Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Quick Food Fix: Alternate Falafel Sandwich (Slightly Indian Touch!!!)

 It was one of those weekday evenings when things were actually moving well. Kids were picked up on time, Sumit was super busy with work, so he was in his 'Do Not Disturb' mode and well I was 'Craving home cooked food'
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, friends visiting, implying lots of eating out, me travelling for work, implying Sumit taking charge of the kitchen for kids and then just generally lots out meals out!
Hence I was 'Craving home cooked food'

While the kids played, did homework, I made our delicious home-made pizza's. But I wanted something more, so attempted at 'Falafel'. Here is my older and more 'standard' recipe of the falafel sandwiches. Its with chickpeas, tofu vegetables.
But this evening, I tried something different and it turned out simpler, different and still very delicious

How about we call it: Falafel with an Indian Twist
1. 1 cup soaked Moong (Green Gram)
2. 1/2 cup soaked kala channa (Black Garbanzo)
3. 1 cup zucchini quartered
4. 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
5. 1/4 cup Bajra Atta: Millet Flour
6. 1/4 cup Besan Atta: Chick Pea Four
7. 1 slice of bread for binding
8. Spices: Salt, Black Pepper, Chili

1. Mix all the ingredients above and blend them in a food processor.
2. Make little Patties, cover in breadcrumbs and shallow fry (On low flame)
3. Turn after 10 minutes to crispen on other side

Assemble the sandwich as you please: Shown in my recipe before!

Making Sandwich
1. Open the pita bread, spread hummus and yogurt,
2. Layer the vegetables,
3. Add the Warm falafel
4. Top with additional yogurt/ add any spicy sauce you like

Garbanzo and Tofu combination is delicious, but this Moong-Chana combination makes the flavor's slightly nutty and crisper.
Since I am not cooking the mixture and just 'blasting them in the food processor' its just quicker to make.

The most important one: Under my 30-minute rule. Recipe above makes: 10-12 falafel and it took me exactly 27 minutes while I was doing other things, so yay for a Quick Food Fix

Monday, March 21, 2016

Movie Review: Kapoor & Sons

It was a last minute plan for a late night movie show... and it worked out perfectly: We went to see 'Kapoor & Sons'

A very simple story, a very real story, a movie with very raw emotions and above a very simple message that we tend to forget: its family, it may not be perfect at times, it may drive you up the wall at time but it will stand by you no matter what!

Without giving away the twists and the turns of the movie: It’s about a dysfunctional family. A cool dadu, parents with two sons, both writers, one struggling and one published. It is about a dad who 'attempted' his hand at business and things really didn’t work out resulting in a series of bad decisions. It is about a mother who is the rock of the house and still so vulnerable. It's about a 'Mr. Perfect' son and his struggle with maintain the perfect facade and being true to himself. It's about an 'imperfect' son being true to himself but struggling with his family having any confidence in him. It's about a girl who is so bubbly that you want her in your life, but is so complicated that you just want to untangle the world around her and hug her.

It's about us relating to these characters in different ways, it’s about simple jokes we crack in our daily lives and chuckle along. It's funny yet intense. It's definitely 'not commercial' which I loved. Case in point: A scene in the movie was a house party scene which left me reminiscing a few our own college days with no care in the world.

From a review perspective: All I can say is go see it. It might be a movie you could wait to come on DVD/ Online versions. But still you should see it 'properly' aka: See it one stretch with no disturbances.

As usual, Rishi Kapoor was amazing, he was himself at 90. I loved his crude humor and his wisdom transferred in a funny way. This would be the 'Cool Dadu' one would always want.

Alia Bhatt: I see her as this small bundle of potential. She is bubbly with layers of emotions sowed in her. The one scene in which she captures her life with her parents leaves you speechless. You could empathize with her, relate to her and above all feel sorry for her.

Siddhartha Malhotra: hmm, Okay. Definite Eye Candy, but performance wise, it left a lot to be desired. Considering the story was such a strong one. His intense scene of being angry seemed like a 'shouting match' the emotions really didn’t translate well.

Fawad Khan: I want to now go and see all his movies. He, in my mind was the true star of the movie. Such a rock solid performance and of course his chiseled looks helped. But he was cashing in on his performance more than his looks. Amazing!!!

Ratna Pathak, the mother: I love love love this lady. She can do no wrong. Simple. Okay may be, the make up in the movie wanted to make her 'look old' especially the hair. But hey, like I said, this fabulous actor can do no wrong in my mind.

Rajat Kapoor, the father: He is such a person next door quality about him that you could simply see this happening
Supporting Characters: Some very hilarious and some elements were silly but cute. I liked that everything felt very 'normal', no larger than life syndrome. The silliness was never ‘Oh gosh, yet again!’

In all fairness, something that I feel Hindi movies lack is the 'Character Building' and in this movie I think you could relate to all characters and see them as 'complete wholes' explaining their emotions and jest.

Hope you do see the movie and make sure you carry a tissue or two in the movie. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Indo-Chinese Cooking: Kung Pao Noodles

Another gathering, another fabulous munch bunch and another recipe!!

My blog has two distinct genres recently, one about getting fit and the other about recipes... I guess its pretty evident why I need both.

Not such good jokes aside, recently my foodie buddies and we got together for a munch bunch: A gathering of like minded foodies who meet periodically on a pre-decided theme to attempt at cooking different cuisine, styles of cooking for the sole purpose of 'Eating it' and definitely hopefully learning something on the way

Theme this month: Chinese that ended up being Indo-Chinese!

Appetizers: Sweat Corn Soup, Chili Paneer
Main Course: Fried Rice with Schezuan gravy
                       Kung Pao Noodles
                       Schezuan Noodles
                      Gobhi Manchurian
                      Manchurian Style: Mushroom stuff with Potatoes
Dessert:         Mango Dofu
                      Strawberry Dofu
Drinks:          Lychee-Ginger
And of course my friends infamous homemade chili oil as a perfect complement to these dishes!!!

I massive spread, hell yeah :-)
We were left content and with a lot of left over which was happily gobbled up the next day by the kids and adults...

Before I share the recipe of the noodles, let me say: Cooking Indo-Chinese is a pain- Just so many vegetables to be julienned and then some to be finely minced and then some to be pureed, its annoying. But oh so worth it!!!

And yes: long Post Alert

Now here is the recipe of the Kung Pao Noodles very hastily devoured by the kids and adults alike!!

Quantity: A lot!! I made this proportion for 8 adults

Vegetables to be Sautee’ d (All Julienned)
1 Cup green cabbage
1/2 cup red cabbage
1/2 cup celery
1/2 cup Brussel sprouts
1 cup beans
1/2 cup red/green pepper
1 cup onions
1 cup carrots
2 tsp ginger- minced
2 tsp garlic- minced
3 tsp Oil
1 tsp Vinegar
2 tsp Soy Sauce

Kung Pao Tofu
1 package firm tofu
2 tsp oil
Ready To Eat: Kung Pao Sauce 1 tsp
1 tsp Soy Sauce

Kung Pao Sauce
2 tomato - blended to form a puree
1/2 cup onion, Garlic finely chopped (Minced)
3 tsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp stoneground mustard
Ready Made Kung Pao Sauce: 3 tsp (Any brand works)

Any wheat noodles- this is the one I used this time, was super hit~~
Rice noodles tend to get really sticky, and hard to toss for me!

Toppings & Voila
Crushed Peanuts: 1 cup
Bean Sprouts: 1/2 cup
Shallots: 1/2 cup
Finely chopped cilantro: 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds: 2 tsp
Lemon Wedges

To Saute Vegetables
1. In a wok, heat oil and then add onion, garlic, ginger, and Saute till translucent
2. Add all julienne vegetables in no particular order
3. Keep stirring in the wok till all vegetables are slightly tender
4. Add the soy sauce and vinegar and take off the flame.
5. Add 1 tsp of salt/ chili

To make Kung Pao Tofu (Optional)
You are more than welcome to skip 'crisping' of tofu and use it as is, I like the flavored tofu more so went for it
1. Take the tofu out of packaging and leave on paper to dry for 4-5 minutes
2. Meanwhile in a flat pan, heat oil on a medium flame
3. Chop the tofu to desired size, i prefer cubes, and then add to the oil
4. Every 4-5 minutes keep moving the tofu so no side gets burned
5. In about 25-30 minutes, you will have the tofu crisp
Now you can definitely add more oil in the start and shallow fry the tofu to quicken the process, well I was trying to use less oil!
6. Now, in a separate bowl mix the kung pao and the soy sauce and add to tofu and coat evenly.
7. Take off the flame; however let it stay on pan to crispen further

1. Based on package instructions, cook noodles and allow to cool
2. Recommendation: Cook just a little over al dente!

Hey, i warned you, this process is long
Alternatives: Just use the readymade sauce and mix with water, soy sauce, vinegar, mustard!!!
The longer process
1. Heat oil, add the minced onion, garlic.
2. When slightly browned, add the tomato puree
3. On medium flame, let it cook (until the portion becomes half) and the sauce look deep red!
4. Now add the ready made sauce, soy sauce, mustard, salt per taste
5. And my secret ingredient: A little bit of black pepper
6. Let it cook, for another 5-10  minutes

All you have done so far, is cook your noodles, Sautee the vegetables and make the sauce... but for serving your noodles, you cant just mix them!!! You have to stir fry them all together to let it be one uniform taste!

Stir Fry of Noodles
1. In the wok, heat 1-2 tsp of oil, add noodles and toss!
2. I like personally to get my noodles slightly crisp here, but your choice!
3. Add the Sautee vegetables and the sauce
Note: My portions above are to feed a mini village, so I had to do this 7 times!! Yes, I made that much!!
4. Any ways, let is cook and simmer for 5-10 minutes

Dishing it out!!
1. Place warm noodles in the serving dish.
2. Sprinkle all the toppings & Voila!!!!

Your 'True Kung Pao' noodles are ready for consumption!

Yes the process above is long and tedious, but for everyday cooking feel free to follow this recipe or the simple 'cheat sheet' below
1. All vegetables can even just be chopped in your food processor/ alternatively use any of the readily available frozen stir fry mixes.
2. Tofu can be used as-is or just lightly toasted
3. Sauce can Just using the ready-made sauce and mix with water, soy sauce, vinegar, mustard!!
4. Assembling it all together and munching on it.

Yes, there is a difference in flavor, the long-ish process results in more flavors (Or at least I think so, since I spend 2 hours preparing them!). But on a school evening after a long day at work, I am completely fine with the 'simple' yet delicious noodles!