Tag Archives: chili

Crispy Chili Garlic Baby Corn

20 Dec

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My trips to Mumbai resemble a literal walk down a food memory lane. My nostalgia surges and I am on a rampant mission to eat at all the places I fondly remember eating at, in the late 80’s and 90’s. The Mumbai dining scene has evolved considerably in the last 5-10 years.  Celebrity chefs from all over have flocked here to gain a share of the growing middle and upper income groups wallets and palates. Yet, it is not the fine dining and eclectic cuisine that I crave to eat here. It’s the bold and tangy street fare, the ambiance and culinary marvels of the old Irani cafes, and the delectable seafood at the down-to-earth coastal restaurants that have me ALWAYS coming back for more.

One cuisine that’s unique to India and is a MUST EAT on each trip is “Indian Chinese” known as “Chinese food” in India.  Chinese food in India is essentially food that is an adaptation of Chinese seasonings and cooking techniques to Indian tastes. This cuisine is said to have been developed over a century ago by a small Chinese community that lived in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Indian Chinese is a bold cuisine that harmoniously unites Indian and Chinese spices to season vegetables, meats, noodles and rice. It’s a mainstream cuisine in India and can be found at every place from a hawkers cart for under $2 to a five-star restaurant for $50-100 a person.

One of my favorite Indian Chinese dish is Chili Garlic Potatoes. Earlier this week, I was at the Willingdon Club of Mumbai indulging in the garlicky and tangy flavor of Chili Garlic Potatoes when I decided to recreate the flavors  at home with baby corn. The recipe below is derived from a few modifications to Sailu’s Kitchen Chili Baby Corn. It’s a piquant appetizer, that’s sure to warm you up on a cold night.

Crispy Chili Garlic Baby Corn Recipe:
Recipe Adapted from Sailu’s Kitchen Chilli Baby Corn
Time: 35-40 minutes
Yield: Appetizer sized portion for 4 people

Ingredients:
Fried Baby Corn:
3 tablespoons of corn starch
½ teaspoon garlic paste
½ teaspoon ginger paste
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ – ¾ teaspoon salt (per taste)
3 cups baby corn cut into 1 inch pieces (washed and dried) (See note)
2-3 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil for pan frying

Sauce:
1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
¼ cup green onions (whites and greens), thinly sliced + extra for garnish
7-8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bird’s eye chilies/That chili (Optional) (See note)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
½ medium to large green pepper, diced
¼ cup tomato ketchup
2 ½ teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon Siracha sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste or Schezwan sauce (See note)
¼ cup of water
1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water

Notes:

  • I used fresh baby corn. If you cannot find fresh baby corn, large grocery stores and Asian markets carry canned baby corn. Drain, wash and thoroughly dry the canned baby corn before you use it.
  • Bird’s eye chilies, Chili Garlic Paste and Schezwan sauce are available in Asian markets and some large grocery stores. Eliminate the bird’s eye chilies if you do not want to make this too spicy.

Method:
1) In a mixing bowl combine the cornstarch, ginger paste, garlic paste, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of water and mix well. You want to have a thin batter that creates a thin coating on the baby corn.
2) In a large skillet heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. Coat each baby corn piece in the batter. Pan-fry the baby corn in batches until they are light brown. Set aside the fried baby corn on a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.
3) In the same skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Now add the green onions, garlic, ginger and birds eye chilies and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the garlic is golden brown.
4) Add the green pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes until the green pepper is tender.
5) Add the tomato ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, Siracha, and chili garlic paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
6) Add ¼ cup of water and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Add the corn starch and water mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes until the raw corn starch taste dissipates.  Taste the sauce and add more soy or chili sauce per your taste.
7) Add the fried baby corn and toss to ensure that all the pieces are well coated with the sauce. Cook for another 1-2 minutes before transferring the baby corn to a serving platter. Garnish with a few sliced green onions and serve hot as a snack or an appetizer.

Chili-Cheese Wonton Cups

3 Dec

Chili-Cheese Wonton Cups

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap- happiest season of all”

    – Andy Williams

Yes the magic of the holidays is right around the corner. Unfortunately, this most wonderful time comes coupled with the stress of entertaining hordes of guests that show up with the holidays. The key to survive is to keep things simple, yet delicious. This is a great time to take some help from your favorite food stores and create semi-homemade menus. The easiest way to entertain is to host a cocktail party with exciting drinks and mouthwatering appetizers. It keeps things uncomplicated, especially since several appetizers can be made and assembled ahead of time.

No cocktail party is ever complete without at least one or two cheese-centric Hors d’oeuvres. While anything with warm, melted cheese tastes delicious presentation is also crucial at these cocktail parties. So instead of a classic cracker or crostini topped with a melted cheese mixture, why not delight your guests by serving up some cheesy-goodness in an edible mini-cup? These chili-cheese wonton cups with a bubbly mixture of cheese brightened up with fresh chives and a hint of earthy cumin is a scrumptious and exquisite looking appetizer.

Chili-Cheese Wonton Cups Recipe
Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home’s Chili-Cheese Wonton Cups
Yields: 24 wonton cups
Time: Active: 10 minutes; Baking 18-20 minutes.

Ingredients:
24 wonton wrappers
Butter-flavored non-stick cooking spray (Recommended: PAM)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded pepper-jack cheese (See note)
½ cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 large jalapeno (or 2 small ones), seeded and minced
1 ½ tablespoons chives, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
½  teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
5-6 green or black pitted olives, thinly sliced.

Notes:

  • I used regular pepper jack cheese, but you can use a lower fat version or substitute with cheddar cheese.
  • Once you master how to make the wonton cups, you can get creative and play around with the edges of the wonton to create slightly different shapes. The third cup in the picture has a more leafy effect as I played around with the edges to create it.
  • The cups (without the filling) can be made a day in advance and should be stored in an air-tight container.

Method:
1) Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree F. Coat a miniature muffin tin (24 mini muffins) with cooking spray and set aside.
2) Gently press 1 wanton wrapper into each muffin tin to form a cup. Make sure you press the edges down onto the sides, as they have a tendency to flap in while baking – forming a deformed cup. Wonton wrappers can tear easily so be patient and gentle with them. If you have a small tear, do not worry, just pinch it together. Spritz all the cups with the butter-flavored spray and bake for 8-9 minutes until the edges are golden. (Don’t wait till these are fully baked as you will be baking them again after the cheese mixture is filled into them.)
3) While the wonton cups are baking, in a small bowl combine the cheeses, jalapeno, chives, salt, cumin and pepper. Once everything is well combined set it aside.
4) Remove the cups from the oven and spoon the cheese mixture into each of the cups. Top with 1-2 olive slices and bake for 10 minutes or longer until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm. 

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