Pickles – This condiment literally tickles my palate. I LOVE pickles of any sort – sweet pickles, sour pickles, water pickles, candied pickles, fermented pickles, spicy pickles, tangy pickles. Pickles are vegetables or fruits soaked in solutions as a preservative. Be it European pickles that is acidic like the gherkins in brine and Kosher dill pickles or Far East’s fermented pickles like Kimchi and Japanese tsukemono with complex flavors. Likewise, Indian pickles have a myriad of spices and flavors. When citrus fruits are in season I make lemon/ lime pickle and preserve for later use.
Lemon pickle is commonly used in my household. I must say I’m the only pickle lover at home. I need any pickle with thayir sadam (plain yogurt rice). The husband cares less. It’s time-consuming (about 2-3 weeks) to yield the desired outcome, but takes less than an hour to put together. I make tonnes of pickle during summer and savor it throughout the year. Usually, I make the south Indian style pickles. Difference being the oil used for tempering and the spices used for seasoning. South Indians use sesame oil, while north Indians use mustard oil. Each impart a distinct flavor and aroma to the final output. Price wise, It costs half the price you’ll spend outside.
I am often asked to share the recipe for ‘HOME MADE CREAM CHEESE’. Cream cheese is readily available for me. But the same can be pricey and inaccessible for some folks. It’s mostly readers from India who find it hard to lay their hands on cream cheese. So here’s the recipe I experimented just for the heck of it. This one has a slight tang with a creamy texture.
I’ve come across many online recipes that use just whole milk to make cream cheese. I would rightly call it ricotta cheese which has a grainy texture. CREAM CHEESE needs cream and culture and/or rennet. This recipe requires no starter cultures or unpronounceable ingredients. It takes about 5 days! But you can check the consistency mid way and stop the process even on the 3 rd day.
Black Forest Preserve is a great accompaniment with cheese, drizzled as an ice cream sauce, between layers of cakes or to sandwich cookies. It’s a preseve with lots of fresh cherries and little chocolate to complement the fruity cherry flavor. This is Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in a bottle minus the whipped cream.
Serve this simple and tasty dip accompanied with Celery sticks, Cucumber strips, Carrot strips, Sliced bell peppers, Tomato wedges, Tortilla chips, Potato wedges, Barbecued chicken drumsticks, Grilled fish, Crackers, Pretzels, Pizza, as a dressing for salad or over pasta.
Spring or Summer, Raita is an essential condiment with a spicy Indian meal. Some call it yogurt sauce as raita can be used as a sauce or a dip. Well, the consistency is a personal preference. I like it thick and creamy. Some prefer it like a thin sauce. With endless variations, I made this raita with cooling cucumber and crunchy red apple. I also prefer using greek yogurt for cucumber raitas , the reason being grated or diced cucumber after mixing with the yogurt weeps a lot of liquid. Regular yogurt gets diluted and gives a watery raita. Hence, I chose a thick and firm yogurt as the base for this raita. Apple adds a hint sweetness to this soothing condiment.
This is a fiery chutney with earthy flavor of ginger and pleasantly pungent onion. The heat is balanced out with the slight sweetness of coconut, jaggery and tang of tamarind. This makes a great side for dosa, pesarattu, Idli and pilaus. Just plonk a teaspoon to make savory muffins or serve as a side for lamb chops and barbecued chicken. This spicy condiment sure does aid in the digestion of a heavy main dish.