Catering for the International Fair at South Mountain, Millburn Elementary School 4/4/13

Catering for the International Fair at South Mountain, Millburn Elementary School 4/4/13

One of my very dear friends called me to check if I could cater for Millburn Elementary school’s International Fair day. On this day, all the parents and kids get to taste different cuisines from all over the world and so I decided to take up this challenge to represent Indian Food. According to the instructions that was given to me by my friend, they needed something that was easy for kids as well as parents to pick and eat, dishes I prepare should obviously have flavors of my country India, it has to be ALLERGY FREE  🙂 and not very spicy. They also mentioned that they needed a dessert as well that had no nuts, no milk and so forth so even kids or parents with nut or milk allergies would be able to enjoy it. I decided to make VEGETABLE ROLLS and for dessert, my favorite CARAMELIZED BANANAS WITH TOASTED SWEETENED COCONUT FLAKES AND CARDAMOM.

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I woke up early this morning all ready to take up the challenge. My vegetable rolls needed stuffing for which I decided to saute onions, bell peppers and boiled cooked potatoes with a bunch of home ground Indian spices. Once the stuffing was cooked and ready, I started spooning in some of the stuffing in each roll and folding it and cutting it into 3 for mess free eating:)

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I was asked to make 75 such Vegetable rolls and cut into 3 so a total of 225 pieces and a small tray of dessert.

It took me a while to make and cut those 225 pieces:)  I then had to start on my dessert. Dessert was simple but healthy and delicious. I had some cardamom seeds in my pantry so took them and freshly ground them using mortar and pestle. I chopped the most number of bananas I ever have in my life so far:) and used a tad of clarified butter along with brown sugar to get those puppies cooking and caramelized! Then I sprinkled some toasted sweetened coconut flakes on top and added some freshly ground cardamom as garnish- Pure heavenly bliss!

I packed everything up and had it dropped at the Millburn Elementary school, my dishes proudly representing my country India and its flavors!!!! My friend also sent me a picture clicked at the fair with most of the food gone in the trays:)

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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:)

Baked Cauliflower with Pecans, Caramelized Onions in a Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Baked Cauliflower with Pecans, Caramelized Onions in a Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

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I received so much great feedback from my “Absolutely healthy Cauliflower dish” that it inspired me to make another one- this even better because of the coriander yogurt sauce.

The recipe is very similar but this time with a slight variation. I place the cauli florets in a baking pan along with Pecans and then sprinkle some salt, 2 tsp of turmeric, 1 tsp of chilli powder and 1 tsp cumin – coriander powder. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Heat a pan with oil, add chopped onions and 4-5 cloves garlic with salt and sauté till they caramelize. Transfer the toasted pecans and the florets on to the pan with Caramelized onions and garlic.
For the sauce, chop a bunch of coriander leaves/ cilantro and put it in a blender with yogurt. Blend to a smooth consistency and add salt to taste. Now transfer the green sauce to pan with cauliflower, onions and pecans. Plate and Enjoy!!!!! Absolutely healthy yet delicioussssss:)

Recipe: My Absolutely healthy Cauliflower dish!

Recipe: My Absolutely healthy Cauliflower dish!

Ingredients

Extra virgin Olive Oil
1/2 head of Cauliflower
1 large Onion
3 cloves of garlic
5-6 Mint leaves
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Pinch of turmeric
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp lemon pepper powder
1/2 cup low fat or Greek yoghurt
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

For garnish

Mint leaves and dried red chilly

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the cauliflower to small florets.

Take a bowl and add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. To this add all spices, salt, cayenne and whisk well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now take a baking pan and transfer the almonds and cauliflower florets. Drizzle the oil mixed with spices onto the florets and toss well so they are evenly coated. Place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now take a bowl, add yoghurt, salt and whisk in the lemon juice and 1/2 tsp EVOO. Add some mint leaves and mix well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now chop the onion lengthwise and finely chop the garlic.
Heat a pan add some EVOO, add the chopped garlic and onions and sauté till onions caramelize a little.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now after 20 minutes, transfer the cauliflower and almonds from the baking pan to the pan on the gas which has the onions and garlic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer to a plate and spread the yoghurt over it. For garnish place a sprig of mint and a dried red chilly- enjoy this Currylicious healthy dish and let me know if you liked it:)

My Absolutely healthy Cauliflower dish!

My Absolutely healthy Cauliflower dish!

I opened my refrigerator to cook dinner for us and found just cauliflower and some yoghurt!

It was too late to go out and get something and then cook so figured will have to come up with a dish 🙂

I made this awesome healthy cauliflower dish with crunchy almonds, yoghurt, mint and ofcourse my spices!

My husband loved it and the best part is you can use any vegetable for this recipe and I promise it will turn out perfectly CURRYLICIOUS!!!!!!! Look for the recipe in my recipe section and would appreciate your feedback.