Cook's Hideout: December 2008

December 23, 2008

Pad Thai for A.W.E.D-Thai

My DH travels to Thailand quite a bit on business. Being a foodie himself, he raves about all the food he has eats on the streets and in the restaurants of Bangkok. He absolutely loves pad thai, papaya salad, sticky mango rice and pineapple fried rice. I tried making papaya salad at home, but it wasn’t up to his expectations. Well.. I didn’t like it much either.
I wanted to try pad thai next, but I couldn’t find pad thai noodles in any of the groceries I go to. Then last weekend we went to 555 Asian Supermarket in Jersey City, NJ and I bought a pad-thai kit with sauce et al. but I ditched the sauce packet and made my own.

Recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance, which I’ve been eyeing to make for quite sometime now. It is a quick and easy recipe if you have all the ingredients on hand. To my relief, DH LOVED it and said we should serve it to one of his Thai colleagues for dinner. I think that says it all.
On to the recipe now.

Adapated from Vegan With a Vengeance.
Ingredients (Serves 2):
For the Sauce:
Tamari – 3 tbsp
Sugar – 3 tbsp
Tomato Paste – 1 tbsp
Asian Hot sauce (like Sriracha sauce) – 1 tbsp
Rice Wine Vinegar – 2 tbsp
Tamarind concentrate or Lime juice – 1 ½ tbsp

For the Pad Thai:
Pad Thai Noodles – 8 oz., cooked according to package directions
Tofu – 8 oz. drained and pressed cut into small cubes or triangles
Red onion – 1 small, cut in half and thinly sliced
Garlic – 1 clove, minced
Lemongrass – ½ tbsp, finely minced
Bean sprouts – 1 cup
Scallions – 4, sliced into 1 ½” lengths
Dry red chili – 1, crumbled
Roasted peanuts – ¼ cup, chopped
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, chopped
Lemon wedges for serving

  • Set the prepared noodles to the side.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the sauce; keep aside.
  • In a large sauté pan, or a wok, heat 1 tbsp peanut oil and quickly add tofu. Stir fry for 5-6 minutes until tofu is crisp on the outside. Remove and keep aside.
  • Pour 1 tbsp more peanut oil to the pan, add onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add garlic, lemon grass and stir-fry for 30 more seconds.
  • Now add the sauce and once the sauce starts to bubble, add the noodles and mix well.
  • Then add tofu, scallions, chili and peanuts. Stir for 30 seconds. Transfer to two serving plates and garnish with coriander and lemon wedges. (I didnt have lemon wedges for garnish ;-( but we never missed them while eating) Enjoy hot.
According to my DH, all the ingredients for pad Thai are served separately in Thailand and the final dish is usually a little dry. But this dish is full of flavor with just the right amount of gravy. Also if you notice there is no salt added to the dish, but you won’t even realize it. I used low sodium tamari and didn’t think the dish lacked flavor. I’ll be making this very often now.
This is going to lovely DK @ Culinary Bazaar for her A.W.E.D: Thai cuisine event. I’m thinking since the event is on, I’m going to try more Thai dishes, so even my DH will be happy. Two birds at one shot.. right!!!!!

December 20, 2008

Saturday lunch

Lunch on saturdays is a leisure affair in our home. I try to make a complete meal with dal, chawal, subzi and if I'm in the mood an extra rasam or chutney. Today I made pappu with fuzzy melon and roasted eggplant pachadi. DH made his signature egg curry.

I picked up fuzzy melon from Korean grocery not thinking of what to make with it. I read in one of the blogs "safest way to try green leafy veggies is making them into dal" and thats the route I took with this lauki look alike (except this has some striations on the skin). It tasted pretty much like lauki and was awesome in this dal.

Fuzzy Melon: Photo courtesy from

Fuzzy Melon - 1 medium, chopped
Tomato - 2 medium, chopped
Green chilies - 3, chopped
Curry leaves - 6
Moong dal - 1 cup
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)

For tadka:
Mustard seeds, cumin seeds - 1 tsp each
Red chilies - 2
Hing - pinch

  • Pressure cook moong dal and the melon separately till done.
  • In a medium sauce pan, heat 2tsp oil and add tadka ingredients. After the seeds splutter, add green chilies, curry leaves and cooked melon.
  • Saute for couple of minutes; then add turmeric and tomatoes. Cover and cook till tomatoes turn pulpy.
  • Add cooked dal, salt, red chili powder (if using) and 1/2 cup water. Simmer for 5 minutes and serve with rice or roti.
I love eggplant and I absolutely love roasted eggplant pachadi (Kalchina vankaya pachadi). This is a very simple dish with just roasted eggplant, green chilies and seasoned with tadka. The dish depends entirely on the eggplant, there is no masala or seasoning to manipulate the taste. The huge eggplants we get in U.S. lack flavor and I would never make this dish with them. I bought a medium size Italian eggplant and it tasted OK, nothing compares to the brinjals we get in India.

Italian eggplant - 1 medium(Indian medium round is highly prefered)
Green chilies - 2, finely chopped
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Hing - pinch
Curry leaves - 6
  • Roast eggplant on stove top till the skin's wrinkled all over. Or Bake in a 400F oven for 30-40 minutes.
  • Once done, cool till its safe enough to handle, peel off the skin and mash the pulp.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil and add mustard and cumin seeds; once the seeds start to splutter add red chilies, hing and curry leaves.
  • Add tadka and salt to the mashed eggplant. Mix well and enjoy with rice and dab of ghee.
Fuzzy Melon dal is my entry to lovely Suganya's Hot & Spicy version of My Legume Love Affair, an event started by Susan @ Well Seasoned Cook.

And I think both the recipes are simple enough to go to Ramki's Recipes of the Rest of Us event.

Usha of Veg Inspirations gave me Yum Blog award to my site. Thanks Usha for sending the award over.

December 12, 2008

Creamy Tomato Sauce for Pasta

I love creamy tomato sauces/ gravies, be it in Indian gravy curries or Italian pasta sauces. Just the thought of how thick, luscious and yummy these gravies could be, will make me extremely hungry and smack my lips. Well to add to my hunger I remembered my husband telling about the thick tomato soup he had for lunch the other day.
I couldn’t think of anything else but the basket of ripe tomatoes I had on the counter until I got home. But I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it thick and luscious like I was imagining, then I saw the tub of mascarpone cheese in the fridge and the little bulb went on (no actually I remember watching Giada adding it to a lot of her dishes). After half an hour I was devouring the perfect creamy sauce with ravioli and it was just as I dreamed.
I used three types of tomatoes in the sauce to get the consistency I was looking for. Canned chopped tomatoes can be used instead of fresh ones.


Ripe tomatoes – 2 large , chopped
Tomato paste – 2 tsp
Tomato puree – ¼ cup
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Red pepper flakes – 1tsp
Vegetable bouillon cube – 1
Milk – ¼ cup
Mascarpone cheese – 3 tbsp
Parmesan cheese – 2 tbsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Salt & Pepper – to taste

  • Heat 2tsp olive oil in a large pot on medium-low flame, add garlic and red chili flakes; sauté for 1 minute till garlic is golden and fragrant (be careful not to burn garlic).
  • Add onions and sauté till translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add all the tomatoes, fresh, paste and all, and bouillon cube; cover and cook till tomatoes turn mushy, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Now add milk and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Finally add mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Simmer for another minute. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes, enjoy on your favorite pasta.

We had ours with spinach ravioli and it was awesome.

December 08, 2008

I am back

I’m back from my short trip to India (I consider all my trips to India short even if I stay more than a month). It was an awesome trip with 2 weddings; meeting family, lots of food, loads of fun. I got to meet all my maternal cousins after 19 years. Coming back to mundane daily routine is not fun at all.
I’m still heavily jet lagged and home sick. My son got used to seeing many people and to the attention they were giving him, now he gets bored looking at just DH and me. He misses the ceiling fans that he very fondly used to call “thaaaaan”, now he expectantly looks at bare ceilings. He also misses wearing shorts and muscle tees and is giving quite an opposition to layers of clothes needed here.
I haven’t been cooking anything worth posting yet, just wanted to say Hello and will be back with a recipe soon.


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