Russian Salad

January 6, 2011

If you have ever had Waldorf Salad it is similar to Russian Salad because it has a similar mayo based dressing and combination of different fruits and vegetables. I can’t tell you where Russian Salad originates or anything like that because it’s hard to find online.

But I can tell you that the first place I had Russian Salad was in India and that’s the only place I ever had it. Usually at potlucks and family dinners. So, my sister in law Hafsa and I decided to make it for everyone here and it turned out amazing! The combination of vegetables and fruits seems weird at first but they actually go really well together. And like Waldorf salad that has a mayo based dressing, this one includes sour cream which brings a really great creamy texture to the dressing.

Please use the following recipe as a guideline, as the measurements for the fruits and vegetables will be better to understand after the first time you make it. Plus you will get a better idea of what ingredients you like and what you don’t.

Russian Salad Recipe:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup of green beans
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 16 oz can of pineapple tidbits
  • 2 cups of grapes
  • 1 green apple and 1 red apple
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few teaspoons of sugar

Cut the carrots and green beans into half inch strips and set aside. Peel and dice the potatoes into bite size pieces as well and set aside. Boil all three of these vegetables (separately since they have different cooking times) until they are cooked but still have a bite to them. You shouldn’t overcook them because they will become too mushy in the salad and that won’t be good!

Next cut the grapes in half, dice the apples into small pieces, and drain the pineapple tidbits and set aside.

Place all the vegetables and fruits into a large bowl. Whisk together the sour cream, mayo, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar until smooth. Then pour over the salad mixture and combine. Refrigerate overnight, it tastes best when it’s very very cold.

[the picture above is garnished on the part of my sister in law :-) with a tomato peel rose and mint leaves]

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A Vegetarian Style Chili

October 6, 2010

Do you ever wonder how many things we make a mental note of throughout our lives? And we don’t exactly get back to half of those things due to our own laziness or maybe it’s just “memory overload.”

I tend to make notes of recipes that I want to make. Half of them I remember, half of that half I remember I’m too lazy to partake in the extensive labor to make the dish, and the rest of the half I manage to make happily :-)

For some reason I have wanted to make chili for the longest time. I figure its because of my love for soup-ish things.

After eating a bowl of the chili I made my brother says “this is a great vegetable stew”…. I guess what I made isn’t technically ‘chili’ because it’s vegetarian. But, I got the recipe from Simply Recipes and if they call it chili then I am calling it chili too.

The recipe is called spicy vegetarian chili and when I saw the picture of it I knew that it would be really good (seriously go look at it then come back you’ll see what I’m talking about.) The ingredients in this dish are very different from a typical chili making it healthier and so much more colorful. It has so many great vegetables in it; its a perfect “end of summer” kind of dish.

Like the recipe says, the level of spicy-ness is up to you. I put 1 jalepeno pepper and it ended up to be pretty darn spicy so I would recommend you put half of one. And start out with a teaspoon of chili powder not a tablespoon.

Vegetarian Chili (From Simply Recipes)

Yield: 8-10 servings

  • 2 medium eggplants cut into cubes
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 medium zucchini chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1-2 jalaepno peppers seeded and diced (start out with half of 1)
  • a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 Tbsp chili powder (start out with a teaspoon)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • a 15 oz can of white beans (drained)
  • a 15 oz can of kidney beans (drained)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • a teaspoon of sugar
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

First thing you need to do is roast the eggplants by putting them on a baking sheet, drizzling a few tablespoons of olive oil on them, covering it with foil and putting them in a 350° preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Next put a large soup pot on the stove and heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the onions in the olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute then add the bell peppers, zucchini, and jalapeno peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring every now and then.

Next, add the tomatoes, oregano, cumin, fennel seeds, and chili powder. Mix well. Add in the eggplant and stir carefully so you don’t mush them up, simmer for about 20 minutes with the lid on.

Finally, add in the white and kidney beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cilantro, salt, pepper. Mix and simmer for 5 more minutes. Done! :-)

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

September 8, 2010

Ohmygoodness it’s almost Fall

Has Summer really gone by that quickly? College starting back up and Labor Day are my annual reminders that fall is just around the corner. It must have reached about 5o degrees last week after being in the 90’s for nearly the whole Summer. And regardless of how cold it was I was more excited than anything because I realized I get to bust out all of my cold weather recipes… in other words: soup!

Me and my dad are particularly fond of soups in our family. For us, it’s the ultimate comfort food. He actually makes this amazing french onion soup that I will probably post up here one of these days. But anyway, when I found the recipe for this hungarian mushroom soup I remember thinking how much he’s going to like it, turns out he loves it.

I have so many soup recipes to try out but I had all the ingredients to make this one so I thought I would go for it. I made it last Sunday for dinner and my family absolutely loved it including me, it’s definitely something I am going to make again (and again and again.)

The unique ingredients are what make this soup so good: dill, paprika, soy sauce and lemon juice meld so well together creating an interesting twist on a familiar taste. If you are a fan of cream of mushroom soup then you will adore this recipe. If you are not too excited about fall coming then just remember we still have a little bit of summer left :)

Hungarian Mushroom Soup (From Allrecipes)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used olive oil)
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used regular white ones )
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed (or fresh dill)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (key ingredient)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim milk)
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • handful of chopped parsley (or cilantro)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (extra for garnish)

Heat the butter/oil in a large pot over medium heat. Throw the onions in and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with lid on.

In a separate bowl mix the milk and flour together. Pour this mixture into the soup and stir well. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes stirring occasionally.

Finally stir in the salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately.

Cholay (Curried Chickpeas)

August 20, 2010

So, we are in the midst of Ramadan and I would just like to wish any Muslim readers a blessed Ramadan! All kinds of good eats are made during this month, makes me wonder why we don’t eat this food year-round but I guess that is what makes holidays so special: the atmosphere, the traditions, the food.

Yesterday I decided to make Cholay and it turned out especially good. I love making this dish because it is so easy.  The whole thing is just chicpeas cooked with all kinds of good spices and you make everything in one pot which is my kind of cooking. Everybody makes Cholay differently and has their own variation of spices but nobody makes cholay like my mom. And… nobody will take her recipes and jazz them up except for me :) So here is my adapted version of “mummi’s cholay.”

Cholay Recipe                                                                                                                             serves 8-10 (you can easily reduce the recipe in half)

  • 2 28oz cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped (half reserved for garnish)
  • 2 red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil to cook everything
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to your taste)
  • 1/2 a teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chaat masala (and extra for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • a handful of cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan or wok and fry half of the red onion until golden. Add tomatoes and cook until it becomes like a paste.

To the tomato and onions add ginger and garlic paste, chili powder, turmeric and salt…fry it well until you get a dark red color.

To the mixture, add diced potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. This will cook the potatoes about half way. Then add 2 cans of chic peas and stir until incorporated well with everything.

You will need to cook this for a while. Cover the pot with the lid and let everything cook, the potatoes are not fully cooked so this will take time; about 15 minutes. Give everything a big stir every now and then but keep the lid on.

Add the water,  tamarind paste, lemon juice, cumin, chaat masala and last the cilantro– mix well! Check to see if the potatoes are done, if not keep cooking, if they are then turn off the heat.

How I served it: Pour it into a big platter, garnish with the other half of the red onion, a dollop of plain yogurt, and lots of chaat masala.