Friday, September 30, 2011

Rajasthani style spicy banana pepper rings

Patori besani mirch

During one of my visits to India I went to Jaipur to visit my husband's Nanima (maternal grandmother). His aunt cooked a spicy delicious stir fried pepper dish which hit the spot right away. Everything about that dish seemed to be in sharp contrast to what we think should be eaten in the hot dry desert like climate of Rajasthan. Turns out this is the best way to beat the heat and dryness -- eat rich spicy food.
When I came back home I tried to recreate the flavor and texture of what I had eaten and relished, using local peppers. This is what I came up with. Even though banana peppers have a different taste they comes pretty close to the spiciness and texture of the peppers of Rajasthan. Hope you enjoy it as much I do.

4-5 banana peppers
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 tsp besan (gram flour)
salt to taste
pinch hing (asafoetida)
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 - 1 tsp amchoor powder (dry mango powder)
1/4 tsp haldi powder (turmeric)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp fennel (saunf) powder
  1. Wash and dry the peppers. Cut them in even sized rings without removing the seeds to retain the heat. Keep aside. 
  2. Dry roast besan in medium heat constantly stirring to avoid burning for 2-3 minutes till it imparts a pleasant aroma and is roasted to a golden color. Keep aside. 
  3. Heat sesame oil a pan till its moderately hot and add hing followed by the mustard seeds. Let them crackle for 3-4 seconds. Add the peppers. 
  4. Stir fry them at high temperature stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add salt, amchoor, coriander powder, fennel powder and turmeric and mix well. 
  5. Add the roasted besan and incorporate it thoroughly into the pepper rings. Besan will absorb all the water in the pan and thickly coat the peppers. Take out from the heat and taste to see if it is sour enough to your liking. Add more amchoor powder as needed. 
  6. Serve hot with roti as an accompaniment. Goes very well with besan gattey. 
  7. Beware of the spiciness. Banana peppers can be very hot. Enjoy.

Banana Peppers cut in even sized rings

Friday, September 23, 2011

Til Wali Gobhi (Spicy Cauliflower with Sesame seeds)

Til wali gobhi
This is my favourite way to cook cauliflower. My mom's recipe, this dish is from Nepal and is always a favoured item in gatherings. This spicy vegan fare takes multiple steps but is well worth the effort. As the flavors blend it, taste enhances after 24 hours. So I always make a double batch to ensure left-overs for later. In Nepali cuisine this recipe is used to make potatoes. 
1 head cauliflower
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp amchoor powder (dehydrated raw mango powder)
2 inch fresh ginger root
12-15 green chilies
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
  • Put a large pot of salted water to boil.
  • Wash and cut cauliflower into about an inch and a half big florets making sure all florets are of the same size for even cooking.
Raw cauliflower florets
  • Add the cauliflower florets to boiling water. Keep heat high and wait till the water starts to boil again. Keep boiling on high for another minute at this point. Cauliflower floret should be tender crisp and not too soft as they will cook again later.
  • Drain well and keep aside to let it cool.
  • Meanwhile coarsely dry grind sesame seeds. Slit green chillies into half lengthwise and cut ginger into long thin strips.
  • When cauliflower cools a bit, sprinkle salt, turmeric powder, amchoor powder and ground sesame seeds over it and using a spatula mix it thoroughly to work them in. This is how it will look.
Blanched Cauliflower mixed with sesame spice
  • In a large pan or wok heat the olive oil and add the ginger and green chillies. Saute for about 30 seconds.
  • Now add the cauliflower and fry on high for 2-3 minutes mixing oil and ginger well into it.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and continue frying and mixing for another 3 minutes till all the flavors blend into the florets.  
Spicy cauliflower with sesame seeds
  • Remove from heat and let stand for atleast and hour before serving. Garnish with fresh corriander. Serve hot or warm with roti or naan.
  • This dish tastes better the next day. So make a double batch so you have enough left overs for another meal. Can stay in the fridge for 3-4 days. Freezing doesn't work as the vegetable softens and looses its texture on defrosting.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dum Aloo and Beans-Broccoli stir fry

Tonight's Menu
Dum Aloo
Broccoli and Beans stir fry
Wine Pairing: Sparkling Rose 

Dum Aloo

Dum Aloo or the fried potato curry is an Indian dish from the Kashmiri kitchen. On yagyopavit, the sacred thread ceremony, dum aloo and dal are served with rice. Crisp, tangy, delicious and spicy I like it with roti or naan. Dum aloo can be served on special occasions and looks as beautiful as it tastes. Today I served the stir fry broccoli and green beans preparation to complete the meal.
Dum Aloo
Ingredients:(serves 4)

1 lb small perisienne potatoes (do not peel)
3-4 tbsp oil
1/2 red onion + 2-3 cloves garlic + 1/2 inch ginger pureed together
4 tbsp plain yogurt + 2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (chili)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp ginger powder
salt to taste
dry whole spices - coarsely crushed together
pinch asafoetida (hing)
1 black cardamom
2 green cardamoms
1/2 tsp aniseed(saunf)
small piece of cinnamon
2-3 cloves
  1. Boil the potatoes till they are about three quarter way cooked. 
  2. You can peel them if you want, I like to keep the skin on. Prick them all over with a fork and rub a bit of salt and Kashmiri chili powder all over them. 
  3. Heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes till crisp and golden brown. Drain excess oil and keep aside. 
  4. In the left over oil, add bay leaf and all other crushed dry spices and stir for about 10 seconds making sure they do not burn. 
  5. Add onion-ginger-garlic paste and fry on medium high heat stirring constantly till the mix becomes golden brown. 
  6. Add ground ginger and yogurt and red chili mixture to the pan. Keep stirring as the mixture is very susceptible to burn at this point. Cook for about 2-3 minutes more. 
  7. Now add the fried potatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the potatoes in this mixture for about 3-4 minutes to allow the spices to seep into the potatoes. 
  8. Cook until all liquid is almost dry and oil separates. Remove from flame and serve hot. If you are making this ahead of time and you see that the dish is very dry, add some boiling water to adjust the consistency.
Broccoli and beans stir fry

Beans and Broccoli stir fry

2 broccoli florets
250 gms green beans
1/2 inch ginger chopped fine
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch asafoetida (hing)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
red chilli powder to taste
salt to taste
  1. Wash both the veges and cut them into small 1/2 inch pieces. 
  2. In a pan heat oil and add hing and cumin seeds. Let cook for 30 seconds. 
  3. Add all the veges and stir well. Add all the dry spices and stir to coat the veges. 
  4. Reduce heat to low and cover the pan. Let the veges cook covered on low heat for about 10-12 minutes. During this time open the lid every 4 minutes to stir them and to check if they are fully cooked.When the beans look fully done, remove from heat and serve hot.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Feta Cheese and Olive pizza

Tonight's Menu
Feta cheese and Olive Pizza
Salad greens
Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling

Feta and Olive pizza
Pizza, one of the most popular foods among adults and kids alike has gone through big changes in its toppings and crust. Pizzerias are experimenting with exotic toppings and different cheese varieties to create a signature dish. In our family the Greek inspired feta and olive pizza is a fave and though we don't make it very often, its a special night when we have it.We pair it with soup or a green salad depending on the weather. I make my own whole wheat crust and pizza sauce, but you can use store bought or make your own.

Toppings for one 8 inch pizza

Pizza Toppings
These are all the toppings I used tonight. The quantities are for one 8 inch pizza and they include
1 Chicken Breast cooked and seasoned
feta cheese
Aged sharp cheddar cheese
red pepper
green pepper
jalapeno pepper
red onions
cremini mushrooms
black olives
3-4 tbsp pizza sauce
Pizza Sauce
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 small red onion chopped
3 large tomatoes pureed
1/2 tsp oregano
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
crushed red pepper flakes
  1. In a pan heat 1 tsp olive oil and add chopped red onion and garlic.
  2. Cook till they turn pink. 
  3. Add crushed tomato along with seasoning and bring to boil. 
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes.
All dressed and ready for the oven
Whole wheat pizza crust dough 
Ingredients: (Makes two 8 inch pizzas)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or regular flour)
11/4 cup warm water (1 cup for regular flour)
1 tbsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dry herbs(oregano and parsley)
  1. Take flour in a mixing bowl and add all the dry ingredients to it. 
  2. Knead into a pliable soft dough using warm water. 
  3. Knead well for 2-3 minutes. Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover. 
  4. Leave in a warm place for 2 hours to allow the dough to rise. 
  5. If using store bought dough make sure its at room temperature before rolling. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 F. 
  7. When the dough has doubled in size and risen well divide into two balls. Roll the ball into an 8 inch round on a generously floured surface to prevent it from sticking to the base. Using your fingers raise the edges of the crust a little to help keep the toppings and sauce in place. 
  8. On a pizza stone (or a non stick cookie sheet) sprinkle a tsp of cornmeal. Place the rolled crust onto the stone and dress the pizza in the following order. 
  9. Spray a little oil to prevent it from getting soggy with the sauce. 
Assembling the pizza. Place the ingredients in the following order on the prepared crust
Pizza sauce
Cheddar cheese grated
Cooked chicken pieces
Crumbled feta cheese
All the veges and olives on top.
  1. Place the Pizza in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes till the edges of the crust brown and crust is fully cooked. Cooking time may be a little less for regular flour crust. 
  2. Remove from oven and let rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing and serving. 
  3. Sprinkle red pepper flakes and oregano on top for enhanced flavor.