Thursday, August 11, 2016

Aug 11 - Grilled corn, Paneer, black beans and blueberry salad

Grill baby grill is my motto during summer. (of course I can cheekily say so given that its in the comfort of my kitchen with the stove vent on at full blast.)
Uber simple to assemble, Grilled paneer slabs cut into cubes, Black beans from the can, corn off the cobs grilled on the stove top, and fresh blueberries. spiced with smoky ancho chile powder, and lime.
mmm... mmmm... Good!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Aug 10 - South Indian style Kimchi

This was an experiment done on a wing and a prayer, tried to satiate my deep craving for 'kadugu mangai' (baby mangoes in a mustard brine), a classic South Indian pickle that is a staple in my kitchen. Up until this year, these baby mangoes were simply unavailable.

Sooo, instead of the mangoes, I decided to look outside the crisper drawer and before I knew it, I was stuffing an entire head of Napa cabbage liberally sprinkled with kosher salt and turmeric into a large glass jar. A month later, poured out the brine, combined it with raw mustard seeds, asafetida and arbol chiles, and gave it a whirl in the smoothie blender. The net result, a delicious kimchi (a tad salty though), that paired well with the tambrahm favorite - Yogurt rice!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Aug 9 - Cauliflower Kolhapuri

I have a dear friend from school who lives in the City of Kolhapur in Maharashtra. When I visited her  at the gorgeous heritage resort she owns there en route to a holiday in Goa, she gifted me with a spice blend that I treasured to the last speck. It sat  at the bottom of my freezer and was doled out for special dishes just like Saffron is rationed out in many Indian homes. Its a lip smacking flaming  hot blend of onions, garlic and the famed Kolhapuri Mirch (red chili).

I marinaded cauliflower florets in a paste of this spice blend , salt and oil, and roasted it in a 450 F oven. Finished with a handful of green coriander berries, this was a fabulous treat paired with roomali roti.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Aug 8 - Cream of Broccoli and Green Pea soup.

This was originally intended for my main blog 3 years ago , but it got diverted as a contributed recipe to a very prominent Indian Newspaper based out of Chennai. Little did I realize at the time what a bunch of sub standard unprofessional freeloaders they'd turn out to be. This soup was inspired and adapted to Indian flavors from Ree Drummonds recipe but took on a marked South Indian tinge with the finishing touches of pickle oil and 'kadugu mangai sauce'. Copying and pasting the entire recipe since it was mine in the first place!

Cream of Broccoli & green pea soup
(makes ~ 4 servings, Prep time: ~10 min, Cooking time: ~ 20 min)
You need:
• 1 1\2 cups Broccoli florets (no stalks) shredded through a grater
• 1\2 cup fresh, frozen or dried green peas
• 4 tablespoons Ghee
• 2 medium sized onions finely diced
• 1\2 teaspoon powdered cumin
• 1\2 cup all purpose flour (Maida)
• 2 – 2 1\2 cups milk (add more as per taste)
• Fresh cracked peppercorn to taste
• 1\2 - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (depending on how thick you prefer your soup)
• Salt to taste
• Your choice of any mustard based traditional pickle sauce/oil
Add one cup of water to the peas and pressure cook them until soft. Using the back of a spoon, mash the peas and set aside.
Simultaneously, heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Just as it begins to shimmer, add diced onions and sauté for about 5 minutes on medium heat, until they turn soft and translucent. Add powdered cumin, and mix it well with the onion. (This allows the aromatic oils from the spice to be released). Now stir in the flour and cook for about a minute. Then add shredded broccoli, cracked peppercorn and just a pinch of salt (Add the salt judiciously since the cheese already contains plenty of it). Stir in milk, adjust the heat to medium-low, add the cooked peas and cook until the broccoli is soft. (~15 minutes)
Add cheese and allow it to melt completely. Remove from heat, taste and adjust for seasonings. Serve as is if you like a chunky home style texture, or if you prefer a silky smooth texture, pour the soup into a blender in batches and puree till it reaches your preferred consistency. Strain, ladle into bowls and serve warm with wedges of toast. Serve the condiment on the side to be added as per your preference. For an even milder variation, substitute the broccoli with shredded cauliflower.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Aug 7 - Panzanella Caprese

Ever since I stopped buying the brand name wonder bread  type of loves at home, and switched to the artisan variety sold in the bakery section instead of the bread aisle, we seldom have slices that get the chance to go stale. The flip side - I keep having to visit the Grocery stores almost thrice a week.

It was purely by chance that i completely overlooked half a loaf of rosemary olive bread of the organic kind. Cut the slices into cubes and toasted it lightly and tossed it into a salad with fresh mozzarella heirloom tomatoes ans  freshly picked basil. A generous sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of EVOO and voila a delicious light lunch perfect for summer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Unusual Ingredients - Unripe Blueberry Achar

T'was just another Summer afternoon, The kids were home for the summer holidays, getting bored, there's only so much summer reading you can force them to do, and the Indian mommy in me could no longer caution them against going out in the afternoon  (I've solemnly refused to use that horrid excuse of 'You'll get a dark tan if you stay out in the mid day sun'), and so we decided to head out to Terhune orchards for the blueberry picking. The kids never say no to outings to the orchard, they LOVE the trip there, the cute yellow dogs and the cats,  the chocolate crinkle and Snickerdoodle cookies, and they positively trip over grabbing buckets and heading joyfully towards the berry bushes...

... And there it ends, the younger one loses herself in her delightful imaginary worlds where she probably thinks she's hacking her way through virgin Amazon jungle, sighing at every branch that brushes against her legs, picks 2 or 3 berries as if they were a new as yet undiscovered species.

Her older brother in the meantime never gets tired of bragging about how much he has picked and loves to give her (somewhat unsolicited) advice on how big and deep colored the berries should be and that she's doing it all wrong. Net result, plenty of heated arguments and sibling rivalry that lasts for all of 10 minutes. During this time, I'm busy walking up and down the rows looking for the best place to pick.

Just as I get into the rhythm of filling up my container with berries, they join forces and the whining starts ... "mommy, its too hot, there's a spider in the next row, there are bees and flies buzzing", "Mommy can I eat the green unripe berries?".

I stopped at that last question and instead of dismissing it, just shot back 'why don't you try and see'? Given that they are forbidden to eat any pick-your-owns until its properly washed, the older one bit into one and spat it out, his face scrunched up as if he just bit into a sour patch gummy.

And I filled up the remaining space in the bucket solely with the green ones....

Then went back to pick 2 more lbs of the same after specifically asking permission from the Orchard owner to do so.

Unlike Ramps which have a fleeting yet definite window of 2-3 week in early spring, I can't say the same about these  because nobody picks unripe berries on purpose. Its always a good idea to specifically ask the farm management for permission to do so. If this catches on as a trend, I'm hoping companies like Melissa's produce can help with the sourcing.

I ended up developing 6 distinct recipes with this years stock of blueberries, one with the ripe fruits and five with the green berries. Please feel free to badger me to upload the recipes in upcoming posts. Here's the first one - a quick pickle in a classic Indian style (like a South Indian quick mango pickle or milaga mangai) . I decided to take a video with my Iphone as I was making the pickle so here goes.

Unripe Blueberry Achar:

You need:

1 1/2 cups green unripe blueberries, picked, washed* and dried.
1 tablespoon Cayenne Chili powder
2 tablespoons Crushed mustard seeds
2 tablespoons salt
1/4 teaspoon Asafetida
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
4 oz sesame oil

Wash the berries in a large bowl of lukewarm (bearably hot to the touch) water mixed with 1/2 cup of white vinegar, drain the water and dry the berries.

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a sterilized Jar and shake well to disperse the spices. Allow the jar to sit for a day to let the flavors combine. The next day, heat the oil until it is smoking hot and pour it over the berries. Allow the pickle to rest in the refrigerator for the flavor to develop.

Serve as a condiment with just about any Indian dish, rice, roti, khichdi, the choice is yours.

Bon Appetit.


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