Monday, June 29, 2009

My Imperfect Chapati's

    They are supposed to be soft, round and delicious to eat with any type of curry or daal. However, mine did not come out soft or round (but they were delicious!). I gave myself an A for effort after I finished making them even though they do not meet the normal chapati standards.  You all know that I do not like to stay in the kitchen too long. I like recipes that are easy, quick and nutritious and these seemed to fit the bill. Chapati's usually don't take my mother too long. So, I always thought that when the time comes it will be just as easy for me. Nope. Sure, I have made them before. I can count on one hand the number of times I have tried to make them. Maybe that is why I haven't perfected them yet? hmm.. practice makes perfect I guess.
   For those that are not aware of this wonderful accompaniment and substutituon for rice in Indian cooking; its a flat pancake-like bread cooked on a griddle or otherwise also commonly known as Roti. I make mine with whole wheat, for obvious health reasons. 
      So getting back to how imperfect they turned out. I fed these to my hubby this week along with some yellow daal (varan,the recipe is on here in one of the previous posts) and I knew they had come out a little hard, but he did not complain. He even took them to lunch the next day, so I had no reason to mention that they had not turned out has expected. However, this weekend when we went up to my mother's, my sister -in- law created the most wonderful chapati's that beat mine to the dust! He could not stop raving about how supple, soft and wonderful her's were. I did not fret- I took them as a challenge. This blog is a post to show that not all things I cook come out right, you cannot see them in the pictures- but they weren't that great. I will be making these again with some tips that my momn gave me, so that I too can create the most delicious chapati's in the world. So finally my husband can say "Resh, these are bangin." But they photograph so well don't they?

My mistakes:
  1. I left them on too long on each side of the pan (abut 3-4 minutes each) when 30 seconds on each side will do
  2. I had it on high flame instead of medium
  3. I pressed down on them as they were cooking instead of leaving them alone.
AVOID the above- follow the steps as is, and I guarantee that they will come out absolutely perfect!!!

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup room temperature water or as needed 

In a large bowl, add the whole wheat flour. Add water to the dough, and keep kneading it. Add some more water till the dough reaches al elastic consistency but is not sticky. Add the olive oil and knead till well combined. The oil will help with the sticky factor as well.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth. Divide into 10 parts, or less if you want bigger breads. Roll each piece into a ball. Let rest for a few minutes.
Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot, and grease lightly. On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the balls of dough until very thin like a tortilla. When the pan starts smoking, put a chapati on it. Cook until the underside has brown spots, about 30 seconds, then flip and cook on the other side. Continue with remaining dough.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stuffed Round Zucchini

              I am happy today!! I am happy because when I first saw round zucchini's in an Israeli cookbook, I didn't think that I would end up finding them locally a month later. Who doesn't love farmer's markets??? And this may shock some of you that already know about these wonders of nature, but to me I didn't even know they existed until a few months ago.   This is my perfect vegetable! I love to stuff and I adore squash. "WHERE CAN I FIND THIS?" was my mantra for about four weeks.  I knew that the only place I would probably run across them was in a farmers market. That is exactly what happened, but it happened unexpectedly when I was out with my cousin in Union Square. It's my favorite farmers market  Though on the bit expensive side, there is nothing they don't have. What shows up in my vision? Yup you guessed right, a round zucchini's, it was like a gift sent from the heavens. I think I even heard a few angels sing as I actually zoomed in to grab a few. To top it off, they were grown in South Jersey, so I knew that iwas supporting my Jersey farmers too. Victory!! I packed three. One for me, one for the hubby, and one for lunch the next day. 
Round zucchini's are no different than the regular long ones, they are just cuter and easier to stuff. There are many variations to this, but I chose ground chicken. I had it stocked, and I always improvise with whatever is in the kitchen.
So here goes:

Round Zucchini
4 Round Zucchini
1/2 lb of ground chicken
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon herbs de provonce
1/2 cup veggies (I used spinach and mushrooms)
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut a thin slice off the tops of the round zucchini and discard them. Using a small spoon, scrape out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick wall. Coarsely chop the flesh and squeeze dry.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the diced zucchini and veggies season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until barely tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the skillet. Add the onion, garlic, herbs de provonce and scraped out zucchini flesh and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes..Stir in the chicken season with salt and pepper. Cook till all the water/fat has evaporated and its relatively dry (the chicken should be cooked by this point)
Season the zucchini cups with salt and pepper and brush the outside with olive oil. .Mound the stuffing in the cups. Set the zucchini on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until tender and heated through. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award and Iced-Tea to sweeten the deal..

Yay!!! Someone thinks my blog is lovely and has bestowed upon me my very first blog award! Thank you so much Muneeba from An Edible Symphony. An amazing blog filled with yummy dishes that I have cooked in my own kitchen!!! I cannot thank her enough as I am giddy with excitement and now I can show off my new award. Yippe!!!

Ok down to business...The rules of this award is that I pass it on to ten blogs which I have recently discovered. Then, those recipients are supposed to do the same.

The following blogs have tickled my fancy and are truly unique. I love 'em all, and I hope you feel the same way. To kick off the summer, I made some sun-brewed iced tea. Make some now!!(recipe below); then enjoy a cool glass of iced-tea and surf through all the yummy blogs that I am passing this award to.
So here goes:

Sun-Brewed Iced Tea: I made this because we love drinks in our home. Juices, Iced Tea, Lemonade etc. Times are tough, and I can't keep running to the store all the time. So, I decided to make my own iced-tea. This way I get to control the amount of sugar my family is drinking and that I always have an unlimited supply. There are a billion variations, i.e: add lemons,or mint, or peaches. Just try it your way, with this basic recipe.
Very simply, fill up a glass container with water, add sugar. Stir. Use your judgment on the tea bags, you don't want your iced tea to be too strong (unless you like it that way). I put about 8 Lipton tea bags, covered it with saran wrap and let it out in the sun for 3 hours. Discard tea bags, and put the tea in the fridge till cold. DRINK UP and enjoy the summer!!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

ShakShuka: With Love, From Tel-Aviv

Its been ages hasn't it? Yes it has. I haven't written anything in a month! That was not my intention, I had planned on putting up bits and pieces of my vacation on the blog, to showcase different foods that I have tasted from Israel and Holland alike. That opportunity never came. This was a very busy vacation, but one that was filled with the most amazing food. From a Lafa (flat pita with Lebane cheese) to Gevulde Koeken (holland cookies filled with almond paste).

     In Israel, we delighted in refreshingly fresh salads, hummus, burgers (yes! the best burgers EVER) and Limonida's (lemonade with giant mint leaves). Even though I felt bad about leaving such wonderful dishes behind in Israel, Holland also had some fantastic foods to offer our tastebuds. For starters, there is nothing like their French Fries with Hollandaise sauce..or mayo. Every biscotti made my daily coffee ever so better. I had to buy some cookies and bring them back! Amsterdam spoiled us to no end. I desire their pancakes on a daily basis now.  I even ook the hubby to the supermarket in Amsterdam. Yes, that is how obssessed I am with supermarkets. I picked up about 3 different types of cookies to drink with my tea. The best one of the lot was Gevulde Koeke. So.Damm.Good.

I will be attemtping to make some of these tasty dishes in my own kitchen. Let's see how successful I am?

As far as this Shakshuka is concerned, my Father-In-Law makes the most amazing shakshuka in the world! This one is straight from his kitchen, made with his own two hands. I cannot tell you how easy it is to make this, and I will share some of his secrets so that you too can enjoy this yummy breakfast, lunch or dinner with very minimal effort.
Bon Appetit.
Shakshuka (Israeli Egg Dish, mainly for breakfast)
4 Eggs
1 red or green pepper, cored and diced
1 small onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 medium jalapeno, thin round slices
1 teaspoon tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil

Break open the eggs in a small bowl and set them aside.  In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add onions and garlic. Keep mixing till the onions   become translucent. Add the tomatoes and jalapeno's. Cover and let cook till the tomatoes become mushy and you start to see a sauce like consistency. At this point, add the tomato sauce and the rest of the spices. Mix, cover and cook for 5 minutes. When the sauce is blended well, add the open eggs slowly over the pan. Do not touch the eggs. The eggs should coat the top of the sauce completely. Cover and cook for another 7 mintues, till your desired doneness. Serve with pita or bread.

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