Wednesday, June 29, 2005

World in a Pancake- Korean mung bean pancakes

This is a street food in the farmer's market in Pittsburgh. You can see throngs of people drawn by the aroma of these delicious pancakes. I like to make them at home 'coz they are quite rich in protein and less oily than the street vendor's is. This recipe is an adaptation of the original version that has eggs and kimchi.

1 cup of dried mung beans, soaked overnight
2-3 cloves garlic
a handful of mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped napa cabbage or bokchoy
4-5 scallions, minced fine
salt, pepper

Grind the beans and garlic cloves with some water in a blender until smooth. You can also finely chop the garlic and add to the batter, instead. If the batter is thick, mix in a beaten egg or some water.

Just before you want to make the pancakes, mix in salt,pepper, scallions, bean sprouts and bok choy. Heat a griddle, add a tsp of oil to it and make usual size pancakes using a ladleful of batter. These pancakes are quite thick and cooked in a lot of oil. I prefer to just use 1/2 tsp or so for each pancake.

The authentic version has chopped ham and kimchi, which will make meat lovers quite happy.

Serve with Sriracha or Thai chili sauce.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Nutella hot chocolate

What a yummy concoction! I was initiated only recently to this blissful experience. Though hot chocolate is never popular in summer, this year I am indulging myself with a cup of hot chocolate on weekends as some sort of a late-night snack. It is my new favorite along with the new (I spotted it only a month back) Nestle After Eight Cocoa mix.

All you need is 3 Tablespoon nutella and about 10 oz of milk. Put Nutella and 1/3 cup milk in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until blended. Add remaining milk, increase heat to medium-high, and whisk until hot and frothy. It is almost as satisfying as an ice cream.

Friday, June 24, 2005

I am the cook next door!

Another meme- this time the Cook next door meme, started by Nicky and Oliver of Delicious Days.

Tanvi of From the pantry, has tagged me to be her cook next door. The game is really a lot of fun for foodies like me.

What's your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
I did not know anything about cooking until around my wedding day. It was literally a scene from 'Bend it like Beckham', a cooking boot camp of sorts. I never used to go anywhere near the kitchen before that point. I was a task master though, handing out clipped magazine recipes for my mom to cook and pestering her to make this and that.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?
My mom and grandma. I still believe my mom's cooking is not as good as my grandma's. And mine is no way near my mom's. My mom-in-law has a big part of the way I cook too. I have sort of branched out from Indian cooking and thanks to Food network for that.

Do you have an old photo as "evidence" of an early exposure to the culinary world?
None, whatsoever.

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
Homemade ravioli (even though only with potsticker wrappers) and dosas.

What are your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
My blender/mixer from India (called mixie) is really great. Can do everything from grinding, blending and whipping. A pressure cooker is also indispensable in an Indian kitchen. My biggest disappointment is with my espresso/cappuchino maker. Nothing like Starbucks.

Biggest disappointment?
That would be a flan. Echh... For drinks, I really don't understand what is the deal with wine.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else does.
The world is full of crazy eaters. My newest craze has been a peanut butter tomato sandwich but apparently there are several fans for it.

What are the three edibles or dishes you simply don't want to live without?
Rice, yogurt and salt. I am really a simple person.

Here are the questions added by Tanvi:

Your favorite ice-cream.
Haagen daaz dulche de leche, a chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream from our local creamery.

You will definitely never eat...
beef, fish, flan!

Your own signature dish...
I'm all over the place cooking-wise. My tiramisu is pretty popular though.

Any question you missed in this meme that you would have loved to answer? Well then, feel free to add one!

Chocolates/candies that you grew up on???
Cadbury's Fruit and nut, loved it and cadbury's nutties. Cadbury's was the only chocolate available in India, 25 years back. Now there are a million kinds, unbelievable.

I would love to know the cook in Nupur of One hot stove.

IMBB #16- Eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and everything in between)

Eggs, the most versatile ingredient in the culinary world is the theme for this month's IMBB that is hosted by Seattle Bon Vivant. It opens several culinary gates. My sweet-obsessed brain could think of mainly desserts. I had to steer clear of my obvious dessert choices- a flan, souffle, angel food cake and the like... So here are three, of my contributions starring the humble egg.

Eggs for breakfast or even for a light lunch cannot go wrong. I made a decadent Italian egg sandwich for lunch. May be this should have been reserved for the Eggs on Toast event, but anyway, this is really good. Few simple ingredients combine together to tickle the tastebuds with a variety of tastes and textures. For added richness, I drizzled a little bit of truffle oil. I usually like my eggs well-cooked but in these fried eggs, luckily, none of the egginess comes through despite the slightly runny yolks. When I bit through the crunchy bread, all the flavors of the basil, marinara, parmesan and the crispy edges of the fried eggs came through in layers. When done, only the flavor of the rubbed garlic remained on the palate.

Pasta carbonara is a dish I have been waiting to try but resisting due to the runny eggs it will have. I decided to bite the bullet. With a vegetarian version of Canadian bacon and a Tyler Florence recipe, the pasta turned out yummy without any egginess (I cautiously did not use the Batali recipe, here). I bet it tastes so much better with REAL bacon. What a satisfying supper to curl up with!

Here is the dessert I had promised. These coconut crepes are really simple. It is a Malaysian dessert that is also made in certain regions of southern India. My mom got this recipe from my aunt and this is the first time I made this one after eating it several times in my mom's kitchen.

Coconut crepes with coconut-cardamom filling

2 cups fresh-grated coconut or dessicated coconut
10 Tbs. dark brown sugar
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix the grated coconut, brown sugar and granulated sugar and salt together.
Fry the mixture in a dry pan over medium/low heat, constantly stirred for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mixture is dry and jam-like. Mix in cardamom and set it aside.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups coconut milk
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
3 drops green food coloring (optional) - This is not added in India
Vegetables oil, butter or clarified butter

Mix the flour, coconut milk, ½ tsp. salt, green food coloring and eggs into a smooth batter.
Lightly grease an 8-inch frying pan with clarified butter or butter, and pour 3 tablespoon of the batter into the pan. Make sure the pan is equally covered with the batter so it becomes a thin crepe. Fry for one minute, turn the crepe over and fry for another minute. Remove and set aside.
Place 2 Tbs. of the coconut mixture on the near edge of the pancake. Fold over once, then tuck in the left and the right sides and fold over once more. Press gently to distribute the filling evenly.
Serve hot.

This is not much to look at (since I don't tint the crepe green), all white and hiding the luscious filling inside. You have to have it hot, or else the crepe becomes too tough and leathery. So no photo for this one!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Grilling up a great vegetarian burger

I was suddenly overcome by a desire to grill something. This was probably the result of seeing Nupur's BBQ shots. Well, I love my George Foreman grill since it is a way for me to channel my grilling desires. Yes, the char-grilled taste is never there. But *sigh* in my apartment, using an outdoor grill can be done only with a fire-engine standing near-by. I had some colossal portabella mushrooms and they formed the patty. I also made some burger buns from the 'Complete book of breads' by Bernard Clayton. The mushrooms marinated in some oil and vinegar. I grilled them up and just half a mushroom was sufficient was a burger.

For this simple, meatless burger I used a corn salsa and a smoky ricotta dressing as flavorful condiments. They really make this dish southwestern.

For the salsa, mix kernels from 2 corns with two finely chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup minced cilantro, 1/2 a can of drained fire-roasted chilies and 4-5 diced red radishes. Add 1/2 tsp cayenne, salt and lemon juice to taste. The radish is so flavorful after 10 min or so.

For the ricotta sauce or dressing, blend 4 tablespoons of ricotta (I think yogurt can be used too), 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, remaining can of fire-roasted chilies, salt and a squeeze or so of lemon juice.

I am really happy to have thought of this one. The salsa and dressing were good just by themselves on a grilled mushroom. So low-carbing here I come!

Friday, June 17, 2005

SHF #9- Tarts- Nectarine blueberry frangipane tart and Mocha tart

This month's tart-mania is hosted by Life in flow. Having possessed two tart pans and a set of tartlet molds, I chose to go for the free-form tart (or the galette or the crostata, however called). I don't know why, but the rustic look of these folded over tarts were very appealing. I had to just pile up the fruits and fold over the excess dough to form a package of sorts. Here is the David Lebovitz's recipe in which I made the nectarine and blueberry substitutions for the fruits. I don't try new fruits and I have by-passed nectarines for their peachy, over-powering fragrance. But making this tart really made me get over this aversion.

The baked tart was really a juicy, sides too caramelized sort of mess. Not a pretty picture. Some tears on the sides caused the juices to flow out. Not a pretty sight, but delicious all the same with or without icecream. The frangipane formed a sort of pasty base coat (but indiscernible) to prevent the bottom crust from sogginess.

I wanted to make a tart that looked good. So off I went with tart baking, Take-2. Since it is my husband S's birthday today, what better way to celebrate than by eating mocha tart? This recipe is from the chocolate guru, Alice Medrich's book Bittersweet. Of course, even after making some sacrilegious fat-cutting substitutions (like using fat-free evaporated milk for the cream), the tart was very delicious. I did not feel the espresso flavor gave any depth to the chocolate mixture. I added a little mint extract and it sure did warm things up. The tart did have a pudding like filling when warm. I don't care for jello-like foods and so I served the tart chilled. The filling had become almost like soft-fudge. Delicious!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Mango curry South Indian style

Does it happen to you? You buy mangoes that seem soft to touch, cut it open only to find that the mango has been softened by human contact rather than naturally. This is what you can probably do with a not-so-ripe, sort-of-tart and oh-so-boring mango that you have hastened to cut up. This is a curry from south India where it is called puli (sour) kuzhambu. Don't let the quantity of garlic worry you. It will turn sweeter as it simmers in the curry and you will not have a strong flavor in the gravy either.

Mango curry

for paste:
1 tsp lentils of some kind (more specifically urad dal)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds-optional
1/2 large onion - coarsely chopped or 1/4 cup peeled shallots or pearl onions
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp or more cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp oil

Heat oil in a saute pan. Add lentils and fenugreek. When they start turning golden, add onions and saute until translucent and soft. Add the spices and saute for 10 sec. Add the cilantro annd little water and saute 1 min. Cool and grind this into a smooth paste.

for curry:
1-2 not-so-ripe mangoes (peeled or unpeeled, cut into large chunks)
1/2 large onion or 1/4 cup peeled shallots or pearl onions
8-10 cloves garlic
4 tomatoes, chopped or 1 cup tomato puree
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds - optional
2 cups water
1 tsp oil
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
some curry leaves

Heat oil. Add mustard seeds and fenugreek and let mustard seeds splutter. Add onions and garlic and saute until golden brown. Add the ground paste and saute for 1 min. Add the mango chunks and saute for 1 min more. Add the tamarind paste, tomatoes, salt and water. Mix well and simmer until slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Garnish with curry leaves and chopped cilantro.

This sweet and hot curry goes well with rice.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hot, sweet and sour Pineapple soup

This recipe is a variation of the south Indian Rasam, that is eaten with rice. In the US, Indian restaurants often serve rasam as a light soup. It is tangy, spicy and is a great appetite-builder. The Pineapple rasam is quite often served in Tamil weddings. All you need is a medium chunk of pineapple. This will not deplete your eating supply. The only prep-work you need for this is to make the rasam spice powder. This is a great recipe if you want to make just enough spice mix for using a couple of times.

Pineapple soup/rasam

1 medium chunk pineapple, chopped into small bits (if you have the core, you can also use it for flavor)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp tamarind paste (have I convinced you enough to get tamarind paste???)
1.5 tsp rasam spice mix
1/4 cup cooked pigeon peas
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 cups water

1/2 tsp ghee or oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds

Mix tamarind paste with water. Add tomatoes, spice mix, turmeric and salt. Simmer for 3 min or so. Add the pineapple bits and core now and bring to a boil. Add the cooked pigeon peas and add more water to make a thin broth. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove core of pineapple, if used.

Turn off heat and add the pepper and chopped cilantro. Splutter mustard seeds and cumin seeds in ghee or oil and add to the rasam.

This soup/rasam has a lot going. It is slightly sweet, only enough to bring the tart and spicy flavors out. The pineapple remains a beautiful accent without making the soup too perfumey. Go on, try it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Quick and easy Mango pickle

Indians make pickles out of a lotta things, mango being the prized ingredient for pickle-making. Green mangoes are as much awaited as ripe, sweet mangoes. For pickle-making, the tarter the green mango, the better. Here is a pickle, that requires no marination for days. You can consume it as soon as you make. This is a recipe that is used in our family when just 2-3 green mangoes are purchased from the market. Refrigerate and consume within a week before the mangoes become too soft from the salt. As loved it is in our family, it quickly loses its appeal once the mangoes become soft.

1 green, tart mango (cubed with skin)
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (dry-roasted and powdered)
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1/4 tsp turmeric powder(optional)
1 tsp red chili powder
3/4 tsp salt (or more as required)
2 tbsp oil (preferably sesame oil)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds

Place the cubed mangoes in a bowl. Add red chili powder, turmeric and salt. Also add the ground fenugreek powder. Mix everything well. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. After they splutter, add the asafoetida into the hot oil. Pour the seasoning into the pickle and mix well. Store in a glass or plastic container in the refrigerator.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Asparagus risotto and Roasted cherry tomatoes

I purchased some arborio rice at Trader Joe's and decided to make some asparagus risotto. With carb-loving vegetarians like me, risotto takes the place of an entree rather than as a side-dish. I served it up with some sweet, roasted cherry tomatoes, courtesy Emeril again. Whats up with this? I have made two of his recipes in less than a month, even though I have not watched even a single show of his for the past two years. Hmmm...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Coconut sambar

Sambar is a traditional south Indian dish to eat with rice, steamed cakes called idlis, or the crepe-like dosa. This is a variation and the gravy is thickened not with cooked up lentils but with a ground coconut paste. So as you can guess, this has almost half a coconut and tons of calories too. But this is a special occasion dish and my occasion is I have too much fresh coconut, a rather uncommon occurrence here.

This sambar does not need vegetables for flavor. But of course, you can saute up some onions, bell peppers and tomatoes and add it to the simmering sambar.

Coconut sambar
Roast the following in a little oil until brownish but not burnt and grind to a smooth paste:
1/2 a coconut, grated
2 tsp urad dal
1 tsp tur dal
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
4 dried red chilies

Mix 1 tsp tamarind paste, 1/2 tsp turmeric with 2 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the ground paste, veggies that are half-cooked and a little more water if too thick. Boil again until everything comes together. Splutter 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds and few curry leaves in a little vegetable oil and add to the sambar.

The flavor improves upon sitting and it is even better the next day. Serve it with rice or dosas.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Dal dhokli- Pasta's Indian counterpart

This is a Gujarati dish and it is looked upon with respect for its nutritional value. A pot of soupy dal becomes the cooking liquid for semi-cooked spiced roti dumplings. This is a protein dream for vegetarians. You can make it as low-carb as you wish by reducing the amount of roti pieces but then it will be more soupy than saucey. The flour in the dumplings thickens the dal quite a bit and makes it into a saucy pasta-like dish. Using ghee is the way to go for this peasant style dish. As Rachel Ray puts it, when you are low-carbing (even if it is for a day), moderate fat intake is ok, right.

2 cups split pigeon peas or tur dal
2 tbsp raw peanuts
3/4 tsp tamarind paste or 4 pieces of kokum
1 tomato chopped
2 tsp sugar or brown sugar or jaggery
1 tsp turmeric powder (divided)
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 serrano chiles, slit
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp grated ginger
Cilantro, finely chopped

for tempering:
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
few curry leaves(optional)
2 cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 dried red chilies
1/4 tsp asafoetida (optional)
2 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp oil

for dhoklis or dumplings:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp asafetida (optional)
2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp cumin or carom seeds

Mix whole wheat flour with salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin or carom seeds, asafoetida, oil and sufficient water to knead into a hard dough. Divide into smaller portions and roll into thin rotis. Roast slightly in a skillet on both sides, till the rotis dry up slightly. Cool and cut them into diamonds or squares. You can also cut this into papparadelle pasta sheets.

1.Wash and cook the dal and peanuts with 1/2 tsp turmeric and sufficient quantity of water. The lentil should turn into a mush when mashed. Mash dal until smooth with peanuts sticking out.
2.Heat the ghee-oil mixture in a saucepan. Add all the tempering ingredients and stir until the mustard seeds splutter. Add the tomatoes, ginger, green chilies and stir for 30 sec. Add 2.5 cups water, sugar, chili powder, remaining turmeric powder, kokum or tamarind paste and simmer for 10 min.
3.Add mashed up lentil mixture and salt. Simmer for another 10 min. At this point, dal will be very thin like its derivative rasam.

About 15 min before serving, bring dal to a boil. Add dhokli pieces, one or two at a time. Simmer for 15 min. If the dal is becoming too thick, before 15 min elapse, add more water. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and squeeze the lemon juice. Serve hot as a saucy pasta or serve at room temperature like a more-thickened upma.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mango memories of Montreal

We enjoyed a mango that was cut up in a similar way on one of the street markets in Montreal. I loved Montreal although our not knowing French was a disadvantage in every way. I do not remember the street name but it had foods of all ethnicities. A Latin American vendor cut up mangoes like this, sprinkling it with lemon, paprika and salt, and offering it to customers like an oversized flower. Since we went there two summers ago, whenever I buy mangoes, I try this at least once (not successfully every time). Try this paprika-lemon juice- salt treatment on cut up ripe mangoes. It is heavenly!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Brown sugar shortbread

We were invited to dinner by our friend V and his wife. They are one of the few couples we know who are not in some form of a diet. They don't need to be... Such lucky people can indulge in luxuries like shortbread. Having never made shortbread before, I decided to spoil our friends with some. V is a man of old-fashioned tastes and prefers habituated food stuff. He likes Danish butter cookies, the kind that is sold in beautiful cookie tins in Sam's and Costco, particularly during holiday season. Shortbread is a slight departure from butter cookies but the taste is buttery all the same. This recipe by Emeril for brown sugar shortbread is an interesting choice since it has a faint cinnamony flavor cutting through the brown sugar butterscotchy base.

This makes 12 large wedges. But let me tell you, you would not want to eat such a huge, artery-clogging wedge. If you do, this might lead you to develop an aversion towards shortbread for another year. I cut each wedge into smaller pieces and I had around 48 small chunks.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Chole or Punjabi channa

Chole is a Punjabi way of cooking chickpeas. It is served with yeast bread called kulcha or with puffed, fried bread called batura. Kulche-chole combo is a popular street food in Delhi. Chole made this way is tangy, slightly sweet and spicy, all at once. This is also the way mom makes chickpeas. The recipe was copied diligently from an old carton of channa masala powder, by a true foodie i.e. me a decade ago (gawd, I'm old). Chole should be thick enough to coat the spoon but not soupy. Perhaps this is why it is easy to eat them standing on street corners. The spices I have used are traditional punjabi ones. If you plan on making channa a lot, you can buy a special channa masala blend that has all the sweet, tart flavor needed for chole. As with other Indian recipes, each household has its own recipe and here is mine evolved from a carton of channa masala blend:

1 large onion, minced (sweet onions like maui, or red onions, or white ones are preferable to standard yellow ones)
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 earl grey tea bag (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 8oz can diced tomatoes or 4 large tomatoes, finely chopped tomatoes
1 inch Chopped ginger
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 green chilies
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 T channa masala powder or garam masala powder
1 tsp Turmeric Pwd
1 tsp red Chili powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp pomegranate seeds or 1 tsp ground mango powder (this is not required if you use channa masala powder, or squeeze lemon juice before serving)
Salt to taste
Oil to fry

For Garnish
Chopped Coriander leaves-2 tbspns
Finely sliced Onion rings from 2 Onions
Lemon wedges

Cook channa in heavily salted water along with bay leaves and tea bag. The tea bag infuses a smoky flavor to the chickpeas and also darkens them a little. You can leave them out if you want. Cook until chickpeas are tender. If I am using canned chickpeas, I add the tea bag while simmering the sauce.

cooked chickpeas

Grind a handful of the boiled channa with Ginger, ½ of the minced onions, green chilies, garlic, turmeric, red chili powder and Pomegranate seeds to a smooth paste.

Heat 2 tbsp oil and add cumin seeds and splutter. Add remaining onions, fry till onions are golden brown. Add the ground masala, ground coriander and ground cumin & fry on medium flame till you longer smell raw onions and garlic, about 5 minutes or may be more in a non-stick pan.
ground paste

Add chopped tomatoes, salt, sugar and tamarind paste– mix well and cook till tomatoes are well blended with the masala. Simmer sauce for 5 minutes until sauce thickens and is a good orange.


Add the cooked channa, garam masala & a little water, if the sauce is too thick. Mix well & cook 5 min more till sauce thickens and coats the chickpeas. Add chopped cilantro and serve with lemon wedges along with rotis or naans.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Trader Joe's anyone?

After I came across several fan forums for Trader Joe's food stores (TJ), I made it my prerogative to visit the place. Considering that the nearest store is about 4 hours away, it was very special for me when I visited the store. I visited TJ at Wayne, PA during the memorial day weekend when I was coming back from New Jersey. It was a shopping spree for me. I hoard stuff like crazy and my pantry is bulging at the seams now. The experience is great compared to visiting the rip-off Whole Foods. It is good and all that- but it leaves your wallet less bulky...

Simmer sauces, dips and apple butter

More simmer sauces, tapenade, (smoky)smoky black bean dip

We bought so many healthy snacks (including **wink, wink -cookies**) and they taste great. I did not get the same experience with snacks from Whole Foods. But truly, I am thankful they have a store in Pittsburgh, when many popular gourmet chain stores shun our area.

Salted edamame, peanut butter filled pretzels, graham animal crackers, chocolate orange fingers, Kona coffee white chocolate macadamia cookies...

Fat free nori rice crackers

The nori rice crackers are very good especially if you like the nori part of a sushi like I do.

Herbal escapades with cilantro- Cilantro chutney with peanuts

After my last escapade with mint, I have decided to make a series with other herbs too, what with the herb season just starting off. Cilantro is my favorite herb and I find it such a refreshing flavor. I know many of you find it overwhelming, soapy and cover your noses because you perceive them to smell like rotten veggies. I feel the same about the overrated parsley. Having grown up with cilantro in everything, I think I can eat cilantro or coriander, as called in Asia, even as a salad. In India, our regular vegetable vendor gives us huge bunches of cilantro and curry leaves free (huge here means bigger bunches than we buy in USA) when we buy other veggies from him. They are so mundane in our daily lives. Cilantro is a flavor enhancer in many dishes but the most common dish where cilantro is the star is in a chutney. Chutney as I know it, is spicy and tart. Never sweet. Several regional variations exist for cilantro chutney. This is a variation from the south western part of India.

Yogurt 1/2 cup
Cumin Seeds 1 tsp
Garlic 1 tbsp
Peanuts 1/2 cup , toasted is better although raw will work
Lemon Juice 1 tbsp
Ginger (chopped) 1 tsp
Tamarind Paste 1/2 tsp or more lemon juice
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves (chopped) 1 medium sized bunch
Fresh mint leaves - a handful (optional)
Green serrano chilies (chopped) 2-3 (2 jalapenos may be used instead)

Mix cumin seeds, garlic, peanuts, lemon juice, green chilies, salt, coriander leaves, mint leaves, ginger and tamarind paste and blend a little until coarsely ground. Add yogurt and a little water and blend together into a smooth, slightly thick paste and serve. Season, if you feel it necessary, with a couple of red chilies, 1/4 tsp each of urad dal and mustard seeds.

I love this with Indian breads. For a light lunch, I like to use this as a spread on sandwiches along with some cream cheese. Yummy!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Mixed vegetable pickle

I have been looking at my cupboards longingly at the now empty jars of spicy pickles that mom packed for me when I returned from my vacation in India. Rice is a part of my daily diet, most often. Without Indian homemade pickles, eating rice is really boring, even if dal, curries etc. are present. When Indira made her lemon pickles, I was so happy that I found a connoisseur of Indian pickles. After my first semi-disastrous attempt at making mango pickle, here is my second trial of making a crunchy, mixed vegetable pickle. I have started to love veggie pickle after our visits to the Hindu temple in Pittsburgh, where along with all the delicious food this pickle is also served.

2-3 carrots, sliced into small cubes
1/2 cauliflower, separated into small florets
15 green beans, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 inch ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
5 green chilies, sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. red chilli powder
1/2 tsp. fenugreek powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp.turmeric powder
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. asafoetida (if available)
1 tbsp. canola oil

Combine all the vegetables in a bowl. Add salt, red chilli powder, lemon juice, fenugreek powder, turmeric and mix well. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, when it pops add the asafoetida. Add this to the vegetable mix. For the next two days stir and shake well once a day. Store in refrigerator.

For longer preservation, top the pickle in the jar with more oil so that pickle does not come into contact with air when jar is opened.

The result for now has been ho-hum. It is more like a crunchy, marinated salad that has been spiced up way too much. But since this pickle like ceviche, needs time for flavors to mingle and vegetables to soften, I will wait for a couple of days before I adjudge this as a failed attempt.