Butter Croissants and Coffee

One of the most best aromas on a beautiful morning

Samosa Chaat

Snack a little

Seekh Kabab

Try something different!

Decadent Chocolate

Do not forget to indulge once in a while

Steamed goodness

Various cooking methods bring variety in your palette

Monday, November 16, 2015

Spicy Cumin Beef

Food hopping in NYC is one of our favorite things to do. One spot we never fail to miss is Cafe China in Manhattan. I first came across this place while watching Unique Eats on the cooking channel. They specialize is Sichuan cuisine, so its quite spicy that appeals to our tastebuds. I guess it's because my husband went in with low expectations thinking nowhere in America can you find the real spicy food. This blew him away, so much that he actually craves for it! Lol!
One of our favorite dishes is the spicy cumin lamb, apart from their dan dan noodles, chungkiang chicken and 3 pepper chicken. The lamb is personally my favorite. I also heard about Xian Famous foods being quite popular for their spicy lamb noodles, and spicy lamb burger. So on our anniversary this year, we stopped by to see if it was as good as Cafe China. Pretty spot on I gotta say!
Now that we've tried this thing in a couple of different places, I had to try and make it at home. I didn't have lamb on hand unfortunately, so used thinly sliced beef instead. I was amazed at how simple it was to make this dish. Now I gotta find me some lamb next time!

Beef - 1 lb.
Cumin seeds - 2 tbsp
Sichuan peppercorns - 1 tsp
Onion - 1, medium
Garlic - 2 tsp, minced
Green chillies - 3 small or one large bamana pepper - sliced thin
Scallions - 2 stalks, chopped (separate whites from green part)
Cilantro - handful, coarsely chopped (almost whole sprigs)
Chilli oil - 4 tbsp.
Salt - a pinch
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Tapioca starch or corn starch - 2 tbsp
Chinese 5 spice powder - 2 tsp
Cumin powder - 2 tsp
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Hoisin sauce - 1 tbsp
Light soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Chingkiang vinegar (chinese black vinegar) - 1 tbsp
Shaoxing rice wine - 1 tsp

Toast sichuan peppercorns (1 tsp) and cumin seeds (2 tbsp) in a pan on medium heat. Grind coarsely.
Cut beef in thin slices (bite size). Add salt, cooking oil, baking soda, tapioca starch, 5 spice powder, and cumin powder. Mix thoroughly.
Chop up some onion (large chunks), cilantro with stalks and scallions.
Mix hoisin sauce, soy sauce, chingkiang vinegar, shaoxing rice wine and a teaspoon of chilli oil in a bowl and keep aside.
Cook beef in chilli oil in a large wok on high heat. Set aside. Do not put all the beef in at once. I cooked small amounts in 5 batches, or the wok will cool down quickly and the beef with stew rather than sear and toughen up.
After taking out all the beef, coat surface of wok with oil and add green chilies, garlic, onion and chili powder.
Then add beef/lamb, cumin & sichuan peppercorns, and cilantro. Add sauce mixture. Stir fry for another 4 minutes till sauce is absorbed by the beef. Serve hot with steamed rice, noodles or even in a bun.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Peach and Goat Cheese Tartine

This was a spur of the moment invention. I had some store-bought pizza crust, goat cheese, arugula and peaches that needed to be consumed immediately. So I combined them all on a lazy Sunday morning and it turned out to be pretty good. Even the photos turned out so good, I posted them on instagram instantly. CNN food shortlisted the above photo for their 5 breakfast ideas article. Click on this link to check it out. This was so exciting and rewarding!

Peaches - 2 pcs., sliced thinly
Brown sugar - 2 tbsp
Butter - 2 tbsp, melted

Goat Cheese - 2 tbsp
Cream Cheese - 1 tbsp
Mozzarella Cheese - 4 or 5 slices
Pizza Crust, half baked - small (square or rectangle shape preferred.
Arugula - small bunch
Olive oil - 2 tsp


First prepare the peaches by slicing them thinly and arranging them on a buttered baking sheet.
Drizzle melted butter over the peaches and brush them to distribute evenly (or pat them with the back of a spoon). Sprinkle brown sugar over the peaches. Broil in oven for 8 minutes.

Mix the cream cheese and goat cheese together. Spread it evenly on the pizza crust. Drizzle olive oil and bake for 10 mins in a 450 degree F oven, or until cheese starts to brown slightly. Take the pizza out and arrange arugula over the top. Then place mozzarella slices (optional). Arrange peach slices in groups of two or three as shown in picture. This would make it easy to cut the pizza into equal pieces.
Bake again for another 3 minutes. Divide into equal portions and serve.
You can also use slices of french bread (baguette) instead of pizza crust.
A photo posted by Ancy Alexander (@ancyalexander) on

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fresh Apple Cake

Apples are in season. My neighbor, Kathy, made this amazing apple cake one weekend, and was kind enough to share two pieces with us. She even included a print of the recipe for us, in case we wanted to know if we were allergic to any of the ingredients, like nuts. Being Indians, I guess we're lucky not to be allergic to most ingredients. The cake was so moist and it had a beautiful glaze over it. We loved it so much that we decided to make a whole batch next time we got apples. And it was simply amazing, just like Kathy's! Special thanks to her.
The recipe was from the Deen family.

No pictures for this post. Sorry. Will post it when I bake this again.

Honey Glaze:

    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    2 tablespoons honey
    2 tablespoons milk

Apple Cake:

    3 cups diced Granny Smith apples, about 2 apples
    1 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 cups sugar
    1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
    3 eggs


Glaze: Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and stir until smooth. Set the bowl aside.
If you don't have readymade confectioner's sugar like me, just powder some regular sugar in a spice grinder, until its fine like dust.

Cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a Bundt pan or tube pan. I used a large rectangular pan for lack of these.

In a bowl, mix together the apples, walnuts, vanilla, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Using an electric mixer beat the sugar and oil, in a large bowl, until its well creamed for about 10 minutes. Break eggs into this one by one, beating well with each addition. Add in the dry ingredients and mix gently until well incorporated. About 10 folds and that's it, just stop and walk away. You don't want to mix it too much and activate the gluten. Now fold in the apple mixture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to fully cool in the pan, about 1 hour, and then turn it out onto a plate.

Drizzle the apple cake with some of the honey glaze, serve and enjoy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Ash gourd - 2 cups, cubed
Red beans - 1 cup - soaked overnight and cooked with salt
Coconut milk - 1 cup (preferably fresh, not canned)
Green chillies - 3 - 4, slit in half
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp


Cook red beans with some salt and keep aside.
Cook ash gourd with very small amount of water and salt, covered on medium heat.
Once half cooked, add the red beans and cook uncovered until almost all water has evaporated.
Add coconut milk, leaves and cumin powder. Continue heating until it just starts to boil. Stop the heat and take it off the stove.
Heat coconut oil and splutter mustard seeds.
Add the oil into the olan. Serve with rice.

Chinese chicken dumplings

Minced chicken - 1 lb.
Shitake mushrooms (dried, soaked and squeezed dry) - 1/4 lb. (half a packet)
Napa cabbage - 5 leaves, shredded (marinated for 20 mins with salt and squeezed)
Sambal - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 1 clove, minced fine
Ginger, minced - 2 tbsp
White pepper powder - 2 tsp
Scallions - 2 stalks, minced fine
Hoisin sauce - 2 tbsp
Light soy sauce - 2 tbsp
Lime zest - 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 tsp
Gyoza wrappers - 1 packet


Mix all ingredients except wrappers. Marinate in refrigerator for at least half an hour.

Fill a small bowl with water.
To assemble dumplings: Spoon 1 teaspoon of chicken mixture and place into center of wrapper. Dip the tip of your finger into the small bowl of water and run your finger along the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over to create a half moon shape, or a triangle if using square wrappers. Pinch the edges of the wrapper starting in the middle to seal, making sure all air has been removed.

To cook dumplings: Place a steamer lined with baking paper over simmering water.
Cook dumplings, in batches, for 15 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Serve.

Chinese dumpling sauce

Low sodium light soy sauce - 3 tbsp
Tamari - 2 tbsp
Coconut aminos - 1 tbsp (optional)
Sesame oil (i used chilli sesame oil) - 2 tbsp
Malt vinegar - 2 tbsp
Coriander root and stems, chopped fine (cilantro) - 2 tbsp
Ginger, minced fine or grated - 2 tbsp
Green onions, finely chopped - 2 tbsp (1 stalk)
Sweet chili sauce - 1 tsp.


Mix all ingredients and let marinate for at least half an hour before serving.
Taste and adjust as per your liking.
For an extra kick, I also ground some sichuan pepper corns and sifted it to let a small sprinkling of it into the sauce.
If you have regular sesame oil, then use 2 tbsp sesame oil and 1/2 tsp chilli oil or to taste.
I was making dumplings too, so sprinkled a small amount of garlic in the sauce too (that I was going to use for dumplings).
Sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds on it too if you like.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Zero-oil Tomato Sambar

I've made this sambar a few times now. Its a one pot meal that requires no effort except for prepping the veggies. When in a hurry, I only use tomatoes and make a tomato sambar. You can add additional veggies to this recipe.
Veggies that go well in this sambar are spinach, carrots, beans,  snake gourd (padavalanga), drumsticks, ivy gourd (tindora/kovakka),sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro (cheppankezhangu/chembu/arbi), bell pepper, green peas.

Lentils – 1 cup (use toor dal/masoor dal/moong dal/ or a mixture of these)
Tomatoes – 3, chopped
Onions – 1, chopped
Green chillies – 3, chopped fine
Ginger – 1″ thick, minced
Garlic – 4 cloves, minced
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Sambar powder – 3 tbsp.
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Water – 2 cups
Additional veggies are optional – eg. carrots, beans, snake gourd (padavalanga), drumsticks (moringa oleifera), ivy gourd (tindora/kovakka), sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro (cheppankezhangu/chembu/arbi), bell pepper, green peas.
Salt to taste
Cilantro – a handful, chopped


Add all ingredients into a pressure cooker and cook for 2 to 3 whistles. After it’s cooked, sprinkle the cilantro over the top – do not forget this step because it lends the tomato sambar that signature flavor. It’s that simple!

You can have it with brown rice, and a side of other veggie dishes. Or on its own like soup.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Stuffed Karelas in makhani gravy

Adapted from Tarladalal.com

For stuffed karelas:
Karelas - 8 small nos. or 4 large
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Moong dal - 1/2 cup
Green chilli - 1, sliced thin
Ginger - 1" piece
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cilantro (coriander leaves) - a small bunch, minced fine

For makhani gravy
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Ginger - 1"inch piece
Garlic - 6 cloves
Tomatoes - 3
Cashews - small handful
Cinnamon - 2 sticks (about 2 inches)
Cloves - 6 nos.
Red bell pepper (capsicum) - 1 chopped or Red pumpkin - 1 cup chopped
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Tomato ketchup - 1 tsp (optional)
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) - a pinch
Low fat milk - 1/2 cup
Cornflour - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Cilantro - for garnish


Stuffed karelas
Wash the karelas and Peel the bitter gourd and keep the peel aside for use in another recipe (Karela Theplas).
Slit each one lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, scoop out the insides carefully creating a hollow in the centre. Apply a little salt to the inside and outside of the bitter gourd and keep aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the soaked moong dal (1/2 cup), 1 green chilli, ginger, turmeric powder and salt and mix well.
Add ½ cup of water, cover and allow the dal to cook on a slow flame till it is soft and sticky.
Add the coriander leaves and mix well. Cool a little.
Fill this mixture into the bitter gourd and steam them for 10 to 15 minutes till they are cooked (I baked them at 350 degrees for 15 mins, then turned them and continued to bake for 10 mins. turned the other side and baked further 10 mins and then changed heat to broil for 5 mins). Cut each karela into 2 and keep aside - my karelas were small so I did not do this.

Makhani gravy
Make ginger garlic paste.
In a saucepan - 3 tomatoes, 1 medium onion, small handful of cashews, 2 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves, red capsicum (original recipe uses pumpkin) with just enough water and cook over medium heat till tomatoes are soft. Allow to cool completely. then strain (save the water) and puree it.
In the saucepan (i washed it again), heat 2 tsp oil and add cumin seeds. Then fry the ginger garlic paste till raw smell goes away. Then add the puree. Add the strained water. Simmer for 7 minutes or so. Add a teaspoon of tomato ketchup, add kashmiri red chilli powder (2 tsp), salt and sprinkle some kasoori methi. Take half cup of low fat milk and mix 1/2 tsp cornflour to it. pour this into the gravy. Adjust salt. It will thicken soon.
Add the cooked stuffed karelas and submerge it. sprinkle some cilantro over it.