Thursday, June 13, 2013

Herbed Wild Rice with Goan Paneer Xacuti Curry

We recently visited Goa with some of our very close friends. The balmy beaches, the soft sand, the tall coconut trees and the twinkly night skies made the trip relaxing. We didn't get to explore much of Goan cuisine during our stay but we found enough time to browse through spices at a local market. One such spice mix that caught my eye was "Xacuti masala".

Ever since we got back, I have been wanting to make a curry with the Xacuti masala mix that we brought back with us. It all came along beautifully in this paneer curry with coconut milk as its base!! We found the flavors subtle and the spice mix does not overpower any other ingredients in the recipe.  If you want to make your own "Xacuti masala", there are plenty of recipes on the web or just ask a Goan!! I found that the nuttiness of the wild rice compliments the creamy texture of the curry, but plain rice will go along well too!


For the Herbed Wild Rice-

1 cup uncooked wild rice (You can use basmati rice)
1/4 cup finely chopped raw mango
4 cloves of peeled garlic, chopped finely
Handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
Handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
Sliced lemon
1 TBS butter
Salt to taste

For the Goan Paneer Curry-

1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS xacuti masala
1 bay leaf
1 cup coconut milk
1 pod green cardamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup paneer, cubed (You can use tofu)
Salt to taste


Herbed Wild Rice-
Cook wild rice as per the instructions on the box. (I combined 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, 1 TBS butter, salt as per taste and bring it to a rolling boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes)

Mix raw mango, garlic, mint, cilantro and lemon with the cooked rice just before serving.

Goan Paneer Curry-
Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Add xacuti masala and bay leaf.

Then add the coconut milk and mix well. Add cardamon, turmeric, chill powder, sugar and water. Bring it to a slow simmer. Add salt as per taste.

Now add the cubed paneer and mix well. Simmer to about 5 minutes. Add more salt if needed.


Serve the wild rice and curry, piping hot! You could also serve the curry with any bread/roti of your choice.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Asian Salad with Crispy Tofu

Asian salad with crispy tofu

We enjoyed this refreshing salad for a quick dinner last week. What I particularly enjoyed about this salad, was that everything can be prepared in advance and just tossed together before serving. The quantity below is just a rough guide, use your common sense, gut feeling and adjust for your taste.

Adapted from
Romaine Lettuce
Half a red pepper, sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
Handful of sugar snap peas
1 cup broccoli florets, blanched in boiling water for about 2-3 min until just tender
1 TBS sesame seeds, toasted for topping

Toss everything except the sesame seeds and keep aside

For the crispy tofu
Extra firm tofu, quantity as needed, cut in triangles
1 cup water
1 TBS soy sauce
1 bay leaf
Whole wheat flour
Corn meal
Olive oil
Sesame oil

Bring the water, soy sauce and bay leaf to a boil, add the cut tofu and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the tofu and let cool. Dredge the tofu in a mixture of wheat flour and corn meal. Heat some olive oil and sear the tofu until brown/caramelized on both sides. Toss some sesame oil on top.

NOTE: Tofu can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance. Warm the tofu again on a pan before serving if prepared in advance.

~2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 TBS soy sauce
Dash of sriracha sauce
1 clove of garlic, grated or minced
1 tsp grated ginger

Whisk everything together and toss with the salad just before serving


Toss the dressing with the salad just before serving. Arrange the warm tofu on top. Drizzle some toasted sesame seeds on top for a great garnish.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Healthy Rustic Potpie

Not enough time to write a post today, but here is the recipe for the potpie made for dinner today! It was a great success and both my adult kid and two year old kid loved it...

Rustic potpie

Rustic Potpie
Serves 3-4 with a side salad


2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 sausage or veggie sausage patties
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 TBS chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil
1 medium sized sweet onion, chopped
4 spring onion, chopped, white and green
2 medium sized carrots, cubed
2 medium sized potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 bunch kale, washed and finely chopped
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1-2 TBS cumin coriander powder
1 cup black eyed peas cooked OR 1 can black eyed peas, drained
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
Salt as per taste
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, mixed with 1 TBS water, to use as an egg wash


In a large sauté pan, cook the patties on both sides until brown. Remove the patties and let them rest.

Then saute the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, sweet onions and spring onions over medium heat until the sweet onions are translucent.

Add carrots, potatoes, peas and corn, stir and cover. Continue stirring occasionally until cooked.

Add kale, stir and cook without covering for about 5-7 minutes. Add the nutmeg, cumin coriander powder and stir well.

Now add the black eyed peas, rice and sausage patties (cubed) and salt. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, adding about 1/4 cup water if too dry.

Spread this mixture evenly in a 9X13 greased oven proof dish.

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and roll a sheet of puff pastry to fit the 9X13 dish. Cover the mixture with the sheet. Apply the egg wash with a pastry brush on to the pastry sheet. Sprinkle some salt on top if desired.

Bake in a 325 deg oven for about 20-25 min OR until the puff pastry is golden brown.


Serve hot out of the oven.

Can me made in to 4 individual portions.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Okonomiyaki - Japanese Savory Pancakes

Okonomiyaki- Japanese Savory Pancakes

I was browsing for some recipes on the internet when I came across this word "Okonomiyaki" accidentally. I had never heard of Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake. It has several ingredients in it. The recipes that I stumbled upon looked easy and healthy. The word okonomi means "what you want" or "what you like". It happens to be a dish which is prepared right in front of you using your choice of ingredients(meat, vegetables etc.) It seemed like this one was going to give me plenty of opportunities to experiment with my ideas and play with a lot of ingredients!

The recipe that follows is an outcome of those ideas. As always, I have made quite a few modifications to the classic recipe. The batter is made of whole wheat flour with ground cumin, cloves and black peppers, making it more nutritious. Instead of serving it whole as any usual pancake, I cut it in quarters and stacked them up with a dab of soy sauce on each quarter. The panko gives the pancake a great crunch while the soy sauce gives it the perfect salty bite. We ate these delicious pancakes with a side of citrus salad.

Okonomiyaki - Japanese Savory Pancakes
Serves 2 with a side salad or soup


1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
1/2 tsp cumin, 1 clove and 4 black peppers, finely ground
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 head of a cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 cup baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
4 TBS panko (Japanese bread crumbs, can substitute regular bread crumbs)
1-2 TBS soy sauce
2-3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
Salt as per taste


Mix the flour and spices and add water as required to make a pancake-like batter.

Add the egg, vegetables, salt and stir.

Heat a medium sized (about 8 inch) skillet. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Pour half the batter in the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle 2 TBS of panko on top. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes per side adding more oil if needed. NOTE: The panko topping is only on one side.

Use the same procedure for the remaining of the batter.


Cut each pancake in quarters and stack on top of each other (panko topped side on top) with a dab of soy sauce on each quarter. Enjoy with a soup or salad.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baked Mini Pita Chips with Roasted Red Pepper & Greek Olive Dip

Baked Mini Pita Chips_By Poonam Phatak

When it comes to nutritious snacking, I am in deep trouble every time. I mean there is always the fruit, nuts and homemade cracker and cheese option available. But what I am trying to say is that at a party or when hanging out with friends, snacking items such as chips, sauces and dips mostly come out of a store bought box. Now those who know me well, know that I have some serious friction with "packaged products" where the ingredients listed don't seem to have any relationship with the product itself. Read this to understand exactly what I mean.

Not that I don't eat such treats at all but I am forever trying to find some easy, low sodium and home made munching treats to cater my nutritious needs. These baked pita chips and dip provide a quick and stress free alternative to the typical off-the-rack nibbles. The dip is very versatile too. It can also be used as a salad dressing or as a sauce or spread.

This is also my entry to February's Monthly Mingle. Astrid of Paulchens FoodBlog is asking us to make Small Bites: Soul Food for Loved Ones. These small bites will look very elegant if served whole with a tiny dollop of the dip on top sprinkled with some finely chopped cilantro or parsley. Since, we ate them during the super bowl, they were served "sports style" as seen in the picture. But no matter how you serve them up, I will guarantee the taste! Thanks, Meeta for your wonderful event!

Roasted Red Pepper and Greek Olive Dip with Curry Powder_By Poonam Phatak

Baked Mini Pita Chips with Roasted Red Pepper & Greek Olive Dip
Serves 4

Baked Mini Pita Chips-

About 20-25 mini pita bread*, halved
2-3 TBS olive oil

Toss the halved pita bread liberally with the olive oil on a baking sheet. Bake in a 450 deg F oven for about 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately with the dip.

Roasted Red Pepper & Greek Olive Dip

1 small or half a medium red bell pepper
3-4 greek olives, chopped finely
1/4 to 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 cup of sour cream*

Roast the red pepper on a gas stove or outdoor grill until charred. Place in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 5-7 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and peel the charred skin of the pepper. Chop finely.

Mix the finely chopped pepper, olives, curry powder and salt as needed with the sour cream. OR coarsely puree the pepper, olives, curry powder and sour cream in a food processor. Serve with the warm pita chips.

*Substitute sour cream with thick greek yogurt and a squeeze of lemon for a lighter option.

Edamame and Mushroom Burgers with Ginger Lime Mayo

Edamame and Mushroom Burgers with Ginger Lime Mayo_By Poonam Phatak

The past weekend was special! I went with my girl friends for a ladies night out on Friday. After a longest time we were able to relax with a few cocktails, clear some brain space of inessential gossip and make room for more. We drank,
laughed hard and
clearly had too much much that the lady at the next table asked us if we were having a bachelorette party! Now that was quite a compliment because, except for one, all of us have kids ranging from a twenty month old to a ten year old. The evening ended on a high note with all of us making plans for yet another ladies (or should I say girls?) night out!

This much needed break from my recent mundane activities brought back so much energy in me that by Sunday afternoon I had actually been able to spend time with Myra and hubby before finishing my weekend chores to watch the super bowl. And oh, how can I forget Saturday? We (including my 20 month old) binged at a local Chinese buffet......certainly not typical for my family!!

We had a good time watching the super bowl with these edamame and mushroom patties which I
managed to prepare and freeze before the big kick off.
The soy sauce gave it a nice salty bite, while the ginger lime mayo gave it the right amount of tartness.

Edamame and Mushroom Burger Patty_By Poonam Phatak

Makes 4 patties

1 cup frozen edamame beans*
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped potato
1 cup baby bella mushrooms
2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha sauce or any hot sauce (add more if you like it extra hot)
1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats**
Salt to taste

For the Ginger-Lime Mayo
Mix 1/2 cup good quality mayo, 1 tsp freshly grated ginger, zest and juice of a lime in a bowl, add salt, mix and set aside


Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add salt, stir and add the edamame. Cook until al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain and coarsely chop the edamame on the cutting board with a knife or pulse in a food processor.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic, shallots, pepper, potato, mushrooms until the vegetables are almost cooked. Add the edamame, soy sauce, hot sauce and stir. Turn the heat off and add the oats. Taste the mixture and add salt only if needed.

Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Then form into 4 patties. Cover individually in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour or until ready to use.

In a saute pan, add some olive oil and cook the patties for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.


Enjoy the patty with some lettuce and mayo on a ciabatta roll or bun.

* You can substitute edamame for any beans of choice such as kidney beans, white beans or chick peas.
** Oats can be substituted with other binders such as corn, rice flour or bread crumbs. You can even add some cooked leftover rice.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why do I make my own granola?

Homemade Granola

Because.......if I were to box my homemade granola, the ingredient label would read: Organic old fashioned oats, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, brown sugar, honey, vanilla extract, canola oil, cranberries, dates, apricots.

Any similar factory produced granola would have the following ingredients: Oats, sugar, blueberries, almonds, xanthum gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, guar gum, dextrose, alpha tocopherol acetate, niacinamide, Vitamin A palmitate, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, BHT.


Crunchy Homemade Granola:
Makes about 6-7 cups

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups combined nuts and seeds of choice*
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1 TBS vanilla extract
1 cup mixed dried fruit**
Pinch of salt


Mix the oats, nuts, seeds, brown sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the oil, honey and vanilla extract in another bowl. Pour over the oat mixture and combine with dry hands to coat thoroughly.

Bake at 325 deg F for 30-40 minutes. Toss a couple of times during the baking process to ensure even browning.

Cool completely and then add the dried fruits. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 -2 months.


Serve about 1/2 cup of granola with milk or yogurt. Top with fruits and/or berries.

*I used a combination of 3/4 cup chopped almonds, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup chopped pistachios, 3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds.
**I used 1/2 cup sweetened cranberries, 1/4 cup chopped apricots, 1/4 cup chopped pitted dates.