Green Beans Palya (South Indian Stir-Fry) VIDEO

Recently, I was invited by Adrienne Stortz, host of XOXOCooks to share the recipe for green beans palya, a South Indian stir-fry of green beans, spices, coconut and lemon.  Adrienne was a lot of fun to film with and love her edit regarding curry leaves – have to watch to see what I mean:)

You can watch more of Adrienne’s cooking videos here.

 
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Teaching at The Brooklyn Kitchen on April 3rd & 22nd

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I’ll be teaching South Indian home cooking recipes at The Brooklyn Kitchen in both their Brooklyn and Manhattan locations. You can sign up for the Brooklyn class that will be taking place on April 3rd here and the Manhattan class that will be taking place on April 22nd here.

I’ll be giving a sneak peak of recipes that will be included in my upcoming cookbook and also serving Brooklyn Delhi achaars along with the meal.

Hope to see you there!

 
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Writing My First Cookbook!

FromBangaloreToBrooklynWhen I started writing the ABCD’s of Cooking in 2009, I had one goal: to document Indian-inspired recipes I made in my kitchen using ingredients from my farm share.  The blog led me to do a lot of things I never imagined doing in food like hosting supper clubs, teaching classes, starting my own business and now writing a cookbook.

Along the way, I realized I have an insatiable curiosity for my family’s recipes from India and a desire to teach them to those around me.  The last few years, I have been concentrating on learning South Indian recipes from my mom’s hometown of Bangalore and making them my own by using ingredients that are local to me.  What I love the most is applying these cooking techniques to create brand new dishes that I serve at some of my pop-up events like my fresh lettuce dosa wraps with potato palya and coconut chutney or zucchini majjige huli (green yogurt curry).  Over the years, I’ve found that students are drawn to my cooking classes because they’re looking for new types of vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free recipes that don’t lack flavor, and South Indian dishes hit all those notes.  It’s those recipes from my classes and events and more that will be going into my cookbook.

I’m happy to announce to you that I will be writing From Bangalore to Brooklyn with Ten Speed Press / Random House, due out March 2016.  I’m excited to be working with Ten Speed in particular because they have published many of my most treasured cookbooks like Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks, The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia, Kansha by Elizabeth Andoh and Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi.

I have a lot of people to thank for getting to this point, namely my mother for being generous with her knowledge of our family’s recipes – sitting with me on the phone and in person on several occasions translating recipes from my grandmother and great aunts, many times from faded Aerogram letters decades old.  My Auntie Asha and Auntie Karen have been role models for me too in the kitchen and have always been kind in answering questions I have about recipes.  I am grateful for the friends I have made in the Brooklyn food community who encouraged me to write this book proposal and helped me tremendously throughout the process: Cathy Erway, Allison Robicelli, Nicole Taylor, Diana Kuan, to name a few.

And if it weren’t for my agent Stacey Glick at Dystel, I don’t think I’d have anything to announce in the first place. She believed in my ideas and work from our very first conversation and took a genuine interest in selling the proposal to a publishing house that shared my vision.  I’m thrilled to be working with Melissa Moore at Ten Speed on this book.

Last but not least, thank you to my fiance Ben who is forever encouraging me to do things I never thought I could do and for knowing just what to say when I am feeling overwhelmed (when those things actually start to happen).

To my readers, many of you who have been with me since the beginning in 2009, I want to say that I’m going to try my best to post as often as I can while I am writing the book.  I may have lapses here and there so I encourage you to sign up for my mailing list to get updated when new posts are live.

To provide a sneak peek of recipes that will be included in the book, I will be teaching cooking classes in Brooklyn and Manhattan at several locations: Brooklyn Kitchen, Natural Gourmet Institute, Institute of Culinary Education, Brooklyn Brainery and Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center.  The first ones coming up will be at Brooklyn Kitchen on April 3 and April 22.

And so the book writing begins……

 
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Tomato Achaar Shakshuka

Tomato Achaar Shakshuka

Lately, I’ve been developing recipes using my tomato achaar over at Brooklyn Delhi.  Ben and I are also designing some recipe cards to give to our customers, which I’m really excited about.

I thought I’d share one of our favorite recipes with you. It’s for tomato achaar shakshuka. I first had shakshuka, eggs cooked in spicy tomato sauce, in Egypt when I was visiting a friend in Cairo years back. Since then, I have remembered it fondly and reinvented it in my own kitchen in several ways.  What makes this recipe so easy is that by using tomato achaar in this recipe, you don’t really have to add that much else to flavor the sauce because it already has a lot of the spices – turmeric, red chili powder, fenugreek seeds, etc.

For those unfamiliar, ‘achaar’ in Hindi means pickled fruit or vegetable so that is why sometimes it is referred to as ‘Indian Pickle.’  In Kannada, my mom’s language it’s called ‘uppinakayi’.  The fruits and vegetables are preserved with salt, oil and spices, which result in a delicious condiment that has a spicy, sour, sweet and savory kick – I like to think of it kind of like a flavor bomb for food. It instantly makes a dish pop!

It’s a perfect match for shakshuka, which is visually vibrant with the color of the yolks, tomatoes and parsley. I also like mine with a bit of feta crumbled on top. Traditionally, it’s served at breakfast time in the Middle East, but I think shakshuka is fit for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It goes best with a crusty piece of bread, but on this day, I had it with a few warm tortillas.  Enjoy!

And if you want to get more recipes using our tomato achaar, I’ve posted some here.

 

 

 
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My Favorite Things on The Aerogram

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 10.23.43 AM

I recently was contacted by the Editors at The Aerogram, a blog I frequently read about South Asian art, culture and news. They asked me to write about some of my favorite things at the moment for their Quick Picks segment. Hope you enjoy: My Quick Picks on The Aerogram.

 
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Sprouted Horse Gram, Cheddar & Hummus Sandwich

Sprouted Horse Gram, Cheddar and Hummus Sandwich

I know I know, horse gram sprouts do not sound appealing. As the name implies, these beans are actually used as cattle and horse feed, but they are also super tasty and extremely nutritious for you.   In South India, they are used to make a number of dishes and in Kannada they are referred to as ‘hurali.’ They can be sprouted really easily and used in salads like usali or soupy dishes like sambar and saaru.

horse gram

Horse gram also is great to eat in the winter and I actually have been breaking it out quite a bit during days plagued by the ‘Polar Vortex.’  Not only do these sprouts have a ton of iron and help with weight loss, but they also are believed to warm your body up.

The sandwich recipe I’m going to share with you is one that I pulled together for lunch one day with sprouts I had in my refrigerator, and ended up pulling together a few lunches in a row after that. Thus, I deemed it worthy for the world to see:)  It’s so easy, I feel ridiculous giving a recipe for it, but it’s just toasted whole wheat bread with sun-dried tomato hummus, sharp cheddar and sprouted horse gram.  If you don’t have this particular hummus, you can always just use plain hummus and cut a fresh tomato for the sandwich.

The great thing about sprouting these horse gram is that you can use it in a variety of ways and in this form it is more easily digested. After my last horse gram sandwich of the week, I ended up throwing the leftovers sprouts into a lentil soup I was making. It adds great texture and substance to stewy recipes.

horse gram sprouts

First, before we get to the recipe though, I’d like to comment a bit on the state of sprouts in the market today.  When I see those plastic containers of alfalfa sprouts lined up at the grocery store, makes me wonder why those are the sprouts that are most often used. There is a whole world out there of sprouts that most people don’t even know about. Did you know you could sprout most any bean?  I’ve written about my love of sprouting mung bean (moong gram) before.

mung bean sprouts

You actually sprout horse gram in the same way by soaking it, drying it and germinating it in a spot out of sunlight (I use my oven with the light on).  Although it does take time to sprout beans, it’s quite passive on your part because the beans really do all the work.  I try to get beans germinating a few times a month and just keep them around to throw into different dishes for added nutrition and protein.

I hope next time when you grab for those boring alfalfa sprouts for your salad or sandwich, you’ll think about subbing in my friend the neglected horse gram:)

 

 

 
Posted in Autumn, Breads, Easy, Lunch, Mains, Recipes Index, Snacks, South Indian, Vegetarian, Winter | Leave a comment

Batchery: Brooklyn Food Artisan Pop-Up Market

This post is more of an update of what I’ve been working on over on the Brooklyn Delhi side of things. Besides producing, selling and getting achaars into stores

Chitra of Brooklyn Delhi making tomato achaar

Chitra and Ben of Brooklyn Delhi at the Brooklyn Exposed Holiday Bazaar

photo by D. Robert Wolcheck @ Brooklyn Exposed Holiday Bazaar, our first market.

Brooklyn Delhi on shelves at Life Thyme in Manhattan

On shelves at Life Thyme market, my favorite grocer in Manhattan!

I’ve also been planning an upcoming pop-up market called Batchery with Sonya of Bacchanal Sauce. Batchery will feature a collection of local small-batch food artisans from Brooklyn, including my co-chef on Tangra, Diana who just launched her online store, Plate and Pencil.  We have about 17 vendors signed up to sell including: Brooklyn Delhi (of course!), Bacchanal Sauce, Better Off Spread, Mike’s Hot Honey, The Jam Stand, Sour Puss Pickles, Cocktail Crate, Thumbs Cookies, Brooklyn DIY Supply and more!

Batchery

Sonya and I decided to organize this market as a way for all of us small food producers to get to know each other and form more of a community.  And since we’re selling our products in stores, this was a way we could meet and get to know some of our customers in person too.  Also because we are an artisan-run market, we wanted to make it affordable for everyone to sell so we are just splitting the cost of rent and with the extras we are going to provide free refreshments to market-goers!

If you are in the New York area, I hope you will stop by:

Batchery
February 22
12PM-6PM
Bat Haus
279 Starr Street (off Jefferson L)
Brooklyn, NY 11237
website

 
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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger & Fennel Seeds

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Fennel Seeds

Roasting butternut squash is one of my most favorite wintertime activities, not only because my apartment is a bit lacking in heat but also because I am totally lazy when it comes to skinning a butternut squash. Roasting, I’ve found is the easiest way to not have to deal with that whole mess. I just cut my butternut squash into half or quarters and throw them in the oven. Two problems solved – my apartment gets warm and I don’t have to obsess over how much squash I’m wasting by clumsily skinning it!

My process for roasting is simple. I just cut the squash into half or quarters, depending on how large it is, dig out the seeds, and put them face down onto an oiled baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

roasting butternut squash

roasting butternut squash

roasting butternut squash

This last summer, I got to attend Eat Retreat where there was a food swap with everyone that came. I traded my first bottles of Brooklyn Delhi tomato achaar for all sorts of really great things. One of those were fennel seeds from my friend Will’s backyard.  A lot of times you will see fennel seeds at Indian restaurants offered at the end of the meal because they help with digestion.  When I make a soup with fennel seeds though, I like to toast and grind them because they get a little chewy if left whole.

fennel seeds

On the way out from the camp, I also got a grip load of really young ginger too. The first time I made this soup was with this ginger.  It was so fresh and pure and so easy to work with, with none of that skin to peel (I’m sure you are sensing a theme here;).

young ginger

I love this soup because it has an earthy sweetness to it from the squash and fennel seeds that’s balanced with ginger and the heat of the chili powder.  It goes well with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a crusty piece of bread. I hope you enjoy and are staying warm!

 

 
Posted in Autumn, Dinner, Easy, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Mains, North Indian, Recipes Index, Soups & Dals, Vegan, Vegetarian, Winter | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Upma, Breakfast of Champions!

Upma

Upma is not another name for Wheaties if that’s what you were thinking;) It’s a savory South Indian breakfast made from cream of wheat (semolina) or labeled as ‘sooji’ or ‘rawa’ in the Indian store. Upma is also referred to as ‘uppittu’ in Kannada and translates as ‘uppu’ meaning salt and ‘hittu’ meaning flour.  For me, upma is a comfort food and reminds me of my family being together on weekends growing up because my mother would prepare it when she had more time to cook in the morning.  She would alternate making upma with other savory breakfast favorites like dosa, idli, poha on these days…which I’ll tell you about another day.

Sooji or semolina (cream of wheat)

We usually serve upma with plain yogurt and ‘chutney pudi,’ which translates into chutney powder. My mother makes her own chutney pudi from grinding down spices and coconut that she often dries on our roof in Bangalore. It has a spicy and sweet flavor that complements most every dish. My father who comes from North India never ate chutney pudi before he met my mother.  The man loves the stuff and even puts it on his pizza to my mother’s chagrin. You can also buy chutney pudi in Indian stores.

In our house, upma is most often made with different vegetables like potatoes, green pepper, onions, grated carrot, peas, lima beans or tomatoes.  You can also add nuts like cashews to the mix. In India, my mother’s favorite is with the flat bean called avarekai, which kind of reminds me of a cross between lima beans and edamame.  Avarekai comes skinned in the markets in Bangalore and is found in abundance during late Dec and January:

avarekai or flat beans are found in Bangalore markets

In Brooklyn, I don’t have access to avarekai, but I do have potatoes and lots of them so I made my upma with one of those, green pepper and onion:

upmapotatopepper_616

In restaurants upma is served in the shape of a katori or small bowl mold like I have photographed above – my first time making it like that! It’s quite easy to do and is great for presentation if you are serving it to guests.  Upma is flavored with black mustard seeds, curry leaves, coconut and lemon.  If you don’t have cream of wheat or sooji, I’m sure couscous or quinoa would also do the trick.  My recipe below is adapted from my mother’s.

I’m always on the lookout for more savory breakfasts. What’s your favorite?

 

 
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Thove: My Miso Soup

thove, South Indian lentil soupMy comfort soup is a South Indian lentil soup called thove. It reminds me of Japanese miso soup in that it has that same foggy quality to it, but yet is substantial and always makes me feel better. Thove is actually not pronounced the way it is spelled but the closest approximation I can come up with is this: tho-way. I make my thove from moong dal, also referred to as split yellow gram, yellow dal or yellow lentils. It is basically a mung bean with its green skin removed and split in half. This makes for a quicker cooking time and when boiled, this dal comes apart easily.

moong dal, yellow lentils, split yellow gram

In every household, thove is prepared a little differently and can even vary with the type of dal used – some use moong dal while others may use toor dal. In the North, cumin seeds are used and in the South, black mustard seeds flavor the soup. I make a variation of my mother’s recipe usually with green chilies, curry leaves, ginger, turmeric and lemon.  The soup has virtually no oil – just 2 teaspoons that you add at the end when you temper black mustard seeds and I also add onion at this point and even some garlic if I have it.

This soup traditionally is made with tomatoes in some homes or spinach, which I incorporate if I have either on hand. I’ve had the soup made with snake gourd and other watery Indian squashes – zucchini would be a good sub in if you want to add squash. This time I had spinach so I threw that in to the pot:

fresh spinach

It’s the perfect soup for when you are short on time or when you are feeling a bit under the weather because it’s quick to make and it has ingredients that help combat illness like turmeric and ginger.  I usually eat it with basmati rice, some yogurt and a little achaar or uppinakayi on top.  It’s great as a plain soup as well.

What’s your comfort soup?

 

 
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Launching Brooklyn Delhi Condiments Line on Sunday

lineup3

I have some exciting news! After working on it all this summer, I am finally ready to launch my new Indian condiments line called Brooklyn Delhi.  I’ll be debuting the line at the Brooklyn Exposed Holiday Bazaar this Sunday.  At the market, I’ll be selling jars and a ready-to-eat tartine: sourdough from SCRATCHbread topped with Wisconsin cheddar (Ben’s from there:) and our first condiment, tomato achaar. I hope you can come down and say hi!

Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar

For those that are unfamiliar with achaar, it’s a spicy, savory, sour and sweet relish made from local vegetables, fruits, spices and oil. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Indian pickle’ but it has nothing to do with the flavor of dill pickles and more to do with say kimchi (Korean), sriracha (Thai) or harissa (Tunisian).  Traditionally it is eaten with rice, curry, dal, yogurt and many times made from sour produce like green mangoes, lemons, hard gooseberries, etc.

I love achaar so much I bring it back in my suitcase from India on every trip. More recently I introduced it to my fiance Ben and totally got him hooked on it, but when we run out it’s a sad story.  We realized that the only achaars available in the US were at Indian stores and these varieties were way too salty for our taste or had preservatives added in.

That’s why I started making the relish from ingredients I found around me like tomatoes, rhubarb, garlic and American gooseberries.  Usually achaar is really spicy and really salty, which means you don’t eat a lot of it, but I wanted to create a version that highlighted the flavor of the vegetables and fruits and aromatic spices, along with the chillies so it’s not all about burning your tongue off and raising your blood pressure:) The achaar goes really well on a ton of different foods like eggs, sandwiches, noodles and I’ve used it to make dressings and also cooked with it in soups.

I started to share some of my varieties with friends at picnics and parties and it would always get gobbled up so Ben actually gave me the idea of starting to package some of these recipes. I guess I kind of lucked out too because he has over a decade of experience designing food packaging so we decided to go for it and make achaar from fresh ingredients for everyone to enjoy!

dumplings1

Of late, I have been serving the achaar at my pop-up dinner events (most recently with Indo-Chinese dumplings) and cooking classes and now am excited to introduce it at local markets and stores.

I would not have been able to do any of this without Ben who helped conceive of the idea with me and designed all of the packaging for Brooklyn Delhi. Thanks Ben & here goes!

Brooklyn Exposed Holiday Bazaar
Sun, Dec 8th
11AM – 6PM
501 Union St., between Bond and Nevins
Brooklyn, NY 11231

 
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A Vegetarian Indian-Spiced Thanksgiving

spicy roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower

In case you’re looking for some vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes off the beaten path, I thought I’d compile a few of my Indian recipes that invoke the season of fall.  Oddly enough, this year I’ll actually be at a wedding on Thanksgiving so there will be a lot of eating, but not as much cooking as years past.

Continue reading »

 
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