Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tomato Pickle in winter?

Why Not? During the height of summer when the tomatoes could not be all utilized be it using them up or giving them away or selling you can preserver them for use during the winter months. The tomatoes in the stores at this time of the year are tasteless and they just satisfy the need for a tomato in a recipe but nothing else.

Stewed and frozen tomatoes

When you grow tomatoes you realize not all of them look pretty and well formed. There are some that have to be used right away. Collect a bunch of these and like the method followed in this recipe for making pickles stew the tomatoes, cool them completely. Put them in Ziploc bags or plastic boxes and push them to the back of the freezer. While whole tomatoes can be frozen just as they are and used for curries, pasta sauces and chutneys, stewed tomatoes can make a very tasty tomato thokku pickles.

If you are not growing tomatoes but come summer when tomatoes flood the farmers markets and super markets, buy them when they are cheap. Moreover some of the markets sell a day or couple of days old tomatoes at almost throwaway prices. So watch for those as well.

Frozen red chilies

Come winter they come really hand when you are craving for something tomato and tasty. While I have been postponing using the stewed tomatoes, they came handy when I was running out of pickles and getting tired of the store bought pickles and craving for some home made pickles.

I also had frozen hot chili peppers which also came in handy for making of these pickles. Thaw up the stewed tomatoes, minced the red chili peppers with garlic and proceed to making the thokku pickle. These thokku pickles are versatile, they can be used as a spread for sandwiches, as a rice mix and even for cooking fried rice. So it is condiment that is not a luxury but a necessity.

Pickled and ready to use

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thai Cucumber Chili Relish

Do you like the Thai Cucumber Relish that is served as accompaniment when you order chicken satay at a Thai restaurant? I certainly do. The crunchy diced cucumbers in vinegar, occasionally with chilies and onions all tangy but still crunchy. Seemed simple enough to make but why hadn't I tried it till now? Good question!

While this is a good accompaniment for the Satay, it can be served alongside a variety of other dishes as well. Fried rice, noodles, salad, a spice and sour element for Guacamole dip and also in a sandwich.

In a Egg Sandwich - Delicious

Making it is pretty easy and takes hardly any time at all. If you are looking to make some relish, give this a try.

Prepare the vinegar solution. Bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil till it dissolves and cool to room temperature.
Prepare the cucumbers and chilies. Remove the seeds in the cucumber and make small dices. Cut the chilies and shake to remove the seeds. Set aside.
Add the cucumbers and chilies to the cooled vinegar solution and spoon them into sterilized bottles..

Thai Cucumber and Chili Relish
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Roasting Time:10 minutes
  1. 3 cucumbers (I used Persian small cucumbers)
  2. 8-10 Fresh Red Chilies (or fewer)
  3. 2 tbsp diced red onions (optional, I did not add)
  4. 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  5. 2 tsp sugar
  6. 1/2 tsp salt

  1. Cut the cucumber in half and remove the seeds and then chop into small dices.
  2. Cut the chilies if using into small rounds and shake out the seeds that fall out.
  3. In a saucepan add the rice vinegar, salt and sugar and bring it a boil till the sugar dissolves. Let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Add in the chopped cucumbers, chilies and onion if using to the cooled vinegar. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  5. Spoon into a sterilized glass bottle and store in the refrigerator.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chili and Turmeric Roasted Purple Eyed Peas

Have you heard of the book "Defense of Food" written by Michael Pollan. If you have not, don't fret you can watch the show based on the book here. I recommend watching the show if you have not already. It makes clear what you already know but reaffirms your belief that vegetables and fruits are good when Michael Pollan says "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Another important rule to remember is to use smaller plates and glasses. Serve the vegetables first.

Snack foods are usually a mine field if you want to follow the rule mentioned above because it is loaded with sugar, salt and fat. I personally prefer savory snack foods to sweet ones but they are not much better either when store bought.

The thing is tasty snacks can be made at home without too much effort. Roasted chickpeas are a big fad as we all know. The thing is I have a lot of dried purple eyes peas that were harvested this summer and when I saw this recipe I was more than happy.

I used chili powder, turmeric powder and a tiny bit of curry powder for spices. I guess any spices you prefer like Cajun seasoning or Italian seasoning might work as well.

Canned beans can be used. I prefer using dried and soaked beans. Black/Purple Eyed Peas do not require overnight soaking like the other dried beans, soaking for a couple of hours is sufficient. While I used the oven to do the roasting because I had about 2 cups of beans. If you are using a smaller quantity it can be quickly done in a toaster oven.

I roasted slightly longer than required so in the last 10-15 minutes keep an eye on it.

Soak and cook the purple eyed peas, drain and spread them on kitchen towel to absorb the water.
Prepare the spice paste. Whisk the spice powders together with the oil.
Toss the beans in the spice paste and get them coated.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum, grease and spread the beans and bake in a 375F preheated oven for about 50 -55 minutes till they are roasted to golden brown.

Chili and Turmeric Roasted Purple Eyed Peas
Preparation Time:Less than 10 minutes + 2 hours soaking time
Roasting Time:55-60 minutes
  1. 2 cups of dried beans
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  4. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1 tsp curry powder (optional)
  6. 1/2 tsp of salt or to taste

  1. Soak the black eyed peas for about couple of hours. Wash the beans and add salt and cook for 1 whistle if using a pressure cooker. Take care not to cook just enough to keep the beans whole. (see Note)
  2. Drain the beans and then spread them out in a kitchen towel to absorb any excess water.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  4. In a mixing bowl or a wide mouthed deep bowl tale the oil, chili powder, turmeric powder, curry powder and salt. Whisk it together.
  5. Toss the beans into the spice paste and gently mix so all the beans are well coated.
  6. Line a cookie or baking sheet with foil and grease it with oil. Spread the spice coated beans in a single layer.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven for about 55-60 minutes. Check once at 30 minutes and turn the beans around. Check again at 50 to 55 minutes to make sure the beans are ready. It is done when the beans are golden brown. Do not leave it longer than required.
  8. Cool and store in air tight container. Should last for couple of weeks.
  9. b>Note:If cooking beans in a pressure cooker be careful not to overcook because the purple eyed peas get cooked pretty soon. It can be cooked on stove top in a sauce pan.

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