Thursday, December 16, 2010

A trip to our local farmers' market

The Fremont (or should I say, tri-city) farmer’s market is open every Sunday at Newpark mall’s parking lot between 9.00 AM and 1.00 PM. Since it is a huge mall, finding a parking spot is no trouble. I also find it cheaper than the Sunnyvale and Mountain View farmers’ markets (my earlier residence). For us, a trip to the farmers’ market is not just a shopping experience, but also a Sunday morning outing!!  

My husband and son go around enjoying fruit samples and the sights and sounds of mid-morning urban farmers’ market while I go around shopping.

The Balloon guy who makes ghosts, aliens and swords for a tip, is fun to watch.

Fresh fruits and veggies at affordable prices - especially if you can wait until the closing time - between 12.30 and 1.00 PM.

My favourites - The greens
Mustard greens - great for Sarson ka Saag

The music man using a punched card music system and singing in French... may be German - not sure... 

The last few pieces of pumpkin

Interesting trinkets

Sometimes, we also find unique stuff like this ornamental 'Budha's hands' - At least that's what the guy behind the stand called it!! Amazing citrus aroma!!!

Beautiful flowers and orchid plants

My favourite persimon stand - $1 a pound. They are at their peak sweetness now and will be gone very soon. So, I grabbed 5 pounds for $4.

The dry fruits, nuts and chocolate stand from Rodin farms... They have an unbelievable variety of flavoured almonds - including corn chilly lime, wasabi etc... Here are the holiday cheer from them...

Some more holiday cheer!!!

Murali and Srihari ate lunch at the corn-on-the-cob stand... Thanks to California weather, some of us still roam around in half sleeves!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Channa Masala - The universal side dish

Channa masala is a very popular Indian side dish made using garbanzo beans. It goes well with rice, roti, poori, batura, bread etc. It also forms the base of many chaat preparations like samosa chaat and Kachori chaat.

Dried Garbanzo beans are always stocked up in my pantry. I generally soak them overnight and pressure cook with salt and one whole green chilly (which I remove later). It might seem easier to open a can, but there is a subtle difference in flavour and you can alter the way you cook it to achieve desired results.

This summer, we planted bell peppers in our small backyard. I love bell peppers, and when they are home grown, it becomes extra special and yummy. I dice them, saute them and add them to almost anything at the end of cooking process as a garnish. It brightens and freshens up any curry.

Garbanzo beans (dry) - 1 cup or 16 oz can
Onion - 1 large, diced
Tomato - 2 large, diced
Ginger - 1 inch piece, peeled and cut
Garlic - 5-6 cloves
Green chillies - 3 or to taste
Dried red Kashmiri chillies - 3 to 4 (optional)
Channa Masala powder or Garam masala (store bought)  - 1 tsp
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch piece
Cloves - 3 - 4
Bay leaf - 1 large
Green and /or red bell peppers - 1 to 2 (optional), diced
Salt to taste

If using dry garbanzo beans, soak in water overnight. Pressure cook with water and salt until soft.
If using canned beans, drain and rinse with water.
Heat little oil in a large skillet, saute ginger, garlic and onion. Add a little salt to let the onions sweat out. When the onion turns transparent and raw smell goes away, add diced tomatoes. When tomatoes are completely cooked, remove from heat, cool and grind into a smooth paste.
In the same skillet, saute the diced bell peppers for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add 2 tea spoons of oil to the skillet. When hot, add bay leaf, cinnamon and cloves. When they turn brown, add the cooked / canned beans and the ground paste. Add required amount of water so that the gravy just covers the beans. Add Channa masala powder and more salt to taste. Cook covered until it comes to a boil. Add sauteed bell peppers, mix well and serve with any accompaniment.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ha Hawaii....

Just got back from a wonderful week-long Hawaiian vacation. Lots of unpacking, laundry and settling down to do... Will post soon :)