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.
This is a long pending post. It took forever to complete this one. Date – Sometime during fall, 2012. But completed April, 2013. Don’t ask me why? I was wasting time on useless stuff. Finally, I sat down to complete what I started months back. This is a simple recipe that I did because I found some lush apples in a farm. Oh yeah! Fresh produce from the tree. Organic too.
I love quinoa salad. Cold or warm, it tastes good either way. Quinoa (Keen-wa) is actually a seed but many consider as a whole grain. It is naturally gluten-free and consists of 9 essential amino acids. This pilaf makes an appetizing accompaniment or a wholesome meal on it’s own.
Phew!!! I’m back with baked bitter gourd…..and this time, it’s for good. I was on too long a hiatus than planned. Well, a cross country move, hubby’s new job and a new place to settle in does demand time and energy. That’s not the only factor that kept me away from blogging, I had blogger’s block. I didn’t know where and how to start again. I kept procrastinating the ‘come back’ out of sheer laziness. Oh Yeah! I admit. Meanwhile, I made new friends (real life and virtual), actively participated in online discussions on forums like Home Bakers Guild and did a lot of baking. In a way, I decided to post this recipe after I saw the interest from several ‘Karela Lovers’ for baked version of bitter gourd opposed to the fried counterpart.
Before getting the right crispy texture, I had failures with regards to right balance of spices, oven temperature and baking time. It was either charred or soggy. But I was hell bent on baking it instead of deep frying just to escape the guilt trip of feeding on ‘fried’ food. Saying that, I came across two varieties of bitter gourds in the market. One was the long Chinese light green bitter melon with pebbled texture and the other is the shorter Indian variety with spiky texture. Taste wise, both are just ‘bitter’. I call it pleasant culinary bitterness which I enjoy with a bowl of rice and curry. While selecting bitter gourd, take note the color matters. Dark green and firm ones are tender and bitter, while the light green and soft textured ones are less bitter, sometimes even ripe inside with reddish pith and big seeds.
This bitter vegetable with least appealing acrid taste is believed to make the diabetics fitter. Neah, I’m kidding. It is scientifically proven that bittergourd improves the uptake of glucose. It is loaded with Vitamin A and C, Beta carotene, Iron and Calcium. According to Ayurveda ‘Karela’ was used to balance the doshas (composition) of our body.
Ladoos are the Indian equivalent to cakes and cookies. I love motichoor ladoos, but I’m yet to master the skill of making those delicious balls. Usually, Ladoos are prepared on a special occasion or festivals. These sweet balls have flour as the base and ghee for binding. This is not my first time to make besan ladoos. I’ve had my share of goof ups while preparing these ladoos. Over a period of time, I learned the knack of preparing this simple, yet yummy sweet balls. This time I added almonds instead of besan alone. At the end of the recipe, I’ve given troubleshooting tips to rescue ladoo disasters. After a couple of times, you’ll master the skill. It takes sometimes to familiarize with besan. I caution you beforehand – these ladoos are addictive ! You may not stop with one.
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.