Broccoli Beef

Why get take out when you can quickly dish up a quintessential Chinese takeout dish in minutes? This one-pan, 30-minutes dish is loaded with tender broccoli and nutrition-packed beef cooked in a delicious sauce. Serve over rice for a delicious meal!

Broccoli Beef originates from a Chinese dish called Gai Lan Chao Niu Rounor or Chinese Broccoli Fried Beef. However, early immigrants could not find Gai Lan in the US, and American broccoli became an easy substitute, right around when broccoli was getting more popular in the US too. Given the ability of the broccoli to absorb delicious flavors of the sauce and the tender slices of beef, it’s no wonder it makes its way onto every Chinese restaurant menu.

Servings: 4

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda or tenderize the meat by hammering it with a meat mallet)
  • 1  pound flank steak, cut into 1-inch pieces. (Find the grains of the beef and cut against it. After cutting rinse off the blood and set aside)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper powder
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame or vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup carrot, cut into matchsticks (optional)

Method

  • In a large bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch with water to form a slurry. Add beef to the bowl and toss until the beef is well coated with the cornstarch mix.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch along with soya sauce, oyster sauce, pepper and brown sugar. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan or wok on medium flame. When hot, add the beef and fry the beef on one side for 30-60 seconds. Flip and fry the beef until it is cooked through another 60 seconds. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside.
  • Add remaining oil to the pan and when hot, add the diced onions, garlic and ginger and cook for a minute and then add the broccoli florets and carrots. Cook until broccoli is tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the beef back to the pan and pour the sauce over. Stir for another minute until the sauce thickens.
  • Turn off the stove and serve with a side of rice or noodles.

Chicken with lemon-caper sauce

A healthy dish that comes together in a flash for a weeknight dinner but with its restaurant- quality look and flavors it’s perfect for when guests stop by. The tart, briny and lemony flavors will have you licking the plate clean. You may want to double up the servings as you will be craving this again the next day!

Dairy and nut free.

Servings:4

Prep time: 4 minutes. Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or all purpose)
  • 4 – 5oz boneless, skinless /skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (preferably no salt)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (mix in a quarter cup of water)

Method

In a plate, mix together the flour, black pepper powder, Italian seasoning. Coat chicken with the flour mixture, and shake off excess.

In a skillet, heat oil, on medium flame. When hot, add garlic, and cook garlic for 30 seconds.

Add the chicken to the pan and cook. After 5 minutes, turn chicken over, and continue cooking until brown on both sides and cooked through for another 5 minutes. Should take about 10 minutes to cook on both sides. Remove from skillet and set aside

Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring to a boil. Add in the water and the cornstarch slurry (cornstarch water mix). Continue cooking for about 2-3 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Add chicken back to the skillet, cover and simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in lemon juice, capers and parsley. Turn off the stove. Divide amongst four plates, spooning the sauce over the chicken.

Serve chicken in lemon-caper sauce with a side of beans and mashed potatoes! Yum!!

Kheema – ground turkey, beef or chicken

Kheema is a staple Indian dish and just so versatile. Nilesh, as a bachelor, made a huge pot of kheema and had it with pasta, with chapatis, or rice..he almost always seemed to be having kheema for a meal. Now we also use it in patties, empanadas, shepherd’s pie, and potato chops. Make a large pot and then package it into ziplock bags, frozen for another day and another dish!

This is my mum’s recipe. The secret ingredient which made her dish stand out was the addition of vinegar and sugar! You won’t be disappointed.

Servings:6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (or other meat – cooking time for non turkey options will vary )
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tbsp ginger, minced fine
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced fine
  • 2 heaped tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 heaped tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp kasuri methi (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Method:

  • Heat oil in a large pan
  • When oil simmers, add in the chopped onion, garlic and ginger
  • Turn the flame to low and stirring occasionally, let the mix cook 3 minutes until onions are translucent and soft
  • Add spices (except vinegar, salt and sugar) and fry for 1 minute on low flame
  • Add the meat, fry for 5 minutes
  • Add the vinegar, salt, sugar
  • Cook for 15 mins on low flame
  • Sprinkle in kasuri methi and cilantro, stir and cook for another minute
  • Serve hot with chapatis. Use leftovers to make shepherd’s pie or potato chops

Lentils with spinach – dal palak

This nutritional lentil dish packs an additional punch thanks to the addition of spinach. It’s vegetarian, gluten free and low fat giving you all the benefits of lentils (good protein, digestive health, weight loss etc.) and spinach (weight loss, eye health, anticancer and immunity boosting). Have it as a soup, over rice or scoop it up with a chapati.

Servings: 4. Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas or yellow lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (or olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5 garlic cloves minced fine
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, diced fined
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups water

Method:

  • Start the instant pot or pressure cooker or ninja foodi in Saute mode
  • Heat the oil/ghee
  • Add in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and let them splutter for 10 seconds
  • Add garlic, let it splutter for 10 seconds
  • Add chopped tomatoes, spices and fry for 30 seconds
  • Add in the lentils, stir and add in water
  • Close lid of cooker and change mode to pressure cook
  • Pressure cook for 15 minutes
  • Let the pressure release naturally
  • Open the lid and add in the spinach and lime juice. Stir well and let us rest for 3-4 minutes, covered. The spinach will melt
  • Serve as a soup, over rice or with chapatis

Barbecue pulled pork – slow cooker/ Ninja Foodi /oven

Pulled pork simmered in a tangy, sweet and spicy sauce bringing back memories of a roadtrip  down to Texas where we had the most delicious and moist pulled pork – in the parking lot of a restaurant because of Covid. As we reminisced over the trip, we had to replicate the flavors at home.

Servings: 8 (for 8 sandwiches)

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 6 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1.5 large onions, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 lbs pork shoulder butt roast
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon  red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (see notes to make barbecue sauce at home)

Method

  1. Lightly rub the pork with salt and pepper
  2. If using a Ninja Foodi, put on the sear option on high
  3. Pour the oil into the bottom of a slow cooker, dutch oven or the Ninja Foodi
  4. Add the onions, garlic
  5. Add the remaining ingredients including the pork
  6. Cover the container to cook:
    1. Turn on the slow cooker and set for high
    2. For Foodi, switch to slow cooker option and set to high
    3. For oven, preheat to 250F. Cover dutch oven and place in oven
  7. Cook on high for 5-6 hours until the pork shreds easily with a fork
  8. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred the meat using two forks
  9. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, and stir the meat with the juices in the pot
  10. Serve on hamburger buns with a side of beans, coleslaw and potato salad

Notes:

  • Home made barbeque sauce:
    • Ingredients:
      • 1.5 cups ketchup
      • 2 tablespoon molasses
      • 3 garlic cloves minced
      • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
      • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
      • 1 tablespoon red chilli powder
      • 1  teaspoon black pepper powder
      • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
    • Method
      • Combine ingredients in a pot on the stove. Simmer for 15- 20 minutes until sauce has deepened in color. Store in a tightly covered lid for upto 10 days

Mushroom, Spinach and Black Bean Quesadillas

When you want a healthy and yet quick meal or a snack on-the-go, these quesadillas are a great option. A mix of spinach, corn, mushrooms, black beans, onions, and creamy avocado makes for a filling, delicious vegetarian meal. And if you’re craving meat, just add some shredded chicken to the mix.

Servings: 4 quesadillas Cook and prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 large Red Onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper flakes
  • 8 oz Baby Bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups fresh Spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen Corn
  • 1/2 cup cooked Black Beans
  • 2 large Avocados, removed from shell and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • 4 medium Tortillas (I use whole wheat although flour tortillas are usually tastier but less healthy)
  • Salt to taste
  • Salsa, for serving
  • 2 cups shredded chicken, optional (for when you want a non-vegetarian option)

Method:

  • In a pan, heat the Olive oil
  • When oil is hot and shimmering, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and add in the onions, stir occasionally while the onions turn translucent.
  • Add in the sliced mushrooms. Fry the mix, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and caramelized, and the water from the mushrooms in the pan has dissipated – approximately 3-4 minutes
  • Add in the spinach, black beans and corn. Cook till spinach has wilted. Sprinkle salt, stir and keep aside
  • Lay out the four tortillas on plates
  • Cover a half of each tortilla by distributing the 1 cup of cheese across the tortillas
  • Distribute equally the spinach, corn, black beans, and mushroom mix over the cheese
  • Layer the mix with equal amounts of avocado slices and sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese evenly over it, as well
  • Fold tortilla into half by pressing the empty half of the tortilla over the toppings
  • Heat a medium/large size skillet. When skillet is hot, place the folded tortilla in the skillet. Cook on both sides for a total of 4 mins, flipping half-way through
  • Before serving, cut the quesadillas into 3 equal sizes
  • Serve hot with a side of salsa
  • Enjoy!

Salmon with  Tamarind- Mushroom- Red Pepper Sauce

This aromatic, sweet and tangy sauce complements salmon. Not only is it a healthy, quick and easy dinner option, it is an elegant  meal for when you have company.

Serves:4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb skin-on, boneless salmon filet
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, diced into small pieces
  • 1 large red pepper, diced into small pieces
  • 1/4 large red pepper, cut into thin red strips
  • 2 stems green onions, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp ginger, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp garlic, diced fine
  • 2 tbsp size chunks of seedless tamarind (see method below)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • For the fish before grilling or pan frying
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (2 tbsp if frying)

Method

  1. To make tamarind, soya and fish sauce mix:
    • Take a large marble sized piece of seedless tamarind
    • Put tamarind into a microwave safe bowl and add in 1/4 cup warm water. Heat for a minute in the microwave. Rest for 2 minutes. Then mash the pulp with the back of a spoon, forcing it through a strainer . Scrape off the paste that is on the underside of the strainer. Discard the solids left in the strainer
    • To the tamarind mix in the bowl, add fish sauce, soya sauce, sugar and blend well till sugar dissolves
  2. For the mushroom – red pepper sauce
    • Dice mushrooms and red pepper into small pieces
    • In a wok, heat oil
    • When hot, add in the garlic, stir fry for 30 seconds and add in the ginger
    • Stir fry for 30 seconds
    • Add in the mushrooms and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the water from the mushrooms dry out
    • Add in the tamarind, fish sauce mix and stir fry for 1 minute
    • Add in the green onions, and diced red pepper and stir fry for another minute
    • Remove from heat and set aside
  3. Fish
    • To cook in Ninja Foodi: 
      • Place water into Ninja Foodi pot. Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides, no oil, on rack, making sure the rack is in the higher position.
      • Assemble pressure lead, making sure the pressure release valve is in the SEAL position
      • Select PRESSURE and set to HIGH. Set time to 2 minutes. Select START/STOP to begin
      • When pressure cooking is complete, quick release the pressure by moving the pressure cooker valve to the VENT position. Carefully remove lid when pressure is released
      • Gently pat salmon dry with paper towel, then close with crisping lid
      • Select BROIL and set time to 7 minutes. Select START/STOP to begin, check for doneness after 5 minutes
    • To grill on a regular grill:
      • While the sauce is cooking, marinate the fish with oil, salt and pepper. Rub mixture on both sides of fish. Heat grill to 450 degree F. When hot, grill the salmon skin side down over direct heat with the lid closed, for about 4-5 minutes and then turn the salmon over, close the lid and another 4-5 minutes
    • To pan fry:
      • Rub salt on both sides of the fish. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add fish, skin side down and fry for about 4 minutes on each side
  4. Serving
    • Serve fish while hot, with the Mushroom-Red Pepper sauce spooned over it, garnished with red pepper slivers and cilantro. It can be accompanied by vegetables like bok choi or broccoli as well as steamed rice

Thai yellow curry

This mild, yet complex Thai curry impresses with its pleasant and interesting flavors.

When we have guests, Thai or Mexican dishes are usually our go-to. Quick, flavorful, and enjoyed by most, it’s definitely faster to pull together than Indian food. When we do make Thai dishes, curries take center-stage and this yellow curry, is a mildly spicy delicious alternative to the ubiquitous red curry.

This curry can be made in advance, I prefer to, as I find it tastes even better. It has lots of sauce and can be re-heated very easily.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 10 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast (optional if vegan, see note)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can Thai yellow curry paste or the paste made with this recipe
  • 3 kefir lime leaves
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce (alternatively, 3 tbsp lime juice if vegan)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 1 medium sized Chinese eggplant, cut into thin long slices
  • 3 tbsp green peas
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 large red potato (or white) cut into small cubes
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1/4 red pepper strips, cut into thin strips for garnish
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

Method

  • Slice chicken breast into thin, long slices ( 3 inch long, 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick)
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok
  • Add in the onion, and stir fry for 2 minutes
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add in the yellow curry paste and stir fry for 1 minute
  • Add in the potato cubes and stir fry on low flame for 2 minutes
  • Add in half the can of the coconut milk, stir to dissolve the paste in the coconut milk and bring to a boil
  • Add the remaining cup of coconut milk, raise the heat to medium and let it cook for 10 minutes. You will start to see the oil from the coconut milk raise to the top
  • Tear the lime leaves to halves and add to the sauce. Cook for another 2 minutes, the sauce will thicken
  • Add chicken and egg plant into the sauce, turn heat to maximum, cook for a minute
  • Add 1/2 cup water and let the curry boil for a minute
  • Add fish sauce and sugar and turn heat to medium. Stir for 2 minutes
  • Add in bamboo shoots, red pepper strips and cook for 2 minutes
  • Add in the peas and 3/4 of the chopped cilantro
  • Stir fry for 2 minutes
  • Serve hot, topped with remaining cilantro leaves and a few red pepper strips with a side of rice

Thai yellow curry paste

Made from scratch, this recipe beats canned curry pastes. When time is not of the essence, prepare this paste and then make a delicious Thai curry. Serve it over rice and then enjoy the afternoon siesta!

Ingredients:

  • 14 dried thai chilis
  • 2 tbsp fresh turmeric root, grated (or 2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 2 tbsp galangal or ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup cilantro stems
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 6 kefir lime leaves or 1 tsp grated lime
  • 6 large garlic cloves, diced fined
  • 4 small shallots peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
  • 2 lemon grass stalks, bottom half only, chopped
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste, omit if vegetarian
  • 1 tsp oil, set aside for later

Method:

  • With a mortar and pestle or in a blender, mix all the ingredients (except oil)together. Grind until you have a smooth paste
  • In a frying pan, heat the oil and on low flame , slowly cook the paste for about 3 minutes
  • Use to make a Thai yellow curry

Chipotle Black Beans

To soak or not to soak? The kids want to take burritos to school and I don’t have time to soak beans. Sure I can make it without beans but beans add a lot more protein and nutrition. What to do? A no-soak option gives me delicious, smoky beans within an hour.

The options below include the method if you did soak your beans overnight.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp crushed chipotle pepper with sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, for garnish
  • Optional garnish: red onions, avocado

Method

  • Wash the beans and remove any debris
  • Put beans and 2 cups water in a pressure cooker-safe container and pressure cook on high for 30 mins and slow release for 15 minutes
  • If you did soak your beans for atleast 6 hours, pressure cook beans for 15 minutes
  • Garnish with cilantro

Mexican chicken casserole

How do I get easy, and healthy meals on the table on a weeknight? Mexican, Thai, Chinese are usually my go to dishes. This Mexican Chicken casserole dish is a multi-purpose one. I either roast a chicken on the weekend or buy one from Costco. Make this dish using rotisserie chicken and you can have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. And best part, use the left overs for burritos and quesadillas in the lunch box the next day!!

Servings: 4

Time including prep time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
  • 4 Cups chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup green peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup red peppers, diced
  • 1 cup black beans (can or soak overnight and cook first)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2.5 cups salsa (medium or spicy)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder ( optional)
  • 1.5 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese (or Mexican blend)

Garnish

  • 1 cup sour cream (I use Greek Yogurt as a healthier alternative)
  • Guacamole
  • Green onions

Method:

  • Heat Ninja Foodie on Sear function
  • Add oil
  • When hot, add in the onion and garlic
  • Stir fry for a minute
  • Add in the green peppers and red peppers, stir for another minute
  • Switch off Foodi
  • Add in the beans, chicken, corn, salsa, cumin and chili powder. Mix well
  • Sprinkle the cheese on the top of the mix
  • Close the lid of the Foodi and turn on the Bake function. Bake at 350F for 5 mins or until cheese is melted
  • When done, turn off the Foodi
  • Serve garnished with onions, sour cream and guacamole. Optionally, serve with a side of Mexican rice or in a tortilla as a burrito.

Healthy Chorizo Burrito Bowl

This Chorizo Burrito Bowl while packed with Mexican flavors, is a healthier than any version you’ll get in a restaurant but still just as delicious! Not only is it healthy, it’s a quick, delicious meal. Home-made chorizo takes center-stage on a bed of Cilantro Lime Rice along with tomato salsa, corn, black beans, lettuce, and so creamy guacamole. Pack it for lunch or get a quick dinner on the table, it’s a guaranteed favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup – Lettuce, shredded
  • 1 tbsp – lime juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup – Cooked Chorizo
  • 1 cup – Cooked Black Beans (see linked recipe for home cooked black beans or use canned – just rinse before using)
  • 2 cups – Cilantro Lime Rice
  • 1/4 cup – Queso Fresco cheese (I avoid it to keep it healthier, but use it for the kids)
  • 1/4 cup – Greek yogurt (replacing sour cream with yogurt makes it healthy while providing the same, delicious, creamy flavor
  • 1/4 cup – Pico de Gallo
  • 1/4 cup – Corn Salsa
  • 1/4 cup – Guacamole

In a rush: You can make it easier by using store bought chorizo (I have used V&V Supremo brand when in a pinch), and canned black beans – just rinse it out before using.

Method:

  1.  In a bowl, combine cabbage, lime juice, and salt . Combine and refrigerate until needed
  2. To serve:
    1. Layer each serving bowl with half a cup of the Cilantro Lime rice. Top rice with black beans, Chorizo, lettuce, cheese, yogurt, pico de gallo, corn salsa and guacamole, spreading it evenly across the bowls.
    2. Enjoy!

Note:

  1. If using store-bought chorizo, it will need to be cooked
    • Heat a pan and add 1 tbsp of oil
    • When oil is hot, add 1/2 a chopped onion. Fry onion for 2-3 minutes and then add chorizo.
    • Sauté for 7-8 minutes on a medium flame, stirring and breaking the meat up with the spatula, until it is fully cooked through and meat turns from bright red to reddish-brown

Black Beans

Tender, delicious black beans for just about any dish that calls for black beans like burritos, or a Burrito Bowl or Santa Fe Chicken. Yes, takes longer than beans from a can but so much better for you. Black Beans are full of protein, fiber, folate and magnesium. Cook up a pot and have them ready for soups, salads or just a side.

Servings: 6 cups when cooked

Time – if using a Pressure Cooker: 5 minutes prep time + 25 minutes cook time; if using stove top: 5 mins prep time + 1 hour cook time

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried black beans
  • 1 small red onion, diced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 6 cups water

Method:

  • Rinse the black beans twice, throwing out the water after each rinse
  • Pressure Cooker Method:
    • Next day, in a pressure cooker, heat the olive oil
    • When oil is hot, add in the bay leaves. Once leaves splutter, add in the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute and then add in the cumin powder, chili powder, beans along with the water
    • Close the pressure cooker and close steam valve. Set to high pressure for 25 minutes total. Then allow the pot to naturally release steam for 15 minutes
    • To serve, stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Add salt and/or adjust seasonings, if needed
  • Stove Top Method:
    • In a large pan, heat the olive oil
    • When oil is hot, add in the bay leaves. Once leaves splutter, add in the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute and then add in the cumin powder, chili powder, beans along with the water
    • Bring the water to a boil then cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low. Set timer for an hour and let the beans simmer. After an hour, check the beans – they should be plump and easy to press through with a fork. If still tough, continue to simmer in 5 minute increments until soft. If needed, add a little water.
    • When done, turn off the stove.
    • To serve, stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Add salt and/or adjust seasonings, if needed
  • Beans can be used right away in various recipes like a burrito bowl or Santa Fe Chicken stored in fridge for 5 days or in a well-sealed container in the freezer
Burrito Bowl
Santa Fe Chicken

Mexican pork stew

30 mins to get dinner on the table before ravenous kids burst through the door! All I had on hand was some pork in the fridge. A quick combination of pork, and beans in a tomato broth with some spices that are often used in Mexican recipes, resulted in a hearty stew that we enjoyed on a cold winter’s day.

Serves: 4 Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Bone-in pork loin – cut into small cubes while keeping the bone – adds flavor. Alternatively, 1 lb pork shoulder, small cubes
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 15.5oz can white beans ( I had cannellini, you can use white kidney or pinto beans)
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt, if desired
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Method:

  • In Pressure cooker:
    • Put oil in pressure cooker
    • When hot, add the onions, garlic and jalapeno. Fry for 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally
    • Add the chii powder, cumin powder, smoked paprika, oregano and black pepper powders and stir for a minute
    • Add in the pork pieces and stir to coat the meat with the spices
    • Add in the diced tomatoes, beans and broth
    • Close pressure cooker and pressure cook for 15 minutes
    • When done, let pressure off, remove kid and garnish with the lime juice and cilantro
    • Serve with crusty bread or Mexican Cilantro Lime rice
  • On stove top:
    • In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat oil
    • When hot, add the onions, garlic and jalapeno. Fry for 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally
    • Turn flame to medium heat, add the chili powder, cumin powder, smoked paprika, oregano and black pepper powders and stir for a minute
    • Add in the pork pieces and stir to coat the meat with the spices
    • Add in the diced tomatoes, beans and broth
    • Stir, cover and cook on medium-low for about 25 minutes
    • When done, remove from heat and garnish with the lime juice and cilantro
    • Serve with crusty bread or Mexican Cilantro Lime rice

Coconut tilapia curry

While living in Toronto, I was spoilt with some really good Thai restaurants. However, there isn’t a Thai restaurant near us that truly wows us. So, trial and error has got us to a point where we no longer need to drive out to a good Thai restaurant, chez nous kitchen beckons instead! And the best part of most Thai curries is they are easy to whip up allowing me to get a delicious, filling and health dinner to the table in 30 mins or less. And you can make a one-pot meal by adding vegetables to the curry.

Servings: 4 Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 oz) skinless tilapia fillets ( or vegetables like tofu, baby corn, bamboo shoots, if you want to keep this vegetarian)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, small, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 4 tbsp red curry paste ( or to taste, depending on the paste you use and spice level)
  • 1 15 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (if vegetarian, omit fish sauce and brown sugar, and add salt to taste)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup carrots cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or basil leaves, for garnish

Method:

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. When oil is hot, add in the onions and ginger. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions turn soft and translucent.
  • Add in the red curry paste and stir for 1-2 minutes
  • Add half of the coconut milk to the pan and stir in, until the coconut milk and the curry paste are well blended. When the milk starts to bubble, add in the remaining coconut milk. Stir well for a minute
  • Add in the fish sauce and brown sugar and bring the curry to a boil
  • Lower the flame, add in the carrots and green peas
  • Stir and then add in the fish
  • Cover and let cook on medium-low flame for 5-6 minutes until the fish is cooked through
  • Remove from flame and garnish with the cilantro/basil leaves
  • Serve with brown rice

Val Papdi – Flat Broad Beans

This Indian winter vegetable is long, flat with a slight curve. The pods are smooth, thick, and pale green, tapering at both ends. Each pod contains 2-4 seeds that are slightly flat. This vegetable is widely used in Indian cuisine and also in Chinese cooking. According to the site tarladalal.com, it is a low calorie, low carb vegetable that is good for weight loss. It’s packed with nutrients and can provide your daily intake of calcium, iron and magnesium. In the US, this bean can be found in the frozen section of an Indian grocery store. Here’s a recipe that is simple and flavorful and can be made in a jiffy when you want a side of greens for your meal.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 12oz bag frozen val papdi
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp (take a small ball of tamarind, add a few spoons of water to it, microwave for 1 minute and when warm to touch, squeeze out the pulp)
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (normal, not sweetened, can use frozen)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan. When oil is hot, add in the mustard and cumin seeds, let them splutter for a minute
  2. Add in the garlic and red chili flakes and let it sizzle for 1 minute
  3. Add in the val papdi, season with salt and turmeric powder, stir well
  4. Cover with a lid and let it cook in its own steam for 12 minutes
  5. Remove the lid and stir in the shredded coconut. Stir for 1-2 minutes
  6. Remove from flame. Serve with hot chapatis or as a side
Picture courtesy Tarladalal.com

Butter Chicken

Finger-licking Butter Chicken! The quintessential Indian dish that is found in New York, London, Sydney and often times, the smallest of Indian restaurants in points in between. Originating in the Indian sub-continent, it is a delicious, creamy, tomato-based curry with spice-infused chicken bites and can be as mild or spicy as you like. It’s simple and finger-licking good! Make it once and you’ll be making it again and again!

Marination:

  • 1 lb boneless chicken cut into bite size cubes
  • 3/4 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp red sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Gravy:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cup red onion finely diced
  • 2 tbsp ginger – finely minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic – finely minced
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 20 cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp whipping cream

Method:

  1. Preparing the chicken:
    1. Marinate the chicken: In a Ziploc bag (or a container), mix all the ingredients mentioned under marination above with the exception of the chicken. When it is mixed well, add in the chicken and massage the marinate into the chicken. Cover/Close Ziploc and keep overnight in the fridge or 48 hours. The longer it rests, the more tender. I often buy chicken, cut it up and divide it between different marinades and freeze it for when needed
    2. Grill or cook the chicken:
      • In Air Fryer / Ninja Foodi: Pre-heat the Foodi with the basket for 5 minutes. Spray the basket with a little oil. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer making sure they aren’t touching. Spray the top of the chicken pieces with oil. Air Crisp on high for 360°F for 5 minutes. Then flip the pieces and continue on Air Crisp for another 3-5 minutes until the internal temperature is at least 165°F. Remove and place on a cooling rack/plate
      • On Stove Top: Add 1 tsp butter to a pan. When heated, add the chicken and marinade to the pan. Don’t overcrowd the chicken. Fry on high flame until liquid evaporates and chicken is cooked through.
  2. Prepare the gravy:
    • In a blender, make a smooth puree of the cashews and tomato paste and set aside
    • In a wide pan, heat the butter. Sauté the cardamom and clove till the cloves splutter and cardamom plumps up, and add in the onions
    • Sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes and add in the ginger and garlic. Continue to sauté the mix for 2-3 minutes on medium flame. The onions should be soft and translucent
    • Now add in the cashew, tomato puree and stir. Fry this mix on medium-low flame for 2-3 minutes
    • Add the chili powder, coriander powder, salt and sugar and continue to fry this mix until the puree starts to thicken and leave the sides of the vessel
    • Add the milk and continue to stir to form a gravy (Add more milk if a thinner consistency is desired)
    • Simmer for 4-5 minutes on a low flame
    • Add in the chicken and simmer for 4-5 minutes
    • Add in the garam masala and the kasuri methi and stir. Simmer for 2-3 minutes
    • Switch off the stove and pour in the cream and let it rest. No need to stir it in
    • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with naan or rice
Grilled chicken pieces

Moong dal Kichdi

Comfort food! We’re in quarantine unfortunately, and my mind immediately went to the foods my mom would make to help our bodies heal and to boost immunity. Kichdi, a rice and lentil porridge, is one of those foods. A simple and quick one-pot dish that nourishes your body. Protein-packed, it’s a soothing Indian meal that’s perfect for someone under the weather (and even when you’re not)! I make this in the Ninja Foodi but it can be made in the Instant Pot or a Pressure Cooker.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Total time: 40 mins

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Ghee (or oil, for a vegan recipe)
  • 1/2 cup Basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup small whole green moong dal (or small yellow moong dal lentils)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 medium green chili finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Soak the basmati rice and moong dal in cold water for 15-30 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  2. Set the Ninja Foodi/ Instant Pot to sear option
  3. Add the 1 tbsp Ghee and when hot, add the bay leaf, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ginger and green chili
  4. Stir for a minute, and then add the diced tomato
  5. Stir for a minute and add the rice and dal along with 3 cups of water, turmeric powder and salt
  6. Secure the lid, select the pressure cook option, close the pressure valve and cook for 15 minutes at high pressure (12 minutes if using yellow moong lentils instead of the small whole green ones)
  7. When done, slow release for 20 minutes and open lid to release pressure
  8. Serve with a tsp of ghee

Wonton pork tacos

I made these Wonton Pork Taco recipes for a party and the guests loved it! Great appetizer for a party or even an option for dinner Give it a shot and tell me what you think. The steps are quick and will be worth it!

Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings :4

Ingredients

For the pork

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Soya sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion finely chopped

For the pickled vegetables

  • 1/2 cup red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup fine cut carrot sticks
  • 1/4 cup radishes cut fine (optional)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 jalapeno diced, deserved if you don’t like it spicy
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Remaining ingredients:

  • 12 Wonton wrappers or taco shells
  • Sweet chili sauce, to serve
  • 3 tbsp Chopped cilantro, to serve
  • Sesame seeds, to serve

Method

  1. Make the pickled vegetables:
    • In a medium glass bowl, mix well the 1 tbsp of sesame oil, as well as the rice vinegar, granulated sugar and salt. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved completely
    • Place the red and green cabbage, carrot sticks, radishes, and jalapeno in the above mixture and stir well. While you can eat this right away, it tastes best if you let it chill for atleast an hour
  2. Make the pork:
    1. Place a shallow pan on the stove and heat the 1 tbsp of sesame oil over medium-high heat
    2. Add the green onion and the ginger, garlic. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add pork and cook, breaking up with a fork, until no longer pink, 8-10 minutes.
    3. Stir in the Hoisin sauce, soya sauce, and Sriracha sauce. Fry another 2 minutes
    4. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes
  3. For the taco shells:
    1. Pre- heat oven to 375F
    2. Spray wonton wrappers with cooking spray, then drape over two of the metal slats of a steamer rack trivet. This creates a flat bottom and they stay open better to fill
      • Alternatively, use a cupcake tine and make wonton cups
    3. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Watch closely so they don’t burn

Assembly:

Add pork mixture to the wonton shells, top with pickled vegetables, drizzle with sweet chili sauce, sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds. Enjoy!


Goan Shrimp Curry

Curry and rice are Goan meal staples. Every summer when we visited our grandparents in Goa, we feasted on fresh fish. My parents would make a trip to the marketplace where you had a large, wet, slushy section devoted to fish. That’s where you heard fisherwomen loudly arguing with those who tried to haggle to a price that was deemed too ridiculous! These fisherwomen, all dressed so colorfully, sat with baskets overflowing with fish of all types – Shrimp/Prawns, Pomfrets, Mackerels, Kingfish, Shark. You had to know how to haggle or else, they smelled you were a novice and you’d end up paying three times the price. When my parents brought the fish home, we’d all help with cleaning the fish, and deveining those prawns. Then would come the grinding of the masala, on this large stone – that toned up your arm muscles by the end of the summer! Rechad-filled pomfrets, rava-prawns, ambot tik with shark, and prawn curry, the very thought makes me drool. But time is a critical asset these days, and thanks to shortcuts like coconut milk cans and food processors, I can whip up the same curries and then take my time enjoying the food and reminiscing about those holidays!

Servings: 4 people Prep time: 30 mins Cook time: 20 mins

Ingredients:

20 medium-sized Prawns or Shrimp – cleaned and deveined

For Masala

  • 1.5 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 8-10 Kashmiri red chilis
  • 6 Garlic cloves
  • 3 tsp whole Coriander powder
  • 2 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 Tamarind (marble-sized ball)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

Other ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • 1 medium Onion chopped finely
  • 1 medium Tomato chopped finely
  • 1 green chili – slit
  • Salt (to taste)

Method:

  • Apply ½ tsp salt to shrimp and leave aside for about 15 minutes
  • Grind all ingredients under “For Masala” using sufficient water to form a smooth paste. Keep aside
  • In a pan heat, heat coconut oil. Add onions. Fry till onions are a light golden brown and add tomatoes. Cook for 6-8 minutes till the tomatoes are soft
  • Add the ground Masala, green chili and salt to the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes
  • Reduce the flame and simmer for 8-10 minutes
  • Add the shrimp and cook for 4-5 minutes (cooking times will change based on the size of shrimp used – large shrimp for 7-8 minutes, medium shrimp for 4-5 minutes and small shrimp for 2-3 minutes)
  • Turn off heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes
  • Serve with hot rice

Char Siu (Chinese Barbequed Pork)

Nail Chinese BBQ pork with this recipe! My kids love going to a local Chinese dive because of the barbeque pork fried rice. They could eat that for lunch and then again for dinner! The restaurant isn’t close by and during Covid, we missed it much too much and had to try and replicate the recipe at home. The fried rice was easy, the bbq pork, not as much. A couple of recipe improvisations later, and we no longer need to step out for this bbq pork. Best of all, I know the cut and quality of the meat used and I don’t need to add red color.

Prep time: 10 minutes (not including overnight marinating time) Cook time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder (the more fat, the tastier it will be)
  • 2 tbsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1 cube red fermented bean curd
  • 2 tsp five spice powder
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp water
     

Method:

  • Cut the pork into long strips or chunks about 2 inches thick. Aim for uniform slices so they cook uniformly. Don’t trim any excess fat, as it will add flavor
  • Sprinkle the salt over the slices. Then poke each side of the long strips with a fork to help it absorb the marinade, when applied
  • In a bowl, make the marinade – combine the garlic, oyster sauce, soya sauce, hoisin sauce, red wine, Shaoxing wine, garlic, five spice powder and the bean curd. Mix well till smooth
  • Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the marinade. Cover and set aside in fridge
  • In a large ziploc bag, pour in the remaining marinade. Add the pork to the bag and massage the pork allowing the marinade to cover the pork well. Close the bag and refrigerate overnight, or 8-10 hours
  • When ready to cook, remove the pork from the fridge and let it rest on countertop while pre-heating the oven to the bake setting at 425F, with a rack positioned in the upper third of the oven.
  • Line an oven-proof bowl with an aluminum foil. Place 3 tablespoons of water between the foil and the bottom of the bowl to create some steam. Place the pork slices in a single row on the foil.
  • Place the bowl in the oven and set timer for 15 minutes
  • While pork is in oven, combine the honey with 2 tbsp of water
  • Cook for 15 minutes and then lather both sides with the pork marinade
  • Cook for another 15 minutes and lather both sides with pork marinade again
  • Cook for 10 minutes and lather both sides with the honey-water mix
  • Now turn up the over to 450F, and cook for another 5 minutes
  • Remove from oven and baste with the 2 tablespoons of marinade that had been set aside
  • Let it rest for 5 minutes – then cut and enjoy
  • Note: By now, the pork has cooked for 50 minutes total. It should be cooked through and caramelized on top. If it’s not caramelized to your liking, an option is to turn on the broiler for a couple minutes to crisp the outside and add some color. Please don’t walk away during this as it can sear quickly. You can also use a meat thermometer to check if the internal temperature of the pork has ready 160F

Serving suggestions:

This big batch of pork can be used right away or frozen. Use it for barbeque pork fried rice, as an appetizer by itself, or in Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches which my high-schooler LOVED enough to take to school two days in a row!


Spicy Korean Tofu

Spicy Korean Tofu (Air-fryer/Ninja Foodi/Stove-top)

This spicy, gochujang tofu recipe will have you craving for more. Not only is it flavorful, combine that with brown rice, steamed vegetables like broccoli or bok choy, and you have a healthy, vegan meal on your table in under 45 minutes.

Why Tofu? Tofu has a range of benefits – it’s a great add to an anti-inflammatory diet while providing a good amount of protein. But it can be bland. Adding some soya sauce and gochujang certainly ups the game! What’s gochujang? Gochujang is a fundamental ingredient in Korean cooking. It’s a thick and spicy-sweet dark red paste made from red chili peppers, and fermented soybeans. If you don’t have it handy, a little Thai chili paste or sriracha combined with a dash of soya sauce and sugar will serve as a substitute.

Servings: 4 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 14 oz package firm Tofu (sliced into cubes)
  • 2 tbsp dark soya sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp gochujang (or 1.5 tbsp sriracha, mixed with 1 tbsp ketchup, 1/2 tsp soya sauce and 1/2 tsp sugar)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 green onions (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 tsp ginger (finely minced)
  • 2 tbsp Oil (plus spray if baking) – sesame, vegetable or olive oil
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Drain water from the package of tofu. Press down gently on the tofu to remove as much water as possible
  2. Slice the block of tofu into 1/2 inch planks and then into bite-sized cubes
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine1 tbsp of the soya sauce and the tablespoon of cornstarch. Add in the tofu cubes. Gently mix to combine.
  4. You can bake the tofu in the air-fryer or cook it on a stove top
    1. Air-fryer option: I used an air-fryer, a Ninja Foodi. Set the Foodi on air-crisp option to 400F. Heat the cooking basket for 3 minutes. Spray with oil to coat the bottom of dish and place tofu cubes in it. Spray the top of the tofu lightly. Air-fry the tofu for about 12 minutes until crispy.
    2. Stove-top option: Heat 2 tbsp of oil (sesame or olive or vegetable oil) in a pan, and when hot, add the tofu and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown
  5. While the tofu is baking in the air-fryer, or stove, mix the soya sauce, gochujang paste, brown sugar and water in a bowl until combined
  6. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and the whites of the chopped green onion
  7. Saute on medium heat for 2 minutes
  8. Add the sauce and cook for 2 minutes
  9. Add the cooked tofu to the sauce and stir gently. Cook for 2 minutes
  10. Remove from stove top
  11. Best served right away, garnished with the chopped green onions
  12. Tastes great served on a bed of rice and with a side of steamed broccoli or bok choy


Pea Pulav (Basmati Rice)

No Indian meal is complete without the fragrant Basmati rice. And, in our house, no birthday or celebration was complete without my mom’s flavorful pea pulav – an aromatic dish made with long-grained Basmati rice and green peas, and flavored with cardamoms, cloves, and other spices. It was inviting enough to eat on its own, no sides needed. When I make it for a Sunday-special lunch, I will often mix in other vegetables and have a delicious meal on-hand in no time at all.

Interestingly, each of the spices have a health benefit – so why not take a couple of minutes and add flavor and nutritional benefits to plain ol’rice:

  • Bay leaves are a rich source of vitamins A, and C, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, promoting general health
  • Cloves are rich in antioxidants and minerals and known to strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, and aid in digestion
  • Thanks to it’s anti-inflammatory properties, peppercorn improves circulation, reduces joint pain and also helps combat high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases
  • Cardamom helps improve oral health and may have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Turmeric is said to ease joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 4 tbsp Ghee (or vegetable or olive oil)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 Peppercorns
  • 1 inch Cinnamon stick
  • 4 Cardamom – crushed
  • 1 large Onion (chopped finely)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup Green Peas
  • 1/2 cup Carrots (diced) – optional
  •  1 tsp Salt
  •  2 cups Broth ( veg, chicken or beef) – For perfectly separated rice – use the same cup to measure the rice and the broth

Instructions:

  1. Wash the rice very gently and drain all water. Rinse twice more so that the water is clear (this removes the starch from the rice). Drain water completely each time
  2. Place a large pan on the stove on medium heat
  3. Add the ghee to the pan
  4. Once the ghee is hot, add the Bay leaf. (Note: If the bay leaf sizzles immediately, you know the oil is hot. If not, wait a few more seconds, until you start to see the leaf sizzle)
  5. Add the rest of the whole spices to the ghee – cloves, pepper corn, cinnamon and cardamom
  6. Fry for 30 seconds
  7. Add the onions and fry for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent
  8. Add the turmeric powder and stir for another minute
  9. Add the rice to the pan, and fry for 1-2 minutes
  10. Add the stock, salt, and stir once, very gently
  11. Let the stock come to a boil then reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid
  12. Let the rice cook – will take about 10-12 minutes
  13. After 10-12 minutes, check rice. If all the water is evaporated, turn off the flame. Keep the container covered – allowing it to sit covered for 5 minutes
  14. Fluff the rice and vegetables with a fork and serve

Mexican Chorizo

Chorizo brings back memories of Goa. Goa was where we spent our summer holidays with our grandparents and uncle. The best part was the food….farm-fresh eggs, chicken, and lots and lots of pork. The pork was always one of the piggies we played with that made its way to the table. At that time, we didn’t realize why one or the other would go missing. I still remember the day when my sister learnt that her favorite pig Paklo was on the table….she stopped eating pork for a very, very long time. Eventually, years later, it was the taste of delicious Goan sausages which are very close to the Mexican Chorizo that lured her back to eating pork. It has been hard to make or buy Goan sausage and so, Mexican Chorizo is a great alternative. Are Goan pork sausages the same as Mexican Chorizo? They both use almost similar spices but they are not the same. Goan sausages, also known as choriz, are similar to the Portuguese chourico (Goa was once ruled by the Portuguese). It is cured like the chourico but unlike chourico, it still needs to be cooked before eaten. The Mexican chorizo is fresh and also needs to be cooked.

I hesitate to buy store-made sausages or chorizo after I read that it often includes mechanically separated meat (check the ingredients…you’d be surprised some of the top brands do that with hot dogs and sausages) and nitrates, which are supposedly cancer causing. Now that I figured out how to make this at home, it’s a easy way to have delicious chorizo on hand for tacos, burritos, with eggs or just about anything!

Servings: 3-4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 8 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Dry ingredients
    • 1 tbsp cumin powder
    • 1 tbsp red chili powder
    • 1 tbsp smoked paprika powder
    • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
    • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
    • 1/2 tsp clove powder
    • 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lb ground pork (preferably a 70/30 meat/fat content)

Method:

  • In a small bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients
  • In a large glass or metal bowl, ad the ground pork, vinegar, garlic and the dry ingredients. Mix until the ingredients are all well combined
  • Can be used right away or stored refrigerated in an air-tight container for 3-4 days for later use or freeze in a sealed freezer bag for up to 6 months
  • Cooking Chorizo: To use right away:
    • Heat a pan and add a tbsp of oil
    • When oil is hot, add 1/2 a chopped onion. Fry onion for 2-3 minutes and then add chorizo.
    • Sauté for 7-8 minutes on a medium flame, stirring and breaking the meat up with the spatula, until it is fully cooked through and meat turns from bright red to reddish-brown
  • I use this for tacos, and in burrito bowls
Chorizo Burrito Bowl

Hakka Noodles

Ever so often I crave Indo-Chinese food. More often than not, after a late night at work, my friends and I would grab Indian-style Chinese food from one of the street hawkers. Hakka noodles, Gobi (Cauliflower), Schezwan fried rice and Chili Chicken, were our staples. If you were lucky, there were no queues. If not, you stood around salivating waiting around the cart for your order to be ready. It’s amazing how the hawkers could serve all these dishes within 20 -30 minutes. They had no more than 1-2 huge woks over kerosene stoves, where they turned out one dish after another. The sizzle, the smoke, the pouring of all the sauces and mixing of all the flavors….ooh, I still salivate with the memories. While the kids’ favorite American Chinese dish is Orange Chicken from Panda Express, they equally enjoy Hakka Noodles while Nilesh and I are transported back to the streets of India.

Hakka Noodles is an Indian-style noodle dish. The noodles are made from 100% durum wheat. The typical vegetables are cabbage, carrots, capsicum (green peppers). I’ll often add mushrooms, spring onions, and edamame or green peas to get as much vegetables as possible. I also avoid too much of soya sauce and rice vinegar to keep the sodium lower. Feel free to adjust that to your liking.

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets – Ching’s Secret Veg Hakka Noodle
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 small red onion sliced
  • 4 spring onions – chopped
  • 2 medium carrots -shredded or chopped
  • 1 green pepper (capsicum) – chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup mushrooms (white) chopped
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp green chili/ red chili sauce
  • 0.5 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Follow instructions on the noodle packet to boil the noodles. When the noodles are ready, drain the water. Add 2 cups of cold water, drain again and then toss with 1 tbsp of sesame oil to prevent noodles from sticking. Keep aside.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp of sesame oil in a large wok
  3. Add the red chili flakes, ginger, garlic, red onions and the whites from the spring onions. Fry for a minute.
  4. Add the mushrooms. Fry for another minute
  5. Add the remaining vegetables. Stir-fry on high flame for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked but yet, retain their crunch
  6. Add the tomato ketchup, soya sauce, rice wine vinegar, green/red chili sauce, pepper power and salt
  7. Stir till the sauces are well combined with the vegetables
  8. Add in the noodles and mix gently till well combined
  9. Garnish with the remaining spring onions
  10. Serve hot and enjoy

Goan Beef Curry (Ninja Foodi / Stove Top / Pressure Cooker)

Every Sunday morning after 6:30am mass, we’d go to see Nana and Papa (my maternal grandparents) who lived close to the church. The best part was the breakfast that followed – hot parathas, sunny-side up eggs, with beef “sidish” (i.e. curry). And Marie biscuits to dip into a cup of tea. But I digress. I didn’t realize a sidish actually meant side-dish until much later when I moved to North America. Nana’s beef side-dish, was a thick beef curry – spicy, tangy, and so delicious and the perfect accompaniment to eggs and parathas. It also made a great meal with a side of cauliflower and her aromatic rice pilaf.

SERVINGS: 4 – 6

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 2 tsp Cumin seeds
  2.  2 inches Cinnamon stick
  3.  10 cloves
  4.  10 black peppercorns
  5. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 1 tsp red chili powder
  7. 8 large garlic cloves (peeled and roughly chopped)
  8. 2 inch ginger piece (peeled and roughly chopped)
  9. 1/2 onion (roughly chopped)
  10. 3 tbsp vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar one I run out of my stock of Goa vinegar. Regular vinegar works too)
  11. 2 medium potatoes (chopped into large cubes)
  12. 1 serrano pepper (or 2 green chilies (Indian or Thai) slit long
  13.  1 tsp sugar
  14. 3 tbsp oil
  15. salt to taste
  16. 2 lbs stewing beef
  17. Water

Method:

  1. For the ground masala:
    • In a small food processor, grind the first 6 ingredients until smooth
    • Add to that ingredients 7 through 10 and grind until smooth
  2. Add oil to a medium-sized non-stick pan or in a pressure cooker. When oil is hot, add in the ground masala, (keep the food processor aside, you’ll need it later) and fry on medium flame, until you see the oil start to separates from the ground masala – you’ll see it on the edges of the masala. About 2-3 minutes
  3. Add the beef chunks to the masala, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes
  4. Add half a cup of water to the food processor, swirling to get any masala remnants and then add to the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes
  5. If using a pan to cook on stove-top:
    • Add 2 cups of water, stir gently, bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 20 minutes
    • After 20 minutes, remove cover, add the potatoes, salt and sugar, and cook for 20 minutes
    • Go to step 7
  6. If using a pressure cooker:
    • Add another half cup of water, stir gently
    • Add cover of pressure cooker
    • Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes
    • When the time is up, immediately release the pressure
    • When the pressure has been released, add in the potatoes, salt and sugar. Place the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes
    • When done, immediately release the pressure
  7. Check meat for tenderness
  8. Adjust the salt, if you like
  9. Serve with Goan pav, bread, over rice, or with chapatis/parathas


SANTA FE Chicken (crock pot/ Ninja Foodi/ Instant pot)

At the end of a busy work day, I am usually too drained to cook a meal. Given that we try to eat low sodium, healthy meals, I’m constantly trying to figure out meals that are quick and easy to put together (easy enough that Nilesh can put it together too ;-)). And the Santa Fe Chicken comes to the rescue – made with corn, black beans, peppers, tomatoes and seasonings – all pantry staples. Put it into the crock pot, and 4 hours later, you’ll have a good, healthy meal. I served it over Cilantro Lime Rice, topped with low fat cheese, Greek yogurt (a great alternative to sour cream), chopped scallions and cilantro – your family will love this and you’ll be making this again!

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz (1-1/2 lbs) chicken breast
  • 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained or cooked at home
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 14.5 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted and chopped (optional)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 6 fat garlic cloves, minced fine
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (or cayenne pepper powder), or to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions and minced garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes till the onions soften.
  • Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients.
  • Combine chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, corn, cilantro, poblano pepper, red pepper, half the scallions, cumin, chili powder, and salt in the crock pot / Ninja Foodi/Instant Pot
  • Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.
  • For Crock Pot: Cook on high for 4 hours.
  • For Ninja Foodi: Cook with Slow Cook option on high for 4 hours
  • For Instant Pot: Cook with High Pressure option for 25 mins – quick or natural release
  • When cooked, remove chicken and shred
  • Return chicken back to the Slow Cooker/ Foodi/ Instant Pot and stir
  • Adjust seasonings to taste
  • Serving hot over cilantro lime rice or with tortillas, with your favorite toppings


Pork Carnitas

Who doesn’t love Mexican food? Make a big batch of pork carnitas and I can freeze some for when we’re in a hurry. I’ll use the rest in a burrito bowl, or tacos or even in a sandwich. A hot corn tortilla with some pork, red onions, cilantro, a dash of salsa is so satisfying. Or try it in a burrito bowl with lettuce, salsa, guacamole, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), cilantro, black beans and red onions, to make for one delish, healthy meal!

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder
  2. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, olive oil, and rub all over the pork
  3. Place the pork in a slow cooker (fat cap up). Add in the jalapeno, onion, bay leaves, garlic, and pour the orange juice over it
  4. Slow Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours
  5. Pork should be completely tender and will shred easily with a fork
  6. Remove from slow cooker and shred using two forks
  7. To thicken the juices left in slow cooker, transfer into a pan and reduce it down to about 2 cups

To Crisp in oven:

  1. Place the shredded fork in a single layer on aluminum foil on a pan. Place the pan in a pre-heated oven, under the broiler on high heat. Let it crisp for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven. Toss the pork using tongs, spoon 1/4 cup of the juices over the pork. Broil for another 5-6 minutes until the edges of the pork are crisp

To Crisp on stove:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large nonstick pan
  2. Add pork to pan without overcrowding. Pour 1/4 cup of juices. Wait until the underside of the port is crisp. . Add pork to the pan, avoiding crowding, and drizzle with ¼ cup of the juices. Wait until the juice has evaporated and the underside of the port is crisp. remove from pan. Repeat with the rest of the pork in batches.

Just before serving, drizzle over more juices and serve hot, in tacos or burritos.

Serve with diced onions, black/refried beans, salsa, Greek yogurt/sour cream, lime squeezed over it, chopped cilantro, corn, lettuce, grated cheese