Fridge Clean Out Pasta

A little bit of this, a little bit of that


Some days you can plan all you want but nothing goes to plan. Most days in the life of a stay at home mum are like this. Since baby number two has come along, all I seem to be doing is feeding him and trying to stop my toddler from poking his baby brothers eyes out. The struggle is real!

Amidst all this craziness I find taking out even 15 minutes to cook gives me composure and peace. After all when you do what you love you are one step closer to nirvana! Today I was all set on making my husband his favourite chicken schnitzel with mash potatoes and roast vegetables. Only problem was I had none of the ingredients in the fridge. Talk about things not going to plan!

While last minute food shopping was out of the question! Yes you do lose basic liberties like running out to the shops on a whim when you are a parent. My 15 minute window to put a meal on the table was rapidly closing too. After ransacking the fridge and pantry, I managed to pull together – a pack of spaghetti, a punnet of grape tomatoes, handful of kalamata olives,  capers, half a bunch of parsley and a bag of frozen peas. There was only one way this was going, we were heading to Italy (well metaphorically anyway) with a big bowl of pasta.

 

Ingredients: 12  Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of pasta (I used spaghettini)
  • One punnet of grape/cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 250 gms of peas
  • Handful of olives, cut into halves
  • Two tablespoons of capers 
  • Half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • One onion, finely sliced
  • Three to four garlic pods, finely chopped
  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt to season 
  • Cracked black pepper to garnish (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan to garnish (optional)

In a heavy bottom sauce pan bring water to a boil. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, in another saucepan heat three tablespoons of EVOO. Add garlic, once aromatic add onions and cook until onions are lightly caramelised. Then add half of the chopped parsley, along with the olives and capers. Mix well. Cook on a low flame for four to five minutes.


Now add peas and toss the mixture thoroughly. Once peas are slightly soft add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook on a high heat for two to three minutes. 

Finally add the pasta, followed by the rest of the parsley and EVOO. Toss through to make sure all the ingredients are evenly mixed. Your fridge clean out pasta is ready to serve. Garnish with cracked pepper and Parmesan. 

Aloo Mutter ki Tahiri (Potato and Pea spiced Rice)

A simple indulgence 

Somewhere over the last few months, I lost a little part of me. Priorities shifted from what I like to do vs. what I need to do. While I like blogging a lot, my growing toddler’s needs meant I had to put it on hold. Add to this being pregnant and bringing another little wonder into our lives. Busy has a whole new meaning in my world today. Also, truth be known, I got lazy! Free time meant catching up on sleep, watching a little TV, etc. 

So here I am, trying to rekindle my food blogging love affair. I assume you missed having your daily dose of LSD too? Today I bring to you a quick, simple yet hearty recipe of Tahiri. This dish has its roots in Lucknow, an eastern Indian city known for its artistic flair and as the seat of Nawabs ( Indian Royals). Interestingly, Tahiri is also enjoyed across Pakistan which makes me wonder if India and Pakistan could just make peace over a plate of Tahiri.

Ingredients: 16    Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

  • Two cups of basmati rice 
  • One medium size onion, finely chopped
  • One thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • Two to three green chillies
  • Two medium size tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Two medium size potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 250gms of green peas
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One large bayleaf
  • Four to five cloves
  • Two green cardamom pods
  • 1.5 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Two tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season

Heat ghee in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom pods. 

Once the cumin seeds splutter and are aromatic, add the onions. Followed by ginger and green chillies. Cook until onion is lightly caramelised.


Now add the tomatoes and remaining dry spices, except bayleaf. Mix well and cook until tomatoes are soft.

Then add the potatoes and peas. Followed by basmati rice, mix well. Add enough water to cover the rice. Add bayleaf, lemon juice and season with salt. Bring to a boil, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on a low heat, until rice is cooked.


Tahiri is now ready to be served. Serve alongside plain yogurt or with an Indian pickle or just by itself. I guarantee every mouth full is lip smackingly delicious.

Potato and Bean Tacos

It does not get simpler than this

When we get really hungry but are really tired to cook, I bring out my Mexican toolkit. Mexican food is so simple to put together. No hassles with serving or plating up, especially when serving tacos. This DIY meal makes it fun for the whole family to get involved. 

Recently I made some rather indulgent tacos with crispy smoked paprika potatoes and refried beans. Yes, we are a potato loving family that isn’t afraid to eat all the potatoes and look like potatoes.  Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to take step by step photos because we were really hungry and there was a war to get stuck into crispy potatoes.

Ingredients: 16  Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of soft tortillas 
  • Six to eight medium potatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes
  • 400 gms of refried beans 
  • Two medium tomatoes, chopped
  • One onion, chopped
  • 400 gms of corn, steamed
  • One bunch of coriander, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One packet of taco seasoning
  • Two teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoon of dried mint leaves
  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season 
  • Sour cream for topping 
  • 200 gms grated Parmesan 
  • Lemon wedges for garnish 

Heat three tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add dried mint and smoked paprika. Once aromatic add the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are soft and crispy. Garnish with fresh coriander and parmesan.

I used canned refried beans for this dish.  You can also used cooked kidney beans as an alternative, simply mash them. Empty the beans in a bowl, add a tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of taco seasoning. Microwave for three to four minutes. Keep aside.

Mix the chopped onion, tomato and coriander leaves. Add one teaspoon of taco seasoning. Two tablespoons of lemon juice. Your salsa is ready.

In another bowl mix corn, remaining coriander, lemon juice and taco seasoning. Your corn salsa is ready too.

Finally microwave your tacos to heat them through. To assemble the tacos, put a layer of beans, followed by potatoes. Add tomato and onion and corn salsa. A dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of lemon. A midweek meal does not get simpler than this.

 

Rajma (Red Kidney Bean Stew)

The Punjabi happy meal…

  

Growing up as a Punjabi kid life was very simple. There were three commandments to live by. First, beta nashta  kha lo ( eat your breakfast kiddo). Second, beta khaana kha lo (eat your lunch/dinner kiddo). Third, beta kuch aur kha lo ( eat something else kiddo). Life was all about breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything else sort of fit around it. 

Besides the three commandments one thing common in every Punjabi kids life is the Punjabi Happy Meal. No it’s not McDonalds because no self-respecting Punjabi mother would dare to feed their child that. It’s Rajma Chawal! A red kidney bean stew served on a bed of steamed basmati rice. Nothing says happy meal and happiness like this dish in a Punjabi household.

There is such depth and flavour in this curry.  It is like a mother has squeezed all the love out of her heart and put it straight into Rajma. 

  

Ingredients: 14 Cooking time: 90 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 400gms of Rajma (kidney beans)
  • One large onion, finely chopped
  • Four medium tomatoes, grated
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One large bayleaf
  • One teaspoon of cumin seeds 
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cumin powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of coriander powder
  • One teaspoon of chilli
  • Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Quarter teaspoon of asafoetida (hing)
  • Three tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season
  • Fresh coriander, chopped (for garnish)

Soak the kidney beans overnight or at least for five to six hours. This helps to break the protein, soften the beans and cook them quicker.

In a pressure cooker or a heavy bottom saucepan add the beans. Cover them with water, add cinnamon and bayleaf. Cook until the beans are soft and can be mashed between two fingers.

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For the tadka (tempering), heat ghee in a saucepan. Add asafoetida (hing), cumin seeds, once aromatic add onions and cook until onions are lightly browned.

Now add grated tomatoes, key for this stew is use the freshest tomatoes. Add all the dried spices. Cook on a medium heat for 10 to fifteen minutes.

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Add the beans and the broth. Season with salt. Cover the saucepan and let the stew cook on a low heat for about an hour.


Your lipsmackingly delicious kidney bean stew or Rajma are ready. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve over steamed basmati rice and enjoy this happy meal with your beautiful family.

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Hyderabadi Baigan 

When memories create meals, they are one of a kind…

  

Many things in life are easy to forget but one seldom forgets a delicious dish. One such dish I found myself recently reminiscing about and relentlessly craving was Hyberabadi Baigan, also known as Bhagare Baigan. An eggplant curry inspired by flavours from Hyderabad, a former princely state in the southern belt of India.

Hyderabadi cuisine has evolved over centuries through local and foreign influences. The key ingredients of Hyderabadi cuisine are coconut, tamarind, peanuts and sesame seeds. While the cuisine is more meat based, you can also find some real vegetarian gems in the mix.

Here’s my take on this Hyderabadi classic. To be enjoyed with parathas or rice,  every mouthful is lip smackingly delicious.

  

Ingredients: 15  Cooking time:  45 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 1.5 dozen of baby eggplants, quartered and soaking in water 
  • One medium-sized onion, sliced
  • Two medium tomatoes, quartered 
  • 200 gms of peanuts, roasted
  • 400 ml of coconut milk 
  • Six to eight curry leaves
  • One lemon sized tamarind ball or juice of one lemon
  • One bay large bay leaf
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Half teaspoon chilli powder 
  • One cinnamon stick
  • Three tablespoons of mustard oil
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying the eggplants.
  • Salt to season 
  • One teaspoon sugar

For tempering (optional)

  • One tablespoon of ghee
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Six to eight curry leaves

Begin by pan frying the quartered eggplants until they slightly change colour and are soft. Keep aside.

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To make the sauce, heat oil in a kadahi or a heavy based pot. If you can’t find mustard oil you can use vegetable oil, ghee or olive oil.

Once the oil is aromatic add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and curry leaves. When the spices splutter and are aromatic add sliced onions. Cook until onions are slightly caramelised.

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Now add roasted peanuts and mix well. Cook onion and peanuts for about five to seven minutes. Then add the tomatoes and dried spices. Mix well. 

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While the tomatoes soften, soak the tamarind ball in quarter cup hot water. Once soft squeeze the pulp and strain the juice. If you don’t have tamarind you can also use juice of one lemon. Add the tamarind  juice, one teaspoon of sugar and two cups of water to the tomato mix. 

Give the ingredients a good stir. Once it comes to a boil turn the gas off and let the gravy cool. Then blend until smooth. Finally add coconut milk to the gravy, season with salt and cover the pot and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes on a low heat.

  
Now the gravy is ready for the eggplants. Drop eggplants gently into the gravy. Let the gravy simmer again for 10 to 15 minutes so the eggplants soak in all the flavour.

 

Last step is to add the tadka or temper the gravy with aromatic flavours of mustard seeds and curry leaves. Heat ghee in a skillet. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once they splutter and are aromatic add to the curry and mix well to infuse the flavours.

Your lip smackingly delicious Hyderabadi Baigan are ready to be served.