Saturday, January 22, 2011

Toasted Garlic Pita Chips

A really healthy and almost effortless pita chips recipe, to go with your hummus!

Level: Easy
Serves: 32 pita triangles

4 pita pockets, any kind
Oil/Butter spray, I used canola
4 tblsp garlic powder, or as per taste

Step 1 - Cut the pita pockets into 8 triangular pieces each. I just cut them with a kitchen scissor. It is easier this way.

Step 2 - Place all the pita triangles on a baking sheet. Try to avoid over-lapping as much as possible. But dont spend too much time on this. 

Step 3 - Spray oil over the pita triangles. Sprinkle the garlic powder over it.

Step 4 - Bake in a preheat 375 Deg F. oven for 12 to 15 mins. Keep an eye on this, making sure the pita does not burn.

Serve with hummus!

These pita triangles are quite crunchy. But if you would like them to be crunchier, almost wafer like, after cutting the pita pockets into triangles, open the pockets and follow the same steps above. But remember to reduce your baking time to half. This will yield crunchier 64 pita triangles.


Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

I was first introduced to 'Hummus' by my brother in London. But back then, I did not know that there exists a variety of hummus flavors!
I was introduced to the world of hummus with different flavors only when I started visiting the farmers market here in california. I was absolutely amazed by the choices available. But being true to its farmers market trend, these were quite costly and we couldnt just keep buying them every week. Also, being absolutely tasty, these were gone almost always before we even reached home!

This is where I started looking up for hummus recipes everywhere. I realized that making home-made hummus is not a big deal after-all! All I had to do was go in search of a bottle of 'Tahini'. Indian stores everywhere carry one. If yours doesn't, head on to a store which sells middle-eastern food.

So without any hurdles, I decided to try making this dip for our upcoming party. And what a hit it was!
I was so thrilled with the final outcome, that I immediately started on the second batch and popped it in the freezer. I was just too sure we would need it soon!

I have decided to try most of my favorite hummus recipes one by one. Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus was on the top priority list. This will be soon followed by Eggplant Hummus, Garlic Hummus, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Chipotle Hummus...well the list goes on!

Here is how it is made.

Level: Easy
Serves: 2 soup bowls full

3/4 cup coriander leaves/cilantro, roughly chopped
3 jalapenos, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1.5 tblsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
1.5 tblsp water
4 tblsp tahini
2 tblsp olive oil (I used extra virgin)
1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and washed
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
Salt as per taste

Step 1 - In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice and water. Keep aside.

Step 2 - In another bowl, mix together the tahini and olive oil. Keep aside.

Step 3 - In a food processor bowl, with the chopping attachment on, add the cilantro, jalapeno and garlic. Run the processor for a few seconds. Open it and push all the ingredients sticking to the sides, back in the center and pulse till they all are finely minced.

Step 4 - Add the garbanzo beans, 1/4 tsp salt, cumin powder and red chilly powder. Process again till everything combines well. This shouldnt take more than a minute. If you think the mixture is sticking to the sides of the bowl, open the processor and push everything down. You will have a nice green grainy mixture here.

Step 5 - With the processor running, pour in the lemon juice and water from step 1. Then pour in the tahini and olive oil from step 2 through the shute, in a steady stream. This will start making the hummus creamy. At this point if you think you would like the hummus to be more creamy, you can add in some more tahini. But tahini not being too heart friendly, I just add in some water, 1 tblsp at a time. You might have to stop processing and start scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.

The end result would be a creamy light green, perfect hummus!

Serve with some toasted/fried/soft pita chips.
I served it with some homemade toasted garlic pita chips.
If you are serving this as a dip, smear it in a flattish bowl or a plate. Even out the top with the back of your spoon. Pour a little bit of olive oil over it, sprinkle some red chilly powder and throw a few coriander leaves on the top, just before serving. Makes a great presentation.

You can use it as a sandwich spread too.
You can use it for dipping your falafels in...
....The possibilities are endless!

If you do not own a food processor, dont lose hope. Many recipes suggest doing this in a blender. Though I have not personally tried making this in a blender, I dont think it should be a problem, as finally we want a creamy, non-chunky hummus.

You will have to use canned garbanzo beans for this recipe. DO NOT use home boiled chickpeas. They just dont work. Unfortunately, I learnt this the hard way! Waste of ingredients...and efforts!

You can adjust the taste of hummus as per your liking. The recipe I made, makes a medium spicy hummus. So you can take it from there. Generally hummus requires a little more lemon juice, so you can work that in too. But I am not a big fan of tangy hummus.

The picture above, shows a double batch of hummus ingredients.

What's hummus?
Hummus is a middle-eastern dip that is made from chickpeas. In fact, hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea. It is mainly made of chickpeas and tahini, a paste similar in texture to peanut butter, but it is made of sesame seeds.
Because both chickpeas and sesame seeds are very healthy, hummus is a nutritionist's delight.
Chickpeas are a good source of protein, postassium and fiber. Sesame seeds are a good source of protein and vitamin E. It is also a great anti-oxidant.

So go ahead and indulge!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tomato-Mint Bruschetta

We had decided to have 'Soup-Only' days at least twice a week this winter. But somehow it was just so BLAH! We could never manage to stick to it.
So we decided to have soup along with some healthy appetizers!
Healthy appetizer had to be fun as well as filling and of course something roasted or baked.

Bruschetta was something that immediately came to mind.
Bruschetta can be made with all kinds of toppings. But I generally end up making them with these two topping.
One with tomatoes, which I have shared with you in this post and one with guacamole, which will be shared soon.

Bruschetta pronounced as "Brus-ketta" is an appetizer from Central Italy. So you can always give it a pretty touch by topping it with mozarella, but I dint! It would just take away from our healthy and so called light soup days regimen!

Hope you enjoy making these.

Level: Easy
Serves: 5-6 people

1 loaf of any rustic loaf of bread
4 medium tomatoes
10 - 12 mint leaves, torn into pieces
8 garlic cloves - 4 finely chopped, 4 grated
1 tsp red chilly flakes
1 tsp crushed black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano, or any other dry Italian herb
4 tblsp butter, we had I Can't Believe It's not Butter

Step 1 - Lets get the tomatoes ready. Slice the tomato into halves. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and all the liquid around them. Discard this. Chop the tomatoes into tiny pieces. Keep aside.

Step 2 - Preheat oven to 400 Deg F. In a bowl, add the tomatoes from step 1, add the chopped garlic, red chilly flakes, crushed black pepper, oregano and mint. Mix well. Keep aside.

Step 3 - Beat the butter with the back of a teaspoon and add the grated garlic. Mix well together. Keep aside.

Step 4 - Slice the loaf of bread into slices with medium thickness. Bake them in the oven for 10 mins till they are evenly brown.

Step 5 - Smear the bread with the garlic butter from step 3. Scoop out some tomato mixture from step 2 and put it over the toast.


Can't get simpler, can it?

If you are making Bruschettas for a party and they need not be too healthy,
You can add 1.5 tblsp of extra-virgin olive oil to the tomato mixture. This gives it a lovely richness!
You can top this bread with some shredded cheese, just before you serve.

You can get all the ingredients ready before a party, but do not assemble it till you are ready to serve and eat. You might get the bread all soggy!

Originally Bruschettas are made with tomato and basil. But I prefer them with mint. It just makes it even more zinggy! if thats a word. But you can always substitute mint with Italian basil for that original touch.