Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stuffed red chilli pickle / Lal mirch ka achaar

Summer is almost here and I thought it was high time I posted this recipe of stuffed red chilli pickle that I made a couple of weeks back.
Winter is a lovely time to be in Ahmedabad. The weather is beautiful and you get some really lovely vegetables and fruits in this season. There are some that are really unique to this state, like ponk or fresh jowar, fresh tuver or pigeon pea and kand or purple yam. I had never heard of these before I moved here. Another really interesting one is the fresh red chilli, which I was always tempted to buy but never knew what to make with it.

red chillies

Fresh chillies drying in the sun

The really friendly and helpful vegetable vendor sometimes even gives me ideas of what I can make with the veggies that are new to me. Like mogri, or radish stems, which he even gave me a recipe for, but unfortunately I didn't like the taste of it too much, way too strong for my taste. He told me this is the red chilli that's used to make the red chilli stuffed pickle. That was the pickle I always enjoyed with parathas at the restaurants serving authentic North Indian food and I was thrilled with the prospect of making my own stuffed red chilli pickle ~

red chilli pickle

Pickle ready to be eaten

I love it with parathas, especially aloo parathas. This pickle is not terribly spicy but has the tangy, bitter and spice tastes all merged together to make it really irresistible. I was so thrilled with the idea of making this and two of my friends here gave me their aunt's / mother's recipes. I combined both these recipes and since I had bought just 10 chillies, I reduced the amount of all the spices, going by the great 'andaaz' or estimation, more than anything else. Its a miracle this pickle turned out right

chilli pickle

Chilli pickle getting sun-cooked

Here's the recipe after all my approximations. I will definitely make a bigger batch next season

Stuffed red chilli pickle / Lal mirch ka achaar

What you need -

10 large fresh red chillies

1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder / hing
3 tbsp dry mango powder / amchoor powder
3 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds / saunf
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp kalonji seeds / nigella
2 tbsp salt or to taste

1/3rd cup mustard oil

What you do with it -

Heat the mustard oil to smoking point first, set aside and allow it to completely
Wash chillies and allow to dry completely on a towel, leaving in a sunny place for a day
Dry roast the mustard, fenugreek and fennel seeds. Allow it to cool and then add the nigella seeds to it
Grind it coarsely and keep aside
Add 2 tbsp of oil to the spice mixture
Using a spoon, stuff the mixture into each chilli, whole or slit lengthwise, as you prefer
Add a little oil into each chilli and place these in a clean, dry glass jar and pour the remaining oil over it
Keep it in the sun for 2-3 days
Enjoy the pickle with parathas

Friday, February 28, 2014

Hummus (without tahini)

The first Mediterannean food I ever tasted was hummus and pita bread. Maybe I hadn't acquired the taste then and I found the hummus too pasty and strange. Pita bread felt more like a naan / kulcha, and I wondered what all the fuss was about.
A few years later when I tasted it again, the texture of hummus felt surprisingly nice and the warm pita went so well with it. Not sure the cook did a great job or I just developed better taste buds !

I started making it at home much later and my eight year old seems to really enjoy this now. I have made hummus only with chickpeas, though I have heard of sweet potato hummus and basil hummus, which I will get around to making soon enough

hummus

I am usually tempted to buy all these exotic ingredients when I see them, but now I stop myself. There are enough number of spices that I have picked up and trashed after a couple of years because of the expiry date and I would have used it just a couple of times, or perhaps just once when I felt inspired enough. I was very keen on picking up tahini, but thankfully better sense prevailed and I used my own substitution which turned out pretty good. I did however pick up bottle of za'atar spice, a mix of sumac, sesame seeds and some dried herbs.

Warm pita and hummus drizzled with olive oil can make for a really nice starter. Here's the recipe for the hummus I made.

Hummus

What you need -

1 cup dried chickpeas (soaked in water for 6-8 hours)
2-3 cloves garlic
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds
a pinch of za'atar spice (optional)
juice of a medium sized lemon
salt to taste


What you do with it -

Drain the soaked chickpeas, add 2.5 cups water and cook till its soft but not mushy
Allow it to cool
In a small grinder, powder the cumin seeds and sesame seeds
Blend the chickpeas, garlic, sesame seed powder, cumin seed powder, olive oil and 1/2 the lemon juice
Add the sesame oil and salt and blend till its smooth
Sprinkle some red chilli powder, za'atar spice powder, lemon juice and olive oil and serve with warm pitas

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