Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cucumber Sweet and Sour Chutney

Or to call it by it's real name, Theeya Dhosakaya Pulusu Pachadi'.
We'll come back to the tongue twister in a bit! 

A few weeks ago, my friend Sujata had borrowed my copy of 'Cooking at Home With Pedatha'. Sujata is a fan of South Indian cuisine.... well, she is a huge fan of Idli-sambar, to be accurate. 
When her parents were visiting, she tried out this recipe and I had a share in it too. 
Interestingly, had I not tasted this chutney at her dinner table, I doubt I would have been in a hurry to make it, let alone blog about it.

To me, Cucumbers mean sandwiches and raitas/ koshimbir. Cooking cucumbers was a big no for me. I had tasted cucumber daal once and disliked it, somehow that experience left it's mark on my memory with a deep rooted dislike for cooked, gloopy, squish ( in Marathi, one would call it 'gilgileet') cucumbers. That was until Pedatha stepped in to rectify it! 

This  book is a treasure, I tell you ( yes, I am repeating myself) 
And this chutney is a keeper. The flavors mingle so well to create a tangy tango in your mouth and you want seconds in no time. I made this  last week, when Sujata and I combined forces for a Ganpati Potluck at her house. 
I kept thinking of my Father when I made this relish, he would have loved it. Maybe, if my parents visit us, I will get an opportunity to make this for them (among the ten thousand other things I want to feed them! )
 Try it, you will love it! Trust me. 

You need: 

2 medium Cucumbers
3Tbsp. Thick Tamarind Pulp (soak Tamarind in warm water and extract pulp, discard solids)
1/2 tsp. Turmeric powder
2 tsp. Sambar Powder
11/2 tsp Sesame seeds
1 heaped Tbsp. Jaggery
2 Tbsp. Chopped Cilantro
1 Tbsp Oil
Salt to taste


1 heaped tsp. Urad daal / split husked black gram
1 heaped tsp. Mustard seeds
2-3 red Chilies, nicked at the tail, stalks retained
2 Green Chilies, slit and stalk removed
5-7 Curry leaves
1/4 tsp Asafetida powder

Peel the cucumber and chop into thin 1 inch long pieces or 1/2 inch cubes

Dry roast the sesame seeds on a low flame until golden brown  and grind to a coarse powder
Heat oil in a wok/ kadhai, add the urad daal (gram daal), as it turns golden, add the mustard seeds. These will pop on contact. 
Lower the flame, add the chilies, curry leaves and asafetida.
Add the chopped cucumber and stir for a minute
Add the tamarind pulp, turmeric powder and sambar podi, powdered sesame seeds and jaggery
Cover and cook for a few minutes
Add salt just before switching off the heat. 
Garnish with Cilantro.
Serve as a side dish.

I enjoyed this side dish with warm rice and a tiny drizzle of ghee.
I also enjoyed it with Jowar bhakri and Masale Bhaat.

Some Telugu friends of mine, at my son's bus stop assured me that I had used the wrong cucumber and that Dosakaya meant this. I was confused, maybe you, my dear readers, can clarify and if you have used the yellow melon/ cucumber, please do leave me a comment and I will look it up on your blog.

Wrong or not, this is one awesome side dish you will not regret making. Cooked cucumbers never tasted this good! 
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Turkish Pilaf

We live around Dallas, one big hub of Indians and Indian community related activities. 
We miss out on most activities.
Something, always, comes up.
One day, it is a late meeting.
The other it is a migraine.
Then the son decides to throw up his entire, dinner, for no reason.......wait, there is a reason, we had plans to go out. Right, glad I got that straight.
So all in all, you can imagine how our social calendar looks like. 

I ain't complaining, just tellin' it like it is.
I guess my parents went thru this too, when I was little. 
When I think of all this, I miss my parents, more than the usual. (Don't we all?)
My favorite type of entertainment is a small party of close friends over for dinner. Fun, laughter, good food and the closeness we share. We are lucky when our friends have their parents visiting, that way Little S  gets a small share of 'Aaji and Ajjja' (Grandma and Grandfather), that tides us over till the time I can convince our parents to visit us.
This summer, my good friend Sujata's parents were visiting her. This was an additional bonus for me, her daughter is my son's 'Tai' ( he treats her like his elder sister) and now he would get to share her grandparents too!  It's good learning for me too, Sujata's Mom is a fantastic cook and I was always in and out of her kitchen looking, learning and sampling! 
4 months passed off in a blink! We met, laughed, dined , celebrated birthdays and soon it was time for them to leave. 
We had to get together for dinner and say good bye to them. Sujata suggested I bring a couple of items and she would make something and make it a small potluck. 

Deciding on what to cook was easy. There was the 15th. August celebration  organized in the city, we did not go ( read the first few lines, they will explain why). Sujata and her family went and she got me this little cookbook. I was thrilled. I have tried a couple of Hare Krishna  recipes earlier and loved them. This book would provide some more with equally delightful results. I was sure.  

I decided on one recipe from this book and another from my very favorite, 660 curries.  Recipe coming up soon.

Turkish Pilaf sounded just right!  A fitting recipe to bid them Bon voyage.
the combination of the pilaf and curry was refreshingly different and we all enjoyed it.

Here's what you need to feed 6.

3 Cups Vegetable Stock or Water ( I used water)
1 Tbsp Extra virgin Olive Oil
1/2  cup Pine Nuts
1/2 tsp Yellow Asafetida powder
1 1/2 Cups Basmati Rice (or other good-quality long grain rice)
4 whole Cloves
One, 1 inch cube Ginger, sliced
2 Bay leaves
Two, 4 inch stalks Fresh Thyme
Three, 3 inch strips Orange Zest
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup Currants
3 Tbsp Chopped Flat leaf Parsley

Bring to a boil the Veg. Stock in a small sauce an over moderate heat
Cover and reduce to a simmer.
Heat half the olive oil in a 2 liter/ quart over low to moderate heat, when slightly hot, add the pine nuts.
Toast them in oil for  a minute or two, until golden brown and fragrant.
Remove  saucepan  from heat, quickly remove the nuts from the oil and drain on a paper towel.
Return pan and remaining oil to heat.

Warm remaining oil and sprinkle asafetida, stir momentarily, drop in the rice and stir for -3 mins. or until the rice grains turn translucent.
Pour the boiling stock on the rice. Add cloves, ginger, bay leaves, thyme stalks, orange zest, salt and pepper.
Raise heat to high and quickly bring rice to a full boil.
Immediately reduce the heat to very low and cover pan with a tight fitting lid

Remove saucepan from heat, allowing  the delicate rice grains to firm up for 5 minutes.
Lift the lid and carefully, allowing the delicate  rice grains to firm up for 5 mins.
lift the lid and carefully extract the cloves, thyme stalks, ginger and bay leaves, which should be sitting on top.

Carefully fold in the currants and flat leaf parsley and serve hot.

Notes : 
I made some changes to the recipe
- I used cranberries instead of currants , I could not find any :(
- I used Walnuts instead of pine nuts ( read about pine nut mouth) on Nupur's OHS and have been vary since. 

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