Monday, November 28, 2011

Coriander Leaves Saar (Kothmiri Saaru)

Saar/Saaru, a soupy vegetable broth supplemented with spices and condiments is my all time favorite. I think its genes, because my Ma also loves the combination. She makes this Saaru often when we wish for lighter, simple satisfying meals. I had a huge stash of Coriander leaves which needed attention, so simply made Kothmiri Saaru for a hearty meal. Kothmiri is Coriander leaves, I use Coriander leaves and stems for making this delicious broth, you could omit the coconut if you wish to, however the Saaru broth becomes rich upon adding coconut. One could also use coconut milk instead of using grated coconut.

~ Kothmiri Saaru ~
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Coriander leaves and stem - 3/4 cup
Grated coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies - 2

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Red Chilli (split into two) [optional] - 1

Grind grated coconut, coriander leaves and stems and green chillies to a smooth paste. Sear the green chilli in little oil before grinding if you want less spicy flavor. Bring this to a boil, add 1/2 cup of hot water and adjust the consistency desired. Add salt and bring to a rolling boil. Simmer on low flame till the broth gets completely cooked and turn off the flame. In a separate frying pan, heat few spoon of oil, season with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Pour this seasoning on the cooked broth and cover with a lid. Mix while serving with cooked white rice and vegetable side dish of choice.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Indian Ber & Lemon Pickle (Tarne Bor Limbe Nonche)

The combination of Ber and Lemon is unorthodox but I combined both to mesh the textures of two different kind of fruits which hold well for any kind of pickling process. Ber (tender) has a Granny Smith Apple texture minus the sweetness and Lemon has a citrus aroma with a crunch hard to miss. The Lemon peel pickled well in the liquor. I used a process called Maceration where the fruit is soaked in liquor of choice for few days before finishing the dish. The tissue of the fruit gets broken down by the acidic agent and hence well absorbs the flavour. The flavour was similar to my Ma's Bilimbi Pickle.

Ber enabled me to reminisce childhood memories once again. My high school was perched at the foot of a tall, steep hill which had Hanuman temple atop. The school compound stretch was dotted with Ber (Bor) trees which were laden with beautiful round leaves and tons of thorns. During the season, which began during winter, the ripe fruits would ooze sweet scent and all kids would throng to pluck those within reach. We also had fruit vendors who would sell Ber in a paper cone. They were marble ball sized, juicy to the core, sweet and tangy. Ma often dissuaded us from eating the Ber that grew in our school campus and began buying them from local market since we liked it lot. The ripe ones need close examination as they are often infested with worms. I once encountered one with worms and that was the end of my Ber eating saga. As I grew up, I spotted larger version of Ber which were from hybrid versions but not as tasty as the ones I had when I was a kid.

The shelf like of this pickle is 2 weeks maximum, so making a small batch seems best.

~ Ber Lemon Pickle ~
Preparation time: 5 days (including the maceration time)

Processing time: 20 minutes

Indian Ber [tender] (chopped into tiny cubes) - 5
Lemon Peel (chopped into tiny cubes) - 2

For Maceration -
Lemon juice - juice of 2 Lemon's
Red Chilli powder (hot variety) - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - Just a pinch

For Seasoning -
Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp approx.
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp

Wash and air dry the vegetables to dry off any moisture. Extract the juice of Lemon's and chop the peel and Ber into tiny cubes discarding the core (seed). Macerate with lime juice, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt. Store in a cool dry place and stir once every day for a week. End of the week, heat oil in a deep frying pan and once the oil is hot enough, season with mustard seeds. Once the seeds begin to pop, turn off the flame and allow to cool completely. Pour the seasoning on the macerated fruits and mix well.

Note - Do not pour the seasoning immediately on the macerated fruits as they could begin cooking owing to the heat of the oil. Store in refrigerator if dwelling in hot terrains.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jujube (Indian Ber/ Indian Plum)

I am back after a brief hiatus. A long ghastly spell of flu and throat infection kept me away from the blog. The weather went crazy with October snow and sudden drop in temperature. I am still on the road to recovery albeit much better now. We had a quiet sombre Diwali celebration owing to the death of a close relative. I made couple of sweets for Diwali which I will post soon.

Recently, I found Tender Indian Ber (Tarne Bor) at Indian store. At first I was led to believe that they were Hog Plums (Ambado) but then on close examination, they were the tender version of Indian Ber (Bor). They are known and available as Ber in India; the popular names are Jujube/ Ber/ Indian Plum.

Jujube/ Indian Plum/ Ber
is a fruit which hits the market during winter time or early summer depending on the crop and yield. The ripe fruit and unripe fruit are both relished by kids and adults alike. The unripe fruit is pickled in salt water or sold as candies in the market in some regions in India. The ripe fruit is also preserved and used as a acidic/ souring agent for culinary use, but mostly relished and eaten on its own in India.

The medicinal value of the fruit is unprecedented and not known by many. The ripe fruit is of great medicinal value and supports blood pressure lowering, aids stomach and diarrhoea infection, cures sore throat and regulates excess bile secretion. The unripe fruit on the other hand causes throat pain and sore throat if eaten in excess. The fruit is applied on cuts and wounds and the leaves are also loaded with medicinal properties and deemed edible in some cultures and geographies.