27 February, 2009

Super Hot & Spicy Kolhapuri Misal: Not for the Faint Hearted!


Kolhapuri Misal

Who likes spicy food?
I mean really spicy… spicy as the one that turn your nose crimson red and brings tears in your eyes! Spicy as you are left with wiping your nose and eyes and yet you are smile and happily continue to devour the food! Yeah, I am talking of hot and fiery spicy food.

If you are still reading this and nodding your head in agreement then this recipe is for you. We have hot and fiery Kolhapuri Misal in our today’s menu. Last time I had it was in Belgaum where my friend took me to this small hotel in one corner of the city. It was not a fancy hotel with crystal chandeliers and comfy cushions. Instead it was a small, modest hotel with wooden tables and long benches in a small square room with sea green coloured walls and red roof tiles. The hotel’s owner was sitting right next to the entrance door on a beautifully carved high rosewood chair. And in front of him was the ancient rosewood table with half a dozen big glass canisters filled with coloured peppermints and chocolates. The wall behind him was adorned with framed, colourful pictures of goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth), lord Ganesha (elephant faced Hindu god) and goddess Saraswati (goddess of knowledge). The owner himself was a pleasant looking guy with kumkum on his forehead and wore white kurta and dhoti.

The aroma drifting from the small kitchen was enough to make me dizzy with hunger. But the hotel was packed with people occupying every possible table. Still my friend rushed inside almost dragging me along to a table occupied by two strangers. Before I could say anything she was sitting on a bench where a middle aged guy was eating Ragi Mudde Oota and nodded her head asking me to sit in front bench where another college student was devouring some delicious lentil gravy with pav. With in few minutes I realised that the people who had occupied that particular table also didn’t know each other and without any feeling of awkwardness they both seemed to be enjoying their meal!

Soon my friend ordered for two plates of Kolhapuri Misal and within few minutes we were served a plateful of sprouted lentils in gravy topped with chopped onions, tomatoes and crisp farsan along with twp pav buns and a small katori of fiery red curry called Kat. The server also left a tall glass of water and a big steel jar filled with water to the brim. My friend looked at me and smiled and asked me to pour some red gravy on top of sprouted lentils. She showed me how to eat it by breaking her pav into small pieces and dipping it in gravy and scooping little lentils along with chopped veggies and crunchy farsan. And what happened after that left me speechless!

I was experiencing the explosion of different flavours at once but the main flavour being fiery hot. There we were sitting right next to total strangers and devouring one of the spiciest food on this planet. The tears started rolling from my eyes and I needed my handkerchief to wipe my nose and eyes at same time! Small drops of sweat started forming on my forehead and nose and my nose matched that of circus buffoon. But still I couldn’t help but think that it was one of the best foods I have had in my life. That was my first encounter with Matki or Moth Beans and the earthy taste of it made big impact on my taste buds. Sprouted moth beans cooked in spicy gravy along with potato was wholesome and simply delicious. And the taste of Kat, fiery spicy red gravy, served along with Misal is something that I had never experienced in my life before! By the time we both licked cleaned our plates, we had also finished drinking last drop of water from that big steel jar and were asking for more water!!!

Since then it had kind of slipped from my mind until few weeks back when I received a mail from my friend reminding our wonderful days spent in hostel and the food we gorged during weekends or weekdays when we couldn’t stand the thought of chewing bullet proof chapatti with watery dal in hostel mess. Suddenly I remembered eating Kolhapuri Misal and there was nothing that could stop me from eating it except I had to Google for the recipe and cook it all by myself. While googling for the recipe I stumbled upon Nupur’s One Hot Stove and Vaidehi’s Chakali and I decided to cook it on weekend. A day before the cooking, I made fresh batch of Kolhapuri Masala/Chutney following Nupur’s recipe. Since then I have been using this spice powder in stir fries and curries in place of garam masala and experiencing the goodness of homemade spice powder. I cooked Usal following Nupur’s recipe and made the spicy curry Kat following Vaidehi’s recipe for Kat. Since then I have cooked this delicious Kolhapuri Misal twice in last month and next time I am thinking of combining moong sprouts with matki sprouts. Kolhapuri Usal is a wholesome, delicious, humble food and is a must for every Marathi and spicy food lovers. Without much delay let me give you step by step instruction on how to make this fiery hot bowl of Kolhapuri Misal. This my entry for Ashwini's Lentils Mela and Susan’s My Legume Love Affair.



Kolhapuri Misal

Day 1: Wash and then soak 1 cup of Matki/Moth beans in 2 cups of water in the morning. Let it soak for at least 8-10 hours. Then drain water from the beans and place them in a colander lined with damp muslin cloth. Cover the beans with the muslin cloth (like money bag) and place the colander in a dark place overnight. Make sure that the cloth is damp enough and sprinkle little water in between so that the beans don’t dry out. It usually takes 2 days (16-24 hrs) here for the beans to sprout well. So if I am planning to cook anything with sprouted beans I make sure that I prepare for it two days well in advance.

You can also prepare the Kolhapuri Masala/Chutney on day one itself and store it in an air tight jar. And make sure that you have got all the ingredients needed for making Misal. You can also make the spice powder for Kat this day or simply use Kolhapuri chutney in its place.

Day 2: This is the day you prepare Usal and Kat. Preparing Usal and Kat is very simple and straightforward since we have already prepared the Kolhapuri chutney on previous day. Over all it took me around 1 hour to cook and serve spicy Kolhapuri Misal with help from TH.

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Kolhapuri Masala/Chutney Powder
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 5-10 mins
Makes: ½ cup
Shelf Life: 1 month
Recipe Source: One Hot Stove
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner to Intermdeiary
Spice Level: Medium to High


Ingredients:
½ cup Red Chilli Powder
¼ cup Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
2 tbsp Dry Coconut. Shredded (unsweetened variety)
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Black Peppercorns
¼ inch Cinnamon Stick
2-3 Cloves
¼ tsp Fennel Seeds
½ medium Onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
¼ cup Coriander Leaves, patted dry and finely chopped
½ tbsp Oil

Kolhapuri Masala/Chutney Powder

Method:
Dry roast coriander seeds, jeera, sesame seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cloves and fennel seeds in a skillet till they are fragrant and roasted fine, about 1-2 mins. Set it aside to cool.
Heat oil in a same pan and roast finely sliced onion, garlic and coriander leaves till they are nicely browned and crisp. Set them aside to cool completely.
Now grind all these ingredients to fine powder. Add red chilli powder to the ground spice powder and mix them well.
Cool and store this spice powder in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.


Note:
Since the spice powder is made using fresh ingredients like onion, garlic and coriander leaves, make sure that they are nicely browned (but not burnt) and dry. Or else the spice powder will have shorter shelf life.


Kolhapuri Misal

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Kat (Spicy Gravy served with Misal)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes: 1¼ cup
Recipe Source: Chakli
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Super HOT!
Serving Suggestion: With Usal


Ingredients:
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
4-5 tsp Red Chilli Powder
2-3 pieces of Kokum or 1 tsp Tamarind Paste
Salt to taste
2-3 tbsp Oil (Original recipe calls for 5-6 tbsp)

For Kat Paste:
1 small Onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp grated Coconut, fresh/frozen
2 tbsp Oil

Grind to Fine Powder:
3-4 Garlic Cloves
1 inch Ginger, peeled
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
2-3 cloves
1 Bay Leaf
2-3 Black Peppercorns
1 tbsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Coriander Powder
-OR-
Simply use 2 tbsp Kolhapuri Masala in place of the above spice powder

Kat

Method:
For Kat Paste:
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and ground masala powder or Kolhapuri masala and sauté for couple of seconds till the raw smell disappears from spice base. Make sure that you don’t burn it.
Next add finely chopped onion and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Mix in grated coconut and cook till the mixture starts to leave oil, about 3 minutes.
Cool the mixture completely and grind to smooth paste adding little water at time.

For Kat:
Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a pan and add turmeric powder, chilli powder and hing. Immediately add the Kat paste and about ¾-1 cup of water and mix well. Mix in kokum/tamarind paste and salt to taste and bring the whole mixture to boil. Turn off the heat and keep it aside till needed.


Kolhapuri Misal

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Kolhapuri Misal/Usal (Sprouted Moth Beans cooked in Spicy Gravy of Onion, Coconut and Kolhapuri Misal Masala)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20-30 mins
Serves: 4-6
Recipe Source: One Hot Stove
Recipe Level: Easy/Basic to Intermediary
Spice Level: Super HOT!
Serving Suggestion: With Pav Bun


Ingredients:
1 cup Dry Matki/Moth Beans, soaked overnight and sprouted
1 large Potato, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 large Onion, finely chopped
½ cup raw/roasted Peanuts
1 tsp Tamarind Paste
1-2 tbsp Jaggery/Brown Sugar
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
Salt to taste

For Kolhapuri Masala/Chutney Paste:
1 large Onion, finely chopped
½ cup grated coconut, fresh/frozen
1 heaped tbsp Kolhapuri Masala/Chutney (Adjust acc to taste)
½-1 tbsp Oil

For Tadka:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
Few Curry Leaves
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida (Optional)
1-2 tbsp Oil

Kolhapuri Misal

Method:
First prepare Kolhapuri Masala/Chutney paste. Heat oil in a pan and add finely chopped onion. Sauté the onion till it turn golden brown. Then add grated coconut and Kolhapuri masala and sauté till the coconut turns golden brown. Cool this mixture and then grind to smooth paste adding little water at time. Keep it aside until needed.
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. When it starts to pop and splutter, add cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves. Sauté till cumin turns golden and then add chopped onions to it.
When onions turn translucent, add peanuts, sprouts, potato, turmeric powder, ground Kolhapuri masala paste and salt. Keep stirring for couple of minutes till the masala is evenly spread.
Now add 5-6 cups of water and cook in medium flame. When curry starts to boil, simmer the heat and cook till the sprouts turn tender and potatoes are cooked thoroughly.
Mix in tamarind paste and jaggery and simmer for few more minutes for all the flavours to blend well. Adjust the seasonings before serving this delicious Misal.


Kolhapuri Misal

To Assemble Misal:
Ingredients needed:
Kat
Usal
Yogurt
Finely chopped Onion, tomato & Coriander Leaves
Lime/Lemon Wedges
Farsan or any Spicy Mixture or Chips
Pav or White Bread Slices
Method:
Take an individual bowl/plate and add 2 ladles full of Usal. Drizzle Kat depending on how spicy you like, yogurt, finely chopped onion, tomato and coriander leaves on top of Usal. Then add little bit of farsan/spicy mixture/crushed potato chips and serve this along lime/lemon wedges and slices of white bread/Pav.


Notes:
Use dry desiccated coconut if fresh/frozen coconut is not available.
Use Green Moong Beans if Matki/Moth beans are not available. Make sure that you use the sprouted beans.
For delicious, fulfilling meal/diet idea, serve simple Usal with a cup of cold Yogurt.
You can use combination of Garlic paste + Coriander powder + Cumin powder + Red Chilli powder + Garam masala in place of Kolhapuri Masala (Tip by Nupur).

24 February, 2009

Capsicum Bhath: Spring Colours in my Blog!

Capsicum Bhath

Yes, it’s still blank. Did you just ask me what is blank? Arrey, my mind yaar!!! Remember this rant? It’s been close to a week and still the story remains the same. What story? The tragic story of my life, no stories to share! Yes, no rants, no stories and not even gibberish to write as my brain seemed to have frozen my creative corner (?!). Although I have kept my small creative corner to thaw, I am clueless as how long it will take to defrost!

While it’s till on long, extended vacation I will continue to write posts with just recipes which are the important bit of this blog. After all Monsoon Spice is a food blog and somewhere down the line I seem to have deviated a bit and concentrating more on writing my biography than food itself. So this might be the only chance for me to write just about food. And come to think of it, this might be the only chance for my readers to save themselves from unnecessary pain in finger tips and eyes due to excessive scrolling and reading my life saga! So dear reader friend, enjoy this golden opportunity while it lasts because opportunity like this doesn’t come very often ;)

Justify FullCapsicum Bhath

So what do we have today? Well, we have another plate of delicious flavoured Rice, Capsicum Bhath. Very similar to Vangi Bhath that I had posted last month. Well, the truth is this is THE recipe for Vangi Bhath with just few extra ingredients but the purple beauties baby eggplants have been replaced by the colourful bell peppers. So why blog it when it is the same recipe? Because of Krish. K is allergic (literally) to eggplants and I am one of those nut cases who can eat anything cooked with eggplants every single day of my life (mmm… may be alternate days) and never get bored of it. Other day when I made Vangi Bhath powder I also happened to casually mention about my plan of using it in Capsicum Bhath and I remember him nodding his head. So yesterday when I mentioned about making Capsicum Bhath he didn’t show any interest and instead he had that look on his face when I had initially started cooking. He very much looked like the lab rat of my initial adventures in kitchen. Well, it’s not a very pleasant feeling when your husband doubts your cooking skill after 3 years of cooking (Ok, you can exclude first 6 months from it)!!! So I had this challenge of not only making something that looked appetizing but also delicious enough to make him ask for the second serving.

And boy, did I succeed in doing that or what!!! Not only it looked colourful and very much appetizing, it smelled heavenly. And the best thing of all is he even had it for dinner and licked the bowl clean ;) Now you know why I had to blog this recipe. Although the ingredients used are same as the Vangi Bhath, the taste is very different to that. It had slight sweet bites in between due to coloured peppers and jaggery. While the tamarind juice added wonderful sour note to it and the aromatic homemade Vangi Bhath Masala powder redefined the word ‘tasty’! When served with cool Cucumber & Mint Raita, this delicious plate of Capsicum Bhath was one exceptional meal that reminds us why simple food are the most loved ones. Just one look at that plateful of colourful Capsicum Bhath and I felt I am ready to say good bye to white winters! Don't you feel that the spring is in the air? I do...

Coloured Peppers & Basmati Rice for Capsicum Bhath

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Capsicum Bhath (Spicy and Sour Coloured Bell Pepper Rice)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins (If using leftover rice) to 30 mins
Serves: 4-5
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Medium
Serving Suggestion: With Papad or with any Raita or with a cup of Curds/Yogurt

Ingredients:
2 cups Rice or 6-8 cups Cooked Rice (Preferably Basmati or Sona Masuri)
3 medium Capsicums/Bell Peppers (I used red, yellow and green), cut into bite sized pieces
1 large Red Onion, cut into bite sized pieces
1-2 Green Chillies, slit (Optional)
1 small lime sized Tamarind Pulp, soaked in ¼ cups of warm water and juice extracted
1-2 tbsp Jaggery (Adjust acc to taste)
2-3 tbsp Vangi Bhath Powder (Adjust acc to taste)
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
Few Cashews, roasted in little ghee
Salt to taste

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Urad Dal/Split Black Grams
1 tbsp Channa Dal/Split Chickpeas
2 Dry Red Chillies, halved
2 springs of Fresh Curry Leaves
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
2 tbsp Oil/Ghee or combination of both (You can use more if needed)
Capsicum Bhath

Method:
Cook rice in enough water and let it cool completely. Then take this cooked rice and add tbsp of oil to it. Mix well making sure that every grain is separate. Keep it aside till needed.
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. When it starts to pop and splutter, add jeera, channa dal, urad dal, halved dry red chillies, hing and curry leaves. Sauté till the lentils turn golden brown. Add slit green chillies, if using, and onion pieces to it and sauté till it turns translucent, about 2 mins.
Mix in bell peppers, turmeric and stir well. Keep stirring continuously till every piece of pepper is coated well with tadka and the skin starts to wilt, about 3-4 mins. Make sure that you don’t over cook the peppers and it should retain its crunchiness.
Next add tamarind water, jaggery, vangi bhath powder, and salt to taste and mix well. Cover and cook at medium heat for 2-3 more minutes, stirring in between. When the capsicums are cooked partially, add cooked rice and roasted cashews and mix well. Cook for 2 more minutes till every grain of rice is heated through and the spice mixture is coated well.
Serve this delicious Capsicum Bhath with cool Raita and Papads and enjoy.

20 February, 2009

Bisi Bele Bhath & Potato Raita: Simple Pleasures of Life

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Roasted Spices for Bisi Bele Bhath Masala

Past month has been really hectic in terms of professional and personal terms. So hectic that I missed seeing the daffodil and tulip bulbs that we had planted last year sprout (is that the right word?). I missed noticing how the temperature has been slowly rising to double digits. I missed hearing birds chirping happily in our back garden. I missed to notice that it’s not pitch dark when I leave to my office and when I come back to home from work. I missed so many things till yesterday when I bent to pick the coins that had fallen from my hands and saw these lovely, delicate purple and yellow Crocuses beaming happily at sun.

Yes, spring is in the air… little early perhaps but it is almost there! I stopped on the track to admire those little beauties for a while before rushing to finish my work. The delicate petals of Crocus were fluttering in cool breeze and they looked like a small, happy kids playing in a park, the radiance on their face competing with that of the sun god! The little flowers looked like a bunch of happy kids, their smile so infectious that you can’t help but smile and laugh with them. I just spent few minutes admiring them and I felt good, really good for that matter!(Now you know the reason behind my template make over. It reflects my mood... Cheerful and alive!) Don’t you think its little pleasures like this that uplifts our spirit and makes us happy?

And Bisi Bele Huli Anna or Bisi Bele Bhath or BBB is one such thing that falls into small pleasures of life! Bisi Bele Bhath is a classic rice dish from Karnataka and one of the most loved comfort food. Bisi Bele Huli Anna may not be the pretty, photogenic dish but the its taste more than compensates for everything. It has got heat from that lovely roasted spice powder, hint of sweetness from jaggery, and tangy note from tamarind. But most importantly it is one pot of rice and lentil medley packed with proteins. I usually make fresh batch of Bisi Bele Bhath masala powder but you can also use store bought ones (MTR being the next best thing to homemade). Serve BBB with Raita or Chips/Papad and see your loved ones falling in love with this classic, down to earth dish. This is my humble entry for Susan’s lovely event My Legume Love Affair.

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Bisi Bele Bhath

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Bisi Bele Bhath Masala Powder
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 5 mins
Makes: About ¾ cup
Shelf Life: 1-1½ months when stored in an air tight container and refrigerated
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Medium to Hot

Ingredients:
½ cup Desiccated Coconut (unsweetened variety)
½ - 1 tsp Black Peppers
¼ tsp Methi/Fenugreek Seeds
2 inches Cinnamon Stick
4 cloves
1 small Peanut sized Nutmeg
2 Mace (I didn’t have any)
2 tbsp Urad Dal/Split black Lentils
1 tbsp Channa Dal/Split Chickpeas
10-12 Dry Red Chillies (I used combination of Byadagi and normal spicy ones for colour and heat)
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Powder
1½ tsp Coriander Seeds
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
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Bisi Bele Bhath Masala Powder

Method:
Heat the pan and add all the ingredients except desiccated coconut and turmeric. Dry roast them on low heat till the lentils turn light golden brown in colour and the spices are aromatic. Transfer these roasted spices into a dry coffee grinder or mixer and wait till they are completely cooled.
Once cooled, mix in desiccated coconut and grind them to fine powder. Store this aromatic Bisi Bele Bhath Masala powder in a dry, air tight container and keep refrigerated and use as and when required. The shelf life of this powder is about one to one and half months.

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Bisi Bele Bhath

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Bisi Bele Bhath/Bisi Bele Huli Anna (Rice and Lentil medley cooked with mixed vegetables and roasted spice powder)
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 6-8
Recipe Source: Amma
Recipe Level: Medium
Spice Level: Medium
Serving Suggestion: With any Raita or with Ghee & Papad/Chips

Ingredients:
2 cups Rice (I prefer Sona Masuri. You can also use Basmati rice)
1 cup Toor Dal/Red Lentils
4-6 cups Mixed Vegetables, cut into bite sized pieces (I used Carrots, French Beans, Green Peas, Cauliflower, Potato and Sweet Corn)
1 large Onion, thinly sliced
1 large Lime sized Tamarind Pulp, soaked in warm water and juice extracted (Adjust acc to taste)
1-2 tbsp Jaggery
2-3 tbsp (If using store bought) or ¼ - ½ cup Bisi Bele Bhath Masala (if using home made), adjust acc to taste
½ - 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
Few Cashew Nuts, roasted in little Ghee
Salt to taste
Little Ghee for serving

For Tadka:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tbsp Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils
1 tbsp Channa Dal/Split Chickpeas
1-2 Dry Red Chillies, halved
2 springs of Curry Leaves
¼ - ½ tsp Hing
2-3 tbsp Oil or Ghee or combination of both
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Method:
Although you can cook rice, lentils and vegetables together I follow my mom’s recipe where all three are cooked separately. Traditionally, rice, lentils and vegetables are cooked separately and then mixed together. I find cooking them separately gives it more taste than putting them all in one pot and cooking. I usually cook my rice in microwave and pressure cook vegetables and dal in two separate bowls. This works well for me. You can also mix vegetables with rice and cook them together and later mix them with cooked lentils.
Wash rice and lentils separately till water turns clear. Add 4 cups of water to rice and cook it in microwave bowl for 20 minutes. If using pressure cooker, then 2 whistles is enough.
Add 2-2 ½ cups of water to dal along with few drops of water and turmeric powder. Cook this dal in a pressure cooker along with vegetables (with little salt) for 2-3 whistles till lentils are cooked well. I usually add more water when cooking the vegetables as I like the veggies to be little mushy and blend well with rice and lentils. And the excess water from cooked vegetables is used in BBB for little runny texture.
While the rice, vegetables and lentils are cooked, make tamarind puree, bisi bele bhath powder, and slice the onions.
Once the dal is cooked mash it with a potato masher. Don’t worry if it is too watery. Keep mashed dal, cooked rice and vegetables aside till needed.
Heat oil or ghee in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. When it starts to pop and splutter, add urad dal, channa dal, hing, broken red chillies and curry leaves. Saute till lentils turn golden brown.
Next add sliced onions and sauté till they turn light golden brown in colour. Mix in mashed dal, tamarind juice, BBB masala powder and jaggery and bring them to gentle boil, about 3 mins.
Then add cooked rice and vegetables along with excess water and mix them well. Make sure that the BBB is runny by adding little more water if needed. Adjust the salt.
Mix in fried cashews and serve piping hot with little Ghee and papad/chips and cold Raita and enjoy this heavenly bowl of goodness.

You can serve any type of Raita or just plain yogurt with BBB. But my favourite Raita to be served along BBB is Aloo/Potato Raita. It is refreshing and unbelievably simple to make. Unlike most raitas, Potato Raita uses cooked vegetable and here it is boiled potatoes (obliviously!). The creamy yogurt gently mixed with this root vegetable along with sweet onion, hot green chillies and aromatic Tadka is one helluva of flavour explosion in mouth. And when served with hot BBB… Well, why don’t you try it for yourself and see!

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Potato Raita

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Potato/Aloo Raita
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves: 3-4
Recipe Source: Amma
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Low
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat breads or flavoured/steam cooked rice

Ingredients:
1 large potato, cooked, peeled and cut into small pieces
½ -1 small Red Onion, finely chopped
1 small Green chilli, finely chopped (Optional)
Pinch of Red Chilli Powder, for garnishing
1 tsp coriander Leaves, finely chopped
2-3 cups of Yogurt (mixed with ½-1 cup of water if it is too thick)
Salt to taste

For Tadka:
½ tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Dry Red Chilli
Few Curry Leaves
Very small pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
1 tsp Oil
Method:
Mix in yogurt, cooked potato pieces, coriander leaves, chopped chilli, and salt to taste.
Heat oil in a pan and mustard seeds to it. When it starts to pop and splutter, add hing, dry red chilli and curry leaves. Saute for few seconds and then transfer the Tadka to raita and mix well.
Chill the Potato Raita in fridge till required and serve it along BBB sprinkled with little chilli powder on top.

18 February, 2009

Masala Bhindi: Going Nuts!

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Masala Bhindi

There are so many things happening around me, so many things that I want to write and so many thoughts to share. But today I feel like I have run out of words. May be I’ll be able to do it once I clear my mind and focus on just one thing at a time. But I am not sure when this going to happen! :)

So, al I am going to write about is food and just food, till I bounce back with some old stories, some sweet memories, some crabby bites and whole lot of rants. Today’s recipe is something I tried few days back, it’s Masala Bhindi. It was another hectic day at office and I was seriously not in a very good mood to cook anything, let alone chop vegetables and grind spice powder. But the thought of good food and wasting big bagful of Okras that I bought for ridiculous price were enough to dive into a long process of washing, cleaning, drying and chopping slimy Okras. First I thought of making simple Bhindi Do Pyaz (recipe to come soon) but later changed my mind when I saw a cup of roasted Peanuts sitting not-so-happily in pantry. It was few days back when I had roasted these peanuts to make Coconut-Mango Pulihara/Chitranna and I wanted to finish them as soon as possible.

Peanut with Okra? Sweet okras stir fried with crunchy roasted peanuts. The idea was enough to make me go nuts and with in few mins I was roasted few basic spices along with my favourite lentils to make a spice powder. Along with spices I thought of roasting white Sesames which is not much used in my recipes. Last week I had bought big bag of Indian red Onions (also called curry onions) from Indian grocery shop. It is quite expensive when compared with the usual white onions we get from supermarket but it tastes way too better than white ones. So I picked the biggest one I could find in that 5 kg gunny bag as I like the taste of fried onions. Except for cleaning, drying and chopping of okras, it took me very little time to make this Masala Bhindi. When served with Chapatti, Rice and Dal I felt it was worth all those efforts I put into cooking after one hell of the day! The sweet taste of okra and onion was perfectly in sync with roasted spice powder, peanuts and sesame. Try this recipe if you are tired of same old Bhindi Fry or Bhindi Masala and discover the nutty combination ;)

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Roasted Spice Powder, Okras & Peanuts for Masala Bhindi

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Bhindi Masala (Stir fried Okra and Red Onion spiced with ground roasted spices, Peanuts and Sesame)
Prep Time: 10-15 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Serves: 4-5
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Low to Medium
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat bread or flavoured/steam cooked rice

Ingredients:
25-30 small and tender Okras (about 8-10 cups), trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large Red Indian Onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
¼ cup Roasted Peanuts
1 Roasted white Sesame Seeds
Juice of ¼ - ½ Lime (Adjust acc to taste)
2-3 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste

For Spice Powder:
½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
A big pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
½ tbsp Channa Dal/Split Chickpeas
¼ tbsp Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils
2 tbsp Roasted Peanuts
½ tbsp Roasted white Sesame
3-5 Dry Red Chillies (Adjust acc to taste)

For Tadka:
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
Few Curry Leaves
A big Pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
1 tbsp Oil
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Masala Bhindi

Method:
Dry roast cumin, hing, channa dal, urad dal and red chillies in a pan till the lentils turn golden brown and aromatic. Let them cool and combine with roasted peanuts and sesame. Grind them all into a fine powder using coffee grinder or mixer. Keep it aside till needed.
Heat 2-3 tbsp of oil in a pan and add chopped okras to it. Cook them on high heat, stirring continuously, till okras turn crisp and brown spots start to appear. It usually takes around 5-7 minutes. Transfer these fried okras into a plate lined with kitchen towel.
Next heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves to it. When cumin starts to sizzle and turn golden red, add thinly sliced onion and finely chopped garlic. Sauté continuously till onions turn golden brown, about 2-3 mins.
Mix in turmeric and ground spices and toss them well. Make sure that the spices are evenly distributed among onions. Now add fried okras, salt to taste and mix well. Cook them for two more minutes making sure that the spices have coated every piece of okra.
Switch off the pan and mix in lime juice, roasted peanuts and sesame and toss well. Serve this delicious Masala Bhindi with Rice/Chapatti and Dal and enjoy.

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Masala Bhindi


Notes:
Few tips for those who find it difficult to cut, and cook those slimy Okras.
Always choose young and tender okras. The best ones are the ones that get easily snapped when you bend the tail end of the pod.
Make sure that you dry the Okra completely after washing them in water. Either spread them on kitchen towel in single layer and leave it for few hours or pat them dry with dry kitchen papers/towels. It is a must that the okras are dried properly if you don’t like them go slimy.
Next while chopping them, make sure that you have dry chopping board and knife. Keep dry kitchen paper next to you and clean the slime from knife using it whenever needed.
I have tried stir frying the okra with very little oil and ended up with really slimy okras. So then onwards I usually use little more oil than normal and cook it on a very high heat. This way the okras not only get cooked fast and retain their crispiness, but also any moisture in them disappears at high heat. And you will be surprised to see how the sliminess is reduced in short period of time.

12 February, 2009

Lobia-Mushrooms & rants on "Some" Campaigns

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Lobia Mushroom
Am I a feminist? Not really!
Am I liberal in my thoughts and deeds? Oh, yes!
Hear me loud and clear! I am not a feminist but I do consider myself liberal. Not hard to digest this fact as I am born and bought up in the world’s biggest democratic country and I have always been thought by my parents to stand for what I think is right and never get scared of opposing something which I feel absolute bulls%$t. I have been accused of being too feminist for my thoughts and actions by some people who hardly know me. Do I really care about it? Nada… Do I know what feminist really means? I think I know. And no, I don’t belong to the category of people who link them with bra burning. But if it to believe that the feminist are women who are fighting for their rights to be treated equal among other members of the society, especially men then I don’t think I belong to that category. It is because I believe and I know it for sure that I have been treated and seen as equal by every individual in my life who matter to me the most. So the question of fighting for something that I already have doesn’t make any sense to me!

Why all this rant you may ask! The reason is the Pink Chaddi campaign!!! Yup, you heard me right. The whole idea which I found silly, childish, and to some extent bit gross! For those who are unaware of this campaign, this a campaign to send pink undergarments to goons of Sri Rama Sena who have self appointed them selves as moral police in India, especially in Karnataka to protect and preserve the Indian culture from being tarnished by modern Indian women. They are the same people who barged into a pub in my native Mangalore and shamelessly molested and then beaten the girls in a pub for going against Indian “culture”!!! Wow, how brilliantly they have demonstrated the Indian “culture” to the whole world! So this is the campaign by the women to assert their rights on the eve of Valentine’s Day by sending their pink underwear these goons of Sri Rama Sena. Nothing is wrong with fighting for your right but hello, why would anyone want to send their underwear to these good-for-nothing goons?

Now let me come to the point that has been bothering me for few days. Why pink chaddi? Is pink undergarment is the symbol of feminity or womanhood? You must be kidding right? Why not something else? Why not perfumes to clear their sticking thoughts? Why not pink dupatta that they can tie to a ceiling fan and hang themselves? Why not hand kerchief to wipe clean their minds? Why not send them safety pins to burst their ego? And why not send them 2009’s calendars to show which century they are living in? Why not pink ribbons to tie to their, ahem, tails? After all they call themselves members of Sri Rama Sena and we all know that Ram’s Sena was consisted of Vanaras (monkeys). Why not pink rose or pink flower for that matter? Why not chappal or sandals that is considered as most insulting thing in India (Remember, even Bush and Chinese PM’s were not spared)? We women who have never hesitated to take our sandals from our feet in lightening speed when it becomes necessary to protect ourselves from lechers. But will we be able to do the same with our undergarment without hesitating? I wonder…. And I can’t help but ask this again “Why pink chaddi”? And most importantly, why are you calling yourself loose and forward? Is it only loose and forward women who visit pubs? I am sorry, but you have lost me here.

Sorry, dear friends. Although I fully support the reason and thought behind this campaign I will not part with my pink underwear even if I have one. Why would I want to spend my hard earned money on buying some pink panties with lace or no lace and send it to some strangers? Hell, isn’t it the whole point of wearing undergarment is to cover yourself with dignity? And even if I decide to gift my chaddis, it would be to my husband as I consider it to be too intimate gift to give. I simply can’t fathom the idea of sending my pretty undies to some goons like Pramod Mutalik and his Goonda Sena who doesn’t even wear one! For one, I find this idea of sending pink chaddi to be funny than serious. And for second, these goons don’t deserve to get any kind of publicity because that is what they want and got when they went for pub thrashing. They wanted all media attention at first place when they attacked those girls in Mangalore pub and knowing all those buffoons on TV and Radio they got more publicity than they ever dreamt of. With in few hours whole country came to know about the existence of Sri Rama Sena and with in few days it was known to the whole world.

So your Pink Chaddi campaign is just adding good dose of spices and Tadka to their existence and I have no desire to assist them in PR. This is the easiest possible way for these Goonda’s to become “somebody” from being “nobody” and do you think they deserve this kind of publicity? We have seen enough of these dramas where these politicians have tried to divide us based on caste, religion and region. I don’t wish to be a part of another sick game of dividing the society based on gender. I believe in living in a world of dignity and treated with respect for what I am, rather based on my caste, region, religion or gender for that matter. No one can just come and tell me that I can’t dress the way I like or drink and eat what I want or can’t be with the person I love. If some men feel that way then they really need some serious help. What are they scared of? Are they scared of the women working along them? Doing things what they do? Behaving the way they do? If the answers to these questions are yes, then they surely need some serious help. And I don’t believe that your pink undergarment or condoms are going to help them in their journey of discovery!

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Lobia Mushroom with Chapatti

That’s it folks. I am done with it and feel much better now. And I know most of my blog readers come for recipes and not for my rants. Don’t worry my friends; I am not going to disappoint you. Today I have one of the simplest recipes for you which uses very few and basic ingredients. This recipe of Lobia Mushroom is adapted from my favourite cookbook, 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. Nutty black eyed peas stir fried along meaty mushrooms and fresh herbs ginger and coriander leaves has no fancy ingredients. But that’s what makes this Lobia Mushroom interesting and special. The taste is simply earthy, fresh and wholesome. I served mine along with Dal and Chapatti on busy weekday for dinner and had it with toasted wholemeal bread on next day for lunch.

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Lobia & Mushrooms

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Lobia Mushroom (Black eyed Peas with sautéed Mushrooms)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 4-6
Recipe Source: 660 Curries
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Low
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat bread or flavoured/steam cooked rice

Ingredients:
1 cup Black Eyed Peas
2-3 cups of Mushrooms, sliced (I used Button Mushrooms)
1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder or combination of Paprika and Chilli Powder (Adjust acc to taste)
1 inch Ginger, grated or finely chopped
¼ cup Coriander Leaves, finely chopped (use it’s stems also)
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds (Optional, as original recipe doesn’t use it)
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida (Again optional)
1 tbsp Oil (Original recipe calls for 2 tbsp)
Salt to taste
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Lobia Mushroom

Method:
Wash blacked eyed peas properly and place them in a pressure cooker. Add 3 cups of water and bring it to boil. Skim the foam formed and closed the lid. Cook for 15-20 mins on medium heat till the beans are cooked thoroughly. Let the pressure release completely before opening the lid.
Mean while, heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and hing to it. When cumin starts to sizzle and turn reddish brown, add sliced mushrooms and mix well. Stir fry it continuously till mushrooms start to brown and cooked well. Mix in chilli powder, grated ginger, coriander leaves and salt to taste. Cook for another minute or two for the spices to blend well.
Now add cooked beans and mix well. Adjust the seasonings and cook for another minute or two. Serve Lobia Mushroom hot with bread or rice or chapatti and enjoy.


PS: Just when I finished writing this post, I came to know about the existence of another campaign called Pink Condom Campaign where the campaigners are urging people to send pink condoms to pink chaddi campaigners. Now I wonder how many other pink or other coloured campaigns will be initiated to oppose other campaigns. This whole thing is turning out be nothing but a circus, but at least circus is entertaining to some extent!!!

PPS: You are welcome to write your thoughts as I have expressed mine. I have said all I wanted and please don’t expect me to further argue or debate on this topic. And special message to “special” readers, offensive comments will not be entertained and will be deleted then and there.

PPPS: I have intentionally not linked those campaign websites. You can Google search with key words if you want to read more about these two “pink” campaigns.

PPPPS: If you really want to be a part of some meaningful campaign then why not visit www.helpgaurav.com and help Gaurav Tandon and his family to raise money for his operation? Gaurav, 34 year old working in an IT firm in Mumbai was diagnosed with AML (a type of blood cancer) in November and needs to get his Bone Marrow Transplant done as soon as possible. His wife Anuradha and his friends and well wishers are trying to raise a fund of Rs. 1.5 Cr (approx: 333,000 US dollars) for his operation. Please visit his website to get more information and contribute. Thanks Dibs for bringing this to my notice.

Have a lovely weekend, friends. I leave you all with this beautiful video.


10 February, 2009

Coconut-Mango Pulihara/Chitranna: Recreating Forgotten Taste...

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Coconut-Mango Pulihara

Last week of March and just a day away from 2 months summer break. Yes, it was the day before my last exam and every year we had same exam to write, Moral Science!!! I always felt that it had to be some immoral and sadist person’s way of making us kids suffer one more day in the name of exams. Yes, Moral science paper which was not at all counted in the final exam valuation. So there was no question of studying! We kids were all excited about 2 long months of sun, mangoes, ice creams and candies, meeting our cousins (more like a bunch of monkey soldiers from Ramayana), lazy afternoons, swim in a stream and late nights.

The day before last exam was also the day where our home buzzed with excitement and non-stop ringing of telephones from our cousins. “Don’t forget to pack your cricket bat and wickets”, said one cousin to my brother. “And bring along that new board games too”, screamed another cousin of mine. “Did you pack your piggy bank for Goli Sodas and ice candies? I have 58 rupees 75 paisa in my piggy bank”, I whispered to my sister in excitement. “And Amma promised that she will give us 20 rupees each when we go to Grandma’s place”, said my chuckling brother.

At last it was the day which we all were eagerly looking forward to. We were too excited to even sleep in the previous night thinking what if we overslept and no one woke us! We surprised our parents by getting up from bed without any alarm and got ready in lightening speed. After quick breakfast, we went through our list of things-to-pack, making sure that we have not left anything behind. Then the waiting game began….

Every five minutes we would look at the clock and then look out on the road for the sign of military green jeep. Our three year old brother continued to stare at the clock without batting his eyelids to make sure that the big hand in clock is moving towards 12 while the small one was at 10. Just when the clock was about to strike ten, we saw a giant green jeep coming towards our house and we would start waving both our hands, screaming at top of our voice to make sure that our uncle noticed all three devils. We never wanted to take risk as what if he at that time suffers from short-term memory loss and drives away!

Every time our uncle came to pick us and along with him were my cousins whom he had picked from their home on the way. Without giving him much time to think about the weeks of torture he will have to face, we would pressure him to take us to Ajji’s home even before he could finish his coffee made by his elder sister, making him choke on the Chakkuli’s that he was busy stuffing his mouth with. Within few minutes we would dump our bags on second rows of seats and jumped into the back of this giant of jeep that served also served as boot for carrying gunny bags filled with Areca nuts, rice and Cocoa from farm. That place was our favourite place to play cards, board games and also house-house game. A thick blanket with green and black checks was spread on a 5 feet by 5 feet boot and we six cousins sat on it spreading tiny stainless steel kitchen toys. While some pretended to be mothers, others were their husbands and kids. While the husbands and kids went to school by jumping to second and front rows of seats, mothers of the family busied themselves with cooking and gossiping! Thus the game went on till we travelled for 3 hours and at last reached our granny’s place.

Those blissful days of fun and frolic…. The days of innocence and carefree spirits… Ah! The magical world of childhood where few rupees were more precious than today’s millions of rupees!!! The simple days where drinking Goli Soda and licking the ice cream running down on your arms were the ultimate pleasures any kid ever wanted!!! The carefree days where seat belts in vehicles were unheard of and two or three wounds on knees were considered too small an issue to even look at!!! I can give up everything to live those days again!

As the nostalgia hits me hard again, I try to loosen the knots of my memories to weave the beautiful days of my childhood… While my mind is busily knitting the colourful days, my hands pick up the ingredients to create a long forgotten recipe from my grand ma’s kitchen. While my mind pictures the retro coloured visuals of one of my favourite childhood favourites, my taste buds, along with my nose join my fingers in typing a familiar name quickly on Google search. And voila, with in few minutes I come across this recipe which very much sounds and looks like the one I have in my mind. Thanks to Mika, I was able to recreate the taste from my childhood which I had thought was buried with the death of my grandma. I found the same taste and aroma of my Ajji’s Coconut-Mango Pulihara/Chitranna in Mika’s recipe for Mango Rice and it was indeed as refreshing and tantalising as I remembered it to be.

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Coconut-Mango Pulihara

Sweet Coconut, sour mangoes, spicy green chillies and pungent mustards, a flavour sensation in true sense! Crunch from the Tadka and peanuts is just added bonus to this unbelievably simple and delicious Coconut-Mango Pulihara/Chitranna. Only thing I missed was the small bowl prepared using banana leaves that would fit nicely between our small hands. My granny made these parcels of Coconut-Mango Pulihara in fresh banana leaves tied with threads made using banana stems and put it in a basket made using thick base leaves of areca nut plants along with small bowls made using banana leaves whenever we kids left for our trip to nearby ponds or hills. Can you think of any other better way of saving mother earth and better bio-degradable bags and plates? The heavenly smell of coconut-mango-chilli-mustard mixed with fresh smelling banana leaves is something I will never be able to put it into words. It is something that one has to experience to know exactly what I mean! If you are lucky enough to get some fresh, sour mangoes make it at once and experience the true flavour of simple ingredients. And if you are really-really lucky enough to get fresh banana leaves, just serve this warm Coconut-Mango Pulihara/Chitranna in it to take a small trip to heaven!

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Coconut, Mango, Green Chillies & Mustard Powder for Coconut-Mango Pulihara

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Coconut-Mango Pulihara/Chitranna (Rice flavoured with ground mixture of fresh Coconut, Green Mango and Mustard Powder)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 5 mins (If using leftover Rice) - 30 mins (If using fresh Rice)
Serves: 3-4
Recipe Source: The Green Jackfruit
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Low to Medium
Serving Suggestion: Serve as it is or with any Raita/Yogurt and Tender Mango Pickle

Ingredients:
1½ cups Rice (Preferably Sona Masuri or Basmati)
1 cup Fresh Coconut Pieces or ¾ packed cup grated Coconut
1-1½ cups Green Raw Mango Pieces (you can peel the skin if needed)
3-5 Green Chillies (Adjust acc to taste)
2 tsp Mustard Seeds, ground to Powder using coffee grinder or Pestle & Mortar
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Sugar (Optional but recommended)
¼ cup Roasted Peanuts or Cashews
1-2 tsp Fresh Lime/Lemon Juice (optional, use it if the mangoes are not sour enough)
Salt to taste

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tbsp Urad Dal
1 tbsp Channa Dal
2 Dry Red Chillies, halved
Few Curry Leaves
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
1-2 tbsp Ghee or Oil
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Coconut-Mango Pulihara

Method:
Cook rice using 1:2 ratios of rice and water. Once cooked, separate each grain with a help of fork and keep it aside to cool. The best rice is usually the leftovers from previous day’s dinner or lunch.
Take coconut pieces, mango pieces and green chillies in a food processor or mixer and pulse it to get roughly ground paste without adding any water. You should get bits and pieces of coconut, mangoes and chilli when you eat this rice. Keep this mixture aside.
Heat oil or ghee in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. When mustard starts to pop and splutter, add channa dal, urad dal, dry red chillies, curry leaves and hing. Sauté till dals turn golden brown.
Mix in ground coconut-mango-green chilli mixture, mustard powder, turmeric powder and sugar and give it a good toss for 2-3 mins and switch off the flame. Remember not to over cook this ground mixture as you want to retain the raw sour taste of mangoes. Add lime or lemon juice, if using, and salt to taste and mix well.
Mix in cooked rice and toasted peanuts or cashews and give it a good toss so that every grain of rice is coated well with ground mixture. Serve this delicious Coconut-Mango Pulihara/Chitranna hot as it is or with yogurt or any raita and pickle of your choice and enjoy.

05 February, 2009

Capsicum/Bell Pepper Stew: Flavour Sensation

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Capsicum Stew

The weather report said the snow has never been so severe in Britain in the last eighteen years. The Artic winds coming from Russia is the main cause for all these chaos and they are likely to last for few more days. All the motorways are jammed (and at some places there was 50 miles of congestion!), some of them are closed, most of the schools are closed and even public transport system is shut down in some parts of the country!!!


While washing the plates after dinner on Sunday evening I saw little dusting of snow on our garden shed and thought to myself it is one of those days where it snows everywhere except in our neck of woods. But soon small flakes of snow continued to fall and within half an hour there was an inch of snow covering the grass, trees and hedges. I was amazed to see the steady flow of snow flakes even when I went to bed and overjoyed when I saw thick coat of snow covered everything and turning gloomy grey scenes into white wonderland. It was the first time I had seen this much of snow in my neck of woods. Hell, 12 inches of snow is something that is very unusual in this county.


Met office is continuing to advice drives not to venture out unless it is essential and requested to take extreme care while driving. So while Krish is loading few bars of chocolates, water, and shovel in car’s boot I am snuggling under my favourite blanket with a wonderful book and flask of strong filter coffee and munchies ;) Yep, my holidays just coincided with the snow fall and boy, am I enjoying it or what? I did enjoy running around in our backyard and building snowman for good two hours. But it’s not much fun when your palms turn from deep red to purple and your nose start to leak! And you need a good target to throw all those big snow balls and my target was away on training and will be coming back home late in the evening.


That’s when I decided to take break and cook my lunch. Usually I opt for frozen food, takeaways or canned soups when I am alone at home. I don’t feel motivated or need to cook for myself. But good two hours of playing in cold weather left me wanting to eat something warm, something special, and something comforting. All I had in refrigerator was big cauliflower and a pack of multi-coloured bell peppers. People who know me quite well also know my love for stinking flower, I mean cauliflower. So there is no surprise as why I reached out for a bag of peppers.


All said and done, I was bit confused as what to cook with it. I follow strict rules when it comes to serving the food which means particular type side dish has to be served with particular type of food. For example,
Curry=Chapatti/Roti/Flavoured Rice
Soup=Bread
Dals/Rasam/Stews=Rice
Salads=mmmm… mmmm…. A big bowl of ice cream or chocolate bar to sooth your grumbling stomach ;)
Since kneading and rolling the dough was out of question after kind of kneading the snow balls so curry was stroke off from the list. Unbelievably we were out of usual whole meal pack of bread, so the soup was out of question. I was left with choosing between stew and salad and you don’t have to be a Sherlock Holms to find out what I opted for!!!



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Capsicum Stew


Yup, I had Capsicum Stew for lunch served with a bowl of White Rice. While the rice was cooking in microwave, I went through a recipe book called 100 Vegetarian Curries by Mallika Badrinath. This is one of 4 books my mother bought for me when I left home as a new bride and it’s the same book referred when I couldn’t call my mother during initial days of my ‘hit and miss’ cooking days. This is a thin book which will fit well in your palms and has no glossy pictures to drool on. But what it has is collection of hundred different curries with outstanding results. I have had tried many recipes from this book and most of them have come out finger licking delicious. So all new brides out there, I would highly recommend this book if you have just started to cook and want to impress your family members with something exciting.


Mrs. Mallika Badrinath uses common, easily available ingredients in her recipes but her cooking style turns the final product to something exciting and exquisite. And the best example is this Capsicum Stew where she uses few spices and coconut milk that is very common ingredients in many households in south India, yet the end result is something beyond anyone’s expectation. Sweet and peppery capsicums cooked to tender in creamy goodness of coconut milk and roasted spice powder will surely make your head spin with different flavours dancing on your mouth and leave you feeling content. Don’t believe me? Well, then you simply have to try this dish and see if I am telling the truth or not!

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Capsicums & Coconut for Capsicum Stew

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Capsicum/Bell Pepper Stew (Coloured Peppers cooked in creamy Coconut Milk and Roasted Spices)
Prep Time: 10-20 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins

Serves: 4-6

Recipe Source: 100 Vegetarian Curries by Mallika Badrinath
Recipe Level: Medium
Spice Level: Medium
Serving Suggestion: With steam cooked rice

Ingredients:
3 large Bell Peppers/Capsicums cut into 1 inch cubes
3-4 cups/1 can Coconut Milk (Keep thin and thick milk separately if using fresh coconut milk)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1-2 tsp Jaggery
Extract from 1 small Lime sized Tamarind Pulp/1 tsp Tamarind Paste
Salt to taste

For Spice Powder:
1 tsp Toor Dal/Split Red Grams
1 tsp Channa Dal/Split Chickpeas
1 tsp Urad Dal/Split Black Grams
1 tsp Coriander Seeds
½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds (Optional as original recipe doesn't use it)
5-6 Dry Red Chillies (Adjust acc to taste)
4-6 tsp White Poppy Seeds
1 tsp Oil

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tbsp Oil (Preferably Coconut Oil)
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
3-4 Cloves
2 Green Cardamoms, bruised (Optional as original recipe doesn't use it)
Few Curry Leaves
A big Pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
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Capsicum Stew

Method:
Heat a pan and dry roast poppy seeds till they turn light golden, about 45 seconds. Transfer the roasted poppy seeds to coffee grinder or mixer jar. In the same pan heat oil and roast all the ingredients till lentils turn golden brown and aromatic. Let the roasted spices and lentils cool completely before you mix them with poppy seeds. Grind these roasted lentils and spices to fine powder and keep aside till needed.
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. When mustard starts to pop and splutter, add cloves, cardamoms, curry leaves and hing. Sauté for a minute till the spices are aromatic.
Now add peppers and cook them on medium heat till their skin is wilted, about 3-4 mins.
Mix in spice powder, turmeric powder, jaggery, tamarind extract and salt to taste.
Now add 1/3rd of Coconut milk (thin milk if using freshly made coconut milk) and mix well. Cover and cook for 2-3 mins. Mix in the 2nd extract or 1/3rd of coconut milk and cook uncovered in low heat and bring it to gentle boil, about 5 mins.
Now add the tick coconut milk (or remaining 1/3rd) and bring the gravy to gentle boil, about 2-3 mins. At this stage make sure that the peppers are cooked well and they still retain their crunch. Turn off the gas and mix in finely chopped coriander leaves. Cover and let it sit for 5 mins for all the flavours to blend well. Serve it hot with steam cooked rice and enjoy.
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