Where would we be without Chilli Paste? Our kitchen boasts 2 or 3 different ones at any one time, plus of course red and green chillies in the freezer, chilli flakes and 3 different chilli powders. We love a touch of heat in the kitchen, but not everyone has to go this far! A good chilli paste will be your godsend when you are looking to spice up a soup, sauce, pasta dish, dip, avocado mash, even a potato crush!
It is another 43C day, as I write, and the whole of Australia is in the grip of a heatwave. So we look for refreshing and cooling salads each day. Kosumalli salads from South India fit the bill perfectly. With fresh raw ingredients mixed with coconut and dressed just with lime or lemon juice, they are what we crave in the heat.
I wonder about the origin of these salads – raw ingredients are uncommon in India, so perhaps they were a consequence of the British occupation. If you know, can you enlighten us?
Indonesian sambals are fiery blends of fresh hot chillies and other seasonings that are used as relishes or condiments throughout Indonesia. There are dozens of different sambal recipes; some raw, and some cooked. A sambal is served in much the same way we might use sriracha or tabasco sauce.
They are generally easy to make, especially the raw ones, and this sambal takes no more than 5 minutes. The onions and chillies cure in the lime juice, making it incredibly delicious. Drizzle it over everything for spicy hot flavours. This recipe is the same as Sambal Iris, except that it has basil added to it. It changes the flavour and makes it even more delicious (if that is possible).
Today we have another Rasam recipe to add to our series exploring the different types of Rasam. This one has a slight toor dal base, uses fewer spices (mainly cumin and black pepper) and uses lime juice for a tangy, digestion promoting, delicious dish. There are four different ways of making Lime Rasam, according to the Queen of Tamil Food, Meenakshi Ammal. This is the third of her methods.
The Rasams Chapter in Meenakshi Ammal’s books Cook and See contains traditional Tamil rasam recipes. Although we are not afraid to step away from the tree, going back to very traditional recipes (that can still be made in the modern kitchen) is an important way to get the hang of traditional as well as modern methods and flavour combinations. I hope you feel the same.
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Sprouts must be one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and so easy to make at home. You can sprout any whole lentil from your Indian shop and most from your supermarket – also some spices like fenugreek which makes lovely sprouts.
The sprouts are added to oil and spices, and are quickly tossed. Then water is added and the sprouts are left to steam until soft. This is quite different to the Chinese/Asian treatment of sprouts, which is to stirfry them. It is a reflection of the different style of sprouts used in the two areas. In India, sprouts are short, barely 1 cm long. Lentils and beans are sprouted until the tiny sprout has shown its face, and then they are cooked. In Chinese cuisines, the sprouts are left to grow until 5 or 6 cm long to add crunchy, fresh, textural elements to a dish.
In India, there is a difference between Usal and Misal dishes – sometimes the two dishes are confused. Usal is a spiced sprouts dish made with one or more sprouted lentils and beans. Traditionally Usal is made with sprouts of moth beans (matki). Usal can be eaten as is, or Misal is made. For Misal, the cooked sprouts are immersed in a spicy thin gravy and topped with farsan, sev, onion, coriander and lemon wedges. Both Misal and Usal can be eaten with Pav – Indian bread buns.
Usually people mix elements of both dishes, according to their taste and preferences – here the Usal is topped with coriander, coconut, onion and lemon.
The book Tiffin by Srinivas is not only a terrific read, it has many recipes are full flavoured and perfectly balanced. This recipe is one for a mix of sprouts, cooked over low heat with spices. Delicious.
Green Tomatoes are around all season if you look for them, and particularly in Spring and Autumn. They are delicious – don’t stick them on the window sill to ripen. Slice them into your salads, or cook with them. Their slightly tart tomatoey flavour will surprise you. We adore them and you will too. Enjoy our collection of recipes from the US, India, Australia and beyond.
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Malabar Spinach is freely available in Asian and other shops from Mid Summer, and is a lovely alternative to real spinach and other greens. Today we cook it fairly simply with urad dal for a very earthy dish that has a slight bitterness. It does not use many spices, and is gorgeous with some potatoes with chilli and onion.
Here is another gorgeous salad in our series of Koshambari and Kosumalli salads. This one is a combination of carrots, chana dal and spices. I always say it, but it must be repeated – it is utterly delicious! A refreshing and cooling salad for hot Summer days.
You might like to read What is Kosumalli aka Koshambari.
Did you ever see the movie Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe? If nothing else, it’s title introduced fried green tomatoes into our life. I love green tomatoes (they make an amazing salsa, for example), and frying them with a crispy crust of polenta and parmesan is a great snack.
There are many different recipes for the crust – some use a batter – but I like this one. It is crisp and crunchy, and doesn’t have to be deep fried. Sometimes I use a batter of self raising flour, cornmeal and buttermilk.
I love fresh pineapple, so much so that it (mostly) overcomes the need to peel it and remove the eyes before the juicy slices can be used. This year I have made two Madhura Pachadi dishes, both delicious. They are from Kerala. One has a little coconut but no yoghurt and is a little like a spicy halwa, and this one where the pineapple is cooked in a tamarind base. It also contains a little coconut. BTW there are many other versions of Madhura Pachadi, but we love these two.
Kerala has the best dishes, don’t you think? That is after Tamil Nadu of course.