Mango Mania: Spicy Mango Salsa

As a kid growing up in Kuwait, I remember eating mangoes in abundance during the summer months. For the entire months of April-June, our king-sized fridge would have a whole shelf dedicated to this princely fruit. My Dad would buy them by the boxes at the beginning of each week, and we just could never get enough of them.

Pic for Spicy Mango Salsa taken from www.hookedonheat.com. Visit site for a detailed recipe.

Unlike kids in India, we only had access to the Alphonso mango, a variety considered to be one of the best in sweetness and taste. So it came as a big surprise to me when I was introduced to the many other varieties of mango in the couple of years we stayed in India during the 1st Gulf War. I had no idea that this delicious fruit came in many different sizes, shapes, colour and most importantly, flavour. Mangoes in India are a treasured fruit, and used extensively and creatively in both sweet and savoury ways. I have to admit that even after all these years, and after all the varieties I’ve tried and tasted, the Alphonso still happens to be my favourite.

I couldn’t help myself a few weeks ago when I spotted them on my weekly grocery trip. Although the season was just beginning and they almost cost me a small fortune, I knew I HAD to have them. I picked a dozen of the most sweet-smelling and juicy-feeling ones that I could find and rushed home, eager to chill them for a couple of hours. For those not in the know, a sweet luscious mango is best enjoyed cold. Once our lunch was done, I pulled out three from my fridge, peeled and chopped them into slices and placed the platter in front of Hubby and Baby Dear. The plate was cleared in seconds! It was our way of realizing that summer was almost here.

A few days ago, I received an email from Naina, a long-time reader asking me for a recipe using mangoes. I knew instantly that this Mango Salsa was what I needed to share. It’s been our staple snack almost every evening since the last few days. I first made it on a whim last summer when we had friends coming over for a playdate and dinner. I had asked Hubby Dear to have a taste of it, as is noted in his job description of in-house taste-tester, and he loved it. So much so, that we ended up eating the whole bowl and I had to put up salsa instead with the chips when our friends arrived. Since then, this recipe is a sure shot every time I have mangoes in the fridge. We like it spicy, but if you don’t then simply leave out the jalapenos. It’s lip-smacking good either way!

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Recipe Video: Jeera Alu

Hi guys! Here is a recipe video for Jeera Alu. It’s really quick and simple to make and is absolutely delicious with some plain Dal and rotis on the side.

I first blogged about this recipe a long time ago in one of my Indian Cooking 101 posts, introducing you all to various spices used in Indian food. Since then, it’s been one of my most popular and not to mention, quickest and easiest recipe to date. The detailed recipe can be found here.

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In Spite of Spice: Egg Biryani

I always get asked by other moms how and when I introduced Baby Dear to spicy food. The truth is, I never did. It is widely known in our family and friends circle that Baby Dear shies away from spicy food. It is also understood, however, that the kid will eat anything that’s tasty. Anything. Even if does happen to fall on the hotter side.

Pic for Egg Biryani taken from www.hookedonheat.com. Visit site for a detailed recipe.

This kind of erratic behavior of his reminds me of this one particular incident back when I was in college. It was the peak of summer, and although our classes were out, some of us still went in to work on the various projects we had to complete before the school year ended. I, of course, was one of them. On this particular day, I had planned to spend the entire day at the lab and told my mom that I wouldn’t be coming home for lunch. But one thing led to another, and I surprised her at the door with my sweaty, irritated-with-the-sweltering-heat, and absolutely-famished-dying-of-hunger self.

Since Mom wasn’t expecting me to share the meal, she had made it extra spicy – being the chilli fanatic that most true bred Malays are known to be! Needless to say, lunch for me was unbearable. My mouth felt like it was in flames and I filled myself with jugs of water. Even more irritated, and being the spoilt brat that I was, I stomped off into my room and went to nap. My Mom felt so bad, that she woke me up a while later, and handing me some money, asked me to go out and get myself a boat load of chaat from down the street. Now for those that know me personally, can vouch for the fact that I can eat chaat anytime, anywhere, no matter how spicy! And spicy I did eat. One sniff of my plate had my mom reeling in anger. Of course, the chaat was way spicier than the lunch she had cooked. I’m still reminded of this incident every time I question her on how many chillies she’s added to her curry.

Like they often say, the apple doesn’t fall too far away from the tree. It’s the same with Baby Dear and his Biryani. A platter of the spiciest Biryani from the nearby Pakistani joint gets devoured with glasses of water. But heaven forbid he sees a couple of deseeded pieces of chilli floating in my Dal, he runs miles away, never to even attempt to eat it again!

This Biryani recipe is something that Mom and I created together when she was visiting. My Mom makes one of the best Biryanis I’ve ever had, but her method is a tedious and long one. We wanted to come up with something quick and simple that would make it easy to give into Baby Dear’s frequent craving.

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A Kickin’ Affair: Chicken Kebabs

Hubby Dear and me are huge fans of kebabs, the chicken kebab being our favourite. These bite-sized succulent chunks of meat, delicately spiced and dunked into some chutney or even simply ketchup, can make us swoon and forgo a 6-course meal altogether. Hence, it comes as no surprise that while I was pregnant with Baby Dear we ate kebabs quite often. There was a running joke that whenever either one of us would say the word kebab, Baby Dear would do a somersault. Which we kinda believed to be true since the mere mention of the word would invite some movement from the wee one nestled inside me!

Pic for Chicken Kebabs taken from www.hookedonheat.com. Visit site for a detailed recipe.

Because it was the peak of summer, we relied out our BBQ grill a lot. Almost every weekend, we’d have friends over. They’d bring the sides, and we’d serve up a generous platter of kebabs. It was never too much trouble really; I would marinate the meat in a blend of yogurt and a mix of spices in the morning, set it to cool and soak in the flavours in the fridge throughout the day, and slap them on the grill come party time. Our guests were happy, and I hardly spent more than mere minutes prepping the meal. Win-Win for all.

Although this worked out extremely well and produced the most tender, succulent and juicy kebabs I’ve made, I would secretly wish that I’d made a platter of keema kebabs as well, to munch on. Keema kebabs are the bite-sized patties made mainly with ground meat. They really are not that hard to prep for a party, and I do it quite often now. But for a heavily pregnant me, who hated to be on her feet for too long, frying these babies up for a large hungry group seemed like such a daunting task. But not anymore! I tend to buy my meats in bulk for a few weeks at a time, and I always reserve a portion of ground chicken for us to indulge in these.

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Recipe Video: Andhra Chicken Curry

Hi guys! Here is a recipe video for my very own Andhra Chicken Curry. It’s a fairly quick and simple curry to make and is absolutely delicious with some plain rice or rotis on the side.

Please subscribe to my YouTube cooking channel to get new recipe videos every week. Also, don’t forget to like and share my videos, and join me on my Facebook page for many more recipes, tips and generally keeping in touch.

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Dinner Diary: Poha

Dinner Diary is a series of posts I write that include quick, simple, everyday recipes that I whip up on most days for my family. In most cases, they can hardly be called recipes since I just go with the flow and dump things into a hot pan. Through this series I’ve tried to show you that no matter what your level of expertise is in the kitchen, making a good healthy meal for yourself and your family is actually quite simple. All it takes, is a whole lot of love and a bit of practice.

Dear Dinner Diary,

Today began like every other Sunday. I got out of bed to find the boys snuggled on the couch watching Tom & Jerry cartoons. Did I ever tell you how much I despise that show? Poor Tom… that sneaky mouse is always the one to disturb his peace. Then the chase starts and somehow or the other, Tom gets in trouble while Jerry is seen grinning! So. Not. Fair.

Anyways, after going back and forth on our discussion on what we’d like to have for breakfast, we decided that everyone was going to have what they felt like since we could agree on a single dish. Baby Dear ran to the pantry and grabbed the giant jar of Nutella, begging me to slather a lot of it on toast for him. I set up the coffee and decided to begin with a banana. Hubby Dear, on the other hand, pulled out the frying pan, and began chopping onions for his classic poha.

Although I’m not a big fan of Poha, I do enjoy a small portion when Hubby Dear makes it. He’s not one to take charge in the kitchen – that man, but on the rare occasion when he does roll up his sleeves, his Poha, Nachos and Sabudana Khichdi are absolutely to-die-for! I should remember to nudge him to make me some Sabudana Khichdi this weekend, it’s been ages since he did. Then I can blog about it!

Now I do realize that this is a breakfast post instead of dinner, but I digress. Breakfast for dinner anyone?

Pic for Poha taken from www.hookedonheat.com. Visit site for a detailed recipe.

Poha:

Soak 1 cup of poha (flattened/beaten rice) in enough water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside when you’re ready to start cooking. Heat oil in a pan and sauté 1 tsp mustard seeds. Once they start to pop, add in 1 small onion, finely chopped, along with a handful to raw peanuts, and slightly fry till they start to lightly brown. Mix in 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder and salt to taste. Quickly add in the drained poha and give it a good toss around the pan to mix everything well. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro leaves and a generous squeeze of lemon.



Weekly Meal Plan: March 16th-22nd

Every Thursday night, after I’ve tucked Baby Dear into bed and cleared up the kitchen, I sit down at my desk and meal plan for the coming week. I try and come up with a dinner idea for each day of the week, allowing one day off for either take-out or a meal at a restaurant. Lunches are generally leftovers, and snacks are mainly fruits, cheese & crackers, veggies & dips or any baked goods and other treats we may have on hand for that given week.

WMP

Once I know what we’ll be eating during the week that’s to come, I then list out a detailed grocery list. Friday mornings are usually when I make the time to grocery shop, so it helps to have all my planning and list making done ahead of time. Here’s what I’ve put together this week for our meals. I’d love to hear about how you plan your meals and what you’ll be having, so please do share in the comments below!

Monday:
Curry Noodle Bowl
Curry Noodle Bowl

Tuesday:
Paneer Methi Matar   Bharwaan Bhindi
Paneer Methi Matar, Chatpati Bhindi and Rotis

Wednesday:
Mixed Bean Soup
Mixed Bean Soup and Garlic Bread with a side Salad

Thursday:
Chana Dal Masala   Cumin Pulao
Chana Dal Masala and Jeera Pulao

Friday:
Basil Chicken
Thai Basil Chicken, Lemongrass Rice and Papaya Salad

Saturday: OFF DAY!

Sunday:
Keema Spaghetti
Indian-style Spaghetti and Salad



Recipe Video: Boiled Egg Sambal

Hi guys! Here is my very first cooking video on my YouTube channel. It’s a recipe for Egg Sambal, which is one of Baby Dear’s favourite dishes. He absolutely loves it and begs me to make it at least once a week. It’s a very simple and quick recipe and works perfectly as a weeknight dinner. Although I’ve used boiled eggs here, I often make many variations of this recipe, like with Fried Eggs or even Shrimp.

Please subscribe to my YouTube cooking channel to get new recipe videos every week. Also, don’t forget to like and share my videos, and join me on my Facebook page for many more recipes, tips and generally keeping in touch.

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Ask Meena: Alu Beans

Here is a recent email I received from a reader:

Hi Meena,

I’m a vegan and have recently started trying my hand at cooking Indian food at home. I love the aromas and flavours that Indian cooking offers and it’s also one of the best cuisines I’ve enjoyed since becoming a vegan 3 years ago. I enjoy eating most vegetables, but potatoes just happen to be my absolute favourite. I will anything if there is even a slight trace of potato in it. I was wondering if you could share a few vegetable recipes that also include potatoes in them. Thanks in advance and keep those delicious recipes coming!

– Donna

Pic for Alu Beans taken from www.hookedonheat.com. Visit site for a detailed recipe.

Hey Donna! I completely agree with you that Indian food is definitely one of the best cuisines for a vegan/vegetarian to enjoy. The flavours are robust, varied and you have a million options to choose from! To be honest, I generally feel that potatoes often take the cake in Indian vegetarian cooking. It’s one of the cheapest vegetables found in India, and is a sure staple in many homes. It’s usually hard to find an Indian who does not enjoy the spud in some form or the other. So aren’t you in luck!

Since potatoes are great in taking on any flavorings added to them, you can easily get away with throwing in a few pieces to almost any dish that you cook. They work great when cooked with peas, carrots, cauliflower or any kind of greens that you fancy. This Alu Palak recipe is one such example. Below, is another quick recipe that works great as a side to some Dal and Rotis/Rice.

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Dinner Diary: Paneer Green Curry

Dinner Diary is a series of posts I write that include quick, simple, everyday recipes that I whip up on most days for my family. In most cases, they can hardly be called recipes since I just go with the flow and dump things into a hot pan. Through this series I’ve tried to show you that no matter what your level of expertise is in the kitchen, making a good healthy meal for yourself and your family is actually quite simple. All it takes, is a whole lot of love and a bit of practice.

Dear Dinner Diary,

Boy has it been cold lately! All I find myself doing mostly these day is snuggling into the corner of the couch wrapped up in my fuzzy blanket, drinking copious amounts of coffee to keep my insides warm. The fireplace is working overtime and all I seem to want to cook is soup. We’ve drowned in a variety of soups these past few days: Tomato-Basil, Corn Chowder, Chicken Noodle. You name it, and I’ve probably cooked and fed it to the boys!

But not today. Today, I needed something more. Yes, our bodies still needed the warmth, but out taste buds demanded more creativity. And I do admit, making soup is quite boring to me. I’m craving the excitement that comes with sautéing fresh ingredients in an array or spices and the wafting aromas that come with it. A quick peek into my pantry convinced me that a lip-smacking dinner was not too far away.

I had the veggies and herbs I needed, the curry paste was waiting as well. And instead of our usual choice of chicken or tofu, I decided to pick paneer as our protein for the day. I set a pot of rice to cook on the side and got started with the curry. And before I knew it, the three of us were seated at the table relishing every spoonful of our curry drowned rice. It was exactly what we needed!

Recipe for Paneer Green Curry taken from www.hookedonheat.com

Paneer Green Curry:

Sauté cubes of paneer in a bit of light cooking oil to lightly brown the edges. In a deep pan, heat some oil and add in sliced onions, red peppers and green beans. Once the veggies start to soften a bit, add in a heaped tablespoon of some Thai green curry paste. Fry for a few seconds before adding in a can of coconut milk. Let it slowly come to a boil. Now season with salt, and add in the paneer pieces and some Thai basil and let it simmer for a minute or two. Serve over warm rice and enjoy!