Thursday, January 29, 2009

Capsicum Masala Rice – Vah Chef Style

I follow www.vahrehvah.com for specific dishes. Sanjay Thumma, the chef, used to work with the ITC Sheraton Group in India (Park Sheraton, Chennai) and some of his recipes are mind-blowing. He now runs his own studio and publishes his videos in this website. This version of Capsicum Masala Rice was adapted from a user-recipe sent to his website. At first I found this man annoying with no skills of communication, but when I began paying attention, I realized he is a wonderfully talented chef. No wonder Park Sheraton hired him! And his site is completely free.

We love bell peppers of all colours. We love them in our pizzas, salads, pasta, stir fried vegetables, fried rices… and more than anything else, we love the green bell pepper sambar. I like eating them raw without dips too. That’s why I love my job in the kitchen, I get to snack on my share of raw vegetables while chopping and trimming them. Now and then I give S some raw carrots too.

I have never made Capsicum Masala Rice before. But S, during his Bombay days, ate Mallika Badrinath’s version of Capsicum Rice at his relative’s place and he has since then been in love with that dish. Sadly, he never got to eat it again after that. With one giant green capsicum left in our fridge, S and I were debating if it was going to be Sambar or Capsicum Masala Rice. He had a puppy-look on his face and so I caved. We are having Capsicum Masala Rice with Boondi Raita.

I have provided the link from where I borrowed this recipe. I am mentioning my measurements here.

Here’s what I used –
1. 2 ½ ‘azhakku’ basmati rice – There’s more information on azhakku measurements in our Sambar Podi recipe. Washed and soaked in cold water for 15-20 minutes.

2. Green chillis – 3 small nos; Elaichi – 2; Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece; Bayleaf – 1; Clove – 2 pieces

3. Urad dal – 2 teaspoons

4. Mustard – 1 teaspoon

5. Dhaniya seeds – 1 tablespoon

6. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

7. Dry red chillis – 5 nos

8. Coconut pieces – 2 of about 1 inch each

9. Peanuts – 3 tablespoons

10.Curry leaves – 4 to 5

11.Garam masala – ½ a teaspoon

12.Salt – as needed

13.Capsicum – 1 big(green), cut into bite size chunks

14.For the garnish – cashews and peanuts roasted in ghee, coriander leaves

Here’s how you dish this up –
1. In a large vessel, bring about 10 cups of water to boil along with salt, a drop of oil, green chillis, elaichi, bayleaf, clove and cinnamon

2. Drain the presoaked rice and add it to the boiling water, and gently stir the rice making sure it doesn’t catch on. You can use precooked rice from your rice cooker or pressure cooker, but it is better to have non-mushy individual rice grains for this dish. I have thrown in the raw spices and chillis at this stage so the rice imbibes the flavour too.

3. When the rice is cooked, strain it in a colander and gently run some cold water on it to arrest any further cooking due to latent heat. Spray some oil on this rice and keep it aside.

4. In another vessel, dry roast the mustard, cumin, dhaniya, peanuts, red chillis, curry leaf, coconut pieces and urad dal. You can use a tablespoon of coconut powder or frozen grated coconut if you want to. This sounded like an optional ingredient but I chose to add it as grated coconut gives fine consistency to masalas.

5. Cool these dry roasted ingredients, and blend them together into a coarse powder.

6. To this, add the garam masala, mix and keep aside.

7. Heat some ghee or butter in a vessel and begin sautéing the capsicum pieces. Make sure you don’t over cook them, they definitely taste better when they are part cooked. S and I like it better if it is cruncy.

8. Add the ground masala to the capsicum, salt as needed and cook for a minute or two.

9. Make sure the heat is low, gradually add the rice to this. I had cooked 3 cups of rice. But I stopped adding the rice when I thought it was fine. Check the taste and add salt as needed. If you add too much rice, there may not be enough masala to coat every grain.

10.Garnish with the fried cashews and peanuts and coriander leaves. Serve with Boondi raita, Curd, or anything you think that would go well with this dish.

When I started out with this recipe, I wasn’t sure what the end result would be like. It tastes good. When I ground the masalas together, I remembered a very familiar flavour. Towards the end when I finally got to taste the dish, I figured it tasted somewhat like ‘Karuveplai Podi Sadam’ (Curry leaf powder rice), especially the Podi from Grand Sweets. Perhaps they add the same base ingredients and more Curry leaves. This flavour sure goes real well with the crunchy ghee fried capsicum. I’m not sure how the dish would taste with the red capsicums as shown in Vah Chef’s video. The red and orange capsicums are naturally sweeter than the green bell pepper and could have completely different flavours. The dish is not spicy and I would have sure thrown in a couple of more red chillis if I knew. So don’t worry if you can’t take too much spice, this ain’t spicy! This ground masala sounds like it can be used with any other curry too. I will try that too someday soon.

4 comments:

  1. cooking is very simple all u need is to know how to make venneer(hot water)

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  2. Haha, and what cuisine is this, lawyer's cuisine? ;)

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  3. Just because you write better English, you don't have to look down on people who only have a scattering knowledge of the language. At least, people understand what he communicates and find the recipes useful. That's what matters.

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  4. Glow worm, not looking down. I guess you're obviously not the kind who reads down till the end. Sad!

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