Black Eyed Pea & Raw Mango Salad

IMG_0246

We’ve moved into May and it’s not getting any cooler. And my earnestness to cook as little as humanly possible is not slowing down either.

As you may have inferred from the last few posts, summer in my kitchen = salad. I sometimes eat leftover salad for breakfast, with a cold hard-boiled egg sliced in. The great thing about salads is that if they if greens aren’t the core ingredient, chances are, they’ll keep longer. Which is why I use a lot of dried beans and legumes as a base for salad. Chickpeas are great, and rajma or kidney beans can also be used to make a great salad- especially if you want to switch up your routine from regular rajma-chawal.

Lobia or black eyed peas are as good a dried bean as any to make a salad. I usually cook them rajma-style, putting everything- the lobia, spices, tomatoes, et al- into the pressure cooker and letting it whistle away for a while, and then eating the curry with rice or roti.

But then that can get boring.

So I took it upon myself to make lobia fun and colourful! The peas are quite pretty to look at on their own- what with their little black eyes and creamy skin- and they are a solid structure for a filling salad.

Of course, when you begin to type black eyed peas into Google, you will invariably end up being directed to the band, not the legume. So after I Googled black eyed pea recipes, I found my way, as I usually do, to Food52. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother Googling when I can just search straight on Food52. An article for One Pot Of Black Eyed Peas, 5 Dinners linked me up with 101 Cookbooks. If there’s a tastier way to eat a whole grain, legume, leaf or egg, then Heidi Swanson has been there, done that.

Swanson paired her cooked beans with curry powder, red onions, lentils and ginger- so some spice and sharpness to balance the creamy cooked beans.

I decided to make it a little more tropical, adding raw mango or kairi, and some cucumbers and red onions. I like adding to kairi salads- it adds a nice bite and tartness and sharpness that lends an element of surprise 🙂 I wanted the flavours to be reminiscent of som tam, but without any soy or fish sauce. I stuck to a coconut-chilli-lime dressing and lots of fresh mint, cilantro and crushed toasted peanuts, for a little Thai flavour note.

 BLACK-EYED PEA & RAW MANGO SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cooked and drained black-eyed peas
  • 1/2 cup cubed raw mango
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • A handful each of cilantro and fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
  • 1/4 cup crushed toasted peanuts

For The Dressing

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp  lime juice
  • 1-2 tbsp honey/brown sugar/coconut sugar, depending on how sweet you like things
  • 1-2 tsp chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

  • Put all the salad ingredients in  large bowl and toss well to combine.
  • Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl until evenly incorporated.
  • Pour dressing over the salad and serve chilled.
Advertisements

Beetroot Gazpacho

As you may have inferred from my last few posts- it is getting uncomfortably warm in these parts. Just really, really still, dry heat; the kind that drains you and makes you want to jump into a pool any chance you get. Hence, I feel the need to consume lots of coconut water and lime juice and prepare meals which are light on the stomach and cold on the tongue.

Salads are great, and I do love them- but the heat called for something really, really  cold; and a chilled soup seemed like a better option. Plus, sometimes it’s nice to take the easy route and make a blender do a bulk of the work. 😀

I’ve never made a gazpacho before, even though I’ve watched it being made on television, listened to podcasts outlining the perfect gazpacho, and saved numerous recipes to my Evernote. I haven’t attempted any of those, so in some ways, this is my “gateway” gazpacho.

IMG_0297

I decided to make this because I didn’t have any bread for a regular gazpacho, but I had a pair of beets. I always have beets in my fridge. You’d think that the one constant ingredient in my fridge would be eggs or bread or limes or herbs, but in my case, it’s beets. I buy them each week, so there’s always a spare beet nestled somewhere in the crisper, patiently waiting it’s turn as the kale, spinach, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes make their way to our plates first.

When it comes to vegetables that are always stocked in my kitchen, the list looks something like this:

  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets

Potatoes-onions-tomatoes are a must in any Indian kitchen. My son loves cucumbers and eats a plateful of sliced cucumbers everyday with salt and pepper, so there must always be a handful in the crisper. And beetroots are great because they stay well (they don’t seem to spoil as easily as other vegetables,) plus, they are so cheap year-round. And  they are so, so good for you! I can make them Kerala-style, as a thoran or pachadi; I can roast them whole, boil them and pour some brown butter over for a warm salad- beets are a very versatile vegetable. And great for juicing, too!

So, continuing with my no-cook theme, I zoned in on the beetroot gazpacho recipe from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals. Except there was some cooking involved- I parboiled the beetroot. My blender is a regular one, not a Vitamix, and I don’t own a food processor either, so I wasn’t sure how well raw beets would break down. Other than the boiling, all you do is blitz the stuff you see above in a food processor or blender and push it through a sieve. I swapped the sherry vinegar in the original recipe for balsamic- because that’s what I had. And since the soup is a deep purple anyway, the balsamic doesn’t discolour it, just adds a really nice depth of flavour.This soup is refreshing with a nice, bright flavour- no single ingredient overpowers, it all comes together to make a nice, mellow cool spoonful.

I finished mine with a touch more acid- some lemon- and a pinch of pink Himalayan salt, because I got a phancy little box with assorted salts. And why not add some pink on top of purple?

IMG_0228

BEETROOT GAZPACHO (Adapted from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals)

INGREDIENTS

  • 300 g beetroot
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes
  • 100 g cucumber, skin removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • A squeeze of lime
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

METHOD

  • Peel the beetroot and plunge into boiling water. Cook for a few minutes until tender; a knife should be able to go through easily but not all the way through.
  • Allow the beetroot to cool, then roughly chop it.
  • Combine the beetroot, cucumber, red pepper, cherry tomatoes and garlic in a food processor or blender and blitz for a few minutes until smooth. Add a little cold water if necessary to make it all come together. (I had to as my blender isn’t very powerful.)
  • Pour the puree through a sieve set atop a large bowl. Press down against the mixture with the back of a spoon to get all the liquid through.
  • Stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled, with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salt and pepper on top.

Roasted Tomato & Lentil Soup

20150224_122954

I’ll admit I have a short temper. Sometimes it’s with an applicance that doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s triggered by muddy shoe tracks around the house. Sometimes by my son, who is being his 3-yr-old self but making a mess and racket while doing so. I try to work on it as much as I can- but there are times when I blow my fuse.

Cooking and being in the kitchen, however, makes me forget whatever it was that made me angry. I’m happy to toss a salad. Shake some vinaigrette together. Chop some onions into half-moons, dice tomatoes and slice cucumbers. And if my son has been punished, then a snack is what is produced as a peace offering.

Happy as I am to prep, chop, cook and stir, there are days when I take the lazy route- that is, cooking without having to stand over the stove for too long. For me, lazy cooking is about chopping some vegetables, roasting them in the oven, and tossing them with pasta, creating a salad, or blitzing everything into a soup.

The great thing about roasting veggies in the oven is that the oven does all the work for you…the natural sugars come alive, the juices come out and the vegetables just dress themselves, absorbing all the lovely flavours of the herbs and oil.

 

20150303_153822

If you think garlic sautéing in butter/olive oil is one of the nicest (savoury) aromas, think again. Tomatoes and peppers roasting in the oven with rosemary is an aroma that can make any stomach growl. Ever since I tried Clara’s blistered cherry tomatoes, I’ve had a weakness for roasting tomatoes in the oven- big and small. I agree, cherry tomatoes look prettier when roasted and paired with pasta or a topping for a tartine, but when you are roasting tomatoes for a soup, it doesn’t matter. I also found these red chillies in the market earlier this week, and was a little undecided about what to do with them.

20150228_121550

Anita suggested pickling them, which I intend to do, but I was impatient to get cooking with them, so I slit, de-veined and de-seeded them, tossed them with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, thyme and crushed pepper, and put everything in a 200 degree oven for 40 minutes, with a gentle toss and massage after 20 mins.

Once done, I blitzed everything in a blender with a little water, and added the mix to a pot of simmering lentils- dinner is done.

ROASTED TOMATO & LENTIL SOUP

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 2 medium red chilli peppers, halved, deveined and de-seeded
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, fresh or dried
  • A good grinding of black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup red lentils or husked masoor dal
  • Water for boiling

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 200 C.
  • Place the tomatoes, peppers and garlic in a roasting tray/baking dish and toss with the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper till well coated.
  • Place in the oven for 40 minutes, checking on them after 20 mins and giving everything a quick toss.
  • Once cool, place everything in a blender and blend, adding a little water, till smooth.
  • Place lentils in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Simmer on medium-low heat until lentils are tender, skimming off the foam at the top periodically. Once the lentils are tender, add in the tomato-pepper puree and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes more. Add more water or vegetable stock if necessary.
  • Season with more salt and pepper if you wish, and drizzle some olive oil over the top before serving.