Saturday, November 29, 2014

Russian Salad and some Mayo Magic

Russian salad is such a forgiving and versatile recipe. It can take all kinds of crispy veggies , some fruits, even a few kinds of dry fruits mixed in with some mayonnaise and always tastes awesome.

When I make Russian salad, I put any combination of cabbage, potato, carrot, cucumber, peas, apple, mango, grapes, chickpeas, raisins, almonds and/or walnuts. Cabbage is a must for me, rest of the ingredients change with season. You can pineapple if you like, it will add some more crunch. I sometimes add a tablespoon or two of cream at the end, but that's optional. 

I prefer raw veggies, except potatoes and peas, which I always boil; but carrots and cabbage can also be boiled for a couple of minutes to make them slightly softer. I prefer to boil cabbage when it is slightly bitter; boiling reduces the bitterness. 

Mayonnaise is the component that can make or break the Russian salad. I always make mayonnaise at home. I used to make mayo in the blender and it took around 20 minutes to make it. Then I saw the method used by Matt Preston in Master Chef. It uses an immersion blender and takes just 2 minutes to emulsify the egg and oil, and at most 5 minutes to get a rich, creamy mayonnaise. I will be describing both the methods, but if you ask me, I will be following Matt Preston's method in future. 

Matt Preston used grapeseed oil and some mustard in mayonnaise. I used soyabean oil which is used for daily cooking in my home. It works.




1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
Juice of lemon or 1 tbsp vinegar  (lemon tastes better)
3/4 cup or more oil

Traditional Method 

Place the egg in the blender. Add the salt, black pepper, sugar, lemon juice. Blend until the egg is frothy. Start adding oil drop by drop with the blender still running. When you have added around half the oil, the egg and oil will begin to emulsify. Start adding oil in a thin stream until the mayonnaise thickens to the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. Refrigerate until you need to use it. 

This whole method can be done using the electric beaters too. 

Matt Preston Method

Put the egg in jar. Take care not to break the yolk. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice and oil, taking care not to break the yolk. Place the immersion blender such that the yolk is under the blade. Keeping the immersion blender in its position, turn it on and see magic. The mayonnaise immediately emulsifies. Move the blender up to incorporate the oil. Pure , rich and creamy mayonnaise is ready. Refrigerate unitl you need to use it.

Assembling the salad

Combine all the veggies, fruits and/or dry fruits in a bowl. Add the mayonnaise. Combine and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Roasted Chillies

No one in my home is a fan of eating raw green chillies. Me and mom sometimes do clean up one to eat with daal chawal, but that is pretty rare. We love pickles to go with vegetable dishes and daals. We are not fan of putting green chillies in food too, because as soon as my dad and brother see that green chilli, they started feeling the heat of the chilli, even though it might be there just for garnish purposes.

Therefore, there are times when there are quite a few chillies in our refrigerator and we are at a loss about what to do with them. I have made Hyderabadi style green chilli (which was my second post on this blog, ah how the times fly), but they rot after some while. I needed to find something else to do with those chillies.

Then I landed upon the David Lebovitz's Roasted Pepper recipe. Somehow it clicked. The idea of a beautiful smoked pepper, drizzled with olive oil was too appealing. Since mom cannot take any pickles these days, because her doctor forbade her to eat anything sour or tangy, she needed something to replace them. I made these for her.

See that pretty plate with a golden border. It dates bake to my mom's marriage. It was part of her jahaiz ka dinner set and still looks fabulous. 

The best part about this recipe is that you can make as many or as few chillies you like. I made only three (after making a test batch with only one). David Lebovitz used red and yellow chillies. I had only green ones and hence used them.

Chillies are roasted in a pan, but you can try roasting  directly on fire. You can also roast them on a grill on coals while making a barbecue dinner. The chillies are soft and mushy after being roasted, but hold there shape well. 



Green Chillies, as required
Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Olive oil, as required


Heat a heavy based frying pan. Place chillies on the pan. Let the chillies roast at medium low heat until the skin is charred. Turn over and repeat the process. Cook chillies on all sides.

Remove chillies and place hot in an airtight box. Close the box. The steam build up in the box will loosen the charred skin from the chillies. 

When chillies are cold, make a slit lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a spoon. Remove the charred skin. It might require a little effort, but usually it will just slide off.  Give the chillies a quick dip in cold water to remove any left over seeds if you like; I didn't do this.

Place chillies in a bowl in a single layer. Sprinkle a little salt and black pepper over the chillies. Drizzle chillies with olive oil. Serve with rice or vegetables. Store in refrigerator. 

You can roast chillies and store them for up to a week in the refrigerator, and sprinkle the salt and pepper , and drizzle oil when required.