MANGO GARLIC RELISH

Mango and Garlic Relish: A Pickle with a story

Mango and Garlic Relish: A Pickle with a story

Totapuri mango and garlic jam. Photo: Deepa Netto

Ingredients

I have the monsoons to thank for turning me into a cook. As children my sister and I spent summer holidays with Aaji and Ajoba at their small farm in Belgaum. The front of the plain, ranch-style house was framed by a lush rose garden interspersed with almond, pomegranate and lime trees. To the left of the house was a strawberry patch, and in the backyard, a vegetable and fruit orchard. Ajoba was a proud gardener whose produce competed for and won local awards.

When it rained, we couldn’t play outside so he offered us two choices – learn Sanskrit shlokas and refine the mind or learn cooking and refine the marriage resumes.

For me the choice was obvious.

The monsoons are a lean period for good produce so the months leading to it, especially May, were spent harvesting. Ours was a frugal household, and since most of what we ate during the rainy season came off the farm, we devoted salubrious afternoons to picking guavas, sapota (chikoo), mangoes and cashew apples.

You will have newfound respect for cashews when I tell you how strenuous the reaping is. First, the fruit is plucked off the tree with a diabolical looking hook attached to a long, wooden pole. Then the under-hanging cashew nut is ripped off. We sold the cashew apple to local feni producers, but kept the nuts. The cashew has a hard outer shell filled with a corrosive liquid. We’d slap our hands with oil and, sitting cross-legged on the tile floor, crack open every one of those 2,000 kernels to reveal a tender, crescent-shaped nut wrapped in wrinkled, brown skin. This skin had to be scraped off ever so gently so as not to break the cashew.

Throughout the monsoon Aaji turned these nubile nuts into lip-smacking fried masala cashews, farasbi kaju usal, moogache kaju dabdab, a Karwari specialty of curried bean sprouts that required us to peel the green husk off every single moong bean. This was the culinary equivalent of a Navy Seal training camp.

Flame red seedless papayas, (Ajoba called them disco papitas) grew abundantly, as did videshi panas (breadfruit), a meaty fruit Aaji sliced into kaape, dusted with semolina and pan fried.

cashew plant and seedless cashews

A cashew plant in the backyard & unshelled cashews (R). Photos: Tara Deshpande Tennebaum

Among the many bananas Ajoba grew were the small paper-skinned cardamom-scented Safed Velchis of Maharashtra, Karnataka’s highly-prized Chandrabale red bananas, and the unique Nanjangud (it received protected geographical status in 2005). They were whacked off early and hung up to ripen in ponderous bunches from a disused four-poster bed in the verandah. We took afternoon naps with our adopted stray dog, Brandy under this canopy of carbohydrates. Soft sunlight, a doggy to cuddle and the heady fragrance of sweet bananas made for excellent siestas.

These bananas were turned into hot fritters, halwa and banana dalchini jam. And you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a caramelised banana jam slathered over homemade white butter on a slice of Swamy Bakery’s coconut bread.

The pride of Ajoba’s garden, however were his mangoes. Some Badami, Raspuri, Totapuri but mostly Langda, the north Indian transplant grew inexplicably well in his garden’s black soil.

Belgaum is disputed territory, claimed by both Maharashtra and Karnataka. Ajoba, who was Marathi speaking, grew varieties of fruit from several states to please his palate and his patriotism. This resulted in delicious politics, the source of which was our maali, Ratan kaka. He had spent much of his life around vegetables that he’d acquired their qualities. A face as shriveled as bitter gourd and gait as curved as a marrow, he was a walking and mostly cussing, hybrid.

But he had veggie magic. Like some potion-brewing druid, he could talk to gourds, resurrect tomato vines even bring brinjal back from the dead. Such talent is alas also opinionated.

Kaka turned his nose up at any produce that wasn’t Kannadiga and because he was born in Maharashtra he was willing to make exceptions for Konkan breeds. When we asked him why Ajoba’s favourite mango was called Langda, (the word means lame,) he explained it was the deformed, treacherous, less good-looking brother of Hapus. Aah, the mango family is ruthless I’d thought, but in fact it was kaka. He despised Langda.

Ajoba had forbidden him from growing Alphonso. Kaka, who was originally from Ratnagiri, the home of Hapus couldn’t abide this lesser-known mango when by birthright he should have cultivated the King.

If the guavas were pitted, maali blamed Langda for poisoning the soil. If the strawberries were not sweet, it was Landga’s fault. Ajoba showed staunch loyalty to the Langda. The graft was a gift from a close friend and a happy reminder of his days in Delhi. “They have far more character of flavour,” he insisted.

But, there was a deep and dark secret the prize-winning cultivator didn’t want anyone to know – Hapus simply wouldn’t grow in his garden!

So, Badamis and Raspuris were turned into aamras, served with saucer-like puris that flew out of Aaji’s kadai onto our plates at the speed of light. Mangoes were also turned into pickles – methamba with fenugreek, sakharammba with saffron and my favourite, garlic and mango lonche. While Langda was reserved for ice-creams and chilled soufflés.

I’m convinced that the Marathi words ‘salsaleet’ and ‘zanzaneet’ were created for foods eaten during the monsoon – when it’s cold and wet outside you warm up to a sizzling, spicy dinner inside.

I remember we’d race up the hillock behind the farm to collect ‘Dongrachi Kali Maina’- the black nightingale of the rocks also known as Karvanda, a fruit that thrives in dry weather on prickly bushes. Wet, our clothes stained red by luscious berries we’d return home for a meal of baby eggplants stuffed with gode masala and steamy jowarichi bhakri. I remember my fingers, tender from the thorns tingling at the touch of those spiced eggplants.

In the monsoons you literally fritter away your time. Love of deep-fried snacks is a genetic Indian syndrome and resisting them is like trying to medicate for a common cold. Give in gracefully.

Onion bhajjis, crisp on the outside soft on the inside, and fragrant milk tea with pudina and ole chaha (lemongrass stalks) are irresistible on rainy days.

Aaji battered up a plethora of bhajjis and pakoras, rice flour chaklis, twisty kodbale, crunchy muduku, sweet corn vadis dotted with green chilies and mounds of masala sev.

She also made delicious guava jam and poached guavas, but it was her guava Sasav with prawns that stood out. Sasav, a thick, sweet and spicy curry that’s utterly delicious over boiled rice is a Saraswat specialty traditionally made with Kala Ishaad mango.

There was also a specialty called ‘shevra‘, or dragon stalk yam, which was chopped and stir fried with a rai-hinga phodni (mustard and asafoetida tempering), colocassia leaves were turned into alu wadi and baby methi was tossed with baby potatoes.

Interestingly, the monsoon brings several bitter vegetables to the table. Karela or bitter gourd, ambadi, chakwat, chuka, red and green Amaranthus leaves called Maath and Kardai (safflower) were all sautéed, turned into usals, rassas, palya bhajis, koshimbris or stirred into lentils and Shevya (vermicelli noodles).

The monsoon months of my childhood were intense lessons in cooking, eating and being blissfully happy.

My marriage resume thus fortified, I married a nice American boy from Minnesota. Ajoba would be relieved to know he loves Langda. Thathastu.

Mango and Garlic Jam (makes about 1½ cups of jam)

This is more a relish than a pickle and is excellent with pulao, bhaat, curd rice, plain flatbreads or a vegetable dish. It’s also excellent with cheese and crackers, roast chicken and grilled fish. You can use a variety of mangoes for this recipe.

Use mangoes that are still green and firm but avoid the totally raw, hard kairis.

Ingredients

4 unripe but not raw Langda or Badami mangoes

3/4 cup white granulated sugar

4-5 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed

3 inch cinnamon stick

1 tsp red chilli flakes (not chilli powder)

A pinch of salt

Instructions

1. Wash the mangoes. Grate them with the skin on. Discard the seeds.

2. Steam the grated fruit and chilli flakes for 5 minutes in a pressure cooker, rice cooker or steamer, without water.

3. Boil the sugar with 1 cup of water in a pan till thick and syrupy. Swirl pan if required but do not stir. Do not let the sugar brown.

4. Stir in the garlic and cinnamon. Continue cooking.

5. When the syrup is very thick, add the grated and steamed mangoes. Cook on high heat, till thick, swirling periodically to prevent burning.

6. Remove from heat and add salt and a little water if you prefer a thinner consistency.

7. Bring to a boil on high heat, reduce heat and simmer again for 8-10 minutes until thick and bubbly.

8. Remove the cinnamon stick. Bottle in a clean, airtight, sterilised jar while the relish is still hot.

9. Keep it refrigerated.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/mango-garlic-relish/

NIGELLA DIP WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND NIGELLA SEEDS

NIGELLA DIP WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND NIGELLA SATIVA SEEDS

NIGELLA DIP WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND NIGELLA SATIVA SEEDS

Ingredients

THIS IS A SIMPLE BUT RICH, DECADENT DIP FLAVORED WITH KALONJI OR NIGELLA SATIVA SEEDS. SERVE IT WITH ALL KINDS OF CHIPS, TOASTED PITA, AS BRUSCHETTA, WITH TOAST AND AS A SANDWICH SPREAD. THE KEY IS TO COOK THE ONIONS VERY SLOWLY UNTIL THEY GET SOFT, SWEET AND TURN A DEEP GOLDEN BROWN.

METHOD

400 GRAMS STRAINED FRESH, PLAIN YOGURT, CHILLED

2 TBSP COLD MAYONNAISE (EGGLESS OR WITH EGG)

200 GRAMS RED ONIONS PEELED, HALVED AND SLICED VERY FINELY INTO RINGS

2 TBSP BUTTER

3 TBSP VEGETABLE OIL

1/2 TEASPOON NIGELLA SATIVA OR KALONJI SEEDS

SALT TO TASTE

GARNISH

1/2 TEASPOON NIGELLA SATIVA/KALONJI SEEDS TOASTED

Instructions

HEAT THE OIL AND BUTTER IN A NON-STICK SAUCEPAN ON LOW HEAT. ADD THE ONIONS AND STIR WELL TO SEPARATE THE RINGS. ADD ONE TEASPOON SALT. COOK SLOWLY STIRRING FROM TIME TO TIME UNTIL ONIONS LOSE ALL THEIR WATER AND REDUCE TO ABOVE 1/3 THEIR ORIGINAL VOLUME.

THIS TAKES A GOOD 25-30 MINUTES SO YOU CAN DO OTHER THINGS WHILE THE ONIONS COOK. ITS ONLY THE LAST 10 MINUTES THAT THE ONIONS BEGIN TO BROWN QUICKLY AND YOU NEED TO BE WATCHFUL.

ADD THE NIGELLA SEEDS AND SAUTE UNTIL ONIONS AND GOLDEN BROWN, STICKY AND CARAMELIZED FOR ANOTHER 7-8 MINUTES. COOL THIS MIXTURE COMPLETELY.

WHISK THE CHILLED STRAINED YOGURT AND MAYO IN A MIXING BOWL. ADD THE COOLED ONIONS AND MIX TO INCORPORATE THOROUGHLY. ADJUST FOR SALT. GARNISH WITH NIGELLA SEEDS. LET SIT AT ROOM TEMPERATURE ABOUT 10 MINUTES BEFORE YOU SERVE IT.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/nigella-dip/

FLAME ROASTED RED PEPPER HUMMUS WITH POMEGRANATE

FLAME ROASTED RED PEPPER HUMMUS WITH POMEGRANATE

FLAME ROASTED RED PEPPER  HUMMUS WITH POMEGRANATE

Ingredients

THIS IS AN EASY DIP FOR A LARGE GROUP. IT ALSO MAKES AN EXCELLENT SANDWICH SPREAD.

SERVES 8 AS A DIP

250 GRAM CHICKPEAS SOAKED IN WATER OVERNIGHT

2 WHOLE RED BELL PEPPERS (OPTIONAL)

4 PEELED CLOVES OF GARLIC

SMALL PIECE OF PEELED ONION

3/4 CUP TAHINI

1 TSP RED HOT SAUCE OF YOUR CHOICE

2 TSP LIME JUICE

1 TABLESPOON POMEGRANATE MOLASSES (OPTIONAL)

1 TBSPN FRESH POMEGRANATE SEEDS (OPTIONAL)

SALT TO TASTE

GARNISH (OPTIONAL)

1/2 TBSP POMEGRANATE MOLASSES

1/4 CUP SHELLED POMEGRANATES

1/2 TBSP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

PINCH CAYENNE PEPPER

Instructions

DRAIN AND WASH CHICKPEAS AND PRESSURE COOKER WITH 1 TEASPOON SALT, ONION AND GARLIC IN 1 LITER OF WATER UNTIL EXTREMELY SOFT ON A MEDIUM FLAME. IF YOU DONT HAVE A PRESSURE COOKER DOUBKLE THE AMOUNT OF WATER COVER AND COOK IN A CAST IRON POT UNTIL CHICK PEAS ARE VERY SOFT.

ADD MORE WATER AND CONTINUE TO COOK IF CHICK PEAS ARE STILL FIRM. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO COOK THE CHICKPEAS UNTIL THEY START TO FALL APART. WHEN PRESSED BETWEEN YOUR FINGERS THEY SHOULD SHOW NO RESISTANCE.

WHEN COOKED DRAIN CHICK PEAS AND RESERVE THE LIQUID.

ROAST THE BELL PEPPERS OVER AN OPEN FLAME USING TONGS UNTIL COMPLETELY CHARRED AND SOFT.

COOL THEM, PEEL OR SCRAPE OFF BLACKENED SKIN, REMOVE SEEDS AND STALK AND RESERVE.

PUREE THEM WITH THE CHICK PEAS. IF YOU ARE NT USING RED BELL PEPPERS JUST PUREE THE CHICK PEAS , PIECES OF ONION AND GARLIC UNTIL SMOOTH.

ADD TAHINI AND A LITTLE WATER RESERVED FROM THE COOKED CHICK PEAS AND PUREE AGAIN. ADD MORE COOKING WATER IF REQUIRED TO GET A CONSISTENCY YOU LIKE.

ADD THE LIME JUICE AND MORE SALT TO TASTE.

ADD THE MOLASSES IF YOU ARE USING IT.

POUR INTO A SERVING BOWL. DRIZZLE WITH MOLASSES, OLIVES OIL AND GARNISH WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND CAYENNE PEPPER IF DESIRED.

SERVE WITH PITA CHIPS, KAND OR SURAN WAFERS EVEN WARM PITA BREAD.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/flame-roasted-red-pepper-hummus-with-pomegranate/

BISCUIT AMBODA

BISCUIT AAMBODA-LENTIL FRITTERS

BISCUIT AAMBODA-LENTIL FRITTERS

Ingredients

This strange sounding fritter is the Konkan version of the South Indian doughnut shaped vada, made with white Urad Dal. They are easier to make than vada’s because they don’t require shaping. Served as a snack with tea instead of ‘biscuits’, they cook very quickly but should be served straight out of a fryer.

Adding lentils with skin on makes the fritters crispier.

Ingredients for approximately 30 1.25 inch pieces

250 grams urad dal or split Bengal gram

4 tablespoons black urad (urad with the skin on) (optional)

2 tablespoon grated white coconut, if using defrosted squeeze all liquid out of it

6 fresh green curry leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ginger root peeled and finely chopped

2 Indian green chilies chopped very finely and rubbed with 1 teaspoon salt

salt to taste

Vegetable Oil for frying

Instructions

Wash and soak both urad dals together in excess water for 2.5 hours . Wash and drain completely.

Grind to a smooth paste 5-7 minutes, turning the motor on an off to scrape the insides with a spatula. Add water, a tablespoon as a time (max about 1/4 cup) to produce a thick, fluffy and creamy batter. The batter should not be runny. You should be able to scoop it up with a spoon.

Stir in coconut, curry leaves, ginger and salted green chillies. Taste for salt. If you are serving these with a salted chutney adjust levels accordingly.

Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a small wok or kadai on medium flame.

Drop 1 tablespoon of batter into the hot oil. If it sizzles and rises to the top the oil is ready for use.

Cook the first fritter till golden brown, drain, cool 1 minute and taste to make sure the insides have cooked through. The interior should be spongy.

Using a serving spoon drop about 1 tablespoon in the rough shape of a ball into the hot oil, holding the spoon close to the oil as possible. Fry till golden on all sides. Fry 4-5 at a time or as many as you are comfortable handling but do not over crowd the kadai.

Drain completely and serve immediately with ketchup, white coconut chutney or white ginger chutney.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/biscuit-amboda/

EXPRESS PIZZA DOUGHNUTS

INGREDIENTS FOR 6 5-6 INCH DOUGHNUTS

2.5 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 cup warm water

1 tbsp olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1.5 cup red pasta sauce mixed with a teaspoon of grated garlic

1/2 cup fresh sliced cherry tomatoes (optional)

1 cup grated cheese (melting cheese such as buffalo mozzarella)

Herbs fresh or dried such as basil oregano

Stir water yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl and allow it to sit for 5 minutes until it is foamy.

Add olive oil and flour to form a wet dough. Knead well about 8 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in the bowl to rise about 75 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450F. Prepare baking tray. Dust it with semolina or rawa

Remove dough and divide into 6 pieces.

Dust surface and piece of dough with flour and roll each piece into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Using a doughnut cutter cut your desired shape.

Repeat with all remaining pieces. Place doughnuts on the baking tray. Spread red sauce on all of them. Top with cheese and dried herbs. If using fresh herbs you can add it after the doughnuts have baked.

Bake until cooked through 20 minutes.

Serve warm.

 

IDLIS IN JACKFRUIT LEAF CUPS/KOTTE KADUBU/HITTU

IDLIS IN JACKFRUIT LEAF CUPS/KHOTTE KADUBU/HITTU

IDLIS IN JACKFRUIT LEAF CUPS/KHOTTE KADUBU/HITTU

Ingredients

Idlis are often associated with Tamil cuisine even though Udupi, the symbolic home of idli is in Karnataka.

Karnataka has many unusual idlis and dosas (called Poley). One of them is Hittu, a fluffy idli batter that's poured into molds made from jackfruit leaves.

Jackfruit is very popular in India and while its fruit has many culinary uses its leave are used to prepare a special idli in Konkani and Kannada homes. Jackfruit leaves are called Khotto or Hittu in Konkani and Khotte Kadubu in Kannada.

In a sense this idli is a food shared by many communities. While it is associated with Karnataka, Marathi speaking families also prepare this delicacy. Turmeric and banana leaves are also used to prepare idlis like Taushe and Kadamb made from cucumber, Patholi, a thin steamed dosa and Erayde a sweet dish made for Nagapanchami.

In Orissa Haldi Patra Enduri is a variety of Idli made using turmeric leaves to celebrate the first born. In Mangalore a similar idli made with jackfruit leaves is called Gunda.

Hittu idlis are made in cups fashioned out jackfruit leaves pinned together using pins made from coconut shells, toothpicks and broomstick pins.

These idlis are served for various courses, breakfast, lunch and as a snack. They can be served with chutney and sambhar, with melted butter and ghee, warm coconut oil, rasam and with a ground spice mix or podi. Turmeric leaves have a strong aroma that is infused into the idli as it steams. Jackfruit leaves are far milder so the idlis can be additionally flavored with various spices.

Day old Hittu idlis are diced and tossed with whole tempered spices, crispy pan fried and sprinkled with powdered spices, while fresh idlis are turned into dessert by soaking them in a sweetened coconut milk.

Makes 12-13 Idlis

3/4 cup split black lentil (urad dal)

1.5 cups of rice semolina (Bombay rava, sooji, idli rava, rice rava)

Salt to taste

36 jackfruit leaves and 15-16 broomstick pins or small toothpicks

Instructions

Soak urad dal for 40 minutes. Rinse and drain completely.

Grind them using as little water as possible into a smooth paste.

Transfer the ground batter into a larger mixing bowl- the batter will rise overnight so make sure you use a bowl that can accommodate 4-5 inches of fermentation. Stir in the semolina and mix well.

Add 1 cup of water and stir again.

Cover the bowl with a loose lid, set it in a dry but cool part of the kitchen and let it rise overnight on a cool day and 7-8 hours on a hot day.

Use 4 leaves for each jackfruit cup. Lay them together to form a square, layering one end over the other to form the base of the cup. Pin the base together using 2-3 pins. Then turn the other ends inwards and gather them together to forma . cup. Tie each leaf to the other using a small pin. Grease the cups lightly with ghee or unflavored vegetable oil.

Prepare your idli steamer.

Stir the batter again. Add a little more water if required. Your batter should be the consistency of a fluffy cake batter.

Place the jackfruit molds in the steamer and fill with batter leaving about 1/4 inch off the rim of the cups.

Cover the steamer, close and steam them for 20-30 minutes on a medium flame until the tops look set. Remove one and check for doneness.

Serve these idlis hot. You can peel the leaves off 2-3 minutes after they've been removed from the steamer and sprinkle with podi, ghee or serve them in their cups with a side of coconut chutney and rasam or sambhar.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/idlis-in-jackfruit-leaf-cupskotte-kadubuhittu/

Urad, Moong, Toor Dal Vadi: Mixed Lentil Fritters

Dal Vadi

Dal Vadi

Ingredients

1/4 cup - channa dal

1cup - moong dal

1/4 cup - urad Dal

1/4 cup - Toor dal

1/2 teaspoon - Coriander seeds

Half inch piece of fresh Ginger, peeled

1/4 cup freshly grated coconut

1 dried Kashmiri chilli stalk removed

1/2 cup coriander leaves

2-3 1 inch long Indian Green chillies or to taste

8 fresh green curry leaves, chopped

FOR TEMPERING

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Pinch asafetida

Salt to taste

Vegetable Oil for deep frying

Instructions

Wash lentils and soak them separately in bowls of tap water overnight.

Drain lentils, wash again, drain completely. From the toor dal reserve two tablespoons of whole lentils. Grind all and the remaining to a coarse paste. Add water carefully. You want a thick batter almost like a soft dough that can be molded into balls. These are more dense than medu vadas and will take longer to fry.

Make a smooth paste of coriander seeds, coconut, ginger and red chilli to a smooth paste and stir into the lentil puree.

Stir in chopped coriander leaves and chopped curry leaves.

Heat oil in a small tempering spoon or skillet on high heat. Add cumin seeds and cook 60 seconds. Ad asafetida and switch off the flame. Cool and pour over the lentil batter. Stir well.

Taste for salt.

Make small 2 inch size balls from the thick dough. Flatten them and lay them on a tray. Keep covered with a dry cloth.

Heat 2 inches of oil in small wok or kadai on high heat.

When oil is hot but not smoking lower flame to medium.

Drop one fritter in the oil and cook until golden. Taste for salt and doneness. Adjust.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Serve hot with tomato ketchup or coconut chutney.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/dal-vadi-mixed-lentil-fritters/

Candied Walnuts and Pecans

Candied Walnuts and Pecans

Candied Walnuts and Pecans

Ingredients

A great way to use leftover egg whites. These candied nuts are excellent in salads, with hot fudge sundaes, as a cocktail appetizer and a snack when you feel like grazing.

2 egg whites

250 grams walnuts, skins lightly removed or pecan wholes

1/4 cup sugar powder in a mixer

1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional powdered cumin/cayenne pepper/chai masala/pumpkin pie spice mix/allspice/Tabasco sauce/habanero sauce

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the nuts with the egg whites in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Lay out the nuts one by one on the parchment lined trays. Bake 25 minutes or until golden, fragrant and crisp.

Cool completely and refrigerate in airtight boxes, bottles or zipped bags. Keeps for several weeks -if you can resist them!

http://www.taradeshpande.in/candied-walnuts-and-pecans/

Home-made Ricotta with fresh herbs

Home-made Ricotta with fresh herbs

Home-made Ricotta with fresh herbs

Ingredients

Ricotta is traditionally made from the whey of cow, buffalo and sheep's milk in Italy. Ricotta is processed differently depending on its intended use. Some ricottas are sweeter while others are dried and salted. Ricotta is used for all kinds of Italian dishes both sweet and savory- tarts, salads, pastas,spreads, cheesecake, and bruschetta.

Paneer often compared to ricotta is made from whole-milk and is commercially drained and shaped into a product that can be sliced. Citric juices are used to split milk in India to keep it vegetarian but rennet an animal enzyme, is employed in many parts of Europe.

I use neither. I prefer buttermilk. I think it produces a far smoother and fresh cheese. They key is to use day old buttermilk which is still not sour but just acidic enough to split your milk.

1 liter whole-milk plain

200 ml fresh heavy cream

1/2 liter plain unflavored full fat or reduced one day old buttermilk, cold

For the Ricotta spread

1 cup chopped white bulbs of green onions or scallions

1/4 cup chopped green stalks of the scallions

1 cup finely chopped rocket or arugula leaves

1/2 finely chopped fresh dill or sepu

1 teaspoon zest of lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the ricotta

Heat the whole-milk and cream in a large saucepan on medium heat. Keep a large bowl and fine sieve handy. When the milk reaches a boil pour 3/4 liter of cold buttermilk into it. Switch off the flame and let it sit 15 minutes. The milk should split.

Switch on the heat again and stir. Boil 2 minutes then turn off flame and slowly strain the contents of the sauce pan into the sieve over a large heat proof bowl.

Return the whey liquid to the fire and boil again. Add remaining buttermilk and boil. Strain one more time over the ricotta in the strainer.

if you wish to boil only once add all the buttermilk to the cream and milk. The leftover whey from the first or second boil is equally delicious though the latter is less fatty. You can make soups and dals like my Three Lentil Buttermilk Curry.

Cover the cheese in the sieve and allow it to drain for 20 minutes. Then refrigerate in the sieve itself over a bowl for 3-4 hours until fully drained and chilled.

Whip using a whisk or with a hand or stand mixer until smooth. Add all the herbs, zest and a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Taste and season with more salt if required.

Spread this dip on crackers, sandwiches and ofcourse bruschetta. This is delicious with the flame roasted bell pepper and garlic bruschetta and tomato bruschetta. Find the recipes for these on my blog.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/home-made-ricotta-with-fresh-herbs/

BELL PEPPER AND GARLIC BRUSCHETTA

BELL PEPPER AND GARLIC

BELL PEPPER AND GARLIC

Ingredients

4 WHOLE YELLOW, RED OR ORANGE BELL PEPPERS

2 TABLESPOONS BALSAMIC VINEGAR

3 CLOVES OF GARLIC VERY FINELY SLIVERED

SEA SALT AND PEPPER TO SEASON

ITALIAN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

6 SLICES OF DAY OLD TUSCAN, SOURDOUGH SLICES OR 3 4-5 INCH ROUND KADAK/BRUN PAO (an irani style bread available in India)

3 TABLESPOONS CHOPPED CHIVES

Instructions

USING TONGS FLAME THE BELL PEPPERS OVER AN OPEN FIRE OR ON A GRILL UNTIL CHARRED ON ALL SIDES. LET COOL COMPLETELY ON A TRAY OR IN A SMALL BROWN PAPER BAG WHICH WILL HELP THE SKINS COME OFF FASTER.

PEEL THE BELL PEPPERS, CORE THEM AND REMOVE ALL SEEDS AND STALKS. SLICE THICKLY.

COMBINE THE SLIVERED GARLIC, BALSAMIC VINEGAR AND 1/4 CUP OF OLIVE OIL IN A CONTAINER WITH THE RED BELL PEPPERS. ADD 1/2 TEASPOON OF SEA SALT. COVER AND MARINATE IN THE REFRIGERATOR 4 HOURS OR OVERNIGHT.

REMOVE PEPPERS FROM THE FRIDGE, TOSS AND SEASON TO TASTE WITH SALT AND PEPPER.

FLAME THE BREAD SLICES ON A GRILL OR OPEN FLAME UNTIL LIGHTLY SMOKY AND FRAGRANT.

DIVIDE THE BELL PEPPER ANTIPASTO OVER THE BREAD SLICES. GARNISH WITH CHIVES AND DRIZZLE MORE OLIVE OIL IF DESIRED.

SERVE IMMEDIATELY.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/bell-pepper-and-garlic-bruschetta/