Tag Archives: Miscellanous

Don’t throw that skin away

There are some vegetables out there that are refreshing, tasty and exude flavors both inside and outside. You peel and chop them, toss them in your cooking and the final product smells and tastes delicious. The vegetable stands out among the rest of the ingredients. You bite into it and you feel the warmth of it.

While there are many such vegetables, the one I am talking about here is bottle gourd (aka long melon or oko squash). It is a versatile vegetable, one that has many uses in cooking. Boil, season and sprinkle some coconut or sesame powder or mustard powder. Cook in milk with some sugar and season. Toss in dal or cook in curd or green leafy vegetable or make sweet curry like stew with mixed vegetables and many more.

Growing up I watched my mother do this often. It’s interesting how it all comes back to you when you start to cook. Most of my South Indian cooking is based on what I watched my mother do. So patiently peeling this, chopping that and especially the laborious task of chopping and making pickles, plucking leaves from stalks of sorrel leaves and so much more. All that seemed so cumbersome and difficult then. But the end product always delicious. Cooking was a labor of love for my mother. But most of her recipes are etched in her brain. Now I cling to those  memories of when I watched her cook, as I try to cook as close to the tastes and flavors I can remember.

Each time I cook bottle gourd I end up making three different dishes. I peel and chop the bottle gourd into 1-2in squares and toss them into samhbhar, sweet pulusu (curry like stew) or challa pulusu (yogurt based stew). I chop it into smaller pieces and cook with yellow gram (pesara pappu) or with coconut or sesame. And those nice, green skin that I peel? Well don’t throw them out yet.  I wash and dry them out in paper towels and make chutney with it.  Here’s how I make mine based on the recollection I have of how my mother makes it:

Ingredients:
Peel of 1 bottle gourd
1 tsp tamarind paste
a little jaggery or sugar
salt to taste
1 jalapeno (optional)
cilantro

Seasoning:
4-6 red chili
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black gram (urad dal)
pinch of turmeric
pinch of asafoetida
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Heat one table spoon oil in a pan and fry the seasoning ingredients till lightly brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add more oil. Add the peeled bottle gourd skin and salt and fry in medium low flame till cooked and turns slightly brownish. Remove from pan and transfer to a blender. Add the fried whole red chilli, tamarind and jaggery. Add jalapeno and cilantro and blend with a little water to a smooth paste.

Transfer from blender to a bowl and mix the rest of the seasoning ingredients. Stays upto a week or 10 days in the refrigerator. Can be used as side with Roti or eaten with rice.

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Celebrate end of summer with Mango

Anything with mango always attracts me. Coming from a tropical country where mango is a native fruit and vegetable, I crave to eat mango especially raw, green, and sour mango.

Mango season usually starts in early spring or the start of summer in  March in tropical climates. Or maybe even earlier. In tropical climates, mango trees start to flower in January-February and are in full bloom. Baby mangoes can start appearing as early as February and start to mature in early spring. It is a hectic time when people buy or harvest raw green mango and transform it to the different pickles while relishing the raw vegetable in dal, chutney and other forms.

Summer is also the time the fruit is found in abundance: juicy fruit enjoyed after a meal, best eaten by sucking the juice directly from the fruit or sturdier variety sliced into pieces and enjoyed with curd rice.

Mango has many uses:

  • baby mangoes are sliced and used in pickles
  • in vegetable form, raw green mango is used in pickles, in dal, in rice and other recipies.
  • dried mango powder is used as spice in cooking
  • dried sliced mango is preserved to be used in dal during off season
  • as a fruit it is available as different varieties
    • juicy and soft and enjoyed by sucking the jucies
    • sturdy varieties peeled and sliced and enjoyed usually with curd rice or stand alone

Mango Preserves

Mango is also preserved in different forms for use during the rest of the year. Raw green mango is sliced and dried in the sun so it can be used in dal in the off season or is also dried and powdered  (Amchur) is available for use as a spice in recipes that need a tangy flavor. Dried mango pulp is sweetened and dried to be relished as a snack, or made into jam or used in mango ice cream or simply sliced and preserved in it’s own juices that can be used in smoothies, lassies or fruit salads.

Mango is versatile and delicious in its numerous forms. Enjoy the end of summer with one of these recipes!

Fresh Mango recipes:

Mango Vermicelli
Mango Dal
Mango Pickle
Mango Gazpacho
Mango Salsa
Mango Banana Muffin
Mango Tea Bread
Mango Pie or Mango Ice Cream Pie
Mango Lassi
Mango Salad

Eggplant Caviar

Ingredients:

2 round-shaped eggplants (or 5 elongated shaped eggplants)
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1 tomato, remove seeds and juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Seasonings:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp black pepper
some salt

Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F). Using a fork, poke holes into the entire eggplant, then place the eggplant in a baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool, then scoop out the pulp (or remove the peels).

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir-fry until the onion is golden brown. Put all ingredients and seasonings into a blender, and blend until mixture is smooth, then refrigerate.

May be used for sandwiches, spread on toast, or mixed with salad.

It is delicious and good to serve anytime of the year.
(Another recipe from Gouthami)