Monday, March 29, 2010

Quinoa Pilaf

When flipping through the recent issue of Vegetarian Times, I came across this South American, high-protien staple food. It looked very interesting and quite similar to Couscous. Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous. I got a packet of Quinoa (keen-wah) from Trader Joe's and made some pilaf. It came out really well.

Here's my version of Quinoa Pilaf


2 cups of Quinoa


1/2 Bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Onion, finely chopped
1/4 Eggplant, finely chopped
1/4 Cup Peas
3 Green Chillies, finely chopped


1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder.
2 Cloves of Garlic

1 spoon Ginger Paste

3-4 Tbsp Oil

1/4 Cup Raisins
2 Bay Leaves
2 Cloves
1 Cinnamon stick
Salt according to taste

Chopped Cilantro

Soak quinoa in water for 30 minutes. Then, rinse it a couple of times and keep it aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Add bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, garlic and green chillies. When the garlic turns brown, add the onions and saute. Add ginger paste and saute. Next, add salt, cumin powder and coriander powder and saute for a couple of minutes.
Add the veggies and keep sauteing. Once the veggies are cooked, add the raisins and saute for a minute. Then, add the quinoa. Add 3 cups of water and close it with a lid and let it cook. When all the water has been absorbed, the quinoa is cooked and ready to be served. Garnish it with chopped cilantro.
Tastes great when served with a cup of yogurt on the side!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Egg (Anda) Curry

A made this delicious egg curry for dinner today. It was fanta-freaking-tastic.

Here's A's recipe:


4 Eggs boiled and cut into halves. (We generally discard the yolk.)
1 Onion, finely chopped.
1 Tomato, finely chopped.
2 Green Chillies, finely chopped.
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped.
1 Tsp Ginger paste.
3/4 cup Milk.
1/4 cup water.
Salt to taste.

For seasoning:

5-6 Tbsp Oil
2 Bay leaves
1 Cinnamon stick
2 Cloves
1 Cardamom
2 Tsp Cumin seeds


1 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 Tsp Coriander Powder
1/2 Tsp Amchur
1/2 Tsp Saunf (Fennel Powder)
1 Tsp Garam Masala

Take a pan and add oil. Once the oil is heated, add bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. After a minute add the cumin seeds. When it starts spluttering, add the garlic and green chillies. After the garlic turns a little brown, add the onion and saute until it turns brown. Reduce to medium heat. Add a tsp of salt and continue sauteing until the onions are soft and brown. Add ginger paste and saute. Mash the onions with a laddle.
Add the spices mentioned above (except Garam Masala) sequentially while continuing to mash & saute. Let it cook really well. Then add the tomatoes. Once they are cooked, add 1/4 cup of water and 3/4 cup of milk. When it starts boiling, add the eggs. Close it with a lid and let it cook for a couple of minutes, and then top it off with the Garam Masala. Once it starts thickening, add the chopped cilantro and voila, Anda Curry is ready.
Serve with rice / roti.

Inchin's Bamboo Garden

Oh Boy! For the first time, I am not so enthused to write about the restaurant I ate at. Do I like Inchin's? No. Do I hate Inchin's ? No....
A's incorrigible craving took us to Inchin's Bamboo Garden, after what, more than a year? We reached there at about 8 pm. Can't call it a fine dining place, but it is a little on the expensive side. It was dark inside and Bollywood tmusic was playing in the back ground. The restaurant was quite packed, but we were seated immediately as it was just the two of us. We ordered their house special Veg Coins Manchurian (fried veg. dumplings in a mildly spiced soy garlic sauce cooked with fresh cilantro, celery, chilies, ginger & green onions)

and the Paneer in Szechwan sauce.

Now, the good things about Inchin's :
  • The service was good.
  • The waitress was quite attentive to our needs and checked on us often.
  • Most of them looked like they were regulars (Regulars, why do you like Inchin's so much?)
  • Both the entrees came with rice.
  • The helpings were huge. We boxed the leftovers for lunch today.
  • The Paneer dish was good. The fried Paneer was yum and there were other veggies too, like, mushrooms, bell peppers, egg plant, onions et al.
 The not so good things :

  • It took about 25 minutes for the food to come.
  • The veg coin by itself tasted good, but the sauce it was in was just okay. I could not get the flavor of ginger or garlic. All I could get was the spicyness.
  • Someone at a table near ours had ordered noodles. There was a lot of noodles in the huge bowl, but it looked a lil stale.
Now, the best part - They have interesting appetizers that are really good. We didn't order any this time around, but I recommend all of them! They used to have a happy hour and we loved it. I don't know if they still have one. If they do, I might go back for the delicious finger food, but not for lunch or dinner.
What about you ? Been there ? Like it?

PS - Inchin stands for Indo-Chinese :)

Inchin's Bamboo Garden on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mediterranean Express @ Capitol Hill

What's up with us, we wonder. We eat middle eastern food as if we hail from Lebanon or someplace, where it is considered staple diet.Give us hummus, shawarma, dolma et al, day in and day out, and we would still ooh and aah, smack our lips and polish our plates. Seriously.....

A lovely day of endless walking along Alki Beach left us totally famished.We headed to....(where else, huh?) Mediterranean Express in Capitol Hill. Yes, another great middle eastern hide-out. This is a typical dine-in/take out joint, like Garlic Crush or the Mediterranean Kitchen at Kirkland.
You look at the menu on the wall, order what you want, scoop your soup/salad and cutlery and grab a table. The main course is served at your table by the cashier who is also the waitress and helps the cook in the kitchen.
They have 3 vegetarian platter options. All platters are served over Saffron rice, with Hummus, pita bread & soup or salad . We ordered the Vegetarian Combo platter (Hummus, Baba Ganouj, 3 Grape Leaves, 3 Falafels) and the Falafel platter (Ground Garbanzo Beans mixed with parsley, onions, garlic and spices, topped with tahini sauce.). We then took our bowls of soup and sat at a table.

Me: Ummmmmm the red lentil soup is... ummmmmm.... just too good. And this is a really big helping.
A: Where does it say "red lentil" ?
Me: (too busy slurping, gesture to the big white board where it says "Soup of the Day")

A is still not convinced that it is red lentil, since it's yellow in color.
A (to waitress) : What soup is this?
Waitress : Red lentil soup.
Me: Gah!

Then the waiter brought our platters.

Me: Oh! The saffron rice tastes just like the one at Med Kitchen.
A:  The pita bread is exactly what you get at Garlic Crush.

Me: Oh yes.....the same light and fluffy.
A: The falafel is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.....and...something's has mint in it!

Me: Oh really? (After taking a bite) Mmmmmm...yummy.
A: Hey, these grape leaves are also different....usually it is not my favorite, but this is the best I have had. Guess what, there is mint in this too!

Me: So what now? Med Express is to mint as Med Kitchen is to garlic?
A: (Giggersnort) Whatever, this is just excellent!

They catered to our requests for extra garlic and extra spice. But, they don't make any customizations. We asked if they could make a  Veggie Shawarma and she said no. But the food was great and each platter was not more than $8.99. Looks like they have B1G1 coupons in the Entertainment Book, as well.

So, Seattlites, if you're not in the mood to make the journey to Med Kitchen on the East Side, Med Express is a great place to head to for satisfying your cravings.

Mediterranean Express on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spiced @ Bellevue

After Googling and Yelping for Szechuan restaurants in the Seattle area, I found good reviews for a relatively new, family owned Chinese restaurant in Bellevue, called Spiced. We had been there for lunch today. It is located in a strip mall, across from the Crossroads mall. When we got there at 12:30 pm, we were the first ones and wondered about the food. But within the next 10 minutes the place was buzzing with plenty of Asians, who looked like regulars. That's a good sign, A said.

The decor was unadorned and it appeared to be a bright and shiny casual lunching/dining spot.

We ordered the Green Onion Pancake to start with. With the hot pepper sauce on the side, it was absolutely toothsome.

The waiter recommended their Tofu with hot pepper in dried pot for the main course. Basically, it is a dry cooked tofu hot pot. The hot pot contains fried tofu, sprouted mung, red chillies, peppercorns and celeries cooked in a Szechuan sauce.
When we requested it to be made "Spicy", the waiter asked if we would like "numbing" peppers to be added and we screamed "Yes please!".
Szechuan pepper (shown below) has a unique aroma and flavour. It is not as hot or pungent like black or white pepper, or chili peppers, but creates a tingly numbness in the mouth, that sets the stage for other hot spices.

 The sizzling hot pot was served with a flame burning underneath. It looked excellent and we couldn't wait to dig in.

 A was able to handle the spice, but I asked the waiter to keep the water coming in, as my glass was getting emptied after every few bites. But nevertheless, I love the kick I get from spicy food, of course, I dodge my thoughts about the morning after ;-). Warning to the weak-stomached, avoid the numbing peppers.

PS - They have a $0.50 credit card fee for bill < $20.00.

Spiced - Truly Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mediterranean Kitchen @ Bellevue

On Saturday, we met some friends for lunch at Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue. We have been there n number of times before, but I haven't really got a chance to review it in my blog. We all looooooove the middle eastern fair and jump at every opportunity to go there.

The cozy, dark interiors and the pricey menu make it exemplary for rare occasions. But we simply loooove their food and used to lunch there atleast once a month. Thanks to their unostentatious grab n go cafe in Kirkland; we now go there every other week, sometimes, every week.

The waiter first brought in a pita bread basket and a pungent garlic dip. This restaurant is loved and hated for the amount of garlic they add to the food. So much, that they are even thoughtful to offer mint flavored chocolates with the check. May be they should change the name to Garlic Kitchen or something. But we love the garlicky flavor, so in turn love, love, love their food.

Next, the lemony Lentil Soup came. All good so far. 

Since we were four of us, we ordered the Mezza Tray, which is an assortment of delicious Middle Eastern appetizers: Hummus (mashed garbanzo beans, with spices and tahini sauce), Baba Kanouj (mashed eggplant with spices and tahini sauce), Labnie (Drained, delicious yogurt with olive oil, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers topped with fresh crushed mint), Tabouleh (Chopped parsley with onions and tomatoes tossed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and bulgar), Zahra (Cauliflower deep-fried, topped with tahini sauce, garnished with green onions, raddish, fresh crushed mint), olives, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Now, if only dolmas (fresh grape leaves stuffed with rice, onions and parsley then baked with delicious Mediterranean spices) were part of this yummylicious platter....... esp. if they could replace the Tabouleh ;-)

We ordered our usual, the spicy Veggie Shawarma.This dish is not listed on their menu, but they customize it for us. In a nutshell, as our meat loving friend pointed out, it is the Chicken Shawarma without the Chicken :). The Shawarma is made with red wine vinegar, spices and garlic, and is tossed with grilled onions, green onions, red cabbage and tomatoes, served with tahini sauce, on a bed of saffron rice. The one at Kirkland, adds a side of hummus to this plate and we absolutely love it. I somehow feel the food is more flavorful at the Kirkland location. And ofcourse, a better bang for the buck. Plus, they have some additional interesting items on their menu. One such sandwich is Batinjan (grilled eggplant with lemon, garlic, green pepper, red pepper and cauliflower deep-fried, topped with tahini sauce, garnished with green onions, raddish, fresh crushed mint and all wrapped in a pita)  that is phenomenol.

usually saves a few scraps of the pita bread, to polish the plates clean, after every morsel has been gnawed and relished. So clean, that, sometimes it leaves me a tad embarassed. Especially when the waiter/waitress gives us a knowing smile when clearing our plates. I ususally scamper off as soon as am done eating, to save myself the embarassment :)

Mediterranean Kitchen (Bellevue) on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Belle Pastry @ Bellevue

The quaint yet upscale neighborhood of Bellevue, along Main St, is where we sometimes engage in a mindless traipse, from one end to the other, stopping briefly for coffee and cake at some interesting patisserie that we stumble upon.
This Saturday afternoon during one such saunter, we found Belle Pastry. Bright and shiny, with a few casual tables by the windows and a huge array of interesting looking pastries and dolce, it came upon as a perfect spot for shooting the breeze. We controlled our urge for an uncalled-for indulgence and ordered their Latte and a Paris Brest. It is a ring-shaped pâte à choux with praline butter cream, garnished with slivered toasted almonds. It seems this delightful French pastry was created by a pastry chef in honor of a bicycle race between Paris and Brest. And, hence it is patterned after a bicycle tyre. Interesting,eh?

The Latte was delicious by itself. The ratio of coffee to milk was perfect, and complemented the dessert.

A little on the expensive side, I would say. The desserts were between $3.75 and $5.00 a piece, but then, they are one of a kind. So, once in a while, when you have a sweet tooth, splurging is not too bad, huh?

Belle Pastry on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 12, 2010

Georgetown Liquor Company

I heard about GLC from some collegues at work. They told me that the food there is one of a kind. I had never heard of Georgetown before. So, after a tiring day of tubing at Snoqualmie, we were voraciously hungry and headed to GLC for some scrumptious dinner, hoping that we will not be disappointed, and we were not!

The neighborhood was kind of abandoned on a Saturday night. The restaurant was more like a sports bar and had a very unpretentious decor. A few booths, a few wobbling tables, an old juke box, some video games and a small bar. I had second thoughts about the restaurant, and wondered how the food would be, when I sat on a chair and the table did a little dance. Eventually, we moved to a booth. But I am glad that the food was to die for. They have the best sandwiches on earth and all of them 100% vegetarian.

We ordered the Tycho - Garlic roasted portobello mushroom was juicy; together with the melted mozarella cheese, grilled red onions and roasted tomato aioli toasted on Ciabatta, it was ultimate. It came with soup/salad/chips n salsa. We chose the split pea soup. We also ordered the Wild Mushroom Tamales - Two housemade tamales filled with beer-simmered wild mushrooms, topped with housemade Spanish red sauce and queso fresco, served with Forbidden Rice, and housemade salsa and a house salad. Both the entrees were excellent! It was quite interesting to see a veggie tamale. The forbidden rice was perfectly cooked. And there was salad on the side too.

For the curious foodies, forbidden rice is a type of black rice that turns purple when cooked. And, it may have gotten its name because only emperors in ancient China were allowed to eat it, due to its rarity and high nutritional value.

Anyhoo, they have a lot more interesting entrees and we will go back for more. I love love love Tycho and I love love love GLC!

Georgetown Liquor Company on Urbanspoon

Chilli Pepper House @ Vancouver

A and I love hooot and spicy food. The kind of spice that makes your head itch, your tongue crave for some ice chips, and then you look around and gesture to the waiter for more water..... Just kidding. We love spice but not the kind that has after effects. We relate hot and spicy food to Indo Chinese cuisine. Seattle, has only one, Bamboo Garden, but Vancouver has many. A trip to Vancouver is considered complete only after the said food is consumed and relished. So,on our drive back, after the Winter Olympics, we stopped at Chilli Pepper House in Surrey.

It was just another restaurant. Some tables.No bar. Asian waitress. The manager looked Asian  too, but was fluent in Hindi. The menu had lots of Vegetarian options.I scanned the menu, made big eyes whenever I read the words "Paneer" "Chilli" "Garlic" "Spicy", let out a tiny squeal and looked at A, who shot back a look as if to say "We can only pick two!". We ordered the Gobi Manchurian (dry) and Chilli PaneerA told the waitress, "Make it many? 5 stars? Yes, make it 5 stars." The waitress, not sure of A's spice levels, brought us a spice rack on top of the 5 stars.She had some trouble understanding the "dry" part of the Manchurian. To avoid any disaster, we told her to get the regular Manchurian.

Gobi Manchurian came. It looked good, but was kind of cold. Or least, was not hot enough.We told the waitress to heat it a little more and she stomped back to the kitchen swearing something under her breath.
Then, Gobi manchurian (aka Cauliflower Manchurian) came back, nice and hot. I would describe it as Golden fried cauliflower florets in a mildly spiced soy garlic sauce cooked with fresh cilantro, celery, chilies, ginger & green onions.It was excellent.

The Chilli Paneer was fantastic. Basically, it is Indian cheese fried to perfection and tossed with green bell peppers, onions, chilies, ginger and garlic.We ordered rice on the side.


We loved the food and will go back for more, sometime soon. They have another branch on Kingsway, which is also great!

Chili Pepper House (Surrey) on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Red Door

We were in Vancouver one weekend, for the Winter Olympics. While driving around looking for an interesting restaurant to lunch at, we found Red Door, a pan-Asian grill. The weather was rainy, making it perfect for some hot and spicy food.

Red Door is a unique place in that, the interiors and the ambience make it look like a $$$ restaurant, but in reality, it is just a $$ restaurant. Ha! Isn't that lovely? The walls were red and the tables black. The decor was bambooish and some Asian art pieces were hung on the walls. There was a bar and a closed outdoor seating area.

We had their special of the day for appetizer. I think it was called a veggie kabab. Basically, it was a piece of roti (I think, of Indonesian origin) that was folded and filled with an eggplant-onion-tomatoes sauted filling. There were 3 pieces of kebabs, that came with a side of raita (from India) and a Thai red curry. Thus, it was an Asian fusion dish and tasted great.

The other item we had was their Seven Flavor Tofu - Thai basil, lemon grass, 5 spice, hoi sin, chillies, garlic and ginger with roasted peanuts. It was awesome. Just thinking about it makes me drool.

The service was good too. We asked for our dish to be spicy and the waiter, apart from making the food spicy, was thoughtful to bring us three different hot sauces ranging from mild to real hot. Rice was extra, but we loved it anyway.

Red Door Pan Asian Grill on Urbanspoon

Preet's Buffet

Preet's is my favorite north Indian restaurant in the Seattle area. Coming from India, I have always been on the look out for a restaurant that makes food very similar to authentic Punjabi Ghar Ka Khana (home cooked food). Punjab Sweets in Kent is excellent, but way too far away to visit. And then I found Preet's a few years back. We are fans of their chaat and parathas. Though a lil pricey, they make it up in the food. Another thing to note is that I heard the cooks at Preet's grind all the spices and make their own masalas that taste much better than the store bought ones. Even the paneer is made from scratch and has a fresh flavor to it.
I was thrilled when I heard about their lunch buffet. An all vegetarian buffet, what could be more better?

We stopped by for their lunch buffet on a Saturday and we were bowled over, as usual. The buffet consisted of a Salad, Pakore, Cilantro/Mint chutney, Raita, Pickled vegetables, Paneer Tikka Masala, Dal Makhni, Channa Masala, Aloo Gobi, Jeera rice and Rice Pudding.

The Pakores were crispy and when paired with the Cilantro chutney tasted just like what we get in India. The Paneer had a fresh aroma to it, unlike the frozen ones that you get in the grocery stores. The Tikka masala had the right spices, right consistency and had the flavor of fresh cream. The Dal makhni was also the best i have had. Channa masala was not spicy, yet aromatic and reminiscent of what our cook makes back at home. Aloo Gobi was also excellent. The whole-wheat buttered roti was similar to what the Punjabi Grand moms would make. The downside is that you only get two rotis in your buffet. Each extra roti costs $0.50. Now, what is that attitude? Its like they are screaming "We make the best food, pay more if you want more!". That really sucks, ain't it?

And the buffet costs $8.00 on weekdays and $10.00 on weekends. I asked the waitress, what's special on the weekends and she said," Hmmmm....nothing....really." For the extra $2, I expect something extra in the buffet. A better dessert maybe, instead of the standard cold rice pudding. Or atleast extra rotis! What do you say? Though I love their food, their attitude kinda gets to me. Hence the 4 stars.

Update (04/14/10): D was visiting and suggested Preet's for dinner. We were quite surprised to know that they have a dinner buffet too! The menu was the same except for a couple of changes. The "Green Chutney" is no longer a part of the buffet. We had to request for some and the waitress brought it out to us.They had a bell pepper, potato mixed veggie dish that got emptied out and it was replaced with a Tofu Scramble. Excuse me ??? What is Tofu doing in a Punjabi Buffet?? Shouldn't it have been Paneer or something? A little disappointing....and yes, I did pull a face when I saw that, but the rest of the food was as good as ever. The service was sloppy. There was just one goofy waitress and the restaurant was packed. She served the generous helping of "2 rotis" to a family that arrived after us, much ahead of us and that kind of put us off.
D ordered Chai Tea and had to repeatedly ask for it untill it was gently shoved in front of him. We ordered the "Jamun with cream" (as they call it), for dessert. Two Jamuns with two scoops of vanilla ice cream drizzled with pistachio... mucho delicioso!

Preet's on Urbanspoon

Garlic Crush

Garlic Crush is an affordable joint that specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine. I am a huge fan of Mediterranean Kitchen. I have not come across any other restaurant that is better or atleast on par with Med Kitchen. I got this B1G1 coupon for Garlic Crush from Entertainment Book and decided to give it a try. It was different yet nice in its own way.

First of all this is more of a take out place. A great place to grab a quick lunch/dinner. There are about 8 tables and an open kitchen. The food was great. The portions were generous. We ordered the Mezze plate and the Falafel plate. The Mezze plate came with couple of pita bread, Hummus, Baba Ganouj, 2 Falafels, 2 Dolmathes and Tabouleh.

We had requested them to make it more garlicky and they gave us a side of extra garlic. The pita bread was big, not very thick, and layered. I have heard this is how an authentic Lebanese pita is and is the best pita I have had.

The Falafel plate came with 6 falafels of a decent size on a bed of lettuce, saffron rice and some hummus on the side. The saffron rice had a slight lemony taste and was tossed with brown colored vermicilli. We mixed the extra garlic with the rice and it tasted exactly like the one you get at Mediterranean Kitchen. And then we realised that an extra helping of garlic makes the food really flavorful.

I would have liked the plates to include tahini sauce and some tzatziki on the side. Each plate costs no more $10. And oh yes! Each plate comes with a side of soup or salad. We asked for the soup and it was really delicious.

 If you are in Bellevue Downtown and are craving for some Middle Eastern food and have time to just grab a quick bite, Garlic Crush is the place to go to.

Garlic Crush on Urbanspoon
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