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. 😃

 

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.

 

Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes

This is one of my favorite recipes.  I look forward to fresh summer Roma tomatoes so I can make this dish.  I learned how to make these from my Italian neighbor, Jeanette.  When we lived in California, my husband used to grow our vegetables.  I used to take the extra veggies to Jeanette.  In return, she taught me how to make her Italian dishes.  She is the one who introduced me to Italian cooking.

This recipe is very simple and versatile.  I put the roasted tomatoes on my cheese board when throwing a wine tasting party.  They are great with a full bodied red wine.  I also use them in pasta dishes and sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 Roma tomatoes (these were grown by my neighbor, Billy.  I think they are absolutely beautiful)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (mine is in a spray bottle.  Makes it easier to use.  If you don’t have a spray bottle you can drizzle it on with a small spoon.)
  • 1 tablespoon of my Italian Spice Mix
  • sea salt to taste

PREP:

  • Cut the Roma tomatoes in half
  • Use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds and place them on a foil lined baking sheet
  • Sprinkle them with sea salt and my Italian Spice Mix
  • Drizzle on the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil

COOK:  Preheat your oven to 400 F.  Place the tomatoes in the oven and bake them till they are browned.  This takes 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Arrange the cooked tomatoes in a bowl or platter.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with grated Romano cheese and fresh basil for a finishing touch.

Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes Feature

 

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.

 

Spicy Pan Fried Okra (Bhindi Masala)

I love okra.  My neighbor, Billy brought me this lovely okra from his garden.  I decided to make Bhindi Masala.  The okra in this dish is not at all slimy.  This is a classic Northern Indian recipe.  The original recipe uses dried pomegranate seeds instead of tomatoes for tartness.  Tomatoes are native to South America so the original Indian recipes do not have tomato.  My neighbor also brought me these amazing tomatoes, so I decided to use them.  These days tomatoes are used in many Indian recipes.

INGREDIENTS:

Bhindi Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of fresh okra
  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 1 inch of fresh turmeric
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala (this is a hot Indian spice mix.  I make my own, but you can buy it at an Indian grocery store)
  • 10 sprigs of cilantro leaves
  • grapeseed oil for cooking
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Bhindi Prep

  • Slice okra into thin discs.  Discard the stems.
  • Slice the onion into long thin slices
  • Pull the cilantro leaves off their stems
  • Finely dice the ginger.  If the skin is fresh leave it on.  If the skin is dried out, peel the ginger.
  • Dice the tomatoes
  • Finely mince the green chili

FRYING THE OKRA:  Frying the okra on high heat burns off the slime.  The result is an okra dish that is not at all slimy.

  • Coat a heavy non-stick skillet with grapeseed oil
  • Turn the heat on high and let the oil heat up till it is very hot
  • Add the okra in a single layer.  You may have to cook the okra in batches.  Coat the pan with more grapeseed oil after frying each batch.  If you put more than a layer of okra in the pan it will steam instead of fry.
  • Fry the okra until it is dark brown and the slime has burned off.  Let the okra sit for 4-5 minutes.  Then stir.  Then let it sit for 4-5 minutes and then stir again.  Keep doing this until no more slime appears when you stir.
  • Remove the okra from the pan into a glass bowl.  Let it sit while you make the spicy base.

COOKING THE SPICY BASE:

Bhindi Cook 1

  • Place the onions, ginger, and chilies in a large, heavy stainless steel skillet.
  • Grate in the fresh turmeric.  I love the flavor of fresh turmeric.  You can buy turmeric when it is available  and store it in the freezer.  Pull out a piece 5 minutes before you are ready to grate it.  It grates well when it is fresh or partially frozen.  Don’t thaw it out fully because it will get mushy.  I usually buy fresh turmeric at the Indian grocery store.  I have on occasion seen it at my local supermarket, but it is more expensive than at the Indian grocery store.  You can also use powdered turmeric, but it will be added later along with the garam masala.  Do not add it at this point because the powder will burn.
  • Add a little grapeseed oil and sauté the aromatics, on medium heat, till the onions turn golden.
  • Make a hot spot in the center and add the tomato paste
  • Cook the tomato paste for a minute and then stir it in

Bhindi Cook 5

  • Stir in the garam masala and let it toast for 1 minute.  If you are using powdered turmeric instead of fresh, add it along with the garam masala.
  • Add the tomatoes and cilantro leaves
  • Stir and let the tomatoes cook down for 5 minutes
  • Add the fried okra
  • Stir and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

Transfer to a platter and serve family style.  It is usually eaten with rotis, dal and yogurt.  I have not yet posted my recipe for rotis (an Indian flat bread), but here are the links for Autumn Dal (split mung beans with kale) and My Mom’s Yogurt.

Bhindi masala can also be served as a side dish with any meat or fish.  I like topping it with Amritsari Masala Fish.

Amritsari Masala Fish IG

The dish as served above makes a yummy, satisfying and figure-friendly meal.  ENJOY !!!

 

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.

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.