Comfort Food Mashup: Rasam Mac-n-Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

December 28, 2014

Rasam Mac-n-Cheese

This is one of those recipes born from a mixture of comfort foods. Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorites, and it’s not really mac-n-cheese to me unless I make it like I had it as a kid – with Velveeta. A few weeks ago I had a leftover hunk of Velveeta in the refrigerator, and I decided why not try this new recipe I saw on America’s Test Kitchen – a macaroni with tomatoes – with Velveeta cheese.

I’ve had other macaronis with tomatoes, most notably a lightened version from Martha Stewart eons ago, which is where the idea came from to top this dish with roasted tomatoes. It was good, even though truth be told, I’m not a huge tomato fan. I assume the darkened color the red lended the cheesy dish on ATK is what hooked me into wanting to try this dish. At the last minute, as I was about to pour the macaroni into a baking dish, I looked up and saw a vial of rasam powder in my spice rack. That’s when inspiration hit. I added a couple of spoonfuls of masala to my dish and stuck it into the oven. (more…)

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Payasam Oatmeal

June 10, 2013

Payasam Oatmeal

For years I was more than a bit persnickety about my oatmeal. Cooked with water, flavored with a pat of butter and a large spoonful of brown sugar, I was a happy camper. If I really wanted to get fancy, I might have the Quaker Oats Apple Cinnamon insta-packet. This may have been born out of the fact that at the time I wasn’t a big fan of dried fruit, having lost my taste for raisins. Or it may have been that my idea of flavored oatmeal was the aforementioned insta-packets. Either way, when I first heard of people cooking their oatmeal with milk, I thought that odd and unnecessary. However, as I started to discover my breakfast needed a protein component with the carbs if I wanted to stay full for more than 30 minutes, I decided to start playing with my ingredients. Thus, payasam oatmeal was born!

Payasam is a traditional Indian dessert that just happens to be one of my favorites. Payasam is the South Indian name, so you may have heard of it as kheer, its North Indian name. It’s a rather simple dessert of rice boiled with milk, jaggery (a type of sugar), ghee, golden raisins, almonds, and a dash of cardamom. (more…)

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Using up leftovers: Vegetable Pakora

December 27, 2012

Vegetable Pakora

It always happens after the big holidays – you have a few leftovers in the refrigerator. At first you work your way through the the prepared foods, simply reheating or making sandwiches from hams and turkeys, but there’s always those extra bits of raw ingredients left over, such as excess vegetables that may not have made their way into the rich dishes you created for Christmas dinner.

Fear not! Instead of simply steaming or boiling these veggies, why don’t you add some spice to your life, making this modern take on vegetable pakora? (more…)

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From the Bread Maker: Curry Bread

January 29, 2011

Curry Bread

For Christmas I received a bread maker from the husband. After many failed attempts to make bread on my own, I guess he decided I needed a little help! It’s been wonderful, and I’ve been making wheat bread almost every week, thus there’s been an increase in the amount of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I’ve been eating (oh how I love PB&J!).

This weekend, however, I decided to branch out and try something new. A good friend gave me a cookbook for Christmas, Modern Spice, which I’ve been dying to try some recipes out of. Of course, when I saw the curry bread, I was really excited to try making it in my new bread maker; I’d get to use two new toys at once!! (more…)

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Could you please pass the gravy?

November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Spread

What would Thanksgiving be without gravy? When creating my South Indian Thanksgiving menu, the gravy was the thing that posed the biggest issue in my mind. I needed something that would stand up to the big flavors of the tandoori turkey and spicy mashed potatoes without overwhelming the taste buds. I thought about it for quite a while before I decided upon a Tamarind Gravy.

Tamarind is a fruit pulp that is often used in Indian and Caribbean cooking, as well as many other Asian and African cuisines. It can range from sour to sweet, depending on how ripe the fruit is. It can be bought in a block or a paste (which is easier to deal with) at many ethnic grocery stores.

Out of all the dishes I made for my South Indian Thanksgiving, this was the one I thought might end up in the garbage can. But the resulting flavor was delicious, and my husband and I were reaching for second and third pieces of naan to sop up the gravy on our plate. The great thing about this recipe is it is based on a roux of butter and flour, so you can make it vegetarian by adding vegetable stock instead of a poultry stock if you have vegetarian guests. (more…)

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