Kashmiri Collards

Kashmiri Collards
Modified from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe

Wash a bunch of collards.
Slice the stems (ribs) from the leaves. Discard the stalk if it was harvested.

Finely chop the stems (ribs).
In a very large pot, 
add 3 TBSP of vegetable oil,
2 chopped cayenne peppers,
3 TBSP minced garlic.
Cook about a minute then add the chopped stems.
Stir to mix well.
Cook just a minute or two more to allow the garlic to cook, but not burn.
Then add just enough water to cover the stems.
Cook about 15-20 minutes, allowing the stems to change from bright green to dark green.
Add 2-3 vegetarian bouillon cubes. Knorr works great for me.

Next- the leaves.
Gather bunches of leaves and roll like a cigar.
Slice through the roll thinly. 
When all the leaves are thinly sliced, add to the pot and add water an inch or two higher than the leaves.
Cook down 2 or 3 hours.

Allow the water to boil off leaving the seasoned greens behind. This is a very salty dish, so fewer bouillon cubes means less salt. If you've ever had Allen's Brand seasoned collards or mustard greens, you'll recognize the intense flavor.

Lentil Dal

Lentil Dal

Cook 1 cup of lentils until almost completely cooked

Fry together
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
in a small amount of oil- enough to coat the pan
until crackle

1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 diced onion
½ cup diced tomatoes
Fry until onions are cooked down

Add the fried mix to the lentils
and add
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Cook down until lentils are cooked, adding water as needed.

Finish with 1 tsp salt.

Adapted from The Indian Spice Kitchen: Essential Ingredients and Over 200 Authentic Recipes by Monisha Bharadwaj
Based on spicy yellow lentils recipe

Indian Anise Tea

Indian Anise Tea

Pour 1 Quart boiling water
over 4 Anise Stars and two Rooibos Tea bags
Stir in 2 TBSP honey

Steep 30 minutes and add
1 qt of water (ice or boiling) dependent upon the way you will serve.

Serve chilled over ice or hot with cinnamon stick and lemon slice.

Basic Raita


Heat until crackle
1 tsp Cumin seed
1 tsp Brown/Black Mustard seed
in a pan slightly oiled

Mix together
1 ¾ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp sugar
a good sprinkling of salt
1 medium cucumber seeded, very finely chopped
1 small roma tomato, very finely chopped

Add spiced oil to yogurt mix
Mix well
Top with a couple tsp of chopped cilantro

Serve cold.

Mixed Veggie Pulao

In a large skillet, add enough oil to coat the bottom.

½ TSP cumin seed
and heat over medium to crackle
Careful not to scorch the oil, so keep heat medium to low as all ingredients are added.

1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
8 peppercorns
1 chili, whole*
1 carrot, finely diced
Scant ¾ cup frozen peas, rinsed and drained
½ cup canned corn, drained
¼ cup canned green beans, drained
Stir fry together for several minutes.
*Keeping the chili whole will reduce the heat throughout the dish; chop for more flavor

In a microwavable 2 qt soufflé pan
1 cup long grain basmati rice
4 cardamom pods
1 TSP salt

Measure 3 cups of water
Stir enough water into frying pan to gather the spice and vegetables from the pan.
Add to rice.
Pour remaining water (so that all 3 cups of water will be used)
in with the rice and vegetables to the rice mix.

Microwave on high 20 minutes.

Adapted from the recipe for Pulao from
The Indian Spice Kitchen: Essential Ingredients and Over 200 Authentic Recipes by Monisha Bharadwaj

Why did I change the recipe?  To work in my sure fire, never fail, microwave rice recipe that I use as base when creating many dishes.
So what did I change? Because my rice recipe uses less rice, I cut all spice and veggies by half as a rule.  Whereas the original called for 4 chilis, I chose one to suit the children’s palate. In addition, the original called for 6 tablespoons of corn oil.  Vegetable oil is my choice and only enough oil was used to coat the pan.  By keeping the temperature med-low, I was able to fry everything adequately.

NEXT TIME- I recommend a smaller frying pan, deeper, medium width, so I can use even less oil.  The end product was slightly too oily for my personal taste.  Perhaps I can further reduce the need for much oil.
An idea would be to start with a minimal amount of oil mixed with the cumin seeds.  Allow the seeds to heat releasing the scent and flavor. Add the other ingredients, then add a small amount of the water to cook the veggies. The canned and frozen veggies don’t need much cooking.

REMEMBER- Remove cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods before serving. Give the chili pepper to the heat lover in your family.

My sure fire, never fail microwave rice recipe

1 cup long grain basmati rice**
3 cups cold water
2Qt soufflé pan or glass equivalent.
Microwave 20 minutes on high.
Stir and serve.

**This does not work with cheap white rice, which becomes mushy when cooked this way.  10,15, and 20 LB bags of basmati rice are available for sale at import and oriental stores for 50 cents to a $1 a pound. Most are bagged in burlap sacks with plastic bags inside.

Dalek details

Exterminate 15. Happy 16th.

Dalek Cake

For my daughter's 16th birthday, by request, a Dr Who Dalek cake. I only have a few baking pans and they are regular size so I made due with what I had. Most Dalek cakes are upright and use smallish round pans and a dome pan. Using an 8 inch round, an 9 x 13 (twice) and an 8x8, I created a single layer cake.
Below is a rough sketch of how I cut the cake up.
Row 1- The 8 inch round was cut below the half mark for the head.
Row 2- The middle section was the 8 x 8 with a slight modification. A narrow V was cut from the middle to give it a slight angle on the sides. The halves were slid together. Then the part touching the head was cut to allow it to touch the half circle. The bottom angles were cut to create a straight edge also.
Row 3- Two 9 x 13 cakes were baked. A narrow V was cut from the inside part of each cake. The parts were pressed together. I cut twice to ensure the top lined up with the middle section. This took a little patience to get it just right. The top was leveled off to ensure it lined up with the middle section. The bottom was left angled at a V.

I used 3 cake mixes. One mix was split between the head and middle section. Make certain the mix level is the same in both pans. Memorize the level. Each half of the bottom section is one cake mix each. Pour in enough mix to match the level of the first two pans. Set aside extra mix; I was able to make 6 cupcakes from the remains.
When cutting, remember to cut so that the cut edges press against each other. The outside of the cake should be baked, not cut, so it's easy to frost.
I covered cardboard with aluminum foil for the base. I used white canned frosting (3 QTY). Thick icing seals the raw edges and seams beautifully. The head is covered with silver sprinkles. The eye stalk is a chop stick cut and covered with AL foil. A champagne cork wrapped in black electrical tape is stuck onto the chop stick. It is topped with a watch tin that has a clear top, which I inserted blue construction paper into.
I am still debating the "ears" made of a split cupcake in AL cup. I like it with and w/o, but my 16 yr old daughter is hard core nerd...

The middle section is made of white mints and small Hershey's bars. The "arms" are AL wrapped chop sticks with construction paper weapons attached. I swear, the weapons look like a whisk and a plunger in all the pictures online.
The "skirt", the bottom is blue sprinkles topped with miniature Oreo cookies and Junior Mints at the bottom.

This looks better than the Tardis cake we commissioned from a bakery last year. Hope my daughter likes it.