Monday, August 13, 2012

Simple Red & Green Chile Chutney/Relish (Chile Pesto)

Avocado Toast Topped With Green Chile Chutney 
With its inimitable and lovely chile flavor, Chile relish is a delicious all purpose seasoning to have on hand; it is wonderful to spice up whatever you are cooking, as a chutney/pickle with meals, Dosa, burgers, bajjis or other snacks, and as a sandwich spread.  I concocted this so that the members of the family who love their food hot can spike their foods to their hearts' content :).  I love to add a little dollop as a side with rice and mild curries.  It is fantastic as a starter spread atop yogurt, ricotta, or cream cheese surrounded by crostini or crackers; a little schmear makes plain old grilled cheese come alive!  Once you start making and enjoying chile relish, I am sure that you will find it indispensable and discover many uses for it.

Try both green and red chile relish; each has its own unique flavor - the green chile has that fresh, crisp  taste while the red is a bit sweetly fruity.  Any chiles may be used to make this simple but wonderful chutney; they do not need to be searingly hot either.  You can use mild to hottest chiles in any combination according to your preference. 

Ingredients:

20 fresh Green or Red Chiles ( I used Jalapenos and Serranos)
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Crushed Fenugreek seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
1/4 tsp ground Turmeric
1 Lime, juiced (optional)

Method:

Wash the chiles well and drain.  Wipe dry and remove stems.

Place the chiles in the container of the food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade and finely chop using the pulse button.  Alternatively the chiles may be finely chopped or pounded using a mortar and pestle.

Heat a non-reactive skillet/kadai and add the oil.  When hot, add the seeds and let them pop.

Remove from heat and stir in asafetida and turmeric and then the ground chiles with the salt.

Return to heat and cook for two or three minutes until chiles turn bright green and the liquid evaporates a little.

Remove from heat, cool completely, and stir in the lime juice if using.

Spoon the relish into clean, dry, sterile jars and keep in the fridge. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rice Pradhaman (Rice Pudding With Coconut Milk)

Pradhaman (translates as chief or first) is a traditional and delightful Kerala dessert and a small portion is always served to be eaten first at any banquet - a welcome preview of what is to come! There are many types of pradhamans in which the star ingredients may be rice or rice products, dals, or fruits such as jack-fruits or plantains; all are typically made with jaggery and coconut milk and are porridge-like - a bit soupy.

This pradhaman is also called "idichu pizhinja payasam" as freshly grated coconut is "pounded and squeezed" to extract the milk.  I have given the option of canned coconut milk to make it easier.

Some families flavor the pradhaman simply with dried ginger only and the toasted coconut; others like to add cardamoms and cashews. Try both and decide for yourself.

It is important to stir regularly so that the pradhaman does not stick or burn.  If you like, use coconut oil sparingly to toast the coconut and cashews for a vegan dessert.

6-8 Servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Rice
2 Tbsp Chana or Mung dal (optional)
1 cup Jaggery or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 coconut, grated OR 1 can (~2 cups) Coconut Milk
1 tsp ground Dried Ginger (Chukku) OR 5 pods Cardamom
1 tiny pinch Saffron (Optional)
2 Tbsp Ghee
2 Tbsp fresh Coconut, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup Cashews (optional)
1/4 cup Raisins (Optional)
1 or 2 Ripe Bananas/plantains, finely chopped (optional)                          

Method:


Dry toast the dal (if using)  just until fragrant; let cool.

Wash the rice and dal together and add to a large heavy-bottomed pot with 2 cups of water; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently until soft.

Grind the grated coconut with a cup of water; squeeze to extract all the milk and set aside this milk as milk #1.

Add a cup of water to the coconut grind again and extract the milk - set aside as #2.

Repeat grinding and extracting the coconut milk with a last cup of water - set aside as #3.

When the liquid is absorbed by the rice, add the coconut milk #3 and bring to a boil and simmer stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.

Stir in milk #2 and the jaggery/brown sugar and let it dissolve; bring to a boil again and simmer gently stirring often for about 15 minutes.

Add the coconut milk #1 and heat until hot but not boiling.  Remove from heat and cover.

Add the dry ginger OR the cardamom mixture. {Crush the cardamom pods, gather the seeds (discard the pods), and grind the seeds well with saffron and a pinch of sugar into a fine powder and sprinkle the spices on top.} Stir well and keep covered.

Heat the ghee in a small pan and toast the cashews until pale pink; add the coconut pieces and cook until pale gold; now stir in the raisins and cook until beginning to puff up a little.

Stir the nut mixture into the pradhaman; stir in the chopped bananas and serve hot, warm or cool.  Enjoy!!