Thursday, October 26, 2006

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

The inspiration for this came to me during one of my many net trawling sessions. The original recipe can be found here. I added a red pepper and a few unpeeled garlic cloves in the roasting pan with the tomatoes. I did not have fresh basil so we had the soup without the basil, but it would certainly brighten the soup a lot more. So don't skimp out on the basil.



Ingredients:
Israel Tomatoes - 2 lbs, halved
Red Bell Pepper - 1 whole
Garlic Cloves - 6, 3 minced and 3 unpeeled
Rosemary - 1 1/4 tsp, dried
Thyme - 1 1/4 tsp, dried
Crushed Red Pepper - 1 tsp
Lemon Zest - minced, from 1 large lemon
Coarse Sea Salt - 1 tbsp + to taste
Black Pepper - 1 tbsp, coarsely ground
Olive Oil - 4 tbsps
Vegetable Broth - 4 cups, or as required to thin the soup
Fresh Basil - 5 tbsps, chopped (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes (cut side up), one whole bell pepper and three unpeeled cloves of garlic in a large baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle veggies with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until vegetables are brown, crinkly and tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.
2. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins. Remove the charred pepper skin and scrape away the seeds. Remove as much of the tomato skins as possible. Try to do all this in the baking pan so as to reserve all the juices. .
3. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the roasted vegetables, rosemary, thyme, lemon zest and dried crushed red pepper. Using a food processor or a immersion blender process until slightly smooth.
4. Add vegetable broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until soup thickens slightly, about 25 minutes.
5. Remove from heat. Stir in basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper


Lemons



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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lemon Rice

Lemon Rice was one of the many horrors that the Haryanvi cooks at our hostel mess regularly produced in their misguided attempts at South Indian cuisine. It was
so bad that the mere mention of lemon rice would send me stomping out of the mess halls. The rice was yellow, gluey and with no hint of the lemon flavour which gives the dish its name. Luckily in the past few years my relationship with this yellow, mildly tangy rice dish has improved over many servings, at many different tables. There seems to be as many versions as there are cooks, but every one pretty much agrees upon the color (pale yellow from the turmeric) and the presence of some form of nut (peanuts, cashewnuts or both). Here's my version of this dish. The basic recipe came to me by way of Sanjeev Kapoor. But I changed the quantities, added lemon zest to increase the lemony flavour and even threw in a few fistfuls of sprouted moong/mung beans for extra health.

Ingredients:
Basmati Rice - 2 cups

Sprouted Whole Moong - 1 cup
Lemon Juice - 3 tbsps
Lemon Zest - from 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Oil/ghee - 2 tbsps
Asafoetida - a pinch
Red chillies - 2, whole (broken)
Split Urad Dal - 1 tbsp
Split Chana Dal - 1 tbsp
Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Roasted Peanuts - 1/2 cup
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp

Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Scraped Coconut - 1 tbsp

Method:
1. Cook rice in four cups of water until almost done. Drain and keep aside.

2. Heat oil/ghee in a shallow pan. Add a pinch of asafoetida.
3. Add red chillies, split urad dal, chana dal and fenugreek seeds. Cook till dals change colour to light brown.
4. Add peanuts and mustard seeds. As mustard seeds crackle, add curry leaves and turmeric powder.
5. Add sprouted moong dal and lemon zest. Stir-fry for a minute and a half .
6. Add cooked rice, salt and lemon juice. Mix well, cover and cook on low heat for about five minutes.
7. Garnish with scraped coconut and serve hot.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Kaancha Mooger Dal with Lau

After a hectic weekend of partying and wedding festivities our palates and tummies were still dealing with the after effects of over indulgence. We were craving a simple dal and rice dinner. So here's what we made last night.

Ingredients:
Yellow Moong Dal - 1 cup
Lauki/Lau - 1 small, chopped to make about 2-3 cups*
Tomato - 1 small, chopped
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Green Chillies - 3 to 4, slit and deseeded
For tempering:
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 .5 tsp
Dry Red Chillies - 2, broken

Method:
1. Pressure cook the dal, with the vegetables, salt, turmeric and two cups of water. After two whistles, turn off the heat and wait for 5-6 minutes and then release the pressure. The dal and vegetables should be soft to bite but still hold shape.
2. Add green chillies and another cup of water to dal. Adjust seasoning and let it simmer on low heat.
3. In a separate ladle heat the tempering ingredients. When the cumin starts sputtering add to simmering dal. Check seasoning one last time and serve hot with rice.

*At grocery stores I have seen it marked as fuzzy squash, Chinese okra (go figure that!) and sometimes, just sometimes as Indian squash. To me it has always looked and tasted just like lau/lauki/dudhi- that most bland and watery of summer vegetables. It was only sometime last year that a friend explained how different the true Indian lauki is from all these other pretenders. It seems the Indian lauki is the much thick skinned cousin of the fuzzy squash. Oh well!