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:

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  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • 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.

Hope you like it.  My dad loved it 😊💕

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

 

Yogurt Fig Parfait

This past July my neighbor brought me fresh figs from his tree.  I glazed these figs and I use them in many recipes.   The first recipe I posted was my Fig Fillo Bites

Fig Fillo Bites 3

I had some glazed figs leftover so I used them to make this parfait.  I also used them to make frozen fig cubes for a cocktail my husband created, called Texan Raspberry 75

INGREDIENTS:  (Serves two.  Double or quadruple the recipe as needed.)

Yogurt Fig Parfait Ingredients

  • 8 glazed figs with their glazing liquid (see my recipe, Fig Fillo Bites for step by step instructions on how to glaze the figs.)  NOTE:  There are 4 figs per serving.
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt.  You can buy it or make your own.  I have made my own by using My Mom’s Yogurt recipe.  NOTE:  There is 1/2 cup of yogurt per serving.
  • 1 tablespoon of raw shelled pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar (you can also use honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground fennel seed powder (you can make the powder by grinding up fennel seeds in a spice grinder)

ASSEMBLING THE PARFAIT: in your favorite parfait or martini glass

  • Place a teaspoon of glazing liquid and one fig in the bottom of the glass.
  • Next place a dollop of Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with pistachios and a pinch of fennel powder.  Drizzle on a bit of agave nectar.
  • Next place two glazed figs with a bit of the glazing liquid.  Add more pistachios, fennel powder and agave nectar.
  • Add more yogurt.  Sprinkle with more pistachios, fennel powder and agave nectar.
  • Place the fourth fig in the center of the parfait and top off with a single pistachio for a pretty presentation.

Yogurt Fig Parfait Feature

Fruit parfaits like this are simple, delicious and impressive looking.  They are also very versatile.  Choose any seasonal fruit you like and any spice you prefer.  I have served yogurt/fruit parfaits for breakfast, brunch, a snack and even dessert.  As an added bonus, they happen to be nutritious and figure-friendly.

Please try this recipe and let me know your feedback in the comments.

 

Aubergine Kachri (spicy slices of sautéed eggplant served with a yogurt mint sauce)

INGREDIENTS FOR THE EGGPLANT SLICES:

  • In this recipe, I used 5 medium sized eggplants because that is what my neighbor brought to me from his garden.  If you buy eggplants from the store, you will need 2 large ones.
  • 1/2 a cup of my Indian Spice Mix
  • enough kosher salt to lightly sprinkle over the eggplant slices
  • grapeseed oil to sauté the eggplant

INGREDIENTS FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE:

Kachri Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup of plain yogurt.  You can buy it from the store or make some of My Mom’s Yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of Labneh.  Labneh is a yogurt cheese made by removing the water content of yogurt.  It is basically extra thick Greek yogurt.  It lends a tangy flavor.  If you can’t find it, use sour cream instead.
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mint
  • 1 small fresh mint leaf to garnish each eggplant slice.
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly toasted and ground cumin seeds.  I will show you how to prepare the toasted cumin powder  later in the recipe.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black salt.  Black salt is an Indian salt with a high mineral content.  If you don’t have this substitute your favorite salt.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried mango powder.  In India, this is called Aamchoor.  It is the dried skins of small green mangoes.  It lends a complex tart flavor.  You can buy it in an Indian grocery store.  If you can’t find it, substitute lemon juice or Sumac.

PREPARING THE TOASTED CUMIN POWDER:

  • Place a teaspoon of cumin seeds in a small sauce pan.  Turn flame to low and toast until you can smell the cumin.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
  • Transfer the toasted cumin seeds to a glass bowl and let them cool to room temperature.
  • Place then in a coffee or spice grinder and whiz until you have a fine powder.

I keep two spice grinders in my kitchen.  One for sweet spices, like the ones I use to make my chai masala, and another for hot and savory spices.  This way I don’t have to clean my spice grinders.  I have had the same grinders for over 25 years and they are still working!!!

PREPARING THE EGGPLANT:

  • Using a serrated knife, cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch discs
  • Lightly sprinkle them with kosher salt on both sides
  • Place in a glass container and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.  This allows excess water to be extracted from the eggplant.  This process also makes the eggplant less able to absorb oil.
  • Remove the eggplant slices from the glass container and place onto paper towel sheets to dry off excess liquid.  Discard the liquid at the bottom of the glass container.
  • At this point place the salted and dried eggplant slices, in a single layer, into a clean glass container

 

Kachri Sliced

  • drizzle on some grapeseed oil and sprinkle with my Indian Spice Mix
  • turn over the slices and repeat on the other side

Kachri Spiced

  • Add another layer of eggplant slices and coat with oil and spice mix.  Repeat until all the eggplant slices are used up.

Kachri Marinating

  • Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.

COOKING THE EGGPLANT:

  • Coat a large non-stick skillet with grapeseed oil
  • Turn the flame to medium and get the oil hot
  • Once the oil is hot add a layer of spiced eggplant slices.  Do not crowd the pan.  Cook the slices till they are golden brown on the first side.  Flip and repeat until the slice are brown and crispy on both sides.
  • The cooking time is longer than you think.  It is 10 minutes per side.  Once the eggplant is brown on both sides.  Test it with a fork.  Once it is fork tender remove it to a glass baking dish.
  • Continue this process until all the eggplant is cooked.  Keep placing each slice in the glass baking dish once it is cooked.

When I am cooking a lot of eggplant, I use two pans on the stove.  This saves time.

PREPARING THE YOGURT SAUCE:

  • Place all the ingredients, except the fresh mint leaves, into a glass bowl and stir.
  • Taste the salt and adjust the salt to your liking.

ASSEMBLY:  Here I have served the dish family style by arranging the sautéed eggplant slices on a platter.  Garnish each slice with a dollop of yogurt sauce and a fresh mint leaf.

Kachri Feauture

This is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant.  The spices make the dish very flavorful.  The slow sauté makes the outside of the eggplant crispy while the inside stays creamy.  Don’t rush the sauté time because the slow cooking is essential to getting the right texture.  The yogurt sauce adds tang and creaminess.  The mint tops it off with a pop of freshness.

When I am having a sit down dinner party, I put 4 eggplant slices on a salad plate and serve it as the appetizer course.  It can also be served as a main dish for a vegetarian.

I appreciate your feedback, so please leave a comment to let me know your thoughts.  ENJOY !!!

Braised Cauliflower with Sweet Potato

This is another classic, cruciferous veggie recipe from the Punjab region in the north of India,  but I have put a twist on it by using purple sweet potato instead of the small red potatoes that my grandmother used to use.  I had these beautiful purple sweet potatoes so I couldn’t resist using them.  My recipes often evolve depending on what ingredients I happen to have on hand.

INGREDIENTS:

Braised Cauliflower and Swee Potato Ingredients

  • 1 large head or 2 small heads of cauliflower.  I have two small heads here that were grown by my neighbor, Billy
  • 2 purple sweet potatoes (you can use whatever potato you have on hand)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2 green chilies
  • 10 curry leaves (optional, if you don’t have these leave them out)
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • juice of 1 small lemon (in the photo the yellow cube in the center is a cube of frozen lemon juice.  When I get a lot of lemons from my neighbor’s tree, I juice them and freeze them into cubes for use later.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Braised Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Prep

  • Using a paring knife, break up the cauliflower into medium sized florets
  • Slice the purple sweet potatoes into disks
  • Peel the ginger and mince it
  • Finely mince the green chilies
  • Remove the curry leaves from their stems.  The curry leaves are used whole and they are edible.
  • Remove the cilantro leaves from their stems.  Set aside a handful of leaves for garnish.  Chop up the remaining leaves and stems to use them in the cooking process.

COOK:

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  • Coat a heavy stainless steel skillet with grapeseed oil.  Turn the flame to medium and heat the oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the cauliflower and purple sweet potato first.  Then add the, ginger, chilies, curry leaves, cilantro and all three seeds.
  • Toss everything together and sauté until the seeds are toasted and the vegetables are slightly brown.  This should take about 5 minutes.
  • At this point, sprinkle on the powdered spices and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Sauté for another 5 minutes so that the spices have a chance to toast.
  • Now add the lemon juice.  Turn the flame to low and cover with a lid.  Cook covered until the veggies are tender.
  • Once the veggie are cooked, turn off the flame.  Taste the dish and adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.  Keep the lid on till you are ready to serve.
  • When you are ready to serve, remove the lid and toss in the reserved cilantro leaves for garnish.

Transfer the veggies to a serving platter.  We usually serve it family style.  If I am throwing a formal dinner party, I will serve it as part of a plated dish.  It can be served with any protein you like.  Below it is served with my Amritsari Masala Fish.

Amritsari Masala Fish Feature 1

Most Indian people are vegetarian, so they serve it with dal and plain yogurt.  I have posted my Autumn Dal recipe if you would like to refer to it.  You can buy yogurt from the store, or if you would like to make your own yogurt see my  Mom’s Yogurt recipe.

I would appreciate your feedback.  Please leave a comment to let me know your thoughts.

 

 

Curried Cabbage-Punjabi Style

This is a classic recipe from the Punjab region in the north of India.  I am Punjabi, so we eat this dish often.  Curried cabbage is delicious and takes very little time to prepare.  It can be served as a side dish with any protein you like.  Traditionally, it is served with dal (see my Autumn Dal recipe), yogurt (My Mom’s Yogurt) and roti.

INGREDIENTS:

Punjabi Curried Cabbage Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized head of green cabbage
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2 green chilies
  • 10 curry leaves (optional,  if you don’t have these leave them out)
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • juice of 1 small lemon (in the photo the yellow cube in the center is a cube of frozen lemon juice.  When I get a lot of lemons from my neighbor’s tree, I juice them and freeze them into cubes.)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Punjabi Curried Cabbage Prep

  • Cut the cabbage in half, remove the core and then chop it coarsely.
  • Peel the ginger and mince it.
  • Finely mince the green chilies (I use them seeds and all.  If you want the dish less spicy you can discard the seeds.)
  • Remove the curry leaves from their stems (the curry leaves are used whole and they are edible.  Unlike bay leaves, they do not need to be removed.)
  • Remove the cilantro leaves from their stems.  Set aside a handful of leaves for garnish.  The remaining leaves and chopped up stems will be used in the cooking process.

COOK:

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  • Coat a heavy stainless steel skillet with grapeseed oil.  Turn the flame to medium and heat up the oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the cabbage first.  Then add the chilies, ginger, curry leaves, cilantro and all three seeds.
  • Toss everything together and sauté until the seeds are toasted and the cabbage is slightly brown.  This should take about 5 minutes.
  • At this point, add the tomato paste, powdered spices and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Sauté for another 5 minutes so that the tomato paste and spices have a chance to toast.
  • Now add the lemon juice.  Turn the flame to low and cover with a lid.  Cook covered until the cabbage is tender.  My husband likes his cabbage a little crunchy.  Most Indian people like the cabbage to be soft.
  • Once the cabbage is cooked to your liking, turn off the flame.  Taste the dish and adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.  Keep the lid on till you are ready to serve.
  • When you are ready to serve, remove the lid and toss in the reserved cilantro leaves for garnish.

Transfer the cabbage to a serving platter.  We usually serve it family style.

Punjabi Curried Cabbage IG

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  My neighbor brought me a whole bunch of cruciferous vegetables.  These green leafy veggies are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber.  When prepared correctly, they are delicious.  My husband loves all of them.  Below is a photo.

Winter Garden Vegetables

I will be posting additional cruciferous veggie recipes in the future.

 

Eggplant Bharta (curried mashed eggplant)

Bharta served with Rotis and My Mom’s Yogurt

Ingredients:  Serves 6-8

20160704_201500
2 large eggplants stuffed with garlic cloves

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  • 2 large eggplants (these were grown by my neighbor, Billy)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 chili pepper, minced
  • 3 inches of ginger root, minced
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • grape seed oil (or any other neutral flavored oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep:

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The onion and tomato are diced.  The ginger and chili are minced.

Prepping the mashed eggplant:

20160704_201500
2 large eggplants stuffed with garlic cloves
  • Separate the garlic head into cloves.  Peel the skin from each clove and cut it in half lengthwise.
  • Cut slits into the eggplants and insert a piece of garlic into each slit.
  • Rub each eggplant with grape see oil.  Place in a baking dish and roast at 450 F until the skin becomes charred and the flesh is soft.  NOTE: you will have to turn the eggplants over during the roasting process so that the skin is charred on all sides.

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  • Cut of the ends, score them with a fork and set aside for later.20160726_184528
  • Discard as many of the seeds as you can and scoop out the flesh.20160726_200158
  • Use a chef’s knife to finely mince the flesh.  DO NOT USE A FOOD PROCESSOR because it will make the eggplant gummy.20160726_200248

Cook:

  1.  Coat a large skillet with grape seed oil.  Add the onion, ginger, chili, black mustard seed , cumin and chili flakes.20160726_201150
  2. Turn the stove to medium and saute until brown (about 8 minutes)20160726_203620
  3. Add the garam masala and tumeric.  Let the spices toast for about a minute.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes.  Saute until the tomatoes are soft.20160726_204008
  5. Add the mashed eggplant and the 2 eggplant ends (when we were little my sisters and I would fight over the eggplant ends.  So mom made sure there was one for each of us.)  Saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the peas.  Let them saute for 2 minutes.

I have served the Eggplant Bharta with Rotis and My Mom’s Yogurt.  This is how my mom served it.  You can use this as a side dish with anything you like.