There are perhaps 50,000 capsicum varieties grown worldwide and they have been classified under 5 major species of cultivated capsicums:
Have I bored you enough? :) So, I came across these peppers while grocery shopping at NTUC Finest in the east of Singapore last weekend. A young lady of perhaps 20 was dressed in a beautiful traditional Korean Hanbok and I was curious to see what she was promoting. At first sight, I was horrified at these chilli peppers! They were huge and looked quite menacing. But she laid my concerns to rest and claimed they were only mildly hot and that they taste very much like our regular capsicums. She had these lettle plastic cups with samples of these cut Dangjo peppers in a mild tomato gravy. I tried a small piece with a tissue on hand in case I needed to spit it out immediately.
Contrary to what I thought, it actually tasted yum! I was bought! The packet of around 15 of these premium peppers costed around $7.50 Singapore dollars but they are truly worth it. Plus, I wondered how long she must have been standing there the whole day and wondered if anyone had bought her pretty expensive bell peppers. I just wanted to help her out in her promotion.
Who says we can't mix Korean and Indian cuisine?
Today I tried making an Indian version of these peppers. It turned out quite delicious. The tomatoes added a sour taste to the peppers and it complemented their mild heat. My husband thought so as well. No way I could introduce peppers to my teen daughters! These Dangjo peppers are so versatile - because they are quite large, you could stuff them with tofu brown rice mix and bake them or you could even make a simple Chinese version by frying ginger and adding light soy sauce and serve them topped with toasted sesame seeds.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish)
300gm Dango Peppers cut at an angle
1 medium sized red onion, sliced
1 ginger garlic paste
1 to 2 tsp turmeric powder
1 to 2 tsp cumin powder
1 large ripe tomato sliced
Salt per preference
A sprig of coriender leaves, chopped roughly
This is a relatively easy recipe so I didn't take photos of the actual method.
1. Take a medium sized cooking pot and fry the sliced onion.
2. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a while.
3. Add the spices and salt and stir well.
4. The sliced tomatoes go in next.
5. After a few minutes when the tomatoes get pulpy, add in the sliced Danjo peppers and coriander leaves.
6. Stir, add half a cup of water and cover.
7. Cook till the Dangjo peppers are soft.
8. Serve it at your next gathering - I'm sure it will be a conversation starter!!
Now that my girls are vegans, I have to replace their favourite egg scramble with an alternative for their breakfast. My younger daughter Riya found a recipe online for tofu scrambled with just turmeric powder and salt. Just turmeric and salt? Wouldn't that be so bland and boring?
So, I added my own ingredients to make it tastier. I must say it did turn out quite delicious. Serve this tofu scramble with baked beans and vegan toast and you have a complete protein packed belly filling start to the day! Now, I make this quite often as it turned out to be a favourite with my family.
Ingredients (For 4)
2 blocks of firm tofu, mashed
2 tbsps of canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
1/4 of each red and green bell peppers, sliced thin
1 medium sized tomato, chopped small
1 sprig coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Chilli powder
1) Heat the canola oil in a large pot and fry the chopped onions for 3 mins on medium heat.
2) Add the sliced bell peppers and fry for another 3 minutes on medium to high heat. Its important the bell peppers are cooked before you add in the tomatoes.
3) Add in the turmeric, chilli powders and salt per your preference.
4) Add in the chopped tomato pieces and cook till it turns pulpy.
5) Finally add in the mashed tofu and mix well.
6) Cook till the mix is well incorporated, roughly 5-10mins on medium to low heat. Watch out for the mix sticking to the pot.
7) Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.
Kachumber is a salad dish which basically consists of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, fruits like pineapples all chopped and tossed with a lemon juice dressing. Its a good side dish which goes well with almost any main meal. I especially find that it pairs well with Vegetable Briyani. The simple light Kachumber balances the complex spice rich briyani well. The Kachumber salad can be made in advance and served just before the dinner/lunch begins. I'm not a fan of raw onions in salad because of the bad breath after. So, I have excluded it here. But, do go ahead to include a chopped onion if you would like.
1 pineapple, peeled and with the eyes removed
1 cucumber, peeled and deseeded
2 medium sized tomatoes, pulp removed
1/2 cup lemon juice mixed with a pinch of salt
1 red chilli, deseeded and cut into thin strips
A few mint leaves, chopped small
Chop all the ingredients into very small cubes and toss with the lemon juice.
Garnish with the chopped mint leaves and the chilli strips and serve with any main meal.
30 mins?? Impossible, you think? Yes, its possible. Using a kitchen equipment found in most Indian households. The one and only what we Indian cooks can't live without - the humble pressure cooker.
Pressure cookers are a godsend especially when we are short of time. Pressure cooking is the process of cooking food using water or any other liquid in a tightly sealed vessel called a pressure cooker. As the liquid boils, the trapped steam increases the internal pressure and allows the temperature to rise to a whopping 212 deg C! (See pic above) So, food is cooked so much faster and it saves time and energy. Almost any food that requires cooking in water can be cooked in a pressure cooker.
There are so many types of pressure cooker in the market. Cylindrical, pan shape, aluminium or non-stick base etc. The market is flooded. Purchase one based on your family needs.
30 min Vegetable Rice involved quick preparation and cooking. There I was wondering on a weekend afternoon at 12 noon what to cook for my family for lunch. I have seen many online videos about cooking our food in a pressure cooker and decided on this option, knowing the risk very well. Since its my first attempt, it can either become overcooked (too much water) and everyone will be having vegetable spiced porridge for lunch or worse undercooked (without enough water) and having carcinogenic burnt food instead. Not much of a choice I had at 12.15, didn't I? With a quick prayer I began....
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1.5 cups Basmati Rice (mix of brown and white)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped small
1 heaped tsp mix of ground ginger and garlic
1 green chilli, cut into 3
1 red chilli, cut into 3
2.5 tsps Veg Briyani spice powder (I used National Brand Veg Briyani Spice Powder)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of mixed frozen vegetables - peas, carrots, corns and french beans, thawed
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup of chopped mint and coriander leaves
2.5 cups water (split into 0.5 cup and 2 cups)
Salt per preference
200gm cubed cottage cheese (paneer cubes) - optional
Extra coriander leaves and a handful of roasted cashews for garnish
1) Firstly, wash and soak the Basmati rice for only 15 mins. Preparation of vegs will take up roughly 10 mins.
2) While the rice is soaking, heat the pressure cooker and fry the chopped onion, ginger garlic mix and both the chillies in oil for 5mins on medium high heat.
3) Add the Veg Briyani spice powder and fry for 2 mins.
4) Chopped tomatoes go in next. Stir often after adding them in, to prevent food from sticking to the base especially if you are using an aluminium pressure cooker. Fry for 3 mins.
5) After the tomatoes have cooked and turned mushy, add in the mixed vegs, coriander and mint leaves. Add 0.5 cup water and let the whole mix cook for 5 mins.
6) By now, the 15 mins would have been up. Drain the soaked rice and keep aside.
7) After the vegs have been cooking for 5 mins, add in the soaked drained rice.
8) Combine everything and add the cubed cottage cheese. I added these cubes for addition of protein. Its optional if you have boiled eggs and or other source of protein on the side. Do not add these cottage cheese cubes too early as they are very soft and will dissolve easily.
9) Add 2 cups of water and mix again.
10) Cover and cook on high heat. Once you get a first whistle, reduce fire to medium heat and wait for 2 whistles. Switch off the fire and let it cool down completely.
CAUTION - do not open the pressure cooker when it is still hot. The pressure inside is highly compressed and can be explosive. You can get badly hurt.
11) After it has cooled completely, open the lid and this is how it should look.
12) Enjoy scrumptious Vegetable Rice made under 30 mins!
Spinach & Cottage Cheese Gravy is often referred to as Palak Paneer in Hindi and is a very popular dish in the Indian cuisine. It is a vegetarian dish consisting of pureed spinach cooked with tempered spices and either cottage cheese cubes or potato cubes (I used both!). Because as both butter and cream are involved in making this dish, it can be rather heart unhealthy and should only be enjoyed occasionally. By the way, I used canola oil instead of butter and a lowfat (31% fat) version of the cooking cream. So we can call this Skinny Palak Paneer.
I had avoided attempting to make this dish as firstly I wasn't getting access to the spinach used in the authentic Palak Paneer and secondly assuming wrongly that it would involve a long cooking process. I realised only yesterday that I could just as easily substitute baby spinach and it actually is an easy quick dish to whip up.
Ingredients (2-3 servings)
100gm baby spinach
2 cups of ice cold water
200gm cottage cheese cubes (paneer cubes) or boiled potato cubes
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste
1 medium tomato, cubed medium
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
Salt per preference
1/3 cup low fat whipping/cooking cream (extra for garnishing)
1) Wash and drain the spinach. Cut the vegetables.
2) Steam the baby spinach in a covered pot instead of blanching them in hot water. This way you would retain the nutrients of the spinach.
3) After 3-5 mins, the spinach would be cooked and wilted. Drain and immediately pour ice cold water over them to retain that gorgeous green hue. Set aside.
4) Take a medium sized pot, heat the 2 tbsp canola oil and fry the cumin seeds, chopped onions, sliced chilli and ginger garlic paste. When the onions are light brown, add in the chopped tomatoes and cook till soft.
5) Blend this tomato onion mixture with the drained cooled spinach till you get a smooth paste.
6) Heat the same pan again, add another 2 tbsp canola oil and fry all the spice powders for 5mins.
7) Pour in the spinach blend and stir to mix well.
8) Add in the salt and cream.
9) Mix well and simmer for 5 mins.
10) Add either potatoes or cubed cottage cheese in and simmer for a further 3 mins.
11) Garnish with a swirl of cream. Serve hot with boiled Basmati Rice or wholewheat flatbreads called chapathis.
Hi guys! I'm Nilofar Iyer and I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family and friends with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.