Friday, August 15, 2014

Quick Food Fix: Mixed Lentil Pancakes

It's always about how quickly can you get from start of putting the meal together to serving to the family. On any given day, I have about 20 minutes, 25 minutes if I am really lucky. With four hungry tummies growling, it better be quick, nutritious and delicious.
My mom's teaching is ingrained in me, 'Everything in life can wait, except food. Must be good, healthy and delicious. 'Oh mom, why o why!
I am a big advocate of cooking fresh for the kids et al. The more I expose the kids to different flavors, cuisines and concoctions, hopefully, easier they will have in life as Vegetarian Foodies like me.

Another addition to my Quick Fix Recipe
Name: Mixed Lentil Pancakes.
Note to self: Be more creative with the names
 Time to prepare: 10 minutes
Time to cook: 10 minutes
Yields: 6-8 medium size pancakes
Onion: 1/2 cup finely chopped
Ginger: 1 tsp finely chopped
Garlic: 1 tsp finely chopped
Chili: Per taste, finely chopped
Millet Flour: 1 1/2 Cup
Gram Flour (Besan): 1/2 Cup
Boiled lentils/Quinoa: 2 cups
Water: Approx 1 cup
 In this recipe: I had used the pre-boiled 'Quinoa, Toor Daal, Moong Daal' from the night before. But feel free to choose your own concoction; any left over lentils will be perfect addition.

Fennel Seeds: 1 tsp
Ajwain/ Carram Seeds: 1 tsp
Jeera: 1/2 tsp
Salt: Per taste
Mirchi: 1 Tsp
Lemon Juice: 1 Tsp

1. Mix all of the above ingredients with a little water to make the batter. It should not be runny, nor should it be too thick.
2. On a heated pan, spread out as you would do pancakes. I used non-stick, so no oil was needed.
3. On Medium flame, cover the pan and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
4. Flip the pancakes, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes
5. Serve with Chaat Masala, Green Chutney/ ketchup

The cooking takes slightly longer, since you have lentils and millet flour both of which have longer cook times, so if you take a larger pan, you can make more at the same time like I did, see picture below.

Now, if you have been following my blog (Yay!), you know I love making Chilla's/ Indian Pancakes a lot for our breakfasts/ quick snacks. This one qualifies as a meal in itself. The lentils are heavier and hence you do tend to get filled up quicker.

So Bon A petit! Enjoy yourself.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Quick Food Fix: Queso De Cabra; Munch Bunch edition

Another munch bunch, another great relaxed evening with friends, another complete spread, another successful food feast.

Munch Bunch is a gathering of four couples who are self-proclaimed foodies and love to attempt making new cuisines and then enjoying the delicious meal over laughter, food and awesome company. We have made Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Greek, Boys cooking evening amongst a few!

This month our theme was 'Spanish Tapas' and we were all excited at making tapas. A friend actually commented, there are so many options, I don’t know what not to make.

The picture speaks a thousand words, this was our spread:

I attempted to make two things, a cold Soup: Gazpacho. Somehow soup and cold does not go well for me, but it being summer and Munch Bunch is all about challenging ourselves, I said, let’s try Gazpacho. The other tapas for me was Queso De Cabra (Baked Goat Cheese). It's my favorite item to order at any Tapas place I go to!
Surprisingly, The Queso De Cabra was very quick to cook and easier to assemble. It qualifies for my 'Quick Food Fix' Needless to say, going forward, it will be a regular in our meals at home.  Quick Food Fix for me, is something that can be put together from start to finish in under 25 minutes and should be substantial, a complete meal. Simple
 Queso De Cabra:
Serves 6
Time to Prep: 5 Minutes, or how quickly can you chop?
Time to Cook: 15 Minutes
Time to bake: 5 Minutes

Tomato: 3 chopped finely/ pureed
Onion: 1: White/Pink finely Chopped
Garlic: 1 clove finely chopped
Butter: 1-2 Tsp
Goat Cheese: 5-6 spoons
Basil: 3-4 tsp dried basil or 2-3 tsp finely chopped fresh basil
Jalapeno: 1 finely chopped
Red Chilli Flakes: Per taste
Salt, Pepper: Per taste
Sour Dough bread: 3-4 slices cut in medium size cubes (any other type of bread will do as well)

1. In a heavy bottom pan, heat butter on medium heat
2. Add Onion and Garlic till translucent and fragrant
3. Add the herbs and sauté for 1-2 minutes
4. Now add the tomato puree and jalapeno
5. On low heat, cover the pan and let the sauce cook for 10-12 minutes
6. The sauce gets thicker, so remember to stir and you know it will be ready when butter floats on top.
7. Taste and adjust seasoning.
You are welcome to add 1-2 tsp. of heavy cream for a more creamy texture

1. In a ramekin/ shallow bake ready pan, put 2-4 cubes of bread
2. Pour the sauce till 3/4 to the top
3. Put 2-3 spoons of goat cheese and bake at 250 F for 4-5 minutes

Serve with bread as a dipping suace/ as a main

Here is the picture of My Queso De Cabra

 And yes, it was as delightful and delicious as it looks, if I can say so myself.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Same thing, Different Rules: Mommy Confession

She is 6, and I am well a little over my late twenties(Wink Wink!). But, I am realizing I have different rules for her and for me for the same thing. 
And since she does not know what a blog is, or this space, I will confess. Because I can.

1. Ice Cream: We were on Foster Beach this weekend with some amazing friends walking, laughing, giggling and enjoying the breeze. An ice cream truck comes by. 4 ice creams/ popsicles bought with no second thought. The same truck that my older one pleads to for us to get her an ice cream and we tell her no- Not good water/ milk. Then we take her to the gelato place near our house and get her the ice-cream.
It's not about the ice cream but where she is getting it from. But somehow I feel she would have enjoyed the one from the truck way more. Instant gratification. Same thing, different rules.

2. Bread Crust: I love bread in all forms, shapes and sizes. No discrimination here. My morning breakfast comprises of toast mostly all days. But I-Dont-Like-The-Crust. V, my 6 year old has seen me remove the crust every single day. She asks for the same thing, 'Please remove the crust'. And more often than not, I comply. I understand. But then there are times, when I am like, just eat the crust, its so soft, its so crunchy, its so.. More out of my laziness than anything else. You get the idea Same thing, different rules.

3. Laundry: Like most, when I come home, I need to change out of work war-wear to simple PJ's. And its been a long day, I 'sometimes' leave the clothes on the floor/ bed/ bathroom. And mostly by end of day, its in the basket. Mostly is the word I am stressing on. When my 6 year old comes home from school and changes into her favorite shorts and T-shirts, her school gear is on the floor. Every Day. I nag, I plead, I threaten and then with heavy feet she will 'sometimes' throw them in the laundry basket 2 steps away. But still, I ignore her 'long' day and well make her put the clothes in the laundry basket.
 And the one that is a conversation EVERY single day when she asks : "why do I need to sleep so early?'

4. Sleep time: Hers is 7:30 pm and mine should be 10:00 pm. Ideally. Realistically she is in bed at 7:30 and then sleeps by 8ish. For me, I am in bed by 11ish and sleep by 'have no clue' She says: I am trying, closing my eyes and trying really hard. And she does. Me however, Lie down, see something on i-whatever, read something, see something, read something, yawn, water, snooze and then after tossing and turning sleep. She makes and effort and I don’t 'really' make the effort.

And it's natural. I get that; I can justify both our behaviors.  I can lecture on 'good habits start early', 'practice restraint' but then it contradicts with 'be happy', 'go with the flow'.
You need to let them be kids. But maybe not too much 'kid'
 Urgh, bottom line. Same thing, different rules. We both, the 6 year old and me, a little over my late twenties should follow along the same rules. But we don’t.

Why? Since you see, I am a little over my late twenties and well, she is 6.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A memorable vacation.. for us.

While the kids are enjoying themselves with Grandparents, Mama, Maami, I was left sulking and whining. On any given day you are bone tired by 8 pm, but at 9pm, when you peek in their bedrooms and see them snoozing, its rejuvenating. Kids do that! It's refreshing, makes you count your blessings and yes, get ready for next day at Casa De Chaos.
I digress, Sumit sensed me being home was too painful without the kids, so last minute, we headed to Toronto, Niagara On the Lake and Niagara Falls. 3.5 days of complete bliss, relaxation and well moments when you wish the kids were just with you to snuggle with. And you can't say no when a vacation starts with this!

We booked our hotels an hour before we took on the long drive from Chicago to Toronto. The 8 hours drive became 11.5 hours thanks for July 4th rush. But our drive was beautiful, we chatted, listened to 'our' music, caught up, reminisced and just unwound.
Next day after a scrumptious Indian meal in Brampton, Canada (Come on, you can’t go to Canada and not eat delicious spicy Indian food!).

We headed to Toronto to our fabulous hotel- Shangri-La. What a treat! Sumit had called prior, we entered an upgraded room with a box of chocolates and cake. Just perfect and yes sooo romantic.

This was my first time in Toronto, and I wanted to visit the city, but the room and the hotel was so luxurious, I didn’t want to head out.
After much cajoling, we headed to the Distillery District. It was like time stood still, we lazed out in art galleries admiring very interesting pieces. I participated in a small salsa lesson. Was so much fun, under the Toronto sun. (Poetic, eh?)
We held hands, walked and before the sight of any kids laughing would pinch my heart, Sumit would point to the next interesting art work. With the World Cup scores in background we cheered, shouted and well laughed. A Lot. It reminds me of the countless hours we have spent in the Italian Piazza's- Town Squares!
Tired, we then headed to the 'Dunda's Street' time square. We caught the end of an amazing victory of Brazil. Walked around a little more and with exhausted feet headed back to the hotel. The plan was rest, freshen up and head to the lively night life of the city. Come on, no kids, there is no reason to be indoors at 8pm!
But, a detour to the hotel Jacuzzi, pool and Sauna followed. I have no idea where the 3 hours went by. The cabanas were so inviting after the swim, I read that book I have on my night stand since 2 months. Smile. I think time stood still.
We returned and swore we will be out in 10 minutes. And then I said the famous last words, ‘Let me lie down for 5 minutes” The next I remember was waking up, stumbling across the room to see the time as: 11:15 am. Yes, next morning.
Aaaa! So much so for not calling it  a day at 8 pm! It was such a nice feeling to wake up that late, that refreshed and that hungry.
We then enjoyed the sights and scenes of the lively China Town. Eating lychee and drinking sugarcane juice in the heat was perfect. We then walked some more and headed to the harbor front and spend the next few hours looking at the water, the planes, the cyclers at the AmsterDam Brewery! The wood fire pizza was so delicious, the service impeccable and the ambience, pure bliss.

Time to head to the Falls. We made a quick detour to the Niagara-On-The-Lakes. Such a charming town, walking in the lazy town, having ice cream and enjoying Crepes. I think this was the town my kids would have gone crazy in! In a good way, there was an ice cream shop every 10 steps. I kid you not.
The Niagara Falls are breathtaking as always. Our room overlooked the falls, and with the view, you could gaze out for hours. Which I did while Sumit tried his luck at the casino!
We walked and talked on the Falls Ave Strip, enjoyed the liveliness in contrast to the relaxed walks in Distillery.
Next morning, we swore, we will wake up when we wake up. A 11:15 am call woke us up from the slumber. After a heavy meal, we headed to the 'Horn Blower' The Maid of the Mist. It’s my third time at the Falls and I think I will do this Every-Single-Time! It was enjoying the spray of the water, catching the rainbows and just taking it all in!

With heavy hearts and relaxed bones we drove back to Chicago. I think the getaway did us good. The best part, I know the next road trip to do when the kids get back from the Grand Parents.

Note: Picture's are property, please don't use without permission

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Self-Exile of a different kind

With our Costa Rica trip in early April, like all holidays/ vacations, I happily signed myself out of Facebook, unchecked notifications on my emails and basically 'unplugged'
 If you have not noticed yet, I am still in Pura Vida mode, so relaxed and comfortable.
So on my return from Costa Rica, I decided to stay logged out of Facebook. Meaning, no access from phone/ laptop/ I-devices. You get the idea. No facebook for a month.
(I cheated twice: Once to check message's for a friends postal address and once to message a friend my postal address).
Besides that, I have no idea what's happening on Facebook.

On the contrary, I have a very good idea on what's happening with my friends.
Life is still going on, with a little bit more time on my hands. I have read a bit more- one and a half books, three magazines. As you can see, I have blogged more.
And long behold: I have actually called friends and chatted about what's going on in their lives as against understanding from their facebook status.
I am lazy on phones, by the time the day is over (Read: Kids in bed, errands finished), I am done! Any energy left is well spent on catching up on Game of Throne's episodes.
So me calling, has been really good-for me at least.
Of course, I stumped my friend recently, she was like, didn’t you know about abc, I posted on FB. I was like, I actually didn’t. And then we laughed and I got 'updates' in real life.
So this 30 day-self exile actually worked.
I am thinking, may be I do want to continue this self-exile. Trust me, its tempting to log in and post this blog there. But going on FB to blog about not being on FB, hmm, not so much.
My realization: It is not all about 'being in'. As of now, I am not feeling left out. I am sure there are countless pictures/ posts/ status that I would have 'liked/ commented' But you know what, I like this quietness.
So may be, until the urge of an addict comes back, self-exile to continue.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Munch Bunch: Ethiopian: Lentil Sambusa

Another month, another much bunch, another wonderful gathering of foodies to attempt, relish and then cherish
Theme: Ethiopian
I was introduced to Ethiopian food by a colleague then and now a dear friend about 8-9 years ago. She slaved in the kitchen for my roommate and me and made delicious vegetarian food and served coffee the true 'Ethiopian' style. Of course she being Ethiopian made our experience as authentic as possible.
Since that memorable sunny afternoon in LA, I have generally tried Ethiopian food every city I visit in the US. It has become one of those once a quarter cravings, got to go for Ethiopian.
In the last few years, Ethiopia has become a more personal country for me with family connections, stories and fond memories. So Ethiopia means more to me than the Injera and the Coffee. With that as a start, this theme was super special for me. It's one cuisine I love to eat and was so happy to attempt it.
Appetizer: Lentil Sambussa
           Collard Greens
Main Course: Red Misser Wat
             Chicken Doro Wat
Dessert:  Red velvet cake, nothing Ethiopian about it, but a friends birthday celebrations were so worth it!
Drinks: Fresh Ethiopian coffee, freshly roasted and ground and brewed.
Yup, that's how we roll.

I chose to make the appetizer: Lentil Sambusa: Two types, Beluga lentil and Puy lentil
1.5 cups Beluga lentil soaked over night (Available at Mariano's / Whole food)
1.5 cups Puy lentils (Stocked at regular grocery stores)
Jalapeno: 4 finely diced
Onion: 1 finely diced
Garlic: 3 cloves finely diced
Cilantro: 1 cup finely chopped
Cardamom Seeds: Crushed coarsely 1 tsp
Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
Salt: Per taste
Black Pepper: 1 tsp
For Frying:
Spring Roll Sheets: About 10 (Stocked at regular grocery stores)
Vegetable oil for frying

It is the same process for each type of lentil, so I will explain with the beluga lentil. Repeat for Puy lentil
1. Soak the lentils overnight.
2. Boil the lentils next morning until tender: About 20 minutes
3. Heat Olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, jalapeno until translucent, about 5 minutes
4. Add spices, sauté: 2 minutes
5. Add the boiled and drained lentil and cook for about 10 minutes gently moving the mix
6. The beluga lentil is very soft, so be gentle
7. Taste and adjust seasoning.
8. Take off stove and let it cool. Add cilantro leaves
9. And now the joys: There is no way I can do justice to explain how to make sambusa: So here is a You tube video of how to 'prepare samosa' and use this as a guideline for wrapping and frying.
Of course using the spring roll sheets is so much easier and quicker

Just FYI- To fry both types of Sambusa's (Total 30), I took about an hour, so start some music and go for it!
Though we didn’t have complete attendance, it was a really fun gathering and a very interesting style of cooking. Just a couple of spices and an abundance of aroma's and flavors. I will definitely try my hand at a few more Ethiopian Dishes.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mother of two girls... and?

----------------------------------------- In the beginning---------------------------------------------------
Garima: A mother
People: Wow, congratulations, must be busy and hard.
In my mind: No, its easy, well I don’t know any better, this is what it's supposed to be I guess!

Garima: A mother of one girl
People: Girls are so precious. Am sure she will give you sleepless nights when she gets to her teens
 In my mind: Uh, why? My brother and I both must have given a lot of sleepless nights in our teens. But yes I agree, Kids are precious and my Little V more so for me
----------------------------------------- A few years later---------------------------------------------------
Garima: A mother of two girls
People: Wait what? Wow.
Generally look at Sumit and say: Time to get the second job and bulk up. You need the muscles to ward off boys.
Generally look at Garima and say: Time for the boy, may be third time's the charm!!

In my mind: What!!
My two girls are perfect. When we planned for our second, it was since it felt right for our family(and of course increase chaos), we didn’t even find out what gender the baby will be- goes to show, we didn’t care: Boy or Girl! So yeah.
Please, my kids are perfect to me and family is complete. If we do have a third kid and if that kids a boy, great and if that kids a girl: even better, I have a load of hand me downs already.
Kids are expensive, yes we know that. Trust me! But that does not mean my darling husband needs a second job, trust me we thought it through before we went down this path of parenthood. And bulk up?? Seriously?
I don’t think my dad was peeling boys away from me when I was in my teens. Bulk or no bulk, I was just fine and so was my dad. And I think my girls and Sumit will be fine as well.

Now gist: Phew!
It's a natural thing to ask: Two kids, boys or girls?
And then I would assume it's a natural thing to say: Good for you, can I see pictures? Let me know when I can meet them?
And if you ask, drop them off and head out to the movies..... We LOVE it!
And then move on to the next topic.

Why does us having two girls give us collective gasps or even hearing double trouble! Seriously?
 We live in 21st century right? Let me check the date again! Yes we do. So please Butt Out