Sunday, July 31, 2011

Red Lentils Masala

I first tasted Masoor Dal (Red Lentils) when my coworker's sister-in-law, who is from Tanzania, prepared it, for our potluck lunch, roughly 1.5 years ago. I got all excited, thought I would make myself the same and I bought a bag of Masoor dal. Well, the Masoor dal sat in the cupboard for 1.5 years, till this afternoon, when I happened upon a great recipe for Masoor dal, here. This is the first time I ever cooked with Masoor dal.

This recipe is not my original recipe, but I have adapted the recipe from the link above.

Masoor dal is yet another variety of lentils. They are possibly more commonly used in North India than in South India. It is also noted that India is not the only country where they are used in cooking.

This recipe involves making the spice mix first and then the actual dal is prepared, using the spice mix.

Ingredients for Spice Mix (Goda Masala):
Coriander seeds - 1 cupBlack peppercorns - 3 Tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 cup
Cloves - 2 Tsp
Cinnamon - 2 sticks
White Sesame Seeds - 1/3 cup
Star Anise - 6 pods
Black cardamon - 6 pods
Bay leaves - 2
Sesame seed oil - 1 Tbsp
Part I - Preparation of Goda Masala: In a frying pan, heat up the sesame seed oil. Bring oil to medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the ingredients for the masala. Stir frequently, so they don't burn.
Remove from heat, let the ingredients cool down.
After ingredients are cooled, grind into a mix in a blender.
Set 2 Tsp aside for the Dal prep.

Ingredients for Dal:
Red lentils - 1.5 cups
Red chili powder - 3 Tsp
Onions - 2 large - diced
Garlic - 3 cloves - minced
Tomatoes - 3 large - diced
Tomato paste - 2 Tsp
Sesame seed oil - 2 Tbsp
Goda masala - 2 Tbsp
Filtered water - 1 cup
Red Lentils
3 Good Lookin' Roma Tomatoes - last seen with some freshly made Goda Masala :)

Part II - Preparation of Masoor dal:

  1. Cook the Masoor dal in a pressure cooker or a sauce pan. Cook until the lentils are soft.
  2. Heat-up the sesame seed oil in a large pan. Add the onions, garlic. Cook until the onions start to turn brown.
  3. Add the cooked lentils, red chili power, water and the Goda masala and stir frequently.
  4. Turn off the heat, add the tomatoes and stir until the tomatoes are mixed in.
The finished product!
Serve piping hot with a slice of lime and a thinly sliced red/white onion. Goes well with rice and flat breads!
The finished product was so good, even Chako turned vegetarian :)

Bon appetit' :)

Breakin' the cycle!

No, I don't mean it literally! See what I have been cookin', by clicking on the image below!

Peace :)

Tindora Stir-fry (பொறியல்/Poriyal in Tamil)

The Tamil word Tindora Poriyal literally translated would mean "fried Tindora". Tindora aka Coccinia grandis aka Ivy Gourd is a vegetable I have wanted to cook in the past, but never got around to it mainly because I thought I did not have a good recipe for it. But, recently, I "happened upon" some Green Beans Poriyal, which gave me an idea for a recipe for Tindora Stir-fry.

Ingredients:
Tindora - 1 LB
Sesame seed oil - 2 Tbsp
Toor Dal (lentils) - 2 cups
Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
Red chilies - 3-4
White lentils - 2 Tbsp
White onions - 2 Large ones - diced
Curry leaves - 4 - finely chopped
Cilantro - a few strands for garnish
Asafoetida, Salt - a pinch

Preparation:
  1. In a large pan, heat-up the sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, curry leaves, red chilies and turn down the heat.
  2. Cook until the onions start to brown. Add the chopped Tindora and cook on low heat for a few minutes. Turn up the heat to medium.
  3. Add the cooked lentils, shredded coconut and cook for another two-three minutes, covered. Stir occasionally
  4. Add salt and garnish with cilantro.
Finished product!
Serve piping hot with rice or flat breads!

Tindora Stir-fry Wraps:
Warm-up a flat bread, coat the inside with Mint Chutney. Add some hot Tindoora Stir-fry, roll'em up and enjoy! Optionally, one can sprinkle some Nutritional Yeast on the warm stir-fry, for a cheesy taste/texture!

Bon appetit' :)

Spicy Mint Chutney (Pudina Thogayal)

I made Mint Chutney for dinner last night. This recipe is from my belated mother, who was an excellent cook. Mint chutney is a popular south indian dish. My mother would make this at least once a month or so. It is very easy to prepare and is a great accompaniment to rice and many varieties of breads.
Ingredients:
Mint leaves - 1 bunch
Urad Dal (White Lentils) - 1 cup
Red Chilis - 5pcs
Tamarind Paste - 1 Tsp
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of Asafoetida

Preparation:
Heat up the oil in a pan.
When the oil is hot, turn down the heat.
Add the Urad dal.Stir frequently.
Add the asafoetida, chilies.
Stir frequently until the lentils are light brown.
Remove from heat, put into a bowl.

Remove the stems from the Mint leaves, wash them.

Once the lentils cool down, blend the contents of the bowl and the mint leaves, tamarind paste in a blender.
A coarse paste of the blend is ideal, does not have to be a fine paste.

Add salt (little) to taste!

Serve hot with rice or flat breads (chappati, naan, pita, etc).
Bon appetit' :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pondering - not related to bicycling, directly!

I was out of town for a few days, in a place where it was much cooler than DFW. I was so glad to get a break from the relentlessly torrid Texas summer. I missed the break from the less hot weather, when I landed in Dallas Love Field last night.

All of a sudden, the thought of snow and ice resonates well with me. I am reminded of our days in St. Louis. Not that an entire season of grey and freezing rains are always the best for my morale, but somehow I am drawn to the white stuff and slush, after a few years here in DFW. It is perhaps a passing thing, but I sure would love some cooler weather, right about now. I know I am not alone!
While I do not participate in any water sports or much swimming, I miss flowing water, parks and ponds. There is a canal that runs behind our home, which is only enjoyable from behind the window of an air-conditioned room, right now.

I still miss living in an older city. There is something to be said about their beauty. The great parks, ponds and such....I posted the picture below for my friend Pia.
The photo above was taken in Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, Missouri, which was 5 minutes by foot from our home in St. Louis.

Those were different days. It was a different place. Things were different!

I don't want to move back to St. Louis, but I am not sure we dig the Texas heat either.

Who knows what the future holds?

Alright, enough ramblin' :)

Peace :)

Misleading

I was off the bike for three days, due to travel. I will be back on the saddle tomorrow! I don't think I will do anything more than my usual 11 or so commuting miles, until it cools off a bit.

Don't let the clouds mislead you, it is still toasty here in Texas!
Have a great week!

Peace ;)

Back on Brahma tomorrow!

It is still sizzlin' hot here in Dalls-Fort Worth, Texas. I can't wait for it to rain and cool down a bit. I have been off the bike for about 3 days now, as I only returned last night from my trip. I didn't feel like riding this morning as I was still a bit tired from my trip.

I took this photo at work last week. Texas sunsets can be spectacular, but this one doesn't quite capture the really beautiful sunset, but hopefully conveys my feelings for Brahma!
Have a great week!

Peace :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Something ain't right!

The pictures are not showing-up in my last post....hmmm...have to double-check everything...
I will fix it!

Peace :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hot n Sour Lentils

For dinner tonight, I made two dishes. One was Simple Spinach and the other was my brand new creation: Hot n Sour Lentils.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
4 new potatoes - diced
2 Large Onions - diced
3 Roma Tomatoes - diced
1 Can of Pineapple chunks (or fresh pineapple)
10 Green beans - cut into 2 cm long pieces

3 cups of Lentils (Dal) cooked --- Cook the lentils so that they are not mushy for this recipe. Texture is part of the "taste", if you know what I mean :)

2 Tbsp Sesame Oil

1 Tsp chilly powder
1 Tsp cumin
1 Tsp Mustard seeds
2 Tbsp of finely chopped ginger root
1 Tsp White Lentil (Urad Dal)
2 Tbsp shredded curry leaves
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

3 cups of filtered water

Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of Asafoetida

Preparation:
Heat up the oil in a large pan.
When the oil is hot, turn down the heat.
Add the mustard seeds. Cover with lid.
Add the asafoetida, curry leaves, ginger.
Add the chopped onions, white lentils and turn down the heat.

Add 1 cup of water, turn down the heat. Let simmer.

In a sauce pan, heat up 2 cups of filtered water. When the water starts to boil, add the potatoes and the green beans. Cook until the potatoes are tender, not mushy. Drain the water into the pan with the onions and turn-up the heat to medium.

Add the lentils, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, to the onions and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.
Add the pineapple chunks and cook for another minute or so. If fresh pineapples, cook for two minutes.

Simmer for a few more minutes until the mix is not too runny (until much of the added water has evaporated).
Stir frequently!!

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro!

Add salt (little) to taste!

Serve hot with rice or flat breads (chappati, naan, pita, etc).
Bon appetit' :)

Cherry, Banana Breakfast Smoothie

For breakfast today, I made a Cherry, Banana smoothie. I was experimenting with the recipe and I added 2 carrots to the mix. Carrots can give a pureed texture to a smoothie. If you don't care for this, you may omit the carrots altogether or use extracted carrot juice.

Ingredients:
Kale - 1 cup
Baby spinach - 1 cup
Carrots - 2 peeled
Cherries (Frozen or fresh) - 6-8
Banana - 1 peeled
Flax powder - 1 Tbsp
Protein Powder - 1 scoop
Green Superfood - 1 scoop
4-6 Ice cubes
2 cups of filtered water

The finished product - yummy!
Bon appetit' :)

Errands with Brahma

Please click on the image below for full details!
Peace :)

Errands with Brahma

I went shopping with Brahma today. The first stop was Home Depot, where we got some Duct Tape other super-important handyman stuff. I used Brahma as my shopping cart and I did get some complements. I didn't have a lot to haul. If I had to, I would have taken my MKII or Gikma.
The next stop was PetSmart. I needed to get a teething toy for Chaka and of course one for Shaggy too. Normally, I ride my MKII to PetSmart to carry home dog food and I would usually park my bike right around the front of the store. But today, I didn't have to park my bike upfront, but I rolled it right now. No trouble, but lots of complements.

When I got back home, Black Kitty was waiting for me at the door. He doesn't seem to mind the heat, but I think he too gets way too tired after hanging out in the heat too long. It is good to be protected by an Angel, isn't it? :)
Now, it is time to figure out how to spoil those two pups :)
Hope your weekend is fun!

Peace :)

Tougher than the rest!

Different tasks can sometimes require different bikes.Of course, some bikes which are more versatile than others. I think the MKII is a very versatile bike.
Very versatile and very handy, especially when it comes to hauling things like 40 LBS of dog food home.

There are many other applications for the MKII, but for now, I am using the bike for commuting to work when the weather is nasty (snow) out and for riding unpaved trails. Who knows what the future holds? :)

May be I will ride it more over the next few days, in hopes of getting some cooler temps around here.


Peace :)

Chillin' out, inside the house!

Too hot to ride long distances, but there is always lots of fun things to do indoors! So, today, I ran an errand or two and worked home projects.

I can say I had good supervision!
Shaggy has finally calmed down and I think he has accepted Chaka as a part of the pack!
Chaka sleeps like a rock, usually. But today, she was awake much of the day. She will probably sleep in tomorrow.
Although, still a puppy, Chaka is very vigilant. She even barks at the dishwasher, which starts running around 0230 hours :)
Shaggy is deep in thoughts...as always! A real Ph. D. (Professional Herding Dog) :)
It was relaxing day. We watched Creation tonight. Very nice movie! Thanks for suggesting it, OF!

Hope your day was relaxing and fun!

Peace :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mini Batteries Plus

No, no - not that Batteries Plus, this is simply my own collection.

About a month ago, I happened upon a link which talked about the new generation of eneloop rechargeable batteries from Sanyo. I decided I would get myself some, since the ones I have are pretty much dead.
I don't use a lot of batteries for my bicycle lighting, as most of my bikes have hub dynamos. I do use rechargeable batteries in my helmet lights.

eneloop batteries are supposed to hold the charge longer, even if charged and kept on the shelf, unused. Plus, they claim one can recharge these batteries for about 1000x. We shall see!

I will post my findings here, if there are any big disappointments.

Peace :)

Kale, Cherry Strawberry Smoothie

Today's breakfast smoothie!

Ingredients:
Kale - 2 cups
Baby spinach - 1 cup
Strawberries (Frozen or fresh) - 4
Cherries - 6-8
Flax powder - 1 Tbsp
Protein Powder - 1 scoop
Green Superfood - 1 scoop
4-6 Ice cubes
2 cups of filtered water


Bon appetit' :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hotter than Hell 17.702784

I have not had any motivation to ride longer than the regular commute to work, which is the 11 miles or the 17.702784 km. It is too flippin' hot. Yes, I know some people like it this hot, perhaps even hotter. It is simply not working for me/us.

So, nothing to post about in terms of any long rides. But, on the bright side, I played Ping Pong for 3 hours tonight, non-stop. I played real hard. It almost feels like my right arm is gonna drop out of its socket.

Hopefully, we will get some rain or something and get a break from this HEAT!

Stay cool and stay hydrated, y'all!

Peace :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Guilty as Charged : I did drive!

We drove to Duncan, Oklahoma early this morning. We had some super-important business to take care of!

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Chaka, the latest addition to our familia! Chaka is approximately 10-12 weeks old and she is a Chow Chow puppy.
 We adopted Chaka from the Stephen County Humane Society in Duncan, OK. Chaka's mother and sister are available for adoption as well. They will make a great addition to any family.
 Chaka resting on her dad's chest.
Shaggy is a bit jealous, but he is happy. He is not mopin' around today, like he did everyday since Lea's departure. We are thankful!
No riding today, but I might ride to the Irving Public Library tomorrow.

Hope your weekend is a fun one!

Peace :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sweet Chayote-Coconut Curry

Chayote squash is one of my favorite vegetables. On Monday, I prepared a new dish: Sweet Chayote-Conconut Curry. This dish requires no red chilies or black pepper, and hence the end product is actually a bit sweet, which is great. I posted another recipe for a Chayote Squash Stew once before, but this new recipe is quite different from that one.
 
Ingredients:
6 Chayote Squash - peeled and diced
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
5 Tbsp shredded coconut (fresh/frozen/dry)
1 Tsp cumin
1 Tsp Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp of finely chopped ginger root
1 Tsp White Lentil (Urad Dal)
2 Tbsp shredded curry leaves
4-6 curry leaves (A)
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
3 strands of cilantro (B)

1/2 cup filtered water
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of Asafoetida

Preparation:
In a blender or a food processor, grind the curry leaves (A), the 3 strands of cilantro (B), cumin and the coconut into a paste.

Heat up the oil in a large pan.
When the oil is hot, turn down the heat.
Add the mustard seeds. Cover with lid.
Add the asafoetida, curry leaves, ginger.
Add the chopped Chayote squash.
Add 1 cup of water, turn down the heat. Let simmer.

After the Chayote pieces are cooked (tender if poked with a fork)...
Add the spice paste.
Stir!

Simmer for a few minutes until the mix is not too runny (until much of the added water has evaporated).
Stir frequently!!

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro!

Add salt to taste!

Serve piping hot or at room temp! This dish tastes good hot or warm.

Bon appetit' :)

Radish Sambar

Asian Radish, Onions and Tomato Sambar
Mullangi/Muli/Daikon is a variety of Asian Radish. It is juicy and delicious when cooked properly. I prepared Radish Sambar with Onions and Tomatoes on Monday. It was not a "traditional" dinner, but we were happy with the outcome.
There are two common ways of preparing sambar: a) use ready-made sambar powder/mix b) make your own sambar wet-mix. I consider the latter the real McCoy and I personally like the taste of sambar prepared using the latter technique.

I posted a recipe for Onion and Tomato Sambar, once before. The recipe I used this time is very similar, except for a couple of changes.

Ingredients:
Toor daal 2-3 cups
Tamarind paste - 1 Tsp
Tomatoes - about 4, diced/sliced
Asian Radish - about 3, diced into tidbit-sized chunks
Pico de Gallo - 2 cups (make your own or buy)
Onions - 2 cups - chopped
Coriander seeds - 1 Tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
Red Chilies - 5-6
Fenugreek Seeds - 1 Tsp
Shredded Coconut - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
Sesame seed oil - 2-3 Tbsp
Garnish: chopped curry leaves and cilantro

Preparation:
  1. Cook the lentils until soft in a pressure-cooker or in a conventional sauce pan.
  2. In a sauce pan, dry-roast the coriander seeds, cumin, red chilies.
  3. Grind the the ingredients from step 2 and the grated coconut in a blender. Use little water (the mix should be moist/wet but not runny).
  4. Add 2 cups of water. Once the water starts to boil, add the cooked daal and the spicy paste from step 3, to the water. Turn down the heat a notch or two. Add the tamarind paste, turmeric and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir the mix so the lentils don't stick to the bottom of the vessel.
  5. Add salt to taste and garnish with cilantro and the chopped curry leaves.
  6. Add the sesame seed oil and stir.
Here is the finished product!
Bon appetit' :)

2011 Irving Independence Day Parade

I have posted about the 2011 Irving Independence Day Parade here.

Peace :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

2011 Irving Independence Day Parade


Brahma and I participated in the 2011 Irving Independence Day Parade in Irving's Historic district this morning. Brahma was decorated for the occasion.

We were to ride behind Float # 16 at the parade. Float # 16 was the "Environmental Awareness/Green" float! It turned out that there were only three bicycle riders (official riders in the parade). I did see a few other cyclists.
We left home at 7 AM and rode the Campion Trail to get to O'Connor. The trail had quite a few users on it. I am sure they were trying to avoid getting baked in the hot Texas sun later.
When I got to the venue, the place was hoppin'. They even had some very cool clowns. The skating monkey (and the skating bear) were very entertaining. I am sure the kids loved them. I did!
Float # 16, in all its glory!
DART Bus # 19!
Cool vintage looking car. I chatted with the owner and he told me all about it.

It ran on gas, using a lawnmower engine. That's not bad, for a toy!

Frant instructing school kids who volunteered to pass out various goodies during the parade.
Ambassadors of the environment!
More ambassadors of the environment!
The second rider in the parade. This gentleman was a teacher and was very nice to talk to.
What's a parade without a marching band? I felt sorry for these kids carrying all the heavy music equipment though. It was getting to be quite hot by the time the parade began at 9 AM.
The guy who rode the Trek below did not ride it in the parade, but he rode it to the parade and he was a volunteer, who manned certain stations on our float. Trek aluminum bike? Hmmm...
The grandest participant of all, my little buddy...
The super-cool skating bear and her companion.
I didn't get a close-up of the dude that was sitting in this float/car. He was a President Obama look-alike.
There were some Model T cars at the parade. These autos add flair to parades.
T2!
I was quite hot during the parade. You see the fountain in the distance? When our float reached that fountain I was so wanting to go jump in the fountain.
There were a total of 90 odd floats at the parade. I was glad I was behind Float # 16.
Some super cool Mexican dancers. The music that the band in the truck was playing was very nice. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Mexican music is quite limited and so I can't tell you what kind it was. But believe me, it was awesome :)
The band that played the Mexican dance music.
Little horse. I hope he got to drink lots of water.
Hot Dog --- I mean Grey Hound!
Soon as our float completed the parade, I started heading back home. On the way back, hid in the shade around the canal in downtown Las Colinas.
Canal view # 1
Canal view # 2.
Canal view # 3. This area is popular for wedding photographers. I see many a couple getting their wedding photos taken here.
After hanging out in downtown Las Colinas, I took the trail back home.

I had a great time at the parade. There were somethings that could have been done better:
  1. I think handing out the candy during the parade might have been better than throwing it from the floats. Candy was simply thrown out from several floats and many a piece did not reach its intended audience. There was a lot of candy on the streets. I suppose it can be cleaned-up, but why waste?
  2. I saw several copies of the Constitution on the streets during the parade. I picked-up each one of them and handed them to people who wanted them. Constitution lying on the street? That to me is definitely not cool. Perhaps the organizers would consider a more careful approach to the dispersal of our Constitution.
  3. There were not enough portable toilets around the parade area. It was a very hot day and if people were to keep hydrated, they would also need a bathroom. Something to consider for the next year?
  4. There was no water fountain along the parade route. Having portable water fountains would be a great addition. I think it is better than handing out bottled water.
  5. I had the American Flag on my bike and no one honked at me today. I do not know if it was because there was not enough traffic on the road or because Brahma was decorated properly. But I felt very fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in a very important celebration, for the first time.
Hope you had a great day as well!

Happy American Independence Day!!

Peace :)