Spicy Naan

Today I have a variation of the recipe I posted yesterday, spicy naan! Spices are mixed into the flour before it is kneaded into dough. And sprinkled over the top. I was tying to recreate the taste of the spicy naan we had at Sanaa, the restaurant in Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World. We dined there this past summer and enjoyed their flatbread platter.

I made five different flatbreads garlic naan, spicy naan, plain naan, onion kulcha and aloo paratha. I served them with roasted red pepper hummus and cucumber dip. It made for an filling dinner and allowed us to revisit some of the enjoyable moments from our vacation.

The recipe for this naan is very similar to that of plain naan posted yesterday. The only difference is the addition of cayenne pepper and cumin and coriander powder to the dough.

You will need (4 naan)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 oz. instant yeast
4 tbsp. almond milk
2 tsp. thick maple syrup
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 fl. oz. warm water
1 tsp. cumin coriander powder
1 tsp. or adjust to taste cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. onion seeds (kalonji)

Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl to form a dough. Follow the recipe plain naan.


This is my entry for week four, day one of BM #69 for the theme flatbread.


Naan, the delicious flatbread leavened with yeast is a great addition to any menu especially if it hot out of the oven. There is a large variety of naan and I have a sampling of a few here in this space. This past summer we were on a vacation to Disney World and decided to dine in at Sanaa, the restaurant in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. They served a flatbread platter - different types of flatbread with chutneys, sauce and dips. I decided to recreate this platter in my house. I served it roasted red pepper hummus and cucumber raita.

There are five different flatbreads in my platter - Garlic naan, plain naan, spicy naan, onion kulcha and aloo (potato) paratha. Recipes for Garlic naan (first bread from left in pic) and aloo paratha (fifth bread from left in pic) can be found on this space. The others are new to this blog. I will post them one by one this week. The first is the naan, it is the third bread from the left.

You will need
For the dough
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 oz. instant yeast
4 tbsp. almond milk
2 tsp. thick maple syrup
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 fl. oz. warm water

This recipe is similar to the garlic naan recipe. Add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl. Now mix in the wet ingredients and form a dough. Cover and allow it to rise for about 2 hours. Transfer to a working surface and divide the dough into 6 portions. Allow them to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 F.

Once oven is preheated place a pizza stone or an inverted baking sheet on the second rack. Switch on the broiler on high heat. Take one portion of dough and roll it out on a floured working surface to about 6-7 inches in diameter. Pick up the naan in one hand, moisten the other palm with water and gently rub it over one side of the naan. Place the naan moistened side down on the heated stone/inverted sheet. Place it under the broiler for a couple of minutes watching closely. You can do two naan at a time.


This is my entry for week four, day one of BM #69 for the theme flatbreads.

Kid's Delight - Fruit based recipes - Event Announcement

Changing seasons bring with it a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. The food we cook also changes to accommodate the changing produce in the grocery store. Whether you are enjoying the last taste of summer fruit or the fresh taste of fall fruit, share your recipes with us.

This month I am hosting Kid's Delight, an event started by Srivalli of Spice your life. As part of this event I challenge you to cook dishes where fruit is the primary ingredient and have the stamp of approval from a child. I understand this 'approval' can be subjective. My child has a mature palate and will try anything. Your child may be picky. I will accept all entries as long as they are vegetarian (eggs okay).

Here are the rules.
Prepare a fruit based dish and blog about it between the 16th of October and 15 of November 2016.
Link to this post and Srivalli's Kid's Delight post.
Entries should use fruit and not fruit extracts. Fruit juice is okay.
Multiple entries are allowed.
Children in your life should have approved this dish.
The dish should be vegetarian (eggs okay)
Archived entries will not be accepted.

Bloggers and non-bloggers are invited to send in their entries to varadaskitchen@gmail.com with the subject line 'Fruit Based Recipes'. Please include the following in your email.
Your name and the name of your blog
Name of the recipe
URL of the post
Picture of the dish

I look forward to all your colorful dishes

Cucumber Mint Sandwiches

One of the most popular and very simple sandwich is the cucumber sandwich. A hint of mint enhances the taste. This happens to be one of my very favorite sandwiches. I realized a few months ago that I had not posted this recipe. Today I decided to set that right.

You will need
8 slices of bread
1/2 cucumber peeled and thinly sliced
10 fresh mint leaves
1 tsp. butter
1 tbsp. cream cheese

Leave the butter and cream cheese on the counter top to allow it to come to room temperature. Wash and dice the mint leaves. In a bowl mix together the mint leaves, butter and cream cheese.

To assemble: Cut off the crust on the slices of bread. I left it on. Apply the butter cheese mixture to one side of all the bread slices. Place the slices of cucumber in a single layer on the buttered side of a slice of bread. Place another slice over the top buttered side down. Cute diagonally twice to form little triangles. Repeat for the remaining slices.


This is my entry for week four, day one of BM #69 for the theme small bites. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#69.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Soup in summer? Yes, I made soup in summer. We had a lot of rain a few weeks back and soup felt good for a change. Red bell peppers, in my opinion, add a ton of flavor to any dish they are used in. Roasted red bell peppers are even better. I love the aroma in the house as they are roasted. And the family loves the end result.

 I like to add almond milk for a creamier texture. It adds flavor and is perfect for soup in summer.

You will need (4 servings)
2 red peppers
1 tbsp. oil
1/3 medium onion, prefarably red, but others will work too
1 medium carrot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsps tomato paste
1 tsp. paprika
1 2/3 cups broth or water
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. almond milk

Roast the bell peppers. I do it on the stove top. I stick a fork in the pepper and place it directly over the heat. I turn it around to char the skin evenly. When done I wrap it in aluminium foil and keep it aside for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, dice the onions. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions. Saute until cooked and semi transparent.

Unwrap the roasted bell peppers and rub the skin off. It should come off easily.

Leave a few charred pieces of skin on the pepper. It adds a smoky flavor to the soup. Dice the peppers and the carrots.

Add all the ingredients except the milk to the pan.

Bring the mixture to a boil, lower heat and let it simmer until the carrots are cooked.

Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Puree in a blender. Return to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add the almond milk. Let it simmer without coming to a boil for a couple of minutes. Turn off heat.


Chickpea Avocado Feta Salad

A few days back I had soaked garbanzo beans without checking to see if I had all the ingredients I normally use to cook them. The next day I was in a bind. I had no time to visit the grocery store and did not have anything else prepped. I had an avocado in the refrigerator and some left over feta cheese. A simple dressing of lime juice, salt, pepper and I had a delicious salad ready.

You will need
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans or chickpea
1 avocado
1/4 cup feta, adjust to taste
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lime

If using dry beans, soak overnight and pressure the next day. Discard the cooking water. Peel the avocado and remove the seed. Dice finely. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.


This is my entry for week one, day one of BM #66 for the theme 3 Vegetables that are fruit. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#66.

Walnut Kale Pesto

Pesto is a green sauce traditionally made with pine nuts, basil and olive oil. Pesto is rich in fat and while a well made sauce is very flavorful it may not always be the preferred choice. If you are looking for an alternative this recipe is for you. I had some left over cottage cheese I trying to use up and needed a sauce to bind it as a filling. The walnut kale pesto worked perfectly.

I would not say the flavor is close but this pesto will work just as well as the traditional pesto recipe. You could add a bunch of basil leaves along with the kale to bring the taste profile closer to that you are used to, but in my family we really like this recipe.

You will need
2 cups Kale leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 clove garlic
salt to taste

Bring water to a boil in the microwave safe cup. Add the kale leaves to the water and let it sit on the counter top for a few minutes. Drain the water, rinse the leaves in cold water and you are have instant blanched kale. Alternately you could use a pan over a stove top to boil the water.

Add the kale to a food processor along with the other ingredients and pulse until you have the desired consistency.

Use in pizza, pasta or sandwiches.


All of the rice preparations, this is one of my favorites. It brings back childhood memories that I have never been able to place. But it always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. The tangy flavors of tamarind with the spices makes this rice delicious. When I saw this post by Valli who blogs at Cooking 4 all seasons, I had to try it.

I stayed true to the recipe except I toned down the heat. It was delicious and everyone loved it. I have made this version several times and it will be my go to version in the future.

You will need
For the spice powder
1/2 tsp oil
1 tbsp. urad dal
2 tbsp. channa dal
1 dry red chili pepper
1 tsp. black pepper, whole
1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

For the tamarind paste
2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. urad dal
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 red chili pepper
1 tsp. channa dal
1/4 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp. asafoetida
3-4 curry leaves
handful of cashews
2 tsp. peanuts
1 tbsp. tamarind extract
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste

For the rice
2 cups brown rice
2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp. oil

Wash the rice and drain the water. Keep aside for 15 minutes. Add 4 cups of water to the rice and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat to medium. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the water has evaporated and the rice is cooked through. Turn off the heat.

While the rice is cooking heat another pan for the spice powder. Add the oil and roast the ingredients for the spice powder. Turn off the heat and spices cool. Grind to a fine powder and keep aside until needed.

Next prepare the tamarind paste. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the remaining ingredients except the last three on the list. When they sizzle add the tamarind extract, 1 cup of water, the turmeric powder and salt. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Allow the mixture to thicken. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool.

To put it all together, add fresh ground black pepper, oil and the tamarind paste to the cooked rice.


Spicy Green Bell Pepper Side

As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I was going to try it. It was one of those that use a special spice powder and all the ingredients in the powder screamed - delicious. So here is my version of a spicy green bell pepper side.

I found this recipe on Pavani's blog. I stayed fairly true to the recipe except I cut down on the number of dried red chili peppers. 

You will need
For the spice powder
1 tbsp. channa dal
1/2 tbsp. urad dal
1 tbsp. coriander seeds
1 dry red chili pepper
1 tsp. tamarind paste
salt to taste

2 medium preferably, thin skinned green bell peppers
All of the spice powder above
2 tbsp yogurt, sour
1 tbsp oil, I used olive oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
3-4 curry leaves (I did not use any)
salt to taste

Roast the first four ingredients for the spice powder until they start to turn color. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Add the remaining ingredients and grind to a powder. Keep aside until needed.

Rinse and dice the green bell pepper. In a bowl add the yogurt and the diced bell pepper. Keep aside for 10 minutes.

Heat a pan with the oil. Add the mustard seeds. When they crackle add the cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Add the yogurt and bell pepper mixture and salt. Add a tablespoon of water. Cook covered until the bell pepper is cooked through, but not mushy. Add the spice powder. Cover, and cook on low heat for a couple of minutes.

Turn off the heat.


Green Beans and Coconut

Green beans is a regularly featured vegetable on my menu and I am always thinking of different ways to cook them. I have a few different preparations on this space already. But the urge to try something different is always there. While I was trying to come up with something, I remembered bookmarking this recipe from Sandhya's blog. She blogs at My Cooking Journey and has a lot of traditional recipes.

I bookmarked this recipe as it showcases a very different method of cooking beans from the one I normally use. I then forgot all about the bookmark until today. I followed the original recipe and the end result was great. The beans were tender and flavorful.

You will need
1 cup beans, diced finely
3 tbsp. mung dal
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal / split black gram
1 dried red chili pepper
1/4 tsp. asafoetida
3-4 curry leaves
1 tsp. sugar
4 tbsp. shredded coconut
salt to taste

Place the beans and mung dal in a pan. Fill the pan with water until the beans are submerged. Bring the water to a boil and then let it simmer on medium low heat until the beans are tender but do not lose their crunch. During the last couple minutes add salt. Turn off the heat and drain the water.

Heat oil on a pan and add the mustard, urad dal/black gram, red chili pepper, curry leaves (I omitted these as I did not have any) and asafoetida. When the mustard seeds crackle add the drained beans and mung dal. Mix well and let it cook. Add the sugar and continue to cook until the beans dry out. Add the coconut. Mix well and turn off the heat.

Enjoy as a side with either poli/chapati or rice and dal.

Paneer Pesto Pull Apart Rolls

Today I present pull apart rolls. This is another shape I saw on Pinterest and had to try. It is really easy once you figure out what to fill the bread with. I had made a paneer pesto filling for the pull apart bread I posted two days ago. I used the same filling here. I used only whole wheat flour and no butter or eggs so the bread lacks the shine or the brown color. But it is very flavorful with the addition of sourdough starter.

You will need
For the Dough
200 gm white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur)
130 gm water
100 gm fed sourdough starter
6 gm salt

For the filling
3 1/2 oz paneer
1/4 cup pesto sauce
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter, melted at room temperature
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the dough and keep aside, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover, stretch and fold the dough over itself. Turn and repeat until you have gone all around the bowl. Cover and keep aside for another 15 minutes. Repeat the stretch and fold method another 2-3 times. Then let the dough rise for 2-5 hours depending upon the season. In very warm weather you might want to keep the dough in the refrigerator.

Shred the paneer and saute over a little of the oil. When partially cooked, take it off the heat, and keep it on a paper towel to remove the moisture. Combine with the pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep aside until needed. In a separate bowl mix the oil, butter and the spices. Keep aside refrigerated until needed.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Flour a working surface and using a rolling pin roll the dough on it into a large rectangle. Sprinkle the prepared filling leaving an edge of an inch on one of the long sides.

Starting at one of the longer edges roll the dough tightly along with the filling to get a thick roll.

Place the roll on parchment paper in a baking sheet. Using a sharp knife cut the roll about an inch from the edge of the roll. Do not cut it all the way through. Repeat about an inch away from the first cut.

Cut at an interval of about an inch all the way along the roll making sure you do not cut all the way through.

Now roll the cut dough to one side, alternating with every cut as in the picture below.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the bread is cooked through. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool it completely.


Edible bread basket

Edible Spring Bread Basket / Braided Bread Basket

After I had made an edible bread basket I had this vision of a shallower basket that could be used as a centerpiece decorated with flowers. ...