Today's Menu

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How Green is my tomato

Cooking with Green Tomatoes

Except for Salsa Verde, Green tomatoes, or tomatillos as they are known in Spanish, are something I had never tried before. I passed the pale green, fresh looking tomatoes in the grocery aisle and thought, perhaps I can do something with these in the Indian style.
To describe Green tomatoes, I would say-think red tomatoes but firmer and sourer and without the sweetness. For those of us who happen to enjoy sourness, they are very well suited to the Indian style cooking. As I looked up recipes, I found that they can be really versatile and you can make a number of relishes, chutneys or vegetable side dishes using these. I tried the following recipes with very nice results and what started as an experiment has quickly become a family favourite.

STUFFED GREEN TOMATOES

Once of the best ways to elevate any vegetable dish to something exotic is to stuff it. There are many different combinations you can try - one thing I would like perhaps to try in the future is to stuff tomatoes with couscous - mediterrenean style. Meanwhile, on a less ambitious note, this is my recipe for stuffed green tomatoes.
















Ingredients


5 medium size green tomatoes
1/3 cup gram flour (besan)
2 tablespoon oil
1/3 tsp mango powder (amchoor)
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
a pinch hing ( asafoetida)
coriander leaves for garnishing

Method

Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides of the tomato to create a hollow for the stuffing. You can scoop about 3/4 of the pulp out using a spoon. Keep this pulp aside and try to chop it so that it is almost like a paste.

Heat a pan and roast the gram flour till is turns slightly brown. Take it off the stove and mix chilli powder, fennel, mango powder and salt to taste.
Stuff this dry mixture into the tomato cups, place the cap on and secure with tooth picks.

























Heat oil in a flat pan, add mustard and cumin seeds. When the seeds splutter, add the hing and the tomato pulp and stir. Stir in salt, chili powder and turmeric and cook for 3-4 minutes till the pulp is soft and mushy and the oil separates. Place the tomatoes on the pan and cover and steam on a medium flame. The tomatoes will cook and the water from the tomatoes will seep into the dry stuffing.
Season with coriander leaves and serve.


TOMATO BHAAJI

This is a very simple stir fry that can spice up any meal either as a side to roti or rice. This has a really sharp, tangy taste that brings your taste buds alive and it works especially well when you want to bring a spicy-sour element to an otherwise ordinary meal.















Ingredients


3-4 green tomatoes
1/3 tsp. red chilli powder
1/2 tsp. dhana-jeera powder ( cumin-coriander powder)
3-4 pinches turmeric powder
2-3 pieces asafoetida
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp. each cumin & mustard seeds
2-3 tablespoons sev ( deep-fried gram flour noodles )

Chop the tomatoes into large chunks.
Heat oil, and cackle the mustard and cumin seeds. Add the spices and stir for a few seconds. The add the tomato chunk and salt and sugar and cook for a very little while, till they are softened but not mushy.
Top with sev just before serving.
With a few slight tweaks, the above recipe becomes an excellent chutney, to be served with dosa or idli.
Omit the sev, and the mustard and cumin seeds and follow the same procedure as above. Then grind the mixture after the cooking process and you have a quick and easy chutney.

Foot Notes - It is always exciting to try a new vegetable and realize that you are on to something. Since these tomatoes cook very fast, you never need to keep them on the stove for too long.
Also, since they taste so sour and sharp, besan is a perfect foil for their sourness in both the above recipes.
Enjoy!!!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bread Bhajji

Nupur's blog on stale bread has inspired me to put in an entry for bread bhajji's. There is always left-over bread to work with. For starters, there are the two slices, the top and the bottom one which no one want to have. Also, sometimes, I like to slice off the ends of the bread for a really soft peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Soon the bread ends stack up in the fridge and I know that it is time for bread Bhajji.

Ingredients.

2 cups bread ends
1/4 cup yougurt
1/2 cup onions cut fine
some baking powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsl dhania-jeera powder
salt to taste

Soak the bread in the yugurt for 15 min. After the bread gets soggy, add chili powder, spice powders, salt and onions and knead it into a hard dough. Do not knead too much, just enough to form a dough.
Make flat patties and deep fry in oil.
serve with ketchup.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Jivha for Lentils - Cool Lentil Broth soup

Jivha for Lentils

Lentils - so versatile and tasty. Indian kitchens, especially south Indian kitchens have some variation of lentil pretty much everyday.
This is such an exciting ingredient - if not cooked and mashed into dals and sambars then friend as wadis or dried as papads or mixed with rice for idlis and dosas. For vegetarians, this is almost the only good source of protien besides dairy products.
This simple recipe is a clear soup that is perfect for a hot summer's day.
In my kitchen, a cup or two of lentils is pressure cooked almost everyday.
Every once in a way, I have some extra water that floats on top of the cooked dal. Those are good days coz this leftover lentil broth is the perfect stock for a number of soups - both hot and cold
This is a simple soup that I love to put together. It makes for a nice change from regular cooking.

COOL LENTIL BROTH SOUP

Ingredients

2 cups of thin lentil broth
1/4 of a small cucumber
1/4 small tomato
1/3 of a small carrot
1 radish
2 tablespoons of tiny cut red onion
1 spring onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/3 tsp chaat masala
salt and pepper to taste

Cut all the vegetables into very tiny pieces, the tinier the better.
Slice the spring onion and keep the leaves aside.
Pour the thin broth into a bowl, add lime juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and chaat masala. Add all the vegetables and let it cool for a while in the fridge
Top with the spring onion leaves and optionally, some crushed nachos.
Add a sprig of coriander and serve.

This simple soup is very refreshing in the summer. You can get creative with this - I like to top with crushed papads or add some tabasco for some extra kick.

PALAK DAL ( SPINACH LENTIL STEW)

This is a simple wholesome dish, pleasing to the palate and very nutritious - a perfect weekday dish. Spinach and lentil are a magical combination.


Ingredients

1 1/2 cup tur dal boiled and mashed
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 tomato
2 cups chopped spinach
1/2 sp red chili powder
1/2 sp corinader pwd
1 tsp garlic paste
mustard seeds and cumin seeds for seasoning





Heat oil and add the mustard seeds and jeera seeds. When the seeds pop, add the onion and 'sweat' them. then add the garlic paste , coriander and chilli powders and stir fry for a minute. Add the spiach leaves and saute for 2 minutes. Then add tomato and turmeric powder and let it cook till the tomatoes are soft and spinach is cooked through.
Pour in thetur dal and 1/2 cup water. Add salt and stire well.
Let the mixture boil for 5-7 minutes.
Serve hot with roti or rice.