Her experiments with capsicum

Anushree Agarwal Sep 15, 2015, DHNS

EXPERT Susheela Srinivas
As an entrepreneur, I have a hectic schedule but my mantra has been one of work-life balance and cooking for my family has always been a priority. Everyone at home enjoys sumptuous and nutritious meals, thanks to my culinary skills. My children have also understood the nutritive values and benefits of home-cooked food and show enthusiasm to cook. I surprise my friends too with new dishes each time they come over.

I find cooking very relaxing and rejuvenating after a hard day’s work. The creativity involved in the process gives me a high. I enjoy experimenting with fusion foods.

For instance, I like to prepare Chinese with my own special touch and often toss some peanuts in the noodles and fried rice.

I like making different flavours of pastas and sometimes add a dash of garam masala to it for a unique taste. Often, I try my hand at creating innovative soups– I once threw in some fried noodles in a spinach soup; it was nice, homely and tasted good.

Every time I go to the supermarket, I get drawn to the vegetable section– what attracts me is the colourful palette of the capsicums. The vibrant colours of green, red and yellow are magnetic to me. I never come back without buying some of these, inspite of the prices!

What’s good is that the local markets also stack the red and yellow capsicums now– ripened versions of the green ones, separated and sold at a throwaway price. That suits me very well!

Also called bell peppers, capsicums are one of my favourite vegetables. The mere sight of these stirs the creativity in me.

They always inspire me to create a new, interesting dish. My fridge may have some other vegetable missing but it is always stocked with some capsicums.

While picking out the firm, luscious pieces, I make a mental outline of how I am going to churn them out this time. I love their mild flavour, versatility and crunchiness.

To me, capsicums are the best in the pepper family. Thankfully, my family likes them as well and I get ample opportunity to prepare something different for them each time using these!

Capsicum is such a versatile vegetable that it can be tossed into a crunchy salad, used to make a colourful dip (red, yellow and green), stuffed whole to make yummy stuffed delicacies, fried into ‘bajjis’, added to ‘paneer’ dishes, ‘palyas’ and ‘sambar’ or cooked on its own…the list is rather endless. Recently, I came up with a nice chutney recipe made using red bell peppers.

It is an interesting accompaniment for a variety of dishes and goes well with most things. Perhaps, a dash of it can go into ‘bhel’ too. As it is not cooked much, the nutritive values are retained. It can be prepared in a jiffy, using common everyday ingredients in the kitchen.

Recipe

Red bell pepper chutney

Ingredients

1 large red bell pepper – cleaned and roughly chopped along with seeds
2 green chillies and 2 red chillies
½ tsp roasted methi powder
1½ tsp roasted sesame (til or ellu) powder
Salt to taste
A pinch of turmeric
A small ball of tamarind or 2 tsp tamarind extract
1 tbsp oil
A few sprigs coriander leaves.

For seasoning

11/2 tbsp oil
¼ tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp channa dal
A few curry leaves

Method

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Sauté the bell pepper pieces for 3-4 mins. Remove and cool. Fry the chillies in a little oil and set aside. In a mixer jar, add chillies, roasted powders, salt, turmeric, coriander, tamarind and grind to a fine paste. Now add the bell peppers and grind coarsely. This chutney tastes good when it is chunky, so grind accordingly. Remove and add seasoning of mustard, channa dal and curry leaves tempered in oil. Serve with rice, roti, dosa or idli.

Tip: This chutney can be used as a spread on toast. It has a mild flavour so it goes well with cheese sandwich as the secret spread. It also makes an excellent dip for nachos and fries. For both these purposes, skip the seasoning. Grind to a fine paste. Add a few drops of lemon juice for that extra zing.


(The author can be reached at sushsri@gmail.com)

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