Japanese Tofu Salad (Shiraae)

There are times when you want to eat lite after all the binging you have been doing on weekends.Here is a one meal with all the nutrients that you would require. Shiraae is an easy to prepare Japanese salad with mashed tofu; seasoned with sesame paste.I have used substitutes to bring the salad as close to the original.

100gms firm tofu
2 cups diced carrots
1/2 cup peas
1 cup boiled spinach, cut 1 inch in size
1 cup chopped mushroom (optional)
1/2 cup dashi (I used dried mushroom available in India)
1tbs mirin (I substituted it with some rice vinegar and white wine)
2tps Soy sauce
1tsp demerara sugar
for seasoning
2tbs roasted white sesame seeds (I used home-made tahini)
1tbs soy sauce
1tsp demerara sugar

Lightly boil the tofu. Allow it to cool and drain the water out. Mash  tofu and let it sit in a strainer for about 15mins; until water is all drained out.
Put dashi,mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a pan and bring it to boil. Add carrots and peas and simmer on medium heat until the carrots are soft.
Grind sesame and add soy sauce and sugar and mix well.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and serve at room temperature.Serves 4.
(Recipe source: about.com)

This is my submission to this month’s destination Japan, hosted by  My Kitchen, My World, to SOS Challenge – Sesame, hosted by Diet, Dessert & Dogs and Affairs of Living, to My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Dil Se..and The Well-Seasoned Cook, to Souper Sundays, hosted by Kahakai Kitchen and to Tasty Tofu Treats, hosted by Seduce Your Tastebuds.

Yellow & Red Pepper Risotto

I’ve always eaten risotto at some restaurants and never got an opportunity to try some home-made ones….
Some of my friends/cousins have tried their hands at it and they complain that it takes a lot of preparation time to get that perfect texture.
My quest to try my hands at risotto thus begun and I was determined to explore this new found recipe…..I went through a lot of websites online and found that if you follow the right procedure carefully and are patient; you have made yourself the perfect dish.
Risotto, is a rice dish that makes its own sauce.You don’t have to use cream or milk to achieve the creamy or milky effect. It’s all in the rice. The rice has to be short- grained; filled with starch unlike the long-grained rice like Basmati.The starch combined with a small amount of fat and broth makes the velvety sauce risotto.Although not difficult, risotto is somewhat labor-intensive. It takes fairly constant stirring for about 25-30 minutes. This is what releases the rice’s starch and creates the sauce.

Yellow & red pepper risotto is a colourful dish; ideal for any dinner.So go ahead and indulge yourselves; in making yourself an elegant dish of risotto.

1 cup arborio rice
1 yellow pepper chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup sliced yellow zucchini
2 garlic clove, minced
2 tbs butter
1tbs olive oil
5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (can add more if you like)
2tbs finely chopped parsley

In a skillet cook peppers in water and 1tbs of butter, covered partially, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft.Puree peppers in a food processor or blender and strain through a coarse sieve into a small bowl.

In the cleaned skillet cook onions in 1tbs remaining butter over moderate heat, stirring until turned light brown, add garlic,sliced zucchini and cook until soft, and season with salt and pepper.

In a saucepan heat or broth and keep at a bare simmer or microwave.

Take a non-stick pan (chances of burning the rice is lesser),add olive oil and keep stirring dry rice for several minutes in the oil over medium-high heat until it is golden, but not burnt. This also helps the rice to release the starch later on, and creates a nice nutty flavour.
Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until wine is absorbed.If you are not using wine; you can start adding broth.Add about 1/2 cup simmering broth and cook, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.
Continue adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, and cooking, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is ‘al dente’, about 20 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and stir in pepper puree, zucchini, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.Serves 2.

(Source: grouprecipes.com,about.com)
This is my submission to this month’s Food palette series – Orange, hosted by Torview and to Virtual Girls Night In: The Indulgent Edition, hosted by Dragon Musings. A word of appreciation for Dragon Musing for aiming at donating $50 to the Cancer Council. All the best!!!
If you would like to donate/contribute, please click here.

Beet Appetizer Salad/Moroccan Beet Salad

Moroccan salads play a big role in Moroccan cuisine, and most families serve them almost daily. Garden-fresh vegetables might be peeled and chopped before being tossed with a vinaigrette, or they might be cooked with spices and olive oil to make dip-like salads. Most salads can be refrigerated for 2-3 days.

Handling of beet has always been a concern for me….I found some helpful tips on how to handle beets:

  • Choose beets of uniform size to promote even cooking.
  • To retain nutrients and color, boil, bake or steam without peeling first. The skin will easily rub off under cold running water after they are cooked.
  • When trimming, leave at least an inch of the leaf stems attached and do not remove the root. The stem and root are removed after cooking.
  • If you must peel before cooking, a swivel vegetable peeler works better than a paring knife.
  • To avoid staining your fingers, wear rubber gloves when handling beets.
  • To remove beet juice from fingers, rub with wet salt and lemon juice and then wash with soap and water. For cutting boards and plastic containers, use a
  • bleach solution.
  • 1 Tablespoon of vinegar added to beet cooking water will not only reduce the odor of the cooking beets, but also help them retain their bright color.
  • For older beets, try adding a pinch each of sugar and salt to each cup of cooking water to revive sweetness and color.
  • Beets are naturally high in sodium, so no salt is necessary in the cooking water.
  • To microwave whole beets, pierce the skin and place one pound in a micro-proof dish with 2 Tablespoons of water. Cook on high for 9 to 12 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before cooling and peeling.
  • To avoid bleeding of color into other ingredients, add beets just before serving if possible.
  • When cooked, drain off the hot water and fill the pot with cold tap water. Do this a couple of times, until the beets are cool enough to handle. Now take each beet in your hands and just slide the skin right off with your fingers. How easy!!!

(Source: homecooking.about.com)

2 medium sized beets, boiled & diced 
1 small onion, diced
1 tomato, skinned, seeded & diced
1 tsp crushed garlic cloves
2 tbs finely chopped parsley
2 tbs finely chopped cilantro
4 medium sized potatoes, boiled & sliced

For the dressing

2 tsp vinegar
4 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

green or black olives for garnish

Mix together the dressing ingredients.
Combine beets in a salad bowl with the onion, tomato, garlic cilantro & parsley.Pour over half the dressing, toss gently. Place the sliced potatoes in a shallow bowl & toss with remaining dressing.Chill both beet and potato salad for 30 minutes.
When ready to assemble, arrange beets, tomato & onion in the center of a shallow bowl & arrange potatoes in a ring around them. Serve cold garnished with olives.
(Source: recipeland.com)

This is my submission to this month’s destination Morocco hosted by My Kitchen, My WorldVegetarian Foodie Fridays hosted by Breastfeeding Moms Unite!, Healing Foods – Beet, hosted by Mharo Rajasthan’s Recipes & Siri’s Corner, Low Oil/Low Calorie hosted by Mharo Rajasthan Recipes & Foodelicious, Dish name starts with ‘B’ by Learning-to-cook, and finally to this week’s Souper Sundays hosted by Kahakai Kitchen.


Chicken Chop Suey

Taste & Create is a monthly event where blogger are paired with each other and have to create one of their recipes. It was time for me to explore new blog for a different taste…..

NO REASON NEEDED is my partner for this month’s event. I short-listed few recipes below:

Lime Chiffon Dessert
Chicken Chop Suey
Sweet n Sour Pork
Spaghetti Sauce

I don’t like elaborate cooking and found the above easy and quick to cook.
Well they are a good handful pick and confused as always….I asked my husband to pick one for dinner..and the result: Chicken Chop Suey…

The selection was spot on and it turned out to be an absolutely satisfying meal. The flavor was just perfect and very different in comparison to spring onions and garlic that are most commonly used in Indian-Chinese cuisine….

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
1¼ cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp. corn syrup (I used honey)
½ tsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 cups sliced celery
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
I added an additional cup of green pepper

Rinse chicken; pat dry. Cut into ½-inch pieces. For sauce, stir together the broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, molasses, and ginger; set aside.
Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.) Stir-fry the celery and onion in hot oil for 2 minutes. Add fresh bean sprouts, if using, and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes more or till celery and onion are crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from wok or skillet.
Add half the chicken to the hot wok. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or till no longer pink. Remove chicken from wok. Repeat with remaining chicken. Return all chicken and cooked vegetables to the wok; push from the center of the wok. Stir sauce; add to the center of wok. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Add canned bean sprouts, if using. Stir to coat with sauce. Cook and stir about 1 minute more or till heated through.
Serve immediately over noodles or steamed rice.

A must try and will surely make it again. Hope you’re having a great weekend.

Lentil Kofte (Mercimekli Köfte)

I’ve been following couple of blogs, for the love of cooking and have been drawing inspiration to start a blog of my own. I had started reading and doing some research on other blogs; that’s when I came across AWED -Turkey. It raised in me the need for action :
a) Last year I visited a place and loved it!!!
b) This will be my first shot to initiate blogging.
I started working on compiling and taking pics (which my hubby helped ) that’s when I realised, that blogging is not easy. It requires lot of time; kudos to all you bloggers for the time and effort that goes into this. So here I am trying my first stint at Turkish cuisine.

Lentil kofte is a very common dish with red lentils and bulgur(dalia/ broken wheat) made all over Turkey. It is one of the dishes that can be eaten as a main course or served as an appertizer.
It goes well with basic onion salad & yogurt dip that I am going to share.

Ingredients for kofte
1 cup of red lentils
1.5 cup of fine bulgur
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley (chopped finely makes about 1.5 cups)
4 – 5 green onions (chopped finely makes about 1 cup)
1/3 cup of olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 medium onion
1 Tbs tomato & red pepper paste
salt to taste

In a medium size pan, put the red lentils and 1.5 cups of water, cover and cook on low heat until water evaporates.
Put the bulgur in a big bowl, add the cooked lentils, mix well and cover the bowl.
You can also pressure cook (Indian way) the lentils and bulgar together.Water should be of sufficient quantity not making the mixture too wet or soggy.
In the mean time clean and cut the parsley and green onions fine.

Take the red pepper & tomatoes, halve and seed them before mixing them in a colorander. Heat olive oil in a pan and add the paste. Let it cook until the paste looks thick and leaves oil from the sides. You can also cool and store the paste in the refrigerator.

Cut the onion in very small pieces, cook them with olive oil using a small saucepan. Add the tomato and red pepper paste, cook until onions are very soft.

When the onion mixture has cooled down, add it along with the chopped greens to the lentil & bulgar mix.
Now you have all the ingredients to make your lentil balls in one bowl. Mix them by hand, lightly knead as needed. If too dry, you can add more olive oil (be careful not to add a huge amount at once).
Take a chunk, a bit bigger than ‘walnut’ size, roll in your palm and fingers to give it a shape. Shape all of the mix in this way.

Ingredients for onion salad
1 medium onion
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup parsley leaves (finely chopped)
lemon juice for garnishing

Cut the onion in half. Making very thin slices. Add the pepper and salt, work them through the onion making sure the onion releases its juice. Add lemon
juice if desired. You can add finely chopped lettuce if you would like as well.

Ingredients for Yogurt dip:

1 cucumber, peeled and grated
1/2 small bowl cold, plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh mint
olive oil

In a mixing bowl, combine cucumbers and garlic. Add salt to taste. Garnish with mint and drizzle olive oil on top.

Serve the yogurt dip, salad & kofte at room temperature or slightly colder.
This is my submission to DK’s AWED – Turkey, hosted by Saveur.