Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quick Note...sorry for being away so long

Hello All, sorry for not posting anything the past couple weeks. Few things have been in play so I thank you for your patience. First, I was out of town and busy planning/hosting a baby shower for my sister. Once I returned, I've been working to re-vamp this blog site. You'll notice a few changes and there are some more to come.

I'd love your feedback/input on the changes. If you have any requests/suggestions, I'm open to that as well. So please be patient as I transition and re-vamp the site. Meanwhile I hope you'll go back to some of the older recipes and give them a try, if you haven't already!

Happy cooking!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shepherds Pie- My Version

For those of you that live in/around the DC area know what the weather has been like the past few days. Given this cold/icy weather, I was craving some comfort food but my groceries were pretty limited. I didn't feel like driving out so decided to get creative.

Shepherds Pie is something pretty comforting in the winter because it is filling, full flavored and appealing because of the mashed potatoes on top. Traditionally, it is made with ground beef but I only had beef stew meat in the freezer. I decided to use that and process later to break down before baking the dish. I don't usually measure ingredients, I tend to eyeball them which is why I'm going to list out "about" (~) how much of each ingredient I used. You may need to adjust this to your personal taste...

~1-2 tbsp oil
~1lb beef stew chunks
1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
1-2 bay-leaves
1 tbsp chopped garlic
few whole black peppercorns
~1 cup chicken stock (or beef stock)
3-4 medium sized potatoes
salt to taste
~3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1tsp Soy Sauce (optional)
~1.5 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, etc)
~3/4 cup chopped mushrooms

Peel and dice the potatoes, place in a medium pan with water and a dash of salt, boil until tender. Drain and keep to the side. While the potatoes are boiling, in another medium pot add some oil and heat over medium. When the oil is warm, add the onions and saute until they start to turn light brown. Add the garlic, pepper and bay leaf and mix. After 20 sec or so add the meat, chicken stock and Worcestershire Sauce. Cook until the beef is tender and the liquid reduces by 1/2... about 25 to 30min. Remove from heat, place the beef (removing the peppercorns and bay leaf) in a food processor. Reserve the liquid and use the same pot (adding a dash of oil) to saute the vegetables with soy sauce (if you want). Pulse the beef on your processors chop setting to shred the meat, do not over process. Add the beef and reserved liquid to the vegetables when they are cooked. Add the mushrooms and simmer the mix until liquid is almost dry. There should be about 1.5 to 2tbsp liquid remaining. You want to keep some liquid so that the beef doesn't get too dry when baking.

Mash the potatoes with some butter and milk (just like mashed potatoes). Season with some salt and chicken stock (if you want). In a small casserole dish layer the beef mix and then top with the mashed potatoes. Bake for 25min on 350 degrees. Make sure the mashed potatoes have enough liquid that they don't get too dry during baking. Let sit for 5min before serving.

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture until we had finished dinner and there was hardly a spoonful left. Will try to remember next time! As always, I leave you with wishes for happy cooking and good eats :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Masoor ki Daal (lentil)

One classic meal in Desi cooking is Daal Chawwal (lentils and rice). Basmati rice(or other long grain rice) and lentils are a staple for almost every meal, everything else is a plus. Usually for dinner in a desi household there will be chawwal, daal, subzi (vegetable) and salaan (meat dish). Growing up, I remember my parents always saying that anytime there wasn't daal chawwal for dinner, they didn't feel they had a complete meal.

My favorite daal among the many available is Masoor ki daal. Now there are two kinds of Masoor available, red and black or green. The more common one is laal (red) daal and one of the easiest to make. People from different parts of Pakistan and India make daal in a number of different ways. The method I will share here is the traditional Dehli/UP (Utthar Pradesh) way of making lentils, by boiling it with some simple masaala's and then adding bhagaar at the end.

1 cup laal daal, picked over and rinsed
~2 cups water
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp laal mirch (red chili powder) or to taste
1/3 tsp haaldi (powder)
1/2 tsp garlic paste

In a medium heavy bottom sauce pan, add your rinsed lentils, water and all of the other ingredients. Bring to a boil and then lower stove to medium/low to low. Simmer the lentils until all the water is dry. The lentils should be soft and a pale yellow color (no whitish middles, that means they're still undercooked and will not mash. If this happens, add a little water and simmer again until there is no whitish middle). Take a large spoon and mash the lentils until they become like a thick paste...kind of like watery mashed potatoes. Then turn the stove back on to low and add water while stirring until it reaches a thick soupy consistency.

Simmer the daal until it is near boiling. DO NOT LET IT BOIL. You want to heat it to mix in the water well but do not boil, just simmer. On the side prepare a bhagaar of onions and zeera (cumin seeds). Add the bhagaar to your daal just before turning off the stove. Serve with white rice.