“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
‘Go seasonal’, I can almost hear her saying this. Her words ring every time I’m in a market. My grandmum always bought produce which was in season and available in plenty. She never went looking for stuff that was ‘there when it should not be’.
For one they are grown naturally, not adulterated or processed. Hence they are more nutritious, less expensive and of course simply yummy!
Now, winters being my most favorite season, comes armed with a host of gifts. Fresh colorful fruits and vegetables hound the market. The wares sit gleaming, uninhibited and inviting in all their natural glory. I usually go mental in times like these. Making it a point to try most of the produce finds me visiting the farmers market every other day.
So on that note, I introduce to you fresh red whole chilies or peppers. They are pretty to look and not very hot at all. You can do so much with them! Like make poppers or dips or pickle them or add them in your rice, make hot sauce..
I treated them like red bell peppers, threw some into my fried rice, once simply sautéed in oil and spiced it with turmeric, salt and coriander powder(yummy!), made some roasted pepper hummus and a creamy corn red chili dip.
Wanted to make poppers but found no takers for it, slit red peppers, stuffed with a creamy potato filling, topped with some cheese and baked till golden – sounds ethereal right?! Um.. not to guys back home. Well, I stuck to dips and other usual stuff. We’ll save the poppers for some other time.
ROASTED RED CHILIE/PEPPER HUMMUS
To make a cup of hummus:
- 1/4 cup chickpeas, wash and soak in water overnight
- Sesame seeds – 2 tbsp
- Olive oil – 2 tbsps
- Fresh whole red chilies – 2
- Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
- Garlic -2, roast in a tsp of olive oil and lightly crush
- Cayenne pepper – 1/2 tsp – to be used only if the fresh red chilies are very mild.
- Roasted cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
- Yoghurt/curd – 2 tbsp
- Salt to taste
Pressure cook chick peas along with the water until soft. Drain the chick peas and keep aside. Reserve the water also.
Dry roast sesame seeds on low flame for 2-3 mts and turn off flame.
Place a skewer into each of the red chilie peppers and roast over low flame till the skin is charred or blackened. Peel. Place the peeled roasted peppers in a bowl and keep aside.
Heat a small pan, add 2 tsps olive oil and roast garlic for a mt till light brown. Turn off heat and cool.
In a mixer grinder, add drained chickpeas, roasted red chilies, garlic, sesame seeds, olive oil, yoghurt and grind to a fine paste. Add lemon juice, cumin powder, cayenne pepper or chili powder and salt and grind again till well blended. It should be a smooth and creamy paste.
Remove to a serving bowl. Drizzle some olive oil on top with a sprinkle of red chili flakes and serve with pita bread, crackers or sliced vegetables like carrot or cucumber.
We snacked on it with some dry crackers and bread. Yummy!
CREAMY CORN CHILIE DIP
- 2 red chilie peppers, minced or chopped
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 2 pods of garlic, minced – I used fresh green garlic with stems
- 1 tiny piece of ginger, minced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 small green bell pepper, minced – I just threw this in for some color contrast 😉
- 1 tsp italian seasoning
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tbsp cheese, grated – optional
- salt to taste
- red chili flakes – optional
Heat oil, saute garlic, ginger, and onions till they turn translucent. Throw in green bell pepper, corn and red chili peppers. Fry well for a minute. Sprinkle flour. let it coat evenly, quickly add milk and keep stirring till the milk thickens into a creamy sauce covering the veggies. Add seasoning and salt. If using cheese, mix it in now. Give it a final mix. The consistency is that of a semi thick dip, like mayonnaise.
Cool. Serve it with crackers or toasted bread or with some pita. Try it in sandwiches or wraps. Yummy. Certified.
So she is highly opinionated, fearless, immensely emotional(read: cry baby), scathingly critical but yet very very lovable. Amassing amma’s prized concoctions and her million dollar tips and tricks has always been on my never ending to-do list.
If God had intended us to follow recipes, He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers.