Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Corn and Peanut Salad for a Crowd

Beans, Beans, they are good for your heart.
The more you eat, the more you fa.t. Click the link for more bean rhymes.

This is what I hear from the kids whenever I cook something with beans. The singing does not necessarily mean they don't like them. Like or dislike usually depends on how it is cooked. This salad for instance is one that never gets any negative reviews. It is also perfect for a crowd. It tends to hold its own among the deep fried goodies that abound in most parties. Easy to make and it provides a healthy alternative to those who want to avoid the deep fried stuff.

While corn and peanuts are good enough on their own, they also work very good in a combination of beans as well. Soak about a cup of different kind of dried beans. I used dried white peas (Vantana), purple eyed peas, kidney beans, frozen corn and peanuts. I used dried raw peanuts but if you have access to fresh peanuts that will be great. I am not very fond of raw onions so I cook them in lime/lemon juice and add it to the mix. If you prefer add the onions raw and squeeze the lime/lemon juice to the mix, that should work fine.

Cook the beans, peanuts and corn and set aside. Soak the chopped onions in lime/lemon juice.
In a pan heat oil and add seasonings, saute the ginger and chopped coriander leaves. Add the chili powder. Mix in the cooked beans, onions and chopped pickled jalapenos.

Pickled Jalapenos are perfect for providing the heat element in these kind of salads. If you have some home made ;) even better.

Cooking time is just for the beans, putting the salad together takes no time at all. I used dried peas, I would not add fresh green peas but if you like it go ahead and add fresh.

Corn and Peanut Salad
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20-30 minutes
  1. 1 cup dried black eyed beans (fresh works as well)
  2. 1 cup black, pinto, kidney or navy beans
  3. 1 cup dried white or green peas (vantana)
  4. 1 cup of raw dried peanuts or 1 1/2 cups of shelled fresh peanuts
  5. 4 cups of frozen corn kernels (fresh cooked or roasted will work as well)
  6. 2 tbsp of minced jalapenos (add more if needed) + 2 tsp of the pickling liquid
  7. 2 handful of chopped cilantro leaves
  8. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder
  9. 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  10. 2 tsp of oil
  11. a pinch of mustard and a pinch of cumin seeds
  12. juice from 3-4 limes or lemons
  13. 1 red onion finely chopped
  14. 1 -2 tsp of Sriracha or any chili sauce (optional)
  15. salt to taste
  16. cut cucumbers and tomatoes (optional)

  1. In either a pressure cooker or sauce pan cook the beans one by one. The beans should be fully cooked but still maintaining the shape. Do not let them get mushy.
  2. Pressure cook the raw peanuts for about 3 whistles and it becomes like fresh boiled peanuts.
  3. Microwave or heat the frozen corn for about 5-8 minutes.
  4. As the beans are cooking let the onions cure in the lemon juice. Take the onions in a non reactive cup and add the lemon juice and set aside for about an hour or so.
  5. In a wide mouthed pan heat oil, add the seasonings and when the mustard pops, reduce heat and add the ginger and saute for a minute. Add the chopped coriander leaves and give a good toss. Now add the chili powder mix and turn off the heat immediately. Do not let it burn. Also if you see a few clumps add the pickling liquid or lemon juice and stir it around to loosen it.
  6. Now add all the cooked beans, corn and the peanuts with salt.
  7. Add the minced pickled jalapenos and the pickling liquid and give a good toss so they are all mixed well together.
  8. If a little bit more spice is required add the chili sauce and toss to combine. Let sit for about 10 - 15 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle cut cucumbers and tomatoes on top before serving.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Kothavaranga Pulikulambu - Cluster Beans in a Spicy and Sour Curry

Pulikulambu is one of those sour and spicy curries that is perhaps only common in TamilNadu. Paired as a side with some rice and dal it becomes one of the most delicious things you have ever tasted. Puli is the tamil word for tamarind and kulambu is a watery curry. Pulikulambu is made with a very few ingredients - tamarin pulp, a vegetable, green chilies or chili powder and some seasonings.

In a bit of oil saute the garlic,ginger, curry leaves and coconut.
Saute the lentils and pepper. Combine the sauteed lentils with the coconut to a smooth paste.
Saute the jalapeno peppers in a bit of oil and set aside. In the same pan heat more oil and add the seasonings followed by the cluster beans.
Add the tamarind pulp to the sauteing vegetables and bring to a boil.
Add the blended paste and a cup of water, salt and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes.

There are many variations to these basic ingredients which including roasting and blending lentils or coconut. A few weeks ago I was talking to my mom about recipes with cluster beans and she passed on this recipe. The slightly sour cluster beans is perfect in a pulikulambu. Since I had an abundance of jalapenos I added that to the mix as well. Jalapenos are perfect for pulikulambu

Kothavaranga Pulikulambu - Cluster Beans in a Spicy and Sour Curry
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 1 cup of chopped cluster beans (cut to about 1 inch pieces)
  2. 10-15 jalapeno peppers cut in half, seeds and ribs removed
  3. 2 tsp of tamarind paste (or pulp from soaking a lime sized tamarind in water)
  4. seasonings: cumin seeds, mustard seeds, few fenugreek seeds, curry leaves
  5. salt to taste
  6. 2 tsp of oil
  7. For the paste
  8. 4 cloves of garlic
  9. 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger
  10. 1 tsp of pepper corn
  11. 1 sprig of curry leaves
  12. 1/2 tbsp kadalai paruppu or Bengal Gram
  13. 1/2 tbsp of ulandam paruppu or urad dal
  14. 2 tbsp of grated fresh or frozen coconut

  1. First get the paste ready, heat oil in a saute pan, add the garlic and ginger and saute till they turn color.
  2. Add the curry leave and saute for a minute. Add in the coconut and saute for a a few minutes more. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add a bit more oil and saute the kadalai paruppu first till it starts to turn slightly brown. At this stage add the urad dal and pepper and saute for a few more minutes.
  4. Combine the ginger, garlic, coconut and the sauteed dals and with addition of a little bit of water blend to a smooth paste.
  5. In a wide mouthed pan or kadai heat oil and add the jalapeno and saute till they brown a bit set aside. In the same pan add the seasonings - cumin seeds, mustard seeds and when the mustard seeds start to pop add curry leaves followed by the cluster beans. Saute the beans for 3-4 minutes. Add the sauteed jalapeno peppers.
  6. Add the tamarind pulp or if using tamarind paste mix in a cup of water and add it to the sauteing vegetables. Let it come to a boil.
  7. Add the blended paste along with 1/2 - 1 cup of water. Add salt and let it cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Serve with steamed rice.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Pan Roasted Jalapeno Chicken (Cornish Hen)

I am on a roll with jalapenos. The thing is jalapenos are not just for pickles, salsa and Mexican recipes. They are perfect for a lot of Indian recipes which we already know. It is absolutely delicious in Mirchi Ka Salan. Jalapenos when the seeds and ribs are removed and roasted are amazingly sweet and crunchy pairing beautifully with roasted chicken.

The jalapenos in this recipe are not added for the heat. Heat is from the red chili powder and the green chilies. Add more or less as per your heat tolerance.

I like to use Cornish hen to do the roast but regular chicken thighs, breast, drumsticks or wings or a combination of all could be used.

Roast the split jalapenos in a cast iron pan and set aside. In the same pan add more oil and add the chicken pieces and let cook till the water almost evaporates.
Add the ginger,garlic and slit green chilies and saute till they start to roast.
Add in the masala powder and let it cook till the check is well roasted. Add the roasted jalapenos.

Pan Roasted Jalapeno Chicken (Cornish Hen)
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 2 Cornish hens cut into bite side pieces(regular chicken -use breast or thigh along with the drumsticks and wings)
  2. 20 Jalapeno cut and seeds removed
  3. 3-4 shallots finely chopped
  4. 4 garlic cloves chopped
  5. 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  6. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  7. 1 1/2 tbsp of chicken masala powder or curry powder
  8. 2 tsp of red chili powder or black pepper powder (optional)
  9. 5 green chilies slit
  10. salt to taste
  11. 1/2 tbsp oil

  1. Cut the jalapenos in half, remove the seeds and ribs. Heat about 1 tsp of oil in a cast iron pan and roast the peppers till they start to turn color. Remove and set aside.
  2. In the same cast iron pan add the remaining oil, add the chicken pieces, in about 3-4 minutes the chicken will release moisture. Keep the heat on high and let it cook till most of the water evaporates (6- 8 minutes). The chicken should be mostly cooked by this time.
  3. Add the chopped shallots, garlic, slit green chilies and ginger and mix it in well. Saute for about 6-8 minutes. By this time the water should have mostly evaporated and everything starting to roast. Add salt and mix.
  4. Add in the masala powder and continue to roast so the chicken is well coated and looks nicely roasted (4-5 minutes). To get it to a crispy state roast longer and add more oil if required.
  5. When you think the chicken has roasted enough tip in the roasted jalapenos. Mix.
Serve over rice and a cup of yogurt on the side

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