Thursday, March 15, 2012

Yes...Indian Primal Appetizers!

After turning primal I have come to realize that it is difficult to eat healthy when you are out traveling and it takes some serious effort to eat so! This weekend I attended a potluck party where I was determined to make my dish primal, so I opted to make these appetizers, stuffed jalapenos and grilled shrimp. They were easy to make, less time consuming (I didn't want to spend a good deal of time in the kitchen) and turned out to be hit with everyone! One thing common in both these dishes is that I used the broil mode of the oven to cook them, I don't know the exact technical differences between broiling or grilling, but imho broiling gives the closest effect of grilling indoors! It does generate a lot of smoke indoor so be prepared for that smoke alarm!

Stuffed Jalapenos
This appetizer is not completely primal because it includes chickpea flour, Indian chickpea flour is usually made after hulling and splitting the beans, which are then roasted and ground into flour this takes takes care of anti-nutrients concentrated in seed coat. Stuffed chillies make a regular appearance in my mom's kitchen during chilli season but I couldnt remember the recipe very well and didnt want to call her at an odd time, so I made them based on this recipe from Jugalbandi. I modified the recipe by completely skipping the tempering step, but the tempering can added to the stuffing before filling in the jalapenos for added flavor. One important lesson I learned while making this was 'ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES WHILE HANDLING JALAPENOS' yes it needs to be yelled out because after I was done stuffing the jalapenos, my hands burned for over two hours! This in spite of having oiled my hands with coconut oil!! It was only after I applied some after-shave lotion did I feel better! Moving on to the recipe, it serves 20 people or so but can be easily halved for less number of people.

30 mid sized jalapenos
2 cups besan (chick-pea flour available in Indian grocery stores)
1 cup grated coconut (I used frozen)
1 and 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
5 Tbsp sesame seeds toasted
1 tsp turmeric powder
Juice of one lemon
1tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Wash the jalapenos well and pat them dry. Chop the tops off, make one slit lengthwise and remove the seeds and pith from inside (particularly important if that jalapeno variety is hot), keep aside. Roast the besan on medium heat till it gives off a nutty fragrance and becomes slightly dark in color (this can also be done in the oven at 350F for 10 mins). Once the besan is well roasted add coconut, cilantro, sesame seeds, turmeric, lemon juice and salt, combine everything till well mixed. Now using the olive oil make a stiff dough such that if held in a fist tightly it holds shape, use olive oil only as needed by adding little at a time. Now stuff the jalapenos with this dough and line them on a broiler pan. Brush them slightly with oil and broil them till the surface is charred. Once done flip them and let the other side cook. These are done quickly, they require only about 5 minutes on each side. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Grilled Shrimp
This is another fairly simple recipe, all I did was marinated the shrimp in green cilantro-mint chutney and broiled them. The key here is marination time, the longer you marinate the better they will taste.

40 jumbo shrimp (wild caught)
2 cups packed cilantro
handful of mint leaves 
10 cloves of garlic
1.5 inch ginger piece
10 green chillies (I used small ones)
 3 tbsp lime juice
1tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Clean and de-vein the shrimp, pat them completely dry. I left the tails on, you can choose to remove them. In a blender or a spice grinder make a thick-smooth paste of the rest of the ingredients using olive oil only, do not add any water at all. Marinate the shrimp in this paste for a minimum of 30 minutes (overnight is preferred). Before cooking, thread them on pre-soaked bamboo skewers and arrange them on a broiler pan. Brush them with olive oil, broil them for about 8 minutes on each side till the marinade has dried out and appears very slightly charred. Keep a close eye while in the oven as they get cooked very fast. To serve, arrange them on a plate, sprinkle some lemon juice on top.

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