Fennel Sandwich ~ India Inspired

Fennel seeds need no introduction to this Bharath Bawarchi but when it comes to fresh fennel, I always wondered how they would taste. Thanks to Jihva Fennel, I found out that fresh fennel has a light licorice flavor which becomes more delicate when cooked.

For my first try, I placed the fresh fennel in a comfortable combination. I stir-fried the fennel with red onion and red bell peppers and seasoned with fennel seeds. The result was a vigorous vegetable medley with pronounced fennel sweetness.

I have to say that it was so easy to fall in love with fresh fennel in this Indian-inspired combination, and I recommend fresh fennel friendship to my fellowship.

Fresh Fennel Bulb

Fennel Sandwich ~ India Inspired
(for four sandwiches)

1 fennel bulb
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1 green chilli
1/4 tsp each – turmeric, fennel and cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon, peanut oil

Slice the top off and remove the outer layer of the fennel bulb. With a mandoline or knife, slice the fennel lengthwise into thin strips about two inches long. Finely slice onions, red bell pepper and chilli into thin strips of the same length.

In a cast iron skillet, heat the peanut oil. Add cumin and fennel seeds and toast to fragrance. Add the onion and cook for two to three minutes. Add the fresh fennel, red bell pepper and chilli strips and stir-fry for about five minutes, until the vegetables are tender and start to get brown. Season with salt and turmeric and sprinkle some lemon juice if desired.

Serve warm over grilled or toasted bread or chapati for fennel flavored, filling meal.

Stir-fried fresh fennel with red onions and red bell peppers Fennel Sandwich ~ India Inspired
Fennel Sandwich ~ for Meal Today, and
For JFI~Fennel at Lovely Siri of Siri’s Corner

Food is Empowering!

There is a very important part of our daily life that we quite often take very casually or overlook very conveniently. That is “food”. We are made of what we eat. What we eat and how we eat dictate whether we thrive or survive. When I read about Indus Ladies call for entries to celebrate the International Women’s Day, I thought I have an opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you, because they apply more to women than they apply to men. Even in this age and time food is still predominantly a woman’s domain and only a healthy woman can make a happy family and thus a happy world.

  • Daily Activities
  • Eating right food in right portions during the day would pave the path for the activities of that day.

  • Children
  • I was not able to understand how adversely our eating habits would affect our learning ability in our childhood. Some parents start the day by offering greasy or fried items for breakfast and send their kids to school. As soon as the kids reach school, they would feel sleepy and would not be able to concentrate on what was being taught. I was not an exception; I also had such sleepy days in the class while growing up. I realized the effects of food to some extent by the time I got into college and stopped taking greasy and hard to digest kind of food for breakfast. Children at school age need a light, energetic and easy to digest types of food.

  • Long term life
  • Food is a double edged sword. If you read more, you learn more. If you work more, you earn more and probably save more. This analogy would not apply to food. If you eat more, you spend more, you lose health, lose relationships etc. It’s a hard to digest fact in this convenience is the queen atmosphere but shortcuts in food handling invariably lead to longer stay under hospital care. To gain the benefits of food: 1. Eat moderately. 2. Eat minimally processed or cooked food. 3. Choose from the bottom of the food chain – concentrate on vegetables, fruits and whole grains, etc. – maintain a minimal intake of meat, poultry or dairy. 4. Don’t be afraid to spend few extra minutes in food preparation and always pay attention to what is going into your body.

  • Family
  • Eating healthy will also create happy and successful families. Majority of the health problems adults get are due to improper or bad eating habits. Illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems are due to bad eating habits. Of course, our physical activities also play a role but that is secondary. As adults, if we get unhealthy, we would not be able to spend quality time with our kids and these problems show ripple effects even in old age. Parents who eat healthy would have a higher chance of creating a healthy family.

    More important than anything, conscious eating and compassionate living will create a sustainable environment for everyone. We should not consume more than needed, just because we have more buying power by virtue of earning more money. The most important organ in our body is the brain. A strong mind needs strong body and strong body needs right portions of nutritious food. Think about it – utilize food as a blessing to empower yourself, your family and your world.

    Pepper Parathas with Red Bell Peppers

    Red Bell Pepper Filled with Grated Red Bell Pepper

    A real treat for those who like the sweet, peppery taste of red bell peppers – these pepper parathas are fine on their own, but with curry, dal or raita makes a very satisfying farm-style meal.

    Pepper Parathas with Red Bell Peppers
    (for 10 to 12 parathas)

    3 cups chapati flour (whole wheat flour from India)
    2 fresh and firm red bell peppers
    1 tablespoon kasuri methi
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

    Bell Peppers: Wash thoroughly and in a plate or a big bowl, grate the bell peppers with a grater. Start from the bottom and when you reach the top most, discard it. Some seeds join the fun and keep them for extra ruchi.

    Paratha Dough: In a big bowl, take the chapati flour. Add kasuri methi, cumin and salt. Mix well. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the grated and juicy bell pepper. Combine into the flour with your fingertips, then gradually knead in enough water or yogurt to make soft dough. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for atleast 30 minutes.

    Pepper Paratha: Divide the dough into equal sized pieces and shape each piece into a round. On a lightly flour-sprinkled counter, roll out each round into a 5 to 6 inch circle. Keep the rounds that you are not working on covered, to prevent them from drying out. Heat a cast-iron pan. Place the paratha and cook, turning and moving gently with a spatula until golden each side. Brush ghee or peanut oil, if you like, during cooking.

    Remove the pepper parathas from the skillet and serve immediately with curry, dal, kurma or raita for a good meal.

    Pepper Parathas with Dal Makhani
    Pepper Parathas with Dal Makhani for a Dhaba style Meal Today

    Flower Love ~ Succulent Flowers

    Succulent Flowers

    February Blooms ~ Succulent Flowers from My Indoor Plant Kalanchoe

    My top three choices to give and receive

    Flowers
    Books
    Kitchen stuff

    What would you like to give or get as gifts?

    Party Favors ~ Candy Train

    Candy Train

    When you plan a party, giving your guests, particularly to the little ones party favors that will be appreciated is a nice way to say ‘thanks for coming.’ This budget friendly and fun to assemble candy train is always a hit with the kids. We need a packet of life savers, double mint, and few Hershey varieties. Attach them with a glue stick for body, wheels and whistle of the train. And, hear the delighted squeals.

    Brussels Sprouts Borugulu

    The beneficence of the vegetables in gastronomical matters is well known. In ingestion, the well-treated vegetable pleases the palate and in digestion, it gives no cause for problems. In this Bharath inspired recipe, you can see that brussels sprouts are well treated. They are on intimate terms with herbs and spices, and they combine smartly with other glories. Yet they seem to believe wholeheartedly in their own importance. Resulting in a tasty dish that would delight the brussels sprouts believers.

    Brussels Sprouts and Borugulu (Murmura)

    Brussels Sprouts Borugulu
    (serves two to four)

    250 grams of Borugulu (Murmura or puffed rice) from Indian grocery
    12 Brussels sprouts, cleaned and thinly sliced lengthwise
    1 red onion, skin peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
    1 carrot, grated, about a cup
    1 cup, sprouted moong (mung)
    2 tablespoons of minced, fresh green chilli
    1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
    1/4 teaspoon turmeric
    2 tablespoons each- Fresh cilantro and roasted, shelled peanuts
    For curryleaf tadka: a tablespoon of peanut oil, a pinch each -cumin&mustard seeds, a sprig of fresh curry leaves

    Borugulu: Take a big pot and fill half of it with water. Add borugulu and with your hands push into water to soak them well. After about 5 minutes, take handfuls of borugulu and firmly squeeze the water out. Place them in a colander. This is done to clean the puffed rice. What must stay behind in water are any sand, dust and chaff of the puffed rice. To see this process in photos, click here.

    Brussels Sprouts: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add and fry curry leaves, mustard seeds and cumin to fragrance. Add onions and sauté to brown. Then add the brussels sprouts, carrot and moong sprouts. Cook, until they are barely tender. Add green chilli, salt and turmeric. Sprinkle cilantro and peanuts. Stir and sauté turning the vegetables over and over again for about five minutes.

    Brussels Borugulu: Add the puffed rice to this hot brussels sprouts mixture. Squeeze some lime juice if you prefer. Combine well gently. Serve as soon as you prepare.

    I also added some pappula podi at the end, for some extra ruchi. Vegetables, sprouts and borugulu, it was a simple yet wholesome, tasty meal.

    Brussels Sprouts Borugulu
    Brussels Sprouts Borugulu ~ for Meal Today

    Brussels Sprouts Basmati

    Wakeup, Work, Watch. Wakeup to wintry silence.
    Wakeup. Work. Watch. Work an endless whirlwind.
    Wakeup. Work, Watch. Watch the world pass by.

    In a rhythmic routine that revolves around night, dawn, noon, dusk, and night…, bed, work, prayer, table, TV …, sleep, work, eat, meditate and watch… once in a while, for a change, having a bowl of basmati… It’s a refreshing experience!

    Brussels sprouts are in season right now and I wanted to cook something new. When I added them to biryani, these wintry, cute ‘cabbage mini me’s’ woke up wonderfully to the flavor warmth of Bharath basmati. Excellent recipe for that special occasion. Give it a try.

    Brussels Sprouts

    Brussels Sprouts Basmati
    (serves four or six)

    Recipe happens in four steps.

    Step 1: Basmati
    2 cups of good quality, aged basmati rice and 4 cups water
    1/4 teaspoon, turmeric or saffron soaked in a tablespoon of milk

    Take the basmati rice in a wide pan. Add water and turmeric or saffron infused milk. Mix, and cover the pan. Cook over medium heat until the rice is done to tender individuality.

    Step 2: Ruchi
    2 tablespoons, grated fresh coconut or cashews
    1 teaspoon, grated ginger
    1 plump garlic clove, skin peeled
    2 sprigs, fresh cilantro
    2 fresh green chillies
    Take the above in a grinder. Add two cloves, 1-inch piece of cinnamon, a tablespoon of coriander seeds, quarter teaspoon each, cumin and black peppercorn. Grind the ingredients to silky-smooth paste. Add few teaspoons of water if necessary for easy blending.

    Step 3: Brussels:
    1 tablespoon, ghee or peanut oil
    2 tablespoons, golden raisins
    2 tablespoons, cashew pieces
    1 red onion or 2 or 3 shallots, sliced thinly lengthwise
    12 brussels sprouts, sliced thinly lengthwise
    1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
    1/4 teaspoon turmeric

    In a skillet, heat ghee or oil. When it is hot, add the cashews and golden raisins. Sauté until golden. Add onions and cook until brown. Add the brussels sprouts and sauté to tender. Sprinkle salt and turmeric. And add the masala paste from step 2. Mix well and stir-fry, stirring often for about five minutes.

    Step 4: Brussels Basmati
    Spoon the brussels sprouts mixture on top of the cooked basmati rice in the pan. Cut and juice a lemon or a small sweet orange. Mix well and adjust salt to your taste. Serve hot with kurma or raita or with some boiled eggs for an excellent meal.

    Brussels Sprouts Basmati in Boiled Egg
    Brussels Sprouts Basmati in a Boiled Egg ~ for meal today

    Home as a Hobby ~ Needlepoint Serenade

    Needlepoint Serenade
    Magnolia Serenade ~ A Needlepoint Design

    A soothing sunset serenade. That is what I had imagined when I started this needlepoint design. It took me nearly two months to complete the 16″x18″ project, and now decorates our home in a homemade frame. The pretty lady serenades us to sleep with her gentle harp playing.

    Sajja Rotte-Upma (Bajra Roti-Upma)

    I made my grandmother’s recipe today. My grandma is about 80 years young, full of vitality, from Nandikotkur and now lives in Hyderabad with my uncle’s family. She used to (still does sometimes) prepare either sorghum or bajra roti for breakfast everyday when we were growing up. The leftover rotis are made into a roti-upma for evening snack. Roti-upma (or Rottupma) may sound unique, but it is pretty common in Nandyal and Nandikotkur areas of Andhra. The recipe is simple. Take rotis, preferably leftover and hardened. Break them into small pieces. Sauté with upma ingredients. Easy and tasty, I love my grandma’s roti-upma.

    Sajja Rotte (Bajra Rotis)

    Sajja Rotte-Upma (Bajra Roti-Upma)

    Bajra rotis – 3 or 4
    Onion – 1 big one
    Green chillies – 3 or 4
    Fresh cilantro – 4 or 5 sprigs
    Turmeric -1/4 teaspoon
    Salt – 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
    For tadka: a tablespoon of peanut oil and a pinch each – cumin and mustard seeds, and few curry leaves

    Tear rotis into small, bite-sized pieces. Finely chop onion, chillies and cilantro to small pieces.

    Heat oil in an iron skillet. To the hot oil, add curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds. Sauté, stirring constantly. When seeds start to pop, add onion and green chilli. Cook until onion pieces soften and turn brown. Add the roti pieces, turmeric and salt. Sprinkle cilantro. Stir-fry for five minutes, mixing in-between. Serve the tasty roti-upma hot.

    I also added a cup of sprouted moong beans at the end to increase the nutritional value and make the meal substantial. Millet and Moong sprouts, that’s good food.

    Sajja Rotte Upma
    Sajja Rotte Upma ~ For Meal Today


    Bajra rotis are available at Swami Narayan Mandir for interested Houstonians.

    Fruit Kosambari with Pears

    February Food Fun:
    Include Fruits and greens regularly
    Make a habit of Kosambari

    Sweet pears in season are tossed with fresh lettuce from our backyard garden in this delicious kosambari. For an Indian twist, I have added some dates, chickpeas and chat masala powder. Fruits, greens and some protein, this free-spirited kosambari has all the food fun I wanted in a February. A guilt free meal and God bless simple recipes like Kosambari.

    Pear and Lettuce

    Fruit Kosambari with Pears
    (serves two)

    1 small bunch of fresh lettuce
    2 pears
    1 cup, cooked chickpeas
    1/4 cup, dates
    1 tablespoon chat masala powder
    salt and black pepper to taste

    Rinse the lettuce well. Pat them dry with a clean towel. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Peel the skin and slice pears into big pieces. Quarter the dates.

    In a bowl, take the lettuce. Add pears, dates and chickpeas. Sprinkle chat masala powder, salt and black pepper powder. Toss to coat.

    Serve immediately with a cup of rasam or sambar on the side for a light meal.

    Fruit Kosambari with Pears
    Fruit Kosambari with Pears and Dates ~ For Meal Today

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