Monday, July 06, 2015

Peanut Chutney with Green Chilies

Peanut chutney is always a favorite around our house especially when paired with idlis or dosai. It tastes great with rice as well. I usually make peanut chutney with red chilies like this thick peanut chutney or slightly watery one as well with tamarind instead of the lemon juice.

This chutney is slightly different. There is a story behind this one. A colleague had brought idli and chutney to share to the office. Enjoyed a couple of them with the slightly spicy but delicious chutney. I had made the assumption that it was coconut chutney. It had the coconut chutney white color, with specks of green and slightly thick. So when I casually mentioned that her coconut chutney was delicious. She shook her head and said that it was peanut chutney and did not have any coconut in it. I have been under the impression that the taste of peanut is very hard to escape especially when it is blended. Boy was I wrong.

Roast the peanuts, remove the skin and take it in a blender.
Take the ginger, coriander leaves and green chilies along with the salt. Add the required amount of water an blend to a smooth or slightly coarse mixture.
Prepare the seasonings and add to the blended mixture.

The trick is to not roast the peanuts too much. Just enough to roast but not too much that they start turning brown. Remove the skin completely. Add a pod of garlic if you wish. The ingredients are the same as that of regular coconut chutney. The mixture can be blended to a coarse thick mixture. A couple of tbsp of grated fresh or frozen coconut can also be added. Increase the water slightly while blending the chutney for a slightly water chutney.

Peanut Chutney with Green Chilies
Preparation Time:5 minutes
Cooking Time:10 minutes
  1. 1 cup roasted peanuts
  2. 1/4 cup roasted chick peas (pottu kadalai) (optional)
  3. 1 clove of garlic
  4. 1 inch of ginger
  5. 4-5 green chilies
  6. 2 handfuls of coriander leaves
  7. salt to taste
  8. 1/2 tsp oil
  9. seasonings: 1 tsp split urad dal, cumin seeds, mustard seeds , curry leaves

  1. Roast the peanuts till they are just about roasted. I used a toaster oven. Remove the skin and set aside.
  2. Add the coriander leaves, ginger, roasted chick peas if using and green chilies. Add salt.
  3. Add just enough water to blend to a coarse mixture or add slightly more water and make a smooth watery mixture.
  4. In a pan add oil, add the split urad dal, when it turns slightly brown add the cumin, mustard seeds. Add in the curry leaves. Pour over the chutney.
  5. Goes well with rice or idli or dosai.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Gooseberry Crush - Gooseberry Syrup Concentrate

During the summer months, back home in India every house will have some sort of crush or syrup in their fridge. The most common being mango, grape or lemon crush. Crush for those not familiar to Indian crushes are actually fruit juice concentrates used to make a quick cold drinks by mixing with about 2-3 times the amount of ice cold water and served to guests and family members alike to quench their thirst. This is before the advent of sodas and packaged juices.

I had a bunch of gooseberries from the plants in the backyard. They are tart and sweet at the same time and can be enjoyed as such. They also make excellent jams and jellies and that is what I made with the first batch. The recipe for which is here. The recipe in the link is for jam but I made jelly this time. The difference between jam is jelly is that once the fruit is cooked, it is passed through the sieve to remove the skin and the seeds. The resulting juice is cooked with sugar till it sets. The gooseberries I had are the purple ones and they made an absolutely stunning pink colored jelly and of course delicious.'

With the second batch I was contemplating making some spicy thokku but changed my mind when the above mentioned crush came to mind. The color is absolutely adorable and the slightly sweet and tart fruit would make a perfect crush and juice. Once the syrup is made it becomes multipurpose. Can be used to make ice cold juices and as a topping for pancake.

Cook the gooseberries till they are soft and can be mushed with a spatula. Add sugar and let it cook till the syrup thickens.
Strain the syrup through a sieve.
Pour into glass battles and store in the fridge.

The only requirement for this is to have a good sieve to strain the syrup.

Gooseberry Crush - Gooseberry Syrup
Preparation Time:5 minutes
Cooking Time:30 minutes
  1. 5 cups of ripe gooseberries
  2. 2 cups of sugar
  3. 3 cups of water

  1. In a heavy bottomed pan add the gooseberries and water and let it come to a boil and let it simmer till the fruit completely breaks down. Mash the fruit with a back of a spatula (About 15 minutes).
  2. Add sugar and if the water is almost gone at this point, add about 2 more cups of water and let it cook for another 15 minutes. It should be a fairly thick syrup at this point.
  3. Now strain the cooked syrup through the sieve. Press the pulp till you extract as much of the syrup as possible.
  4. Pour them into bottles and store in the fridge till ready to use.
Make the Juice
  1. Add 2 tbsp of the syrup along with 1 1/2 cups of water. Mix the syrup. Add ice cubes.
  2. Adjust the quantity of syrup as per taste.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fresh Paneer balls with Fresh Peas Kurma - a light but smooth gravy

When life throws sour milk at you what do you do? Make paneer of course. I am glad that I did not know that the milk was sour, if I had the order of events would have been different. I proceeded to heat the milk to make some yogurt and when the timer went off, took a look at the boiling milk only to see that the cheese had separated from the whey. What normally would have happened? the whole thing would have been dumped because I am not that big on being mindful - bad I know. This time my senses were about me and I also had a sieve handy that can easily filter out the separated cheese from the whey and that is what happened. I then I tied the contents in a cheese cloth to remove the excess water. I put it in the fridge and that was a bad thing. It is important to keep the cheese/paneer moist.

If you are not using the paneer right away keep it moist by keeping the paneer tied in a cheese cloth immersed in water. Once the gravy was made DD2 was first to offer compliments. She even said that the fresh paneer was mush tastier than the store bought ones. Of course she was correct. Lighter and much more spongier and tastier than the stuff I buy. It is a really easy proces, I can make my own whenever I want rather than have my store bought paneer almost explode in the fridge.

Prepare the paneer balls and blanch the onions and blend to a paste.
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan, season with cumin seeds and add the blended onions and saute till the onions are cooked and is shiny with oil oozing in the sides.
Blanch the tomatoes, puree and add it to the cooked onions and cook till the tomatoes are fully cooked and you see oil on the sides.
Mix in the turmeric and chili powders and the peas and if required 1/4 cup of water and cook the peas.
Brown the paneer balls in some ghee.
Lower the heat all the way and add the nut paste and whisked yogurt and paneer to the cooked tomatoes.

The gravy is light and smooth and goes well with any Indian bread.

Fresh Panner balls with Fresh Peas Kurma
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 1/2 cup of fresh paneer rolled into small 1/2 inch balls
  2. 1 cup of fresh shelled peas
  3. 1 1/2 cup of roughly chopped onions
  4. 3 plump ripe tomatoes (roma tomatoes)
  5. 1/2 cup of thick yogurt whisked
  6. 6-8 cashews or almonds (keep soaked in water)
  7. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  8. 2 tsp of red chili powder + 1/2 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder (see note)
  9. seasonings: cumin seeds
  10. 3 tsp of oil (I use Saffola oil, any vegetable oil works) + 1/2 tsp of ghee
  11. handful of coriander leaves chopped
  12. salt to taste
  1. Blanch the onions, take the chopped onions in a sauce pan with just enough water (about 1/4 cup) to cover the onions and steam for about 4-5 minutes. Drain the water completely, cool and blend to a smooth paste.
  2. In a thick bottomed pan, heat oil and add the cumin seeds. Add the onion paste and saute till the onions start to get browned and starts to change color about 6-8 minutes. (See note:).
  3. While the onion is cooking blanch the tomatoes, heat water and add the tomatoes to the boiling water and let cook for about 2-3 minutes. Cool by putting them in cold water. Peel the tomatoes and blend to a smooth puree and set aside. Blend the soaking nuts to a smooth paste.
  4. When the onions lose their raw smell and you see oil on the sides add the tomato puree and let it cook for another 6-8 minutes. You should see oil on the sides by now. Add the turmeric and chili powders. Mix.
  5. While the tomatoes are cooking, heat the ghee in a small sauce pan and saute the paneer balls so the outsides get browned a little bit.
  6. Add the peas and about 1/4 cup of water and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes. The peas should be almost cooked by this time.
  7. Lower the heat to low, add the blended nut paste, mix and also add in the whisked yogurt and keep mixing as you are adding the yogurt.
  8. Drop in the paneer balls and salt and let cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the coriander leaves and mix and turn off the heat.
  9. Note:
  10. All Kashmiri chili powder or just regular cayenne red chili powder can be user or even pepper powder.
  11. Blanching the onions makes it cook faster, rather than just blending the onions and cooking it uses far less oil.
Serve with any bread of choice.
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