Friday, July 31, 2009

Fat-free potato chips are my savior?

This recipe goes completely to Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

So these are simple,

I started with two golden potatoes - which are delicious already.

Peel and thinly slice potatoes - if you have a slicer, they will be even and nice, but don't worry, cause I don't have a slicer and I was able to slice some nice slivers of my potatoes. Not perfect, but decent all things considering.

Then lay the slices out a piece of parchment paper. (Don't use a paper towel - I did this when I ran out of parchment paper - no go! the potato slices stick like nobodys business. Also, don't do plates, they stick worse to plates then paper towels). Then salt, ensure you don't don't oversalt cause after the first 10 pieces the salt can get to you. (You can add other seasonings, but I recommend getting the basics down. Its amazing how simple of a recipe it is and yet how easy it is to screw up)

Then microwave (Fat Free Vegan Kitchen says 4-6 mins) till the chips are starting to bubble and brown.

Stop the microwave for at least 1 min, then cook it till they look goldenish. Not all will be goldenish, since in my case the outside ring of slices cooked almost till burnt and the inside was slighty under done. In cases such is that, removed the finished ones and continue cooking.


So yummy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Corn nu Shaak and a Strange Pasta Dish

First of all - what is shaak? Well shaak is a traditional Indian style vegetable dish. It can either be dry or liquidy. Dry shaak is more like a spicy saute, where as liquidy shaak is more like a stew.

So today's dinner started off with two thoughts - the first was - I have a fresh corn in the fridge and I should use it before it goes bad. The second thought was I have sweet potato bisque (from trader joe's) and I'm just not in the mood for soup, so how can I use it.

So we'll start with the corn. I decide to make corn nu shaak - which means shaak with corn. This shaak contains the following ingredients (Thanks to my buddy Prati for this recipe)

can of blended diced (or crushed tomatoes)
fresh corn, shucked and frozen corn (you can do all frozen)

the sauce consists of the following:
mustard seeds
cumin seeds
cayenne pepper
chick pea flour
crush peanuts
honey (can use sugar, brown is preferred, I like honey for tomato based sauces)
and oil

So I heated the oil up (for a vaghar)
once the oil was warm, I added
mustard seeds - when they popped I added
cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, chick pea flour and crushed peanuts

I sauted them for a bit and as they finished cooking I added the blended tomatoes

let that cook for awhile, then add in the frozen corn and continue to cook - total cooking time - 20 mins or so - the corn should be cooked through.

add honey to cut the sour taste of the tomatoes and salt to taste.

Now the experiment - the sweet potato bisque from trader joes (so if it was winter time I would have gobbled this soup up in a day or two

This is the ingredients list - look soup without garlic or onions! But I had no desire to eat it. So I brain stormed with my buddy Ken and we came up with a casserole with penne pasta and the bisque used to make a sauce that mimicked cream sauce in texture and flavor.

So I boiled up some pasta - without oil!

and laid it out in a casserole dish, and used the pasta water water to make the sauce -

Trader Joe's sweet potato bisque
ground pepper
parmesan cheese - I recommend the good stuff, but I used both the big container and the good stuff (cause I ran out)
cayenne pepper
salt to taste
water to thin the sauce

So I just threw the above into a pot, boiled it up for a bit, adjusted the flavor and added it to the casserole dish

then add the veggies - I only had purple carrots (you could use any carrots, or no carrots - it didn't add much to the dish other then veggies)

The carrots look a lot prettier then in this picture - they are really nice looking carrots - just purple!

I tossed everything together, sprinkled shredded provolone an top and popped into a 350º F oven and cooked for probably 20 - 30 min (everything is cooked except the carrots) you just want the sauce to thicken, the cheese to melt and the veggies to soften a bit.

Let it cool for a bit and serve

I serve with toasted bread crumbs (I later discovered this was not necessary but when I took the casserole out I felt it missing some texture, so I toasted it up, but upon eating it I realized it wasn't necessary at all)

So the verdict - yummy! It looks like pasta and dal, but its yummy! Pictures don't do the flavor justice. So pasta and a sweet potato sauce - Yummy and filling (though a little high on the carb factor, not a perfect meal)

Note on the purple carrots - the verdict is still out in my book if I like the carrots from the market, but research does say that more natural colors in one's diet ensures that we get a variety of useful chemical, including a variety of anti-oxidants (chemicals that help prevent DNA damage and thereby prevent cancer). In addition, in the wild carrots were never just the bright orange we associate them with, instead they came in a wide variety of shades. So celebrate diversity in vegetables. Don't let the media tell you what color your carrot should be.

(I want a blue carrot, blue anyone? See one recently?)


Alrighty, let's get down and dirty into this whole Swaminarayan Diet ordeal. The main components of the diet? No meat, no eggs, no onions, no garlic and no gelatin. Yes, this means no skittles, starbursts, majority of cakes/donuts/cookies/brownies and almost ALL food you get in restaraunts because of the onions and garlic. So...what exactly do we Swaminarayans eat? Do we starve oursleves? Let me simply put this...NO! As you can see from Mira's mouth-watering cake, we most definitely found our way around the food we cannot eat and turn it into something we can eat. It takes some experimenting, but afterall, that's the fun part, right? So..just a quick reason as to why we don't eat these things which you all probably feel like make food taste very delicious. We don't believe in killing or harming animals even for sacrificial purposes. We treat all living things equally and therefore we cherish the animals in our world. This includes eggs because the chicks do havea chance to live. The no to onions and garlic is more character based. It has been studied and reported that people who eat onions and garlic are more likely to be angry and have a short temper. And why should we eat the anger-causing food when there are a plethora of other spices which make food taste just as yummy?? Another big thing in our diet is that we don't cook with alcohol. We don't drink alcohol and nor do we add it into our food. So no rum cake or wine vinegeratte. i don't think i need to go into detail about why we don't drink alcohol. It's simple..we don't want to damage our liver nor do we want something which is going to intoxicate us going into our bodies.

So in short, the point of this blog as was earlier mentioned is to make all sorts of recipes ranging from cakes, brownies, tiramisu, cheescake and pudding to enchilladas, pizza, soups, sandwhiches and stir-fried vegetables which are ALL Swaminarayan diet-friendly! You must try the recipes and see just how flavorful everything is!

Just remember to have fun, be yourself and enjoy what you're making. The main ingredient is love!


Hello and Jai Swaminarayan,

Welcome to our blog, which is an attempt to create crazy concoctions that happen to taste good (well that's just the chemist talking). If you like what you see please comment and harass us to cook more. We will try our best to take pictures, improve pictures, improve our writing, etc

If you have recipes you would like to contribute, please let Ruchi or myself know, we would love to have both short term and long term contributers as long as its within the guidelines of the Swaminarayan diet.

Now for some sillyness.

Cake on my counter - see heavy cream in background

Cake in the fridge - see all sorts of yummy in there.

Cake in the fridge. (Why is there a Triscuit box in there?)

This is a giant cake that I made for a pot luck dinner (recipe to follow, maybe tomorrow), but this cake wasn't supposed to be a giant cake. It was originially supposed to be half the size, two round cakes with chocolate and strawberries as part of the filling. But I doubled the recipe, without realizing that the recipe was already for two round cakes. So instead of a reasonably sized chocolate cake (yum, chocolate!) it was a giant chocolate cake. (Oh and I was lucky that I had parchment paper sticking out of the cake pan, cause each cake grew out of the pan - way out! On a side note - this is the one an only time I have ever taken the time to decorate the cake, normally its make cake, eat cake for me.