Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chilli Rellenos (Stuffed chillies - Mexican style)

I enjoy Mexican cuisine. Sadly, the restaurant scene in Chennai doesn’t offer much choice as far as this cuisine goes. The two restaurants that offer Mexican fare fail to satisfy. The one time I visited Don Pepe, I was served substandard food that came covered in cold and chewy cheese which provided my gums with a lot of unneeded and strenuous exercise.
If you have never tasted Mexican food before, then the relatively new player on the block, Texas Fiesta, might prove to be satisfactory….but to me, it was far from good. The nachos were not crisp, they served rajma and called it black beans.
So, the only option I am left with is to make Mexican food at home. I recently picked up Nita Mehta’s Mexican Cuisine at the library and tried out this starter from her book.

To make chilli rellenos, you need:
Chillies – 6 (use the variety that is used to make bajji)
Vinegar –1/4 cup
Salt –1/2 tsp

For the filling:
Potato – 2 small , peeled, diced fine
Carrot – 1, grated
Rice – 1/2 cup
Vinegar – 3/4 tsp
Cheese spread – 3 tsp
Oregano – 1/2 tsp (I used Pizza Hut’s Italian seasoning)
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp

For the batter:
Cornflour – 1/2 cup
Salt – to taste
Water – 1/4 cup

Remove the stem of the chillies and slit them halfway through. Remove the seeds. Pour the vinegar over the chillies and rub well with salt. Keep this aside for 30 minutes.
To make the filling:
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan. Add the diced potatoes and cook on a low flame until well browned. Switch off heat. Mix in all the other ingredients listed under filling.
Stuff this filling gently into the slit chillies.

Mix cornflour, salt and water to make a batter.
Dip the stuffed chillies in the batter and deep fry in hot oil until golden brown and crisp.

Off this goes to Anita's Mad Tea Party.

The Queen

Her mother in law(MIL) was coming over for lunch tomorrow. She stood in the kitchen, looking around, trying to see what faults her MIL would be able to find. Everything was dusted, clean and organized.....but that wasn't going to stop the old lady from saying something caustic. She would have to try the food route. Maybe the way to her mother in law's heart was through her stomach. What should she make??? She thought of all the sadyas that she had enjoyed and smiling, moved to pick up a little plastic packet that she'd bought on her last shopping trip. The smile became wider as she added milk and sugar to it and put it into the pressure cooker. By the time she was done with the rest of her cooking, the whole house was filled with a heady, sweet aroma. The MIL walked in, sniffing appreciatively....but trying hard not to show that she was impressed. She looked around and raised her eyebrow at the cushion that was out of place in the living room. The DIL quickly ran in to the kitchen and came back with a warm bowl of the palada pradhaman that she had made. A spoonful of that and the MIL had to really struggle to hide her delight....a few more spoonfuls and she gave up trying to pretend that she didn't like it. With a half smile in her daughter-in-law's direction, she threw the spoon aside and slurped noisily from the bowl.

What you need:
Double Horse Rice ada - a large handful
Milk - 1 litre
Sugar - 1 cup, heaped
Saffron - a few strands (optional)

Wash ada in plenty of water. Soak it for 20 minutes in hot water. Drain the water and transfer the ada to a pressure cooker. Add milk, sugar, and a cup of water. Stir well. Cook until one whistle. Reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes. Once the pressure has been released, continue to let the mixture simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced to half. This will take a little over an hour. At this stage, the payasam will acquire a slightly pinkish colour. Switch off the heat and serve hot, warm or cold.

Any brand of store bought rice ada can be used for this payasam. However, after trying out several brands, I have found that Double Horse ada is closest in taste to home made ada.
If you don't have the patience to stand and stir the payasam for an hour, reduce the amount of sugar used, add half a tin of condensed milk and then you'll find that the payasam thickens sooner.
For an excellent post on how ada can be made from scratch, please check out this post at Kailas Kitchen.
This goes to Desi Soccer Mom who is hosting the 4th edition of Chalks & Chopsticks, a monthly event started by Aqua.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

From Her Diverse Kitchen to mine

Aparna's Diverse Kitchen is a blog that needs no introduction. It is a ready reckoner for those looking for traditional Palakkad Iyer fare or for cakes and other bakes. When Valli announced that her blog is being featured in this month's Tried & Tasted, an event started by Zlamushka and now taken over by Lakshmi, I went through her recipe index to see what I could make. There were quite a few dishes that looked and sounded wonderful, but the name Mujadara appealed to me the most. I love saying it....mujadara....doesn't that sound exotic? The fact that there were only three major ingredients was a further plus. For the recipe, please go to this post of Aparna's.

What I think of the dish:
This is a hearty, filling dish with a delicious creaminess from the masoor dal and a slight sweetness from the caramelised onions. Even though the ingredient list and the procedure look simple, do this when you have lots of time on hand, as caramelising the onions takes quite a bit of time. All said and done, the effort you put in is definitely worth it. This is one recipe that I am sure to make again.