Sunday, October 11, 2015

Highschooler's Jalapeno pickle

My oldest son decided to learn to cook. This was huge, momentous, sky falling on the head moment. While he is quite the consummate food critic, he and a spatula rarely come in contact with each other. He started with an eggplant and pea stir fry  and then he followed it up with this Jalapeno pickle. The husband claims that the recipe is lost to posterity because we made it up along the way. Just to prove him wrong..

1 half pint (8 ounces) Mason Jar
6 Jalapenos
1 tbsp of salt
1/4 tsp of turmeric
Lime juice from 3 limes + more if needed.
about 1/2 an inch of ginger peeled and cut into thin coins.
1.5 tsp paanch phoron

Prepping the jar
Wash the jar in hot soapy water and dry fully. Zapping in the microwave is a good way to do this.
Packing the jar
Then you take the jalapenos and quarter them slicing through the stalk. Lay the mason jar on the long side and pack the jalapenos in. Pack in the ginger in the gaps. Stand the jar upright and add the salt and the turmeric.
Squeeze the limes into a bowl and add the juice to the mason jar. You want to make sure the jalapenos are submerged in the juice. Add more lime juice as needed. Screw the cap on and give the jar a good shake to distribute the salt and turmeric.
Loosen the lid a wee bit and leave the jar on the counter for 2 days. Make sure to shake the jar at least twice a day. On day 3, using a clean dry spoon taste the juices. Add more salt if you need to (we didn't) but the high schooler decided there was not enough ginger and proceeded to add more.
Leave on counter for 2 more days; shaking the jar twice a day. On day 5 taste a small piece of the jalapeno. It should have absorbed the salt and the ginger, have a little give but still retain a crunch.
Final stage - adding the spices
Now it is time to add the spices. Take about 1.5 teaspoon of paanch phoron ( the packet you get from the Indian store). it is a mix of 5 spices: Kalonji(Nigella seeds), Jeera(Cumin), Saunf(Fennel), Methi Fenugreek)and  Safed Rai(White mustard). This is the composition of the typical pickling mix.The teaspoon  we took out seemed low on methi; so we added another 4 grains of methi.
Dry roast the spices in a skillet. You want to get these good and aromatic and the methi has to turn a nice brown. Transfer to a bowl. cool and then powder the spices.
Add the powdered spices to the jalapeno jar.. you know the routine; give it a good shake. Put in the fridge. It is ready to eat after 1 day.
It is soo sooo good. Here is to teenagers who cook.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fresh shelling beans in tomato broth

Hope you are all having a lovely summer. Portlanders have been groaning about the unprecedented heat wave. I listened and commiserated, but then was forced to admit: I rather enjoy the heat; it reminded me of home.
And at home, when the weather is hot, you keep cool by eating and drinking hot foods. Totally contradictory but it works; hot tea quenches your thirst and a bowl of hot sambar or rasam makes your tummy happy. 

This is the perfect dish for a summers day when you don't want a salad but something warm but still light. 
You start with some shelling beans, pull up a chair, listen to some music, free the tender beans and feel zen. 

Enjoy the recipe and I will post again soon with our adventures in India.

Shelling beans like fresh Garbanzo or cranberry beans- as much as you are willing to shell. 
I had about a couple of cups.
Bay leaf- 1
Garlic- 1clove roughly smashed 
Tomatoes -a couple 
Chilly powder - 1/2 to 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Olive oil to garnish

Cover the beans with water by half a inch. Add the garlic and the bay leaf, cover the pot partially and bring to a boil. Simmer till the beans are  just tender. It doesn't take long, just 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, chilly powder and salt to taste and cook till the tomatoes break down and the beans are fully cooked. Serve hot garnished with a little olive oil.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Pasta with a summer sauce

Memorial day weekend has come and gone. It heralds with the start of the summer and in Oregon it is usually associated with clouds and if you are lucky a brief burst of sunshine. Except this year - It has been unusually warm this year. We hardly had a winter and then the flowers bloomed early and when I checked yesterday, the apple tree had tiny fruits on it. It is scary - this is what global warming does. The weekend was all the more memorable because we had long awaited guests.. I finally got my cousin, uncle and aunt to visit Oregon after having been here for 15 years.There was a lot of eating, walking and laughing.   A lot of eating - I am actually considering an alternate career as a vegan/vegetarian food tour guide in Portland.
And I received the coolest gift ever. My Aunt gave me this doll(that her mother made) to add to my dusserah collection.

Listening this week -
The music of Bombay Velvet -  A hindi jazz album
Dahikkunu Bhagini  - A poem by Malayalam poet Kumaranasan. With the current climate in India an the politics of the beef ban - a dialog worth revisiting. This poem tells the story of a Buddhist monk, on a hot summer's day who begs for water from a woman. The woman is afraid to give him water because she is of a lower caste. This poem is the story of their dialog.

Reading this week
 Fire monks: Zen meets wildfire - a book that has me planning my study time in Tessajara

And for the recipe. This is pasta with a no cook sauce. You gather all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and toss it with cooked and drained pasta.

Tomatoes 5 (4 roma + 1 beefsteak) or any combination
1 garlic clove minced with salt
1 tsp capers rinsed and chopped
2 ears of corn shucked
1 tsp of preserved limes/lemons prepped
1/4 c olive oil
generous splash of red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp kashmiri mirch or paprika or cayenne pepper

1 lb of short pasta.

Bring water to boil for the pasta. While the water is boiling:
Find a large bowl that will hold the pasta
Dice tomato and put into the bowl
Peel the corn. Stand it on the flat edge in the bowl and use a sharp knife to shuck the corn into the bowl.
Smash the garlic with the flat side of the knife on the cutting board. Sprinkle some salt on it and mince it fine and add that to the bowl..
Rinse the capers (brine packed) and chop it into the bowl.
Now about the preserved limes.. I used flesh and skin. If your preserved lemons/limes are very salty, rinse briefly and chop into the bowl.
Add the olive oil,vinegar and chili powder. Taste and adjust for balance. You want a spicy and tart salad.
Let this salad sits while the pasta is cooking.
Once the water comes to boil; salt generously (until it tastes like the sea) and cook pasta al dente. Drain and toss in bowl with veggies. Serve warm or cold.


Corn not yet in season? toss is some Arugula leaves. Too much Zucchini in your garden? Cut your zucchini into matchsticks and use it in the sauce. And do you have some fresh basil,dill or parsley around? toss it in
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