pomegranate chaat salad

pomegranate chaat salad

I entertained a childish fantasy that involved owning a garden that resemble a fancy oasis with trees and plants laden with figs and pomegranates and of course, a water fountain! In DC, I took active steps to achieve this, I planted a few fig trees and one pomegranate plant among others. For four years, the pomegranate tree would grow bigger and shoot out more branches and each spring as soon as the leaves came back, I would tell myself this would be the year where I'd get beautiful bright orange-red flowers that would turn into pomegranates. Nothing, zilch, nada! When we moved, I was happy to part with it and gave it away without any tears. Unfortunately, that bug of envy is back because here in California, it appears that every garden I pass by is lined with pomegranate plants fully loaded with flowers and fruits. Garden envy is a hard one to fight and I have a strong feeing that by next spring, I'll be back to owning a new plant, maybe this time I will have some luck?

pomegranate chaat saladpomegranate chaat salad
pomegranate chaat salad

Pomegranates remind me of fall more than pumpkin spice lattes and all things brown and orange. They stand out with their bold colors and flavors and with their unusual texture. Every aril in that pink fruit is packed with a sweet and delicious tart flavor that is simply waiting to burst. 

Indian street food is amazing and I talk a lot about it, especially chaat. Here in California we are lucky because there are so many chaat restaurants that we can indulge in This salad has a lot of those fun flavors with fewer spices and is one tasty dish. I sometimes make this with fresh cilantro but this time I used parsley so you can use either or even a combination of both, it is great either way. Fresh lime juice, pomegranate arils and a dash of freshly roasted spices along with a few walnuts make this one perfect bowl of color and flavor. 

pomegranate chaat salad

pomegranate chaat salad

yields: 2-4 servings

ingredients

1 bunch parsley leaves, fresh (you can also use cilantro leaves)

1 generous cup pomegranate arils

1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup toasted walnuts (or any other kind of your favorite nut)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

2 cloves

4 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt 

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 teaspoon jaggery or raw brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

1.  Chop the parsley leaves (you can chop them coarse or fine) and place them in a large bowl. Add the pomegranate arils along with the red onion.

2. Chop the toasted walnuts (nuts) and add them to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl.

3. Add the cumin, coriander, and cloves to a small saucepan and toast for about 30-45 seconds on a medium-high flame. The cumin and coriander should become slightly brown and you will immediately notice an aromatic fragrance. Remove from stove and grind with a mortar and pestle or in a spiced grinder to get a fine powder.

4. Squeeze the lime juice into a small mixing bowl, add the salt, pepper, sugar, chili and  1/2 teaspoon of the ground spice mix from step 3 (store the rest of the mixture in an airtight container). Stir the ingredients with a fork until just combined. Pour this dressing over the ingredients in the large mixing bowl and toss to coat completely. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving, this salad can also be served chilled.

cauliflower tacos with cumin and za'atar

cauliflower tacos with cumin and za'atar 1

Last weekend, I found out that I am a very good accidental gardener, it's true, I might not have plenty of luck when it comes to planned gardening but when it comes to unexpectedly growing stuff, I have a green thumb! I went to open up a bag of sweet potatoes that I remember picking up a week or two ago and lo and behold, they were growing shoots and leaves. This isn't the first time something like this has happened, I once grew a date tree in my backyard in D.C. after tossing a medjool date by mistake into my garden (we got a few palm leaves but it didn't make it through the first snow). I was tempted to pull the shoots of the sweet potatoes but I decided to give them a chance and I've planted them. Who knows maybe they will grow well and I might get to eat my own accidentally homegrown sweet potatoes.

If you asked me if I could remember my first taco, I'd sadly say, I couldn't but I will say this, they always make me happy every time. When it comes to talking about tacos, I get pretty excited because every taco is a bundle of joy waiting to be enjoyed with the promise of goodness. There are so many different and wonderful ways to eat tacos so I thought, I'd share one of my personal favorites! 

cauliflower tacos with cumin and za'atar 2
cauliflower tacos with cumin and za'atar

For these tacos, it all starts with a few splashes of color courtesy of these beautiful purple and yellow cauliflowers that get tossed and seasoned with some tasty spices. Cumin and za'atar push these florets to a whole new level of tastiness with an added depth of citrusy and herb flavors. Though I'm only sharing the recipe on how to make the filling here, you can dress the cauliflower tacos with any type of salsa or toppings you love. I did however, share my favorite way to eat these guys at the end of the recipe section but seriously take liberties, because that what makes a taco special, you can individualize to your heart's (tummy's) desires!

cauliflower tacos with cumin and za'atar 3
cauliflower tacos with cumin and za'atar 4

cauliflower tacos with cumin and za'atar 

yields: 4 -6 servings (depends on how many and how big your tacos are)

ingredients

1 small yellow cauliflower

1 small purple cauliflower

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground red chili powder

1 teaspoon za'atar

1 lime

1. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F. 

2. Chop both cauliflowers into small florets. Rinse under cold water, drain excess liquid and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, cumin, and chili and mix to coat the cauliflower. Spread this mixture onto a non-stick baking sheet and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower florets are tender and slightly roasted.

3. Sprinkle the za'atar and squeeze the lime juice over the cauliflower. Serve immediately with your favorite taco fillings and tortillas. 

Note: I like to serve these with a few extra wedges of lime on the side, fresh avocado slices, some shredded purple cabbage, salsa and my cilantro mint chutney. You can also serve these anyway you love your tacos!

 

grilled spicy sweet corn

Indian style grilled spicy sweet corn bhuta

People evolve and grow over time and so do blogs, it was definitely time for a much needed facelift! I hope thing are working as smoothly and efficiently as possible but if you come across any glitches, I would really appreciate if you could shoot me a quick email or drop a comment so I can fix it. I've also added some new links and stuff like a new Photography Portfolio so please do check that out. There will be some more updates in the future, so stay tuned!

sweet corn

Enough said about hosts and domains, let's get back to more important things, THE FOOD! I cooked up some sweet corn for you and this is my all time favorite way to eat it! Grilled on the cob and lathered with fresh lime juice along with a simple seasoning of sea salt and hot dried chilies, it's quick and easy and good. This is exactly the way you would get corn on the cob in Bombay during hot summers with one difference, it's called "bhuta". I picked up these bicolored corn cobs at the Mountain View Farmer's Market, which has quickly become one of my favorite places to shop at in the Bay Area. Plus, Mountain View is also gorgeous with beautiful gardens and homes, so it's always awesome to drive out there.  

chili and sea salt for sweet corn

If you can't find Kashmiri chilies (a local Indian/International grocery store will carry them), use any other dried hot chili pepper you love to prepare the spice rub. Serve the cob hot!

Indian style grilled sweet corn bhuta

grilled spicy sweet corn

yields: 4 corn cobs

ingredients

2 generous tablespoons kosher sea salt

3 dried Kashmiri chilies or 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (you can adjust the amount of chili as per your taste preference)

4 sweet corn cobs, husk and silk removed, cleaned

2 limes, fresh

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped  (*optional)

 

1. Grind the salt and chilies in a spice grinder to get a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and keep aside until ready to use

2. Grill the corn cob directly on a hot grill. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until the kernels begin to take on a shiny golden color and a light char and then rotate until the cob is completely cooked. Remove the corn and keep aside on a platter.

2. Halve the limes with a sharp knife. Dip the exposed, cut end of the lime half into the chili-salt mix. Then using the lime as a brush, lightly paint the hot grilled corn cob with the spice mix. You don't need to overdo the brushing as a little will go a long way here. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve hot and immediately.