Archives for posts with tag: cumin

Oh, how I miss Mexican flavors.  I envy people who have access to good authentic Mexican food.  Although, the dish I made here isn’t exactly Mexican, it does include Poblano peppers which do have some affinity with Mexican cuisine.  The day I saw these Poblanos at the farmer’s market, I literally screeched in excitement.  I was instantly reminded of my favorite dish, chilies rellenos.

In Rhode Island, where I grew up, is where I had first taste I had of authentic Mexican food, and no I’m not talking about Taco Bell or some Tex-Mex chain, I am talking about real authentic and fresh food.  The food where you taste the smokiness of fresh cumin, the tartness of lime, the creaminess of avocado, and the smoothness of crema.  It’s where you add radishes for that perfect and slightly piquant bite of fish taco.

Every time I visit my parents, I make sure to make a stop at our old family favorite, Mexico Restaurant.  I know new restaurants have popped up and some claim they are better, I have not found that to be so, maybe I am biased by the many years of dining there.  I have even made my husband a lover of their cuisine.

Again, I come back to the poblanos.  I wanted to make the chilies rellenos, but I feared I could not do them justice.  I will try another time, hopefully yielding delicious results.  With the days of summer gone, I decided to relish the last of its flavors.  Corn and poblanos are a natural paining.  Paired with some quinoa, the dish soared.  I almost forgot about the authentic Mexican food, almost but not quite.  Luckily, I will be visiting my parents soon and there will be poblanos galore waiting for me.

Quinoa with Poblanos, Corn, and Chives

Ingredients

Serves 2-3

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup dry quinoa, soaked in water for 15 minutes and then rinsed

3 Poblano peppers, cut into strips (seeds and ribs removed)

1 cup corn kernels

2 shallots, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

the juice of 2 limes

a bunch of chives (as much as you want really, I like a lot)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin

salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste

optional–lime wedges, avocado slices, sour cream, extra chives, for garnish

Method

I like to cook quinoa in the pasta method, if you prefer it the traditional way, go with your own method.  Boil ample water in a medium-sized pot.  Add the quinoa and allow to boil for about 15 minutes, or until cooked.  Drain the excess water in a colander and set aside.

In a sauté pan, on medium heat, cook the shallots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the garlic and allow it to slightly change color, about a minute.  Add in the corn and cumin and allow the corn to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Next, the Poblanos along with the lime juice go in and do not let them get mushy, they should still have a little bite left in them, season with salt and pepper.

The corn and Poblano mixture should cook for about 5 more minutes.  At this point, toss in the quinoa and chives and incorporate the whole mixture together.  Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream, avocado, chives, and lime.

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I got down poured on yesterday. I wanted to use the dark stormy clouds as an excuse to not go to the gym. But, my inner dilemma and the impending guilt that would ensue made me get my act together and drag myself out the door. I wore my rain boots and took my husband’s heavy-duty umbrella and braved the dark skies. Neither of these two items would really help the upcoming downpour I was to face. Literally, the minute I stepped outside sheets of rain coming in at me from all directions soaked my entire body. I thought I should just go back up to my apartment, but no I kept going, all the way to the gym. When I arrived I must have looked like a frazzled lunatic. Hair all unkempt, wet clothes, and dripping arms.  As you can get my first stop was to the locker room to put the hair dryer into action.

When I was finished at the gym, believe me when I say I wanted to just order takeout. But, in the morning I took out chicken breasts to defrost. I’m sure we all know that we aren’t supposed to refreeze defrosted meat, I don’t know if this is true or an old wives’ tale. Either way, I was tempted to refreeze it, but decided to just cook it. My focus here isn’t the chicken though. I didn’t do anything that special with it. I tossed it with some mayonnaise, honey, herbs, harissa, then breaded it with panko and baked it. The main star of the meal was the pearl couscous that I made as a side dish. Usually, I make regular couscous and toss in whatever chopped vegetables I have on hand. This time, I basically did the same thing but amped it up a little.

I caramelized shallots and threw in some crunchy and crisp Napa cabbage. The Napa cabbage doesn’t have an overpowering taste yet adds great flavor and texture. I am all about the crunch, the crunch factor prompted me to add in cucumbers and almonds. I always add in dried cranberries to couscous and I did this time as well. I threw in some olives for saltiness. A dish isn’t made by me if there aren’t tons of herbs in it, so that’s what I did here; parsley and mint. A squeeze of lemon, some extra olive oil, and some crumbled sheep’s milk feta complete the dish.

I must talk about the spices here, I love adding cumin and coriander to couscous. Many times, I add a pinch of turmeric, but this time I didn’t feel I needed it. In addition, I threw in another flavor contrast; cane sugar and crushed red chilies. Everything balanced in the end. You might think I don’t know when to stop with ingredients and sometimes that may be the case, but usually it all works out.  Cooking calms me down, once I started preparing this dish I forgot about my rain fiasco.

Summer Pearl Couscous

Serves 4, as a side

Ingredients

1 cup dry pearl couscous (cooked according to package directions)

3 shallots, sliced

1/2 a head of Napa Cabbage, chopped

1 clove of garlic

1/4 of an English cucumber, in a small dice

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup pitted olives, roughly chopped (any variety you like)

1/4-1/2 cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta (or any mild variety)

2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted

10 sprigs of parsley, chopped

2 sprigs of mint, chopped

juice of half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste

3/4 teaspoon of salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon cane sugar or turbinado sugar

extra virgin olive oil

Method

Heat a saucepan on medium-low with some olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Add in the shallots and allow them to caramelize, about 15 minutes. When the shallots are caramelized toss in the Napa cabbage and garlic and allow the cabbage to wilt down a bit and slightly pick up some caramelization. Add in all the spices and sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Next, add in the cranberries and allow them to plump up a little and rehydrate.

Remove the pan from the heat. Take the prepared couscous and add in the shallots and cabbage mixture. Put in the cucumbers, olives, parsley, mint, lemon juice, a little extra olive oil, and the slivered almonds. Toss everything together so that everything is evenly distributed. Crumble the feta on top and serve, slightly warm, at room temperature, or even cold, if you like.

I made these Pakistani style Potato Cutlets for my Eid dinner as a replacement for beef kebabs because we invited someone who doesn’t eat beef.  Therefore, I decided on these.  They can be served as an appetizer, you are probably familiar of them from Indian restaurants where they are referred to as Aloo ki Tikki (usually an appetizer).

These are so simple to make as well.  It is often the case in my house that I get lazy on occasion and don’t feel like grocery shopping.  Especially, when I have to carry the heavy bags home.  Sometimes, I am left at home with potatoes, eggs, some random herbs, and other things not worth mentioning.  That’s when I really wish I had gone food shopping because I wouldn’t have to put my mind through the agony of what can I make from these ingredients I have on hand.  But, I can usually make these potato cutlets.  They are really yummm when they are freshly pan-fried.  These cutlets satisfy anyone’s salty cravings (which, I usually have a lot of).  I use Panko breadcrumbs because they create more texture and add a better crispiness, but regular breadcrumbs work fine as well.  They are simple, quick, and very budget friendly as well.

Potato Cutlets

Makes about 20, 3-4 inch in diameter cutlets

Ingredients

4 medium to large potatoes, I used red ones

1 onion, chopped finely

1 large handful cilantro, chopped finely (I know, how exact)

1 long green chili, chopped finely

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2-1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 1/2  teaspoons coriander seeds ground coarsely in a spice mill or mortar and pestle

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried pomegranate seeds (anar dana) ground in the spice mill or mortar and pestle, optional (My mother in law adds these in her cutlets and they improve the taste.  If an Indian or Pakistani grocery store is not near you, you can skip this.)

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten with some water salt and crushed chili flakes

Panko breadcrumbs about 1 cup

vegetable oil for frying

*Adjust the spices if you would like a milder cutlet.  I think most people can handle the amount of spice I have listed here, but make adjustments according to your taste buds.

Method

Cut and peel the potatoes into large chunks and place in a saucepan with cold water and boil until they are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the onions, cilantro, and green chili.  I did this in my mini food processor.  When the potatoes have cooled slightly, mash them with a potato masher or fork.  Do not make them too smooth, leave a little bit of chunkiness to them.  Next, add the onions, cilantro, green chili, and all the spices.  Mix everything together like how you would mix meatballs.  Next, form the potato mixture into medium sized round patties.  You can keep them frozen like this for about a month and bread them after they are defrosted.  But, I fried mine fresh.  Put the egg mixture (with salt and red chili flakes) in a plate and in a separate plate add the panko breadcrumbs.  Put the potato cutlet into the egg then into the breadcrumbs and fry in hot oil until golden brown on both sides.  You do not need to add too much oil to your frying pan, just enough for a pan fry.  You can place these on a plate with paper towel to soak up the excess oil.  Serve hot with chutney.  Or serve on a bun as a “veggie” burger with double the carbs :).