Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sam's Broccoli Based Green Chutney (or dip, or spread)

broccoli
Ever since coming to India 30 years ago, I've been fascinated by the amazing variety in Tamil cuisine - particularly, the chutneys, pachadis, kootus, and thuvayals.

I have only recently become bold enough to experiment with various types of South Indian vegetable purees (chutneys), and the results have surprised me.

As a curious amateur cook, I have been somewhat afraid of trying my hand at any of these as the process seems mysterious, the ingredients myriad and exotic, and most frightening of all, there seems to be no connection between what one starts out with and the finally edifying but unrecognizable product.

Here then is the result of my most recent dabbling...
Broccoli in Tamil is called Pachai Pookose, so this then is Sam's Pachai Pookose Thuvaiyal:

brussels sprouts
THE INGREDIENTS:
Broccoli, a head (~100 g)
Brussels sprouts, 4-5
Onion, 1 medium sized
Coriander leaves, a handful (fresh)
Garlic, 4 cloves
Green chillies, 2-4
Curry leaves (fresh), a handful
Mustard seeds (black), 1/2 teaspoon
Caraway seeds, 1/2 teaspoon (or cumin)
Peppercorns, 6-8
Red chilli  powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder, 1 large pinch
black mustard
Asafoetida powder, 1 small pinch
Sesame seeds (white), 1 teaspoon
Lime, a squeeze (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Indian gooseberry preserved in honey, 2 segments (1 teaspoon)
Oil, 3-4 tablespoons (sesame or rice bran preferred)
Water, 1 cup
Salt to taste.

PREPARATION:
Take the broccoli and divide it up into small segments discarding any thick stems. Cut the brussels sprouts in half. Dice the coriander leaves. Put all these three into a small saucepan, add the 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil. Add a couple of pinches of salt. Once boiling, reduce the flame to a simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes.

caraway seeds
In the meantime, on a cutting board, roughly dice the onion, cut the green chillies in half (discarding the stems), and peel and lightly crush the garlic cloves. Place a large saucepan on the stove and heat the oil.

COOKING IT UP!

Once the oil is fairly hot, throw in the mustard seeds, peppercorns, and caraway seeds. Once the mustard seeds start popping, add the garlic, the green chillies, and the curry leaves, and stir on a medium heat for one minute. Then, toss in the onion and add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt to taste, and asafoetida powder, and stir for another minute.
curry leaves

coriander leaves
Next, add the sesame seeds and again stir for about 30 seconds. By now, the broccoli should have cooked down fairly well but should not have gone dry. Pour the entire contents of the broccoli-brussels sprouts-coriander, with the remaining water, into the still cooking spice mixture. Stir the whole on a medium heat for no more than a minute. Remove from the stove and allow to cool.
green chillies

FINAL TOUCHES:
Once cooled, empty the entire contents into a mixer (blender). Add a small squeeze of lime/lemon juice, and last but not least, the honeyed Indian gooseberry, and frappĂ© the lot. At this stage, after a bit of a mix, I like to sneak a lick or two and make any small adjustments that may be needed, like a dash more salt, or whatever.

This broccoli based chutney can be used as a dip or spread, e.g. its great with boiled broccoli... In Tamil Nadu we usually enjoy this sort of thuvaiyal as the main side dish for our idlis and dosas.

NOTE: Those who have tender tongues may want to reduce the number of green chillies and the amount of red chilli powder. Variations on the theme are usually not disastrous, so feel free to go ahead and experiment!




The final product should look something like this.


It's very rich, chock a block with vitamins and antioxidants, and also, unfortunately, a bit high in triglycerides (but absolutely no cholesterol). If you do have trouble with triglycerides, then reduce the amount of oil!




Acknowledgement: Aruna Carr, my mentor, coach, consultant, and primary guinea pig!
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