"providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood"

 Cella's News

September 2005



State of Mind

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don't.

If you like to win, but think you can't,

It's almost a cinch you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you're lost;

For out in the world we find

Success begins with a fellow's will;

It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are;

you've got to think high to rise,

you've got to be sure of yourself

before you can win the prize.

Life's battles don't always go

to the stronger or faster man;

but sooner or later the man who wins

is the man who thinks he can.

(Author Unknown)

I was smiling to myself when I was carrying my mail in.  You see, I had a letter from Stella Dinse from Boston, New York.  Now I don't know Stella, but I was sure that she had sent me some recipes.  I was right.  She sent me three.  One was for a light and tasty coffeecake, one for a barbecue sauce that contains coffee, and the last was for sweet pickles that were made from purchased jarred dill pickles.  These are the easiest pickles I've ever made, but I have to wait six weeks to eat them - they'll be ready to eat on October 7.  Later in this column I'm going to share some recipes and tips that I learned from Sudha Gupta, an Indian cook  Her husband invited me to their house in Hamburg, New York so that his wife could show me how she cooks Indian food.  Sudha was a great teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed learning a new way to cook.

Six-Week Pickles

1 quart 4-oz. jar of whole dill pickles
3 cups white sugar
1 1/2 handfuls brown sugar (about 1/2 cup)
3 shakes of garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pickling spice
3/4 cup white vinegar
3-oz. cold water

Drain juice from dill pickles, slice pickles lengthwise in quarters and put back in jar.  Place remaining ingredients in two-quart saucepan and heat just to a boil over medium heat.  Pour over pickles, close jar and refrigerate for 6 weeks.

Barbecue Sauce

According to Stella, this sauce will keep up to three months in the refrigerator and is good on chicken or pork.  I made a batch and tried it on pork spareribs and chicken.

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar

Place ingredients in a two-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Stir with a whisk to blend.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for five minutes, stirring often.  Use sauce to baste on meat.


Bottom Layer: (Cream following ingredients together and spread in 9 x 13-inch baking pan)

2 cups white flour, sifted
1 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus milk to measure 3/4 cup

Middle Layer: (Mix following ingredients together and spread on top of bottom layer)

8-oz. original brand cream cheese, softened
4-oz. sour cream
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs

Top Layer: Crumb Topping (Use a fork to mix following ingredients together and sprinkle on filling):

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup white sugar

Bake coffeecake in 350 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Sudha Gupta was born in central India in Madhya Pradesh and graduated in 1977.  She came to the United State in 1981 and has been here for 25 years.  She holds a Master degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor's degree in Home Science which includes nutrition, home management, and child management.  In India she taught Graduate Students food nutrition and home management.  The typical Indian diet is vegetarian, heavy in the use of cooking with herbs and spices.  Sudha teaches about Indian food and history at the West Seneca school, and is a substitute teacher in the Frontier School District in Hamburg, New York, teaching math and science.

The Guptas taught their two sons not to leave their rich food culture behind, but to adopt the best from both India and America.  Fast food is in both countries now and many have become sick and obese.  Sudha's focus is on eating well to prevent these problems and to pass this on to others.  This type of eating requires preparation ahead of time and can save money.  For instance, she rinses dry garbanzo beans well, soaks them overnight in water to cover, cooks them in the morning in the soaking water with a little salt (helps soften the beans and cooks them faster).  Half of the beans can be put in the freezer for later use.  Sudha cooks soaked garbanzo beans in 15 minutes in her 18/8-gauge stainless steel pressure cooker.  They are so tender.  

I have a lot of spices, but when Sudha showed me her pantry, I was impressed.  Her pantry was full of various half gallon jars containing whole spices that she can grind fresh to get the best flavor and aroma in her foods.  My cupboard in comparison held spices that had been ground eons ago and had loss their original aroma and fresh flavor.  I have decided that I should start grinding my own spices in my coffee grinder in the future.  It is easy to do and a grinder should be kept specifically for this use.  Some of Sudha's whole spices included dry garbanzo beans, five varieties of lentils, lentil nuggets, raw peanuts (red with skin, no salt), cumin seed, white flaked flat rice, black mustard seed, black onion seed, fenugreek (diabetics in India eat a handful every day), cardamom, and others.  She also showed me whole saffron threads that she uses when cooking sweet things.  Sudha said that two or three saffron threads in milk is good to drink when someone has a cold.  She had a jar with whole red dried hot peppers that she grinds when needed.  I got to taste some Ricotta cheese with saffron threads and cardamom in it and it was sweet.  It almost tasted like their was coconut in it, but there was none.  Sudha uses two coffee grinders, one for hot spices and one for sweet.  The Guptas said that Wegmans has an Indian section in their store where they buy their ingredients.  Before grinding the cardamom seeds, they need to be removed from the outer pod.  Sudha has a stainless steel Indian Spice Box, a round box containing 7 small compartment inside with a small teaspoon.  Indian cooks put their favorite and most used spices in these types of boxes for ease of use.

Sudha said that asafoetida is a tree root that could be ground and added to the diet to help with gas.  That ginger helps with arthritis and can be washed, peeled, ground in a food processor and put in the freezer and broken off as needed.  When KK gets a cough, Sudha squeezes out the juice from grated fresh ginger, puts it with honey and gives it to KK.  It helps get rid of his cough.  She washes cilantro, removes and discards the thick stems, puts the leaves on paper towels in a single layer and freezes it to use in recipes.  She also uses ghee, clarified butter. 

Sudha had me taste some Paneer (like Farmer's cheese) and some yogurt she made.  This cheese can be made from 1 percent, 2 percent, skim, or whole milk.  She said that yogurt is good for people that are lactose intolerant and will not cause gas.  To make the yogurt, Sudha brings milk to a boil (4 cups), stirring occasionally until boiling across pan.  Do not allow milk to scald (develop a film over it).  Cool until "thumb warm."  Stir in 1/2 cup yogurt (Dannon or another good quality).  Preheat oven to 120 degrees, turn off oven, and leave yogurt sit in oven for 4 or 5 hours.  It is ready to place in the refrigerator when a little water separates from it.  Refrigerate for 8 hours.  

Paneer cheese can be made by bringing 4 cups of milk to a boil, add in the juice of one fresh lime (I used about 3 tablespoons of bottled lime juice and it worked out fine).  The whey will separate out.  Drain the whey out of the cheese, and refrigerate it.  No salt is added, but I did add some sea salt to mine to give it more flavor.  KK said that you can cook mixed vegetables, add a pinch of cumin, and sprinkle Paneer around it for a nice change.  I tried it and it was good and something different.  Sudha said this cheese should not be kept over five days in the refrigerator and that it could be frozen.  Four cups of milk made about 3/4 cup of cheese.


3 cups thick Poha (flattened rice that looks like oatmeal)

2 tablespoons Canola oil
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced potato
1/4 cup frozen baby peas
1 tablespoon Canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
juice from 1/2 lime
1/8 cup cilantro, diced

Place uncooked Poha in a colander and wash under cold water.  Drain and set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat oil until very hot, but not smoking.  Immediately add cumin seeds, mustard seed, and onion.  Cover immediately to steam a few minutes.  The seeds will crack under the hot oil and release their flavor.  Reduce heat to medium, remove cover and stir in potato.  Continue cooking until potato and onion are cooked through.  Onions should be a little brown and crispy.  Add peas and one tablespoon of oil, Poha, salt, turmeric, cayenne pepper, sugar, and lime juice.  Heat until peas are cooked through and stir in cilantro.  Continue cooking for another minute and then dish is ready to serve.  Cilantro should not be cooked very long or it will loose its flavor.  Serves 3 to 4 people. 

You can make your own Masala for use in the following recipe by mixing the following together:  1 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

Garbanzo Beans in Tomato Gravy

4 cups cooked garbanzo beans
3 tablespoons Canola oil
4 whole cardamom (remove seeds, discard shell)
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 cup red onion, diced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 large tomato grated, plus juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups cooked garbanzo beans with liquid
1 teaspoon Masala (hot); 2 teaspoons (hotter)
2 tablespoons cilantro, diced

Heat oil in a large frying pan until hot, but not smoking, over high heat.  Immediately add seeds from whole cardamom pod, whole cloves, cumin seed and onion.  Cover for a couple of minutes while seeds crack.  Turn down heat and add ginger, tomato and juice, and salt.  Allow mixture to simmer until oil separates for the best flavor.  Stir in cooked garbanzo beans and liquid, 1/2 cup water and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add Masala and cilantro.  Heat an additional minute and then it is ready to serve.

I asked Sudha how I can make rice that isn't sticky.  She said that the Basmati rice is the best and that the poor people of India cannot afford to buy it.  You need 2 cups of cold water for every cup of rice.  Rinse the rice, put into a saucepan with the cold water on high heat.  Stir the rice occasionally as you bring it to a boil.  The water should be boiling clear across the pan and around the edges before you cover it.  Cover the rice, turn the heat down to simmer and do not lift the lid or stir anymore.  Rice will be done in about 15 minutes.  

We also made a type of Pita bread called Naan.  To make Naan, combine 3 cups of flour, 1 cup lukewarm water (not hot or it will kill the yeast), 1/2 teaspoon white sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons Canola oil, and 1 teaspoon dry yeast.  Cover with a plastic bag or towel and allow to raise at room temperature until doubled (about an hour).  Divide dough into 4 to 6 balls and roll out on lightly floured surface in a circle.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet under the broiler for about 3 minutes each side (do not burn).  Remove and brush top of each with butter.  Dough can be topped with onion seeds before baking, or fresh diced spinach can be added to the dough before baking.

Before I left, Sudha, KK, and I had a cup of Indian Tea made with loose tea leaves, milk, and fresh ginger.  I made every one of these recipes on my own at home and enjoyed a most delicious meal one night of slices of sirloin tip roast, garbanzo beans in tomato gravy, Poha, and mashed yellow summer squash with my homemade butter and black pepper.  To cook the squash, peel and deseed it, cube it and cook until tender like potatoes.  Mash with butter.  Delicious.  For my next potluck at church, I'm making garbanzo beans in tomato gravy and Poha.  If you'd like to learn more about Indian cooking and culture, visit my favorite Indian site at cuisinecuisine.com/HomePage.htm.

Please send your favorite recipes to me.  I'd love to learn some new Italian, Chinese, or Greek recipes.  


Send your favorite family recipes to Marcella Stockin, 5200 Riceville Road, West Valley, New York 14171 or e-mail me at marcellastockin@yahoo.com.  I'd love to hear from you.