cilantro coconut chutney

cilantro coconut chutney

I have big and exciting news to share with you today;

1. We're moving to the Bay Area.
2. We got engaged! I can't believe, I get to marry my best friend and now we are on our way to start and share an exciting new chapter in our lives! We've known each other for six years, been through the ups and downs that life has to offer, laughed, argued, and cried together, traveled to places, and once narrowly escaped a bear on a hike. Yep, the usual things that all couples do, but above all we're happy and home is where the two of us are together.
3. Finally, I am also super excited to have my first post up at Food52 today where I talk about my love for this bright green chutney aka the Green Goddess, with so many fresh and bright flavors, it will surely brighten up your day. So head over to Food52 to get the recipe.

coconut chutney

dragon fruit pudding

Pudding for breakfast

Fall's here and I'm already in the midst of planning vacations for Christmas, New Year's and the rest of winter. I've been busy drawing up lists of places I'd like to visit, restaurants I'd love to eat at and sight's I'd like to experience. A whole lot of planning that has me extremely distracted but happily excited. I never thought I'd say this but I am really looking forward to winter. This is how I have spent the past few weekend mornings looking at maps and eating this light and refreshing breakfast pudding. 

Dragon fruit

With a name like dragon you'd expect a little more of a blast in flavor but surprisingly the soft flesh of dragon fruit is mildly sweet with a fresh melon-like taste. I will give it this, if I had to imagine what a dragon egg would look like, a dragon fruit certainly has the exterior shape. But to me, it's all about the crunch in those little black seeds of the dragon fruit. Because of its mild sweetness, I tend to prefer dragon fruit as a refreshing fruit for breakfast, another reason why I decided to prepare this breakfast-themed pudding.

Dragon fruit pudding

To give the pudding a little bit of a flavor boost,  I've added a little bit of rambutan pulp that has a gentle floral sweet taste. Rambutans are related to lychees and longans, once you get past peeling the skin of you are left with the sweet juicy transparent flesh that has a delightful exotic floral taste. If you can't find rambutans you can use lychees which are generally easier to find at most places. 

Rambuttan
To bring everything together, I've added low-fat coconut milk and lightly sweetened it with a little brown sugar. Of course, if you prefer it sweeter, add a little more sugar. You have a couple of options here when it comes to serving the pudding, you can either pour it directly into serving dishes and allow it to set or alternatively pour it into casting molds, set and then remove before serving. Which ever way you decide to go, make sure the pudding is served chilled, the flavors are delicious when cold. 

Tropical fruit

Now, it's time for me to go back and plan these holidays out and eat some more of this pudding!

Dragon fruit pudding served

dragon fruit pudding

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1/2 cup water
1 sachet unflavored gelatin
1 dragon fruit
5 rambutans, peeled, seed removed, and finely diced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 can lite coconut milk

1.  Add the water to a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Leave aside to allow the gelatin to bloom for at least 5 minutes. The gelatin will absorb the liquid and look like swollen translucent granules.
2. Add the sugar and coconut milk to a thick-bottomed saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer on a medium-low flame.
3. Scoop the dragon fruit pulp into a bowl. Smash the pulp with the prongs of a fork.
4. Add the dragon fruit and rambutan fruit pulps to the coconut milk in the saucepan.
5. Stir in the gelatin and mix for about 1 minute. Pour and evenly divide the liquid into serving bowls or molds and refrigerate until the pudding is soft but firm to touch. This will take at least 4 hours. Serve chilled directly in serving bowls. If using molds, then place the outer surface of the mold in warm water for a few seconds to loosen, flip onto a clean plate, tap gently and remove mold. 

baath cake/ goan coconut cake

Baath cake with tea

It's finally feeling a lot like winter, the winds are chilly and almost every leaf that was once green and had turned a fiery shade of autumn is now lying on the sidewalks. Even my precious fig tree in the garden has lost most of its leaves and looks like a naked elongated branched creature protruding out from the ground. Cold weather also makes it way harder for me to get up early in the morning when all I want to do is curl up and stay warm under the covers. Thankfully, the holidays make winter fun and it gets me excited for all the things I can do. For me, cooking and baking all sorts of special holiday recipes that I grew up eating or for that matter even venturing out into unfamiliar culinary territories makes it fun. An even more special moment for me is when I surprise my family and friends with some of my favorite holiday desserts. This year will be no different, I've already shipped some stuff out to a few people that I know will be surprised and hopefully happy when they receive their packages this week.

Whisk some Eggs

In the next few weeks, I am going to continue to share some of my favorite holiday recipes with you. One of these holiday recipes is this delicious and traditional Goan cake that was served at almost every holiday occasion such as Christmas and Easter, as far as I can remember. Goa has a lot of coconut trees and consequently they became a major part of the regional diet and lifestyle over time. The Baath cake is rich in coconut flavored with rose water that gives it a wonderfully nutty and floral fragrance at the same time. Besides its heavenly taste and aroma, the cake is also very moist and tender. This is the second semolina based cake recipe that I have shared with you.

Shredded Coconut and Cake

This is a simple and easy cake recipe to prepare. However, you must let the cake batter soak anywhere from a few hours to overnight, this will allow the semolina to absorb all the liquid and swell up. The resultant cake has a nice moist and plump crumb that is soaked up with all the deliciousness of the coconut and rose water flavors. You can serve this cake warm or cold. The original recipe that I had was very rich and had way too much sugar and eggs that I have tried to cut back without really compromising on the taste or the quality of the cake. I used reduced-fat coconut milk in my recipe to cut back on the fat and also because coconuts are seasonal. If you can find fresh coconuts, I recommend using two cups of finely grated coconuts instead of the coconut milk and the 1/4 cup of shredded coconut. The finer the shreds the better the texture of the cake. Personally, I like to serve the cake in small bite-sized pieces with hot tea or coffee.

Freshly cut and baked right out of the oven

baath cake/goan coconut cake

ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups semolina flour

a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


1/4 cup shredded/grated unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup rose water

2 cups reduced-fat coconut milk

1. Line a 9X10 inch baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to size. Spray the sheet and pan with a neutral cooking oil spray.
2. Cream the butter, eggs, and sugar till fluffy using an electric mixer.
3. Fold in the semolina, salt, baking powder, coconut, rose water, and coconut milk. Then mix for another 2 minutes with the mixer until all the ingredients are combined. 
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Seal the pan with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight. 
5. The cake batter will have set by this point. Bake the cake for 40 minutes in the center of the middle rack of an oven that is preheated to 350F.
6. The cake is done when it gets golden brown on the surface or when a knife comes out clean from the center.  Allow to cool in the baking pan, serve warm or chilled with tea or coffee.

cabbage and acorn squash stew with coconut


I had no luck finding an authentic Moroccan tagine in N.Y.C, mostly because I tried to fit too much in a short span of time. However, I did get few tips on where to look online (which is what I will be resorting to). My week back in D.C. has been filled with rain and school. Exhilaration combined with a huge sigh of relief has been the theme of my week, as my thesis topic was finally accepted and I can now begin to crank out the potentially to-be extremely long literature review component.


To make life easy this week, I decided to go back and work on a recipe that has been stuck in my mind for a while. A Harissa based coconut stew with a little bit of an Indian kick to it. Luck was on my side, when I found a huge cabbage and an acorn squash nested in our C.S.A box this evening. The recipe is simple and quick and tasty. Not only can you play around with the Harissa depending on how much heat you want but you can also substitute the acorn squash with any other kind of squash that can hold is texture. Perhaps, some pumpkin or carnival squash ? Serve this on a bed of a hot rice or with hot naans.



cabbage and acorn squash stew with coconut

yield: 6 servings

ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cups coarsley chopped green cabbage
2 cups chopped acorn squash
1 cup freshly ground coconut
1 tablespoon Harissa (Recipe is linked in here)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon dry mango powder
1 teaspoon dry ginger powder
salt and pepper to season
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1. In a large dutch oven or stockpot (which is what I used), heat up one tablespoon of the olive oil on a high flame and add the cabbage, squash and coconut. Stir constantly and gently for about 5 minutes and reduce to medium flame. 
2. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the mustard seeds) and mix and let them cook for about 20 minutes or till the squash and cabbage are soft and tender. Season with salt and pepper. 
3. In a separate pan, heat the rest of the olive oil till it smokes (which will happen very quickly) and add the mustard seeds. Let the seeds cook for a few seconds till they begin to sputter. Pour the mustard seeds and olive oil on top of the stew.