Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013

FOOD-0-GRAM

Summer snacking

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Feeling hot, hot, hot! The fiery heat has descended upon us, meaning it’s also time for us to spice up our food. Cultures in the hottest locations on earth eat foods flavoured with hot chilli peppers, spices that make you break out in sweat. There is a reason for the spicy palette, it’s actually pretty smart if you think about it — spicy food makes you sweat and its helps your body cool down faster. It’s as simple as that!

I distinctly remember once going out with my former boss and him having a steaming cup of tea from the ‘tong’ in front of the office. It was smack in the middle of summer and hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. So anyway I couldn’t fathom why he would want something so hot when I was dying for an icy glass of juice.

He told me drinking hot drinks in the summer will raise your body temperature and activate your body’s natural cooling system. I walked away enlightened and passed on this information to everyone, even to the reader reading this right now! My advice –  eat hot and spicy, and ice cold delights for pure pleasure!

Pudina chutney
Pudina, known as mint in English, has immense use in kitchens across cultures all over the world and we use it in our daily lives in a few salads, especially as chutneys, in the preparation of sandwiches,’ chaats’ and others. My first taste of this pudina chutney was at one of my parents’ Indian friend’s house. It was served along with ‘pakora’, its best companion. You will also find the recipe for ‘pakora’ in the next recipe.

Ingredients:
1 cup dry roasted Bengal gram
½ cup mint leaves
¼ cup cilantro
2 tbsp tamarind paste
6 green chilli (reduce the amount if it is too much)
Salt to taste
Method:
Wash and chop both mint and cilantro leaves and keep it aside. Clean dry roast Bengal gram daal in a pan. Grind chopped cilantro, pudina, green chilli, roasted bengalgram daal, tamarind paste, salt and a pinch of sugar in the mixer adding water in steps to a required medium coarse consistency. Transfer it to a serving bowl.

Sabudana pakora
A little info on Sabudana, I didn’t know what it was for the longest time. Sabudana is sago, an extract from the tree and processed into pearl-like forms. This recipe is so tasty and tempting that ‘once you pop you can’t stop’.

Ingredients:
1 cup sabudana
5-6 potatoes
½ peanut powder
2 green chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ lemon juice
½ cup chopped cilantro
Salt  to taste
¼ tsp sugar
3 cups cooking oil

Method:
Soak sabudana for about 15 minutes and drain water completely and keep it aside for about an hour for it to puff up. Wash and chop cilantro as well and keep it aside. Dry roast peanuts in a skillet till you get a pleasant aroma. Peel off the skin and powder it to a medium fine consistency.

Boil potatoes in the cooker for about 20 minutes till soft. Grate it as well. Mix puffed sago, grated potato, powdered peanuts, chopped cilantro into a wide bowl. Add salt, sugar, cumin seeds and grate green chilli into it. Squeeze in some lemon juice.

Mix it with your hands without adding water to create a soft consistency. Make round balls and flatten it a little. Place a skillet with 2-3 cups of cooking oil in it on medium heat (depending upon the size of the burner) and place the pakora in it. When fried to light brown flip it to fry on the reverse. Serve hot.

Homemade hot sauce
Ingredients:
20 red Thai chillies, stemmed and cut crosswise (green chillies work too)
1½ tbsp minced garlic
3/4 cup thinly sliced onions
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups water
1 cup distilled white vinegar

Method:
Combine the peppers, garlic, onions, salt and oil in a non-stick saucepan over high heat. Saute  for 3 minutes. Add the water and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until peppers are very soft and almost all of the liquid has evaporated. (Note: this should be done in a very well-ventilated area!)

Remove from the heat and allow to steep until mixture comes to room temperature. In a food processor, puree the mixture for 15 seconds, or until smooth. With the food processor running, add the vinegar through the feed tube in a steady stream.

Taste and season with more salt, if necessary. (This will depend on the heat level of the peppers you use as well as the brand of vinegar used.)

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and then transfer to a sterilised jar or bottle and secure with an airtight lid. Refrigerate. Let age for at least 2 weeks before using. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Hot wings
I love wings! And hot and super spicy wings hold a very dear corner in everyone’s hearts, eating with burning lips and paper towels wiping our tearful eyes.

Page 701Ingredients:
2 lbs chicken wings (about 12 wings)
3 tbsp butter, melted
4 tbsp homemade hot sauce
1 tbsp paprika
½ tsp salt
½ tsp red chilli flakes
¼ tsp black pepper

Ingredients for the dip:
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
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Method:
Cut off wing tips (discard or reserve for other use such as making stock). Cut wings at the joint. Put chicken wing pieces in a plastic bag. Set aside.

Food safety note: when cutting raw chicken it is best to use a cutting board reserved just for cutting raw chicken. Wash thoroughly when finished. Do not let raw chicken juices come in contact with other food.

Create a marinade by stirring together the melted butter, hot pepper sauce, paprika, salt.

Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the marinade over the chicken pieces in the bowl and cover. (Reserve those 2 tbsp of marinade for coating after the pieces come out of the oven.)

Let it marinate at room temperature for half an hour. When marinating is finished, drain marinade into a different bowl.

Place wing pieces on a greased oven proof pan. Bake at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes on each side, until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Remove from oven and pour over the 2 tbsp of reserved marinade (not the marinade that was in contact with the raw chicken).

Serve with the dip.

For the dip:
Whip all the ingredients together and serve with the wings.

Mango Salsa for your Tortilla chips
Sweet, fragrant mango is a perfect match for the heat of chilli, and ginger adds a second spicy layer.

Page 703Ingredients:
5 large, ripe mangos, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
2 medium red onions, cut into ¼-inch dice
3 red/green chillies, minced
1 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp hot pepper sauce
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 6 to 8 lemons)
Salt

Method:
Mix all the ingredients together and serve with Tortilla chips.

Cocktail sausages my way
Just a random recipe that I came up with while my colleagues and I got out of work and were getting ready for a wedding. We were famished and this was the only thing that I had left in the fridge!

Ingredients:
¼ teaspoon rosemary
1 tbsp HP sauce
Salt to taste
1½ tsp chilli flakes
3 tbsp milk
125g of cocktail sausages

Method:
Heat a pan and add 3 tsp of oil. Add the cocktail sausages and rosemary. When the sausages are taking on a different colour, add the HP sauce and the chilli flakes. Add the milk. Coat the sausages and wait for the milk to evaporate. Serve hot!