Friday, April 4, 2014

Peanut Butter and Green Pepper: Is it a Dip or a Curry?

Whenever we have an international luncheon at work, I always struggle to come up with a dish that will appeal amidst all that meaty splendor spread on the buffet table. It was when I noticed Scott, my son-in-law, eating it with relish, that it occurred to me that I should make it for this year's international luncheon. Sure enough, every one liked it, wanted the recipe and here it is.

This is a variation on a Goan curry that is made with homemade ground peanut and coconut paste. One day, feeling lazy, I decided to substitute  peanut butter. I have not looked back since then :)


medium sized green, red bell peppers (capsicum)-- 2 or 3
medium sized red onion-- one (optional)
fresh ginger to taste (optional)
Chunky peanut butter--1-2 tablespoon
Olive oil-- 1-2 tablespoon
salt to taste
red chili powder (optional)
turmeric-- 1/2 teaspoon (optional)


1. After removing the core and the seeds chop the pepper into small chunks. (Cut the onion and the ginger also into small pieces, if you are using them.)

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet; add the onions and the ginger. (Note: I have also added black mustard seeds. That is the way I cook but you do not have to.)

3. Cook till the onions turn translucent.

4. Add the chopped bell peppers, spices and the salt.

5. Cook till the peppers turn soft.

6. Add peanut butter.

7. Mix it thoroughly into the cooked vegetables with a spatula till it is all melted and gooey.

You can eat this with nacho chips, pita bread, naan or roti. Any which way, it is finger lickin' good!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to Make Ghee

Though Ghee is typically referred to as clarified butter, the process of making ghee differs from that of clarified butter. For ghee, the butter is simmered till the milk solids settle in the bottom and the butter is completely caramelized. Ghee has a nutty flavor and is very aromatic.

Ghee is used in Indian cooking in variety of ways. It is the fat of choice in all Indian sweets. In addition, ghee is mixed into rice and dal; spread on roti and used for tempering rasam.

Making ghee is easy but does requires care and attention. One can use either salted or unsalted butter. Except that the milk solid residue from salted butter will be very salty and must be kept in consideration if the residue is used in any other preparation. For example, I  reuse the pan with the left over residue for making vegetables and if it is residue from salted butter, I will use less salt for the vegetables.

How to make ghee:

Place the butter in a heavy pan, and melt it over low simmer flame. As the butter melts, it will foam a little bit. As it continues to heat, the foam will clear up and butter will turn into clear pale yellow liquid. If you stop here, you will get clarified butter. However, if you want ghee, continue to heat the butter till the liquid turns brown. Turn off the heat and let the liquid cool. Once it is cooled, pour into a container. It will keep well for a month or more at room temperature. No need to refrigerate.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fenugreek Leaf Flatbread

1. Thoroughly wash the fenugreek leaves to remove all mud and dirt. Then chop finely.

2. Heat oil in a skillet and sautee till the leaves are cooked. At this point, it will shrink considerably in volume.

3. Transfer the cooked leaves into a bowl. Add desired amount of wheat flour and a pinch of salt.

4. Add water into the mix and knead into a fairly stiff dough.

5. Split the dough into small balls.

6. With a rolling pin, roll the ball into a thin round shape roti.

7. Heat a griddle on top of the stove and lay the roti on the hot griddle. Drizzle ghee or coconut oil around the edge of the roti. Cook on the griddle till each side turns brown and crispy. Remove from heat and serve with yogurt.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Challenge 159: Shamrock

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day at I am the Diva czt this week. Green Prisma brush pen and white gel pen on Kraft paper.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Challenge #158: Duotangle

This week challenge at I am the Diva is duotangle using Diva Dance and Half Moon. I did a match book cover using the two tangles, though it looks like a tile.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Packaging with Handmade Jute Buttons

Jute and burlap are my most favorite natural materials and I am always finding ways to use them in my journals. I recycle burlap rice bags as journal covers. 

While I was looking for some natural buttons to go with the burlap covers, I decided to make my own buttons using jute strings. The inspiration for this idea came from Indian jute coasters like the one below.

These coasters are hand stitched which is labor intensive. I took the shortcut of using fabric glue that I have seen effectively used in yarn wrapped projects. While making some of these buttons, I decided to do a short photo tutorial on it. Here are the instructions for making jute buttons

What you will need:

Jute string (comes in various thicknesses and thicker the string heavier the button will be)
Glue (I use Sobo; it is a white glue but dries clear)
Wax paper (makes it easy to remove the button once it is dry)
Embellishments (optional)
Paper towel and a bowl of water (to wash your hands when they get too sticky with glue)

(Please note that this project is messy but in a pleasant sort of way.)

1. Spread a small sheet of wax paper on your working table.
2. Unspool a length of jute string (no need to cut it off the spool) and tie a couple of simple knots at one end (you can also use a bead to tie the string).

3. Pour a few drops of glue onto the paper and spread it into a small circle using a toothpick or a plastic craft knife.

4. Place the knotted end of the string on the glue and begin to wrap the string around in tight circles. The glue underneath will help keep the circle in place but you can also dab a little bit glue on top.

5. Keep wrapping till the button reaches the size that you want. Let it dry for an hour or so and remove from the paper.

And, you are done! 

These buttons add a special touch when used in packaging.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Challenge 155: A Little White Space in Lotus Art

This week challenge at I am the Diva czt calls for leaving a little white space in a zentangle tile. This is not that difficult for me since I do mostly zentangle inspired art.
A white lotus flower surrounded by greenery and watery bubbles is my take on the theme.

Below is another one.

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