Monday, November 7, 2011


Please follow the link to "Chef in Residency" .    Thanks for your patience during the transition!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bengali and Punjabi-inspired Dinner

Intern year has kept me busy and on my first weekend free in a long time, I decided it was time to finally show my significant other that the chef he is dating actually does know how to cook (yes, this is a running joke).  However, the unseasonally early snow storm on the East Coast, and a grocery delivery not scheduled until tomorrow, definitely gave me the opportunity to prove that I'm a cook worth my salt.  The hunt began to see what could be put together from the pantry and freezer along with a lingering head of cauliflower in the fridge.  The following if what I came up with (apologies for the lack of pictures...remembering to take photos is now added to my promises of renewed blogging frequency!).

Bengali “five spice” aka. Panchphoran (featured in two of the following recipes) is made by mixing equal parts of the following whole spices: nigella, fenugreek, brown or black mustard seed, cumin seed and fennel seed.  I first tried this while living with a Bengali roommate.  She wasn’t much of a cook, but her mother was and would send boxes of delicious smelling sauces, seasoning and meals (can I have a Bengali mother?).  After asking my roomie to let me investigate her mystery spices, I came up with the following concoction.  I’ve since realized (through the miracle of Google) that this is, indeed, what Bengali “five spice” is and that it’s proper name is panchphoran.  It is so delightfully different that the flavors that I generally get going out for Boston Indian food that I like to keep a container of it around when I want to cook something from that region of the world.

Lentils with Bengali “five spice”
9 servings


1-1/2 cups dried brown lentils
1 Tablespoon peanut or canola oil
1-1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Bengali “five spice” (equal parts nigella, fenugreek, brown/black mustard seed, cumin seed, fennel seed)
1 large onion, diced or grated
1 large very ripe tomato, diced or grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
½-3/4 teaspoon ground medium-hot Indian chilies
1-1/2 teaspoons salt


  1. Rinse lentils well in a strainer.
  2. Heat oil in medium-large saucepan.
  3. Toast cumin and Bengali “five spice” until fragrant but not dark.
  4. Add diced onion, tomato, paprika and chilies and cook on medium for a 2-4 minutes stirring occasionally so that cooking begins but no browning of the vegetables occurs.
  5. Add lentils and 4-1/2 cups of water to the pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Add salt, stir well, cook another 30 minutes.  During this final portion of the cooking, stir well to break up some of the lentils every 5-10 minutes.

Punjabi-style Potatoes with Cauliflower and Chickpeas (Aloo gobi with Chana) 
4-6 servings


¼ cup peanut or canola oil
2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes and boiled in salted water until fork tender
1 head of cauliflower (about 1-3/4 pounds) cut into florets and steamed or cooked with a bit of water in the microwave until just fork tender
2 teaspoons brown or black mustard seed
1-1/2 cups (1 14.5-oz can) cooked chickpeas
1-1/2 Tablespoons peeled finely chopped fresh ginger or ½ teaspoon ground dried ginger
2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons coriander seed, toasted and ground
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
½-3/4 teaspoon ground medium-hot Indian chilies (or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper)
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in large sauté pan.  Add potatoes and brown sides. Remove potatoes from pan and set aside.
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon oil to the pan and brown cauliflower; remove from pan.
  3. Add final Tablespoon of oil to the pan along with fresh ginger if using and mustard seed and stir to toast until seeds begin to pop.
  4. Add chickpeas, cauliflower, potatoes, dried ginger if using, cumin and coriander, turmeric, salt and chilies.
  5. Add ½ cup water, stir well and cover to steam.
  6. Allow to steam 5 minutes before serving.
  7. Stir in cilantro just before serving.
Mango Chutney
Makes 1 cup


1-1/2 teaspoons peanut or canola oil
½ teaspoon Bengali “five spice” aka. Panchphoran (equal parts nigella, fenugreek, brown/black mustard seed, cumin seed, fennel seed)
6-7 ounces frozen or fresh chopped ripe mango
2/3 teaspoon salt
2-1/3” ginger peeled, sliced and cut into slivers or ½ teaspoon ground dried ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed well with the side of a knife
½ cup cider or white distilled vinegar
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1/3-1/2 teaspoon cayenne


  1. Heat oil and Bengali “five spice” in a small saucepan until fragrant but not dark.
  2. Add mango, salt, ginger, garlic, vinegar, sugar, turmeric and cayenne.
  3. Stir all ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Allow to cook uncovered for 5 minutes to thicken a bit, stirring occasionally.
  4. Reduce heat to low and cook barely simmering for 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Put into a clean glass or ceramic jar to cool and cover with a non-corrosive lid.  Keep refrigerated.  It can be eaten right away, but keeps for weeks in the refrigerator.
Vegan Yogurt Substitute
½ cup firm silken tofu
1-½ teaspoons lemon juice

Blend ingredients together until completely smooth.  Store in the refrigerator.

Toasting Papads
1 package of papads of choice (I like cumin seed ones)

Turn a large burner on an electric stove or heat a cast iron pan well over a gas flame.  Use tongs to flip the papad as it puffs, crinkles and develops little tiny bubbles on each side and dulls in color throughout while getting tiny charred spots in a few places.  It works best to flip a few times quickly so that both sides get done without it curling up on you.  On an electric stove, you can put it right on the burner.  For the cast iron pan, there is no need to oil the pan.

--The Meal --
On each plate, I placed a serving of the Lentils and Aloo Gobi with Chana each with a dollop of of Vegan Yogurt Substitute on top.  Mango chutney was on the side, but quickly got mixed into the Aloo Gobi and the yogurt throughly mixed into both dishes.  We used toasted cumin seed papads to scoop up chutney and lentils as well.  

This definitely got two thumbs' up - and an S.O. that believes I can cook!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No Longer in Med School!

Which means it's TIME FOR A NEW & IMPROVED BLOG!

NAME CONTEST: Please send your ideas for a new name (winner will receive compensation via 30 min phone nutrition or lifestyle consultation)

Part of what has limited the number of posts here has been finding the time to make dedicated cooking videos and type the new recipes I create (OK, and I'm not super tech-savvy, so it takes awhile to get all of this to work in blog format) amidst an already packed schedule.

1) It's time to expand the blog to encompass the other things I spend time doing.  The new blog will still have cooking videos and recipes, but will now include a mix of whatever health and lifestyle projects I'm working on.  Consider it a walk alongside a nutrition specialist, chef, internal medicine resident, physical activity fanatic, and primary care and health care access advocate.  Don't worry - if you're only interested in cooking and recipes, I'll organize the blog in a way that is easy to find the topics/sections that you want.

2) I will highlight the work of others as it relates to the topics the blog covers.

3) So, back to my lack of technological savvy - if there is anyone out there who wants to practice their blogging skills, I would be happy to take on a production and/or writing assistant.  This would be ideal for someone wanting an outlet to practice these skills or who wants to exchange these skills for any expertise or advice I can offer (i.e. this would be perfect for a pre-medical or undergrad student who wants assistance with the medical school process and a project that highlights their interest in the field).

Stay tuned!  The new blog address and name will be posted soon!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recipes for Globo Reporter's Segment on Combating Obesity in the U.S.

This week, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the crew from TV Globo's Friday evening show, Globo Reporter, when they asked to come to my kitchen for a cooking demonstration and discussion on healthy cooking for an upcoming segment on what doctors are doing to treat obesity in the United States.  The other interviewees are David Eisenberg, MD, Director Director, Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at Harvard Medical School, and pioneer of the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives continuing medical education conference that teaches doctors and other health professionals about healthy cooking and lifestyle change , and Walter Willett, MD, the most-cited authority on nutrition in the world and Chairman of Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.  Once the program has aired, I will post a link.

As promised, I am posting the recipes for the segment here: Vegetable Rice Salad with Lime Vinaigrette, Tex-Mex Tofu Tacos and Quick & Dirty Salsa.

Vegetable Rice Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Vinaigrettes are very simple to make and taste much better than the salad dressings and marinades that you can buy in the store.  This salad is a great way to use up leftover rice.  Leftovers made a great wrap filling, topping for a green salad or side dish for another meal – the salad is actually better-tasting the second day.  Leftover vinaigrette can be used later for another salad, sauce or marinade. 

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
1 Tablespoon chopped pickled or fresh jalapeno pepper
½-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 small cucumber, medium (1/2”) dice
2 small red bell pepper, small (1/4”) dice
3 small carrots, grated or shredded
3 scallions, finely sliced or chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander

4 cups fully cooked, room temperature, brown rice

Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions :                 
1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the garlic and jalapeno with the lime juice and let sit for 5 minutes so that the lime juice is infused with the flavor of the garlic and jalapeno. 

2. Whisk ½ cup oil into the lime mixture by drizzling the oil in a slow stream and whipping constantly with a whisk or fork.

3. Adjust acidity: take a small taste of your vinaigrette; it should be quite tangy, but not so sour that it makes you pucker.  If it is too sour, whisk in a bit more oil and re-taste.  If it is not sour enough, add a bit more lime juice.  Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. 

4. In a large bowl, mix together herbs, vegetables, cumin, coriander and rice.  Stir vinaigrette well and then drizzle over the vegetable-rice mixture, stirring to coat ingredients lightly.  Use enough vinaigrette that the vegetables and rice are lightly coated, but not so much that extra dressing pools in the bottom of the bowl.  You probably will not need all of the vinaigrette.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Yield: 8 (¾ - 1 cup each) servings

Store: Refrigerate leftover salad and eat within 3-4 days.

-          Leftover vinaigrette: save it for a salad or use it as a marinade or sauce.  Keep it in the refrigerator (in a glass jar with a lid or a leftover salad dressing bottle) and use within 5 days.  The oil may solidify in the refrigerator because of the cool temperature – the dressing is still perfectly good.  Just remove the dressing from the refrigerator a few minutes before using or run some warm water over the outside of the jar/bottle to melt the oil.    

Other options:
-          The vinaigrette recipe can be used to make any flavor of vinaigrette that you want (just omit the garlic and jalapeno).  Replace the lime juice with another sour citrus juice like lemon, lime or grapefruit; or any vinegar.  Replace the olive oil with another oil (canola, sunflower, safflower, vegetable, or grape seed, untoasted/plain sesame, peanut or sweet almond oil.  You can also use a small amount (couple teaspoons to a couple of tablespoons) of hazelnut, walnut or toasted sesame seed oil, but these are very strongly flavored and/or expensive so a little goes a long way; just add it to one of the blander oils, like canola.  You can also add other ingredients, like scallions and herbs, for flavor.  Vinaigrettes that include fresh ingredients such as garlic, onion, herbs or freshly squeezed fruit juice will keep several days in the refrigerator, whereas those with only oil, vinegar, prepared condiments and/or dried herbs and spices can keep for weeks.


Tex-Mex Baked Tofu

There are two major types of tofu – Silken (aka. Japanese-style) and regular (aka. Chinese-style or bean curd).  These types are further categorized by the firmness (how much water is removed).  Both kinds come in soft, regular (or original), firm and extra-firm.  This is confusing since there is regular regular tofu and regular silken tofu.  Silken tofu is either labeled, “silken,” or comes in aseptic packages that are usually found on the shelf in the grocery store.  Regular (Chinese-style) tofu is always refrigerated and comes packed in water either in a container or can be purchased in bulk from some delis.  If a recipe requires silken tofu, it will specify.  Otherwise, it’s generally a good idea to use regular tofu.  It is important to use firm or extra-firm regular tofu for this dish.


1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu (1-14-oz. container is close enough)

2 Tablespoons of canola, corn or other vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon minced garlic (approximately 1 large clove)
1 teaspoon agave syrup, honey, maple syrup or other liquid sweetener

Dry Rub (USE ONLY 1 TABLESPOON! – Save the rest for later*):
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions :                  
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celsius).

2. Drain the tofu and gently squeeze to remove some of the moisture.  Wrap the tofu in a double-layer of paper towels and press gently to soak up some of the moisture (the paper towels should be completely soaked with water).  Remove from paper towel and cut into 1-inch cubes. 

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk or stir together the marinade ingredients (oil, soy sauce, garlic and syrup).  Add the cubed tofu to the bowl and toss to coat well.  Let sit to soak up flavors until you’re ready to bake. 

3. In another small bowl, stir together the dry rub ingredients (chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, thyme, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper) till well mixed.  Keep 1 Tablespoon of the mix out to use in this recipe and store the rest for another batch or to use in anything that you want to be “taco-flavored.” 

4.  Spray a baking dish large enough to hold the tofu in a single layer with non-stick spray.  Mix 1 Tablespoon of the dry rub mixture with the marinating tofu until tofu is evenly coated, then pour the tofu mixture onto the baking dish and place into the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes, flip over or stir, and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes or until tofu is starting to turn golden brown (which is sometimes difficult to see with the spice mix coating) and/or feels like it is a little firmer and drier than when it was placed into the oven.  Remove from oven and flip over once more; serve or store for later use.

5. Serve on warmed or grilled tortillas with toppings of your choice.

Yield: 4 servings

Store: Let cool to room temperature and then store in a closed container in the refrigerator; keeps for 5-7 days.  Can be used cold, room temperature or re-warmed. 

*Note: Left over dry rub is great to use as taco seasoning or taco-flavored dips.  To use in place of store-bought taco seasoning, use 2-1/2 tablespoons of the dry rub in the place of “1 packet of taco seasoning” called for in any recipe.

Other options:
-          Some topping ideas: shredded cabbage or romaine lettuce, sliced scallions, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, shredded carrots, salsa or tomatoes, avocado or guacamole.

-          Add 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger to the marinade mixture and omit the dry rub.  This is a great all-purpose tofu for stir-fries, salads, wraps or sandwiches.  For a bit of sesame flavor, add 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to the marinade as well.

-          For the firmest, most flavorful tofu, make sure to use extra-firm and when the tofu is wrapped in the double-layer of paper towels, set it in a colander with a plate on top and a heavy can or other weight on top and let sit for an hour or longer.  This will remove more water which both contributes to a firmer texture, but also allows the tofu to soak up more flavor from seasonings or marinades.  Letting the tofu sit in the marinade mixture for an hour will also increase the flavor.

-          If planning to use this for stir-fries or tacos, the cubes work well.  For sandwiches and wraps, however, cutting the tofu into 1/2-inch wide strips or 7-8, ½-inch thick rectangles makes the tofu more manageable and easier to keep from falling out while eating.


Quick & Dirty Salsa

This is a great recipe to use anytime you don’t have fresh tomatoes from the garden or farmer’s market.  It can be made entirely from canned tomatoes, an onion and jarred condiments, but I’ve listed the fresh options in case you have any of them around and want to give the salsa a brighter taste.  The fresh cilantro in particular adds a lot to this dish.

1-14oz. can of tomato puree or diced tomatoes (or about 1# chopped fresh tomatoes)
Juice of one large lime (or 2-3 Tablespoons bottled lemon or lime juice)
½ small yellow or white onion, diced or finely chopped
½ jalapeno, chopped fine (or finely chopped canned jalapenos or chipotles in adobo, to taste)
1 clove garlic, minced (or ¼-½ teaspoon jarred chopped or ground garlic)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and crushed* (or ½ teaspoon ground coriander)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, optional (or 1-2 teaspoons jarred cilantro)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions :                 
By Hand
1. It is easiest to use the tomato puree for this version unless you like very chunky salsa.  Mix all ingredients together.  Salsa is best if allowed to sit for an hour or more, but can be served right away.

With a Food Processor
1. Add roughly chopped garlic and jalapeno to food processor with about ¼ of the diced or fresh tomatoes and process until garlic and jalapeno are finely chopped. 

2. Add the tomatoes, lime juice, roughly chopped onions, coriander, cilantro, salt and pepper and pulse until onion and tomatoes are finely chopped or the salsa is the consistency that you desire.  Salsa is best if allowed to sit for an hour or more, but can be served right away.

Yield: about 2 cups

Store: in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.    

*Note: to toast coriander seeds, place them in a small, dry sauté pan over medium heat and warm, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and turning a bit deeper brown.  Remove from heat and pour seeds onto a cutting board and crush with the bottom of the sauté pan; add to the salsa while still warm, if possible, for the most flavor.