Zucchini Tofu Wraps

It lies in wait. The hunger, the ferocity.  Burrowing further into my core, sinking but a flashing beacon, only growing, only stronger, the longer it must abide the passage of time.

Thaaaaaat’s how I feel.  The hunger to create. To write. To read. To share.  Pulsating, chiming stringent chords, repeated reminders that the best is yet to come. Yet to come. Yet to come…

I went to California this weekend, and my reasons were three fold.  First, tremendous huzzahs to my dear friend Waheeda and her newly wedded bliss! Second, how does one venture to the motherland without visiting… her mother… and the rest of the family? if only for a day.  Three, to acquaint myself with the general hubbub, surroundings, goings on and climate (both physical and theoretical) of the San Diego region, a locality only once ever equated with “Sea World” and “Wild Animal Park” and even “Raving Seals ans the loonies who swim with them in La Jolla”.  Whilst these are brilliant facets which make the soul of SD glow like a Columbian summer firefly, I need to delve further because I can’t really live with animals. 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

SerenDIPity!

I went to a local market and came across a delectable loaf of fluffy garlic-infused bread (not to be confused with buttery cheesy greasy garlic bread) and thought to myself, what oh what oh whaaaat can I do with this? I could make paninis, or serve it up with a nice omelet. Maybe make bruschetta or another delectable hors d’oeuvre… Hmm. I had been having a strange hankering lately. My funky little taste buds have been dreaming up dips, yes dips, of all things, ever since I made those fusion wraps. I had used a store-bought pepper eggplant dip, and wanted to make my own for a long while. Unfortunately I couldn’t find eggplant that day for some reason. No matter, we improvise!

And so I decided to try something fresh and new, with bell peppers and zucchini, as well as some guacamole and simple lime-zesty chicken. It turned out to be a light, bright, and dipped up delight of a night! And by slicing the bread very thin, I could toast them lightly in the oven drizzled with olive oil and serve them up as the perfect dipper. We had lots of fun that night, to be sure. Continue reading

Alya discovers Fennel

Here’s a quick post, because I’m trying to get a few things in order today, from the mundane (laundry) to the … less mundane (hitting the library to return some things). Ah but I’m also working on my next major novel feast, so that’s going to take a little creativity. I’m looking forward to this one actually. By the way, Ulysses by James Joyce is not the ideal book to choose to base a dinner on. If you’ve read it, you’ll know why. Suffice it to say I’m not going to be using the book, although it has been an enormous challenge, and I still plan to finish it.

Anyhoo, the title of this post gives it all away, so let’s get to it. I discovered
fennel! Not the seed, which is a common Pakistani/Indian after dinner refresher, especially in a mix with coconut shreds and sugar etc. But no, I speak not of this, I speak of the actual plant, the bulb, the big ol’ part-cabbage-part-onion-looking vegetable that shares none of the taste of either. I have come across recipes in recent past utilizing the plant, but I never saw it anywhere… until a few days ago, when I randomly noticed it at Trader Joes, and then I just had to try it out. Considering I had no clue what to do, I just kept it simple this time around. It didn’t turn out perfect, but I was pleasantly surprised that the husband enjoyed it, and we’ll be experimenting with it later… I already have plans. Sordid plans for the unassuming round bugger.
Continue reading

Loki or Pakistani Zucchini

The master and student sat in meditation beneath an aged oak tree hidden miles deep within an open field of waving grass. The young student marveled at the great length of sky, seeing it for the first time from edge to further edge, and turned to his teacher.

“We are so far from home.  It took weeks to come here, and will take days just to reach the nearest village…”

“Is that a question?” the master calmly spoke, as if remarking about the number of leaves on the closest branch.

“…I was only wondering, sir, do you not miss home? The comforts of your own bed, your family, looking forward to a warm meal? I’m afraid to admit I long for it so much.”  The student nearly dropped his eyes at this last, and the master took notice.  He sighed.

“Continue your meditations, so you may learn to let go of what was and what could be.”  The student nodded in compliance and shifted his back against the tree, the tiniest of grimaces not escaping the master, who lay a hand on the wrinkled bark.  “Does this ancient skin repulse you?  Don’t be fooled to look only for comforts in the obvious.  Consider how the shade protects you from the sun.  Consider how the branches nest homes for the birds, and nurture our fires in the night.  Focus on the comforts of what is now, and you will learn that home is as migrant as ourselves.” He let his words sink into the accepting pools gazing his way.  “Now build a fire, as the sun has begun to set.”

The student did as he was told, pondering over his master’s words, not noticing the small parcel the elder had begun to warm in the flames.  He broke from his reverie only when the waft of warm olive bread tickled his nose, much like it did at home the mornings his mother would bake.  The master handed him a slice and said with a smile, “There is no harm in carrying home with you sometimes as well.  Or recreating it when needed.”

~~~~~

I endeavored to cook Loki (zucchini) a few days ago because it is one of my ultimate favorite dishes that my mom makes.  Continue reading