Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fireball Chutney!

Okay, so it's not actually that hot, but with a deep red color, this toasty, spicy chutney looks like the devil's favorite condiment. Goes great with any type of Indian dish that calls for a little added flavor and heat.

Prep time: 1/4 cocktail

1/4 cup chana dal (a type of split chickpea that's available at an Indian grocer or online)
8 dried red chilies (you can dial this up or down depending on personal preference)
8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate (I use Tamicon brand, others brands may vary in potency, so be careful!)
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2/3 tsp salt

Over medium-low to medium heat, warm up the dal in a frying pan. Stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, fully toast (but don't burn!) the seeds.

Transfer the seeds to a coffee grinder and process into a smooth powder.

Transfer the chana dal powder and the other ingredients to a food processor and process until it's a smooth paste.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Amazing Jackfruit Tinga Tacos


Traditionally made with shredded chicken or beef in a spicy, smoky, and savory sauce, tinga is not dissimilar from barbecue. And, like barbecue, this dish is best served with beer. A lot of beer. In fact, I learned how to cook the chicken version of this dish while living in the Yucatan from a short, plump local woman named Lily. She drank a lot of beer when she taught me how to make it. So I know it's authentic. Logic.

You can find jackfruit at many grocery stores and Asian markets. At grocery stores, it is often sold next to the canned fruit.

Prep time: 3 cocktails (or 6 cocktails if you drink like Lily)

5 TBSP oil, divided
2 14-ounce cans jackfruit, rinsed, drained and lightly shredded
1 very large onion, peeled but not cut up
1/2 tsp salt
8 cloves garlic, minced and divided
4 medium tomatoes, cored but not chopped
3/4 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp dried allspice berries
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
8 whole cloves
3 bay leaves
1 TBSP oregeno
1/2 cup veggie stock, store-bought or homemade
The sauce (but not the peppers) from one small 7-ounce can of chipotles in adobo sauce
1 batch homemade tortillas
Pico de gallo
Mexican pickled onions
Black beans and rice (optional)
Avocado (optional)
Mexican crema or sour cream (optional)

Cut the onion in half. Slice the first half into thin "half-moon" slices. Chop the other half.

Heat 3 TBSP oil over medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add shredded jackfruit. Saute jackfruit about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add 3/4 of the chopped half of the onion. Continue to saute another 10 minutes or so until the jackfruit is starting to get nicely browned, then add salt and half of the garlic. Saute 3 more minutes then remove from heat.

In a medium saucepan, combine tomatoes, the last little bit of chopped onion, and half of the remaining garlic over medium heat (without any oil). Cook until the tomato skin wrinkles and starts to fall off the fruit, gently stirring occasionally so all sides are wrinkled. This will take about 15 minutes. Then transfer to a food processor and buzz into a sauce.

While the tomatoes cook, combine peppercorns, allspice, cumin seeds, and cloves in a spice grinder and powder them all.

Add remaining 2 TBSP oil to a large pan and put it on medium heat. When oil shimmers, add the 'half moon' onions and saute until transparent. Add the last of the garlic and saute one more minute. Add the tomato puree and stir well. Once it begins to boil, add spice mixture from the grinder plus the bay leaves, oregano, veggie stock, and adobo. Cook until you have a marinara-like consistency, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add jackfruit mixture and cook 3 more minutes and adjust salt if needed. Remove from heat and build yer' tacos. Drink beer. Love life.