pickled peppers

“Life is the sum of all your choices”
Albert Camus

Given the choice, I would cook and bake all day with olive oil as my happy cooking medium … SIGH if only I didn’t find the price a little prohibitive. My dream came true when Sharon brought me a selection of the recently launched Borges Olive Oil product range {more here}. The bottles staring down from the shelf in the living room tempt me {yes, the kitchen is still ‘work in progress’}, and of particular interest is the Extra Light Virgin Olive Oil that Borges has developed specially for the Indian market. It’s a blend of refined and virgin olive oils, making it ideal for Indian cooking.

I was skeptical as to whether it would withstand the high heat for deep frying but decided to give it a shot since another product was awaiting review … a gulab jamun mix from GITS! The marriage of 2 reviews together inspired me, so I set off to ‘knead the dough’ to make Gulab Jamuns, also known as ‘waffle balls’!

There are many things I stay away from. Top of the list is deep frying, unless of course it is  Beignets & Donuts, or maybe Churros; ready to eat packaged foods is also not quite me. My mantra is very much ‘Do It From Scratch‘, and I rarely deviate from my path. Some time back I received an interesting foodie parcel from GITS, a company at the forefront of the instant foods revolution in India. It had a selection of ready to cook, as well as ready to eat foodstuff. A quick check of the fine print read no preservatives; I was happy to live with this for once. The gift bag had ready-to-eat Dal Makhani and Palak Paneer which were very impressive, and then yesterday I needed to make a quick dessert and the Gulab Jamun mix caught my glad eye! I wasn’t too convinced about how it would turn out but thought I would give it a shot, as it offered me a chance to deep fry in Extra Virgin Light Olive Oil!

Gulab jamun is one of Indias most popular desserts and is traditionally made out of evaporated milk blended with wheat flour, fried and soaked in sugar syrup. It jamun gets its brownish red color because of the sugar content in the milk powder or khoya. Gulab jamun originates from an Arabic dessert, Luqmat Al-Qadi {Arabic for “the judge’s bite”}, that became popular in the Indian Subcontinent during the Mughal era. Rosewater syrup is often used; however saffron syrup and honey are also common. The dessert also became popular in Turkish-speaking areas, spreading to the Ottoman Empire.

The result was most unexpected and made me eat humble pie. I have never eaten such delicious ‘dough balls deep fried and soaked in syrup, as Allesio said on twitter; we have discussed jalebis and ras malai in the sweet past! The gulab jamuns were outstanding, with a generous addition of finely chopped dry fruits. that formed a part of the mix. They were excellent served chilled too. The box had instructions to make 25 little balls, but I made 16 and they were just right when ready. This is one product that I will certainly use in the future. My SIL asked me if the olive oil imparted any unnecessary flavour etc to this dessert. Surprisingly not! It is a clean, light olive oil and seems quite ideal for Indian cooking.

Going backwards, for lunch I made these cottage cheese quesadillas, the cottage cheese marinated in an extra virgin olive oil marinade which I got from my sis. It’s a staple I use, and good quality EVOO really makes a difference. These quesadillas are a great hit with the kids, and can easily be made into non vegetarian ones too. They taste wonderful stuffed to the gills with pickled jalapeños. Were especially good crisp and warm as it was pouring cats and dogs. Recipe follows, as does the recipe for the pickled peppers, which are last, and certainly not the least!

Pickled jalapeños is something I have been making for the last 2-3 years, but couldn’t  recall  the name of the blog I found the recipe at. Then saw it at David Lebovitzs while googling, and decided it’s a great  recipe to share. Tangy and sharp, pickled peppers are part of our foodie existence and at any given time I have one jar ready in the fridge, and the next undergoing pickling. We can’t live without them. The kids love them to bits, especially the daughter, and the peppers are an inherent part of their every meal! In India, it is during the monsoons {or the rainy season} that these bright green peppers flood the market. Now is the best time to bottle them!


Cottage Cheese & Roasted Bell Pepper Quesadillas
Makes 12 wraps
500gms cottage cheese, cut into 2″ strips
5-6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil {I used Borges from here}
1 tbsp dried oregano
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
12 small whole wheat tortillas {I used 5″ chapatis/Indian flatbread/rotis}
1 each roasted red and yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 green capsicum, julienned
Pickled jalapeños {recipe follows}
Cheddar cheese, or cheese slices
In a large bowl whisk the olive oil with the minced garlic, oregano, lime juice, red chili flakes and salt. It should be slightly extra salty and very tangy as cottage cheese is very bland.
Leave it marinate for 30 minutes. {I often leave this in the fridge overnight, for both the cottage cheese and chicken variations. Cuts down the work the next day}

Turn into a large wok and stir fry gently on high heat until all the liquid evaporates. Let cool slightly.
Lay a flour tortilla flat. Grate some cheese over it, or place a cheese slice across. Scatter a few juliennes of green capsicum, followed by a scattering of pickled jalapeños. Top with a 2-3 tbsp of the cottage cheese filling, followed by the roasted bell peppers. Gently fold into half, and place on a hot griddle with a few drops of olive oil. Decrease heat to minimum, press the wraps down with a flat spoon for the cheese to seal the sides together. Turn and repeat for the other side, cooking each side for 2-3 minutes till slightly crisp.

Serve hot or warm.
Note: You can substitute the cottage cheese for boneless chicken strips for a non vegetarian version. This makes for nice lunch box fillers too.

Pickled Jalapeños
Adapted from David Lebovitz, who adapted it from Michael Symon’s Live to Cook by Michael Symon and Michael Ruhlman
300gms jalapeño peppers, sliced {I snip them with kitchen scissors}
1 cup apple cider vinegar {I’ve used white vinegar in the past & it works well}
1 cup water
1 tbsp peppercorns
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds {I forgot to add these}
2 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic, lightly bruised
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp sugar

Place the chopped jalapeños in a glass preserving jar.
In a non reactive saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.
Remove from heat and pour the brine over the peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible. {You can use them sooner, but Michael says they’re worth the wait... I agree totally}
Note: I store them in the fridge, but like anything preserved it’s always better to take your own precautions. Can according to jar manufacturers instructions.
Also, I like to add 2-3 whole slit sharp green chillies to the jar to increase the heat as the jalapeños we get here aren’t very hot.

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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