March 19, 2010
Occasionally I come home to a fragrant meal and I know that dinner must be special on such nights as my husband was home and decided to cook dinner for us. He was busy in the kitchen when I got back from work this evening....he was marinating a salmon fillet and I found some interesting spices on the counter - cumin, capers, chilli powder - I had never thought of that combo before and wondered why couldn't I be more imaginative. I have to admit that he is creative (I know he'll read this post and brag about his cooking!). Well, an hour later the salmon fillet was in the oven and the aroma was making me ravenous, and I couldn't wait to sit down to dinner. I got a simple green salad ready, and knew that I had a blog post for tonight.
We are big on spices - bold and earthy. Both of us love chillies, and at any given time you will find our fridge stocked with fresh green chillies (the thin green ones from the Indian grocery stores). Jalapeno peppers are not so popular in our kitchen but chilli powder - extra hot - is in stock always and used liberally in our curries and stews. Dried red chillies be they Mexican or Indian are part of our spice mixtures too. Coming back to the salmon, the cumin and capers were spices from two different worlds but found a common ground when mixed with the fresh garlic, chilli powder, salt and olive oil.
What can I say - the salmon was simply out of this world and a winner- done to perfection and flaked easily with a fork. The spices had blended so well and formed a delicate crust around the salmon. This was something I could never have imagined - yes, we need to imagine the food we eat to dream up recipes and variations to recipes, isn't it? And, if you are planning up this salmon recipe, here is what you need:
One large or two medium salmon fillets
3-4 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp chilli powder
1tsp roasted cumin seeds
1 tsp capers
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the garlic, chilli powder, roasted cumin seeds, capers, salt, and olive oil to form a paste. Smear the paste liberally on the salmon and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on your patience!). Place on a baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes until the salmon flakes easily with a fork. Remove and set aside for 15 minutes. Serve warm with a salad or vegetable stir fry.
March 8, 2010
Okra is one of my favorite veggies and I end up cooking okra very often. Since there is an ongoing request for new flavors and variety, I make okra sambar, poriyal, pachadi, etc. For the non-Indians reading this post, these are all typical South Indian preparations. In North India, okra fry is very common, as is stuffed okra. I make dal and bhindi with rotis and rice very often. Today I had tender okra and decided to stuff them with spices. It is a time-consuming chore, but definitely worth the effort. Cleaning and slitting the okra takes time, then you have to have your spice mix ready to begin stuffing and when all the okra are stuffed, frying begins.
To prepare stuffed okara, you need:
1 lb. okra, prepped and slit vertically
Oil for frying
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder (dried mango powder)
1/2 tsp fennel powder
1/2 tsp salt
Mix the spices for the masala stuffing and keep aside. Stuff the masala into the slit okras and arrange in a skillet. Drizzle oil over the okra and pan fry until brown and the okras are no longer slimy. Stir the okra gently to brown all sides. We enjoy these okras with rice, roti and dal. Today it was channa masala (garbanzo curry) and stuffed okra.