Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for the ‘condiments’ Category

Quick Indian Chili Pepper Pickles (Mirchi ka Achar)

Posted by fourclankitchen on October 26, 2016

img_1665

My mom made the best Indian pickles in the world.  Before she died,  I transcribed some of her recipes (minimal as they were) onto my iPhone Notes.  Unfortunately, when I bought a new phone,  these files did not survive and now these recipes are nothing but a memory on my tongue.  So I was delighted to come across some recipes on the website called Indian Simmer.  I adapted and annotated the simplest one and used the last of my garden’s serranos to make a pickle you can prepare in just a few minutes and eat within a few hours.

Ingredients:

  • 250 gm chili peppers, any combination.  I used a mix of red fresno and serrano peppers, but Thai bird peppers are traditional and much, much hotter.
  • 4 tbs.  brown mustard seeds, coarsely ground in a coffee grinder.
  • Generous pinch of Asafoetida (Hing).  Skip if you cannot find it,  but this is like fish sauce and adds a lot of umami, although it would taste awful if you placed a pinch on your tongue.
  • 5-6 tablespoon oil, preferably mustard oil  (this oil really lends the distinct Indian pickle flavor, but swap with other unflavored oils if you have to). There should be enough oil to fully coat the peppers.  This is the second preservative.
  • Salt to taste  (1 used 3 tsp- this acts as a preservative, so don’t skimp.
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tbs. Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Turmeric powder

img_1661

Method:

  • Stem the chillies and pulse them in a food processor to get smallish pieces (this will only take a few pulses) .  You can also cut these by hand which is traditional.
  • Place the chillies in a medium sized bowl and add salt.  Dry brine the chillies for 1/2 hour (or longer).
  • You can drain the water from the chilies if you want to reduce the heat after the brining.
  • In a small  bowl, combine the ground mustard, asafetida, oil, salt, sugar, lemon juice and turmeric powder.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Toss the spice mix with the chillies.
  • Taste and adjust the salt and lemon to taste.
  • Transfer the pickles to a glass jar.   You should probably sterilize the jar or run it through the dishwasher.
  • Let the pickles sit on the counter for a day and then store in the fridge.  These should keep for a long time.

img_1664

 

Notes:

  • The pickles will taste better after a few days, although they can be used right away if you cannot wait.
  • The pickles will also lose some of their heat over time.
  • These pickles can be used as an accompaniment to any Indian meal, but are also great on buttered toast, on eggs, you name it!

img_1667

Posted in Asian, condiments, Indian Food, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hot Pepper Jam/Thai Chili sauce)

Posted by fourclankitchen on April 19, 2015

IMG_0901


I love the Asian chili garlic sauce because it goes with everything from a samosa, to noodles, to empanadas to a marinade for chicken or fish.  It can make your whole day if you have this around.  I have looked at a lot of these recipes and wanted to make one that did not have dried shrimp (I am allergic) or fish sauce.  A common complaint about the home-made versions is that using corn starch just not give it the gel-like constancy of the commercially available sauces.  To sort this problem out, I liberally adapted this recipe from the hot pepper jam recipe on the Kraft Sure-Jell website.  I use only hot peppers,  I added salt and I drastically reduced the amount of sugar.  With the pectin being boiled with the peppers, this is a one-pot deal and literally takes 5-10 min to be ready.

I always make jams in small batches so I don’t have to be bothered with canning.  I freeze whatever I don’t use and the frozen stuff seems to be good for a year or so.  But if you make a larger batch, please play it safe and learn how to can from any number of websites.

IMG_0902

Ingredients:

1 cup  chopped red, hot peppers (I used cascabels,  but fresnos, serranos or jalapeños are other choices; if you cannot tolerate heat, substitute some of these peppers for red bell peppers).

1/2 cup cider vinegar  (This really is part of the flavor so try to stick with this vinegar. I would guess that if you needed to substitute this, the best option would be rice vinegar or some other mild vinegar).

1 pkg. powder Fruit Pectin (I used Sure-Jell)

Salt to taste

2 cups sugar (or a little bit less)

Method:

1. Coarsely pulse your peppers in the food processor and place them in a medium sized pan. Add vinegar and salt. Stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a boil  on high heat, stirring constantly.

2. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.

3. Taste and adjust the salt.

3. Ladle into clean jars.   Let the jars sit on the counter for several hours.  You will get 2 jars out of this.  Put one in the fridge and the other in the freezer.

IMG_0908

Posted in Asian, condiments, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Small batch Pomegranate Jam

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 7, 2015

IMG_0873I have taken to making small batch jams (1 jar at a time) using frozen fruit and whatever fresh fruit I have left in the fridge at the end of the week.  These taste better than the store bought stuff, have a fraction of the sugar and once made, will work on a piece of toast or a cracker as well as they work as a sauce or relish thrown over chicken. Also, you bypass the canning process.  This pomegranate jam, which actually also contains an apple and an orange,  would be a great replacement for pomegranate molasses in the Persian chicken stew, Fesenjan.  So give it a try,  all you need is a frozen bag of fruit and half an hour on a weekend.

IMG_0874

Ingredients:

1 lb bag of frozen pomegranate

1 orange

1 apple

3 strawberries (optional)

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of water (as needed)

Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste (optional).

IMG_0875

Method:

1.  Cut and core an apple to small bite sized pieces (no need to peel).

2.  Peel the orange part of the orange rind using a vegetable peeler and chop to little bits.  Then peel and discard  the while pith (too bitter) and chop the orange into bite sized pieces.

3. Halve the strawberries.

4. Now throw all of the fruit slog with the frozen pomegranate into a medium sized pot and cook uncovered  on low heat for 15 min.

5.  Now add the sugar and cook for another 20-30 min on low heat, stirring on and off till the  consistency of the jam is to your liking.  Do not walk away during this time or your jam could burn.   Taste your jam and add the lemon juice if the jam tastes too sweet to you.

6.  Blend the jam with a stick blender  till you have the consistency you like.  You may need to add the water at this stage.

7. Place in a mason jar and store in the fridge or freezer.  I do not know how to can, but if you make a jar at a time, you don’t have to.  The jam is great in the freezer for several months.

IMG_0872

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, condiments, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Onion-Tomato Chutney

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 24, 2015

IMG_0847

This is a versatile and delicious condiment that is at home with an Indian flatbread, a rice pilaf,  tortilla chips or grilled chicken or vegetables.  Really,  you could eat it by the teaspoonful with no accompaniment  and feel that life is good.  It is served in Indian restaurants as an accompaniment to Dosas (rice crepes) and is apparently a staple in many homes in the southern half of India.

This version is based on an adaptation of a recipe I found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJtE7oEigGY  although I made some minor changes to fit what I had on hand and what is easily available.  These changes follow the recipe.

IMG_0849

Ingredients:

2 tbs oil

1 really large onion or 2 or 3 small ones, coarsely chopped.

4 large dried red peppers, torn into large pieces  (these can be as hot or mild as you please, see note below)

2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tsp minced  ginger (optional, not in the original)

1 tsp minced garlic (not in the original recipe)

Large pinch Asafoetida (hing), omit if you don’t have access to it

A few bits of the seedless tamarind or 1/2 tsp of tamarind concentrate (see note below)

1 tsp almond or peanut butter (the original recipe calls for 50 g of cashew nuts or sesame seeds, peanuts or roasted yellow split peas, see notes  below)

3/4 tsp  brown sugar (original recipe calls for jaggery, see notes)

salt to taste

IMG_0851

Method

1.  Heat oil in a large cast iron or other skillet.

2.  Add the red chile pieces, hing, ginger and garlic to the oil, stir for a few seconds, then add the onions and salt.  Continue to saute till the onions pick up a light brown color.  The browner the onions, the more complex the chutney will be, but you do not want to crisp the onions.

3. Now add the tomatoes, almond butter and brown sugar and sauté until the tomatoes turn soft.

4.  Cool and then blend in a blender or a food process until smooth.  You may have to add a few tsp of water to get the consistency you desire.  Taste and adjust the salt and sugar.

5.  Serve as a condiment or side with rice, flat breads, roasted vegetables or chicken  or as a schmear for any sandwich.

IMG_0852

Notes on the Special Ingredients and their substitutions:

1.  Dried red peppers:  The main point here is the color and the flavor and not the heat.  The recipe calls for the large and rather mild Kashmiri chillies.  Here in the US, it is easy to find dried red peppers used in Mexican cooking.  I picked up a bunch at the local grocery store (they are also available at Whole Foods)- these were simply called Mexican Peppers and were pretty hot.  If you want a milder pepper, go for the dried Anaheims and discard the seeds.  Do not use the Indian, Thai or Chinese small red peppers, they will most likely kill you.

2. Dried tamarind cakes  (nearly seedless) are sold in Indian and oriental grocery stores (see image).  You have to break off a chunk of the desired size.  In this recipe you can dump the chunk directly into the skillet, but for most recipes, you soak in warm water for 15 minutes and rub the tamarind with your hands and strain it to get the pulp.  If you are feeling lazy,  you can go the tamarind concentrate route (see image of the container).  I also see cans of tamarind juice sold in the Mexican section of grocery stores, this work just as well and are probably the best option if available.

3.  Jaggery is unrefined sugar sold in lumps at the Indian grocery store.  Brown sugar is a fine substitute.

4.  I used almond butter instead of the 4 options the original recipe provided.  I think the point here is a mellow richness and smoothness to a chutney that can have a very dramatic flavor profile.  So I figured that almond butter is a fine substitute for whole cashews or peanuts since they do become butter-ish once they are blended anyway.

IMG_0854

Posted in Asian, Breakfast, condiments, Indian Food, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cherry Jam (Small batch, no pectin)

Posted by fourclankitchen on August 5, 2014

photo 1

I love the idea of preserving summer fruits, but cannot abide canning.  I am always on the lookout for small batch jam recipes, because lets face it,  I don’t want to pit 5 lbs of cherries.  I winged this cherry jam and found that you can add way less sugar than standard recipes  and still have a perfectly flavored and gelled jam. You also don’t need to add pectin to most cooked jams.   The flavor of this jam is truly great.  It takes a while and you have to be around, but it is real easy to put together.

photo 4

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs cherries

1 cup sugar

½ cup water

photo 3

Method:

1. Stem and pit cherries (a cherry pitter is useful here).

2. Pulse the cherries in the food processor to obtain a coarse puree. Do not over process.

3. Place the cherries in a medium sized sauce pan with the water and cook cherries uncovered  on medium for 20 min until completely soft.   Stir on and off. Do not leave the kitchen while doing this.

4. Add the sugar and turn down the heat so that the jam is at a bare simmer. Stir frequently. Boil until the jam starts to leave tracks on the bottom of the pan (mine took about 45 min, but this can differ quite a bit depending on your heat level). You an also use a candy thermometer and cook to 220˚F (the temperature at which jam sets) , but I find eyeballing to be simpler and pretty accurate.

5. Allow to cool, then ladle the jam into clean jars. Freeze if not using immediately.   This makes 1 ½ jars of jam, not worth canning. Freezing the bottle not targeted for immediate consumption works just fine for me. But by all means consult some other resource for canning to ensure safety.

Posted in condiments, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: