Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onions, toasted Cumin and Coriander

Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onions, toasted Cumin and Coriander

1/2 cup Yellow Pigeon peas or Red Lentils

1 large Onion

1 Tomato

Fresh Ginger

3 cloves of Garlic

Pinch of Turmeric

Salt to taste

Cayenne

1 teaspoon Lemon Pepper

1 teaspoon Coriander powder

Canola Oil/ Vegetable Oil

1 teaspoon Cumin seeds

Cilantro for garnish

2 teaspoons Lemon Juice

Take 1/2 cup of Yellow Pigeon peas (you can also use Red Lentils) in a pot on a gas and add 1 cup water and keep covered till it cooks completely.You will know the lentils are cooked thoroughly once they turn mushy. Add salt to taste.  Keep them aside.

Chop ginger,garlic and onions finely. Then heat a pan, add 2 teaspoons of ghee or clarified butter. Transfer the chopped onion, ginger and garlic to the pan. Also, add pinch of turmeric and cayenne, salt to taste, 1 teaspoon lemon pepper powder and saute well till the onions are caramelized. Then chop a tomato and add it to the pan. Sprinkle some water and keep covered till the chopped tomato cooks well and takes in all the flavors from the spices. This is called a “TARKA” in Indian Cuisine and adds richness to the humble dal which we cooked earlier. Once onion tomato ginger garlic paste is cooked and ready, add the “TARKA” to the cooked lentils. I like to use a hand blender and blend it a little so you can still see bits of caramelized onions and tomatoes. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice or add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Chop some cilantro leaves and use to garnish as well. Enjoy!

Nutrition facts

Lentils in general contain high levels of protein and the important aminoacids methionine, lysine and tryptophan.

Best moments from my cooking demo at Whole Foods in Montclair

Best moments from my cooking demo at Whole Foods in Montclair

I must begin by saying that I had the most wonderful time cooking for such a wonderful crowd at Whole Foods at Montclair in NJ yesterday.

Carmen, the lead for cooking demos at the store was such a cheerful person and helped me out completely with the set up of my station and making me feel like I was at my home kitchen:) Evelyn ran every single time to get stuff whenever I ran out of sampling plates or spoons. I dont remember stopping for a single minute to even drink a sip of water. I was completely in my zone once people started coming in and thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it that I dint want to miss any of it:)

So what did I cook? I had exchanged several emails with Carmen before coming up with this menu. Knowing Montclair and its residents, I knew QUINOA was one of my choices. A lot of people came up to me with difficulty pronouncing Quinoa and I had to break it up for them as (pronounced as K-i-N-WAH) 🙂

I decided to go for a Quinoa Salad. One, the reason being -Tuesdays at Whole Foods is Local Tasting meaning I was asked to make the best use of as much as local produce that was at the store. I instantly felt like a kid in a candy store- especially if you ask a vegetarian like me to pick local produce/veggies!!!!

The second reason being- Quinoa is a grain-like crop grwon for its edible seeds and is a complete protein as per nutritional evaluations. Quinoa high in dietary fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calicium and is popular amongst vegans and for those who are lactose intolerant. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest.

I decided to incorporate as much veggies possible, like zucchini, summer squash, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers…..and made a Quinoa Salad. Of course I sauted my onions, tomatoes, zucchini and squash with my special blend of freshly toasted and ground Indian spices! or freshly ground “curry” powder.

My demo was to start at 3 pm but I reached the store early so I have enough time to set up and start cooking the Quinoa. Carmen said the expected crowd between 3 and 6pm on a Tuesday at Whole Foods was about 150!!!! So I cooked for that many :))))

I had this huge pot that was simmering away with my Quinoa and veggies in it. I had just begun making my sauce- I wanted to make an Indian curried sauce to layer on top of the quinoa to take the salad to a next level.  Meantime, I saw many people approaching my station and urging me to make samplers. Being the person I am, I started making samplers of just the Quinoa while working on the making that sauce at the same time. I was so happy to hear wonderful comments from people who merely tasted the Quinoa with veggies. A lot of them said, they got the package of quinoa but when they took it home and tried cooking it- it was dry or that they werent able to get the proportion of quinoa versus water right.

A simple trick is- I never follow package instructions because it always says 1: 1!!!!! No way- you will end up with a plate of undercooked quinoa. Always, add extra broth or water to check  if the quinoa is cooked completely. You know its done is when all the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated. Also, while cooking the Quinoa always try and keep it covered or use a lid to cover.

Now I make my sauce with garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes and my freshly ground spices. I layer the Curried sauce over the Quinoa. I wanted to use a layer of crunch on top of the sauce so I used Organic Tempeh from Whole Foods and crumbled it, seasoned it well with cumin, coriander and “curry powder”. I saute the crumbled tempeh with a tad bit of oil in a pan till it gets a crisp coat on the surface. Now Tempeh is a meat substitute made of Soy and is very high in protein.

So I layer my sauted crumbled tempeh over my curried sauce and quinoa with veggies. I garnish the whole dish with some green scallions, colored bell peppers and some tomatoes and top it off with some cilantro!

A lot of you them who stopped by my station asked me if I sold the Sauce in a jar and they wanted to buy it:)LOL

But I promised them, I will look into it- its a possibility I would explore!!!!

They loved my sauce and the dish and were very encouraging and  appreciative,

All the kind words, words of encouragement and love is what motivates me so keep it coming guys…..can never get enough!!!

Thanks much to my friend Rob and his sister April Peters for coming out, tasting my dish and being so supportive!

Thanks again to every single person who came out to Whole Foods, and stopped by my station to taste my dish-Appreciate your time and I hope I was able to answer every one of your questions on the dish and otherwise…..

(This pic was taken at the end of the cooking demo at 6pm and I am exhausted, struggling to smile for the camera but my husband and kids came to pick me up and I was thrilled to see them !!!!Thanks so much for being so supportive!)

With much love ……. and looking forward to more events so keep tuning into my blog for updates on events and where to find me:)

Pan Seared Mushrooms in a Cilantro Basil Sauce with Candied Ginger

Pan Seared Mushrooms in a Cilantro Basil Sauce with Candied Ginger

1/2 Cup button mushrooms

1 Large Onion

2 tomatoes

1 tsp cayenne

1 piece of garlic

1 tsp cumin

1tsp coriander

1 tsp curry powder/ garam masala

2 tablespoon coconut milk

1/4 cup cilantro

1/4 cup basil

Salt to taste

Vegetable Oil/ Canola

An inch of fresh ginger(optional) for garnish

Preparation:

Chop up the onion, garlic and tomatoes finely. Remove the stems of the mushrooms and cut them into half. Take a wet paper cloth and wipe them to take off any dirt on them. Take a pan, add a teaspoon oil, transfer the chopped onion, garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add cumin, coriander, cayenne, curry powder and salt to taste.

Then transfer the mushrooms and saute with the rest for about 5 min’s or so. For the sauce, add cilantro, basil and coconut milk in a blender and blend well. Add salt to taste. Transfer the sauce to the pan and cook for 2 min’s under a low flame.

For the garnish, cut the ginger into thin strips length wise and saute with some honey or sugar.

Plate and Enjoy!!!

Pan seared Mushrooms in a Cilantro Basil Sauce with Candied Ginger

Pan seared Mushrooms in a Cilantro Basil Sauce with Candied Ginger

My Love Story with Mushrooms

Mushrooms-Plant of immortality?? Growing up in India, we never ate mushrooms and was never cooked in my household or my husband’s ! Me and my husband never tried mushrooms here since we were never raised eating one back home. So I had to do some research to make a delicioussssss dish that would get us to love shrooms!

Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D. It is such an excellent substitute to meat for vegetarians like me and my husband. I came up with this dish and OMG !!!!!!and there s never turning back on the shroomssss ever again:)

I make this delicious sauce with cilantro, basil and coconut milk(very little!!!) and pan sear the mushrooms with onions and peppers. The best part is yet to come- Candied Ginger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Trust me -its heavenly and I mean it. You must try this dish and you will fall in love with mushrooms. My husband did and he’s a hard one to crack( LOL )

I plate the dish with some of my cilantro basil coconut milk sauce and place the pan seared mushrooms with onions and peppers and on top for the garnish——-its Candied Gingerrrrrrrrr.

This is one of my most prized possessions and so email me if you would like to try this and I will send you the recipe:)

Creamy Cottage Cheese Curry prepared in a wok

Creamy Cottage Cheese Curry prepared in a wok

I want to start by introducing all of you to what a “Kadai” is? Kadai in India means a wok:) I prepare this awesome “currylicious” cottage cheese dish in a wok tossed with colored bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. I throw in a bunch of spices that the flavors and smell travel to my neighbours and they say “not again, Nandini- We smell another curry in the making. Are we invited”?

I just feel very generous today 🙂 and would love to share this recipe with all of you. I bet you will fall in love with this currylicious dish!!!