About Me

Hello. I started this blog to write about what I do in my chosen profession : a housewife. Some day I might cook or bake something interesting and enlist my 2 year old to help, on another day I make something from scratch instead of buying it from the store and sometimes I craft with my daughter. Once in a while, we travel or have a fun day outside. I am also doing what I can to recycle and reduce waste. I am still learning all of this and documenting my journey through this blog

Chickpea-Apple Curry (Chutney)

Chickpeas and apples do not seem to make sense together. But when you think of the apples as a tart and sweet flavor; that flavor does go great with chickpeas. Also, when you end up buying apples that are a tad tart to eat on their own (we just like our apples sweet), you have to come up with creative ways to use them.

Chickpea-Apple curried chutney

I am not sure whether to call this a curry or a chutney because while the consistency is curry-like, the flavor is chutney-like. That is where the famous word "curried" comes in and I decided to call it a curried chutney Smiley. The tart-sweet flavor accentuated by spices is always a hit with my taste buds and I loved the curry down to the last drop. I served this with spinach pesto parathas. Any kind of flavored parathas would go really well with this. The dish does not photograph too well and even I had not taken much effort to take a pretty picture. I was in a rush to finish the picture taking and dig in.

Chickpea Apple curry chutney


Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas
2 slightly tart apples
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 cardamom pods
1/4 tsp clove powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp yogurt
1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add asafoetida and cumin seeds.
  • Add the chopped onion and ginger, garlic pastes. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the turmeric, chilli, coriander, clove and cinnamon powders. Coarsely grind the fennel and cardamom seeds in a mortar-pestle and add them.
  • Add the peeled and chopped apples and the tomato paste. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the drained and washed chickpeas and 1/2 cup of water. Add salt to taste. Cover and cook till the apples are completely cooked. This could take 20 minutes.
  • Add the brown sugar, yogurt and pepper powder. Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve with parathas.
Chickpea Apple curry with palak paratha
Notes:
Half a teaspoon of chana masala can be added to the curry.

I am sending this to my favorite blogosphere event : My Legume Love Affair. This 61st edition is hosted on My Diverse Kitchen. This event was started by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and is now run by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen.

Strawberry salsa

The last in the series of the strawberry saga : the unusual strawberry salsa. Fruit salsas, specially mango salsa is well known but strawberry salsa, not so much. This is a great alternative to the regular pico or tomato salsa. It even looks just the same as the regular salsa. Only after scooping it with a chip and biting into it, do you realise there is something different about this salsa. The strawberries I used were not very sweet. They were just perfect for the salsa providing the right combination of tartness and sweetness.
Addictive Strawberry Salsa with Chips
Strawberry salsa

We polished off the entire bowl of this addictive salsa in one sitting. We had brown rice and kale chips from Costco and they went so well with the salsa. Just grab your favourite scoopers and a big batch of this salsa for a memorable movie night at home. Speaking of memorable, just writing about this salsa, makes me wish I could have some of it right now. Smiley

Strawberry salsa


Ingredients:
15 strawberries
1 tomato
1/2 medium red onion
1/4 of a small green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
about 10 sprigs cilantro
5 pickled jalapeno rings or 1/2 fresh jalapeno
1/2 chipotle pepper (in adobo sauce)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp honey (optional)
3 tsp lemon juice
  • Finely chop the strawberries, onion, tomato, bell pepper and jalapeno and chipotle peppers.
  • Mince the garlic cloves.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
  • Serve with your favourite chips. We had brown rice, black sesame chips and brown rice, kale chips.

Strawberry Jams - Strawberry Balsamic Jam and Strawberry Chocolate Jam

As I promised on my previous post, this time I write about strawberry jam. Making jams is such a rewarding experience, much like making achaar, the Indian pickle. Jams are generally thought of as a store bought commodity, so it makes home-made jams so much more special. As with anything homemade, you can control the quality of ingredients and know exactly what you are eating.
I tried two types of jams with my stash of Costco strawberries. A balsamic strawberry jam and a strawberry chocolate jam.
Strawberry Jam
My daughter couldn't keep her hands off the strawberry chocolate jam
While reading up on strawberry jams, I found some useful information. Strawberries are a fruit that is naturally low in pectin and pectin is the substance which helps the fruit juices to gel and combine into a jam. Apples are naturally high in pectin and commercially available pectin if often made from apples. So instead of buying pectin to make the jams, I added apples to the jam. Although, jams do not necessarily need pectin, introducing pectin to the fruits helps them to reach the jam consistency faster. Without pectin the fruits have to be boiled for a long time and that reduces the nutritional value of the jam.

I based my jams on these recipes.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

I used balsamic vinegar and black pepper in this jam. I was a little afraid of using the pepper and I think I used too little. I cannot really taste it in the jam. But I absolutely loved the taste of this jam. Way better than the store bought jam, if I may say so myself.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
2 apples
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper
  • In a large bowl, mix together the sliced strawberries, chopped apples and sugar. Cover it and let it sit overnight.
  • In the morning, bring the mixture to a boil in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and let it cook for about 15 mins till the moisture has evaporated.
  • Blend the mixture using a hand blender or a regular blender and strain. This step is optional but we really like a smooth jam. So I added this step.
  • Add the balsamic vinegar and pepper.
  • Cook till jam is done. *See notes
  • Let it cool completely and store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator.
Notes:
To find out if the jam is done, follow these steps :

  • Put a steel or ceramic plate in the freezer before starting to cook the jam.
  • When you are ready to test the jam doneness, drop a blob of jam on the plate immediately after removing it from the freezer.
  • Cut through the blob using the back of a spoon. If the jam does not run back and the cut line stays clean, the jam is done.

Strawberry Chocolate Jam

Strawberries and chocolate are a well known winning combination. They work great in a jam together. I basically made this for my daughter because the kid loves all things chocolate. (Which kid doesn't?)

Strawberry Chocolate Jam

Ingredients:
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 small apple
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
50 gm (1/2 of a) milk chocolate toffee bar or your favourite bar of chocolate
  • In a large bowl, mix together the sliced strawberries, chopped apples and sugar. Cover it and let it sit overnight.
  • In the morning, bring the mixture to a boil in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and let it cook for about 10 mins till the moisture has evaporated.
  • Blend the mixture using a hand blender or a regular blender and strain. This step is optional but we really like a smooth jam. So I added this step.
  • Add the lemon juice and the chocolate bar chopped into small pieces.
  • Cook till the chocolate is incorporated and the jam is done. *See notes
  • Let it cool completely and store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator.
Notes:
To find out if the jam is done, follow these steps :

  • Put a steel or ceramic plate in the freezer before starting to cook the jam.
  • When you are ready to test the jam doneness, drop a blob of jam on the plate immediately after removing it from the freezer.
  • Cut through the blob using the back of a spoon. If the jam does not run back and the cut line stays clean, the jam is done.

Strawberry Love - Strawberry compote and Strawberry shortcake with icecream

About a month ago, when strawberry season was still on; we went to a local farm for strawberry picking. We finally managed to make a trip to the farm before the end of the season after postponing a few times. I am so glad we went there because all of us had such a fun time. There was a sand box, riding toys, balls and other fun activities for kids. We had strawberry slushie there. It was so refreshing and sweet and had great strawberry flavor. A good indication that the strawberries would be great too. We also tasted funnel cake for the first time. It was light and airy and had just the right sweetness.

The strawberries were so sweet and juicy unlike anything we had seen before. I am afraid we will not be able to enjoy supermarket berries now. Smiley That just makes you think how much the food has been through before it got on your table from the supermarket and the forgotten way of eating fruit fresh off the trees.
After eating a lot of berries right away. I managed to keep some aside to make a few desserts.

Basic strawberry compote

The strawberries barely needed any help. I just cooked them down a bit. We absolutely loved it with some vanilla ice cream and almonds. We were just addicted to it while it lasted.

Icecream with Strawberry compote and almonds

This is hardly a recipe. Just a guideline. Adjust the ingredients depending on how sweet or unsweet the strawberries are.
  • Hull and cut the strawberries into big chunks.
  • Add the juice of half a lemon and some sugar depending on the sweetness of the berries.
  • Cook the mixture until the juices are released and strawberries have softened but still hold their shape well.
  • You might need to add a couple of tablespoons of water if the strawberries are not very juicy.
  • Use it warm or cold to top icecreams, pancakes or just eat it with a spoon.

Strawberry shortcake

The other dessert I always wanted to make was strawberry shortcake. It is always represented as this great dessert. I think it is special because this celebrates strawberries so well and strawberries indicate warm days are coming.
I based my recipe on this recipe from The Little Epicurean. It uses ice cream instead of whipped cream because seriously what is better than whipped cream? Ice cream, of course.
Strawberry Shortcake
I followed the same recipe for the biscuits. I just halved it and used a few substitutions to use what I had on hand.
  • Kosher salt instead of sea salt. The coarse grained salt adds that welcome salty pop between all the sweetness.
  • I did not sprinkle sugar on top of the biscuits.
  • Buttermilk powder instead of real buttermilk. This stuff works so well in baked goods and pancakes.
  • I treated the strawberries a little differently. I tossed them with some balsamic vinegar and honey instead of just sugar as mentioned in the recipe.
  • I added strawberries on top of the biscuit instead of on top of the ice cream so that the biscuit soaks up the strawberry juices.

I didn't have any strawberries left over for making strawberry jam. The farm had already closed for the season by then. So I got a big tub of strawberries from Costco. I made strawberry balsamic jam and strawberry chocolate jam. I also made strawberry salsa to go with chips with the rest of the berries. Recipes for these will be in the coming posts. 

Weekend update - Pool day and an outing to Catawaba Science Center

Summer is a good time to write about weekend updates. There are only so many weekends before it gets all cold and dreary again. It is the time to go out and have fun. This year summer has been like the indian monsoon season. It just rains every other day. It is good in a way that the sun is not so harsh due to the clouds.

So Saturday started off lazily with an Chickfila egg and cheese sandwich and oatmeal with homemade masala chai for breakfast. I cannot start the day without good masala chai and that means I have to get into the kitchen. The husband wanted me to take a break from the kitchen and so he got the breakfast while I made the tea. After webcam time with parents in India, we were off to the pool for a couple of hours. It was a good day to be at the pool; not raining and not too cloudy. I don't like to get wet but my daughter and husband love it. So while I was relaxing in the shade on the beach chair, both of them were splashing around in the water.

We were back in time for a late lunch. We had a fridge cleaning lunch of all the leftovers : some vatana usal, some cabbage sabzi, some raita with heated up frozen rotis. After lunch, everyone except me was tired from the swimming pool activity. While they had a long afternoon nap, I was looking for ideas on how to spend a rain-prone Sunday. I found Catawaba science center about an hour away from home. It had aquarium, planetarium and other exhibits for kids. It was open only from 1 pm to 4 pm on Sunday.

We planned to leave home by 11:30 in the morning on Sunday but we were able to get out of the house only at 12:30. Not being early risers played a big part. We stopped on the way at Dunkin Donuts to grab a bite. We reached the Catawaba science center at 2:30. We just missed the sesame street planetarium show.
We first went to the aquarium part of the science center. The biggest draw there were the touch tanks. They had sting rays and small sharks in one of the tanks and conch.
Catawaba Science Center Aquarium

The shark and ray feeding talk was also quite good. There was a little play area in a corner for kids and a puppet play area. Our daughter loved it.
We had to take her away from there to see the butterflies temporary exhibit which was located in the building next door. There were lots of butterflies roaming around in a beautiful garden setting. They also sprayed nectar (sugar water) on our fingers so that the butterflies would climb on our fingers.

After that we had only half an hour left to see the rest of the science center and we missed seeing a lot of stuff. We will have to try and come here again with atleast 3 hrs to spend. The place is worth the hour long drive and is quite reasonably priced.
On our way back, we stopped at Rajbhog in North Charlotte. This place makes you feel like you are in India. The food is very spicy; the staff is trying to cope up with the queue of people and it is not the cleanliest place around. That is all part of the experience. The husband ordered dahi puri, dabeli and vada pav with chai. I got the vegetarian dinner meal and the daughter got plain dosa. The dahi puri was excellent and just like the ones in India. The dabeli itself was a little bland and felt like they sprinkled red chilli powder on top to compensate. Not worth trying. I was not a big fan of vada pav but the husband liked it. The dosa was good but not great like the ones at Woodlands. It felt like it might not have been fresh off the griddle. My dinner was worth the money. The rotis again didn't seem fresh off the griddle but they were good enough. The palak paneer and chole were tasty. We ended the meal with some gulab jamun to cool the spiciness. It was good although it was a tad dry. We felt like it needed more sugar syrup. But they are still better than gulab jamuns at most other Indian restaurants. This place definitely gets points on the value for money front and the taste isnt bad either.