Archive for February 20, 2007

Cleaning the Dashboard

We had a heat wave today (40 degrees F!) and it’s almost time to think about spring housecleaning. To begin, I’m cleaning and consolidating the “dashboard”
of drafted posts that somehow never made it to completion.

Here are a few things I’ve cooked over the winter.

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Paneer is one of my favorite foods, and I am really bad with self-control when I make it. It’s a treat and there are never any leftovers next day! I was surprised to realise that I had been making paneer long before I discovered blogging. I would curdle some milk and let the whey drip through a couple of coffee filters. Chop that up and mix it into some cooked (frozen) chopped spinach. To this I would add a little tomato and cream, maybe some really pathetic bottled garam masala from Spice Island or some other horrid brand… oh, the shame of it all! I can’t think of it any longer šŸ˜‰

Of course my paneer dishes are much more authentic and delicious now, thanks to many great recipes and tips obtained through the magical world of blogging!

Paneer with Peppers and Onions
inspired by Maheswari’s Kadai Paneer

1 tsp oil or ghee
1 TB ginger-garlic paste
2 green chiles, slit

2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced (any color – I used red)
1 onion, sliced
10-12 baby corns

2 TB tomato puree

1 tsp cumin-coriander powder
1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric

2 tb yogurt mixed with 1/2 c water and 1 tsp cornstarch

homemade paneer from 1 qt milk, cut in chunks
1 tsp kasoori methi
salt to taste

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Heat oil or ghee in a large saute pan, and add the ginger-garlic paste and chiles. Saute a moment, then add the sliced peppers and onions. Cook until softened. Add the baby corn, then the tomato puree and stir to coat well. Add cumin-coriander, kashmiri chili and turmeric powders. Stir well and keep on a low flame.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with the water until dissolved. Add yogurt and mix well. Raise the heat to medium, and when the onion/peppers are bubbling, add the yogurt mixture. Stir well with wooden spoon until the sauce thickens a little.

Add the paneer and kasoori methi, mix everything well and heat through. Add salt to taste, and serve hot. Tasted great with rice and with chappatis. Thanks, Maheswari!

paneer with peppers and onions
paneer with peppers and onions

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Here is a delicious and nutritious dish from fun and talented Inji Pennu, another of my first inspirations. This was the second time I made this dish. Both times I followed her recipe for Green Peas Gravy (In Coconut Milk), but this time I added a little rice toward the end to soak up all that coconut goodness. Thanks Inji, it was delicious!

injiā€™s green peas gravy with coconut milk (andĀ rice!)
inji’s green peas gravy with coconut milk (and rice)

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When I go by the supermarket on Sundays or Mondays, I always peruse the ‘breakdown lane’ (as my aunt calls it). Here is where they place the reduced-price produce, and often great bargains are to be found. One trip yielded this treasure-trove of fancy colored peppers — each and every one perfect, not a thing wrong with them! I had to join the stuffed pepper craze.

beautiful fresh bellĀ peppers
beautiful bell peppers in a riot of colors

This is a mostly-veggie stuffing; light on seasoning to let the sweet flavor of peppers and nutty perfume of brown basmati shine through. You can of course jazz it up with any spices you desire.

Brown Rice Stuffed Peppers
inspired by nidhi’s (award-winning!), coffee’s, and sushma’s varieties

1/2 c brown basmati rice
1 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp salt

2 large bell peppers, any color, that will sit nicely for stuffing

1 tsp oil or ghee
1 healthy TB garlic paste
1 big or 2-3 small green chiles, slit

2 big bell peppers, any color, diced
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/2 tsp turmeric

1 TB besan mixed with 2 TB water

salt and pepper to taste

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Preheat oven to 375F.

Wash the brown rice well, soak it for ten minutes and then drain for 10-15 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil, then add rice. Lower the heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until rice is tender, adding a little more water if necessary.

Meanwhile, wash the stuffing peppers, cut the tops off and remove seeds and ribs. Rinse them out and set aside.

In a large saute pan, heat the oil or ghee and add the garlic paste and chiles. Saute a few minutes, then add the diced peppers, onion, and turmeric. Cook for 10 minutes or so over medium heat, until vegetables are softened but not mushy. Mix the besan with water to a smooth paste, and add to the vegetables. Continue to cook, stirring, until the raw taste of besan is gone.

When the rice is cooked, add it to the vegetables and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stuff the large peppers with the mixture.

Place the stuffed peppers in a baking pan with very little water in the bottom. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until peppers are softened and tops are brown.

Serve plain, or with a spicy tomato chutney on the side.

Thanks Nidhi, Coffee, and Sushma!

veggie-brown rice stuffedĀ peppers
bell peppers stuffed with brown rice and veggies

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Last but certainly not least, I made Sri’s mouthwatering Chole Masala. I still can’t find a dried amla to save me — but I carried on without it and the results were fabulous. I added a few frozen green chana I had hanging around, but otherwise I followed her recipe to the letter. Run don’t walk to Daavat for this one, and thanks, Sri!

sriā€™s dhaba-style choleĀ masala
spicy and tangy – sri’s dhaba-style chole masala

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