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Spicy Indonesian Peanut Soup

For the longest time, soups (and salads for that matter too) were synonymous with diet food, to me.  I never truly enjoyed them and didn’t care much for them.  I could never have them for a meal; I tolerated them enough to have them soups as an appetizer before a big buffet lunch.  I could have never foreseen that I would be making soups regularly at home for dinner and ENJOY eating them.  Oh!  how we all change with time 🙂

When I was perusing the cooking section @ my local library, this book – Love Soup – seemed interesting enough to pick.  I glanced through this book and found quite  a few interesting recipes – some old, some new and some wild.  I have earmarked quite a few of them to try and this was the first one that I made.  If I can make a judgment call on 160 recipes based  on just 1, then this book is a keeper.  There are some recipes that sounds really exotic but you know it won’t work for various reasons and some that sounds exotic and plausible but doesn’t turn out as good.  This one sounds exotic (the soup is named “Indonesian”, for crying out loud 🙂 ), downright practical, comes together in a jiffy and tastes delicious.  So, now tell me, whats not to like about this soup and this book?

I picked this soup out of the scores of others that I had earmarked as I had all the ingredients needed for this soup handy – yes, I am cheap and lazy 🙂  But don’t ask me, why I bought parsnip, for the first time, during my previous grocery run – I have no clue either.  It was there, sitting fresh and pretty in a parsnip-y way and I couldn’t resist buying it.  Most often, I buy things out of a whim and scurry around for a recipe to use them but this time somehow, everything came together ever so correctly.

Not sure how many of you out there are true recipe followers but I am not.  Almost always, I cannot stay 100% true to a recipe, I always add a little something of my own to it, and in a weird way, feel that it completes my cooking experience.  The little twist that I added to the recipe makes it mine and personal.  This recipe has my twist as well and I have made a note of it, so that you can omit it, if you are not upto it.

Spicy Indonesian Peanut Soup

1 Parsnip – peeled & cubed
2 Sweet potato – peeled & cubed
1 Carrot – peeled & cubed
1/2 radish – peeled & cubed (this is my addition, omit it if you are not a radish fan)
1 onion – chopped finely
4-5 Garlic cloves – chopped finely
3-4″ ginger piece – chopped finely
2 green chillies
1 Tbsp – Tamarind paste
1 tsp coriander-cumin-red chillies powder (original recipe called for curry powder, and I don’t use this, just like most Indians)
A handful of curry leaves (original recipe called for coriander, since I didn’t have it @ home, substituted with curry leaves)
2 tsp – Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp – Lemon Juice

In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients except peanut butter & lemon juice, add sufficient quantity of water, close the lid and let it cook for about 30 mins.  Alternatively, you can pressure cook this too.  (Note:  as per the original recipe, you have to boil the vegetables & saute onion, garlic, ginger, tamarind & the curry powder and then add the sauteed mixture to the vegetables.  I just boiled everything together so I can make it in a single pot.)

Once the veggies are fork tender, blend them well, preferably using a hand-blender.

Now add the peanut butter & lemon juice and let it simmer for about 5-10 mins. Believe it or not, that’s it and the soup is ready to devour!

Optionally, you can toast some peanuts and use it for garnishing the soup.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on November 15, 2010 in Cooking, One-pot Dish, Soup

 

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Fall Soup

We are well into November and there is no doubt that Fall has arrived unlike the hide-and-seek that Summer played, at least in this part of the world. The evenings are dark and gloomy, especially so after the time change. It is so cold, even inside the house, that I don’t feel like spending long hours in the kitchen to cook. Time for one pot dishes (are you listening?) and more specifically, soups. Nothing feels more comfortable than snuggling over a warm bowl of soup and to make it more luxurious, some garlic bread.

Fall is the season for squashes and melon, and my local produce store has an abundance of these. These beauties look very tempting; it takes a lot of self-control to not splurge and buy lot more than the two of us can possibly consume. Over the years, I have devised a system whereby I don’t buy more than one variety of squash every week, lest I end up wasting them. Anyway, it was time to buy butternut squash last week, which, to me, is easily the best among equals. They have a vibrant orange color with a deep nutty, sweet taste that is amplified when roasted. I have made pasta with these occasionally but the soups are easily the best.

Roasted Butternut Squash – Apple Soup

1/2 Butter nut squash (cut vertically)
1 Apple – cored and cubed
1/2 Onion – chopped coarsely
1 Tomato – quartered
2 Green Chillies – split length-wise
1/2 cup Black (kala) Channa – soaked for about 8 hrs
Seeds from 1 Pomegranate
1 Tbsp Almond Butter
1 Tsp Tamarind paste
1 Tsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt (more or less, based on your taste buds)
1 Tbsp – roasted and powedered coriander, cumin & redchillies
2 Tsp Oil

Chop the butternut squash into 4 big pieces, brush them with oil and roast them till they are fork-tender. Scoop the roasted squash using a spoon, while leaving the skin intact. Alternatively, you can peel the skin before roasting the squash.

In a thick-bottomed vessel or a cast iron pot, add a tsp of oil, followed by onion, tomato, green chillies, apple and salt; close the lid and let it sweat for a while.

After about 10 minutes, add the roasted squash, kala channa, tamarind and the coriander-cumin-red chilly powder. Let this cook for another 10-15 minutes. Do *not* add any water.

Add a cup of water and puree this concoction either in a blender or using a hand-held blender. Add the almond butter and pomegrante seeds, not before saving a couple of spoonfuls for garnishing, and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Ladle it into soup bowls, garnish with the reserved seeds and serve. Perfect meal for Fall evenings.

For those of you who are wondering at the unconventional list of ingredients: I did not follow any recipe for this soup, that I made yesterday and improvised as I went along. I craved for something that is spicy but sweet, nutty and tangy, which resulted in this soup. So, be creative and feel free to add or omit ingredients that you prefer (or not) and believe me, you will not go wrong 🙂

More Thursday Challenge pictures.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on November 10, 2010 in Cooking, General, Soup

 

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Paucity makes the heart grow fonder

Ah! Curry leaves!  I grew up in an independent house(single-family home for those in the U.S.) in Chennai and where we lived coconut & mango trees are common sight.  And so was it in our house. In addition, the house also has a curry tree – yes it is a tree, over 9 feet tall and thriving.  We picked the leaves when we needed it – for tempering (thalippu) or thogayal –  and it couldn’t have gotten fresher than that.  May be it was the easy availability or abundance or the ignorance of youth, I never quite liked these greenies.  I never understood why the elders went gaga over its flavor and was also not taken in by its medicinal value.  The only use (thanks to my mom!) I had for these leaves was when they were boiled with good old coconut oil and massaged onto my hair.  The first time I missed (or rather longed) for these leaves where when I couldn’t find them.  Yes, we always miss what we can’t have and when something gets harder to get, fonder does our heart grow. Such is human nature, I guess!

When SacramentoSpice posted her curry leaf chicken recipe (yes, you read that right!) and linked Manisha’s version, I remembered that I had bookmarked Manisha’s Kadipatta Chicken a while back.  I wanted to try a vegetarian version of this and was toying with the idea of doing it with either cauliflower or potato (paneer would work well too, now that I think of it).  When a dear friend gave me a ziploc full of curry leaves, picked fresh from her parents’ home, the timing could not have been more perfect 🙂  My recipe is very close to Manisha’s version, but am posting it again to record the minor tweaks that I did. Thanks, Manisha! Onto the Kariveppilai potato-cauliflower fry (I couldn’t make up mind I decided to use both potato & cauliflower)!

Spices

1 Tsp oil
1 Tsp black pepper
1 Tsp cinnamon powder
5 cloves
2 red chillies

1 cup Curry leaves, washed & dried
1 Tbsp Tamarind Paste (1/2 golf ball sized piece, if you are using fresh)
1 Tsp turmeric powder
1 onion, chopped fine
1 small tomato, quartered
1/2 cauliflower – chopped into florets
2 medium sized potatos – cubed into 1″ pieces
1 Tsp salt

Saute the spices in a tsp of oil till they are well roasted but not burnt in a saute pan (or kadai). Add the kariveppilai to the spice mixture and saute till the leaves are fried well. Add the chopped onion, quartered tomato and salt, wait for the onion to become translucent.

Let it cool and grind it to a paste along with the tamarind. (Tip: If you want, you can stop right at this stage and use this is a chutney / thogayal to mix with rice or use as a side dish to idli / dosai. If you want to attain kariveppilai nirvana, continue).

Add the cauliflower – potato mixture to the same pot (to keep shy happy), close it with a lid and cook till the veggies are semi-tender.

At this point, add the ground paste and cook till the veggies are fork-tender.  If you want a watery dish, you can add a cup of water at this stage.  But if you are like me and prefer a dry dish, hold the water.

This is a perfect side dish with rice & dhal or with rotis.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2010 in Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking

 

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Three ways to Chutney heaven

Chutneys are the Indian equivalent of dips or spreads.  Usually, it contains one main ingredient ground with complimenting spices. There are a few blueprints for making chutneys and once you know this, you can whip up any kind of chutney, by simply switching the main component with something else that you like. In this post, I am going to write about 3 basic ways to make chutney. Once you master these 3 ways, you can replace the methi (Fenugreek) leaves with chayote squash peels, or coriander leaves with mint or any other herb and so on. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2010 in General

 

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Bisi Bele Bath

Now that the first step in making bisi bele bath has been completed successfully, the next step is to prepare the rice. With little preparation ahead of time, making bisi bele bath can really become a breeze. I usually have cooked rice and toor dhal in my fridge, which saves me a lot of time on weekdays, when we constantly are running short of time.

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Posted by on March 16, 2010 in Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking

 

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Garlicky Peppery Delicious… Rasam

The weather has definitely gone cold here and I can feel Winter fast approaching. Well, with the way temperatures have gone south, it already feels like Winter. These days, it is almost like we have only 2 seasons these days – summer and winter, whatever happened to spring and fall, I wonder! All I want to do these days is to snuggle on the couch with a throw thrown over me and vegetate like a couch potato. For a Wintery day, what is better than having lip-smacking good, peppery rasam!

Rasam is a light lentil-tamarind-tomato based South Indian dish that can be eaten as is like a soup or with rice accompanied with pappadum or a dry veggie side-dish. Rasam is usually a sour dish and its sourness mainly comes from tomato with a little help from tamarind or lemon. Rasam is the go-to dish when you are under a bout of cold or fever, as it is not as lentil-heavy as sambhar and very soothing for the throat.

Pepper Rasam

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Posted by on November 5, 2008 in Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking

 

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Baked rasam soup

I love reading books. Period. There used to be a time when I would finish a book start to finish in one-go and couldn’t wait to finish to start the next one. These days my reading habit (as well as other personal traits) has changed, and I seem to be reading two and sometimes even three books at a time. It is a great wonder that all these books don’t become one huge mish-mash in my head 🙂

Cooking is my passion and one of the reasons why this blog exists. When I heard about this blog event, I knew I could not give it a miss. The book of the month was Serving Crazy with Curry by Amulya Malladi; the fact that I was reading the book when the event got announced was an amazing coincidence. I picked up this book from the library after hearing about this book from a dear friend of mine.

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Posted by on May 31, 2008 in Books, Cooking, Desi

 

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