Zucchini-Apple Fritters

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What a glorious weekend, but where’s autumn!?

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As the long summer days wound down, I was kind of excited about welcoming the glorious colors of fall! Bright hues of red, yellow, orange and brown with quickly fading greens bursting in the canopies! But, fall splendor seems to be quite elusive this year!

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Despite the lack of the autumn chill, I still had the timely craving for something comforting and delicious to enjoy! My appetite is so predictable! Anyway, my craving for some homemade hashbrown (potato kind), eggs and bacon didn’t really stick. For once, I convinced myself quite easily to try to make something a little lighter and healthier. As I made a mental run of things in the refrigerator, I paused at zucchinis and Granny Smith apples.

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I decided to make some sort of a fritter using zucchini and apple, but without any eggs. I made a version of these with eggs, and decided I am not a big fan of egg-y fritters. If you like crispy texture, you will probably not enjoy this the way I made it – unless you coat it with breadcrumbs and bake/fry. These fritters (“hashbrowns”) are sort of creamy, sort of soft, sort of pate-ish. Not sure how to explain them, but they are delicious. They are very light, so you can easily eat half the fritters…and it’s OK if you do because they are, in my opinion, quite healthy! Curry powder adds a certain depth to these fritters and I highly recommend you use them. But, if you don’t have it in your pantry, you can skip it.

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These fritters are quite versatile. They will go well with eggs for breakfast or with rice and curries for a main course or just a little snack! I also stored leftovers for couple of days in the refrigerator and they warmed up beautifully in the microwave. Hope you give this recipe a try!

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Zucchini-Apple Fritters

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients
2 zucchinis, grated
1/2 Granny Smith apple, grated
2 scallions, green and white part minced finely
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder, if desired
Salt and pepper to taste
Few tablespoons of oil to pan fry the fritters

Preparation
1) Squeeze excess water out of the grated zucchini and apple and add to a medium bowl.
2) Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well by hand. This helps breakdown the ingredients a little so they are easy to form into little patties later on.
3) Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to let the cornmeal and flour soak up any excess liquid.
4) Heat a frying pan over medium heat and a tablespoon of oil. Swirl around to coat.
5) Form the mixture into golf-ball sized round. Place a few in the pan with enough room around them so you can flatten the balls into small disks, about 3″ wide.
6) Cook on one side for 2 minutes or so till golden brown. Flip carefully onto the other side and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove to a serving platter and enjoy warm.

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Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken and Vegetables

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True it is July and there is just a glimmer of hope that it might actually start to feel like summer, but that shouldn’t stop you from wanting a comforting bowl of soup for a meal, right?! Well, let’s just assume that’s the case! I know a bowl of soup sounds far more inviting in the cold and dreary winter months, but hey, with this intensely flavored bowl, you might actually feel like you are vacationing somewhere in Thailand or Sri Lanka! 

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The idea for this recipe originated from a lunch break conversation with a colleague who was longingly taking out a warm bowl of homemade soup from the microwave. It smelled great and she went on to add that she was so sad that her last bit of soup made in bulk was going to be consumed! She quickly summarized the recipe for me while I made a mental note of just three things – curry powder, coconut milk and whatever you want to throw in to make it a meal! I also remembered with a smile a small Ziploc bag of kefir lime leaves that I had in the freezer from an online purchase eons ago! I knew adding that would mean I would get an addictive aroma of combination of curry, coconut and citrus! What not to love about this, huh!

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I didn’t have to wait around to make this recipe. I had all the ingredients on hand – you think it is weird? 🙂 Especially those kefir lime leaves! Oh well! By the way, for those of you who wish to avoid meat, you can easily substitute the chicken with tofu and the chicken broth with vegetable broth. I think that in essence will make this recipe vegan! A really delicious one!

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So, armful of assorted vegetables, a small tray of chicken thighs and a little of this and that, voila, the recipe was concocted in a flash! Seriously, don’t let the list of ingredients discourage you from trying this out. It is really a snap to whip up and the end result is….honestly, I think you should just make it and tell me yourself!

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Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken and Vegetables

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients
6 chicken thighs, skin removed
Salt and pepper to season the chicken
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided for use
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ inch thick slices
1/2 large red pepper, sliced into 2″ strips
1/2 large green pepper, sliced into 2″ strips
1 cup sliced mushrooms (button or baby bella)
1/4 cup diced onions
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon mild or medium curry powder
2 kefir lime leaves, zest of 1 lime OR 2″ piece of lemon grass, crushed
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1 32-oz container chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
Dash of crushed red pepper, optional
3 corn on the cobs, cut in half (optional)
1 cup of cooked noodles (rice or Udon preferred) – Optional

Preparation:
1. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Heat a large, heavy bottom pan over high heat and drizzle a tablespoon of oil. Place the chicken thighs in a single layer and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil to the same pan and add the vegetables, including onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes.
4. Stir in the curry powder and cook for another minute or two till the raw smell of the curry powder fades away. Add in the browned chicken pieces.
5. Slowly add the chicken broth, water and soy sauce. Adjust the amount of soy sauce to your taste. Add in the kefir lime leaves, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce heat to medium and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes till the chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
6. Reduce heat to low and slowly stir in the coconut milk, reserving a few tablespoons to top the soups before serving.
7. Serve hot with some noodles (if using) and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.

You can refrigerate any leftover for consuming later. Just know that when you reheat, the soup may look a bit “split” because of the coconut milk trying to separate from the soup. The taste will still be great!

Curried Ground Turkey


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Of late, my hubby has been doing majority of our grocery shopping. As much as I appreciate his help, I sometimes wish I was the one running to the grocery store – especially when he comes home with 3-pound package of meat or a whole grocery bag full of those fat eggplants! 🙂

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Such was last week’s grocery run! Among other things, 2 packages of 3-lb pack of ground turkey – and oops, not my usual extra lean version! These were the oh so moist, yet oh so calorific 85% lean version! What to do! Oh well! Since both the packages were promptly placed in the freezer (guess who did it!), I had to use up everything once I thawed a package! 3 pounds of ground turkey and a lazy weekend with nothing to do!

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My kids have been asking for meatballs and I actually wanted to get ground turkey to make a curry! Since I didn’t want to use up all that meat in just two dishes, I added a third! So, my 3 pounder transformed into super moist meatballs, curried turkey and seasoned turkey taco meat! All were pretty easy recipes, so off I started with the curried turkey dish first!

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You don’t need many exotic spices to make this immensely flavorful dish that could be served over rice or with a side of a flatbread such as Indian naan, pita bread or just plain super-crusty bread! You just need a small amount of good quality curry powder!

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Since my dear hubby also brought me a mesh bag full of sweet potato when I specifically asked for 3, I decided to amp up the nutritional value of the curry with the addition of sweet potato cubes and spinach! Don’t wait, grab the few ingredients that are needed and whip up this delicious, semi-nutritious (wish I had the extra lean meat)

Curried Ground Turkey

  • Servings: 4-5
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Ingredients
1 pound ground turkey (lean or extra lean)
1 tablespoon oil*
1/4 cup chopped onions
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, optional
1/4 cup water
salt to taste
1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut milk, optional

Preparation:
1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown ground turkey till lightly brown and cooked through.
2. If you are using higher fat than 90-93% lean turkey, chances are you will have bit of fat accumulating after browning the meat. I usually scoop this out and discard.
3. If the meat mixture is too dry, use the tablespoon of oil*. To the pan, add onion and garlic.
4. Stir around cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the dry spices and salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
5. Add the sweet potato and spinach. Gently stir. Add the water and cook covered on low heat for 15 minutes or so, till sweet potato is soft and the sauce thickens.
6. Stir in the coconut milk, if using, and remove from heat.

Serve the dish with steamed rice or your favorite flatbread.

Chickpeas in curry sauce

20140327_191710I always try to have a can or two of chickpeas on hand. Yes, they are tastier and probably healthier if you soak and cook them in your own kitchen, but I always seem to need them on the spur of the moment. Hence, I usually stock my pantry with few cans of different types of beans.

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I use chickpeas in salads, mixed in with rice, tossed in chicken curry and in myriad other ways. One of the most common preparation is making a curry highlighting their simple, yet delicious taste and texture. Chickpea curry can be prepared in many ways and it goes by different names – chole and channa masala being the most common.

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This particular recipe also uses some diced potato. Potato soaks up the flavors well without “stealing the thunder” from the chickpeas. Feel free to omit it if you want to just keep it all chickpeas. Taste will be unaltered.

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This dish can be served with steamed rice or any flat bread. Accompany it with a small crispy salad or sliced cucumbers and red onions with bit of lemon juice.

Chickpeas in curry sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium sized potato, diced into about 1/2″ cube
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons ginger/garlic paste
2″ piece of cinnamon, broken up
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (adjust to taste)
salt to taste
To garnish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup sliced red onions
Sliced lemon

Preparation
1. Heat oil in a medium wok or pan. Sauté cinnamon and cumin for a minute under low medium flame.
2. Increase heat to medium and add onions and ginger/garlic paste and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add potato and continue to cook for another 3 – 4 minutes.
4. Stir in cayenne, tomato sauce, curry powder and water. Season with salt and cook for about 20 minutes, till potato is cooked through.
5. Add chickpeas and continue cooking till chickpeas are heated through and the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
6. Garnish with sliced onions, chopped cilantro and slices of lemon.
7. Serve hot with steamed rice or flat bread of your choice (like naan, roti, chappati or even pita bread).

Curried Barley with Chickpeas

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Let me be the first to admit I can’t remember the last time I cooked with barley. It is possible that I never did! Oh boy, am I glad I managed to bring some into my kitchen just couple of weeks ago!

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Barley is one of those grains that can be easily passed off in favor of others such as quinoa etc. However, with its delectable chewy texture, thickening properties and satisfying nature, I think it could definitely be one of the most promising grains out there. If you have never had it before and are wondering how it tastes, it tastes like tiny bits of cooked pasta, but perhaps a bit chewier. Definitely a pleasant taste and texture.

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For my first attempt at preparing a vegetarian entrée using barley, I wanted something very flavorful and substantial, yet without much heaviness. A pilaf-style dish should fit the bill and that’s what I did. The end product was very satisfying, especially with the addition of chickpeas and was very flavorful with just the right amount of curry flavor.

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Curried Barley with Chickpeas

  • Servings: 4-5
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Ingredients:
1 cup of uncooked barley
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon ginger/garlic paste
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced red peppers
1 6oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice spider
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Preparation
1. Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium heat.
2. Sauté onions and ginger/garlic paste till onion turns translucent and starts to turn golden.
3. Add the barley (rinse barley before adding, if needed) and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the vegetables and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Now add the ground spices.
5. Stir in the tomato sauce, salt and water. Bring the mixture to boil, cover, reduce heat and cook for about 25-30 minutes till all the water is absorbed and the barley is fully cooked.
6. Finally, stir in the rinsed chickpeas and warm through for another 5 minutes.
7. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated.

Jamaican Style Meat Curry

20140302_193633[1]Mutton, although not as common in the United States, is a shining star in Southeast Asian nations as well as Africa and Caribbean Islands. Mutton curry was/is at least a weekly occurrence in most households in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan mutton, as in India and other southeast Asian  countries, is predominantly derived from goats rather than sheep. Personally mutton from goats tastes leaner than that from sheep. Sheep meat tends to taste a bit gamey – not my first preference by any means. Another note about mutton that you might already know is that it is a red meat. Darn it!

I don’t cook mutton often – few times a year tops! This way we can really relish a good mutton curry every once in a while without risking our lipid panels too much! 🙂 Mutton is one of those things we love but can go for months without missing it! It works out well!

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So, when I came across some mutton at the local grocery store, I bought it on impulse. I think this was the 3rd purchase of mutton in almost 9 months –  not bad eh! Then my recent interest in African and Caribbean cuisines took the better of me and I grabbed a cellophane wrapped package of habaneros in different hues. Oh, what potent fiery bombs are those little guys! I wonder what those lovely Jamaican and African ladies do with the multiple packages of peppers they pile in their shopping carts! Perhaps I will ask one of them during my next shopping trip!

So, this recipe is a deviation from how I would normally prepare mutton. This uses a good amount of curry powder, dash of cayenne and as many habaneros as you can handle while consuming the curry and afterwards! In my case, I tried two peppers for about slight over a pound of meat and ended up scooping out one in the middle of cooking. The other one that was left still made the curry super spicy – and I know spicy, so please be warned! Just an FYI, I used the seeds and all!

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The resulting curry, simmered in wonderfully spiced, fiery, coconut-based gravy was rich and saucy – just the right dish to go with a small serving of white or brown rice or a piece of flat bread. Enjoy!

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Jamaican Style Meat Curry

  • Servings: 4-5
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Ingredients
1 1/4 lbs of mutton or chicken pices cut into 2 to 2 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons oil plus extra tablespoon of oil
1 1/2 tablespoon Jamaican* curry powder plus 1 tablespoon
1 – 2 habanero peppers halved (be very careful handling these. Remove seeds if you don’t want your curry very spicy)
A spring of curry leaves or 2 bay leaves
1/2 cup of diced onions
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 inch piece of ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light coconut milk
3/4 cup canned tomato sauce or crushed tomato2 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2″ chunks (optional)

Preparation
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or heavy bottomed pan and add 2 tablespoons of curry powder.
2. Brown the mutton pieces in the curry powder spiced oil. Remove to a plate and keep aside.
3. Heat the additional tablespoon of oil in the same pan. Add onion, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, cayenne, additional tablespoon of curry powder, salt, turmeric and habanero. Stir fry for 3-5 minutes under medium heat till onion starts to brown.
4. Add the browned meat pieces, tomato sauce and coconut milk and simmer under low medium heat for about an hour. Check after 3o minutes and adjust salt.
5. If using potatoes, add them in the last 20 minutes of cooking.6. At the end of the cooking time, skim and remove any fat that collects on the top of the gravy.
7. Serve with brown or white rice or roti and sliced cucumbers, tomato and plain yogurt.

* If you don’t have Jamaican curry powder on hand (I didn’t either), use equal amount of Madras curry powder with a 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice.