Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bharleli Simla-mirchichi Bhaji (Stuffed Green Peppers)


Well this is a very common feeling at any maharashtrian home...or may I say a Mumbaikar's home. But the guilty feeling after eating a whole lot of vada-paavs...not so cool afterall!
So to reduce the guilt and to still enjoy it's flavor at the same time, we make the vada paav filling and use it in innovative non-fried ways!

Sometimes, we use it as a sandwich filling...sometimes in puff pastries...and sometimes in stuffed green peppers!

So here is the recipe for all you guilty vada-paav fans. Nothing beats a vada-paav, but trust me your cravings would be in check.....for a little more time...:)

P.S. Don't forget to read through the tips right at the bottom of this post before you get on to making this rocking recipe!

Serves: 3 to 4 people
Level: Medium

6 anaheim peppers
3 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 pinches asafoetida
4 curry leaves
3 green chillies, chopped finely
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Coriander to decorate

Step 1 - Heat some oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add asafoetida, curry leaves and green chillies. Stir for a couple of seconds.

Step 2 - Add in the turmeric powder. Saute it for a couple more seconds. Do not let the turmeric turn brown or burn here. Immediately add in the onions. Saute for 5 mins, till the onions start changing color.

Step 3 - Add in the potatoes and salt. Mix well till everything is incorporated. Sprinkle some coriander on it. Take off heat and let the mixture cool down.

Step 4 - Wash the anaheim peppers well, cut off the head and make a slit on one side and gently scoop out the seeds. Make sure you dont cut the peppers in half here. Wash the peppers again and pat them dry.

Step 5 - Stuff the potato mixture from step 3 generously. (There will be excess potato mixture. Do not discard it.)

Step 6 - In a flat pan, heat 2.5 to 3 tblsp oil. On medium heat, place in the peppers, open potato side down for 5 mins. Do not disturb them a lot. Once the potatoes get browned, turn them over, reduce heat to low. Cover the pan with a lid and let the peppers cook on low heat for 10 mins or till they are soft and almost done. When you notice the peppers are almost ready (90% done), place the excess potato from step 5 into all the gaps in the pan. Cover and let it cook.

Serve hot with some hot chapatis!

Happy cooking everyone!

Make sure you cook the peppers on low heat, else they char from one side and remain raw on the other! You really cannot rush this preparation.

You don't have to go in search of anaheim peppers. You could use normal bell peppers too. Over time, I just noticed that anaheims are the quickest to cook, especially in the US, mainly because the bell peppers we get around here have a really thick cover, which is not too ideal for this preparation.

Try and get peppers of the same size. They end up all cooking beautifully together.

Do not cut down on the oil here. Too little oil, will end up burning everything in the pan.

Handle the peppers very gently when they are cooked. They could break very easily ending up looking really messy, but will taste awesome none-the-less.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Apple Pickle

Loads of apples, too tart to be enjoyed as a snack, not in a mood for an apple dessert! Believe it or not, this happens too often at our place.

Try searching for recipes with apples and google throws at you all the delicious tarts and pies and cakes. Just looking at the pictures makes you crave some calories. But with a lot of self control I typed in "apple savory recipes" and saw amazing images of apple pickles.
How interesting! But wouldn't it be all mushy and pulpy? The recipe claimed it did not. We weren't going to eat those tart apples anyway and the recipe looked too simple to be true. I decided that there was no harm in trying some apple pickle. And I was glad I did!

It almost tasted like Raw Mango pickle, just a tad bit sweet. This can be taken care of by addition of some white vinegar. I think its a must try! Maybe next time, I'll buy apples just to make some pickle!

Moreover, making homemade pickles has its own advantages. Firstly, I think it is super exciting to eat a fresh homemade pickle. Secondly, you can totally control the salt and oil getting into this. So great for calorie conscious or High Bloop Pressure candidates.

Just make sure you read the tips, right below the recipe before you try this apple pickle.

I say.. just go for it!

Level: Easy
Serves: 5 to 6 people ( If eaten as a pickle)

3 medium green apples, chopped into tiny cubes
2 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp fenugreek powder
3 pinches asafoetida
2 tsp vinegar
Salt to taste
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp oil

Step 1 - Place the chopped apples in a large bowl. Add red chilly powder, fenugreek powder, 2 pinches asafoetida and salt. Mix well and adjust flavors to your taste. Leave this to marinate for 3 to 4 hours.

Step 2 - In a small pan, heat some oil. When the oil heats up, add in the mustard seeds and 1 pinch asafoetida and let them splutter. Immediately pour this into the apples and stir well.

If at this point, you think you need the pickle to be slightly sour, add in some vinegar and mix well.

Hope you enjoy making and eating this!
Happy cooking everyone!

I used green apples, but there are recipes which have used red apples for pickles too.
Few recipes, call for peeling the apples before chopping, I did not do that. I think it looks prettier and holds shape better if we leave the apples skin-on.

Once you wash the apples before chopping them, make sure you wipe them dry with a tissue paper or a cloth. You want the apples to be as dry as possible. Water content, makes the pickle go bad quicker.

After chopping the apples, immediately go to Step 1. You dont want to wait for the apples to get discolored.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spring Onion Soup

Spring Onion Soup is a very mild soup. It can soothe any soul!
Every sip gives you the fresh ginger and slight garlic taste and a nice crunch of spring onions. Personally I think this combination totally rocks!

I got this recipe online. You can also go to the site below to check out the soup in its original form, as I have tweaked it slightly to our liking. Am sure it tastes equally good both ways. The only change I have made is substantially reduced on the butter and added some dried herbs and chilly flakes. 

Here is how I made it.

Serves: 4 to 5 people
Level: Easy
Adapted from:

2 cups spring onions, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp fresh garlic, grated
3/4 tblsp butter
Pinch of salt
1 tsp pepper

For white sauce:
1 tblsp butter
2 tblsp all purpose flour/maida
3 cups milk, I used 2%
1/4 tsp sugar
Salt as per taste
1 tsp red chilly flakes
1/2 tsp dried herb, I used oregano

Step 1 - Let us prep the spring onions first. In a medium sized pan, heat 3/4th tblsp butter. When it starts slightly bubbling, add in the grated ginger and garlic. Saute till they slightly change color. Do not let this burn. 

Step 2 - Add in the chopped spring onions and saute for 3 to 4 mins till they slightly wilt. We dont want to completely cook these. They have to retain their shape and crunch. Add salt and pepper. Mix well. Keep aside in a plate.

Step 3 - Lets get to the white sauce now. Take a pot and heat 1 tblsp butter in it. As soon as it melts, lower the heat and add in the all purpose flour, stirring continuously till it slightly changes to a light brown color. Again, do not let this burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.

Step 4 - Add in the milk, slowly and steadily, stirring continuously. Make sure there are no lumps. Add in the sugar, red chilly flakes, oregano and the spring onions from step 1 and 2. Mix well. Adjust taste by adding salt and pepper.

Serve piping hot.
I served this soup with some rustic sourdough bread for dunking. A great combo deal!

To avoid lumps in your white sauce, use a whisk and stir briskly when you add the milk. Add milk really slowly.

You can add green chillies in step 1 to spike the soup up a bit.

Dont keep boiling the soup for too long. The spring onions might just lose their texture.

Once the soup starts cooling, it will thicken because of the all purpose flour. Just add in some water to thin it and bring it to a boil. As fresh as new!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spiced Carrot Tomato Soup

Continuing with our once a week soup diet, I exhausted almost all the soup recipes I had with me. This is when I started looking up easy soup recipes. Well, it has to be easy else it never gets made!
Have written down a couple of them, but the carrot and tomato soup just caught my eye. It looked beautiful, bright and appetizing. Unfortunately for my taste, it sounded quite bland. So I decided to give it my own twist.

So for all you thin and spicy soup lovers out there, this is for you!

Level: Easy
Serves: 4 people

2 large carrots, roughly chopped
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
Salt as per taste
Pepper as per taste
1 tsp oil
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
4 black peppers
1 bay leaf
Water as required

Step 1 - Place the chopped carrots and tomatoes in a pressure cooker. Add water till it is half way to the vegetables. Pressure cook for 2 whistles or till the vegetables are well done.

Step 2 - Once the vegetables cool down, blend them with the water they are in, to form a smooth paste. Strain this mixture.

Step 3 - In a pot, heat oil. Add cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, bay leaf and salt. When the cumin seeds change color, pour in the strained carrot-tomato mixture. Add water till the soup reaches your preferred consistency.

Serve piping hot, with a sprinkle of pepper.

I served this with the tomato - mint bruschetta. Just perfect!

If you are uncomfortable with consuming the whole spices in your soup, you can also strain the soup into soup bowls while serving. This will give it all the flavor and no spicy crunch in between sips.

The original recipe does not add the spices. So if you want to keep it nice and simple. Skip step 3. Just reheat the strained mixture with water and salt. Serve with a sprinkle of pepper. Done!

Happy cooking everyone!