Saturday, August 19, 2006

Two-minute Ginger Pickle

Its been a really really long and hectic fortnight. I moved from my university to my new place of exhausting and scary event. I relish the fact that I have attained a milestone and am moving on to another phase of my life.........but that doesnt mean that its not scary! I really like the new place where I am at......but I miss familiar faces , places and friends like crazy. Am back here to visit them all this weekend.......But once that craving got satisfied, another arose- I miss home! I want my mommy!

But since mommy can not be had right now, a close substitute is something she makes for me. Continuing my series about my favourite things that I am fed before I leave home for comes Two-minute ginger pickle! Super-simple and great to eat with ANY kind of food (I have even mixed it in pasta!).

Ingredients: Fresh Ginger, lime/lemon juice, salt, red chili pwd, green chillies (chopped fine)

1. Scrape the skin off the ginger. Trick: use a spoon! Saves precious ginger and juices.
2. Cut the ginger into small pieces. Can make them thin and long (juliennes) or small cubes....whatever you like.
3. Mix the cut ginger with chopped green chillies, salt, red chilli pwd and lemon juice. keep tasting and adjust these ingredients till to achieve a taste you like. Really, its that simple and that individualistic. Just remember that the main taste is that you ginger and lime. This can be eaten now and it tastes better and tastes better and better with time. Can be stored in the fridge for 10-14 days.
Variations: Can put in some white vinegar for an additional kick. Also, can do all this with julliennes of 'mooli' (horse radish).

Now that I am living on my own, I have discovered that I dont like cooking for myself! I am soooo used to cooking for at least 6-8 people that it seems pointless doing it for one. But I do know that I need to eat properly so I am hoping that this blog provides me the excuse to continue cooking and experimenting even on my own.
Ciao from the middle of the country.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I am back in the US after 7 weeks at home....and am struggling with a major bout of homesickness :( . It seems so pointless being so far away from family sometimes. Anyway, now I will count days till december and cook my heart out.

The last few days at home were really really crazy food-wise since one person after another was vying to feed me their goodies! So one recipe at a time, I will share with you some of my most favorite recipes. Today, I wanted to try out 'kachori'. Basically it is a stuffed, fried bread. The stuffing can be ANYTHING that you complicated or as simple as you want to make it. The easiest stuffing is potatoes or peas. Mom makes a stuffing out of soaked, ground dal.....she will post that recipe soon.

Note: these are fried....but I am in need of major comfort food right now.
The simplest order of move that I follow is
a. Make the stuffing first. b. While this cools, put the oil for deep-frying on medium heat. c. While the oils heats up and the stuffing cools, make the dough. d. Make stuffed dough-balls and deep fry.

For the stuffing:
Boiled, roughly mashed potatoes 4 (or boiled mashed peas)
Red Onion, chopped finely 1
Green chillies chopped 4-5
Oil 1 tblsp
Corriander leaves chopped to taste
Corriander pwder 3tspn
Red chilli pwd 1 tsp
Amchur 1-2tsp
Garam masala 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Take 1 tblsp on oil in pan. Once it is hot, put in some jeera seeds. Once they pop, saute the chopped onions and green chillies for 1-2 mins. Now put in the mashed potatoes (or peas). Saute for 1 min. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until integrated. After another 1 min, the smell will tempt you to eat the stuffing right there and then! Remove this mixture from the heat and let cool.
Note: A 'healthier' way will be to simply put all the stuffing ingredients together without sauteeing them. A slightly different taste. Also, you can use any leftover veggies for the stuffing. Further, you can add or leave out any ingredient for the hard and fast rules.

For the bread:
Flour 500 grams
Oil 4 tblsp
Salt to taste
Ajwain seeds 3 pinches

Mix the flour, salt, oil, ajwain. Use water to make a dough (just like roti dough). This dough should be relatively flexible or loose since we need the elasticity in order to put in the stuffing. Make small balls of dough, diameter apprx 1inch.

Pulling it all together:

To make the actual kachori, take a clean dry rolling surface and brush it gently with oil. Now roll out one of the dough balls until it is big enough to the stuffed (do not make the this too thin, otherwise these are hellish to deep fry).
Take 1 tblsp of stuffing, put in the middle of the rolled out dough and pull together the edges of the rolled out dough until you get a round smooth ball with no trace of the stuffing showing outside. (I need to buy a camera soon! It is so hard to verbally describe some things!).
Now roll out this stuffed dough-ball into a small, round disc.

Note: this is a slightly tricky part. If the disc is too thin then the stuffing might spill out into the oil while deep frying. If it is too thick then the taste after frying is predominantly of the dough, not the stuffing. A little experimentation is needed until you find what works for you.

Deep fry this stuffed disc in hot oil on medium heat until it is golden-brown on both sides. Repeat until you run of the stuffing and the dough.

Note that while rolling out the dough we do not use loose flour to dust the dough. Instead, we use a little oil to grease this rolling surface so that the dough wont stick to the surface.

You can serve these as appetisers or snacks or a meal. Usual accompaniments are pickles or/and chutnies (corriander, mint, tamarind, 'saunth'....anything goes). Kachori's are also great as a picnic or travel food--easy to pack, taste good even when cold and do not need too many accompaniments to go along. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.