Monday, November 24, 2008

Sweet Corn, Pepper & Pumpkin Stew

Winter evenings are magical, especially when you have a bowl of steaming "something" to warm your insides. No wonder people put on weight during the winter, my appetite seems to increase by leaps and bounds as the temperature drops. But winter is also when some of the best vegetables are available so it's also the best time to come up with healthy recipes.

I came across some fresh sweet corn on the cob at the local Mother Dairy and it was reasonably priced too - surprising considering even French beans are Rs. 40 a kilo!! So after my daughter polished off a couple of them - microwaved and buttered - I was wondering what to do with the rest.
I remembered a dish my friend made for lunch sometime back - it had sliced sweet corn on the cob in a thin gravy with coconut - apparently an African dish in origin. I also remembered seeing something with sweet corn and coconut on Cynthia's fabulous blog Tastes Like Home. I couldn't wait to ask either for the recipes - I wanted to cook it NOW!

So, I decided to make a stew. Stews are very can put pretty much anything you want in them, flavour and spice them as you like and it will turn into a dish you can peg into some kind of cuisine or the other.
I kept the spices to the minimum - bay leaf, garlic, chilli powder and thyme - and used a stock cube by Better than Bouillon. This is a brand which I have seen much recommended by Jai & Bee of Jugalbandi so when I was in London last month I made it a point to pick it up. It added lovely flavour to the stew and I don't think I will return to Maggi cubes till I run out of these!

Black eyed peas or chowli / karamani/lobia added some much needed thickness to the stew; I soaked them and cooked them in a pressure cooker for two whistles so that they would cook at the same pace as the vegetables in the stew. The sweet corn was simply amazing in the stew - juicy and dripping with flavour as you bit into the tender kernels. I served the stew with brown basmati rice. Perfect for the start of winter!

Sweet Corn, Pepper & Pumpkin Stew

1 big sweet corn-on-the-cob sliced
1 carrot chopped into big pieces
Pumpkin pieces - 1 cup
1 green pepper sliced
1 big tomato chopped
1 big onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt to taste
Olive oil - 1 tsp
1 stock cube dissolved in 500 ml of water (I used Better than Bouillon vegetable stock cube)

1/4 cup of black eyed peas (chowli/karamani/lobia)
soaked for 1 hour and cooked in the pressure cooker for 5-7 minutes (1-2 whistles) till just done

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add the bay leaf and after one minute add the garlic and onion and saute for 5 minutes.
2. Add the red chilli powder and the chopped vegetables (carrot, pepper, sweet corn,pumpkin) and the black eyed peas and the warm stock. Add salt and bring to boil.
3. Turn down the flame and cook covered on low for about 15 minutes till the vegetables are cooked.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and some dried thyme and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off and serve warm with brown rice.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I know I have been away for too long - this post has been languishing in my drafts for a whole month!! Blame it on work, travel, school admission stress and having a life outside of the blog! To make up - here is a simple but favourite of mine.

This post on stuffed jalapenos triggered a long lost memory of some amazing stuffed capsicums my mother used to make when we had just bought our new OTG (Oven-Toaster-Grill) so many years ago. Then the novelty wore off and with it the oven recipes too. My brother and I loved those cheesy potato stuffed morsels encased in the roasted cup of a capsicum. There is something completely addictive in that combination.....

I instantly abandoned the baingan bharta plan I had in mind for dinner and switched allegiances to the bell peppers instead. Boiled some potatoes, mashed them along with spices, stuffed them into the peppers, topped the peppers with cheese and baked them. In half an hour, there was my childhood memory on a plate - still as delicious as ever! Called my mother and told her about it - she was surprised I even remembered, she says she hardly made it a few times....I wonder what my daughter's favourite memories will be.

I had some stuffing left over so I decided to add some tomatoes - they were good, but not as good as the peppers. Though I know some people like tomatoes better.

I am definitely going to try the recipe with the cheese stuffed jalapenos. The different cheeses and jalapenos may be a bit difficult though, so I might do some tweaking of my own. The egg wash and bread crumbs is a good idea though.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers (Capsicum) - 6-8 small
Boiled potatoes - 4 medium
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
salt to taste
Oil to smear on the peppers
Grated cheese - 1/2 cup

1. Mash the potatoes and mix with red chilli powder and cumin powder and salt.
2. With a sharp knife, cut the tops of the peppers out and scoop out the seeds and stalks from inside without damaging the pepper.
3. Fill the peppers with the potato stuffing and top with grated cheese.
4. Smear the outside of the peppers with oil and then bake in a pre heated oven at 350F or 180 C for about 30 minutes, turning once in between.
5. Its okay if the peppers don't stand upright, if properly stuffed, the stuffing won't fall out.