July 24, 2010

Salade de Couscous.

If you are new to my blog, please read my Welcome Note first.

I love couscous. I like it prepared the traditional Maghrebin way (i.e North African) with either chicken, lamb or spicy beef sausages called Merguez or a combo of the three, all cooked in a nice juicy vegetable stew. And I don't even own a couscousier - the special perforated pot for the preparation of couscous.

But in the Summer, I avoid hot sauces and opt for salads instead. And what better way to still have couscous but served cold.

The recipe am about to give you is dead easy to prepare and is very tasty.

For 2 persons you will need the following ingredients :

- easy to cook couscous 2 cups (easy to cook couscous takes about 5 mn, doesn't require a couscousier and is as good)

- 2 cups of boiling salted water (as per the instructions on your couscous box - standard cooking instructions for easy to cook couscous)

- 1 large tin of Tuna fish in salted water (preferable to vegetable oil)

- 2 tins of sardines in olive oil

- 1/2 bell pepper red and 1/2 bell pepper yellow. Don't fret if you want to settle for green pepper bells alone but the red and yellow are preferable.

- 1 small can of corn

- 1 big tomato or two medium ones

- 1 spring onion

- 1 clove of fresh garlic (tastier than dried garlic)

- 1/4 tsp of ground cumin

- about half a pack of salad mix - roughly 250gr (lettuce, carrots, radish all chopped) alternatively you can chop your own - takes much longer)

- olive oil

- soya sauce or balsamic vinegar - I prefer soya with this.

Preparation :

- cook the couscous as indicated on your pack - usually 1 cup of boiling salted water for each cup of couscous. I add ground cumin to the water.

- once the couscous is tender and fluffy (use a fork to separate grains), I add a little olive oil instead of butter (I avoid butter in cooking)

- chop all your vegetables small (tomato, bell peppers, spring onion )

- fresh garlic finely minced.

- mix your tuna and sardines (small pieces not mashed)

- once your couscous is cold, add all the above, plus the salad mix, plus the corn. And mix well.

- the dressing consists of olive oil and soya sauce, or you may use balsamic vinegar. Soya is much nicer though with this.

- a dash of pepper to taste, no salt as the soya sauce is already quite salty.

Et voilà. Bon appétit

July 15, 2010

The Joy of Feeding...

Today I have a new recipe to share with you. This one will leave you full, satiated, fulfilled and it does not have many calories either...so you need not worry about your weight...

The ingredients you will need are simple and inexpensive and they will make a difference in your life and that of others....

Allow me to share with you a mail I received from a friend Garda Ghista. This lady is one hell of a great cook. She feeds many...her idea for a recipe is very appealing to me. I believe we should all do the same as she does. I will share the recipe she sent me this morning:

dear friends,

last night i wrote here after a long time something below. there has been a lot of struggle - physical, financial, mental and spiritual. we came here to Siliguri, North Bengal on May 2nd. On May 27th we began to feed the hungry people here. they are everywhere. one has to sometimes go on the back roads into small hamlets and communities outside the city to find them. they throng in scores around our auto rickshaw. the adults are serious. the chldren are thrilled. it happens again and again. it is a lot of work to cook food for 150 people up to three times a week. two huge pots of rice, then another pot of vegetables, then another pot of lentils or beans. then mix it all together into what is locally called "khichree." but, when we give the food, when the people take the food, the hours of labor are forgtten. there is a great joy to be found in this work of giving food to hungry people. afterwards many of them sit on the ground in circles and quietly eat. we see this as we are driving away. it feels good inside,

i understad, and it is enunciated on WPA, that many things are wrong in the world. politically, economically, culturally, morally and spiritually. it will take some kind of massive revolution, some kind of accelerated acceleration of global activity, to bring vast and rapid change everywhere so that the oppressed of the world are no longer oppressed. the question is, what do we do in the meantime, brothers and sisters? i am suggesting to you, let's please feed the people. let's feed the hungry. it is something, isn't it? let us fill the gap between present oppression and future liberation by feeding the hungry and helping them to see the sun of another day.

brothers and sisters. perhaps in the larger scheme of things, like population boom, climate change, and economic genocide of millions arond the globe, what to speak of biodevastation, this tiny work may not mean much. after all, we are feeding just a handful, a tiny tiny handful of that great entity called humanity. but this doesn't change the fact that it feels good to feed that tiny handful. it doens't change the fact that some mental peace comes seeing them eat the food. it doesn't change the fact that we begin to smile internally seeing them smile externally. hence, the work has to go on. just suppose if everyone who could, did something like this. it would change the world, isn't it? if say one out of every ten persons did this work, it would cause a moral, cultural and physical revolution in the world. there would be no more hungry people! a higher morality called 'not allowing any of our brothers and sisters to go hungry or starve or be without the minimum necessities' would be in force, isn't it. a higher culture would emerge which says, 'leave no one behind. take care of every single person. do not allow even one person to suffer or be without.' so while doing this smalll, very insignificant work, brothers and sisters, i cannot help but encourage you to do the same where you live. as i said above, it can cause a revolution in the best possible sense.

many things are needed, as expressed below. cash is required here to buy huge bags (quintals) of rice, because rice is what the people love best here. cash is required to purchase hundreds of kilos of vegetables every week. cash is required to purchase the beans and lentils so that a soiid source of protein is in the food. cash is required to purchase a few spices and oil,. because they need those extra calories. cash is also required to pay the auto rickshaw driver who takes us to all the people and helps to distribute the food. i know these are hard times. but if it is at all possible for you to send cash, please send using the Donate button on the site. alternately, you can send to me directly to Siliguri, using Western Union.

if you prefer to send in kind, there are many things required here. i have to organize a list. but off the cuff, paper plates and cups would be so useful. plastic bags - the ones from the supermarket that you are throwing away when you come home - if you could stuff them into a box and ship them seamail over here it would be invaluable. soap, brothers and sisters. the people we are feeding have never used a bar of soap before. please send soap. it is just a dollar or two or three for a packet, isn't it? i want them to have soap for bathing. it is a small thing. help me to make it possible. we are adding powdered milk to the rice to make it more nutrious. we also add dessicated cocnut for the same reason. these are cheap to buy and easy to send, isn't it? tomatoes cost a fortune here. please send tomato paste, tomato sauce and tomato soup. it can all go right into the vegetables to brighten up the taste and the lives. canned vegetables and fruits would be a godsend. peanut butter, so cheap in america, would also go right into the vegetables because it's an immediate source of protein, right? jams, jellies, honey, all will help. instant coffee, tea bags, and especially powdered gator aid, kool aid and jellos are invaluable here when the people recover from flu, which comes often and unannounced.

non-food items are also there. blankets are needed. temperatures will go below 60 degrees in winter and there is no central heating over here anywhere./ sheets and towels are also needed. sweaters and socks would be invaluable. all these things are so cheap at K Mart, Target, Walmart and other stores, right? just a few dollars, and a trip to the post office is what i'm asking for here. you will feel good to send something, isn't it? so please, i am requesting you, help me to feed the people here, help me to provide them other very basic necessities of life that are all just completely taken for granted in the US and other western countries. this is just the beginning. these are just the ideas floating in my mind. please just think if you can help, brothers and sisters. if you like to send in kind, please write to me at wpaeditor@gmail.com. i am waiting.


garda ghista

And here is another addendum to her mail :

Dear Readers,
Millions around the world today are struggling - for survival and maybe to do some work. We here at WPA are also struggling. We are struggling for survival, and we are also struggling to feed the hungry people here in India. There are millions of hungry people here. I do not know their names. I see their ramshackle houses, often made of nothing but pieces of tin or plastic. I see their serious faces as they take the food we offer them on sal leaves. I want to feed more and more people. Not only that, I want to provide other things for them also. I believe they have never seen or used a bar of soap. I would like to provide them bars of soap. It's a start, isn't it? I would like to provide them each with a set of new clothes. I wish I could build homes for them. But there are so many here without proper homes. I wish I knew the way to put them all in school and provide them regular medical checkups. Life is so easy in western countries. How to explain to you? Brothers and sisters, there is so much work to do here. If you can help, I would be very grateful. More than grateful. Cash is required. We need cash in order to buy huge bags (quintals) of rice, which is what they like to eat best. We need cash to buy fresh vegetables and different kinds of lentils and beans, which we cook and mix into the rice. We need cash to buy a few simple spices along with salt and oil. They need the oil because they are thin. But there are other things that can be mailed from outside India, either by airmail or seamail. We are adding powdered milk to the rice to make it more nutritious. We also add dessicated coconut fr the same reason. Cans of tomato paste, tomato sauce and tomato soup would be so welcome because fresh tomatoes cost a fortune here in India. All types of non-perishable goods, food and non-food, would be welcome here. Powdered kool aid or gator aid, powdered jello packages are especially good for recovering from flu, which comes often here without notice. There is no middleman in tihs project. There is you, me, and the hungry people here in north Bengal. We are distributing in Siliguri and Jalpaiguri districts, which are about three hours' train ride from Darjeeling and also from Sikkim and Bhutan. It is beautiful here, except for the hunger and poverty. Can't we try and fix that? Whatever you send goes from me straight to the people here. Please help me. I want to feed more and more people. I want to change the map here. I want to build a new world where nobody goes hungry, where everybody is clean and well fed. Can you help me, please, brothers and sisters? What else can I say. I am appealing to all of you for your help. If you can send cash, please use the Donate button on this site. Or send check to the address also give on this site. If you feel to send something in kind, to send food and other nonperishable items essential for life, please write to me at wpaeditor@gmail.com. I am waiting to hear from you.
Garda Ghista

So, what are you going to do ? Cook for one or help cook for many ?  Feed others and you will be fed in return...
Thanks for helping Garda. Spread the message wide...and, start one yourself.

July 9, 2010

Summer Light

If you are new to my blog, please read my Welcome Note first.

It's really hot, and when it's that hot, I like to eat light...
Salads are great, and grilled fish is even better...
Yesterday I had a friend over for dinner...I wanted  to serve something exotic, light, and does not take long to cook...
I found some nice pieces of fresh Tuna Fish...and this is what I prepared for supper, alongside a rice dish with peas...plus a salad. I will give you the recipes for the 3...trust me they were delicious.

Tuna Fish preparation for 2.

2 medium size chunks of fresh Tuna
2 cloves of Fresh garlic (if you can't find raw fresh garlic, use regular garlic)
1 tbs of fresh grated ginger
1 tsp of Thai mixed spices. If you don't have Thai mixed spices use standard fish spices mix (not condiments)
1 tbs of Thai fish sauce (alternatively you can use Soy Sauce)
1 tbs of Wok oil (wok oil = sunflower oil with aroma of ginger, garlic, coconut and pimentos) (if you can't find wok oil, use olive oil, but the taste will not be the same)

- make tiny incisions in the tuna chunks and place your chopped garlic inside, 1 clove for each piece of tuna
- mix grated ginger with oil, Thai spices and Thai fish sauce (or Soy Sauce) and pour over the fish.
-  leave to marinate for about 1/2 hour

Meanwhile prepare your rice with peas . For 2 you will need :

-  1 cup of Basmati rice or long grain. As agreed, anything para boiled is OUT of the question.
-  about 150g of frozen green peas
-  half an onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cube of vegetable stock (gives it added flavor)
- 1 cup of boiling water.
- about 1 tbs of cooking oil (not olive oil)

- wash your rice thoroughly to make sure all starch is gone
- fry the onions first, until tender (not brown) and add your rinsed frozen peas, leave to simmer for a little on a medium fire then add 1/2 cube of vegetable stock. It really enhances the flavor.
- once a little tender, drain your rice and add to the onion and peas, mixing it once..
- then add 1 cup of boiling water. Bring to boil once and turn down the heat to a minimum until fully cooked.

Just before the rice is fully cooked, heat a frying pan and grill your fish. Tuna cooks very quickly, make sure to lower the heat to medium otherwise it burns on the outside and remains raw inside...

Serve with a salad...I used a nice fresh mix of shredded celery, carrots, 1 large tomato sliced, 2 small cucumbers sliced, 2 branches (leaves) of fresh coriander/cilantro, a handful of chopped iceberg lettuce, and a generous pinch of Alfalfa sprouts. And I forgot - one spring onion finely chopped.

Salad dressing - approx :
                1tsp of lemon flavored Mayonnaise
                1/2 tsp of French Mustard with herbs ( plain mustard will do)
                1/4 tsp of ground Cumin
                1/4 tsp of Oregano
                 about 1/2 tbs of Apple vinegar
                 nearly 1 and 1/2 tbs of virgin olive oil
                 salt and pepper to taste.

With the above, nothing beats a crispy very chilled White Chardonnay.

Enjoy !