Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Namaste! ... Let's take a trip to India.

Over the weekend I asked the fans on my Facebook page what their favorite foods were, and I saw quite a few responses stating, "I love all different kinds of food" ... which, of course, was expected ... but to my surprise, quite a few people included Indian food in their list!

Maybe it's just me and I'm going crazy or something, but I definitely DID NOT AT ALL realize that so many people like Indian food!!! ... Prior to moving to where I am now, we used to live in South Dakota and for my high school graduation open house, my mom was amazing enough to make some Indian food for everyone who visited. This included butter chicken, chole, rice, gulab jamun, etc. and for some people who were there, it was their first time trying these dishes ... and for some, it was their first time trying Indian food all together! I was actually not at all surprised by that, but I was happy to see that they had enjoyed it! ... I guess that same thought process radiated with me and I still find myself thinking, "SO many people have probably never even tried Indian food!" -- Guess that is my mistake, because more and more people I talk to, especially as of recently, seem to tell me that Indian food is actually one of their favorites! AND they even go as far as to list specific dishes as being ones they love to have!

Well, I am Indian and a lot of the time the kind of food we have at home is Indian but it's like "everyday food" meaning it's not AT ALL jazzed up as served in restaurants. Don't get me wrong, when we go out to eat, I definitely splurge and some of my favorite dishes include malai kofta, tandoori chicken wings, paneer tikka, etc ... but I'll save those for when I do a restaurant post! ;) --- Anyways, I try a particular dish pretty much at every restaurant, but by far, THE BEST version of this is the one made by my mother! Butter chicken.

Lets start of with a picture as "proof":

And the recipe to follow:

Butter chicken

What you will need:

3 boneless chicken breasts cut into squares pieces
1 tsp red chilli powder
3 tbsp oil
Turmeric powder
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tbsp yogurt
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp tandoori chicken masala
1/4 tsp chicken curry masala
4 oz tomato puree
10-15 cashews
4 tbsp fresh cream
Salt to taste


Before beginning: crush cashews in a food processor and add yogurt and fresh cream to make a paste. Set aside.

Heat oil in a deep non stick pan. When hot, add onions and sautee till they start browning. Add ginger paste, garlic paste, tomato puree, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, tandoori chicken masala, chicken curry masala and stir. Add chicken pieces and cook covered, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes. When chicken is ALMOST cooked, add cashew paste which you had previously made and set aside. Stir and cook until chicken is tender. Serve with chopped cilantro on top as a garnish.

Note: If you stir in the cashew paste after the chicken is fully cooked, you will most likely end up with over-cooked chicken because it does take a couple of minutes for the paste to properly mix in. And if you turn the heat off too quickly, it will taste too cashew-y because it hasn't had that proper amount of time to mix in. Just be careful with that portion of the directions! :)

Compared to A LOT of the recipes that I've read in the past, this is a fairly uncomplicated recipe. Because it is made so often at our house, we now know that it tastes just as good without all the marinade and such, so we just skip over that! :) It is absolutely TO.DIE.FOR!!!

Anddd look! I'm going to be an over-achiever and throw in ANOTHER recipe! ... This time, Pistachio chicken. Picture:

And the recipe:

Pistachio Chicken

What you will need:

3 boneless chicken breasts cut into square pieces
1 slice cinnamon (about 1 inch)
1 cup onion
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 cardamom
1 cup yogurt
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 cup pistachios
4 tbsp fresh cream
4 cloves
Salt to taste


Peel pistachios and put in warm water to soak.  Remove from water, and set some aside to use as a garnish. Place the rest of the pistachios in a food processor, make a paste with them by adding fresh cream. Set aside.

Marinate chicken in yogurt, garlic paste, ginger paste, lime, salt, garam masala powder, and coriander leaves for 15-20 minutes.

In a sautee pan, heat oil with cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom. When hot, add onions, turmeric powder, and fennel seeds. Sautee until the onions are soft. Add pistachio paste and marninated chicken, along with pepper.  Cook until chicken is tender. Serve with sliced slivers of pistachios and cilantro as a garnish.

We actually found this recipe online and have made it a few times now. We love it!

Each of these chicken dishes can be served with naan or another Indian bread such as roti, paratha, puri, kulcha, etc. or of course with rice! ... If you're like my household and only need a total of 3 chicken breasts for one meal, halve each of the recipes and instead of just one dish, you'll have 2 dishes! Both recipes are about equal in difficulty and the number of steps is basically the same, so I think you can pull it off. Just remember to give yourself a little more time to make the Pistachio chicken since it does need that time to marinate. We just make the butter chicken while waiting for the other one to marinate and it's good to go!

So what are your thoughts? Have you ever tried Indian food? Do you like it? What are some of your favorite dishes? ... This probably won't be my only Indian food post because I know quite a few people who are vegetarian, so the next go-around, I'll do some vegetarian dishes. I'll keep in mind what some people's favorites are and maybe post about those so others can see too!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It All Starts With a Packet of Ramen ...

There is a good reason for why I decided to start off my VERY FIRST post (other than the introduction) with a packet of Ramen noodles, and I WILL get to it ... I promise. I'm just going to take a moment digress a little, first, with my story.

The other day, I was talking to one of my good friends while we were at a restaurant ... one which we were not having a particularly good experience at ... and he asked me, "Rashmi, what was your first 'kitchen fail' to which you think back and say to yourself, 'How in the world did I REALLY do that'?" ...

*Insert thinking here* 

Well, actually, no, no reason to insert thinking because my first 'kitchen fail' is pretty much still clear as day in my mind ........... I burned microwaveable Mac-and-Cheese ... 2 years ago! -- When I went to a different University than the one I currently go to, I lived in the dorms and I pretty much lived off ANYTHING that could be microwaved! My three favorites were:

1) Campbell's soup-on-the-go cups, the chicken noodle kind, that took like 2-3 minutes to microwave.
2) Freezer chicken pot pies ... but only for SPECIAL occasions! We had one of those mini-fridges, which was TINY and even tinier was the freezer compartment that would fill up when 1 thing was placed in it.
3) Mac-and-Cheese.

I did have constant debates in my mind of whether I wanted to get the soup or the Mac-and-Cheese, and a lot of the times, it ended up being good ol' M&C. So in between classes, I would just throw things in the microwave and leave them unattended for the 2-5 minute cooking time depending on the product, while I got things ready. Well, this day, it was just my luck that I was running late to class, SUPER HUNGRY, and added microwave time DOUBLE that which I was supposed to, without thinking. And nope, I didn't bother to check on how my "meal" was progressing! It was only when I heard the, *beep beep beep,* at the end that I opened up the microwave and to my horror, there it was: burnt lunch! :(

Here's the thing - when you have an epic fail like that, you normally know better than to admit to it! Thus, I continued on to made up some elaborate story about how I was trying some fancy recipe and it didn't go right. HA! ... Then I returned the question to him, to which he replied, with a smug grin on his face, "I haven't ever had a true 'kitchen fail' because the only thing I know how to make is Ramen noodles!" --- Uh, see what I mean about NOT admitting to something like burnt Mac-and-Cheese?! ... Well, thank goodness I didn't re-tell that tale because that + Ramen noodles, I'm pretty sure, are supposed to be about as fool-proof as it gets! ... Anyways, we continued this conversation another day with a few other mutual friends of ours, and they had similar stories to tell!! --- The conclusion I got from this was, cooking, or "cooking", for many people, starts with Ramen noodles! If nothing else, people are adventurous (or not-so-adventurous) enough to make this ... sometimes as meals multiple times a day! SO in my mind, I thought, what a different way to start off a food blog: with a post about Ramen!

Although I'm not an avid Ramen noodle eater, here's a recipe that I often make with Ramen noodles! I've listed the recipe as I received it from a family friend a few years ago, and will make comments on the end to the variations I make.

Cabbage Ramen Noodle Salad

What you will need for the salad:
1/2 head of cabbage, finely chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 package Ramen noodles, crushed
1 package sunflower seeds

What you will need for the dressing:
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp vinegar
Seasoning from Noodle packet

Directions to make salad:
Combine chopped cabbage, chopped green onions, and sunflower seeds in a bowl. Refrigerate for a few hours. In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients for dressing. Add crushed noodles and dressing to cabbage mix at time of serving. Toss and enjoy!

It's definitely a very simple salad and a nice little side dish. When I make it, I do not add green onions or sunflower seeds because I prefer it without either. And also, when I make the dressing, I add a little salt for taste, or if I forget to do that, I'll add a little while I'm tossing it all together. Here's what it looks like when finished!

Has anyone tried this recipe before or have any other variations you like to make? ... Does anyone have any other simple side-salad recipes that they like to make?

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Simple Introduction

Hello, and welcome to Tangerines and Tomatoes! I'm SO happy that you're here, reading my blog. As an introduction, I just wanted to tell you a little bit about myself and why I decided to start blogging!

My name is Rashmi G. and I am currently a senior in college, finishing up my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences. I have the aspiration of becoming a pharmacist one day and take on the medical world! As a current "project," I thought it would be a lot of fun to start a blog. So, of course, the first thought that occurred in my mind was, "what could I possibly write about that people could relate to and would enjoy reading about?" ... Hmmm! Next thought: "what are my current likes and dislikes?" ... focusing, of course, on my 'likes' in attempts to come up with an idea. Well, as it turns out, when I took more than a minute to think about it, things became pretty clear.

Food!! ... Breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, desserts, etc!
I mean, really? Who could go wrong with THAT?!

As someone who is CONSTANTLY glued to the Food Network channel, watching some of my favorite tv shows: Iron Chef America, Chopped, Next Food Network Star, Worst Cooks in America (to name a few), it seemed evident that writing about food is the direction I want to take with this blog.

So I guess you're probably wondering what you can expect to see in my posts-to-come. The short answer? ... EVERYTHING!!! I have decided to not limit myself to only one thing. As I said before, I'm currently a student, and so, after classes, I don't ALWAYS have the time to make myself a meal, so I pick up something to eat on the way home! Or, occasionally, on weekends, I go out to eat with my family or friends. BUT there are also days when I'm sick of Chipotle (I know some of you are now saying, "WHAT?!") or some other place, so I pick up groceries and create something: an oldie but goodie favorite, or try out a new recipe. In either case, I would love to share my experiences with you!

Additionally, when it comes to food, I am totally up for new ideas: restaurants and recipes (or anything else you may come up with too)! So if you would like to see any kind particular post, please feel free to let me know! As with every city, there is diversity of local restaurants as well as those that are chain restaurants. I definitely enjoy going to both and hope that you will enjoy reading posts about either one! Who knows, if I post something about a local restaurants, for example, a Thai restaurant, maybe it'll give you the inspiration to do some research and find a Thai restaurant around where you live too! ... I really think the possibilities are ENDLESS!

I am VERY new to the blogger world, so I'm still working out things on my blog and trying to figure out how to make it better .... anddd I definitely don't know anything about how to set up a Rafflecopter and such ... But you do know what that means, right? -- Yup! Giveaways to come!! [Even though I would love it if you were a follower-to-stay .. and not just for the prizes!] ANYWAYS- with everything said, any suggestions are welcome and I hope to see LOTS of comments on this blog! I hope you also like the page that I've created on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tangerines-and-Tomatoes/

Thank you for reading today! :o)