Friday, March 28, 2014

Beating the heat - Shikanji-seller near Red Fort

Summer is here! So I thought I'd post a cooling image for the hot days ahead!
Shikanji is hugely popular in Delhi, you will see hand-carts selling Shikanji everywhere. The drink is primarily lemon-juice and water, to which sugar, black salt and mint is added. Often there is cumin and ginger also. Each shikanji seller has his own balance of ingredients, making for a non-standardised but always yummy taste. It's a great way to replenish the electrolytes that you lose in the heat. In some larger stalls, it is served with soda, instead of water.

If you want to try making it at home, you can go to the market and ask for Jain Shikanji Masala. All you need to do is add lemon-juice and water or soda to it, and adjust the sugar levels to your liking. Garnish with mint.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stuffed and baked capsicum (green bell peppers) - desi-style

Yesterday I made these stuffed capsicum (green bell peppers), and they turned out pretty yummy, so I thought I'd post the photo here.

These are perfect when you have guests for lunch and you want to make something that looks fantastic, but is really quite easy to execute. And they're baked, and have very little fat/oil, so it's guilt-free too.

Before and after baking

For the base:
3 or 4 bell peppers, sliced in half, and the inside scooped out

For the stuffing: 
  • Boiled potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
  • Cottage cheese (we made it at home, but you can buy it at the store) - as much as you like, but around one-third the amount of potatoes is good.
  • Green chillies - 1 chilli, sliced into tiny, tiny, bits
  • Fresh coriander - a handful, including stems, again sliced into tiny bits
  • Cumin powder, Coriander power, Red chilli powder - to taste (I used about half tea-spoon of each)
  • Amchur (dried mango) powder - half tea-spoon
  • Salt - to taste
I've seen recipes with more ingredients in the stuffing - typically, ginger and onions. Some recipes have peas. There are no rules, you can pretty much experiment with whatever you like.

How to make (easy-peasy):
Crumble the cottage cheese, potatoes, add all the stuff above to it, then pack it inside the bell pepper. There's no need to pack super-tight. Put some oil or butter or ghee on top of the stuffing (I didn't do it). Pre-heat oven at 180 C, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the skin of the pepper becomes wrinkly, the way it is in this photo. Serve immediately, when it is hot.

You can garnish with coriander or sprinkle chaat masala before serving. Also towards the end of the baking, you can sprinkle cheese on top and melt it if you like. We ate it with triangle-shaped parathas, dal spiced with jeera, garlic and red chillies, kachumer (salad of cucumber, onion, tomatoes), rice, yoghurt and pickle.