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Sep 302014

Vegetable Fajita

“Fajita. A Tex-Mex dish made from marinated, grilled skirt steak…served in a wheat tortilla. The word derives from the Spanish faja, for “girdle” or “strip” and describes the cut of meat itself.” Source —Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 125)

Oh dear! By the above definition, my vegetable fajita stands no chance of being an original Tex Mex fajita. So, I am going to let you imagine that the portobello mushrooms in the Vegetable Fajitas are somewhat like the skirt steak.  Since I really love love love (repeating words makes the feelings come through) fajitas, I made it just for me.  So no meat in my fajitas! Though the teen was a bit grumpy when she heard there wasn’t going to be any shrimp either. But this was my dish and I was not going to make it any other way.

To make them as authentic as the Tex Mex fajitas I did follow the rule ; “ If they don’t come to the table sizzling from the grill, they are not fit to be called fajitas”  – “Fajitas,” Barbara Hansen, Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1985, (p. K1)  . My vegetable fajitas were smokin and sizzling!

Vegetable Fajita-4

Despite the long list of ingredients, it is a quick dish to put together provided you plan a bit ahead. When everyone is ready to eat, bring a sizzling pan of the vegetable fajitas to the table and let everyone make their own. With a home made pico de gallo and freshly made guacamole, this is my dish for the September edition of  Progressive Eats.  Check out the impressive line up of Tex Mex dishes that the Progressive Eats Bloggers have come up with.

Vegetable Fajita-7





Main Course






I hope you enjoyed this edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

This month’s theme is Tex-Mex, hosted by Milisa of Miss in the Kitchen.

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Vegetable Fajitas

Vegetable Fajitas


  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red/yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2-3 Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 big yellow onion
  • for marinade
  • 1/2 ground cumin
  • 1/2 Serrano pepper
  • 2-3 tbs chopped onions
  • 2- 3 tbs cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • To serve
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de gallo
  • sour cream
  • Tortillas (flour or corn )


    Prep the vegetables
  1. Wash and pat dry the veggies
  2. cut into thin strips and keep aside
  3. Make the marinade
  4. Blend the ingredients for the marinade into a smooth paste
  5. Marinate the Veggies
  6. Mix the marinade into the vegetables and let it stand for at least 20 minutes
  7. Final steps
  8. Cook the vegetables in a cast iron pan, reserving the liquid from the marinade. While the vegetables are cooking, place a fajita pan / cast iron pan on the stove to heat.
  9. Once the vegetables are cooked - 3-4 minutes , place them on the fajita pan, drizzle the pan with the leftover marinade and bring it sizzling to the table.
  10. Alternately, remove from the grilling pan into a serving bowl.



Feb 252014

Vegetable Biryani


Believed to be of Persian origin and having travelled to India through travelers, merchants and Mughals, the Biryani is a much loved dish across India. Lizzie Collingham in her book , Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, says that the Persian dish pilau was transformed into biryani in India. There is no definite text to authenticate when Biryani came into existence, but it is largely attributed to the Mughal Empire.

Veg Biryani

The present day Biryani essentially is rice and meat/vegetables/sea food/fish cooked in layers with aromatic spices using a process called Dum. The rice is partially cooked separately and the meat/ veg is cooked separately after a marination in the spices. Then the two are layered in a pot and cooked further using dum. The result is a fragrant dish where you can taste the gamut of spices and flavors in each morsel.

Veg Biryani-2

Though it usually involves a lengthy process, the surprising thing about Biryani is that it is highly adaptable. This easy vegetable biryani is one such example.  I first fell in love with a vegetable biryani in Hyderabad and prefer it to the poultry varieties. I do(did) however have a deep connection with the mutton biryanis. They are (were) my favorite kind.


Easy Vegetable Biryani

Easy Vegetable Biryani


    for fried onions
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • oil for frying
  • For Biryani
  • 500 gms rice
  • 500 gms vegetables ( Mix of cauliflower florets, peas, sliced carrots, cut green beans)
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 8- 10 strands of saffron
  • 1/4 C mint
  • 1/4 C yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp garam masala ( use your favorite brand)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 blade of mace
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1/4 stick of cinnamon
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbs ghee
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1 Indian bay leaf (tejpatta)


    Marinate the veggies
  1. Mix the ginger and yogurt. Add the turmeric and cayenne and garam masala. Add in the veggies.
  2. Fry the onions
  3. You really have to fry the onions for that smoky taste of the onions. And if you simply saute them, they won't be crispy. So throw caution to the wind and fry away.
  4. Fry the onions in oil until lightly browned and crisp. Remove onto a wire mesh, let drain.
  5. Soak the rice
  6. Wash the rice until water runs clean. Then fill a bowl with water, add in rice. let it sit.
  7. Mix the Saffron
  8. warm the milk and add the saffron in
  9. cook the veggies
  10. heat the ghee, add in the cumin and tejpatta, then add the veggies, save the peas till the end.
  11. Cook covered for 10 minutes on medium heat and then add in the rest of the spices after slightly pounding them. (that mortar and pestle you never used? bring it out now)
  12. Add in the salt and peas and cover and cook until veggies are slightly tender. Be sure to not cook them through at this point.
  13. cook rice
  14. Take a big stock pot and bring water to a boil. You can begin this before you start cooking the veggies.
  15. Once the water boils, add in the rice. Stir once and let it come to a boil
  16. Cook the rice al dente. .. about 5 - 7 minutes , then drain.
  17. Assemble the Biryani
  18. To the pot in which you have the vegetables, layer the rice on top. (ensure this pot has a tight fitting lid)
  19. Add the milk and saffron combo to this layered rice and then top it with mint and some fried onions.
  20. Close the lid, and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
  21. Serve with a raita of chopped onions and tomatoes mixed in with yogurt and seasoned with salt and mint. Add the rest of the fried onions while serving to individual plates.