May 21, 2011

Capsicum Masala Rice!

Someone I work with brought this for lunch one day, and declared it her new favourite thing to eat, so I had to try it. The video is worth a watch, because the written instructions are full of hilariously unhelpful things like "fry further for another minute till the rawness disappears and the flavors come out", and if you can understand Chef Sanjay's accent, the visuals and spoken instructions will help clarify the confusing and contradictory bits in the written ones.

Capsicum is called "bell pepper" in Canada and America (and possibly other places, too); I never heard the word until I went to New Zealand, where I embarrassed myself by asking "what's capiscum?" at a pizza place, since every pizza featured it.

Capsicum Masala Rice

Step 1: Cook rice to make 3 cups of cooked rice.

Step 2: While that's cooking, make the masala
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black gram daal (I couldn't find these, but the end result was fine anyway)
  • 4-5 dried red chilies (to taste), or red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon bark/stick
  • 10-12 fresh curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated coconut (optional)
Heat a pan to medium and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black daal, cinnamon stick, and dried chilies, and dry-roast for a few minutes. Add the peanuts and curry leaves and toast a few minutes more, taking care not to cook past 'aromatic' to burnt. The curry leaves will get crisp.

Remove from the heat and let cool.

Step 3: While that's cooling, cut up the bell peppers. The recipe says slice thinly, but I just diced them (as he does in the video) to be more fork-friendly with the rice, and I used a combination of colours, also as suggested in the video.

Step 4: In a food processor, grind the cooled masala to a coarse powder.

Step 5: Saute the peppers in a bit of ghee or butter, to tender-crisp. Add the masala and mix well.

Step 6: Mix with the rice, and serve. Delicious!

I mixed a little plain yogurt with a little garam masala to cool the heat a little bit (I have a sensitive mouth for 'hot'), and it did admirably. This is a delicious dish, even without the black gram daal (which I couldn't get except in catering-pack quantities) and the cinnamon bark (which I forgot to add).

Delish. Highly recommended. Might well go into our regular rotation when Indian food is on the menu.

Taking (or making) Stock

*blows dust off this blog*  (Hey, the tag line does say 'recidivist'.)

Oh, hi! It's been a while, hasn't it? This is only the third post this calendar year! Yes, well, obviously I haven't been doing much in the way of new and interesting cooking. Isn't it sad? I don't know why I lose my interest in cooking when the weather is cold and there's not as much fresh produce available... oh wait. Yes, I do know. It's because I'm better with summer produce than with winter. Also because my Beloved isn't much of an experimenter with That Which is Strange To Him (because by definition it must also be Highly Suspect), and with just the two of us here, it's easier to stick with what's known, no matter how boring it might be.

So anyway. I've been a member of Rouxbe Online Video Cooking School for almost a year, and I'm sorry to say that, after a period of deep entrenchment, I have kind of let things slide for a while. But I went back this week, because I've had a hankering to make some stock. And since I didn't really have any suitable bones, I went for vegetable stock.

I've never made stock before. Well, unless you count boiling the Thanksgiving turkey carcass and calling the resultant liquid stock. Which I used to, but now I know better. (For one thing, boiling = bad when making stock.)

So I used the Rouxbe recipe for vegetable stock as a guideline, and it's simmering on the stove as I speak. (Bloody thing hit a boil while I wasn't looking, but I think I caught it quickly.)

I peeled and chopped carrots, parsnips, onions, and a pretty sizeable kabocha squash. Their recipe calls for celery root and leeks, but my local supermarket didn't have either of those, so I used fresh celery instead, and shrugged about the leeks. (Note to self: next time you do this, go to the veggie market not the supermarket. PS: try to make that a habit anyway you lazy thing.)

Next, I roasted the vegetables. This is an optional step, but I figured, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I tossed it all in enough olive oil to coat but not drown, topped with a few heads of garlic sliced in half horizontally, and off it all went, in to a 400-degree (F) oven, for as long as that might take.

It didn't take long. The garlic was golden before anything else, so I plucked the heads out and chucked them in my stock pot, then stirred the rest of a bits to turn them, and put them back in the oven for a few minutes, before removing them, too, and plunking everything - now delightfully soft - into the stock pot.

I topped all of this with some roasted corn on the cob (cut into 1.5-inch slices) and roasted tomatoes (quartered and seeded), which I had to roast separately because my oven wasn't big enough for that many pans at once. Then added water to cover the veggies by about two inches. Then added a bouquet garni of fresh parsley, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, and a bit of dried thyme (because I didn't have, and couldn't find, fresh when I was out shopping yesterday).

I can't smell it from here, in the living room, but up close it's fantastically aromatic and I'm looking forward to using it in something. Goodness knows what, but I'll think of something. It's got about another 40 minutes to simmer, and then I'll remove the solids, strain, and cool before storing. And I'll have made my first proper stock!