Pleasant and Fragrant, My Favorite Flowers ~ Malle Poolu
Coriander Seeds (dhaniyaalu)
Pequin Peppers (in the cup)
Okra (benda kaaya)
to mothers and daughters who make Mahanandi a home
Happy Mother’s Day
Spinach, swiss chard, methi plus cilantro and dill are growing so much, they are getting big and out of control in my garden. So, I plucked all the excesses and with that garden greens bounty, prepared sag paneer for lunch today. The following recipe is a tad different from the classic recipe blogged here in 2005. Instead of cashew powder, I’ve added carrot pulp to thicken the sag gravy and to add some sweetness to the greens. With carrot and paneer, garden greens never tasted this shiny-sweet before. It’s a good recipe if you have greens’ surplus.
(for 6 to 8 servings)
1/2 cup each – cilantro and dill leaves – coarsely chopped
8 Guntur green chillies
1 carrot – sliced to chunks
1 red onion and 1 ripe tomato – finely chopped
1 cup or to taste – paneer cubes
1 teaspoon – ginger-garlic paste
1 tablespoon – cumin-coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon – turmeric
Salt to taste
1. In a wide pan, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the greens and green chillies. Saute until the leaves collapse and chillies soften. Turn off the heat and let the greens cool. Once they reach room temperature, take the sauteed greens and chillies in a food processor. Add a pinch of salt and pulse to coarse puree. Remove the mix to a bowl. In the same food processor, add carrot pieces and make super fine puree, adding water when necessary.
2. Wipe the pan clean and add another tablespoon of peanut oil. When oil is hot, add a pinch each – cumin and mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the onion and tomato pieces. Saute until they soften , then stir in the garden greens and carrot puree. Add ginger-garlic paste, cumin-coriander powder, turmeric and salt. Mix well. Add the paneer cubes. Cover the pan and on medium heat, let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve the sag paneer warm with rice or roti. Tastes good on its own as well.
Garden Sag Paneer with Rotis ~ for Bhojanam
Garden Harvest from My Vegetable Garden
Cucumbers, Yellow Zucchini, Brinjals, Green Beans, Banana Peppers,
Tabasco and Guntur Mirchi, Peas and Okra ~ Perfumed by Gardenia Flower
మహానంది మిత్రులందరికి ఉగాది శుభాకాంక్షలు
Gudi Padwa Nutan Varshabhinandan
Fig in Spring
This will be my third year of vegetable gardening and I am very much looking forward to working and harvesting. Now, I feel more experienced with Houston seasons and I am also putting my experience to good use. I am working as a garden consultant to two first time home gardeners. I am advising them with design layout, plant selection etc, enjoying the role very much.:)
Last year, I employed succession planting to maximize the limited space I have and the growing period. During spring I started with cool season spring crop (peas, green beans, yellow and green zucchini, cucumbers, methi). Followed by a Houston-heat loving summer crop (turia-beerakaaya, papdi lilva-chikkudu, karela-kakara, okra-benda, gongura etc).
This strategy worked. I had a steady harvest throughout the growing season, from April till the end of November. During those months, my expenses on buying vegetables from stores was less than ten dollars a week, usually it would be around thirty dollars. During the past growing season I would only buy onions, carrots and fruits from the stores and all other vegetables that had cooked were from my garden. Not only my kitchen needs were met, I was also able to share the excess vegetable harvest with friends. Succession planting is a joy and I am planning to stick with this strategy this year as well. If weather permits and I could, I would also do a third fall crop.
Here are the list of plants I planted for this growing season:
Box 1: Okra, Peanuts, Fennel Bulbs, Kohlrabi, Tomatillo, Kerala Potatoes
Box 2: Tomatoes (Celebrity, Cherry Tomatoes), Cantaloupe (from last year seeds)
Box 3: Vines – Green Beans, Peas, Cucumber (Persian and Pickle), Lemon-cuke (budamkaya), Malabar Spinach (bacchali)
Box 4: Vines – Zucchini (yellow), Mexican Squash, Grapes, Papdi-liva&Valor (chikkudu), Chinese and Indian Karela, Turia (beerakaaya) (for summer)
Box 5: Aaku Kuralu – Methi, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Coriander, Purslane (payala), Amaranth (thotakura), Gongura (for summer)
Box 6: Herbs – Mint, Rosemary, Marjoram (maruvam), Lemongrass, Turmeric, Dodda Patre (Coleus Aromaticus, Karpooravalli)
Box 7: Peppers – Pequin, Guntur, Habanero, Cayenne. Bell Peppers and Banana Peppers
Box 8: Brinjal – Fairy tale, Japanese, Indian and Italian
Box 9: Tomatoes – Better boy, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple
Planning to try out something new – Tuvar and Parval
Here are the boxes in long shot:
Boxes 1, 2, 3 and 4
Boxes 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9
Fruit Trees ~ Cherry of Rio Grande, Orange, Loquat, Mandarin, Fig, Guava (looks dead right now due to last winter frost), Pomegranate
What are you planning to grow this season? Any new ideas? I would love to hear from you fellow garden enthusiasts.
“Holi” – the festival of colors is one of Houston’s favorite festivals. Every year, Indian Association, Gujarati Samaj and Masala Radio together organize a fun filled, Holi celebration in a Houston city park. Nearly 10,000 to 12,000 people come from all parts of Texas to this event. Colors, food, dance programs plus pleasant weather and spring holiday break make Holi celebrations a hugely popular, favorite family event. We go every year and always had fun. The celebrations for this year were today at Seabourne Creek Park in Rosenberg. Here are some photos of Holi hungama.
Sunil and Preyanka ~ DJ’s and Organizers of “Party in the Park ~ Houston Holi” Event
Auto Riksha from India ~ Transport Mascot of Houston Holi
Holi Balloon Decorations in front of a Food Stall
Entertaining Dance Programs by Houston Youth
Bhangra for Holi
Traditional Dress Fashion Show by a Local Designer
The Crowd, Watching the Holi Event
“buranaa maano, Holi Hai” ~ Fun with Colors
Fresh Sugar Cane Juice (Ganne ka Ras, Cheraku Rasam) ~ Our Favorite Holi Beverage
See You Next Year ~ The Holi Hiranyakashyap
The First full moon of Spring 2011. A renewal of the growing season.
Here are some photos from my garden.
Peaceful and Pleasant ~ Spring Time Holi Moon
Perfume in the Air ~ Jasmine Flowers (Chambeli)
Beautiful Buds ~ A first for my Orange (mandarin) Plant
A Rose Under the Moonlight
Houston has spring like weather since third week of February. That means the beginning of planting season. I had been in the garden, cleaning the garden beds, starting seedlings and planting vegetable plants. Kind of lost in spring sunshine, and who can resist the spring charm?
Spring means asparagus is in season. I bought a bunch of tender asparagus last weekend and prepared a Thai inspired Buddha’s bowl for today’s meal. A complete vegetarian one-pot meal with asparagus and buckwheat (soba) noodles in homemade sweet and sour peanut sauce. You can of course, buy ready-made sauce but the sauce is easy to prepare at home using the ingredients that are already in pantry and that’s what I did. Buckwheat noodles which are prepared from buckwheat flour have a unique texture and flavor that I enjoy. With fresh asparagus and in flavorful sauce, it was a nutritious, filling Buddha’s bowl. Imagine PF Chang’s restaurant but without all the hoopla and waiting to get a table.
- 12 ounces of buckwheat (soba) noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup, shallots or red onion, cut into matchstick length thin strips
2 cups, fresh asparagus, cut into matchstick length pieces
2 cups carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
2 cups unripe, green papaya, cut into thin matchsticks
1 cup, fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup, roasted pistachios or peanuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice
- For the sweet-sour peanut sauce:
1/4 cup, roasted, unsalted peanuts
2 teaspoons, chilli flakes
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon, palm or cane jaggery pieces
1/4 teaspoon, sea salt
Add the above in a mixer and blend to creamy, smooth sauce.
1. Cook the buckwheat noodles according to the instructions on the package, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.
2. Heat sesame oil in a wok or wide pan until hot. Add onions, asparagus, carrot and green papaya. Saute for 10 minutes, turning frequently, until the vegetables are tender and browned.
3. Add the sweet and sour peanut sauce to roasted vegetables. Sprinkle salt and quarter cup of water. Simmer on low heat for five minutes.
4. Toss in the buckwheat noodles and stir coat them in the sauce. Heat through for two minutes and then spoon into individual serving bowls. Sprinkle cilantro, pistachio and little bit lemon juice on top and serve immediately.
Asparagus with Buckwheat Noodles ~ Under Spring Sunshine
Variation: Use whole-wheat or rice noodles instead of buckwheat noodles, if you wish.
I baked a chocolate-date cake for two adorable little girls last week. Charming chocolate and demure dates, energizing and detoxifying at the same time, they just seem to belong together. It was a moist, dense cake and the girls liked its comforting taste.
(for 12 generous servings)
2 cups, all purpose flour (unbleached)
1 cup, semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup, fresh dates, pitted and chopped, soaked in a cup of warm milk for 30 minutes
1 cup, pecan pieces (or walnut pieces)
1 1/4 cups, cane sugar
2 eggs or 1 ripe banana, mashed, about a cup
1/2 cup, ghee or peanut oil
1/2 cup, fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon each – baking powder and baking soda
1 teaspoon – vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Generously apply ghee or oil to a cake or bread pan.
2. In a bowl, beat the eggs or ripe banana, sugar, vanilla extract, orange juice and ghee or oil into smooth mixture. Then add and fold in the flour, chocolate chips, dates plus the milk they soaked in, pecans, baking powder and baking soda. Pour the batter into cake pan.
3. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the cake is firm and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert on to a wire rack or plate to cool completely before serving.
Chocolate-Date Mini Cakes