spicy calamari

spicy calamari

There's something calming that accompanies the sound of the ocean water splashing against the rocks while the breeze caresses your face. Sticking your wet toes in the sand while you stare across into the horizon and forget everything that's on your mind. At least that what's we anticipated when we took a quick day trip to the beach in Santa Cruz. 

Amusingly enough, it was quite the opposite. The winds were very chilly and wild! So was Snoopy, the thought of sitting down calmly was not something he was in the mood for. He wanted to play with the other dogs and eat sea weed. The two of us struggled with our packed lunches which kept getting stuffed with sand. Finally we looked at each other after spending two hours of frustration trying to battle the cold winds and sand and decided that perhaps this would have been a calmer day if we stayed at home. We walked back to the car, more annoyed than ever and began our drive back home. After a few minutes in the car driving, we looked at each other and smiles started to form which turned into laughter. While the dog was being crazy at the beach he had now sunk into a deep state of slumber in the back seat of the car while the two of us were exhausted from all the craziness of those two hours at the beach. I really feel these crazy things happen only to us but then again we might not remember these moments years from now! I'm sure we will go back to the beach and definitely be better prepared than our first visit! 

mise en prep calamari

What would life not be without a little bit of craziness or spice for that matter! Calamari is one of my favorite seafood appetizers to eat in summer and I'm sharing one of my favorite ways to make calamari at home. I've added several ingredients that are commonly used in Goan cuisine that give these guys a delicious flavorful kick. Cornmeal gives these squid a super crispy crust that with will make you want to eat more with every crunch bite. I'm not a big fan of dipping sauces when it comes to eating calamari, I prefer a splash of fresh lemon juice over them but feel free to pair this with your favorite dipping sauces. 

spicy calamari goan indian style

spicy calamari

yields: 4 servings


2 lbs squid, cleaned
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used freshly ground dried Kashmiri chilies but if Cayenne also works great here)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, freshly ground
1 clove (approximately one teaspoon) of garlic , minced 
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour
vegetable for frying
2 cups cornmeal
a few fresh lemon wedges and a few fresh cilantro/parsley leaves for garnishing

1. Wipe any excess liquid from the squid using clean paper towels. Using a sharp knife cut the head off and the body into rings, place on a clean paper towel. (Food52 has a great tutorial on how to clean and cut squid).
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg. Add all the ingredients from the sea salt to the cornflour and whisk until completely combined. Fold in the cut squid until coated evenly. Allow to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. 
3. Heat 2 inches of the oil in a wok on a medium-high flame. In the meantime, place the cornmeal in a medium-sized tray. Using a fork pick up the marinating pieces of squid and toss them in the cornmeal until completely coated. Place the coated pieces on a sheet of parchment paper. 
4. As soon as the oil gets hot at around 375F,  fry about 1/4th of the cornmeal-coated squid until golden brown (don't overcrowd the wok or they won't cook evenly). The squid will cook within 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, immediately transfer with a slotted spoon onto a clean sheet of absorbent paper towels to drain the excess oil. Repeat with the rest of the squid. Serve hot with fresh lemon wedges and garnish with a little fresh cilantro or parsley leaves.

indian-style salmon burgers

Salmon burgers 5

Guys, I'm super excited because I have a little post up at 

Better Homes and Garden

! More over I'm thrilled that I not only get to cook up one of their recipes but also add my own spin to it.

Salmon burgers1

It was hard not to resist giving the

salmon burgers

an Indian-inspired twist because I absolutely love  to showcase the rich heritage of Indian cuisine and its versatility in everyday cooking. I've been enjoying a lot of the fresh produce and seafood here on the West Coast so I figured a seafood burger for summer would be the perfect thing to share with you.

Salmon burgers 4

Preparing these

salmon burgers

is a breeze, I've made them gluten-free and I think you will love them, since they carry a little bit of heat and spice. Most of these ingredients are available at most supermarkets and local international grocery stores, so you shouldn't have a problem finding them. And since it's summer, you should be cooking up a quick meal on the weekend, so you can spend more time enjoying the sun with your family and friends or even just by yourself! 

So go ahead and pour yourself a chilled drink and check out my

Indian-style Salmon burger recipe


Salmon burgers 6

spicy artichoke quinoa pilaf

spicy artichoke and tri colored quinoa pilaf

We finally made it to California after a very, very long drive but the drive was definitely worth it! The week long road trip across the country was so much fun and at some point I will share those photographs with you in a separate post. Between unpacking and getting the place set up, I've realized I've missed having a kitchen and the ability to cook.  Eating out is fun but not everyday for a few weeks and on the road your options are really limited! By the way, when our stuff finally arrived to our new home, I was in shock, when did I collect so much stuff!!!

tricolored quinoa

I've started to take advantage of the numerous farmer's markets and stalls that are all over this gorgeous state and what better way to kick it off my first post from the new place, than with some fresh baby artichokes, that we picked up on one of our trips to the beach last Memorial day weekend and bundle that up with a giveaway from the wonderful folks at Bob's Red Mill.

Pilaf/Pulavs are Indian rice dishes flavored with spices and loaded with vegetables, meat or both and remain one of my favorite and easy ways to cook a single tasty meal at home. Pilafs are versatile, simple and yet bold with complex flavors that make them stand out. My mother made and still makes delicious pilafs on weekends and we would eat them with a side of plain yogurt or a salad. It's also my little way of "cheating" to save time and impress people when they come over.


I've replaced the rice in this pilaf with Bob's Red Mill's tricolored quinoa (which by the way is simply gorgeous with different little colored pearls) which is an excellent rice substitute. I've thrown in a generous handful of fresh, little baby artichokes and seasoned the pilaf with black cardamom, ginger, garlic and a bunch of other aromatics.  

Bob's Red Mill is giving away a bag of their delicious tricolored quinoa and a $20 gift card to their store. To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is follow the instructions in the widget and enter. This giveaway is open only to legal residents of the United States. This contest will run from May 30th through May 6th, 2014. Good luck, share the post and have fun!

Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation from Bob's Red Mill for this post and all opinions here are solely mine, unless stated otherwise.

spicy artichoke and quinoa pilaf

spicy artichoke quinoa pilaf

yields: 2-4 servings


1 cup (6 1/4 ounces) tricolored quinoa (Bob's Red Mill)
6 1/2 cups water 
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
32 ounces baby artichokes
1 tablespoon vinegar/lemon juice
1 cup diced red/white onion
10 black peppercorns, whole
4 cloves
4 thai chili peppers, stalks removed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 large garlic cloves, peeled 
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 black cardamom pods, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 large lemon
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1. Place the quinoa in sieve and wash thoroughly under running cold tap water for about 2 minutes. I like to massage the quinoa with my fingers to remove any bitter saponins that might be present. Leave the quinoa in the sieve to drain and then transfer to a medium sized saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the saucepan, bring the contents to a boil on a medium-high flame and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until the water is completely evaporated for about 12-15 minutes and the quinoa is completely cooked. (The colorless quinoa should be completely translucent without any white uncooked spots).  Cover with a lid and keep aside until ready to use.
2. Clean the artichokes by peeling of the harder outer green leaves until you reach the inner soft and tender yellow parts. Trim the bottom and the tops of each artichoke and place the artichoke in a bowl containing 4 cups of water and the vinegar to prevent them from browning. Discard the trimmed bottoms and tops.
3. Add the diced onion, peppercorns, cloves, chili, turmeric, garlic, and ginger in a blender/immersion blender or food processor with the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Pulse until the ingredients are completely ground to a smooth pulp. 
4. Heat the olive oil in a large wok or saucepan with a lid on medium-high flame. When the oil is hot, add the cardamom and bay leaves. Stir the spices for about 15 seconds and then add the thinly sliced red onions to the pan. Sauté the onions until they begin to get golden brown for about 4-5 minutes. Add the ground spice mixture and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the wok and cook for 1 minute. Drain the artichokes and add them to the wok. Fold gently and cover the wok with its lid and cook until the artichokes are completely tender, this will take approximately 15-20 minutes. Once the artichokes are cooked, fold in the quinoa and slice the lemon and squeeze the lemon juice over the pilaf. Stir the contents and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the wok from the stove and garnish with the fresh cilantro leaves before serving. Serve hot with plain yogurt.
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easy south indian chicken curry

south indian chicken curry and paratha

A while back, I shared a Goan chicken curry recipe with you this time I have another curry recipe that I am very fond of, you will notice some similar and some new ingredients that make this chicken dish so different from the previous. Curries are fascinating because there are so many different varieties based on geography and within those there are even more variations based on the differences in the amount of spices and ingredients that different households use.


Making curry at home is akin to the way in which people prepare chili, you improve your recipe with time, add or leave out ingredients to suit your taste buds, make mental notes on what you would do different the next time. Over time, I've simplified the recipe and streamlined some of the prep work to make it easier for me to cook this on a weekday, if my cravings are going to get the better of me. I've also lightened the recipe quite a bit by cutting back on the unnecessary fat without compromising on the taste and quality of this delicious curry.

turmeric jar

Whenever, I cook chicken, I prefer to use chicken that's still attached to the bone and I trim off any visible fat and skin. Chicken that still has the bones gives a much more flavorful stew and soup and the meat gets to be much more tender and tastier. Except for the ground garam masala spice mix, I've used whole spices in this recipe, you can remove them before serving but I prefer to leave them in. I feel that leaving the whole spices intact in the curry showcases some of the ingredients and could perhaps even make for an interesting conversation at the table. I like to serve this curry with rice or any type of Indian flat bread like rotis or parathas and even with South Indian dosas and idlis.

For the vegetarian option, you can substitute the chicken with 2 to 3 cups of mixed vegetables of your choice such as peas, carrots, beans, eggplant, sweet potatoes, or squash.

south indian chicken curry

easy south indian chicken curry

yields: 4 to 6 servings


2 lb chicken (I used a mix of thighs, breasts, and drumsticks)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced (approximately 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 black peppercorns
6 cloves
4 green cardamoms, cracked with pods
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes or ground chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
400 ml light coconut milk
2 teaspoons cilantro leaves, freshly chopped

1. Remove the skin and trim off any excess fat of the chicken pieces and discard. Wipe the chicken pieces with a clean paper towel and keep aside.
2. In a large thick bottomed stockpot, heat the oil on a medium high flame for 40 seconds until hot. Add the red onion and garlic and saute until the onion becomes translucent.
3. Add the cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, garam masala, chili, and turmeric to the pot and cook for another minute. 
4. Add the chicken to the pot and brown for 4 minutes. Stir in the grated coconut and tomato paste and cook for another 1 minute.  Add the salt and coconut milk and bring the contents to a boil on a high flame, immediately reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and cook the chicken for 50 minutes. Once the chicken is completely cooked, taste the curry and adjust with salt if necessary.
5. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice or bread.