Of late i find my mother and mother-in-law both experimenting with foods, trying out new combinations of vegetables for curries, that is almost surreal. They have no access to the Internet and my mother is a working woman who rarely watches TV (she most definitely believes it is the idiot box). And i find them dishing out delicious curries with never-heard-before combinations, and i am the one reading through dozens of food blogs. I was talking to my mother during the week and after some usual chit chat, she generally asks me what i made for lunch and if i have nothing to blabber about, i ask her the same. And she shocked me with a curry she made with chukka kura (sorry, but couldn't find the English name for this. It is a sour leafy vegetable and usually cooked with lentils similar to spinach) and sorakaya (bottle gourd). Has anyone ever heard of this combination before? I know I never did.
I mean, my mother was always cooking something new in the kitchen, because my dad was and is a a total foodie. (The foodie thing has probably been in my genes too, i discovered it quite late) My dad would bring home a new sweet or savoury item he found in one of the numerous sweet shops of the city and my mom would have cooked it (and a healthier version too) in her kitchen the next weekend. My dad just had to point out a new recipe from the booklet accompanying the Sunday newspaper and she would make it right that day. I have seen this for so many years and i shouldn't have been surprised, but i was. Maybe because she was doing this for more than 30 years and i expected her to stop, since we kids got married and she was back to cooking for two.
Seeing my mother and my mother-in-law cook these fabulous new things from old ingredients, and so modestly too, gives me inspiration all over again. Over time i want to be able to cook everything they do, learn the art of pairing ingredients, and enjoy the process. At least i am more observant now, and that should count for something. So for today's post, i observed my mother-in-law cook this capsicum fry last week and i tried it in my kitchen yesterday. It may not be the most delightful looking curry, but it tastes yum, is so easy to cook and goes well with both rice and flat breads. Why wait?
- 500 grams green capsicum/ bell pepper
- 2 medium sized onions, thinly sliced
- 2 green chilies, sliced
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon each mustard and cumin seeds
- pinch of turmeric
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 3 tablespoons chickpea flour/ senaga pindi/ besan
Remove the stem, seeds and white membrane from the capsicum and cut each in half vertically. Thinly slice each half and then cut the slices in half horizontally. Each capsicum piece is now about 2-3 inches long and less than a centimetre thick. Slice the onions and chilies. Heat oil in a wide, shallow pan or kadai on medium heat. Splutter the mustard and cumin seeds. Add the onion and chilies and saute till onions are soft. I left them on for too long till they browned, but that is not necessary as they cook further with the capsicum. When the onion is soft, add the capsicum and turmeric. Cover with a lid and allow to cook for 6-8 minutes until the capsicum turns soft. Stir occasionally in between.
Add the salt, chili powder and chickpea flour and mix to coat the vegetables evenly. Fry for two minutes on low heat and remove from flame. I added a spicy chickpea powder (made by dry roasting split chickpea lentils, cumin, sesame and garlic and grinding it into a powder) only because i did not have plain chickpea flour in stock. My mother in law used plain chickpea flour and both taste equally good.