September 2010 eRecipes

Blog: Cooking with Madhu

September 2010 eRecipes

 

September 2010
Menu Planning

Dear Madhu,

I recently went to Boston and spent a few days with my daughter and son-in-law. Although not planned as such, it turned out to be just as much a business trip as a family trip. I worked when they worked and spent evenings and the weekend with them. It’s great to see your children making lives for themselves.

Boston is a fun place to visit; it has a personality of its own with a mix of history and skyscrapers. It is well connected by commuter trains, subways, buses, and taxis. I love the Boston Common area, it’s packed with tourists and locals walking, talking, and just sitting and daydreaming. Did you know Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States? I walked for hours throughout the city (okay, I got lost a little) and had a blast. If you’ve never been to Boston, it’s worth a visit.

My Kayak Debut:
I’m beside myself, for now I can say I know how to kayak. Since the kids live near Charles River, we decided to try out kayaking. My son-in-law had been kayaking before but it was the first time for my daughter and me. She and I shared a two-person kayak, and after gliding into the riverbank a couple times we learned to work together and maneuver our way along the river. It was a great experience; I know I would do it again. And to all of you, if we can do it, you can do it.

Networking in Motion:
We’ve all heard about the importance of networking but this is the first time I saw it come together for me. I initially met Louisa Kasdon, a well-known food writer, at the Healthy Kitchen, Healthy Lives conference in March 2010 (check out her blog and articles on www.louisakasdon.com). After the conference I followed up with her and she invited me to come to Boston and record some videos for the website, www.how2heroes.com, where she is the Managing Editor. Sure enough, when in Boston, I recorded two cooking videos for the website. It was a great experience to work with a professional crew and the videos turned out great. I loved doing it and hope to do more videos in the future.

Learn to how to make Black Eyed Pea Dip and Quick Chickpea Curry in these cooking videos.

Through Louisa I also met Ranveer Brar, a Corporate Chef for One World Cuisine in Boston. I learned about One World Cuisine’s numerous and varied Indian restaurants in the Boston area. Then, Ranveer introduced me to Pushpir Bhetia of Guru the Caterer. He has two restaurants and sells homestyle Indian food. Boston is a hopping place for Indian food. It is always great to meet others doing work that complements your own.

I also met up with Deborah Chud in Harvard Square and we shared our passion for healthy and tasty foods. She has great recipes and ideas on healthy eating on her website, a doctor's kitchen.

Getting Dinner On The Table!: After you have worked 8-plus hours, it takes a lot of motivation and energy to get dinner on the table. If you struggle to make dinner after work, you’re not alone. A significant number of my clients fret over dinner and the process. On top of all the challenges comes the pressure of making meals healthy, balanced, and tasty. I love to cook (most of the time) and am fairly proficient but sometimes it’s still just a chore. Over the years, I have found some basic tricks that really reduce the time in the kitchen and make cooking easier.

Here are some of basic kitchen supply rules that need to be in place: 

1. Plan ahead. You must have some type of a menu plan for the week, primarily your dinner menus. Most of us eat similar foods throughout the week for breakfast and lunch. A little bit of planning goes a long way.

2. Keep a shopping list. Make a shopping list from your menus and keep a running list of things you need to replace. A list jogs your memory and saves time as you walk the supermarket aisles.

3. Shop once a week. If possible, shop once a week (maybe twice) for most of your grocery needs. Avoid extra shopping trips. Every time you stop at the grocery store you end up spending valuable time away from home and increasing your dinner prep time. With a little planning you can even buy enough perishables for the week, for example for fruits buy bananas, apples, or grapes along with seasonal fruits. Some fruits last longer than others.

4. Include a variety of staples: Make life easy by buying cleaned/bagged greens, frozen vegetables, and canned beans etc. These foods save time and are great fillers, if you run out of perishables.

5. Keep it Simple: Make simple and easy meals on workdays and more elaborate meals on days when you have more time.

6. Be flexible: Schedules change, unplanned things happen—don’t stress, just make something else from your list or whatever is in your pantry. 

Basically, having the ingredients on hand cuts down on meal planning significantly.

September Recipes:
Since menu planning is the theme of this month, here are three dishes that are great meal starters. Bean Burgers use canned chickpeas which makes them quick and easy to prepare. Serve these burgers with a salad for a complete meal. Pav-Bhaji—Veggie Sloppy Joe Sandwiches—are a street food of Mumbai. Pav means a bun and bhaji mean vegetables, thus it’s vegetables on a bun. The first time I saw a Sloppy Joe sandwich—ground meat on a bun, it reminded me of Pav-Bhaji. You just have to try it to believe what a delicious concoction it is. And for chicken lovers, make this quick and easy Blackened Chicken. Serve it with rice and salad for dinner, and for the best part the leftover chicken makes a great sandwich or a wrap to take for lunch.

Bean Burgers (Dal-Vada Burgers)
Veggie Sloppy Joe Sandwiches (Pav-Bhaji)
Blackened Chicken (Kali Mirch Murgh)

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Sincerely,
Madhu Gadia

PS: Check out The Indian Vegan Kitchen recipes featured in the October issue of Vegetarian Times magazine, page 48. Recipes are not available online.
 

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