Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Herb Garden inspired meals - Coconut Basil Rice, Cucumber Paratha, Mint infused ButterMilk, Orzo-Cantaloupe-Bing cherries-Corn Salad with mint blossoms.

This Summer I grew few plants and herbs in  the pots. Inspired by the Mint and Basil growing in my  patio garden I cooked this herb packed meal. I had one fresh ear of corn from local farmers market and few garden grown cucumbers shared by my friend, with few other veggies and ingredients I prepared this delicious Thali containing Cucumber Paratha, coconut Basil rice with green peas and snow peas, Mint infused butter milk, Cantaloupe-Bing cherry-Corn salad with mint flavored orzo and mint blossoms. Please scroll down to enjoy pictures of Mint and Basil herb plants.
Note: published on 11/16/11

Coconut Basil Rice with Green & Snow Peas
Ingredients :-
  • 2 Cup Basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (I used Renuka brand)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut + some for garnish
  • 2.5 cup water
  • 1 medium size onion - finely chopped
  • 1 Bay leaf 3" long
  • 2 inch piece ginger
  • 6-7 garlic cloves
  • 4-5 green chilies
  • 1 Cup frozen petite green peas (regular green peas are fine.)
  • 1.5 cup sliced snow peas
  • 2 cup fresh basil leaves with tender stems - I used spicy globe basil which is mild in aroma. If you are using other type of basil like purple or thai;  reduce little quantity or use as per your taste.
  • 1.5 Tb.spoon oil
Directions for preparing Basil Coconut Rice :-
  1. Rinse Basmati rice, soak for only 10 minutes - Drain, Cover and keep it aside.
  2. Combine green chilies, garlic cloves, ginger, 1 cup basil leaves in a small blender jar - grind to coarse texture  without adding water. Keep it aside.
  3. Heat 1/2 tablespoon  oil in a pressure cooker/ Pressure Pan ( minimum 3-4 liter size). Add half cup  roughly chopped Basil leaves, sizzle for 15 seconds. Add  1 teaspoon coarse paste. (from step 2)  Add 1.5 cup sliced snow peas, saute for 2 minutes over high heat. Now add one cup frozen green peas, little salt - saute for another 4-5 minutes over medium heat. If required sprinkle little water to avoid sticking at bottom, constant stirring is required.Transfer everything to a bowl and set  it aside. (You can use small size saute pan for this step.)
  4. Once again heat 1 tablespoon oil in pressure cooker. Drop one bay leaf ; sizzle for 15 seconds.  Add chopped onions; saute 5-6 minutes until onions turn soft.
  5. Add remaining mixture of ginger-garlic-chilies-basil - saute for a minute. Add drained rice and  half cup coconut milk. Mix well and simmer over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add 2.5 cup water - Stir and bring to a boil. Add 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut. Check for salt seasoning. Close the pressure cooker lid and cook over medium heat until cooker is ready to blow first whistle. (Some time cooker fails to blow whistle, in that case after 10-12 minutes reduce heat.) Quickly reduce heat to lowest setting and allow to rest on stove for another 10 minutes. Reduce little built up steam by slightly lifting whistle for 20-25 seconds.
  7. Once pressure cooker cools down, transfer cooked rice to a big bowl. Gently separate all grains and fluff rice with wooden spoon. Spread sauteed green peas and snow peas mixture, remaining chopped fresh basil leaves and 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut. Gently combine well with rice. Cover it with cling wrap and let it stand for 20 minutes before serving warm.
Note :- You can use any combination of veggies of your choice.In absence of pressure cooker you can cook Basil Rice in a thick gauge, non-stick minimum 4 quart size pot. You can add 1/2-1 cup more water and cook very slow on low heat with covered lid. Feel free to add more seasoning spices like cumin, shaheejera, Black pepper, cloves, cinnamon but season with minimal spices.

Cantaloupe, Corn, Bing Cherry Salad with Mint infused Orzo garnished with Mint blossoms.

Salad Ingredients :-
  • 1 cup mint infused cooked Orzo (refer recipe below to know how to prepare mint flavored orzo)
  • 2 cup heaped  scooped cantaloupe balls/chunks. (I used small size cantaloupe - see picture at end.)
  • 25-30 Bing cherries - deseeded and cut into half
  • 1cup corn kernels ( I used from fresh corn)
  • 12-15 tender Mint blossoms
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tb.spoon - finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1.5 Tb.spoon Olive oil
Step - 1 -- Preparing mint flavored Orzo :- 

Heat 1.5 tablespoon olive oil in a small size pot. Add 2 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves, saute/sizzle in hot oil for 15 seconds just like we sizzle curry leaves in hot oil. Take out half oil and few sizzled mint leaves in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoon orzo, saute for 30 seconds.Pour in 2.5 cups water, little salt -  Allow it to simmer over medium  heat for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 7-8 minutes more. You may add 2-3 tablespoon water if orzo absorbs water. Taste orzo for tenderness, once they are plump and soft, quickly drain under cold water and keep it aside. Sprinkle  reserved mint seasoned oil, toss and store in a covered container. (I cooked longer than suggested cooking time on package directions for perfect tender textured orzo.I used Taste of Inspirations brand organic orzo, authentic Italian product.)

Step - 2 -- Preparing Salad :- 

This is simple toss and serve salad. In a medium salad bowl  mix together cantaloupe balls/chunks, corn kernels, bing cherries, cooked orzo, 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Gently toss. Garnish with mint blossom and serve immediately.

Mint infused Butter milk /Chaas /Tak Recipe

In a deep bowl mix 1.5 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup cold water, little salt, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, 1 finely chopped green chili and half cup chopped fresh mint leaves.  Blend  with immersion blender  or whisk  until smooth - about  one minute. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve chilled.

Recipe for Preparing Kakdi / Cucumber Paratha/Roti

Finely grate one small 5-6 inch cucumber.(1/2 cup yield including cucumber juice) I used cucumber with skin. If cucumber is waxed then peel the skin. In a small blender jar combine - 2-3 green chilies+4 garlic clove+1 inch piece of ginger+ 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. Grind to coarse texture. In a medium size bowl  add one cup wheat flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, half teaspoon turmeric powder. Mix well. Now add grated cucumber along with its juices and coarsely ground  ginger-garlic mixture. Knead the dough with hands. If required add one tablespoon water. I didn't add water, cucumber juice was enough to form dough. Once it forms tight dough; apply one teaspoon oil all over dough ball and again knead for 2-3 minutes,wrap the dough ball with plastic wrap and keep it aside for 15 minutes.  Divide dough in equal 5-6 balls, roll 5 inch diameter paratha and griddle fry on both sides  on medium heat.


Spicy Globe Basil

Cinnamon Basil with purple Sage(clicked on June 23rd)

Cinnamon Basil and purple sage growing together in a pot.(above pot clicked after 1 week)

Pudina - Last years container mint spread on the ground this year.

Mint blossom

Scooping out Cantaloupe balls with Melon baller.
once good shaped balls are carved,
just scrape out rest cantaloupe meat into strips and  use them in the salad.

Coconut Basil Rice with  Kakdi  Paratha  &  Pudina  Chass

Monday, July 11, 2011

Oven broiled King Mackerel Steak, Green & Wax beans stir fry with Cranberries, Basil and fresh coconut -- served with Kerala Matta rice & King mackerel curry -- Fish special Indian Sunday lunch.

Sunday special lunch menu - King Mackerel curry, oven baked king mackerel steaks, locally grown green and wax beans stir fry infused with pot grown spicy globe basil leaves, all this  was served with Kerala matta rice. Here in NC we get fresh King Mackerel / King Fish in local Chinese store. I always get around 2 lbs King mackerel and cook curry and fry. For more information on King mackerel found in NC coast - Click here. In this post I am blogging recipe for oven broiled spicy King Mackerel steaks  and  Wax and Green beans stir fry with cranberries, pot grown basil and fresh coconut.
 Note : Published on...02.12.12

Green & Wax Beans Stir fry.

Recipe for French cut Green and Wax bean stir fry with cranberries, Basil and fresh coconut.

Ingredients :-
  • Green beans - 1 cup  cut into diagonal french cut
  • Wax beans - 1 cup cut into diagonal french cut
  • 1 cup - fresh basil leaves with tender stems ( I used mix of cinnamon and spicy Globe Basil)
  • 2 tiny onions - chopped thin lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup - sweetened cranberries
  • 2 green chilies - finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut  and few shavings of coconut for more appealing garnish.( check griddle image below.) I used potato peeler to get coconut shavings.
Green beans Stir Fry Method :-
  1. Thoroughly wash beans under running water, drain, slightly trim off  stem and other end of the beans, pull out strings from non tender older beans. Cut them diagonally into french style.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a medium size saute pan, throw in half cup roughly chopped basil  leaves, sizzle for 15 seconds. Add lengthwise sliced onions, chopped green chilies, saute for 3-4 minutes on high heat with frequent stirs. Now add 1 tablespoon cranberries, continue to saute with onions for 2 more minutes. In the process allow cranberries to get a bit burnt, darkened and caramelized. Sweetened cranberries make this bean stir fry extra delicious with added sweet and sour zest.
  3. Bring heat down to medium, add french cut green and wax beans, little salt - continue to saute for 4-5 minutes. Do add few tablespoons of water to keep moisture in the pan. 
  4. Now add remaining cranberries, 2-3 tbs water, taste and adjust salt level - reduce heat to medium low,  cover with the lid - cook for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid, continue cooking until all water has evaporated. Garnish with grated coconut and shavings of coconut, remaining basil leaves. Enjoy with rice and roti.
Wax beans and Green beans from Cary farmers market.

Wax Beans+Green Beans, container grown basil,
fresh coconut, cranberries and locally grown onions.

 grated coconut at left and shavings of fresh coconut at right side.

How to Cook Oven broiled/baked Spicy King Fish steaks?

Homemade Spice Rub for King fish fry :-
  • 1 Teaspoon - corriander
  • 1/2 Teaspoon - Jeera/Cumin
  • 6-7 inch long dry Pasilla chili pepper ( brings dark brown glow)
  • 5-6  dry Arbol chilies (for heat)
Combine and Grind above spices and dry peppers to a fine powder.
For marination you will also need :-
  • 6-8 Garlic cloves - coarsely ground paste
  • 2 inch Ginger piece - coarsely ground paste
  • 2-3 Tb.spoon rice flour or all purpose flour (maida)
Process for broiling / baking spicy King fish steaks in the oven :-
  1. Wash  King mackerel steaks, place them in a large plate/ aluminum foil/ plastic sheet. Lightly sprinkle with salt, gently rub and spread salt all over fish. Now sprinkle ground spice rub over king fish steaks, gently rub and pat all over fish. Now apply  Ginger garlic coarse paste along with little more salt over fish steaks, rub-pat and gently massage over steaks. You will need to sprinkle some water to  coat marinade evenly over steaks.
  2. Lastly sprinkle rice flour/ Maida (all purpose flour)over steaks and pat well to thicken the marination layer. If required use few drops of water. Cover marinated steaks and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Prepare baking dish either by spraying cooking oil  or  you can line tray with aluminum foil.  Liberally spray baking dish with oil. Use regular cooking oil not the ready made cooking sprays, you can fill cooking oil in any plastic spray and use it to grease the baking dish. (This home made oil spray is very useful while cooking.) Place marinated fish steaks in the prepared baking dish/tray. Spray little oil over the steaks.
  4. Make sure you preheat an oven for 10 minutes on low broil setting before placing baking tray. Set the oven on broil high heat setting, place baking tray 10-12 inch away from upper heating coil. Broil for 8-10 minutes. Pull the oven rack partially out and turn over steaks by using spatula or tongs. Do turning with care. (use oven mitts and stay safe) Let it broil for another 8-10 minutes. 
  5. Now set the broil heat setting to low.You may spray little oil over steaks to get more crisp coating. Turn the steaks one or two  times more, be gentle and skillful while turning to save crisp marinade layer. After 20-25 minutes  shut off the oven, move tray to the middle rack and let steaks stay in oven for another 10 minutes. You may cut down oven time if you are using much thinner steaks that is less than one inch thickness. 
  6. Enjoy with rice and roti. For preparing  King mackerel sandwich, burger or wrap, remove bones from the baked steaks and use boneless fish chunks. 
Marinated King Mackerel steaks  ready to get in the oven.

Oven Broiled / baked King Fish /Seer Fish/ Surmai steaks.

Seer Fish / King Fish lunch enjoyed on July 10th 2011.