Showing posts with label Pickles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pickles. Show all posts

Friday, May 3, 2013

Spicy Garlic Oil


Spice is a tool, a powerhouse of flavors. You can mix and match, using your tools to create the flavors you want on your canvas, with no rules (I love the sound of that.) A small teaspoon can go a long way.  Every time that I add masalas (spice blend) to my vegetables, I feel like I am breathing life into the dish.

Bland flavorless food is like watching a boring movie on a dull, rainy day. I have had the opportunity to  to taste some pretty bland food and it left me with a rather dull empty feeling.  Spicy is sometimes misunderstood as a synonym for 'hot'; however, spicy simply means flavored with spice. Spicy does not always mean it is sharp and/or hot. Cinnamon is not sharp, but it is a spice... Then there is fennel, which is sweet in flavor. It might be intimidating for some to embrace these flavors, it is indeed an acquired taste. If you are sniffing cumin for the first time, don't stick your nose into a bag of cumin, you might just faint (OK! that's a bad joke) But seriously, it does have a strong aroma, most spices do. But remember that you are not going to add a cup of cumin or any other spice,  into your dish. It's going to be just 1/2 tsp or even 1/4th tsp. It provides flavor and mixes in with the other main ingredients to give a subtle flavor. A better way could be to rub the spice between your finger and thumb and sniff the aroma. I think spiced oils are a good way to start, as you can add a bit of the spiced oil onto your dish and try it. Also, I love customizing my dinner meals to my own taste buds, hence I love food that has a lot of movement and creativity; where you can add the dips, chutneys and oils, mix them...and every bite of the food is unique. That is food nirvana for me. And most importantly, oils love flavor.

This particular spicy oil is a mix of red chili, garlic and a bit of garam masala.  The oil I have used is a blend of olive and sesame.  Sesame is pretty strong, the olive oil dilutes the flavor of the sesame and adds it's own sweet nutty taste. Why oils?? Well, it's the same reason why fried food is one of the best tasting foods. It's because fat devolves flavor (flavor solvents).  I know you're probably falling asleep here, but there is serious science behind why fried food is more flavorful. So, don't blame yourself for gawking over french fries rather than apples. (no offense to apples here).  Just one advice, don't drink it like a beverage... use a teaspoon.

My other favorite is olive oil with fennel seeds... coming soon on the blog.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Spicy pickled veggies

Pickle making is a fancy fair in India. I remember when my mother would see the first crop of raw mangoes hit the street veggie vendors, she would plan elaborately. Spotless green mangoes, washed and wiped clean, cut with the cleanest of knives with precision and then bottled into big mustard and cream pickle jar and during the process, we were told to stay away from the  kitchen and keep our filthy hands to ourselves for fear of soiling the 'batch' of pickle. The mouth of the jar always tied with a cloth and the lid would go on it, it would be kept in a warm draft free area of the kitchen.  God forbid, a batch was ever spoilt, the blame would almost always be on me...I was often seen lurking in the kitchen, in the late afternoons and when I did not have any business in there, so there was no one else to point fingers at. I don't think I have ever dug my finger into the pickle jar ...hmm maybe just once or twice ;) 

Most of the oil based pickles do not need refrigeration and takes anywhere form a month to three to mature, some of the brine based pickles are long-term too and does not need refrigeration. However the instant pickles like this one only needs 24 hours to ferment and needs refrigeration after 24 hours and can last only for a couple of months. 

Picking has gone through an evolution with time....apparently we have traded off good old fashion taste and natural pickling resulting in healthy micro nutrients in the pickles to a longer shelf life and pickles that have more preservatives than nutrients. Traditionally instant pickles like this one was fermented in basic whey (tie kefir yogurt in a cheesecloth, the water from the yogurt is whey) or just salt with some acid like lemon or vinegar ( acid often helps in preventing spoilage) thus, resulting in better taste and full of micro nutrients but a very short shelf life and  of-course a need for refrigeration. However, most of the pickles that we buy has been pasteurized for longer shelf life. 

It's hard for me to stop myself from sharing all the nerd facts about fermentation...from all the books I have read ....did you not notice the halo around me!! 


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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Instant Mango Pickle

My favorite drink is mango lassi, favorite flavored rice - mango rice, favorite dessert - mango kulfi, favorite fruit - mango. OK you get the picture!! If am going to say another word to profess my love for mangoes you are  going to shut down the browser and I would never want that. The "king of fruits" has been around for at least 6,000 years. The mango was a regal fruit in ancient India, kings took pride in their mango orchids. Well if not for an orchid,  I  love the dwarf mango tree at my mother's place in Dehradun. The little mango tree is adorable and right now is full of raw mangoes.  When I was speaking to my mother couple of days ago - she told me that she made the instant pickle from home grown mangoes.... I was tempted to make some myself. This tangy spicy pickle  is irresistible  and it is almost a crime if I did not make some for myself.  No home grown mangoes for me :(( 

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lime Pickle

My aunt and I were shopping at farmers market some years ago, we saw these beautiful green limes.  Lime pickle was on her mind, am so glad it was ..a wonderful gift that I absolutely relish. It is a little more than two years that she made this pickle and it is just perfect, the skin of the lime is not bitter at all, in fact it is salty-tangy and soft but not too soft. For me no Indian meal can be complete without  exotic chutneys  or  and pickles. There are so many variations of  chutneys and pickles that one can make a meal out of it .......count me in for that one :).  

 This is one simple lime pickle   ...perfect with a grand meal or with plain daal or curd rice and it only gets better with age. This is not one of the instant pickles, you need to wait for at least 3-4 weeks before you can start using it. It is definitely worth the wait and did I mention anti oxidant properties :)



 
Make sure the limes do not have any black marks on them, wash and pat dry. There should be no moisture, else it will ruin your pickle. Cut the limes about ( 8-10 if big and about 10-12 if small) into big chunky cubes. Salt liberally and toss to make sure the limes are covered thickly with salt. You could also layer : bottom layer of salt, followed by a layer of lime on it, followed by another layer of salt and so on. Leave for a  few days (8-10). Let the salt do the job, you can speed up the process by keeping the salted limes in the sun. Make sure that the jar you use is sterilized and free of any kind of moisture before you fill it up with the salted limes. You will begin to notice discoloration, don't panic the salt is doing the job of pickling the limes. The salt usually brings out water from the limes, if that is not happening you need to add more salt.

Pickling is a food preservation method that uses the process of marinating it in some form of brine. The method uses the concept of creating lactic acid in a controlled environment, this results in the food being preserved by  fermentation.  The end product has a salty and sour taste that  I love :)

  You can add some green chilies - 8-10 along with the limes to spice up your pickle, salt up the green chillies in the same jar or a different one and then mix them latter. There are a list of things one can add to the lime pickle, almost all the ingredients need to be pickled or marinated before you add in the spices. Green pepper - a handful, they are the unripe green berries before they are dried as black pepper. Mango ginger -2 tbsp finely chopped: I love the mango flavor and the sweet n sour taste. You could Also add Swallow root (makaliberu in Kannada), - 2 tbsp cut into long strips it has a unique aroma and it also acts as a preservative compound for the pickle. 
 After it has marinated well, roast meethi seeds, let it cool and then grind it into a fine powder. Add about 2-3 tbsp of meethi powder along with red chili powder about 10-12 tbsp and mix well into the marinated lime chili mixture. Keep aside for another 2-4 weeks.
After about 2-4 weeks, you can add seasoning : in hot oil add mustard seed let it splatter add asafoetida and you are ready to serve.

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