Sunday, October 04, 2015

Pickeld Jalapenos

I know I tend to find a lot of wrongs with most packaged foods and then I avoid it. I go looking for others brand of the same packaged foods without some of the chemicals. Sometimes I end up finding it and sometimes I cannot. What am I talking about? Pickled Jalapenos of course. I have been buying pickled jalapenos for a long time and on this particular visit for some strange reason I read the ingredients list on the brand that I usually buy(which I forget now!) and was shocked to put it dramatically or mildly surprised to say the truth.

The pickled jalapenos had yellow #5 food coloring. I am not really sure why jalapeno peppers should look yellow but here we are. It was also very surprising that most brands of pickled jalapenos also had yellow coloring added to them. Then I chanced upon one brand, which had used turmeric instead for the yellow color. Needless to say that is what I bought. I will leave it to the reader to figure out the brands that don't have or have colors in them.

Anyway this summer I planted about 6 jalapeno plants which did not disappoint. They produced prodigally all during summer. I tried several recipes with jalapenos and most all of them turned out pretty good. The thing about jalapenos is once you get the seeds and the ribs out and when they are sauteed a bit in oil they become miraculously sweet.

When we harvested a mound of jalapenos, around the same time my store bought pickled jalapenos ran out. It was time to make some picked jalapenos. It was actually quite a simple process. Nothing complicated. If you add a little bit less of the sugar or salt you'd still be fine. The taste on the other hand was fresh and one of the best pickled jalapenos I have ever tasted.

Cut the jalapenos into rounds and set aside. Boil water in pot large enough for all of the chilies with the garlic cloves and the liquid and bring it to a boil.
Add the salt and sugar and let them dissolve completely.
Add the chopped jalapenos into the water and press it in so all the peppers are immersed. Turn off the heat. Get the sterilized glass bottles ready.
Use tongs to place the peppers into the bottles. Pour the vinegar liquid and top it off. Refrigerate it and is ready for use almost immediately but curing for a couple more days would make it a bit more mild.

The toughest in all of this is the cutting jalapenos. Wearing gloves is a very good idea. I did not and my hand burned for a day afterwards. The recipe I used was from this site called Simply Scratch - Easy Home jalapenos.

Pickled Jalapenos
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 6 cups of chopped jalapenos
  2. 4 cups of distilled vinegar
  3. 2 cups of filtered water
  4. 4 cloves of garlic
  5. 3 tbsp of sugar
  6. 2 tbsp of salt
  7. Note:for every cup of peppers you need a cup of liquid or even 1 1/2 is fine. If you feel you do not have enough liquid you can always add more 2/3 cups of vinegar and 1/3 cup of water.
  1. Slice the jalapenos as thin or thick as you want.
  2. In a non reactive pot big enough to hold all the liquid and peppers, add the garlic,vinegar and water and let it come to a boil.
  3. Add the salt and sugar and let it dissolve.
  4. Add in the sliced peppers and press it so all of the pepper are completely submerged. Turn of the heat and let it sit till the liquid comes to room temperature.
  5. If more liquid is required boil liquid in the ratio 2/3 vinegar to 1/3 water. Add it to the peppers.
  6. Get the bottles to store the jalapenos ready. Boil water in a pot big enough to hold the bottles, add the bottles and let them sit for a minute or two and take them out.
  7. Use tongs and remove the peppers and add them to the bottles. Pour the vinegar over on top of them. Refrigerate.
  8. The peppers could be slightly spicy the first couple of days. They get milder as they stay in the liquid longer and cure.
Add pickled jalapenos on sandwiches, salads, omelet and anything else that you want to spice up.
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Friday, October 02, 2015

Jalapeno - Brussels Sprouts Mixed Vegetable Rice with Handpounded Rice(Kaikutthal Arisi)

We have all heard the benefits of eating brown rice over white polished rice but brown rice is not something that most gravitate towards naturally. It finds its place because of advice to reduce the consumption of white rice. Back home I have heard of kaikutthal arisi in Tamil or hand pounded rice and that is the only kind of rice that is eaten in my grandparent's house. Far more tastier than white rice but appearance wise rather dull and not pearly and pretty white when cooked. Moreover the hand pounded would do very well as replacement to brown rice.

I chanced upon hand pounded sona masoori rice Mantra 24 organic brand which I bought in my local Indian grocery store. Hand pounded rice is very similar in texture and taste to the white rice but looks a lot like and is very similar to the brown rice we buy here.

Unlike brown rice, cooking hand pounded rice is not that much different from regular white rice. I usually wash it soak it for a bit and then cook it in the pressure cooker. Light fluffy rice is ready quickly thereafter. Once I have some new rice variety on hand I am satisfied only when i have tried some flavored rice with it. That's how this rice happened.

Get the vegetables ready. Saute the onions,chilies and tomatoes in a pressure cooker after seasoning with whole spices or garam masala.
Add in the vegetables and saute for a few minutes. Now add the rice and mix it in.
Add the required amount of water and let it come to a boil. Add salt. Close the lid and cook for 2 whistles. Let cool and fluff the rice.

I have plenty of jalapeno on hand and ever since my mother mentioned about the brussel sprouts biryani that she made I have been wanting to make it too. I also had some cluster beans which went into the mix. The thing about vegetable that normally don't get used in flavored rice is the fact that you taste something new.

Jalapeno - Brussels Sprouts Mixed Vegetable Rice with Handpounded Rice(Kaikutthal Arisi)
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 1 1/2 cups of Sona Masoori Handpounded rice, washed and soaked for about 20 minutes
  2. about 10-15 Brussel Sprouts trimmed and cut in half
  3. 10-15 jalapeno cut in half and seeds removed
  4. about 1 cup of chopped cluster beans or green beans chopped into 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces
  5. 6-8 green chilies (spicy kind) split in half
  6. 1 1/2 cup of thinly sliced onions
  7. 2 ripe tomatoes chopped fine
  8. 1 tsp pepper powder
  9. 1 tsp garam masala powder or whole spices (1/4 inch piece of cinnamon, 3-4 cloves and star Anise)
  10. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  11. salt to taste
  12. 2-3 tsp of oil

  1. Wash the handpounded rice and soak for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add the whole spices if using or the garam masala. Add the onions, slit green chilies and saute till the onions turn slightly brown.
  3. Add the turmeric powder and mix. Add in the tomatoes and saute till it gets mushy.
  4. Add the jalapenos and chopped beans and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the brussel sprouts, saute for a couple of minutes more.
  5. Add the soaked and drained rice and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the required amount of water. This kind of rice requires 1 1/2 cups of water for every cup of rice if soaked ( and about 2 cups of water if not soaked).
  6. Add salt, let the water come to a boil. Close the lid and cook in medium heat for 2 whistles. Let it cool and fluff the rice.
Serve with raita of choice.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tomato Chutney with Bengal Gram - Kadalaiparuppu thakkali chutney

One cannot have too many chutney recipes. I am now wondering how back home they managed to make a chutney every single day for breakfast. Alternating between coconut, tomatoes and occasionally another vegetable is what I seemed to do a lot. So I do not mind having several variations of tomato recipes on hand. This one made with Bengal gram or kadalai paruppu is slightly different in taste from the tomato chutney made with coconut.

While a breakfast of soft idlis and chutney is what I crave during weekend mornings and these days I seems I prefer idlis over dosai. What a change a few decades can make? The kids on the other hand prefer crispy dosais over idlis but the one thing that will make them eat idlis without complaining is the chutney that goes with it when it is something they are fond of. They like all the tomato based chutneys, and also other chutneys like onion chutney, carrot chutney their favorite and coconut chutney.

Here is a quick and easy chutney to have on hand. I have realized one thing, home grown tomatoes especially heirloom and sun ripened tomatoes make a great difference in taste. Store bought tomatoes have absolutely no taste, you have to get the taste from the spices that are added whereas with good tomatoes all you need to do is add the spices just to bring out and heighten taste of the tomato.

Roast the bengal gram, followed by the urad dal and spices and set aside. Now in the same pan, saute the onions and tomatoes with salt. Cool.
Roast the bengal gram, followed by the urad dal and spices and set aside. Now saute the onions and tomatoes with salt.

The ingredients are very similar to how regular tomato chutney is made but the amount of kadalai paruppu is increased from 2 tsp to 2 tbsp.

Tomato Chutney with Bengal Gram - Kadalaiparuppu thakkali chutney
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:15 minutes
  1. 2 tbsp of Bengal Gram or kadalai paruppu
  2. 2 tsp of urad dal or uludham paruppu
  3. 1/2 tsp of coriander seeds + few pepper corns
  4. 3-4 dried or fresh red chilies
  5. 4-6 medium sized tomatoes about 2 cups of chopped tomatoes
  6. 1/2 cup of chopped shallots or red onions
  7. 1 1/2 tsp oil
  8. salt to taste

  1. In a wide mouthed pan or a saute pan add 1/2 tsp of oil and when hot add the Bengal Gram till it starts to brown. Add the urad dal at this time and continue to saute till they start to brown as well.
  2. Add in the coriander seeds and if using dried chilies add and saute for a minute.
  3. Remove the roasted dal and spices to a blender.
  4. In the same saute pan add more oil if required and saute till it starts to brown. At this point add the tomatoes and fresh red chilies if using, salt and saute for 5-8 minutes till the tomatoes are mushy. Let Cool.
  5. Powder the sauteed dal and spices to a powder. Now add the cooked onion, tomato mixture and blend to a fairly smooth paste.

Goes well with idlis, dosais and even with rotis. It is extremely tasty in a toasted bread.

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