Shital's-Kitchen: June 2016

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pickled Peppercorns

Have you ever wondered from where peppercorns or pepper powder that we use to season our food  obtained from? I have always seen my mom buy fresh green peppercorns which look beautiful like strings of green pearls. But little did I know or realized that they grow on vines. I do not remember how but while I was shopping for some live tropical plants on Amazon, I came across Piper Nigrum (black pepper corn) plant. I suddenly remembered my mom's pickle. It was a state on enlightenment for me...I was so excited! :)

I immediately ordered a live peppercorn plant and started to research how to grow it. It is a tropical plant and thus would need a hot and humid climate. We planted the baby plant in a large pot and placed it in my green house. It has been with us almost 3 months now and is doing well! I wish it fruits some day and I can make some fresh pickle for my dad. Pickled Peppercorns have been my dad's favorite. My mom would make a jar full of this to last for the entire year. Yes, my mom makes exotic pickles, not just the regular mango ones but all from some berries and root. I will post pictures soon! :)

Fresh green peppercorns are tender and slightly spiced. The pickle tastes sour with a slight kick as you bite into a corn, and is perfect with simple Indian rice dishes or kichdi, which is a mushy preparation of rice and lentil.

This recipe is from my mom's kitchen. It has been my effort to learn the art of pickling and preserving from elders in my family. I am very happy with my achievement this year. I got a chance to understand the traditional art and science of pickling!

Here is how my mom makes this pickle!
1 cups of green peppercorns
6-8 Lemons
1/2 cup salt
1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • Wash, wipe and dry peppercorn strings well.
  • In a glass jar place all the peppercorn stings (whole or cut into small pieces)
  • Add juice of all the lemons so that peppercorns are submerged in well.
  • Add salt and turmeric powder.
  • Mix well.
  • Let the peppercorns sit into the brine for few days.
  • Occasionally mix peppercorns in the brine.
  • Enjoy!
Grow Peppercorn plant: The picture below is obtained from this website:

Here is my pepper plant in my green house. I am trying to create a tropical (hot and humid) climate for my plant.

 Here is my greenhouse for my tropical plants.

Beautiful String of Pickled Peppercorns!!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Tandoori Gobi

Like I have said in my earlier posts, we love spending time in our backyard and we love BBQing. I don't think vegetarians have limited options of BBQing. There are so many veggies or basically all veggies that can be marinated and grilled or pan seared or cooked over charcoal heat. BBQ or charcoal cooking imparts delicious smoky flavor to the food and veggies rather cook very quickly keeping the the food moist and tender.

Although I love all veggies grilled, cauliflower is one of my favorites. Cauliflower kababs, Buttered pan seared cauliflower, grilled cauliflower, oven cooked cauliflower, cauliflower with any recipe cauliflower just tastes delicious!

Since the time we have finished with our DIY tandoor project... my husband and I are trying to come up with out of the box tandoor recipes. We all know that tandoor can be used for rotis, naans, flatbreads and kababs. But we want this charcoal oven to be used for more than just naans and kababs. Yes, tandoor is nothing but a traditional high temperature charcoal oven. People all over the world used tandoor or clay oven to make exotic recipes. So everything that can be done in a regular oven should be made in a tandoor. With few variations and adjustments we are getting to know our tandoor better and enjoying each and every moment with it.

I have cooked/baked whole cauliflower or Gobi in an oven before (click here for recipe), but now it was time to use a tandoor and cook cauliflower. The tricky part was to have cauliflower suspended inside tandoor so that it cooks and bakes over the charcoal heat without touching charcoal. I found a grilling basket and attached few metal wires on the sides so that I could suspend the basket using my grilling tripod. the entire construction did take some time but it worked just great. I was so happy with the outcome that now I am ready to try out lot more things to do in my Tandoor! Below are pictures of hanging basket construction.

Here is the recipe:
1 medium sized cauliflower
1+1/2 cup hung curd
1+1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. chili garlic paste or garlic chutney or my schezwan sauce
1 tbsp. garam masala powder
1 tbsp. kasoori methi
1/2 tbsp. red chili powder
  • Remove leaves and hard stalk from the cauliflower. Soak entire cauliflower head in salt water for 30 minutes. Wash and clean well by moving florets and check for any dirt in it. Clean well. Keep it aside.
  • In a bowl mix all other ingredients well. This is the tandoori marinade for our gobi/cauliflower
  • Coat cauliflower well with the marinade. Use spoon or finger to push marinade in between the florets. Cover cauliflower entirely and let it rest for 30 minutes. This is a great recipe if you are invited to a potluck BBQ party. Just take your marinated cauliflower and grill it at the party. I am sure host will be excited too.
  • You do not have to use a Tandoor for this recipe. Using the same recipe you can bake cauliflower in a 400 F oven for 30-45 minutes, or even use a regular charcoal grill basket covering top of the cauliflower with aluminum foil. You can also use a regular grill to bake tandoori marinated cauliflower at the highest temperature for 25 minutes or till done.
  • Serve with sprinkled chat masala, sliced onions, salad, and lime wedges. 
  • Have some tandoori roti or naan ready to make some quick tandoori wraps.
  • Enjoy!

Here is step-by-step pictorial recipe:
Remove leaves and hard stalk from the cauliflower. Soak in salt water for 30 minutes. Wash and clean well by moving florets and check for any dirt in it. Clean well. Keep it aside.

In a bowl mix all other ingredients well. This is the tandoori marinate for our gobi/cauliflower

Coat cauliflower well with the marinade. Use spoon or finger to push marinade in between the florets. Cover cauliflower entirely and let it rest for 30 minutes.

I use organic charcoal for grilling!

Marinated gobi in grilling basket.

Grilling basket suspended in tandoor.

I covered tandoor with foil to keep the heat in.
Here is the grilling tripod to suspend the basket.

Beautiful color and amazing aroma from grilling.

I like to make a tandoori roti wrap with tandoori gobi.
Enjoy this BBQ season!!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Grilled Peru & Pineapple Salad

My husband and I have a favorite summer time...BBQing on my little grill or cooking on our homemade tandoor! Yes, we enjoy grilling. Weekends are mostly spent in the backyard besides the grill. But not just weekends, with long summer days grilling is an easy task to sit back, relax, and prepare dinner even during weekdays.

When it comes to BBQ or using charcoal grill, my husband and I make the most use of it. Not just grilling appetizers, corn or paneer...we cook the entire traditional Indian meal and even desserts on my charcoal grill. Grilled fruit salads are fun too!

Grilling fruit can make the fruit sugars caramelize to give delicious sweet and smoky flavor. It can be combined with fresh spring and summer green and the fruit juice will make a great dressing too.
Pineapple and Guava or Peru as we call it in India are sweet and sour fruits, great for grilling and form amazing tasting dressing over the salad. As soon as I found fresh guavas at an Indian store, I knew what I wanted to make. We do have a gauva tree in our backyard...we are waiting for it to fruit soon!

2 firm but ripe guavas/peru
1/2 fresh pineapple
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp chilli powder
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups fresh spring greens
  • Cut guavas into eights and put in a large bowl.
  • Core and cut pineapple into pieces similar size that of guavas. Put in a large bowl with cut guavas.
  • Add salt, chilli powder, and lemon juice. Let the fruits sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Gently pierce each fruit piece through a skewer.
  • Sprinkle some sugar over it and grill the fruits. Grilling should not take more time. Quick grilling will keep the fruits moist from inside while still obtaining caramelized and smoky flavor.
  • Add grilled fruits to the bowl of fresh greens with the remaining fruit juice in the bowl. 
  • Serve immediately.

Here is step-by-step pictorial recipe

Enjoy the Grilling Season!!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Mango Milkshake

Mangoes are in season, and the best Mangoes are of coarse the Indian ones...Alphanso, Kesar, many Indian variety to enjoy aam ras and roti. During the mango season we would literally indulge in it...breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, drink...everything would have mango as a main ingredient :) Veggies would take a side seat when mangoes are around, at least in my house.

Mango milkshake brings back all the childhood memories. This was one of my favorites of all the milkshakes mummy would make. Recently I found frozen Indian Mango slices. Mangoes from Hawaii are amazing and have a great taste, but they are too fibrous to make smooth milkshake with it. So I tried frozen Indian Mango slices from the Indian store. The taste was very nice although it had a slight frozen after taste. Definitely something to have once in a while!

Currently I am on a vacation in India and enjoying my share of fresh Indian mangoes! 

Ingredients to make 2 glasses of Mango milkshake
1 glass chilled milk
1 cup mango slices
2 tbsp. sugar (or as needed)

Blend all together to form a smooth shake!

You can also blend your milkshake with some vanilla icecream or serve with a scoop of vanilla icecream for extra taste and fun!