sweet corn

Cuscuz paulista is a very popular dish from the region in Brazil that I call home. The main ingredient for the recipe is farinha de milho, or “corn flour.” Farinha de milho is made of white or yellow corn that is finely ground, mixed with water and baked in the oven. This has nothing to do with American corn meal. The process precooks the ground corn, gives it a light toasty flavor, makes it ready to eat, and augments shelf storage. It is very versatile and can be used in sweet and savory dishes. You can find it in Brazilian and sometimes generic South American or Latino grocery stores. Early colonizers spread the taste for this corn product throughout the Brazilian Southeast, mainly in the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais.

cuscuz paulista AKA savory Brazilian bundt cake

cuscuz paulista AKA savory Brazilian bundt cake

In São Paulo the most popular dish made with farinha de milho is cuscuz paulista. There are several versions. It can be entirely vegetarian or you can add shrimp, canned tuna, sardines, or if want to be fancy, crabmeat or even lobster. It is fairly low-fat, healthy and delicious!

I have been wanting to make this cuscuz for a while, but every time I suggested it, Steven would roll his eyes in disbelief, wondering if it would taste good. I think that he was afraid that it would be loaded with mayonnaise, like certain kinds of American deli salads. Poor thing: he detests mayo. He’s also suspicious of anything made of corn. Silly. When I finally prepared this for a dinner party, everybody loved it. I shaped it with a bundt pan. One of our friends, Juanita, called this dish a “savory Brazilian bundt cake.” So there you go.

Here’s another version.

cuscuz paulista AKA savory Brazilian bundt cake

3 cups farinha de milho
2 cups vegetable broth
6 tbsp olive oil plus more for finishing
1 cup tomato sauce (make your own* or pre-made would work)
1 white onion, chopped fine
1 cup fresh or fresh frozen peas
1 cup fresh or frozen sweet corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, cubed
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
4 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
½ bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 can Brazilian palm hearts, drained, all but four cut in rounds
¼lb fresh shrimp chopped (optional)
1 cube vegetable bullion (optional)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
crushed red pepper

*For tomato sauce:

1 can crushed tomato plus juice (28oz/800grams)
2 cups water
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 red Jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
2 fillets of anchovies packed in oil (optional for vegetarian version)
crushed red pepper
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of fennel seeds

For decoration:

4 cherry tomatoes halved
2 parsley sprigs
4 sticks palm hearts (reserved from above) cut two in quarters along the long axis to make sticks and two into about four rounds each

Yoki Farinha de Milho aka Brazilian Yellow Corn Flakes

Yoki Farinha de Milho aka Brazilian Yellow Corn Flakes

To make tomato sauce:

Using a stockpot, sauté onion in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic, Jalapeño and anchovy fillets. Continue sautéing until aromatic. Add rest of ingredients and bring it to a boil. Reduce temperature to low and simmer for about 30-45 minutes stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Add more water if needed. The tomato sauce should be thick when finished. Reserve left over sauce for another use.

To prepare cuscuz:

Sweat onion in 3 tablespoons olive oil on high heat. Next add garlic, salt, red and black pepper followed by peas and corn. Push partially cooked veggies to side and continue by adding bell pepper, shrimp (if using), the remainder of the olive oil, scallion, parsley, palm heart and bullion until everything is cooked but not overcooked. Next add tomato sauce and hot vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and immediately turn temperature to low. Lastly mix farinha de milho and nutritional yeast together and pour them into the pan, folding delicately to incorporate without breaking the veggies. It will have a mushy consistency. Continue cooking another minute until mix begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.

To mold the cuscuz, oil a bundt dish (or any medium sized bowl with an interesting shape though the bundt is traditional) with olive oil. Lay parsley springs, tomato halves and palm heart rounds at the bottom of the pan. Stack pieces of palm heart sticks on the sides. Carefully transfer cuscuz to bundt pan to avoid moving decorative vegetables. Gently press with a spatula. Drizzle with some olive oil. Let it rest for about 5 minutes. Place a serving platter over pan, and, holding it tightly, flip the finished cuscuz onto dish. Tap at the bottom to dislodge. And voilá!

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Steven is in doubt whether this dish really is a corn cake rather than a corn soufflé or a corn flan. To me, if you’re even debating this absurd point, then the cake is already a huge success.

Brazilian creamy sweet yellow corn cake

Brazilian creamy sweet yellow corn cake

Once again, I tried to reproduce another of my mother’s recipes. As I remember, her cake was dense at the bottom with about a half-inch thick layer of a creamy, corny, browned custard topping that was just like heaven. One day she baked this cake then left it unattended. Guess what I did? I grabbed a spoon and used it to scrape off the creamy top, which I devoured immediately. Thoughtfully, I left the rest of the hollowed-out cake there for the next guest. Mom was not a happy camper when she found out. But I was young, no more than six, so I was able to get away with it.

sweet yellow corn

sweet yellow corn

My mother, Donica, baked this cake and lots of other delicacies in the wood-burning oven just outside her kitchen in the backyard. I think the baking method contributed to the particular magnificence of the custard topping. This involved baking it in a cast iron pan with a tray on top filled with embers. I suspect that the type of sweet corn she used also played a role here. Regardless, my adaptation turned out gooey and creamy with a dark crust on top despite using an electric oven without the embers. We ate the entire cake in two sittings! That’s fast for us. I guess I can use that Alton Brown saying here: this is serious good eats!

Brazilian creamy sweet yellow corn cake

6 cobs of fresh sweet yellow corn
2 eggs
3 tbsp butter at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
½ cup soy milk
3 tbsp flour
¾ tbsp baking powder

Use some butter and flour to grease and dust a glass baking pan. Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Using a paring knife cut corn off the cobs, making sure kernels are cut close to the cob. Process kernels in food processor until soupy. I did this in two batches. Transfer to a large bowl. Add sugar, eggs, flour, and soy milk to food processor and spin it until ingredients are combined. Fold into corn then whisk in baking powder until incorporated. Transfer batter to baking dish and bake for about 1h and 10 minutes. Serve with a big cup of freshly brewed black coffee.

gooey slice of Brazilian creamy sweet yellow corn cake

gooey slice of Brazilian creamy sweet yellow corn cake


This recipe was adapted from VegNews, a vegan magazine I got for free at the 26th Toronto vegetarian food fair Steven and I attended recently on a trip to Canada. It attracted my attention because it uses healthy ingredients that I happen to love: bulgur, black-eyed-peas and kale. It also requires a homemade spice mix which I enjoy preparing. Toasting, mixing, and grinding spices fill the house with magical aromas.

Mediterranean bulgur black-eyed-pea pilaf

Mediterranean bulgur black-eyed-pea pilaf

The original recipe calls for a coarser bulgur than I had. Since I didn’t want to go shopping for that special bulgur last minute, I made do with what was there. The dish tasted great though it didn’t turn out as fluffy as I expected. I’m sure that’s due to the bulgur. When you try this recipe use the coarser type. The VegNews recipe doesn’t call for toasting the spices, but I did as I think that toasting brings out the flavors. The spice blend is called baharat and many countries in the Mediterranean have their own version. This one is sort of Lebanese inspired.

Mediterranean bulgur black-eyed-pea pilaf

1 cup bulgur (preferably the coarser type)
1 cup warm water or vegetable broth
1 large white onion, cut into tiny cubes
1 bunch kale or collard greens, rinsed and chopped fine
½ bunch whole scallions, chopped into thin rounds
4 tbsp olive oil
3 sweet Nantes carrots, cubed
2 cups cooked black-eyed-peas
4 tsp baharat spice mix (see below)
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
A few squirts of lemon or lime juice
2 ears sweet corn, cooked and broken into small pieces
several Kalamata olives

baharat spice mix

1tbsp black pepper
1½ tbsp coriander seeds
1½ tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek
5 cardamom pods
1 tbsp ground ginger

Soak bulgur in liquid for about a half hour.

Add all spices for baharat mix, except ginger, to a skillet and toast for a minute to bring out their aromas. Pour spices into a grinder and pulse until powdered. Add ground ginger and pulse again. Set aside.

Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a large pan. Add onion and cook until browned a bit. Add kale, carrot, scallion and sauté until kale has wilted. Add black-eyed peas, baharat mix and bulgur. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a few minutes to warm through. Adjust flavors by adding more baharat, salt and perhaps a bit more black pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with sweet corn and olives. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Squeeze lemon over everything.

I served this with quibebe clássico or savory winter squash with garlic and olive oil.


quinoa love

by Heguiberto on July 25, 2009

it's always a party with quinoa love!

it's always a party with quinoa love!

This is the best time of the year for locally grown produce: Summer! Last Sunday we went to the farmers market at the UN plaza and found beautiful vegetables on sale for cheap! In fact vegetables are always cheap at this market. Many times they are organically grown or at least grown free of pesticides which is a good thing. This week the organically grown collard greens were on sale: 3 large bunches for only 2 bucks. The dry farmed cherry tomatoes were just a dollar a pound. You really can’t beat that anywhere else in San Francisco. Dry framed tomatoes may not be the cutest but I think that they’re especially flavorful due to the stress the plant goes through receiving only rain water. Don’t be afraid of vegetables that don’t appear classically shaped or colored. In the case of tomatoes, for example, the oddly shaped and colored ones tend to be more packed with flavor that the more conventional round, plump red ones. I almost wonder why they still even produce the flavorless tennis-ball varieties anymore.

fresh collard greens from the farmers market

fresh collard greens from the farmers market

The same day that we went to the farmer’s market we were also invited to our friend, John’s house for dinner, sort of last minute. I was already preparing Quinoa Love, so we offered to bring it over. Amazingly, John was thinking of making the same dish himself that very night! It was kismet, no?

How could we decline having a meal with friends? The food always tastes even better and more company makes the conversation more lively. Plus Clarence, our bulldog, was invited. He really enjoys visiting John’s. So it was a win-win situation all around.

This recipe is simple though it requires several steps to make. It is a complete meal packing everything you need including lots of protein coming from the tofu and quinoa. The meal is ultra healthy and light and tasty. This is not one of those old-fashioned hippie vegetarian recipes with no flavor that makes you run to the loo the whole next day, so don’t worry! It has tons of flavor, interesting textures and is a real crowd pleaser every time. I’ve served this to people who’ve never had quinoa and to regular meat eaters and never had any complaints. Actually they ask for more most of the time.

A note on quinoa, I thought that quinoa was a cereal much like rice or corn, but I was wrong about that. It’s what they call a “pseudo-cereal.” Apparently it’s related to beets and spinach. Even so, you can cook quinoa much the same way you would when making rice. In the taste department I would say it is nutty and smells a bit like oatmeal. Quinoa is another exquisite and nutritious contribution from the Americas to world cuisine.

Quinoa Love

TJ's quinoa

TJ's quinoa

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup of dry quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch of collard greens, rinsed, stems* removed with leaves cut in thin strips 2-3 inches long
1 ½ lbs. cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp sugar
5 ears of fresh sweet corn
½ bunch of Italian parsley chopped
1 block of tofu cut into 5 squares
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
½ cup pesto American Style
½ jar of sundried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into strips
4 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
¾ cup pumpkin seeds

*Collard green stems tastes like broccoli, don’t discard them just steam them and add to salads, soup, rice, etc

How to:

Cut tomatoes in halves. Toss with sugar, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place tomato halves on a cooking pan cut side up and bake it in the oven for about 50 minutes at approximately 380F.

Add quinoa to a pan with 2 cups of water and salt, heat to boiling then turn temperature to low. Simmer covered for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Let rest for 5 min.

chopping collard greens

chopping collard greens

Lay tofu squares on a dish, sprinkle salt, black pepper, cayenne and nutritional yeast over it on both sides. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a pan and sauté tofu squares about 5 min per side. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over them. Remove from pan and set aside. Using the same pan, add two tbsp of olive oil and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Sauté till fragrant. Add collard greens. Toss to coat with olive oil. Sauté for about 5 minutes until collard greens have wilted to about half of the original volume and the color is bright green. Remove from pan and set aside. Using the same pan, heat 4 tbsp olive oil and the remaining garlic. Sauté till fragrant then add corn, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook corn for about 5 minutes while occasionally stirring. Add parsley to corn about half way through cooking. Remove from pan and set aside.

To assemble the dish mix the quinoa, corn, collard greens, pumpkin seeds, sundried tomatoes together in a large bowl. Stir in pesto. Place mix in a large serving dish. Cut tofu squares diagonally into triangles and lay them on top of the quinoa mix. Top with baked tomatoes, along with their juices. This dish makes about ten to twelve servings. It tastes great the next day too.

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grilled sweet corn

grilled sweet corn

Corn is one of my favorite cereals. From grits to polenta to simply boiled sweet corn I can’t think of any dish made with this grain that I don’t enjoy. Many countries have their own versions of a national dish made with corn, but it is here in the Americas that I think people are the most creative. Think of tamales and tortillas from Mexico, angú and pamonha from Brazil, and bourbon from the United States. It is made into all sorts of cakes, breakfast cereals, and of course it comes popped at movie theatres. I’m not even talking about non edible products made with corn: plastics, explosives, and batteries!

I thank those Pre-Colombian Mexicans who developed and nurtured this grass!

Can we call corn natural anymore? Has it ever been? I understand that it’s continually being hybridized in labs even today and that it needs human intervention to reproduce. On its own, it would cease to exist. When the seed is ready someone has to break the ears off the plant, peel the husk back and remove the seed from the cob. Only then can it be sown in the ground to germinate into a new plant. Incredible, isn’t it? We’re eating a handicapped plant!

Today’s dish is inspired by to other corn recipes that I had before. The first was roasted corn on cob with Indian spices that we had last summer at our friends Suma and Tom’s country house in Sonoma. How lucky to be invited for the weekend by friends who have a country house! Tom grilled the corn to perfection then liberally flavored it with olive oil, salt, lime juice and a magical spice mix made by Suma’s mom. I could tell that the mix had a lot of hot chilies. It was fabulous! Give me salty, sour and hot flavors any time and I will be the happiest! My other corn inspiration comes from another friend, David. He invited us for BBQ and prepared roasted corn with sundried tomatoes. It was delicious. I am going to ask them for their original recipes to publish them here sometime.

So here is my inspired corn dish:

finished roasted sweet corn salad with sundried tomatoes

finished roasted sweet corn salad with sundried tomatoes

Roasted Sweet Corn Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

5 ears of sweet corn, husks removed
10 sundried tomato halves, oil packed, cut into strips
Juice from 3 limes
¼ tsp of cayenne pepper (for heat)
¼ tsp ancho pepper (for smokiness)
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tbsp olive oil plus more for greasing corn cobs
Salt and black pepper to taste

How to:

Pre-heat the grill to high (400-500F). Grease sweet corn with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, grill for about 10-15 min turning a few times to roast evenly. Remove from grill. Let cool a bit, but not completely. Using a paring knife cut kernels off the cob. Discard cobs. Toss the rest of the above ingredients with the corn while still warm, adjust flavors and serve. This dish goes well with barbequed foods.

Please note that cayenne pepper can be very powerful depending on how old it is. As it gets older the flavor will mellow out a bit. New, it can be very spicy, so be careful. The dish is best with a little spicy kick. Enjoy it!

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My significant other went out today with work mates for dinner at Epic Roasthouse. Epic is part of a ‘chain’  of restaurants owned by or partially owned by Pat Kuleto here is San Francisco. Pat Kuleto finances this type of enterprise throughout the Bay Area.  Some of them are especially fancy e.g., Jardinière. I have been there and enjoyed the food a lot, though it has been a while. I do remember the handpicked selection of cheeses they offered. It was at Jardinière that I first tried a triple cream oozy French cheese named Brillat Savarin; so delicious, so decadent!  I assume the cheese must be named after Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin, a 19th century French dude who was a lawyer obsessed with food and wrote a famous book on the subject,  the Philosophy of Taste. Among some of the things he said was “a dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” Maybe sexist though I think he would’ve loved watching Futurama!   On another occasion he writes, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”  So preposterous, so discriminatory…. however advanced for his time given the importance that he gave to food and the consequences of living on this or that type of diet. Well there is a lot to say about his interesting work but today I just wanted to talk about Sancocho.
almost vegetarian Sancocho

almost vegetarian Sancocho

Sancocho is a traditional Colombian dish made with lots of vegetables cooked in a beef broth with cola (oxtail). My Sancocho leaves the entire land animal thingy out.  My inspiration came from the aging vegetables in our fridge.  What could I do with them before it was too late?  Here is what I found:

1 ear of corn
8 small taro roots
1 yam (orange)
2 stalks of celery
1 zucchini
a handful of green beans
3 cloves of garlic
3 shallots
1/2 small cabbage
less than 1/2 a bunch of parsley
2 filets of anchovies
2 Serrano chilies pepper preserved in escabeche (from our Mexican dinner last night)

And from the pantry:
3 tbs. olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
2.5 qts. water

The soup was made this way:

Chop all vegetables roughly.
Sauté shallots in olive oil till translucent. Add garlic and celery and sauté for a couple more minutes. Add anchovies, taro root, yam, and 1 and 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. Sauté it for another 4-5 minutes. Add 2 and 1/2 quarts of water and ear of corn broken into 3 pieces. Boil everything till taro roots are ‘al dente‘ (about 10 minutes). Blend Serrano chilies with a bit of the hot broth and return the juices to the pan. Add cabbage, zucchini, beans and parsley.  Cook for another 5 minutes. Adjust salt, add some fresh black pepper and serve in bowls with a drizzle of a good olive oil.

hyper-realized affinity

hyper-realized affinity

I had this with a bottle of 2005 Affinity from River Star Vineyards located in Paso Robles, California.  I don’t even know if the wine matched but it was very tasty drinking it during and after cooking the dinner.  The wine has a classic Paso Robles terroir.  It’s a mix of cabernet (40%), merlot (40%), and zinfandel (20%). I suspect that it was probably aged in American and/or Hungarian oak.  It’s a deep red color with a barnyard-like nose, with flavors of blackberry and tobacco. We got this one by accident at a very low price. But it usually sells for between about $17 to 22 dollars per bottle at the vineyard. I’ve never seen it in stores.

more about Paso Robles

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a homemade Indian banquet

by Heguiberto on April 28, 2009

Have you ever wondered about cooking Indian food at home? Well it’s not as hard as you think, though it does take a little planning. At this Indian dinner, I served six traditional dishes from southern India. That probably sounds like a lot and it did take a few hours to prepare everything. Fortunately, many Indian dishes improve with sitting, so they can be made early. Also, these are relatively inexpensive dishes because they’re all vegetarian.

some Indian spices

some Indian spices

I’ve cooked Indian before so already had most of the spices that were needed. These can be found at many conventional supermarkets and specialty food stores. I like to go to an Indian market in the San Francisco Mission area at 548 Valencia Street called Bombay Bazar for hard-to-find Indian ingredients. That’s where I got the paneer (Indian cheese) and the pre-made mango chutney that I served as a side dish. For the rest of the fresh ingredients, I went to one of the many local Mexican markets in the same neighborhood.

Heguiberto frying stuffed peppers

Heguiberto frying stuffed peppers

I found the recipes I used on a variety of web sites and modified them to suit my taste. For a party of seven we had: an Ayurvedic recipe of mixed bean sprouts and corn salad, an Andhra garlicy tomato curry, an eggplant curry, mirchi bajji or stuffed anaheim peppers deep fried, a cabbage vepudu (a type of spicy cooked cabbage salad) and paneer byriani (a rice dish with marinated paneer, green beans and rice). I offered mango and date chutneys as condiments. Because many of the dishes are fairly spicy, they were served with champagne, rose and a Spanish red brought by two of the guests that could stand the heat. For dessert we had a chocolate cake brought by another guest with tea and a sweet liquor.

paneer byriani

paneer byriani

The meal was tremendous; and the company, wonderful. My highest compliment came from the one guest of Indian descent. She had grown up back East with many of these dishes served to her by her mother. She thought that the food was “amazing.”

I highly recommend that you venture out of your comfort zone into Indian cooking. It’s not that hard, really fun and the results are worth it.

homemade Indian banquet

homemade Indian banquet

Garlicky Tomato Curry Recipe

10 fresh ripe skinned Roma tomatoes chopped fine
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
5 fresh curry leaves
10-12 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder or more for spicier finish
1 tsp coriander powder
salt to taste
1 tbsp grated jaggery (palm sugar) or substitute with dark brown sugar
½ bunch of chopped cilantro
2 tbsp canola oil

1- Heat oil in a large pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. About 2 minutes. Add
crushed garlic and curry leaves, sauté for further 10 seconds.
2 Add onions, sauté until translucent. Add chili, turmeric and coriander powders as well as salt. Stir to combine.
3- Add chopped tomatoes, plus sugar and cook uncovered on high heat stirring constantly for about 10-15 min. I used a non-stick pan for the job.
5- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves

Mirchi Bajji (stuffed deep fried green peppers)

9 Anaheim peppers, cut lengthwise seeds and ribs removed.
Canola oil for frying


1 tbsp oil
1 chopped onion
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp chaat masala (spice blend of dried mango, cumin, salt, coriander, black pepper, asafetida and hot paprika/chili)
3 medium potatoes cooked in salted water and roughly mashed
¼ to ½ tsp chili powder
½ cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp tamarind pulp

Heat oil and sauté onion for 4-5 minutes, add ginger and spices, stir. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 3 minutes more stirring constantly. Set aside


1 cup chick pea flour (gram flour)
¼ cup rice flour
Pinch baking soda
½ tsp cumin
Black pepper
1 cup water

Wisk all ingredients together, it should have a pancake consistency

Stuff peppers with the potato mixture. Dip one by one into the batter coating them well on all sides and drop
them gently into hot oil (3 at the time). Fry each batch for about 5-6 minutes.

Mixed Sprouts Corn Salad Recipe

1 cup mixed legume sprouts of your choice (chick peas, beans, pigeon peas)
1 cup of steamed sweet corn (from 2 ears)
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp walnut oil
1/2 tsp of freshly pan roasted cumin powder
pinch of black pepper powder
Juice of 2-3 limes
Pinch of chili pepper powder
½ bunch of chopped cilantro
1 container of sprouts (pea or daikon)

1- Steam legume sprouts for 8-9 minutes or longer if you like it softer, let it cool to room temperature, add corn and daikon/pea sprouts

2-Prepare cumin seeds as follows: Add cumin seeds to a hot pan and roast it till fragrant (few seconds) Careful not to burn them. Transfer to a mortar or food grinder. Grind into a fine powder. It makes a big difference in flavor

3- Prepare dressing by mixing together ginger, salt, chili, cumin, black pepper, lemon juice and walnut oil

4- Pour dressing over sprouts mix, adjust seasoning and serve with cilantro

Cabbage Vepudu Recipe


3 cups chopped cabbage
1 onion, very finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chili powder (adjust)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
big pinch cumin powder
chopped cilantro
2-3 tsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 minced cloves garlic
4 fresh curry leaves (optional)

How to:
1-Boil a quart of water with a pinch of turmeric, add cabbage and cook for a couple of minutes just to wilt it. Drain and reserve.
2- Heat oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and toast them (about 1 minute). Add chopped onion and sauté it until translucent. Add garlic and curry leaves keep sautéing for few more seconds.
3-Stir in chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder, add cabbage, mix well cooking for further 2 minutes. Garnish with cilantro

Paneer Biryani

1 and 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed till water runs clear

3 and ¾ cups of water
1 cup paneer (Indian cheese) in cubes

1/4 cup fresh/frozen pea
1/4 cup green beans
1 tsp chili powder
a pinch turmeric powder
3-4 strands coriander leaves
5 tbsp Canola oil
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cardamom pods

1 bay leaf
3 green chilies (Serrano or Jalapeño), seeded and ribbed
½ inch of fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic
few strands saffron


Spice (grind into powder):
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 cloves
½ inch of a cinnamon stick
1 tsp poppy seeds
5-6 peppercorns


1-Using a bowl mix 3 tbsp of yogurt, turmeric, 1tsp of spice powder and salt. Add paneer cubes and marinate for about 2 hours

2-Heat 3tbs canola oil, add cardamom pods, bay leaf, rice and salt, sauté rice mixture for 3 minutes. Add 2 and 1/2 cups of water let it boil, reduce heat to minimum, cover the pan and let it cook till water has evaporated about 10-15 min, remove from heat. Let it rest, covered, for 5 min.
3- Heat 1 tbs of canola oil, transfer paneer to pan and brown them a bit (about 5 minutes), put aside in a bowl.

4- Using a food processor or a mortar grind into a paste the green chilies, garlic and ginger.

5-In the same pan used for browning the paneer, add 1 tbsp of canola oil, the paste, the vegetables and sauté till the raw smell is gone (5-10 min). Add yogurt and any leftover juices from marinate plus some salt and stir. Sprinkle about ½ tsp of spice powder and cilantro over it.

6- Assemble the Biryani on a baking dish (Pyrex) layering half of the rice at the bottom, followed by the paneer and veggies. Cover with remaining rice and sprinkle saffron threads over it. Poor 1 cup of water over rice, wrap the dish with aluminum foil and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes at 300F

Eggplant pulusu (eggplant and tamarind pulp)

1 very large eggplant
1 onion, finely chopped
¼ cup of thick tamarind pulp
2 green chilies, finely chopped (leave the seeds and ribs out if you don’t want it very spicy)
1 and ½ tbsp of brown sugar or grated palm sugar (jaggery)
Chopped cilantro to taste
1 1/2 cups water
salt to taste

2 red chilies (Italian pepperoncini) broken into pieces seeds removed
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida– (called hing or ingua in India)
5 fresh curry leaves
4 tbsp canola oil

1- Grease the eggplant with part of the oil and roast/bake it in the over till it collapses. Rotate it few times just to ensure even baking. Remove and let it cool down. Peel skin off and mash eggplant into a pulp.
2-Add to eggplant pulp the chopped onions, green chilies, tamarind extract, sugar or palm sugar and salt. Combine well to form a thick paste.
3-Heat remaining oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add cumin seeds, red chili (pepperoncini), and asafetida and curry leaves followed by the eggplant pulp, stir it for 3-5 minutes and serve garnished with cilantro leaves
Recipes adapted from blog:

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