Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blog Title Update

Believe it or not, the last post was my 100th post on this blog.

Several people (for a while now) have commented that my blog title is grammatically incorrect and too long. OK, I give in.

My blog title will change from "Not Just Boil Water" to "Chez Thuỷ". Thuỷ being my Vietnamese name, this title simply means my home.

I like what I've been doing so far. But I hope that starting from now, my posts will be better in content. So I might not be able to post as frequently, but that is less important.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Strawberry & Pistachio Kulfi

One day we went to Mahabaleshwar to pick strawberries. Mahabaleshwar is a hill station about 100km south west of Pune. Gorgeous sceneries, strawberries and honey are what attract tourists to this mountainous town, once a summer vacation spot for the Bombay province during the British Raj.

High altitude gives Mahabaleshwar a temperate climate, perfect for growing berries. All sorts of strawberries are grown here, from the everyday to those exported to the Middle East, as the best fruits of India mostly travel that way.

We stopped at a strawberry farm. While a field worker took us to the back to pick strawberries, the rest of them continued to sort mounds of strawberries into various piles, ready for resale. Our guide showed us which strawberries are for sale locally and which are for export only. I like the little ones, not too sweet but full of flavor.

We took home 3 boxes, plenty to munch on and enough to make kulfi too. Kulfi is Indian ice-cream, made from sweetened condensed milk. It is notable for its super sweet taste, just the way Indian people like it. For your personal sweet tooth, I suggest you taste the product as it is thickened. If it is a bit sweeter than you would like, then it will come out to your liking as it freezes.

Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe for strawberry & pistachio kulfi
2 cups or 1/2 liters of milk
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
About 20 pistachios, shelled
5 green cardamoms
100 gr of strawberries

Shell the green cardamoms and grind into a powder. Grind the pistachio coarsely. Add both ingredients to the milk and bring to a boil. Over medium-low heat, let the milk reduce to about half the volume and add the condensed milk. Taste and adjust it to your preference. Continue to stir until the milk mixture thickens. It should look like a custard mixture.

Let the milk cool completely. Chop the strawberries into small pieces. Add the strawberries to the milk, stir well and pour into moulds. Freeze well.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Indian Spiced Pickled Lemons

Again, we have too many lemons this year. I know, I know, what is there to complain about... But I feel wasteful if I let them rot. And even if I let them be, they will fall on the ground and make a mess too. Niru jokingly calls this a first-world problem.

The other day, we finally cut down both lemon trees to make room for them to grow. They had clambered past the gate and hogged all the space from the neighboring plants. We gathered all the fruits and I turned them into all kinds of pickles. Indian spiced pickled lemons, Indian sweet pickled lemons, Vietnamese pickled lemons. Rows and rows of pickled lemon jars in my fridge!

So we won't have any lemon for a year or more. No worries: my neighbors have a few lemon trees; my friend does too! Friend already said to come and get them whenever I want. Life is good, isn't it?

Recipes for Indian pickled lemons vary from region to region, probably from home to home too. This one is pared down a bit in number of ingredients. I strive to make it more simply but still flavorful and representative of Indian pickled lemons.

12 small lemons or limes
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup red chilli powder
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
Lemon juice
2 tbsp cooking oil

Cut the lemons into small pieces. Mix together the salt, sugar, and chilli powder.

Heat the oil in a pot, throw in the mustard seeds until they start to pop. Add the turmeric powder and fenugreek powder and stir until fragrant. Arrange the lemon pieces in a sterilized jar. For every inch or so of lemon, add a spoon of the oil mixture and the salt mixture. Finally, add the lemon juice to cover the lemon pieces. Traditionally, you leave the jar of pickled lemons out under the sun to let them cook for a month or two. I choose to omit this step because I am lazy and I find the taste still very appealing.

If you have canning equipment, then you can store it at room temperature. If not, after a couple of days, store the pickled lemons in the fridge. They are ready to eat after a couple of months.

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