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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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Asian Style Noodles with Chicken meat balls

Hope all of you in the path of the blizzard have dugout of the snow. I for one am tired of the white mess and want it gone. Schools have been closed for the 4th day in a row. Though the kids are having fun, am worried that they are going to forget about how to go to school pretty soon. Our neighborhood has been lucky, the road has been cleared for at least a car to go by. There are neighborhoods which has not seen a snow plow so their snow misery joy continues.

In a town like DC which lives by scandals, even a snow event can't go by without a scandal. Looks like National airport lost its snow measuring tool a snow board apparently in the blizzard and whoever was responsible just came up with a number which was 10 inches lower than the snow totals in the other airports in the area. How is that for a snow scandal? Want to know more about the snow scandal, here is a link.

Enough of the snow story and to more interesting things like the recipe for the day,
I can't tell the number of times noodles have come to the rescue when I am on the hook for making a quick dinner. I occasionally buy chicken meatballs or chicken sausages which finds good use in either a noodle or pasta dish. In this cold weather a ragout with chicken meatballs or sausage is perhaps a great idea. If you are not into soups then the next best thing for a spicy kick are these Asian noodles with the chicken meatball or sausage providing the perfect accompaniment.

I like the curly Chuka Soba noodles for this kind of noodle dish but any noodles that catches your fancy is perfect. If you'd rather have a vegetarian noodle dish try this recipe for Yakisoba Noodles.

All you need to have on hand is an Asian stir fry sauce and hot sauce. I sometimes add soy sauce and sometimes don't if the stir fry sauce already has it which most do anyway. You can also add vegetables - bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage etc., I used Costco bought Sweet Basil Roasted Garlic Chicken meatballs.

If you'd rather make your own meatballs here is a recipe.

Chicken balls and vegetables cooked in the sauce

Asian Style Noodles with Chicken meat balls
Preparation Time:15 minutes + 30 minutes sitting time
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 10-15 chicken meat balls (store bought or home made)
  2. 1 1/2 packet of Curly Chuka soba Noodles
  3. 4 cloves garlic smashed and chopped
  4. 1/2 tbsp ginger grated
  5. 1 Red Onion sliced thin
  6. 1 Green Bell Pepper sliced thin
  7. 1/2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  8. 1 tbsp Korean Teriyaki stir fry sauce or 1 tbsp tom tom sauce (any Asian sauce is fine)
  9. salt to taste (all the sauces have salt in them too)
  10. 1 tbsp oil

  1. Boil the noodles as per package directions and set them aside.
  2. In a cast iron pan or a heavy bottomed pan add half the oil and saute the meat balls till they are browned on the outside. Set aside.
  3. To the same pan add the rest of the oil and the onions and saute till the onions start to get translucent. Add garlic and ginger and saute for a minute more.
  4. Add in the bell pepper and saute for 3-4 minutes. (I like them cooked but slightly crunchy so cook as long or as little as you want)
  5. Transfer the meat balls to the onions, add the sauces one by one on low heat and mix them well./li>
  6. Add in the noodles, taste and then add salt only if required.

  7. Serve hot.
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