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.

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

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  • 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.)

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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 !!! 😃

My Grandma’s Yoghurt-A Story of Hope

I want to share with all of you, a yummy blackberry parfait and a story of HOPE, to help bring a smile as we go through these difficult times.

Blackberry Yoghurt Parfait Copy

Hope all of you are keeping safe during this world wide pandemic.  I have been keeping busy by catching up on all the tasks that I had not found time to do.  I have been losing track of the days as they pass by.  I just realized that I have not even taken a step out of my house in 10 days!!!

Ten days ago, when I went shopping for supplies so that we could shelter in place, the shelves in our local supermarket were bare.  There was not even one bottle of milk.  I asked my husband to go to a local dairy farm, The Jersey Barnyard, to see if he could find some milk to bring home so that I could make yoghurt.

I usually make yoghurt weekly, from the best milk that is available to me.  I still have the live yoghurt culture that my mom started.  I love keeping her culture alive because then I always have a part of her with me. 💕 Click on My Mom’s Yogurt, to get step by step instructions on how to make yoghurt.

My husband brought back a gallon of Raw Jersey Cow’s Milk from The Jersey Barnyard.  This milk had just come fresh from the cow.  Jersey cows have the best milk.  Jersey milk has a higher fat content (4.9%) than Holstein milk (3.7%), so it makes a creamier yoghurt.  In addition, Jersey milk has the original A2 protein instead of the mutated A1 protein.  A2 protein is easier to digest than A1 protein.   Lately, I have been using A2 milk from the grocery store, but this local, raw milk is even better.

It reminded me of the milk I used to go get with my grandma when I was a little girl.  We used to go to the dairy very early in the morning.  My grandma would inspect the cows.  She would especially look at their eyes to make sure they were clear, which meant that the cow was healthy.  Once she picked the cow she wanted milk from, she would give her bucket to the farmer to fill up with fresh, hand-stripped milk.  Straight from the cow into the bucket.  When she made yoghurt from this milk, it always had a thick layer of cream on top.  That creamy top layer was my absolute favorite.  I loved being the first one to break into a batch of freshly made yoghurt.

To my delight, when I made yoghurt from this farm fresh raw milk, it came out just like my grandma’s.  You can see the thick layer of cream in the photo below.

Grandma's Yoghurt Feature

Here are side by side photos of yoghurt made from the Promise Land Milk (left) and Raw Jersey Cow’s Milk (right).

You can see the difference in the two.  The raw Jersey milk yoghurt has a thick layer of cream on the top.  This is the creamiest, most flavorful yoghurt.  My husband has decided that this is the only yoghurt he wants from now on.  So the milk bought because there was none on the shelves, during this pandemic, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  It resurrected a childhood pleasure moment that I shared with my grandma.  I consider it A SIGN OF HOPE.

I used it to make a delicious low carb Blackberry Parfait.

Blackberry Yoghurt Parfait Copy

I layered my grandma’s yoghurt with blackberries, pistachios and my homemade chai spice mix.  You can substitute a mixture of fennel and cardamom powder for the chai spice mix.  The parfait tasted similar to a dessert that I used to eat when I was little, but this one has no sugar.  It fits my Ketogenic lifestyle.

Let me know if you have any STORIES OF HOPE.  We could all use a little cheering up😊

A big thank you to my Nani Ji (grandma) and my mom.  I will love them always.💖💖

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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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

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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.

 

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

I am preparing for my second cooking class/pop up supper club to support the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  The event is being held on September 28th, 2019.  The event name is “CookingWithLoveAndSpices For A Cause.  The feature image shows my new event logo.  The center of the logo is a Lotus Mandala in dedication to my mom.  My mom’s name was Kamal, which means Lotus flower.  The Lotus flower is a symbol of divine beauty, purity, enlightenment and self-regeneration because it raises from the muddy waters unstained.  Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul.

Let me know in the comment section what you think of my logo.

CWLAS JPEG Version

Here is the menu for the September 28th, 2019 cooking class/pop up supper club.

Cooking Class 2 Menu

This time I am featuring elegant Indian Cuisine paired with Texan wines from Messina Hof.  My husband decided to stick with the Messina Hof wines because they pair well with Indian Food.

I am doing this event on September 28th because September is Hunger Action Month-a month where people all over America stand together with Feeding America and the nationwide network of food banks to fight hunger.  It’s a month to take the problem of hunger personally, and then be moved to take action on being an active part of the solution to end hunger in our own communities.  My goal for this event is to have fun while working to end hunger in Bastrop County.

My first cooking class/pop supper club in July, was a trial event at home.  This event is bigger and will be held at the cooking school house on the ranch.  Tickets will be sold on Eventbrite starting on September 6th.

For a cause event

There will be 20 spots open.  You can chose to come to the cooking class and/or dinner.  Last time, some people only wanted to come to the dinner and that is just fine.

Indian food takes a bit of prep work, so I am doing the event over a two day period.  Friday, September 27th will be prep day.  We will start prep at 3 pm.  Prep is open to cooking class students who would like to help and also learn a few extra cooking tips.  We will also have 2 volunteer staff from the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry to help us.  Then on Saturday, September 28th cooking class will be from noon to 4 pm.  Cocktails will be served at 6 pm and dinner will be served at 6:30 pm.

I decided to have a two hour break between cooking and cocktails in case anyone wants to take a rest or wants to have time to freshen up before dinner.  During my first event, some people requested a break so I am making accommodations for that.   In any case, it will give us extra time if we run behind.

Again, the menu is both delicious and gluten free.  The appetizer, Aubergine Kachri, is a dish my mom used to make, especially for parties.  It is one of my dad’s favorite dishes.  The sauce for the dish is made with My Mom’s Yogurt.

There will be a trio of curries to suit different dietary needs.  Or you can sample all three if you like.

I am very fortunate to have a local vendor sponsor me this time.  The Bastrop Cattle Company produces grass fed, chemical free beef.  They have been generous enough to donate the oxtail for the oxtail curry.  I have made this for other’s in the past with rave reviews.  Oxtail curry is one of my signature dishes, so I was very excited to be able to get such high quality product for my cooking event.

The pilot event in July was very successful and fun.  This one will be a bit more work, but I have help from Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry volunteers.  I will let you know how this one goes.

Bye! for now 🙂

 

My First Event–helping to raise money for the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry (photo by Karen Kahan)

Every year the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry (BCEFP) hosts the EMPTY BOWL PROJECT to raise funds for our local food bank.  It is their biggest fundraiser for the year.  Local restaurants and caterers volunteer to make soup to be served at the event.  People in the community buy tickets to taste the soups and vote for their favorites.

In addition, local artists create ceramic bowls that are part of a silent auction.

All proceeds from the silent auction and the tickets go directly to our emergency food pantry.  The goal for this year was to raise $30,000.  I am very happy to report that we exceeded our goal.  700 people attended at $20 a ticket–so that was $14,000.  The rest came from the silent auction, donations, and business and individual sponsorships.  It was so much fun!!!  Thank you to everyone who contributed.

This year, I was asked if I would like to participate by serving my Autumn Dal (split mung beans with kale).  I have never made soup for 700 people, so I was a bit nervous if it would come out right.  But I went for it and said yes.  If you read my welcome page, you will see that I promised that there would be some community projects associated with this blog.  I have always wanted to give back to my community, so I was thrilled to have my first opportunity to help.  I will be doing more projects with the BCEFP.  I will blog about them as I do them.

The timing of the 2109 EMPTY BOWL PROJECT was very special to me.  It just so happened that my family was visiting me from Chicago during the week that the event was taking place.  The Empty Bowl Project turned into 4 generations of soup for me.

BCEBP DEDICATION The recipe started with my Nani-ji (grandmother), then my mom, then me and now I am passing it onto my niece, Leilani.  She wanted to help me make the soup and I was grateful for her help.  Leilani painstakingly spent two hours cutting up the greens.

BCEPB PREP LK

I really enjoyed making the soup with Leilani.  She was so eager to learn and help.

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My dad helped me serve the soup.

BCEBP DAD

It was a HEARTWARMING family and community experience.  I look forward to doing it again next year.