Sweet Travels – Lancaster, PA

Sweet Travels – Lancaster, PA

Firstly, hope everyone is enjoying your holidays and a very Happy 2020 to all!

As you all know all my trips be it small or big is surrounded by nothing but Food, Food and Food šŸ™‚

So we decided to take a short drive with fam to Lancaster, PA just to break from routine. During my drive to PA, I was browsing vegetarian places for food stops as always and to my surprise came across plenty of options. During my stay and later on with numerous conversations with restaurant owners I came to know that a huge population in that area was vegan/ vegetarian.

I decided to pick a few that seemed interesting to me. So here goes :

The first one we tried was on Christmas Day and happened to be the one that was open and was packed.

1) Oka Asian Fusion

Primarily Japanese cuisine, Oka’ s menu was packed with delicious Sushi/ Hand Rolls of various kinds. The interesting part of the menu was a vegetarian section which had a good number of vegetarian choices for sushi rolls.

We decided to try the Avocado Peanut Sushi roll. And trust me guys – I am not a huge fan of sushi at all. This one was delicious and I have to admit that I ordered another plate of it after wiping clean the first plate:))

The menu also offered some fusion dishes like the vegetarian pad thai and spicy basil with tofu that we also tried and was delicious as well.

2) Issei Noodle

A small warm and cozy restaurant which smells delicious as you walk in. Once again, one of popularly recommended places which had plenty vegetarian options since the menu has a vegetarian section.

This place is known for its exceptional Ramen bowls so we ordered

Spicy Tan Tan Ramen :

Although it was not on the vegetarian section of the menu the waitress gave us the option of customizing this dish minus meat and fish sauce and substituting with fried tofu and people when I tell you – how delicious this dish was – I inhaled the dish and it was gone.

So hearty and healthy !

Haru Warm Ramen : was the next dish we ordered which again the waitress offered to substitute the pork and shrimp with tofu and vegetables. This dish was equally delicious.

The kids love curry dishes so they ordered a Red Curry dish with rice which was made mild and was so hearty too.

Last but not the least we ordered dessert which were 3 flavors of house made Mochi – Coconut flavor, Mango and the Red Bean. It melts in your mouth and by far the best Mochi I have had.

3) Roots

This casual urban vegan joint was so refreshing. The owner Rob makes his own Seitan from scratch and food is delicious.

We ordered a butternut squash pizza with caramelized onions , vegan Banh Mi and buffalo cauliflower. I would say each dish tasted so fresh and I understand all the vegetables and mushrooms are sourced locally.

This place has no freezer or uses no microwave so the food is pretty much fresh and made to order.

For dessert we ordered a Vegan orange cake to be honest to which I had very low expectations. How can one be successful baking a cake without eggs, cream and butter ??? But my friends – it simply blew my mind off. The cake was delicious with fresh oranges when you slice through. A place worth visiting and giving a shot for sure.

4) Upohar

This global vegetarian Restaurant I cannot emphasize how much I loved visiting.

Owners Puerto Rican Chef Christina Maldonado and Kolkata descent Srirupa Dasgupta create a global vegetarian menu which features a variety of dishes not limited to:

Syrian Rice, Green bean sautƩ, Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Syrian Kale, Cuban black beans, Yucca, Yellow rice with Pigeon Peas and fried sweet Plantains.

Christina, when I mentioned Love for extreme spice levels got a small container out which had this sauce – made out of ghost peppers, green chili, habanero and star anise. Mind you we had to get 2 more of those small containers and wiped it clean and ordered a TO GO šŸ™‚ – WARNING – It is extremely spicy!!! I grew up eating high level of spice so thoroughly enjoyed it.

Christina and Srirupa are not only extremely talented Chefs as you can tell the food is homely and super flavorful yet healthy and delicious. They are women who also wanted to give back to the community by training refugees and who bought in their household dishes to the table and giving them a new life.

In Bengali language “Upohar ” means a gift.

Upohar is truly such a gift to the community and I say this since I have eaten at so many traditional Indian fare buffet places – this one was truly exceptional and global bringing Cuisines from all over the world to the table and to top it all – VEGETARIAN !!

Last but not the least – ORDER the FLAN people. By far the best FLAN and yes I am not ashamed to say I had Christina pack a second order of flan to take back home along with my container of ghost pepper concoction ( wink wink)!!!

Thank you Christina for the awesome experience. And I look forward to coming back here more…..HIGHLY RECOMMEND !!

Until next time … lots of love and wishing you all a very happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year and most importantly a healthy 2020 !!

Cooking Class for the Newcomers-Encore Club of Short Hills and Millburn

Cooking Class for the Newcomers-Encore Club of Short Hills and Millburn

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The Newcomers-Encore Club is a social club open to all residents of Short Hills and Millburn, no matter how long they’ve lived in the area. The Club organizes various fun events and activities through out the year for its members.

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One of my good friends Neetu Salhotra approached me with an idea for offering a cooking class for the Newcomers group. I agreed and we both exchanged a few ideas and emails to come up with the following menu for the group.

  1. Quinoa with roasted Cauliflower, Cranberries and Walnuts
  2. Curried Brussel Sprouts with Paneer and Bell Pepper
  3. Lentil pudding

I printed recipe cards and handed it to everyone. There was a lovely group of 10 wonderfully enthusiastic people ready to whip up these dishes. I split them into groups of 2 and they were so good at following the recipe and carrying out their tasks like chopping/ cooking/ seasoning/ garnishing-that we finished the class right on time for all of them to taste the dishes that they cooked as a team.

It was interesting that they all had one thing in common to tell me that they learnt a few new ingredients that they used in the class-

  1. Freshly ground garam masala
  2. Fresh coriander seeds
  3. Fresh cardamom seeds for the pudding
  4. “Jaggery” for the pudding- it is a healthier substitute for sugar
  5. Dried Fenugreek leaves for brussel sprout dish

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I think it is extremely gratifying to know that people have a nice take away from the class apart from learning to cook couple dishes -in this case- introduction to a set of new ingredients that they werent used to cooking with and now are willing to incorporateĀ in their everyday cooking:)

I am very grateful to all of you and always appreciate the team effort that leads to such wonderful cooking experiences with beautiful people like you.

Stay tuned for more events coming up soon…..

 

 

 

Roasted Fennel Soup

Roasted Fennel Soup

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HEALTHY ROASTED FENNEL SOUP BY CURRYLICIOUSME

Recently I went to this restaurant which had some awesome Italian dishes of which their Roasted Fennel Soup blew me away! The soup was delicious and I made up my mind to recreate that dish excepting I did not want to use potatoes. The roasted fennel soup in the restaurant had potatoes which according to their Chef helps make the dish thicker in consistency and creamier.

I tried to recreate the same soup at home minus the potatoes šŸ™‚ I would love to share this extremely delicious yet healthy dish with all of you today.

Ingredients

1 medium Fennel bulb with fronds

1 medium Onion4 garlic cloves

1 tsp lemon pepper powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne

2 tablespoon milk

1/4 cup vegetable broth

salt to taste

 

Preparation:

1) Take a baking pan and cover it with aluminum foil to avoid messy clean ups:) The first step is to chop the fennel bulb.

How to chop the fennel bulb?

Chop the fronds or the tiny spikey leaves off the fennel bulb. DO NOT THROW away the fronds as it is very flavorful and can be used as a pretty garnish for the soup.

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Take off the outer layer or leaf from the fennel bulb and then cut in half. Similar to onions, fennel also have a core at the bottom that has to be removed carefully using a knife. I usually cut a V shape around the core and dice it out.

 

 

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Now wash the rest of the fennel and chop evenly into small uniform pieces. Transfer the chopped fennel pieces to the baking pan covered with foil.

2) Dice a medium Onion evenly and transfer to the pan with chopped fennel pieces.

3) Chop garlic finely and transfer to the pan with chopped onion and fennel pieces.

4) Drizzle olive oil along with salt, cayenne, lemon pepper and garlic powder and toss to mix well.

5) Stick the baking pan in the oven at 360 F for about 45 minutes.

6) Once done, take it out of the oven, let cool and transfer to a food processor or blender.

 

 

7) Blend the pieces of baked and chopped fennel, onion and garlic along with vegetable broth.

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8) Transfer the blended mixture to a pot and check seasoning and add 2 tablespoon of milk (to add creaminess to the texture) and wait till it boils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9) Your roasted fennel soup is ready and you may garnish it with the fennel fronds.

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Roasted Fennel Soup by Curryliciousme

 

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Roasted Fennel Soup by Curryliciousme

 

Baked baby eggplant topped with onion, habanero mango salsa, goat cheese and basil

Baked baby eggplant topped with onion, habanero mango salsa, goat cheese and basil

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I love baby eggplants but in India we always removed the skin and cooked it to a point where it gets mushy and it would drive me

nuts when my mom would insist that i eat this mushy eggplant curry with my rotis/bread. I wanted to come up with an eggplant dish that I would rather enjoy to eat than be forced to eat:(

So here goes people!

This is by far my best take on the Mighty Eggplant! and takes you less than 15 minutes to prepare this. Its an awesome dish to consider if you have guests coming over.

Ingredients:

4-8 baby eggplants

Olive oil

Goat cheese crumbs

5-6 Basil leaves

Salt to taste

Black Pepper

Lemon pepper powder 1/4 teaspoon

Garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon

Finely chopped onions- 1/4 cup

Habanero Mango Salsa( I sometimes make this at home using habanero peppers and finely diced mango cubes with onions and tomatoes but you can always find and buy a bottle of any salsa at the supermarket if you do not want to deal with the heat of habanero peppers)

Note: You can substitute any salsa depending on your or the guest’s tolerance to spice levels. BUT I strongly recommend this combination:) Trust me its delish!!!if you can tolerate spice or heat!

Preparation:

Cut the baby eggplants in half and place them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper(for easy clean up). Then sprinkle salt, black pepper, lemon pepper and garlic powder on top of each half to make sure that they are well seasoned. Then drizzle some olive oil on top of each half and top it with some chopped onions, 1/4 teaspoon of the habanero mango salsa and garnish with some crumbs of goat cheese and chiffonades of basil.

Stick this into the oven at 350 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes. Voila! I insist on a particular combination of salsa and cheese for this particular recipe since the habanero (heat) and the mango (sweet) in the salsa cuts the tanginess of the goat cheese and the flavors become so well balanced.

Refreshing Whole Wheat CousCous Salad

Refreshing Whole Wheat CousCous Salad

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Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Cous Cous- 1 cup

Cayenne Pepper- 1 teaspoon

Chopped Green Beans- 1/4 cup

ChoppedYellow Squash- 1/2 cup

Green Peas- 1/4cup

ChoppedĀ Carrots- 1/4 cup

Onion- 1

Tomato- 1

Jalapeno- 1(optional for heat)

Fresh garlic- 3 cloves

Salt to taste

Garlic powder- 1 teaspoon

Cumin seeds- 1 teaspoon

Curry powder- 1/2 teaspoon

Preparation

This recipe takes less than 10 minutes if you have all the vegetables chopped and ready. So if you are pressed for timeĀ or want to make a quick dinner all you need is to chop the veggies ahead of time or you can buy the chopped frozen vegetables from the supermarket. You can thrown in pretty much any veggie and improvise this recipe.

Firstly chop onion, tomato, jalapeno, green beans, carrots about 1/2 an inch and try to chop them evenly so they cook evenly.

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Take a non stick saute pan and keep it on low flame. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and then add cumin seeds. Wait for the cumin seeds to get toasted and splutter. Now add the chopped onion, tomato, jalapeno and vegetables along with salt to taste, garlic powder and curry powder. Mix well and saute for about 2 -3 minutes.

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Now add 1 cup of whole wheat CousCous and 1 1/2 cups of water.

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Mix well and keep covered for about 5 more minutes till couscous absorbs all the water. Fluff cooked CouCous with a fork and serve with Tzatziki on the side.

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I also make a chilled Raita with onions, cucumbers and green chillies to be served along with this salad.

Enjoy!