Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts

Aug 28, 2017

Bibi's Tomato and Bell Pepper Chutney

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Get some tasty vegetables into your diet with this South Indian inspired bell pepper and tomato chutney! A savory vegan recipe that's so easy to make and a great way to enjoy Summer's bountiful produce. Pairs well with any rice or roti based meal and makes a great tortilla chip dip!

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We're still enjoying tomatoes from our garden here in Nepal. Vegetables usually get expensive during the Monsoon season so I planted tomatoes, chili peppers, bell peppers, and eggplant in the sheltered areas of our yard. Above you see a day's harvest from our sixteen tomato plants, about a kilogram or two full pounds. You must pick tomatoes when they're not quite ripe here as they'll ripen and rot quickly in the heat and humidity of the Monsoon weather.

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Here's about a day's harvest of bell peppers from our six bell pepper plants. Bell peppers are called capsicums or Shimla mirch in India and Nepal. What to do with all this vegetable largesse? Well, I made this recipe up! There aren't a lot of Indian or Nepali recipes for bell peppers aside from jalfrezi or tossing them into a veg omelet so I thought I'd try putting them into a South Indian inspired cooked chutney. And it worked beautifully! Now most South Indian chutneys require you to fry the vegetables first, cool them, grind them, and then fry the ground mixture again with spices. This double frying of vegetables goes on in a lot of Indian recipes. I'm not a fat-o-phobe nor a grease-o-phobe. But sometimes I think the goal of these Indian techniques is to get every pot in the kitchen dirty or to get as much grease flying around as possible! I thought about steaming the vegetables first but that's yet more gadgetry to clean. Recently, I suffered through watched a Jamie Oliver show where he made a tomato chutney by simmering the vegetables with a little water first and then frying the resulting mixture.

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 SHABASH! (wonderful!) So I just combined the vegetables with a little water and spices in a pot and let them simmer until tender on the back burner while I cooked the rest of the day's meal. Then I let the mixture cool, ground it in the mixie, and then fried it to gorgeous glossiness. The result was fantastic! You probably do use a few less tablespoons of oil too. The spices I used were Kashmiri mirch, turmeric, cumin seeds, and black mustard seeds. Kashmiri mirch gives this condiment a rich red chili flavor with just a hint of heat. If you'd like more heat try using cayenne powder/degi mirch. If you'd like less heat try a mild and smoky paprika powder. Cumin seeds add their earthy warmth also. Turmeric is in there for it's bright color and antioxidants. Black mustard seeds add a bit of nutty flavor and are traditionally used in many South Indian cooked chutneys. If you wanted to make this even more South Indian you could fry some fresh curry leaves in the oil with the mustard seeds. Anyway you choose to spice it this recipe cooks up to a delicious, flavorful, fresh, and healthy chutney!

Ingredients:
7 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
8 cloves of garlic/lahsun or 2&1/2 TBS garlic paste
1 large bell pepper/capsicum, roughly chopped
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1/2 tsp paprika)
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
3/4 C water
2 TBS cooking oil of choice
1 tsp black mustard seeds/rai
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Combine tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, Kashmiri mirch, cumin seeds, turmeric, 1/2 C water and 1 tsp salt in a deep pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cover and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

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2) Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool for about 15 to 20 minutes.

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3) Transfer the contents of the pan to a mixie or blender and grind the mixture to a paste.

bell pepper and tomato chutney, recipe, south indian, capsicum, tomato, fried, garlic, spicy, easy, chutney, condiment, vegan, vegetarian, indian, simple,

bell pepper and tomato chutney, recipe, south indian, capsicum, tomato, fried, garlic, spicy, easy, chutney, condiment, vegan, vegetarian, indian, simple,

4) Heat the cooking oil in the same pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add ground tomato mixture. (Be careful when adding the tomato mixture to the hot oil as it may splatter.)

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5) Fry mixture over low/medium heat for 15–20 minutes until it becomes a thick paste and separates from the oil. Salt to taste and allow chutney to cool a little before serving. This chutney will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days

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Helpful hints:
Kashmiri mirch gives this condiment a rich red chili flavor with just a hint of heat. If you'd like more heat try using cayenne powder/degi mirch. If you'd like less heat try a smoky paprika powder.

If you wanted to make this even more South Indian you could fry some fresh curry leaves in the oil with the mustard seeds.

Jul 24, 2017

Hot & Spicy Hyderabadi Tomato Chutney

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From Hyderabad comes this hot, garlicky, smoky, and spicy tomato chutney! Hyderabadi cuisine is known for it's lavish use of spices and love of red chilis. In this easy recipe tomatoes are simmered with roasted garlic, red chili, cumin, mustard, ginger, and fenugreek to caramelized perfection. A tasty vegan and vegetarian addition to any rice or roti based meal or a zesty new dip for tortilla chips. 

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It's that time of the year again when tomatoes are cheap and a'plenty! A cooked tomato chutney is a great way to enjoy Summer's vegetable largesse. This recipe takes about eight tomatoes and cooks down to a little less than a cup of chutney. My Kashmiri contingency here won't touch a raw tomato but when fried into a sauce or chutney they love'em! In fact, a batch of this relish lasts only a day at our house. And that's a lot of tomatoes!!! This recipe is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking (1981). I bought this book from a secondhand bookstore yonks ago in San Francisco and it was fairly decrepit then. Anywho, it has 400 recipes from all over Asia that are all darned good and are suited to what you could probably find in supermarkets in the early 80's. (Nothing terribly exotic.)


Over time I have changed a few things in the recipe in accordance with my family's tastes. The original recipe called for peeling and seeding the tomatoes. We all know Bibi isn't going to do that! Didn't Ms Jaffrey's mom tell her that's were all the vitamins are? If you are the sort who seeds and peels tomatoes Ms Jaffrey also suggests canned tomatoes can be used in this recipe instead of fresh. (I would not dare to try that in our house- but it seems like it would work.) My Kashmiri clan loves their Kashmiri mirch so I've used that instead of the cayenne powder/degi mirch in the original recipe too. Feel free to adjust the amounts of red chilis in both dried and powdered form to suit your tolerance for heat. Other than that the ingredients are pretty much as in the original recipe. Are you wondering why Ms Jaffrey uses both garlic cloves and garlic paste? You'll notice the garlic cloves are fried until golden brown while the garlic paste is added later with the tomatoes. This gives both forms of garlic a different taste. This is the typical layering of flavors that makes Indian cuisine so deliciously complex. Frying the dried chilis until blackened lends the chutney a smoky flavor that's quite nice and very Hyderabadi too. I do prefer to run the chutney through the mixie after cooking and cooling. Ms Jaffrey does not advise this but the dried chilis and garlic cloves don't always break down into small pieces during cooking. I fear someone eating the chutney might get a big unpleasant bite of garlic or dried chili. Yikes! So I blitz the fried mixture in the mixie when cool to a lovely smooth texture. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 TBS cooking oil
4 garlic/lahsun cloves, peeled and minced
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard/rai seeds
1/4 tsp  fenugreek/methi seeds
2-3 whole dried hot chili peppers (use less for less heat
1 tsp salt, or to taste
Mix together in a bowl:
2 C roughly chopped tomatoes, (canned tomatoes will work for this recipe too)
1 tsp ginger/adrak paste
1 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/4 to 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder/mirch (or 1/2 tsp cayenne/degi plus 1/2 tsp paprika powder)

Here's what to do:
1) Mix the tomatoes, ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, and Kashmiri mirch in a bowl and mix. Set aside.

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2) Heat the oil and one teaspoonful salt in a heavy skillet over medium for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, stir and fry until lightly brown. Add the cumin, mustard, and fenugreek. Let sizzle for a couple seconds and add the dried chili peppers. They should puff up and darken.

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3) Add the tomato mixture to the spices in the hot oil. (Be careful as it could splatter when it hits the hot oil). Stir and cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced and oil separates from the mixture. (If mixture begins to stick or scorch reduce heat and add 1/4 cup water- but keep stirring!) Use a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes and garlic cloves into a paste.

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hot and spicy hyderabadi tomato chutney, recipe, tomatoes, chutney, relish, spicy, chili, easy, Indian, vegetarian, vegan, veg, simple, hot, garlic, Madhur Jaffrey,

4) The chutney is cooked when the oil separates from the mixture and rises to the top. Salt to taste. You should have about 3/4 cup of chutney. If your chutney isn't as smooth as you prefer allow the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes and run it through a mixie or blender. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature. Keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Helpful Hints:
When salting chutneys to eat with rice and or rotis you'll want to add just a little more salt than you think you should. Like maybe 5% more. Remember that rice and rotis are generally served unsalted and chutneys or relishes served with them provide the salt that makes them tasty.

Ladies Sharing Wine, India, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad
Early 18th century Drawings; watercolors, ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. 

Jun 1, 2017

Mexican Chocolate Snowballs

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These Mexican chocolate snowballs are a spicy twist on an old favorite with almonds, chocolate, cinnamon, and a pinch of chili powder. Buttery, delicately spiced, and rich with chocolate flavor this egg free recipe can easily be made vegan too. A simple to make treat to serve on Cinco de Mayo or any holiday! 

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I love the way the Mexicans spice their chocolate with a little cinnamon and a hint of chili. So when I saw this recipe on Allrecipes a few weeks ago I had to make it. It was absolutely delicious! I did make a few changes though. The original recipe called for ancho chili powder, a little less sugar, and dark chocolate chips. I didn't have ancho chili powder so I used degi mirch or cayenne powder. Ancho chili powder has a bit less heat than cayenne and a slight fruity flavor, but the chili flavor in these cookies is so subtle I didn't find it made a difference. If you can't handle any sort of chili heat I'd substitute paprika for the chili powder or simply leave it out. I bumped the sugar up to the amount I use in all my snowball cookies. Dark chocolate chips were recommended for use in this recipe. Unfortunately, I did not have dark chocolate chips so I used milk chocolate chips. Although these cookies were delicious with the milk chocolate and regular cocoa powder I used, I think using dark chocolate chips and dark cocoa powder would make them even more delicious! I think the next time I make these I'll grind up a dark chocolate bar and use it in place of the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. To make this recipe vegan-friendly just substitute a good quality vegetable margarine or shortening for he butter. Off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 C butter, softened (use margarine or vegetable shortening to make these vegan)
3⁄4 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp cayenne powder/degi mirch or Kashmiri mirch (for less heat use paprika)
1⁄4 tsp salt
2 C all-purpose flour
2⁄3 C toasted almonds, finely chopped (optional)
1⁄3 cup dark chocolate chips
To roll cookies in after baking: 
1/2C powdered sugar
1 TBS cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon

Here's what to do:
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1) In a large mixing bowl beat together butter,  powdered sugar, vanilla,  cocoa powder,  cinnamon, chili powder, and salt until creamy and well combined.

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2) Add flour, almonds and chocolate chips to butter mixture. Continue to mix. Dough will be crumbly at first but after about 2 minutes it should pull together and stick to itself. When dough forms a large ball and sticks to itself it's ready. Chill dough covered with cling film in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

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3) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/165C. Form tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place balls of dough on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Bake cookies for about 18-25 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom being careful not to over bake. Cookies will harden as they cool.
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4) In a large shallow bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until combined.

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5) Cool cookies about 5-7 minutes then roll in sugar mixture while still warm. Cool completely on wire rack then roll cookies in sugar mixture again if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Helpful Hints: 
Chilling the dough is important as it allows the flavors of the chocolate and spices to develop as well as making the cookies easier to shape.

Keeping the dough wrapped in in a plastic bag or cling film while chilling prevents it from drying out and absorbing other flavors from the fridge.

Substitute a good quality margarine or vegetable shortening for the butter to make these cookies vegan.

May 15, 2017

Mexican Style Beans (Frijoles)

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Beans are a staple of Mexican cuisine and a favorite element in so many Mexican dishes. This classic recipe for frijoles is easy to make, versatile, vegan, and healthy. Enjoy these beans with warm tortillas, as a filling for burritos, or with rice and rotis as my Indian family does!


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Pinto beans are the most popular bean in the United States and northwestern Mexico. Pinto means speckled or spotted referring to the bean's mottled skin which becomes uniform when cooked. When properly prepared pinto beans have a deliciously creamy texture, mild flavor, and an ability to absorb flavors well. I'm using simi beans which are a local favorite here in Nepal. As you can see in the above photo simi beans are a bit rosier in hue than pinto beans, but their flavor and texture is quite similar.

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A Latina friend in my native California taught me to make these Mexican-style beans or frijoles. Each family has their own unique way of preparing beans with differences in bean variety, the type of pot used, specific seasonings, and method of cooking. Traditionally, an earthenware pot called an olla was used to cook beans. As you can see in the above photo an olla is shaped a lot like the handi used in Indian cooking and serves much the same purpose. I have never seen an olla in use to cook beans in any kitchen Mexican or otherwise. The most common vessel I've seen used to cook beans in both Spanish-speaking and Okie communities is a large heavy-duty aluminum stockpot begotten at the Kmart or the local ACE hardware store. I use my Indian-style pressure cooker to save time.

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I have often read that lard or manteca is the most authentic fat to use in Mexican cooking. In the town where I was raised the cooking fat of choice for Mexican-American families and most other ethnic groups was Crisco. The famed digestible vegetable shortening or manteca vegetal was used for tortillas and tamales as well as pie crusts and fried chicken. I'm not from Butcher Holler but as Loretta Lynn said in the commercial,
"Crisco will do you proud every time." 

Lard was probably the preferred fat before World War II. Possibly the only place to find lard in the 70's and 80's was at a carnicería or Mexican butcher. I've heard lard is making a comeback though. Choose your favorite cooking oil for this recipe. The preferred chilis for Mexican cooking in California are Serranos and their milder cousins, Jalapeños. Spanish-style yellow onions are used exclusively in Mexican cuisine. To soak the beans or not is another choice. Soaking the beans overnight will save you cooking time. I never saw beans soaked in my little community though so I don't soak either. I do use a pressure cooker which does cut down cooking time to about half. My Indian family loves these with rice but you could certainly enjoy them in a more traditional manner atop a tostada, alongside warm tortillas, or as a filling for burritos. Or try them topped with a little queso fresco, chopped tomatoes, and a sprinkle of cilantro as a hearty soup! Off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 C dry pinto beans (or dry simi beans)
1-2 TBS cooking oil (scant amount to cover bottom of pot)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 TBS garlic paste or 3 minced garlic cloves
1-3 Jalapeño or Serrano chilis or any green chili you prefer (omit for less heat)
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Sort through dried beans and remove pebbles. Rinse the beans in water in a colander and set aside. Heat oil in a large stock pot or pressure cooker and fry the onion until it softens.

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 2) When onion begins to turn translucent add garlic, chilis, and black pepper to frying onion. Fry for about 2 minutes or until chilis begin to blister and garlic loses it's raw smell. Do not brown the onions!

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3) Add the rinsed beans, 2 teaspoons salt, and enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches to the pot or pressure cooker. If using stock pot: bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Check on the pot every 15 minutes to make sure there's enough water, add more water from time to time as necessary. Make sure to keep adding water so the pot does not dry out. If using pressure cooker: seal lid on pressure cooker and allow to steam until beans are tender. This takes about 40 to 50 minutes in my Indian-style pressure cooker.

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4) The beans are ready when cooked so soft you can press them through your fingers and skins slip off easily. (Cooking time depends on the age and quality of beans, drier ones will require a longer simmering time.) Traditionally the beans are left a bit soupy so you can dip your tortilla in them or mash them to make frijoles refritos. Salt to taste and retrieve chilis before serving. Serve with warm tortillas or rice and rotis like we eat them. Once cooled the beans will keep for up to one week refrigerator in an airtight container.

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Helpful Hints:
You could certainly use other sorts of beans in this recipe such as black beans, kidney beans, Peruano, Mayocoba, Santa Maria, or Flor de Mayo.

And to all moms out there:


Including moms of furry babies,



Or not so furry babies, 
HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY!!!

May 5, 2017

Fresh Mex Fire Roasted Salsa

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Deliciously fresh and so simple to make, this fire roasted salsa is my favorite! Vibrant with summertime vegetables and bold smoky flavor this recipe is healthy and vegan too. This is the typical salsa you'll find served in Mexican-style restaurants across the US. It's not just a tasty dipping sauce for tortilla chips though, try it atop steaks, scrambled eggs, or even with rice and rotis!

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This recipe does resemble the salsa served at a famous Mexican-style American restaurant chain whose claim to fame is fresh ingredients. In fact, you could even call this recipe "Fresh Mex" as their slogan states. I had a friend who worked at the original location of that restaurant chain in Alameda, California the mid-80's. She learned how to make their famous salsa and taught me how too. She told me she used to make 10 gallons of this famed dipping sauce daily at the restaurant So we had to scale the recipe down a bit and here it is! Now if I could only find decent tortilla chips here I'd be deliriously happy! But seriously, I miss Mexican food and the Californicated version of it a lot. They have the American chain Chili's in Delhi but it is horrid. As in soggy tortilla chips out of a bag, jarred salsa, and mashed kidney beans for frijoles awful.

A certain restaurant that shall remain nameless.....

So when tomatoes get ridiculously cheap or all turn ripe in my garden at once I whip up some of this yummy salsa! I can eat this stuff straight up I love it so much. Charring the vegetables really adds complexity and depth of flavor to the salsa. I char the vegetables on the gas burners of my stove but you can use a cast iron skillet also. Choose tomatoes that are really ripe and a little bigger than a ping pong ball so they'll cook just about through. Jalapeno and serrano peppers are the commonest chilis used in the American southwest and northwestern Mexico. Serranos are the hotter chili and jalapenos are milder and fleshier. Serranos are also closest in flavor to the green chilis used in most Indian cuisines too. Of course this salsa tastes great atop traditional Mexican foods like tacos, tostadas, and burritos. But give this a try with your scrambled eggs at breakfast, with a grilled chicken breast or steak, or even as a zippy chutney alongside any rice or roti based meal! Off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
8-10 medium sized tomatoes
5-6 green chilis (for less heat use half of a small bell pepper)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, peeled and sliced in half
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS oil (I use olive oil)
1 TBS white vinegar or the juice of 2 limes
2 TBS cilantro, chopped roughly
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Using tongs char the chilis, tomatoes, garlic cloves, and onions thoroughly over a gas flame. Make sure vegetables are blistered and slightly softened. If you don't have a gas burner: heat a cast iron skillet until smoking hot. Drizzle tomatoes, chilis, garlic cloves, and onion with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Char all vegetables in hot skillet.

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 2) Set aside all charred vegetables and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Remove stems from chilis and butts from tomatoes.

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3) Place cooled tomatoes, chilis, garlic, onion, ground black pepper, oil, vinegar or lime juice, cilantro, and 2 teaspoons salt in a blender, mixie, or food processor. Do not peel the charred bits off. Pulse until smooth.

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4) Salt to taste and keep in an airtight container until ready to serve. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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Helpful Hint:
This recipe make a great salsa even if you don't char the vegetables! Just pop them in the blender and blitz and you're good to go!


HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!!!
The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. I am a native Californian and so I'm going to be celebrating Mexican-American culture on this blog by posting Mexican-style recipes I've learned over the years throughout May. Plus, I really love Mexican food ;)

Hasta la vista, baby!

Bibi

Apr 5, 2017

Nepali Style Okra (Bhindi Tareko)

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Tantalize your tastebuds with this simple spicy okra dish from Nepal! Sliced okra is first flash-fried to banish any trace of slime. The pods are rendered crisp, delightfully chewy, and infused with the warmth of cumin, coriander, and chilis. Try this quick and easy vegan recipe to get a healthy serving of vegetables with any meal. 

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Nepalis do a lot of simple stir-frys like this. Be it potatoes, lab lab beans, or even chayote. If you see tareko on the menu at any casual eatery in Nepal you can be sure it will be a lightly spiced, fresh, and tasty vegetable side prepared this way. My maid showed me how to make this bhindi tareko or fried okra recipe that she makes quite often at home. It's the easiest, fastest, and most delicious okra dish that even my mutton-crazed Kashmiri family loves. Since this dish has a crisp and chewy texture it's a great way to use those okra pods that are a little past the petite and tender stage and are a bit large and fibrous. We enjoy this as a side dish with rice or rotis. If you're doing the low-carb thing I could see this as a delicious accompaniment to a garam masala spiced grilled chicken breast.

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To minimize the dreaded slime that can accompany okra dishes it is advised that the pods be completely dry before slicing. I do this by rinsing them vigorously in a colander and then setting them out in full sun in the backyard to dry outside for at least two hours. It seems to help if the okra gets a little wilty before cutting too. Frying the sliced okra in salted and smoking hot oil really gets rid of any residual stickiness. After about ten minutes of frying any and all slime is absolutely gone. Do not cover the okra while cooking as steam seems to perpetuate sliminess also. Using a shallow, wide pan like a skillet so that the okra can be spread in a single layer help to achieve the crispy edges and aid in slime reduction too. Utilizing a pan with a non-stick finish will allow you to use considerably less oil if desired also. That's all the okra cooking tips I've learned over the years so now it's off to the recipe!

Ingredients:
1/2kg/1lb okra, tops and tails removed and sliced into scant half inch rounds
3 TBS cooking oil (or just enough to cover the bottom of your cooking vessel)
2-3 dry red chilis/lal mirch broken in half (omit for less heat)
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
2 tsp ginger/adrakh paste
2 tsp ground cumin/jeera
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do-
1) Heat oil in skillet or kadhai with one teaspoon salt for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and broken red chilis and fry for half a minute.

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2) Add chopped okra and stir well to coat all pieces with oil. Allow to fry for 5 minutes uncovered.

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3) Add 1 teaspoon salt, garlic paste, ginger paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, and turmeric to frying okra and stir well.

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4) Fry for 5-7 minutes more or until the okra becomes crisp. (Don't worry if the okra seems a bit slimy, after about 10 minutes of frying the slime completely disappears.) Salt to taste and serve as an accompaniment to rice or rotis.
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Helpful Hints:
You might wish to retrieve the dried red chilis from the dish right before serving. This will minimize the risk of anyone biting into a random fiery hot bit of chili while enjoying their okra. Nepalis and Kashmiris would not remove the chili bits before serving but might toss them aside on their plate when served.
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