the realm of gluten free experimentation! I honestly have no idea what to do with the flour; I read briefly the additional ingredients one usually needs to really lift up the dough so it isn’t dense or grainy, but… I’m not one for buying too many things unnecessarily that I won’t likely use much at all. I prefer to try out with what I have and then see from there. I had actually bought the gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill variety) because I’ve come to know a few people who either prefer it for personal reasons, or actually have wheat allergies, so this has been on my mind as a possibility for baking.

Continue reading

Beet-iful Rice

beets and riceA few nights ago I got the amazingly inspired idea to use this burns-like-sweet-smokin’-sunburn jalapeno plum jam I can’t dream of finishing ever (it’s soooo good!) as part of a chicken marinade. Well, I wanted to use it for shrimp, but I had chicken so I tried it out. Melted the jam, added lemon juice, salt, some more red chili powder, garlic etc. Smelled amazing. Let it sit a few hours. Busted it out. Roasted a few samples in the oven and sautéed a couple as well (no learning without experimentation) and I discovered… It sucked. Completely.

So I tried to salvage this by making an asian-inspired curry blend of peppers and… it became passable. But I have since learned that the jam shall remain on the breads, crackers, and the like. Or possibly used for grilling one day. I don’t quite throw in the towel do I?

Thankfully this post is not about that. It was not a pleasure to make, and thus shall be shoved into the recycling bin of recipes. However, I was already in a less-than-chipper mood that day, because neither my sweet and sugary coconut sugar cookies nor a delightful batch of tomato-soup-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting won in a baking competition at work. Granted, I was unaware that half the points garnered came from DECORATING THE STATION. *Deep Breath* Not going to relive that stupidity, because honestly… no big deal. But your mood transfers into everything else you do, be it motivational speaking, darning a sweater, or cooking a meal.

Tonight I was in a much more inspired mood. Mostly I just wanted to overcome the previous cooking debacle and reign supreme once more… in my head. But we have a whole stash of beets in our fridge currently. Random yes, but the husband made this delicious beyond my wildest imagination sabzi (vegetable dish) of beets and carrots, South Indian style, so now I keep them stocked because he must make that for me at least once a week. And thus, seeing the carrots, thinking about the various ways to make the husband actually eat a variety of vegetables, and wanting to create my own dish, I concocted Beet-iful Rice! Or more plainly, Garlic Rice with Beets, Carrots, and Zucchini. Continue reading