Indian Cucumber Raita

Raita is a yogurt dish used as a sauce or dip. The yogurt is usually seasoned with ground red mustard seeds, ground cumin, coriander (cilantro), salt and optionally sugar. Vegetables such as cucumber and carrot and even fruits like grapes and banana are used. The mixture is served chilled. Raita has a cooling effect on the palate that makes it a good neutralizer for spicy Indian dishes. In this recipe we will be using cucumber and grapes and adding sugar for sweetness.

Ingredients

2 cups yogurt
3/4 cucumber peeled and grated
1/2 cup grapes chopped into quarters
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground red mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. To an empty medium sized mixing bowl, add 2 cups of yogurt. Mix lightly just until the yogurt is of smooth consistency.
  2. Squeeze all the water from the grated cucumber. Add to the yogurt. Mix gently. Avoid mixing too much or too rigorously as this will cause any remaining water to be released from the cucumber making for a watery raita!
  3. Add the spices – salt, sugar, ground red mustard seeds, ground cumin. Mix gently.
  4. Add the grapes, mix gently. Garnish with cilantro.

We want the raita to be a nice balance of sweet and sour. Upon tasting if you feel one over powers the other feel free to make some adjustments.

Enjoy!

Italian (Sicilian) Rice Balls w/ Chicken, Peas & Tomato Sauce

Rice balls are fabulous as a side dish or an entrée. This dish can be modified in various ways; for a healthier version opt for ground turkey or chicken rather than beef, or if you are a vegetarian omit the meat altogether. We hope you enjoy our first Italian recipe!

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef / turkey / chicken
1 jar of tomato sauce
2 tsp salt
1 bag sticky rice
½ bag frozen peas
1 small brick of mozzarella cheese
2 tsp parmesan cheese
1 small onion chopped
1 tbsp garlic finely chopped
1 package of bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Sauté the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes with a little oil, then add the ground meat. Sauté the meat until it is fully cooked. Season the meat with a pinch of salt.

In the meantime, begin to boil the frozen peas in a pot of water on the stovetop.

Cook the rice on the stovetop. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package. Once the rice is cooked, add some tomato sauce a little at a time to ensure that the rice remains sticky. Then add the parmesan cheese and mix well. Let the rice cool for 5 minutes. The rice needs to be fairly hot to make it easier to work with when forming the rice balls.

Place the bread crumbs into a large casserole dish. Cut up the mozzarella into small cubes and place into a bowl. Place the cooked meat and peas into two separate bowls.

Form a ball of rice in the palm of your hand. Insert your finger into the ball, and place a small amount of peas, ground meat, and 1-2 cubs of cheese into the middle of the ball. Close the ball by adding more rice.

Roll the ball into the bread crumbs until the ball is completely covered.

Fill the deep fryer pot with vegetable oil and place the rice balls into the oil until the ball becomes a light brown colour, approx 5-8 minutes.

Heat up the tomato sauce and generously slather some sauce on each ball before you serve.

ENJOY!

Green Beans w/ Potatoes, Wine, Tomatos & Onions (Fasolakia me Patates)

Green Beans with Potatoes or ‘Fasolakia me Patates’ in Greek is a vegetarian village classic Eva (and other Greeks) grew up with. As with many of Eva’s dishes, this recipe requires only a few simple ingredients and makes a great meal or side dish. Keep in mind the length of time the beans need to cook depends on not only your beans, but also how soft (or crunchy) you want them, so be sure to sample them as this delicious dish is cooking.

Flat green beans
2 medium sized potatoes
1 cup crushed tomato or tomato juice
1 medium sized onion
1/3 cup of water
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 table spoon of salt
Pinch of pepper
1/2 cup of white wine

Cut the edges off the green beans and slice each down the middle leaving the ends still connected. If your green beans are narrow, there’s no need to slit them down the middle. In a separate bowl, peel the potatoes and chop them into fours. Chop the onion and fill a cup with either crushed tomato or tomato juice.

Preheat a large pot on the oven at a high temperature. Once sufficiently heated add 1/2 cup of olive oil. Allow the oil to heat up and add the chopped onion. Saute the onions slowly till they receive a light brown color. Once ready, add the beans to the pot. Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium and allow the beans to cook for roughly 5 minutes.

At this point add a table spoon of salt, a pinch of pepper and 1/3 cup of water. The water is necessary to allow the beans to precook before we add the tomato juice. Cover the pot and allow the beans to cook for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. During this time stir the beans periodically until the water has completely evaporated.

At this point add 1/2 cup of white wine, the potatoes and the crushed tomato (or tomato juice). Work the ingredients together and cover the pot. Turn the heat on the stove to low and cook the beans till they become soft. This should take approximately 20 minutes. That said, periodically come back stir the contents and test to see how the beans are coming along. When the dish is ready all the juice should have evaporated with only the oil remaining.

Enjoy!

Swiss Chard and Black Eyed Beans

Here is another wonderful vegetarian dish that uses only a few simple and healthy ingredients. Both Swiss chard and black eyed beans are rich in nutrients and very high in fiber. In Greece, this dish is usually eaten as the main meal, but it also makes a great side dish.

About 1½ cup of black eyed beans
Half a bunch of Swiss chard
1 medium onion chopped
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 cup of tomato juice
Pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper

Wash and strain the black eyed beans and place them in a pot of boiling water for about 5 to 10 minutes (the time really depends on the beans; some beans need longer than others).

Chop the Swiss chard into small cubes. Wash and strain the Swiss chard and place the leaves in a separate pot of boiling water for about 3-4 minutes.

Once the Swiss chard had finished blanching, remove the leaves from the heat and strain the water. Do the same with the black eyed beans.

In a medium sized pot, place the oil and onions. Over a medium heat setting, sauté the onions for about 2-3 minutes. Add the beans to the pot and stir for a few minutes. Add a dash of salt and pepper and, if you like a little extra kick, add a pinch of hot pepper flakes. After about 2 minutes, add the Swiss chard and stir. Add the tomato juice and 2 cups of water and stir well. Once the water has begun to boil, cover the pot with the lid and lower the heat. At a low heat setting, allow the beans and Swiss chard to simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour (while stirring periodically). The beans need to cook until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Makes 4 servings.