Mustard Green Saag Paneer

Mustard Green Saag Paneer, is the last in a series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road.

Mustard Green Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer is one of my favorite dishes.  The word Saag means any leafy green vegetable.  Paneer is an Indian farmer’s cheese, which many Indians make at home.  Click on Paneer (Indian Cheese)  to check out my recipe.

If you don’t want to make it, you can buy Paneer in an Indian market.  I have even seen it at my local super market, but the quality is not as good as when you buy it at the Indian market.  If Paneer is not available, feel free to substitute, scallops, shrimp or baby red potatoes.

When Saag Paneer is made with spinach, it is called Palak Paneer.  Palak means spinach.  In Punjab, where I am from, the classic Saag is made with Sarson, which is an Indian mustard green.  This recipe is the classic Punjabi dish, inspired by the American mustard greens that were available in my beautiful vegetable basket.

INGREDIENTS:

Saag Paneer Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of mustard greens
  • 1 cup of frozen finely chopped spinach
  • 1 cup of paneer pieces (the one’s you see in the photo are home made.  They have been coated with my Indian Spice Mix and pan fried in grape seed oil.  This step adds extra flavor but you can skip it and use the paneer plain.)
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt.  You can buy it at the store, or if you want to make your own click on My Mom’s Yogurt.
  • 2 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 inches of ginger root
  • 1 inch of turmeric root (if you cannot find fresh turmeric, use 1/2 tsp of powder.)
  • 3 chili peppers (used whatever variety you have on hand – here I used a fiery hot scotch bonnet and 2 mild orange baby bells.) Mixing up the peppers lets you control the heat level and results in a more complex flavor.
  • 1 Tbsp of dried pomegranate seeds ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 tsp of black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp of garam masala
  • 2 Tbsp of ghee (use grape seed oil if you don’t have ghee.)
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Saag Paneer Prep

  • Wash the mustard greens to get rid of any gritty dirt.  Then tear the leave off the stems.
  • Dice the onion
  • Mince the ginger root, garlic and chili peppers

PREPPING THE SAAG MIXTURE:

  • Put the mustard leaves in a food processor and give them a whiz.  You may have to add a little water to help turn them into a paste.
  • Add the frozen spinach and whiz it again to incorporate.

COOK:

  • Coat a large stainless steel pot with ghee.  Place the pot on medium-low heat to let the ghee melt.
  • Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chili peppers, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chili flakes and garam masala.
  • Grate in the fresh turmeric root, using a mini grater or a micro-plane.  If you are using powdered turmeric add it when the tomato paste is added so that it does not burn.
  • Saute until the onions get translucent.  About 5 minutes.
  • Make a hot spot in the center of the pan by pushing the veggies aside and add tomato paste.
  • Let the tomato paste cook for a minute and then stir it into the veggies.
  • Add the saag mixture
  • Sprinkle in the cinnamon and ground up pomegranate seeds
  • Cook on low heat until the mixture turns dark green.  Stir occasionally while cooking.  This should take 10 to 15 minutes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Add the yogurt and stir it in
  • Continue to cook on low, stirring occasionally until the saag starts bubbling

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Add the paneer pieces
  • Gently toss to incorporate them into the saag without breaking them
  • Cover with the lid and turn the heat off.  Let sit until ready to serve.

The residual heat will bring the paneer up to the correct temperature without overcooking it.  Overcooked paneer becomes rubbery, so it is best to bring it up to temperature gently.  The residual heat will also allow all the flavors to marry.  This technique of marrying the flavors together is called “DHUM” in Hindi.  DURING THE “DHUM” PERIOD DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO REMOVE THE LID TO TAKE A PEEK.  Removing the lid will let the heat escape and ruin the process of marrying the flavors together.  As a child, I always wanted to lift the lid.  My mom or my grandma would stop me.  Now since they are only with me in spirit, I have to stop myself. 💕  I got a little sentimental writing this.

Saag is traditionally served with Makki Di Roti, a flat unleavened Punjabi bread made from corn meal.  I usually visit my family in India during the winter months when it is Sarson Saag season.  I eat it almost every day, but I skip the Makki Di Roti, because I lead a Ketogenic Lifestyle which does not allow corn.  Occasionally, I cheat and take just a small bite. 😊 Here is a photo of my favorite Punjabi meal from my favorite Punjabi Dhaba (roadside restaurant.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To make a complete Ketogenic meal, I serve it with Amritsari Masala Fish for me, since I am a pescatarian.  For my husband, who has to have meat in his diet, I serve it with Amritsari Masala Lamb Chops.  Lamb and Saag is a classic combination.

Amritsari Masala Lamb Chops served with Mustard Green Saag Paneer

The spice mixture for the lamb chops is a little bit different than the one for the fish.  I will be posting the lamb recipe on Saturday, August 1st, 2020.  Be on the lookout for it.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed my story and recipe.  Please give me your feedback in the comment section.  I always love hearing from you.

Bye for now 🖐  Have a great day !!!

Collard Greens & Chickpea Stew

Collard Greens & Chickpea Stew, is the fifth in a series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road. Collard Greens & Chickpea Stew

In India this dish is usually made with spinach and/or mustard greens.  The gorgeous collard greens, in my farm fresh vegetable basket, inspired me to put in a Southern American twist.  I had never seen collard greens in India, but they are widely available here in Texas.  People in Texas love collard greens.

INGREDIENTS:Collard Greens & Chickpea Stew Ingredients

  • 15 large collard leaves
  • 1 1/2 cup of dry chickpeas
  • 3 inches of ginger root
  • 2 inches of fresh turmeric (if you can’t find this use 1 tsp of turmeric powder)
  • 1 medium sized red onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 peppers (use whatever variety you have on hand.  Here I used, 1 fiery Scotch Bonnet and 2 mild orange baby bells.) Mixing up the type of peppers lets you control the heat level and results in a more complex flavor.
  • 2 red hot Indian chilies for garnish (optional.) My husband eats the garnish.
  •  1 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 3 Tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREPPING THE CHICK PEAS:

  • Soak the chick peas overnight.  They will double in size.
  • Drain the soaking water
  • Place in a crock pot along with a bay leaf and cover with water
  • Turn crock pot to high and cook until tender
  • Add salt to taste towards the end of the cooking process

PREPPING THE OTHER INGREDIENTS:Collard Greens & Chickpea Stew Prep

  • Remove the collard green leaves from their stems (Don’t throw the stems away.  Chop them up and use them in recipes in place of celery.)
  • Dice the red onion
  • Mince the ginger, garlic and peppers

COOK:

  • Coat a heavy duty stainless steel skillet with grape seed oil, place it on medium heat.
  • Add the onion, ginger, garlic and peppers.  Saute until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the cumin and black mustard seeds.  Cook until the seeds start crackling.
  • Grate in the fresh turmeric.  If you are using turmeric powder, add it later in the recipe with the other powdered spices.
  • Saute until golden brown
  • Make a hot spot in the center of the pan by pushing aside the veggies
  • Add tomato paste to the hot spot and let it cook for about a minute
  • Stir the cooked tomato paste into the veggies
  • Add the collard greens
  • Saute them for about 5 minutes
  • Add the smoked paprika, garam masala, and the turmeric if you are using the powdered form.
  • Saute for another 5 minutes to let the powdered spices cook and blendCollard Greens Cook 10 add chickpeas

Drain the cooked chick peas and add them to the pan.  If you don’t want to cook the chick peas from scratch, use two 12 ounce cans of cooked chickpeas.  Please drain and rinse the canned chick peas well.

Stir the chick peas in and cover with the lid.  Turn off the heat and let the flavors marry for about 15 minutes.  In Hindi, we call this process of letting the flavors marry, “DHUM”.

Transfer to a beautiful platter and garnish with the red hot Indian chilies.Collard Greens & Chickpea Stew

This is a great vegan dish to make for a party.  It can be made in advance because it actually tastes better the next day.

Serve this stew as a side dish with your choice of protein, or it can be served as a vegan main dish with some pilaf.  I like serving this to my vegan guests with Buckwheat Pilaf.

I hope you are enjoying this series of recipes.  I am having a lot of fun creating them.  Next Saturday, I will post the last in this series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road.

Please leave your feedback in the comment section.  I always love to hear from you. 😊

 

 

Carrot Tops & Coriander Chutney

Carrot Tops & Coriander Chutney, is the third in a series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road.

Carrot Tops and Coriander Chutney

In my previous post I served the chutney with Sweet Potato & Kale Tikkis (cutlets)

Sweet Potato & Kale Tikkis

Traditionally, this chutney is made with mint and coriander.  Since the vegetable basket I received, had fresh carrots with absolutely lovely carrot tops, I decided to make carrot tops and coriander chutney.  I know there are some people who dislike coriander (also known as cilantro.) In my experience, people are either cilantro lovers or cilantro haters.  For those who don’t like cilantro, please substitute mint.

INGREDIENTS:

Carrot Tops and Coriander Chutney Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of fresh carrot tops
  • 1 bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1 large lime
  • 2 inches of ginger root
  • 1 spicy chili pepper.  I like the long Indian Chili pepper if I can find it.  But a Serrano pepper will also work.
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp of dried pomegranate seeds.  These add an extra depth of flavor and tartness.  If you don’t have them then use sumac, tamarind or extra lime juice.
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Carrot Tops and Coriandet Chutney Prep

  • Separate the carrot top leaves from their stems.  Do the same for the coriander leaves.  If you live in Asia, where the coriander has really fresh roots, use the roots as well.
  • Roughly chop the ginger, garlic and chili pepper
  • Squeeze the lime so you have the juice ready

MAKING THE CHUTNEY:

Place, all the ingredients in a small food processor and blend into a smooth sauce.  You may have to add a little water to help the blending process.  Taste and adjust the salt, pepper and acidity as needed.  Sometimes I end up adding a little extra lime juice at the end for an extra pop of flavor.

Store the chutney in an air tight container.  It will keep in the frig for about a week.  Mine usually doesn’t last that long. 😊

I was so amazed that I could use carrot tops that would normally end up in the trash, to make such a tasty chutney.  I didn’t have the heart to throw away the carrot tops because they were so fresh and they had a great fragrance.  I am really glad I used them.  It turned out to be a successful culinary experiment.

After I used the carrot tops for the chutney, I still had some leftover.  So I used them to make Carrot Tops & Parsley Pesto Pasta.  I will post the recipe for that next Saturday.

I am having so much fun creating recipes inspired by my basket of fresh vegetables.

Hope you enjoy them too.  Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Sweet Potato & Kale Tikkis (cutlets)

Hello everyone.😊  Hope you are all doing as well as possible during this global pandemic crisis.  I find myself temporarily unemployed for the very first time in my life.  I am using the time to catch up on all the things that I have left on the back burner.  I am now finally catching up with my blog posts.  I have created and photographed so many recipes that I have not had time to post.

Sweet Potato & Kale Tikkis, is the second in a series of six recipes inspired by  Vegetables From Down The Road.Sweet Potato & Kale Tikkis

Classic tikkis are usually made with regular potatoes and peas.  The bundle of vegetables that I received from Fruitful Hill Farm, included sweet potatoes and kale, so I was inspired to create a new version.  Not only is this version more healthful, but the sweet heat combination makes it taste even better.  Great with a cup of Masala Chai.

INGREDIENTS:Sweet Potato & Kale Tikkis Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of sweet potatoes
  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 4 peppers (use whatever variety you have on hand.  Here I used 2  fiery Serranos, a medium – heat Fresno and a sweet orange baby bell.) Mixing up the type of peppers lets you control the heat level and results in a more complex flavor.
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 inches of ginger root
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (optional if you want to make the dish more spicy.)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala (I make my own, but you can purchase it at an Indian grocery store or a spice market.)
  • 3 Tbsp grape seed oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREPPING THE SWEET POTATOES:

  • Some of the sweet potatoes were small and some were large.  I cut the large ones in half, so that all the pieces were of a similar size.  This way they will cook evenly.  Coat each sweet potato with a little oil.
  • Roast them in a 400 F oven until they are fork tender.
  • Let them cool so they can be handled without burning your hands.
  • Peel the sweet potatoes.
  • Mash then with a pastry cutter.  Add a dash of salt and pepper.

PREPPING THE OTHER INGREDIENTS:Sweet Potato & Kale Tikkis Prep

  • Separate the kale leaves from the stems.
  • Don’t throw the stems away.  Instead chop them up into little pieces to use in the cooking process.
  • Chop the onion.
  • Mince the peppers, ginger and garlic.

COOKING THE KALE:

  • Add the chopped up kale stems, the onion, peppers, ginger and garlic to a heavy duty stainless steel pan on medium heat.
  • Add the cumin and black mustard seeds.
  • Add the grape seed oil and saute till golden brown.
  • Then add the powdered turmeric, smoked paprika and garam masala.  Saute for another minute or two until the powdered spices are incorporated.
  • Add the kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Let the kale wilt down.  This should take about 5 to 10 minutes.

Once the kale is ready, fold it into the mashed sweet potatoes.  Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Kale Base Combined into a Hash

Let the mixture cool to room temperature before you start making the tikkis.

MAKING THE TIKKIS:

  • Take a heaping tablespoon of the sweet potato kale mixture and form into flattened discs.
  • Coat a non-stick skillet with grape seed oil.  Place on medium heat.  When the oil is shimmering add the tikkis.  Do not over crowd the pan.  Cook for about 3 minutes on each side to get a brown crispy crust.

Place on a platter and serve with chutney.  They are so yummy.

Sweet Potato & Kale Tikkis, cooked

Traditionally, tikkis are served with a mint and coriander chutney.  Since my vegetable basket had fresh carrots with absolutely lovely carrots tops, I made a carrot tops and coriander chutney to serve with the tikkis.  It turned out so well.  I do my best to use every part of every vegetable so that we don’t have waste.  It leads me to make some very creative recipes.  What we don’t eat, gets fed to the goats or the ducks and chickens.  Nothing goes to waste around here.  Deliciously, doing our part to be in harmony with the planet and Mother Nature.

In the feature photo, you can see the Carrot Tops and Coriander Chutney, served with the tikkis.  The chutney recipe will be posted next Saturday, as the third in the series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road.

These tikkis are very versatile.  Serve them as a snack with tea, as a fancy Hors d’oeuvre at a cocktail party, or an appetizer at a dinner party.  They are always a hit.  You can also make them the day before, and then warm them up in the toaster oven just before serving.  The toaster oven lets the crust stay nice and crispy.  If you have any left over mixture it make a great hash, topped off with eggs, for breakfast.Sweet Potato & Kale Hash topped with Poached EggsI really enjoyed creating this recipe and sharing it with you.  Let me know what you think of it in the comment section.

I always, appreciate your support and feedback.

P.S.: Today my husband decided that I needed an outing because I haven’t left the house in a week.  He drove me in his MG convertible, so I could enjoy the sunny day, down the road to Fruitful Hill Farm.  I picked up another beautiful bundle of vegetables.Vegetables From Down The Road 15 May 2020

More inspiration to come up with some creative dishes !!! 😃

Results of My Second Cooking Class/Pop Up Supper Club in Support of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry

My second cooking class/pop supper club was a lot of fun.  The students were eager to learn how to make Indian food.  Everyone enjoyed the food, wine pairing and the camaraderie generated by the community getting together to help a good cause.

Buffet Line

I. Enjoying Kachumber
Photo by Gabby Silva

I am very thankful to my guests for their goodwill and donations to the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  We were able to raise $775 to help our community.

Here is the Indian Menu that my students and I prepared.  Just like the last event, it was delicious, gluten free and Keto friendly.  Vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian options were available to include a wide variety of dietary preferences.

Cooking Class 2 Menu

THE APPETIZER

F. Plated Kachri
photo by Gabby Silva

AUBERGINE KACHRI is my dad’s favorite appetizer.  My mom used to make it for him frequently.  It consists of spicy slices of sauteed eggplant served with a yogurt mint sauce.  For the full recipe, please click on the link above.

Indian cooking takes some advance preparation.  Some of the students joined me the Friday before the event to help me with the prep and learn some extra tips.

The eggplant has to be sliced and salted overnight to draw out excess moisture.  Drawing out the moisture allows the eggplant to cook evenly and not absorb excess oil.  This is a tip I learned from my mom.  Below is Rose, one of my students, showing the eggplant we sliced and salted.

A'. Prepping Kachri

The cooking class began on Saturday at noon.  The first thing we did is dry the eggplant slices and season them with my Indian Spice Mix.

We let the seasoned eggplant slices sit in the frig for a couple of hours, to let all the spices marry, before pan sauteing them.

C. Sauteing Kachri

The cooked eggplant slices were topped off with a dollop of yogurt mint sauce made with My Mom’s Yogurt.  A fresh mint leaf was added to each slice for a finishing touch.

THE SALAD

G. Plated Kachumber

KACHUMBER is chopped salad made with cucumber, tomato, onion, mint, cilantro, lime juice and Indian spices.  In the above photo, you see it plated with a small papad.  Papad is a thin, cracker-like crisp made with lentils.  It serves as the Keto friendly crouton element.

The salad was the last thing we made so that we could serve it super fresh.  In the photo below, you will see the components of the main course staying warm in crockpots, while we prep the Kachumber Salad.

A. Prepping Kachumber

I also made a yogurt dressing, with toasted cumin and other spices, to add a creamy element to the Kachumber Salad.  I will post the full recipe as soon as I get a chance.

THE MAIN COURSE was a Trio of  Indian Curries

I want to clarify what a curry is.  Curry just means something cooked in a sauce.  In India, every region has its own variety of curries.  Indian cooks do not use curry powder.  Curry powder is a British invention.  Each curry is made from scratch with its own blend of base aromatics and a layering of spices throughout the cooking process.

I decided to make three unique curries, both to accommodate a variety of dietary needs and to show my students different ways of making curries.

Indian Cooking Class Feature
Photo by Gabby Silva

Starting from left to right, the photo above shows:

  • Riced Cauliflower Pilaf, made with freshly grated turmeric
  • Extra Kachri Slices, in case anyone wanted an additional appetizer
  • Vegan Curry, with chickpeas for protein
  • Monkfish Curry, with a coconut lime base, for the pescatarians
  • Oxtail Curry, my unique signature dish

Diners had a choice of enjoying the curries with a Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf (sitting in the pot on the back burner) or a Keto friendly, Riced Cauliflower Pilaf.  Click on the link for Buckwheat Pilaf to see the basic recipe to make any kind of pilaf.

I am a pescatarian, who leads a Keto Lifestyle, so I served myself a plate of riced cauliflower pilaf and topped it with monkfish curry.

Trio of Indian Curries
photo by Gabby Silva

It was really delicious, if I do say so myself.  Monkfish is considered to be poor man’s lobster. It tasted like a decadent lobster curry with a great depth of flavor, and was the first one to be finished.  I will definitely make it again and post the recipe.

THE DESSERT

Zb. Ras Malai Plated
photo by Gabby Silva

SAFFRON PISTACHIO RASMALAI is a classic Indian dessert, and my husband’s favorite.  Each round ball is a cheesecake bite sitting in a creamy, flavorful sauce.

Indian desserts tend to be very sweet, so my challenge was to figure out a way to make is Keto friendly.  As I was mulling over how to make a low carb version, I recalled a memory from when I was 10 years old.

I was visiting my great grandmother and I watched her make Rasmalai from scratch.  She used just a little bit of honey in place of sugar.  She told me that my great grandfather had sugar problems, so she made desserts with very little sugar, but a lot of flavor.

I did my best to recreate her recipe.  I am going to show you how I did it.  The trick is to use very high quality ingredients and lots of spices that will give the illusion of sweetness.  The spices I used in this case are saffron, fennel powder and cardamom.

MAKING THE RAS GULLAS (cheese balls)

My friend Kathy, came over on prep day to learn how to make Paneer.

  • Once the Paneer is ready, break it up with a fork, add the spices and ground up pistachios.
  • Mix everything together and gently knead it into a ball.
  • Cut the ball into 2 inch pieces, and shape into discs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Make a pistachio honey syrup scented with saffron and rose water.  I used only one tablespoon of raw local honey in the entire pan of syrup.
  • The syrup is used to cook the cheese balls and infuse them with flavor.  They are simmered for 10 minutes with the lid on.  During the cooking process the cheese balls will double in size.
  • The cooked cheese balls are cooled and firmed up in an ice bath.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • While the cheese balls are cooling, make the cream sauce.  The sauce consists of cream, half &half, one tablespoon of honey, pistachio powder, saffron and rose water.

W. making the cream (malai) for the ras gullas

  • Place the firmed up cheese balls in the cream sauce.  We made these on prep day so that the cheese balls could become saturated with the cream sauce overnight.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just before serving, I plated the RasMalai by spooning two tablespoons of Malai (cream sauce) into a small bowl.  Then I placed two RasGullas (cheese balls) in each bowl and topped them off with pistachios and goji berries for a little color.

I was proud to make this dessert.  I felt like my great grandmother was there helping me. After my husband ate this RasMalai, he said he would never eat the store bought version again.  My great grandmother’s version turned out so sublime, with a profound but delicate flavor.  I will do a full recipe post when I make it again, but for now I have posted the above photos to give you an idea of how the RasMalai was made.

I want to thank my husband for his help and his expert wine pairing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also want to thank my guests for their support, and Gabby Silva for taking such great photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My next event will be in September for Hunger Action Month.  Tresha Silva, the director of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry, and I are planning to hold the event at the Bastrop Convention & Exhibit Center.

I will keep you posted.  In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or comments please let me know in the comment section below.  I would love to hear from you.

 

Curried Baby Turnips (tops & all)

Curried Baby Turnips, is the first in a series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The RoadCurried Baby Turnips (tops & all)The baby turnips from our neighboring farm were so fresh that I decided to use them tops and all.  This is a classic Indian dish which is usually made with cilantro.  Here I substituted the tender, fresh turnip tops for the cilantro.

INGREDIENTS:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • 2 bunches of baby turnips (each bunch had 5 turnips)
  • 3 peppers (use whatever variety you have on hand–here I used a Fresno, a sweet orange pepper and a fiery hot green scotch bonnet pepper.)  Mixing up the type of peppers results in a more complex flavor.
  • 2 inches of ginger root
  • 2 inches of turmeric root (if you cannot find fresh turmeric, use 1/2 tsp. of powder instead)
  • 8 ounces of frozen peas
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp. chili flakes (optional if you want to make the dish more spicy)
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. garam masala (I make my own, but you can purchase it at an Indian grocery store or a spice market)
  • 2 Tbsp. grape seed oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Curried Baby Turnips Prep

  • Trim off the turnip bottoms and tops.  Leave the skins on.  Cut the turnips in half and then slice them into thin moon shapes.
  • Roughly chop the turnip tops.
  • Finely dice the chilies and ginger.

COOK:

  • Coat a large stainless steel skillet with grape seed oil and place on medium heat.
  • Add the turnips, chilies and ginger.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Sprinkle on the cumin, black mustard and nigella seeds.  Add the optional chili flakes.
  • Using a micro plane or mini grater, grate the fresh turmeric at this point.  If you are using powdered turmeric, it will be added later in the recipe.  If you add it now, it will burn.
  • Saute the turnips until they are translucent and the added seeds begin to pop.  You will be able to hear them popping.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low.
  • Add the tomato paste and smoked paprika.  If you are using powdered turmeric, add it at this point.  Continue to saute for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the chopped turnip tops and saute until they wilt.  This should take 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Add the peas and sprinkle on the garam masala.
  • Add additional salt and pepper as needed.
  • Toss everything together.
  • Turn off the heat and cover with the lid.

Leave the turnips on the stove without removing the lid for about 10-20 minutes or until you are ready to serve.  This process is called “DUM” in Hindi.  It allows all the flavors to marry and become one harmonious flavor. This is a very important step in traditional Indian cooking.

As a side note.  At the end of February 2019, I found out that I have high blood sugar.  For the past 4 months, I have been following a ketogenic lifestyle along with intermittent fasting.  I have been successful in controlling my blood sugar and I also lost 30 pounds.  I will write more about this in a separate post.  This recipe just happens to fit a keto lifestyle.  Turnips are a great substitute for potatoes on a keto program.  Try this recipe because it is delicious.  Let me know how it turns out in the comment section.

Kabocha Launji

This is a winter pumpkin dish my grandmother used to make.  It was one of my favorites.  She used to use a small deep orange pumpkin, I am using a Japanese pumpkin, called Kabocha squash, because that is what I have on hand.  I also like Kabocha because it has a creamy, sweet flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

Launji Ingredients

  • 1 medium Kabocha squash
  • 3 Tbsp of ghee ( if you want to keep it vegan use grape seed oil instead)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Starting at the 6 O’ Clock position, and then going counter clockwise the spices are as follows:

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 20 pods of green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder

PREP:

Launji Prep

  • Chop the Kobocha into large pieces.  Keep the skin on if the squash you are using has an edible skin.  There are lots of nutrients and fiber in the skin.
  • Using a spice grinder, grind the 20 cardamom pods into a fine powder.  The cardamom powder is shown in the small bowl on the lower right.
  • Toast the cumin seeds.  Let them cool to room temp. and grind into a fine powder.  The toasted cumin powder is shown in the small bowl on the lower left.

COOK:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Coat a large stainless steel skillet with grape seed oil or ghee.  Place on medium heat and get the oil hot.
  • Add fennel seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chili flakes.  Toast until seeds are slightly brown and you can smell their fragrant aroma.  Watch the seeds closely and stir frequently so the seeds don’t burn.
  • As soon as the seeds are browned, add the Kabocha.  Toss together and cook until the Kabocha is browned on the edges.  This should take about 7 minutes.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Once the Kabocha is browned add, the toasted cumin powder, cayenne powder and 1/2 of the cardamom powder.  Reserve the other 1/2 of the cardamom powder for later in the recipe.Launji Cook 7
  •  Toss together and let the spices toast for about 2 minutes
  • Add the cinnamon powder and the remaining cardamom powder

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Toss together and let cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss together.  Cover with the lid.  Turn the flame to low.  Cook until squash is tender.

Traditionally, this dish is served with plain home made yogurt, lentil soup and rotis.  You can buy the yogurt or make your own using My Mom’s Yogurt recipe.  The lentil soup is called dal, I posted my Autumn Dal (split mung beans with kale)  last year.

Today I served it with spicy pan-fried Black Drum that my hubby brought home 2 days ago.Launji with Black Drum

Here is a photo of his catch and how I prepared it.

The Black Drum is the large fish on the far right.  The 4 little fish are trout.  My hubby fileted the fish and I coated the filets with my Indian Spice Mix.

I then pan fried the filets and then de-glazed the pan with our local Texas, Messina Hof Gewurztraminer. I made a pan sauce by adding a pat of butter.  Gewurztraminer pairs well with spicy Indian food.

RECIPE TIP:  Use the wine you are going to drink to make the pan sauce.  This way the dish will match your wine.Launji with Black Drum and Wine

I am so lucky to have a hubby who catches fish for me.  I rarely get a Black Drum catch, so I was so glad to have it.

Hope you like this recipe.  Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Pan Seared Scallops and Squash

I first got the idea to make this dish when I was with my dad at a farmer’s market in Chicago.  I found these beautiful sunburst squash and I just had to use them.  I told dad that I would make scallops and squash for our dinner.  Dad told me that he doesn’t like scallops, but he was excited about the squash because it was so fresh and reminded him of an Indian squash called Tinda.  Tinda is also called “Indian Baby Pumpkin.”  I told him that I would season the scallops with Indian spices and cook them just right so that he would like them.

Dad was willing to try it, so here is the recipe.  He loved it, by the way, and now has become a scallops fan.

INGREDIENTS:

Scallops and Squash Ingredients

  • a dozen large scallops
  • 6 small squash (you can used any small squash that is just a bit bigger than the scallops in diameter.)  Here I have used patty pan squash.
  • 3 Tbsp Indian Spice Mix.  The Ingredients for the spice mix are shown in the small bowls.  For full list of ingredients and how to make the spice mix click on the link provided.
  • Grape seed oil to drizzle over the scallops and squash.
  • 2 pats of butter for cooking the scallops.
  • Freshly ground pink Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste.  My dad likes a lot of black pepper.

PREP:

Scallops and Squash Prep

  • Pat dry the scallops.  If there is a little piece of adductor muscle attachment on the scallop remove it.  It is called the foot of the scallop.  It peels off easily.  It is the tough tendon that attaches the scallop to its shell.  Please remove it because it is not edible.
  • Sprinkle on 1 Tbsp of Indian Spice Mix.  Drizzle on enough grape seed oil to coat.  Toss gently until well coated.  Do not add salt until right before cooking.  Place in the fridge, uncovered, while you prep the squash.
  • Cut the ends off of each squash.  Then cut in half.  You should have pieces of squash that are one inch thick.  Again sprinkle on the Indian Spice Mix.  Also add salt and pepper and coat with grape seed oil.  Let sit for 30 minutes before cooking.

COOK:

Scallops and Squash Cook

  • Start the squash first.  Coat a large skillet with a Tbsp of grape seed oil.  Place on medium-high heat.  When oil is hot place the squash slices in a single layer.  Cook until golden brown on first side and flip.  While the second side is cooking, start the scallops.  The second side should cook for 3 minutes.  At the end of 3 minutes turn off the heat.
  • Place two pats of butter in a non-stick skillet.  Place on medium-high heat.  While the butter comes up to a foam, season the scallops with salt and pepper.  When you see the butter foaming, placed the scallops in the skillet.  It will take two to three minutes to develop a dark crust.  Once the crust has formed, flip the scallops over and take them off the heat.  Wait 2 minutes for the carry over heat to cook the scallops through.

PLATING:

Scallops and Squash Plated

Above is a photo of my plating when I enjoyed this dish with my dad.  He likes red wine, so we served this with a Shiraz.  Shiraz is the original wine grape from the Middle East.  It goes very well with any spicy food.  In my opinion, it goes very well with Indian food.

When I recreated this dish at home, I came up with fancier plating.

Scallops and Squash Feature

I served it as a first course for a dinner party.  Each piece of squash is topped with a scallop and then garnished with a dot of home made mint chutney and a mint leaf.  I will post the recipe for the mint chutney in the future.

NOTE: On May 23, 2020 – I posted Carrot Tops & Coriander Chutney.   This is the same recipe as the mint chutney, but carrot tops have been substituted for mint.  

Hope you like it.  My dad loved it 😊💕

Please write your thoughts in the comments section.  I always appreciate your support and feedback. 😃