I have always wondered about my husband’s curious love for cutlets. These are small patties that are made from mashed vegetables or meat and bound together with mashed potatoes into a small patty shape then breaded and pan fried. The most popular cutlets are vegetable (made with carrots, onion and beans), beet and potato, and chicken. In 2010 and 2015, I published tasty recipes for Salmon Cutlets and Purple Yam Cutlets.

Quinoa Cutlets

Quinoa Cutlets with Lemon Aioli

When making my Quinoa Cutlets, my first objective was to make them healthier. I cut the amount of starchy potatoes and increased rich nutrients and fiber by adding white quinoa which I cooked at the same time I boiled the remaining potato. The flavor is delicious! My husband loved them so they must be good. The quinoa makes them lighter and less filling.

The second objective was to make the cooking process easier by letting the food processor do my chopping work for me. While the potato and quinoa were cooking, I prepared the vegetables. Instead of chopping them finely, I just give them a rough chop, dumped them in the machine and gave the vegetables a few pulses until they were cut into small bits. I transferred them to a skillet and gave them a quick fry until they were tender.

Once all of the ingredients were ready, I combined them in a large bowl by hand before shaping them into patties. Before pan frying them in oil, I dipped them into a paste made with corn meal and then into bread crumbs so the outsides would be crispy.

I serve the Quinoa Cutlets with a zesty Lemon Aioli. Just drizzle a spoonful on each cutlet before eating it.

The cutlets are served on a bed of Sautéed Spiced Spinach for the dark green and texture contrast.

Try these cutlets today; they are delicious!

From the time that my children were young I would collect the seeds from their pumpkins and roast them in the oven for a tasty snack. A few years ago, after I started this blog, I modified my recipe to include some Indian spices to add more flavor. This is one of the easiest recipes to make. When they were younger, my kids loved to measure out the spices and mix them together.

After cleaning the pumpkin fibers off of the seeds, I let them dry out overnight.  The next day, I make a simple mixture of garlic powder, paprika, red chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the seeds then toss them with the spices. They roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are toasty.

My kids love Masala Pumpkin Seeds as a snack. They also make a great accompaniment for your favorite evening beverage!

My family loves hummus and I serve it often since it is healthy and easy to make. Once in a while I need to change up the recipe so we can enjoy different flavors and not get stuck in a rut.

This recipe for White Bean Hummus uses a can of well rinsed great northern beans to save prep time. It is seasoned with selected Indian spices for flavor and then blended to a creamy consistency in a food processor.

Northern Bean Hummus

White Bean Hummus

I serve my White Bean Hummus with my favorite vegetables, including carrots, celery, zucchini and cucumber for a healthy snack. My hungry kids love it when they arrive home after school or work. Of course, it can also be served with pita slices or chips.

Try this recipe on a sandwich instead of mayonnaise or dressing. It is delicious with a vegetable sandwich, a turkey sandwich or even a burger!

Have you ever been in the situation where you needed to have a snack prepared for guests who let you know they are on their way over to your house or just happened to arrive unannounced? Of course, they expect something to eat along with their beverage of choice. With a few easy ingredients that I always have on hand the problem is solved in a snap. My recipe for Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip will solve your problem, or at least, one of them.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

For a delicious yet quick, try this tasty recipe for Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip. To make it as easy as possible, I use a jar of roasted peppers rather than roasting them myself in the oven. All I do is add the ingredients into a food processor or blender then purée everything together until it is thick and creamy. Place it in the refrigerator for a while so the flavors can blend then serve it with pita chips or tortilla chips. This Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip will be a hit with no effort at all.

This time it was another ugly present, ratalu or purple yam. It is about as ugly as the chena. It also has a dark brown skin, similar to a potato but darker and about two times the size. My gift weighed 12 ounces.

ratalu, a purple yam, is high in nutritional value and tastes great in cutlets.

When I cut into this thing, I was awed at the beautiful purple color inside. As I cut it, a bit of sticky, white juice came out of it. The cubes were vibrant purple! The flavor was slightly sweet with the firm, starchy texture of most yams.

ratalu cubes

Since I wasn’t sure what to make with this yam, I decided that a cutlet would be the easiest thing to make. I simply boiled the yam pieces, mashed them and combined them with cooked onion and spices to make Ratalu Purple Yam Cutlets. Before I pan-fried them, I dipped them in an egg white bath and rice flour to give them a delicate crunch on the outside.

Ratalu Cutlets

These yam cutlets disappeared right away. They are so easy to make. Serve with mint or cilantro chutney for a tasty snack!

 

When cooking chickpeas I always use dried rather than the ones in cans because I think the canning process alters the flavor. Since soaking and boiling are so easy and can be done at the same time as many other tasks around the house I don’t mind the few extra hours that it takes to get them ready for use. However, there is a way to get even more flavor from chickpeas when buying fresh ones.

Last week I found a huge box of fresh chickpeas at my local Indian grocery store that I couldn’t resist so I bought a huge bag of them to bring home. There are so many uses for them that I knew they wouldn’t go to waste. Fresh ones are popular in north India as a snack when they are in season.

Green Chickpeas

Fresh green chickpeas that have been shelled and are ready to roast.

Green chickpeas are the same thing as the dried, brown ones but have been harvested while the pea and the pod are green, before they have matured on the vine and turned brown. They are more delicate in texture and sweeter than their dried counterparts. To use them, I simply pop the pods, yes they do make a popping sound, and remove the peas. Most of the peas are healthy and fully formed but a few are withered; those I discard. Shelling these chickpeas is best done with other people as it takes a while to work through an entire bag of chickpeas with one, and occasionally two, peas in each pod. At the end of the shelling process my fingers had turned black from the sap that stuck to me while crushing the pods. Don’t worry, it washes off very easily.

They are usually blanched in boiling water for about 3 or 4 minutes, dunked in ice water to stop the cooking process and are then ready to eat either by themselves or popping them into soups or salads. They can be used as substitutes for edamame. Add them to any rice recipe like Vegetable Pulau or any other vegetable dish.

Here is my recipe for a healthy snack of roasted chickpeas:

 

Simple Roasted Chickpea Recipe

Roasted Green Chickpeas

Hot roasted green chickpeas ready for tasting.

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp oil

1/8 tsp garam masala

1/8 tsp red chile powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup fresh green chickpeas

Steps:

  1. Mix the garam masala, cumin and salt together in a small bowl.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat then add the oil to the pan.
  3. Add the chickpeas to the skillet and dry roast them until they turn brown in spots. Take care to shake the skillet often so the chickpeas roast evenly and don’t burn.

    Roasted Green Chickpeas

    Fresh green chickpeas roasting in a pan.

  4. As soon as the chickpeas are done, remove from the skillet and toss in the spice mix to coat. Add more salt if needed. Serve while hot.

Tips:

– Shelling your chickpeas in advance is optional and based on your preferences.

– These Roasted Chickpeas are a perfect accompaniment to beer.

 

Chaat masala is a spice mixture that is popular in North India. I used it years ago before I met my wonderful South Indian husband who had minimal exposure to it. My North Indian friends used it often to flavor simple garnishes and enhance a meal. The other day I though it would be a good idea to try something new and expand my spice blend repertoire.

 

The term “chaat masala” translates from Hindi to English as “licking spice.” It is most often used to energize the flavor of chaat, a popular dish made with chickpeas, yogurt, potatoes and tomatoes, sold by vendors on the streets of North India, hence its name. The key ingredients are amchoor powder (from dried green mangoes), Indian black salt (with its pungent flavor), red chile powder and cumin that, when ground together, create a salty and sour taste. Various spice combinations are added to each recipe for chaat masala to give it the signature flavor of the chef. Chaat masala is usually added to a dish just before it is served.


How do you make chaat masala?

Making chaat masala at home is one of the easiest things to do. Simply dry roast the spices, then grind everything together. My recipe for chaat masala has a few more ingredients but I think you will find it lives up to the name “licking spice.”

 

Ann’s Chaat Masala Recipe

 

1/4 cup coriander seeds

Chaat Masala is used in a variety of dishes for its tasty tang.

Chaat Masala is used in a variety of dishes for its tasty tang.

3 Tbs cumin seeds

1 Tbs ajwain seeds

1 tsp black peppercorns

6-7 dried red chiles

1 1/2 Tbs dried mango powder

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp asafetida

1 1/2 Tbs black salt

1 tsp salt

 

1. One at a time, dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ajwain seeds and peppercorns in a skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, just until the aroma rises and they begin to brown. Let them cool.

 

2. Remove the stems from the dried red chiles and break them into pieces. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together. Grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder.
 

Tips: 

– Store in an airtight container.

– Indian black salt must be used to get the correct flavor.

 

How can I use chaat masala?

I like to sprinkle a bit of chaat masala on salads, marinated onions, raita, roasted meats and Tikka Chicken. With a bit of lime, it is a tasty accompaniment to fresh fruit. Also, it is heavenly on roasted peanuts and cashews. Believe it or not, I like it sprinkled on crackers and potato chips. People even add a pinch to buttermilk or sprinkle it on dosas, omelets and fried snacks. Since it is a simple spice mix to use, the uses are unlimited. Once you taste it you will find your own uses for it.
 

Where can I buy chaat masala?

You can buy chaat masala at any Indian grocery store. Making it at home yields a fresher spice mix. Using my recipe has a livelier and zippier taste with a more dynamic taste dimension. I prefer to make my own because I like to experiment with different spice combinations and it is an extremely easy mix to make. 

 

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No, I didn’t misspell “chat”. Yes, Indians, like everyone, to love to chat but I mean “chaat”. Once you try it, you will be addicted too.

Chaat is North India’s version of fast food. It is available from street vendors’ carts, who may specialize in one variety of chaat, as well as from fast food restaurants which may offer a wide menu of options. When I was in Mumbai last summer, street vendors attracted huge crowds who wanted an inexpensive and tasty snack. One of my favorite Indian restaurants, Bombay Bistro, in Austin, TX includes them on the buffet during their Sunday brunch. Yum! Since there is a large concentration of Indians and Indian stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I am fortunate to have access to many chaat restaurants. Chaat is North India’s answer to vegetarian fast food.

Chaat is North India's answer to vegetarian fast food.

Chaat is North India’s answer to vegetarian fast food.

 

What is chaat? Let me explain by letting you know that it is the original tapas since the word means taste in Hindi. It is a grouping of light snacks that are made in several different shapes and deep-fried, like chips or crisps. Most of these snacks, whether sweet or savory, are made with yogurt, potatoes, onions, chickpeas, chutney and spices but some can include meat. Like most fast food restaurants, they are served on paper plates or a paper wrap and eaten with your fingers. Here is a list of my favorite of chaats:

 

Bhel Poori – puffed rice, small crispy noodles (sev), papri chips, onion, potato, spices and chutneys

 

Pani Poori – small crispy balls filled with potato, chickpeas and cumin water

 

Papri Chaat – papri chips smothered with yogurt, onion, potato, spices and chutneys (see above photo)

 

You should try these out! While they are not the healthiest foods on the planet, they are just about the tastiest.

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One of the most unique food accompaniments from Kerala is the dried buttermilk chile. Why would anyone fry dried chiles? Wouldn’t they be killer hot? Let’s find out how they are made and how they taste…

 

Fresh long green chiles are soaked in buttermilk and dried repeatedly in the sun.  Since they take a long time to make, cooks in Kerala usually make a huge batch that can be cooked as needed. A pound of chiles should last several months. Also they are usually prepared in the summer when the sun is the hottest and the days are long. Since this is August, now is the time to make them. If you have children at home, this is a fun recipe for them. They can be stored for a long time until you are ready to pop them into hot oil and fry them. 

 

Buttermilk chiles are usually served with yogurt, plain rice or roti. When mixed in with the yogurt, this vegetarian recipe has a tangy and salty flavor that blends with the yogurt to give it a tasty flavor. As a snack, my husband likes to have a few of them occasionally in the evening with his scotch.

 

Here is my Indian recipe:

 

 

Buttermilk Chiles

 

Green chiles that have been soaked in buttermilk and dried.

Green chiles that have been soaked in buttermilk and dried.

1 lb green chiles
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbs salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 pinch asafetida

 

1. After washing and drying the chiles cut a slit down the length of one side of each chile. Do not cut them in half.

 

2. In a large bowl, mix the cumin, fenugreek, asafetida and salt with the buttermilk.

 

3. Immerse the chiles in this buttermilk and soak them overnight.

 

4. Remove the chilies from the buttermilk the next morning and lay them out on a clean kitchen towel to dry in the hot sun. Return the buttermilk mixture to the refrigerator.

 

5. The same evening, return the chiles to the buttermilk.

 

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for 4 more days or until all of the buttermilk has been absorbed into the chiles.

 

6. Finally, dry the chiles in the sun for 4 more days until they are completely dry.

 

7. Store in airtight container until ready to use.

 

8. To prepare, simply fry them in hot oil for a few minutes until they turn dark brown.

 

Tips:

– Dried chiles will keep in an airtight container for months. Once fried, they will keep for about a week.

 

– Take care in handling the raw chiles. You might want to wear disposable gloves to keep the capsaicin off of your hands and out of your eyes.

 

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Last year while wine tasting in Napa with my husband, I purchased a small packet of Indian Ajwain Cashews to eat with our picnic lunch. I purchased the packet, made by a company called Oren’s Kitchen, purely on impulse because they were marketed as “Indian” even though they were made in El Cerrito, CA, and I was unfamiliar to say these mildly spiced cashews were really tasty and complemented the wine perfectly!

 

Ajwain is a seed that looks like cumin but smaller. It has a wonderful aroma and tastes a bit like thyme. Usually used whole, not ground, they are often tempered in hot oil or hot water before adding to a savory dish during the last step to add an extra dimension of flavor before serving it. Because its flavor is pretty strong, less is used than one would use of cumin in recipes.

 

Since I haven’t been able to find Oren’s Indian Ajwain Cashews in Texas I thought I would create my own. 

 

My husband and I think my Indian recipe is better than Oren’s product because the flavors are subtle and, yet, distinctive in taste. It is the perfect complement to a Single Malt Scotch Whisky like a Glenmorangie Original (10 year), Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (12 year), or Balvenie Doublewood (12 year).

 

 

Ajwain Cashews go well with Scotch Whiskey

Ajwain Cashews go well with Scotch Whiskey

Ajwain Masala Cashews 

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon red chile powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 cups raw cashews

 

1. In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, roast the ajwain seeds. After they cool, grind them to a powder in a spice grinder.

2. Mix the dry spices together in a small bowl.

3. Over medium-low heat, cook the cashews in a large dry skillet, stirring and flipping them frequently until the nuts turn golden brown and are well toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cashews to the parchment paper.

4. Return the skillet to the stove. Heat the oil over medium-low heat. Mix in the spices and heat for about 1 minute so the flavors can mix. Return the cashews to the them for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until the cashews are golden brown. Take care to keep the oil and the cashews from burning.

5. Transfer the spiced cashews to the piece of parchment paper. Toss the nuts in the spices a few times while they cool to room temperature.

6. Optional: After the cashews have cooled, place them on a piece of paper towel without dislodging the spices to remove any excess oil.

 

Tips:

– For variety, substitute mixed nuts, such as walnuts, pecans or almonds for the cashews.

– Store in an airtight container.

– Since I cannot get my spice grinder to grind the small amount of ajwain seeds fine enough, I use 1 to 2 tablespoons of seeds and then use just the amount of the ground spice that is needed.

 

Let me know what you think!

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