Saturday, March 31, 2007

Jihva for Tomatoes - Peanut, Tomatillos Chutney

This my contribution for JFI-Tomatoes hosted by RP of My Workshop. I'm a newbie in food blogging, but, a very curious and passionate cook. I'm a regular visitor on many blogs and when I saw JFI - Tomatoes on JP's site, I was thrilled. One thing that caught my eye instantly is 'Tomatillos'.

When I first saw Tomatillos in US, they reminded me of a fruit that grows on a weed back home. But soon, I learnt its extreme tartness and existence in many Latin American cuisines. How can one miss Tomatillo-Chipotle sauce living in Southern USA? Not a chance!

Since then, I'm hooked on it and tried incorporating this cute little vegetable (actually, fruit) in my cooking. I must tell you, I'm pleased with the results. One such incorporation is this Chutney I make with tomatillos and peanuts. As I've enjoyed this delicious preparation, I'm sharing it with you.

Peanut chutney is very popular in southern part of Andhra Pradesh, India. Traditionally its made with peanuts and tamarind pulp. In my recipe, I'm replacing Tamarind with this "little tomato".

What you need to make this Chutney:

These measurements can be changed according to your spice level and tartness tolerance.

1 medium sized Tomatillo
2 cups peanuts, roasted (with or without salt)
8-12 Thai green chilies
Salt to taste (be careful with the amount if using salted peanuts)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon + 1teaspoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon each black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal, urad dal
7-10 curry leaves

How to make:

  1. Heat one teaspoon oil in a saute pan and add green chilies and whole tomatillo. When done roasting, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Roast peanuts if not already roasted. Let them cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Blend together tomatillo, green chilies, peanuts and clove of garlic, adding little water. Add salt and blend to a semi-smooth paste.
  4. Heat one tablespoon oil, add curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal, chana dal.
  5. Roast them until they leave nice aroma. Add chopped onion. Saute for a minute.
  6. Add the blended chutney. Lower the heat to simmer and let the chutney heat a little bit. This will allow all the flavors blend properly.

That's it! Enjoy with rice, idlies, dosas, or as a spread on falafel sandwich......the options are limitless.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Upma with Oats (Savoury Oats porridge)

This upma was introduced to me by my mom. When she was visiting me, I had a huge Oatmeal box in my pantry and was about to throw it away. By then, I was done with having boring oatmeal. When my mom first served me with oats upma, I was very skeptical. But, it didn't take too many bites before I got addicted to it. I like the texture and flavor of rolled oats over oatmeal. You may use oatmeal also. I've tested the recipe with both and it tastes great either way. If using rolled oats, cook 5 minutes more.

What you need to make Oats Upma:

2 cup rolled oats
3 - 4 cups water (depending on what kind of texture you like)
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
2 green chilies, sliced (optional)
1/4 inch ginger, chopped fine
1 cup mixed vegetables (diced carrots, green beans, fresh green peas, diced potatoes)
1 medium sized tomato, diced
sal to taste

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon halved cashews or peanuts (optional)
1/2 teaspoon each, mustard seeds, cumin seeds)
5-6 curry leaves (optional, but great if you can get it)
a pinch turmeric powder

How to do:
  1. In a saucepan, heat oil on medium-high.
  2. Add cashews, mustard and cumin seeds.
  3. When the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add turmeric, onion, green chilies, and ginger. Saute for a minute.
  4. Add mixed vegetables, tomato, salt to taste. Saute for a minute, add water and cook until the vegetables are cooked but crisp to bite.
  5. Add oats. Stir well. If using rolled oats, cover and cook for 5 minutes. If using oatmeal, cook for 3 min or until done to your preference.
  6. Serve hot or cold.
This makes an excellent savoury breakfast, also a great tiffin item.

Easy Andhra Chicken Curry

This recipe uses the Masala paste mentioned earlier. This is very easy to make. No constant attention is required. Perfect for weekday dinners.

What you need to make this curry:
4 chicken drum sticks, skinless or any kind of chicken pieces (about the same weight)
1.5 cups All-Purpose Masala Paste
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves to garnish (optional)
Salt to taste
2tbsp turmeric powder

How to do:
  1. Rub 2 tbsp salt and 1.5 tbsp turmeric powder to chicken pieces. Leave aside for 10 min.
  2. Wash the chicken pieces in water, drain well.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Add remaining turmeric powder, chicken pieces and salt to taste.
  4. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, rotating the pieces once.
  5. Add the masala paste. Coat chicken pieces well.
  6. Adjust salt and cook covered until done, rotating the pieces occasionally.
  7. Chicken would leave some water and the gravy would be thin. To get thick gravy, cook without lid until the desired thickness. If chicken is leaving not enough water, water may be added.
  8. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
  9. Serve hot with rice or any kind of Indian bread.

Egg Fried Rice

This is a very common dinner item for me as it is easy to prepare and whole meal itself.I love eggs in any format. Baked, poached, scrambled, curried, fried, or just raw ;-) (its been a while since I tried it raw).

What you need to make this Fried Rice:

4 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
2 cups mixed vegetables (broccoli florets, baby corn, carrots, sugar snap peas, bell pepper strips)
3 large eggs
1+1 tbsp sesame oil (or other cooking oil of your choice)
1 spring onion, diced2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp pepper powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp hot sauce (optional)
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
1 tsp tomato ketchup (optional) 1

How to do:

  1. Optional step: Blanch vegetables. (Keep vegetables in hot water for 4 minutes and transfer into cold water. The result is cooked, but crisp vegetables)
  2. Beat eggs and keep aside.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok on medium-high. Add beaten eggs. Scramble eggs well. Once cooked, remove and keep aside.
  4. Heat remaining oil, add garlic and vegetables. If blanched, no need to saute more than 1/2 minute. Otherwise, saute until the vegetables are done.
  5. Add soy sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, hoisin sauce, pepper powder. mix well
  6. Add rice and spring onions, eggs. Keep stirring with delicate hand until mixed well.
  7. Remove and serve hot.
When I was in Chennai the cook would make something called Bull's eye. He breaks an egg and drops (literally) it on a moderately hot, well greased tava. He cooks only one side. Sprinkles some salt and pepper before throwing it carefully on the plate. The outcome is just delicious. The white would almost be done, but the yolk is warm and creamy. Dip a piece of toast in the yolk. Yum!

Easy All-Purpose Masala Paste (Indian Spice Paste)

This is from my mom. Every household in India has at least one version of all-purpose masala. The handling of spices is for most part learned from observing how the elders in the house are cooking and eating the food made by them. Yes, we train implicitly from early on :) But, hey, I'm not complaining about it!

This paste can be used almost in every curry, pulao (yes pulao too!). Don't be put off by the list of ingredients. Once you have all of them, you are just few minutes away from the paste. The amount and choice of spices can be changed according to personal tastes. If using in a dish for kids, moderate the amount of cloves, peppers and chillies.

What you need to make this paste:

1medium sized Onion, roughly chopped
1 medium sized Tomato, roughly chopped
1 inch Ginger piece, roughly chopped
4 - 5 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Mint leaves (optional)
4 green Chilies
1/4 cup grated fresh Coconut or 3 tablespoons dry coconut.

2 tablespoons Coriander/Cilantro seeds
1 tablespoon Jeera/Cumin seeds
1/2 Star Anise
1/2 tsp Nutmeg powder
4 - 5 teaspoon Cloves
1/2 inch Cinnamon piece
2 - 4  Cardamoms (elaichi)
1 dry Bay leaf
8 -10 Cashew halves

How to prepare:
Roast all dry spices and cashews in a saute-pan.
Mix all ingredients including the dry spices, add 1/2 cup water and grind fine in a blender. Do not add too much water. Add water only if the blender is not moving well. When using in curries or pulao, this paste needs to be cooked in couple of tablespoons of oil to extract the flavor.
This makes approximately 2 1/2 - 3 cups of paste. You may store it in refrigerator for 2 -3 days or in freezer up to a month.

Alternately, you can saute onions, tomato, ginger and garlic in 2 tbsp oil with salt, cool and grind together with dry roasted spices, cashews. Of course, with some water! This version keeps in refrigerator up to a week.