Tomato & Roasted Pepper Dip

Tomatoes are my favourite ingredient to work with. With an abundance of so many varieties available in supermarkets, it is interesting how different varieties result in getting different textures. I prefer the Plum, Roma or cherry tomatoes the most while cooking.

As a kid, I used to eat tomato ketchup with everything – be it fries, crackers, roti, bread, rice, crisps. I used to even put it in a bowl and just eat it as is. And who can forget painting lips with ketchup and licking it clean later. Yumm! Don’t judge me, we all have done crazy things as kids!

I think as a teen, I took a liking to Italian cuisine since they use tomatoes liberally in their sauce base and other wise. Picture Caprese salad looking pretty with rings of mozzarella nestled between thick slices of tomatoes cut round and with a generous drizzle of olive oil and basil leaves or give me tomato soup at the end of the day with toasted garlic bread on the side and I’m back to being my chirpy self again.

Dinner parties see me making this tomato dip often. This also happens to be a staple dip at home, I’d even eat this with dal (lentils) rice or plain roti (Indian flat bread).

Salsa

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Ingredients

5 large plum tomatoes finely chopped
1 medium red onion finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 Thai red chilly deseeded and finely chopped
20 ml olive oil
1/2 tsp rock salt
Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste (optional)

Blanch the tomatoes in warm water until the skin comes out clean. Let them cool and dice them finely. If you are running short of time, just chop them finely.

In a pan, warm the olive oil and add the thai red chillies. Do not deseed them since they impart the heat to this mixture. Once they splutter add the onion and cook them until they are translucent. If you would like to keep the heat quotient low, use cayenne pepper or red chilly flakes as per your preference.

Add tomatoes, cook them until they are mushy and leave the oil on the sides of the pan.

Add red bell pepper and cook them until they are soft. You can also toss them separately in a pan with little olive oil on high flame until they wilt. When I am not short of time I prefer roasting the bell pepper on high flame, peeling off the skin and then adding it to the tomato mixture. It gives a nice roasted flavor to the dip!

Season it well with salt to taste and pepper. You may also add dried herbs if you wish. I also add little garlic butter towards the end to give the mixture a glossy finish.

Dip & Dhokla

Serve with Crackers, Falafel, Pita Bread, Potato Wedges, Chips, Nachos or even Dhokla.

Spicy Peanut Balls

I like to work with left overs in the fridge. The most common left over in my kitchen happens to be cooked rice. Some days you do not want to go the traditional route and make a dal, curry or stew to go along with left over cooked rice from the night before.

Whenever I’m out at a book store I either gravitate towards the cook books featuring appetizers, baking, party food or books on entertaining and hosting dinner parties. I came across this recipe in “Party Food & Appetizers” and I immediately bookmarked it to try out later. I picked this cook book from Borders.

Cookbook

I have made this recipe many times with a slight changes and it has consistently been a crowd pleaser. It’s amazing how people try and guess what these were made with. I usually cook a batch of rice and leave it for 2 hours to cool at room temperature before I start making this. I first made this for a dinner party I hosted for my colleagues and served it with an assortment of dips to choose from like Creamy Spinach Dip, Homemade Hummus, Tomato Roasted Pepper Dip and Tzatziki.

Look wise they almost seem like “Falafel” but are crunchy and crumbly at the same time.

Spicy Peanut Balls1

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Ingredients

2 garlic cloves
1 tsp ginger
2 green chillies finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp coriander finely chopped
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup peanuts coarsely chopped
Bread crumbs as required
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

In a blender, put garlic cloves, ginger, green chillies, coriander, peanuts, sugar, turmeric powder and salt.

You can choose to dry roast the peanuts before hand. They would add to the crunch.

Blend well and now add soy sauce and lemon juice. If your guests can take spice, add chilli sauce. I prefer Nando’s Peri Peri sauce.

Add cooked rice to the mixture one cup at a time and blend until it turns in to a slightly sticky mixture.

Remove in a bowl and add bread crumbs as required for binding. I also use bread crumbs sparingly to coat the spicy peanut balls before deep frying. As per the original recipe, roasted peanuts were used to coat the balls.

Grease your palms with little cooking oil and shape in small round balls. Deep fry and serve hot with tomato ketchup.

Until next time happy cooking!

Creamy Spinach Dip


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Few weekends back saw me and hubby partying with my set of work colleagues. I get very excited for throwing house parties and love the entire ritual of deciding the menu, grocery shopping, having the cutlery sorted and having the house look prim and propah. I usually like to have elaborate appetizers hence the dips come in handy.

This dip has always been a hit whenever I throw house parties. This also happens to be husband’s favourite hence had to be featured. I love this for the creamy and buttery texture and the subtle flavour of white pepper powder which gives the much required kick to the palette.



10 parts Frozen Spinach / 2 bunches of Fresh Spinach Leaves
1 pack thick cooking cream (I used Puck’s)
50 ml Full Fat Milk
1 tsp Garlic Butter
2 tsp Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic crushed
1 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
Salt to taste

Heat Olive oil on medium heat in a saucepan.

Add crushed garlic and sauté for a minute.

Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out all the excess water and add the pan. Let it simmer for 2 mins. Don’t over cook the spinach else it will lose it’s bright green color.

Add sea salt and white pepper and mix it well. Lower the heat.

Dilute the cream with little milk, blend it well and add to the spinach mixture. Cook it for another 2 minutes and add milk.

Keep stirring the mixture continuously. When the cream becomes half, remove from heat.

Let the mixture cool completely and refrigerate it for a minimum of 2 hours.

Serve with Nachos, Crackers, Baby Carrots or Pita Bread. This dip can be stored for 3 days if refrigerated.

Vegetable Poha (Flattened Rice Flakes Cooked with Spices & Veggies)

This popular breakfast dish is made using flattened rice flakes also known as poha. These swell when water is added at room temperature as they are super absorbent.

Having born and brought up in Mumbai, I have had any variations of this yummy easy to make, light to digest snack. I have listed here the recipe my mother used to cook for us on Sunday mornings. Traditionally the dish is called “Kande Pohe” i.e. Flattened rice flakes cooked with spices and thinly sliced onions.

 

 

 

However my mother used to add lot of veggies so that we get our fill our nutrients. My brother was a fussy kid when it came to eating vegetables hence mum smuggled it into our lunch boxes by way of Pohe. She used to make a smiley face using tomato ketchup to distract my brother, so that he did not end up weeding out the veggies.

She used to dice the veggies, I have used finely chopped and shredded versions of the same. I have skipped french beans in the recipe. I hope you like it.

2 1/2 cup flattened rice flakes (Poha)
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 medium sized capsicum finely chopped
1 medium sized tomato finely chopped
1 big onion thinly sliced
2 green chillies finely chopped
7-8 curry leaves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp coriander powder
5 tsp canola oil
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Few sprigs of coriander leaves

Sprinkle water on the poha and mix it well and keep it aside for 20 minutes. Use water only to coat the poha well.
Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder to the poha and allow it to bloom. This is how it will look after this step.

 

In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies. Once they start popping add onions.
Cook onions until they are translucent and have a pale pink color.

 

Add tomatoes, cook until they are soft but let them not reach them to a level where they look mashed.

 

Add capsicum and carrot together and mix well. Now time to spice up things, add 1/2 tsp salt followed by all the spices.

 

Mix well and let the mixture cook for 2 minutes. Now add the poha and fold it in the vegetables lightly.

Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add juice of 1 seedless lemon and finish it with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with toasted bread with garlic butter and masala chai. This is a perfect and easy breakfast option to feed when you have guests.