Amritsari Masala Fish

My mother’s side of the family is from Amritsar in Northern India.  Many people in India are vegetarians, so that is how I was raised.  No meat, chicken or fish was cooked in the house.  My mom’s younger brother used to like to eat meat outside the home.  My uncle used to put me on his scooter and take me with him on his meat eating excursions.  He would go to a road side stand and order Amritsari Masala Pork Chops and Fish.  He would buy me Tutti Frutti Ice Cream and Pineapple Cream Pastry in exchange for a promise to not tell anyone at home that he had gone out to eat meat.  You see, my grandmother would not have approved of our culinary outing.

The culinary excursions my uncle took me on were definitely a high point of my childhood.  It was so much fun being with my fun loving uncle, riding on his scooter and eating wonderful food.  Today my uncle is a vegetarian and I have become a pescatarian.  When I visit Amritsar next year, I will go back to the road side stand with my uncle, but this time I will have the Amritsari Masala Fish.  Of course, followed by the Tutti Frutti and the Pineapple Pastry.

Here is my recreation of the recipe.  In the feature photo I served it on top of Spicy Pan Fried Okra (Bhindi Masala).  It can be served over any vegetable or grain.  In the photo below I have served it over spiced cauliflower and carrots.

Amritsari Masala Fish Feature 1

INGREDIENTS:  Four Servings

  • 4 pieces of firm white fish.  I used Tilapia loins here.
  • Enough Indian Spice Mix to coat the fish.  If you prepare 1/2 cup of spice mix you should have plenty.
  • 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil to coat the fish and 2 tablespoons to coat the non stick skillet.
  • juice of 1 lime
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

PREPPING THE FISH:

Amritsari Masala Fish Prep

  • Rinse the fish.  Pat it dry with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper and Indian Spice Mix over the fish
  • Drizzle on a tablespoon of grape seed oil
  • Rub in the spices and flip the fish.  Repeat procedure on the second side.
  • Cover with a plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

I have kept the spiced, uncooked fish covered with a plastic wrap in the refrigerator for a day or more.  If the fish is very fresh, it will keep well.  The spices prevent it from going bad.  This is a good way to prep protein ahead of meal time.

I have also used this same method to prepare, chicken, pork chops, lamb and turkey for my husband.  This Indian Spice Mix is very versatile.

COOKING THE FISH:

  • Coat a large non stick skillet with 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil
  • Turn the flame to medium-high and let the oil get hot.  When the oil is ready it will shimmer.
  • Place the spiced fish pieces in the pan.  You should hear a sizzle.
  • Leave the fish alone to let the spicy crust form.  You will see the fish turn opaque halfway up the sides.  This is the time to turn the fish.  DO NOT KEEP MOVING THE FISH, TURN IT ONLY ONCE.
  • Pour over the juice of 1 lime.  Cover the pan with a lid.  Turn the flame to low and cook for about 2 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Transfer cooked fish on to a platter.  Pour any pan juices over the fish.  Serve immediately.

RECIPE NOTES:

  • I have also used this recipe to make Indian Fish Tacos.  I will post the fish taco recipe the next time I make it.
  • If you are using this recipe with other proteins, please adjust your cooking time so that a good spice crust forms and the protein is cooked to your liking.

 

Avocado Mediterranean Salad

I found some avocados on sale at the Indian grocery store in Austin.  This is the first time that I ever saw avocados at the Indian grocery store, so I was very surprised to see them.  What surprised me even more was the low, low price.  Only 38 cents a piece!!!

When I got home, my neighbor had delivered some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from his garden.  I already had the mint and cilantro growing in my sun room.  I feel very lucky to have such wonderful ingredients.  All these fresh ingredients inspired me to make this delightful Avocado Mediterranean Salad.

Ingredients:

Avocado Med. Salad Ingredients

  • 6 avocados
  • 4 Persian cucumbers
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 Serrano chile
  • 1 large lime
  • 1 bunch of large mint leaves
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (some people really don’t like cilantro.  If you are one of these people, use flat leaf parsley instead.)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Prep:

Avocado Med. Salad Prep

  • Cut the avocados in half.  Remove the pit.  Peel them, the peel comes off easily just with the fingers.  Sprinkle them with a little lime juice so they don’t turn brown.
  • Dice the Persian cucumbers skin and all.  This should yield 2 cups.
  • Remove the seeds from the Roma tomatoes and dice them.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Finely dice the red onion.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Mince the Serrano chile.
  • Tear the leaves off the cilantro.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Tear the mint leaves into small pieces.  This should yield 1/4 cup.
  • Squeeze the juice of one large lime.  This should yield 1/4 cup.

Combine all of the above ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE AVOCADOS.  Add salt and pepper  to taste. You can also adjust the acidity to your liking by adding more lime juice if you need it.  This is your Mediterranean Salad.

Avocado Med. Salad

The Mediterranean Salad can be enjoyed on its own, but it makes an elegant and delicious presentation stuffed into an avocado.

Avocado Med. Salad Plated

 

Recipe Note:

If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, use regular cucumbers, but you will have to peel and de-seed them.  Another good alternative is hot house (also called English) cucumbers.  The English cucumbers are seedless and also do not need to be peeled.

Please let me know what you think by commenting below.

Pesto Eggs “Benedict”

This recipe was inspired by my friend, Prashant.  He gave me this idea when I was visiting him at his home.  He introduced me to the easy egg poacher available at Walmart.  Makes a delicious, figure friendly breakfast or brunch.

Ingredients: Single Serving (double or triple as you need it)

Pesto Eggs Benedict Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices of tomato (these came from a neighboring farm)
  • 2 table spoons of the best olive oil you can get
  • 2 table spoons of pine nuts
  • 1 squeeze of lime (pesto usually does not have lime in it.  I used a squeeze of lime to add the tangy, citrus note of the Hollandaise that is served as part of a traditional eggs benedict.)
  • 2 eggs (these came from my chickens)
  • 1/4 clove of garlic (just a touch of raw garlic suffices.  Too much raw garlic will overpower the rest of the ingredients in the pesto)
  • 2 table spoons of grated parmesan (grate it yourself if possible)
  • 1 small bunch of the freshest basil leaves you can find (I grew these in my sunroom)
  • a pinch of coarse salt ( I used fleur de sel.  Kosher salt will also work.)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Making the Pesto:  I prefer the texture of the pesto that results from using a traditional mortar and pestle.  You can use a small food processor if you like.

Pesto eggs Benedict Prep 1

  • Place the pinch of coarse salt in the pestle along with the 1/4 clove of garlic.
  • Crush the salt and garlic together to form a paste.
  • Add the pine nuts and continue to grind and form a paste.
  • Bit by bit tear in the basil leaves and continue to grind and incorporate into the paste.
  • Add the parmesan and continue to incorporate.
  • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue grinding to form an emulsion.
  • Add a dash of freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of lime.

The pesto is now ready.

Assembling the dish:

Pesto Eggs benedict Prep 2

  • Using a serrated knife, cut 2 thick slices of tomato.
  • Place them on a plate and spread a thick layer of pesto on each slice.
  • Poach two eggs.
  • Place one poached egg on each slice of tomato.
  • Top the egg with a dollop of pesto.

These are the first tomatoes I received this season.  I thought this was a great way to use them.  Let me know if you like this idea.  Also if you have any suggestions or questions leave a comment below.  ENJOY:)

Kale Feta Egg Breakfast

My neighbor brought me some fresh kale and white onions from his garden.  His beautiful produce inspired me to make a breakfast skillet.

Ingredients:

KFE Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of well-washed kale.  Pull the leaves off the stems.  Tear them into bite-sized pieces.  Don’t throw the stems away.  Finely chop them and use them like you would use chopped celery.
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 eggs.  These lovelies came from my chickens.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes.  Use more if you want to spice it up.
  • 1 fresh green chili, minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano.  Crush the oregano leaves with your hands just before using.  Crushing them allows the oils to be released.
  • 4 ounces of feta cheese.  Use the feta you like best.  I used French feta which is very creamy and made of sheep’s milk.
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook:

Coat a large heavy duty stainless steel skillet with the olive oil.  Add the diced onion, diced kale stems, minced garlic, chili and oregano.

KFE Cook 1

Sauté over medium-low heat until light brown.  Add the tomato paste, blend it in with a wooden spoon and continue to sauté for another minute.

KFE Cook 2KFE Cook 3

Add the kale leaves.  Do not stir.  Cover with a lid and let steam for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid.  The kale leaves will have turned bright green.

KFE Cook 4KFE Cook 5

Stir the steamed kale leaves into the onion mixture that is sitting below.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Using your wooden spoon, make 6 spaces, 1 for each egg.  Break your 6 eggs open and place one in each space.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each egg.  Cover with a lid and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.

KFE Cook 6KFE Cook 7

Crumble the feta cheese on top.  Cover with a lid and let the cheese get soft for 1 minute.

KFE Cook 8

This makes a great anytime meal.  My husband and I enjoyed it for our Sunday brunch.  Not only is this dish delicious, it is also gluten free and figure friendly.

 

 

Buckwheat Pilaf

Ingredients:  Serves 6-8

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  • 1 cup roasted buckwheat (commonly called Kasha in Russian)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 medium onion (this one I got from our local farmer’s market)
  • 2 chili peppers ( I used one red and one green given to me by my neighbor, Linda)
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic (this also came from our local farmer’s market)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds (must use black, don’t use the yellow ones for this recipe because they have a different flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil ( you can also use any other neutral flavored oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep:

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  1. Mince the ginger (wash well if you want to leave the skin on), garlic and chilies
  2. Dice the onion
  3. Cover the buckwheat with water.  Let it sit while you are sauteing the onions, ginger, garlic and chilies.

Cook:

  1. Place the grape seed oil in a deep pan.  Turn the stove to a medium heat. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, chilies, black mustard seeds and cumin.20160723_170749
  2. Saute until light brown (about 5 minutes)20160723_172742
  3. Drain off the water that the buckwheat that has been soaking in.  Add the drained buckwheat to the sauteed onion mixture.

     

  4. Add one cup of water.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir.  Taste a bit of the water.  You know you have enough salt when the taste of the salt in the water is to your liking.  Cover and turn the heat to low.  Cook for about 10 minutes.20160723_173153
  5. Remove the lid.  The water should be almost gone. Add the peas.

     

  6. Stir and replace the cover.  Cook for another five minutes.  Turn the heat off and let sit until you are ready to serve.

Recipe Note:

This is a twist on my mom’s classic Indian Recipe made with white Basmati Rice

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I was introduced to roasted buckwheat by my husband.  I tried this recipe with the roasted buckwheat and loved its nutty flavor.  Upon doing some research, I found out that buckwheat is a low glycemic index food.  Meaning that it releases very little insulin into your body.  Its tastes like a grain but it acts like a vegetable.  It does not spike your blood sugar levels.  Thus it is good for diabetics and won’t cause you to gain weight.  It is very delicious, nutritious and happens to be gluten free.  It also cooks a lot faster than rice.

You can also use almost any other grain (farro, brown rice, pearl barley, quinoa, etc…) to make this recipe.  The amount of water  and cooking times will vary depending on the grain you use.